Archive for March, 2007

Commemorative Bucks of Michigan Record Book

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

I would be willing to bet that most people know  little about the big game record keeping organization we have in Michigan. Commemorative Bucks of Michigan does a great job of documenting each classification of big game animals taken here in our state.  Deer, black bear, and elk are what you would normally think of, when considering big game animals, but lets not forget meleagris gallopavo silvestris, the Eastern wild turkey.  Yep, that’s right, most states consider the turkey as a worthy entry into the ranks of big game animals.

When a hunter harvests any of the above named animals that meet the requirements for entry into the “book”, it is usually a once in a lifetime happening.  Of course a hunter’s skill level plays a big roll in consistantly taking better than average game, but fate can also play a part in ones success.

The “cream of the crop” of these “big boys” of course, would be the biggest of the big-the state record.  Would you believe that Monroe County has one individual at the top of the heap in the record book?  Would you also believe it’s not a grizzled, snuff-chewing, hermit who moved here from old Kentucky?  Why its not even a man, but a lovely young lady by the name of Theresa Pietrowski.  Not only did she take the largest Michigan turkey on record, but she did it right hear in Monroe County!

I’ve had the privilege of talking to Phil and Theresa on several occasions and even was able to see Theresa’s full mount trophy at their home in Petersburg.  Sorry guys but this women is the real deal.  Phil has taught her well, and between the two of them Mr. Tom Turkey doesn’t have a chance.  Theresa is so well rounded as an outdoors person she landed a job at Cabelas.  If you ever get a chance to meet her, by all means have her tell you her turkey story.  The Pietrowskis due the hunting community proud, and it’s an honor to have the Michigan State Champ right here from Monroe.  Have a good safe hunt this year, and just maybe one of you can top that old “long beard” of Theresa’s.

Mike

Kids and Panfish

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I remember my own six kids growing up and the joy on their faces when they caught their first fish.  We were fortunate enough to be able to have a camera on hand most of the time, and even caught the big moment on movie film once or twice.  Kids and sunfish just seem to go together I think.

Now my youngest is twenty-four, so its been a few years since those hook and bobber days.  But it just so happens I have 10 wonderful grandkids, and four of them are between 2-3 years old.  Grandpa has been making some plans (at least in his mind) concerning those “youngins”, and some summer fishing trips.

I just happened to take my rod and reel over to Hillsdale with me today, and after I did some turkey scouting, tried our little pond out.  I’ll be darned if I didn’t catch some nice sunfish with a can of wax worms I happened to have. I put them back and told them to stay hungry for my grandkids sake.  I’ve picked out a good camping spot and can’t wait till summer is in full bloom.

To a child it doesn’t matter so much where the event (fishing) takes place, but the fact that this special moment is shared with someone who loves them.  Hope your all able to create wonderful memories with your kids and grandkids this summer.  Lord willing thats my plan!

Mike

Freezer Bounty

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Today was a good day for me to get out in the garage and try to clean up the ravages of winter.  While I was out there I just happened to check my freezer.  I was fortunate enough to put two fat deer in it (the freezer,) but there wasn’t much left.  We sure enjoyed those roast, tenderloins, and steaks over the winter.  As I was checking out my stockpile of natures bounty, I noticed some packages dated 2006.  Thats not good!  Any package over a year old probably needs to be discarded.  Actually your know doubt better off if you don’t keep things more than six months.

Because I bear hunt, and have several brothers that also bear hunt, I just put my questionable freezer packages in my bear bait pile.  That way it won’t go to waste. 

Anyway I just want to encourage you to check out your freezer “stash”, and see how fresh everything is.  If some of your packages are soon to be expired, plan a cookout or donate to a wild game dinner.  If you possess some really outdated stuff find a bear hunter – he’ll gladly take it off your hands.

It always helps to double wrap your freezer items, and be sure you date them all.  I always mark the different cuts of meat and keep my fish seperate from the other packages. 

All this talk about food has made me hungry.  I think I may just have an idea about how to get rid of a couple of those venison steaks.

Mike

Take a Kid Hunting

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Some of my fondest memories from my youth are those days spent afield with my dad.  Not just fond memories, but great memories!  Those days are long gone, but I can sort of relive the past with my grandkids.

