Archive for September, 2016

The Bear Hunters Return

Friday, September 30th, 2016

img_6590img_6589Anyone who has ever done a self guided bear hunt knows the work involved in preparing for such!  Collecting bait, packing, trailers, four wheelers, trail camera’s, guns/bows and ammo, food, tree stands and ground blinds are but a few of the items on any bear hunters check list.  Where we go a four wheel drive vehicle is a must, and I had just leased a brand new Dodge Ram Quad Cab 4×4!

Dave and I had a definite advantage over most bear hunters in the fact that our bear camp host (Gary Baldwin) was baiting for us.  We have been hunting near Marquette for 43 years at Gary and Dick Baldwins camp.  They are like family and half the joy of bear camp is visiting with the Baldwin family.  Gary had contacted us prior to our departure and said both our baits were getting “tore” up!  What music that is to a bear hunters ears!  Black bears are trying to fatten up for the upcoming winter hibernation, so we knew they would be sticking around our area.

Dave runs a business and only had four days to spend in the field, but I felt confident that was plenty of time to hang at least one bear on the game pole!  When we arrived, after our 500 mile journey, Gary was there to greet us with a grin on his face.  It was good to see our old friend, and he had good news concerning our hunt.  We unloaded and put 400 pounds of bear bait in the garage, and were anxious for Gary to take us to our “hot” spots!  All three of us jumped on Gary’s side by side, and up the steep Marquette hills we traveled.  Both spots were just like we were told -“tore up!” We couldn’t wait to get in our stands that evening.

Dave was shooting his AR-15 chambered in 308 and I was shooting my Excalibur crossbow.  That first evening was perfect, but no bear came in for a “fast food” meal!  Much of our bait was from Mcdonald’s. The whole trip went downhill from there as a weather front moved in with wind and rain which lasted for 5 straight days.  The whole time we were in camp the baits were never touched once!  In 43 years of doing this hunt I have never had my butt kicked, this bad, by the weather!  We toughed it out, and sat in the stand for four nights, at 4 hours at a time, only to see a few raccoons and red squirrels!  I guess that is why you call it hunting and not “killing!”

We still managed to have a good time, which I will follow up on in the next few post.  Now it’s time to get ready for that elusive whitetail buck!


43 Years Of Friendship and Bears!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

img_6545img_6550img_6546img_6564img_6558img_3876-jpgWho would of ever imagined that 43 years ago the Ansel family would have a chance encounter with the Richard Baldwin family and his son’s Gary and Gregg? We met Gary through my dad’s boss Herman Fowler.  Herm just happened to be Gary’s wife Nancy’s uncle!  Upon that chance meeting we were invited to come to Marquette on a fall bear hunt.  Over four decades later were still going to the Baldwins deer/bear camp in the hills south of Beaver Grove!

Much has transpired over those years.  Our first hunt was in 1973 and my dad was the leader of this fledgling bear hunting party.  We hung two bear on our very first attempt due to the excellent bear guiding of Gary.  That first year we stayed at the old one room camp that was on the way out to make room for the new one to be built the old fashioned way (by hand!)  All it took was Baldwin logs, sweat, and ingenuity! My dad passed away just after his fourth year at camp, but he also took his first bear that year.  He was able to enjoy the new camp for two years. That camp lasted for 36 years, until Gary decided to get off grid and build a camp that the women in his family would enjoy.  Gary, Greg, Dick, and a few family friends outdid themselves on this new place.  It should outlast us all, and  get plenty of use by the upcoming generation of Baldwin and Sides boys.

Just last week my brother Darryl and his grandson Tanner took nice bear, and Derek had a chance, but came up empty handed. Those two bear make a total of 47 black bear we, and a few close friends, have taken over those memorable years. Dave and i hope to add to that total.  I will be leaving tomorrow for the third hunt along with my daughters boyfriend Dave.  Gary has been baiting for us and the reports are excellent!  This is as exciting as it gets!  I am so looking forward to seeing all the Baldwin clan and spending time with them as we relive days past and hope for successful tomorrows.

It may be a week or so before I can blog again so be patient with me Ken Currie.  I hope to write a great report about our 43rd. year of adventure and friendship! I’m going to post some random pictures from over the years.


Wrong Way To Interact With a Black Bear!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

With warmer months coming to an end, bears and other animals that hibernate are trying to pack on as much weight as they can before winter. Which means that bears may be a little bolder than usual.

