Archive for October, 2014

Crossbow Safety

Friday, October 31st, 2014

001Back on September 28th. I shot a very nice Michigan black bear with my Barnett Predator crossbow.  Problem is I also got my thumb sliced by the crossbow string, which ended up requiring a trip to the emergency room in Marquette.  The E.R. Doctor told me he had treated several people who had suffered a similar fate.  One man had actually lost part of his thumb.  I was much more fortunate than that, as I only required stitches to close the gaping hole in my right thumb.  There was nerve damage and I still can’t bend it all the way.  The nerves will take awhile to heal, and the thumb will stay “numb” until they due.  I did visit a hand specialist in the Detroit area who also had treated a crossbow injury that very same week.

The internet is full of lawyers wanting to represent those that have suffered from such injury.  The only catch is you must have lost part of a finger or thumb, or damaged a tendon.  My injury was not “profitable” enough for them to want to get involved.  I did find out about a Cabela’s customer who was trying out a crossbow on their archery shooting range who lost part of his thumb, and had to be “blood trailed” through the store, as he went into shock!

Something is wrong here with the design and lack of safety features on these new modern weapons.  Their popularity has risen exponentially in the last few years, and most of the newer models have a guard to keep your fingers and thumbs out of the string rail!  You would think the manufacturers would retro-fit the older crossbows with the necessary features needed to safely shoot these powerful weapons.  Seems like that would be less expensive than a lawsuit!

As in my case it was just to darned easy to put my thumb in harms way during the excitement of the hunt.  When your quarry is standing just yards away your Adrenalin is pumping, and sometimes your “mental checklist”may not be going through your mind.  So a word of caution is due to all crossbow users young and old men and women.  If your bow doesn’t have a guard, get one!  If your in the market for a bow, make sure the one you buy has your fingers and thumbs in mind.  Take it from me the pain can rob you of the exhilaration of a successful hunt, and cause physical and financial distress on your body and wallet.


Pointe Mouillee State Game Area Deer Check Station

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Kyle, Pointe Mouillee 003Kyle, Pointe Mouillee 002Aaron Morehead and Alyshia Uthoff collecting data at the deer check station.

Late this afternoon I took my two deer out to the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area deer check point.  It’s located in Rockwood at the mouth of the Huron River.  I usually take my deer there so I can find out the age of the deer, and so the DNR can collect pertinent data on the condition of Michigan’s deer herd.

Aaron Morehead was manning the check point today, along with his assistant Alyshia Uthoff.  As always the staff at Mouillee was helpful, and answered all my questions concerning the data collecting process.  After talking for awhile I found out that Alyshia knew several of my brothers, and that she is headed for Northern Michigan University in Marquette.  I told her that’s where we bear hunt, and found out she knows where (our friends the Baldwins) business is located.  Small world!  Alyshia is a Monroe County Middle College student, and is “job shadowing” at Mouillee for the Capstone Project. She plans on majoring in Wildlife Management.

I found out Aaron is a Michigan State University graduate with a criminal justice major specializing in conservation.  Aaron said that my 6 point was the widest rack he had checked so far this year, and that it was a 3-1/2 year old deer.  The doe was a 2-1/2 year old.  Both deer were shot in the northern lower T.B. zone, and the DNR request you donate the deer’s head so they can study the brain for signs of T.B.  I gave them the doe, but the 6 point was delivered to my taxidermist this evening.  I took a green score measurement and gross score was 107.  It takes a score of 100 to make the book, so my buck will be close.

For your information the DNR deer checkpoint is open Sunday, Tuesday,and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. till noon and Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m.  Besides helping manage the deer herd here in Michigan you also receive an embroidered patch for your help and a successful hunt.




Giant Six (6) Pointer

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Oct. deer hunt two deer 006Oct. deer hunt two deer 018Oct. deer hunt two deer 049I just got in from the market where I took my buck and doe that I shot on the same day (this past Friday.)  I have had some pretty memorable hunting experiences in my life, but this has to rank toward the top of the list.  I left Monroe very early Friday morning to head up north and try to get a few of the beginning rut days in of hunting.  The deer have started to move more, according to my trail camera’s, so a weekend at camp was in order.  I could not find anyone to tag along, but my friend Ed Alger was going to be at his place and we planned to meet at some point in time.

