In a couple of weeks the hunting season for bearded turkeys opens across Maryland, and according to Steve Bittner, the state's forest game project manager, prospects are good in all counties.
"The turkey population did very well over the winter, and there should be plenty of birds available," Bittner said yesterday. "However, last summer's brood was off more in the western part of the state, so we might experience a drop in the kill out west."
Heavy rains and cool temperatures in late spring and early summer last year produced poor conditions for young of the year in the western counties, and Bittner said that as a result fewer young birds were killed in the fall season than in some other years.
"And that usually will carry over to the spring season simply because there are fewer males available," Bittner said.
The spring season is for bearded turkeys only and runs from April 18 to May 16 with a basic limit of one per season. However, if no bird was taken during the fall season last year, hunters may take two spring birds, but only one a day.
Even after the disappointing brood last year, there are still far more birds per square mile of forested land in the western counties than in the central and eastern portions of the state.
"In the eastern and central counties, birds are still growing into new habitat," said Bittner, whose program has re-introduced wild turkeys to all counties by trapping and transferring wild birds from Garrett and Allegany counties.
The trap-and-transfer program allowed the entire state to be opened to turkey hunting in the spring in 1995.
During that season, the state estimates 13,500 hunters were in the field for bearded birds.
Atlantic mackerel, which have been hit or miss along the Maryland coast for several years, appear to be making a strong run this year, according to Charles Nichols, who runs the Ocean City Fishing Center.
"Capt. John Bunting and the Miss Ocean City have been out three times," Nichols said yesterday. "On Saturday they really got into the mackerel, and on Sunday it was good, but a little slower. The last couple of days it has been too windy to go out, but we are expecting to have good fishing from here on out."
Reports indicate that the mackerel run is strong at Cape May and Virginia Beach.
"So there is no reason that we shouldn't get them, too," Nichols said.
Last Saturday, the mackerel were within three miles of the beach.
The Miss Ocean City, which will be joined by the O.C. Princess starting tomorrow, will be making daily mackerel trips, weather permitting.
Boats leave the fishing center docks at 7 a.m. and return at 2 p.m. For more information, call 1-800-457-6650.
Safety at sea
As of yesterday there still were seats available on the popular Annapolis Safety-At-Sea Seminar being held at the Naval Academy on Saturday and Sunday.
The two-day program includes classes on crucial elements of inshore and offshore sailing.
Topics include heavy weather sailing and the decision-making process, weather for the offshore mariner, the life raft, man overboard and recovery techniques and equipment, safety factors and adventure sailing, electronic equipment as a safety factor, preparation for a medical emergency at sea, seaworthy design and women and passage planning.
The basic session will be held Saturday, with specialized seminars and Coast Guard rescue demonstrations.
The advanced session, with more one-on-one interaction, will be held Sunday.
Tickets are $50 a day or $85 for both days and are limited.
Reservations are recommended.
For more information, call 301-261-1021.
Pub Date: 4/03/97