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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

A white dusting appeared over the landscape overnight. The snow was from the lake-effect winds over the Lake Erie. There was enough to help see better, but not enough to track any game.

I visited a property I had last been at, possibly, ten years ago. There had been changes. Much clear cutting was observed and rather recent. This will be a nightmare to maneuver in a couple of years as the brush covers the land.

As I walked in, I began to hear shouts on the next hill. Bear hunters were beginning to put on a bear drive. I decided to move away from their hunt and moved in a northerly direction. I soon remembered I had not been in this direction before so my venture would be an exploratory jaunt.

I still hunted up a hollow hoping to see a black beauty coming into the woods from a night of foraging in the cornfields. No such luck! t wouldn’t be long until I was exploring more than hunting.

A dusting of snow.

I walked upon about six ringneck pheasants. I would see a couple of squirrels and that would be it. Very weird is the fact that this morning and yesterday’s morning were void of deer sightings. It is extremely rare to not see any deer.

As the snow melted with direct sunlight, I reached the northern-most end of these lands and returned south via a different route. I told my wife I was only going to hunt about half-a-day because I needed to accomplish some things prior to Thanksgiving. Family would be coming to indulge at our place.

My venture this morning taught more about these lands for future bear seasons.

Male pheasant close-up.

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November 20 was the beginning of the 2021 Pennsylvania Bear Season. I was undecided as to where to try my luck, however, I knew of a small parcel of land in the Pennsylvania game Commission state game lands system. This land is a separate part of a local state game lands , but is less than thirteen acres in size. I had never visited this small land area and decided I would check it out on the first day and, at least, explore and see what was to be found.

I stopped at the dead end road at the site at daybreak and began an upward trek. I would learn that 98% of this game lands is steep hillside. The site is a beautiful piece of land with mixed deciduous and hemlock trees about. All surrounding areas are heavily posted. I could have sat down to hunt hoping on the luck factor of a bear traveling from the surrounded forests, but I elected to move westerly to the larger game lands. My curiosity had been satisfied.

I was almost at the parking site at the other game lands when I saw a game warden pull out ahead. We waved and I pulled behind a car with someone inside. I assumed he was a bear hunter and wanted to see if he was done hunting. He was done! He just received a citation for hunting deer with archery. He wrongly believed this was the last day of the deer archery season. He was in good spirits and realized his error.

I would tramp around until two-thirty in the afternoon hoping to still hunt upon a bear. It “tweren’t” to happen this day.

An old rusted bucket from the mining days.

The areas of northern Armstrong County are steep, hill hills and the old legs pushed on despite the discomfort, but I did well considering my age.

I had some deer sightings, a flock of turkeys, Grey and Fox Squirrels, Ravens and many species of birdlife. It was a great day.

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Success

The first two days of the 2021 Pennsylvania Fall Turkey Season were rather noneventful in regards to finding turkeys. I did see plenty of deer over the next for days while afield. Lots of squirrels were searching for food preparing for the winter season.

Tuesday I was out early listening for roosting birds and failed to hear any roost chatter. The walk and call method was in place when I located fresh scratchings under beech trees. I moved ahead twenty yards or so and as I entered onto a gas line I noticed the turkeys moving upslope. I immediately began to rush up hill on the line and went about fifty yards in a run when my chest tightened up forcing a stop. The reason for this chase-down was to break the birds up and call them back. they will make quite a vocalization song trying to get back together. At one time a couple of the birds entered on the line above and within range. I didn’t shoot and watched eight to ten turkeys move up hill and out of site.

I walked into the woods to settle down and eventually began calling. I thought a bird or two may have went the other way. Within a short time I heard a reply and close. I believe I may have underestimated the distance for the woods went silent. I believe the turkey may have seen the shotgun being moved about. However, I continued calling and heard a couple of clucks and would glimpse maybe four turkeys in the vegetation.

I searched for the flock and, believe, they must have gone into posted lands. Later, I was preparing to head off I began calling. I didn’t hear any turks and once I began to go down over the steep hill towards the jeep, I heard something only to see a turkey about twenty steps away moving up the hill. The bird may have been coming in silent.

This morning I hiked the close to a mile distance hoping the birds may have ventured back into this woodlands yesterday afternoon. I was disappointed with not hearing any roost talk. I slowly moved back towards the jeep checking for any turkey activity or sights.

I left the area and drove to another site. As I walked up an old road and uphill. I saw another hunter moving towards me. he was dragging a buck. He had shot the deer yesterday evening and lost the sign. Today he came early and finally found the buck, however, the entire “Gut area” had been eaten away. The top of the hill is posted. The man was part of a lease.

his vehicle was on top and he didn’t want to drag the deer uphill. I offered to take him to his vehicle and he was very grateful.

