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dsc_0001 The weather people were stating a warm up was coming for the weekend. I needed to hike some more in snow before this  melted.dsc_0018 We did not have very much snow locally this winter.  My decision was to hike the area of Crooked Creek Park. I was hoping to get some eagle pics as they are always in the area.

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I was traveling early and was fortunate to witness a few moments of sunrise. Cloud cover was dominate, but hints of sun would occasionally peak  dsc_0034through. (Later in the day the sun was more prominent.) I arrived on site around 7:20 A.M. The hike was on!

dsc_0025  The lake follows the old creek bottom. It is easy to see how Crooked Creek became known as such. The original waterways meanders in a very crooked manner. At one point which is the current beach area one can stand with water on three sides.

Sycamore seed pod

Sycamore seed pod

While I stood on the, now abandoned, beach area I saw over fifty Canada Geese flying over and landing on the lake. It was obvious the pairing off of the geese was on. Also, on the lake were mergansers and wood ducks. No eagles!

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I walked along a high ridge and spotted an immature Bald eagle at about thirty yards or less. However, the branches of hemlocks would not permit a single photograph. Of course, the eagle wasn’t going to allow much time to find a good opening. This would be the only eagle I would see this day.

I hiked below the overflow area. the creek was high since the dam was allowing for back up water to escape. I saw two Great Blue herons flying over the waters.

dsc_0042     Deer were plentiful. I saw twenty deer this day. Some were bedded and others were feeding.

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Bayernhof Music Museum

dsc_0003  We finally made a trip to the Bayernhof Music Museum. A friend told me of this museum quite some time ago. Today we had the dsc_0013opportunity to visit the site near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

The overlook

The overlook

The 19,000 square feet building is located hill on a hill overlooking the Allegheny River just outside of the city. Also, the site overlooks the Highland Park area including the zoo, Oakland and downtown Pittsburgh.The view is something to see. the building was built by Charles Boyd Brown. Mr. Brown died dsc_0018in 1999. He was a collector of antique musical instruments. Mr. brown, also, loved anything from the area of Bavaria in Europe.

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dsc_0008   The home has ten fireplaces, eight full baths, three powder rooms and three kitchens. It has eleven wet bars scattered around the building. Some secret passageways can be discovered once someone shows them where they are. Spiral steps, an indoor swimming pool with a ten foot waterfall are on the premises. Mr. Brown, also, had a reflecting telescope installed.              dsc_0011

A most unique feature on site is the “cave”. This is a created cave that meanders through the lower basement area and has stalactites and stalagmites built to observe.

Antiques and art and murals can be observed at the museum.  Need to take a sauna?  yes, the building has one along with a tanning room and Jacuzzi.

Each chair was hand-carved with a different animal on it.

Each chair was hand-carved with a different animal on it.

dsc_0010  However, the collection yields to many very old , rare and automatic musical instrument. Many of these were created in the 1800 time frame. One might hear something that would have been used prior to the “talkie” movies.  Many of these had to be restored to their original grandeur.

For more information see: http://www.bayernhofmuseum.com                                                     dsc_0019

Roaring Run Hike

Kiski River

Kiski River

By remembering the mile marker posts and studying the official trail map I determined we may have hiked as much as eight  dsc_0015miles. My friend, Frank Maus an I traveled the trail this cold February morning.  Frankie had never been at this area and was anxious to see the sights. I have hiked on  the Roaring Run Trail before as well as hiked it before.  Check out: http://www.roaringrun.org  for more information on the trail.

The Roaring Run Trail flows alongside the Kiskimineatas River in southern Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. Many years ago I remember the waterways to be orange from mine acid drainage issues. Today the water is clean and beautiful thanks to many efforts to clean it up. Many species of fish inhabit these waters today. There are some small communities of Armstrong County that can be found along this river. Some are Avonmore; Edmon; Apollo; Vandergrift and Leechburg. The “Kiski” River as it is known by many locals flows into the Allegheny River at Schenley, Pennsylvania.  (My father worked over forty years at the Schenley Distilleries located at Schenley. And he didn’t drink!) During the years of approximately 1825 to 1850 a canal was present along this river.

 

Roaring Run

Roaring Run

 

Beaver sign

Beaver sign

The first signs of wildlife were a small flock of Canada Geese flying low and close. We weren’t hardly out of jeep yet when they  dsc_0012 appeared. My camera was still in my shoulder bag. Later, we saw two Mallard Ducks along the shoreline. The river was up some and was flowing quickly. We noticed a lot of Beaver activity along the river’s edge.

