One day might be different from another, but there ain’t much difference when they’re put together. ~William H. Armstrong
It’s official, hunting season for deer with a rifle in Pennsylvania is over, at least for the year. No, hunting is not done, archery and muzzle loader for deer come back after Christmas. After then starts small game season and spring gobbler, but the big hunting event of the year, the one that only lasts for two weeks, has come to an end. Was it a good year? You bet it was, in more ways than one! God blessed us with a good harvest and great family time in nature.
Besides hunting in New York Hunting: Our New York Adventure, dad, Kyle and myself had fun and were able to harvest several deer for canning and some meat for the freezer, to be consumed for dinner in the near future. Even though Kyle and I didn’t get a single deer in Pennsylvania, dad filled his doe tags and added to our stockpile of meat.
The best part of hunting? Yep, hanging with dad and Kyle and getting out in nature! I must admit, I missed Kyle being with us in New York, but he made up for it on the first day of buck, which was Monday, December 1st, plus this past Saturday and the one prior. It’s always an adventure with the Piper family, double when Kyle is involved!
There are so many funnies, I seriously can’t remember them all, but here are a few for the records.
Something that started in New York, but I forgot to mention it, was dad and his smarties. My dad LOVES those small pellets of sugar that come in clear plastic packaging. If those aren’t available then he settles for sweet tarts. This year, he kept stocking up on the rolls of Wonka Sweet Tarts.
While in New York, I was sitting in our tree stand with dad watching out for deer. All of a sudden I heard the subtle tearing of paper? I turned my heard toward dad to see him carefully tearing his candy roll as to not drop a single sweet tart. After he popped in a colorful disc, he leaned into to me with a serious face and said, “These will help bring in the big deer.” I started cracking up! During the day when things got slow, dad would pull out his sweet tarts and reiterate, “The deer like these, they’ll come now.” Very unlike dad in the woods, joking around, but it was funny! I mean we weren’t dancing around, but those comments cracked me up, not to mention, my dad, a big lumberjack type of guy, tearing at his Wonka candy with precision was hilarious!
Now back to Pennsylvania. By now, dad was fully addicted to his Wonka Sweet Tarts. That Wednesday, after the first day of buck, dad and I sat together in the woods. We never did see anything, but it wasn’t due to a lack of sweet tarts. Dad did the same thing, unrolled his paper to release a colorful disc when there was no signs of deer. I even joined him, popping a few colorful candies to pass the time. At one point, dad almost knocked me off my chair, he nodded at me to look in his direction. Just then, dad unzipped his vest and pulled the fabric back to expose his top shirt pocket. There were two more rolls of those darn sweet tarts sticking out of his pocket! He showed me his candy with a straight face, like a gangster was showing his pistol. I actually laughed-out-loud! Dad and that candy was totally silly! After that, the Wonka candy became part of our checklist before entering the woods: rifle, check; shells, check; deer tags, check; candy, check. Kyle got a kick out of me telling him about his pap and the new “deer lure”.
I can make anything into an adventure, even by myself. On Saturday, December 6th, the first day of doe, I made my way down to my spot, marked with orange ribbons, placed by dad a week prior to hunting season. The same spot I sat for the first day of buck. It was a soggy Saturday, raining ALL night into the next morning and continuing ALL day. I chose my tree and pulled out my portable seat. It was the kind that folds up, like a directors chair, only smaller. I placed it in position and pushed it firmly into the saturated muddy ground. The chair was strategically placed in front of a fallen log, so if I needed to shoot off of it, I could. Great! I was facing a couple deer paths and ready to go, or so I thought. As I sat my bottom down on my portable stool with a metal frame and a fabric seat, I began sinking and sinking and sinking. Initially, I thought the gravitational pull would cease, and the ground wouldn’t swallow me up whole, and that I would be secured momentarily. Wrong! I continued to sink until I was laying flat on my back with my rifle laying over my chest. What? It seriously all happened in slow motion and I was completely dumbfounded.
After a moment or two passed, and the shock of me spread out on the floor of the woods became clear in my mind, I jumped up to examine the scene. The fabric on the chair ripped, sending the metal sides to flatten out, since there was no fabric to hold them together, allowing me to meet the ground. Standing in the rain looking down at my flattened seat, I just laughed and laughed, almost thankful no one was around. Although, I wouldn’t have minded someone joining me in the humor of the situation.
So what did I do? I folded the seat back up, almost meeting the metal framework together, and forcefully ramming the legs of the stool into the muddy ground till it was secured. Simply, I sat on the metal frame projected from the ground. Not comfortable, yet not entirely uncomfortable. I didn’t care, after all it was already less than favorable hunting conditions with constant rain, which never let up.
Naturally, that’s the one day I got to see something, and I missed at the doe. As I was trying to see the deer in my fogged up scope with rain falling down my face, a big rain drop hit my scope with a pitch perfect “tinking” sound that seemed to echo for miles around. Before the echos could travel far, the doe was getting ready to run and “hightail” it out of there, not that I blame her. All the deer in the area were already spooked, so I quickly took a shot… and missed! She didn’t stick around for me to reload and took off down the hill into the brush. It happened very quickly, with low visibility on my part. Dang! It happens.
