Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The 2015 Accessible Hunter Patch



I am ordering the new 2015 Accessible Hunter Morale Patch's this week. It will be a more tactical model than last year's patch.  Made up with OD Green and Black.  I like to give these out when I'm hunting to individuals who clearly demonstrate the values and characteristic's associated with accessible hunting.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

PROPOSED PA 2015-16 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

PROPOSED 2015-16 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS 

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license, and mentored youth – Oct. 10-16 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day). 

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Oct. 17-Nov. 28; Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 20 (6 daily, 18 possession). 

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 17–Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23 (2 daily, 6 possession). 

RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license: Oct. 10-17 (4 daily, 12 possession). 

RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 24-Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 20 (4 daily, 12 possession). 

PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 10-17 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male pheasants only in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants may be taken in all other WMUs. There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU. 

PHEASANT: Male only in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female may be taken in all other WMUs – Oct. 24-Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 20 (2 daily, 6 in possession). There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU. 

BOBWHITE QUAIL: Oct. 24-Nov. 28 (4 daily, 12 possession). (Closed in 5A, Open in all other WMUs.) 

HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26–Jan.1, in all WMUs except WMUs 3B, 3C and 3D, where season will run from Dec. 26-29 (1 daily, 3 possession). 

WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS): No closed season, except on Sundays and during the regular firearms deer seasons. No limit. 

PORCUPINES: Sept. 1-March 31, except during overlap with the regular firearms deer season. (3 daily, season limit of 10).

CROWS: July 3-April 10, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. No limit. 

STARLINGS AND ENGLISH SPARROWS: No closed season, except during the antlered and antlerless deer season. No limit. 

WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMU 1B – Oct. 31-Nov. 7 and Nov. 26-28WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow) – Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 26-28WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D– Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 26-28WMUs 2C, 4C and 4E– Oct. 31-Nov. 20  and Nov. 26-28WMU 5A – Nov. 5-7WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING. 

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored youth – April 23, 2016. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt. 

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): April 30-May 31, 2016. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From April 30-May 14, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 16-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. 

BLACK BEAR (Statewide) Archery: Nov. 16-20. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 21-25. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2C, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 2-5. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 30-Dec. 12. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D): Nov. 30-Dec. 5. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D) archery: Sept. 19-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMU 5B) archery: Oct. 3-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) muzzleloader: Oct. 17-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. 

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) special firearms: Oct. 22-24, for junior and senior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active duty military. 

ELK (Antlered or Antlerless): Nov. 2-7. Only one elk may be taken during the license year. 

ELK, EXTENDED (Antlered and Antlerless): Nov. 9-14. Only one elk may be taken during the license year. Eligible elk license recipients who haven’t harvested an elk by Nov. 8, in designated areas. 


DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 19- Nov. 28 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2016. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 3-Nov. 14 and Dec. 26-Jan. 9. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D: Nov. 30-Dec. 12. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER (Antlered Only) WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E: Nov. 30-Dec. 4. One antlered deer per hunting license year. (Holders of valid DMAP antlerless deer permits may harvest antlerless deer on DMAP properties during this period.) 

DEER (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E:  Dec. 5-12. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER, ANTLERLESS (Statewide): Oct. 22-24. Junior and Senior License Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in 
U.S. Armed Services or in the U.S. Coast Guard only, with required antlerless license. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER, ANTLERLESS MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 17-24. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 9. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (WMUs 2B, 5C, 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 23. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER, ANTLERLESS EXTENDED REGULAR FIREARMS: (Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties): Dec. 26-Jan. 23. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

DEER, ANTLERLESS (Military Bases): Hunting permitted on days established by the U.S. Department of the Army at Letterkenny Army Depot, Franklin County; New Cumberland Army Depot, York County; and Fort Detrick, Raven Rock Site, Adams County. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Recoil Charts

I have had a few people with disabilities ask me about recoil and how I handle it. I thought it would be a good idea to post a couple of recoil charts so that you could match the right rifle or shotgun load to your ability and adapted setup.

