I was thrilled that my oldest son was going to be able to join me for the first three days of deer camp this year. We arrived at camp on Sunday, Nov. 26 around noon. After lighting the furnace, we got out the leaf blower and rakes and took care of all the leaves around camp. Afterwards, I did some temporary repair work on a small leak that was discovered inside. The local DCNR officers (also friends of the family) paid us a visit around 3 pm. We talked for a while and their report was that the deer herd was up this year. Monday morning found us going to our usual opening day spot. We saw quite a few deer on Monday, but none we could shoot. I was very encouraged, however, because it was more deer than we'd seen in the previous several years. In addition, I had a rare treat to have an all-black coyote run past my stand. Tuesday, morning found us back in the same location. Again, we saw several deer. My son had a nice 4-point walk by, but had to let him pass. The antler restrictions over the past years have really paid off. It's tough to let a buck pass, but there are now some trophy class buck running around. On Wednesday, the temperature was warmer, but there was a very gusty Northwest wind, so we decided to hunt the south side of the mountain. I did a small drive for my son first thing in the morning and ran into a flock of over 30 turkeys. I think it was the ones who were calling all around us on Tuesday. The biggest treat of the day for me was having a black bear walk right up to me around 12:00 noon. He came to within about 15 feet and never saw me. It was quite a thrill to be that close to a bear. We didn't see any deer today, but we really had a great three days of hunting. We headed home around 5:15 as we had closed camp and packed up in the morning before going hunting. We probably won't make it up for the 2nd week this year. I was fortunate to harvest two deer in Maryland in the October Muzzleloader season (an antlerless deer and a nice 8-point) so we already have venison in the freezer. There was more food (esp. acorns and beechnuts) in the woods this year than I've seen in a long time. The number of squirrels in the forest this year was staggering. We may try to come up for a day or two during the late flintlock season, but I'm not sure. Again, I am thankful for good health and the opportunity to spend my 43rd consecutive First Day of Buck Season at Peter's Camp.
Still excited from shooting the bear last weekend, my son and I traveled up to camp on Wednesday, Dec. 7 to hunt the last few days of the season. As we were climbing up the mountain we went from dry leaves, to ice, to snow. There was about 2" of snow on top of the mountain, so we were very excited about the next few days. Temperatures were very cold, so we figured it would stick. My scouting in bear season revealed a huge acorn crop this fall. In fact, they were everywhere. This led me to believe the deer would head to the thick stuff the 2nd week where there was also abundant food. I knew where we wanted to hunt. We started out on Thursday morning around 7:30. My goal this week was to push something out to my son. We hadn't been able to hunt together since he left for college 7-8 years ago. I put on two drives for him and I didn't move anything, but I did see an abundance of tracks. We decided to go up on top a ridge we've often hunted during the second week where the laurel is thick. The higher we climbed, the more tracks we saw. Finally, we arrived to a spot I wanted to try. I put my son up in a tree stand, and did a large circle drive back to him. The most exciting sound I heard the entire year was when I heard his rifle crack as I was just about finishing the drive. It worked perfectly, and 20 minutes later, we were both standing over a beautiful 8-point buck that came right past his tree. I was never more proud! After lots of hand-shaking, hugging, and picture taking, we started the long drag back to camp. The snow made that job much easier. After getting back to camp and shedding some clothing, we drove up on top the mountain where we can get a cell phone signal so that he could tell the rest of the family the exciting news! That night, we enjoyed a nice dinner and relaxing evening at camp. The next morning we got to sleep in and after closing up everything for the winter, we headed home. Another successful season for the guys from Peter's Camp!
Saturday, Dec. 3 found me hunting closer to home in Perry County. The first Saturday of the season is a unique day in WMU 4B as a properly licensed hunter can hunt buck, doe, and bear on the same day. At around 8:30, I saw some movement below me. Much to my surprise, it was a nice sized black bear slipping out of the clear cut. I raised the gun and he presented a standing shot at about 150 yards. I fired my .270 and he took off running. I fired a 2nd round as he disappeared back into the clear cut. I heard a few more shots after that and assumed that someone else had gotten him. After waiting a few minutes, I started down the mountain to check on my first two shots. I was almost at the spot where he had been standing when much to my surprise, here he came again running out of the clear cut up the mountain towards me. He stopped at about 40 yards and I fired a 3rd shot. This time, he dropped. And just like that, I was standing over my first-ever PA black bear. It all happened so fast I couldn't believe it. My brother and niece arrived a few hours later and spent half of their day helping me to get him the 1.5 miles back to my truck. What a memory! At the check station the boar weighed in at 276 pounds (estimated 326 pounds live weight).
