Powder season is all wet so far* Pass the Saran Wrap. No...

Bill Burton's Outdoor Journal

December 27, 1990|By Bill Burton

Powder season is all wet so far

* Pass the Saran Wrap. No, this is not a food column, but most muzzleloaders who participated in the first two days of the blackpowder deer season used it. Probably as much Saran Wrap was used Saturday and Monday by smokepole buffs for their weapons as for wrapping their lunches.

Rain on the opener, and more rain accompanied by high winds Monday, could have stalled hunters in their effort to get the 5,000 deer forecasted by DNR forest game chief Josh Sandt. Keeping powder dry was a big job -- and many wrapped Saran around the business ends of their barrels and lock mechanisms. Cold, high winds also kept deer on their beds much of Monday, and few hunted on Christmas.

But, the season doesn't close until Jan. 5. And, muzzleloaders are accustomed to adversity.

Calendar ...

* Saturday: Mountain Club of Maryland hike on Appalachian Trail in nearby Pennsylvania. Call 242-8465.

* Wednesday: DNR freshwater fisheries chief Bob Bachman will cover coldwater fisheries for 1991 at a 7:30 p.m. public meeting of Free State Fly Fishers at Hillsmere Elementary School, Annapolis.

Commentary ...

* What's all this hubbub about Nalu, Akai and Nani, the bottle-nosed porpoises now performing at the Marine Mammal Pavilion of the National Aquarium complex?

Sure, I'd prefer dolphins roam the wild, but there are redeeming aspects of bringing three to Pier 4, the most important of which is their proximity to man, especially children. What better way to familiarize youngsters with these unusually intelligent creatures of the ocean?

The love affair between man and dolphins can do much to impress humans of the importance of sound ecological management of our oceans. We are bringing ocean creatures downtown so people can see and appreciate them -- and hopefully become more involved in preservation of life in the sea.

Humans must be exposed to such things if we are to expect them to become conservation activists. It's a tall order to get them involved without seeing actual fish and marine animals. TV and newspaper pictures won't do the job nearly as well.

These dolphins are fed and treated well, reside in a $35 million setting as close as possible to their natural homes, and appear to enjoy doing their acrobatics for us. Instead of marching around outside the center, protesters should go into the Lyn P. Meyerhoff Amphitheater and enjoy the show. Enough said.

Names and places ...

* You never know what you'll get when fishing for bass. Just ask Lamont Brown of Rockdale whose Rapala Shallow Runner took a 15 1/4 -pound landlocked rockfish at Piney Run. The lure runs no deeper than a foot below the surface, but that's where the 34-incher with 19-inch girth was feeding.

Freshwater fishing for rock and hybrids continues in the reservoirs, and though it has slowed the activity of hybrids it hasn't turned off rock.

* Baltimorean Terrence Power has a gripe: "Just a few lines regarding your article on Bob Skoronski [the former Green Bay Packers offensive captain who in his mid-50s has turned to hunting and fishing full time] and his accomplishments regarding hunting. It seems he has spent a great deal of his life killing God's creatures, and will spend the rest of it doing the same.

"It's a pity you and he aren't of an age to be in Saudi Arabia with a chance you nuts would be hunted and shot at. Please print."

Consider it printed, Mr. Power -- and with this comment. I can't speak for Skoronski, who is also a veteran, but I'm confident he feels the same. If Uncle Sam ever gets to calling up World War II Seabees, I'll be first in line. Until then, I'll keep on hunting in an ethical fashion, thank you.

Question box ...

* Baltimorean Rick Jabelowski wants to build a sidearm muzzleloader from a kit, and wants to know how large of a caliber will be needed to make it legal for deer during Maryland's primitive weapons season.

Our answer: In the past it was claimed it couldn't be done; some say it still can't because muzzleloader handguns can't provide enough punch to meet legal minimums for modern deer hunting. But recently primitive weapons manufacturers claimed their latest products will do the job, so the requirements have been revised by DNR.

Regulations now require only that all muzzleloaders must be of at least .40-caliber in size, and not use less than 60 grains of black powder (or Pyrodex), and propel one all-lead or lead alloy soft-nosed or expanding bullet or ball at a single discharge.

However, might I suggest you turn to a kit front-end loading rifle of which a wide assortment is available from many manufacturers. I further recommend a .50- or .54-caliber. There are enough handicaps to blackpowder hunting (including only one shot and a ban on scopes) without having too light a weapon.

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