Smoke Signals

Sept/Oct 2011

 

 

HOWDY DAVIS
Staff Writer

 

A PRIMITIVE SCOUT & HUNT

A HUNT USING PRIMITIVE BLACKPOWDER WEAPON INTO THE ADIRONDACK WILDERNESS OF UP STATE NEW YORK NEAR SCHROON LAKE AREA.
EARLY SPRING BROTHER TED AND I ALONG WITH A HUNTING BUDDY MURRY LABAR ALL MEMBERS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA LONG HUNTERS, DID A SCOUT INTO THIS FOREST IN PREPARATION FOR A FALL BLACK POWDER RIFLE SEASON. OUR SCOUT TOOK US 2 MILES INTO THE HEART OF THE FOREST WHERE WE PICKED A GOOD CAMP SPOT AND SCOUTED THE AREA IN SEVERAL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. AFTER 2 DAYS WE DECIDED THAT THIS AREA WOULD PRODUCE SOME BIG WHITETAIL DEER.
IT WAS NOW THE FALL OF THE YEAR AND WE ALL GOT TOGETHER TO MAKE SURE THAT WE WEREN'T CARRYING DUPLICATES SINCE WE HAD SO FAR TO TRAVEL. OUR CLOTHING WAS TO BE ALL PRE 1840. CLOTHING THAT WAS USED ON THE PENNSYLVANIA FRONTIER, NAMELY BUCKSKINS AND WOOL.
IT WAS FRIDAY MORNING WHEN WE ALL MEET, LOADED ALL OUR GEAR INTO MY WAGON AND HEDDED NORTH FOR A 4 HOUR TRIP TO OUR JUMPING OFF LOCATION. UPON ARRIVAL WE LOADED ALL OF OUR GEAR ONTO A HOME MADE TOBOGGAN WITH SIDES AND HANDLES THAT WE FASHIONED FOR BETTER SECURING OUR GEAR AND CARRYING IF WE HAD TO. WE HEADED OFF ON A TRAIL THAT WE BLAZED DURING THE SPRING SCOUT. WE ESTIMATED THE DISTANCE TO BE A LITTLE OVER 2 MILES. ALL OF US WERE EXPERIENCED WILDERNESS NAVIGATORS.
EACH OF US WERE EQUIPPED WITH FIFTY CALIBER MUZZLELOADERS, OUR BUTCHER KNIVES, TOMAHAWKS, AND MOST IMPORTANT TWO HUDSON BAY WOOL BLANKETS ALL WRAPPED IN LARGE 10 BY 10 PIECES OF OIL CLOTH THAT WOULD COVER OUR LEAN-TO THAT WE CONSTRUCTED ON THE SPRING SCOUT, ALSO WITH US WE CARRIED LARGE COILS OF HOMEMADE ROPE AND CORD, ENOUGH FOOD FOR 4 DAYS EVEN THOUGH WE WERE PLANNING ON A 8 DAY HUNT. WE COULD RELY ON OUR TRAPPING AND HUNTING SKILLS TO SECURE FOOD.
IT WAS 3 PM WHEN WE REACHED OUR CAMP AND DROPPED OUR GEAR AND SPENT A HALF HOUR GATHERING FIRE WOOD. WE THEN EACH SET OUT ON A EVENING SCOUT IN DIFFERENT DIRECTION. THIS WAS A REALLY GOOD TIME OF DAY TO LOOK FOR DEER. WE WERE ALL AMAZED AT THIS YEARS ACORN CROP. THIS IS LIKE CANDY TO THE DEER, AS WELL AS THE SQUIRRELS THAT SEEMED TO BE EVERY WHERE. THIS WAS GOOD BECAUSE IT WOULD COVER OUR MOVEMENT. WE ALL RETURNED TO CAMP JUST BEFORE DARK AND FINISHED SECURING OUR LEAN-TO. WE CHOOSE A CAMP UNDER SOME VERY TALL PINE TREES WITH HEAVY LIMBS FOR GOOD PROTECTION, OVER THE YEARS IT HAD SHED ABOUT 3 FEET OF PINE NEEDLES WHICH MADE FOR WARM BEDDING, THAT IS IF THEIR WERE NO SQUIRRELS OR SNAKES AT HOME IN THOSE HOLES THAT WERE IN IT.
