My father, Allen Kenneth Smail was born on June 4, 1923, in a home along what is known as Mutton Hollow in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. This may have been the home of a midwife of the times for the Smail family residence was just north and east of the present-day Cherry Run Intersection. This home was only a mile and half or so from the Smail Home. (As I type this the old homestead is no more. The state has dozed it all over while changing that intersection.)

My dad went to the McIntosh School just east of their home. The old school is still standing. later he went to Elderton High School where he graduated as valedictorian in the spring of 1941.

Old McIntosh School

In December of 1941 he was in a car at what was then Reedy’s store. This store was a hundred or so yards past the McIntosh School. Here he heard on the radio of the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1942, my dad was drafted and would be involved on the European Theater until the fall of 1945 as a corporal. During the Battle of the Bulge of 1944, my father was at a gasoline depot in Belgium. His order was to blow the depot up if the Germans approached. He was to go up with the explosion if necessary! he told me he could hear the shooting in the distance before the Germans were stopped! He served as military police and had a German Shepherd dog named Wolf. the dog was trained to attack on command.

Upon his return he began working again at the Schenley Distillers in Schenley, PA. He had worked there a short time prior to the draft.

My dad married Ruth Elizabeth Yount in 1953. I was the firstborn on July 19, 1955 and my sister Ruthie Elaine was hatched on July 11, 1958.

My dad blessed me in so many ways. He instilled in me a love of nature…hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking…hunting morel mushrooms and Indian arrowheads. He gave to me an interest in history especially Indian history as well as World War 2 history.

My father was a man of integrity; honest and a quiet man and well-liked by all. I hope I possess some of his traits so others can see him through my actions.

He left his job in 1983 when the Schenley Distillery closed down for good, and he began to fish and hunt more. As to what happens to us all, he began to have health issues as he aged.

Allen Smail died on Father’s Day, June 20, 1999. I still miss him dearly!!!!!

My dad would have been 100 years old on June 4, 2023.

Yes, this is my back yard landscaping!

I have hunted few hours this spring gobbler season. The mornings I hunted were short due to coughing. However, I almost closed the deal twice on the few times I hunted. Both times were thwarted by the interference of real hens. The one time I had the shotgun leveled across my knee expecting to see that gobbler at any moment.

That story goes along well with this story. Recently, I was setting on the back deck when I noticed a hen turkey walking around the back yard. The bird walked about casually sometimes in the grassy areas and other times amongst my natural landscaping. I crept inside and called Laurie to see the turkey. She was visible for around an hour. I thought this viewing sure was interesting. I wondered if she may be nesting here. I did get plenty of photos of her.

Today she reappeared again in the yard. She stayed close in a grassy area, and I wondered what the attraction was with that spot. Eventually she wondered off stopping at the creek for a drink.

I looked around and didn’t see any poults or eggs, but I am convinced she must have a nest , possibly among the Skunk Cabbage and wetland vegetation across the creek. I will be watching for baby turkeys.

I stood in the cool, breezy twilight listening for gobble talk, but failed to hear any gossip. I became chilled at times for I was dressed light anticipating the warmer temperatures predicted for later in the morning. While standing and listening I was surprised to see a Coyote pass by at about thirty-five yards.

Eventually, I began circling about listening and calling.

I was shocked to see the gobbler, at first. The bird never gobbled and was coming close to me. The bird was about thirty feet distance at the closest. He scratched the leaf litter feeding and would occasionally go into a partial strut. The big debate was circling amidst my thoughts. Do I fill a tag? With all the asthma issues I had been struggling with, that thought seemed strong at times. I elected to shoot the legal gobbler with the camera. I shot him about twenty times with the Nikon.

The yearling JAKE sported a sharply, curled four, maybe five-inch beard. The beard is hard to see in the photos. I am happy I didn’t shoot the gobbler with the 870 shotgun.

I moved farther south and was disappointed once I reached the top. Acres and acres of the woodlands had been timbered out. I could not see this from the road for the steep hillside wasn’t cut. I called around anyway until I decided to head home for I had some commitments later. I found a turkey egg. I saw about six or seven deer. I found a couple of morels but I didn’t pick them.

Yikes… I am beginning to have the scratchy eyes. Are the allergies coming next? I know it will hit soon and more meds will be needed.

Wild Turkey Egg

Yes, my butt has been kicked! The first morning of the 2023 Pennsylvania Spring Gobbler Season had me calling a longbeard and two Jakes off the roost. Unfortunately, the scenario of the area did not allow a shot to be had. The birds went below me and within a Safety Zone area. That was all right for I had plenty of days to hunt not knowing what the following day had in store for me.

Sunday the asthma hit hard! I coughed, choked became extremely exhausted due to the expelled energy to cough so hard and not having much sleep. It is a scary thing to cough and choke so hard you can’t get your breath. So, I hunted very little. I did try a couple of mid-morning hours but failed. Coughing uncontrollably and gobbler hunting doesn’t make for a scene with much success.

I finally had a doctor appointment and was put on steroids. I am improving, thankfully. This morning I watched the sunrise and heard two gobblers, but both were not near to me at all, however, I was enjoying the morning with little coughing.

One humorous story of the morning was an encounter with a flock of, at least, ten gunieas. The noisy birds’ home is the landowner’s sons home but they travel all around the fields. I tried to put a legal beard on some but failed to do so.

