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
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.