Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snowmobiling big in Gogebic country

   You can tell you're a long ways from Detroit when you begin seeing Green Bay Packers jerseys for sale instead of the Honolulu blue and silver of the Lions.
   A good 10-hour drive from Oakland County to Bergland in the western U.P. puts one in touch with some decent snow; enough for snow machines to run on.
   Staying at the Timbers resort, we are about the only guests here to do something other than ride trails. "We're booked solid," Timbers resort owner Sarah Long said. She and her husband Tim run an operation that looks more like a lot for snowmobiles than it does for cabin rentals.
   Situated on the shore of Lake Gogebic, it's but a short snowmobile ride down the hill in front of the resort to the lake below.
   Besides riding on the frozen lake, there are hundreds of miles nearby to explore via snow machines. One could ride to the tip of the Keweenaw, or to Wisconsin, and back through the U.P. to the Soo.
   On our drive up here we didn't encounter snow until well north of Escanaba, probably near Sagola. Whether you ice fish or come here to ride, be safe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lake Gogebic-plenty of ice

   This western lake in the Upper Peninsula has ice good enough to support shanties and snow machines. That's not all the good news if you ice fish. The word is the walleye bite is good. Perch are so-so, and Northern pike are on the prowl.
   We drove nearly 10 hours from Oakland County to arrive at The Timbers Resort which would be home for a couple of days while we tested our piscatorial skills against those of the fish. I'll let you know how that all works out.
   For the snowmobile set there is decent snow for sleds as evidenced by many on the trails, at gas stations and in the local restaurants and watering holes.
   Funny this weather. All across U.S. 2 through Escanaba there was hardly any snow. After turning north, passing through an area called Helps, we finally had snow on the ground.
   It's going down to around 10-degrees tonight. Ice fish in begins for our group tomorrow. I hope the bite is still on.

Monday, December 26, 2011

No snow-still plenty to do

   Get outside now while we have sunshine and mild temperatures for this time of the year. This is a good time to naturally collect that vitamin D the sun produces and we need for energy especially over the winter.
   Make your time outdoors productive by hiking one of the many nearby trails including Paint Creek, Independence Oaks County Park or the Huron-Clinton Park system.
   Don't forget the opportunities within the several state lands that are in our area or at least nearby. If you feel adventuresome, try a paddle on the Huron River. Dress warm even though the sun has been poking through and by all means wear a PFD.
   Around home, finish those outdoor chores you didn't think you would have time for. With a break in the weather, now is a good time to clean any pet residue left in the yard.
   Finish trimming and cleaning up where you can. Don't destroy any plant roots as they are comfortably asleep this time of the year. If anything, give them a heap of mulch or leaves to help them winter through.
   People like me who are always in the garage now have a change to get at the organization portion especially in those garages that aren't heated.
    Stay healthy by getting out for a slow, gently walk. Speed and difficulty can come after you get back into shape.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some terms from the past year

   Terminology over the year seems to come from the officials in Washington, D.C. We now have "kicking the can down the road" as in putting a decision or action off.
   Some people are busy "occupying" something. Lately, there is talk of a play about occupying the North Pole. You wonder what is next following the occupation of Wall Street and big city parks.
   We used to have "to do" lists. Now we have "bucket lists" that can include to do subjects, but most often have to do with things we would like to personally do such as sailing around the world, hunting big game or some exotic trip.
   You can read more about it in this Sunday's column. In the meantime, pardon me while I kick the can down the road as I go over my bucket list while occupying my recliner and watching the Lions this Saturday.
   Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Busy week ahead

   Not too many households are quiet this week what with last minute shopping, cleaning, and later, all the cooking that goes into Christmas dinner.
   We are no different. One son is due in from Germany Wednesday with his wife. We've not seen them in over a year and look forward to the visit.
   Also getting ready for Christmas is Molly, out Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She's at the groomer, or as I say the beauty parlor at the moment.
   She was overdue for a good bath, nail cutting and clipping. We vacuumed the other day and emptied the vac bag. My wife said there was enough dog hair in the bag to make another dog!
   Whatever is on your agenda these days, take your time and be safe. In the end, it somehow all gets done. If it doesn't, it usually works out to where it isn't that important after all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas-a week away

Ho, Ho, Ho. In case you've been incapactiated for a bit, Christmas is a little over a week away. If you are like me, there is still lots to do.
   This Sunday's column suggests a few items for the outdoors one on your list. They aren't expensive either. Bill McElroy's wonderful bass and other fish art is available in decal form from KD Outfitters in Waterford.
   I like to use them on my Plano tackle trays, right on the lid. Get creative and use the bass decal for bass fishing, walleye for that species and so forth.
   Next is Clam's Ice Armor socks. I mentioned those because I have been prone to cold feet. These socks keep the cold out.
   Finally, I'm always looking for a way to get everything on the ice and back without a snow machine of any sort.
   Clam's Ice Fishing Chair does that rather well and is comfortable too. That's because it's like a folding chair, it has a back.
   Not to mention compartments for tackle, rods, and even fish. Okay, there you go. No excuses now. Get out and get that shopping done. Oh, I'm an XL in case you were wondering!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weather prolonging the start of winter

With the balmy-like weather we've been experiencing, I can just about to see buds on trees, birds chirping, and my neighbor getting ready to plant his garden.
   While those are exaggerate!, the lack of snow and ice surely has put a damper on businesses that depend on those things.
   Any snow made by area ski resorts is either all gone by now or it's turned to heavy slush. Even the resorts up north are suffering.
   "We've sure had it good with the weather," friend Dave Johnson said yesterday. Johnson, a retired heavy equipment operator says he would have been operating in shirt sleeves had he still been on the job.
   When it's this wet I prefer staying indoors and getting something done that otherwise would wait until I got back from skiing or ice fishing.
   Still, remember to dress for the weather, including a hat. This type of weather is made to catch a cold or some other virus.
   Stay positive!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cold temps could lead to snow making!

   Mt. Holly will be making snow providing predicitons from the weather people for colder temperatures over the next several days, is accurate.
   Tree Tops resort in Gaylord will be making snow too. Tree Tops is getting ready for the Ski Free Weekend which comes up Dec. 16, 17, 18. Special room rates are available from $55 to $79 and include places to stay from B&B's to Tree Tops Resort.
   With each night of stay comes a free lift ticket good for skiing and snow boarding. A free skiing clinic hosted by Tyler Sharpe, Tree Tops director of skiing, will be offered.
   Closer to home and back at Mt. Holly with 18 runs and seven chair lifts along with rope tows and conveyors, everyone is poised to open, hopefully sometime this weekend.
   Whether you hit the slopes at Mt. Holly or head north to Gaylord, it looks like you'll have snow even if it's the man-made variety.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor; a date never forgotten

   Seventy years ago today, well before I was around, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in a surprise and unprovoked move.
   Like other parts of WWII-the Normandy invasion, the battle of Iwo Jima and the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi-much of today's population isn't familiar with these important times in our nation's history.
   Several years ago I wrote about Normandy, France following an emotional visit to this historic place. Sometime later I was contacted by a local radio station for an interview.
   One of the questions I was asked had to do with whether today, people remembered the invasion and the sacrifices that went on there.
   I answered no, that these things weren't being taught in schools anymore. It's important we remember and pause to reflect on these historic dates like today's and Pearl Harbor.
   If you have a flag, lower it to half staff. Not only in honor of those that gave their lives at Pearl, but in all the rest of the campaigns the U.S. has been in to bring peace and freedom to our country.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gray, cold, damp days, ugh!

   These types of days; cold, damp, and gray, make me wish we had stayed in sunny southern California. Then you look at the terrible storms, fires and earthquakes out there and figure you can handle this. Just give it some time.
   I confess that I am a victim of SAD or seasonal affective disorder. When the days continue like this, one after another, my outlook goes from good to bad in a hurry.
   My wife bought me one of those lamps that is supposed to help supplement the light you would get from the sun.
   I usually use it while at the computer. But I walk outdoors no matter the cold, snow or whatever. The docs say that any little bit of sunshine helps.
   Today I didn't receive any help while on my walk. It remained overcast and got colder almost with each step I took.
   But there is always tomorrow and no doubt a change in the weather. Keep your spirits up no matter the weather.
   And this is the season of the year that many of us look forward to as helping to maintain good, positive spirits and thoughts. Keep walking!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cougarsm skis and rabbits, Sunday column

   Cougars, that four-legged critter some swear they see while others equally loud, swear there is no such thing in Michigan. Read the latest on cougar sightings in the U.P. and whom saw what!
   Cross country ski folks interested in some volunteer work while at the same time getting good, outdoor exercise and being of a service and help to others, should look at the Ski Patrol program at Independence Oaks. Whether you have patrolled before or not, a mandatory meeting will take place soon. See my column for the details this Sunday.
   We've had hunts, mainly deer hunts for the kids. Now comes a rabbit hunt right after the first of the year in conjunction with the DNR, a state game area and conservation club.
   You'll read it all in this Sunday's Oakland Press!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snow is a sure sign