Fortunately the brace I have absorbs a great deal of the recoil from a shotgun or rifle. I receive no impact on my shoulder at all. The front of the weapon does rise up with a shot because I'm unable to hold the weapon. When I shoot my crossbow there is no recoil at all.

The shotguns that I use I limit to two and three-quarter inch shells. I do not shoot 3 inch or 3 1/2 inch magnum loads.  I prefer a .243 rifle or .223, but I do shoot a .270 occasionally. For target shooting I still enjoy the air rifle and the 22 LR.

It's up to every hunter to ensure a quick and clean kill. Able bodied individuals or a para may have the ability to hold a rifle or shotgun, better than myself. Being a c4/c5 quad my weapon sits in a brace. My preferred method of hunting is my crossbow. But when I rifle hunt I do it mostly with a .243 and I have been very fortunate that I have not lost a deer with that rifle.

A well-placed shot will bring down a deer every time and a marginal shot may lead to a lost deer no matter what caliber or broadhead you are using. I posted the chart so that everyone has the right information to make a decision on their own. If you want to use a larger caliber I think that's great, if you prefer something a little lighter that's great too. The important thing is we shoot within our abilities, we owe it to the game we pursue to ensure a ethical clean kill. Shoot straight and good luck in all you do.

Recoil By Caliber



Recoil by Recoil Energy



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Savage A-17 Rifle




I cannot wait to try this new Savage A-17 Rifle.  It would be so much fun to take this out this summer and take down a few varmints (Groundhogs, Coyotes).  What are your thoughts on the .17 HMR


It's bigger than a.22 Long rifle, semi automatic, ten round magazine, its faster and much more accurate.  A little expensive to shoot compared to the .22 but I always say you get what you pay for.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

End of the Season


It's getting near the end of the season, just a few day's left here in Pennsylvania. This has been one of the best hunting seasons I can remember. I was successful in harvesting a Wildboar, pheasants, Whitetail deer (doe) and a very nice Whitetail buck (eight point).

I am looking forward to the upcoming spring turkey season in May.  I would really love to harvest a mature gobbler with my crossbow or shotgun. For now, I will have to concentrate on organizing my gear and doing some planning for the next hunt.

How was your season? Did you tag out? What are you looking forward to in the upcoming season?


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Katelyn's Story


My love of wildlife, the outdoors, and hunting has been embedded in me since I was as little as can be. Growing up with my English Springer Spaniel, Zak, as my best friend and my dad, an avid outdoorsman, as my role model, I couldn't avoid it. I can remember the excitement on Zak's and my dad's faces after coming home from a successful hunt.



I had decided back then that being a girl wouldn't inhibit my dreams of being a hunter. Little did I know later in my life being a woman involved in hunting and shooting sports is a blessing. I owe so much to my dad for molding me and giving me the opportunities I've had. From my first coyote, my first buck, my first goose and so on. There's a very small amount of Pennsylvania wildlife I have not had a chance to hunt and harvest. For the most part I've been on every sort of hunt imaginable around here.

I couldn't have been happier for my dad when he became part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission 5  years ago. I am a huge supporter of ethical hunting and fair chase. I support what him and the other Wildlife Conservation Officers do. I love being able to share my hunting stories and knowledge with others.

Fast forwarding to my second year of archery season. This past fall I saw some of the most amazing Whitetail bucks ever. They were the kind of bucks that physically drop your jaw and you can't stop staring because you can't believe what your eyes are looking at. The best part is that these were "my bucks"! They lived on my property and the surrounding farmland that was posted, which only my dad and I have permission to hunt. I hunted almost every single day during the archery season and made sure not to miss a single day when the rut started up.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I was going to have an opportunity to harvest a nice buck with my bow. I was hunting with my new pink-camo, Diamond compound. It would be my first archery deer, having previously harvested other nice bucks, but with my slug gun. The opportunity finally came early on in the season on a decent sized 8-point. I judged him to be at 40 yards. Standing up and drawing my bow back I placed my sight right on his vitals and released my arrow. My pink luminox lit up as I watched it fly directly towards where I had placed it. Then all of a sudden I watched it ricochet off a twig half the size of my pinky and fly off to my right. I sat down, my stomach in knots as a tear rolled down my cheek. I couldn't believe what had just happened, I blew it. Why hadn't I saw that twig there?

