Land of the deer and the derrick

Back in NY deer hunting. Our little town of Bolivar in Allegany county is surrounded by hardwood covered hills. A high school classmate, Pat, and his dad own the hill above the high school. Pat lives on one side of it, and his parents on the other. So, we start up one or the other side, and chase whitetail deer.

I saw 9 my first day. Pat showed me on a map where the deer would be. When I reached the very spot, there were about 5 of them righ where he said they’d be. I saw two other groups of 2, but no bucks. Perfect hunting conditions, with some snow on the ground, the leaves all off, and good temps (30’s) for hiking without over heating, and tolerable to stand or sit for awhile, too. Lots of black-capped chickadees and gray squirrels in the woods, and I saw a blue jay in the apple tree next to Pat’s house. Lots of apples this year, but little mast crop (acorns, etc.)

Such a pretty place here that I grew up. Not much has changed in my lifetime, and unless there’s another mini oil boom, not much will. If a guy can get a stable job with a decent wage, it’s a great place to live. Housing is cheap, food is cheap, and everyone knows everyone. Taxes are NY States’ achilles heel, but with land values so low here, I guess folks can afford it. Still lots of signs of the early oil industry here, with the wood oil holding tanks, well pipes sticking out of the ground, and the old pumps here and there.

I went to see my 88 year old aunt, who is in such great shape. She can’t always remember things that happened 30 minutes ago, but has a great recollection of what happened 30 years ago. I enjoy hearing all her stories, and prompt her for information all I can about our family. She had a photo album of old, old photos, some of which had my mom in them. She had me take all the photos with my mom, and as I was leaving after 4 hours of visiting, she said she enjoyed talking with me because she said it made her feel like she was talking with my mom, who she misses alot.

We talked about the election, and she said she voted for McCain because Obama was pro-choice. And when I brought up the irony of McCain being pro-life but wanting to continue the war and killing in Iraq, she said that it was such a hard choice choosing a president, and what are we doing over there anyway? It made me feel good that at least people are having a hard time choosing one over the other.

Last night, Pat and I sat at the country club bar for a few too many drinks (headache this morning) and good conversation with the manager and the bartender, whose sister was also a classmate of ours. I spent much of my youth at the country club area, fishing the stream, wading the stream for golf balls, working in the pro shop, then later on the grounds crew, and golfing there all I could from the time I was about 12 to 17. Of course, some of my close friends were a topic of discussion, and Pat and I were updated as to who was cheating on who, etc. It was good to see the bartender had managed to scratch out a life and stay here in Bolivar. He recently bought a spread south of town with some hunting acerage attached, and was excited that his son had just harvested and dressed his first deer, and that the kid wanted to be a welder. Also some interesting talk of sightings of a bobcat, and also cougars, although it seems no one has got a photo of one
yet. I’d think with all the cameras in the woods now that someone would have a photo of one.

Back to Juneau on Sat, with a grueling DC-LA-Seattle-Juneau flight. Will be good to see my wife for awhile. The slope job has been fantastic, but with all the hunting I did on my off weeks, I haven’t been home much and look forward to an extended stay there until Sara heads to Egypt to see our friends there over Christmas break.


Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801
907-463-3115
www.GoodSalmon.com