My son-in-law and grandson had just survived a major car crash, thanks to the grace of God.  It was iffy as to whether I would be going or not, but when all test came back negative on Tony and Jacob, my wife gave me the green light.

It was just breaking dawn when I arrived.  I didn’t unpack anything, and already had my hunting cloths on.  I grabbed my crossbow and back pack and off I went.  I hardly ever use my tree stand, but today it was light enough to see the steps, so I climbed into position.  I have a food plot with a small pond, and it wasn’t long before 2 does and 2 yearlings came into feed.  Half and hour later I saw a buck scraping his antlers in a pine tree and marking the territory.  He was about 140 yards away and working in my direction.  When he spotted the does he was hooked, as the beginning of the rut was in full swing.  He skirted the open food plot and came through the thickest part of the woods.  He stopped at 20 yards, but I had two pine limbs in my way.  When he turned, as if to walk away, I got nervous!  I squatted down in the stand so I could shoot my Barnett crossbow under the branches, as I put the crosshairs on his chest.  The bolt flew right where it was aimed, as the rage tipped arrow sliced through the lungs and buried itself in the ground.  The deer whirled, and ran back where he came from, but abruptly fell over within sight.  No tracking job here!  I never have seen a deer bled so much.  Also I have never seen a six pointer of such trophy dimensions.  This deer has mass, tine and beam length, and an 18″ inside spread.  He’s weak on the brow tines, but he’s still going on the “wall!”

That evening I had no intentions of hunting.  I was just going to relax and take care of things around the cabin.  Around 6:45 p.m. I looked out the cabin window and a big doe was coming around the side of my place.  The neighbor has horses, and the deer go into his pasture and eat the horse feed.  I had my crossbow on the porch, so I grabbed my compound and one arrow and headed out the side door.  I waited at the back of my cabin, as she was going to pass within 35 yards of my “blind!”  When she appeared I aimed even with her back (20 yard pin) and let one go.  Wack!  I knew I hit her, but it looked low.  I waited awhile before retrieving the arrow and found alot of fat, but no blood.  I decided to wait for 2 hours.

To shorten the story I didn’t find her until 11 p.m. and din’t get her on the game pole till 1:30 a.m.  I was low, but did not get the guts.  The Thunderhead tipped broadhead had just sliced the bottom of the heart, yet she still made it toward the back of my property line.  She was a big older doe and along with the big antlered, big bodied buck, they looked truly impressive hanging on my game pole.  Can’t wait for some venison jerky, Italian sausage, and venison brats I’m having made up.  Ah the fruits of the hunt.  From field to freezer it doesn’t get any better than this!


11 Year Old Michigan Hunter Shoots Rare Albino Buck

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Albino buck 001Recently 11 year old hunter Gavin Dingman shot a trophy Michigan 12 point buck with his crossbow.  That’s quite an accomplishment in itself, but this particular buck was pure white.  It was a true albino, which is a pigment malfunction, that may happen in one (1) out of 20,000 thousand births!  This particular buck was shot in Livingston county and had been seen by many.  Some were in hot pursuit of the anomaly, and others were in awe just seeing the buck.  That’s where the controversy comes in.

Because it is such a rarity in nature many thought the deer should of been left alone for people to enjoy.  Others (like Gavin and his dad Mick) seriously wanted to put that buck on the wall.  There were many hunters in the area that were trying to put their Michigan tag on this buck.  It’s not just any buck, as the 12 point rack is of record book proportions!

Michigan used to protect all white (true albino’s) but lifted the ban in 2009.  Thus Gavin’s deer was perfectly legal to harvest.  The big question is “Legal yes, but ethical?  I’d like to hear where others stand on this question of “to shoot or not to shoot in this situation?”

Many years ago I had the opportunity to shoot a piebald buck (part albino) in the Lewiston area.  I never gave it a second thought as to trying to hang this rare deer on the game pole.  Would I have done the same thing on an albino?  Probably would of, but just maybe I would of thought about it for a time before making that decision.  Let me know what you think.


