Our 2022 Christmas

Mother, Ruth all with smiles

Our 2022 Christmas had me facing mixed emotions. My mother, Ruth, now at 93 years of age is dealing with dementia-like symptoms, and this proves to be difficult for me at times. My stepfather, Bob Miller has been dealing with cancer for three years. Both are losing weight. So, I can’t help wondering how many Christmas get-togethers we all will have.

Anyway, we had a nice day together opening gifts, including our dog, Trixie. She loves to rip apart gift packaging and chasing red laser lights. Her antics brought many smiles. Sister, Ruthie sported a nice set of antlers. We had plenty to eat, as well!

Mother and Laurie. Laurie hates getting her photo taken.

Passing On Deer

I haven’t hunted deer much this season, however, the days I have been out I have seen deer and passed on shots a lot. Since my goal was makin’ meat, I am looking for good shots to take on medium sized deer. With my age I am not looking forward to dragging a two-hundred pounder. For instance, Friday December 9, I literally passed on small deer five times with ranges of 25-to 35 yards. Come flintlock season maybe I won’t be as picky. Laurie is to have surgery and has been told she is to not do anything for two weeks after the cut.

A few short stories of this day’s hunt. I was sneaking on a flat between two slopes when I saw a deer coming. I moved into position beside a tree. The little deer came so close that I jumped at her to scare her to educate. She jumped and ran a short distance to stare.

Later I sat down in an open area among White Pines. I watched a small deer feeding. The little button buck bedded down with a great range. While seeing this event happen, I noticed another deer feeding from in front of me. This deer was small, but she allowed for a bunch of pics.

Another example was a little deer from my right at twenty yards. With camera in hand, I was about to face a dilemma. About ten yards behind this little deer came a mature doe and I couldn’t move. The doe’s head went behind a tree, and I lowered the camera. By the time I got the rifle up the deer had moved to about fifty yards. I was planning the shot when I saw her ears funneling towards my right again. The button buck was walking past me. He was bleating. Any shot on the doe was lost. Oh well, I was enjoying all the other action.

Later I sat down at the head of a big hollow. About eighty yards to my right was posted property. Two deer showed up and it appeared they may come right to me. She spotted something about me and began staring. Eventually the two began walking again going at an angle below me. Shooting at this time would, probably, have the deer run over the steep slope into posted property so I waited for a better shot. A third deer showed up and the doe went to that deer. They came to about fifty yards below me with her still staring at me. Suddenly, the third deer began snorting for my scent was drifting down. They all went back into the posted property.

I would see other deer some were small ones and some too far to identify with certainty.

Crossbow bolt I found.

I was talking to a young mother last week. She told me of her young son hitting a buck with his crossbow on nearby property. This happened in archery season. I found this bolt and sent her a photo, and this was the shaft her son was using. I returned the shaft.

The first day of the 2022 Pennsylvania deer season found me heading home empty-handed. Yes, I saw some deer and even saw an illegal buck, but no shot materialized. I knew I had to be extra careful with my shots for I saw a small spike buck during the early muzzleloading season. I even had the hammer cocked and firearm aimed. Luckily my patience saw the four- or five-inch, pencil diameter spikes. I was watching for a racked buck but by the afternoon I would have taken a doe if the shot was a good one.

Today the third day of the season found me in my haunts willingly ready to shoot a doe. I would see twenty-three deer by the end of the hunt. One adult doe came extremely close to becoming hamburger. I spotted her while still hunting at about forty yards. She squatted to urinate as I anxiously tried to determine first if the deer was a big enough one for harvest and not the spike.

Unfortunately, she was on the other side of some downed limbs. I clicked the safe off of the rifle and slowly drifted to my right to open up the vital areas. As I raised the rifle she suddenly turned and saw me and jumped away.

Fox Squirrel, one of four I saw in two days.

