Turkey Opener 2014

April 21st, 2014

Arrived at my old buddies place at 5:20 a.m. with the plan to call him in a big Tom Turkey.  We had set up a blind a few days earlier at the back of his woods overlooking a cut bean field.

Around 6:40 a.m. a Gobbler started responding to my calls in the woods behind us.  He talked to us for about 40 minutes, but shut up once he left his roost!  I figure he already was “henned up” thus he wasn’t interested in playing our game.  We had to of been awful close to this bird when we walked to the back of the woods in the morning.

We had another bird gobble one time in the woods to the east of us, and saw a lone Tom walking a fence row about 400 yards away.  We watched that bird for 20 minutes or so, but could not get him interested with our set up.  As luck would have it the farmer who works the fields came out bright and early with his crew to disc the fields.  That was the end of day one.  We packed things up and put up a blind close to where we figured that “trash talking gobbler” was sitting in his tree.  Maybe we can entice him tomorrow, or maybe we can get rained out as the forecast is not promising.  Such is the life of a turkey hunter.

Mike

Michael Bloomberg and Gun Control

April 18th, 2014

Former New York city mayor Michael Bloomberg has a lot of money to throw around.  In fact he is funding a new organization with a focus on gun control.  The Second Amendment be “damned” along with recent supreme Court rulings upholding “The right to bear arms!”  Bloomberg has pledged at least $50 million dollars to help this new organization take on the National Rifle Association.

He plans on going after lawmakers who’s stance differs from his own concerning gun control.  One of his goals is to make those pro Second Amendment lawmakers afraid of him and his group.  He hopes to make it a grass roots effort by enlisting “one mom at a time!”  Female voters are the main group Bloomberg will try to partner with, as they focus on the single issue of gun control.

Bloomberg already funds Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.  He plans on bringing those groups under the roof of this new group called “Everytown for Gun Safety.”  Initially the group plans to focus on background checks for gun purchases at the state and national level.  Once they make inroads at this stage they will turn their attention to the weightier issues of gun control. Bloomberg has 15 states in his sights including Colorado, Washington, Texas, Indiana, and Montana.

Bloomberg has deep pockets and could certainly help level the playing field in the National debate concerning gun control.  He’s not a stupid man, but he certainly is an arrogant one.  Recently he made the statement “I am telling you, if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to get interviewed.  I am heading straight in.  I have earned my place in heaven.  It’s not even close!”  This may be one of the most arrogant declarations ever made by any human.  Hey if there is no God then he’s safe, but if there is; his big mouth may not be big enough to talk his way through those Pearly Gates.  Can anyone say “It’s to late to be humble now?”

I believe unless the hearts of men are changed and transformed by the power of the Living God, evil will extract it’s due on mankind.The tools of destruction be it gun, knife, bomb, ball bat, chain saw, etc. are all used by individuals hell bent on bringing pain and death calculated or indiscriminately!  The tool is welded by a person who’s only hope is a “heart transplant!”  I’v seen drug addicts and alcoholics transformed by the power of God.  Haters have become lovers, and the self loathing have been set free.

On this Good Friday my bottom line message is there’s still room at the cross for you.  Though millions have come there’s still room for one; yes there’s room at the cross for you!  We don’t need gun control we need Jesus!

Mike

Another Florida Bear Attack!

April 14th, 2014

black bear 004

This past Saturday Terri Frana went out to her garage to get a couple bikes out for her kids so they could ride down the street to their neighbors.  As soon as the kids had left the driveway two black bears appeared.  Terri walked to her patio area where 5 bears were eating from her garbage can.  The bears were of various sizes!

The biggest bear quickly stood on its hind legs and grabbed Terri by her head and started mauling her.  ”The powerful bear started dragging her toward the woods,” said Frank Frana her husband.  Somehow she broke free and made it back to her house where she collapsed on the living room floor!  Her son found her and made a frantic call to 911.  The bears had left the area by the time the ambulance arrived to transport her to a local hospital.  Terri had at least three (3) bite wounds and several scratches and cuts.  She required 40 stitches on her head alone!  Terri was released from the hospital the next day and is recuperating at home.

The Seminole County Sheriffs Office told ABC news that the bear were of various sizes, and it no doubt was a mother bear that attacked Mrs. Frana.  Wildlife officials searched the area throughout the night and have placed some baited live traps in the area.

