Monday, November 29, 2010

Be ready for first ice

I've mentioned this topic before. It's about getting ready for ice fishing and "first ice." Those experienced folks with a lot of hard water under their boots always mention first and last ice as being the best as far as fish catching goes.
The problem with either of these times is the safety factor. Near Bay Port during the hay day's of perch fishing, some anglers would slide small pieces of plywood out on ice just a couple of inches thick in order to take advantage of that first ice.
I have been on ice that was moving up and down, definitely taking a chance. The only good thing was we were in water that was barely waist deep, usually the drudge cuts around Bay Port and Mud Creek.
Don't take those chances. The older you get the wiser you get. You learn pretty quick that no fish is worth a dunking in ice cold water.
Be safe. It's better to wait until there are several inches before venturing out on ice then take all of the precautions you possible can.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fishing during deer season? You bet!

Be smart like a fox. If deer season is over for you or the opener didn't live up to your expectations, try fishing.
That's right, fishing. This is a great time to hit the lakes. There's little, verylittle or no boat traffic. Usually the jet skis have been put up and those hotshots in high-speed boats have retired them for the winter.
The lakes are yours to enjoy. And what's more, many people are still in the woods trying to bag a buck, chase squirrels, or get a shot at a rabbit.
There's no need for new equipment; you probably have everything you need to catch fish already. You don't even need any new license. The current year is still good through the end of March.
Just slow things up. Make presentations more slow and deliberate. Experiment with different baits. Some favor small stuff because fish may be lethargic while others swear by big baits as fish are putting the feed bag on for the winter.
In either case, the water is all yours. Get out and enjoy it. Give those deer a rest until next season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving eve

No doubt kitchens in the U.S. are beginning to get a hard workout in preparation for Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Here, in the U.K. it will be just another day. The closest holiday talk over here is the latest news about the Royals wedding. That of William and Kate. The date-April 29, also the date of my wife's birthday-will be a holiday across the U.K.
Last week, on one of the talk shows, there was some discussion about the American Thanksgiving. Much of it seemed to downplay the celebration and it's meaning.
The average Brit has no clue as to what and why we celebrate the day and the traditions that go on year after year.
Like the Detroit Lions and their annual Thanksgiving Day football game. Too bad it's a national broadcast, because more often than not, it's been a national-certainly local-disgrace.
Winter is making her first appearance in the form of cold weather and the possibility of snow later in the week.
We will have a traditional dinner this Saturday with relatives. We will be thankful for our new grandson, Ewan James, our family, and our son Mark who just arrived from his teaching post in South Korea.
Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving and remember to set aside some time to be truly thankful for all we have and enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hunting, U.K. style

Someone told me a long time ago when you begin humanizing wild animals, anti hunters begin to take aim.
The conversation was prompted by the late Howard Shelly. Shelly, whose magical and lyrical voice could be heard on the old Mort Neff Michigan Outdoors TV show.
Shelly, who resided in Davisburg, might say, "There goes Mr. Rabbit, or I saw Mr. Moose," and so forth.
The titles always fit with his narration and didn't seem to draw the viewer into thinking these wild critters were in any way human. It was just Shelly's style of narration.
I used to do the same thing until someone pointed out to me how I was making wild things, well, seem more human. Actually, I think the meaning was to be along the lines of more pet-like. Hence no shoots pets!
But I digress a little. Here in the U.K. they are still muddling over a large stag that may have been shot. It was called Emperor, named by a wildlife photographer who by his own admission, has never hunted except with a camera.
Shelly did hunt and had taken many wild animals, both big and small game. He definitely was not on the anti side of things.
But there is that name thing. Most people around here think it's a shame deer are hunted and that this one was probably hunted for it's large rack.
If they had their way they would ban all hunting. Sound familiar? I was watching the program being aired about deer hunting and wondering when they would get around to blaming the U.S. for the stag's death, and for bringing hunting to the U.K.
Not this time. Hunting is hunting and remains a sport no matter what country it's enjoyed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Deer season a success!

