Saturday, September 16, 2017

What happened ... where we're at now

By Mac Arnold

So much time has gone on since my last post has been logged.

So many things have changed but I'm still here.

RTWO photo by Bill Brisebois
One of the better fish caught during our bass
challenge in July on the River Raisin. 

And yet blink, it's now the middle of the early goose season in Michigan with one already knocked down and cut up for the table.

Plus the small game and fall turkey seasons are now in full swing as of this Sept. 16 date that I write and detail what has gone on in my professional life and hunting and fishing adventures.

I will hold close to the vest on the professional life part because of agents of doom that still haunt my life and would love to hurt me, but will fully tell all of what's gone on in my triumphs in the Michigan killing fields and its magnificent bass waters.

Some of which I will have to play catch up as I get back to writing on this blog.

The latest success was a folly much like any "Rockin' The Wild Outdoors With Mac" follower would appreciate and laugh along with me at the silliness of it all.

For one, this goose rose up from the dead in our blind after I successfully brought it down Sept. 3. After much drama of hissing and clomping of its bill it was tamed. The best part of this harvest was how after three years, Augustus the bred-for-waterfowl-backwaters black Lab also rose up.

First with the initial take down, because it was mostly a wing shot. And as many bird hunters can attest, catching up with a bird such as a wounded goose by mere mortal man can be quite trying through the thick bog grasses. Enter the four-legged partner and that effort is cut in half.

Thinking after that episode it was at last dispatched, up it sprung a half hour later, stunning both of us as it tried another vain attempt at evasion but the black Lab was on his best duty.

As a doggie parent and a hunting commander, I was quite pleased.


With regard to the spring turkey season and summer bass action, both were decent.

RTWO Photo by Mac Arnold
As you can see from the final product, this 
bird wasn't bad but he wasn't the big boy.
I was left at summer's end still looking for that elusive monster smallie but one the better ones was caught during a friendly challenge with longtime childhood chum Bill Brisebois, who was able to click off a nice picture for me. It came off the favorite angling waters of the River Raisin in mid-July. The surprising part was the time of day it was -- midafternoon at about 2:30 p.m. (usually my least favorite time on the water). There may be another gig for fall, and I promise I will do a better a job of recording how the day ends up.

Spring turkey this May was another amazing experience at Dairy Farmer Dave's in the Thumb. For the second straight spring I was able to bag a long beard, but as is usually the case with the Gobbler Man, the giant of the bunch was the last to appear and it was not the one taken. I did have to act a bit hasty being the first shot with the H&R 20 gauge missed its mark and the bachelor brood was alerted to impending danger. This meant I had to make do with the dummy in front of me who was still very nice indeed with a 9 1/2-inch beard. But his pal that stepped out after the bird was dropped had my jaw hangin'.

As we know from previous birds shot at Dave's, the beards and poundage can go much bigger. It would be nice to make it out for fall turkey but with the new occupation now added into the mix it'll be tougher to take on all the prey. In fact, I thought I might be lucky to only get out once or twice for goose season. So far though it seems that isn't necessarily the case. Plus I have a client calling for goose breasts ... go figure. 


So what's on the horizon for fall here at RTWO? Next up toward the end of this month there could quite possibly be an Upper Peninsula bear hunt accompanied with some bird hunting since Augustus will be tagging along for the trip. 

Another part of the trip could include some baaaaaaaaaaaaaass fishing if I can rent a canoe or a boat on Manistique Lake, which I have heard has some awesome bass action.

Of course after this it'll all be King Deer Hunting once Oct. 1 hits and the archery season begins full throttle.

Look for follows at RTWO, I promise to post more vigilantly and let you in on the action. Promise.


Here are a couple of videos from the summer bass fishing outing with Bill. You can observe the candor of two old dudes who have been friends since they were 7.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Season wrap-up: Top hunts of 2016

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

After nearly four months of insanity and mostly frustration, Michigan's white-tailed deer season will come to close Jan. 1.

Yes, sadly, and maybe with relief, when the sun dips below the horizon this chilly winter evening that is going to be it until mid-September.

The weapon of choice for this hunt by this worn, gray-bearded hunter will be a crossbow -- the same one as when the season began Sept. 17 for early antlerless deer.

There was some debate as to whether to go out instead with the freezer-packer -- the 12-gauge Mossberg slug gun -- but what if a decent buck chooses to come into range? So with that, the Parker crossbow made the grade, or at least we hope it does.

But most likely that is not to happen as few ... well, one antlered deer was seen on the hoof this past season, and it was hardly a nice buck. It was very much so a yearling buck, possibly a six-point, and if seen tonight it will be left alone to roam until next season.

So it is with this season wrap-up combined with a Top Hunts of 2016 post we hold promise for the new year with the knowledge that Michigan's lottery opens for Spring Gobbler from Jan. 1-Feb.1.

Goodbye 2016.

Starting in order from bottom to top:

No. 3: CAIDEN STAYS IN THE STAND -- It was all talk for most of the late November deer season with the 7-year-old grandson until we were to climb into the blind for that evening's hunt at the Sanilac County, Michigan camp. Once the young man got to the top of the ladder and a mere step inside the wooden enclosure, that was it. He was having nothing to do with it. "Whoaaaa, I'm coming down, Mac." Guess heights aren't his forte. But that's not how it ended. After a stern talk of "oh, no, you're a staying," from his Papa Mac, the hunt went on until dark. No deer came in to look over but some knowledge was passed on, and he learned how to use the grunt call ... um, ad nauseam.

RTWO Photo by Mac Arnold
While not everything might have gone to plan this
hunting season, we did bag our first mallard drake. 
And for being a part-time waterfowler, it was a
big deal. Augustus shows his approval.
No. 2: GOOSE FROM SEAT OF MY PANTS -- By early December, with the cupboards bare from few opportunities not only in the deer woods but along the duck pond, expectations were low as Augie and myself took point just outside the Monroe County, Michigan pothole. Despite the timing being right as many -- if not hundreds of ducks and geese -- picked up from their comfy confines inside the madly swaying cattails. The wind was howling on this day, but the only problem was our setup, which was back too far for a good shot. After a move to the edge of the pond, up went three mallards and once the Browning reported, one went down, which was my first-ever bagged mallard drake. A short time after that, a small flock of geese swirled overhead. While the others were wise to the nonsense behind the bush, one dipped in for a closer look despite the discombobulated hunter being twisted around to his backside in an effort to get a shot. So while practically lying down, with the first shot missing, the second shot rang true and down rained a goose.

No. 1: DAIRY FARMER DAVE'S PAYS OFF AGAIN -- The top hunt of 2016 was actually months ago on the very last day of May. Spring gobbler took me to three different states that provided a handful of decent opportunities but none of which that ended in a bagged tom. After mulling how to get the job done with the season down to its last days and securing a return invite from the Sanilac County dairy farmer, there I was back along the famous woodline where I shot my best-ever gobbler in 2010. Despite being late to the best place to sit for this hunt, the bunch of four or five birds that sounded off as I walked in eventually appeared with two nice toms in tow. Yet, not everything went as planned because the 1993 Mossberg Ulti-Mag did its occasional misfire gag not once but twice. That was enough for the wily big boys to say "uh-uh" to that and start turning around but not before one was dropped on the third attempt. It had a nine-inch beard and was pretty heavy, probably 20 pounds or better.