Welcome to the 2008 edition of my hunting journals.
I am so happy to be able to be writing a journal this year.
I had by-pass heart surgery last November and was not allowed or in any condition to hunt after 50 plus year of enjoying the sport.
That adds to the excitement of this years' seasons.
I am so excited because the deer harvest in this area was down last year and I have been seeing quite a few deer all summer.
I hope you enjoy the stories as much as in the past years...
Took a small ride from my home back to the old rifle range on SGL 54 near where the old game school used to be...
As I left the front door I spooked 7 deer in the neighbor's yard... all from SGL 54
As I approached "Wingard's field" I spotted 7 deer in the first field on the left
I spotted 8 more at the other end of that field...
As I drove back to the old school area 4 more deer ran across the road...
Pulled into the parking lot at the old range and shut off the engine.
As I sat there I saw 3 deer enter in the far left corner (back by the old backstop) but I did not remember my binoculars,
so I do not know what they were.. just that they were BIG deer...
After about 10 minutes of sitting there here comes an antlerless deer only about 30 feet from my front fender... Not spooked at all... she walked over by the parking sign and started to feed...
Soon she was joined by a second entering the same direction and distance. I am sitting there AMAZED at how close they come to the truck and do not even seem to mind ??
Then a third appears..
And as darkness started to set in a fourth from the other direction..
This trip allowed me to see over 30 deer in a short distance from my house and all on ground open to hunting...
Returned to that area of SGL#54.. I decided to walk back the road only to the third grassy area and see what I saw today. I waited and started my walk later in the afternoon than the last visit when I spotted only one deer.. I arrived at the third grassy open area and saw nothing at 5:00pm
I started slowly walking back to the parking area, arriving at the second grassy area that is more like a trail than any real open area... and saw a NICE healthy doe there.....
Somehow she must have "winded" me and took off with another big doe following her...
It was now almost 5:30pm and as I continued to the first area I spotted a deer already feeding there and sghe was shortly joined by another smaller female.
When the smaller one spotted me they both ran crashing thru the underbrush and back into the woods to my left.. as I started to walk again a deer jumped up on my right out of the thick cover and went crashing off to my right into the woods over that way.. it was really thick stuff and hard to see the deer at all.. but it sure was making a lot of noise..
NOT sure if it was a buck but I THINK it was....
When it first jumped up I thought I saw antlers... after that it was just brown and that all to familiar white tail...
Its been almost a week since I have seen so many deer... LOL..
I spotted two more along the road thru SGL# 54 then I turned off route 949 and started seeing deer on Travis's posted property.
For those familiar with area they know it has ALWAYS been posted since the 1960s.
I counted 14 in one field before I had to move on because of traffic... It was too dark for any good photos but maybe you can see a couple in this shot.
The next field allowed me to see a BEAUTIFUL 8 pointer standing under an apple tree.. another field and 6 more deer.. around the bend and another with 8 deer in it... a turn onto game school road..up the hill and 7 more on the left in a posted field.. finally my lane and the trip has come to an end..
Returned to the same little grassy area as on Tuesday but just sat and waited... NOTHING showed up... but a gray squirrel on a nearby tree that scared the heck out of me...
Did see 9 deer on the way over, 4 on private property that I have permission to hunt the rest on Travis property... that was at 4:30pm...
Also some turkeys on that property that I can hunt on..
Coming across Log Cabin Road on the way home I spotted about 15 on another part of the Travis property and a raccoon...
Well I FINALLY made a trip into a part of Penn's woods with the intentions of hunting rather than scouting or taking photos, And I must admit I found it enjoyable.
I got into the woods at 3:30pm and was not sure I had made the right decision. I chose an area that I used to hunt this time of year for archery and squirrel. I had not been back there in about 4 years.
Things have changed.. there is a clearing and a gas well there now, but I always saw game there before and my "spot" was still about a 100 yards from the clearing and gas well.
The wind was blowing and my experiences have proven windy is not the best of conditions for squirreling for me.
I had made plans to hunt for 2.5 hours, just as that deadline approached a squirrel appeared and I decided to shoot even though it was only a red squirrel.. a year of not hunting must have made me a little trigger happy.
