Maryland Bear Hunting Tag Lottery SetChad Pfeiffer, Bear Hunting Magazine
There is both good news and bad news for the Department of Natural Resources' lottery permits for bear hunting this year.
First, an analogy. Many sportsmen's clubs and similar groups have raffles, where you get a prize if your business card is pulled from the fish bowl. If not against the rules (wink, wink), you can increase your chances of winning an Alaskan hunting trip or a Weatherby rifle or a can of Hoppe's No. 9 gun oil by throwing in a half-dozen business cards.
This year for the first time, the same thing applies--legally, we might add-- with the Preference Points System for Maryland bear-hunting applications. And that's good news.
The bad news is that it won't help you for the 2007 drawing.
The traditional permit application system still applies if seeking one of the 220 bear-hunting permits available this year. Apply online from Aug. 1, through Aug. 31 at http://blackbear.dnr.state.md.us/. Or apply by calling 1-888-579-6768 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Mark your calendar. And enter only once. They will catch you--and toss your application--if you try to fudge the system.
The Preference Point System helps in future drawings by providing an additional entry--or--raffle ticket--in the bear lottery for each consecutive year that you apply. Apply the next 10 times and you get 10 chances--not one--of being chosen. If you miss a year in sending your application and required $15 fee, you forfeit all previous Preference Points.
You also lose all previous Preference Points if you are selected for a bear permit. That happens even if you decide not to hunt bear and forfeit the coveted annual permit.
This year the bear season in Allegany and Garrett counties is from Oct. 22 through Oct. 27 and from Dec. 3 through Dec. 8. But with an eye toward keeping the bear numbers under control, the DNR will close the season when 50 to 70 bears are harvested. Last year the range was 35 to 55 bears with a final tally of 41.
Reach the 2007 number range, and the season is over. Period. Hunters must call the DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service after 9 p.m. each day of the season to learn if the bear-hunt quota has been met. With the season closed, wait until next year--and start over. By getting a permit to hunt bear, you have forfeited all previous Preference Points. Other hunters also need a chance for a bear permit.