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  I missed the last two days of gobbler hunting. The weather became quite bad on Friday evening causing a lot of flooding in my back yard. I had work to do!

However, this morning I was back to the hunt. The temperatures was down into the upper twenties as the morning walk began.  We would have a frost with ice visible well after nine o’clock in shaded areas.

I was almost to my listening site at 5:30 A.M. when I heard the sharp PUTT! I immediately looked towards the sound’s source to watch a turkey fight to clear the limbs and head across the big hollow.  I couldn’t identify if this was a gobbler or a hen, but such accidents are always something the gobbler hunter wishes to avoid. I completed my walk to listen.

 

Killdeer

 

Morel

Normal gobbling time arrived and began to move on. I never heard any gobbling. I was puzzled. I moved along the side of the hill to

Wild Geranium

further add to my hearing range and nothing was the result. Deer, on the other hand, were abundant. I couldn’t eight deer move past me. they were about twenty-five feet tops!

I began a walk, listen and call style of hunting, but failed to stir up anything. I returned to the jeep about nine to go a couple of hills over to “kill the day.” Again, deer were the norm. I managed to get a lot of photos of deer. I saw some buck deer sporting the early growth of their antlers. All in all I had 27 deer sightings by the end of my morning hunting. I saw a lot of squirrels, too. I did receive some answers from a hen for a time. I set up, but she lacked enough interest to pursue. I was walking along and spotted a deer. As I watched the doe bedded down. She was about 30 yards from me.                                                                                                  

I found a few morels this morning. I was at the jeep at 11:30. I never heard a gobbler.

 

Fire Pink

Friendships usually exist between people who are together at various times. I have been involved in an unique friendship for around twenty five years.  What makes this friendship unique is that we have never seen each other in person. The story behind this friendship proves to be an interesting tale, as well.

I had a turkey painting as the cover on the National Wild Turkey Federation’s magazine called “Turkey Call.” Prints of this image were offered for sale. One person from West Virginia ordered one of the prints. The man would obtain my phone number and he called me. We hit it off very well through phone conversations. So, for these many years we would talk approximately every couple of months. Our joint interest in Wild Turkeys; hunting and turkey calls often were the topics. The man’s name is: Ken Crummett.

Ken lives on the top of a mountain in the mountain range that runs through the state of West Virginia. The mountain top property has been in his family since before the Civil War. It is actually called Crummett’s Mountain.

A couple of weeks ago, Ken called about the possibility of an arrival during Pennsylvania’s Spring Gobbler season. I thought ..WOW!  We are going to actually meet in person. Another acquaintance, Galen Braddy lives in North Carolina. We, too, have become friends through Ken and via the phone. Our interests are the same.

Another key person in all of this is my friend, Kip Feroce of Lower Burrell. Kip has a camp near Crooked Creek Park  here in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. Kip makes great turkey calls. Do you see the continual trend…we are all interested in many ways through Wild Turkey hunting.

These two southern boys were to come to Kip’s camp to hunt! However, they almost didn’t make it. Galen was struck by a drunk driver. His vehicle rolled two times. He has glass in his body this day. He refused to miss this hunt. The vehicle was totaled.

The morning hunt wasn’t picture perfect in regards to turkeys. The sky was overcast; cool and windy conditions with rain doesn’t make for ideal turkey hunting.  We hunted anyway. I wasn’t really trying to hunt for myself. I wished my friends to have the opportunity over me, but I did take my shotgun. Kip and Galen heard three gobbles off in the distance and Ken and I didn’t hear any at all.

Later, Kip and Galen drove to a nearby property to try to entice a gobble. They left around eleven once the weather had a temporary change. Ken went to a blind and I circled the hill at the camp.

Ken and I after the season ended at noon sat on the porch when Kip’s truck returned. They had stirred up a gobbler around 11:30 and bagged the bird prior to noon. It was a good day!

Left to right: Me; Ken Crummett; Kip Feroce: Galen Braddy

 

  Bob and I just turned to go up a hill when I heard what I thought was a very distant gobbler. The time was 5:32 A.M. My step father, Bob had plans to watch and listen at “his” spot. I went after the gobbler.  

I could faintly hear gobbles as I walked along and up the hill. Upon reaching the summit I located where the gobbler was roosting. I was approximately 140 yards or so. I settled in.

As the time moved along I clucked a few times. Another tom exploded across the hollow. Later, a third gobbler would serenade the morning time. I did three tree yelps and waited.

Soon, I realized the gobbler was down and still interested. I wasn’t hearing any hens yet. That was a good sign!

I clucked a few more times and waited. The big bird moved in and began gobbling close. I couldn’t see him at all since two large oaks were directly  between the two of us. It stayed on site and gobbled and I clucked once more. That did it! I could see him on the right of the trees now, but I couldn’t see his beard due to a mossy stump and low vegetation. The gobbler would soon solve the issue for me. He turned to his right and he would be entering a more open area. I adjusted the shotgun as he went behind the trees again.

    The gobbler came into the opening and I could readily see a nice beard and in seconds the twenty-six yard shot was completed.

I stood over the bird and gave thanks. I tagged the gobbler and began taking some photos.

Bob heard the shot and knew the result. He is smart that way! The next step was to locate cousin Donnie. Our tradition is to place a feather on the wiper upon success. Later, I stopped at my mother’s home. (Another tradition.)

The gobbler was a two-year old with 5/8 inch spurs. He weighed at around 20.5 pounds and had multiple beards. There longest beard was nine and a half inches and the shortest was five inches. (There were four beards.)

 

The Old Boss Hen

Three Box Turtles

This morning was the first morning for the 2017 Spring Gobbler Season in Pennsylvania. Of course I was to be in the  woods!

