Rain-A-Gain-A-Pain-Upon-Yon-Plain

Morning, sportsfans. Last night about 10 p.m. Shanahan whacked another possum in the back yard, this one of hullmongolous proportions. I’ve lost count of the body count and backyard carnage.

On the other hand the carnage wreaked by a dog’s hunting instinct doesn’t begin to match the carnage spread by a state  government with two parties who seem more interested in scoring political points against each other, than fixing the financial woes of our schools, state government, and many more aspects of state life. Michigan used to be a true wonderland to live in. Now it’s becoming the land of the dead, literally and figuratively. Private corporations are doing their own damage to everyone. Banks and credit card companies changing interest rates on whim, gas prices going up 40 cents in a week on who knows what trumped up justification.  My long-time (30 years)  employer The Upjohn Company, joined with Pharmacia to become Pharmacia Upjohn and now is part of Pfizer, the world’s most hullmongolouos pharmaceutical firm, has announced it is severely modifying retiree medical programs. Not to mention employing astounding numbers of uncaring incompetents. For example I am at the moment without health insurance because when I signed up for Medicare, Pfizer told Jambe Longue and me  in separate phone calls that I did not need to sign up for Medicare Part B. Guess what: I did need to.  I didn’t learn the reality until  nine months later when I had to make a hospital run in the U.P. So I’ve have no choice but wait untl the nex sign-up period, which is this coming January to March, but having signed up then, the coverage will not begin until… next July 1.  Sweet. Acting on Pfizer’s word means I will have had no effective medical insurance since October 2008. Paid for insurance, sure. Actually had it? No. Hey no surprise. I paid insurance for my late wife’s death for 6-7 years after she died, despite sending them death certificates. Money back. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Course, they had no idea how that happened and you might as well seek an audience with god as find someone in a company who will both actually talk to you and know what they are talking about. Enough whinging. It is raining. Again. Can’t say what’s happening on the plains of Spain, only here, and this rain’s a pain.

It’s instructive to focus on language in communication we get from without, to wit, this letter from Charter, which “Brings your home to life.” Addressing me with the intimate Dear Charter Customer, it thanks me for my loyalty, and informs me that as of December they are increasing residential pricing.  The price for for my cable TV will ” go from $35.99 to $38.99 for a change of $3.”

They don’t say that’s 8.3 percent. Just a change of $3. Then they tell me that my “rental charge for high speed internet will be adjusted from $3 to $5 for a change of $2.”  Uh, assholes, that uh adjustment is uh an increase of  67%! The way governments and companies use language makes me think they are convinced we are all short-bus cretins. And hell, maybe we are.

While I’m in vent mode, Mr. President, get on with the goddamn decision regarding troop increases in Afghanistan. You yourself determined this is  not a war of choice, but the war in my mind  is not against the Afghanis. Nor is our mission there  to rebuild a shithole-forever country that has never been an actual country except in name. The mission is to find Osama-Bag-of-Shit and kill his mass murderouos miserable ass,  and string him and his thugs up on a light pole, like the Italians did to Mussolini. Let bin Laden become a martyr to those who want it to be so, but let him become dead first, foremostly, and soon. Dubya Doody Dodo sent our legions into Iraq which had nothing to do with what happened in New York on Nine-Eleven. We took our eye off the ball, and that ball is now somewhere on the Afghan Pakistan border. It’s time to get that sonovabitch, once and for all.

Found typos on the front page of the web site. Those ought to be corrected today. The new manuscript stands at 38,000 words, about 40 percent done and will get a rest this weekend.

The area where I live is well known for a high percentage of cloudy, no-sun days. Living here is a nice preview of nuclear winter, absent the fallout. Back in my Air Force days we occasionally refueled Air Guard F-89s over west Michigan and we called the area in summer Thunderstorm Alley, and in winter, The Black Hole of Calcutta. Even with global warming impinging, those two monikers continue to apply.

I’ve been invited to Dallas, Texas to speak in January. I plan to drive the Green Streamer and make it a road trip adventure. Yippee ki-ay!

I’ll be rolling with the DNR tonight and tomorrow night, somewhere south of here. Back achu, Monday. Have a good one. Over and LASURM.

Patrol Day Three

Day Three, October 23: I check out of my hotel and drive to the Bigger residence. Overcast sky, no rain at the moment.

En route, a squirrel runs out in the road, almost to my left front tire, coming from my right side, hangs a violent U-ey, and spits nuts all over the highway.  I start laughing. I find Dan finishing duty reports on his computer. We jump in the truck and drive to a meat processor, only the place is unexpectedly closed and a handmade sign says it won’t open until 1300.

