Archive for June, 2012

Fishes, Kisses, and Loons

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Why are these little girls smiling?  Could it be because reeling in a fish, and actually landing him, will do that to you?  No doubt about it!  Ava and Addisyn had a blast catching some perch and rock bass this past weekend at the cabin.

The girls cousin Kyle was out in a boat with his mom and dad, but the girls caught more fish from the bank.  Addy got the “biggest” fish award with her 9″ perch, and Ava caught 5 rock bass.

The weather was great, and the scenery was awesome.  We were hoping to hear, and see, the Loons again, but the activity on the lake had them hiding.  My wife was disappointed, but just as we were getting ready to leave the true call of the northwoods drifted across the calm waters.  The serenade of the elusive Loon reminded us that we were just visitors to this remote part of Northern Michigan.

I tried to get the girls to “kiss” and release their first fish, but they had to see me do it first.  Well knucklehead “Papa” put a “smooch” on a perch, but the girls refused to follow.  In fact later that evening they wouldn’t kiss me good night, because my lips had touched a fishes lips!  How yucky is that?

Turkey Season 2012

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Francesca Ansel  and Makaylee Smiley are cousins and fellow turkey huntresses.  They stomped around the woods on several different occasions following grandpa Darryl’s directions, but came up empty handed this year.  They heard birds, and Makaylee even had a big Tom 20 yards away, but couldn’t get in possession for a shot.  That didn’t seem to matter to the girls, as they had a great time in the woods and always enjoy being around grandpa.

Speaking of grandpa; that’s him in the top right picture holding the fan of his big Gobbler.  Eleven inch “plus” beard and 1-1/4 inch spurs makes for some nice pictures of a very mature bird.

The young fellow in the bottom right is Tristan Ansel posing with his huge Tom.  Tristan is becoming an old hand at bagging big birds.  His bird had a 10 inch beard, plus one inch spurs, and weighed near 23 pounds.  He loves his little 20 gauge, as does his grandpa Darryl.

On the bottom left is another (not so young fellow) with the smallest bird of the group.  I had a rough year this turkey season, and hope I don’t repeat it any time soon.  This is the only Tom I remotely had a chance at tagging, and when the opportunity presented itself I took the shot.  No 20 gauge for this guy!  I use a 12 gauge model 870 Remington chambered for 3-1/2 inch shells.  It has never failed me, but then I don’t have to have them right in my lap either!  It will reach out and touch someone (Mr. Tom that is.)

Darryl’s buddy Dan got a bird hunting with Darryl, and my son-in-law Tony took a nice bird, but our season wasn’t as good as in the past years.  We had several tags go unfilled, even though we hunted hard.  Maybe the birds are getting smarter.  In the north woods there just didn’t seem to be the numbers of birds, as there are in the lower part of the state.  It’s never a sure thing or a done deal, and that’s why they call it hunting.  Actually getting a bird is just icing on the cake for a true blue turkey hunter anyway.  Ninety percent of the fun is all about the “trip” and not the destination!

Mike

Eat My Dust!

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

This is a picture of the “dirt bike duo” after their return from trail number nine.  This O.R.V. trail goes right by my cabin, and you can go for many miles in all directions through the Huron National Forest.  Son-in-law Mark is an experienced rider, and grandson Quinn has been on 4-wheelers and motorcycles since he was 6 years old.  If you click on the picture, and enlarge it, you’ll see who was eating who’s dust!  Quinn looks like he has a good goatee started, but its just dust from the trail.  They could use some rain in Northern Michigan, just like the rest of the state.

About two miles from the cabin there’s a big sand hill that the guys (and gals) like to play on.  It’s one of the only hills left in the area that hasn’t been “blocked” off by the D.N.R.  Every 4-wheeler, motorcycle, a.t.v. or other motorized vehicle has to have a state o.r.v. sticker to legally ride the trails.  It’s a little disappointing that “the hills” keep getting shut down, but o.r.v. stickers keep going up!