Later I spotted a deer feeding ahead. I stalked the deer and spotted the deer at about forty-five yards. I could not tell with certainty of any head ornaments. The deer fed slowly away, and I circled around hoping to get ahead for a clear look. I walked to about twenty-eight yards and in those seconds, I still wasn’t sure enough to shoot. Hard to believe!

I was heading to watch a feeding area and saw three deer feeding. patience would be the answer in this hunt. One was a half-racked buck and a big deer. I lost sight of them due to terrain contours. A flock of swans flew over.

I waited behind some pine tree trunks watching the feeding area. Suddenly, a deer came into view just ahead. I prepared to shoot. The deer was about fifteen yards and must have winded me. The deer bolted in reverse and turned in front of me in open area. the deer stopped. the forty-three-yard shot was good. The deer collapsed about twenty-five yards.

The deer was actually a buck. The antlers were about one inch along and exposed. The weight was around 110 to 120 pounds.

Fortunately, the landowner told me I could drive across the field to get as close as I can to any harvested deer. That is great. This old pooper has some fears with long deer driving. I backed down a gas line and got to within thirty yards of the downed deer.

Bear claw marks on a Beech Tree.

The 2022 Bear Season

Armstrong County had snow for the first day of the 2022 Pennsylvania Black Bear season. That is a rare thing! I decided to hunt an area with a mile long hollow with clear cut acreage. My plan was simple enough. get in the area and before daylight and search for bear tracks in the hollow or crossing the hollow. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work for no tracks were observed.

I pondered the bear season this year. I have been seeing very little mast crops in the woodlands. That fact often, instinctively, makes bear “hole up” early. The lone bear hunter has bear hunting tough enough and this situation may make the hunting harder.

One of three flocks of swans I heard and viewed flying over.

I ended up tramping ninety-eight percent of the seven hours in the woods. I never found a track.

I did see some deer and pheasants.

I didn’t hunt Sunday and Monday of the bear season. However, Tuesday had me fighting an urge to go out again.

I was surprised upon seeing snow on northern slopes. Anyplace shielded from the sun held some snow pockets. I found rather fresh bear tracks and began to employ strategies hoping to find it. I had major issues due to the lack of snow on easterly and southern slopes. I still hunted the woods watching below and ahead. This wasn’t easy for the infamous Multiflora Roses brambles were very common. being quiet was not going to happen anytime I was in the masses.

Although indistinct this is a bear track.

Eventually I circled across the hollow back to a northern slope. I found the bear’s tracks again. the bruin was heading low along the creek bottom. What a tangled mess!

As you might expect the tracks left the snow area while the last tracks were heading onto the southern and snowless slope, My bear hunt ended.

The snow was gone to the left of the photo. This is the creek bottom where the tracks were lost.

I saw some deer and found turkey tracks…approximately ten birds.

Gobblers Galore


I parked the jeep and began the walk along a township road. It was very black out, but in the sky was the constellation, Orion, the hunter. I wondered where any turkeys might be located along the hillside running alongside the road. I crossed a tributary to Cherry Run and worked a right-a-way towards the top. The hillside is steep, but the right-a-way goes along diagonally up the hill almost to the top.

As I approached the top the obvious lighting of the pe-dawn moments could be easily noticed. I remembered a time when my stepfather, Bob Miller and I walked this very same journey. I remember stopping to allow him to get his breath and immediately saw a flock of turkeys just above us. He would get a gobbler later in the morning.

Interestingly, very close to this spot I heard a series of raspy putts. I had been seen from a roosted gobbler; I surmised due to the sound of the alarm putt. I continued to the top and circled behind where I heard the turkey. My intention at this time was to wait until I hear a bird and move quickly to break up the flock. The eastern horizon was beginning to move fast towards dawn, but I clucked anyway. I heard a response.

I set the shotgun down and was about to lower my shoulder bag in preparation for a breakup when three gobblers opened up to my right but down over the hill. My bad decision was about to happen. I moved towards the gobblers instead of trying for a break. I went a short distance and called, and gobblers began gobbling form both sites! I still could have broken up the first flock but decided to set down between to try to call in either flock. Could be an interesting hunt.