We swing by an area near Corunna where Dan has gotten bait complaints. The sign we encounter is pretty blunt in stating the problem some farmers face in southern Michigan. Meanwhile we have heard from the county that someone has reported a man keeping a wild goose in a cage and alleging he has no license for this. We go and find the man and it is true. The goose has been kept in a small cage, which is filthy. But the goose is loose. It cannot fly and when Dan grabs it, it cannot even bite effectively. We round-up the goose, tuck its head under its wing to immobilize it, wrap it gently  in a new space blanket, and put it behind my seat, where it is relatively quiet. Dan learned to handle birds by going with rehabbers and others and having them teach him the proper way to capture birds without harming them. Last time the interior of the truck still had slime from a dying great blue heron. I christen his truck, The Birdride.

OK then. Problem understood.
OK then. Problem understood.
Goosegaol
Goosegaol
Capturing Jesse James
Capturing Jesse James
"Get outta the street, nitwit!"
"Get outta the street, nitwit!"
The goose behind your seat....
The goose behind your seat....

Over our three days I learn all sort of nicknames District officers have for each other: I’ll give some of them here, but not who they are: B-Rad, Master, Napoleon, The Politician, Coma, Witless. Some of them crack me up. Bigger insists he has no such name, so I have given him one: “Nighthawk.” He LOVES working nights in total darkness, and it fits.

The man keeping the bird is elderly and his memory not so good. His grandson brought the goose to him, he tells us, so Dan decides the grandson should be the one charged and while grandpa can’t remember his grandson’s address or phone number, we get his name and that’s enough to pin down where he lives. He will be visited later.

We call Station 20 in Lansing for the names of nearby waterfowl rehabbers.  One is at MSU in East Lansing and other is in Holt, further south. As we are awaiting information we hear the hiss and pop of the goose  defecating in the space blanket and a stench settles into the cab.  This bird cannot fly, but it can get around and Dan knows a place in a nearby village where ducks and geese are fed by local citizens every day, so he decides to release the bird there.  The resident  birds come to check it out,  and of course it immediately walks out into the road, so Dan has to herd it off the street and  over to the river, where it appears it has not had much swimming experience, but if finally settles in. Will it make it? Hard to say. But here’s the “take-home” point in this deal. Almost every time someone takes a wild animal into captivity they are guaranteeing that animal’s death for a variety of reasons. It’s against he law to have wild animals unless you have permits and licenses and there is a good reason for this. Leave wildlife wild.

"Into the River, boid!"
"Into the River, boid!"

We are aware from a DNR source of a bait pile and we learn that the people who may be involved are referred to by some neighbors as the “Crankies,” A truckload of apples has been dropped on the Crankie’s property immediately across from a neighbor’s deer stand to make it look like he’s hunting over bait and shooting onto their property. The Crankies don’t hunt, but they allow some others to hunt their land. We decide to go look for ourselves, which we do. We find our way in, where we walk up on a flock of 30 turkeys and find the blind and bait as described. But the bait is much diminished, the earth having been mulched by deer hooves and deer pellets and it is clear that they were drawn in by the bait, there being no apple trees within miles. Having seen the site and taken photographs, we visit the Crankies at their farm. Three cats are hugging the wall by the door on the stoop. Two guys come out of the gate  kvetching and complaining. We have already checked records and have found that they have made countless accusations against virtually every neighbor around them and that they regularly cast themselves as “victims.” They are not happy when Dan describes the vehicle tracks to the bait pile, the locked gate nobody has a key to except them. They deny dumping bait and immediately accuse a neighbor of hunting on their property. Dan tells them that as landowners, they are responsible for any bait on their property, no matter who puts it there. Dan writes the citation and they continue to complain and accuse others of all sorts of things. We leave them talking to their cats in falsetto voices. You can’t make up this sort of thing.

Looking for "Cranky"  baits
Looking for "Cranky" baits

This complaint business is never cut and dried. Station 20, the Report All Poaching crew in Lansing fields thousands of calls and passes information to COs in the field almost in real time. Sometimes the information is amazingly sketchy. For example, last week someone called the DNR’s RAP  line with a tip which I recreate here, verbatim: “An 8-point deer has been killed on a farm in Shiawassee County.” Unbelievable? Nope. Happens all the time and the DNR is committed to investigating every call and tip, no matter how insipid it may seem. So Dan with regard to this one, operating blindly, checks out several farms where such activity is known to have happened in the past and finds nothing, of course, and reports to RAP that the complaint has been checked, with no result. In this kind of a program you have to take the good with the bad and the fruitful with the worthless.

By the way, the RAP dispatchers have critically important jobs that they perform day in and day out. They are truly unsung heroes in the system of natural resource protection in out state.

The other issue in all this involves the various counties and their prosecutors and courts. A lot of counties simply think wildlife crime is petty. Last year CO Bigger caught a man with 9 deer, and licenses for only a couple.

