Archive for March, 2014

Michigan’s Long Cold Winter Effects Deer Herd

Monday, March 31st, 2014

March 2014 deer 070March 2014 deer 073March 2014 deer 059Just returned from a few days at our place around Mio Michigan where the snow is still 2 feet deep in the woods!  Our driveway was a solid sheet of ice as the past few sunny days have melted some of the near record snowfall in the area.  It may take till May for the 4-5 foot high snowbanks to melt away!  The back-roads are in rough shape to say the least as snow, ice, and mud make for a slippery (rut to rut) drive!

I of course was very interested to see how the deer around my place were holding up, and it didn’t take me long to find out.  They were using our property to bed in, as the neighbor a few properties away, has horses.  The smell of hay, for a deer that can’t find food, must draw them like a magnet. There were signs (runways) deep in the snow that these deer were doing as little traveling as possible.  We saw many area’s used for bedding, usually under a tree where the snow wasn’t so deep.

Northern Michigan is not like the middle or southern portions of the state, as the deer numbers have been down for years.  Acorns are an important part of a deer’s diet, but around my place oak trees are few and far between.  Deer are grazers, and the snow pack this winter has severely limited their ability to browse.  There is a swamp not far from my place and many of the trails came from that direction.  No doubt many of these deer were “yarding” in that area.  Not much fat producing protein in cedar or hemlock trees.  In fact we saw where some of the smaller pine trees had been stripped of their branches.  I’m really not sure if deer will eat pine needles or pine bark, but something was nibbling on them.

The deer we saw, for the most part, looked to be in half way decent shape, but there were those whose ribs and hips were quite visible.  There was one small fawn that had a big section of hair missing from his shoulder to the middle of his back.  The exposed area was right down to it’s skin, but the deer appeared none the worse for it!

While sitting at the kitchen table we saw a group of crows landing just off our property, and I know something “dead” had to be over there.  We walked over and discovered what was left of a deer.  Critters had been chewing on it for awhile, so there wasn’t much left, except for what was still under the snow.  Makes you wonder how many more are laying in the woods?  I also think of the doe’s that are about to give birth to their fawns.  Out of the 15-20 deer that we saw, only a couple looked to be pregnant.  Try as we may to spot a buck we did not see a deer we could identify as such.

I think the deer need help through a winter like the one we just had, but state regulations forbid the “artificial” feeding of deer in several counties in Northern Michigan.  Could be part of the reason deer number are down in this part of the state, but what do I know?

Mike

Calif. Sen. Leland Lee – Democrat Hypocrite

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Senator Leland Yee of California is one of the Democrats most outspoken spokesmen when it comes to gun control.  In fact he has two (2) bills before the California assembly (SB47 and SB108) which are aimed at more gun control legislation.  Next to Senator Dianne Feinstein he may well be one of the most outspoken critics for gun control!

How utterly ironic is it that Senator Yee has been charged in a federal gun trafficking case.  Gun control groups are in a panic, as they scramble to find a new champion for their cause.  Paul Song, executive chairman of Courage Campaign, a non-profit advocacy group said “what were really worried about is that this will further destroy the momentum for gun control here in California!”  Duh!  I would sure think so!  Yee was arrested and later freed on bond Wednesday as federal authorities unsealed charges against 26 defendants, including Keith Jackson, Yee’s campaign aide.

Jackson a former San Francisco school board president, did not enter a plea Wednesday as the FBI accused him of being involved in a murder for hire scheme and trafficking guns and drugs.

Court documents allege that Yee sought campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker.  Yee talked about being able to acquire weapons including shoulder fired missiles for a tidy sum of $500,000.00-$2.5 million dollars!  Supposedly he had contacts with a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines.  Take about a trader.  “If these allegations are true, Senator Yee is easily the biggest hypocrite on gun control to walk the halls of the Capital in Sacramento, if not the entire United States,” the citizens for the right to Keep and Bear Arms said on its website.  Sam Paredes from Gun Owners of California said “Denying law abiding citizens semi-automatic firearms… and then funneling guns for illegal activity is the height of hypocrisy.”  As far as I’m concerned it’s more than that; can you say “TREASON!”

