Sunday, November 29, 2009

Say ya to da UP eh?

Ahhhhh.... Nimrod is in the great north country recharging the batteries... and its working! Thanksgiving normally, quite often brings us to Loggers house in Michigans glorious Upper Peninsula. What is the Upper Peninsula you ask? Hahaha I know better... but if you don't... well you are missing out on probably the best Michigan has to offer. Get off yer beehin and drive north... keep going. Cross at the straits. Pay to enter Gods country and go anywhere but south.

Yoop, Monkey, Munda and I made the journey up here the day before Thanksgiving. We made good time and over all had a good trip. We had rushed out of the house right after I came home from work. Not to get a jump start on the 420 mile drive. So Murph would not notice we were leaving and hopefully stay home. Since the trip up went out a hitch, I think our plan worked.

I had discussed with Yoop my thoughts about bringing Murph and ditching him with Logger. She said it wouldn't be fair for Logger. My argument that he has had 40+ years of hunting without Murph around fell on deaf ears. I still think it would have been great to drop him off in the middle of the bear woods. How awesome that would be! But she who is in charge said no.

A little family history lesson for you. Pay attention there is a test at the end. My father in law, Logger was a lumberjack for many years. His jobs have taken him all over the UP and he knows most of the back woods very well. Yoop was born and raised in the UP. She comes from a long family line of Yoopers. So she knows this awesome country very well.

Logger has secured solo access to about 80 acres of beautiful woods. He has a luxurious blind, by nimrod standards, set up on a pipeline running through the property. My blinds generally consist of some trees that provide decent cover and my three leg stool. Rain, sun, clouds or snow. I almost always sit on my stool. Unless Murph hides it on me, which he always does. So when I get the chance to hunt this style, I tend not to know what to do with myself.

Loggers blind is not just a place to sit and hunt for deer. No sir-ee. It is a full-fledged hunting shack that would make any Yooper proud. Between the 12 windows that open for shooting, the full carpet, the very comfy swivel chairs and the 144 square foot interior with 8 foot ceiling you would think you are in heaven... and prolly not that far from it! The elements are kept out while you are comfy and quiet while waiting for the deer to show. Most would be happy with that. I know I would. Not logger.

To his credit during a UP rifle hunt the weather has the potential to get kinda cool. Really cool. Ya know the mornings when you wake up and its 10 degrees or cooler outside. Some winters even the evening hunts are not above freezing. Not being one who kicks a gift horse in the butt, I would still be happy in the blind. But not Logger. Nope, why settle for second best when you can have the best. Logger has a small propane heater in the blind. The heater is small, about eight inches square. But let me tell you that thing can warm up every 144 square feet of the blind to where you would be down to your under roos if you don't keep 'er on low. So you have nearly all the luxuries of home minus electricity and TV. But its hunting who really wants that junk? Logger and Yoop have taken numerous deer from the blind and its predecessor, so who am I to argue with something that works?

We reached Loggers house mid afternoon. Made the obligated hellos and hugs then Yoop and logger set off for an evening hunt. I stuck around the house with Monkey and Munda. Long trip and they needed some play time. I again noticed that Murph was not to be found. I hate to talk like I miss him because I don't. When he is around I can be ready for something he does... if I get to relaxed he could take me by surprise.

Logger and Yoop came home without seeing a single deer that night. They went out again the next morning, Thanksgiving morning and only saw a brave turkey, a bald eagle and some song birds. Yoop asked what kind of turkey comes out on Thanksgiving morning... I told her a yooper turkey. Then ducked and still got hit.

I am gonna go for now. I will continue with our UP Thanksgiving hunting adventures next time. Say ya to da UP eh?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Never Ever Ever Never Break a Tradition

The holiday has come. Participation and celebration continues but the main event is over. Think of it as the final festival parade only it is held before not at the end. Or the main fight of a boxing card being held before the smaller no name fights. I know it seems odd but I wouldn't want it any other way.

To the business at hand. You know I wouldn't miss the opener so of course I went out. May not have been for as long as I wanted, but nonetheless I was there. The morning started early. Well I guess the night never ended. I was at work until 5am. I drove home, jamming to some Fred Bear turned up way too loud. Weather was warm with a decent breeze. Right out of the south. Didn't see any deer mailboxes on the way home, I think Murph tipped them all off that the great holiday was upon us.

