May 22nd, 2013
Little brother Darryl just sent me a picture of the monster Tom he just bagged in Bronson. It reportedly has a 12-1/2 inch beard and 1-1/4 inch spurs. Now that is at least a 4 year old bird! When they are that old they are hard to fool, as they have wised up to many of the tricks in a turkey hunters arsenal. Between the two of us we have probably taken close to 40 birds, and of course there are bragging rights that go along with whoever shoots the “biggest” bird!
The picture on the right is me from a couple years ago, and that bird had a 12 inch beard with 1-1/4 inch “hook spurs.” It was the “King of the Roost!” Looks like little brother may have dethroned me with this most recent “Monster.” I shot one in Jackson 5 years ago that weighed 27 pounds, and that one is the largest (weight wise) anyone has ever shot, but he was only a 3 year old with a 10-1/2 inch beard.
I haven’t connected yet this year, but still hope my trip up north pays off this holiday weekend. I passed on a Jake early in the season, but one better not strut his stuff by me again. I’m at the “meat hunting” phase of this season now. We shall see! Congratulations Darryl on your record book Tom. That one is going to be hard to beat-but I’m going to try.
May 17th, 2013
We have two robins nest on the back of our house. This one is right by our back screen door, and every time we open the door mother robin goes crazy. There is another nest about 40 feet away built on top of our electrical panel. Personally I wouldn’t build a house in such a “hot” spot! The little blue eggs hatched over a week apart, but the earlier arrivals flew the coop today, as I was about to take their picture. How rude is that? My wife told me I better get a snapshot of them today or it was going to be to late. I just hope the neighborhood cats don’t get them before they can fend for themselves.
Both nest had three eggs, but only two hatched for some reason. It won’t be long and these babies will be flying high just like their neighbors. After that I can clean off my lamp, and walk out the back door without getting “squawked” at!
May 12th, 2013
One of the main reason I (or any other) hunter hunts is to put wild game in the freezer. Right now I have my choice of venison, elk, wild turkey, squirrel, and some trout. This is just part of natures bounty at its finest. No growth hormones and preservatives here.
Just recently I took a venison roast and put it in a slow cooker for about 8 hours. I added a few special ingredients, and when it was ready de-boned the meat. At this time it was so tender that it literally fell off the bone. My plan was to make up a batch of barbecued venison, and that’s just what I did. I mixed it up with some open pit sauce and it was ready for the buns and chips. I put a couple sweet pickles on top and totally enjoyed my “wild game” barbecue. Nothing better than a meal provided by yourself and Mother Nature. Now if I could only put another turkey in the freezer Id be all set!
May 8th, 2013
Last evening my wife and I attended a banquet sponsored by the Monroe Rotary Club. The purpose was to acknowledge those in the community that put others above themselves. There were nominations in the youth division, adults, non profit organizations, and business organizations. There were around 60 nominations in all categories.
My little grand-daughters (Ava and Addisyn Taylor) were nominated by Erika Brodie after she learned about their fundraising efforts to drill a well in Africa, and their work on behalf of the Mother Angel Orphans and Widows Home in India. There were five young people nominated for the “Service Above Self” award, with all being teenagers except for Ava and Addy. One of the fine young men nominated was a local physicians son who I thought was probably a shoe in to win! After all the honoree’s were called on stage the judges envelope was opened by the evenings master of ceremonies. When Ava and Addisyns name was called out I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Bill Saul (the Rotary photographer) said that the girls were the youngest to ever win this community award. There were even a few people who congratulated them afterwards, and even gave a donation toward their next ministry.
The above middle picture is Erika Brodie, her daughter Olyvia, Hostess Josephine Perna Stahl (Key Bank) and Addisyn and Ava. There is also a picture of the girls and their beautiful proud mother Courtney.
Everyone was gracious and the evening was well attended. Lorna even had a cousin (Douglas Trouten) who was nominated for the adult award. I saw some old friends, and enjoyed the evening even though my allergies were trying to “beat me up!” I couldn’t conclude this post without saying the girls do what they do because of the love they have in their hearts for Jesus. They know that when they love others they are really loving Him. There is no certificate or trophy greater than hearing Him say “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Grandma and I love you girls. Continue to put others first and you will have a life well lived.
