Muzzleloader season

After I got home from my time off for rifle season I thought I was done? My blind was packed and was thinking of next year. I was bummed and thought I had 3 empty tags from 2017 season. After a couple of days passed I’m reading Michigan hunters guide and quickly figured out I had some time still. I own a muzzleloader that I don’t use often. I have a private anterless deer tag. I still have chances. I still might get a deer. My time is not up! I put the dates that worked with my schedule and BOOM! 2 more chances for meat. 2 weeks had past and rifle season came to a end and muzzleloader season began. December 2nd came fast and I was on my way. Instead of stopping for the night before at my fathers I just drove to camp. Setup camp in the dark, didn’t want to go out and put my blind up. I was unclear where I wanted to hunt? We have plenty of tree stands up but 3 of them are in spots that I believe are not traveled by deer. I wake up the next morning and decide to stay out and decide where the ground blind was going to be set. I had a great breakfast of eggs and walleye. Get my gear set and head out to find the perfect spot for the next couple of days. A spot that I believe will work, if deer are still recovering from rifle season. I set it up and make sure I use plenty of twigs and branches to hide the blind good as possible. I setup a trail cam about 50 yards away overlooking a trail I was hunting. I pour some acorn thick sludge crap for a attractant that just might take the deers mind off my blind. I get back to camp for a big lunch and load up for the night hunt, prepared to sit all day till dark. I know the acorn attractant won’t be effective till later days but hoping it helps. I sit and sit till the night with no sight of deer. Lots of squirrels and others such and birds. After another wonderful walleye dinner and reading a book on steelhead I hunkered down for the night, my friend called. He said his boy and him were heading up for some chats around the fire.

He got in camp around 10 and we quickly got a fire roaring and just talked. His son asked if we always talk? I said yes because we haven’t saw each other in a year or so. And I also said even growing up we chatted for hours. The moon was spectacular and kept us staring for hours.

I called some coyotes to let his son hear them and forgot about him possibly getting scared. We ended up staying up until 430am and just had a blast of a time. I told them I would skip the morning hunt to make a killer breakfast with eggs and walleye. We would take a hike off into the woods to teach him about the back forty. We loaded up some gear and went out after shooting the ruger 10-22. We pulled the trail cam card to see if any critters were around. I am really hoping to capture the coyotes on film.

The trail cam gave me my first view of any does in the area. This year I have only seen bucks or spikes. After the afternoon hike we parted ways and it was time to get back to the prize. Hit the woods about 230pm and just sat with nothing happening. It was getting depressing and it was starting to hurt. The trail cam shots gave me hope but nothing. I had the morning to look forward too. I had some hope. I had to believe I was going to get my chance. I ate dinner and just wanted to get to bed for the morning. Morning came and I slowly rose from my tent and sleeping bag. I gathered my stuff just going thru the motions of hunting but thinking of getting home to my family. I’ve put so much pressure on myself this year. I haven’t hunted in years and expecting to have meat in the freezer. I get the blind and it’s a little lighter out than I would’ve liked but hey I am looking at the drive home. No deer happened to come around. I gathered my sd card from trail cam and moved it to a buck scrap that has been there for more than 30 years. I say that because I have been hunting this land for 30 years and my uncle showed me the scrap when I was little. It’s close to my ground blind right now. In 2 weeks I will be back up for hunting this area for anterless late season. I’ve already am deciding on where to hunt next year and acquire about 3 more trail cams to keep a eye out for signs of making the right choice.

Next hunt is in 2 weeks.

Michigan Rifle Opener Report

Michigan deer season opener was a wonderful time. Car was packed and ready to go right after work and a meeting. I raced out of there to head for my fathers. I landed at his place about 11pm. We quickly said our hellos and I hit the sack for some ZZZZ’s. We went out for breakfast and I headed my way. I landed at Franks around noon and searched for some items. I purchased a Ruger 10-22 that is for my children but I sure love shooting one. I made my way to the grocery store in Standish and got the food that would last me until I gotta deer. I made my way to the property and setup camp and headed to find my hunting spot.IMG_4037

I checked out 2 spots that I have been thinking about and went with a different spot. This one gave me more cover and hoping to see the field behind me. It was in the same area but tucked in some bigger pine trees. My back started to hurt Sunday and it was Tuesday. Was worried about it with sleeping in a tent and sitting on my little chair with no back. I made dinner and a fire some some good times to myself. It was dark and all I wanted was the morning to come.IMG_4041

