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Archive for May, 2011

 

Golden ragwort

   I debated heading to the woods this morning. Instinctively I didn’t have a positive feeling of hearing birds. This stagnant low pressure system has the birds in the area I have been concentrating on gobbling very little. Yesterday, I didn’t go out hunting. Allergies were bothering me and I decided to stay in and work on the Gettysburg painting.

Wet woods!

  However, today the moon and stars were shining as I left the house. At 5:00, the clouds were thickening and at 5:45 A.M. the woods were actually darker than at 5:15 A.M.! I traveled back and forth a hill-top trying to hear a gobble on both sides. I covered a mile while actually traveling only several hundred yards in any given direction.

I did see 3 red fox kits early on and was thrilled to hear two woodcocks in the midst of their mating ritual that consists of interesting flying patterns along with whistling and a “snipe-like” call. I called at a half-dozen strategic areas before deciding to go home and paint. The wet feet by 6:00 just wasn’t cutting it this morning and besides I have painting to do! While in transit, I noticed two gobblers in a pasture field under a tree. They just stood still with heads tucked in during a rain.

   I did see a few minutes of a beautiful sunrise attempt. The filtered sun with dramatic clouds was an impressive view.

My friend , Frank Maus lucked into a gobbling bird on the roost and a harvest. Congrats!  Frank told me he hadn’t heard any gobblers the two previous days. This morning was my first time out to not hear a gobbler. I quit and stopped in  at my mother’s home  for breakfast by 7:30.

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Dogwoods galore!

   My recent routine is to travel through the pre-dawn grays to wait and listen for a gobbler to announce his presence. This morning was no different for I traveled up the hill in an area that just glows. Hundreds and hundreds of dogwood trees dot the landscape with millions and millions of blossoms. Scattered among these trees are many crabapple trees , also, in bloom with pink flowers. Add to this are autumn olive and honeysuckle with their beautiful blossoms. The fragrances are non stop. Savor the moment!

    My earliest remembrance of this area was in the latter 1960s. My dad and I would hunt morels in the adjourning woods. At this time, this area was abandoned pasture lands covered with various vegetation; briars and small trees and saplings. Today, those saplings are trees. I transplanted some wild geraniums from my place to this wooded area.

I walked to within 10 steps of a deer before it noticed me and bolted. I saw 5 deer today. About that same time I heard a gobble two hollows away. I immediately took off in pursuit.

Canada Mayflower

  I crept in close to the still roosted bird. I guess I was no more than 100-130 yards away. The woods was relatively open. I had crept to the same level of him. Things were looking good. Soon I called and was greeted with an answer. I stopped calling and another gobble exploded. I then heard two yelps and two clucks….a hen! I never heard that gobbler again.

Bob's decoy

  I went back across to check out Bob and his experiences. He had seen two deer and a hen turkey approaching his decoy. Around 10:00 I reentered the area where I had heard the gobbler only to tour the country without any response. The birds, no doubt, went well into the posted lands.

Pennsylvania, for the first time has full day gobbler hunting during the last two weeks. This seemed weird as I walked up hill at another site.  I checked out some areas where I had worked or heard gobblers earlier this season. No luck today.

Rufous-sided Towhee

While setting and waiting for a gobble I was fortunate to observe a pileated woodpecker up close and personal. The crow-sized bird was about 15 feet from me pecking on a log and even walking about the ground. The woodpecker flew up to a nearby aspen and I realized that a nest was within a cavity on that tree.

I am assuming that besides hens, the low pressure system that has settled in for a few days may be curtailing gobbling activity. It is supposed to last into Thursday. Maybe my soaked feet are causing the birds to head for other hills. (sarcasm)

Yellow warbler

Other sightings included a red fox kit; ‘possum; several squirrels and a host of warblers and other birdlife. Of course, I will be out again tomorrow!

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Sexton Beetle (Carrion)

  Yesterday I found a tick in the early stage of feeding on me. I eliminated her in a bad way. This brings me joy! This morning I have a welt with a dark center. I will need to monitor this bite for a while. I certainly do not like the idea of Lyme’s Disease.

Strangely enough I have seen ticks far worse than I have this spring. I have quit counting as I approached thirty ticks crawling over my clothes and hands. I eliminate them all!

Bob removed one from his arm prior to the spring gobbler season. He still has a mark too.

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Gobbler sign

   The gobbler wasn’t where I had hoped this morning. In fact, he was across a township road. I headed in his direction, but discovered he was located within posted property. I tried to lure him the 300 yard expense of woodlands to no avail. he headed up and over the hill. I relocated in the area later in the day hoping he would begin calling on his own.