I made it home, completely bright eyed and bushy tailed unlike the bow opener. The days surrounding this one let made it easier to be awake. I woke Yoop up and asked her what time she wanted me to wake her up. She said in about 20 minutes. I quietly gathered my gear. Doing my best to let Murph sleep in, all day if possible.

20 minutes later I woke Yoop up again. Munda woke up all smiles. Monkey crawled out of bed, grumpy and disheveled. Guess which one takes after ole Nimrod? We packed up the Yoopmoblie and headed to base ops. Normally I would take the Rusty Chevrolet on my adventures but she is currently DOA. Something went in the transmission. Still in the progress of diagnosing it but can say for certain... something is wrong with the transmission. No doubt Murph is the culprit but I have to know whats wrong to determine how or why he did it.

Back on the road we cruised thru the drive thru and got everyone some home cooked fast food. I tell ya... I think the girl thought I was cute or something. She made sure our order was perfect. She must have cause we waited at the pickup window for about 5 minutes. So she was either noticing how suave ole Nimrod is or was laughing at how goofy I look. I did a quick check in the rear view and know it wasn't the later. After a long anxious wait we were grubbing and back on our way to baseops.

I dumped Yoop and the fawns off at baseops. Performed a quick change into the last hunting fashions and pointed the Yoopmobile toward the family land and cranked Fred Bear back up way too loud. I cruised to the family land and parked in the corn field. I gathered what gear I didn't already have on me and set off toward the woodlot. The whole ride, singing the words to Fred Bear, I had another thought on my mind. Where is Murph on this fine day.

Its not that I want him around. Its not that I even like him. Its just I like to know where my enemies are so I can prepare a proper defense or offense depending on the scenario. Like grandma always said, keep your friends close and your handgun closer.

As I sneaked through the darkness I still was deciding where I should make the morning sit. Every year I have been in Michigan for the gun opener, I have sat in the same area. Whats that word? Oh yea tradition. Traditions are wonderful. I love traditions. No one ever wants to break traditions. I decided to step out of the norm and break tradition. Its fun being a rebel. Throwing people for loops. Zigging instead of zagging. Whats the worst that could happen by breaking tradition? Just maybe Murph will be waiting in the normal spot and leave me alone.

I choose to break tradition. I know, I know. Never, ever, ever, never break tradition.

Why? Rules are meant to be broken. Why not traditions. Whats the worst thing that could happen by breaking tradition?

I found a nice spot in between the tradition chair and where I thought I should be. I settled in, loaded up the smokepole. I put the powder pellets down the barrel, start the sabot round and rammed them both home. Wearing gloves I put the primer cap in the breech. I felt the primer seat correctly into the breech plug, and checked it again with my fingers to ensure it was seated properly. I cocked the hammer and was ready to rock and roll. I still had not seen Murph. Maybe, just maybe he had stayed home. One can hope.

Many people prophesize about sunrises while hunting or being outdoors. They speak of the beauty of the sun rising, the colors, how the woods come alive with daylight, song birds chirping, blah, blah, blah. This wasn't one of those days. The daylight slowly took over, and a few birds fluttered around. No outstanding color. No chirping. Nothing to paint a picture of. Daylight just was there. Slowly.

As this daylight took over for the darkness I scanned the area. I had one good shooting lane. It was the creek that ran north in front of me. There are several spots the deer cross within shooting range. I was hoping to catch one as it crossed, giving me enough time to get a good shot. Simple plan. Too bad I have yet to find an ambassador to the cerivd's. One who can pass the game plan on to them so we are all on the same page.

A little while later, after a short check to make sure my eyelids didn't have holes in them, I saw some movement at the very far end of the creek. It was a deer. Not only was it a deer it was a buck. Ya may remember I have been hunting the family land for a few years. Just how many is a secret I keep so people don't realize how old ole Nimrod is. I want people to think I am as young as I look.

In all my years hunting the family land I have seen a lot of bucks. This one is on the of finest of the three I have seen. He had antlers about 6 or 8 inches tall, adorned with 2 points on each side... a thing of beauty. A Michigan monster. I instantly put the game face on. I watched the buck walk about 5 feet down the creek, they move west. The trees were too thick for a shot. In an instant I couldn't see him anymore.