The single shot 410 that my mother-in law gave me after my father-in-law passed away did the job.. It was the first time I had shot the gun. Now I have to clean it.
As I was sitting there I kept wondering why more folks do not just enjoy the time in the woods and put so much pressure on themselves to harvest or even see game. I would have been perfectly satisfied if I did not even see a squirrel.
The peace and quiet and time alone without pressures of work, chores around the house, tv , music, budget worries, etc.... made for a wonderful and relaxing couple of hours.
I guess I'm just happy I grew up in a time that was not so demanding... As I sat there waiting I recalled afternoons with my Dad spent hunting squirrels. This afternoon every now and then his voice entered my head....
"remember son, it's a single shot, make sure of your shot, make it count when you pull the trigger."
" remember...you only get one chance"
"relax, just enjoy the time we are spending in the woods"
and my favorite...
"doesn't this beat cleaning your room"
As I left the woods (as my self imposed time limit expired)
I found myself once again being thankful for my life and the fact I had the opportunity to enjoy some time in Penn's woods......
Many times I have talked about the hemlock grove behind my house on SGL#54....
I call it my piece of heaven. It's about 400 yards from my home and I have harvested the majority of my deer from those hemlocks, usually before noon on opening day.
I thought I would walk back and take a look since I have not been back there this year. I left the house at 8:30am and arrive at "my spot" about 8:45...... after a while I spotted a buck but he was not an AR legal buck.. but a buck in my hemlocks on my first trip there and at 9:00am my favorite time to be there.... I did not stay long after he walked thru.. no sense in smelling up the area.... LOL..
NOVEMBER 2008 HUNTING
I forgot about the time changing yesterday so I got a late start..
I wanted to be in the hemlock at 8:00am but with the time falling back I actually got there at 9:00am. Have to remember it gets lighter sooner now !!!
Walked down into the hemlock grove this morning hoping to get better photos of the buck from the other morning... no luck.
Nothing showed up so I decided to make a big loop down into the hollow and back up around and thru where my ladder stand is set up for taking photos... I left the hemlocks at 9:30am.
Well I am happy to report my surgery must have worked !!!
I have not made that loop in about 4 years, the uphill from the hollow is a killer... but I never even got out of breath !!!
As I got to within 100 yards of the house I started noticing signs of buck activity... small scrapes and some rubs..
The rubs are within 60 yards of my ladder stand... I guess I better spend some time in it this afternoon and tomorrow early morning.. see what's going on..
After seeing some of the rubs I think I might have been right that the small buck from the other morning might have been worried about a bigger buck nearby ...
I'll be setting up in my ladder stand this afternoon at 3:00pm and we'll see what happens until dark...
Today was the first day of rifle season for whitetail deer here in Pa.
I started my day at 6:15am as I started down the hill to my favorite spot in the Hemlock Grove behind the house. I arrived at 6:30 and was shortly joined by Scott as he traveled down into the hollow below me. After "Good Mornings" and "Good Luck Wishes" he was out of sight.
Shortly after I was checking my stuff and realized I had left the house without my flou orange vest... NO orange and no license... time to head back up the hill and hope I don't get shot!!!
I arrived back down in the Hemlocks around 7:00am and took my place between two large rocks, sat down and started my wait.
I had decided that I was not going to shoot the first deer into the hemlocks, I was going to wait and hope for a buck.....
The first deer showed up at 7:45 as 8 deer ran into the hemlocks and stopped in front of me at 30 yards... I could see all of them as they stood there... 3 were spikes and several were this years' fawns... I passed....
I finally stood up and chased them up the hill hoping one of the others guys could get a shot.. no such luck..
The next deer showed up at 8:30 a button buck walked in and the whole time was looking completely away from me. He had no idea I was there as he stopped at about 30 feet.... I finally picked up a stick and threw it - hitting him in the rear end... he jumped and flew up the hill with another deer following him, could not make out what that deer was though.
At 9:00am - 4 more antlerless came in and I still decided to wait, after all I had seen 14 deer and it was only 9:00am....
BAD DECISION ------ that was it for the REST OF THE DAY... no more deer sightings....
