Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Deer Season 2015

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.

Cleaning up the Leaves

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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Deer Season 2014

I arrived at camp around 6:00 on Sunday, Nov. 30. After opening camp and starting the furnace, I waited for my brother and niece to arrive. They arrived safely a few hours later. Monday morning came early and we awoke to a misty rain. I drove to my usual spot, and started up the mountain carrying my tree stand on my back, and my backpack and rifle in my arms. By 6:45, I was set up and ready for my 40th straight "first day of buck season." There was a bit of shooting early, but very little the rest of the day. The weather was cloudy, but the rain held off most of the day. Late in the day one of the camps shot 6 times just prior to their last drive of the day. I assumed they got something. I hunted till almost dark, then started back to my truck not seeing a single deer. Monday evening, my brother and niece headed home and I prepared my dinner and then went to bed early. On Tuesday morning, I awoke to much colder temperatures around 18-degrees. I started back to my usual spot and was in place in my stand by about 6:45. It was a very cold/calm morning. Around 11:00 am, it got cloudy and very windy. Then it came like a freight train - snow and sleet started coming down like rain. It only took about 10 minutes for the ground to be covered. I realized I needed to get down off the mountain and off the state forest roads while I could. I got to the truck about 1/2 hour later and started back to camp. I saw a nice buck hanging at the camp closest to ours (confirming that they did shoot one Monday afternoon). It took about 1-2 hours to close up camp for the winter. The snow/sleet was still coming down. I got down to the hard roads by about 4:00 and started the 3 1/2 hour drive home. Deer season was cut short due to the weather. Rather than hunting on Wednesday, I was back at work. No deer sighted this season. There were very few hunters around this year, and I'm convinced the poor weather saved a lot of deer this season.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bear Season 2014

I arrived at camp on Friday, Nov. 21 around 8:30. It took me a while to get the stove working tonight. Temperature outside was 12-degrees, but it felt even colder. The sky was crystal clear and starlit. Morning came early, and I started up the mountain to where I had seen fresh bear sign two weeks before. Temperature when I left the camp was 3 degrees. I had a nice-racked three point walk up to me first thing in the morning. Later, I found some fresh bear tracks and followed them for a while. I lost the tracks when I hit the south side of the mountain and the snow was gone. A lot of shooting in the area today and I saw two bears being loaded onto trucks. I went back to camp around noon and used my leaf blower to clean up all the leaves that had fallen. The temperature had warmed up to around 25 degrees. A lost hunter showed up around 12:30. He had gotten separated from his group on a drive and heard my leaf blower. He followed the sound to me, and I helped direct him back to his camp. It's easy to get lost in these woods if you don't know your way around. I went back out hunting around 1:30. Some hunters told me they wounded a bear but hadn't found it, so I focused my hunting in that area in case I could find him. Around 3:00 it stared raining and I noticed it freezing on contact. I decided to head back down to camp to get down out of the mountains before the roads got too bad. My truck was coated with ice when I arrived back at camp. The roads were a bit slick, but I made it down to Cedar Run. The drive home was ok until I got to Jersey Mills. When I hit the bridge, I lost control of my F-150 but managed to keep it on the road. From then on, I drove about 20 mph with my flashers on. Just south of Waterville, the traffic was stopped. I sat there for 2 1/2 hours. I've never seen the roads this bad. When I got out of my truck to stretch my legs, I slipped right down on my can. The roads were so icy, I couldn't even stand up. The traffic finally started moving, but very slowly. When I got to Jersey Shore, things were no better. Cars littered the highway on both sides and in the median. It was creep and crawl the whole way to Williamsport. It took me about 4 hours to go 35 miles. I stopped for dinner on the other side of the mountain near Allenwood. The temperature was rising now. From then on, the roads were fine. However, in all of my trips up North, these were the worst roads I've ever encountered. This time of year, you need to be prepared for anything. Always have flashlights, flares, chains, etc in your vehicle. Now, I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family, the opening of Deer Season in Maryland on Saturday, and the first few days of Deer Season back up here in the Northwoods. I'll have a tough time topping last year's first week of deer season. I already tagged one in Maryland in the early muzzleloader season back in October. I love this time of year!

Turkey Season

I made the traditional trip to camp for Turkey Season on Friday night, November 7. Arrived at camp around 8:30 and lit the stove. The next day, I covered over 6-7 miles. I'm definitely not in the shape I used to be. My legs were very sore by the end of the day. There is an abundant acorn crop this year. We haven't had acorns like this in our area for many years. This is good for the wildlife, but it's going to make hunting tougher this year. I didn't see any turkeys today, but did see signs that they were around...as well as deer and bear sign. I'll be coming back up in two weeks for the opening of Bear Season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deer Season 2013

