Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holiday for hunters

Happy rut to you.

This time right now -- end of October to the first two weeks of November -- is almost a holiday for us crazy bowhunters. Many of us will plan our vacations to coincide with the rut.

It is when Mr. Big Buck is most vulnerable. Largely reclusive and nocturnal, he has no choice but to seek and find a willing mate. So out of his shadowy confines he comes, may it be a dark unnavigable swamp or a thicket so dense only mouse could slip within its center.

It is amazing to me how I'll be going through the motions out in the woods for most of October until it hits, and boom, I'm stoked.

Even what might fall under the description of "lesser hunts," such as a pheasant hunt, is not as appealing as being 20-feet high in a tree, bow in hand with the potential shot at the giant antlered one.

Which is what happened to me tonight. I was planning a "lesser hunt" for Sunday, Oct. 28, with a friend of mine -- who shall remain nameless -- and I got let off the hook. I mean I wanted to go and all for the dog and a chance to add to the bird I nailed last weekend but the allure of the rut kept pulling at me.

It was purely unintentional when I asked my friend's wife over the phone if she knew if her husband and I "were on for Sunday."

Later at work it began to sink in. She's going to put the damper down on this whole pheasant deal, I thought to myself.

And when his email came through a couple of hours later confirming my suspicions, I felt like a mystic.

I felt badly for him but now I was full-bore set on hitting the buck woods, and made the arrangements to do so.

After a couple weeks of running ragged from mandatory work training to watching kids to actually hunting, this gig is perfect.

I've been so busy I've hardly time to put entries in this blog or in the hunting magazine, another concern of mine.

But I'm not a total loss for I've been journaling the old-fashioned way.

Two of the excerpts from that journal are of a deer hunt aptly titled, "Notes from a Michigan bow hunt," and the other, "Pheasant shocker."

A couple of the best lines from the later, a Sanilac County outing, are as follows:

"Here's the thing about bow hunting: Just when you think should be bird hunting 'cause you're knocking everything down you're pointing the gun at, that extra day spent instead in the tree stand is the time Mr. Big appears ...

"I've found over the 14 years of bow hunting whitetails that I get at least two quality opportunities on bucks in a season. And depending on how good of a spot it is, I may get three to five chances ...

"The key is what I do with those scenarios."

Moving on to the "Pheasant shocker," what is the real surprise is the number of awesome opportunities our party had patrolling the Ingham County fields for roosters:

"I never thought when we began our Oct. 20 opening day pheasant hunt in Michigan that we'd end the day with 21 flushes in three hours. ...

"For a moment, I just stood there with my mouth hanging open hoping Walt would see the bird. But he didn't despite me then jumping up and down shouting, 'On your left, bird on your left.' ...

"But ... you must shake those missed opportunities because they'll interfere with next ones you may get ... And more we got. Plenty more."

To find out how the story ends and to see photos, you'll have to log on to

That's enough from me. I need some rest for my buck hunt tomorrow. Or is it today? I can't think anymore.

Good night.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What happened (abridged)

I'm back from my Upper Peninsula Michigan bear hunt, and it was everything it was advertised to be with spectacular and breathtaking views to go along with the relaxed and dreamlike pace. Just what a stressed-out journalist and father of four needed.

All as advertised yet I'm bear-less once more. But there never is a guarantee hunting, except when shooting at ducks in a barrel like those fenced-in plantation hunts.

I did learn a bunch, such as what equipment is a must have in the back bear woods and how bear behave.

And I also found out if you tell your guide you don't mind going to the more secluded hunting sites "because you never get to use your quad," you will get exactly that. I mean way back.

So after the three more tries this season, that makes it a total of nine times over two different seasons I've been on stand for bear and yet to have one walk in.

Bear guide Dan Patrick of Bear Paw Inn in Michigamme assures me "it's just a matter of time."

(To read the complete bear hunting article along with pictures of Mac in the stand, log on to

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Revise to itinerary

Some of my readers may be a tad confused as far as my hunting travels go these days.

I was supposed to head off to the great Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a bear hunt at the end of September and first of October, but because of the wife's work schedule I could not go until now, which is the weekend of Oct. 5-7.

Just as well since the temperatures have a better chance of being more conducive for bear the later it goes. Yet I still hear how the temperatures are going to be in the 70s and 80s. Not really what I wanted.

So the revised itinerary is as follows:

Sept.: Woodcock in Gladwin County, Michigan, shotgun. (Been there, done that.)

Oct.: Bear in Baraga County, Michigan, muzzleloader.

Most of the other hunts are still on except for the December grouse hunt in West Virginia, which is now iffy.

And with that, I'm off to the Upper Peninsula.

The target time for the first hunt is 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. I'm just leaving work now in Macomb County at a little before 2 a.m.

A little too much wishful thinking? We shall see. But even as I've notched my 44th birthday ... today, actually, I can still drive hard like the old days. A talent I picked up from many long nights in the mechanized infantry.

The first goal is to hit the "Big Mac" around 7 a.m. Take a little snooze and finish the rest of the drive in good order so I can check in and still have time to load up with plenty of time for the hunt without rushing about like a madman. Probably will happen anyway.

So pray for save driving and look for the next hunting report on my bear trip in a week or so. With pictures even in the hunting mag at