Archive for January, 2017

Roadblocks To Building Your Own Cabin

Monday, January 30th, 2017

kitchen counterIMG_4310IMG_7796In late summer my future son-in-law and I had an Amish building company put up a 16 x 30 foot barn style shell on my property.  All I had to do was finish it off.  You know water well, water lines, plumbing, electrical, propane lines, furnace, water heater, septic, trenching and tool rentals, interior walls, staining, flooring, insulation, lighting, cabinets, counter tops, etc! Well here I am almost 5 months down the road and I am totally wore out!  I should of done this 20-30 years ago; not at 70!

Let me tell you there are hidden dangers lurking in the shadows at every turn!  I guess my first and most costly complaint would be the plumbing.  I am a retired pipefitter/plumber who has personally plumbed up 7 new homes (one a $500,000 dollar mansion with 4 bathrooms!)  In all that work I have never been “red tagged” by an inspector for anything.

The cabin would have a toilet, shower, sink, and a kitchen sink!  Piece of cake right?  Wrong!  The plumbing inspector for my area red tagged the whole job and said I could not install the outdoor on demand water heater I had plumbed up!  He said I needed to get ahold of a plumbing contractor to do the job.  I had one come out (that he recommended) and asked him to inspect what I had done and he and his partner found only two minor problems with my job.  I was also told I had to install a trap and lines for a washer and dryer, which I have no plans of using.  This is a cabin used 3 weeks out of the year!  I hired the plumbing contractor to finish the job and a month later was slapped with a bill for $2500.00 including gas mileage to and from the work site!  He practically gutted my work per the plumbing inspector who signed off on the plumbing and mechanical permits without even running water through the system or checking the drains.  The “Good Old Boy” network is alive and well in my neck of the woods!

A few other minor setbacks can occur on any project like this, but be sure of what your getting into before you tackle such an undertaking.  Sometimes it’s better to have the bulk of the time consuming things done for you cause there will still be plenty of other things to finish before you can kick back in the La-Z-Boy and watch your favorite video!  Just saying!


Florida Burmese Python Stalked By Irula Tribesman From India!

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

For years, Florida wildlife officials have struggled to tackle a growing problem in the Everglades: the invasive Burmese python, which devours the mammal population (like raccoons, opossum and rabbits) and out-competes native predators (such as alligators) in the process. The species, which is native to Southeast Asia, has been introduced over the last few decades when local pet owners release them into the wild.

Years of Python Challenges, in which amateur hunters compete to catch the most pythons (or largest python) for a sizable cash prize, have resulted in thousands of snakes being caught, but other, more extensive methods are needed to curb the Burmese python population.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida are hoping to learn those methods from two of their newest recruits: a pair of Irula tribesmen from India who are expert snake-hunters. The tribesmen removed 14 pythons in two weeks, including four from the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo. One of the snakes was a female measuring 16 feet long, according to local news reports.

While 14 snakes may not seem like a lot, consider it in the context of the Python Challenge. In 2016, about 1,000 hunters caught 106 snakes in one month; in contrast, these two tribesman caught an average of one a day for two weeks.

The pilot project is also relatively cheap: just $68,888 for two tribesmen and two translators for two months.

The Miami Herald reports:

Armed only with tire irons to punch through dense Burma reed and sharp limestone rock and trailed by biologists, the pair are on the lookout for the sparkle of snakeskin in the bush. They’re also searching for what the snakes left behind: a ripple in the sand, a tunnel through grass or scat. All of these signs can alert them to the presence of the snake, the malai pambu, a snake far bigger than any the men have encountered in India.

Their methods are proving successful, according to UF biologist Ed Metzger, who told the Herald that seven of the snakes captured would not have been found without the trackers. Florida officials have often focused on areas where snakes are known to bask, such as roads or levees. But the tribesmen head straight for thick brush and have impressed local officials with their ability to correctly predict the size and sex of the snake they’re tracking.

