Yowee!

First mosquito of the year tonight, right before dark.  Holy wah. Over.

Hutaree History Note

Most have heard by now about the round-up of so-called Adrian-area group calling itself Hutarees — a self-proclaimed “Christian militia preparing to battle the forces of the Antichrist.” The group, news reports say, was plotting to kill a peace officer and use bombs to attack the scores of officers who would gather for the funeral, this according to a grand jury indictment unsealed Monday in US District Court in Detroit.

According to a March 30 Detroit News report, retired Michigan Conservation Officer Bruce Van Wieren and his partner were  some years ago  shot at by the  alleged leader of the Hutaree group, David Brian Stone Sr.

According to Van Wieren to a reporter, he and his partner were sitting in a truck in a hayfield not far from Stone’s trailer one October night when he felt and heard a shot fired at the truck. The officers determined Stone had fired a handgun at the truck, but did not pursue the matter after Stone said he thought they were trespassers, and the officers were then called away on a more pressing matter.

Stone’s ex-wife told reporters her husband bragged about firing a gun at the COs’ truck.

A CO pal of mine, also now retired,  one night approached the driver’s side of a vehicle as his partner approached the driver’s side. My friend saw the passenger groping under the seat and grabbed the man’s arm as he grabbed a  9 mm. My friend dragged the potential assailant out through the window, disarmed him, and put him in cuffs. Turns out the guy had just gotten out of  jail and had declared he would shoot the next cop he encountered. An officer caution had been dispatched, but never reached the COs. Only alert tactical awareness on the part of my friend  kept that night from turning  tragic.

Our COs bump into and rub up against all kinds out there.

Over.

Da Wolfies Iss killink all da deers….

The headline is how fictional poacher Limpy Allerdyce might characterize this entry’s subject, but he would be pulling your leg because irracsible old Limpy knows better. And he likes “Dose  wolfies, cuz where youse got wolfies you gots dem deers.”

I happened to be in the Midland area over the weekend and read a Midland Daily News article by freelance outdoors writer Steve Griffin. It was an interesting piece, well written, and  I read it with great interest. It was about wolves; the Headline read: “Deer Hunters up in arms about Wolves in the UP.”

As my regular readers know, I’ve had the privilege of riding with DNR law enforcement officers hundreds of times and over ten years in the field with them I have heard a lot of half-baked comments about wolves.

Back in my high school days in the UP, the deer population was very low in Chippewa County where I went to high school. In my USAF days in the late 60s, I was stationed at K.I. Sawyer AFB  and we hunted south Marquette, North Dickinson and South Baraga counties. Same story: not many deer, and no baiting or elevated stands back then. Bottom line: You had to know how to hunt to kill your deer.

In those days when deer hunters complained about the lack of deer it was invariably the “DNR’s fault.” (Wolves had been extirpated by then and most cougar reports concerned a mystery cat downstate).

Over the years I heard stories of the so-called Huron Mountain Club wolf planting, an incident the writer Griffin seems to take a tangential swipe at, insinuating the DNR did not want to talk about something that’s a matter of public record.

The DNR did plant 4 or 5 wolves long ago. They didn’t last long.

I have also been told by ardent hunters in hushed conspiratorial tones, that the DNR is planting cougars to get federal endangered species money, and that the state agency once planted coyotes, but they sort of got out of control, so now they need to be hunted to be reined in.

The ability of Americans to find conspiracies in thin air is sometimes remarkable, often eerie, and almost always disturbing. What the hell is wrong with us? We don’t have enough real problems that we have to invent crap-ones?

The coyote allegation of course was the line a local coyote guide in Southwest Michigan area was feeding to his ignorant clients.

As for the DNR being reluctant to talk about the wolf planting in north Marquette County , it takes only about 10 minutes on your computer to ascertain this information. As a writer, it’s my practice to try to dig up information and then ask for confirmation of what I have found. In ten years of writing about the DNR I have never had an agency employee duck my questions. And I have asked a whole heap of them. And I’ve never been lied to.

I like having wolves back, but no, the DNR did not plant them. Yes, wolves eat deer. Yo, bro:  so do hunters, which is the whole point of hunting for most folks. Sayin’?

I was with the DNR one year when they arrested a wolf shooter; his group just happened to also have two improperly tagged bucks tied  on a vehicle and two more untagged bucks down in the field. These were going to be tagged for others, of course. They had three more deer back in their camp. Group of five, seven deer.

Sometimes I have hunters ask me why I don’t write about hunters who follow the rules and my response is who cares about that small number? Great, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Would cop shows on TV make it if they did shows on people who don’t commit crimes? Duh?

Here’s one, a theoretical. You are hunting with your buds. You have a tag for only one buck, but three of them step up in your sights. Do you shoot just your one? Or do you shoot all three for your buddies? I don’t know what you’d say to this, but in all the groups I hunted with and all the candid ones I talk to now the answer is they would shoot all three.

