Archive for July, 2007

Pure Serenity

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

There have been several times in my life that I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this natural world around me. My week on the Quebec tundra was one of those times and places that will forever be stored in my mind’s “special memories movie theater section.”

One night in particular drew me so close to the heavens that I thought God would soon send a chariot of fire to transport me to heaven. I can’t really explain it with words. To get the full impact you would of had to of been there. I’ll try my best to paint you a word picture, but probably will not do the experience justice.

Late one evening around midnight I was feeling very melancholy, thinking about my dad. Our tent was located on a finger of rocks and trees jutting out into this pristine unnamed lake. I quietly walked from the tent trying not to wake the others. To my left was a small inlet (cove) with several huge boulders strewn about the shoreline. I sat on one of those big rocks, as the ever so slight breeze transported the sweet unspoiled smell of my surroundings into my flared nostrils. You could almost taste the evening! There was no need for a flashlight as the Aurora-Borealis was putting on a show never before seen by mankind. This was for me, created for my pleasure. Blues, greens, yellows, pinks, white and colors I had never before experienced danced above my head. Moving , changing shape, pulsating with a life of its own, as it reflected the ice fields from earth.

Wow! Could it get any better than this? I was at the brink of tears as I contemplated the 8th. Psalms: “Oh Lord our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth, You have set your glory above the heavens!” vs.3 ” When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you care for him?” Chills ran up and down my spin, as a pack of wolves started a serenade on the distant hills. Back and forth the ancient “howling” ritual reverberated over the landscape of the wolves “home turf.” What an experience! I couldn’t have choreographed it any better than this truly magnificent display of Gods creative touch. I could sense my dads presence, as I embraced the moment, as one would a precious gift.

Some go to museums, and concerts halls, and Broadway in search of that special creative touch that stirs the soul. Thats ok! I once traveled to Toronto Canada to see the “Phantom of the Opera,” and admit my spirit was moved by the performance. But I have yet to see a man-made “anything” that can compare to the marvelous natural beauty of Gods handiwork. And to think its free for our viewing enjoyment! What a deal!

Mike

Grace for the Journey a Quebec Connection

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It has been my honor to hunt many different places in my sojourn here, but my Quebec Caribou hunt holds some special memories indeed. August is the “start up” month for a hunt of this nature. Usually by mid-month the various Caribou outfitters are going full tilt with their guiding business. Our outfitter was Delay River out of Shefferville Quebec via Montreal. Upon arriving at Shefferville all the various components (license, gear, aircraft, camp helper, ect.) of the hunt are taken care of. We would be the first hunters to use this particular camp, which was “Delays” northernmost outpost. Andy Cox our 19 year old camp jack-of-all-trades would prove to be a most capable outdoorsman despite his youthful age.

Our camp was newly constructed canvas over 2×4 framing, with a dock for our one boat, flown in earlier. The bunk beds, outhouse, and meat tent had not been completed, so Andy had his work cut out for him right off the bat. We had seven hunters in our group and we were all itching to explore this beautiful pristine landscape. No doubt the inhabitants of this surreal setting had never laid eyes on a man before!

Let me say here that this hunt was a rousing success, and each one of us harvested a quality bull caribou with archery equipment. In fact four of us took our two bull limit,with several Pope and Young animals in the group. Those individual stories, the bear sightings, the huge “brookies” and lake trout, are not the focus of this article. Andy Cox and the miracle on “no-name” lake is!

John West, Steve Sova, Pastor Bob Baltrip, Bill Bondy, Marvin Bays, Jack Peterson, and Myself made up our camp of hunters. The mornings would begin with Andy dropping off guys to the various spots they had chosen around the lake. Guys hunting the north side of the lake, of course, would walk to their destinations. At noon Andy would motor out to pick up hunters for lunch or to check on the mornings success. This particular lake was 10 miles long and about one and a half miles wide, so the boat wasone of ourmost valuable possessions. For the most part the southern shore line was marshy with pockets of tundra and woods-not an easy hike, but many nice bulls had been spotted in this area.

