Man kills bear, then comes hard part

October 29, 2006|By CANDUS THOMSON

Maryland's third black bear hunt was twice as long as the first one but only half the length of the one last year.

On the other hand, it had 90 percent fewer snowflakes than the 2005 edition and Garrett County avoided another paralyzing, ice-induced electrical blackout, so call it a draw.

The two-day hunt ended Tuesday, after hunters checked in 41 bears, almost dead-center between the high and low targets set by state wildlife managers.

Early on the second day, William Corbin of Oakland showed up with the largest bear, a 464-pound male taken in Garrett County. However, Corbin fell three bags of potatoes short of a stew. The state record, set in the inaugural season, is 496 pounds.

Clearly, though, the 60-year-old was thrilled. Limited by disability to hunting from his truck, Corbin feared the season might pass him by. Suddenly, the bear walked toward him along a rural lane, and Corbin decided to take a head shot. The bear dropped where it stood.

As darkness fell with the snow Monday night, Corbin called the bear check-in station at Mount Nebo Wildlife Management Area to explain that he might not make the 8 p.m. closing time because he was having trouble hauling the bulky bruin from the woods.

When asked how big it was, a huffing and puffing Corbin said, "He'll be 500 pounds by the time I get out."

It took five friends to hoist the bruin into the truck bed for the ride to the check station.

"I was shaking so bad. It was like my first deer kill," Corbin said.

Just after Corbin and his family and friends pulled out of the check station, April Savage and her husband pulled in.

Savage sat on the ground all day Monday, waiting to take her shot, but a bear never showed.

It didn't take long Tuesday for the 26-year-old employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bag a 215-pound bear, enough to fill her freezer with free-range, nut-and-corn-fed meat.

"I guess we're going to find how many ways there are to prepare bear," she said, grinning widely. "And then some."

Finally, for those of you who live for stats: All but two of the bears were killed in Garrett County. Allegany County accounted for the others, as the hunt was limited to those two counties. The average weight was 157 pounds.

Eighty percent of the bears were taken on private land. At least one had been labeled a nuisance bear, meaning wildlife managers had captured it doing destructive things (scrounging in campgrounds, loitering in backyards, destroying crops, rooting for the Orioles), tagged it and run it out of town. In almost every case, a nuisance bear returns.

In the final count, 451 hunters - permit holders and their sub-permit holders - participated in the hunt, and 2,402 hunters applied for the lottery that awarded the permits.

Women, take note

Savage's story serves as a great segue into a reminder that Wednesday is the deadline for signing up for the deer hunt sponsored by the state's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program.

Almost every woman bagged a deer the last time the workshop was held.

The hunt will be Friday and Saturday at the Army's Blossom Point complex near La Plata in Charles County. The first day's class will deal with safety, ethics and deer biology, followed by a session on the range, where participants will have to qualify with their firearm. On Saturday, the women will be driven to tree stands for the hunt.

The fee for the event is $40, which includes breakfast, two lunches and snacks. State hunting license and shooter's qualification tests are required. To register, call 301-387-7067.

No panic on bass

Baby striped bass had a hard time this spring in the Chesapeake Bay, according to the annual population survey conducted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The "Young of the Year" survey estimates the reproduction index at 4.3, well below the 53-year average of 12.0. But fisheries biologists stress that one bad year should not trigger a panic.

"We are not despondent, by any means. Maryland had one of the driest early spring seasons in decades, which meant low freshwater inflow to the bay tributaries," said Martin Gary, a DNR biologist. "Everyone agrees that the spring biomass is there, but I think what we had this year was formidable adverse conditions."

Gary said similar weather in 2002 made for a poor year class, but 2001 and 2003 had spawning seasons well above average.

"You'd love to have a good year every year, but it just doesn't happen," he said.

Carp open house

If you've never seen the elaborate setups used by avid carp fishermen to reel in 20- and 30-pound critters or never seen one of the massive beasts (the carp, not the anglers) up close, the affable if somewhat wacky members of the local Carp Anglers Group will be having a sun-up-to-sundown open house this weekend.

And it's not your typical open house, either. The boys are setting up shop Saturday and next Sunday along the Potomac River in D.C. at Hains Point. Just find the giant sculpture reaching out of the ground - it's called "The Awakening" - and you're there.

Each May, the CAG has a fish-in at the Tidal Basin, which draws more attention from camera-toting tourists than the nearby Jefferson Memorial.

Tommy Robinson of Baltimore and Mark Metzger of Silver Spring, who represented Maryland at last year's World Carp Fishing Championship, will be there spreading the gospel according to carp and giving tutorials next Sunday at 9 a.m.

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