A long wet weekend

24 09 2012

This past weekend was the opener for the youth deer hunt in Michigan. Since Kelly and I were planning on taking her son Adam up to the family hunting lodge to try his luck I took a Friday and Monday off. We had to get up north early so that we could get Adam registered. Since we weren’t leaving until the afternoon I had the morning open to go fishing. My morning success has been pretty pathetic but I figured it would turn around soon. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After I dropped my daughter off art school I headed to Elizabeth Park to launch the boat. By 8:00 am I had my lines in the water and I was making my first pass from the Cat to the stacks. The surface temp on the water was 64 degrees and there was a little bit of a stain. Hardly any wind and overcast clouds above. Almost immediately I had a hit but it quickly came off, whatever it was. It wasn’t too much longer and I picked up a 4 inch small mouth on a #7 CCT Rapala. I swear he wasn’t much bigger than the lure. I really have to wonder just how many of those YOY fish are down there. For the next several hours I tried many different color and size Rapala’s, spoons and locations. Nothing worked and I was rewarded with my first skunk of the year. Guess I shouldn’t have eaten that banana for breakfast. I quit around 11:00 am. I still had to pack so it was best that I just went home.

After a quick lunch and some creative packing in the Jeep the 3 of us were on our way. Forecast was supposed to be a 50% chance of rain for the whole weekend. I hope it holds off. I really want Adam to get his first deer. Once we got to the house we unpacked and got Adam all set for tomorrow’s hunt. As it sometimes happens to even the best laid plans of mice and men I awoke to an absolute downpour. So much for the first morning. The rain stopped a few hours later but the radar showed more coming in. I took Adam down to the range so he could practice some more with the rifle he was using. I was letting him use my Remington 788 in .243 Winchester. Last year he used his Grandfathers 30.06 and he missed a deer. He has a hard time getting the scope lined up and he wasn’t very comfortable shooting it. My rifle is cut a little shorter so I thought it might fit him better. Judging from the numerous bulls eyes he had I think this rifle will suit him better. Now all we need is for the rain to lay off.

We headed out to the blind around 4:00 pm to find that the area had been clear cut and the trail to his Uncle’s blind was gone. Fortunately I marked the spot with my Garmin GPS and after a little bush whacking we were able to find the blind. While we were doing this it decided to start raining on us again. It only lasted a few minutes but this process repeated itself 5 more times. After the fifth time Adam had said he had had enough and wanted to go home. I wasn’t about to argue. Even though we had rain gear we still got soaked and I didn’t want him to get anymore discouraged than he already was. Besides, tomorrow will be another day.

The next morning produced clear skies and cold temps. We bundled up and headed out. This morning we set up on the edge of a sugar beet field. The woods were still wet and I didn’t feel like getting soaked again walking to the blind. As the sun began to rise I saw a lone coyote walking the edge of the field. Just as I told Adam to pick up his rifle he disappeared. It looked like the animals were moving, now all we needed was a deer. A few minutes later we saw what we were looking for. Off in the distance I saw something move across the field. When I picked the deer up in my binoculars I could see it was a buck. I had Adam get his rifle ready and as he moved the deer saw us and stopped. It was a nice 8 point and he was broadside and looking right at us. Only problem is that he was close to 300 yards away. Adam was looking at the deer through his scope and asking me what to do. 300 yards is a long shot for any hunter, especially a first time hunter who has never taken a shot like that before. I sat there debating what to tell Adam. Seconds seemed like minutes and after a short period the deer got nervous and ran off. Adam looked disappointed but I explained to him he would be even more upset if he wounded the deer and we never recovered it. That is a sick feeling and one I did not want him to experience if it could be avoided. He understood and we settled down to wait for the next one. We didn’t have to wait long. As I was scanning the edge of the field Adam motioned for me to look to my right. There stood a doe not 20 yards away from us. As part of the youth hunt Adam could shoot a doe and the club encouraged it. They want to keep the buck/doe ration in line so a certain number have to be taken. Problem with this one is that it was on my right, Adam was on my left and the deer was looking right at us. I slowly backed up as Adam tried to turn to get a shot. There was tree in the way and he couldn’t get a clear shot. She needed to take a few more steps forward but instead she took a few more steps backwards. Once we couldn’t see her anymore we heard her run off into the woods. By now it was 8:00 am and the sun was shining right in our face. I told Adam we had two choices, we either had to move or head back to the house. He was cold and wanted to go back to the house and that is what we did. Just as well, more rain was on the way and once we got back to the house it started again. Kelly and I had some breakfast and Adam went back to sleep. He had been having a hard time with his allergies all weekend and it was taking a lot out of him. I told Kelly about how the morning went and we talked about what we should do for the rest of the day. We went into town for a little bit while Adam slept. He woke up around lunch and we discussed his options. I told him we could go back out tonight which he seemed willing to do. We decided to get the Jeep packed and the house cleaned up so we could leave right after we came in. While we were packing it started to rain again, this time though it was hail. I gave up, sometimes it is just better to cut your losses and go home. Kelly and Adam agreed. Opening day of rifle is less than 2 months away and he will get another chance. Until then we will go back to chasing squirrels and possibly some grouse and woodcock.


As for the walleye? The next few days are supposed to be more wind and rain.  Maybe I’ll get a chance one night this week.  Next weekend is the waterfowl opener in the northern half of the lower peninsula and I know where a few wood ducks are hanging out.