With rifle oiled and put away for the most part, and flintlocks with all their needed accouterments at the ready for the day after Christmas when the extended deer season begins, hunters are still marveling at the mild weather we've enjoyed so far.
Reports from my friends and sources all over the state have been about the same. Many are telling me that they saw more deer in general this season than they have for quite a few seasons past. Some nice bucks have been taken as well. My friend, Charlie Dix, from the Pocono Mountain region filled me in on the fact that on his farm, where they usually see scads of deer and where Dr. Gary Alt hunts, they saw fewer deer than usual until they heard a rumor that they investigated.
Seems hunters were routing deer after deer and harvesting quite a few nice bucks from the middle of unharvested cornfields. So they adjusted their hunting methods and found it to be true.
It makes sense.
With the mast crop scarce this year, any uncut corn would be the natural attractant. Once the shooting started on opening day, the deer took refuge right in the middle of the corn because seldom do hunters make drives through cornfields. Sounds like exactly the thing to do come flintlock season. however, and the ridges that border such fields.
My hunting buddy, Buck Alt, Gary's father who is in his 90's now, was delighted that he was able to go out deer hunting during the early senior citizen season and harvested a fat doe. Charlie oversaw the operation, making sure Buck was OK but Buck, being the crusty, independent hunter he is, didn't need much help. If snow ever comes, Buck will be enjoying his venison while he watches his endless supply of turkey hunting videos and tunes up his turkey calls for spring.
Deer season was unusual for me and I will know more today about it next week. Things happen quickly in the woods as I found out again this season. I harvested probably the biggest doe I've ever seen on my DMAP permit in Armstrong County. I saw two bucks and strangely each of them came within feet of me but both were too small to be harvested in that WMU. Had I seen them in Blair County, I could have easily taken either one.
But on Friday morning, as I prepared for a one-man drive that was pushing toward me, I decided that my senior-citizen legs would be happier if I sat on a tall tree stump that was right there. I did not notice that the first few inches of the stump were rotten so when I sat down it collapsed and threw me to the ground on my left side. It was several feet to the ground and I hit with a thump.
I was stunned and just lay there a moment, trying to catch my breath and see if I was hurt. My feet wee higher than my head, however, and I was wedged between that infernal stump and a small tree and once I decided I could get off the ground safely, I couldn't seem to get any purchase to get myself up. I lay there like a turtle with its legs in the air, feeling stupid.
By rolling on over onto my stomach, I was able to get myself up and then realized I had hurt myself. Turns out I bruised some ribs and pulled the muscles on my left side so I lived on Tylenol and aspirin for the next couple days and moved mighty gingerly. But it could have been much worse and I am so thankful that it was not.
What I didn't expect was that so many folks expected that I would just give up hunting. What? I could have suffered the same happenstance by falling down my basement steps.
Every senior citizen who has that irrepressible instinct to hunt does not "give up hunting" at some specified time. We adapt our methods a bit, move slower and don't rove over miles of wilderness as we did when we were twenty but give up? Not hardly.
My son showed me a photo of an item he found on the internet. He said I could expect it to be under my Christmas tree next year.
It's a walker with oversized wheels that will make it easier to negotiate the woodlands, he said.
He promised to build a scabbard for my firearm onto the side of it. Problem is, he is in worse physical shape than I am so I'm sure we would just end up fighting over which of us would get to use it.