Archive for November, 2018

And The Winds Howled…

I chose to stay home on Pennsylvania’s 2018 opening day of buck season. Weather stations were all calling for lots of rain and wind. One station made claims of possible 40 MPH wind gusts. I had no regrets.

This morning, however, we had an inch or so of snow on the ground. The winds were still out there, in fact they were howling! I stationed myself downslope where the winds were not as powerful, but I could hear the racket across the hollow and behind me. Like I said the winds were howling!

  I didn’t know what to expect as I ventured into the snow-laden woodlands. many trees and lower canopy trees were covered with snow. it was a   winter wonderland to behold. Little bird life was very absent this day. I only saw one squirrel, however, I was surprised to see a Chipmunk move across the snow. As I worked to get my camera in position the little striped critter went into a hole.

The first deer I saw cooperated greatly. Few deer do that in the wild. This deer came directly upslope to me feeding along the way. I managed close to fifteen or so photos.

The next doe I saw came past me at about twelve steps in a full run. If that deer would have sported a thirty-inch rack I still would not have been able to get a shot. My best option would have been to throw the gun at the feet to knock it over. Ha Ha! I saw three more deer, but no buck.

I quit around 1:00 and headed home.


Barberry- I planted this years ago.






Witch Hazel blossom under snow.

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A Bearded Hen

The bearded hen

On a recent post here I mentioned the old adage. The old saying often heard is the “third time’s the charm.” That third time for this fall’s turkey season came true this morning as I pursed the big birds.

  I walked to a listening point early this morning to hopefully hear some roosted birds. That plan failed so I began a walk and call style hunt.  I did not

Milkweed seeds

find any turkeys so I went a couple of hills over to repeat. Again I didn’t find any turkeys. This fall season has been exceptionally difficult for me. Sure, I had two chances that I left slide by believing a better shot would be the result. Neither opportunity resulted in any shots. Other birds were seen in leased land so I couldn’t go after them. Mostly I was simply having a rough time finding birds. I put on many miles trying to locate and break up a flock of turkeys in order to call one back in.

The third area I was searching found a change in luck for me.  I was walking along calling. At one point I called and heard nothing. I walked about ten feet more and I heard it! I heard yelps and not at any great distance. I hurried set up between two big oaks and the calling began.

About fifteen minutes later I first saw the turkey. I leveled the shotgun once an opportunity to do so presented itself.  A few minutes more the turkey moved into an open position and the shot was fired. The twenty yard shot was true and I had a turkey. Those many windy and rainy days with lots of miles walked and, suddenly, and in a short time I received an answer and had a turkey. That is the way the hunts happen at times.

I was surprised to realize the adult turkey had a five inch beard. I was surprised she was alone, too.

I took some various photos before heading home. It was a good day with a bagged turkey and a lot of deer sightings. One buck I saw had close to a twenty-inch spread.



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Fog, Snow and Rain

This second day of the 2018 Pennsylvania bear season proved to be another interesting day. My friend, Terry and I went to another area to check out  for bear.

A light rain could be viewed on the windshield between wiper blade activity However, rain was even lighter as I we traveled through the wee moments of the morning towards a clear-cut destination. I need to change the terminology to “old clear cut” for the trees have grown much since I first began hunting this area over twenty years ago.

Interestingly, the highest point of this area still had some snow cover in the woodlands. Enough snow was present to help with seeing, but not enough to effectively track any bear if we would have seen any bear. Approximately at seven thirty in the morning the snow began to fall. The white stuff fell all morning.

Also, dense fog was common for much of the morning. Between the fog and heavy falling snow we found visibility was greatly lessened.

At one pint I was moving down over a steep highwall to gain access to a big timber area with plenty of logs. I found out I wished I hadn’t made the decision to go down for a leaf-covered flat rock with wet slushy snow sent me off like a sled. My left knee caught on a tree trunk to stop me. Needless to say I had some pain issues.

  I eventually worked along the side of the hill and met up with Terry. We were ready to call the hunt a day. I was very wet and I didn’t realize how wet I was until I returned home. As I removed my coat and clothing I felt the heavy weight of water-logged attire.

I saw one deer and two ringneck pheasants throughout the morning.
