It’s too soon to say if the unique partnership will be a success, but the results will be compared with other efforts, including the so-called “Judas” snake project, where biologists send out radio-tagged “Judas” snakes to reveal the location of other snakes. In the meantime, the search continues for a sure-fire way to stem the growth of the invasive Burmese python in the Florida Everglades.

Cougars Preying On Pets In Oregon

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

mountain lion 004

In a scenario that could come from a B movie, normally timid mountain lions are forced by heavy snows into a remote community, where they feast on pets and chickens. It’s happening in Oregon.Cougars prowling through La Pine have killed two pets and at least 12 chickens, stoking fear in the town in the piney woods of Oregon east of the Cascade Range.

On Saturday, Deschutes County deputies shot and killed a cougar that was hiding under a porch after attacking a dog. On Monday, state and federal wildlife officials went to investigate, and killed three more of the cougars whose paw prints showed they had come right up to houses, on decks and in backyards.

Randy Lewis, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, was one of the two men who tracked the cougars.

They found “an alarming amount” of cougar tracks that showed the cats had been on porches, in sheds and under cars, Lewis said.

Meanwhile, he received phone calls, including from an elementary school, asking if the children should be kept inside during recess.

For Lewis, it was difficult to put the cats down, but authorities had determined they were causing public safety issues.

“Nobody likes to euthanize cougars,” said Corey Heath, wildlife district biologist for the state wildlife department. “But when you have multiple cougars living among houses, taking pets, being seen, it’s not a good situation.”

Ina statement, the state wildlife department said wildlife managers will not relocate the trespassing cougars because the animals would cause problems in new areas or return to La Pine.

Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predators Defense, a Eugene-based group that works to protect native predators, said he is “outraged over what’s happening.”

He noted that La Pine is surrounded by wilderness and residents should co-exist with wildlife.

“If you live in this habitant, it is incumbent on you to take responsibility” and not let pets roam freely or leave chickens behind flimsy fences that cougars can jump, he said.

His group says there have been only 24 fatal cougar attacks on people in North America since 1890 — a smaller fatality rate than deaths caused by dogs or cattle.

There has never been an attack by a wild cougar on a person in Oregon, which is home to about 6,300 cougars, the Oregon wildlife agency said.

Resident Shannon Shahan said 14 of her chickens were killed or died of shock and two survived. She told Bend TV station KTVZ the cougars had jumped a fence to get at the chickens. Her surveillance cameras caught at least one cougar on her property, leaving large paw prints in the snow.

The state wildlife department said deep snow is likely a factor in the appearance of the cougars.

“The cougars are having trouble hunting their traditional prey so they are driven into area’s with a population of domestic farm animals and pets!

Virginia Bear Cub Fights For Survival!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Their cries helped two hunters find them.

Animal officials in Virginia said two small black bear cubs were discovered alone in a den without their mama.

Hunters called animal officials and biologists recommended they leave the cubs overnight and wait for mom to return. But the next day, the little bears were still alone.

The cubs’ den is in Lunenburg County, Va. — about 40 miles north of the North Carolina border — and the pair was first spotted by rabbit hunters on Saturday, officials from the Wildlife Center of Virginia said.

During a check that day on the baby bears, a biologist noticed one cub had crawled out of the den and was “extremely cold and wet,” according to a press release. The biologist began warming and rehydrating the cubs, but one died that night.

On Monday, the lone cub was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, in Waynesboro.

Officials believe the baby bear is about 10 days old and in good health, according to the release. He’s now in the center’s intensive care unit and being fed around the clock. What does that mean for little bears? Every four hours, for a total of six feedings a day.

His prognosis was listed as fair. His fur? Fuzzy.

 Biologists also plan to check den sites next week for a surrogate mama bear for the teeny cub, added officials who said “cubbing season” has only just begun.

