While I haven’t encountered Bigfoot yet, or the mountain lions some people claim to see, or the cousin to the Loch Ness monster that allegedly pops up in the Allegheny Reservoir now and then, on most days I see ghosts on my morning walks.
I try to take a brisk walk every morning, succeeding three or four times each week. On the days I fail I my travel schedule may take the blame, or the weather, or a late night effort to meet a looming deadline, or simply my sloth. I may not walk enough to lose much extra baggage, but my three-mile jaunt keeps my legs and my back tuned up for the fast-approaching hunting season.
Although I don’t see anything of cryptozoological interest, deer and turkeys seem plentiful now. One or the other or both make an appearance nearly every morning, in addition to herons and crows, ducks and geese, and an occasional bald eagle. On one morning I saw nine deer (in three different groups) cross the road about 50 yards ahead of me in the dense morning fog. Turkeys fresh off the night’s roost may sneak across the road a hundred yards ahead. It seems as though these animals trust the thick morning vapors rising off the Conewango to safely hide them.
Last weekend I was in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania to speak at a sportsman’s dinner at Dayton United Methodist Church. On Saturday my host Dana Gould and I surveyed the area in the comfort of his Toyota Tundra. Besides plenty of deer we saw five healthy flocks of turkeys numbering from a dozen to twenty or more in each flock. The last was a flock of bachelors, six mature gobblers, feeding on apples beneath an ancient tree crowded against someone’s decrepit barn.
On Wednesday night on our way to our church study group my wife and I saw a dozen deer far out in a field. It seems as though wildlife is especially plentiful and doing extremely well this year, and seeing it in such abundance jump-starts the flow of my hunting adrenaline.
These sightings encourage any hunter who is eagerly anticipating the archery season or the gun season. We’re counting the days until we experience the excitement of scattering a fall flock of turkeys with the high-percentage odds of calling one back, or the pulse quickening snap and crackle of hoofs delicately tip-toeing through newly fallen leaves.
As hunters we know that hunting has little resemblance to the televised pursuits we see on the Sportsman’s Channel, and is nothing like the wildlife programs broadcast by National Geographic and the Public Broadcasting Service. Television seems to transform a camera and a bow into wildlife magnets.
In reality, as we go one-on-one with our quarry, the challenge is great and success is hard-earned. We fail much more often than we succeed, and the proof is in the unfilled tags. At the end of the season unfilled tags number far more than the antlers on our walls and the freezers that get filled.
In October and November my mind will drift back to these cool, misty September mornings. That’s when I’ll be tempted to believe all the wildlife I saw in September’s fog was nothing more than ghostly apparitions that came to taunt me.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting , he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.