Archive for January, 2014

Michigan Spring Turkey 2014

Friday, January 31st, 2014

turkey hunt 2011 045Mike's monster 015Jay-Birds bird 010Today Jan. 31st. is the last day to apply for a Michigan Spring turkey permit.  Drawing results will be posted March 3rd.  There are several rule changes this year as the state has added the need to buy a “base” license before any other licenses can be purchased!  As far as I know they have not put a price on this new way to get in your wallet, and so far details are kind of sketchy.  There are also some changes for the 0234 hunt which can be found on page 12 of the 2014 Spring turkey Digest.

Turkey hunting success has gone up substantially since I first started hunting the birds 40 years ago.  In the early days about 10% of hunters harvested a bird, but now the hunter success rate is 30 percent.  Michigan ranks as one of the best states in the nation to harvest an Eastern Gobbler!  Over the years I’ve harvested these “beautifully ugly” birds from the Upper peninsula to the farm fields of the far southern counties.  Nothing gets my heart pumping like seeing a big old “longbeard” strutting into my decoy setup where my lovesick calling has led him!  Tail fanned, wing tips dragging the ground, chest puffed out like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and doing his 360 degree dance is something to behold.  What great memories I have of hunts in northern woodlots, U.P. honey holes, and southern farm lots.  A few years ago I shot a Tom with a coveted 12 inch beard about 600 yards from my back door.  The heaviest Tom I ever shot was in Jackson Michigan hunting with my grandson Quinn. This bird tipped the scales at just under 27 pounds.  What great memories!  That bird is on my wall with its unusual coloring (like a Merriam) and it’s thick long beard.  In the early days I shot a flying bird with a small 5 inch beard that turned out to be a female!  Michigan regulations state it’s legal to shoot one (1) bearded turkey.  The reason for the wording is because on occasion a female will have a beard.  since that time I have seen several hens sporting 10 inch “trophy” beards.

The spring is a great time to be in the woods, and now with the “youth mentor program” I can get my grandkids involved in the hunt.  I have yet to get them a bird, but I’m hopeful this year.  My grandson Jacob took a good Tom last year hunting with his dad Tony.  I hunt the 0234 hunt which gives me almost a month to put a bird in the freezer.  I am looking so forward to getting after a big Tom with Kyle and Ava that I’m going crazy looking at these 3-4 foot snowbanks!

Hope you all got your applications in alright.  You can still do it online till the end of the day.  I’ll post some pictures of past successful hunts.  If you haven’t tried it you don’t know what your missing.  It is a “THRILL!”

Mike

Tawas Point Lighthouse

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

more transfers 009This past summer my wife visited the Tawas point Lighthouse with my daughter Tara and her husband and son.  I stayed back at camp to do some work around the place, and later I realized I should of went on the day trip with them.  They were able to climb the lighthouse stairs right to the beacon light and took some great pictures from this vantage point.  The lighthouse itself takes you back in time and is a beautiful reminder of “days gone by!”  The surrounding area is very scenic, as well as quite and peaceful.

While there they learned that the Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers to spend a week or two acting as light house keepers.  Tawas Point is located on the grounds of Tawas point State Park on the shores of Lake Huron.  Volunteer duties include studying the lighthouse’s maritime history, leading guest on tours, and other miscellaneous duties.  In exchange for these duties volunteers stay in the newly renovated keepers quarters at a cost of $250.00 per week per person.  Not a bad way to spend your vacation!

The lighthouse keeper program is open to singles and couples 18 years and older.  It is suggested that those applying are in good enough physical shape that they can lead tours and do some light yard work and maintenance.  Anyone interested in this program can get detailed information at www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse.

One thing for sure when the “crew” takes their little excursion this year I’ll be with them.

Baiting VS Feeding – Whats the Difference?