May 1st, 2013
I don’t always remember to bring my camera along with me when I’m out and about, but when I do remember good things happen!
I live in a country neighborhood and every year we have mallard ducks nesting in peoples yards. You would think they would learn their lesson, as inevitably raccoons (or some other critter) will get their eggs. Our neighborhood is not a safe place to build a nest on the ground. Only once have I actually seen ducklings hatch from these ill advised hiding places. I’m surprised they keep at it year after year. This male mallard was just across the street from my house, and posed nicely for a photo opt.
The pair of geese were in my brothers backyard pond, and the female is a little smarter than the ducks. She has her nest in the middle of this pond, and if you want her babies you’ll have to swim, and then fight her and her mate to boot. Foxes and coyotes sometimes underestimate the tenacity of a mother goose. I once saw a goose kill a fox my friend kept for a pet. The fox went for the little goslings and momma goose smoked him! She actually picked him up by the back of his neck and shook him so hard she broke his back. You do not fool around with a mother goose, or you to may be in for quite a surprise.
I also saw a huge “Tom” turkey, but was to slow with the camera for a picture. He was walking down a road in an area of luxury homes, and surprised the heck out of me. No doubt looking for some female turkeys. Thank you “Mother Nature” for the photo opt!
April 27th, 2013
Grandson Jacob Russo (Jay-Bird) nailed a nice Tom turkey yesterday. Jacob did it the “old-fashioned” way, with a little single shot 410 gauge shotgun.
He was hunting with his dad Tony who was acting as his “guide” and “mentor.” I say “mentor” cause that is the name of the new DNR program instituted to get younger hunters in the woods. Children up to 9 years old can obtain a license to take two turkey (spring and fall) two deer, small game, and even trap if they so desire. All this for $7.50. Is that a bargain or what? They only need to be with an adult, and properly supervised at all times. Tony said it’s the best thing going if you’re looking to build some great memories with your kids or grandkids. He was so excited when Jay put the “smack down” on this bird that silently snuck into their decoy setup. Jay opted for the hard way to down one of Michigan’s big game species-a rear end shot! A head and neck shot is what a turkey hunter normally seeks, but ole Jay Bird got a little excited, and pulled the trigger as the turkey turned away from him. His aim was true, as the bird dropped where he stood. Jay and the little iron sighted 410 did their job perfectly.
The turkey was almost as big as Jay, as you can see by the pictures. I’ll tell you Tony and I were sure proud of our little man. Jay is the first of my 11 grandkids to put some great tasting game in the freezer.
I also bought Ava a mentor license, and have had her out twice, but no birds yet. I may have to take her up to our cabin and see if we can locate her a bird around there. Last year I had grandson Kyle Pafford out deer hunting with a crossbow, but the deer didn’t cooperate. This year I should have a whole group of 9 year olds enjoying the age-old rituals of “deer camp!” At least I sure hope so.
April 25th, 2013
So far turkey season has been a big “bust” for the Ansel clan. The cold wet and snowy weather may have something to do with it, but there are people taking birds elsewhere.
As you can see by our “set-up” we have the decoys surrounded by water. That is not intentional, but is due to the amount of rainfall we have had this Spring. The water should not be past the trees in the background. If nothing else the wood ducks like it! Granddaughter Ava and I watched 9 males courting 4 females around the expanded pond. Male wood ducks are one of the most colorful ducks of any we have here in Michigan. We also watched rabbits “thumping” on one another, which is quite funny to see! Squirrels and a variety of song birds scampered around our blind, but no turkeys. Of course the very next day (when Ava was in school) a “Tom” was caught on trail cam at this exact spot!
Brother Darryl and his son Derek have a crew of “young hunters” in the north woods, but so far no birds for them either. I plan on taking Ava up to the cabin next weekend and giving it a try. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and start heating up a bit. We need to get Ava a bird for Thanksgiving dinner!
April 22nd, 2013
Just returned from our place in Luzerne, and the highlight was seeing two Pileated woodpeckers on our property. My wife is quite a “bird watcher,” but has never seen a Pileated woodpecker before. She was thrilled to see the pair flying from tree to tree as they looked for some tasty insects to eat. They make so much noise when pecking on a tree that it sounds like someone hammering in the woods.