Oh well. It happens to everyone occasionally. I tried to ignore the fact it happens to me all the time. What's worse is the buck moved in a line directly west. Toward the thick bedding area at the west end of the family land. Well that's not the bad thing. The bad thing is he would have had to walk with in 30 yards of the traditions chair. Remember the one I had decided not to sit in? Ya know … whats the worst that could happen by breaking tradition? Well I found out. A chance at one of the biggest bucks I have seen on the family land. Were the tradition fairies showing me the error of my ways? Did I somehow spook the animal? I may never know.

During the rest of my sit I heard leave rustling all over. To my right, to my left, everywhere in between. I again put the game face on. Waiting for the ensuing deer blitz coming my way. I waited. Waited some more. After 15 minutes I realized it wasn't a deer herd. It was Murph up to his old tricks again. He had hired an entire brigade of squirrels to come toward me at the same time. Jumping from tree to tree, using battery powered fans to move the leaves around.

That got me to thinking maybe it wasn't the traditions fairies who made the deer veer to the west. Maybe Murph was behind it. Not like he wouldn't go out of his way to screw up my hunt. I raised my binoculars and checked the creek. Sure enough I saw the problem. Someone, who shall not remain nameless- Murph, had placed a clear snow style fence across the ditch. I could barely make it out but sure as a buck pees on his legs during the rut it was there. Right across the creek where any deer who may be traveling down the creek would be forced to veer off out of sight for a shot.

Not exactly happy I was determined to wait any deer out and prove to Murph he doesn't own me. I know the family land better than anyone. This fool will not make me give up. About 5 minutes later I decided to call it quits for the day. I still had to get some beauty sleep before returning to work for another 12 hours.

As I returned to the Yoopmobile I pondered the morning. Over all it was a great hunt. Not only did was I able to participate in another Michigan firearm deer season opener. I also enjoyed a miserably warm that turned to rather cool morning, and a brisk wind that wouldn't stay out of one direction. I had my hunt once again interrupted by Murph who thought his antics were completely hilarious. I did see a buck though. Not just a buck... on the biggest bucks of the three I have ever seen there. All in all it was a good morning.

I sleepily started putting my things in the Yoopmobile. I opened the breech of the smokepole and went to remove the primer and noticed it wasn't there. I blinked a few times thinking my tired eyes were playing tricks on me. I checked again and it was still not there. Y'all know me. I check, recheck and check again everything I do. I was stymied that the primer was not in the breech like it was when I readied the smokepole. To tired to think, I put away my things and pointed the Yoopmobile toward baseops.

Looking back at the primer predicament I can only think of two things that could have happened. One, which I know couldn't have happened, is that when I seated it into the breech plug I dropped it on the ground and due to the gloves on my hands I didn't actually feel the primer like I know I did. Like I said there is no way that happened.

Second is that Murph had something to do with it. By now you know he is sneaky and quick. I know I never sat the smokepole down or had it out of my hands. So I had to figure out how it would be able to manipulate the smokepole while I held onto it in wait of my prey. I can only postulate he played his trick during that brief moment when I was checking my eyelids my holes. It was only a few seconds but like I said he is sneaky and quick. Of course the course of fate may be best left alone. Cause if Murph had not diverted the monster buck away from me and I had dropped the hammer on an empty breech plug it would have turned into a very very very ugly morning in the woods. The joyousness of Michigan's Firearm deer opener would have turned into a lonely trip to the emergency room for Murph to have a smokepole removed from a place a smokepole should not be.

After I woke from the days much needed beauty sleep, Yoop told me she had the opening day hunting report from her dad, Logger. Logger and Fidge sat most the day in Loggers heated yooper style shooting shack, only seeing one deer. A big'um according to Logger. But I learned long ago yooper hunting stories are like fish stories they get bigger every time the story is told.

Nimrod and family had an opening day of Michigan's Firearm deer season. Won't say it was good. Won't say it was bad. But one thing for certain is it was. Hope everyone else had an opener as well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Twas the night before deer season...

Life ain't what it used to be. I recall years ago when life ceased on November 15th. Men didn't go to work. Kids didn't go to school. They went hunting. November 15th is a Michigan state holiday. Well not officially but years ago many places treated it that way. Businesses, schools, towns would close. No sense in opening if no one was going to be there anyway. Not so much anymore. This year I will be the lone hunter on the family land for the opener. I don't think it has been that way ever since I started hunting.

For those who don't know November 15th is the opening day of Michigan's firearm deer season. One of the greatest of holidays.

