Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1st-half report and beyond

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

While dipping Oreos into a hot cup of joe with the glow of the artificial fireplace radiating off my side, I bring you the yearly first-half deer season report.

Unfortunately, it looks like it will be another buckless season for this graybearded deer hunter.

What was supposed to be a celebration of 20 years of deer hunting with Mac Arnold over various media outlets, will instead likely be an occasion of embracing gratitude for taking a big doe Oct. 23 and possibly another doe later in the season. Just like last year.

I don't know how many times I've learned over the years that I get two or three opportunities on bucks, usually in October and into November, and how I do with those determines the season.

Strike three. All three came from the spot behind the house in Monroe County.

The first chance came in early October as a buck came in under the stand in the waning light of dusk and I couldn't quite make out the size of the antlers beyond a wide four-point, so I passed.

As November turned, on the seventh, I got to confirm he was a bigger buck in the daylight. While I was walking out after a morning sit on the stand, there he was staring at me 20 yards away in the fallow field's dry brown wavy grass. I backed into low brush on the woods' edge, took off my stand and pack, got the release and tried to grunt him into the one shooting lane I had. After a few nerve-wracking moments, he bolted.

So when 15 minutes had gone by and I was sure he moved on, I mounted up and headed out.

But there he was. This time on the other side of me along the woodline but 30 to 35 yards out. Once more I slipped back into the cover and grunted at him. This time he was coming and right where I needed him. It was a longer shot than I like with the compound bow but it was too good of a chance to pass up. I let the arrow fly and I'm not sure if the tall feathery grass ate it up or it zinged over his back. He didn't flinch. It was the proverbial deer-in-hunter's eyes look. A clear miss one way or the other.

He took off toward the woods and I nocked another arrow for what would be a shot I like at 15 yards if he took the trail in front of me but he went in farther and there was a fallen tree that obstructed the shot.

The third time was not the charm the next day even though I did hit him but with a bolt from the Parker crossbow. All the drawing back on the compound the day before from the ground injured my surgically repaired left shoulder.

With 50 minutes in the bag, I got down out of the tree stand and found good blood along with half the bolt broken off. After 200 yards, there still was no deer. I backed out to resume the search the next day.

Another nearly two-hour search along the blood trail on Nov. 9 for 200 yards, proved futile as well.

RTO Photo by Mac Arnold
This had all the makings of
being deer No. 49 but alas it
wasn't to be. 
I found some comfort in a question and answer from a bow hunting quiz in the October edition of the American Hunter, which said: "You struck a deer with your arrow and it bounded off. You think it was a good hit but aren't sure. You waited two hours then blood-trailed the deer for 300 yards on steady drops. It never bedded down. Which of the following is most likely true?

The answer was A. "You made a flesh wound or a non-vital hit above the lungs. ... While exceptions always exists, if a deer goes more than 300 yards without bedding, the chances the hit was fatal greatly decrease. Continue the search anyway, and hope for the best."

Bingo. This was totally my situation. It never bedded.

I considered calling in a dog tracker but after showing him the picture of the blood, he said, "That looks like the same blood we've been on for a mile and a half tonight and we never did find the deer."

So as far as me snapping a three-year buck drought, it could be the shooting match as they say.

Of course, who knows what the late season holds. Anything is possible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sorry, I've been away

By Mac Arnold
RTO Photo by Stacie Arnold
A new day has arrived with the big Sanilac County, Mich., doe transported
on top of the Jeep Oct. 23. I'll have to admit, it's easier done with a truck.
RTO Editor

Yes, it has been a while between posts.

But I've been hunting.

Imagine that, here it is late October and your blog editor extraordinaire is out hunting?

With the fat doe bagged Thursday, Oct. 23, at the camp in Sanilac County, Mich., this season is kicking in nicely.

The Wasp broadhead anchored on a Beman arrow launched from the Martin compound bow did the trick.

A neck shot dropped the girl right in her tracks. Had a premonition the kill would be a neck shot, and here it happened. Strange how things like that happen.

