Archive for September, 2011

Pennsylvania Elk Country


Pennsylvania Elk Country

   Friday, September 30, was spent in the elk areas of Pennsylvania. We occupied the various roads and sites in the Bennezette area of Elk County. Laurie and I introduced two friends of ours to the elk country. Neither had been north to see the elk before and we had hoped for a decent weather day and , at least, a few elk sightings.                                  

The smallest rack we saw


The trip to elk country is a couple of hours of driving. We were noticing the advancement of leaf colors and were fortunate to see a couple of small flocks of turkeys.


    The more pronounced height of the hills are always a thrill for me to see. I should have deported myself to Elk, Potter, cameron or Clinton Counties in my youth since I enjoy the vastness of the woodland areas. This part of Pennsylvania makes my native Armstrong County appear very lacking in the wildness I enjoy. Armstrong is highly developed with few “big” areas of woodlands. Much land division has created small woodland sites.                                          

Our morning travels failed to yield any elk sightings. We traveled to the Elk Vistor center and spent some time observing what they had to see.

We settled in for lunch at the Bennezette restuarant before heading back up over the hill hoping for a change in our luck. And a change we witnessed indeed!

    Elk began to show themselves and the bugling became very prevelant too.  We walked about various roadways listening and locating elk everywhere! One large bull had over 20 elk in it’s harem. Some were calves of the year too.

One very large-antlered bull was laying in a field. I wondered if  this bull was either injured from fighting or just played out since the rutting season is now in full swing!

The day turned rather well with some sunshine and dramatic cloud cover. The winds were strong making for movement of the camera. (I should use a tripod more than I do.) I wondered what may have triggered the sudden elk movement. I believe the incoming rain may have had a part in this sudden change in behavior for while in transit back home we began noticing rain.                                  

Puff Balls


Another beauty!

  All and all, we had some great times. We saw a lot of elk, (including at least large bulls) some turkeys and some deer. And like I said I was able to return to the country I admire so much.

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    Last Wednesday, I was to help my cousin, Donny with a task of netting numerous goldfish from his landscaping pond. The pond is five feet in the center and around 12 feet long and 6 feet in width. The pond features water lilies and water iris plants. The net we were to try was a 6 feet by 4 feet  net with strings attached. Needless to say all attempts failed to catch any of the 2-3  inch long goldfish.  A number of unforeseen obstacles occurred allowing the fish to avoid capture. Donnie said he is going to drain the water!  

   Gobblers!  Anyway, I covered some back country roads en route to mu cousin’s home and saw a number of deer and turkeys. I actually saw some longbeards in a field. Later, I hiked at a local state game lands. Wildflowers are everywhere!                                                              

Behind the house a saw a fairly nice buck and a flock of 18-22 turkeys feeding on grasshoppers.

With the autumn season in the early stage the flowering will soon be over until next spring. Some of the flowers I noticed were: the New England Aster; Ironweed; Queen Anne’s Lace; goldenrod; White Snakeroot; Pennsylvania Smartweed…

New England Aster

  I have many of the New England Aster growing along my creek. They are a pastel blue in color and are quite numerous. They reach over 6 feet in optimum conditions.           


The foxtail is a valuable grass. This plant is not a wildflower, but I decided to take a photo anyway. In my youth, one could walk the corn fields and see foxtail everywhere. The seeds are a favorite food source for many specie of wildlife. I used to hunt doves in such areas.                                                             






Fall wildflowers tend to be predominately whites and yellows to my thoughts. However, the ironweed flowers are a deep pink-purple in color standing out dramatically within the yellows, white, greens  and beige of overgrown areas.

A Goldenrod Specie

  Call me weird, but wildflowers are a blessing to me. I enjoy following their progress from late winter to early winter. The annual cycles continue and the flowers are always right on schedule!                           

Pennsylvania Smartweed



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A Couple Of Walks

    Recently, friends Ruthann and Larry along with, wife Laurie and myself visited some property they own near Dayton, Pennsylvania. We hiked in the woods enjoying the cool morning taking some time to watch for any wildlife activity along the way. Although wildlife was scarce on that particular morning we did have an enjoyable time together.          

The primary points of interest were the many varieties of fungi. The recently spell of rains seemed to grant the forest floor with ideal conditions for the growth of these exciting tidbits of nature so often overlooked by the casual hiker. However, we observed many specie with dramatic contrasts of colors and shapes. I would , someday enjoy a through study of this  part of the natural world we live.