These woodpeckers are huge (about 19 inches long when mature.) As far as I know they are the largest woodpecker found in Michigan, and dwarf most other birds in the woods. They are found in almost every county in Michigan, but are rather elusive, and rarely photographed. I had hoped to get a picture of the two of them together, but they kept flying away as I put a stalk on them. It was quite a treat to observe these large northern neighbors who have left their calling cards so often around our woods (Dead trees with huge portions/holes pecked out of them!)
There was still some snow on the ground and the temperature never got over 42 degrees. It was down in the low 20′s at night. Saw a couple of deer, but turkey sign was non existent! I have a turkey permit along with a couple grandkids, but the birds have seemed to vacate the area. It’s kind of ironic that Fairview is called the turkey capital of Michigan, but you see “nary” a bird in the area. The DNR over trapped them throughout the years, and shipped them south. Now the southern counties of Michigan have an abundance of birds, and the DNR is trapping them to send back to northern Michigan. Makes sense to me!
Jacob is hunting this morning with his dad Tony, and I will be taking Ava out this evening after a turkey around here. The birds have split up and left their wintering grounds. They are a little harder to find, but we’ll give it our best “yelp/cackle!”
April 16th, 2013
My grand-daughter Ava is pictured with the turkey target that she demolished with the first shot of her young life. She put at least 35 BB’s in the turkeys head and neck with my little youth model 870 mag! She got a little bit of a kick from the recoil, but she said the “noise” was louder than she expected.
We are heading out into my brother-in-laws property early on April 22nd. That’s opening day of Michigan’s turkey hunting season. I bought her a youth mentors license, and it is truly the best deal going if you’re looking to get a kid involved in hunting. For a few dollars they get a turkey license, deer license, small game, and can even trap. The turkeys in the picture were in my back yard a couple of years ago, and I actually saw another one yesterday. I’m hoping Monday morning Ava will be able to draw down on one I “call” in for her. How great that would be!
The only drawback to where we are hunting is that the turkeys are roosting in a woods I can’t hunt, and I have to draw them across a creek. Two weeks ago there wasn’t hardly any water in the creek, but now it’s 2 foot deep. Turkeys don’t like to cross fences or creeks, so it may be a challenge to my calling abilities. The fact that I’ll have decoys placed on our side of the creek may help in our quest for “Ava’s first bird!” That’s what were hoping for.
April 11th, 2013
Just like these turkeys need to be very cautious as to what direction they take, so do outdoor recreationists in taking to the woods this Spring. I mean it is spring isn’t it? At least the calendar says it is, but Winter doesn’t want to release its relentless grip on Michigan!
I know most of us are chomping at the bits to get outside and enjoy a long walk, or a hike in the woods, and just take in the sights and sounds of Spring. There are some common sense safety tips for anyone to keep in mind before heading into the woods.
In Michigan spring means mushroom hunting, hiking, trail riding, fishing, turkey hunting, and exploring the trails all our public lands have to offer. Because we all have a touch of “cabin fever” right now we need to make certain we don’t tempt the coyote, (See picture)
Before heading off always let someone know where you are going, and what time you expect to be back. Cellphones work in almost all areas of the outdoors, so take one with you just in case. A GPS system is not a bad idea either. A compass and a small flashlight can be invaluable. I have gotten turned around (not lost) on more than one occasion, and I want to tell you spending the night in a tree deep in a Quebec swamp is not “FUN!” Someday I may write about that “dark night.” Hopefully you will be somewhat familiar with the land your on. Remember there may be turkey hunters in the woods, so wearing hunter orange could save you from being “Thanksgiving dinner.” As we all know the weather can change in an instant in Michigan. Good idea to take a little backpack and put some light rain gear, snacks, and some bottled water in it. During hunting season a lost hunter can always fire his gun, but in the spring a whistle is a good way to make some loud noises to help locate you, if needed. Make sure you have enough layered cloths with you. You can always take some off, but can’t put it on if you didn’t bring it.
Now if we can just coax the sun to appear and warm things up a tad, we can hit the trails, and enjoy all the great state of Michigan has to offer.