Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hats off to hard working Edison linemen

Like many others, we lost power last Saturday. Thanks to a newer, hard-working generator, we were in pretty decent shape. Most everything electrical we needed to run was humming along.
About 26 hours later the power was restored, the generator turned off and the necessary switches flipped to get us back on line.
At a party Monday afternoon we learned one of our good friends was still without power since the ice hit Saturday.
Thinking we were out of the woods so to speak, we offered the use of our generator. A couple of hours later, the generator that had been heating our home was making his comfortable.
Christmas was comfortable, everyone slept well, then it was off to grandma's for the annual family dinner.
In the meantime, at 2a.m. this morning, a pole at the rear of our home caught fire twice, then we heard a loud explosion and you can guess the rest.
The power line from pole to house in our neighbors yard is almost on the ground. Most, if not all of the street is dark.
As I was cleaning the drive I saw a an Edison truck approaching. I waved him down and told him what had happened and the low wire. He said he would take care of making a report then went on to say they couldn't work down the road as trees and limbs were lying on wires.
"We'll" need tree trimmers in here first," he said. "I think we might get this end by this evening," he added.
As he drove off he was followed for five more large Edison trucks. Sometime later with my generator returned and running, a neighbor called to inform us the lights were back on.
Hats off to linemen that have been working 16-plus hours since this all began.
You don't miss the niceties of power until you don't have it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

I hope it will be a good, warm one for all of you that still remain without power. Anytime the power goes out isn't good but especially this time of the year.
Hats off to all the linemen who work all day and well into the night to get things back in order. I don't understand, how in the wind and rain, not to mention trees and limbs hanging over high voltage lines, they are still able to do such a great job.
I've heard from many friends, both outdoor writer people and others that are really trying to make the best of a trying situation.
In times like these, it brings families closer. People gather around fireplaces for warmth, light the Coleman's or clamp on a visor-type flashlight, and try to carry on as best they can.
And because Christmas comes once a year, and this year's seems to be, well particularly special due to the circumstances we find ourselves in, it's important to take a least a moment to remember when the holiday is celebrated.
Many of us go to church once a year-a hold day of obligation-twice if you include Easter. This year especially would pause to give thanks for all we do have and our families that have been able to gather close. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas shopping seems to be picking up

New Christmas shopping procedure. Most stored don't have much staff wandering the isles available for help. Rather clerks are stationed at checkout stations probably with the idea of expediting the paying procedure.
Most drivers seem to be in their typical holiday moods, serious looking, and not anyone in a long line as if it were the finish of a Nascar race.
However, the little that I have been out I've noticed smiling people, more "Merry Christmas's instead of "Happy Holidays," and more concern with helping hold doors open for those in wheel chairs.
You'll be able to read ho difficult it is for a disabled person to get around, especially when trying to enjoying outdoor sports.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Killer's Party

Last week you could hardly get through Keego Harbor or Sylvan Lake for all the traffic. These weren't your ordinary Christmas shoppers but people gathering at The Lodge to remember the late sports writer Tom Kowalski.
I named it Killer's Party because killer was a nickname of his. Tom passed away in August of 2011. He had been involved with some local charity work before his untimely death.
Since then, The Lodge has been headquarters for all of the people that turn out to tip one or two in his memory.
"This year they raised $29,000. Can you believe that," Oakland Press sports writer and good friend of Kowalski's said.
All money raised goes to research ftp Team Joseph for on duchenne's syndrome and the Poor Children's Fund of West Bloomfield.
Duchenne's usually appears in boys with the life expectancy being about 25. For more information visit www.killercares.org. Thanks Tom for the many children you have helped through your charitable work.





Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Earliest ski opener on record

This year's north ski resorts kicked off skiing on November 15, the same date hunters were hitting the woods for the annual firearms deer opener.
Cold temperatures made for ideal snow making conditions. But Mother Nature had the last say when temperatures warmed a week or so later putting a temporary halt to skiing. But that didn't last.
"They're skiing right now," Treetops general manager Barry Owens said. "I've never seen a ski season open this early."
And it's been a busy opener too. Erin Ernst, Boyne communications director agreed. 'We've been really busy just like it's the middle of winter."
Cross Country's number one promoter, Bob Frye, owner of Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon took a break from talking to customers to comment on how well the season has gone so far.
"You worry every year if the weather is going to cooperate," Frye said. "It sure did this year. Frye has the only snowmaking equipment for cross country skiing in the state. He's been making snow on the hills and trails around his business.
Lessons have been on the uptake and sales of new skis and clothing for this next year have been doing well.
For those new to cross country skiing, several family events have been planned offering "Learn to Ski" sessions.
A Winter Trails Day Priority Health family day of skiing is being offered at Cross Country Ski Headquarters.
First time cross country skiers will receive free use of equipment, lessons, trail pass and hot cocoa and hot dog lunch at Trappers Cabin. Call (800)832-2663 to p
re-register. The event takes place Jan. 11-12.

Monday, December 9, 2013

First ice-beware

Experienced talk about first and last ice. Hearing them explain the catches they get, one would think if you fish the first and last part of the year, the fish are in the freezer. That's not quite right.
Where are those fish in between those times? Hibernating, laying low for warmer weather, looking for mates?
None of the above. They are still there somewhere in the lake you're fishing. You just have to find them.
A quick aside. I used to fish first ice with Al Demming of Bayport. We would take small pieces of plywood and toss them out of the ice to hold us up much like cement finishers do to even out their weight over fresh cement so they don't leave an impression.
Yes, for some reason the feed bay is on during this time but to what danger? It doesn't take much and through you go.
As I am getting a little longer in the tooth now, i don't fish those two times. In fact, this year i may add a life vest to my gear just for a little more safety.
Once you fall through the ice, it's a little late to reach for a pfd. Be safe on the ice. I've it a chance to thicken up even though we've had some cold weather causing skim ice. It's said no ice is safe ice. This is particularly true at the moment.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lessons learned deer huntingm

Probably the most important and common lesson is that deer are never where you expect them. If you see them during the day feeding at one location, don't count on them being there later that day.That said, deer have been taken from the same spot several times over many years. Go figure.
That nice big eight point isn't going to walk out of the woods right up to your blind and give you a clear shot.
However, that same deer may walk out in the open as if to say where's everyone at, presenting a great shot.
Expect the unexpected. While you are making noise getting settled, setting your chair up, figuring where you will lay your gun, digging out a couple of snacks and the book you intend to read to help you better sit still, a whitetail may just walk in when you least expect it.
Last week I went hunting. That is to say I found a place to pull off in the Mason Tract near Roscommon, got my stuff and headed into the woods.
There was no sign any deer had been in the area in a long time. Still, the excitement built. I continued walking, looking for sign while at the same time trying to find a place to use as a blind. Once settled, I didn't even load my 20 gauge, rather left it on my lap and enjoyed the sounds of the nature and the scenery.
Give it a try sometime. It's a great way to relax and successful doesn't always mean shooting something.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reader prefers gamey venison

In response to Sunday's column about Michigan Venison Company headquartered out of Traverse City, Don Sargent wrote that he preferred venison taken from the northern regions of the state due to it's taste.
"Contrary to "not gamey at all", I still crave that piny taste of "up-north venison".
I suspect that the gamey taste of venison comes from a deer being hung up in deer camp for too long in weather that is too warm.
I have killed many downstate deer and even when processed in a timely manner, they do not taste as good to me as those good old "up-north deer". Soy beans, corn and other crops do not make venison taste good to me at all.
Of course that is just my opinion, but if you want to enjoy venison, you have to take it from an area where the deer's diet  makes it taste good to you.
I have been reading your column in the Royal Oak Daily Tribune from the very beginning. You tend to tell it like it is and that is very refreshing to me.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to write, Don. I've found when the topic of eating wild game comes up, many people shun venison because of what they describe as a gamey taste.
You may have hit on something. The deer I have taken in the north that have fed on corn, beans and the like have been tough and didn't have the same flavor as those taken closer to home. Diet could very well be the answer.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Need grocers for a good hunting camp

Just returned from hunting the Roscommon area and Gladwin County without touching so much as a hair on a whitetail.
While the weather was cold and blowing hard, we hunkered down, especially in he afternoon to hunt until dark. Not a sound to be heard nor was there any movement to be seen.
The deer were hunkered down like us, waiting of the wind to abate maybe so they could hear any strange sounds they weren't used to.
Back at camp, we broke open a package of venison salami from Michigan Venison Company, headquartered in Traverse City,
Now, practically any deer camp comes prepared with the requisite steaks, eggs, bacon, cheese and crackers, along with a supply of venison sausage that can range from so-so to down right inedible.
The summer sausage with had had from Michigan Venison was the most mild, soft, tender, and great tasting summer sausage I have had in a long time.
Whether it's deer camp or siting around watching the game, your must try this excellent tasting sausage.
Check their website at www.miciganvenision.com for more information, More stores are planned for southern Michigan,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Compass or GPS needed in the woods

