Big Buck – Great Story

November 20th, 2014

Brock and Darryl deer 001Brock and Darryl deer 002The next few paragraphs are written by my Nephew Brock Ansel. He shot a beautiful 9 pointer on opening day and has quite a story to tell.  Here it is in his own words.  I’m posting a picture of Brock with his buck, and one with him and his  son Owen at the Jerome game pole.

I ended up getting permission to hunt 40 acres which is 10 minutes north of my house in Jerome about 2 weeks ago. As soon as I got permission I ended up buying and putting together 2 ladder stands, one overlooking a 10 acre hay field and the other over looking a swamp. I baited with corn and pumpkins and let it sit for a week. On opening day I couldn’t sleep so I ended up heading to the property at 5 a.m.. At 6 a.m. I could hear a few deer come and go but it was still too dark to see. At 7 a.m. I saw a 5 point chasing 3 does through the woods and around 8 a.m. that same 5 pointer gave me a shot but I passed. At 9 a.m. I heard a crash behind me about 50 yards, and when I turned around I saw 3 does. Then behind a tree (about 4 feet wide) I could see horns on one side and a deer butt on the other. I’m left handed and hold the butt of my Muzzleloader in my left shoulder but to make this shot I put the butt of my gun in my right shoulder. This is a shot that I have never practiced! I was ready when the buck moved forward but he decided to take a few steps back, so I had to readjust my target, and when he presented his shoulder I let a bullet fly. I had to wait which felt like minutes for the smoke to clear and when it did, I saw him limping up the hill into a hay field and I was able to see him stager and drop after going only 30 yards. Just the relief I felt when I saw him drop was amazing, I didn’t  have to second guess if I made a good shot or if I was going to have enough blood to track him, all that nervous energy was gone immediately, and then it was onto PARTY TIME!

I have only dropped one other wall hanger in my years of hunting and it was at Uncle Randy’s property in Marquette. I was 16 at the time and just assumed that I would get a big boy every year going forward, boy was I wrong. 16 years later at 32 years old I have another wall hanger. My first big buck sits above my 2 year old Owen’s bed and this buck is going to hang above my 8 month old son Greer’s bed in due time! I’ve truly cherished this moment and all that comes with it because I don’t know if this will happen again in 16 years when I’m 48 or even in my lifetime, so I’m just soaking in the memories and camaraderie that bagging this big boy has brought me. Opening day morning I took my buck to Jerome Country Market and put him on the buck pole and out of 250 bucks entered, my name was drawn and I was awarded with a new beautiful tree stand.  It doesn’t get any better than this!

Successful Deer Reports Slowly Coming In!

November 18th, 2014

tom and scotts big deer 001tom and scotts big deer 002deer pics 2014 012deer pics 2014 004deer pics 2014 011deer pics 2014 009Well so much for the forecast of a warmer and,  less snowy Winter!  My brother came back from the Upper Peninsula and said it was the worst year they had ever had.  Deep snow prevented the 4-wheelers from getting around. and the deer were either “hunkered” down, or just weren’t there!  Their group of 4 never fired a shot.  Last year they hung three bucks on the pole.

A friend of mine (Ken Curry) shot a respectable 8 pointer near Mio, but it was the only deer he had seen in two weeks of hunting.  He hunts with a group from Monroe that totals 12 hunters, and so far Ken has the only deer!  They all hunt the general vicinity I hunt, and between me and my two neighbors we saw exactly “no” deer!

I have a couple brothers and nephews that hunt the southern part of the state and they have seemed to fare better.  Nephew Brock Ansel downed a big 8 pointer near Jackson.  They also had a 10 pointer taken from their group.  No report yet from brother Darryl, but as yet he has not filled his bow tag, and that is highly unusual for him!  I also have not heard from the Marquette Baldwin camp, but would expect them to have some success in spite of the deep snow.

All in all I believe the total deer kill is going to be way down this year, especially in the Upper Peninsula and the Northern Lower Peninsula.  In fact if we have another rough winter, the remaining deer are going to be in real trouble.

I am going to post a few pictures of hunter success from around the state, that I selected randomly from the DNR website.

After I posted this I realized I forgot about my brother Brads brother-in-law (Tom Beaudrie) who downed a huge 9 pointer, and friend Scott Calloway who shot a monster 10 point in Hillsdale.  Both bucks will score high enough to make “Michigan Commemorative Bucks record book!  Scott is in the first picture, then Tom, then Ken.  Eat your hearts out fellow Michigan hunters!


