11 Year Old Michigan Hunter Shoots Rare Albino Buck

October 23rd, 2014

Albino buck 001Recently 11 year old hunter Gavin Dingman shot a trophy Michigan 12 point buck with his crossbow.  That’s quite an accomplishment in itself, but this particular buck was pure white.  It was a true albino, which is a pigment malfunction, that may happen in one (1) out of 20,000 thousand births!  This particular buck was shot in Livingston county and had been seen by many.  Some were in hot pursuit of the anomaly, and others were in awe just seeing the buck.  That’s where the controversy comes in.

Because it is such a rarity in nature many thought the deer should of been left alone for people to enjoy.  Others (like Gavin and his dad Mick) seriously wanted to put that buck on the wall.  There were many hunters in the area that were trying to put their Michigan tag on this buck.  It’s not just any buck, as the 12 point rack is of record book proportions!

Michigan used to protect all white (true albino’s) but lifted the ban in 2009.  Thus Gavin’s deer was perfectly legal to harvest.  The big question is “Legal yes, but ethical?  I’d like to hear where others stand on this question of “to shoot or not to shoot in this situation?”

Many years ago I had the opportunity to shoot a piebald buck (part albino) in the Lewiston area.  I never gave it a second thought as to trying to hang this rare deer on the game pole.  Would I have done the same thing on an albino?  Probably would of, but just maybe I would of thought about it for a time before making that decision.  Let me know what you think.


Fall Turkey Surprise

October 19th, 2014

Up north and Randy's birthday 008I drew a Michigan Fall turkey permit for area “J” just in case one showed up while I hunt for whitetails.  You don’t really hunt for turkey’s in the fall, as the focus is on deer hunting, and the birds aren’t responsive to calling.  So bagging a bird in the Fall is just a bonus addition to the freezer (in my opinion.)

I did not get a bird this past Spring which is kind of unusual for me, as many a long-beard have filled my oven over the years.  Fall is a different story!  Like I said turkey’s play second fiddle to deer and small game hunting during October and November.

Several days ago I was in my blind when a whole flock of turkeys ran past on my right side.  They were moving as though being chased by a pack of coyotes!  I had my crossbow, and did not figure I would get a shot, but then the lead bird suddenly stopped and all the ones following did the same.  They were about 35 yards away!  I am very comfortable with a shot out to 40-45 yards, so 35 was no problem in my mind.  It was a big hen leading the pack, and she seemed nervous. Even though hens are legal game in the fall I wanted a Tom.  I finally saw one working it’s way left of the group, and drew a bead on it’s chest.  It was quartering toward me, as I took a deep breath and held it!  Before I started putting tension on the trigger, I remembered to check where my “thumb” was at! Three weeks prior I had almost sliced it off when I shot my Upper Peninsula black bear.  Not going to pull that stunt again!  Once I made sure my hand was free of harm I squeezed off the shot.

The bolt flies so fast I can’t see it, but those lighted nocks are worth every dollar you pay for them.  Direct hit!  The bird when down in a pile as the expandable “Rage” did it’s job once again, as the glow of the nock was sticking in the ground about 10 foot past the young gobbler.  Looks like I will put meat on the table for Thanksgiving after all.


Natures Bounty Can’t Be Found At A Supermarket!

October 16th, 2014

Bear meat 002Bear meat 003One of the major reasons I hunt is because I love to eat “wild game!”  There are no additives, preservatives, insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, or other harmful additives.  Just the purest form of natures bounty, which has been proven to be much leaner and healthier than what you get from the butcher shop!  Not only that I am involved in the process from beginning to end.  I am the one responsibly for bringing home the bacon (so to speak.)  If I fail in my quest to put wild game in the freezer then my family and I have to take our chances at the local supermarket like everyone else.  I know it”s unrealistic to avoid store bought meat, but I’ll try my darnedest to always have a wild game choice sitting in my freezer.  Venison, bear, elk, small game, perch, walleye, trout, salmon, are a few of the delicacies I love to stock up on.

People that have never tried “wild game” don’t know what they are missing.  They have a pre-consieved notion as to the way it will taste, or simply shy away from anything that wasn’t raised in a barnyard!

Well last evening I unwrapped my first package of “bear sausage” and par boiled it before putting it in the oven.  I wrapped the meat with bacon and cut up a green pepper, and also sliced two onions to put over everything.  After a half hour I enjoyed the fruits of my labor.  The first one I ate on a bun with onions, pepper, and mustard-excellent!  The second and third one were minus the bread, as i just wanted to enjoy this “offering” from the canyons of “the big hole!” That’s the name that the locals have given to the area we bear hunt.  I will be taking some of this bounty over to my hunting partners house this evening and allow him to partake from this “gift” he most certainly worked for.  Bon Appetit!



