Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

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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The view overlooking Paige Run and Red Run

After a rather rough night for sleep I had the tent packed and was on the road prior to sunrise. The eastern sky was illuminated and a nice day was to be reality.

Red Run

I stopped along the Quehanna Highway and walked back through the woods to, hopefully, hear some gobbling. I didn’t hear any turkey talk at all. I didn’t allow a lot of time to listen, for a had an agenda to follow. I wanted to be overlooking some deep hollows early to take advantage of the morning sun casting deep shadows. This should give up a few nice photo opportunities.

One of many deer sightings.

I walked along a trail to a huge rock where I could see a great distances. The sun was doing what I had hoped and I took a number of photos.

I followed this trail down over a steep and rocky hill until I could see, and hear, Paige Run. (Paige Run meets up with Red Run.) What a beautiful stream with fast waters cascading over many rocks. Rhododendrons added a much needed color contrast with the deep and lush greens. I climbed the hollow and eventually crossed the stream to head up the other side. I reached the top and noticed the sounds of the fast water were almost absent. Suddenly I heard it…a gobble way off! I listened until I knew the direction and you guessed it… the bird was across the big hollow I had just come out of. Off I went in reverse to see if I could locate this turkey.

 I heard the turkey once more as I entered the ridgeline from where the gobbling had occurred. I listened for a time and decided I should get to fishing. The first morning of trout season was already well on the way. I was to fish Red Run for native Brook Trout. There was one catch. (No pun intended.) I would not be fishing if the stream was crowded. I pulled over along the road to NO VEHICLES.  I was elated. The time was 9:30 in the morning.


Native Brook Trout

Action was fast. I began catching, and loosing, and missing Brook Trout immediately. I spent over two and a half  hours along the waters. I released all the trout. Native Brook trout never achieve and size in such streams, but that was fine with me for I was alone. Only two vehicles traveled the road during that time.

Wykoff Run

I was going to fish Jack Dent Run as I headed towards home only to find a lot of pressure on that stream. Apparently, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission had stocked these waters. I decided to travel slow on state forest roads to see what I could see and move on into Parker Dam to fish.

I arrived at Parker Dam and continued on. The people were everywhere fishing. I did some sketching for the upcoming painting before moving on towards home earlier than previously planned.







Reasons why my legs hurt!

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Table Falls on Paige Run

Most know I love walking and exploring. Hiking was to be a big part of my excursion into the wild area of Quehanna within the Moshannon State Forest.


Porcupine gnawings

I checked the two areas for Osprey activity. (See a previous post.) Following watching the Fish Hawks for a time I moved on to the  hollow featuring Wykoff Run. I debated on what might be in store for Wykoff Run during the next morning since the first day of Pennsylvania’s trout season was to begin. I quickly determines the fishermen would be prevalent. However, the Quehanna Trail crosses over so I decided to hike a few hours and explore the area.

This hike began by crossing Wykoff Run and continuing up a continual grade  following a hollow. Approximately one third of the way up the hollow the terrain quickly changed. ROCKS! The slopes on both sides of my ascent were covered with rocks.  There were still trees growing up here and there wherever seeds managed to find soil, but they woodlands here was not dense. However, once you look approximately forty to fifty yards one could see changes in the vegetation. The hill on my right while climbing had a distinct line of thick rhododendrons. The opposite side had more woodlands and hemlocks. I kicked out a grouse here and the bird flew into the mass of rhododendrons. I was surprised to see a Ruffed Grouse within such habitat.

Eventually I reached the summit of this mountain and the habitat again changed quickly. I know was seeing short leafless shrubs and masses of last years Hayseed Ferns. I continued on the trail eventually intersecting another trail called the Old Sinnemahoning Trail. I moved on for a distance before turning around to head back towards the jeep.                                                                    

I could hear something in the distance. With the windy conditions of this day I speculated if the sound s were from turkeys. The noises had a feel to me of turkey’s cackling and determining pecking orders. BUT, I knew that Wood Frogs can sound like distant turkeys. I have been fooled before on these reptiles. I eased along and realized I was hearing the frogs.  I visited a couple of these water holes on the mountain’s top. Besides the frogs many Red-spotted Newts could be viewed swimming about. I saw some tadpoles, also.

 I returned to the jeep several hours later and drove to Red Run Road. I walked several miles of the Quehanna Trail here, too.  I scrambled along to see parts of

Red-spotted Newt

Paige Run including the Table Falls. Paige Run intersects with Red Run making for a beautiful waterways with lots of cascading falls. (I would be exploring Paige Run higher up the mountainside tomorrow.)

I knew this Red Run would be holding native Brook Trout. I would be here tomorrow.

I had three long bearded gobblers gobbling at my calls. I managed a few photos despite the small trees making it hard to keep a good focus. I would later see a lone hen.

I saw five elk this day, but I didn’t get any good photos.

