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Bucking tradition, Sunday hunt is a hit

December 01, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Tradition did not stand in the way of hundreds of hunters in Maryland as employees at deer-checking stations reported that the first-ever Sunday firearms hunting day was a rousing success.

But not all hunting enthusiasts appeared to be happy with the state's decision to allow hunting on Sunday.

Employees at multiple checking stations in Washington County said they were surprised to see so many hunters out Sunday.

"We checked in about 30 deer today," Lloyd Carbaugh of Murray's Sports Center in Williamsport said late Sunday afternoon. "That sounds pretty popular to me."

Meanwhile, Keystone Sporting Goods in Hagerstown reported that 75 deer had been checked in by late afternoon, and Clear Spring D & I Automotive reported 67 by early Sunday evening.

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Dan Ivanescu, manager of Clear Spring D & I Automotive, said people with more rigid work schedules were grateful for the opportunity to hunt on Sunday.

"It's fine for people who have jobs and work (during the week)," Ivanescu said. "They were excited about it from what I could tell."

Jeremy Eyer, an employee of Keystone Sporting Goods said he was surprised by the number of people hunting Sunday because he believed little information had been released.

"A lot of people didn't know about it," Eyer said. "A lot of people are calling in asking a lot of questions - 'is it legal, is it not legal?'"

New legislation in Maryland this year allows Sunday hunting for the first time in the state, a Department of Natural Resources release says. However, the Sunday hunting only can occur on private property, according to the release.

The release estimated that 75,000 deer hunters will take part in the two-week firearms deer season, which began Saturday.

Carbaugh, a hunter, said the private property provision likely shut a lot of people out from the bonus hunting day.

"I'd say about 70 percent of the people that hunt do so on state ground," he said.

Carbaugh said he did not hunt Sunday because he believes it is a day to rest, but he said not everybody feels that way.

"If they're going to have car races, ballgames and stores open on Sunday, I guess they might as well allow you to hunt on Sunday," he said.

Williamsport resident Steve Palmer, president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, said he believes opponents of Sunday hunting will warm to the idea over time. Palmer said the group did not endorse the Sunday hunting efforts because many members were against it.

"The philosophy was we, as a group, felt hunting has more serious issues than another day to hunt," Palmer said. "There's a lot of misperceptions about hunting, safety and the like."

Palmer said efforts such as educating people on the virtues of hunting, safety awareness and preserving the privilege to hunt would have been more productive.

"I applaud them (advocates) for that, but I think they spent a lot of energy and political capital to gain a small victory," Palmer said.

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