Archive for September, 2007

The Man

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This is the “man” himself as he hopes for Mr. Black Bear to pay him a visit. I took this picture before Darryl had a chance to put charcoal on his face, as we were in a ground blind on this evenings hunt. We were surrounded by hills, and had the bait placed in a berry thicket. We made a shooting lane to the thicket and had a favorable wind to start the evening. Just before dark the wind shifted, and blew our cover, so Mr. Bear decided to wait till we left to chow down. Usually the weather plays a big part in our hunting success, but this year’s weather was the best we can remember in a long time.

Tomorrow is the bow deer season opener here in Michigan, and it looks to be a warm one for Monday. I have noticed where a lot of the corn and soy-beans are “down,” and that should help us hunters. My son in law reported that I have a big new scrap close to my tree stand. This spot is not a good morning place, but the evening will see me 20 foot up my ladder stand. Hope all you fellow hunters have a great season, and are safe in all your exploits.

Incidentally my brother Darryl has two Michigan “grand slams” under his belt (bear, deer, and turkey in the same year.)  Of coarse this is with a bow, and he has come very close to doing it on several other occasions.  Very few hunters receive the coveted “Master Bowhunter Award” from the Michigan Bowhunters Association, but my little brother has!  Thats why we reverently call him “The Man!”

Mike

Bears Moon Hunters

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

It seems like forever since I wrote a blog, but we are now back from our little bear hunting trip to Marquette. We hunted Friday evening, and then drove all night and pulled into Monroe at 5:30 A.M. I have more than a few stories to tell, but none of them involve a bear “tag” being used. If this trip were a cribbage game you could say we got skunked. It was definately one for the “books!”

When we arrived for the hunt neither of the two baits, we had set two week prior, had been “hit.” We decided to bait three more areas in desperation. Tuesday was the start of my brothers hunt, and we didn’t even venture out, as nothing was happening at any of the baits. Wednesday morning we discovered our “sure thing bait” had been hit after sitting almost three weeks. We put up our stands, set out some more bait, and planned our hunt for the evening. Nothing but red squirrels and the mournful howl from a pack of coyotes. Thursday morning found one of our new spots hit hard, with several piles of bear “scat” around the area. We had to opt for a ground blind in this area, as the bait was in a “bowl” surrounded by hills. The evening thermals would no doubt blow up the ridges, so it was going to depend on which way our scent blew. We had a deer detect us from behind our blind, and that was the sum of the excitement for the evening. Friday morning the spot we had hunted Wednesday was tore up! From the size of the “scat” it was a very respectable bear, so we knew where we would hunt our last night. Friday around noon we did a little brook trout fishing, which took us by one of our original baits that had never been touched. Wouldn’t you know-it was completely gone! We needed one more week, but the “real world” doesn’t always just hand you the time you need, when you need it. We sat for four hours Friday evening, with  perfect weather conditions, and again saw nothing. I guess thats why its called bear hunting, and not bear killing. None the less we had a great time, and the U.P. colors where at their peak. The three “old” Ansel brother built some memories, and the Baldwin family was once again great host. It was good seeing them all again.

In all our years of hunting bear we can’t recall hunting during a full moon! We need some kind of an excuse for our inability to put some bear steaks in the freezer, so “full moon” works for us. This is the first time we can recall ever being “mooned” by a bear.

Mike

Some Times The Best Laid Plans

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Just a quick update on my grandsons youth hunt.  I went to Hillsdale Friday to get everything set up for Saturday, and to my surprise the farmer was combining his corn.  He picked all Friday night, and was still at it when we arrived at 5:45 Sat. morning.  Since our blind is in the fence row bordering the corn field we thought we should opt for our standby blind.  I stayed in the truck, as the blind is only large enough for two.  From my vantage point I could see both areas quite well.  At 7:30 a huge buck walked right next to the blind we “were not” in, and of coarse my grandson and his dad didn’t see anything!

Well I wasn’t going to let that happen again, so in the evening Quinn and I went to the blind by the corn field.  Tony sat in the truck this time and watched both blinds through his binoculars.  Quinn and I saw one big doe about 80 yards away.  Because Quinn did not feel comfortable making the shot we waited for a better one.  It never came!  When we got back to where Tony was he said “You should of been in the other blind.”  “I saw three bucks and nine does walk by, and one of the bucks was a beauty!”  Go figure!

We had a good time in spite of coming home empty handed.  The farmer picked his last rows of corn at 8:00 P.M.  Just about the time we had to call it quits.  Well at least the corn is down for bow season.

