Portage’s Krug bags 800-pound elk

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I know intimately the racing heart and pounding pulse hunters feel just hearing the thundering of a mature longbeard gobbler in the spring. How much greater must that thrill be when what you hear and what is charging toward your calls is a mature elk, bugling and galloping?

I’ve seen and heard elk many times, but I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt them. So I have to imagine it all. But I have often written about the outdoorsman and conservationist extraordinaire Joe Krug from Portage, who along with his buddy Ken Noll of Loretto went on a kind of do-it-yourself elk hunt in Colorado.

They camped in a campground and hunted on pubic land. And one day they bugled to an elk and he answered and came in, and Krug downed it with a single shot from his 50 caliber muzzleloader at about 60 yards. A beautiful 6 by 7 rack and weighing in at more than 800 pounds.

The elk green-scored at 374 points and had an outside spread of 46 inches. A couple bear hunters came along in the nick of time and helped Joe and Ken pack the elk out of the woods.

“We spent the first two days out there scouting, and the last five days hunting,” Krug told me. He also related that while they were camped, they felt the earth shaking from a small nearby earthquake. Sounds like a tremendously memorable hunting trip to me. My congratulations to Joe, who richly deserves such a great turn in his life.

Krug has no doubt planted more trees and shrubs on the State Game Lands of Pennsylvania than any other person I know. He goes the extra mile in habitat work for Pennsylvania’s wildlife. He has created a nursery and greenhouse at his property and spends countless hours grafting, fertilizing, bundling, fencing and doing whatever else the plantings for habitat have needed.

Krug’s knowledge about habitat for wildlife is recognized nationwide, and he has won many awards for his service in this area. Congratulations, Joe, on all of it.

Yesterday was opening day of archery season, and hunters were greeted with weather something less than they might have wished. Bluebird weather is not ideal for hunting. Deer are molting into their winter coats, so these summer-like days keep them bedded during the warm parts of the day. That can be a boring day for an archer parked in a treestand, waiting for that buck to come along.

Archery hunting now is a matter of catching deer on their way to or from feeding areas, or staking out an old orchard or cornfield where deer may show up to feed early morning and late afternoon. Things will change in a few weeks when the “rut” begins, that is the breeding season for deer gets into full swing.

Some years ago I talked with Bill Bynum, a nationally known hunter and outdoor writer. He is an avid archer and predator hunter and he offered up some tips for archery hunting.

“Deer scent is a good idea; knowing how to use it properly takes some doing,” Bynum said, “and most hunters have no clue.”

Bynum buys scent bottled only in dark glass bottles. Glass because deer urine has a chemical reaction with plastic; dark bottles because it must be protected from the light. Bynum says that scent grows stronger each year, and so he buries his bottles in the backyard to let them age.

“My backyard looks as if I’m harboring gophers,” Bynum said. When he needs a bottle of scent, he simply digs one up.

Taking Bynum’s tip to heart, I buried a couple bottles of deer scent in a dresser drawer. Out of sight, out of mind was really true for me because I forgot about them. A couple years later when I got in a closet and drawer-cleaning mode, I unearthed them, along with a bottle of fox urine, from my lingerie drawer. No wonder people don’t want to sit in the same pew with me in church!

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