Sunday, December 27, 2009

The weather in the UK has been cold with lots of snow. It's something the Brits aren't used to. So far they have five inches on the ground. To hear them talk, that's all the snow in the world.
They haven't been around Michigan, obviously. They talk of a day with black ice and how a car slid through an intersection running through a stone wall. That seemed to be big news around York.
Despite the cold weather there hasn't been any talk of hunting or fishing. The laws here for outdoor pursuits are similar to those of Germany, very regulated. And we think we have it tough when the DNR proposes changes to our game laws.
Speaking of the DNR, if you are interested in giving input for future wildlife management, call Kerry Fitzpatrick, 517-373-1263 or to be on the agenda Jan. 14, 6:30-8p.m. at the Comfort Inn, Mt. Pleasant.
Remarks will be taken for a management plan for whitetail deer and habitat needs for other species including birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mamals.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Germany

It's been a cold couple of weeks; ever since we arrived. There has been on and off snow but nothing lasting.
A minor covering causes alarm over here. Roads aren't de-iced here as quickly as they get done at home. Yes, even though we complain about them, Oakland County Road Commission does get the job done and usually in a timely manner.
I've not talked with any fishermen over here, but did meet a local hunter recently. He had hunted during the day for fox and rabbits.
His gun was a 12-gauge shotgun, hunting over dogs. Jack Russell terriers are used and a German breed as well. \
I'll try and get more information on hunting here. I know they deer hunt for red deer, a smaller version of our whitetail.
There is some pheasant duck hunting along with squirrel and other wild game.
In the meantime, remember the season, be good to yourself and family and stay safe and healthy. Merry Christmas or as they say here, frohe Weihnachten.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Customs and weather in Germany

We are spending the Christmas season with our son and his wife in the small farm village of Affalterbach, Germany. That's not too far from Stuttgart.
It's very cold here with little snow in this part of Germany. In Austria, they have been skiing now for some time.
A country know for the famous Octoberfest that seems to start in August and continue almost to Christmas, this time of the year it's known for the many Christmas markets that pop up all over the country.
We have visited several already since arriving. They consists of many different booths, each decorated with a variety of seasonal decorations to set that booth apart from it's neighbors.
Here you can find all sorts of handmade gifts; ornaments, nutcrackers, chimes, wood toys, leather goods, knit hats, scarves, mittens, walking staffs, and candles along with many others.
Figuring you can't shop on an empty stomach there is food to satisfy every taste; from vegetarian to the meat and potatoes crowd.
Of course there is bratwurst but how about a rotewurst, sauerkraut and potatoes, french fries, crepes filled with different fruit and covered in chocolate, pizza slices, pretzels, hot chocolate, and no doubt the crowd favorite, gluwein (pronounced gluview), a hot spiced wine served in a mug.
Return the mug or cup to the vendor for a refund or keep it as a souvenior of that market.
But there isn't a market or a village you might choose to visit that doens't have at least one Lebkuchen-Schmidt store nearby.
Lebkuchen, German for gingerbread, is sold all over the country and exported around the world. Buy it in plastic packages or in beautifully colored tins, with scenes of the season, or Old Germany. Use the empty container for a cookie jar.
Surrounding many of these small villlages or running through them is the Neckar River. Fishing here is open to those with licenses granted following serious study and demonstration of an understanding of fish habitat, equipment and on and on.
Shooting a recurve at one market, I asked the proprietor if they used compound bows to hunt with in Germany. An emphatic "No," was the response.
Besides, even if you could use a compound, a license to hunt is similar to getting a fishing license and takes months of study and exams before one is granted permission to hunt.
We may find fault with the DNR but we still have a better system despite a few bumps. Acrtually they seem more like blips once you put them alongside rules and regulations in some of these other countries.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deer Hunting

Too many years ago when I began deer hunting, the choice was simple. One license purchased for the firearms season allowed you to take one buck. A license during bow season allowed a deer of either sex.
I don't recall any "extra" permits being around. There may have been some farmers got for crop damage. And I don't recall anyone complaining that deer were pests, eating their way through ornamental landscapes, backyard gardens and the like.
These days the number of deer you can legally take seems to be an awful lot, to put it mildly. And much is done in the name of overpopulation, car-deer accidents, and damage to property.
Lately there has been comment about controlled hunting in Independence County Park. One side says the deer population has gotten too large for the amount of available food. Another segment says there arn't many deer there, and since the hunt, there seem to be even lexx.
A similar situation occurred at Kensington Metropark some years ago. Visitors to the park used to see a lot of deer. These days, since the controlled hunt, they seem to be few and far betweed.
Personally, I enjoy seeing them. I also enjoy bringing kids to the parks as well as other people who may not get the chance to see deer.
It's a specail moment when human and deer meet on the same ground, eye to eye. I've seen it in my own family and with elderly friends.
It's too bad we can;t strike a balance and come up with a happy medium.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nice people

