When my son and I arrived in Pennsylvania on Sunday morning the skies were on the brightening, and the air felt crisp. It had rained earlier and the woods were full of that earthy smell that is hard to describe. We have on most years gone to scout the piece of mountain we have hunted for over 25 years, not that anything has changed, but sort of a tradition. Deer hunting is full of tradition and that's as much the magnet as harvesting a deer. We pulled into the driveway of a landowner who has allowed us to park on his land. This little gesture has paid off in letting access the state land that borders his property. We only see this gentleman once or twice a year, but are treated like family when we do.
We put on our orange jackets and began our walk up the mountain to check things out. When we reached a woods road we were surprised what we saw. The power line that had been there since the first time we came to the mountain was changed in a big way. The power company was putting a mega cable through the right a way. They had cut the trees back about 15 to 20 yards on either side. It was not the same. We did not know what effect this would have on tomorrows hunt.
The alarm went off at 3:30 AM. A fast shower and check of the weather. We had received some snow overnight and the weather for today was iffy. With the gear in the vehicle we headed for coffee and at a 24 hour Turkey Hill. The coffee was fresh and hot, and the egg sandwich tasted so good. By 4:30 we were making our way through the dark woods. A bit of rain was falling and the wet forest floor made for slippery conditions. After we arrived at our usual stands it was still quite dark. My son hunts down from me and is about 300 yards. Looking through the trees for the rock I have hunted on for years I noticed I was able to get there with out an issue. I placed my rifle on the ground and removed my pack and got comfortable. That's when the rain had turned to sleet and snow. That's deer hunting.
About 9 AM I noticed a shadow moving through a clearing. It had that stop, look and move walk of a whitetail buck. I viewed him for a while and had hoped he would turn toward me for a shot, that did not happen.
It was now 1PM and nether my son or I saw another deer. The sun had made a brief appearance and felt good. I had just finished some peanut butter crackers. When I looked up I saw a deer walking straight toward me. I estimate it was about 75 yards. I reached down for my rifle and brought it into position. The deer still hadn't picked me up. He was about 50 yards and looking at me eye to eye. I could see his tail coming up and the 243 let go. The deer dropped. I waited a few minutes and went to where it was down. He lay there, the one shot had taken him quickly. Before tagging him I said a few words of thanks to the deer and those who gave me the chance to harvest this wonderful animal.
My son soon reached me and after dressing the deer helped to move the heavy back to the vehicle. This is no easy task and I appreciate his help. All part of this tradition.
Normally the tenderloins would be eaten as soon as we got in. But this time we waited until we got home, and they were fried for breakfast with scrambled eggs. "A New Tradition Started"
The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday to most but not me, I don't like the term so I'll refer to it as the day after Thanksgiving. On this day I was to meet up with Kirk and do some fishing in a nice little small stream. The weather was "almost" perfect, that is it was sunny and oh so bright. But the air temp was pretty cold. I believe the temp never went above 32. It was a day of cleaning the ice out of the guides and trying not to slip as you moved along the streams edge.
On days like these there is incredible beauty along the walk. Ice forms on overhangs and when the sun hits it just right it's very hard to concentrate on the fishing, but that's OK.
We moved along the stream tossing various flies with some success. The trout were somewhat lethargic as expected and the hits were very subtle. There was a time when I fished a bomber and actually had several rises to the fly.
Early winter color along a decaying birch log.
I came to this run and observed what I though was foam forming at the end. Closer examination revealed it was ice which was topped off with snow. I tossed the wet fly into the run and it did not go very far before I had a solid and swift strike. Pulling back on the 2wt I felt the fish. Several moments past before a wild brown was at hand.
A wild winter brown. To try to describe the beauty of this fish without a photo could not be done.
Kirk and I continued to fish and caught several brookies. It could have been warmer this day after Thanksgiving, but not better.
With the heavy rains of Tue and Wed the streams should be in awesome shape. Good flows will hopefully get trout that were hunkered down in places where their movement was restricted due to lack of stream volume, moving again. They will be seeking food, and a nice deep pool to call home for a while. Thanksgiving dinner has settled and today I will seek the brook trout.
This is a wet fly that will see some work today. It along with a streamer, and perhaps a caddis dry and a Bomber will also be used.
With some luck the TFO 6ft 2wt will get some needed exercise, and a wild brook trout will come to hand.