Notes from a a hunting trip to northern Pennsylvania

I left my home last Wednesday shortly before noon for the three-hour trip to Tioga County and the hunting camp where I’m a member. It was for the purpose of partaking of the Senior/Junior anterless gun hunt that ran Thursday through Saturday.

After arriving at camp and performing the couple of small tasks needed to get camp up and running, I made a late-afternoon run to scout the spot I would be hunting the next morning.

Glaring sunshine and hot temps for this time of year were the weather conditions as I realized I would be walking through a large corn stubble field to a jutted corner along the edge of a good-sized woodlot, the place where I would be standing the next morning, rifle in hand.

About 4:30 a.m. Thursday, a terrific thunderstorm rolled into the area that lasted to about 6:30 a.m. Rationalizing that deer may move after the rain ended, I got to my spot shortly after 7, which was at least a half hour later than I normally would have arrived there.

As I crested a hump in the corn stubble field a bunch of deer scattered from a lower edge of the harvested land and ran into the woods. I went to my spot anyway, hoping some may return to the field, but none did. Two hours later I left.

At the same spot for the evening hunt I had four youngsters come separately to the field, but previously deciding to only allow myself to shoot a mature doe, I merely enjoyed watching the yearlings, and a nice six-pointer that came into the field late. Of course they all sprinted to safety when I left.

Determined to hunt the same spot for the weekend, I was once again at that corner in the darkness of Friday morning, along with heavy rain. Within 45 minutes when the rain got even more heavy, I walked back to my truck.

By late afternoon the heavy rain had passed, and I was rested against a tall red pine in that same corner, now with a strong wind and sprinkles of rain as my companions. After about an hour of nothing moving except blowing leaves and tree branches, four yearlings walked into the field together at a different spot, which was behind me, and moved toward my corner. My rifle stayed against the red pine where I stood. The four smaller deer had me wondering where the moms were?

One of young got too close to me for its own comfort, and after staring at this huge hunk of humanity for a long minute, turned and bounced away-along with its three companions-into the section of woods from where they first emerged.

With about 35 minutes of light left, a nice eight pointer came into the field below me, and began to feed in the stubble. Maybe 10 minutes later two young deer came from the woods behind me once again, but this time a mature doe was with them. They fed slightly past me, and soon the doe turned to eat more of whatever they were eating in the same direction from where the buck had come. The thought of luck that her and her young never saw me ran through my head, as all she needed to do was walk five more steps in the uneven stubble field, and she would be at a spot where I had a ground backdrop behind her, and no worry of shooting across open space. At about 35 yards she was a sure thing.

Except that the buck, at another 70 yards beyond her, chose at that moment to sprint toward her and her young, and chase the small family clean back into the woods. End of that evening’s hunt. I cannot make these things up.

Saturday morning in even stronger, heavy winds than those experienced the night before, plus stinging light rain, I saw zilch, and called it a weekend after a couple of hours. But believe me, I was not at all disappointed to have it end that way.

In truth I was hunting private property, but it is land that sits against state forest land. Thursday afternoon I had driven to the vastness of that state forest and did a little scouting. I saw deer sign, many, many acorns, a four pointer and had a flock of about 20 turkeys cross the road in front of me. (Saw a much bigger flock Wednesday afternoon on private property).

The weekend on the whole was great. I had seen many additional deer beyond my hunting episodes when driving to and from the hunting spot. I always enjoy running into big flocks of turkeys in the fall with their mix of young and old, so those encounters were special. I got to feel weather extremes, and some colder temps finally after too many months of heat. I spent a few hours with a couple of friends too, and just plain enjoyed my time in the “northlands.”

There is one thing I did not enjoy however. On my way up there I counted 21 different road-killed deer (or spots where only smithereens of their run-ins with big trucks remained). Add to that the fact that there are many miles along my trip’s course where I cannot see the other side of big highways, and cannot possibly know, but strongly assume, more whitetails met their demise via vehicle there, too.

What a terrible waste of a resource.


Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Whitetail Deer

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