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Archive for May, 2016

DSC_0001 Allen K. Smail June 4, 1923 to June 20, 1999. My dad was setting in his car when he had heard of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941. He was drafted in 1942. He was in the European theater returning home in the fall of 1945. I am very proud, and respectful of my dad for I am what I am because of all his efforts to teach me to respect the flag; honor the military, and to never forget what those brave men, and women did to preserve America. I hope America will be able to come through the events happening today.

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Columbine- A native wildflower.

Columbine- A native wildflower.

These last three days of turkey hunting had witnessed some high temperatures, and increasing humidity. I don’t care for such conditions, but I did get out to hunt for a little bit.

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Common Fleabane

Thursday, May 26th, I already knew I wasn’t hunting for long. My mother, step-father, Bob, and sister, Ruthie were going to have breakfast. I told mom I would be back early unless I was working a gobbler. I heard a distant gobbler open up at 5:15 A.M. He was a hot bird gobbling for forty minutes. I feared traveling the distance, electing to hope a gobbler was just below me. He wasn’t! I heard another tom across the hollow where I was setting. I heard a turkey fly down right beside me. It was a hen.

Friday, May 27th, found me setting in the dark, once again, hoping the gobbler chose this site for his roosting area. I heard the gobbler from over a half mile on the roost. He only gobbled twice that I could hear. However, a closer bird exploded with a few spaced gobbles. I moved in on this bird after waiting until six. I worked around the hill hoping he would gobble again so I could determine his approximate location. He did! Unfortunately he was farther that I thought. I circled around to try to get above him.

DSC_0004 Once on top the bird was silent. I called  hoping to get a response. I decided since it is early to try another place. I thought I heard a response to my call once I arrived. I set up and waited for a time and heard nothing else. Too hot so I elected to quit. I could see a tom with two hens in a field.

Golden Ragwort

Golden Ragwort

I called as I removed myself from the hill. I heard hen chatter above me and called in a lone hen.

This morning, May 28th, I was setting  at the same place to listen. I heard the distant gobbler a few times. I was thinking about a strategy when I heard a gobble across the hollow again. I moved fast this time. The old leg wasn’t feeling all that bad this day. I was on top of the hill listening when the bird gobbled way low below me. I moved in as the bird was moving, too. By the time I got close and had a response I realized the turkeys were very low  near where two township roads intersect with a state road. What to do?

 

Blue Flag (Iris)

Blue Flag (Iris)

I knew the residences were around these birds. I tried to entice them back up over, but they ended up crossing the intersection settling along Cherry Run. I gave up on the birds.  I tried to stir up the earlier gobbler, but he wouldn’t budge.

I was walking along the road when a local Wildlife Conservation Officer stopped by. We chatted, and he checked my license and recognized my name. We talked some more. I decided to call it a day. Pretty Darn Hot! Besides I had to prepare to play music later today in Butler, PA.

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Maiden Hair Fern

I was set up above where the gobbler had been roosting. Now I waited! A buck walked to me. He was two steps away before he sensed something was amiss. I could have touched him with the shotgun. He ran fifteen yards downhill, and snorted for a couple of minutes.

I heard a distant gobble. I waited! Gil-obble-obble-obble, and he was about a hundred yards below me. Great I thought to myself. The bird is roosting close by. I have a grassy gas line running diagonally past me. An open field is directly behind me, and that is where he will most likely head once he flies down. I waited.

I heard a gobbler to my right, but far across the road. Then I heard the soft yelps of a hen from exactly where the gobbler is roosting. I knew this could become an issue. I still had a lot of positives in my favor. I called  with soft yelps. Later, I used some clucks. They knew where I was. I quit calling.                             DSC_0003

A second issue was becoming a problem. The gobbler from across the road was now on my side of the hill. He was heading towards the field. The birds below me went silent. I pondered what might be going on. I didn’t hear the two turkeys fly down, but they had left their roosts, and he was, now,  gobbling towards the other gobbler.  Silence until I heard them all in the field. I was done! I have never ever been able to do anything with turkeys in this field. It is complicated, so I will not detail as to why this field is such a problem.

DSC_0001  I later saw gobblers, and hens in the field. I went to another place, and made a tour around the hill. No gobbling. I did see a woodcock.

