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.

Mike

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.

Mike

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!

Mike

Michigan’s Wolf Hunt Cancelled!

September 12th, 2014

Recently I wrote a blog about wolves in the Upper Peninsula preying on dogs and cattle.  In fact over the last several years one farmer has lost over a hundred head of cattle to wolf depredation!  Many hunters say the deer numbers are down, and they all say the growing population of wolves is to blame.  Various hunters, who use dogs to hunt with, are becoming a little nervous letting their “prize” pooches run the fields and woods for fear of running into a wolf pack. Hunting dogs are no match for a wolf!

Well now it seems our own DNR has no authority to proclaim a hunting season on wolves even though the measure was passed by the Michigan Legislature just a couple months ago!  Officials with Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission have confirmed there won’t be a wolf hunt in Michigan this year. Commissioner John Matonich said Thursday at a meeting in Lansing that the commission lacks the authority to set another wolf hunt.

Presently there are two ballot initiatives sought to repeal legislation making the wolf a game species.  Also these initiatives are seeking to repeal the 7 member panels authority (appointed by the governor) to make such decisions!  On the other hand there is a third citizen initiated measure that would override these two referendums and back a wolf hunt that was approved by lawmakers in July.  Problem is this will not take effect until March well after the wolf hunt would have taken place.

Right now Matonich has asked the DNR to review its wolf management plan and update it’s statistics concerning wolf depredation on cattle and dogs. Sometimes you just wonder who’s running the show here in Michigan!!  I know several hunters and outdoorsmen in the Upper Peninsula and they are not happy with this sudden change of direction, or should I say confusing directions?

Mike

Largemouth In The Backyard!

September 6th, 2014

Milford Fishing! 011Milford Fishing! 023Milford Fishing! 032Milford Fishing! 028It has been years since I have been able to enjoy the type of fishing day I happened to enjoy this past Friday evening and Saturday morning.  In fact it was in Florida several years ago and several hundred dollars ago that I was able to land quite a few nice largemouths.

One of my daughters just moved and she has several hundred foot of frontage on a 30 acre pond.  My wife and I were going to help her unpack, but I figured I’d take a fishing pole along and give that pond a try.  I was able to break away around 6 o’clock and try to find out if this little pond held any fish?  A storm was brewing in the west and headed our way, so my time would be limited.  I was able to dig up only one worm, put him on a hook and attached a bobber 4 foot up the line.  It didn’t take long and the bobber went under and I had my first sunfish.  My grandson had left his pole by the beach which had a huge hook on it!  I slid the hook through the sunfish just below the backbone and in front of the dorsal fin.  I put a large bobber on and cast into the wind as far as i could!  It didn’t take long and a nice sized largemouth took the offering.  I put him in a bucket of water, used the same sunfish, and reeled in another nice bass.  I had a few pictures taken by my grandson just as the sky’s opened up and started dumping buckets of rain on us.  I quickly released the bass back in the pond and hi-tailed it for the house.  It was quite a windy, rainy, nasty night to say the least!

Next morning I bought a can of worms and another can of night crawlers.  Around 10 a.m. I was back at trying to catch some “bait fish” with the help of my grand-daughter.  One pole for sunfish and one pole for bass.  I caught five more bass in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, with the biggest one going around 6-1/2 pounds!  I never caught one that big in Florida!  I had brought a plastic tub with me and filled it with water to keep my “trophies” alive until I released them back to the clear water they called home.  It’s amazing how big of a sunfish that a largemouth will “take on !”

Can’t wait to get back at the pond and give it another go.  Next time I’ll take one of my good poles and not the one that the bale doesn’t work on.  I missed two chances to land big bass because of that darn pole, but that won’t happen again.  Just goes to show you that you don’t have to spend a fortune or go far out of your way to enjoy great fishing.  It really can be found in your own back yard!

Labor Day Tornado To Close For Comfort!

September 3rd, 2014

Labor Day Cabin 2014 053It is quite rare for tornado’s warnings to be part of the Northern Michigan experience, but during this past Labor Day vacation we narrowly escaped having one run over us!  On Saturday July 30th the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning around Luzerne, three miles from our cabin.  We have a weather radio and a funnel cloud had been confirmed in the area, and people were advised to take cover.  Where do you go in a cabin surrounded by pine trees?  I suggested the crawl space to which the three woman present said “no way!”  That left an awful crowded bathroom shower as the next alternative!  Thankfully that funnel cloud never touched down, but we did have a lot of wind and rain.

