The other day I was leafing through a tired old book and a tattered piece of paper fluttered to the floor. I picked it up and saw that it was a poem someone had saved in this book so I read it and then I knew why they had saved it.
July 4 was my mother's birthday; she died last summer just a few days before her 95th birthday. She was a patriotic American and so am I. So while the actual day of freedom's celebration is a couple days past, please allow me to deviate from the outdoor theme of this column to share the poem I found with you.
The Dead Soldier To America
I was young, AND O God how I wanted to live!
The whole of my life lay ahead.
But my country was calling me, needed my strength;
I went. Seek me now with the dead.
I was young. All the world was a wine to be quaffed,
Fair love led me on with a smile:
But I died and you, living who stand in my place,
Battle on! make my dying worth while!
I followed no laws, save the laws of my land.
My country I took as my bride.
My leader, my lover, the all of my all,
I wedded her, kissed her, and died.
To you who go forward from where I left off,
Though dark be the pathway each mile,
The Torch I have lit will yet flame in the sky;
Carry on -- make my dying worth while!
The paper has torn places and so the only part of the author's name left is Crooker. This poem deeply moved me.
I think of the earliest settlers and those who came after, pioneers, minute men, who used muskets, hatchets, swords and whatever else they had to hunt for food, to protect their families and to be at the ready to defend.
Our freedom today to pick up a firearm and go afield and provide ourselves venison, wild turkey, rabbits, squirrels grouse, quail and whatever else you choose to bag and eat, is due so largely to those who saved our country from invaders.
Today we have firearms they couldn't envision and we use them mainly for the same reasons: to hunt, to protect and to defend when necessary.
That time of year
Well, we are coming up n the time to be sending for antlerless licenses. If you have a new or prospective hunter in your acquaintance remember they must complete the hunter-safety course before they can get that first hunting license. So it means you must have your new hunting license to have the application. The first round for resident antlerless licenses will be Monday, July 14.
It also means that you are really a little late in looking for a Hunter-Safety course but there a couple in the area: move quickly on these.
n Thursday, July 17, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; State College Evangelical Free Church; 1243 Blue Course Dr.
n Saturday, August 2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Gallitzin Sportsman Association , 71 McCoy Street, PO Box 25 , Gallitzin, PA 16640
For directions, take Route 22 West to the Gallitzin exit. Follow the road towards Gallitzin to Sandusky Street. Turn left and follow the road past the baseball fields to a stop sign.
Go left onto South Main Street to McCoy Street. Follow the Gallitzin Sportsman signs to the club.
You can go on the Game Commission's web site to find other courses but they are filling fast, in fact some are already filled to capacity.
To apply for your first doe tag, you can use the application form that comes with the hunting license. To apply for "bonus" tags, you can use the application found in the license digest you receive when you get your new hunting license.
The first round for "bonus" tags or unsold antlerless licenses will be accepted Aug 4 and the second round will begin Aug. 18. There will be over-the-counter antlerless licenses sold in our area beginning Oct. 6.
There are 779,500 antlerless license being made available this year across the state: 33,000 are for WMU 4D.
For the hunters, the fourth of July celebrations are behind us but there are still ballgames to attend/ watch, family reunions, vacations, picnics, boating, fishing, not to mention the ever present yard work, all of which keep of us from thinking about sending for doe licenses.
I meet people nearly every year who were in north Carolina or someplace and hadn't bothered even to think about these deadlines. So when season, comes, they don't have an antlerless license.
Frankly, the license digest is chock full of all the information you'll need to know to hunt this year. Page 49 offers all that is really known about Chronic Wasting Disease and how to handle any deer that tests positive for the disease.
I recommend that every hunter take a few moments to read that section carefully. We have the distinction of living in the first Disease Management Area established last year to cope with this disease because contaminated deer have been found here.
Not too late
Summer is about half over now so it's time to be about all those details that must be tended to before fall.
As I have often said, it's time to haunt some yard sales and flea markets looking for items you need, like gloves, knit hats, fanny packs, lure boxes, boots even hunting coats. The orange hunting coat I have been using for the last five years I found at a yard sale for 50 cents. It's got a few more years in it yet.
I especially recommend looking at yard sales for things that youngsters will need but will have outgrown by next year. I often laugh that I have 40 pairs of boots that I bought at yard sales and I didn't pay over $1 for any of them.