I’m off for Marquette in 6 hours-got to get some sleep

Mike

The Big Scrape

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis is a picture of the huge scrape we saw last Sunday when we were scouting the area. Hopefully it was a nice old buck that is roaming around the area. Our ground blind is well concealed, and either side of the thick fence row we are in could be considered a travel corridor. The many tracks on the west side (in the corn field) are fresh and some are very large. The east side is in C.P.R., and is a bedding area and travel corridor between wood lots. We also have a small pond in this field with several buck rubs around the perimeter. Nomatter how late I get in Sat. I’ll give an update on my blog. Shoot straight and be safe!

Mike

Grandson Number One

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

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This is my grandson Quinn Russo and the blind he is going to take his first deer from. As I said in my last blog there is a huge scrape just down the tree line to the right of the picture. I received an e-mail from Art (a faithful blog reader) and he thinks its just a really big buck tearing up the ground. That could very well be as we did see three record class deer in our area last year, and we never heard of anyone shooting them. I had a chance at one of the bruisers, but was only able to give him a close shave! Didn’t even break the skin-only a handful of hair. I probably made him a much wiser deer due to the education he received from me. Thank God for the rut or we might never see these big boys.

We sighted in the trusty 20 gauge Remington model 870 this evening and it’s right on. Quinn’s confidence is up as he anticipates our upcoming hunt. The only problem I see is the heat and the mosquitoes. They almost carried us away this evening. Both of us had off on, but I was bleeding from several “wounds” by the time we came back to the house. We’ll have to waste no time getting his deer to the cooler. (You must have a plan!) I hope all of you participating in the youth hunt have a great time afield. Be safe and let me know how you did.

Mike

Bear Hunting Update

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

My brother Darryl just talked to Dick Baldwin from Marquette, and he reported that our number one bait site has yet to be visited.  Our back-up area has had some activity, but nothing to write home about.  Bummer!

Dick is going to the fish market today and try to get a couple hundred pounds of fish scraps.  Sometimes the bear can be real fussy, and other times they’ll eat a rubber tire if it has honey on it!

Because we have the third hunt we are in competition with the squirrel and partridge hunters.  That can cause problems, but we are on private property, and no one should be small game hunting in our area.  Of course those hunters that drew the first and second hunts, plus the hound hunters could have em stirred up a tad.

We are leaving early Sunday morning, so we’ll have about 1-1/2 days to pull out all our baiting expertise, as his hunt starts on the 25th.  I still believe our “hot-spot” will pay off-we just need to be patient.

I am going to get to hunt with my grandson Saturday, and hopefully see him take his first deer.  I just wish it wasn’t so warm.  I’m ready for some cool fall temperatures.  No matter we are pretty excited about this coming weekend.   When we were scouting two days ago we found a scrape about 40 yards from our blind.  This isn’t just a territorial marker, but a huge 5×6 area with the low hanging branches newly broken or bent.  It looks like a rut scrape, but that doesn’t make sense at this time of the year.  I guess it could be a small “community” scrape, but I’m not sure.  What do you deer experts think?

Mike

Another Outhouse Story

Monday, September 17th, 2007

The incident with the skunk was the only one of its kind, but we have had other “stories” from this unique blind.

The following year we again used the outhouse for cover, and it seemed to really “mask” our scent. Our guess was that this particular old homestead was well over 100 years old, and the local critters were used to the lingering human odor in the area. We had been baiting for about 10 days prior to the hunt, and it was getting hit by at least three different bear.

Its amazing that this homestead was even located in this remote part of the sand river area. It’s approximately an eight mile drive back to the brush covered old logging trail that leads to our bear hot-spot. Along the way you will not pass another house/cabin due to the inaccessibility of this chunk of state land.

Back to the hunt! My older brother Randy was going to hunt the outhouse, with me as a back-up. We had decided we would only take the 300 pounder that had been frequenting the bait station, and just film the smaller bear, who’s tracks gave them away. Usually the smaller bear come to the bait first, and then the larger ones arrive later. Not this evening! Right around 6:00 P.M. the big boar comes strolling into the bait like he owned the place. Randy is waiting for the bear to turn, and give him the shot he wants, when we see more movement, beyond the bear. We can not believe our eyes! Walking down the overgrown logging trail is a man, women, and their little toy collie! The bear looks like a frozen statue as his eyes are glued on the intruders, a mere 25 yards away. Of coarse we can’t do anything, but watch, as the bear silently melts back into the thick cover.

Those people never had a clue they were in harms way, and to this day we have no idea where they came from, or where they were going. They sure messed us up though,  as that bear became nocturnal, and never visited again during shooting hours. That year it was bear (1) outhouse bear hunters (0). That’s ok though, as the next year my brothers friend Don popped a big one from that spot, but that’s another story.

