Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Over the Labor Day weekend, I took my daughters to a campground on the Au Sable River in Michigan. We shared a big tent with my brother-in-law and two nieces. It rained most of the time, but we had a great time and met some awesome new friends. We paddled a short section of the river that Sunday, and Anna impressed me with her first try at paddling bow! A wonderful daddy/daughters trip.
Lastly, Anna's 6th birthday was a week after Labor Day. I fueled her budding passion for hunting by buying her a hunting vest. Now she will match Daddy when she goes rabbit hunting! I'm looking forward to initiating the vest with its first rabbit soon. That's not too self-serving of a gift, is it? Is it as bad as a dad who buys his kid a video game that they can play together, then plays it for hours after the kid is in bed? I don't think it is.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The girls loved walking around Cabela's, but they made it difficult to do any actual shopping. They kept pulling me to the next taxidermy display to ask a hundred questions about each animal. We decided to get a "pop" gun for the girls, since they enjoyed trying them out so much. At one point, Greta pointed her gun at a snowshoe hare and said, "I'm going to shoot that rabbit!" Definitely my daughter!
We didn't see the whole store, but I arrived with a few ideas in mind (thanks to the responses from an earlier post). I scoured the camping and footwear sections, but didn't find anything I really needed soon. I ended up using the gift card to get a pfd and some rain pants, two items I know I'll use this season. The pfd has a mesh upper for more freedom of movement than the standard rental vests, and the rain pants replace the pair that tore along a seam during a downpour last summer. Those who accompanied me last August can rest assured that I tried them on, bending and crouching to make sure they would not expose my backside at an inopportune moment!
Lastly, I checked out the half-dozen canoes on display outside of the store. Two were Old Town Pack canoes, nice and light. The others were heavy clunkers, mostly Old Town tandems. The yokes on some of them were ridiculous; no contour at all vertically, I can only imagine how painful it would be to portage a km under one of those beasts. My wife did not share my enthusiasm over a solo canoe. She would prefer something with two seats, with room for the family. Hmmm, I could solo paddle a tandem if I had to, now if I could only find a canoe in my price range---anybody willing to pay me to take a canoe off their hands? ;)
Now I'm itching to hit the water, and still hoping Saturday the 24th is as nice as today was.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
I have a few options, and I don't yet know which one I'll choose. I can go to the Huron River, less than an hour's drive away, and paddle for a few hours. I could go to the Au Sable or Rifle Rivers, 3 hours' drive away, and be a little more remote. Or I could go all the way to Algonquin Park, meet a bunch of AlgonquinAdventures people, and drive 8 hours each way. What to do? What to do? What to do, as long as it's in a canoe!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Enough lamenting. There are still a few weeks of rabbit season left around here, and I plan on getting out at least one more time. I'll be sure to post details when that all comes together.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Yesterday, Anna and I were supposed to go rabbit hunting with my buddy and his son. Anna's asthma acted up on Sunday and she wasn't quite ready for outdoor exertion on Monday morning. She was very disappointed, as was I, and I have promised her we'll go later this week.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Anna, my 5-year-old daughter, is pictured above in the woodlot on my parents' property. We had a great afternoon of sledding and exploring. First, the girls went sledding on the hills around my parents' house. My brother joined us and helped the girls get going at the top, while I made sure they stopped at the bottom before hitting any trees. Everyone's favorite slope was on the driveway side because it is the steepest and therefore, fastest. Once a groove was established in the snow, the bobsled-like sled went even faster. I had to be on my toes to grab the sled before it hurtled into the trees on the far side of the driveway!
Next, we went for a walk in the woods between the house and the road. The girls had fun walking and crawling around, over, and under trees and fallen branches. We found some rabbit tracks and followed them for a while. The tracks must have been old, for we failed to jump up a cottontail during the search.
For the girls, the afternoon ended with hot chocolate and an Eric Carle (Hungry Little Caterpillar, etc.) video with Grandma. My brother and I went for a walk behind the house. We inspected the recent deer tracks, finding the trail of a decent-sized buck. We discussed the sizes of trees that would be big enough for a deer stand next fall, and I took down a climbing stick.