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Jan.2014 cabin trip 042micah and heather at cabin 019Recently the Michigan Department of Natural Resources lifted it’s baiting/feeding ban on the winter ravaged deer in the Upper Peninsula.  As everyone knows this has been a brutal winter for man and beast.  With several months of arctic weather still looming before spring thaw the Michigan DNR has done a reversal on helping the U.P.’s deer hear survive the winter somewhat in tact.

In past winters Upper Peninsula sportsman’s clubs have come to the rescue of snow bound deer, usually in their winter yarding area’s.  Many times individuals would supplement the local deer, feeding around their house or cabin. This practice (of mercy) was banned many years ago, and the deer herd was left to fend for itself.  Well when “Old Man Winter swoops down from the arctic/polar regions, and plants itself over Michigan, deer die in alarming numbers.

Many believe that the “baiting” of deer during the fall hunting season is not only a boon for hunters, but gives the deer the extra nutrients needed to help survive Michigan’s oftentimes brutal winters.  Limited baiting is still allowed after several years of a total baiting ban, which hurt many “Mom and Pop” business in an economy already ravaged by unemployment.  This ban was implemented in 2008 and lifted in 2011.  Presently all but 6 counties (in the so called T. B. zone) are allowed limited baiting of 2 gallons per site.

While supplemental feeding is still banned state wide, the restrictions were recently dropped in the Upper Peninsula.  The state is actually asking sportsman’s clubs and individuals to help “feed/save the deer.  Thank God someone in the DNR had the foresight to make this call.  I only wish they would of opened it up for the whole state, or at least the upper parts of the lower peninsula.  The deer are under as much stress in the northern lower as anywhere in the state!

Oscoda, Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, and Presque Isle Counties have been under a total baiting/feeding ban for over 10 years.  This area is refereed to as DMU 487.  This is where my dad taught us (6 sons) the ways of the woods, and it’s where my cabin is located.  Not only is it illegal to feed the deer, but unlimited doe permits are handed out over the counter in these 6 counties.  Needless to say the herd has been reduced substantially, and hunters have gone elsewhere to spend their “hunting” dollars.  The Redwood Inn in Lewiston used to be a beehive of activity during hunting season, but now sits mostly vacant along with several other businesses within these 6 counties.

Last year I had a deer die right under my picnic table during a relatively mild winter.  I expect to find many more winter starved carcasses this year due to the severity of this years weather.  I wish the DNR would not criminalize those that take it upon themselves to supplement the deer herds limited food source.  What’s the difference between helping starving deer in the Upper Peninsula and those starving in the Northern Lower?

This whole process will be coming under review sometime in 2014, and just maybe landowners will be allowed to put a few gallons of nutrition out for the deer and other animals that truly benefit from the help!

The Hunter Without a Tree Stand

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

001The hunter without a Tree Stand

As hunters we see many interesting things while sitting in our tree stand waiting for our trophy to walk underneath us. Hunting and fishing is the only time in my life wherein I have patience and I love every minute of it.  I believe several of you can relate to this as well.

 

As I was walking to my tree stand last year I happened to look up and sitting in a tree on a large branch was a hunter.  He had absolutely no hunter orange on and other than that was rather well equipped sitting on his large branch.  With such a strange site in the woods and of course he was in my ‘killing field’ I couldn’t help but stop to talk with him.

 

I asked him to dismount his tree so we could talk.  I kind of felt bad for the young man as he was not well dressed for the cold, had no orange on, and had a handful of slugs, a knife, a length of rope, and that was it.  After talking to him for a few minutes I came to find out that he was almost homeless and was hoping to bag a deer for food and then I asked him if he had ever hunted before with his reply being “this is my second time.”

 

Oh my, I thought.  Digging into my backpack I gave him my spare jacket and some hot coffee.  I never go out without a spare jacket as they get torn or wet if the weather changes.  I felt bad for this young man, yet I had faith in him for some reason in his hunting ability.  Maybe that was from him climbing that tree like a monkey.

