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Archive for May, 2018

Memorial Day Parade

I attended the Memorial day Parade in Elderton, Pennsylvania this morning. However, I attended as a participant. I was asked to accompany my friend, Walt Marr, to walk along with him as we headed the parade.

I dressed in my eighteenth century militia man attire. The look I attain for is that of a militia member prepared to use my smoothbore to protect my family, community, state or nation. In years past others would walk along representing the Civil War, but this year I was alone to protect everybody from incursions by war-like Indians or British Redcoats. Word must have been out for no attacks occurred.

In past years, prior to the Elderton School closings big crowds would join together for Memorial Day events in the school’s gymnasium. This year, as others since the closing, the parade was all that occurred in the quaint little Americana town.

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Yesterday, I moved to an area to listen for gobblers. The area is very difficult to hunt because  a roosting gobbler can see all around the open woods. Why this would be is due to the fact two small woodlots are divided by a right-a-way. The right-a-way yields to waist high grass. I have never been able to call a gobbler from one side of right-a-way to the other. Once daylight is on it is nearly impossible to sneak into the opposite woodlot.

I heard the first gobble at 5:28 A.M. and began moving to locate the bird. Eventually I was to about 70 yards, but the gobbler was on the other side. Should I try to sneak across? I decided to play the hand dealt this morning. I sat for three hours and the gobbler gobbled on and off during this time. After a pause in gobbling I called again and heard a distant tom sounding off. I assumed the gobbler was down from the roost and had moved away.

(I spooked a hen from the roost in the darker moments and later called her back in to me. I literally had to stand up to chase her away.)

Black and white pic.

  I went across the right-a-way and heard an answer down over the hill’s side along the reclaimed strip job. I set up and called and the gobbling seemed to get farther away. I stood up to move again and the sounds of wing beats exploded to my right. The gobbler was still in the tree. The gobblers below were jakes! I saw three. Had I not have heard that distant gobbler I would have stayed in place longer. Oh well I screwed up again. I know where I would be the next morning.

I went to another area about 10:30 and worked a bird for about an hour. I don’t what happened in this hunt, but he seemed to lose all interest.

This morning I left the jeep at 4:40 and arrived behind where the gobbler had roosted yesterday by 5:10. A quick mile long hike, but I made the jaunt in time. I heard a Barred Owl hooting off in the distance. The Bullfrogs were singling joyfully and a Whip-O-Will enjoyed the coolness of the pre-dawn day.

A far off gobbler to my right began gobbling. One began to gobble far off to my left. I was wondering if either of these birds were the gobbler from yesterday.  Suddenly he gobbled exactly where he had been at the previous morning. He may have been  less than a hundred yards from me. It felt good. I clucked and cutted some. I did only clucks as the morning progressed.

After  a time of silence he gobbled again and I could tell the big guy was down from the roost. My shotgun was leveled as I waited and watched. Finally after fifteen minutes I saw the gobbler and the thirty yard shot was true.

 

Jack-In the-Pulpit (Indian Turnip)

The gobbler weighed twenty pounds. He sported a ten and a half inch beard and each spur was one and an eighth inches long.

On the drive home I saw two hens being followed by three Jakes.

 

 

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The weather has not been the best for my hunting experiences. In fact many days I haven’t been hunting.

Last week proved to be a bad week for my breathing issues. Allergies were causing discomfort, but the asthma hit hard last week. Allergies and asthma simply stated waste me. I become very tired. I rested on the couch for a couple of hours before showering in preparation for my Bible study class later.  Around 3:30 the coughing, choking, gasping began leading to , at least, four vomiting experiences expelling “stuff” from my lungs.

After these bouts one thing is for sure. I’ll be exhausted. Also, I ached bodily for several days. On the positive side the coughing subsides in intensity, but don’t completely stop.

Yesterday, the 21st, I elected to hunt again. The morning proved to be a very nice day.  Even the humidity was lessened.

I made the way to a listening point and eventually heard three gobbles, but I never decided in direction for they were barely audible. The warblers singing and crows cawing make for a lot of noise add to the road noise about a mile away. I suspect the bird may have gobbled more, but I only heard three when the road noise ceased at times.

   I took an instinctive guess and moved in the suspected direction across the hollow.  I failed to invoke any turkey talk. Was I right as to the area?  I don’t know. I did see a Woodcock while traveling about. Close to seven and I believed I needed to go south for about a mile and half to get away from the road.