I'm hunting from a friends cabin near Roscommon. I might just as well be in the middle of Clarkston for the lack of deer.
Hunting unfamiliar land like the Mason Tract is a little like someone dropping you in the middle of the Mojave Desert and telling you to find water. It's not going to happen.
Neither am I going to run into a nice buck meandering his way through the woods I'm sitting in, crossing a two track, plowing through some thick cedar, all on the way to the AuSable River and a drink.
On my drive into the area I was to hunt I saw no tracks in the soft sand of the road. Once I had parked and gotten my gear together, I headed for the opposite side of the road away from the river.
Again, there wasn't any sign. But a short walk into the brushy field and I saw a run that looked like I-75. It was large and seemed to be well used. Other runs were in the area.
All around me were huge trees that had been toppled during the recent wind storm. Runs ran near the downed trees then skirts them to get to the other side.
Walking into the woods about a quarter of a mile, I found what looked like a good spot to sit. I could observe several runs in front of me and the wind was right. I didn't see a single whitetail.
Just shy of the lights going completely out, I decided to call it a day and began walking out. Somehow, I angled my walk away from my truck. By the time I hit the two track, I had to look hard to see it.
I'm glad I didn't wait much longer or I could have still been out there looking for my ride. Even though I hadn't gotten too far off the beaten path, that woods began looking like it had when I walked in.
With no compass or GPS to guide me, I was on my own. It's a good thing that some dead reckoning paid off.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fireams deer season is already memorable

This is the first firearms season opener I've missed. Some of them have given me the chance to hunt but most of the others involve meeting hunters, conducting interviews and taking pictures.
This year I spent most of the day and a good part of the evening in the cath lab at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac.
In a way I was to blame for being there. Even since I had a stent placed ten years ago, I've been up front and very honest with my cardiologist Randall Reher, M.D.
While we were visiting in Germany and walking around some of he little rounds I noticed I was getting dizzy, my heart was pounding and I was breathing deep. A check with a doctor over there revealed nothing.
Back home I made an appoint with Reher. He began scheduling all sorts of tests; chest x-ray, stress test, echo cardiogram, and keg. These all came bak within normal limits.
The next step was a walking treadmill test. I'll pause here and tell you I dread this test. I used to run long distance-usually 6-8-10 miles daily-but since both knees have been replaced running is not an option.
In my running days I would try to burn the rubber off a treadmill thinking I could take it to the very end. I never did but I gave it a good try in theses days.
"We need yo try and duplicate your symptoms on the treadmill," Reher said. Coincidentally, he was present when I had my test.
"I'm going to order a stress test for you. Despite no indication, my gut tells me there is something wrong. Lets check it out and be sure," he sad.
When I got done I was really breathing hard. Reher felt this was an indication of a possible blockage. A few days later I saw him in his office. "Everything is clear. None of your tests show any blockage," he said.
The next and hopefully final step in the process was an angioplasty. This involves inserting a catheter in your wrist and on into the heart. Or they can go in through the groin.
Once everything is set they inject dye to see if all the vessels, arteries and parts of the heart are carrying it through.
Again, mine checked out ok with the exception that one small area of the heart did not appear as strong as the rest.
I'm on some new medication which should improve that condition and overall make me feel better. Even though things turned out well, I still found myself thinking about the opener, and who was bringing deer into the Holly check station. Most of all I missed talking with wildlife biologist Tom Payne along with Julie Oaks and Jon Curtis. Maybe next year.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cold weather, just in time for deer opener

Those dedicated, die-hard, veteran hunters will welcome the colder weather headed our way for the foreseeable future along with predictions of snow.
Tracking snow it's often referred to. The kind of snow that allows hunters to find deer they have shot. More often than not, deer run after being hit by an arrow or a round from a firearm.
That's why it's important to sit tight after shooting. Any quick movement on the part of the hunter trying to pursue a whitetail is a recipe for pushing that animal further into thick cover.
Once you shoot, try to remember exactly where you last saw the deer before it disappeared. Sitting for a few minutes affords the deer to run, usually a short distance, before it lays down.
The snow-fresh or not-allows the hunter to follow a blood trail easier than trying to find it in leaves that often make tracking difficult to say the least.
Remember, once you shoot, take the time to have a cup of coffee, eat a sandwich or an apple before attempting to find that down whitetail.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rain, wind helps hunters

That's right. Rain and wind will benefit hunters by getting all those leaves off the trees which helps hunters see game much better than trying to peer through all those leaves.
My front yard is covered in what has blown down. One good raking and it all goes into the compost pile where it will eventually make it's way into the garden.
Almost one week ago, my router decided to die leaving me inter net less. No email too! Just this afternoon a new writer and cable box arrived. After continued calls to my cable service, bingo,  we were off and running.
With kids scattered around the world, we depend on email, Facebook and Skype to stay in touch. Of course there is the phone. But we've gotten used to using these other means as well.
With the firearms deer opener right around the corner, many hunters are busy planning this year's deer camp.
My neighbors headed north a few days ago. They don't hunt the firearms season; instead they are very dedicated bow hunters no doubt enjoying some time in the woods before the largest peacetime army heads north.
Good luck to all of you this hunting season. Make it a safe one!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trash-Ease makes collecting refuse easy outdoors

It's such a simple looking device, I wonder why no one thought of it sooner. Trash-Ease is a round metal frame that clamps to the end of a picnic table or other flat surface.
Depending on the size-13 or 33 gallon-hang the corresponding plastic trash bag on the frame and you've got handy trash collection ready, waiting and nearby.
Gone are the days of laying a bag on the ground then having to chase it in the wind or continually open it to dump unwanted stuff into it.
This should be a simple, easy to use solution to a problem most of us have experienced when tailgating, camping, having a picnic or entertaining on the back deck or patio.
 Made in the USA, the sturdy design of the Trash-Ease makes it durable enough to be taken
and used everywhere on a daily basis, while its slim, lightweight and one-piece design allows it to be transported and stored easily in a closet, shelf, trunk, camper cubby or nearly any other similar storage location without the need for tools.  Each Trash-Ease comes packaged with 2 standard drawstring garbage bags in the same size as the model of Trash-Ease.
No need to purchase special trash bags.  The powder coated and rubber dipped exterior protects against damage to surfaces where the Trash-Ease is attached. For more information visit trash ease.com.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Home feels good

After being gone for several weeks, we are back home in northern Oakland County. It's always fun and exciting to travel. But the return has it's moments.
We were travelling or waiting in airports for flights for over 24 hours. It will take a few days to put jet lag behind us and get back to some semblance of order.
Two large boxes of mail greeted us when we returned. Then begins the task of sorting; this pile for reading, this one for bills, one for reading later, and of course in our times, the shred pile.
We left Germany withs temps in the high 60's or low 70's. Arriving in Atlanta, it was mid 70's and sunny.
Talk about your large, busy airports, Atlanta-Hartsfield has got to beat everyone, hands down. Delta jets are pushing back, moving for takeoff positions often waiting in line or landing and coming back to the gate minutes ago vacated by another in many flights.
London Heathrow is another gigantic airport. We missed a connecting flight due to a couple of mix ups and wound up spending the night in a very nice, airport hotel, courtesy of British Airways.
It's good to be home, greet Molly and begin the process of settling back in just in time for hunting season.
Nothing can compare to ones own bed and daily habits, no matter how good the trip was.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tree stand safety; important when hunting off the ground

If you plan on hunting from a tree stand be sure you're hunting safe. That begins with a good quality harness.
It's extremely important to wear a harness at all times, when climbing either up, down or engaged in hanging steps or the stand itself. And by all means, were your harness when you are in the stand.
Once you have worn a good quality harness you'll hardly know it's there. And should you have an accident, you'll be able to safely recover without hitting the ground.
Harnesses are designed to keep you from making contact with the ground. Good ones keep you in an upright position allowing you to get back on the stand or onto the steps.
Remember to search out a live tree to hunt from. Once you locate the tree you're going to use, consider the height you'll want to hang the stand from.
Many hunters stay about 15 feet off the ground. Many others don't go as high. But there are still a few that think higher is better, going to loftier heights when they don't need to.
Finally, keep your arrows and the heads in a quiver that offers protection from those razor-sharp points.
Hunters have been known to fall on exposed broad heads causing serious injury.
Leave your bow and other items on the ground tied to a rope. Once you get into the stand and are secure, you'll be able to haul everything up safely.
Harnesses are available in a variety of sizes, colors, styles and prices. Visit cabala's.com or bass pro.com for more information. Read my column in this Sunday's Oakland Press sports section about tree stand safety.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin fest, with sports theme at castle in Ludwigsburg, Germany

The worlds largest pumpkin festival is held each fall in Ludwigsburg, Germany, on the grounds of  the baroque palace or schools, of King Ludwig.
Over 400,000 pumpkins are brought in to be made into displays. This year's theme was sports-centered, including  gigantic Olympic figurines. The castle was built between 1704 and 1733 and is the largest preserved Baroque castle in Germany.
It was commissioned by King Edward Ludwig who wanted it for a hunting retreat. These days tours of the castle and grounds, a gift shop and restaurant are part of the services to be experienced at the castle.
We spent a good part of last Saturday, walking around the various gardens and admiring the huge pumpkin displays of the Olympic rings, ski jumpers, weight lifter, a basketball player, backboard and net, and soccer ball with a goal.
Excellent carvings of birds, ducks, pigs and other animals were located throughout the castle grounds. Because of the popularity of the event and the extremely warm weather with lots of sunshine and blue skies, the grounds were crowded.
We enjoyed pumpkin-flavored popcorn, and pumpkin fries. Though these may sound weird, both were delicious.
If visiting Germany is on your list, Google Ludwigsburg pumpkin festival, put your feet up and read on.
Swimmer decorated with pumpkins at Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blind hunter Dennis Opoka shoots first deer

