Saturday, December 26, 2020

Day Trip'n


Day Trip’n



 It was that time of year between deer season and Christmas. I’ve been sitting home bored. The following Friday, Christmas, till the New Year the weather was suppose to get nasty and temperatures in the teens. I decided to take one more day trip to the Erie tribs. to fish for steelhead before the worst weather hit.

  Wednesday morning I was standing in cold tributary water on Elk creek. The temperature outside was in the upper 30’s to low 40’s when I arrived. They were calling for high winds but where I was fishing the cliff across the water and the bend in the creek flow upstream prevented the strongest of winds from sweeping across the section of water me and another fisherman were fishing. The wind gusts, from around the corner, howled in the distance like a lone coyote in a steep hollow a mile away. By the time the aftermath arrived it felt like a dry cold breeze across my face. Nothing too strong to rattle the tree branches above or hamper my roll casts but enough to dry out and stiffen my exposed cheeks. My face began to feel like a cold cardboard box left out on the front porch dusted in snow. The water was a limestone milky color. Just like the color of a pothole filled with water, in a limestone road, after a truck tire rolls through it. The creek was flowing favorably and deep enough, along with the color, to hide any steelhead hugging the bottom of the deeper pools. This was all because of the snow run off from the past few days. It was perfect conditions, in water clarity, as far a I was concerned.

  Fishing this area a couple of weeks before I knew there would be fish in this stretch of water even though they weren’t visible. It’s funny how other fishermen would pass by and comment how they haven’t seen any fish and asked if we seen any and if we caught any. After awhile I just told them the steelhead were well camouflaged this morning. The fishermen would disappear around the corner upstream and usually within an hour or so return and continue to walk behind me and downstream gazing into the water looking for fish as if a gold miner wasn’t going to pan for gold unless he saw a glimmer of a dusting. Eventually the fisherman just up creek from me, and having caught no fish, took to walking upstream also. This left me alone and I had the whole section of water to myself for some time.

  It wasn’t long before the coldness of the water began to make my feet feel frozen and numb. No matter what kind of socks I wear there is no way to keep the cold from taking its toll. The good thing, since no one was fishing around me, I had room to wade around to keep my feet moving to keep a warmer blood circulation to them. Other than that I was dressed for the conditions and didn’t really feel the coldness outside.

  Practically at the end of one drift my indicator dipped beneath the water surface and I quickly, with a jerking hook set, yanked the rod upstream. The fly line tightened and the rod bowed towards the hooked fish. My first steelhead was on. She shook the line like Santa swaying the reins trying get back to the North Pole before daylight. Then she dashed upstream in a flurry with a wake following her. We had quite a bit a go around but I managed to get her to cooperate and got her to the bank.

 Well, I was going to light up my first cigar but when I looked at my watch it was only a quarter to nine. I figured I’d wait at least till 10 to light up.

 In the next few hours I tried to tempt a few other unseen fish to take any of my different offerings. I hooked up two more times. One I was sure a foul hook. The other was a nice colorful male. He rose to the surface, after the hook up, and shook his head violently. He sped upstream just below the surface in front of a fisherman up creek from me. From there he turned and torpedoes past me and that’s when the hook came out and the rod straightened. The indicator, line and both sucker spawn flew up out of the water and twisted around a branch above me too far up to reach. When I looked up at the branches I saw other fish ornaments hanging from the limbs also. They were all shapes and sizes as well as different colors. I said to the guy upstream that it looked like a fair hook and he agreed.

  After retying on new leader and tippet I knotted on a couple more sucker spawns and continued to fish deep. When the other fisherman left I walked up creek and knotted on a streamer. I fished streamers to where I hooked up to the other fish earlier without a take. By then the sun started to rise above the cliff and through the trees across creek. The water appeared to clear up a bit. Since I hadn’t had a take for some time I decided to drop a sucker spawn on 4lb P-Line off a sparkle spawn that I had knotted to 6lb Fluorocarbon.

  Standing in one spot I tried to cover as much water as possible casting towards the far bank to just short in the deeper water before me. I would cast up creek, making big mends at times, so my indicator would drift downstream with my fly line trailing. On one occasion the indicator dipped and I let it stay under just a tad longer than usual because I knew there was a snag beneath in the area the indicator dipped. The indicator didn’t continue to drift down creek so I gave an upward tug on the rod but not strong enough that I thought would cause the 4lb tippet to break off. The line tightened and I could feel the rod bow down in the midsection almost forcing my wrists to unlock when the line took off upstream. I raised the rod a little higher to cut down on the resistance of the fly line through the water. As he passed me he rose just below the surface and I saw his long body. From there he dropped a little deeper and was headed to a rocky ledge visible upstream, from where I stood, below the surface. I tried to turn him with the rod facing somewhat down creek. I knew I couldn’t put too much pressure thinking he took the sucker spawn on the 4 lb Fluorocarbon. He turned down creek and stopped in front of me shaking his head and somersaulting like an old synchronized swimmer that may have participated in the Olympic games in his younger days. He wasn’t quick in doing his somersaulting as I watched him but was trying his best to get himself free of the line. His dull pink lateral line stretched from his tail to his brighter pink gill plate. His long body wasn’t as bright as the male steelhead I lost earlier but was more of a dingy color that I figured been in the creek for sometime. Either way it looked to be one of the lengthiest steelhead I had ever caught. Thinking he took the sucker spawn on the 4lb tippet I took my time and let him tire himself out before trying to coax him in too quickly. There was no one around within vision so I was on my own trying to land him without anyone to net him for me.

