Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kayak fundaments-very important

Thursday's column is about grandson Josh's first kayak fishing experience. I can't help but thinking, for these first-time, introductions to new activities, it goes without saying that fundamentals are key.
Then again, too much information on a subject at one time can leave the intended newcomer confused.
Having said that, there are different ways of sitting and was to move that stabilize both you and the boat.
While some of these things are for comfort, they are also meant as a means to be safe whether that means an informational overload or not.
In any event, kayaking is fun and safe when done in a proper manner. To learn what's proper take a lesson or at the least get out with someone who has some experience. Take in the good points and forget those that leave off those finer points that could save your life.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fall and it's activities are coming

I'm not trying to rush the seasons but when I see press releases for fall hayrides and pumpkin selecting, it gets one wondering.
Already, some trees are beginning to color up. Others have begun to lose leaves. We used to have tomatoes ripening in the garden into October. This year it looks as though they will be finished in September.
Stores are advertising specials to have bows gone over, tuned up, and otherwise set in shape for the upcoming whitetail season.
Small game hunters are getting ammo sorted, guns cleaned and boots oiled all in preparation for that first hunt.
Once those bows are put into hunting shape take some advice and start shooting. Try and shoot a few arrows each day.
It's not only good for target accuracy, but you'll be surprised at the muscle you've lost since last year. Shooting only helps bring that muscle memory back and over time, will work the soreness you are bound to experience out as you use them.
But don't let the coming of fall fool you. There are plenty of days left with warm sunshine, and bug less outings once that first frost hits.
Plan activities for the outdoors and enjoy them. In no time at all, we'll be reaching for the heaving clothing to fight off those cold, north winds.
Then comes ice fishing and cross country skiing along with late season whitetail and muzzleloading hunts.
See, the outdoors calendar always has something going on, hot, cold, wind or rain. Enjoy all of the seasons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Invasives, unwanted exotics; all make a variety of pollutants

Follow the news and learn there is more to the term "unwanted" than ruptured oil lines or illegal dumping.
We have been through the purple loosestrife, a beautiful plant imported to help with erosion problems. But once it's established it brings with it another set of problems. It takes over wherever it grows.
Nothing will combat it short of manually digging the things out and tossing them. The clue to this plant being a problem should have been it's looks.
It's really quite nice to look at with it's lush, purple flowers. Anything that nice looking has to have a downside, and this one certainly does.
So does autumn olive found growing wild in or near many of our parks. That's why the DNRE hold special work days for the public to get involved and help remove this pesky plant.
Now certain animals, alligators, snakes and others are being released once they outgrow their surroundings.
Brought here probably illegally, wild animals are just that, wild. Once they begin to grow and get out of the cute, cuddly stage-although I can't imagine a snake or gator being cute and cuddly-their natural instincts kick in.
They look for opportunities to hunt for a meal all the while not taking kindly to any human interference whether it's meant as help or not.
Don't bring plants home from elsewhere to plant in your yard or on your property, And leave those exotic animals where they live. Don't try to domestic them. Sooner or later, just like a teenager, they grow up and want their independence.
Don't deprive them of the natural, wild life they are intended to live.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Arts, Beats, and Eats-to carry or not

Apparently I stand corrected about the recent flap over the right to carry weapons not concealed at the aforementioned festival.
Sandman commented, "Is it wise to advertise that you are packing ( a firearm), no." The comments goes on to state "I don't think that the point wasn't to show an exposed gun so much as it was Royal Oak making the decision to not allow any guns which is against both state and federal laws."
If that's the case as was stated, then there seems to be a rights issue. But aren't we all adult enough to realize there was an error in judgement? That the right to bear arms is still alive and well?
Why pick a fight over the right to carry at a public gathering like this festival? I don't get it. Yes, we go back to having the right to carry. That seems to be understood and acknowledged. Lets drop it and move on.
I'm understanding that if the antis or whatever group is behind this, were to get their way, the feeling is that it would be just the beginning. That the right to carry would be further diminished down the line at some other function or venue.
I think in some of these arguments, more harm than good is done on behalf of rights. At least that's the perception by those that oppose guns in any form.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Enjoy fall-like weather; Mr. Winter coming soon

No one can complain about our weather these past several days. Cool, low humidity, and sunshine make for fall-like days many consider perfect. Now if only the bugs-those pesky ones-leave, all will be right.
A couple of days ago I took our grandson Joshua for a late afternoon paddle/fishing trip on a local lake.
He had never paddled a kayak or been in one for that matter. The trip was to acquaint him with these kinds of boats and at the same time allow him to fish to help keep his mind off what he was doing.
He's nearly 13, 5-5, 115-pounds, and size 10 1/2 shoes. "I'm nearly as tall as you, grandpa," he said when I asked about his stats.
A really wonderful baseball and basketball player with lots of potential talent, we've spent the past few weekends having him try out for travel baseball teams in the area. So far he hasn't quite gotten the call.
A little fishing trip might help ease the mind from thinking about all those "what ifs," I reasoned.
After a brief lesson of do's and do nots on the beach, we launched Josh and his boat, a Wilderness Tarpon 100-or 10-feet.
Initially he and the boat were two separate items. The boat tipping this way and that while he was looking back at me uncomfortably. But in no time, he had things smoothed out including his actions and the boats.
Soon he was throwing a small spider with rubber legs along lily pads, catching and releasing good-size bluegills.
Later, we took a leisurely paddle around an island, then paddled the majority of the lake before heading in at dark.
For a few hours, Josh was able to leave the world of athletic competition behind and concentrate on learning a new skill. I would like to think that it helped.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gun control rights to bear arms

