Chuck hunting picks up down on farm

OUTDOORS

June 12, 1994|By LONNY WEAVER

The best woodchuck hunting of the year is available right now from one end of Carroll County to the other.

Last week my chuck hunting pal, Wayne Albaugh, eliminated more than two dozen of the pesky marmots from a single New Windsor area farm over the course of two evenings and a Saturday morning. The week before that the two of us accounted for another half-dozen at the same spot during a morning hunt. And, from all reports and first-hand observations, we haven't made a dent in the population.

The action is so hot, in fact, that we have been neglecting a number of farms that depend on us to keep the groundhogs from overrunning the properties.

Chalk up all of this activity to two factors. First, local haymaking operations are in full swing, which means that active holes and chucks can be easily spotted. Secondly, this spring's litters are now out of the den holes and following their mother's example of eating every green plant in sight. Because of this second factor, multiple shots are the norm.

The farm that has occupied so much of our attention these past couple weeks is typical of most Carroll farmlands. In all, we're probably gunning over about 200 acres of rolling pastureland, hayfields and soybean fields. This place is bordered on three of its sides by high, though gently sloping, hills backed by extensive wood lots. Most of the farm is bordered by vine-choked fence rows. A handful of deserted or seldom-used outbuildings mark a long-forgotten farming operation. The chucks are running around this place like herds of cattle.

Last Saturday I chose a spot to set up my rifle rest offering cool shade and safe shooting over a large area of hilly hayfield, hedgerow and soybean sprouts. Albaugh, who would be shooting in the opposite direction, picked a hillside overlooking no less than a dozen active holes in another hayfield.

I had been positioned for less than 10 minutes when I spotted my first chuck of the morning as it ventured halfway out of its hedgerow hole, at the edge of a hillside soybean field about 150 yards away.

Three hours later I had not moved, but had collected four, missed twice and passed up three shots due to safety concerns. Albaugh nailed six out of eight attempts.

For the next two weeks or so, depending on the amount of rain we get, hayfields and any place soybeans are planted are where you should concentrate your attention. With luck, the good hunting should continue through the Fourth of July.

Local fishing update

Head for Liberty Reservoir for great smallmouth action over gravel bottoms or continued good striped bass fishing using large shiners. Striped bass action has slowed a tiny bit at Piney Run, but the bluegill and yellow perch action are more than making up for the slack. Use minnows or maggots for Piney Run's panfish.

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