Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve

Making the time to post a 2013 retrospective has been a larger challenge than anticipated.  As a result, that task will have to wait until the weekend, which will likely keep me indoors, unless the mercury climbs to 10 or 11 degrees above zero, in which case I'll go fishing.
Meanwhile, the constant below zero weather is beginning to grate a bit. Cabin fever anyone? This early in the year? This could get interesting, while I'm dreaming of warmer times.
Hoping your new year is a beauty.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seasonal Schizophrenia

                                                               December 17, 2013
                                                                    July 17, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

4:37 pm
-10 degrees
wind calm
             The Little Spirit Moon rises over a winter evening that is already too long and deep

Friday, December 6, 2013

Owooooooooo !!

Minus 22 degrees
Wind chill minus fifyfuckingsomething
14 inches new snow over 6 inches new ice portends slushy conditions
Panfish safe for a while yet
Terrifically happy not to be a dog today
Z-boy light one pair of testicles yesterday.

Friday, November 22, 2013


10:50 pm
one degree farenheit
minus thirteen windchill
the dogs and I walk in the woods under the waning moon
huge Orion watches our frozen breath

ice crystals sparkle in the headlamp glow
fallen leaves crunch underfoot
shoulders hunched against the penetrating cold
we amble back to the cozy house

birch logs crackle in the flickering fireplace
the canines seem impervious to it all
I am not ready yet

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

question #7852.3

Duck season has closed for the year, and with it another iteration of the same old tired question, "How the hell could something so great and magical have turned to crap !!?"  Over the span of the last 53 years (yes I'm an old fart) the game has changed so radically that it is completely unrecognizable. At least that is the case around my old stomping grounds.

In those golden olden days of the 1960's and 70's when I was a kid and then a young adult, I hunted mostly with my old man and uncles, who were about as avid as it gets.  Those guys were rabid about killing ducks, hunting every weekend of the season - legendary for the amount of lead they ran out the ends of their shotguns. I had a couple of high school chums who liked the blood sports as much as I did, and we emulated those guys. We strove to be even greater killers than our fathers. Limits of ducks were expected and indeed the norm. Anything less was considered a failure, primarily related to poor shooting skills or that "the flight isn't really quite in yet".

There was considerable effort applied to getting out and after the ducks, of course. Boats, decoys, blinds, hundreds of rounds of handloads, and sundry gear were constantly in the flux of the packing and unpacking mode. But we didn't have dogs or camouflage clothing or specialized guns for three inch and longer shells or internet, up to the minute location/migration reports or spinning winged decoys or any of the myriad consumer/capitalist junk available to today's hunter.

I remember fondly sitting on the patio behind my parents house with Brother Fife one October afternoon, plucking, waxing, gutting, and wrapping 48 lesser scaup - a four man legal limit of bonus bluebills. We had brought my portable record player outside and were spinning "In-a-gadda-da-vida" over and over, breaking our cleaning chore for the drum solo each time it came around. Iron Butterfly - those were the days.

I think we probably took it for granted that if we went to a place of decent habitat during the open season we were going to blast a bunch of ducks.  The only real issue was competition from a few other hunters for the best spots.  But even the secondary spots produced good shooting - or the other guys would leave upon getting their limit, and then you could have the best spot!

In 2011 I killed one duck, last year six, and this year three. Zip.................Beep....................

It all started to go down the shitter in the 80's and there is much to consider about what happened and why. But of course I'm not inclined to think that much can be done to reverse course - I am nothing, if not a bleak curmudgeon. I stopped giving full effort to the game twenty years ago, after too many outings with nary a trigger pull.  Deep inside though, I wasn't really into the killing. Rather, I loved watching the pitch and roll of the birds dropping from the heights, the tornado flocks of northern mallards, the jostling of big fast flocks of bluebills, trying to avoid bumping into each other as they buzzed the decoys - and the sky ripping rush of air that only northern ringnecks can create!

There used to be birds in the sky over northern Minnesota in the fall. To watch and to shoot.
Now rare, watching the flight is still magical.
But it's pretty damned hard to find!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

One last chance

You go this way and they go that way
Tomorrow at sunset we go our separate ways for another year
Good luck, all

Monday, November 11, 2013

like a lion

nine degrees this morning
making ice fast
hardy bluebill raft bobs and dives into the wintery waves
last day of paddling for this old dude
yesterday's whitetailed adventures hang now as carcasses
in the barn
frozen stiff

Sunday, November 10, 2013

An unintended result

I had intended to hunt the ridge above the lake on the opening morning of deer season. A line of scrapes had led me to think that there might be some action up high, where the view is good. The weather did not cooperate however, bringing hard and gusting winds from the northwest, exactly the wrong direction for any chance of concealment along that narrow spine of land. So I sat instead under a low hill about a mile east of the ridge, jack pine and aspen clunking and cracking in the cold morning wind. A doe and her fawn briefly showed on the trail, but soon disappeared before any chance for a shot was presented. The hunt was over for the day in less than two hours, the wind too fierce for much movement.

Sunday morning dawned calm, with a change in forcast wind direction - south east would do. The low hill again produced nothing , so at mid morning I took a hike up to the ridge above the lake. Halfway in, a yearling doe trotted up the hill about 75 yards ahead. Close behind was its twin.

