Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Start of a new season

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Hopefully, an hour or so after first light this Sept. 1, I will be blasting away at a "V" formation of geese at Dairy Farmer Dave's in the Thumb section of Michigan.

I always see the early goose season as the initial hunt of fall.

As I've posted previously here and on Mac's Online Hunting Magazine -- -- what I like about this gig is it gets me out of my late summer slumber of late morning sleep-ins and somewhat prepares me for the big daddy hunts that come up later, such as fall turkey and deer archery.

I have to set the alarm and ... um ... actually respond to it. Throw on the hunting garb and find the right gear without screaming blindly into a dresser and wake up the wife, which will actually get me out of the house faster but maybe not with all the necessary equipment, if you know what I mean.

Then be where I need to be in time to be set up on the ready for when the game of the month comes flying over my blind or dashing past my tree stand.

The main thing tomorrow/today is being on the north side of the central woods on the property by 8 a.m. or so. Hopefully it will be much earlier than that. And it's an easy 200-yard stroll down a two-track road, so no sweat.

I've pretty much patterned these birds from last season and this past spring's turkey season, so I've got a decent idea of what to expect.

One bad point about this spot is it's near where the turkeys like to fly down off the roost in the morning and the season for the dirty birds doesn't come in until Sept. 15.

So I'm gonna have to be careful not to blow this for that opening day albeit I will likely let the area cool down prior to Sept. 15.

Pretty much everything is in the garage ready to go except for putting the blind in the Jeep.

And I have to make sure I don't blow off the alarm by hitting the snooze button a dozen times, another thing that annoys sleeping beauty.

Here we go!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Growing up slow

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Seemed like my early season hunting dreams went up in smoke when the youth model .20-gauge I bought for my son kicked up as well.

Gave him a good shot in the choppers, and it was totally my bad.

Should have probably tried it first without him. But I didn't and now he has a lifetime story of the first time he went shooting with his dumb-bleep dad.

I'll give him credit though, he saddled up for two other shots with Dad making a better brace.

For now, we'll walk away from it and hopefully he'll grow into the gun in the next couple of months. (I should have bought the bow I saw for him instead -- hey, I might still ... shhhhhhh, quiet about this one).

Anyway, we did go on what is likely the last fishing gig of the summer two weeks ago (Aug. 15) on a small lake in Lapeer County that was perfect for introducing the canoe to Zac and Dad to being in the canoe with Zac, if you know what I mean.

Zac did a great job commandeering our canoe on Five Lakes in Lapeer County on Aug. 15. I only yelled at him once, well, maybe twice.

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

Zac and I have canoed together before a couple of years ago on a fairly active river in West Virginia -- the South Branch of the Potomac River -- during a driving rain storm that he still remembers to this day. Mainly, him getting out on the shore and diving and splashing with our mixed Lab into what was the best hole for fish. Oh yeah, lots of fun there.

I still remember the trip because he had more sense than I did in when to quit, saying matter-of-factly as I tried to hit "one more spot" with a cast as the rain started coming down sideways -- "Hey, Dad, give me the paddle, would you? Let's get out of here."

Gives me chuckles to this day. When it comes to fishing and hunting, sometimes I get a little lost in it all.

It's OK if he wants to go and just watch the goose hunting action Sept. 1, because I don't want to be one of those dads who gets overbearing and then instead turns his kid off from doing something.

One regimen I'm trying to get into is busting down the ATV trail on a regular basis in the backyard to prepare for possibly taking the quad bear hunting this October in the Upper Peninsula.

On Wednesday, Zac didn't have a problem getting on the quad, nor turning over the controls, when he felt the Suzuki was still a bit too big for him. Something I appreciated.

Maybe we need to take this growing up stuff a little slower. Dang, now my shoulders are hurting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Almost a star

Here I am taking a short break under the I-79 bridge along the Monongahela River in West Virginia.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I almost thought I was headed to the hall of fame with the fish I had on while trolling the weed beds on the Monongahela River in West Virginia this past weekend.

Almost in the hall ... well, it would have been the Mac Arnold's Hunting & Fishing Spectacular hall if any I suppose. There's only one game entity in there now and that's the fall gobbler I took with the 14-inch beard last season.

Anyway, it was hot there, which is typical. And the bite was tough, which was also typical for that time of year. I'm often told by brother-in-law that fall is where it's at. Unfortunately, I'm hunting for whitetails like a possessed man at that time of year.

What I at first thought was the monster bass I have for so long coveted was actually a creature of another species.

I didn't figure that out until later while reviewing the situation in my mind over and over again as I moved on down the river.

This beast had made his presence known immediately when I paddled the canoe gently out from the small channel into the wider river opening. He had smacked at the top of the water in pursuit of a meal not once but twice.

After patrolling the outside of spongy weeds once I came back around and tossed a buzzbait to the opposite side ... bam! He chomped at the air once with a miss but he was relentless and his next effort was true. Bing! He was on.

Pure joy from excitement surged through my body as the fight went through its initial stages. I only caught a glimpse of his stripes as he thrashed the top of the water and then he went under with a tug and took line.

And as fast as it began it ended. I felt the tension go slack and up came the line without the buzzbait.

What I was left with was nothing more than the top of the steel leader. He had broke the leader off at the connector part.

So what was at first major disappointment became admiration for such an awesome fish.

On the video for this piece you will likely hear me speak of the finned warrior as "more than a 5-pounder" in reference to him being a bass.

As I said previously, it wasn't until later in the gig that I put the pieces together ... hmmmm, tiger stripes ... sheer strength to pull the leader apart ... aha! It was a musky.

Which was just as cool because that was the other fish I had hopes of catching during this vacation.

What kind of bummed me out when I thought about it later was how close I was to changing that leader before I even made it into the channel. I had made some casts in the shallow cove where the launch is when I first got into the canoe -- mainly because my brother-in-law told me he nailed a 3-pounder bass in there a few days before -- and the leader had tangled the line on me a couple of times.

I even looked in the tackle bag for a new one but guess what? That was the last one I had for the trip.

See, I hoisted a musky half on, half off the canoe two years ago without a leader and likely would have pulled that one in for longer than the minute or so I grappled with him had I handled it better.

So my thinking on this is I may have had a better shot with the 12-pound test alone than with a worn leader. Then again, he may have done what the fish of two years ago did once he slid down my arm and got into the water and that is with one shake of his head he had sliced the line and escaped back into the muddy depths of the Mon.

I'm not down over this. In fact I look at this event as putting me one heave closer to landing the elusive fish of 10,000 casts.

And another thing: I now have three packages of steel leaders in separate poundages in the tackle bag.

I'll be ready next time.