Archive for January, 2016

Michigan’s Whitetail Winter!

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

IMG_2644 (1)IMG_3414This is the time of year some people start hunting for deer sheds.  If the snow’s not to deep they can be quite easy to find.  I have found a couple sets around my place over the last few years and both have been in or around my food plot.

This is also the time of year that can make or break a whitetails chance of surviving the winter.  Cold temperatures, howling wind, deep snow and lack of protein enriched food sources all add up to a disaster in the deer woods.  Last year I found a very young fawn frozen underneath my picnic table by the cabin.  Snow was about 20 inches deep in the woods, and this deer was just to small to negotiate the deep snow in search of food.  Coyotes had not touched this deer, but one that died just off my property line was consumed by “yotes!”

A friend of my brother Darrel’s went shed hunting recently and discovered a beautiful full set from a trophy 8 pointer.  Trouble is the head and body was still attached to the deer.  The carcass had been partly consumed by the forest scavengers so there was no way to tell if the deer had been mortally wounded during hunting season or whether some other calamity happened.  Would hate to be the hunter that may have lost that deer!

So far Michigan has had a untypically mild winter Michigan, and not too many are complaining.  I have several deer on my trail camera from the last few weeks and they all look very healthy.  No doubt about “mild winters” helping the deer make it through till Spring.  Anyone who has lived in Michigan for very long knows the weather is a fickle chap, and can change in a heartbeat.  I’m just hoping that the winter stays on pace to be nothing but “mild!”

Deer and Turkey Fight for Winter Survival

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

WGI_0112WGI_0107How in the world do deer and turkey make it through a brutal Michigan winter without help from somewhere?  There are five or six counties in Michigan where it is illegal to supplement the feeding of the whitetail deer.  It’s called the “no baiting zone,” or T.B. area!  I know many property owners who have seen the deer number plummet over the last 10 or so years in these area’s.

We used to hunt around Lewiston (in the T.B. area) and it wasn’t unusual to see 10-20 deer every day.  We quit hunting our old stomping grounds due to the absence of deer in the area.  Doe permits are almost unlimited, and you can purchase them over the counter.  I’m sure some local’s still put out corn or a bale of hay during the tough winter months, and honestly who can blame them.  There is only so much nutrition in a hemlock or cedar tree!

There used to be an area we would drive to called “The grass farms!”  These were huge chunks of private property who’s frontage were usually planted in wheat or rye.  We would see hundreds and even thousands of deer driving around this area along with hundreds of other sightseers.  This last year I drove through the area and did not see one deer!  How can this area that used to support great herds of deer, now be almost void of deer in this their natural habitat?

A couple weeks ago I was working on my cabin and watched a flock of turkey trying to negotiate 12 inches of snow.  Turkey only fly as a last resort, but running in this deep snow really slowed down their progress.  A hungry fox or coyote wouldn’t have any trouble chasing one down, if they didn’t make it to flight!

Thank goodness there is a small farm in my area that discards it’s silage near the edge of their property.  Not much of a meal, but if it’s the only source available the deer and turkey aren’t to fussy.  I’m hoping that somewhere along the line the baiting ban is lifted and the DNR decriminalizes the feeding of our natural resources!


Spring Turkey License Deadline Fast Approaching

Monday, January 25th, 2016

C-Usersmockeridge577DesktopIMG_0787 (1)February first is the deadline to mail in your Spring turkey permit application. Don’t procrastinate or you may miss out on one of the best hunts Michigan has to offer.

Back in 1977 there was only a 25% chance of getting a license, and hunter success was only 10%.  A total of 400 turkeys were taken that year.  Move up to 2015 and there was a 100% chance of getting a permit, with hunter success running around 30%, and 30,000 turkeys harvested.  My how things have changed in the turkey woods!  Today turkeys inhabit most counties, and there are more areas open to Spring turkey hunting than at any time in the history of Michigan.  The reintroduction of the Eastern wild turkey to the Michigan landscape has been one of the Department of Natural Resources rousing success stories!

In those early years I applied year after year before finally getting a permit.  I fell in love with trying to outsmart a Tom turkey, and get him within range of my model 870 Remington shotgun.  It took a few tries, and more than a little luck to put my first long bird on the ground, but the last 20 years have been super productive.  On many occasions I have taken 2 birds in a season, due to a fall hunt giving me that opportunity.  Over the years I have transitioned from shotgun, to bow and arrow, to crossbow.  For the last three years I have taken turkey with both my bow and my crossbow.  I have also guided my grandson Kyle on 2 successful hunts, and am trying to get one in the sights of my 12 year old grand daughter Ava.

The picture posted is in the area I will be taking Ava this year.  Lots of birds and little pressure.  That sounds like a successful hunt just waiting to happen.  Once you observe a long beard strutting into your decoy set-up you will be hooked on Michigan’s Spring turkey bonanza in the pure Michigan wilds!


Crockpot Rabbit!