I began a steep grade and was close to the top when a call was needed. A small two acre field sets between the woods and I hoped a bird would gobble before I entered the field. I called and way across this huge hollow on the top of the hill I heard a gobble. Off I went!

Eventually I entered this small woodlot where I hoped the bird might have gobbled from and all I heard was silence. I kept kicking out deer as I moved along this ridge. Did the snorting deer affect the gobbler’s mood? Had the bird seen me?  I spent several hours working the ridges trying to stimulate a gobble to no avail. I returned to the original woodlot and heard nothing.

The temperatures were climbing by this time and I knew the grass needed mowed. I came out of the small woodlot and called as I began descending the hill. I still called occasionally. Suddenly, there he was! Too late now. Why did this gobbler gobble from across a hollow approximately a half mile across and shut up once I arrived? I’ll never know.

By 11:30 I returned to the jeep. I had mild allergy itches at times and several times I would need to cough, but I made it through the day relatively well.

This morning , the 22nd, the skies were allowing some light rain to fall. I hunted closer to home , but didn’t hear anything. I was, however, soaked from the increasing rains and high grass I walked through.  

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Weird-looking tree

I decided to not hunt much last week. The week began with one of those rare asthma related coughing and chocking bouts I sometimes have.  I pulled off onto a township road when this hit. The bouts don’t last long, but the sure “knock the sap” out of me. Lack of air while breathing , also occurs. I tried to hunt but felt tired and quit early. Fatigue is a usual symptom of the coughing spells. The following morning the allergies began to plague me. I hate to cough or sneeze while I am trying to hunt gobblers. Tuesday I was out a few hours and transplanted wildflowers to a friend’s property, while Wednesday I had quit hunting around 8eight o’clock. So, most of the week found me absent from the hunts.

 

Bear sign

However, today I was in the woods early. The woodlands were foggy in the early morning.The humidity and dew

Dogwood blossom

point was high and the temperature getting hot. I stayed out until about 12:30 when I heard some thunder way off.

I did not hear any gobblers this day. I had a hen answer my calls early while she was on the roost. I imagined a gobbler would be near, but he never gobbled if he was present. I began a walk and call tour most of the morning except for fifteen minutes of sleep at a tree’s base. Later I saw a hen in a field.

I came upon some bear dung. Upon looking closer I counted twenty piles of the darkened matter in close proximity. I check around some fallen logs to see if I could see sign of a bear lodging site.

Throughout my time in the woods the fragrances of Honeysuckle and Autumn Olive blossoms permeated my nostrils. They are pleasing scents.

I saw a number of deer and squirrels. I found a baby Snapping Turtle. I should have taken a few photos but the sky  was getting very dark.

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Purple Trillium

My friend Kip Feroce has beautiful lands around his property. Big timber, moss-covered logs, Mayapples in abundance may be

Leeks

found along the very steep  slopes. However, many of Pennsylvania’s native wildflowers were absent upon my time traveling about those lands. I have many species on my property planted to allow to spread and transplant to lands barren of them. More later.

I found not seeing many common species of wildflowers an issue with me. I mentioned this issue to Kip and he readily agreed to for me to reintroduce some native species of wildflowers. I hope to see them flourish and spread as needed to beautify the forest even more.

This morning, beside the plantings, found me needing to stop by another friend, Frank Maus. To further make all of these plans work best, it was decided to hunt turkeys until mid-morning. I made all of these ventures fall into place within half a day. Perfect!

I managed to stimulate a gobbler. The big bird was in posted property and over two hundred yards off. I didn’t have a positive thought, but the gobbler very quickly moved to about 80 yards of me. WOW! I had hunting related issues. The terrain between the gobbler and me besides being posted yielded a deeply cut gas well road that runs parallel to the property I was hunting on. Even worse between this gas well road and me was dense Multiflora Rose…and I mean lots of this terrible plant. I had only one card to play and to try to call the bird over that embankment and through the roses thickets.

Trout Lily

 

White Trillium

As I expected, the gobbler walked and gobbled that road back and forth. The terrain would have allowed an unethical and illegal shot, but that is not how I roll. I played around with this gobbler for about two hours moving five or six times in attempts to lure him to me. Well, off to Frank’s nearby home.

Frank and I shared turkey stories for, at least, half an hour before I left to transplant the wildflowers.