  As we battled I would tighten the drag at times and loosen at times depending on his forceful runs. Most of the time I had the rod butt in my gut with my two hands gripping the cork and just letting him swim fighting the tightened drag and arcing rod resistance. When he came to the surface, at times, he still had enough energy to give a few jolting head shakes before dropping below and swimming. There were times I thought he wasn't going to tire like a Christmas toy with fresh batteries.   While we were in the scuffle I waded backward towards the bank. When I would get him near the shallow water I was standing in he would force his way outward and downstream some. I had to keep him from reaching the shallower riffles downstream at all cost. I moved the rod downstream and towards the bank trying not to give him any more line. He splashed water about and got a spurt of energy to swim away from the shallows. I gave him a little line but kept the rod bowed in a good arc. He finally gave in, or I just kept enough pressure on him, that I got him to the bank. He was pretty tuckered out like a tired old beagle after running a rabbit through a grown up thicket. 

 I didn’t waste any time in taking a quick picture and getting the Sparkle spawn out from his tongue. He had taken the top spawn on the 6lb tippet and not the dropper off the 4lb. I dipped him in shallow water where he would be able to swim out of. Moving him, to push water through his gills, he revived enough and after I felt a good tail swat I let him swim out of my grip. He swam out of the shallow water a bit and rested in water deep enough he was fully submerged below the surface. It was if he couldn’t believe, after all the fighting he had done, that I released him and he wasn’t going to be Christmas dinner.

  I let him rest there while I lit up a cigar before wading out towards him. He nonchalantly swam away once I got nearer to him.

 I fished about another hour or so after that without a hook up. I wondered up stream and while I was fishing a long time acquaintance, and his son, happen by. We recognized each other right off. After chatting a bit I climbed the bank and headed downstream. When I got to where I hooked up to the steelhead earlier there was a guy and his son fishing the same area. I looked up in the tree branches, where I had lost the sucker spawn earlier, and some of the hanging fishing lures and spawn where sparkling like hanging ornaments on a Christmas tree.   

  Hey, I had fun and called it a day. By then it was around 2:30. I had a couple hour drive home so I headed to the truck.





Saturday, December 19, 2020

Last Buck of Ludlow


The Last Buck of Ludlow


 Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s I use to hunt with my Grandpa Pete. I hunted anterless deer season with him every year but buck hunting was every other year. This gave me opportunity to buck hunt other areas with friends. We hunted out of a camp up on German Hill in Tionesta. There was usually at least 7 of us for doe season and buck season was always questionable who would show up. We hunted the same area in the forest near Ludlow for buck season, at least for the first day. Some of the young hunters didn’t care much for Ludlow being we didn’t see many deer there. Even though some of the guys got a buck there they nicknamed it Dudlow because of what they considered the lack of deer. I had taken a few bucks there as well as did the camp owner Mario.

  Camp life was always enjoyable back then. I was in my late teens and early 20’s when I hunted out of the camp with Grandpa and the gang. It was fun listening to the conversations, discussions and of course arguments. I was kind of quiet back then and was more of an observer in camp then a talkative conversation kind of person.

  The usual people that came to camp were aged from the oldest, being my Grandfather, to the youngest in their late teens in the early days. Mario, or Beaver as he was called, was the owner of the camp and leader of our hunting party. He built the camp when he was younger with the help of friends I’ve been told. My Grandfather and him had a special relationship that went back to when Mario was growing up. Mario’s nephews usually showed up that included Big Louie, the older nephew that I referred him as, little Louie, who I referred to because he was younger than big Louie and Jeffery who is little Louie’s younger brother. Then there was Pressure Cooker Pete S. who always brought his pressure cooker along to cook the pasta sauce on Sunday. Dan usually came in from Ohio who was an in-law. One of the twins, Carmen usually showed up every year and sometimes his twin brother Joe would show up for doe season. The other occasional hunters that would spend time at the camp with us was Jerry H., Butch S. and Tommy K. and his son. Tommy owned a sub shop in downtown Sharon. When Tom showed up we had plenty of specialty sandwich meat and good fresh cheeses. Tom was usually the cook also when he came. Mario, Grandpa and I were always there come doe season. As I said before I showed up every other year for buck season. Even though Grandpa and I wasn’t related to the rest of the group the younger folks still called him Grandpa. Mario used to call my Grandfather Peter 1-8. Never knew what the 1-8 meant but it’s something they both knew about. All these memories of camp life will remain with me forever.

