Archive for September, 2015

Bear Hunt 2015

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

FullSizeRender (88)FullSizeRender (50)FullSizeRender (78)FullSizeRender (81)Just got in from my week in the Upper Peninsula trying to get my friend Bob a black bear.  Bob had a third hunt license which opened on September 25.  We arrived at the Baldwin Camp a day early so we could freshen the two baits we had going.  One bait had been getting hit on a regular basis, but the other had not seen any action for several days.

The bait that my friend Gregg Baldwin had started for us had several bear on the trail camera, but a ground blind had to be used in the thicket that Gregg baited in.  We set up a portable blind but were only 20 yards away from the bait.

The evening of the 25th. may have been the most boring night I have ever spent in a blind!  There was no breeze, no birds, no animals, no nothing!  Not even a loud beaked blue jay!  Four hours of total silence, limited movement, and the same scenery, still, silent, and unchanging.  Was so glad to get back to camp that night.

On the second day we decided to hunt bait number 2, even though it had not been visited by a bear recently.  Windy, stand creaking, and only a squirrel and a couple of thrushes visited the bait.  Back to the cabin!

Day three of our 4 day hunt saw us back at spot number one, and wouldn’t you know it the bait pile was gone, and our trail cam showed a nice bear had been there at 6:37!  Wow! Prime time!  Boy were we kicking ourselves in the behind.

To make a long story a little shorter we sat two more evenings and saw nothing except a very large raccoon. End of story end of hunt!  You don’t get em every year, that’s hunting.  We had a good time none the less with our wives and the Baldwin family, and the use of the beautiful (off the grid) family deer hunting camp.  As always Gary Baldwin, his wife Nancy, and Gary’s dad Dick made us feel at home with their caring hospitality.  Just sitting on the camps front porch, as Big Creek meanders by, is worth the drive in itself.  Thanks Baldwin Clan!  In the immortal words of the former Governor of California “I’ll Be Back!!!”


Youth Hunt 2015 Yields Huge Monroe County Bucks

Monday, September 21st, 2015

FullSizeRender (45)IMG_1847IMG_1872The youth hunt weekend is now history, but my two nephews and brother are going to forever be part of that history!  My brother Darryl has been guiding his grand-kids ever since it was legal to take them afield.  He has a slew of boys and even one grand-daughter that loves to hunt.I don’t know if I have all of the facts correct, but this one thing I do know, two of his grandsons scored on 10 pointers on the same day, (Saturday) in the same field, 20 minutes apart! Caleb Smiley (11 years old) shot a beautiful 10 pointer on opening day.  He was using his dad’s 20 gauge slug gun, and put a “dead on ‘ shot at 75 yards.  This nice buck didn’t go far before piling up.  Grandpa and Caleb could not wipe the grin’s off their faces as the hugged and gave each other high fives!  What a beautiful symmetrical buck!  No doubt will score 120-125 and is probably a 2-1/2 year old.  Southern county deer have so much more to eat than there northern cousins, thus more protein bigger racks!

Then just 20 minutes later Tristan (Derek’s son) shot a monster of a 10 pointer.  Grandpa figured they better give this deer some time, so they waited till morning to go after this “bruiser!”  It wasn’t easy, but in the end a record class 10 pointer laid at Tristan’s feet.  More celebrating and plenty of picture-taking.  Hows that for a one day hunt with two cousins getting 10 pointers on the same day.  Tristan’s deer will no doubt go around 150 Boone and Crockett points, which is most hunters “deer of a lifetime!”

Congratulations you two deer slayers, and way to “guide” those boys grandpa!

Bass Therapy

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

FullSizeRender (33)FullSizeRender (35)Just yesterday I ventured out for what was probably my last bass outing of the year!  I’ve been fishing a small 40 acre pond my daughter lives on, and been having the time of my life.  Never a dull moment here.  The lake is teaming with sunfish and blue gill and bass are voracious!

A few weeks ago I tried using chubs for bait and they worked extremely well.  Problem is the bait shop I bought them from burnt to the ground, and I can’t find another bait store in the area that has chubs.  So yesterday I did what I’ve been doing all year.  Catching small sunfish and using them for live bait.  Quite effective with a big bobber, big hook, and a lively “decoy!”

I only caught one bass before dark, and that was actually on the pole I had rigged for sunfish!  After the sun set things started heating up as I caught three more nice bass in just 30 minutes of fishing.  I actually missed one fish, but that happens sometimes.  I had two poles with sunfish attached about 30 feet apart, and they both had a strike at the same time.  Boy that was fun!  I actually landed both fish within seconds of one another.  My wife was ready to leave for home so I had to wrap things up, but not until I tied into another “jumper!”  Landed him, took a couple pictures, and returned them to the pond to fight another day

That made 31 bass that I have landed this year.  By far the best year ever!  Some call it fishing, but I call it therapy!  Works for me!


