Archive for July, 2012

Vacation Highlights

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Just returned from 5 days at the cabin in Northern Michigan.  My oldest daughter Tara, my wife, and two of the grand-kids went along.  Jay and Kyle are pictured showing off their “whopper” fish that we caught at the Mio pond.  It was catch and release for us, but as sometimes happens one of the perch swallowed the small hook, and it kind of just was floating on the surface of the water when released.  Just 15 feet from us a huge northern pike snatched the floating perch and then sped by us (smiling I’m sure!)  From what I could see it was a very nice pike.

We continued to fish and caught a few more perch and sunfish before we packed it up and headed back to camp for lunch.  Once there Kyle asked me why I didn’t hook one of those perch on, and try and catch that big pike?  Duh!  Yes why didn’t I?  Missed a golden opportunity that time!  I got to start listening to those 7 year old fishing experts more often.

Rain is still a major issue in the north woods, as things continue to dry up.  Lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes are all well below normal for this time of year.  My food plot looks like a hay field, and the blueberry crop is non existent.  Same here at home in Monroe.  At least I haven’t had to cut the grass in a couple weeks.

The bear returns, fawns in the front yard, and bucks in the food plot are on the menu for the next few blogs.


Summer Ball Winding Down

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Here in Monroe county it’s the end of the summer baseball/softball season.  The culmination from each age group (league) is the year end All Star game.

Grand-daughter Ava Taylor made the team, as she did last year, and was two for two in her “at bats.”  Papa has been practicing with her on a semi regular basis, and Ava is exhibiting a powerful swing.  She had several home runs this year, and only made four “outs” for the whole season.  That’s her kneeling in the front row-second from the right.

She had a great time meeting new friends, but this summers heat was a bit much for all of us.  The evening of the All Star game the heat index was over 100 degrees.  The umpires shortened the game to four innings, to everyone’s glee.  My wife and I couldn’t wait to get back to our air conditioned house.

The next evening we did it again, as grandson Kyle Pafford played his All Star game.  Kyle had four hits, and was outstanding in the field.  Summer ball is over, but wait!  Fall ball is just around the corner!  I’ll tell you one thing about retirement or a large family-it isn’t boring.


Doe Permits and QDM (Quality Deer Management)

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has just issued the total number of doe permits that will be available for this seasons deer harvest.  637,900 private land permits and 70,750 public land permits will total 708,650, which is actually down 47,550 doe permits from last year.  To me that is a staggering number of doe permits!  The quota is down some 23,000 permits in the northern lower, which includes my area around Mio.  That doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit, as deer numbers (over all) have plummeted from the glory days of yesteryear.  I conceivably could have bought at least 5 doe permits last year, and maybe more.  That’s crazy!

In a recent DNR report it was stated that Michigan hunters are wanted to see more and bigger bucks, so QDM (Quality Deer Management) would seem to be the answer to achieve that goal.  In a recent letter I received from the Department of Natural Resources they are encouraging hunters to pass a buck and shoot a doe.  I understand their thinking, but my family and I like seeing deer around the cabin, and it would seem that 708,650 dead doe would be a mighty drain on this “natural resource!”  On the other hand we passed on several small bucks last year, and shot several does, and are now seeing more (and bigger) bucks this year.  Nomatter which side of the fence your on, it should be a good year to put some tasty venison back straps in the freezer this coming fall.


The Return of Bucky?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Could this be the “return of “Bucky” our friendly little three pointer from last year?  I’m not sure, but this deer has been showing up around the cabin on a regular basis, just like Bucky did last year.  This picture was taken at 9:00 p.m. so there was still some daylight for us to see him.  I think Bucky’s horns could have improved from three points to this soon to be eight point, but in this area the big racked bucks are few and far between.  Actually this deer will be a very respectable deer for my area.

I had about ten different bucks around my place last year, and we did not harvest any of them, so maybe we can improve on that number this year.  This is definitely a shooter buck, but if it is Bucky does he get a free pass this year also?  Honestly if he’s as friendly as the deer was last season I will have to let him walk.  My wife, kids, and grandkids would string me up if I put Bucky in the freezer.  Only time will tell.

It is still super dry and my food plot has all but vanished.  Just no way to water it, so things are shriveling up fast.  I’m going to have to replant it at the end of August.


Should We Just Grin and Bear it?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Last year my son-in-law Tony Russo saw a bear cross the road about 150 yards from my camp.  I had not seen any sign, tracks, droppings, to lead me to believe that Tony’s bear sighting was anything more than one wandering through the area.  Well I may have to change my mind on that assumption!

The bear in the trail cam picture was captured not 50 feet from my front door.  My burn barrel was what caught his interest, as I had put some fish guts wrapped in newspaper in it last week.  Obviously not a good idea!

This is a mature bear.  I’ve seen quite a few of them in the wilds, and this is a 250-300 pound bear.  The snout does not have the more pointed nose of a younger bear, but has the flatter face of an adult bear.  As luck would have it I did not draw a bear tag this year.  Not that it mattered, as I have always put in for the Gwinn unit of the Upper Peninsula.  Looks like I may have found a new bear area, but my wife, kids, and grandkids aren’t to happy about that either.  Probably not a good idea to have this guy hanging around the cabin, especially if he’s hungry.  Hey bear go bother Goldy-Locks will ya?

“Tag Your It!”

