Being charged by an elephant is the stuff of fantasy and intrigue for most Blair County hunters but it actually happened to Dave Weyant in Africa.
"It's amazing how an animal so huge can hide so easily," Weyant told me. "My guide tugged on my shirt to alert me that there was an elephant in the little grove of trees just ahead of us. Before we could do much of anything, that beast came charging and it's also amazing how fast they can run. She brushed past me so close I could smell her bad breath,."
Weyant, like most of us, began hunting when he was 12. Now he is retired and his house is a museum of sorts to his lifelong quest of taking big game animals. Mounts of bears, coyotes, kudu, antelope, huge mule deer and whitetails, wild turkey and more decorate his downstairs living room and the upstairs man-cave.
Each mount is a monument to an exciting hunt somewhere on the planet. I listened to the stories of many of his hunts and lived vicariously through his retelling. And I envied him, of course.
Weyant especially likes to hunt Bears.
"I went to Ontario once for bear but I never saw a single animals so next time I went to Manitoba. They were having an unexpected heat wave at the time ad the guides were rather depressed about the chances of bears moving in that heat. I had come hoping to get a cinnamon phase bear but the guide told me that in the bad conditions I should probably shoot the first one I saw, " he said.
We went into a swamp where there was a stand and I sat there for over six hours. Good thing I was wearing high boots, which I had donned to squelch the man-smell. After six hours, I spotted a pretty big bear cautiously circling the bait. This is the biggest bear I had ever seen and so I took the shot. That bear was estimated to be nearly 800 pounds and it took us all night to get it out of that swamp." Weyant laughed.
"The very next year I bagged a 425 black bear in Pennsylvania," Weyant said. He has bagged three Pennsylvania bears beside the one in Manitoba.
Weyant told me that coyotes are abundant in Blair County and he has hunted them successfully for years near Claysburg and other locations. His brother once bagged an all-black coyote, a rarity.
Weyant took a Wildebeest in Zimbabwe in 1996 as well as a 650-pound Kudu. He has a trophy White Marlin and plans to go soon to Mexico to fish for a Blue Marlin. The sailfish he took in Mexico some years ago hangs over his fireplace. That mount is about the first thing you see when you walk into his house and it is difficult to take your eyes off it.
The tales that accompany each mount, each bear rug, his rifles and crossbow are fascinating to listen to but finally I had to tear myself away. We ended the evening by going outside as dusk was nearly over and watching several bucks that were feeding not far from his house.
Still, he is a dedicated Pennsylvania hunter, out each season after turkey, small game and deer. And much appreciative of all the opportunities.