Backyard Bucks

July 21st, 2014

baby Jeremiah and big buck 013It’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.


Bald Eagle Encounter

July 17th, 2014

4th at cabin 2014 022Back 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.


Traverse City Cherry Festival & The Blue Angels

July 11th, 2014

4th at cabin 2014 1014th at cabin 2014 0804th at cabin 2014 0694th at cabin 2014 0944th at cabin 2014 1034th at cabin 2014 049While 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!

Danger On The Ausable!

July 8th, 2014

4th at cabin 2014 1984th at cabin 2014 168Every 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)4th at cabin 2014 154.

Ansel Turkey Success

June 29th, 2014

Even though I never bagged a turkey this year my brother and his family made up for it.  Darryl downed a nice mature Tom over in Bronson Michigan that weighed in at 21 pounds with a 10 inch beard.  His boy Derek also shot a 24.7 pound bird with a 10-1/2 inch beard in the same area.

Later in the season Darryl took his crew to Gaylord for the third hunt and two of his gran-kids dropped nice Toms.  Tanner McElvany scored on a good bird near Lewiston while his grandpa Darryl worked the bird into range.  Tristan Ansel (Derek’s son) shot the 4th. bird of his young career while his dad did the calling.  Both these birds weighed in around 19 pounds with 8-9 inch beards. Congratulations to you all.  Do you think you might throw me a spare drum stick around Thanksgiving time?  darryl 2014 turkey 003

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?

June 26th, 2014

It would seem that to some brown bears the answer to the question “Brown bear brown bear what do you see,” is “I see a meal looking at me!”  The reason I say that is there was yet another brown bear attack in Alaska recently.  According to Alaska State Troopers Andre Siegenthaler suffered serious injuries Tuesday near the village of Slana.  The location is 250 miles northeast of Anchorage and 100 miles west of the Canadian border.  Siegenthaler was reported to be in stable condition at the Wasilla hospital.

According to Ed Bullock (a neighbor) Andre (66 years old) was on his way to pick up some nails from Mr. Bullock when the bear attacked. There was no provocation as the attack happened without warning.  Andre was carrying bear repellent, but the attack happened so fast he didn’t have time to use it.  Despite their size brown bears are very fast, and can reach speeds up to 30 miles an hour.  Adult brown bears (500-800 pounds) are the top of the food chain predators, and have killed and consumed humans on occasion.  The worlds largest brown bears are found in coastal British Columbia and the Kodiak Islands in Alaska.  Bears can go well over 1000 pounds in these areas.

Andre suffered bites to his right hip, both shoulders and arms, and had damage to both cheeks and an ear.  Talk about being “in your face!” After the attack Andre walked approximately 900 yards back to his house where his wife called 911 which called in transport to the hospital.  As of this posting there were no plans to try and locate the attacker.  I guess Andre will have to be a little faster on the draw (bear spray or a 44 magnum) next time he decides to walk to his buddy Ed’s house!


Whitetail Fawns

June 21st, 2014

Whitetail Deer Newborn Fawn Newborn whitetail deer fawnThis is the time of year you start seeing these little guys wandering about.  My son-in-law Tony has four of them roaming around his property.  They are the offspring of two whitetail does, and are never far away from the protection of their mother.  When a whitetail fawn is born they have no smell (scent) to them, in order to elude the keen sense of smell from the various predators in the area.

Years ago a friend of ours (Dick Baldwin) was actually charged by a black bear who was defending his freshly killed fawn!  Thankfully Dick made it to the safety of his truck before he became a “side dish!” Bears, coyotes, and even eagle’s will take fawns if an opportunity presents itself, but probably the greatest threat is vehicle traffic!  I have already seen two dead fawns laying beside the road in rural area’s.  Be alert and pay attention when driving in any area where deer are present.

We have a couple of twin fawns around the cabin which are always a treat to see.  I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more because of the high number of doe’s around.  Of course you have to have bucks in order to have fawns, and I can’t say there are a ton of them roaming the area.  I’ll know better whats going on once I get my pictures off my trail cams over the 4th. of July holidays.


