Geese appear to be making a comeback on Lower Eastern Shore

OUTDOORS

November 22, 1992|By LONNY WEAVER

Despite another year of dire goose predictions, numbers appear to be reasonably good on the lower Eastern Shore this year.

In fact, Ray Marshall, who runs one of the top waterfowl guide services in the nation, told me that for the first time in a number of years his early-season bookings aren't looking too bad.

"Of course, I've had to revise my operation a little in order to attract gunners. A couple of years ago, you'll recall, I began offering released mallard shoots that have proven to be quite successful," he said. "Generally, my clients will book a morning goose hunt, then shoot the mallards after lunch."

This year Marshall is offering a free deer hunt to anyone booking a goose hunt. He also can line up sporting clays shooting in conjunction with goose or duck hunting. Call (410) 745-2060.

We were hunting a shore blind on Trappe Creek, near Trappe, Tuesday, and everywhere we looked we saw waterfowl -- mostly Canada geese, but also swans and ducks.

"We had a great early two-day duck season last month, and it looks like the good shooting is going to hold for the Nov. 26-27 shoot and then the season," Marshall said.

This year's regular duck season is Dec. 15 to Jan. 9. Earlier in the year, the Department of Natural Resources' waterfowl manager, Larry Hindman, said that Atlantic Flyway ducks are doing very well. The feeling has been that the DNR should expand the duck season in accordance with federal guidelines and recommendations, but it didn't happen.

We had a few teasers early Tuesday when geese would approach our rigs while Marshall worked his magic with a goose call, but each time they would break off at the last minute. About two hours into the hunt, our luck changed when four birds broke away from a large flock and headed our way.

I stayed out of sight while Marshall talked them into range, but I had a good view of the approaching action. Calling, or watching someone else do it, is one of the great thrills of waterfowling.

When hunting out of a below-ground field pit, you usually can't see too much of the preliminary approach, but this is more than compensated for by the sounds above.

When Marshall had them 35 yards out with wings locked and legs dropped, we sprang into action. I swung my over-under's barrels on the lead bird and saw breast feathers fly just after the shot, but the bird banked right as if nothing had happened.

I followed with another fast shot, but am certain I missed cleanly. An instant later Marshall, who was backing me, fired and the bird dropped a wing and began a long glide into a harvested cornfield to our rear.

We recovered the goose a good 100 yards from the blind.

Neither of us are fans of steel shot, but use it because the law requires it. For years though, it has been my opinion that mandatory steel-shot use is the dirtiest trick ever played on America's waterfowl. Unless you hit a duck or goose in the neck area, it often will fly considerable distances and die a slow, inhumane death. Surely there is a better answer than steel.

The Canada goose season shuts down Friday for the deer season, but reopens Dec. 4. After Dec. 12, the daily limit is two geese a day, but until then, the limit is one.

Record deer season expected

Ed Golden, who manages the state's deer herd, has predicted that between 45,000 and 50,000 whitetails should be harvested during the expanded two-week firearms season, to take place Saturday to Dec. 12.

Last year, Maryland firearms hunters bagged 31,426 whitetails during the traditional seven-day hunt. Golden said Maryland's deer herd has grown to approximately 200,000 and is doubling in size each year.

During last year's firearms hunt, Carroll hunters bagged 1,729 deer, of which 913 were antlered bucks. Look for between 1,800 and 1,850 to be taken this season.

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