The rifle shot did not seem loud, nor the recoil heavy, but the yearling doe dropped like a stone at the report. I walked forward. Both deer lay in the middle of the trail on the ridge above the lake. I watched as the life poured out of them. Red stains on the forest floor and steaming breath into the morning air. An ear twitch, the shake of a head, then a  couple of rear leg kicks. Several minutes passed before the last movement stopped. I watched. Three or four very long minutes. Standing closely in the presence of death.

There was no laughter, no high five, no cheering nor congratulation, only the sound of the freshening wind in the birch tops and the hooting of the tundra swans as they pushed south through the pale November sky.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hot Bite

I had thought the old storage shed was sort of mouse proofed. Right - sort of mouse proofed - so OK, I'm an idiot.
After completeing a few more proofing measures, the trap line was set - one peanut butter baited Victor on each end of the 10x12 catch all. Off I went to the next item of bussiness only to return in less than a minute to retrieve the work gloves that I had left behind. There, a fresh mouse in trap A, still in its death throws! I reset the trap and headed out the door. Two minutes later and I'm back for another item from the shed and Bingo! - there's another mouse in trap A!   This bait, set, leave, and return routine repeated itself with a catch in each trap - mostly doubles - for about a half hour and then it was over, done, quiet. I got ten.

It was kind of like a hot crappie bite through the ice - barely keeping both lines baited during the flurry - and then nothing. Not another deer mouse has bitten the dust in four days, so perhaps the shed is sort of mouse proofed for now. Right.................. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Very Tweedy

I used to do a lot of this - the old road hunt ground pound.
Ranks right up there with sight fishing for spawning steelhead.
"Awesome Zeke, you Arkansawed that one real good!"

These days it's about dogs and doubles and counting flushes
But the leaves will fall soon and then there will be feathers on the forest floor.
"I say Reginald, capitol good shot that!"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Casually we participated

 There was no urgency to the opening outing. Rather, just a time to watch a new pup experience a new day. It is enough to enjoy that alone.  A few mouths full of ripe choke cherries and the smell of decaying leaves belies the density of the July thick woods.

It did rain to the tune of 1.25 inches on the opening day of grouse season. Largest one day total since June the sixth. We walked in the woods and did not carry a gun. No birds were flushed. Everyone got drenched and I found all the places where the new rain gear leaks - %&$#^@*!!!

The fungal fruits commence....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bit by bit........

        There is but a dash of red and orange sparsely laid upon the forest floor now.  Not nearly enough to open the woods for much of a chance at a flushed grouse tomorrow morning. But the youngster is eager as always and Zane has not yet heard the blast of a shotgun. So, we will have a walk in the forest tomorrow. Ever so slowly fall is arriving. One leaf at a time.

At five and a half months, Zane is a practiced hunter of frogs, moths, dragonflies, chipmunks and other micro game. His powers of finding dead stinky stuff on our walks are remarkable. Its time to put those skills to the test on something a bit larger.  Perhaps we will be lucky enough to bag a bird or two. See how he reacts.........retrieves.........rejects...............shreds!!!  Should be fun.
Supposed to rain much of the day, and we need it, so there may be only a short time in the woods for us to experience the pup's first hunt. Always more water and boat/canoe/kayak training to do at home anyway. So far, so good - we haven't tipped over yet.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tie this

    Waddling atop an overturned kayak
was spied an impossibly brilliant creature
who can it be, who will it be
I suppose a drab adult
a thing to tie for
much later in the year

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Five days in

September arrived on the crest of a calendar perfect cold front. Daytime highs in the sixties and seventies have replaced the tropical days of August.  Frost advisory tonight in the wolf country.
The dogs found a covey of grouse a couple of evenings ago on the daily walkabout and it seems that Zane may have figured out what his nose is for. Back on the same walk this afternoon and he nearly went on point, just as a big adult bird thundered out of the alders almost in his face. At five months, I have just begun to connect with him. I knew going into this that a Poodle is not a Labrador - right I was!

a.k.a        Zboy
                LC  (lamb chop)
                Mr. Bedlington
                Mr. Sands
                Hey You !!!
                Yea You !!!!!
                 Mr. Bedlington Sands

 Uncle Mike dropped by with a few goodies from the farm
 Apple pie and Crap-pie!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Snipets from month eight

Punching the clock watching August slide away.
Goodbye to you, least favorite month
Gear untouched in weeks
Fishes abandoned
Time wasted in air conditioned spaces
And upon cold beer
Photographs grabbed in passing
With no time allowed for savor

September, the hearald of change
Brings the urgency of autumnal activity
Thirty days from today
The forest will be as a kaleidoscope
Gardens will wane and young pups will live for the first time
In the old routine of hunter and quarry
The hunter dons wool with purpose
Burrs to catch on dog and man.

So goodbye hot days
Drought spells
Stinging hornets and other bloodsucking fly swattage.
goodbye summer number sixty-one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A walk on the prairie


Been thinkin' lately
too much, too deeply
about too many things "Enviromental"
Corn/Bean prices
Tiles and drains
Politics of course
Endangered species lists and successful failures, like...............
If you go extinct, well then I guess you're off the list

Last week one evening I took a stroll on the prairie with a close friend
His fortish acres of prairie/wetland complex restored by his hand
Reclaimed from Big Ag
Only one tenth of one percent of the real thing exists anymore in Minnesota
But prairie aint on the list

Nice to see and smell and feel a little slice though
it helps