Around noon of the third day Bob and I were already backat camp when we heard the boat coming into the dock. It was Andy, Steve, and Bill. Jack still needed to be picked up and John would come trudging in a few minutes later. Andy had to use the outhouse, and the rest of us were laying down or fixing something to eat. I just happened to exit our cook tent when I saw the boat drifting away from the dock. Some one had committed a cardinal sin and forgot to tie the boat off! I yelled to Andy who responded “do you know how to swim?” I said I did, but then had second thoughts, and continued “but not that well.” Bob and I grabbed our fishing poles and were trying to snag the boat with our heavy lake trout lures. It was to far out of range as our best cast were landing a few feet short. In the mean time Andy had taken his shoes off and gingerly entered the frigid deep waters. He left his sweat suit on as he started his rescue attempt. About 80 yards from shore Andy turns around and looks at us as if to say goodbye! Only his head is above water, he is not moving, but the boat is! Bob and I immediately start praying-out loud! As we pray Andy turns and make one last valiant effort to reach the boat. He’s only about 20 feet away when he splashes to an arm weary halt, and we realize Andy doesn’t possess the energy to go forward, or come back. The bone chilling water has “zapped” his strength. At that precise time during the height of our intersession the wind picked up and started moving the boat faster away from Andy. This did not look good, but God knew what He was doing! The wind picking up, moving the boat faster, was not a bad thing, as this action made the 30 foot long length of rope come to the surface of the water, and surf right past Andy’s outstretched hand. As we yelled for Andy to grab the rope he frantically took hold and started pulling himself to the boat. Now the problem was getting his “naked ” cold blue body into the boat. What we didn’t know was when Andy stopped the first time his sweats had gone down around his ankles tying his feet up. He wasted precious energy trying to get them off without putting his head under the water. Now his attempts to pull himself into the boat seemed futile. He was drifting out of ear-shot and growing weaker by the moment. We prayed “God he despartly needs your help to get in that boat please give Andy a boast!” On what was probably Andy’s last attempt (7th.) he found a foothold on the motor and pulled himself into the boat to a cheering section of thankful hunters. It took Andy several attempts to get the motor going, and we had a pile ofwool blankets waiting for him at the dock. A roaring fire was soon going as we massaged Andy’s limbs back to their normal color. Gods mercy and grace were certainly upon us, and we thanked Him for hearing our cries for help. Andy heard the plan of salvation that day, and asked Jesus into his heart. I’ve only heard from him one time since that trip, but he was doing well guiding hunters in British Columbia or “Gods Country” as he called it. Of course I have learned that “Gods Country (Kingdom)” is not in some distant far away place, but right here- right now. He is “a very present help in time of need.”

Mike

King Salmon Summer Delight

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yesterday my daughter Tara had my wife and me over for dinner. Glen her husband caught a king salmon a couple days ago, and she fixed it for us . I really like fish but I’m pretty fussy about the way it taste. Without question this was the best salmon I have ever eaten. She fixed it two ways. The first recipe was a mesquite basting that I could not stay away from. The second was a Mediterranean dish with tomatoes, olives, capers, and parsley simmered in olive oil and baked to perfection. I had volunteered to smoke some of the fillets, but after tasting these two dishes I didn’t want to chance any to the “smoker.” I know Glen was thinking there would be some leftovers “NOT!” Fish is good for you is what I kept telling my health conscious wife, as I returned time and time again for more.

The accompanying picture is of Gary Wilson, Myself, Tom Boudrie, Ken Meloche, and my brother Randy. We caught these 10 salmon several years ago over by South Haven. We had a blast, but I must admit I didn’t have any great recipe for cooking them. I used to smoke just about everything I caught, but now I know better.

Mike

Tough Choices

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Today has been sort of an agonizing one for me. With hunting season just around the corner my mind wanders back to last year. You see I’m retired from Ford Motor Company, but barely squeak by on my retirement. To supplement my income I went to work for my son-in-law selling flooring. Last year I had a nice parcel of hunting property leased in Hillsdale. I barely got to hunt it as I was so busy at the store.

