Friday, December 5, 2008

Smokepole hunting

My brother Greg, who has never hunted before, just took his first white-tailed deer during Maryland's black-powder season. Not with one of those modern in-line jobbies, either: his thunderstick is an 1861 Springfield rifle, firing a .58-caliber MiniƩ round. That's a big chunk of lead, and I wasn't surprised to hear his doe dropped where she stood. One deer, one shot.

This particular Springfield pulls double duty. It's more often fired, sans MiniƩ ball, at bluecoats when Greg re-enacts with the 13th Virginia. He is the adjutant for the Confederate Military Forces Society; in addition to dressing up and playing soldier (often for the education of kids at living-history events), the CMF raise funds for battlefield and flag preservation.

Greg's deer tag allows him to take two does and a buck, so there may be more pictures to follow. Meanwhile, Greg, congratulations! (And save me some venison.)

Update: Two corrections from Greg. First of all, he took his doe during the regular firearm season, during which he can also hunt with his muzzleloader. Secondly, he has to take two does and a buck before he's eligible for an extra buck stamp—but he can take as many as ten does.

I think the Maryland DNR may be getting serious about thinning the herd; the issues, as usual, are carrying capacity (too many deer overbrowse their habitat, leading to drastic fluctuations in deer populations and adverse effects on other wildlife) and human-deer conflicts (especially vehicle-deer collisions). Successful hunters who may not actually need eleven or twelve deer are encouraged to participate in Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a program that puts venison where it's needed most.

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