Archive for April, 2012

April 28th, 2012 was the first day of the spring gobbler season. Bob, my step father and I drove separately to meet up later. I walked out a ridge to listen.

  The pre-dawn time is a special time of anticipation for the turkey hunter. I heard leaves rustling. I was concerned another hunter may be approaching, but my turn erupted with a loud snort. The deer didn’t like my presence. I would see deer, off and on, throughout the morning. (The red-orange fur color of summer could be viewed on a couple of the deer.)

I could hear two barred owls calling, but they failed to force a gobbler to sound off. The two hunters, using owl calls couldn’t get the tom to announce his presence. But, he began to gobble on his own without the owl calls. I expected the hunters to head towards the gobbling. Another gobbler announced his presence below me and across a hollow. He and I talked occasionally until 7:30. I didn’t go after him for I could hear another hunter using a crow call and I elected to lay low until later.

Wormy Chestnut call by Lonnie Sneed w/cover.

I did see a hen, but I never saw or heard a gobbler after 7:30. Bob and I walked around calling some later on, but, we failed to shock a gobbler into gobbling, too.  

Today, the 30th, found me walking half a mile into the woods. I sat until 6:10 A.M. I heard my first gobble around 6:15 or so. I moved about fifty yards and set up, but the site was less than perfect. I didn’t have any options by this time, but to try to work the turkey. Soon, two gobblers  were calling and working the ridge towards Bob. I walked away from the gobblers only to have one begin gobbling closer to me. I set up again and the gobbler was closing in fast. I began calling and the lustful gobbling was only about fifty yards from  me. he was on an old logging road and the contour of the terrain kept a visual of him impossible.


The bird went silent and I clucked and immediately answered. I could see a gobbler, then two then four coming to me. They were all jakes. ( Less than one year old gobblers.)  Two came within twenty yards of me and , at one point of time, I could have actually taken three birds with one shot! I decided to wait since the season is young. Later, Bob and I came back to try to stir them up. (I still don’t know if there were any longbeards with these young uns. The throaty gobbling sure sounded like a mature bird!)

Home-made Call strikers!

Bob went home and I circled around. I began cutting and was answered by a hen. (Cutting calls are sharp calls often heard by an agitated or excited turkey.) I managed some decent photos of her.


I walked an edge of a field with the thought of entering a pine tree area from a different angle. I peered over a rise in the field and saw a gobbler at about 70 yards. We eye-balled each other for a minute before the big bird went into the pines. He could only see the top of my head.

The morning was rapidly coming towards the noon quitting time. At 11:30, I was heading out only to see two longbeards and a hen. These birds were at the field’s edge too.  I called and was answered. I eased back and waited but the hen left the field followed by her boyfriends.

False Hellebro

I will try again tomorrow. My friends Frankie Maus and Randy Tost, both took gobblers. Congrats guys!  Let’s eat!

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Suzie, my diabetic Springer spaniel, awakened me around four in the morning. Efforts to fall back asleep were futile. I signes an executive order to myself…GET UP and head for the woods!                                                                                                  

   The skies were emmersed with darkened and heavy clouds and a brisk  wind forced me to wish I had worn a little extra clothing.

My walk wasn’t long when I heard that increasingly rare sound of a woodcock “sniping” his mating call.  I miss hearing those call. I stopped to listen as the sky lightened a bit. The bird would ascend making a certain whisting call. Shortly, he would decend making a completelydifferent call until he landed close to begin making the raucous snipe-like call.  On one of his decnds I actually could see him until he was almoost on me. The bird detoured twenty feet, landed and began calling. They are an interesting little bird!

I heard two very distant gobbles as the wind diluted the volume. I approcahed a listening area and failed to hear any gobblers. Maybe the gobbles were absent this morning, or maybe, the lusty calls were out of my hearing.

I enetered a pine area and watched a great-horned owl exit soon to be chased by angry crows. I saw , at least, four different white “flags” of deer in the gray and dismal woodlands. I heard and saw one grouse flying from an old fallen log. I saw a Cooper’s hawk and a red-tailed hawk too.