And I did say compound bow in this day and age of rampant crossbow use. Not bad for a guy who has had torn rotator cuff surgery on each shoulder.

Now don't get me wrong. In fact, the morning of the kill the weapon of choice was the Parker crossbow.  Yet, somehow, in the early morning autumn fog when I pulled the trigger with a fat doe in the crosshairs, the crossbow failed to fire.

Seems it wasn't cocked correctly.

Need to follow up on this because a hang fire on a doe is one thing but if it happens on a 10-point, it could be sickening.

For the vacation after-action report, I was out in the deer woods five of the 11 days I had off work.

Another morning was spent along the goose pond, and one shot put more breast meat in the freezer for jerky I plan to make for the November deer gun season.

Really only had good deer action the evening the big doe was taken. For about an hour, a decent buck -- couldn't make out points -- chased seven or eight does around 80 yards from where I was perched in an oak tree.

And in October, if the Halloween deer hunt comes off as planned, it will be 12 outings total, with whitetails seen four times split between the Sanilac County camp and the spot behind the Monroe County house.  A buck that appeared to be no more than a fork horn was passed on by this editor at dusk in Monroe.

Hopefully the sightings and the action will pick up, which is expected once the temperatures drop as November winds begin to blow.

It still has been warm most days with it being a ridiculous 79 Oct. 26 that had me not even bother unloading the gear in the Jeep at the Petersburg State Game Area and move on to other endeavors. Just too dang warm.

On a side note: Some readers may notice a slight name change to the blog. That is because the old name was similar to another outdoorsman's name for his television show and enterprise.

To tell you the truth, I like this one better. What do you think?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Coming attractions

By Mac Arnold
ROA photo by Mac Arnold
Practicing out the window in
Monroe County, Mich., has
been helpful. The Beman ICS
Hunter arrows shoot nicely.
ROA Editor

Whoop! Whoop! Hot in the mail Monday was my deer tag for the Shiawassee State Game Area.

This is somewhat a relief in case the camp in Michigan's Thumb gets too packed.

Of course, the state game area can get that way as well but not so much during the middle of the week.

But the same can go for the deer camp too.

Thing is, options are nice to have during the 90-days of insanity, which begins for us "nonyouths" on Oct. 1.

I'd love to drop a nice buck there after the couple follies I've encountered at the peoples' property over the years. Never have scored on that hallowed ground although I've had a opportunity or two to do so.

The properties have a nice mixture of hardwoods, crop lands and canals, which offer great habitat for Mr. Whitetail.

In particular, there is one section of oak flats that I like to go in hopes of reversing the misfortune I had there ... oh, probably a decade ago or so now. When a nice 8-point trotted by but just out of bow range for the recurve.

Then an hour later, a comedy duo of a father and son appeared dragging him practically to the tree I was standing on point in. Suddenly, the dad begs off and says he has to ... take of business, much to the disbelief of the son. So about 10 yards over from me he drops trow and turns the honey hole into a stink hole. After they rolled on past, I had zero debate on whether my hunt was finished. It most certainly was and right at prime-time dusk. I was not amused.

Later in the parking lot, I discovered my favorite $30 Scent-Lok skull cap was nowhere to be found, and I began muttering to myself and carrying on for 10 minutes or so before I noticed the dad from the previous event was sitting in the dark watching the pageant unfold. Why he was still there I haven't a clue but in my embarrassed state, I quickly abandoned all thoughts of finding the hat and hauled butt out of there.

A few years later, I took to another part of the state land across from a cut corn field. There was water behind me. It had all the makings of a good setup.

Sure enough at dusk in came some does, and I had a tag. After having one arrow fall off my bow, I emptied the quiver of the remaining three arrows at one and connected nicely with the dirt with all three. Ended up losing one. It was very embarrassing, if only to myself.

I attributed it to the older, heavier bow and weak shoulder.

Ah, what great memories. Time to make some more.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Quick note on youth deer hunt

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

As far as youngsters getting into the great outdoors Sept. 20-22 and shooting bucks during Michigan's youth deer hunt, sorry, not for it, not in the least.

