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The old adage, “The third time is the charm”  may apply if only I could find that third one.  I came very close on two occasions on bagging a turkey last Wednesday, November 7. In fact I had the shotgun leveled with the safety off both times, but failed to shoot.

Christmas briars

Wednesday morning seemed like a great day for hunting considering the winds and rain this season has had daily. However, at daybreak the winds  began to increase, as well. I do not like hunting turkeys in windy conditions because of the inability to hear well. I can’t hear them as readily and they can’t hear my calling as readily either. Also, a flock of birds can be heard scratching leaves for some distances on calm days. With that in mind my hunting strategy is to cover ground searching for a flock to break up and set up on. Then I can call them back in. I tramped miles this season and haven’t walked onto a flock of turkeys. This is hard to believe.

Anyway, I was disappointed when the winds began at daybreak. I knew hearing roosted birds could be difficult unless I was within a couple of hundred yards. I did enjoy the soft hooting of a Screech Owl for a few moments before circling the point calling and listening.  I reached the point and crossed over the top. I called periodically. Soon, I peered down into a woods and saw a turkey. The bird walked behind a big tree and I dropped. I began calling  and suddenly to my right I heard turkey talk and could even hear the bird walking in the leaves. The turkey was close. All I could do was play the cards dealt.

The Remington 870 was leveled when the bird appeared. Unfortunately for me the turkey came into an area where landowners had dozed ground to level years ago. So mounds of dirt and limbs were present along with grasses and pokeberry stalks. I was in the open and the turkey was in open woods. Unfortunately, this mound and vegetation was between the two of us. However, there was an opening for a chance. The turkey was visible and all the bird needed to do was take a step to be in a clear shot zone. The turkey spotted the orange and darted across that opening and ran down the hill.  I wasn’t prepared for that. I could have shot through the pokeberry stalks, but I was certain the shot would happen.  Oh well some excitement for only a few moments. I hunted all around the area searching for a flock.

  I moved north to hunt an area where I have had much success over the years. I walked up a gas line and peered over an abrupt roll on the terrain and spotted a gobbler scratching for food. The bird was about 45 yards. I backed away immediately.  I moved to my right and set up where I could see seventy yards to where the turkey was. The windy conditions kept the bird from hearing my approach. I began calling.  The bird came in silent, but to my left. The gobbler stepped behind some trees at around twenty yards and the shotgun was ready for a shot. I was sure the shot was to happen, but the bird became suspicious and walked over that knoll directly behind the tree. I called and his head and neck reappeared.

Not a good photo of a Bald Eagle.

A limb between the turkey and myself was directly across the visible head and neck.  A shot would have been successful I am sure, but I held off for the bird only needed to move a couple of inches to expose a great shot. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! The turkey alarmed putted and dropped over that knoll. I called an had answers for a moment then silence ruled the woods. I tramped around until about 1:00 and quit for the day. I am getting old ya know!

Thursday, November 8, was looking great as well, but again the winds did pick up at daybreak.  I walked and zigzagged a finger ridge and failed to see any turkeys. I quit about noon. These last two afternoons I needed to work with mulching leaves.

When one spends time in the autumn woods amazement occurs as to how rapid the colors of the leaves turn. Also, how the trees can be loaded with their foliage and a few days later the woods can be barren of canopy leaves.

I did see a lot of deer and squirrels while out and about. I watched a Bald eagle for several minutes circling over the Cherry Run Watershed. I have been hearing and seeing Ravens often.

 

 

Morning shadow line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes this fall turkey season has been one with some weather not agreeable to hunting those birds. Rains have been common. Winds have been unyielding. However, this day was rain free and the winds were tolerable. Rains and winds make hearing difficult and the ability to hear is important for turkey hunting.

  I arrived about fifteen minutes later than I wanted because the early morning time had some rain falling. I monitored the radar and could see  the rains were about to cease in my area. Off I went!

I was disappointed while slowly touring the ridgeline straining my ears to hear birds on the roost or to receive an answer to my calling. Nothing.  Approximately two hours into the morning I elected to travel a couple of miles farther south to hear better. The road noises were strong this morning.

