Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pruning the Apple Trees

With over 100 mostly young apple trees my pruning chores aren't too over powering yet.  Here are some before and after pics of a Williams Pride apple tree. I grafted the scion to a "volunteer" apple tree in 2014 and hope to get some apples from it this year.

 
This pic shows the graft union.  I had cut the tree off at about chest height and used a "bark graft" to graft two pieces of scion to the trunk.
 
 
 
It was a dreary rainy morning and the pic didn't turn out very well, but you can see some of the unruly growth against the sky.
 
 
After pruning many of the limbs more air and light can get to the center of the tree promoting better health and hopefully some nice apples to enjoy this fall.
 
Although it takes time and work I enjoy pruning apples trees.  Choosing which limbs to cut and which ones to let grow you shape the tree into the form you want it to grow into.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Snowy Morning Pics

Just some random pics I took this morning as I did the chores.



The squirrels were out having breakfast in the snow.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some of the Cochin bantam coops.
 
 

 
Thicket and Emma enjoying the snow.
 

 
The old Sinkhole apple tree still holding some fruit for the wildlife.
 


 
The #5 crab. I've been knocking off apples since early fall for the deer and it's still carrying a load of fruit.
 
 
Thicket says "what do you mean it time to go inside".


Sunday, November 26, 2017

One Last Hunt

Emma and I returned to the Shawnee Creek Covert on the last day of the season.


 
 
We found splash but only a few birds.
 

 
Emma on point.

 
Several birds gave me no chance for a shot, but I did manage to down a big hen woodcock with my left barrel.
 
And so ends another woodcock season. The birds seem to be migrating late this year. I found native birds early in the season, then mid season my coverts were empty as the natives had moved south and the northern birds had yet to arrive and now at the end of the season I'm finding the big hen woodcock who start south before the smaller males.
 
As I get older the seasons get more precious and the experience of walking through a lovely covert is in its self a wonderful memory, with the birds being a special bonus.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Flight of Woodcock

My friend Russell and I hunted the Shawnee Creek Covert with Emma yesterday and had a wonderful hunt. The birds were there and Emma was at the top of her game.  Three of her points resulted in double flushes with Russell and I both downing a bird on one of the points.






Russell was shooting  his grandfathers 16 gauge Model 12.
 
 
 
"The Twig"  the little Belgium 16 gauge hammergun did her job today.
 
Emma making a retrieve.
 
After a season of mostly empty coverts the woodcock seem to be moving south.
It was a hunt that Russell and I will recall for years to come.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Canaan Valley Hunt

I met up with Eric Rinehart yesterday to hunt the Canaan Valley in West Virginia. Made famous in George Bird Evans writings as a grouse and woodcock mecca in the 50's and 60's. It's a mere shadow of it's former glory days drawing hunters now who are more interested in it's history and wild desolate scenery than killing a ton of birds.
 
 
I brought Emma to hunt with Eric's 7 month old Tucker.
 


 
As expected Tucker still has a lot of  "play" in him but with experience he should grow into a fine birddog.
 
Emma found us one woodcock which gave me "the slip" flushing out behind both Emma and myself. It was a windy day which no doubt hindered Emma's scenting ability. Later Emma had a strong point that proved to be empty, the bird must have flown before I reached her.
Although I would have liked to hunted longer my knee started to "complain" and I had to call it a day. Hopefully next year we can hit a "flight" of birds and have more shooting. If not we'll still enjoy the immense solitude that the Valley offers.


Friday, November 10, 2017

A Slow Week

I had expected to find more birds this week, but the woodcock proved me wrong.  Appointments and the weather kept me from hunting until Weds. when Thicket and I headed for the Church Hill covert. A thin covering of snow clung to everything.

 
Although we hunted hard the woodcock were few. I did end up with this pic.
 
I had the camera out taking a pic of a hawthorn tree when Thicket came in from my right and bumped a woodcock. When I got home I found this pic on the camera. When the bird flushed I must have had my camera pointing at just the right angle and instinctively hit the shutter button. I didn't realize I had even taken the pic.  It was truly a one in a life time shot.
I cropped the pic the get a nice "shot" of just the bird.
 
On Thurs. Thicket and I headed to the J & K covert. A huge reclaimed strip mine sitting on top of a mountain growing back with locust, spruce and a scattering of aspen. I've never found a lot of birds here but do have some wonderful memories of hunts with Emma.


This day no birds were found.
 
On Friday my friend Russell and I hunted the Piney Creek covert with Emma.
Usually my most reliable covert we didn't find a single bird today.
 
So what I thought would be a good week for woodcock turned out just the opposite.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

My Hunts This Week

High winds on Monday kept us out of the coverts, but on Tuesday Thicket and I head for the Lloydville  covert.
 
 





Although the cover looked good and I flushed two grouse out of pine trees the woodcock were absent.
 
On Thursday Thicket and I headed to Piney Creek.



 
Sadly she slipped back into the habit of pointing the bird until I got near her and then walking away from the point. On her third point I called her back into the area where she was pointing and she repointed the bird. I walked in and flushed it and dropped it with the right barrel. She hunted hard and found the bird and carried it away from me about 20 feet, dropped it and looked back at me. Although frustrating I'll be patient and keep exposing her to woodcock with the hope that the "light" will come on and she will become more solid on her points.

 
 
On Friday  Emma and I hunted the Shawnee Creek Covert and the birds were there.


 
The hawthorn are carrying a good crop this year with many fruit on the ground.
 
They proved to be wiley and used the thick cover to their advantage.  I missed the first two birds and then had several flush without giving me a chance to shoot. I finally had one flush back just over my head. I turned and fired and saw the bird drop into an opening. Emma ran into the opening and went on point. Suddenly the bird reflushed and flew over my head again. I saw one of it's legs dangling and I waited as long as I could before firing another shot which connected.  Emma ran to the bird but wouldn't pick it up and as I walked to it I saw that my close shot had completely decapitated it.
Emma found several more birds with me missing another one and several flushing without giving me a shot. We ended up back at the truck tired, wet but happy never the less with the number of birds we encountered.