This attack happened about 10 miles from where 54 year old Susan Chalfant was mauled by a black bear while walking her dog last December.  According to the Department of Natural Resources there has been an increase of bear sightings in the area, but attacks on humans are unusual!  Tell that to the most recent victims, in a state where the bear population numbers are supposed to be minimal at best.

Black bear numbers in Florida have made a remarkable recovery since 1970 when only 300 bear were left in the wilds.  Today it is estimated that nearly 3500 bears roam six “home” habitat areas of the state.  There is no open bear hunting season in Florida and the bears are becoming more habituated to humans and the food sources around their homes.  Bears are opportunistic and will eat bird seed, dog food, garbage from unsecured trash cans, and anything else that is accessible and edible!  The human population in Florida is ever encroaching on the black bears territory, so you can bet it’s only a matter of time before a bear makes it into the safety of the woods with a human victim in tow.  An adult stands a pretty good chance to fend off an attack, but a child has no chance against even the smallest of black bears.  Scary thought indeed!

Mike

Northern Pikes Sad Ending

April 13th, 2014

pike 001Most small creeks and ditches have had plenty of water in them this year as we have had record snowfalls this past winter.  I suppose that has something to do with a larger number of carp and suckers running upstream to lay their eggs.  All the creeks, and small waterways around here lead to one place, Lake Erie.  There have even been instances of northern pike, salmon, and trout swimming upstream when the conditions are right.

A few days ago I was on the phone with my 89 year old mother, and she suddenly exclaimed there’s a kid in the creek and he just speared a fish.  I asked her if it was a carp or sucker and she said she didn’t think so.  I then asked if it could be a pike and she thought it might be.  She said the kid just threw it on the bank after killing it and kept walking up stream.  She said it was a big fish which perked my interest into seeing just what was wantonly left to rot on the creek bank.

Next day I stopped by her place, and she pointed out the spot where the fish laid.  Sure enough it was a pike.  Not just any pike, but a very large female who just wanted to spawn and provide more of her species for the Lake Erie watershed!  The fish measured 34 inches which is truly a nice sized pike in my estimation.  What a waste!  That young man broke the law, and cruelly destroyed not just one fish, but a whole lot of of future pike, that can never be replaced.  No doubt this sort of thing goes on all the time, but somewhere along the line it has to stop.  Adults and kids need to be educated to the harm that this sort of wasteful killing can do to sports-fishing and the various species of sport fish.

Mike

From Freezer to Fryer Perch are King

April 12th, 2014

4-12-14 014One of the main reasons a hunter hunts and a fisherman fishes is the bounty that goes along with being successful in your pursuit of fish and game.  For me, and for countless others, much of that “bounty” is wrapped and frozen in the basement/garage freezer to be enjoyed at the time of your choosing.

Yesterday my wife and I really had a desire for some Lake Erie perch.  I retrieved 2 (1-pound) packages from the freezer and we were on our way to our “heart desire!”  I got out the propane burner and all my oil cooking pot and pans, and set them up on my work bench.  It was a beautiful spring day here in Monroe, so I opened the garage door and let the sun shine in.

The fish were submerged in a mixture of egg, milk, salt, and pepper, as I prepared the coating of flour, Italian bread crumbs, and a smattering of condiments.  The vegetable oil was heated to 325 degrees and we were good to go.  My wife made a salad and we (cheated) with a box of potato wedges from KFC.

There were more than enough fish for Lorna and myself, so we invited our daughter Alena and her family over to share in this wonderful meal, compliments of the Lake Erie fishery.  My grandson Jacob said he didn’t like fish, and I had to coax him into taking a bite.  My mistake!  I couldn’t get him to stop eating his “favorite” fish from then on.  Everyone enjoyed the meal brought forth from the cool depths of the lake, and once again those treasures stored in my 50 year old freezer gave ups it’s bounty!  Bon appetit!

Michigan’s Turkey Success Story

April 10th, 2014

turkeys 2011 no3Turkey season is just around the corner here in Michigan, and the weather is finally cooperating!  We have had a late, long, cold, and snow filled winter which can delay the Spring turkey courtship and nesting ritual.  The lucky hunters that have drawn a permit for the first hunt would sure like to to see some sunshine and warmer weather, in order to get those birds “in the mood!”

