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Archive for October, 2012

I was prepared for rain. All I heard was rain was going to happen! Agreed the morning was dark and gloomy. This was a far-cry from last Wednesday morning as I sat near this spot listening for turkey activity on the roost. Wednesday morning, I heard two great-horned owls, saw plenty of squirrels and six doe. The day was sunny and very warm for late October.

A gray squirrel began scolding in the pre-morning gloom. I threw a couple of sticks at it hoping to shut its mouth. I called a few times imitating an early morning scenario. Suddenly, I heard what I believed was a cluck. A few minutes later I heard a couple of more clucks and took off in the direction hoping to find the turkeys in the tress and break them up to help Bob in the hunt. Bob was stationed higher above me to listen for birds too.                                                                                                                          

As I approached the area where the clucks originated from I heard a series of yelps over the hill’s edge. I circled and heard running turkeys. I quickly ran after them seeing half a dozen taking to the air and running. Then it happened…I fell hard! I felt pain immediately knowing  some injuries were upon this aging frame. I remember saying to myself that, maybe, I am getting too old for this! I located  Bob.

We were planning to set up and I could already hear some turkey calling below us. Soon I heard the sounds of the mother hen. I hated to go down over the slope, but I told Bob I was going to try to spook the hen away. I saw her and she went away. The hunt was looking good for I could hear two young birds doing their kee-kee calls and whistles.

I reached Bob and began calling and that old hen came back doing her assembly calls and in short order the woods was silent of turkey calls. I began to walk across the hollow and circle around to locate them again, but I failed finding them.

I went back to Bob and we began going the opposite way. I saw two turkeys twice in the next hour or so. Later, as I circled again I saw another lone bird. I had a nice seven-point walk to about 15 steps and my camera was not with me for the forecast of rain told me that we should be getting wet by this time. Later, I saw other deer and another buck. Lots of squirrels were to be viewed this morning, I heard two grouse.

By noon, the pains from the early fall were taking their toll on me and I was soon to be heading home. The first day of turkey and I was done by noon. I went home and took a shower and took a pain pill before going to sleep. As I type the forecast is for rain through Thursday with some high winds due to the approach of Hurricane Sandy. A turkey-less year…maybe?                                                                                                             

I am including some photos from Wednesday!

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Two Red Stags!

My step father, Bob Miller had been wanting to do one of these hunts for two years. Well, this was the year!

Bull Elk

We left Sunday afternoon en route to the hunting site near the community of Everett, Pennsylvania. This lodge is located near the Maryland border and features typical Pennsylvania mountain range and terrain. The name of the hunting site is Wilderness Hunting Ranch at: www.thewildernessPA.com

    Neither, Bob or I,  knew what to expect as we entered the beautiful lodge filled with taxidermy mounts. New faces, unknown policies. Only one  other hunter would be hunting on Monday. We liked the idea few would be around.

Monday morning, I was up extra early and walked outside. The brilliance of the night sky was breath-taking! One could see a multitude of stars seldom viewed in Pennsylvania due to atmospheric conditions and lights from development. I stood there gazing and was blessed to see 4-5 shooting stars! Off in the distance the hoots of the Great Horned Owl and a Barred Owl broke the silence a few times. The loud bugles of a mature elk  vibrated the lands.

After a great breakfast, Kevin, Bob and I entered the woods in search of some red stags. Kevin was scheduled to take us into the woods to locate the stags. For those not in the know, the red stag resembles our native elk in many ways. They are smaller in size with ours estimated to be around 450 pounds each. The hair color is a reddish-brown.

The stags, four in all, were soon spotted. They made a retreat past Bob. Bob missed! We searched for sign of a hit and found none. Kevin thought, maybe, we should check Bob’s gun after some questioning. We, checked through several shots at about 70 yards and  found the 30:06 needed some fine tuning, but this would not the time to do so. Bob would need to compensate some possibly in another shot was to happen.

Later, we approached a crest on the hill when suddenly we saw stags moving at extremely close range. One stopped, but because of the contour of the hill, I could see about a third of the stag’s upper body. I quickly aimed, shot and missed. Kevin and I, both thought the stag was hit because of the actions. Bob said he saw ground flying into the air on the hill’s edge immediately in front of the stag. We searched and determined that was a miss too. I was down. Since 1993, when I received this Remington 30:06, I have never missed on two bear and a number of deer. Granted there were years I used the flintlock in place of the rifle. My record was now shot. (Pardon the pun.) My confidence was greatly lessened!

