Kotchey claims world champion elk call title

It’s elk bugling season in Pennsylvania now and there are few sounds one can hear thundering over the autumn trees than the bugling of a bull elk in his prime seeking for love.

It’s a high-pitched squeal underpinned with a deep grunt or two and if you were alone in the woods and heard the bugle and did not know what it was, you might think you had stumbled into Bigfoot’s lair.

Appropriately, Elk County and specifically, the town of Benezette is the hub of Pennsylvania’s wlld elk activity. Thousands of people will drive to the Benezette area to take in the sights and sounds of wild elk. The elk there wander all over the resident’s yards and people line up like the tourists they are to gawk and wonder at the sight of these magnificent animals.

Homeowners probably just endure the elk-watching season because at the end of them there are plenty of ruts left in lawns, and litter thrown out by uncaring gawkers.

As it is for any wild thing that has a significant voice it uses for breeding purposes, there is an elk calling contest held each year to determine the World Champion Elk Caller.

That contest was held two weekends ago and the coveted title was won by Shawn Kotchey, owner of Mill Creek Turkey Calls in Corsica. No doubt Kotchey will be adding an elk call to his company’s offerings soon.

The contest was held August 18 in connection with the great Elk Expo celebration held each year. The deadline for applying for the drawing for an elk license has passed for this year.

I have never been fortunate enough to go west to hunt elk, but like almost any dedicated hunter, I’ve always dreamed about going but it’s too late for me now. My knees and my budget will forever prevent me from doing that. I’m almost sure I could see the eyeballs rolling into the back of the head if an outfitter received a call from a gray-haired granny wanting to pursue an elk. But it doesn’t matter really. I’ve spent so many hours in pursuit of the wild turkey and whitetail deer that I will not complain about anything I didn’t get to do.

Like all hunters, who can never satisfactorily explain why they do it, I can sense in my soul the changing of the seasons coming on, the excitement and anticipation in the air for whatever it is the hunter loves to pursue. Seeing bucks now, antlers still in velvet but almost fully formed, makes the deer hunter catch his breath a little. Catching sight of a flock of turkeys — and I have sighted this several times this late summer — makes me itch all over. I’m loosening up my diaphragm calls these days, much to the distress of my long-suffering neighbors.

The never-ending rain this summer brought an abundance of all kinds of berries and the black bears are out stuffing themselves with them, starting the yearly ritual of putting on the pounds so they can make it through their winter sleep. I’ve seen a couple bears this summer and I never get tired of observing them in the wild.

Every hiker or hunter can tell you how often they stop and glass some dark or black spot they see because it might be a bear. Most often it turns out to be a stump or a clump of dark grass or a dark stone. But when it really is a bear there is no doubt about what it is. A bear is not just a dark spot, it is a very glossy, unmistakable spot and you don’t need glasses to identify it.

One doesn’t see a black bear in the woods often but when you do it is the thrill of the week that sends a bit of shiver up your spine.

Bales of hay are suddenly appearing in backyards as archers start working arm muscles and aim as archery season is right around the corner. Suddenly there is so much to do to get ready. All camouflage clothes have to be descented so you’ll see them languishing in the wind as they are lined up on the clothesline for air drying,

Remember the warnings that ticks are especially bad this year and that we have a new species of the pest to worry about this year. Get a good tick Spray — I have used Permathrim for years — and if you use it correctly, this stuff really does repel ticks. I have not had a tick on my skin for the last 4 years and I attribute that to the fact that I use Permathrim spray religiously.

Boots need to be oiled or waterproofed and it needs to be done early so the scent of it will be gone by the time you go into the woods with them. Same goes for oiling shotguns and/or rifles. There is not a much stronger, heavy scent to tote with you than a newly-oiled firearm.

Purchase a bottle of unscented soap to wash your hunting clothes in during the seasons. Unscented shampoo as well. It’s all going to on us before we are ready for it if we are not careful.