- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Maryland Natural Resources Police recently charged two Eastern Shore juveniles each with 35 hunting violations and five theft charges after a lengthy investigation concluded when officers stopped the pair on a simple traffic violation.

Police had received reports of illegal hunting activity and waterfowl decoy thefts in the southern part of Talbot County. Surveillance was set up near the town of Trappe, and eventually a vehicle matching the description, with a 17-year-old male driver from Easton and two 16-year-old male passengers from Easton and Trappe, was stopped.

As officers approached the car, they noticed a loaded rifle under a jacket on the front seat, police said. A search revealed another loaded rifle in the trunk along with a pair of whitetail deer antlers, a spotlight, hand saw, night vision goggles and two cameras. The rifles and equipment were seized as evidence.

When the film in the cameras was developed, it revealed photographs of two of the juveniles posing with several dead deer at night. One antlered deer matched the antlers seized from the vehicle. Officers said they also found a deer carcass that matched the antlers in the car and located several other dead deer in the rural area, along with empty shell casings of the caliber used to kill them. Some of the carcasses had antlers or heads removed with a saw.

A search and seizure warrant at the Easton home of the 17-year-old revealed five sets of whitetail deer antlers. Also seized from a shed at the residence were 30 full-bodied waterfowl decoys. Later, an additional 32 decoys were seized. The decoys apparently were stolen, police said.

Two of the juveniles were charged with five counts each of hunting and possessing deer during closed season; hunting deer at night; hunting on private land without written permission; hunting from a vehicle; having a loaded weapon in a vehicle; using a rifle to hunt deer in an area restricted to shotgun-use only; and shooting on, from or across a roadway.

Each of the hunting charges can result in a fine of $1,500 and/or six months imprisonment for first time offenders. If found guilty, the individuals can lose hunting privileges for two to five years. Both juveniles also were referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice for five counts of theft under $500. All the decoys recovered were returned to their owners. The third juvenile, also of Easton, was not charged.

Maryland deer kill record — Maryland deer hunters bagged a record 93,868 deer this season, along the way establishing a record for antlerless deer — 59,229 (58,373 white-tailed deer, 856 sika deer).

A little down in Virginia — During the 2004 Virginia deer season, 220,538 deer were shot by hunters. This total included 105,933 antlered bucks, 20,240 button bucks and 94,365 does. The 2004 kill figure represents a 6 percent decrease from the 235,037 deer reported killed in 2003. It is, however, 6 percent greater than the average of 207,200 over the last 10 years.

Fletcher’s Boat House open —Just before I left town for an extended Easter holiday, the National Park Service left a phone message to say the Potomac River’s popular Fletcher’s Boat House, off Canal Road in Georgetown, was open. I haven’t been able to visit it personally, but I was assured local anglers could come down. There probably will be a name change since former proprietors Ray and Joe Fletcher have retired, but until further notice we’ll call it Fletcher’s Boat House.

The reopening of the facility is just in time for the arrival of white perch, herring, rockfish and shad. In fact, if all goes right, you should find herring and white perch as you read this.

La Plata boat and RV show — The La Plata Lions Club will have its eighth annual Boat and RV Show on April 30 and May 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Charles County (Md.) Fairgrounds off Route 301, just south of La Plata. Admission is $4 for anybody over 18.

Come and check out Maryland and Virginia boat and recreational vehicle dealers, as well as local vendors, crafters and auto dealerships. The Southern Maryland Corvette Club will be there May 1. Plus, there will be entertainment and food prepared by the Lions Club.

Proceeds from the show will benefit Lions-supported charitable activities. For additional information, call Wayne Smith, 301/645-3994.

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

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