Friday, June 30, 2017

Too bad man's best friend doesn't outlive us

Its been about five weeks when I awoke to find Molly, out eight-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying at the foot end of the bed, her usual nightly position.
This time, her last sleep would be with me. Sometime during the night she died. Over the past few months she was having painful bowel movements along with weight loss.
Friday night I noticed excessive panting and could see how much weight she had lost. Cavalier's are the friendliest dog on the planet. As our son Matt often said, "She doesn't have a mean bone in her body."
From the time she woke up until lights out at night her tail was wagging. She was thrilled to get her ears scratched by anyone and even more excited if you let her up on your lap.
In fact the term lap dog could have originated with this breed. If she was curled up with me in my recliner she was with my wife enjoying the comforts of being close to those who cared for her.
Upon hearing of such a sad loss people often ask if you'll get another. In our case the answer is no. We've had several dogs that had to be put to sleep for one reason or another.
The loss tears your heart out. It's like a funeral parlor here at our house. Neither of us has fully come to grips with her passing and allowed ourselves a very good and hard cry.
At our age along with some physical limitations showing up, a dog is another worry, a responsibility that we don't think we can adequately care for at this stage in our lives.
The issue for us is we feel she is still with us. We expect her to come bounding into the family room or bounce up on the bed.
When I get up in the morning I'm tempted to ask my wife where is Molly. There are just too many reminders of a darling little dog who meant no harm to anyone or anything. That wanted nothing more than to be loved, fed and kept warm.
We feel we made a great home for her. But at night, when it's dark and we say our prayers, somewhere out of a deep recess within us comes the question, do you think you did all you could do?
I've written too many stories on this subject to be writing another. Yet here I am trying to organize my thoughts so you will understand the pain we all feel when we lose something or someone so close to us.
The days go by but don't get any easier. Indeed, more remembrances of her short life keep showing up on the front burner of what passes for life.
When told of Mollie's passing our two grandchildren in England-Ewan, six and his sister Lily, 5-remarked that they would have to say goodbye to her when they get here this summer.
Molls, we miss you with all of our being.

Our cute Molly, the best dog we ever had.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

In either good or deteriorating health, find a way to enjoy life

My most sincere and humble apologies to those that take time to read my blogs and my outdoor columns when they were appearing in “The Oakland Press.” I believe an explanation is necessary that have wondered what on earth happened to me or where did I go.
I’m still here in Davisburg trying to eek out a column or blog as time permits. I’m finding that as I grow older I move slower, can’t accomplish as much as I did a few years ago and have some added responsibilities to deal with.
Parkinson’s Disease has entered our lives. My wife was diagnosed about three years ago with what was then was termed a minor case.
She has no tremors but her balance is the thing that has affected her to the point that she must use a walker.
I can’t imagine what thoughts go through her beautiful head on a daily basis. There are things she is enjoys doing like cooking that she is limited in doing.
Riding in the car is a challenge. She is afraid of the rain and snow.
Taking the freeway is out of the question. All this from a person who loved to travel, camp, fish, and was up for pretty much everything. Now she goes several months without leaving the house.
The trips I used to take, some overnight, are a thing of the past. I’m afraid to leave her alone in the event she has a fall.  I try to do things close to home, sometimes leaving before daylight so I can be back the same afternoon.
If the trip is too far or for some reason I don’t feel comfortable doing it I don’t go. Pat insists I do these things and that she’ll be all right. But as soon as I hit the freeway that worry sets in.
So these days I stay close to home. Working in the yard, trying to shop and figure out meals, doing as much house keeping as I can, and in my clumsy way, caring for someone who has given me so much and the most beautiful life I wouldn’t have enjoyed without her are priorities.
I was moved to mention all of this today due to a fall she had this morning. This is the fifth time she’s fallen and not broken anything. We were both in the bathroom trying to get it ready to paint when I accidentally backed into her hardly touching her. She went down hard.
My neighbor fortunately was home and came over to help me get her up. Falls seem to pop up out of the blue. That’s why sticking close to home is important to me.
We’ve been through a few rough spots the past several years. We’ve known cancer, now are experiencing this disease.
I don’t write this for sympathy. All I have to do is look around and can see people in far worse circumstances than we are.
We’re blessed to have each other. I’m further blessed to be able to provide a role as caregiver. Pat deserves all of the help and comfort she can get. She deserves it after all the care she’s shown people over the years.
Hold your loved ones close. Remember there isn’t such a thing as ever doing too much for them. Stay positive and pray for patience.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kayak equipment has become popular