The forth of July weekend promises to be a fun one at camp, with many from my family planning on doing some riding and rafting.  I’m starting to acquire some float tubes and we now have five 4-wheelers and two dirt bikes in the family.  I just hope we don’t chase all the deer to the other side of the state, with all the commotion we’ll be making.  Hey hopefully it will be nothing but the sounds of laughter, and good family times together as we enjoy our Michigan summer.

Mike

 

Porcupine Family

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

As you can see; this could be a prickly situation.  I came across this family of porcupines while out riding my 4-wheeler.  I’m assuming the biggest one (climbing high in the tree) is the male.  It would seem that the mother is sticking close to the baby, in order to protect the little guy.  The baby has a few quills, and momma has a whole bunch of weapons.  The big one did not appear to have as many quills, but seemed to have more fur than the others.

Nevertheless these guys are nothing to fool with.  Porcupine quills have a barb on the end, and they do not pull out easily.  We once had a dog that got a snout full of quills, and it was a sorry mess trying to get them out.  The barb has to be snipped off, and then it can be pulled out.  If the bard cannot be reached it’s time to see a veterinarian.  Porcupine quills were used extensively by Native Americans for decorations, sewing, and headdresses.  They were also used to write with in the early days of our nation.

I’ve heard that the porcupine was considered survival food by the explores and mountain men of old.  They are slow moving creatures, and can be easily caught if need be.  Whan I was a teenager a friend and I camped one winter, and were on the verge of starving, when I came across a porcupine.  I shot it, and we skinned the critter, and proceeded to cook it.  It was probably the worst tasting wild thing I have ever eaten.  A person would have to be on the edge of dying, before such fare could be consumed, as far as I’m concerned.  Now I just enjoy watching these lumbering creatures, as they go about their business of being their prickly selves!

Michigan’s Gray Treefrog

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

This is a Gray Treefrog that I found near my cabin woodpile.  There are two species found in Michigan which are the Eastern and the Cope’s.  They are very similar in appearance and habits, so I’m not sure which one this is.

These frogs have large sticky toe pads and can climb just about anything, including your arm!  I found that out first hand, right after he peed on me.  Hey I invaded his space, so I asked for it.

The frog can change to gray, green, or brown according to the environment or activity.  There is a little swatch of yellow on the white underside.  No frog leg dinners from this little guy, as they only grow to about 2 inches in length.

We have a couple around our house in Monroe, so I already knew about the sound they make.  Almost sounds like a bird when they sing their short musical “trill.”  During breeding season, and on warm summer nights you can hear them serenade their prospective mate.  The sound is quite different from that of a bullfrogs croak!

These frogs actually make pretty good pets, but they need alot of space, humidity, and things to climb, not to mention a little water.  As is usually the case though, it’s best to leave nature right where you find it.  Mosquitoes are on  this frogs menu, so its always nice to have them around singing to you an evening song, as they eat their dinner.

Some may live their whole life in Michigan and never come across these shy little creatures of the woodlands.  If you do I’m sure you’ll enjoy the encounter, and you may even get a big “trill” out of it!

Mike

My New Amish Build Bunk House

Friday, June 8th, 2012

This is LaVerne and Mike delivering my new Amish made bunkhouse from North Star Storage Barns in Mio.  It was quite an operation as they had to haul this 12 x 26 foot structure about 250 foot down a winding drive.  I had to take three more trees down in order to clear one corner, but once set in place, it was solid as a rock, and level to boot.  The excavator did a good job of getting the sight prepared, and you can see my new fire-pit is up an burning also.  I put a 12 x 6 foot deck on the front, so you can sit on the screened in porch, or swat mosquitoes on the outside deck!

I also rototilled another food plot and planted it.  Did some more work on the existing plot, and cemented in my front gate post.  I also stained the new deck, and dug a small trench.  I did find time to take one ride on my four wheeler, and finally found the “big” sand hill everyone has told me about.  Saw a family of porcupines, and quite a few deer tracks, but still hardly any turkey evidence.  Every muscle in this old body was mad at me, but sometimes you just have to “suck it up” and do it.  Three days of “bustin” butt, and the work has just begun.  That’s ok though, as it’s a different story when it’s your own self your working for.

