Tuesday, April 6, 2010


click on photos to enlarge them
Today is just one of those days when I can't do anything right.  When I removed the tarp from the boat; the wind blew it across the road.  While driving to the lake;  the truck passed through a swarm of yellow jackets and about twenty of them got sucked into the open window and I believe every one of them landed on me.  I pulled off the four lane as calmly as possible and jumped out of the truck to remove my shirt and shake it.  Douglas was snaping at three or four that were flying about the truck cab.  I grabbed a short umbrella and opened it underside toward me and the door and caught all three of the bees.  Douglas was spared a sore mouth.
Shade lay in the back of the truck under the cap in safety and was wondering why we stopped.
I backed the boat trailer into the water and pulled ahead with the truck and the wind and waves pushed the boat back onto the trailer.
I kept pulling forward until the bow of the boat contacted the boat ramp, got out and pulled it up the ramp and secured it until I could park the truck.
The lake had one foot high swells all across it and I knew from experience that this was not a problem for the Gheenoe to handle safely.  She is one tuff boat.   It would be a rock and roll ride to the old ferry landing though.  Yes;  I wanted to just hang out at the pavilion area at that deserted place and write a few notes down.
Shade was along and this area has a variety of terrain that can keep the dogs busy while I lounged about.  We were almost to my beaching area when I saw a huge wave rolling directly at the side of the boat.  It's amazing I didn't see it.  The thing would hit us broad side for sure.  I had no time to quarter into it.   The two foot swell rolled under the Gheenoe, or rather the Gheenoe rolled up and over the thing.  I was expecting a collision experience with a lot of water coming over the gunnels but,  instead felt the boat lift up and over the wave.  Oh boy; fun!  That is until the following two footer hit us while we were in the trough (bottom of the back side of the first wave) and much water came over the side of the boat.  I glanced back along the boat to make sure the automatic bilge pump was working.  It was.  Water poured out through the exit hole in the top rear side of the boat for the bilge water expulsion.  This was all new to Shade and she came back and sat between my knees at the rear of the boat.  Not Douglas.  He's an old hand.  Nothing new here for him.  He stayed at his post on point.
Nothing really dangerous was at hand but an interesting moment.  After those two waves, everything was back to one foot swells.  I had never experienced anything like that.  I guess waves do not necessarily have to be uniform in size at any given time.  We kept close to the shore line from that point on.  Loading the boat onto the trailer later on should be interesting if the wind doesn't calm a bit.
I am here because I needed peace and quiet.  I have had people in my face for eleven hours a day and my ears have had to listen to rock music and loud motorcycle pipes continuously for six days straight.
All that is fine as long as I can retreat to a quiet, calm environment to regroup my thoughts and charge the old batteries that inhabit my mind.
And so, with the boat tied off in the little bay;  I set off for a short walk to the old clubhouse pavilion area.
And, there is a story I have wanted to put into writing.  It's not a pretty one but, it's on my mind.  There are moments of graphic violence so if that might bother you;  I suggest you pass on it.  There are things that happen in a person's life that can dramatically alter one's opinions concerning certain topics and even apply the brakes to a once passionate activity that one has grown up caring much about.  I think I'll call the story_____________________________