Baltimore Oriole’s-Baseball-And Big Birds

June 17th, 2014

fathers day 2014 019fathers day 2014 0182013 ball games Ava and Addy 015The Baltimore Oriole is probably my wife’s favorite bird, but getting a glimpse of one is rare.  We have tried for years to get one to come into our Oriole feeder to no avail.  boy have things changed this year.  We have a male and female coming into two feeders (one grape jelly) and the other a actual Baltimore Oriole mix.  Not only that we recently took a trip to Indiana and saw 3 of the colorful birds along the way.  To top things off my son-in-law and daughter have a nest in their front yard where we watched them feed three young ones in their hanging nest.  What a treat that was!  We had several people trying to get a good photo of them, and I actually got a pretty good one which I will post, along with the nest.

Baseball and softball are in full swing around here, and Grandma and Papa are quite busy trying to keep up with all the grandkids and their sports. This typical Michigan weather is keeping everyone on their toes, as a thunderstorm seems to be hiding just behind the next bank of clouds!  So far no rain outs, but that won’t last forever.  It might be the only way we can get a “break” this summer.

Twice this past week I have seen adult eagles flying over our city, and both times there have been black birds dive bombing them!  Don’t they know they are attacking our national bird?  I think that’s against the law!  Evidently the much smaller and swifter black birds harass eagles, hawks, owls, and crows when they invade their air space.  The bigger birds have a hard time trying to maneuver away from the pecking defenders and are quite helpless as they seek safer territory.

Forth of July is just around the corner.  Can’t wait to spend some time with the family at the cabin.


Michigan’s Wolf Survey

June 13th, 2014

wolfcoyote 001The Michigan department of Natural Resources has just completed it’s annual study of the states wolf population. DNR biologist estimate that there were a minimum of 636 wolves in Michigan this winter which is down from the estimate of 658 for last winter, but the numbers are stable and no cause for concern according to the DNR.

Last fall Michigan’s first wolf hunt was held with a target of 43 wolves to be harvested.  Only 22 were taken in areas where their are various conflicts and issues with farm animals and pets!  Michigan’s population of wolves has stayed between 600-700 for the last several years, which indicates a leveling off of the population due to the lands carrying capacity.

I personally have seen three wolves while driving and hunting in the Upper Peninsula.  The first was spotted crossing the road in the Seney Wildlife Refuge.  Another was spotted while deer hunting in Crystal Falls several years ago, along with sighting many wolf tracks.  The last was just a few years ago while bear hunting in Marquette.  There has definitely been a pack hanging around our bear hunting camp.  They have been known to get into our bear bait.  A pure black wolf has been spotted on several occasions, and what a majestic sight it is to see these “top of the food chain” predators!


Michigan’s Number 1 Typical Buck For 2013

June 9th, 2014

2013 big buck 0052013 big buck 006During the November 2013 deer gun hunt here in Michigan I kept hearing rumors about a huge buck being shot in my own county (Monroe.)  I tried unsuccessfully to track down these tall tales about a 300 pound monster buck, but to no avail.  It wasn’t till several months had passed that I learned that Adam Stretch had indeed taken a huge 12 point typical buck in Dundee.  Dundee is in the western part of Monroe County and has some excellent farmland deer hunting areas.

It was Adam’s first buck in 20 years of hunting, and he shot it within the first hour of opening day gun season.  Here in the southern counties you have to use a shotgun or muzzle-loader to deer hunt, and Adam used a Mossberg pump action 12 gauge with a Bushnell variable scope.  The big 12 pointer surprised Adam as it came from behind him at 10 yards while he was “grunting!”  The deer didn’t spook, but turned and started walking away from where Adam was sitting.  At about 60 yards he turned broadside and gave the fortunate hunter a shot.  Adam was sure of a hit, but did not find the buck till the next day.  A neighbor saw antlers sticking up out of a ditch 200 yards from where Adam had shot the buck and told Adam!  The buck was hard to retrieve from the very deep ditch, but the cool water helped preserve the meat.

I never heard of anyone getting 200 pounds of venison out of one deer, but Adam did!  The old timer (8-9) years old had to weigh in the 300 pound range in order to garner that much meat.  The official score was 181 3/8 gross and 176 1/8 net to make it the largest typical scoring buck for 2013.  Stretch will really have to “stretch” in order to beat this big boy!  Who knows 20 years down the road he may run into another Monster Monroe County Buck sneaking into his grunt call, and put another one in the books!