Archive for November, 2010

First Day 2010 Deer Season

I reluctantly chose to use my Remington 760 rifle this year. Over the years I have used my flintlock rifles during deer season around 95% of the times out. I enjoy the challenge of hunting as my forefathers did. However, as most hunters know the flintlock does have limitations.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission changed the regulations in the past. The area I hunt, the regs are that the buck has to have, at least, 4 points on one side. That ruling was alright with me since I had become a deer hunter not a buck hunter some time ago. I have received more satisfaction with harvesting a doe with the primitive firearm than harvesting a buck with the rifle.

Last year the regs changed again. The hunter could only hunt buck during the first week and both sexes during the last week.  My tradition had become to hunt buck only the first day and , at least, the first half of the second day. By noon on the second day I would take a doe if an excellent shot was presented. The new changes eliminated that option.

I decided to not handicap myself with the buck only season. Counting  the points accurately is difficult with the naked eye, and an aging one at that! The time trying to use binoculars and moving the flintlock into position is time consuming when a deer may only be viewed for seconds. So out comes the 30:06 rifle!

The Pines... The micro-burst area is towards the viewer's left.

  I sat down to await the dawn when a gobbler exploded his whereabouts from the very same pines I listened at for a few times during the fall season. Later I saw him fly down. I chuckled to myself. The days I listened here were windy and rainy I told myself…trying to justify why I hadn’t heard him then.

I decided to“still hunt” some regardless and walk towards Bob, my step father. (Still Hunting , for non hunting readers, is a style of hunting whereas the hunter takes a few cautious steps and continues to look for any deer detail. If done correctly, one can often walk upon feeding or bedded deer. This method is very gratifying and is my preferred hunting method.)

I hunted only a short distance when I saw a hint of a deer about 40 yards away. I squatted down in preparation. Shortly, I saw a small spike and another illegal-racked buck along with some does. I was, slightly disappointed, when I saw antlers coming up and over the crest of the hill. Nice rack! I tried counting with the eyes, but soon realized I had a chance to move the rifle to my shoulders undetected from all those eyes.

The buck was now behind some limbs. He turned his head and I believed I could count 4 points . I had an opening about the size of a pie-pan when the shot rang out. I knew immediately I had a great shot. The big buck lay 35 yards from where I shot.

The scary aspect of the shot was that I still wondered if I had made an accurate count. What if? I don’t like having those feelings of doubt.

The buck!

 The big deer was huge. The weight was certainly over 200 pounds. The rack sported 8 points. He was originally a ten-point with two broken. The span is 17 inches at the widest area. As is my custom, I spent a few moments in thanks to the majestic creature. I have  much respect for the natural world.  The taking of an animal from the wild should not be done so in a manner of disrespect. Far too may hunters treat the wilds in such a manner!

The drag  out of the woods was tough. I shot this buck in an area where a micro-burst occurred around 6 years ago so plenty of pine tops are scattered about the forest floor.

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A Turkey

After a day at my mother’s place for Thanksgiving, I planned a day in the woods searching out the wild turkey again. Things were looking bleak for me this fall. I passed up several birds so Bob (my step-father) could get his first turkey. I worked hard and walked many miles to find turkeys after that. Fate played it’s hand and caused many things to occur to produce days without a shot. I failed to shoot at flying birds (my own tradition); turkeys went into posted lands; birds flew across a road; I failed to break birds up in order to call them in. The season has been tough on an aging feller!

I went to Cherry Run first to listen for roosting birds in some pines.I hoped they may have roosted in those trees to shelter from the rains and winds.  The entire day would prove to windy. Later I walked about searching for feeding birds to break up. At this site I did not find any turkeys. However, I did see a dandy of a buck chasing does. I saw him twice. His antlers would be at least 18 inches across if not more.

The second place I checked out was where Bob shot his first turkey on November 13th. The area was clean of turkeys except a longbeard that  I spooked. The gobbler was alone and I figured calling him in would be difficult since after 40 minutes of calling the winds had chills forming down my spine.