Doe Permits And Winter Die Off Drastically Effect Northern Deer Numbers

November 16th, 2014

No Deer 003It seems that the price hike in Michigan hunting licenses has severely effected license sales.  Many Michigan hunters have balked at spending the extra money and it shows in total licenses sold.  So far sales are around 1.2 million which is down from the last several years.  Also “out of state” sales is lagging behind due to the increase in cost.  Maybe adding that extra $11.00 dollar (license to buy a license) wasn’t such a good idea after all.

I’m going to make a prediction based on what I have witnesses over the last two months of  spending time in the Northern Lower peninsula.  The deer harvest will be down!  Especially in my part of the state.

Last year I was seeing 8-15 deer every day.  I saw tracks along the roads, and at night deer where everywhere.  I have seen a grand total of 3 deer in the last 2 months around my place.  I was fortunate enough to harvest all three, as my grandson got in the act with me.  It would almost seem that I eradicated the whole herd by myself, but I’m still getting a few pictures on my trail camera.  Nothing like last year though.

I just returned from my place and hunted a couple days of bow season and the opener of gun season and failed to see a deer.  I took a 5 mile ride on my 4-wheeler and saw a total of 3 sets of tracks crossing the road/trails.  This was two days after a 2 inch snow fall. The deer should of been moving.  I talked to my neighbor, and neither he nor his son had seen a deer as of Saturday afternoon. Over the counter doe permits are still available for both private and public land, which makes no sense to me, unless the DNR wants the deer numbers way down in the area?  It’s not like the old days, and those hunters that balked at buying a license  may be the smart ones!

Besides the DNR’s zeal to kill off the deer herd in my County (Oscoda) last winter was a rough one to say the least,  From what I have seen (or not seen) I would have to say the mortality rate was at least 50% in my area, which probably includes the whole Northern portion of the state.  It was a brutally cold and snowy winter that lasted well into the year. I found two winter starved carcasses on my property in the Spring.  You would think the DNR would “back off” on the over the counter doe permits!

If other Northern Michigan hunters are experiencing the same lack of deer sightings that I am, license sales may further decline next year.  I am honestly considering looking for some land to hunt around the lower portion of the state where the herd has stayed strong and healthy.  It will be interesting to see where the final deer harvest numbers stand at the end of the season, but I would bet the farm that they will be drastically down in the 5 county area dubbed “The T.B. Area!”

Michigan’s Deer Season 2014

November 12th, 2014

160 class deer 00211 pointer 018deer 004Oct. deer hunt two deer 025It’s just 2-1/2 days away and I can’t wait.  I’m heading north in just about an hour, as I’m trying to miss the mess at the Zilwaukee bridge.  Northbound traffic is down to one lane and diverted through Saginaw.  There will be all kinds of problems in that area Friday.

Sounds like we will have snow for the opener in the norther lower and definitely in the Upper. I am going to post a few pictures from past hunts and let you dream about getting a wall hanger.  No matter how many big bucks one shoots they always dream about getting one just a little bigger.  I’v used my 3 point tag, so this next buck has to have 4 on one side.  Plan on enjoying myself as I relax and unwind at the cabin.  Have a safe hunt and we’ll be back to give a hunting report sometime next week.  Enjoy the pictures.

Greg Baldwin’s Lamprey Study

November 11th, 2014

I have always had an aversion for lamprey’s, ever since I saw one clinging to a steelhead’s side!  They are a slimy blood sucking parasite as far as I’m concerned.  They kill trout and salmon and any other fish that they can attach their round prehistoric looking mouth to.  

I happen to have a friend who is retired from the federal Fish and Game Department, who is an expert on lamprey’s.  He is one of only two licensed experts allowed to trap and sell lamprey’s.  There is actually a market for them in Asia.  Greg Baldwin still works with the Federal Fish and Game dept, along with the Michigan DNR in critical research of these boneless parasites!

Greg is considered an expert on all aspects of the lamprey’s life cycle, and is frequently called upon as a seminar speaker.  He is a tireless researcher, and genuinely enjoys his job.  He’s also a bit of a prankster!  He recently told me about the lamprey’s that he and a buddy fried up and distributed them at the local watering hole.  He was doing research on the reaction people would have on eating these slimy ell like creatures.  They were testing the waters to see if they could possibly be marketed as a food source.  The problem was this was a pretty rough place to make the announcement that you were eating lamprey.  The hungry patrons were never told as Greg and his partner slipped into the enveloping darkness!