I had forgotten my pillow and was really happy to see a pillow that my daughter had left in the car. I opted for my big old hunting sleeping bag and it was perfectly warm. The morning came and I got up to get coffee brewing and get ready. It took to long for the coffee to brew with the wind and I didn’t get out early as I wanted. I sit down in my blind and look up and see a white tail scurry off in some thick trees. I figured it was a deer laying in the thick trees that I spooked. The day light was upon us and shots were being fired around the state. It’s a beautiful day with gun shots off in the distance. IMG_4042

As I sit and sip on some coffee not hearing anything and seeing nothing all of sudden a spike that I saw 2 weeks ago came bouncing thru like it needed a place to sit and rest. one bounce and it quickly noticed my blind and kept running past me. I turned to watch it bounce into the field and make its way to the pines. I figured I would get noticed sitting in the ground blind that was just placed there the day before but I was hoping for a second to take a shot. My back started to get annoyed and with not seeing anything else I made the decision to head back to Franks and get a chair with a real back for some support. I leave my blind at 11am and just want to get back with a chair to keep the hunt going. It started to rain and Franks had just what I needed. The one that felt the best was the most expensive and didn’t break down to a small packable size. It had to do the job though. I head back to camp with high hopes of the night hunt and get the job done.IMG_4043

The chair was awesome with no cup holder. The night hunt was nothing. I get back around 130pm and quickly head to the spot for the night. I brought some snacks and kept spirits high. Didn’t see a thing just kept rain and raining. I noticed my blind was leaking in spots were they had stitches from things. I noticed that in the morning hunt and bought some goop for patching, it worked fast and great. Came in after the night had fallen. One thing I love about this spot is a easy in and out. It was close to camp and felt confident when entering and leaving.

Day 2

offered the morning to me and I was up a bit earlier with coffee made and dressed with plenty of darkness. I silently reached my blind and sat with about a hour before daylight. I notice at total darkness I sit freaking still, as light happens I tend to move around more. I figure in darkness I can’t see anything so I have no idea if something is out there to see me move. The sun comes up and shines right in my blind, kind of blowing up my chest area. I do wear all black when sitting in a ground blind because any light shows up in a dark blind. All of sudden a bigger spike comes from behind me entering my right side view. it walks slowly and cautiously and looks right at me. it makes a few bounces just behind a pine right in front of me. I raise my gun about half way. the deer is almost to the left of it. I push the safety off and the deer looks in my direction again like it heard the slightest noise of the safety. It glances and bounces straight away from me into the thick stuff, its gone. Yeah I was bummed and upset at me. The 2 things I keep thinking about is my netting is down in the blind. That gives a better chance for the deer to make me out and say human. The second thing is do I sit with the safety off so the deer doesn’t have a chance to hear it being clicked off. I was really bummed, it was only a spike but it had a big body with some delicious red meat. The rest of the morning I sat just playing that deer over in my head, didn’t see anything else. I decided to sit with the safety off and the netting up. Went back for a load up on fresh socks and add some clothes to my layering and went out for the night. I pretty much sat in the blind all day except a hour. I was determined to see another deer, I saw nothing for the night sit. As sitting I decided to change location of the blind in the same area. I had been looking at some trees straight in front of me and thought that was the spot. So after the day 3 morning hunt I was going to relocate the blind. While I sit thru the night hunt of day 2 I also made other adjustments. First was to decide to shoot thru the netting. I was taking my chances with that just so the deer wouldn’t see me so easy.IMG_4047

The other was to take some paracord and use it so I can lower the windows to make them smaller.IMG_4053

Some much needed improvements to the Barronett ground blind. I do wish they made easier to get the right height without me making my own straps for it.

Day 3

The next morning I didn’t see a thing. I was bummed and started to doubt my spot. Thinking that those were the only deer that came thru there and I already missed my chance. It was the coldest morning and sat till I heard some others roll into camp. Once others come back to camp it kind of ruined my spot because I was so close to camp. I kept thinking that I have been the only one seeing deer so I must have been doing something right?IMG_4054

I went back for some breakfast and to change my location of the blind.IMG_4057

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This spot looked south and west with being tucked in a even bigger pine to the east. I was hoping to not be glowing with the sun rising and give me a better shot at something coming from the west. The tall grass seems even taller because I am sitting lower than the last spot. I was sitting for the night of day 3 and made some slight changes to the weeds in front of me, sneaky. I tied in more branches for some more cover, I sprayed the blind down again with scent sealer.IMG_4059

The night was proving to be not a good spot. So it ended with me heading to town for some more food to have a good meal with friends.fullsizeoutput_4d1

We grilled some Kogels and onions for a wonderful meal. We had a few beers and talked about what we didn’t see.

