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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

Beech grove

I enjoy snow-covered times to hike. I always attempt to head out in the evening to walk occasionally. Sometimes these evening walks catch me not arriving back until darkness has overtaken the woods. But that is great and yields a special feeling of nostalgia with me for I often did such travels even in my youth.

I had some memories of the site shown in these photos. This site was the very last time I had my Springer Spaniel for a winter walk some years ago. The dog was rapidly approaching blindness, but she still had the vigor to enjoy walking with the old man. However, she was running into tangled brush and trees so often that I realized this was getting dangerous for her. A sad time.

Beech leaves

The Beech trees shown in the photo carry last year’s leaves throughout winter until te time of new leaf growths begin. The orange leaves make for a nice contrast against the snow.

One photo shows Holly leaves. I only saw one such shrub and wondered just how this plant started.

Holly

I walked around as the darkness crept along arriving back to the jeep close to dark. A rain had begun to fall by this time. I would see a total of eight deer.

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Immature Bald Eagles. (Notice the Common Merganser in the rear bird’s talons.)

The mid-morning through early afternoon was brisk. The temperature was somewhere in the lower twenty degree mark. But, I wanted to get out and walk around some and look for Bald Eagles. I was heading to Crooked Creek Park.

I bundled up and set along the bank for about an hour and watching four immature eagles the entire time. Photo opportunities were not the best for the most part, but I certainly enjoyed watching a bird that was considered close to extinction during the time of my youth. What a remarkable comeback!.

This ground area in forefront is usually water-covered. The water here is the original creek bed.

Eventually, I packed up and drove to another place to explore. I could see in the upper area of the back up waters a large ground area. This area of exposed ground is normally not present. In recent times a small island with young trees had shown up, but what I was seeing far off was ground from the island area touching the shoreline. This needed investigated.

I walked the shoreline until I reached where a small tributary enters into the lake. I could see ice all about and began walking out into the newer ground area. I could hear the ice crunching and occasionally I would sink in an inch or so, but I kept moving along.

The ground area is normally covered with water.

Not unexpecting the next scenario, I felt my right leg immediately sink into the depth of the mud slightly over my knee. My left leg due to my body shifting to the right didn’t sink, but bent and only went in a few inches. Somehow I managed to get myself from this potential issue safely. Afterwards, I went back to the shoreline and walked more until the ground mass seemed more firm. I began walking on it again, but more cautiously.

So, I thought of future boaters using the dam and finding my sun-bleached bones sticking up out of the ground surface. Of course, if normal water level occurred then even then I would not be found, however, I am only kidding about this.

I really wanted to get across to see the original creek flow of Crooked Creek. This area would have been underwater for many years and, in my weird way, I wanted to go there which I did. I had to be observant for various places were soft under the ice so I had to move around seeking such areas to avoid.

In this area, close to the eagle’s nest, I saw five eagles including mature birds.

Hedgeapple

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Extra Photos

Here is a varied group of photos to see. I think I may be caught up with all the entries I intend to use.

Teasels

Thrush

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Last fall, I went to Keystone Lake in Armstrong County to hike along the shoreline. The water in the lake is very low thus offering an opportunity to see the lake with a different perspective.

There were a lot of various forms of birdlife utilizing the water.

Greater Yellowlegs

Plenty of memories swept through my minds as I walked along. Many times my dad and I fished these waters in days past. I remember one extremely foggy first day of bass season when hearing a low volume boat motor. Suddenly, my line went taut and pole bent towards the water. I heaved expecting a huge fish only to find the fishermen trolling close to shore had tangled my line with there line.

A much sadder memory occurred that day as well. I ventured in the area where my Uncle Carl died in 1976 while hunting waterfowl. We arrived as he was being brought out of the woods.That was a memory I cared to not have.

A few of the many photos have been included below.

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Unquestionably my most favorite time to hunt deer is with the flintlock rifle. “OLD JACOB” is the name christened to him in honor of the Kit-Han-ne war chief, Captain Jacob. He was a Delaware warrior during the French and Indian War and was killed in 1756 in, what is now, Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

OLD JACOB is fifty caliber flintlock rifle made in the Andre Verner style from the latter eighteenth century. This particular rifle has taken more deer than I can remember.

The primitive season always begins on the day after Christmas. I am almost exclusively alone in most areas I hunt. Another reason to enjoy the season.

This year I harvested two deer within the season. The first one went approximately a hundred yards and the second one moved about fifteen yards. I butchered them myself and this year made all the meat into burger. I kept some meat back for jerky.

I saw a lot of deer this season with seven hammer cocked scenarios. Most non-hunters can not believe I can be as close as eighteen steps away to thirty steps and not get the shot. Much can happen when deer are close. One problem is getting the rifle up to the shoulder without being spotted. Terrain and underbrush ca, also, bring about failure to shoot.