Throughout the rest of the archery season I saw some absolutely amazing bucks. My most memorable ones were a drop-tine buck with at least 10 points and a few others that just had outrageously large racks. If you're wondering why I saw these bucks, but didn't shoot them let me explain. The last thing I ever want to do is injure a buck to the point where it suffers until it dies. Just the thought of that disgusts me along with the thought that some people are okay with taking a chance like that.  These huge bucks I saw were on the verge of 50-60 yards. I may have been able to pull off a lethal shot, but it was risky. Risky enough that I preferred to sit in my stand in awe observing them. "There's always another day, gun season, and next year" I kept telling myself.  I preach ethical hunting practices to everyone I know. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't follow my own beliefs.


I saw plenty of little guys throughout my 2014 archery season also. Spikes, 2 points, 4 points, legal little racked bucks too. A lot of these young bucks came right up under my stand or 10 yards in front of me. The little barely legal ones I passed up. Some may call me crazy, but I can't kill a buck that I won't be beaming with pride for. Those little racked guys will be bigger the next year, just wait until then. Let them go, let them grow.

I never did take a buck during this archery season, but I was okay with that. Not at first, but after I thought it over for a good, long while I was. I continuously told myself that this was just God's plan and he was saving me a real nice buck for gun season. I would've never expected he was saving me more than that.

While archery season was out and gun season had yet to come in I did some small game hunting. I took my old English Springer Spaniel, Lucky, out to kick up some pheasants one morning. Everything was going well until a blizzard set in! I decided enough was enough and headed back home to thaw out and dry off. I shot a few squirrels throughout those “in between deer season” days too. I tried out some new hide curing techniques that didn't turn out too bad. I can't complain about meat in the freezer either.

I had the opportunity to take a trip to West Virginia to rifle hunt with my boyfriend, Trevor, along with two of his friends.  I jumped at that, no way I was missing out! The day after Thanksgiving he and I woke up at 4am and started our 2 hour drive down to Marshall county. We stopped at a little diner to get some breakfast where we ran into many locals all geared up to do some deer hunting. Trevor and I headed out to the property he hunts a little while down the road to get things going. The sun was just starting to peak over the horizon when we began walking into the woods. We sat down in a favorite spot of his dad's, where quite a few bucks were taken over the previous years. We were on a mountainside, a few benches down from the top. It began blizzarding, all you could see was white. I was praying the snow would subside. We wouldn't be able to see a deer 10 yards in front of us if it didn't! The wild winds and snow calmed down not too long after they began.

About 45 minutes after sitting there we heard such a strange noise coming from my left. I looked at Trevor, he looked at me, what the heck was that? Then I heard Trevor say "Two deer, get ready!" A doe came flying by us 5 yards out, running full speed. Trevor said that he knew there was another down there. Just then he peeked his head out. He was a nice rack buck! I pulled up my .308 my dad had built himself, put the crosshairs on his chest and fired. He ran down the mountain 50 or so yards then stopped and looked back. Trevor drew his 300 H&H up to get ready to shoot if he wasnt down. He watched the buck through his scope, saw him take a step forward and collapse to the ground. He was gone. I had officially shot my first West Virginia buck!