Early Deer Report

October 14th, 2014

Jacob and Tony's deer 020 Buck and car 001Things are still quite slow on the deer reports.  I’m kind of surprised as many of the crop fields have been harvested, and the deer should be more venerable to an ambush!

There is one good report, and that is my 10 year old grandson Jacob shot his first!  It was a nice fat little 5 pointer that he shot with his dad’s 10 point crossbow.  Jacob made a nice shot, with the “bolt” travelling the whole length of the deer’s body.  His dad Tony waited till morning to track it, and Jacob had a big surprise for him when he stepped off the bus!  Tony had also shot a 5 pointer the same morning, so the Russo men had two bucks hanging in their back yard last week.  Tony also nailed his with the 10 point.  From what I’v been seeing (and experiencing) these new crossbows have changed the name of the game for hunters who choose to shoot them!

In another success story my neighbors son Bobby Burns shot a huge 8 pointer opening day not far from his dad’s place.  I took a couple pictures of it, but it was wrapped in linen cloth to keep the flies off, so I just focused on those nice antlers.  Please readers if you have any success give me a shout and send a picture.  I’ll get it posted and do a little story if you send me some information


“No Country For Old Men” Says “Have A Happy Birthday”

October 11th, 2014

2014 Birthday Bear 0252014 Birthday Bear 0262014 Birthday Bear 0242014 Birthday Bear 069A few weeks ago, while performing the rigors of maintaining a bear camp, the movie “No Country for Old Men” keep playing in my head!  Not that I ever saw the movie, but the “title” sure seemed to fit the situation.

It had been several years since I had attempted to do a self guided bear hunt, and for good reason.  In the “old” days several of my brothers and a few close friends would embark on our yearly Marquette fall bear hunt.  Licenses were sold over the counter, and we always knew a butcher who could get us plenty of meat scraps.  Donuts from the bakery, and fish from Thills fish market in Marquette were always on the menu.  Of course this involved many helping hands, countless hours on the road, and the backbreaking task of checking and maintaining bear bait sites.  Some sites were 20 miles apart, which left little time for sight-seeing or actual relaxing!  I didn’t even mention setting up tree stands, or “humping” them back in the woods, or up a steep ridge.  We would always eat good in camp, but to the man we would all drop a few pounds during our bear hunt.  That was in the 1970-2000 era of bear hunting.

Because of anti-hunting pressure on our Department of Natural Resources, and our state legislators we now have a totally different bear hunting structure in place.  Permits are given on “drawing” basis.  This means the Ansel boys would no longer be hunting as a group, due to the fact that we could not be “drawn” for the same time period.  There are three different hunting time periods, and for the 1st. hunt it usually takes 5 years to draw that choice!  So you see that we now have to venture in small groups of 1 or possibly 2 which makes for a lot of work on those that are fortunate enough to draw a tag.

I usually put in for the 3rd. hunt which is later in the season and runs the month of October.  If I draw a permit I have to then talk a friend into going with me, and that’s not easy.  In fact most “friends” will only go once, when they find out about all the work involved.

Thankfully My good friend Pastor Bob Baltrip volunteered to be my “hunting buddy” this year.  In our younger days we did a lot of hunting and camping together, but the years had taken us separate ways, until fate intervened a few years ago and restored our old friendship.  I am a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure and several other issues, while Bob has a pace maker along with some limitations set forth by his heart doctor.  Our wives were somewhat concerned about the rigors they knew we would put ourselves through.  We joked with one another as to who would be giving “mouth to mouth” to the other before this adventure was over!

The day we left we had a trailer full of 4-wheelers, bear bait, tree stands, and an assortment of other necessities!  Marquette was an 8-1/2 hour drive away.  Once at the Baldwin camp we set in to unpack and ready things for maintaining three bait stations.  Carrying 75-100 pounds of bait into each bait site on a daily basis is not for the faint hearted.  It’s messy back breaking work, especially when one bait site is 100 yards up a steep ridge!  We had two sites getting hit on a daily (nightly) basis so we concentrated on those two baits, but still drove several miles to check the third site.

The actual hunting involved arriving at the stands many hours before the bear had been arriving, and then sitting quiet and motionless for long stretches of time.  The old “rear end” doesn’t do well perched high in a tree stand with a metal seat.  Legs need to move, arms fall asleep, eyes grow droopy, and “gas” wants to escape in the worst way!  Are we having fun yet?

