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Archive for the ‘Misc. Nature’ Category

Messed Up!

Jeremiah and sheepshead mushrooms

I met my step father, Bob for some hunting time. We set up in the darkness at two different sites. There was frost in some areas meaning the temperatures had to be around the freezing point. The day was very windy.

Frost

I was watching a doe at around sixty yards. (Two other deer were about ninety yards.) I was wondering if the closest deer would move closer to me. I

Bull Thistle in mid-October

would soon find out…NO! Bob shot at a deer. The doe I was watching stood at attention only to unnerve and run away from me. I went to Bob to find out his flintlock had a hang fire and he began to drop the barrel only to have the sounds of Ka-Boom occur. (A hang fire is when the pan powder goes off followed by the flintlock. The shot is possibly a half second or more after the pan power ignites.)  

We set up a short time to watch for deer and had no luck. Bob moved to a favorite log and I circled to move through thick crabapples and dogwoods.  I spotted the doe at around twenty yards. She was feeding, but all I could see were her back legs and head and neck. Suddenly, she raised he head and gawked directly at me. We eyeballed each other before she turned away not offering me a shot. At around thirty yards she turned and was broadside to me. However, much of her body was behind honeysuckle cover.

I readied the smoothbore and she moved. I knew one more step and I would not be seeing the deer. I hurried the shot and shot over her back. Bob saw her go past.

I was getting warm since the temps reached over fifty degrees and I was thinking of quitting early. (Bob had already left around 10:15.) I was almost to the jeep when I spotted a feeding doe. I stalked her waiting for an opening to shoot. At about thirty yards I shot and hit her brisket area. I was disgusted with myself. How did I fail such a shot.  I spent just shy of two hours searching for the deer to no avail. Sign was almost non-existent. Once I determined to end the search I quit hunting for the day.                                                                                                      

I saw less squirrels this day and only thirteen deer. I did see three Woodcock and a few turkeys. I found five Sheepshead mushrooms, but didn’t pick any for I already had some in the freezer. I think my next hunt will be the flintlock rifle.

 

 

Hiding rabbit

 

 


 

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This day turned out much better than a recent Saturday morning hike.  That hike was one where I was walking about an hour. I could hear either the rustling of leaves due to an oncoming breeze or the approaching onslaught of rain. The second option was the result and I knew it.

 

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

I closed in tight under some hemlock trees. Fifteen minutes later the rain was soaking me. I leaned tight against an oak and did not improve the   drenching. I made an executive decision and pranced off towards the jeep. I was drenched by the time I gained entrance into the jeep. I turned the heater on with the fan on full. Needless to say the flintlock shooting plans with my step-father, Bob were to be cancelled.

This week we planned the shoot again. The plans were similar for I was going to hike early and meet at the Cherry Run Gun, Rod and Reel Club to shoot some. Originally I wasn’t going to shoot for an ongoing eye issue I have been having. However, I gathered my flinter named, Old Jacob and decided I was shoot a few rounds.

Those of you who have been following my posts may remember of serious focusing issues while hunting deer last year. This past summer I talked with specialists concerning Lasik surgery. I was disappointed to learn I was not a candidate for the operation. I recently visited my eye doctor and have new glasses to be arriving this week…at least I am hoping. I am getting a special anti-reflective lens this time to help, hopefully, with my low-light seeing.

I enjoyed the morning time to reflect on my life and remember about my Uncle Carl Smail. I usually think about him as the hunting season comes along. He died in 1976 at 48 years of age while hunting waterfowl at Keystone Dam in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. I arrived at the dam to see the fireman bringing him out of the woods. A very bad time for me!

 

Bob with his Thompson-Center Flintlock

I was blessed to see several deer and about six turkeys on this jaunt.

I arrived to see Bob waiting. The shooting began. I need to say my shots would have all been fatal on a deer, but each shot took twenty to thirty

Cherry Run

seconds of careful sighting. The front sight and the rear sight are blurry and seeing the front sights position in regard to the rear sight is very difficult. A friend had me almost convinced to place peep sights on my flintlocks, but I have yet to make such a move. My flintlocks are custom-made firearms and are historically accurate. I can’t bear putting the sight on…yet!

 

 

 

Huge Sycamore

 

Skunk cabbage for next spring

 

 

Muskrat droppings

 

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Land stage of the Red-Spotted Newt.