The dogwood blossoms were early to bloom this spring for the warm weather that had become the norm over March and most of April. The leaves were rapidly emerging too…as are the allegies!

Before the morning was completed I saw four gobblers crossing near to a house. Later, I saw a struuting tom with 4-5 hens. While traveling home I saw three longbeards with one hen. I am wondering if hens are going to be an issue while hunting. You can bet on it!

Virginia Bluebells

Later I took some photos of wildflowers I have growing around my creek area.  The Virginia Bluebells are really out in force as are the Harebell flowers. Tomorrow, Bob Miller (my step-father) and  I will try my luck with gobbler chasing.

Greek valerian (Harebell)

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I love rural roads!

I, once again, headed for Cherry Run to enjoy

Cherry Run

some   quality time with nature. I elected to fish a mile long section of Cherry Run that isn’t stocked with trout.  This decision was made for a couple of reasons. I have many memories of this section as a boy.  My great Uncle Charly Yount and Great Aunt Hazel owned a small farm here. I have memories that I cherish. Oh, how I wish I could spend a day with these two… the salt of the earth!       

A corn field stood here many years ago. Today small trees  cover the field. We would come here for great home-cooked meals. I helped butcher chickens here. My dad and I gathered ice along the creek to make home-made ice cream. These two wonderful people died around 1975. Like I said, I sure would love top spend a day with them again!!


I fished this section as a boy enjoying many hours catching chubs and a few trout. Today, I cast a line into this section maybe eight times. The water was clear and low. I could see no trout, but seriously I just wanted to walk along and remember. I returned to my vehicle by walking higher up the hill through the woods again searching my thoughts.

Dwarf Ginseng

I drove south and parked again. here I could see a couple of brown trout. I caught both and released them. One, however, went belly up so I retreived it and dropped the fish off at my relatives for consumption.

  The weather was rapidly warming as I walked about the steep hill destined for stripping  for coal. I dug up some Hepitica; ferns and Sweet William to replant at home.

Wood Turtle

I managed to see some critters today too! I saw mockingbirds, 1 deer;  a red fox; Wood Turtle (Commonly known as a Land Turtle locally.) three groups of turkeys; squirrels;  pileated woodpecker;  towhees; mallards; wood ducks; geese and many small birds.

Old stone foundation.

As the evening approached I spent two hours riding bike on the Rails To trails from Kittanning, Pennsylvania to Rosston.


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Hen turkey

I didn’t sleep well! Suzie, my 14-year-old springer, needed to go for nature calls twice. Laurie had forgotten to turn her cell off and, for some reason, she had two texts. of course I was wakened both times. (One text was a sale ad and the other was a wrong number!) Unfortunately, when awakened, I have difficulties falling back asleep. This night was no different.

Golden ragwort


Although, I wasn’t very lively, I decided to either fish or hike. The walk took priority. I elected to return to my beloved Cherry Run area to inspect the timbering project and future stripping sites. I walked along Chery Run wich is an approved trout stream. I noticed a few trout left over from the April 14th opener.  I could hear the shrill din of mating toads in a local wetlands too. Always a joy for me, is the sight of spring wildflowers. Today would not be disappointing.

Brown trout

The three or four mile hike covered steep hill, fields and timbering sites. I heard three different gobblers gobbling during the mid-morning hours. I watched a hen walking about unconcerned over my presence. A nest was, no doubt, close.

I could hear a drumming grouse as I approached the summit of one hill. I almost was able to see him on his drumming log prior to the flight.  A few steps farther and the white dancing tail of a deer was viewed through the woodlands.  A hundred yards farther and I witnessed a male sharp-shinned hawk perched on a low tree. I almost was able to get a photo… almost! I saw a mockingbird and a red fox in a field. The fox was carrying something.  I saw a gobbler in a field too.

Red Fox

Pete and Donnie

Eventually, I climbed down the hill to walk a secondary road heading towards the Cherry Run Gun, Rod and Reel Club where I was parked and a member. I was within sight of my vehicle and could see my cousin, Donnie Smail fishing. At that time, another friend drove past and chatted. Our plan was to stand on the bridge and toss rocks near Donnie. Donnie, apparently, smelled mischief and quit fishing. We spent an hour talking and carrying on some!


