Archive for October, 2011

     I was hoping to get my step-father, Bob in place for a fall turkey this day. One obstacle we encountered early was the left over snow from Saturday. The remaining snow patches were iced and very crunchy. We tried to stay in the areas melted off when possible. I stopped higher on the hill to listen because of the noise. Within a short time I heard something walking when a buck walked by at about 18 yards. I believe it was a 6-point. 

As dawn lightened the area we proceeded farther down. I heard a little bit of turkey talk and moved in for a break. Apparently I failed for Bob and I set and called for over an hour and did not hear any lost turkey calling. However, we saw two more small buck. I took over 30 photos of the one with most photos being acceptable.          

Big problem was keeping glass fog-free

Small buck

Later we began searching for other turks when I saw one sneaking out ahead. I circled and saw more. I tried for a break and one bird broke away. Later I called this bird in but Bob’s movement while trying to manuever the shotgun spooked the turkey. We remained for a while when a buck was observed coming through the trees. This buck came within 10 yards of us. He was a legal eight point. I didn’t have my camera out of the case due to falling snow from the limbs. The buck when upon us yielded some sad information. He was blind in his left eye. I went for the camera and managed a few shots but the best opportunities had been lost!                          

     We quit hunting a little after 1:00.  I came home and did some yard work. All in all, we saw about 12 turkeys; some squirrels; 4 buck and some doe. We are planning a Wednesday hunt. I removed over 40 ticks again this day. I placed them in a container with Chlorox. However, one was later found beginning to dig into my back after I was home. He, like the others didn’t survive.

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Well friends my painting entitled, “THE WHEATFIELD-WHIRLPOOL OF DEATH” is now ready for purchase. This labor of love is a painting of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at Gettysburg fighting at the area of Gettysburg known as the “Wheatfield”. (Painting can be viewed on my August 25th Blog at www.larrysmailart.com)

If you would like to purchase a print you can contact Robert J. Bowser at:   100yrs2L8@windstream.net or call at: 724-545-1330 or me (Larry Smail) at: lasmail@windstream.net or call at: 724-548-2042.

Options available are:

150th anniversary edition  (signed and numbered) for $150.00. This edition has a hand-drawn Maltese Cross on the margins. The 62nd PVI had the cross on kepies (hats) and/or uniforms.

Regular edition of signed and numbered 450 prints at: $100.00

Artist proof edition of 45 signed and numbered print for $120.00.

Checks can be mailed to: Robert J. Bowser at 144 Presston lane;  Kittanning, PA 16201

Thank you for your support of this project. Proceeds benefit in part: Company D, 62nd PVI Living History Unit;  Sons of Union veterans of the Civil war Camp #43 and the “Rest on Arms” Indiana County Civil war memorial project.

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Wintry Day Afield

    The grassy areas were already white as I drove through the early pre-dawn time heading to pick up Bob and try for turkeys. This first day of the fall turkey season was to be a white one. The woods were draped in snow by the time we entered the woods. We received a good three inches of snow where we hunted.

I heard a few soft yelps around 7:30 and hurried towards the sound. Some of the birds were already on the ground others were still in the trees. I drove them off and a decent break was the result. It wouldn’t be long before  turkey talk was heard down the hill.

I set Bob up and moved to his right  10 yards or so. I expected the action to be fast and it was. The turkeys were sounding with kee-kee and whistles and they were coming in towards me. I held the shotgun ready as the birds closed in. Suddenly, I could hear the yelps of the hen turkey.  As often can happen while calling turkeys the birds were getting together only about 35 yards from me but terrain issues were keeping them from being seen. They moved the other way after the hen came to them.

I backtracked and circled around and walked into the birds. I could have easily shot but I charged them to break up again. I went back and brought Bob up and we settled in. However, the heavy wet snow was beginning to soak in and long waits were not going to happen. I was getting wetter by the minute and colder too. BUT MY FEET WERE DRY AND WARM…no more Gore-Tex and their problems.