Another funny… the same day, I was wearing a camouflaged rain coat with a thin bright orange vest and an orange baseball cap. I know, what a sight! Dad had on similar clothing to try and keep as dry as possible. Kyle on the other hand, was dressed in a bright orange poncho, as to not be mistaken in the foggy rainy woods for something other than a pre-teen. After all, no one would get close enough to hear him whine, or munch on food and determine the mystery figure was indeed Kyle. Dad kept calling him the Ninja Turtle. That’s comical! The whole ride back and the week until this past weekend, Kyle was referred to as the Ninja Turtle. Sometimes dad comes up with good ones!
By 1:00 pm, we were all ready to call it a day. Even with our ponchos on, we were soaked to the bone and cold. The temperature was just warm enough to bring rain, yet cold enough to chill the body. We left without a deer, but I had some excitement.
This past Saturday, the last day of hunting season, I did see a few deer, but was not able to get a shot. One deer only showed the top of its ears and tail, too much brush to find the body, let along shoot through that mess. It does make it exciting, to see anything, even if a shot isn’t taken.
During the day I called dad to check in on him and Kyle, they were at a nearby location in a ladder stand. As I was talking, in low tones, dad responded, “I can’t really hear you, someone is chomping on trail mix in my ear.” Obviously referring to Kyle. I could tell, they both had enough. It was pretty cold and I bet the wind off of the lake, hit them hard in their stand.
Eventually, Kyle convinced dad he was too cold to hunt anymore. This time it was about 1:30 pm. Only Kyle can work his pap over to leave the woods early on the last day of hunting, without dad getting his buck.
On the ride back, dad and Kyle told me what they saw in the woods. Deer right? Nope. They saw a small hawk swoop down from the sky and grab a hold of a bluejay passing by. Both birds dropped to the ground and were wrestling. Kyle said the bluejay was screaming and squawking, but the hawk had a good grip on its victim. Dad said, “I thought that bluejay was a gonner.” It must have been an exciting sight, for Kyle and dad were consumed with the intensity of the situation while telling the story. Then, Kyle gleefully piped up saying, “Ya, and then all of a sudden the bluejay flew away and the hawk sat above us, watching us”. Dad added, “I don’t know how it got away, but the hawk wasn’t much bigger than the bluejay.” Kyle was nodding in agreement and repeated, “That hawk sat above us and watched us.” I started laughing and added, “Boy he had a big appetite, maybe he was eying YOU up Kyle.” Kyle just grinned as he reiterated the story with added details and gusto.
While pulling into mom and dad’s driveway what did we see? Not a buck, but a few does in my Uncle Walter’s field. I called out my finding to dad, who was driving. Before the words were fully out of my mouth, the truck stopped immediately, dad jumped out, loaded his rifle and scanned for deer. Kyle and I were still sitting in the truck. Kyle looked at me with wide eyes saying, “Wow! I’ve never seen pappy move that fast! I didn’t know he could load his gun that fast!” I just smiled for I’ve seen that swiftness many times before. Kyle was amazed.
At the position dad was standing he couldn’t see the deer. I took that as my cue to comment to Kyle, “What does pappy need us to draw him a map?” Eventually dad saw his target, lined up his sights, took aim and shot the doe, about a hundred yards away! Great shot in the front shoulder, but that didn’t bring it down right away, unbeknownst to us at the time.
Seeing more does, Kyle and I grabbed our rifles creeped around the small patch of woods in the field hoping to get a shot at our very own doe. What we found, surprised us both.
Dad’s deer popped up in the field, nearly twenty feet away from us, and ran across the field. She scared us both! Kyle was quick to pull up his rifle to shoot and drop the injured doe, however I stopped him. Why? He was standing at least a few feet behind me to the side. I completely trust my little man, and he is a good shot, but I don’t want him to get in that habit, it’s not safe. In all the excitement, I did explain my reasoning for stopping him. He understood, but was focused on the area the doe eventually dropped in. Kyle moved down the hill like lightening, by now dad was on his quad fast approaching us. Kyle moved in the direction of the injured deer and shot. Unfortunately, he shot her in the body, through the guts, when I told him to shoot her in the head to put her out of her misery, quickly. Kyle told me, “I saw her head in my scope.” Well, that’s not where you shot, but that’s ok buddy, good practice with free hand.
While all three of us came up on the deer, dad and I noticed she was still kind of alive. Yikes! I told Kyle, who had his rifle out and ready to fire, to shoot her in the head. He looked at me and told me to do the deed. I could tell he felt bad for the doe and couldn’t do it. Me, on the other hand, I will absolutely shoot any animal in the head to avoid suffering. I borrowed Kyle’s .243 and brought the brave animal to peace. It was an exciting end to a pretty boring day. Dad and Kyle saw nothing for the duration of the last day, until we came home.
Personally, I’m very happy to know Kyle is fully aware where the meat we consume comes from, and he is capable of survival. I am also very happy to see he has such a tender heart and didn’t like to see the deer suffer. He knows he can always count on me and his pap to help him out. He trusted us to do the right thing and fix the situation.
Overall, it was a great harvest! Now it’s time to put away the rifles until target shooting in the summer.
On a side note, while butchering the doe dad shot, Kyle responded, “It’s a good thing I got cold and came back early, huh pap?” He felt bad for wanting to leave early and was trying to justify his actions. Little does Kyle know, my dad would NEVER have that kid sit there with cold feet, even on the last day of hunting. Kyle is worth more to us than any doe or buck!
Another note, while butchering the deer, Kyle busted into Christmas songs playing on the radio. He is such a great guy! I love hanging out with him!