Recently, Willem Zuur of New York had a long encounter with a younger black bear which ended up on his property in search for some food. While Zuur eventually did scare away the bear, his interaction is a perfect example of what not to do when you see a bear.

While black bears are less aggressive than grizzly bears, they have been known to attack humans and have killed upwards of 60 people since 1900. While this number may seem low, black bears are not an animal you want hanging around your yard, especially if you have young kids like Zuur.

After talking to the bear like it’s a sweet puppy, Zuur finally decides it’s time to actually scare the bear away. Unfortunately his first method is to go outside of his house, yell at the bear and chase it away using a broom.

Eventually, Zuur decides that shooting some bottle rockets is a better plan, but the first firework malfunctions and hits him in the ribs.

Unfortunately, the commotion just gets the bear curious, and it comes closer to the home.

“Yeah, this not safe. He’s definitely not afraid of me,” Zuur says to someone off camera.

Zuur shrugs off the bear because “he’s just a black bear” and when the person off camera tries to tell him that there have been cases of black bears attacking if they’re hungry, Zuur admits to feeding the bear.

I just fed him, though,” Zuur responds.

UPDATE: Sept. 20, 2016, 5:55 p.m. EDT Zuur claims that he did not feed the bear and in this statement he was referencing unintentionally feeding the bear with seed and trash.

Eventually after some door slamming and yelling, Zuur manages to shoot off another rocket which sends the bear running.

Turkey Talk

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

img_5786IMG_6064I started raising Turkeys back in May.  I bought one big Tom and his girlfriend along with two other females.  He quickly fertilized all three of them and in a short while I had three hens sitting on nest.  I also bought some 2 day old chicks that have grown much faster than I expected.  They are going through the turkey feed like I own a feed store!

Anyway the nesting hens had a total of 32 eggs, but only hatched 7 chicks!  The hens abandoned the nest as soon as the first couple chicks hatched.  I’m baffled about that one?  Out of the seven there are only three left.  One drowned and three were killed by an opossum.  I live trapped the critter and he went to his just rewards.  The three that survived roost with their mothers and can fly as well as the adult birds.  I have a one acre pen with a pond that I keep them in, so they have plenty of room to roam.

The four month old chicks are actually sub adults now and should be ready for Thanksgiving dinner by November.  It would of been much cheaper to buy a butterball at the grocery store, and a lot less work!  I think this will be my one and only venture into being a turkey farmer.  To much work and to much mess, as they are not the cleanest birds around.  I hope the rest of my family appreciates their organic turkey dinner this year, cause it isn’t happening next year!


2016 Youth Hunt Report

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

img_6512-1img_6517img_6520I am going on record that the 2016 Michigan special “youth hunt” will be a “bust” for many participants!  I base that assumption on the weather!  Yesterday it rained all morning till about 2 in the afternoon, and no self respecting deer was going to move to much in that mess.  They were “holed” up staying warm and dry somewhere, while we were getting our butts kicked by Mother Nature!  The evening cleared up for several hours of sun and blue skies, but the deer did not move till late!  That is day one!

Day two dawned cool, foggy, and raining cats and dogs, but no deer falling from the skies.  My brother Darryl is hunting with 3 of his grandkids and he was going to pick up the trail of one Jackson hit last evening, early this morning.  good luck with that brother!

There was one Ansel that did very well yesterday and that was Seth.  He is Justin’s son and Randy’s grandson.  Randy bought a large chunk of deer infested property this year near Onaway and Seth christened the camp with the first deer of many I’m sure!  It was a very nice eight pointer.  Way to go Seth.  Maybe his sister Daisy can get hers today!

Kyle and I hunted around Jackson, but we didn’t see a thing.  We still have the regular season, and I’m quite confident we can get Kyle his third deer of his young hunting career.  We had a good time together even if we did get a little wet.  Now we just have to go north to the cabin in a few weeks and hope for better weather!


Michigan Youth Hunt 2016

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

img_1579img_1585img_1593The 2016 Michigan Youth hunt is just two days away, and two of my grandkids are looking forward to it!

Jacob Russo, Kyle Pafford, and Ava Taylor all were very late in trying to find somewhere to take the required hunter safety course.  all of them have used up their Mentor and Apprentice hunts, and must now have the Hunter Safety class in order to get a hunting license.  It seemed like the on-line course would be their only option and Carleton and Dundee Michigan were holding a field trial day required to complete the course.