Last week, on April 12, my step father, Bob and I went for a couple of mile hike. We heard two gobblers and later watched two strutting longbeards with hens. Towards evening, I visited a new acquaintance for a walk. We saw two hens and two deer. While heading home, I saw a small flock of turkeys on the back side of a hill near my  homestead again.

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Wing stretching!

I left later than I would normally to listen for gobblers. However, a walk on a beautiful morning was my primary reason for heading to State Game Lands 247 near Center Hill, Pennsylvania.

I wanted to further test my clothes against ticks too. I had sprayed an ingredient  on them about a month ago and was anxious to see how many ticks would be walking about my clothes. I removed 8 ticks! Not bad since normally I would have killed anywhere from 20 to 30 in that same time frame. Ticks are supposed to die if they are on the sprayed clothes, but I didn’t have the patience. I picked them off and eliminated the little pests!!! many more, apparently, had been repelled  too!

   I approached a pond observing a lone “watch” goose when the gobbling began higher on the hill. The goose was watching for predators since a nest was nearby. I walked up to a field and the gobbler was done talking. Soon, a button buck emerged from the thick multiflora rose brambles offering me a couple of photos. A hen turkey ran from the high grass while watching the deer. She became “unnerved” at my standing. If I would not have stopped to look at the deer, she would have allowed me to walk by.

Ten minutes later while walking along a game land trail, I peered over a rise to see the full fan of a gobbler. I hid and over the next half hour a managed several photos of the “big guy.” He was showing off to a hen. The hen could not have cared less over his strutting for she continued eating.

The photos were difficult to obtain due to foliage from the brambles. eventually, he allowed me a few shots as he exposed his heavy body away from the blurred leaves.

Yesterday, I spent time with family for Easter. Little Kaison Wolfe had a great time as he easter Bunny hid eggs in the yard! he is the grandson of my sister Ruthie married to Tim Wolfe.


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Birch Bear

The painting entitled, “BIRCH BEAR” depicts a bruin peering through a birch setting. The art falls into the autumn season. Hope you like it!

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The Rock River area of Oregon, Illinois was a beautiful sight to behold. the river’s width is wider than the Allegheny River here in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. The overall depth is more in tune with a natural, free-flowing river. Plenty of islands, some of a large size, can be viewed . While I walked about  the Lowden Park and White Rock Parks I could see many paired off Canada Geese. Some nests were discovered too.     

The Castle Rock Park area had high rocky outcrops. One had       steps guesstimated  to be over 500 feet in length to walk to   the top viewing area. here you could look out in both directions of the Rock River. Many vultures were flying about. these rocky areas would provide outstanding nesting sites for the carrion-loving bird.

I understand that “clamming” was popular in the rivers earlier history. Catfishing is still popular.

  North of Oregon, Illinois, on the eastern hillside stands a memorial reaching 48 feet 4 inches towards the sky. The monument built early in the last century depicts the War Chief, Black hawk. Black Hawk was leader of warriors of the Sauk and Fox Indian nations of that area. He led a short-lived rebellion against the white encroachments in 1832. Sadly, the limited resources always lead to the loss of native lands. The white war machine could be kept with supplies and manpower making Indian resistance doomed. this is and has been part of a negative history of America, but this is still our history.

Black Hawk

Visitors can stand at the memorial’s base and look upon the Rock River and see Oregon on the opposite bank. It is quite impressive to stand by and look about.

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Illinois Trip

Ira (Buddy) Yount and my mother, Ruth.

Headed west! Family members and myself left for the 12 hour trip to Illinois. The reasons were varied for the trip. My step father, Bob purchased a 1985 El Camino, that is like new, from some relatives of mine who live in northern Illinois near Oregon. Also, I wanted to see where some of my family had settled 100 years ago. I, also, wanted to see my 96-year-old second cousin Ira Yount (known as Buddy by most.) and his 91-year-old wife Jennie. (Reality is I will, probably, never see them again. They used to come to Pennsylvania when they were younger.)