Our third and last night in the stand Bob whispers “There’s a bear coming in!”  Now that will get you heart thumping!  To make it even more exciting it was my 68th birthday and the script was going according to plan.  A double lung heart shot put old “blackie” down within earshot (the death moan) but cost me a severe gash in my thumb.  Dragging the bear through a swamp turned out to be quite a trick for two old timers.  We huffed and we puffed, and we fell down, and we stopped to catch our breath on several occasions.  That’s when the thought hit like a “ton of dead bear!”  This is “No Country For Old Men!”

Laying in the emergency room several hours later just reinforced that thought, as the Doctor stitched up my thumb.  The crossbow string had sliced a wicked path through my flesh and tried to steal the excitement of the moment.  Even my own blood trail through the woods couldn’t quench the excitement of downing a trophy size black bear in the hills of Marquette.

Back at camp we secured the bear, and took more pictures.  My legs were sore, and my thumb was throbbing.  Both Bob and I were tired and worn out, but it was a “good” fatigue.  Gary Baldwin had helped us once we got the bear back to camp, and that made a big difference in the scheme of things.  As I laid in my bunk bed that evening my mind told me I belonged here in this wilderness place, ruled by bears and wolves.  After all I was victorious, but my body tried to remind me of the cost of that “victory!”  I decided to bask in the victory of the day, and enjoy this special birthday moment   I just hope I hadn’t ruined Bob for next years hunt in “The Country That Test Old Men!”

Grandson’s First Deer!

October 6th, 2014

Jacob and Tony's deer 021Jacob and Tony's deer 019Jacob and Tony's deer 002As you may, or may not know, I have twelve grandkids.  Seven boys and 5 girls.  Since the “Youth Mentor program” went into effect a few years ago I have been trying to get some of the kids involved in deer hunting.  Logan, Kyle, Jacob, and Ava have all tried their hand at turkey/deer hunting, but 10 year old Jacob seems to be the only one putting some meat in the freezer.

Sunday evening he was hunting with his dad Tony and shot a 5 point, but could not find any tracking blood.  Jacob put in a restless night, but knew his dad was going back out in the morning when he left for school.  Tony called me around 9:30 to give me the good news about Jacobs buck.  Tony was able to pick up the deer’s track (no blood) and followed them into a thicket where he expired.  Jacob made a nice shot with his dad’s 10 point crossbow.  The arrow clipped one lung and exited the hip as it passed through the deer.  He went approximately 80 yards before piling up to the well placed shot!

I was waiting for Jacob to get off the bus, and first thing he asked was “Dad did you find my deer?”  Tony told him “no”`so the excitement could build, as I was running a video camera.  Jacob saw me standing by two (2) deer in the back yard and he knew one was his.  Talk about an happy 10 year old.  Even though it was raining we pulled the buck out into the yard for some well deserved pictures.  Jacob not only is the first grandkid to shoot a deer, but also shot a nice turkey in the spring.

Jacob’s dad Tony had shot a 5 pointer Sunday morning, which made the day all the more special for the successful father son team.  There’s going to be some good eating around the Russo house this winter thanks to my grandson Jacob (The Hunter) Russo!

Trail Cameras Are The “Bear-ies!”

October 3rd, 2014

????????????If your not using trail cams to hunt with you are at a distinct disadvantage in the pursuit of your quarry!  This is just the second time I have used them while bear hunting, and they made a huge difference in the outcome of my bear hunt.  I had two “Cudde/Back Captures” and one Cabela’s 8 mega pixel infrared on the bait sights.

In the old days (before trail cams) it was a guessing game as to the size of the bear, the frequency of the bait usage, and the time (a.m or p.m.) that they came into the bait.  Trail cams help sort all that information out, so the hunters can plan accordingly.

Except for one of the camera’s haveing dead batteries; they worked like a charm.  The Cudde/backs use 4 “D” batteries and the Cabela’s uses 8 “AA.”  We did have some concern about bear breaking the camera’s which are not cheap, but they only got one scratch from an inquisitive bear.  Several times the cameras were adjusted for us, and I actually saw (the bear I shot) come over and sniff my camera to see if it was edible.  One huge bear that was coming in around 10:00 o’clock would lay in my dog food concoction and actually rub against the camera!  By the way the dog food mix was a big hit with the bears.  They seemed to gyrate toward it at each bait sight.

We had a sow and three yearlings coming in at 8:30 a.m. which is kind of unusual for us.  We usually bait in the mornings and do some fishing in the early afternoon.  I don’t think we have ever done a morning hunt.  Due to the various bear coming into the bait, they changed their pattern and were starting to arrive around 6:30 in the evening, which was perfect for us.  We would not of had this information without the trail cams.  We knew that one bait had a huge boar coming in, but it was late at night. We knew another bait was being hit by some big fat raccoon’s, and we knew that the bait we hunted was being hit by multiple bear in daylight hours.  For me these camera’s are worth their weight in “bear fat!”