I drove a short distance and saw a turkey in a tree about a hundred yards or so from the road. I stopped and watched the bird fly down. Unfortunately the bird was in lease land for hunters from Ohio. I drove just a short distant more and saw several white heads. Yes I could see gobblers among the vegetation. I looked out ahead and could see around eight young birds feeding along. They were all within that same land. I snapped about ten photos and moved on.

 

 

 

 

Deer search…

I began walking up the long steep grade at the planned hunting area. I was about five-hundred feet from the top and I heard a turkey responding to my calling.  I quickly set up, but within a few minutes I became very concerned. The calls did not feel right and I elected to leave the area. My hunch was proved accurate when I saw a pick up parked along a farming/ gas road. I would later see the man and we chatted for about twenty minutes. he was the one calling.

I made a long sweep into promising areas and saw or heard no turkeys. Plenty of deer and squirrels were about the woodlands. Bear sign was found.

I retraced some of my walking and called often. I swept an entire point of this long ridge and repeated the same scenario. No turkeys!

  The time was about 1:30 and I decided to stop in and see my mother and stepfather for a little while.  Tomorrow rain and winds are in the forecast again.

 

Golden Beech

 

Claw marks

 

 

Mmmm..semi-sweet chocolate

 

 

 

 

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The turkeys have been remaining hidden thus far.  Weather is been a key to my lack of success, as well as, some bad fate.

  The first day of this year’s season found fairly heavy and steady rain. I donned my camo rain coat, but didn’t bother with my rain pants. A big mistake for me. By mid-morning my pants were so soaked that through wicking actions I was wet to my beltline. I became so wet that the cash in my wallet was soaked. Now that is a lot of rain. I had on the required orange hat and once the hat became saturated the water soaked my hair and the water dripped down my neck. Rain wicked

Beech

around my collar and up my sleeves. Yes I was very wet.

The sounds of rain cancelled any chances of hearing turkeys on the roost.  Add breezy conditions and I found myself at the jeep by around 10:20. Of course I didn’t chance carrying a camera in such conditions.

The second day of the season found high winds and some rain. Another day preventing me to hear roosted birds or hearing them answering my calls. I failed to walk up onto any flocks. Where did they go? I tamped about six hours trying to find a flock.

The following day was the best day for hunting and hearing turkeys , but even with the conditions I failed to locate any turkeys.  The wind wasn’t bad, however a dense fog lasted until ten. I searched for almost seven hours this day.

Wednesday of the first week found my high on a hill at daybreak. I had a hollow on both sides of me, so I increased my chances of hearing roosted birds or so I thought.  Around the time turkeys often begin talking from the trees found an increase in the wind. In short order the winds became fairly strong since rain was scheduled to arrive around noon.

 

October 31st morning

I began a slow trek around the hill’s slope to locates birds.  A small bit of luck occurred about 10:00 in the morning. I walked towards a posted property line. I was going to call and hopefully get an answer and lure birds towards me. With the wind my approach was quiet as I called approximately forty yards outside the signs. A n abrupt slope quickly formed a steep hollow.  My call was immediately answered by that dreaded “alarm putt.” I never saw the bird for it must have been feeding on that slope and my call caused it to raise to see the vocal turkey…me. I never saw the bird. I never heard it running of flying, but the game was over for me. If there would have been a flock I would have seen something to indicate that.

I hunted by walking and calling until noon. I saw a raven, squirrels, many deer including some buck. I, also, found some bear sign. This morning I had  breakfast with the family so I didn’t get out to hunt. I think a break might do me well. I do my Bible Study class later today, too. Tomorrow, November 2, I am scheduled to play music at two different homes. If I decide to hunt my time will be limited.

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmmm…dark chocolate!

