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Cattail at a small pond.

Cattail at a small pond.

I had morning business near Freeport, Pennsylvania on January 21. I coordinated a hiking adventure at Harrison Hills Park to “kill two birds”, so to speak.                                                                                                                            DSC_0001

The snow began prior to eight o’clock and the snow engulfed my walk the entire time making for a beautiful sight to behold. One of my finest times to hike in winter is when the wind is absent and big flakes drift lazily through the forest. Absolutely, beautiful!

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DSC_0007       I chose a five mile trail to trek. I wondered how the knee would fair since that “good ole” tear in my meniscus has flared up in recent weeks. The cortisone shot from last September has already worn off apparently. The constant pinch with every step was easily felt, but I managed to complete the five miles.                                                DSC_0016

The trail meanders around the perimeter of the park allowing for many varied types of woodland diversity to be viewed, as well as, terrain. Big timber; crabapple thicket; areas covered with multiflora rose, as well as, goldenrod fields are present.                            DSC_0022

 

Steep terrain

Steep terrain

Terrain consists of rolling hills to very steep and rocky river hills. In fact, one can walk along the ridge and look down upon the mighty Allegheny River at spots. Freeport can be viewed. Also, one can look across the river to the site where the Massey Harbison abduction, by Indians, took place in 1792.  DSC_0023

A only saw two deer and several squirrels on the three hour walk. I did see plenty of small woodland birds and a pileated woodpecker.            DSC_0005

The web site of the park is:  http://www.alleghenycounty.us/park

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Mahoning Creek

           Mahoning Creek

Tuesday, January 20, my friend Frank and I tentatively planned a hike. However, upon discussing our plans I discovered he had injured himself. We decided to postpone the hike.

I  elected to do a mini-hike  in the area along Mahoning Creek near Eddyville, Pennsylvania, as well as, the actual dam on the waters.  DSC_0003

I hiked along the shoreline where possible. Mahoning is such a beautiful waterways and I was elated to see a bald eagle perched in a tree. the bird was way upstream so I couldn’t get any photos.  I saw a couple of  mergansers on the calmer water.

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Barn near dam entrance.

Barn near dam entrance.

I did see five deer and managed one quick photo of a young deer.

And the snow came!

And the snow came!

The snow came quickly covering the roads. The effect was beautiful. I saw two ring-neck pheasants while traveling home.

 

Bye-bye!

Bye-bye!

DSC_0001 I decided to check out the Allegheny River hoping for photos of Bald Eagles. I was somewhat surprised to see over ninety point nine percent of the waters north of Kittanning, Pennsylvania covered with ice. The ice varied in thickness and color. Much of the ice was white and thick, but some areas were thin for one could see the water color underneath. DSC_0009

I knew eagles would, most likely, be near Kittanning where the water was mostly open. However, I decided to hike along the shore of the river to see whatever I could see of interest prior to descending south.

 

Beaver sign

Beaver sign

I quickly, noticed coyote tracks as the animal searched for things to eat. I found where a beaver was using a hole to emerge under the ice and brush along the bank. Trails were well used, but, the critter didn’t venture very far on the excursions.                                                   DSC_0016

I traveled about a mile north before returning along a railroad track.

I watched two fishermen fish in some open water at a dam. I didn’t see any trophies being hauled in.

Sycamore Tree

Sycamore Tree

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

I began to head south to the Kittanning area where lots of open water was present. I knew any eagles in the area would be around this site. I pulled in a wide area seeing a man with a spotting scope watching waterfowl. I exited my jeep and started towards him when a shadow flowed along the surface to my right. I immediately looked up to see a mature bald eagle approximately thirty yards away. The big bird flew south not allowing for any photo.

Homemade ice cream ice!

Homemade ice cream ice!

Gulls; mergansers; mallards; canvasbacks; Goldeneye, at least, were visible. other species may have been out in the water, but unidentifiable at the range. I later spotted a Cooper’s Hawk perched among some limbs.

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Massey (Massa)was born on March 18, 1770. She married John Harbison in 1787. John was wounded in battle while serving under General Arthur St. Clair. I am assuming his wounds may have been during St. Clair’s defeat in Ohio in November of 1791. The soldiers were terribly defeated while fighting the natives during this conflict. Regardless, John was given lighter duty as a scout along the Allegheny frontier of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. John spent a lot of time away from him. Massey would eventually divorce the man.

The Escape of Massey Harbison by Larry A. Smail

The Escape of Massey Harbison by Larry A. Smail

At the time of her abduction, the Harbisons had a log cabin, across the Allegheny river,  just south of present-day Freeport, Pennsylvania. (Freeport, PA is in southern Armstrong County.) A blockhouse was within site of the cabin. This was a place of safety in the event of an Indian uprising. On Sunday, May 22, 1792, a group of Indians invaded the log cabin pulling Massey and her two eldest children from their beds. They began plundering.

She was in her sleeping nightgown only. One of her children was killed on site when he cried and fussed. Massey managed to get outside and scream towards the blockhouse. This act of defiance almost cost her life. One of the Indians stopped the tomahawk of another claiming her as her squaw.

They proceeded to a site east of present-day, Freeport and began to go down a steep river hill. A horse fell and injured Massey’s other son. He was killed on Todd Island as they crossed. Massey stated , later, there were 32 Indians (Delaware and Seneca) with two of them being white men. The group continued on to a site about two miles north of, present-day, Butler, Pennsylvania. Most of Indians left this site leaving two Indians to guard Massey. From this site she managed to escape.