Baby Red-tailed Hawk in nest.

Yellow Warbler

Mollusk in a deer track

Mayapple Blossom


Wild Geranium

A few photos of deer and turkeys from recent time afield.

Sunrise in the fog.

White Trillium

In 2020 during the complete shutdown of America, Laurie and I hiked the Rock Furnace Trail located in southern Armstrong County. We were discussing in 2019 of a possible cruise for our Twenty-five wedding anniversary. Eventually, we decided to not chance the trip due to the possibility of my stepfather, Bob Miller passing away due to cancer. That decision was sure the right decision for in March, when the trip was being planned, the ocean cruise ships were stopped on the ocean. they were not allowed to port. We would have been on one of those ships!

So, to compensate for the decision to not take a cruise we did some hiking and sightseeing. The above trail was one of those choices. We enjoyed dour time together on that hike. We, both enjoy the beauty of wildflowers, and the trail does not disappoint.

Recently we walked the trail again. the stream, Roaring Run parallels the trail. This stream has been recently classified as a stream of naturally occurring Brown Trout. The trout are reproducing!

Purple Trillium

Some areas along the trail produce literally thousands upon thousands of White Trillium plants.

I discovered this nesting hen.

I had some worms and I decided to spend a little time on Buffalo Creek to see if the trout were biting. No luck. There was an insect hatch, and I would occasionally see a swirl as a hungry trout gulped one down. I fished approximately thirty-five minutes before my morel-hunting hike began. Along the stream I saw a pair of kingfishers fluttering back and forth emitting their rattling calls. I saw a pair of Canada Geese flying over. As I used a leaning tree for support while casting, I notice a Wood Turtle submerged along the shoreline. I managed one photo before the turtle entered the tree’s root mass.

Wood Turtle

The walk began upslope on a township road before diagonally walking through the woods in search of morel mushrooms. Eventually along the horizon line I would see seven deer in total, three Jakes and a longbeard.

The view from the summit.

I turned downward and reentered the woods. Here I would spot the nesting hen. I didn’t get too close for fear of disturbing her. I took some various wildflower photos while descending the hill. By ten o’clock the temps were hitting very warm degrees.

Coltsfoot seed pods.

The blossom of our native Wild Ginger. This blossom is always at ground level.

Bob Miller with a fall gobbler I called in to him.

Robert lee Miller came into the family’s life some time ago. He became interested with my mother, Ruth Smail and after I encouraged her, she went out on a dinner date with Bob. My mother had no interest with seeing any others since my father death in 1999. The two were married in my backyard gazebo in August of 2009. (Interestingly, I had to give my approval of this marriage.)

Bob was born on October 12, 1934 and lived in Dixonville, Pennsylvania in Indiana County until he later moved to Ohio for his job. His first wife died from cancer and Bob began traveling back to his home ground areas visiting campgrounds to be with friends and listen to the music.

The family all became close with Bob, and he treated my mother and us kids very well.

Hunting became an interest with Bob. He said, more than once, he had not hunted all that much until he became part of this family. Bob harvested his first spring gobbler and first fall gobbler while together on turkey hunts. He managed to get some deer on our hunts, as well.

Bob holding one of my spring gobblers. He was proud of my harvests.

One of Bob’s interests was with old cars. His 1954 Chevy Belair won a number of car shows places, mostly first place. The car still has only 26,000 original miles on it.

My mother with Bob at one of the car shows. The 1954 Chevy Belair is a beauty.

Bob loved country music, especially the classics of his era. He played a little guitar and loved to sing. I tried to work with him on some timing issues and actually made two CDs with him. I did all the music, and he sang on them. He and my mother followed me with the varied bands I had played music with over the many years. (He was at a music event I had played at one week before he was signed up with hospice care.)

Bob faced some bad events in his recent years. In December of 2018, a huge poplar tree fell grazing him knocking him to the ground with a very bad ankle break. We were hunting deer. I called 911 and he spent a number of days in the hospital and in therapy. In the spring of 2019, another event occurred that would affect all of the family’s lives. He had a growth and by summer it was discovered he had rectal cancer.

The aggressive form of cancer allowed for only living six to eight months without chemo. The chemo kept Bob alive but wore him down with time. He managed to live although the side effects were making him weaker and weaker. In December of 2022 the chemo was stopped, and the cancer began to, once again, act aggressively upon his body. He became even weaker to the point where walking was difficult. I, as the power of attorney, signed for hospice care in April of this year. In fact the signing was this past Monday. The decline continued and fast.

Hunting deer

Shooting a muzzleloader

Under hospice care, Bob eventually succumbed to the cancer attack. He passed away late on April 13, 2023 at home.


During the processes of making audio CDs, I have used my telecaster guitar with effects to mimic the sounds of a mandolin on past efforts. A couple of weeks ago I spotted this beauty on a counter and the price was not bad. I debated at first but was encouraged to purchase by my wife, Laurie.

I know some chords and have been practicing playing lead notes as I learn the note positions.

A strange reality came about after I returned home with this instrument. I spotted the paper that had been removed from the string package. I was shocked when I saw a date when the strings were changed along with my initials. I had changed these strings for somebody, but I am not sure who the person was. I have an inkling, but the man had dies several years ago. I hope to find out more on this to juggle my memory with certainty. Can you say Twilight Zone????