Well, another deer season is behind us. We had the first "white" deer season in a long time. There was snow on the ground for the entire season. We had to strap the tire chains on our 4x4's to get in and out of camp for the first and second weeks of deer season. Although we didn't get any deer at camp this year,as always, we had a great time hunting together as a family. We saw some deer, but the hunting is tough these days up North. There are very few other hunters in the woods to move the deer around. You can't sit in your tree stand all day and see deer like you used to. Also, the herd is down in numbers. One of the highlights of the season for me came on the last day. I was driving through some thick laurel trying to move some deer to my son, when I knocked 3 bears from their den. They weren't too happy about being awakened, but it was exciting to be within 15 yards of them. My son was still talking about the experience on the way home. We may not get back to camp now for a while. The snowmobiles will soon have the road packed down to solid ice. It's great to be able to read Paula's blog. It's kind of like being able to be up there. I'll still be doing some hunting in Maryland this winter, and perhaps take the flintlock out for a walk once or twice. I'm looking forward to a long-awaited Christmas vacation with the family.
This past Saturday, I was successful in harvesting a buck in Maryland. It is the second Maryland deer that I've brought home this hunting season. This weekend, we're heading back up to Tioga County for the last few days of deer season. My son is home from college. It will be great to be able to spend a few days in the woods with him. Since I've already gotten two deer, my role this weekend will be to dress lightly and keep moving through the thick stuff in an attempt to push some deer to one of the other guys in camp. The weather this week has been weird. The temperature is supposed to be near 50 with rain tomorrow and then fall back to the single digits by the weekend. It's hard to say what the roads will be like going back into camp. However, as always, we'll be prepared for just about anything.
Well, we needed to strap on the tire chains to get back into camp for the first day of buck season. We had about 5 inches of snow on top of the mountain. Dad and I arrived at camp around noon on Sunday to get the heat going. It was about 20 degrees outside and inside. The camp really didn't begin to warm up until we fired up the oven and started the meatloaf around 5:00 pm. The rest of the gang arrived safely just in time to enjoy the venison meatloaf. We hunted hard for three days and then inched our way back down off the mountain. We didn't see many deer, or other hunters for that matter, but as always, we had a great time just being out in the mountains. I think the icy roads really deterred some hunters from coming up. I'll be heading down to Maryland to hunt this Saturday, and then we're heading back up to camp for the last few days of the season next week.
Yesterday, a friend and I decided that we wanted to go up to camp for one last day of turkey hunting. We left home at 4:00 am and traveled all the way to camp. Arriving around 7:30 am, we were excited by the fresh coating of snow on the ground, but not the temperature (9-degrees.) I can't remember the last time I hunted in 9 degree weather...esp. in November. We saw a lot of game today. Many turkeys...although the turkeys ended up being the hunters as we did not bring any home for thanksgiving...and several deer including a few nice bucks and a piebald deer. It was a beautiful animal...not quite albino...but very close as it just had a few patches of brown. Once again, I did not have my camera with me when I needed it. A lot of the camps were open today with hunters eagerly anticipating the opening of bear season on Monday. Not being a bear hunter, I'm eagerly awaiting the opening of deer season the following week. It's hard to believe that another PA deer season is just a week away. I'm sure I'll have a lot of information to post following deer camp 2008.
I traveled up to camp this past weekend. It was a beautiful fall weekend. We hunted all day for turkeys. Although we didn't find any turkeys, we did see a lot of signs pointing to where they had been...feathers, scratching, etc. I probably covered at least 5-7 miles on foot. I found out just how out-of-shape I am. The wild cherry trees seem to be having a banner year. The birds, deer, bear, all seem to be feeding on the wild cherries. Although I didn't find any turkeys, I did manage to bring home a grouse. I look forward to adding it to the thanksgiving dinner this year. Except for a flat tire (they always seem to happen way back in the mountains...so much for my AAA membership) we had a great day of hunting. There seems to be a lot of deer sign in our area....buck rubs, scrapes, etc. The deer are probably moving a lot right now. I was particularly surprised at the lack of hunters I saw out and about. It seems as if fewer folks are heading to the big woods every year. It's nice to have such a beautiful spot all to ourselves. However, it makes the hunting that much harder. Oh well, I guess that's why they call it hunting. I hope to get up again this weekend to do some more scouting before deer season. As I always say, "any day spent in the woods of Tioga County is far better than a day at work."
The weather is turning colder now. The past two mornings have had temperatures in the upper 30's. I finally broke down and turned on the furnace. I haven't lit the coal fire yet. I'll wait a few more weeks until the up/down temperatures change to down. As the leaves begin to turn and the temperatues drop, I find it harder to focus on my office duties. My mind is constantly traveling up to Tioga County. I'm wondering "where are the bucks hanging out?" Where are the turkeys feeding?" The colder the weather gets, the harder it is to concentrate on work. Fortunately, I have a few Saturdays off in November and I'll get the chance to travel up to camp and do some turkey hunting. While I enjoy turkey hunting a great deal, turkey hunting for me is really "deer scouting." Actually, the turkeys are always found where the food is. Therefore, if you find the food, you'll not only find turkeys, but usually also deer. These days, there seem to be fewer and fewer hunters traveling up to north to hunt. This makes the hunting much more challenging. However, there is something magical about the solitude and challenge of hunting when you know you are probably the only guy in a few square miles of forest. I look forward to the days in November, and will post my stories (every trip is a story) when I get back. I enjoy reading Paula's blog. It's my window to the north from home. I try not to be too jealous of her being able to live up there year round.