Does, sure, have at it.

Just doesn't seem fair for everyone else and there's no tellin' for sure who's pulling the trigger in the blind, Dad, or Johnny Boy.

Learn like we did. Get good on small game and then one day you young kids will get your chance. Or again, like us, wait until the regular seasons -- Oct. 1, Nov. 15 and Dec. 5.

So anybody on Facebook -- one site in particular, which I will leave nameless -- who shows the upcoming youth of the fruited plain holding up a nice rack he or she took during that early season will NOT get a "like" from me or an "atta-boy."

It's funny, the administrator of this nameless site even said to the effect that any negative comments regarding the youth deer season on his pages would not be tolerated and would be removed.

Well, on this site, the word is "phooey" on kids taking bucks during the youth deer hunt.

So there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On the board

By Mac Arnold
ROA photos by Mac Arnold
Sometimes it's all about the shirt.
The lucky shirt was on my back for 
a timely kill in the goose backwaters.

ROA Editor

With the sun easing between the orange-lined clouds and the tops of the reeds, a wispy fog lifted and as predicted with a southwest wind, the honkers came off the pond and right into my lap.

It wasn't the crazy formations of 20 and 30 that had taken off the previous week but three would do.

OK, how about one?

Finally I was able to put enough double BBs into one of those tough buggers on the final day of the early nuisance goose season in Monroe County, Mich.

It headed straight to the ground. But the fun had only begun.

The mark I had locked in my memory banks of where it fell was not as solid as I had thought. After three or four patrols into the marsh without the goose left me soaked and miserable as a wet cat.

All would have been for naught had I a dog ready for prime time. (Augie the black Lab is still months away from making a difference.)

But walking circles through smelly muck was well worth it.
I can't ever recall tracking as
long as I did for a goose or
any other game animal that
was so close to my setup.

Piles of geese are often commonplace this time of year on some of my friends' pages and other sites on Facebook since the daily limit is five per person.

A couple of these friends live the glory and actually are goose guides.

As for this country boy, who basically walks out the back door to the pond, I'm still using the same OLT goose call and G&H shell decoys that I bought in the 1990s. So any in the game bag is greatly appreciated.

However, this could change with the sweet setup I have going on ... at least while it lasts until the eventual progress takes over. And on the sooner horizon, when deer season begins and conflicts priorities.

The regular waterfowl season, which includes a quickie three-day rehearsal on geese Sept. 20-22, kicks off Oct. 11 and runs until Dec. 7, so I'm sure this story won't end here. Hopefully it will include a few ducks as well.

At least the dreaded goose egg, so to speak, has been removed, and I'm finally on the board.

Yep, one will do, for now.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Frustration mounts

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

Guess I'll be happy to jump onto other game animals for awhile.

Geese seem indestructible. No, they are indestructible.

It is a rarity indeed when I drop one. A few more missed shots Wednesday, Sept. 10, again have frustrated me.

At least I set up on the right part of the property, unfortunately I'm not in the field they want to be in. This field is in between the golf course and the school field, which is where they do want to be. There are plenty of opportunities for passing shots -- like today for instance.

After lighting up their tail feathers Wednesday, it is time for a break until the last day of the early nuisance season, which is Monday, Sept. 15.

Goose comes back in briefly Sept. 20-22 and then the regular waterfowl season opens with ducks also coming in the fold Oct. 11. This should be good. Had quite a few ducks cruise past the pond.

One thing in my favor is I am a determined hunter and often don't stop until success is realized.

In the meanwhile, there will be a bass fishing gig in the canoe with my honey hopefully today (Sept. 11) depending on how the deluge from the last evening affected the water levels and clarity, which it definitely has I'm sure.

But it's something we've been waiting to do together for a long time so I'm sure we'll go anyway.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wait and see

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

After some thought -- although Stacie would say much thought -- way too much, I believe I may have figured out why the geese around the pond live on.

It comes down to the choke tube and shot size.