Immediately as I trekked diagonally along the hill’s side the aroma of honeysuckle permeated my nostrils. The sky was darkened due to the time (5:10 A.M.) and cloudy cover. Lightening was happening south of my position. I would hear a little thunder off and on during the day, as well.      

My plan for this first day was to station myself on the flat and listen and call sporadically. At 5:30, the crows began to caw immediately behind me. Their raucous grew in intensity over the next half hour. A little after 6:00 A.M. I did hear a gobble way across a hollow. He gobbled occasionally for a time. I had hoped the big bird might venture to my side of the hill. I elected to not go after him because it was the first morning and I realized others may hear him and move in first. I told myself to stay put and wait to see what may happen.

Prior to dawn several deer came to me close and snorted. I could barely see them in the morning  gloom.                                      

   Eventually, I heard two gobbles in the opposite direction. This bird was even farther. I would circle the area after ten, but I couldn’t stir up his lust. While waiting I spent some time sketching for some possible paintings.

Now, as I walked along I came across a Box Turtle. I always look forwards to see one and I seldom hunt a spring without finding a turtle. I moved on and discovered another Box turtle. This feller was very orange and very colorful indeed. A little farther along I found a third Box Turtle. I thought what are the odds for finding three Box Turtles in about an hour of time. If I would walked fifteen feet in any direction all three of these turtles could easily be missed. I felt blessed to find them.

I would eventually circle around, but I failed to hear anymore gobbling birds. I was at the jeep prior to noon and by the time I returned home the rains came.  

Push And Shove

A few months ago I found a couple of sketches featuring Wild Turkeys.  I almost pitched them out, but hesitated. I decided I should paint the one sketch. I began to redraw and plan the discovered sketch and the 18 X 24 acrylic painting called, “PUSH AND SHOVE’ became the result.

PUSH AND SHOVE

 Drawing on prepared Masonite.

  I was out for a couple of mornings over the last few days. The purpose was to complete several things. One was to listen for   gobblers. Another was to take photos of spring and various things of spring. One more item was to search for the elusive Morel Mushroom.                                       

I really enjoy this time of the year. The rejuvenation of the woodlands always inspires me. I have hope when I see the greens and yellows explode with new leaves and vegetation. Of course, those who know me understand how I appreciate the numerous and varied wildflowers. they have been emerging with rapid growth.

  A recent morning was foggy, but the turkeys were already down. I walked up on two and later walked into about eight birds. I

Non-native: Mustard Garlic

crossed a very steep and deep ravine because the White Trilliums are thick enough to almost resemble snow. I wanted to observe.  Wild Leek is common in places. Other flowers were the rue Anemones; Spring Beauties and Purple Trilliums.                                                                    

As I reached the opposite hillside I could hear a hen yelping behind where I had come down over the hollow. I called some when I heard a distant gobble in a field behind me. I would ease to the field’s edge and see what I could find. I saw three toms and one hen way out in the field. Occasional gobbles came from these birds.                                                                                          

I would find eight Morels but I only picked four since some were small. I failed to find any others as I traveled about. 

This morning was at another locale and was saddened at first when I failed to hear any gobbling. A dark cloud bank was coming in from the south and I believed that darkness may be interfering with the turks.  However, two Canada geese flew through honking away and their noise caused a distant gobbler to explode twice.

I walked a field and heard nothing as I watched the sun sneak from the east. I walked back the same way planning to turn into an area with vines to   search for morels when one tom gobbled close. I entered the tree line to observe the field. Another gobbler, and yet another began gobbling to my left. The bird up front crossed the field to the other two gobblers. I watched them exit the field. Back to morel hunting. I found only one!

  In another area from where the other turkeys were I could a gobbler. Soon, A couple of more gobblers joined in.                                                                              

I set down and enjoyed their singing. Some of us consider gobbling to be musical!

I continued circling around and watched two Great-Horned Owls flying about. I managed one photo albeit the quality isn’t the best.

Virginia Bluebells

As promised I needed to go my cousin’s place to help with his fish pond. I brought to my creek about seven frogs.

  While traveling I saw three longbeards and a hen and. later six turkeys far off in a field. I would see four deer today and a couplemof squirrels.                                                                                      

Beautiful Morning

  I need to ask how one can be so stupid! I filled up my hands and began walking down the slope to fish. I

Dutchman’s Breeches

stooped to pick up a worm that was on the dry trail and realized I had forgotten my fishing license. How stupid is that?

 

 

Immediately I turned to plan B. I was going to fish a few hours before hiking along with taking photos. I drove to the site I had planned to walk and it was still only about 6:30 A.M. The sun was up and the atmospheric conditions were perfect. My bad luck of forgetting my fishing license allowed  for

Spring Beauty

some great photos.

  The route I took to hike was covered with early spring wildflowers. Spring Beauties; Dutchman’s Breeches; Rue Anemones; Violets and others could be found in plentiful numbers. Trilliums were soon to bloom. The Skunk Cabbage was growing quickly.

Rue Anemone

I searched for morels at times, but failed to see any of those morsels.

  I saw some Gray Squirrels and one Fox squirrel. I saw Great Blue herons and Belted Kingfishers. I sat down on a log to enjoy the beauty when I noticed  movement in the air. A mature bald eagle landed about seventy-five yards from me and began to make shrill calls. I took a couple of photos even though I knew the photos wouldn’t be the best quality. I saw an immature eagle flying. I heard gobblers off in the distance occasionally.

Wild Leek

I saw some Canada Geese at times and some unidentifiable waterfowl, too.

The four hour hike ended as the sun was making much heat. I elected to stop and visit my friend J Kip Feroce at his camp. he was there and surprised to see me. We planned some spring gobbler hunts.