I couldn't get down the mountainside fast enough to check him out! I was so excited! He turned out to be a really nice 7 point, especially for down in West Virginia. Bucks don't get very big down there due to the lack of food they have. Our Pennsylvania bucks seem like cows compared to the ones in West Virginia.  I filled out my tag and stuck it in his ear. I wanted so badly to call my dad and tell him the news, but there was no cellphone reception for miles and miles. Trevor pulled out his camera and took some pictures of my buck and I. I had made a perfect shot. The bullet went through the top of the heart and double lunged him. After he was field dressed out the drag up the mountain began. Thank god I had Trevor there or it would have taken me literally 3 hours to get that buck up the steep mountainside. We took turns dragging him up. Well, Trevor did most of it, I just gave him a break every now and then because I felt bad! Once we got him in the truck bed I put my gun away and we headed back out to try and get Trevor a buck before the day was over. It was still only 8am we had a lot of time left.

We walked all over the mountainsides the rest of the day. I wanted Trevor to shoot a buck so badly.  Meeting up with two other guys we decided to put on a drive around 3pm. Trevor & I set up at the end of a thicket while the other two walked through it. As soon as they walked in the mountainside came alive. There were deer running everywhere, going every which way! I strained to find a buck and I saw two. I whispered to Trevor, but he already had his rifle waiting for a buck that was down in a low spot. That buck started running closer! We bleated at him and he stopped behind a tree. He began moving again, we bleated, he stopped.. behind another tree! Trevor put his crosshair right in front of the tree waiting for him to step forward. He did, Trevor pulled the trigger and he collapsed to the ground. It was official, we just doubled up on two great West Virginia bucks! We were so excited!


Trevor’s buck ended up being a nice 8 point. After I took some pictures he field dressed the buck and we figured out the best way to drag him out. We were all the way at the bottom of the mountain with Trevor’s truck at the very top. We decided that wasnt even plausible to drag that buck up the mountain because we were both already absolutely exhausted. Thankfully our friend’s truck was parked at the bottom of the mountain, but it was still going to be a long drag. We finally made it back to that truck. Later on the other two met us there and we made the drive back up to Trevor’s truck.

We had both bucks loaded up and we were ready to go home. The sun was starting to set on such an amazing day. I was soaking wet and absolutely freezing. Since we were hunting out of state we had to stop at one of the local convenience stores to check in our deer. We did that, grabbed a couple snacks, and then headed on our trip home. We kept trying to make phone calls to our family on the way home, but we kept losing service. Eventually we were able to tell everyone about our awesome day!

So I had the following two days, Saturday and Sunday, to prepare for the opening day of buck season in Pennsylvania on Monday. Living in Wildlife Management Unit 2B we are not permitted to use rifles. My dad and I use slug guns to hunt our bucks. We watched the weather all weekend and it looked like it was going to be cold and rainy. What a surprise..not. The chances of having snow on opening day has always been rare. I kept thinking to myself how crazy it would be if I shot another buck on Monday! Then I thought about how much more crazier it would be if I harvested one of those big guys I saw during archery season!

Monday morning was here and I was ready. I posted up in a spot where I had seen many deer throughout archery season. The way the land is set up the deer tend to funnel into that spot. My dad was posted up in another decent spot not too far from me. We sat for a while and then he decided to push out the thicket, leading to where I was. We didn't see a single deer. So we put on another drive and once again we didn't see any deer. It was still only morning, but my hope was slowly dwindling. I kept thinking of the odds that I'd down another buck having just shot my West Virginia buck the other day.

We decided to push out one last thicket before we headed in for lunch and to dry off. I posted up and waited. Five or so minutes passed by then from what I heard it sounded as if a herd of buffalo we're running at me! A group of deer came flying out of the thicket. I was frantically searching for some antlers. I saw some finally which I realized only belonged to a spike and a 4 point. I met up with my dad to fill him in on what passed by. Hey.. At least they were bucks! We headed home on the ATV to warm up. I was still feeling pretty determined despite not seeing much that morning. We had about 4 or 5 hours left to make it happen.