Y'all know I am a diehard bow hunter. I live, breath and ooze bowhunting. The bow opener is a great time to be a hunter. From tradition alone it pales in comparison to the firearms opener. Maybe it is gun season last about 2 weeks... bow season lasts for about 12 (including 2 for gun season). Maybe it is just not anchored in as much lore. No matter the reason the Michigan Firearm deer opener is a quite likely the best time to be a Michigan deer hunter.

Hunters around the state travel all kind of distances to get to deer camp. Whether it is a tent in your yard or a cabin deep in the north woods. Deer camp is the place to be come November 15th and the preceding days. It is a time when boys become men and men act like boys. Camp is a place where amenities like running water are not near as important as running beer taps or poker games. A place where pranks run rampant and friendships are kindled.

This year I am running deer camp out of my house. With my Yoop, Monkey and Munda! I guess Murph will be there too since no one took me up on my offer for him. I have hunted the same chair, the belonged to my grandpa. Looking at the weather and deer sign I would believe that it would not be the best for the circumstances. Will I break tradition? Will I follow the norm? What would grandpa do? Check back soon for the next entry into my diaries.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wheres the blade?

What a crazy world we live in. October was rather cool and very wet... So far in November its been rather warm and dry. Funny how stuff works sometimes. There were a few times in October I under dressed while out hunting and froze my tail feathers off... November... I have been sweating them off. Since the last entry, Murph hasn't really been around. Not sure where he went but I hope he goes often.

I have enjoy several hunts without his antics interrupting me. I even had a nice lil buck nearly with in shooting range. Looking back I did miss him, just a little. Kind of like how you miss a tooth ache once the tooth doctor yanks out the bad tooth. You just get used to something being a certain way and no one likes change.

I called around and never figured out where he was. All I know is he is back. My luck he went to Cancun and thinks I sent him there. Seems like he would know I would never send him there by himself... I would need to ensure he is safe in the land of Pina Coladas and bikinis. Just to make sure he doesn't go blind, by himself, looking at the scantly clad women folk.

Anywho I found out that he was back from his vacation, likely all rested up in time for the firearm deer opener. It happened when Grey Beard called me asking for help turning a few deer into family sized portions. A friend, Tardy, was bringing over the deer for ole Beard to process. We beat Grey Beard to baseops and settled in for a night of carving some flesh.

Tardy brought the deer over on time for once. Since I have been back in Michigan I think this is the first time he has been on time. He has some pretty lil deer in the trailer. Nearly identical to the one I had seen while Murph was away. First I thought Tardy was poaching my deer but then realized I hunt public land and at least a hundred miles away from where Tardy had killed the deer. Them experts say bucks will travel long distances to find receptive women during the rut... I think just maybe my lil friend went on a walkabout.

Anyway, we hung the first one up and got to business. I was jamming to the radio skinning him out and I heard Murph coming in the door. He seemed to be leaving me alone which as certainly fine with me. I had the beast just about naked and reached for Grey Beards sawzall. He found out long ago, it is much lazier to use the sawzall in place of a bone saw for bone cutting. Works real well. One thing you can count on ole Grey Beard for is to find a lazy way to solve problems that really don't exist.

As I picked up the saw, Murph slid out the door going to get some pop I assumed. I put the saw to the bone and pulled the trigger. I have been following Grey Beards lead and using the power saw for a few years, it works real well. Compared to getting the arm workout of an old style bone saw it is always like a hot knife through Jello. Well almost always.

The saw blade was reciprocating like a dream. Working like a mad man to finish the race in time to make it to the bar for happy hour. Back and forth. Forth and back. After about 30 seconds I realized the blade wasn't really cutting. It was acting like a neutered dog on a female in heat. All work for no pleasure.

I checked the blade and found a fine tooth blade in the saw. I scoured the skinning shack for a normal coarse wood blade to no avail. Murph had struck again. I take back everything I said about missing him. I didn't. Really I didn't miss him one single bit.

Not to be one to be out done, I continued to use the power saw for the bone cutting duties. It took a little bit longer. Well, ok, a lot longer but at least I knew I didn't let Murph have the final laugh. At the end of the night my forearms were burning more than they ever had using the hand saw. That power saw gets a wee bit heavy in the hand when your holding it for several minutes. Holding it and working the trigger with one hand. Holding the item your cutting in the other. But Murph didn't win this time.

