Tuesday, December 22, 2009


No big story today…

I just want to thank everyone who has been visiting the Up North Journal, Beyond the Wild and our blogs. Thank you for spending your time with us and enjoying our discoveries and adventures.

Here’s wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Be safe this holiday and enjoy time together with those you love.

To my Talk Hunting family, I’ve set the dinner table with places for every one even if it’s only in my heart and mind. (I think the tables so crowded I’ll be sitting at the kids table!)


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009: Part 4

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009
Part 4:

Well, once again we’re all up at 5:15, heat up some beef bacon on toast and some orange juice, finish getting ready and out the door we go! The morning was quite and chilly with a light wind. Shortly after day break (around 7:30 or so) CamoGirl was glassing the fields and spotted a nice looking doe at the edge of the tree line. She stood there for quite a while, often looking back behind her. I though for sure she was watching a buck heading her way… Get ready CamoGirl! While we were watching her, a few comments were made about not getting a doe license for this area…hint, hint, hint. That hint was quickly changed to “boy am I glad you didn’t get a doe license for me” when the doe turned back to the wood line and gathered her little one with her… and another nice doe with a second little one. We watched them casually travel across the field about 40 yards in front of us and safely reach the next set of woods. I even got them on video tape.
Around 10 am, Ned and Mitch got down from their treestands and took them down (Their orange vests went on their backs for the hike out carrying stands). We met up and headed to the house, time to load the trucks.

It’s always a bit sad when we have to leave but we’re already planning on the next time we come up after the snow is down and it’s time to scout some more.

So for now, it’s Deer Camp 0, Deer 10. It’s kinda weird to spend so much time hunting and not doing the hunting my self but I would not trade it for the world. I had the time of my life enjoying some bow hunting and the opening of Michigan’s gun season with my daughter. A lot of laughs and a small amount of frustration but that’s why it’s called “hunting”. Look it up in the dictionary, I’m sure it’s defined as “…spending time in the outdoors, enjoying friends and family, learning and being a part of our American Heritage…”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009 : Part 3

Part 3:

Once again we got up and ready around 5:15 in the morning. We added some new Mike’s Magic but no deer were in the neighborhood this time. We did see some more Partridges again, been seeing a lot of them lately. A few squirrels and that was it. It’s all good though, a beautiful morning in the woods watching the sun come up with my daughter, can’t beat that. Oh, I did remember the crossbow cocking string this time…. 10 am we headed back to the house.

Since we were not going back out that night we had a few “chores” to do…. Jack’s mailbox has been the victim over the years of the local snowplow. A neighbor, a retired engineer, had designed a new mailbox post and precut most of the wood to help out. After Ned and Mitch had the post set (they started before we got back from hunting) we drove down to the neighbors place to take a look at his design and just chat a bit. After committing to memory his design we drove back to Jacks… guess what, the design did not match the precut wood we had…engineers, always trying to improve. No problem. Thirty minutes later, a new mailbox with space for a paper box on the cross posts. Jack made sure to put his 2 cents in…from the folding chair he brought out and sat in, on the edge of the road… this ain’t the city folks! Heck, a couple trucks drove by and didn’t even blink at Jack in his chair. LOL Lunch Time! Football Time! (hate roughing it! LOL). After a nice dinner of grilled chicken and pie, and a couple stories or two… it’s off to bed. Opening day is only hours away!

Opening Morning!

Well, we’re all up and moving practically before the alarm clock goes off! Coffee for Ned and orange juice for the rest of us, some toast and fresh beef bacon (if you’ve never had beef bacon you’re missing out! , but slice it very thin!) We all take care of getting ourselves ready and dressed, grab our guns (unloaded of course) and head out. It’s a nice crisp and cool morning, one perfect for some deer to be moving around. Not too many clouds in the sky which helped get the temperatures down more.
Anyways, we get to our popup blind and while CamoGirl is getting our chairs set and our gear inside, I walk about 20 yards in front and apply a liberal amount of Mikes Magic to some small trees and a scent wick. Then, it’s into the blind and zip up the door. Before we open the windows we get settled. I get the camera set up on the monopod and we load up the guns… well, we load up CamoGirl’s Marlin 30-30 since I’m only carrying my 454 as a “support” just in case and it’s already loaded (I have a CCW). Then we turn off the flashlights and open the windows just enough… I love being outside and experiencing the world waking up. I am so lucky that I get to share that with my daughter!