           I did have the opportunity to observe four deer at close range. They were feeding on leaves. One doe lovingly licked the back of one of fawns from last year. My cousin, Donnie told me he found a new-born fawn today. I saw a hen, several squirrels and a grouse today. I, also, saw a red fox puppy!

I searched for some morels for mom while waiting for a turkey to gobble. I ate some of my stash once I returned home. Yummy! 

Rattlesnake Weed

 

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Dogwoods & Crabapples

   The 3/4 mile hike through the pre-dawn woods without use of a flashlight can be quite an experience. i used gas lines for a time prior to exiting diagonally across a hillside to reach a ridge to listen for gobblers. With the time almost at 5:30 A.M. two very distant and muffled gobblers were just audible. I climbed higher when a tom exploded much closer. I hurried towards the sound.

I approached to about 120 yards from the gobbler realizing he was across a small hollow. It would be impossible to get on the same side due to open foliage and timing of the dawn. I played the cards. Two close hen yelps forced me to look the trees over. I failed to locate her before the gobbler flew down.

Baby Chipmunk (notice tick)

  The turkey headed diagonally away from my calls towards a field. WHY?  I can’t answer that! I circled around for Bob has been  watching that field with a decoy. I continued circling and noticed his car wasn’t there so I walked parallel to the field and set up to a still gobbling bird.  He wouldn’t come to me, but I heard another gobbler  from across the road.

I circled more approaching the field from below and set up. My calls were answered and there he was… a big tom turkey! I could easily watch him at about 65 yards. he gobbled and strutted for a time before following a gas line through the woods. I continued circling and calling and listening.

    Finally I set up at a likely place. He was close to me and I feared pushing the distance due to exposure. The bird returned to about 50 yards from me and gobbled and strutted for quite some time. Eventually, he tired and walked on silent. The time was after eight. I know he gobbled over 200 times during this morning’s attempt.

Mayapple blossom

   I walked back to my original place to see if I could stir up any gobblers.

The western sky had been thundering and dark all morning. Prior to 10:00, the skies were darkening over me and thunder was over me too. Then I heard the sound of heard rain coming towards me. Soon I am more soaked than my Gore-Tex covered feet. (That may be a blog topic sometime…the Gore-Tex joke.)

I stopped at my mothers and changed into dry clothes , ate a bit and tormented Bob and her a spell too. All in all, I saw deer, squirrels, one big gobbler, baby chipmunks, and various birds. A great morning indeed!   

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Last evening when I took my springer out to a business call our ferret, Quincy eluded me, passing by the door before the spring pulled it closed.  He is fast and I never saw him. His bell and collar was removed for a bath and he carried it under the bed and Laurie failed to search for it. With Suzie taken care of I jumped in bed. Laurie, began to call for Quincy and he didn’t respond. I grabbed a flashlight and his treat container and went outside. Lucky for me our neighbors were still setting outside their garage, Portia saw me and immediately called to me. Yes, Quincy had just been past them. I found him and lured the little weasel to me with a treat. Thankful the neighbors were out!

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   I was perched at the highest point well before daybreak. The gobblers were, both, opposite this hill today. Both were in inaccessible areas. I checked around and failed to locate any other birds. I went to site where Bob is hunting and after a brief discussion I went onward to call and listen.

Sometime prior to eight o’clock I called ans was answered by a lusty gobble. Unfortunately, for me he came in quick and caught me ill-prepared. he wasn’t overly spooked just aware something wasn’t right. I made a large semi-circle around and below this position an shortly he was gobbling again. The mood was not the mood I was hoping for and he had periods of silence too. I actually laid down for a nap.

Two deer

  Upon awakening I called and a distant gobble was heard. I maneuvered several times  often receiving answers to my calling at distances of as close as eighty yards. The big bird eventually dropped across a ravine into an area with  pines. I actually began to walk and call and the gobbler was going nuts following me but refusing to come back across to me.

I retreated because quitting time was rapidly approaching. I circled and came into the pine area. He would gobble and I would move. Finally, I reached the top of the hill. For what ever reason, the winds picked up around 11:00 and before long the bird was silent. I wondered if the winds had a role with his silence. Could he have seen me during a move?  I doubted that idea.

Bear sign!