With our stomachs full and some dry clothes on we took to the woods again. I hunt a large valley with a back road that runs through the very bottom. Both hillsides are fields covered in thick brush with acres of woods behind them. Putting on a few more drives on the opposing hillside that we had hunted that morning only doe were seen. We took the ATV up to the highest point on the hill. We scanned the hillside facing us for deer with the binoculars. At first we didn't see any. Then my dad noticed a deer like figure in the middle of the hill. We tried and tried, but couldn't make out if it was a deer, let alone a buck or a doe. We headed down the hillside, thinking that with a different angle we would have a better chance of making out what it was. We determined it was most definitely a deer. We moved a bit further down, pulling the binoculars up to our eyes. That's when I heard my dad declare that the deer was a buck, a giant one at that. I'll never forget his exact words, but I'll leave them out due to some profanity! Him having better binoculars than me at the time, I grabbed his up to get a better look. I don't know what exactly came out of my mouth, but I couldn't believe what I was seeing. We both agreed that buck looked like more like it was an elk! His tines were straight up and so tall. Enough gawking though, we had to make a plan to get all the way over there without being seen.

Taking the ATV to the bottom of the valley we parked it. We emptied our pockets of anything that wasn't necessary to take up there. The slightest sound of something banging around in our pockets would be enough to ruin our opportunity. We mapped out the path we would take, realizing that if things went according to plan he wouldn't catch us until we were 60 or so yards from him, guns drawn. The wind was working with us perfectly. We knew we'd have to move low and slow all the way up the hill. Hunched down and moving at a snail's pace we worked our way towards the buck. Once we made it up the hill far enough we would have to cut across being that he was standing in the middle. Once we had sight of him we would open fire.

So we were at the right elevation and began cutting across. We lost sight of him once we began our way up the hill. I was praying to God he hadn't moved. Then we were so close I could barely breathe. I knew right over the little knoll he'd be standing there. My heart was pounding out of my chest. We stepped forward and I made eye contact with the buck. My dad had not noticed the buck standing there yet, being only his chest and head were visible. The rest of his body was behind a bush.  He was so well camouflaged with the background of the thicket. As quietly as I could I whispered, "He's right there...", my eyes as big as tomatoes. I drew up my gun, my dad drew up his and we shot. There was no way that buck was getting away from us.

The buck took off at a slow run. One that you'd look at and think he's gonna be down within a hundred yards. My dad and I took off running to the spot where he was standing. Yes, blood! It was everywhere, covering the field. The buck took off out of the field and into the tree line. We went running that way following him. Just as we made it to the treeline our neighbor, Ernie, was standing there wide-eyed. He was out hunting as well, but had no idea we were right over in the field. Our buck ran right by him!

We had about 45 minutes of daylight left. My dad had me run down to get the ATV and grab some flashlights from the house in case we ended up not finding him before dark. Him and Ernie would continue to track him while I was gone. By the time I made it back up the hill the darkness had set in and our buck still wasn't found. We had a decent blood trail with good bright red blood. It would taper off here and there, but then would be followed up by large puddles. Ernie ran over to his house to get his old Coleman Lantern. Blood shows up really well with them. Another 45 minutes went by and our buck still wasn't recovered. Doug and Timmy, two of the Pennsylvania Game Deputies that patrol with my dad gave him a call. They were out patrolling, but decided to head on over to our place to help us track. So with myself, my neighbor, and three DWCO's ( who all took a class on tracking) I was sure we'd find our buck soon. “We better find him”, I thought to myself.

There's something about tracking deer at night that's fun, in my opinion. It's not something you get to do often! At this point we had been tracking for nearly two hours and we were 1.5 miles from where we originally shot. We were almost all the way through the patch of woods and nearing the road. Then Ernie thought of something that made my stomach flip upside down. He recalled after our buck had run by him a shot had been fired on the other side of the road shortly after. The same road that the blood trail was heading up towards. My heart sank. The thought of someone shooting our already shot buck and then tagging him as their own ripped me apart. I would be so devastated.