The years are winding down and in my heart of hearts I want more time in the woods and fields-not less! I hate to mess up my daughter and son-in-law by leaving the business, so I’m torn at which way to go. Financially it is going to be iffy, but I think I can do it. I told my son-in-law tonite, after work, that come the 1st. of September he should have a replacement for me. He laughed and said “yeh right”, but I think he knew I was serious. This is a tough choice, but hopefully one I won’t regret. If anyone has any feedback I’d appreciate it. God bless this wonderful country.
Mike

My Dad I’ll Never Forget

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my dad and how much I miss him. He was the greatest dad a boy could have, and became my good friend as I got older. As hunting season approaches in a few months my memories, of course, are stirred to the fullest. With that in mind I would like to recite a poem I did several years ago in honor of my dad.

TODAYS ONE OF THOSE DAYS, DAD THAT I’M THINKING OF YOU AND ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THAT WE USED TO DO THE TIMES AND THE PLACES AND THE EXCITEMENT WE HAD OF THE FEELING AND JOY SHARED BY A SON AND HIS DAD.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE DEER HUNT OF SIXTY THREE? THERE WERE ONLY THE TWO OF US, JUST YOU AND ME. THE AIR WAS CRISP, THE SNOW NEW ON THE GROUND WHEN YOU DROPPED THAT OLE SIX POINT WITH ONLY ONE ROUND.

THE EXCITEMENT WE SHARED, AS YOU DRESSED OUT YOUR BUCK THE FIRST ONE IN TWENTY YEARS OF HUNTERS BAD LUCK. THEN CAME THE “MONSTER” WE’D ALL LIKE TO BEAT TO TOP YOUR ELEVEN POINT WOULD BE QUITE A FEAT.

THE SIX POINT WE DROVE YOU WAS THE SHOT OF THEM ALL NOW HE’S HUNG WITH THE OTHERS UP ON YOUR WALL. ” OLD NO-SHOOTIN” MIKE IS WHAT YOU USED TO SAY AFTER EACH BUCK I MISSED AND LET GET AWAY.

THE BEAR HUNT OF SEVENTY-SIX WAS MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN MOST AS YOU, RANDY, AND ME ALL BAGGED TROPHIES TO BOAST. AS I SAT IN MY STAND, AND HEARD THE BLAST OF A GUN THE ANTICIPATION WELLED UP, HOPING YOU WERE THE ONE.

THEN CAME THE “BRONCO” WITH A BEAR ON THE HOOD AND THE SMILE ON YOUR FACE SAID YOUR SHOT HAD BEEN GOOD. THEN TWO DAYS LATER WITH DEAN AT MY SIDE I SHOT ME A TROPHY, BUT HE RAN OFF TO HIDE.

WE FOUND THAT OLE BRUIN WHERE GARY SAID HE WOULD BE DOWN BY THE CREEK PILED UP BY A TREE. I REMEMBER HOW HAPPY OUR CREW WAS THAT NIGHT AND HOW PROUD YOU WERE THAT I”D DONE IT RIGHT.

THE LAST YEAR OF BOW SEASON STANDS OUT IN MY MIND WITH YOU, LORNA, AND ME MISSING AGAIN FROM OUR BLIND. AS I WALKED OUT TO CHECK FOR THE ARROWS WE THREW THAT FENCE SEEMED TO GRAB HOLD OF LORNA AND YOU.

AS YOU OFFERED YOUR HAND TO HELP HER ACROSS YOUR FACES WOUND UP PRESSED INTO THE MOSS. I STILL HAVE TO CHUCKLE WHEN I SEE IT IN MY MIND THESE AND MANY OTHER MEMORIES YOU HAVE LEFT BEHIND.

LIKE THE “TRIPLE” ON THOSE RINGNECKS, MANY YEARS AGO OR THE TRUDGING AFTER COTTONTAILS THROUGH THE WINTER SNOW. THE FISHING TRIPS TO BLANEY PARK RANK HIGH UPON MY LIST AS TIMES WE SHARED WITH YOU AS SONS, TIMES I SADLY MISS.

I CAN HEAR YOUR HEARTFELT LAUGHTER AS IT ECHOES THROUGH MY MIND AND SEE THAT TWINKLE IN YOUR EYES WHEN YOU “SKUNKED” ME ONE MORE TIME. CARDS, OR POOL, OR PING-PONG, NO MATTER WHAT THE SPORT YOU GAVE YOUR BEST IN ALL YOU DID, AND RARELY CAME UP SHORT.

