Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Turkeys!

Today was the first day of trout season I Pennsylvania. I don’t care for the crowds on trout opener, so I decided to go for a walk and look for some Morel Mushrooms.

  I crossed a creek near to where I was raised and walked the steep slope towards the top of the hill. This woods is an open woodland, so I had high hopes of wandering onto some of those fine-tasting ‘rooms. I have found Morels at this location in past years, but the morsels evaded my eyesight.

The day, however, was a productive one in other ways. Squirrels were abundant, both the Gray and Fox squirrels species. Chipmunks raced over the dry leaf-litter. I saw some Rufous-sided Towhees. that sighting always insures soring is here to stay.

I heard a commotion and saw some movement along the side of a Wild Cherry tree. Young raccoons were at the den. the cute little buggers were inquisitive of my presence allowing a few photo  ops.  While moving about near their den tree I saw a turkey flying across the hollow. As I watched I heard gobbles way down the ridgeline. I believed I would venture in that direction.

I entered a field and eased over the terrain to see two turkeys about eighty yards away. I set up and called. Gil-obble-obble-obble was the response. I waited surprised to have four jake gobblers come within twenty yards of my position. The camera was shooting. One became nervous with alarm putting. I responded likewise , but they were all nervous. two more jakes and a hen entered the scene. they were right near me when two longbeards showed up. One had a massive beard close to a foot long I surmised. I tried to move the camera onto those beauties and the close birds began putting, too. they all quickly disappeared.

I used the field’s terrain to circle and saw them way off eventually in another field. I called, but the mood was gone.

I headed back towards the jeep still looking occasionally for Morels. I saw the two longbeards  again. I saw eight deer and a Red-tailed Hawk and the nest. I, also, saw a pair of Wood Ducks in a wetland-like area.

 

 

 

 

 

Frog eggs

Advertisements

Fort Ligonier

I arrived at the jeep from a hike along Grove Run. I checked the time and decided to travel the six to eight miles to visit Fort Ligonier.  (Present-day, Ligonier, Pennsylvania.) I hadn’t been to the fort in over fifteen years and was anxious to see what new renovations and restorations might be present to see.

One of many pieces of artillery on site.

A brief history of the fort is in order. The timing of history here in southwestern Pennsylvania was the French and Indian War. The Pennsylvania Colony was sided with the British against the French and their Indian allies. The Delaware (Leni-Lenape) with some Shawnee in present-day Kittanning were

British “Union Jack” flag

allied with the French. Fort Ligonier was a British fort erected along the Loyalhanna Creek in 1758. At this time in the war the fort was being used as a staging site for General John Forbes. Forbes mission was to attack the French Fort Duquesne at the forks of the rivers at present-day Pittsburgh. The site would become Fort Pitt after the French evacuated their presence.

Twice the Indians beseigfed the fort and both times the attack was a failure.

The site was a pace of heavy archeological diggings in recent past. Hundreds of relics were removed in the dig and are now on display at the Fort Ligonier musem. The fort, itself, has been erected and restored when possible. Walking through the fort gives a degree of how these brave men lived their day to day existence during war times. It wasn’t easy.

The fort was abandoned in 1766 after the French and Indian War along with Pontiac’s war ended.

To see more about Fort Ligonier see: http://www.fortligonier.org

 

 

Store house

 


Rock outcropping on the Loyalhanna Creek side.

 

Old “wavy” glass window

 

 

 

Wolf Rocks

I began this trek to the Laurel Highlands in the dark hours of the morning. I wanted to on the trail I selected early not long into sunrise. The temperature was in the thirty degree range as I began to walk to an area known as Wolf Rocks. I was at the Laurel Summit State Park for this particular hike.

Overlooking Linn Run

The traveling wasn’t easy due to many rocks on the trail, however, the walk was mostly level. I discovered why this area is known as Laurel Summit. Often times the areas to my right and to my left were covered with dense Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel.  Intermingled with these evergreen plants could be found our native green briar. I wasn’t very interested in trying to go through this mess, so I didn’t!

Rocky trail

I was surprised at the woodland silence this morning. Not one gobble was to be heard. I heard one raven. Very few other birds were heard. I saw some deer and heard and spotted an eagle flying over.

I moved a mile down the road to walk another trail. This trail is called Beam Rock Trail. I was impressed with these rocks once I arrived to them. Rock climbing is allowed on site and I hare to admit I did do some limited rock climbing.  The years kept telling me to not push this adventure. Body parts might break easier now! I could see snow and ice among some of these huge boulders.

Around noon I went down slope and hiked along Grove Run in the Linn Run area. Here I first saw green spring life. I found hepatica, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily and some young emergences of a few other species. I did not find any Morels. I left Linn Run around three o’clock. I hoped to have time in Ligonier to see the f Fort Ligonier Museum.

 

 

 

 

Beam Rock view

 

 

 

Snow between rocks

 

Mountain laurel blossom remnant from last year.

Flowers from the lowland hike:

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Trout Lily

 

A Tough Decision

Old Jacob with his new “peep” sight.

