Hats off to Carroll County muzzleloaders.
They set a record in their special season, which closed Jan. 3 -- and by a good margin.
The still-unofficial count credits county front-end loaders with 312 deer killed, compared with 253 last year. Baltimore County shooters had 217, up slightly from 207 last year. Howard, with 85, fell 10 short of the previous season.
Statewide, the kill is off several hundred, but that gap could close as a few tardy checking stations report to DNR. This year's still uncompleted kill stands at 4,272. It was 4,640 in 1990-1991.
A hunters knows his gun -- and well he should.
Last week's column included portions of a letter from a reader who questioned the earlier bagging of an elk by Jim Orzolek. Thewriter contended that Orzolek shouldn't have taken a 500-yard shot; the odds of a clean kill were too great.
No intent to make this a minicontroversy, but in another letter, Orzolek had a few good pointsin defense of his shooting in a hunt in Colorado.
No way to get closer, a gulch was between hunter and elk, wrote Orzolek. Also, "any well-prepared hunter in my boots (after a 1,960-mile non-stop drive to hunt elk) and who knew his gun and its capabilities would take the shot."
Orzolek said he practiced long shots with his .30-06-caliber prior to the hunt, and the decision narrowed down to "how well do you know your gun?"
"If you prepared like I did, you should know your best buddy. I know my rifle as well as I know my wife; in fact I have been married only 11 years and have owned my .30-06 for 20 years.
"If I could have afforded a bigger, more powerful, flatter-shooting rifle I would have bought one, but I am just the average Jim, making truck payments, mortgage and keeping the kids in clothes. So I hadto make do with what I had.
"I agree long-range shots should not be taken by the average, one-week, gun-toting deer hunter. But for the few of us who do prepare, and know our guns -- a pat on the back, and a nice shot should be appreciated."
Snitching is generallylooked down upon, but there are times when it is appropriate -- and among them is the ruination of wetlands.
There is more than just water involved in such activities; fish and much wildlife depend on wetlands.
Normally, one doesn't think of inland counties when considering wetlands, but freshwater bogs, swamps and streams play an important role in the ecosystem, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted a policy of assisting the Environmental Protection Agency in the identification and investigation of illegal wetland activities in seven Maryland counties, among them Carroll.
Anyone spotting possible illegal wetlands development or modification in Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties should call call Barbara Mues of the Baltimore Corps of Engineers at (410) 962-3675. She will take the information, make out the initial report and take it from there.
Among wetlands violations are filling, dumping, dredging, modifying and just plain degradation. So report them.
If you saw poacher activity, you'd report it because the offender was robbing you of your fish and game -- and those who degrade wetlands are doing the same in a more subtle way. Don't assume that important wetlands are only those directly associated with Chesapeake Bay.
"Wetlands are being lost at an alarming rate across the U.S., and we must do all we can to conserve them," said Boston-based Ronald Lambertson, regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. "Our assistance in the Maryland effort is just one of the ways the service is committed to the protection of our nation's wetlands."
Those interested in exhibiting at Camrod Hunting Club's Gun & Knife Show on Feb. 15-16 at the Agriculture Center in Westminster can sign up now for a table.
The fee is $35 for both days.
The show will feature 250 trade tables; shown will be shotguns, rifles, ammunition, antiques, pistols, gun parts, knives, swords, books and military memorabilia.
Set-up will be Feb. 14 from 2to 8 p.m. Admission is $4; children under 12 free.
Call Preston Stevens at (410) 391-8883.