My story this week had to do with Gregg Lamere from Gwinn in U.P. country. I had the pleasure of fishing with him for two days this past November.
Professional fishing is a lot like golf. There are a handful of people that cash checks regularly. Even though there are a lot of really good fishermen and golfers, only a few make the grade.
Lamere is one that made the grade. I don't think he ever reached the large money sums some anglers have achieved, but what he did achieve he did so with integrity and complete honesty.
This is not to say anglers are crooked when fishing tournaments. Quite the opposite. There is a certain code of ethics that requires self policing. So far that has kept this sport on the up and up.
If a cheater you be, you'll soon be found out and banned from any tournament participation.
I enjoyed being with Lamere for all of the qualities he stands for. Besides being a really good fisherman, he's totally relaxed on the water. Cheerful to a fault, he's quick to smile and tease gently.
I imagine in real competition some of that would change. But those qualities are never too far from the surface.
He's a great family man and dad, making him standout from others. He wears his heart, emotion, and feelings right out front where you can see them.
Had any negative trips with so-called pros that didn't talk to you, share what they were doing, or otherwise make you feel like the odd man out?
Send em' to me and I'll take a look for an eventual story. In the meantime, like Greg Lamere,stay positive.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Books, Books and more books!

I'm one of those that think you can never have enough books. In my case, there are several that I use as reference when writing about a particular topic.
A home library is a good thing to have for many reasons even if you don't write. Books are great entertainment. You can spend hours reading and not realize how the time flies.
They are also a great form of relaxation. Unless of course you're reading some kind of ax murderer novel. Then the violence and action may work the other way and keep you awake!
Good friend John Long recently presented my with a wonderful book, "The Old Ausable." Writtenh by Hazen L. Miller, it's a history of this famous river and one I can hardly wait to begin reading
In my little world, it fits a certain style. This is one meant to be read in my recliner, slowly, to aborb all that I can.
Other books I can fun reading are all over the house. I usually have a couple going at the same time. They find their way to my bedroom and wind up on the floor on nightstand.
For doctors appointments I usually take one of these along. Makes sitting in a waiting room a little more tolerable.
It's true that you can hunt with one gun only, fish with one rod, and read a single book at a time. But with books, once you're hooked you'll probably have a couple open at the same time. Happy reading.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas gifts

When my family asks me what I would like for Christmas I try to be pretty specific. Even though I can wear a large in most cases, I often prefer an XL for more room to move.
But the safe bet, at least for me, are books. I enjoy receiving them as much as I do giving them. They last, may be passed down, or held onto like a good friend.
But there again, I'm specific about what I like to read. Outdoors topics are nice but you do need a break from the routine. So I like some recreational reading as well.
Which brings me to another point about reviewing books. Early on I decided I would not write negatively about someone's book. If I didn't like it or feel it measured up to what (in my opinion) a book should, I wouldn't review it.
That caused some probelms a few years back when I met someone at a show who asked why I hadn't reviewed this book. "Send it to me and I'll look at it," I replied. Eventually the book came but the quality was pitiful.
A shortime later I recieved a call asking when the review would be pulished. I explained I wouldn't review it and would be happy to send it back-which I did-much to the disastisfaction of this person.
My point is not everything is as it seems. From books to equipment, sometimes they aren't what they are cracked up to be.
Happy shopping.

