Friday, September 18, 2009

First Bow Hunt of 2009

Today was the opening day of the Early Antlerless season in southern Michigan. I made it out to the woods for an evening sit that was quite eventful.

I reached the hunting area and survey the land. Nothing has changed, not really anyway, since I started hunting here about 20 years ago. That's good, change is bad. Would likely mean the land was sold and I couldn't hunt there anymore. The front field is still standing corn.

I have always thought it would be cool to hunt standing corn, stalking on the deer that live in it while it stands. The corn appeared tall enough. It was still nice and green so it would not sound like walking on crisp tater chips. So it was on. Name of the game was Cornfield Stalking for Deer.

I took about three slow, cautious steps into the corn. Each step got louder and louder. I slowed down but it still sounded like I was rubbing a tater chip bag against my body. Turns out the lower half of every stalk was dried out already. Game over. Deer 1, Nimrod 0.

I slowly worked my way back to the wood line. Not sure why I was going slow. The noise was the same whether or not I took my time. I might as well had been singing a tune at the top of my lungs. I finally made it to the wood line after the noisy walk and busting countless spider webs with my face.

Since I have been hunting and roaming this small wood lot since I was knee high to a grasshopper, I have no idea how the deer act on it. They seem to wander around aimlessly, sometimes coming in front of my while I am hunting. During this time of year I do know that they use the lot to go between the cornfields. And I know there is a creek they must cross to get to one of the fields. I found no less than four nice paths they have been using to cross.

While deciding which trail the deer wouldn't take tonight, I somehow flushed a turkey from a nearby thicket. I guess he thought I was figuring out a way to make him dinner. To bad I didn't see him and the season open isn't open yet. I choose a trail that I could sit on and watch most of the other crossings, giving me a chance to learn for next time, unless I forget before next time.

Not an hour after I sat down, a doe deer crossed the trail the furthest from me. I had chosen right. Then a little bit later a tree rat started playing around, jumping from tree to tree. Might have been more than one, but the understory I was under was too thick to get a good look. Still wonder how an animal that size can sound like an elephant knocking trees over.

I was taking in the nice cool, beautiful evening when I caught some motion out of the corner of the eye. It was close and was moving. I slowly glanced over to see a black critter crawling on the other bank of the creek. I was about ten feet from the beast and boy was it mean looking. Stood about 4 inches at the shoulder, about 20 inches long, jet black body and a brown tail. First I thought it was a black tree rat, but then realized I was dealing with an elusive beast. I watched and my mink friend hung out for a lil bit and then left off on a hunt of his own. I wished him luck, knowing I had pizza waiting for me at home, and he would go hungry if he failed on his hunt.

The night moved on and the tree rats, song birds and crows kept the wood from being quiet. Actually the darn things were so loud I couldn't hear if a deer had walked up behind me making moose antlers with its hooves.

I tried ever trick I could think of. I stood up to stretch, leaving my bow, I took drinks of pop, I sat is positions I could not have shot my bow from. Everything short of eating a candy bar to get the deer to come out. They had worked in the past, but nothing worked tonight. I am really starting to doubt that you can lure deer in like some claim. But like most things, nothing works all the time.

Slowly the darkness took over and I got up to leave. I slowly worked out to the field line, thinking maybe a deer would be doing the same toward me. Turns out there was a deer nearby doing the same as me. We meet up and the darn thing turned and ran like I had bad breath. I stood still for a few seconds, and it sounded like she had decided I wasn't as bad ans she first thought so she would come back out. After a few seconds I realized I was hearing the noise of her walking further away, not coming back to me. Figures. Like women, deer make a split second decision based on the smell of someone and never come back.

No worries. It was the first hunt of many for the 2009 season and I had seen more deer than most of last season combined! I think ole Nimrod just may be getting the hang of deer hunting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oar Ordeal

This entry is another fishing trip for Mud and I. It was planned a long time in advance, ya know two days before Mud said “Hey Nimrod want to go out to Grumpy Lake on Saturday?”

My response was sure, a nice day on the lake would be relaxing. We were pressed for time as I had gotten off from work early that morning and we had to be at a family fish fry by 1pm. No sweat, the lake was close to base ops and it was not big. A sure thing that was certain to have us on the good side of Yoop and Book.

We drove the ole Rusty Chevrolet to base ops, loaded up the boat, our rods/tackle, the troller motor and the battery. A quick good by to the youngin's and off we went. We had to take the Rusty Chevrolet today cause Grumpy lake doesn't have much for a launch, and the Mud machine didn't stand a chance to make it to the lake. No sweat I have a small tank for a reason, goes places a big tank can't!

