Archive for October, 2010

“Kingdom Under Glass” by Jay Kirk

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Photobucket I just recently got a book published by the Henry Holt  Company call “Kingdom Under Glass.”  I was going to wait till I was finished before giving any sort of critique, but I’ve found it very interesting indeed.  I am only on chapter 7, but am purposefully taking my time, and allowing the books contents to seep down into my memory.

You would be hard pressed to guess what Jay Kirk has written about in his “Kingdom Under Glass,” but the subtitle wet my appetite enough to explore the pages.  It says “A tale of obsession, adventure, and one man’s quest to preserve the worlds greatest animals!”  The story is about Carl Akeley who revolutionized modern taxidermy, and created the famed “Akeley Hall of African Mammals” at the New York Museum of Natural History.  Akeley is unique in regards to collecting (shooting) his own specimens to preserve.  Akeley and his wife traveled the globe in pursuit of everything from small birds to African elephants.  He once strangled a leopard with his bare hands, and was left for dead by an enraged bull elephant, while hunting in Kenya with Teddy Roosevelt!

The facts, research, and history of this book are enough to make any hunter/outdoors person want to be informed about the evolution of their sport, the art of taxidermy, and the ultimate question, “Do we save nature, destroy it, or just stare at it under glass?”  It’s a great book to take to camp, read in your blind, or just relax in front of the fireplace with it.  I will be writing more as I progress along the 376 pages of this intriguing book.

You can order one online (like I did) from Jason Liebman at “Jason.Liebman@hholt.com” or call him at 646-307-5385 and he’ll get you one shipped out.  There are many historical facts about the “Golden Age of Safaris” tucked into the life of Carl Akeley.  Jay Kirk did a wonderful job of re-introducing the readers to a man that played such an important roll in every major Natural History Museum in the world.

Mike

Hunting has been “Coyote Ugly!”

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Haven’t been out since last week, but am planning a few days for next week.  It would be some tough hunting this week anyway.  All that nasty weather that moved in from Canada (hi winds, rain, and tornadoes) does not make for a good night in the stand!  It’s still very windy here today, and going to turn colder for the weekend.

My brother Darryl did get back from the Upper Peninsula several days ago with a couple buddies of his.  Darryl and Dan had third season bear tags, and old straight shootin Dan nailed a nice one.  A 250 pound boar with a skull that may make Pope and Young – 18 inch minimum.  The night Darryl switched stands there were four bear in.  The reason he knows is because his other buddy Randy was sitting in that stand, and of course had no bear permit.

This was a combo bear/deer hunt, but no venison was put in the freezer.  They saw a lot of deer, and all passed on smaller bucks and does.  The big boys just weren’t showing themselves.  Darryl said the coyote and wolf population has sky-rocked!  There was not an evening that they did not hear packs of coyotes howling in the distance.  They even devoured the gut pile from the bear.  This is the fourth report that’s come to me about coyotes on the increase.  Not many people hunt them anymore, as they get bolder and bolder.  There have been confirmed cases of coyotes attacking kids, and at least one fatality.  They don’t mind having your cat or dog for dessert either!

I got the flu shot this year, and wouldn’t you know I’m sick!  Aches, pain, fever, cough, chills, and a nice little headache.  Hope it all goes away soon, as I only get so many windows of opportunity to hunt.  You can only watch so many episodes of “Versus” before you have to “Do It” and not just “Watch It!”

Mike

Where’s the Deer?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

I hate it when hunting starts to get me frustrated.  I start thinking about retiring, giving it up, staying home with my wife, and doing fun stuff with my grandkids.  I couldn’t tell you how many times  I’ve told my wife “Dear I think this is my last year for hunting!”  Of course it goes in one of her ears and out the other!  She doesn’t believe a word of it, as she’s heard it all before.

My plan for the last several days was to hunt my leased property (expensive) in Hillsdale County Michigan.  You know “the big buck capital of the Southern Lower Peninsula.”  There are so many deer running around in these southern farm fields, that the DNR was giving out up to five doe permits a day!!  I actually was suckered into buying four of them myself.  Plan “A” was to stock everyone in my family up on tasty venison.  Not only four doe permits, but two buck permits as well.  After all I’m hunting 100 acres of Michigan’s finest. “Bah Humbug!”

After four days in paradise I saw only four deer total.  A doe and two fawns walked under my tree stand, as I watched them from and alternate blind (Why does that always happen?) and a lone doe walking a treeline some 250 yards away.  That’s it folks!  I have no idea what’s going on?  The soy-beans and corn are harvested, I have 50 acres of woods, two ponds, and a couple nice bedding area’s all to myself, and it seems I literally do have them all to myself!    I’m just a little frustrated right now, and even more so for missing the only opportunity that has presented itself this year.   I’m beginning to think the deer figures might be fudged just a little by those bureaucrats in Lansing , but what do I know?  I need one “down,” in the freezer, knocked out, lights out, on the grill, thumbs up, hi-five, hang em high, and basically “dead!”  You can’t tag one, or four, if their not there to shoot at!  I don’t really relish the thought of December bow hunting, in a 20 mile and hour wind, with the temp. hovering around 15 degrees, and the snow piling up around my knees!  I’d much rather do some bragging now, and let someone else tell the “almost froze to death” deer story.

