Keep Your Secret Hunting Spots Secret

March 28th, 2015

turkey hunt 2011 031Over the years I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being able to hunt with good friends. Most of those experiences have been very enjoyable, and helped cement the bond between us. However there has been a few surprises along the way.

One such incident stands out in my mind as far as “living and learning” goes. I once took a childhood buddy to my “secret” duck hunting pond. We had a blast and bagged quite an array of ducks that day. Well a few days later I returned (alone) to my “secret” duck hunting blind; only to find “my buddy”, and a friend of his, with a stupid grin on their faces. I wasn’t to happy about the betrayal, and let my friend know that he broke a sacred trust. It took me awhile to get over it, but I’m a forgiving person by nature. About two years later I took this same friend rabbit hunting with me and my dad. My dad was a milkman at the time, and he had permission to hunt several of his customers properties. I could hardly believe my eye’s a week later when my dad and I got to the end of the stubble field. There standing (shotguns in hand) was my “ole buddy” and his pal with sheepish grins on their traitorous faces.

Well there’s and old saying goes something like this “Do me once and its your fault-do me twice and its my fault.” Needless to say I never ever took that “friend” hunting again. You live and learn from these, and other, experiences you have in the field. Not to say I never got “burnt” again, but I was more cautious about who I took to my “secret places.”

Mike

A Cool Reception In Myrtle Beach – But Good Friends Warm It Up!

March 25th, 2015

Courtneys birthday and Myrtle Beach 026Courtneys birthday and Myrtle Beach 027Courtneys birthday and Myrtle Beach 021masked face squirrel 001Just came home from a week in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, and what a week it was.  Rainy and cold!  Actually it was the coldest Spring temperatures they have had in the last five years.  Hope they don’t blame it on us!

We couldn’t believe that we would leave the cold and snow of Michigan, and be greeted by the cold and rain of Myrtle Beach. We did have two days that the sun popped out and the temperatures rose into the mid 60’s which we enjoyed to the max! Strange that we would arrive home late last evening and need our winter jackets with snow in the forecast for tomorrow. Michigan is way behind in welcoming in “Spring!”

Anyway back to Myrtle Beach.  We stayed with our dear friends Bob and Linda Baltrip in a gated resort community.  What good friends and wonderful host they are.  Despite the weather they bent over backwards to make sure we left our troubles behind in Michigan.  Lorna took a daily walk with Linda along the ocean front, and they have three bags of seashells to prove it.  We played games every evening, and Bob and I even squeezed in three rounds of Spring golf.

We played Friday afternoon, and again Saturday we were joined by my third daughter’s father-in-law Irv Horwitz, who lives in North Myrtle Beach.  Irv is a retired teacher and coach from Farmington Hills, and at 74 years “young” proceeded to give Bob and I a lesson in golf.  We had a great day on the course with a lot of laughs, and a few good shots, even though they all seemed to come off of Irv’s clubs!  We played again Tuesday before our evening flight home, and partnered up with a fellow from Pakistan and another from India.  Wonderful guys to play with on my last glimpse into the start of this years golf season.

On several occasions we saw a species of squirrel that I never knew existed.  I had to look them up on “Google” which said they were a “masked face fox squirrel.”  They are much larger (about 3 pounds) than a regular red squirrel and looked more like a racoon squirrel cross.  They didn’t seem to nervous about our presence, but I could never get one to hold still long enough for a picture.

Anyway it’s good to be home, especially after our “bumpy” flight back into Detroit Metro.  Now if Michigan would just get the message “Hey it’s supposed to be Spring out there!”

In the posted pictures that’s Irv and Me pointing to Irv’s drive that beat mine by 2 inches!  That’s as close as he would let me come! Also pictured is Bob and Me, then Me, Irv, and Bob, and last the “racoon” squirrel!

Mike

Golf Season Just Around the Next Snow Drift!

March 18th, 2015

golfing 005cedar vally golf april 007101_6711golf w ed 001This is the time of year when a man’s fancy turns to getting back out on the golf course.  It has been 4-5 months since most of us “duffer’s” have been able to play, and if your like me, I’m going stir crazy.  You can only go to Dicks, Dunham’s, and Carls Golfland so many times, eyeing all the new products, before you spend some cold hard cash.  How else you going to beat your playing partners if you don’t get a “leg” up on them with the newest and “best” clubs on the market.  After all a guaranteed 20-30 yards on your new Callaway driver is hard to beat!  But first you have to come up with $400.00 “smackeroos!”