I remembered on the honkers I've dropped here and there over the years, that I used BB steel shot with a modified choke.

Why this slipped from my mind I don't know but the modified choke is in and new ammo in the pack for the next gig, which I hope will be this morning.

In fact, it's these BlackCloud rounds that seem to have been the rage of late, at least from the reports on the Web.

"Good stuff," the oldtimer Tim told me from behind the Cabela's counter in Dundee, Mich. He emphasized what it said on the box that the simpler chokes, basically non-ported ones, produce the best results.

The misses haven't been like some crazy amount, only four so far, but it likely would be a lot more if the setup remained the same with the super tight choke and No. 2s. I've read where some guys say No. 2s drop them all day long from here to the Pacific flyway. But around this Midwest pothole, they've been shaking off those pellets like a hard rain and saying, "Hey, hoss, that the best you got?"

Anyway, I got proactive.

Let's find out what happens.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

'Goosed' so far for 2014

ROA photos by Mac Arnold
Well, maybe I can't knock down any Canada geese but at
least I look the part. But there is plenty of season left.
By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

This season more than ever has "goosed" me.

Probably because the access to the spot in Monroe County, Mich., is ... well ... effortless or so I thought.

For the most part I've been outsmarted the four days I've been on point. I missed two shots Thursday, Sept. 4, and two more Friday, Sept. 5.

But the craziest part happened after Thursday's hunt. Led by a tip from my "scout" in an upstairs window, I was basically told don't look now but there was a blue boy parked a few yards over from where I was, "and they have dogs!" She even texted the photo of it to me for proof. Bigger than you know what, there they were.


I remembered one of my dearest friends when we were mere second-graders jumping up and down on desks while being chased around the classroom by our elderly teacher, shouting, "What did I do? What did I do?" This is exactly how I felt but you know what? I didn't feel like finding out by having a couple of state troopers slip silently in on me with guns drawn, so with it being 9:30 a.m. anyway and the stifling heat of late summer coming on, I packed it in.

It was irritating no less because of all the precautionary work I did to get written permission, making sure I had legal distances from houses and obviously the proper hunting tags. But away I skulked much like a buck who has been pushed from his territory.

Later, after a closer look from the crow's nest myself, it appeared the troopers were actually conducting dog training.

This is a total "It happened to me story." No way could I make this up.

Anyway I decided to zoom over on the 4-wheeler (another excuse to use the quad, oh yeah) and just find out for myself.

Sure enough, after talking with the state boys, that's exactly what they were doing: dog training. The goon-sized one even asked, "Did you get anything?" Sadly, I had to confess no.

But the best part of the ordeal was I could talk over the distances from the houses (have to be 450 feet away) because the hunting area does have another nearby subdivision. And I was told, "Nope, you're good but we'll probably get calls anyway."

Stay tuned.

Despite midday heat, I was
still able to land a nice bass.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bassin' into late summer

ROA photos by Mac Arnold
This smallmouth bass put up a great fight the evening of
Aug. 22. 
He must have been camera-shy.
By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

Time is definitely running out on the summer bass season for this outdoorsman.

Yet it seems like this is when the big boys bite best on River Raisin in Monroe County, Mich.

The one (and only one) I hooked the evening of Friday, Aug. 22, jumped a foot out of the water and then dove straight under the canoe. It was a full-blown riot. Probably the best fight on a catch this summer.

It wasn't a gargantuan smallie like some that we pulled out of the river here last summer but still a solid 15-incher, one-pounder.

For sure, it is tough to be disappointed knowing the muggy evenings patrolling the river canoebound while trying to pinpoint a lunker's hideout are winding down. This is always one of my favorite time of the year as the excitement builds with some of the best hunting gigs fast approaching -- nuisance goose, fall turkey.

And now, once again: woodcock and grouse.

Yep, I've got a bird dog. Er, maybe I should qualify that with a "potential" bird dog.

This black Lab pup, we aptly named Augie for where he comes from in Ohio, near the Auglaize River, has the right DNA for the job. Both of his parents are certified Master Hunters.