Day 4

This was the time to shine I was thinking. I moved my blind for a better chance, I kept telling myself. Coffee was made, some others had made it to camp the night before. I was banking on them messing up the back woods and send them my way. This area I was hunting had been showing some reason for the morning hunt. I told the guys to lead the way so I wouldn’t scare them and give my location away. It’s dark and I’m sitting still. the eyes play tricks on you, like a deer walking 20 feet from you. The light starts to break. I was wishful thinking because of last mornings. I’m starting to get cold and I can see now so I scan the area with my fogging binoculars and think. It’s coffee time, give me some warm liquids in my body. I have been using my Stanley thermos so you know the noise they make when you open it and pour into a metal container. I take a sip and its hot as shit and spit it out onto my jacket. I look up and see the back of a deer and which looks like the deer put its head down. It was about 30 yards away. Gun is resting on my lap with the safety off, netting is up to cut down on my human shape. I lower my left arm with coffee in hand to set it down. I look at the ground so it doesn’t spill. I look up and raise the gun. IT’s GONE! I don’t hear anything like a thump or crashing of hooves hitting twigs while running. I don’t see a white tail galloping away. I notice 2 ear like objects right in the same spot the deer was. I pull up my binoculars and they fog, lower them and bring them up again. It’s super moist out this morning and slightly raining. My binos have been fogging all week but right now is not the time. the 2 spots look like they are moving and twisting just like deers ears would be. After about 15mins I decide to stop looking at the deer bedding in front of me. there was nothing there. I was fooling myself and it pissed me off that I made another mistake. I hear some voices and I believe my father is at camp for the morning. I quickly say hi and give him a hug. We high tail it to Franks for some binoculars that I was hoping not purchase until next year. It started to rain on our way and we stop for lunch and head back to camp for the evening hunt. I picked up some Vortex Diamondback 8×42. I have set my sights on those because of what I have heard. My dad was going to sit with me in the blind. That was the reason for getting the ground blind. We sat and glassed the woods together, it was snowing and making a perfect night to be out in the woods. My father can’t sit as quiet as he use to. A couple of times I had to tell him to be quiet. The times had changed. We didn’t see anything and the snow was turning into rain. My father and I got back to camp and parted ways. I had one more morning and then it was time to head back to the family.

Day 5

Which had really nothing exciting. I sat in the blind thinking of what ways I was going to change for next year. I located a spot for the blind. I am thinking of doing some natural food plotting and found a tree with a tree stand potential. I packed up and said my goodbyes. I never even set foot in the back forty of the property. I liked my choice I made to hunt and am going to make it happen. I figured my year was over for deer. I have been thinking and already asked for time off in December. going to bust out my muzzleloader and go for late season antlerless.

2017 Michigan Rifle Season

November 15th is coming up fast. People say the orange army is hitting the woods, I take that like they are upset or making fun of the hunters that use a rifle or shotgun. I bow hunt and use a gun, sometimes a muzzleloader. The more I think about bow hunting. The more I dislike it. Steven Rinella gave me something to think about, A arrow bleeds out the animal to death, A bullet kills the animal faster. As I started to think about that I questioned should I hunt with a bow? Well I am not going to give it up for small game and fun target practice. I won’t give it up for deer archery season either but the people that poke fun at The Orange Army can suck it! I started hunting both with my father and uncle for the meat, for the family tradition. Sure my father had some beers and my uncle had a bottle of whiskey, but know one drank too much and acted out of control. I can’t wait to pass this onto my children. Do I drink? No, but I can have a tasty beverage if I choose to. I choose to not drink because most beers out there are not what I like. I like a beer aged in barrels and 9% and above. I look for a great flavor of hops and malt.

So I am doing the last of the laundry, packing all the gear that I might need. I am taking a bigger stove, frying pan, and coffee pot. I plan on sleeping in my ground blind so I can be in the spot faster and less noise for the opening morning. I am switching out a lightweight sleeping bag for the giant heavy sleeping bag that I have used for years in the cabin. I still haven’t chose my spot, 70% sure but I need to look at it again. I plan on getting in Tuesday and ride my Salsa Blackborow around putting a grounds eye in the exact spot. Once I choose a spot setting up the blind and getting cozy for the night. Do I question setting up the day before and sleeping in the blind? Yes! A few spots will be on the far away spot from shooting or where I think the deer will be coming from. So that is a slight issue. One spot that I have been thinking about is going to need a real good camp blending job. This year I believe my father and uncle won’t be up there, I am a little bummed. I still have to get the job done.