  We never hunted Ludlow during doe season because we got tags for Forest County back then and Ludlow was in McKean County. When we did hunt it it was during buck season. Mario had his favorite spot to hunt from and would find that same spot next to a big old downed tree up on the saddle as he called it. Every year no matter how dark it was we’d find the spot. It was quite a hike to get there. Grandpa and I would always follow him and once we reached his spot I would continue on about 200-300 yards or so to an area I posted up every year. I remember of each dark morning I would hear Mario breaking sticks and limbs building a big fire for Grandpa to sit and keep warm by. Now you would think this would spook the deer throughout the day with the fire and all. Maybe it did to some extent but there was a day I watched a nice buck walking towards Mario and Grandpa. It was much closer to them so I had no intentions on shooting. I watched this buck get closer and closer, even though Mario and Grandpa had a fire going, until I heard Mario’s 30-06 boom. The buck fell immediately and then got up. I laughed to myself as I watched it trying to walk, much like a drunk person, until it fell over a few feet away.

  As myself I had taken a few bucks there while both of them were still alive. After they passed away I still visited and hunted the area at least once or twice a year. My oldest son got his first buck there and also my youngest son got his first buck in the same general area when they were young. My other son, Giddeon, had enough patience to pass up a cigarette head spike even though it was a chance to shoot his first buck.

  Grandpa passed away back in 1990 at the age of 89. The last few years he still came to camp but usually stayed in camp while we hunted due to his old age. He was healthy within but he knew his legs and body wasn’t for hunting anymore. Mario passed away in 1997 at the age of 72. After Grandpa died I never stayed at camp or hunted out of it. I did however meet them during buck or doe season where they were hunting. By then my boys were of age to hunt and we would hunt together. Sometimes we would meet the old gang but other times we were on our own.

  Like I said before, even to this day, I take a day to visit that same area either to hunt it or just to rekindle the memories while hiking. It still gives me chills visiting that same location in Ludlow.

  Two of my favorite buck hunts, after they passed away, was a couple of 8 points I shot while hunting by myself. The first was an eight point that I was posted between Mario’s spot and where I usually posted up back in November of 2000. It was the first day of buck season and I was leaning up against a tree. About 8:00 a buck came trotting down, from where I usually sit, and crossed about 100 yards or so broadside of me. The 300 Savage hit him squarely behind the shoulder. The buck went down but got up again and continued to trot/run away as I remember. There was no snow on the ground but I do remember I tracked him for a couple of hundred yards if my memory is correct. When it came to a little creek I couldn’t find any more blood. I continued in a straight path from his previous trail and found him within a few yards of the creek. It wasn’t a trophy buck by any means but it was the biggest buck I had gotten at the time. It meant more to me as a buck that I had gotten in memory of my Grandfather and Mario in that area that I got it mounted.


 My other favorite Ludlow buck season hunt didn’t last too long. It also was the last buck I had shot in the Ludlow forest in that general area back in 2002. My memory recalls it going something like this;

  I awoke in my van to the darkness of the early morning parked in a small opening off the dirt road. After a cup of hot tea and a donut breakfast I put on my warm undergarments and dressed in my Woolrich hunting clothes. When I stepped outside it was a chilly damp morning. If I recall correctly the snow had melted and with the warmer temperature I was able to feel that dampness in the air. I attached my hot seat to my belt, fastened the fanny pack around my waist and took out the trusty 300 Savage. Before starting to walk I checked my compass and then started my hike to where I wanted to sit. The ground and wet leaves made for a quiet walk except for an occasional stick that may of snapped when I walked upon them. When I got to the area I usually post at I decided to keep on walking and find a spot up near the saddle of the ravine. When I felt I was around the area I wanted to sit I loaded the rifle, brushed off some of the wet leaves next to the tree and sat down on my hot seat in the darkness.

  It’s an eerie feeling sitting in a dark forest in the early morning. You hear things that you don’t really know what is making the noises. You envision it’s animals but it just might be a branch that fell to the ground some distance away that startles you. Sometimes you’ll hear movement in the thicker saplings that just might be a breeze passing through rattling the dried leaves on the branches. Then there’s the visions and thoughts that run through your head like daydreaming but now in total darkness in a place no one actually knows you are there. It sounds like kind of a risk taking but us hunters do it so many times it becomes second nature and not as scary as it may sound.

  I sat quietly waiting for the first signs of daylight. The moon above gave me some indication of my surrounding. Trees, trees and more trees. Looking up the limbs branched out in all directions beneath the starless gray sky. A cold damp breeze would waft through the air and carry with it aromas of pine and old forest mildew. I huddled with my collar up trying to keep the cold wind from entering inside my hunting coat. When the first sign of daylight came, enough to see down the saddle of the bowl that sloped down towards the steep ravine, I looked out into the vast area looking for movement.

  I always taught my kids it is hard to pick out a deer standing in a wooded forest. Your eyes and the forest tree trunks, broken fallen limbs and boulders play trick on you. Instead you slowly gaze out and look for movement. Once you see, what you think is movement, you concentrate on that until you figure out what it might be. It could be just a fluttering of a bird. Maybe a hanging tree branch that sways with each gust of wind. Maybe a squirrel scampering or maybe a deer.

