I began hunting at ten years old. I showed an interest in target practice, which eventually developed into an interest in hunting. My father took me to a local hunter’s safety course, which I passed with excellence. I have eastern Maryland. There is a vast amount of public and private land to hunt, fish, and trap.
In the Pocomoke State Forest, there are medium-density hardwoods and game trails and in E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area, there are soybean fields, swamps, lakes and thick, brushy areas. Stop by any gas station in a rural area of the lower shore in the fall at around 10 o’clock in the morning, or 6 o’clock in the evening and you’ll find a half dozen hunters at a time, coming and going, bringing in the deer, wild turkey, geese and ducks they’ve tagged and bagged that day to check them in.
One of the best things about hunting on the shore is the youth that are involved. There are hundreds of young hunters on the shore. Through the guidance of the parents who take them out and a hunter’s safety course, they are taught many valuable life lessons. They learn to respect firearms and wildlife, they acquire survival skills and get exercise walking and tracking through the woods. They are kept from that idleness during the weekends which so often leads to trouble for today’s youngsters. It is a superb opportunity to bond with kids, forging lasting memories and connections that will span a lifetime.
A young hunter grins from ear to ear after bagging his first turkey or deer and it is a moment he will never forget and that will mostly like be captured in quite a few pictures destined to find a place on the family’s walls. I remember bagging my first decent buck. It was a small eight pointer but I thought it was the biggest deer in the woods. It is still mounted on the wall in my room today, and it is a visible reminder of one of my finest childhood memories.
There are wonderful charities here on the Shore such as Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. There are numerous drop off points throughout the region were hunters whose own meat freezers are already full or who would just like to help out can drop off their bagged game to feed local people who are less fortunate. For more information on opportunities to help this charity visit www. Fhfh.org .
Since the Eastern Shore has a relatively large deer population as well as vital and healthy populations of other wildlife, this sometimes translates to serious crop damage for our local farmers. Hunting provides a positive solution to the problem for all the parties involved. The farmer’s crop damage is greatly reduced or eliminated and the youth and adults are provided with more hunting opportunities due to crop damage hunting permits being issued. In addition, the local venison charities are filled to the brim with meat for the hungry and the deer population is kept in check and incidents such as the recent fiasco in Ocean Pines where a deer ran amuck through a grocery store are prevented. The Shore has a rich hunting heritage that goes back generations to the founding of the Colony, and even to the dim, forgotten past of the Native Americans who hunted and fish these lands before the coming of the first European settlers. Hunting on the Shore is a part of its identity, a part of its culture, and part of its life.
Take a kid out, and show them the ways of woods, and you’ll be giving them, and the Shore itself, a gift that will keep giving through out a lifetime, and can in turn be passed on to the next generation. For information on Hunters Safety Courses for youngsters and adults, check out www.dnr.state.md.us./huntersguide/. Remember “SAFETY FIRST”, wear your hunter’s orange, and I hope to see you in the woods!