Jacob was able to zip through his 9 lessons and take his field test in Carleton, while Kyle and Ava were struggling to find time to complete the rigorous class.  Kyle finished his on Tuesday and took his field test Wednesday at the Dundee Sportsman’s Club. There were 15 adults/youth who took the field day class and only 2 of them received a perfect score!  My grandson Kyle was one of them.  Ava will have to complete her’s later in October as she just couldn’t complete the on line testing due to her many school activities!

Jacob will be hunting this weekend with his dad Tony.  They have been scouting a nice 8 pointer around their home.  I will be taking Kyle over to Jackson to hunt my brother Brad’s place.  One day is all were going to get, as we have a couple birthdays Sunday.  The 20 gauge Remington model 870 is sighted in and ready to put some venison in the freezer.  Rain is in the forecast, but we have our poncho’s to keep us dry. We’re excited!


2016 Story Book Bear Hunt

Monday, September 12th, 2016

img_3899img_3896img_3876-jpgAs many of you know the Ansel Family has had a love affair with hunting black bear out of the Baldwin camp since 1973!  In case your counting that’s 43 years!  Three generations of Ansel’s have hunted the hills of Marquette Mich. due to the tutoring and generosity of our friends Dick, Gary and Greg Baldwin; not to mention the rest of the family (Nancy, Matt, and Paula.)

Since the state of Michigan went to the lottery system in order to draw a bear permit we have been “hit and miss” concerning drawing permits together.  Well this year my brother Darry, his son Derek, and grandson Tanner all drew first hunt permits. That is very hard to do the way the point system is set up.

A couple weeks ago they made the long drive to Marquette from Monroe to set baits and put up stands.  Two of those baits were hit the very first evening, which was a good sign of things to come.  Gary Baldwin kept the baits fresh while the three lucky hunters anticipated September 10, the season opener.  Gary had been sending reports of multiple bear in all the baits, with one or more even breaking into a storage shed that Darryl had stored bear bait in!

With Darryl’s truck filled to maximum capacity they arrived at camp late Thursday night (Sept 8th.)  The 9th was spent rebaiting stands and figuring out who was going to hunt where.  This was Tanners first hunt and Gramps was going to sit in the double stand with him!  Opening day it was super windy and raining!  Not the kind of day you anticipate.  Upon checking the trail cam, at camp arrival, they discovered that a massive 4-500 pound male was hitting one of the baits.  That is where Tanner and Darryl spent the first evening.  An average size bear came in right around 7:30, but Tanner decided to pass.  All the guys were hunting with bow and arrow and Tanner knew there were bigger bear in the area.

Sunday morning dawned cool. clear, and no wind!  A perfect day to fill your tag.  That evening Tanner and Darryl were on stand for several hours when at 7:15 a respectable boar came within range.  Tanner decided this bear would do just fine for his first bear and he unleashed his arrow which flew true to it’s intended mark.  Gramps filmed the whole thing!  They knew it was a fatal shot and there were more bear in the area, so they stayed in the stand to give Darryl an opportunity.  Sure enough just before dark (7:50) a nice blackie came in and gave Darryl the shot he wanted.  He released the string and the arrow flew true to it’s mark.  The bear “woffed” and was down in seconds!  Two bear, same stand, same evening, by a 66 year old hunter and his 18 year old grandson!  You talk about the thrill of a lifetime, and Tanner taped his grandpa doing it!

Congratulations guys!  Now go get yours Derek!  You still have three more days to complete this story book bear hunt.

Postscript:  Derek did end up having a chance to make it three for three, but due to the fact that his compound bow got broken, he had to use his dads bow, and it just didn’t perform well for Deke.  That was disappointing, but you still couldn’t erase the smiles from this crew, as they spent their last evening chowing down on a fresh caught brook trout dinner, and basking in the memories that will never fade!  Grandpa Ansel has to be smiling down from his heavenly home!  We all miss you Papa Bear!



Is There A Grizzly In Your Future?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

The mighty grizzly bear ruled California’s valleys, forests and coasts with fierce claws and jaws until people shot the last ones nearly a century ago. Now an environmental group is asking the state to consider bringing it back.

