I love October

6 10 2015

There’s just something about his month that makes it better than any other month of the year.  The cool breeze in the air, the change of the season from summer to Fall, the colors and most of all just about everything is open.  For a hunter and fisherman nothing beats October.  The fish are starting to go into their pre-winter feeding binge.  Steelhead are starting their trip back upstream.  Several hunting seasons open up.  So much to do and so little time.  Heck, back when I was in college I probably spent more time afield and on the water then I did in class.  Now with work and other responsibilities my time outdoors is not as much as I would like but I still try to squeeze in as much as possible.  Weather permitting…..

Saturday Oct. 3rd would start my month long obsession with trying to get in as much hunting and fishing as possible.  It was opening day of waterfowl season for Zone 2 and that means Wood Ducks in my favorite spot.  My friend Barry had counted 26 woodies there the day before so the outlook was promising.  All we could do now was hope that they didn’t decide to ride the 20 mph winds out of there during the night.  As legal shooting hours approached we had a few singles fly through and a pair landed about 75 yards down from our position.  With the overcast skies visibility was poor so it was hard to keep an eye on them.  Not much more happened for the next 10 minutes or so and then it started…..

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We had ducks coming in from all different directions.  Wood ducks are known for appearing without warning here but this was ridiculous.  Barry was shooting, I was shooting, Dean was shooting.  I was drawing a bead on a second duck when two landed in front of me.  Of course I focused on them and forgot about the other one but as they took off Barry shot and I lost track of them as well.  A few seconds later I singled out a lone drake and dropped him with one shot.  As I was confirming where he fell Barry shot another one in front of me and Dean was shooting at one flying over the top of us.  After several minutes of chaos we had 7 ducks down.  Barry shot 3, Dean shot 2 and I shot 2.  Now it was time to go pick them up before we lost track of where they were.  I launched the kayak and started retrieval duties (I miss my dog).  Of course as I was picking up ducks more started to fly in.  Dean took a couple of shots but missed.  After some searching for the seventh duck I was on my way back to shore.  After that flurry things were really quiet.  We only saw two more ducks and I managed to shoot one of them.  Dean left to go squirrel hunting but Barry and I stuck around for a bit longer to see if any mallards might fly in.  We had our wood duck limits filled so it was mallards from here on in.  Not that it mattered, we didn’t see any wood ducks either.  By 9:30 I launched the kayak again to go pick up decoys and head back to the truck.

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We decided to go try for some squirrels in the ridiculously high winds before lunch.   Squirrel hunting was pretty slow, understandable with the winds as high as they were.  Each of us managed to shoot a black squirrel.  Mine made two mistakes.  The first was running through the tree tops when I walked by.  The second was stopping to take a look to see what I was doing.

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The winds were picking up so we headed back to the house for lunch, check the weather and to clean ducks and squirrels.  After a quick bite we cleaned the critters and debated what to do next.  The NE wind was blowing right at the house and their were whitecaps on Sanford Lake.  It was starting to drizzle a little so of course I went fishing.  Dean and Barry had been doing pretty good on the crappie and the thought of taking home a dozen for a meal or two was quite appealing.  Getting rained on wasn’t.  No big deal, I had dry clothes and a warm house to retreat to if necessary.  We were fishing with minnows and slip bobbers right off the dock in about 12 feet of water.  It was slow but Barry and I managed to catch 15 crappie on and off for the next few yours.  The weather would go from drizzle to down pour and back to drizzle all afternoon.  When the rain got  bad we went in, when it stopped we went out.  It really is nice having a house on the lake.

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By 5 o’clock the rain and wind had stopped completely.  We had a window of a couple of hours before the next front moved through so we grabbed the .22’s and headed back into the woods.  It was a pretty quiet evening.  It looked like most of the squirrels decided to stay holed up for the evening.  Barry and I managed to shoot 3 more before we called it quits.  It had turned out to be a pretty good day and I was not going to get greedy, besides Barry had shot 5 the day before and I had them to add to my freezer as well.  I could have stayed to hunt and fish tomorrow as well but I needed to get home.  Susan wanted to go to a flea market the next day and the group that was supposed to go with her backed out at the last minute.  I didn’t want her to go alone so once I finished cleaning the last 3 squirrels and fish I was headed south.  There will be other days.

So the final tally for Friday and Saturday was 8 Wood Ducks, 11 Squirrels and 15 Crappie.  All that was left now was to seal them up and put them in the freezer.

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I love October.