It will be interesting to see just what effects these arrest have on stalling the gun control lobby.  Sure hope it slows them down for a long time!

Mike

Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger

Monday, March 24th, 2014

It’s that time of year again when Michigan hunters and sportsmen start buying their new licenses for 2014.  Please pay attention when you purchase your new license, as you will be asked if you want to donate a dollar to the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger campaign.  Forty four thousand (44,000) hunters donated last year, which was a record for the program started in 2005.  This amounted to more than $50,000 thousand dollars, a record amount from Michigan men and women.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a non-profit organization that coordinates the venison collection program for the Department of Natural Resources.   During deer hunting season sportsmen have been encouraged to donate a deer to their local participating meat processor, which then distributes the processed venison to local food banks or kitchen.  Last year 30,000 pounds of deer meat were distributed, which adds up to 150,000 thousand meals being served to those that could use a little help.  The elderly, people on fixed incomes, and those less fortunate among us, benefited from the nutritional protein in venison.

When a processor agrees to take part in the program they send a voucher to MSAH for reimbursement of the processing fees.  The Department of Natural Resources turns over the funds collected, through license sales, to the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, and they in turn reimburse the processor.  Over the years the program has been limited to the number of sportsmen who have donated to the program.  Last year was a banner year, as many more meat processors were able to get involved in combating hunger in our state.  Hopefully this year will “top” last year and those one dollar donations will be multiplied greatly.

Dean Hall is chairman of the MSAH board of directors, and they all deserve our thanks for running this fine organization.  For more information on the program go to www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org.  Donate a dollar, or a buck, or even a doe and you’ll really make a difference here in Michigan.

Mike

Can We Stop Rootin, Tootin, Putin From Shootin?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Putin 003Putin 004President Barack Obama has once again threatened Russian Bad Boy Vladimir Putin with “cost” if he continued his takeover of the Crimea Region. Putin is not your typical schoolyard “bully!”  He’s not afraid to “mix it up” with anyone who may stand in the way of his plans, and he sure isn’t impressed with the United States “weak” threat of sanctions and isolation!  In fact I think he thrives on the attention, and enjoys flexing his muscle’s in the face of such former world powers, as the United States.  Got to admit we are only a shell of the country we were when President Ronald Reagan famously demanded “Mr. Gorbachev tear that wall down!”

I don’t think our posturing and threats scare anyone anymore, and in particular secretive countries like Russia.  The news media here broadcast ever minute detail of our defense, infrastructure, politics, and economy because they can!  I don’t think it’s such a bright idea, and neither does the Russian leadership.  “The old saying “Keep your friends close, and  your enemies closer” doesn’t apply to Mr. Putin.  He’s a former KGB officer and is not about to be “sliced and diced” by the neighborhood activist Barack Obama or his cohorts!  We don’t know a heck of a lot about Russia’s military might, but if you think that Mr. Putin would truly honor any unilateral arms treaty, then I have a bridge to sell you.  Just a couple days ago a Russian corespondent said that Russia is the only country that could turn the United States into a pile of ashes.  They get threatened with sanctions (not scary) and we get threatened with oblivion (scary!)  In football terms it seems our offense can not match Russia’s defense.  Putin is heavy handed, cold, and calculating! He’s a cool hand Luke when it comes to international issues, and has the gonad’s to back up his tough talk.

Putin has gobbled up the Crimea and gave a fiery speech on Tuesday which seemed to turn the clock back toward the Cold War era.  This has forced the Obama administration into a new phase of “punishment.”  In all of this our allies in Europe are “shaky” at best, and Russia’s past history shows the Russians to be quite resilient to isolation and deprivation!  It really looks like Putin has rallied the troops with support from the majority of Russians and Crimean’s.  Of course the big question is “How does the rest of the Ukraine play into this scenario?”  A what point will Putin start shootin?”