All winter long Hank Haney has been giving me helpful hints on improving my game and lowering my score by 6-12 strokes.  I got so excited about one of his “tricks” the other day that I found a “grassy knoll” on the edge of my property.  The sun had melted a circle about 6 foot in circumference that looked like a good place to execute my latest Hank Haney secret.  I took 3 old balls (just in case) and my 6 iron.  It was 36 degrees out and I had to walk through a foot of snow to get to my launching pad, and launch I did.  My first ball missed the “back” of the neighbors garage by a foot or two.  I sliced it about 40 foot from my intended target, which was a big weeping willow tree about 160 yards away.  I went through the drill several more times trying to visualize my ball landing somewhere close to that willow.  “Bam” my second shot went straight as an arrow and landed just in front of the willow!  Wow was I pumped!  I dropped my third ball, went through the checklist, and “whammo” another straight drive that actually hit the branches on the tree.

Look out guys I’m ready for ya this year (I think.)  Anyway I will be going to Myrtle Beach soon and see if I can duplicate my “grassy knoll” success on a real course against my buddies who have been laying around watching the “Golf Channel” all winter.  I’ll report later how Hank and I turned things around for me.  Of course I’ve been looking for a “deal” on that new Callaway just in case!

Pictured above are some of the guys my old buddy “Hank” is going to help me humiliate this year.  Well maybe not quite humiliate, but a good one stroke beating would be just fine!

Mike

 

Michigan Spring Turkey Season Coming Up

March 16th, 2015

late snow- turkey hunt 018Jay-Birds bird 004kyles deer and turkey 015What a great opportunity to take your kids or grandkids on a Spring turkey hunt.  Michigan’s “Youth Mentor” program along with it’s “Apprentice” program opens the door for a great way to introduce the “younger set” to hunting in Michigan.

Some of my fondest memories from my youth are those days spent afield with my dad.  Not just fond memories, but great memories.  Those days are long gone, but I can sort of relive the past with my grandkids.  I have taken Kyle, Jacob, and Ava on the mentored youth hunt, and last year was able to get Kyle his first bird.  What a thrill that was, and I’m sure it’s something he will never forget.  This year we have to go with the “apprentice license” as they keep getting older on me.  I did receive my permit in the mail last week for my area around the cabin.  We saw many turkeys in the area last year, and were able to put a couple of them in the freezer, and I’m hoping one of the grandkids pulls it off this year.

We use a pop-up ground blind, which does not seem to bother a turkey like it does a deer.  I’ve actually set one up (one day) and shot a turkey on the next mornings hunt!  Hard to do that with a deer.  A pop-up allows some extra movement that normally would not be tolerated in other blind set-ups.  As everyone knows kids tend to do a little more moving when waiting for the “big moment” to happen!  You can also do some “low voice” talking (coaching) when the moment of truth starts strutting into your field of view.

Anyway the snow is melting rapidly, the temperatures are rising, and the “birds of April” are getting ready to fall in love again!  All we can hope for is that another one will “fall in love” with us this year!

Mike

Michigans Steelhead Fishing About to Heat Up!

March 12th, 2015

Scan6Scan5As the snow pack melts and the lake ice starts to break up, a young mans fancy, or in my case “old mans,” turns to Steelhead fishing.  When the fish are running Michigan’s rivers there is no better way to spend the day.  Whether your drifting in a boat or casting from shore “fish on” is the music that makes everyone’s heart skip a beat.

I have had the good fortune to fish the Little Manistee and the Big Manistee on many occasions.  I’ve done the bank fishing, but floating/drifting in a boat is the way to go.  Less snags and more accessible fishing holes.  If you don’t have your own boat there are many fishing guides in the Cadillac and Manistee area.

March 28th. at 9:00 a.m. The Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac will host the Michigan Department of Natural Resource Steelhead Clinic.  The five-hour class will cover various strategies and techniques for chasing Michigan’s famed “chrome torpedoes!”  The class will meet the next day (Sunday) at daybreak at the Tippy Dam on the Manistee River for a hands on lesson.

Those attending are encouraged to bring their own gear for both days.  For those that are new to Steelhead fishing a trip to the local tackle shop can be arranged.  The cost of the class is $25.00 dollars and you can get more information by calling the Johnson Hunt and Fish Center at 231-779-1321.  A recreation passport is required for entry into the park.

Lodging is available at the Sands Resort, Days Inn, Evergreen Resort, Pilgrim Village, and Mitchell State Park.

