Every September my friends and I get together for a long weekend of Hunting and Fishing. We have been doing this for almost 30 years now. The game has changed over the years but the outcome is always the same. A guy’s weekend where if the season is open we are going after it. This time of year it’s all small game. First on the list is squirrel followed by Grouse and Woodcock. We don’t do as much bird hunting anymore since none of us have a dog. We still get a few birds here and there but without a lab or setter it just ins’t the same.
Saturday morning started out very foggy so while we waited for the fog to burn off some we got in a little crappie fishing. Barry has been creating fish structures off his Mom’s dock and it is starting to pay off. In less than an hour we managed to get 10 crappie for a fish fry later. The fish turned off rather quickly but no matter, the fog was lifting so it was time to shoot a few squirrels. We grabbed the .22’s and headed to a stand of oaks not to far down the road. Barry headed south and I headed east. Dean was doing something else so I don’t know where he ended up. I was glad to see that the long winter didn’t affect the acron crop. If anything it helped, they were everywhere. I can’t remember the last time the crop was this good. An abundance of acorns usually means an abundance of squirrels. I saw a fair share of them that morning and was able to connect on two. If I carried my shotgun I’m sure I would have filled my 5 squirrel limit but I like using my Marlin Model 60. It is a lttle more challenging to hit a squirrel with a .22 but at least I don’t have to pick shot out of the meat. The drawback though is that since I have started using bi-focals trying to spot squirrels in the tree tops and then focusing through the scope is a little more difficult. I told myself that I would get a new scope this summer but I never got around to it. I paid the price for my procrastination later that day when I missed 3 easy shots. We could have stayed out a little longer but there was a group training search and rescue dogs using the area so we decided to stay out of their way. We had other things to keep us occupied, like fishing.
Later that evening we took the pontoon boat out and did a little fishing. We were hoping to add to the crappie in the fish basket but no such luck. I did catch a 17 inch largemouth bass but I don’t eat those so back he went. After dark we set up to do a little catfishing and I caught my personal best 31 inch Channel Cat. Turns out is qualifies for a Master Angler award. Not my proudest moment but I’ll take it. I don’t eat these either so after a few pics he went back in the water. That was it for day 1
Day 2 started out the same as day 1, foggy. We tried fishing again but no luck. It was like they just shut down. Later that day we talked to a few other anglers and they reported the same thing. Barry and I gave up after about 30 minutes and went squirrel hunting again. We managed 3 this morning and we checked out our opening day wood duck spot. With all the acorns we figured their would be a lot of wood ducks in our usual area. We had to change things up some since we no longer have a dog for retrieval duties. Had to make sure I could get the kayak back in our spot. It’s looking good since we jumped about 30 or 40 woodies from the area. Hope they stick around until the opener on Oct. 4th.
Around noon I packed up and headed to Oscoda to spend some time with my parents. I got there just in time for a dinner of the perch my Dad and I caught earlier this summer. Once that was done I drove over to one of my grouse and woodcock thickets to see if I could find a few birds. As usual the cover was thick and the warm, humid day made for rough walking. It seems like I was stopping every other minute to wipe the sweat off my face and glasses. I managed to put up 3 woodcock and 1 grouse. I never got a shot at the grouse but I did connect on one of the woodcock. Problem was I connected to well. It was what I like to call a dead on impact hit. I couldn’t have hit this bird any more square with my shot pattern. Some people would say that I should have let him get out a little farther but in prime woodcock cover you don’t always get that chance. 10 more feet and the bird can disappear. After that I found my trail out and walked back to the car. On the way though I decided to walk across the nearby creek to see how well a clear cut grew back in. The US forestry service Cut this area back in the 90’s and it never really took off like I hoped it would. Lots of dry summers kept the aspen from growing like it should. Well it finally came in and it looks pretty good. I took a quick walk through and managed to put up another woodcock. This are should be full of them come migration time. Fingers crossed.
The next morning I was back chasing squirrels again. This time I was in a new area I discovered during one of my kayak/bass trips down the AuSable. It is part of an ORV/Snowmobile trail system so that meant lots of easy walking through the oaks. Not as many acorns as in Sanford but still plenty to go around. I saw many squirrels but due to my own laziness I scared more than I shot at. Most of them were on the ground and I would walk right up on them and by then it was to late. Again if I had my shotgun it would have been a different story. I did managed to tag a few and I spent a lot of time walking around the area to get a good idea of how much huntable land there was. I’ll be back here throughout the season.
After lunch My dad and I took the .22 pistols down the hill to go plinking. I managed to pick up a few bricks of ammo so now we can actually shoot his Colt Woodsman and my Beretta Model 71. Once we were done with that we took a walk through the nearby oak trees to see if there were any squirrels about. I managed to shoot a grey right away and missed a black in the same tree. After that it was like they all disappeared. I soon found out why. The wind had shifted and we had a storm coming in. The wind started gusting to over 20 mph and it sounded like hail with all the acorns coming down. We got out of the woods and under cover just as the rain started to come down, which it did on and off for the rest of the night. So much for salmon fishing this evening.
The next morning I woke up to drizzle, a north wind and temps that were 30 degrees below yesterday’s temp. I decided to pack my stuff and head for home. I did swing back towards my new squirrel spot and walked around for about an hour. I manged to get one more black squirrel before calling it a day. I took some of the back roads home and stopped at a few gun shops along the way. I did find a new 3×9 32 mm scope for the .22 so hopefully my miss rate will drop drastically. Providing I get it sighted in soon. If not I can always do it after the opening morning duck hunt.
So for my long weekend I ended up with a bunch of squirrels, a few crappie, 1 master anlger Channel Cat and 1 decimated woodcock. Not bad considering how hot it still is. Not too much fun trying to hunt while swatting mosquitoes and wiping sweat off my glasses at the same time. Hopefully the duck opener is a little cooler.
Squirrels are getting freaky with skunks.
Master Angler Cat
Zoom in and try to count all the feathers.