Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Weekend thoughts

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Couple of quick thoughts:

I'm finding despite losing the recurve to a fatal limb break that I rather enjoyed Monday's backyard shoot with the Martin compound.

For under $200 from The Sportsman's Guide, seems like it's almost a steal, yet I'm still waiting for the next shoe to drop.

As far as the season starting, I'm ready, which is scary. There are still two full months to go. It's amazing how a few viewings of the Primos "Big Bucks" videos will crank you up a notch.

But there are a few seasons ahead of the bow opener that will keep me distracted until Oct. 1.

One of the more amazing thoughts though that came my way while watching a Kansas hunt on Versus was how nice one of those Matthews Z-7 bows looked in their ads, never mind the $900 to $1,000 price tag. It seems fairly easy to throw around the tax refund in empty thought even though that's even farther away at nearly seven months.

The reality is there many other needs that come before a screamer bow like that in the Arnold household and I bet the Martin, given a full season, will drop a whitetail or two this fall.


The next quick hitter came during Babe Winkleman's show on Versus during a merriam's turkey hunt with his wife and three daughters last year.

He said, "Hunting is a family affair," which for the most part I agree with but just doesn't seem go that way me. I guess I should add "yet" to that equation.

Most of my hunting endeavors are of the lone wolf nature.

Zackie occasionally joins me, usually during early goose or for woodcock in September, when the weather is nicer.

But I imagine that will all change once he can hoist his own shotgun at a target.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dog days taking effect

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Summer's long days definitely taking effect on the psyche.

Simple things such as taking a picture of the wife's prissy dog in the backyard are made insanely difficult by the dreaded mosquitoes and deer flies.

Lately I've dug into the hunting video collection -- a dangerous thing to do indeed because it turns on the "I can't wait to bow hunt" clock in my head and here it is halfway through July.

This is tempered somewhat by, I want to bow hunt but I don't want to shovel snow.

With the fatality of my beloved recurve (you'll note a previous entry where the bottom limb snapped), I'm down to the Martin compound and resigned to sticking with it now and throughout the upcoming deer season.

I can only long for the next tax refund season when I can return to tinkering with wooden arrows and fletchings in the man cave to accommodate the next recurve. So for now, the cedar arrows remain fixed in a line along the wall on top of the bench. Ah, such is life.

Another upcoming fishing trip to West Virginia keeps the hopes alive despite knowing I'll have two additional toy dogs to watch while there -- and these are the mother-in-law's Pomeranians. One will be a breeze to deal with, while Charlie ... that's yet to be seen. He's the kind of dog that nips at your heels once you turn your back on him.

And, wait, today is the first day you can apply for doe tags in Michigan.

Now that's something to get excited about too. Don't forget -- the application period is from July 15 until Aug. 15.

This goes out especially to those peeps who come hunting with me on the public land tracts around the house every year and would like to shoot a doe but only have buck tags.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lured into shooting my bow?

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

A quick hitter from the backyard:

One would think that I wouldn't necessarily need much coaxing to shoot my bow but Tuesday was a day where I was happy with my past performance of a day ago and with the heat and all, well, I wasn't biting.

Yet, Zackie, my 7-year-old son, kept on pestering me into getting out the Martin and take a few shots with him.

Bless his heart.

But us older guys with a few OCD tendencies have to make sure all are chores are done so we're (ahem) comfortable with the task at hand, which is putting the shots into the vitals.

No problem there. I'm sure we can all agree on this.

But Monday's shooting left me somewhat frustrated because the sight I have on the bow is not cooperating with my left-eye dominance. (I shoot right-handed.)

And the other thing with this is I've been shooting mostly instinctive -- until the recurve limb busted three weeks ago -- and I've had just about enough of this Kentucky windage on a sighted bow. Might as well just pull the thing off if that's the way it's going to be, especially after I watched Team Fitzgerald's "North American Rhino's IV" the other day. That's how they shoot their compounds, instinctively.

Anyway, by the time I got out on the balcony, old Zackie -- who had been nailing the deer target from the deck the whole time I was bouncing back and forth from the kitchen and the laundry room -- was planted in front of the TV and "was done shooting."

I said, "You're kidding, right?"

"Nope," he said with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, "I don't want to shoot anymore."

