Archive for May, 2007

Hogzilla

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

In 2004 a wild hog was killed in Georgia that reportedly was over 1000 pounds, and 12 foot long. Rumors were rampant concerning this monster pig, and the internet went crazy with various articles about the wild boar dubbed HOGZILLA. In the final analysis the hog was exhumed, weighed, and measured. Not quite the legond of the tabloids, but a “big porker’ just the same. 8oo pounds and 8-1/2 foot long is still a huge wild boar running loose in the south Georgia woods. It has been recently reported that Hollywood is even going to make a movie about Hogzilla.

And would’nt you know it before the first scene is “shot”, a boar even bigger than Hogzilla is “shot” in Montgomery Alabama by an 11 year old boy. Jamison Stone killed his 1,051 pound wild hog on May 3rd. using a .50 caliber revolver. Makes you kind of think twice about taking your family into unchartered territory down south. Pigs are “mean” by nature, and a small wild boar can do plenty of damage to man and beast with their razor sharp tusk. I would not want to have to stop a charging 1000 pound wild boar with anything less than a bazooka.

If you think there isn’t much chance of you or your family having a wild boar encounter here in Michigan-think again. Wild boar have been reported in 36 of Michigans counties, and last year a boar weighing over 300 pounds was killed in the lower Peninsula. This was an escaped free range pig, or ferrell hog, running wild. I even know of one seen in Monroe county, but thats another story.

Mike

Memorial Day 2007

Monday, May 28th, 2007

We as a nation can’t thank our veterans enough, yet often they seem to be lost in the shuffle of government bureaucracy. The sacrifices made, by our brave men and women of the armed forces, by far surpass the amount of gratitude we have shown them as a nation. When I think of the young (18-22) year olds that have given there all for this country it makes me very sad to think that they ,and their familes, are not given the honor due them. All who have answered the call to duty deserve the respect and support of those people (us) that they have protected and defended.
Oh for the day when the lion will lay down with the lamb, and the Prince of Peace will rule and reign in mens hearts.

My wife and I thank all you vetreans who have served this nation with honor and dignity in the past and present conflicts. Thank you Randy, Darryl, Louie, David, Tom, Larry, Bobbie, Jim, Patrick, Joe, John, Jimmy, Jamie, Norm, Mel, Doug, Bill, Haskell, Brad, Ted, Chuck, Jayme, Mike, Frank, Gary, Lenny, Bob, Richard (Dick,) Herb, Ed, Ken, Melvan, Rodney, and Ray. May Gods blessing be on you, and all the other men and women that have honored the flag of this country.

SP/5 Mike Ansel (Viet-Nam Era Vet) 16th. Engineer Batt. 1st. Armored Division

ATV Riding

Friday, May 25th, 2007

I own a Polaris 4-wheeler, and on occasion have riden on state and federal land. Most of my riding consist of private property where I have permission to ride. I recently read an article in the Woods and Water News Publication that was very informative about riding ATVs in Michigan. It seems I have been breaking the law, and have never been aware of the confusing and vague rules concerning ATVs.

First and formost is the fact that the law states that everyone must wear a helmet when riding an ATV in Michigan. It does not matter that you are riding on your own private property-not even in your back yard. You could get a ticket if you ride with a bare head!

Second there is a different set of rules concerning federal, state, and private land usage by 4-wheelers (ATVs.) One of those rules, that I would bet most are unaware of, is that you cannot ride an ATV on forest roads in the lower peninsula unless the roads are maked OPEN to ATVs. It is just the opposite in the U.P. There the roads you cannot venture on to will be marked CLOSED to ATVs.

A few more of the rules are that you can get a DUI on an ATV. Its a really dumb idea to ride one while drinking anyway! Also you have to be at least 16 years old to legally operate an ATV in the state. You can however operate one if you are between the ages of 12-16 (under adult supervision,) providing you have compleated an approved ATV safety course. The last rule I’ll share is the fact that you cannot go “off roading or mudding” anywhere in the state! You must stay on trails only, no exceptions-not even gas lines or power lines are open to your ATV.

If you want more information try to get you hands on Stephan Kings article in the May issue of Woods and Water News.

Mike

Mushrooms

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

The mushroom season has been in full swing for several weeks now, and it’s not called “mushroom hunting” for nothing. You really do have to hunt for these delicious little fungus. Last weekeng I looked hi and low for some of those white morels while zig-zagging back and forth through the woods. I checked fench rows, downed trees, moist sandy areas, and every rotted tree stump in my woods. I found narry a one!

Every mushroom hunter I’ve talked to reported finding quite a few of the treats. Whats up with me? I must be a “bad” mushroom hunter! I’ve been bummed out about it, as I was looking forward to frying up a batch of morels with maybe a little venison steak and onions.