Currently Greg is working on a much more serious use for the lamprey.  Interestingly if you cut off part of a lamprey, in time they will grow that part back. Greg is involved in the research that is trying to find a way to use the cells (I think) to help injured humans grow back a limb.  I know it sounds like science fiction, but many researchers think that they are on the right track, and are excited about the prospects.  Keep up the good work Greg and I may change my mind about those ugly, slimy, creatures!

That’s Greg hooking up an old World War II road grader to his friends tractor back at their deer camp.
bear hunt baldwins 021

Alaska Brown Bear Mauls Deer Hunter!

November 7th, 2014

bear 2014 004Just a few days ago an Alaska Brown Bear (sow) attacked two hunters as they stopped for lunch, after shooting a deer.  The men were 68 year old Michael Snowden and 38 year old Jeff Ostrin.

The pair were hunting on the east side of Sally Island in Uganik Bay, near Kodiak Island.  They had harvested a deer in the late morning.  The deer was gutted and the hunters decided to get away from the smell of the gut pile, so they started to drag the deer downhill toward the beach.  The terrain was very thick as they maneuvered their way through the dense thicket they found a small opening where they decided to eat a little lunch.  They did not drag the deer carcass into the clearing with them.  Moments after taking a few bites for lunch they heard brush breaking around them.  Because it was so dense they could not see the bear who had zeroed in on them.  Both men grabbed their rifles and chambered a round.

The adult female bear burst through the undergrowth and grabbed Snowden taking him to the ground.  Ostrin had to wait for a shot that would not hit his partner, and had to shoot the bear in the rump, from 10 foot away!  The bear backed away and Ostrin then shot it in the chest.  The bear and Snowden then rolled down the hill.  Ostrin  ran to his friend to check on his condition.  The bear moved and was shot again killing it.

Jeff Ostrin then went back uphill to retrieve a radio and backpacks, and attempted to call the Captain of the waiting vessel the Mary J. After reporting to the Captain another bear came through the brush, and Snowdon shot it twice with his 454 revolver.  The second bear was a 2-3 year old cub of the attacking sow.

A five man crew from the boat came ashore and assessed the situation.  Michael Snowden had several wounds that went to the bone, and it was decided to call in a Coast Guard Helicopter.  He was airlifted to Providence Hospital in Kodiak where he was in stable condition.

The deer and all the supplies were retrieved from the area by the ships crew.  Another bear was spotted by the Coast Guard, and it was determined it was another 2-3 year old cub.  Alaska Wildlife Troopers helped in the rescue efforts.  Due to the rugged terrain, dense vegetation, and likelihood of another bear in the area the two dispatched bears were left, and the skull and claws would be retrieved at a latter date.  No charges were filed against the two hunters. Jeff Ostrin was hailed as hero due to his actions in saving his hunting partner.



My Grandsons First Deer

November 3rd, 2014

kyles deer and turkey 015kyles deer and turkey 021Michigan’s “Youth Mentor Hunting Program” has been a wonderful way to get the younger ones involved in Michigan’s great outdoors.  Ever since it’s inception I have been hunting with 3 of my grandkids. We have yet to be successful concerning meat on the table, but that all changed this past weekend.

Grandson Kyle has been with me on several outings for both turkey and deer.  We have shivered in a blind, walked to stands in the pitch dark, rattled, called, gobbled, and yelped our way in and out of the woods on many occasions.  Seen deer and turkey’s, but nothing that would allow Kyle to get a shot.  We came close one time, but “no backstraps!”

Saturday while Kyle’s mom, dad, and grandma shopped in Gaylord we were having the time of our lives.  We were deer hunting, but as fate would have it three turkeys walked past our blind.  They had no clue we were there, and Kyle’s license allows him a turkey tag for any open area of the state.  We had a good rest for my Barnett predator crossbow, and I judged the yardage at 35 yards. We picked the bigger of the three as our target.  I told Kyle to put the sight on the base of his neck and slowly pull the trigger.  As soon as he touched of the shot feathers flew and the turkey’s ran!  One was not keeping up with the other two and soon just stopped.  We left the blind and upon our approach the turkey ran (half flew) to find his buddies.  He quickly came back to the ground and ran for cover.  We found him in a fallen over maple and Kyle had his first ever tag filled.

