Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh those windy day spring turkey hunts

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Somewhere around noon Monday, after putting the youngest two of our clan on the school bus, I was awakened from a midday siesta by clunks on the roof. Then gusts swirled about the outside walls sending dings and thwaps every which way on the siding.

While resting with my head on the pillow and waiting for the grogginess to fade, I started to think of how it would be for the hopeful turkey hunter.

The first spring season opened in Michigan on April 23.

 My thoughts trailed off into past hunts where the winds howled and I would be left flustered thinking of how in the world can I hear a gobbler even if the birds were being vocal.

The lore was once that one could not hear the gobbles because the fickle birds aren't active in swirling winds but really it's a matter of not being able to hear them. Years of experience will open the mind and put a fable to rest.

Blowing winds still can make for a difficult hunt. However they can also ease maneuvers on a bird hung up on another side of the farm or ridge because it can cover your footsteps in the dry, crunchy leaves. Or then again, you decide to move and then walk right into the tom because you can't keep track of his movements and are left with nothing more than watching him high-step right out of the county.

Oh, those windy day spring hunts, they can definitely be tough ones.


Mainly for me right now, I'm working on getting healthy for the second season, which opens May 7.

Once, I thought I wouldn't be able to raise a shotgun or handle its recoil but that won't be the case. (Still on rebound from surgery on a torn rotator cuff.)

Despite being able to pull back the string on the recurve weeks ago, it seems that the practice aggravates a muscle under the left shoulder blade.

I'm hoping with time I can work through this but regardless, in the heat of the moment, I'm sure I'm capable of a steady well-placed shot with No. 5 Hevi-Shot from the old reliable Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Upcoming turkey season

On April 6, I went salmon fishing with George Boesch at his Lake Huron home but we were unable to connect while battling the chop along the beach. He texted me Friday and showed he had it wired by trolling from his small boat with blue-speckled pink spoons. Way to go, George.
MAHFS photo by George Boesch

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

One morning not too long ago I cracked the morning constitution -- "Outdoor Life" -- and was stunned to see a turkey hunting snippet suggest we hunters have seen the best there is as kills go and prepare for a down period.

In "Should turkey hunters be worried?" there was a graphic -- the "Gobbler Gauge" -- and four states -- South Carolina, Missouri, New York and Ohio -- were profiled and all saw anywhere from 30 percent drop-offs in total record kills to even a 58 percent crash for New York since the early 2000s.

Gulp! Not a mood setter for April when the spring turkey opener is just weeks away.

But I've recently been talking to Michigan Department of Natural Resource Upland Bird Specialist Al Stewart for an article that is set to run April 29 in The Macomb Daily's upcoming "Sporting Michigan" special section.

And although I was putting together quotes for a spring turkey preview, I still wanted to ask him about the OL article.

He was able to put me somewhat at ease by saying the Great Lake State has yet to crest in its total kills for a season before we will get into a series of alternating peaks and valleys once we hit that number. He did say we were getting close.

What is likely more at issue is the consecutive poor hatches we have had -- three straight -- and Stewart said the same was happening in those states as well to include Iowa.

Despite this, "we should see good to excellent turkey hunting this season," he said, noting our state has a thriving overall turkey population at 200,000 birds.

"Michigan is ranked sixth in turkey hunting harvest and is considered as having some of the best quality turkey hunting of anywhere in the nation," Stewart added.

Well, all right, I like what I hear.


Last weekend I went coyote hunting in Sanilac County, Mich., and was entertained by watching a healthy deer herd at a friend's farm. Unfortunately, camera phones just can't get in close enough, but the deer were mostly within 50 yards or more of our elevated blind.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

Sometimes being at the right place at the right time can bring a surprise when outdoors.

I went coyote hunting at my friend John P.'s farm in Sanilac County last weekend, and while no dogs were taken, the deer herd there stepped up to center stage.

His family plants alfalfa and the deer are quite happy there. Well, except maybe once October hits.

At one point as dusk began to fall, practically every deer in the area streamed under our elevated blind and were oblivious of any of our movements or calls. They were totally content and so were we watching the 20 ruminants play and prance about.

That's why the hunting game is a never-know proposition.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Improving health

George is not fishing a hundred yards away from me to avoid my wayward casts along Lake Huron. He's just trying another spot.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

As promised, I made the gig Friday, April 6, at my friend George Boesch's Sanilac County, Mich., beach house that turned into a dual hunting/fishing extravaganza.

OK, that might be embellishing it a bit but I was in the chilly blue waters of Lake Huron casting a spoon amid reports that salmon and steelhead were hitting the shoreline for bait fish.

I was in the game, maybe not at the right time exactly, but anything can happen.

Twenty casts were enough for the shoulder right out of the shoot a mere five weeks after torn rotator cuff surgery.

Of course the newly repaired shoulder was NOT the one doing the bulk of the work and throwing from the left side in a stout northeast wind took some getting used to but the deal is this: that's likely the way it's gonna be from here on out. Unless I want to do this all over again in a couple of years from now.

No thank you.

And just other day it occurred to me that all of the thousands of casts I've made over the years might have also contributed to the breakdown of the tendons, along with the heavy bag workouts, Army pushups, etc.

But as the doc said, Who knows why they go bad? Some people's shoulders don't handle the workloads like others do.

Anyway, our timing to be at the beach was wrong and after being battered by the chop for a few rounds like a middleweight hopeful taking on Sergio Martinez, we retreated and opted for the coyote killing fields.

Unfortunately, much like with the fishing, our timing was off considering the full moon was the night before and it seemed like the only thing attracted to the late morning calls before George's monitor slipped up were turkey vultures.

Again, I was back in the game and now I'm thirsting for more.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Hitting the beach for steelhead

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

We interrupt this pre-season obsession over the upcoming spring gobbler opener to steelhead and salmon fish.

The annual outing was basically shelved while I was recovering from my most recent shoulder surgery but here it is April and I actually feel fairly decent.

The initial question I had was whether I would be able to pull a whopper in if I did actually hook one -- it's been awhile -- then there was the casting part.

And even though the wall setup in Port Huron requires little in the way of casting, I still didn't think I could heft a fish over the rails if it was in the major leagues size-wise.

But then my coyote hunting pal George Boesch of Clinton Township sent an invite my way to either fish off the Lake Huron beach in front of his Sanilac County cottage, and/or depending on the weather, possibly out of his small boat.

Couldn't pass it up.

I just hope it isn't too cold but most of the steelhead trips I remember always come with runny noses and numb fingers.

It wouldn't be spring if I wasn't trying recapture the glory of the 37-inch, 13-pound steelie I caught off a Grand Traverse Bay pier with no net and 8-pound test years ago when I was attending Michigan State University.

Either method seems doable with my situation the way it is now just as long as I don't expect to zing casts 30 yards.

And now, this just in from George: If the wind is not permitting, it will be a coyote hunt across the street.

Already sighted in the .223 so it's all good. I'm ready for either one.


The search in West Virginia for my father-in-law, who is presumed to have drowned after falling into the Monongahela River on Feb. 28 while fishing from a dock, has been called off by search and recovery officials.

Over the past weekend, a Coast Guard vessel used sonar to look from Star City, W.Va., all the way to Pittsburgh, which is nearly an hour-and-a-half drive by auto.

Closure for the family will have wait.