One of the junior hunters in "our gang" got his first buck a nice 6 pointer and that was it for the group.... everyone with doe tags had made the same decision I did about waiting and then saw no deer....
Everyone was seeing deer....
I started this day at 6:15 also... headed down to the hemlocks but decided to stay outside where the deer had come in yesterday, plus I could see down in the hollow from that spot... Nothing was moving and there were very very few hunters..
At 8:15am I decided to move down into the hollow, as I arrived on the bottom about 6:30 a group of 6 deer took off running back up the hill the way I had just come down.
A BIG doe actually jumped up on a huge rock and stopped to look at me... HER MISTAKE... left side just behind the lower shoulder and she was down and off the rock, she ran about 30 yards and crashed head first into the snow... heart and lung shot.. got to love that shot !!!
After gutting her out one of the guys from "our gang" was so very kind as to help drag her back up the hill and over to the house..
Started this day out at 6:30 and sat in my tree stand for an hour then move up onto the "flats" and walked about 1/4 mile and jumped 6 deer... they were far away and I could only see a couple were antlerless as they ran down into the hollow... raining the whole time I was out.
Decided to go over to Clear Creek and try to fill my DMAP coupon. the roads over there were terrible....ICE..
I stopped at two places that had easy access and hunted each for about an hour.
At the one place I did not even see tracks from another human in the snow there -- which was a surprise... still raining and I'm getting soaked.... so I decide to leave.
Filled my DMAP coupon for Clear Creek State Forest this morning..
Got out of truck at 7:00am walked into the woods about 300 yards and posted. At about 7:45 I spotted a small doe sneaking towards me on the deer trail I was watching. I then noticed there were two small ones and then I spotted Momma. She was about 50 yards away and all three walking on the trail directly at me. They stopped and fed for a few minutes then Momma took the lead... right at me, at 15 yards...
I squeezed the trigger on the 30/30 pointed right at her front right shoulder.. BANG... she jumped about 12 feet in the air and took off.. she ran about 30 yards towards the truck then snow-plowed into the ground.. another successful harvest for 2008...
After tagging and field dressing her I dragged her to the truck, took her home for the wife to see and then off to the meat market..
Today and tomorrow are work day so I wanted to get her there early......
She was another big mature doe, so we have plenty of meat and maybe I'll try two days next week for a buck..
I have an idea on where I can get one of those IF it is not too cold...
Price has gone up for processing... $75.00, so for two $150.00..
BUT I am sure I'll get over a 100 pounds of venison so that's some pretty cheap meat at around $1.50 per pound ....
Driving home from work tonight I saw at least 6 antlerless and one buck cross the road.. the does were headed North the buck headed South ?????
MONDAY MORNING ----
Sat on the ridge for 1.5 hours.. then got up and walked to warm up and could not even find fresh tracks.. the deer must have all moved back down into the hollow... too bad... cause I ain't going down there
Back home after two hours..
Went down to Blowtown and hunted some private property I have permission to hunt... hunted from 4pm until 5:10pm... saw only 5 does.... coming home it was pretty dark but I counted 17 in the posted field across the road from me..... could not tell if there were any with antlers...
Here's this afternoon area along a power line...
Traveling to Pittsburgh on Wednesday and work tomorrow so I think I'll try this spot again on Thursday...
Tuesday morning --
Went to Blowtown where I saw the deer crossing the road on the way home from work Sunday night... hunted 2 hours... could have shot another doe and did not get a shot or good look at a buck.. he had large antlers but that's all I know.... he was sneaking thru a thick pine thicket.... way to many branches to shoot or get a good look at him.... BUT.. there's always Thursday !!!!
I hunted the Blowtown area again this morning for 3 hours and saw nothing. I did find a couple rubs in the area but it looked like they had not been worked lately.
I saw bucks crossing this area all summer and into the fall and a guy nearby had a trail camera out nearby and he got photos of 8 different legal bucks.... but no one at their camp saw or got a buck in the area... I just can not figure where they are ????
Returned to the same area this evening at 3:45 and sat until quitting time... at various times during that period I saw a total of 6 antlerless from various directions, mostly single deer traveling in the falling snow, which by the way was really beautiful, falling in the woods. A couple of these does were really nice size too...
