Friday, October 29, 2010

At the bird feeder

Cold, windy days, mean only one thing this time of the year. Snow is right around the corner. And that means it's time to get serious about bird feeder over the winter.
On the days it's blowing and feels too cold to go outside, the skies are gray, and it makes you feel like you should have moved to Arizona when you had a chance, take a look out the window at your bird feeder.
It seems that no matter the conditions, some feathered creatures will venture out for a nibble. Some prefer feeding directly from the feeders. Others would rather stay on the ground and nibble the overflow that gets knocked down.
Those pesky squirrels can tell when the feeder is full and given a chance, they'll take it over, leaving others to sit close by until they have had their fill or knocked everything out of the feeding station.
At our home we usually put out black sunflower seeds called oilers, along with some suet. We get a variety of birds, some quite colorful.
Project Feeder Watch in conjunction with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology kicks off on November 13.
Visit to learn more about this program and others Cornell Labs sponsors.
It's practically a sure thing to break up these dreary days, especially if you aren't into any of the hunting sports.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall in the U.K.

Over here in Yorkshire-that's James Herriot land -the country vet made famous by a series of books and TV shows-leaves are changing colors and dropping off trees, its been windy, and mornings are frosty.
For some reason, British people keep their homes on the cool side. They really are into dialing down.
It's taken us a bit, but I think we are getting used to not hearing the furnace kick on. To ward off the chill, we dress a little warmer around the house.
The talk around here at present is the shooting of a large elk. Known as a red stag over here, the animal stood 9ft. tall and weighed several hundred pounds with a massive rack and was thought to be 12 years old.
He was called Emperor by those that followed his movements on a lady landowners estate. Apparaently, this lady heard gunshots and hasn't seen the animal since.
Animal rights groups and pro hunting people are arguing over the possible shooting of the animal.
People have come from around the world to book a hunt for Emperor. The thinking is if he was killed-there hasn't been any evidence of that as yet-the mount will probably be sold to be hung in a hotel lobby or someone's estate.
Whether he should have been shot or not is an on-going argument. Hunters are obviously blamed, poaching has been mentioned, and the notoriety caused by the press has also been blamed.
See, things really don't change that much from country to country.

Fall in the U.K.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Walks in England

I don't understand why the Brits don't have more gold medal winners in the Olympic marathon event. This is the place to train with all the hills everywhere.
I'm over here for a visit with our daughter who just delivered her first baby, a great little boy that is getting a lot of attention.
Every day I take their yellow lab, Bonnie for a walk. We generally go several miles. But like running, I start out a bit chilly, but in only a few minutes, I find I have worked up a sweat and am breathing hard.
One day, due to computer problems, I walked a couple of miles to the library to use their Internet only to learn they were closed on that day. The walk was all up hill with about 30 pounds of computer and related materials in my backpack. Then i had to turn around and hike back.
There are many walking clubs and groups around here that hike at least one day of the week together. Signs saying "footpath" are all over and well protected by the government. Some paths run through pasture land, along side gardens, and next to houses.
The English, it turns out, are big on walking and take care not to lose any of these public pathways.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Family addition!

Many of you who know me, know our daughter Jennifer was having her first baby this month. Well, the little one finally made it's appearance at 8a.m. here in the UK.
She delivered a healthy baby boy. Everyone; mom, baby and dad are doing fine. The four grandparents are fine as well. We'll all make a trip to the hospital later today after mom has had some rest.
The little guy, Ewan James, decided to keep with Brit tradition and arrive on a typical British day the weather is, well lousy. It's cold, blowing, gray, and of course raining! Nothing new on those fronts.
Thanks to all of you who have expressed an interest, written, phoned or emailed. They have all been most welcome and very much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preparation for deer camp