The third area I went to was my last chance for the day. I saw two other turkey hunters so I crossed the top of the hill and entered some pines on the back side. I didn’t go far when I saw a turkey approximately 120 yards down hill. I peaked around the tree and continued watching. In short order I realized a flock was present. I ditched my orange and placed my hat behind me and tried calling. They seemed uninterested. I knew I needed to try to break them up.

My charge wasn’t very successful due to many tree tops and my fear of going “head over heels.” I wasn’t sure what happened to the turkeys because of brush and terrain, but I sat down to wait. Twenty minutes later I began to call and was answered across the hollow.. across a township road… and in posted property. We carried on a nice communication when the adult hen opened up in the same area. Normally, a hunter would try to run her away, but the posted property would not permit that plan to happen.

A hard-earned turkey!

   Almost an hour had passed with me calling periodically hoping a stray turkey might answer. Suddenly, yelps were heard behind me. I used my voice to call and a turkey came running through the woods towards me. I couldn’t keep the sights on the bird due to speed. AT twelve yards the turkey stopped and a limb was directly in line. She turned and flew away. I couldn’t believe how this season had transpired for me with bad fate.

Shortly, I decided no other birds were around and I moved in the direction the turkey flew. I sat against a tree and began to call. I heard a cluck, then another and close yelps. Using my voice I encouraged the turkey on in finally allowing for a shot. The young hen, almost again, escaped my shot. The brush, terrain and her speed coming in was such that I had one chance only. the time was 2:20 P.M.

I think tomorrow I will rest and paint.   

Another turkey on his childhood tricycle.

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Bruin Watch

  Today is the first day of the Pennsylvania black bear season. I decided to head north to State Game Lands 137 between South Bethlehem and Distant, Pennsylvania. The bear have a lot of great habitat at this area. Multiflora rose and autumn olive make for dense areas. ( I have the thorns embedded in my flesh, as I type, to prove this!) A lone hunter has to rely on a lot of luck to bag a bruin here.

No thorns here!

  I heard some shooting in the distance and, I believe, I heard three shots at the back side of the game lands too. I didn’t see any bear, but I wasn’t really expecting to see any. I follow this annual bear hunt ritual, but I have to admit I don’t put the effort into bear hunting that I should. Once one has taken a bear sometimes the work following the shot dampens the desire to get another. This is difficult to explain to a non-hunter.

I shot a bear in the past and hollered “bear down” and was blessed to have helpers show up over time. Four of us would carry the bear and two others carried the rifles. The terrain wasn’t all that steep, but mountain laurel was abundant making traveling difficult. Thankfully, with permission, another hunter drove through a field  with more help to get the bear out and loaded. I made sure the landowner had a bear roast!

At the game lands I saw deer,  grouse, squirrels, both gray and fox squirrels.  I was entertained watching one fox squirrel winterize the nest. And , guess what… I heard a turkey! The bird looked over a bench and saw my beacon-orange clothing and headed off quickly!

Claw marks.

 The only bear sign I saw were the claw marks on a bee tree.

By the way, the bear mentioned above weighed 235 pounds. The meat was very good. The bear fat fed my birds over a couple of winters  and some went to Indian reenactors to grease down their hair. This makes a very shiny hair. Our Native Americans actually used bear fat for this purpose.

I heard the temperatures are supposed to get into te 60’s on Monday. Sounds like a half day bear hunt for me.

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Cherry Run Watershed

  I felt the need to get away from the noisy areas. I went farther south into the Cherry Run hills and valleys. This is my country. I was raised crawling up and over these hills. I thank my father for introducing the Cherry Run watershed to me early in my life. I think they are beautiful and they are filled with memories.

   I walked non-stop from 6:15 A.M. until  a little after one. I didn’t see a turkey, but that was alright since I had time to reflect on my past once again. Like I said …lots of memories!

I saw   some deer, grouse and squirrels and a bird I do not see often anymore… the woodcock! There used to be  a lot more around, but the habitat they require is becoming increasingly scarce. They need brushy areas and wetland type of habitat.

Cherry Run

  I, also saw a great horned owl and either a coyote or a dull-colored red fox!

Needless to say those high and steep hills had me feeling rather tired by the time I returned home. Awwwwwww the golden years are coming.