For advice, previews, and sales click on “all about trail cams” in my links, or go to “deertrackingcameras.com” for some great information.


The Birthday Bear!

September 30th, 2014

2014 Birthday Bear 0552014 Birthday Bear 0602014 Birthday Bear 067This will be my 1000 post for the Monroe Evening News and “Hunting With Mike!”  Sorry about the week long lapse between post, but I’ve been chasing bear around in the Upper Peninsula and haven’t had time.

I could make this post a three part series, but I’m super excited as to how my bear hunt went that I’m going to cut to the good stuff right away!  I could tell you about the “to die for” Baldwin camp where we stayed, or the ground blind that rolled down-hill (with us in it!)  Or the fall colors, and the beautiful golf courses we played.  Maybee I could write about spending quality time with Gary, Dick, and Greg Baldwin, or the three grandkids that spent Saturday at camp?  I guess I could write about brook trout, bald eagles, beavers, and deer, or the trip to the emergency room, but not now!  Those stories will have to wait as this post is about “The Birthday Bear!”

I will cut right to the quick of this amazing hunting story, and try to keep it as simple as possible.  Just so the readers know I am typing without the use of my right thumb!  You know the one (I shoot left handed) that could stick up inside the glide plane of a crossbow string!  Ouch!

My hunt started on Wednesday with the Marquette area experiencing some unseasonably warm temperatures.  Not exactly what a bear hunter wants!  We had set three baits Tuesday, with one of them already used from a hunt (nephew) two weeks prior.  Wednesday was so hot that we didn’t hunt, and instead opted to go golfing.  Thursday morning trail cams showed morning activity on one bait and late night activity on another.  We hunted the pre-set bait, but saw nothing, as that bear (a sow with yearlings) was feeding in the morning.  The next day we moved to a bait set in the hills, but due to a comedy of errors didn’t have a chance of seeing anything there!  Friday we went back to the bait with the sow, but it had not been hit the previous day.  Saturday was extremely hot, and we felt any self respecting bear would not venture out until dark, so again we opted to golf.  That could of been a big mistake as the bear showed up at 6:44 pm while we were winding down our golf game.  Bummer!

Well Sunday is my 68th birthday, and my pal Pastor Bob Baltrip and I thought how wonderful it would be to get a “birthday bear!”  If we were writing a script for this story that’s the way we would want it to end right?  We asked the Lord to watch over us, and thanked Him for all the beautiful creation that He put here for our pleasure.  Actually we had such a great time together that it would of been a successful trip even without getting a bear.  Well Sunday evening we are in the stands at 5:00 p.m.  They are both double ladder stands with a camo netting around them and a shooting rail.  I really needed a rest for my Barnett Predator crossbow, as it’s a little on the heavy side.  I was shooting “Rage” expandable broadheads at 365 feet per second.

At 6:41 Bob whispers to me that there is a bear coming in right in front of us.  I look down and don’t see a thing, and ask him “where?”  He says right in front of the bait.  I look out from my stand and at about 45 yards a bear is making it’s way into our position.  The wind is in our face, so scent should not be a factor.  The bear walked around sniffing the honey and stinky chicken before turning its attention on my trail cam.  With it’s front paws on the tree it sniffed the camera which gave me a 20 yard broadside shot.  Problem was I could not get the bow sight into position due to the shooting rail being to high.  I was going to have to lift the crossbow over the rail ( I was shooting downhill) and hope he wouldn’t detect the movement.  He then went to the main bait, that was covered with logs, and was thinking about moving them out of his way, when he gave me the quartering away shot that I wanted.  The crossbow was in position and the sight was on his vitals.  I slowly pulled the trigger!  There was a loud “whack” as the bear whirled and bit at the “bee” that stung him, heading back the way he came.

In the meantime I am wracked with pain, as my thumb was above the string sliding rail when I touched the shot off.  Blood was splattered all over my blind, and I thought my thumb was broken!  The joy of the Birthday Bear was in competition with the need for an emergency room!  As Bob was trying to access the situation we heard the last three moans from the now dead bear.  This all took a matter of 10 seconds.  The bear actually made it 100 yards after a perfect double lung/heart shot!  Bob and I made the decision to get the bear out first, and then go to the emergency room.  Dragging a 300 pound bear out of the woods is not a job for two senior citizens, especially through a 40 yard wide wet muddy swamp.  Once we drug it out far enough Bob hooked his wench up to it and the Honda 4-wheeler did the rest.  Gary Baldwin came out to camp and helped us hang and gut the bear; then led us to the emergency room (after some clean up) where I received shots and 8 stitches.  The emergency room Doctor said “Mr. Ansel you had an angel looking over you today.” “Your tendon should of been cut, but it’s in fine working order!”  He then called in his nurses and had them watch as I moved my thumb so they could view my little white tendon moving up and down.  During this time I keep thinking about the movie “No Country For Old Men!”

