Deer survey and coyotes
I told Marysville Dan I was all business for our Jan. 22 coyote hunt in St. Clair County, Mich., hence the camo paint. He seemed a little surprised.
MAHFS Photo by Danny Weant
By Mac Arnold
No lead slingin' or radical thoughts in this post.
This one is more of the bland variety. So I apologize if this doesn't lift you out of your chair in amazement. Kinda how it is for me after the three-month deer season, which I think could be longer, but we'll get to that later.
The aftermath of these 90 days finds me recuperating and trying to catch up on sleep for the glorious spring gobbler season in May, when I hope to be blasting lead, er, Hevishot, at a plump tom.
I know one thing: I will definitely be bringing my "A" game to this year's festivities in what I would like to say is a calling out to my critics. I consider spring turkey to be one of my better seasons.
But the truth of the matter is hunting is a non-competitive affair for me really ever since my friend Mike P. died in 2006. It is strictly a Mac vs. himself and Mac vs. nature thing now. And over the past two springs it's been: Turkeys 2, Mac 0. So I figure I'm due.
Speaking of whitetails, I got the Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer hunting survey in the mail the other day.
This year it was easier to do than in past ones because I took fairly detailed records of each hunt -- where, when and what happened.
Made it out a total of 30 days specifically for deer from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1 -- 17 on public land and 13 on private land. And of those 30 days I took two deer -- one buck and one doe.
Overall, I noted I was "somewhat dissatisfied" with my hunting experience. Maybe that would surprise some people since I was successful, and I am grateful for what I shot, but I think it could be better.
Some of it is me, and I could likely improve the action by getting out more. That might be why I didn't see as many deer as I used to. Not as frisky as I once was and I require more sleep in my old age during the work week.
I suggested on the form a couple of things: extend the doe season into mid-January and possibly even until the end of January, and open the regular firearms season on the second Saturday in November so working people can have three weekends to get out into the woods.
I'm sure one complaint against this would be the reason I'm not seeing as many deer is because of the early and late firearms season for does. What I'm suggesting is not longer seasons necessarily on public land but on the private land where farmers see herds of 10 and 20 at a time. Possibly the later January season could be a late muzzleloader one. Sounds fun already.
One suggestion I didn't put on the survey but I could go along with is a one-buck limit with a restriction of three points to a side. Obviously I'm a lay person, one with his feet on the ground only, but it seems like this would help increase the number of bucks seen during the season and the size of them.
Those are a few of the ideas I was kicking around after filling out the questionnaire.
I always send in my form with the best answers possible because I want the biologists and policy makers to get the information they need to make informed decisions.
Now, if you send the survey in before the third week of February, there are drawings for a bow, a rifle or a muzzleloader.
That sounds like even more fun.
On the coyote front, I'm still without a pelt. But this season I've been out more than ever before for the wily critters.
Even though I still have a goose egg to my name I'm not discouraged. A lot of it is testament to how tough a predator they are to fool.
Or maybe they aren't as thick around where I hunt as I thought they were. But I definitely heard them howling and yipping at two of my spots.
From what I've read, this is when their breeding season is in full swing, so most of the distress calls aren't as effective as the mating ones. I've been throwing the kitchen sink at them so far.
But I'm starting to wonder if it'll be one of those things when I'm not really trying for them, such as during the deer archery season, when I'm finally successful.
Regardless, I'm out there with the wind in my face and having a ball.
Another awesome gig I've been forming an exploratory committee for is Colorado elk.
That would really be something if we could get it to see fruition let alone drag a bull off the mountain.
I've always had regrets over being an infantryman stationed at Fort Carson in the early '80s and not taking advantage of the practically free access to great hunting there.
Being a barracks rat doesn't lend itself well to making great memories.
Let's saddle up and see what happens.