Royal Oak resident Dennis Opoka, blind since birth, shot his first deer this fall during the Youth and Disabled hunt.
Opoka uses a sighted guide to help him get on target. His friend, Charles Fickeau, Jr. provides the "eyes" for Opoka. He does this by applying light pressure to Opoka's shoulder.
When he's right on target, the pressure increases a little. Opoka has been hunting at Christ's Outreach in Kentucky, a camp for blind hunters and at the property of Chuck VanderWall's in Fountain, Michigan.
What's amazing about this story is proving that disabled hunters want very much to continue their hunting pursuits despite a disability.
That instead of sitting down and saying to themselves that's it, my life is over, many try to figure out ways to continue in their individual pursuits using some sort of modification.
Whether it's a way to get into the woods, onto a board or disabled fishing pier or figuring out how to shoot a bow with one arm, disabled are some of the most dedicated, devoted and die-hard people when it comes to adapting to lifestyle changes.
Congratulations to Dennis Opoka for pursuing his dream, Charles Fickeau for helping to see that the dream is realized and the VanderWall family for having the instinct to see a need and be able to provide the chance.
And that is exactly what disabled hunters are after, just the chance or opportunity to participate, to be one of the gang, and to share experiences and traditions made in the outdoors.
You can read more about Opoka and his deer hunting experience in my column this Sunday in The Oakland Press.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Opportunities for children with disabilities in Oakland County


 Oakland County Parks and Recreation Adaptive Recreation program hosts Youth Abilities Saturday Sports Special, a weekly opportunity for children with disabilities ages 6 – 18 to participate a number of physical activities including floor hockey, kickball, basketball, parachute games and more.
“This is a great way to engage in healthy exercise at a comfortable level for each participant, as the weather gets cooler,” Recreation Program Supervisor Sandy Dorey said.
The event runs on Saturdays, through Nov. 23, from 9:30 – 11 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County. Program capacity is 20 participants each week.
             Pre-registration is required and participants may select which weeks to attend. A downloadable registration form is available online. Call 248-424-7081 for program details.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County is located at 1545 East Lincoln in Royal Oak.
Visit DestinationOakland.com for adaptive recreation programs or find Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Deer abundant in Germany

We are in Germany near Stuttgart, in a small farming village where out son Matt and his wife Petra live. We're surrounded by fields of rape, standing corn, vineyards of grapes, and orchards once full of peaches and plums.
Now, many of these orchards have loads of apples on trees resembling a cross between a full grown apple tree and a dwarf.
Planted just a few feet apart, these straight, almost surveyor laid out rows of trees are seen nearly everywhere we go.
Grapes are just as abundant, hanging in hugs bunches from vines waiting to be hand picked. Vineyards are mostly grown up and down on steep slopes around here making picking backbreaking work.
My son sometimes rides his bike to work in Stuttgart. When he leaves home it's still dark. Up on the hill known as the Lemberg around here-where you can see clear to Stuttgart and beyond- he'll often see different herd of deer, silently feeding.
"Being on a bike and riding by doesn't seem to bother the deer," Matt said. "They go right on feeding." Just like ours back home. Very nocturnal.
But for some reason, we don't see the normal damage to trees and vines that are frequent in the U.S. due to deer grazing.
I'm sure they are in the orchards around here as well. We just haven't heard the complaints or seen the resulting damage.
Grapes from steep hillside in Affalterbach, Germany.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Great entertainment-great price!

The Paint Creek Folklore Society presents the 42nd annual Tin Whistle Concert Saturday, Nov. 9 at Fellowship Hall at University Presbyterian Church, 1385 S. Adams Road, Rochester Hills.
The concert begins at 7:30p.m.
This is a folk music delight for fans of acoustic music beginning with Potter's Field with John Natiw and Rochelle Clark, a Paint Creek Sampler with blues singer and hammered dulcimer player Dotty Decker and Roger Blair, brilliant song writer, cover artist and performer.
Rounding out the program are Annie and Rod Capps joined by Jason Dennie that includes as relaxed and polished performance of songs about broken things and poignant ponderings with a rootsy vibe and a touch of twang with a soulful groove.
Tickets are $15. For information or to reserve tickets call (248) 889-3013.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Travel continues

Trying to keep with the the Tigers and occasionally the Lions has been a shade difficult while travelling out of the country.
"Iffy" internet connections, general travel and sightseeing, all see to add to the mix of trying to keep with what is happening back home. Thanks to emails, even FB, and the internet, when I do have the time and the right connections, staying somewhat in step with Oakland Press readers is a little easier.
One travel experience we didn't figure on was missing a flight from London/Heathrow. That's a huge airport.
Thanks to the British Airways folks, we were put up in a nice airport hotel, given meal vouchers, and promptly escorted the following morning to our gate.
But this time weather was a factor. Heathrow was fogged in. We were nearly three hours late departing
for Germany.
A day or two taking it easy has put us back on track. But the weather here has shifted, becoming colder and rainy.
We'll try to get out in a day or two for some local sightseeing and meeting up with friends we have made over here.
In the meantime, have a safe fall hunting and fishing season. This is a great time of the year to be on the water or outdoors in any respect.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kevin McCrory, helped bring access to the outdoors

Kevin McCrory passed away this passed July at home, surrounded by his family. Many readers might be wondering who was McCory and why bother to mention him.
Kevin was very much instrumental in helping establish awareness of conditions in the outdoors that would make fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and other activities, possible for the entire population to participate in.
We served together on the board of Outdoors Forever, a group dedicated to making the outdoors accessible to everyone.
In those days, I think it really served as a sort of springboard to make people in general aware of the problems disabled people had when pursuing activities outdoors.
Tim Pifher and Kevin had a term for able-bodied people calling them TAB's for temporarily able bodied people.
"We're all going to be disabled some day," one or the other would say. They were referring to people, well like me, who has both knees replaced, a cardiac stent placed, cataract surgery, and loss of strength in one should due to losing a rotator cuff. I've joined the group that is fortunate to have some of these programs in place largely due to people like Kevin and Tim.
Kevin was a large man, into doing larger things to benefit the public in a variety of ways. He was a very giving person with his time, ideas and ingenuity.
Along with the late Roger McCarville, Kevin will be missed not only by their families but as we all age, by the public in general.
Read more about Kevin McCory in this Sunday's Oakland Press.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shooting and fall sports

We hear the sounds of shotguns being fired near where we are staying in the UK. Apparently, there is a hunt club with a range near here. I hope to visit it before we leave here Sunday.
Usually the ranges in and around Oakland County see a spike in visitors this time of the year as hunters get a little practice in and do some sighting in before the Nov. 15 firearms deer opener.
If you haven't seen your gun since you put it away after last season, at least get it out of it's case and see that it's cleaned, well-oiled, and most important, not loaded.
Run a cleaning rod down the barrel and give everything a light coat of oil. And by all means, spend some time firing your gun prior to going into the woods or field.
Shoot safe, know what your target is and what is behind it. Don't be in a hurry to get that shot off. After all, this is just practice and the time for you to gain some shooting experience since last year.

Monday, September 30, 2013

U.S. football at Wembley Stadium!

That's been part of my Sunday here in the UK, watching Pittsburgh and Minnesota go at it. I've told all the neighbors near my daughters that this is the real football, not the stuff they call soccer over here.
As you might guess, I'm not too popular at the moment. But American football seems to be. From the look on TV Wembley Stadium has a good, large crowd.
For this time of the year and especially for the UK, the weather has been great. Almost daily temps have been in the 70's with sunshine and light winds.
Great weather for walking those footpaths I've mentioned previously. Lots of other people must feels the same as I see walkers with their dogs out most days I'm walking.
Bikers too are out and about in large numbers. However, they stick to the paved roads and only go off road where it's permitted.
In the Yorkshire Dales a short distance from here, there are pheasants like I've never seen anywhere. About the only wildlife I see near where we are staying are the dreaded magpies. A large bird, black and white, they kill or chase off every other bird. Song birds and others we are accustomed to seeing at home don't stand a chance.
Areas where I walk are totally devoid of any rabbit sign. Talking with other walkers, there are normally a few to be seen but for some reason, this year there doesn't seem to be a large population.
As far as deer go, I think One would have to go back to the Dales country or further north. By the way,  the Dales is the area that James Herriott wrote about in his books about being a country vet.
He's written several. If you haven't read any, pick one up at your library. The writing will give you a great feel for Yorkshire and the Dales region.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Walking paths-a part of British heritage.

