It was early November in 1980; the snow was pouring and fall turkey season was in. It was the perfect combination. I was in Garrett County, MD on a piece of property that had beaver dams and overgrown fields. This was private property and bordered Savage River State Forest. I was in an old field covered with Hawthorne trees a noticed something sticking up from the snow at the base of the biggest tree. Upon further inspection it was a small 8 pt. buck; the deer was partially covered with leaves and other debris. It had puncture wounds in its neck and the left hind-quarter was partially eaten. I will never forget the look of terror in that deer’s’ face. Mouth wide open and bulging eyes; it just wasn't what you would normally see. It is also kind of hard to turkey hunt while you are constantly looking behind you.
In November of 1986 several of us were making mid-day short deer drives on Allegheny Mountain. The road on top was the Pocahontas County-Bath County, VA line. We were walking points into Little Back Creek. The weather was miserable with ice forming on your cloths and then sliding off. I had just met up with one of the other drivers and we were discussing the merits of continuing on. We were standing above a laurel covered rock ledge and we both saw something that didn't look like a deer scoot off the rocks. We never thought much about it and went to our predetermined evening stands. Probably mumbling something about being tired of being the dogs. That evening at a cabin on Little Back Creek; one of the older hunters (who is one of the most accomplished hunters WV or VA has ever seen) called us into the other room of the cabin. He asked us if we had seen anything when we crossed the head of such and such hollow. I remember saying that the only thing we saw scooted of a rock ledge while we were talking. He then said “well, you two went and run a little panther right over top of me”. I’ll never forget that one. It was just the way he said it that stuck with me.
One week later it was opening day of the WV deer season and I was on Gauley Mountain in Pocahontas County. There was 6 inches of snow on the ground at daylight and I do not believe it stopped all day. I had seen nothing except for a couple of ravens and one set of bear tracks the entire morning. I did a lot of walking and nothing much was going on; except for snow. It was around 2 pm and I can remember eating a half frozen pepperoni roll and staring off the mountain. I was deciding on which ridge would take me to the truck. The snow still hadn't let up and I headed down. I crossed one hollow and was on the next ridge which I thought led down to the truck. I hadn't went a hundred yards down the ridge and there they were 2 big sets of cat tracks walking side by side; complete with tail drag marks in the snow. Headed to Slatyfork.
This is my articl for Two-Lane Livin March 2015.
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