  Looking down the bowl a fog rolled across caused by the cold ground and warmer temperature outside I suppose. I’m sure the wet ground had a lot to do with the misty fog also. It was so thick, as I recall, it was hard to see just a few yards in front of me. I could feel the misty droplets on my skin and the dampness that came along with it. It would last a few minutes or so as it slowly moved out of the area with a push from a gentle breeze. I would just bow my head and close my eyes as if resting when I was no longer able to see because of the fog. Every few seconds though I would open an eye just enough to peer out to see if the fog was gone. This happened over and over again as the morning got lighter. On one occasion I opened my eyes and there was this buck walking straight towards me up the bowl. He was no more than 70 yards or so when the misty fog cleared. His nose was towards the forest floor and he slowly was walking his way right towards me. His antlers curved symmetrically above his ears. I lifted the 300 to my shoulder slowly and put the crosshairs on his nose waiting for him to lift his head enough that I could get a good shot in that soft spot between his front shoulders. I knew he would be a nice wall mount and didn’t want a head shot. Patiently I waited as he continued towards me as his head was getting bigger and bigger in my 4x9 Weaver scope. He finally stopped and picked up his head. I already had the safe off. I whispered good-bye and pulled the trigger. The 300 boomed and I saw the buck fall within my scope. He fell like a 50 pound sack of chicken feed off the back of a farm wagon. My heart was racing as I recall and I sat motionless waiting for him to get up besides trying to calm my nerves. It was so quiet after the shot I could feel and swear hear my heart thumping with every beat. He just laid there without a twitch. I took a breath and lowered the rifle. Once my nerves calmed down and I could see he wasn’t getting up I stood. He was so close I stepped off the distance between him and I. My normal walking pace from step to step is no where near a yard. I took 30 steps and stood over the 8 point. I looked at my watch and it was 7:30 in the morning. My hunt was over.


 That was the last buck I shot in the forest of Ludlow. As I said before I still hunt the area at least once a year. The past year, in 2019, I hunted all day there in anterless season. I saw a group of three doe running but none of them stopped for a shot. This past season, 2020, I hunted there all day in doe season. There were plenty of deer tracks in the snow but I never saw a deer. I never saw a hunter in the area either though I heard vehicles driving up and down the dirt road most of the day. It was like this small area we hunted wasn’t visited or hunted by other hunters. Kind of like a vacant lot in the old neighborhood that once a group of kids played baseball or football in every year that now has been abandoned over time. Well ‘I’ still visit it.

  There still might not be many deer in that area we used to hunt but there’s lots of memories still there! 



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Shy 9 and the Savage


A Shy 9 and the Savage


 We got out later than we wanted to but it was still dark enough a flashlight was needed to find our way to our stands the first day of Pennsylvania buck season. The ground was still soft from recent rain, like walking on a new 2" gymnasium tumbling mat, so we weren’t to noisy walking through the forest. One thing in my favor was that I actually found the trees I marked a week before that I wanted to sit by on opening day without roaming around. Unlike the past two years I couldn’t find the trees I marked though I knew I was in the same general area. This time I found my spot.

 I cleared the sticks away from where my feet would be while sitting and brushed the leaves away from the tree trunk where I put my hot seat. I buttoned up my Woolrich shirt and zipped up my orange Parka. I wiped off the sweat from my brow from the walk in and settled in my outdoor man made den for the morning hunt. I had my rifle loaded, my food, drinks and snacks for the time being. All I needed was a rack on the tree to complete my outdoor man cave!

  It was slowly getting lighter out but not light enough to make out anything over 25 yards or so on this side of the mountain. Up the ridge behind me I heard a deer snort but it was too dark to see any movement. Just before it got light enough to see 50 yards or so a squirrel started barking in a tree somewhere near. Maybe he was an early riser and couldn’t wait to broadcast the weather for the day. Or maybe he was just wanting a mate to go to breakfast with? Whatever the reasoning he chattered for a few minutes or so and then was quiet. Once it got light enough to see a fair distance the crows brought in the new day noisily, while flying overhead, as if to wake up the other wildlife in the forest. Other than that the woods was quiet except when a gust of wind would blow through the pines and rattle the leaves on the small branches of the Beech saplings. The rattling caused awareness at first but I kind of got used to it and was sure I would know the difference if an animal was coming through.

  The Beech tree sapling were thick just downhill to my left as I stationed myself looking downhill and slightly to my right. There was a long blow down on my extreme right that was held up by branches at about a 30 degree angle with the top branches of the tree facing uphill. I was able to see between the up-sticking branches but to shoot between the branches wouldn’t be practical. I could see along the bench below me and a little further down the hill if something should move through. Behind me it was pretty clear without any thick brush for about 100 yards or so. Above that was the top of the mountain and blue skies. To my left I would have to turn around the tree and could see about 100 yards or so but there were tree obstacles and boulders to obstruct some of my vision. I was still happy with my position hunkered down or standing up. The temperature was in the lower 40’s, I would have guessed, and the wind gusts made it feel a little colder than that. When I leaned my back up against the tree I could feel the cold sweat on my clothes upon my back from climbing the hill in the morning. Other than that I was as comfortable as I figured I could be without staring a fire or having a beer in my outdoor man quarters.

  The first thing that caught my eye was a gray squirrel  moseying along upon the forest floor and scampering upon downed tree limbs. A few small birds chirped and fluttered as they continued on their journey searching for food I presume. The shooting started about 8 I would say. Most of it was down below to my left where Jeff said he would be. There was a lot more shooting, single shots, than I ever witnessed this side on the mountain in all the years I’ve been hunting here. No shots where very close that got me real excited though I did keep my guard up.