Black Bear Prelude!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

WGI_0003Just 8 more days and my friend Bob Baltrip and I will be heading to the Upper Peninsula for Bob’s bear hunt.  We’re taking our wives this year which has never happened before.  Bear camp isn’t what it used to be, so I think these lovely ladies will be alright.  A few years ago Gary, Gregg, Dick, and the rest of the Baldwin crew put up a bear camp that was wife friendly.  It’s completely off grid, but with hot and cold water, heat, phone service, and a large screen t.v., plus a full gourmet kitchen they may not want to come home.

Oh did I mention that a large bear is hitting one of our bait’s?  We have a few pictures from a trail camera and he even came it at noon one day.  That is quite unusual in itself!  I don’t know about Bob, but I am pumped, even if I don’t have the permit.  We just hope he will continue with his appetite at our “local diner!”  Stay tuned for further updates to our quest for a Michigan black bear.


Bear Hunt 2015

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

IMG_1502The Ansel family has been bear hunting the hills of Marquette since 1973.  Our father (Norm Ansel) got his six boys involved in the sport through his boss Herman Fowler, who knew the Baldwin family in Beaver Grove.  Dick, Gary, and Gregg Baldwin taught us the ropes about bear hunting, and we’ve been enjoying this special time of the year ever since.  We could write a book about our adventures in bear camp.

Well just a few days ago another chapter was written!  Brother Randy and his son Justin drove the 450 mile drive to do some scouting and set a couple baits.  Justin had to come home to the Lansing area, and left his dad at camp to take care of the baits and report on bear activity.  Not long after Justin left Randy got hurt in a tree cutting accident and was out of commission for several days.

Opening day for bear is Sept 10th and Justin his wife Jill and children Daisy, and Seth did not arrive in camp until noon on the 11th.  Justin checked the baits, and set stands so they could hunt that evening.  Justin would take Seth with him and Jill would go with Daisy and Randy to a stand site with multiple tree stands surrounding a hillside spot we have been using for years.

Sometimes things just go according to plan as both stands produced results on that very first evening.  Seth took a respectable bear with a 30/30 while his dad watched.  He made a perfect double lung shot and the bear only traveled about 40 yards before piling up.  The father and son team could hardly believe their good fortune, when a text came in that Jill’s spot produced a bear also.  A crossbow did the job on the jet black bruin that is sure to make for a very nice “bear rug!”  What an adventure for Mom, Daughter, and Grandpa.

In all the years we’ve hunted those hills it is a rare occasion to bag two bear, on the same evening, just minutes apart! Congratulations to the happy hunting party on your quick and successful hunt.  And remember this is not the norm!  It hardly ever falls in place like this extraordinary bear hunt of 2015!


Black Bear With A Blue Head?

Friday, September 11th, 2015

FullSizeRender (9)FullSizeRender (11)Black bears come in more colors than any other North American mammal. They can be black, brown, cinnamon, blond, blue-gray, or white.

East of the Great Plains, nearly all are black. These were the first bears early settlers saw, hence the name. The melanin in black fur makes the fur resistant to abrasion in the brushy understory of eastern forests. In forested states that border the Great Plains, 5% to 25% are shades of brown rather than black. About 5% are brown in Minnesota. Blond or white individuals are rare in Minnesota, but a young white male was seen near Orr, MN, in 1997 and 1998.


In western states that have mountain meadows and open park-like forests, over half the black bears (Ursus americanus cinnamomum) are brown, cinnamon, or blond. Light colored fur reduces heat stress in open sunlight and allows the bears to feed longer in open, food-rich habitats. The lighter colored fur may also camouflage them from predators in those open areas. Ice Age predators undoubtedly used to kill black bears in open areas where the bears couldn’t escape up trees. Grizzly bears still do that in some areas today.

Honey, the resident female black bear here at the North American Bear Center, is cinnamon colored. She came from captive stock of unknown origin but likely has roots in the west.

Some non-black black bears bleach in the sun. New dark brown fur can bleach to nearly blond by the time it is shed the next summer.

white_phase.jpgTwo rare color phases are found in coastal British Columbia and southeastern Alaska where populations are isolated by mountains. The Kermode bear, a subspecies of black bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), lives on a few islands along the coast of British Columbia. Most of them are black, but in some areas up to 20% are creamy white and called Spirit Bears.

blue-gray_phase.jpgFarther north, another subspecies, the Glacier Bear (Ursus americanus emmonsii), lives in southeastern Alaska. Again, most are black, but a few are dark bluish gray with silver-tipped guard hairs. Mountain glaciers that isolated this subspecies during the Ice Age are now gone or greatly reduced. The subspecies is now only semi-isolated from surrounding populations. As these bears integrate with surrounding populations, dominant black genes will make the rare blue-gray color phase even more rare.

