Fall is Coming!

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The Salsa Blackborow has been pulled out of the garage for a scouting ride. I have had a great summer playing with the kids and working hard at the shop. Hunting season is just right around the corner and I am so excited!

I keep asking my kids, if and when do they want to go hunting? My son has said yes for sure, daughter said no. A drive to work one day this past week. A epiphany hit, and started to think. Has my son really thought what was hunting all about? He is a picky eater and I am sure he wont want to try squirrel? The first animal most likely he will be getting after this fall to get some experience. As I type this I look back to my first fall days of hunting with my father and uncle. I carried around a Ruger 10/22 with a banana clip or my uncles 410. I was afraid of big loud guns. To this day I just shoot a 270. Out in the woods we came up on a porcupine trying to get away from us. My uncle said we have to give it a sporting chance before shooting. No shooting animals in trees or sleeping. I am sure we were not going to eat it. Just wanted to give me the first chance of killing an animal to see and feel what it does to a human. A young teenager I have shot many birds and squirrels and didn’t eat all of them.

So back to my son on the question of, If you shoot it, will you eat it? I picked him up from school and was heading to his sisters school. I started the conversation of, dude hunting season is coming up. He said really? I really want to go with you. I replied its going to be great! Then I said. You know if you shoot a squirrel that you have to eat it? I instantly saw a the look on his face of, I did not think about that? I said you know hunting is just not all about killing animals. It’s a lot more! I told him we can go and he has to try the squirrels and we will prepare many different ways to find the way he likes. Trying not to be too hard but want him to understand what hunting is. Well I am super excited to get him out in the woods figuring out how to shoot and testing his human skills on feeding his belly. I have been wanting to try squirrel hot wings. Grill up some squirrel and toss them into a bucket of wing sauce.

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The Salsa and I have been getting along for years now and I kind of think it’s time for the new Salsa BlackBorow? Plan on really working the bike and hunting this year. The Flat River State Game area is right down the road from and its a easy bike ride to it. Scouting is on my brain. Trying to see just where it will give me that chance for a deer. I still see my uncles for first week of gun season. October is a busy month so I am not sure I will get many chances for that. Still shooting my bow for that practice. Today need to glue on some new fletches. All mine are old.

I am going to cut this post short and go for a wonderful fall ride in the game area.

more pics coming soon

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Life picked up a little

I have been putting off on adding something here. Life changed in a great way. First big one and adds to the fun and stress. We bought a house and love the change. Got a place on the Flat River in Belding. Added some time to my drive to work. Today actually had to take car in for new struts. Really don’t want to spend money on the car.

I have been fishing and it started off slow. Don’t know why? My idea was fish were spawning up stream at the dam. Or fish were still in there winter spots. All guesses, but a few years will tell me exactly what and why. Finally got into some big smallmouths.

Hope to get after them some more in a day or so. Been tying some more.

Bad hair day was my go to fly for years. First few trips to the river I passed on them. I started using them again and it works again.

Gonna cut it short with some photos of what will be my fly studio.

Clear Your Mind By Getting Lost

Most of us have jobs. Most of us have a family to provide for and need attention. Many of us still need to Get out and Get Lost. I watch and read certain blogs, youtube channels and Netflix for my adventure fix at home. It’s not enough. But it cost money and time, time is money. I have spoke at a few events about winter and summer overnight Bikepacking. One thing I really try to get across is that anyone is capable of this with a family or on a budget. Most of my trips are small, one overnight. Kiss my girlfriend goodnight and head out for 6-10 miles on my bike and find a spot to sleep. I usually have a campfire and eat a snack then get in my sleeping bag. I wake up start cooking breakfast or coffee and pack at the same time. I roll out and head home. You don’t have to do this major 2-3night trip to have fun and get a little adventure. I pack the same gear for a quick local overnight as I would pack for a week trip. Less food obviously. Gives you a great chance to get acquainted with your gear. If something fails to were you have to leave then you are not far from home or a vehicle. With doing small trips you get the confidence of a animal and feel you are capable of bigger trips.

I use this same approach with hunting and fishing. Living in Michigan I have a body of water not far. Pack your bike with some fishing gear and go for a few hours fishing. You don’t need a guide to get fish. Ask a buddy where would be a good spot to get your feet wet? A good chance a buddy will not give you the spot. That pisses me off majorly! I do have a river across the street from where I live (The Flat River). I did some research on what is in that river. I saw fishermen down there, and worked the fishing hard for 2 years. I would come home from work and have dinner with my girlfriend. Then head out for a 2 hour fishing adventure. I have a tough time deciding to go up north fishing because I have a river so close that I can do quick fishing trips. It’s tough to swallow catching no fish after spending a bunch of money for the trip. I still catch no fish sometimes but I just walk across the street and hang dry my waders for the next day. So don’t limit yourself to big expensive trips. Take all chances you can get to clear the mind with a mini adventure.

