Archive for December, 2010

A shed

 The weather stations were all stating freezing rain.  Bob and I eventually entered the woods around noon to pursue the white-tail. I was walking along preparing to walk through a pine grove when I glanced down and was surprised to see a “shed” antler. Hunters seem to admire these trophies and instinctively horde them.

I chased deer around for a time, but failed to move any past Bob.  We edged along a field discussing that deer should be moving and feeding when I touched Bob, whispering…deer!

The body of a deer was feeding over a swell in the field. The deer was approximately 40 yards.  Bob squatted and gazed through 2 feet high crabgrass. The shot missed! I heard a crack in the tree line. I trailed the deer over  several hundred yards just to positive the miss call was accurate. It was!

 Later, I walked around an old foundation site. I must be getting old. I have faint memories of being in the old house in my youth. The house, even then,  had long ago been abandoned . Today, all that is present is the stone foundation and some old rusted  farm machinery. 

Old foundation stones

Bob became tired and we called the hunt off after two and a half hours. Bob does great for being 76 years old.

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A Flintlock Hunt

Snow on the ground and deer in the woods makes for some grand opportunities to observe and /or hunt deer. I do not have any deer tags left so my primary reasons to be in the woods this day was to take photos and move some deer around for my step-father Bob and my cousin Donnie Smail.

  Early in the morning we could hear some turkeys across the road yelping and cutting. I pranced around the woods in various thick areas and saw several squirrels and grouse. I saw some deer also.

I came down over one area and could hear turkeys calling out their alarm putts. I immediately assumed the birds had spotted me. I continued to watch and eventually spotted a flock of about 15 turkeys. Suddenly the birds began to run and take to the air. They flew towards me! Some landed in nearby trees for a few seconds before continuing on around the hillside. Throughout the morning I would see remnants of this flock.

I worked around the hill when I saw  the back of a deer for a few seconds. A minute later a shot rang out where Donnie was to be. I hastened my steps towards him. We found hair and twenty yards later some blood. I was walking slightly above Donnie. He said lots of blood. I told him we will find the deer. A minute later I exclaimed, “There it is!”

Donnie with a doe

 The sixty yard shot hit true. The doe went about 60 more yards.  Bob and I hunted until about 1:00 P.M. before going home for some deer burgers.

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CHRISTmas At Home!


Santa Bob

    The 2010 Christmas consisted of  much of the usual traditions and the making of new ones. Laurie, mom, Bob and I attended the Kittanning Free Methodist Church on Christmas Eve for their service. Laurie and I came home for some hot tea and our annual present exchange. We turn the radio on to a station featuring, mostly,  spiritual Christmas music. We enjoy allowing Susie, our Springer Spaniel to open her presents. She, somehow, knows her gifts over ours!  She opened one of her presents twice from under the tree before Laurie had to place them in a closet.     

Susie in action


December 25th, found us all at my mom’s home for Christmas and a great meal too.  Bob, has started a custom of wearing his Christmas shorts and hat. I truly cherish my small family since we have no kids between us. Susie was expected to arrive too. She being almost blind brings us all much joy despite her issue.

  Christmas brings about some somber times to me.  I remember my father and grandparents at this time. Boy, how I miss them all! I, also, ponder much on that event that eventually leads to what we now call Christmas.  I become saddened at how the world, including America, continually push the Messiah  away from all ends. Somehow, I can’t help wondering how long we can endure as we drift farther away.

Ruthie and mom

The family is small. My mother, Bob (my step-father) my sister Ruthie and brother-in-law Tim Wolfe and of course the Laurie and I spent the day together.   

 Merry Christmas to you all!

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The Hawks at Home

As stated in an earlier blog, I always place all remains from my deer and turkey harvest back into nature. I can not casually throw these parts into a dumpster or garbage can. This tradition of mine proves a lot more work and time for me, but I feel this act is part of the respect for the animal I have mentioned in a past blog…nothing wasted!

Everything returns back to the natural world. The parts I place out in the wilds are consumed by predators such as foxes and coyotes to many specie of bird life. Crows, chickadees, woodpeckers, the tufted titmouse, nuthatches and a host of other birds are helped to survive brutal winters by eating the muscle and fat tissue supplied by these parts. Like I said, these all return to nature.

My tradition too is to place the rib cage in the trees around my property. The crows usually discover this food treasure in short order. All the birds listed above enjoy feeding  too. What I enjoy are the hawks. I have watched two red-tailed hawks eating at the rib cages.  (I haven’t been able to get a good photo yet!)