YOU WERE ALWAYS AT YOUR BEST WHEN YOU HAD YOUR SONS AROUND AND I’ D LIKE TO THINK OF EACH OF US AS DIAMONDS IN YOUR CROWN. I NEVER FULLY REALIZED HOW MUCH YOU MEANT TO ME AND HOPE I’VE GROWN INTO A SON IN WHICH YOUR TRULY PLEASED.

I GUESS I’M REALLY TRYING TO SAY I MISS YOU FATHER DEAR AND THAT I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT THE YEAR. NO ONE REALLY KNOWS MY HEART EXCEPT GOD AND GOD ALONE SO UNTIL THEN I’LL WAIT FOR YOU TILL “THE FATHER” CALLS ME HOME.

MIKE

A True Booner

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Just yesterday I wrote about the “savanna’s” that the Chicago suburbs have set aside for the local animal population. They have incorporated them right into the fabric of concrete, neon lights, and steel.

Well last night we went out to eat at “Bill’s Pub North” which is a great log cabin restaurant with many nice looking animal mounts inside. After celebrating my grandson Logan’s third birthday, my son-in-law Mark decided to take a different route home. All of a sudden my wife starts yelling “look at the deer, look at the deer!” I could not believe my eyes! A buck approaching the 180 class was standing just off the road on the edge of one of these savannas. Now I know your saying “yeh right,” but I know how to score a rack and have a 160 class hanging in my basement, and this buck made mine look puny. When my wife gets excited about a deer you know it has to be big. I only wish I would of had my camera with me. This experience made me think about all the old great bucks that hunters never get to see and will no doubt die of old age, or get hit by a car.

Mike

Pockets of Beauty

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

My wife and I have been in the northern Chicago suburbs of Grey’s Lake for the past several days. The expanse of concrete, hi-rises, shopping malls, and infrastructure would seem to leave no room for the original inhabitants of this area. I certainly didn’t expect to see any wildlife; unless it was in a cage.

We have had the opportunity to drive around the area to some extent, and we are pleasantly surprised. Several large tracts of land have been set aside as nature parks within the confines of this vast concrete jungle. As far as the animals are concerned I realise its not the optimum, but at least planning commissions and zoning boards are starting to think somewhat of the “critters” their bulldozers evict.

Several of these set-aside areas include wetlands, ponds, native grasses, and old forest growth. They seem to be teaming with wildlife and are truly “Pockets of Beauty” in this landscape of continuous upheaval. We have enjoyed seeing the egrets, geese, ducks, song birds, deer, turtles, rabbits, and squirrels who inhabit this oasis. Thank you Chicago Illinois for this most pleasant surprise.

Mike

Fearless in Marquette and Elsewhere

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I will never forget an incident that happened at bear camp several years ago. It involved my “fearless” 9 year old son, and brings a grin to my face everytime I see the scene unfold in the theatre of my mind. This is one of those stories that could of had a very different ending, but thank God it didn’t. You’ll probably think “What a moron!” when I’m done telling you, and my wife would agree. In hindsight it was not to smart on my part, but hopfully I learned from the experience.

Bear camp for us Ansels is at the lovely Baldwin deer cabin situated in the middle of the Marquette hills and the “Big Hole” area. It is a two mile drive,off a dirt road, to get to the camp behind a locked gate. Over the years my family has taken over 40 bear while hunting this area, so it isn’t unusual to have bear right in camp. In fact my younger brother Dean shot one about 60 yards from the front door that weighed over 400 pounds.

Well this particular year was different, as my young son and myself were the only two in camp that year. I don’t remember why it was just us, but I do remember my wife telling me if Micah didn’t do his homework she would not allow him to go with me anymore. We were on the third day of the hunt, and I had taken him with me every evening. The trip was winding down and no homework had been completed yet. That evening I asked him if he would be alright staying at the camp by himself (dumb), and catching up on homework? He said “no problem dad just turn on the propane lamps before you leave.” I figured I would only be a few hundred yards away from the cabin anyway, and instructed him to keep the door closed while I was gone.