In the not too-distant-past, fittings and accessories were about as scarce as hen's teeth. With the popularity of this ever growing sport, accessories and ways to install them is about as popular as the kayaks themselves.
Take something as simple as a rod holder. I confess that it took me a couple of years to add Scotty rod holders. Scotty, in my opinion is a leader is the rod holder industry because of the portability of it's products and adaptability.
Portability comes about with the was a rod holder can be moved, turned or even taken off. Adaptability has to do with various configurations that can make that rod holder taller, have the ability with one holder to accept both spinning and baitcast equipment and  ease in permanent or the more popular trac mounting.
The Scotty mount is the key to the rod holders, multiple rod holders, extenders and other accessories.
Propulsion of a kayak is done by paddle or pedal. Sometimes some trolling motors or other mechanical devices may be used to move a kayak through the water.
Paddles, probably the main type of equipment to propel a kayak have changed. They used to be and still are available not much more than a straight shaft with a paddle attached to either end.
These days paddles come in different shapes and sizes. Probably the crankshaft or bent shaft models are the most popular.
Paddle shafts are still made from wood, however, the most in use these days are made from a variety of materials like aluminum, graphite and other products. The goal is to keep everything as light as possible while keeping equipment strong.
Pedal style kayaks have graduated to one brand practically having the market to several others beginning to develop pedals as part of their respective lines.
Purchasing a new kayak these days is all about choices. Where and how will you use your boat? Is it going to be used primarily in small, inland waters, perhaps rivers or on larger lakes such as one of the Great Lakes.
Price range has more to do with comes on the boat that anything else. Lower end boats will have some kind of seat back but no bottom for the seat. Try riding in that for several hours while fishing a tournament.
Seats come in a variety of sizes, styles and comfort that should fit the needs at any angler. Those rod holders are add on's or "mods" as in modifications. These days, some yaks come with factory installed, flush deck mounted rod holders.
Storage space on a kayak is precious real estate. How much will you require? Kayak brands of boats all differ on what is offered for storage. Some is meager while others provide enough to carry everything in your garage.
Weight and stability are high up on the shoppers list. Generally, the wider the boat the more stable. But you pay a price for width in the form of weight. Consider that if you are a car topper and have to load and unload alone.
There are enough kayakers on nearby waters for you to find one and ask the owner/operator any question that comes to mind.
Do your homework and paddle before you buy. And remember, there are many different accessories to make your kayaking trip more enjoyable and comfortable.
Roger Beukema in Scotty rigged kayak.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Safari Club Flint Chapter, thanks for the honor

This past Saturday I was the guest of the Flint Chapter of Safari Club International at the chapter's 35th annual wild game dinner and fundraiser.
The reason for my invitation was to be recognized as that chapter's "Media Person of The Year."
This recognition and award came about through the recommendation of chapter Education Director, Tim Pifher.
Tim is much more than a director. He's been involved in the outdoors for as long as I've known him-some 40 years-and especially when it comes from making outdoor activities accessible to all people regardless of their physical condition.
Tim knows of what he speaks. He was born with cerebral palsy which basically leaves him very little strength in his extremities along with other issues.
With all of the physical hurdles to get over, Tim has never wavered in his pursuit to get disabled people outdoors hunting, fishing, skiing, or doing whatever sport they enjoy.
We served together on the board of "Outdoors Forever," a all-volunteer group dedicated to accessibility. During those years, we fought and introduced legislation that was in favor of such things as fishing piers for wheelchairs, accessibility in the woods for deer hunters and modifications in the equipment used for these and other activities.
While I've continued to write about the disabled in the outdoors from time to time, Tim continues to speak at functions, work on legislation and educating the public.
Any awards for service to mankind should come to Tim Pifher. He's gone above and beyond working to improve these conditions and carry on the founder of ODF, the late Roger McCarville.
Thanks for thinking of me, Tim.
L-R Dennis Peters, Roger Beukema and John Kupiec, by Beukema

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sometimes smaller is jus right