It’s now around 8:20, the sun is just coming over the trees and light is streaming in through the window next to me. CamoGirl, for some reason is getting something out and has handed me the 30-30. As I’m scanning the windows I first notice a patch of white that wasn’t there a minute ago. Then I realize that patch of white is the throat of a real nice buck about 35/40 yards directly in front of the blind… watching us! It takes a couple intense whispers before CamoGirl realizes what I’m saying and then it’s an intense moment or two as we get the gun back into her hands and I’m trying to get the camera (the cold camera) going! By this time, I think the bright light coming in from my side has allowed the buck to see us (probably me) moving too much and he decides to trot off…just before CamoGirl can get the crosshairs on him! She was excited and depressed at the same time! He was definitely a shooter. I didn’t stop to count the points but his rack was at least to his ears wide with a nice long main beam. I also didn’t get the camera on him in time… Needless to say, we were ready for some more deer now! But Murphy’s rule was in effect…one chance and one chance only it seemed. It was interesting to note that normally when daylight breaks we hear literally dozens and dozens to hundreds of shots. This day, by lunch I think we’d only counted less than 60. An unusually quiet opening day.

Do you see him?.....
........Nope, still not there.... but he was! Guess you'll just have to "imagine" him in the picture! LOL

After a nice lunch and a quick nap (ok, a little football watching too….) the whole gang headed out for the afternoon hunt. CamoGirl and I were ready this time! So we settled in to wait for that big buck to wander back in (thanks to Mike’s Magic!)…and waited…and waited…and waited…till the sun went down. Not a thing. Ned and Mitch saw a big coyote but didn’t take a shot as it meandered past there stand. Mitch thought it was a doe at first and buy the time they realized what it was it was too late to get ready and take the shot. Oh well, we’ve got lots of stories to tell about opening day, dinner is hot and the company couldn’t be better!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009: Part 2

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009
Part 2:

Friday Morning;
Morning came early at 5:15 but I don’t think I actually slept very much anyways…too excited! I don’t think CamoGirl slept either. After a quick breakfast we geared up and headed out. It was clear, quiet and cold. Even the Partridge we spooked settled down quickly again. I always give my daughters the choice of how long they want to hunt. It would be a mistake to have them get too cold or have to sit longer than they really want to and I want them to enjoy the experience. So, when CamoGirl said that she was cold and wanted to go in at 9 am, I said fine but reminded her that I took my 9 pointer around 9 … she still wanted to go in. No problem.

I packed up the camera and we lowered her bow. Next, I had control of her safety strap while she got herself off the stand and onto the ladder. Since the strap is not quite long enough to secure to the tree above me, I needed to bend over my stand while she was getting to the ladder. Just about this time I hear a “crunch, crunch, crunch” in the leaves behind me… Here comes a young doe right in to our stand. Great, CamoGirl is on the ladder, her bow is on a rope hanging just above the ground and I’m bent over my stand guiding her safety strap. All I need to do is drop my drawers to moon the doe and we’re all set! LOL. Did I mention that the doe walked right up at 10 yards from the stand…and stood there nibbling leaves…for 20 minutes! My back is starting to hurt, CamoGirl is literally hugging the tree and I’m trying not to laugh cause this has just got to be too funny! (thank goodness the camera was packed away!). Eventually the doe meanders away and CamoGirl looks at me and asks if we could stay…”just a little longer….” Back into he stand, pull the bow back up and reset the camera. Just in time. Here comes a nice little 4 pointer straight at me. Unfortunately, he is coming at me, just a little to my left…which makes him just too far to the left for CamoGirl. He walks within 15 yards of me and continues around the our tree. We’re hoping he’ll continue around and present a right side shot. I’ve been filming him but since he is around the tree now I move the camera and try to re-position for a better angle. Busted! I think he heard me move and he bounds off…right back past me! CamoGirl gives me the “look”…sorry… I must not have made him too nervous because he didn’t spook the next deer to approach! A nice big mature doe was walking towards us threading her way through the trees. Unfortunately, she never moved to the trail to present a shot and shortly moved back out of range and back into the deeper woods. So much for getting out of the stand at 9am! Wow, what a morning.

