Bowhunting Over Abandoned Gas Wells


Several Deer drinking brine water from an abandoned gas well

I left work early and headed into the Allegheny National Forest. It was early bow season in Pennsylvania and I couldn't wait for the evening hunt. Several days ago I had set my treestand in a large maple tree. The location of the stand was in a steep valley. On one side of the stand, a tributary to the Tionesta River flowed past. On the other the side, the steep ravine rose up from the valley floor.

 I was in my stand for several hours without seeing any deer. As the evening light began to fade, a big mature doe came down the hillside to my left. She was all by herself and bedded down in a grove of young beech trees. She was only about 25 yards away but a shot with the bow was not possible due to the thick brush. I took a deep breath to calm myself and eased my back against the trunk of the tree. I had every intention to wait her out. I heard the brief muffled sound of leaves rustling.  Something was coming down the side of the ravine. From high in my stand, I peered through the branches of the maple tree and I watched as another doe carefully walked down to the valley floor.

    With the arrival of this new doe, the mature doe rose from her bed. My heart rate increased with the anticipation of a possible shot presenting itself. I glanced down at the D-loop on my bowstring. I clipped my release to it. If the doe presented me with a shot, it may only be for a couple of seconds, I had to be ready. The doe began browsing and gradually moved into a clearing. Like clockwork, she stepped completely out of the brush and into my shooting lane. She continued to browse and was fully broadside at 20 yards.

My arrow hit its mark and I watched as the doe scampered off several yards before expiring. I climbed down out of my stand and recovered my quarry. She was a nice mature doe and I was happy to have the fresh venison.

I chose to hunt this area because it was flanked on either side by two abandoned gas wells. These wells were ancient, and the only remnants left of them were two corroded pipes that jutted out of the earth. In the immediate area surrounding each of these old wells, the ground was covered in deer tracks. The area had been beaten down to a mudhole. When I first saw this, I found it very odd. Why were the deer so attracted to these abandoned wells? Then I realized that these ancient wells were acting as a conduit for brine to seep to the surface. This is what was attracting the nearby whitetails. These wells were essentially acting as a manmade salt-lick and the deer were flocking to them. I placed my treestand not far from these ancient gas wells. The strategy worked and I was able to harvest a nice doe because of it.