Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turkey talk with guv and Nuge

MAHFS photo by Zac Arnold
In between shots on the back balcony of my favorite archery practice range.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

I understand that everyone's favorite Michigan rocker and outdoorsman Ted Nugent stopped by Gov. Rick Snyder's office Thursday to discuss a couple of hunting regulations he would like lifted in the Great Lakes State.

The two regs most prominently in question by Nugent were the need for a license to hunt wild turkeys and the requirement to keep a hunting bow in a zipped case during transport.

I can say for myself the turkey requirements that bug me most are having to put into a spring lottery to draw a tag and then having a restriction on where I can hunt.

It burns my hide that for the hunt I usually choose -- Hunt 234 -- which runs from May 2 to May 31 this season -- I can't hunt the public land that's practically right across the street from me.


And if I do want to hunt public land for turkeys, I have to travel at least an hour or more north of the designated Unit ZZ line that goes through the middle of the state.


I'm fairly certain the reason for this is because Michigan holds a large contingent of hunters and the Department of Natural Resources is worried hunters would be bumping into one another on state lands.

However, if this is the case, I say rubbish because Pennsylvania, a state I've hunted in years gone by has a comparable amount of hunters and has no such restriction, and as far as I have experienced -- no problems.

I can walk into a Pa. Wally's World, ask for a spring turkey tag, pay the required amount, get the tag and head to any public land spot open to turkey hunting in the state and have at it.

Same in West Virginia, another state I've hunted over the years, which also has quite a few spring turkey hunters.

No restrictions. No hassles.

When I've brought this up to DNR officials, I've gotten a response something to the effect -- "Oh, there are plenty of farmers and private land owners who would let you or even want you to shoot turkeys off their land."

OK, well maybe I don't have the time or money to go looking up and down the state to find a place to hunt the dirty birds on private land this time around. And besides, who pays for our public land anyway?

I do, you do, hunters do, that's who.

Michigan needs to get with it and quit harassing its hunters in the name of fabricated potential problems.

As far as the license goes, I don't mind this aspect half as much, although as we all know free is better. But yank the lottery aspect of it.

Seems like it would also be a cost saver just having one tag to cover one time period, say for instance, the last Saturday in April to the last Saturday in May.

With compounds and crossbows, having them cased in or on vehicles to include ATVs while traveling on roads to and from hunting locations, is OK with me I suppose. I see this as way to help prevent poaching from vehicles.

Recurves and long bows, no worries, as long as they are unstrung.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Arrow Seeker

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold
Here's five of my "famous" homemade wooden arrows warming up the chilly looking backyard.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Once again after tinkering around with the traditional equipment in the backyard, I'm starting to strongly consider going after a gobbler this spring with stick and string.

This is certainly not the first time I've kicked around this idea. Also happens around deer season.

Then as the season that's next in line comes around, I talk myself out of it. I mean I do head out occasionally with the recurve in hand but it's probably like 5 percent of the time.

Mainly because I worry over the knockdown power yet I know traditional archers bag game on a consistent basis. I've had a couple of bad experiences in the past with the recurve and homemade wooden arrows during deer season ... and I know that will happen at times.

One doe kept on a running after being down for 15 minutes or so and I lost the blood trail.

On the other, I didn't find until later on in the season while pheasant hunting. Bummed me out because it wasn't much farther than where I was looking the day I shot it.

Also, I once had to pass on a decent 8-pointer a few years ago because of was too far out of range. Oh, he did come back but with the help of two guys dragging it past the tree I was in on the way to their truck.

But we're talking turkey here.

Since I had torn rotator cuff surgery last June, I have found the recurve is easier to carry and pull back.

I guess I just like to shoot it.

I know one thing -- and it's the main thing -- I like to retrieve the misses with the recurve in the backyard and on archery shoots better than with the compound bow.

Usually, the arrows stop fairly close to the intended target on wayward shots unlike the compound misses, which can at times ricochet to who knows where.

And so now we're down to the nitty-gritty: I'm a cheapskate when it comes to equipment, especially with arrows and especially my homemade ones.

Much like the Army doctrine that was instilled in me in my 14 years of service, no arrow goes unrecovered. I've been known to come back from a meeting and take to the last known area with a headlamp and a rake to sift through the moldy, wet leaves in the chilly fall night while breathing steam until I find the lost arrow.