Time to do a little shooting;

We always make sure our guns are sighted in once we’re up north. Also, since CamoGirl asked, I was going to let her us my Marlin 30-30 this time and she needed some practice with it. We loaded the guns into the Bronco and headed down to the local gravel pit were everyone spends a little time doing the same thing we were planning. When we arrived, there were about 5 cars there already but some were packing up and we were able to pull up to a nice spot were I could use the Bronco as a gun bench. To start with, I put a small pumpkin out at 25 yards (we brought a few 6” to 8” pumpkins to shoot at) and got out the 30-30 for CamoGirl to shoot. I’d been trying to locate some managed recoil loads but they have been impossible to find. So, I started her out with some 150 grain loads. I showed her the loading and the way the Marlin safed. Then I set her at 25 yards and get her positioned good, told her to shoot at the top of the little pumpkin and let it fly… She looked at me once, looked through the scope and BLAM! The pumpkin was flat on top! Oooookay, let’s move the pumpkin out to 100 yards and let her get some practice in. Same routine, safety, load, form, ready… told her to aim at the top again…. BLAM! Another flat headed pumpkin! This girl can shoot! I let her run a few more rounds though the gun… on target every time! I told her WOW!, take a break and let dad get some shooting in! Since I brought up my Tikka T3 in 300WSM to carry as a backup incase I needed to “assist” her shot (I didn’t want her to have to track a long running deer or have one go too far….) I needed to check it too. Since she had left me the bottom half of the pumpkin at 100 yards…. Gee, the 300WSM sure does make pumpkins vaporize nice…. There was one piece left so I just had to make sure it was more “biodegradable”…. Hehehe. Ok. Back into the case for that gun. I also brought up my 454 Raging Bull. I had just put a new Leupold scope on it and I needed to sight it in because I would be using it for the season back at home. I started with a pumpkin at 25 yards…out of the box that scope was on and the pumpkin teleported to who know’s were! So I set up on a paint can someone set out at 100 yards… within a few shots I had the scope adjusted for the longer range shots. I ran through 20 rounds just cause I love shooting that gun, it’s my favorite to shoot! The other guys shooting looked a bit nervous though….. Next, a couple rounds through CamoGirls 20 ga autoloader just to get a pattern on the new slugs (in case she changes her mind on the 30-30). I can’t shoot that gun in form because the youth stock is too short and I keep punching myself in the nose with my trigger hand. Geez, she’s bugging me to let her shoot some more through the 30-30 again! Finally, I have to call it quits only because we’re about to run out of ammo for it! (and I even loaded a few 170 grainers and she didn’t notice). She did shoot my Ruger LCP .380 but didn’t like it. I warned her that the recoil is nasty because the gun is so small. She’d probably like shooting my 454 better….couldn’t quite convince her to try it though. Time to head back to the “camp”, what a blast! (sorry, pun intended!) One note: Just as we were packing up, and you wouldn’t know if we were starting or stopping at that point… a truck drove up and pulled around my Bronco and parked sideways right in front of our shooting, 10 yards away! What an Idiot! Since I was already getting set to leave I let it drop but talk about stupid! I should have continued on with my 454 a bit….bet he would have moved his truck….

