Don sweat pants, enjoy venison

November 25, 2007|By CANDUS THOMSON

As we wrap up this weekend of turkey and all that goes with it, let us pause to give thanks for one of the true lifesavers of our time: sweat pants.

No kidding, where would we be this weekend without our cozy, expandable friends?

Of course, there are other reasons to be thankful. For Pat Gary of Millers, it's the freezer full of venison on its way from the butcher after a successful day bow hunting at Prettyboy Reservoir on Nov. 9.

Gary, the older brother of state fisheries biologist Marty Gary, took an 8-point buck that weighed 186 pounds field dressed, the largest he has ever taken in 30 years of hunting.

"Clearly," he said, "this shows the excellent public hunting grounds available to all hunters in the state of Maryland."

There are lots of other things to be thankful for if you're an outdoors lover in Maryland. I'm sure you have your own list. Mine includes:

The establishment of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail and the launching this year of the first three "talking buoys" to give paddlers and boaters history and ecology lessons as they follow the route of the famed explorer who poked his way around the bay and ups its tributaries. The first-of-its-kind water trail (it needs a shorter name, folks) will build bay knowledge as it creates more stewards clamoring for restoration of Maryland's biggest outdoors asset. A $500,000 appropriation request to buy more buoys is included in the federal budget being picked apart on Capitol Hill. Fingers crossed.

The vibrant work in progress that is the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative. It's hard to imagine bringing together recreational anglers, charter boat captains, watermen and corporations to work on a project. Sometimes, the creative process more resembles an open-air market than a quasi-regulatory body. But if these guys can pick their way through and around the organizational and financial challenges that come with any new group (and get some help from the Department of Natural Resources), they will build reefs in the bay and off Ocean City that fishermen will use for decades to come.

The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program. Each year, volunteers from the DNR and established sportsmen's groups help newbies and rusty veterans of the outdoors hone their skills. The two-day, sold-out workshop in October had courses in hunting, fishing, paddling, camp cooking and survival skills that drew rave reviews from participants. The program is financially self-sufficient and offers scholarships to help those who can't afford tuition. Every year, I hope a corporation will set up an endowment to ensure BOW's future. Maybe in 2008.

Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Run out of a small room at a Hagerstown church, FHFH pays butchers to process deer donated by hunters for distribution to food pantries and assistance programs. Last season, the nonprofit group paid for the processing of 2,513 deer, which translated into more than 500,000 meals. The total over its first 10 seasons is 12,955 deer or 2.59 million meals. Learn more online at

Bow, gun safety

More than 40 years and going strong, the 4-H turkey shoot held at MeyerStation Nature Center in Anne Arundel County teaches youngsters and adults about bow and gun safety with classroom instruction and field work.

Buz Meyer, owner of the Gambrills preserve and a certified safety officer, supplies instruction and the .22-caliber rifles and recurve bows.

The winners of the firearms contest were:

Class I (8-10 years old), Nick Davidson, Crofton; Class 2 (11-13 years old), Rebecca Rose, Halethorpe; Class 3 (14-19 years old), Tyler Anderson, Millersville; Class 4 (adult women), Wendy Sites, Harmans; Class 5 (adult men), Brad Rose, Halethorpe. The highest overall score was Rebecca Rose's 37/50.

The winners of the archery contest were: junior (8-10 years old), Ciera Saffran-Biggam, Pasadena; intermediate (11-13 years old), Dex Thompson, Pasadena; senior (14-19 years old), Danielle Kahler, Pasadena; adult women, Lisa Saffran, Pasadena; adult men, Tim Overstreet, Glen Burnie.

Laugh, maybe groan

Deer camp humor is particular and peculiar. Now it's a daily podcast.

The Deer Hunters Roundup is built around the antics and call-ins of Sam Erspamer, Joe Rimkus and Fat Frede Falls, FFF to his listeners.

Like most camp humor, you either like it or it makes you want to pull your sweat pants up over your head. You certainly won't mistake it for National Public Radio.

The brave can find it online at

Good luck.

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