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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Some Time In The Snow

We haven’t had a lot of snow cover this winter, or maybe I should say long-lasting snow cover. Recent snows and colder temperatures have allowed the snow to linger in the woodlands. This made for a couple of hikes to see what things of interest I could see.

I was fortunate on two different hikes to get some nice photos. the areas I walked were a local state game lands and a woodland trail at crooked Creek Park.

I saw, in total, nine deer and two gobblers. I saw some hawks and various other species of birdlife.

A black and white photo.

Pileated Woodpecker

This Pileated woodpecker had much patience with my approach. These birds can be tough to photograph for they do not stay still for very long flying from tree to tee. This one allowed me to approach and get some photos.

Red-tailed Hawk

Crooked Creek

Mourning Dove

Broad-winged Hawk or Red-shouldered Hawk

Crow

Mouth of Crooked Creek with the Allegheny River at Rosston, PA

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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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Bird Life Photos

Ring-neck Pheasant

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Cardinal

Female Cardinal

Wild Turkey wing dragging from strutting.

Me holding a baby Canada Goose in ancient times.

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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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Bald Eagle

Last October, Laurie and I, after visiting Todd Sanctuary for a hike spotted a Bald Eagle on Buffalo Creek. I managed quite a few photos of the beautiful bird. The eagle was feasting on a dead deer and did not want to abandon the easy pickins.

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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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Box Turtles

I usually see Box Turtles in the spring and early summer, but I was surprised to find three while hunting this fall.

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The year was mostly a failure with the covid issue and the mandates damaging America. That subject is another issue. My mother had a mini-stroke in April. I still see some damage from that event, but overall she is doing rather well. My stepfather, Bob Miller is still struggling with his cancer issue. Last weigh-in showed a hundred and forty-four pound man. he eats very little and has grown weaker to the point he can not walk.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, I took him to the hospital for a visiting nurse believed he may have had pneumonia. We discovered, he, also, had Covid-19 and spent sixteen days in the hospital for all the issues and therapy. The following morning I took my mother to the ER under doctor’s recommendation and we found out she had the virus. She was sent home under quarantine for fourteen days. Her 91 st birthday went without a party. We sent flowers an Laurie made he a cake placed n the table. My sister had the virus as well. With all that traveling with infected people I failed to get it.

However, I did find time to enjoy the early muzzleloading season in 2020. I missed a shot on the first day and passed up around ten-twelve shots on small deer. I did see a lot of nice buck. I have included some photos of buck here.

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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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Longnose Gar

I set my minnow trap around 4: 20 A.M. in preparation for a fishing excursion along the Allegheny River.  I was at the river by six in the morning to catch the “big un.”

The fishing was actually good this morning. The weather was beautiful although we had I witnessed several times where some rain fell. None of these events were long enough or hard enough to make anything wet. the usual swift current was workable for a change. I only lost one hook where I usually snag  often. I had watch my broken fishing pole sink into this water here recently.

  I caught varied species of fish. They species included: White Catfish; Flathead Catfish; Walleye and Smallmouth Bass. All of these species put up a nice fight and I truly enjoyed their participation.  However, I caught two fish of another specie…the Longnose Gar.

The gar is not an easy fish to catch due to an extremely bony long “nose” full of sharp teeth.  Simply put; getting a hook to becoming set is difficult. The best wat way to catch gar is to allow them

The narrow-long mouth area with sharp teeth

to run with the bait until they get it into proper position to set the hook. The problems are: most of the time you get a hard bite and do not know it is a gar so the fishermen reacts normally thinking a bass or similar fish is the one biting.  the fisherman heaves back to set the hook only to feel no weight of a catch. And if the fishermen actually knows the fish is a gar, at what time does one believe the fish has the minnow in place for a catch. Not easy!

Most of my fishing adventures over my years never once realized any gars. They were native to my area, but had been gone for many decades. The cleaning up if the Allegheny River allowed this specie to, once again, flourish locally. the Paddlefish has been reintroduced and is doing well, too. That specie gets big.

The Longnose Gar will reach 24, or so, inches in length and up to four pounds. However, they put up a good fight. As stated, I managed to catch two.

Interestingly, I believe a school of this specie must have been in the area, for I missed some fish bites. These bites were hard with a heavy pull and a strongly, bent rod. At some pint after catching two, I began to think some of these misses may be other gars.  I even tried dropping the bail and allowing the fish to take off before settling down a bit. The fish would take off again and I would heave and fail to catch.

I saw a Musky fish-tailing the water.   I saw some Wood Ducks and Mallards, Great Blue Heron and some Ring-billed Gulls, too.

Flathead Catfish

One bird I saw and watched for a time was a Common Loon. This loon was an immature, non-breeding loon.  I was fortunate to have the camera on this bird as it raised up and flapped the wings.

Common Loon

 

 

 

Purple Loosestrife

 

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