The ongoing debate about whether to allow handguns to be openly carried at the Arts, Beats, and Eats Festival seems odd.
Like others, I don't understand the issue or why this is being brought up at this time. There doesn't seem to be any question that the right to bear arms is understood.
But why do you need to push or flaunt it? No one has said leave your guns at home. Why would you want to carry a firearm at a festival in the first place?
Yes, people carry them concealed and if worn properly, no one is the wiser. I'm speaking from 35 years of law enforcement experience.
Yes ago, beginning my career as a young deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department the question about carrying a weapon came up in one of our academy classes.
"Yes, you have the right to carry a gun. But I'm telling you right now, expect to get stopped and questioned by any police officer that sees you," the instructor said.
Is it worth it to carry a gun to prove a point? Not in my way of thinking. To the contrary, it seems this would add fuel to the fire about limiting guns and stir up the antis.
A word to the wise should be sufficient. If you have a CCW and feel you need to carry, that's your call. But there isn't any need to advertise that you are armed.
On the other hand, those that have a need to wear a gun exposed can legally do so. But just what is the point?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ease the pinch on your wallet and fish this way

This week's column deals with a good way not only to get out and fish, but to do so relatively inexpensively.
An added bonus is the relaxation that comes from this type of fishing along with the friends you could make.
We're talking pier or bank fishing. No need for an expensive boat, color graphs or GPS systems that pinpoint your location anywhere in he world.
By using a lot of things you have around home or buried in the garage, a trip to the river bank or a pond can be done without a lot of cost and still be enjoyable.
Put your creative cap on and think about things you could use to make fishing easier and more comfortable for you.
Pier carts are one such thing. Many are homemade. Some are built using discarded baby carriages while others use an old child's wagon.
Rod holders are another item that can be homemade and built to fit the railings found where you fish. These things are all different. Some use small clamps while others take a larger style.
Next, when you do get out, pay attention to what others bring along. If you see something that seems interesting ask about it.
One thing about these stationary anglers. They are usually eager to share information. After all, there are no secret spots. You all are fishing from the same bank in the same water.
It's just a question as to who will attract fish and how. If you see someone having success ask them what they are using.
You'll see the bait or set up when they haul the rig in to land a fish or reset their presentation. Pier and bank anglers are some of the most friendly and accommodating.
Get your bucket and a rod, some tackle and a snack. Put it all together then get out and enjoy a few hours waiting for the fish to hit. Good luck!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More to talk about than sports

People I know aren't talking a lot about how far the Tigers will slide or if they will make the playoffs.
Nor are they getting carried away with all the new acquisitions the Lions are trotting out. The current topic is all about the weather.
All of the heat and humidity we've been experiencing recently affects people differently. My wife used to live in the Mojave desert. To her, this is warm weather.
Others, like me, don't care for the humidity. Bring on the warm temperatures but hold that high humidity.
But there's another way to look at it. In about two months we'll be wishing we had these days back.
Especially the sunshine-filled ones. When those cold, windy, gray days become normal around here, you can bet we'll wish we had some of these August days back.
In the meantime, stay hydrated, rested, and try to enjoy the weather. It's going to be gone before you know it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Asian CarpAsian ally planted?nintentio

That's what I have been hearing from circles. That these Asian carp have been intentionally introduced to the Great Lakes.
Some think fishermen actually caught them below the electronic barriers, brought them to Lake Michigan waters and released them.
Still others claim that the DNRE is behind this and have been secretly introducing these predators for a long time.
Finally, there is a lot of talk that the carp have been in Michigan waters for years and are now only being made public.
Any of these suggestions are preposterous. First, i suppose some clown of a fisherman could have dropped some into Lake Michigan, but to what end? It certainly isn't funny.
Next, why would the DNRE intentionally introduce a species that they have little knowledge of and know iiffict's to control?
Finally, if these fish had been here for years, it would seem they would have turned up on the end of hooks or in nets. No one has brought forth any evidence suggesting this.
Lets not cry wolf right out of the box. Get your facts straight and your ducks lined up before spouting off, free speech or not.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stealing is never right