Fall Turkey Surprise

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Up north and Randy's birthday 008I drew a Michigan Fall turkey permit for area “J” just in case one showed up while I hunt for whitetails.  You don’t really hunt for turkey’s in the fall, as the focus is on deer hunting, and the birds aren’t responsive to calling.  So bagging a bird in the Fall is just a bonus addition to the freezer (in my opinion.)

I did not get a bird this past Spring which is kind of unusual for me, as many a long-beard have filled my oven over the years.  Fall is a different story!  Like I said turkey’s play second fiddle to deer and small game hunting during October and November.

Several days ago I was in my blind when a whole flock of turkeys ran past on my right side.  They were moving as though being chased by a pack of coyotes!  I had my crossbow, and did not figure I would get a shot, but then the lead bird suddenly stopped and all the ones following did the same.  They were about 35 yards away!  I am very comfortable with a shot out to 40-45 yards, so 35 was no problem in my mind.  It was a big hen leading the pack, and she seemed nervous. Even though hens are legal game in the fall I wanted a Tom.  I finally saw one working it’s way left of the group, and drew a bead on it’s chest.  It was quartering toward me, as I took a deep breath and held it!  Before I started putting tension on the trigger, I remembered to check where my “thumb” was at! Three weeks prior I had almost sliced it off when I shot my Upper Peninsula black bear.  Not going to pull that stunt again!  Once I made sure my hand was free of harm I squeezed off the shot.

The bolt flies so fast I can’t see it, but those lighted nocks are worth every dollar you pay for them.  Direct hit!  The bird when down in a pile as the expandable “Rage” did it’s job once again, as the glow of the nock was sticking in the ground about 10 foot past the young gobbler.  Looks like I will put meat on the table for Thanksgiving after all.


Natures Bounty Can’t Be Found At A Supermarket!

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Bear meat 002Bear meat 003One of the major reasons I hunt is because I love to eat “wild game!”  There are no additives, preservatives, insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, or other harmful additives.  Just the purest form of natures bounty, which has been proven to be much leaner and healthier than what you get from the butcher shop!  Not only that I am involved in the process from beginning to end.  I am the one responsibly for bringing home the bacon (so to speak.)  If I fail in my quest to put wild game in the freezer then my family and I have to take our chances at the local supermarket like everyone else.  I know it”s unrealistic to avoid store bought meat, but I’ll try my darnedest to always have a wild game choice sitting in my freezer.  Venison, bear, elk, small game, perch, walleye, trout, salmon, are a few of the delicacies I love to stock up on.

People that have never tried “wild game” don’t know what they are missing.  They have a pre-consieved notion as to the way it will taste, or simply shy away from anything that wasn’t raised in a barnyard!

Well last evening I unwrapped my first package of “bear sausage” and par boiled it before putting it in the oven.  I wrapped the meat with bacon and cut up a green pepper, and also sliced two onions to put over everything.  After a half hour I enjoyed the fruits of my labor.  The first one I ate on a bun with onions, pepper, and mustard-excellent!  The second and third one were minus the bread, as i just wanted to enjoy this “offering” from the canyons of “the big hole!” That’s the name that the locals have given to the area we bear hunt.  I will be taking some of this bounty over to my hunting partners house this evening and allow him to partake from this “gift” he most certainly worked for.  Bon Appetit!



Early Deer Report

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Jacob and Tony's deer 020 Buck and car 001Things are still quite slow on the deer reports.  I’m kind of surprised as many of the crop fields have been harvested, and the deer should be more venerable to an ambush!

There is one good report, and that is my 10 year old grandson Jacob shot his first!  It was a nice fat little 5 pointer that he shot with his dad’s 10 point crossbow.  Jacob made a nice shot, with the “bolt” travelling the whole length of the deer’s body.  His dad Tony waited till morning to track it, and Jacob had a big surprise for him when he stepped off the bus!  Tony had also shot a 5 pointer the same morning, so the Russo men had two bucks hanging in their back yard last week.  Tony also nailed his with the 10 point.  From what I’v been seeing (and experiencing) these new crossbows have changed the name of the game for hunters who choose to shoot them!

