ANNAPOLIS -- The hunting seasons and bag...


ANNAPOLIS -- The hunting seasons and bag limits proposed by the Department of Natural Resources for 1991-92 include possible changes in spring and fall turkey seasons as well as the bow, muzzleloader and firearms deer seasons, Mark Hoffman, associate director of the DNR Wildlife Division, said yesterday.

"Of course, these are proposals. These are not written in stone," Hoffman said. "These are what we want to take into the hearings and see how well they sit with the public."

All the proposals detailed yesterday by Hoffman and members of the Wildlife Division staff are to be discussed at public hearings across the state the week of March 18.

For the fall turkey season, the DNR proposes to merge the two hunting zones in Western Maryland and hold one five-day season. Fall turkey hunting is permitted only west of I-81 in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.

"In the past, the state has been zoned, with a slightly shorter season in one part of the state than the other," Hoffman said. "We propose to eliminate that, make the season consistent throughout, and run it for five days, a Tuesday [Nov. 5] through a Saturday [Nov. 9]."

The turkey season for the spring of 1992 is proposed for April 18 to May 16, but the DNR is being asked to consider an alternate proposal that would make the season run from the third Monday in April each year for 29 days. That could make the 1992 spring season from April 20 to May 18.

"We also are attempting to simplify the deer seasons," Hoffman said. "Our deer regulations [have been] fairly complicated, but this year I think we have kind of taken two steps forward and maybe only a half-step back."

In the bow season, the DNR has proposed to eliminate what essentially had been independent bag limits in Dorchester County for bow, muzzleloaders and firearms. Under the current proposal, seasons and bag limits for bow and muzzleloader seasons would be the same statewide. During firearms season, a Dorchester County hunter could take a second deer without a second deer stamp.

"For sika deer, we have changed the limit for both bow and muzzleloader to one animal," Hoffman said. "Also, we are changing the specific sika deer season only to Dorchester County.

"In the past, all the lower Shore counties were included in the separate sika season."

Under proposed guidelines, a sika deer taken in any Shore county except Dorchester would count toward the white-tailed deer season bag limit.

Also being considered is a change to allow the use of black powder handguns during muzzleloader season. The handgun would have to be at least .40 caliber, have at least a six-inch barrel length and use 40 grams of black powder.

Another proposal would start a white-tailed deer firearms season in January. That season would be limited to Worcester County on Jan. 24-25, Hoffman said. The bag limit would be one deer of either sex.

Public hearings to discuss the proposals will be held the following dates:

Monday, March 18: South Hagerstown High School, 1101 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, March 19: Southampton Middle School, 1200 Moore's Mill Road, Bel Air, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 21: Eastern Shore State Hospital Center, Administration Building, Route 50, Cambridge, 7-10 p.m.

Friday, March 22: Department of Natural Resources, C-1 Conference Room, Tawes Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, 7 p.m.

Proposed hunting seasons change time for turkeys

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