During my stay in my stand I had a nice “blackie” circle me until he got downwind, and then like a ghost he vanished. Actually he went over the ridge in the direction of the camp which gave me cause for some concern. At dark I started back to camp, and as I approached I thought I saw something move close to the front door. I couldn’t make out what it was as it lurked back into the shadows underneath the cabin pilings. I was nervous enough to let out a little yell at 20 yards just to put some fear into whatever was waiting to pounce on me as I approached. To my total surprise my little squeaky voiced son said “be quiet dad there’s a bear out here, and I’m going to shoot him!” My jaw dropped as the little toe-head crawled out from under the cabin. He was wearing his Davy Crockett coon skin hat and his camo jacket and sure enough he had his B.B. gun in tow. I said “what in the world are you doing son?” He explained that while he was doing his homework he started hearing noise outside. When he looked out the window and didn’t see anything he decided he should “bait” the area and see if he could shoot a bear. I thought “Look what you’ve created you knucklehead!” He then proceeded to take some donuts and bread and lay them on the woodpile about 10 yards from the front door. Around the steps he made a little blind, loaded his trusty B.B. gun, and patiently waited. That is till I screwed things up for him. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, and was getting to the point of whistling in the dark, and here is this little half-pint waiting to “blast” his first black bear with a Daisy B.B. gun. You don’t know how happy I was when we found out it was racoons making all the rucus and not a bear! That’s one heck of a bear story, but a true one none the less.

My son doesn’t hunt much at all, and never has taken a Michigan black bear, but he still is one “fearless” young man. He’s fearless for God and hunts down the devils and demons that prowl about like a roaring lion. His “trophies” far surpass anything I could ever hang on a wall. I’m proud of you son. Keep up the good work for the “KING.”

Mike

Orange Barrels

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“Construction zone ahead”, don’t you just love to see those words? It seems nomatter where you go this summer you are going to run into “orange barrels.” If you plan your trip with proper precision and timing you can minimize the effect of construction on your travel time and frustration level.

My basic plan is “early is better!” Generally speaking, traffic really starts to pick up after 6:00 a.m. especially close to the big cities. If I leave Monroe by 4:00 a.m. I can avoid the morning rush along with the construction “bottlenecks.” It doesn’t seem to matter whether I take 23 or 275 to 23 to 75. There isn’t but a few minutes differance nomatter which route I choose. The important thing is being past the Zilwalkee Bridge before everyone wakes-up.

The early morning drive has other advantages; like kids still sleeping, fresh brewed coffee, conversation with your wife, and the glory of watching the sun rise. It took us 4 hours and 20 minutes to reach our destination (Wellston) V.S. 6 hours coming home. Our return trip was a late evening drive taking 127 to Lansing and 96 then to 23. We did stop and get an ice-cream for the grandkids and gas up, so that added a little time to the overall final “tally.”

So if your not up to being slowed to a crawl in a construction zone I highly reccomend the early morning commute. Not only is there less traffic you also arrive at your destination with almost the whole day ahead of you and the grandkids-“oh boy!”

Mike

Roadkill

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Probably not the most appealing subject to write about, but after our little trip up north I started wondering if anyone raccoon hunts anymore. I can’t recall seeing so many dead “coons” along the road. Sometimes you’d see a whole family wiped out.

When I was a kid a lot of my dads friends hunted raccoons at night with flashlights and dogs. We also had a couple neighbors that were into it quite heavy. I only went one time, but the memory stands out in my mind like it was yesterday. Once the dogs got on a hot track it was only a matter of time till they “treed” the varmit. One of the men had a 22 single shot rifle, and one carried an old shotgun. Back then a coon pelt in good condition might fetch a guy $5.00 dollars, so the 22 was the preferred method for taking one-right between the eyes! The reason I even bring up the subject is that I haven’t heard of anyone raccoon hunting in years. I assume that would be one of the reasons you see so many “coons” as roadkill. I work in Dundee, and coming home this evening I did a count as to how many raccoons were victumized by someone’s headlights. I counted 9 in the 17 mile stretch to my front door. If you could still get $5.00 for a pelt I bet they’d dissappear faster than an empty Pepsi can. Any thoughts out there on the subject?

Mike