Fishing is so productive it's difficult to realize that hunting starts Monday. Don't expect much with railbirds, but the shooting should be as hot as the fishing for mackerel and blues in much of the Chesapeake.
Once again, it appears we have a bumper crop of dove throughout much of the state, and considering how poor much of the corn crop is because of the drought, there is considerable bushwhacking of crops to further entice the game. In addition, as more shooters turn to planting sunflowers, more doves fly into the fields.
Sunflowers are to doves what corn is to waterfowl. Irresistible deadly -- and with doves the attractant is legal. Not so with ducks and geese.
Somewhere down the road, the word is, dove "feeding" will b reviewed. Under scrutiny will be just what is a "normal agricultural practice." Currently, individual states have varying interpretations -- and so do the feds. Under what is accepted these days, baiting has to be pretty blatant to result in a summons.
The biggest problem among dove hunters is elementar arithmetic. Fellows in government, business, even accounting have a difficult time counting to 12 (the bag limit) when on a dove field with birds flying from all directions. There's no excuse for overshooting -- and to do so inflames humane extremists who look upon doves as songbirds, and want the shooting stopped as it is in some states.
It's not that doves are endangered by shooting, they're not. Bu 12 birds are a lot, certainly more than ample. Incidentally, countless studies have shown that when shot under reasonable limits, there is little if any difference in populations of flocks exposed to hunting and those that are not.
Curiously, a study or two indicated that dove population exposed to shooting were healthier than those protected. Natural mortality among these deceptive, swift fliers is exceptionally high, sometimes 80 percent. So enjoy, but stay within the legal game plan.
This year's shoot is a three-way split -- Monday through Oct. 26 with half-day shooting; Nov. 21-29 and Dec. 12-2, both with full-day shooting.
Railbird shooting continues through Nov. 9, with a bag limit of 1 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). It will be several weeks before many rails are in shootable numbers on the marshes. The snipe season doesn't open until Sept. 25.
* Saturday-Monday: Mount Airy Corn Trap Shoot, Mount Airy Izaak Walton League Gun Club, traps open all three days at 9 a.m. Call John Stevens, 679-4199.
* Saturday-Monday: Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Associatio Annapolis Race Week. Call 269-1194. Daily and series results available by modem from the computer bulletin board,
1-301-643-1466 (300-9600 baud 8N1).
Names and places ...
* Shaker Black, 69-year-old former charterboat captain and dockmaster at the Rod & Reel Docks, Chesapeake Beach, died in his sleep over the weekend. He fished out of Chesapeake Beach in the 1950s, then managed the docks there, spent about 10 years operating the docks at Forces of Nature Marina at Deale, then returned to the Rod and Reel about 10 years ago. Though sometimes he appeared gruff, he had a heart of gold, and was truthful about fishing conditions when parties called to book. He will be missed.
* Guide Bill Teeter got a 9-pound, 14-ounce walleye of 29 inches on a Slug-Go soft plastic worm at Deep Creek Lake, where trout fishing remains excellent.
* Final proposals for goose and duck shooting could come by th end of the week, following two public hearings that were considerably more subdued than several years ago when the DNR decided it was time for us to bite the bullet. Even the most vocal of outfitters appear either resigned to continued -- though slightly liberalized regulations -- or can it be they are admitting we have to ease up on the pressure until flocks are rejuvenated?
DNR's proposal involves a 60-day season as compared with 5 last year -- and six additional days with a bag limit of two rather than one. The first of the split season would 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.
No significant change is anticipated for ducks or geese from th original proposals.
* Delaware continues to play it very conservative for honkers, with a 39-day season set for this year -- with a bag limit of one a day. Just think, five years ago the season there was of 90 days, with a bag limit of four. This year's hunt will be Nov. 25-30 and Dec. 14-Jan 16.
Other Delaware waterfowl seasons: Ducks, Nov. 4-9, Nov. 25-30 and Dec. 18-Jan. 4; brant, Nov. 25-30, and Dec. 6-Jan. 18; snow geese, Oct. 16-Nov. 9, Nov. 25-30, and Dec. 10-Feb. 8, all with a bag limit of five. The special snow goose season at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, for which permits are available, Nov. 11, 13, 15, 18, 20 and 22. Call 1-302-653-9345.