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DSC_0001  I heard the gobble clear across the hollow again! Off I went as fast as I could go. However, that isn’t as fast as I used to be.

My only option was to hurry and try to get around his roosting spot and work above . I needed to work through some down tree tops where I hurt my knee slightly while twisting among that mess. A crew of workers expanded a right of way. Their job was to cut down the trees. The trees were still covering these sites. This aids in slowing me down.

I managed to get above where the birds were, but they had already flown down. I spotted two gobblers in a very big field. I knew from past experiences here that these birds would be difficult to work. I was correct. They get high on the field’s contour where they can see all around. They eventually walked out of view, and I tried a couple of tactics , but I could not find where the birds went. I believe they moved towards some buildings farther back.

DSC_0005  I quit about eight o’clock this morning.  I had some pain, and I was already becoming warm. Tomorrow, I am planning on being above these birds! I hope they roost in the same place tonight.

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DSC_0037  I was high on the hill by 5:15 A.M. listening as intently as I could for that first gobble. The atmospheric conditions caused the road noise to be extra loud as I strained my ear drums!  The highway is about one mile away, but the trucks  sounded way too close.   DSC_0043

I heard a far off gobble south of my listening position. I circled around hoping to hear other gobbles. I knew the gobbler would be in lands that I do not know the landowners. However, I walked to the property line just to listen to the tom gobbling a lot.

I went about two miles father south, and walked a reclaimed strip to get to the top of one of the higher elevations. I was soaked from mid-thigh down! The water wicked down my pants to my socks as well. A heavy fog enveloped the area until about nine o’clock. I hoped things would change in regards to turkey hunting. The full moon phase was worrisome to me. I heard nothing here. I circled the woodlands calling, and listening for that elusive gobbles. Two dogs came through the woods barking at me.      DSC_0041

DSC_0048 I came through the woods back to the reclaimed strip when I saw two gobblers way across the hollow. they were feeding at the woods edge of the reclaimed strip on the other hill. I went to the jeep, and drove to a closer park.

I circled around where I watched the two birds enter the woods. I called periodically and maneuvered around and I could not muster any turkey sounds from the birds. I felt they had to hear me. the time was almost noon when I left to hit another hill. The area was very quiet and I could have heard gobblers from far off. They are not enthused at all.

 

Shed Black Snake skin.

Shed Black Snake skin.

I walked up a steep hill and made a circle along a ridge calling, and hoping to hear anything pertaining to a turkey. Nothing! I returned to the jeep at almost 1:30.                                             DSC_0045

Detail of snake shed

Detail of snake shed

I saw plenty of deer; squirrels, a rabbit and countless warblers, but couldn’t hear a turkey.  A few other friends are experiencing similar activity.

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DSC_0059  Wednesday I left the house about noon to take a turkey calling trek at a local game lands. I still find hunting in the afternoon slightly weird. I’ll get used to it I am sure. The weather produced rain in the morning.   DSC_0056

I began working along a food plot area calling, and hoping a gobbler would answer. I circled a bend in the field only to see a turkey run off. Gobbler? I can’t say. If this was a gobbler he didn’t respond to my calling. these are tough times to hunt gobblers. The hunter can never know where he is unless the bird gobbles once in a while.

Mollusks on a bee hive.

Mollusks on a bee hive.

I worked a ridge, dropping downslope and working back. I heard no gobblers. I did see two opossums in the forest. I hunted for one and a half hours.

 

Fox Squirrel

Fox Squirrel

The next morning (Thursday) found me high at a listening point. I heard the gobbler clear across the big hollow. Off I went to try to refine his position.

 

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

I ended up about thirty yards from an old township road with the gobbler in a tree above my location. I had no other options, but to play the cards!

Friday morning glow.

I called softly. I was watching a warbler specie known as the Black and White warbler. The bird was close to me, and not appreciating my presence. I thought about getting the camera out for a photo when I heard the gobbler fly down. He was close! I prepared for a shot.

I waited when suddenly the gobbler appeared 18 yards from me. I froze of course. The bird would lift his tail feathers slightly, but not into a full fan. I suspected from what I could see that this gobbler was a bird from last year. He gobbled, and went into full strut. I could see the middle tail feathers sticking up above the others. Now I could see and entire beard, too…all five inches on beard. I allowed the bird to pass.

