Boy Scouts council opens woodland to hunters

Local clubs bid on rights to Broad Creek campground in an effort to control rapidly growing deer population

December 18, 2005|By TED SHELSBY | TED SHELSBY,SUN REPORTER

For the first time since Harry S. Truman was president, hunters are taking their weapons into a 1,700-acre section of woodland just outside the little town of Dublin in search of deer.

The Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America has opened its Broad Creek Memorial Scout Reservation in northeastern Harford County to hunters in an attempt to control an exploding deer population.

"It's the first time since 1948 that hunting has been allowed," said Reed Blom, director of support services for the Boy Scouts council. "Neighbors have been pleading with us to do something about the deer population."

The deer have been damaging small trees on the property and neighboring farmers' crops, Blom said.

After deciding to open the campground to hunting, the council sent letters to eight local hunting clubs, inviting them to bid for the rights to the property.

He said the council met with representatives of the clubs to explain the bidding and the ground rules, which included a 10-person limit for a hunting outing.

"We limited it because we didn't want people running all over the property," Blom said.

The campground - bordered roughly by Whiteford Road, Castleton Road, Peach Orchard Road, Susquehanna Hall Road, Flintstone Road and Paddrick Road - surrounds a 50-acre lake and draws about 4,500 Scouts each week during the summer.

"We don't want to wipe out the deer population," he said. "We only want to control it."

Karina Blizzard, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said each hunter could kill as many as six antlered deer and 30 antlerless deer during the hunting season, which runs from Sept. 15 to the end of January.

She said the rules require that two female deer must be taken before a second male is pursued.

Blom declined to identify the club that was awarded hunting rights to the property or the value of its winning bid.

"That's corporate business," he said.

He disclosed that the winning club did not necessarily submit the highest bid. There were other factors besides money, he said.

"We asked the groups what they could bring to the property, if they could help us with programs," he said.

He said the winning group agreed to put new roofs on two buildings and do other work on the property.

Rules established by the Boy Scouts prohibit hunting on weekends. There are also "blackout days," such as the Friday after Thanksgiving, when no hunting is allowed.

Blom said hunters also must follow DNR hunting regulations, which establish seasons for bow hunting and for shotguns. No rifle hunting is allowed. Blizzard said deer hunting with rifles is prohibited in the area because it is too close to population centers. Rifle bullets travel farther than the slugs used in shotguns, she said.

She said that the muzzleloader season also applies to the Boy Scouts camp property.

The senior ranger at the campground has received only two complaints about the hunting, Blom said.

"We have received a lot more compliments from people living in the area," he said.

It has not been determined whether hunting will be allowed on the property next year. It will depend on the size of the deer population and the amount of damage they do, Blom said.

ted.shelsby@baltsun.com

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