Sep/Oct 2012

 

 

  

HOWDY DAVIS
STAFF WRITER.

My Outdoor Adventures

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

 

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OUTDOOR ADVENTURES #1

 

MY BROTHERS AND I HAVE SPENT A GREAT DEAL OF OUR LIVES IN THE MOUNTAINS AND ON THE RIVERS AND STREAMS OF PENNSYLVANIA HUNTING AND FISHING. THIS IS WHERE WE GREW UP. WE WERE SO LUCKY HAVING LARGE FAMILIES THAT TOOK THESE SPORTS VERY SERIOUSLY.

HANGING OUT WITH THE OLDER MEMBERS OF THE CLAN IS WHERE WE GOT OUR EDUCATION. THESE GUYS HAD SO MUCH INFORMATION AND WHERE SO WILLING TO SHARE IT. WE ARE GOING BACK BEFORE TELEVISION THE INTRODUCTION OF GAME FARMS, FOOD PLOTS AND ALL THE EQUIPMENT AND GADGETS THAT THE MODERN DAY HUNTERS HAVE. WE DID HAVE DEER CALLS BUT YOU DID IT WITH YOUR MOUTH NO REEDS OR HORNS. DEER TALK SO YOU LEARN THAT LANGUAGE. HUNTING WAS YOU AND THE FOREST. BIG GAME WAS THE WHITE TAILED DEER AND IT WAS NO SECRET THAT IF YOU WANTED TO BE SUCCESSFUL YOU HAD TO PUT YOUR TIME IN SCOUTING AND TRACKING PRIOR TO THE OPENING OF THE SEASON. IN FACT WE SPENT MORE TIME IN THE FOREST SCOUTING THAN WE DID ACTUALLY HUNTING. THAT WAS CALLED DOING YOUR HOME WORK.

WE LEARNED EARLY ON THAT BUCK AND DOE SPENT A LOT OF TIME SEPARATED UNTIL THE PREDICTED RUT. WE ALWAYS HAD SEVERAL DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF JUST WHEN THAT WAS. SO WE REALLY DIDNíT PAY A LOT OF ATTENTION TO IT. SCOUT OUT THOSE BIG BUCKS AND GO HUNT THEM. THAT WAS OUR CALL OF THE WILD. WE ALWAYS HAD A FAMILY AND FRIEND LOTTERY FOR THE BIGGEST BUCK. SO YOU HUNTED HARD. MOSTLY FOR BRAGGING RIGHTS.

OUR FAMILY WAS WHAT THEY CALL POOR. SO ALL HUNTING WEAPONS WERE HAND ME DOWNS. SOMEONE WAS ALWAYS SHOWING UP WITH A BOW AND ARROWS WHICH BECAME THE YOUNGSTERS PRIMARY WEAPON AND WE GOT PRETTY DAMN GOOD WITH THEM EVEN THOUGH WE HAD TO MAKE OUR OWN ARROWS. A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY HAPPY DOLAN WAS VERY GOOD AT MAKING BOW STRINGS AND HELPING YOU GET SET UP. ALL THE OLDER MEMBERS OF THE CLAN SEEMED TO ALL HAVE MUZZLELOADERS A FEW MODERN RIFLES SHOWED UP NOW AND THEN. NO MATTER WHAT YOU HAD IT WAS A PRIZED POSSESSION.

WHEN SCOUTING WE WERE THOUGHT THAT THE BEST OBSERVATION POINT WAS AN ELEVATED POSITION SO OUR TREE CLIMBING AND SHIMMYING UP TO A PERCH BECAME EXCELLENT. YOU TIED A STRING ONTO YOUR BOW, ARROWS AND PACK AND UP YOU WENT. WHEN SCOUTING WE WOULD ALWAYS FIND A WELL TRAVELED DEER TRAIL THAT LED FROM FEEDING TO BEDDING AND YOU HAD TO HAVE A SOURCE OF WATER IN THE AREA. WITH SO MANY HUNTERS NOW IN THE WOODS DEER WOULD USE A WELL USED FAMILIAR TRAIL FOR ESCAPE.

IT'S 1950 AND I WAS 15 YEARS OLD AND BROTHER TEDDY WAS 14 AND WE FINALLY WERE ABLE TO STRIKE OUT ON OUR OWN. DURING THIS TIME THERE WERE NOT VERY MANY PEOPLE WHO BOW HUNTED. THE BOW HUNTING SEASON WOULD START AROUND THE BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER AND WOULD RUN FOR SEVERAL WEEKS FOLLOWED BY THE GUN SEASON. IF YOU DIDNíT GET YOUR DEER WITH THE BOW YOU COULD STILL HUNT WITH THE BOW OR SWITCH OVER TO A SMOKEPOLE.

