Archive for January, 2010

A Cree in the Family Tree

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

PhotobucketChief 10 Bears in all his glory, or is that gory?  Seeing how I’m on a roll with American Indian lore I though I would share some news I heard from my cousin, Tommy “Tomahawk” Douglas yesterday.  Tom is my mothers nephew from Canada, and makes his living as a writer, (history and travel) editor, and columnist.  Tom is like a detective when it comes to researching any subject.  He is quite well known in the literary circles in Canada, and his name is all over the Internet.  I tell you all that to give credence to what my cousin told me yesterday when I asked him about our Native American roots.

Rumors have floated around about my mothers heritage ever since I can remember.  Her mother died when she was just three (3) years old, and she knew nothing of her grandmother (Jenny Montgomery) or her husband, who’s last name was West.  My mothers mother Irene had a brother, Richard West, who I met several years ago in Sault Ste. Marie Canada.  Uncle Dick lived to be 96, but it seems he had a secret he was able to take to his grave.

Cousin Tom told me that before my mothers brother (Gordon) died he told him that Jenny Montgomery was a full bloodied Cree from Manitoba.  She was Uncle Dicks mother, and my mothers grandmother.  Evidently Uncle Dick was ashamed of his heritage and was able to somehow destroy any records from the Montgomery side of the family.  Cousin “Tomahawk” felt Gordon was telling him the truth, and tried to research the family tree, but kept running into a dead end at Jenny Montgomery.  There seems to be no records of her to be found.  Back in those days many people tried to hide their Indian heritage.  I’m sorry to say that Great Uncle Dick was evidently one of them.

Tom had written the memoirs of an Ojibway Indian from the Wawa area, and had numerous Metis and Ojibway friends.  While doing his research for his book, he related, to a wise Ojibway women, his dilemma in tracing his Native American roots.   She said to him “If you have been told that you have Indian blood in your veins and if you feel in your heart that it is true, then it is true!”  Cousin Tom then told me that he has no qualms about telling people he is one-eighth Cree, and that if I accept the Ojibway woman’s advice i can proudly say the same.

I wish Uncle Dick would of embraced his Indian heritage, but for now I will “bask” in the wisdom of an old Ojibway woman.  The documentation may end at the name of Jenny Montgomery, but in my heart of hearts I know I am connected to the earth with Native American blood.  This information has brought a great freedom to my Spirit, as my ancient heritage calls my name from the shadows of the past.

Chief 10 Bears

One-Eighth Cree is Good Enough for Me

My Native American Winter Crafts

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

PhotobucketThis is not the greatest picture of my Indian “dance stick.”  In the winter months I like to make “reproductions” of Native American items.  While at the Soaring Eagle Resort last week I saw a couple of these at the museum.  They were for sale, and ran around $400.00 dollars.  Of course they were made by the hands of a true “Native American,” and were very nice representatives of a Regalia dance stick.

The one I made has a real turkey foot on the end, tied with sinew.  I then added some beadwork followed by a whole rabbit skin. (middle section)  From there I wrapped deer leather with a beaded rosette attached.  I then tied an imitation eagle feather with turquoise beads around the rabbit fur.  I finished it off with another small piece of white rabbit fur and a leather tassel on the end.  I used a “beaver stick” that I collected on my fall bear hunt, as the starting point.  It turned out quite well, if I do say so myself.  The one I looked at in the museum had a reproduction eagle claw, which was cool, but my “real” turkey foot is also “cool!”

I have several real bear claw necklaces I’ve made, along with arrows, tomahawks, gourd rattles, quivers, talking sticks, walking sticks, lances, and a few leather items.  One of these days I’ll take a picture of them all and post them.  Everything I make I use when I do my Native American talks at the schools.  The kids always are very interested in what “Chief 10 Bears” has to say about the original occupants of our nation.  I enjoy sharing with them things about subsistence living, like trapping, hunting, and fishing.  Trust me, most schools have a totally different agenda when it comes to looking at these area’s in a positive light.  I’ve even been known to bring a little “jerky” with me, and make it available to those (usually boys) who want to give it a try.  The Native Americans simple way of life,  love for the land, and the creatures that inhabit it, still makes good sense today.  We must be good stewards of all the natural resources created for our use and our pleasure.

Mike

Soaring Eagle Resort Surprise

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

PhotobucketRecently my wife and I accompanied our daughter (Tara) son-in-law (Glen) and grand-son (Kyle) to the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant Michigan.  The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe opened the resort in 1972.  To say this has been a successful business venture would be a gross understatement.  Presently the Chippewa Tribe is the largest employer in Isabella County.  Additions and new projects are under construction on a year round basis.

