2017-11-11 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Many of us are spoiled by too many years of hunting a plentiful deer herd, too many days of seeing double-digit numbers of brown forms sneaking through the woods.

For multiple reasons, including a concerted effort by the Pa. Game Commission, deer numbers are down in some of the big woods region of our state. A discussion of this topic could consume multiple pages of your newspaper, but one point I want to make is that the whitetailed deer has become the whipping boy for every problem in our forests and even in our back yards, where the species has been known to dine on shrubbery.

As mentioned in this column before, the deer herd is more plentiful on privately owned forest land, much of which is the personal domain of hunting clubs or other members who are welcomed onto the land by invitation only.

Many of us still try our luck on state forest and game lands where the smaller deer herd hits home.


Outdoor writer Dave Wolf reached for his camera, rather than his bow, as he stood on deer watch in a section of state forest land. The archery deer season ends on Nov. 11 and followed by the rifle season opener on Monday, Nov. 27. Outdoor writer Dave Wolf reached for his camera, rather than his bow, as he stood on deer watch in a section of state forest land. The archery deer season ends on Nov. 11 and followed by the rifle season opener on Monday, Nov. 27. This fall I hunted hard for hours on end and, entering the final days of the archery deer season, I have come up empty. I’m not a trophy hunter, and I would have been more than happy to tag a legal buck -- any legal buck.

It was my choice to pass on several does that walked by within 10 yards. I waited patiently each time to see if a buck would follow. None did.

I mulled over seasons past, and as far as seeing deer, this year ranked quite high. There were evenings that I saw 15 deer in a field of clover. But more than half of them sublegal bucks, none showing at least three points on one side.

Although I remain hopeful, knowing I have taken many bucks on the final day of the season, reason tells me it’s probably time to pack it in and wait for rifle season in two weeks. That seems like an eternity under my current circumstances.

To fill that void, I’ll most likely hunt furbearers, cottontails, and maybe make a trip north for turkey. I like to stay in the moment, because when you do see a game animal, your reaction time is just that, split seconds.

So, this week I’ll dig in my heels, hunt as hard as possible, and if I put away my bow without a filled tag, at least I will know that I did my best. Besides, the sunsets this time of year are spectacular. As fall starts to slip away, the beauty of nature is so close, I can reach out and touch it.

I’ve watched enough hunting shows on television where the hosts act as if they have scored a touchdown, when they’ve simply taken down a deer that wandered into a food plot or were attracted to bait. Me, I kneel beside my deer, giving thanks to both nature, and to God, for providing the animal.

Yes, I need to be there with skills honed and my senses intact; I need to be ready when those moments present themselves.

We really are spoiled, which is okay, as long as you acknowledge the realities of today. Nature will always be at her best, with or without a deer passing by.

(Dave Wolf can be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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