He is still very young but I don't care. Even if he is barely 4 months old by the time the popples are turning yellow, I'm going to have Augie in tow.

Man, I sure missed bird hunting. But what more is I missed having a bird dog that knew what was up. Hopefully I can knock one down over him so he can get a snort of timberdoodle scent and put one and one together.

And then I'll be the most giddy bird hunter in the Midwest.

Augie the doggie, my newest companion for the woods
looks anything 'but' a tenacious gun dog. I guess it's
going to be awhile before we find out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doom and gloom for 2014-15? Hardly

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

After Sunday night's (Aug. 17) blog entry, I wanted to assure readers that the death knell of Mac's Hunting Mag will in no way define the upcoming season here at Rockin' Outdoor Adventures with Mac Arnold.

There aren't any big ticket endeavors planned for this late summer or fall, such as the long-coveted Maine moose hunt or the much fun-packed Upper Peninsula, Mich. bear hunt. Nor, as I learned via email Tuesday, Aug. 19, was I drawn for the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge's deer hunt in Saginaw County, Mich. Another potential high-profile gig, although I've never seen anything substantial buckwise running across the fed's dedicated swamplands.

But we here at ROA plan to entertain as always.

The first exciting hunt coming down the barrel could be as soon as Sept. 1, with the nuisance goose season.

This isn't any joke here, but I might be living in Monroe County, Mich., a few hundred yards from one of the best goose spots I've been availed to ... ever.

It could be a one-and-done situation being it's close to residential areas but don't get me wrong, I have the legal distance of 450 feet from homes and buildings, it's just that the blam-o-rama could cause an uproar.

Trust me, I'm doing my homework for it.

But if I drop one of these noisy down-feathered B-52s, it could just keep me tickled for the remainder of autumn.

It's been a few years since I've shot a goose.

Then, of course, let festivities begin Sept. 15 with Michigan's fall turkey season at the Thumb camp. There should be the usual many candidates milling through the property's southwest oak flats and 40,000 some allotted tags to fill. Oh, boy!

I've also promised a special someone I would take her down the River Raisin for a late summer bass outing. Fish on! in so many ways with that one.

These lead into the granddaddy of them all Oct. 1: deer archery.

But that one is a blog entry all in itself, so stay tuned.

Monday, August 18, 2014

End of an era

Mac's Hunting Mag as it looked at the end. 
By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

With little fanfare, Mac's Hunting Mag is no more.

In its infancy, the publication was exciting and inspiring for this veteran journalist who wanted to explore the realm of outdoor writing.

The vision for this work came during one of my many return trips from West Virginia eight years ago, and was sparked by bitterness and a feeling of not being appreciated at where I worked.

As often is the case in the 12-step group that I'm a member, a new meeting's path is blazed with a resentment and a coffee pot.

Many thanks go out to longtime collaborator and Web master Michael Huggler, who had his own motivation for being involved in Mac's Hunting Mag.

Mike came from stock who had hunting lines on both sides of his family -- and although he personally did not pursue wild game -- this gave him some semblance to show his hunting enthusiastic in-laws he belonged. It also gave him a way to improve his online media skills.

But as is the case with many men these days, the mag became cumbersome and tough to juggle in between family and busy careers for the both of us.

For me, it was much easier to work with an already provided blog format where I could come up with an idea to write about and then simply crank it out.

The former mag Web master was blessed with a new opportunity and moves on to greener pastures.

We at Rockin' Outdoor Adventures with Mac salute Mike and wish him the best of luck.

And so, the sun has set on Mac's Hunting Mag.

Monday, July 28, 2014

This little pond

ROA Photo by Mac Arnold
As usual, the big boys hit best at dark.

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

When you have an ancient Chinese secret fishing spot, it's best to keep it that way.

I'm not sure how long the gods will let it stay that way but I won't be the one with loose lips.