It happened like this: Dan and Jeff Walker were on patrol in two vehicles. A buck and a bunch of does ran across the road in front of Dan, who radioed Jeff to stop. Seconds later there was a shot and they found a hunter with a buck and at his place nearby a freshly gutted out deer. The officers asked to see in his barn, since there was blood and hair and he refused, and they told him they could get a warrant and he opened up, and they found nine deer heads and parts all over the barn, bodies hanging everywhere. State law mandates the killer of a deer illegally shall serve 5 to 90 days in jail and pay a fine. The prosecutor in this particular county (Not Shiawassee, which takes natural resources issues seriously) charged the man only with x deer, and told Dan he didn’t have evidence for nine. Dan said, “How about 36 feet, linked by DNA tests?” The prosecutor refused, and dragged his feet.  The hunter got his weapon back and a fine of only $200. This is a sick joke against lawful hunters and our natural resources. Personally I’d like to see someone issue annual reports by county on how DNR laws are enforced and adjudicated. I think the results would open a lot of eyes. Some of the things  when I’ve been out with officers  have left me speechless and dumbfounded.

That said, we went to another area to check another bait  complaint, but it’s too sketchy and though we know the approximate area, we can’t find it. It continues to rain, the wind out of the northeast at 10-20 mph, leaves skating horizontally  in the air like yellow snowflakes.

In the afternoon we visit the grandson of the goose keeper. He is a personable guy and while we talk to him his pet black and white goat keeps head-butting our truck. Dan slides the window down and tells the goat, “Hey knock it off!” The goat then stands on its hind legs to see Dan better and the man takes the animal to a pen and locks it up. Dan explains the situation. The man says he found six geese in his yard and tried to release them on a pond behind his place, but two kept coming back. He called his grandfather, who came and picked up the pair.  Grandpap, who was once a game processor, told us this morning, he couldn’t remember where the geese came from, or how many there were.

We raced into Corunna to turn in tickets,  but the court closes early on Fridays, and we miss by a couple of minutes.

At 5 P.M. I transferred gear to the Green Streamer and steamed south. I hit heavy rain from East Lansing to Olivet, stopped for gas in Potterville, and got home at 7 P.M. Beautiful cloud formations south of Galesburg. I usually get off the interstates and drive back roads.

Palette in the sky
Palette in the sky
Cloud Art Abounds in Michigan
Cloud Art Abounds in Michigan

The day’s animal count: 30 turkeys, 13 deer, 82 sand hill cranes, 1 redtail hawk.

Obviously I do not reveal specific locations or circumstances of a lot of these events. Some of the cases are not yet adjudicated and I also do not want to betray DNR special procedures, so what you will get mostly in my blogs are the weird and funny, and some photo highlights. I also withhold a lot of very juicy (some unbelievable) facts and details, but some of these will make it into Grady Service’s adventures and work.  I’ll be out soon with another officer and will report how that goes. I’m all set for deer season’s rides as well, so time now to rest up and take care of other things.

Enjoy the photos that follow.  More reports over the next month after various patrols with other officers.  If you  are going to hunt or fish this fall, be safe. And don’t cheat. You never know who (besides God) is watching. Over.

Patrol Day Two

Day Two, October 22:  Dan collects me at 0730, and we head back on salmon-snagger patrol with a different group of officers, CO Jeff Walker still running the show. Because we were there yesterday, we are told to go directly to our assigned patrol position at a certain time. En route we check the HAP property again. Nobody there. Not as many people fishing the river today, and no fish visible. After a couple of hours we are released to head out to the MSP academy to pick up Dan’s Polaris RZR and take it back to the district office. Radios have been installed in the RZR, along with a siren, loudspeaker and other equipment. The RZR allows Dan to cover a lot of ground on not much gas. The tank holds only six  gallons or so.

The parking lot before dawn, awaiting my ride.
The parking lot before dawn, awaiting my ride.
We operate from a vehicle graveyard, where military surplus is turned into fire gear. Note the paint job on two trucks butt-to-butt.
We operate from a vehicle graveyard, where military surplus is turned into fire gear. Note the paint job on two trucks butt-to-butt.
map from an informant
map from an informant
sugar beet
Sugar beets are cuisine de jour
The RZR in rain.
The RZR in rain.

Back in Shiawassee County Dan has a report of a tree stand with bait and we jump on the RZR and head out, but it pours and neither of us has rain paints, so as the temp plummets, we get soaked and press on, but can’t find the site. We decide to retreat for dry clothes and insulated rain pants. Dan drops me at the hotel to get dry clothes, he heads to his house, which is not far away and 30 minutes later we are dry and warm and headed out again. This time we find the stand and the bait. The guy who put it there did a good job. We drove by the site twice on the RZR, but now we have it and photos. The ground around the tree stand for several meters is littered with apples and sugar beets, and the deer have been clobbering the beets hard.