   The white stuff that hit Oakland County yesterday is a sure and definite sign winter is here. Even if it doesn't last, it brings out the snow fighting gear-shovels and blowers-along with salt to melt the slick spots.
   Skis will be brought out from the garage attic, a search might be on for poles and the rest of equipment required to downhill or cross country.
    And while lakes are still without ice, those of us that fish the hardwater will be eying buckets, augers and other assorted gear, thinking now is the time to get it all together before there is a mad scramble to find it once solid ice forms.
   Hunters; especially rabbit and deer hunters, will find snow attractive too. It makes for good tracking for small game as well as whitetail.
   With predicitons for another storm moving in here next week, could snowshoeing be far off? Hey, it's winter in Michigan!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Noisy in the malls, quiet in the woods

   ROSCOMMON-While the stores were packed with shoppers and the roads jammed with traffic carrying them to and fro, the woods-at least in part of the north-were strangely quiet.
   "I didn't see anything or hear any shooting," Bill Semion said soon after arriving at his cabin after hunting late afternoon around Gladwin.
   I was outside puttering and heard two very distant but separate shots. While I saw some sign, neither of us saw any deer.
   That was true of the drive up, then later on into Frederic. "The number of deer here in Crawford County is a shame," river guide and fly tyer Sam Surre told me.
   He attributes it to too many seasons. "Make it bow from Oct. 15 to the end of the month, the firearms Nov. 15 until the end of November, a short miuzzleloader season and that's it," he said.
   According to the DNR the most and best hunting will be in south-central Michigan around Jackson and Battle Creek.
   Unless you know these areas or have a place to hunt the wise hunter would be smart to begin scouting them out early for next year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving is great any way you look at it!

   That goes for this year especially. First of course is to remember all of those things in life we are thankful for; family, friends, and good health along with the freedoms to enjoy them.
   I"ll have more in this Sunday's column in the Oakland Press. But we may as well put in a win by the Lions for another reason to be thankful or at least help put the cap on an otherwise great day.
   Then there will be the parade in Detroit. Always enjoyable in our home with some of my wife's homemade breakfast pie and coffee cake.
   Hunters will surely love the day as there is plenty of sunshine and very little wind predicted, making for good stump-setting time if you would rather hunt a whitetail than watch the guys in Honolulu Blue perform.
   However you celebrate Thanksgiving, be sure and make it a happy, safe and sober one!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving week-still time to hunt

Thanksgiving and the days that follow it are the kickoff to the holiday season, leading up to and including Christmas and New Years.
   For many hunters, it's a good time to get into the woods and hopefully take a deer. Because so many people work during the opener and can hunt only after work or on weekends, it's a pretty good bet many will be in the woods when they have the day off on Thanksgiving.
   Some head north with families to celebrate the holiday and get in a good long weekend of hunting. Whether you hunt from home and get back in time for dinner or up north it sounds like there should be plenty of deer.
   The DNR reports fewer being checked at deer checks but more 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 year-old bucks are showing up to be checked.
   While the herd is in good condition, the weather, at least at the beginning of the season, has had an effect on hunting here in southern Michigan.
   And with corn still standing or being picked, deer have plenty of places to hide. Because pressure has been fairly light, deer may not be as wary after the opener as they normally are.
   Remember, you can post a photo of you with your deer by sending it to

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opening day weather-good or bad?

I vote good. DNR wildlife biologist Tim Payne would vote no. "Hunters like it when it's colder and there's snow," he said.
   Quite to the contrary. If I wasn't out trying to get a story to write and didn't have this bum shoulder, I would have said goodbye to my wife about 5:230a.m., took a good lunch, coffee, a couple of waters and snacks and stayed until dark.
   This was a perfect day to hunt, sit around and read, snack, maybe even catch a snooze.                                                                               
   Some would argue that's not true hunting. I argue it's whatever you make of it. What you enjoy when you're out. Hunting hard is one way to enjoy a hunt. So is a leisurely outing.
   Take your pick, just be safe. This time of the year wear lots of orange.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stump picked out?

   Tuesday is the day, November 15, that you better have that stump picked out for. And if you hunt public land, plan on being on it around oh-dark-thirty so you don't lose it to someone else thinking it's their's to hunt.
   With my should out of commission I'll be staying close to Jon Curtis and Julies Oakes both DNR wildlife personnel out of Holly.
   They will be checking deer, answering questions, handing out successful hunters patches, and when time allows, driving their respective areas to get an idea as to hunting pressure.
   I will be riding with one of them or driving around North Oakland County for the latest in what is going on.
Keep an eye on the Oakland Press Facebook page and all the photos of bucks sure to be sent in.
   The prize for submitting is my undying grattitude. Good luck and have a safe hunt!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Countdown to deer camp begins

   Whether you go out on opening day, come home and hang the gun up until the next season, or are one of the lucky that join in on a long established deer camp, the days are getting close.
   Deer campers by and large came about them through dad's, uncles and other family members. Some are formed from frieneships. A like-minded group of people get together, figure out a place to hunt and there you have the beginnings of camp.
   Growing up, I was never exposed to deer camp. By that time my dad had sold his rifle choosing instead to hunt pheasants with his good buddy John Greene.
   The two made their own fun whether hunting, telling stories, or sharing an adult beverage. In those days, Pontiac Lake was primo pheasant territory.
   I remember a story told that shows just how predicitble these two were when they got together. Apparently after a days hunt they were to get cleaned up and go to dinner. As the afternoon moved into evening my mother called Mrs. Greene inquiring as to whether she had seen the two bird hunters.
   "Why Jeanne. Don't you know by now that when those two get together there is no telling when or where they will show up," Mrs. Greene answered.
   No, then didn't get into trouble or break any laws, but every so often they did lose track of time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cold weather and the rut

   There still seems to be a lot of discussion as to where cold weather brings on the rut. That's the time of the year does are ready to receive bucks.
   Bucks lose all sense of caution during this time. You are liable to see them just about anywhere following a group of does or alone, waiting for one to come by.
   In any event, they lose all of their brains and truly through caution to the wind. Normally, a buck will hole up and hang around the really thick stuff especially areas around swamps. You'll seldom see them.
   But once the rut is on, it's every buck for himself. Being in the woods from now on through the Nov. 15 opener is a good time to see a nice set a horns and get a shot.
   Be careful, especially when hunting from a treestand. Remember to haul your bow and arrows up after you get on the stand.
   Stay buckled in so if you should slip or fall it won't be far and you can gain the stand with relative ease. Be sure your harness is one that supports you upright without cutting off your wind.
   And always hunt with someone and be sure to let others know where you'll be and when you will return.
Safe hunting!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Notes and cards appreciated!

   Since I have written about my current medical ordeal beginning with surgery for a rotator cuff tear many readers have written in to wish me the best.
   Several have mentioned their own experience with the same malady. It seems all who have written have had similar reactions except the infection I incurred. So, from that point of view it looks like there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
   Yesterday was my first day back at physical therapy. Rather than painful, I found it to be tiring very quickly. Funny how something as easy as raising your arm up with minimal support can tire those muscles quickly.
   Now that the infusion of antibiotics seems to have kicked in and the infection is doing lots better, hopefully the physical end of this will pay off sooner rather than later.
   Again, thanks for all of your support and your caring. It means a lot.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Medical update

Just got out of the hospital. Re-admitted last Sunday as the infection in my arm had worsened. In the operating room they cleaned the wound out going deeper and sending tissue along with culture samples to be analyzed.
   The good news is the antibiotics that I receive through a pick line daily seem to be finally working. Bu the way, a pick line is a catheter that runs from above my elbow through the shoulder and into the chest. It eliminates an IV and makes the process of delivering meds and taking blood a lot easier.
   Now for the bad news. The tendon that was repaired wasn't in good shape to being with. There wasn't much of it to work with.
   It has torn and can't be repaired. This translates into about a 50 percent loss in the use of my right arm. Once we get the infection controlled, therapy will resume and the thinking is muscles around the shoulder can be strengthened to allow me more range of motion.
   However, doing anything that requires reaching over my head will be out. My surgeon assures me I can fish and paddle a kayak.
   I'm already trying to figure out how to do some of these things left handed. They say where there's a will there's a way. I've definitely got the will.
   Thank you all so much for your calls and messages of concern. They have meant a lot.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jerry Dennis deserves space on the bookshelf

   Well not Jerry Dennis physically. He's a big guy and wouldn't fit. Besides, you would need one of those industrial, warehouse size shelves to perch him on.
   He does deserve space as one of Michigan's finest writers. The award winning author of several books including From A Wooden Canoe, The River Home, A Place on the Water, It's Raining Frogs and Fishes, and others, he has a brand new book just out.
   "The Windward Shore, A Winter On The Great Lakes", 160 pages, and published by The University of Michigan Press, welcomes winter on the shores of the Great Lakes, Jerry Dennis style.
   It's the style part of his writing that draws the reader in creating that interest that makes putting a book down a not-too-pleasant task.
   Spending time with Dennis through a book is entertaining, highly educational, and very fulfilling, making the reader crave more.
   Come along with Jerry Dennis as he explores Michigan in the winter, almost always from a borrowed cabin anywhere from the Keweenaw on south.
   He'll take you on winter hikes, share his thoughts about ice formations; even the noise or lack of it that surrounds winter in the outdoors.
   If you haven't read a Jerry Dennis book yet, by all means start with this one. "The Windward Shore" will not disappoint you.
   After that, you'll no doubt dust space off the shelf for a few other Dennis' titles. Happy reading.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Get outside while weather cooperates