Bob and I circled around in the direction where the turkeys seemed to have flown. I saw some scratchings and shortly walked into the gobbler flock of five birds. I charged but couldn’t get a break. I knew waiting to chance these birds would be futile under the circumstances. Wet snow was falling  and wet snow was coming off the trees. Limbs were falling all around too. I thought back of my sister’s first husband who died by a limb striking him in 1987. There was snow and wind on that day too.

      Bob and I went back to the original plan of circling where the flock may have gone. We set up after I was answered by a distant kee-kee. Less than five minutes later a silent turkey came from my right and the 24 yard shot was perfect. 

Bob and I continued on and watched a small buck walk through the pines and later we spooked two birds out of the trees. We decided to circle around where we were at dawn and try to cut tracks. We arrived at car shortly after noon soaked through out.

Once the snow quit falling the snow on the trees and ground melted fast. I avoided carrying my camera this day while in the woods. That was a good decision. All our calls would not work correctly due to moisture. A camera would not have been a good idea. (The photos shown here were taken after the snow had melted quite a bit.)

I will try for a turkey next week with Bob. Wish us luck!       

What a difference in a couple of days!

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     Bob and I walked up the hill in the pre-dawn grays. Recent rains had ceased but the cloud cover still darkened the sky. This changed as the sun came through around midmorning.

Bob, using a .44 magnum elected to watch a field until about 9:30 when he had to leave. He saw 5 deer. My smoothbore “Jeremiah” and I still hadn’t prioritized a desire to connect on a deer. Turkeys and photos were more important.

I listened for turkeys and was blessed to hear a Screech Owl and a Barred Owl too. Always enjoy their eerie wavering call. I had seen various deer by noon including two different buck. Around 11:00 I noticed a deer in the multiflora rose and autumn olive patches. I under estimated the range by, at least, twenty yards.  The deer was about 75 yards. I try to limit my shots with the smoothbore .62 caliber flintlock to 40 yards or less. Anyway, I missed! I spent an hour zigzagging around to ensure my hopes of a miss.      

Small buck at 5 yards

  I crossed a road where I saw other deer including a nicer white-racked buck and turkeys. However, the highlight of the day was while sneaking through a timbered area. I saw a black mass about 40 yards away and knew I was seeing a bear in its bed.  Shortly, the bear caught my scent and got up and soon began walking away. I couldn’t get a photo through the dense brush.

I was debating leaving for the day close to 5:00 was the time and I was tired and hungry. Within sight of my vehicle I could see a feeding deer. The stalk began. I passed up a couple of 50 yard shots waiting for a better one. The one deer became three. When I was about 40 yards from them a fourth deer spotted me and reacted. I hurried a shot from an uncomfortable position and after much searching realized a miss was indeed.                                                            


     I again, began heading towards the vehicle when a deer  stepped out in front of me. I cocked the hammer and lowered the gun. I was chancing this 50 yards shot the way the shooting was going for me this day. The deer back tracked and my exit continued.  Suddenly, that same deer was spotted about 35 yards away in the goldenrods. I instinctively raised and fired. the deer dropped immediately.

I had the deer home and skinned before 7:30. This deer will become steak and burger.

I saw the first juncos (commonly called the snowbirds) this day. Many robins were enjoying eating the grapes and dogwood berries.

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Jeremiah and my "stuff"

Dogwood berries

   Last Monday, October 17th, I spent the day completing various tasks. My step-father, Bob and I hauled a new refrigerator to my basement. Earlier this year our fridge went “kaput”. Laurie and I decided a new one would be of benefit since deer season was upon us and meat storage would be of necessity since I do my on processing.


    The nice warm weather, also, forced me to change the oil in the car. Yard work is always present. I mowed, trim some rhododendron and cut some spent flowers back. Monday evening, however, I decided to take “Jeremiah” for a walk  and a turkey scouting venture come morning. Jeremiah is my .62 caliber smoothbore French Fusil. The flintlock was a custom-made piece and is flawless. The firearm is very dependable.



