As a group you have hired a licensed waterfowl guide and been taken through the early-morning darkness to a series of blinds and, with your guide, you have set up for a day of hunting.
The first group of geese has been called in, the first shots of the morning have been fired and then the hunt is stopped by officers of the law.
Not only has your hunt been cut short, but in the long run you also may be held accountable as part of an illegal activity -- whether you knew it existed or not.
Last December, a group of hunters found themselves in such a situation when Natural Resources Police shut them down for hunting over a baited area on a farm near Church Hill in Queen Anne's County.
Earlier in the morning, NRP officers had seen one of the guides for the group baiting a pond, around which hunting sites were set on a radius of more than 500 yards.
Did the hunters know of the baiting? In all probability they did not, but when the NRP closed down the hunt the hunters became part of the sting because lack of knowledge is not a legal defense.
Hunting over bait, said NRP Sgt. Charles Rhodes, who has charge of inland patrol for Kent and Queen Anne's counties, is strictly prohibited.
"It was enough that the bait was there and the hunters were hunting," said Rhodes, adding that hunting areas must be bait-free 10 days before hunting.
"The hunter has to make every effort to check his hunting grounds before hunting."
A good rule of thumb to follow is to know your guides and to know their operations -- and to take a careful look around before the shooting starts.
Rockfish hot line
Maryland has opened a fishing hot line (1-800-ROCKFISH) to help anglers find the best fishing opportunities for the balance of the rockfish season, which closes for recreational fishermen and charter-boat customers on Nov. 21.
The recorded telephone message, operated by the Office of Tourism Development and the DNR, offers a brief summation of rockfish activity in the lower, middle and upper Chesapeake Bay as well as telephone numbers for listings of charter-boat operations in each area.
The hot line will remain in operation until Nov. 21 and reopen next October for the fall rockfish season.
Fair Hill hunt
DNR will conduct a managed deer hunt on the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Cecil County from Jan. 3 through Jan. 8. The shotgun-only hunt will allow up to 65 hunters per day on the tract.
Hunters will be selected by a lottery drawing on Nov. 29.
Applicants must be current holders of Maryland hunting licenses.
Permit applications and maps of the area may be obtained from the Fair Hill office, Bel Air regional service center, Millington Wildlife Management Area and the state park offices at Gunpowder Falls, Elk Neck and Rocks.
Applications, including a $5 fee made payable to DNR-Fair Hill, must be returned to the Fair Hill NRMA offices by Nov. 26.
The Fair Hill NRMA address is: 376 Fair Hill Drive, Elkton, Md. 21921.
For more information on the hunt, call (410) 398-1246.
Shad study at Conowingo
If you went fishing at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River over the weekend you probably noticed that the catwalk once again was fully open.
Since Oct. 28, the areas of units 8 through 11 were restricted to allow shad to pass through the turbine and the turbine discharge. The restrictions were part of a Philadelphia Electric Company study to determine the survival rate of juvenile American shad passing through the dam.
Correction on dove hunting
The opening of the second split of dove season was incorrectly listed in the outdoors journal on Sunday. The season opens Nov. 16 and closes Nov. 26.