Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 64

Lock, Stock & Barrel The Shooters’ Corner
By Jim Romanelli By Don Lewis

That Impossible Arc

I

N THE EARLY 1980s, Route 322 west and north from Harrisburg was a different kind of journey. Engineers had mounted only timid attempts to moderate grades and diminish summits; the roadbed obeyed tortured topography. It slithered over the ridges like a timber rattler noses through jumbled talus, looping and scaling across the stacked Appalachians. But if you wanted to see a Pennsylvania elk, 322 was the only route that sought their haunts. “Elk culture” was different, too. Three decades ago no guiding signs pointed the way to elk country, no viewing sites invited elk encounters, and no brochures or plaques explained their presence. From “downstate,” elk loomed vague and local, less incarnate than cryptic tale. Elk were flesh-and-blood critters only to those who lived or “deer-camped” on an obscure wrinkle of plateau known as Winslow Hill. One September, to see an elk, I coaxed my tinny pickup over the range to Benezette. Natives wondered at my queries, but shrugged toward a crumbling 2-lane that nosed higher still. That evening the little Ford rattled through ruts, past coal spoil and waning mountain farms, but encountered no elk. The night was iron cold on the abandoned coal strip where I slept in the truck bed. By dawn, my breath’s icy residue slicked the inside of the bed cap. Outside, the land, frost and fog sprawled in uneven layers. Anticipation perked like the tailgate coffee boiling on the single-burner stove. Braced with strong brew I packed up and drove, wandering, past an appropriately gnawed sign for Porcupine Hollow, down off the heights to Route 555 only to turn around and climb back up, looking for elk. But sometimes the object of a search finds you. Passing a high bank on the right, the windshield filled up with hooves and black legs. From out of the fog the legs led a bull elk down onto the road where it had vaulted, nearly on top of my hood. Then as quickly it was gone. I drove on and saw a curved trail marring the frost across a field. The trail was as stark as if its maker had kicked through 10 inches of snow. At the dark arc’s end stood the bull or, rather, at the end stood the bull’s antlers, for it was they that demanded awe. The antlers were not the kind of thing you are prepared to behold in the modern world. They arced impossibly high. Their brown stain seemed to emit warmth against the frost. It was the kind of scene you sometimes doubt later and assign to a dream. Clear rationality, though, reminds me it was real and prompts inquiry. What does it mean that nearly a thousand elk now live on the Alleghenies? Much. It means that elk are adaptable and the country is still good. It means a certain tolerance has bloomed on the plateau and that people can ascend from cities and witness something wild and big, or at least the closest facsimile within their reach. And it means that we can nurture back together some of the lost links of our wildlife heritage when we want to. That last most of all.
64 GAME NEWS



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010

Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010
Life & Times of the Whitetail Biologist
Contents
First Archery Buck
Red Oak, White Oak
Just Like the Good Old Days
Step Back in Time
Antler Restrictions in Pennsylvania
What Goes Up . . .
First Time’s a Charm
100 Deer
The Brute
Flight 93
Field Notes
Conservation News
Off the Wire
Another View
Fun Game
The Naturalist’s Eye
Straight from the Bowstring
Lock, Stock & Barrel
Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Life & Times of the Whitetail Biologist
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - First Archery Buck
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Red Oak, White Oak
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 7
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 8
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 9
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 10
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Just Like the Good Old Days
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 12
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Step Back in Time
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 14
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 15
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Antler Restrictions in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 17
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 18
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - What Goes Up . . .
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 20
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - First Time’s a Charm
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 22
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 100 Deer
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 24
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 25
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 26
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - The Brute
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 28
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 29
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 30
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 31
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Flight 93
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 33
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 34
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 35
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Field Notes
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 37
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 38
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 39
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 40
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Conservation News
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 42
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 43
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 44
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 45
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 46
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 47
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Off the Wire
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Another View
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 50
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Fun Game
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - The Naturalist’s Eye
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 53
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 54
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 55
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Straight from the Bowstring
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 57
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 58
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 59
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Lock, Stock & Barrel
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 61
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 62
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - 63
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - I1
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - I2
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2010 - Cover4
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