American Hunter - November 2016 - 76


the cabin, anywhere we could walk," he
says. "We'd drive out the Big and Little
Slashings, the areas that had been cut and
were grown over, and it used to be nothing to see 30 or 40 deer run out of there."
By the time I was old enough to be
trusted with Grandpa in the mountains,
the days of high deer numbers in the
forest surrounding Water Hole were gone.
The clear-cuts matured, not enough other
timber was cut, coyotes moved in, hunters
killed too many does, several hard winters
thinned the herd, and a handful of other
reasons-some scientifically plausible,
some not-were thought to have brought
the whitetail population to a low. With
many Water Hole members advancing in
age and better hunting to be had closer
to home in the flatter farmlands, entries
in the camp register dwindled. During
the few times I visited the camp with
Grandpa in the '90s, just four or five other
hunters, mostly relatives, were there. Still,
the old and simple ways of doing things at
the cabin, the sense of belonging to such
traditions and the exhilaration of hunting country big enough to become lost in

N A T I O N A L

heavily influenced my perceptions of what
deer season should be. While I never killed
a deer at Water Hole, I clearly remember
a fleeting chance at a buck that took one
bound from a patch of laurel and disappeared down a hill, leaving me with more
to ponder in the years ahead than just the
size of his rack. And so when I had killed
enough deer elsewhere to realize that the
value of the hunt and my identity as a
hunter is rooted in things other than the
kill itself, I had to return.
Driven
Uncle Bob is awake by 4:30, and 15 minutes later the scrapple is sputtering in
the cast-iron pan. I'm washing down my
second piece with a slug of black coffee
when Eric Probert, a college buddy of
mine who's lived his entire life in nearby
Renovo and knows the hills around
Water Hole as well as his back yard,
which they are, knocks at the door.
As luck would have it, Probert and a
group of his friends from the area plan
to hunt within a few miles of Water
Hole for the next couple days, and I beg

R I F L E

A S S O C I A T I O N

an invitation to join them. We'll be driving deer-a method of hunting that if not
invented in Pennsylvania, was definitely
perfected here. Uncle Bob, having been on
his share of drives over more than a halfcentury of hunting, is content to take his
gun for a slower-paced walk near the cabin.
His son, John, has his own plan for the day
based on experience gathered over many
seasons at Water Hole, and I know better
than to ask another hunter, even if he is
my cousin, to show me his favorite spots.
We wish each other luck and as I close the
door of the cabin behind me, I think of the
countless other hunters who have stepped
off this porch into the dark morning with
high hopes for the day ahead.
Inside Probert's truck, talk turns to
the activities of the gas companies in the
area and their use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale Formation that lies beneath
these hills. Gas wells and various components of the transmission system dot the
landscape-industrial-looking structures
that seem oddly out of place in the deer
woods. The effects of "fracking" on the

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76 ❘ americanhunter.org


http://www.NRAPlannedGiving.org http://www.americanhunter.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - November 2016

Contents
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW1
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW2
American Hunter - November 2016 - Cover1
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW3
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW4
American Hunter - November 2016 - C2
American Hunter - November 2016 - 1
American Hunter - November 2016 - Contents
American Hunter - November 2016 - 3
American Hunter - November 2016 - 4
American Hunter - November 2016 - 5
American Hunter - November 2016 - 6
American Hunter - November 2016 - 7
American Hunter - November 2016 - 8
American Hunter - November 2016 - 9
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 28
American Hunter - November 2016 - 29
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 31
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 33
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 37
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American Hunter - November 2016 - C102
American Hunter - November 2016 - C103
American Hunter - November 2016 - E102
American Hunter - November 2016 - E103
American Hunter - November 2016 - MW102
American Hunter - November 2016 - MW103
American Hunter - November 2016 - S102
American Hunter - November 2016 - S103
American Hunter - November 2016 - SW102
American Hunter - November 2016 - SW103
American Hunter - November 2016 - W102
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American Hunter - November 2016 - C3
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