August 19th, 2014
This past Saturday a family of five battled with an adversary that could of easily eaten them all for breakfast! Mandy and John Stokes along with Mandy’s brother in law Kevin Jenkins and his children Savannah and Parker spotted the large gator Friday night, and the hunt was on. They pursued the beast most of the evening and into early Saturday morning in a 17 foot bass boat that was just two feet longer than the gator!
The massive behemoth was captured in a creek about 80 miles west of Montgomery in the early morning hours. The Stoke’s has purchased some giant hooks, and Mandy had her trusty 20 gauge shotgun ready to use when needed. They all had taken a required alligator hunting class and Mandy knew that shot placement was crucial in putting a gator to “sleep!” The sweet spot is just behind the eyes where the half dollar sized brain is located.
Several hooks had a good hold on the gator, but he pulled the 17 foot boat around like a canoe. Mandy missed her first opportunity as the beast head was to far under water when she fired. Eventually, Mandy Stokes got another shot and made Alabama State History. The Monster Gator weighed a whopping 1011 pounds and was 15 feet long. It beat the old record by nearly 200 pounds. That record was held by Keith Fancher who took an 838 pound gator in 2011.
Mandy and John plan on sending the gator to the taxidermist and should enjoy several hundred pounds of fine eating gator meat. I’ve eaten it on several occasions and it is truly a game meat to be enjoyed. There are numerous ways to cook a gator, but I would say the best recipes come from the bayou people of Louisiana. Bon-A-Petite and congratulations.
On a side note the anti hunters, and uneducated will attack this family and hunting in general, so be ready for the nasty onslaught Mandy and John. A night you all will never forget!
August 14th, 2014
Michigan’s senate, led by Republicans, approved controversial legislation that could make clear the path for future wolf hunts without interference from anti hunters or environmental groups! Presently there are two wolf protection propositions set to appear on the November ballot.
A hunting and conservation group called Citizens for Professional wildlife Management collected 297,000 thousand signatures in a statewide petition drive that basically stated that the Natural Resources Commission should have the authority to add new game species to hunt in our state. Supporters say that this commission is best suited to consider scientific rational in how to balance our diverse ecosystem. State Senator Howard Walker (R) Traverse City, whose district cover the Eastern end of the Upper Peninsula, said “It has nothing to do with trying to eliminate the wolves, but to provide scientific management to bring balance to the ecosystem!”
The Senate voted 23-1o along party lines to adopt the legislation which now heads for the approval of the House.
During the late 1990s and the 2000s the Michigan wolf population grew dramatically. There are an estimated 636 wolves now roaming Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There has been a recent increase in wolves killing dogs and farm livestock. In the past week 5 dogs and a cow have been taken down by wolves! Twenty two wolves were legally killed in last years hunt, but the DNR was hoping for around forty five.
I personally have heard them, seen their tracks, and even got a glimpse of one around our Marquette bear camp. I have talked to farmers, landowners, and hunters, and I have yet to find a person “thrilled” about the reintroduction of the wolf in the upper Peninsula! Of course the anti hunting drives sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States are largely made up of urban dwellers who’s bottom line agenda is to stop all hunting everywhere! I don’t want a bunch of pavement ponders making hunting and fishing decisions for me, even if they do outnumber Michigan Sportsmen and women. Issues concerning sportsmen and their rights should be decided by sportsmen who are the biggest contributors to conservation and the ecosystem than all other groups combined!
I’m truly looking forward to the House passing this pro-hunting bill this fall.
August 8th, 2014
Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Debbie Munson-Badini reported that there were two separate attacks on dogs in Schoolcraft and Delta County. Four hunting dogs were confirmed killed by wolves in those two counties where wolf sightings have been on the rise. Also there was a cow killed by a wolf in Dickenson county where the landowner shot and killed the wolf.
There is a much heated debate going on right now in our state concerning wolf hunting in Michigan. Last years hunt drew sharp rebuke from animal rights activist, who have two statewide referendums on the November ballot to do an “end around” on state sanctioned wolf hunts! Twenty two wolves were shot by hunters last year in order to keep the various wolf packs within a sustainable limit in our forest! When farmers and ranchers along with pet owners start having depredation due to a growing wolf population then steps need to be taken.
The Michigan legislature could move as early as next week to pass a pro-hunting law designed to head the two anti-hunting proposals off at the pass! In the mean time if you live in the Upper Peninsula better keep a good eye on your pets and livestock. They could end up on a wolves dinner menu!
August 5th, 2014
Is there really an African Lion roaming the streets of Norwalk California? A grainy video from a security cam show a shadowy figure strolling through the suburban neighborhood and residents are rightfully alarmed. The big cat in the video was first thought to be a large mountain lion, but upon further analysis from the California Department of Fish and Game it was determined it is “not” a mountain lion! Well what is it then? Evidently your guess is as good as their’s, as they are also scratching their heads!