For the past several years I’ve been fortunate enough to take my grandson Quinn turkey hunting with me.  We’ve had a blast together, along with his dad Tony. Quinn has been able to experience first hand what it takes to fool Mr. Tom Turkey.  Of course he has seen the other side of the coin also, as Mr. Turkey has pulled the “feathers” over our eyes on a regular basis.  One of my neatest memories is from a couple years ago when I called in a huge “long beard” for Tony.  We had a blind amongst the pine tree branches, and Quinn was able to take in the whole scenario from start to finish.  What a finish it was!  I won’t go into detail here, but if you ever see me on the street, and want to know, I promise you’ll get a laugh out of it.

The new ground blinds (that I discussed in an eariler article) are just the ticket for a father-son grandpa-grandson outing.  Not only are you well concealed from your quarry you can make movement that normally wouldn’t be tolerated in other blind set-ups.  As you all probably know kids tend to be a little antsy at times.

My oldest grandson is 12 years old and can legally turkey hunt this year.  We are checking into getting him one of the left over licenses for the general hunt.  I hope we are not too late to secure one.  I wouldn’t trade the times I get to spend with my grandkids for anything.  Take it from me; if you take your kid hunting you won’t have to hunt for your kid.

Mike

I’m scouting in the rain

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

When your time is limited “a mans got to do what a mans got to do.”

I can’t believe I headed over to Hillsdale early this morning to do some turkey scouting. You would think anyone in their right mind would of turned around between Blissfield and Adrain after driving through wind, rain, and fire (lightning.) I even had nickle size hail bouncing all over my Ford ranger.

Well needless to say I pointed the nose of my truck westward- ho, and two hours later pulled into my destination. It never did stop raining, just slowed down a wee bit. Of coarse I forgot my rain gear, so during one of the semi-downpours I snuck into the hedgerow and let out with a couple gobbles. It didn’t really surprise me that nothing responded, so I tried some soft “clucks.” Again I heard “narry” a sound and thought what self respecting turkey would be out in this (fowl) weather anyway? Turkeys sometimes get a bum rap about being stupid birds. Well quite frankly I was feeling like the dummy today. Then just as I made my decision to make a dash toward the 4-wheeler I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. There sneaking in behind me was a group of 8-10 Toms. I put my binoculars on them, and sure enough, there were 2 long beards and the rest were jakes. You could make a case for me being as dumb as those birds, or you could assume they were as dumb as me. Anyway they must of caught some movement they didn’t like, as they changed direction in a hurry.

Believe me I was pleased about seeing any turkeys on such a rotten day. Makes you think about being opportunistic when your time is limited. Well I slid and sloshed my way back to the truck, turned the defroster up to high, and headed back to Monroe. When I pulled into my driveway my cloths were almost dry.

Now get out there and enjoy Michigans great outdoors. You won’t regret it.

Mike

What a Bird

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

No I’m not talking about the turkey for once. I’m talking about “The Bird!” You know the one I’m talking about.  The one with the majestic white head, that was a rare sight for us here in Monroe to see. Well I’ve just seen my second eagle in less than a week. When you consider the plight of our national symbol 30 years ago the comeback they have made is astounding. I think there are close to 16 nesting pairs in Monroe county to date. I can see why are forfathers choose the eagle as a symbol of freedom. What a thrill it is to be able to observe this once endangered bird in our own backyard.

Mike

Get Outside

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Monday I took a drive over to my hunting spot in Hillsdale, and it was really great to get outdoors again. The purpose was to do a little scouting for turkey “sign.” I also needed to take down a tree stand we planned on moving, and see if the deer had been using the area over the winter.

Just to breath in the country fresh air was reward enough after a long winter of basic inactivity. As I walked the property looking for turkey/deer tracks I also had my eye’s peeled for “sheds.” This is the time of year to find the shed antlers from that big buck you could never quite seem to get a shot at.

Well I did find some pretty good turkey sign, and there were deer tracks all over the place. I did not find any shed antlers, but still have a few places to check out. The old muscles and joints rebelled the next day against my little jaunt around the woods and fields, but it truly felt good to work out the winter stiffness.

Hopefully the weather is about to break this week, so get out there and have some fun. The sights, sounds, and smells are yours for the taking. Just don’t get greedy; leave some for the next guy. I’m going to put those ancient muscles to the test again this week, why don’t you do the same?