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

IMG_2526.JPGThis is the time of year (after deer season, and before spring turkey) that I start getting a little restless for something to do outdoors.  Well that’s why hunting rabbits is such a favorite winter sport.  Trust me it’s not for the “faint of heart!”  Deep snow, cold temperatures, and thickets full of briers and prickers are all part of a rabbit hunters day!  If you have a couple good beagles it can save you some wear and tear on your cloths and body, but if you have to “invade” the thickets and brush piles on your own, you will earn every “bunny” you bring home.

Around here there is only a dusting of snow on the ground, but up north they have plenty of tracking snow.  In fact snowshoes are in order for parts of the northern lower and most of the Upper Peninsula. Rabbits seem to make more of an appearance on those sunny (less windy) days as they forage for food.  We used to hunt along the ditches of the railroad tracks where there is thick cover and a food source.

Once you get a rabbit or two you need to have a plan as to how you will cook it.  Here is one of my favorite receipts! Cut 2 rabbits into serving pieces.  Salt and pepper according to your taste.  Place the rabbit in a crockpot and add 8oz. tomato sauce, 15 oz. diced tomatoes, chopped medium onion, a clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp. of rosemary, and 1 cup of dry white wine.  Stir everything together, cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve and enjoy the fruits of your labor.



Sandi LaFountain’s Monster 2015 Bucks!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

IMG_3384IMG_3385Sandi LaFountain did the unimaginable this year while deer hunting her property in Allegan county.  Her and her husband own 30 acres, and most of it is thick swamp. That’s where the bucks tend to hang out, so Sandi and her husband like pursuing the big boys that “hunker” down there.

Late in October Sandi wasn’t feeling up to par and she decided to hunt the woods bordering the thick swamp.  She has a tower blind there that she had not hunted in several years.  It turned out to be an awesome choice!  Early in the hunt she had 6 doe come around her stand, and when they all turned, with ears perked toward the swamp, she knew something was coming her way.  It turned out to be an enormous buck that was showing off for the ladies, and presented Sandi with a great broadside shot. The bolt from her crossbow flew true, and the Monster deer piled up within 80 yards!  Sandi could hardly breath as she walked up on her massive 11 pointer!

The swamp monster had a green B&C score of 166 3/8 points and a green net score of 163 2/8 B&C points.  Her deer is potentially a new women’s crossbow state record.  The current record is 160 5/8 B&C points.

As if that wasn’t enough Sandi downed a 14 pointer on opening day of gun season in her swamp.  This buck was interested in some scent Sandi had placed about 80 yards from her blind, and when given the opportunity she double lunged him with her Remington 1187 20 gauge.  He still managed to travel 200 yards before piling up.

Sandi has not had the 14 pointer scored yet, but says it’s not quite as big as her crossbow deer.  None the less it is a trophy any hunter would be proud to hang on his/her wall.  What an incredible season you had Sandi LaFountain!  Congratulations on your record book year.


Gun Manufacturers In Democrats Crosshairs!

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

IMG_2414Gun manufacturers could be sued by victims of gun violence under new legislation from Democrats.

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would roll back long-standing protections enjoyed by the gun industry that shields it from many lawsuits.


The bill would make firearms manufacturers and dealers liable for harm caused by the weapons they sell. The legislation is being circulated on Capitol Hill and could be released later this month, though it is not likely to pass in the Republican-controlled Congress.
“Congress passed a unique form of immunity for only one industry — and that is the gun industry,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told The Hill in an interview.

“If you’re a carmaker and your airbags kill someone, you’re potentially liable,” continued Schiff, one of the lawmakers behind the gun control bill. “If you’re a pharmaceutical company and sell faulty drugs, you can be held liable. If you’re a liquor store and sell alcohol to minors, you can be held liable.”

“Why should it be any different for gun manufacturers?” he asked.

Congress approved the controversial Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005. It is intended to protect the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits.

The new bill would repeal these protections. Schiff is teaming up with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to build support for the legislation on Capitol Hill. He recently sent a Dear Colleague letter calling for an end to “immunity” for the gun industry.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the effort.

Democrats say the bill targets irresponsible gun dealers who sell firearms to “straw purchasers,” which act as intermediaries between dealers and criminals.

Straw purchasers often buy hundreds of guns from a dealer or manufacturer and then sell them on the black market to people who might not pass the required background checks.

Gun manufacturers and dealers who sell to suspected straw purchasers could be dragged into court under the legislation.

“There are straw purchasers who will buy dozens of the same gun,” Schiff explained. “It’s quite clear they’re not buying those guns for personal use. Who needs that many of the same gun?

“If they’re no longer immune, they’ll be more careful who they sell to,” he added.

Are You Smarter Than A Whitetail Deer

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

These trail cam pictures were taken on January 1st and the following days after the close of deer season.  During my 16 days sitting in my various ground blinds I saw a total of 4 deer.  One was a buck that I barely got a glimpse of. Just this last weekend I was at my cabin and checked my trail camera next to camp.  These are pictures of three of the five bucks that were in my side yard.  The other two were spike horns. There were also hundreds of pictures of doe and yearlings at all hours of the day wandering back and forth between my place and the neighbors farm.  So I ask the question “Are you smarter than a whitetail deer?”  Apparently not!  Well at least I know that several bucks survived bow and gun season, and the does seem to be healthy. Winter snow has been late coming, and maybe the herd will escape the ravages of the last two winters brutal conditions.