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The mile long walk to where we were going was done in mostly dark moments. My friend, Terry Williams and I decided to hunt this area after finding plenty of bear sign last Monday. This morning was much different than Monday with snow cover. One might think having snow cover was a good thing and mostly that would be true. However, this morning found everything covered with a layer of ice with snow on top. Visibility in many areas was ten or twelve feet so, unless one was in big timber areas minus a lot of low canopy trees.

  Trees were down everywhere within the area we were hunting. Gas well roads had numerous trees across the roads. Trees of many sizes were

Hard to see!

uprooted or broken from the weight of heavy snow and ice adding strong recent winds.  Trees and honeysuckle and Autumn Olive bent to the ground with heavy snow.

We heard trees cracking all morning. We saw limbs crashing to the forest floor. We saw trees coming down. Several times I took evasive actions upon hearing the snaps and crash of limbs. I was not in immediate danger for the closest limbs were twenty feet or so away.

I, personally, saw five deer. Most fresh deer sign was of beds with the deer sneaking out ahead of me. I saw one turkey and a rabbit.

Around 7:30 or so I head three distant shots. The shots were several hills over, but I wondered if Terry had shot. I was about a mile away and the shots seemed to be in his direction. I moved towards him.

We found where two bear had walked around, probably, sometime in the wee hours of Friday morning. We decided to follow them for the bear may be in brush close by. We, both, felt the shots may have been directed at the bear. I followed the tracks to a predicted corn field. We did not have access of this property. We soon saw a hunter watching the corn fields and we circled back around the hunter. I found additional old tracks and tried to unravel them, however, I believed the tracks were those of the same two bear. The tracks had melted, by this time, to hard to distinguish wet and gray slush areas. One needs to study many tracks to find the toe marks.


Bear track

Conditions had worsened with rising temperatures and the tress were raining water and snow all over us soaking into our clothes. By the time we   reached the entrance road we were getting wet and tired. We quit around one in the afternoon.








Bittersweet berries

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By Larry A. Smail

One of the most important events to have occurred in New Testament Bible times is the JERUSALEM COUNCIL. (Jerusalem Conference) If one studies this debate, and understands the results, the decisions, and their final agreement the significance of Bible truths will fall into place much easier. This eliminates much of what is often heard as Bible contradictions.

The Jerusalem Council occurred somewhere around the years of 50 A.D. I found it difficult to pinpoint a date to this conference. (The year of 50 A.D. seems to be the most accepted date.)

The Jerusalem Council event appears twice in the New Testament. The two times are found in Acts 15, and Galatians 2. (Luke wrote the Acts account, and Paul wrote the Galatians account of the debate.)

A brief history of events in the years prior to the council is needed to help “set the stage.”

At the time of the conference, Christ had been crucified, and resurrected for approximately 20 years. Christ had, also, ascended into glory. Pentecost had happened giving the Apostles the Holy Spirit power. The Apostles began preaching to the JEWS ONLY. (You can read of this in Acts 2 and 3 where Peter’s sermons address the MEN OF ISRAEL, MEN OF JUDEA, ALL OF ISRAEL, and ALL OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL …no Gentile talk here.)

The message preached was from Acts 2-3: Repent, (The Jews were to repent of their unbelief and of crucifying their Messiah.) and be baptized every one of you (Jews) in the NAME OF CHRIST for the forgiveness of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter, also, added in Chapter 3 about the time of refreshing and the return of Christ with the kingdom. (Peter’s words are much different than Paul’s Gentile message of believing the gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The message of believing in faith that Christ died, was buried, and was raised again to be saved. NO WORKS!)

Opposition of the apostles’ message by the Jewish elites began, and eventually the stoning of the Holy Spirit, inspired, Jewish, Jesus believer, Stephen occurred. (Acts 7) Immediately, these Jewish, Jesus believers were forced to leave Jerusalem heading to Gentile cities to avoid persecution, capture, and death. (Acts 8) It is apparent the Lord had given the Nation of Israel its last chance to accept Christ as their Messiah. The Lord would be changing directions!

In Acts 9, a Jewish man of authority, and power, named Saul began to travel to these Gentile cities to capture, and return the Jewish, Jesus believers to Jerusalem. As he approached the city of Damascus, he was struck blind with the power, and voice of Christ. The man, Saul (later to be named Paul.) was converted to a believer on the spot. Soon, he would learn his mission, and that was to carry the message of GRACE THROUGH FAITH FOR SAVATION TO THE GENTILES.