Bow time!
After we got back, had lunch and a little rest we geared up again and headed out. This time CamoGirl took out the crossbow for a try. It’d give her a little more range (honestly they don’t have a whole lot more range) and she wouldn’t have to worry about the cold. We freshened up the drag line with some more Mike’s Magic and headed into the stand. Once we got there I realized I had forgotten the crossbow cocking string, which I had mad a point not to forget… Now, if you’ve ever cocked a crossbow, a compound crossbow, by hand…I’m impressed. They have 175lbs of draw and you have to get the string into the safety lock and balanced correctly… I took one look, decided I was not going to mess up her hunt by going back for the cocking string and got that string cocked so easily I felt like I could have done it with two fingers… and got it balanced! (thank goodness!). We got settled in our stands, CamoGirl with her crossbow and me on the camera…and waited. A few squirrels and a couple of Partridges made appearances. It got late enough that I put the camera away…just as a little doe came in under our tree. Too small to shoot but it was fun watching her for a few minutes. Time to go in and this time I remembered the flashlights! We got in just as Ned and his son Mitch, arrived. Perfect timing to help them unload and get ready for dinner. I wanted to show them the video footage of the big buck and the 4 pointer but realized I forgot the RCA cords to hook it to the tv. After dinner and a few stories it was off to bed. We decided that CamoGirl and I would hunt the morning in the Trail of Terror and then let things be until opening morning on Sunday

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009

Deer Camp with CamoGirl 2009
Part 1:

Well, after that exciting first duck hunt with Chico and Mike I had to put my deer cap back on (but I did hang that nice leg band from the rear view mirror) and get everything loaded and ready to go north. This was going to be a big hunt for CamoGirl (my daughter) and me, she is really looking forward to doing some serious hunting. I’ve got so much stuff to load that I had to pull the back seat out of the Bronco just to make room… Not only will we be gun hunting but we’ll be doing some archery hunting the first couple days (including getting out with a crossbow). Since plans fell through with getting up last month to set up, we need to get up as early as possible to get a couple stands placed and the pop up blind set up so the woods will settle down and get used to them. So, in go the climbing sticks, the hang on stand, two pop up blinds, two bow cases, a cross bow, two gun cases (4 guns), ammo bag, gear bag, back packs, heater, fuel, water, food, cloths, boots…..etc, etc…good thing it’s only CamoGirl and me in the truck! The Bronco is packed and parked in the garage ready to go! Now, we just need to try and get some sleep….right.

Thursday Morning;

I got CamoGirl up at 7:30…she sure got up faster than on a school day… We were already packed up except for the cold food so we got on the road fairly quickly. We were on the way North! It’s about 180 miles to Jacks place and I only had to reset the cruise twice the whole way. Jack’s place is the year round home of my buddy Ned’s mom and dad….Sandy and Jack (see, I Know Jack! Lol). I’ve been going to Jack’s place for about 16 years now with Ned. It’s more of a tradition than it is a deer convention. It’s one of those places you go to get away from the office and the noise to spend a few days with friends. In those 16 years I’ve only harvested two deer… a 9 ½ year old doe (DNR aged) and our camp record 9 point. The last few years Ned and I have started bringing our kids up as they showed interest in the trip and interest in the hunt. This is the place were stories are made and tales are created!

Anyways, we get to Jack’s just before noon. Jack is waiting for us but Sandy is in town shopping. So, it’s a quick hug for Jack and we’re off into the woods to set up the Trail of Terror. The Trail of Terror has been the all time producer of the camp. It’s the personal location of Ned and he has taken many nice does and a nice selection of small bucks from this spot. It’s also the spot were I harvested my camp record 9 point! … the first time he let me hunt it… since he had to hunt on the private land when his son first hunted before he was old enough to legally hunt public land. (His son hunted it the next year and got a nice little 3 pointer for his first northern deer) So, CamoGirl and I carry out two hang on stands and get the Trail of Terror set up. We use two stands since this is were we can sit with the kids in the same tree. It’s a split trunk, we put a ladder on one side and stagger the two stands on the primary trunk, one offset and just above the other. We’re setting this spot up first since Ned has given his blessings to CamoGirl to hunt it the first couple days with her bow… we want the stand up and settled as quickly as possible. 40 minutes later we’re back at the truck to pick up the next stand.

