Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Waiting ...

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Itchin' to get out into the turkey woods ... the opener just can't come fast enough.

Tired of posting non-action stories here.

Funny, I slept in Tuesday instead of getting a load of road mix to fix the holes on the dirt road in front of our driveway after seeing the forecast calling for all-day rain.

When I sauntered downstairs midafternoon amid bright sun shooting through the windows, I was met by a sarcastic quip from the wife -- "All day rain, huh?" The bumpy ride before our driveway all these months is making us nuts. I was just as aggravated, then, of course, I started to think how the Mr. Murphy angle for the first day of spring gobbler would likely apply here.

I'm sure I won't be met by the same fortune Monday when the season begins for my hunt, which the forecast is also calling for rain.

Anyway, I'm fully planning on being in wet weather gear as daylight breaks May 2.

That's fine, I'll be happy to don the new Gore-tex parka I bought a few weeks back through the Sportsman's Guide to complete the set with the pants I purchased during the 2010 fall season.

In the meantime, I will be working on the road crew and ... waiting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another shortie

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Man, I can't believe it's nearly spring gobbler time for me.

It just occurred to me that if I was hunting this week the day I would throw all the marbles into would be Saturday.

Supposed to reach into the 60s temperature-wise with plenty of sun. And the hunting predictor via Accuweather rates it a "good" day. This is the temperature ratio I prefer for the spring hunts -- 60s/40s -- highs in the 60s with lows in the 40s.

One thing I left out of my last posting is the advantage to having the early season when out of nowhere the weather turns nice for a day. It seems to really perk up the birds and send them into their mating rituals.

At least that's been my experience.

I passed on this opinion to my buddy John who hunts in Sanilac County.

He thanked me and said he "hunted two hours (Wednesday), heard some hens clucking but nothing came out."

Wish I could get my butt out there already.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Short turkey take

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

The past two days have only strengthened why I never take the first season for spring turkey in Michigan.

On what would have been the opener, April 18 -- had I opted for the first season -- I would have been met with a covering of snow.

And on day two, it would've been cloudy and cold.

Neither are enticing backdrops for the gobbler who wants to bellow his song across the countryside.

Don't get me wrong, I know hunters can and do sometimes score under such conditions, but more times than not when I'm out in such weather -- silence is golden.

And the scouting report I received today from a friend of mine who hunts Sanilac County further supports this as he said "he didn't hear any gobbles."

However, once, maybe six or seven years ago, I traveled to the hills of West Virginia for its spring turkey opener and was stunned to find 4 inches of the slushy, white stuff on the ground. Not unheard of for the Mountain State at the end of April, but definitely disconcerting for the hopeful out-of-state hunter.

It also made for a tricky drive to my spot in Taylor County.

The most amazing part I found was despite all the reasons I had running through my mind for not getting out of the truck, I still slipped and slid my way to a advantageous calling spot on a ridge just before first light and was soon met by gobbling.

I couldn't believe it.

So I decided to tough it out.

I played dueling hen calls with another hunter for about two hours before I backed down the ridge to try another spot in the hollow.

And with more surprises on tap, the sun came out and the warmth brought the temperatures into the 50s, close to 60.

At mid-morning I leaned back against a nice thick oak and shut my eyes for a minute ... and before I knew it I was out. It didn't take much with the six-hour drive and then only an hour or two of sleep before I had to get up again to make first light.

When I woke up a half hour later, I peeked around the blind and couldn't believe my eyes -- the tom was strolling down the trail a mere 25 yards from me.

By the time I picked up the shotgun and shook out the cobwebs, he had seen my movement and was winding in and out of cover so I could never get a good bead on him.

Yep, I didn't even get off a shot.

So I suppose the lesson here is you just never know what will happen unless you get out and try.

But for me, May 2 is a better option.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Update on fishing

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

I did indeed go fishing Sunday along the St. Clair River in Port Huron after I picked up a much-coveted pole holder.

Then once I was finished -- with no luck I might add -- I drove away with the thing still attached to the railing along the wall.


I reversed my route down the streets of the "Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes" with my guts churning while trying a maintain a somewhat sane speed and all but ignoring the 25 mph speed limit signs in an effort to save the $15 I paid for it.

I was relieved to find it still where I left it in its glory.

Sure is nice losing your mind as you get older.

Anyway, most of the fishing gig was spent trying to figure out the Penn 209 reel.

