Don't let deer get wind of your scent


September 26, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Tom Mullen, an avid deer hunter from Sykesville, called me about last Sunday's mention of tree-stand safety and reminded me that many hunters assume that once they climb a tree, deer can no longer smell them.

"I've watched deer pass under my stand unalarmed only to hit my scent 40 or 50 yards downwind and jump as if they'd bumped into an electric fence," he said.

Mullen is right. I've had similar experiences hunting or photographing from tree stands. When you get into a tree or other elevated stand, your scent doesn't contaminate the immediate area. Instead, it drifts along on the prevailing air currents until it settles or falls onto the ground anywhere from 50 to 150 yards away.

If you hunt from a tree stand, and it is probably the most popular method among bowhunters and a great many rifle or slug-gun hunters, you need to be just as aware of wind directions as the hunter operating from the ground.

If you use a portable stand, set it downwind of the trail. If you hunt from a permanent stand, have at least two, so that you can hunt one on days the wind blows from, say the north, and one for days or times when it blows from the west.

Also, remember that scent rises in the morning as temperatures warm, then flows downhill as the air cools in the afternoon. Use this to your advantage by hunting high ground in the morning and moving to the valleys in the afternoon.

October busy time for all

The fall striped bass (rockfish) season kicks off in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake and the Potomac River on Friday.

If you are fishing from a charter boat in the bay the daily limit is two, and the season is set to continue through Nov. 21. If you are going out on your own or a friend's boat, you will be limited to one rock daily, and this badly named "recreational" season ends Nov. 7.

The Potomac River season continues through Oct. 19 and then continues Nov. 5-14.

The daily limit is one fish between 18 and 36 inches.

Rockfish caught in the Maryland portion of the bay must be at least 18 inches, but there is no maximum length.

Don't overlook freshwater fishing in October, especially bass fishing. October, November and, weather permitting, December are probably the best months. More really big bass probably are caught at these times than all others combined.

The Brunswick and Snyders Landing areas of the Potomac, for example, have been especially good these past few days with bass weighing as much as 4 pounds hitting crayfish, shiners, salt grubs and tube baits as well as early-morning surface plugs. Yellow perch, crappies and largemouths have been biting well at Piney Run all week.

Bowhunting continues, and the action should be picking up now that we are seeing cooler weather.

But, don't forget that squirrel and grouse seasons kick off Oct. 5 and both should be especially good this fall.

Carroll wood lots are full of squirrels, but about the only ruffed grouse will be found in the far western areas. Frederick County, especially the Frederick city watershed and the Thurmont area, give me consistently good grouse hunting, though you will be well-advised to wait until mid or late November when the leaves are on the ground for grouse and mid-October for squirrels. Because of the popularity of deer hunting, you are wise to hunt birds and squirrels on weekdays when you have things to yourself.

The early dove season shuts down Oct. 23, but woodcock kicks in on the 19th and you'll find them in the Hanover Watershed, north and west of Taneytown and from Frederick County west. The woodcock season continues through Nov. 26, then picks up for a Dec. 13-18 hunt. The daily limit is three.

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