I just need to educate myself a little better on the habits and where-a-bouts of these smart and elusive deer if I’m going to enjoy venison next year! In the meantime I’ll have to be satisfied with borrowing a package or two from my 10 year old grandson Kyle.WGI_0228WGI_0367WGI_0445WGI_0540

Ma Deeters Rising From The Ashes!

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

IMG_3355Back on October 1st a Northern Michigan landmark burned to the ground.  Ma Deeters was a favorite watering hole, restaurant, pizza parlor for snowmobile’rs, hunters, and vacationers in general. We especially liked to order their pizza or do the Friday night fish fry.

It was a disappointing hunting season (no deer,) but not being able to “chow down” on a Ma Deeters pizza added to the “empty game pole blues!”

Ma Deeters was opened in 1921 by Anna (Ma Deeter) and William Deeter as a restaurant/bar with some sleeping quarters upstairs.  It served the local loggers and hunters well until 1941 when the new owners tore down the original building and rebuilt the building that succumbed to flames this past fall!  That building was thought to be the “largest commercial log building east of the Mississippi!”

You could blink your eyes and miss Luzerne if traveling down M72 headed for Grayling, but you couldn’t miss Ma Deeters!  The old log building was probably better know than the community it served.

There is good news on the horizon, as Ma Deeters is on its way back!  I talked with Marlene Kaminski, who along with her husband Dave, own Luzerne Hardware and Sporting Goods, and she said the owners are hoping for a May grand opening. That is some good news for the local economy and for all the patrons who miss the log cabin atmosphere and nostalgia of the one and only “Ma Deeters!”

Bobcat Season Unfolds In Michigan’s Forest

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

IMG_2544I was just wondering how many Michigan hunters have seen a bobcat in the wild during their years in Michigan’s great outdoors.  I have only seen one, but caught one on a trail camera and seen two while driving in a vehicle.  I would have to conclude that they know how to stay away from humans, and that their population isn’t going to soon over run us!

I say that to lead into this blog about my brother Darryl and his second bobcat harvest in as many years.  He again hunted with Jim Shephard and his amazing blue tick hounds.  Jim hunts the Northern Lower during the January to March bobcat season and is a total professional concerning his craft.  He hunts hard and expects his clients to do the same.

Brother Darryl will be 66 years old January 31st, and by his own admission was tested to the max on this years hunt.  Again there was about 10 inches of heavy wet snow on the ground for his adventure. Following the baying of the dogs into dense heavy underbrush is for the young or foolish.  One thing Darryl has going for him is he walks many many miles during deer season and is in better shape than most everyone I know, including the youngsters!

The Onaway area is true northern bobcat country, and will test the desire of your heart, and your stamina to the limits!  Darryl hunted right up to the final day of the hunt before the dogs barking told Jim that they had one treed!  Last year the fight was on the ground, but this years cat decided his safety was 40 foot up a tree.  Darryl so wanted to take a cat with his bow, but that just never worked out, so he dropped his quarry with one shot from a shotgun.  Jim and his dogs did their job and little brother did his.

This years cat weighed close to 30 pounds and has some very unique markings.  It will make a beautiful mount and this hunt will hold special memories that only those that experience such an adventure can truly appreciate!  If any readers are interested in a similar hunt give Jim a call at 989-733-4147.


Apply For A Spring turkey Permit Now

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that the spring turkey hunting application period is now open.

“If you are looking to hunt one of the limited-license turkey hunts, make sure to apply now,” said DNR upland game bird specialist Al Stewart. “If you’re looking for broader statewide options in your hunt, you may want to wait and purchase Hunt 234.”

The 2016 spring turkey season runs April 18 through May 31, with several different hunt periods to choose from.  The Spring Turkey Digest explains regulations, season dates and hunt units.

Hunt 234 licenses go on sale over the counter, with no application required, March 15. Hunt 234 offers the most days to hunt, as it is valid from May 2-31 and is open statewide except on public land in southern Michigan.

“In Michigan, spring turkey season is a big deal,” said Stewart. “We’re ranked seventh in the nation for turkey harvest, harvesting over 30,000 turkeys while providing a variety of quality hunting options.”

Through Feb. 1, a $5 spring turkey application may be purchased anywhere hunting licenses are sold or online at Hunters may purchase only one spring turkey hunting license.

Spring turkey video thumbnailFor more information about spring turkey hunting, watch thisYouTube video or visit

Beginning March 1, applicants can check whether they were drawn for a license at Any leftover licenses will be sold until the quota is met in each hunt unit and hunt period.

A base license is required for every resident and nonresident who hunts in Michigan. Hunters may purchase a spring turkey license only after they have obtained a base license for the year. The 2016 base license is available beginning March 1 and is not required to apply. The base license is also a small game license.