Eventually, we stopped and turned at Roaring Run’s mouth where it entered the Kiski River. Here we turned to hike the Rock Furnace Trail. Originally this furnace was known as Biddle’s Iron Furnace.

A huge boulder erupts above Roaring Run at the site of long-abandoned furnace. The rock if known as Camel Rock.

 

Camel Rock

Camel Rock

dsc_0004   Time moved fast as we talked and laughed. We discussed fishing these waters in the future. I plan to do so as well as hike some more as the spring wildflowers bloom.

 

I had come to the conclusion that a deer season without a deer could be reality. Illness and pains; bad luck and fate; blunders and misses all occurred  dsc_0010within the last  month and a half. My confidence had been shattered.

I didn’t hunt Thursday or Friday and I hadn’t planned on hunting today. (January 14) However, last evening I decided to hunt for a few hours if the weather didn’t get too bad. Freezing rain was a possibility. This began around nine o’clock along with snow. This fact kept me checking the pan powder often. I would have dampness being absorbed into the pan powder at times despite my efforts to keep my powder dry. Several times I needed to dig the caked powder, dry and add fresh powder.

I was sneaking around the best I could under the frosty conditions on the forest floor when I saw a bedded deer about eighty yards away. I soon noticed a second deer bedded along with a meandering doe. (A fourth deer would later be viewed.) This moving doe spotted me standing. She failed to identify me and was curious and walked towards me a short distance. Limbs kept me from shooting, but I hoped for an open shot.

dsc_0006 The fourth deer snorted as the deer began moving around. They walked away wondering what happened. I quickly backtracked and moved to where I hoped they might come through. They went down over the hill. I would see another deer feeding in posted land.

I saw some squirrels and flushed a turkey off a hill.

I was heading towards the jeep to quit since I had planned to exit around one o’clock. However, something interesting happened. I spotted a turkey

Note the eye!

Note the eye!

standing with its head pulled in as if it might be sleeping. I have witnessed something I had called “stupor time” with turkeys. I observed an entire flock one winter stop and go to sleep. the flock of 30-35 birds all did this for about half an hour before beginning to feed again.

I walked close enough to reach down and touch this turkey before it reacted. It few before getting tangled among limbs and falling back to the ground. the turkey began walking about giving the alarm call. The bird went airborne again only to land in multiflora rose. I lost sight of the turkey. I took a number of photos and the left eye appears to be blind. Also, the head seems to me to not look right.

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I left the dentist office around one 0’clock in the afternoon on Monday, January 9. Preliminary work was completed for the process of having a tooth again. (I broke my tooth off a week ago.) I went home and decided a should grab the flintlock and try for a deer in the remaining time.

I arrived at the site I had planned to hunt around 1: 40 P.M. I was excited with the changing weather conditions.  The sun had been out some this day and the temperatures and risen from the single digit temps previously. the winds were not as strong either. Also, I had seen 5-6 deer feeding as I was driving to this hunt. Maybe the deer were out feeding due to the changes.

Immediately, I noticed the eastern slope was not as noisy as the previous two hunting days for me. The snow has softened and the frost seemed to be exiting the ground.  That observation changed as I climbed the hill. the top was still crunchy and most of the woodland steps produced the twin sounds of compaction of snow and busting frost.

I was sneaking along on the eastern side of the hill when I saw a deer’s body about eighteen yards away. I readied Old Jacob and tried to determine which side of the body was the vital area. I COULDN”T SEE THE NECK OR HEAD due to brush! With the flintlock read I leaned to my right and saw the definite view of a deer eye and ear. As experienced sneakers know, often the deer will react immediately upon reaching the point of direct eye contact. the doe was up and gone in a second. I saw one more deer this evening.

We were told via the weather people  January 10 would have snow early changing to freezing rain by 9-10 and turning to rain later.  I didn’t plan to hunt for this all sound problematic for a flintlock rifle. If that black powder gets wet the result is a failed shot. However, by 11:00 I decided I should gamble and go hunting. The snow was fresh and no rain had fallen. I was ready to go just prior to 11:30 and I noticed a little very light rain.

I decided to go to a local state game lands to try my luck. Before I pulled out of the drive the rain had picked up still I was going to try a hunt. The five miles produced slightly heavier rain.  I saw a ringneck hen flush.

