Aside from a challenging hunt for even the most seasoned turkey hunter, the state of Pennsylvania wrote a unique chapter in my 2018 turkey season. From one state boundary to the next, Pennsylvania revealed a truly unique sense of community that not only set it apart from other places I’ve hunted but positioned it as a top tier destination for one seeking a traditional experience in an ever-evolving digital world.
Coming from New England, knocking on a door to gain permission to hunt is often met with the door closing about as fast as it opened. My first trip to the Amish farmlands of Pennsylvania brought me far from the everyday norm I was used to living in suburban America. At one door after another, we were greeted with smiles and open invitations to hunt some of the most picturesque farms in the Northeast.
In just two short days of hunting, we couldn’t help being captivated by this unique culture. Our brief glimpse into a different lifestyle free of many modern amenities displayed a sense of community which we just don’t see in urban, modern America. Everyone worked together. Everyone had their place. Everyone respected one another and everyone was friendly and open. It was truly a community.
Less than ideal weather in the 90 degree range coupled with wind made for tough hunting. The only turkey harvested was one we called in for the Amish farmer. But the overwhelming sense of community and general acceptance of our desired pursuit was an experience that is rare in modern day America and something I will return to experience again.
With a new destination in mind, we headed north to the mountains. Pennsylvania seemingly takes forever to drive through. But when every other field you pass along the way has a hunting blind in it and every gas station and diner displays a giant Welcome Hunters sign, you can be assured you are in a place rich in hunting culture. The state’s hunters did not disappoint in our continued sense of community that was being exhibited in this truly great state.
With no more than a simple hello and a handshake, a group of local turkey hunters dropped everything and spent two days helping wear out our treads in the Allegheny National Forest and the surrounding Pennsylvania Wilds. While the big woods Allegheny tom gobbling, spitting and drumming his way into range under a towering canopy of wild cherry was great and it’s what we thought we were there for, a renewed faith in the hunting community and a slew of new friends is what we truly walked away with in the end.
This group of turkey hunters from Kane, Pa. – Dave, John and Big Mike – not only took a couple of strangers to their honey holes, something unheard of in today’s world, but included us with their friends, families and neighbors as they gathered after the hunt for food, libations, stories and of course to make future plans with some newfound friends.
Just when you think you are a turkey hunting freak and you can’t get enough, you meet not only a group of like-minded hunters but an entire community which shares your passion. Turkey hunting simply runs in the blood of these local communities. And their open acceptance of those from outside of it, I can only describe as refreshing. While I can go just about anywhere in the eastern half of the U.S. and fill a tag or two on Eastern turkeys, there is a point where that pursuit becomes bigger than the bird.
I will be back, Pennsylvania!