Thing is, now I've got an abundance of arrows piled in boxes and corners around the man cave from changing the ones I make and grabbing a deal I find through one of the many outdoor mail catalogs sent to the St. Clair County house.

So I've decided to put an end to this way of thinking and fire away.

I mean, why not?

I'm the factory and it seems like the line will continue to churn out arrows since I like passing the time away painting 'em up.

But as far as on them turkeys ... what if the gobbler of a lifetime steps out beyond 30 yards (gulp)?

Ut oh, bad thoughts again ...

Well, I have a month before my turkey season opens to decide.

Any traditional archers out there have their own success stories on turkeys?

Let us know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day of fishing trial and error

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold
Zac, 7, and Erin, 9, look like little angels here fishing away along the Black River on March 20 but pictures can be deceiving.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Can't really think of a better way to kick off the first fishing gig ever on this blog than with one I spent with my kids.

Two weekends ago Erin, Zac and I headed down to the mouth of the Black River in Port Huron to see if we couldn't haul in a jumbo steelhead or two or three.

Anyway, didn't happen. The fishing did but we did not slay ourselves a trout dinner.

It was cold.

When I woke up the afternoon of Sunday, March 20, the temperature readings were barely climbing out of the 20s.

Not really what I was hoping for but it was one of those things where once you get a plan for an outing in your craw, you're doing it regardless of conditions. A practice that has occasionally left me with great regret over the years, trust me.

The original plan was for me to meet with a friend and head to a dam in Oakland County, I believe it was the Yates Cider Mill.

But those plans went down in flames after Michigan advanced to meet Duke (and lost, as I expected) in the men's NCAA tournament. Walt is a huge Wolverines fan.

So I thought rather than waste a couple hours of my life watching that game, why not bring the kids along for some fresh air and get 'em out of mama's hair for a few hours.

Which was welcomed and encouraged on her part but not so much on my part later after they lasted only 10 minutes along the chilly riprap. They then begged off for the warmth of the truck where they proceeded to tear apart the dash, mainly an overhead light, which now is merely decorative in nature, while I unknowingly cast spoons and spawn bags into the murky black-blue river.

I guess there's a price involved with taking the youngsters out into the great outdoors.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wha ... what happened?

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

So much for the happy outdoorsy feel I had going on.

In one swoosh from Michigan's mother nature ways, and I slipped back into hibernating mode.




Go away snow, ice, slush.

For the past week with the warmer temperatures, I was dreaming of hitting the turkey woods amid the spring greens and whites of flowering dogwoods while sanding and finishing a few homemade arrows in the man cave.

Yep, I like to roll my own.

I admit I'm not the most intense traditional bowman out there but I do find it invigorating to hit the woods with a few of my own homemade arrows during the hunting season.

Also, I found it's a way to relax after a stressful work day.

Have yet to tag a game animal with one of them but I figure it's a matter of time until I do.

Not only do I like painting 'em so they look purdy, I also like shooting 'em with the recurve in the backyard of my St. Clair County homestead ... WITHOUT SNOW.

Guess I'm just gonna have to go back on pause until the next "pretender" spring weather blows through.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Waiting, waiting, waiting ...

Here I am making calls into to an Ingham County, Michigan, swamp during a recent spring gobbler season.

MAHFS photo by Walter Lucken III

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I'm coming out of the winter slumber.

Seems I've been sleeping for three months and now dreams of new wet weather gear are dancing in my head.

I've already loaded up on another pack of Hevi-shot in anticipation of my all-time favorite season, spring gobbler. (It's the all-time favorite until fall, then archery for deer takes its place. You get the picture.)

Anyway, I upgraded to 3 1/2-inch gobbler-head blasters, not because of desire to put more umpth into the game, but I got them on sale. Yes, indeed.

Oh yeah? Cheap ass, you say? Nah, it's just fun to cut corners here and there and find deals.

But I have found Hevi-shot gets the job done best. Five-shot. And I've had a few years of testing (heh-heh) going into these findings.

Won't be long.

At the moment, I would be satisfied just being able to walk around the yard without stumbling around in the crunchy snow that just won't seem to go away, let alone strolling up a fluorescent-green spring ridge in pursuit of a love-sick tom.

Now that would be too much to ask.

But not much longer ...

(Look for a spring turkey primer by Mac Arnold in an upcoming article at