Dog Hunters Beware! Don’t Let This Happen In Michigan!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

I was just wondering if any of Michigan’s vast dog hunting community has heard what’s going on in Richmond Virginia?  This past Tuesday House Speaker William Howell sponsored a bill (HB 1900) which would impose a fine of $100.00 dollars on any dog that happens to “trespass” on another person’s property without permission of said property owner!

Members of the Virginia Hunting dog alliance showed up at the capitol to voice their collective disagreement with the bill. According to one report about 150 hunters showed up dressed in hunter orange to rally against the bill that would penalize hunting dogs from accidentally trespass on peoples property.

It seems that the hunters made a point with at least one legislator (Sen. Mark Peake) who said he would vote against the bill, and stand behind hunting rights in Virginia.

Others said the bill would go beyond the hunting community to become a tool in neighborhood “spats” concerning those who don’t want your dog in their yard!  Sounds to me like someone in the Virginia Legislature has a little doggie axe to grind. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Once something like this takes a foothold in one state it opens the door for similar action in other states.  I hope this gets nipped in the bud before it actually reaches the floor of the Virginia Legislature.  Seems those “power brokers” should have more important matters on their agenda than bills like this!



Time To Enjoy The Fruits Of Hunting Season

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

IMG_7698IMG_7699Deer season is over and it’s time to relax, sit back, and enjoy the fruits of the hunt!  In my case I decided to go with the venison back straps this past weekend.

I retrieved them from the freezer and let them thaw out for several hours.  Once I could slice them into half inch (or less) mini steaks I put them in a mixture of egg (2) and milk.  I was able to get 14 small steaks out of one back strap.  I then put a cup of flower, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, and Lowery’s seasoning into a large pie tin.  Mixed it up good and pit 1/2 inch of olive oil in a frying pan on high (just to get the oil hot.)  Once it was hot I turned the heat down to medium.

I then took the steaks from the milk egg mixture and rolled them in the flour ingredients!  I gently dropped them into the hot oil, as the sizzled when they were submerged.  Because they were quite thin it did not take long to cook all the way through.  flipped them from one side to the other as they browned up nicely.  As you may notice there are two steaks missing from the picture of the frying pan.  I couldn’t wait!  Oh my goodness they were delicious!  My wife is quite “picky” and she ate two of them!  You know they had to be good.

I ate till full and polished off 3 more before bedtime.  There were still three left which I took over to my 92 year old mother, who enjoyed them for supper the next day.  Next up is a roast that I plan on making venison barbeque out of! Bon Appetit!


Michigan’s CoyWolf Hybrid Confirmed In Two Northern Counties

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Phil Myers had heard the stories from Cheboygan County farmers: Tales of odd, oversized animals that looked bigger than a coyote, but smaller than a wolf, and hunted in packs — and how strange they sounded.

He wanted to hear for himself.

Wolves are known to have a rendezvous point where, in the evening, individual wolves that may be sleeping all over get together as a pack to go off hunting, said Myers, a now-retired professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan. Based at U-M’s Biological Station in Cheboygan County, researchers had found dens, and what they thought was a rendezvous point.

So, one night last August, Myers parked his pickup about a quarter-mile from the spot and listened.

“As the full moon goes up above the jackpines, one of these things starts howling — it wasn’t the yipping of a coyote or the full voice of a wolf; but a hoarse, sustained call,” he said.

“About five minutes later, I hear a bark from my right, then a bark from my left, five or six of them. I was surrounded by them. But this was in forest and swampland; these were no dogs. Those were pack-mates coming into this rendezvous point.

“It was probably at least an hour before the hairs on the back of my neck sat down.”

Myers’ close encounter was with a unique, still relatively unknown and misunderstood hybrid of coyotes known as eastern coyotes or coywolves. They’re mostly coyote, but contain a small percentage of wolf from an unlikely mating of the two species about a century ago. It may sound like an urban legend, but coywolves exist throughout the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada, and have been confirmed in northeast Lower Michigan through blood-testing and DNA analysis.