   Whether you hunt, fish, ride a bike, hike or walk, the fall is one time of the year being outdoors is very special.
   That's because most of the bugs-those pesky mosquitoes and biting flies-have all but disappeared making being outside really nice.
   The weather; the air actually, seems to take on a different smell. Fresh and cool, it almost recharges us in our daily activities.
   Maybe it's because we know that in a short time, winter will be here putting the clamps on time spent outside.
   Unless you ice fish, ski or snowshoe, you may go outdoors once a week to put the trash out, preferring to be like some of the animals and hibernate until spring. That's really not an option. It's something we can talk more about later.
   But now, it's time to enjoy those fall colors, daily temperatures without all the humidity and less crowded conditions at parks and on lakes.
   Go ahead. Get outside. Do it soon because Mother Nature has a way of changing her moods on a moments notice!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Feral swine another hunting opportunity

   I wonder if outfitters in the south that base their hunts on wild boar are feeling the pinch in business due to the availability of feral swine right here in Michigan?
   Various friends of mine, for years, have booked trips to hunt wild hogs in swampland and other desolate places at a chance to take one of these critters.
   While I've not hunted them, I have tasted the finished product and found it to be nothing like what we associate with the taste of pork.
   Several times on visits to Germany to see our son and his wife, we've been the guests of good friends for dinner.
   Usually that was wild boar, cooked until it practically falls apart, the meat is delicious. I have no idea if it compares to these wild hogs running loose in Michigan.
   Hunting for wild boar or feral hogs as they are referred to, opens up another hunting opportunity. The current thinking is these critters need to be at the least, thinned out due to the destruction they cause to crops and wildlife.
   While you are on stand waiting for a whitetail to waltz in, be sure to keep an eye open for a hog. You might just get another shot.
   A current hunting license is all you need. There is no season on wild hogs. Good hunting!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best weather of the year, here now

Take advantage of these sunshine, cool, fall days and get outside. Instead of being cold, damp, or wet, duck hunters should have a great time alongside their favorite four-legged hunting companion what with all of the great weather on the horizon.
   Here's a partial list of some fun things to do while the weather is still on our side: Head for one of the local parks; Holly Revreation Area, Independence Oaks or Kensington Metro Park for some great hiking, bird watching, picnic, or tossing the football.
   If you go to Kensington, you're a canoe paddle or two from Heavener's Canoe Rental location practically across the road from Proud Lake Recreation Area.
   A fall paddle on the Huron River is an enjoyable and relaxing outing this time of the year. Rent a canoe from Alan Heavner-he and his family have been in the business for a long time-take a lunch and your camera and you're good to go. Heavner will pick you up once you decide the length of your trip.
   There's no need to make this a marathon session either. Shorter paddles are great for newcomers and offer some spectacular viewing.
   Kensington Metro Park's farm center can be a beehive of activity this time of the year what with hay rides, seeing all the farm animals, and checking out the park's pumpkin crop.
   We won't get many more days like this before the really cold stuff sets in. Better get all of the outdoors activity you can in while the getting is still good!

Friday, September 30, 2011

This fall fish but be careful

Keep a weather eye they say. It's true especially during the fall when winds and seas can combine to make lakes iffy at best to fish.
   A week or so ago, Lucian Gizell and a number of kayakers fished off Glen Arbor in kayaks for salmon. This is Lake Michigan water and subject to some pretty nasty waves.
   "We had one good day to fish and part of another," Gizell said. The weather took a turn and kept smart kayakers on the beach.
   And even if they weren't so smart, there isn't a heck of a lot of paddling one can do with seas coming over the sides and the bow.
   When days get like this, stream fishing or small, inland lakes may be the ticket. If you haven't got you salmon or better still want to learn to fish them in rivers contact Kip Lowrie at Woodland Rivers, You'll get professional guide service, the right flies to use and an education as to how to river fish. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Richard P. Smith-Mean Mary with new books

   Richard P. Smith, Marquette, Michigan based outdoor writer and photographer as well as big game expert is out with a new book just in time for the fall hunting seasons.
   It's the 4th edition of "Deer Hunting," 438 pages, published by Stackpole Publishing. In it you'll find up-to-the-time news and tips about deer hunting.
   Whether you shoot cross bows, shotguns, rifles, black powder, or a compound, there is valuable and very useful information captured in this volume that should make you a better, more understanding hunter.
   When you step into the woods or that cornfield, you are entering the home of the whitetail. While you have some advantages, you actually are on the deer's ground and therefore subject to it's behavior.
   Reading "Deer Hunting," will help tilt those advantages and as they, level the playing field. By reading the book, there is no promise that you can go right out and bag a wall hanger buck. In fact there are no promises whatsoever.
   But it is definitely another tool in the arsenal of others that will help you become a better hunter. Just like the load you shoot in your shotgun, the kinds of clothing you wear on the hunt and the scents you use, "Deer Hunting, 4th Edition," is another tool in that arsenal.
   Beginning this Friday at 8p.m. and continuing throughout the fall, winter and spring, the atrium next to the Blue Note Cafe on Saginaw Street in downtown Pontiac is host for "Live From the Living Room," an acoustic showplace for local talent.
   "It's the cheapest and best entertainment and a well kept secret," long time Live host Maggie Ferguson said. For $5 you can listen for a couple of hours to some of the best talent around.
   Some of that talent comes in the form of Mean Mary who makes her home in Tennessee. Last winter she was on tour. Taking time out she put on a show at the Blue Note that left showgoers shouting and clapping for more.
   Mary James, her real name, is a one women promotional whirlwind. What with a website, radio show, live performances around the country all year long, along with writing songs and performing on the guitar, banjo, violin and other instruments she has found the time to write her first novel.
   "Sparrow Alone on the Housetop," 254 pages, by RV Publishing, the book was co-written by Mary's mom, Jean.
   It's a story about a wealthy business man who lets nothing stand in his way of making more money, not even his family.
   One daughter who is cut from similar fabric as that of her dad, works in the business. The other daughter has had an epiphany of sorts and is trying to help poor, hard working villagers in a small Mexican town who work for her father, develop skills and learn new, modern ways that will left them from the struggles and depressed poverty-driven life brought about largely at the employ of her father's company.
   While making and selling fudge seems more like it belongs in Mackinac, Michigan, Anne Sumner sees it as a  way out from under the corruption of her dad.
  With help from her pilot friend, Jim Orr, the two begin to unravel a tale of chemical use on crops that has taken the lives of several villagers.
   Once confronted, her father and sister try various means to silence what is surely to become a national incident.
   Copies of "Sparrow Alone of the Housetop," may be ordered at Mean Mary's music Cd's are found at Happy reading and listening.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Recent surgery beginning to improve

   Sorry for being so inactive. This recent rotator cuff surgery has really kept me down and not doing much at all.
   These days life consists of going to therapy then resting most of the day. Lately I have been throwing some walking into the mix but that is it.
   Besides physical problems, I've been plagued by a variety of woes that are computer related. PC to be specific. Mine is three years old and the manufacture already says I'm out of date and need to purchase something newer.
   Enter the world of Apple. Friday I took the plunge and purchased a new Macbook and printer. You don't want to know the cost.
   But I'm told by those that have Mac's, after a brief adjustment to a different format, they are wonderful to work with. And there are no or very few problems requiring calls to tech support.
   That's one thing I'm looking forward to. Every time I turn my PC on I'm on the phone with tech support to get it resolved. Sometimes they do and other times I just put up with the way it functions.
   This isn't an ad for Mac's. If you are computer literate-I'm not-I suppose the PC is still a good thing. I need something that works when I turn it on without trying to figure out what is wrong.
   I don't play any games on the computer only write, put my photos on it and do a tiny bit of Internet-based research. Then I'm off.
   Sounds simple doesn't it? I hope it will be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Times flies and so do the seasons!

I'm not really sure of today's date. Ever since my surgery for a torn rotator cuff took place Aug. 31, I feel as though I've been out of the loop.
   That's because I'm so limited in what I can and cannot do. I'm learning though, not to push it. When I had both knees replaced -not at the same time-I did push the limits a bit and got through the rehab quicker.
   But it seems this injury has to take its time in order to be good at the end. And I definitely don't want to go through it again.
   In the midst of all this, my wonderful PC of about three years of age has decided to act finicky. It's been doing this off and on for some time.
   If I had the energy, I would head to the Apple store and look at the Mac's. Everyone I know that has one signs loud praises about them.
   So time spent at the computer for me is very limited. I look at and try to answer emails, write my blogs and columns, then get off for some ice and rest.
   The rest of the time I wait for the next therapy appointment to roll around hoping one of these days will be a monumental breakthrough.
   Till then, please bear with me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New backpacker!

