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Archive for April, 2019

The second morning  of the Pennsylvania Spring Gobbler Season found me working in Indian stealth up a shallow hollow ending on a flat ridge. I enjoyed watching the morning awaken while listening for a gobbler sounding off near to me.

I heard two gobblers, but both were off in the distance. The closest was a twenty minute move. The second was barely audible somewhere far away in some distant treetop. I elected to stay put having confidence a gobbler would be near. I did hear a hen cackle about a hundred yards to my right. I waited for half an hour expecting to hear a gobbler along with her.

I eventually moved to the area I believed the closest gobbler may have gobbled. I did not receive any response. I crossed a hollow and went up on the next ridgeline. I called and heard nothing. However, once I went up and over I saw a hunter about seventy yards setting next to a tree. I waved and left the area.

I crossed the road only to see a friend’s pick up parked near to my jeep. I surmised where he may have went to hunt and went in another direction. The winds had picked up a lot and I walked and called loudly at various spots. Eventually I worked down over a hillside and called and heard a gobble several hundred yards away. I picked up the pace and crossed a gulley and moved halfway up the opposite hillside. I called again and heard another blast of turkey testosterone. The gobbler was much closer. I quickly set up before calling again. GIL-OBBLE-OBBLE -OBBLE was the reply and only about a hundred yards away.

I waited now breathing forcibly out the left side of the mouth for my steam was trying to fog up my glasses. Eventually everything seemed to be stabilizing as for the steam because my glasses weren’t fogging up anymore.

The Turkey Tote made for me. I sent a fellow a bunch of deer antlers. This was one of antlers cut and painted for me. as a tote.

Suddenly I saw the white crown at about forty yards. I sat patiently when to my surprise a second gobbler appeared a little closer. The two birds moved even closer, but very slowly. Both were around twenty-eight to thirty yards, but I couldn’t get a clean shot due to many small tree trunks throughout. All the lead bird needed to do was take about two steps and be in the open, but he turned and walked in front of the second bird. The second gobbler  moved ahead a little and offered me a shot, but not as open as I would like, but I was on him with sight alignment.

BOOM!!!!!!!!  The bird was down and flopping as I saw two gobblers run away. I never saw the third gobbler prior to the shot.

The tom turkey weighed exactly twenty pounds. One spur was one inch and the second spur was seven/eighths of an inch. The beard was just shy of ten inches. Now I had the long walk back to the jeep. The turkey tote that was given to me made the weight somewhat easier to handle.

I stopped and placed feathers on my cousin Donnie’s truck wiper, as per our tradition, but he saw me. I later stopped at my step-father’s home to see him.

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Beautiful morning. The gobbler was on that distant hill.

It seems like only last year we had a similar event. The walk to a listening vantage point was quite calm. However, just prior to six in the morning a could feel the winds picking up. In a short time the winds were howling.

I could hear the hooting of a Barred Owl below me. A little after six o’clock I heard a gobble across the hollow from where I was listening. the bird was around one hundred and fifty yards or so. I moved down slope to get closer. I was fearful of moving to his side of the hill since this early in the season the leaves were sparse allowing the bird to possibly see my approach.

I could still hear the owl and then some hen talk. Could a hunter have moved in below me with these calls? I decided to walk away from this gobbler. The bird only gobbled four times in a half an hour. I walked back up and over the flats calling occasionally, but searching for the elusive morels.

Eventually I worked back and near the area where I had heard the gobbler. I called and received an answer. I  didn’t hear any hunters or see any tracks on a muddy gas well road. After a brief time I could see the dark form of a gobbler in the brush. I soon realized this bird was a yearling. (Jake) I left him walk. he came within twenty to twenty-two feet from me. I wished I had my camera in hand, but I kept the shotgun on alert for I hoped a second bird might appear.

I exited the area and crossed the road. I did a walk and call tour despite the howling noise from the wind. NO luck! I returned to the jeep a little before ten o’clock and called loudly and received an answer. Off I went to circle the bird. I closed in to around one hundred and fifty yards from the gobbler and called. He responded.  After a pause he answered my call again and that was it. I circled around and walked uphill close to a large lease land. I thought a change in position may find the bird up on top and call him back. I sat down and after a wait I noticed turkey movement about a hundred yards out. Could that turkey be the gobbler? No a hen showed up above me. She became quite vocal after I called again to her. She worked to about twenty-five feet from me. Again, the photo ops I had, but I was hoping the gobbler might show up.