The muzzle loading hunting season for December, 1976 was about to start.  The Chevy Luv pickup made it's way up the highway in North Central Pennsylvania to a place called Norcross.  Norcross is an extremely large tract of uninhabited mountains that runs from the town of Sinnamohning, PA clear to New York state.  It is rugged back in that mountainous country.  The two occupants of the truck, Bob and Terry, were planning on being in the woods for the first day of flintlock deer season by morning.  The cap over the truck bed would be home for the overnight stay.
The temperature was twenty five degrees when they crawled out from under the truck cap in the morning.  Both boys were well equipped for the cold.  Terry wore a full Woolrich outfit composed of pure wool pants and heavy matching wool jacket.  On his feet were U.S. Air force flight boots he bought from Army Surplus a week before this trip.  He could pump air into a bladder within the boots that would supply an invisible barrier to the cold.  Bob wore traditional hunting garb purchased from the local hardware.  His feet were protected by a new type boot that contained thick "felt" packs.  They were made in Canada and he was excited to try them.  Each of them would carry a 50 caliber Hawkin type flint lock rifle.  Pennsylvania law required and specified that this primitive fire arm was the only acceptable weapon permitted during the special flint lock season for deer. 
In order to load this type of rifle, the powder is poured down the muzzle of the rifle followed by the round lead ball or possibly a slug.  A ram rod would then be inserted down the muzzle against the ball to force the concoction clear to the breach of the barrel.  Fine black powder would then be poured into the small flash pan and the striker or fritz-en closed over the now full pan.  Ready to fire.  All that would be necessary to shoot is to pull the hammer back that holds a piece of flint, aim and squeeze the trigger.  The spark from the contact of the flint to striker creates a spark that ignites the fine black powder in the fritz-en.  The spark from that ignition travels through the touch hole which guides the flame to the main charge in the breach of the barrel.  The result is a sort of sch-kaboom.  Flint locks have a bit of a delay from the time the powder ignites in the flash pan and when the main charge ignites in the breach.  KaChink-Boom;  if you will.

Terry was walking on the edge of a high ridge where he could look down the steep slope of the mountain.  He saw deer from time to time but the distance was not acceptable for a good shot.  The ground to his right, which was flat and forested with huge pines slowly changed in nature to an environment where blow downs and scrub bushes existed.    This expanse of land obviously had suffered blight or maybe even a fire years ago.  Terry's eyes constantly scanned this new defoliated stretch of mountain.  He could see farther as the huge pines, for the most part, were gone.  A distant boom sounded and reverberated across the valley below him.  Bob had scored.  Bob never missed.  Bob was born in the Laural Highlands of Pennsylvania and resided so far back in the woods that air was a difficult commodity to acquire.  His father was a highly skilled stone mason who was taught the trade by his father.  From father to son;  Bob was blessed with that talent and skill also.  These folks worked with their hands.  They were people of the earth too.  Bob's family lived almost entirely on what his father planted or harvested from the forest.
Yes, Terry was sure that Bob was successful with his one and only shot.  Terry had to score.  He couldn't return to the truck empty handed.  Just at that moment a very small doe stepped from behind a bush approximately seventy or eighty yards away.  Terry froze.  The little deer would lower her head, paw the snow with her foot and grab some morsel of grass or acorns with her mouth.  Her head would then jerk erect and she would turn to face right and left, scanning her surroundings while chewing constantly.  She would take one step and repeat the process.  Terry waited until the doe's head dropped to the ground and he raised the rifle while placing his shoulder against the base of a large oak tree for support.  The hammer was then pulled back.  The deer was small;  very small.  He had seen large dogs as big as the little doe.  Normally he would not take the shot on so small a deer, but surely Bob got one.  It was late afternoon and he decided to go ahead with the ambush.  He did not want to face Bob empty handed.  They were both skilled hunters and woodsmen and those types always brought the bacon home.

The deer took a step forward and lowered her head.  Terry squeezed the trigger and at that instant the doe started another step.  The big gun roared and belched orange flame.  The stock set against Terry's shoulder hard. "Must have put too much powder in," he thought.

When the smoke cleared;  the little deer was on the ground.  Then, to his amazement, she arose.  Her left back leg flopped loosely about.  When she stepped forward, the shoulder shot became a rear quarter, hip shot.  the deer made a bawling sound.  Terry felt sickened at that cry.  It sounded like a human baby.  He was instantly sorry for the deer.  "How did that happen?" he thought.
He quickly poured powder down the barrel and inserted the big 500 grain pure lead slug.  The wooden ram rod was withdrawn from the thimbles that held it in place under the barrel of the rifle.  Terry inserted the ram rod into the end of the barrel until it touched the lead slug and pushed hard to seat it against the powder charge.  The wooden rod snapped.   Part of the wood was wedged between the slug and the inside of the gun barrel and the other half was held in Terry's hand.  The splintered piece of wood could not be extracted from the barrel.  The rifle was rendered useless.

