Archive for August, 2012

800 Post and Counting!

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

This post is a milestone of sorts for me.  It is in fact my 800th. post while writing for the Monroe Evening News.  If you would of asked me a few years back if I thought I had that many “post” in me I probably would of said “no.”  I’ve enjoyed writing about our family exploits, but had always hoped to get more input from outside the family.  I enjoy hearing about others experiences in the great outdoors.  Over the years a few acquaintances have keep me “up to date” on their activities, but not as many as I would of liked to have heard from.

I have a vary large family, and many of them hunt and fish, so come fall there seems to be plenty to write about.  I have six children myself and eleven grandchildren, and it’s getting harder to juggle all my grandfatherly responsibilities plus the time and effort that goes into writing .  I am seriously considering “hanging up” the blogging business.  I’m sure I’ll miss it, but I’m also sure I won’t be sitting around twiddling my thumbs!

I average around 50 people per day viewing my blogs which isn’t going to set the world on fire.  I truly appreciate those that are regular readers, and the input several of you have given over the years.  I find that now that we own a cabin up north I am skipping many days between post, which probably isn’t fare to some of my readers.  So I’m going to mull thing over this weekend as we head north again, and see what I come up with.  I’m sure there will be at least a few more good stories in me as hunting season is just around the corner.

The picture above was taken at one of my favorite places in all the world to be-the Baldwin bear camp.  If the bear aren’t cooperating then the “brookies” always do!  Nothing taste better than a skillet full of fresh caught brook trout.  Even though I did not draw a permit this year, I may go to camp just to catch some trout and deep fry them for dinner!  Sounds good to me!

Mike

Elk-Up Close and Personal

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The “Elks Club” has state offices in Gaylord Mi.  They have about one hundred acres fenced in with elk roaming all over the place.  It’s quite a tourist attraction, located within the city limits.  We were within 10 yards of some of these 600 pound monarchs!  There size is impressive, but these elk had all but lost their “wildness”!

This encounter took me back to my one and only Colorado elk hunt.  These wild elk were just entering the first phase of the rut, and trust me, up close and personal took on a whole new meaning.

Six years ago I hunted a 10,000 acre ranch in  the southwest corner of Colorado.  We had been seeing elk every day, as the three of us split up, and hunted the various “honey holes” on the huge spread.  About three days into the hunt I built a ground blind on the edge of a scrub oak thicket surrounded with thorn bushes.  I had placed a camo bucket on the ground and cut a shooting window through the front of the prickly needles.  It was open on the sides, but I still was well concealed by the surrounding scrub oaks.  The elk were using the ridges that surrounded the little flat valley I had set up in.

I arrived at my set up well before the elk were moving to the lower elevation fields.  I started cow calling around 4:00 p.m. and in no time received several responses.  The big 5×5 we had been seeing already had about 20 cows in his harem, but several satellite bulls were eager to try their luck with the “ladies!”  About a half hour had passed when a bull came down the ridge in front of me, and stared in my direction.  He was about 70 yards away, and I could tell he was excited.  I got my bow ready, and made another series of cow calls.  I wasn’t prepared for what happened next!  He ran full tilt and literally crashed into the front of my blind.  Had it not been for the thorns, I would of been trampled to death-or worse!  I crouched as low as I could on the bucket, as the bull circled the blind and stopped 8 feet to my right.  I literally could not move an eyelash.  The young spike bull (2-1/2 foot spikes) glared into the scrub oak behind me.  His eyes were glazed and bloodshot.  Almost as if he’d been on an all night binge!  Long rivers of drool flowed out of his mouth, as his nostrils flared, and he let out a bugle that actually moved leaves around me.  To say I was intimidated would be an understatement.  I wanted to mount an elk, not have one mount me!!  I couldn’t even shoot in self defense, as elk have to carry four point on one side to be legal in that area.  All I could do was stay “frozen” and try to control my breathing.  The bull finally headed back directly behind me, and when he was about 40 yards away caught my wind, and vacated the area.  Whew! that was to close for comfort.  I could of actually touched this fired up spike with the end of my bow.

Bill and Ken got quite a kick out of my retelling of the story around the fireplace that evening.  I took some good natured razing for the rest of the trip, but was thankful that I was still the hunter and not the hunted.

