I am a hunter. I enjoy hunting.
I have hunted since I was 12 years old. It was part of growing
up in my family to help put food on the table for all of us to
enjoy. My parents raised nine children in a three bedroom house
in DuBois, Penna. Our home was located on the last street on
the north east side of town. Simply walking across the street
and up the alley behind the houses led to wilderness. I mean
real wilderness. There was one horse farm down the hill to the
southeast, but to the northeast, you could walk for forty miles
without crossing anything more than a logging road. The timber
was thick and the mountains were covered with laurel and wild
grape. This was John E. DuBois woods as we called it. He
was the owner. His grandfather had founded DuBois. They owned
thousands of acres of forest and timber land in the area. John
and I played a game for many years. It was like hide and seek.
I would roam his woods and he would chase me, but that is another
By the time I was five I was in these woods with my older brother, Jim. Jim was ten years older than me and very woods wise. He hunted, fished, and trapped. We hiked the woods nearly every day. By the time I was ten, I knew my way around about ten square miles of this area. When I turned twelve I began to trap muskrat and mink. I ran a trap line which extended about three miles into the forest. At fourteen I started trapping fox and raccoon. I was not an expert trapper, but I did ok.
My very worst trapping experience occurred one Sunday morning before church. I went to check my traps and found that I had caught a skunk in one of my fox sets. This was not the first skunk I had ever caught and it wouldnt be the last, but it was Sunday. I was not allowed to carry a gun on Sunday. Dispatching the skunk without a firearm turned out to be my undoing. At first I tried to club it with a tree limb. I may have hit it once, but it hit me full blast several times. Next I tried to get it over to a nearby stream where I could drown it. However it had other ideas, and refused to stay in the water. I finally had to resort to the only other means I could think of and that was to wring its neck. I pinned it down with a tree branch and then grabbed it by the neck and ended the battle. I had been sprayed several times and by now my nose had become numb to the odor. I rinsed the skunk off (they were worth about 70 cents) and headed for home. The neighbors smelled me coming and warned my mother. She was waiting at the corner with some clothes tied to a stick, a hatchet, and a sack of food. I was told not to return until I smelled better, and to smoke the clothes in hemlock smoke. I went back to the woods and missed two days of school. Not too bad, I thought.
I built a lean-to and stayed there, bathing in the cold mountain stream and sleeping close to the fire as it was late October and very cold at night. I smoked my clothes several times and also myself once or twice. I still had a bit of an odor for about a week, but I was a hero to all my hunting and trapping pals. The best part of the whole thing was that from then on, I was allowed to carry my .22 Cal. rifle on Sundays.
As far as hunting was concerned my favorites at the age of twelve were squirrels and groundhogs. We ate the squirrels but not the groundhogs. I could hunt groundhogs all summer long with my .22 Cal. rifle and it wouldnt cost more that a couple dollars for shells. The local farmers called my home and even came to get me sometimes to come out and shoot their unwanted hogs.
We hunted rabbits also, but I didnt own a shotgun until I bought one when I was 15. I had a bird dog at about sixteen, it wasnt real good. It would point the occasional pheasant but mostly it wanted to chase rabbits. I raised rabbits back then also and it lived near them at home and I guess it had a fond affection for them. I was never able to break the bad habit so I traded it for a beagle. At least the beagle would bark when it was on a rabbit and you had a chance for a shot. The bird dog never barked so you could not tell where it or the rabbit was.
I hunted whitetail deer also from the age of twelve. I hunted with by brother-in-laws converted Japanese army rifle. It was longer than I was tall. My brother-in-law Bob liked to hunt an area in the mountains called Kelly's Cellar. I cant say how it got its name or even the exact location (somewhere near Clearfield). I was very young then and not overly familiar with areas that I could not get to by walking. We usually left my brother-in-law's home about 4:30 A. M. and were in the woods well before daylight. I didn't know the area we hunted at all. So I stayed where I was placed on the way in, and Bob would collect me at the end of the day on his way out, usually after dark.