The other Apostles are still preaching to JEWS ONLY! Paul spends years preaching, primarily, to the Gentiles. This is different from the Apostles’ message shown above.

However, Peter is, supernaturally, convinced into visiting a Gentile named Cornelius against his strong law-keeping Jewish indoctrination. (Acts 10) Peter is surprised to witness the Holy Spirit come onto these Gentiles even before he completed his talks, and before any water baptism. (This is important to remember for the Jerusalem Council meeting. The Lord had Peter visit these Gentiles for this future purpose.)

The stage of the Jerusalem Council has been set.


In Acts 15: 1-5, we read of men coming from Judea, (Law-keeping, Jewish believers.) and telling the Gentile believers they had to be circumcised, and follow law (Customs of Moses) to be saved. Paul, and Barnabas, argued with them. They would go to Jerusalem to answer questions from the Apostles, and elders. They were welcomed, and they declared what God had done with
the Gentiles. Pharisee believers claimed again they were to obey Jewish law.

In Galatians 2: 1-4, Paul writes, after 14 years, he (Paul) went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and the Greek, Titus. He told them of the gospel
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4) he preached among the GENTILES. Paul wrote
here about going before those of repute privately prior to going to the council. (Those men of repute are the Apostles of Christ in Jerusalem.) He added of the false brethren brought in secretly to spy on our freedom. (That freedom was Liberty from Jewish law.) These people wanted to force the Gentiles into Mosaic Law.

In Acts 15: 6-7, there was a great debate with the Apostles, and elders. (This debate, probably, became argumentative and quite heated at times.)

In Galatians 2: 5-6, Paul wrote that we did not yield submission that the truth of the gospel be preserved. Paul adds that he was with those men of repute, or reputed to be something. (Paul was referring to the Apostles and believing Pharisees.) He added they meant nothing to Paul. (This would be difficult for me, but Paul stood up to the Apostles. I would be standing in awe at their presence.)

In Acts 15: 7-11, Peter finally stood up reminding these believing, yet law-keeping, Jews about his experience with Cornelius a while ago. (Acts 10) Peter remembered that these Gentiles received the Holy Spirit through faith. Peter asked them why we should be making trial by putting the yoke (law) upon these Gentiles that we (nor the fathers) bare. (This was the purpose of Peter’s direction, by the Lord, to visit the Gentile Cornelius. Had this not been done the outcome of this debate may have been quite different.)

In Acts 15: 12-21, the assembly was silent during Paul and Barnabas’ talks including the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles. James, at some point in the debate, agreed with Peter’s statements of what was witnessed to the Gentiles. James suggested we (Jews) make no more trouble to the saved Gentiles. A decision to write to the Gentiles with requests of various things to avoid was made. (Verse 20)

In Acts 15: 24, the Apostles and elders had letters written up apologizing to the Gentiles for the Jewish believer’s previous actions. The letters, also, added they suggested the Gentiles would follow certain things from Jewish
Law. Note the Apostles are still adhering to the law!

In Galatians 2: 7-8, they realized that Paul was entrusted to the Gentiles (uncircumcised) and Peter had been entrusted to the circumcised. (Jews)
He (Christ) worked through Peter to the Jews, and he (Christ) worked
through Paul to the Gentiles. Jews, and Gentiles, are still separated here.

In Galatians 2: 9-10, once they perceived the grace message preached by Paul, the apostles who were reputed to be pillars, namely, Peter, James and John SHOOK HANDS with Paul and Barnabas. (This was a gentlemen’s agreement.)

All through the Old Testament a separation of the Jews and the Gentiles is present. The Nation of Israel, and the Jews, would come through the man, Abraham. God promised they would be a unique people. In Exodus 19: 5-6, God tells these people if they would obey him they would become priests to take the message to the Gentiles. They failed!

Christ, in the four gospels, was a Jew living as a Jew, and a law-keeper! Christ’s original mission was to be a minister, or servant, to the Jews in accordance to the scripture as their MESSIAH! (Romans 15:8) Even Christ maintained a separation between the Gentiles, and Jews as was his mission. A couple of verses stating this from Christ can be found in Matthew 10: 5-6, and Matthew 15: 22-28. Christ said his mission was to go to the LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL! This is important to remember!

