Streamlined 'Diamonds' is a winner

The Baltimore Sun

Diamonds, the perfect accessories for an evening out or a day on the water.

Once again, the state Department of Natural Resources will sponsor "The Return of Diamond Jim" fishing tournament. But this year's contest will have what the previous two editions did not: simplicity.

Instead of having rules that could only be embraced by an Ikea furniture assembler, Diamond Jim will use a structure already in place and used by thousands of anglers.

Catch a fish big enough to earn a state citation, file the paperwork at one of the 90 or so tackle shops that serve as check stations and you're entered in the contest for the grand prize.

The contest will begin by mid-June and end Labor Day. Top prizes are a Toyota Tundra pickup truck, and a boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats.

DNR has increased the chances to win by expanding the number of species eligible to more than 60. The first year just four Chesapeake Bay fish were eligible. Last year, it was 10 species, from Deep Creek Lake to the Eastern Shore.

This year's list will include species targeted by Ocean City surf fishermen and off-shore enthusiasts, as well, says DNR biologist and game show host Marty Gary.

"Through the contest, we'll be able to show the diversity and quality of the fish in our state. People will see everything Maryland has to offer," Gary says.

Another change is in the release schedule of the tagged "Diamond Jim" striped bass. Instead of the old format in which one fish carried "Diamond Jim" status for a week until the release of one the next week, this year "DJ" will remain eligible for an entire month of the three-month tournament.

The June fish will be worth $10,000. If it is not caught, the July fish will be worth $20,000. If it rolls over to August, the tagged fish will be worth $25,000.

Released at the same time each month will be 20 "impostor" Jims worth gift certificates and other fishing-related prizes.

Let the games begin.

This little piggy

I must be missing something here.

Someone is.

The hunting world and beyond is abuzz with the story out of Alabama of an 11-year-old boy who killed a 1,051-pound, 9-foot-4 wild hog with a pistol.

While lots of folks are fussing over photos of Jamison Stone's trophy, two numbers stood out to me: eight and three.

That's eight shots into the pig (out of 16 taken) and three hours of chasing before Jamison finally put the wounded animal out of its misery at point-blank range.

"It feels really good," Jamison told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's a good accomplishment."

Presumably, Jamison felt better than the pig did for its final 180 minutes on the planet.

His dad, Mike Stone, set up a Web site,, to show off his boy's "skills."

Except that the hog wasn't wild. His name was Fred. And until late April, he was a farm-raised pig, a Christmas present fed treats of canned sweet potatoes by the farmer's grandchildren, according to the AP. When the farmer decided to get out of the pig business, he sold Fred to a man who said he would be used for breeding.

Except that the buyer owns a commercial hunting preserve in eastern Alabama. Fred was placed inside a 150-acre pen.

The Web site for the preserve describes itself this way: "The terrain has everything that Lost Creek Plantation has to offer: From steep pine hillsides to hardwood creek bottoms, hogs have plenty of places to hide ... "

Not when you're the size of a Hummer.

On May 3, Jamison stepped into the pen toting a .50-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, claimed by the manufacturer to be "the most powerful production revolver in the world." His father said that to be safe, he and two guides had high-powered rifles ready to fire if the pig took a run at them.

The question is, why didn't Dad and the hired guns quickly finish the job junior butchered?

Instead, young Jamison was allowed to chase a penned critter and use him for target practice. Where's the sportsmanship and fair chase in that?

Jim Posewitz, a retired Montana game officer and head of Orion, the Hunter's Institute, warns that if hunters don't play fair, the non-hunting public will demand a new set of laws: "The concept of fair chase is important to hunting. The general public will not tolerate hunting under any other circumstances."

But when you pay money to have a farm pig served up on a platter, you're the boss hog. The Lost Creek Plantation rate card indicates a hog hunt costs $1.25 per pound - for the pig - plus $50 apiece for two guides.

And the worldwide publicity for the year-old plantation? Priceless.

I'm not alone in pondering the worthiness of this alleged accomplishment. Said Dave Petzal, Field & Stream magazine's firearms expert:

"I shot a .500 S&W; when it first came out in 2003, and it reminded me of the time when, as a kid, I tried to catch a 12-pound shot put," Petzal wrote Tuesday. "Does this mean we can look forward to 9-year-olds taking Cape buffalo with .577 Nitro Expresses? Seven-year-olds dropping elephant with .700 Holland & Hollands? Where does it all end?"

Jamison probably won't be taking on Petzal's tongue-in-cheek challenge. He told AP, "I probably won't ever kill anything else that big."

Or that easy.

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