Coywolves tend to be a little larger and heavier than their western coyote counterparts, but still well below the size of even the smallest North American wolves. They look like coyotes, though observers often note wolflike characteristics in their faces and fur.

Though researchers have determined the range of coywolves — from the Great Lakes east and as far south as Virginia — their numbers and whether their behavior is distinctive from pure coyotes is still largely unknown.

Cheboygan County farmer William Benthem hasn’t seen them, but hears the stories from fellow farmers. They believe they’re seeing wolves, he said.

“I know too many people who are knowledgeable people who have seen them,” he said.

‘Eastern coyotes’

Coyote expert Stan Gehrt, a professor of wildlife ecology at Ohio State University, rejects the term “coywolf.” He doesn’t even like referring to them as hybrids. It leaves the impression that they are a near 50-50 mix of wolf and coyote, and that just isn’t the case, he said.

They are eastern coyotes,” Gehrt said. “They aren’t really different from other coyotes, other than they have a little bit of genetic difference. I’ve trapped and tracked hundreds of Midwestern coyotes and a pretty good sample of eastern coyotes in Nova Scotia, and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.”

But those, including biologists, who encountered coywolves up close in the Lower Peninsula say they had some wolflike features.

The animal was discovered in the Pellston and Cheboygan area in 2010, after reports of unusually large tracks in the snow, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch said.

The DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture “became very interested,” thinking wolves may have appeared in the Lower Peninsula, Myers said. The last confirmed wolf south of the Mackinac Bridge was in Presque Isle County in 2004, but sightings have been reported since, and the DNR conducts surveys searching for wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Trail cameras were installed in 2010, and some of the photos coming back showed animals that were “wolflike,” Kleitch said. A USDA wolf biologist trapped a male pup in July 2010 in Cheboygan County. Blood tests were taken, and the pup was ear-tagged and released.

Later that fall, a coyote trapper caught two half-grown animals, and noticing their difference from typical coyotes, contacted the DNR. As in July, blood samples were drawn and the animals were fitted with radio collars.

“They wanted to see how they were moving, and whether they are a problem for the farmers up there,” Myers said.

Kleitch got to see the coywolves that were trapped in October up close. She’d never seen anything like it.

“It was strange,” she said. “The nose was a little narrow for a wolf, but the feet were large like a wolf. They were the young of the year and they were females, and the weights on them were about 42 and 49 pounds — that’s pretty large for even an adult female coyote.”

After tracking the animals’ radio signals for several weeks, one of the collars began transmitting a mortality signal, Kleitch said. It was later found cut off and thrown into a ditch. “We presume the animal was poached,” she said.

But the other animal is still followed, with the help of Myers’ class at the U-M Biological Station, she said.

Meanwhile, the genetic results came in on the three animals’ blood tests.

“The animals were all from the same litter, and typed out as coyote rather than wolf,” she said. They also had DNA from eastern wolves, the tests showed.

Interspecies breeding

Based on the relatively low percentage of wolf DNA in coywolves, many scientists say the interspecies breeding occurred in the early 1900s, likely in Ontario as western coyotes migrated east from the Great Plains. Some split and headed north of the Great Lakes into Canada; others to the south around Ohio. Based on coywolves’ range now, it was a coyote in this northern group, perhaps having no mate of its own species available, that must have mated with a female eastern wolf. It’s known that the female in the coupling was a wolf, because the mitochondrial type of DNA exhibiting wolf characteristics is passed on by the female.

Sharing Venison With Family, Friends, And Non-Hunters

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

PhotobucketNot very long ago I wrote about a venison meatloaf that I had made.  To me winter is prime time venison eating time!  I love the taste of venison, but that is not the only reason I enjoy the bounty of nature.

According to the USDA’s website on nutrition, venison is one of the most nutritious meats around.  This report states that similar sized servings of beef, pork, and chicken contain more calories than venison.   Of course all meats would be cooked in the same manner, baked or broiled.  Not only that venison has less fat and more iron than these other meats.  Beef  is marbled with the fat running through the meat, while with venison a majority of the fat is removed by the person butchering the animal.