It doesn't take much to steal from old folks. In most cases what are they going to? Usually too old or weak to put up much resistance, they often become targets just by being older.
The incident involving the 89-year-old Davisburg resident who collects errant golfballs hit in his yard next to Springfield Oaks is more than a sign of the times.
Who would take some golf balls and a little loose money? Not someone in desperate need looking for a way to feed a family or pay bills.
If that was the need, stealing golf balls out of a homemade cart alongside the road isn't going to get you one month more on the mortgage or a sack of groceries.
No, this was a spit theft. Something done more because it was there than what it would bring. Like most things, there has been some good that has come from this.
People have been dropping golf balls off and expressing concern. I dropped a bag of balls off a couple days back and was glad to see humor and enthusiasm from the golf ball victim.
As my late grandmother would have said, "Shame on you." That does double.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grieving takes some time

My old fishing pal Billy Baker died a few weeks back. His comment when I told him as I was leaving that I would see him again proved prophetic. "No you won't," he said as we shook hands.
If there is good to come from these things I find it in a couple of ways. The first is his long standing suffering is over. He's at peace and free from pain.
Second, while he's missed, he leaves great memories those near to him can hang onto, talk about and even get a laugh from time to time.
I stopped by his home a couple days ago to see his friend, Lois Morgan, who cared for him, putting up with a lot from an old guy that was used to complaining much of his life.
Lois said she, family members and neighbors were moved by one thing that happened shortly after Bill died.
Her yard was decorated with small American flags. She's a patriot and so was Bill along with being a WWII veteran. When the funeral director from Donelson-Johns and Evans arrived he casually asked if Bill was a veteran.
Told Bill was, the funeral folks covered Bill in an American flag before removing him from the home.
Next to the military funeral at Great Lakes Veterans Cemetery in Holly, this simple act was greatly appreciated and entirely a surprise to those gathered at the tine home in Pontiac.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and comment. Those of us that knew Bill will remember him in our own way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hunting season already?

While the hunting seasons are still a bit in the future, now is a good time to begin to take stock of equipment.
Simple tasks like running a patch down a barrel, wiping barrels, actions, and other metal parts with a lightly oiled rag, and checking that ammunition you've had stored since last year are some of the things you could start with.
Bow hunters should be shooting at a bale or McKenzie if they have one. Keep the range short; from 15-20 yards is fine.
When you are in the woods shooting for real, do yourself and the deer a big favor and don't take those shots beyond 25 yards. Shots taken at these longer distances usually miss. Those that don't aren't well placed meaning a wounded animal that wanders off to die, or one that carries an arrow in it for a long time.
If you haven't shot your bow in a long time, take it to an expert and have it gone over. It may need to be tuned or timed.
Be sure your arrows are straight, and have all the fletch intact. Look the broadheads over to be sure they are sharp and ready to go.
Are your sights set for the range you intend to shoot? Now is a good time to begin to make those adjustments.
Finally, you should be in the field doing your annual scouting. If you are hunting a new area, get familiar with it before Oct. 1 rolls around.
There's always something to do when it comes to being prepared for those great fall hunting seasons.

Cross the Straits into another world

It sure seems that way. Once you pay the Mack Bridge toll and head a little north then west; in my case to the Keweenaw, it's like you are in another world. Yoopers would like you to believe that although they are still a part of Michigan.
Those of us downstate probably don't get the chance as often as we would like to spend time just about anywhere in the U.P.
Not the large towns but some of the smaller ones and the areas adjacent to them offer some really great getaways if you can do without frills.
Without recommending specific trips, take just about any two-lane highway and go for a ride. Chance are you'll come to a state rec area or some other facility open to the public.
If you have a canoe or kayak, you're surprises will double . Take the time to stop at several of the those signs that direct you to public access points and launches.
Many of these small lakes go unused throughout the year. There's a good chance you'll have one practically to yourself.
Granted, many of these state forest campgrounds and others are very rustic. Spend a few days in one, then change it up for a state park with showers and you'll be good for another couple of days.
Travel safe and stay surprised.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Those good old days may be coming back

When you think about how our society is going these days what with inflation and job loss, you begin to wonder if we aren't headed back to what some of my generation term the good old days.

I see it more these days with things like home gardening, composting and a renewed interest in preserving food we grow. Those canning jars we let go of years ago might come in handy in today's times.
Look at all the ads for "green" this and that. There was a program on cable the other night showing how to compost at home, then moved on to commercial compost operations.
Recycling, something that was last seen seriously during the second world war is more popular than ever. And a good thing as well.
We used to work on our own cars and keep them longer. The trend had been to take them to mechanics for work and get a new one every couple of years.
Mostly the auto companies forced those shade tree mechanics out of business when they went to all of the computerized workings.
Now people are beginning to change their own oil, do their own lubes and other work they can still get at without having to disarmthe entire vehicle.
And as far as longevity goes, at least in our household, we continue to hang onto our transportation long after most people would have moved up.
Yes, this year was spent in the garden but not with great effort. But there is always next year.