We dropped by the district office and I chatted with Lt. Gordon and took some photos of various displays in the office, some of them in the category of “Hall of Shame” trophies” (Things taken illegally.) The 24-point monster on the wall in the office was shot some years back in Jackson County by a 44-year-old man who bragged up his story to the Jackson Citizen Patriot. Ever-vigilant CO Troy Bahlau (now Sergeant and Iraq Army Special Forces veteran) saw the story about how the hunter killed the deer at dusk, tracked the blood trail part of the night and returned later to recover the animal. Bahlau was suspicious and checked licenses and discovered the hunter didn’t bother to buy his  until 0944 the next morning. The animal was seized, the man fined and he lost hunting privileges. Bahlau said at the time the man:  “Lost the buck of a lifetime for the lack of a $15 license.” Indeed.

Confiscated 24-point buck from Jackson County.
Confiscated 24-point buck from Jackson County.


We patrolled around the Rose Lake public area and found a vehicle. A run on the plate with a crosscheck against RSS shows small game, but no deer licenses. Yet, there is a bow case in the rear. We block the vehicle with Dan’s truck and start tracking. After awhile we see an expended green shotgun shell on a branch as a marker and I stay there in case someone comes from that direction and Dan keeps tracking. Thirty minutes or so later he comes back, said the trail kept going. It was pushing dark, and still raining, so we returned to the vehicle to wait for dark. Eventually two males and a young girl emerged with orange vests and a .22. They had been squirrel hunting. The rifle was kept in the bow case. Both males had hunting licenses, and the girl was the older man’s daughter, just along to watch. Sometimes you run into unexpected outbreaks of legal behavior…

Another shame trophy, elk antlers from day when one hunter whacked four or five elk at the same time.
Another shame trophy, elk antlers from day when one hunter whacked four or five elk at the same time.

Down the road an excited hunter in sniper camo, sucking on a cigarette, stumbles out of the bush on our left with a bow. It is nearly dark. We stop and he explains how he just missed a nice four-point buck as he was hiking out from his stand. “I had to shoot through heavy brush,” he adds. “But no luck.” Wow: surprise. He did get his arrow back. Shooting through heavy brush while he was walking out to the road suggests maybe he should have passed up the shot, but that’s just my opinion.

In a quick swing by the HAP property we see a car backing out, the registration box left open and we pursue and learn the people have taken registration cards home with them to use the next day. Dan patiently explains the process and how they can’t do that and politely asked them to go and put them back. It’s like nobody ever reads anything the state puts out.

We then headed to Dan’s for a quick eat-break, then off again and a mile or so from his house, see some vehicle lights blink off on a side road and run down there and find two vehicles with five individuals, two of whom are in possession of weed and a pipe, etc. Dilated pupils, etc, the young bozos  have picked an area where there are regular night hunter complaints, which meant Dan is hyper-tuned into anything unusual in that area — uh…like lights blinking off in the middle of the road. It took more than an hour to get the business handled, to call parents, etc. There is wet snow in the air; the temperature continues to drop.

Mulan, the Bigger family's sharpei. Their other dog, Bambi, is a Sheltie. Mulan is way cool!
Mulan, the Bigger family's sharpei. Their other dog, Bambi, is a Sheltie. Mulan is way cool!

Heading north we see a doe on the road in front of us and then I see the head of a buck pops out of a ditch and try to yell, “Buck!” but the animal does a subito 180 and disappears and my word comes out like a slobbering stutter and we both start laughing. We are both glad we didn’t hit either of them. The buck had a nice basket rack. The county’s deer are in pre-rut, split off into bachelor groups, the males starting to spar, their necks swelling up with hormones. Once this rain clears and the air cools they may be going full blast in the rut.

Sometime ago Dan was racing to the scene of a fatal snowmobile accident when a deer came out and ran head-first into his right wheel-well, killing the animal and tightly wedging the corpse in. Dan tried to pull out the gore and parts, even to cut his tire free, etc, but there was too much and he ended up driving with some deer parts flopping with every revolution of the tires because he had somewhere he had to get to, no matter the obstructions. Again, this is the sort of thing I can write in a Woods Cop book and readers will think it is fiction. Some truck-deer collision stories of game wardens are both epic and legendary.

Up in the far north county we searched all over for a road with a soybean field between two clover fields, but could not find it. Dan had noted it a couple of days before, while running south and figures he must’ve not been paying close enough attention. He is totally disgusted with himself. He rarely misses details on anything, but long hours and bad weather take a toll. What we do run across is a clover field with 100 – 150 deer lying down and when he hits them with the light, the field looks like it is filled with fireflies, and then it is filled with more than a hundred white flags of fleeing deer, no two following the same course. Conservation officers see all sorts of weird and fantastic  things when they are out, and I’ve been luck to see some memorable ones while I’m with them.