I planted approximately forty individual wildflowers on Kip’s property. I had just finished when I heard his truck coming up the lane. Now we need some rain to set those roots and bulbs. I imagine many years ago this may have been pasture land with years of cattle traversing the lands thus killing out many species of wildflowers.

The species I planted were: White Trillium; Purple Trillium; Jack-In-The-Pulpit; Dutchman’s Breeches; Trout Lily; Bloodroot; Virginia Bluebells and Wild Leek. Hope they survive and spread rapidly.

 

Virginia Bluebells

 

 

Leaf of Bloodroot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baby Porcupine

I was blessed this morning when I spotted a baby Porcupine in the woods. The little one may have weighed two pounds. An interesting reality with Porcupines is how their defensive tactic is instinctively used at the approach of anything of potential danger. In this case that potential danger was me!!! Or, at least, the young un believed to be the case. I had difficulty getting the photos I wanted for this critter would always turn to keep his rearward side facing towards me. This area of the porky has extensive quillwork. The porcupine expands his arsenal through muscular work. In other words the quills are aimed towards an attacker.

We played the game for a time until I just set still and talked to the animal. After some time the porky began to maintain a trust or curious level to look at me, however, the war package was always engaged for action.

The Porcupine climbed a Sassafras tree to get higher than anything on the ground. This is another defensive tactic. CLIMB!

 

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Left to right: Galen Braddy; Kip Feroce; Me and Ken Crummett

The following evening while we all ate an evening meal a severe storm erupted. None of us gave a lot of thought of what may had happened at the place we were staying.

Kip Feroce of http://www.ferociouscalls. com  and Judge Galen Braddy of North Carolina    decided to head off to work for gobbler action at various places. I was going to help Ken Crummett of West Virginia to set up in a blind. As you may recall from the previous entry here of Ken’s two strokes and limitations. Just as the sky was showing a morning to be I decided to walk to where ken’s blind was set up. The bind was gone! The winds pulled up the blind’s roots and I found it down over an embankment. The blind had two logs attached to it. The winds must have been very strong. I used a flashlight in my mouth to carry the blind and reset it before Ken’s walk over. I gave assistance to Ken as he struggled to walk. I went off around the hill to see what I could hear this morning.

Dawn had arrived and I was where I had hoped to be listening, but I still heard a tom gobbling around the slope. I worked above the turkey, but by the time I had set up and called he had flown way down over the steep side.  I worked a long ridge to call and listen.

I was returning when I first heard the gobble. He was quite a distance away and I hurriedly tried to close the gap between the two of us. Once I arrived to where he had roosted I heard a lone gobble way down the hollow. I circled around the round top and checked with Ken. He was doing fine and had seen a jake and three hens. I told Ken I would be back later and was going to try to get close and arouse the gobbler.

          I worked down the slope and set to listen. I heard the gobble far down the hollow. I walked along the hill’s side to try to work above the turkey. Eventually, after stopping and listening and moving on I found myself high above the gobbler. I began to call a little more aggressively than earlier. He answered. I moved in on him several times before settling against a huge oak. I saw a

Apple blossoms

Fisher moving through the forest while I waited.

The bird went silent and I had the Remington 870 (Assault shotgun…sarcasm) in position and waited. Suddenly, he gobbled and much closer. the gobbling increased in intensity and soon I could seen the big bird.

The gobbler approached , stopped and gobbled while displaying his fanned tail. The big gobbler stayed in one place and finally he began moving upslope. He stopped to look for the unseen hen and at 38 paces he was mine.

The gobbler was heavy to carry up and over the steep country. The distance was close to three-fourths of a mile.

Unfortunately for Ken a jake was walking through the woods when it suddenly ran off. I entered the scene close to ten-o’clock and may have ruined Ken’s chance. I apologized, but Ken was ready to call the hunt a day and begin preparing for their trip home.

Eventually Kip and Galen arrived without success this morning. We said our goodbyes and off I went home to clean the turkey.

The gobbler weighed 22 pounds sporting a nine and three-fourth inch beard and each spur was one inch.

The turkey was the “icing on the cake.” Without the success this hunt was  still grandeur. A more beautiful morning is hard to come by. The temperature was comfortable and colors of the spring woods and the morning hues were perfect! Scarlet Tanagers were fluttering about. Deer and squirrels were all about. the forest was just perfect. What else can I say?

 

Juneberry or Serviceberry blossoms

 

 

 

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