March, that most dastardly of months, is upon us. I truly hate the month and wholly agree with humorist Pat McManus' view that "God invented March in case we should think that eternity was too short."
March is too early for fishing, too late for hunting, too wet and too cold. About the only thing it's good for is remembering past casts and shots and planning for those to come.
Speaking of planning for the months ahead, the Department of Natural Resources has proposed a number of changes to the new year's hunting regulations. A proposed early muzzleloader deer hunt is sure to be the hot topic in the months ahead.
If approved by the public, the early muzzleloader hunt will take place Oct. 20-22, with a limit of one deer. In Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties that single deer must be a buck. If you fill your tag during this early hunt, you may take a second during the traditional December hunt.
During the December hunt, an antlerless deer permit will be required to take a doe in Allegany, Frederick (Zone 1), Garrett or Washington (Zone 2) counties. According to the DNR, "this is the same antlerless permit as issued during the firearms season and it can be used during the firearms season or the muzzleloader season, but not both."
Another proposed change that is sure to generate some discussion will allow deer to be checked in in a county adjacent to the county in which the deer was killed.
The DNR also is proposing that in areas requiring an antlerless deer permit, antlerless deer may only be taken during the last two days of the firearms season. In the other western zones (Carroll, Frederick Zone 2 and Washington Zone 1), antlerless deer may only be taken during the last week of the firearms season.
A proposal to expand the September resident Canada goose season to Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester counties is guaranteed to raise questions.
Last year some hunters were ticketed for using the then new copper and copper-jacketed shotgun slugs. The new ammo will be approved by the DNR powers this year.
Also, if you have a breech-loading muzzleloader, you should begin shopping.
L This fall a muzzleloader may be loaded only from the muzzle.
Hearings on these proposals are set for March 14 at the Holly Center in Salisbury, March 15 at Towson's Loch Raven High School, March 17 at Westlake High School in Waldorf, March 22 at Frederick High School and March 23 at Northern High School in Accident.
Written comments can be directed until March 31 to Joshua L. Sandt, Director, Wildlife Division, Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401.
Survive March with a book
I usually try to get through March with a couple of good books.
"The Master's Secrets of Crappie Fishing" by John Phillips is sure to increase my success with these tasty panfish if the weather ever breaks.
The book teaches tactics ranging from catching crappie through the ice to taking speckled sides in 100-degree weather. Unlike some books of its kind, this one is aimed at the novice as well as the pro.
The book is available for $11.95 from Night Hawk Publications, P.O. Drawer 375, Fairfield, AL 35064.
If you send him a self-addressed, stamped envelope, Phillips will send you a free report on "Ten Secrets of the Masters of Crappie Fishing."
The spring turkey season will be on us before we know it.
"Ultimate Turkey Hunting" by Wade Bourne is one of the best such books to come down the pike in a long time. Bourne teams with professionals David Hale and Harold Knight, and the result is memorable. It's available for $13.50 from Knight & Hale Game Calls, Drawer 6F70, Cadiz, KY 42211. By the way, we'll be getting a statewide turkey season in 1995, says the DNR.
Spring is gun dog training time, and "How To Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves" by Joan Bailey is a must read for the first-time gun dog owner.
It's in the second edition and may be ordered for $19.95 plus $3.50 postage from Swan Valley Press, 2619 Industrial St., N.W., Bldg. B, Portland, OR, 97210.