   For a guy that doesn't like camping, my grandson Joshua Chekal has taken to to backpacking like Justin Verlander does to throwing a baseball.
   He's been home about a week after spending four days in the backcountry of Porcupine Mountains. Along with his mom and a friend, the three packed everything in, averaging about 5 miles each day.
   Josh says it was fun. "Really cool," he said. "A lot of hiking up with just a little going down." Besides seeing deer and squirrels, the trio was ever on the lookout for bears.
   "We were told that there were lots of bears around this time of the year," Josh said. "But we didn't see any."
   What he did see was spectacular scenery that included the famous Lake of the Clouds. They were able to camp on a high hill (mountain top?) one night that overlooked the lake.
   The last night was spent along with Lake Superior where they had a campfire and looked at the beautiful night sky that somehow seems to be blacker in this part of the world.
   For an 8th grader at Mason School in Waterford, Josh had some other nice words to describe his outing besides "cool, sweet, and awesome."
   And he's come to enjoy something he probably never thought that much about. Yes, there are other things to do besides play baseball, run cross country, wrestle and play basketball.
   We just have to give them a chance.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stumbling along with the rotator cuff re-hab

   I know it's hardly two weeks since surgery but the pain is still pretty intense. This is all due to torn rotator cuff surgery performed August 31.
   There have been lots of changes since. Because I'm right handed and the right arm was involved I've had to learn to depend on the left side a lot.
   Add to that the near impossibility of sleeping in bed due to the pain, it's been a struggle. I'm grateful for the Lazy Boy I've been using nightly but it's hardly a good sleep.
   Physical therapy began this past Monday. That's added an entirely new dimension to all of this. Namely pain-you know the feeling by now-with some of the movement, to soreness the following day.
   Plenty of icing and rest help some. But I wish it would all go away. Sunday morning, the day before I was to begin therapy I took a hard fall.
   Fortunately, my left side caught the brunt of it. I had to lie on the kitchen floor for awhile trying to figure out if I had further damaged my already healing arm.
   So about all I could do as far as chasing salmon from the kayak this year was talk to some of the guys while they were having a great pot luck lunch at Glen Arbor, site of the Salmon Slam.
   Then, today, I was able to read some of the comments at they had posted about the event.
   And here I thought I was the only one looking forward to next year. Now, just to get this arm re-habbed and back in working order. All in time, as they say.
   Typing brings with it more pain and discomfort than I thought I would have. I've been trying to spread it out, doing it bit by bit.
   If kayaks and fishing for salmon interest you, catch the comments at and watch for my column this Sunday in the Oakland Press.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering Sept. 11

   Sept. 11, 2011 was a warm, sunny day with a blue bird sky. Lake Sty. Clair near Nine Mile Road was as flat as a pool table. And we had found some perch.
   I was fishing with Tom Fury and his brother, Joe. We had been driving the boat around a certain portion of the lake where we had caught fish in the past.
   We finally located them; nice ones too. Although we didn't limit out, we each had a respectable bag of fish by the time we pulled the lines and headed to the dock. All three of us had to be at work later that day.
   It seemed strange that for the beautiful fall day we had, there weren' many boats on the water. If memory serves me correctly, ours was the only one.
 Even those blue bird skies seemed to asking, "where are all the planes?" We had seen little or no aircraft in quite sometime and then when we did it was military.
   Passing it off as some sort of exercise out of Selfridge A.N.G. Base in Mt. Clemons we didn't think too much of it.
   A short run later and we were dockside cleaning the boat up, loading rods and other equipment in our cars and then saying goodbyes before heading out.
   The first I knew anything was wrong I heard leaving the parking lot. Instead of getting my regular DJ on WOMC, I had the voice of one of the national news anchors talking about a plane that had struck the World Trade Center.
   What seemed to be a short time later and this reporter was saying a second plane had hit another tower. Now I am on Jefferson driving in a sort of fog. Like I was in another body or life.
   I listened all the way north on I-75 heading toward Davisburg. My main thought was that the country was under attack and I needed to get home and protect me wife.
   Like the Kennedy assignation or going further back in time, the events of Pearl Harbor, those of us that can will remember this day forever.
   It's one of those historical memories that we wish hadn't occurred.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sept. 11

   It seems almost every generation has their own 9-11. There were both the world wars, Pearl Harbor, Korea, Viet Nam and so forth.
   For us, not only is the date important; one we treat with reverence and remember each year for all of the sacrifices and deaths that occurred that day and the days following, but also for how the world has changed so drastically since.
   Now we take our shoes off at the airport and go through long lines of security checks. In some parts of the country we can no longer fish or hunt in certain places. Think around the Ambassador Bridge and other areas that are security risks.
   In Grayling, we used to drive through the National Guard base and out the backside to get to a cabin called Chimney Burn on the Manistee River. Today, there is the ever present metal, chain link fencing to keep unauthorized folks out.
   As the date approaches, we learn more and more about what happened that day that changed history. As each year goes by, newer, behind-the-scenes-stories emerge.
   This is good in that it keeps the date and event right out in front of us, always a constant reminder of what happened on a fall day ten years ago.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rotator cuff surgery, successul? That depends.

   My shoulder surgery went well, insofar as the surgeon is concerned. As for me all was fine until late Wednesday evening when the pain bloc, applied prior to surgery and designed to last a few days, somehow pulled out of my neck.
   This bloc slowly administers pain medicine into the nerve that controls the shoulder, arm, hand, etc. Once it came out, the pain started to show it's face.
   Reached by phone, my surgeon, Shivajee Nallamothu, D.O. told me what oral medicine to use and that he would see me in his office. "I'm back in at 6 in the morning," the cheerful doc said.
   Since then, the pain has gotten more intense requiring a trip to the ER for a shot then home for sleep. I see Nallamothu tomorrow in his office.
   Prior to this procedure I had been told by others how painful these tend to be. Further, you are in a sling for about a month then rehab for four months, give or take.
   I can attest to the pain. It's right there lingering 24-7. My hope, my plan is to dedicate these next many weeks to making this as successful an outcome as possible. I'm hoping through re-hab, the arm will come back stronger and healthier than it was in the first place.
   Besides, I need to get ready for kayak fishing, fly fishing, small game hunting, and on and on. Stay healthy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tom Kowalski rembered as nice guy

   Like most of you, I was shocked to learn of the passing of the award winning football writer and Oakland County resident, Tom Kowalski.
   Found unconscious at home a couple of days ago, Tom's death is shocking on several levels the first being his age. At just 51, we immediately think that is too young. And it is.
   It's shocking on another level because of all the people he touched through his writing, TV appearances and radio show.
   To go through life and be remembered as a truly nice guy, one that made a difference, is a real honor. Tom attained that status and then some.
   Last night's news showed veteran news reporters choking up when talking about Tom and the memories they had of him.
   Likewise seemingly tough-guy professional football players from the Lions were on the verge of breaking down.
   A consummate beat reporter, Tom covered the Lions like a blanket. That has to be a tight line to walk. First you try to write positively about a group of people that haven't had a lot of positives to mention for several years.
   He had to be on both ends of the story, sort of friend and foe. But he was well respected by the Lions family apparently from the top right on down for being fair and getting the facts of the story right.
   While Tom and I weren't close, we were friends. He always acknowledged me by name whenever he saw me which hasn't been too frequent the past several years.
   Always outgoing and upbeat, Tom physically was larger than life. I never heard a negative word come from him.
   In a time when our attention is being pulled so many ways, Tom was one of the writers I would turn to when I saw his by-line. For me, there aren't that many.
   I looked to him for not only an accurate story but an entertaining one as well. I hadn't seen Tom in quite sometime and had made a mental note to contact him in hopes of spending a little time with him.
   It's too bad I waited longer than I should have. That opportunity is forever lost. But one thing that isn't gone, even with his passing is his ability to teach.
   Known for new writers to go to for guidance, we can all look to how he conducted himself in life and take a lesson about how to treat people.
   Even in passing, Tom Kowalski continues to teach and leaves a wonderful legacy we should all try to incorporate in our daily lives.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Biking 101 clinics, free

   Learn about biking along with type of bikes, equipment and some of the more popular trails at these free  clinics.
Learn About Bicycling and the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail During Two Labor Day Weekend Bicycling 101 Clinics Sept. 3, 10a.m.-1p.m.