It’s been a long day. Animal count: 150 + deer, 12 sand hill cranes, 30 turkeys, 1 redtail hawk. Tomorrow we decide to “take it easy.” Dan has the weekend off (pass days). Tomorrow we plan to  inspect both a meat processor and a taxidermist. Both need to be done and both will help me see an element of COs’ duty I know about, but have not actually seen performed before. It’s also supposed to rain all day tomorrow. Damn east winds again.  One of the rules of this work is this: If you have a plan, something will happen to make you change it; it you don’t have a plan, absolutely nothing will happen. We have a plan for tomorrow. Which means…we shall see. Over.

With deer guts and a cooler in the bed of the truck, we had a coon climb up for a quick recon.
With deer guts and a cooler in the bed of the truck, we had a coon climb up for a quick recon.
Dope paraphernalia
Dope paraphernalia
Dope in a box.
Dope in a box.
Say WHAT?
Say WHAT?
Squirrel on steroids.
Squirrel on steroids.

Patrol Day One

This is the time of year when legions of  crooked “sports”  and legitimate sportspersons are afield across  Michigan. It’s also the time when all the hunter disputes and bad blood between neighbors begin to rear their  annual ugly heads. The amount of contention over something as simple and insignificant as a deer can leave you wondering what the hell is wrong with so many of us.

Same for many of the things and circumstances  Michigan’s Conservation Officers  encounter on a daily basis run into.

Over the next couple of days I’ll chronicle patrols with Dan Bigger and other officers.

Day One: October 21: I drove to Owosso in a driving rainstorm, met CO Dan Bigger at my hotel 0800, got my gear stored in his truck, and we start working our way toward a rendezvous for a group salmon-snagger patrol in another county.  Dan used the time to catch me up on recent events.  Coming home from patrol last night, he saw a man on a tractor, loading wood from a tree on Consumer’s Energy property. Dan pulled his truck over, and the man immediately dismounted and scuttled into into the standing corn. Dan, who grew up on a farm, re-started the tractor, which brought the man back out immediately, sputtering: “What’re you doing!”

“Why’d you run?” Dan asked.

“Didn’t know who you were.”

“Even with my blue lights on?”

“Nope.”

“What’re you doing here?” Dan asks.

“Taking dead firewood. It’s on the public right of way.”

“No, it’s on Consumers Energy property.”

“Well it’s dead.” The man went on to insist and explain how anything on any right of way belong to everyone, or something to this effect.

Dead , with all those green leaves?”

Dan showed me the cut branches on the site, all of it. Not dead wood at all.  The man hauled a whole pile of wood to someone else’s house. I estimated 3-5 ricks — give or take — when it’s  cut and split. The man was ticketed for recreational trespass, but he could have been charged with larceny, etc. The man’s wife called the court while we were on patrol, complaining and wanting to know why her husband got ticketed for taking public wood.

After closing off the tree event, Dan resumed his drive toward home, only to come upon two men fighting on the road-side , going at it big time with their dukes. He got out, ordered them to stop and, as often happens one of them took a last violent whack at the other, so Dan cuffed that individual and told them both to calm down. Turns out they are brothers, and were fighting because one of them had slept with the other’s girlfriend. Dan had a hunch. “Do you guys live with your parents?”

They both nodded. Figures, he thought.

Dan told them to get their vehicles off the road and take their beef somewhere private. He just shook his head when he related this to me.

Then he finally got to go home, hours past dinner, a familiar story.

Human behavior never fails to surprise (or not). A woman in Owosso once sashayed out onto the footbridge by the Curwood Castle (a famous Michigan writer’s house), took off all her clothes and jumped into the Shiawassee River. A police officer jumped in and told her, “It’s three feet deep. Stand up and get the hell out.”

If I put such things in a book, you think it’s made up. Trust me. A whole lot of it is just as it happens, only names and location are changed.

Last time I was here two weeks back,  Dan had just made a case on a man who killed two bears in the UP, one of them illegally.  The man confessed, said he just wanted to get things behind him quietly so his kids wouldn’t know, then got a lawyer, marched into court, and pled not-guilty. Dan has the confession tape.

One of our en route tasks was to check some Hunter Access Program (HAP) property in his county. This is land the landowner opens to hunting and the DNR evaluates it by habitat type and makes a determination of how many hunters can safely use the property at any one time. The rules require hunters to sign in and to carry a yellow registration card while they are in the field. The other night a bow hunter in his tree stand nearly got shot by a pheasant hunter and Dan has determined that too many people are using the property concurrently and a lot of them aren’t bothering to sign in. We can see where they are driving off the designated road areas.

He will start checking this area on a regular basis.

Also en route, we stop at a place where there is a complaint of baiting. The landowner denies any bait at all until we walk around and find apples, and corn in corn feeder, and a mineral block, and deer tracks near all and he swears he feeds only squirrels.  A lot of people do not take the lower peninsula baiting ban seriously and continue to do whatever they want. Some counties likewise do not take the ban seriously and levy insignificant fines. Shiawassee County takes it very seriously and fines the offense accordingly.