Mike

Our servicemen and women

Friday, March 16th, 2007

I’ve been thinking,of late, about the sacrifice made by our servicemen and women, and how there lives often are turned upside down, never to be “normal again.” The little things that most of us take for granted can be insurmountable mountains, as we’ve seen with the latest Walter Reed hospital revelation. I’m sure our prayers and thoughts are well received, but beyound that what can I (you) do “hands on”?

I have an idea, but it may take help from many of you who are reading this. I served during the viet-nam conflict (along with two of my brothers,) and personally would of appreciated any help, had I needed it. As you already know I love to hunt and fish. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about the subject, so maybe I could be of assistance to a disabled Iraq/Afganistan vet. I lease some property in Hillsdale for deer hunting, and just maybe I could assist one (or more) of our brave service members on a hunt. I do not know of anyone in this area who could use a helping hand come deer season, so that’s one area you can help me with.

I know there are alot of details that would need to be checked out, but first I would appreciate hearing from you (the reader.) Give me some feed back. Make a comment on my blog or e-mail me at mikewansel@yahoo.com with your suggestions/ideas.

Thanks Mike

Turkey’s are more than a tasty bird

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Granted wild turkey meat is some of the best wild game fare that you will ever indulge in. While I usually fix it the old fashioned way, in a roasting pan, my friend Ed Ponzy cooks his in a turkey fryer. After sampling some of his I may just abandon the roasting pan. The skin was nice and crisp while the meat was as moist as I’ve ever tasted.

Besides fine dinning there are other parts of the turkey that are very useful. The Indians used to make turkey calls from the leg bone of the bird, and my brother Darryl is an expert in reproducing that call. I am fortunate to have one. It is one of my favorite calls to use while hunting. It makes a perfect “clucking” sound, and adds an extra thrill to the hunt.

The wings are another part of the bird that are highly prized, especially by bow hunters. The wing feathers have been used for centuries as fletching on arrows. My mothers side of the family is from Canada. Her grandmother was a Cree Indian, so maybe thats where my interest in Native American reproductions comes from. One of the things I make are arrows (the old fashioned way) and I use turkey feathers for my fletching. I also use the feathers from several parts of the bird for ornamentation on the spears, walking sticks, tomahawks, ect that I make.

Once the feet are dried they can be used for bow racks or cloths and hat hangers. When using the feet “creativity” is the word. I also use them in my reproduction of Indian artifacts.

The beards and the tail feathers make a nice trophy display and can be used with the feet if you so desire. Turkey spurs can also be used on a nacklace along with various colorful feathers.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or comments feel free to “sound off.” Catch ya later.

Mike

Turkeys continued

Monday, March 12th, 2007

In my first article I shared some of my thoughts about the upcoming turkey season.  I mentioned several areas of expertise one needs to possess in order to consistantly outsmart Mr. Tom Turkey.  Of those mentioned concealment is of utmost importance.

Over the years I’ve used several different types of ground blinds.  My favorite set-up would be to find some good pine trees with low hanging branches .  Its easy to blend into the surroundings as you hide in the shadows of the pine tree.  The problems with blinds of this sort (permanent) is the fact that your target must pass within your effective shooting range.  I’ve had situations where a Tom would hang-up and not commit himself within that range.  Although I have taken two birds with my bow I usually use my trusty Remington 870’s.  Depending on the situation I have one that shoots the standard 2-3/4″ shells, and one that will take the 3-1/2″ “bazooka” round.  Any movement while your calling or getting ready to shoot can alert the bird to danger and your “busted.”

Thats why I rarely use that type of set up anymore.  I now use one of the various portable pop-up blinds now on the market.  There are several to choose from.  They can run anywhere from $40.00 to $400.00 depending on your needs and your wallet.  I use a “doghouse” ($79.00) that I bought at Cabela’s, and it has served me well.  If you don’t want to drive that far Cook’s also has a good selection. These blinds have several small shooting windows to use, while it conceals the hunter and his movements inside the blind. I can use my calls, raise my gun, or swat a mosquito without having to worry about being seen.  Of coarse the fact that it’s portable can mean the difference between being in the right spot at the right time or not.  Hey if you get a chance give one a try I think you’ll agree its a good tool to add to your turkey arsenal.