We were there for a “Mohawk” carpet convention (how fitting) and weren’t interested in helping the Tribe with their ambitious expansion goals.  However we did enjoy the lovely pool, and my wife and I even walked through the snow to sit in the outdoor hot-tub!  The walkway was heated so at least our feet stayed warm.  It was quite refreshing, and the outdoor gas fire pit added a special touch, as we relaxed in the swirling heated bubbles.  Lunch and dinner were compliments of  Mohawk, and it was very good.  This resort spares nothing in amenities or first class accommodations.  Even the silverware was real silver (at least they had me believing it was.)  We enjoyed fresh pastries from a little shop in the lobby, and visited the gift shops and cafeteria.

The highlight of the trip for us all  was a visit to the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.  This craft shop, museum, cultural center just opened in 2004, and from what we saw is the hidden jewel at the Chippewa Resort.  Evidently everyone else was gambling as we took a tour almost by ourselves.  The Native American history and realistic displays were of the highest quality.  There were even two small movie theaters showing films about the Anishinabe culture.

You may not know, but I am a Native American “wanna-be!”  My mother and her relatives are from Canada.  She is the only one from her family to become an American citizen.  The talk of Cree Indian blood running through my ancestors veins has always intrigued me.  Because records could not be found to prove Native American blood I am left an “outcast.”  The hardy nature, dark features, and high cheekbones of my mother and her relatives certainly would give credence to a few cells of Indian DNA.   Three of my great uncles were bush pilots, and two of those were part of the Antarctic expeditions.  The Cree language is similar to that of the Anishinabe (Chippewa) and are part of the biggest gathering of Native Americans called First Nations.  I felt honored to speak with several of the Native Americans working at the complex.

I highly recommend laying off the slot machines, forget blackjack, skip the roulette wheel, and head on over to the Cultural Center.  You will be enlightened, and its a place your whole family can enjoy.  Not only that, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to get home!

I plan on doing a follow up blog related to my “rumored” Native American heritage in the future.
Mike

Not All Bucks Are In The Freezer

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

PhotobucketSure now you show up and stand 20 feet away from me.  I saw this nice 8-point a few weeks ago as I traveled the back country of the north woods.  He looked healthy, and no worse the ware for being on the “wanted list” for over three months.  It’s a good thing that many of these nice bucks do make it through the season or we would all have to eat more beef.  I think that by the time a buck gets to be 2-1/2 years old he’s already got his Bachelors degree in out smarting hunters.  The really mature bucks (4-1/2 on up) have a Doctorate in eluding the dinner table or den wall.  All I can say is it’s a good thing for the “rut!”   Most of those “bad-boys taken during deer season are caught off guard, cause they have their mind on the ladies.  Can you imagine that?

Right now I should be well into some coyote/fox hunting, but the weather isn’t cooperating.  We have had very little snow, and the temps have been on the way up.  Supposed to rain tomorrow with a warming trend heading our way.  I hate rain in the winter!  If it’s going to be winter I want snow and lots of it.  Michigan usually does get It’s share of the white powder, but my area doesn’t seem to get dumped on as much as the rest of the state.  (South-East corner)  Oh well we still have a good while to go before the daisy’s start popping up, so I’ll just bide my time.  Those “yotes” and foxes will still be chasing whatever critter they can sink their teeth into, and hopefully I’ll be chasing them shortly.

Mike

Grandson, BMX, and Cougar Sightings?

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Photobucket If you get out your magnifying glasses you may be able to see my grandson Login in this picture.  Just this fall he started BMX bike racing, and he’s loving it.  Of course he’s a chip off the old block, as his dad was a legend, at his local track, when he was a kid.  Login lives in the northern Chicago suburbs of Gray’s Lake, but does his BMX riding in Wisconsin.  It’s only about a 20 mile drive , and the indoor track is alot of fun for the whole Horwitz crew.

Just this past Sunday Logan “bumped” up to the next age group (6 year old’s) and took a third place trophy.  Not bad for a novice riding 5 year old.  Logan has placed in just about every race he’s been in, and will have to get a bigger bedroom to hold all his awards.  Login is quite a neat little guy, and I’m so happy he’s my grandson.  Keep having fun little buddy, but don’t get to much air under those tires.

On a side note my daughter Megan reported that two weeks ago they spotted two cougars (mountain lions) on their way to the track.  They were still in Illinois and quite shocked to see the two big cats running through the snow.  Both Meghan and Mark confirmed that they were cougars, and she even reported the sighting to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  There should be plenty of deer for the big cats to dine on, so maybe they will leave the cats and dogs alone for the time being!  I’ve done alot of hunting in my life, including out west, and I have never seen a mountain lion.  Amazing to think my daughter lives just north of Chicago and she sees two of them!