We spent much time walking about. We saw Russian boars; fallow and white-tails and the, earlier mentioned, bull elk. Ravens were very vocal and common.

One happy Bob and his Red Stag

We viewed the stags several more times and missed out on shots. However, sometime during the morning two other stags came into the hunt. Finally, things were coming together. We cautiously approached the stags as Bob moved down slope to gain a position in case they worked past him. A couple did as Bob shot. the stag fell, got up and Bob’s second shot sealed the deal. Bob had a red stag!

I stalked along using trees to try to conceal my approach as much as possible. Shortly, I was in the 75-85 yards range, but the stags seemed to move before I could settle the crosshairs.  Other times trees blocked enough to make for a less than perfect shot. The stags were nervous, but as I waited one moved and allowed his full front quarters to be viewed. My shot was perfect as the big animal moved away about 40 yards and crashed. We couldn’t see him down, but the noise told us what had transpired. We walked back to Bob first and then turned to check for the other stag. We found him down for keeps.

Bob and I with Red Stag

My stag was a 5×4 and Bob’s stag was a 4×4. We stayed at the lodge that night enjoying quality time with those other people there. A group of several men spent their time helping Joe harvest a non-typical buck and a ram. Joe was in a serious car accident and now is paralysed from the waist down. Another hunter came for a Tuesday hunt. He brought his eighty-something year old father to tag along if possible. I told him to cherish his dad! these people we met were all great people. We enjoyed them very much as we spent many hours playing pool and laughing and talking.

We will be going back in a week or so to pick up the butchered and packaged meat

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       See the write-ups under the Latest paintings section at the right of the screen

 

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Non-Hunting Morning

Beech leaves

I just didn’t feel like pursuing deer with my smoothbore because the weather was warming some. Also, the squirrels were safe too. A lot of items on the agenda this past week. Laurie and I took Susie (my Springer Spaniel) to the vet for a look over.  Susie is a few months from becoming 15 years old. She has had diabetes since February 2009. Her sugar reading was 60. That is a long way from 600 when this terrible disease was discovered. The vet said Susie is the exception to the rules. The vast majority of dogs with this ailment never last this amount of time. She is one special little girl to mE!

Other yard keeping chores, a visit and walk at my homestead  and a practice with a gospel band in Butler, also used some of my week up.                                                                   

Cowanshannock Creek Watershed

October 19th, Friday morning was looking like an exceptional morning for a walk and photos. I elected to walk near to Cowanshannock Creek staying, mostly, on a township road or gas well roads. The fog, always makes for great views. This morning would be no different. The Cowanshannock creek watershed held the heavy fog until after 10:00 A.M. It appeared to be a heavy cloud that fell into the hollow and couldn’t ascend!

   As the sun evaporated these clouds the range of leaf colors contrasted nicely. Autumn is a great time to be out and about!

I saw plenty of squirrels and chipmunks gathering acorns. I could have had my limit of six easily, but then I would have to clean them and eat them. Um, maybe that would not have been such a bad thing! Fried squirrel sure is good!

I looked up into a gas line and could see a couple of turkeys backs. they were feeding. I prepared the camera and began a stalk. As the terrain yielded to a slight rise my approach was unviewed until I raised up and began taking photos. The three turkeys weer well into shotgun range and the four quick photos were all the birds allowed as they quickly exited.    

I found some cub bear tracks on a packed area of the road. This cub had to be traveling here recently since we had a lot of rain overnight.  

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Clear Creek Park Adventure

  Saturday, October 13, 2012, found Laurie and I and friends heading to Clear Creek Park in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.The goal of the four of us was to hike the Beartown Rocks  Trail and enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage. We weren’t disappointed with the colored leaves.                                                                                                                          

Laurie packed a picnic lunch and the menfolk carried the “grub” in backpacks. This meal was scheduled to be eaten after we reached the top and the huge rocks. The rocks cover a rather small area when one considers the space on the hill’s top. They’re grandiose to see and climb on.

