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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Spent the weekend at my cabin west of Galeton Potter co. and came home to York co. down rt44 what we call the long way home and seeing all the old "land mark" restaurants ,motels, small stores closed like Ox Yoke,Potato city inn,Sylvania restaurant , General store in Gaines looked open but had a for sale sign, Waldheim, store at carter camp ,Mt.top bar by fin fur feather is for sale , I saw McConnells store in Waterville had a sign saying under new ownership. So my question is to the older guys that went to the northern tier during its "hayday" How many days a year did the average camp members go north to be able to support all of these places but can't survive now ? I'm 45 and I remember as a little kid my dad would go to camp for a week of "buck" hunting and then a long weekend of mandatory work weekend and then 1 week of family vacation .I would have thought with the better high ways now cutting travel time down and all of the other outdoor things besides hunting and fishing ,ex. cherry springs star watch,atv trails,,kayaking,leaf watchers . That the modern day outdoors people not necessarily hunters would be spending more time and money there then 30-50yes ago. I know people are going to say lack of deer but could 2 weeks of buck season and 3 days of doe hunting put enough money in these peoples pockets for them to survive ? We have 6 weeks of Archery now How many weeks was it then 2-3? (not sure on that) Early muzzleloader,Jr and senior doe weekend seems like there should be a ton more money flowing up there now then the "old days" with a lot of single income households and the lady folk not invited to camps during hunting seasons.Just wandering if you spent more days at camp then or now.
 

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I believe it is the sign of the times with people being more busier in their lives ,and higher prices for food ,restaurants ,taxes, gas people don't have the time to go up like they use to years ago, which is a shame because a lot of these businesses are landmarks for being around so long. hope it turns around and some are able to rebound and survive
 

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It's not just camp areas. It's all over. Small businesses anywhere just can't compete with the Amazons and Walmart Supercenters of the world. Even in the heyday of things, people going to their camps helped businesses in those areas, but I don't think they ever carried them to the point where it kept them afloat. Times have just changed in the way that people do things.
 

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Many factors:

Society: Globalization. Urbanization/suburbanization. The changing dynamics of family and community. Changes in interpersonal communication.

Hunting: Boom and bust cycles, largely related to timber management and mismanagement. Trend towards less hunters spending more time afield, and most of that time close to home.

I agree that the "camp culture" of my grandfathers' generation has changed and the above factors are about the best I can boil it down. Comparatively in my estimation, I attribute the decline about 1,000x more to the societal factors than anything that has to do with hunting.

Either way, it's just the facts and circumstances. Businesses in Appalachia that were once marketable, and now aren't...well they can blame the changing times til the cows come home, but it ain't going to put cash under the mattress or in their paypal accounts.. America was founded on free market principles. The economic winners will find a way without any outside assistance.
 

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Many of those businesses never were the gold mines many thought they were. They were businesses that managed to hold on through the year depending on that one big shot in the arm each year at buck season that kept them going. Those two weeks of buck season could make up 20% or more (much more) of their entire yearly income. Take away most of that 20% or more from an income that lets you just barely get by, and it becomes impossible to get by.

Back in the day many parts of PA had low deer numbers, so everybody came up north to deer hunt where the deer were plentiful. That's no longer the case, many places in PA now have more deer than northern PA, so the people stopped coming.
 

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Consider that back in those days, the state was basically a manufacturing economy with a vast majority of its workers working on an unwavering shift (Monday through Friday, wither first, second, or third shift). Everyone had a regimented schedule and took regimented vacation time Now, manufacturing jobs are not common and those that work M-F only even less so. Partly because of this, you wont have the huge migration of hunters swamping the north like it used to be, even if the deer populations were high.
 

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I grew up in DuBois in the 60's. Downtown on a Friday night was the place to be. Two movie theaters and the stores were all open late. I bought my first trap in what I think was Long's hardware and my bike at I think Western Auto. Day after Thanksgiving you had to cross the street at a stop light downtown because of the never ending parade of deer hunters heading north. Two big railroad yards and manufacturing jobs every where. Sad not the same today. A shadow of what the town use to be.
 

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I see the same thing happening and I don't know what all causes this but I can tell you what the owner of a hotel near Marienville and the past owner of a small grocery store in the same area told me. They both told me (conversations took place years apart) that when we had bear season, two weeks of buck, three days of doe, and trout weekends they made a huge part of their income in those seasons. Now we have half the hunters in the area for the buck season, doe season running concurrent with buck season and little in the way of small game hunters. That's what they told me.
What I can ad is I remember what buck and doe season was like in the ANF back in the 70ies, 80ies, and into the 90ies. It was a zoo. Every restaurant and bar packed, every hotel and camp jammed full. It was a beer distributors dream. I can remember waiting in line at a phone booth in Marienville to call my mom. The first day of buck season comes and goes without much notice now.
 

