A lawn ailment that only camouflage can cure


I GET THE CABELA'S outdoors mail-order catalog. It's loaded with all kinds of rugged-looking male models in dandy camouflage gear. The first time I saw this, I wondered why anyone would want camouflage gear if they were going hunting. When I go out during deer season, I always wear a loud plaid jacket and a big foamy Dallas Cowboys hat. I don't want to be mistaken for a 10-point buck.

Then, one night over some whiskey and beef jerky, the camo thing was explained to me.

Among hunters is a breed that hunts with bow and arrow. They hunt deer with bow, and wild turkey with bow. They don't shoot their arrows great distances, so they need to get pretty close to the animals they're trying to kill.

I met a bowhunter a few years ago in Western Maryland. Stealth was his middle name. He was covered in camouflage gear and some kind of olive face paint. He looked like a commando from a Steven Segal movie. He needed the outfit to remain undetected as his prey wandered into range.

So now a woman in Green Spring Valley wants to hire a couple of bowhunters to kill the deer that have been eating her shrubbery, and the state has issued her a permit. Some people are troubled by this. They think it could be dangerous in a residential neighborhood.

They have a point. I'd probably feel the same way. (Where I live, we don't have deer. All we have is City Bunny, a rabbit who comes into the back yard and sniffs around and eats the clover. I like him, but he drives my dogs crazy. Every morning, I yell, "Release the hounds!" and off they go in a mad scramble of paws and howls. They never get City Bunny.)

If the deer-annoyed woman in Green Spring Valley hires competent bowhunters, they'll be able to whack a couple of deer at close range, without harming any humans. Maybe, if the Department of Natural Resources is going to issue hunting permits to people in suburban areas, the state should test and certify a few hunters for hire. Neighbors will feel safer when the guys in camouflage deploy.

Still, what a lot of fuss to save some shrubs.

People who live in suburban areas on the fringes of farms and woodlands ought to adopt more organic ways of keeping the deer off the shrubbery. Get a Russian wolfhound, or invite all your neighbors to use your back yard for dog walks. Spread some coyote urine; it's bottled and sold in garden shops. (Ever wonder how they get coyotes to give urine samples?) String up noisemakers. Set up a scarecrow that looks like a bowhunter. Or maybe one in a loud plaid jacket and big foamy Dallas Cowboys hat. That'll make 'em scamper.

Dear victim ...

A cleaning company in Glen Burnie had to fire a couple of employees after a doctor caught them with their hands in boxes where they didn't belong. One of the workers wrote a letter of protest, asserting his innocence -- on the doctor's stationery! ... From Cereal Mom: "I saw a van for a security company parked in Mount Vernon the other night. It was missing a license plate. Had a piece of brown paper taped in its place -- with the tag number and a confession that the real tags had been stolen."

Beware the Sox curse

I'm an estranged Red Sox fan. I go back to the days of Yaz and Rico. I choke up at the mention of Eddie Popowski. But it's been a rough ride, as you all know. There was the summer of '67, that Impossible Dream year, and the seven-game World Series Bob Gibson owned. Then came the '75 World Series failure, the '78 flop, the '86 World Series (Can you say Buckner?). I've been hurt -- in the heart and the wallet -- like everyone else from New England.

Living in the Land of Pleasant Living during most of that time eased the pain. The Orioles actually won a World Series in '83. (Can you say Tito Landrum?) Though my transition to the orange and black was complete several years ago, it's hard to avoid that ole Fenway feeling as the Sox head into the American League Championship Series against the eternal, infernal Yankees.

But I'm going to be careful this time. I'm not investing much. I'm going to watch from an emotional distance. I'm going to wrap my vulnerability in the trench coat Humphrey Bogart wore in "Casablanca." I'm going to be impenetrable. Others are advised to adopt the same attitude. You don't mess with The Curse. Anyone outside New England who bleeds for the Red Sox is a fool.

Camden Yards concession

And so are the guys who want to be the next Orioles manager and general manager. ... Did you see where the Orioles are thanking fans for once again "supporting us through thick and thin" and making the Birds tops in American League attendance? Anyone out there concede that Camden Yards, far more than the team, is what attracts people to the games? Anyone really believe Peter Angelos is the reason the Orioles will never leave Baltimore? Anybody think that tourist attraction of a ball park has something to do with it?

Worth celebrating

Mark your calendars: Bear Branch Nature Center at Hashawha Environmental Center, Carroll County, offers a landfill hike for all ages from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28. You'll get to hike to the top of the closed, 88-acre John Owings Landfill and learn about the elements of a secure landfill. Sounds like a party.

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