Archery season is underway, so when you’re not fishing you can be out there hunting. It’s truly a great time of the year to enjoy the outdoors and to stock up the freezer.
For the 2019-20 archery season, which runs through Jan. 31, the statewide bag limit for white-tailed bucks is two deer (no more than one per weapon season). Maryland hunters in Region B (central, southern, and eastern regions) have the option to take one additional bonus buck after purchasing a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp. The antlerless deer bag limits differ between deer management regions. In our region, the antlerless archery limit is 15.
An antler-point restriction remains in effect. Deer hunters may harvest one antlered white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that does not meet the requirement of having at least three points on one antler. Any additional antlered deer taken within the established bag limit must meet the minimum point restriction. Licensed junior hunters and apprentice license holders, 16 years of age or younger, are exempt from this restriction.
The sika deer archery season bag limit is three with no more than one being antlered. An antlered sika is defined as a deer with at least one antler visible above the hairline.
Multiple Sundays are open to archery hunting in most counties, including some public lands.
“Archery hunting continues to play an important role in deer management in Maryland,” Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said in a press release. “It is particularly valuable in urban and suburban areas where hunting with firearms isn’t feasible. In some counties, more deer are harvested with archery equipment than with firearms and muzzleloaders.”
Please carefully inspect all tree-stands and always wear a full-body safety harness while in the stand and while climbing in or out. The department strongly recommends using a sliding knot, commonly known as a prussic knot, attached to a line that is secured above the stand that allows the hunter to be safely tethered to the tree as soon as they leave the ground.
Hunters can donate any extra deer they may harvest to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Last year, the program provided more than 650,000 venison meals to community food banks and other efforts.
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Eastern Neck hunts
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge has transitioned to an online hunt application system administered by Recreation.gov, which could make things easier. You can apply directly on the website or by calling the Recreation.gov customer service number at 877-444-6777. All hunts are first-come, first-served. Hunters are required to have a printed and signed permit in hand while hunting or scouting on the refuge.
Youth deer hunt day is Sept. 28 at the refuge. A Disabled hunt day is Oct. 3. Archery is open Oct. 4, Muzzleloader Oct. 28-29, and Shotgun Nov. 7, 8, and Feb. 6.
Complete information about upcoming hunts is available on the refuge’s website.
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On the Chesapeake Bay, anglers live-lining eels and spot around the deeper edges at Pooles Island have been finding some striped bass, according to the DNR. The 7-foot and 9-foot knolls are holding stripers as are Swan and Love Point.
The striped bass action at the Bay Bridge has slacked off a bit as charter and private boats have spread out to other locations to live-line spot or to jig. Anglers trolling a mix of small spoons at faster speeds behind small planers and inline weights are catching Spanish mackerel north of the Bay Bridge.
A little farther south in the bay, Spanish mackerel are providing some excellent sport and some fine eating. The edges of the shipping channel and anywhere breaking fish can be spotted are good places to look for them, whether trolling or casting to breaking fish. The west side of the shipping channel from Chesapeake Beach south has been a hot spot to troll. A mix of gold and silver spoons pulled behind small planers or inline weight at a fast clip will catch them.
You can also cast a small heavy metal lure to breaking fish, let it sink a bit, and then reel it in fast to catch the mackerel. In most cases the breaking fish are small striped bass in the 12-inch to 14-inch size range chasing bay anchovies with mackerel zipping through the melee. Large red drum may be lurking underneath the surface. Jigging with large spoons or soft plastics can entice redfish for some catch-and-release action.
The shallow water striped bass fishery is slowly awakening in the lower sections of tidal rivers. Stripers are being caught on a variety of lures. Most are sub-legal but some over 19 inches are being caught. This fishery should steadily improve as water temperatures cool.
Fishing for white perch has been good in the tidal rivers and creeks. Bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or bloodworms fished on hard bottom areas or near deep dock piers will work. Casting small spinnerbaits, spinners, or jigs is a fun way to catch perch along shoreline structure.
Cobia are coming aboard in the east side of the lower bay, mostly near the Middle Grounds and the Target Ship. Most tend to be under the 40-inch minimum but they do provide some sport when sight fishing or trolling. Live eels or large soft plastic jigs will catch them if cast to them when spotted.
Recreational crabbing seems to get better each week as slightly cooler water temperatures and higher salinity values are better suited to the crabs. Blue crabs are fattening up for their winter’s sleep, so this month tends to offer the best time to catch them when they’re large and heavy.
On the Atlantic Coast, shoal areas off the beaches are holding Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and bluefish. Silver spoons behind inline weights are luring them. Sea bass fishing has been fair to good on the inshore wreck and reef sites. Some nice yellowfin tuna over 60 pounds have been recently caught near the Baltimore Canyon. Large dolphinfish, white marlin, swordfish, and sailfish are also being caught at the canyons.
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Duck blind know-it-all
If a gray squirrel suspects that another squirrel is watching it hide a nut, it only pretends to bury it.