This hunt may well have been my last hurrah, but what a great way to spent your 68th. birthday (minus the emergency room.)  Bob and I did feel blessed beyond measure, and said a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for a special birthday.  Neither of us take it lightly when an animal dies in the course of the hunt.  In a way the bears life will go on as it sustains us with food and nutrition.  There is a cycle of life for all Gods creation.  My ancestors called God “Kichi-mani-to” and would thank the Great Spirit for the blessing of the Maskwa (bear.)  Truly a birthday to remember.


Bear Baiting Secrets Revealed!

September 21st, 2014

Bait, Mindy's, Jeremiah 001Bait, Mindy's, Jeremiah 002Bait, Mindy's, Jeremiah 004Bait, Mindy's, Jeremiah 005Just about packed and ready to leave for Marquette on a bear hunt.  The Ansel clan and a few of their friends have taken over 40 bears since their first hunt in 1973.  Due to Michigan’s lottery system (drawing for bear licenses) we don’t get the opportunity to hunt them like we used to.  In fact we hardly ever get 2 licenses out of the 10 we apply for.  We have kids and grandkids hunting now.

Over the years we have used tons of meat scraps, fish, and sweet stuff from local bakeries and doughnut shops.  Some have their own concoctions they swear works like magic (like honey,) or oats and molasses, and other secret ingredients.  Well I have had a bear bait of my own that has worked wonders for me in the past and since I’m getting toward the end of my bear hunting days I’m going to share it with you.

First buy a 50 pound bag (or a hundred) of cheap dog food.  (about $20.00)  Then pop up a grocery bag of popcorn.  Get a big plastic tub and mix the dog food and the popcorn.  Buy 5-6 packs of marshmallows (preferably the smaller ones, as they melt better.)  I heat mine with my propane fish fryer set up, using an old pot that I can throw away if need be!  Stir and melt the marshmallows.  Now I add honey residue (my son-in-law has bee hives) and let it blend in with the melted marshmallows.  Pour in a couple bottles of syrup, and add a couple boxes of jello to help firm things up.  You can then be creative and add sugar or any other ingredient that has a good smell to it.

Once everything is stirred into the “melting pot” pour it over the dog food and popcorn.  Stir it in good then compact it as tight as you can.  Once it cools down it has the consistency of a huge popcorn ball!  It’s sticky, has to be broken off in pieces, and will be carried along the bear trail as it’s stuck to the fur on their paws.  This helps attract other bears in the area.

It will be a least a week before I report on my bear trip, so please tune in around Sept. 29 to see what happened.


Bear 1 – Hunters 0 So Far!

September 16th, 2014

????My brother Randy and his son Justin just returned from the Upper Peninsula where they were bear hunting.  Justine lives around Lansing and made the long drive to the Marquette area twice to set and check baits.  Anyone who has done that knows it’s a butt kicker to say the least!  Justine ran three baits this year and all were being “hit” when the 1st. hunt started (Sept.10th.)  With only one permit they had to choose a bait, and decided on the one behind bear camp, as Justin had his son Seth and daughter Daisy along, and he had 2 “double” stands set up to accommodate the 4 of them!  To much human scent in the area for me, but it has worked for them before.

The weather was not their friend on this trip as it rained and the wind blew constantly for the 1st. two days.  Friday evening looked much better weather wise, and three bear came into the set-up.  There was just one problem!  It was a sow and two small cubs.  There had to be a boar in the area somewhere, and they were hoping he would show up Saturday evening.  It was another windy evening, and bear don’t like to move much when it’s so noisy in the woods.  Justin is a school administrator and had to be back home for his job, as well as get the kids back to school.  They came home empty handed, but may take another stab at it this upcoming weekend.

My permit starts the week of the 22nd, and I’ll be heading north with my old friend Bob Baltrip.  I plan on doing some bear hunting, fishing, and playing a few rounds of golf with my Marquette friend Matt Baldwin.  In fact we are staying at Gary Baldwins camp (Matt’s Dad) and hopefully will get to spend some quality time with the whole Baldwin crew.  Will report more on that next week!