Define Adventure – Hunting the Wilds
Every year, come September, I head west in search of bugling bulls and, more importantly, adventure. The Rocky Mountains have an allure to them that is difficult to describe to anyone who has not visited them. Now that I have spent a few years traveling all over from Ohio to Colorado to Alberta, Canada, hunting, it makes me appreciate what we have here in our backyards even more. The Pennsylvania Wilds region of the Appalachian Mountains is home to some of the most remote, beautiful country that I’ve seen so far. Within these densely forested mountains, you can find a wide variety of wildlife that you can hunt during the fall and winter months. I could write for days about all of the opportunities that are available to hunt in Northern Pennsylvania, but I’m going to stick to the one I’m most passionate about.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in the United States, and for good reason. They live anywhere from the big woods and mountains, to farm country, swamps, suburbs, and everywhere in between. They can adapt and have a will to survive that makes them the ultimate challenge in my book.
Let’s take a step back for a minute and get some background on what has led me to adventure hunting whitetails in Pennsylvania as I’m about to share. On my first trip out West, I went on a Do-It-Yourself backcountry elk hunt where we packed into the mountains of Colorado for seven days with everything we needed on our backs. This trip was difficult and tiring, but it taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. When you are completely in tune with everything you need to do to survive — such as finding water, cooking food,and staying warm and dry — it has a sense of primal feeling as those experienced centuries before us. Although we have a lot nicer gear in the 21st century, it feels like you are back in those days of true hunters and gatherers. Due to work, family and monetary reasons, these types of trips aren’t something that the average guy is going to be doing more than once or twice a year if they’re lucky. I wanted more of those adventure-style hunts.
This led me to rethinking the way that I whitetail hunted in Pennsylvania. We have all of this remote, wild country in Northern Pennsylvania that can be explored. Why can’t I apply the same mindset? In a lot of areas in Pennsylvania, you are allowed to camp on the public lands. That means you can still put camp and all of your gear on your back to hike deep into the mountains to get away from people and enjoy the wilderness that we have available. Although not all public lands allow camping anywhere, you can find campgrounds available to setup a tent or truck camp, or maybe rent a cabin with a couple of friends. Make sure to check the regulations prior to camping.
References for camping regulations in Pennsylvania:
In addition, I believe that you have the best opportunity to take a really mature, old buck. These deer have survived long winters and predation for many years making them difficult to hunt, but that much more rewarding when you finally capitalize on an opportunity. Some of these deer grow large antlers, some don’t. This depends on the food available, hunting pressure, genetics and many other things. These deer live on large oak ridges, deep in old logging clearcuts and in the native trout stream valleys. I can’t stress the point enough that you have to want to hunt the experience just as much as, if not more than, the deer itself. If you go into it with that mindset, you will come out successful.
This past month, I spent more than a week hunting the Pennsylvania Wilds and ended up never filling my buck tag. Was it a waste of time? Absolutely not. I am grateful for the opportunity to hunt these deer and be able to do it on land that is owned by each and every one of us. I define success on the adventure and lessons learned when hunting in the mountains. Some years I come home with lean meat to provide food for the year, and other years I don’t. That’s why it’s called hunting. If it was easy, I wouldn’t come back year after year to test myself. I strongly encourage those who enjoy adventure, getting out of their comfort zone, and a challenge, to try a hunt in the Pennsylvania Wilds in the near future.
For more information on Pennsylvania hunting rules and regulations, follow the link to the Pennsylvania Game Commission website below:
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