Bait pails by the open door in the garage.
Full bait pails by the open door in the garage...
Feeder by the driveway...
Feeder by the driveway...
corn in the feeder, which is on...
corn in the feeder, which is on...
Apples on the ground by the house. Wonder where they came from?
Apples on the ground by the house. Wonder where they came from?

We get to our rendezvous point on time, but others trickle in behind us for various reasons, and finally CO Jeff Walker tells the team where he wants us and how he wants us to handle things

Sitting in our “hide,” an elderly  gentleman [defined as older than me] pulls up in a station wagon gets out, goes into an alley, comes back out after a fair interval, stares at the truck, leans over to look at the law enforcement shield on the door, walks toward his vehicle and makes a sudden ninety-degree turn away from it and disappears around a street corner. He is stumbling as he walks, suggesting he had been imbibing, and figuring out that Dan was law enforcement, he decided not to drive. Or maybe something on his honeydo list just popped into his mind.

I like people watching when we are in surveillance in populated areas. I spot another man, bald, wearing a parka, black shorts, tennis shoes with golf socks, and wearing skinny electric blue sunglasses. I couldn’t invent a look like that.

Late in the day CO Walker stops a man with three snagged fish, two Chinook males and a female steelhead, and we drive over to assist.

A snagger's take
A snagger's take

The suspect says, “But I milked all the eggs out of the steelhead into the river so those wouldn’t be lost.” Say what?

CO's Dan Bigger (foreground) and Jeff Walker, running files.
CO's Dan Bigger (foreground) and Jeff Walker, running files.

I quietly said, “Steelhead spawn in spring, not fall.”  The man had no driver’s license and had to call for a ride, but we learned after we left him that he hotfooted right down to the river and told other snaggers the DNR was around, and they immediately dispersed likes cockroaches in a spotlight.

Pink Chinook Salmon? This was a new one to me.
Pink Chinook Salmon? This was a new one to me.
The weigh-in. Seven pound salmon, fairly fresh.
COs Jeff Walker (L) and Dan Bigger. The weigh-in. Seven-pound salmon, fairly fresh.

Turns out the two men we checked at the place Dan has named, ”The Flush,” a couple of weeks back were known violators, but we couldn’t get into position to actually see them snagging. If we cover that spot again we devise a better plan to see what’s going on.

Back in Shiawassee after the surveillance job, on our way to check some deer fields, we spy two young men with fishing rods coming up from the Looking Glass River, so we turn back but they ran back to the river and disappeared. Dan goes along the road on foot,  and I angle through a high-grass swale and he makes contact with them and then I come in on them from the other side. There are three of them, they tell us that they  know they are trespassing, and in fact that they have been ” kicked off the river before.”  Their car is parked in front of NO TRESPASSING signs, in fact on the property. All the while Dan is doing paperwork the three lean against their car laughing and waving to passersby, like they are heroes of some unspoken drama. Dan calls the landowner, who wants tickets written.  They all get recreational trespass tickets. The next morning the father of one of the three will call the DNR district office to complain that his son is being “picked on” by the cops. Dan’s Lieutenant, Jane Gordon, patiently explains that it’s not the officer’s call, but the landowner’s re: pressing a case. The man says, “Oh.”

Looking Glass River
Looking Glass River

As we were driving through a town we see a woman walking a stubborn pit bull puppy, violently jerking on it’s chain. Dan remarks, “Just what the world needs, another pit bull.”  We’re both borderline punch and tomorrow will be a really long patrol day.

I need about two minutes to be in deep sleep. Dan plays Sudoku at home to relax his mind and pull back from patrols. Everybody has their own method of relaxing and disengaging.

Animal count for the day: 12 turkeys, 15 deer , 1 coon, 12 sand hill cranes. Oh yeah: and three dead fish.

On a final note apart from the patrol, a photo of the cover of the October edition of Midwest Fly Fishing follows. The article, Searching for Frenchman’s Pond is noted on the cover. I can’t load the content electronically, but you’ll know the fetching cover when you see it.

October 2009 Midwest Fly Fishing
October 2009 Midwest Fly Fishing


Hounds and Bears

Wildlife biologists will tell you that the further west you go in the UP, the more bears there are. CO Jason Wicklund of Iron County gets a plethora of bear houndsman during the fall bear season and he sends along the following pictures of interest. Iron County is a very big chunk of turf and with just two COs covering it all, they could spend a lot of time hunting for hunters, but if you happen to find a hound and have him hop up on your truck gate chances are pretty good that the houndsmen, following the signal from the dog’s radio collars will come to you.  And when you are out on patrol, you may see some strange sights like a houndsman sitting on the back of his truck with his dog as the truck hurtles along at warp speed.  Enjoy the photos and thanks to CO Wicklund for sharing.  Over.