This was the best deer season I've ever had. The season began in MD for the opening day of gun season last Saturday, November 30. It was a very cold morning. Temperature was around 16 degrees. I made good time in the morning and arrived at the property about 6:15. I was in my stand and set up by 6:45 and it was just starting to get light. As the sun began creeping up over the Contoctin Mountain range, I just had a feeling it was going to be a morning. At 8:00 am, I caught some movement above me. It was a spike buck sneaking through the thicket. For some reason, he didn't feel something was right and he ran back the direction he came from. Thinking that might be my last chance of the day, I settled back into my comfy tree stand seat. About 15 minutes later I heard a lot of noise behind me. As I turned around, I saw a large group of deer moving into the thicket. Immediately I saw two nice-racked deer...then another. At first I thought I was seeing things. Then two large doe move in. Because I had seen the bucks, I passed on shooting one of the does. I'm glad I did. The deer kept moving in and out of the openings in the thicket. Finally, a nice buck moved into my view and I squeezed the trigger of my .50 caliber in-line. I saw him drop as the other deer all scattered. A nice wide 6 point ran down below me and just stood there. I looked at my watch...it was 8:20 am. I hadn't even had a chance to get cold, and I had my buck....a nice 7-pointer. I was in my truck and on the way to the butcher shop by 10:30 am. On Sunday, I left early in the morning to head up to Tioga County. I was the lucky one who got to go up to camp early to warm up the place. I stopped at Denny's on the way up for my traditional breakfast stop. We had about 3 inches of snow on the ground and the roads were solid ice. I had to put the chains on my F-150 in order to go any farther. It reminded me of deer seasons past. I arrived at camp around 12:30 pm and got the stove lit. It took me a while as it was so cold in the camp, the kerosene had actually frozen inside the line from the tank to the stove. We've never had that happen before. I had to use one of our kerosene lamps to thaw out the line. I had a nice dinner and waited for my Dad, Brother, and Niece to arrive. They arrived just before 9:00 pm and we decided where we would hunt on Monday. Monday morning came early, It was a beautiful morning and we were excited to have the snow to hunt in. We hunted hard all day and we were impressed with the amount of deer sign we saw. However, we didn't see a single deer between the four of us. Monday night, the other three left for home leaving me at camp by myself. I had planned to hunt one more day before coming home. It was a quiet night in the mountains,but I went to bed early. Tuesday morning I awoke to warmer temperatures and fog. It was around 32 degrees. We had a bit of drizzle over night, so the snow was now slippery and slushy. After breakfast, I decided to close up the camp for the winter so that I could hunt my way out of the woods. I packed up the truck and headed to one of my favorite spots to hunt. Just in case I got lucky, I hunted in an area that would provide a downhill drag. I hiked up the hollow and used my summit climber to go up a tree about 15 feet or so. Around 7:45 I had a lone hen turkey pass by just below me. The fog was rolling in and out as it often does when there is snow on the ground with warmer temperatures. Not long after 8 am, I heard something behind me. As I turned around, I saw a deer sneaking up through the thick stuff. Immediately I noticed antlers and could clearly see three points up on the right side. As I took the safety off my .270, the deer stopped. As he started walking again, I squeezed the trigger. As the deer ran off, I looked down at my watch....I almost laughed out loud....it was 8:20 am....the exact time I shot the 7-point in MD just three days earlier. It took me a while to get down out of the tree, and a few minutes later I was standing over a beautiful nice-bodied 8-pointer. I almost couldn't believe it. The only deer I saw in two days, but the only one I needed to see. The drag back to the truck was a little tricky since I had my climber, backpack, rifle, and the deer. However, the snow made it much easier, and by 9:30 I was back at my truck. I was on my way home by 10:30. What a season!! We will be feasting on a lot of venison this year! We probably won't make it up to camp now until Spring.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bear Season 2013

My 7 year old son accompanied me to camp this weekend for the first day of Bear Season. It was his first hunt. We got a little bit of a late start and hit major traffic on the way, so we didn't arrive at camp until about 9:30 on Friday night. After getting the heat going, we snuggled into the sleeping bag. Saturday morning we awoke and had breakfast. Temperature was around 22 degrees. I was surprised how many hunters were out early. We hunted an area along a clear cut first. Saw a few buck scrapes and rubs, but no bear sign. We were hoping one of the camps would drive the clear cut. By 9:30-10:00, we realized that wasn't going to happen. We headed east to the area where I was hunting turkeys two weeks ago. We ran into several hunters from other camps. We did find a lot of deer sign, bear sign, and turkey sign. However, we didn't see anything. At around 3:00, the Northwest winds began howling and the snow moved in. Suddenly we were cast into a winter wonderland as the snow began blowing. We decided to get down off the top of the ridge and walk back towards the truck. By the time we got back to camp, the ground was covered. The temperature was dropping fast, but it felt great in the camp. After a nice dinner, we drove up to the top of the mountain so we could get a cell signal. I've been an avid Nebraska fan since I was 9 years old. There aren't many of us in PA. Today was a big day since the Huskers were playing PSU. In fact, I passed up a $30.00 ticket to go to the game. My son and I painstakingly watched updates on my phone as the game went into overtime. When Nebraska scored the winning field goal, I'm sure any deer or bear in the area probably heard us yell. After calling home to let the family know we were ok, we drove back down to camp. After a small snack, we snuggled into bed. We could hear the wind howling outside. The sky was crystal clear and the display of stars was beautiful. We awoke around 7:30 this morning. We could tell that the temperature inside the cabin had dropped considerably. Outside it was 9-degrees. There was enough snow on the ground to make for a winter scene. We probably would have heard a lot more shooting yesterday, if the ground had been snow covered. After eating breakfast, we cleaned up camp and got everything ready for the opening of deer season next weekend. My son did awesome on his first-ever hunt. It was a true test for him and he weathered the weather quite well. I'm still concerned about the deer herd up North. I haven't seen a live deer in the woods while hunting since the opening day of bear season 2011....two years ago.