Mike

A Hungry Bear

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The neighbors to my north have lived on their horse ranch for about 12 years and have never seen a bear!  The couple that I bought my cabin from had never seen a bear on their property.  So why am I seeing a couple different bear roaming my front yard?

The picture on the left shows a mature bear sniffing around my burn barrel.  It didn’t knock it over, like the last visitor did, but stayed around long enough for a picture.  I set the camera up after suspecting bears were searching for something to eat, and it wasn’t racoons messing things up.

I believe this is a female judging by the size, and the shape of the head.  Also the first bear I caught on camera was most certainly a large male, and dominate male bears won’t tolerate another male in their territory.

Personally I think the lack of rain hurt the berry crop, and acorns are few and far between in my area.  This has caused the bears to come out of hiding in search of food.  I don’t know how bold they may become as cooler temperatures tell them to fatten up for hibernation.  I sure don’t like to think they would try and enter my cabin in their search for a meal.

One thing for sure I will be putting in for a bear permit next year in the Red Oak unit.  For 39 years we have hunted the Baldwin camp in the Marquette area of the Upper Peninsula.  That is; when someone draws a coveted bear tag.  We were skunked this year, as no-one drew a tag!  It will be hard letting go of the U.P mystic of bear camp, but with bears roaming just outside my door, it makes sense to shift camps.

The summer has seemed to fly by, and deer season is just around the corner.  I’ve decided to let the doe’s walk this year in hopes of keeping the bucks around during the rut.  Depending on how the season goes I may take a doe in December for the freezer.  We’ll just have to wait and see what exciting stories unfold for deer camp 2012.

Mike

Dream Buck

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Just got back from four days at the cabin, and look what I found roaming around my food-plot.  Of course it isn’t much of a food-plot anymore, as the drought has most everything “burned” up.  It’s a good thing there still some white clover growing.

The buck in the first picture is a very nice 10 pointer.  Actually I didn’t think they got that big in my neck of the woods.  I’m guessing he’ll score 125-135 which would put him in the archery record book.  Oh that would be sweet!  The second buck is a nice eight pointer with some pretty good G-2’s.

This is my back food plot, and there’s another 8 pointer visiting my front food plot.  The batteries on both trail cams needed to be replaced, so I have not been getting pictures for the last couple days.  I can’t wait till we return over the Labor Day holiday, and I can see whats been feeding on my offerings!  I replanted some clover and also some red turnips this past weekend, but we still need rain to make them grow.  Seems to be plenty of does around, but only one with fawns.  The coyotes are far to plentiful in Northern Michigan, and the fawn predation has to be high.  Maybe this winter I can knock some “yotes” off!

Mike

 

 

Michigan’s Chronic Wasting Disease Program Continues

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission will continue the current program concerning baiting and CWD.  Several changes were adopted, by the commission, at their monthly meeting in Lansing.

There has been a total baiting ban in unit 487 which consist of Presque Isle, Montmorency, Alpena, Oscoda, Alcona, and Iosco counties for the past ten (10) years.  A two gallon limit is in effect for the rest of the state, which must be scattered in a 10 x 10 foot diameter area.

One of the newly adopted plans would implement a baiting ban within a ten (10) mile radius of where CWD is detected.  Also this would take effect if deer were found with chronic wasting disease in any border state that is within 10 miles of our border.  Facilities that have, or raise, cervids will undergo increased testing for CWD statewide.

Many property owners in the six county area (487) are at odds with the Department of Natural Resources handling of this problem!  Very few cases of the disease have ever been found, in the wild, and the Departments implementation of unlimited antlerless deer tags has reduced the deer herd exponentially!   I have read where they were only going to allow property owners five antlerless permits this upcoming season, but that is still over the top, as far as I’m concerned.

Growing up in Michigan the Northern woods was always the place to go for excellent deer hunting.  After ten years of excessive anterless permits, crop damage permits, and block permits this is no longer true.  The deer herd has dwindled dramatically.  Bucks seem to be smaller, and are few and far between.  The herds of deer we used to view at the “grass farms” are gone.  Farm fields that used to have foraging deer at dusk are non existent.  There is a  clover field close to my place where I have never seen one single deer feeding, and yet antlerless permits are available by the hand-fulls.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, or many other northern property owners to eradicate our natural resources like they were vermin!