Anyway, it's close to the new house in Monroe County, Mich., and one that can be quickly accessed with the quad, which makes it doubly nice. (As I've said previously on this blog: I'm down with any gig that includes the four-wheeler.)

And so was the 5-year-old grandson Caiden.

"This is awwwwwwwwwwwwesome!!!!" he called out from behind me as we zoomed back to the house on the Suzuki.

Yes, it was, despite me desperately wanting to land a nice fish for him to put his hands on. But I lost the lunker as it flopped out of the water, came off and splashed back into the shallows.


This pond has salvaged a great summer for fishing even though I've been moving boxes daily under the hot sun for the last two weeks and only able to go down on the River Raisin once in the canoe ... in the rain even.

Life can be full of surprises. And it's the thing that is perfect for a 50-year-old geezer like myself because it's so convenient.

Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Off into the turkey sunset

ROA photo by Mac Arnold
In my element with the 'right' gun.

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

Can't believe it's June already. Where did the year go?

But it's summer, or at least close to being summer.

A summer though without a spring gobbler. Yep, that's right. I'm turkey-less.



I can say I went for it at the end much like the old days. Rolling along with little to no sleep despite pulling my eight hours at the grind.

The key for sure is I learned a few things. Most importantly, that in fact through my diligence in the Arnold weight room, I can heft the old trusty 12 gauge into the turkey woods, surgically repaired shoulders and all.

And I believe had I known this at the start of the spring gobbler season, the start of this piece would have started out much differently.

Those toms I was waiting on just outside the red zone with the youth H&R 20 gauge on May 6 instead would have likely succumbed to a hail of Hevi-Shot No. 5s.

But alas, it didn't happen that way. I held off because I needed a few more yards.

They slipped off into the woods to live and breed another day.

So with the season winding down, I decided I couldn't let an opportunity like that one pass again.

Out into the woods came the Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag 12 gauge. It was amazing what a lift it did for the confidence. This longtime tool of the trade easily reaches out 50 yards and beyond.

Thing is, the turkeys seemed to get smarter and smarter with each hunt. On the last day, Saturday, May 31, despite a couple closing the yardage a few times after the morning fly down, they eventually turned and headed in the opposite direction.

By 7:30 a.m., it was pretty evident the old boys were enjoying themselves in the east field a few hundred yards away and could care less for my blind date croonings.

And at 9-ish, the jig was completely up when a text came in from the property owner saying my truck was blocking the farmer's tractor from getting in to do his plowing.

Later, for my entertainment, the competing hunter at the camp was incredulous at the tractor invasion.

In a text he sent long after I had already left, he said, "Great day to turkey (hunt) if the tractors weren't running ---!"

Ahhhhh, guess it wasn't a bad ending to the season after all.


Another element adding much fun and a relaxing break to the arduous final days of turkey was a May 30 Lake Erie walleye gig with Capt. Ron Levitan of R&D SportFishing Charters out of the Toledo Beach Marina in La Salle, Mich.  

Once again, under tough conditions of bluebird skies and little to no chop on the water, Capt. Ron worked enough magic so we just barely missed each getting our limits of tasty walleyes.

Along with longtime friends Walt Lucken III and T.J. Prisciandaro, the weather and timing of this trip made for a perfect day.

So maybe I don't have a couple turkey breasts in the freezer, big deal, but I do have some righteous wallie filets.

Mmmmmmmm. Eat up!

ROA photo by T.J. Prisciandaro
Yeah, I'm stoked after catching this
Lake Erie walleye on R&D Sport-
Fishing Charters in La Salle, Mich.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Turkeys hold off

ROA photo by Mac Arnold
Waiting for turkey action on May 7.  
By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

I'm fresh off of my four-day spring turkey hiatus and was foiled in hoisting a bagged long-beard over my shoulder.

It was definitely the best chance of the season I will have at scoring a tom albeit I will hopefully have at least one, maybe two, more shots at it.