   The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park will be the setting for two events the Department of Natural Resources has organized during Labor Day Weekend to highlight the state’s rail-trail system. Michigan has the most miles of rail-trails in the country.
   The DNR’s Recreation 101 program is offering two Biking 101 clinics taking place simultaneously from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at both the north and south ends of the trail. Representatives from the DNR are partnering with local biking experts and vendors to present tips on biking while showcasing the state’s longest rail-to-trail that runs along the former Grand Rapids and Indiana rail bed.
   Tips on cycling basics, safety and different type of biking along with a variety of bikes to try out will end with a five mile ride along the trail.
   Participants are encouraged to bring their own bikes but loaner bikes will also be available. Directions to the Cadillac Trailhead are to take US-131 north to the M-115 exit and go northwest for one-half mile. Take North 41 Road one mile north to North 44 Road. Go west on North 44 Road approximately one-half mile.
   Recreation 101 is a year-round program that recruits top instructors and sports equipment vendors to provide free or inexpensive hands-on lessons. The goal is to provide the novice sportsman with enough skill and knowledge to begin a new activity. For details, visit

   The bicycling clinics are free. All levels of riders are welcome. An adult should accompany children under 10 years old. In event of rain, the program will be postponed or canceled. For more details, call the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center at 231-779-1321.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Surgical update

As of this past mid-week there has been a flurry of activity at our house. Upcoming plans have changed drastically that required hotel reservations to be cancelled, trip registrations changed, and the beginnings of getting some of the heavier work done around the home front in prepartatiion for winter.
   The reason has to do with that rotator cuff problem I mentioned last week. Seems as though the doctors and my wife feel the surgery to correct it should be done now rather than later. There is some concern that the tear could worsen if treatment is prolonged. And one doc commented that the tear was quite large.
   So, to keep peace on all fronts the date for the operation has been moved up to next Wednesday. I can hardly wait!
   Seriously, this is being described as kind of major and painful. At least a month in a sling with no movement followed up by several months of physical therapy the kind where the therepast moves the arm.
   I've been told that this is going to be more challenging than the two knee replacements I have been through. The downsise to all of this is no salmon fishing this fall. And no trip out east for a family reunion.
   If all goes well, I'll be sitting in a recliner, watching the world go by. I just hope by ice fishing season I will be up and ready to go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Holding Lies," good summer reading

   The title, "Holding Lies," sets the stage for this 250-page novel by John Larison. Published by Skyhorse Publishing, as the title implies, the book centers around river fishing.
   In this case it's steelhead at a time when they ran wild and large. It's a novel in every sense with all of the twists, turns, and background that go into any good read.
   A story about a river guide that is trying to establish contact with an estranged daughter in the midst of guiding clients (sports), trying to keep a healthy respect for the ecology of the river and resource, and all the while proteting it's sevrets.
   Just before guide Hank Hazelton's now-grown duaghter comes for a visit, the guide discovers an empty  guideboat with blood smeared on the inside.
   Come along as the local sheriff begins a murder investigation that eventually directly involves Hazelton, who is considered a prime suspect.
   Painting a picture of the past where anglers took large amounts of fish to the present where older, experienced guides try to maintain what is left of the river's majesty and integrity against a backdrop of clients and guides who make a living "catching" instead of just "fishing." High Recommended.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall Backpacking program for women offered by BOW

   Women wanting to learn to be self sufficient in the outdoors might want to take up backpacking. A three-day, two-night backpacking trip will be offered Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising in the Upper Peninsula.
   The program is part of the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program or Beyond BOW as requires participants to have had previous backpacking experience.
   Backpackers will hike about five miles daily along trails that follow the Lake Superior shoreline. They will see waterfalls, limestone cliffs and miles of sandy beaches.
   Each participant will help with camp duties like set up and break down, meals, and water filtering.The trip begins at noon Friday with a gear check and trip orientation in Munising.
   After travelling to the Little Beaver Lake trailhead, hiking begins before setting up camp and enjoying the evening.
   Following Saturday morning breakfast you'll hike before setting up camp. Hiking will continue on Sunday, with an ending time of 3 p.m. in Munising.
    Be prepared to hike on trails with varying terrain and to proceed rain or shine. That time of year in the U.P., plan on anything from cool to cold, so pack accordingly.
   Pack with the newer lightweight camping items available. Cost is $100, which includes breakfast, dinner and dessert each day, plus group gear, such as tents and cooking utensils.
   Each participant must provide their own personal gear (sleeping bag, hiking boots, backpack, etc.) and should pack their own lunches and snacks. Enrollment is limited to eight, so early registration is encouraged.
   For more information about this BOW event, and to get the low-down on what  is needed to feel comfortable camping on the trail, call 906-228-6561.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The packing list grows

   As I explained in Wednesday's blog, packing for a trip, whether with a list or on the fly presents problems for me.
   If I have part of my trip packed-rods, reels and other assorted equipment-I still need to get clothing, rain gear, safety equipment and food into the mix.
   Take clothes. I'm forever taking way too much. Sometimes I think that's why airlines have begun charging for luggage. It's due to guys like me that take everything on a two-day trip including that proverbial kitchen sink.
  This time of the year I take clothes for warm weather. Shorts, T-shirts, sandals and water shoes. But what happens if the weather gets cold up north off Sleeping Bear sandunes?
   So I add long pants, heavy socks, a vest, Polar-Tec, a couple of caps, boots, gloves, and while I'm at it, a lightweight jacket.
   It could rain so I'll need rain fishing stuff. Should I take my Frogg-Toggs, light rainsuits, or the heavier gortex for wind, cold and rain?
   How many T-shirts. Will I be going any place that might require slacks and a button down shirt? How much underwear and socks will be enough?
   Will the light sleeping bag be enough or because seasons are beginning to change should it be some of the heavier stuff?
   And so it goes. If there is a solution I don't know what it is. I try packing the very minimum then find I left things out I needed.
   If you have a suggestion send it along. In the meantime, hand me another suitcase and while you're at it, that small duffel bag. Just in case I may as well throw in....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Early Packing not a plus for me

   I'm known as a list maker. Make em' for all kinds of things. Give them titles then stick them in my calendar, lay them on my desk or workbench and forget about them until I get the energy to look at them. By that time they don't make any sense.
   I've tried to keep a packing list on my computer for trips. That way I just have to look at it, pack what's there and I'm all set. The trouble is, I don't follow the list. There is always some variation for whatever reason, then like an out-of-control-train, I'm off the tracks and headed in another direction.
  The outcome of that is I wind up taking more of everything but leaving essential items at home. For instance, the last trip found me in Roscommon without a cord to charge my laptop. Try finding a cord up north in a small town for a computer.
   Luckily I found a computer repair shop that had as second-hand cord that was quite reasonable to purchase.
   My reason for mentioning any of this is preparation for my upcoming fall salmon kayak fishing trip on Lake Michigan.
   First, I need to get the boat set up. I've ordered some new features for it that are slowly arriving. Once everything is here, I'll set it up. But that isn't the final step. On the water, that set up might change.
   Next is tackle. What to take for salmon, which rods, plugs, line, leader material and planer boards. I haven't gotten to my marine radio and other safety items yet.
   Then there is the tackle for other use in the event we get blown off the big lake. What to take for rivers and inland lakes?
   Clothing is another part that takes room. What to take and what to do without? And finally, what food to bring for sharing with other hungry anglers?
   I'll add to this blog later this week. But I have found that by packing early I always second guess myself wondering if I put this or that in. Then I have to unpack to be sure it's there.
   Guess it's still a bit of a last minute thing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Missing dominant arm a pain in lots of ways

Never has anyone looked forward to physical therapy as I have. I begin tomorrow at Accelerated Physical Therapy in Clarkston. Here's hoping they are at least as accelerated as the name seems to imply.
   Being right-handed, I'm definitely missing the full use of that hand and arm for so many things we take for granted.
   Daily activities, some very personal, are almost impossible to accomplish and using the left hand just makes things worse.
   Remember last week I commented that I would have to learn to fish differently in order to land one of those hog salmon on Lake Michigan, mid-September from my kayak.
  Several members and followers of Kayak Fish the Great will be in attendance. No doubt there will be a couple of skeptics who will show up just to see what this is all about.
   It won't take them long to catch on and get into the flow of things, trying to get one of those heavy fish to hit a bait being pulled through the water at a perfect speed using paddle power only.
   That's where I may have another problem. In the propulsion or paddling department. I can get help loading and unloading the boat but handling fish and paddling is all on me.
   That's why I'm excited to be starting PT. I just hope that excitement carries over to my therapist when she lays out the treatment plan.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Learning to fish all over

   The medical folks say I have a pinched nerve that is causing pain and numbness from my right shoulder, down through the arm and into my hand.
   So far, it's left me with a big loss of strength in the right hand, numbness in the hand and a couple of fingers and not much grip.
   I found myself in the emergency room at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital last night. Not being able to get any relief in any position I have tried, sleep has been difficult, and normal activities have ceased.
   Meds and a prescription to begin physical therapy are on the front burner. I hope they all do their respective jobs by mid September.
    That's when a bunch of us get together to kayak fish for salmon in Lake Michigan. The first time I heard about this kind of fishing from a yak I was hooked!
   Two years ago I went on my first trip and never had a bump. Boats all around me were continually hooking up but nothing was coming my way.
   I'm thinking I wasn't down deep enough to attract or catch them. That all should change this year with a variety of stuff to try.
   Yes, I'll use the crankbaits that go deep but will add some spoons with a weight system from Off Shore Tackle a little ahead of the lure.
   Learning to fish all over? If I do get something on the line I'm going to have to learn to fight it left handed while trying to reel right handed.
   I still haven't figured out paddling. Guess I will give that a dry run so to speak in a couple of weeks. Look out salmon! Dutch is coming.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keeping mosquitoes away; always a challenge

   My son-in-law Jeff Minns is a mosquito magnet. He's fair complected and from England. I don't know if being a Brit has anything to do with it or not but if there is one mosquito in Oakland County and Jeff is visiting, he'll get bitten.
   This year when he visited with my daughter and their new little boy, Ewan, I had him try a new product called TermaCELL.
   The unit resembles a TV remote, making it compact and easy to handle. After inserting a butane cartridge and repellent disc, switch it on and the heating element starts up.
   In a few minutes it begins activation which means protection for you. The repellent, once heated, rises into the air to drive off mosquitoes.  Ten minutes later the mosquito-free-zone is established
   ThermaCELL is available as a lantern or all-purpose swivel light. There is no open flame, messy oil or lotion, and the portability makes this a must-have for camping, fishing, hunting, or just sitting in he backyard.
   Lasting 3-4 hours, the ThermaCELL also wards off black flies, and noseeums. For the most effective use, place it on the ground. That  way the repellent spreads over a larger area.
   For more information visit Jeff commented that " The ergonomics are good, the design is simple and the units are very easy to use. They are lightweight, compact and perfect for travelling/camping/hunting, etc."