Even if Europe falls in line with sanctions toward Russia there are enough countries in the Middle East, and even China that would no doubt take up the slack on Russia’s behalf!  European defense budgets have been slashed over the years as NATO was supposed to take up the slack.  President Obama has been calling for cuts to the Pentagon and the military which has strong support among the Democrats in Congress.  Plans for a missile defense interceptor system in Poland and the Czech Republic were scrapped some time ago, but may get put back on the table, if it’s not already to late to stop “Rootin, Tootin, Putin from shooting!”

Mike

Michigan’s Pothole Problem

Monday, March 17th, 2014

shower-pothole 006potholes 003Just this morning we received a phone call from our grandson Quinn, who was headed back to Michigan Tech. in Houghton.  He had only made it as far as Gaylord and had a tire blow on his 2013 Ford.  He had to be towed and a new tire cost him $130.00 which he sure didn’t have!  He thinks he hit so many potholes while visiting here in Monroe that they damaged the tire.  No doubt that’s exactly what happened!

The roads all over Michigan are in the saddest shape I can ever recall, and it’s only going to get worse.  Will still have rain, freezing rain, snow, and the Spring thaw to contend with.  The main road by our house (Reinhardt) is so full of tire eating rim busting holes that it’s dangerous to drive very far down the road!  Dodging the really big craters is a challenge, especially when oncoming traffic approaches!  In some spots it’s actually better to steer your car off the road surface completely, to avoid being swallowed alive.

About once a week our county road commission shows up with their truck load of “cold patch!”  What an exercise in futility that is!  Cold patch is shoveled into these “angry dark holes” only to be pushed out by the cars that are used to “tamp” them down.  Many holes are full of water, which I don’t think is a very good bonding agent, but filled they are!  Like I said it would almost be funny if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s so frustrating trying to find 100 yards of good drive-able road in Monroe County.  Even Governor Rick Snyder said a long term fix is needed, not just emergency repairs.  Because of the brutal winter the House Appropriations Committee has passed a supplemental bill designating 212 million dollars toward road repair.  In reality that figure will not go very far in the hopes of having roads better than those found in Beirut Lebanon.  Snyder has been calling on lawmakers for the last two years to raise the gas tax and registration fees in order to raise 1.2 billion for roads and bridges.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has a claims process for people who have had pothole related car repairs.  Of course their are numerous restrictions, leaving very few drivers eligible for any type of reimbursement!

As bad as it is now, we Michiganders know from past experience that the worst is yet to come.  So slow down and diligently scan the road before you, or a hungry pothole will eat your tire for breakfast!

Mike

Contraceptives And The Rising Hog Invasion!

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Boar 010File5John Weete, a Dallas native, has been helping to produce a swine-specific contraceptive at Auburn University.  Feral pigs, wild boar, hogs gone wild, or whatever you call them are causing billions of dollars in damage throughout the United States.  Currently 38 states have a viable population of feral hogs doing damage to farm crops, Eco-systems, and native wildlife.  These “porkers are an invasive “species” not native to the United States, but have adapted so well that many states are “shoot on sight” states!

Using Texas as an example you can see what kind of a tremendous problem these hogs can wreck on the natural habitat if left unchecked!  Night vision technology, and thermal imaging scopes are used around baited stands, to lure the pigs into shooting range.  They are trapped by the thousands, chased with “hog dogs,” and even shot from the air with the aid of helicopters!   In 2010 it is estimated that 730,000 thousand hogs were killed throughout Texas.  But according to the Texas Agricultural Dept. that still left 2.6 million wild boar ruining the landscape.

Feral hogs reproduce at an alarming rate.  A sow can start reproducing at 6-8 months old.  They can have two litters a year with 5-6 pigs per litter. Authorities say that Texas would have to remove 66% of the hog population each year just to maintain a stable population of 1.7 million Feral pigs! Researchers have also discovered that feral hogs have learned to avoid traps and hunters, as they are some of the smartest wild animals on the planet.