I returned to the jeep only to see turkey feathers in my wipers. Cousin Donnie had scored this first morning hence the feather. This has been a tradition for us for a long time. I stopped to see him at the house while he cleaned the gobbler.

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The Turkey Vulture

I do not remember when I saw my first Turkey Vulture. (Turkey Buzzard) I know I was extremely interested with the bird once I learned proper identification. The wide-span, wing-spread aids with making the bird seem much larger than it is. Identifying the bird in flight is possible through two primary methods. The birds soar with a shallow-v appearance. They hold their long wings out and may soar for long periods of time without any wingbeats. This is possible through the use of their finger-like wing feathers located at the end of their upper primary feathers and the thermal wind drifts. So look for the finger-like wing tips and the shallow-v. They often wobble while soaring.

  The bird itself is close in size to a Canada Goose.  They appear dark-bodied, but actually have shades of brown included in their color.

The vulture is a bird that feeds on carrion. They are a scavenger. They have keen eyesight and a sense of smell. The birds can locate dead things via scent.

They like to nest in rocky areas.  Many years ago I was exploring steep rocky ledges. I pulled myself up to peer into the depths of some rocks and was immediately met with an adult vulture. The bird instantly came towards me and flew past my head as I ducked down to keep from meeting with a collision. Their were two eggs in the rocks which is normal. The adults soared close to me until I exited the area.

The little vultures are fed through the adults regurgiatatiing the carrion they have eaten. Yummy! They can fly in about nine to ten weeks.

Watch for the Turkey Vulture and enjoy with amazement their flight abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turkeys!

Today was the first day of trout season I Pennsylvania. I don’t care for the crowds on trout opener, so I decided to go for a walk and look for some Morel Mushrooms.

  I crossed a creek near to where I was raised and walked the steep slope towards the top of the hill. This woods is an open woodland, so I had high hopes of wandering onto some of those fine-tasting ‘rooms. I have found Morels at this location in past years, but the morsels evaded my eyesight.

The day, however, was a productive one in other ways. Squirrels were abundant, both the Gray and Fox squirrels species. Chipmunks raced over the dry leaf-litter. I saw some Rufous-sided Towhees. that sighting always insures soring is here to stay.

I heard a commotion and saw some movement along the side of a Wild Cherry tree. Young raccoons were at the den. the cute little buggers were inquisitive of my presence allowing a few photo  ops.  While moving about near their den tree I saw a turkey flying across the hollow. As I watched I heard gobbles way down the ridgeline. I believed I would venture in that direction.

I entered a field and eased over the terrain to see two turkeys about eighty yards away. I set up and called. Gil-obble-obble-obble was the response. I waited surprised to have four jake gobblers come within twenty yards of my position. The camera was shooting. One became nervous with alarm putting. I responded likewise , but they were all nervous. two more jakes and a hen entered the scene. they were right near me when two longbeards showed up. One had a massive beard close to a foot long I surmised. I tried to move the camera onto those beauties and the close birds began putting, too. they all quickly disappeared.

I used the field’s terrain to circle and saw them way off eventually in another field. I called, but the mood was gone.

I headed back towards the jeep still looking occasionally for Morels. I saw the two longbeards  again. I saw eight deer and a Red-tailed Hawk and the nest. I, also, saw a pair of Wood Ducks in a wetland-like area.

 

 

 

 

 

Frog eggs

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Fort Ligonier

I arrived at the jeep from a hike along Grove Run. I checked the time and decided to travel the six to eight miles to visit Fort Ligonier.  (Present-day, Ligonier, Pennsylvania.) I hadn’t been to the fort in over fifteen years and was anxious to see what new renovations and restorations might be present to see.

One of many pieces of artillery on site.

A brief history of the fort is in order. The timing of history here in southwestern Pennsylvania was the French and Indian War. The Pennsylvania Colony was sided with the British against the French and their Indian allies. The Delaware (Leni-Lenape) with some Shawnee in present-day Kittanning were

British “Union Jack” flag

allied with the French. Fort Ligonier was a British fort erected along the Loyalhanna Creek in 1758. At this time in the war the fort was being used as a staging site for General John Forbes. Forbes mission was to attack the French Fort Duquesne at the forks of the rivers at present-day Pittsburgh. The site would become Fort Pitt after the French evacuated their presence.