Pretty colors of autumn

   Tuesday morning began very cloudy and later became sunny, warm and breezy. A saw a number of deer throughout the morning. At one point I found my front sight almost aligned on a deer. Two seconds more and the shot would have been completed. Of course, the deer’s curiosity soon became a concern and two steps placed it’s form among much foliage.

Turkeys seemed everywhere. I heard a little morning chatter followed by the sounds of many feet scratching the leaf litter in search of mast. Two different times I heard the sounds of feeding birds. Several other times I saw birds including gobblers.     

I was edging along crab apples and dogwood trees when a red fox jumped up. The beautifully primed fox went about 25 yards and looked back at me occasionally scratching itself.

My earliest memory of this area was when I was about five or six years old. My father and I searched a ridge for morel mushrooms one spring. The trees, at that time. were huge. Remnants of those monsters are still present here and there. Some of the stumps are around 6 feet across. Of course, they are now badly decayed and a handful of years from now they too will be gone. I, also, remember hearing my first great-horned owl that evening.

I located a chestnut tree growing. Some time ago I would carry chestnuts, hawthorns, etc and plant in places where the sun light could reach the ground. This tree is about three feet high. Few seem to make it when planted like this.

       I saw a lot of squirrels and I hope to take a few more for a fried squirrel meal. I saw a curious groundhog along a trial too.

Rain was being forecasted so I promised Laurie we would go to Butler shopping on Wednesday. Of course, the day was mostly dry but later breezy.

I may try to get out with Bob on Friday and Saturday for some deer hunting. Weather will play a part in that decision for Friday.


I was having an issue with a young raccoon eating my bird seed from my back deck. On several occasions I would peak out to see that critter laying on the deck rail sleeping. After a few “banjee-style” war whoops and chases failed I decided to try a more aggressive approach. The ‘coon would run behind some flowers on the deck. This time I armed myself with a pole and chased and pushed on him. He leaped backwards the 12 feet or so from the deck. I haven’t seen him since!

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Squirrel Season


Witch Hazel

  I woke up to winds on the first day of squirrel, grouse and even ethe early muzzleloading season for deer. There wasn’t any rain so I decided to head out to the woods and witness some nature.           

Aspen leaf

I carried a Remington.22 rifle sling across my shoulder as I worked through the darkness of the pre-morning. I walked about a quarter of a mile into the woods to set down and listen and watch.

The morning proved to be gloomy as I listened for turkey sounds. the winds would definitely be a deterrent to hearing this day. I watched two gray squirrels as they silhouetted themselves against the gray sky.               

Sassafras leaf



  I had several primary reasons to be in the woods this day and squirrel hunting was not one of them. First and foremost I hoped to hear turkeys. I was seeking information as to any possible roosting areas. This reason was realized shortly after 7:00 A.M. when I heard a couple of cuts and later soft yelps.

The second reason to be out was, of course, to witness the colors of the woodlands and see how well the trees and grapes produced fruit. This reason was completed all morning long. The leaves are peaked and quite beautiful despite often heavy cloud cover.

The third reason was to try to get some good photos of deer, etc. This reason didn’t do very well for me.

    I walked about all morning and had 10 squirrel sightings. I was not into a hunting mode yet. Eventually, my hunter instinct took over and a bagged one. After the shot i wished I hadn’t done it, but I cleaned it in Cherry Run and look forward to some fried squirrel soon. I missed two earlier while the dismal grays interfered with my visuals. i just don’t see well in gray days…old age!

I did see 4 deer. One was a buck for sure. I managed several photos, but the blowing leaves often interfered with the subject causing blurriness. Later while traveling home I watched a flock of turkeys fly across a hollow. This is always a great site to see.

     I am not sure if I will hunt deer this week or not. If I can get into the hunter mode I may. Monday, I am getting a new fridge for the basement. Ours had blown up last spring. I know I need to get one to hold deer meat while I butcher and process.

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Cowanshannock Creek

     The waterway is always beautiful. I try to walk the parallel trail or walk along the creek several times a year. Monday, October 10, would, once again, prove to satisfy my need for a nature hike.  