Mike

Haiti In Perspective

Friday, January 15th, 2010

PhotobucketNow as I look at this picture of elk steaks on the grill, I almost feel guilty for having the abundance of  food, water, and housing me and my family enjoy.  Man we have it good in this country!  As one watches the news coming out of Haiti your heart can’t help but be touched by the devastation to that heavily populated island.  Millions of people have had their lives turned upside down, and for most of them it will never be the same.

We had two young adults from our church escape the earthquake by just two days.  They arrived back in the United States  days before the earthquake hit, and are still awaiting word about the orphanage they were helping at.  Haiti had an over abundance of orphans before the quake, and those numbers are bound to increase dramatically due to this disaster.  Our pastor has called for a church meeting to pray and explore the best way that we, as a congregation, can help.  I hope everyone that reads this will do something to help elevate  the pain and suffering these unfortunate fellow brothers and sisters are going through.  Just a little from alot will help in great ways.

Pray for relief supplies to reach those in need, for order to be restored, for more lives to be saved, and for a sliver of hope to appear to this forever changed country.  Take time to be thankful for all the blessings we have that sometimes are taken for granted.  Hug your wife, kids, and grandkids, smile at your neighbor, complain less about your circumstances.  It could all change “In the blink of an eye!”

Mike

Late Season Goose and DNR Perks

Monday, January 11th, 2010

PhotobucketLate goose season is in full swing around here, and there seems to be plenty geese to keep the hunters happy.   These geese are in a field next to my brothers house.  Of course our plan was to hunt it hard, but sometimes the “best laid plans” go astray!  My brother has lived in this location for over 30 years, and we have been able to use this property in the past.  Not this year!  A local DNR biologist has been tying up farmland for his own personal hunting grounds, and he snatched this piece up right from under us. He’s got quite a system going for himself, as what landowner would turn down a request from a “conservation officer?”

I drove by this corn field the other day and there were hundreds of geese in the field.  I was drooling as I watched flock after flock set their wings to land among the stubby cornstalks.  I’ve heard various reports that Mr. DNR has been doing quite well with his set up here.

One of my brothers just had a group of buddies come up from Ohio to hunt geese, and they did pretty good.  They dropped 5 Saturday, and one of the “kids” took his first goose.  With Lake Erie partially frozen, and most ponds frozen, the corn and soybean fields are a good bet to hold geese.  I haven’t made it out yet, but a warm up is forecast for the end of the week, and I may get my goose call out then.

Mike

Finally Meat in the Freezer

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

“Ah!”  The freezer will have some meat after all.  The picture is of a small bull elk  I recently shot on a working cattle farm here in Michigan.  This particular farm consist of a section (mile x a mile) of high fence, due to the elk planted about 20 years ago.  It is a working farm, and the elk do alot of damage to the corn.  The farmer sells 10 crop damage permits each year, as regulated by the DNR, and I bought one this year.  This is a private herd and the hunt is not to be confused with wild unfenced Michigan elk.  It’s not a game ranch, just a well-to-do farmer who enjoys seeing elk roam his property.  He has to “cull” some animals every year to keep a balanced herd.

That being said it was exciting just the same.  There were cows and a few horses on the property, and hay had been dropped in one of the fields for them to feed on.  I was told that the elk would start entering the field just before dark, from the swamp.  As I sat in a blind, at the edge of the woods an eagle landed in a tree, not far away.  Before I could get my camera out he flew across the field, and perched in a tree out of camera range.  Around 4:00 p.m. a pack of coyotes started yipping down in the swamp.  I thought that might put a damper on any elk moving, but it didn’t.  Shortly thereafter elk started wandering into the field, and several made their move toward the hay.  I noticed two cows and a lone bull about 200 yards across the field, but they really seemed nervous.  I glassed him for several minutes and decided to take him if I got a chance.  At around 120 yards they started to turn and head back for the thick stuff, and it was now or never time for me.

I put the cross-hairs of the 30-06 on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger.  He never reacted to the hit, but fell in a heap after running about 50 yards.  Elk are tough, as there was no exit wound.  The shot was well placed, and I have some great meat going in my freezer, even if it isn’t deer venison.