BRIEF HISTORY: Approximately 100 years ago some of the Yount family brothers migrated to Illinois looking for work. They were Delbert and Ervin.They lived near  the Oregon and DeKalb communities. Buddy was born in 1916 to Ervin and Belle and lives here to this day.

The 1985 El Camino

Rock River at Oregon, Illinois

Uncle Ervin was a magnetic man. People would just gather around him to listen to his stories. He was an avid car and gun collector. (Allen Smail, my father, gave Uncle Ervin an original muzzleloader back in the 1950 era. If my dad would have known how much his son would later enjoy muzzleloaders….)

Windmills in Illinois

I was not thrilled as we entered Illinois. Huge barren looking farms were the norm. Trees and woodlands were scarce. Trees would usually indicate the home areas. Some areas had many of the big wind mills with generators. However, as we approached the community of Oregon things began to change fast. I was seeing woodlands and hills. The Rock river flows through this area. the river is beautiful and looks natural with big and varied islands. I thought I could be happy here!

Black hawk through the trees

Another highlight of the Oregon area is a park featuring a 48.4 foot memorial of War Chief, Black Hawk.  This memorial sets in a wooded area overlooking the Rock River. This Indian lead the Sauk and Fox warriors against the white encroachment upon their lands. Of course, they failed in their attempt. (I will post another site on this soon.)

The long drive was tiring, but I was fortunate to see a number of deer and turkeys. I saw two bald eagles; sandhill cranes; gulls; geese and ducks. I was happy to see some new sights of America. Although ,I wouldn’t want to leave the big hills of Pennsylvania I found it great to see where and how others live.

Rock River

One side story told by Buddy before I close. It seems my great grandparents, John and Susan Yount took a train to Oregon in 1916 to see their new grandson. They purchased a Motel T Ford and drove home to Pittsburgh where he took the Ford over an embankment. My great grandmother reused to ride in the car to Armstrong County. They took a train and had someone drive the car back home.

Buddy, sister Ruthie after a property run

My grandparents, J. Edward and Mary Yount loaded up their five children in the early 1940 era and drove to Oregon. Can you imagine 5 children in a car without air conditioning traveling such a distance? One of those five was my mother Ruth.

Bob and thr gang!

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Lock # 8 looking south.

My friend, Larry Delaney and I planned a hike last week, but the chance of rain forced a “rain check.”However, this morning proved just the opposite with a cloudless blue sky beckoning to be walked in.

Back-water Reflections

The site we chose this fine morning was the Armstrong Rails To Trails area from Mosgrove, Pennsylvania north to Templeton. The morning had a stiff breeze flowing across the river hitting us both in the faces. In a short time, the warmth of the sun cancelled any coolness we felt.

Purple Trillium

As we walked along we were always watchful to seeing wildlife and spring wildflowers. We weren’t disappointed! We passed Lock Number 8 on the Allegheny River along state game lands. The game lands is rich in trilliums, both the white and purple varieties. This specie is a personal favorite. The first three letters of the specie name says much. There are three leaves and three flower petals per stem hence the “TRI”..

Some of the waterfowl we saw along the way were Canada geese, mallards and wood ducks. The woodies were found in back water areas along the Allegheny. A beaver dam helped make the waters higher, but calm. We, also, could see some ducks far off on the river. We suspect either buffleheads, scaups or goldeneyes.

Coltsfoot going to seed!


A couple of early spring vernal ponds were along the trail too. here we could see frog eggs and some small tadpoles already hatching.

Turkey vultures were always viewed. The steep river hills provide great nesting areas for these carrion loving birds. A few gull could be observed flying around the river too.

The highlight for us was the sight of a bald eagle and a mature one at that. The beautiful emerged from the river’s bank and flew across the water. Geese were scolding and the flock of far-off ducks took to the air with the eagle’s sight.I mustered a couple of photos, but unfortunately the quality wasn’t there for a post here.

The beauty of Pennsylvania was all about as we looked at the high country and the river and the flowers. We were blessed!

Cattail Down

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