Mike

It’s Getting Close

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

We just got back from Hillsdale to make some final preparations for the upcoming youth hunt. My grandson Quinn Russo is going to get his first deer this year, and his father Tony and I are really excited. Tony set up a ground blind a few weeks ago in a fence row, with a corn field on one side and a bedding area on the other. The deer have been tearing up the farmers cornfield, and about 60 yards down the fence line is a massive scrape. We saw some really impressive tracks, and lots of them, as the deer are cruising the edge of the fields.

The only problem is that we are going to have limited visibility in all directions, as it is a very thick fence row. I have to get Quinn to the shooting range, so he can sight in his little 20 gauge model 870. It was right on last year, but you always have to check to make sure. I will only have Saturday to hunt with him, as Sunday I leave for the bear hunt, so I’m hoping he scores on the twenty second. I’m excited!

The Outhouse Blind

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

This past week, while we were in Marquette setting out bear baits, Darryl happened to mention one of our old “blinds” we dubbed “the outhouse.”  Last season he hunted close by, and discovered the old “potty” was still standing.

Back around 1974 we stumbled upon this old homestead in the middle of nowhere.  There was nothing standing except for this old outhouse.  The trees had grown up around the junk on the ground, and all that was left from the little house was a few foundation stones.  A creek full of bear tracks was nearby, and I got the bright idea to use the outhouse as a ground blind.  I figured the bear in the area were used to human odor due to the contents just below the rotting floor boards of this little shanty.  One of the first things we needed to do was put some new lumber over the old boards, so nobody would make the “plunge that doesn’t refresh!”  There was no door on our “blind”, but I didn’t think that was a big deal, because we were going to set our bait about 40 yards in front of the outhouse window.  Most outhouses don’t have a window across from the door, but this double seater did.

Once we got situated with the outhouse, we set the bait, and within two days it was getting hit hard.  By the size of the tracks a large bear was one of several using the site.  I had a friend with me on this hunt, and I was going to let him have first crack at this bear.  On our first evening out I saw something black moving off in the distant brush, and I cautioned Jim to get ready.  Anticipation was running high, as we watched the black form move through the tangle of underbrush.  To our dismay a huge skunk stepped into view and started nibbling on our bait pile. I was hoping he wouldn’t stay around long, and after several minutes he ambled off to our right.  We both breathed a sigh of relief, as we didn’t want mister stinky around the area.

As I said this outhouse was a two-seater, so Jim had one side and I had the other, while we watched out the window. Every now and then I would look through the door opening  behind us just to make sure a bear didn’t sneak in from the rear.  I got the shock of my life when I glanced in that direction only to see Mr. Skunk heading straight for the door opening.  I whispered to Jim “don’t move!”  He thought I saw a bear, and was more than a little anxious as he “froze” on command!  The pole-cat stepped into the outhouse, just as Jim turned his head to see who our intruder was.  We both dared not breath, blink, or move a muscle, as Skunky-Deh- Pew rubbed against Jim’s leg and then mine!  After (what seemed like an eternity) he nonchalantly strolled back into the woods from whence he came. Whew!  We breathed a sigh of relief!

We did eventually take a bear from this stand, and there are other stories concerning this  blind “set up”, but I will save them for another time.

Mike

I Wish You Could Of Seen It

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

I was going to post a picture of a big bear I took several years ago, but my blog page has changed since yesterday, and I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. I was just getting the hang of putting pictures on the blog, and now I’m back to square one. Looks like I’ll have to get my 10 year old grandkid over to bail me out.

While we were in the Upper Peninsula we found out from the locals that the berry crop was very poor this year. In particular choke cherry’s were in short supply, due to the dry summer. The main spot we picked to bait had several choke-cherry trees bent over to the ground, and limbs were broken off the larger trees. We did not see any berry’s still on the trees, but did find a couple piles of bear scat full of choke-cherry seeds. There are a few wild raspberry bushes in the area also, so we believe this spot will pay dividends. Only found one set of tracks from a medium sized bear, but the ground is quite hard on top of the ridge we choose. Because we are going to try and film the hunt we put our stands a little higher than usual. I’d say the platform is over 22 feet off the forest floor, snuggled in the branches of a nice hemlock.

Now, for a couple weeks, I have to concentrate on scouting my deer hunting area. My grandson will be participating in the early youth hunt, but I may be up bear filming when he gets to go. I hope I can work something out so I can be with “The Mighty Quinn” when he drops his first deer.

Mike