Looking back over all the years of growing up and getting older, I was blessed by God to spend time with a great group of guys, their wives and children. These guys were the brothers I never had in my childhood.
Trying to pick only one good time or one bad time is next to impossible, there were so many of each. I have chosen a year when there were both, and on the same weekend.
The year was 1975, I THINK.
I would like to talk about the entire hunting season. The small game season was pretty much uneventful. Will and I lived in Washington, PA. We got up around 3:30 am on Saturday morning, every Saturday morning of hunting season. I would drive to his home and we would leave to meet Rip, Norm, Jim, Kenny, Bruce and Ron. Early season I would drive, had an old 64 Chevy pickup. Later in the season Will would drive his Jeep, had four wheel drive.
Just a note, this was one of the bad parts of our “hunting religion”. Neither of our wives were very positive about our trips to Fairhope. This all started on the second weekend of October and ended after doe season, around the second week of December. The Saturday daylight hours grow shorter as we get closer to Deer Camp, that means we were on the road before sunrise and after sunset. Back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, we never missed a day of hunting.
We helped Jim feed his cows before going to Will’s moms for breakfast.
We would go to Grandma Emerick’s home and hunt for squirrel all morning out past the spring. After lunch we hunted the steep front-side for Grouse until it got dark around 4:30. On the way home we always stopped at Will’s Moms for supper and then cleaned the then game we killed. She almost always had supper ready. Then we would play cards. Helen & Jim loved to play cards, and hated loosing. Not getting home until 8 or 9 pm. our wives could not figure out why it took us 5 hours to get home.
This year deer season started for me as it did for 5 years before. Jim, Will, and Norm introduced me to Bearwallow Mountain in 1966 when I got lost on top of the mountain in a snowstorm. Jim saved me that day, sent me down the right logging road to the truck.
After the Army in ‘68’ ‘69’ ‘70’ I started hunting again.
Will and I built wood floors for our tents. We all pitched in and bought a new tent with a floor. It measured around 12’x16’ and was big enough for all of us to sleep. After Ev and I got married, we bought a used tent from a Washington firefighter and camped in the summer, almost always at Kooser State Park in Bakersville.
At camp, we used this tent to store our suitcases and hunting clothes. We set up the tents, door opening to door opening, and left 3’ between to walk thru. To complete the project, we covered both tents with 4 mil plastic, tied down with binder twine. We would cover the platform with straw before setting up the sleeping tent. We heated the big tent with a propane heater resting on the tent floor with straw under. Talk about having the Lord looking after us, the tent did not burn….and that has been the case over the last 40+/- years.
Back to 1975.The Friday after Thanksgiving, the weather outlook was seasonal. Maybe snow on the first day of buck. That was what we wanted, but not too much, and please, no ice. It took all day Friday to set up camp. On Saturday we hunted and scouted the mountain. Everyone picked a place to go on Monday morning.
Saturday night was Hillbilly Haven for a few beers and dancing. Not everyone went, some stayed at camp and played cards.
Sunday we got our lunches packed and played cards. On this Sunday, I remember, Kenny, Ron, and I drove to Hyndman, PA to make phone calls to our wives. It was raining very hard, and the only phone in Hyndman was a pay phone mounted on the outside wall of the fire department. We covered ourselves with a large piece of plastic to stay dry, and each of us took turns talking to our wives. On the way back to camp it started to thunder and lightning. By nightfall the rain turned to snow.
We went to bed (13 +/- of us) in the large tent only to hear tree limbs and trees falling in the early morning. We were lucky that the tent was spared. We awoke to 30”+/- of heavy wet snow. Early in small game season we build a wood frame around 12’x12’ to use for a cooking area. We wrapped the frame with clear plastic, sides and roof.
We looked down Ira Trail and many trees had fallen across the road. We did not have a chain saw, just a crosscut saw. Before we started cutting our way out, Rip Musgrove and Ron Gary were eating in the cooking area. They just walked out of the cooking area and a large tree limb came down and smashed the roof. Many of the guys went to the mountain to hunt. Don’t know why we did, almost impossible to walk and trees and tree limbs were falling all day.
Grand pap Emerick did his best to clean the snow on Ira Trail that afternoon.
We stayed another night, and in the morning we decided we better get out of Fairhope. It took almost all of Tueday morning to get to Route 31. Once we got to the bottom of Three Mile Hill the snow measured only several inches. Nobody in Washington believed what we went through over BUCK SEASON “75”…….BUT WE SURVIVED TO SEE BUCK SEASON “76” and so on.
Many things have changed over the years. Rip, Jim, and Uncle Norm have passed on to hunt and fish in a better forest and stream. We have lost track of other members over the years. But we all have memories of the good times. I thank you all for being a part of my life.
Rich Frederick April 27, 2014