Just about anywhere you go around the UK you'll notice green and white signs that announce footpaths. Many seem to go through peoples yards but on closer inspection these narrow walkways border private property on either side.
To ensure privacy, many homeowners will erect wooden fences to keep foot traffic from becoming too nosey.
Still, over hundreds of years, these dedicated footpaths are still open to the public and are used often. In fact, may areas of the UK have walking clubs where members will meet at the beginning of a hike, then wind up usually in a coffee shop or pub depending on the area of the walk.
Some walks include maps showing camping facilities, places to replenish food, etc., or where to find a comfortable B & B for the night.
Brits are walkers whether its just for a turn around the neighborhood or a walk through farmers fields. Yes, these too have dedicated walkways. If there is livestock in the field you walk, there is a sign that kindly reminds you to close and latch the gate.
If there is no gate and fields are separated by field stone, a small ladder will be erected from one side to the opposite.
Walking paths in the UK are handy. Some practically right outside your door or just down the street. Whether they go through fields or adjacent yards, you're most always met with the common Yorkshire greeting, "Hi ya," or "You all right?"

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Great Michigan Deer Tales Book 6" signals deer season

When a new book by Richard P. Smith comes out about deer hunting tales it has become a yearly reminder that hunting seasons for deer are right around the corner.
Book 6 by the Marquette, Michigan-based writer is available now, all 128 pages of it. By book 6 you might be asking yourself when will Smith run out of deer stories?
The next time I see him I'll ask him. But in the meantime he keeps drawing from years of hunting experience; not only his but others he knows or has heard about. So the stories no doubt will keep coming.
The stories in this series of books are short. You can start in the middle or the back and won't have to worry about following chapters in any particular order. This also makes it convenient to read a little, put a book mark in and lay it down to come back to later.
If you've never read a book by Smith you are in for a learning experience. In subtle ways, Smith finds ways to slip in tips about hunting. Your job is to pay attention and pick these little tidbits out for your own potential use.
Stories in this book are about huge, state record racks or large non-typicals. However, Smith says in the introduction, "For many hunters, their first deer and their first buck will be achievements that will b accomplished at the same tine. For others like me, whose first deer was a doe, the first deer and first buck are separate occasions to cherish."
My first deer was a small four-point. The next was a doe followed by a spike. Those wall hanger racks have alluded me.
I've seen them at a distance but usually in high gear, headed somewhere in a hurry. Mandatory Antler Point Restrictions (MAPR) is a subject near and dear to many deer hunters.
If MAPR has their way, spikehorns and forkhorns will be illegal to take over the next several years.
Why? Smith opines that many of these  hunters have taken spikes and forks over the years and have come to the conclusion they don't want to take anymore. Whats more, they don't want anyone else from taking them either.
"This isn't necessary. Every hunter that wants to practice voluntary APR without impacting anyone else (can do so)."
Get a copy of Book 6 Great Michigan Deer Tales and read more about this controversial issue along with stories and photos of some unusual bucks.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In nature, if we don't recognize it, sometimes we kill it

That's the word from DNR fishories biologist Jim Francis. His comment came due to a call I made to him concerning bowfin fish and whether they were prevelant in Michigan waters.
"Bowfins are dog fish," Francis said. "We get several calls from people who think they have caught snakeheads, but in reality they are bowfins."
Like most creatures of nature, bowfins or dog fish have a place in our ecology system. They help keep lakes healthy by eating smaller fish therefore providing better fisheries for larger fish.
"The important thing is to return a bowfin back into the water as soon as possible," Francis advises. Not  a fish that will hit a lure, they are often foul hooked, but will chase baits near nests and fry.
Read more about bowfins in this Sunday's column in The Oakland Press.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

England's answer to America's pro football-Rugby

Rugby, a sport that is difficult for Americans to understand is fairly similar to American football. That similarity is the shape of the ball.
The rest of a rugby game is totally different. For instance, rugby players wear no padding whatsoever, not even a helmet. Broken necks are common and fatalities aren't unheard of.
Shorts, short-sleeved shirts and cleats are about the only concession to any sort of uniform. Instead of scoring a touchdown, the score in rugby is known as a try.
This Thursday I have been invited to attend a rugby game in Huddersfield against one of it's rivals Hull.  Locals say this should be a good game sort of like the Blackhawks and Wings.
Where our footballers are distinguishable by a bulk up body, many with hardly any necks, rugby players are recognized by their over size ears, broken noses, and faces that look like they have been through a war without any defensive equipment.
Coincidentally, my daughters neighbor is both the captain and on the way to becoming the rugby player of the year.
So even though fall-like conditions have started here in the UK, unlike U.S. football, rugby has been in season and will continue for some time.
Not to worry, though. This Sunday's column won't have much if anything to do with rugby. Rather it will shed some light on another kind of "junk" fish that actually is good for lake ecology. Stay tuned as they say!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Air travel to Uk a full experience

We left Saturday from Flint for Manchester, England via Atlanta. In you've never been through Atlanta-Hartsfield airport, you're in for a treat. They say it's the largest airport in the world. I believe them. Often, you must take a train to the next gate on to realize once you get there the flight has been changed to another part of the terminal.
Our transfer went without a hitch. Our plane was on trim, getting off the ground about 10 minutes early and arriving in the UK one half hour ahead of schedule.
The only problem was it was completely sold out. That put us in the middle tow seats of a back row with someone on either side of us.
But everything worked out really well despite the number of people aboard. I mention this not so much as it relates to the outdoors world, unless you are travelling on safari, but the ability of this huge airplanes with a large load of luggage and people to get airborne.
It amazes me every time we fly. Total flight time even with transfers was about 10 hours. The downside is the change in time zones that confuses normal sleep patters.
Our grandchildren will make sure that changes in a hurry. Now, it's time to become re-acclimated with the country and customs.
But I will never get used to driving on the opposite side of the road. That's one American trait we miss.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fall means great times outdoors

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year due to all of the activities out there to enjoy.  From a casual ride to see the fall colors and maybe stop for a glass of cider at one of the areas cider mills, to camping, hunting, fishing, and yes, still cooking on the backyard grill.
It's all there to be enjoyed. Anglers will notice less boat traffic to compete with on area lakes as some have already winterized their boats and put them up for winter.
Instead of picking out which fishing tackle to take on a trip, they're deciding on where to hunt small game or plunking arrows in targets in preparation for October 1st and and the archery opener.
Holly Recreation Area is up, open and running. It's may miles of trails are great to hike this time of year. Besides the color show to be seen, many animals, including deer, are getting more visible as they prepare for the changes in seasons, affecting their behavior.
Bucks in particular could start getting a little careless as they search out does for breeding purposes rather than lurking back in the thick stuff.
Once you complete your hike or have your boat loaded, head for one of the picnic areas in the park at Holly Rec and grill some lunch. Hot dog, brats or burgers never tasted as good as they do over the fire outdoors.
Now, all you need to do is get off the couch or put the foot rest on the recliner down and get outside. It's all there waiting for you to enjoy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Salmon are running and willing to fight

That's the report I've been getting from members of Kayak Fish The Great Lakes (KFGL). For the past several years the group has gathered around Glen Arbor on Lake Michigan to fish for salmon from kayaks.
Salmon have been schooling in  Michigan prior to heading up the various streams to spawn. The salmon being caught now aren't being snagged. Rather they are hitting on lures usually trolled.
"They prefer natural looking baits; something chrome-colored," Chris LeMessurier said. "Thundersticks, Hot N' Tots and any crankbait that will go deep seems to work."
Paul Biediger landed a fresh salmon on an evening of fishing." Today I got into one I couldn't get into the net. I accidentally knocked him off trying to net him," he said.
Kayak fishing isn't for beginners. Actually, fishing from a kayak should be done on any water with someone experienced.
The Great Lakes offer their own peculiarities, with weather probably being the biggest factor. When weather reports are iffy, it's best to stay on the beach where your safe and dry.
For more information on kayak fishing visit kfgl.com.
Paul Biediger with a Lake Michigan salmon.




Friday, September 6, 2013

Hunter safe-be safe not sorry

Even if you have hunted previously, it won't hurt to take a hunter safety course. If you were born after Jan., 1 1960 the law requires you to take the course and pass.
I took one several years ago even though I was hunting just about all seasons. I was able to learn some new techniques to help make me safe.
Those included hunting from tree stands with a harness rather than a safety belt. Another was the manner in which to raise or lower guns and bows to the tree stand.  be sure guns are unloaded and in the safe position.
Bows and arrows are a different matter. Arrows should be cased so broadheads are covered completely.
Another lesson many of us don't practice is to let someone know where we will be hunting and when we plan on returning.
Hunting season isn't the time to cut corners or take chances. Forget shooting at noises or moving shadows. Know your target and better yet, know what is beyond it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

You can't be safe enough in the field

   If you hunt with a bow or firearm you need to be aware of and safe with your equipment at all times. It's like passing a knife or ax to another person. You never do it blade first.
   The old adage that any gun is never safe or unloaded is a good one to remember and follow. As beginning hunter, I got into the habit of emptying my dad's shotgun then letting the butt rest on the ground while I placed the barrel under my chin to relax.
   The first time he saw me do that he went ballistic. "Never do that. What if that gun was loaded?" I told him I had emptied it first.
   It doesn't make any difference. Treat all guns as though they were loaded. Safety is one of this biggest things you will learn at a hunter safety course. And if you plan to hunt this year, you better plan on taking a course. God luck and be safe.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hunters safety course required