 

Walking back to my truck I got out my extra Millennium M100 tree stand and gave it to the young man explaining to him how to use it and set him up in a tree which I had previously used the past year.  Making sure I was confident in his shooting abilities I advised the young man that he had the first deer.

 

We did not have to wait but a couple of hours for a deer to come cautiously picking her way under us and giving a slight nod to my new found orphaned hunting buddy he took aim as well as did I.  I took aim in case he missed and I would bag the deer for him as this young man was obviously hurting for food.

 

In my mind I kept thinking to myself “one shot one kill” as my dad always taught me.  As I was silently saying this, the young man shot and dropped the doe instantly.  I looked over at him and he had a peaceful look that came over his face.  I helped him gut the deer and we loaded it into my truck and I took the young man home with his bounty.

 

As we were driving to his house the young man looked at me and said “My dad told me years ago one shot one kill.”  I nodded in agreement. The young man’s confidence that day returned and he soon was working and I helped him with warm clothing and some other household items.  I will never forget that day in the woods and I don’t believe he will ever forget it either.

 

This article was written by “guest writer” Blake Anderson (Huntertreestands.com) from Sioux City Iowa.  Blake has written other articles for this blog and from time to time will continue to do so.  Thanks Blake for such an uplifting story with a great ending.

Big Rig 4X4’s And Black Ice!

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Jan.2014 cabin trip 059Jan.2014 cabin trip 060Jan.2014 cabin trip 062Yesterday (Sunday) morning we woke up at our cabin, in Luzerne Michigan, to a few snow showers and a strong southwest wind.   We had not planned on heading home until today, but the radio announced a weather advisory for our area with the chance of 5 inches of snow and strong winds!  About the same time our friends (Ed and Linda Ponzy) called and said we should probably think about heading home asap, as they were on I-75 and conditions were deteriorating fast.  They had just passed a major accident as they drove from West Branch, just 40 miles south of our place, and wanted to give us a heads up.

We decided to pack up and get out of Dodge, thus heading into one of the most nerve wracking drives I have ever experienced heading home from “up north!”  The first 48 miles along Michigan’s M-33 to Alger (exit 202) wasn’t to bad with blowing snow and wind, but once we hit I-75 things changed in a hurry.  At first traffic was flowing along at posted speeds (70) or higher, but the gale force winds started pushing me sideways every time I hit an area where there were  open fields.  The winds were causing the snow to drift sideways across the road, even though it wasn’t snowing.

My old Ford explorer has 4-wheel drive, but the pavement looked dry, and the big rigs were passing me left and right, so I was confident 2-wheel drive would suffice.  The 60 mile stretch between Alger and the Zilwaulkee bridge is farm country, with many open farm fields.  Up ahead the road were getting a thin layer of black ice as the wind driven snow polished the roadway.  The occasional “slippery spots” were not detectable to the eye, as they laid in wait for the oncoming travelers!

Suddenly “breaks lights ahead” and drivers doing their best to keep it on the road.  We went from 65 miles and hour to a dead crawl in seconds.  The first major accident was a big red 4×4 hauling a snowmobile trailer.  From the looks of things this was a very “bad” accident indeed!  From that point on it was one nerve wracking drive!  A half a mile up the road we came upon our second major wreck.  A white dodge 4×4 crew cab was also laying sideways off the road as a police officer appeared to be asking the ( fortunate to be alive driver) for his “information!”  Just another half mile down this stretch we witnessed our third big rig smashed almost beyond recognition.  It was a Silver GMC 4×4 crew cab that had been pulling a big enclosed snow machine trailer.  The occupants were still inside as rescue worker were just getting ready to help.

We saw one more accident from that point as most drivers kept things under 60 miles an hour.  I stayed in the slow (truck) lane and didn’t care that some “non-believers” still had the “pedal to the metal” in their quest to get ahead of everybody!  During this time I hit a spot that was totally undetected and lost control of my vehicle for mere mini-seconds!  It was enough to make my heart “flutter” and my wife gasp!  Somehow I gained control, but for a short time was totally at the mercy of this hidden danger.  We said a prayer of thankfulness and slowed down some more for most of the way home.  One thing we learned for sure is that a big 4×4 is no match for the hidden dangers of black ice on the roadway.  Drivers that think these “big rigs” are insurance against “slip sliding away” are at risk of ending up the same way these unfortunate drivers did.

