Deer Hunting with shot guns at the Hawbaker Lodge
by Harley Hawbaker
There's nothing like the first day of gun season for big game at the Big Jim Hawbaker Hunting
Lodge in New York State. This is especially true for the hunters, but also for a non-hunting journalist like me, whose
job was to keep the fire going in the wood stove at Big Jim's little Buck House...located near the bottom of the Irish
A mixed collection of pros and novices headed out across Dodge Creek around sunrise, spreading out into
the wilderness on a misty, gray, but mild day. Not wanting to get any buckshot in my backside (or other vital organs),
I moseyed my way to the Buck House (see pictures below) about 8:30 am as it drizzled from above.
Trying to make like a quiet Seneca warrior, I gingerly walked up the Basin road to the Old Meetin' Tree.
The sounds of gunfire on both sides made me think of Iraq, so I began to question my risky expedition into the Hawbaker Heartland
on opening day. I knew I could trust the Hawbaker clan and their close buddies, but I wondered if they hadn't brought
out some of those infamous "Buffalo hunters" from the city. I tried stepping on the softer ground in order to escape
Within minutes, I was at the Buck House...and no humans in site, just smoke coming from the stove pipe.
The little hunting cabin was toasty, but dirty. I figured that Big Jim and the gang were too busy with football season
to clean the wood chips and cobwebs that had accumulated in the rustic cabin.
I was only there about 5 minutes, when two of the Hawbakers came off the hill. Young Joshua Hawbaker,
Big Jim's great-nephew, was dragging a 90-lb. spike and accompanied by his old man, Clem, whose been on the staff for a few
It was a 20-yard shot to the vitals just after 7:30...the first kill of the day...and the first deer ever
for Josh. Bird Hawbaker strolled in at this point, and everyone rejoiced. After
a short dialogue about football and deer, the hunters headed out again, leaving me to stick in a some more fire wood.
Clem's goal was to bag the huge buck he had seen two days prior - a Hartford with a giant rack that had
raced across the field just below the Buck House. Apparently, Lefty, Lynford, and Hanson Hawbaker counted several big
bucks during bow season and the pre-season. I knew that the Lodge pros were going to pass on the small stuff...everyone
hoping to be in the right place at the right time to get a shot at the rarer beasts.
Next thing you know, and Jedediah Hawbaker rides up on a 4-wheeler with a big 8-point sprawled atop the
front. A 130-pounder with a nice rack and the heart blown out. It was the shot of a lifetime - over 100 yards
away. I was impressed.
Soon, Samuel Hawbaker dragged in his 5-point. "I'm not happy", he exclaimed. "I passed on that
SOB two times, but as I was coming down the road, he jumped out in front of me. I shot him on instinct. I didn't
want to shoot him...too small."
By noon, Lynford, Francis, Jimmy, Jacob, Josh, Clem, Bird, and Samuel made their way to the Buck House.
Everyone was waiting to hear what Lynford, the master hunter of the bunch, had to say.
"I haven't seen *&%$ all mornin'", Lynford screached with a smile. He was happy about Josh's success
though. "You'll bag alot a deer in your day, but you'll always remember the first one".