The sorry thing about this whole article is that you (the reader) may never get a chance to consume a fine venison dinner.   Unless you are a hunter, or good friends with one, you won’t have much of a chance to sink your teeth into a juicy venison steak.  Venison is not available in your local supermarket, and it’s against the law to sell it.  Personally I love sharing with the “less fortunate.”  I’d rather give a few packages to a non-hunting neighbor than have him out in the woods shooting MY deer.

So far this year I have shared venison with family members and friends.  Just this past week I took some to a meeting where 6 women were in attendance.  I brought along some venison meatballs to share and 4 out of the 6 said they really enjoyed them, and of course it was a hit with the guys!  I also donated several packages to a single mom along with making her a complete meal which she was so grateful for. She prefers venison over beef!  A good women for sure!  The more happy customers I have the better relations with the non hunting public, and that’s a good thing!


Venison Meatballs Yum Yum!

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

img_7678I just made the best venison meatballs I’ve ever made.  I thawed two packages of venison burger from the spike I shot earlier this year.  Once thawed i added italian bread crumbs and a can of tomato paste.  I stirred that up and then added two eggs and two tablespoons of Worchester sauce.  Added some parsley and onion salt along with a dash of Lowery’s seasoning.  Stirred that all in and then cut up a onion and added that and a little more bread crumbs.  Salt and ground pepper were next plus about a 1/4 cup of water.

Once that was all mixed up I sprayed olive oil in a square glass baking pan and rolled the venison into meatballs.  I had 24 of them in the pan and when the oven reached 340 degrees I set them in to cook.  After 20 minutes I rolled them over to make sure both sides where feeling the heat!  In just under an hour they were ready to go.

I immediately ate three of them while they were nice and hot.  My wife (not a big fan of wild game) even ate one and gave me a compliment.  I took a bowl of them to a small church meeting and they never made it “home alive!”  Several women questioned me as to whether they were eating venison, and I replied “yes!”  They responded that they could not tell and enjoyed the chance to sample the wild game.  Followed up the night with a meatball sandwich.  It did not disappoint!


Michigan Spring Turkey Permits Available!

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

IMG_4082IMG_4053IMG_2206Jay-Birds bird 004img_7007Hey you turkey hunters out there it’s time to send in your application for the Spring turkey hunt.  January 31 st. is the deadline, so don’t wait for the last minute!

Turkey hunting has become one of my favorite hunting sports, which has allowed me to share with others, including grandkids.  My 12 year old grandson Kyle has taken 3 birds thus far and my 12 year old grand-daughter shot a beautiful Tom with a 9 inch beard last year. Grandson Jacob also took a nice bird a couple years ago. My daughter Mindy’s fiance shot his first bird last year, and I shot a huge Tom myself.  I have been super successful over the years, but it doesn’t happen by accident!  I know the birds, know where their at, and know how to “call” like a lovesick hen.  Just those three ingredients should help make for a nice wild Thanksgiving bird in the freezer! Of course a good blind set up and a decoy or two doesn’t hurt your chances either.

The range of the Michigan wild turkey is from one end of the state to the other, including the U.P.  I hunted the Escanaba area for 3 years and took three nice birds with the biggest bird I’ve ever seen getting away!  I’ve hunted Southern Birds (Hillsdale and Jackson) and always scored.  Hunted mid-state last year and took a nice Tom on private property.  Recently I have been hunting the northern county of Oscoda in the Spring and have been very pleased with the results around my cabin.  Actually the biggest bird (12 inch beard) I ever took was just behind my home here in Monroe County.

Wild turkey is a great addition to ones freezer and can be a wary and smart adversary in the woods.  Don’t fall for the belief that they are stupid by any means!  A Jake may come and go, but a true trophy Tom can make a fool out of you in a heartbeat!  Do your homework, know your equipment, and get ready for some strutting, yelping, and gobbling this Spring!