Groundhogs: Now's time to bag them

OUTDOORS

June 20, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Wayne Albaugh and I weren't a dozen feet from his truck early last Saturday morning when we spotted two young groundhogs around their hole in a recently cut hay field some 175 yards away.

I dropped a hand-loaded cartridge into my rifle's chamber and rested the Kevlar forearm on the top of a fence post. As Albaugh spotted for me, I located the groundhogs through the 6-18X Redfield scope and aimed for the one on the left.

My rifle and load were sighted to place the 52-grain hollow-point an inch high at 100 yards, so I held a little low and applied pressure to the match-grade trigger. I didn't miss.

The chuck on the right was deep within the safety of its hole almost at the sound of the shot. Fifteen minutes later it showed itself to my partner. He didn't miss.

Chuck hunting doesn't get any better than it is right now.

It will continue like this for maybe three weeks, depending on how much rain we get and how fast the soybeans and hayfields grow.

Generally though, you should be able to enjoy the hunting until a week following the 4th of July. After that the grasses and crops will be too high to allow you to spot the rodents.

Chuck hunting is very popular throughout Carroll County and for good reasons.

The county's rolling farmlands and abundant wood lots make for ideal living conditions for groundhogs. How good? I've easily managed to tally 100 during the summer months just by hunting an evening or two a week after dinner, and for a few hours during the weekends.

Though you will get shots inside of 50 yards, most opportunities will be much further. A good pair of binoculars will prove to be priceless.

We only hunted for 2 1/2 hours this time out, but we got off seven shots at five chucks and saw another four that were either out of range or at a dangerous angle.

Last Saturday's hunt took place on an average-sized dairy farm on the outskirts of New Windsor.

The owner of the farmer said, "I sure appreciate you and Wayne coming around to shoot these groundhogs.

"In a couple more weeks that strip you guys were shooting will have soybeans in it and if we don't get them cleaned out of the field by then, they'll go through those beans like a Weed Wacker."

I urge people looking for a place to hunt to offer their services to Carroll and other central Maryland farmers.

This is not to say that every stranger to drive up to the barn is going to be greeted like a member of the family, but if you are courteous, don't look like someone dressed for combat and generally present a responsible demeanor you often will pass the initial test.

Remember a few simple rules.

Ask where you can and cannot shoot. Never shoot near any livestock nor into the neighboring properties. Don't even think about shooting if you are not positive about hitting a safe backstop when you miss. Don't shoot at or near houses.

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