Backwoods Extreme with David Orlowski


As I walk into the trapping shed, my eyes are instantly drawn to the left wall and the overhead shelf that holds my vast collection of whitetail antlers. Some are shed antlers, while others still remain attached to their skulls.

They are true eye catchers among a large assortment of other things I’ve amassed over the years such as turkey fans, bear and bobcat skulls, snake skins, numerous bee nests, etc.

It started innocently, of course, with the first eight-point buck whose antlers I mounted on a plaque and hung in the house. But it continued to grow steadily over the last five decades as I added several deer head mounts, bear mounts and rugs, several large trout and a tanned bobcat hide.

Of course the mounts that hang inside are those that hold the most significance. So room had to be found to locate the rest of the collection and what better place than my shed for that? As we all know, the workshop/trapping shed is where we spend a lot of our spare time.

The wall space there has filled through the years. Several fans from eastern turkeys cover part of the area on one end of the work bench, along with a stack of several beards and a few spurs piled atop a small cardboard box containing antler pieces for craft work. All are mementos of successful hunts of one sort or another.

Yeah, it probably seems like too much to many, but to me there’s still room for more. Whenever I admire each item in my collection, I can still remember the details of how I acquired it. It’s tough not to keep every possible remembrance, especially when it’s the details of each hunt that give it so much importance.

To some they amount to trophies, bragging rights or decorative wall hangings, but to me they’re more like snapshots of hunts that deserve to be cherished.

When I look at a rack, a beard or a tanned pelt, I don’t think of trophy statistics. Instead, it clicks a memory in my mind and transports me back to the moment in time it took place.

I recall the time I hunted a large nine-point buck for a week and a half before finally catching up to him. I remember the time a spring turkey hunt came together perfectly when a hard-gobbling bird strutted right into my call set up.

I guess you could say each one has its own individual character. As far as I’m concerned, each and every one deserves to be preserved and remembered, even when space no longer allows it. I’ll never stop collecting these prize possessions, so when that time comes, maybe I’ll just add on to the shed or end up storing them in stacked containers.

I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t keep something from each of my adventures. To me, the memories are paramount, so long as I have them. Without them I’d be missing out on the act of glancing at them and having a instant recollection of my past.

David Orlowski is a writer, hunter, fisherman and outdoor enthusiast from Potter County. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.