Before Camp F-Troop, there was Uncle Jack’s Cottage. From the early 1960s, when my two brothers and I were just kids, until 1985 when I bought F-Troop, Uncle Jack’s was the closest thing to a hunting/fishing camp that we have ever known.
Jack Dunn was our great-uncle, younger brother of our maternal grandmother, owner of Dunn’s Office Products in Titusville, a businessman successful enough to own a nice little “cottage”, which he used to entertain his associates and his family in the countryside. near Pleasantville, Pennsylvania, in Venango County, on 500 acres of leased land.
It was a quaint one-story building about 25 square feet, but also modern, with electricity, indoor plumbing, and a natural gas-fired fireplace. Our uncle Bud Madden would take us there fishing every April for the opening day of the trout season, and later, from 1975 to 1985, we three brothers and Powser would use it as a hunting camp for the buck season and hinds.
I remember being 12 or 13, traveling with Uncle Bud in his green 1953 Ford sedan the Friday before the trout opened, excitedly planning our annual visit to Pine Creek, near Enterprise, always at the same place, near the bridge near the curve of the road, where the deep hole under the fallen oak constantly contained scores of hatchery-bred browns and rainbows.
Often family friend Harry Redick came along and brightened up the weekend with his meticulousness. Unlike all of us, he showered every morning, shaved, combed his hair and shined his shoes before starting his chores as a camp cook, preparing excellent breakfasts, lunches and dinners from precise recipes and making the dishes after each meal. Out on the creek, his tackle box was a meticulous marvel – organized, detailed and immaculate – especially compared to the chaotic receptacles of scattered hooks, rusty corks and parts of dead caterpillars that we boys brought into the waters.
I remember the time Uncle Bud caught a 22 inch rainbow trout and feverishly reeled in his Zebco 33 as a 12 year old I clumsily tried to catch it for him, almost losing the price. and the time 10 years later, when I was in basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and my older brother Skip sent in a bunch of photos from trout season: Billy, Bud, Harry, Skip and lots of trout caught. These photos not only reminded me of home, they reminded me that home existed.
The deer hunting trips came later, when the three of us brothers were all in our twenties. Powser had been a small game hunter all his life, and that’s what he mentored us on, but we became interested in deer hunting as young adults, and Powser followed us into that hobby. . Billy and I always arrived on the Friday after Thanksgiving and spent the weekends the days hunting small game and wandering the woods and the evenings poring over dozens of outdoor magazines filled with articles on game hunting. stag. Skip and Powser arrived on Sunday for the Monday market opening, and every year we would come home on Monday evening, depressed and silent now that the hunting trip was over. We killed very few bucks in those years, but caught plenty of does when we came back two weeks later for the then separate antlerless season. Powser still hunted near camp, taking frequent coffee breaks, while we three boys worked the hardwood hills and pine groves.
A year early in our careers, Billy posted himself on a path near the thickets, and Skip wandered off at dawn, having been evicted from his chosen spot by other posted hunters. too close close. They were talking quietly when Skip looked up and saw a handsome six-pointer walking towards them on the path. “Shoot!” he said to Billy. “This is your place.” “No, you shoot,” was the reply, “you saw it first.” “No, you shoot,” Skip said. “No, you,” Billy said, as the deer approached, stopped, and turned sideways. Billy raised his gun and fired wildly, the deer took off and the two novice hunters looked at each other and laughed. Eventually, however, we learned to hunt deer and began taking them regularly, which continued through the days of the F-Troop.
Two things we always talked about at Uncle Jack’s: we would like to hunt in the “big woods” one day and we were always looking for a “hidden trout fishing spot in the wilderness”. Later we found both at F-Troop, with its 14,000 acre State Game Lands 86 mountains and the little wild trout streams we now roam in Warren County. I guess some dreams come true after all.
DON FEIGERT is the outdoor writer for The Herald and the Allied News. His latest book, The F-Troop Camp Chronicles, and previous books are available by contacting Don at 724-931-1699 or [email protected] Browse his website at donfeigert.com. Or visit Leanna’s Books at Shenango Valley Mall.