He watched the little doe try to run, her leg flopping about as if it may come off somehow.  He was sickened.  He could not walk away from this situation.  He wore a belt knife with a six inch razor sharp blade at his hip.  Just maybe he could approach close enough to the deer to run it down.  He had to try.  He had caused this misery and it was his personal responsibility to end it.  He set off toward the deer at a brisk pace.  The doe saw him and tried to run.  She completed two fast leaps and collapsed to the ground and lay there.  Fifty yards, thirty yards, ten yards.  He walked very slow at this point.  The doe never took her eyes off him.  At five yards distance she bolted and almost immediately lay back down again.  He ran hard and fast toward her thinking he could catch her before she could regain her feet.  He almost achieved his goal.  He closed to within one yard of the deer when she ran.  She was in agony and he was the cause of it.  If he could maintain his speed he would overtake her.  But, he couldn't.  Perspiration poured from his face and his body was hot.  The Woolrich coat had to go.  He would get it later.  He felt much better without the heavy restrictions of the coat. 
The doe lay twenty feet away on the edge of a long mountain slope that had a stream at the bottom.  again he walked toward the deer.  He noticed the splintered  hip bone protruding through the big hole in her hip caused by the badly placed shot.  She watched his approach.  Just a few feet more, he thought.  She went to her feet and started another run.  Terry was very close.  His lungs ached as he ran.  He had never put this much effort into a sprint in his life.  He was closing on the wounded doe.  Just a couple more seconds and he would tackle her.  But then, the deer changed course and ran straight down the mountain side.  Wounded game will always take the easier path.  Terry turned with the deer without missing a stride.  The doe slowed.  He was beside the flopping leg when he leaped upon her back causing them both to tumble down the hill side.  He lost his grasp of her at some point.  He stopped rolling and came to rest on his hands and knees.  There in front of him lay the doe staring at him.  Her mouth was open gasping for air and her eyes were wide in panic.  She was experiencing a terror she had never known.  Terry took in huge breaths of air as he stared at the crippled doe.  His hand slowly went to the hilt of his knife and he withdrew it from the sheath.  They stared at each other.  Her eyes were wide and unblinking.  A feeling of shame arose in his chest.  He suddenly thought, "what's this all about?"
Her eyes, even when filled with terror, were perfect and beautiful.  Even in this despicable situation she appeared alert, with ears up as if she hadn't given up.  The short brown hair that covered her body was outlined with white.  It was perfect, accept where the ragged hole seeped blood and stained her hip.  He caused all that.  He had a sense that he had violated nature.   He became sickened.

There was no sense prolonging the deer's agony.  He slowly stood to a crouching position and moved across the three or four yards that separated them.   The doe had to raise her head and look up to follow his eyes;  he approached that close.  He felt like an executioner.  He had the power.  He had the power of death that he would have to use to end the misery that he had created in her.  She was the victim.  She was the repressed.  He was strong and she was weak.  He would win and she would lose on this day.  But, in the end it would be he who would lose.  He held the knife out from his right side and with a powerful sweeping motion struck the doe across the throat with the knife.  She never flinched or blinked her soft eyes.  Her stare penetrated to his soul.  Her eyes never moved from him once.  Blood pulsed from her slashed throat with each beat of her heart;  and still she watched him.

She seemed to say;  "Why are you doing this to me?  What have I done to deserve this horrible death at your hands?"

He could not answer that question;;  the question why.

Her eyes became sleepy looking and the brightness was gone.  At last she blinked and her eyes closed shut.  The blood poured forth endlessly.  Slowly she moved her head back along her body and tucked her nose just under her back leg as if sleeping.  Her breaths were shallow.  Terry watched her until her chest stopped the rise and fall movements that indicate life.  She, at last found peace.
He prepared her body and carried her back to the truck.  The climb up the mountain to retrieve his rifle and coat was tiring.  As they drove away from Norcross, a decision was made by Terry.  This would be the last animal he would ever kill out of sport.  No more.  He did not want to enter the forest for the purpose of causing death to nature's beautiful, innocent sons and daughters.  He could not make sense of it any longer.  The experience of this day would live in his mind forever and the sadness he felt for the little doe would return to him many times in his life. The memory of her terror filled eyes haunts him to this day. And he still can not answer her question of   "Why."