The first deer I shot with this Japanese rifle nearly killed me also. I was standing in a tree at the edge of a large clearing in the forest. I was about twelve feet above the ground and hanging on for dear life. When I first saw the buck approaching, it was coming from behind the tree and I could not get turned around to shoot in that direction. I had to wait until it came around the tree. When it finally came to the front of the tree it was straight below me. I put the end of the barrel alongside my foot and the stock under my armpit and pulled the trigger. The rifle kicked like a mule and knocked me clear out of the tree. The bullet hit the deer just to the side of the spine at the base of the neck. It ran about five hundred yards before it expired from loss of blood. I was fortunate in that the snow was over a foot deep and it cushioned my fall. The next year I purchased a Winchester Model 94, lever action rifle in 30-30 caliber. I have deer hunted with this rifle for all these many years since and have taken many fine bucks with it.
My brother and I hunted turkeys during the fall seasons each year and had sporadic luck. Some seasons they were few and far between, other years they seemed more plentiful and we were successful. If you have never eaten a wild turkey, you have no idea how good tasting they are. I would chose a wild turkey over a domestic bird any day. I was never really interested in bear hunting but Jim wanted to try it so out we went one year. Well, I came real close to a very large Sow, and right then and there I decided I wanted no part of bear hunting. I have never been since that day. How close you ask? Wel l l l, I could tell she needed to brush her teeth. They were blue from the grapes she had been eating when I walked up on her. I was probably eight feet from her when she moved inside the grapevines. I froze right there and not just because it was cold, I was scared shitless. I think I was fifteen that season and I just knew that the gun I was carrying was not big enough for the job at hand. I must have been down wind of her, she sniffed the air and ambled off, while at the same time I hauled butt out of there in the opposite direction.
About 2 years later, Jim and I were turkey hunting that same ridge. We walked around different sides of a large mass of grape vines in which we knew there were turkeys. We could hear them clucking and scratching the ground. We hoped that one of us would drive them out to the other. When we had nearly circled the vines, this huge sow black bear came out of the vines right between us and I know we werent twenty feet apart. That sow looked at Jim and then looked at me, I know it was the same one as before, then took off down the ridge as Jim and I headed for cover. We were both carrying .22 cal. rifles, certainly no match for a black bear. When Jim was not available to hunt because of his job, I would hunt with my brother-in-law Bob and his boys as they grew to hunting age. When I turned sixteen and could hunt alone, I was in the forest or fields every available minute that I was out of school and not working.
I had my first job at the age of fourteen, working in Desanders Photo Store, in DuBois. I worked two hours each weekday except Wednesday after school and all day Saturday for $25.00 a week This put a serious crimp in my hunting but it allowed me to make enough money, which, included with my two paper routes, I could buy a car. A 1951 Chevrolet 4 door coupe. Man what a great car, it lasted me over 147,000 miles before my brother totaled it while I was away in the Navy. But thats another story. What it really meant was that I could range farther from home in pursuit of legal game.
I graduated from DuBois Area High School in May 1961, and left for active Navy service on December 7, 1961. About this time I began hunting other game, of the female homosapien variety. This too distracted me from hunting and I am afraid it remained so until I was married and then later discharged from the Navy in 1965.
I made a few deer seasons during those five years, and after I moved to Ohio, I was traveling so much for work that hunting was almost gone from my life except for the trips home to DuBois for the annual deer season. Deer hunting in Ohio in the late sixties and early seventies was pretty darn tough. There were few deer and there wasnt even a season near where I lived.
As the years passed and my boys grew up, I knew they had to have the hunting experience in their lives. I taught them to shoot at an early age and got them in their turn through a hunter safety course and bought them their first guns and took them to the fields near home for the rabbit season and also for squirrel. Edson, the oldest, was ready for deer season when he was twelve. His grades were very good in school and I took him to Pennsylvania for his first deer hunting season. My good friend James Adams and his son-in-law John, accompanied us to Pa. in my pick-up truck with a truck camper on the back. James and I had made the trip this way for several years and we had a great place to park the camper just below a high cliff and out of the wind.
