- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Greg R. Lawson, director of communications for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, figures that conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh is no better than such outspoken anti-hunters as PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk. That is a powerful charge because, politically, recreational hunters normally think along conservative lines, and many are among Limbaugh’s most loyal listeners.

That might be changing. “El Rushbo” stands to lose more than a few fans.

The brouhaha began earlier this year when Limbaugh taped two “public-service” announcements for the most virulent anti-hunting group in the country, the Humane Society of the United States. Most sport hunters couldn’t believe what they heard when Limbaugh endorsed the HSUS, which unlike small neighborhood Humane Society chapters that are not associated with it, does nothing to help sick or lost animals. Instead, it spends much of its time raising funds to lobby against hunting and/or medical research in which animals are used to test medication and surgical procedures.

Recently, Limbaugh headed the list in Field & Stream’s 2009 “Hunting and Fishing Heroes and Villains Face-Off,” a tongue-in-cheek competition that matched defenders and opponents of hunting. Among the anti-hunters, Limbaugh knocked off Newkirk as the top hater of America’s recreational hunters.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance attempted to get Limbaugh to admit he made a mistake by siding with the HSUS, but Limbaugh would not hear of it.

Marylanders get the venison - Virginia’s deer totals aren’t in yet because the hunting season is still open, but Maryland hunters finished their recent two-week firearms hunt with 44,804 deer. Preliminary numbers list 15,447 bucks (including 522 sika deer) and 29,357 antlerless deer (including 618 sika does).

The hunters in Region A (Garrett and Allegany counties) shot 4,809 deer during the season, which began on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In Region B (all remaining counties), the success rate declined slightly, from 40,020 last year to 39,995. But Howard, Prince George’s and Calvert counties were the only ones that had less than 1,000 successful hunts. Frederick and Wicomico counties registered more than 4,000 kills.

A two-week muzzleloader-only deer hunt is now open. It ends Jan. 2.

A march on the District-Sport and commercial fishermen plan to demonstrate against the negative impacts of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 24 on the steps of the Capitol. Organizers hope to attract large numbers of demonstrators from coastal communities that have been affected by recent fishing closures.

“The closures keep coming, and it’s good to see the collective fishing communities and industries, both recreational and commercial, calling for [science-based] Magnuson reform,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

Donofrio said recent closures of amberjack, black sea bass and red snapper fisheries are examples of a “broken” federal fisheries law.

c Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.