The gobbling continued on their own and to my calling. I felt confidence that something positive would happen, but I was wrong. The gobblers to my left flew down hill and moved to join the other gobblers to my right. However, I wasn’t aware of this initially so I quickly zig-zagged along the flats trying to locate and break.

I quickly returned and the birds to my right and they still answered my calls. I even heard a hen with them, too. I circled and came in from behind hoping to locate and break. The next time they answered my calling they had moved across the Cherry Run Road and the creek and were now gobbling and fighting like crazy low on the opposite hill.

I circled again, crossing the township and state roads and the creek. I moved at an angle before beginning to travel to my right and hopefully above them. I failed they had moved faster than I and had gone up and over the crest of the hill. I know this because I found scratchings and fecal matter. The top is posted.

I was disappointed with myself and failings to break up the early morning flock. I arrived back to the jeep with the noon hour approaching along with temperatures into the sixties. I was warm.

I saw some deer including the buck in the photo. I saw a beautiful Red Fox, too.


My cousin, Donnie (a.k.a. Weasel) went hunting fall turkeys on the first morning of the 2022 Fall turkey Season. We haven’t been able to hunt much in the last few years due to issues in his life preventing our get together hunts. Unfortunately, Donnie would need to leave around ten o’clock for a needed task.

We met in the dark deciding on a plan to hunt these morning hours. I would go to the end of the field, and he would stop at mid-point. We were going to listen for roosting birds in the woodlands below the field.

At my position a number of crows began cawing early. Maybe they had an owl in their sights. However, I called periodically and at one point I thought I may have heard a reply of yelps way down the hill. The din of cawing birds made a positive identification slim. However, I met up with Donnie and told him I was going down over and work towards him hoping to find a flock. I failed to find any birds.

I was surprised to find the carcass of a gobbler. Of course, I wondered what had happened to the bird.

(Gobbler remains)

Later I saw an immature Bald Eagle flying past. I was lucky to capture a pic.

After my cousin left, I went to the hillside across a township road. I walked upon a flock of gobblers. I tried for a break. I sat and called and listened for two hours and decided to call it a day.

(Immature Bald Eagle)


I watched the weather closely and rain was happening but supposed to slack off early. believing the weatherman, I took off. I reached the top of the hill when the rain began. The water fell for two hours completely soaking the hunt. That was alright for I needed to stop at my mother’s home and try to make temporary repairs on her car that my sister wrecked. I then followed the car around to get work planned for repairs.

(American Chestnut)


I arrived extra early for the climb to the top was along trek. I reached to listening point and heard nothing. However, once I called the turkey chatter became common. the birds were on the roost but low on the side of a very steep hill. My dilemma was to try to call them all in after they left the roost or move in down the slope on very wet leaves. I decide to not try going for a breakup. This was a bad decision with hindsight.

Once I realized my initial plan was not going to happen, I circled and went down slope at an angle believing I would soon run into them. I reached the bottom of the hollow and began a diagonal trek in an attempt to find the birds. I met another turkey hunter and we chatted some. He didn’t see them walking through anywhere. He had to go home, and I continued with my plan. I didn’t go very far when I saw an archer in the tree. I apologized and aborted my plan to continue on.

I went the opposite way in case my gut feeling was incorrect. No birds!

(A huge flock of Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds must have stretched a quarter of a mile.)


I made the steep trek up the hill hoping to locate the turkeys again. I would fail to see or hear any turks. I did see a coyote. Most of the morning was very foggy.


This was to be a short morning to hunt. I stopped at my mothers to take care of the garbage before going hunting. I tramped around searching for turkeys. I spotted a blackness about eighty yards or so ahead of me and quickly realized I was seeing a gobbler. There would be five of them. I called and received a few answers, but they wouldn’t come downslope through the Multiflora Rose. They began to work away, and I knew I had to try for a break.

