Guided hunts are well worth it


Let's face the painful facts of life and admit that a guided hunt for a Montana elk or Alaskan brown bear and such is beyond the means of most sportsmen's budgets.

An acquaintance of mine, who doesn't lose a wink of sleep over how he's going to make his next BMW payment, thinks nothing of spending the equivalent of my annual grocery budget for a two-week guided hunting or fishing trip to some exotic location twice a year.

Many have tried to beat the guided game by loading the car and pointing it in the appropriate exotic direction. Inadequate planning, lack of time, improper equipment and the absence of hunting or fishing experience assures a miserable experience.

The Call of the Wild Sportsman's Club might be just what you need to make your dream hunt or fishing trip come true. I became familiar with the club more than a decade ago when I met the founder, Frederick's Harry Free.

Back then Free was running it as his Free Spirit Wilderness Outfitter service, and he could put you into an unusually good five-day Canada bear hunt for $500 or a seven-day Colorado or Montana antelope, mule deer or elk fling for about twice that.

Now Free has taken a less active role, but his basic idea of reasonable big-game hunting is very much alive and well.

"We are a club that promotes big-game hunting all over North America," said member Jim Orzolek.

"Right now we have 50 members and our own camps, ranches and guides in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska. We realize that the average hunter works by the hour and only dreams of going to these places.

"We, as a group, can do the same hunt that would normally be priced out of the average sportsman's grasp for just a fraction of an outfitter's cost. And, the more members we get the cheaper the whole thing gets."

Last October, Orzolek, John Hammond and Keith Lochary spent two weeks in Wyoming and came home with full tags on mule deer and antelope.

Six members opted to hunt Alaska last fall for caribou and five out of six brought home trophy-sized bulls. Another group hunted elk in Colorado, and all but one of the members filled their tag.

Call of the Wild is operated as a non-profit organization and makes sizable donations to charitable organizations annually. Last year, for example, the club divided $4,000 to Make a Wish Foundation, Maryland Sheriff's Youth Ranch, the Ronald McDonald House and the Frederick County Hospice.

Most of the donations are raised by sponsoring the popular Call of the Wild Sportsman's Show each year at the Frederick County Fairgrounds. This year's show is scheduled for Aug. 13-14, and booth space can be reserved by calling Free at (301) 831-9586.

For more information about the club, call Orzolek at (410) 875-2199.

Reader's tip

Bobby Mitchell of Brooklyn Park shares this tip: "When I'm fishing streams and rivers I cast down current with a lure that will dive to the bottom, and then I retrieve it very slowly as I work it in a back-and-forth pattern.

"I do this because bigger fish won't chase a lure cast into the current and washed quickly downstream."

MSSA meeting scheduled

The Pasadena Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportmen's Association will meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Maurgale Inn on Nabbs Creek Road.

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