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Many of those businesses never were the gold mines many thought they were. They were businesses that managed to hold on through the year depending on that one big shot in the arm each year at buck season that kept them going. Those two weeks of buck season could make up 20% or more (much more) of their entire yearly income. Take away most of that 20% or more from an income that lets you just barely get by, and it becomes impossible to get by.
As the owner of a small business myself, I agree with this. One or two really good weeks can make your year. One or two weeks you were counting on that end up falling flat can break your year.
 
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I remember how heavy the traffic on Rt. 15 N in northern Lycoming and Tioga counties would be the few days after Thanksgiving. All the vehicles packed with orange hat wearing occupants. Every little mom n' pop motel was packed, restaurants and general stores humming. Most of the motels had game poles for the hunters to hang their deer. One time an area motel had several deer stolen overnight. One negative of this era was that I know for a fact there were several area residents that lined their pockets by selling bucks to hunters from down state. This practice was fairly common back in the day and some locals welcomed the opportunity.

The following week you would see every other vehicle going down the road with a buck or two strapped to the back or on the roof. I often wondered how good some of that venison was after hanging for almost a week with the hide on and then being transported a couple of hundred miles being exposed to road grime. A little gamey I bet.
 

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I grew up in DuBois in the 60's. Downtown on a Friday night was the place to be. Two movie theaters and the stores were all open late. I bought my first trap in what I think was Long's hardware and my bike at I think Western Auto. Day after Thanksgiving you had to cross the street at a stop light downtown because of the never ending parade of deer hunters heading north. Two big railroad yards and manufacturing jobs every where. Sad not the same today. A shadow of what the town use to be.
I moved to Dubois in 1991 so I have no idea what it was like in the 60's.I do know that there were a lot more jobs around the area when I first moved here,especially down around Clearfield.The small Mom and pop stores were replaced by Walmarts,Lowes,Sheetz and dollar stores.I'm sure that happened all over.Overall,this town has everything I need and everything I like to to do is right out my back door.The overall class of people is good and the crime is low.As long as you're fortunate to make a good income,you can live like a king up here.I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.Admittedly,I'm a transplant to this area and have no way to compare it to the good ole days.
 

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dce,
Every neighborhood had a grade school and play ground plus at least 1 or 2 mom and pop grocery stores. I went to Olive Ave grade school till 6th grade then they made me walk to the old high school. Heck each neighborhood had a barber. Caught my first muskrat in Sandy creek and we fished the old Tannery Dam the first day of trout season. Use to pick up the reject golf balls for batting practice at whats now the Harley Shop. Even had a friend who's dad worked the the DuBois Budweiser Brewery. We swiped a few of his beers.
I still like DuBois.
 

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I grew up in small towns on both sides of the river in the Harrisburg area. Spent much of my youthful summers in both Potter and Tioga counties on farms and with relative in rural communities up there.

So much has changed since I was a grade schooler, in all of those areas.

Around home, much larger populations now, with all the problems more people can bring. All of the places I roamed in as a kid and hunted in when I was older, are basically developed now. Hardly any small neighborhood businesses still exist like they did in the 50s and 60s. Traffic is horrendous due to more people being there. Crime and drug problems are everywhere.

Up north, many of the small towns that once had small businesses are now almost completely devoid of local stores, barbershops and other places that people once depended on. Roads and vehicles are much better than just 40 years ago, no problem driving 50 miles or farther to get what you need, so little necessity for local shops like in the old days.

Most of the farm stores/feed mills are gone. Larger businesses in the area that once provided employment closer to home, gone. Same for farm equipment dealers that once were numerous in both counties.

There were still railroads in much of the northern tier not that long ago, to service smaller industries. All pretty much gone now, too. What industries that are left, now rely on trucks, which goes along with improved road networks that weren't available a few decades back. Renovo once had RR repair shops that provided good local jobs, as another example. Gone decades ago.

Tourism was once an important part of the business model in the northern tier counties, be it hunting related or just folks wanting to spend some time in the country. That too has tapered off quite a bit in the past few decades.

I don't really see it coming back like it once was? Kids aren't interested in riding for hours just to spend time in the country, when they have so much going on at home with their friends, as an example.
 

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Every morning I lift weights with an older guy that's always telling me stories abut those days and some of the people.Maybe you remember him,Bugsy Bayer.Pretty interesting.I actually live in Sabula and recently read the book about the area called the hills of home. i do remember the old grocery stores on Olive ave and W longs ave,although I'm not sure I remember them being open.
 