I laid the shotgun and shoulder bag on the ground along with my hat and outer camo top. I slowly moved uphill until the one tom spotted me and started to react, I was had. I took off as fast as an asthmatic, old fart could go. The birds stayed together moving over the crest and across a field behind a home. The hunt was over.

I returned to my mother’s home for brunch and eventually take my sister to the bank and car repair shop. The car, although not completed, was now ready to drive.

(Remains of an old stone fence)

I was blessed to hear Screech Owls three times so far. I saw lots of deer, squirrels and even several rabbits.


Earlier this year I released an instrumental CD called Quiet Time. The initial reasoning as to making this instrumental was for a song to be lightly played during a prelude to prayer during church services. Interest arose and some wanted to obtain copies of the CD.

Quiet Time #2 is the second release of fourteen songs of faith for the quiet time prelude to prayer.

I play all instruments on the CD including all string instruments and piano and keyboards. The production takes some time considering various songs may have double digit tracks for completion.

Anyone interested in acquiring a CD contact me at Larry Smail, 481 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201. I am seeking a ten-dollar donation. Shipping, please, add an additional five dollars.


The weeklong 2022 muzzleloading season has come to a close. A properly licensed individual may hunt bear during this week, also. I usually refer to this week as the early flintlock season since I generally use my eighteenth-century style flintlock rifle. However, the Pennsylvania Game Commission allows percussion muzzleloaders, (Cap and ball) the modern in-line muzzleloaders as well as the flintlock rifle or smoothbores. As a senior I could use a modern center-fir rifle the last three days of the season. I still prefer my flinter.


The first day of October 15 had twelve deer observed including two bucks. This muzzleloading season only permits antlerless deer to be harvested. One small doe came past me at twelve steps, and I decided I wasn’t going to take a small deer. I took photos of this deer instead.

The first day as well as much of the season was windy with several being terribly windy. In fact, I heard a large tree cracking and the thud after it succumbed to the conditions.

I had to get ready to play guitar with a band at Ford Cliff.


I decide to go to a state game lands to try my hand at bear hunting on this day. I still-hunted at three locations but never saw a bear. I did see two deer. I could have shot the one at about thirty yards, but I could not see the animal’s head. remember I had to shoot only antlerless deer.

This very windy day howled through the trees. I heard some loud cracking of a falling tree. The sounds were not far ahead. As I followed the occasional cracking, I soon located a tree. The tree was leaning at about 75 degrees with the limbs entangled with neighboring trees. Every few seconds it would crack until the support trees could no longer bear the weight allowing the tree to crash. That was an interesting observation. I walked upon a flock of seven gobblers allowing for a few photos as they fed in the high grasses. I heard a Screech Owl in the dark hours. I became entangled in a very thick timbered area. That takes the fun out of hunting as each step allows for briars to dig into one’s flesh. I left early enough to prepare to do acoustic music at the Kittanning Free Methodist Church. An event is held there twice a month known as God’s Choice for those of special needs.

A bear could be bedded ten feet away and be completely hid.


I sat up watching a field in the dark and windy morning. I would see one deer in the distance. I found myself very tired and decided this was going to be a short morning. I don’t sleep well usually. I still hunted my way back to the jeep seeing a Fisher twice. I only wished I could have gotten a photo. I heard a Great-horned Owl.

I went home and napped for company was coming.


I stopped in the morning to take care of my mother’s garbage and enjoy breakfast. I did sneak around near to the homestead seeing two deer including one buck. I left early enough to prepare for my Thursday evening Bible study.


This was another day to hunt bear and I went to State Game Lands 304 to still hunt. I would see seven deer this morning and a flock of turkeys two times. I walked right up on them the first time. I saw three pheasants.


This was the last day to hunt, and the temperatures were to reach into the seventies. I knew I would be quitting by noon for I prefer to not hunt in such temps. I stationed myself in the dark hours to wait.

