Weather holds down muzzleloader numbers Early-season success rate is 16 percent below '95

November 10, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Unfavorable weather conditions through the three-day early muzzleloader hunting season for deer last month resulted in a 16 percent decrease in hunter success statewide, according to preliminary figures from the Department of Natural Resources.

The unofficial total was 3,851. Last year's early season produced a take of 4,589 deer.

According to DNR, warm weather on the opening day and wind and rain on the last day of the season kept the number of hunters in the field lower than in other years.

This was the third year of the early season, and, according to DNR Secretary John R. Griffin, "The popularity of the early muzzleloader season continues to increase each year."

Overall, the number of days muzzleloader hunters spend in the field has increased three-fold over the past 10 years.

The second muzzleloader season will open Dec. 21 and run through Jan. 4.

Beat the drum slowly

Walt Blakeslee of Baltimore was fishing the surf in Bethany, Del., on the last day of October with light tackle when the action heated up considerably.

According to Blakeslee and documents from the Delaware Sportfishing Tournament, the Baltimore angler landed a 77-pound black drum, which was 50 inches long and had a girth of 36 inches.

"It was caught on 14-pound test line with a No. 1 hook," Blakeslee says, "and it took 1 1/2 hours to land."

Junior hunter season

Next Saturday, qualified junior hunters under the age of 16 will have the opportunity to participate in a special one-day deer hunt statewide, a couple of weeks before the firearms season opens to all licensed hunters.

The junior hunter deer season was established last year and is intended as a hands-on learning period, when experienced hunters can take newcomers to the sport into the field.

"Hunting is a learned tradition," said Joshua Sandt, director of DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Division, "and most people begin hunting by accompanying a parent, relative or friend."

Junior hunters must have a valid resident or non-resident Maryland junior hunting license and be younger than 16.

They must be accompanied in the field by a licensed Maryland hunter 21 years or older. The adult cannot be armed with firearm, bow or other hunting device.

Normal license exemptions apply.

Last year, junior hunters took 1,028 deer during the one-day hunt.

Fall trout stocking

DNR has completed its fall trout stocking schedule, with more than 29,000 adult rainbows placed in selected streams, rivers and lakes around the state.

Pub Date: 11/10/96

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