Monday, November 23, 2009

When you stop and think about it, deer season is a long one. It goes for several months and offers a variety of hunting style.
Archery season kicks it off, followed by firearms, back to archery that is interspersed with muzzleloading.
Some of us hunt all of them, while others like to hunt one or two. It's that choice that makes it truly great. Without it, we would be enjoying fewer seasons and opportunity on the hunt.
Anti would love that. Not so many years back they tried to eliminate bear hunting. Known around the state as "the bear imitative," through a lot of hard work, along with getting the word out, the measure was defeated.
It's too bad these groups haven't come together to help pass a dove hunting bill. Even if you choose not to hunt this wily bird, others should be given the chance.
That's what it's all about. Having the choices available to us. We get to choose to say yes or no, not some special interest group doing it for us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The last few weeks have been devoted to covering deer hunting here in southeasdt Michigan. With very few exceptions, it's been pretty smooth.
Several hunters have found success on public land as evidenced by the bucks being brought into check stations.
Then there are those that contine to advance the image of slob hunters. Tim Payne, DNR wildlife biologist for this neck of the woods mentioned it a month or so ago when I contaced him about a poaching case.
At that time he talked about people that shoot a deer, then take only the good parts like the rack, leaving the rest, or just the backstraps. The thinking is it's good for the wild animals and helps feed them.
That must have been true on McGinnis Road in Groveland opening morning. As I was interviewing a hunter with a nice rack, I noticed across the road a fres gut pile complete with the hide.
Why drag it out and gut it in the road? Why not gut it in the woods and leave the hide on? Let it hang for a few days then take the hide off and process it.
Must be someone else figuring to feed all those hungry critters in the woods. Stop and think about your actions or the ones you are about to take.
Things like gut piles on the road just feed the fire for the anti's. Slowly but surely, our hunting rights are going to be taken away by actions such as this.
Have a safe hunt.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deer opner in North Oakland County

Up north type deer camps may have been put on hold what with A Sunday opener. All that could change this next week when many hunters are expected to head north to their favorite spots, find a stump and sit.
Predictions were for greater hunting pressure in northern Oakalnd and Lapeer counties. Those predictions have been right on.
The deer check station at Holly was very busy Sunday with many nice bucks brought in. And car counts around the game area including Highland and Lapeer were up.
For the most part, hunters seemed enthusiastic about conditions. Although Sunday was damp, it wasn't the usual bitter cold of past openers. Many hunters stayed in the woods throughout the day, coming out at dark.
There are still plenty of deer and good deer hunting left. This might be the time to ask permsiion to hunt private land.
Farmers have been out picking corn menaing deer will be on the move and had less paces to hide. Have a safe hunt!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Safety considerations for deer hunters

The November 15 firearms deer opener is nearly here. Many hunters are preparing for deer camp loading up groceries, sleeping bags and anything else that will make up what each considers camp.
Remember the hunters orange. Besides being a law, it's the safe and smart thing to do. A lot of hunters go with the minimum-maybe just an orange hat.
But in this case the more you wear the better other hunters will see you. With the woods crowded especially in southeast Michigan, it just makes sense to stand out.
Don't forget a light. You might be going to the stand or coming from it in dark. Carry a light and use it. There are still hunters that blaze away at noise. If you have a light turned on, you're announcing you are not a four-legged critter.
Finally, know your target. Don't shoot at noise like the example above. You can't hunt or shoot during dark hours so wait, identify your target and know what is behind it before pulling the trigger.
You treestand hunters have your own set of safety concerns. Unload that firearm before hauling it up into the stand. Do the same when coming down. Remember to climb with a belt and wear it at all times while aloft.
You'll want a harness that supports you in an upright position in the event of a fall-one that doesn't cut circulation and oxygen off.
Have a safe hunt. P.S. If you get a nice buck, email me at Be sure and get a picture that may by useable in a publication. That means no sign of blood and keep the tongue inside the mouth!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The hot topic this past week has been the discovery of a deer floating in the Clinton River, minhus it's head. About all that was left besides the carcass was an arrow, no doubt used to shoot the animal.
The fact that this happened on or near private property and a nature preserve in Oakland County is bad enough. That it happened at all is uncounsciale. "It's a sin," my late grandmother Minnie Frank would have no doubt said.
DNR officials aren't aware of any large scale poaching going on in the nearby area. But like good lawenforcement people, if they were and had an ivestigation on-going, they probably wouldn't be talking about it until persons responsible had been taken into custody.
You wonder what kind of people do these things. I still think it has a lot to dfo with how we are raising kids today. There is a lot of lack of respect in today's world. In this case it translates to having respect enough to buy a license, hunt in season, and properly take care of the game you take.
Like the saying goes, "It's what you do in the woods, filed, or on the water, when no one is watching."
Just how responsible are you when you hunt? Do you obey the rules or stretch them a little hoping to obatin an advantage?
If you do violate, remember you must answer yourself. And if you have a youngster along what kind of lesson are they getting through your illegal behavior.
See, like most things in life, these things just continue to be handed down. Be sure what you are handing down are a respect for the resource.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bow huntint