Twice the Indians beseigfed the fort and both times the attack was a failure.

The site was a pace of heavy archeological diggings in recent past. Hundreds of relics were removed in the dig and are now on display at the Fort Ligonier musem. The fort, itself, has been erected and restored when possible. Walking through the fort gives a degree of how these brave men lived their day to day existence during war times. It wasn’t easy.

The fort was abandoned in 1766 after the French and Indian War along with Pontiac’s war ended.

To see more about Fort Ligonier see: http://www.fortligonier.org

 

 

Store house

 


Rock outcropping on the Loyalhanna Creek side.

 

Old “wavy” glass window

 

 

 

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Wolf Rocks

I began this trek to the Laurel Highlands in the dark hours of the morning. I wanted to on the trail I selected early not long into sunrise. The temperature was in the thirty degree range as I began to walk to an area known as Wolf Rocks. I was at the Laurel Summit State Park for this particular hike.

Overlooking Linn Run

The traveling wasn’t easy due to many rocks on the trail, however, the walk was mostly level. I discovered why this area is known as Laurel Summit. Often times the areas to my right and to my left were covered with dense Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel.  Intermingled with these evergreen plants could be found our native green briar. I wasn’t very interested in trying to go through this mess, so I didn’t!

Rocky trail

I was surprised at the woodland silence this morning. Not one gobble was to be heard. I heard one raven. Very few other birds were heard. I saw some deer and heard and spotted an eagle flying over.

I moved a mile down the road to walk another trail. This trail is called Beam Rock Trail. I was impressed with these rocks once I arrived to them. Rock climbing is allowed on site and I hare to admit I did do some limited rock climbing.  The years kept telling me to not push this adventure. Body parts might break easier now! I could see snow and ice among some of these huge boulders.

Around noon I went down slope and hiked along Grove Run in the Linn Run area. Here I first saw green spring life. I found hepatica, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily and some young emergences of a few other species. I did not find any Morels. I left Linn Run around three o’clock. I hoped to have time in Ligonier to see the f Fort Ligonier Museum.

 

 

 

 

Beam Rock view

 

 

 

Snow between rocks

 

Mountain laurel blossom remnant from last year.

Flowers from the lowland hike:

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Trout Lily

 

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Old Jacob with his new “peep” sight.

Most of my friends know how I enjoy hunting with the flintlock rifles.  I love the gracious flow of the wood, the character and beauty of the Pennsylvania long rifles of the eighteenth century. The last two flintlock seasons I had not done very well with my shooting abilities. I missed many deer with my flintlocks only tagging two. Last year I did not get any deer. Some of the shots I took traditionally would have been a “down-deer.” Trips to the eye doctor didn’t help despite numerous test on the eyes.  Last summer I contacted specialist about Lasik-surgery. I wasn’t a candidate. A friend suggested peep sights. I could readily see an advantage, but I wasn’t ready to place a more modern style of sight on my traditional rifle named, Old Jacob. Last year’s mishaps eventually forced a discussion with an avid flintlock shooter. (Old Jacob was a custom-made rifle of the Andrew Verner school of gun building. He lived in eastern Pennsylvania and created this style of stock. during the latter part of the seventeen-hundreds.)

I visited a friend, Curt Boal. He is the owner of a black powder shop near Fenelton, Pennsylvania. His shop is: Curt’s Blackpowder Shop. Visit: http://www.curtsblackpowdershop.com

Our discussion led me to decide to do a peep sight mounting. This morning, (April 2019) I picked up Old Jacob and I agreed with him that the sight looked good on the flinter. This peep sight is not a modern-style sight of today, but more in line with something found on an earlier rifle of the nineteenth century. The sight sets close on the barrel. I guess I can live with this. Fact is, I have to live with it or give up shooting and hunting deer.

To compensate for my feelings on this style of sight, I simply tell myself the colonial hunter would have had a peep sight if that knowledge of them would have been available.

Thank you Curt for a fine job!

 

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