Regardless, on two of the four days, I had pretty good action. Even called in a couple of birds on two occasions but on the opener, Monday, May 5, they were a smidge out of range. Not by much. With the gun I use -- an H&R 20 gauge that has a fixed modified choke -- 35 yards out is just stretching it out too much. I've been in the turkey woods enough to know that I just didn't have the range I wanted. They even inched over some but still, the red light never went on.

Oh, but what fun. For at least an hour or more I had those two boys and maybe even a couple more gobbling their heads off all around my setup. I think they've been educated some, maybe even shot at, and they held off.

Sometimes that happens.

Then the next two days it wasn't the birds so much as it was the weather, which was lousy.

Cold and damp on Tuesday, May 6, and then it just poured all morning Wednesday, May 7. But I thought to myself, Hey, I'm on vacation so I should take this as an opportunity to rest and I did -- with a solid three-hour nap in the truck. The truck has always been good for this. I fit perfectly across the bench seats.

However, the truck and its two-wheel drive did have issues -- one of which required George the camp CO to drive all the way out from Macomb County, Mich., to the Sanilac County camp to pull me off the "ice" mud. On the second occasion, which could have been worse because I needed to be back at the house, turned out OK in the end because a neighboring farmer pulled me out with the tractor.

All of the melted snow from the past winter along with the typical spring rain has turned the drive into the camp's center an at your own risk adventure. Eventually all parking was restricted to just inside the gate ... and I STILL got stuck.

But back to the hunting, which on the final day, Thursday, May 8, was surprisingly good. Why I say it like that is because I only had a limited time to hunt: an hour or so after sunrise. Right off the roost I had responses but once they hit the ground it seemed as if they were gobbling from way out -- too far to work in that time span.

Around 7 a.m. though boom, "goooooooooooobbble," rang out straight east from me within the 100-yard range.

After another half hour, he was out in front of me yet hung up just on the other side of the thick brush that bordered the field setup I had in store for him, complete with a decoy.

And that's how it ended. He never came in.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

More spring fishing

ROA photo by Mac Arnold
Casting at the Flat Rock, Mich., fish ladder was
a great way to blow off steam on a Friday night.

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

As the time winds down to Michigan's spring gobbler opener, I seem to keep finding ways to get outdoors on the water in some capacity.

The latest excursion was Friday, April 18, along the Huron River in Flat Rock, Mich.

Mainly, it was a quick-hitter to scope out another potential spot to add to my repertoire.

In the 10 minutes I was there, I had no takers for my setup, which I tossed to the center of the ladder runoff and floated down with a bobber to keep the spawn bag above the crags and rocks below the surface. I noted that the other anglers were concentrating on putting their baits down under the rough waters. With the limited time I had before my planned Friday night spiritual meeting, I knew I didn't want to be dealing with a snag since I would be limited in how many casts I could make before departing.

Someone closer to the ladder in fact did catch what looked to be a small trout but he kicked it off.

I can definitely see this as a relaxing gig for later on this summer with my lady, with one of the top drawing points being there is a Dairy Queen less than a 100 yards away on the corner from the prime angling spots.

Now that's living.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Not too active

By Mac Arnold
ROA photos by Mac Arnold
Staying somewhat out of the wind April 4
coyote hunting in Sanilac County, Mich.
ROA Editor

I make no apologies for not being very active in the great outdoors after deer season.

There is often a lull for this aging gobbler and whitetail hunting practitioner between fall's "90 days of insanity" and when spring turkey season opens in May.

Although in some past years, I have pursued coyotes with vigor. But again, 2014 wasn't one of those years.

The same holds true for ice fishing. However, I think the future will hold big things for me next year on the frozen waters of Lake Erie now that I live hardly more than 10 minutes away from its shores.

I did get out -- barely -- for an evening coyote gig this past weekend for an hour. I must admit it felt great. Unfortunately I could only put in a decent hour on stand, mainly because I went against a known travel route and tried another, with that one being I-75 all the way to M-59, rather than the trusted I-94 route to Wadhams Road. Plus, it was rush hour in Detroit. So a one-way 1½ hour road trip was nearly doubled. But regardless, I wanted to put in a solid hour as darkness approached until closing time, and I did. I saw it as a vindication of sorts after kicking my ass for most of the way from M-59 on until I got to the Sanilac County, Mich., hunting camp.

