Stormstown. It’s actually my Tinkhamtown. Those familiar with Corey Ford’s “The Road To Tinkhamtown” will know what I mean. Tinkhamtown is a place that is a kind of Eden for hunters… a place you’ve been before and would like to return to. A place where you would be perfectly content to spend eternity. If God has a better place in mind for us hunters, I can’t wait to get there!
Today, Stormstown has housing developments interspersed with some still-wilderness areas, but is essentially off limits to hunting. Back in the ’60s when I remember it, it was mile after mile of rolling country and was an absolute mecca for small game. It was my dad’s favorite place to hunt, and it quickly became mine too. I have so many good memories of that place.
I was told that most of the fields were where Penn State grew, studied, and harvested crown peas. Before harvest, it provided almost impenetrable cover for rabbits and other small game. Once harvested, the bare fields drove rabbits into fence lines and thick areas and became the best place in the world to hunt rabbits.
We’d pull up to our parking spot at dawn and load our hunting vests with shotgun shells, then head out across the fields. In addition to rabbits, we also found pheasants, grouse in the bushy areas, and squirrels in the surrounding woods. We always plan to return to our vehicles at noon for two reasons. One, to rest a bit (and eat). And two, for more shells, because we were almost always running out of water by then! After lunch we would go out to the other side of
our vehicle and have as much action (and fun) as we did in the morning!
Like I said, I have a lot of lasting memories of my hunts there… Like the time Dad and I walked through the woods to get from one field to another. I was jolted by something that hit the brim of my cap with such force that it twisted. Startled, I quickly straightened my cap and came to my senses in time to see a squirrel run away from me towards the nearest tree. I stood there and watched it go by.
Dad said, “Why didn’t you shoot?”
I couldn’t even reply, I was so dumbfounded! It appears that Mr. Bushytail had lost his balance and fell from the tree, hitting the brim of my cap clean on his way to the forest floor. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or him!
I remember once before I was old enough to hunt, but it was still the same. Dad and several of my uncles and cousins were walking through a field together. I kicked a rabbit off a fence behind them and it broke through the line of it and ran from them. All five opened fire (three shots each) and, as the smoke cleared, Mr. Cottontail disappeared unscathed into the next pile of bushes! Fifteen shots in all and not one of them touched a hair (or a hare)!
When we got tired of walking through the fields, we’d find a spot in one of the woodlots and “sit down for a while” for the squirrels. There were plenty of mature oak trees and plenty of squirrels to partake of the acorn feast. Squirrels were one of my favorite species of small game to hunt anyway and Stormstown was always good for lots of action.
There was an old, abandoned farmhouse in the middle of the stretch we hunted down that I felt added to the vibe of the place. Every time I reached it, I became nostalgic, wondering who were the people who had lived there many years ago. I would always take a break and sit on the porch and try to imagine what life was like for them back then. Was it during the turn of the century? Or maybe depression? And what was it that made them leave the place and move on? I asked the locals in the area, but no one seemed to know anything about the history. So, to this day, it remains a mystery to me. Which only adds to the romance of the place.
One day, Dad and I were hunting with several of my uncles, walking through bushy areas looking for rabbits. There were two boys in the field, Dad was on the edge of the brush and I was in the thicket—I had the youngest legs—and the least senior! Trying to dive into the middle of that thing would have required an army tank. But what the rest of them didn’t know was that there was a very well used deer trail about 10 yards into the brush. Once I found that, I had no problem maneuvering the bush…
About halfway through, I heard Dad yell, “Watch out, here comes a dollar!”
And damn if it wasn’t a good 4 points! He was lying in front of me and why he decided to run towards me when he jumped instead of running away from me I’ll never know. But he did it! So now he was on a collision course with me. I was admiring his shelf as he approached until I realized there was no room in the way for the two of us! I could see fear (or fire) in his eyes when he came and I didn’t want to wait to see what it was. He was in full charge mode and nothing (including me) would stop him from where he was headed.
As he approached, I jumped down the side of the trail into the brush to the right. But the undergrowth was so thick and springy that it flung me back onto the trail in front of him. Just as the male arrived, I ducked to the left. He brushed past me so close he actually brushed me
leg how was it? The sight of him, eyes wide as he rocketed past, will be etched into my memory banks forever!
Dad yelled, “Did you see it all right?”
To which I replied, “Oh yeah, I looked at it REALLY GOOD.” Better than she wanted, in fact!”