I often am asked to recommend a good spot for bird hunting. More times than not my advice is, "Go to a hunting preserve."
Though there is still good bird hunting to be found from one end of the state to the other, the sad fact remains that getting in on such action is difficult, at best, to a great many people.
About the only exception to this is ruffed grouse hunting, which is at its best on the public lands of Western Maryland.
One of the undeniable drawbacks to bird hunting here, in Anne Arundel County and nearby areas, is that practically all top-notch upland bird prospects are found on private lands, and as the saying goes, "If I don't know you, you ain't gettin' on my land."
Bird hunting should be on large tracts of traditional cover, with enough flushes to keep me from being bored and at least a couple of decent shots -- maybe even a chance or two at a double.
I like to follow a good pointing or flushing dog that works for me and not his own enjoyment. I also like the idea of being able to hunt without worrying about wandering across some neighbor's property line.
A preserve gives you all of these things, but for a price.
Over the years it has been my good fortune to enjoy a number of first-class preserves. The best and probably most famous in the world is Nilo Farm, near St. Louis and owned by Olin Corporation, makers of Winchester ammo. Nilo was one of the the nation's first hunting preserves and still serves as a model of the ideal.
This was an invitational affair and over the course of two days I shot released mallards, pheasants, chukars and bobwhite quail. In my spare time I tackled a host of claybird games -- skeet, trap, crazy quail, etc. Yes, a preserve can be very good.
The most popular preserve bird is the pheasant, followed by chukars and bobwhites. I've spent the better part of four-plus decades addicted to pheasants, mostly those reared in the wild.
Preserve pheasants can be almost as tough as the wild variety and, in truth, they also can be pretty easy. I remember Nilo pheasants as being strong fliers and I've never raised a complaint against those released by Foxy Pheasant Hunting Preserve, near Charles Town, W.Va (304-725-4963). I've also shot ringnecks raised by Foxy Pheasant owner Gene Abelow that he regularly sells to other preserves and have no complaints.
On the flip side, I recall a short-lived Eastern Shore preserve that featured pheasants about as challenging as a hen full of eggs.
Preserve quail are usually quite challenging -- a close match to their wild cousins, but chukars can be lazy from time to time. I've always enjoyed the chukars, though, and once had a "north-south" double captured on video that I'm quite proud of.
Fees vary from preserve to preserve and also depend on how many birds are released, what type, and whether or not you opt for a dog and handler (always a wise choice, in my experience).
I'd plan on $80 for four pheasants plus another $60 for a guide and dog. I think the way to do the trip up right is to put together DTC a party of two or three pals.
Area hunting preserves
* Bourbon Brook Hunting Preserve, Church Hill (410-556-6177) -- pheasants, quail, chukar, huns, turkey, geese.
* Chesapeake Gun Club, Chestertown (800-787-0037) -- dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, turkey, ducks, geese.
* Green Rest Hunting Preserve, Valley Lee (410-994-2104) -- dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, huns.
* Mason's Branch Hunting Preserve, Queen Anne (410-758-0162) dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, huns, geese, ducks.
* Native Shore Hunting Preserve, Centreville (410-758-2428) -- dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, huns, ducks, geese.
* Schrader's Eastern Shore Shooting Preserve, Chestertown 410- -- quail, pheasant, chukar, ducks.
* Greensboro Regulated Hunting Preserve, Greensboro (410-482-6873) -- dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, huns, ducks, geese.
* Hopkins Game Farm, Kennedyville (410-348-5287) -- dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, huns, ducks.
Sportfishing show coming
The 16th annual Chesapeake Sportfishing Show is set to open at 6 p.m. Jan. and will continue through Jan. 3 at the National Guard Armory on Hudson Street in Annapolis.
The show's doors open at 10 a.m., and admission is $5 for adults, free for those under 12. The show features guides, clubs, seminars and tackle sales.
Remington recalls ammo
The Remington Arms Co. is recalling a quantity of .243 Winchester, 100 grain. pointed soft point centerfire ammunition, index No. R243W3 because a limited number of rounds were loaded with an insufficient powder charge.
This will result in failure to fire properly and possibly could leave a bullet lodged in the barrel. This creates an obstruction that may be dangerous if another cartridge is fired.
The affected product has lot numbers that begin with UO6D or UO7D. These numbers are located on the inside left flap of the 20-pack cardboard box. Call (800) 634-2459 if you have a box with those marks.