Two days later we were in Gaylord with our friends Pat and Ed Alger.  We ate at a nice restaurant downtown and were done around 2:15 p.m.  Gaylord was jammed packed with traffic so we snuck out the back way and took the scenic ride next to Otsego Lake.  Our plan was to drive back into Lewiston by “Old State Rd. which passed by Pat’s son’s cabin.  It had started raining while we were still eating our meal and it continued to worsen as we drove toward our destination.  Radio reports from Kalkaska said a tornado had touched down there and warned that the severe weather was heading in our direction.  We knew the storm was heading in a north easterly direction so we figured we would head in a southerly direction and out smart the storm.  Once we hit Old State Rd. the rain really started coming down “sideways!”  Ed had his wipers turned up as fast as they would go, but the road was almost obscured from sight.  We stopped just past Little Bass Lake and Blueberry lane and drove a mile back in the woods to check out Pat’s son’s place.  Once back on the road the winds picked up and the trees had a noticeable lean to them!

It wasn’t till after we arrived back at Ed and pat’s place that we learned a EF-1 tornado had touched down around Little Bass Lake and Blueberry Lane.  It had winds of 110 miles and hour and made a swath through the woods 7 miles long and 250 yards wide.  The tornado hit at 2:42.  None of us remembers the exact time we were driving that area, but we couldn’t have been but a few minutes from some not so welcomed excitement!

When Lorna and I got back to our place we had a few trees down with one of them near the cabin and blocking my driveway.  Had to fire up the chainsaw and stack some more wood for the campfire.  Glad no one was hurt and damage was minimal with mostly trees suffering the brunt of these unusual northern twisters.  One also touched down in Crawford County.

Mike

Pond Plus Water Equals Deer Or Maybe A Frog!

September 2nd, 2014

All the critters in the North woods need a sip of water on a regular basis.  I don’t have a pond or available watering hole close to my place, so I came up with the brilliant idea to make my own little “watering hole” by my food plot.  Everyone know that water attracts all kinds of wildlife, and I especially want to offer a cool, fresh, drink to the thirsty deer in the area.

I bought the biggest plastic pond they had at Lowe’s and hauled it to camp over the holidays.  It’s a good thing I have mostly sandy soil in my area cause digging a 6 foot by 5 foot hole two foot deep wore me out!  The real trick was getting several hundred gallons of water back to the pond!  I filled a 30 gallon galvanized garbage can (new) and tried to carefully haul it with my Polaris 4-wheeler.  It worked fine until I hit a bump and the cold well water splashed down my back.  Most of it made it back to the pond, and after 6 trips I was about 10 inches from the top.  It had been raining every day we were at camp and more was in the forecast, so I figured i would let Mother Nature do the rest!

I then mixed some rye and purple turnip seed and planted the area around the pond.  Some more hard work for this old geezer!  We were at the cabin 6 days (I put the pond in on day 1) and everyday I would check for signs that my brilliant idea was going to help me put meat in the freezer.  By day three I was really getting discouraged as not one single track of anything was seen in the sandy soil around the pond.  Then on the fourth day things changed!  There it was for all to see!  A great big, larger than life, “FROG” was doing the backstroke in my pond!  He looked so happy and content that I threw him a floating log to float around on.  Not exactly what I was hoping for!

By the time we were ready to come home there were no deer tracks, the rye and turnips weren’t showing any sprouts (I think they drowned) and my little frog buddy used the floating wood to escape.  Bummer!  Back to the planning room for me!

MikeLabor Day Cabin 2014 009Labor Day Cabin 2014 012Labor Day Cabin 2014 049

Golfing With The Champ!

August 26th, 2014

La-Z-Boy Open Champion Kyle 006La-Z-Boy Open Champion Kyle 011La-Z-Boy Open Champion Kyle 026Golf is big here in Michigan.  I have belonged to the Links of Lake Erie for 4 years now and was a member of Demme Acres for 4 years prior to that.  Up around camp we have Garland, Sidewinder, Cedar Valley, and Fairview.  Monroe has a ton more from nine to 36 holes of enjoyment for all skill levels.

Three years ago my 6 year old grandson Kyle took an interest in golfing, but like most 6 year old’s no one expected his interest to last!  His parents bought him a set of clubs suitable for a kid and he actually put enough time in it for me to take him out on a par three course.  He shot a 58 from the women’s tee’s beating the two elderly ladies playing in front of us.  They seemed quite impressed and so was I.

