Last week, my readers read excerpts from an old article of mine callws “Ronnie’s Dumplings” first published in 1976 in the Pennsylvania Game News. This week I’d like to continue the story telling of what makes hunting such a pleasure to me.
I think what started me thinking about these stories was a pot of chicken and dumplings my daughter cooked up a few weeks ago. The memories include Ed Haley and Cuddy telling the rookie hunter that rabbits climb trees, Charlie trying to outrun a herd of deer and the bear in the garbage can.
And then there was a trip to McKean County in search of turkeys which I will never forget. I was hunting with Ron Small and Dave George. This was to be a one-day affair, so we had driven north from Canonsburg and had arrived about two hours before daylight.
We slept fitfully in the car waiting for the starting time. As the sky lightened in the east, we got out of the car, and prepared to go into the woods.
As we laced our boots and put on our jackets, a commotion was heard above our heads. Out of a large hemlock beside the car flew six turkeys, looking like prehistoric flying monsters.
The scramble to get the shotguns was a picture of futility, and the birds flew out of sight. While we had slept in our cars, a flock of turkeys had slept over our heads. They were the only ones we saw all day.
Ed Haley and I posted on our stands on opening day of deer season in Warren County. Every year we would return and post on the same two stands from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. without going in for lunch.
That year we decided to go prepared; we packed our lunch and fixed a thermos of coffee, then stowed them in a large canvas bag. This was a great arrangement with all the comforts of home.
But at 11 a.m. Ed came over and told me he had shot a 6-point buck and asked if I would help him drag it the two miles to the cabin. I thought this over and replied, “It’s early and I really hate to quit hunting. I’ll tell you what. Wait until noon and I’ll help you.”
On second thought, leave your buck here with me, take a walk around the edge of the mountain and maybe you’ll chase something my way. Then I’ll help drag.” Ed found my terms acceptable and departed, leaving his buck and rifle for me to guard.
He had been gone about 20 minutes when nine deer came over the ridge in front of me and approached my crossing. Almost immediately I saw a buck among them. I leaned against a tree aimed, fired and I had my buck for the season.
I stood halfway between my deer and Ed’s (where I could see both) and waited. Shortly he arrived on the scene. He had been approaching my stand and kicked the deer out of their bed. Everything had worked to perfection.
I was in the process of dressing my deer when it struck Ed.
“You son of a gun.” he blurted out. “Now we have two deer to drag out and I’ll still have to drag my own. You must have planned it that way. Just for that, you carry the lunch bag.”
Now that was a problem. I had a deer, my binoculars, a scope-sighted 270, and a canvas bag with a thermos in it.
There was only one solution. I tied the bag to the tail of my buck. There we were: two happy hunters, dragging two bucks, one with a bag bouncing along behind it, whistling and joking like a couple of 10-year-olds. Neither buck was a trophy, but what makes a better hunt than when your buddy and you are both successful? As long as I live, I’ll never forget that trip back to the cabin. Every hunter we met laughed at our arrangement. After we got back, we loaded them both on top of a VW Bug.
I have enjoyed sharing this old story with you, my reader. I hope you enjoyed reading about hunting in the ‘70s. This story is like many stories we all share. It tells of the enjoyment and fun one can have while hunting. I hope that it is still the same for you today and you make your own dumpling memories to reheat and serve up over your lifetime.