Waiting Game
Waiting Game
The guy is sitting WHERE?
The guy is sitting WHERE?

Frederick Joseph Dunayczan, 1943 – 2009

Just back from a funeral mass at St. Cat’s.  Fred Dunayczan died earlier this week. A retired teacher and creator of the famous Galley sub sandwich shop near Western Michigan University’s campus, he was the epitomy of a good guy and gentle soul.  When we buried my grandfather,  the priest reminded us that in Ireland people say “God always sends rain when a good man is buried.” Some people enter life, live, touch no one and leave no impression on anyone. When you say Fred’s name, the first response is always a smile. That should tell you all you need to know about the kind of person he was. I never got to know him well, but he always treated me like an old friend.  Fred was tough: He went through prostate cancer, quadruple bypass surgery, lymphoma and shingles. But his heart gave out this week and that was the end.

It rained pretty good this morning: Draw your own conclusion.

Over.

Tippicanoe, Kalamazoo, Parking Lot Scumbags Stealing From You

Yesterday was the first nice weekend day (though cold) in a couple of weeks, so Jambes Longue and I loaded Shanahan into the Green Streamer, stopped briefly at the Texas Corners Farmer’s Market to pick up some Mexican chiles, and cruised  through the Allegan Forest over to Saugatuck, where I signed some books upstairs in the Singapore Bank Book Store. We tried to cut through New Richmond to cross the bridge over the Kalamazoo River there, but it’s been blocked off in preparation for a new area park. We were forced to backtrack a bit. The owners of the book store own a bit of property in Ironwood on the Black River, so they are Yoopers by tax, if not residence.  We found a church a couple blocks off the main drag where you can park for a donation. Good deal. We left Shanny in the shade, and amble downhill into the village. Great fish-and-chip lunch and a glass of Merlot  at Chequers, some window-shopping  and back home. Stopped at Meijers to pick up pop, were inside 30 minutes max, came out and someone had gotten into the Green Streamer and helped themselves to Jambes Longue’s 35 mm with 300 mm lens, and two sets of binoculars. The window was cracked to allow some air for Shanny, and the way we figure it, the scumgankbags saw the stuff in front, reached an arm down, popped the lock on the door behind the passenger seat, and hopped in.  At about which time  Mr. Shanny, no doubt napping in the far back, stood up, ” greeted them,” and they bugged out stage-right, moving fast. If they hadn’t run, they would have found a lot more good stuff. Or lost some of their own parts.

Jambes Longue is PO’d about her camera; I’m mostly philosophical. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s department took a while to respond, but they did. Yesterday was the annual game betwixt Western Michigan and Central Michigan, which invariably keeps the county, campus,  and city cops dancing beforehand and afterwards. Meijers has elevated outdoor cameras, but they may not have been pointing in the right direction. I’ll call the insurance company today.  Whoever did it was tall, with long arms and some flexibility to get their arms inside the window opening, reach down pull up  the lock. I couldn’t do it. Too bad Shan-man didn’t draw some blood, but hey, his specialty is smaller mammals.

We had snow in the air Thursday morning. Just wisps and flakes, but snow for sure.

The article  mentioned the other day is in Midwest Fly Fishing (MWFF), the October issue. I still haven’t gotten a copy. The story is about finding John Voelker’s Frenchman’s Pond and getting caught trespassing. A lot of my sportsman friends might say that’s not a story; it’s a continuing storyline in my life. Whatever.

Also, we’ve confirmed that the next Woods Cop story,  Shadow of the Wolf Tree will be published May 4, 2010. Lyons Press, the publisher, is not issuing a hardback, only a trade paperback “in an effort to help make books affordable to readers.”  Any input from me on such decisions? Newp. Lyons got the manuscript a year ago this coming November. If you need instant gratification to float your boat, stay  far far away from  writing and publishing.

“Goose the Golden Guinea” (of St. Ignace)  wings into Grand Rapids Tuesday afternoon and I’m fetching him.  Driving to the airport reminds me of all the baggage drills our crews went through  1966-1970. I don’t miss air travel or being greeted by customs and immigration. Between 1962 and 2000 when I retired, I had only one immigration person, one time (out of hundreds of trips) say, “Welcome Home.” Talk about thoughtless pathetic PR. I hear it’s even worse now, but who knows. I’m just glad I’m not flying all over hell any more.

Oh yeah. Today is my birthday: 66, which by my calculation renders two thirds of the devil’s symbol.

Big Whoop. Over.

Litch-rah-chuh, Good Reads, and Like That

joe fish 2
Pere Marquette Chinook, September 2009

Eric Larson from Minnesota sent me an email asking for some reading suggestions. In answering him, I decided to put the list on the blog. It’s not complete, it’s not all fiction, and some is not even about fishing, but all worth reading. By the way, one of my pals once said that all fishing memoirs are largely fiction, so decide for yourself what’s what. I’m throwing a fish picture in just to make sure it flags your attention. Next to Da Bible and Old Willie Shagsper, there’s probably more written about sport-fishing than any other subject.

