Wednesday, October 31, 2012

When the bucks seem to be moving

Once again I almost had to lock up the brakes in an effort to miss a roaming buck while heading home last night.

It happened in a more residential area than what one would normally expect -- on the southern side of Interstate 69 along Wadhams Road barely 50 feet from the new Pilot gas station.

The whipping wind and spray of rain had no effect on what he had on his mind I'm sure.

He wasn't the size of the brute I saw the previous week just off of the shoulder on Interstate 94 near where I blasted the buck last year, east of the westbound rest area in Macomb County.

But still he looked like a shooter nonetheless.

So I would like alter what I was saying about the deer not moving because, in fact, they are active ... at 4 a.m. Unfortunately, that isn't when any of us hunters can be out, unless we want to tag one with our vehicles.


I already went down that road last year and would prefer to get one with my bow, slug gun or muzzleloader.

-- Mac Arnold

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

November's promise, we hope

With all the leaves already down, the look of southeastern Michigan woods is reminding me of how it looks during gun season.

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Not all seasons are the same.

Somehow I always forget this. Especially when the ease I had at dropping a buck the previous October is nowhere to be found this October.

And now October is over.

This is when I usually find my best opportunities in the stand -- from the 20th to Halloween.

I've often said if I'm going to make it happen, it's in that window of  12 days.


Hasta la vista.

Well, hold on here a minute. Before I catapult from this deer season into next spring's gobbler season, I still have two months left of prime time -- November's regular gun and December's muzzleloader, let alone two more weeks of archery, which is often thought to hold the best time of the rut.

I haven't witnessed it of late. Usually I prepare for a slow time in early November in Michigan until the orange army takes to the ridges and swamps.

And that's what I saw over the weekend. It may have been more related to the weather and Sandy's residual barrage.

High winds and sideways rain. Yep. That will definitely shut her down out there.

What I found equally intriguing was how the game predictor -- based on the full moon mostly -- liked the deer movement from Saturday to Tuesday. These days were expected to be "good" to "excellent." But the predictions couldn't account for the downright nasty weather that came busting through our state, with sustained 30 mph winds and gusts up to 60 mph that packed enough wallop to take off the roof on the dog's house.

Woof, woof. Rusty was quite happy to take a night off in the indoor kennel. I've never seen him so willing to go inside and curl up.

Don't let all this negativity fool you because I will not give up. Even though I've been at this long enough to know the percentages (I usually get two opportunities in early bow and I've botched both tries already), maybe there's a rogue chance coming the next time I go out toward the end of this week.

Never quit. Never quit. Never quit.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mr. Murphy calling?

On Saturday, Rusty and I joined Art Johns and Walt Lucken for a little bird hunting around Art's house near Chesaning. On and off rain made for tough conditions but we still were able get out for an hour.
MAHFS photo by Walt Lucken

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

As I previously posted on Facebook, so far I'm having a Mr. Murphy deer archery season, which opened Oct. 1.

Judgment miscue (maybe). Equipment failure (definitely).

Not that I will go into specific details. I'm leery of being awarded another online site's worst hunter of the year just for doing what hunters do: pursue game. Although I'm sure I'll be nominated anyway on basis of being an honorary member.

A couple of these screw-ups I touch on briefly in an archery article slated to run in our "Sporting Michigan" special section on Oct. 28.

Happily I can say the gear is back on track and now I'm again shooting with a high level of confidence. And just in time for what I consider the best time of year from the Halloween week until the second day of the gun season, Nov. 16.

Now is not the time to stay rutted in a funk.

Instead, it's one to work out the wrinkles and star at the moment of truth.

I've already seen lots of sign -- nice rubs and scrapes in the areas I hunt -- and had two great opportunities to load up a slowly emptying freezer.

Now I need a little luck at the right time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Slow go so far

I'll spare you another mugshot of myself and
let the stunning beauty of the Tahquamenon
Falls stand on its own.

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I'm back from a weeklong vacation in which I strung together four different hunts and ended up bird-less, turkey-less, bear-less and deer-less. In between the bear and deer hunts I fit in two days of festivities for my 30-year high school reunion at Birmingham Seaholm -- Class of '82.

I only saw the targeted game animal during the last item, which was a small doe at dusk on Monday.

Now I'm recovering from what was a very long week, but in a good way. Having Mike Avery of Colorado, a friend from the old days stay with me while he was in town for the reunion was a blast.  Many laughs were shared and so were plans to visit him next year so we can possibly elk hunt.

I remain optimistic, mainly on the deer front. This season I will be hunting private land in Sanilac County as part of what is considered a loose-knit hunting group in addition to the usual public land spots.

Unfortunately, I don't see me getting back to the Upper Peninsula for another shot at Yogi before the season ends Oct. 26.

On a positive note, I finally did what I've always wanted to do by crossing the "Big Mac," seeking intel from a Department of Natural Resources biologist, in this case, Kristie Sitar, baiting a spot on  public land and going for it.

And despite a tight watch from one contingency of local hunters, I came away unscathed, but bear-less as previously noted.

However, I saved anywhere from $900 to $1,200, which is about what you'll pay for a guide to bait ahead of time for you.

I've also gone this route in the past and seen the exact same results. So no harm, nor foul. I will admit there is a sense of security being treated to someone else's expertise, as the Upper Peninsula is vast and it can seem overwhelming at times to figure out where to set up.

Another thing I accomplished during the bear hunt was finally seeing the Tahquamenon Falls after nearly 49 years, most of them as a Michigan resident. I was surprised at how emotional of an experience it was for me. I think part of this was thinking how I wish I could have shared it with my kids who are in West Virginia now.
Today is my 49th birthday and I always love to be on watch in a tree stand to celebrate, but after a night at the office and temperatures expected to be in the mid-70s, it looks like I'll be sleeping in and hitting the trail for a 2-mile run.

I'll wait to kick off the party this weekend.