Eleven-year-old Matt Wilson of Gardners had a serious case of buck fever the whole week leading up to opening day of rifle season, and he had a hard time falling asleep the night before. (Think Christmas Eve.)

Readers 60 years and older who still get buck fever should raise their hands at this point. OK, put them down. Back to the story.

That night, as Matt and his 5-year-old brother, Noah, were supposed to be sleeping, their dad, Paul, overhead them talking about the buck Matt knew was going to walk into view.

It didn’t happen that first morning for the young Gardners hunter. The weather was perfect, but all the group saw was a few antlerless deer.

After lunch, Matt, grandfather John Weidner, and family friend George Carr went back to their tree stands. They were hunting near Weidner’s cabin near Ulysses in Potter County.

Young Matt was able to maintain his patience and attention span. It peaked when, as Matt predicted, the first buck of the day wandered into view at 40 yards.

As Matt calmly put his ear muffs on, the buck turned and started to walk away. The lad’s luck changed when, at about 90 yards, the buck turned to the left and presented a target. Calming himself, Matt’s lethal shot was then placed perfectly.

The deer ran into the woods, and the search was on.

A lack of blood trail sent second-thoughts about his accuracy racing into Matt’s mind. But “Pappy John” assured him that it had been a good hit. Matt’s dad and Noah joined the search.

Matt soon found his own deer 40 to 50 yards from where he’d shot it. The buck had doubled back toward the tree stand.

The buck is a six-point and Matt’s second deer. The first was a button buck taken in 2014.

Downed bears down

Lousy, raw, rainy and foggy weather on the first day of the statewide bear season Nov. 18 cut the overall harvest by about 30 percent.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reports that 168 bears were killed on the fourth and final day. Matched with a low take of 659 on the first day, the total killed was 1,796, down from the 2,579 of 2016.

An estimated bear population of 20,000 before this season should be in strong shape next year.

Archery and other early-bear season harvest data is not included in this report.

Bears were harvested in 54 counties.

The top 10 bears processed at check stations were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 576 pounds or more.

Two bears over 500 pounds were taken on the season’s final day. A male estimated at 581 pounds was taken in Tuscarora Township, Perry County, by Allen W. Esh, of Millerstown. Meanwhile, a male estimated at 568 pounds was taken in Fox Township, Elk County, by Edward J. Bellotti, of Kersey, Pa.

The state’s heaviest bear in the statewide season — a male estimated at 700 pounds — was taken in Oil Creek Township, Venango County, by Chad A. Wagner, of Titusville, Pa. He took it with a rifle about 8 a.m. on Nov. 18, the season’s opening day.

The largest harvest, 4,350 bears, happened in 2011, when preliminary statewide season totals numbered 3,154.

The top bear hunting county in the statewide season was Lycoming County with 130 bears.

Boat fire extinguisher?

Around the home you’ve hopefully heard and reacted to the recall of 134 models of nearly 40 million Kidde brand fire extinguishers.

Plastic handles and push-buttons on the units make them susceptible to failure.

As you prepare boats for winter storage, check the onboard fire extinguisher to see if it too has been recalled.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission reports that the fire extinguishers in question were manufactured between Jan. 1, 1973, and Aug. 15, 2017, including models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015. The extinguishers were sold in red, white and silver cylinder colors and are rated as either ABC or BC.

The product recall involves two styles of Kidde disposable fire extinguishers: plastic handle fire extinguishers and plastic push-button fire extinguishers. This recall does not include Kidde Professional or Badger branded fire extinguishers. Units with metal handles/valve assemblies are not included in the recall.

The commission also says boaters on any boat less than 16 feet in length and any canoe or kayak are required to wear life jackets from Nov. 1 through April 30 each year.

The commission reports that over the last 15 years, cold-water incidents represented only 8 percent of the boating-related accidents, but resulted in 24 percent of the fatalities.

New call to AT Hall

Nominees for the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Class of 2018 are being accepted through Jan. 31, 2018. The Hall of Fame recognizes those who have made a significant contribution toward establishing and maintaining the 2,190-mile footpath that passes through 14 states from Maine to Georgia.

Thirty-two people have been inducted into the Hall of Fame in the first seven years. Their names and biographies can be found on the museum’s website, www.atmuseum.org.

Those eligible include anyone who has made an exceptional and positive contribution to the Appalachian Trail or AT community. This includes pioneers who conceived of and developed the trail; those who organized or directed major trail organizations like the AT Conservancy and AT clubs; maintaining clubs; longtime trail maintainers; leaders who promoted and protected the AT; hikers who have made significant accomplishments, and other persons who have enriched the culture or community of the AT by their association with it.

Eligible people can be living or dead. The emphasis will be on people who have made their contribution to the AT over a long period.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be on Friday, May 4, 2018. The inductees will be enshrined on an Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Wall of Honor at the AT Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park and at the midway point of the Trail, across from the Pine Grove General Store on Pennsylvania Route 233.

Additional information is available at www.atmuseum.org.

Send your first-buck photos and details to bjsmall@comcast.net, and follow on Twitter @Arrows2010.

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