Archive for March, 2011

Monroe County Roads Are Shameful And Dangerous

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It’s that time of year again when Monroe County and it’s township personnel fix our “sorry” roads!  They do this by applying “cold patch” to the gaping craters, and the broken and missing parts of each outside lane.  After applying this ingenious and resilient compound they let us taxpayers “tamp” it down with our vehicles.  Then when the stones chip our paint and the tar sticks to everything it gets “flung” onto, we can assume the responsibility for fixing, and cleaning our messy vehicles.  How sweet of a deal is that?

Monroe County is notorious for its bad roads, and lack of cooperation between townships when it comes to fixing said roads.  Rauch road is a prime example of “Roads Gone Wild!”  Erie, Lasalle, and Ida townships can’t seem to find some common ground when it comes to saving the lives of their townships taxpayers.  Anyone who knows about the dangers of traveling down Rauch road, will steer clear of this death trap, even if it means having to drive miles out of the way!

Sad thing is Rauch is not the exception in Monroe county.  It’s more the norm, and it ticks me off every time I think about our tax dollars and library fines going towards fixing, repairing, and replacing these bone jarring, frame bending, tire busting roads.

Just today I passed two Monroe County road crews busy repairing a few of our chuck holes.  I even got to help as I packed down the cold patch with the weight of my explorer.  North Custer (just before Plank) is a nightmare, and all the cold patch in the world ain’t going to help this section of road.  Never the less we have are trusty road crew throwing shovels of cold patch into car swallowing holes, knowing that there is “job security” in what their doing.  These so called patches won’t last very long, so they can come back and do it again soon.

Just last year we had a bridge repaired (didn’t see anything wrong with the old one) on Reinhardt Road.  Now mind you the repairs are less than a year old, yet a portion of the concrete blocks have already fallen off the bridge foundation, and there is a huge 8 foot by 8 foot section of “new” road that is already being patched.  Something is wrong with this picture.  I’m sure somebody was paid good taxpayer dollars to do this job, and do it right.  Who takes responsibility for this and the rest of Reinhardt Road that needs a total makeover.  Where the heck did President Obama’s road stimulus money go?

Even the roads that were fairly decent a few years ago are falling apart.  I was on several back county roads this morning and some like Stowell Road in Dundee are void of any pavement.  They are completely pothole ridden gravel avenues presently.  Others like North County Line Road, (Lenawee county)  Brewer, and Dennison road tested my springs and shocks.  Sections of Albain, and Dunbar roads are in a sorry state, and I was glad to pull in my nice, firm, smooth private driveway after my bone separating country drive.  I think I’ll stay home and play video games next time I get the urge to do some Monroe County cruising!!

Dark Side Memories

Monday, March 28th, 2011

After reading Art Summers post from his Simplyoutdoors.net blog site this morning, I felt I wanted to follow up on skeletons in my own “Dark Side Closet!”  He stirred up a couple painful memories, that I’m sure will follow me to my grave.  I am not trying to be melodramatic, but in my case “the facts are the facts!”

I posted this picture of a buck with an arrow embedded in his shoulder.  I don’t like the fact that the pictured evidence could be used against us (hunters) in the court of popular opinion.  As a hunter, and nature lover, I don’t like looking at this “wounded deer” either, but there really is more to this particular story.  I have another picture of this deer from early in the season, when he was a young 8 pointer.  The broken arrow clearly in the same position.  He had made it through the fall and into the beginning winter months and appears to be healing from the nominal shot.  Of course not all wounded animals make it after an errant shot, and end up coyote or crow bait.

It’s the personal dark side of each hunters own secret places, that keep them awake at night, as they replay over and over in the movie theater of the mind.  Unless your just a heartless “killer” the off target shots, follow up tracking jobs, and empty game poles bother you immensely.  We, as hunters, owe it to the game we pursue to be lethal and proficient concerning a clean quick kill.  We also are aware that “in reality” there are those times when circumstances don’t play out according to plan.

