By Ken Maurer
For The Daily Item
As we started the climb up Rt. 44 for our annual muzzleloader/trapping foray, we were wondering if we would be able to even get into camp. We had a good bit of snow here, and we had reports of our slice of Potter getting 15 to 18 inches of the white stuff. There are plenty of gas wells, old and new, around Chris’s camp, so we were hoping they had most of the roads cleared.
The whole issue of roads up there is a bit confusing. The gas crews keep a lot of roads open to get around to the wells, but the DCNR has some open and some closed to hunting vehicle traffic. With this amount of snow, which we aren’t used to lately, the snowmobile activity comes into play. Snowmobiles are allowed on some roads and not others, and some roads are shared by both cars and snow machines. Trust me, driving a truck on one of those shared roads makes for some white-knuckle steering workouts, especially going uphill.
Chris, Greg and I made it into camp without much trouble and set about shoveling the steps and the important paths to the water pipe and the outhouse. Chris had readied the woodstove with wood and tinder when he left in gun season and by the time we were leaning on the shovels, the cabin was beginning to warm. We had enough food, guns and clothing for a small army and it took a while to get everything in place. We finally got settled in, sat back and relaxed a bit.
With all the snow, this year we were not going to be able to go crazy and cover half the county. Eventually we wandered out of the cabin and did some driving around to see where we could and couldn’t go. A lot of Chris’ spots were simply places where you were asking for “getting stuck” trouble. We got a handful of traps in the ground and found a good bit of deer sign. There were more deer tracks around than we had seen for years. Granted the snow had been there a while and a few deer can make a lot of tracks.
We got back to camp and were a little disappointed that the snow would be limiting our mobility. Not long after dark, headlights came down the lane. We weren’t expecting the rest of the crew, Brian and Casey, until the next day. However, both of those guys suffer from serious cases of hunting and trapping fever and wild horses probably couldn’t have held them back.
The next morning it was in the single digits as we set out to put more traps out and look for deer. The going was slow, but we did cover a little ground. We found more deer sign, but the bobcat and coyote tracks we were looking for were hard to come by.
At one set location, I walked less than a hundred yards into the woods along the edge of a clearcut. A pair of snowshoes would have been the ticket because in some spots the snow was up to my knees. Chris was fighting a flu before we even got to camp, so he wasn’t climbing any mountains either.
Trap checking on this trip was a bore. After four days, all we had was more snow and more deer tracks. The deer and the predators got a pass from us on this trip, but we’ll be back next year, and we’ll likely be packing snowshoes or trying to bum one of those snowmobiles from somebody.
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