Archive for February, 2016

Polaris Sportsman 570 4X4 Report

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

FullSizeRender (6)Over the last several months I have been able to”check out” a new Polaris Sportsman 570 with electronic fuel injection. The last time I was at my cabin I was able to see just how this “beast” would maneuver in 14-16 inches of snow.

Up until last year I owned a Polaris Sportsman 330 4X4, and although it was a good machine for me, it did not handle snow very well.  In fact I had to have the neighbors tractor pull me out a of situation that I got myself in, because of some moderate snow fall.  I was about half a mile from camp and the walk for help was not a pleasant one.  I realized then that there just wasn’t enough ground clearance or “gazoopha’s” to negotiate these Northern Michigan snowfalls.  I sold it the following summer.

This new Polaris has electronic fuel injection, and a powerful 44 horse power engine.  It has on demand four wheel drive, hi and low range, and power steering to boot!  It has great ground clearance and a full 9.5 inches of travel.  The 1225 pound towing capacity is quite impressive.  The front and the back rack are rated to carry 270 pounds (all toll.)  There is even a front storage area, and many more options depending on your needs.

I hauled some bales of hay and corn where it was needed most, and had no problem negotiating the 14-16 inches of snow.  I even had a couple of trees I had to crawl over, and the low range 4X4 did the trick.  There seems to be plenty of power, and at this point, no need for a snow machine.  I’m thinking a snow plow would be a good addition for next winter.  Overall I would not hesitate to give this tough, good looking machine a 5 star rating!  I’m sold!


Common Sense On The Ausable River!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

4th at cabin 2014 198IMG_3510The Ausable River may be the best known river in Michigan.  My family and I have enjoyed fishing, swimming, floating, kayaking/canoeing it’s pristine cool waters on many occasions.

Every summer for the last 5 years we have taken a flotilla of rafts, tubes, and kayak’s down the river from the Parmelee bridge. There are places along the way to swim, wade, or drop in a fishing line, but there are also places of danger!  You cannot “steer” a raft or tube where you want it to go, as you are at the mercy of the current and eddy’s along the way.  Low hanging branches, log jams, and river side brush growing out over the water presents hazards that could be life threatening.

One way we try an avoid such instances is to “tie” off as many tubes, as we can, into one big raft.  This way we can somewhat maneuver the “ship” away from such danger, as there will be several on board with paddles.  A single tube (even with a paddle) is still at the mercy of the current, as we saw a couple years ago when my grand-daughter was swept under a large branch and had to be rescued before there was a tragedy on the river.  Kayak’s are great and very maneuverable, but they are no match for a log jam that can flip one over in an instant.  (Same goes for a canoe!)

One last word of caution is the weather.  You do not want to be on the river if a lightning storm is in the area!  Four years ago two people were killed and one seriously burnt when a lightning bolt hit the water and electrocuted them.  If you see a storm approaching get to shore as fast as possible.

Even though there are dangers this trip can be enjoyed by all if a little common sense is used by all.  We have even taken a couple 2 year olds on this trip.  As most parents know it’s the adventurous teenagers that you need to reign in!  We are all looking forward to our annual float this summer again.  I recently took a snapshot of what the river looks like in the dead of winter.  Very picturesque, but very dangerous as well!


Yellowstone And The “Lone Wolf!”

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

IMG_0965 (1)IMG_0983My grandson Quinn Russo has one of the best jobs in the world.  He is a computer technician at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. He gets to travel the park extensively in his park vehicle, and see (on a daily basis) all the wildlife Yellowstone has to offer.

He recently reported that the snow accumulation has been way down this year, and that he was able to do some skateboarding last week. Tourist season is still several weeks away, but the grandeur and beauty of his surroundings are always there.

Just a couple weeks ago he had an encounter with a lone wolf along one of the park roads.  He said it was unusual to see a wolf by itself, as they are pack animals, and usually do not stray to far from the other wolves. He surmised that this wolf may have been driven out of the pack, or has some sort of injury.  He was able to get a couple good pictures of this “loner” which doesn’t present itself to most of us!  Enjoy!


Huge Michigan Buck Downed By Archer Gary Gillett

Friday, February 19th, 2016

IMG_3566Gary Gillett is a dedicated die hard bow hunter.  He knows deer and their habits and likes to hunt them on their turf, on their terms!  No artificial conditions (bait!)

This past season he was able to gain permission to hunt a neighboring farm where he soon caught a huge buck on his trail camera.  He was able to locate the bucks core area and set up on him accordingly.  He purposely put his stand a hedge row away from the “core” area, as he did not want to bust this bruiser out of the area.

Gary hunted this deer three times in October, and twice saw him around his stand.  It was to close to dark so no arrows were released!  The deer would approach Gary’s stand through a corn field making a ton of racket as he plowed through the standing corn.  Because of this Gary nick named him “Dozer!”