Frozen Toilets and Deer Sign Galore

March 9th, 2015

toilet frozen and deer tracks 003toilet frozen and deer tracks 013Just like the wicked witch moaned in the “Wizard of Oz” “I’m melting, I’m melting!  Thank God the mounds of snow are starting to shrink, and none to soon.  All we had to do is plan a few days in Myrtle Beach next week, and you know the weather is going to break!  Ponds of water forming in my driveway!  What a glorious sight to see for sure.  I can actually see grass in a few spots in the yard, and one lone maple tree actually has a few buds started.  Come on Spring, we need you bad!

This has been one cold snowy winter to say the least.  Of all winters my thermostat at the cabin had to malfunction and shut down my furnace.  I drove up Saturday morning to assess the damage, but won’t really be able to tell the extent of the damage until things thaw out.  My bathroom toilet was frozen and cracked, so I replaced that, but the water heater and the cloths washer are going to have to warm up before I can see if there are any leaks.  Betting there are, but hoping there aren’t.  My copper plumber may have taken a hit also.

Snow depths were right around 14-16 inches in the woods, but a whole week of warmer weather is forecast.  I saw more deer tracks and runways around my place than ever before.  The deer must have yarded in the swamp not far from my place.  Hardly saw a deer last year and now it looks like a large herd has taken over.  Hope this is a good sign for the upcoming fall deer season.

Mike

Michigan Waterfowl Frozen Out and Dying

March 4th, 2015

swan 006I didn’t think it could get any worse than last winters snow and cold temperatures, but “Old Man Winter” has proven me wrong once again.  I remember seeing a satellite image of the frozen great lakes in 2014.  According to the weatherman the ice-covered almost the entire waters surface!  Well guess what?  They are reporting that the Lakes are even more frozen over this year which is playing havoc on Michigan’s waterfowl.

The Department of Natural Resources is saying that the ducks, geese, and other waterfowl that need open water as a food source, are starving.  Snow depths have kept them from corn and soybean fields for the most part, but the lack of open water is crucial for their survival.

I didn’t think a whole lot about that report until yesterday.  On my way home from my daughters place I saw a majestic Trumpeter Swan sitting near the edge of the road by a gas station.  Totally out-of-place!  I turned my suv around to see what was going on.  As I drove back to the birds locating she was in the air flying in my direction.  She only flew about 40 feet and landed in the back lot of the gas station.  I pulled within 10 feet of her trying to access any damage.  She sat for a while then stood to her feet.  No broken legs, wings, etc.  No visible signs of trauma.  She again attempted to fly, and this time only made a few feet.

With what I had just read from the DNR I surmised that this gorgeous bird was just plain weak from lack of food.  My brother Randy raises ducks and geese so I called him to see if he would come and rescue this swan.  He wanted to, but due to state laws and regulations he could not as he does not have a rehabilitation permit.  I tried getting someone (a real person not a machine) from the local DNR office to get involved, but the best I could do was fill out an on-line form describing my encounter.  A lot of good that will do for the swan!  To bad as they are some of the most majestic waterfowl on the planet.

Spring and warmer weather can’t come soon enough.

Mike

Michigan DNR Appeal Wolf Decision

February 28th, 2015

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today filed an appeal of a December 2014 federal district court ruling that returned wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin to the federal endangered species list and wolves in Minnesota to federal threatened species status.

The appeal – filed by the Michigan Attorney General in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – asks the court to uphold the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s December 2011 decision that removed the Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of wolves from the federal endangered species list.

“Returning wolf management to wildlife professionals in the state of Michigan is critical to retaining a recovered, healthy, and socially-accepted wolf population in our state,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “Michigan residents who live with wolves deserve to have a full range of tools available to sustainably manage that population.”

Wolves in Michigan are 15 years past the population recovery goals set by the federal government. The DNR will argue against the federal district court’s ruling that wolves must recover across their historic range – which includes the lower 48 states and Mexico – before Michigan’s wolf population can be removed from the federal endangered species list.

In addition, the state will argue against the district court’s conclusion that the USFWS failed to demonstrate that Michigan’s laws and regulations adequately protect the wolf population within Michigan.

“Wolves in Michigan and the other western Great Lakes states are fully recovered from endangered species status, which is a great success story,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “Continuing to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a recovered species not only undermines the integrity of the Act, it leaves farmers and others with no immediate recourse when their animals are being attacked and killed by wolves.”

Michigan’s wolf population numbers approximately 636 in the state’s Upper Peninsula. With the return to Federal protection in December of 2014, the DNR lost the authority to use a varity of wolf management methods, including lethal control, to minimize wolf conflict with humans, livestock, and dogs.  The change in statis also suspended state authoity that allowed livestock and dog ownersto protect their animals from wold depredation when wolves are in the act of attacking those animals.