I began a search for turkeys and spotted four birds at the edge of a right-a-way. I tried to get close and call but they had moved out. I walked about called and heard some turkeys behind. I angled up the hill and moved in for a break and I was successful.

I set up and soon began to hear responses from my calling. About half hour later two young gobblers came to the call and I bagged one at twenty-three steps. I messed around and called another couple of birds in before leaving.

Not the best of terrain for an old feller.

American Chestnut

Little Spike Buck

The deer on left was a decent buck, but he avoided the camera.

Dogwood Berries

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Up Close and Personal!

I was sneaking along looking for a nice doe when I noticed a little movement below me. I believed the movement was a turkey so I hurriedly prepared my camera. I began doing a little calling and heard an answer.

Within a short time I saw turkey s moving about well within shotgun range. However, it is NOT turkey season.

The calling began to intensify including gobbling as a flock of birds moved in on me. I mean they came under twelve yards from me. They were curious but not alarmed at the strange mass before them uttering turkey talk.

Needless to say I took a lot of photos during this encounter. Here are a few of the photos.

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I stopped at dawn to take the garbage down for my mother and Bob. They have been fighting colds and this carrying their garbage is a tradition I have done for a long time especially with their ages and Bob’s major health issue.. How can they manage to get so much garbage? … since I am down to about a half bag a week.

Because they are still coughing some, but improving, I elected to not go in and chance getting a cold. Early muzzleloading is next week for deer and bear. I would hate to be ill.

So I went a few miles from the homestead to walk about. Deer were moving well allowing for the sightings of two buck and twelve deer total. I caught one in her bed thinking she was concealed.

I saw two flocks of turkeys. I managed one quick shot in the darkened side of the shadow side of the hill . I am going to post it, but the quality is not present.

I saw some squirrels busy gathering mast crops which appear to have done very well this year. I saw three Wood Ducks, too.

I walked upon a resting groundhog. It was perched on a log pile. I whistled for the head to turn some allowing for a photo.

Dew-laden White Pine needles

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Pileated Woodpecker

Over the last week I ventured out for some hikes. One such excursion lasted half a day. I hiked the southern section of my beloved Cherry Run hoping to see whatever ventured in front of my eyes.

Cherry Run

Heavy fog enveloped all areas very early, but once the sun gained some strength the heat quickly burned the fog through evaporation.

I try to hike along this area once a year if possible. The jaunt has become a tradition for me in a way, however, I usually enjoy walking this area with snow cover. The bottomland vegetation is often higher than my head so don’t expect any long range seeing.

I liked this calm water and strong reflections.

I would see a couple of deer at close yardages under such conditions. I saw two Belted Kingfishers acting interestingly. They were seemingly in some sort of territorial dispute and quite vocal. By the time I was back at the jeep I must confess I was getting very warm and these old knees hurt some.

One interesting find was a medium-sized Box Turtle. I usually see them during the spring, but I lucked out finding this one. I witnessed much erosion and deep muddy ruts along the bottomland. Four-wheel vehicles have cause much destruction along the vegetation. No wonder people post their lands.

Box Turtle

Another early walk occurred at a local state game lands. This, too, would be an interesting jaunt. I would see some deer, and squirrels.

If I would have been carrying my bow.

I was hearing the loud yaks of a Pileated Woodpecker and the big bird allowed several photos before vanishing among the trees. They are always a great sight to see. The cartoon character Woody Woodpecker was designed by an artist from the Pileated specie. I would have an opportunity to get some pics of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. These birds are not seen very often.

Immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Spicebush Berries

Red Squirrel trying to be invisible.

White-throated Sparrow

A vining plant is found in a few places here in Armstrong County. It is known as the Mile-A-Minute. This plant is a non-native and invasive specie. The plant is an annual meaning it grows from seeds during a summer season and freezes and dies back after frost time. The vines grow thick and heavy with the ability to kill native plants. These vines can grow twenty-five feet in one growing season.

The blue berries of the Mile-A-Minute.

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Virginia Creeper, often called Five-leaf Ivy

The autumn season is showing off with hints of fall. Hickory nuts, Beech, Dogwood berries and acorns are falling to the ground or ripened on the tree. The mast seemed to produce well this season and the food sources are plentiful in the area where I recently walked.

Hickory nuts and hulls

On this day I saw around nine different deer and lots of squirrels. A noted the hints of autumn are all over. I loved the colors of the Virginia Creeper as the light shown through the colors. This plant doe not cause rashes as the Poison Ivy, although so many treat it as the same. I have seen this specie in gardening books for purchase.

Mockingbird

I lucked out with a curious Mockingbird. I waited patiently until the bird offered a clear photo op.