Maybe Murph did win again. But I'll be damned if I am going to tell him that. Gun season starts in 4 days. I am still trying to figure out where I am going to hide him for the opener. Anyone interested in a visitor who is good for nothing but trouble?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yard Bird Bonding

We are in the middle of the season of seasons. The greatest season, well a nice mid winter blizzard is cool, so it the spring melt where things start to grow again, don't forget those great spring and summer hiking or camping trips and fishing expeditions. Each season is great I suppose, the best one is the one your in. But fall is when the great seasonal brews come out; winter is cold and snowy; spring is full of mud and bugs; summer is just hot with even more bugs.

Tonight I am sitting here typing, accompanied by a nice cold Leinie Creamy dark with a mind full of adventures. I had six out of seven days off this past week. You know I was going to be hitting the deer woods for most of it. At weeks end I made 3 trips into the woods, including one with Monkey. Murph is still around. He is like a bad cold. One that doesn't go away, just lets you feel better for a few days then smacks ya again.

Monkey had been bugging me for a few days about going hunting. Of course being in cahoots with Murph, he doesn't make it easy. He has overheard Yoop and I talking about the fall yard bird season. I thought it started on the 14th, she thought it started on the 15th. So I was waiting to buy my license since I had a few days and already drew the tag. But he only wanted to go with me if I had a yard bird tag.

One night I got on the DNR website to check to see if Yoop or I were right. I couldn't believe my eyes. The fall yard bird season started on the 5th. Four days after bow season started. I did some checking and found that Murph had changed the dates in my hunting guide so I would not get out in after any yard birds early. Not to mention when I went to get my yard bird tag, Murph put me in for the wrong area. I had been all excited about being drawn for a public land tag for the area around the house, I never noticed I actually drew for public lands in several counties away. Some I have never stepped foot in let alone hunted in. Since Monkey had his heart set on yard bird hunting with ole Nimrod I bought the tag I could.

We had to make the journey over to the family land in order to go yard bird hunting. I had been planning this trip for weeks. I had nothing together and none of my turkey calls ready. I threw some hunting stuff together, grabbed Muds pop up blind. We made it to base ops, Monkey and I visited for a brief minute and then changed into our hunting gear. We borrowed Grey Beards green machine, since Yoop would be mad if we got the Yoopmobile that muddy.

I tossed bag after seat after bow after arrows after pop up blind after camera after tripod after after after.. you get the idea. I carried ten times more gear to the woods than I would normally carry. Like I have said before Nimrod ain't no mathemagcian but ten times the gear for 1 extra guy doesn't quite add up. Oh well, I had locked Murph up in the dog cage before we left so I knew the evening wouldn't be too bad.

Monkey and I found a clear spot in the hardwood clearing. I tossed up the blind and realized I had forgotten out seats. No sweat Monkey has the patience of a mosquito and our knees could take the beating. We put up the one leg yard bird decoy up then settled into the pop blind. I reached into my fanner pack and grabbed my yard bird calls. Well I grabbed a grunt tube and realized Murph must have taken the yard bird calls out of the pack before I put him in the doggy slammer.

Monkey and I got there way before dusk. The evening was wonderful even though the only yard bird we saw was the one leg bird we put out on arrival. The deer stood us up too. Not surprising though. While we are two handsome devils, we sounded like a herd of buffalo in a small camo tent...

The best part of the evening was that Murph left us alone. I think he got well acquainted with my beagle, Mommas. She is usually happy to see us when we get home. Yet that night she gave us the cold shoulder all night. I think Murph worked his magic or her too. Fool doesn't know when to quit.

After a few minutes Monkey found gold. Actually pink and silver foil. He reached into his old winter jacket that had been in the closet and found some Easter chocolate from last winter. The look on his face was priceless. Like he had just found the holy grail of holy grails. Since Murph had also taken all the snacks I had sneaked into my fanner pack for Monkey and I he was able to devour the ancient treasures.

3/4's of one hour after we arrived Monkey and I packed up base camp. While I was repacking bag after bag after bag Monkey was wander around collecting leaves. Big leaves, little leaves. Green leaves, yellow leaves, brown leaves. He looked like a worker bee spitting up honey into the honeycomb. I finally asked what he was doing and he said that he had forgot his teacher wanted them to collect leaves for class. He collected half the forest floor and stuffed them into my fanner pack. Not sure how long they lasted in the pack. If I was a wagering man I wouldn't wager very far.

We made it back to Grey Beards green machine and cruised back to base ops. Monkey turned down some venison soup for some frozen formed pieces of chicken. He's my boy... just not sure where he got his taste buds.