Archery season for deer opened in the Commonwealth on September 5. Did anyone much care? With the year we have had in 2020, probably not.
As I was sitting at my computer I was reminded of how thrilled we were when 150 deer were turned loose it Letcher County in the 1970’s and we all flocked to the Cumberland River side of the county to hunt them. In those days it was big news if you saw a deer. Now it is even bigger news if you don’t see one.
Back then, my friends the Fleming brothers devised a trip for us to the George Washington National Forest in Virginia, around Harrisburg, in the northern part of the state. It was a nine hour trip and we traveled in old rusted out trucks and Jeeps, not knowing if we would even make it to Pound, Virginia, and that as you know is within walking distance.
My lifelong friend Ross Fleming, the son of my friends Leonard and Norma (I have eaten many a breakfast at their house), sent me a picture of one of those trips. Leonard is not in this picture, because he came up mid-week. The George Washington would try the most seasoned of hunters with slopes straight up and down and little dirt holding on the surface. It was one tough hunt.
Although everyone killed deer, and on one one trip Leonard even got himself a black bear, we never killed a trophy deer from there. The average was probably in the 119 class. Just too many deer and not enough food.
We set up camp miles from any road, just trails that 4-wheel drive vehicles could barely reach. There were no ATV’s in those days — days when you pitched tents and, no matter the weather, had an open campfire.Your only light came from Coleman lanterns or the campfire. There were no hunting lodges back in those days.
We spent many nasty 10-day hunts in those camps and enjoyed we every minute. Time marches on, and it has changed many things. There are no more sleeping in tents, bathing in ice cold streams, and keeping a campfire going all night. Yes the times have changed, and not for the better.
The picture Ross sent me brought both sad and good memories back to me. Half of the ones in this picture will never hunt here on earth again, because they have crossed the “Silent River.”
I wish time would slow down.