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After The Wind

I anxiously walked through the pre-morning darkness to set up and listen for roosting turkeys. Yesterday, November 17th was very windy.Towards 7:00 A.M. I called and heard a distant reply. The problem was I wasn’t sure where. This area is close to SR 422 and the truck noise can be awful, especially for a couple of hours at dawn. Apparently the atmospheric conditions allow the noise to be stronger on certain days. I had been plaqued by this problem at three different sites.  The site where Bob shot his first fall bird is about 1 1/2 miles away too and the noise was bad until mid-morning.

The birds were not very vocal and quit before I wanted them too. I did realise the turkeys were low in the hollow and near a residence.  I began a stalk and call routine across the area prior to making a complete circle when I walked into a flock of birds.  I tried to get a break, but failed to do so. The time was 9:55. This one acre area  had been part of a micro-burst about 6 years ago. The uprooted trees were completely engulfed in briars, of which, I became entangled in. I looked up and witnessed a second flush about 28-30 yards from me. The turks had difficulty getting airborne in the brush and a shot would have been relatively easy. However, my tactics for fall birds are to call them in, so the thought of raising the shotgun to fire never crossed my mind at that time. Later I wished I would have.

Unfortunately, this flush occurred within eye site of  the SR 422 at the Cherry Run and Margaret intersection. t Although the hill-side was about a 1/2 of a mile the terrible noise was deafening this morning! I called loudly whenever a brief (and I mean brief) in the traffic happened. I did this for an hour. I searched about and didn’t see a feather.

A friend said he saw turkeys crossing over 422.

AT noon I left for another site and failed to locate any turkeys.

Critters I had seen this day were many. I saw deer and two bucks. I saw a lot of squirrels. I was w sneaking along when I heard a grouse scolding me. I looked and two grouse were walking about scolding me.

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I entered the darkened woods early and proceeded to hike the half hour walk. I was planning to be set up across a hollow where I hoped the turkeys would be roosting  remembering the birds I saw along the road yesterday. I knew they had to be close.

At the conclusion of  my second series of soft “tree talk”, I heard a cluck exactly where I suspected they might be located. The second series brought more talk and for the next 40 minutes we carried on quite a conversation. The only question for me was would the entire flock cross the hollow and walk to me?

I heard several fly down and I soon came to the realization that they were heading upslope towards the posted property.  I walked the line and saw the flock only to watch them run deeper into the posted property.

I saw a number of deer, several grouse and some squirrels. I saw two buck. One sported a nice size rack. He walked about twenty yards from me and I could not say if he had the amount of points to be considered legal in Pennsylvania.

I quit about 11:15 with my Gore-Tex boots allowing the water to penetrate my feet. I stopped by my mom’s place to see what was going on. I am not sure about hunting  tomorrow. Weather will play a part, but another committment is pulling me away  by 10:30.

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Foggy Morning

   The all-day rain of Sunday (November 14) helped put into place all the requirements for a heavy fog throughout the woods this morning. The fog didn’t lift until after 10:00!  Regardless of the fog, I was perched  along the hill waiting for whatever the natural world had to offer.  I searched hard all day for turkeys. Saturday, while hunting, Bob and I witnessed over 50 turkey sightings. Today …nothing!  Today, I hunted three different areas and didn’t see a bird. I saw deer, grouse and squirrels. Each area was covered with turkey scratchings, but apparently all of the turkeys were in neighboring acreage on this day. I heard one cackle across a road behing an eight foot high fence.

The last site I elected to check out proved to be a fruitless adventure too. That is until, I started home along the road. I made a turn on the road and, you guessed it…TURKEYS! I drove up to them before they finally took to the air. I am considering hunting there tomorrow depending on the rain factor. The only negative element is the birds entered a posted property. The area I had just left borders that property. Maybe, they would have had time to roost along the property’s border. Last year, I called to some roosting birds in this area and called the flock in…… could I be lucky again??


  I thought a photo of Susie would be nice…Talk about a “dog’s life”. I included this photo although it has nothing to do with the theme, but hey…it is my blog and I can do whatever I wish!  Right?