As of this year turkeys can be found in every county in the lower peninsula along with several counties in the upper peninsula.  Back in 1977 there were 400 turkeys taken during that first hunt, but today (last year) over 30,000 birds were harvested.  That is quite a success story for our state and those who’s efforts lead to the restoration of these wonderful birds.  At one time Michigan’s fields and forest were void of any turkeys.  Unregulated hunting and habitat infringement wiped out the turkeys in the early part of the 1900 hundreds!  Many efforts to restore the birds failed until Michigan received some bird from Pennsylvania’s successful restoration program.  They were planted in the Allegan State Game Area and took off from there. Later turkeys were relocated from Iowa and Missouri to Southern Michigan.  As those birds flourished they were trapped and relocated in the northern part of the state where they seemed to due quite well despite the cold harsh winter conditions.  The biggest factor in a healthy turkey population in the northern part of the state is a year-round supply of food and cover.  The National Wild Turkey Federation, the DNR, and private land management efforts have been the primary source of establishing the ever expanding range of these wild birds.

To me there is nothing like outwitting a love struck Tom turkey in the spring season.  They strut, dance, and will attack your decoys during the annual ritual of their mating season.  They are not the “stupid” bird that some may think!  It doesn’t take long for an older Gobbler to catch on to a hunters tricks and become vary wary of becoming Thanksgiving dinner on your table.

I have seen a few bird around my area, and I plan on helping a good friend get his bird on opening day.  I don’t have a permit till the 3rd hunt, which is alright with me.  I’ve always done good later in the year and hopefully will be successful again this year.  Whether I am or not it is always good to be in the fields and forest of Michigan as it awakes from it’s long winters nap!

Mike

Squirrel’s Dies From To Much Gas

April 7th, 2014

Years ago there was a gasoline commercial that’s slogan was “Put a tiger in your tank!”  Now if they meant a real tiger that may of been a bit unhealthy for him!  Animals and gasoline don’t mix very well together.  I found that to be all to true when I opened my pole barn door last weekend at our cottage.

The place was a mess as the squirrels had been up to no good.  I had nails and screws knocked off my work bench!  They had chewed through a bag of insulation and had that spread all over the shop!  Plastic containers were chewed into and a roll of paper towels was in shreds!  To make matters worse squirrel droppings were all over the place.

There are to many ways a rodent can get into my pole barn, so plugging the holes was not an option.  I was thinking poison, large rat traps, or maybe a live trip set with bait.  I needed to figure out someway to keep these messy critters at bay!

As I got ready to close the pole barn door I noticed that the spout from one of my 5 gallon gas cans was laying on the floor, all chewed up!  The cap was also chewed on along with the threads on the gas can itself.  I asked my buddy Ed “Why would an animal want to chew/eat a toxic can of gasoline?”  Neither one of us had a clue.  There was still about a gallon of gas in the can, but I knew there were pieces of chewed plastic mixed in so I needed to dump it.  As I got ready to pour it out I said “Wouldn’t it be funny if he was in the can?”  Ed jokingly took a peek and said “By gosh he is in there!”  I couldn’t believe it but a full grown red squirrel was floating in the tainted gasoline.

This is a new one on me.  I can’t figure out why any critter would want to chew it’s way into a gas can nozzle and then squeeze through the small opening in order to be submersed in gasoline? Don’t make sense to me for sure.  If anyone has an opinion on this I would certainly love to hear it.

Mike

 

Home Brew – Maple Syrup

April 4th, 2014

maple syrup 003Last year my younger brother decided to make his own maple syrup.  He has about 10 acres of hardwood with many maple trees among them.  He tapped about 30 trees and was able to collect 200 gallons of maple sap.  Out of that he was able to process just over 5 gallons of home made maple syrup.  He said it was a lot of work, but once you taste the “real deal” it’s hard to satisfied with store bought syrup anymore.  Boiling down the sap and keeping the right temperature (so you don’t burn it) was the hardest part of the process.  He gave us a quart last year and it was awesome.  We make pancakes from scratch and the “home brew” syrup was everyone’s favorite.

This year my nephew (Scott Smiley) tried his hand at tapping a few maple trees around his house.  He lives just down the street from us, and yesterday dropped off a pint of his newly processed maple syrup.  He only had a few trees to tap, and they were not all sugar maples.  According to him any maple tree can be used, and I volunteered our two red maples for next year.  Scott only collected 30 gallons of sap, which gave him a gallon of syrup. Much hard work went into that gallon as he heated his sap the old fashioned way; by a wood fire!  I handled his gift like it was liquid sweet gold.  I took a taste and can not wait for pancakes this coming weekend.