This is where John Weete and his research comes in.  Auburn is working on an immune-contraception that controls the ability for reproduction in both the male and female hogs.  The contraceptive would be put into swine- receptive bait and would not effect other species that may eat the same food source.  “The aim of this program is to develop a product that, along with conventional approaches such as trapping and shooting, will result in the control of the wild pig population growth,” Weete said.

Just this week a hunter in North Carolina shot a feral hog that weighed in at 500 pounds!  (See picture)  That’s a lot of bacon on the hoof!  This hog had evaded hunters for years, and was quite capable of doing major damage to “life and limb” of humans or other wildlife, along with extensive damage to the habitat!

Just recently my own state of Michigan has stepped up their efforts to eradicate the feral hog population by allowing any licensed hunter to shoot hogs on sight year round!  I had experienced this a few years ago when I shot a feral hog along a creek line just a few hundred yards from my house. The hog had actually ran through my back yard, before I gave pursuit.  It was a smaller hog, but still capable of reproducing and doing damage through rooting for food sources.  Hopefully Weete’s research will be implemented soon before the “invasion” is to far gone to stop!

Mike

Michigan Arrest In Bear Parts Trafficking

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Bear Dad and Mike5Mindy's - Bear parts - Cougar 004My brothers and I started bear hunting in 1973 after we met Gary Baldwin from Marquette Michigan.  Gary, his dad Dick, and brother Greg had been hunting bear for a long while around their cabin near “the big hole!”  They invited us up for a hunt, and we were hooked.

I have hunted bear in Ontario, Quebec, Colorado, and at the Baldwin camp for many years.  All the Ansel brothers have some interesting stories they could tell you around a campfire.  I’d like to think we have learned a few things about “Old Blackie” over the years.  We’ve taken our fair share of bear, and brothers Darryl, Dean, and Myself have all shot bear large enough for the Pope and Young record book.  We have hunted exclusively with a bow and arrows for over 30 years.  We understand that the black bear is a wonderful resource here in Michigan.  We don’t over hunt an area, try our best not to shoot sows, and respect our quarry and their ability to outsmart us-most of the time!  The first picture is of my dad Norm and Myself with a legally taken bear from the Upper Peninsula.  The second picture is of illegally “sold” bear parts headed for the Asian market!

Recently two men were arrested for buying and selling bear parts here in Michigan.  There is a huge market for black bear parts in Asia, and it is quite lucrative!  A single dried gall bladder can be worth $30,000.00 dollars, and a single serving of bear paw s0up can go for $1500.00 dollars.  Is that nuts or what?  According to the experts World-wide trafficking of bear parts is valued at 2 billion dollars.

In the early days of bear hunting we were approached by a couple dog hunters who were “guiding” several Oriental hunters!  They seemed interested in our success and when they thought they knew us well enough asked if we were interested in a business transaction.  We told them no thanks and called the Department of Natural Resources.  They showed up and searched their trucks, checked licenses, and asked questions, but nothing came of it.  To bad cause everyone knew they were up to “no good!”  Just like these two guys from Midland who have been charged!  Bear claws are another “hot” commodity on the market.  Last I heard a single claw can go for $25.00, which means 20 claws would sell for $500.00 bucks!  I found out the hard way when a taxidermist conveniently “lost” my bear claws when I took a bear to him for a head mount.

The Special Investigating Unit of the DNR received a tip that these two guys were asking successful bear hunters to sell them bear parts.  A sting operation caught them red handed and they now face seven counts against them.  Their looking at fines, court cost, restitution, and jail time.  I’m so glad they got caught!  It’s a dark, shadowy, illegal business that could care less if every last one of our natural resources were depleted.

Anyone with any information of the illegal selling (or trading) of any Michigan wildlife or fish should call the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

Mike

Michigan Cougar Case Winding Down-Two Found Guilty!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Mindy's - Bear parts - Cougar 003Actual picture of the illegally taken cougar.  Picture was taken by the shooter.

Two of the tree suspects have plead guilty in the illegal killing of a cougar in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Troy Richards was the shooter as the cougar walked into a food plot on Mr. Richards property located in Germfast Township near Seney.

