I stood in the cool, breezy twilight listening for gobble talk, but failed to hear any gossip. I became chilled at times for I was dressed light anticipating the warmer temperatures predicted for later in the morning. While standing and listening I was surprised to see a Coyote pass by at about thirty-five yards.

Eventually, I began circling about listening and calling.

I was shocked to see the gobbler, at first. The bird never gobbled and was coming close to me. The bird was about thirty feet distance at the closest. He scratched the leaf litter feeding and would occasionally go into a partial strut. The big debate was circling amidst my thoughts. Do I fill a tag? With all the asthma issues I had been struggling with, that thought seemed strong at times. I elected to shoot the legal gobbler with the camera. I shot him about twenty times with the Nikon.

The yearling JAKE sported a sharply, curled four, maybe five-inch beard. The beard is hard to see in the photos. I am happy I didn’t shoot the gobbler with the 870 shotgun.

I moved farther south and was disappointed once I reached the top. Acres and acres of the woodlands had been timbered out. I could not see this from the road for the steep hillside wasn’t cut. I called around anyway until I decided to head home for I had some commitments later. I found a turkey egg. I saw about six or seven deer. I found a couple of morels but I didn’t pick them.

Yikes… I am beginning to have the scratchy eyes. Are the allergies coming next? I know it will hit soon and more meds will be needed.

Wild Turkey Egg

Yes, my butt has been kicked! The first morning of the 2023 Pennsylvania Spring Gobbler Season had me calling a longbeard and two Jakes off the roost. Unfortunately, the scenario of the area did not allow a shot to be had. The birds went below me and within a Safety Zone area. That was all right for I had plenty of days to hunt not knowing what the following day had in store for me.

Sunday the asthma hit hard! I coughed, choked became extremely exhausted due to the expelled energy to cough so hard and not having much sleep. It is a scary thing to cough and choke so hard you can’t get your breath. So, I hunted very little. I did try a couple of mid-morning hours but failed. Coughing uncontrollably and gobbler hunting doesn’t make for a scene with much success.

I finally had a doctor appointment and was put on steroids. I am improving, thankfully. This morning I watched the sunrise and heard two gobblers, but both were not near to me at all, however, I was enjoying the morning with little coughing.

One humorous story of the morning was an encounter with a flock of, at least, ten gunieas. The noisy birds’ home is the landowner’s sons home but they travel all around the fields. I tried to put a legal beard on some but failed to do so.

Baby Red-tailed Hawk in nest.

Yellow Warbler

Mollusk in a deer track

Mayapple Blossom


Wild Geranium

A few photos of deer and turkeys from recent time afield.

Sunrise in the fog.

White Trillium

In 2020 during the complete shutdown of America, Laurie and I hiked the Rock Furnace Trail located in southern Armstrong County. We were discussing in 2019 of a possible cruise for our Twenty-five wedding anniversary. Eventually, we decided to not chance the trip due to the possibility of my stepfather, Bob Miller passing away due to cancer. That decision was sure the right decision for in March, when the trip was being planned, the ocean cruise ships were stopped on the ocean. they were not allowed to port. We would have been on one of those ships!

So, to compensate for the decision to not take a cruise we did some hiking and sightseeing. The above trail was one of those choices. We enjoyed dour time together on that hike. We, both enjoy the beauty of wildflowers, and the trail does not disappoint.

Recently we walked the trail again. the stream, Roaring Run parallels the trail. This stream has been recently classified as a stream of naturally occurring Brown Trout. The trout are reproducing!

Purple Trillium

Some areas along the trail produce literally thousands upon thousands of White Trillium plants.

I discovered this nesting hen.

I had some worms and I decided to spend a little time on Buffalo Creek to see if the trout were biting. No luck. There was an insect hatch, and I would occasionally see a swirl as a hungry trout gulped one down. I fished approximately thirty-five minutes before my morel-hunting hike began. Along the stream I saw a pair of kingfishers fluttering back and forth emitting their rattling calls. I saw a pair of Canada Geese flying over. As I used a leaning tree for support while casting, I notice a Wood Turtle submerged along the shoreline. I managed one photo before the turtle entered the tree’s root mass.