Whether this year's deer season will go down as successful is still open for discussion. Current DNRE estimates seem to indicate a successful archery season with good numbers of deer being taken.
Tim Payne, wildlife biologist for the DNRE is southeast Michigan says for this year, crop picking has been timely.
"Soy beans have been picked and most of the corn crop has been picked too," he said. That means less places for deer to hide out and should favor hunters.
You have until the of the month to get your deer before other seasons begin. Lots of hunters either wait or those that haven't connected will get out for a bit on Thanksgiving and those days following.
Remember, hunters in the woods translates to deer on the move. Have a good, safe hunt.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oakland County hunter numbers possibly down for opener

While official car counts haven't been completed, it would appear as though hunter numbers in Oakland County may be down. However, in neighboring Lapeer County, there were plenty of hunters in the woods.
A Monday opener may have had a lot to do with a light turnout. Look for a renewed effort to have future openers changed to weekend's or other days, providing more participation for a larger number of hunters.
With warm weather, deer may not have been on the move like they would have been with colder temperatures.
Those arguing that global warming has arrived will surely have something to say about the unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing.
There is still time to get in the woods and take a deer. Have a good, safe hunt.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Veterans Day, U.K. style

All week long preparations were being made for the Veterans Day remembrance or Armistice Day as it is still referred to here.
Schoolchildren learn about the first World War, the one that was said to end all wars. They also learn of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
Like the U.S. poppies are sold to help with costs for war vets who have been injured or otherwise are in need of some sort of assistance.
Saturday evening in London, units from throughout the U.K. payed respects to the fallen in a two-hour-long ceremony with the Royal Family in attendance.
Sunday morning, churches continued the mood, some holding part of their services outside at the site of war memorials found in many villages around here.
Sunday was also the day for wreaths to be placed at the U.K.'s most revered and popular monument, the Cetapoh near London. We used to celebrate Armistice Day in the U.S.
Now, it's called Veterans Day and doesn't get near the recognition it should.
I was standing at a monument in Almondbury, when an older gentleman, dressed in a full dress military uniform, his chest practically covered in medals, approached.
When he got to the monument, he stopped, faced it, then bowed. He placed a small wooden cross with a poppy attached alongside the monument, bowed and left.
The name on the monument was that of a Korean War veteran and the dates. They don't forget the sacrifices made for them over here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend before the opener

It's the end of the week and we are in to the final countdown before November 15. Some lucky hunters will head north after work or perhaps wait until the traffic dies down and go Saturday.
Some may have a few days off early next week to take advantage of hunting a Monday opener.
That can work a couple of ways. More hunters in the woods, moving in and out, should stir the deer up and keep them on the move.
Less hunters may mean harder hunting. Staying in the woods, on stand longer or doing some sneak hunting.
Whichever way it works out for you remember to hunt safe, wear plenty of hunters orange and leave the alcohol consumption for camp or better yet, wait until you get home.
Have a safe hunt!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nasty, British weather

The Brits call weather like we've been having, "Bloody awful." It's been cold, rainy, very windy, and gray. Add to that, evening comes very early, and dawn takes forever. It seems as though you are getting ready to go to bed or just getting up.
Besides trying to help with our newborn grandson, Ewan, I try to take my daughter and son-in-law's, three-year-old yellow lab, Bonnie, for some long walks. But this weather has put a crimp on how far we go.
Bonnie has been absolutely amazing with the baby. She seems to "mother" him. When he starts to cry, she moves to his side, tail wagging, with a concerned look on her face.
When it's diaper or "nappy" changing time, she stays by the baby watching the entire process. She's a most gentle dog. Next to our own Molly, she's the best ever.
This Sunday's column deals with Molly and dog trainer Marc Guerrieri who operates his school out of Canine Resolution on Walton Blvd., in Waterford. ( or 248-681-4201 for information.)
Guerrieri has that magic touch with animals and one that makes dogs want to be with him and come to the classes.
Even after training, he's available to answer questions or offer advice and suggestions. If you have a new dog or puppy and are looking to teach it some of the basic obedience, give Canine Resolution a call or visit the website for more information.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weather; it's something we have no control over