Dogwood berries

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Killdeer

Yes, even I can be stupid at times. When I worked the common term we, laughingly, used was, “Stupido.” We pronounced the word as Stew-peed-o. Well in one of those extremely rare times I discovered while trying to take a photo of a deer of a problem. I didn’t place the camera card in the camera. Yes i was disgusted with myself for the hike was only about 150 yards from the jeep and I would not be able to get any photos this morning.

I returned to the jeep and left the camera and lenses behind.

I walked a gas well road at the top of the hill. As I emerged from the road onto a field of soybeans, I saw a doe and fawn. The photo would have been a good one with dew over the soybeans and the green background. I saw other deer in the huge field, too.

Woodland Sunflower

I continued walking the road watching the field intently on my left before entering another wooded area. You guessed it! As I exited the wooded area to an old field of knee-high vegetation I spotted a nice buck at about twenty yards. two other bucks were just beyond. They stood around and watched me. No camera! It gets worse!

Turkey poult

I walked across this field before entering another woodlot. I would be descending gradually. I looked about 25 yards to my left and spotted a Barred Owl perched on a limb. No camera!

Purple Loosestrife…and invasive specie.

Eventually, I reached Cherry Run and began to head towards the jeep. I searched around looking for trout. Suddenly, I saw waves in the water next to the bank. My first thought was a Muskrat. However, the animal crawled upon a rock and I was viewing a Mink. The mammal even crawled up a leaning tree for a couple of feet. I missed some great photo opportunities again.

This morning I made sure I had my camera card. All of the photos shown here are from today’s excursion.

Allegheny River

I set the minnow trap about five this morning and after catching a few dozen I went off to catch the “big un.” The river was beautiful with some fog conditions early making way for a clear morning.

The fish weren’t biting very well, but I did land a nice Smallmouth Bass. There are literally thousands upin thousands of shiners near the river’s edge. Occasionally, many would leap from the water escaping a bass.

Smallmouth Bass

With a couple of hours fishing behind me, I removed a little trash from the river’s shoreline. Afterwards, I spent some time looking for things to photograph. I saw several hens with several, nice-sized, poults.

Shiners
Blossoms of the Arrowhead plant. They are found in wetland areas usually.

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I have been seeing much wildlife on recent walks. Deer are almost a certainty on any jaunt. Of course, getting photos isn’t always the easy part upon seeing them. Distance, brush, backgrounds, compositions and timing often keep a photographer from getting a desired shot. The two fawns cooperated rather well allowing for a few pics prior to the departure.

Whitetail Shed

Late last winter or very early spring a Whitetail buck lost an antler. The various rodents are gnawing at the shed to gain important nutrients and minerals.

Grey Squirrel

Of course, Gray Squirrels and the other species are usually spotted during woodland jaunts.

Cottontail Rabbit

Lots of rabbit sightings. I spotted eight different rabbits the day I took this photo above.

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I like the summer weather when the humidity is low and having cool early-morning temperatures. With such conditions I decided to spend some hours enjoying the conditions.

This venture would include a two or more mile hike and some fishing.

I was fortunate to see some wildlife this morning. I saw eight different deer and three buck. Two were running together in the fog and I managed one decent photo of one standing in the fog watching me. I saw two turkeys feeding along the woodland edge. I saw a Great-horned Owl fly out of a tree. if I would have been faster I could have managed a possible in-flight shot. Rabbits were out and about, as well.

Buck in the fog

During my walk I came upon a few bear tracks. I have been fortunate in recent weeks with bear sightings and I had hoped this one might appear somewhere along the trail.

Bear Track

Eventually I settled in for a little fishing. I had my very light tackle and began the fishing for Carp, but the catfish were biting well. I caught around seven or eight cats. One Bullhead managed a quick turn sending the pectoral barb into the fleshy part by my thumb. The barb actually stayed in the “meat” until I pulled on the fish to remove it. That has never happened before.

I haven’t been “hit” by a catfish barb for many years and the realization of those experiences immediately came to be. I bled, I hurt and became slightly swollen and red. In fact as I type this entry on Monday the 12th I can still feel a slight pain.

Some readers may not know what I am talking about at this time. The catfish family have stiff barbs on their dorsal and pectoral fins. To release a catfish one needs to grasp the fish in such a way the barbs can not jab into the hand. I have heard some believe they have a slight toxin and they might have some validity.

This morning had another first for me. My brand new, never-worn, boots were on my feet. I walked behind to the Nature’s Restroom, and noticed something shining among the vegetation. I had tramped upon a fishing lure and the one treble hook was firmly in place. I removed the boot to remove the plug and luckily the hook was in the thick bottom of the boot and not through the thinner material.

I took some photos of various wildflowers during the jaunt. I found the source of the Coronavirus, too. They grow on small shrubs in Pennsylvania. See photo below.

Swamp Milkweed

Dogbane Beetles

Coronavirus Blossom on a Button Bush

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