Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Notes on the deer season past


It was all very different this year, mostly I suppose because it actually went down according to the plan. It started back in September when it was resolved that the majority of time would be devoted to sitting in a tree stand. Stalking has been my hunt mode in the past, mostly I suppose due to an inability to sit still for very long and a desire to be safely on the ground. Due also to a desire for the family - younger brother, in-laws and kids to be successful - they sit in the trees. Sometimes I push. Mostly I facilitate. It was all very different this year.

The crew was a bit smaller. Just the brother, one brother-in-law, and one nephew. They could all fit nicely at the farm, so the home place would be all mine. That prompted the thinking about doing things differently. 

A trip to the local Farm & Fleet during the pre-hunting season sale produced an 18 foot tall, double wide, powder coated, easy to assemble, easy to install, shooting railed, padded seated, sure enough sniper shit ladder stand. The assemble and install bit was not quite as advertised, but success was had none the less, if not in a very timely fashion. The contraption was erected roughly in the vicinity where several deer had been whacked by family members in years past. Scary tall at thirteen feet, the last ladder section wasn't used.  Camera traps indicated a goodly mess of does and fawns working the trails and as time moved closer to opening day the bucks began to make both night time and daytime appearances near the stand.  The double wide was in the right spot.

For the first time in my sporadic deer hunting experience, I was way too prepared. What could possibly go wrong?

In the tree in the dark, waiting for the dawn on the first morning, something light was flashing in the distance - not a light like a flash light or headlamp, but something lighter than the darkness.  Again and again it flashed. And then it flashed as it rapidly moved left to right through the woods and disappeared. OK. Sure. That was real? Not exactly spooky, but kind of weird.

The brain went back to my first ever deer hunt. Twelve years old, walking into the blackness of a trail that I had never been on with the Old Man.  "Sit here. When it gets light, if you see a deer shoot it. I'll be down the trail a couple hundred yards". And he was gone into the dark and I was very alone. Soon wolves began a long howling - the first I had ever heard - they sounded close - and I knew they had come for me! Scared shitless doesn't even begin to describe the terror. Of course neither deer nor wolves ever showed that morning, and the Old Man never left the kid alone in a dark forest again.

As the light improved over the next fifteen minutes, I figured that the flashing must be the flapping and flight of a barred owl that I had seen two days earlier while giving the dogs their evening run. So, no UFOs. No problem. Good to go.

Then the real dawn and two deer came slowly but steadily up the hill and close enough for a try.  They stopped behind a trio of oaks and then some minutes later disappeared as smoke.  It would be revealed later in the full light of the morning how they pulled that off. Half and hour later a spike buck came up the same trail and casually wandered around as I scoped him out and plotted his demise - but he walks - there is plenty of time. Then another spike an hour on. Different from the first, he has a wide and long pair of straight tines - looking sort of spike elkish - very cool he walks as well. I was feeling pretty fat and happy up in my tree but by now my feet were cold and I had to pee, but I couldn't immediately climb down because as I looked to my right there was another deer slowly making its way in my direction. This one moved differently from the others and was coming into the wind - not the preferred scenario. And of course, this was the one with real headgear.  The horns bobbed and weaved for what seemed a long time as he tried to figure whether to keep coming and get killed or to bug out - he decided the latter. Through the scope I saw a smallish eight pointer - if there were brow tines - a nice basket buck. But he was in the thick oak and hazel brush - not a good shot.  He walks.

Another four hours were spent in the tree over the remainder of the weekend and three more does were seen. Most of the weekend was devoted to splitting the birch and filling up the woodshed. And the family filled their tags out at the farm.

Friday was Veteran's Day and a holiday from the daily grinder. I got a late start and flushed a little fawn as I walked in towards the stand. About an hour passed and a big doe walked right on by at about thirty yards. This was the most golden opportunity so far and I scoped her out good.  My sector was hunter's choice this year, so she was meat to me - but I let her walk............what could go wrong ?  Saturday I figured I had blown the whole deal by passing on the doe, as I did not see any deer that day.

So Sunday dawned with confidence and feeling good vibes. About a half hour after dawn I was intensely looking left down the hill when I got the spidey sense. The tingle. The pull. That thing..................
As I turned my head slowly back to the right, there was a buck right there. Fifteen yards and walking fast with a stiff legged gait, he gave me no time to think or even get nervous. Boom!   ............  Loud like a cannon in the windless morning!

The buck lurched upward with a hunched leap and bounded down the hill. I had expected it to drop in its tracks, so had a moment of panic as I watched the second, third, fourth, fifth bound down the hill.  But then it faltered, changed directions, and ran headlong into a jack pine. Down. Flat. Done.