We were running late and had to make it to my favorite evening hunting spot where I have a large heated ground blind.  It was cold and windy and very late when we entered the blind.  We set the crossbow up in one of the windows looking over my rye and turnip food plot.  Only twenty minutes passed when a young doe entered our field of vision.  We waited for that perfect broad-side shot.  I told Kyle to aim a little high, as it was around a 40 yard shot.  I said shoot when your ready. Crossbows are not known for being quiet, but they are “fast!”  We did not see where the arrow went, but it was a clean miss, as the deer made a circle and came right back.  In the meantime I’m trying to cock the bow and find another arrow while not giving us away.  Kyle gets set and fires again.  Same results!  I can’t believe it!  Talk about disappointed!  Well low and behold that darn deer circles again and comes right back.  Now I am scrambling as I only have one arrow left, and the o-ring that hold the blades in place is missing.  I cock and reload with my last arrow and tell Kyle to put the pin right on the doe’s back.  He fires and we hear the unmistakable “whack” from a direct hit!

It is impossible to see a crossbow “bolt” flying through the air, but we had good red blood at the point of impact.  I let Kyle do most of the tracking, and gave him pointers when he needed them.  The deer went about 100 yards and piled up from a double “leg” shot!  That’s right!  The bolt went through the right leg, brisket, and exited the left leg,  There are major arteries going down both legs and the deer bled out in a hurry.  We had misjudged the distance, which made Kyle shoot lower.  Didn’t matter at this point as we were slapping high fives, and acting like two ten year olds.  What a moment for grandpa and his grandson!  Kyle drug his prize for part of the way, and I helped him get the doe to my 4-wheeler trail.

Kyle had quite a story to tell his mom, dad, and grandma when they arrived back at camp.  It is good to make memories with our loved ones that they can cherish all their days, and what a day of memories we just made!


Crossbow Safety

October 31st, 2014

001Back on September 28th. I shot a very nice Michigan black bear with my Barnett Predator crossbow.  Problem is I also got my thumb sliced by the crossbow string, which ended up requiring a trip to the emergency room in Marquette.  The E.R. Doctor told me he had treated several people who had suffered a similar fate.  One man had actually lost part of his thumb.  I was much more fortunate than that, as I only required stitches to close the gaping hole in my right thumb.  There was nerve damage and I still can’t bend it all the way.  The nerves will take awhile to heal, and the thumb will stay “numb” until they due.  I did visit a hand specialist in the Detroit area who also had treated a crossbow injury that very same week.

The internet is full of lawyers wanting to represent those that have suffered from such injury.  The only catch is you must have lost part of a finger or thumb, or damaged a tendon.  My injury was not “profitable” enough for them to want to get involved.  I did find out about a Cabela’s customer who was trying out a crossbow on their archery shooting range who lost part of his thumb, and had to be “blood trailed” through the store, as he went into shock!

Something is wrong here with the design and lack of safety features on these new modern weapons.  Their popularity has risen exponentially in the last few years, and most of the newer models have a guard to keep your fingers and thumbs out of the string rail!  You would think the manufacturers would retro-fit the older crossbows with the necessary features needed to safely shoot these powerful weapons.  Seems like that would be less expensive than a lawsuit!

As in my case it was just to darned easy to put my thumb in harms way during the excitement of the hunt.  When your quarry is standing just yards away your Adrenalin is pumping, and sometimes your “mental checklist”may not be going through your mind.  So a word of caution is due to all crossbow users young and old men and women.  If your bow doesn’t have a guard, get one!  If your in the market for a bow, make sure the one you buy has your fingers and thumbs in mind.  Take it from me the pain can rob you of the exhilaration of a successful hunt, and cause physical and financial distress on your body and wallet.


Pointe Mouillee State Game Area Deer Check Station

October 29th, 2014

Kyle, Pointe Mouillee 003Kyle, Pointe Mouillee 002Aaron Morehead and Alyshia Uthoff collecting data at the deer check station.

Late this afternoon I took my two deer out to the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area deer check point.  It’s located in Rockwood at the mouth of the Huron River.  I usually take my deer there so I can find out the age of the deer, and so the DNR can collect pertinent data on the condition of Michigan’s deer herd.

