Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Get to a range for firearm sight in before Nov. 15

   Without ever having seen a survey or any official word, I'll bet the majority of deer hunters don't take advantage of shooting ranges prior to hitting the woods for the annual firearms deer opener, November 15.
   No doubt most hunters come out of the woods after deer hunting, maybe wipe the exterior of the gun off, unload it and put it in it's case. Then it's put in a gun safe of other place personal firearms are stored until the season rolls around again.
   If that describes your deer hunting program you've got time yet before this year's opener to get to a range, go over your firearm, and run a few rounds through it.
   This helps you get familiar with you gun, and most importantly, allows you to shoot it in an area designed to be a safe place to shoot. Besides, you'll be able to find out soon if you can actually hit what you are shooting at.
   A minor sight adjustment, perhaps the addition of a recoil pad on the stock or some other inexpensive fix will make all the difference in your shooting.
   Besides, it will force you to run some patches down the barrel, inspect the interior and exterior for sings of rust and maybe determine if you really need the addition of a scope or not.
   For more information on shooting contact the Oakland County Sportsmen's Club at (248) 623-0444 or read my column this Sunday in the Oakland Press.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Traditions abound in small German village

AFFALTERBACH, GERMANY-In this small farm community near Marbach and Stuttgart, church bells ring at noon and 6p.m., as a long-standing tradition to call farmers in from the fields.
   During the day the narrow streets are the freeways for large farm trackers pulling trailers; some empty and some containing crops grown locally.
   Sugar beets-feed for livestock-is being hauled, along with all varieties of apples, pumpkins and squash.
   Fields have been tilled smooth or are growing a popular local crop, rapeseed. Now about four feet high with yellow flowers, it serves as ground cover, and later, livestock feed.
   This time of year, grapes are being harvested from steep -sloped vineyards. most headed for a local winery to be turned into one of many different types of wines this area is known for.
   Evidence of farming begins the moment one leaves the village. Plowed fields, rolling land and large stands of forest surround orchards and vineyards. Occasionally, a farm house and associated building can be seen off in the distance.
   During a drive, you expect to see deer off in the distance or, like back home in southeast Michigan, crossing the road in front of you.
   I've seen deer behave that way toward evening on a drive through thick woods several miles from here.
   While we are inside on a cold, snowy day watching a one-day delayed Tiger World Series game, Sunday dinners are prepared and eaten as they are at home.
   Life is quiet like the traffic on the street. Stores normally close at noon Saturday to re-open Monday. Bakeries are open a few hours Sunday mornings then close for the day.
   Life is tranquil, peaceful and serene on a day like this.  It seems to make lounging around preferable to being in the woods or field. There is always tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2012

EHD numbers on the rise

   The DNR's recently report that 29 counties have had deer discovered with EHD, a virus that affects deer herds.
   Carried by a tiny insect similar in size to the no-seeums, the insect is active until the first hard frost which kills it.
   Signs of infected deer include being unafraid of humans, and being found dead either in or near water.
   This disease is more prevalent in the southern and western states. Besides Michigan, the states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin are reporting an increased number of dead deer due to EHD.
   Officials feel the mild winter last year along with a warm summer have had an impact allowing the disease-carrying bugs to survive and become more prevalent this year.
   Hunters in the field will probably encounter more deer with the disease so numbers could increase before stabilizing.
   If you find a dead deer, notify the DNR at any of it's field officers. For more information read this Sunday's column in the Oakland Press sports section.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vets to receive no-fee use of Rec sites Nov. 10-12

