October Review

1 11 2017

Sorry I haven’t posted much but I’ve had a lot going on this month and I really haven’t felt like posting anything.  All the warm weather hasn’t helped any, as far as fishing goes, so I haven’t been out that much.  Haven’t done a whole lot of hunting either.  I just haven’t felt like it.  So, without further adieu, I give you the October Review.

WALLEYE

With all the warm weather I have had zero desire to go walleye fishing.  Water temps were still in the upper 60’s and that meant the Fall run was behind schedule.  I did go out one evening (Oct. 20th) and that turned out to be an exercise in futility.  The weeds were horrendous.  We had received a bunch of rain earlier and that got all the weeds sitting in the marina’s flowing down stream.  Throw in the weeds that were dying off and it just made for a terrible evening.  I fished for about an hour and after I landed my second walleye I just gave up.  Now that the weather has turned and cooler temps are the norm the Fall run should be in full swing now.  I just need to find time to go out.  At least my walleye streak is still intact.  I didn’t get skunked a single trip this year.  As a matter of fact there were only a handful trips where I didn’t catch a limit.  I never did keep count this year but between legal and sub-legal fish I had to have caught well over 250 walleye this year.

2018 should be Phenomenal.

STEELHEAD

Let’s just say that my streak of not landing a Steelhead since Jan. 2nd, 2016 is still intact.  Hopefully that will change starting this weekend.  I am headed up to the Muskegon River to start my full on, take no prisoner, full frontal assault on Steel for every weekend until January.  The next two months I have trips planned to the Muskegon, St. Mary’s, Manistee, PM, AuSable, Huron and Steelhead Alley.  I should bring this streak to an end.

WATERFOWL

I managed to get out for Opening Day of Waterfowl season, in Zone 2, earlier this month.  I was the only one on this public lake and it turned out to be a productive morning.  The only down side was that I shot a mallard and a woodduck that I did not find.  I really miss Sherman at times like this.  He would have found them.  I also shot my first widgeon in Michigan.  I saw him circling out in front of me and I couldn’t make out what it was.  Eventually he came into range where I could identify him and make a clean shot.  The other surprise was a Canada Goose.  Around 9:00 am several flocks left a lake west of me and headed east to the field they were feeding in.  On group flew over me low enough to give me a shot and I took advantage of it.

Nice to know all that steel shot I loaded 20 years ago is still lethal.

HRWC

On October 14th I participated in another River Round up for The Huron River Watershed Council.  I look forward to doing these because it gives me a chance to find out what is going on with the river and I usually meet some interesting people.  This time around my crew was less than enthusiastic.  A group of 4 college kids were assigned to my squad and three of them were pretty much useless.  One did absolutely nothing.  The other two were more concerned about taking selfies than anything else.  One good thing came out of today.  The last collection site was just below the coffer at Huroc Park.  This area has historically been a poor producer for aquatic insect collection.  I had an idea why and I was right.  Much of the bottom is covered in broken concrete.  Using a net was worthless because there was just no place you could use it effectively.  I put the net aside and started picking up chunks of concrete and giving them to the “pickers” to look for samples.  The found plenty of caddis larvae and both mayfly and stonefly nymph’s.  Something I will have to keep in mind if I ever fish that area for steelhead.  I relayed this information back to the planners at the HRWC so they can plan accordingly for future round-ups.

FAMILY

My sister Linda re-married on Saturday, Oct. 21st and in true Linda fashion the reception was costume optional.  I had a lot more fun at this than I thought I would.  Linda made extra molasses cookies for me and gave me a Darth Vader helmet to fill with all the candy I could carry.

Me and my little sister, Lydia Deitz.

SUSAN

October 26th would mark the one year anniversary of Susan’s death.  October turned out to be a very emotional month for me.  The day itself wasn’t that bad but the anticipation leading up to that day was awful.  Lot’s of sleepless nights, happy memories that were now painful (thank you Facebook) and tons of messages from people I hadn’t heard from all year asking how I was doing.  A group of her friends and family got together for a Susan remembrance day at Cedar Point on Sunday, Oct. 22nd.  I picked the day to do this and a week later I realized it would be the one year anniversary that her and I went there for the last time.  The weather was near perfect and we had a great time.  The plan is to make this a yearly event.

The Gang

 

Well that’s it for October.  Not the usual Hunt and Fish every possible day it usually is but an event filled month none the less.  Hopefully November will see the end of my Steelhead streak.

Later…..

 

 

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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.

 

 





9/1/15, Year 2 of Michigan’s Experimental Early Teal Season

2 09 2015
My nephew Finn is excited.

My nephew Finn is excited.

I forgot just how much fun it is to muck around in a marsh at 5:00 am swatting mosquitoes as I set decoys.

That was how I started my day on the Panko unit of Crow Island State Game Area.  My friend Barry who is a Wildlife Tech for the DNR had scouted this spot earlier and thought it would be a good spot to try.  When we first arrived there were already half a dozen trucks in the parking lot.  Not surprising, I’m sure some of them arrived the night before and the hunters spent the night in their blinds.  Not me, I like to hunt ducks but I’m not that dedicated.  Getting here at 4:45 am was pushing it for me, especially since that now we get to sit for the next two hours and wait until legal shooting hours.  Thank God we had a pair of Thermacells.  If I ever meet the man at Coleman who invented these little gadgets I’ll buy him a beer.  Those things are worth their weight in gold when the mosquitoes are thick.

