This weekend ...
* Generally, the weather has been accommodating for Maryland's muzzleloader deer hunters since their two-week season opened Saturday. The kill appears to be running ahead of last year, and by the Jan. 4 close look for last year's record of 4,640 to be topped unless conditions get wet.
Many who have already scored have purchased a bonus stamp, which entitles them to a second deer. Department of Natural Resources records indicate that 5 percent of the estimated 35,000 primitive weapons hunters take two deer in a season -- that's one out of 20 who bring home the venison twice. Not bad, considering they have only one shot. And among modern firearms hunters, only 6 percent get more than one deer; the same among bowmen.
Incidentally, claims by some that muzzleloaders might not be as sporting as modern firearms hunters because they get a much larger percentage of antlerless deer with their front end loaders really aren't justified.
True, they do get more deer without antlers -- last year it was 1,020 antlered bucks as against 3,620 does and button bucks -- but it has little to do with sportsmanship, or trophy hunting. Consider that the muzzleloader season follows the modern firearms shoot during which an appreciable larger percentage of antlered deer are taken.
DNR wildlife managers attribute much of the better than 3-to-1 antlerless muzzleloader harvest to the fact that many of the antlered deer have already been harvested by the opener of the smokepole season. Consider also, that for stabilization of a deer herd, the antlerless harvest must be larger than the antlered kill -- so muzzleloaders play an important role in management.
In their very long hunt that begins in mid-September and continues through January, bowhunters also take more antlered deer. Last year bowhunters took 5,091 antlered and 3,514 antlerless. But considering their exceptionally long season, also the advantage of going afield first and for 10 weeks before other hunters, they have the opportunity to pass up early easy shots and wait for trophies later in the season.
Some ideas where muzzleloaders might score on public lands in the last week of their shoot: Dans Mountain, Warrior Mountain and Green Ridge, also Rocky Gap State Park, in Allegany County; Spiegel/Sawmill Co-op, Carroll County; Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls and Thurmont Watershed, Frederick County; Savage River, Potomac and Garrett State forests, Garrett County.
Also, Hugg-Thomas, Howard County; Millington Wildlife Management Area, Kent County; McKee-Beshers, Montgomery County; Indian Springs and Sideling Hill, Washington County; and Pocomoke State Forest, Worcester County, where there is also a long-shot chance for a sika. The season closes Jan. 4.
* Saturday: Moderately strenuous Mountain Club of Maryland hike at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Call 377-5625.
* Sunday: Easy Mountain Club of Maryland hike of five miles along the Susquehanna River to Conowingo Dam. Call 466-4931.
* Next Friday: Opening of the three-day 15th annual Chesapeake Sportfishing at the Annapolis Armory. In addition to many booths featuring guides and charterboat captains and the latest in tackle, there will be continuous fishing movies and seminars conducted by skippers and guides. The seminar schedule:
* Friday: 7 p.m., Trolling for Trophy Rockfish in May; 8 p.m., Bass Fishing In Maryland; 9 p.m., Fishing for Rock at the Bay Bridge.
* Saturday: 11 a.m., Rockfishing at the Bay Bridge; noon, Bass Fishing In Maryland; 1 p.m., Upper Chesapeake Fishing Possibilities; 2 p.m., Trolling for Rock In May; 3 p.m., Mid-Atlantic Offshore Possibilities; 4 p.m., Rockfishing at the Bay Bridge; 6:30 p.m., Bass Fishing In Maryland.
* Sunday: 11 a.m., Trolling for Trophy Rockfish In May; noon, Mid-Atlantic Offshore Possibilities; 1 p.m., Bass Fishing In Maryland; 2 p.m., Rockfishing at the Bay Bridge, and 3 p.m., Bass and Rockfishing.
The show opens Friday at 6 p.m., at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults; children under 15 admitted free. Call 1-410-841-6974.
Planning ahead ...
* Jan. 6: Reopener of the Maryland bow season for deer, which closes Jan. 31.
* Jan. 8: Keith Walters, author of Chesapeake Stripers, will speak at an open 7:30 p.m. meeting of Freestate Fly Fishers at Hillsmere Elementary School, Annapolis. Call 1-410-798-1194,
* Jan. 10-12: Eighth annual BASS Expo, Cow Palace of Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium. Among the features will be the state championship in BASS Masters Casting Kids competition on the 11th at 7 p.m. Call 247-4973 or 247-8166 for details on the casting program; 574-6139 for info on the show.
* Jan. 15-20: Washington Boat Show, Washington Convention Center, call 1-703-569-7141.
Names and places ...