Don’t go out and get a job as a lumberjack. Go out and help clear a local trail. It is easy to find a local club that loves new volunteers for help maintaining a trail. Take your time and you might get to use a saw. Take a class and become certified as a chain saw guy. People will call you just for your skills to help clear trail. I have a local Trail here in town called The North Country Trail. So on Sundays I takes little walks along the trail and sometimes bring a axe and hand saw. It’s a great workout and lets you play with some fun adult toys. But remember to be safe and contact the local chapter of the trail for info on helping.

So what I am getting at is we all need some nature. We all need to get back to what our ancestors went thru before the city life. Everyone has a piece of nature close that we can use frequently. So Go Out and Get Lost!

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This pick is from today. It was a quick fishing for steelhead on a cold day. Getting my feet wet with using a spin rod and egg sacks. Now I am on to picking the kids up at school.

Love Nature

I chose to skip on Hunting this week and take my kids and girlfriend to the hunting property. I was a short trip up there to grab 2 weeks of trail cam photos and my ground blind. We rolled into my fathers Saturday afternoon and quickly headed up to the property to have some daylight. It has been snowing all last week here in Kent County and hoping the same for the east side of the state. The task for the weekend was to grab the blind and show the kids the property, then go to a Christmas party on Sunday down by flint.

When we arrived I put the kids in some winter gear and we grabbed some fire wood for a little fire. I grabbed 2 bags of corn and a sled to get out in the woods. Andrea my girlfriend came with me and it was a blast just showing her around. I’ve been going there since I was 10 and it means a ton to me to share it with my family. As Andrea and I walked checking out different footprints in the snow and I pointed out different features.  I noticed a few different trees had fallen across the lane, more work for me in the spring. I drop the bags of corn at a spot that I planned on moving the trail cam to. I noticed my ground blind had a collapsed roof from about 4-6 inches of snow. We quickly broke down the blind and cleaned up the area. Loaded it on the sled to swing around and grab the trail cam data card. As I reached it I noticed some fresh marks and pee at the buck scrap. that gave me some hope that the rut was still happening and a buck or 2 made thru the hunting season. I was wondering did we scare off the deer or was it earlier? turned out it was around 1pm that 2 bucks were at the scrap. We were there about 4pm, just enough light to get in and out. Andrea n I headed back with the sled full of gear and I couldn’t wait to see what was on the data card. Kids met us half way back and they had a fire going, papa started of course. We sat at the truck eating some snacks and I was getting the computer ready for a show. I had about 116 pics on it.1300:121617:22F:0000:CAMERA1:7E[145:0061]G[008:0x0006]

this one hit the spot after a little bigger buck did. A funky little spike. I don’t think I saw this one during hunting.

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A little bigger and maybe older than the other one. I don’t know for sure but one of the guys shot at a 4pt and missed during rifle season. So this one has 4pts on it but onside is a spike, other has a fork and little spike off its forehead. I have photos of him peeing at the spot just before this shot. damn I love nature and being able to capture it!2213:121117:20F:0000:CAMERA1:6E[084:0868]G[056:0x0076]

A nice doe wondering around in the snow.

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before the snow and a cute doe and fawn playing at night.

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I will never know why it is running thru the night.

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I am assuming the buck is stopping it’s feet at something if you notice the both pics. a good little spike that will be bigger the years to come.

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Calling her little piggy. She wonders up to the camera for a sniff.

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Maybe I left to much human scent on the camera?

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This pic is from me leaving on the last weekend I hunted, im just off the side walking away. This scrap has been used for more than 30 years on the same tree. The scrap rotates around from different years but always under this tree. My uncle has had a tree blind to the right on the photo for more than 30 years. My father and I have fixed the tree blind and now its used by another hunter because I quit going up for the last 7 years. I am back with more knowledge and patience. I plan on hunting in a different area so others can use this spot. Actually the tree stand is directly behind the tree to the left of its trunk. the little mounds are the property line that the new owner of that property put in about 10 years ago.

I am going to leave the camera here at this spot for 6 months and retrieve it in the spring. plan on getting. Few more and place them around the area I am going to work for the next couple of years unless it proves me to try a different spot. I have some major plans and hope I get the time to put them in place. Really looking forward to next year hunting season.

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.

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!