  As far as effectiveness Jeff says, "I do however, genuinely feel they worked and allowed me to keep my British "blue" blood for myself.
   "In a nutshell, I would purchase these products and also recommend them to other people. Please tell the manufacturers that they saved me from a lot of itchy lumpiness and I am gratefull."
   Anything that keeps mosquitoes away we all would be grateful for. Check out the ThermaCELL products at KD Outdoors, Gander Mountain, Wal-Mart and other establishments where outdoor products are sold.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rela\x, there is still plenty of summer left

   There is still lots of time to get to your favorite campground, hike a new trail or try a new fishing technique. (Like that wacky style I mentioned a couple weeks back!)
   In between, how is your tackle and hunting organization? Does it need a tune up? Mine certainly does; the organization part anyway.
   Try some peg board and hooks to hang extra plastics or lures. Hang tools that are specific to fishing or hunting up. Hopefully you'll be able to find them.
   I have been working on this on and off since the weather warmed up. It's a matter of trying something then refining it to what will work for you.
   With the annual kayak salmon fishing trip coming up, I want to be ready when the time comes to pack. Instead of guessing where my pfd is I want it in one spot so I can load it along with other gear without a lot of fuss.
   Another idea was to take a large plastic storage bin with a lid to carry most kayak fishing stuff I'll need. It's labeled "Tripper" as in a day tripper.
   It too needs refining, but it's getting close. With fall sports right around the corner, hunting clothing, guns, bows and other related items need to be found and organized in a similar way.
   That brings me to ice fishing gear and sorting all that out. So, the message is there are ways to stay busy, hang out in the garage while the weather is nice and be productive with the time you have now.
   It will pay off in the long run. Happy sorting!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Third annual Anchor Bay Charity Kayak fishing tourney set for 8-6 and 8-7

   A kayak fishing tournament to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-day walk for the cure is set for Aug. 6 and 7.
   Tournament headquarters is Great Lakes Decks and Docks, 7427 M-29, Algonac, (800) 292-DOCK.
A CPR format (catch, photograph, release) prizes will be awarded in various categories such as longest fish. Raffles for prizes as well as a final day raffle for a new kayak are part of the program to help raise funds for this import and worthy cause.
   Ticket holders for the kayak need not be present to win. Entry fee is $25 or $30 the day of the event. For more information and to register, visit
   This is a great chance to get out and have fun while helping out a worthwhile cause. Newbies to kayak fishing will have fun meeting others with like-minded interests.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Feral swine-by any name they are a menace

Wild boars, feral swine, wild hogs. Whatever you choose to call them, these critters are rapidly becoming a menace and are on the "shoot" list.
   Hunters don't need to book a trip for a boar hunting trip someplace down south. We've got em' right here, sometimes in our backyards.
   Originally brought here years ago as a food source, some have escaped becoming wild. Others were imported to be hunted in private preserves.
   When it comes to breeding these animals are on a par with rabbits, breeding several times a year and producing large litters form 4-12 piglets.
   Damage to farm crops is costly. So is damage to wildlife in the form of less food to ear. Ground nesting birds are fair game for hogs as are fawns.
   The rule is if you are out hunting and see a wild hog, take it. Just notify the DNR and Department of Agriculture so they can get blood samples. Good board hunting!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Politicians slow to respond to Asain carp problem

   For some reason elected officials in Washington take their time when it comes to taking action on potentially devastating invasive species like the Asian carp.
   Some say these fish are poised to enter the Great Lakes from the Chicago barge canal while others say they have already arrived.
   Whether they are here or not remains to be decided. What is a sure bet is the devastation these fish will cause once they are established.
   The impact here in Michigan will be economically huge. That's because these fish devour anything they come across leaving no food for game fish.
   Scientists, ecologists and DNR experts all agree that these fish are indeed unwanted and need to be curtailed before they reach any of the Great Lakes.
   What remains a mystery is why it takes Washington so long to act.

Friday, July 29, 2011

When it finally rains its serious

   Suffering through sweltering heat the past couple of weeks we thought a good soaking rain was all that was needed to round out the summer season, help the flowers and veggies grow, keep the lawn green, cool us off, and keep those lake levels, well somewhat level.
   Turns out we got rain all right. Enough that serious flooding was experienced in the Tri-County area. Several small ponds in northern Oakland County were just about devoid of water.
   The rains, no matter how much were a good thing in those cases. Wet weather was no doubt welcomed by many in the wildlife world.
   But us humans had a different take. Stalled vehicles, absolutely flooded roads, flooded basements and various closings like golf courses and other outside recreation had to be cancelled.
   Another downside to these kinds of storms is the high humidity that always follows along with a fresh batch of eager-to-bite mosquitoes.
   Big enough to put saddles on, these biters are out during the day spoiling any idea of fun in the backyard. But rain, like sun, is a necessary part of the weather.
   We are glad to get it. Just not all at once and in the amounts we have experienced over the past couple of days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kicking the can another popular saying

   These days everyone is kicking the can someplace. Do you ever notice how people, especially politicians will key in on a phrase that is popular for a year or so?
   From the president on down,l politicians seem to know a lot of people when they address crowds. Notice when they walk out they begin to point one way or another, smiling, as if in a way personalizing their appearance.  
News anchors for the past several years, have felt a need to ask the reporter in the street a follow up question to almost any story being reported. It seems as if the reporter neglected to get the full story.
   Anchors are then seen as all-knowing, being able to pull those important questions out of a hat to be asked as a follow up. Bet the reporter feels slighted in many of these instances.
   Another trend is to infer that this or that news station is the only one covering a particular story. "Only on" (name your channel), or so-and-so spoke to only (name your channel).
   All of these examples including the well worn "Breaking News" admonition seen almost every news cast, are a way of drawing us in and keeping us watching.
   Teases, those stories we are interested in, leave us with the story lead, but the meat or interesting bits are left until after the commercial break.
   These are all examples of keeping out attention and hopefully preventing us from switching stations. Another way to market news and other information in the age of technology.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Still summer but fall sports are heating up

   With a new Richard P. Smith book waiting to be reviewed along comes word and an invite for the annual Glen Arbor Salmon Slam.
   Nothing new about chasing salmon says you. Try it from a kayak, says I. It's fun, exciting, and a great time to hook up with old friends as well as meet new ones, pardon any pun.
   Many of the folks that frequent Kayak Fish The Great Lakes ( make up the anglers chasing these wonderful gamefish.
   My first trip was about three years ago. I got skunked but still had fun. Meeting people and talking fishing is great sport and very enjoyable for me.
   Any time kayak anglers get together there is always equipment to compare or learn about, new how to stuff someone has tried and techniques are finalized.
   Because kayaks are so portable, if weather on Lake Michigan prohibits kayaks, there are many nearby lakes to try. Kayaks load easily and can be transported to the next adventure in no time.
   I don't suggest you go out and buy a kayak then head for Lake Michigan. This is definitely the time you need to be with an experienced buddy and remember to heed the weather conditions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kids and fishing

   A friend asked the other day what was a good way for young children fishing experience. "You're an expert and know everything about fishing," he said.
   "What kind of fish can they catch; probably perch, lake trout or walleye," he asked? First, I'm for from being an expert.
   I like to fish in just about any manner but don't even begin to think I am an expert. I don't do enough of it often enough to be any good.
   Good friends often become exasperated with me when I can't put them on fish. "You know how all of this electronics works. What should we be looking for," they might ask.
   Truth is, in a boat, I'm always at the back, away from sonars or the general operation of a boat. Therefore, I'm a passenger until the captain says "we're here. Lets start fishing."
   My best advice for youngsters is to keep it simple. A hook, bobber and a live worm work best form the dock.
   Kids love to see the bobber dancing around and young, small bluegills will give them that. Don't make the sessions too long, and remember it's about them. So don't fish. Be there to help when needed.
   You'll have as much fun as they do. Remember to bring a camera along for that first fish, or reaction of a youngster when they see a worm, help bait a hook or handle that slimy, wiggling fish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Names of fishing techniques-where do they come from

