The Great Outdoors: Nature’s Wonders Can Be Found Right in Our Backyard

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my last day of exploration in Glacier National Park.

It’s one of the great wonders of North America, and I had been hoping to visit it for many years.

While I feel fortunate to be able to visit the park, I also feel blessed that when I need to get outdoors and shake off the cobwebs, all that’s needed is a walk out the front door.

Sometimes a short Jeep ride may be necessary, but those who live in our area are lucky to have such wondrous natural features virtually in our backyard.

Lately, I’ve been becoming more familiar with State Game Lands 244 in Jefferson County. It’s a large tract of woods, fields, and waterways that are home to a dizzying array of fish, birds, and animals.

SGL 244 is nearly 5,000 acres in size and sits in several Jefferson County townships. It has 15 separate parking areas for hunters and other recreational users. 

Over the years, the area between Reynoldsville and Emerickville has provided my friends, family, and I with a lot of good times.

I didn’t spend much time there until after I graduated college, but one of those times showed me just how crazy white-tailed bucks can behave during the rut.  I was turkey hunting one November morning and was working my way along an old logging road. All of sudden, a small buck nearly ran me over, followed closely by another buck, just a bit bigger.  While they ran within a few feet of me, I’m still not sure if they ever knew I was there.  It was an illustrative example of the unpredictable behavior of deer during the mating season.

Another part of SGL 244 that has been enjoyable is near the maintenance building where the Food & Cover Corp stores the equipment it uses to maintain the lands and roads in the area. It’s also where the bear check station is during the hunting season in November.  That particular area has a chunk of land that is managed for primarily small game, but while there is cover for small critters like cottontail rabbits, there is also cover for just about everything else.  We’ve taken the beagles there, and there has never been a shortage of bunnies for the dogs to chase. , and There have even been times that we enjoyed the fun of having the dogs flush pheasants that were recently stocked.

7:7:16 bunny

More recently, I’ve been checking out the area near Lakelawn Cemetery off Fire Tower Road. It has a nice mix of mature hardwoods and open, grassy areas.  On July 4 morning, Brandi and I got out the door before it started to get warm. We parked at one of the designated spots and walked down a gated, service road that is mainly used for gas well tenders.  At 14, I don’t push Brandi to walk too far when the weather is warm and humid, but she’s always game for most anything I decide to do, particularly in the woods.

After we had walked for about 45 minutes, we turned around. We had passed a grassy, little-traveled road behind the gate, and I wanted to see what was up there.  We took a shortcut through the woods and came out into an opening. We weren’t quite halfway up the hill, but it was a good-looking area for critters to spend time in the summer. It had been recently mowed in an oblong shape and made for a more worry (and tick) free walk.

Before we had moved far at all, I spied a few turkey feathers. It seemed like an area they would dust in, but as I kept looking, there were quite a few feathers on the ground. Then, I saw what little remained from a gobbler, one of his legs with a half-inch spur on it.  Brandi liked what she found as some marrow still remained on the bones, and she munched for a bit.  I don’t know what killed the gobbler, but a coyote or bobcat, are my top bets. 

It was easy to envision a few scenarios where a predator may have grabbed the bird.

In the tall grass, something could hide undetected out of sight as the bird or birds worked their way along the cut, eating grasshoppers and other insects in the dewy morning grass. If the predator timed it right, it could have rushed the bird and made a quick kill. Or, it could have just got lucky while it was working the edge of the cover in the hope of grabbing a mouse.

In any event, a wild turkey dinner for any predator is a rare treat and a welcome one.


“The Great Outdoors,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, is a weekly blog by’s Scott Shindledecker. Plan you next outdoor adventure at or call (814) 849-5197 for more information.

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