Interstate 99, called Bud Shuster Highway, became "Buck Shooter" Highway on Monday as the artery's periphery was riddled with parked empty pickup trucks - but not empty for long.
You could find more of the same at the outskirts of towns through central Pennsylvania as people faithfully observed the holiday between Thanksgiving and Christmas - the first day of rifle season for deer.
Josh McCaulley, 24, of Tyrone
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Jim Stoltz (left)?of DuBois shows off his 7-point buck to friend Dino Bruno of Irwin, Westmoreland County, Monday morning. Stoltz downed the buck in a field adjacent to his father’s land in Clearfield Township, Cambria County, on the first day of deer season.
hasn't missed the first day of deer season in 13 years. It's a tradition instilled in him by his grandfather and a long line of whitetail hunters in his family, he said.
About 750,000 hunters are expected to participate in deer season this year.
McCaulley set out by 6 a.m., and by 11 a.m. the only meat he got was in a sandwich from Burger King, but making a kill is "just a bonus," he said.
"I prefer the woods. I tell my girlfriend, 'I'm taking my gun for a walk.' You don't have to think about anything - except how cold you are," he said. "And waiting for that first shot of the season to ring out. You can hear it from miles away because of the way the hills roll. I tell my friends some day I'll get the first shot. The sound warms your blood a little bit. Once you hear that first one, they just keep coming."
One shot sprung more than a dozen deer into range of Robert Duval in the Beaver Dams area of Frankstown Township. He saw 30 deer total on Monday.
He hunted with his uncle, cousin, father-in-law - "a whole slew of us," said Duval of Hollidaysburg. Although his two boys are too young to join the hunt, he said they light up with the thrill of their father's kill.
"The boys are always tickled every time I get a deer," he said.
Duval was laid off recently at Gamesa's Ebensburg plant.
"This means I'm able to put meat in the freezer," he said of bagging a six-point buck.
He hauled his kill to McCready's Deer Processing in Hollidaysburg, where it will be turned into bologna, jerky and chipped steaks for his family.
"With the economy as bad as it is, a lot of people depend on a deer for the year," business owner and operator Jason McCready said between cleaning carcasses.
For hunters wishing to share their kill, McCready and several area processing centers are participating in a state-supported program to convert donated venison into family-sized ground servings for churches and charity services.
Monday's 30-degree weather was cold enough to enable hunters to stay out longer without concern that their meat would spoil if it wasn't rushed to be processed.
Temperatures could reach 50 degrees by Sunday, according to Accuweather. But as hunters trek through the forest today, they'll be bracing for temperatures in the 20s and about an inch or two of snow.
"It's gonna be good," Duval said. "Tracking snow."
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.