I did see one buck in the season, but I believe he was a six-point which is illegal to shoot in Pennsylvania. The last day was January 18th. I told my wife I was only going to go hunting if the ground was white and it snowed. Around ten-o’clock while still hunting I spotted a doe feeding at about thirty yards. I prepared for the shot when my thoughts abrupted me into deciding I didn’t want to shoot the deer. I allowed it to walk broadside offering a great shot. I am totally satisfied with the decision. I went home to work at cleaning the firearm.

One other day found my sights on a doe. Two of this year’s fawns came up behind kicking their legs into the air in a playful mood. I didn’t shoot.

A shed.

Fox Squirrel

Hickory Hulls

Old Jacob and my possibles bag with homemade powder horn.

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Reasons to Hike!

One can initiate many reasons to go out for a woodland hike. Time afield could be for scouting for a big buck or turkey and bear activity if hunting is on your mind. One could be out searching for mushrooms in season. Some could go for exercise and others simply to take photos of the natural world and wildlife. I have been doing all, but I have been walking for other reasons, also.

Dogwood Berries

Monday I came home from a walk in a familiar hunting area. I didn’t find any Sheepshead mushrooms, but I did see some deer and turkeys and lots of squirrels. the mast-producing trees such as the oaks, dogwoods, wild grapes, crabapples and hickories were abundant with their crops this season.

I saw one spike buck with a doe early into this walk and later saw two additional bucks. The bigger of those two deer produced fuzzy images as he walked through the pines not allowing any time to get fully focused. the second buck above cooperated very well.

Wild Grapes
Acorns

Another reason for my hikes is to reflect on issues in my life. This year has been rough on me from a stress-level. The Covid-19 hysteria angers and disgusts me. All the goal-post moving and unconstitutional “mandates'” irritates to me to no end. And all of this for a virus no worse than the yearly flu. The survival rate is over 99%. I refuse to hear of this new normal.

Let us getting back to the reasons for my walking. I am. potentially, facing a health issue for myself and will be seeing a specialist soon. So my time afield, also, has me praying as I walk along.

I have found in times of feeling low something always happens to alter my thoughts. In a recent hike while feeling poorly, I looked to my right and a flock of turkeys were feeding within shotgun range and the birds were not aware of my presence. I was happy to witness this event.

Crabapple

Yesterday morning I went to another site to reflect and think and pray. A frost was upon the woodlands in the early hours, but the rising sun would quickly warm up the air. I saw some doe and two bucks. Again, I was feeling a little low when I heard some clicking sounds. I turned to my right and I saw a buck approximately thirty yards away. A second buck was immediately behind the first.

As I watched them trying to get a photo through the abundant fall foliage they began to spar with their antlers. I thought this is a site you don’t see often.

He spotted me!

Both deer were feeding along as well and were moving towards this game land trail. I eased behind a tree hoping to not be spotted and it worked.

The front buck appeared on this open area and I managed several photos before he spotted something amiss. With his focus upon me the sound of the camera alerted him and he soon exited the site.

Later I would see two young deer in a field and they allowed me with some photo ops.

I am out of here!

However, this walk had another issue on my mind. I had found the day before my step-father, Bob Miller’s cancer has reemerged. So, I needed to begin planning for the future with this issue.

As you can see how can one be down with seeing bucks sparring and the rays of light emerging through the trees.

Northern Hog Suckers

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Bottle Gentian

Those three days in the north country went fast. The weather was great, but we needed to begin or thoughts towards returning home this day.

  Early in the morning while Laurie was preparing herself for the day, I ventured downslope to the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek. Most areas of areas I walked showed the distress from the lack of rain.  the water was very low, and as the First Fork one could walk across the creek using exposed rocks. A few photos are included here.

Later, in the morning our departure led us through Medix Run. This creek was lower than I had even seen it. I hope holdover trout can survive.  We  stopped at the Shagger’s water Impoundment hoping to see some Ospreys and bald eagles, but the site was barren of the birds this day.   

Our trip towards home continued with time at Parker Dam State Park. Here we were prepared to do some hiking. Laurie became tired and elected to set on a park swing and read a book while I spent more time hiking. The trail I chose to explore had wetlands created by past Beaver activities. I saw some Brook trout.

I noticed a vivid blue partially hidden among the various wetland grasses. The blue was from a native wildflower known as the Bottle Gentian. (See photo above.)

The three days went fats and I was saddened to head towards home. Wildlife was abundantly viewed during these days. We saw plenty of Elk, Deer and three flocks of turkeys. We saw squirrels including Black squirrels. We saw two Ruffed Grouse, a rarity in these days. We saw a beautiful Bald eagle, Mergansers and Cormorants. I believe I had a glimpse of a Black Bear in the vegetation for I saw black for a moment.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

 

Parker Dam forest

 

Shagger’s Impoundment

 

 

 

Wetlands

 

 

 

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The area of the Sinnemahoning has always held a powerful and special feeling with me since I first saw the beauty in my younger days. Since those days of many years ago I have been enthralled by the majesty of the beautiful mountains and deep hollows. My recent time in the area still provoked those same feelings of grandeur.

