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Exploring Some new Land

I took an early trip to northern Butler County to explore some more lands I had never been to hike. the land was State Game Lands 95 between Boyers and West Sunbury. The early darker hours had some very thick foggy areas that delayed my arrival plans, but that was not to bad. What delayed my arrival more than the early conditions was uncertainty as to where I needed to locate. I had some issues finding the parking areas at first, but eventually I unraveled the site.

I parked near a dam known as the Glades Dam Lake. This lake is a shallow site of about two and a half miles. The Pennsylvania Game Commission had signs placed all along the trail I was to walk. The area along the dam was a state propagation area and entry is always prohibited. I decided to go on and walk the trail to see what sights would be discovered.

After some time I entered a limestone road which led me to a parking and boat launching site. I crept through the treeline along this area and could get to the water’s edge. Here I saw some Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons. I was blessed to watch an Osprey dive into the water and retrieve a fish. I failed to get any photographs.

Where I saw the Osprey.

The wetland vegetation was so dense that I could get through at very few sites. I fact at one grassy area I spotted a hen turkey and she, too struggled to find a place to easily get into the brush for safety. AT another area I saw four gobblers. I quickly got a few photos of running birds.

The Wood Ducks and Herons loved this spot.

I saw plenty of deer here and there including the buck shown above, he stopped and stood allowing some good photos.

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An Anniversary

Robert L. Miller and Ruth (Smail) Miller

My father passed away in June of 1999. My mother was an independent woman. She had no desire to ever date or wed in her future. However, Bob Miller, after his wife passed away from cancer would leave his Ohioan home and travel towards his family haunts near Clymer, PA. He would visit a campground where I played music. This campground was Maple Grove Campground.

Since I played there with many bands and mu aunt was part proprietor, my mother would go and listen to the music and talk with relatives many friends she had come to know.

Bob took an interest in my mother and eventually asked her out for a meal. Mother needed her two children to push her into that direction and she eventually agreed to a meal.

When the talk of marriage came up I had to talk with her and give her my blessing. She required the “OK” to take the next step.

On August 29, 2009 the two were married in my back yard under the roof of the gazebo. Today, in 2021, marked their twelve-year anniversary.

My mother is 91 at this time and my step-father, Bob is almost 87. I have called her a cougar more then once.

The last couple of years have been difficult ones for the entire family.

In December 2018, a tree fell for no reason while the two of us were hunting deer. The big poplar tree grazed Bob knocking him down and breaking his leg requiring much surgery and pins and screws to repair. The tree would have killed him instantly by an inch.

In the spring of 2019, Bob developed some issues and by early summer it was determined he had cancer. The fight has been a long one for him and us, too. The chemo has caused a loss of his hair. His weight is low, but miraculously he is without the pain so often associated with cancer.

In April of 2020, my mother had a mini-stroke. Both of them had the covid in late 2020.

Bob is hoping to hunt deer this fall and I hope to help him drag one or two out of the woods.

We are all hoping for more years to come.

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Hen turkey track

The light flannel shirt felt very comfortable in the low fifty-degree temperatures. The morning walk would be a nice venture. I spent approximately four hours on this jaunt. However, by mid-morning I was a little warm, but it was still tolerable.

The very first thing upon exiting the jeep was a nature call. I wish I wasn’t like that, but it is what it is!

The birds were singing and I was happy to hear very little sounds of mankind. That is rare in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

Note the one antler on this buck.

I would see several doe with fawns during the morning. One poorly antlered buck was spotted at the woodland edge bordering a reclaimed strip. The stalk was on and I managed to move in to the forty yard range before he bounded away.

A bedded fawn.

After I saw the buck leave the area I went over the embankment to a small tributary. Skunk cabbage was everywhere. I walked this bottomland for about 350-400 feet. I saw hundreds and hundreds of Skunk Cabbage plants. What makes this sighting interesting was the fact the stalks were completely void of the softball-size seed pods. BEARS! I have seen this a few times where the bear eat all the seed pods.

Skunk Cabbage and Bear results.

Lots of butterfly activity was observed during the warmer time afield. Monarchs were fluttering about along with their mimic known as the Viceroy. Monarchs have a poison that is unappealing to birds upon eating one. the Viceroy looks very much like the Monarch. The Viceroy has the distinctive black line along the wing.