In looking at the video it appears that this cats head is much larger than a mountain lions. Can you say African Lion? I would say it is a female or possibly a young male, but where in the world did it come from? No zoo’s have reported a missing lion, so the obvious deduction is it’s someones exotic pet taking a midnight stroll looking for a bite to eat! Norwalk residents better keep their dogs and cats indoors until this mystery is solved. In fact residents better stay indoors as they are no match for a “kitty” this size. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally I think we have enough native critters roaming our country that we sure don’t need all the invasive species that keep showing up in our swamps, forest, fields, and suburbs! Someone eventually is going to get hurt!
August 1st, 2014
A few years ago when I built my huge and comfortable ground blind I made sure it fit in with the surroundings. I spray painted it in various shades of green, grey, and browns! I even laid some ferns along side and then sprayed paint through them to make it look like ferns were growing on the wooden blind. I thought I did a great job of camouflaging my little hot spot. I also have several portable ground blinds that have a camo pattern to correspond with the trees and the terrain I’m hunting. We all go to great links to conceal our hiding spots, and with mine you could hardly detect it among the small trees and ferns.
Camo patterns and camo design are big business! Just walk into a Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop and you know what I mean. Everything has to be hidden from the wary eyes of those wily deer who will pick you out in a heartbeat if you wear the wrong colors!
Now I ask who in their right minds would paint their elevated deer blind “hot pink?” No one right? No respectable deer would come within a mile of such an outlandish colored blind!
Well I just ran across an article where a group of Louisiana deer hunters did just that in order to test a theory they had. They painted one of their blinds hot pink early in the spring and discovered that their trail cam pictures did not vary from those of proceeding years. The real test would come on the opening of deer season, hunting in the daylight. It was reported (and you can see by the picture) that the deer were completely unconcerned with the stands gaudy appearance.
The group of hunters deducted that it was the hunters actions around the stands that determined the deer’s behavior, and not the color of the blind. After all the deer in suburban settings sure don’t give a “bleat” about what color your house, garage, or barn is. They will eat your shrubs, flowers, grass, and gardens even if your house is painted “hot pink!”
July 29th, 2014
For more than a week I have had cramps, muscle spasms, fatigue, loss of appetite, low grade fever, and no energy! I went to a clinic last Friday and to see my family doctor today. Blood work was done, an EKG given, oxygen levels checked along with lung function and various other test. Nothing conclusive, but there is some evidence that a spider or possibly a infected tick is responsible.
On July 1st. I was cutting my grass with a ride on lawn mower and went under a thickly branched pine tree. I thought I scraped my leg on one of the numerous pine branches, but later that evening my thigh really started to “burn” and pain! When I took my shorts off I discovered 7 welts (bites) in a circle on my leg. It was swollen and red and hurt like crazy! I still thought I ran into a broken branch until the 7 scratches formed a head like a bite mark. Well it bothered me for two weeks with pain going from the bite area down my left leg to my ankle. I put neosporin on it and waited for it to go away.Well here I am a month later and the bite marks are still visible, and I have an infection in my body effecting my nerves and muscles. The Doctor has me on an capsule called Doxycycline which is good for fighting almost 99% of this type of infection including Lyme disease. I have to lay low for awhile and forget golf, yard work, or trips north. Lay around, get some rest, and release some stress. Hopefully I’ll be a good patient and follow the Dr. orders for once!
I know someone who woks in a pharmacy and they said people seeking treatment for spider bites is abnormally high this year. So don’t ignore a red, swollen, painful bite, but get it checked out while there is time to catch the infection before it catches you!
July 21st, 2014
It’s hard to believe that we are entering the last few days of July. It seems that summer just started, but August is just around the corner. September is just around the corner which brings Michigan’s bear season and the special deer hunts for youth and the disabled/veterans! Wow October bow season is right behind.
I have a friend that recently showed me a picture of a buck in his back yard. It’s a 12 pointer that I would guess score around 160-170. A beauty to be sure. Funny thing is he lives in an upscale neighborhood with no public or wild lands nearby. Evidently these deer find suburbia quite a nice place to live and hang out!
One of my son-in-laws also showed me a buck he caught on his backyard trailcam. He has split G-2′s and may be actually growing more points under all that massive velvet. This is another example of a trophy buck in the making. He just hopes the big bruiser is still in the area come October first.
It amazes me that although hundreds of thousands of deer are harvested each year in Michigan, yet they are always replaced by a new crop of bucks bigger and better than the previous year. Good news for the guys and gals that like venison or a good looking trophy for over the fireplace.
