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Sports

Passing down hunting tactics

| Friday, Jan. 21, 2005

The doctor informed me that I had at least three torn ligaments in my right ankle. Surgery would be necessary to correct the condition that made each and every step I took painful on level ground, let alone on the rough, uneven terrain of the deer woods. I decided I would continue the cortisone injections that controlled most of the swelling and put off the surgery until January, just after deer season. My last ankle mishap was more than twenty years ago.

So I limped through archery season without taking a single shot. I did enjoy the fall colors as I usually do. The change in weather from the warmth of summer to the cooler autumn season helped take the edge off the pain. I would need to be successful in the rifle season if I were to bag a deer in 2002. This was the first year in which the Pennsylvania Game Commission combined the antlered deer season along with the antlerless season. I had one tag for each.

My son Matt, on the other hand, had been quite successful in the archery season, collecting both a buck and doe. Matt would accompany me on my hunt this first Saturday of the season. An overnight snowfall greeted us with about 2 inches of white covering the ground. Like a lot of hunters, I enjoy a deer hunt in the snow. Visibility is enhanced and movement is detected much easier than from the brown and gold from the fallen leaves.

We worked the north-facing slope for a couple of hours without seeing any deer. I have hunted this hillside since I was twelve years old. My dad taught me the locations of the sneak routes the deer favored to avoid orange clad hunters. Matt would walk the area opposite these routes in attempt to push deer back in my direction.

I would sneak along the rock ledges looking for deer below. The snow was soft and allowed for quiet movement. I stepped up on a fallen tree to get a better look at a flat where I have seen deer on previous hunts. Three does stood about 100 yards away. I was sure of my background as the added height of the log enabled me too see all the way down the hill to the creek bottom. It was a long, rough walk to the bottom of the hill to inspect the result of my shot. Matt came out of the grapevines and caught up with me going to the site where the three deer had stood, just moments ago. Good sign, a definite double lung hit! Matt tracked the deer up the creek bottom, about 75 yards. My trophy doe lay next to the creek.

My dad no longer hunts, but the tactics he taught me when I was a junior hunter have proved success over and over. And weather you are the shooter or the driver, the teacher or the student, this generation or the next, if you make all your hunts special you will always find success.

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