In a hunting career that spans some 52 years I have two “Dark Side” memories that bother me to no end!  Once on a Quebec bear hunt I hit a 500 pound plus boar, but missed the lungs.  We tracked that bear into the wee hours of the morning until he reached a wet nasty swamp.  We lost the blood trail, and lost that bear.  The guide knew he was mortally wounded, and was certain with the help of his dog we would retrieve this animal.  At three in the morning, as the lanterns grew dim, we called off the search, and a feeling arose in the pit of my stomach that can never be totally removed.  The disappointment  and anguish over leaving this magnificent animal to the wolves and other forest creatures made me consider taking up other pursuits.  The second incident took place on a Colorado elk hunt when I arrowed a big 5×5 with a well placed lung shot.  The heavy ribs kept the arrow from full (double lung) penetration, but I felt this bull was mine!  We only had one day left on the hunt and after tracking him about 1/4 mile we ran out of blood.  We spent several hours trying to pick up a trail, but he seemed to vanish in thin air.  On the flight home, the next day I had a light bulb moment, and could not believe that three seasoned hunters made a rookie mistake in tracking this bull.  The reason we couldn’t find his trail is because he turned around and back-tracked on us leaving blood on both sides of the trail.  We mistakenly felt the arrow “worked” its way through, and that was why we were finding blood on both sides of the game trail.  If we would of followed the trail back this bull would of been recovered.  A ranch hand found his carcass months later on a ridge not far from where we started our tracking job!  He had provided food for the mountain lions, coyotes, and crows, but left me with anxious thoughts, as I replayed the “what if’s” in my fragile mind!

There I said it-it’s out of the closet, and will never bother me again!  Yeh right!  These “Dark Side” memories will never be fully eradicated, and actually shouldn’t be.  They should serve as a constant reminder to every hunter that our goal is always an ethical shot, a quick clean kill, and reverence for the hunt.  It’s a privilege to be called a hunter, and not a right.  It takes allot of practice, sweat, and toil to be a “good hunter”  and that is something we should all try to be, so we keep those Dark Side memories at a minimum!

Birds of a Different Feather Flock Together

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

It is a rare sight indeed to see a white turkey, but to have both a white and a bronze coloration in the same flock is a treat most will never see.  The second picture shows the whole flock (about 45 birds) with the white and the bronze bird feeding with all of the others.  The first picture shows the beauty of the bronze colored bird, and the third shows the white feathered hen.

These pictures were taken on the property I hunt, by the landowner.  I do not want to divulge the name or whereabouts for obvious reasons.  My son and I both have Spring permits, but I think both these birds will be “off limits.”  In examining close ups it appears the white bird is a hen and were almost certain the bronze is also a hen.  A couple birds in the flock appear to have segments of the bronze coloration, and they may well be Jakes.  There are a couple really mature Toms, and that’s what we’ll be after, but it would be nice to get some more good pictures of these beautiful rare birds.  Thanks Ruth for sending me these fantastic photo’s-you did good.

Deer Going Home-Be Careful

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

All over the state of Michigan deer have been heading “home!”  We probably don’t think about this aspect in a deers life, but during the winter months most deer “yard up.”  That is they usually migrate to an area that has food, cover, and an element of safety concerning predators.

We have a huge marsh area here in Monroe county that covers most of our eastern boundary.  It butts right up to Lake Erie, and the deer love to congregate there during the winter months.  Of course not all deer “yard up” just as not all people go to Florida in the winter; some do tough it out.

Once the weather breaks, these “bunched up” deer start heading back to their home range.  That’s where the problem comes in.  It kind of reminds me of the “rut!”  Most car/deer accidents take place during the rut, but it’s probably safe to say that the winter yarding transition time runs a close second.