Will a Monday opener mean a smaller number of hunters in the woods? That depends on who can get off work, or whether hunters will wait until the following weekend to head north and open a traditional deer camp.
These types of openers are difficult to predict as far as numbers of hunters and deer taken go. Those that stay home and hunt close here in southeast Michigan are probably going to be in the woods Monday. If not all day then for sure for an evening stand once the work day is over.
Will job losses change the outcome for the 2010 season? Because dollars are tighter maybe more hunters will stay close by to hunt or not hunt at all.
Perhaps the cost of a trip north will prove to be too costly during these times. Still, many who are out of work may figure they can supplement the family grocery bill with some venison in the freezer.
Wherever you decide to hunt, be safe. And don't forget to wear all the hunters orange you can.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Physical shape for hunting seasons

Whether you walk out in the woods and sit down all day in your stand, you need to be in good physical shape. In fact, it should be the best you can possibly be.
Several years ago, following a series a warnings that I didn't pay attention to, I would up having a stent placed in one of the arteries near my hear.
The artery was 90-percent blocked. I have no idea how many arteries a person has that have to do with the heart muscle, but apparently one not doing it's job puts a strain on the body.
I'm writing this from an English Pub near Huddersfield, England where our only daughter makes her home.
We are here at the request of our daughter and son-in-law to be available for help once their first baby arrives. That should be any day now, and judging from the way my daughter looks, it would seem to be really close. But what do I know?
Except their wireless Internet doesn't like my computer. Today, I hiked uphill about a mile and a half to a small library in hopes they had Internet access. Turns out they are closed on Monday's.
Back down the steep hill I went until i came to this pub. I asked the bartender if they had wireless and if so, could I use it.
She not only confirmed they had wireless, but was writing down the name of the provider and the pass word to get on with.
"How much is it," I asked. "Oh, it's nothing. Free. Maybe you could buy a cup of coffee," she said with a smile.
I'll gladly pay for coffee if it will save me a three-mile hike up a very steep hill, several times a week.
I'm in shape to hunt this year and probably won't get a chance to get out until the late season. Oh well, the body does feel stronger and I even think I'm losing a little weight.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bear video and gun sighting

This Sunday read about award winning author, photographer, and big game hunter Richard P. Smith's video, "Field Judging Black Bears."
The time and effort that went into producing this video will not only make you a better hunter but a more informed one when it comes to judging the size of bears.
Nothing comes easy and trying to tell if a bear is a shooter or not is going to take several looks of the video along with good field experience.
Hiring a qualified and experienced guide would, in my opinion, be essential. From past discussions with Smith, I know he has personally used guides on some of hunts.
Hunting is what this time of the year is all about. And getting ready for it involved checking firearms and at least running a patch down the barrel.
Getting to the range for some shooting is a good idea too. The Oakland County Sportsmen's Club will host Hunter Sight in Days, open to the public.
Dates and hours are Oct. 23-24, 30-31, and Nov. 6-7. All times are 10a.m.-5p.m. For further information call the club at (248) 623-0444, Tues.-Sat.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Check out area lakes and parks

Any drive, especially through Oakland County will result in area lakes being without much activity on them.
This time of the year, with so much to do-small game hunting, bow hunting-many sports-minded folks are in the field or woods.
It's a good time to fish, take that hike you've been putting off or go for a bike ride on one of the many mountain bike trails.
If you decided to go into the woods wear something with orange to distinguish you from game. Even though deer firearm season is some time off, be on the safe side.
You hunters should be absolutely sure of your shot before taking it. Know that it is in fact game and know what is beyond the area you intend to shoot at.
And don't leave those northern rivers like the AuSable or Manistee off your to do list. There's still trout in them that need something to eat and will chase any variety of wet flies.
This is a good time to throw those woolly buggers you've been saving up.
The Huron-Clinton Metro Parks and the Oakland County Park system have plenty of hiking opportunity close by.
Take advantage of the nice fall days and get outside.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Deer Quotas

