Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting an edge

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

When Sunday rolls around, there will be a fall hunting tab inside The Macomb Daily.

And in that tab, yours truly has written a couple of previews -- one on the deer season and the other on turkeys.

I was really looking for something cutting edge kinda the way us deer hunters will look for an edge to land that trophy buck of a lifetime.

After a few trials at the keyboard I finally settled on trying to get a jump on the rut here in Michigan. This is where it's at for many of us. For most of the year, the biggest brutes are nocturnal beasts and unhuntable but around that magical time of the year -- usually from end of October to end of November -- their instincts to mate is too overpowering and they must roam the woods in search of a willing partner.

When this takes place it truly is awesome and nothing is more awesome than actually being on stand at precisely the right time when Mr. Jumbo strolls by.

In the preview, I base my predictions on a hunch and what a couple of game predictors say, mainly on the GPS device I use. What I have found is it basically tracks the lunar cycle. And there's plenty of debate on whether this accurate or not.

Even a Michigan DNR wildlife biologist debunks this theory and said, "I've not seen any evidence that shows the rut is affected by the lunar cycle."

She should know more on this than I do and told me she even did her master's work on deer behavior.

My thing is this: why do the dang deer show up over and over again right in the device's "best" times and "good" times?

In the end it's just another way to find an edge.

I had a friend, who's deceased now, but he once put his hunting clothes in the dryer with a deer leg trying to stay one step ahead of the whitetail's superior nose. His girlfriend at the time thought he was mad while his laundry clunked along through its cycle.

This same friend told me practically on his deathbed in 2006 that "it would be a good year for bucks." And as I recall, I saw a lot of bucks that season. Again, based on a hunch.

Anyway, what's this all mean?

It's about having fun during the deer season, and I came up with these predictions following this theme. It's for fun.

So don't be a writing me and saying, "Arnold, you're all dried up, those predictions were waaaaaaaaaay off and you suck."

It's not to be taken as gospel.

Or is it?

Time will only tell.

(For a peek online of a similar article I wrote for this fall, log on to www.macshuntingmag.com.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shot of the century

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

This is a quick update for anyone wanting to know of my exploits over the past week or so.

After the flame on the early goose season went out without more than a mere flicker on Sept. 11, which was a hunt in tribute to all who perished that day in New York 10 years ago, I moved on to the glorious fall turkey season. It opened Sept. 15.

And I had action. And fun.

Unfortunately, because of the time schedule I now have to meet -- and that's putting the kids on the bus in the morning most days -- I wasn't able to be set up before first light.

The birds were milling about in a different area than usual at Dairy Farmer Dave's in Michigan's thumb region.

I saw them as I was walking in under a bluebird sky from the scalped wheat field. They made me and skulked into the woods. I got up after a brief standoff in which I thought I might get a shot at one while they were regrouping in between the trunks and ankle-high grass.

They had already moved on, so I did too. As I approached from the south, there was a new corn planting at Dave's with a grassy field in between the woods and corn stalks. This is now one of their favorite early morning gathering spots.

The shot of the century as this is aptly titled came from me ripping off a round while they scattered after a large hen gave the alert. I saw her at the last moment as I walked a trail near the corner of the woods and we both startled one another. She was standing guard majestically on top of a large dirt pile not even 15 yards from me. (I'm likely going to have visions of that shot with her neck jutting straight out for the rest of the season.)

While they dashed along the corn rows I picked out one and fired but hitting a turkey running at full-tilt 40 yards away ... well, it just isn't gonna happen.

Unless it was the shot of the century, which was what I muttered under my breath as I followed up to see if I did indeed hit one.

I did not.

But the blast did send them everywhere as you would like during fall because they are easily susceptible to calls if they get split up. This is because they want to get back together in their flock. Comfort comes in numbers for turkeys at this time of year.

Anyway, I set up in the other woods on the west side of the corn -- which was where I wanted to be in the first place -- and did exactly that: called in a nice hen. But she out-waited me behind a tree and I had to ease the gun down. I wasn't sure if the bird was even still there. Then she got skittish and started moving away from me. I tried to weave a shot in between the trees at the bird, but apparently didn't get enough firepower on her.

Miss No. 2 but I was getting plenty of opportunities for it being the first day of the season and all.

Later, another turkey appeared and thinking it was nice enough because its head cleared the weeds in front me, I fired and dropped it.

Let's just say it wasn't the biggest one out there, not by a long shot, but it was a turkey.

And I'm now resigned to wait until I can do a first-light hunt so I can be waiting and ready the next time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ammo still pristine

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Nope. Didn't get a chance to fling the new Hevi-Metal ammo at some geese yet.

Oh, I went alright, just didn't get any of them flying, downed mini-tanks close enough for a shot at Dairy Farmer Dave's in Michigan's Thumb region.

I guess I wised up this time.

One of the best opportunities came around 8 a.m. when three got chased from the yard next to the farm and they began to turn my way.

However, they saw me licking my chops and veered away beyond a decent killing range.

Still didn't matter what the initial decision was, I kicked it around over and over again on whether I blew it or not, and wasn't satisfied until I paced off 85 steps to where they crested over the hill before they turned when I got up to leave for the day.

Yep, waaaaaaay too far, sooooon, you made the right call.

It's a long season and I'll hopefully have more opportunities.

Despite some ideal conditions over the holiday weekend, I backed off going out for what would have been the third day out of four. Way too early to get burnt out, especially with a lot of other seasons opening up.

***

Scored a couple more public land doe tags off the leftovers, which were available Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Not sure if I'll need to have them or not but it's always better to have 'em and not use them than to want them and to not have 'em.

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, I decided to make my annual pilgrimage to the other dairy farm I hunt up that way to see if I can hunt deer there again this season.

I specifically waited until the kids went back to school so I could ask the farmer without him having interference from his son, like last season.

In the end I got to go after the regular shotgun season but maybe it would have been for the whole year, oh well.

This is this year. And if denied, I plan on knocking on a few more doors.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Blanked

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

"Whowaaaank, are you kidding me?"

"Whowaaaank, is that the best you got?"

Those responses are what the geese would be saying to me if they could talk I'm sure.

I had lots o' action on the opening day of the early goose season at Dairy Farmer Dave's in the Thumb section of Michigan. More than I can ever recall since I've started hunting there three years ago.

The hunch I got from patterning their morning flight movements during last fall's turkey season was spot on.

Unfortunately, the ammo and I were not. I recovered 11 shot hulls, but no geese.

I think some of the shots were true but because of the range and steel shot I was using it wasn't enough to drop the flying rats.

A blue bird sky probably didn't help matters, which kept them at a higher altitude. And on the best opportunity of the day I got the ye olde point and "click" treatment from the '93 Mossberg with the first and closest shot. Frustrating.

So prior to work, I dropped by the Dick's in Chesterfield Township and picked up some Hevi-Metal rounds. After a quick call to their information phone jockey to make sure the choke tube I had could handle it, I'm ready for another bout tomorrow morning.

"Whowaaaank, I'm hit ... "

***

One promising note is Zackie said he might go in the morning or on Sunday evening (more likely Sunday eveing, I say).

Cool, I could use a videographer/cameraman.

video