On the evening of November 2nd. Gary was in his tree stand after getting off work.  Dozer did not move until just before dark and there was a doe hanging around the tree stand not long after Gary got settled in.  About 15 minutes after the doe disappeared there was some noise from the hedgerow.  Gary grunted and Dozer grunted back!  With some very loud growls the big buck presented a 14 yard broadside shot, and Gary was ready!  His arrow vanished behind the shoulder as the buck crashed through the cornfield.

Gary waited till dark and with his wife, dad, and two friends (Nathan and Wade) they tracked “Dozer” to the opposite side of the cornfield where he had piled up.  Everyone was in awe of this Michigan Monarch that was taken “the old fashioned” way; on his turf, and his terms!

Gary’s buck green scored 174 2/8″ and was aged at 4.5 years old.  After the 60 day drying period this buck may well make the coveted Boone and Crockett record book.  Congratulations Gary on your successful quest for one of Michigan’s true giant bucks.

83 Year Old Bob Leach Bags Deer Number 40!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

IMG_3552Bob and Mary Louise Leach are personal friends of mine, so I was delighted to hear about Bob’s latest deer hunting adventure. Bob is from Big Rapids and has had a long and storied life, not to mention his success in the deer woods!

You see Bob is the former football coach at Ferris State University, and also Vice President.  He is loved and honored by his former students, players, and staff, and is a well known public figure in Big Rapids.  During Bob’s tenure as Ferris football coach he elevated the game to national prominence!  Bob is one of the “good guys” who knows no stranger, and always has words of encouragement to all he meets.

This past deer season Bob bow hunted for several days, but nothing came within range of a ethical shot.  When gun season opened Bob was in a blind with his son Randy.  A buck has to have at least 3 points on one side in Bob’s hunting area.  Bob noticed a deer about 150 yards away and determined it was just a fork horn, but Randy put the binoculars on it and whispered to his dad “It’s a shooter!” Bob put the crosshairs of his 270 on the bucks shoulder and the rest is history.

When Bob approached the downed buck he was elated to see it was indeed a “shooter!” A perfect 8 pointer lay at his feet with a spread just shy of 16 inches.  Not bad for deer number 40, dropped at 150 yards, by an 83 year old hunter!

Bob and Mary Louise are now at their winter home in Florida where they have been entertaining Mary Louise brother Norman and my brother Brad, who are golfing in the area.  Been there myself, and I must say they are the best host ever!

If you want to read about Bob’s record class drop-tine buck he shot in the Upper Peninsula look in my archives by typing in Bob Leach to do a search.


Florida Python Challenge About To End!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

MIAMI – A state-sanctioned hunt on public lands for invasive Burmese pythons is about to end.

The monthlong Python Challenge ends Sunday at 7 p.m. As of Monday, organizers say 102 pythons had been caught since the competition began Jan. 16.

Researchers believe tens of thousands of pythons may be slithering through the Everglades, decimating native mammal populations. They’ve been known to grow up to 18 feet in length in Florida. Some experts believe pet owners released their Burmese into the wild when the snakes grew too big.


The first public python hunt in 2013 netted 68 snakes. Cool temperatures and more training appeared to help this year’s hunters, who are competing for various prizes.

Both teams and individuals were encouraged to enter. The hunter team with the most pythons at the end of the competition will fetch $5,000, while the individual with the most will get $3,500. The hunter team with the largest individual snake will get $3,000, while the individual will get $1,000.

The hunt’s final tally will be announced at an awards ceremony Feb. 27.

All the snakes captured were killed and turned over to researchers trying to find clues to help control the python population.

In the Florida Everglades, it is “basking season” for Burmese pythons when the cold-blooded snakes seek out the warmth of the sun. Officials say the cooler weather right now has forced more of the snakes into the open and may be helping with the tally this year.

Northern Deer Herd Observations!

Monday, February 15th, 2016

IMG_3547Just returned from the Mio/Lewiston/Luzerne area where there is 14-16 inches of snow on the ground.  The forecast was calling for a few more inches today.  Actually snow came rather late this year which is good for the deer heard, and other northern critters as well.  I observed many deer driving around and also passing through my property.  They seem to be quite healthy from what I could tell. No rib cages showing and what looked like some fat reserves still hanging on.

The last couple years it has been quite different as the early deep snow and lack of food protein decimated the Northern herd. Three deer starved to death right on my property. I’m hoping I wont see any of that this Spring.

There is a small farm, not far from my place, and the deer migrate toward the silage dumped along the woodline.  Even though the snows came late, this is always a critical time in the deer’s winter survival.  I saw several doe’s with twins and a couple with one fawn.  There was one little button buck that was by itself, but seemed to be making the best of his circumstances!  There were also a couple different flocks of turkey’s spotted that seemed to be staying ahead of the coyotes and bobcats.  Speaking of bobcats I had one walk right through my front yard three evenings ago!