Wood Turtle

The walk began upslope on a township road before diagonally walking through the woods in search of morel mushrooms. Eventually along the horizon line I would see seven deer in total, three Jakes and a longbeard.

The view from the summit.

I turned downward and reentered the woods. Here I would spot the nesting hen. I didn’t get too close for fear of disturbing her. I took some various wildflower photos while descending the hill. By ten o’clock the temps were hitting very warm degrees.

Coltsfoot seed pods.

The blossom of our native Wild Ginger. This blossom is always at ground level.

Bob Miller with a fall gobbler I called in to him.

Robert lee Miller came into the family’s life some time ago. He became interested with my mother, Ruth Smail and after I encouraged her, she went out on a dinner date with Bob. My mother had no interest with seeing any others since my father death in 1999. The two were married in my backyard gazebo in August of 2009. (Interestingly, I had to give my approval of this marriage.)

Bob was born on October 12, 1934 and lived in Dixonville, Pennsylvania in Indiana County until he later moved to Ohio for his job. His first wife died from cancer and Bob began traveling back to his home ground areas visiting campgrounds to be with friends and listen to the music.

The family all became close with Bob, and he treated my mother and us kids very well.

Hunting became an interest with Bob. He said, more than once, he had not hunted all that much until he became part of this family. Bob harvested his first spring gobbler and first fall gobbler while together on turkey hunts. He managed to get some deer on our hunts, as well.

Bob holding one of my spring gobblers. He was proud of my harvests.

One of Bob’s interests was with old cars. His 1954 Chevy Belair won a number of car shows places, mostly first place. The car still has only 26,000 original miles on it.

My mother with Bob at one of the car shows. The 1954 Chevy Belair is a beauty.

Bob loved country music, especially the classics of his era. He played a little guitar and loved to sing. I tried to work with him on some timing issues and actually made two CDs with him. I did all the music, and he sang on them. He and my mother followed me with the varied bands I had played music with over the many years. (He was at a music event I had played at one week before he was signed up with hospice care.)

Bob faced some bad events in his recent years. In December of 2018, a huge poplar tree fell grazing him knocking him to the ground with a very bad ankle break. We were hunting deer. I called 911 and he spent a number of days in the hospital and in therapy. In the spring of 2019, another event occurred that would affect all of the family’s lives. He had a growth and by summer it was discovered he had rectal cancer.

The aggressive form of cancer allowed for only living six to eight months without chemo. The chemo kept Bob alive but wore him down with time. He managed to live although the side effects were making him weaker and weaker. In December of 2022 the chemo was stopped, and the cancer began to, once again, act aggressively upon his body. He became even weaker to the point where walking was difficult. I, as the power of attorney, signed for hospice care in April of this year. In fact the signing was this past Monday. The decline continued and fast.

Hunting deer

Shooting a muzzleloader

Under hospice care, Bob eventually succumbed to the cancer attack. He passed away late on April 13, 2023 at home.


During the processes of making audio CDs, I have used my telecaster guitar with effects to mimic the sounds of a mandolin on past efforts. A couple of weeks ago I spotted this beauty on a counter and the price was not bad. I debated at first but was encouraged to purchase by my wife, Laurie.

I know some chords and have been practicing playing lead notes as I learn the note positions.

A strange reality came about after I returned home with this instrument. I spotted the paper that had been removed from the string package. I was shocked when I saw a date when the strings were changed along with my initials. I had changed these strings for somebody, but I am not sure who the person was. I have an inkling, but the man had dies several years ago. I hope to find out more on this to juggle my memory with certainty. Can you say Twilight Zone????

My interest in German history was initiated through the words of my father, Allen K. Smail. My father, a World War 2, veteran talked of such things occasionally. We watched the old series, Hogan’s Heroes with laughter. One thing I remember was the mindset of the SS soldiers as he told me. My father who was part of the military police. (MP) would have the occasion to watch over German prisoners. He spoke of the differences between the regular German soldier and the SS soldier.