We arrive home latter than usual but thankful that we made it safe and “almost” sound!  It doesn’t hurt to “slow down” and arrive a little late for your destination, rather than have to make a detour to the emergency room or worse!!!

Michigan’s Youth Mentor Program Right On Target!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

I have been taking my grandson Kyle hunting over the past two years thanks to the youth mentor program here in Michigan.  It’s a great deal, price wise, and in all other aspects of getting the young ones acclimated to the woods.  There’s no better teacher than “on the job training!”  Of course grandpa’s first priority was to get Kyle a deer, and we almost did it this past year.  At least he got a shot, and was able to learn from his mistake.  Sometimes its hard to keep those “nerves” in check when the target is real and not a hay bale!

Anyway the picture shows Kyle and his first raccoon.  He shot it with a 177 caliber pellet gun.  I’m making a coonskin hat for him and just about have it done.  I have more raccoon’s around my place than what I would like, as they seem to get into everything (bird-feeders, shed, garage, garden.)  Hopefully Kyle, or one of the other grandkids, can take a few more of these marauders out this year.

I had a training program for the grandkids at the cabin last year and was impressed at how well they caught on.  Kyle won the marksmanship contest we had at the end of our training session, but his cousin Ava wasn’t far behind.  The five of them were really excited at this “hands on” approach to gun safety and subsequent target practice.  One thing for sure I shouldn’t run out of hunting partners for many years to come.Kyle and Racoon

Namibia Black Rhino Hunt Sold For $350,000.00 Dollars

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

rhino 002This past Saturday the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off a hunt for a black rhino in Namibia Africa.  Black rhino’s are an endangered species.  Only 5000 exists in South Africa along with 20,000 white rhino.

In recent years rhino poaching has increased due to the valued placed on the powder derived from the rhino’s horn.  The international crime syndicate can pay the poachers a modest sum and resell the horns in places like VietNam, where it is used as a traditional medicine.  Rhino horn is sold for higher prices than even gold, making it a very lucrative business.  It is expensive for the Namibia government to try and protect these few animals, and that’s where the rhino auction comes in.

Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($350,000) was raised toward the protection of this endangered species, but it has caused an uproar with the animal rights community!  The Human Society of the United States is leading a drive to stop the hunt from happening.  Ben Carter, the executive director of the Dallas Safari Club has reported a number of “death threats” to their members.  The FBI is investigating where these originated from, and have not ruled out animal rights activist.  Makes sense to me “Save a rhino-kill a man!”  I don’t think that kind of reasoning will win many converts, but that’s how radical some of animal rights activist are.

The rhino chosen to be hunted (culled from the herd) would be a post-breeding bull.  These are older animals that are very aggressive and territorial in nature.  In many cases they will kill younger non-breading bulls, and have even killed calves and cows!  Namibia wildlife officials will be on hand throughout the hunt to make sure everything goes as planned.  The hunt will help in managing the rhino population and provide a much needed cash reserve to help battle the poachers.

Namibia has demonstrated a sound conservation policy for it’s rhino’s over the years, as the herd has been on a steady upswing in population.  Only 10 rhino’s have been poached since 2006, but 5 of those animals were killed last year.  The Namibian government welcomes the legitimate culling of  an older male rhino and the financial help it will bring to fund the continued restoration of the black rhino.

“Slip Sliding Away!” Or The Year Ends Winter Blast!

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Five (5) straight days of school closings due to snow and sub freezing weather made for an extra long holiday for the area’s school kids!  I don’t think any of them were complaining about it, but mom and dad may have been after three weeks of juggling jobs and kids.

