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Archive for May, 2012

The temperatures were in the upper thirties as I walked  in the pre-dawn lights. A steady breeze was felt throughout the day too. A woodcock doing its mating ritual air dance descended and when the Timberdoodle was only about ten feet from my head spotted me and diverted to land behind me. I would hear several while walking  and later I would see one fly from the ground. (I looked for eggs, but didn’t find any.)

Steep enough for ya?

I heard the gobbler from the last several mornings and I told myself I would NOT be falling for that game this day.  I walked up and over trying to hear a gobbler over the distant road noise which was exceptionally loud this  morning.  I circled back around and I heard a gobbler across the hollow and road. I detoured at an angle hoping to locate and move in prior to his flying from the roost. I failed. I heard a few gobbles while he was on the ground. Soon, I set up and he was silent. I wondered if the turkey could have spotted me in the open woods. Gil-obble-obble! I made one call after hearing him and he was silent . I waited an hour before taking a walk and call tour.

At 9:30 I was heading towards the steep hill country to try to stir-up the gobbler I messed up on yesterday. Cherry Run, although still swift and high was now managable to cross with the aid of a limb working as a third leg. The water was within an inch of going over my high boots. I hurriedly began the climb. I was within twenty yards of reaching a high point when I heard voices to my right.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Reluctantly, I began to climb down the steep hill. I, once again, crossed the waters and looked up a recent right-of-way and could see about 6 workers doing erosion control work. I went back to the original hill to see if the gobbler would answer my calls. he wouldn’t and didn’t and before 11:00 I bumped into him and a hen near a field’s edge.

I saw lots of deer this morning. I  saw warblers and squirrels as usual too.  I know I am getting tired. these aging bones and muscles are crying out for me to either bag a bird or lay down for a day!!!

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Male Scarlet Tanager

My strategy was simple. I would sneak in well into the dark hours and try to get on the back side of this gobbler. he seems to head low and/ go across a road into posted land. I hoped to be between his roosting site and this area. It didn’t work. He was across a road in posted land. Later I would see him walk up the hill in a cow pasture. He is a big bird.  I circled was around the hill and hoped he would enter into the woods. He didn’t and he saw me from the field’s top. I did see a hen too feeding on a gas line.

Calm frog!

I drove south again and tried to cross Cherry Run, but the waters were still way too high and swift. the tree I knew of was washed away. I drove farther down the road and walked up and over the steep hills again. I walked far to an area I wished to go. I approached the flat area of the hill and called . Gil-obble-obble!  I walked up slope farther and he again answered my call. He was close. TOO CLOSE! He came in fast and spotted me before I was set up. I messed up!!!!

Super Redwing!

Later, I saw a gobbler on a right-of-way belly tight on the ground while he preened himself. I believe this was the same gobbler for he showed no interest in my calling now.

I saw a number of deer. I actually spotted one laying down. I could see the reddening deer hair through the green foliage. I saw a woodcock; a grouse and lots of squirrels today too!  There are plenty of warblers darting about from limb to limb. they are difficult taking photos of.

Native Sweet William

The weatherman said that we were to have sun.  We did, but after the daily hunting season was over AND the weatherman said we were to have a very slight chance of a shower. The number was 15%. Well, I can honestly say I found showers at 100% twice. Both times the rains were hard enough and long enough to cause me to get wet!

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  The great-horned owl softly hooted in the hollow behind me. The few minutes of relaxed nodding were appreciated. I was high on the hill in the dark waiting for a gobbler,  hopefully on this same hill. It wasn’t to be!

An orange fungus on a stump

A quarter after five in the morning I hear two far away gobble. I waited awhile to see if any toms were going to say “good mornin’ Larry.”  I trusted my instincts and headed down this hill and across a hollow to the opposite hill. The woods were silent. I called and was answered way into posted lands. I tried to excite the turkey to a point where he would do something the big birds seldom do… come through brushy timbered areas and over 400 yards! He crossed a road and was gone. I did hear one lone gobbler from the same hill. He gobbled only once.

American Redstart- a warbler!

Raging Cherry Run

Frustrated, I drove south deeper into Cherry Run only to find a greatly swollen creek. I couldn’t even begin to wade across. I went farther and went up and over a steep hill to try to locate a gobbler interested in hen calls. Nothing! I did see gobbler tracks in a recently worked field and later watched five jakes. (young gobblers from last spring.)

Turkey eggs

I saw a number of deer, squirrels, a grouse. I found a hen turkey’s nest of nine eggs. The waters along the creek apparently were high enough to, probably, cause her to abandon the nest. Several eggs were broken and outside of the nest. Another was broken ion the nest.