With the way the weather has been in southern Michigan, the chance of snow for the deer opener seems to falling between slim and none with none coming out on top.
It could be another very unseasonably warm time to be in the woods trying to hunt whitetails. By and large, hunters prefer it cold, with a good covering of snow.
Tracking snow it's called. If you don't drop a deer practically where you shoot it, you could be in for some tracking, hence the name.
Tracking deer through fallen leaves, swamps, across running water, over logs and branches, can be difficult. It takes a sharp eye to follow these sorts of trails.
Stories of deer that have been shot but not recovered are common. For me, there isn't any excuse to shoot and not find a deer that you have hit.
First, if it's that kind of shot; one that doesn't look really clean, don't take it. It's not fair to the animal.
Any shot you take should be one that you are fully confident in making. Success means you should be dragging a deer out you took a shot at.
And please pass on those running shots. Especially those with deer running away. They hardly ever work out successfully.
Remember to be absolutely, one hundred percent sure of your target and what is beyond it. Slugs and rifle rounds travel great distances even after hitting something.
Be sure. Be safe.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Snow or not, hunters will make do

Whether there is snow enough for tracking for the November 15 firearms deer opener is anyone's guess.
The number of hunters that will be in the woods is another big guess. Traditionally, the first few days of deer hunting are usually the best for hunters because there are more hunters in the woods which translates into moving deer around.
And once deer are on the move, there is a pretty good chance they could come through an area where a hunter is sitting.
But this year, with the opener being on a Monday, and an economy that is pretty tough at the moment along with high unemployment, this could be a season that goes down as one of the least amount of hunters participating, which would definitely change the numbers in the wrong direction for the deer herd.
Still, in years past when money has been tight, hunters-certainly the dedicated ones-have saved their money for this one time of the year and made a season out of it.
Like the weather, we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whitetail Hunters; Be Safe Through any Season

It's not just the deer firearms opener coming up November 15 that hunters need to think safety while in the woods.
Any season-small game, upland bird, waterfowl, bow-require each of us to practice hunting in a safe manner.
It's not just about the hunt and taking game, but it includes the entire outdoor experience. And along with that experience goes safety and hunting responsibly.
The following are suggestions to make your hunt as safe as possible:
Always treat firearms as if they are loaded, keep muzzles pointed in a safe direction, remember to unload your gun before leaving the woods, know your target and what lies beyond it, wear plenty of hunters orange, be safe climbing into and out of tree stands, hunt with a buddy, and always let someone know where you intend to hunt and what time you expect to return.
Remember the old rule of crossing fences or other obstructions. Unload your gun before passing it over either to another hunter or lying it on the ground on the other side to prevent it from falling, before climbing over or under that fence.
It takes but a moment to reload and be on your way. And if you are going into or out of the woods during reduced light hours, carry a flashlight and turn it on.
Too many hunters still shoot at sounds instead of identifying what is making that sound.
It's important to you and those around you that practicing safety is the first thing on your mind when you park the car, slam the trunk lid and begin walking into the woods.
Safety. Think it, live it, and hunt with it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Counting down

For many, the days are being counted down toward the November 15 annual statewide firearms opener.
Business at sporting goods stores, as well as catalogue orders no doubt are increasing as we get closer to that time when hunters typically are in the woods.
There is still the unanswered question as to whether there will be enough snow for good tracking.
With the white stuff predicted that will be anyone's guess until the time it actually happens. In past years, I've hunted in practically my shirtsleeves, while other years, it snowed so hard you could hardly see the end of the the shotgun barrel. And there were those years of heavy rain as well.
Proper clothing to withstand wind, rain, cold, or snow are a must these days if you plan on sitting for any length of time. That's what deer hunting is about, sitting for hours with absolutely nothing going on.
It takes a certain type of person to be able to do that. For me, it's sometimes a little like ice fishing.
If there isn't anything biting fairly soon, I like to be on the move to another spot. The same is true taking a deer stand.
I'm good for a little bit, then the fidgets set in. Deer, like turkeys, can spot what we think are subtle moves from a ways off.
I've taken a few deer but thanks to my inability to sit still, I've probably missed more chances than I even know about.
How do you sit still for hours? One way is to take a good book along with you and read. That's exactly how I shot my first buck.
Read about it and deer camp in this Sunday's Outdoors section.