The Federal District Courts December 2014 decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Humane Socioty of the United States, in which the state of Michigan participated as a defendant-intervener arguing against returning the Great Lakes DPS of wolves to the endangered species list.

Michigan joins the USFWS and a number of hunting and conservation organizations in appealing the ruling.

For further information on this topic visit www.michigan.gov/wolves.

Bear Population Steady According to Michigan’s DNR

February 23rd, 2015
February 01, 2015

Michigan’s black bear population is healthy, not declining, according to the most recent estimate made public at the Bear Symposium hosted by the DNR at Roscommon’s RAM Center on December 6. So the reduction in the number of bear licenses issued in the state over the last three years was not necessary. The reduced bear harvest that occurred over those years will insure the population is increasing, however, which is a good thing.

A new technique was used to come up with the most recent bear population estimate. It’s called statistical reconstruction and it was explained by DNR research specialist Sarah Mayhew at the Bear Symposium.

“We have sex and age data from our bear population since 1992 to the present,” Mayhew said. “We have the age at harvest for our bears from mandatory registration of animals taken by hunters. Those ages are determined by looking at the teeth from those bears. Hunting effort is determined by annual surveys of bear hunters.

“All of the information is plugged into the program and it goes through a number of scenarios to determine what the bear population was most likely to have been like to produce the harvest that we know we had, given the other data that is known.”

We have noticed an actual increase in bear activity around our camp in the Marquette area.  One female we saw on numerous accasions had four cubs with her.  This is highly unusual as two and possibly three are the norm. Also the bear seem to have become bolder than in the past.  One sub adult bear walked right through camp a few weeks before season opened. Altogether we had 9 different bears frequenting our two bait sites. Sightings seem to be up in the area we hunt over the last few years.

Susan Smith from Kawkawlin is pictured below with her 410 pound (black bear) she shot on September 15 in Dickinson County.

MichiganBearPopulationH

 

 

 

Various Deer Antler Scoring Systems

February 20th, 2015

11 point measurements 00811 pointer 032There are four generally accepted ways for scoring big bucks – Boone and Crockett (B & C), Pope and Young (P & Y), Longhunter, and Buckmasters (BTR).  I thought I would use three of these scoring systems to measure a buck I shot 3 years ago not far from my house.  This buck has some “non-typical” points, so it should be interesting to see the different outcomes from each score.

The Boone and Crockett club was established in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt who had a vision for sportsmen and conservationist to deal with issues affecting hunting, wildlife, and wild habitat.  The B and C club has become the benchmark from which all other scoring systems get their standards

As you can see by the picture this is a very respectable buck, but he fooled me concerning my “field estimate” as to what he would score.  I used the Boone and Crockett system for scoring, which is exactly the same as the Pope and Young system.  The difference is that to make the B and C record book the animal must be legally harvested with a firearm.  The minimum score to get you in the B and C book is 170 inches typical and 185 non-typical.  The only difference between these two systems is that the Pope and Young book is for bowhunting records and the minimum scores are lower.  It takes a minimum score of  125 typical and 155 non-typical.  I shot this deer with a bow and figured it was a shoe-in for the minimum score of 125!

On the right side of the deers rack I came up with 52 -4/8 and on the left side I had 65-2/8 due to more points and longer tine length.  The beam on the right was longer (24) vs the left which was 22-1/8. You get four circumference measurements between points and also you get to add the inside spread of the main beams which was 15-5/8. This comes to a total of 133-3/8 inches, but in order to qualify as a typical entry the uneven points (including the non-typical points must be deducted. There is 24-3/8 points of deduction so we end up with a net score of 109.  Not nearly enough!

Now if I measure the deer as a non-typical he comes out as 140-5/8. Sounding better unless you still have to deduct the irregularities between the left and right sides.  In that case your back down to 116-1/8. I’m not fully sure if that is the right way or not, so sound off if you can help on this particular issue.

I also measured the deer using the Buckmasters (BTR) full scoring system.  You get full credit with no deductions using this up and coming system.  Because this system only allows total mass of the antlers they do not allow for the inside spread measurement. The BTR score for my deer was 125, which ended up being the highest score out of the three methods.

Like I said at the beginning I was quite surprised to see just how low this buck scored according to the different scoring systems. No matter he is a very unique 11 pointer, and I’m happy to have him hanging on my wall. The longhunter system is reserved for those who take a buck with black powder.

Mike