The Speere Woods
I was born in lower Fulton County Pennsylvania in the early 40's and grew up on a farm where hunting was a main feature for my dad and my brothers. Our land bordered a piece of ground that contained hundreds of acres of all woodland. There was a family that lived on the property many, many years ago but the buildings were all gone. All that remained was a dug-out celler. It was my own piece of hunting ground because no one policed it or cared for it in any way. I spent a lot of time in those woods after I reached the age that I was allowed to hunt. As soon as I got off the bus and changed my clothes I grabbed the gun and took off for a hunt there in the place that some people thought had ghosts and demons. Didn't scare me and I never saw any.
Hunting deer was one of the driving elements in my life that took precedence over any other activity. In my early trips through the woods I was a beginner and I had no one to help me learn the ropes in the ways of how the deer operated and lived. I was a learner, however and I tried to learn as much as possible of just how the deer's life was different than other animals, or the same. It was difficult at first to understand just how different they were. I didn't have many books to read and learn the stuff that I was after. I was a pioneer with my own piece of ground to work with. I watched how they would travel in patterns and how they would choose a particular place to bed down that would have good visual look-out and still have a escape route that would let them leave secretly. I learned scrapes, scents on an above limb, doe bleats and buck sounds all before anybody wrote about it in outdoor magizines. All I remember in those magizines back then were the advertisements on the best deer rifle. As I recall they talked a lot about the "O"-6 and how it was the rifle of choosing. The pumpkin ball (pumkin- ball) was what I started out hunting deer with and that would have been about 1953-54. Dads old 12ga. double and then a single barrell 20ga. with rifled slugs. I would have the gun loaded and carry one in my hand for a quick change, second shot. When I was sixteen I bought a new Marlin 30-30, thinking that was a good gun for deer.It might have been for others but not for me It wasn't the gun or me that was the problem , it was the ammo I used. My
Dad allways used silver tipped ammo so I followed his example, not knowing any better. After I had crippled a few deer and they got away I finally figured out, many years later, that the silver tip bulletts went straight through the deer without expanding and causing enough damage to drop it within a reasonable distance. I sold the gun to my brother before I figgered it out and one weekend I came home from college to hunt and didn't have a gun, so I borrowed it back. I was heading a drive and a monster buck came out to me. At close range on a standing shot, the new winchester silver tip bullet didn't go off. I thought I hadn't rounded a cartridge but when I worked the lever a shell flew out. By this time he was on the way. The drivers turned him and he came past me again and at broad side I fired a round into his front shoulder. I can still to this day remember the hair how it exploded on his front shoulder and he started to crumble. But before he hit the ground his front feet picked him up and he bounded away but much slower. I was able to fire several more shots, each one with a very noticable evedience of a hit but he kept right on going. That was on a Saturday evening and it was raining making it impossible to track him. I went back to college the next day and came home the next weekend. I heard that someone had found that deer about a half mile away from where I had shot him. The gun held seven shells. One misfired and the deer had six holes in him. It was a nontypical 17 point, by far the biggest buck I ever shot at.
I never killed a buck in the Speere woods, as a boy, but I credit the information very highly because it was very crucial to the rest of my hunting career. I have harvested aproximately 60-70 legal bucks, in three states, and most of them because I learned their habbits and behaviour on those hills and valleys of the Speere Woods, and on our farm where I grew up. Each time I scoured those woods I would put something into my unseen possibles bag that I sorted out on my pillow every night. I took every bit of information I gathered and formulated into what I thought would be a working, deer hunting, successful way to bag a buck. If a part of my formulation proved to be wrong, well then I had to change some things and try that.
I remember one time I decided to put a test on a certain plan of attack I came up with. Knowing every foot of the many hundreds of acres around me I decided to make a sneek on Mr. buck. Well first I had to find Mr. buck and that only took 15 minutes. By my continual pressing myself to learn as much of the deer life as I could, I learned the where-a-bouts of the best places to look. I was sneeking along the lower edge of a field, belly down, where I could see into the thick undergrowth of Planted pine and larch trees, also be hid from any deer that might be in the field above, and I heard a buck rubbing a tree in the near distance, but I could not see him. He was below and forward of me on the other side of the pines and larch trees. After pinpointing his location, by sound, I turned and crawled on my belly down through those trees, which had super growth of green briers with dead leaves entangled throughout. It was dry and those leaves made an awful loud noise but I finally made it to the bottom and out of that mess. The noise he made was enough to mask the noise I was making. I still could not see the deer but I could see the tree shaking he was rubbing. I thought about crawling closer but he would surely hear me. I decided to stand up and maybe get a shot that way. When I was fully standing I could see the deer alright but his butt was directly towards me and I didn't have a shot but it was fun watching him commit his muscles into that little tree. While I was sighting at him he must have scented me because like a bullet he turned right and was gone. I just learned something else and that was he had a sense that told him something was a danger to him. This was before any scent killers were out there so I decided to use the best method I knew about and that was good old soap and water. But on another hunt I learned that they could scent the soap and that was just as dangerous to them as body odor.
I was crawded through a blueberry patch, at the edge of the Speere Woods, not to far from our house, and I came right upon some deer bedded down at the edge of the patch, only a few feet away. A little fawn got up, walked right toward me a couple feet and layed down almost in my arms. Why they didn't wind me I will never know. One of those mysteries that all deer hunters encounter sometimes. I wasn't carrying a gun that day. Propably wasn't even deer season. I can't recall. Then a small buck emerged from somewhere, walking away and over the hill, and the whole herd followed him. They never knew I was anywhere around and I could almost reach out and touch them.
In later years the property was sold to a local person whom we knew. He allowed hunting to the neighbors and his family. He cut all the timber off to pay for the property and I was told that he had plenty dollars left over after the settlement of the property. The property now belongs to His nephew and neice which they still keep it as a refuse as it was. I don't hunt anymore but I still have those adventures to keep my mind working overtime at night. I haven't hunted those Speere Woods for many, many years. I did kill a buck there, finally, on the last day of the season, in the last hours, on a very cold day of sleet, freezing rain and blowing snow. I had to throw it away. It had been shot through the lower right shoulder at the beginning of the season, two weeks earlier. When I saw him he was limping toward me. I shot him in the chest, breaking his left shoulder, the bullet traveling clean through his body and taking his left rear quarter off. A deer just can't stand on one hind leg.