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Archive for November, 2022

The 2022 Bear Season

Armstrong County had snow for the first day of the 2022 Pennsylvania Black Bear season. That is a rare thing! I decided to hunt an area with a mile long hollow with clear cut acreage. My plan was simple enough. get in the area and before daylight and search for bear tracks in the hollow or crossing the hollow. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work for no tracks were observed.

I pondered the bear season this year. I have been seeing very little mast crops in the woodlands. That fact often, instinctively, makes bear “hole up” early. The lone bear hunter has bear hunting tough enough and this situation may make the hunting harder.

One of three flocks of swans I heard and viewed flying over.

I ended up tramping ninety-eight percent of the seven hours in the woods. I never found a track.

I did see some deer and pheasants.

I didn’t hunt Sunday and Monday of the bear season. However, Tuesday had me fighting an urge to go out again.

I was surprised upon seeing snow on northern slopes. Anyplace shielded from the sun held some snow pockets. I found rather fresh bear tracks and began to employ strategies hoping to find it. I had major issues due to the lack of snow on easterly and southern slopes. I still hunted the woods watching below and ahead. This wasn’t easy for the infamous Multiflora Roses brambles were very common. being quiet was not going to happen anytime I was in the masses.

Although indistinct this is a bear track.

Eventually I circled across the hollow back to a northern slope. I found the bear’s tracks again. the bruin was heading low along the creek bottom. What a tangled mess!

As you might expect the tracks left the snow area while the last tracks were heading onto the southern and snowless slope, My bear hunt ended.

The snow was gone to the left of the photo. This is the creek bottom where the tracks were lost.

I saw some deer and found turkey tracks…approximately ten birds.

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Gobblers Galore

NOVEMBER 4

I parked the jeep and began the walk along a township road. It was very black out, but in the sky was the constellation, Orion, the hunter. I wondered where any turkeys might be located along the hillside running alongside the road. I crossed a tributary to Cherry Run and worked a right-a-way towards the top. The hillside is steep, but the right-a-way goes along diagonally up the hill almost to the top.

As I approached the top the obvious lighting of the pe-dawn moments could be easily noticed. I remembered a time when my stepfather, Bob Miller and I walked this very same journey. I remember stopping to allow him to get his breath and immediately saw a flock of turkeys just above us. He would get a gobbler later in the morning.

Interestingly, very close to this spot I heard a series of raspy putts. I had been seen from a roosted gobbler; I surmised due to the sound of the alarm putt. I continued to the top and circled behind where I heard the turkey. My intention at this time was to wait until I hear a bird and move quickly to break up the flock. The eastern horizon was beginning to move fast towards dawn, but I clucked anyway. I heard a response.

I set the shotgun down and was about to lower my shoulder bag in preparation for a breakup when three gobblers opened up to my right but down over the hill. My bad decision was about to happen. I moved towards the gobblers instead of trying for a break. I went a short distance and called, and gobblers began gobbling form both sites! I still could have broken up the first flock but decided to set down between to try to call in either flock. Could be an interesting hunt.

The gobbling continued on their own and to my calling. I felt confidence that something positive would happen, but I was wrong. The gobblers to my left flew down hill and moved to join the other gobblers to my right. However, I wasn’t aware of this initially so I quickly zig-zagged along the flats trying to locate and break.

I quickly returned and the birds to my right and they still answered my calls. I even heard a hen with them, too. I circled and came in from behind hoping to locate and break. The next time they answered my calling they had moved across the Cherry Run Road and the creek and were now gobbling and fighting like crazy low on the opposite hill.

I circled again, crossing the township and state roads and the creek. I moved at an angle before beginning to travel to my right and hopefully above them. I failed they had moved faster than I and had gone up and over the crest of the hill. I know this because I found scratchings and fecal matter. The top is posted.

I was disappointed with myself and failings to break up the early morning flock. I arrived back to the jeep with the noon hour approaching along with temperatures into the sixties. I was warm.

I saw some deer including the buck in the photo. I saw a beautiful Red Fox, too.

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(DONNIE SMAIL)

My cousin, Donnie (a.k.a. Weasel) went hunting fall turkeys on the first morning of the 2022 Fall turkey Season. We haven’t been able to hunt much in the last few years due to issues in his life preventing our get together hunts. Unfortunately, Donnie would need to leave around ten o’clock for a needed task.

We met in the dark deciding on a plan to hunt these morning hours. I would go to the end of the field, and he would stop at mid-point. We were going to listen for roosting birds in the woodlands below the field.

At my position a number of crows began cawing early. Maybe they had an owl in their sights. However, I called periodically and at one point I thought I may have heard a reply of yelps way down the hill. The din of cawing birds made a positive identification slim. However, I met up with Donnie and told him I was going down over and work towards him hoping to find a flock. I failed to find any birds.

I was surprised to find the carcass of a gobbler. Of course, I wondered what had happened to the bird.

(Gobbler remains)

Later I saw an immature Bald Eagle flying past. I was lucky to capture a pic.

After my cousin left, I went to the hillside across a township road. I walked upon a flock of gobblers. I tried for a break. I sat and called and listened for two hours and decided to call it a day.

(Immature Bald Eagle)

MONDAY, OCTOBER 31

I watched the weather closely and rain was happening but supposed to slack off early. believing the weatherman, I took off. I reached the top of the hill when the rain began. The water fell for two hours completely soaking the hunt. That was alright for I needed to stop at my mother’s home and try to make temporary repairs on her car that my sister wrecked. I then followed the car around to get work planned for repairs.

(American Chestnut)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1

I arrived extra early for the climb to the top was along trek. I reached to listening point and heard nothing. However, once I called the turkey chatter became common. the birds were on the roost but low on the side of a very steep hill. My dilemma was to try to call them all in after they left the roost or move in down the slope on very wet leaves. I decide to not try going for a breakup. This was a bad decision with hindsight.

Once I realized my initial plan was not going to happen, I circled and went down slope at an angle believing I would soon run into them. I reached the bottom of the hollow and began a diagonal trek in an attempt to find the birds. I met another turkey hunter and we chatted some. He didn’t see them walking through anywhere. He had to go home, and I continued with my plan. I didn’t go very far when I saw an archer in the tree. I apologized and aborted my plan to continue on.

I went the opposite way in case my gut feeling was incorrect. No birds!

(A huge flock of Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds must have stretched a quarter of a mile.)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2

I made the steep trek up the hill hoping to locate the turkeys again. I would fail to see or hear any turks. I did see a coyote. Most of the morning was very foggy.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3

This was to be a short morning to hunt. I stopped at my mothers to take care of the garbage before going hunting. I tramped around searching for turkeys. I spotted a blackness about eighty yards or so ahead of me and quickly realized I was seeing a gobbler. There would be five of them. I called and received a few answers, but they wouldn’t come downslope through the Multiflora Rose. They began to work away, and I knew I had to try for a break.

I laid the shotgun and shoulder bag on the ground along with my hat and outer camo top. I slowly moved uphill until the one tom spotted me and started to react, I was had. I took off as fast as an asthmatic, old fart could go. The birds stayed together moving over the crest and across a field behind a home. The hunt was over.

I returned to my mother’s home for brunch and eventually take my sister to the bank and car repair shop. The car, although not completed, was now ready to drive.

(Remains of an old stone fence)

I was blessed to hear Screech Owls three times so far. I saw lots of deer, squirrels and even several rabbits.

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