"If all them return alive it will be a miracle, for bullets are flying in all directions...” - Down Hawley Way columnist in November 1913

Hunting is a proud tradition through Wayne and Pike counties, one that goes back many generations in pursuit of the elusive white-tailed deer, bear or other critter unlucky enough to be found "in season." Newspaper accounts about the Hawley area from the early 1900s found the sport going strong.

 Hunting is a proud tradition through Wayne and Pike counties, one that goes back many generations in pursuit of the elusive white-tailed deer, bear or other critter unlucky enough to be found "in season." Newspaper accounts about the Hawley area from the early 1900s found the sport going strong.
   These were the days when the deer was more rare than today. In those days when one saw a deer, the report showed up in the local papers.
    If we look further back, we find that in the 19th Century the entire region was being lumbered, the massive virgin trees being felled to build a young nation. Logging rafts on the Delaware and Lackawaxen was a common sight. Tanneries, such as Cromwell's at the foot of the Paupack Falls opposite Hawley's Eddy Section, relied on the Hemlock for its bark.
    Desolation of the forests allowed for farming, while wildlife was losing its habitat. Deer had nearly disappeared from Pennsylvania. By the early 1900's, the forests were rebounding quickly, with minimal browsing by deer. The Pennsylvania Game Commission had been founded in 1895. Deer were being reintroduced across the state, and their populations grew rapidly amidst the new foliage.
     Articles about hunting in Pike County in the 1910's described the woods as “dense.” Pike was in fact mostly wilderness, with only 8,033 people in the 1910 Census (compared to an estimates 56,852 in 2011). Wayne County had a population of  29,236, in 1910.
    A couple pictures have been located of hunters in Hawley from the early 1900s, their rifles in hand as they pose on Church Street with their bucks strung up. This is believed to be the Hawley Hunting & Fishing Club, which at least for a time was presided over by Dr. Lewis P. Cooke.
     They were posing in front of Louis Geisler's restaurant and saloon on Church Street across from Teeters. Geisler is among them, as well as who appears to be Dr. Cooke.  
   Dr. Cooke and his wife Helen were highlighted recently in this series. Dr. Cooke was a local dentist and his wife started the Camp Fire Girls in Hawley in about 1912.
   In 1915, Geisler bought the grand hotel at Main and Church, and named it the Hawley Inn (known as the Falls Port Inn and soon to be renamed Hotel Bevidere in 2014).

     George Teeter is also seen in these pictures. His nephew, Richard Teeter of Teeters' Furniture and Teeters' Funeral Chapel, said that his Uncle George ran the business for several years. “George was a fisherman and hunter of great reknown,” said Teeter, and was part of the Hawley Hunting & Fishing Club.