There seems to have been some misunderstanding with last Sunday's story and the amount of deer a hunter can legally take.
The story was correct in that a licensed hunter may apply for up to five antlerless permits in certain DMU's (Deer management units) for private land use.
Deer to be taken on does and button bucks. Hunters are allowed two antlered deer per year. They may take one in archery and one during firearms or muzzloading season.
Or they can take two antlered deer in one season provided they have the combo license and that there are at least four tines on one of the racks.
The story was not meant to say the DNRE was allowing some sort of open season on all deer and hunters could take practically all they cared to.
There is a quota in effect brought about through studies of wildlife biologists and submitted to the NRC (Natural Resources Commission). It's the NRC that approves these yearly quotas.
Put another way, deer hunting regulations remain the same as in prior years. But is certain DMU's quotas have been established to take additional does and button bucks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Season of choices

The choices of outdoor activities this time of the year are endless. This Sunday's story has to do with salmon fishing. And where there are salmon, there's a good chance steelhead won't be fare behind.
The choice of what to fish is up to you. But if it's in a river, get ready for some hard and fast runs should you hook into a steelhead or salmon.
Salmon can lie against the current like a log. You can put all the backbone of the rod you're using into them and still not budge them.
Steelies on the other hand are the most active and aggressive game fish-I think-in North America.
They'll take you downstream, around a couple of bends under some logs then break you off quicker than you can set the hook.
And don;t forget those fall runs of walleye. This time of year they are schooling, putting on the feed bag and getting ready to smack about any lure that is presented just right.
Check out Sunday's story about steelhead and salmon. If you're a first timer, give guide Kip Lowrie a call. All of the contact information is in the story. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where are the deer?

Where are the deer at? That's every deer hunters question this time of year. If you had been in my backyard a couple evenings ago you would have seen one feeding behind my shed.
Another nice buck was observed almost behind the entrance building to the Pontiac State Recreation Area.
In other words, they could be just about anywhere this time of year. But be sure of one thing. They are going to be close to food sources, water, and good cover.
So that's where you come in with all the pre-hunt scouting you should have been doing. There is so much to do in preparation for deer hunting.
There are the stories of hunters who park their truck alongside the road, walk in a few yards, sit down for a half hour and drag a six-point out.
I've seen this happen but believe me, these are few and far between. Your best hunt will be the one you have put in time preparing for. Good Luck.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sandman and hunting

I get many comments from someone who calls themselves sandman. Hope someday to get an email so we can correspond.
Incidentally, his latest comment had to do with Rose Oaks and hiking in through the railroad tracks. He felt that was either the best or only way to get into hunting spots.
I can't argue as I haven't been there to hunt or even walk the property. Now for additional doe permits being issued for certain DMU's (Deer Management Units) mostly here in southeast Michigan.
A hunter can purchase up to five permits to take does or button bucks on private property. This is the DNRE's answer to herd control.
There are more sides to this than there are to the largest iceberg floating in the northern Atlantic.
Five deer is a lot of deer. I felt lucky to take one, and if I got another, two used to go pretty well in the freezer.
There must be an answer to these sorts of questions. True, the deer are being forced out of their habitat and into our yards. My wife and I sat and watched a young deer munch grass in our backyard last week.
They are like homeless people. They have no where to go, and their food sources are being eliminated.
So hang on for some hot and heavy comments-pro and con-to deer herd numbers, how they are arrived at, and the solutions that have been forth.
It's true when they say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deer season

Since the story about hunting on Rose Oaks County Park Property, Ive received one email from a reader complaining about hunters walking in along the railroad tracks carrying tree stands.
Truth be known, people were hunting this property well before it was allowed. That doesn't make any of this better or more fair.
For the life of me I can never understand when there are published rules and regulations, why a certain segment decides it's perfectly okay to disobey them.
It reminds me of a walleye fishing trip a few years back. Several of us fished from the same boat and limited out early.
We headed to shore to drop our fish in our respective coolers and call it a day. But the licensed captain said lets go get another limit.
Now that is from someone who should be respected, know the game laws, and practice them faithfully. You don't get a limit of anything, pack it away and start again as if you hadn't taken a thing.
That's why many residents around Rose Oaks are apprehensive about hunting in the area and what may happen.
Hunters on private property, errant shots, wounded deer; you name it. Like I've said before, sportsmen are there own worst enemies.