WE HAD A GOOD SUPPLY OF DEHYDRATED FOODS WE HAD PREPARED PRIOR TO OUR TRIP. ENOUGH TO LAST THROUGH AN EXTENDED SURVIVAL SITUATION. WE CALLED IT JUST INCASE FOOD. IT WASNíT VERY TASTY BUT IT WOULD KEEP YOU ALIVE. WE HAD A GOOD STREAM RIGHT BEHIND OUR CAMP SO WATER WOULDNíT BE A PROBLEM. WE ALWAYS KEPT A POT OF WATER ON THE FIRE TO KILL ANY NASTIES.
THE FIRST MORNING WHILE DAWN WAS BREAKING WE HEDED OUT TO DO A LOOK ABOUT. WE HAD DISCOVERED THIS HIGH RIDGE WERE WE LAID AND CHECKED OUT THE SURROUNDING AREA. WE COULD SEE A NUMBER OF DEER IN A FAR MEADOW THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN FARMED AT ONE TIME AND HAD GROWN IN. EACH OF US TOOK OFF IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. I HEADED SOUTH EAST AND JUST SPOOFED ABOUT FOR HEAVEN KNOWS HOW FAR. I WAS ALWAYS A COMPULSIVE WALKER AND COVERED TREMENDOUS GROUND. TO THE POINT WERE I WOULD COME TO REALIZE THAT I WAS PRETTY FAR FROM CAMP AND BEST GET HEDED BACK. I HAD MY SURVIVAL PACK WITH ME AND HAD CHANCE TO PUT IT TO USE ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS DURING THE PAST YEARS.
ARRIVING BACK AT CAMP IN THE DARK GUIDED BY A NEAR FULL MOON WHICH WAS ONE OF THE REASONS WE ALWAYS PICKED THIS TIME OF THE MONTH TO HUNT OR GO OFF ON ONE OF OUR TREKS. ALL OF US HAD SEEN A NUMBER OF DEER, TEDDY SAW A PRETTY GOOD SIZE BEAR ABOUT A HALF MILE FROM CAMP. SO AS A PRECAUTION WE SPREAD BLACK POWDER AROUND THE CAMP IN HOPES THAT IT WOULD ACT AS A DETERENT. AFTER A HEARTY BOWL OF VENISON STEW AND A GOOD HOT CUP OF HOT CHOCOLA WE WERE SOUND ASLEEP.
I DIDNíT MENTION EARLIER. MURRY HAD A DOG THAT TAGGED ALONG WITH HIM WERE EVER HE WENT. THIS DOG WAS NAMED DOG AND WAS TRAINED NOT TO BARK. ESPECIALLY IN THE WOODS. HOWEVER IT WAS A SPECTACULAR HUNTER AND WOULD WARN YOU WITH A LOW GROWL. MURRY SHOT A LOT OF ANIMALS WITH THAT DOG. NEVER DID KNOW WHAT TYPE IT WAS. IT WAS ALSO A GOOD CAMP WATCH DOG.
ON THE THIRD DAY WHILE STALKING THROUGH THE FOREST I HEARD A SHOT IN THE FAR DISTANCE , THE NORTH EAST. I REMEMBER THINKING THAT WE WOULD HAVE STEAKS TONIGHT. ARRIVING BACK AT CAMP THAT EVENING TEDDY HAD GOTTEN A BEAUTIFUL 5 BY 6 WHITETAIL WITH A REAL HEAVY MASSED RACK. JUST LOADED WITH FAT WE BELIEVED FROM ALL THOSE ACORNS. IT WAS ALSO AN INDICATION OF A LONG COLD WINTER.
ON THE 4TH DAY AROUND ABOUT 10 AM I HEARD ANOTHER SHOT. KNOWING THAT THERE WEREN'T ANY OTHER HUNTERS IN THIS AREA IT HAD TO BE MURRAY. I HAD RUN ACROSS A NUMBER OF NICE BUCKS BUT NONE OF THEM THAT I THOUGHT TO BE A SHOOTER.
ABOUT 9 AM ON THE 5TH DAY I SPOTTED A NICE BUCK FROM A RIDGE TOP. THIS DEER WAS FEEDING ON THE EDGE OF A CLEARING ABOUT 500 YARDS AWAY. HE LOOKED LIKE A BEAUTY. I GOT MY BEARINGS AND STARTED TO CLOSE THE DISTANCE. AS I DID IT WAS STARTING TO SNOW
. BEING IN WHAT THE PEOPLE IN THIS AREA CALLED THE SNOW BELT SOMETIMES GOT FREAKY SNOW STORMS. I REMEMBER SAYING A PRAYER THAT IT DIDNíT AMOUNT TO MUCH. AT LEAST TIL I GET THIS DEER.

