- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

(After being a steadfast hunting and fishing companion for more than 30 years, my friend Dean Lee, formerly of Darnestown, Md., has retired and moved to Savannah, Ga. Despite the distance that separates me from Dino, we stay in touch. What follows is a copy of an e-mail that any dyed-in-the-wool hunter who customarily shares his days afield with a like-minded friend will understand Gene Mueller)

Well, Dino, since the opening of Maryland's deer hunting season and the big doe I had in my sights, the woods up at Doc's place have been kind of quiet. Several times this week I went up there and hunted the section that is across from our German-style deer stand, the "Deer Haus" that you and I spent so many happy days in, drinking that gosh-awful swamp-water tea you used to brew and waiting for the whitetails to show up (which happened on occasion).

The fields and forests in Charles County are covered with a crusty layer of snow and when I walk across the stuff it sounds as if an entire army of men is approaching. It gives me the jitters because I know that the deer can hear me from a mile away. Oh, well. I'll sit up in your old ladder stand some more or walk up the staircase into our Deer Haus, hoping that the deer will come along eventually. After the initial heavy snowfall that was followed by sleet and rain last week, things now are so frozen over they will have to begin to work for their food after having laid low for a few days. You know, the year's first sight of snow scares the bejeebers out of deer, but eventually they get used to it, and now they'll be busy looking for body fuel.

Your old ladder stand, which I moved before the season began, is wedged between two strong sweet gums. I leaned against the trunk of one of them Monday and waited. You know the place. It's about 500 feet from the little woodland lane junction that we used to walk on to reach our ground blinds many seasons ago. Within 10 minutes two squirrels started chasing each other around a tall oak just to the right of the gum trees.

Then I heard a little noise and wow! out from below came a buck straight toward me. I believe it was the same deer Doc has been talking about. He had a massive set of antlers. My goose-hunting friend, Mike Guy, of the Guy Brothers Marine store in Clements, would say: "He looked like Bullwinkle."

The Bullwinkle buck appeared to have 12 or 14 points, a wide spread and long, white antler and brow tines. Of course, he smelled a rat in no time and swiftly backtracked before a shot could be taken. He disappeared over the ridge below, never raising his flag. Don't know if he actually saw me because I stood perfectly still some 12 feet off the ground. As you know, bucks don't grow to that size if they're dumb. The ones that survive year after year have a sixth sense about a presence of danger, I'm sure.

Lots of rubs and scrapes were seen in the section where I placed the portable stand, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. Since I put that ladder stand into the new location, one buck made a scrape within 20 feet of it. He apparently didn't worry about the strange new metal contraption that suddenly appeared.

Anyhow, I'll be patient and bide my time.

Before I forget, Doc found a crippled doe near the river and did what he had to do. Those things happen now and again, and we all wish that some of our fellow hunters were less anxious and took their time, even at the risk of losing a chance for a shot.

I'll keep you posted. As our season winds down, Doc or I will put some more venison into our freezers. Doc is one heck of a shot. When he picks up his gun and aims, you might as well warm up a skillet.

Stay in touch and give our love to Mai.

Gene

Trout volunteers needed The Maryland Department of Natural Resources needs volunteers to collect information from anglers on the opening day of the Put-&-Take trout fishing season, March 29, 2003. Volunteers will be asked to count cars and anglers at various locations and to interview a small number of anglers as they exit fishing areas. Observations will start at 5 a.m., and the survey will end before 9 a.m. Some volunteers may be asked to count cars along a given stretch of roadway. Others will count the number of persons in cars entering various access points, and some will be asked to collect more detailed information. Managers will use the survey details to help determine the allocation of hatchery trout in future years. Interested? Contact Bob Lunsford, Freshwater Fisheries, 580 Taylor Ave, B-2, Annapolis, Md. 21401; call 410/260-8321; or e-mail [email protected]



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