This year, I've done something I've never done before. I bought a hunting license for another state besides PA. I have a friend who lives in Maryland and owns some private land. There are a lot of deer on her property, so I plan on doing a good amount of hunting down there this year. I still prefer hunting in the North woods of Tioga County. However, the deer seem to be few and far between up here these days. Hunting in Maryland is a lot different. The general hunting license allows you to kill 10 doe and 2 buck. There's just seems to be something not right about listening to the traffic on I-70 while you are hunting in your tree stand. There's nothing like the Mountains of Tioga County. I'm anxiously awaiting the 2008 deer hunting season. However, the Maryland license gives me a chance to do some more hunting. The drive is much shorter, and with gas prices the way they are now-a-days, I won't be able to make as many trips to camp this year.
On Saturday, August 23, the family and I travelled to Leetonia to meet Mountain Girl, Paula. What a beautiful place she has. In a way I 'm am so jealous that she gets to live up in that beautiful spot all year. I'd love to be able to live there. However, the 3 1/2 hour commute one way to work every day would problaby take it's toll rather quickly. We talked for a while, then Paula showed our daughter her Tee Pee. After our visit, Paula invited us to drive up to her million dollar view at the top of the ridge. We took the truck up to the top and parked. She didn't underestimate the view at all. What a gorgeous spot. We went on a hike back into the Pines on her property. We weren't 100 yards into the pines when my wife spotted a very large buck sneaking up over the hill. I'm not sure how many points he had, but his antlers were much wider than his body. In the woods, we found the perfect picnic spot. There were several pine stumps set up in a circle. Nearby, someone had made carvings of a bear and an eagle (surprised?). We sat down and enjoyed our picnic lunch. On the way back down the trail, we saw two very large turkeys. Although I wanted to stay all day, we eventually had to head back home.
We're all thankful that Paula appears to be healing well from her accident. She has the most original body cast you'll ever see. (visit her blog at http://leetonia-eaglebear.blogspot.com/). When you pass the spot where her car went down over the bank, it is amazing to realize that she climbed back to the road using her one good arm. We enjoyed getting to meet our new friend in person, and look forward to seeing her again in the future.
Well, we were able to get up to camp a few times over the summer. This summer's weather was ablsolutely gorgeous. Very few days saw the temperature get above 90. We just spent a weekend in Cedar Run and the daytime temperatures were in the 70's each day. Everything at camp is ok. Over 30 cabins have been broken into this summer. However, the only problem that we have had this summer is porcupines. Yes, the porcupines are chewing everything they can get their teeth on. We've had to replace entire sections of decking, and railing. This past week we realized that we never had this problem when we were allowed to keep a salt lick at the camp. We now think they are chewing the wood to get the sodium that is in the treated lumber.
I'm looking forward to getting up to camp at least once in the fall to hunt turkeys. There are a lot of them around this summer. We have seen very few deer, but the deer we have seen have been nice sized and appear to be very healthy. We've seen several groups of fawns. Bears seem to be everywhere and many times these days seem to outnumber the deer.
You can hardly tell where the Bull Run fire went through except for the burned out laurel in some places. It's amazing how the ferns have come up and the trees have opened as if the fire was never there. It will be interesting to see if the burned out areas will change the movement of the deer this fall.
I'm sitting here today realizing that this may be the first year in recent memory that I won't get back to the cabin for Spring Gobbler Season. A hectic work schedule, high gas prices, and two very energetic toddlers at home means that I won't get to take my gun for a walk this year in search of gobblers. While I thoroughly enjoy turkey hunting, spring gobbler season has always been a great time to walk in the woods - calling in a turkey is just icing on the cake. I was fortunate to just happen to be camping in the mountains the day the forest fire broke out. We were all relieved to know that the cabin survived. However, I'm anxious to return as soon as possible to discover how far into our hunting territory the fire actually burned. I've enjoyed reading Paula's blog. It has allowed me to experience Spring in the Leetonia valley, even though I haven't been able to get back up there. In many ways, I envy those who are able to live up there year-round. Who knows? Perhaps some day, I'll be able to do the same.
A very large forest fire began burning near Route 414 on Saturday morning, April 19. Driven by stiff winds, it burned quickly up Bull Run Hollow in Northern Lycoming County and spread into a 5,000 acre inferno covering a very large area. The fire jumped Mine Hole Road on Saturday night and burned all the way to the Spinning Wheel Hollow. This was a real scare for all of us at Peter's Camp. Our camp sits near the Spinning Wheel Hollow and the fire literally ended in our backyard. We can thank the Lord Almighty for sending a two hour rain shower at 4:00 pm on Sunday. This all but stopped the fire from spreading and gave the fireman a chance to surround it. A great deal of forest land was burned West from Pine Creek, North of the Fahneystock Road, South of the West Rim Road, and East of the Spinning Wheel Hollow. This will obviously have an effect on the hunting for this coming season. I need to take a moment to thank all the firefighters who worked very hard to keep this fire from burning any cabins. Their valiant efforts will never be forgotten by those of us who love to spend time at our cabins in the Northwoods.