Driving down the road the other day, it was getting on toward evening when I noticed a garage door open.
As I got nearer, I could see a nice deer hanging. That brings back a lot of memories and what fall means to many of us that hunt.
Having said that, I havne't set foot in the woods yet. And it looks like I might get shut out at least for the early bow season.
Just too much to do work wise and honey-do. But they say we should all take some time and smell the roses. I preach that from time to time, and should follow my own directions.
Heaven knows, I've been the recipient of those warnings to slow down some, live and enjoy life.
But here I go still at a good clip trying to get all I can cram into one single day or minutes of it.
Next week, it all goes well, I'll head to Muskego for a night walleye bite with walleye pro Mark Martin.
He cut his teeth on fishing the night for these fish. Working in a maching shop on the west side of Michigan, he was unknown until he started putting fish in the live well, after perfecting his method.
\The rest as they say is history. Today he fishes the AIM pro circuit, hosts a couple of schools, is a gifted seminar speaker and has authored a couple of books.
Imagine, trading in night fishing to become a successful fisherman-one that makes a living out of it. Pretty good stuff!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


This weeks column deals with MSU's fishing club and it's recent Beg Ten Fishing Classic on Lake St. Clair which they won. This is their second Championship win.
Ohio State was supposed to compete and hold the Tournament but dropped out. That left coach Frank Lepera in a lurch trying to host the tournament on short notice.
He called and asked if I could get something into the paper requestiong boaters volunteer to take anglers out on the practice day and tournament day.
Lepera says the response to his cry for help was fantastic. That many of you boaters called to say ou would help. That's what this all about, helping each other. Outdoors people seem to pretty good at it.
Just don't aske them for a good fishing or hunting spot. Just kidding about that. But it's true. No one will reveal secret honey holes or deer runs.
Sometimes putting our own lives on the back burner momentarily to reach out and help others can be a very satisfying thing.
I would suspect that is so in this case. Again thanks to all of you who continue to read and to respond.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall activities

Just because your friends are heading for the shooting range to zero in deer rifles doesn't mean the fishing season is closed.
Quite to the contrary. Some of the best and most productive fishing awaits you this time of year. Fish are busy putting on the feed bag and are actively feeding.
Because many people are getting ready for deer camp, local and Great Lakes go begging for action.
A lot of boats have been put away. So have those PWC's that seem to be everywhere once the weather warms.
With hardly any boat traffic, fewer anglers to compete with, and fish on the feed, it's a great time to live in Michigan.
Besides, you can still get an afternoon hunt in following a morning on the water. Last weekend I joined several kayak anglers for an outing on the Grand River upstream from Grand Haven.
The wind did blow cold but with proper dress we all stayed warm and more importantly dry.
During the two days we fished, we saw perhps three other boats and those were duck hunters. You could say we had the Grand just about to ourselves.
While salmon and steelies were selective several large cat fish were caught and released. Instead of trolling, I threw a spinnerbait around trees and logs, a little closer in than the others were trolling.
After several bumps, I changed to a crank along with some other baits. The time on the water was a blast. The air was clean and fresh, fall colors were out, and the bug dope wasn't needed.
Keep that rod handy. There is still plenty of fishing left.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seasons and controversy

Besides all of the activites we have available to us in the fall, there invariably are controverseries.
This year is no exception. How many deer should a hunter be allowed to take? Each year it seems we hear different numbers.
People say they have 12 in the freezer and still have two tags. Others (like me) are struggling to get one tag- a doe-filled. If you have a farm or access to one, depending on where it's located, it seems there is a never ending supply of tags.
Then there is the equipment used to hunt with. This year you are either in the camp supporting cross bows or the one that opposes it.
Yes, it probably opens hunting up to more people. But so did compounds. How many accidents will there be with misfires-those accidentally touched off by an itchiy finger-or when the bow is being loaded or cocked?
That remains to be seen. Be assured that we will come out of this season a lot more wiser as to how to handle the newest hunting implement on the market.
Then there are those of us who hunt hard and never see a deer including baldies or racks. (Put me in there too!) But the DNR and others claim deer populations continue to be at an all-time high making it necessary to thin the herd out.
Besides private property I'd like to know where these deer are being seen. I'll be there to take a stand and try my luck once I know where to set up.
Be safe in the woods. Good luck!

