Thursday, September 29, 2005

Back to reality

Yes, it's been awhile since I've last posted.

I came back from what will most likely be my last bear hunt for 2005 early Monday, Sept. 26. It was after 5 a.m., actually. Tough drive. Driving rain followed me from Curtis, in Mackinac County, Michigan, all the way to my home county of St. Clair. Felt like I was hydroplaning most of the time in the soggy, pitch-black night.

Earlier on Sunday evening of Sept. 25, I went on what has to be my greatest hunting gig to date.

Even without scoring a bear, you ask?


I had to boat across the South Manistique Lake to a secluded bay, where the outfitter had baited treestand.

It became more of a confidence course for me. Especially after my guide for this day's hunt, John, told me of how the original owner of Sherman's Resort was startled by a bear one time a few years ago while going into bait the site. He surprised the giant in waist-high ferns close to the shore, and the bruin reared up on him. The only thing that saved the old-timer was a swift swing of an ax to the bear's skull. It skulked away into the woods but not before shaking off the ax head near the stand.

Felt good about what would most likely be my last chance at a bear -- at least on this trip. Was shown some pics the night before my hunt from a trail camera that had been taken earlier in the year. A couple of real beauts were hitting the site on film. Looked like they went 350 or more. What became more of the story for later, was the times on those pics. Taken around 11:30 p.m. Nocturnal munchers, as they are primarily, I knew it would be a matter of whether they came in at legal shooting time.

So, once consumed with this information, I was on full-auto alert while on stand and when climbing down the ladder in the darkness. My muzzleloader was capped and ready to rap as I walked to the boat. But it never came to that.

Can't really say why I wasn't one of the hundreds of lucky tagged out bear hunters other than that's hunting. All I can do is try again next year. Or the year after, since it took me six years of applying in Michigan's lottery before I received a permit.

Today was more of a customary hunt for me. A woodcock hunt on public land near my house with my longtime companion, a springer spaniel named Henry. Hard to believe after nearly 12 years of slogging through the woods together that he was not the first four-legged choice for today.

I recently came into an English pointer -- formerly named "Tank" and who is now known as "Hank the Almighty Tank." See, I may possibly hunt with the former kennel owner and I don't want to totally offend him. But Tank ... eh, just wasn't working for me. The name Hank is just a good fit: he's the next generation, and Hank is short for Henry. It also sounds like Tank and won't confuse him.

It was highly suggested by the former owner that I get a shock collar for my rookie canine. Once I got the mood-altering neck hardware home, I read in the directions how it needed to be charged 14 hours before being used. Hank, I thought to myself, you're benched.

And the first advantage of having two dogs was notched. Henry, today is your lucky day. You're walking point for the first bird hunt of the year. (Shhhhh. Don't tell him he probably never knew he was second in line for today's hunt.)

The conditions weren't optimal for an 11-year-old dog wearing a little pen rust. Windy and hot, making the scent blow in all directions.

We did get one flush in an hour and a half. A total knuckleball that I shot behind twice. Unbelievable. That's the thing about woodcock: they don't jet out like charged lightning as does a grouse. One time they may go straight up like a flying saucer whistling madly. Next they might flap 15 yards, then drop to the ferns. Or like he did today, quietly glide through the popple scrub brush as if he were tiptoeing down the backsteps. Hence, their nickname, the timberdoodle. Yeah, he timberdoodled my ass, right into a shooting lullaby.

For today he did, yet, the season is young.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home