Preserves fill the bill when it comes to bird hunting Good spots abound around Maryland


January 03, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

I often am asked to recommend a good spot for bird hunting. More times than not, my advice is to go to a hunting preserve.

Though there is still good bird hunting to be found from one end of the state to the other, the sad fact remains that getting in on such action is difficult for many people. About the only exception to this is ruffed grouse hunting, which is at its best on the public lands of Western Maryland.

One of the undeniable drawbacks to bird hunting in Carroll County and nearby areas is that practically all top-notch upland bird prospects are found on private lands, and as the saying goes, "if I don't know you, you ain't gettin' on my land."

Bird hunting, in my mind, should be large tracts of traditional cover, enough flushes to keep me from being bored and at least a couple of decent shots -- maybe even a chance or two at a double.

I like to follow a good pointing or flushing dog that works for me and not his own enjoyment. I also like the idea of being able to hunt without worrying about wandering across some neighbor's property line.

A preserve gives you all of these things, but for a price.

Over the years, it has been my good fortune to enjoy a number of first-class preserves. The best and probably most famous in the world is Nilo Farm, located near St. Louis and owned by Olin Corporation, makers of Winchester ammo. Nilo was one of the nation's first hunting preserves and still serves as a model of the ideal.

Over the course of two days at Nilo, I shot released mallards, pheasants, chukars and bobwhite quail. In my spare time, I tackled a host of claybird games -- skeet, trap, crazy quail, etc. A preserve can be very good.

The most popular preserve bird is the pheasant, followed by chukars and bobwhites. I've spent the better part of 40 years addicted to pheasants, mostly those reared in the wild.

Preserve pheasants can be almost as tough as the wild variety and, in truth, they also can be pretty easy. I remember Nilo pheasants as being strong fliers, and I've never raised a complaint against those released by Foxy Pheasant Hunting Preserve, near Charlestown, W.Va., (304-725-4963). I've also shot ringnecks raised by Foxy Pheasant owner Gene Abelow that he regularly sells to other preserves, and have no complaints.

On the flip side, I recall an Eastern Shore preserve that didn't survive very long that featured pheasants about as challenging as a hen full of eggs.

Preserve quail usually are quite challenging -- a close match to their wild cousins. Chukars can be lazy from time to time. I've always enjoyed the chukars, though, and once had a north-south double captured on video that I'm quite proud of.

Fees vary from preserve to preserve and also depend on how many birds are released, what type, and whether you opt for a dog and handler (always a wise choice, in my experience).

As a ballpark estimate, I'd plan on $80 for four pheasants plus another $60 for a guide and dog. I think the way to do the trip up right is to put together a party of two or three pals and have some chukars or quail thrown in and split the cost.

Later in the winter, we'll gun some preserves and share the adventures. In the meantime, here are a few within easy drive times of Carroll County that I can confidently recommend:

* Hay's Pheasant Hunt, Inc., Gettysburg, Pa., (717) 334-1588.

* Hopewell Pheasantry, Inc., Felton, Pa., (800) 847-8881 .

* Mason Dixon Hunting Farm, Glen Rock, Pa., (717) 235-2308 .

Fishing shows scheduled

The popular Bass Expo returns to the State Fairgrounds in Timonium this week beginning at 2 p.m. Friday and continuing through Sunday. The doors open at 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children 10 to 14.

This is a huge show featuring continuous seminars by local and national professional anglers, and more tackle, lures, electronics, boats and guides than you can imagine.

On Jan. 16, we have a Fisherman's Flea Market at the Freedom Community Center, located on Route 32, just south of Route 26. The show is sponsored by the Central Maryland Bassmasters and will feature all sorts of fishing equipment, boats and door prizes.

Admission is $2 and the hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Remington recalls ammo

The Remington Arms Co. is recalling a quantity of .243 Winchester, 100 grain pointed soft point (psp) centerfire ammunition, index No. R243W3 because a limited number of rounds was loaded with an insufficient powder charge.

This will result in failure to fire properly and possibly could leave a bullet lodged in the barrel. This creates an obstruction that may be dangerous if another cartridge is fired.

The affected product has lot numbers that begin with UO6D or UO7D. These numbers are located on the inside left flap of the 20-pack cardboard box.

Call (800) 634-2459 if you have a box with those marks.

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