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Venison For Me!

The morning was short, but interesting. Light rain was present as I prepared to leave the home. Later, this would change to snow.

I crossed Cherry Run and walked about forty yards from the road when I saw a deer laying to my right. In those fleeting thoughts, I wondered if the deer was hit by a car or was shot poorly and ran down in the creek area. The very next instance, I realized the deer was a doe and just bedded at this site. Before I could get the rifle on it the deer jumped and headed deeper into the woods. The deer was bedded sixteen steps from me!

DSC_0010    I continued on and settled in awaiting the dreary gloom to lessen. I consciously hoped a deer wouldn’t show up in the distance. I knew identifying the deer could be a problem.

The squirrels were out extra early this morning and I could hear a few turkeys across the hollow. (I would later see a turkey high in a tree.)

At eight o’clock I left to do some sneaking around.  Approximately a half hour later, I was looking at a deer at thirty-eight yards. The shot was true and I, now, had venison. I had used the Remington 760 in the 30:06 caliber this day. I had a short prayer of thankfulness as per my tradition. The dark weather and open sites of my flintlock would be difficult to use in the darkened morning light, but the shot would have been great for the flintlock. The doe was a small one, but the drag would be easy.

A Deer For Bob

 

Bob and his deer.

Bob and his deer.

I had a great day afield. I saw a lot of deer and passed on a several shots waiting for perfection I guess. I have been hunting with my Andrew Verner style flintlock affectionately called, Old Jacob! Open sights and one shot and having a miss yesterday had me waiting.

My step father, Bob and I were watching seven deer feeding in a field and we planned a strategy. We went around in a semi-circle to close the distance and observe their movements. We succeeded and watched the seven go up and over a rise in the field. We had to do such actions to get the deer into a place for safety reasons.

I told Bob to go down the slope and bare right to watch a certain side of the hill where the deer often move through. I continued to make an arc around the area to move in and hopefully locate the deer.

I entered the woodlands when I saw some movement behind a pile of treetops. For an instance I thought I was seeing turkeys before realizing the movements were deer ears. In a second deer exploded and headed towards Bob. BAM!!!! Bob got a deer!

After congratulations and the story Bob tagged and dressed the deer. I volunteered to the dragging as Bob would go and bring his truck to a meeting place along the township road. this would greatly shorten the drag.

I continued to hunt seeing more deer and a flock of about 25 turkeys.

 

Missed!

This past Friday after I came home from deer hunting inner thigh leg pains began surfacing again. By early evening the pain became intense to the point I had to walk around on all fours. Pain pills eventually soften the pain. I wish I knew what causes this issue on occasion! Saturday, I was still hurting enough I felt I should refrain from pushing myself. Later that afternoon we had supper here for my mother’s 85th birthday. (Ruth Smail Miller) Today, the 8th, I went deer hunting with my flintlock rifle, Old Jacob. My plan was to hunt for buck only until around 9:30 A.M. before opening up the possibility for harvesting an antlerless deer. The first deer I saw was of unknown gender. The dense brush prevented identification. I set down and the next deer to see was a doe and her young fawn of the year. These two came within thirty-five yards of me, but I held to my personal agreement. The third deer too was let go. I saw two more around 10:00 o’clock, but they were too far to see well. I continued still hunting when I spotted the back of a feeding deer. I saw a second doe too. I had some great potential shots, but I couldn’t take them because of the angle and a road and houses in the distance.  I waited and watched as the two fed behind a screen of brush. Eventually, they moved to a safe zone, but the brush obscured them. At one point I believed the shot was a doable one and I missed! I hurried the seventy yard site and watched the two deer go farther along. I spent almost two hours zigzagging around ;looking for a down deer or signs of a hit. What happened? Was the miss due to brush? I remember bending over to shoot. Was I off balanced because of this? Or did I just misjudge the distance and miss?  Regardless, I am happy to have had missed instead of wounding the deer. The leg pains were not very bad this morning. They were intermittent. I am happy to say since I came home from hunting the pains hasn’t become prominent. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Yes this morning was a great day to be in the woods. I didn’t get a buck, but if events would have been slightly different the result would have been venison.

DSC_0006   I should fill in a few days since I neglected to post anything recently. Wednesday, December 3, I hunted for half a day. I saw my first deer immediately upon entering the woods. I could not identify the critter due to brush.

