Based on projections by wildlife managers who tally the hunt, Maryland deer hunters appear to be well on their way this year to a record harvest in the state for firearms season.
On opening day Saturday, hunters in Maryland took 15,485 white-tailed and sika deer statewide, said Josh Sandt, supervisor of forest wildlife management for the Department of Natural Resources Forest, Park and Wildlife Service.
"That was off some 2,400 from last year, when there was snow on the ground statewide opening day and you couldn't ask for better conditions," Sandt said. "But, being off only that few, I don't foresee us not having a record harvest."
If there is a downside to the firearms season so far, Sandt said, it is the warm weather, which makes it more comfortable for the hunters but makes it harder to find deer.
"The deer all have their winter coats on now," Sandt said, "and in this warm weather they don't move around as much as they would when it is colder. They are staying out, and that makes them harder to find, and they won't start moving now a real lot until after it gets dark and the temperature drops."
But Sandt reasons that the warm weather also will keep the hunters in the field longer, and more hunters in the field will force more deer to move.
At Bill's Place in Garrett County, Bill Schoenadel reports that in Western Maryland, deer hunters have benefited greatly from the warm weather. As of Monday, 246 deer had been checked in, Schoenadel said.
The biggest deer checked in at Bill's Place was a 6-point buck weighing 240 pounds.
"That is very comparable to last year," Schoenadel said, "which was the all-time banner year in the state."
The forecast for the end of the week calls for daytime temperatures to drop to more seasonable levels, and that should get the deer moving.
"I expect that Saturday [closing day for firearms] will be an unbelievable day," Sandt said.
Edward Hubner of Mechanicsburg, Pa., who was fatally shot by another hunter on opening day of firearms season in Maryland, was not wearing hunter orange when he was shot. Hunter orange is recommended for all hunters because it is a color that does not exist in the wild.
This year there are new regulations for hunter orange. Check Page 45 in the "Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland" for the current regulations.
The post office makes its appointed rounds to The Sun several times a day, and over the course of a year, the deliveries include items that may stupefy or stultify.
Among the stultifying items that were directed to the outdoors pigeon hole this year was the sole of a shoe for the right foot, neatly tacked to a glossy promotional folder exhorting the reader to experience something of a revolution in boating shoes -- no mean feat, since there was neither a left sole nor uppers included. Just try walking a mile in that baby.
Among the stupefying items were two books that deal with fly fishing.
One, "Terrestrial Fishing" by Ed Koch, a well-known fisherman from Pennsylvania, is a blend of technical and personal observations on the fine art of fishing imitation grasshoppers, ants and other nonaquatic insects for trout.
The other is a book that walks one through the trout streams of the Blue Ridge from Pennsylvania to northern Georgia. It is titled "A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge" and is written by Christopher Camuto, who has written for a number of national trout publications and has taught literature and writing at the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee University.
Koch's "Terrestrials" chronicles the boom of fishing on the limestone streams of south central Pennsylvania and diagrams the intricate tying patterns for the LeTort Hopper, the Jassid, the Japanese Beetle, the fur haired ant and a couple of dozen others.
Camuto's "Blue Ridge" celebrates the freedom and solitude of wilderness fishing and laments the decline of the wild-trout population and the continued loss of habitat.
Either is likely to create rewarding moments over the winter at the fly-tying vise or in the easy chair.
"Terrestrial Fishing" is published by Stackpole Books and sells for $24.95.
"A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge" is published by Henry Holt and Company and sells for $19.95.
Maryland Fly Anglers Inc. offers an unusual opportunity to its membership and the public tonight (7:30) with a flytier's night and swap meet at the Ridge Garden Apartments community hall, 8509 Old Harford Road in Parkville.
The meeting is open to the public, and there is no charge for admission.
5) (Includes white-tailed and sika deer)
Allegany County 2,391
Anne Arundel County 181
Baltimore County 421
Calvert County 240
Caroline County 205
Carroll County 862
Cecil County 453
Charles County 672
Dorchester County 1,057
Frederick County 1,245
Garrett County 1,729
Harford County 288
Howard County 199
Kent County 816
Montgomery County 361
Prince George's County 197
Queen Anne's County 548
St. Mary's County 425
Somerset County 376
Talbot County 351
Washington County 1,327
Wicomico County 325
Worcester County 765