   I like that organizations-local and federal-recognize veterans and their service. I always feel a bit shy about saying I'm a veteran even though I served nearly four years in the Navy.
   The reason I think has to do with missing duty during times our country was in conflict. Discharged in September of 1963, I just missed the ramp up for the Viet Nam War.
   However, the ship I was on, the U.S.S. Topeka (CLG-8) saw duty in the Viet Nam theater. In fact she played a role in what was to become known as the Bay of Tonkin incident.
   According to personnel that were aboard, Topeka was steaming south in the Bay when a message was received to turn around, head north and begin shore bombardment to protect and give covering fire to U.S. Marines ashore.
   This was accomplished according to those who told me the story. Topeka was one of the first guided missile cruisers having been converted for a WWII light cruiser.
   I was interested about finding out it they had fired any of the surface-to-air missiles they carried to bring down any enemy aircraft. Apparently they didn't have an opportunity.
   In recognition of veterans and their service, this veterans day weekend; Nov. 10-12, the U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites.
   “This is our way of saying thanks to the brave men and women – past and present – who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe at home,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
   “We encourage veterans, their families and all visitors to take time out over the holiday weekend to enjoy the benefits that nature provides at forests and grasslands throughout the country.”
   The Forest Service operates approximately 17,000 developed recreation sites nationwide.  Of those, approximately 6,000 require recreation fees, which are used to provide visitor services, repairs and replacements, and facilities maintenance.
   Way to go U.S. Forest Service.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Free hunt-fish licenses for disabled vets, effective March, 2013

   The DNR will issue free hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans beginning March, 2013. This law will allow a disabled veteran to obtain any resident hunting or fishing license for which a lottery is not required, free of charge. The veteran will be required to provide proof of eligibility and carry this proof when using any license obtained under this legislation.
   The law defines “disabled veteran” as a resident who either:
has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service and entitled to veterans’ benefits at the 100-percent rate, for a disability other than blindness; or is rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as individually unemployable.
   The part about vets having to be 100% disabled to qualify for the free licenses prompted reader, Dennis Rahn to comment:
   "It says they have to be 100% disabled or unemployable because of their disability.  So if they only lost one leg out of four limbs that is only 25% of a loss and they get no free license.
   If they can only lick stamps they are employable and they again get no free licenses.  This is total BS......In my book if the Vet was wounded they should get the free licenses just because they served.    
   The parasites that walk around with pants dragging on the ground and tattoos on their faces never will serve their country and it is they that should pay double the price of the license if they buy a license at all....Most would rather poach since the DNR doesn't make anyone wear their license on a back tag anymore so anyone can tell if they are legal or not.

   Rahn may have a point insofar as the 100% rule of disability goes. It would seem that if a vet is disabled-totally or not-they should be entitled to any and all benefits that come their way due to their sacrifices during service to the country.
   “Providing free licenses for disabled veterans is just a small token of our deep gratitude for their sacrifice for all of us,” said Denise Gruben, manager of licensing and reservations for the DNR.
   “We want veterans to be full participants in outdoor sports. We’re pleased to make these licenses available to qualifying veterans beginning next March under this new law.”

    For more information about Michigan hunting and fishing licenses, visit

Friday, October 19, 2012

Belle Isle-More than improvements needed readers say

   Today's blog is about improvements and the management of the island park by the sate DNR parks division.
   I still feel it's one of those no brainer decisions that the city should take advantage of, get behind and support any way it can.
   But as long time professional walleye angler Andy Kuffer points out there is more to improving the image of Detroit than a clean Belle Isle.
   He argues that the crime and murder rate are high. "Roger; in one recent 15 day period there were 32 murders and 120 shootings in Detroit. They need to clean up the violence 1st. Nothing will make me want to visit Belle Isle."
   That sentiment is true of a lot of folks. The cleaning up, care and upkeep of Belle Isle is just one part of a image problem the city must overcome if it wants to impress outsiders and make them feel comfortable about participating in what the city has to offer.
   I hear more and more people say they feel comfortable at sporting events and usually make an evening out of a game by enjoying dinner at one of Detroit's eateries.
   But there are still those that don't care to venture into the city preferring to stay put in the suburbs. "This is not just a problem for Detroit either," Kuffer concluded.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