So, I guess it's true - deer don't look up - except for the opening day buck that came upwind, none of the deer that I saw made me.  And that was the big difference this year.

No brow tines

Then the work

Then a very late but excellent breakfast

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Madness in November

Sitting in my tree over the past weekend, I pondered on the potential dreaded outcome of the pending election that would occur but a day after my 64th birthday. How did we get to this place? Several of my oldest chums have become of the paranoid "they want to take my guns away" mindset. They truly believe that there is an organized government plot to ruin their lives, belief being the construct here - it saddens me that they have long since forgotten how to think. My life and theirs have gotten a hell of a lot better since we struggled with Nam and Nixon all those years ago, then worked both our collective and separate ways toward jobs and careers and families and now nearly retirement at the end of the long haul. Sure it's all been hard work, but we still sit in trees each November in hopes of bagging a deer, walk the trails for grouse, blast into the sunrise at diminished duck flights, work the dogs on the odd rooster and care less about answering [no] to 20 questions on a two minute background check. Reality does not suck, guys.
Three bucks walked past my stand that morning - all safe - I guess I was not really interested in pulling the trigger. Maybe next weekend.

So on Tuesday, my short little spit of time in the cosmic ocean clicked another digit on the rusting counter. The old chums predictably voted for lunacy and I have become............

A More Reluctant Member of the Species.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


When the grouse season opened a month ago, I rambled around the forest up at the cabin in the wolf country with all three dogs and no shotgun.  The idea was to see what the boys could find in the way of coveys and try to gauge what might be shoot-able later in the season. The condition of the forest was pretty much as if September and July were the same season. The dogs did their job, flushing what I can only assume were multiple birds. Being pretty hard of hearing anymore and not even being able to see the dogs at 20 feet into the brush, I just assumed there was a good crop of grouse to mess with later on down the line.  At one point there were four grouse in the trees craning downward watching all the canine mayhem beneath their safe perch and then two more flushes before I called the boys back to heel. Pretty hopeful, that.

Over the past weekend, I returned with the intention of hunting and picking cranberries. 
Much had changed. Most of the leaves were down and the woods had opened nicely.


Where in August there were oodles of green cranberries, I picked exactly nine. 9!
And with shotgun in hand exactly one grouse was encountered. One! Mysterious indeed.

But then...............

The sunset was killer, the whiskey in the glass was mellow, and  anytime in that wild place is great grand stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Too cool

Cold at last
Fifty-two for a high
Stiff north west winds pushing low grey scuds ahead
a chill conveyor moving the first true pulse of migrating raptors
Broadwings and sharpshins
redtails too
here a kestrel
there a merlin
everywhere masses of blue jays
to keep them fed
and loads of fledgling eagles
clumsy yet in this grand soaring autumnal air
Oh but to be among them in the brisk sky today
needing only to stretch out
and ride !

Friday, September 9, 2016


The big-toothed aspen are discarding the first few bits of color from the canopy, providing nutrition for fungi upon fungi, and the first colorful hints that the change in seasons is upon the land.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blazing Sky Woman

The western sky was going down all red and gold and purple
and I was going to be about two minutes late
if I didn't get off the highway and into
the little remote lake shore spot to catch
a sanpshot of sunset

I'd been on the road a while
heading home from the wolf country with
highbush cranberries and brook trout on board
needing a break

I wasn't out of the car ten seconds
when she came flying in behind me
skidding to a dusty stop on the gravel
bouncing out of the old beat car
striding right up close with smart phone in hand

me too, dude
had to catch this light
had to stretch
good spot
wow, dude"

She was about 19 or twenty
long black Indian hair
swirling around her face
in the fading glow of
the stiff evening breeze

pulling up her hoodie
she told me about going to Watersmeet in the U.P.
heading back from Bismark
long trip
How long's the drive, I asked
Don't know she shrugged
long trip though, eh

She asked a lot of questions about
places and spaces
between here and there
and said wow and cool and dude
a lot
she seemed to be formed of pure innocent bliss
I asked another question about time

And I think she knew then that
I was not an Indian
despite the long white hair and clean face
and standing alone on the shore
of a lake staring
into the radiance of the west
my voice and mode of speech did not possess
her lilt

Wow, dude, nice
gotta go
Wow, dude, cool

The old car made some awful noises
as she fired it back up
and lurched twice before
she blew off into the darkening east
"Be careful out there" I said after her dust

I didn't catch her name

Monday, August 22, 2016

Quick chicken recipe

One of my pals called me a mushroom junkie the other day. He could be on to something there, but I prefer the term fungal addict.