I’m sure some of my readers would have a problem with a high fence hunt, and wouldn’t even call it hunting.  Trust me I had very mixed emotions going into this “hunt” myself.  The land was wild, and the evidence of that ( deer, turkey, coyote, eagles, and elk ) reflected that wilderness experience.  But it was fenced in, and that certainly does take away from any real thoughts about “fair chase!”  All in all I enjoyed the various natural happenings going on around me, and me and my family will have lots of corn fed elk steaks to eat this winter.  For me it was a good way to spend time in the woods, and it gave me a chance to fill the empty freezer.  I’ll say this “It beats going to the meat counter at the grocery store!”

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Big Bucks of 2009

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

We hear alot about big bucks coming out of Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and so on, but Michigan hunters fared pretty well this year in the large deer category.

Amy Slade took her first deer in her second year of hunting in Hillsdale county.  Amy downed a mainframe 8-pointer with 4 more score-able points.  Her beautiful shotgun buck gross scored 164-7/8 inches.  Most hunters will go a lifetime and not kill a buck that big.  Jackson county had another huge buck downed when Shane Polly dropped a 15 pointer with his shotgun.  His buck had a green score of 178 Boone and Crockett points.   Next is Jim Strader who downed a 13 point Eaton County buck. His buck had a green score of 178-5/8 inches, and should make Boone and Crockett after the 60 day drying period.  Jerry Lambert shot the buck of a lifetime with his bow.  His huge Calhoun County buck had 18 score able points, and racked up a score of 185-1/4 Pope and Young points.  Jerry’s deer will rank up there with some of the biggest bow killed bucks ever taken in our state.   Speaking of big bow killed bucks!  Jeremy Collingsworth arrowed a Lenawee County 17 pointer that green scored 205 inches.  When you get a deer in this category your talking world class!  Last, but certainly not least is an 18 point Cass County buck taken by Steve Heartline with a black powder rifle.  Steve’s impressive monster scored an incredible 207-7/8 inches.  This buck will probably rank as one of the biggest black powder bucks ever taken in Michigan.  Congratulations to all you successful “once in a lifetime” blessed hunters.

Did you notice that all but one of these deer were non-typical?  Amy’s was scored as a main frame eight, but I’m quite sure the rest were scored using their irregular headgear.  Did you also notice that these are Southern Michigan corn feed deer?  Another fact of interest is that the majority of these monsters were taken on land practicing QDM.  That should tell you something about leaving the 2,3,and 4 year old mature until they reach their peak potential.  There are probably many more big deer, that I’m not aware of, that fell to gun or bow this year, so if you know of any let me know.  The annual deer harvest was down this year, but you couldn’t get these happy hunters to say anything negative about their hunting experiences this year.  Watch out Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and the rest of you big buck states – Michigan has you in it’s sights

Mike

Venison Withdrawals!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

This is not quite the way I had anticipated the 2009 deer season ending.  Me sitting in my tree stand looking out over woods, fields, planted pines, and fence rows, and not seeing anything!  I’m talking zip, zero, nada!  It reminded me of the Christmas poem “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”  I mean I never even saw a bird or pesky squirrel.

When I went into my stand I cut a fresh set of tracks, and they were “big!”  My hope was to put my 20 yard pin on the chest area of the deer that left those tracks, but it wasn’t to be.  Sometimes the best laid plans go “south,” and that’s what happened to me, on this, my last chance to put meat in the freezer.

Wouldn’t you know it, right at prime time, several kids were walking the edge of the woods I was hunting in.  Now that wasn’t that bad, as they were about 200 yards away.  They disappeared for about 15 minutes, but returned with “guns” in hand!  Paint ball guns that is!  It was 5:00 o”clock.  The time when your senses are on full alert and anticipation runs high.  Bam, zing, splatter,  was all I could hear for a solid 10 minutes.  Shooting light was waning fast, and I was discouraged, so I packed it up.

The deer won this year.  I did learn something about hunting suburban deer though.  It will be a long time (never) before I commit to doing it again.  The noises and distractions going on around you, in a setting like I was in, just wasn’t hunting, as I know it.  I’m sure there were deer taken in the area, but it just isn’t the same.  Deer prefer solitude, and so do I.  Next year I hope to be far away from lawn-mowers, honking horns, kids playing, dogs barking, and paintball fights!

Just today I talked to a hunting buddy who went north last weekend.  He hunted three days and saw 14!  Fourteen coyotes that is.  He never saw one deer, but plans a return trip for “yotes.”  I have received more reports about coyote and wolf sightings this year than in any past year.  Sooner than later it has to effect the deer herd, and it just could be that the downward spiral has already began.  Some one needs to start a reality T.V. show called “It ain’t no joke if you don’t shoot a yote!”

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