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coosa, craigd, FallCreekFan, GLS, Imperdix, John Roberts, journeymen, keith, Lloyd3, mc, Parabola, Run With The Fox, spring, Stanton Hillis, Ted Schefelbein
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Original Post (Thread Starter)
by Lloyd3
We were supposed to fly SouthWest into Buffalo on the 26th of December. Found out on Christmas morning (& not from SouthWest) that the airport there was closed and not expected to reopen anytime soon. A quick review of the air transport system (& our options) wasn't very reassuring so...we drove it. Threw out the in-laws after Christmas dinner(!) and packed up our 5-year old crossover Mazda (which nobody but me liked before this trip) and hit the road a little after 6PM here. Got on I-70 East of Denver and took it all the way to Columbus, Ohio. From there up to Erie and then the "Lower Tier Expressway" to Salamanca, NY, dropping into Pennsylvania from there. Three drivers and 23 hours of straight driving (not for the faint of heart). We actually got there about when we would have otherwise if we'd have flown. I did fine until we visited a little bar & grill the following evening where my now-deceased brother-in-law's oldest daughter was working and saw his photograph on the wall of "Local Heros" (the establishment is owned by a former LEO as well). Change is hard, eh? No bird hunting or fishing this trip, just lots of little visits with what remains of my other friends and associates from my past-life there. The driving tour across the country was an interesting view of current conditions "on the ground" for several states (Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and of course Pennsylvania. I can report that the "infrastructure" that the politicians like to talk about, all the way across the country... is looking pretty shopworn (St. Louis seemed to be the worst). I have remarked to my family (for many years now....something of a broken-record I fear) how bad things looked to me in at-least my part of Pennsylvania, but the rest of the country we crossed was looking pretty tough to me too. Another thing that I had noticed back there in the last few years was how, even in what was historically the more-remote areas, there were people now trying to scratch out an existence. Many (if not most) of my old coverts back there now have houses (or trailers) on them. I guess I'm not sure if I'm just-another angry old white guy or if I'm really seeing something unfold?
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by Stanton Hillis
Stanton Hillis
This form of "progress" has largely been lost on my little part of the world, thankfully. Oh, there is a nuclear power plant up the river aways, across from Savannah River Site, but both are in isolated areas that required the loss of not much good bird habitat. Indeed, other game coexists with the two mega-plants. Because this part of Georgia is so intensely agricultural, and because the counties for the most part have recognized the value of this to the local economies, there has been farmland protection steps taken over the years. There are covenants available to reduce landowner's taxes in exchange for promising not to develop the land. I live between two large state owned wildlife management areas. While this has caused some consternation because of our proximity to them, in the way of poachers who claim they thought they were on Yuchi, or Tuckahoe, it also has provided many opportunities to hunters and fishermen.

There is no longer a huntable population of quail, but they aren't completely gone, and have adapted to their habitat changes successfully. The population on my properties, and on those surrounding me, holds it's own. They're tough little boogers and my hat's off to them for surviving against overwhelming odds. Learning to escape to thick woodlots is the biggest difference I see in their habits. They just don't get out in the open broomsedge fields and harvested grain fields as much as in the old days. They never seem to be more than a few second's quick flight to thick stuff, by thick I mean impenetrable ........ by most hawks, or man. Hunters don't bother them much anymore. Lots of new houses being built here, stick built houses. More irrigation systems going in, on farmland. that's a sign that it will likely remain undeveloped for quite awhile.

I know I am blessed to be able to "escape" the day to day clockwork of life by running down to the nearby Savannah River. I can literally back my truck up to my boat at my shelter, drive to the landing, and be in the water in not much over 5 minutes. I can be at the sandbar in 20, from my yard. Everyone needs a place they where can enjoy a brain drain. I'm just fortunate that many of those places are still nearby me.

Savannah River, South Carolina side on the left looking downstream, between Stoney Bluff Landing and the US 301 bridge.

[Linked Image from]
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by keith
Lloyd, I'd guess part of the problem is that you picked the worst possible time to travel back east. Nothing looks great a day after a winter storm and blizzard. I'm sure the unexpected change in travel plans didn't help either.

Development has always been something hunters dislike. But it has happened everywhere some humans saw an opportunity. About 20 years ago, I was hunting near Tionesta, Pa., not far from your hometown. I met an elderly guy sitting on a log in the woods, overlooking a creek bottom on the Taylor Reserve. He was at least 80 years old, and as we spoke, he pointed to the hillside across the creek, and told me he was born over there. Now, the only sign of human activity was old overgrown logging roads, some long abandoned oil well casings, and the remains of an old pump house with part of a large hit-and-miss engine. So of course, I asked him about being born there.

