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Archive for April, 2013

Almost!

Pennsylvania in spring

Pennsylvania in spring

Bob and I exchanged our plans and off we went towards our listening posts. I arrived to the top of the hill and settled in for turkey talk. The first gobble was at 5:39 A.M. and across the road below where Bob was stationed. A second bird began gobbling behind me and on the side of the hill facing Bob’s location. I decided to not pursue him and, maybe, something positive would happen for Bob’s benefit.                                                                                     DSC_0021

A third gobbler opened up across the hollow from my site.  I waited a bit to make sure no other birds started gobbling on my side before dropping down the hill and across the creek. I set on a diagonal course towards the gobbling bird. I eventually reached his level and hesitated going any higher on the hill’s side for fear of becoming known. The open woods with a gobbler perched high in a tree may easily be a situation for him to spot my movement especially since I may become high lighted with the eastern sky becoming bright. This decision would prove to be wrong!                                                        DSC_0028

I began calling some and the old boy had my position pinpointed. Now, I had time to study the site. He just might come straight across at my level. The other option presented allowed for him to walk up and enter onto a mowed section of woods bordering a Christmas tree planning area. I knew this would be the most likely scenario, but I feared the above mentioned issues enough to set about thirty yards below. That cut stretch was flat land bordering the slope I was on. The slope was about 40 degrees.

A.J. Cassette slate and striker

A.J. Cassette slate and striker

Silence was heard before another gobble erupted. He was off the roost and working towards the cut area. Should I chance moving? In moments the gobbler was above me and within shotgun range. The gobbler was strutting back and forth and gobbling like crazy! I followed the sounds with the pointed shotgun, but could not get a shot. I could see rose brambles being shaken by the gobbler. Oh, I wish I would have moved up slope more now!

Double action fighting purr call of A.J. Cassette

Double action fighting purr call of A.J. Cassette

After a while the gobbler went silent. Later I crept to the mowed area and could easily see why the bird wouldn’t come down over to me. From his vantage point the brush was way too intense to move through especially when he expected the hen to go to his gobbling. I could have made the flat and not be viewed by the perched gobbler. Now I know! Later, I saw him and a hen feeding on a gas well opening. He gobbled twice at a crow and silence became the norm. I saw another turkey later flying down hill. If I would have been standing I would have been offered a shot. Oh well tomorrow is another day.

I saw some squirrels and deer to round out the morning.

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Light and moderate rain was the norm this morning. The winds were calm, but a dreary sky permeated the woodlands.  I heard my woodcock friend “sniping” in the pre-dawn moments. I waited to see if Bob was showing up to hunt until the last moment. Finally I had to embark the hill!

I sat in wait to see what events would transpire on this second day of the 2013 gobbler season. Warblers began chirping about and the crows opened up with their raucous cawing. A gobbler from across the hollow responded to their noise.  I debated, with his second gobble to cross over. Finally, I decided to go after him  while the grays would help conceal my approach.

I set up approximately 130 yards from the gobbling bird. He, now, was double and triple gobbling. I seduced him with some soft calls and was met with an anxious reply.

The moments crept on when I could hear a dog barking, up the hollow, at a friend’s home. I remembered wondering what made the lab bark.  The tom gobbled a few more times and then silence! I thought something isn’t feeling right with this bird. I waited a bit and called again. SILENCE!  I watched a hen fly from a tree directly above me, but no sounds from the gobbler.

My gut feelings are usually correct. I exited down hill and circled around to the top. I saw two birds and thought I may need to beak them up as a fall hunter might do. I turned and I saw another hunter. I approached him and we chatted and became acquainted. He was a nice fellow and we, both, apologized if we interfered with the hunt. We parted. he remained on the property and I went back across the hollow to seek out other gobblers.

Hindsight has made me believe the tom had seen the hunters approach. he was roosted along the ridge’s edge in trees with little foliage. This may have been the reason he clammed up so quickly. I will never know for sure., but, this is why it is called hunting and not getting. Things happen!

I did see a hen  later. I reached for my camera and realized the memory card was absent. This really bothered me as I walked around the hill calling for turks. I saw two more hens in a field and I had to go home and find that card! (And I did at home!)

I saw some squirrels and had nine deer spotted so the day was still a success. Tomorrow will be another day!

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The sky was perfectly clear with a full moon casting long shadows. My plan of attack on this first morning of the 2013 spring gobbler season was to try to get up on the hill behind a ridge where gobblers often roost. I was surprised to see Bob already parked at 5:30 A.M. We quickly discussed or plans and off I went. I was moving a little later than I had hoped. I was blessed to hear the mating ritual of a woodcock as I climbed the slope.    DSC_0001

The edge of thetop of the hill was in sight when a gobbler thundered from across the hollow. I stopped and thought the bird was below where Bob was going.

