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On the Back Roads with Mike Howell


Back in 1986 I took a summer walk from Roulette, Pennsylvania up to Jim Tronetti’s( Camp Bucktail) in Mina, Pennsylvania. Mina, PA, is a small stretch of land along the Allegheny river that runs and twists with the river between Coudersport and Roulette ,nestled snugly between mountain grandeur along Route 6 .

As a tall lanky lad I walked the back way to Camp Bucktail through an old stone quarry and logging path that once produced a large amount of flagstone as well as timber. These were old logging trails from long before. The hills stood towering in the streams and valleys where one could feel he was mystically lost in time. As I loped along looking for deer sign and bear scat, I could see The Old Shovel Road approaching. The name of that road was derived years before, someone had retired an old Steam Shovel that sits there still today.

Jim Tronetti, a retired factory worker and a Korean War veteran had the nicest camp at the time on that road , was my mentor as well as an amazing guy. I will write more about him in the future as he was truly an amazing figure . The little red camp was my retreat as I spent most my time there hunting, fishing , alone or with big Jim .

As I was approaching Camp Bucktail on foot this sunny day I was suddenly interrupted by one of the biggest Black Bears I had ever seen or have yet to witness . I knew where Jim kept his Camera , so scampering on tippy toes to the back door to where I hid my key to the place. To my dismay the monster bear took off on a dead run, he took off like he was chasing something. All I have now is a mental snapshot of that big bear, his rear end bobbing up the mountain behind the camp.

Jim had many epic encounters with the bears near Camp Bucktail. I would laugh hysterically at him, charging up that hill cussing because they would take his trash cans and haul them way up in the woods and rip them apart. He told of a story that one night he had his back porch light on, he witnessed a small black bear enjoying his trash can like he was at the local buffet. Jim opened the door up and then the screen and booted the bear in the rear, but he said in an instant, the little bear looked like a giant. That enraged the bear turned to him and swatted the screen door off its hinges!

I Think I will take a little trip over with my son and daughter to do some fishing this year and relive some fond memories .

In memory of Jim Tronetti, Camp Bucktail, and That big Black Bear ! Mike Howell 2021

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