This was and remains the worst deer season in my memory of 42 hunting seasons. Sunday night a cold front came through that dropped about ten inches of snow and then the bottom dropped out of the thermometer. By 5:30 A.M. Monday, the temperature was 20 degrees below zero. We didnt know wind chill factors then but it was so cold the snot froze inside your nose. We came to hunt and hunt we did, but not for long. We had to carry James off the hill behind the cliff about noon. He was nearly frozen to death and suffered from frostbite. He was not able to hunt the rest of the day, nor were any of us. Tuesday the wind had died down, but the temp. was still very low. We hunted for several hours without success and decided that we would be better off moving somewhere else. We packed up and strapped the camper down tight and moved from the area. Located down over the hill from Troutville, we set up camp along the side of the road until Wednesday morning. It got even colder during the night and the regulator on our propane bottle froze up. Then the water tank froze and finally the toilet tank. Four cold weary souls emerged for the last hunt as we all agreed that this was it. We would hunt till 10:00 A.M. then we were heading for Ohio.
I was the only one who knew where we were so I put Edson on a spot at the end of a long ravine and sent the other two to the top of the ridge beyond. I went up the dirt road for a half mile to the top of the hill then went into the woods and over to the head of the ravine. I started down over the mountain doing a one man drive, hoping to move some deer from the shelter of the hemlock trees that grew thick along the sides.
I had not moved more than 100 yards when I spooked several deer and they moved off down the ravine towards Edson. I continued moving slowly down the mountain and saw the deer several times moving just ahead of me. After about twenty minutes I heard a single shot ring out, then silence. I arrived at the bottom to find only that my son had gone back to the camper, apparently frozen out. After all he was only twelve. I could not blame him, I was walking up and then down the mountain and I was frozen. Question was, who had fired the single shot? I went back to the camper, but Edson was not there. I had followed his tracks from his stand back to the camper, but he was not inside. I turned back and headed for the point where the end of the ravine curved around the base of the mountain. I had traveled several hundred feet when I heard a shot, I got him dad, I got him. I ran over to where he was standing, the Model 94 Winchester pointed at the eight point bucks head. The hammer pulled back and a hot round in the chamber. If that deer had even blinked an eye it would have been shot again. It was a grand day in the deer woods. Edson was the only one of us to tag a deer that year. He has tagged many deer since.
Number two son, Daniel, was not quite as enthused with hunting. He passed his hunter safety course and started hunting but was bored with the lack of game and shooting his first two years. And, unfortunately his grades in school were not so good and I was unable to take him out for the deer season. He soon lost interest and gave up hunting for more than ten years. He has joined Edson and I in the deer woods of Pennsylvania now the past three years. We have a hunting camp in the mountains south of DuBois that we built in 1981 and we have good times there with family and friends. So far he has not had an opportunity to harvest a deer, but his time will come, perhaps this year.
I started bow hunting at a very early age also, probably around 15 or 16. My nephew Bobby, Bobs oldest son and I took it up together. We both purchased long bows in the range of 45-50 pounds. We practiced constantly and laid great plans for deer hunts. We hunted DuBois woods near the local golf course, in an area where there were always deer feeding along the course in the evenings. We built several ground blinds between the course and the woods beyond and one time I remember we managed to ambush a doe just before dark. The arrow did not pass through and they was scant blood trail to follow. It was mid morning the next day before my brother and I found and recovered the deer. My second bow kill was near Home Camp, about 6 miles from DuBois. This time I managed to arrow a small buck. When the deer turned and ran it passed close to a tree and broke off the protruding arrow. This managed to open the wound a little wider and thus caused a good blood trail. Recovery was just a few hundred yards from the shot.
One last bow story for now. Bobby and I were still hunting an area just outside town near Clear Run and started at my brother Harolds house. We hunted an entire Saturday and covered a distance of nearly three miles from the start when a deer stood up between us and started moving away. Bobby fired an arrow that hit something and ricocheted in my direction. First thing I knew the broadhead was sticking in the side of my right calf, the point into the bone. It didnt hurt at all, but it bled like crazy for a few minutes after we pulled it out. When the bleeding stopped, and with Bobbys help, I was able to walk into town by a different route and ended at my house. There was a scar for several years but that has since disappeared.
I still return to Pennsylvania every year for the opening of the gun season and usually one or both of the boys go along. During my summer vacations I still roam the farm fields south of DuBois, in pursuit of groundhogs. And, I still use the same Remington .22 Cal. rifle. It does sport a new scope now as my eyes have grown older and also scopes have improved greatly over the years.