I'm left with a couple hours tomorrow morning and Saturday morning before work... who knows maybe I'll still get lucky and get a shot at buck ???
Finally got all my venison and I got a total of 88 pounds from the two deer. I have butterfly back straps, two tenderloins and the rest ground venison.
I thought I would share my thoughts and opinions on the 2008 rifle whitetail deer season as I experienced it or as I heard others express their thoughts and opinions while I was at work and talking to hunters as they came into the store for various reasons.
Many hunters I talked to said they saw more deer then they had in the past 3-4 years while hunting this year. Many said they saw some really nice bucks but just as many said they saw a more than usual number of small “scrub” bucks.
In talking with these guys I would have to say the best style of hunting was either small drives of 3-4 hunters or stalking. Most said the deer seemed to be not moving on their own, most thought it was because of the snow we had on the ground this year. It has been several years since we had several inches of snow on the opening day. Several of the successful buck hunters talked of seeing the buck lying down and as they slowly approached the buck it stood and that’s when they fired. Several guys working together driving a section of thicket was very successful with some of the drivers actually getting shooting and in most cases the “standers” got the deer as it went by them.
Another comment that was given by most was the lack of hunters in the area they were hunting. I know the first parking lot past my house on SGL#54 had only 7 trucks parked there on the first Monday and in the past you couldn’t get in there at all to park after 5:00am….
Guys that were still hunting after the first Wednesday said they never saw another hunter.
I saw one other hunter in all my days afield. I asked many about the number of guys in their camps compared to past years. Most had less but said it was because of many staying in the southwest area closer to home (Pittsburgh) because of better deer numbers and better antler development down there.
One thing that many stated was the camp had more younger hunters than ever before… many taking advantage of the mentored youth hunts and several of those youngster were successful and in the store and received “high fives” from me. Several were of the female variety too !!!
My season was pretty good.. 2 harvested and I saw deer on every trip but one short one.
I did not see a lot of bucks but that is the norm for me. At my age I no longer get a big thrill out of traveling into those thickets and in places that would require a difficult drag if I was successful.. not complaining.. just stating the facts for me…
I now try to find the challenge and thrill in picking a spot that I think I will see deer moving without other hunters being involved or without having to do a lot of walking… and this year I was GREAT at picking those spots…
Now to say no one complained would be a lie….. there were those guys too… I did find a couple things interesting in talking with them –
1…. The time of day they were in the store complaining rather than in the woods hunting… while it is good for the store to have guys in there at lunch time eating,
that has always been a good time to be in the woods too, taking advantage of other hunters leaving and moving deer as they do that.
2…. The afternoon guys buying their groceries for supper ( I guess). 3 to 4pm was another of our busiest times at that is my favorite time to be in the woods except for “1st light”….
3…. Many and by that I mean MOST said they were sitting and not moving around, it was the old… “”same place I have sat for years in the past and seen deer, but did not see any for the x number of hours or X number of days I hunted there”””
I listened to their complaints and asked many where they were hunting… you would think a guy would be more than happy to tell me where he was that he saw no deer…. But that was not the case. Not one of them would be specific in what area that was…. I wonder why ????
The last Saturday which in the past was always a good day appeared to be not so this year… VERY few hunters and a really slow day at work…. Only one was at the camps in my area. Several guys did come into the store that were not hunting and reported seeing deer bedding near the roads and two reported seeing legal bucks bedded in such areas as they drove around.
Another comment received from several folks was seeing many “1/2 racks” and abandoned deer left in the woods… I know of about 4 guys that harvested ½ racks and several who did not shoot because it was a ½ rack… not sure if the loss of an antler was do to fighting or weather conditions… but it was odd to hear so many accounts of both abandoned and ½ racks
Many unsuccessful locals are looking forward to after Xmas and getting back out there in the late season… I’m looking into the possibility of using a crossbow if the weather does not get to bad ????
Well… we will have to wait until March to get the statewide figures but I truly believe this area of 2F will be right in line with recent years and have a good harvest.
Congratulations to all the successful deer hunters and better luck next year to those that were not…. Even though you were not successful … I hope you enjoyed your adventures just the same………..
BACK TO MY JOURNALS SECTION