It goes without saying but here it is, right out of the Hunting Digest that all persons born after January 1, 1960 are required to take a hunter safety course and complete it successfully in order to purchase a hunting license.
It's hard for some to believe but fall hunting seasons are almost here. Soon, you'll notice a lot of hunters orange-clad people in the fields and woods here in Oakland County open to hunting.
As I write in this Sunday's column hunting and the right to do it are similar to operating a car. Both require some class time and successful completion of a safety course to be able to apply for a license.
Both of these activities can be fun, educational and interesting if used and operated properly.
However, careless use of a firearm or motor vehicle can result in severe injury and even death. Both activities done safely are rewarding.
Getting advice from dad's and other hunters is often valuable. But a course taught by certified instructors is the best way to be sure you learn and understand what is involved while hunting.
When it comes time for you to put that hunters orange on, take a firearm and head into the woods you'll know you're doing it in a safe manner.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spoofing at a tournament-you bet

Good question. While I haven't fished professionally I have fished in several local tournaments. I always go at it with the attitude that I am coming into the weigh-in with a full sack. It's never happened.
   Covering my first Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, a press day was held the day before the actual tournament. Members of the media were paired with a pro and allowed to weigh one fish good  for $500.
   While the media fished, the pro was trying his luck up front hoping to find a hole or pattern for the actual tournament.
   Towards the end of our allotted time, I caught a nice, healthy catfish. The pro i was with, Justin Will asked me if I wanted to weigh it. "Sure," I said.
   At the time Dewey Hendricks was tournament director and a man not to be messed with. I would learn that the hard way.
   Besides getting a final chance to practice, the purpose of the day was to line up all the boats, then announce each one, bringing them in, one-by-one to the stage; the same way it would be done on tournament days.
   When it came our turn, Wilks was announced and we were towed in to the stage. The Bass people asked if we had anything to weigh. "Yes," I replied.
   I managed to get that catfish out of the live well and into a bag then onto the stage and on the scales before Dewey realized what was happening.
   "You want to weigh that," he asked with no smile on his face or in his voice. "Yeah, go ahead and weight it," I said.
   The lesson here was know who you are going to spoof before the actual spoof begins.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Exotics-what's next?

   There are so many exotics in both the water as well as on the land, the names and types are difficult to remember.
   Gobies and zebra mussels were thought to ruin fishing, especially in the Great Lakes. Now it appears that Gobies have cleaned up the water and are bait for some fish.
   Zebra mussels-in my opinion-have no value that I know of. They are a pain to deal with by either attaching themselves to your line, or latching on to a lure, especially something fished on or near the bottom.
   Now comes the Asian Carp. It looks like this one like the others previously mentioned, will be with us for some time.
   Opinions differ as to whether they have set up house keeping in the Great Lakes. No one seems to have  a solid solution as to how to deal with them.
   There are all kinds of weeds that live and grow in and about the water that have no value. Some were brought here from other countries originally to deal with insects that had become a nuisance. Instead of curing the problem, they have added to it.
   All of these imported plants and fish are prolific. They like it here in the U.S. Our weather and water conditions don't seem to have any effect on them.
   Those tall reed-like stems you see growing near water aren't cattails. Rather a breed of plant called phragmities that reproduce rapidly.
   The Eurasian water milfoil is a plant that can grow so extensively in a lake, the surface resembles carpeting.
   Purple loosetrife is another import that has gained a giant foothold. Many of these invasive plants require actually pulling them out of the ground to get rid of them.
   The DNR holds several work weekends in it's parks throughout the year for the purpose of eliminating these plants.
   It's probably just a matter of time before a sea-going ship pumps ballast water from it's bilges that contain the next exotic.
   Or someone on vacation in another country brings back a plant that seems pretty but once here becomes a nuisance and  menace.
 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kayak safety and bruises go together

   For me, about anything I try to do these days results in bruising someplace on the old body. Last weekend while practicing tipping kayaks over in deep water, righting them then getting back aboard, I managed to collect a few more.
   One in particular on the inside of my elbow is about the size of a baseball and quite sore. I think I pulled a muscle while making several tries at righting the boat and getting back in.
   Just to be on the safe side while at the doctor for another problem I asked why I was getting bruised up so much.
   Seems as though one of the meds I take is the cause. "If you weren't getting bruised I would change the medication," he said. "The good thing about the bruises is it shows the medicine is working."
   Good for the medicine. I don't remember looking like I had been used for a blocking dummy in years gone by.
   Speaking of medicines, I have to carry a list around with me to keep track of what I take, the dose and how often.
   No offense to doctors-after all we do need them-but I'm collecting them like some people collect stamps or coins.
   There seems to be no let up to the number of doctors, the specialities they practice and the medicines that are available.
   On a more serious note, I woke this morning to the news that prominent fiction writer and local resident Elmore "Dutch" Leonard had died.
   I knew Dutch and had spent hours at his home talking writing and different life experiences. When I would bump into him from time to time at some outing, he always remembered me.
   He was kind enough to autograph a picture along with a personal note for me several years ago. His family and fans will miss him.


 
Chris LeMessurier practicing water safety in his kayak. By Beukema


 On a more serious note, I woke this morning to the news that prominent fiction writer and local resident Elmore "Dutch" Leonard had died.
   I knew Dutch and had spent hours at his home talking writing and different life experiences. When I would bump into him from time to time at some outing, he always remembered me.
   He was kind enough to autograph a picture along with a personal note for me several years ago. His family and fans will miss him.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Are you really safe on the water?

   How safe are you on the water? Whether you're out for a pleasure cruise on a pontoon boat, tubing, or fishing, do you know for sure that if something unexpected were to happen you could handle it?
   Take it a step further and say you are flying to Germany. How would you feel if the pilot arrived late, clothing disheveled, yelled a hello to the passengers before climbing in the cockpit, starting the engines, then taxing to whatever runway he felt like.
   Commercial as well as general aviation pilots practice safety whenever they are around airplanes. Pilots arrived at the airport well before flight time to get weather briefings and file a flight plan.
   One of the crew will be responsible for making a visible inspection of the planes exterior. Is it leaking oil? Are there any loose or worn fittings? Does every moving part seem to be on the plane?
   Next, have corrections been made from complaints noticed by the previous flight crew? In the meantime is the weather changing? Is it still safe to go?
   Flight attendants make their safety speeches and demonstrations before it's time to go.
Boaters could take some lessons from pilots by checking the weather in advance, be sure the right equipment is aboard and that those on the boat know where to find a ring buoy, first air kit, or line.
   It doesn't hurt to have someone sit near the boats captain to see who the boat is operated in the event something happens to the boat operator.
   Give a little safety lecture and by all means include your passengers in your plans; where you're going, when you'll return and any other thing that may include points of safety and interest.
   Boating experiences are supposed to fun and enjoyable. Make sure the trip you take is just that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Apologies for any health-realted information concerning my situation

   My apologies to all who have sent messages of concern to me. I'm fine-got a cancer free report last Friday.
   From here on out I see my doctor every three months for two years, then twice a year for two years. Once you have bladder cancer, it can return. That's the reason for so much follow up. They want to catch it early so it can be handled with the least amount of trauma to your system. i.e. instead of doing a course of chemo, if let alone to grow, other complications could set in, like the cancer spreading through the bladder wall and into other important organs. This would require surgery along with higher doses of chemo and maybe radiation.
   The point I was trying to make is that in your personal life, should you get a report from a doctor that is potentially serious, take a moment to think about it and discuss it with those around you.
   Then, you may want to get that second opinion, just sort of a back up or a consensus that the first doctor was on the right path.
   While I was hesitate to get another opinion the doctor himself told me that it was not uncommon for patients to seek another opinion and that it didn't bother them insofar as feeling it was a challenge to their ability.
   So, if I mislead anyone, I'm sorry. For an old guy I'm otherwise doing well. With two knee replacements and no rotator cuff in one shoulder I'm still managing to attend cross fit classes 3-4 times a week, fish, hunt, and kayak. I've just slowed down some.
   Hang in there and at the first sign of something different going on in your body seek medical help and advice...then depending on what that something is, think about another opinion.

Who do you trust?

