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Taking aim always goes better when the shooter has confidence in where that shot will hit.

Evans Rod & Gun Club members will be on hand next weekend to help big-game hunters set their sights. ER&GC's Annual Deer Hunter's Sight-In Days go from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and next Sunday on club grounds at 864 Cain Road in the Town of Evans.

Ken Williams heads a group of range officers who will assist hunters in getting open- or scope-mounted sights set properly. Shotgun slug gunners make up most of the shooters getting ready for the Nov. 22 New York State deer season opener, but assistants will be there to help rifle and pistol shooters.

Williams suggests that before arriving at the range, shooters check to see that sight mounts are firmly in place, with no loose or sheared screws. Bring eye and ear protection and enough ammo to see what shoots best in your gun.

A $5 fee includes targets and ear protection for shooters without plugs. For more details on these shooting days, check with Williams at 947-5251 or the club at 549-0333.

Bear hunt in Maryland

Court actions from anti-hunter groups could not block a closely managed bear hunt that began in western Maryland on Monday.

That state has seen a fivefold increase in its bear populations, since the last hunt was held there 51 years ago. In recent years, bear damage to property and bear kills along Interstate 68 in the western part of Maryland have increased.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources issued 381 permits for hunters to pursue the more than 500 bears in this area. The hunt will resume Dec. 6-11 or end as soon as 30 bears have been culled.

Hunters cannot use bait or dogs and all kills must be brought to a MDNR check station. Michael Markarian, president of Fund for Animals, plans to photograph and videotape bears brought to these stations.

In Alabama, that state's first crossbow archery season opened Oct. 22. Opposition to crossbows came mainly from traditional archers who claimed the hunt would bring too many hunters into the field and cull too many deer during the early season.

The first week saw few additional hunters and a slight increase in the number of kills -- conditions similar to the first crossbow hunt that began in nearby Georgia two seasons earlier.

In New Jersey, anti-hunting groups failed to cancel a bear hunt set for Dec. 6-11, but state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell ordered that the state's Division of Fish and Wildlife to not issue permits for this hunt.

Three individuals, the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance have filed a motion in court to protect the 2004 bear hunting season. No action has been taken so far.

For more details on this hearing, go to:

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