After the hike we all sat down in a rural restaurant in Dayton for a hearty breakfast!


Tost Acres

    My friend, Randy Tost suggested we spend some time walking about Tost Acres this fine morning…and quailit time it was! As usual, this gracious man supplied great conversation on many of our most enjoyable topics, mainly nature and wildlife. We discussed habitat improvement possibilities along a recently constructed right-of-way within his borders.

We discussed various tree and shrubs that he may plant to benefit wildlife and diversify the food choices. We saw a couple of deer and a red-tailed hawk while walking about this late summer morn.    

White Snakeroot

Randy and I returned to the house where he checked out my box call collection supplied by mutual friend Kip Feroce of www.ferociouscalls.com . Randy wished to look at the various woods used in the making of Kip’s fine calls. (Kip, if you read this we both believe you should update your web site…just saying!)

Randy and I discussed another project he wished help from me with. However, I am reluctant to write of this project since someone will be receiving a gift later this year!!!

We set awhile talking over various subjects with some refreshing apple cider to cool our throats.

  (We discovered a gobbler feather on the same trail we had earlier walked along…sneaky birds!)

Gobbler breast feather

Thanks Randy for putting up with me from 8:30 A.M. until 12:30! Time always flies during our visits.

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September 11, 2001


My flag proudly waving in the breeze.

     For me, the day was just like so many others on that September morning. I was the sign foreman for the Armstrong County, Pennsylvania  department of transportation. The job of the day was to transport some barricades and signs to a bridge closing site near the small community of Edmon, Pennsylvania. We didn’t know what we would be hearing in a short time.

Bill, the fellow with me in the pick up, was the sign man for the county. Another crew member, Jack was following in another pick up with additional signing.  Bill and I were engaged in our usual chatter for most of the trip to the southern area of the county. Eventually, I reached over and turned the radio on to hear words about a plane striking into the World Trade Tower.

I listened in amazement, thinking how would a plane fly into a building like that. I thought of terrorism, but the thought wasn’t a lingering one at this moment.  Suddenly, words came across of a second plane hitting the second tower! I remember saying, at that time, we are under attack!

We reached the bridge site where the bridge crew was involved in preliminary work. We all listened with disbelief at to what we were hearing. After a time, we unloaded the materials and headed back to Kittanning. Many people were viewing sites on a small television at the county “shed”.  All were silent in unbelief as to what was happening. Of course, by this time the Pentagon had been hit and the Flight 93 plane came down near Shanksville.

The evening proved to be much like the day. I, as well as most Americans, were glued to the television watching intently as intelligence became known.

Today, I watched some television of the history of that tragic day. (Ten Years!) The hurt and tears are still present especially as I watched the terror and pain of those people of that day!

God bless America and forgive us as to how we have allowed this great nation to drift away from our core traditions and beliefs.

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Gettysburg Visit


Sherfy barn and fencing at Emmitsburg Road


63rd PVI Memorial (photo -Slim Bowser)

 Friday, September 2, my friend, Robert “Slim” Bowser and myself headed to that great place known as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The reasons for our visit were varied. We stopped by some businesses to present viewings of the print, “The Wheatfield-Whirlpool of Death”.  We discussed options with a business that specializes in shirts and sweat-shirts. We are waiting for his numbers for production of shirts. (This will take about a week.)

View my ancestor would have seen

   I had the opportunity to meet, and have lunch with, a fine gentleman named Mike Smith. He, like Slim, is a Civil War historian. He portrays General Buford who was engaged in that great conflict of Gettysburg.

One of my personal highlights was visiting and studying the site where my ancestor, Simon Blystone fought  on July 2nd, 1863.  He was with Company G of the 63rd Pennsylvania. For those of you familiar with the battle field  he was west of the Emmitsburg Road and the Peach Orchard and near the Sherfy buildings. Here they erected a breastwork of rail fences for defense. After fierce fighting they were eventually pulled back due to running low of ammunition. This may have been one factor of my ancestor’s life being spared. (He later was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness. See  earlier blogs from around Memorial Day 2011 .)

from the 63rd monument

  Walking around this site just knowing he was there and all those that fought and died is a humbling and emotional  experience for me. (A photo of the Blystone homestead exists. The buildings were in the Cherry Run area of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.)

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