Search for the great outdoors takes a trip inside

January 31, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Cabin fever raged in Maryland yesterday -- and not just the kind you get from being cooped up at home by snow and ice.

Call it hunting cabin fever. And cabin cruiser fever.

The diseases ran their course at the Baltimore Convention Center where crowds took in the Chesapeake Bay Boat Show, and at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium where the Mid-Atlantic Hunting and Fishing Show had the outdoors set eager for action.

Of course, they were indoors.

Outdoors, temperatures were hovering in the low 30s and snow flurries were beginning -- not so bad by the standards of the deep freeze earlier this month.

A few hardy football fans even played in a bowl game of sorts in North Baltimore -- not the Super Bowl, but the Mud Bowl, courtesy of all the melted ice and snow.

The indoor outdoors was less messy.

"Hunting, fishing, we're into all that," said Mark Chassereau of Middle River, attending the show in a warm and dry fairgrounds building with his son, Ryan, and father, Bobby Chassereau. "Mostly it's fishing, though."

Ryan was celebrating his ninth birthday in fine style.

"I had my picture taken with an alligator, and I made a fishing fly, too," he said, showing off the lure, encased in a small plastic bottle with a plastic cap.

The Chassereaus and hundreds of others took advantage of the weekend show's final day to examine the latest in hunting rifles, fishing rods and lures.

Children, fatigued from the long walk through display booths, were cheered by the chance to see live birds as part of the hunting exhibits. Pheasants and bobwhite quail could be seen hiding in the brush within a display put up by the Gunpowder Game Farm in Hampstead.

Across the display floor were Earl Schriver's beautiful birds of prey: a red-tailed hawk, a golden eagle, a peregrine falcon and its hybrid relative, the gyrfalcon, a raven and a great-horned owl.

"Hunting with birds of prey is the oldest field sport known to man," said Mr. Schriver of Baden, Pa., who brought some of the birds he uses for hunting to the show.

"Hunting with birds of prey dates to 2500 B.C. and was the original way of killing small game until gunpowder was invented," he said.

For those interested in large game, booths offered a "South Pacific Safari" to New Zealand and spring fishing trips on a charter boat in Ocean City.

"I think people are just waiting for the weather to break," said Chuck Betyeman at the Hooked Up booth, promoting the Ocean City charters.

"Talking about fishing is getting everybody's mind off being indoors and slipping and sliding on the ice," he added.

Ocean City also came to mind at the Convention Center show -- mostly because of Cathy Colvin, who was busy playing in sand.

"Bet you hate tides," said one man, as he watched the San Diegwoman sculpt an image of two Maryland crabs playing cards in a temporary "beach" of trucked-in sand.

"Don't think there's much chance of that in the hallway," she quipped. "That would be big news in Baltimore."

But boats, not beaches, were the real business at hand.

Tommy Gootee, of Gootee's Marine in Golden Hill on the Eastern Shore, said he closed three sales during the final weekend of the nine-day show.

"The most common question we get is 'Will this be safe for my family?' " he said.

Family safety wasn't the only issue on the minds of John and Joan Chall -- it was family size.

"We own a boat, but we're looking to trade up," said Mr. Chall, who lives in Columbia.

"The kids are getting bigger. The boat show's great because you can comparison shop," he said.

The most popular boat at the show -- the one with the longest line -- appeared to be a Bayline 45-foot cabin cruiser, equipped with a clothes washer and dryer and described by Tom Rokicak of Tidewater Yacht Sales as "a nice floating cottage."

"It's the best bargain of the show," he said. "It's 288."

That is, $288,000.

For many, though, touring the boat show was more about ideas, and a chance to think of spring, than actual buying.

"We like cruising. I call it water-picnicking," said Peggy Piel of Catonsville, who toured the show with her husband, Dick.

"We got a lot of ideas for improving our own boat. And it gave us a chance to envy my son, who's fishing in the Bahamas," she added.

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