 

 

Buck in fog

 

 

 

 

Red Salamander

 

Our native American Chestnut

 

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

 

Big old tree

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Two Bucks

I arrived at the hunting site at light. My goal was to spend some time attempting to locate information on the one deer I messed up on yesterday. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I find a downed deer or walk upon a deer trying to hide from me.  I would spend approximately three hours still hunting the area. I traveled about three hundred and fifty yards or more in a semi-circle from the last known position of the deer. Due to yesterday’s occurrences I brought “Old Jacob” to the hunt. The .50 caliber rifle with two sights would be the deliverance for me if I had another chance.

I searched rather diligently, I believe, and found no certain detail as to what the deer had done. However, I was sneaking along a very thick area scouring ahead for any possible deer. Suddenly, an explosion erupted from under some dense honeysuckle limbs. Yes, a deer jumped up about ten feet from me. Did I approach with the stealth of an Indian that the deer didn’t know I was present? Was this the injured deer? I still can’t say with any degree of certainty. The deer moved out appearing fine. There was no sign in the deer’s bedding.

While doing this search a nice buck traveled over e ridge and walked by me. Once he spotted me he allowed for about eight photos once as I worked to retrieve my camera from my shoulder bag.

  I walked along a field’s edge and spotted a deer nibbling on tree limbs. I assumed it was a male for such actions are common with a buck. I glassed and saw spike antlers. Three more deer appeared in the field feeding. I stalked a distance that I deemed safe to do so. Suddenly, I could see a deer to my left and closing in. I maneuvered among the pines and realized it was the spike. The buck had turned and due to contours found his way right upon me.

I would see seventeen deer over six hours. A couple of doe came out to me at about fifty yards. I couldn’t shoot for when one stopped the other would  stop directly in front of the other.

I saw some squirrels and heard some turkeys on the roost this fine day afield. The temps were cool and in the thirty degree range in the morning and the winds made setting for more than thirty minutes difficult.

 

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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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What A Fight!

Softshell Turtle

I left very early this morning to fish the Allegheny River before the sun became to hot. The thick fog lasted until about none o’clock. During this time the fishing was quite comfortable. I caught three Smallmouth Bass during my two hour fishing excursion. However, I caught something else this morning. I caught and landed a Spiny Softshell Turtle, often called a Leatherback. The carapace is unlike most turtles because their “shell” is soft and rubbery, hence their name.

The fishing pole bent way down when I pulled back to set the hook. Then the fight!  I wasn’t sure what I caught and expected a big catfish by the weight I was feeling and the fighting. Twice I could see the “fish” near the surface. I thought I was getting a glimpse of a fin or tail. Eventually, I brought the critter close enough to identify and , indeed, it was a turtle.

The temps were rapidly climbing and I pulled up the equipment and headed towards the jeep.

On a sad note, the area I was fishing will now be closed to fishing. I talked to a gentleman and he told me the property will not allow fishing anymore due to ATV traffic and trash and garbage thrown about. Partiers and, even sadder to say, fishermen continually throw their garbage out. He told me they even removed a burned up mattress.  The man was very apologetic to me and I told him I understood, for such activities are common all over.

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BOBWHITE!!!

Bobwhite

I had a fan on high on this hot July afternoon as I sat and read on the back deck. The time was about six thirty. Suddenly, I heard the shrill whistle-like bob-bob white! I stopped reading. Did I hear that sound correctly. The musical notes repeated. I was hearing a Bobwhite Quail singing down by the stream. I answered and the bird began answering my calls. WOW! I went for the camera.

I eased down over the deck steps to my lower yard and sat down. I had the male quail pinpointed and I began easing in the direction of the songs.

There he was! I spotted the bird along the creek among my habitat vegetation. I moved in and the little bird didn’t seem overly scared. I called and he called and the Bobwhite jumped up a log I have by the creek. Camera was clicking away.

Eventually the quail moved across the yard and I went in and told Laurie what I have been listening to and watching. She came out on the back deck and she seemed thrilled to hear and see a Bobwhite.

I took about thirty photos. I included several here to view. We enjoyed his calling almost to dark. What a joy and blessing to hear and see a Bobwhite.

We would set on my grandparents porch and listen to the quail calling as evening would come on. They would call and “flock up” for the night’s sleep. This is one of those very fond memories one wishes to relive as the years creep forward.

 

 

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