All that being said I don’t think anyone has ever heard of a black bear having a distinctively “blue head!”  Recently Arron Smith of British Columbia was riding home and took pictures and a video of a black bear with a blue head.  Office Paul McFadden of the British Columbia Conservation Service said the bear does not seem to be in any distress from it’s condition.  “The bear appears to be healthy and fine- it’s foraging with a cub”, he explained.  One can only guess how this unique bear got its blue head, but you have to admit it looks “natural!”  No dye job here!


Barnett Crossbows

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

As Popeye used to say when he had enough “That’s all I can stands cause I can’t stands no more!”

I bought a Barnett Predator Crossbow 4 years ago (see a review of it here) and have been quite successful with it in the field.   I did have to have a string replaced just a few months after I bought it, and until recently I have been happy with my purchase.

At the end of last deer season I noticed my cable string was starting to unravel, and my cable guide was missing.  I put the bow away thinking I would just run to the Dundee Cabela’s store and have them replace everything for me before next season.  I took it to Cabela’s a month ago and was told I would have to order the parts directly from Barnett.

I got on line and in about 20 minutes had a new cable, string, and cable guide ordered.  I was told it would arrive in 5-7 business days!  After 10 days had passed I called Barnett customer service and after finding my order number, was told it had not even been shipped yet.  Michelle told me that my order would be expedited asap!  After 7 more days I was getting a little nervous, and then the package appeared on my front porch.  Wow! Was I glad!  I brought it in the house and opened it only to find a “quiver” and no cables, string, or guide!  The invoice had the right part numbers, but completely wrong on what was shipped to me!  Another call to Barnett Customer Service!  I get an apology and sort of a song and dance routine, but am assured not to worry that my order will be taken care of promptly.  I’m frustrated, but what are you going to do?  I need those parts!

Another 6 days goes by and I email customer service and let them know that I am a writer and have written a few articles praising Barnett products.  I let them know I wasn’t a happy camper and that the power of the pen is mightier than the sword! Just a few days ago my mailbox has the package from Barnett and low and behold there is a cable, string, and cable guide in the package!  I’m frustrated, but very glad my ordeal is over, or so I thought.

I then take my crossbow and the replacement parts to Cabela’s to get restrung.  A friend of mine (Frank Costello) was working in the archery department and tells me he’ll have it done in a half an hour.  I wonder around the store picking up a few odds and ends for deer camp, then go to get my bow!  Its all done, but Frank tells me the string Barnett sent is the wrong one.  He just happened to have one that would work, and returned the wrong string to me!  I was flabbergasted!  The string had the right part number, but whoever packed it put a 50 inch string in the packing tube.  Inexcusable!

Another call to Michelle was in order.  I was now concerned about the charges to my credit card and asked for my invoice.   I explained that I better not be charged for parts I didn’t order or want.  When I got the invoice I saw I “was” charged for the wrong string ($30.00) I thought “That does it!”  If this is how Barnett treats their customers they will never have to worry about me again.  Don’t need the aggravation, as there are many other brands to choose from.  Probably no big deal to Barnett, but I will no longer sing their praises on my blog or to my family and friends!


Destination Glen Arbor

Monday, September 7th, 2015

IMG_1231IMG_1227IMG_1154Traverse City Michigan always gets a lot of attention all year round in Michigan.  It is a favorite travel destination for tens of thousands every year, and rightly so.  We have been to the Traverse City Cherry Festival the last two years, and enjoyed the downtown shops and eateries.  But that is not what I intend to draw your attention to.

Just West of Traverse City, right off of 72 is the charming little hamlet of Glen Arbor.  Shopping, food, Sleeping Bear dunes National Seashore, Bed and Breakfast, house rental, fishing charters, and of course the Sleeping Bear Dunes themselves are but a sample of the good things that await you in the Glen Arbor area.

We stayed just a short walk to a Lake Michigan bay, from which we could look across and see the northern most point of the dunes.  We had kayak’s at our disposal and put them to use on the cool, blue, waters of the bay.  The shore was rocky where we were at (not much sand) and the water dropped off fast!  Twenty five foot off shore it was over my head, and it took some time getting used to the chill when entering.  We had a great time with the kayak’s as 6 of us tried our hands at paddling these crystal clear (and calm) waters.  No one tipped their craft, but I did experience sore shoulders from the paddling.  I wanted to take some photo’s from out in the lake, but I was afraid I might lose my Canon, so decided against it.