He told me there was a small village there that was all gone soon after the Great Depression hit. He said there were several houses, a general store, a violin maker's shop, a sawmill, and a coal dump station. There was also a narrow gauge railroad line that served the area, and hauled oil, coal, and timber. That explained how they probably got that large hit-and-miss engine and cast iron flywheel so far back in the woods. I told him I never noticed any sign of that, except for the rusted oil wells and pump house. So he went into detail about where remnants of old stone foundations and signs of the rail line might still be found. I paid close attention on later hunts, and found some. All that remained of the rail line was some regular depressions in the ground where the railroad ties had been before rotting away. I was amazed at how quickly the earth had swallowed up almost all signs that this had been a place where people lived and worked.

And I'm sure you've heard of places near there like Pithole City and Petroleum Centre in Cornplanter Township. Both are Ghost Towns where virtually nothing remains. Petroleum Centre had several thousand people in the 1860's until the oil wells stopped producing, but all that is left are stone steps from a bank building. In the 1860's Pithole City was an Oil Boom-town that quickly grew from a small farm in the wilderness to a town of nearly 20,000 people. Old photographs show it was an environmental disaster where almost every tree for miles around was cut down to build derricks, pump houses, oil storage tanks, barrels, hotels, buildings, saloons, theaters, churches, and brothels. Oil spills, leaks, and fires scarred the land. Dirt roads became a sea of mud, crude oil, sewage, and waste. It was said that toxic muck covered the horses that pulled the Teamster's wagons, and caused them to lose all of their hair. Yet when you walk and hunt that area today, there is barely a sign that it ever existed, and it seems like a pristine woodland with crystal clear streams. If you can snag a copy of this book on Pithole City by William Darrah, you'll find it fascinating:

[Linked Image from]

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania in Tioga and Lycoming counties looks like a geological feature that was created over a million or more years. But in reality, it was a relatively shallow valley in a conifer forest that was very quickly carved out by massive erosion soon after the virgin timber was clear cut. In fact, Pennsylvania was predominately conifer forest until early settlers repeatedly logged it, and it turned to mostly deciduous hardwood forest. That was a huge change that helped habitat for game and hunting. It also opened the door for agriculture.

You saw the pictures I posted here a couple years ago of some of remains of early stone iron making furnaces that were built in Pennsylvania during the 1800's. Every time I hunt near some of these ruins, I'm blown away with the fact that these now heavily wooded areas were once heavily logged and mined to get the charcoal, iron ore, and limestone that fed the furnaces for years. Most ran until almost all trees were cut down for miles around, and it became uneconomical to transport wood to produce charcoal. I'd guess that didn't help hunting in those days. But without iron and steel-making, there would be no firearms to hunt with either. Nor the means and materials to build a nation.

If you think about it, even Stan's farm, and all the farm lands we love to hunt because of the allure of agriculture to wild game, also represents development. Before Stan's ancestors worked to clear the land and build a farm, there was probably native woods and swamps, and possibly remains of Civil War battles. For many of us, some of the best hunting opportunities we have are on or near farms. And without that human encroachment, poverty and starvation in the world would be much worse.

Change happens to the places we hunt. Some is bad, some good, and all is temporary. The change in our country that really bothers me is the recent cultural change that seems like it may do far more damage than any urban development or environmental disaster. I'm talking about a weird and mentally ill world where depraved people try to indoctrinate our children, and convince us that perversions are normal or that men can become women... and expect us to accept it without question. I hope humanity can recover from that.
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by Lloyd3
Keith, you are correct, it is Slatertown. My folks lived in Saegertown for a short while in the 90s and I'm sadly confusing the two names. There's another fairly big furnace near to the Miller Farm just west of Polk on US 62 (and Big Sandy Creek). I used to know it's name but can't recall it now. Yes, hunting there is on top of the bones of a great deal of history. I really miss being able to just step out my door and walk into the woods to start my hunt. Did that all through highschool and simply took it for granted. Now I can't safely unslip a gun untill I'm several miles from home, and any "real" hunting now requires several hours of travel (like 4 or 5). Before I'm too old to do it, I might end up back there again someday. It would be a real treat to be able to step out my door again, gun in hand, and not stir anybody up.

If I remember correctly, that Bullion Run furnace was called the General Grant. We used to ride our bikes out there from town and collect the shiny green and grey "clinkers". The sharp edges would usually cut holes in my pants pockets.
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by keith
Originally Posted by Lloyd3
Keith: I didnt realize that PA was initially mostly evergreen, thankyou for that. Ever heard of Sagertown? On Route 965 out of Polk, Pa there is a Sagertown Road which is a reference to a town that has been gone since the 1920s. My grandfather used to deliver groceries there as a very young man (he was born in 1904). Nothing left but a few foundations and is a locally favorite area now for deer hunting.

