Saturday, August 18, 2012

I woke up early this morning, loaded my canoe onto the van, and headed out for Stoney Creek Metropark in Shelby Township.  I had the canoe in the water by 8:30 and spent 1-1/2 hours paddling around the lake.  Perfect temperature, no wind, great conditions for a first paddle with my new (to me) canoe!  So what waterway will I paddle next?  I'm leaning towards the Clinton River from Rochester to Utica.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm Still Alive!!

I am probably the world's worst blogger.  It has been over a year since I last posted anything.  My son, pictured in the previous post, is now running around the yard wearing an Algonquin Park t-shirt :)  That outfit will soon be part of my new son's wardrobe.  So now I have two daughters and two sons.  We will definitely need 2 or 3 canoes for family canoe trips! 

It was a terrible year for hunting.  No deer hunting at all, and the rabbit hunting was the worst I have yet seen.  The Winter in southeast Michigan was almost non-existent.  Barely any snow, mostly mud and rain.  The few times I got out were fruitless.  Everybody was praising the mild winter, how easy it was to drive, and how little snow needed to be shoveled.  But for someone who loves tracking rabbits in the snow, it was a depressing season.  I couldn't even go out in my new back yard and stoke up a nice fire.  I had plans to try some winter camping, first in my yard and later in wilder areas, but everything was puddles and mud.

So my winter sucked, and the usual spring canoe trip was first postponed, then cancelled.  I've slept in a tent a total of 5 nights so far this year, without a lot of hope for more.  But there is one thing I am looking forward to this summer:  My wife's uncle has gifted us one of his canoes!  It's not a nice, new Bell or Swift like the ones I'm accustomed to renting, but it floats and it will be my own.  So at the least, I can get in a lot more practice before and after my Algonquin trips.  It is a starting point to the small fleet I hope to someday acquire so that everyone in my family can paddle together.

I will be picking up the canoe at my wife's grandparents' house in Illinois.  We plan on taking it down the Fox River, a repeat of a trip we did last summer.  Then we will be bringing it home to Michigan.  I already have a list of local rivers and lakes I want to paddle before the end of the month!

Friday, February 25, 2011

February Update

Well, no success rabbit hunting this month. Aristos and I went out on two Saturdays but didn't even see a cottontail. The first time the snow was deep, and I think it was a bit too cold. Rabbits were probably holed up snug under the snow. We saw tracks and droppings, but no rabbits. The next time we went to the woods, we brought four of our kids along: Aristos's two boys, and my two girls. We went to my parents' property, but didn't hunt long. I think the kids were just a little too noisy. I also suspect that the hunters my Dad allows to go through once a year had an effect on the local population. Despite the lack of hunting success, we did have a nice lunch around a fire in the field. It was good practice for future trips, and I was able to get a nice, hot cooking fire going. I scavenged wood and tinder from the area, just dry grass and various diameter sticks, and used a lighter for ignition. I'd like to get a flint and steel, to try on warmer trips. But the wind was cold, and I was happy when I finally (after about 15 min.) got a sustainable fire. We cooked hot dogs and marshmallows over the flames, and most of the kids had a blast. My younger daughter had a bit of a meltdown due to cold fingers, and I think it hurt too much to thaw them out over the fire. Good thing Grandma's house was a short walk away! The kids had fun exploring the woods and watching my parents' chickens. Any time I can get them outside for a few hours to do something fun helps to increase their enthusiasm for the outdoors.
One of my future trips has been set: there will be a second annual St. Joe River trip in early May. I plan on bringing the girls, plus a friend of mine (and possibly 1 or 2 of his kids) will also be joining us. I'm hoping for more sunshine, less rain this time.
Still haven't used that Cabela's gift card. Still going back and forth about what exactly to use it for. Most likely, it will be a rain jacket. But who knows what "must have" I'll come across?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recent Hunting Success!

