Flintlocking with friends and family for deer in Pennsylvania is a great experience
Crawling on my hands and knees through a thick wall of greenbrier and multiflora rose, I have to question how the heck deer can even get through this mess. But everywhere I look, I am encouraged by deer sign — from rubs and fresh droppings to warm deer beds melted in the snow.
If it weren't for the deer trails, now trampled to bare earth, I wouldn't even stand a chance of getting through the nasty quagmire of unforgiving vegetation. But hey, if you want action in the late season, you sometimes have to be proactive and go make something happen.
As I spin out from a tangle of sharp, clinging briars and prepare to negotiate a gnarly blow-down, several deer explode from the cover just a few yards in front of me, instantly putting my heart where my throat should be. I optimistically raise my gun, but there's no real hope for a clear shot, so I hold my fire.
Instead of disappointment, a smile spreads across my face, and I give another crow call to the guys on my parallel flanks as we press forward through the "woolly stuff." It won't be long before a barrage of solitary gun blasts will ring out from the far end of the woodlot, just like all the years before. Then, we'll be high-fiving over another exciting post-Christmas flintlock deer drive.
I have discovered that flintlock hunting with friends and family contributes greatly to the overall enjoyment of the experience. It increases the odds for success, while adding a social atmosphere to the hunt. It's probably even safe to say that the traditions established through our many years of hunting together are probably just as enticing as the actual sport itself.
From cutting shirt tails for misses, to tasty meals of hunter's stew in the garage after a long day's hunt, many fond memories have been etched into the minds of all who've hunted with us.
Far more deer are missed than taken, and we never hesitate to give each other a hard time- simply because a little heckling never hurts. But it's not about the kill; it's more about the thrill of the hunt and the challenge of making a tough shot with a stubborn weapon.
The time spent with the good ol' boys — those who bust their butts trying to get you a shot at a passing whitetail, knowing in return you'll be out there doing the same for them the very next drive — that's the truest essence of flintlocking.
Yes, old-school smoke-pole hunting certainly is something special, and I can't wait to get back out there again this year to add a little more flintlock fun to the holiday festivities. Merry Christmas everyone!