Midway through the balmy Sunday, April 10, operations, I found pay dirt and could reel the line in with the crank rather than by hand, as I was doing for the first half hour and feeling foolish.

So despite the lack of action, I still consider the outing a success.

I was in the game, frequently changing the chartreuse-colored spoons for the bubble gum ones and swapping the black prism bombers for the purple or blue and then doing it all over again.

The other notion I had spinning around my mind was the odds of actually catching fish going up as I get out more often.

Not much different from turkey hunting or chasing whitetail bucks. It's always tough to hit the woods once and score. Same principle applies here to fishing methinks.

Therefore, I plan on making this a regular occurrence ... but not the pole holder rescue, only the fishing part.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A day of backyard shooting

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

I love this time of year.

Especially when it's actually turning into spring.

The anticipation leading up to the opening day of spring gobbler season courses through my veins and gives the spirit a much-needed boost after a long winter.

Also, it's the best time of year to be in the backyard, or anywhere in our yard, before the insects come out and make any activity a brief one unless you're constantly moving around.

Our yard is basically swamp for six months out of the year. Mosquitoes thrive around us no matter what I put out.

Other than slogging through some soggy parts, the back makes for a great outdoor archery range.

So I took advantage of the nearly 60-degree temperatures on Saturday, April 9, and began practicing in earnest for trying to take a gobbler with the recurve and homemade wooden arrows during Michigan's spring turkey season, which opens May 2 for my hunt.

I brought out the blind and flung upward of 30 arrows downrange from it in various mock hunting positions.

In talking with some fellow turkey hunters, I had mulled over whether a head or neck shot was a viable one. It was met by a dismal reception -- "too little target, too much movement."

For the most part I agree but I still think it's doable.

I had some success shooting for that area today.

Just wish my son, Zac, who is out of town with the rest of the family on spring break, was around to shoot with me.

He gets rather excited when we get out the turkey target and one of us gets a direct hit to its noggin.

Guess there will be another time.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fishing the wall

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

Between the weather and getting up the nerve to be seen as a newbie, I've still yet to tackle fishing off "the wall" for steelhead this spring along the St. Clair River in Port Huron.

The day I set to head over there -- last Sunday -- was met with a scoff and a "now I'm REALLY not going" muttering after I peered out the kitchen window in my sweats and saw giant pillowy snow flakes screaming down from the sky.

I'm sure I might look like a lightweight to most outdoorsmen and women but I had my fill of chilly hunts during the late firearms season for doe in December. I can hang in single-digit to below-zero hunts with the best of them. Usually I'm the only one among my circle of hunting pals that even gets out during that time of year.

Now's the time to embrace the coming of the more moderate seasons such as spring gobbler and trout and salmon fishing. Then in summer, full-on bassin', baby.

I'm patient because I know it is April and somewhere in this month, is a few 50- and 60-degree temperature days. Yes?

The other obstacle is rubbing elbows with the "pros" that hit the wall pretty regularly.

And looking stupid.

Comes with the territory and I've been there before many times over the years in the outdoor world.

I didn't come from a family that hunted, so most of what I learned I read about, asked questions from other experienced hunters and then by trial and error.

For the most part, I've accomplished much of what I have wanted to do, although some goals still haven't been met -- mainly a monster buck with a bow.

In fact, I noticed a condescending look the other day from another customer in a gun store after I asked the proprietor a question about a firearm.

The smug one was carrying a stack of unopened boxes of Brownings he had just bought. (Must be nice.)

That was what was great about hitting Anderson's, a tackle shop on the north side of Port Huron.

I realized I wasn't going to complete all the items on the "do-everything" list on my second day off, so I decided to make that Monday a logistical day and pick up gear for a future outing.

So as I mulled over a few spoons, I began to ask some questions on what colors were best to use and how to rig my gear for the wall, and the guy working the counter at Anderson's -- sadly I didn't get his name -- totally hooked me up.

I brought in the pole I purchased several years ago specifically for that type of fishing, and he showed me how to use it with the 1-pound weight and two different leads off of it.

And even told me to come back if I had any other questions.

Yeah, if you're wondering, I did spend some money. But not a ridiculous amount.

Enough though that I decided to pass on the $13.95 pole holder "that most of the guys use."

Hmmmm, I guess I'm gonna wait now until I get the pole holder, I wouldn't want to go out there without one and look stupid.