by Huck Dollar as told to C.D. Dollar
Back to School
Okay heres the deal: I get as fired up about the upcoming hunting season as the next dog, maybe even more so. But like most young pups, I cling to those carefree dog days of summer like stink on a monkey. Not that I know what that smells like. Or want to know.
Three things ended my endless summer. First and foremost was when my man was chirping away to his hunting buddy, a Wig somebody, about the proposed dates for the 2003-2004 waterfowl season. I knew those days of leisurely games of catch were numbered, to be replaced with boringly repetitive commands to heel, sit, stay and mark. I like the fetchin up part the best; dont mind that one bit.
Two other things sealed the deal. One was the arrival of Winnie, the 10-week-old black Lab puppy training to become his buddys hunting dog. Just wait, Winnie. You may be the apple of his eye, the do-no-wrong princess now, but very soon youll be in retriever class like the rest of us.
The other was a National Geographic list, (or was it Animal Planet? Discovery Channel maybe?) that ranked us canines as one of the worlds 10 smartest animals. We placed seventh, behind pigs, of all critters. Get real! Who did the voting, that old thatll-do-pig guy from the movie Babe?
My man tells me its important to get ready now, since the reports from the science guys bode well for a good gunning year. Canada geese populations are decent, allowing Maryland to ask the feds for a 45-day hunting season (November 15 to November 28, and December 18 to January 24) with one bird per day.
Overall, the main duck breeding populations either increased or remained unchanged from last year, which probably means a 60-day duck season, with a first split running from October 25 to November 1. A second split would open November 8 and close November 28. The final split would open December 16 and end January 24.
Pintails are one duck managers are worried about. Breeding population increased to 2.2 million this spring, but theyre still 39 percent below their long-term average (1955-2002.) The suggested pintail season dates are October 25 through November 1 and December 30 through January 24 with one pintail per day.
In a snow squall last year, I had a blast retrieving a handsome drake sprigtail downed by some guy called Bart, so I really hope they come back.
These last few weeks have been so doggone humid that even a cactus would sweat. In fact its Africa-hot, so if school is delayed a few more days, it wont hurt my feelings none. That my buds Tupelo (a hottie yellow Lab) and cousin Cobb, another Chessie, will be run through their paces, too, gives me some solace. Yet when that first duck falls from the heavens, splashing softly in the marsh water, the mundane training will be but a memory.
Ill still try to ditch the boring obedience lessons and get right after the fun stuff, retrieving. But it wont do no good. And if you ask me, I got my part down fairly decent. Its my man who needs a refresher course. Better accuracy would go a long way to get me some real game experience, if you catch my drift.
Note: The public meeting to comment on proposed waterfowl seasons is scheduled for 7pm August 18 at Annapolis Senior High School. E-mail comments should be sent via DNRs Web site (www.dnr.state.md.us). Send written comments to Waterfowl Regulations, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401.