Technically the area is the watershed of the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning. The name Sinnemahoning came from the Indian word, “Achsinnimahoni.”  The word in their language meant “stony lick.”  

  Tremendous labor occurred on these steep and high mountains during the 188 era. I mentioned to Laurie, as we hiked. in wonderment as to how those men of that time managed to remove huge, virgin timber using non-powered saws and axes. Afterwards, those humongous logs had to be removed! the unfortunate side of those years resulted in mud slides, erosion, and wildfires from the denuding of the timber on the steep slopes.

In 1955, the George Stevenson Dam was constructed to control flooding along the west branch of the Susquehanna River farther down stream. This  dam has created a small back-up of water used by boats and fishermen and women, today.                                                                                     

I have fished various native trout stream tributaries and hunted for bear and small game over the years. A couple of years ago, I slept in a tent in November. The park office people couldn’t believe I was going to be in a tent in very cold weather.  There was not any other people in the area at all.

We were blessed to see a Bald eagle just over our heads. The white of he bird glowed in the un as it flew over. I wasn’t prepared with my camera. WE, also, saw a flock of turkeys of about fifteen, or so, birds. Other wildlife included Cormorants and Mergansers.

  I walked along the creek for a time amazed at the lack of water flow. I had never seen the Sinnemahoning this low. Many placed offered enough exposed rocks to walk across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roseate Skimmer

 

 

 

Long Dash Skipper

 

 

 

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Cross on the Hill

Sometime in July, I believe, a friend sent along a notice of her new endeavor. She was working on a lodge to rent to people. the name of the lodge was to be, BULL ELK LODGE.  Laurie and I decided a trip  north might be a great thing for us and now we had a place to potentially stay. I contacted Marcy Manning and planned a stay-over for the latter half of September. In fact, we were the first to use the lodge. at the beginning of the week of September 21st. See photos of the lodge below and the Bull Elk Lodge website.

We heard coyote yipping and howling two evenings while at the lodge. I heard a gobbler across the hollow on one morning and saw five deer within easy bow range just outside the door.

Freedom Bell at Mount Zion Historic Park

Ours three days to this country was quite enjoyable. I took Laurie to see some various sites of the area. We went to the Cross on the Hill site and visited the nearby Mount Zion Historic Park. The park recognizes local war veterans of the area. After we arrived at the lodge and prepared our “stuff” for our stay, we hiked on the Fred Woods Trail. We met a couple on their way out of the trail when they reported seeing a lethargic rattlesnake was back the trail towards the area of the huge rocks. From that point on Laurie and I didn’t hold hands as I was placed on point! Unfortunately we failed to fins the snake. I heard something over the hill’s rim and saw black moving amid the vegetation. I can’t say with one-hundred percent certainty, but I may had glimpsed a bear. A separate entry will be placed on the Fred Woods Trail.

Top of the Hill view.

Evening was coming rapidly as we went to the Top of the Mountain viewing area to see the view of the Pennsylvania mountains. What a beautiful site to behold.

If Interested with learning more on Bull Elk Lodge check out the link below. 

 

HOME | Bull Elk Lodge
BULLELKLODGE.WIXSITE.COM
HOME | Bull Elk Lodge
Bull Elk Lodge Interior Images.

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Golden Rod

Yes, the summer season for the year 2020 is heading down the road to the autumn season.  Recently, this past week, I went for a walk to a state game lands pond approximately a mile back in. I obtain the benefits of walking plus fishing during one excursion. I have placed posts from fishing this pond in the past. I enjoy catching Carp on light tackle or even a flyrod.

One observation being very prominent this past week were the end-of-season wildflowers. Yes, with the golden fields of the Goldenrods the frosts can’t be far away, in fact, as I type this on  September 18, frost watches and warnings are being forecasted for counties north of SR 422. This land area includes northern Armstrong County where I reside. Oh well it is the last half of September.

Turtlehead Wildflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Aster

 

Spotted Jewelweed

 

Bullhead Catfish

Dew-laden Mullein leaves

This excursion yielded two flocks of turkeys, one deer, a flock of Canada Geese and a very brief glimpse of a Black Bear at about thirty yards. The fishing wasn’t too bad either for I landed some Bullhead Catfish. I lost a few Carp due to the four pond test line on my light tackle rod and reel.

Buffalo Creek

 

 

Yellow Jewelweed 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday of this past week found my walking shoes along Buffalo Creek looking for whatever I could find to observe. I found a Red-spotted Newt. (Removed a Box Turtle from the road, too.)

 

 

 

 

 

Red-spotted Newt

 

Cocklebur

 

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