  The first deer I saw came up to the bench below me to my right. She stopped about 130 yards or so and gazed up the mountain side. Her coat was brown. Not a tan or gray brown but simply brown like a Colorado Maduro tobacco leaf wrapper brown. When she turned to look behind her I thought maybe she was being followed by a buck. She stood there for a short bit then continued to trot and leap over downed logs to my right through the blow downs. I kept my focus on where she first appeared hoping to catch a glimpse of maybe a buck following her. I watched for about 10 minutes, I’d say more or less, until I turned my attention elsewhere. There was a shot down hill from where she came from before she appeared. Maybe the buck got shot or scared off from a missed shot that he took off in a different direction. I happen to turn and look around the tree I was sitting next to and saw two deer, both doe, within 30 yards of me just uphill from a big boulder. They saw me immediately and skedaddled in the opposite direction. How deer can sneak up that close without hearing them is incredible. They have 4 hooves compared to my two feet and they can walk upon the branchy, leafy, forest floor practically without a sound!

  With the recent activity of deer sightings and an occasional gun shot I stood up to get a better view of my surroundings. I figured where the doe spooked there wasn’t going to be any deer coming from that direction any time soon but I was wrong. From out of the thick Beech saplings, about 80-90 yards away, a buck showed up a few minutes later. His cigarette head antlers curved upward a piece with a ‘y’ just about forming off his main thin beams. I couldn’t see any brow tines but the rack he sported was a little on the shaky side for me to be sure he was legal. Besides that he looked to be a young buck and the cigar diameter rack didn’t appeal to me. Not that I’m picky, well, maybe I am a bit and I’ll just leave it at that. He looked as if he was spooked as he took a few steps up hill and stopped as if he was uncertain of continuing. After he went about another 10 yards he turned and went back into the thick Beech saplings and disappeared for good. That was my whole excitement for the morning.

  Around 11:00 I got up and walked towards the blow downs to see what was on the other side of the blow down on my extreme right. I stood for about 10-15 minutes but didn’t see anything moving. As before, in the past, I decided to stealthily walk the bench I was on towards the direction that the two doe spooked to. In the past I have got 3 bucks in that general direction.

  I maybe walked about a couple hundred yards when another hunter was walking down the mountainside towards my direction. We talked a bit and he was headed down towards the pipe line where Jeff and I came in from in the morning. After he left I changed my plan. He had just come from the area I was going towards. I figured there was no use to keep on going where he might have spooked any deer in the area. Instead I figured I’d head back and just stay were I planted myself in the morning. I seen a few deer there and didn’t see any hunters around. I figured the only reason there wasn’t much shooting around me was because there weren’t anyone up this high. I took my time and returned to my outdoor den. I sat down, ate a sandwich, drank some water and had a mini candy bar for lunch. I leaned back against the tree and listened for any activity within ear shot while continuing to search the area within vision.

  I guess it was about 1:00 when I got up to stretch my legs. I was looking down the hill when I heard some rustling and saw movement in the sapling thicket. A brown body was moving, more than a walk, through the saplings and I caught sight of his antlers. I lifted the lever action with the butt up against my shoulder ready! My left shoulder was up against the tree for steadiness with my left hand holding the forearm. My right thumb wrapped around the top of the neck of the rifle stock as my palm gripped the neck and three fingers wrapped and gripping through the lever. My itchy trigger finger was ready to slip back the safe as it was tapping on the trigger guard. If he continued up hill he’ll clear the thick saplings and I’ll get a clearer shot at him nearly broadside. Instead he turned towards me a bit and was moving a little faster. I picked out a window of opportunity between two tall trees that I was hoping he would appear. Sure enough he was coming through. I flipped the safe off the lever and when the cross hairs was on brown I pulled the trigger. The 300 Savage boomed. I didn’t see the buck fall but he did disappear with the shot. Instinctively I chambered another round and waited. The last I saw of him was that he leaped over something in the thick brush but it was too thick and he was moving too fast to try to shoot through for a good shot. Somewhere beyond I heard him crash down. I was pretty sure I hit him and when I heard the crashing noise in the saplings I was pretty sure he was down. I figured I’d wait the 15 to 20 minutes before I’d start to look for him. This way it will give him time to lay down and die and not be pushed. That waiting game changed when within 10 seconds I heard a shot down below. My heart just dropped like if going back to the river, after taking a wizz in the woods, and finding someone stole your fly rod and knowing you’ll never get it back. All that went through my mind at first was the buck stumbled down hill and someone saw it and shot it. I quickly picked up the brass casing, clamped the hot seat to my belt loop and snapped the fanny pack around my waist. I didn’t walk towards where I initially shot the buck or actually where I heard the crashing commotion within the saplings. I was headed straight down to where I heard the last shot. After I cleared the first section of the young leafy saplings there was a trail that ran along the ridge between the section I just walked through and the next group of thick saplings down hill. When I looked to my left to see how far the trail went I saw a brown body sprawled out along a fallen tree limb. I picked up my lever action and looked through the scope. I saw my buck quietly ‘dirt napping’ as some may say. 


