Camps for hunters dwindling Clubs have a rich history


February 07, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

A friend was lamenting recently, "You know what I really miss when going hunting these days? Hunting camps. I remember when everyone wanted to belong to a deer-hunting camp or waterfowling camp. I'll bet there aren't a dozen left in the state."

It would be tough to nail down reliable figure on remaining hunting camps not only in Maryland, but also throughout the mid-Atlantic area. I think, though, that the figure is undoubtedly tiny compared with 30 or 40 years ago.

The culprit of the clubs' demise is modern transportation and, in the instance of deer, that species spread throughout the country into areas that are often as accessible as the wood lot behind your home.

You probably remember as well as I do how difficult it was to get to the Eastern Shore or Deep Creek Lake as late as the tail end of the 1960s. I well remember my parents moving me to Frostburg State College after I graduated from high school in 1964. From the Reisterstown area, that ride lasted nearly five hours as we wound our way up the old U.S. Route 40.

That's why deer hunters lined up to join hunting camps that would allow them to stay put for a week or so.

The most glorious of all the hunting camps, though, were the waterfowl camps, and Maryland had some of the most famous and exclusive. We still hear stories of the Glenn L. Martin camp, but one of the most exclusive was the Jefferson Islands Club, located off-shore from Tilghman Island.

I know many county anglers are familiar with Poplar Island -- that's where the club was located. The entire property now belongs to the U.S. government.

The club was founded by a group of Democratic Party stalwarts in Washington in 1930. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gunned ducks here often, and my friend, Bill Perry, who has lived all of his 60-plus years in the area, has one of the decoys that the president used when gunning there.

The original 30 members paid $550 initiation fees plus annual dues. This was pretty expensive, and when, in 1936, Sen. Harry Truman was invited to join, he had to confess that he couldn't afford it.

A few weeks ago my wife and I were the guests of the High Winds Gunning Lodge, on Assateague Island, for a pig and oyster roast presented by the Ward Foundation.

If the National Park Service forges ahead with its plans, this historic place will be burned to the ground.

The service purchased High Winds in 1968 under a law to establish Assateague as a national seashore. The original owners were allowed to lease back the lodge for 30 years, which ends this summer. A drive is being organized to see what can be done to save the place from the government torch.

The club was built in 1922 by Samuel Riddle, who owned legendary racehorse Man 'o War, and he officially operated it as a "gunning club" for invited friends and associates.

Thomas McCabe bought the place when Riddle died in 1942 and continued its operation as a private gunning club until he sold it to William Scott, Harry Jarvis, Walter Savage, Francis Townsend and Mitchell Clogg in 1952. In 1955, Clogg, his wife and two small children drowned in a boating accident on their return from High Winds.

Even now, the place is remote and requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get into under good conditions. President Richard M. Nixon visited on several occasions as well as other national and international celebrities.

News and notes

The Adams Co. Bassmasters are sponsoring a fisherman's flea market at the Greenmount Fire Hall, 5 miles south of nearby Gettysburg on Business Route 15 today until 3 p.m.

Also today, the Dug Hill Rod and Gun Club is having a still target shoot beginning at 11 a.m.

On Feb. 24, the same club has scheduled a black powder shoot beginning at 9 a.m. The club is on Wine Road, north of Manchester.

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