Hunters will be welcome at Woodmont

November 13, 1997

Hunters will be welcome at Woodmont


Staff Writer

HANCOCK - Washington County sportsmen will be able to hunt during this year's deer season on 1,000 acres of land that is now controlled by a private organization much of the time, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

During Maryland's deer firearms season, which runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 13, the public will be able to hunt on all but 400 acres of the 3,400-acre Woodmont Rod and Gun Club about several miles west of Hancock. The off-limits portion includes land around Camp Cleveland, the lodge and the game farm and are restricted for safety reasons, according to DNR spokeswoman Patricia Manown.

Normally from Oct. 1 to March 31, the Izaak Walton League of America controls about 1,400 acres on the west side of Woodmont Road.


"They wanted to continue the good relationship they had with the hunters and the Department of Natural Resources," Manown said.

The Izaak Walton League formally took control of the 1,400 acres of the property on Oct. 1, beginning a controversial public-private partnership. The state said it no longer can afford the upkeep of the property, but some hunters vehemently opposed giving a private organization exclusive rights to public land.

Terry Randall, president of the club's Woodmont chapter, said the organization had always planned to open its property to the public during the deer season and included the provision in the lease.

But Jack Wetzel, a Funkstown resident who has been among the most vocal critics of the deal, ridiculed the public access as "crumbs" thrown at hunters by the exclusive club and state officials.

Noting that the public already has been shut out of Izaak Walton land for parts of the fall turkey, bow and the early muzzle-loader seasons, Wetzel called the agreement bad for hunters.

"The hunters have been kept off of three seasons already," he said. "It's never been right from the get-go. I've never liked anything about it."

Other hunters, however, hailed the chance to hunt on the land. Paul Wolber, president of the Washington Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, said it gives hunters expanded opportunities.

"We think it is a great, positive step," said Wolber, who supported the Izaak Walton agreement. "We really anticipate the bulk of (the land) being open every year."

State officials said they are negotiating with the Izaak Walton League to put on special programs for youth hunters and first-time hunters.

The details have not yet taken shape, Manown said.

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