Maryland's firearm season for deer opens tomorrow, and if the weather holds, the Department of Natural Resources is expecting a record harvest. (They don't say "kill" any more; "harvest" is softer and more acceptable.)
They would have had a record harvest last year, but for the weather.
Deer are mighty shy critters. They depend on their eyes and ears to keep themselves alive. When the wind blows and the rain comes down, the noise drowns out the natural sounds of their habitat and the deer bed down until the weather improves.
Last year, a storm settledin for the first part of the deer season and kept the deer in their beds.
There are two basic schools of thought on deer hunting: the walkers and the sitters. If it is storming, you might as well walk, because the deer are not going to be on the move. If the weather is fair with only a light breeze, you may want to sit and let the other walkers move the deer to you.
I've had most of my success while sitting. I recognize right off I'm no Daniel Boone. I try to find a popular place, then hunker down and try to wait 'em out.
Movement is one of the quickest ways to spook a deer. Your hands and your face, unless covered, will be the first to alert a deer. Your bright shiny face in the dark woods stands out like an 18-wheeler in a parking lot.
Burnt cork, soot or camouflage paint will help it blend in. So willa head net, which is good if the weather is warm and the bugs are bothering you. It can get in the way, however, when you are shooting.
The same coloring will work on your hands if it is warm. If the weather is cold, a pair of dark gloves will do the trick.
Another helpful item is a piece of camouflage material 2- to 4-feet wide and 8- to 10-feet long, for building a small blind. Pick up a few sticks as you walk along and drape the material over the sticks you have shovedin the ground. The blind will permit a fair amount of fidgeting without spooking deer.
Scents have become more and more successful in not only masking human odor but also luring deer. Check with an outdoor store to learn the most popular scents in this area. Tinks 69 Doe in Rut is one of the favorites. One hunter said he sprinkles some around his stand and some more on a rag that he drags along the trail.
You can also lure deer from long distances by rattling deer antlers, as if two bucks were fighting. It has taken a long time, but I am convinced this technique will work in our area. I wouldn't do it, however; I'dfeel too self conscious.
I remember the first time I blew a varmint call, one of those screaming rabbit things. I got so many laughs I never did go varmint hunting.
I received a letter last week that caused some concern. It followed my shoot-the-geese-with-paint-balls column, and the writer wondered if I was an anti-hunter or an animal-rights activist.
Far from it.
I support the heritage and the scientific reasons for hunting. I just personally don't kill many critters any more unless they wear scales. It is a personal choice and has nothing to do with your right to hunt.
Apparently Sears, Roebuck & Co. were taken in by an anti-hunting group, the Humane Society of the United States. Sears had started a promotional activity in its 1991 catalog to support the group. The Wildlife Legislative Fund of America takes credit for blowing the whistle; Sears quickly withdrew its support.
This is just one example of how the anti-hunting groups gather strength. They will do anything to keep you from the fields. Next, it will be the anti-fishing groups and the fish rights society, then the anti-farmers and the plant rightists. I can hardly wait.
Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.