On the way to the lake, Mud and I caught up on old times. It had been about two weeks since we had seen each other. Its amazing what can change in two weeks. Arriving at the lake, we shoehorned the Rusty Chevrolet down the launch and put the boat in the lake. While I parked the Rusty Chevrolet, Mud did what it is he does while I park the Rusty Chevrolet... best left for him to know and the rest of the world not to know.

We positioned the boat in the water, had Mud hopped in and I pushed off to the lake. I looked at Mud, thinking he was going to row us thru the shore weeds. He looked at me like why are you not rowing out past these weeds so we can put the troller motor in the water and do some fishin'.

All the while Murph was in the middle of the boat with a grin ear to ear. At about the same time Mud and I realized what had happened. Murph must have tossed the oars out of the boat going down the road. Cause I would never, never, ever would forget the oars. And since I taught Mud nothing he knows about fishing I know he wouldn't forget them either.

I dropped the troller motor into the water and hooked up the battery. I checked the cables again and noticed the wires were hooked up backwards, again. That Murph is a sneaky one. Quick too. I turned on the motor and the boat started going no where. Ok it didn't start not going no where, it stayed going no where.

Without saying anything, Mud and I looked around looking for something that would get us past the weeds and into some fishable water. Then Mud had the second most brilliant idea ever. The idea of the decade. Only falling short of the all time ideas like gunpowder, internal combustion engines and kegerators (just to name very few). He grabbed Gray Beards old fish net and began to use it as an oar. BRILLIANT!!!!

After about 30 minutes of rowing with an aluminum hoop surrounded by nylon mesh with rather large holes we were out of the lily pads and reeds and into the water. It worked well, especially once the net was filled with all the loose weeds floating on the surface. I did what I could to help Mud. I crawled on top of Murph in the center of the boat, and grabbed reeds just below the water and pulled us along. Not sure I really helped, but it sure seemed to be helping, at least to me.

Mud had never been to Grumpy Lake. Its kind of an odd lake, very clear with a quite a few weeds. It holds a variety of fish. We began working the shoreline, and the break. I landed a few decent sized blue gills. Nice ones that were big enough to be used as bait if needed. Mud fished his can off but didn't land much of anything. As we rounded the far side of the lake, I worked to reposition the boat to make the most of the wind that was blowing. I finally gave up resorting to a mix of drifting and then using the motor to move the boat where I wanted it to be.

The battery Gray Beard has for the troller motor is one out of an ole Rusty Chevrolet. The energy cell is about six years old. It is not a deep cycle marine battery. Its just a normal car battery converted for use as a troller motor battery. The tip of this diary entry is how to convert a normal car battery into a marine battery. Please pay close attention, if you miss a step it will not work. First remove the battery from the car. Then put the car battery into a plastic marine box (or what ever you store our current marine battery in.) Viola! You have converted a car battery to a marine battery. Depending on whose car you take the battery out of you may need to practice ahead of time. It may seem simple but running from someone while carrying your soon to be marine battery is not as easy as it sounds.

Where was I? Oh yea, Mud and I had just began to work the east side of Grumpy Lake. Again working the shore weeds and the break. The bite got better, but we still weren't catching anything. After working the east side for about ten feet I noticed the troller wasn't as loud as it had been a few minutes earlier. Then I realized were we not moving at the same rate we had before. I checked the connections to the battery and found them to be secure. I checked the prop for weeds and it was not clogged.

I then realized that the the battery was about dead. Nothing to sweat about. I will just row ... ummm wait a second. Murph tossed the oars out on the way to the lake.. We had a pretty stiff head wind we had to fight also. I acted quickly to minimize our drag in the water. I pulled the fish basket out of the water. Now that I had that done, I started to contemplate what I may need to do to ensure Mud and I make it to the family fish fry on time. I checked the time and we had 30 minutes to get off the lake,b ack to base ops, drop the fishin' suff and get to the family fish fry which is about 15 minutes from base ops.

Ole Nimrod is no matheigician. But I knew we had lots of time going about ½ mile per hour on the lake. I just hoped the battery would hold out and we gained enough momentum to glide past the shore weeds. I was givin' her all we got and once we got to the shore weed edge, I pulled up the motor and we slid into the weeds. Muds end of the boat made it to the weeds. Yet the rest of the boat was still in the lake. Mud picked up the fish net and got to rowing again. Worked better off the bat this time... all the weeds were still in the net.

