Hunters in Maryland reported taking 27,088 deer recently during the state’s most popular hunt, the two-week firearms season, according to a press release by the Department of Natural Resources.

The total harvest was 14% lower than last year’s official count of 31,631. The decline is attributed to bad weather in many parts of the state on weekends.

More than 2,000 deer were taken on the two Sundays during the season, representing 8% of the total harvest. Hunting is currently permitted on select Sundays in 20 of 23 counties.

“Rain, ice, and fog once again hampered parts of the firearms season this year,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Fortunately, deer hunters in Maryland have additional opportunities to fill their freezer with venison during the remaining hunting dates in December and January.”

Hunters reported taking 10,249 antlered deer during the two-week season, down from last year’s official total of 13,283. The antlerless harvest decreased from 18,348 last year to 16,839 this year. Sika deer represented 387 of the total antlered harvest and 507 of the total antlerless harvest.

Hunters in Region A — Allegany, Garrett, and western Washington counties — reported taking 2,186 antlered and 1,102 antlerless deer. In the remainder of the state, hunters reported taking 8,063 antlered and 15,737 antlerless deer. The take was down 37.3% in Allegany, 26.3% in Garrett, and 29.2% in Washington.

For our Mid-Shore counties:

Caroline — 312 antlered, 839 antlerless (change from 2018, -13%)

Dorchester — whitetail 305 antlered, 541 antlerless (-15.5%); sika 355 antlered, 465 antlerless (-17.8%)

Kent — 349 antlered, 817 antlerless (-11%)

Queen Anne’s — 381 antlered, 848 antlerless (-11.2%)

Talbot — 245 antlered, 729 antlerless (-13.7%)

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That’s not really correct

Recent headlines stating the Federal government has ordered a shutdown of Virginia’s menhaden industry are an example of why media can get a bad rep. Yes, it’s generally good news that U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has declared a moratorium on fishing for Atlantic menhaden in Virginia state waters, but it won’t be effective until June 17, and, in all likelihood, will never be implemented.

Most of the news reports I’ve seen fail to mention the “moratorium” is conditional. According to a news release by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: “In order to avert the moratorium, the Commonwealth (of Virginia) must effectively implement and enforce the cap prior to June 17th.” So basically, all Omega Protein needs to do is to keep right on fishing, just not go over the harvest cap again.

Here’s another interesting line from the ASMFC press release: “The letter (from NOAA Fisheries) explains that the June closure was selected ‘to give Virginia the time necessary for its legislature to bring these regulations back into compliance.’” So, I guess Secretary Ross believes the regulations were out of compliance, not Omega Protein.

The menhaden season ended before Thanksgiving. There’s plenty of time for people with money to make more money talking about it, litigating it, and generally exploiting “the most important fish in the sea” until the season gets underway again.

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Fishing report

In the mid-Chesapeake Bay, the best option for a reliable bite is probably for white perch at the rock piles at the Bay Bridge. Anglers are having success jigging two-inch plastics; bloodworms or grass shrimp will certainly work as well.

The freshwater scene is a bit tamer than the bay these days and can offer action for crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, pickerel, and catfish. A minnow suspended under a bobber can produce plenty of fish. Pickerel will also attack small spinners. Crappie and yellow perch will bite small jigs and small plastics like the Crappie Magnet. Trout present some fine scenic fishing opportunities on the other side of the bridge.

On the Atlantic Coast, when the weather cooperates, some large striped bass migrating south have been caught by anglers trolling the shoal areas inside the three-mile limit. Tautog and sea bass continue to be reeled in at inshore wreck and reef sites. Sea bass seem to be moving farther offshore, but they are also putting on some weight. The sea bass season ends Dec. 31.

Next year’s tog season in Maryland will run Jan. 1 through May 15 with a 4-fish-per-day limit; July 1 through Oct. 31 with a 2-fish limit; and Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 back to 4 fish.

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Duck blind know-it-all

Most small birds need to drink at least twice a day to replace lost water.

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