Once there, with little time to spare, I threw on the scent-free clothing and dashed out to the southeast corner of the property to watch the wooded corridor along the property line. My strategy was to put out deer scent and make distressed fawn calls, which I've seen work quite well on predators. But, alas, Friday, April 4, wasn't one of those times.

What amazed me the most, since I've touted being cold-weather lightweight this winter and others, is how long I made it on stand with the winds blowing most of the time between 10 to 20 mph from southeast and temperatures dropping through the 40s to high 30s. I was only layered in the old standby cotton turtleneck I usually wear during turkey season and still managed to go until dark. But likely it would have been a different story had the hunt called for more than an hour on stand.

With coyote season ending Tuesday, April 15, that probably will be it for me huntingwise until the glorious spring turkey season opens, which for me is May 5 -- the second half of Michigan's two-part private land hunt.

I have no doubt this will be the best one of the two the way everything this spring is close to a month behind. The first one kicks off April 21 and I'm wondering if the birds even will be split off from their bachelor groups, let alone gobbling.

The moon rise over the Huron River in Monroe
County, Mich., added some visual element to the
April 11 steelhead fishing.

Another long-time annual outing in spring for me is the steelhead run, where I long to relive an amazing catch of a 13-pounder I had off a pier on Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, in the late 1980s. It's been quite some time since that awesome day with many spring trout tries ending in goose-eggs. Some of which have extended as far as the Tippy Dam in Manistee County, Michigan. But mostly they are no-frills ones around southeast Michigan. And this was the case this past weekend as Walt Lucken III and I went on a recon for a spot along the Huron River near the Monroe-Wayne County line.    

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for sitting along the bank. A few wispy clouds hung overhead but for the most part we had bluebird skies and later an early moon rise. 

There have been reports of steelhead heading up the river but for the most part this gig Friday, April 11, was a recon and a couple of canoe runs were plotted out for later in the summer.  

And even though no hits were had by either of us, I liked the various structures I saw heading all the way down to where the river opens up into Lake Erie.

It won't be long and it will be trial and error rather than mere observation.

Monday, February 17, 2014

You got me

If this looks like it was cold, trust me, it was. We ended up ice fishing on Lake Erie Saturday, Feb. 15, for nearly three hours. We didn't get any hits, nor fish, but everyone that passed us hadn't caught anything either.

ROA Photo By Walter Lucken III

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

Despite not having much interest in ice fishing this winter, I was finally talked into it Saturday, Feb. 15.

I kept a close eye on the weather reports just to make sure the weather wouldn't be like taking a walk on Mars.

It appeared all systems go the night before as temperatures were being predicted to top out in the mid-20s.

But you all know that wouldn't stick. And sure enough, Walt Lucken III of Dansville, Mich., my fishing partner for the day's festivities informed me over the phone at 11 a.m. that "maybe we should just get some coffee and make it a recon."


"Yeah, it's supposed to barely get out of  the teens," he warned.

Seems like whenever I get together with Walt on a late season gig that one way or another it has to be a frozen tundra or arctic experience.

However, by this time, I was motivated and decided I wanted to go even if it wasn't more than an hour.

So we continued with the plan to check out Brest Bay on Lake Erie a mere 10 minutes from my Monroe, Mich., trailer.

We located the parking lot and where the nearest bait shop was. Additionally we discovered many shanties out on the horizon. They were dotted along the deeper water beyond "the point," and most if not all, had modes of transportation to get out there on snowmobiles or four-wheelers. One angler cruised past us on snowshoes complete with poles and a sled for his gear attached to his back by a harness. A nice way to get your exercise before your fish and chips.

Too bad my quad has been on ice for the winter. I think for next season that won't be the case.

And even though we didn't get nary a bite, let alone a fish, I liked what I saw. In fact, I'm planning on hitting the ice again this week.

Good recon, indeed.