Good news for Canada goose shooters; probably more days afield this year -- also, more days with a bag limit of two. Yesterday, waterfowl managers of the Department of Natural Resources made modestly liberalized recommendations to the Wildlife Advisory Commission, but it will be a month before a final decision is made.
DNR assistant secretary for wildlife Don MacLauchlan said the proposal involved a 60-day season as compared with 54 last year -- and six additional days with a bag limit of two rather than one. Maryland Outfitters Association would have liked more, but the DNR is playing it conservative, as it should.
MacLauchlan said a modest more liberal season is possible in view of higher projections for the fall flight. Don't look for honkers to blot out the sun because last year wasn't very good. But, any improvement indicates DNR's conservative rebuilding program is working -- along with improved conditions in the Far North nesting grounds.
The recommendations, if approved after a commission review, public hearings, then final DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blessings, would have the split season open Nov. 12 -- a Tuesday -- with a daily bag limit of one, and close on the 29th. It would reopen Dec. 9 and continue through Jan. 18, with a bag limit of two.
The midweek opener is expected to lessen mortality among juvenile geese, and those that come early and stay late. The traditional Friday or Saturday opening crowds created too much shooting pressure. Condolences to those who can't get weekdays off the job, but it's a worthy sacrifice.
Other waterfowl recommendations: Snow geese, 107 days, Oct. 18-Nov. 29 and Dec. 9-Feb. 10, bag limit of four a day; brant, 50 days, Nov. 21-29 and Dec. 9-Jan. 18, two a day.
Ducks: Three-way split, three a day, Oct. 18-19, Nov. 28-29, and Dec. 12-Jan. 4. No black ducks could be taken in the first segment, then only one a day in the final two. In all three shoots, the daily bag would include no more than one pintail, hen mallard and redhead, and two woodducks. Once again, the canvasback season would remain closed.
Things are better on the sea duck front, thus a 102-day season (two more than last year) is proposed, with a daily bag of five, running from Oct. 11 through Jan. 20. Sea ducks are eiders, scoters and old squaws, and the liberal bag limit and lengthy rTC season would apply only in the official Sea Duck Zone. They could be taken during the regular duck season elsewhere, but would be tallied against the conventional bag of three.
Prior to public hearings, comments can be directed to MacLauchlan, DNR, Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis, Md. Calendar ...
* Today: Third day of the 18th annual $50,000-added White Marlin Tournament at Ocean City. Competition ends tomorrow.
* Tomorrow: Owl Prowl night hike, 8:30 to 9:30, Gunpowder Falls State Park. Call 592-2897.
* Saturday: Regional Qualifier for the Maryland Bass Federation Casting Kids Exhibition will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Centennial Lake, Columbia, Middle Branch Park, Baltimore, and Tuckahoe State Park near Denton. Contestants between age 7 and 14 will be judged on flipping, pitching and casting.
Just show up at the announced times ready to cast. Call Bruce Jones at 1-301-977-3662. The state championship will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 21 at Centennial Lake in Columbia as a side attraction to the BASS Masters Classic.
* Saturday: Mountain Club of Maryland hike, Greenbrier State Park. Call 377-5625.
* Saturday/Sunday: Call of the Wild Outdoor Show at Frederick Fairgrounds. Saturday hours, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 9 to 6. Demonstrations, exhibits covering hunting, fishing and rafting. Admission $5 for adults; free for children under 16. Call 1-301-831-9586.
Planning ahead ...
* Aug. 21: BASS Masters Classic starts in the upper Chesapeake Bay complex, with the finale (a great family show) on Aug. 23 in Baltimore Arena, where admittance for weigh-ins on all three days is free. Running concurrently will be a free fishing show in Baltimore Convention Center.
Names and places ...
* Maryland will once again have a three-way split dove season. Regulations approved by assistant DNR secretary Don MacLauchlan: Doves, Sept. 2-Oct. 26, half-day shooting; Nov. 21-29 and Dec. 12-2, both full day shooting. The bag limit for all segments will be 12.
For railbirds: Sept. 2-Nov. 9, with a bag limit of clappers and kings of 10, possession limit of 20; soras and Virginias, a daily bag of 25, possession limit the same. The season will remain closed for gallinules (moorhens). The split snipe season will be Sept. 25-Nov. 29 and Dec. 9-14, bag limit of eight, 16 in possession.
Woodcock populations remain depressed throughout the flyway, so once again the season will be short, probably not sweet, and the bag only three, six in possession. Dates are Oct. 16-Nov. 23, and Dec. 9-14.