Here's a quick little dish of decadence then:

1 lb thin sliced chicken of the woods laetiporus, sulphureus
2 Tblsp olive oil
4 Tblsp butter
1 medium shallot
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
four or five fresh basil leaves
couple pinches coarse grated parmigiano cheese

melt half the butter in a heavy skillt with the olive oil
add the shallot, finely chopped and cook until translucent
add the fungi and cook for three minutes
add the second half of the butter and cook covered for three minutes
uncover, add the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated
add the heavy cream, cover and cook another three minutes
add the fresh chopped basil and the cheese
cover and cook one minute or until the cheese just begins to melt

You can plate this with seasoned toast, pasta, wild rice, or just eat it plain
Junkie stuff, indeed............

Friday, August 12, 2016

Good things from wetness II or Similar patterns of behavior

mushroom foraging is like fishing the spate
ephemerally pulsed
through a protracted season
the catch dictated by
the amount of water in the system

As children we learned to expect stocked rainbows
to be hiding under every rock
in the guts of the pools and the log jams especially
probing every pocket
with wriggling night crawlers
that still flexed their peristaltic muscles
as if again being captured
during the last night's flashlight raid
sometimes a brook trout
a native
a red meat fish
but always the limit once located

As an old timer I expect the black trumpets
to be emerging from every patch of moss
in the heart of the mixed hard wood forest and
the darkest gloams especially
scanning every piece of decaying ground
twice and more
sometime a bolete
an edilus
a king
occasionally a butt load if located 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


young bull sports his little hump

 thuggish buffalo he aspires to become

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ice out !

March 29, 2016
Daytime high: 65 F.
Earliest ice out in 24 springs here

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Perhaps a Paddle

Two days into Spring and the schedule is still off by about three weeks. Although the weather has cooled from the outrageous sixties of last week, the progressive regression of the lake ice continues. An inch of snow overnight is gone by the time I return form the daily grinder. We make 40 by two pm and barely freeze by daybreak. Yesterday there appeared chipmunks in various places around the woods. Poof! Sleepy from their winter's nap they are so very vulnerable now. But the dogs are equally rusty, so all the munks survive another day.


And the beavers are out at dusk under the full moon.
The snow crust moon
Not this year...........

 Birds of note, new arrivals:

Redtailed Hawk
Sharpshinned Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Red-winged Blackbird
Hooded Merganzer
Mallards at the home place

Perhaps a shoreline paddle tomorrow...............

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Then and now or The Woodchuck called it

When I was a kid
one of my more colorful uncles
had a folksy phrase or definition
ready for any event

His description of winter in northern Minnesota was,
"Nine months of ice and snow, and three months of poor sledding"
 Fifty years down the winding road, and there have been some changes

 like the lake ice pulling away from the shore

and rain before the equinox
the Ides of March
unprepared to measure the liquid state
and trumpeter swans everywhere.
therefore a new folksy phrase...........
"Nine months of non winter and three months of dubious sledding"

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A sniff of simplicity

The bluegill comes up and out of the hole and into my hands
with a scent of uniquely lepomian slime
neither densely trout nor pungently pike
that lightly clings as a harbinger of springtime pursuits

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On the edge of a faceburner

Three degrees to start the day
and six by the time I force myself to the task
the diurnal walk about
through three parcels
with three dogs and three thermal layers
and trusty ski poles to keep the presentation vertical 

Through the first five acres
the forest protects us from the wind
as we trudge into the blue path south and west
toward the property corner and an opening to the wind
my right cheek and nostril catching the first icy needles
as we break into the open
I have to turn away

Hard to port we go down the west wind
dogs all hot
on deer and rabbit turds
squirrels and voles
great horned casts
past the gully bottom
where a gut shot buck
lies deep under the stiffened drifted snow

By the time we reach the lake
the snow is coming sideways and hard
I have to turn the right side of my face
least it feels the burn too much

At the house there are pickled pike to pack
curing the week past in the dark confines of the basement fridge
Pike that slashed both spoon and plug
a late autumn frenzy that reduced two of their hoard to fillets
swimming now in vinegar, spices and cheap wine
in a recipe so antique
it calls for Silver Satin
Pre Napa Valley stuff

My face tingles still
in the jar's reflection
showing indeed
a ruddy burnt face

And Blondie fairly spins about the place, singing "Ding Dong the Justice is Dead".

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Midwinter grit
I don't see no stinkin' shadow, OK? 


Saturday, January 23, 2016


During a lifetime of breakfast and baking creativity
a succession of double yokers had never occurred
until today

Is there a question about a lottery ticket here?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year

Trendy, obviously isn't my thing
but having nothing to say
and being envious
of fluid water troutly blogged pics
I succumb
to post the first fish of one six