 

 

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Christmas Wish List

18 12 2013

From what I have been told I am impossible to shop for.  How difficult can it be?  I am an outdoorsman, there should be plenty of options out there.  Problem is I am not a “mainstream” sportsman.  My whole life does not revolve around Whitetails or Largemouth Bass and it seems that all products are geared towards those two species.  Just turn on the TV to the Sportsman channels and you will get  steady diet of deer and bass.  My needs are a little more speciaialized and I am very particular about the equipment I use. 

Item #1

Now those who know me would probably expect this to be a butt load of Rapala’s.  Thruth is those that know me know I already have a butt load of Rapala’s and I really don’t need anymore (yeah right).  Actually, what I need is something to get me through those winter months when the ramps are iced up and I can’t launch my boat.  This year I am going to try Steelhead fishing.  Yeah you read that right, Steelhead.  I already have all the accessories, all I need is a rod.  This of course will have to be left up to me because no one in my family has any clue as to what the difference is bewteen one fishing rod or another.  I can already picture my sister in law picking out an Ugly Stick and a Zebco 404 reel to go with it. Not even close.  After the Christmas rush is over I’ll take a drive up to Andy’s Tackle and pick out one to my liking. 

Item #2

This isn’t something I really don’t need but it would be nice to have.  Problem is once you buy one it is already obsolete and the newer version is already in production.  I could really use a new Depthfinder/GPS for my boat.  Something in color of course and it doesn’t have to be in HD though I’m sure if I cave in and buy one I will go all out.  My current graph is an old B/W Eagle and while it works I never really know if that grey blob is a fish or just junk.  A color one will help.  Then again I wonder what the point is, I always fish the same areas and if I don’t catch fish in one area I move on to the next.  If I was fishing the lake a lot I would already have one but my river spots don’t change much.

Item #3

Speaking of river spots its time to re-visit my Canadian ones.  Last summer in the Channel was rough and they were hammering away at the walleye in Amherstburg like thay always seem to do.  I didn’t buy a CDN license in 2013 because I did so well in 2012 in US waters that I didn’t feel the need.  Big Mistake!!

Item #4

Last but not least I have one more item I want and it isn’t fishing related.  I want a new .22 rifle for squirrel hunting.  Though there is nothing wrong with my old Marlin Model 60 I am seeing the need for a clip fed rifle and a more powerful scope.  My eyes aren’t what they used to be and trying to put the crosshairs on the noggin of a squirrel is getting to be more and more difficult.  Granted getting a new scope would be a cheaper alternative but I want a rifle that can shoot squirrles out to 50 yards and shoot any type of .22 ammo I feed it.  My current rifle is a tube fed semi-auto and while it is fun to shoot it can be tempermental.  I may not be able to squeeze off many quick shots with a bolt action but I will be able to shoot all the boxes of sub sonic .22 ammo that I have right now.  With the current shortages of ammo, having a rifle that can shoot just about anything I can find is a definite plus. 

Well there it is, my wish list for this Christmas.  What’s on your list this year?

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Mark Schaller





Quack, Quack no Boom

30 09 2012

Yesterday marked the opening of the waterfowl season in Michigan’s Zone 2. For several years now I have spent this morning at a somewhat secluded spot my friend Barry found in the Sanford area. When there is plenty of water and acorns the wood duck shooting can be fast and furious. When there is no water or acorns…..not so much. Then there are those rare occasions when we have both and still no ducks. Yesterday was one of those rare occasions.

 
We set up in our usual spot, threw out about half a dozen decoys and settled in for the first arrival. The woodies usually come in from the east and this morning was no different. They are easy to spot as they come in over the oaks but once they drop down to water level they practically disappear. The first couple of birds whistled by and we never saw them. The next one came in and I was able to pick it up but unfortunately my shooting was a little late and behind. Dean and Barry were able to knock it down and he landed on the opposite of the shoreline. Barry took his dog over to go retrieve the bird leaving me all by my little lonesome. While the two of them were concentrating on finding the downed bird a lone woodie flew in and I was able to knock her down with one clean shot.

 
That was it.

 
After that we didn’t see another duck for the rest of the morning. With no wind and a blue bird sky we expected the shooting to be slow but not this. Usually we see some mallards flying around in the distance but today we didn’t even see that. We didn’t hear a whole lot of shooting off in the distance either. Kind of nice to know we weren’t alone. This had to be one of the most unproductive opening mornings we have ever had. The only activity we saw were squirrels on the opposite shore jumping through the trees. Once it got to be about 9:00 am we gave up and switched out our shotguns for .22’s. One thing I learned about small game and waterfowl hunting is that you have to adapt. If the conditions aren’t favorable for one species, switch to another.

 
I ended up with 3 squirrels. Should make a nice dinner for me tonight.