Mike

Fun Hunting Tips by Makaylee Smiley

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Boy here’s a story that will warm the heart of any hunter.  Pictured is my nephew (Scott Smiley) with his daughter Makaylee, who happens to be my great-niece.  She hunted my ground blind last year, and took this fat deer with her brand new 243!  I already wrote a blog about her hunt, but what I didn’t know, is that she wrote a book, about her hunt, for a “young authors” assignment.

On the inside cover she dedicated the book to her dad and me, which made me quite proud.  The title of her story is “Fun Hunting Tips.”  The first part of the book tells about her first hunt, and shooting her first deer.  Makaylee said ” I was so excited to shoot my first deer.  Once you shoot your first deer, you feel like you have to do it again and again!”  Wow!  I felt the same way50 years ago when I shot my first deer.  The more things change the more they stay the same.  She then talked about equipment and safety (very important stuff.)  She explained the difference between bucks, does, and fawns, and has her sights set on a “really” big buck this year with big “antlers.”

Mac I’m afraid you are a confirmed deer hunter.  Not even eleven years old and your looking to put a big one on the wall.  Your a “hoot” girl!  She even explained the various kinds of blinds deer hunters use, and proper shot placement (right behind the front shoulder.)  Tracking she handled like a pro.  In conclusion Mac stated that “hunting takes alot of patience, and lots of preparation.  This little huntress hit a home run with her very well written book about deer hunting.  It does an old hunters heart good to know there are some young hunters out there, who have a fire and compassion toward “the hunt!”  Not only that, but what better way to recruit new hunters into the fold than by the wonderful testimony from their own mouths.  Thanks Mac for a classic about deer and deer hunting.  Your the best!

Mike

 

Ken’s Big Bird!

Friday, June 1st, 2012

The grin on Ken Currie’s face is almost as wide as the turkeys tail fan!  Hey you would be all smiles too if you put a Tom on the ground the size of this one.

Ken owns a place not far from mine in Luzerne.  He shot this gobbler in Hillsdale though, as his buddy Dave Marcum made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Dave was seeing this huge Tom while scouting his 40 acres, and had him pretty well patterned, so he could become a Thanksgiving dinner!  Dave certainly could of taken this bird himself, but he’s at the stage of his hunting career, where he gets more enjoyment out of seeing others be successful in the field.  It doesn’t hurt that Dave is an excellent turkey caller either, but this morning Ken was on his own.

Dave placed Ken on his property then headed to another farm for his own hunt.  Ken’s decoy was set, and the night before had watched a you-tube video about calling turkeys.  He started calling early and had some gobblers respond from a wood line about 300 yards away.  Things got quiet in a hurry, and Ken was wondering if it was going to happen today.  Two hens appeared about 100 yards away, but were not interested in Kens calling.  Before he could get to disappointed a huge Tom came on a dead run toward Ken’s set-up.  He hardly had time to pull up his shotgun, draw a bead, and drop this record book Tom.  Ken’s first turkey had an 11-1/4 inch beard, 1-1/4 inch hooked spurs, and weighed over 22 pounds!  Ken said he had the same “rush” that he gets when drawing down on a big buck.  Ken you will be an avid turkey hunter for the rest of your life.  By the way Dave Marcum had told Ken to watch for this bird around 7:00 a.m. and that’s exactly the time Ken dropped him!

Dave that was a commendable thing for you to do, but you and your dad were well taken care of a few days later.  See my recent post on the Marcum, father and son teams, turkey success.  Congratulations to you Ken on an outstanding representative of Michigan’s Eastern Wild Turkey.  Your bird is the biggest one reported to me this year out of around 25 gobblers.  Looks like  this year-You are “The Man!”

Mike