I chose to walk along the creek’s banks as much as possible. The terrain will not easily permit walking at several points. The surrounding slopes are rather steep and choked with rhododendron and hemlock. this makes for difficult travel, however, these conditions allow for the dark green colors to greatly contrast with the waters and autumn foliage.

      Cowanshannock is, of course, an English translation to a Native American name for the stream. The Delaware Indians, more appropriately known as the Lenni-Lenape Tribe. The most well-known years in this area of Pennsylvania occurred during the 18th century. The area I am hiking flows into the mighty Allegheny River.                 

Sycamore Leaf

Big rocks, and plenty of them, create the beauty of this waterway. They abound everywhere. The water surges around and over and under the boulders. The interesting aspect of the rocks is, the fact, that they are found everywhere, but, only for approximately one and a half mile stretch. After one travels this distance the rocks rapidly begin to become fewer in number.

       The creek has many specie of fish. One can easily find trout, bass and suckers here. Other specie swim upstream from the river too.   

A trail follows along the stream for about one mile. This is a great place to hike and observe nature. A well-known local site known as the “Buttermilk Falls” is located on the stream. People like to swing from ropes into the fast and cold waters.  

I saw a few squirrels and kingfisher during the walk.   

Buttermilk Falls

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On Saturday evening, October 1st, I received a call from Lori Harris of the Family life TV Station in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. She and her husband, David Croyle were in need of some music for their Sunday Night Live show. Some phone calls were made and by evening’s end some music would be present for the show. The “band” would consist of Danna Vernon on vocals and her husband, Dick Vernon would play bass guitar. Walt Marr would play drums and I chose to play rhythm, acoustic guitar. We managed to perform a few songs.                                                                                     


  With a warming spell coming on I elected to complete some signing issues at the Kittanning Free Methodist Church.  prior to using adhesive and screws to install the sign I went for a walk on the local state game lands 147. This walk produced one deer and three longbeards. I went in search of a small buck I found last spring, but failed to win out over the multiflora rose brambles that had covered much of te area where the buck had been . I aborted the mission after many gouges on my arms and legs. I eliminated about 8 ticks on this walk.

Bob Miller with .22 rifle

Thursday morning , my step-father, Bob and I went to the Cherry Run Gun, Rod and Reel Club to do some shooting. I chose some back roads to see what wildlife would be visible. We saw some deer  and two flocks of turkeys, one flock consisted of five gobblers. We shot our.22 rifles. I had taken a bad fall and knocked my scope off and wanted to adjust the crosshairs. I had some issues with this process until I realized this scope’s adjustment was not what I thought. I had assumed each click represented 1/4 inch on the target, but my scope” click represented 1/2 inch on the target.  Duh! I, also, shot the 30.06 a few times.                                                                                           

Cherry Run Gun, Rod and Reel Club


Susan Thomas (Belle Boyd)

  Thursday evening, Laurie and I were to attend the “Armstrong County Historical and Genealogical Society” fall dinner.  This was held at the Kittanning Free Methodist Church too. The signing issue was right on time! The guest speaker was Susan G.F. Thomas of Butler. She did a 1st person interpretation of “Belle Boyd-Confederate Spy”. She was dressed in Civil war era clothing along with a southern accent.

     Friday morning , another hike was in the making as I transversed near the Limestone Run area of Armstrong County. The two and half hour walk failed to see any deer or turkeys. However, a few squirrels were viewed.

Commander at Rest

   Saturday afternoon, I dressed and transported the painting, “The WHEATFIELD-WHIRLPOOL OF DEATH”to the Worthington Library. A Civil War informational event was present and approximately 15 people were in attendance to see and hear about what our Armstrong County boys had been involved in during the Civil war.                     

Painting at the 62nd Pennsylvania tent


Today, October 9, Laurie and I attended a Bible Seminar near Duncansville, Pennsylvania. Of course, the weather was beautiful and the leaves were well on their way in color. The speaker at this event was the 84-year-old, Les Feldick, a man I have grown to admire greatly in regards with his Biblical knowledge.

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