G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Columnist
Teenage brothers Braden and Drew Nickel were returning home dejected after several days of unsuccessful attempts to bring down a buck. It was Nov. 29, the last day of Kentucky’s 16-day gun season for deer.
The season would end one-half hour after sundown, and that big orange globe was already sinking behind the hills along East Tygart Road.
Then fate, or something, smiled on them. On a knob a little more than 100 yards from their backyard, they spied three or four deer.
And one of them was sporting a decent set of antlers!
They decided each would try for the buck. They would shoot on the count of three. There were only minutes left in the season.
Drew, a freshman at Greenup County High School, said his brother, a 7th-grader at Mckell Middle School, pulled the trigger when the count hit two.
At any rate, Braden’s bullet from his .243 Rossi dropped the 7-point buck almost in his tracks.
Drew, who had killed a deer earlier in the season, forgave him. They both celebrated Braden’s long-distance shot.
So did their proud father, Tony Nickel, who witnessed the action from the backyard of their home.
“I’ve never heard such whooping and hollering,” Tony said.
The boys’ grandfather, Richard Nickel, said Braden’s buck will be displayed on the trophy wall for the 2015 season.
One place I’ve often dreamed of visiting is Alaska. I’ll probably not make it now, but I often travel there vicariously.
My library shelves are replete with hunting and fishing books of stories from there.
I have read the stories of those who go there to live year round. Count me out of that bunch.
One reason is I can’t stand extreme cold. When temperatures fall to 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, take me back along the banks of the Ohio, where the thermometer falling even to zero is almost unheard of.
Another reason is I can’t imagine a fate much worse than being mauled by a hungry bear.
One man, walking along Whisky Creek with his fly rod, was attacked by a grizzly on the outskirts of this little burg. Searchers found his body the next day, half eaten and covered with dirt and leaves. The 700-pound bruin was shot and killed later by wardens as he returned to the area thinking to enjoy a little snack.
A hiker was severely mauled, bitten about the head and side. The huge grizzly was chased off by others in the vicinity. The man died of his wounds in a hospital.
Far north of the Yukon River, in the arctic plains, a polar bear who weighed about 800 pounds but who’s ribs were showing because he was unable to catch a seal or other food source, ripped down the wall of a miner’s shack, dragged him from his bunk, and ate him on the spot.
Alaska’s not for me.
RING THE BELLS
Those three stories have been verified as true. Here’s a tale from The Last Frontier that must be taken, as the saying goes, with a grain of salt.
In the national forests of Alaska, a tourist guide was addressing a group of vacationers in this wild land about the dangers of hiking in grizzly bear country. He warned: “Most bear encounters occur when hikers, being extra quiet along the trails in the hope of viewing wildlife, unexpectedly stumble into bears. The resulting surprise can be disastrous.
“To avoid this, we suggest that hikers should wear tiny bells on their clothing to warn the bears of their presence. Finally, exercise added caution when you spot signs of bears in the area, particularly when you see bear droppings.”
One tourist asked: “How do you identify bear droppings?”
“Easy,” explained the guide. “They’re the ones with all the tiny bells in them.”
KENTUCKY’S BEAR SEASON
Kentucky’s black bear population is estimated at 700. The three-day modern gun season opened Saturday – amid controversy from animal rights groups –and closes at the end of the day tomorrow.
The quota is 15 bears or five females, whichever comes first.
More on the results next time around.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]