Female redstart

 

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I had a rough early morning. Asthmatic conditions were bothersome and reached a crescendo while driving for the hunt. The coughing became severe enough to cause me to allow some interesting ingredients to flow forth from my lungs. However, the suddenness of this event did not allow me to lower the window completely. Do I need to spell this out?       

Native Columbine

The results of these experiences cause much fatigue for me. However, I was still along the hill’s ridge hoping for the gobbler to sound off! The full moon was shining brightly as I exited the car, but within about 15 minutes the clouds had engulfed the entire sky. I heard three very distant gobbles only. At 6:30, I was gambling in the possible direction.

I was surprised to get a response from my calling. The bird became hot and would gobble up to four times in rapid response. He was very far away. I estimated, at least 400 yards by the volume.  I closed in a little, but decided to not go further since I wasn’t sure of the property lines here. I would try to lure him the distance. This didn’t work and he soon lost his “mo-jo”.

I toured the area across the road and failed to get any responses.  I decided to go elsewhere. A change might do me good.

Star of Bethlehem

I drove about a mile south and began the walk up steep hills in muggy weather.  Then I heard it… a gobble! I circled around and called . Soon I could see a gobbler walking a gas line right-of-way. I called and he came to about 45 yards and I could not see any beard! I walked over a crest and thunder caused him to yelp and gobble. I set there getting very soaked as I watched this bird again. Funny, no beard grew in those few minutes.  I exited to try to locate another.

During this travel, I found two more box turtles. That would make three for this year! The Baltimore Orioles are back and I saw my first hummingbird of the season too.  One reason, why I enjoy the spring gobbler season are the wild flowers!  Hope you enjoy the occasional photos I include within my blog/ kournal site.

I circled back to where I had seen the beardless bird. I walked slowly to the site where I had been earlier and I watched him walk away again. This time he had seen me!

Dandelion Seed Pod

I headed for the car soaked and very hot! I had seen a lot of squirrels today and a number of deer too.  The morning hours, also reminded me of my allergies too. Muffled sneezes occurred throughout the  day .

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Foggy Morning

I was listening intently from a field’s edge. The heavy fog wasn’t causing any slack in “bird music”. The warblers, cardinals and even the blue jays were all in great tune. However, the gobbler music was absent. I slowly walked along listening and even called a few times. NOTHING!

I walked back towards the car to see if any other hunters were around and I couldn’t see any cars . Just then I heard it… a gobble!  I heard the second and the bird was across the road on a familiar point. I circled his position to eliminate any chance of him seeing my approach from below. The big bird was silent.

Crow in the fog

I, once again, circled further around and heard him gobbling once more  but the gobble was muffled.  I set up along the hill’s ridge and I never heard another “peep” from him. Turkeys are known for such behavior. I sensed he was “henned up” again.

After a spell I crossed the road again and began a short tour around the hill to try to stir up a gobbler with loud calls. The morning was quiet.   

I saw three deer; some squirrels; heard grouse drumming on his log; pileated woodpecker; ‘coon and a hen turkey. I quit early for I had to play gospel music later on near the community of Corsica in Clarion County, Pennsylvania. And I had some chores around the house to do too.

I have been having difficulties placing photos on my journal/ blog site here. Please, bear with me until repairs are made.

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For a Mother’s day and a Father’s day surprise, Laurie and I bought tickets to see a trio of country musicians and singers known as “Branson On The Road”. Mom and Bob watch them faithfully on the television. Boy, were we happy we did. They couldn’t have enjoyed a concert anymore!

To make this event happen, I hunted close home at a local state game lands.

 

View from game lands

I walked along a ridge to listen and heard one gobbler far off and across the road. A second gobbler announced his presence exactly where I had figured he might be. I closed in and set up along a game land trail. I couldn’t risk getting into the woods where I would like to be. Multiflora rose and being highlighted against a lightening sky could spell failure causing the gobbler to see me.

I heard a soft cluck and turned to chase a hen away. She came to my calling and I actually needed to throw a stick to make her leave. She would come back again to check me out.

The gobbler left the roost and became silent. I wondered if the hen went to him. I circled and entered the woods where he had been roosted and changed calls and was immediately answered. I crept cautiously and called and  the gobbling began in earnest. He was becoming hot!                   

At, no more than fifty yards, I hoped he might eventually walk through the lower canopy back to me. He refused! Two things occurred that lessened his gobbling dramatically.  Another hunter could be heard coming towards us. I know he could hear us both, but he kept sneaking along. This concerned me from a safety aspect too. The second thing that may have helped the gobbler to lose his enthusim was a hen walked in behind me and then flew to him. The gobbling ceased, but after 15 minutes, I called and he, once again, gobbled back.

