Havilah Babcock, a popular outdoor writer of some years back and avid bird hunter, once noted that his "health is better in RTC November." Put me in Babcock's corner.
No month is more heavenly to the hunter than November, and blessed are we who call Carroll County home. Our lush farmlands, countless wood lots and meandering streams and creeks produce an abundance of game birds, waterfowl, small game and whitetail deer. And the fishing, varminting and fur business isn't shabby, either.
Popular species of small game and upland birds include rabbits, squirrels, doves, woodcock, quail, pheasants and the occasional grouse. Over the past few years we have seen a huge increase in wintering Canada geese, and our streams, creeks and wetlands always have held abundant numbers of ducks.
Both gray and red foxes call Carroll County home, plus a new and generally unwelcome critter, the coyote. We also enjoy some of the finest deer hunting in the state.
About December and January we are visited by countless thousands of crows just to keep us from getting bored with all the rest of the stuff.
Our central location puts us an hour away from the Chesapeake's incredible duck hunting, late-season fishing and the finest goose hunting prospects in all of North America.
Go north, into Pennsylvania, and you are smack in the middle of the largest deer herd probably to be found on the East Coast, bear hunting, pheasant hunting that often borders on the great as well as legendary grouse spots and near-mythical trout waters.
Locally, public lands include Liberty Reservoir, Hanover Watershed, the Morgan Run Area and Patapsco State Park. Call the Gwynnbrook District Wildlife Office at (410) 356-9272 for hunting details.
Deer is the county's most popular game animal, and we're practically busting at the seams with them. Last year bow, rifle and muzzleloader hunters bagged 3,162, sixth highest in the state. And we grow them big.
The average yearly buck hits the check-in scales at nearly 115 pounds and sports a five-point rack. Much bigger bruisers are common. My personal best is a 178-pound eight-pointer that never even placed in the top 20 a year back.
A decade ago Carroll County was the state's premier pheasant spot, but modern farming methods, housing developments, house cats and increased wild predators have taken a terrible toll. Observation leads me to believe that the skid may have stopped and the remaining ringnecks seem to be holding their own.
I no longer hunt local pheasants, but you can pick up one if you really work at it. Best bets are in the area of Taneytown, New Windsor, Union Mills and north of Manchester.
Rabbits are another story. They are flourishing and can be found just about anywhere in the county. Ditto for squirrels. We have a short, but often fantastically good dove hunt coming up Nov. 16-26.
Anyone who thinks we have a fox shortage is either blind or housebound. The red fox is the most common around here and the season openned Nov. 1 and will continue through Jan. 7.
I grew up in an area loaded with red foxes and once called in enough during a season to finance my first decent shotgun through the sale of their hides. Calling one into range is pure excitement and challenge.
Quail are making a quiet come back in Carroll. The bobwhite is another once abundant area bird that nearly disappeared due to a series of hard winters, modern farming methods, etc. I stumble into more coveys each year it seems. Good bets are southern Carroll County north to the Westminster area.
We get surprising numbers of woodcock, but I'll bet not one resident in 100,000 has taken the time to seek one out. You can find them in the northern and western areas of the county around marshy or wet bottom lands. In the western portion, near Frederick County, you also will have the occasional grouse take five years off your life with an unexpected flush.
We have huntable numbers of Canada geese in this county and I know of a few hunters who are taking advantage of the superb shooting. Problem is access to lands.
Duck hunting is another story. Good duck hunting can be enjoyed along any number of accessible creeks, rivers and streams, including the Monocacy, Big Pipe Creek and Gillis Falls as well as farm ponds and their feeder streams.
Trout Unlimited meeting
This month's meeting of the Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited is Thursday at the Piney Run Nature Center at 7 p.m.
Contest for waterfowl artists
The Department of Natural Resources is accepting entries by local artists for the 1994-95 Maryland Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest. Call Gail Fields at (410) 974-2035 for details.
Fly fishing show
The Mid-Atlantic Council Federation of Fly Fishers will conduct a Fly Fishing Show and Conclave on Friday and Saturday at the Gettysburg Ramada Inn.
Rockfish season extended
The recreational striped bass (rockfish) season has been extended through Nov. 21 in Maryland waters.