The German word, Schutzstaffel was abbreviated to the SS. Such men were originally formed to be only dedicated to the armed protection of Adolf Hitler and the NAZI party ideals. One truth I learned from the reading of the above book; The Waffen-SS is one of around twenty separate SS divisions. The Waffen-SS was the combat unit.

Of course, some of the SS units were responsible for the terrible atrocities committed upon the Jewish people as well as many others.

Another interesting aspect of the SS units was as the war progressed conscriptions were being done to supply the numbers. Also, there were men from other countries part of the SS soldiery. even French men. the earliest SS men had to meet certain qualifications including complete loyalty to Adolf Hitler m nd the NAZI war machine even to their deaths. The strictness would be lessened as time moved along during the war.

One story my father told to me concerning the SS was how evil the men were. he said you didn’t dare let down your guard to the SS of the earlier prisoners. They would kill if a chance was afforded to them. remember my dad was an MP, so he was around these soldiers at times. However, he, also, stated later in the war the prisoners were kids and elderly. The young Germans would throw down their rifles upon seeing the American soldiers. My dad said these young people were pests. they loved riding in the jeeps.

I enjoyed the read as I always do on such things and would recommend reading it to anyone interested in World War 2 history.

Blanket Hill Night- September 7, 1756

Pennsylvania in the mid-eighteenth century was a very much different Pennsylvania than today! Most of the population were to be found east of the Allegheny Mountain range. West of the mountain range was forestlands intermingled with native Indian villages. French soldiers were building forts along the Allegheny River to the dismay of the Bristish and colonists of the colony of Pennsylvania. The French and Indian War was reality by the midcentury beginning in 1754 with George Washington’s force firing on some French soldiers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The painting shown above has received much interest on another site, so much so, I decided to give a brief story about the event. However, to tell the Blanket Hill event story there is a need to give a few details as to why it happened.

Pennsylvania, at this time, was an ally with England for it was one of England’s colony and not a state until after the War of Independence. The natives of the village of Kit-Han-ne (Present-day, Kittanning, PA.) The Indians located here were mostly of the Lenni-Lenape tribe commonly referred to as the Delaware. They, because of various reasons, allied themselves with the French cause launching raids into the frontier lands of the colony. Upon hearing of any Delaware Indians close would send settlers in a panic traveling as far as Philadelphia with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The threat of death was real!

Moving ahead to the summer of 1756 another event occurred. The defeat of Fort Granville would lead to the above incident. This fort was located near present-day Lewistown, Pennsylvania. The man-in-charge of the fort was Lieutenant Edward Armstrong. This man would be killed in the attack. Note the name!

The lieutenant’s brother was Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong. This man sought the authorities to launch a raid on the Delaware’s chief village of Kit-Han-Ne. He, obviously, had thoughts of avenging his brother, but, also, wanting to destroy the village, burn their fields and rescue some one hundred prisoners being kept at the village. Some three hundred and seven men began the trek west to accomplish this feat.

Armstrong sent scouts ahead to watch for Indian activity. The scouts found a fire and believed three to four warriors were present. This was on September 7, 1756. The officer placed a Lieutenant James Hogg with twelve men to attack these Indians at dawn. Armstrong continued west towards the Indian town of about six miles away. Horses and baggage were left close to the area, too.

At dawn Hogg’s ordered the attack only to discover there were many more Indians present. A few prisoners gathered at Kit-Han-Ne during the following morning’s attack claimed about twenty-five natives had left the town. No doubt these were the men. The skirmish began!

Lieutenant Hogg’s was wounded twice and would die. Others were killed or wounded. The others took off out of fear leaving their blankets, horses and other gear behind! The battle was a moving skirmish as the Indians searched for the fleeing soldiers. The site became known as “Blanket Hill”. The area is still called this to the day.

My great, great, great grandfather purchased the land in the 1800 era. I was raised a few miles away from the site. I had walked the area in my youth before learning of the actual site of the beginning of the skirmish. In recent years I have hunted and harvested deer with my smoothbore sixty-two caliber and my fifty caliber flintlocks.

The painting depicted above shows four Delaware Indians at the fire the night before the attack at dawn.