While I was feeling sorry for my lack of mushroom finding skills I had a light bulb moment. A neighbor whose property adjoins mine made mention several weeks ago about how productive my fence rows were at producing large morels. When he asked me if I hunted for them I told him I would be over in a couple weeks to see what I could find. “Duh!” My slicker-than-me neighbor Knew I wasn’t going to be around for awhile, so guess where all the mushrooms went? That’s a pretty low varmit that would steal a mans morels. Why he ain’t any better than that “snake-in-the-grass” that would try to steal some “morals” himself! Fellow mushroom hunters take a lesson from me keep your mouth shut about certain spongy looking fungi, and the day you plan to harvest them. When it comes to morals (I mean morels) you don’t know who to trust.

Mike

The Jungle

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Just three weeks ago I could still see half-way through the 18 acre woods I hunt in Hillsdale. This past weekend I visited that woods and couldn’t see three foot into it. There is an old path, where I set up my turkey blind, that was completely over-grown. It is truly amazing what a little rain and sunshine will due to new plant growth. It looked more like a jungle than a woods. Of course that’s the way the “Master Designer”intended it!

All those critters (big and small) that call this piece of real estate home need the protection of that greenery. It conceals, nourishes, cools, and camouflages the inhabitants of the woods. It’s what the forest dwellers have waited all winter for.

In all this new growth I did notice something most people need to stay away from. Poison ivy is on the move! This plant is related to the sumacs and can climb better than most mountain climbers. Hunters do yourself a favor-stay away from vines with three leaves that are greenish in color with small berries and flowers. If you inadvertently bruise or touch these plants, chances are you will end up with a rash, on some part of your body. If you are highly sensitive toward poison ivy it’s probably best if you don’t venture to far from your known surroundings. Better safe than sorry!

Mike

Watch Your Step

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

If you hunt private property, and in particular if you lease from a farmer this is the time of year to “watch your step.”

The soybeans and corn are planted so be careful not to damage the crop, or your relationship with your host. Those crops are his livelihood and most farmers can be quite fussy when it comes to messing with their income! If you want to continue to hunt on land that belongs to someone else “respect” is the name of the game. Don’t harm his fences, disturb his livestock, or make his neighbors mad at you. If you do your asking for a one way ticket bact to state land. When at all possible give him a hand around the place, fix a broken gate, shovel some manure, whatever it takes to be an asset to him and his family. A little courtesy will go along way in keeping the hunter- farmer relationship on a good note.

Mike

Since We’re on the Subject

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

I just can’t leave this subject about backpacking without recounting this humorous story from one of my Colorado adventures.

Gary Wilson is a art professor at Monroe County Community College, a great fisherman, and a good friend. Colorado was his “stomping grounds,” so he was the man with the expertise on backpacking the Colorado high country. When it comes to the culinary art of outdoor cooking; Gary is pure genius. He loves to cook almost as much as he loves to fish! Anyway, what this has to do with the story is that Gary took a huge iron skillet along with him, strapped to his overfilled backpack.

When the 5 of us arrived at our “jumping off” point in the Colorado Rocky National Park, Gary divided up the various gear we would be packing in. Big Bob (Gary’s NFL size brother-in-law) strapped on a pack the size of Detroit and hit the trail. Dick Robinson was next in line to go, followed by Gary, Jim Smith, and Myself. Gary’s pack looked like it weighed over 100 pounds with that huge iron skillet and all those other cooking essentials jammed into every conceivable nook and cranny of his pack. Since Jimmy and I were the rookies on this trip we were given a little less to carry, and brought up the rear on our marked trail.

We had about a 3-4 mile hike, and soon were spread out along the trail. It did’nt take long to loose contact with the person in front of you, so Jimmy and I stayed together. Well, there was a pretty good “gap” between the person in front of Gary, and the people behind Gary. Of course Gary had no way of knowing that we were taking our dear sweet time bringing up the rear.

At one point along the trail Gary stopped to adjust his pack, as the frying pan was slipping out of position. Also his straps between his legs were way too tight, so he was going to adjust them also. He sat on a huge boulder not too far from the edge of a 150 foot drop off (cliff.) As he reached for his shoulder straps to remove his pack, all the weight shifted and pulled him off the rock onto the ground. If you can imagine this picture I’ll try to draw it for you. Gary is laying on his back tettering on top of a 100 pound pack inches from the edge of a cliff. The tight straps have his legs and arms pulled up in a “turtle on his back” position! He can’t move for fear of rolling off the cliff, and the circulation to his arms and legs is being cut off. So Gary’s idea is to just sit there and wait for us to come along and rescue him from this embarrassing position. “NOT” As fate would have it here comes two young college age hikers from the other direction. Gary can do nothing as he lays there like a wounded “Ninja Turtle,” as he manages a weak “Hi how you doing?” The amused couple ask Gary if he needs any help, and Gary sheepishly tells them “Yes, I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” Well it takes both of the young rescuers to get this 250 pound turtle back on his feet.

