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The Hunter's Cabin

Families Carry on Tradition During Pa. Deer Season

By Roxann Miller | The Herald-Mail

Dec. 2, 2013, 10:09 a.m.

FORT LOUDON, Pa. — Opening day of Pennsylvania’s two-week deer season kicked off Monday.

The first day of hunting season is something most hunters look forward to all year, but this year is special to Jeff Johnson of Waynesboro, Pa., because he’s taking his 12-year-old son Jesse hunting for the first time.

Father and son were buying some last-minute items Saturday at Keystone Country Store in Fort Loudon before going to a hunting cabin with some hunting buddies.

While Dad was beyond excited, Jesse wasn’t quite sure about the new experience.

“I’m not sure how fun it is,” Jesse said. “It depends how I like it.”

But Jeff Johnson, who has been hunting since the tender age of 12, is confident that Jesse will fall in love with the family tradition.

Johnson’s father took him hunting for the first time.

“It teaches values, patience and responsibility,” Johnson said.

The shivering in the woods, waiting on that elusive deer to wander by — Johnson said it’s all part of the joy of hunting.

About 750,000 hunters were expected to take to the woods Monday, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The game commission has been tracking deer populations as stable or increasing in nearly all of the state’s 23 wildlife-management units.

Scott Early of Frederick, Md., has been hunting since he was 12 years old.

He said his grandfather showed him the ropes, and he’s been hooked ever since.

This year, he’s hunting in Fulton County, Pa., with his two brothers.

“It’s my favorite time of year between Thanksgiving eating and then hunting on Monday,” he said.

His 9-month-old daughter is too small to take to the woods, but she will one day, he said.

“She’s not into hunting yet, but she’s going to be,” Early said with certainty in his voice.

He said hunting presents teachable moments.

“It teaches a lot of things about the wilderness, taking care of the environment and things like that,” he said.

The avid hunter bought a scope, a license and ammunition at the Fort Loudon hunting and fishing store on Saturday.

Last year, Scottie Mellott, 58, Mercersburg, Pa., said he almost became the hunted.

“I almost got run over by the buck I shot,” Mellott said.

Before he had time to get his pack off and sit down in his spot, Mellott said deer came over the ridge where he was hunting.

With his high-powered rifle, with a scope, he said all he could see was brown coming at him.

So he shot and felled a 6-point buck.

Thus far, he said that’s the best deer he’s bagged.

“Unless you count the 11-point I got with my car,” he said with a smile.

Mellott said he looks forward to deer season every year.

“When I was a kid, I couldn’t sleep. We would get up at 4 o’clock. My mom would make us breakfast (before hunting) and that was pretty cool,” he said. “I couldn’t wait for deer season.”

Gary Seburn, gun manager at Keystone Country Store, said Saturday was busy, and he expected Sunday to be even busier.

Seburn said he will be out looking for deer Monday.

“I’ll be hunting with my 15-year-old son. He really likes to hunt,” Seburn said. “He likes the outdoors.”

He said the store sees a lot of families carrying on the tradition.

“Grandfathers are bringing their grandchildren in and buying them their first gun — or their father will,” Seburn said.

Eventually, he said the older generation teaches the younger generation until the older hunter’s health fails and then the younger generation continues the family tradition.

Seburn said he hunts because it gets him away from today’s fast-paced world and back to nature.

“You get away from everything. You can go out and see deer walking through the woods or turkey coming up through the woods,” Seburn said. “You see wildlife that 90 percent of the people never see in their lifetime.”

Roxann Miller is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at roxann.miller@herald-mail.com.

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