Christ was rejected by the Nation of Israel. The Gentiles were a pagan people caring little to nothing about the Jews, and their culture. The Jews hated the Gentiles. Another form of separation!

Even at the Jerusalem Council, you can easily read, and see how the Holy Spirit was keeping the Gentiles, and Jews separated. The results: The disciples would go to the JEWS, and Paul would go to the Gentiles! Remember they shook on this! A separation! The separation was constant throughout the New Testament scriptures. We should, too as we study!

If you can learn to study the Word with this separation in place the words of the Bible will begin to open up, and an understanding of the scriptures will be the result. You will soon enjoy studying the WORD! Contradictions will become nil!

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The old adage, “The third time is the charm”  may apply if only I could find that third one.  I came very close on two occasions on bagging a turkey last Wednesday, November 7. In fact I had the shotgun leveled with the safety off both times, but failed to shoot.

Christmas briars

Wednesday morning seemed like a great day for hunting considering the winds and rain this season has had daily. However, at daybreak the winds  began to increase, as well. I do not like hunting turkeys in windy conditions because of the inability to hear well. I can’t hear them as readily and they can’t hear my calling as readily either. Also, a flock of birds can be heard scratching leaves for some distances on calm days. With that in mind my hunting strategy is to cover ground searching for a flock to break up and set up on. Then I can call them back in. I tramped miles this season and haven’t walked onto a flock of turkeys. This is hard to believe.

Anyway, I was disappointed when the winds began at daybreak. I knew hearing roosted birds could be difficult unless I was within a couple of hundred yards. I did enjoy the soft hooting of a Screech Owl for a few moments before circling the point calling and listening.  I reached the point and crossed over the top. I called periodically. Soon, I peered down into a woods and saw a turkey. The bird walked behind a big tree and I dropped. I began calling  and suddenly to my right I heard turkey talk and could even hear the bird walking in the leaves. The turkey was close. All I could do was play the cards dealt.

The Remington 870 was leveled when the bird appeared. Unfortunately for me the turkey came into an area where landowners had dozed ground to level years ago. So mounds of dirt and limbs were present along with grasses and pokeberry stalks. I was in the open and the turkey was in open woods. Unfortunately, this mound and vegetation was between the two of us. However, there was an opening for a chance. The turkey was visible and all the bird needed to do was take a step to be in a clear shot zone. The turkey spotted the orange and darted across that opening and ran down the hill.  I wasn’t prepared for that. I could have shot through the pokeberry stalks, but I was certain the shot would happen.  Oh well some excitement for only a few moments. I hunted all around the area searching for a flock.

  I moved north to hunt an area where I have had much success over the years. I walked up a gas line and peered over an abrupt roll on the terrain and spotted a gobbler scratching for food. The bird was about 45 yards. I backed away immediately.  I moved to my right and set up where I could see seventy yards to where the turkey was. The windy conditions kept the bird from hearing my approach. I began calling.  The bird came in silent, but to my left. The gobbler stepped behind some trees at around twenty yards and the shotgun was ready for a shot. I was sure the shot was to happen, but the bird became suspicious and walked over that knoll directly behind the tree. I called and his head and neck reappeared.

Not a good photo of a Bald Eagle.

A limb between the turkey and myself was directly across the visible head and neck.  A shot would have been successful I am sure, but I held off for the bird only needed to move a couple of inches to expose a great shot. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! The turkey alarmed putted and dropped over that knoll. I called an had answers for a moment then silence ruled the woods. I tramped around until about 1:00 and quit for the day. I am getting old ya know!

Thursday, November 8, was looking great as well, but again the winds did pick up at daybreak.  I walked and zigzagged a finger ridge and failed to see any turkeys. I quit about noon. These last two afternoons I needed to work with mulching leaves.

When one spends time in the autumn woods amazement occurs as to how rapid the colors of the leaves turn. Also, how the trees can be loaded with their foliage and a few days later the woods can be barren of canopy leaves.

I did see a lot of deer and squirrels while out and about. I watched a Bald eagle for several minutes circling over the Cherry Run Watershed. I have been hearing and seeing Ravens often.



