Smoke Signals

Jul/Aug 2012

 

 

  

HOWDY DAVIS

Staff Writer

My Outdoor Adventures

http://nafsmokesignals.tripod.com/2012/jan-feb_issue/pictures/dwelling.jpg

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BLACKPOWDER SHOTGUN HUNT

 

IT'S THE BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER 1965 WHEN MY BROTHERS TEDDY, BILLY AND I VENTURE INTO THE BARKLEY MOUNTAINS OF NORTH WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA. WE HAVE A CABIN ABOUT 20 MILES BACK IN THE MOUNTAINS IN WHAT IS CALLED THE VALLEY OF LAQUIN, A VERY OLD MINING TOWN THAT HAD BEEN WIPED OUT BY DIPHTHERIA BACK AROUND THE TURN OF THE CENTURY. WE TURN OFF IN THE TOWN OF MEHOOPANY AND FOLLOW THE MEHOOPANY CREEK ROAD, WHICH WE REFER TO AS THE BAHA RUN BECAUSE OF IT'S BAD CONDITIONS.

OUR OBJECTIVE IS TO SPEND ABOUT 10 DAYS FISHING AND SMALL GAME HUNTING. WE STOP AT SEVERAL GOOD FISHING SPOTS ALONG THE ROAD TO THE VALLEY AND HAVE PRETTY GOOD LUCK CATCHING FISH. THIS IS A GOOD THING, BECAUSE WE ALWAYS SEEM TO RUN OUT OF FOOD, ESPECIALLY IF THE HUNTING IS POOR.

FINALLY WE ARRIVE IN THE VALLEY WITH PLENTY OF DAYLIGHT LEFT TO CLEAN UP THE CABIN AND MOVE IN. THE VALLEY OF LAQUIN IS ABOUT 3 MILES LONG AND A MILE WIDE WITH THE MEHOOPANY STREAM RUNNING ALONG THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN ON THE FAR LEFT HAND SIDE. THE VALLEY IS SURROUNDED BY MOUNTAINS THAT AVERAGE BETWEEN TWO AND THREE THOUSAND FEET HIGH. THERE ARE SEVERAL CABINS THROUGHOUT THE VALLEY. HOWEVER THE ONLY TIME WE EVER SEE ANYONE ELSE IN THE OPENING DAY OF DEER SEASON WHICH IS BETTER THAN A MONTH AWAY. NOW THERE IS ONE CABIN DIRECTLY ACROSS THE VALLEY FROM US WERE LIVES A LITTLE OLD PROSPECTOR CALLED FRED. BEING ABLE TO SEE US ARRIVING FRED WILL SURLY BE COMING UP TO GREET US AND SEE IF WE HAVE ANY LIQUOR FOR HIM. WHICH WE ALWAYS DO. TO THE RIGHT OF OUR CABIN IS A VERY LARGE OLD VICTORIAN THREE STORY MANSION. ONE YEAR FRED WHO IS SOMEWHAT OF A CARE TAKER GAVE US A TOUR. WE WERE AMAZED TO FIND THE PLACE CHUCK FULL OF ANTIQUES. IT HAD ABOUT FIFTEEN OR SO ROOMS JUST FULL ON STUFF. FOUR BEAD ROOMS WITH GREAT BIG OLD POSTER BEDS WITH FEATHER THICK MATTRESSES AND COVERS. ONE ROOM HAD A HUGHES BAR IN IT JUST FULL OF EMPTY BOTTLES.