Lloyd are you perhaps thinking of Slatertown? There is a small town named Saegertown (slightly different spelling) about 25 miles NNW of Polk, over in Crawford County, but it is still alive and well.

I've hunted a number of spots around Polk and Rt. 965 over the years, and I am very familiar with Slatertown Road, which is a dirt road that comes out to Rt. 965 a little west of Polk. I'm also pretty sure there was once a small village by that name along its' route that is totally gone. The last time I was there, I had been grouse hunting off Dog Hollow Rd. near Bullion, and wanted to check a potential muzzleloading deer hunting spot near Raymilton to see if the area I'd hunted a couple years before had been posted. It was already past noon and I wanted to get in some more grouse hunting, so I took a shortcut on Slatertown Rd. through the middle of State Game Lands 39. The weather had turned to sleet and freezing rain, and I was a bit hesitant as I hit the steepest part of the hill going down into the bottoms to cross South Sandy Creek. The dirt road looked like wet glass, and I almost got stopped, then slowly slid off the side of the icy road into a shallow ditch. I had a grand old time until nearly 5:00 PM pulling my truck back onto the road with a couple come-a-longs and chains wrapped around trees. I fell on the ice several times, and at one point slid on my ass about 40-50 feet downhill when I was putting tire chains on my back tires, because obviously the studded tires were not going to be enough. Over the years, I've learned that it is always best to put on tire chains before you get stuck... not after. By the time I got to where I had a bit of traction, it was almost dark. I abandoned the idea of going all the way across over toward Rt. 965, and instead headed back toward I-80 at Barkeyville, hoping the salt trucks were out.

SGL 39 near Slatertown Rd. is also the area where my cousin was shot dead while turkey hunting when I was in college. Not a good memory there, and devastating to my uncle who was hunting with him that day.

There are remains of several of those old stone blast furnaces very near this area. Victory Furnace is a few miles northeast of the other end of Slatertown Rd. where it meets old Rt. 8. There is another in pretty bad condition at Raymilton, and another a few miles east along Bullion Run. I killed my first buck with a flintlock rifle sitting about 30 feet high up on top of Webster Furnace (built in 1838 on Bear Run) near East Sandy Creek between Van and Rockland. I didn't even know what it was when I found this big snow covered cut stone structure in the darkness at around 5:30 AM on the first day of buck season, and foolishly decided it would be a great idea to climb it, and use it as a deer stand. Back then, I'd climb about anything to get a better vantage point. Now I'm a bit more aware of my mortality. Two hours later, two bucks and several does on a mid-morning feed came into range, and I set the trigger, squeezed, and had a flash in the pan. That got their attention, but they nervously stared at me and stamped the ground while I poked my pick into the vent, re-primed, and fired again. This time I took the 8 point with a heart shot. A guy I knew had later told me my stand was an old brick making furnace. It was only about 8 or 9 years ago that I revisited it and researched what it really was used for. That whetted my interest, and led me to find more of them while also leading me to hunt in new areas. I love hunting new and unfamiliar areas, even though it is harder to be successful than patterning the game with trail cameras, etc. I never imagined that my hunting would also become a living breathing history lesson, but a lot of our past is out in them thar' woods.
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by FallCreekFan
Can’t comment on the first of those two but definitely know the second is true. I make that drive (as far as STL) multiple times a year to care for an elderly aunt. I spent my first 22 years in Missouri and so much has changed, some for the better but far more for the worse.

As for the wild places and the hunting grounds of our youth, I’ll let a real writer speak to those:

“I came by there five years ago and where I shot that pheasant there was a hotdog place and filling station and the north prairie, where we hunted snipe in the spring and skated on the sloughs when they froze in the winter, was all a subdivision of mean houses, and in the town, the house where I was born was gone and they had cut down the oak trees and built an apartment house close out against the street. So I was glad I went away from there as soon as I did. Because when you like to shoot and fish you have to move often and always farther out and it doesn’t make any difference what they do when you are gone.”
Ernest Hemingway - Remembering Shooting-Flying
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by GLS
Jenny is the opposite sex of a jake. I hear it all the time. Gil
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by keith
Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
Excellent post, Keith.

Thanks Stan. I really enjoyed yours too. Growing up, I was always envious of guys like you who lived in places where they could walk out the back door and go hunting or shooting. And that's why I bought acreage and built a house in the country where I could do just that. It's a lot of work, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
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