   We put our faith in the doctors that treat us. In all the years I've been going to doctors, I've never once asked for a second opinion.
   With the diagnosis of bladder cancer and the route the diagnosing doctor wanted to take, several close friends suggested I get a second opinion.
   That second opinion came highly recommended. As I was a new patient, I was sent reams of paperwork to be filled out then told to arrive one half hour ahead of my scheduled appointed at 4p.m. I arrived about 3:25p.m. and was showed into a room. "The doctor will be with you shortly" was told.
   At 6:15p.m. this highly popular and well recommended doctor came in with my chart. "I got a little busy," was all he said before launching into what he felt should be done.
   His suggestion was quite aggressive and he wanted to schedule me for it asap. I told him I would go home and think about it then call his office.
   Instead, I contacted a fellow writer whose brother went to U of M med school and practices dermatology on the west coast. Yes, I know he isn't a urologist but felt he probably know someone out there that may have a different view.
   He called back within a half hour and said to tell me to go to the U of M. I called them on a Thursday afternoon and was asked if I could be there the next day at 8:15a. I told them to book it.
   I got in, got some good answers and a sensible (I thought) approach to m,y diagnosis. The rest is history.
   I was pronounced cancer free last Friday but must follow up with the doctor every three months for two years then every six months for two years.
   While this isn't necessarily outdoor news, I mention it because so many friends near me were patients of this chemo-pushing doctor and are scared to death. They have no idea where to turn.
   I'm thankful I wasn't one of them. Early on I got some advice from a three-time cancer survivor: "Roger, you need to be your own advocate." Truer words were never spoken.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New products always showing up

   This Sunday's column has to do with a new crankbait called the Scatter Rap. It's a minnow-looking bait from the folks at Rapala.
   I don't know how many new baits, gadgets, line, rods or reels come out each year, but judging by what I see in tackle boxes on the racks in bait shops, it's a lot.
   You probably wonder if you need to replace your tackle each year with the newest and latest. Fishing is like golf in many ways.
   One way they are similar are the yearly changes in equipment with both sports. Golf club companies are always bringing out new sticks (clubs), different shafts, heads that promise the ball will go straighter and of course, longer, and so forth.
   But like fishing, some golfers by a set of clubs and play with them for years before changing to something newer.
   Fishermen think the same way. Many use rods, reels and tackle that they have had for years. Those jigs they bought several years ago still catch fish. So do the cranks, spinnerbaits and spoons.
   Some new tackle may have advantages over older stuff. More action, different materials in the construction process and so many newer colors to choose from.
   I tend to stay with what I've had for years. Even the skirts on some of my baits have never been changed.
   Soft plastics and creature baits are the same ones I've had since before Gulp or any of the other scented baits came out.
   I think what it all boils down to is the person using the tackle. There's one word to describe it, confidence.
   If you're confident in your equipment, or a favorite go to plug, by all means stay with the confidence baits.
   After all, attitude and confidence are a huge part of catching fish. But check the new stuff out too. There just may be a couple that will change up how you do things.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Still time for summer sports

   As I write this I'm mentally getting prepared for a kayak trip this weekend with members of Kayak Fish The Great Lakes. And here in lies a good lesson.
   This trip is not all fishing. In fact, we'll leave all the tackle and rods on shore, then head out on the lake to practice getting into a kayak once it's capsized or you have somehow found yourself in the water.
   Not enough time is spent practicing safety procedures especially those kinds of emergencies that happen on the water.
   However, there is a bright side to all of this. I've noticed this summer that most kayakers I've seen on the water are wearing a PFD. That's a huge improvement to prior years.
   Often kayakers would head out without a life jacket even on the boat. Up until a few years ago they were seldom worn on or around the water.
   You may be the best swimmer around but the shock of cold water, or a rap on the head from some equipment that got loose can leave you temporarily incapacitated. During these first few minutes you need to be able to save yourself, especially if there is no one close by to lend a hand.
   Being unconscious or in shock isn't going to be of much help. That's why it's a good idea to wear a PFD at all times and carry all necessary life saving gear-first aid kit, tow rope, knife-on the boat.
   And know how to get back in if you find yourself in the water. It could save your life.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Finally, great news!

   Yesterday, Friday, was the date of my appointment with my urologist at University of Michigan. She had examined me several months ago and prescribed a weekly session of chemo therapy.
   Once the chemo was completed, about three weeks ago, I had an appointment with her once again for a re-check.
   With ought going into a lot of details, these checks are kind of exciting to put it mildly. There is no medication given to make it easier, it's just done.
   Anyway, when completed doctor looked at me and said there is no evidence of cancer. The next part of the treatment is to keep an eye on it by going for the same exam once every three months for two years, then twice a year for six two years.
   This is a tremendous load off my mind and my families. I'm still living in a fog, wondering if this is really true.
   I'm also grateful for all of the prayers and thoughts from all of you. Thanks so much. They made me want to get out of the bed on the mornings I didn't feel like and move around a bit.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Health issues slowing the writing process

   First, thanks to all of you for your kind thought and prayers. It really was nice that so many voiced concern over me recent bladder cancer diagnosis.
   To get you caught up, I finished ( I hope) my last chemo treatment about three weeks ago. Those of you that have gone through chemo understand how it leaves you with no energy and very fatigued. It's work just to sit at the computer and write some days.
   This Friday I go in for a check up to see what the chemo has done. This is a scope procedure that goes directly into the bladder. The advantage is the doctor can see right then in real time what's going on.
   If there are any more tumors, how the site of the original tumor looks, and what effects did the chemo have on the overall condition.
   The disadvantage is that this a very uncomfortable procedure. You are wide awake for the entire thing.
   Believe me, I've tried deep breathing and convincing myself to try and relax, that it will be over soon. But there comes that moment when it's go time. I gripped every part of that table I can and try to stay still.
   So that is briefly an update on where I'm at. It's on my mind almost constantly. I've had sweaty palms just thinking of the procedure and try to tell myself that it will be over before I know it.
   I haven't learned any secret fixes but did find out that if you ever smoked in the past, you could be a candidate for bladder cancer. Apparently, the chemicals from smoking all find their way there eventually and begin a build up.
   Some smokers won't be affected. I quit smoking 35 years ago and boom, got the surprise of my life in March when a cancer diagnosis was made.
   If you smoke, do everything you can to quit. And if you don't good for you. It's one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Off Shore Planer boards-one way of salmon fishing


   The discussions are already on about the use of planer boards, dipsies, and every other kind of board or disc you can think of.

   "This would be a great time to use a Off Shore Planer Board," Off Shore owner and consummate fisherman, Bruce DeShano messaged a few days ago.
   This was in response to my blog about salmon fishing from a kayak in Lake Michigan. Some people opine they are for them and have caught lots of salmon using them, while others talk about the drag it puts on the side of the boat the board is on, making paddling different.
   I don't have a comment one way or the other other than to say I've caught loads of fish from larger boats using boards.
   That's why, this year, I'm going to take a long some small Off Shore boards and give them a try. To battle the boat control, I think I'll throw one out on each side. That way I can fish two different depths with two different baits.
Son Matt with salmon caught using a planer board
   We'll see if this method gets them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kayaking for salmon-coming soon

   Another year and another summer that has gone by far too quickly. Hunters are starting to feel the itch to get back into the woods or field to chase game. Archery hunters are slowly getting bows tuned and checked up for the coming season.
   Anglers have no thoughts of pulling boats or shrink wrapping them for the winter months when they will sit idle until next springs launch day.
   Kayak fishermen are looking forward to hooking into a salmon early this fall on Lake Michigan. They are as eager and excited as any bass fishermen gets prior to opening day or deer hunter waiting o go north for chance at a large rack.
   For guys like me who prefer to kind of ride along in a kayak, this type of fishing is made for us. The speed a yak travels while being paddled is just about the right one to attract salmon.
   So that means a trolling bite. I've heard different guys say they use spoons, swear by crank baits, and anything else that dives deep.
   This will be my third Salmon Slam and about the only thing I've been able to slam is the beach when I land and manage to tip my boat part way over.
   But the weather has always been great despite an occasional shower, and a bit of wind. The rest of the time Lake Michigan has been nice to us.
   If you want more information visit www.kayakfishthegreatlakes.com.


Chris LeMessurier with a nice Lake Michigan salmon caught while trolling from the kayak he's sitting in.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kevin McCrory recently passed away. He championed

   You may not have had the pleasure of knowing Kevin McCrory from Fostoria. He was just 54 when he recently passed away from a variety of illnesses.
   I first met him while serving on the board of Outdoors Forever, a group dedicated to see that the outdoors was accessible for everyone.
   Back in the day as they say, we used to host an annual salmon fishing trip out of Oscoda. Charter boat captains donated their boats and time to take a disabled person out on Lake Huron to discover what it was like to hook and catch a salmon.
   Most were successful, fighting fish from their wheelchairs. Those with other disabilities  had help from able bodied people on board.
   Wurtsmith Air Force base, still functioning at the time, would send over some troops to help load people and wheelchairs from the dock into a boat. Eventually a hoist was built and installed that would lift people in chairs, then swing out and lower them into the back of a charter boat.
   Following dinner one night, several people wheeled in a portable piano. Kevin got up and began to play. His wife, Jacquita started singing. The two made a great combination. Kevin was great on the ivory and Jacquita was not only attractive but she had a beautiful voice.
   The thing I remember most about that night was the way Kevin played. He was striking the keys with the side of his hands.
   Later when I met him he explained that he had club hands and feet. "You should come to my house and we'll go ice fishing this winter," he said.
   With all of the physical problems Kevin had, he never quit trying to do the things other people were doing.
   He fashioned a kind of glove to play catch with his kids. He built his own ice auger and powered it with a car battery. He was always up for trying most anything.
   He never liked the limelight. Instead he preferred being in the background and letting others get the credit for accessible trails and fishing docks he had spearheaded.
   Kevin was the most gentle, friendly, talented and fun loving person you could ever meet. He'll be missed by all of his family and friends.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bill H. was my lifesaver

