HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Wearing a pink camouflage jacket and carrying a bow, Samantha Elliott walked out of Keystone Sporting Goods this week anticipating the beginning of firearm deer season on Saturday.
"This will be the first time in four years I've been out," the 24-year-old Boonsboro woman said Tuesday. "I've finally gotten out of school and I've got the time ... or I'm making the time."
Elliott said she has been hunting since she was 13 and is looking forward to some time in the woods.
"I could probably sit in a tree stand all day and not see anything and still be happy," Elliott said. She prefers to have "wild game in the freezer to burgers," she said.
"We're getting more of them each year," Tim Stahl said of women hunters. "That's probably the fastest growing part of hunting."
For 19 years, Stahl and his wife, Belinda, have owned Keystone Sporting Goods Inc., at 13611 Pennsylvania Ave., in Hagerstown. Early Tuesday afternoon cars, vans and pickup trucks were coming and going from the business's parking lot.
Christmas is still the most important time of the year for their business, Stahl said, but business looked pretty good on this day.
In the back of one truck was the head of 10-point buck bagged by Calvin Staubs of Hagerstown. He got it and another large buck in Illinois where, he said, the deer are considerably larger than those in the East.
"He's my best ever," Staubs said of the buck.
"The most memorable thing about my hunt is I went with my father ... and he got a bigger one than me," bringing down a 13-point buck, Staubs said.
Of the deer he brings in, much of the meat is given away, Staubs said.
"I donate four or five a year to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the hungry," he said.
Staubs hunted during the archery and muzzleloader seasons, but did not bring anything home. Staubs said he generally hunts bucks _ six points or better _ and did not get a shot at any.
Staubs, 40, has been hunting since the age of 9, but Dick Knight of Hagerstown has that beat.
"Nineteen forty-five was the first year I hunted," Knight said. He was 6 years old and figured he was as good with a gun then as most grown men.
"Yes sir, I'll be there Saturday morning," Knight said. Knight belongs to two hunting clubs in the Hancock area and, over the years, figures he has bagged 80 or more bucks and does.
Hancock is in Region A where the bag limits on whitetail are more restrictive. Still, the herd is more plentiful now than in the 1940s and 1950s, he said.
Hunters brought in a good number of bucks and does during the bow and muzzleloader seasons and with last year's mild winter and plentiful forage, Stahl expects a good firearm season.
What's the best thing about owning a sporting goods store?
"People come here for fun," Stahl said. "Nobody buys a refrigerator unless they have to."
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com
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