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BEGINNERS LUCK

Story ID:9381
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Prattsville New York USA
Year:1951
Person:Boy from NYC
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BEGINNERS LUCK

BEGINNERS LUCK
By Fred Wickert


The Deer hunting season had begun in the Catskill Mountains that year of 1951. The men all had the fever from 16 years of age and up, while 14 and 15 year olds bemoaned the fact they were not yet old enough to get a license.

Newspapers and news broadcasts carried stories of people getting arrested for various infractions. Most were either of trespassing on posted land or of shooting a doe. Shooting a doe was sacrilege in those days. Now doe permits are routinely increased in attempts at population control. Sometimes the antlers were to short, being less than the required six inch minimum, and there was the occasional story where some fool shot himself in the foot.

In 1951 though, there was another type of story hit the news. There was a lot of talk about that one. One of the adjoining towns to Gilboa, my home town, is a town called Prattsville. There is a part of the town of Prattsville called Johnson Hollow. I have hunted in Johnson Hollow a few times myself. It is wild territory with small streams and steep sided ravines and sharp ridges. It is rough going but it is also excellent deer country.

According to the news, a couple from New York city had been coming to Johnson Hollow for years to deer hunt. In 1951 their son turned sixteen and they brought him along for his first hunt. He had been given a brand new lever action carbine for his birthday. His parents, fearing he might get lost, left him in a small clearing in the woods and told him to remain there and they were going to scout around for some sign and then come back for him.

Mother and father proceeded in to the woods and out of sight and hearing from the boy. Twenty minutes had passed. The boy had looked all around his surroundings and finally sat on a large rock outcropping. Mom and Dad by that time had gone more than 100 yards into the woods. Suddenly from where they had left their son, rifle shots rang out. First one, then another and another and another. The parents decided they had better hurry back to their son to see why he was shooting so much.

When the parents entered the little clearing, they were amazed to see their son sitting on the rock with the biggest black bear you ever saw, laying dead at their sonís feet. The bear had entered the small clearing and stood up on the hind legs. The boy took aim and fired, hitting the bear, only the bear did not fall. The bear got mad and headed for the boy. They boy levered another round in the chamber and fired again. The bear kept coming so the boy fired again. The bear kept getting closer and the boy kept shooting. There were six shots went in to that bear before he fell at the boys feet. It was a good thing because the rifle was empty. He had fired his last round.

The boy not only got a bear on his first day of his first hunt, but he got a record as the bear turned out to be at that time, the biggest black bear ever taken. The papers had his picture with his rifle and the bear. I wonder how many newspapers they bought to take back to the city with them. Without those papers for proof, who could have believed him when he told a story like that?

The next few days Johnson Hollow was so crowded with hunters it was a waste of time to go there to hunt.

Photo of a bear was taken by the author in the spring in his yard. The bear tipped over a squirrel feeder in the tree and laid down to eat the contents that spilled out on the ground.

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