I soon would look over an embankment to see two deer feeding. I froze. they were about 70 yards. A third deer materialized. A deer began moving towards me at an angle and I was hopeful all of this would come together. The deer stopped at about 45 yards. I couldn’t get a clear shot due to limbs, briars and vines. I could only hope as I noticed the wind wasn’t right for me. The deer would begin snorting, but she held her ground for another five minutes. the other two deer were still feeding but moving away. The close deer eventually moved to them and they all three moved around a hill into posted property. The rains increased.

 

'possum

‘possum

I still-hunted through an area with a lot of oak trees. Deer feeding had occurred sometime this morning. I was startled to see a mid-size opossum feeding on acorns. I took some pics as the rain increased. the snow in the hour since I started this hunt had decreased by about fifty percent.  I was really wet with an all attempt to keep the rifle dry. I used a treated piece of leather draped over the lock.  dsc_0013

I spotted a deer standing at about fifty yards, but brush didn’t allow for a clean shot. A second deer was spotted. She had two steps to complete her stance for an open shot. The first deer turned and moved and the second deer turned to join. This gully had a section of very thick brush about thirty feet in length and 15 feet in width. If the deer moved out in any direction they would be visible. A major problem for me was a growth of vines and briars blocking my view.

I had set down on a leg in the wet snow figuring the shot was at hand. After five minutes, my leg was soaked and I was getting cold. I believed those deer had to have bedded down. I stood up and moved a couple of steps to my left as I watched two deer jump up and move out. Oh well! I decided to head home. I shot the flintlock as I reached the vehicle and he went off perfectly despite the heavy rain.

I returned home and received a call that the dentist had a cancel and I went and had my tooth completed repaired!     dsc_0012

My painting MOVING THROUGH of a black bear is available for purchase as a print and/ot conservation stamp. See this link if interested.

 

http://dnr2.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/Education/bbcp.aspx

dsc_0016 Friday, January 6, we had a woodland covered with about one and a half inches of snow. However, the  dsc_0014temperatures were frigid. The morning began with in single digits. Fortunately, the morning was calm. Unfortunately, for me the winds began picking up about mid-morning. I’ll explain later.

I walked some trails first thing in the morning just to get a feel as to how the deer had moved over the night hours. Along these trails I saw coyote and fox tracks. The only deer tracks I saw had much snow in them hence they had been in the area prior to midnight for the snow had quite around that time. Walking would be noisy in this snow. All leaves underneath the snow were frozen and each step sounded like compaction and crunch.

I continued to walk and upon entering a field tracks became numerous and that would be the norm for the rest of the time I hunted. Eventually, I approached a round top area where seeing around can be good. I would see four deer walking along, but out of range. I observed these deer until they had walked to my extreme left. I caught a glimpse through the brush of the lead deer turning left. I knew what I needed to do! I backtracked quickly and set down on a log. if those deer maintained the direction they should walk to me. The increasing wind was hitting me on my left side. Sometimes I felt it more directly upon my face.

A total of about ten minutes elapsed when I first noticed deer movement. Here they come! The lead deer was about forty yards when she stopped and turned to her left. I could see the alert mode. I wondered what alerted her. There was enough limbs that I couldn’t shoot. In a moment she backtracked and was out of view. It was then I noticed the change in wind upon my neck. I actually talked internally that the deer was going to be mine! Things can change fast! I saw a flock of turkeys and a number of squirrels.

dsc_0025  I quit the area and went to visit my mother and Bob. I went behind the homestead to an area covered with goldenrods and brambles and briars. I saw three deer moving along the side of the hill. I trailed them and found they had crossed into posted property. I saw three more deer and they did the same thing. I decided to call the hunt.

Turkeys gotta eat, too!

Turkeys gotta eat, too!

Today, the 7th, found the very same conditions…single digits and increasing winds as the day went along. Also, the snow was still very noisy to walk on.

I moved into the woods to watch. Very cold to remain immobile for much more than half an hour. I was easing along and I noticed the hind quarters of a deer about 130 yards away. There would be five deer total as they went into a patch of green briars. I moved along hoping they might change their course and come towards me. They did.

I had Old Jacob up against a tree. The lead deer was moving along and within range. I cocked the hammer and the deer stopped abruptly upon hearing the sound. I was trying to align the site, but a tree of about eight inches or so in diameter lined up with the deer’s front shoulder. The deer was looking for the source of the sound. I began checking the rearward deer for a shot. A moment passed and the deer turned back the way they came.

I employed a circle movement to try to intercept them. I failed. The deer went an incredible distance for an annoyance they didn’t identify…ME! I quit about 1:30 to head home. I saw eight deer today. Squirrels wre setting tight this morning.