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Gear

Last week's Oakland Press column dealt with some new gear for the outdoors set and a book review.
While I am far from an expert, I don't review products or books that I think are not up to the standards readers anticipate when the make a purchase. This is strictly my personal opinion.
The new book, "Guide to Great Lakes Fishes," by Gerald R. Smith of the University of Michigan is a good bet whether you have books on fishing or are just getting started.
You can never have too many. And the more recent they come out the more information is available such as those pesky species we are now seeing that come in through ships ballast.
Published by the University of Michigan Press, these 136 pages are full of good information, drawings and phots.
Worth the price of admission are the maps toward the back showing where certain fish species should be found and a comprehensive listing of web sites applicable to fish.
For you hunters and those that are gadget challenged like me, it doesn't get any simpler than Bushnell's Backtracker GPS. Hand-held, it holds three way points and will get you back from your stand to your starting point once the lights go out. Check it out at
Sooner or later you'll need light in the woods or on the boat. The Gpo Fast and Light is a new LED light-actually three-in the bill of a baseball camp. You wear the battery and wiring, concealed in a headband.
A switch concealed under the visor turns the light on for straight ahead work, another click shines it downward to assist with unloading a gun or tying on a bait and a third, brightens the second selection.
There is absolutely no added weight to the cap. Wear it like any other and go. Check it out at or 916-853-CAMP.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hunt safely

Fall hunting seasons are here. In no time archery deer season opens (Oct. 1-Nov.14). Whether you go afield to hunt squirrels or woodcock, or wait to hunt deer, remember to hunt safely.
That means you small game hunters need to wear hunters orange. For me the more orange the better.
Always keep guns pointed in a safe direction and on safe when not firing. Know your target and what is between you and it and beyond. Don't take a shot if you have doubts.
Archers aren't required to wear hunters orange. Instead they will be in one style of camo or another. In any event they may be difficult to see.
If you are deer huting from a tree be sure you wear a safety harness b0th to climb and then in the stand. It should be the type that will support you upright without cutting off circulation and one that allows you to gain the stand back in the event of a fall.
Never climb with a bow and arrows. Leave all of your equipment on the ground tied to a rope. Bring the other end of the rope dup with you. Once you are secure in the stand haul up your gear. Do the opposite when you leave.
For any hunting be sure and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Stay safe during these hunting seasons.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cross bow

Not exactly fresh news but we now are allowed to hunt with cross bows. I'm not sure I understand the need for them.
Years ago and on the board of directors for Outdoors Forever, a group dedicated to making the outdoors accessible to disabled people, cross bow hunting was a hot topic.
Good friend and physical therapist Dan Selahowski was instrumental along with the late Roger McCarville and others in getting legislation passed to allow hunting with a cross bow for individuals that demonstrated medically they had disabilities preventing them from hunting with other types of bows.
For awhile this legislation was strictly adhered to. Doctors didn't sign off for any reason. It was a well thought out approach.
Now comes additional legislation that opens the use of cross bows to the population. Going back to when I first began bow hunting there were only recurves and long bows. Then came compounds which seemed to be a huge change.
But whitetail hunting with these bows has always been a challenge. The wind, a leave, twig or small branch, the release, and other things, all go to influence arrow flight. It was a challenge.
Now with the advent of cross bows, where is the challenge? It's almost like hunting with a silenced gun in bow season.
You don't shoot arrows, they're called bolts. Shorter than an arrow, they travel at 400 feet per second.
I'm all for new technology. But cross bow hunting should have been left alone and used by those it was intended.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I'm fired up about this new way of communicating with all of you that read or participate in the outdoors sports. I try to cover most of it in my weekly columns in the Oakland Press that appear Thursday's in the Sports section.
From time to time I get emails from readers that agree with what I write, some disagree, while others offer tips or suggestions about things going on or people they find interesting. I try to answer all the mail and foloow up where I can.
Heading into fall brings with it the various hunting seasons. And with it the complaints that the DNR isn't doing enough for the deer herd. That their numbers are too high witnessed be fewer deer being seen.
There are those that think the number of anterless permits are far too high. And of course the issue of deer baiting always comes up. Many hunters are opposed to baiting while others see nothing wrong with it.
Then there is the implication that the current administration in Washington is out to take our guns away from us. Not just handguns but your grandfather's shotgun or the .22 that was handed down or given to you as a kid.
I look forward to hearing your comments and what you are interested in. These days with a shrinking dollar, not a lot of time to get outdoors, and the many single parent families, it sometimes seems like being outdoors camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, boating, hiking or doing whatever you enjoy are not a priority.
Maybe that's wrong. Maybe some of these activities should be moved up on the to do list.