This is the first year (in the last 10) that any rule changes have taken effect in the Department of Natural Resources handling of Chronic Wasting Disease.  Boy that seems like a long time to go with the “same old same-o” and in the mean time thousands of healthy deer are paying the price.  Deer hunting and tourism keep the states  operating budgets in tact, so why would you want to eliminate such an attractive resource?

Hey I don’t know all the answers, and some places you can never revisit!  It might well be that the old hunting stories from the northwoods of Michigan will be just that “Old Hunting Stories”!  “But what do I know?”

Mike

Humane Society Calls the Shots for California Fish and Game Commission

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Has anyone heard the story of Dan Richards president of the California fish and Game Commission?  He was appointed to head up this agency by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.  As you would expect Dan is a hunter, fisherman, and outdoors enthusiast.  Just the kind of guy you want on a commission representing the hunters and fisherman (women) in your state-right?  Well not so fast!

Seems maybe the animal rights activist and the Humane Society has more say so about the policies of this commission than the hunters/fishermen do.  Of course we all know California is the most “whacked out” state in the union, but many times other states follow their “liberal” lead!

Seems Dan Richards fell victim to being a hunter, and we all know the Humane Society of the Unites States is the most well funded anti-hunting group in the U.S.  Since mountain lion hunting is not allowed in California, Dan decided to go on a legal lion hunt in Idaho.  Due to the ever increasing population, and range, mountain lions are fair game in many western states.  Dan was successful in his legal quest to take an Idaho mountain lion, but unsuccessful against the onslaught of animal welfare criticism.  Jennifer Fearing, California State Director of the Humane Society of the United States said that Dan” flagrantly was flaunting California’s ban on mountain lion hunting, and therefore was out of sync with the California electorate, and did not uphold their values”!

Despite the overwhelming support of outdoorsmen and women in California, the Fish and Game Commission voted to have Dan step down.  They also changed the rules for the presidency of the commission to being one of  “seniority” and not appointment.

So to sum it up.  Dan Richards looses his position, as a state hunter and fisherman/women representative, for legally hunting in another state.  Mind you Dan is still a member of the commission, but was forced to give up it’s presidency.  This whole fiasco should show the hunting fishing community the political power of the “anti’s” and the two faced members of various agencies supposedly representing us!

Be aware, be vigilant!  California is not a “blip” on the screen, but is a definite “shot over the bow” aimed at all hunters/fishermen and gun owners.

Mike

Smile Your On Candid Trail Cam

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

I just recently put one of my cuddie-back camera chips into my computer to see what I had on it.  I was quit surprised at what I found.

My food plot seemed to have several areas that were almost bare, and I couldn’t figure out why shoots were not sprouting in these parts of the food plot.

By golly I think I may have a clue now thanks to my trail cam.  The first picture is no doubt my neighbors kids, as they own a white golf cart.  How nice of them to drop in on my food plot!  The second picture is my son-in-law Mark and my grandson Logan.  They did confess to me their transgression, but said they only road through it one time!  Strange that the camera caught them on several occasions-Hum mm!!!  The last picture is of my grand-daughter Nina riding my 4-wheeler( no less) right through the middle of all my hard work.

Well the mystery is solved, at least where my family is concerned.  Now how do I keep the neighbor kids out of it without causing neighbor problems?  Maybe some bright yellow “caution” tape would work, or a “food plot ahead” sign.

Mike

Fawns In the Yard

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

We had some visitors two morning while at camp.  These twin fawns came within a few feet of our front porch, as their mother watched from a safe distance.  There were also two other yearlings running with these two for a total of five deer in our yard.

The second picture is of my food plot.  This same group was chowing down on the greenery that is headed for a shade of brown.  One fawn is getting ready for mama to feed it some nourishing milk.

It is always nice to view the wildlife, but there is just a special feeling when watching fawns play.  These are the only fawns we have seen, and that could be due to the coyote’s in the area.  I have a picture of one, in the food plot, just minutes after several deer were feeding.  They were no doubt chased out by the yotes.  I’m going to have to get serious about hunting them this winter!

Mike