Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020 - 46

fork-horn had, I shot him. I'd wager with
confidence it was the same buck.

J

UST BEFORE noon, I moved to my
stand in anticipation of hunters leaving
the woods for lunch; many would be
leaving for the day, calling it a season. On
their way out, they inevitably would stir
the pot. I settled in on the steep sidehill
just outside the thicket, and it wasn't long
before I started seeing deer. They arrived
as singles and in twos and threes, and from
different directions.
One thing the talkative hunter of that
morning had right: there was something
special about hunting on a classic snowy
day. I thought of other days in the deer
woods like this, recalled old photos of
dragging deer out in deep snow and of
favorite magazine covers featuring deerhunting scenes. One of those scenes came
to life when I spotted the dark forms
of five deer running up the hill, then
disappearing in the grape tangles. When
they re-emerged, I saw that the first two
were does, but the other three were bucks.
They turned up toward me and when they
neared, I saw that the first two bucks were
both 8-pointers, but the third was a big,
wide-racked bruiser. I focused on him.
I thought they might slow or stop, but
they kicked it into overdrive, eager to get
into the thicket. I missed the big buck with
my first shot, hit a thick grapevine with
the second. He stopped, looked around,
and at my third shot, bucked wildly and
took off on a 70-yard dash, head held low,
torpedoing into the thicket and piling up on
the rim of a depression.
This monarch was a classic, deepwoods gray ghost. I couldn't imagine the
countless miles he had run across these
hills and through the heart of this hollow,
and fittingly, this one final sprint with the
slant of flakes on his face, charging hard
into that final realm where the light of his
days fades, but burns brightly again as it

46

passes to the hunter.
The 9-pointer was the biggest-racked
buck I've ever taken and appeared to
be 4½ years old. It was also the third
consecutive buck I'd taken over 200
pounds. My brother-in-law Dave arrived
with the deer cart a couple of hours later.
Instead of trying to haul the buck up the
steep mountain, we went out the back way,
which was farther, through the game lands.
As we came through the woods to the road,
we stopped to rest and looked back at the
setting sun, a peach-colored orb filtering
through shimmering veils of snowflakes.
Late getting in, late getting out. A great
last-day buck. Beyond the gift of the buck,
though, it was the snow's mesmerizing
motion upon the land that paced the hunter,
becoming an ally in the hunt. No matter
what the pace of a hunt may be, though,
it is never too late to stop and marvel at
the singular wonder that is winter in the
uplands.
This story is one of more than 60
within Bob Sopchick's new book, Penn's
Woods Passages, available now from the
Game Commission.	



Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020

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Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020 - 2
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Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - December 2020 - Cover4
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