My son-in-law Tony lives parallel to the Erie Marsh, and during his drive to work yesterday morning he hit a deer.  Or should I say a deer hit him?  The deer ran into the side of his Focus, broke off the mirror, flipped over the top of the car, and sprawled out on the highway.  It then crawled into a ditch and eventually got into a cut corn field where Tony lost sight of it.  In the top picture he’s inspecting the damage to his car.  It wasn’t as bad as it could of been.  A broken mirror, a few scratches, and a small dent on the bottom of the door is far better than many drivers experience when they have an encounter with a deer.

He called the police so he could make a report for his insurance company, and also called me to see if I wanted the deer.  I hurriedly got dressed and headed out to retrieve the deer.  With flashlights in tow we traversed the 20 acre corn field to no avail.  The deer had made it to the safety of the woods.  Deer are tough hombres!  They are the original Timex watch.  “They take a licking and keep on ticking!”  Who knows this deer may end up coyote food, or he may actually survive his “run-in” with a 3000 pound vehicle.

The point is that there are two other deer carcasses within a quarter mile of Tony’s close encounter.  They are heading home, and their getting killed and injured.  Sometimes it’s not just the deer that gets hurt, but people can, and are, also victims in car/deer accidents.  So please be aware that the deer are headed home for Spring, and they may be heading in your direction!

Mike

Golf, Toads, and Birthdays!

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Golf. toads, and birthdays!  Those are a few of the things my day consisted of yesterday, as we enjoyed another day of warmth and sunshine.  I started the day with 18 holes of golf, with my son Micah, at Green Meadows Golf Course.  He hasn’t played in two years, while I already have 7 games under my belt this year (six in Florida.)  I was going to teach this young pup a lesson or two, but instead relearned the  age old adage that youth, strength, and speed will beat old, week, and slow every time!  Our score was tied going into the 18th hole.  I duffed a shot, and he moved in for the kill!  I lost the round by a stroke.  Oh well it was good to spend time with my son, even if I was the one being taught a lesson (humility.)

Early in the afternoon my wife wanted the yard cleaned up, cars washed, and garaged cleaned.  While raking leaves around the front porch we awakened a toad, who hopped over to the driveway to avoid the intrusion of his winter home.  He made his way over to the water, from washing the cars, and seemed to be just “chill-in out” for awhile.  I think nature is cool no matter what the species, and you can always learn something if you have a mind to.

Yesterday also was my youngest daughters (Courtney’s) birthday.  We took her and her two daughters (Ava and Addisyn) out for dinner at Dolce-Vita’s Italian Restaurant.  Micah and his fiance Heather joined us, and after-wards we came home and watched the movie “Secretariat.”  I was pleasantly surprised by the film, and think it’s one of the best we’ve ever seen.  Great (true) story that will educate and entertain you concerning one of our nations sporting legends.  His handler called him “Big Red” but the world knew him as Secretariat.  We will continue Courtney’s birthday celebration Sunday, when all the family is present.

Prisident Obama’s Latest Call for Gun Control

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

I don’t quite know how to react to President Obama’s latest comments concerning “gun control.”  He has been chiding US lawmakers to tackle the divisive issue, sighting the Tucson shooting that killed six people, and wounded US congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords.  President Obama is calling for “common sense” concerning gun control as a way to make our nation safer and stronger.

It would seem to me that there are some definite lapses in our state, and national background check systems.  After all how could a man rejected by the Army as unfit for service; a man branded by his college professors as unstable, a man bent on mayhem and violence, walk into a gun shop and purchase a gun?   Obama said that our background check system is “often incomplete and inadequate.  We must do better.”  I don’t agree with a whole lot this President says, but I’ll have to agree with him on that!  He went on to say that the states need to produce better data that it passes along to the federal government.

I’m not really reading  allot into the Presidents comments as a rallying point for the anti second amendment rights gang.  Actually I think it was a bit tame when you compare it to some of his rhetoric during his Presidential campaign.  I wouldn’t want to be mesmerized on this issue just from these few comments, and then get “hit” between the eyes, as I fall asleep thinking everything is alright in Washington.  So I for one will sit back and see where the President takes the dialogue from here.  Hopefully he may be moving a little to “center” as far as our Constitutional right to bear arms is concerned.  We shall see.