   Anyone that has been around fishing is accustomed to the names given baits and presentations. But for the newcomer, the language must be confusing.
   First you conquer the style of baits indicated by their names. Lipless crankbaits, rattle traps, crankbaits, including square bills and others, spinner and buzzbaits, jigs of many names and styles (football, round head, mushroom, etc.), topwaters, spitters, spoons, and so forth.
   Then come fishing techniques with names specific as to the way a particular bait is being fished. Wacky style comes to mind right away because we have been fishing that way lately.
   But there is the drop shot, Texas style, and Carolina. They all have a purpose and are used with specific lures and baits at certain times during the fishing season.
   To avoid any and all confusion, I take a little of everything to cover all of the aforementioned styles, usually trying them all at one time or another during an outing.
   The wise angler will know what part of the season we are in then take tackle to kind of match the hatch along with a little extra for that just in case situation that invariably comes up.
   Whether you fish wacky style or with a Carolina rig you have to wonder who comes up with these names and why.
   In any event just past a spinner or is that a nightcrawler harness?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot weather looks good in months with "R" in them

   In a few months we'll be wishing we had some of this hot weather. Well maybe not quite this hot, but on the warm side of 32-degrees.
   For now, if you can't stand the heat, take a dip. That's right, head for a local lake and spend some time in your favorite chair with a good book.
   Should you work a sweat up even in those conditions, you'll be handy to the water for a quick soak then back to the book.
   We often go to Holly Rec Area and one of the beaches in the park. Sometimes we take a little supper to cook out.
   More often than not, we would rather sit and enjoy the sights and sounds along with an occassional dip in the lake.
   When it's this hot the experts warm us to do work either early in the day or late. And remember to keep those fuides up by drinking plenty of water.
   Stay safe and try to stay cool.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spend quality outdoors time in your backyard

   Come on along and hang out in your backyard. It's a great place to watch and listen to all that goes on there.
   You probably are used to hearing the lawnmower, weed whacker, tiller and other yard sounds. But mixed in there are plenty of others.
   Some come from the feathered kind or birds while others come from some of the furry animals including dogs, cats, even raccoons and deer.
   Your job is simply to be quiet. Sit and listen while reading a good book. A good read will calm your nerves and force you to sit still and quietly.
   Get in the habit of carefully looking up and around every so often. You'll be amazed at what flies in or walks across your lawn.
   Better still, install a bird feeder, add some "oiler" sunflower seeds and you'll begin attracting all sorts of birds.
   This Sunday's column has to do with "staycations," or vacations that are spent at home for a variety of reasons.
   In between knocking out that work list, sit for a moment or two and observe all that you have right around you at home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tour excites cycling in many

   Every year I look forward to watching the Tour de France. Even though I'm not sure with what it means when there is 2.5 minutes difference between the leaders and the peloton, the main group of riders, I'm still a follower.
   Heck, I would be in trouble just trying to pronounce some of the names, not to mention understanding just how this thing all works.
   For instance, apparently one rider per team seems to designated the winner whether he wins during the various stages or not.
   Other riders might win, but when it's all said and done, they won't make the podium in Paris. It will be the winner designee.
   A group of riders in a team always "come back" to help the favorite in the event he has a fall or mechanical trouble.
   What do they do when they come back? Offer moral support or what? Why can't riders continue to ride at breakneck speed without upsetting the peloton? (Announcers say they peloton keeps them in check or the peloton is slow to respond. So what!)
   Is it bad to be riding in the peloton? How do riders in the peloton get away just at the last minute to cross the finish line ahead of the rest of the pack? Why are riders allowed to draft behind team cars?
  Ah, the questions. By the way, what are those bars of food riders eat while racing. Whether you completely understand what is going on or not, it's still fun to watch and marvel at the tremendous physical conditioning of the athletes involved.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Camping and evening programs entertaining and informative

   If you decide to give camping a try be sure and find out if the park you plan to stay at offers evening programs.
   Some park rangers will speak and present a slide show or video of the park, surrounding  area, wildlife, plants, trees, trails, and a number of other topics.
  These are equally entertaining as well as informative. Besides learning about animals in the area you may be shown what tracks they make, where they make their homes, and when and where you might expect to see them during your visit.
   Programs such as these are usually free and often provide the ending to a perfect day in the outdoors. They also provide great topics for conversations and wonderful activities for the family to pursue.
   For instance, on your next hike you might look for a certain animal, tree or bird that was talked about during the previous evenings program.
   Be sure and take advantage of any or all of these programs when they are offered. There is always something new to learn.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Camping can mean outdoors on the cheap

   Think about it. No motel or hotel or meal costs. You bring your own accommodations and food. If you figure you have to eat wherever you're at, then bringing food from home to prepare over a gas stove or campfire.
   If this is all new to you, that is the idea of sleeping outdoors, instead of buying equipment only to find this activity isn't for you or the family, you can rent almost everything you'll need from the state park at Holly Recreation Area.
  In fact, they put first time campers next to campground hosts who are available to help set camp up and answer any questions.
      Known as the First Time Campers program, this event is available in 18 parks around the state. For information go to
   For $20, first timers will be provided a four-person tent, tarp, camp chairs, camp stove and propane, hotdog sticks, flashlight and fishing poles. The equipment is supplied by Gander Mountain.
 You'll need food, cooler, personal items and sleeping bags. For information or to register at Holly Recreation Area call (248) 634-8811.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mosquitoe population predictions way off base

   It's doubtful anyone would support any sort of increase in the mosquito population. Several years ago regarding a story about repellents a so-called authority said that annual infestations were due largely to the previous winters weather.
   Just like weather forecasts being iffy, so are speculations about how large Michigan's Air Force, as some refer to mosquito arrivals, don't seem to hold a lot of accuracy.
   Take last winter for example. It was cold and remained so for a lengthy period of time. Experts claim that the cold kills any eggs or larvae left over.
   They probably would argue that all the snow we had provided an insulating barrier thereby allowing bugs to remain dormant only to come to life once weather arrived.
   If winter's are unseasonably warm with little snow, then it's been too warm to harm dormant bugs. See, you can't win.
   It's either too warm or too cold, too wet or not wet enough, too much snow or too little. And so it goes. For once it would be nice to hear scientists admit they don't know what causes large populations of mosquitoes and that they have no idea as to how to predict what will happen for the upcoming year.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th here already

   It seems not too long ago we were shivering in the cold weather. Now July 4th is here. The year seems to really have gone by quickly.
   Many people figure summer is about half over. Fall is right around the corner with winter close behind. I think that comes from the weather we had earlier when spring should have been on everyones mind.
   What spring?We didn't have much of one. Perhaps a couple nice days then the rest were cold and rainy. And that was just after coming off a long, cold winter.
   But time is a flying. Better make hay while the sun shines as the saying goes. For me, that means trying to get as much time on the water either fishing or paddling my kayak.
   That's in between the baseball games I go to when my grandson Josh's teams are playing. Lately, they seem to be scheduled every other day.
   Once baseball is done comes basketball, wrestling and track. Throughout the winter several baseball camps are scheduled along with travel baseball practice.
   Somewhere in the mix I need to do some deer scouting along with planning where I'll hunt. A large family reunion is set for early this fall which won't interfere with any of the hunting seasons for a change.
   Don't let the nice weather pass you by. Get out and experience that favorite activity you dream about when the snow flies.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 4th plans, try these

   Camping and cookouts in the backyard seem to be a ritual for many families for the July 4th weekend. Both can be done right in your own backyard. That's right, set up your camp, plan on having your meals outside either on the grill or over a small campfire-check local regulations first-have a night campfire complet3e wtih Smores, then hit the sack in your tent.
   Otherwise, try to find a campground with space on this weekend that usually finds state parks filled to capacity. For more information on Michigan's campgrounds visit or
   Proud Lake Recreation Area Red White and Blue Weekend in Commerce Township will be held this weekend, July 1-3 in honor of Independence Day.
  The event will include campsite decorating, yard games and a bike parade for kids of registered campers. For details, call the park, 248-685-2433.
   Have a safe and happy 4th!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stranger at the feeder

   "I saw a strange bird at the feeder today," my wife said. She described it as quite large, with black, white and red coloring.
   My guess was some variety of woodpecker. However, this stranger hung on the sunflower feeders eating seeds and didn't seem to be interested in any pecking on the suet feeder the way woodpeckers do.
   A check of the bird book identified this new arrival as a male,Rose-breasted grosbeak. He is black and white with a rose colored triangle on his breast.
   These birds will come to sunflower feeders. They like to forage in trees for insects, seeds and fruits. They prefer small trees and shrubs along parks and gardens to set up home.
   At inches tall and a wingspan of 12 and a half inches they are a fairly sizable bird. Females are dark brown with white underparts, streaked similar to a sparrow.
   If you are feeding birds, keep a sharp eye out. You never know what new bird might show up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

