Thursday, July 06, 2006

I'm Back

Good thing real time is not marked by blogs. I have been negligent in my entries, but I have been wrapped up with integrating my new job description and attempts at serious writing. My submissions to numerous literary journals have resulted in many rejections, but the extra time at the keyboard has not inhibited my sojourns into the great outdoors.

My job also took me to the devastated areas of Chalmette, La. and Gulfport, Miss. to document Alma College Alternative Breaks. The areas are nowhere near normal and we are in the Hurricane Season again. Keep the residents of these areas in your prayers.

Ice fishing was a cool success. Turkey hunting a bust. Spring Walleye fishing on the Saginaw Bay has been hot. Every trip out I catch fish and usually limit out. Running a program of crawler harnesses and body baits trailing in-line planer boards or lead core has brought some nice eaters into the boat. I seem to be catching the breeders on spoons. The big ones above 22 inches I usually send back to contribute to the gene pool.

Saginaw Bay has to be the best Walleye fishery right now. Every story you read and every quote from biologists mentions the successfully spawned classes of the last few years. That is evident in the number of close-to-legal fish and the 15-to-20 inchers anglers are hauling in. Limit catches in a few hours of fishing are not uncommon in this fishery.

It's ironic that I choose today to get back into blogging. It was a year ago that I started this blog prior to leaving for my annual Herring fishing trip in the UP. I leave again Saturday for a week at the Riverbend Resort in Detour. The reports state that the Herring are biting around Pigeon Cove of Drummond Island and in Cedarville.
There will be a bonus catch since the Salmon are hitting around the Detour Light and the Walleye are biting in Raber Bay.

I'll keep you posted (A little more frequently, I hope).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Buck is Worth a Lot

Deer season is over and ice fishing is upon me. I did not harvest a deer this year, but season was successful all the same.

I saw the monster buck that has been eluding me for two years and he is a magnificent animal. Ten points and a large body.

He came in opening morning without affording me a shot. I anticipated his pattern and I was right. He walked the old logging road past two scrapes heading for his third scrape and large rub in front of my ground blind around 10 a.m.

I had moved in well before daylight and had shifted my position slightly to alleviate the cramping in my rump when I noticed movement off my left shoulder. He was rubbing his antlers on some red pine boughs swishing the feathery needles on the young tree through his tines and over his face back and forth. He had no clue I was there even though I was moving into a good shooting position anticipating his movement to his next scrape.

He was facing my left shoulder, but moved broadside to make a new scrape under the tree. His kill zone was behind a large tree, his head and his butt visible. He rotated to reverse his butt and head facing toward the river bottoms below the road.
He quickly slipped from behind the tree down the hill into the heavy cover of the hillside and I never saw him again. He ignored his massive rub and scrape and changed his routine that day.

I thought for sure he heard my heart thumping against my lungs and chest cavity echoing out my ears. The adrenaline rush was as good as a successful shot. When I relaxed my tense muscles, I played back my mind's movie of the dream-like encounter.

He was a royal male who owned that forest, moving confidently, silently on his way to an encounter with a female worthy of propagation. The main beams of his rack arched outside his thick head and curved back perfectly towards each other forming a bowl of tines. He wore his polished crown fashionably.

The next day it snowed and his tracks told me he walked past my stand well before daylight. The third day the heavens dumped the foot of snow that ended my UP hunting trip. I'll be back for him next year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Smell Like a Rose

Call it Karma, good fortune, luck, whatever. I tend to have it. My friends say I could fall into a manure pit and a guiding hand would pull me up, wipe me off and vaccinate me. Some good people are usually involved in my fortuitous destiny.

Case in point. During deer season in Munising this year, an early winter storm dumped a foot of snow and 50 mph winds whipped it ruthlessly into drifts. Being the adventurous type, I was determined to make it to my deer blind over three miles of two-track road. I got stuck.

Now I am sitting there at 6 a.m. in the middle of a tag alder thicket thinking no tow truck will come to my rescue and no way the driver can find me anyway and I'll have to leave the truck until spring and what the hell was I thinking I'm stranded on Federal land.

I know there is only one house bordering that Federal forest and no others closer than five miles. I do not know if the owners are year-round residents. I waited until a little after 7 and set off to slog through knee-deep snow.

Now this is where the situation is darkest, dire straights so to speak, the bottom of the empty well pit. I am going to borrow a phone to call my hunting "friends" who will use my situation for their amusement -- the entire trip.

But as I walked, trudged and plodded through the white dream-like forest, I began to believe there was a benefit to my predicament. The silence was calming, the chill refreshing. Except for the exertion, I imagined Yoga would create a similar state of tranquility.

There were a couple of cars and trucks on the private property unmoved since the snow fell, but they looked like they had moved recently. A lady answered my knock on the door of the log home with a big smile and an invitation to come on in. I could have been a thief, a beggar, a rich man, no difference. She greeted me like a fresh house guest, offered coffee and water and a place to sit, never mind the snowy boots. "We track it in all the time."

Her husband was still in bed after celebrating all night long having harvested his deer the day before. But she dragged him out of bed to help me with my situation. It took him awhile to get moving. I met his father visiting from Texas, learned that the couple recently retired from the Army, and got acquainted with their Chocolate Lab.

When the husband came down, he informed me work of any kind does not start without breakfast. His wife already had bacon fried, broke seven eggs in the grease and toasted homemade bread. Over a delicious meal we discussed the Iraq War -- he was a veteran of Desert Storm and the current conflict -- talked hunting and traded fishing spots.

After installing a plow on his four-wheel-drive truck so he could plow out his neighbors, he and his Dad pulled me out of my snowbank and plowed a path out to the main road.

Before I went on my way, I complimented his Dad on raising a good man and called them the "Salt of the Earth." He said not to tell anyone. Sorry but I'm telling everyone the story without using their names since I don't know how they would feel about having a World Wide Reputation.

That's the UP. Good People.