  I slowly toured along the ridge calling periodically when I discovered a place where a bear had been sleeping. Now, I am not sure if this happened, but could the bear have winded me during the windy times causing it to leave the bed and walk towards the turkey?  The answer is .. yes! I have been seeing plenty of bear signs on my hunts. I tasted this pile twice and still couldn’t determine what the bear had been eating.

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What a fragrance!

While working the bird my mother called me concerning my uncle. Harold Yount is in the hospital with some potentially serious health issues going on. Also, my aunt, Ethel Burkett fell and is at the hospital too.

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I exited the car very early. As I walked along a rural road I couldn’t help noticing the stars shining brightly. I listened to the peacefulness all around. I could hear the bubbling stream along with a few spring peepers. At 4:45 A.M. I heard a couple of warblers already chirping. All is well with the world at such times.

   I reached the high point and settled in to await any gobbling activity. the noise from the distant highway was now beginning to become noticeable. I tried to take a few photos os the early morning sky without the aid of a tripod. they failed. I am including one photo just for the colors.

I could hear something coming across the forest floor. I imagined a deer but I shortly saw a ‘coon within about ten feet of me. The little guy turned and was almost at my feet when I abruptly jumped.  The ‘coon appeared to be like those Warner brothers cartoon characters trying to get its feet to move. The ‘coon jumped on a tree and climbed to the top…only about 15 feet!  here it stayed.

Gil-obble! to my left and around the round top. I set up and we talked a bit. The gobbler left the roost never to be heard from again. I retreated and began a circle around the round top when I called and was answered down over the back side of this land feature. I closed in and realized where the bird was. I set again and listened to this tom turkey gobble like mad! he was still in the tree when I heard a few hen clucks before silence. he gobbled twice after he left the roost. he two was never to be heard from again.

   I continued on across a hollow when I heard 4 gobbles way across this wood lot in posted property. I closed in towards the property line and called loudly. He never responded. maybe I am using a chicken call instead of a turkey call! I spent two hours in this area.. napping and walking about gathering more morels for a future meal.

As the ten o’clock hour approached I needed I decided to begin a tour backwards to see if any of the other turkeys were ready to gobble on their own and respond to my calling. No luck!

Mr. Toad

I saw  some deer and squirrels, a water snake and a mockingbird too.  My step father, Bob who was on a nearby hill heard one gobbler. My friend Kip Feroce called in and scored this day. You can visit his web site on the right column of my home page. Kip makes some great turkey calls.

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Yesterday evening I had some allergy issues after mowing. Unfortunately, they began reappearing at mid-morning. Today, I finished my mowing, but I took some meds. However, the allergies and meds caused my needs for a nap this afternoon. Maybe age has something to do with napping too.

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This evening I attended The Kittanning Free Methodist Church where I have a small group studying the book of Acts and Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles. I am working at leaving my comfort zone! The church’s web site can be found on the right side of my web and blog too.

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Beautiful country!

  It is a conspiracy I tell you! I went to a different area to check for gobblers this morning. I needed to see some favorite sites again. I heard one gobbler clean across a big hollow and one behind me in posted land. I did see one gobbler far off on reclaimed land. But, let me get back to the conspiracy.

I began walking along when I heard “hello”. I looked back and a woman I know was following me. She said she told her husband someone was walking over on the ridge and came to check out who it is. We talked about ten minutes and we went in different directions. I couldn’t squeeze a gobble out the hills and I decided to head back to my other haunts.

A hint of sun

  I walked up hill and found a pile of hen feathers. A neighbors plane began to circle and circle and circle. He must be getting hours on his plane because he circled for over 1 1/2 hours! The runway is on the next hill. A crew was working along the road at a gas line. They, too were making noise. As I approached the wood lot where a gobbler often hangs out I could hear my farmer friend working his tractor in the fields. I imagined all these people getting together planning these events to hinder my hunting progress. (Just kiddin’) I sat down, called periodically and actually fell asleep for a time.

YUMMY!

   At 10:30, I arose and spotted something I have seen every day this spring while hunting turkeys..morels! I abandoned turkey hunting and spent much time walking about, searching out these delicious mushrooms. I gathered a nice mess to eat. I continued casually looking as I headed back towards the vehicle. At 11;20 I called and was immediately answered by a gobbler. I hastily set up and began trying to coax him up the hill to me. However,there were some nasty green briars to my left. Since the hunt is over at noon I had little time to manuever so I tried my luck at this site. The gobbler came to about 100-125 yards of me and wouldn’t budge another inch by noon. I crept away silently knowing if I would have had more time I could have taken this gobbler.

