- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A week ago I chuckled while reading the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s helpful tips on dealing with black bears. It had to do with avoiding problems should one of the bears get too close and personal with a human.

Having spent a good deal of time in bear country over the years and having watched, admired and, yes, hunted them, I don’t know if there truly is any good advice save for the standard, “Don’t put garbage in easy-to-open trash cans outside your house because it will attract bears.”

Don’t laugh. It can happen fairly close to Washington in nearby Loudoun and Fauquier counties in Virginia or in any of the counties in western Maryland.

Black bears can attain weights of up to 600 pounds and are among the most unpredictable of all land critters. They normally prefer to run from you, but they also can be pretty brazen wherever apparently brain-dead humans have been feeding them along roadsides in parks and national forests.

Pennsylvania says if you see one close by, slowly back away while quietly talking. You may face the bear but avoid eye contact. Watch to see whether it swings its head nervously from side to side or noisily pops its jaws. If so, get out of there; it’s a sign the bear might charge.

But how do you feel about the game commission’s advice that if a bear attacks you it might become necessary to fight the bruin?

Hmmm. … Fight an agile, muscular animal that often weighs over 400 and perhaps even 600 pounds? Who do you think will win?

Maryland Fishing Challenge — Gov. Martin O’Malley doled out prizes to sport anglers amounting to $60,000 as the 2007 Maryland Fishing Challenge came to an end over the weekend.

The Fishing Challenge, an annual tourism and sport fishing promotion in which a number of tagged fish are released, again was not able to pay off for a tagged Chesapeake Bay rockfish named Diamond Jim. Had it been caught, the lucky angler would have gotten $25,000 cash and a $5,000 diamond.

However, in a chance drawing among the 128 contestants who had hooked specially tagged fish, five finalists were selected. The top prizes went to Bob Spetzler of Berlin, Md., for a 243/4-inch flounder he caught at the Fourth Street bulkhead in Ocean City and to Joseph R. Davis Jr. of Waldorf, who landed a 66½-inch wahoo at the Hot Dog, an Atlantic Ocean area east of Ocean City.

Spetzler won a 2007 Toyota truck from Central Maryland Toyota valued at $36,000. Davis received a Tracker boat, trailer and motor package from Bass Pro Shops. It was valued at $20,000.

He’s not fond of the French — The Internet is abuzz about rock star and avid bow hunter Ted Nugent, who recently was interviewed by a British journalist who also happened to be an animal rights activist.

The interview eventually turned to Nugent’s deer hunting, and the journalist asked, “What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot it? Is it, ‘Are you my friend?’ or is it, ‘Are you the one that killed my brother?’ ”

Nugent replied, “Deer aren’t capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is what am I going to eat next, who am I going to [have sex with] and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the French.’ ”

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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