This was a story written by my brother John Sr. from a hunting trip when my Dad turned 80, The Original Fishing Guy. This was dad's last hunting season. I went hunting so I could be near Dad during his last few hunts.
The morning started out cool and crisp. It has been a couple of years since we have had the pleasure of snow for the first day of buck season. The family was together for the 2002 opening day for Pennsylvania whitetail deer. My son's John Jr., Jeff and my son-in-law John went up the day before to do some pre-opener scouting and to enjoy the night under the stars. My Grandson Joshua and my brother, Fishing Guy, stayed overnight at my place. Fishing Guy just started hunting again last year after not going for more than twenty-five years. Dad was at his house getting to bed early for the two-thirty a.m. wake up call.
We were up bright and early and hustling around the house to get every thing loaded in the car so we could pick up Dad by three-thirty. All loaded we headed for Dad's house and the two-hour drive to Marienville, Pennsylvania. My wife Gwen wanted to know why we would drive two hours when there are deer close to home? I told her it's been a tradition since I was twelve years old that we hunt Buzzard Swamp. I'm now 56 and have been hunting the swap for forty-four years. I shot my first buck there before it was dammed up and made into a wild life management area. My brother, both my son's and my daughter Brenda shot their first bucks there also. I was hoping that Joshua would get a crack at his first buck. He's fourteen and this would be his third year of hunting.
The road to the buzzard was slick, but with the Dodge in four-wheel drive there wasn't any problems getting back to the parking lot. There was three inches of snow on the ground witch lifted our spirits in thought of seeing a lot of deer. We piled out of the car and started getting our gear together. My son's and son in-law were just getting up and getting ready to head out for their planned hunting areas. We talked to them about their scouting the day before and they said they saw a six and four point buck. The new law required any one with a senior license to shoot a deer with no fewer than three points on one side. Since we've shot a lot of spikes through the year's and we weren't sure how many chance's we might get to shoot one with three points on one side.
We started down the trail around the lake, taking our time since dad is now eighty-one years of age and had knee replacement surgery over a year ago. He and Fishing Guy took the split to the right and they were going to hunt in the same area where dad took a doe last year and Fishing Guy missed a nice buck. The only problem was after they started into the woods Fishing Guy guided dad in a circle and they ended back on the same trail. After a little bit of discussion they started back into the woods again. This time they walked a pretty straight line and ended up where they had posted the previous year. Josh and I headed for the bottom that would take us about an hour to get there. Jeff went in further and John Jr. posted on top. My son in-law set up in the propagation area, it is legal when posted so.
Things started out slow for Josh and I, we didn't see any deer but we had a couple running just over the hill from us. I received a radio call from (FG) around nine thirty saying that Dad shot a nice buck. I told him Josh and I would be over in about an hour. I wanted to give our spot a little more time. I talked to John Jr. and he said he was seeing deer all morning and waiting for Josh to shoot. Most of us had purchased doe tags for Forest County. I told him you are not able shoot what you don't see. He said he would take Josh with him for a while and I went to talk with Dad.
I walked over to the area where I expected Dad and Fishing Guy to be and I found them close to where they had hunted last year. Dad had a very nice eight-point buck lying beside him. He told me was sitting on his stool when he heard some shots ring out from below. This brought him to full alert. He can't hear deer running anymore so he has to count on his eyesight to pick out the deer. Dad has always been an excellent shot. He has had his Remington 30-06 since before I started hunting. They say a pump action gun is not as accurate as other guns but this one is something special. Dad hits what he aims at, running or standing. I've seen him shoot deer at ranges greater than three hundred yards.
The buck came up out of the bottom at full run. The deer was at a lower elevation coming right at Dad. He said he placed the cross hairs on the neck and fired. The buck folded in its tracks. Its rack had seven-inch tines and a fourteen and one half inch inside spread. It dressed out at around one hundred and sixty pounds. That's a really big deer for an area where you usually shoot a lot of spikes and four points.
Dad has been hunting since he was sixteen years of age. He has hunted all over the western tier of Pennsylvania and this was the biggest deer he has ever shot. It's kind of poetic that a man hunted eight decade of life would get a chance to take an eight point buck and give his family such great memories. We hope to have a few more years out in these great woods together. When the time comes that he can no longer hunt anymore he will have left many lasting memories for my-self, my brother, his grandsons and great grandson. We have had so many great times together they are to numerous to count. We continue to reminisce over past hunting trips and this will be one of the best. Joshua harvested his first deer this year, a four point. How great it is that the oldest member and the youngest member of our hunting group got their bucks.
Written with love and adoration by John Sr.
P.S. Fishing Guy missed a buck for the second year in a row; He calls it his 100-dollar shot since that's what an out of state license costs him since he lives in Ohio.