     My travels covered some beautiful Pennsylvania countryside. We are blessed with Pennsylvania beauty, we all need to just look at it! I found a box turtle shell today. I wondered what caused the turtle’s demise. I heard a woodcock doing its mating flight. I saw some squirrels, a rabbit and a few deer too. I, also, saw my first Baltimore Oriole of the spring today and a Yellow-Breasted Chat. The sounds this fellow make are truly amazing!

Yellow-breasted Chat

  I came home and mowed the grass. Yesterday evening I took my first bike ride of the season. I am slightly sore today because of that ride. This evening, I plan to paint some and rest some more. Afterall I am getting older! Tomorrow is another day in the turkey woods.

                                                              

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Early sunshine

   My step father, Bob went  to the top of the hill via a gas well road this morning. Amazingly, two gobblers were roosted very close to his location. he walked by very close and his car lights would have been seen by the toms. Still, at 5:30 A.M. the two sounded off. Bob, wasn’t sure about their location. He thought they may be across a hollow. he was wrong and walked to them spooking them.

       I located him around 7:00 and he filled me in as to what happened. I suggested we go back and see if they begin to gobble. At 7:40 a lone gobbler began to sing! We moved in the direction and I was disappointed to locate the gobbling bird across the hollow and township road. If I would have been alone I would have circled the bird on the same side.  Bob, at 76, isn’t up to that kind of rapid movement. I elected to attempt calling him across. Silence soon became the norm. I assumed his buddy located him and they became quiet. After 10:00 I tried to shake them up but all was quiet on the western front.

    I spooked a quiet gobbler in the morning. I had heard two very muffled gobbles and tried to move in tight to where I thought the turkey might be. He was still in the tree at 6:30.

I saw squirrels, about 10 deer and a rose-breasted grosbeak  and red-eyed vireo. (Both firsts for the year)I left a rather warm woods close to noon.      

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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My Mom holding Quincy

    Laurie and I spent time with our mothers this Sunday. We both feel blessed to have our mothers around to torment. My mother’s name is Ruth Elizabeth (Yount)(Smail) Miller, now married to Bob Miller. My father passed away in 1999. Laurie’s mother is Anne(Reynaud)  Craft. She was married to Wilbert Craft who passed away in 1995.

We had a nice meal here at home and later went to Laurie’s mothers home where her brothers were present to carry on.

We are thankful and blessed to have our mothers. I, personally, feel fortunate to have been raised in a loving family. A family of imperfection, but with love and a family first mentality. We never lacked of the important things of life.      

My mother-in-law, Ann

Thank you Mom!

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    I chose to go to the state game lands  in hope of seeing and hearing those gobblers again. The rapidly growing grasses were holding much dew. The woods were soaked in with a heavy fog. I was concerned with hunting pressure it being a Saturday, but having less than 5 hours of sleep, the easy walk to listening spot seemed a good idea at the time.

I heard one gobbler twice while listening. Later I saw a hen. I elected to sneak along the hedgerows, mentioned in yesterday’s post, to stop, call and wait. By 7:30, I saw where two individuals had walked through the grass. I decided to go to my usual haunts to see what was going on, but not before speaking for a time with a friend, Vonnie. She was walking the road for exercise.

Garlic mustard- an invasive

  I drove along a road on the backside of a favorite hunting spot and turned onto another road and was pleased to not see any vehicles. I, now, knew that if anybody else was hunting they would be locals. (or ATV drive-ins.)

I walked up a steep gas line and was about to go over onto a plateau when I could see a decoy on the line. I immediately turned around  to walk out and drove to a third place. I did find a lone turkey egg with my exit.

I was walking diagonally towards the top of this area seeing two deer. Shortly, I heard a car door slam and a vehicle exiting a gas line road. Figuring, hunters were behind every tree by now I continued on anyway.

Black Bear!

     Suddenly, I saw some black.. a deep, dark BLACK!  Yes, I was watching a black bear. I managed a couple of photos and turkeys became absent from my mind. The bear turned up the hill. I went in reverse and circled up the hill as fast as my asthma would allow. I crept onward and spotted the moving mass of black again and even closer. Unfortunately, I got few photos, BUT I SAW A BEAR!  I love seeing bear in the wilds!

After an hour of bear huntin’ I came back to the reality of what I originally was out to do and that was turkey hunting.  I chose to do a walk and call method and eventually heard a gobble out the ridge somewhere. I moved tighter and heard one more gobble followed by silence. I left the woods at noon.

Turkey Egg

  I crashed after returning home sleeping over two hours. Must have been tired!

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