My choice of equipment hasn't always been good. I always tend to go with smaller. Shorter rods, smaller baits, shorter kayak, less powerful gun for hunting and so forth. I try to minimize what I take with me.
I'll often fish with line too light for the bait i'm throwing, the place i'm fishing or the species I'm after.
What made me think of this was a recent post on the Facebook page of Michigan Kayak Fishing. Someone inquired as to how many rods and how much tackle people took on the water with them.
Keep in mind, space is very limited on a kayak. Most people convert a milk crate or some other similar sized container to store their bait trays, attach rod holders to and maybe put their lunch in.
Ive seen kayakers and talked with many that wouldn't go on the water with at least nine rods. Where they put them, I have idea. Having said that, I have seen yaks bristling like a shocked porcupine with so many rods sticking up around the aforementioned crate.
Some people carry all the tackle they own. One guy wrote he fished for years with one rod and zip lock bag with his lures and plastics.
Ive been all over the map carrying a large tackle bag loaded to almost being unable to close, and more rods than I could use in a day.
Lets face it. Once you get on the water you're only going to use a half-dozen baits is a day of fishing. Same for rods. Some argue they like to pre-rig rods with baits they intend to use so they don't waste time tying them on. They must be some serious anglers.
I use the time to change lures as a chance to stretch, perhaps change positions, grab a snack or drink of water and most import, enjoy the day. The fish will be there.
My equipment list is short. Two spinning rods and one bait casting, two Plano 3640 boxes, a small box for terminal tackle usually my vest and tools that I carry on a lanyard around my neck.
My kayak is smaller than most. It's a Wilderness Systems Ride 115 that is just a shade over ten-feet. Thinking I would be able to load and unload it easier by myself and because I fish many inland lakes I think I made the right choice.
In the past I've had several Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120's. They are a couple of feet longer and take a little heavier weather better than my Ride.
I do use a regular size paddle (for me) but I carry a 24-inch Assualt paddle for maneuvering while fishing.
What you carry with you in the field or on the water is a personal choice. But bigger isn't necessarily better.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Like an elevator weather goes up and down

So far this winter, there can't be too many complaints about our weather around SE Michigan. Cross country skiers will have to go north of Standish to find any decent skiing, and ice anglers probably a bit further.
But those that detest shoveling snow or getting the snow blower out don't have a lot of squawk about. How about living in southern California this past week?
This part of the country has been inundated with rain, turning streets into rivers with sinkholes, and dried up rivers overflowing banks and dams.
Consider California hasn't seen any rain to speak of for several years, it looks like they will get that much and more in a couple of days. What they need is a nice shower over a week or more. These downpours created more problems in the form of mudslides, stranded motorists and many citizens needing to be relocated.
Around here we get our paybacks too. The weather folks say the next week will be above normal temperatures.
But down the road when we think we've ducked winter for a year, the next big snowfall will change all of that thinking.
Mother Nature doesn't give a whit about those spring flowers poking their pretty, colorful heads up through cold, wet soil.
Ww could experience freezing cold days along with heavy snow even in early spring just when the garden is calling us to till the soil in preparation to plant some seeds.
I think local anglers have given up on ice fishing and are putting their efforts in to getting boats and equipment ready for open water.
Kayak friends are chomping at the bit to slide their yaks into local lakes to try out those new square bill crank baits Santa left for them in their stockings.
But like all good things, patience is key. It's going to take a bit more time for local lakes to unlock what ice is left making waters fishable for another year.
If you haven't given in on not ice fishing anymore this year, better pack it up. There definitely is no such thing as safe ice.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Why kayak tournament fish for bass

Why not, indeed. First, you have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests and it's not necessarily competition.
However, it is about fishing water for bass, pike, panfish or anything else you care to hook into. 
-It's about adhering strictly to safety when on the water. That means wearing your PFD, carrying a first aid kit, mirror or while for signaling, and some sort of direction finder to get you back to the launch.
-It's about what others take on the water for fishing. Some roll up with an entire Bass Pro loaded into their boats. There are rods for this and that, line for this kind of weather, doubles on baits in case one gets lots and so forth.
-You learn how to secure everything in the event you roll over or "turtle." As you plan to lay your equipment out remember everything needs to be somehow secured to the boat or made to float.
-You'll see some boats outfitted with enough electronics to land a 757 at Metro Airport in zero visibility. Others sport no electronics, rather depending on lake area maps and satellite views.
-What baits to use when and where? Some go without saying: dark barks on overcast days and lighter colors on sunny days. It actually comes down to what your are comfortable with.
-Which rod do you use? The one you are the most comfortable. I throw bait casters and spinning but prefer spinning gear on a yak. It probably has something to do with sitting so close to the water.
-Clothing is always an issue. In the summer, wear something on your feet. Crocks, tennis shoes or other water shoes protect your feet in the event you need to get out of your boat for whatever reason. Around the ramp, foot coverings are essential due to rocks, discarded cans broken bottles and the like. In the boat, I sometimes slip my crocks off for a bit. But I keep that cockpit picked up with no loose plugs or hooks lying about.
-Finally, you're sure to have more questions than answers if you are a beginner. Check out Michigan Kayak Trail or Michigan Kayak Fishing on Facebook. Google kayak fishing or for specific questions about equipment head for You Tube.
With launch day about six weeks off now is a good time to do your homework, ask questions and be prepared for that first trip.
Spring on Otsego Lake. Note the Frogg Togg pants, crocks, long sleeve shirt and PFD. By Beukema