Anyone out there that might want to try this next year should go on-line and see if you might be interested in making some of the best maple syrup you have ever tasted.  The process isn’t that hard, but it is time consuming and you need a good heat source.  I’m thinking of trying it myself next year.

Mike

First Golf Outing of 2014

April 1st, 2014

golfing 005Finally a break in the weather!  Sunny skies, 56 degree temps, and the golf course open, what more could a golfer ask for?  I’ve been playing indoors this winter, but have been chomping at the bits to get outside where the “real” game of golf is played.  Upon waking on this very last day of March I yearned to hit the links and loosen up some of those little used muscles.  I called my friend Bob Baltrip to see if he was game, and of course the answer was “see you in a bit!”

We arrived at Green Meadows golf course right around 11 a.m., and found a parking lot full of cars and anxious golfers.  We signed in, grabbed a cart, and got in line for the number one tee.  The place was packed, but it really didn’t matter.  We were golfing after a 5 month hiatus, and it was truly wonderful.  It didn’t even matter that we had 3 errant balls come whizzing by us, and only two golfer yelled “Fore!”  The player that didn’t warn us came the closest, and actually landed his ball between our 2 that were on the green of a par five.  He was a big fella and hit it a country mile, as he had an “eagle” put from about 20 feet.  He apologized for the error of his ways and we were good natured about it.  It could happen to any one of us if we spend enough time on the course.

My goal for the day was just to enjoy spending time with my old friend, play half way decent golf, and get a few pars along the way.  Well that’s all I got were a few, but I still broke 90 (89) and that was icing on the cake.  Bob had an identical score, and was a tickled as I was, just to enjoy a day on the course again.  It may have taken us 4 hours to play 18 holes, but we weren’t complaining at all.  After all it could be snowing and blowing like it has for the past 5 months.  We are blessed indeed!

Mike

Michigan’s Long Cold Winter Effects Deer Herd

March 31st, 2014

March 2014 deer 070March 2014 deer 073March 2014 deer 059Just returned from a few days at our place around Mio Michigan where the snow is still 2 feet deep in the woods!  Our driveway was a solid sheet of ice as the past few sunny days have melted some of the near record snowfall in the area.  It may take till May for the 4-5 foot high snowbanks to melt away!  The back-roads are in rough shape to say the least as snow, ice, and mud make for a slippery (rut to rut) drive!

I of course was very interested to see how the deer around my place were holding up, and it didn’t take me long to find out.  They were using our property to bed in, as the neighbor a few properties away, has horses.  The smell of hay, for a deer that can’t find food, must draw them like a magnet. There were signs (runways) deep in the snow that these deer were doing as little traveling as possible.  We saw many area’s used for bedding, usually under a tree where the snow wasn’t so deep.

Northern Michigan is not like the middle or southern portions of the state, as the deer numbers have been down for years.  Acorns are an important part of a deer’s diet, but around my place oak trees are few and far between.  Deer are grazers, and the snow pack this winter has severely limited their ability to browse.  There is a swamp not far from my place and many of the trails came from that direction.  No doubt many of these deer were “yarding” in that area.  Not much fat producing protein in cedar or hemlock trees.  In fact we saw where some of the smaller pine trees had been stripped of their branches.  I’m really not sure if deer will eat pine needles or pine bark, but something was nibbling on them.

The deer we saw, for the most part, looked to be in half way decent shape, but there were those whose ribs and hips were quite visible.  There was one small fawn that had a big section of hair missing from his shoulder to the middle of his back.  The exposed area was right down to it’s skin, but the deer appeared none the worse for it!

While sitting at the kitchen table we saw a group of crows landing just off our property, and I know something “dead” had to be over there.  We walked over and discovered what was left of a deer.  Critters had been chewing on it for awhile, so there wasn’t much left, except for what was still under the snow.  Makes you wonder how many more are laying in the woods?  I also think of the doe’s that are about to give birth to their fawns.  Out of the 15-20 deer that we saw, only a couple looked to be pregnant.  Try as we may to spot a buck we did not see a deer we could identify as such.

I think the deer need help through a winter like the one we just had, but state regulations forbid the “artificial” feeding of deer in several counties in Northern Michigan.  Could be part of the reason deer number are down in this part of the state, but what do I know?

Mike