 

 

I WORKED MY WAY OFF THE RIDGE CAREFUL NOT TO SPOOK ANY OTHER DEER THAT WOULD SEND OUT A WARNING. I CLOSED THE GAP CLIMBING DOWN THE RIDGE TO WITHIN ABOUT 300 YARDS AND FOUND THAT HE WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF A POND THAT WAS COVERED BY BRUSH FROM THE RIDGE TOP. WORKING MY WAY AROUND THE POND I FOUND MYSELF IN A SWAMPY AREA. AND HAD TO JUMP FROM BURN TO BURN IN ORDER TO GET ACROSS. AFTER ABOUT A HALF HOUR I FINALLY GOT A GLIMPSE OF THIS DEER. THE SNOW WAS COMING HEAVIER AND MAKING IT HARD TO SEE WHERE I WAS STEPPING. 
FINALLY I WAS IN SHOOTING DISTANCE AND HE WAS STANDING BROADSIDE LOOKING ACROSS THE POND AT SOMETHING THAT HAD CAUGHT HIS ATTENTION. THIS WAS SO HARD TO JUDGE MY SIGHT PICTURE THROUGH THE HEAVY SNOW FALL. THE WIND HAD WIPED UP TO A POINT THAT I HAD TO HOLD MY SIGHT SLIGHTLY FORWARD IN ORDER TO COMPENSATE. I LET IT RIDE AND HE BOLTED UP IN THE AIR AND TOOK OFF WITH HIS TAIL TUCKED UNDER HIS BUTT. WHICH WAS A GOOD SIGN THAT HE WAS HIT GOOD.
I TRIED TO LISTEN BUT IT WASNíT MUCH USE. THE SNOW DOWN FALL WAS KILLING ANY SOUND. I WILL GENERALLY WAIT FOR A HALF HOUR BUT WITH THE SNOW I WAS AFRAID I WOULD LOOSE HIS TRAIL. SO I STARTED TO MOZZY SLOWLY TO WHERE I HIT HIM AND FOUND A GOOD SPLATTER OF LIGHT COLORED BLOOD ON THE SNOW AND SURROUNDING BRUSH WHICH INDICATED A GOOD LUNG SHOT. I TRACKED THIS DEER FOR ABOUT 30 YARDS OR SO AND THERE HE WAS. THIS GUY WAS A BEAUTIFUL 6 BY 6 . I DIDNíT WASTE ANY TIME GUTTING HIM AND HEDING BACK TO CAMP.IM WEARING HIGH TOP BUFFALO SKINNED BOOTS LINED WITH SHEEP SKIN. VERY WELL WATER PROOFED WITH A MIXTURE OF BEES WAX AND BEAR FAT. AS I STARTED BACK ACROSS THE SWAMP I COULD NO LONGER SEE WHERE THE DRY SPOTS WERE. WITH THESE MOCKS ON I HAD A GREAT DEAL OF TROUBLE CLIMBING UP THE TREED SIDE OF THE RIDGE. I HAD TO WORK MY WAY FROM TREE TO TREE TAKING A SHORT BREAK AT EACH STOP. ONCE I REACHED THE TOP I GUESSED WE HAD AROUND A FOOT AND A HALF OF SNOW. I TRUDGED ON WHEN I HEARD A SHOT. IT WAS GETTING TOWARDS DARK AND I KNEW MY BROTHER WOULD BE CONCERNED AND FIRE A SHOT TO KEEP ME ON TRACK TO THE CAMP. FINALLY I FIGURED I HAD ABOUT 200 YARDS TO GO AND THAT I WOULD GO GET THE TOBOGGAN AND PULLTHE DEER THE REST OF THE WAY ON IT.
WHEN I REACHED CAMP WE ALL JUST LOOKED AT ONE ANOTHER AND STARTED LAUGHING. WHAT'S WITH ALL THIS SNOW. WE CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT IT WAS ALL PART OF THE GAME. WITH A GOOD HOT CUP OF COFFEE AND THEN A VENISON STEAK ALONG WITH AN OVERCOOKED BAKED POTATO I JUST LAID BACK ON MY BLANKETS AND STRETCHED OUT FOR A MOMENT WHEN I WAS REMINDED THAT I HAD TO GO OUT AND GATHER MY SHARE OF FIRE WOOD. I HAD MY TRUSTY TOMAHAWK AND HAD WISHED I HAD A LARGER AX. SO OFF I WENT TO FULFILL MY DUTY.