July 17th, 2014
Back when I was a kid there was a report of a pair of nesting eagles in Monroe County Michigan. Reporters found the huge nest high in the top of a tree not far from the Lake Erie shoreline, and took pictures to go along with the local newspaper story about our national symbol. Cars were lining the rural road to get a glimpse of these rarely seen birds of prey. Those days are in the past and now it is quite common to see eagles flying overhead in many area’s of Monroe County. Many pairs nest along the shoreline of Lake Erie and several nesting pairs patrol the Raisin River that dumps into Lake Erie. Still it has been a bit hard for me to get a good snapshot of this majestic bird (at least up close!)
Well over the forth of July holidays I was treated to a pair of Bald Eagles searching the waters of the Ausable River for some fresh fish. Fortunately I had my Nikon along with me and took a couple close up snapshots while they perched in a tree along the river bank. Just after I took this picture the eagle swooped down and sunk it’s talons into about a 12-14 inch fish! That was quite a sight to watch, but I was to slow on the camera shutter to record the moment. Just the same after years of trying I finally got the kind of photo I’ve been looking for. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did taking it.
July 11th, 2014
While up north this past week we took a ride over to Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival and the air show and fireworks put on the 4th. of July. We arrived early enough to secure a prime spot on the beach at Grand Traverse Bay, and were treated to quite a spectacular day.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels put on quite a show for the thousands of spectators lining the beaches on the sand and in the water (boats.) The Blue Angels have a 65 year history and have expanded to 6 aircraft flying solo and formation precision maneuvers. Sixteen volunteer pilots serve with the team, with “The Boss” commander flying jet number 1! I was able to take quite a few pictures as they performed their awesome maneuvers right over our heads.
The Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor demonstration team out of Langley Air Force Base also performed precision aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the worlds only operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The Raptor is the Air force’s newest fighter and represents a huge leap in war fighting capabilities. I also was able to get some great pictures of this stealthy aircraft.
We also saw the Bremont Horseman flying their WWII display team. They are the worlds only P-51 Mustang formation aerobatic team. Billy Werth showed his flying skills in a Embraer 145 biplane and delighted the crowd with his flying stunts and smoke trailing maneuvers.
I can’t forget the Coast Guard Air Station based out of Traverse City. They have had a presence in the area since 1946 and do operations in all of Lake Michigan, parts of Lake Superior, and Lake Huron. They had a rescue helicopter hover over the bay and do a simulated water rescue. A diver jumped into the water from about 25 feet and swam to the victim (dummy) in the very real demonstration.
We also enjoyed the rides, food, beach, and fireworks in the evening. It was a long day of sights and sounds, but a most memorable one indeed!
July 8th, 2014
Every year for the past 4 years the Ansel clan has taken a 4th. of July flotilla down the Au sable River near Luzerne. There were 15 of us this year, but we have had as many as 23 “float” the pristine cold waters of this holiday destination. This is one of the highest traffic times of the year both on the road and on the river. Thousands of campers, vacationers, and locals float the river during the summer, but it’s not without it’s dangers. In fact last year two people were killed and one seriously injured when a storm popped up and a lightning bolt hit the water not far from them. Probably the biggest danger is getting your “craft” caught by an overhanging branch which are many along your journey. My son Micah got his kayak caught under a limb two years ago, and the current capsized his boat and flipped him into the freezing waters. He was able to break free from the kayak, but it was a scary moment for us all!
Due to the snow depths this winter and rain this spring the river was higher and faster than we had experienced in other years. We tied our 2-person and single tubes together in two groups. Six in one and 7 in the other. Cousins Nadia and Nina wanted to go it alone, so we tied them together and off we went. It’s hard to keep the whole group together, but we did our best to enjoy the day as a group. At one point Nadia and Nina got ahead of us, and that’s when the unforgiving current did it’s thing! The girls were pushed toward the northern bank and no amount of paddling could avert the two low hanging branches seeking to “grab” there chance for disaster! Nina’s float tube was stuck sideways in limb number 2, as Nadia held tightly onto limb number 1! The current was sucking Nina’s tube under the limb and pulling her under with it. What we didn’t know is that her foot was tangled in the rope that had the 2 tubes tied together!
Son-in law Mark Horwitz jumped from his group and tried to reach the girls but the current was to strong, so he quickly went to shallower water and came in from behind them. In the meantime Nina’s mother panicked and jump into water over her head and was in a bit of trouble herself. I then flipped over the side of my tube and the current immediately swept me off my feet and was pulling me under six rafts! Daughter Mindy saw I was in trouble and alerted Russ (Courtney’s friend) who helped get my feet back under me. By then the girls were free from the branches, Alena was back in her raft, and I was standing in shallow water. Whew that was close! Nothing like a nice quite ride down a “lazy” river over the holidays. We all counted our blessings (and continue to do so) once we reached our destination and brought this years float trip to a close. It wouldn’t surprise me if we have fewer participant along for the ride next year-including me!
Nadia and Nina are pictured along with the whole gang-minus Mark (our hero).