This weekend ...
* Busy days. Today marks the end of the second two-day duck season split, also the end of the first half of the Canada and snow goose seasons. And tomorrow, the modern firearms season starts for deer across the state.
I look for either Garrett or Allegany County to lead the state with kills well over 3,000 -- and Washington, Frederick and maybe even Dorchester could reach that plateau. Kent -- where overall the biggest and best antlered bucks roam -- could repeat 1989's hunting and get back into the 2,000 category, and don't be surprised if Worcester and Carroll make it for the first time.
Montgomery could break the 1,000 barrier for the first time, and every county -- including heavily populated Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Calvert -- should post kills of 500, or close to it.
If you're heading west, Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County will be the most heavily hunted in the state, but you can drive another hour and do your hunting in Savage River State Forest where deer are just as plentiful and there are fewer hunters to contend with. Savage draws more hunters each year, and many return because they like it.
A word of caution, wherever you hunt: use extreme care with matches, cigarettes and campfires. Maryland's forests and fields are extremely dry (it will take more than a few rains to overcome this), and forest fire outbreaks could prompt consideration of closures.
* Tomorrow: Close of the brief first segment of Delaware's split Canada goose season, which was far from spectacular. This writer was there for Monday's opener, and shooting was slow -- and birds not plentiful though the fall survey indicated increased numbers.
* Monday: If you get your deer tomorrow, and want to try elsewhere, the Pennsylvania buck season opens this day. They call it Magic Monday, and well they should. Nearly a million hunters are expected to turn out, and biologist Bill Palmer is predicting a kill of between 154,000 and 175,000 by the time it ends Dec. 14 -- and one-third of them will be taken on the opener.
For five consecutive years, Pennsylvania has broken its own antlered deer record; last year it was 170,101. In Pennsylvania, one of six buck hunters score -- about half of Maryland's success rate. The antlerless season is separate; will run Dec. 16-18, with a forecast of 230,000 to 280,000.
* Monday: Reopening of Maryland snow goose season.
Planning ahead ...
* Dec. 9: Reopening of Maryland Canada goose season.
* Dec. 10: Reopening of Maryland duck season, including black ducks.
Names and places ...
* Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge manager Paul Daly said that facility near Smyrna, Del., will be reopened for snow geese Dec. 10 through Feb. 6, with free shooting by permit through Feb. 6 in an attempt to thin flocks that are eating up marshes. A great money-saving opportunity for those with a small boat and decoys. Call 1-302-653-9345.
* Crackdowns by DNR Police and the Coast Guard are going to curtail cold weather guided bass fishing junkets in the Potomac River area. The Coast Guard insists guides be licensed by them -- a DNR charterboat license is not sufficient.
This week, Ken Penrod of Outdoor Life Unlimited announced his popular service that employs more than 15 guides is shutting down temporarily. Penrod -- a former president of Maryland BASS federation, and recipient of many fishing and conservation awards locally and nationally -- was among four charter captains and guides who were ticketed recently by DNR Police.
The Coast Guard insists all guides on navigable waters be licensed, which involves tests and regulations -- a minimum of which is the OUVP, commonly referred to as the "six-pack" license because it is the one required for carrying six passengers on the bay.
Penrod said the Coast Guard has notified him that it has rejected his proposal that it establish a bass guides license. "It's unfair," said Penrod. "We endorse licensing, but the criteria contained in the six-pack license is not germane to bass guides. This is the same license Chesapeake Bay charter captains must have -- and we are small boat fishermen who work rivers."
A newly formed Guides Association will meet with the Coast Guard in the near future, he said, to try again to negotiate a bass guiding license. If that fails, Penrod and his crew will prepare for the tests (the price for testing goes up dramatically next year). In the meantime, OLU will provide guided trips only on non-navigable waters (reservoirs).
Penrod said that of the 50 guides who work the Potomac area, only one is CG licensed. Guide Glenn Peacock is licensed by both the state and Coast Guard. Incidentally don't blame the Coast Guard. As with the ever so unpopular boat user fee stamp program, it is enforcing the law as required by responsibility to back up the whims of congressmen who seem to think that taxes on boaters are the solution to solving the budget deficit. Enough said.
Question box ...