DSC_0019 The gobbler didn’t go far, but my leg felt as if it weighed two tons. My leg had fallen asleep! I had to move. The bird walked away “putting” loudly.

I went to my mother’s home for breakfast with  family. I arrived there by 7:20 so you can see this all happened quickly. Afterwards, I went out until about noon, but never heard a gobbler.

A native Azalea.

A native Azalea.

Awww. Friday morning!  No gobbling! I quickly headed for a secondary place. I arrived at seven, and slowly worked diagonally along the steep hill.  I walked about until about 9:30, and did not hear any gobbling, with one exception.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

I called loudly form an open area, and heard what I believe was a gobbler three-fourths of a mile across the big Cherry Run hollow. I elected to not go after that probable reply. Five years ago I would have been off in a hurry. Today, with age that may not have been a good idea. I saw a hen that was acting like she had a nest nearby.

Porky!

Porky!

 

Fire Pink

Fire Pink

I went to another area to walk and call. I had taken a couple of toms here in past hunts. The only problem these days are the steep hills to get there! As I approached the summit a hen turkey flew from a tree. It was 11:00 A.M. I pondered as to why she was in a tree at that time.

I walked the ridgeline calling periodically. I saw something dark, and at first thought I was seeing a gobbler in strut. However, a second later, proved I was seeing a Black Bear, and a big male at that!

DSC_0023   The bear was walking towards me. I placed the box call between my knees as I began trying to keep a focus on the bruin. At about 17 steps away, he stopped. A second later he turned around in high gear. I guess I must have had an odor about me. I was happy the big guy didn’t want to mate. Mating season is upon the bear population.

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

I was basically finished with turkey hunting. All I wanted to do was check my photos out. I did see a porcupine in a tree allowing for some pics.

I continued calling as I circled towards the jeep. No responses! I peered over en embankment on the gas line I was calling from only to see two gobblers moving away. If only one would have answered…….

 

Mountain Laurel ready to bloom.

Mountain Laurel ready to bloom.

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Sunrise

Sunrise

We all debate issues within our thoughts. I know my mind never ceases to stop. The big debate for me Sunday evening and Monday was to shoot a Jake this day if the opportunity to do so happened. That debate was tossed around within.                                        DSC_0009

Mayapple Blossom

Mayapple Blossom

I couldn’t believe I heard no gobbling on the roost this morning. The    DSC_0024morning was clear, and calm. Also, there was a frost everywhere. I sought out areas where the sun was hitting the surface  unaltered with limbs, and leaves. The sun felt good!

I leaned against a gas well to enjoy the warmth. A robin landed within inches of my head. Her wings stirred me since I did doze off. The local farmer was doing something down over the hill when nine deer ran up to me. Four were bucks! Later, I would see a doe, and her two fawns. The tractor moved them out!

Fawn

Fawn

I elected to go farther south to another hunting spot. At this site I began a walking, listening, an calling maneuver.  Approximately, 10:30 A.M. I was greeted with a gobble. I set up, and began to work the bird.(s) I, soon, realized there were three gobblers. I suspected three jakes.

 

My turkey. The hunt was an exciting one!

My turkey. The hunt was an exciting one!

After, a time, I spotted them about 35 yards away. Leaf out did not allow me to see beards well. We played around for another fifteen minutes. They were CLOSE!  Finally, I saw the first head coming from among the vegetation. Jake…jake… jake… three jakes!  Now, the debate was compressed within milliseconds. I remember thinking about the sickness I recently endured, the allergies  causing me troubles, and BAMMMM! Decision made, the hunter mode took over. (Right Frankie? We understand that mode!) The shot was twenty-one yards.

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

 

I was about a mile from the jeep. This would be a great opportunity to try out my new Turkey Tote!  Last spring, a number of turkey call makers got together for breakfast. I was invited. I met Harry Roming of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He needed deer antlers. I had deer antlers. I gave him a number of antlers, and he insisted on making me a Turkey Tote. Well, Harry the tote worked great! If interested contact Harry at 717-599-5675.

I saw a lot of birdlife this day. Scarlet tanagers; orioles; warblers….

Harry Roming Turkey Tote!

Harry Roming Turkey Tote!

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