Thoughts and pictures of my wanderings through the Allegheny Mountains hunting grouse and woodcock with my Ryman-type English Setters during the fall and winter months, fishing for smallmouth bass in local streams and rivers during the summer months and wandering over my 66 acres of heaven year round.
The wife and I took a ride up into northern Huntingdon County to visit the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center. It features educational programs, a raptor center with hawks, owls, and other raptors that are injured in some way and not able to be released into the wild, and a collection of reptiles and amphibians to view. Here are some pics of the raptors they have. Forgot to get any pics of the nice rattlesnake & copperhead that was also there.
A Great Horned Owl
A pair of Barn Owls
A trio of Barred Owls
A Black Vulture
A Peregrine Falcon
A Bald Eagle
A very interesting place tucked away in the Stone Valley region of Huntingdon County.
Ashmead's Kernel is an English apple that originated in the gardens of Dr. Thomas Ashmead in the early 1700's It's is often described as having an "intense" sweet-sharp flavor which mellows after a month in storage. It's has hard crispy flesh as do many russeted apples. On my morning walk I noticed quite a few on the ground with some bits of branches still attached. No sign of bear damage, I'm thinking a raccoon visited the tree last night so I picked what apples I could reach from the ground so that I could have some to enjoy. I'll return tomorrow morning with my apple picker ( a wire basket with "fingers" that is attached to a extendable fiberglass pole" and pick the apples that were out of reach.
A rainy day proved to give me the incentive to load up some 16 gauge shells for my Damascus barreled girls. I keep the pressure in the 6500 or lower psi range. Early season woodcock will find me shooting 7/8 oz. loads from both barrels. Later in the season I'll load a 1 oz. load in the left barrel. This is how I cut down a Cheddite hull to approx. 2 1/2 inches.
A dowel rod slightly smaller than the inside of a 16 ga. hull with a hole drilled in it for an exacto blade that is carefully driven up through the hole. The flat headed screw on the end lets me cut hulls to different lengths.
I run the hull through the single stage Mec reloader until I reach the crimp station. Then it goes in the portable vice below the roll crimp tool.
I insert the round cardboard disc on top of the shot.............
and slowly pull the handle down on the slow running drill press.
This is what I end up with a shell to match the old hammerguns that I love to carry.
Thicket and I made it out for a preseason run yesterday. I had been battling a kidney stone for over 3 weeks, but I'm now on the road to recovery and was anxious to get Thicket a noseful of bird scent. We headed for Piney Creek which had held woodcock last fall and this spring for us to enjoy. The cover was especially thick.
Since I don't run a bell on Thicket and only set the beeper collar on point mode the Tek 1.0 tracking collar proved to be invaluable in keep track of Thicket. Early in the run Thicket ranged out to beyond 150 yards, which is the maximum range I want her to go, so I pressed the vibration button on her shock collar and she responded immediately and checked back in with me.
Although she hunted the cover thoroughly we didn't find any birds so we moved on to another covert.
The Bennett Run covert as discovered by Emma and I this spring. I had hunted the side of the ridge several times with a few grouse flushes but had never journeyed down to the bottom of the hollow. This spring Emma and I found a small stream with a narrow strip of brushy bottom land and had been rewarded with a good number of woodcock points.
At the mouth of the hollow where private land began Thicket's beeper went on point mode in very thick multiflora rose. I tried to reach her but after about 10 beeps the beeper fell silent. I continued to fight my way through the rose when suddenly a large woodcock took flight just in front of me. Thicket soon came crashing through the brush and I reasoned that perhaps the woodcock had run out from her point and she had been trailing it. Whatever the scenario that was the only woodcock we found on this day and we worked our way back up the ridge drenched in sweat but happy to have found a bird.
I discovered a crabapple growing along the chicken yard fence. This is the first year it's bore fruit. It has a different shape than any crab I've seen and I've christened it the Pumpkin Crab.
It's a beautiful little crab with it's combination of bright red and yellow and the ribbed shape reminds me of a pumpkin. I plan on grafting a few scions of it to spread round the homestead for the wildlife and for it's ornamental beauty.
I picked some Pitmaston Pineapple apples last week. They are a small English heirloom apple with a sweet tangy flavor. I had planted this tree in 1993 and some years ago (I don't really remember when) it had blown over but still had enough roots underground to keep growing. Growing in a neglected corner I had ignored it for too many years so last winter I did some heavy pruning and was rewarded with a nice crop of apples this summer.
This morning I checked on my Wealthy apple tree. I had looked at it several days ago and this morning I found the 3 apples it was carrying laying on the ground. No wildlife had found them yet so I immediately ate one. Although not as crisp as I like my apples it had a good taste, a mixture of sweet and tart and I enjoyed it.