The blood trail made it right up to the road. I thought for sure he had crossed over, but my dad picked the trail back up heading the opposite way, back into the woods. It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. We started heading uphill and we were all so confused. What wounded deer runs uphill, let alone for this long??! The blood spots got fewer and farther in between. My stomach started knotting up again. I stood at the last blood spot for twenty minutes while the guys branched out to look for the next one.  Nobody could find any. My dad ventured a little bit further and yelled something I couldn't make out. Not wanting to leave the last blood spot I yelled back and asked him what he said. He didn't respond and then the guys started heading towards him. I took off running in the pitch black through the thorns to where my dad was, being pretty sure of what was going on.

OH MY GOD, THERE HE WAS. Our buck was laying there under a bush. My oh my was he nice!! His tines were so long and tall, all 10 of them. I couldn't have been happier in those few moments. I thanked the guys over and over for coming to help us. It might've taken us hours, but we finally found him.


The buck had run over two miles from where we shot him. The next dilemma was deciding how to get him out after he was tagged and field dressed. Thankfully we were close to the road. I called my mom and sister, asking them to bring one of my dad's trucks down to us so we could load him up. Too much traffic was flying by up and down the road so we turned on the truck's lights and sirens. This truck was the one that my dad used when out patrolling for the Game Commision. Timmy and Doug directed traffic while we got the buck loaded. All five of us jumped in the bed of the truck afterwards while my mom drove us home. Even though my dad mentioned to her "Remember were back here!", she drove a little too fast for our liking. Freezing wind whipped across our faces, but I wasn't complaining. This was the best deer season of my life so far!!


Our freezer is full to say the least. Just recently Trevor & I went out to pheasant hunt one afternoon. We hunted the same property where my dad & I had harvested the 10 point. We walked through the first thicket, him towards the top, myself on the bottom side. I told him to be ready when we got towards the end of the thicket. I had saw quite a few pheasants throughout deer season around there. And sure enough a nice big male flushed up to my left. I shot and he dropped. I ran over to check him out and he was beautiful. I was content with just him for the day. We headed on home to clean my bird. I kept the tail as a souvenir, which is something I've always done. I stuck the pheasant meat in the freezer, ready to be cooked for dinner.

I have doe tags left that I'll be getting ready to fill within the week or so. Living in Allegheny County we have an extended firearms season, allowing us to hunt does up until January 24th. If I could wish for anything it would be more time in the day. I didn't have much of a chance to do as much coyote hunting as usual and didn't make it out waterfowl hunting either this past season. With winter setting in and deer season going out we'll be getting after those coyotes here shortly. I can say that this year has come to a close and I couldn't be anymore thankful for how it's turned out! So many cool experiences and opportunities!

 Katelyn Cerciello

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Texas Hunt Conclusion


We were able to hunt the third day until 10 AM but the visibility that morning was very poor due to a very heavy fog. I did manage to see several turkeys and a few Whitetail deer (Doe) but no shooter bucks. It was time to head back to the lodge before I knew it.

Here are a few of the exciting animals we managed to see but they were off of our shooting list. It was a great hunting trip, hunting with great people.  I had a fantastic time and will never forget my time in Texas.



Oreck

Fallow Buck

Some adventures can't be measured in inches at the taxidermist. I feel like I made some great friends and shared a great hunt with some outstanding people from all over the country. Again, thank you Field & Stream for all you did!

Mr. Stroff Sr
Meeting Talon and Karen was so much fun.  These people work hard everyday raising whitetails and producing scents at Conquest 200.  It was great to hear their stories.

Talon, Karen, Beth and I

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Texas Hunt Part Three

The second day of my Texas hunt started off in a different ground blind.  We were up early and in the blind by 6 AM. It's a little different hunting with a cameraman and on camera.  I now have a lot more respect for the people hunting on TV shows, they go through a lot to get the shot on film.

We started seeing a few Doe just after daylight but wanted to wait to see if a mature Buck came into range.  One smaller buck made an appearance but he was not a shooter.