Male Cooper's hawk by my feeder

  I often see the Cooper’s hawk on my property. These fast-fliers take an occasional bird to eat. Although, I do not wish this to happen, I realize the hawk has to kill to eat… a fact of  nature! Whenever, A hawk sighting occurs on the property the area seems 100% void of bird life.  They are hiding motionless among the many limbs of the vegetation I have planted. Sooner or later the hawk flies away and seemingly in an instance the feeders are filled again with activity.

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Deer Hunting

Woodland Snow Scene.

   Bob (my step-father) and I went to the woods today to see if he could harvest a deer. Bob remained stationary to watch as  I walked about armed heavily with a camera. I had 22 deer sightings by 10:00 A.M.! I saw one decent-sized buck. Few of these moved deer went towards Bob. Two doe did come up a hollow. One deer stopped behind a tree and while Bob leveled the scope on it waiting to see the front shoulders a lifeflight helicopter flew over low. (We later learned of an accident near Elderton, Pennsylvania.)

Later on in the morning we crept along a right-of-way peering for another doe we had seen going in that direction. Suddenly, I tapped Bob pointing over the embankment. I could see feeding deer, in fact, there were five deer feeding along.

Bob, excitedly, prepared for a possible shot. Finally, one deer exposed it’s body from among the brush and Bob fired. From my position, slightly behind, I thought I noticed a flinch. I could only see the back of the deer.  Of course, chaos erupted with deer movement all about! Two deer came up to our right and Bob fired again. I hurried along the right-of-way to see a single deer cross. I surmised the other deer was down.

We surveyed the lower woods and saw nothing. I went over the embankment and shortly saw blood.  I came back up over and looked down and within feet of us lay the doe along the ditch-line.

Bob and his doe.

  Bob tagged and field-dressed the deer. I took photos. He stated that he wasn’t entirely sure if this deer was the same one he initially shot at. A “red-flag” immediately blew in the wind. I said I better walk back and check around.  I found sign of a hit and later saw the deer about 100 yards downslope watching me.

I went back and told Bob what was transpiring. I knew I had  to use my unused antlerless tag. I wasn’t hunting with a firearm. (I was waiting for flintlock season to use the tag.) I grabbed his 30:06 and placed one shell in the chamber and crept back to where I saw the deer. I placed the rifle against a tree and took careful aim and shot the wounded deer.

One needs to always do what is right when hunting. The hunt was unfortunate, but in those minutes after the initial shot much confusion happened. Bob, was troubled with the experience and I worked to comfort him. It all worked out. I will be canning more deer and stocking up for the bad times ahead.

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Turkey Scratchin's!

I have been a busy little fellow. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday of last week butchering the buck. I made sixteen pounds of burger; canned 35 jars of venison; made jerky; cut steaks; and sliced some thin “steak-um like strips of meat.  My butchering influence stems from my grandfather. In my youth, I enjoyed going to his butcher shop. Man…I miss him!

Bob, as the Great Pumpkin!

  On Saturday, I took my step-father, Bob hunting deer. I told him where he should go and watch during the early hours. I went along in another direction seeking bedded or feeding deer. I hadn’t gone far when I heard the rustling leaves and watched a feeding deer below me. I made a sneak from the site and located Bob. We quietly approached the site and the deer was absent. I eased along a gas well road when I spotted three deer in a thicket. I motioned for Bob and he came to me. One deer walked away and directly below our position.  In the minutes following, Bob missed!

Storm site where I shot the buck.

   I continued hunting with my camera. I saw four turkeys; squirrels and a grouse. I, also, saw a number of deer during my trek around attempting to move a doe past Bob. I did see a nice buck, but I couldn’t get a good photot due to brush and trees. Imagine trees and limbs in a woods!

We didn’t hunt the entire day. Bob failed to see many deer, but he seemed to enjoy our day afield.


Sunday, December 5, the family all got together to celebrate my mother’s 81st birthday. Her birthday is actually December 6th, but we decided that Sunday,  would work out better for all. We went out to eat and later filled up even more with birthday cake! My mother, Ruth (Smail) Miller is in remarkable shape. We all tease her a lot, sometimes, probably,  too much.


I spent the day finishing up my fourth painting depicting furbearers of Pennsylvania. The bobcat completed this series. The other three animals are: Muskrat; Raccoon; and a grey fox. Photos pending!

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