I don’t know the duck hunters the marine police plucked from an iced over Chesapeake Bay off Sandy Point earlier this week, but I’ve “been” them probably more times than I care to admit, sans the escort back to the dock, fortunately.
And yes, I’m familiar with that old chestnut “he who casts the first stone.” But seriously, gunning the open frigid Chesapeake in a 16-foot jonboat? As you might imagine social media lit them up over that questionable life choice, and rightfully so, while praising the excellent work of the Natural Resources Police who rescued them and their dog. (Although I probably shouldn’t say this I will: I felt more relieved to learn the canine returned to dry land unscathed. That pooch didn’t have a vote as whether this was a good call; he/she was just along for the ride.)
No question this winter has had waterfowlers all jacked up to get after birds, even if it means sometimes pushing the limits. Yours truly, included. NRP spokeswoman Candy Thomson pegged our breed when she told The Capital “We know duck hunters like to be out in this weather, but this is a dangerous time … Small boats are no match for ice that gets out there floating around.” Amen to that.
Like many outdoors folks I try and put myself into a position to have fun and be successful. As a sportsman, I also recognize close calls are inherently part of the deal, whatever your passion. And like you I do a calculus on the risk/reward, and a checklist to ensure gear in working order, full compliment of safety equipment, float plan, itch plan, weather window, and so on. At the top of my list, however, is not to die.
Even with all of that, there’s a fine line between a calculated risk and recklessness, and poor decisions coupled with unforeseen changes in conditions or equipment malfunction can touch off a cascade of life-threatening events, all made worse by the cruel chill of January.
As much as I’d like to ascribe my past close calls to the “nine lives” theory — that is, owing my narrow escapes to my cat-like reflects that allow me to always land on my feet — much closer to the truth is it’s been equal parts luck and preparation.
Knowing that, at this stage I prefer not push my luck. Don’t misread me — I love a great wing shooting trip as much as anyone, and with only six days left in what has been a great duck hunting season I hope to get out at least once more. But not at all costs. These days I prefer my adventures like I like my whiskey — taken in small, measured sips.
Baltimore Boat Show: Curious if you have the right stuff to skipper a racing boat? You can find out by taking the helm at the Oculus Rift virtual reality experience at the Progressive Baltimore Boat Show, which runs Jan. 25-28 at the Convention Center. That’s just one of the new and exciting things anyone looking to get on the water this season can see at the show. Also new this year is the Kid’s Touch-A-Boat Tour, in which young would-be boaters can climb aboard real vessels and meet professional captains to hear their stories of a maritime life.
Want to brush up on navigation and docking skills? The Annapolis School of Seamanship can help with hands-on boating courses. Daily seminars, hosted by Chesapeake Bay Magazine, will get you primed for spring. In all more than 40 boat dealers will show off nearly 300 boats, with experts on hand to help you and family find the ideal boat. For tickets and hours visit BaltimoreBoatShow.com, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
From the Dept. of Corrections: In last week’s column I commented on an ongoing snakehead study, and incorrectly stated the DNR prohibits catch-and-release. This is not accurate, points out the department’s Joseph W. Love, Ph.D. I appreciate the correction.
Jan. 22: MSSA Perry Hall Chapter. Nick Garrott on "Understanding your fish finders.” The Chapter meets at the VFW Hall, 6309 Ebenezer Rd., Middle River.
Jan. 25-28: Progressive Baltimore Boat Show. Free daily seminars to increase your knowledge and confidence. Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets and details at baltimoreboatshow.com.
Jan. 30: Angler’s Night Out. Film “Buccaneers & Bones with Lefty, Season 2.” Hosted by CCA-MD, Boatyard Bar & Grill, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Happy Hour & food specials 5-7 p.m., film begins at 7 p.m. Fourth & Severn, Eastport. Details at boatyardbarandgrill.com.
Jan. 27-28: Kent Island Fishermen’s (MSSA Chapter 7) 8th annual Fishing Flea Market. Kent Island American Legion Post #278, 800 Romancoke Road, Stevensville. Admission $3; 16 yrs. & under admitted free.
Feb. 6: Fishing Tournaments Roundtable, Hosted by CCA Maryland Kent Narrows Chapter. 7 p.m. Fisherman’s Inn, Grasonville.
Feb. 7: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. John Mullican of the Maryland DNR will present “DNR Warm Water Species Management.” 7:30-9 p.m., Davidsonville Family Rec. Center, 3727 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville.
Feb. 10: Tri-State Marine Fisherman’s Flea Market, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free admission, $50 per table rental. Call Dawn Yoder to reserve table, (410) 867-2398.
Feb. 17-18: Pasadena Sportfishing Group's 26th annual Fishing Expo. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. both days. $5 each day, 12 & under free. Earleigh Heights Fire Hall, 161 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.
Feb. 24: MSSA Annapolis Chapter’s annual “Saltwater Fishing Expo. Held at Annapolis Elks Club, doors open at 8 a.m.
Feb. 24-25: Lefty Kreh’s Tie Fest. Admission $10 per day, $15 for both days. Anglers 16 and under and active military personnel admitted free. Lowes Annapolis Hotel, 126 West Street, Annapolis. Contact Tony Friedrich, (202) 744-5013.
Feb. 27: Angler’s Night Out. Film “Best of Catch Magazine, Season 3.” Hosted by CCA-MD, Boatyard Bar & Grill, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Happy Hour & food specials 5 p.m.-7 p.m., film begins at 7 p.m. Fourth & Severn Ave., Eastport. Details at boatyardbarandgrill.com.
March 3: Tri-State Marine Fishing Seminar, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Captains Richie Gaines & Wayne Morgan share expertise on “Light Tackle, Trolling, & Live Lining for Rockfish.” $30 per person, includes coffee, Continental Breakfast and lunch. Call Dawn Yoder (410) 867-2398 to register.
March 10: The “Mid-Shore Fishing Seminar,” American Legion Post #18, 2619 Centreville Rd. (Rt. 213) Centreville MD 21617. Featured speakers include Capt. Mark Galasso, Capt. Jeff Lewatowski and Joe Bruce. Hosted by CD Outdoors and Tacklecove.com. More details at email@example.com.