Monarch Butterfly

Viceroy, Note the black line on the lower wing, professionally known as the Hindwing.

Bull Thistle

Beautiful Morning

Swallow in flight

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The morning of April 20 found the climbing of the mountain happening again. As before, I had a time restraint and one never knows what adventure one will find during the ascension. The two of us had plans so my time would be limited. Off I went.

A gobble exploded off in the distance. I estimated any attempt to close in for a hunt would take forty minutes. The bird was on the bottomland area on the next mountain and across the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahoning. I was happy this wasn’t gobbler season. I sat for a time listening to the gobbler. Here I, also, spent some time in prayer. I moved higher always checking the time.

Again, I could see the top but was a ten minutes away from reaching. I had to turn around. I knew if I pushed to reach the top I would not want to come down the slope quickly. I would want to explore.

The mountain is covered with small rocks varying from four inches to a foot. Underbrush was rare. My reasoning for the rocks falls upon knowledge of the mountain’s history. Mankind of years past denuded the trees of these mountains. Also, with all the dead tree tops, fires were common. The trains would often throw out shouldering conditions causing fires. Once the ground had been devoid of trees and burned to the soil any heavy rains would quickly wash all the best top soil away exposing the rocks. Regaining quality topsoil is a very long process of nature.

ROCKS!

After our breakfast Laurie and I would be traveling to the Alvin Bush Dam area on the Kettle Creek.

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The need to get out was high the morning of February 10. A nice covering of snow enveloped all surfaces and getting out and about was important to me. I need to find time to collect my thoughts, relieve stress and pray. What better place is the great outdoors.

I left the house with no clear idea where I would end up, but shortly decided to hike along Cowanshannock Creek. This creek is one beautiful waterways. Some areas have millions of rocks making for some good photo opportunities. Unfortunately, those rocks create some potential hazardous walking. I would be careful!

Immediately tracks of wildlife became known. I saw plenty of deer tracks. Also, I found fox and coyote tracks. I would see rabbit and squirrel tracks. Interestingly, were several areas where chipmunks were out and about actually having trails through the snow to various holes. I found Mink tracks that followed the creek exclusively.


Mink Tracks

I took a lot more photos than the ones shown in this entry, but I placed enough to have the reader get a taste of nature’s beauty on a cold morning. The temperatures were cold and the Rhododendrons displayed that cod. Once the temperatures get to a certain point the leaves appear to look wilted and hang down. This action is a life-sustaining protection feature of the plant.

i noticed several Gypsy Moth egg cases cemented to the side of trees. I remember many years ago when this specie of moth became the threat to our deciduous trees. Millions of them covered the woodlands and yards as they devoured the leaves of many species of trees. Everyday I collected the caterpillars and scarped the egg cases into used motor oil trying to make a dent. Some areas known to me had many oak trees die off because of the devastation caused by the caterpillars eating all the leaves.

Rhododendron Wilted Due to Temperatures

Gypsy Moth Egg Case

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Looks Like I Am Back

Some of my friends have asked me what had happened with my blog entries. I would tell them I can’t edit and publish.

Last fall the problem originally surfaced. I had completed and entry text and placed two photos when a pink ribbon appeared saying: “Update failed: You do not have permission to edit this site”. Of course I became concerned. I began the very difficult process of attempting to determine what the heck was going on.

Eventually, I became quite frustrated and contacted the site controlling my site. I tried seven times sending them my issues. each time I would get a notice that they were on it. I would never hear back. My frustration intensified. On some of the complaints I included my e-mail address and phone number. With time someone on their end contacted me using my new e-mail. Although I had changed my e-mail address with them some time ago, I needed to complete an additional step. They had been replying each time using my old e-mail address. Once that was done the communication became great.

An engineer on the site send me plenty of possible routes to take. Links were included to try. My attempts failed for I am not a computer nerd and the language on the sites frustrated me further.

I contacted them again and further items came on the agenda. The final solution was that Internet Explore is no longer working. The suggestion was to try another browser. Well here are the results. I AM BACK!

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A beautiful day of relief was in store and the plans to visit Keystone safari were final.  The walk though zoo-like atmosphere is located near grove City, Pennsylvania.