My rifle and Martin's camera
It was not long before another group of Doe came back to my blind.  They were feeding at 120 yards and were calm.  We decided to take the shot on one of the mature Doe.  I shot and she dropped in her tracks. Unfortunately the shot was a little far back and she got up and walked into the brush. We gave her a little time before deciding to start the recovery process.

Recovering my Doe


Randy came with Justin and they quickly found my Doe about 20 yards off the lane.  I was very excited to find her and to tag my first Whitetail deer in Texas. For me any animal I take is a trophy. I was very thankful that they found her so close. We placed my tag on her and loaded her into Randy's truck for processing.


A great morning hunt
We all return to the lodge for the afternoon meal. It was great to tell my story to everyone and hear about their exciting hunts.  Several of the hunters were successful and managed to tag some great Texas whitetail bucks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Texas Hunt Part Two

I did not sleep at all my first night in Texas, I was too excited. After a quick breakfast of pastries and juice we all started off to different hunting locations on the 19,000 acre ranch.  The first morning in the ground blind was everything I had been dreaming about over the last several months.

Martin, Beth and I settled into our blind before daylight and waited for the action to start. It was not long before I seen a nice Whitetail buck off to my left.  He was not a shooter but it was great to see him!

Martin our camera man
We had some big Texas long beards around several times throughout the day.  One group of gobblers (30 or more birds) were in front of me for at least 15 minutes at 20 yards. I was surprised to see how big the birds were, much taller than the eastern  turkey I was used to seeing.

Gobbler at 20 yards

After the morning hunt several of us hunters went to the rifle range. After flying I really wanted to check my rifle and make sure the zero had not changed. It was such a thrill to be able to shoot with Mike Sr.. I was a little nervous to say the least and pulled my first shot low left. But my next two shots were right on target, 100 yard bull's-eye!

Shooting with Mike Stroff Sr

We ended the first day hunting without taking a shot, but my first day hunting in Texas was fantastic. Spending the day with professional hunters and cameramen was an outstanding experience, one I will never forget. Some trophies you cannot put a tag on or take a picture of.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Texas Hunt Part One

First I would like to thank Field & Stream for sponsoring a fantastic hunt.  Everyone at Field & Stream was great to deal with.  They completely understand the outdoors and they also understand what it's like to travel with a significant disability. I could not ask for better accommodations.

 I flew to San Antonio Texas on Saturday and returned to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The flight down went well on United airlines. The only issues I had was with boarding the plane. The people were friendly when they were transferring me, however no one seemed to know how to secure me using the seatbelts on the aisle chair. This would prove to be an issue on the return flight as well.

Before the trip I ordered some supplies to make a chest strap from Amazon (belt, strap, buckle). This turned out to be very helpful and I would recommend any quadriplegic give this a try when flying. Using this homemade chest strap was helpful on the flight and when I was using United's wheelchair.  Transferring planes in Houston and moving throughout the airport was made easier with this chest strap.

Chest strap on plane

We flew down with Justin Long from Field & Stream. Justin is a great guy and really helped so much on this trip. We also met our cameraman at the airport in San Antonio, Martin.  Martin is the ultimate professional cameraman and I loved hearing his stories in the ground blind. He has filmed all over the world with some great hunters.

An accessible van was waiting at the airport for my trip to Canyon Ranch, near Sonora Texas. It's funny, I have the exact same van even the same color. The ranch is located almost 3 hours from San Antonio. It was a beautiful drive across Texas and I was able to see lots of deer and turkeys along the way.

Van rental

When we arrived at the ranch we were greeted by Mr. Mike Stroff Senior and Randy. Right away they made me feel welcome and told me to make myself at home at the ranch.  The ranch is extremely beautiful and the ultimate man cave. Other hunters were coming in and it was nice meeting everyone over dinner.

Canyon Ranch Texas

After dinner we talked with Mike Stroff the host of Savage Outdoors, he went over safety and strategy for the week and wished us all a safe and successful hunt. We would all be going out in the morning leaving at 5:15 AM.
Best Man cave ever