Lucky Hunters Bag Big Bucks
From scouting to putting the finishing touches on a stand, much preparation is taken by local hunters in preparing for “the big day” – the opener of the general firearms white-tailed deer season.
On Monday, that hard work paid off in abundance as hunters armed themselves with not only a firearm but patience as well and headed into field and forest. Some sportsmen reported hearing few shots and seeing even fewer deer but still enjoyed the special bonding time with family and friends. Meanwhile, others enjoyed the hunt of a lifetime.
Among those successful hunters was Hustontown resident and northern Fulton County native Shawn Broadwater. Taking up a post near his uncle’s property just outside of Waterfall, Broadwater bagged what is undoubtedly the biggest antlered deer in his 25 years of hunting.
Broadwater, 38, pointed out his father, Sam, remains one of the biggest factors or influences over his passion for hunting that has continued to grow as the years pass. To help commemorate the special day, Broadwater intends to have the 10-point rack with a 19- 1/2 inch spread mounted.
Meanwhile, a short distance from his South Madden Road, Hustontown, residence, 14-yearold Jackson Chilcote shared a special moment with his father that included bagging a sizeable buck with his muzzleloader.
The son of Shawn and Traci Chilcote, Jackson has been an avid hunter for the last three years. On Monday, he was reportedly shaking so badly when he took the 10- point buck at 10:30 a.m. that he almost fell out of his stand.
The December 2 harvest, however, wasn’t the first big buck for Jackson. During the last deer season in Ohio he bagged another big buck that scored a 156. Regardless of the size though, the deer all have one thing in common – they provide many a delicious meal for the Chilcote family.
In the Knobsville area while with friends and hunting mentors Jim Toothman and Mike Crampton, 14-year-old Ben Harnish managed to knock down his second-ever antlered deer. The son of Greg and Dawn Harnish of Burnt Cabins, Ben took the eightpoint at around 3:15 p.m.
Only in his second year of hunting, Ben harvested a “nice spike in 2012. This year’s buck he intends to have prepared into a European skull mount.
Scheduled to head back to Forbes Road Junior/Senior High School Wednesday following the holiday break, the eighth grader has no definite plans for the balance of the two-week general firearms season.
Broadwater, Chilcote and Harnish were among the 750,000 hunters that were expected by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to take to the woods statewide for the December 2 season opener. License sales in 2013 have increased slightly over last year.
“The opening day of the firearms deer season is something most hunters look forward to all year, and waiting out those few extra days when the season falls late like this can test one’s patience,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “But by 7 a.m. that first Monday, the wait all across Pennsylvania will be over, and tens of thousands of lasting memories will be made in the hours, days and weeks that follow.”
One of the factors that influences deer hunting annually is the availability of food sources. A late spring frost reportedly affected white and chestnut oaks, and a cold and wet spring in 2012 affected the red oak population that takes two years to produce. As a result, the commonwealth experienced a “spotty” acorn crop.
Fulton County Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Justin Klugh confirmed that the mountain mast crop of acorns was weak this year, and hunters were going to have to do some scouting to find additional food sources.
However, much like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, Klugh said the weather was good. It wasn’t too hot or too cold and wasn’t too windy, but a slight snow cover would have aided hunter visibility, he added.
Klugh along with Deputy WCO Bob Strait reported seeing at least three “really good” harvested bucks during the course of their opening day duties. Those bucks included a 10-point off State Gamelands 128 in the Warfords- area. Klugh noted officers checked six or seven bucks and the same number of does on Monday, and hunters checked said they did not hear much shooting.
In addition to checking hunters and their kills, Klugh and Strait also looked into issues such as baiting, lack of fluorescent orange and assisted officers in neighboring Bedford County with a hunting-related shooting incident (HRSI). A media report outlining the details of the HRSI investigated by WCO Salvadore Zaffuto was made available Tuesday through the PGC’s Southcentral Regional Office information and education supervisor Barry Leonard.
Leonard told the “News” the accidental shooting near Breezewood occurred when one man took a shot at a deer running across a cut corn- field. The bullet missed the deer but struck the hunter’s friend, who was inside a nearby tree hut. The man was struck in the arm and was taken to Altoona for treatment. No surgery was required, said Leonard, who added that charges are currently pending in the case.