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Whitetail Hunting in Pennsylvania
A wonderful opening day of buck hunting.
A week before there was eight inches or more of snow on the ground. But warmer weather accompanied by rain had ruined any chance of having good tracking snow on the opening day of the 1981 deer season in Pennsylvania.
A few flurries came down the day before we were to go hunting, but it scarcely covered the ground. We had to accept the noisy conditions made by the frozen leaves for that day of hunting. It would be a day that I my older brothers Richard, Russell, and our father would never forget. We were up early having breakfast and everyone was filled with the excitement that always comes along with deer hunting.
I was the first to leave the house and when I got to my stand it was already occupied, so I decided to move to another stand not far away. When I got there it was just getting light and shots were being fired in the distance. It did not take long before they got closer because I heard a few shots off to my left. I kept a close eye out for movement. Then suddenly you could hear the leaves crackling and through an opening in the woods about a hundred yards away I saw a deer, then another and another. I kept my scope on them and saw horns on the third one. I was trying to find an opening in front of the deer but they were behind some brush and pine trees and I could not get a clear shot. They were moving slowly away and before I could fire a shot they had disappeared into the woods as though they had never been there!
Before I had time to think about whether I had just blown possibly my only chance at a buck that year, there was a shot! It was real close to where those deer had gone into the woods. Then I remembered my brother had a stand down in that area and it might be him shooting. I walked down into the woods and saw Russell coming towards me. "Did you see those deer?" I said. Russell answered," I think I missed a buck." A motion to him was all that was needed to begin a search.
A short distance away, Russell found the buck lying in a small creek. There was a steep bank about ten feet high and it looked like the deer collapsed at the edge and then fell into the creek. I congratulated him for scoring a nice six-point buck. It was only eight o'clock in the morning and we already had one! Not knowing that by the end of the day we would all have our bucks!
I helped him field dress the deer and offered to help drag it back, but he insisted I stay there. We knew there was at least one more buck in the area from the scouting we had done earlier. It was a beautiful day for hunting. The sun was shining and it was not real cold. The red squirrels were making a lot of noise behind me, but when I heard the louder crunching farther to my left, I knew that there was something bigger than a red squirrel making it. Then I saw him, just his legs at first, and then his shoulder. It was a deer but did it have a rack?
I raised my scope slowly and studied him for a while trying to see horns. He was behind some brush and it was hard to see his head. My only chance at a shot was through an opening in the brush where he was standing. Then he lowered his head and I saw the white part of his antler reflected by the sun. I held steady on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. He was gone before I could look up and I did not see which way he went.
It all happened so fast I wasn't sure what to do. I stood there for a minute hoping the deer would run by me, but no luck. When I got to where the deer was standing there was no sign of a hit. I made two small circles and came up empty. I ended up back at the stand trying to figure out what had just happened.
It was almost when I started back to the house for some lunch. There was an area I wanted to double check for a sign of a hit. It was farther over from where I looked before. When I got there I couldn't believe what I saw! There was some deer tracks set deep in the mud and corn on the ground with some blood. I figured I had made a paunch shot and that he would be lying down not far away. It was hard tracking without much snow, but I managed to find the deer. He was stone dead when I found him. He must have laid there for at least an hour. It was really a great feeling when I found my buck.
One horn was broken off and there were four points on the other side. By the time I got my deer out of the woods, I discovered that my Dad had gotten a nice ten-point buck. He had a spot picked out and stayed there awhile. Then he moved to another stand and hardly had time to get settled when a doe and his buck came through not forty yards away! Dad said he could hardly believe it. He hadn't got a buck in twenty years and finally one came through. It only took one shot and the buck fell like a sack of rocks. His deer and my brother's were hanging in the tree when I got to the house.
After hanging my deer beside the rest, I went back into the woods to find my older brother Rich. I called out and immediately heard my brother answer me. When I got down to where he was I found he had gotten a nice eleven point. He said he had been moving around most of the day and was just standing beside a tree when he heard two shots being fired close by. Then a deer appeared and Rich said it seemed like all he could see was horns! It's hard to concentrate on a good shot when you see a rack like that. The deer moved behind a tree and he raised the rifle for a shot. The buck took a couple of steps out and my brother fired. It fell down but got up and disappeared over a knoll about thirty yards away.
Richard ran over to where it had gone and saw the deer was down. I helped him drag it part of the way out when we yelled out for Dad. We heard him answer and in a short while he made it up to where we were. I think my father was the happiest man in the world when we told him that everyone had scored. What A Day! It was the first time we had all gotten bucks on the opener and I must admit that it was the greatest experience I have had in my hunting career!
(Anyway, my husband remembers that day with great fondness and I can't say as I blame him one bit!)