In another success story my neighbors son Bobby Burns shot a huge 8 pointer opening day not far from his dad’s place.  I took a couple pictures of it, but it was wrapped in linen cloth to keep the flies off, so I just focused on those nice antlers.  Please readers if you have any success give me a shout and send a picture.  I’ll get it posted and do a little story if you send me some information


“No Country For Old Men” Says “Have A Happy Birthday”

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

2014 Birthday Bear 0252014 Birthday Bear 0262014 Birthday Bear 0242014 Birthday Bear 069A few weeks ago, while performing the rigors of maintaining a bear camp, the movie “No Country for Old Men” keep playing in my head!  Not that I ever saw the movie, but the “title” sure seemed to fit the situation.

It had been several years since I had attempted to do a self guided bear hunt, and for good reason.  In the “old” days several of my brothers and a few close friends would embark on our yearly Marquette fall bear hunt.  Licenses were sold over the counter, and we always knew a butcher who could get us plenty of meat scraps.  Donuts from the bakery, and fish from Thills fish market in Marquette were always on the menu.  Of course this involved many helping hands, countless hours on the road, and the backbreaking task of checking and maintaining bear bait sites.  Some sites were 20 miles apart, which left little time for sight-seeing or actual relaxing!  I didn’t even mention setting up tree stands, or “humping” them back in the woods, or up a steep ridge.  We would always eat good in camp, but to the man we would all drop a few pounds during our bear hunt.  That was in the 1970-2000 era of bear hunting.

Because of anti-hunting pressure on our Department of Natural Resources, and our state legislators we now have a totally different bear hunting structure in place.  Permits are given on “drawing” basis.  This means the Ansel boys would no longer be hunting as a group, due to the fact that we could not be “drawn” for the same time period.  There are three different hunting time periods, and for the 1st. hunt it usually takes 5 years to draw that choice!  So you see that we now have to venture in small groups of 1 or possibly 2 which makes for a lot of work on those that are fortunate enough to draw a tag.

I usually put in for the 3rd. hunt which is later in the season and runs the month of October.  If I draw a permit I have to then talk a friend into going with me, and that’s not easy.  In fact most “friends” will only go once, when they find out about all the work involved.

Thankfully My good friend Pastor Bob Baltrip volunteered to be my “hunting buddy” this year.  In our younger days we did a lot of hunting and camping together, but the years had taken us separate ways, until fate intervened a few years ago and restored our old friendship.  I am a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure and several other issues, while Bob has a pace maker along with some limitations set forth by his heart doctor.  Our wives were somewhat concerned about the rigors they knew we would put ourselves through.  We joked with one another as to who would be giving “mouth to mouth” to the other before this adventure was over!

The day we left we had a trailer full of 4-wheelers, bear bait, tree stands, and an assortment of other necessities!  Marquette was an 8-1/2 hour drive away.  Once at the Baldwin camp we set in to unpack and ready things for maintaining three bait stations.  Carrying 75-100 pounds of bait into each bait site on a daily basis is not for the faint hearted.  It’s messy back breaking work, especially when one bait site is 100 yards up a steep ridge!  We had two sites getting hit on a daily (nightly) basis so we concentrated on those two baits, but still drove several miles to check the third site.

The actual hunting involved arriving at the stands many hours before the bear had been arriving, and then sitting quiet and motionless for long stretches of time.  The old “rear end” doesn’t do well perched high in a tree stand with a metal seat.  Legs need to move, arms fall asleep, eyes grow droopy, and “gas” wants to escape in the worst way!  Are we having fun yet?

Our third and last night in the stand Bob whispers “There’s a bear coming in!”  Now that will get you heart thumping!  To make it even more exciting it was my 68th birthday and the script was going according to plan.  A double lung heart shot put old “blackie” down within earshot (the death moan) but cost me a severe gash in my thumb.  Dragging the bear through a swamp turned out to be quite a trick for two old timers.  We huffed and we puffed, and we fell down, and we stopped to catch our breath on several occasions.  That’s when the thought hit like a “ton of dead bear!”  This is “No Country For Old Men!”

Laying in the emergency room several hours later just reinforced that thought, as the Doctor stitched up my thumb.  The crossbow string had sliced a wicked path through my flesh and tried to steal the excitement of the moment.  Even my own blood trail through the woods couldn’t quench the excitement of downing a trophy size black bear in the hills of Marquette.

