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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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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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Ruth “Smail” Miller

The years have flown away at a quick pace.  My mother, Ruth “Smail” Miller turned ninety years old on December 6th.  She was born on December 6, 1929 to my grandparents,: James Edward Yount and Mary Elizabeth Leightley. She was the third of a family of five children.

My mother was born on a farm. grandad always had cattle. Chickens weren’t uncommon either as chicken dinners were common as I grew up. Roast beef was, also, common.

My mother married, Allen Kenneth Smail on November 14th, 1953. I came along in 1955 and my sister, Ruthie in 1958. Another sister died in 1962. Her name was Glenna Mae.

Mom was always completely devoted to her family. She still is!

Bob Miller

My father died on June 2oth, 1999. That day was Father’s Day. Mom remarried in 2009 to Robert Lee Miller. He has been very good to the family and we certainly appreciate his presence. Currently, Bob is fighting a very aggressive cancer. We spent three days at the hospital this past week in regard to his condition and a surgery adding more quality of life.

On my mother’s birthday we celebrated in a simple manner with cake and ice cream and pizza at her home.

I know reality , but I am hoping for another ten years or more of birthdays for mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister Ruthi and mom

 

 

Not sure what this is???

 

 

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Not a good bear photo but the best when considering the early morning conditions.

I know my weird humor comes to play at times. This title is such a weird title. It is a play on words coming from one of Shakespeare’s plays. The strange truth of this title is even more bizarre for I actually saw seven bear this morning while hiking.

I was moving slowly along the woods where the terrain allowed for more openness.  To my left was a tangled mess of Spicebush, Multiflora Rose and Wild Grapes. One could not see through this mess. However, I could hear movement just beyond the thick brush. I assumed some deer may have winded me and were sneaking out. I was wrong!

Spicebush

A Black Bear walked into the more open woods from behind the brushy area. It was twenty steps away. Our eyes met and the camera came up and the bear turned on a dime. The photo showed a black blur. I moved ahead a little to walk off the distance when I spotted another and bigger bear approximately eight and no more than ten steps away. The same scenario occurred as our eyes met. I would guesstimate the first bear to be about 110 to 120 pounds and the second bear in the mid-two hundred pound range.

I quickly moved and turned left to go up the opposite hill in hopes of seeing the two again. The Spicebush and downed trees mad for less than

One of three flocks of turkeys I saw this morning.

desirable positions. I set on a log for about twenty minutes before exiting the way I came in.

Later, I spotted another bear about thirty-five yards from me. the bear moved over a steep lip on the hollow and went silent quickly. I looked about to try to find a quiet approach through the brambles and elected to listen and watch. Little time passed when I could see black on the opposite side of this steep gulley. There was my bear. I assumed this was one of the earlier viewed bear.

Soon I could more black . Another bear crawled up onto a tree. I immediately recognized this bear as a cub. I continued to watch and the first two bear walked out onto a big fallen tree. I could see three bear now. Shortly, a fourth bear became visible. I took a number of photos anytime an opening allowed. The bear were about seventy yards away. The woods were dark and shadowy due to the sun had not reached that side of the hill.

So I saw two bigger bear earlier and a nice sized mother with four cubs. My day was made!

 

 

A Garden Spider

 

Damaged corn from bears.

 

Sausage…bologna?

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Sunrise at Belfast

NOTE: The sunrise photo had me feeling slight disappointment. I arose at 4:30 and quickly headed the two hundred yards to the shoreline to watch the sunrise. However, the tide was high and I just couldn’t go the next hundred or more yards needed to actually witness the sun for the rising occurred behind the land shown on the left. I did, however, capture some color. The last time I was at this site I stood, actually, in the area to the right of the photo and could easily see the sun.

Penobscot Bridge

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory is a bridge to cross the Penobscot River. The structure is one of uniqueness indeed. Two granite-made pillars reaching way into the air were constructed using a huge suspension system to stabilize it all. The observatory is 420 feet high consisting of 42 stories. The top has a 360 degree view covering a 100 miles. One can see the distant Cadillac Mountain of Acadia national park. This is the tallest occupied structure in Maine. Laurie and I were greatly impressed with the view.

The granite used to construct the towers came from the local Mount Waldo area of Maine. The Washington Monument utilized this same source of material for its building.

In earlier times, many Algonquin-speaking Indians lived in the area including the Penobscot Indians. hence the name. They traded furs to the colonials. Today, they still live in the area forming the Wabanaki Confederation.

The legendary Fort Knox is still easily observed from the tower. Visitors may walk through the fort. the fort was built from 1844 through 1846. The  purpose of the fort was to protect communities of Maine. During, bith, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, the British came up from Penobscot Bay and attacked successfully thus seizing control of the area. However, upon the Civil war and Spanish-American wars no attacks were launched in this area although the fort was prepared during both conflicts.

Fort Know was built from the same granite supplies as mentioned earlier.

Fort Knox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking towards Penobscot Bay

 

Penobscot River

 

Everywhere you look the beautiful sight of primarily blue, pinkish and white Lupines are blooming.  Interestingly, the flowers is not native to Maine.

Lupine

 

Lupine-Closeup

 

 

 

 

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Wolf Rocks

I began this trek to the Laurel Highlands in the dark hours of the morning. I wanted to on the trail I selected early not long into sunrise. The temperature was in the thirty degree range as I began to walk to an area known as Wolf Rocks. I was at the Laurel Summit State Park for this particular hike.

Overlooking Linn Run

The traveling wasn’t easy due to many rocks on the trail, however, the walk was mostly level. I discovered why this area is known as Laurel Summit. Often times the areas to my right and to my left were covered with dense Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel.  Intermingled with these evergreen plants could be found our native green briar. I wasn’t very interested in trying to go through this mess, so I didn’t!

Rocky trail

I was surprised at the woodland silence this morning. Not one gobble was to be heard. I heard one raven. Very few other birds were heard. I saw some deer and heard and spotted an eagle flying over.

I moved a mile down the road to walk another trail. This trail is called Beam Rock Trail. I was impressed with these rocks once I arrived to them. Rock climbing is allowed on site and I hare to admit I did do some limited rock climbing.  The years kept telling me to not push this adventure. Body parts might break easier now! I could see snow and ice among some of these huge boulders.

Around noon I went down slope and hiked along Grove Run in the Linn Run area. Here I first saw green spring life. I found hepatica, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily and some young emergences of a few other species. I did not find any Morels. I left Linn Run around three o’clock. I hoped to have time in Ligonier to see the f Fort Ligonier Museum.

 

 

 

 

Beam Rock view

 

 

 

Snow between rocks

 

Mountain laurel blossom remnant from last year.

Flowers from the lowland hike:

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

Trout Lily

 

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