I spotted a deer’s back and it appeared to be a doe. I positioned the rifle and as the deer approached, I thought I saw antler. I allowed the deer to come closer and I was correct for this deer was a spike buck, the spikes were about six inches long. That would be the only deer observed this morning. I walked off to where the spike came past, and it was eight steps.

I heard a Barred Owl.

Hunting deer by my preferred method known as still hunting can be very difficult during this early season. Multiflora Rose, Green Briars, our native briars and Spicebush form a dense canopy cancelling out any deer clarity.

Old Jacob, my fifty-caliber flintlock.

NOTE: The following study was recently completed at my Bible Study Class. Those of the study expressed concerns over the worldly deteriorations so a study of one of the prophecies from the Book of Daniel from the Bible.

Daniel 9                                                                    (The 490-year prophecy)

Daniel noticed, in a book, of a number of prophetic years from the words of Jeremiah the prophet. This prophet recorded of the seventy years being required before the end of the Jewish time of desolations. (See below.) Daniel discovered this book during the first year of King Darius, the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus. The Lord  told the prophet that seventy years were decreed upon the Jewish people.

NOTE: The Jews had been in captivity since Nebuchadnezzar’s third invasion of Judah in 586 B.C. See Jeremiah 25: 11-13 and Jeremiah 29:10 for the prophet’s words of the decreed seventy years. In brief, Israel would be desolate for seventy years after their capture by the Babylonians, but  the Lord would perform good  towards Israel after the allotted time. The reason for these years was because the Jews did not keep the sabbatical cycles commanded by the Lord found in Leviticus 25. The Jews were to NOT work the land every seventh year as a rest or sabbath for the land. The time span would equal to seventy years of the land being unplowed. See 2 Chronicles 36: 20-23, also.

An aged Daniel after reading the prophecy began to seek the Lord through much fasting, supplication, and prayer. He knew the seventy years were soon to be completed.

While Daniel was praying and confessing his sin and the sins of the people of Israel, the man Gabriel appeared. Daniel recognized him from a previous vision. Gabriel said to Daniel he had NOW COME to give wisdom and understanding. (In Chapter 8, Daniel wrote he had become ill with the vision event and did not understand. Gabriel was now returning to add additional insight. This same angel would announce the birth of John the Baptist and Christ in the future.) Daniel was told he was greatly beloved and was to hear and understand the vision.

The 490 Years to the End of the Age

Verse 24

Daniel was told in verse 24, “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning thy people and your holy city to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy.”  (Seventy sets of seven years)

The best way to understand this prophecy of the seventieth week is to dissect each line with words of explanation.  Gabriel spoke to Daniel in verse 24 saying; Seventy weeks of years are decreed to his people. Seventy weeks of years equals a total of 490 years. (Seventy times seven. Some translations word this as seventy sevens.) Some Biblical translations record the seventy weeks of years as 490 years. Note Daniel was told this time frame was to be on HIS PEOPLE.” Daniel’s people were the Jews. Remember Daniel was one of the Jews captured from Jerusalem in 586 B.C. So, we know, now, that 490 years are determined to the Jewish people. This time frame of 490 years is a result of the Jews past sins, and iniquities against God, and was mandated by God, to reconcile these people prior to an everlasting righteousness, and to complete prophecy. Also, note the prophecy states those 490 years will be upon the Holy City as well. The Holy City in scripture is Jerusalem. The end result of those years will be an everlasting righteousness and faithfulness, and completion of prophecy with the coming of the Messiah and the forever kingdom. (The second coming of Christ will restore all things to everlasting righteousness and put in place the earthly kingdom as promised throughout the Old Testament Bible through to early Acts.)

Verse 25

Gabriel continued in verse 25, “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven sevens, and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. (The commandment to rebuild Jerusalem starts the time clock of the 490 years.)