State Parks will improve a suffering Belle Isle

    There's no doubt about it. Belle Isle is in dire straights and definitely can use the help of the State DNR Parks Division for several reasons.
   First on the list would be to get the place cleaned up. Right now you don' want your kids playing in playgrounds where the sand is dirt and includes broken glass, chicken bones and other assorted debris people have thought fit to throw there instead of properly disposing of it.
   While I'm on that subject, often the answer to proper trash disposal centers around overflowing trash bins. I that's the case then take your trash out with you to be disposed of when you arrive home.
   Next, is the water around the island. It too is loaded with broken shards of glass, tin cans, beer bottles and all the rest. It too needs a good going over before any tiny toes are immersed in the water.
   Park equipment; picnic tables, and play equipment will require a closer inspection to be sure they are absolutely safe before the public uses them.
   The buildings are another problem. Many are in a sad shape of disrepair. Restrooms seem to be non-existent. Ones that were operational have been trashed and vandalized.
   The benefits to having a viable, clean park are not only for the safe use of the public but the message it sends to others that things are improving downtown.
   Then there is the financial advantages to having a nice, clean Belle Isle. People from other parts of southeast Michigan will include it on their list of places to recreate.
   That means more people downtown spending dollars on gas, food, lodging and other commodities. This is definitely a win for Detroit and a great opportunity to improve the cities image.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall-Great time to visit Metroparks

   The Huron-Valley Metroparks have something for everyone to do, enjoy or participate in. Bird watchers for one group will find these feathered creatures in the Metroparks either storing up for the upcoming winter months or stopping by on their trip to a warmer wintering area.
   Hiking and biking aren't the only activities practiced on paved paths. Roller bladers also known as in-line skaters take to these paths in ever increasing numbers. Remember, bikers and skaters are required to wear safety gear, especially helmets, per park rules.
   Instead of driving north to view colors, head to the closest Metropark and enjoy a fall color tour. Pack a picnic or something to cook and make a day of it.
   Another way to enjoy these parks is by paddling in and through them or boating. For instances, Heavner Camoe and Kayak rentals in the Proud Lake Area have been providing paddling enthusiast with boats for yeas.
   Paddle from the livery out into the slow-moving Huron River and into Kensington Metropark or make arrangements to be picked up in downtown Milford after a leisurely paddle.
   Even golfers trying to get that last round in will find the Metroparks a good bet for an enjoyable round with beautiful fall colors as a backdrop.
   For more information on Metropark activities visit Enjoy your Metropark visit.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall clean up, bird feeders, all preps for winter

   HUDDERSFIELD, UK-Fenay Bridge is a small area next door to Huddersfield. In the sub or "estate" as they say here where our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren live, people are making preparations for the winter months.
   No doubt, many in southeastern Michigan are doing the same thing. Besides putting the garden to bed, doing he weeding and necessary pruning and trimming, hoses need to be gathered up. Now is a good time to wipe them down before coiling them up, draining then putting them inside for the winter.
   Clean those garden tools of dirt and other debris. Put a coating of oil on shovels, hoes and the like. Locate your bird feeders. If you didn't put them away clean, do it now so birds don't contract any disease.
   Find a mouse free way to store bird seed. We use sunflower oilers all year and store them in a clean, metal garbage can with a good fitting lid.
   We also clean the bird bath out and store it so no moisture accumulates that could freeze and break the bath.
   Some of these things I was able to do before leaving for this trip. But when we return, I'll have a lot left to take care of before I can get in the woods for some hunting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Deer racks-Just wondering who see's the large ones

   So far this year, several deer hunters have contacted the Oakland Press about nice deer with quality-size racks they have taken.
   Three of the individuals were young girls barely in their teens. The deer were mostly 8-points. That's a nice, round number when it comes to counting points on a deer.
   This brings to mind a couple of different stories that left me scratching my head. The first took place near Davisburg on public land.
   A hunter I know pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed his bow and headed into the woods. No prior scouting, no deer sign and no evidence of other hunters in the area.
   In about 45 minutes he arrowed a 6-point that had walked very near to him. As memory serves me, probably about an 18-yard shot.
   "How did you know to hunt that area," I asked him. "I had a feeling and it just looked like a good spot," was the answer.
   Similar circumstances fell to a hunter that was hunting within sight of Grange Hall Road in Groveland, part of the Holly Recreation Area.
   He left his truck parked on the gravel shoulder during the morning hours of the opener, Nov., 15 one year.
   I saw him dragging out a six or eight point; can't remember which. Later conversation revealed that he had just walked to the stump and sat down when the buck presented itself.
   I guess some people are good hunters while the rest are just plan lucky.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bow season-do you wait or get going?