In a proposal fanning strong emotions about humans’ uneasy relationship with big predators they are trying to save, the Center for Biological Diversity is trying to drum up support for the state to study reintroducing grizzly bears to remote areas such as the Sierra.
 Not surprisingly, some critics — including the state’s wildlife agency — suggest it would be impractical and unsafe to reintroduce the 800-pound grizzly, also known as the brown bear, to the most populated state in the nation.

One of two grizzly bears is photographed in a habitat at the San Francisco Zoo in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016.

One of two grizzly bears is photographed in a habitat at the San Francisco Zoo in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (Dan Honda, Bay Area News Group)
 “Reintroducing grizzly bears to California would be idiotic,” said Pete Margiotta, a Walnut Creek resident and longtime hunter. “Somebody is going to get killed.”
 But the center, a frequent plaintiff in legal disputes over endangered species, says the grizzly bear’s recovery from near extinction in the lower 48 states would be more secure if the species expanded its range beyond select areas in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington.
California still has many remote and sparsely populated areas that might be suitable for grizzlies, the center says.The grizzly bear is an icon in California history. It’s on our state flag, but where is the grizzly bear?” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate for the national group with an office in Oakland. “There are serious issues to be addressed with reintroduction, but this idea should not be dismissed out of hand because of emotion.”

 While the last grizzly in the California wild was shot in the early 1920s, there are some 1,400 to 1,700 of them in the lower 48 states, a small fraction of the 50,000 believed to roam between the Pacific Ocean and Great Plains in the early 1800s.

The Center for Biological Diversity has collected some 20,000 signatures on an online petition urging the state Fish and Game Commission to consider studying the feasibility of reintroducing the grizzly, which is listed a federal threatened species.

The group also is doing social media ads for its campaign in preparation for presenting a formal petition to the commission in a few months.

Environmentalists call the messages part of a broader national campaign of “rewilding” areas to restore large carnivores such as bears, wolves, badgers and otters and protecting large connected habitats for them.

Large predators and large habitats, rewilding advocates say, are essential to keeping ecosystems healthy.

But skeptics of reintroducing grizzlies into California say there are a host of practical problems with reintroducing a bear that weighs up to 800 pounds, roughly double the size of existing black bears in California.

Ohio Has A Feral Hog Problem!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Wildlife biologists Steve Blatt and Patrick Mercer can spot the signs that wild pigs are roaming the Wayne National Forest: the mudholes they dig to wallow, and the swaths of soil they root so deeply that it looks like a rototiller came through. Feral swine are unwelcome guests in the state’s only national forest. They are a non-native, invasive species — nuisance animals that hurt native wildlife and the environment, trample crop fields and carry disease. They are so unwanted that federal and state wildlife officials are working to eradicate them in Ohio and the rest of the country. The Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio is a favored spot. “They prefer forested habitat,” Mercer said. …

The number of wild pigs is estimated at fewer than 2,000, and they are concentrated in southern and southeastern Ohio, particularly in Vinton and Gallia counties, said Craig Hicks, a wildlife-disease biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services who is the Ohio feral-swine coordinator.

The earliest European explorers brought pigs over as livestock in the 1500s. Today, an estimated 6 million feral swine have been reported in at least 35 states. Escaped pigs from farms and hunting preserves have sustained the population by mating with the feral swine.

“Our goal is total elimination in the state,” Hicks said.

Feral swine may be hunted and bagged in Ohio year-round without limits.

“We encourage folks to opportunistically harvest wild swine when they encounter them when they are in the woods hunting, and then report it to us to help us with our monitoring of populations,” Hicks said.

Hicks and his team, who are based in Groveport, have been working since 2009 to trap and shoot wild pigs. They work in partnership with the USDA’s Forest Service, which manages the Wayne, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife to eliminate the animals from public and private land.

“Feral swine are an ecological train wreck,” Hicks said.

Wild pigs compete for acorns and other food with native wildlife such as deer, turkeys and squirrels. Their habit of gobbling up acorns also hurts forest-recovery efforts at the Wayne to encourage the growth of oak and hickory trees, Blatt said.

Ohio’s problem is not unlike Michigan’s own feral hog delima.  Michigan also encourages hunters to shoot hogs on site as they have become a nuisance and have disrupted native plants, wildlife, and whole ecosystems!

Bear Beaten off by Bare Knuckles

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

63-year-old Japanese man fights off bear with karate