TED HAD FASHIONED SEVERAL PIECES OF ROUND WOOD STOCK TOGETHER WITH CORD IN ORDER TO SHOVEL THE SNOW INTO A WALL AROUND THE CAMP WHICH DIVERTED THE WIND. OUR FIRE HAD BEEN PROTECTED BY A BUNCH OF LOGS PILED UP AROUND IT IN ORDER TO KEEP THE WET SNOW FROM PUTTING IT OUT. EVEN HAD A COVER BUILT OVER IT WHICH WAS GREAT FOR TRYING TO DRY CLOTHING. THE HEAVY LIMBS FROM THE PINE TREES ABOVE US TURNED OUT TO BE A GREAT IDEA. TED HAD 3 SQUIRLS HANGING THAT HE TRAPPED AND NEEDED THE PELTS FOR TYING FISHING FLIES.
WE MADE PLANS FOR OUT TREK OUT IN THE MORNING. WITH OUR LITTLE DOG WELL FED AND ON GUARD DUTY. WE WERE TO SLEEP IN NO TIME BEFORE DAY BREAK WE HAD THE FIRE REKINDLED AND WITH SOME HOT CHOCOLATE FOR ENERGY ALONG WITH TEDS PANCAKES COVERED WITH MAPLE SYRUP NATIVE TO THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY. I SET OUT WITH THE DEER ON THE TOBOGGAN AND TWO HEAVY PINE TREE LIMBS LASHED TO MY FEET TO ACT AS SNOW SHOES SINCE IT SNOWED ALL NIGHT AND WE NOW FIGURED IT WAS OVER 3 FEET. THESE LIMBS WORKED VERY WELL KEEPING ME WELL UP ON THE TOP OF THE SNOW. I MADE IT TO THE WAGON LOADED THE DEER AND HAD GOTTEN FROM THE WAGON A PAIR OF GOOD SNOW SHOES. ALONG WITH 3 PAIR OF WOOL GAITERS WHICH FELT GOOD SINCE BUCKSKINS ARE KNOWN TO BE COLD IN THE WINTER AND HOT IN THE SUMMER. BACK TO CAMP I WENT. THANKING TED ALL THE WAY FOR BLAZING THE TRAIL I GAVE TED AND MURRY THE EXTRA WOOL GATERS THAT THEY DIDNíT KNOW I HAD. MADE THEM HAPPY CAMPERS.
WE SECURED THE CAMP. THE SNOW WAS LETTING UP A LITTLE-- SO WE CONVINCED OURSELVES. AND WE HEDED OUT. WE PLACED THE TWO DEER ON TOP OF THE TOBOGGAN AND AND THE REMAINDER OF THE GEAR WE PLACED IN HAVERSACKS ON OUR BACKS. MURRY TOOK THE LEAD CARRYING HIS DOG AND BREAKING TRAIL. TED AND I AGAIN FASHIONED PINE TREE LIMB SNOW SHOES WHICH PREFORMED WELL IN MURRY'S TRACKS. ONLY TWO MILES, ONLY TWO MILES, THATíS NOTHING WE KEPT SAYING OUT LOUD. TED AND I TRUDGED ALONG PULLING THE TWO DEER ON THE TOBOGGAN. AGAIN THANK YOU TED FOR BLAZING AND MARKING OUR TRAIL. SOMETHING WE WOULD NEVER FORGET FOR FUTURE TREKS.
WE LOADED EVERYTHING INTO THE WAGON DRANK A WELL DESERVED SHARE OF FRESH WATER AND A BEER. WE WERE LUCKY I HAD NEW SNOW TIRES ON THE WAGON AND IN FOUR WHEEL DRIVE WE MADE THE 5 MILE TREK OUT TO THE MAIN ROAD. THERE WAS A TOWN 7 MILES FROM THEIR SO WE HEDED FOR THAT. FOUND OURSELVES A MOTEL WHERE WE TOOK IT ON TURNS SPENDING LOTS OF TIME IN THE SHOWER. BET WE DRAINED THAT MOTEL OF ALL OF IT'S HOT WATER. AFTER THAT WE FOUND A NEAT RESTAURANT AND HAD A HEARTY MEAL. ALONG WITH A COUNTLESS NUMBER OF BEERS. THE NEXT MORNING WE WERE GLAD TO SEE THAT THE PLOWS WERE OUT SO WE HEDED BACK TO PENNA.
TEDDY AND MURRY HAVE SINCE GONE UNDER. I KNOW THEY ARE ON THE TRAIL SOME WHERE. GOD SPEED, WATCH YOUR TOP KNOT AND KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY. 

HOWDY

 

 

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