 My heart moved back in place and my frowning turned into a big smile. When I got to the buck I was as happy and excited as a kid getting his first Red Ryder BB gun on his 10th birthday from his grandfather. No matter how old I get the excitement doesn’t cease. He sported a good solid rack for a mountain buck. 4 distinguished points on each side with a questionable point on his left beam. The brow points were a bit crooked and I noticed both ears were sliced a little. This guy has been in some battles with other bucks no doubt.


 After field dressing him it was near 1:30. I filled out the tag and twist tied it to his ear. I looked down hill and grabbed his antlers and started the drag down towards the pipe line. At 2:00 I got on the walkie-talkie to see if my son Giddeon or Jeff was on the air. Jeff answered and I said I could use some help getting the buck to the pipe line. I told him I’d blow my whistle in about 5 minutes so he could figure out my location. He told me to give him ten. It wasn’t long before I saw 4 hunters on the pipe line below. I blew the whistle and one of them, Jeff, started to come up towards me. When he reached me he said that after I shot a smaller basket rack 8 point buck ran down the hill and an older gent got him. That was the shot I heard after mine. Jeff also told me he hit a buck around 8:00 coming towards him. He took the shot and the deer took off away from him. He followed the blood trail a good piece and found pieces of bone but never came upon the buck. He said the whole time he followed the blood trail, that wasn’t easy to locate at times, the buck didn’t go down or up hill it just continued along the bench. After a while he lost the trail and gave up. I know Jeff doesn’t give up easy. Stuff like that happens. I’ve tracked wounded deer in my time that I never found.

  Jeff grabbed an antler and we got him to the pipe line. From there I took my time dragging the buck to the road and then to the truck. By the end of the day neither my son Giddeon saw a buck nor did Jeff get another shot at one.

  Back at camp we toasted to my success and ate a venison roast that had been cooking in the crock pot. Of course that night I got a fire going in the fire pit outside and smoked a rewarding cigar. We sat around the fire drinking beers and having some good old camp talk under a full moon lit sky.

 The next day Giddeon and Jeff hunted the same area while I tried moving deer to them. It was like the deer left the area. I did come across a buck rub within 10 yard of the gut pile from my buck. He won’t be making any more of them!




Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Fast and Furious


Evening with Fast and Furious



 Early morning we found the crick water a little higher than the day before figuring it was from the snow melt. Yesterday was a tough and challenging day. The water, besides being low, was pretty much gin clear. The steelhead were easy to spot but weren’t too willing to eat. We all caught at least one steelhead fairly hooked but from early morning till almost the end of daylight wasn’t that rewarding as far as hook ups go.

  This morning we found the crick stained from the melting snow run off. It kindly resembled the color of a cup of watered down artificial chocolate milk mix. 2 out of three of us caught at least one fish in the morning/noon hours. We were surprised we didn’t catch more being the conditions looked more favorable then the day before. Just after noon Jeff and I went back to camp for lunch and I took a quick nap to give my bones and back a rest. Early evening, around 2:00, I decided to go back out and give it another try. Jeff was still hurting some and decided to stay at camp and take it easy.

  When I got to the same place we fished in the morning there were only a couple fellows fishing the same area. One was upstream where the water turned a bend into a wavy surface entering the long stretch of water I’d be fishing in and the other fellow was fishing the tail-out. The water was still chocolate milky stained but I was able to see the ledges of rock formations below the surface. I knotted on a crystal sparkle spawn and dropped a cream sucker spawn below that.

  The air was cool with the sun above but not giving up much warmth. I could feel the sweat on the middle of my back but it was from the long walk in more than from the outside temperature. I was dressed for the evening weather once the sun dropped over the tree line so I was quite warm when I arrived.

  Like trout fishing I don’t start making long casts across stream to more fishing looking holds. Instead I’ll gradually cast close and further my casts as time goes on. In this way I’m not spooking fish nearer to me with the slapping or drifting of fly line over their heads.

  My first few casts were just out and upstream from where I stood in knee deep water. The current wasn’t very fast this close but I waited patiently for my indicator to drift far past me before each additional cast to not disturb the water in front of me. My forth cast was an easy roll cast up crick almost midstream. I made a short loop mend upstream and my tear drop indicator quickly straightened almost perpendicular upon the water surface telling me that my sucker spawn was pretty much near bottom. As my line was nearing a bottom ledge my indicator faintly dipped down and I reacted with a quick lift of the rod tip holding the fly line pinched between my fingers. The rod tip section arced with a tight line. I gripped the cork more tightly. The indicator popped out of the water as the tapered leader cut across the water surface, upstream, like a wire cheese cutter through a brick of cheese. The steelhead sped passed me, up crick, in a straight path and the speed of a fletched arrow on target to a kill zone. Once upstream the steelhead swan towards the far cliff and took tensioned line off the spool. The spool handle spun like a wooden well crank as a filled bucket falling freely down the well shaft. Once she was near the far bank she turned and sped down crick in the same manner. I tried to keep the rod tip arced with line tension as I cranked line on the spool as quick as an automatic retractable tape measure. The steelhead returned down crick about where I hooked her at. She fought with forceful tugs beneath the surface and her antics disturbed the water surface giving away her underwater position. We played a healthy game of give and take as she raced up and down the water column. Gradually her speed slowed and when I saw her swimming just below the surface I had a feeling she was tiring. I backed up towards the bank and she didn’t give up much of a fight before I got her to the bank-side. She wasn’t a big steelhead in length but her girth showed she had been eating well in the lake.


