• BratsNMustard

    by Published on 10-25-2013 07:38 AM

    Saturday morning had me sitting in the brush along the shore of little lake in Southern Michigan with my trusty Ithaca Model 66 single shot 12 gauge and my buddy Mike by my side. We were waiting for the sun to rise and the ducks to fly on my first hunt of the season. The wind was just a breeze out of the west over our right shoulder as the sun began to make itsí way over the shoreline to our left. As we listened to geese on a distant lake begin to chatter, the first wood duck of the day sped by almost unnoticed. It was followed shortly after by a few more wood ducks, then a couple mallards and a few shots from our guns.

    Those first couple shots were misses but were enough to consider the day a success. For us, most of the time, it is not about the killing, but rather about the hunt that leads to the harvest. Of course bagging a bird or two is always nice, but not necessary for a good day, and we enjoyed the morning thoroughly as we each took a couple more unsuccessful shots. But by 12:00 noon, when Mike and I left the lake, we had actually connected on a couple nice wood ducks and were very excited about our morning and were really looking forward to Sundays hunt. ...
    by Published on 10-23-2013 07:43 PM

    The past week, it seems, has had me feeling like summer is finally on the way out. With the home fans no longer running all night, and daylight fading away around 9:00 pm, I have begun to feel the change. Then this morning I saw it. Right there in front of me, along M61 west of Gladwin, were orange leaves. Thatís right, orange leaves on two different trees. Sure there were only a few orange leaves on each of those trees, but they are the colors of fall. Those few leaves signal the approach of a day that I look forward to 364 days a year.

    It is a day that will begin with 5:00am breakfast burritos cooked on the grill at a trail end by the lake shore. A predawn kayak trip across a local flooding will get us to our hide out in the cattails. It is a day that many local ducks and geese will regret waking up, for it is opening day of the youth waterfowl hunt.

    Opening day of the youth waterfowl hunt is one of the most memorable days of the year for me. It is an event that I was never able to participate in as a hunter because there was no such season when I was a youth. But for the past 11 years, since my oldest son turned 12, I have had the privilege to spend ...

    3:00 a.m. came extremely early, and as I woke my 12 year old son Bryan his first words were, "I am to tired to go", but I knew he would not miss the day we had ahead of us. Waking so early was a must as it was Saturday, September 19, and was the opener of the 2009 youth waterfowl hunting weekend and I was sure all Bryan needed was to wake up a bit and clear the cob webs out of his head. I had loaded all of our gear the night before so all that was needed was to get dressed and drive to Jays Sporting Goods in Clare, where we would be meeting my friend and co-worker Matt Miller and his niece Jordyn. Jordyn was just 10 years old and, from talking to Matt, she was quite excited about the days hunt. With the short drive from our home in Beaverton, Bryan and I arrived at Jays where we chatted briefly with Jordyn and Matt then headed out for our 45 minute drive north to my favorite early season waterfowl hole.

    We arrived at the lake around 4:45, and as Bryan, Jordyn and Matt unloaded our vehicles, I set up the grill and started cooking breakfast burritos. The grill was a welcome sight to us all as we were hungry and the kids were a bit chilly with the temperature holding ...

    I finally managed to get my hunting license purchased and get after some waterfowl yesterday. My buddy Mike and I had the planned to float one of the local rivers and do some jump shooting for ducks. The weather was perfect, slightly cool in the morning with not a cloud in sight. We started the day by paddling 3 hours up stream while making mental notes along the way about where flooded back bays off the main river were located so that we could paddle along the cattail edges of all of them hoping to jump some ducks on our way back through. The paddle upstream was extremely peaceful as the sun began to rise over the cattails and silhouette Mike in his kayak. We saw several ducks that were out of range, while we shared conversation during the three hour paddle, reliving good times and hunting tales from over 35 years of hunting together. At the end of our paddle up stream we stopped for a short break before heading back down stream and actually hunting.

    At the entrance to the first bay of the main river I told Mike to hold tight right at the mouth and I would go into the bay and paddle around, being sure to go into every little nook and cranny, or water filled ...

    When I arrived at the public access site that late November morning I was not expecting to see a layer of ice on the water. Sure it had been cold for the past few mornings, but I definitely did not think there would be ice. I was there with my kayak for a morning of waterfowl hunting but I was beginning to wonder if I could even get my kayak into water. It was still about a half hour before sunrise, which made it too dark to see if there was open water elsewhere on the lake, so I decided to just sit in my truck until the sun came up so I could see more of the lake.

    That following half hour seemed to drag endlessly. Several times I caught myself second guessing my decision to wait for daylight, but then I reassured myself that if this large lake had ice on it and prevented me from launching my kayak, the smaller lakes in the area would surely be froze shut. So I waited, not so patiently, but I waited, just hoping that with the rising sun I would see open water not far from shore. I hoped for open water along some of the shoreline which might have allowed for a few mallards to hunker down for the evening. And I hoped if there was some open water, that the ice along ...