Friday, August 24, 2012

What's coming up for this high voltage hunter

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

Remember this: Sometimes it's not spectacular. Sometimes it's mundane.

That's how it goes before the arrival of fall's hunting seasons, mainly deer archery.

It takes a lot of practice in my opinion. So when that moment of truth comes, when Mr. Big steps out of  the mist and into your shooting lane, everything is instinctive.

For me, the flinging of arrows also helps me keep sane while waiting for that magical opening day.

In addition, those old standbys in the gun cabinet that will be used need to be sighted in and checked over to make sure everything is in working order.

This is the time of the year when my head is swimming with all the possibilities of upcoming seasons: goose, turkey, grouse and woodcock and then finally king of kings, deer.

A guy can get ridiculously loaded up with tags if left unrestrained. At some point reality needs to set in ... at least for this lone wolf stalker. I mean with family, work and other obligations, there are only so many that can be done or done well for that matter.

I've been tentatively toying with the idea I may try to do a little more bird hunting this autumn. Not that I think my big lug of a mixed Lab is going to be any better; it's probably because I only got out a handful of times last season.

But what will probably happen -- like always -- is I'll get on the trail of a big buck and those plans will go out the window.

Here are the early seasons I'm zeroing in on off the top of my head:

Sept. 1: Nuisance goose.

Sept. 15: Grouse.

Sept. 15: Turkey.

Sept. 22: Woodcock

Sept. 25: Bear. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I drew a bear tag for the third season in the Newberry zone of the Upper Peninsula.)

Oct. 1: Deer archery.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Up on the roof and hitting the spots

The cloud cover over the Black River in St. Clair County, Mich., made it nice for bass fishing on Monday, Aug. 13.

MAHFS photo

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

As advertised, on Friday I was on the second-story roof of my house zinging arrows into the deer target.

With temperatures in the mid-70s,  and nice breeze to boot, the opportunity was too nice to pass up. And lately, more curly brown leaves are floating onto the deck, triggering a response in me similar to a Pavlov dog. 

It was the first such exercise in awhile and it showed.

I can't believe how everything else was a bit shakier from a year ago, even climbing up the ladder
seemed to require more effort.

But the final arrow of the round hit the 10-ring, so good enough.

A most promising element was how I only had to crank the Martin compound down a quarter turn. My recently repaired shoulder has improved greatly but I will need to be steadier. More practice will take care of this.

So if I decide to go to the Upper Peninsula with the bow for bear in September I should be fine. I still haven't made up my mind yet whether to take the compound or the 7 mm Savage. What will likely happen is I'll bring both and alternate the gigs. I just discovered I drew a turkey tag in that zone so I'll need the bow.


In other activities by yours truly: I was victorious in a spontaneous bass "tournament" against the teflon brother-in-law Monday, Aug. 13.

I had the home water advantage on the Black River in St. Clair County. Not that it should have helped me that much since I don't fish it as much as I would like.

Another part of this that downgrades the win is he was using my gear and an "affordable" rod of his choosing from Meijer.

He went with a Quantum rig, which is what he prefers for the rivers and creeks in his home state of West Virginia.

I had the first fish of the morning as we made it out from the weedy canal into the river. It wasn't a bad largemouth.

There were a few missed fish afterward before Mike hoisted one out from a deep pool around the side of a dock an hour later.

I broke the tie with another one as we returned to the canal where the Jeep was waiting for us. The time was such -- we were in the middle of

MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold
To the left of those tall reeds is where I caught
both of my bass during a spontaneous bass
"tournament" against my brother-in-law Mike.

moving -- that brother-in-law's usual adept skills at escaping defeat were foiled.

"You took another fish from me," he said. "But that's what you're supposed to do after someone misses one; put something different in the same spot."

What happened was Mike got a pretty good hit after he zipped a buzz bait next to a lily pad but he couldn't land the fish. I followed his cast by dropping a green Senko right behind him and hooked the rascal.

I'm sure there is a butt kicking coming my way the next time we go out in the Mountain State, which may be in early September, so I'm not going to bask in the limelight for long.

