For the first time in decades there will be regular waterfowl hunting in Maryland during part of the deer season, but the Department of Natural Resources passed on a proposal to liberalize Canada goose shooting.
There will be no honker or duck shooting during the deer season, but other than the Saturday opener on Nov. 30, snow geese can be shot through the remainder of the statewide modern firearms deer hunt.
On the Canada goose side, DNR stuck with its original proposal -- after the Wildlife Advisory Commission suggested otherwise -- and will open the shoot on Nov. 12, a Tuesday. It also turned down the suggestion that during the last two days of the first half of the split season that two honkers be allowed a day.
With snows, the department went for offering more hunting opportunity when the game is present. This should offer better hunting -- and with snows the population continues to increase and spread out farther on the Eastern Shore, possibly offering Canadas competition for food.
State law bans any hunting other than for deer during the deer season opener, but in the past the closure was continued through the remainder of the season as a courtesy. Some deer chasers complain that waterfowl shooting makes deer more wary.
Thus, the snow season will open later than the originally proposed Oct. 18. Few snows are available before Oct. 25 when the season will now open. The snow dates are Oct. 25-Nov. 29, with a bag of four a day. The Canada goose season will be Nov. 12-29 with a bag of one; Dec. 9-Jan. 18 with a bag of two. The suggested opener on Nov. 11 would have been a holiday, and DNR figured the kill would be above what waterfowl managers desired. The earlier holiday start would have reaped a kill above the average of 1,700 for a regular day of shooting under a one-bird bag.
The same reasoning was involved in turning down the proposal to allow two birds in the bag during the last two days of the first of the split. One of those days falls on Thanksgiving -- and many shooters also get the day after the holiday off to further compound efforts to keep the kill in line with projected populations.
The regular duck season will be Oct. 18-19, Nov. 28-29, and Dec. 10-Jan. 4. The basic bag will be three a day, but no black ducks during the first segment. Also, the bag limit can include no more than one hen mallard, one pintail, one redhead and two wood ducks.
The coot season will run concurrently with the duck shoot, with a bag of 15. But, fear not for the coots, few hunters seek them -- and the total kill seldom approaches 1,000. Five mergansers can taken in a day, but only one of the hooded variety -- but again, few hunters want fish ducks.
The sea duck hunt will be Oct. 11-Jan. 20 in the official Sea Duck Zone with a bag of five. Otherwise sea ducks can be taken under regular bag limits outside the zone.