Friday, July 13th, 2012

This is a picture of my “grown-up” family.  A lovely wife, five beautiful daughters, and my good looking son, along with my oldest grandson Quinn.  Just last week most of us were at my cabin up north, enjoying the hot summer weather.

My oldest daughter is over forty, and the second one is right behind her.  I am sixty five, and the four grand kids present range from three to thirteen.  The reason I mention this is because one evening (just at dusk) they started playing “hide and seek.”  It was fun and heart warming for me to watch my older children interact with the grand- kids, as they laughed and squealed with delight, chasing one another around the cabin.

It didn’t take them long to pull Papa into the shenanigans, and I loved every minute of it.  Memories came flooding back as I closed my eyes and counted five-ten-fifteen-twenty!  I spotted the blond head of my oldest daughter hiding behind the gas grill.  It took me back decades when she was a blond headed six year old playing the same game with her dad.  Chasing them around the camp (and actually out running them) just about done me in, but what fun we had.  The little guys and girls didn’t want to quit when darkness settled in, but for safety sake we had to join the others around the camp fire.

As I looked into the glowing embers my mind drifted back to the easy going days of yesteryear.  Hop-scotch, jacks, climbing trees, mud-pies, kick the can, pin the tail on the donkey, and playing outside till the street lights came on, are just distant memories anymore.  Now the kids have cell phones, x-boxes, personal computers, pin numbers, DVD’s, chat rooms, Facebook, and twitter.  Honestly I feel sorry for the kids growing up today in this high tech government regulated world.

Thanks for the memories kids.  I will always cherish your mad dash to run me down Tara, and the sheer look of glee on your face Alena, as we were transported back some 35 years.  For about an hour there was not one single cell phone ringing, or Game-Boy dinging, and in my book that’s a good thing!  “Hey gotcha your it!”


4th. of July at Camp

Monday, July 9th, 2012

It’s summer time and the fishing is easy.  Sounds like the words to an old song I know.  Son-in-law Glen and I took Kyle and Jacob fishing as we wound down our 4th of July festivities at the cabin.  These are some pretty nice red eared sunfish, and they are going to be very tasty to some lucky fish lover.  The boys wanted to fix them right away, but the women had other plans.  Like dinner at “Lost Creek Sky Ranch” near Luzerne.  Sorry boys the sunfish will have to wait!

We fished a little pond near my cabin, but the water levels are very low, and “bank” fishing was hard, to say the least.  I ended up wading, and so did Jacob.  Once he got a blood sucker on his ankle that was the end of him wading.  I landed a small bass and a nice sized perch as well, but we needed a canoe to fish this lake proper.

We also did some four wheeling, and tubed the Ausable river.  Our friends (Ed and Linda Ponzy) worked on the electric for the new cabin, as I finished the plumbing.  It’s starting to take shape.  Still a lot of work to be done, but there’s always next week end.  Saw one really nice eight point and two big does on the property.  The lack of rain has just about done my food plots in, but were hoping for some moisture Wednesday!  It’s always nice being at camp, but it’s also good to be home.


One Down Ten to Go!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

One down and 10 more to go!  High school graduation parties that is.  That’s my oldest grandchild Quinn Russo, with his arm around my wife, standing amongst my five lovely daughters and son Micah.  Quinn’s proud mother (Alena) is seated in front of him.

We had a good day for a graduation party, as we didn’t get any rain, but it was extremely hot.  The pool was open and many of the kids brought their swim suits, and used them.  I wanted to jump in myself, but waited till most of the guest left.

Quinn will be attending Michigan Tech. this coming fall.  He was an honors graduate, wrestled, played golf, was in student government, and received several art awards.  He’s also a great musician (plays in a band) and is a computer nerd!  We are all proud of him and wish him the best, as he starts this new chapter in his life’s journey.  The college is located in Houghton/Hancock Michigan where the snow rises to the rooftops in the winter time.  It is also good bear country!  Quinn just consider this as an advance expeditionary scouting party for your favorite ole Papa, so I can visit often.  You better learn how to cross country ski when going from class to class.  I don’t think your snowboard will work for that!   Love Ya Buddy.


The Power of a Perfect Campfire

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

There is just something about the warmth and glow that comes from the “perfect” campfire.  Most of us guys take pride in our ability to make a good campfire.  In fact not just a good bonfire, but one that everyone oh’s and ay’s over.  It has to be one that can handle smores that are golden brown, or cook a steak rare to medium well.  If your not using the flame to cook anything there must be mesmerizing red hot coals to peer into.

I don’t know about you, but I can (sometimes) fall asleep as I stare into the fiery furnace of those middle coals.  They can be spell binding, and mysterious at times.  Various colored flames, varying swirls of smoke, and embers that constantly change form can entertain you, as you let your mind drift around the primordial campfire!

Of course if there is a group sitting around the fire conversation comes naturally.  Sometimes stories are told, adventures are rehashed, and relational bonds are deepened.  The campfire is always a good place for therapy.  It’s soothing and thought provoking, as well as a great remover of inhibitions.  On the other hand if you are alone beside the orange and yellow glow of dying embers, your imagination is free to go anywhere it desires.  To me this kind of time is reflective and almost reverent.  As I peer into the flames I can also peer into myself, and almost always come away with some kind of insight into my life, or the lives of those around me.

I am looking forward to this upcoming week when a roaring campfire will be the order of each evening.  We will marvel at the canopy of twinkling stars, and be reminded that God made them for our enjoyment and pleasure.