In the pictures you’ll see what I encountered on my first attempt to go anywhere during this mess.  These were just two of the eight accidents I saw in my 10 mile drive.  At no point did I go over 40 miles an hour, and I have 4-wheel drive.  The SUV in the second picture also has 4-wheel drive and he slid off the road.  If your not careful you will slide on ice no matter what your driving.

The temperatures have hit a balmy 40 degrees today and the salted roads are now starting to melt the thick ice and heavy snow.  Calling for rain tomorrow, so we should have a nice slushy mess by Sunday and Monday, but those school kids should be where they belong “In School!”Pt. Moullie snow 004Pt. Moullie snow 010

Pointe Mouillee Deer Check Station

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area deer check in station finally got plowed out from this last huge snowfall.  My deer heads have been in the garage so needless to say they were frozen.  No way to pry the jaws open and check teeth for age, but there are other factors that help with aging.  Both deer were between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 years old with the doe (head only) being sent to Lansing and tested for T.B.

There was only one DNR officer on duty, but she was quite efficient and pleasant to deal with.  There was a steady stream of people bring in deer heads so she was busy the whole time I was there.  I’m not sure how much longer they will be checking deer heads, but if you want your deer cooperator patch you need to give them a call.  The number is 734-379-9692, and they are located in Gibraltar Michigan.

It really helps the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to get a clear picture of Michigan’s deer herd by these statistics gathered from hunters. It’s useful and important to have your deer checked, and also to fill out the deer survey form sent out at the end of deer season.  The data collected helps in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of this natural resource.  Do the DNR a favor in helping to keep Michigan’s deer herd healthy and strong!  Check in your deer please!Pt. Moullie snow 011Pt. Moullie snow 016

Michigan Buck Pole

Monday, January 6th, 2014

As most Michigan hunters know there is a huge difference hunting southern county bucks vs hunting in the northern forest.  This buck pole is proof positive that farmland bucks are quite plentiful and big.  These deer were taken in one of Michigan’s counties that border Indiana.  (Told my brother I wouldn’t tell the counties name!)  The group of guys that hunt this area have used QDM (Quality Deer Management) for several years, and as you can see it’s paying huge dividends.  I’m not sure about the one buck that is not an 8 point, but it could be they let one of the younger hunters take it, or whoever shot the deer will have to pay a fine.  That’s how QDM operates!  All I can say is “very impressive!”

Where I hunt in the northern forest you won’t see any deer camps with a buck laden game pole like this one.  In fact the big buck contest in Lewiston didn’t have that many deer on the pole which included the whole county.  Hunting runways, edges of swamps, oak forest, or driving deer does not produce the numbers of deer similar to hunting the edge of a corn/soybean field.  Nor does northern hunting produce 1-1/2 year old 8 pointers.  Southern deer have a huge array of food sources thus producing big healthy deer with some very nice headgear.  That same aged deer would be hard pressed to be a 6 pointer in my area, and if one should see a respectable 8-10 point rack you can bet he’s at least 2-1/2 years old, and no doubt older.  The food sources and nutrition are just not there.

Right now we have over 20 inches of snow on the ground around my cabin.  The deer are already showing some signs of distress, and after several mild winters, could be in real trouble this year!  No cut corn fields or wheat or soybeans for the northern herd, just nibbling what they can reach off of  the cedars and hemlocks in the swamps!

So why do I hunt up north when I have several area’s I could hunt down south?  It’s tradition and the mystic of the north woods deer camp that hold my heart.  This is where my dad taught us about deer, and deer hunting.  As I get older things are changing rapidly concerning just what I can, and cannot do in the woods.  I’ve learned to slow down, let the small ones pass, and be thankful for a big fat doe in the freezer.  I will never see a game pole straining to hold 9 big bucks around my place, but I hopefully will be grinning from ear to ear as my first grandkid hoist his first deer at Papa’s place.  I can’t wait for the tradition to continue!File7