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.