Ok that’s enough wining for this month.  One good night, in the stand, can change my future plans, and put me back around the campfire for another year.

Mike

Hunting Plans

Monday, October 18th, 2010

PhotobucketI have only been out deer hunting a couple times this year, but I plan on getting out for several days this week.  In this picture you’ll see a little speck in the sunny part of the blind window.  That is a doe decoy standing in a cut soy-bean field.  I’ve only used it once, and didn’t see anything the morning I tried it.

I guess I should stick at it, according to my brother Darryl.  So far this year he has had 5 different bucks come right up to his decoy.  All were smaller than what he has his sights set on, so he passed on them.  He has a couple 150-175 class bucks running around his place, and that’s what he’s holding out for.  Anyway he encourage me to stick with the decoy.  I asked if it spooked the doe’s, as I have had it do in the past, and he said, “not so far.”  Maybe at certain times of the year it works better than others.  I guess I’ll have to be more serious about trying to lure a buck in this upcoming week.

The pre-rut should be moving into play, as we have noticed the “scraping” activity increasing.  Grunt calls, estrous bleats, and even rattling should increase your chances of seeing deer over the next couple weeks.  Of course “scent masking” is almost a must if you want to see deer.  The buck I missed was licking it’s nose, and lifting it’s head up in the air testing the wind.  The least little breeze can take your “predator” scent right to those awesome nostrils.  I’ve been “busted” more often than not, due to the wind changing direction.

Hope to put some meat in the freezer, like the “Simply Outdoors” crew has done.  I sure don’t want to wait till the last minute like I did last year and end up with an empty freezer.

Mike

Dick Baldwin King of the “Big Hole!”

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

PhotobucketI don’t know about you, but wouldn’t it be great to still have the desire and physical abilities to hunt at 83 years of age?  This is Richard (Dick) Baldwin.  He is the head of the Marquette Baldwin clan, and he can still make your butt drag, trying to keep up with him in the woods.  When bear hunting we are fortunate enough to be able to use the Baldwin camp, as the base of operations.

Presently Gary (Dicks son) is just finishing up a newer, more modern camp, about 250 yards downstream from the old one.  It’s going to be nice, but oh what memories hide in the walls of the old camp.  This year we would see Dick almost every day, as he was trying to put the finishing touches on his new deer blind.  He located it on the high ridge behind camp, and was cutting insulation to put on the interior walls.  When I asked him about it, he said “Heck I’m getting to the age when it ain’t so much fun to be freezing while your deer hunting!”  Imagine that!  I would of had insulation and heat in that blind about 40 years ago!!  Dick is one tough woodsman, and excellent hunter, and a most gracious friend.  You can always count on venison in the freezer when Dick is in the woods.

He may have slowed down a tad here lately, but don’t get to cocky and think you can keep up with him!  He’s a young 83, has never minded breaking a sweat, and is a great family man, and trustworthy friend.  The Ansel’s lives were blessed when they met the man that tamed “The Big Hole!”  That’s the name they gave the wilderness property Dick, has hunted, trapped, and logged for the last 60 years.  Bless you Dick, and don’t let them wiper-snapper boys of yours (Gary and Greg) out do you this year.

Mike

Hot Weekend Hunt

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

PhotobucketThis nice buck has been passing underneath my stand just about an hour to early.  He’s a pretty decent 8 pointer, and I think I saw him this morning running with two doe’s and a yearling.

This weekend has to be the two hottest days I ever spent inside a ground blind.  The blind had been set up four days ago, but evidently the deer have not gotten used to it being in their “living room!”  When I saw this buck (I think) it and the deer with it all were wary of my ground blind.  It was tucked back in the brush and extra camo was added to it, but deer know when you bring something new into their home.  It’s going to take awhile for them to get used to it.  Of course they maybe could of smelled the salt from all the sweat pouring off my forehead also.  Way to hot to hunt.

I should of been in my tree stand anyway cause that’s the direction they came from.  Probably passed right under it!  I hate it when that happens!  My wife went along and did some relaxing and reading, and we both enjoyed the fall colors.  Seems the leaves have changed dramatically since just a week ago.  Come on cool weather.  We hunters need you to help us out a little.

PhotobucketLooking toward the back side of my hunting property.

Mike

First Days in the Stand

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Just got in from my hunting property in Hillsdale, and There are no deer going to the processors yet.  My nephew Scott accompanied me on this trip, as we pulled my little trailer to the property.