Mike

Where Are You Building Your House?

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

When I went to bed Thursday evening all the snow was gone.  It had rained most of the day, and temperatures were in the low 40’s.  When I woke up Friday morning a blanket of fresh white snow was back!  I was really bummed out, and started complaining about the weather, and all the snow we’ve had this year, then I turned the t.v. on.

Reports were pouring in about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and I soon realized,  just how blessed I truly was.  The snow will be gone in a few days, but the devastation suffered by those unfortunate souls in Japan will not soon go away.

I have seen many of the amateur video’s from this disaster, and it’s almost like watching an apocalyptic movie.  A wall of water 30 feet high moving hundreds of miles an hour is hard to comprehend.  Lives lost, families broken, homes, businesses, farms, and even lands swept away in seconds.  Infrastructure gone, rivers inundated, fires raging, and dry land now buried under the sea, makes my 3 inches of snow so insignificant that I feel guilty for complaining.

Makes one realize we are not really in charge of things on this little green planet.  All our plans, dreams, and aspirations, can be “swept” away in a moments time.    Life is oh so fragile!   Tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes, terrorist seem to be part of our daily lives anymore.  If a person doesn’t have a belief system to stand on, these could be very “fearful” days to be living in.

In the bible (Matthew 7:24-27) it says ”  Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a man who built his house on a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”  “Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was the fall.”  Faith is the opposite of fear, and Jesus repeats over and over again in scripture to “fear not!”  Faith helps me to believe what Romans 8 : 37-38 says “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of god which is in Christ Jesus the Lord.”  To the true Christian believer this life is only temporary as eternity waits with open arms.

May all who read this be blessed with a measure of love, truth, and faith.

Mike

Michigan Ask Hunters: Help Eliminate Feral Swine

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Many years ago I went on a boar hunting trip to Tennessee.  The picture is of me and younger brother Darryl with my boar.  We were so far back into the hills and hollers that the moonshiners were running stills in the area.  That was my first encounter with free range wild boar, and we were all impressed at the aggressive nature of the beast.  Out of the five of us hunting, two were charged, and one dog was slashed pretty bad by the ill tempered pigs.

My brother Randy had to shoot straight down, as he ducked behind a tree, with the hog in hot pursuit.  Thankfully he hit the spine and stopped the 220 pound boar in its tracks.  Randy Redmond put 3 rifle slugs in a charging boars chest, and dropped him only a few feet away.

The reason I bring up this hunt is because of the problem that now exist in many parts of the United States.  Wild hogs, feral pigs, Eurasian boar; whatever the blood-line are at epidemic levels in many states.  Could Michigan end up like Florida, or Texas, or California some day?  Texas has over 2,000,000 feral hogs wrecking havoc in the Lone Star State, and Florida isn’t far behind.  Last week, while vacationing in Florida I saw two wild boar, in an area where there wasn’t supposed to be any.   A female wild boar can produce three litters of piglets in a 14 month period.  You can see that in just a couple years time how the population would skyrocket.  Pigs are omnivores and eat anything and everything in sight.  This includes farm crops, ground nesting bird eggs, baby fawns, plant roots, and anything else that has the misfortune to cross their path.  They make wallows in farm fields, change the course of small streams, and uproot  crops.  They carry disease and are harmful to humans and domestic animals.  They are an ecological disaster wherever they are allowed to proliferate.

Several years ago I was one of a few voices trying to sound the alarm here in Michigan.  I talked with DNR directors, the Dept. of Agriculture, and wrote a feature article for our local paper.  In fact I even shot a feral hog just a few hundred yards from my Monroe County home.  I reported my encounter to the Department of Natural Resources, but for whatever reason it was never recorded in a statewide survey of boar sightings/kills!