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There were still railroads in much of the northern tier not that long ago, to service smaller industries. All pretty much gone now, too. What industries that are left, now rely on trucks, which goes along with improved road networks that weren't available a few decades back. Renovo once had RR repair shops that provided good local jobs, as another example. Gone decades ago.
In some areas the Marcellus boon has opened rail lines that were shut down years ago. There is a greater rail line presence than in the recent past, but certainly not to the degree of the rail's heyday.
 

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I used to make the trip from McKeesport to Betula on up through DuBois for many years. It was like a religious experience back then, with stops in Big Run at the old general store and sometimes buckwheat pancakes in the town just south of DuBois. (Mind is going to mush!) We still eat at the local spots around Smethport, buy our grocery's and gas there.We've had a place up North since 1947, its still going strong as we have a bunch of young guys that really love the camp life, and love the big woods hunting. I've since moved (1985) to the Finger Lakes of NY, but still manage about 40 days a year at camp. As I get older, that pulls me in harder each year!
 

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I can remember driving up over centre hall mt. 1st 3 days of buck,both saturdays. 3 day doe, bear season vehicles parked along side the road. At least the past 20 years you don't see any vehicles along the road. Its been posted property since.

I can remember same route bottom of centre hall side. Left onto route 192. Vehicles parked on both sides of the road. A few farmers sold there land across the road and its been small housing developments and the farmers posted there property for there families and few buddies only. Drive down now its like it was 20 years ago, its all posted all but a piece DCNR bought a few years ago 2015 i believe.

I remember driving up over madisonburg mt. route 445 vehicles parked around just about every turn hugging the bank to get off the road. That too is mostly posted now all but the game lands on that route.

I can remember driving up over pine grove mt. camps be full, not an empty camp in route. Thats changed last 20 years. I see more posted signs than anything. Is it they stop going to camp cause they don't have much ground to stump on? IDK or is it not many deer there like it use to be? IDK, but i do know its a ghost town after 1st day rifle.

I honestly believe as i have said and thought for many year's alot of guys hanged it up due to they lost there hunting ground more than not seeing deer. Times are changing each and every year and it will only get worse.

Around here i not knocking the amish, but these days they buy more & more land to built on or purchased a farm that use to be run by one of us kind of folks. Consider yourself lucky if you are granted permission to be on there land to hunt.

Final thought on this subject. The farmers who operated there farms & worked hard for many years passed it down due to age, illness, death to there kids and they see $ signs. Sell Sell Sell. There are very few dairy farms around here any more, not like it use to be. Pastures after pastures filled with milking cows. Farm we hunt on said milk prices forced him to sell his milking cows, plus the price of corn went down. He stopped planting corn. He wasn't getting anywhere & decided to retire an lease's his land to a couple neighbor farms to mow his hay.

This generation my opinion lots of folks are plain & simple -------- lazy. Sorry i had to get that off my chest writing this post.
 

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Final thought on this subject. The farmers who operated there farms & worked hard for many years passed it down due to age, illness, death to there kids and they see $ signs. Sell Sell Sell. There are very few dairy farms around here any more, not like it use to be. Pastures after pastures filled with milking cows. Farm we hunt on said milk prices forced him to sell his milking cows, plus the price of corn went down. He stopped planting corn. He wasn't getting anywhere & decided to retire an lease's his land to a couple neighbor farms to mow his hay..
Small operation dairy farming is one of the most unappealing careers out there. I have a friend who grew up on a dairy farm - out of 15 kids none of them chose to stay on the farm. I know I certainly wouldn't want to do it. Even the coal miners of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century had Sundays off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I agree in some parts of the state posted land is stopping some hunters but not in the northern tier where I'm talking about ,there is more public land then one could even dream of stepping on in a lifetime so open land to hunt isn't stopping anybody.
 

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We purchased our camp in Wrights in 1968 and first hunted out of it in 1969. We went in to Port Allegany on the evening of opening day and counted 110 bucks hanging along Main St. Mostly at motels. Knell's Sporting Goods store was packed with hunters all weekend and that week accounted for nearly 50% of his annual sales. All camps were full, motels full, campers parked all over the place. Now, you may see 1 or 2 bucks hanging in town after the first day. Several camps don't even open. Motels are, basically, devoid of hunters. We stay all week and may see 1 or 2 hunters in our area. Some weeks we don't see any. The decline began after they killed all the does and put in antler restrictions. It's a shame to see what has happened to the local economy!!!!
 
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