   Bill H. That's the way people are identified in a club that I belong too. Bill belonged to the same club, actually for a lot longer than I did.
   For a longtime, he was very active, helping others get their lives in order, put some sense into what they were doing or had done, and being available 24-ten as the saying goes.
   I met Bill in 1981. Our first conversation was truly accidental. I was calling for information about Alcoholics Anonymous and was told someone would contact me the next day.
   Several days went by without the phone ringing. I called back and started chewing on the person on the other end of the line.
   Turned out it was Bill. Following a rather rough and crude introduction, he invited me to stop by his house on my way home from work later that evening. I was there until almost 8a.m.
   From then on, for several months, I was a regular visitor. Pretty soon, my visits tapered off to once or twice a month, then stretched to once every 3 or 4 months, and finally, once a year.
   Our visits had to do with what was going on in our lives, and ore directly, how I was doing. There was no lying or hiding anything from Bill. He sat in his rocker in his small, neat home in Waterford and watched me closely. He listed very well too.
   Sometimes he had a question. Most of the time he would talk about experiences that turned out to be teaching moments.
   I have a lot to thank Bill for. Mainly my life and helping me get myself back together. I used to tell him that or write him notes to that affect.
   Like people that are true to their causes he shrugged any compliment off as though ignoring them. To him, he didn't do anything.
   He was almost shy about coming to my home and meeting my family. They too all thanked him for what he had done to be of so much life changing help.
   That first meeting was a little over 35 years ago. Every day, I'm thankful that I got to know Bill and have been able to put into practice so much of what he spoke to me about.
   Bill passed away July 4th. He'll be missed by not only his family, but me, even though our visits were too few and far between.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Weather is the hot topic

Excuse the intended pun but that sees to be on every ones mind. Golfers can't get out because the courses are too wet and carts would do considerable damage. If you are a walking golfer you'll need waders.
   While fishing seems to be off and running in Lake St. Clair, especially the smallmouth bite, northern rivers aren't producing the way they should be.
   I haven't been on any of our local lakes to see what's biting. By the looks at ramps though, they seem to be pretty well deserted.
   Once I get a few things sorted in the garage, I'll get one of the kayaks down and get out for a personal   experience.
   Don' forget the Oakland County Archery Jamboree coming up in early August. Call the club at (248) 623-0444.
   This is a good way to get into the swing of bow hunting which isn't that far off. In fact it wouldn't hurt to get an idea on where you plant to hunt now, then get out soon and do some scouting.
   Just remember to wear long sleeves and a hat. And bring plenty of OFF along.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Archery, great sport that isn't a team effort

   Oakland County Sportsmen's Club will hold it's 40th annual Bow Hunter Jamboree August 10-11. Call the club at (248) 623-0444 for more information.
   The name of the event may be a bi misleading. Whether you hunt or not doesn't make any difference. If you are a beginner that's fine too.
   The purpose is to get you outside in simulated hunting conditions, improve or learn new skills, and have fun while doing it.
   You're allowed one arrow per target. Targets are made up to appear as deer, bear, and other wild game.
   Distances to targets are all different. It's up to the shooter to figure out how far it is to the target and even the correct angle.
   Some shots will be high, some low, and at least one at a long distance. That's all good and fun. But I think the best part is no one sits on the bench because he or she isn't good enough to participate.
   This is a sport that invites participation from one and all. Whether you shoot bulls eyes regularly or miss the target often, you're more than welcome.
   If you decide you would like to learn more about archery, there are many different leagues open throughout the year with certified instructors there to show you the correct way to shoot.
   Whether you hunt or shoot at a target, archery is a fun activity. Give it a try.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Where has summer gone?

   I'm hearing people say we haven't had our summer yet. Take a colder-than-normal spring, enough rain to hopefully help raise lake levels that need it, colder-than-normal nights and it's no wondering people are asking what is going on.
   Anglers of the long, limber rod-fly fishermen- are also concerned. Bugs that can be counted on to hatch t certain times of the year haven't been seen.
   Worse, the fish that normally feed on these insects are scarce as hens teeth. Add to that the high waters in rivers that are normally wadeable, these same rivers will probably float a good-sized yacht.
   When and if a true warm up happens, the $64 question is will these hatches finally occur? I'm in the camp that thinks its been so cold and in terms of the time in an insects life, we might be better off fishing poppers on lakes for gills.
   Having said everything negative about cold water fishing, there are some that manage to get a nice brown trout to take a fly.
   Even though conditions aren't what we would hope for, if I had regular access to any of the "up north rivers" on a regular basis, I'm afraid I would be thrashing the river to a foam.
   Don't give up yet. There's still time and who knows, these fish could turn on for the best bite ever.
 

Friday, June 28, 2013

No hex hatch means no large trout

   Roscommon-Here and in Grayling and points in between the talk is about the lack of a hex hatch and night time feeding trout.
   Hex, also known as the Michigan Mayfly, is a large bug that usually makes it's appearance in mid June. It's always a guess as to when the hatch occurs.
   But when it does and should you be on the river you'll understand why anglers come from out-of-state and all over Michigan to fish this bug.
   The fly used is large so it's easy to tie on. And it's easy to see after dark on the water. That's when think type of fishing takes place.
   If you head north for the AuSable or Manistee River systems and want to try night fishing for trout here's some suggestions.
   Get on the water while it's sill light and pick the spot you intend to fish. Gauge how far you'll have to cast to get your fly in the zone you want to fish.
   Then find a spot to sit and wait quietly. You're waiting for darkness, bugs to begin hatching, and the slurp big trout make as they feed.
   Believe me. If you are there at the right time, it's an experience that will stay with you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Longtime Detroit News writer has passed away

   The last time I fished with Dave Richey was on Bay de Noc out of Escanaba. We shared stories about other trips, writing, and the funny things that happened to us along the way.
   I didn't have near the experiences or travel that David had. He had travelled the world hunting and fishing for many species of game.
   Probably his closest friend was his twin brother George, who proceeded him in death. George wrote two very thorough compilations about antique lure collection.
   The two spent many hours fishing from AuSable long boat with the late Frank Love and Same Surre.
I actually met Dave when I joined the prestigious outdoor Writers Association of American (OWAA). This is both a national and international association for outdoor writers and photographers comprised of many of the best in the business.
   After receiving my acceptance letter from OWAA, I received a very personal letter from Dave Richey welcoming me to the organization, pointing out the benefits of being a member, explaining it's history and how it came to be, and some personal information about himself.
   He closed by offering to be of any help to me he could be at any time, then again welcomed me to the organization.
   In later years, Dave's eyesight began to get real bad keeping him from doing all the outdoors things he enjoyed.
   That didn't stop him from being a speaker at the annual Woods N' Water Outdoors Show in Imlay City.
   For years, I would introduce the speakers and their topics, give a little biography to the crowd then step aside for the seminar.
   One year Dave showed up on time but couldn't remember what he was supposed to talk about. Not deterred, he pulled a chair up in the middle of the crowd an asked, "What would you like to have me talk about?"
   From then on it was quite a question and answer program with Dave spinning many of his stories as different topics came up.
   His admonition to me one that "I'm in the field every day," was over. Like many of us that knew him personally, we'll surely miss him. Enjoy the peace I'm sure you'll find.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Local parks offer plenty to do

   From disc golf to BMX, fishing, canoeing, biking, hiking, swimming, camping, bird watching, roller blading, and about anything else you can think of is available in area state parks and recreation areas.
   Add in the ever evolving Oakland County Park system and Huron-Clinton Metro Parks and the decision isn't going to be I don't know what to do, rather, what will I do?
   There is so many activities to choose from, the choices are overwhelming. For instance, if you want to camp but think you need a luxurious motorhome or travel trailer, think again.
   Holly Recreation Area and Groveland Oaks-to name two parks-offer "primitive" camping. Primitive meaning there is no electrical or water hook ups on these sites.
   This is where the tent campers gather. They sleep on the ground or on cots, live out of their tent for a few days and enjoy simple things like sitting around a campfire at night.
   For a little light adventure, rent a canoe and take a trip on the Huron River near Proud Lake out of Heavner Canoe Livery.
   They've been in business since before I was a kid. If you have your own canoe or kayak, Heavner's will allow you access to their launch. Call Heavner, (248) 685-2379 for more information.
   Get outdoors. The choices are there for you to make.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dad's day-take time to enjoy being with your

   Sunday is father's day. Most of us will hand dad a shirt or necktie he doesn't need and probably won't ever wear.
   But the real importance of this day is spending time with your father. Whether you throw the baseball around, play golf or just sit around in the backyard and enjoy each other's company.
   You'll never know how much your father means to you until you lose him. My dad has been gone 23 years and I still think of him every day.
   Father's day used to be difficult for me to get through because of all the memories. But that's what we're left with is plenty of memories.
   Some of them funnier than others, but it's really all we have left. That and some pictures and perhaps a few odds and ends that were left to us.
   So if your dad is still with you, be sure and spend some time with him not only Sunday, but every other day you have a chance.
   Someday you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Backyards made for more than cooking out

   Every summer, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) promotes camping by encouraging families to pitch a tent in their back yard.
   When you think about it, it's a pretty good idea. Those new to camping won't have far to go in case of    a storm that my erupt during the night. The same is true with restroom facilities.
   And if you don't care to cook breakfast outdoors, the kitchen is just a few steps away. You don't even need the ice chest. Just use the fridge and everything will stay cold.
   But cooking over a fire is all part of camping. If you can work the two in, you're in for a great experience. It can be as simple as hot dogs or burgers, or more elaborate like marinated steak or chicken.
   The event across the country is set for June 22. But really, anytime is a good time to pitch the tent and roll out a sleeping bag.  

