Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 64

Unplanned Ascent

T

HE RIVER-CARVED CLEFT in the Great Laurel Ridge at Ohiopyle State Park is Pennsylvania’s deepest gorge. Fifteen-hundred airy feet of relief yawn between the turbulent Youghiogheny and the stern surrounding crests, greater even than Pine Creek’s acclaimed Grand Canyon. I have scaled the sides from the river trail several times, to hunt along hidden benches where greenbriar offers grouse its hard blue fruit, or to shoot a deer where the drag is all downhill. The climb is one you do not make without reason. Wild turkeys, though, are best hunted from above. In the fall, flocks work the grape thickets that spill off the rim into the heads of hollows. If you sneak along the drop, peering and listening, you can catch a flock so intent on grape-feasting that a sprint and a yell can scatter them all along the lip, ripe then for calling. One early morning, I followed the trail that skirts the rim toward grapes, topped a rise and saw 20 turkeys scratching in wide-open poplar woods. Some of the birds had already seen me and left no options. I shrugged off my pack, placed the shotgun across it and bolted toward the birds in an agile dash I am pleased to recall as once within my ability. At such a moment, turkeys are entertaining critters. They are initially tentative, as if they are not quite convinced that, amid their peace, this big, noisy beast is bearing down at a dead run. Some, then, will start to canter off. Others’ heads pop up and swivel for reassurance. Dark shapes shift and duck. The runners’ strides get longer and the first wing beats flail the air. But this flock was too far off when I began my assault and did not panic. They retreated as a unit, then launched into the gorge in fan formation with copper sun on their wings, suggesting a Ned Smith painting. My only hope was that some straggler got left behind. Dropping just over the rim, I found a niche among boulders, waited then called. An hour later the first plaintive yelps pealed from below. This was a turkey that wanted company. It zig-zagged up the slope like a reeled-in fish, yelping all the way. I settled in with the gun trained where I thought the turkey would show. But as it climbed higher, the bird hooked to its right. Its last yelps were above and behind my left shoulder. Putt came next, oddly near. A half-turn left revealed the head and neck of a young gobbler craning around a rock, its shining eye 10 yards away. I swung the gun, expecting to shoot the bird on the run, but it surprised me and flushed out over the gorge, straining hard for the opposing slope. At my snap shot the turkey crumpled, but its arc carried it far out over the void. I heard it crash through branches far below, then tumble farther downslope toward the “Yough.” Climbing down into that gorge is not much less of a task than heaving yourself back up. The hunt’s outcome bade me to do both within a half-hour, the unplanned ascent made, clutching at roots and rocks, with a gobbler lashed to my pack — just one more of the rewards that come with the privilege to spend time in the finest of places.
GAME NEWS

64



Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011

Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011
Myths & Legends of the Whitetail
Contents
Triple Trophy — Thrice
National Archery in the Schools Program
One More Squirrel Hunt with Dad
Harvey Roberts
Pennsylvania’s Hunter Access Program
State Game Lands 93
Right Violators, Wrong Deer
A Shot in the Pines
Field Notes
Conservation News
Off the Wire
Another View
The Naturalist's Eye
Fun Game
Straight from the Bowstring
Lock, Stock & Barrel
Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Myths & Legends of the Whitetail
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Triple Trophy — Thrice
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 6
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - National Archery in the Schools Program
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 8
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 9
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 10
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - One More Squirrel Hunt with Dad
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 12
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 13
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 14
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 15
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Harvey Roberts
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 17
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 18
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 19
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Pennsylvania’s Hunter Access Program
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 21
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 22
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - State Game Lands 93
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 24
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 25
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 26
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 27
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Right Violators, Wrong Deer
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 29
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 30
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 31
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - A Shot in the Pines
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 33
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Field Notes
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 35
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 36
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 37
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 38
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Conservation News
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 40
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 41
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 42
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 43
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 44
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 45
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Off the Wire
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Another View
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 48
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 49
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - The Naturalist's Eye
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 51
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 52
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Fun Game
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Straight from the Bowstring
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 55
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 56
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 57
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 58
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Lock, Stock & Barrel
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 60
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 61
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 62
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - 63
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - I1
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - I2
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - September 2011 - Cover4
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