It looks like the next outing will be for coyote on Sunday so get back to me and we will see if I'm successful at long last.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The usual summer archery gig

For some reason, my best shots of the day came on the bizarre targets. I think this one was a giant frog.
MAHFS photo

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

On Sunday, I took in the archery shoot at Silver Trails Boy Scout Camp in Jeddo, St. Clair County.

And despite a typical crash at the end of the course, which sent my score into the depths of hilarity, I enjoyed myself.

The weather was perfect -- low humidity with temperatures in the low 80s -- and a mixture of puffy white clouds and bluebird skies. It was great day for a walk through the woods.

Even the bugs were moderate. However, I was warned by one couple about the tiny mosquitoes before getting started on the fun course.

"You have bug spray?" they asked.

"Yep," I assured them, and even pulled out the can from my fanny pack and began spraying my ankles while they were talking to me.

I was still in the outdoors game mainly because I had just been coyote hunting the previous weekend and had the canister of "Backwoods Off" pegged from memory where it was in the garage, otherwise the answer would have been "nope." It was slipped into the fanny pack just before I walked out the door and headed up Wildcat Road in the Jeep.

It was also quite breezy, which assisted in keeping the bloodsuckers at bay.

Mainly with these shoots for this Robin Hood, it's all about shaking off the cobwebs. I'm not gonna try and fool anyone. I know I'm not winning any archery shoot. But by the time Oct. 1 rolls around, I will be ready and confident to put an ethical shot on a whitetail.

This is because I prepare closer to how I will be hunting in the fall woods on the home course.

I would bet 90 percent or more of my archery hunts are from the skies above in a Summit "Open Shot" tree stand while armed with a compound bow, and the shots are at a distance of 20 yards or less. Most of the shots at archery shoots that I have been on are from the ground.

There also is a sportsman course at Silver Trails with shots up to 40 yards. But I rarely if ever plan to take a shot that far with bow in hand during the season, so I opt for the other course.

If I was getting ready for a western elk hunt for instance, then I would make it a point to practice longer shots.

MAHFS photo
The Sunday shoot turned rugged for
me when a dead tree limb jumped out
and nailed my shin. The bump even
swelled up into the size of a golf ball.

I'm sure this isn't the first time previous blog readers have read this justification ... ouch!

Anyway, as the season approaches, a couple times a week you'll find me on the second story of the house raining terror with a Martin compound on a very worn deer target. And I don't quit a session until the shots are on. Dead on. 

In addition, I do a few full battle dress rehearsals with all the gear on and 22 feet above the ground in the tree stand. (Kind of nice at times having a woodsy yard for just this purpose.)

The truth be known: I'm still waiting to land the monster buck with archery gear, but I usually have decent success during the bow season. I know I'm still munching away on venison trying to clear up freezer space for the upcoming harvest.

So, yeah, I missed a few targets and had some laughs at my expense but that's how I roll, on the fun course.

The next shoot at Silver Trails is Sept. 1-2.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A midsummer's rustling sound

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

With the hypnotic buzzing of the insects keeping time all around me, the dusk air felt heavenly on my face and neck while I kept watch for whatever was slowly creeping under the fixed stand at George's Melvin farm.

Right at that moment I realized I was in the "zone" and every worry I had was pushed out of mind.

The perfect antidote.

Coyotes were the main objective but I did conduct a quick patrol of the ground hog's known hangouts before walking into the western section of woods on the property.

It was certainly Chuckie's lucky day because he decided not to stick his up neck from above the debris piles.

While walking along the edge of leafy soy beans, I startled a dinky fawn in a row 10 yards away, a million eyes' stare and then three seconds later, it bounded into a stand of maples and disappeared.

By the time I climbed up the ladder and got situated on the chair, I was definitely thankful the temperatures had backed down Sunday from the previous days.

And three minutes before my set departure time, there was a lone howl.

Too late for me to call in even if I could get the howler I brought to work right.

The howl came from the usual spot George and I have pinpointed just about every time we've been out.

I never did figure out what was under the stand.

This will require further investigation well into August and the upcoming months.

Yes, indeed.