My stoppage forced another situation as a turkey erupted from a tree not 40 yards from me. Just my luck I thought. I decided to set a while and I did some turkey yelps earlier than the books say as the hens tend to call later after the gobbling starts.

Wow! Several turkeys began gobbling in sync behind and across another hollow. I imagined these birds may have been jakes from the 2012 hatch. I thought I may as well have some fun regardless and made a move to set directly across from their roosting tree. I estimated the distance to be 150 yards or so. They liked my calling until a real hen could be heard near them. Their enthusiasm waned, but another turkey far from the three could be heard.  I called excitedly and soon realized the bird had left the roost and seemed to be coming down slope towards me. He, soon, gobbled directly below me and I prepared the Remington 870 shotgun for action.

2013 Spring Gobbler

2013 Spring Gobbler

The tom became quiet for quite some time before’ once again, announcing his whereabouts. He was now on the same side of the hill as I was and to my right. I watched for any sign of his approach. He continued to circle me and I maneuvered a spin around the tree to get keep into proper shooting position.

After a time I could see the top of the fanned tail and the shotgun’s sights were aligned. I clucked and the gobbler raised up allowing me to see a beard and take the shot. The twenty-five yard shot dropped the gobbler. The time was 6:45 A.M. I gave thanks for the harvest and prepared the tag.

I met an old high school buddy as I was leaving. Ed Orr was hunting turkeys too. We chatted a bit and I went in search of Bob.

King of the Rock!

King of the Rock!

The temperature was to become warm as I headed down the road towards where my cousin, Donnie hunts. I left a breast feather on his windshield as per our tradition.

The beautiful gobbler was a very nice two-year old bird. His beard was nine inches with 3/4 inch spurs. He weighed in at 21 pounds!

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Love Spring!

I love the spring season.

Beautiful Pennsylvania!

Beautiful Pennsylvania!

DSC_0019     I was enjoying a cool foggy morning at the game lands. The atmosphere created by a fog has always provided me with some feelings in awe.  However, once conditions are met the grays can rapidly dissapate.This was the case this morning. As the time climbed to 9:30 any remnants of fog were practically gone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DSC_0032

I saw two turkeys in the fog. I managed one quick shot. Later I saw a hen and had the privilege to watch her dusting herself  on an old gas well road. I watched her antics for a good five minutes before I decided to proceed with my walk. She quickly spotted my movements and walked away, slightly confused as to how I managed to get so close without her eyes capturing me!

Purple Trillium

Purple Trillium

Nice beard!

Nice beard!

I witnessed two cottontail rabbits and some squirrels too. Approximately 10:30, I was walking a farming road approaching a field when three gobblers came running towards me. I was trapped! the first one spotted me and stopped at attention. the others stopped two and after a couple of minutes the trio exited back in the direction they came.

I walked a woodland area where I had found some morels in the past. I didn’t find any, but to be fair, sometimes I have difficulty concentrating on the ‘rooms with so much to observe.

I saw a turtle’s head peering from a pond and a couple of carp. I might need to go fishing soon for them.                                                 DSC_0018

Dusting hen

Dusting hen

Hen turkey

Hen turkey

Yesterday, April 25th, my step father, Bob and I went for a morning walk. We saw about eight turkeys. Earlier I had seen two strutters and three hens and two deer. Yes, I love spring!

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Morning Mist

Morning Mist

I arrived five minutes later than I had hoped to the site where I elected to listen for gobblers. I opened the door and began gathering my camera and gear when a thunderous gobble erupted about 130 yards from me. I eased the door and walked away and up and over a hill.

Cherry Run

Cherry Run

Early Dogwood blossom

Early Dogwood blossom

I heard another tom farther back from the original. I walked diagonally towards a field where my step-father, Bob likes to hunt. A hen flew from a tree and another third gobbler announced his presence. He was in some pines at the field’s edge.

DSC_0032   I hurriedly checked some distant areas but by 6:15 A.M. the turkey music was over. I left this site and went south to an area where the two Cherry Run streams converge prior to entering Crooked Creek. I saw more deer and a two great blue herons on this jaunt. I was watching a trout swim under a log when a blur of rich brown appeared and just as quickly vanished. the blur was a mink among a fallen tree. The critter suddenly left this fallen tree that was across the creek allowing mr a couple of very quick photos. One doesn’t see many mink in the wild and I felt truly blessed with this sighting.

Mink

Mink

I saw lots of squirrels; about 5-6 different deer and about another eight turkeys throughout the morning. However, they were quiet. I managed some close photos of two longbeards and three jakes, but my aging eyes didn’t allow for much quality. I find myself failing at photos more than I should. The image may appear crisp, but once on the computer they, far too often, are slightly fuzzy.