I took a couple pictures of some of the runways, buried deep in the snow, around the property.  As long as the deer continue to use these highways travel is made much easier for them.  If they can hold out through February and March it should be a “good” winter for them, as far as survival goes.  After thee last several years they could use a break!


Black Lake Sturgeon Season 2016

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

The sturgeon spearing season on Black Lake was supposed to run from February 6th. through the 10th.  This is one of the most highly regulated events in the state of Michigan with DNR officers present in force, along with many sponsoring groups of the Black Lake festivities.

There were 263 registered anglers that showed up for this years event.  The DNR has set a quota of 6 fish this season, as they keep a watchful eye on any chances of overharvesting this natural resource. Rehabilitation of lake sturgeon in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the Department of Natural Resources, the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Michigan State University, and Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership.

The first two fish harvested came at 8:15 a.m. and weighed in at 26 and 42 pounds.  The larger fish (56 in.) was a female.  Fish three was a large female tipping the scale at 96 pounds and harvested at 8:22.  This turned out to be the largest fish out of the seven harvested (70 in.)  Fish four was 16 pounds and fish number five was 42 pounds.  Fish six was 13 pounds and fish number 7 was a 20 pound male caught at 9:00 a.m.  Air horns went off when the quota was met and the the 5 day season was over in a mere 45 minutes!  Six of the seven fish had been captured and tagged by Michigan State and DNR researchers during the spring spawning run on the Black River and Black Lake.


Dogs In My Life

Monday, February 8th, 2016

PhotobucketThis is my very first dog “skippy!” Actually I don’t remember much about the dog, except for the dog poop we had to dodge while playing in the back yard. Our next dog was a cocker spaniel named “blondie,” by my mother. I don’t remember an awful lot about her either, except for the day she died. We were playing outside our apartment, and blondie was chained to her dog house. I remember my mother was doing laundry in the basement, when suddenly the dog started barking and jumping all over the place. One of the neighborhood boys got too close, and Blondie tried to bite him. My mom heard all the commotion, and came upstairs to find the dog foaming at the mouth, and barking it’s head off. A couple of the neighbors came around, and they cautioned everyone to stay clear of the “mad” dog! My dad was at work, but just across the street, from our apartment, was a Justice of the Peace office. There happened to be a state trooper in the driveway, and one of the neighbors went over and got him. After checking things out he said the dog was dangerous, and he’d have to shoot him. The trooper made us all stand back, and right there before my 6-year old eyes he shot our dog! I’d never heard a pistol go off at close range, and I certainly never had something I loved , shot and killed, while I, my mother, and my brothers watched helplessly. It was quite traumatic for us all, and my dad was pretty upset when he got home. My dad didn’t think that was the way for the police to handle the situation, and I remember him going over to the J.P.’s office, next time a state trooper was there, to give them a piece of his mind!

It took us awhile to get another dog, but our next one was just what we needed. My dad picked the runt, from a litter of English setter/Irish setter mix puppies. She became family, and was with us for almost 14 wonderful years. Not only was she the best bird dog in Monroe County, she was a watch dog, and friend to boot. Her name was “Flopsey” and one of these days I’m going to devote a couple blogs to that “once in a lifetime” dog.



Turkey Drawing Results March 1st.

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Photobucket“Hurry up dad this thing is heavy!” It would seem that my son could possibly be saying those words. He is straining just a “tad.” Hope everyone got their turkey permits turned in on time. Season opener will be upon us sooner than you think. I put in for the second hunt this year for the northern lower peninsula. It’s been years since I hunted my old stomping grounds of Mio, Lewiston, and Fairview. I have some sweet memories of all those area’s, and I guess it’s nostalgia that’s drawing me back. There’s one spot in particular I want to try, but I haven’t been there in 20 years. I probably won’t even recognize it! I know part of it was timbered off, and I was told it looked like the surface of the moon when the loggers were done. It should be grown up by now, but will the turkey’s still be there? I have another option of going with a turkey lease property south of where I’m at.  My grand-daughter Ave is coming along and I really would like to get her a bird.

Do your home work guys. I plan on scouting at least twice before I decide where I’ll hunt. I picked the first season, because of the lack snow we’ve had this year. I’m betting on an early spring, but it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong on that kind of thinking. When scouting, I like to make use of my crow call, along with my owl, and peacock calls. They are “locater” calls and work best in the morning and late evening. Of course I’ll be looking for a roost, and when I find one, will steer clear of that area until opening day. Make sure you are well concealed, and if your hunting from a pop-up ground blind, get it set up several days before you hunt. Turkeys aren’t as spooky as deer when it comes to changing their living room furniture, but hunters need every advantage they can get. There’s no sense in making a wary bird even more wary by placing a “new” bush on his favorite path. The last thing we all need to remember is shoot for the head (pattern your gun) and neck area once he presents you with a good shot. I can’t wait!