Archive for April, 2013

Jay-Birds First Turkey

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Jay-Birds bird 012Jay-Birds bird 010Jay-Birds bird 004Grandson Jacob Russo (Jay-Bird) nailed a nice Tom turkey yesterday.  Jacob did it the “old-fashioned” way, with a little single shot 410 gauge shotgun.

He was hunting with his dad Tony who was acting as his “guide” and “mentor.”  I say “mentor” cause that is the name of the new DNR program instituted to get younger hunters in the woods.  Children up to 9 years old can obtain a license to take two turkey (spring and fall) two deer, small game, and even trap if they so desire.  All this for $7.50.  Is that a bargain or what?  They only need to be with an adult, and properly supervised at all times.  Tony said it’s the best thing going if you’re looking to build some great memories with your kids or grandkids.  He was so excited when Jay put the “smack down” on this bird that silently snuck into their decoy setup.  Jay opted for the hard way to down one of Michigan’s big game species-a rear end shot!  A head and neck shot is what a turkey hunter normally seeks, but ole Jay Bird got a little excited, and pulled the trigger as the turkey turned away from him.  His aim was true, as the bird dropped where he stood.  Jay and the little iron sighted 410 did their job perfectly.

The turkey was almost as big as Jay, as you can see by the pictures.  I’ll tell you Tony and I were sure proud of our little man.  Jay is the first of my 11 grandkids to put some great tasting game in the freezer.

I also bought Ava a mentor license, and have had her out twice, but no birds yet.  I may have to take her up to our cabin and see if we can locate her a bird around there.  Last year I had grandson Kyle Pafford out deer hunting with a crossbow, but the deer didn’t cooperate.  This year I should have a whole group of 9 year olds enjoying the age-old rituals of “deer camp!”  At least I sure hope so.


Slow Start to Turkey Season

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

ava turkey hunting 007ava turkey hunting 015ava turkey hunting 020So far turkey season has been a big “bust” for the Ansel clan.  The cold wet and snowy weather may have something to do with it, but there are people taking birds elsewhere.

As you can see by our “set-up” we have the decoys surrounded by water.  That is not intentional, but is due to the amount of rainfall we have had this Spring.  The water should not be past the trees in the background.  If nothing else the wood ducks like it!  Granddaughter Ava and I watched 9 males courting 4 females around the expanded pond.  Male wood ducks are one of the most colorful ducks of any we have here in Michigan.  We also watched rabbits “thumping” on one another, which is quite funny to see!  Squirrels and a variety of song birds scampered around our blind, but no turkeys.  Of course the very next day (when Ava was in school) a “Tom” was caught on trail cam at this exact spot!

Brother Darryl and his son Derek have a crew of “young hunters” in the north woods, but so far no birds for them either.  I plan on taking Ava up to the cabin next weekend and giving it a try.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and start heating up a bit.  We need to get Ava a bird for Thanksgiving dinner!


Pileated Surprise!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Pileated woodpecker 001Just returned from our place in Luzerne, and the highlight was seeing two Pileated woodpeckers on our property.  My wife is quite a “bird watcher,” but has never seen a Pileated woodpecker before.  She was thrilled to see the pair flying from tree to tree as they looked for some tasty insects to eat.  They make so much noise when pecking on a tree that it sounds like someone hammering in the woods.

These woodpeckers are huge (about 19 inches long when mature.)  As far as I know they are the largest woodpecker found in Michigan, and dwarf most other birds in the woods.  They are found in almost every county in Michigan, but are rather elusive, and rarely photographed.  I had hoped to get a picture of the two of them together, but they kept flying away as I put a stalk on them.  It was quite a treat to observe these large northern neighbors who have left their calling cards so often around our woods (Dead trees with huge portions/holes pecked out of them!)

There was still some snow on the ground and the temperature never got over 42 degrees.  It was down in the low 20’s at night.  Saw a couple of deer, but turkey sign was non existent!  I have a turkey permit along with a couple grandkids, but the birds have seemed to vacate the area.  It’s kind of ironic that Fairview is called the turkey capital of Michigan, but you see “nary” a bird in the area.  The DNR over trapped them throughout the years, and shipped them south.  Now the southern counties of Michigan have an abundance of birds, and the DNR is trapping them to send back to northern Michigan.  Makes sense to me!

Jacob is hunting this morning with his dad Tony, and I will be taking Ava out this evening after a turkey around here.  The birds have split up and left their wintering grounds.  They are a little harder to find, but we’ll give it our best “yelp/cackle!”


Ava’s First Hunt

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Randy and Ava 009backyard turkey 007My grand-daughter Ava is pictured with the turkey target that she demolished with the first shot of her young life.  She put at least 35 BB’s in the turkeys head and neck with my little youth model 870 mag!  She got a little bit of a kick from the recoil, but she said the “noise” was louder than she expected.

We are heading out into my brother-in-laws property early on April 22nd.  That’s opening day of Michigan’s turkey hunting season.  I bought her a youth mentors license, and it is truly the best deal going if you’re looking to get a kid involved in hunting.  For a few dollars they get a turkey license, deer license, small game, and can even trap.  The turkeys in the picture were in my back yard a couple of years ago, and I actually saw another one yesterday.  I’m hoping Monday morning Ava will be able to draw down on one I “call” in for her.  How great that would be!