My hunt followed with a jaunt through a pine forest area. Here I heard    DSC_0008turkeys on the roost. In a few moments I heard more birds across a hollow. I smiled knowing how had I tried to locate birds on different occasions and, now, here they are!

I settled in to watch in the gloom of another dreary day. Three snorts soon erupted near me. The wind was right for my presence. After a short time I noticed a hind leg of a deer. I could see other deer parts as they moved around. eventually three doe walked past me.

I spotted movement to my left and , you guessed it, twelve turkeys walked through an opening. there used to be thirteen in that flock. I wonder where that extra bird went?  Oh yeah, I remember, the gobbler went into my freezer!

I still hunted around the area seeing more deer and squirrels, but no antlers. I quit around noon to stop and visit my mom and step father, Bob.

Thursday, December 4th found my hide spending much of the day at the Armstrong County Museum.  I talked Indians with four groups. they were a great bunch of young people!

This morning, I watched the weather closely. There was talk of freezing rain in the early hours turning to rain later on. I left the house after seven o’clock to hunt deer. This has been a most gloomy deer season thus far.

My approach to where I had intended to park found a big deer standing exactly where the jeep is stationed on many hunts. The deer’s head was hid by roadside brush. The deer moved and I proceeded to drive when another buck walked off the hill’s side within an easy stone’s throw. The rack was nice and even and legal. I couldn’t see the width eat the angle I was observing the deer, but it was nice.

I parked and could see the deer standing about twenty yards between the road and the creek. It turned and moved into the brush.

I exited the jeep only to see and hear a turkey flush directly behind me. I looked over and could see three additional deer. they appeared to be all doe. I began to walk in to hunt and a cottontail rabbit ran off. I thought this is going to be a great day in the woods.

I eased up the hill trying to decide what course of action would be best to overtake these deer. I decided to allow my instincts to guide my way. the hunt was on. I walked about a quarter of a mile searching for anything looking like deer when I spotted two deer to my left. They were feeding long. I moved towards them and could see deer were bucks. I moved silently to close the gap. I scoped the one buck and could see approximately 16 to 18 inches of antler width. I failed to count the points. They moved deeper into the brush and I circled.

My circle was closing in when I saw the doe ahead of me followed by two buck. Here is where I messed up! I turned left and went down over before turning right to watch a deep hollow and the edge of the hill. I wished I would have stayed on the deer. I lost them after this maneuver. I circled around much of the morning and never saw them again.

I did see another nine doe and one unknown deer prior to quitting around one o’clock. the last three deer stalked. I knew they were doe, but I approached to with easy bow range as they fed along. The mother doe eventually turned and walked past me followed by her two fawns.

Saturday, the weather people are calling for  much rain. The 6th is, also, my mother’s 85th birthday!

I began my travel across  the creek and up the hill after seven o’clock. I wasn’t in any hurry. I was going to still hunt as I moved towards the area I planned to stay most of the day.

Cherry Run

Cherry Run

A dreamy gloom encompassed the woodlands as I slowly eased through the pines. The warm and rainy weather certainly didn’t have my thoughts in a hunting mode. I am just following my family traditions and heritage at this time. I had made a decision to not take any legal buck thinking of hunting with flintlocks once the antlerless season came in. A style of hunting I much prefer! However, I have been at this place before and sometimes the hunter instincts takeover as I thought of last year during the early flintlock season. I passed up shots trying to get a deer close to my step-father Bob when suddenly that instinct came over and I harvested a deer.

I love old logs...is that weird?

I love old logs…is that weird?

Very quickly after I sat down a deer materialized. It was a buck. The deer continued toward me. He ended up being a four pointer. I saw him twice during the morning. My camera was in my shoulder bag due to dark and damp conditions so taking photos was always a choice once eyes are gazing upon you.                                                      DSC_0020 Squirrels didn’t appear until after nine. They must have slept in as well. I heard and saw a flock of geese too. I heard a few turkey yelps behind me. By ten the temperatures were, obviously, falling. Rain picked up again and turning to sleet. The next stage was the big snowflakes. Bob saw sixteen deer including a nice buck. He couldn’t count the points. I saw fourteen deer all day. Some were does and others I couldn’t identify. I don’t see well in darkened conditions.

I apologize for the poor photo.

I apologize for the poor photo.

