Michael A. Sawyers
You don’t have to pull the trigger a lot to have a memorable hunting season.
Am I trying to justify my level of success thus far? Could be, but the fat lady isn’t even warming up her vocal cords yet. The opera isn’t over. Thanks, Dick Motta. That phrase will be used forever. Some statements are trite-proof.
I got my first bow and arrow shot at a bobcat this year. The feline is happy that I missed by two inches. Don’t call the Maryland Natural Resources Police. The shot was in West Virginia.
Also in West Virginia, twice I had bears within bow range. One was a 125-pounder at 20 yards and the other a 250-pounder at 36 yards. Neither bear turned broadside before quickly spinning and exiting stage left, you know, over where the fat lady is waiting her turn to perform.
I can tell you this. I am not about to flip an arrow at a bruin unless it is close and its vital area exposed. Nada.
Two days after I missed the bobcat, another bowhunter in camp did not miss his opportunity when another Roberto Felino showed up.
I was amazed at the difference in the impacts of Hurricane Sandy from my hunting ground in Allegany County to the one in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.
At the Maryland spot, near my favorite ladder stand, it appears that a giant bowling ball rolled through the pine flat toppling well more than half of the trees.
Afterwards, I could see my stand from 100 yards away, but I could not get to it. Some saw work allowed me a path, though I was a bit antsy while clearing a way, worried that some of the leaning trees would pick that time to fall with me as the target.
In West Virginia, there were no new trees on the ground.
I was not far from a 12-year-old who killed his first deer, a 5-point, on the opening day of the Mountain State firearms season. When the sound of the shot roared down the hollow to my ears, I figured he had one on the ground, knowing that his father would let him shoot first.
All of us shared in the lad’s satisfaction, probably recalling the first deer in our lengthy hunting journeys.
West Virginia hunting camp is brightened in a taste-bud sort of way each year by the pastries sent by Pam Eash and toted by her husband, Bill, and son, Sam, from the Johnstown, Pa., area to the hut along the Cacapon River. Thanks, Pam.
Does this happen to you? You spend countless hours/days in a stand bow hunting and then it is firearms season. You see a buck, say 100 yards away, and your first reaction is to hope it comes closer.
Then you realize, “Hey. It doesn’t have to come closer. I have the thunder rod in my hand.”
Brain to hands: “It ain’t bow season any more.”
I may have told you this before, but I have found something that will likely turn me into a trophy deer hunter. I have found that the longer I wait for a truly big buck to come by, the less dragging I have to do.
An 8-point with heavy antlers and a 17-inch spread? He’ll be even bigger next year. See. Trophy hunting is easy.
As I wrote recently, I consider fall turkey hunting to be the most pure form of hunting in our neck of the mountains.
Jerry Burke, a friend from Petersburg, W.Va., agrees. Here is what he told me recently in an email.
“In my opinion, hunting T-birds in fall is the definition of hunting, at least in our part of the world. If I had to choose one type of hunting, it would be fall turkey, with a caveat; let there be gentler terrain than here in Grant County.
“You know the factors: sign, no sign; here yesterday, but where now?; decisions-decisions; disappointments; frustrations; mistakes; mental and physical fatigue; life gets in the way to prohibit going back to follow up a scatter; persistence, patience, experience, luck?, etc. Another walk to the truck; put away gun and gear; seems that’s always the case.
“Then one day, leaving the woods, sun on back, following silhouette of a man with gun in hand and turkey over shoulder; one of the satisfying pleasures of life!”
Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.