Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tomorrow morning

Tomorrow morning I will be walking on sacred hunting ground in Gladwin County in search of woodcock and grouse with my new star player, Rusty.

The mixed Lab most likely will not perform up to standards but he is barely 6 months old. I need to accept that and be grateful for any progress he does show.

On the Michigan small game opener, Sept. 15, he would only occasionally budge from my heels and explore the forest floor.

I hope to see him extend that distance at least five more yards. If he does that much, I'm likely to see action. Really, I'm likely to see action regardless, this Gladwin County public land spot is just that awesome. Especially at this time of year -- the end of September.

Routinely over the years, I have grown accustomed to flush counts in the 20s over two- to four-hour periods.

Of course, I also had a full-on working springer spaniel as my point man, who would stop at nothing to make sure all grape tangles were thoroughly covered.

Yep, Henry, will be a tough act to follow.

Rusty may never get there but if he can jump into his paws in just the slightest measure it would do this hunter good.

At least the impetus is there, this was the land where Henry once roamed.

* * *

Over the four-day early doe season from Sept. 18-22, I was able to bring in a nice milker. She was so big, I had a hard time loading her into the truck bed. Ended up having to take off the tailgate because her chest kept hanging up on it.

The bigger story is where it happened: a dairy farm in Sanilac County.

The whole time I was sitting there on Friday and Sunday I could hardly believe my change in fortune.

I can hunt here along this woods smack in the middle of endless corn and a wide-open hay field that the deer seemed drawn to once the sun begins to set.


Apparently, I took the former family property in the same county for granted.

But I won't this time.

I would like to say I was dogged in search of a new place to hunt but it really wasn't the case. True, I did knock on a couple of doors. Even came back to this homestead after not hearing back from them for a week, but it wasn't that enduring of a search.

And now for this archery season and hopefully, beyond, I'm blessed with a great spot to deer hunt.

(For more pictures on this deer hunt and other deer hunting articles, log on to

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Season is upon us

Rusty, a mixed Lab, waits on point from the goose blind in St. Clair County, Michigan.

I've been out four times for geese and once for grouse since the early goose season commenced Sept. 1 and yet to zing lead or steel downrange.

The small game season opened Sept. 15 here in Michigan.

As the new hopeful star player nudges my leg with his cold, wet nose while I write this in the Clyde Township man cave, I'm wondering when the light will go on for him. For us.

We just finished our nightly walk around the path in our back woods which I've strategically marked with reflective tacks.

Now I sit down to rap out a few graphs about the five outings and can say only, "It's early."

Early in the season and early for the dog.

He minds well and has a heart of gold, but remains locked on my heels in the grouse and woodcock cover.

Being he is only 5 months old, I know, I'm being a trifle impatient.

If he were to stick close and merely venture out another five yards around me while on patrol, I would be fairly happy. It would take some getting used to after 14 years with a highly rangy and sometimes aloof springer.

Many times I would be ready to blow a gasket when I would watch Henry blow through cover without the trailing gun corps in range.

So what I'm saying is there is a give and take between a rangy dog and a close one, and I'm learning.

Now, this is not to say he won't fire up at some point, but I'm keeping my expectations fairly low. While he is of the mixed lab genetics, he also came at the discount price.

Regardless, if we fail to flush or down a bird this fall, at least we'll look the part. He certainly is made up with nice Lab features.

We'll dazzle the game birds to death.

(Look for Mac's Deer Hunting Goals on