BY ETHAN BLOUGH
Bob Gray and his son, Scott, come from Virginia each year to hunt Pennsylvania white-tail deer.
Bob, a 1965 graduate of Ferndale-Dale High School and retired systems analyst for Bethlehem Steel Corp., and Scott, a Ferndale graduate and Senior Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, each started hunting in western Pa. and the two are drawn back annually because of the terrain.
“I still miss the hills and mountains and the ability to go hunting and fishing so easily,” Bob Gray said. “It’s all readily available here. It’s nice to come here 10 minutes from Ferndale and be hunting (at North Fork).
“I’m here for a solid week of hunting.”
Bob, 59, had some complaints about the current deer management issue, but he places the fault more toward landowners. Although, he believes that something must be working because this year is better than last.
“I’m a little discouraged about seeing less deer, but my biggest gripe is posted land,” he said. “Hunters can’t get in to move deer around and I can’t fault the game commission for that. I’m seeing posted property where we used to have free roam of a countryside.”
This year, he said, is better than last year – when Bob Gray said he put in about 60 hours of hunting in Bedford, Somerset and Cambria Counties, and saw just one deer.
“This year’s a different story,” he said after seeing more than a dozen deer in less than two full days of hunting. But, he admits, it’s nothing like it used to be.
Another of Bob Gray’s concerns is that, because of the fairly new regulation, too many people are shooting first and asking questions later. With a doe tag, a hunter can shoot either sex during the two-week rifle season.
Bob Gray can remember taking his grandfather’s double-barrel shotgun to school for hunting club. He said it’s “different” now and hunting isn’t as popular for young kids, especially where he lives, in Chesapeake, Va.
“Now,” he said, “you can’t even smoke on school property. Today, they’re brainwashing these kids that it’s bad to shoot animals.
“I was just thinking if I would ever quit hunting it would be because there are no more children or grandchildren to teach and to hunt with.”
Scott Gray, 40, shares some of his father’s opinions, but also has a clear one all his own.
“What they’re doing here (with deer management) is the same as any other state, but I think Pennsylvania hunters are spoiled,” he said. “No one’s willing to go into the woods far enough. No one’s willing to scout and no one’s putting in the time. On the first day, hunters were leaving at 8 in the morning.”
He agrees with the antler restrictions, to a degree, because the bucks he’s seeing seem to be larger than in years past.
“After years of seeing all those spikes, now we’re getting big ones,” Scott Gray said. “So that part of the plan is working.”
His hunting buddy, Sanford Gunby of Walnut Grove, has no complaints about the current state of the deer population.
“My opinion: The deer are out there, you just have to go get them,” Gunby said. “I’m 100-percent content. Last year, I didn’t see a deer, though.”
The two hunted in Davids-ville during archery season, and said the bucks they saw then were trophies.
“During archery season, the last 20 minutes of light we saw seven bucks in a field,” Scott Gray said. “The deer we saw during archery ...,”
“Wallhangers,” Gunby added.
They’re out there, find one.
Ethan Blough is a news assistant for The Tribune-Democrat.