Here’s the list (sort of alphabetically by author):

Dave Ames. True Love and the Woolly Bugger.

James R. Babb. River Music: A Fly Fisher’s Four Seasons

Melissa Bank. The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

John Bailey. Trout at Ten Thousand Feet: Reflections of a Passionate Fisherman.

KK Beck. Cold Smoked.

Carlos Bentos. A Crew of One: The Odyssey of a Solo Marlin Fisherman.

Monte Burke. Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the Worldl-Record Largemouth Bass.

Richard Brautigan. Trout Fishing in America.

David M. Carroll. Trout Reflections: A Natural History of the Trout and It’s World

David N. Cassuto. Cold Running River

Wade Davis. One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest.

Fred DeFauw. Fishing the Back Country.

Jerry Dennis. A Place on the Water: An Angler’s Reflections on Home; The River Home: An Angler’s Explorations

James Dodson. Faithful Travelers.

William A. Douglass. Casting About in the Reel World: Fishing on the Fly.

David James Duncan. River Teeth; The River Why.

Umberto Eco. How to Travel With a Salmon & Other Essays.

Thom Elkjer. Hook, Line and Murder

Richard Flanigan. Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in 12 Fish

Ian Frazier. The Fish’s Eye.

Charles Gaines. The Next Valley Over: An Angler’s Progress

Rusty Gates. Seasons on the Au Sable

John Geirach. Still Life with Brook Trout.

Katherine Hall Page. The Body in the Fjord

Ernest Hemingway. The Old Man and the Sea

Lorian Hemingway. Walk on Water.

John Holt. Guide Wars

Victoria Houston: Dead Creek; Dead Angler; Dead Water

Robert Hughes. A Jerk on One End

Robert F. Jones. Blood Sport:  A Journey up the Hassayampa.

Harry Edward Jones. Grandpa Trout.

Christopher Knight. Ferocity.

William Least-Heat Moon. River Horse.

Ted Leeson. The Habit of Rivers: Reflections on Trout Streams and Fly Fishing

David Leitz. Casting in Dead Water.

Nick Lyons. My Secret Fishing Life.

Norman MacLean. A River Runs Through It.

Jessica Maxwell. I Don’t Know Why I Swallowed the Fly: My Fly Fishing Rookie Season.

Frank Mele. Small in the Eye of a River.

Fen Montaigne. Reeling in Russia.

Deborah Morgan. The Weedless Widow.

Howard Frank Mosher. Where the Rivers Flow North.

Tom McGuane. Ninety Two in the Shade.

John McPhee. The Founding Fish.

Harry Middleton. The Bright Country: A Fisherman’s Return to Trout, Wild Water, and Himself.

Jennifer Olsson. Cast Again: Tales of a Fly-Fishing Guide; Flyfishing the River of Second Chances: Life, Love and a River in Sweden.

Michael Palin. Hemingway’s Chair

Paul Quarrington. Fishing With My Old Guy.

Paul Quinnett. Darwin’s Bass: The Evolutionary Psychology of Fishing Man; Pavlov’s Trout—The Incompleat Psychology of Everyday Fishing.

Howell Raines. Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.

Steve Raymond. Rivers of the Heart

Kirk Russell: Shell Games; Dead Game; Night Game

Kathy Scott. Headwaters Fall As Snow; Moose in the Water, Bamboo on the Bench.

Paul Schullery. Royal Coachman: The Lore and Legends of Fly-Fishing.

Rich Tosches. Zipping My Fly: Moments in the Life of an American Sportsman

Robert Traver (aka John D. Voelker.) Trout Magic; Trout Madness

Melvin J. Visser. Cold, Clear and Deadly

Scott Waldie: Travers Corners.

Ronald Weber. Catch and Keep; The Aluminum Hatch.

Samantha Weinberg. A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth.

Randy Wayne White. The Sharks of Nicaragua.

Leonard Wright jr. Neversink.

Where ONE is a crowd

The attached photo is from Midwest Fly Fishing Editor Tom Helgeson, who just put the latest issue of his magazine to bed up Minnie Polis way and winged off to Kodiak Island for some fishing. This photo is from his last time up that way in Fish-Bear Valhalla

I have an article in this month’s issue of MWFF and will provide details and a cite once my copy arrives via snail mail.

I also noticed today that the next Woods Cop Mystery, Shadow of the Wolf Tree is, according to Amazon.com, slated for May 4, 2010, release. I’ll verify that when I hear from the publisher.

More rain here, and the H1N1 virus has moved into the local schools. The virus is here;the vaccine’s not. Draw your own conclusions. Over.

Big old bear fishing next to me? Guess who has the right of way?
Big old bear fishing next to me? Guess who gets the right of way?