Our next stand to put up is called the Leaning Tree. This is a spot I set up a number of years ago on the edge of the woods over looking a small open field… in a leaning tree… I just have to add blocks to the bottom of the hang on stand to level it out. This is a great spot and I experienced one of those…”just one more step” opporunities a few years ago. Nice big buck heading for the field but stopped up behind a branch that was in the way of the bow shot…. One more step was all I needed, but he winded me and was gone. I also saw a couple of bears from this stand a couple years ago. I’m not planning on using this stand but it’s were we can put Ned’s nephew if he decides to come up this year. Done and back to the truck again.

The last task is to put up a pop up blind for CamoGirl and me to hunt out of for gun hunting. It’s a quick walk and within minutes the blind is set up and we’ve brushed it in. Time to get out of the woods.

This year we decide not to hunt our other two spots… Cone Head and the Hill of Horror… I’ll save those stories for another day.

Sandy’s back so we get in the next round of hugs, get the Bronco unloaded and grab some lunch before we gear up for some bow hunting.

First Night Bow Hunt;

After lunch and a rest, CamoGirl and I got ready for our bow hunt. Even though I had brought my bow (and guns) this was CamoGirls hunt so my bow never left it’s case. We got dressed, grabbed our gear and headed out. When we got to the edge of the woods and the beginning of the trail to the Trail of Terror, I got out a scent wick and some string and gave it a good soaking of Mike’s Magic. We quietly walked to the stand while I created a drag line with the scent wick and got up into the tree. With the stands set one above the other, I got into mine first and then had CamoGirl climb the ladder and hand me her safety strap before she stepped towards her stand. Once she was in and all secured I set up the Gorilla camera arm and got my camera ready for some action!

It was a beautiful afternoon, no wind and just cool enough to have the deer moving. Every 30 minutes or so, CamoGirl would check the area and then draw her bow to make sure she was not getting cold muscles. Unfortunately, after a few hours her arms got cold enough that she was going to need a rush of adrenaline to get that string back…just as the doctor ordred, we heard leaves being stomped into the ground. It was just getting dark enough that I was concerned that the camera would not be able to see anything and here he came… right down the drag line with his nose buried in the Mike’s Magic! This bruiser was doing his best to stop the leaves out of his way! We could hear him sniffing and snuffling as we watched him follow our trail right towards us! It was just dark enough that you could make out his rack but not count it easily…but I didn’t need to, this guy had a huge body with a thick neck and there was no mistaking that he was looking for a girl friend. He stopped about 25 yards out and eventually walked broadside across the trail heading away. Now I know that CamoGirl really, really wanted a shot at this big boy but she know’s her range with her set up at 35lbs is 20 yards. She could take the shot but it wouldn’t have the penetration she wants. So she just watched that buck walking away. A few grunt calls got him to stop but not walk back… he eventually bounded a few strides away so I tried the doe bleat. He turned right around and headed strait back! Unfortunately, by the time he got back in range I had to shut the camera off and CamoGirl had to turn off her lighted pins….it was just too dark. Now we were stuck! That monster was now within 15 yards of our stand and sniffing away…not showing any desire to leave now! We ended up spending another 30 minutes in the stand past shooting light waiting for him to leave without spooking! I can honestly say, you don’t need to have a bow in your hands to get buck fever! I think I was shaking more than CamoGirl!

We finally got down from the stands and I realized that I had forgot one thing… a flashlight! Oops. It’s not that dark and we’re not that far from the house so we start walking back. I don’t remember that many little trees in the field but I’m sure we found them all, the hard way. CamoGirl did make a comment about being glad she was not a boy with all those waist high thick tree/bushes we ended up walking “over” … gee thanks. Remember me, walking behind you….thanks for the warning.

Well, the first night has been a success as far as I care. We made it north, got our stands set up and had a very exciting first night of bow hunting…and my daughter is really excited about the whole thing!