WHEN YOU SPEND AS MUCH TIME IN THE FOREST AS WE DID YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A NUMBER OF MEMORABLE MOMENTS. I RECALL WHILE SCOUTING ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS SPOTTING THIS REALLY NICE BUCK THAT WOULD FREQUENT THIS PARTICULAR AREA. IM ABOUT FIFTEEN FEET UP IN A TREE AND THIS BUCK COMES UP UNDER SOME PRETTY HEAVY BRUSH AND GOES RIGHT UNDER ME AND INTO THIS SWAMPY AREA. NOT MUCH CHANCE FOR A BOW SHOT. SO PRIOR TO OPENING DAY I BLOCKED OFF HIS TRAIL AND CUT A TRAIL OUT INTO THIS CLEARING. I THEN BUILT A BRUSH BLIND ABOUT 20 YARDS OUT IN THIS CLEARING. THE FIRST DAY HE DIDNíT SHOW UP. ON THE SECOND DAY IM IN MY BLIND AND RIGHT BEFORE ME I SPOT THESE ANTLERS COMING TOWARDS ME. IM KNEELING DOWN AND THIS BUCK COMES OUT INTO THIS OPENING AND BEGINS TO FEED TO MY RIGHT GIVING ME A PERFECT BROADSIDE SHOT. THROUGH A SLOT IN MY BRUSH BLIND I DRAW MY BOW AND LET IT GO. THE ARROW WENT HIGH OVER HIS BACK AND THE FEATHER SKINNED ACROSS HIS BACK. HE JUST SHRUGGED AND WENT ON FEEDING. I COULDNíT BELIEVE THAT ARROW DIDNíT MAKE NOISE WHERE EVER IT LANDED. I HAVE SEEN BIRDS LAND ON DEER'S BACKS BEFORE AND MAYBE THAT WAS WHAT HE THOUGHT IT HAPPENED. I HAVE ANOTHER ARROW NOCKED AND LET IT GO ADJUSTING MY GAP AND PERFECT RIGHT IN THE VITAL. THIS DEER SPUN AND STARTED RUNNING RIGHT IN MY DIRECTION AND PASSED ME WITHIN ABOUT TWO FEET. MY HEART WAS TRYING TO JUMP OUT OF MY BODY. I JUST LAID DOWN AND LISTENED UNTIL MY BODY RETURNED TO NEAR NORMAL. I THEN GOT UP AND FOUND THE BLOOD TRAIL. IT LOOKED LIKE A LUNG SHOT. SLOWLY I FOLLOWED HIM FOR ABOUT FIFTY YARDS AND SPOTTED HIM ON A ROCK PILE PARTLY LAYING AGAINST A LONE SMALL TREE. THINKING HE WAS DEAD I LAID MY BOW DOWN AND TOOK HOLD OF HIS ANTLERS. UP HE JUMPED AND SWUNG HIS HEAD AROUND TOWARDS ME BUT CAUGHT THAT SMALL TREE. HIS BODY FELL BACK KNOCKING ME DOWN AND PINNING ME UNDER HIS BODY. I COUNT MY LUCKY STARS. THAT WAS HIS LAST BREATH. NOW I HAD TO DIG MY LEGS OUT FROM UNDER HIM BY REMOVING A BUNCH OF THOSE ROCKS. GOOD THING THEY WERE SMALL ROCKS. HE TURNED OUT TO BE A VERY NICE 8 POINTER WITH A HEAVY BEAM. EASTERN COUNT. I THEN LEARNED TO POKE A DOWNED ANIMAL MAKING SURE HE IS DEAD.

THIS IS AFTER SCHOOL AND NOT TO FAR FROM HOME. I GRABBED MY BOW AND HEADED FOR THE FOREST. I HAD THIS REAL COMFORTABLE LARGE OAK TREE THAT I CLIMBED UP IN. IT ABOUT 6 PM AND IT STARTS TO GET DARK AT ABOUT SEVEN. ALL OF A SUDDEN TO MY RIGHT IS A BEAUTIFUL LARGE BUCK WALKING RIGHT TOWARDS ME. HE'S GOING TO PASS RIGHT UNDER ME. ALL OF A SUDDEN TO MY LEFT IS ANOTHER BUCK THE SAME SIZE COMING STRAIGHT FOR THIS OTHER BIG GUY. JUST THEN THEY BOTH RUN AT EACH OTHER AND BEGIN A TREMENDOUS FIGHT. PUSHING AND SHOVING EACH OTHER ALONG WITH CLASHING THEIR ANTLERS TOGETHER. IM NO MORE THAT ABOUT FIFTEEN FEET ABOVE THEM. GETTING SPLATTERED WITH ALL SORTS OF DIRT. I SEE MOVEMENT OUT IN FRONT OF ME AND NOW I GOT TWO OTHER LESSER BUCKS AND THEY ARE ALL CHARGED UP LIKE THERE AWAITING THEIR TURN. THIS FIGHT IS NOW GOING ON FOR ABOUT A HALF HOUR. THE ONE BIG BUCK TO THE RIGHT LOOKS LIKE IT'S BEGINNING TO TIRE AND GETS PUSHED TO THE GROUND. THE TIRED BUCK MOVES OFF BEHIND MY TREE WHEN ONE OF THE LESSER BUCKS RUNS UP AND THE BIG GUY JUST SWINGS HIS HEAD LIKE A MAD BUCK AND NOCKS THE LESSER BUCK FOR A LOOP. JUST THEN THIS LITTLE SPIKIER BUCK COMES OUT ON NOWHERE AND JUST RUNS BY THE BIG BUCK AND OFF INTO THE WOODS. IT'S GETTING PRETTY DARK AND I HEAR MOVEMENT BEHIND ME AND I NOW CAN BARELY MAKE OUT MORE DEER THAT I FIGURE HAS TO BE DOE. SO THATíS WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT. A CONTEST TO FIND OUT WHO IS KING OF THE HERD. NOW IT'S DARK AND I CAN STILL HEAR PLENTY OF MOVEMENT ALL AROUND ME. I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THIS TREE AND FIND MY WAY OUT OF THE WOODS. I BEGIN TALKING OUT LOUD AND MAKING LOTS OF NOISE GETTING OUT OF THE TREE. FROM MY PACK I RETRIEVE A SMALL FLASHLIGHT AND START SHOWING IT AROUND. I CAN HEAR THE DEER STILL MOVING AROUND AND DONíT SEEM TO BE TO SPOOKED. I KNOW THAT DEER HAVE REAL GOOD NIGHT VISION AND IM ONLY HOPING THAT THEY DONíT COME CHARGING AT ME. I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT NIGHT IN THE TREE.

Ken "Howdy" Davis

NAF #012

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