DSC_0057   The only negative aspect of my woodland jaunts are those deer ticks. I removed 15-18 of the pests from my pants prior to KILLING them! Later, at home, I removed one from my arm and another burn was felt on my leg. I removed another tick from my hide. I HATE TICKS!

The morning was a beautiful one for sure. The wildflowers are emerging at a quickened pace. The wildlife is very active.

Lower Cherry Run Watershed

Lower Cherry Run Watershed

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Spring-like Day!!!

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

The weatherman had, originally, forecasted rain on Wednesday, April 17, and the early skies were gray in a cloud cover. The morning began to open up and blue sky became prominent. The temperature climbed rapidly too.

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

I walked earlier in and around West Kittanning, Pennsylvania before deciding a further woodland jaunt might be required of me. I loaded up with some buckets and a shovel along with a bird house I made recently and the last remaining deer rib cage. (The crows missed their meat supplement during the afternoon.)

I went to a hunting and hiking haunt of mine. here I disposed of the rib cage in the woods so through time it would, once again, become part of nature. I walked up hill to a field and erected the bird box. I circled the ridge top and flushed a hen turkey. I became concerned of chasing her from a nest. I searched about and didn’t discover any eggs. Hen turkeys may abandon a nest prior to incubation. They do not begin to incubate until the entire cutch has been laid over a period of days. I saw two deer here too.

The old building

The old building

I moved deeper south along the Cherry Run Watershed before climbing another long, but gradual climb to the fields on top. I hoped maybe a strutting gobbler may still be out despite the warming day. Another plan of this particular hike was to check for remaining hepatica flowers among a certain slope. This wild flower was blooming at my home. Last spring I removed many of these flowers to transplant prior to a future coal stripping operation. I must have done a complete job since I failed to see any.

Curious deer

Curious deer

I saw five deer on this excursion and later saw two more. Two of these deer spotted me and approached me with their tail hairs flared. This was fine until the breeze suddenly changed towards them…Good bye! One small pond yielded many frogs. I enjoyed watching them for a time. I saw a red-tailed hawk and some vultures and my first of the season spring bird; the Rufous-sided Towhee.

DSC_0024  This morning while going towards my old homestead I saw two separate hens and two very nice gobblers. I was walking along Rupp Run. this is a tributary to Garrett’s Run which,h in turn, flows into the Allegheny River.

Green frog

Green frog

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State Game Lands 105

DSC_0012   On Wednesday, April 3, I was feeling slightly down as dawn made its way into the eastern horizon. I often enjoy hiking and any day when I am not feeling the way I wish a hike just may increase the positives! I prepared for  the day and headed to State game Lands 105. This game lands borders the Allegheny River in Armstrong County. The site has a mix of terrain. The elevations of the hills are steep in many places. The lands, also, feature long finger-ridges!

The frosty morning proved to be a great morn for seeing turkeys. I saw three flocks  while traveling to the game lands. (I didn’t see or hear any turkeys while hiking!)  I could see one strutting longbeard as the sun’s rays caused his feathers to shine in gloss. I stopped and tried for a photo, but the limbs between him and I caused less than perfect photos.                                                              DSC_0013

The hike finally began as I walked a game land road to a finger ridge. I walked the length of this ridge enjoying the beauty of a golden morning. I saw a few deer and some squirrels too.  I circled around and eventually came to the rim of the hill overlooking the beautiful Allegheny River. I watched a turkey vulture soar at treetop level. The bird was turning his head as it circled over me. I believe the vulture was  curious to watch me too.                                                          DSC_0022

At one point on the hike I heard a sound that reminded me of turkey fighting purrs. I searched the open woods and could see nothing in the form of turkeys. the sound increased in volume before I realized the sound was above me. I gazed into the blue sky and could see glimpses of a large gray bird. I believe in the few seconds I observed this bird that it was a sandhill crane….a very rare bird in this area of Pennsylvania. Also, I saw some Canada Geese.

I exited down slope to the river for a few photos before ascending up and over towards the car. I heard one grouse flying through a clear-cut site.

The hike lasted about five hours and I believe 6-7 miles from checking the scale on a topo map.

DSC_0026    Thursday morning, I visited mom and Bob and saw two stutters in a field and stopped at another site to watch some gobblers and hens. I could hear more gobbling out of site! I saw another flock of gobblers below mom’s home and six deer.

Friday and Saturday, workers involved with the West Kittanning Boro spent much time trying to locate shut-off valves from the water source. Mu complaints had finally been heeded due to massive amounts of water from a suspected water line leak. My suspicions proved to be correct as the workers did their jobs. However, they met with problems as is usual. The interesting fact is that I don’t have this water source, but the problems came from a broken underground pipe that ends in my neighbor’s yard!

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