Because the Maryland Wildlife Service printed its “Guide to Hunting and Trapping 2008-2009” relatively early, the state’s hunters will continue to have a daily bag limit of 12 mourning doves rather than 15 that West Virginia and Pennsylvania are allowing.

Everybody knew that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was seriously considering allowing the 15-bird limit and would likely make it official. The federal agency is attempting to stabilize the mourning dove hunting regulations throughout the states so that when harvest data is analyzed its biologists are comparing apples with apples, or in this case tailfeathers with tailfeathers.

The hunting guide could have easily carried wording such as “the daily limit will be 12, but will increase to 15 if that number is approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

In fact, the agency could still make that change. There are plenty of us to get the word out. And with the Internet now, shoot, people will know.

I love to hunt doves and then eat doves. I know I don’t hunt the best dove fields in the world. These mountains don’t hold as many of those iridescently feathered creatures as do the flatlands of the state.

Thus, there have been relatively few days that I have even been in position to bag a limit. There have been other days, though, when a limit was taken in short order.

It is on those latter days that the 15-bird limit would be appreciated.

By keeping the limit at 12, Maryland is actually disrupting the federal effort to level the playing field, I mean shooting field.

I’d like to see the agency make the effort, perhaps through an emergency declaration or whatever they call those things they want to do right away, to up that limit before Sept. 1 when dove season begins.

Wow. That’s only eight days away and happens to fall on Labor Day.

That same day, the early season for resident Canada geese begins. In this part of the state, the season continues through Sept. 25 with a daily limit of eight honkers.

I have never understood why I have to buy a migratory bird stamp to hunt resident geese that stay in one place.

Toss in the annual bow hunting opener on Sept. 15 and, ladies and gentlemen, we are into it.

On a recent afternoon, I was sitting in a lawn chair beside my house supporting the main industry of Milwaukee and watching our doggie, Chloe, chase grasshoppers.

Suddenly Chloe went on her best version of a point and was quivering, staring around the corner of the house.

I peeked around and saw 21 turkeys walk down my driveway and into the woods: four hens and 17 peeps.

Game on.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at

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