Hunting at Pete's
A friend of mine once told me that there were only two seasons
in the year. Deer season and getting ready for deer season. You
know? That about sums it all up for me when I was a younger person.
Just about all events including school was second to hunting. I'm
older now and the hunting fever has left me but my boys and son-in-law's
are still very much that-a-way and their sons are coming along in
the same tradition. What I do mostly now is sit around and reminisce
back over the great times I once had in pursuit of those wild species
with ornamental value
When I was dating the woman that would become my wife, (Marion)
I entered into a family that had deep roots in deer hunting. After
a sunday dinner, at their house, my father-in-law, Pete Mellott,
of Needmore, Pa., would tell deer hunting stories that circumnavigate
Fulton, Franklin and Bedford Counties and reached back in time to
the 1920's. Those were times that I wish I had somehow been able
to record them and play them back for my children, and their's.
Most of the stories were about ventures right there in their back
door woods. As I would become part of that family I was invited
to particapate in hunting with them. My wifes brother, Herman Mellott,
lived next door to Pete and usually was around whenever Marion and
I were visiting. Such deer swapping tales you never heard. It would
go on all afternoon and into the night. Of course the closer it
got to deer season the more intense the telling of such. There was
also the other side of the family. Pete's wife, Henrietta Mellott,
Deshong, had many brothers that fell from the same tree. When it
was nearing the season they would all show up on sunday just to
get the fever all stirred up. Now, I won't say that there were lies
told. Let's just say that they were a little far-fetched, as my
daddy used to say. And there was Pete's brother "Doc."
that would show up also. He and I would have a running deer hunting
entanglement, of sorts, that would last for years. I'll have to
tell that story at another time.
The first day of Pa. deer season usually would be the first day
that the weather would turn real bad and this day was no exception.
I had to drive very slow and carefully all the way from Berkeley
Springs, Wv, where I lived, to Needmore, Pa. It was a mix of snow
and sleet and the wind was blowing from the southwest at maybe 10
to 15 MPH. I remember that because of the side of the tree that
I chose to stand under to be protected from the blowing stuff. I
also remember because it was the year that I decided that I would
hunt, not with the deer rifle, but my old Hawkins 54 Cal. flintlock,
which made all the rest of the hunting party laugh.
I stood under that tree until I was shivering to the bone. The
noise of the precipitation was so loud that no one could hear a
Patton Tank coming 50 yards away and the wind blowing the tree branches
was breaking the forming ice on them causing it to loosen and fall
all around on the frozen snow crust. It cascaded down the hill to
who knows how far and I was thinking that no deer in his right mind
would get up from where he was bedded down and come my way, even
though I was at a crossing between the bedding area and the feeding
grounds. A hunter thinks of a lot of things when on a stand. It
takes a lot of finesse to outsmart them on their own grounds and
that is a good reason one should do the preseason homework, by scouting
to try and figure the most appropriate way to bushwack him.
I'm going to have to move or freeze, I thought, but what and where
would be the most advantageous route, due to this nasty weather.
I had hunted in these woods many times so I knew pretty much the
travel routes. I also knew that it was about time that several of
my hunting companions would be down out of the stands and on the
move. So ! How do I take advantage of that? I decided to get to
a place that I had good luck in other years, where I could see and
not have to rely on a lot of instincts, because of the weather.
Walking slowing to that location, on the ice and snow, took longer
then I expected, I had just reached the area and was about to move
and overhanging pine branch out of the way when a nice 8-point buck
bounded into the opening just the other side of that pine, maybe
40 yards away.
The year was 1981 and it was the year that I lost my right eye
in an accident in my own shop, where we do the maintenance on our
excavating equipment. Being so, I now had to shoot left handed,
which with the 54 cal. Hawkins, flintlock, put the primming pan
right in front of my face. NO ! I didn't think about it either.
It took some getting use to. Anyway, when the buck appeared I was
holding the rifle in my right hand, because that was the normal,
habitual way I was accustomed to. The gun had to be transferred
to the left hand for me to make a sight. Sounds simple, hu? Well
! With the right hand I raised the gun to make the transition but
the law of Murphy took over immediately. Those familiar with that
gun will know the type of trigger guard it has, with the decorative
style brass do-dads and such. The darn thing got caught in the pocket
of my pull over, sweat shirt, style of rain gear and when I asserted
more pressure to force it to come around, it tore through the material
and was stuck. It was unbelievable to have this happen with a 8-point
standing there looking straight at me. Finally it was loose, the
transfer to the left side completed, the bread wrapper removed from
the set works, and aiming began. You want to know what Murphy did
then. He plum forgot that this blamed thing had a set trigger and
it just would not go off. I bent the dadastered trigger trying to
persuade it. To much for old moss horns. He says - I'm outa here
and off he went with those high bounding jumps where the tail waves
-good-bye. Of course it was after he left that I finally figured
out about the set trigger.
I got a hundred of em, folks. I could tell stories like that all
day long. You know how it goes. If it weren't for bad luck! Or!
Could it have been "Buck Feaver"?