Back at camp we secured the bear, and took more pictures.  My legs were sore, and my thumb was throbbing.  Both Bob and I were tired and worn out, but it was a “good” fatigue.  Gary Baldwin had helped us once we got the bear back to camp, and that made a big difference in the scheme of things.  As I laid in my bunk bed that evening my mind told me I belonged here in this wilderness place, ruled by bears and wolves.  After all I was victorious, but my body tried to remind me of the cost of that “victory!”  I decided to bask in the victory of the day, and enjoy this special birthday moment   I just hope I hadn’t ruined Bob for next years hunt in “The Country That Test Old Men!”

Grandson’s First Deer!

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Jacob and Tony's deer 021Jacob and Tony's deer 019Jacob and Tony's deer 002As you may, or may not know, I have twelve grandkids.  Seven boys and 5 girls.  Since the “Youth Mentor program” went into effect a few years ago I have been trying to get some of the kids involved in deer hunting.  Logan, Kyle, Jacob, and Ava have all tried their hand at turkey/deer hunting, but 10 year old Jacob seems to be the only one putting some meat in the freezer.

Sunday evening he was hunting with his dad Tony and shot a 5 point, but could not find any tracking blood.  Jacob put in a restless night, but knew his dad was going back out in the morning when he left for school.  Tony called me around 9:30 to give me the good news about Jacobs buck.  Tony was able to pick up the deer’s track (no blood) and followed them into a thicket where he expired.  Jacob made a nice shot with his dad’s 10 point crossbow.  The arrow clipped one lung and exited the hip as it passed through the deer.  He went approximately 80 yards before piling up to the well placed shot!

I was waiting for Jacob to get off the bus, and first thing he asked was “Dad did you find my deer?”  Tony told him “no”`so the excitement could build, as I was running a video camera.  Jacob saw me standing by two (2) deer in the back yard and he knew one was his.  Talk about an happy 10 year old.  Even though it was raining we pulled the buck out into the yard for some well deserved pictures.  Jacob not only is the first grandkid to shoot a deer, but also shot a nice turkey in the spring.

Jacob’s dad Tony had shot a 5 pointer Sunday morning, which made the day all the more special for the successful father son team.  There’s going to be some good eating around the Russo house this winter thanks to my grandson Jacob (The Hunter) Russo!

Trail Cameras Are The “Bear-ies!”

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

????????????If your not using trail cams to hunt with you are at a distinct disadvantage in the pursuit of your quarry!  This is just the second time I have used them while bear hunting, and they made a huge difference in the outcome of my bear hunt.  I had two “Cudde/Back Captures” and one Cabela’s 8 mega pixel infrared on the bait sights.

In the old days (before trail cams) it was a guessing game as to the size of the bear, the frequency of the bait usage, and the time (a.m or p.m.) that they came into the bait.  Trail cams help sort all that information out, so the hunters can plan accordingly.

Except for one of the camera’s haveing dead batteries; they worked like a charm.  The Cudde/backs use 4 “D” batteries and the Cabela’s uses 8 “AA.”  We did have some concern about bear breaking the camera’s which are not cheap, but they only got one scratch from an inquisitive bear.  Several times the cameras were adjusted for us, and I actually saw (the bear I shot) come over and sniff my camera to see if it was edible.  One huge bear that was coming in around 10:00 o’clock would lay in my dog food concoction and actually rub against the camera!  By the way the dog food mix was a big hit with the bears.  They seemed to gyrate toward it at each bait sight.

We had a sow and three yearlings coming in at 8:30 a.m. which is kind of unusual for us.  We usually bait in the mornings and do some fishing in the early afternoon.  I don’t think we have ever done a morning hunt.  Due to the various bear coming into the bait, they changed their pattern and were starting to arrive around 6:30 in the evening, which was perfect for us.  We would not of had this information without the trail cams.  We knew that one bait had a huge boar coming in, but it was late at night. We knew another bait was being hit by some big fat raccoon’s, and we knew that the bait we hunted was being hit by multiple bear in daylight hours.  For me these camera’s are worth their weight in “bear fat!”

For advice, previews, and sales click on “all about trail cams” in my links, or go to “” for some great information.