  I had a lot of problems as to where to pitch a tent for the night. You can’t tent on Quehanna Wildlands forest lands. You can’t pull along the road and sleep in a jeep either. Just a bout an hour before dark I bit the bullet and rented some space at Benezette. The Spring Peepers were just a few yards from my tenting experience. Sad to say the road noise that evening was tremendous. Also, sad to say I am in need of additional things to use while tenting. Air mattress will be purchased before any other tenting. By one thirty in the morning I was as the Princess and the Pea

Boulder Ferns

play. In the play a pea was placed under many mattresses. The reasoning for the pea was to determine if the lady to sleep on it was truly a princess. Her royal blood for feel that pea causing for a restless night. I felt everything so I must be a prince.

I did some field sketching while on this excursion. I am planning a painting that will feature rocks. I sketched and photographed reference photos of rock details. In fact the studying of rocks was a big reason I planned this adventure. (Expect a future entry on the painting.)                              

Turkey Vulture









Shagger’s Inn shallow water impoundment

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Last Snow?



Saturday, April 7, yielded a two inch blanket of fresh snow. I desired to get out early and take photos for the snow


wasn’t expected to be on the Pennsylvania landscape much into the day.

The wilds were beautiful as snow was covering everything. The scenes were likened unto a winter wonderland although officially we are a couple of weeks into the spring season.

The first tracks I saw were from the White-footed Mouse. A set of Weasel tracks were in that area, too. I wonder if the Weasel had a meal. Other tracks I had seen this morning were Deer; Coyote; Robins and Squirrels. I would only see three deer this day. Later I watched a turkey feeding in an open area where the snow had already melted.




Burdock seed pods

A lot of birdlife was viewed. Besides Robins many Juncos and Song Sparrows were out and about. I saw a pair of Mallard Ducks on a pond and a Great-Blue Heron. A Red-tailed Hawk finished the view. A number of crows, apparently, had an owl secured in a pine. The raucous they created would have waken up the dead, so to speak.

Red-tailed Hawk


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Along The Lake


Blue jay

Recently a need to get some fresh air surfaced and I went to walk along Crooked Creek lake in search of things of interest.

Bald Eagle nest

Much rain had occurred in past weeks allowing for back-up water at the dam. Remnants of this high water were viewed everywhere. sad to say, bottles and cans and other debris were left behind once the water receded. many limbs and logs were stationed at the high-water line. This happens most years with flooding.

I chose to mostly walk a trail called, Laurel Point Trail. However, I didn’t stay exclusively on this trail and purposely walked near the high-water line. I found some bobbers and lures among debris.

Porcupine gnawing.

I crossed Coal Bank Hollow Run through some shoe-gathering mud and walked along the slope where I could see the water readily. I saw some Common Mergansers and a few Hooded Mergansers enjoying their swim.

Coal Bank Hollow Run

I reached the point where the trail circled back, but I walked the ridgeline overlooking Crooked Creek. A bald eagle has an active nest across the watershed. The nest hasn’t been easy to see normally, but it appears to me the big birds may have added some limbs for I believe the nest is more easily spotted than past years. I could see Eagle activity at the nest and later heard the squawks form a mature eagle. I gathered some trash left behind on the ridgeline.


Ice Crystal Mushrooms

I would only see one deer on this trek.

Common Mergansers

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Nice sunny days were in store for a couple of days so I put the room remodeling project on hold to venture out to old haunts. The one haunt was Cochran’s Mill. This was a community in times past forced to abandon their homes and business. The reason the people of the past had to leave the area was due to the fact of the government building a flood control dam further downstream on the waterways known as Crooked Creek. Many stone foundation remnants are still present throughout the wooded area.

  As a young fellow, my parents and sister and I were present here to see the old Cochran’s Mill bridge  under water. The old bridge would flood annually as the Crooked Creek Dam would hold back water to control flooding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A new bridge was erected a short time ago and was erected higher than the old bridge. However, this new structure was flooded  with all the rain we have had in recent times. I wanted to visit this area this day. There are two bridges here. One was built new and another repaired in recent years.

As part of this day’s jaunt I elected to walk some of the Baker Trail which runs through the Cochran’s Mill area. One can walk along a steep and high hillside and view the flooding. Here I was fortunate to see a flock of turkeys flying over the watershed. The flock consisted of around twenty birds.

The common ties I have with this area are many. My mother Ruth Yount was raised about a mile or so south of this bridge near a place called locally, Rearick’s Ford. My father, Allen Smail was raised at the present-day Cherry Run intersection.  The Cherry Run Gorge flows between his home and joins Crooked Creek here at Cochran’s Mill. Many relatives lived along this Cherry Run watershed and Crooked Creek. I have fished in these waters many times. My dad and I would gather crayfish here to go and fish for bass.

I can honestly state I have been in every hollow and on every hill from my dad’s homestead to Cochran’s Mill. Today much of this area is posted.

Back in the day a famous writer named Elizabeth Cochran came from this long-gone community. Her per name was Nellie Bly.

Nellie Bly historical marker

I watched two Woodies fly over the waters and heard some Canada geese as well. Later, I ventured down stream some to visit a site named Robb’s Fording.

Cherry Run

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