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Bob, my step-father, and I slowly walked along the right-of-way as the dawning light from the east intensified by the second.  I had heard birds on the roost in this area on an earlier scouting expedition. I was hoping the turkeys would be repeating that roosting habit this morning.

I continually watched the trees for dark masses. Suddenly, I told Bob to look up there…turkeys in the tree. I told Bob to wait while I tried to get above them and break the flock up. The birds had other plans when suddenly birds took to the air with me shouting and running towards them. I didn’t go far up the hill before the asthma took control and locked up my chest.  However, a few birds seemed to break away from the main flock.

We set up and shortly birds were answering my calling.One turkey came at us and at 28 steps saw us and departed. I could have  easily taken the bird, but, my concern was for Bob to get the first turkey. Surprisingly to me, he couldn’t see the turkey. Later, my calling produced answers and rustling leaves. I saw two of these turkeys and Bob saw one. Minutes later all that was heard was silence.

I set Bob down at another site and circled to relocate the birds and corral them towards Bob. My plan worked and Bob missed one. I called in another bird  that remained out of range. I could hear others walking behind me. An hour later Bob missed number two bird!

The turkey patrol continued when I heard a turkey far off. The bird eventually answered my calls and was close. We, hastily, set up and moments later I saw six turkeys feeding in front of me at about the 42 to 45 yard range. They fed and circled, but Bob didn’t see them. I charged and broke the birds up.

Bob and his first fall turkey!

  Bob and I set up near the breakup site and shortly called and received turkey talk in return. The young gobbler walked in and stood looking at twenty yards. Finally, Bob shot and a first fall turkey was on the way to the skillet. The time was 12: 05 P.M.

I congratulated Bob and we set for a short time hoping another would answer my calls. I decided we better take to the road and get the bird cleaned since the temperature was warm.

We had viewed or heard turkeys much of the morning. We saw deer, grouse and squirrels too. The day was perfect… the day was beautiful, the wildlife plentiful and I was blessed to see a man with a smile or two!

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Artifact Display

  Valerie Jack, a teacher for the 8th grade class in Kittanning requested I do a talk on the French & Indian War to her students. Five classes totaling over 100 students spent their history class at the Armstrong County Historical and Genealogy Society Museum. I commend Mrs. Jack for her dedication to teach her students about local history. 

  I dressed up with my 18th century “gear”, carried  along my French Fusil smoothbore flintlock, a tomahawk and other things of interest. The discussion covered the events leading up to the first shots under George Washington and his native allies in southwestern Pennsylvania. We continued on through Braddock’s 1755 defeat near Fort Duquesne. (present-day Pittsburgh) The discussion went on with information concerning why the Delaware (Lenni-Lenape) of Kit-Han-Ne (Present-day Kittanning) allied with the French, their raids, the attack on Fort Granville and Lt. Colonel John Armstrong’s attack on the native village in 1756.

Map of events of that era.

  This brief  “Reader’s Digest” version ended with talks on the smoothbore musket, tomahawk; knives and other native garb of that era.

  The classes were very  attentive and a number of questions were asked. My compliments to the 8th graders and Mrs. Valerie Jack for their interest.

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In Armstrong County (2D Management Unit) turkey hunting will not begin until November 13th. However, further north the season started on November 6th. My good friend, Dana Gould invited me to hunt on property of  friends. One of these friends, Shawn K. was gracious to me. He took some time to show me the procedure and devices to produce a diaphragm turkey call. Very interesting!

 Dana and I arrived in the dark hours. (I woke up at 2:30 A.M.!) We listened and walked in search of the bronze-backed beauties. We failed to find any, however, Dana and I thought we had heard some. After investigation we failed to find any birds. We are not sure as to what was transpiring. We believe we would have been able to find birds if access to adjacent properties was had.

   Many deer were observed throughout the day. I, personally, saw two nice buck with one being exceptional. Dana actually viewed this same buck trying to proceed with his rutting method. (I think you know what I mean.) We heard owls, I later watched one fly from a tree. We found an old gnarled snag and high on a limb was a porcupine. Squirrels were common too.


I wish to thank Dana and Shawn once again for the day…a splendid day indeed! God is good!

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