Once we got the decoys set we just sat in our chairs and talked about how much we missed hunting in North Dakota.  Barry used to work for the USFWS out there and I would visit him every October for one week of bird hunting.  I miss those days of never seeing another duck hunter.  Now, back here in  Michigan, I can’t throw a rock without hitting one.  We weren’t there 10 minutes when a another group came long and set up about 50 yards to our left.  We told them it was ok to set up next to us but if we knew what they were going to do later we would have said otherwise.  Around 6:30 am, with another 30 minutes to go until legal shooting time, we had some teal land in our decoys.  Some more flew in and landed in the spread to our left and they shot.  Everyone, and I do mean everyone on the marsh let them know that shooting hours hadn’t started yet.  Normally they would have been ok if it was the regular season or hunting geese.  Since this was the early teal season the DNR pushed legal shooting hours back to sunrise which was 30 minutes later.  This was done to help ensure the hunters could easily identify the ducks as they came into range.  Apparently this group hadn’t read the regulations very closely.  Barry and I just chuckled as he pulled out his observation form and wrote down the incident.  As part of this experimental season DNR personnel are supposed to set up in the hunting areas and observe.  They have to keep records to see if people shoot early, sky bust and most importantly shoot or shoot at any ducks that are not teal.  For the most part hunters are careful but every once in awhile someone makes a mistake and something else gets shot.  We were being extra careful today.  There were a lot of wood ducks flying around and I didn’t want to make that mistake, especially with Barry sitting right next to me.  I didn’t make any mistakes but I do believe a hen shoveler that flew past us did get shot by another group hunting to the south of us.  With the amount of shooting we heard and the lack of shooting from us I really wonder just how much these hunters were paying attention.  We didn’t have a single teal come into range until about an hour after that first initial early shot.  That pair made it through unscathed thanks to my looking in the wrong direction.  We did manage to shoot a couple before it got to hot and muggy for our liking.  At least I didn’t get a wet ass like last year.

So that was it for this year.  We saw a few teal, saw a ton of wood ducks along with a Bald Eagle and a Kingfisher that had a death wish.  Not a bad way to spend a morning, especially since I wasn’t at work.

Morning view, before it got to hot.

Morning view, before it got too hot.





From a Super Secret Undisclosed Location, I bring you Duck Season.

5 10 2014

Super Secret my butt.  Anyone who has followed this blog knows where I’m at, my favorite wood duck hole.  I had high hopes for this opener. Barry and I saw a lot of woodies the previous weekend so we were expecting a great opener.  Even the weather looked like it was going to cooperate.  West winds, overcast, drizzle, just ducky weather.  But just like the best laid plans of mice and men it didn’t quite work out the way we wanted.

We awoke the next day to dead calm and clear skies.  No clouds, no wind, no rain…..what the hell happened?  I just hope the ducks didn’t ride the front out.  We arrived at our spot around 6:30 am and dropped the kayak in the water.  Since neither of us have a dog anymore I get to play retriever and decoy spreader.  Barry walked to our spot while I paddled around the blow downs and sunken stumps.  I threw out about half a dozen wood duck decoys and then we hid the kayak in the woods.  Woodies are not known for their decoying and the ones that frequent this area are no different.  They come in from all directions with no regard for wind direction and either plop down immediately or just fly by.  We have to be on our toes because they can be in and out in a second.  Barry and I scanned the skies for ducks but 20 minutes later and a fair amount of shooting from the lake produced nothing.  In years past we have had ducks fly in and land right in front of us before shooting hours started.  This year we had nothing.  It was 7:30 am before our first duck arrived and he flew in and out before we could even raise the guns.  Shortly after that 3 flew in and we fired.  Barry missed his but I knocked down a male woodie.  A few minutes later Barry spotted 4 more coming in and we each managed to knock one down.  That was it for the next hour.  Around 10:00 am we had a single woodie come in from the east and Barry and I both hit him and he landed on the other side of the pond in the woods.  I pulled out the kayak and went after him.  I found him about 30 yards in lying next to a log.  That proved to be our last bird of the morning.  We packed up and I paddled out while Barry walked back to the truck.

After we had a snack and something to drink we headed over to the sand pit so I could sight in my .22 with the new scope.  While we did that Dean showed up with a couple of squirrels he shot earlier.  Sighting in didn’t take very long so we drove around scouting for likely deer hunting spots.  By now the wind was starting to pick up and the overcast skies finally arrived.  We weren’t finding a lot of deer sign so we headed back to the lake house to get some lunch.  Dean decided to go home so Barry and I decided to fish and discuss strategy for tonight.  We weren’t seeing any ducks flying around the lake so we decided to go back to the wood duck hole.  They normally don’t roost in that area but we hoped we might get a few to fly through and give us a shot.  By now it was approaching 4:00 pm and getting close to time for us to leave.  We cleaned our catch of 13 crappie, 4 ducks and the 2 squirrels.  Once that was done we headed back to the hole.  We got comfortable and waited and waited and waited.  Just when we thought tonight was going to be a bust I spotted 3 coming in from the west.  I yelled out to Barry but he couldn’t get to his gun in time.  I picked the lead bird and fired once and knocked her down, another woodie.  This one would turn out to be our 5th and final bird for the day.  Just before shooting hours ended we did see 3 more and they did circle us a couple of times but never came into range.  As I was picking up the decoys the rain arrived.

Never fails. It was still a good day. 10-4 Crappie 10-4 Woodies





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.