We spent over two hors looking at the wildlife. Laurie enjoyed watching the Giraffe feeding on lettuce. I enjoyed watching the little kids smiling upon seeing the various wail critters.

Hyena

 

Giraffe close-up

 

Easter island head!

 

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Beaver!

Beaver

I left here from the house prior to sunrise to fish along the Allegheny River. I had set the minnow trap late last night and had kept approximately fifteen to fish with and turned the others back for another time.

The very first cast set the stage for my morning.  Snagged! I was snagged on something and ended up losing a lot of line. Almost every cast found the same scenario. The current seemed different. I kind of have a policy that if I lose three riggings in a short time, I tend to quit. That policy is not set in stone. I fished almost two hours and only had one hit, but numerous snags. I decided to explore.

I was blessed to watch a Beaver near the shoreline. That feller seemed curious about me and allowed a closer approach. I managed some photos of the hungry rodent. A pair of gulls would fly over squawking and circling. I think they were wanting me to give them food. I took some photos of them as well. I did see a high-altitude Bald Eagle, some Mallards and a small flock of Canada Geese.             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Pines

I am not sure how most artists are, but I have always felt a little sadness upon the time when a painting becomes the owner to another. However, I am not a young person anymore and I have to let things go.

The painting called, THE PINES, was inspired by an actual deer hunting event that happened awhile back. Three shots were heard up and over the hill. Approximately a half an hour later I heard a snap only to see a buck to my left at about thirty, or so, yards.  This buck was not legal due to the four-points to one side law in Pennsylvania at that time. I watched the deer cut diagonally to my left and stop at times. This buck was looking around when I heard another disturbance to my left. I eased my eyes strongly in that direction and I could see antlers  sticking out from behind a tree.

I knew this buck had a really nice rack although, at this time, I could only see partial antlers. Now, I was in a bad way. How do I get the flintlock rifle up and in place without buck number 1 seeing the movement. However, I slowly brought the rifle up. I still wasn’t positive of the point count.

Why do deer do unpredictable movements? Normally, the last deer will follow the first deer, but this buck turned and began slowly moving upslope. Unfortunately, I was turned sharp to my left and in an uncomfortable position. The shot would have to be soon or the deer would be in a position where I would be unable to get a shot.

Now, I could see the whole rack and was, almost, ready to squeeze when some limbs stopped my attempt. In seconds the buck was up and over the ridgeline.

The buck in the painting was never this visible for a shot, although I came very close on squeezing the trigger. Fate is like that when hunting is involved. Little things can make or break the shot.

Interestingly, I saw this same buck on the last day of the season close to quitting time. The range was farther than I wished to shoot with my flintlock. I tried to move and waylay him, but he must have went in a different direction.  Moments later the season was over.

The owner of the painting was the hunter who had fired the three shots prior to the buck coming to me. I think that is a nice closure to this painting.

Detail

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Some Of My Old Art

Clown in a cafeteria line??? (Age 6-First Grade)

 

Musky in abstract lines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been interested in drawing and coloring since I was very little. One of my first words was, “Gidda”. When I said this word the issue at hand was to have my parents give me a pencil. Obviously, I don’t remember this at all. In fact, my parents got me a Jon Gnagy Art kit when I was around six or seven. he had an art show on the television at the time.

I was in my parent’s attic checking for a water leak this past week. High winds had blown a tree over onto the house roof. I was looking to see if the rain was coming in the attic. Upon my departure I noticed an old, and rather, big envelope. This envelope had a lot of my early year art in it. I brought it home to check it out once I had some more time.

Historical personalities

Most of the drawings included had no year  on it so determining how old the art is is only estimated. However, some have my grade school class on them. The earliest to be known is fourth grade.

Some of the art shown here was school assignment projects such as the abstract. Most are wildlife or historical in nature. These interests have endured throughout my life.

Maybe the art will bring you some chuckles as they did for Laurie and myself.

 

 

 

 

Tarzan

 

Snowman (4th Grade)

 

Indian says Ughh dandruff

 

Calendar

 

Animals

 

Fighting bucks

 

George Washington and cherry tree (1st Grade)

 

Years ago, Exxon had adds saying to put a tiger in your tank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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