My family and I highly recommend this beautiful part of Michigan, but if you plan on staying you must book early.  This little secret is out of the bag and vacancies are rare!

Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes

Friday, September 4th, 2015

image1[1]image3IMG9523251We recently spent 3 days at a rental property in Glen Arbor Michigan.  Our house was just about 100 yards off of Lake Michigan tucked away in a huge bay.  Actually you could see part of the sleeping bear Dunes from the deck around the house.  We had a bon-fire the first evening and made plans for the following days activities.

Everyone had decided that the nature walk at the Sleeping Bear Dunes should be our first great adventure.  There were several trails to choose from, but our crew (I call them “the no clue crew”) thought they were up for the 3.5 mile round trip hike that led to Lake Michigan.  After climbing the first two sand dunes four (4) of them Lorna, Tara, Addy, and McKenzie decided they had gone far enough.  That left Dave, Mindy, Glen, Matt, Nadia, Michael, Keegan, Ava, and Kyle to conquer their doubts and fears, and press on!  Dave was carrying a backpack with 10 water bottles and a few other odds and ends which made for a substantial load.  At the halfway point there was a sign that read “If you do not have enough water for the rest of the hike, please turn back!”

To make a long story somewhat shorter they all made it to Lake Michigan, but had forgotten their swimming suits.  No matter, the cool clear waters were calling them in for a refreshing swim.  It was 85 degrees that day and the lake was a welcome relief. The hike back was a brutal test of will power and endurance.  Two from the group actually crawled on their bellies for a time.  Three and a half miles up steep sand-dunes is not for the out-of-shape or faint-hearted  Those conquering hero’s were so happy when they finally reached the parking lot with their shaking legs and parched lips!  They all said they were glad they did it, but they would never do it again!

Now that makes them almost as smart as me, as I kept my 69 year old butt glued to a Lazy Boy and channel surfed next to a big fan.  I could see the dunes off in the distance, and that was good enough for me, as I sipped on a lemonade and enjoyed the cooling lake breeze!

Idaho Bowhunter Attacked By Female Grizzly

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Grizzly 001An archery hunter pursuing elk is recovering after being attacked in Idaho by a grizzly bear with three cubs.

Wildlife officials say they could find no signs the bear had been wounded when the hunter fired at it with a .44-caliber handgun.

Gregg Losinski of Idaho Fish and Game on Tuesday said the hunter received no broken bones but had soft-tissue damage to his left hand and arm from the Monday morning encounter in eastern Idaho in the Island Park area below Sawtell Peak. That’s about 15 miles west of Yellowstone National Park.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries said the hunter, Mike Adams of Idaho Falls, used his cellphone to call for help and officials were able to use an advanced 911 system to pinpoint his location and direct him several miles out of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest using the easiest route to a waiting ambulance.

“He had an arm chewed up pretty good,” the sheriff said. “He was able to wrap it up and stop the bleeding and walk out.”

Adams was taken to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was treated and released.

The estimated grizzly population in the 19,000-square-mile Yellowstone ecosystem is 757 bears, and they are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Losinski said a team of seven investigators went to the area on Monday that Adams marked with a GPS. Losinski said the team found Adam’s hat, evidence of a grizzly bear in the area, and a dead deer the bear was likely feeding on because it had been “cached,” or covered with dirt.

He said the team spent about six hours in the area but found no signs the bear had been wounded. If the bear had been shot, “with that caliber of handgun, you would expect to find something,” Losinski said.

Adams could not be reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Losinski said a creek in the area running full from recent storms likely prevented the bear from hearing Adams approaching.

“To be a good hunter you have to do everything we recommend people not do,” Losinski said. Officials advise people traveling in bear country to go in groups and make noise, the opposite of what successful hunters do.

He said the bear’s quick attack and then flight is typical of a surprised bear protecting cubs or food.

Losinski said Adams is left-handed and had bear pepper spray on his left side, but couldn’t get to it during the attack. Losinski said Adams with his right hand was able to reach his handgun on his right side and fire shots that Adams told officials he thought struck the bear.

“He was doing off-hand shooting while being attacked by a bear,” Losinski said. “How accurate he may have been no one knows.”

Losinski said he doesn’t anticipate the hunter will face any charges as he did nothing wrong.

“I wasn’t surprised when we had an encounter between a hunter and a bear,” said Humphries, the sheriff, noting his office has been fielding complaints about bears over the summer.

Officials euthanized a 25-year-old male grizzly bear in the Island Park area last week after it repeatedly broke into buildings. Officials said its advanced age and decreasing ability to forage naturally increased the potential for conflict.