With no news on the moratorium on boat fishing at Liberty and Prettyboy reservoirs, let's turn to another budding controversy: deer.
Three proposals have been floated by the Department of Natural Resources to control the expansion of deer. DNR and many landowners and farmers figure the time has come to slow the accelerating overpopulation of whitetails across the state.
So, in addition to its proposal for a traditional modern firearmsseason Nov. 28-Dec. 5, DNR seeks comment on three options aimed at antlerless deer. To stabilized the herd, DNR considers 40 percent of doe populations in each county should be culled annually by hunters.
Though hunters more interested in trophies on the wall than venisonon the table might object, hunters would have to bag 50 percent moreantlerless deer than those sporting antlers to reach the state goal.
Muzzleloader deer hunting is popular in Carroll, so DNR's Option 3 should please many who consider DNR's overall herd objectives reasonable. This suggestion provides what many Carroll muzzleloaders askedfor several years ago but didn't get -- an early black powder season.
It wouldn't be a wide open shoot, but a two-day late October affair restricted to private lands for antlerless deer only.
Why? Because DNR wildlife managers consider that on public lands, the antlerless deer situation is more balanced. Also, the plan would alleviate crowds on state lands for a short shoot and would not cut deeply into overall deer populations before the regular modern firearms season.
Such a shoot would reduce the doe populations, give muzzleloaders an opportunity at deer before the crowds of modern firearms hunters and not really interfere with bow hunters, who would only give up two days of their mid-September through January schedule.
Nor should the early muzzleloader season interfere with prime time deer rutting activity, which peaks a bit later.
This doesn't mean goodbye to thatregular late December hunter's choice season. It would still run, this year from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2.
The biggest problem, if this option is adopted, is persuading landowners to open private lands to hunters. Some clubs that lease lands for the modern firearms shoot probably will object because it could mean less deer for them.
Option 1 would establish a Jan. 22-23 season for antlerless deer in all counties in which the targeted antlerless kill is not attained in the regular muzzleloader, modern firearms and bow seasons.
One problem with this is that some bucks will have already shed their antlers; anotheris that some does will be carrying fawns.
This extra shoot would undoubtedly be implemented in Carroll since antlered deer bagged usually outnumber antlerless deer, due in part the antlerless permit system.
Special seasons or not, DNR plans a hunter's choice of bucks or does for the regular modern firearms season in all counties other than Garrett, Allegany, Zone 1 of Frederick and Zone 2 of Washington.
Option 3 would extend the regular modern firearms season an additional week, Nov. 28 to Dec. 12, which means three Fridays and Saturdays afield.
The biggest stumbling block may come from waterfowlers whose Canada goose season is traditionally closed during deer season to avoid conflicts between the two. The Farm Bureau has opposed a longer season in the past, but is rethinking it because of crop depredation.
Proposed bow season dates are Sept. 15 to Nov. 27, Dec. 7 to 18, and Jan. 4 to 30. The closest public hearing is 7 p.m. March 17 atLoch Raven High School, 1212 Cowpens Avenue, Towson. Information: (410) 974-3195.