Friday, August 21, 2015

A little caution can go a long way

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

As the hunting seasons creep closer and closer while the month of August wanes and sought-after tags reveal what hunts will be reality, I stumbled (for real) across a few items for the note board:

-- With it being summer, I'm fairly busy, and it's not often I get confined to the indoors and have a chance to watch the rundown of shows on the Outdoor Channel.

But with an upcoming ... (ahem) procedure, I was stuck to staying close to the bathroom while the appropriate elixirs were working their magic at cleaning out my pipes. Oh, so much fun.

Yet while watching these TV personalities, as I will call them not experts despite their accomplishments dwarfing anything I've yet to do, they confirmed a couple of Mac truthisms.

One of the first I heard was from the old Buckmaster himself, Jackie Bushman, who was talking with the Primos' boys -- Chris Ashley and Kevin Meachem -- that when it comes to hunting mornings on the full-moon "I just sleep in."

From what I've experienced despite what all the game finders always say is slow action.

Instead on the show, they went out midday and had pretty good movement.

-- Then next up on the "Crush" host Lee Lakosky mentioned the "October lull" while wondering where a few nice bucks were that he had pictured from his trail cam. (And it's crazy these days the technology on these things nowadays. Images on the camera at the tree. Right to the computer or phone? Video? It's unbelievable.)

I've noticed this same phenomena here in Michigan after the initial action once the season opens Oct. 1. By midmonth it's like, "Where they go?" And he said it doesn't pick up and "get good again until Oct. 26 or 28."

RTWO photo by Mac Arnold

Augustus helped me post signs in the 
woods. He loves the four-wheeler.
That last week in October has been decent to me as well. In fact, I often take days off to accommodate this promising time.

-- And lastly, I will wrap it up by offering a safety conscious tip based on what happened to me Thursday afternoon while putting up my own trail camera. Which I should have probably put off a day or two since I've had to fast for a day and a half. I was somewhat off-kilter. But that's not how I roll.

I figured since I have a few trespassers, or travelers because up to now the woods I hunt has only been somewhat posted, I would get this cam in the air and angled down. Just so if it does look tempting, the scoundrel will have to work for his ill-gotten prize.

Well, I had the tree steps in place, and I reached for the first step from on top of the quad.

Guess what? Yep, that seemingly sturdy limb came off like it was attached by scotch tape. Down I went but luckily my ninja catlike skills allowed me to land feet first.

The lesson here is to not be in too much of a hurry -- which is the story of my life -- and test branches for firmness BEFORE attempting to use them while climbing trees.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

More reality and nice bass, finally

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

A third deer in the "target" area in the middle of Michigan tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to a Aug. 6 news release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Strangely as I get more into the thought of the upcoming hunting seasons, bad news just turns me back around.

OK, maybe not that much, because seeing the honkers starting to flock up by the pond behind the Monroe County house, along with having a full-on credentialed black Labrador old enough to step up has me practically walking on air.

Yes, the early bird seasons should be good, to include the fall turkey season in an area I really didn't expect to pull a tag. It'll just be another option for a place to walk around with my sidekick Augustus. The more time he gets in the woods, the better he'll get.

For those of you who didn't draw a turkey tag but still would like one, the leftovers are available today for unsuccessful applicants and then Monday, Aug. 24, all hunters can buy licenses until the quotas are met.

And believe me there are always plenty to go around in Unit YY, upwards of 40,000 each of the last three years.

There are those hunters who thrive mainly on the whitetail, but if there is a collapse of the season because of CWD -- which probably won't be the case -- yet if it did, I would still have a good time.

I like to diversify my challenges in autumn's golden backdrop and mix several game bird seasons in with the king that is the quest for a large antlered deer.

But most regular readers of this site know this and can count on getting excerpts from following all of these different travels.


Those endeavors include the river challenges and bass conquests, as well, which up to Tuesday, July 28, hadn't proved eventful.

Oh, sure I hauled in a few dinks from the backyard pond ... and then there was epic canoe dumping in the River Raisin with Bill Brisebois on July 11, but no fatboys. I was wondering if I had lost my bass finesse.

So with the river still running high I thought I could find another way around the swift currents to get at those majestic smallies I know the Raisin holds.

RTWO photo by Mac Arnold

No surprise: Chartreuse with pepper flake Senkos

were the hot bait on River Raisin in midsummer.
I wouldn't say I outsmarted the river because as the hero of the 1972 film "Deliverance" Lewis Medlock was quoted as saying, "you don't beat this river; you don't beat it."

OK, that was a different river.

But maybe just maybe I stole some glory back from it for a moment on that humid midmorning at the end of July.

On a hunch I paddled out to the rocky wall at the other end of the river where it widens before going out into a harbor of Lake Erie and slammed an 18-incher smallmouth on a buzz bait.

Man did it feel good to hoist that baby. 

Finally. But I wasn't done. Oh no. Soon there was another one about 16 inches and a nice largemouth to go with them.

And then as fast as it turned on in that half-hour window it was over. The Seaguar flurocarbon line that I was told by the Cabela's salesman was top notch started blowing up on the reel. In fact, not only repeatedly going into bird's nest city but also snapping off lures during casts. (Trust me, never again. Went back to Cabela's and picked up my long-trusted monofilament, Stren, in clear 10-pound test.)

The silver and white-tasseled buzzes worked their magic until they sunk to the depths of the mighty Raisin.

But at least I lifted my bassing confidence.

I'm not done just yet. I can see at least one, if not two, more bass gigs before I stow the canoe for winter. Especially in September when the leaves are changing. What a great time to be on the water.


UPDATE: Last night, Scott Watson, an old Little League and high school alum, joined me in an impromptu bass fishing gig at the pond.

The evening action was good yet I'm still in the process of getting the rigs set up again after putting three poles in the drink in July.

We both lost nice fish.

Scott said he saw the one that came off my line, and stuck a dagger in me by saying it "was a real monster."

I know it was because the fish used the preferred Houdini tactic of big bass everywhere by jumping out of the water and shaking off the lure.

This resulted in a skunked night.

I blame the new pole I was using -- a Berkeley -- which likely would be fine other than its medium action specification seems more "medium" than most.

The fish really bent the rod down and allowed it too much give, which will result in bass-fishing failure.

That's right, failure, I said.

But it was a fun time having dinner with our wives beforehand and then watching a fight on TV with dessert after the fishing.

Oh the ones that got away will haunt you if you let them.