The Indians took up her trail in pursuit. At one point, she hid among a tree top while a native stood and waited. He had heard the noise of the baby. Apparently, he believed he was hearing things and left. She used her hand and cloth to keep the baby silent. Imagine the terror she must have felt at this time. (This is the scene depicted in my painting.) On May 27th, 1792, Massey reached the Allegheny near,the present-day, Six Mile Island north of Pittsburgh.(Just above Sharpsburg, PA.) She had been close to death. She had, barely, survived the elements. She had came close to giving up, but thoughts of her baby helped her persevere. Another day in the wilderness would have, no doubt, killed her. Providence!

Massey passed away on December 9, 1837.

DSC_0003 My friend, Howard Meyers wished for me to attend the 40th

My art for the 40th anniversary logo.

My art for the 40th anniversary logo.

anniversary of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Awards Banquet. The event was held at State College, Pennsylvania.  I must say I was elated to see so many friends, most of which I haven’t seen in fifteen to twenty years. I spent a year as associate editor for their state magazine TURKEY TALK. I took over the reins in 1985 as editor and spent fifteen years in that position until I resigned in 2001.

Dale Rohm of Rohm Brothers Turkey Calls

Dale Rohm of Rohm Brothers Turkey Calls

Don Heckman and Shirley Grenoble

Don Heckman and Shirley Grenoble

I joined the organization in 1973 or 1974, I believe.  At that time, the organization was known as the Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Federation. This organization affiliated in 1975 with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the  board changed the name accordingly.

I spent much time getting to “catch up” with many friends. Most of them, myself included, belonging to the Silver Spurs for serving a number of  years on the board of directors. I completed the art for the 40th anniversary logo. This art appeared on tee-shirts and limited-edition box calls.

My good friend, Howard Meyers. We have chased a lot of turkeys.

My good friend, Howard Meyers. We have chased a lot of turkeys.

Dan and Pat Christ

Dan and Pat Christ

Dan, and Pat, Christ were present with his wildlife art. Dan created the  painting for the anniversary entitled, “Demanding Attention.”  You may visit his site at: http://www.danchristgallery.com  Dan helped the dragging of a bear I shot some time ago in Clearfield County. He, and his wife, are great people and I am proud to call them friends.

Another friend, Steve Lecorchick talked and he mentioned his ministry of working with terminally ill people with hunts. Steve has guided hunts for years. He does outdoor and Christian themed seminars as well. Contact Steve at 814-948-5133 and visit his web site for details too: http://www.answeringprayers.net I told Steve about my Bible studies and promised to send along my study on the Book of Acts as a starter.

Other friends were Dan Roessner; Joel Bock; Skip Sanderson; Joe Krug; Reed Johnson; Tom Baldrige of the NRA; Tim Holtz; Bob Clark; Ron Sandrus and many more. Great seeing you all!

DSC_0015    Dyed-in-the-wool flintlock hunters expect weather like this day. The temperatures were low and bitter on this, January 7th, 2015, day. The winds were brisk. I have hunted in more severe weather conditions during the after-Christmas primitive deer hunting season. This was an exceptional day to be in the woods.                                  DSC_0016

Deer were everywhere! I was seeing many deer and by 9:00 A.M. I had viewed sixteen deer!  I even missed two! The first miss was a doe that had been feeding and stopped to look at why the other deer behind her were acting strange. A tree blocked the front shoulder area. I leaned way to my left to expose the area. I remember using my right index finger to slide behind my glasses to wipe away the tears from the cold wind. I missed!

I was trailing another deer when I spotted a doe bedded behind some fallen trees. The thirty yard shot could have been an easy one, however, the deer unnerved at the very same second I squeezed the trigger. I missed.

IMG_1628Later, I was sneaking among crabapples and goldenrods when I spotted a doe standing watching me. The shot was true, but back a little farther than I wanted. I followed the deer  and harvested her about 12:45 P.M. Unfortunately, the kill zone was way down over a steep hill. The drag would be hard until I reached the top.

 

DSC_0003  I have been negligent with my posts as of late. I believe I need to catch up some. The first day of Pennsylvania’s Primitive deer season began the day after Christmas. I forced myself to hunt as usual despite bouts of pain in my upper, inner thigh area.

A camera shot instead of a flintlock shot!

A camera shot instead of a flintlock shot!

This first day I saw nine deer. Some deer were close enough, but brush caused a pause hoping for that perfect shot. Those waits often cause failure to get any shots. I did see a Least Weasel this day. That little weasel is rare and I felt privileged to see one. I quit a little after noon due to pain. I didn’t hunt the next day.

DSC_0008  I saw plenty of deer the next several times I hunted. (I took pain-relieving pills to make the hunt as tolerable as possible.) On Tuesday, the 30th, my cousins, Donnie and Bobby, as well as, my step father, Bob engaged in some hunting. Bobby and I dogged all morning. I had the hammer back of several potential shots, but I didn’t shoot. Two of these potential shots were near horizon lines. Another shot had two deer standing side by side. The closest deer was back  some, but I thought the deer may step just as I shoot potentially harvesting two deer. I hoped they would separate. Donnie and Bob missed  during this drive.

A small deer.

A small deer.

I elected to head off after the others went their separate ways.  I missed a shot at a deer for I misjudged the distance. I did see a coyote this day.

Today, January 2nd, my friend, Terry Williams and I went hunting with our flintlocks. Terry has limited time to hunt so I did some dogging hoping he might connect. He did get a nice buck in archery season and a doe earlier during this flintlock season. I saw a lot of deer with  two times having the hammer back hoping for that perfect shot. In fact, I had 22 deer sightings. Terry didn’t see any. Fate is like that!

I was circling Terry when I saw a deer in goldenrods and briars. I instinctively raised  Old Jacob and shot. The deer dropped. The shot was seventeen yards via Terry’s range finder. Tomorrow will be butchering day.

 

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