I hunted in Maryland for the traditional opening day on Saturday, November 26. I was fortunate to harvest a nice big doe around 9:00 am, so my day was short. It was nice to have some meat in the freezer. I drove to camp on Sunday, Nov. 27 and arrived around 12:00 noon. After starting the heat, I took a walk up the road. After returning to camp, I enjoyed a nice dinner and relaxing evening at camp. I'm by myself again this season for opening day. Monday came quickly and it was a very nice day to hunt. I climbed up the mountain in my usual spot and climbed up the tree to hunt for the day. I saw three deer around 10:15 that appeared to be two young ones and a doe, and that turned out to be the only deer I saw the entire day. There was very little shooting today (far less than the opening day of bear season). The weather report is calling for heavy rain the next two days, so my plan is to go home tonight and return with my son to hunt the last few days. I'm thankful that this was my 42nd consecutive opening day at camp.
I arrived at camp around 9:00 pm on November 17 for the opening of Bear Season. Saturday morning came quickly and I decided to hunt the ridge behind our camp. It was a chilly morning, but it soon warmed up to near 55-degrees. It was a beautiful day to hunt - sunny and calm...that is until around 12:15 pm. I've never seen the weather change so quickly. The wind which was coming from the SE started coming from the NW. The temperature dropped like a lead weight. A large drive began around 1:00 on the ridge across from me. Towards the end of the drive, I heard several shots. All I saw were two deer. By 3:30, the temperature had dropped to around 30 degrees and it was snowing, so I started down off the mountain. By the time I got to the road, we had about an inch of snow on the ground. I saw a large number of hunters standing at the road so I went over to see three bears that had been shot off the drive. They were all small ones. I was told another small one was shot by a hunter from one of the camps down the road. So they had shot 4 bear off that drive. The next morning, after cleaning up all the leaves at camp(which was quite a job considering they were covered with an inch of snow) I left for home anxiously awaiting the opening of deer season the following week.
Deer Season 2015 found me traveling to camp alone this year. No one else in the family was able to make it this year. I arrived on Sunday, November 29 around 12:00 noon, opened camp, and got the stove lit to warm up the inside. The weather report for opening day looked great. Monday morning came with temperatures around 18-degrees and the forecast for a beautiful day. I left camp early, and climbed up to my usual spot. I find out each year how much older I'm getting as my climbing tree stand and backpack seemed heavier than ever. I was set up and ready by 6:45. The morning began with the old fashioned deer drives beginning right on schedule at 7:30. There were two shots across the valley from me. I found out later that one hunter harvested a beautiful 10-pointer and another missed an 8-pointer. At 10:10 am, something brought two deer running towards me. Immediately, I could see that both deer were legal buck. I chose the first as it appeared to be the largest of the two and fired. Before long, I was standing over a nice 8-pointer. Just like that, my Tioga season was over. I got him back to the truck by 12:00 noon, then headed back to close up camp. Even though I had planned on hunting for three days, I was on my way home by 2:30. Thus ended another successful Tioga County Deer Season. I'm thankful for the success of this season (including the nice 7-pointer I harvested in Maryland Muzzleloader Season back in October), and the fact that I saved a few vacation days by getting a deer on the first day. I was especially thankful since the weather turned ugly and the next two days brought pouring rains. So another buck is added to the roster at Peter's Camp and another chapter is written into the legacy. It was my 41st consecutive opening day at Camp. I hope I have many more.
This fall has been very busy, so there hasn't been as much time to travel up to the cabin. On Sunday, November 8, the kids and I came up for the day to clean up all the leaves. It was a beautiful day and we got the job done. I won't make it up for Bear Season this year. It's the first time I'll miss in many years. As always, I'm looking forward to Deer Season, although I'll be the only one coming up this year.