I personally have been in the fields and forest since I was old enough to carry a rabbit for my dad. My dad Norm was raised on a farm and the surrounding area was his private playground, if you will. He had an old hand me down 410 that he would rabbit and pheasant hunt with, and across the street from their farm was a small creek that he trapped. Muskrats, weasel, mink, coon and even skunks were fair game. Dad was an excellent “skinner” and taught us three older Ansel boys how to do it without any tears or rips in the hide. It was especially hard to do the eyes, ears, and mouth, but we all eventually got the hang of it. Dad would sell the hides to a local buyer, and a Frenchmen would buy the muskrat meat. Monroe has a French heritage and muskrat dinners are still a big thing around these parts! One of the Ansel’s “claim to fame” is a small creek/drain in the Ida area named after our family. It’s actually called the Ansel/Snell drain!
Fall was the greatest time of year for my dad and his sons! From October through December it was like Christmas every day. My dad had the best bird dog in the county (Flopsy) and all his friends wanted one of her pups. Sometime after her 6th. litter, dad had her “fixed!” Back then he would sell a pup for $25.00 dollars, or if you were a hunting buddy he would “grace” you with a wonderful gift! He only kept one pup for himself, but ended up giving it to a very good friend of his who hunted with him often. I remember Haskel Ray, Tom Connor, and my Uncle Louie Marshall, along with Bill Brown, Ron Hudkins, and Cecil Asher. What a great group of guys for a young hunter to “hang out” with. Several of these guys owned beagles, so rabbit hunting took off when pheasant season was over.
Dad would even deer hunt with several of these friends, and Me, Randy, and Darryl got in on the action in our early teens. My Uncle Louie would go to the Upper Peninsula for deer and always came home with a “monster” buck. In those days you didn’t need a bear license to shoot a black bear during deer season, and Uncle Louie brought one home along with a big 10 pointer one year. Dad always hunted around Lewiston, but one year we went to the U.P. with Bill Brown and his youngest son Tom. I think that experience really piqued my interest in the beauty and remoteness of hunting this vast unspoiled wilderness.
Sadly all these men (except one) have “walked on” and we are now the old timers in camp! While the memories of small game hunting along with deer, turkey, and bear hunting are firmly implanted in the movie theatre of my mind, there also is a whole section reserved for fishing memories. My dad did as much fishing as he did hunting and we would enjoy the fruits of his “leisure” time all year round. From fishing off the banks at Bolles Harbor to ice fishing on Lake Erie. Several years we rowed to an island in the Upper, and pitched a tent for a week. Pike, perch, bullhead, catfish, bass, and panfish were in our freezer waiting for dads culinary skills to transform them into a fish dinner to “die” for! In dads final years, on this planet, we learned how to catch brook trout while bear hunting the Marquette area. Talk about delicious! One of the best “camp” meals I ever ate was lake trout, squirrel, partridge, with all the trimmings, fixed by my dad over a woodburning stove at the Baldwin bear camp.
Thanks for the wonderful memories dad and all the adventures you showed us here in the great state of Michigan.