I had two stands to choose from, and I picked the original one I put up.  Scott was in stand number three.  It wasn’t a bad evening, but the wind was blowing from the North, which isn’t the norm for Michigan.  Early on, before I even pulled my bow up, I had a big doe 10 yards from me.  I couldn’t get to my bow without spooking her so I had to just watch till she trotted off.  About 6:30 I saw another doe that spooked from something I didn’t see.  Then at 7:00 o’clock a nice buck appeared about 55 yards west of my location.  It was on a scrap line, and did not enter the little patch of woods I was in.  I sat down and rummaged through my backpack for my grunt call.  Twenty minutes later the same buck was ten yards in front of me, starring in my direction.  It caught me sitting down.  I waited till it turned and started to walk away to stand up.  At 45 yards I blew my grunt call, and stopped him in his tracks.  He was interested in the grunt, and after several minutes of softly grunting he turned and started walking broadside to my position.  At 35 yards I drew, but was having a hard time seeing the buck, when I closed my eye.  I finally got his chest in my sight picture, and let one fly.  I immediately knew I was going to miss by a mile, as I have the lighted nocks this year.  I was a foot and a half behind the deer!!  I could not believe it!  This was a 115-120 class buck and I missed like a buck fevered greenhorn!  Come to find out I closed the wrong eye when I lined my sight pin on his chest, and that’s why I had a hard time finding him when I drew my bow back.  I’ve pulled this stunt a few other times, and might have to resort to wearing an eye patch!  To make matters worse, when leaving my stand I hooked my bow to my rope, and when I held it over the side to drop it down, it shot toward the ground like an anchor!  The rope wasn’t attached, and when I let go of the bow it simply obeyed gravity!  A 20 foot drop is not good for your bow, quiver, sights, ect.  I spent part of the next afternoon tuning it back in.  Interesting evening.

Scott saw 6-7 deer, but no shots.  The second day Scott saw two in the morning and two in the evening.  I saw zero in the morning and three bucks and a doe in the evening.  The deer were all working the edge of the soy-bean field about 45 yards south of my stand.  All three bucks were respectable.  I put up my “Predator” ground blind along the edge of the field, and will give them 4-5 days to get used to it.  Anyway that’s my story, and I wish I didn’t have to “stick” to it.  It’s a long season yet.  There’s still hope for redemption.

Mike

Nature – What a Wonderful Gift From Our Creator

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

PhotobucketWe might not of come home with a bear in the cooler, but we did enjoy some great brook trout fishing.  The beaver ponds, and their dams make for nice, cool, deep water for the brookies to congregate in, and that’s where a spinner or fly works best.  Backwater brook trout don’t get very big, so when you “latch” on to a 12 incher, you have a real monster on your hands.  Believe me these little acrobats don’t know their not supposed to be as strong as they are, but their small size will fool you.

My Nephew Derek caught a 16 incher last year, and I caught a 13 inch years ago.  Micah caught a 12 incher, but over the years these “big boys” have been hard to come by.  The 8,9, and 10 inch trout are more common, and when your eating these tasty morsels, size is not on your mind.  We deep fried a batch, along with some potatoes from Dick Baldwins garden, and a can of pork and beans, and to say it was great is an understatement.  You would be hard pressed to find such fare in any exclusive restaurant.

As we sat at the table and gave thanks for the bounty of Gods creation we were humbled by our surroundings.  The “hiss” from the gas lights, the aroma from the wood stove, and the distant howl from a pack of coyotes were the perfect backdrop to this wilderness meal.  We were sitting at a home made table (Gary Baldwins) surrounded by a family built cabin, produced from trees off this very land.  Almost everything around us was a reminder of “The way things used to be!”  This is a true wilderness hunting camp.  These log walls have heard every excuse, exaggeration, lie, and yes even some truth as the “boys of November” spin their tails.  What a thrill and honor for me and my son to partake of Gods bounty in a setting such as this.  We have made some memories, we have boasted with the best.  We have been humbled by nature, but have communed with natures God.  We have grown closer as father and son, and have experienced the love of good friends.  What more could you ask for on an ink black night in the middle of the “big woods?”  Except maybe one more golden brown brook trout!  Aah!

PhotobucketTalk about a fresh fish dinner!

Eager Beavers

Friday, October 1st, 2010

PhotobucketI can certainly understand where the terminology “Busy as a beaver” comes from.  In the past couple years several families of beavers have made the Baldwin property their home.  Each family has their own lodge (beaver house) and we found four of them, without looking very hard.  Each family could have as many as 8 beaver working together, so with upwards of 24 potential beavers, in the area, a lot of trees are being cut.  We found one area where there was almost no trees, due to the beavers cutting them down.  Understand that a beaver not only uses the limbs of trees for dams, houses, and food, but he has to chew the trees down, or his teeth will grow way to long.

This particular beaver, in the picture, surprised me as I sat along the creek fishing near his lodge.  He didn’t like me there, so he smacked his big flat tail on the surface of the water, and splashed me good.  He was only about six feet away from me when he made his “warning” known!  I snapped this picture and tried to take some video, but could not get him on film smacking the water.

Beavers are constantly monitoring their dams, and repairing any breeches in the water flow.  The dams they had constructed along our little creek create many ponds, that hold brook trout once the fish filter down to them.  We caught enough trout for a couple meals, plus were able to bring some home for a fish dinner.  We have the “Eager Beavers” to thank for that!

PhotobucketBeaver run and cuttings.