On January 17th, Aristos and I headed to Lapeer County to do some rabbit hunting at another teacher's place. This friend of ours has about 15 acres of great rabbit and deer habitat. Swampy areas with small trees and grasses, rows of pines, brush piles, and ditches. After two earlier hunts with my .22 that resulted in no bunnies bagged, I decided to upgrade to the pump shotgun. Aristos and our host also toted shotguns for this hunt. We brought along two of the beagles, Rufus and Naala. Poor Chloe has developed cataracts and I'm afraid she would run into something and hurt herself. Rufus took last season off to heal a torn ACL, but he looked great this day! Naala showed the best hunt of her life as she chased rabbits back and forth through the underbrush. Our host was a combination third dog/third gun as he took on the task of driving the rabbits towards us. He knew all the spots the rabbits liked to hide, so we heard "one coming your way!" quite a few times.
It was a short hunt, only about two hours long, but the results were fantastic. Aristos had a banner day with 3 rabbits, our host took 2, and I found the mark on one as it sped from under a brush pile. That only equals 6 rabbits, but we bagged 7. One was truly a group effort. It was the smallest, fastest rabbit of the day and also hardest to hit. The dogs were running it through a thick, swampy tangle. When it broke cover we sent as much lead towards it as we could. When the rabbit finally stopped moving, there were empty shells littering the ice and snow at our feet. Later, I discovered that the rabbit had been hit at least twice, so each hunter received 1/3 credit. Who cares, though. We all agreed that it had been a great hunt, we saw a lot of rabbits, took many shots each, and enjoyed a sunny winter day. It was a hunt that we will remember for years and years, and ranks alongside with my 5-rabbit day and 10-point buck. The next hunt is scheduled for next Saturday, and wouldn't it be great if we could repeat our success?
On the paddling front, I have at least 3 trips in the works for the warmer months. The first would be a repeat of last year's Indiana trip. We had a great weekend, despite the near-constant rain. The second trip is a fishing trip on the Manistee River in northern Michigan. Some teacher friends of mine went last year, and have been talking to me about joining them. Sounds like a good time, right after school gets out in June. Finally, the annual Algonquin trip will take a new turn this year. The guys plan on bringing a few kids along this time. My oldest daughter Anna is slated to experience AP for the first time, and hopefully not the last. Other trips, paddling or just on land, are likely to occur as well. I can't wait to get the family out to the woods and on the water!
Oh yeah, I got another Cabela's gift card for Christmas again. Last year I bought a PFD and rain pants with it. This year I will probably replace the raincoat that ripped on my Algonquin trip in August. Any other cool ideas?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big News

I've only been out in the field once since my last post. I took my older daughter to my parents' farm for some rabbit hunting. She was sporting her new birthday present vest and was ready to toss a bunny in the game bag if needed. Unfortunately, no shots were fired, as no rabbits were seen. The dogs found some scent trails, but we were unable to position ourselves in the right spots.

Since then, I've taken a bit of a hunting hiatus as I have been anticipating the arrival of my third child. Well, now he's here! With a November 19th birthday, I see a lot of hunting-themed birthday presents in his future! I doubt we will take many canoe trips on his birthday, though.

My next hunting day will probably be my annual celebration of Rufus's birthday, in early December. Most years, Rufus and I go out and bag a rabbit or two. Last year, he was recovering from a leg injury, but now he is mobile enough to hunt again. I don't know how many more years we'll be able to celebrate with a hunt, but I know chasing rabbits is his favorite thing to do.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not Again!

Two apologies for blogging lapses in a row? I am a terrible blogger! So what has occurred these past two months? First, my trip to Algonquin Park was a fun adventure. 8 days instead of 9, half of them rainy. I plan on publishing a trip report eventually, but I am still waiting to get copies of the pictures (soon, please, Brent and Bryan?). I could relive the afternoon on Burntroot Lake over and over. Relaxing in a hammock strung between two cedars, blue sky, peace.

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.