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"A Family Heritage"
A story of hunting camp and a great outdoorsman

The Cabin
The Cabin.
We all have dreams as young men as to what we will do in our life to come. Family, careers, habits and experiences are all molded from our families, parents and grandparents as well as our lessons learned throughout life. We learn from our experiences as children and young adults by what we see and do. This is a story about a gentle but strong-hearted man I am proud to call my grandfather. He is now 88 years old, and still enjoys the outdoors more than anyone I know. Up every morning at 4:30 am and in bed by 8:00 p.m. In church every Sunday for the early mass and off to the woods. When he is not hunting or fishing he is picking up golf balls at a local golf course. He has owned this small cabin in Cook's Forest on Blueridge Mountain since the mid-20's.

Water Duty
Water Duty.
This cabin is situated near the beautiful Clarington River, where as children and now parents, we enjoy rafting, canoeing, fishing, and hunting. Some locals can't believe this place is still standing, but they don't know my grandfather. He can work the young guys in camp under the table. He likes the cabin to be easy to maintain, but also he has made it steadfast through the years and hopefully many years to come. A shanty in the back offers shelter to a group of flying squirrels. He routinely has an albino doe come to visit him in the summer months. He doesn't know how she escapes doe season every year. He treats all the squirrels and even an occasional skunk as pets, and all are welcome into camp. Three coal stoves heat this five-room cabin. He usually fires them up before bedtime to the point of glowing red. A reminder to allóDon't take the top bunk here! We enjoy campfires in the summer, and routine walks into the woods, where large plots of mountain laurel provide a canopy for all the wildlife in the area. Deer, turkey, grouse, squirrel and black bear routinely pass by the gas line in clear view of camp. I still get excited as if it were my first year in camp preparing for the first day of buck season. We usually headed off to camp after Thanksgiving meal. Pap's truck still at camp from the past weeks bear season, it was usually parked at the Motter's place who were one of the few local families in the area. We prepared the firewood and brought up the coal in buckets. First task was to go to the local spring to fill the one-gallon jugs that were emptied to keep them from freezing.

The Success
The Success.
The first night, we caught up on stories of the past seasons, and prepared to go off the next morning to fix our tree-stands and forts, and clear the debris from last winter's storms. My grandfathers stand, still a national secret, was one he has had for 30 years, and every year he was able to bring back to camp one of those monsters you only dream about the night before the first day. They always seemed to be the oldest, grayest, and biggest in the forest. His stand, a small seat 1' by 2' with a rolled up canvas canopy overhead for those rainy days. It was still the most envied and you felt privileged to sit in it the second day. We helped place the stand the night before, in the shadows of the darkness. It was a camouflage heaven. It even took us a while to locate him from under the tree and we knew where he was at. He always taught me to keep a good place secret, and never give up your position, or the next year you'll have to fight off the other hunters or worse get cut off. Bring your deer out at night, and don't boast until you get home. Well, I usually can't wait that long. On Sunday off to the early mass and later the time is reserved this for shooting in our rifles and relaxing. Pap only takes one shot and always in the bull's eye. We prepare our lunches and talk about our stands and the sign we saw, and early to bed, since the 4:30 wake up call comes early. The night is restless while we dream about the big one, usually knowing that the master of the woods "My Grandfather" is likely to outdo us all. Opening morning the cabin's a ruckus of people getting dressed, throwing down a cup of hot coffee, and last minute checks on the rifle. Some leave early for the longer drives to the stand, as the rest offer their "Good Luck". Warm up the trucks, and clear the frost. It is still dark out, but we know light is soon to come. Pap is also usually the first out; getting settled plenty before daybreak. Some of the younger hunter's in camp still panic over what they might have forgotten. Pap is always prepared plenty in advance from making the same mistakes in the past. Bundled in his woolrich outfit, a small lunch and a flask of spring water pap is the most prepared and least distraught.

Pap always get the biggest
Pap always gets the biggest.
My son's first buck
Logan's first buck.
The day of truth finally comes. After getting set up in our tree stands before first light, you can see the ambling late-comers with their flashlights buzzing through the forest, scrambling for the last bit of cover. A few guys bicker over a tree or a stand. Pennsylvania, with over a million hunters on the first day of buck season can become very competitive, but those bucks still manage to find a way through. Come first light you can see flashes of orange dart across the landscape, and the opening day starts off like a war-zone. You can always tell the ones that miss as the buck comes hurdling off the ridge and down the mountain. Most hunters are lucky enough to be out of the woods shortly after daybreak and at 10:00 am the shooting quiets down, most lucky hunters heading to the trucks. I was lucky enough to score a small six-pointer amongst the entire ruckus.

Back to camp. Another joy in life is to see how everyone else did. As you open up the shanty to peek at pap's so-called spike-Ha! As you can see pap always gets the biggest. Way to go Pap. I hope I can pass on your great hunting abilities to our next generation of hunters.
Thanks Pap!

Written by Lance Lippert