Morning shadow line








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Yes this fall turkey season has been one with some weather not agreeable to hunting those birds. Rains have been common. Winds have been unyielding. However, this day was rain free and the winds were tolerable. Rains and winds make hearing difficult and the ability to hear is important for turkey hunting.

  I arrived about fifteen minutes later than I wanted because the early morning time had some rain falling. I monitored the radar and could see  the rains were about to cease in my area. Off I went!

I was disappointed while slowly touring the ridgeline straining my ears to hear birds on the roost or to receive an answer to my calling. Nothing.  Approximately two hours into the morning I elected to travel a couple of miles farther south to hear better. The road noises were strong this morning.

I drove a short distance and saw a turkey in a tree about a hundred yards or so from the road. I stopped and watched the bird fly down. Unfortunately the bird was in lease land for hunters from Ohio. I drove just a short distant more and saw several white heads. Yes I could see gobblers among the vegetation. I looked out ahead and could see around eight young birds feeding along. They were all within that same land. I snapped about ten photos and moved on.





Deer search…

I began walking up the long steep grade at the planned hunting area. I was about five-hundred feet from the top and I heard a turkey responding to my calling.  I quickly set up, but within a few minutes I became very concerned. The calls did not feel right and I elected to leave the area. My hunch was proved accurate when I saw a pick up parked along a farming/ gas road. I would later see the man and we chatted for about twenty minutes. he was the one calling.

I made a long sweep into promising areas and saw or heard no turkeys. Plenty of deer and squirrels were about the woodlands. Bear sign was found.

I retraced some of my walking and called often. I swept an entire point of this long ridge and repeated the same scenario. No turkeys!

  The time was about 1:30 and I decided to stop in and see my mother and stepfather for a little while.  Tomorrow rain and winds are in the forecast again.


Golden Beech


Claw marks



Mmmm..semi-sweet chocolate





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The turkeys have been remaining hidden thus far.  Weather is been a key to my lack of success, as well as, some bad fate.

  The first day of this year’s season found fairly heavy and steady rain. I donned my camo rain coat, but didn’t bother with my rain pants. A big mistake for me. By mid-morning my pants were so soaked that through wicking actions I was wet to my beltline. I became so wet that the cash in my wallet was soaked. Now that is a lot of rain. I had on the required orange hat and once the hat became saturated the water soaked my hair and the water dripped down my neck. Rain wicked


around my collar and up my sleeves. Yes I was very wet.

The sounds of rain cancelled any chances of hearing turkeys on the roost.  Add breezy conditions and I found myself at the jeep by around 10:20. Of course I didn’t chance carrying a camera in such conditions.

The second day of the season found high winds and some rain. Another day preventing me to hear roosted birds or hearing them answering my calls. I failed to walk up onto any flocks. Where did they go? I tamped about six hours trying to find a flock.

The following day was the best day for hunting and hearing turkeys , but even with the conditions I failed to locate any turkeys.  The wind wasn’t bad, however a dense fog lasted until ten. I searched for almost seven hours this day.

Wednesday of the first week found my high on a hill at daybreak. I had a hollow on both sides of me, so I increased my chances of hearing roosted birds or so I thought.  Around the time turkeys often begin talking from the trees found an increase in the wind. In short order the winds became fairly strong since rain was scheduled to arrive around noon.


October 31st morning

I began a slow trek around the hill’s slope to locates birds.  A small bit of luck occurred about 10:00 in the morning. I walked towards a posted property line. I was going to call and hopefully get an answer and lure birds towards me. With the wind my approach was quiet as I called approximately forty yards outside the signs. A n abrupt slope quickly formed a steep hollow.  My call was immediately answered by that dreaded “alarm putt.” I never saw the bird for it must have been feeding on that slope and my call caused it to raise to see the vocal turkey…me. I never saw the bird. I never heard it running of flying, but the game was over for me. If there would have been a flock I would have seen something to indicate that.

I hunted by walking and calling until noon. I saw a raven, squirrels, many deer including some buck. I, also, found some bear sign. This morning I had  breakfast with the family so I didn’t get out to hunt. I think a break might do me well. I do my Bible Study class later today, too. Tomorrow, November 2, I am scheduled to play music at two different homes. If I decide to hunt my time will be limited.






Mmmmm…dark chocolate!



Buck in fog





Red Salamander


Our native American Chestnut


Downy Rattlesnake Plantain


Big old tree

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