This has been a pretty inactive winter for me. I haven’t been out “playing” in the snow as usual, primarily because there hasn’t been much snow. What there has been is a lot of reminiscing about past good times with my family.
I am the second of six boys born to Norm and Betty Ansel. My dad was raised on a farm here in Monroe County. The old farm still stands, even though it’s well over 100 years old. My dad hunted, trapped, and enjoyed the outdoors as a young man. Back then you supplemented the food supply with what you brought home from the woods and water. My dad would tell us tales of the “runs” of fish that would come up the creeks in the spring. There was an abundance of suckers, carp, and even northern pike that would end up on a dinner plate in those days. Rabbit, squirrel, and pheasant were a normal item on the grocery list. Muskrat, weasel, and an occasional mink pelt brought in that much needed income during the “lull” of the winter winds! In fact muskrat was one of the staple foods during those trapping days. My dad used to fix the muskrats that we would trap as kids. I remember them being fixed in a corn mixture with the “rat” being cooked whole (head minus the tail) in the oven.
My dads dad (my grandfather) Charles lost the farm during “The Great Depression.” The family moved into town, and grandpa died at a early age. My dad quit school,and got a job, like most young men had to do in those tough days. He joined the National Guard at 16 (lied about his age) and ended up serving in the Pacific during World War II. He had married my mother before going overseas, and resumed his life here in Monroe after his discharge. He handed down his love, of the hunt, to his six sons, and the memories from those years I will cherish forever.
The picture was taken on one of our traditional deer hunts. We never owned a cabin or any land. We always rented a place to stay, and hunted state land around Lewiston Michigan. Bucks were few and far between, and oh what a celebration there would be when we strung one up on the game pole. Of course there were those years when four, five, or even six deer made that old pole sag, and made our hunting season a “legend” in our own minds! I vividly remember every buck my dad shot, and three of his sons have mounted bucks on their wall today. What an honor for me to be one of those sons. Hunting for the Ansel’s was always a family affair, as my mother was camp cook for a week. Thank God we all took pictures, and have them to help stir up the memories of those great times together.
Those reading this who had a father teach them the ways of the woods are blessed indeed. Those that didn’t (for whatever reason,) please take the time to pass on your love for the hunt to your children. They will thank you, and remember you with heartfelt love, for sharing your special times with them.