So I decided I might as well shoot a few arrows myself and went back to the balcony to take on the afternoon sun, which makes target practice rugged during the late afternoon. It shines directly over the trees and into your eyes.

(Another reason why I wanted to beg off.)

Despite a couple of unacceptable shots and more Kentucky windage, I was finally able to find some relief with better groups but couldn't get over how Zackie "tricked me."


And while we're on the topic of my son, I just wanted to laud both the Michigan Senate and House on passing the youth hunting bill to remove the age limit for hunters and allow parents and mentors to determine when their children are ready to hunt.

The bill has been sent to Gov. Rick Snyder and awaits his signature.

Hopefully all goes as scheduled so I can get Zackie out into the woods to bring down his own game.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Down goes Mac, down goes Mac

The first fish I caught on the Monongahela River in West Virginia was my best one of the weekend.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I survived the ragin' waters of the Cheat River in Preston County, W.Va., but I lost the fish off against the in-laws once again.

Really, the Cheat was quite tame. The water level was down but I'm not naive because I know from others' stories, catch it at the right time -- fall and spring -- and you will be takin' on some fast river action.

The last set of rapids, known as the "Dead Man's Rapids," did get quite interesting though, and I heard frequently during the overnight expedition of how one couple in the party was dunked by that monster on a previous trip.

What makes it wicked is that at the end of the Seven Islands Road-to-Rowlesburg run the water forces your canoe to take a hard left under small bridge directly into the path of huge blocks of concrete loaded with rebar sticking out in every direction.

It was this hazard that did them in on that fateful day.

Luckily for us, two pals of Mike McCauley's -- my brother-law -- were stationed in their boat in front of the Doc Oct rock and we gently bounced off of their boat, which eased us enough to squeak by without disaster.

I was told later we were very, very close to hitting the rock, which is kind of freaky because I don't remember that part at all.

Wisely, I opted to not video this part of the trip but I did take video while we went through a couple of the milder runs.

Now, back to the fishing.

But wait, one more thing, and that's why I have more fun fishing this way -- by canoe on fast, moving rivers -- than any other because of the mixture of water adventure with smallmouth bass action. Just can't beat it.

Sometimes in the calmer water it's kind of like bow hunting -- up close and personal. You have to ease in slowly to the cover along the river's edge and slip a perfect cast under stumps and rocks without spooking the fish.

Unfortunately for me, there weren't enough perfect casts over the weekend in the Mountain State.

The best fish I caught was the first one (seems like this happens a lot) I drilled on a buzz bait near a stump along the other river we fished on two other separate days, the mighty Monongahela in Monongalia County, W.Va.

This bass likely topped the 2-pound mark, but not by much and that was how it was over the weekend, mostly small ones. Heat seemed to keep the big boys at bay during the times we were out.

But this fish wouldn't keep me ahead of Mike for long.

The day-two ride on the Cheat he had me on volume and just before the Dead Man's Rapids approach he nailed a real nice fish that I had no answer for as I was dealing with a nasty bird's nest.

My father-in-law Fred McCauley of Morgantown, W.Va., landed the best fish of the weekend on July 4 on the Monongahela River in West Virginia.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

But the best surprise of the weekend was how the old man, my father-in-law, Fred McCauley of Morgantown, beat both our butts when he hooked one nearly 3 pounds early in the run on the third day back on the Monongahela.

Another thing that foiled my action was again not having the right color of worm, which Mike had and I didn't -- go figure.

Usually I have a bag of the Yum smokey pearl worms, which would have been made to order over this weekend, and Mike was reeling 'em in left and right with that color.

And at the end of the trip I came to a couple of conclusions: one being, the worms that outperform the others are the Gary Yamamoto senkos and the Yum dingers. All the other ones just don't seem to connect with fish.

The other one is I'm done with gigs that get into the late afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the heat of the day. All you do is roast and snag your line.

After the second day on the Cheat, which was arduous in itself, and the near 10 hours on the Mon on the last day, I was beat.

And now, after looking at a big old gouge in the pinky knuckle of my right hand, I have another conclusion: if we're going to fish like that in the future, then I'm getting a glove to wear.

The weekend was a blur of good fun and laughs.

I can't wait to go back in August.