 After I released her I cleared the dirt from the cream sucker spawn and continued my quest for another after I lit up a rewarding cigar.

  Roll cast after roll cast I dropped the spawn further out in the water. I watched to make sure my drift was far enough and avoiding the sharp ledges beneath. I switched to a couple other colors and without a take just went back to my original combination.

  I made a short cast out about a quarter of the way across the crick. I watched the indicator drift this side of a ledge. The indicator was just about over the ledge when it was pulled under. I yanked the rod upward hoping I didn’t catch the ledge. When the line took off upstream, with the rod bowed and line tightened like a banjo string, I knew I had another steelhead on the line. Maybe not as quick as the last but the force and tugs it showed while swimming upstream was enough to tell me it was a little heavier than the previous one I had caught. I gripped the cork handle with both hands and let it take line out of the reel. It didn’t swim as far upstream but when it decided to turn down crick it did it with a quick U-turn and a healthy jerk of the line. The rod tip flexed instantly and rebounded quickly pointing and following the steelhead down crick. At a moments noticed it held itself below and started furious head shakes and thrusts on the tight line. I felt every jolting tug in my clinched hands like trying to hold onto a 5 year old having a temper tantrum in the toy aisle. It seemed like minutes of the furious fighting of line and rod before he swam towards the far bank and with enough force I had to let more tensioned line out. For a while we played the up-crick, down-crick melee until he finally gave up some leverage and I was able to bring him closer as I backed up a bit. When he reached the leafy bottom though it wasn’t something he liked at all. He forcefully swam outward bending the flexed rod deep. It was a good thing I didn’t tightened the drag at some point and I was glad I had the fighting butt in my gut for leverage. It took a couple of trying forceful pulling on my part to finally get the steelhead safe and secure near the bank. The cream sucker spawn was just barely hanging on to the top lip of the steelhead. Any more fighting might have loosened the hook set and I would of never landed him.


 Well, by nightfall I only had one more missed opportunity downstream. It was in real slow current and I was getting quite a few snags on the bottom. At one point my indicator dipped down and returned to the surface as if the sucker spawn bumped a stick beneath. I raised the rod up to avoid the snag and to my surprised a steelhead rose to the surface. When I went to set the hook with a forceful yank of the rod the hook came loose and my spawn, leader and indicator ended up twisted in an overhanging tree branch. Light was fading fast so by the time I got everything retrieved it was too dark to fish any further. I headed through the woods and across the field to the truck.

  At camp Jeff had a nice fire going in the fire ring. We sat around enjoying a couple of beers before dinner!


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

White Death Zonker Tute


White Death Zonker Tute

This is a White Death Zonker that is a staple for Erie Trib. Steelhead fishing and also works for trout.

Hook; # 8 Mustad 9671, 2x or 3x long 

Butt; Orange Thread

Body; Mylar Tubing

Overwing; Micro Rabbit Strip

Head; Black Thread Tapered


1. Thread base hook shank to back bend of hook with orange thread.


2. Body; Slip Mylar tubing around and to the bend of hook shank. Tie down with orange thread. (I knot this down with a whip finish or half hitch.


3. Overwing. Tie in rabbit strip over Mylar with orange thread as shown. Make a visible orange band and leaving a tail behind hook bend. Knot down and cut orange thread. I dab a little head cement on thread.


4. Tying front of Mylar; Trim Mylar behind eye of hook and thread wrap over Mylar behind eye of hook with black thread.


5. Trim front of rabbit strip to a point behind eye.


6. Wrap black thread around front of rabbit strip making a tapered head. Whip finish and dab with head cement.


7. Trim tail to desired length about ¼” to 1/2” behind tail.


8. White Death Wet





Sunday, October 25, 2020

Nothing Fancy


Nothing Fancy



 With a little bit of rain the creeks came up. With a little bit of sun, a good mild stogie, some patience and a couple of no nonsense streamers the day went well.

  For the first few hours I and two other fellows I met in the parking area weren’t producing any fish. None of us could even say we confidently had a strike other than maybe a leaf or two. We all started with some kind of streamers and than switched to nymphs or just bottom drifting some other kind of pattern. Still we couldn’t produce anything.

  By early morning it was heating up fast with the clouds moving out of the full view of the sun. If it wasn’t for the cool water flow we were wading in we would have probably felt like marshmallows melting in a cup of hot chocolate. We ended up heading down to the faster flow of water where the two fellows started in the morning. They waded and fished along the bank side while I waded out towards the opposite side of the creek. It was maybe a half hour or so after that I finally hooked up with the first trout. The brown trout took a Woolly Bugger on the end of the swing. The water couldn’t of been no more than knee deep and strewn with small boulders and rocks. It surprised me but I was able to get a good hook set and bring the brown trout to the net.


 Well, with that catch it gave us all a little more confidence that the trout might decide to start feeding. It took some time before the next catch though.