I was not surprised to look in the rear-view mirror and see my girls snoozing on the drive home. It's so satisfying to take the kids outdoors and see them enjoying nature as much as I do.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
n + 1, with n being the number of canoes you already own.
That made me chuckle, but it really fits how I feel about canoe trips and rabbit hunting. I always want to get one more in each season. Sometimes, the number is as low as 0, and I suffer severe bouts of cabin fever or landlubberitis. It's been a long time since I felt fully satisfied with the number of canoe trips or rabbit hunts in one season.
Is it the end of the world? No, just the state of my personal feelings of well-being based upon preferred avenues of recreation. Not very important at all in the big picture.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
Aristos was the first to jump a rabbit, and he fired once as it ran away. Our two beagles, Chloe and Naala, began following the trail. The two kids were being too chatty, so we split them up by sending them off with different adults. I took Mark with me to find a spot in the woods, hopefully to intercept the rabbit the dogs were trailing. Mark's cousin stayed with her dad and watched for a bunny at another location. I tried to head towards the barking dogs, but they seemed to be having a difficult time staying on the rabbit's trail. Also, Mark and I were making too much noise crashing through the brush. Eventually, we turned around and found the rest of the group. Nobody had seen a rabbit since Aristos initially jumped the first rabbit.
We decided to try a new strategy. Aristos and I headed into the thick brush from two points, while the kids stayed with their uncle/dad and waited for a rabbit to run past. I found the perfect hiding spot for cottontails, an area of knee-high grass and fallen trees. The dogs found plenty of scent and began working under the limbs looking for bunnies. A rabbit darted from a patch of grass and I raised my .22 rifle. Click. An easy ten-foot shot ruined by a misfire! I called out "rabbit!" and spent the next few minutes extracting the dud cartridge, and feeding in new rounds until I found one that fired. By this time the rabbit was long gone, and the shot went harmlessly into the ground a few feet from me. But the shot excited the dogs, who began searching even harder.
Naala followed a scent under a fallen tree, and within minutes of my misfire, I was firing two shots at a fleeing rabbit, this time with bullets actually leaving the barrel. Naala found the scent trail, but showed trouble staying on track, and I feared it would be another rabbit escape. I moved to a more open area nearby, and saw that Aristos was doing the same. The other three members of our group were waiting in the other direction. Naala followed the trail in a big loop probably close to the size of a football field while I found the perfect spot to wait. I could see 50-100 yards in a 180 degree arc. Suddenly, Naala let out an intense series of barks, and I knew that she had seen the rabbit she was trailing. Soon I could see it fleeing, heading straight towards me! I readied my rifle, but waited for a shot where the dog was not nearby. But then Chloe left the brush and headed towards the running rabbit. The cottontail stopped and froze, a beagle behind it and to its left. I crept forward a few steps, hoping for a clear shot at a still target. Instead, the rabbit lost its nerve and ran past Chloe, offering me a running shot. I shot twice, hitting it on the second from about 20 ft. away. It flopped around for a while, then lay still.
Aristos reached me as a began inspecting my kill, and we were soon joined by the rest of the group. Mark volunteered to fillet the rabbit right there, but the adults decided he was not knowledgeable enough about rabbit anatomy to do a proper job. Your day will come, Mark! You'll be wishing you never said anything when the job of cleaning all the rabbits falls to you! After looking at the rabbit for a while and taking some pictures, Aristos's brother-in-law said he was going to take the kids and go home. They had lost their zeal for tramping around the woods in the cold. Aristos and I, along with the dogs, resumed our hunt. We knew there were more rabbits around.
Before we could get very far, my cell phone rang. My wife informed me that my older daughter was having trouble breathing. I agreed to meet her at the urgent care center, then set off to find Aristos. I told him of my dilemma, and we set off for the car, just minutes behind the kids. Aristos and Naala ended up going home with the others, and Chloe and I drove to meet my family. In the end, my daughter was fine after a treatment at the center, and we were all home in time for supper. I thank God that I was able to get out for a successful hunt, and that my little girl received the medical aid that she needed.