   "Fishing should be a sporting activity and not a contest to see who can catch the most fish in the allotted time with larger penalties for dead fish. The law states "so many #of fish in your possession", not how many in your live well or stringer. Soon some species will go the way of the Buffalo. "
   That was a comment received relating to Friday's Blog about the possibility of re-stocking Grayling in a lake.
   Grayling, at one time were abundant. So much so that apparently anglers took them in a "wholesale manner." That is to say they caught them, then threw many up on the river bank where they eventually died.
   Yes, fish could go the way of the buffalo if anglers are left to police themselves. I think the majority of us are responsible, conscientious sports people.
   But like anything else, it's the few in the crowd that spoil it for the rest. You have to ask yourself, who in the world can use a freezer full of fish fillets?
   The same is true with several deer all cut up and processed. When is enough, enough? We complain about rules and regulations; laws that are put in place.
   Some feel laws are enacted just to take away our fun especially in the pursuit of outdoor activities. But without some sort of controls, we would be remembering fish from photos and stories told to us by others that were fortunate to experience fishing when there was something to catch.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Grayling returning-stay tuned

   A couple of recent reports about stocking the extinct Grayling, once found in abundance around the northern city named for this fish have recently been received.
   Present information seems to indicate a lone individual is introducing the Grayling into a lake. We'll follow up and see what the story is about.
   It's too bad that this once abundant gamefish has gone the way of other species. In this case it apparently was fished out.
   Reports of river boats overloaded with hundreds of fish are told. There have also been reports of large catches being summarily thrown away. Such a waste.
   We have nearly experienced that in more modern times with various species of trout, walleye, bass and other fish species.
   For some reason, man, by his very nature is a greedy soul, never really happy with what he has. One or two of anything is never enough.
   Deer are one example. One in the freezer isn't enough. Some need to stack several deer carcass' in there like cord wood.
   Walleye is another example. The legal limit is five in possession. For some reason anglers and even charter boat operators find it acceptable to take a limit into the shore, leave it, then return for another limit.
   If everyone that fishes walleye did that how long would the species last? We may find restrictions coming down the way along the lines of bass and trout.
  Fishing with artificial bait only, catch and release-well you get the picture. Stay tuned for the Grayling story.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MonsterQuest to benefit Robert. D. Matchan Nutrition Center feeding 30,000-year

   MonsterQuest IV Bass tournament is back and more Monstrous than ever!!!
This is a team event, $150.00 entry fee includes Big Bass Pot. Sign-up starts at 5am at the ramp. You may pre-register at KD Outdoors and get early boat position.
   Our generous sponsors have donated a lot of great prizes for this event, and we will also be raising money for the Robert D. Matchan Nutrition Center in Oakland County, a St. Vincent DePaul organization.
   This Center feeds over 30,000 people a year in our local area. Bring 2 cans of non-perishable food items and receive a Raffle Ticket for a Prize Package valued at over $500.00 Launch at Harley-Ensign on Lake St. Clair.
   As usual, we will have coffee and doughnuts in the morning, and a gourmet Monster Buffet at weigh-in.
   Contact Ken at KD Outdoors, 248-666-7799 or Terry Melvin from LunchMoney Lures at 248-240-5245 for more info.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MUCC Charity shoot for kids a smooth event

   Last Friday I was invited to attend the 19th annual Lt. Governor's charity shoot to benefit kids programs on behalf of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, "Get Kid's in the Outdoors," held at Grand Blanc Huntsman's Club.
   Shooters tried their skills at shooting clay targets along the walking course that covered 10 sstations. From the arrival and registration, ammunition selection , lunch catered by Country Smokehouse in Imlay City, then on to the safety meeting and then the actual shooting, this event ran smooth.
   Shooters comprised one of three groups going off at different times. Each group listened to rules of the course, safety instructions and a short presentation from MUCC officials before heading off.
   I was with old friend and sometime hunting pal Tom Huggler. Also with us was Bill Parker and Tom Watts. We all know each other but rarely get out to enjoy an experience like this together.
   Huggler, who has affectionately been called "the General" by hunting companions for his days of hard hunting, led our group in points.
   "That's the best I've shot in a long time," he said. He carded 44 out of 50. Using a borrowed shotgun and not expecting much, I managed a respectable 34 out of 50. I'll take it and run any day. My shooting has never been very good and since I haven't mounted a long gun in sometime, I was surprised at how well I was able to do.
   Sporting clays is another great sport we can enjoy in the outdoors and not hurt a hair or feather on any animal if that is your goal.
   Check it out at a range or ask for advice at a good gun shop. Like they say, "It's like golf with a shotgun."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hunters happy with past deer season according to survey

   Although 6 percent fewer whitetails were taken in 2010 than in 2009, according to the DNR's annual mail survey, hunters said they found the season more enjoyable than the previous year.  
   An estimated 656,500 hunters spent 9.6 million days afield, taking nearly 418,000 deer. Overall, 44 percent of hunters harvested at least one deer.
   The survey was sent to more than 50,000 deer-license buyers and showed a 4 percent decrease from 2009 in the number of individuals buying deer licenses in 2010 and a 4 percent decrease in the number of licenses sold.
   Hunters killed 1 percent fewer antlered bucks and 10 percent fewer antlerless deer than in 2009. However, hunters reported increased satisfaction with the season in terms of number of deer seen, deer harvested and overall hunting experience.
   Granted, this is a sampling of licensed hunters but it speaks more positively about Michigan's deer herd and the opportunities hunters have enjoyed.
   But deer seasons are subject to many factors. And one hunters idea of a great season may not compare with another who didn't see any horns or even a doe.
   Still, it's nice to get some positive information once in awhile about our natural resources.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Warm weather makes you want to be outdoors

   There's so much to do in the outdoors this time of year that it's really difficult to pick and choose. Unlike the winter where activities are somewhat limited due to weather conditions, this time of the year, the plate is quite full.
   Lessons are one way to improve your abilities while at the same time being outdoors. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, golf, and a host of others await you and the choice you make.
   Fishing is a sport this time of the year that can be done about anyplace that has accessible water. A boat isn't required.
   Take a comfortable lawn chair, find a spot on the bank of a pond, lake or river and give it a try. In some cases you are better off fishing from shore because feeding fish are headed to shallow water to feed.
   Take a hike. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails close by. This time of year lends itself for those activities.
   Whatever you choose, learning a new skill or getting out to put into practice one you already know, the important thing is to spend some time outdoors.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saginaw Bay Walleyes a slow bite

   The weather experts predicted Monday on Saginaw Bay waves would be running from 1-2 feet, winds NNE, 10-15, and air temperatures starting out around 60 degrees then later in the afternoon, 74.
   Next time you hear a weather forecast, figure on the exact opposite so you won't be in for any surprises. Fishing with Duncan Wooster, a Walleye-101 staffer and all around nice guy, my son-in-law Jeff and I were ready to see what the "bay" had in store for us.
   Good thing we packed accordingly; long sleeved shirts, heavy hoodies, and lightweight winter jackets along with rain gear.
   All but the rain gear came in for use. Most of the day we were bundled up with hoodies and jackets. By Early afternoon we were able to shed some of the outer layers when the sun finally warmed things up.
   Those 1-2 footers turned into steady 3, 4, and even 5 footers. We took the weather straight on the nose after launching at Quanicassee. Later, the bay calmed down to those 1-2 footers.
   Despite the rough seas, Jeff was able to boat two respectable walleyes, and one good-size catfish. "I wish we could have caught more fish," Duncan said. "But it was a good trip. You learned how we do it here. Next year when you come over we'll try it again," he told Jeff who will leave tomorrow to fly back to his home in England.
   All in all, it was a good day on the water shared by good friends. Add a couple of fish to the mix and some great learning experiences, and it was a fine day despite the meteorologists predictions. (Jeff Minns with his first ever walleye. Duncan Wooster looks on.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reaching too far, recipe for disaster

   That's the way it goes when kayak fishing. My son-in-law, Jeff,  is visiting here from England  and was fishing from a kayak, his first ever yak fishing experience.
  I had given him some basic instruction, stayed close by for a bit, but when he looked as if he could handle himself, I moved off to fish.
   Sometime later he hooked into a nice bass. The fish had taken the hook quite deep. Jeff, my son-in-law, was trying to get the hook out of the fish and had leaned way over the side of the kayak.
   The next thing he knew, he, along with the rod and reel went into the lake. Of course all the gear went straight to the bottom.
   Not the worse for wear, Jeff got back into the boat, and as the British say, sorted himself out. About that time I found him and learned of his experience.
   Rods and reels can be replaced. We had taken the time prior to launch to get into good PFD's, something I always wear on the water, especially in my kayak.
   Today the one Jeff was wearing proved to be one of the most helpful pieces of gear we had along on the trip.
   As a former high school teacher was fond of saying: "A word to the wise should be sufficient." Be safe on and around the water.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Downtown Clarkston to host River Day June 11

   Main and Washington Streets is the location for kayak demos and registration area to buy a raffle ticket for the chance to win a kayak provided by Bass Pro shops.
   The raffle takes place during River Day celebration. Garden art and sculptures will be available for viewing and to bid on during a silent auction at Depot Park from 10a.m.-1pm.
   All proceeds go to public education about the use of wild plants in landscapes and and shoreline restoration.
   Raffles are sponsored by the Wild Ones-North Oakland County Chapter. For more information visit
   A naturalist led walking tour to identify native and invasive species, face painting for children, book signings by several authors and a rain garden/children's garden planting at Depot Park all go toward making this a great family day.
   Kayak and fishing demos will take place at the Mill Pond. The event is from 10a.m.-2p.m., Saturday, June 11.