The next part of the prophecy breaks down some of the years. Gabriel said seven weeks of years (Forty-nine years to complete the building of the city.) and includes another threescore and two weeks of years. (434 years.) One needs to add these years together and the answer equals 483 years. The rebuilding of Jerusalem had many issues to deal with causing very difficult times.

There are seven years left to complete the prophecy. The permission to rebuild Jerusalem can be found in Nehemiah 2: 1-8. Some confusion may occur since King Cyrus, much earlier, issued a decree to rebuild the temple.(538 B.C.) King Artaxerxes 1 issued a decree to restore Jerusalem. Artaxerxes did his decree in 445 B.C.

Verse 26

The prophecy continued with verse 26, After threescore and two weeks Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall


come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be

with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”

The breakdown continues, “After 483 years, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. Christ died on the cross. The people of the ruler (Prince) who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  War will continue to the end, and desolations have been decreed.

As stated, Christ, as the Messiah, was cut off, and crucified, 483 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

Now, one must read the one part of the prophecy closely. A prince shall come from the people who will destroy the city, and temple. So, we know from history the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed again in 70 A.D.  We need to ask who the people were who destroyed the city? Again, from history we know the Romans under Titus did the deed. (Gentiles) Also, of importance we now know something about the Antichrist of the latter days. We can know, of course, he will be a Gentile and, traditionally, it is believed he will come through a revised type of Roman empire. This has been speculated for years… European Common Market, NATO, United Nations, New World Order, global government, one world government… lots of theories.

Remember, the prophecy stated a total of 490 years to complete the fulfillment. This occurs during those seven years for the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Those seven years are the Seventieth week of Daniel.  (We need to subtract the 483 years from the 490 years. Of course, that equals 7.) Other terms used for these seven years are: The Tribulation and the Time of Jacob’s trouble. (Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.)

Verse 27

Verse 27 states:  “He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven. In the middle of the seven he will put an end to the sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

The “he” with this verse is the prince who shall come. This person will

sign a treaty for seven years with Israel. Other nations will be signing as

well, but the prophecy is dealing with Israel. Israel will suddenly realize peace. A


temple will be erected since we can see from the prophecy the man will break the

treaty in three and half years and put an end to the Jews sacrificing, and their

offerings. A temple, of some sort, in Jerusalem needs to be present in order to have sacrifices as per Old Testament laws. I have read of a prefabricated temple in storage in Israel. The nation of Israel may look upon this antichrist individual as a political Messiah or, possibly, their promised Messiah who was in the prophecies generations ago. Either belief will be disastrous for the majority of the Jewish people. A remnant will survive and recognize Christ at his return.

The Anti-Christ will set up an abomination in the temple. This may be something in regard to sacrificing a pig at the altar. This was done under Titus. The Gentile antichrist will declare himself god and set in the temple as god. Any of these actions would be considered a defilement and abomination of the temple, as per Jewish law. This will last until the last three and a half years are completed. All hell will break upon the Jewish people during this time, as well as the world. This will end at the time of the decree, or the end of the final three and a half years.

Christ in Matthew 24: 15 stated the following: “So, when you see standing in the holy city the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand.” Christ gives the book of Daniel credence. To deny Daniel’s accuracy is to be in unbelief.Christ’s words were prophecies for the 70 A.D. event and/ or the end of the age event.

NOTE: Daniel’s prophecies continue with the chapter twelve words concerning the tribulation period. At that end of that time the Jews will be delivered. GRACE!


The morning produced a deep fog, and I knew once the sun began to burn its way through the fog some great photo opportunities could occur. Off I went to walk along the Allegheny River.

The autumn tree colors are intensifying, and I wanted to be there. My walk would be approximately five miles.

Birch leaves with the river being obscured by fog, but it is there!

One historic finding was the remnants of the old Monticello Furnace. The furnace was built by Robert E. Brown in 1859 to extract local iron. The iron was burned in the furnace. the resulting pig iron was sent to Kittanning and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The furnace was closed in 1875.

All that is left of the Monticello Furnace.