I have had 2 customers bring in their fat bikes for the opener at the shop. It’s good to see others using a bicycle instead of a gas machine. I have been riding fat bikes since 2010 and it is a great mode of transportation for hunting and fishing. I ride one with 100mm rims and 5″ tires so 6-8 inches of fresh snow is still doable. The smaller 4inch tires do great with a max of 4-6 inches of fresh white stuff. My area doesn’t plan on seeing any snow but roaming of 5psi of air is perfect for the ground. Thought about making a decoy to attach to the bike as a cover up. I decided to not, maybe next year. I am not sure if I believe a decoy is a good thing? this year has been a bigger roar of fat bikes for hunting, I would recommend trying it. A lot of people say they are to expensive but look at what is spent on the other hobbies? They do cost some money for one that will last and be reliable in the field.

Time for bed, car will be packed tomorrow and just have one more day of work and a meeting after. Then off to a beautiful place that relieves stress and is great for the soul! So get out and give fat bikes, hunting, fishing, hiking just get outdoors and enjoy nature.

Lets Do This!

The goal was to get after it! I had a set time off work for last week to hunt and fish over on the east side of the state. I had some really good feelings, even called a friend who does taxidermy. Asking about how much for a deer mount and how to skin it just in case. Loading my phone with some good old country music for the drive and just in case I wanted to hear some while there. I loaded a few offline areas onto my OnXmap app for no cell service areas. I left after work instead of leaving in the morning to get a jump on the drive. I made notes on the windage and temps for those days. I was planning so far ahead for greatness. Made gear checklist with my daughter. Made a grocery list for stopping in Standish. Made a list for stopping at Franks outdoors. I was loving the process! I was so excited to see what my uncles land looked like after not being there in 5 years. The last time I was there I was just told by my ex-wife to leave and we need to be apart for a while. I was craving what being out in the wilderness can do for someone. I had fishing gear just incase I stopped off at the Rifle River in Omer MI or fish the Au Gres River near camp. Shotgun, both bows, ammo, binos needed to kill a animal to eat. Sick and tired of eating farm raised things and slaughtered with no heart involved. Yes I do like to kill a animal, but I want to taste and feel what nature has to offer us as humans. I am a meat eater, I hunt to eat. I shoot a squirrel for a small meal and use the fur for tying flies. I prefer harvested feathers and fur from me or someone else, look into how all the fly shops get there furs and feathers. It’s a passion, it’s time with my father and uncle, it’s something I want to pass onto my children.IMG_3974

The weather looked just ok for the weekend. I left Thursday night and stopped at my fathers for the night. He lives about a hour from The Property. Allowed me a quick shot Franks outdoors and see about any equipment I am not aware of, yet. I chose not to purchase anything and made my way to Standish MI. There I stopped in at the grocery store for eggs, cheese and coffee. Stopped off in Omer MI to see the Rifle River at a public access ramp, river looked real nice and just wanted to get going. I made it to the dirt road to the Property and checked out the Au Gres river which looked pretty fishy, but just needed to see the Property.IMG_4030

I found a spot to park and setup my tent, get everything in order and made lunch.IMG_3992

It was a beautiful sunny day with temps a smidge warmer than I wanted. I was eager to get out back and see what the tree stands looked like, where were the new ones I have been hearing about. I heard a friend of my uncles son has been prepping the land. Some new spots with tree stands and some older stands moved. He was starting to set in a food plot which I have always wanted and he put it in the exact spot that just seems right. I loaded my pack with hunting clothes and a make shift ground blind just incase it was needed. I love hunting in trees but I have to feel 100% comfortable for me to use it. I am slightly afraid of heights, it’s the climbing up and coming down that gets me nervous. Once I am up in a stand I really love the view. I headed straight back to my uncles old tree stand that has been repaired many times. It looked solid still, had 2 milk crates for a seat and I climbed up. looked around and didn’t want to put my smell everywhere so I decided to give it a sit. wind was coming from the north hitting my dead in the face, gusts 13mph and up. I pulled my jacket out of my bag and threw it over my sweater I was wearing. My pants had no long underwear under them and brought my hunting pants also. I was just to scared to put them on up in the tree. So I sat in the tree for about 4 hours with squirrels everywhere, man I sure wanted the fat grey one that hung out around me. Didn’t want to screw up my chances on spooking a deer so I just kept letting them run around. The one thing that I forgot was batteries for my headlamp, still had my flashlight. So I just sat until dark and quietly got out of the tree with no sight of a deer. Saw 2 different types of woodpeckers, making a shit tone of noise. a couple of crows making a noise that I have never heard, sounded like it had a chunk of food in its throat. Another one sat in the same tree after the first one left and made the same noise. Heard some turkeys off on the other properties near. A great sit for nature but no deer. As I started to walk out I began to shiver horribly, legs were just really cold. should have put on the pants at the bottom of the tree before climbing up. I was so cold I had to make sure I kept my tongue out of the way of my teeth, they just start to shiver at any time. I was cold and needed to warm up fast. made it back to camp and changed into warmer gear, the temps dropped pretty fast, not super cold just didn’t have what I normally would wear hunting. Went off into the pines to collect fire wood but all of the wood was soaked, it had rain a day before and a week ago. I could not get anything to stay lit in the fire pit, that was all I had to do while waiting for bed. So I made dinner and started to enjoy the dark sky. Watched a big moon rise above the trees and just enjoyed myself. Heard a pack of yotes multiple times cruising thru the forest.IMG_3996