Well the next year he still wanted to hit that little white ball around and at the end of the year we played the same par three and he managed to shoot a 49!  Quite an improvement for the now 7 year old!

Upon turning 8 he was upgraded to a better and more suitable set of clubs, but didn’t get out to play hardly at all due to the fact that he’s the star player on his baseball team.  toward the end of the year his mother wanted him to compete in the La-Z-Boy Open golf outing at Green Meadows golf course.  She wanted Papa (his coach) to go along with him and see what a 8 year old could do in the 10 year old and younger group.  With only two rounds on the par three and never any playing time on Green Meadows I was reluctant to sign him up, but I did!  He would play two days at 9 holes a day.

First day I found out there were only 5 kids in his group, but one of them was on a golf league at the course that his grandparents owned.  Two other kids also played in a golf league.  Well I figured we were in for quite a golf lesson.  First day Kyle came in dead last with a round of 60!  We changed our game plan and I tweaked a few things on his swing and the 2nd. day started off with a bang!  Kyle played some great golf and took low score honors for the second nine holes which allowed him to take third place in the tournament.  He even beat the young man who’s grandparents own the golf course (at least on that 2nd. day.)

This brings us to 2014 as Kyle is now a nine year old.  I had him play Green Meadows 7 times before the tournament and his mother even took him out a few times.  I suggested he was ready for an upgrade to his clubs, so a nice set of youth Callaways was a birthday present for Kyle.  This year there were eight (8) kids in his group so they split them up by groups of four.  Kyle was in with a group which included a 10 year old that was a member of the Sylvania Country Club and played in a travel youth league.  The other group consisted of the twin brother of that kid plus another youth league player, and last years champ who’s grandparents own a golf course!   Talk about some stiff competition!

First day Kyle keeps up with Mr. Country Club and shoots a 48 on the front nine, while (Matt) shot a 47 to take the days honors for all eight players.  Last years champ shot a 49 so Kyle had him by one stroke which was pretty amazing if you ask me.  On the back nine two kids had dropped out so they played everyone together.  They had made me the official score keeper, but I had to make sure all the other parents were on the same page as I was.  This year you could not coach your kid, so they were on their own.  The Country Club twins fell apart and you could tell it was going to be a heads up duel between Kyle and last years champ!  What a great match these two kids put on and the very last hole would decide the winner.  The kids didn’t know the official score at any time!  Kyle hit one of his shorter drives and “the champ” drove one long.  Kyle bombed his second shot on the green about 30 feet from the hole.  “The Champ” put one within 10 foot of the cup and at the time I was the only one to know that they were tied for that round.  Kyle putted first and came up 10 foot short (his worst put of the day!)  The Champ missed his 10 footer, but had a tap in par.  Kyle had to sink the 10 footer for an outright win or 2 put for a tie.  The little guy carefully lined up his put (see picture) and dropped the ball in the hole to become the 10 and under La-Z-Boy Champ for 2014.  Wow what a feeling!  Way to go Kyle!  You must have an awesome coach!  Ha! Ha!

Mike

Michigan Car Deer Accidents!

August 24th, 2014

Tara's transfer pictures 005Within the last week I have seen two (2) dead fawns along side the road, and today I saw a young dead turkey that had been hit by motorist.  This is one of those times of the year to be aware of your surroundings as your driving in rural areas, and even urban areas.  The does are moving a little more in search for food and water, and of course the little ones follow.  Spring and Fall are the deadliest times of the year, but staying alert is required anytime you get behind the wheel.

It is estimated that there are 2,000,000 million deer roaming the state of Michigan which has over 60,000 car deer accidents a year.  Five of the highest deer accident counties are Kent, Oakland, Jackson, Calhoun, and Montcalm.  When driving and you see a “deer crossing” sign stay alert especially in those warning areas.  Deer usually cross the road in single file, so if you see one it’s a good bet others are behind!  Dawn and dusk are the most active times for deer movements, but they can dart across your path at any given hour.

If you see a deer in the road or by the shoulder honking your horn or flashing your headlights usually won’t deter them.  Don’t swerve, but brake firmly holding the steering wheel in a controlled stop!  If you hit the deer turn your flashers on and use caution when exiting your car.  If you can move your vehicle to the shoulder do so!  Call the police and (or) your insurance company.  If you have a camera or cell phone camera take a few pictures.  They may help for insurance purposes.

Mike

Huge Alabama Gator New State Record!

August 19th, 2014

Gator 003This 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!

Mike