   The November 14, 1913 Honesdale Citizen "Down Hawley Way" columnist- alas, unnamed- proclaimed Hawley as the center of a "great hunting and fishing section in Pennsylvania," a claim still being made by tourist promoters with good reason.
    "The season for hunting deer opened on November 10, and Hawley seems to be the charmed gateway that opens into magic realm of big bucks and venison steaks," the columnist penned. He notes that every train pulling into West Hawley Erie Depot had its quota of hunters, from all points of the compass as far as Scranton and New York City.
    A man's sport in that day, they came armed and ready to explore the wilds of Pike County from their base at Hawley. Local hotels would advertise rooms for hunters.
   "If all them return alive it will be a miracle, for bullets are flying in all directions, and it must not be forgotten that the modern rifle will fire a bullet with such force that it would kill a man at the distance of a mile," he warned his readers.
    Lest we think they were unbridled with regulations unlike hunters are today, our 1913 columnist lists the following:
• Nov. 10 to 25, inclusive, open season.
• One deer to a hunter is limit.
• Male deer only may be shot.
• Deer killed must have horns 2 inches above the hair.
• Deer must not be taken in lake or stream.
• Can't use dogs to hunt deer.
• Dogs not permitted around camps.
• Buckshot must not be used.
• No guns allowed that propels more than one pellet at a time.
• Hunters may not hire other hunters.
• Illegal to sell any part of the deer's carcass.
   The columnist added his two cents that by the time the hunter memorized all these rules, he would likely limit his hunt to his own land, "down back of the barn where the woodchucks live."
   Hawley merchants were doing well from the hunters. One merchant said he was sending out goods "by the wagon load" for hunting parties. The writer noted while one may think the hunter lives off the land, the unromantic truth is the hunter would not think of eating his trophy in the woods but would want to bring it home and show it off and have his picture taken (not unlike a century later).
  Guinn Bros. hardware store (1857-1964) on Church Street, Hawley- today known as Church Street Hardware- had a ready supply of firearms. An undated interior photo shows hunting rifles lined between the paint cans, steam irons, oil lamps and clocks.
  Nancy Gumble, of Paupack was born in 1926 in Hawley and raised in the Eddy Section. She said her father, Marcus “Fred” A. Killam was a local gunsmith. He was born in 1885. He had a workshop attached to an old barn on Atkinson Street where he repaired firearms. Mrs. Gumble said her father had a busy trade and was active at least from the 1920's into the 1950's. He was a member of the Hawley Hunting & Fishing Club and enjoyed hunting with his friends.
  The Citizen tells us that a proprietor of one of Hawley's largest stores (not named) told the story that a farmer's cows were coming home from pasture without the milk he would expect they would give. After several days of this happening, the farmer concealed himself as he watched his cow let a fawn help itself to some milk while a second one waited its turn at supper. The farmer shot the fawns, and was within the law in protecting his property.
   Lots of deer were anticipated in Pike County for the 1913 season. The writer noted that the prior winter was  so open and mild that "Pike County deer just grew and grew and grew." Travelers attested that deer were very tame and frequently joining themselves to herds of cattle in Pike.
   "Occasionally deer are seen near Hawley," the corespondent added. "They cross the Wallenpaupack and live in the open woods and low places bordering that stream. Deer tracks have been seen in the road between Hoadleys and Lakeville. Last year a man by the name of Thornton (now deceased) shot a deer right near Hawley."
   One party of hunters seen leaving Hawley were loaded down with back packs. They were "Ashley Killam, a youngster by the name of Zimmerman and a New Yorker," the columnist recorded. A party of 25 to 30 hunters from Scranton were spotted, including the mayor.
   "The Hawley Hunting and Fishing Club has a cabin out where big deer run," the columnist stated. "Dr. L. P. Cooke is President of that club." He wasn't attending that year (1913) due to health but the club was represented by the Reinhard F. Warg, Editor of the Hawley Times; Hawley physician Dr. Arno Voigt and Gus Frank, proprietor of the Wayne County Hotel. Their camp was near Peck's Pond in Pike County. We are told later that Warg came back with a fine deer.   
   Edward Lynn of Tafton also led a party into the woods. He was credited with shooting one of the biggest deer ever killed in Pike County.
  Will Watts of Hawley, with six other men, headed to their camp at Pulaski, about 22 miles south of Hawley.
   Charles S. Houck, cashier of the Hawley Bank, went hunting in Pike that week. "Inasmuch as Mr. Houck is an ardent Bull Mooser his friends insisted that he was hunting after a new set of horns to wear at the big rally that is to held on Saturday of this week in Scranton."
   The correspondent was fielding phone calls of hunters reporting their success.
   As of November 28, 1913, over 50 deer had been killed in Pike County, according to state game officials.
    A few years earlier, the Honesdale Citizen on Dec, 8, 1909 reported that the Hawley Hunting Club made a startling fine while in the Pike County woods. An entire family- a husband, wife and five children were found living in “very destitute circumstances” in a cave. They reported this back in town, and a group of Hawley women made up a box of clothing and other items, which was delivered to the family by William Stevenson.
     When Edward Brehn Sr., a Hawley electrician bagged a five-pronged buck in November 1912, he made front page news in the Citizen.
     Evidence that few women picked up a hunting rifle is shown in an article on December 21, 1913. A Scranton newspaper had reported a while before that a Lackawanna County woman was the only female hunter in northeast Pennsylvania. The Honesdale Citizen disputed that with a report of a Waymart woman and her lady friends who shot rabbits and other small game while their husbands went to Greeley in Pike County, after big game. “Even though her husband did not get a deer or bear while hunting in Pike County, she got bunnies,” the sub-head reads.
    Those were the days when you didn't go hunting just for the day but you and your friends were gone for much of the week. The same 1913 paper reports that Dr. Voigt and William Watts of Hawley were back in town “after a vacational week in Pike County after deer.” Quizzed about their trip, they would only reply, laconically, “no luck!”
   Mention must be made of the venerable Blooming Grove Hunting-Fishing Club, a prosperous venture of men of like mind who in 1870 banded together to fashion a private sporting preserve in the style seen in France and Germany. Started by Fayette S. Giles, Genio C. Scott and other New York sportsmen, they acquired 12,000 acres. Blooming Grove Park Association was incorporated in March 1871. They were able to obtain a charter from the state legislature allowing them to create their own fame regulations independent of state game laws for any lands they owned or leased.
   While this antagonized many local residents, it proved a great restraint to notorious bands of poachers who were seriously depleting the game. The club started its own fish hatchery and experimented with a deer breeding area.
   A legal dispute over their special game provisions arose in 1900, leading to a reorganization and naming of the group as the Blooming Grove Hunting & Fishing Club. Today the club boasts over 20,000 acres.