WE DECIDED TO COOK ON THE OUTSIDE FIRE PLACE UNTIL WE TRAP OUT THE RESIDENT MOUSSE AND WHAT EVER ELSE MAY HAVE MOVED IN. TED HAD STARTED A LARGE POT OF VENISON AND BEANS. WE ARE SITTING AROUND THE FIRE JUST ABOUT DARK WHEN UP THE ROAD COMES FRED. HE'S DRESSED IN A WEST POINT MILITARY OUTFIT WITH HIS SHOT GUN OVER HIS SHOULDER. BILLY REMARKED THAT HE NOW QUALIFIES AS A COLORFUL CHARACTER. WE ALL GREETED FRED AND SAT BACK AROUND THE FIRE AFTER OFFERING HIM A PLATE OF BEANS AND A GLASS OF RED EYE. WE NO SOONER GOT SEATED WHEN WE HEARD A VERY LOUD SCREAM COMING FROM UP THE MOUNTAIN DIRECTLY BEHIND THE CABIN. OK FRED WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT. FRED SAID THAT HE HAD BEEN HEARING THAT ON AND OFF NOW FOR OVER A MONTH. WELL WHAT IS IT FRED. FRED SAID THAT SOMEONE MUST HAVE GOTTEN LOST AND TURNED WILD AND CRAZY. HE ALSO SAID THAT ONE NIGHT HE HEARD IT RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VALLEY. HE FIRED A SHOT UP IN THE AIR AND THEN DIDNíT HEAR IT FOR NEAR A WEEK. IT WAS NOW ABOUT FIFTEEN MINUETS SINCE WE FIRST HEARD IT AND IT SOUNDED AGAIN A LITTLE LEFT OF THE CABIN AND ABOUT HALF WAY UP THE MOUNTAIN. NOW THAT'S WERE I PLANNED TO HUNT TOMORROW.

AFTER ANOTHER HOUR AND NO MORE SCREAMS WE DECIDED TO TURN IN. BILLY SUGGESTED THAT HE WALK FRED BACK TO HIS CABIN. TED SUGGESTED THAT HE CARRY HIS SHOTGUN. THIS VALLEY HAD NO LIGHTS AND WAS A DARK DARK PLACE AT NIGHT. WE TURNED IN AND OF COURSE KEPT OUR LOADED SHOTGUNS AND PISTOLS WITHIN REACH. WE ALSO AGREED TO KEEP A CANDLE BURNING. JUST INCASE.

MORNING CAME AND WE SETTLED INTO A BISQUES AND GRAVY TOPPED OFF WITH SOME REAL BLACK COFFEE BECAUSE SOMEONE FORGOT THE SUGAR. WE CLEANED UP AND HEADED OUT. TEDDY AND BILL WERE SHUCKING ME ABOUT HUNTING THE MOUNTAIN BEHIND THE CABIN. I TRIED TO TALK THEM INTO COMING WITH ME BUT THEY WOULDNíT HAVE ANY PART OF IT. SO OFF I GO. THIS IS WELL BEFORE WE EVER HEARD OF A SASQUATCH.