Some of the trail parallels Clear Creek. This is a clear and spring-fed waterways that yields some trout for anglers to enjoy. Many years ago, my sister’s first husband, Bob Hudson and I spent time camping in the area. We arrived at this stream shortly after an in-season  stocking. We, probably, caught thirty or so trout each that day, We caught and released all our catch except any trout injured due to swallowing the hooks.These trout became a meal. We actually tired of the action! Bob tragically was killed in a tree-cutting job with a gas company in 1987.

Lichen on a spruce limb

Clear Creek

Ruthann & Laurie

The friends we were with this day were Larry and Ruthann D. The hiking trail we used was around 5 miles in estimate. We saw one buck and two doe. Some turkeys were seen too. We saw two nice trout in the waters.

  The forest land consists of white pines, various deciduous tress and, both, mountain laurel and rhododendrens.Many years ago, much of these lands were burnt over with devastating fires. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 0fthe 1930 era did much work to improve the acres after the burn.          

Larry taking a photo!

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A Beautiful Morning

  So many things to do! I gathered up all of the recyclable materials to remove to the local recycling center. In order to not waste a trip out, I elected to go north of the, no longer existing, village of Oscar. There are some nice rural roads to venture along with little traffic.                                                                                                                                                                        

The walk in total length would be, approximately, 6-7 miles. A stiff breeze was felt all morning. this would be the early signs of a cold front scheduled to move through over the weekend. I would stop and listen occasionally to hear the rustling of the leaves due to the breeze. What a relaxing sound!

Feeding Deer

While walking along a gas well road, I noticed several deer feeding on the road’s surface. They were eating beechnuts. I watched them for 10 minutes or so. the mother doe would chase the one young deer at times. eventually, the trio exited up an embankment. I would see them again, but not well enough for any photos. The leaves were much too heavy yet!

I saw a flock of this year’s turkeys. I was fortunate to get a few photos of them before their nerves became rattled. Later, while driving home a saw several gobblers. I stopped , but couldn’t get nothing but a blur in a photo. The gas well road is, almost entirely a gradual grade to the top of the hill. Towards the top I heard two gobbles. They sounded like a mature gobble with a deep full,resonating  sound.

TURKS!

Beechnuts!

Eventually, I reached the top only to turn around and head back. I would exit the road at times and walk the woods. (I killed two ticks only!) I would follow a small stream looking for exceptional photo-taking opportunities. I did, however, find a nice eight-point buck someone had lost.

A groundhog hit with a vehicle was finding out the food chain works in nature. A turkey vulture had found it too and was enjoying a feast. The “buzzards” will soon be drifting off until next March.

Fallen Leaves

Noon time was at hand as I entered the vehicle. I was now sweating from the exertion and rising temperatures. It had been a great morning!                                                                                                                                                    

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The Buttermilk Trail

Cowanshannock Creek

The morning hours were involved with some art projects. Later on I “messed around”with some yard work when I felt the desire to go for a walk. the leaves are rapidly turning colors and a blink or two and they will be brown and covering the woodland’s floor. Yep, a walk was to be!

Buttermilk Falls

I called a friend, Larry Delaney to see if he would be interested in joining me on a hike along Cowanshannock Creek. We would be walking on a Rails to Trails project along the creek. Armed with cameras, we slowly walked the trail looking over the colors and talking Indians and wildlife. We, also, looked with disgust at the vandalizing and trash thrown about. A long section of “sheep fencing”was removed along one section of the trail. I will never understand people!

Using a rock as a tripod!

   Plenty of photos were taken, especially of the locally famous “Buttermilk Falls”. We continued past the end of the trail. I made notice as to how quickly the large stones disappear after we proceeded past the falls. The creek bottom goes abruptly from large, smooth boulders to a flat rock bottom. This stream is a most beautiful section of waters! Hemlocks and rhododenrens border the creek making for a nice contrast with the coloring leaves.

 

Staghorn Sumac in crimsom!

Along the trail, we noticed many acorns and beechnuts. The big trees were producing much this year. Deer and turkey activity was prevalent as the critters enjoyed easy pickin’s!                                    

The walk was, somewhere around 3 miles total. Some of the wildlife viewed were two wood ducks and kingfishers.

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