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So I started to get a little bored and decided to get in my tent for the night, it was around 830, never go to bed at those times. I fell asleep fairly fast and was woken up by a car pulling into the property. I checked the time and see who it was, around 1am and it was my uncles step-son. The dude was hammered and he always is. I felt a little bummed I wasn’t gonna be alone but Ill need to make the best of it. He invited me to sleep in his RV that had been parked there, I took the invitation and fell asleep. The next morning I was going to need a different spot because he had been sitting in the stand I sat in the night before. I was unclear where to go so I opted to lay in bed and sleep a little more. Its super easy for me to skip the morning hunt because sleeping is fun. I woke up around 9am after the other guy went out for the hunt. was woken up by hearing a car pull up, looked out the window to see my father. My father and I talked about him driving over Saturday to hang out, good to see him do that. The other guy came back with no good news and we all just walked around trying to light the fire pit, all wood was way to wet. Around 11 I decided to get after those squirrels with my shotgun. headed out for a walk and some sits till 1. The squirrels were quiet and none to be seen. I was hoping for squirrel for lunch. after I got back my father and I took a drive just check out the area. I have found a HAP from my OnXmap app that I wanted to see what the rules are. IMG_4003

we found a cow skull and just as I was about to pick it up we noticed a trap went off. Earlier I chatted to my uncle and he has let a local trapper trap on a chunk of land. I felt really bad setting off his trap, the trapper let us know later. We get back to camp and I set out for the evening hunt. earlier that day I walked around looking for squirrels and found the other tree stands. I was checking my notes on windage and set out for a stand. walked up to it and climbed up but felt uneasy with getting in and out. I went to another stand that was 10 feet taller, I am calling the Hightower. Climbed up that and felt right at home getting in. So I was there for the night.IMG_4007

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It’s the tallest stand I have ever been in but super easy to get in and climb down. It started to rain on and off. My notes said rain was due for the night, spot on in the forecast. I sat for a few hours and had a porcupine and a small spike to my right. I was unable to shoot but really wouldn’t have taken a shot anyways, just a little guy.IMG_4005

I spooked the porcupine up a tree on my way into the stand and he came down to get after dinner after I was in the tree. The spike kind of came out of nowhere. I had been using my binos and had been thinking no deer was gonna get close without me seeing it, I was wrong. The spike was eating 5 feet from the porcupine for about 20mins. Just before dark he wondered off when the rain picked up, I didn’t want to give away my spot so was really glad he walked off. Made it back to camp and my father and I headed into town for some pizza, ground beef and green olives. Dropped me off and he headed back home. I settled in and watched a movie with the other guy, Jurassic Park. Got up for the morning hunt this time, besides it was my last day. Rain kind of stopped and the wind was still in my favor that hightower stand. Real foggy out, it just seemed like I was going to see a big deer this morning.IMG_4023

It wasn’t raining but drops fell from the trees all morning. The night before and this morning I was using my Patagonia fly fishing jacket, it’s the nicest rain jacket I have ever owned.IMG_4017

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The woods were freaking cool, any minute I expected to see a deer. I did not! Duty called and the morning hunt was cut a little shorter than normal, hurried back to camp.

I packed up everything, taking my time to leave and head back home. Stopped by Franks to get a ground blind, I chose Barronett Big Mike blind. hoping to get my father out in a cozy old man set-up. I plan on laying wool blankets down and having a sleeping bag so I can sleep all night and be ready for open day rifle. I have 2 spots in mind depending on the wind. one is a open field that will give me a long range shot and the other is a close encounter attack, which one do I set-up in first?

So I only saw one deer, didn’t fish. I walked away with another great memory of hunting. Yes I could ask for more but I don’t need to, I loved every minute of it. Next chance is rifle season!