THE NICE THING ABOUT THESE MOUNTAINS WAS THAT EVERY HUNDRED YARDS OR SO THERE WAS A WIDE SHELF ABOUT THIRTY OR SO YARDS WIDE THAT RAN ALONG THE MOUNTAIN AND MADE FOR EASY WALKING. A GOOD PART OF IT WAS STONE LEDGES. BEING AN OLD FOREST. EVERY SO OFTEN YOU WOULD HEAR A LARGE LIMB BREAK AND FALL TO THE GROUND. THAT WAS COMMON AND I HAD HEARD IT BEFORE SO I DIDNíT SPOOK-MUCH. WHEN I REACHED THE PART OF THE MOUNTAIN WERE I THOUGHT I HEARD THE SCREAM I WALKED SLOW AND CHECKED FOR PRINTS. PLENTY OF DEER AND A FEW BEAR TRACKS BUT NOTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY. AS I APPROACHED THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN I ENCOUNTERED SOME VERY TALL SEDAN GRASS THAT WAS OVER MY HEAD. THIS IS A VERY THICK CANE LIKE GRASS THAT GREW IN LARGE CLUMPS. I FOUND A NUMBER OF GAME TRAILS THROUGH WHICH MADE IT EASY TO NAVIGATE. I SPOOFED ABOUT TWENTY YARDS ALONG THIS ONE TRAIL WHEN I ENCOUNTERED A DOE DEER SLOWLY RUNNING STRAIGHT AT ME. SHE HAD HER HEAD PARTLY TURNED LOOKING BACK AND DIDNíT SEE ME UNTIL SHE WAS ALMOST ON TOP OF ME. I YELLED AND THROUGH MY HANDS UP IN THE AIR. STARTLED SHE JUMPED INTO THE HEAVY GRASS AND DISAPPEARED. I STOOD FOR A SHORT WHILE WAITING TO SEE WHAT WAS CHASING HER. NOTHING APPEARED SO I CONTINUED MAKING MY WAY UP A SHORT RISE TO THE TOP. I BROKE OUT OF THE TALL GRASS AND FOUND BEFORE ME A LARGE STAND OF SOME VERY OLD OAK TREES STILL HAVING MOST OF THERE LEAVES AND MAKING IT SOMEWHAT DARK. HUM A BLACK FOREST. I FOUND IT INTERESTING SO I WALKED TOWARDS IT AND ON IT'S EDGE ENCOUNTERED A VERY OLD AND RUSTED ROUGH IRON FENCE. AFTER EXAMINING IT I FOUND IT TO BE ABOUT THREE FEET HIGH AND PARTLY COVERED WITH DIRT AND MOSTLY COVERED WITH SOME SORT OF VINE. I FOUND A SPOT AND STEPPED OVER IT AND STOOD FOR A MOMENT. BEFORE ME WAS ABOUT TEN VISIBLE TOMB STONES. SOME LAYING DOWN OTHERS PARTLY STANDING. WHAT FROZE ME WAS THE FACT THAT THE WRITING WAS ERODED AWAY AND THROUGHOUT THE AREA WAS FULL OF CAVES OF VARIOUS SIZES. I IMMEDIATELY THOUGHT THAT SOME WERE LARGE ENOUGH FOR A BEAR TO HIBERNATE. WHAT MADE IT WORSE WAS THE STEAM COMING OUT OF SEVERAL OF THEM. AS I STOOD THERE MY MIND WENT DIRECTLY TO LAST NIGHTS SCREAMS. WHAT IF NA NA NA DONíT GO THERE.

 

I STARTED TO MOVE TOWARDS THE FAR END WHEN I NOTICED THE GATE TO THIS CEMETERY. IT HAD BEEN CONSUMED OVER THE YEARS INTO A VERY LARGE OAK TREE AND WAS NOW HIGH ENOUGH UP STICKING OUT OF THE TREE THAT I JUMPED UP AND WAS BARELY ABLE TO TOUCH IT. I WALKED OUT A WAYS AND STOOD LOOKING BACK AND THOUGHT - IF ALFRED HITCHCOCK COULD ONLY SEE THIS.

 

I TURNED AND LOOKED OUT OVER A LARGE GRASS FIELD. I STILL HAD THREE VERY LARGE OAK TREES IN FRONT OF ME SO I WALKED TO THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THEM WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN A VERY LARGE SHADOW CAME OVER ME. I WAS NOW SO SHOOK, I FIRED MY DOUBLE BARREL BLACK POWDER SHOTGUN INTO THE DIRT IN FRONT. OF ME. I QUICKLY RAISED THE GUN TO FIND TWO VERY LARGE TURKEYS IN FLIGHT. I LET LOOSE WITH THE NEXT SHOT WHEN I REALIZED THAT THEY WERE OUT OF RANGE. MY HEART WAS POUNDING SO I BACKED UP AND SAT UNDER ONE OF THE OAKS FOR ABOUT A HALF HOUR AND ASSESSED MY SANITY.

AFTER THAT I RE-LOADED MY GUN AND STARTED BACK TOWARDS THE CABIN. AFTER A SHORT DISTANCE I DISCOVERED A VERY LARGE PILE OF HORSE AND MULE SHOES ALL IN A PILE RUSTING AWAY. IN THE SAME AREA I DISCOVERED A PILE OF ODD SHAPED GLASS BOTTLES. SOMEONE HAD DISCOVERED THEM BEFORE ME AND USED THEM FOR TARGET PRACTICE. BUT THERE WAS A BUNCH THAT WAS STILL GOOD. NOW A DAY'S THEY ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY. I NOW VENTURED BACK DOWN THE MOUNTAIN WITH MY HEAD JUST FULL OF ADVENTURE.

Ken "Howdy" Davis

NAF

 

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