After some more work the boat was in the Rusty Chevrolet, and Mud and I were on the way back to base ops. It was now about 1:30. T plus 30 minutes. We got to base ops, dropped the fishing stuff, put the fish in some fresh water and headed out to the family fish fry. My Rusty Chevrolet doesn't move quick. Well it prolly could, but it sucks gas like a skeeter sucking blood as it is. I don't think it would be entertaining to watch the gas gauge move any faster than it does now, at least if your the one filling the tank.

We made it to the family fish fry about 2pm. T plus 60 minutes. Not bad considering the predicament Murph put us in with the oar ordeal. We got there before anyone had gone for seconds so really we were there from the beginning. Most the family got a kick out of the story but no one was willing to take Murph. If your wondering I left Murph at the launch at Grumpy Lake. I told him we would be back for him, but may be in a different car. My hopes are he will find his way home with someone else. Small game season starts today and a variety of deer season open real soon. I sure as biscuits don't need Murph around for another hunting season.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Of Hog Hunting and Ants

Greetings all. Sorry for the delay between entries into the diaries. Life keeps on a movin' and if you don't take time to jot things down, it doesn't get done.

Today I am gonna talk about a hunt and a good friend from the Army and I took several years back. The hunt is an archery hunt for feral hogs on public land. I don't recall the name of the place, but I do recall the lovely warmth of the Texas summer.

Dudeman and I became quick friends while being assigned to the same unit. Both loved to hunt, especially bow hunt. We put this little hunt together on the fly. Split the gas, I packed in lunch and we were ready.

Dudeman drove, and on arrival, we found a parking area near a some really hot locations. At least the folks Dudeman had spoken to said they were hot. This intel came from a guy who on his first ever bow hunt, parked, walked a few hundred yards and shot a pig. Going off this we just knew this pig hunting thing would be a cake walk.

Dudeman and I walked around the immediate area. We then walked further, and further, and further. Darn near around the entire hunting area. Nary a sight, sound or impression pigs lived in the area were found. Never discouraged, we sat down briefly for some water and lunch.

Nothing is better on a super hot Texas summer day than some warm bologna sandwiches, and stale chips. Man they missed the spot in our stomachs. After consuming our body weight in water, we started to grab our gear for the second half of the day. I was checking out an area across the lake for any pig sign, when I noticed Dudeman dancing around. Knowing him, and knowing Tequila was not consumed during our break, I instantly became concerned.

He danced, screamed and yelled like a white man on hot coals, dancing to the latest hip hop song. I listened closely but did not hear any music from anywhere. Then he threw off his back pack, dropped his bow and jumped into the lake. Holding back a gut busting laugh, I politely asked him if he was OK. He quickly told me, in very short terms, he had sat his pack on a fire ant hill while we ate. I questioned the intelligence of doing so, and Dudeman quickly questioned if I like my face the way it was.

Once the humor, or pain (depending on your viewpoint), of the situation was over. I helped Dudeman get the little critters of hell off his gear. Our adventure led us back to the parking area. Since we had not seen anything stalking together, we decided it would be best to try and split up and make our way to the truck.

I worked and area along the lake shore, that was a thick mess of tangled heaven. As I approached the base of a point that jutted out into the lake, I heard the tell tale sound of a pig rooting at the other end of the point. I knew what a rooting pig sounded like because, who doesn't know what a rooting pig sounds like?

It was game on. I pulled on the game face and began a slow meticulous approach to the last 75 yards. About a minute later, I was with in 20 yards of the rooting pig noise. The ground cover in between us was so thick, I still could not see the beast. Not wanting to leave Dudeman at the truck too long, I decided to make a final approach with the wind at my back. As I crept around the last bush between me and the beast, I came to full draw. I move slowly around the bush... then came face to face with the beast of beasts.

Growing up in Michigan, I am accustom to certain things in the woods. Squirrels, rabbits, an occasional grouse taking flight under your foot. But none of that prepared me for what I was facing at about 8 yards, at full draw, in the unbearable Texas sun.

There are times in life where you have to make split second decisions. Decisions that can be life or death, or embarrassment or heroism. This was one of them. Facing the beast at spitting distance created a few set of problems I needed to solve and right now. First and foremost was whether I should wet my pants or hold it in. Then I had to decide if what I was looking at was legal game for me to take with the licenses I had in my pocket.

In hindsight, I think I made good decisions in the spur of the moment. I did not wet myself, so the ride home in Dudemans truck was not at all a problem. And I decided the beast was not legal game for me to take. So I thanked God for letting me experience such a close encounter with one of the Texas road bumps, aka armadillo. I am just glad the beast didn't decide to run me over like a tank.