The rest of us probably never would have found out about this story except for the fact that Jim and I passed two hikers laughing their heads off as they hiked by us. Gary was just around the bend, still quite wore out from his”turtle next to the cliff act.” He had to come clean under the circumstances, and to this day I have to chuckle when I picture this whole scenario in my mind. Thanks Gary “your the turtle” or I mean “your the man.”
Mike

Backpacks

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

This is the time of year that many will be enjoying the great outdoors by way of the back country. Usually this means the use of a backpack to get your gear from point “A” to point “B.” If you are a first timer with the backpack, or a novice, the importance of a good quality, and properly fitting backpack is very important. You don’t want to arrive at your destination with blisters, rubbed skin, and sore muscles in the wrong places. An ill fitting backpack can make for a lousy experience.

I’ve hiked into the Colorado “Rockies” a couple times to do some trout fishing, so I know the virtues of a well fitting pack. When I first found out I was going on my little excursion I didn’t want to lay out the “big” bucks for a good backpack. I found a friend who said I could borrow his (bad idea.) One of the guys, going with me, suggested I fill the pack with supplies, and hike around my area, while wearing the backpack. Good idea! This let me get a “feel” for the way things were going to be at 10,000 foot in the Rockies. Needless to say the borrowed pack dug in on my hips, rubbed my sholders raw, and about broke my back. I then went to a store that specialized in outdoor hiking gear, and was properly fitted for the “right” pack. It made all the differance in the world!

So before you venture off the beaten path this vacation season, take some advice from one who knows a little about proper fitting packs. Take the time to seek out a store that knows about the needs of backpackers. Once you find a pack that you think will work-hike with it around your neighborhood before your trip. That way you’ll work out any problems before the trip-not during.

Mike

Garage Sales = Discounted Hunting “Stuff”

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I just happened to be in a neighborhood today that was having a huge garage sale. It’s a good thing I didn’t have $1000 dollars with me, cause I probably would of spent it all. Man, you talk about bargins. Please, please don’t tell my wife, but I bought a brand new (still in the box) knife, gut hook, saw combination for $25.00. It had a price tag on it of $49.95! I also bought a new camo hat for a buck, but the pick of the litter was a brand new recurve and five ceder arrows. This whole garage sale expedition was a covert opperation, so I will not devulge what I paid for the bow due to health issues. I will say it was a good deal and I am quite pleased with my purchases. Like I said I could of bought more great bargins if my empty wallet would of permitted it, but hey now you have a shot at some real bargins. If you are reading this blog before Sat. the 12th. of May go to North Shores in LaSalle for some garage sale fun, and maybe you’ll find some “discounted hunting stuff.”

Mike

Where’s Your Deer Head Hanging?

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Most hunters, in there quest for the “big one”, never stop to think what they will do with “him” once he’s on the game pole. Say you, or one of your friends, shoot a really nice buck. It’s almost a given that your friendly neighborhood taxidermist will get a visit. The blessed hunter must decide if it’s worth $350.00 dollars to put old “mossy horns” on the wall. What alot of guys don’t think about is- will momma let me hang that critter in “her” house? I’ve seen it happen time and time again where that beautiful specimen (or work of art) ends up in the garage or shed. Guys if you don’t have a “trophy room/family room” to call your own, don’t even think about laying out those hard earned dollars for your once in a lifetime trophy! I’m here to tell ya most women are not going to allow you to bring that “thing” into her domain.

To me what’s even more of a shame is when you see one of these hard won bucks in a garage sale. It’s only a matter of time before your “dream buck” goes from the garage wall to the garage sale. In order to get rid of it now you have to almost give it away, and unless the poor sap buying it has his own sanctuary he’ll soon have it in his own garage sale!

Believe it or not there is a selective market for discarded animal mounts. Some guys (like my brother Randy) have a whole barn to call there own. He has a gorgeous “macho type” room covering the whole upstairs of a very large barn type garage/storage area. He is the envy of his 5 brothers. Anyway Randy will buy deer heads or horns and transform them into various works of art suitable for a cabin or outdoorsmens haven. Other guys like to get ahold of the deer horns for knife making purposes. Antlers make beautiful knife handles. Then there is the taxidermist who will buy the biggest and the best of these garage sale bargins. He’ll take them to his stuido and recycle them. They’ll look like brand new when he gets done with them, and are now ready to be “resold.” Either a guy who has never, and will never shoot a nice buck of his own, or some type of outdoor paraphernalia collector will pay “big bucks” (pun intended) for these giants. Thus the whole cycle is repeated and the economy gets a boast.

So thats one way to look at it when you finally get that big buck on the ground. Go ahead and lay out the initial wad of cash. Enjoy looking at your deer head on the garage wall for a couple years. Then at your wives request put it in a garage sale and help get this country’s economy going again. It will make you feel good (almost!)

Mike