The only drawback to where we are hunting is that the turkeys are roosting in a woods I can’t hunt, and I have to draw them across a creek.  Two weeks ago there wasn’t hardly any water in the creek, but now it’s 2 foot deep.  Turkeys don’t like to cross fences or creeks, so it may be a challenge to my calling abilities.  The fact that I’ll have decoys placed on our side of the creek may help in our quest for “Ava’s first bird!”  That’s what were hoping for.


Cabin Fever and Spring Safety Tips

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

turkey & coyote 004Just like these turkeys need to be very cautious as to what direction they take, so do outdoor recreationists in taking to the woods this Spring.  I mean it is spring isn’t it?  At least the calendar says it is, but Winter doesn’t want to release its relentless grip on Michigan!

I know most of us are chomping at the bits to get outside and enjoy a long walk, or a hike in the woods, and just take in the sights and sounds of Spring.  There are some common sense safety tips for anyone to keep in mind before heading into the woods.

In Michigan spring means mushroom hunting, hiking, trail riding, fishing, turkey hunting, and exploring the trails all our public lands have to offer.  Because we all have a touch of “cabin fever” right now we need to make certain we don’t tempt the coyote,  (See picture)

Before heading off always let someone know where you are going, and what time you expect to be back.  Cellphones work in almost all areas of the outdoors, so take one with you just in case.  A GPS system is not a bad idea either.  A compass and a small flashlight can be invaluable.  I have gotten turned around (not lost) on more than one occasion, and I want to tell you spending the night in a tree deep in a Quebec swamp is not “FUN!”  Someday I may write about that “dark night.”  Hopefully you will be somewhat familiar with the land your on.  Remember there may be turkey hunters in the woods, so wearing hunter orange could save you from being “Thanksgiving dinner.”  As we all know the weather can change in an instant in Michigan.  Good idea to take a little backpack and put some light rain gear, snacks, and some bottled water in it.  During hunting season a lost hunter can always fire his gun, but in the spring a whistle is a good way to make some loud noises to help locate you, if needed.  Make sure you have enough layered cloths with you.  You can always take some off, but can’t put it on if you didn’t bring it.

Now if we can just coax the sun to appear and warm things up a tad, we can hit the trails, and enjoy all the great state of Michigan has to offer.



Florida Fun is Now but a Warm Memory

Monday, April 8th, 2013

2013 Orlando trip 0502013 Orlando trip 0762013 Orlando trip 082Even though we had a great time in florida, there’s no place like home.  Except for the fact that it’s 45 degrees and raining!

We left sunny warm Florida Sat. morning and pulled into Monroe at 7 o’clock Sunday evening.  Barely time for Lorna to unpack and get ready for work in the morning.  We took a detour around Atlanta Georgia due to the final four tournament being played there along with a Braves game.  Traffic was unreal as half the state of Michigan was in Atlanta to see the University of Michigan play.  Our little jaunt around the city added a few hours to our trip, but we did avoid the stop and go traffic jams all over I-75.

The first picture is of grandsons Logan Horwitz and Jacob Russo getting ready to crawl inside the “fishpipe!”  I called it the “spinning ball of death!”  I didn’t scare the boys at all as they gleefully took their positions inside this giant spinning water ball.  We all had fun watching them slip, slide, bounce, and fall all over each other, as the slippery, spinning, wet, ball turned faster and faster.  No one got hurt, unless you count our wallets!  Fourteen dollars for a 2 minute ride is pretty ridicules, but as they say “Hey were on vacation.”  The second picture is inside the “T-Rex” restaurant.  That’s daughter Alena and her crew standing in front of a “wooly mammoth.”  This place is a favorite kids destination, but the food prices are outa sight.  Thirty dollars for one burger and a bowl of soup certainly aren’t prehistoric.  I’ve been there twice and it wouldn’t bother me if that was my last meal there.  Most of the kids get a kick out of it though, so that’s why you spend $15.00 dollars on a sandwich and fries.  The last picture is of Ava and Addisyn with their dear old Papa (Me.)  We swam in this pool almost every day as it was right next to our unit at the Sheraton.  Courtney and the girls actually stayed at the Disney resort, but came and visited us a couple of times.  All the kids had a great time playing in the waterfalls pictured in the background.

Like I said at the start it is good to be home, but these cold temperatures and a rainy forecast makes you yearn for Florida warmth and sunshine.  My tan is not going to last very long that’s for sure.  Will write more later.


Florida Report

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by on this much anticipated trip to Florida.  So far the weather has been great, as my copper tone body will testify to.  As we have discovered though, the weather can change in the blink of an eye.  Kind of reminds me of Michigan.  Right now we are under a severe thunderstorm watch with the possibility of an isolated tornado.  who would of ever thought?  We Really can’t complain cause Michigan weather is still much colder than normal.

Yesterday my wife and I walked over to another part of the Sheraton complex and looked up my brother Randy’s kids and grand kids.  Neither of us knew we had planned on being here at the same time.  It was great seeing all of them.

Sea World and Disney World are behind us.  The kids had a blast, and will have some great memories to take home with them.

I took lots of pictures and will post them when we get home.  I’m not really looking forward  to the long drive home, especially back into the cold weather.  I’m ready to play some golf  after nine days of warmth.  I will post more once I get home and shovel out my driveway!  Bah Humbug!