2018-02-10 / Outdoors

INSIDE THE OUTDOORS

Family affair: hunting from ‘the rock’

I remember my family talking about hunting from “the rock” when I was a child.

In the days of my grandfather’s youth, it was a favorite hunting spot. Deer had just returned to the Sinnemahoning Creek watershed and the forest was much younger. The rock provided a vantage point to hunt the mountainside, functioning for him as a tree stand.

I first saw the rock for myself in the fall of 1992, after I had just turned 12, while scouting for deer with my dad.

The mountain was so steep that I could barely stay on my feet. The dry leaves covering the small stones were as slippery as ice. There were a lot of big boulders on this part of the mountain, but the rock stood out.

About eight years later, I began bear hunting in that same area with some friends and family.

Even as an adult, the rock appeared to be as big as a house. It was located where the mountain laurel began to thin out. Above it was heavy laurel cover, while downslope was mostly open forest.


Jim Zoschg continued a family tradition by hunting for bears on “the rock.” It paid off when this massive bruin was moseying on the hillside in search of acorns. Jim Zoschg continued a family tradition by hunting for bears on “the rock.” It paid off when this massive bruin was moseying on the hillside in search of acorns. In 2002, my uncle Matt was hunting from the rock when he missed a bear. Two years later, he killed a bear on the opening morning of the season from the same spot.

Later, my father glimpsed bears that didn’t offer a shot. On one occasion, he missed a shot at a bruin.

In 2013, my friend Sam was positioned there on opening morning when a bear came working its way through the laurel. Its journey ended at the rock and put quite a grin on Sam’s face.

Two years later, it was my turn. I heard something moving in the leaves, but I just place the sound. As I shifted my gaze from the woods off to my right, there he was -- big, black, and round.

My heart raced as I tried to calm myself. The bear was nosing through the leaves to find leftover acorns. Soon, he was in an opening. I aimed and squeezed the trigger.

The bruin took off on a run while I chambered another shell, but I sensed another shot wasn’t necessary. The bear turned and ran straight downhill. He didn’t go far before he collapsed.

I was shaking. I unloaded my gun and fell and slid down that same hillside that had challenged me as a child. Once I could compose myself, I radioed to rest of the crew to let them know I wouldn’t be meeting up for the next drive.

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