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One Hunt in the Douglas Gang.

Old one Horn

Hunting in the Douglas Gang was one of the best times of my younger days. It was always something to look forward to when that time of year came around again. This Gang was run with the upmost in professionalism, saftey and expedience, by the Douglas family members, of Thompson township, Fulton county, Pa. In those days this area was all farm land, of which most all the farms offered welcome hunting, by all the hunting gangs around. Most all the gangs were respectfull of each others hunting grounds, although there were places that overlapped. I had been hunting with the Douglas Gang since I started hunting, when I was 16 years old, and it was mutually felt that we were all good hunters. We had good fun with lots of ribbing on each other and expected to get our turn as the brunt end of a joke. There were always a couple in any gang that were more apt at such things and kept things very lively.

I was living in Berkeley Springs Wv.and going back up to hunt with the gang each year. This particular year (1963) the first week of Pa. buck season was abnormally mild and warm. We had hunted some very cold, wet and windy weather , in past seasons, but not this year. The night before was to be a sleepless night for me and I could not even close my eyes without thinking about what the day would be like. I tossed and turned until about 2:00 AM, when I desided to get up, throw my stuff into the old 1953 chevy pickup truck, and head out toward Pa. I always carried a hand held spotlight in the truck (legal then to spotlight all night in Pa.) and that was what I was going to do until it was time to gather for the first hunt of the season. The ridges were all north and south with a road on each ridge and connecting roads at intervals. All the north and south roads connected with the Mason/Dixion Line (Md./ Pa. border) and were all named Timber Ridge. There was, starting with the western most road, just plain Timber Ridge, where my home place was. then Timber Ridge 1, 2, and 3. I'll refer to them as just T.R.

My spot lighting started by going north on T.R. past my homeplace. I dropped my gun and ammo off in the milk house, at my home place, and pick it up later, and had just passed my old home when a one horn buck crossed the road in front of me. I said aloud to myself. "That will be the one I get". I continued spot lighting the rest of the night, in the area that we would hunt, and saw that old one horn several more times and every time he would be heading toward the first hunt of our day. When we finally got together about 6:30 A.M. that morning, I was telling Gene Douglas about that old one horn I had been seeing all night and how that would probably be the old scrub that would come out to my stand on the first hunt.

The first drive was set up and I was chosen to be on certain stand, because I was one of the very few that had a scope on there rifle. The scope was just coming into popularity, in the early sixties, and most of the rifles in our group were lever actions of either Winchester or Marlin. The calbers were mainely 30-30, 35, 32, 33, 44-40 and 44 etc., with iron sights. I was carrying a Remington model 33, pump action 35 cal. with a 3-9 power scope. And I don't mind blowing my own horn but I knew how to handle it and the leader that day(Marvin Douglas) leaned (trusted) on me to bring home the bacon. So he stationed me in the areas that had the long shots or where they came out so fast their feet didn't seem to be hitting the ground. Well! On this drive I was stationed on a stand just below the old Boardyard Schoolhouse, to head the drive that started just back of the Crepps Younker place and went north to my location. The headers were scattered from my location on down the road an around to the creek. The drive had hardly begun when the shooting started. First at the top of the drive and finally down at the creek. The drive was over and I saw the lower headers below me start down the road to join up with the others below. I decided to stay where I was and they could pick me up as they came back that way to start another drive. The header, that was just below me, (Melvin Douglas) had just rounded the curve in the road when I heard deer coming around the hill below where I was standing. I readied my gun, leaning against a power pole on the road bank, and they started coming out of the woods. That particular spot has tall pines on the south side and small new growth pines on the north side of the road and it is only a dirt road (then) with barely enough room to pass two vehicles. The first ones to come out were all does, 11 in all, and they all came out to the edge of the tall pines, stopped, looked and proceeded to cross on over. Something told me to not take the gun down but to continue sighting because a buck may be coming out next. It was then I heard a deer running toward the road to cross and I was thinking that (he/it) may not stop as the other had done because he was running fast. I was correct. When he came to the edge of the road he was already in the air, front feet strecthed out in front and hind legs strecthed out behind him with head in the air. I looked once for antlers, cross hairs where there was a little space in front of his shoulders and pull, just as he entered the small pines on the other side. He never touched the road but jumped the whole road in a single bound. I had no idea if I even hit him because I didn't see him any more after I shot.

Adrenaline is a strange thing. I stood there in a state of amazement going over what had just happened. Number one: Those deer had come out of a drive after it was finished. The drive was over. Where did they come from and how did they get into there after it had just been driven? Number two: That buck knew he was the target and he was going to make that road crossing with as much haste as he could. It was almost as if he knew I was waiting there for him. Number 3: I had only a split second to make a shot that would not cause a possible tragedy to someone down the road should I miss. It had to be precisely placed so if I missed, the bullet would go into the trees beyond and not down the road somewhere.

I was still going over in my mind about this as I walked to where the deer had crossed. The foot prints were still very fresh and I followed them into the short stubby pines, that were scattered close together, thickly. With my left hand I pushed back the spindly limbs to see if that buck was there. That deer never took another step after I shot. He landed his feet at about the same time as I shot and he crumbled, sliding for perhaps 30 feet in the leaves before coming to a stop in a reverse position. I mean , it's head was troward me so I could see very clearly, and there wasn't any antlers to be seen. What kind of deal is this? I thought. But just a quick I grabbed an ear and raised it head, bringing a hidden antler from under the leaves. Old one horn.

I had just finished field dressing him when I heard the familar sound of Marvin's old 1952 or 3, cast iron six, as he called it, and Gene's pickup, coming up the road. I stepped out of the pines just as they were approaching and they immediately came to a stop, to pick me up. Everybody began jumping out to tell me their story of how they shot their buck, so excited and pumped, at it being only nine o'clock in the morning. Marvin was compleltly beside himself in excitement because there were eight bucks on those two pickups, all from the very first drive of the season. After a brief story session, Marvin began to tell us to get into the trucks so the deer could be taken to the headquarters, where the roster was kept, and some could be taking the hides off while the rest would go onto another hunt. Up to this time I didn't have a chance to get a word in sideways, so now I spoke out ". Might as well through my deer on there too", I said. Well! That done it. Marvin, in a very quick voice, said. "Snake in the grass". "You got one too". Well! Throw it on there and that will make nine of those rascals. What do you think of that? Nine deer on the ground and it's only nine o'clock. Let the other gangs match that. Hu?

Note from brother Gary

 

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