Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 60

Berks County has enjoyed a long history of superstition and legend. Indian myths have joined with the Pennsylvania Dutch culture to provide a wealth of hunting superstitions and a shopping list of “spooky things” for superstitious hunters to worry about. The following, gleaned from a halfcentury of hunting with ears wide open, are offered for the late-season hunter who can’t always explain “why things went the way they did.” For starters, the boy should have listened to this piece of sage advice: “To make a Freischutz (a gun that never fails,) always load it with a bullet cast on a crossroads at Christmas Eve, and it will hit the mark or bring down the game without fail.” But, I doubt if Hornady, Speer or Nosler could guarantee which bullet was made on Christmas Eve. Have you ever missed a deer? To prevent this heartache, one superstitious remedy from the ages was to “pour some rabbit blood down the barrel.” Even Count Dracula would have trouble with this one if he didn’t catch the rabbit first. Another method was to “swab the shotgun’s bore with the heart of a bat and then shoot the bullet of bat hair so that the gun would always strike its mark.” While slightly impossible and albeit illegal, it was a great way to distract a young hunter who was “down in the dumps.” I have had some strange experiences in the dark and dank hemlock forests near Hawk Mountain, but I have never met a witch there. Apparently, our superstitious forefathers did and prepared for that eventuality. They advised the hunter to lay the gun down in a moving stream to remove the spell from the witch. Then, “the witch who cast the spell wouldn’t be able to pass her water until she begged the owner’s forgiveness.” Talk about water sports. Many an old flintlock stocks carried carvings or inlaid pins in the shape of crosses. This would prevent the gun from ever carrying a “hex” or curse. Even so, it was widely known that the first shot from
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a new gun would never hit its mark or kill its game. (Maybe this admonition would make the young or inexperienced hunter practice first, and then hunt.) What about spooky noises? Should an owl hoot over your left shoulder, or if you shoot at a rabbit that was quietly sitting under an elderberry bush, those were considered bad omens. Hunters were immediately to stop hunting and go back to bed, lest the spirits find you. Also, remember when you go hunting, never count your bullets or the spirits will resent your overconfidence and deal with you accordingly. Hunting dogs have always been a source of companionship while hunting. While we can’t hunt deer with hounds like Daniel Boone, it was an accepted strategy “back in the day.” But sometimes a wild scent would cause even the best of hounds to run astray. Longhunters knew how to handle the problem and repeated, “A good hunting dog would never run away if you fed it bread warmed under your armpits.” And finally, flintlock hunters should “never shoot an albino deer or they (the spirits) would resent their arrogance at such an easy mark, and one of their families will be made to pay for the mistake.” I wonder if that also related to snowshoe hares . . . but then, who’s superstitious anyway? For my money, I will always bank on preparedness for the hunt, not folksy admonitions. Flintlock hunters are the most challenged group that has ever taken to Penn’s Woods. To be successful, hunters need to pay attention to details. So let’s take a look at making that “rock lock” into a reliable and trustworthy tool. Tuning the Finicky Flintlock Hunters can blame their lack of success on bad luck, superstition or other people, but we all know the real reason: carelessness. If you want that flintlock rifle to perform up to your expectations, pay attention to details. With more moving parts in its lock mechanism than any other gun action, flintlocks have more opportunities
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012

Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 2
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - BB1
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover3
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