Thursday, February 23, 2017

Their Moving North

Late getting this posted but Thicket and I walked the Piney Creek Covert last Sunday and moved two woodcock. One I saw flush ahead of her and the other one she pointed and then left the point. Still hoping she will decide that woodcock are the reason we're in the coverts and starts holding her points. Here are some pics of my favorite covert.














Wednesday, February 8, 2017

For the Love of Apples

With the hunting season over and the woodcock flights not yet arriving I've been busy pruning apple trees and cutting scion wood both for my own use and to trade with other grafters across the country. I get a lot of use out of my ARS pole pruner.
 
 
 
The majority of my trees are 3 years old and are at the age where I can decide what will be left to become major limbs.
 


 
 I find grafting to be a very interesting hobby. Although many old apple varieties have been lost to time there are a small group of people that have kept many old varieties alive.  Their names and the history behind them are what I find fascinating.
 
  The Scottish apple Bloody Ploughman takes its name from a ploughman who was shot stealing apples from the Megginch estate. His wife threw the apples into the rubbish heap and a seedling grew into an apple tree that bore fine tasting fruit.
 
The Limbertwig family of apple trees saved by the late Harry Morton who sought out old homesteads in the Smokey Mountains where these trees were first grown from seeds.  Brushy Mountain, Swiss, Caney Fork, Ruby, and Red Royal are just some of the Limbertwigs varieties that I have grafted.
 
Arkansas Black which originated in Arkansas in the late 1800's. A very hard apple which keeps long into the winter and improves with age.
 
Court Penu Plat, an old French variety first recorded in 1613 and was probably cultivated by the Romans.
 
These are just  a small sample of the 100+ varieties I have grafted over the past 3 years.  I realize that at my age I probably won't see these trees reach full maturity, but I feel the need to plant them so that hopefully some future apple lover will enjoy these unique varieties and perhaps even gather scion from them to keep these special trees alive and thriving.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

End of Season

Our grouse season ended Saturday but my last hunting day was on Thursday. Thicket and I moved 4 grouse but none would hold still for a point. At least I know that there may be some "breeders" left for next spring.





Thicket enjoyed the time afield even if the birds didn't cooperate.


 
 
As always I look to nature of interesting pics. Here are some different fungi I saw.


 
Just read that the Pa. Game Commission is proposing to end the after Christmas grouse season next year.  While this is surely not the reason for the grouse decline in Pa maybe it will allow some "breeders" to survive and perhaps increase the population. 


Monday, January 16, 2017

Finally Made it Back Out

The weather, health problems, and medical procedures have kept me out of the woods for several weeks. Things finally "lined up" and Thicket and I headed north today to hunt the Windy Ridge, Brady, and Irvin coverts.


 
I saw Thicket working scent below me but she crowded the grouse and it flushed out in front of her. Later her beeper went off  but before I could reach her the bird flushed. Whether she crowded it or it flushed on it's own I don't know.
 
This was only my second time hunting the Irvin covert. It looks like it should hold some birds and although Thicket hunted it hard we moved no birds today.


 
 
As we worked our way back toward the truck through the Brady covert something lying in the old gas well road caught my eye. When I picked it up I saw that it was the paper disc off the end of my roll crimped shell that I had shot at a bird Emma had pointed several weeks ago. A reminder of a bird I should have hit.
 
 
No birds were found in the Brady covert either so the hunt ended with two bird contacts. Hopefully Thicket  learned a little something from them.


 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Wild Flushes and Empty Points

Emma and I hunted the Belden covert last week. The battery in my camera went dead part way through the hunt so pics are limited. It's a lung bursting climb up the ridge to get to the clear cut. Much of the cut is thick with blackberry briers with aspen and locust trees coming back. Right now I hunt mostly the edges.






I heard one wild flush and Emma had two empty points. After we made it back to the truck we traveled up the road a little ways to the Sandy Run covert. I had only been there once before shortly after it had been timbered off some years ago.  It's a cut on the side of a steep ridge with a logging road running through it. It had been fenced but now had the fencing taken down.  I walked the logging road with Emma working the steep slope. I saw two different grouse flush wild in the cut below the road even though Emma and I were nowhere near them. At the end of the cut I followed a road that ran around the lower part of the cut that had been pushed out when they had put up the fencing. Emma went on point in the tangles and I slowly worked my way in. She held tightly and even though I trampled the cover thoroughly I didn't flush a bird. If the weather holds I may try to get back to this covert for another try.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Frugality Covert

Thicket and I hunted the Frugality covert this week.  Surrounded by a deer fence erected by the Pa Game Commission, it had been partially clear cut 10+ years ago and this summer the rest of the trees were removed.


 
It has a nice amount of aspen with maple, locust, and sumac scattered through it, and also some grapevines and greenbrier.



 
Thicket had one point about 80 yards away. I fought my way through the saplings, but as I drew near her beeper went silent and I found her hunting furiously in circles. Although I didn't see or hear a flush I have to believe she had a grouse pointed, but it flushed as I approached her.  Here she is cooling off in a mud puddle as the day warmed up.


 
 
 We tried two more covers, the first one was past its prime growing back mostly in Black Birch and the second was an old logging road running along some pine and apple tree cover. Neither spot held any birds so we called it a day.
 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Missed Opportunity

A combination of various aches and pains and icy mountain roads have kept me out of my grouse coverts this second season.  I finally ventured out last week with Thicket to two of my southern coverts. We tried the clear cut along the Heifer Lick trail but had no luck.





We then moved a couple of miles to Bennett Ridge a small covert with a mix of hawthorn and aspen. Although Thicket hunted hard we didn't find any birds here either.


 
Yesterday Emma and I headed north in the hope that we could find some ice free roads to reach a few of our coverts. The road leading to the Gorman covert was a thick sheet of ice, but we were able to get to the Yoder covert.  A thick fog and high wind had for a rough hunt. We tried the steep ridge with its tree top cover. Emma had one empty point that got my heart pounding but the bird must have  flushed before I reached her.



 
We hunted over the top of the ridge and dropped down onto a gas well road.



 
 
Suddenly Emma's beeper sounded off on the ridge above me. I found her pointing into a downed pine and as I approached a grouse flushed giving me an open shot. I threw both loads of 7 1/2 shot at it but it winged away unharmed. I felt the wave of disappointment as you watch a bird fly away that you should have gotten, but I also felt the pride of the fine work that Emma had done, finding the bird and holding the point until I arrived.  It proved to be the only bird we found today as we returned to the truck cold, wet, tired but satisfied that although my gamebag was empty we had tried our best and this day the bird had won.