A productive week of varied hunting in Pennsylvania

I like to call it Pennsylvania’s “Super Week.” It’s when archery deer, duck, small game, and inline muzzleloader antlerless deer seasons all overlap, and hunters need to scramble to get a sample of each unique opportunity.

I always do my best to cram in as much as possible, but it makes it tough when I’m so focused on taking a buck with my bow. While I’m typically reluctant to sacrifice precious time on stand during the archery season to pursue other options, I was fortunate to take care of business early last week so I could do just that.

On Monday evening, after struggling to climb a tree with a torn medial meniscus in my right knee (soccer injury), I was rewarded for my efforts when a decent five-point fed its way down the mountain toward my setup along an active scrape line.

Under normal circumstances, this buck would’ve gotten a pass from me, as I try to wait for bigger, more mature bucks, especially this early in the season. But knowing knee surgery was required and looming, I decided to take the 20-yard broadside shot the young buck presented so I wouldn’t have to wait until December to get myself fixed up.

While dragging the deer back to my truck, the loose cartilage that was pinching in my knee joint with every step actually shifted back out, providing some welcomed temporary relief. Regardless, I promptly scheduled surgery for early November, knowing fall’s primary goal was already fulfilled, and it’s only a matter of time before the pain returns.

After Monday’s midnight shift of hanging, skinning and quartering the deer, I spent Tuesday evening after work deboning, trimming and cubing the lean and tender venison that thankfully re-stocked my freezer for another year. With the hard work finished, the rest of the week was merely a bonus.

I dusted off my duck decoys and hit a local stream for a few hours and was blessed to take a gorgeous pair of wood ducks. Dropping the brace with two shots from my 12-gauge almost felt easy, and it made me wish I would’ve tried a third shot at another drake to fill my bag limit, but I was more than happy with what I brought home. I still feel woodies are by far Pennsylvania’s most beautiful duck.

Another evening, I broke out my inline (which rarely sees any action) and took it for a walk at a place I had encountered several antlerless deer earlier in the archery season. While I saw a large doe cross the trail about 150 yards ahead of where I had parked, dressed and was quietly closing my truck door, it disappeared by the time I gathered the rest of my gear and still-hunted down the path. I never saw another deer that evening, but it was a great night to be out enjoying the scenery.

Another highlight of the week was a trip to Martz’s Gap View Hunting Preserve, where I was able to give my bird dog Cali an excellent warm-up going into the Pennsylvania pheasant season. She found all 12 birds put out for our hunting party, and we were able to connect on nine of them. It was a lot of fun, and we each brought home three fully dressed roasters for the pot

Saturday morning, it was a great privilege to spend time in the hunting blind with a father and son during our annual charity hunt, which my family hosts on our Schuylkill County farm.

Our guest this time had a tree fall on him several years ago, which paralyzed his right arm, making hunting more of a challenge, even though it remains a huge part of his family life, with two teenage boys and a stepson who all love to hunt.

Though the deer we saw were all out of range, I enjoyed sitting with the two, getting to know them, and sharing hunting stories together. We have invited them back to try to fill a doe tag in rifle season.

The rest of my weekend was spent playing catch-up with my own family. After all, life can’t be just about the outdoors. I am thankful my wife and son remain incredibly understanding of my fondness for the outdoors, so I made sure they got some attention, too.

We had a great time attending autumn festivals, Halloween parades and church, as well as sitting down for some nice family meals together – including fresh venison tenderloin.

As a side note, it is awesome to see my son showing such an interest in hunting. He was excited to help me recover my deer, spoke non-stop about “Daddy’s buck with the bow-arrow,” and curiously supervised as I cut out the buck’s antlers.

I can’t wait for him to join me in a few years. For now, though, I’ll just keep it fun and let him look cute in his Ninja Turtle pajamas while posing with me for field photos.

It was truly a productive week in Pennsylvania.

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