I’m back, restored by the outdoors

Ron SteffeFor 10 days I left my office filled with stacked papers, piles of books, journalism tools and a computer, simply to relax in Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.

The gobbler season opened with the camp thermometer poised at 29 degrees. Light frost covered my truck’s windshield, as it did the laurel leaves I skirted on my way to the crest of a ravine I know often holds turkeys.

Daylight dawned in silence – still with not even a breeze. No gobbles emanated from the mountainsides, only chirping and peeping from songbirds nearby. Disappointed, I was ready to move when farther out the ridge a gobbler sounded.

The exhilaration of a wild sound not heard for nearly a year quickened my heart.

Within five minutes he gobbled twice more. As I pondered whether to move closer another turkey gobbled, this one closer. I quickly sat against the tree where I stood, readied calls and a face mask, and waited for the next gobble. It never came.

I assume the birds moved in another direction, for they never responded to any of my pleading. The morning went on like that – different spots chosen, calling again and again. Never an answer.

Approaching noon, the sun had warmed the woods considerably, but the turkeys maintained their silence. I headed back to camp happy, having at least heard some birds that I knew I could hunt the whole next week.

In the afternoon hours, the water of Big Pine Creek was chilly, as I waded through a slow current toward an expanse of riffles I knew as a good spot for trout. This spring has been cold compared to the past couple, more as it should be.

With a few fluttering aquatic insects floating past, I was hoping to see rising fish. But I did not. So I tied on a small nymph and bounced it along the stony bottom. Nothing. Much later I knotted a large black beadhead to my tippet. On my third cast I was jolted by the familiar, sudden pull of a fish. A nice rainbow came to the net, as did two more before I left the water.

The week went along with sporadic gobbles, but only a pair of jakes came relatively close, their sharp clucks giving away their presence. The trout, too, held to the bottom, not yet ready to feed on the surface.

But the span of days was wonderful, nonetheless. To view the greening of the steep mountains – the trees well into budding on the bottomland, yet dormant at the top – was special. I welcomed listening to ravens contesting my presence and deer snorting at my scent.

To be away from traffic and sirens, dogs barking and the racket of people was extraordinary.

It is why I come here, to this wild retreat. It restores my spirit.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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