   For more information visit www.backyardcampout.org and www.nwf.org. Staying home and setting up camp in the yard can be fun. And if you have little ones, so much better the adventure.











Monday, June 3, 2013

Critters are alive and well even in your yard


   Probably due to the loss of habitat we're seeing more wildlife in and around our yards. We have a pheasant, some wild turkeys, an occasional deer or two, and rabbits galore, come through our yard from time to time.
   While our bird population doesn't seem to have changed; we are still seeing robins, finches, sparrows, blue jays and cardinals.
   It's the latter bird, a pair of cardinals, that holds our attention every day. The male bird always sits nearby as his female partner goes to work.
   From sunrise to dusk, the female cardinal pounds on our glass door wall. Once she tires of the door wall, she and her male companion fly around to the front of our house whee she starts attacking one of our bedroom windows.
   Sometime later she'll move over to our bay window, pick her favorite side and begin attacking it. At first we thought she was seeing something in the house that was attracting her.
   She just doesn't peck at the windows.
   Rather she flies head on into them with both her beak and head making contact about the same time with the window.  As soon as one charge is over she begins another.
   This goes on all day long and is very loud. In fact, she hits the windows so hard we first thought she had injured herself.
   Checking with Cornell Lab of Ornithology they agree that she sees her reflection and think that represents an intruder.
   If you have a similar problem visit www.allaboutbirds.org and scroll down to "Why birds attack windows."
   Several suggestions are offered to prevent this from happening or from birds injuring themselves. Two of the three species mentioned that use this behavior to defend nearby nests are cardinals and robins.
   See this Sunday's Oakland Press for more information on bird strikes.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Tie one on; a bait that is

   Ask anyone that fishes and chances are you'll come up with a different way to tie a bait on to go fishing.
   In fact, growing up on Lloyds Bayou in Spring Lake that's what we used to do. Grab a Dardevl or Johnson Silver Minnow, tie it direct to our line and go fishing. We did the same thing when mono or what we used to call cat gut came on the scene.
   Now you have baits that anglers feel should be tied directly to the main line. Some think a barrel swivel and a leader should be added to prevent line twist while others believe in cross locks.
   Because we're coming up on slower fishing, many will be throwing worms. This requires a different way to tie things on.
   Personally, if I'm using a large worm hook I'll tie directly to the hook, thread the worm on the hooks bend, tuck the hook point just under the worm and throw it.
   This method of fishing is slow and one that requires feel. It takes a moment or two for the bait to get to the bottom before you can start working it.
   Because it's rigged weedless or Texas style chances of hanging up are pretty slim. This kind of fishing needs to be worked very slowly with pauses every now and then.
   The other style I like is wacky worm fishing. You don't hear it talked about lately but believe me, it catches fish.
   Using a small circle hook, I'll hook about a four-inch worm in the center so the worm dangles off each side of the hook. Give that a toss and let it work it's way down and see what happens.
   You can buy wacky rubber gaskets that slip over the worm. The hook goes under the gasket or keeper and helps save the worm from getting torn up too quickly.
   Give 'em a try. One is bound to work for you.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fishing baits-tie direct or use hardware?

   This question must be nearly as old as fishing itself. Except in the very early days, they didn't have cross locks or swivels to tie to leaders and eventually to that piece of bone they were throwing.
   I'm far from an expert when it comes to answering some of these questions. Most of my answers come from hanging around with Kevin VaDam (or at least reading one of his books!) fishing with Lance Valentine, Bill McElroy or John Miniaci.
   All of these guys have lots of water under the transom and know what they are talking about when it comes to the "how to" bit on fishing.
   But here's my take. Ice fishing with Mark Martin has taught me to tie a jig direct to the mainline. The exception is when you some of the Rapala baits and jigging spoons.
   Just about anyone I know ties spinnerbaits direct to the main line. I've seen some manufactured with eyes to either tie direct to or add a snap. I like the direct method the best.
   Topwaters, cranks or jerkbaits get my vote for snaps. Having said all of this, it can get a little tricky when you are throwing hardware to spin in the water.
   Here you'll want a barrel swivel, leader, snap then the bait. Spoons come to mind for this type of fishing.
   So what's your choice, tie or not to tie? Experiment, read and talk to others. Before you know it you'll come up with your own method.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Free Fishing weekend-Best deal since sliced bread

   Better than sliced bread or a nickel cup of coffee are the two Free Fishing Weekends that Michigan's Department of Natural Resources promotes each year.
   Their idea is to introduce more people to the sport of fishing, thereby possibly attracting newcomers to the sport.
    Dates this summer are June 8 and 9, statewide. Anyone-residents and non-residents-can fish without a license but must comply with all other fishing regulations.

   Michigan has been celebrating the Summer Free Fishing Weekend annually since 1986 as a way to promote awareness of the state's vast water resources.
   With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, fishing and Michigan go hand-in-hand.
   "This summer’s Free Fishing Weekend is a great way to get outdoors and experience some of the best freshwater fishing in the world," said DNR Director Keith Creagh. "There’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved, as it’s an inexpensive activity and readily accessible – so get out this June and try it yourself, for free!"
   If you don't have the equipment try borrowing some from a neighbor, friend or relative. There's  good chance someone that already fishes just might invite you along to give it a try. Good luck!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kayaking fishing popularity holds it's own

   Anytime a kayak angler pulls up to a boat ramp and starts the process of unloading, a group of curious bystanders show up. That's great. The more that are interested and ask questions, the better for the sport.
   Getting the yak ready to go in the water is different then backing your Lund or Ranger into the ramp.
   First of all, these app-species boats are usually loaded to the hilt with every bit of conceivable gear you can image.
   No trips to the truck for rods, tacks, pfd's coolers, fish finders or anything else that is fishing related. It's already loaded and ready to go.
   So are the clothes, Fowl weather gear, rain sues, sweat shirts and boots all have their place and whether they are used or not, they are there just in case.
   But with limited space on a kayak you have to pick and choose what you're going to take on a particular trip.
   Tackle is always a problem for me. I go through it all and think I better take this just in case. Or with plastics, maybe some creature baits, worms and smaller stuff like Berkley Gulp minnows.
   I haven't even gotten to rods and reels, bug dope, snacks, and spare clothing in case the weather change.
   Am I going to be out at night? Then I need to take my stern light along so other boats will be able to see me.
   Keeping things dry and accessible is another thing you need to plan on. This is what makes the sport so much fun.
   All the tinkering that goes on in garages in preparation for the net trip. When you hit the water you might see someone with six or eight rods on his boat.
   For someone like me two is usually about right. One final thing to think about is how far is it to the water from where you drop your boat?
   If it's a public launch, no problem. But if you have to go through grass and sand to get to where you're going, a boat cart is going o be essential.
   See it never ends. In fact my wife just asked me if I needed this tackle bag in the living room. Of course I do. I'm, going through a little reorganization!

Protect your eyes-wear good sunglassesg

   This Sunday, I wrote about kayaking and that it was an activity that senior citizens could enjoy without costing an arm and a leg.
   One piece of equipment that is a necessity whether on the water or hiking a trail is good eye protection. The powerful rays of the sun can do damage to eyes that are not protected.
   Watch Prince Fielder or Magglio Ordonez take the field. Even with apparent low light visibility, you'll notice they all wear sunglasses of some sort.
   The next Bassmaster event or pro walleye tournament, the anglers fishing would no more think of leaving the dock without shades as they would head for open water leaving rods at the launch.
   Guideline Eyegear are polarized-100% UVA and UVB protection. Plus, frames are constructed from 54% bio based (castor bean) polymer material.
   But enough of the numbers and scientific talk. I have a pair and was able to give them a test while kayak fishing.
   They were wonderful; lightweight and gave me that ability to see through the surface to a point underneath like other glasses do. As soon as I got to the ramp, they went in a case then a pocket on my vest.
   If you purchase a pair be sure and get a pair of croakies, those neck lanyards that attach to glasses. You never know when you might take a swim and loose a good pair of glasses.
   For more information visit www.guidelinedirect.com.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Health issues-keeping my otherwise busy

   Dealing with cancer, or in my case, bladder cancer is almost a daily challenge. For instance, I've been to three different doctors all with their own approach to my problem. I could go to 33 and get that many more opinions.
   Then there are the daily aches, new pains, just small things that make you wonder is this thing moving around in there?
    It really plays mind games with you. Fortunately my wife is very understanding and friends are too. I don't think you really know what one goes through unless you have it.
   Anyway, I digress. University of Michigan bladder oncology was highly recommended. So off we went last week with all of my records and to meet a new doctor.
   I begin chemo next week for six weeks, then three weeks off before resuming chemo for another three weeks.
   I've been told that the reaction to this are flu-like systems and the feeling of being extremely tired for a couple of days.
   I guess I'll find out sooner than later. In the meantime, stay healthy.