Aaron Morehead was manning the check point today, along with his assistant Alyshia Uthoff.  As always the staff at Mouillee was helpful, and answered all my questions concerning the data collecting process.  After talking for awhile I found out that Alyshia knew several of my brothers, and that she is headed for Northern Michigan University in Marquette.  I told her that’s where we bear hunt, and found out she knows where (our friends the Baldwins) business is located.  Small world!  Alyshia is a Monroe County Middle College student, and is “job shadowing” at Mouillee for the Capstone Project. She plans on majoring in Wildlife Management.

I found out Aaron is a Michigan State University graduate with a criminal justice major specializing in conservation.  Aaron said that my 6 point was the widest rack he had checked so far this year, and that it was a 3-1/2 year old deer.  The doe was a 2-1/2 year old.  Both deer were shot in the northern lower T.B. zone, and the DNR request you donate the deer’s head so they can study the brain for signs of T.B.  I gave them the doe, but the 6 point was delivered to my taxidermist this evening.  I took a green score measurement and gross score was 107.  It takes a score of 100 to make the book, so my buck will be close.

For your information the DNR deer checkpoint is open Sunday, Tuesday,and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. till noon and Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m.  Besides helping manage the deer herd here in Michigan you also receive an embroidered patch for your help and a successful hunt.




Giant Six (6) Pointer

October 26th, 2014

Oct. deer hunt two deer 006Oct. deer hunt two deer 018Oct. deer hunt two deer 049I just got in from the market where I took my buck and doe that I shot on the same day (this past Friday.)  I have had some pretty memorable hunting experiences in my life, but this has to rank toward the top of the list.  I left Monroe very early Friday morning to head up north and try to get a few of the beginning rut days in of hunting.  The deer have started to move more, according to my trail camera’s, so a weekend at camp was in order.  I could not find anyone to tag along, but my friend Ed Alger was going to be at his place and we planned to meet at some point in time.

My son-in-law and grandson had just survived a major car crash, thanks to the grace of God.  It was iffy as to whether I would be going or not, but when all test came back negative on Tony and Jacob, my wife gave me the green light.

It was just breaking dawn when I arrived.  I didn’t unpack anything, and already had my hunting cloths on.  I grabbed my crossbow and back pack and off I went.  I hardly ever use my tree stand, but today it was light enough to see the steps, so I climbed into position.  I have a food plot with a small pond, and it wasn’t long before 2 does and 2 yearlings came into feed.  Half and hour later I saw a buck scraping his antlers in a pine tree and marking the territory.  He was about 140 yards away and working in my direction.  When he spotted the does he was hooked, as the beginning of the rut was in full swing.  He skirted the open food plot and came through the thickest part of the woods.  He stopped at 20 yards, but I had two pine limbs in my way.  When he turned, as if to walk away, I got nervous!  I squatted down in the stand so I could shoot my Barnett crossbow under the branches, as I put the crosshairs on his chest.  The bolt flew right where it was aimed, as the rage tipped arrow sliced through the lungs and buried itself in the ground.  The deer whirled, and ran back where he came from, but abruptly fell over within sight.  No tracking job here!  I never have seen a deer bled so much.  Also I have never seen a six pointer of such trophy dimensions.  This deer has mass, tine and beam length, and an 18″ inside spread.  He’s weak on the brow tines, but he’s still going on the “wall!”

That evening I had no intentions of hunting.  I was just going to relax and take care of things around the cabin.  Around 6:45 p.m. I looked out the cabin window and a big doe was coming around the side of my place.  The neighbor has horses, and the deer go into his pasture and eat the horse feed.  I had my crossbow on the porch, so I grabbed my compound and one arrow and headed out the side door.  I waited at the back of my cabin, as she was going to pass within 35 yards of my “blind!”  When she appeared I aimed even with her back (20 yard pin) and let one go.  Wack!  I knew I hit her, but it looked low.  I waited awhile before retrieving the arrow and found alot of fat, but no blood.  I decided to wait for 2 hours.

To shorten the story I didn’t find her until 11 p.m. and din’t get her on the game pole till 1:30 a.m.  I was low, but did not get the guts.  The Thunderhead tipped broadhead had just sliced the bottom of the heart, yet she still made it toward the back of my property line.  She was a big older doe and along with the big antlered, big bodied buck, they looked truly impressive hanging on my game pole.  Can’t wait for some venison jerky, Italian sausage, and venison brats I’m having made up.  Ah the fruits of the hunt.  From field to freezer it doesn’t get any better than this!