- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

It’s not too soon to buy hunting licenses and visit local stores to replace frayed camouflage shirts and pants. Area mourning dove and resident Canada goose seasons aren’t far away.

It begins in Maryland where Sept. 1 signals the start of dove and goose hunting. We’re not talking migrant geese; these geese have learned to live and breed here and will never return to the Canadian tundras.

The seasons for Maryland dove hunters in all counties are Sept. 1-Oct. 15; Nov. 11-Nov. 19; Dec. 24-Jan. 7. Twelve birds per day are legal. Dove shooting hours in the first part of the season begin at noon and end at sunset. The resident goose season runs Sept. 1-Sept. 15 in the eastern zone, and Sept. 1-Sept. 24 in the western zone. Eight geese per day are allowed in both zones. The western zone includes all or any parts of counties that lie west of I-95.

Virginia dove hunters have a Sept. 3-Sept. 24 noon till sunset season, then resume with day-long hours Oct. 8-Nov. 5 and Dec. 27-Jan. 14. Virginia’s bag limit is 12, just as in neighboring Maryland. The Virginia resident goose hunt runs Sept. 1 through Sept. 24, with five-bird limits observed.

In Pennsylvania, dove hunters have a three-way split season, Sept. 1-Oct. 1 (start at noon); Oct. 29-Nov. 26, and Dec. 26-Jan. 4 (day-long hours). Twelve birds per day are legal.

The early statewide season for resident Canada geese will be Sept. 1 through Sept. 24. Pennsylvania’s bag limit for the resident geese is eight per day.

New ways to get hunt licenses — This year in Maryland you can apply for a hunting license anytime by phone at 800/918-2870. Payment can be made by electronic check or credit card, and your license will be delivered by mail. Or you can go online at wildlifelicense.com/md.

If you want to go the complete mail route for the hunting license, call or visit a DNR Licensing and Registration Service Center or a DNR On-Line Service Center using http://dnr.maryland.gov/download/dnrforms.asp. Complete all applicable sections and mail it with the appropriate fee. Applicants for nonresident licenses are required to submit a copy of their driver’s license, voter registration card or home state hunting/trapping license.

Virginia has done this for four years now. All you need do is call 800/986-2628 and you’ll be asked all the pertinent questions, given a temporary registration number, and the mailman will deliver the real article eventually. There is a $3.95 service charge because the state hired the private Bass Pro Shops to operate this service.

The greatest angler? — If you’re into tournament bass fishing, four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn is the greatest angler of all time. Clunn, of Ava, Mo., bested 34 other nominees to win the award after lengthy nominations and public voting in ESPN’s Greatest Angler Debate.

Clunn, 59, who is a 29-time Classic qualifier with 14 career BASS wins, has caught tournament bass weighing 8,380 pounds, 1 ounce in his career with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society — more than any other angler in the top 10. He has earned $1,655,144.50.

A lot of bass fishing insiders would have picked perennial tournament winner and cable fishing show host Roland Martin, of Clewiston, Fla. (by way of Laurel). However, the public voted and Clunn is it.

Highway Bill helps anglers/boaters — The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation hails the passage of the Highway Bill, which recaptures the final 4.8 cents of the 18.3 cents per gallon tax on motorboat fuels and directs it back in the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act’s Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. A big vote of thanks must go to Rep. Don Young (Republican, Alaska) who kept his commitment to sportsmen by holding the line during intense negotiations to keep the 4.8 cents provision. The money is used for boating safety education, water access and other programs.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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