I circled again and returned towards him and the bird gobbled. My time was becoming short. Suddenly, as the gobbler, was about 150 yards from me, my cell phone went off. I quickly answered and whispered. My cousin, Donnie Smail, thought I had called. We quickly hung up.

Silence was the rule and was getting concerned, but when I called again the bird was now only about 50 yards from me. I strained to see movement, but couldn’t see well because of the lower canopy again.

That would be the last gobble I heard from him and after a wait,I had to leave.

I had seen about 6 squirrels this morning, a deer, first catbirds of the season and a mallard throughout the morning.

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The skies were illuminated often and the rumbles of thunder were prevalent as I trekked up the slope to where I hoped to hear a gobbler. This was May 3. The lessening rains began to become stronger and I wondered how nuts one needs to be to be stumbling around in such conditions. My woodcock friend from an earlier morning didn’t seem to care about the weather. Shortly, the warblers and cardinals too would be singing.

I reached the road and the rains lessened again. Back up the hill once again for me. I reached the top ans settled on a stump when I heard two gobbles across the big hollow..across the road .. and high on that hill. Off I go!

Of course, once I reached the area I believed the gobblers were all I heard was silence. I approached a field and waited. Here I saw two deer and watched a hen turkey feed for over an hour. I was blessed to watch a brown thrasher and towhees in and around the vegetation.

I made a circle, all the while  calling  and failed to stir up any gobblers. Where were they? I was walking about near to where the field is when a flock of crows angered by a hawk forced a gobbler to respond. I moved in and later received a gobble to my calling. The time was after 10:00!

I heard the next gobble way down the hill near to the road and all was silent. later, I walked towards my vehicle and could hear people talking. This may be the reason why the bird became so quiet. I left the camera in the car due to threats of rain and I missed some great bird photos!

I stopped at my old homestead to visit. Bob had said earlier I wouldn’t be hunting today. Mom corrected Bob for she knew how her son thinks when spring gobbler hunting is on his mind.

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The gobblers began to shout in an enclosed non-huntable area. A third gobblers sounded off one time and I began heading downslope when a fourth tom began about 100 yards from me along a round top. I quickly circled around and set up above him. he left his roost and gobbled occasionally. AT one point, he was only about 40-50 yards from me, but the multiflora rose patches always keep the bird from coming to my calling.  This particular area has had similar scenarios in the past with gobblers within range, but with my inability to see them. The birds eventually tire and exit the round top.

Multiflora rose…ouch!

 

I started to circle him as the bird crossed a hollow and went up and over the next ridge. BAM!!! Turkey hunters always hate to hear shots that are not their own!

I started the return trip and could see a gobbler and hen way across a hollow in a field. This is another difficult place to hunt them. I elected to go back to the areas I had been hunting. I saw a buck and three other deer, some squirrels , grouse and rose-breasted grosbeaks.

I exited the car and immediately heard a gobble way across the hollow. I took off! I cautiously approached the area where the gobbling was and failed to hear anymore. I called and nothing! I slowly walked along the ridge calling and found very fresh bear sign. I wonder if the bear scared the gobbler???? I saw a jake walk across a field later on before quitting for the morning.

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I was setting along a tree by 5:20 A.M. My plan was to be situated near to where the gobblers were roosted yesterday. The open woods and skylighted eastern sky make getting to them next to impossible with the trees having little foliage yet.

My approach was flawless and practically silent. I chose a tree to wait and then the rains and breezy conditions happened. I would soon be rather wet! To make matters worse those pesky gobblers were not there this morning. I waited to 6:20 or so before exiting in hopes of locating another turkey before they became silent.

I walked back towards the road and realized Bob wasn’t out this morning. Suddenly, I heard it!  A distant gobbler. I heard two more gobblers across the road and at the top of the next hill. Off I went!~

Box Turtle

Of course, by the time I reached the hilltop the gobbler was long silent. I greeted the day with a box turtle. I don’t consider the spring gobbler season unless I see a box turtle. He posed quite nicely for a couple of photos.

I circled back across the road to check a field and located the landowner’s son. He told me he had seen a gobbler exit the woodlands. He called and was greeted by a gobble and then the bird went back into the woods. TURKEYS!!!

Fire Pink

I circled again calling and listening and eventually returned to the hilltop where I had heard the gobbler earlier.I fell asleep. My June allergies are early this spring and one condition is fatigue. At around 10:35 I heard a shot that seemed to be at the field I mentioned earlier.

I exited the woods around 11:30, finally dry and very warm! I saw over eight squirrels, one hen turkey and two deer today. A highlight for me was the sighting of the Black & White Warbler. This little bird receives its name because it is actually stripped in black and white markings. It is quite an attractive little fellow.

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