(11/21/2011)

Calhoun men like Vere and Paige Downs of Arnoldsburg had to go to Webster County to kill a deer in 1930s, shown here on a porch at the Downs' hotel and house (Photo provided by Harley Downs)

By Bob Weaver

Calhoun's population could double the next few days as out-of-state hunters will descend to the backwoods, most of them in search of a big buck deer.

Most of last century, Calhoun men would load up in a car and drive through a deep snow or blizzard conditions to the higher mountains of West Virginia to hunt deer. Few existed in Sunny Cal.

Some of my relatives, maybe yours too, had an old flat-bed International or Ford truck on which they built wooden shacks, some resembling extended outhouses with stove pipes sticking from the roof.

Poor man's campers, back then.

The distribution of deer into the smaller mountains commenced in force in the 1950's, and more and more hunters stayed back to kill the local buck.

Sometimes you could hunt from daylight to dark, all week, without spotting a single deer. Sighting tracks before the season was a preoccupation. When you did sight one, it was almost as gratifying as killing the animal, giving you bragging rights 'till next season.

By the early 60's the deer kill rose to a hundred or so in the county. What a season! Now they're thicker than house cats, except when the guns start banging.

Before season starts, a dozen or more come into my backyard, eating the shrubs, flowers and herbs in the planters.

A steady stream of traffic will come down Barnes Run to Hur this weekend, about dark, going to deer camp.

Hundreds of trucks, sports utility vehicles, campers and trailers with ATV equipment will be coming into the county today. Most will scout for groceries or a hot meal, prior to settling at Deer Camp.

Deer hunters will find an impressive herd in Sunny Cal.


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