  The guys had broke for lunch but I stayed fishing. There was a run of white water up creek so I decided to give it a try. I switched to a White Death, nothing too extreme or fancy. Just a pattern that is more noted for steelhead fishing up in the Erie Tribs. I cast it out near the far bank and would let it tumble and drift hopefully beneath the white water so a trout can see it. My second cast plopped the streamer in the slower current near the far bank. My fly line quickly caught the current and the streamer swiftly flowed into the white water rapids. I felt the sharp tug and reared back enough to get a hold of a frisky trout. I gripped the cork handle tightly and kept the rod about level with the water surface hoping the trout wouldn’t come to the rough water surface. The trout fought like a mutt not wanting to go in its pen on a tight leash. (I don’t own a dog but I seen this happen quite a few times.). I wasn’t too sure I could bring him out of the white water but I was happy enough at that point to at least tag another trout.

 I got him coming upstream and finally across from me. I turned the rod downstream and towards the bank behind me. He turned and swam down with the current until the pressure of the arced rod was too much for him. He turned facing upstream and I was able to get him between me and the bank where the water wasn’t as fast flowing. A quick sweep with my net and I had the frisky fighting rainbow safely in the confines of the net.


 After the release I slowly fished my way down, casting in the white water, hoping for another take. A little down further the white water turned into a good flowing wavy current. I could see some calmer sections here and there and spent time trying to fool another. I missed a take only because I thought I had a good size flowing leaf caught on the White Death. When I raised my rod, trying to release it, a fish splashed the surface and threw the hook. I learned a quick lesson to not assume every little jolt was a leaf. I worked the white water and rough current for some time before the other two fellows came back from lunch.

  We were talking across the creek while I was casting the streamer in the same area I caught the brown trout. I could see the boulders and flat rocks below the surface out pretty far. I maneuvered the streamer around the rock obstacles using the rod tip as a guide. The floating fly line drifted over the submerged boulders and rocks as the leader, tippet and streamer curry combed the area below. I felt the sharp tug and instinctively set the hook with a tight pull of the fly line and a sharp wrist set. The trout splashed on the surface immediately and submerged pulling and tugging the line and leader like a free flowing heavy twisted branch in a fast current. I got him under control and kept the rod tip higher enough to keep the line from rubbing up against any of those rock/boulder hazards. I got the rainbow netted with the streamer hanging out of its upper lip. 


 It didn’t look as wild as the others as it’s rainbow colors and body showed no sign of a long time inhabitancy. It did fight aggressively as the others though.

  It wasn’t long after that the other fellows left. I believe one of the guys did catch a trout. After they left I waded across creek and fished for another hour or so where the other fellows fished. I caught sight of a few splashes as if trout were feeding in the shallower water maybe going after minnows escaping just under the surface. I spent a half hour or so trying for one to attack my streamer with no takes. I hooked the streamer to my hook keeper on the rod shaft and called it a day. On the bank I took the time and looked around at the beauty of Autumn around me.

  Being Mid-October I didn’t really know what to expect but it turned out to be a beautiful day to fish and enjoy the outdoors!



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A Calm Along the River


A Calm Along the River 



 The greens of summer, along the river and mountainside, are changing like magic into the bright colors of Autumn. Yellow, tan and red leaves start to cover the landscape from branchy hardwoods leaving the old reliable Hemlocks and fir trees to dot the land in their olive and green boughs. Acorns fall to Earth when hasty winds rattle the branches of the older Oak trees. Some fall upon the stony banks while others plop into the river water like the sounds of sugar cubes dropped into a cup of hot tea. Blankets of light grayish clouds move above like lazy smoke drifting with a breeze from chimney tops. Birds chirp here and there but it is the crows that loudly caw out like roosters on an early sunrise to bring in a new day.

 A drizzle of rain starts to fall from the sky like fine granules of powdered sugar sprinkled on top of buttered waffles. I cast my offering, from a fly line and tapered leader, into the lazy flowing river. Sometimes I cast a silver popper upon the water and strip it back with intermittent tugs imitating a dying bait fish struggling on the water surface. I’ll cast Woolly Buggers and let them drift or swing in the current like a night crawler or crayfish caught in the undercurrent. The line pulls away and I yank the rod upward. The rod tip arcs when the line tightens. A fish fights in the current as I play him to tire. My one hand tight around the cork grip and my other palms the spool to control the tension of the line. I wind in line on the spool as the fish swims up river. He pulls and fights the line below the surface with sharp tugs. I draw him to my net and lift the rod. The smallmouth splashes along the water surface till I scoop him up in my waiting net. I grin at the river smallie.

  After releasing him I take out a robusto stogie from my rain jacket and cup my hands to protect the flame from the oncoming breeze. Smoke travels with the breeze from the burning embers of the lit cigar.


 I wade and move slowly, in knee deep water, casting out into the river. I watch my line as the streamer swings. I switch to a popper hoping to bring a bass to the surface but it doesn’t happen. An hour or so goes by and I only have one small bass I can record as a catch.

  My stomach growls with hunger. I attach the hook to the hook keeper and make my way up the boulder strewn bank side to the road and then to the camper. The sun shines from over the mountain tops. Wet leaves glisten with the reflecting sun and scurry with the breeze. All’s quiet. there’s a calm in the air.