We sure had a lot of rain stemming from the movements of Tropical Storm Gordon. I can’t say exactly how many inches of water fell, but a local paper had over five inches of moisture on Armstrong County. The creek below the house rose over its banks  and as write this entry the yard is very soggy. THERE WILL BE NO MOWING THIS WEEK! On Monday I saw a gobbler behind the house and a ‘possum at night. I haven’t seen my rabbits since the rain began to fall. Did they float downstream?

 

Foggy river hillside

This morning was in the fifties, but the humidity must have been up for my time afield was damp. I was exploring additional lands within a local state game lands.

Monarch Caterpillar

I arrived fairly early once I saw the weather forecast. No rain they said. Well, I felt something wet falling several different times throughout the morning. The wetness must have been my imagination, I guess! Thick fog moved about during the morning whenever weather conditions were just right.

 

 

Old rusty gas shanty

The exploratory mission had me seeing some areas I had never been before. High hills, steep hills bordering the Allegheny River and some deep valleys. I saw lots of Autumn Olive  trees loaded with berries. Those berries will be relished by everything from small birds to bear in short order.

 

Vultures

One interesting discovery were five different Red-Spotted Newts along the rim of the steep hill. The newts are the land stage  and they will become aquatic later. I saw six or so deer throughout my morning jaunt. I only saw one squirrel. A Cooper’s Hawk fluttered from a high tree. At one site I saw vultures flying around, but five were settled in an old snag trying to keep dry enough for future flights.

Field of Goldenrods.

I saw a few Monarch Caterpillars on Milkweed stalks. I guess they survived the deluge well.

 

Fog over the Allegheny River

 

White Snakeroot

 

On a sad note, we must remember the terrible disaster that occurred this day seventeen years ago. The Twin Towers were struck by terrorists. The Pentagon was struck by terrorists and the saving of some planned attack by the terrorists due to the actions of very brave AMERICANS on Flight 93.  WE must never forget!!!!

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Good Morning Fog

September 1st and I am heading out for a walk about a local game lands. I wanted to make a circle around the property to beat the coming humid conditions and rising temperatures.

I spotted a familiar puss as I entered into the game lands. I stopped the jeep to talk about twenty minutes to my friend, Frank “Muskie” Maus. he was walking the roadway. We caught up on a few subjects and we went our merry ways.                                                                    

The humidity was already making some early morning fog which made for my eye glasses to steam up quickly.  I noticed how the wildflower season is quickly coming to a close. the goldenrods will be in full bloom shortly and many Asters are in flower.  White Snakeroot and Boneset are in blossom, too. The frost season could come anytime now, but not next week. The weather people are talking of some ninety degree days  for next week. Also, the Yellow and Black garden Spiders always are late in the summer to build their intricate webs.

I saw two turkeys and a Gray squirrel on today’s venture.

Yellow and Black garden Spider

 

 

 

Boneset

 

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I had an early appointment in Natrona which allowed time to hike afterwards. I chose to hike on the Todd Nature Sanctuary lands to enjoy some woodland times. I arrived on site about 7:30 in the morning.

I followed a number of marked trails throughout the property. There are many older and larger trees scattered about with some fallen  logs as some

Indian Pipe Trail

trees age and succumb to death. A ravine flowing through the land features a beautiful waterways known as Watson’s Run. Much of the watercourse has big rocks surrounded by mature hemlocks. Another waterway is called Hesselgesser’s Run. These two streams intersect with small waterfalls. A walked one trail to the end. The trail was called Ravine Trail since it meandered back and forth across the Watson’s Run. In fact I stepped in water deep enough to fill my boot. All other times this stream was flowing with much lesser water.

A favorite place for me is the pond. There are lots and lots of frogs located here. Other visits have yielded herons and ducks, but this trip was void of birdlife.

Another trail is called Polypody Trail. There are a few large moss-covered rocks on site with Boulder ferns growing about. Many mushrooms and fungus were spotted since the summer of late has had much water and humidity. I wish I knew more of the species at times. I know I am passing up on some species that are edible, but I have enough uncertainty to not try them. the Sheepshead Mushrooms will be emerging soon and I know that specie well-enough to consume.

  I spent over two hours hiking and enjoying the sites. Lots of orb spiders with webs crossing across the trails at face-level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the colors and patterns

 

Hickory Nut hulls

 

Hazel Nut

 

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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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