A highlight of the day was when I turned to see something white. It was a pie-bald deer with most of the body being white. I hustled to retrieve my camera. The deer allowed only one quick shot and I was greatly disappointed when the photo was blurred, but I expected that since the darkened woods and me hurrying and hand holding the camera was almost certain to be blurred. The deer allowed one chance and off it went.

After Thanksgiving Snow

DSC_0011   Thanksgiving evening as we set around holding our bellies, my step father, Bob and I anxiously watched the weather. We were planning to hunt turkeys the following morning so we hoped for a good coating of snow.

Small buck

Small buck

The forecast was the snow was to be flurries only. I was hopeful tomorrow we would find tracks and the birds easily. There was an hour and a half of evening time when the snow was sparse. I was grateful we had that time frame for turkeys to move around prior to going to the roost. They can make a lot of tracks within that time.

Deer bed

Deer bed

The plan was to start a diagonal cut across the woodlands with me maneuvering with zigzags to cover a lot of territory and find those tracks. However, the plans were to be changed for the expected flurries overnight had become enough to cancel out any evening tracks. the plan, now, was to do the same, but my zigs were going to need to cover much more land than my zags.                                                                                                             DSC_0015

Everywhere I walked deer were present. Bob saw some too. I kept him on the flatter ground as much as possible as I watched for birds or tracks. We met up occasionally to alter plans as needed. He was to stay high and return towards a certain area as I walked around over the sides.

DSC_0004  I turned to make a change in direction and there were turkeys and close. I hollered and moved as fast as I dared. Some turkeys flew and others ran. I knew I had not the best of breaks, but I located Bob, and the eighty year old, had to, quickly, walk down over the hill’s side now.        DSC_0013

We set up and after a bit of time elapsed I began calling. We, later, heard the yelps to our left. The bird answered a couple of times. we waited. I had great concerns of the contrast of Bob and I against the white snow. I had  white camo, but Bob didn’t so we sat up among some fallen tree tops. The hen came in and began to sharply putt… her alarm call! We sat for over an hour and I failed to have anymore turkeys respond. Maybe if we could have waited longer??? We froze out and started the trek up and over and to the vehicle.

We had been in the woods for almost four hours. I saw a flock of turkeys; lots of deer and a great-horned owl. It was a good morning! Continue Reading »

Clear cut state game lands

Clear cut state game lands

The entire morning had a sensation of gloominess. The air was still and a definite feel of snow was certain.

A small, but, legal buck.

A small, but, legal buck.

I chose to hunt the last morning at State game Lands 137 near New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I have had a number of bear experiences at these lands.

I slowly still-hunted up a long hollow surrounded with steep sides. The area had been clear cut in recent times. Tree top and briars and young trees covered the terrain making for some good bear habitat. Next year the lands will be better for bear.

DSC_0028  The slow walk and watch style of hunting failed to produce any bear, but deer were common. I heard and saw a raven too. I did find two piles of past bear evidence along the brushy area. I estimated the bear had done their deed, at least, a week ago, possibly longer. The break down of the material proved that to me.                              DSC_0038

Acorns, beechnuts and autumn olive berries were non-existent. Every place I had been this fall while hunting bear and turkeys had this fact easily learned. The oak and olive produced blossoms. I believe the large amount of rain we had in late spring and summer may have ruined the crop locally. This, I believe, “holed up” the bear early.

My pocket Constitution and Bill of Rights copy.

My pocket Constitution and Bill of Rights copy.

Milkweed seed pod

Milkweed seed pod

A couple of flakes slowly drifted through the trees at 10:15 A.m. and fifteen minutes later the snow was falling fast and laying on the ground. I walked around most of the morning. However, I did stop and started to read a Constitution booklet. I have had this tradition every bear and/or deer season for  the last five or six years. I often carry other reads if the weather allows for it.

I quit hunting by around noon and headed home. The lack of bear sign and my thinking  of the critters denning up seemed highly probable to me.  A solitary hunter would need to almost tramp on a bear to move it from such cover.

Beginning of the snow.

Beginning of the snow.

Skunk cabbage is dormant until March!

Skunk cabbage is dormant until March!

The previous day, I dogged for a friend and landowner and another individual for half a day. They, both, have health issues that limit hunting activity. His property failed to yield the mast needed for bear as well. I did see a number of deer while chasing the brush for bear.                  DSC_0041

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