    There are hunters that wait and hunters so excited to get in the woods they are out there October 1. Anyone that has bow hunted probably has their favorite time of the season to be in the woods.
   I always like to go early. That's because of the cool, even cold mornings, then when the sun comes up, those warming afternoons.
   Most of the nuisance bugs are done for the year. And you can watch squirrels, chipmunks and other animals busy storing up food for winter.
   But hunting early has a problem associated with it. Most leaves are still on trees making it difficult to see very far. It's something that I came to accept a long time ago.
   There are those that hunt early but won't take a shot instead waiting for that nice rack  to wander by. That could take nearly the entire season unless prior scouting has alerted them to a buck in the area.
   Those that wait do so because of those pesky leaves. Most will have fallen later in October. There may be more hunters in the woods then which helps keep deer moving around.
   Colder weather may be a factor that makes bucks active by rubbing and making scrapes in preparation for the annual rut.
   Whether you wait or not, bow season is one of the great ones to be outdoors whether you get a shot or not.;postID=5814111020590426996

Friday, October 5, 2012

Richard P. Smith "Walks with Whitetails"

   Richard P. Smith, Marquette, Michigan based award winning outdoor writer and photographer has recently released a new DVD, "Walking with Whitetails."
   The 90-minute video features footage Smith has taken over an eight year period of time in which he gained the trust of a whitetail doe that eventually led to him following and photographing this whitetail and her family.
   Smith, also known as Michigan's big game expert for his work with bears, elk and deer says he learned a lot from this experience.
   You'll learn more about food sources than you thought you knew. Watch does feed fawns and how they interact with other does.
   Antler development and rubs are photographed. Why do some bucks thrash their racks in bushes? Are antlers the same size for every buck raised by the same doe? When do fawns lose their spots and do they ever return to their mothers at a later age?
   You'll watch and listen as Smith narrates while filming many of these behaviors as well as others.
For more information read my column in this Sunday's Oakland Press.
  To purchase "Walking with Whitetails," or any of Smith's books, visit  Facebook

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kids same, country to country

   HUDDERSFIELD, U.K.-Taking our daughter's yellow lab Bonnie for a walk the other day, I passed by a small park near their home.
   Just like kids in the states play baseball, football, or shoot hoops, kids over here line up for a quick game of rugby; in some ways similar to our football, minus any padding.
   Or they hit a park wearing soccer shorts, their team shirts, knee-high socks and soccer shoes. They begin kicking the ball-over here it's called football-at very young ages.
   Think of American kids going around the neighborhood with a baseball bat over the shoulder, their glove hung on the bat, carrying a baseball.
   Here they show up with a soccer ball, either carrying it but most often kicking and rolling it along, with unbelievable control at even a young age.
   And like our little kids will pretend they are Justin Verlander or Miguel Cabrera, here they pretend they are soccer greats like David Beckham or Wayne Rooney, or rugby professional Danny Brough (pronounced Bruff).
   Brough is the captain and kicker for the Huddersfield Giants. Rooney and Beckham both played for Manchester United. Beckham now plays in the U.S. for the L.A. Galaxy.
   Despite the country, athletes in any country are looked up to by youngsters, trying to play the game and maybe hoping one day to make it as a professional.
   In fact, Brough lives near the little park near my daughter's home and sometimes walks by with his young son.
   If kids are playing in the park when he passes they stop and almost reverently say, "There's Danny Brough."
   Being famous as an athlete seems to be looked up to matter where kids gather to play a game. Imagine tossing the baseball around a field in Waterford and have Prince Fielder walk by. Now that would be an attention getter for sure.