Well it now appears that the Michigan DNR is doing something about this invasive species of destruction.  It is now legal to kill feral swine in any county in Michigan so long as you posses a valid hunting license.  Go to www.michigan.gov/dnr for all the pertinent information on Michigan’s wild boar problem.  While your on the site watch the video clip done by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.  It’s called “a pickup load of pigs.”  Do Michigan a favor and shoot “on sight” any swine you may encounter.  If we don’t get a handle on this problem now-we will pay deer-ly in the future!

Mike

From Englewood Beach To Reality!

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Hard to believe that this was me just a week ago, standing in the surf, with my brother Brad.  Even though we forgot our bathing suits, we stripped down to our shorts, and took a dip in the gulf.  It felt good, as the temperatures were in the lower 80’s and the water was cool and inviting.  I picked up some nice sea shells for the grandkids on our little beach walk.  Many people were enjoying the water, beach, and gulf breeze as they recreated on the white sandy ocean front.

Michigan and it’s cold snowy days were the farthest thing from my mind, as I just enjoyed this temporary moment in time.  Actually I was reminded of Michigan on many occasions while in Florida.  I had a couple University of Michigan shirts and a U.of M. hat that I wore on many of our excursions.  People would holler from their cars “Go blue,” and stop me on the street to talk about where they were from in Michigan.  I even had a family from Toledo Ohio start razzing me about Ohio’s dominance of Michigan over the last several years.  People were friendly and genuinely seemed to be enjoying life.  Of course why wouldn’t they be smiling, as they envisioned their neighbors buried under mounds of snow and bundled up against the winds cold winter bite!  We even met people that knew people that we knew!  What a small world we live in.  I think if you go back far enough you’ll find were all related.

Anyway here I sit less than a week after bouncing golf balls off of palm trees, rubbing in sun tan oil, and sleeping with the air conditioner on. I’m now turning up the thermostat, shoveling the remnants of the last storm, and realizing that I still have several more months before I can enjoy those same temperatures in Michigan!  Oh well at least I had a one week reprieve from the harsh reality of a Michigan winter, and I am truly thankful for that.

Heron Creek Golf & Country Club-What Great Memories

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

IMG_8014My younger brother Brad just returned from another golfing vacation to Florida.  He went there after playing for three weeks in colorado! My he is loving his semi-retirement years.  I can’t wait for my hip to heal and I can get back in the “swing” of things. Five years ago I was in Florida with brother Randy, Brad, and family friend Norm Sauer. What great memories I have of the trip and playing on one of the most impressive and beautiful courses I have ever played!

That would be the “Heron Creek Golf and Country Club.”  It consist of three 18 hole courses called the “oaks,” “marsh,” and the “creek.”  It may well be the highest above sea level course in all of Florida.  Of course the hills were not “naturally” there, as they were actually at one time a land fill.  You would never know it now, as the flora and fauna along with the buildings and grounds are breathtaking.  It has a guarded gate, so your name better be on the guest list.

Once inside the gate we were able to find a parking spot, and were immediately greeted by an attendant and a starter.  We were given a quick over view of the grounds, and the started took our names and said he would call us at our start time.  We checked out the pro shop, lounge, and men’s locker room.  They had showers with towels, sun screen lotion, shaving kits, and water on ice, at your disposal.  Talk about feeling pampered.

At exactly 9:35 a.m. our names were called to “T” off.  Even with the course crawling with “well healed” members and guest we were spaced out perfectly with the group ahead of us and behind us.  What a well managed course.  The staff was not uppity or snobbish, but quite friendly and very helpful.  Our round of golf cost $78 “smackers,” but considering the sheer elegance and beauty of the course it was worth ever penny of it.

While playing we saw, and heard, many birds, and even snapped a picture of this big “gator!”  If your ever in the North Port Florida, and like to golf, give this challenging course a try.  Even if you don’t break 100 (I didn’t) it is worth it just to say “you did it!”  FORE!!