George Block Column
Ed Thomas of Marianna was fortunate enough to draw a Pennsylvania elk tag. He then bagged one of these rare trophies.
Thomas was a one-time officer and active member at the Marianna Field and Stream Club. He’s a co-founder of the newly formed Marianna Sportsmen’s Association.
Thomas also helped start the popular canoe races held in Marianna and the spring stocking of trout in Ten Mile Creek.
He has been an avid elk hunter and getting one of the elk permits was one of the happiest moments in his 75 years.
Thomas bagged a 7X6 bull along the shoreline of the Bennet Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek east of Benezette.
The problem was that it was on the other side of the creek, which had a good flow for the time of year. A local resident helped solve that problem by using his canoe to retrieve the elk.
I don’t know that I would like to be in a canoe with a 1000-pound elk crossing fast water. Heck, I won’t get into a canoe in Dutch Fork Lake.
But Thomas had a good once-in-a-lifetime hunt and now has a place for a rare trophy in his house.
• The owner of a meat cutting establishment took me to a corner of his cooler where the antlers from deer shot by his customers were piled. He had over 200 bucks at that point, but there were only three decent racks.
So much for antler restrictions!
I looked at them and they reminded me more of antlers from places such as Kane or Roullette instead of Kane or Scenery Hill. Even the best of the pile wasn’t all that good, but they did have mass, which was common 20 years ago.
There will always be some good bucks out there. Private land and housing developments, both of which limit hunting, protect them. But on average, what I am seeing isn’t good.
As the meat cutter said, you don’t eat the prize bull or send the best race horse to the glue factory.
The same story was related to me by a landowner whose property I was hunting on. We were comparing notes and he was angry because, while he had spotted five bucks, none of them were legal or worth shooting. I, too, had only seen four bucks, only one of which was legal to harvest.
I do not claim to know all of the answers, but I have to ask if antler restrictions are allowing smaller-antlered deer to water down the genetics?
On the other side of the coin, evidentally, there was a large non-typical buck taken in Somerset Township during archery season, From what I have seen in photos, I would love to put a tape on it.
• Is it my imagination, or has deer hunting pressure been light this year?
I can honestly say I didn’t see another hunter in the woods on opening day. In fact, I only saw one care parked along the road where I was hunting and that was over a mile of rural road with very little housing.
Maybe hunters couldn’t find ammunition and stayed home.
I spent a few hours in a sporting good store on both Saturday and Sunday and more than one guy came in and couldn’t find ammunition for his deer rifle.
They had been to other stores as well and stuck out there. That’s why I put out a warning on ammunition earlier.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.