Richards, Theodore Richard,  and Todd Richard were hunting over a foodplot at Troy Richard’s Schoolcraft County hunting camp when the cougar chased several deer from the plot, according to the investigation.  Troy wounded the animal with a 22-250, and it then fled into the woods.  Troy and Theodore then tracked it the next day and finished it off.  They brought it back to camp where they field dressed it and then hid it.  They then cooked the heart and ate part of it!

Shortly thereafter the intact cougar was hidden in the bed of Troy’s pick up truck.  At the Michigan State police post in St. Ignace Troy applied for a roadkill permit claiming he had hit a deer with his truck.  They did have an untagged deer in their trailer, so the permit was granted.  All the while the illegal cougar was under a cover in the bed of the pickup.  Pretty bold move I would say!  After hearing about the deception involved in this case I’m not so sure they “really” hit a deer with the truck!

Troy Richard returned home and skinned the animal in order to prepare it for mounting.  He also boiled the skull and disposed of the carcass.

Once the Richard gang discovered that the DNR had received a tip and were on to them they repeatedly lied to the investigators. They hid the hide and the skull and claimed the whole animal was left in the U.P.  They eventually confessed and the hide and skull were retrieved.  The hunting camp was searched and the adult male cougars entrails were also found.

Troy was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three year loss of hunting privileges, fines court cost and restitution amounting to several thousand dollars, and the loss of his rifle.  He also was ordered to serve 120 hours of community service.  Theodore R. Richard pled guilty to aiding and abetting the illegal taking/possession of an endangered species and paid $1725.00 dollars in fines and cost.  He also had his hunting privileges revoked for two years, and was also ordered to do community service.  Todd A. Richard  pled “not guilt” to conspiracy to take/possess an endangered species.  Todd is Troy’s brother and runs a taxidermist shop in Bay County.  My money’s on the DNR on this one.  “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time!”

“Call of the Wild” Predator Round Up Luzerne Michigan

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

coyote luzerne 002coyote luzerne 001Just a few weeks ago the “Call of the Wild” Predator Round Up was held near our cabin in Luzerne Michigan.  The hunt began at 7:00 p.m. Friday night and ran till 12 noon Sunday.  Seventy three (73) hunters signed up comprising 33 different teams.  Several teams used coyote dogs and others worked various “sets” while calling.  The hunters with the dogs had the advantage, but the first “yote” turned in was by a father and son team who called the 29.7 pound female within range of a flat shooting 223.

A friend of mine Ken Currie (pictured) had a group of guys hunting Gary Prices property, but the deep snow kept these “old timers” at bay!  Ken said they didn’t get any coyotes, but they had a good time trying, and that’s what it’s all about. Ken did take a nice coyote during bow season last year and has the hide hanging at his camp.

Ma Deeters (local bar/restaurant) was the starting point of the hunt, and the Best Hardware store was where the successful hunters displayed their success.  There were around $1700.00 dollars in prizes with anyone bringing in a tagged coyote receiving a $1000.00 dollar bonus.  Knight and Hale (game calls) donated many of the prizes handed out.  First coyote, biggest, (41 pounds) ugliest, and longest awards were all given out at the culmination of the hunt.  Two of the dog teams garnered most of the awards.

On Sunday afternoon there were eleven (11) coyote and one fox hanging on the game pole at the hardware store.  There was an additional prize to any team that brought in the “trifecta” of predator hunting (a coyote, fox, and bobcat.)  No one collected that award this year, but one team came close.

The snow was deep, the wind had a bite, and conditions favored the coyotes, but according to the grins and stories it was a successful “Round Up!”   I was hoping that some of these “yotes” would be taken around my place, as they are becoming quite brazen in the area.  They keep hunting closer to the cabin and on occasion we have heard them actually down the unfortunate animal they were pursuing!  No doubt they take a fair share of deer, turkeys, and rabbits wherever they are found.  Hope they have more of these events in the future.

Mike