Most of my friends know how I enjoy hunting with the flintlock rifles.  I love the gracious flow of the wood, the character and beauty of the Pennsylvania long rifles of the eighteenth century. The last two flintlock seasons I had not done very well with my shooting abilities. I missed many deer with my flintlocks only tagging two. Last year I did not get any deer. Some of the shots I took traditionally would have been a “down-deer.” Trips to the eye doctor didn’t help despite numerous test on the eyes.  Last summer I contacted specialist about Lasik-surgery. I wasn’t a candidate. A friend suggested peep sights. I could readily see an advantage, but I wasn’t ready to place a more modern style of sight on my traditional rifle named, Old Jacob. Last year’s mishaps eventually forced a discussion with an avid flintlock shooter. (Old Jacob was a custom-made rifle of the Andrew Verner school of gun building. He lived in eastern Pennsylvania and created this style of stock. during the latter part of the seventeen-hundreds.)

I visited a friend, Curt Boal. He is the owner of a black powder shop near Fenelton, Pennsylvania. His shop is: Curt’s Blackpowder Shop. Visit: http://www.curtsblackpowdershop.com

Our discussion led me to decide to do a peep sight mounting. This morning, (April 2019) I picked up Old Jacob and I agreed with him that the sight looked good on the flinter. This peep sight is not a modern-style sight of today, but more in line with something found on an earlier rifle of the nineteenth century. The sight sets close on the barrel. I guess I can live with this. Fact is, I have to live with it or give up shooting and hunting deer.

To compensate for my feelings on this style of sight, I simply tell myself the colonial hunter would have had a peep sight if that knowledge of them would have been available.

Thank you Curt for a fine job!

 

I am guessing the last time I hiked on Pennsylvania Game Commission State Game Lands 304 was twelve to fifteen years ago. The timing of this venture was in late August or September. The Deer Tick explosion in my area of Pennsylvania was in full force. I parked along a township road and headed up and over a hill in that year. Memory and time cheats me of specifics, but I either called and had turkeys answer me or I simply hear turkeys and set up to call them in.

Skunk Cabbage

I set up armed with a camera and began turkey talk. Their interest was apparent as I waited to see the birds sneaking into camera zones.

Buffalo Creek

For whatever reason I looked down only to see many ticks crawling upon my camo pants and shirt. I began removing and killing before getting up and leaving. the turkeys would have to wait. I couldn’t stand all those ticks crawling on my clothes. I needed to act and remove and kill as needed!

Today, I revisited this particular game lands, but not at the exact place I had been those many years ago.

I walked down a slope and eventually walked alongside to Buffalo Creek. The creek was beautiful. As I walked along I went upslope before hearing the distinct sound of a hen turkey. She began yelping, cackling loudly followed by others. In short order a gobbler or two began gobbling. Fighting with loud purring was heard as well. The wings were beating  loudly as various birds pushed to maintain or gain positions in the pecking order. The birds were across the creek. I eased slowly in their direction and eventually could see turkey movement about a hundred yards away.

I soon saw a big strutting gobbler, his white “snowball” head could clearly be viewed as it appeared to glow. (Turkey hunters will know what that means.)  About a half-an-hour of this show ended abruptly with the turkeys starting to feed again. Sad to say I could not get any photos due to the thickness of limbs.

I heard and saw Wood Frogs. I, also, saw some Red-spotted Newts and a pair of Mallard Ducks.

 

 

IN DEFENSE

I certainly do have an avid interest in history. The French and Indian War years interest me a lot since many events of this era happened in Pennsylvania and within a few miles from where I grew up.  The years for this war locally began  in 1754 and lasted to 1758 when the French abandoned Fort Duquesne in present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania allowing General Forbes to take over the fort. He renamed the fort to Fort Pitt.

Within a mile from where I live is a community called Kittanning. During this war members, primarily, of the Lenni-lenape (Delaware) and Shawnee nations took up residence launching raids across Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. In September 1756, Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong launched a raid upon Kit-Han-Ne. Mostly militia-style volunteers under Armstrong were involved in this attack. However, some Pennsylvania Provincial soldiers were involved. These soldiers would be dressed as shown in my painting called; IN DEFENSE.

IN DEFIANCE

The Indians of the time were brave warriors. The painting shown here called: IN DEFIANCE, depicts a naïve warrior defying the soldier. Eastern Indians usually wore little into battle preferring to paint themselves to aid in terrorizing the enemy. However, as cooler weather approached  clothing would be worn as needed.

These paintings were created  in 2004 and 2006.

Yes, recently this week I ventured out in some cold weather with stiff breezes to hike around a game lands. I hunted bear at this site last fall and wanted to explore some areas I hadn’t ventured into as of date. Immediately upon leaving a gas well road to move upslope the signs of deer beds were prevalent.  This area was shielded from the wind gusts and I suspect the deer made use of that fact. Numerous tracks were present as I hiked this adventure. I would see three deer later during the hike.

I circled around the hill’s side and old long-abandoned highwalls to fight Multiflora Rose and autumn Olive. I still have several thorns embedded into my hands as I type.

Once I moved up onto the top flats of this hill the winds became more brisk. They felt, almost, as a personal attack on me. However, I was prepared for the cold.

Turkey scratchings

I spotted some exposed leaves among some downed trees and discovered turkeys had been scratching the day before. Several hundred yards away I

Deer bed

came across fresh tracks. the tracks soon led to six to eight turkeys. I managed a few quick photos. I actually broke the flock up. If the cold was so demanding and may have set up to call some back, but I elected to continue moving to keep the old blood moving.

I walked a quarter of a mile and heard something moving in the brush only to see an adult gobbler. The brush did not allow any photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cone of a Tamarack. (Larch)

 

Note the swollen left side of this deer’s head.