An exciting Pennsylvania deer season

Various factors come into play to make for an enjoyable rifle deer season and I had a good one.

For starters, anticipation is a big part of making deer hunting exciting for me. Since several very large-racked bucks had been spotted in or near the area where I was hunting, there was no shortage of anticipation. There is nothing more exciting than standing in my treestand thinking that a trophy of a lifetime – multi-tined, ivory antlers, spread two-feet wide – just might step into view.

Second – with venison in the freezer, there was no pressure. I had harvested a doe with my crossbow in early November, so I could sit back and enjoy rifle season as it unfolded. I wasn't about to shoot the first legal buck that walked by when the opportunity for "Mister Big Boy" was only a trigger-pull away.

Third – It helps when you see deer, and I saw at least a few does on every outing except one. For me, the deer action began at 7:54 on the opening morning. I saw a doe picking her way through the rhododendron as she moved toward my treestand. As hunters always hope, she was followed by not one, but three bucks – a 3-point, a 4-point and a 5-point. I was scoping out the 5-point when I heard another noise. Could this be a big buck? No – it was two more does following the three bucks.

For eight minutes or so, I watched those bucks running in circles – chasing what appeared to be a doe in heat. I passed on the legal five-point. It was fun just to watch the show.

A short time later, I spotted two does moving across the hollow – right to left. They were followed by a spike buck. As stated earlier, my deer sightings continued through the season – including the one deer that I jumped on the final Saturday.

Fourth – shooting: There is not much more to getting the adrenaline pumping than hearing the loud report of a rifle nearby. I certainly experienced that excitement, but with a couple of trophy bucks on the loose, hearing close shots can be a double edged sword. Did someone else just shoot the big buck, or is he still out there?

Nov. 30 – Opening Day – Two close shots broke the morning stillness at 9:06. It sounded like my son-in-law John's .270. He was posted in a treestand about 400 yards from me. I watched earnestly for any movement from his direction, but saw none. Ten minutes later, a text came through – "Buck down – a 5-point." It turned out to be a different 5-point from the one that I had seen an hour earlier.

I even heard multiple close shots on the last Saturday as the hunters below me on Bald Eagle Mountain put on a productive deer drive.

Last – A successful whitetail season can be a lot more than simply shooting a deer, hearing shooting or even seeing lots of deer. Much of it has to do with fellowship and shared success.

The telephone rang at 8:45 on the evening of the opening day. It was my brother Frank – he said that he had shot a 9-point buck on state game lands far from the road. It had been just after 4:00 when the big chocolate-antlered buck materialized through the fog and Frank made the 45-yard shot. The buck was tagged and field dressed, but still in the woods.

Considering Frank's issues with his back, the brotherly thing to do was offer to help.

My son-in-law John and I picked Frank up before daybreak. Flashlights illuminated our way as the three of us hiked the 2.5 miles up the mountain to his deer. Luckily the carcass hadn't been pillaged by bears or coyotes during the night.

We were in awe when we saw the size of the buck – a 20-inch inside spread, nice long tines, and evenly-balanced – a true trophy!

The wind picked up and a cold rain started to fall as we reached the game lands parking lot with the buck. After snapping a few photos, we took the buck to Gummo's butcher shop. It was their biggest buck of the week. What a fun morning it was, and I'm glad that I shared it with my brother instead of hunting by myself.

As Frank remarked, "I can honestly say that going in and bringing the deer out together, and sharing my experience, was almost as much fun as shooting the buck. It made it an event.”

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, PenBlogs, Pennsylvania – Mark Nale, Whitetail Deer

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