Scopes on blackpowder muzzleloaders? It's just not fair game


January 04, 1998|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The muzzleloading blackpowder rifle deer season ended yesterday. I stopped by Bullock's Meats, one of Carroll County's official deer checking stations, late in the afternoon of the first day's hunt on Dec. 27 and watched Douglas West check in a nice 4-pointer weighing 134 pounds. He told me that this was his third deer of the year, having already bagged another 4-pointer during the bow season and a spike buck on the first day of the rifle season.

I was pleased to note that his .50 caliber blackpowder rifle was not equipped with scope, which is permitted for the first time this year without any sort of permit.

I reluctantly accepted the general use of compound bows years back, when traditional and recurve bows fell out of favor, but the use of scopes on blackpowder muzzleloaders feels like cheating to me. I feel the same way about the new in-line muzzleloading rifles.

Compound bows are easier to use than the old recurve designs, but a hunter still has to get close and be capable of making a killing shot. Despite my continued misgivings, they haven't dramatically changed the original intent behind a bow season.

Not so with the present use of scoped muzzleloaders and in-line rifles. Neither is anywhere near the original intent of recreating a "primitive" hunting season. Both make a mockery of the hunt.

We already essentially have an uninterrupted whitetail deer season that runs from September to January. Instead of playing to special interests and pitting bow hunters against rifle hunters and both against muzzleloader fans, I have long advocated the elimination of the three separate seasons.

Make things simple by saying the whitetail deer season will be from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and the use of a bow, muzzleloader or shotgun/rifle (depending on local regulations) is legal to take up to a maximum of three deer annually, of which only one may be an antlered buck.

In a recent Department of Natural Resources press release, secretary John Griffin said, "The popularity of hunting with primitive firearms continues to grow with the number of muzzleloaders climbing by 84 percent over the past 10 years. The number of days spent muzzleloader hunting has increased by almost 200 percent during the same time period."

According to that release, 5,300 deer were taken during the three-day special early muzzleloader hunt conducted in October, which represented a 30 percent increase over the previous year's October hunt. Last year, muzzleloader hunters bagged 9,099 deer. The previous year buckskinners took 9,831 deer. Scopes were not used (except under special circumstances) during either hunt.

A book worth reading

I know many Carroll residents who regularly treat themselves to exotic big-game hunts. Various members of the Baugher family, Jim Orzolek, Bruce Hoover, and Wayne Albaugh come immediately to mind. Some years back I did a feature on Union Bridge's Ed Reddick, who made western big-game hunts for more than 20 years.

A big-game hunt or exotic fishing trip can run into big dollars, but Reddick and the others managed to put together dream hunts and fishing trips without busting the budget.

That brings me to a fellow with whom I have shared boats, waterfowl blinds and quail fields over the years -- Bob Gooch.

For 30 years Bob has been making exotic hunts from Mexico to the Arctic and from Newfoundland in the East to the Rocky Mountains in the West. Cheaply.

All the details are in a great little book he wrote last winter, "Big Game on a Budget," selling for $9.95 in bookstores or from Bob Gooch, Rte. 2, Troy, VA 22974 (include $1.50 for postage).

A lot of books show up at my front door, but I'm not often impressed enough to attach my name to one via this column. But, this one is worth every cent.

Trout Unlimited meeting

The Jan. 15 meeting of the Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be held at the Mount Airy Library, beginning at 7 p.m. Charlie Gougeon, DNR fisheries biologist will make a presentation on the Patapsco River's trout fishery. The public is invited.

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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