The wolf-shooting hunters had moved from another part of the county “because the wolves ate all the deer there,” so they moved to this other area, killed a whole bunch of deer and a wolf because, sports fans, there were just as many wolves in the second place as the first and the killed wolf was unlucky to get too close to the hunter’s bait pile.

There is no doubt that if your camp or hunting area has a big deer population in the UP, they will attract wolves. (Magnet for poachers too). But once they come through and the deer population falls, the wolves move on. This is part of the natural cycle. And it remains localized by nature. Wolves don’t persist in areas without food. I don’t shop in grocery stores without food. Do you?

I also know a guy who owns a camp in southern Marquette county who will go out at nitght and kill 60 brook trout, regardless of size because “It’s my land and we’ve always done it this way and we’re gonna always do it this way and the damn DNR is not going to tell us what to do.”

Okay then.

For numbers people, let’s say each wolf eats 20 deer a year. (They don’t but for argument’s sake let’s put it at 20.) With 500 wolves that means they eat 10,000 deer per year. Mostly in the UP. The DNR has only recently confirmed LP wolves, but we’ll concentrate on the Yoop for this little discussion.(Actually I think the last count is 575) but I’m going with 500 for this piece. You want to work the precise math, feel free.

(1)     Vehicles in the UP kill around 30 000 deer annually. (65,000 or so statewide).

(2)     An average UP winter snuffs around 100,000 animals; a severe winter kills as many as 200,000. (No idea of lower peninsula kill rate from winter).

(3)    Hunters in the UP, using all methods  in the average year kill (an estimate by me here)  100,00 deer (or did until 2009 and 2009 seasons) (It’s around 400,000 for the state, I think)

(4)   Nobody knows (or more accurately I can’t find) the natural death rate of deer unrelated to weather. (Disease, accidents, etc.)

(5)   We know bears eat fawns, but we don’t know how many this totals.

Thus, in a typical UP year with an average winter the UP deer kill is an estimated 240,000 animals of which wolves kill 10,000 or 1 in 24. Drivers kills three  times as many.

How many do poachers kill? I know of cases where the number of illegal deer has been way up in double figures and nobody even mentions this. We have no idea how many animals poachers take.

What effect does baiting have? Hunters can still legally bait in the UP and believe me it’s rare to find one using the legal quantity or even if he or she is using the 2 gallons, to have it spread out properly. Virtually every salt or mineral block is left whole, which pulls deer nose to nose. Blocks are supposed to be broken up. In all the hundreds of camps I’ve been in I’ve never seen the blocks properly handled one time. Not once. Ten years.

In a severe UP winter wolves kill 10,000 of 340,000 animals or 1 in 34.

If we have warm deer seasons the harvest goes down. I remember back in 2003 when the temps were above 70 in the western UP. The weather was not particularly conducive to good hunting, nor was it last year and in 2005 in the western UP it snowed 24 inches the second day of the firearm season and most visiting hunters got the hell out of Dodge. The vagaries of weather play a huge role in outdoor activities. Just like when the wind is out of the east, I don’t bother going to the river.

The number of hunters continues to fall year after year, which means there are many fewer people in the field and fewer people moving around the first few days, which is when most deer are killed.

Yet wolves and DNR mismanagement are the cause of the modern deer-hunter’s problems?

Really?

Give me a break. I am not an apologist for wolves or bears or cougars, or any of our other wild predators, but people need to step up and put things in some sort of perspective. I’m not an apologist for the DNR either and I don’t always agree with their analyses or their decisions. But fair is fair.

Want to help? Kill does where it’s legal.

Turn in the hunter-cheaters. Over-baiters alter deer movement. Every hunter knows this. I have been with COs talking to some old coot who says I have a neighbor who baits, (when it’s illegal), but the man won’t turn him in. He’d rather whine to the CO that it’s not fair. He’s right. It’s not, so open your yap and do something about it.

Want to help? Do you really value your deer? In some Michigan counties there are prosecutors and judges who couldn’t care less about deer, legal or illegal. I know of a case where COs caught a guy red-handed with nine animals, but the prosecutor refused to push more than three because, he insisted, the COs couldn’t prove that the animal parts they found were related. They said, “But we can through DNA.” The prosecutor said, “Don’t bother, I’m only doing three.”

In some counties offending hunters get light slaps on their little hands.

I know a judge who demanded young CO “Prove to me how a deer is worth a $1000 fine. They’re all over my garden and town and they are a nuisance.”

You want to make a difference? Tell your prosecutors and judges to do their damn jobs. And while you’re at it, push your legislators to jack fines up high to $5,000 per deer. Tell everyone no more games in the woods.

Footnote: In 10 years of riding along with COs and too many calls from county dispatch to go fetch a wolf on the side of the road, not one call has ever produced a wolf. Dogs, cats, racoons, and an occasional coyote but no wolves.

Wolves are not killing ALL the UP’s deer, people.  An estimate on the high side: One in twenty four. Michigan drivers do better than wolves.

I’m stowing my soapbox now.   Take five, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

The last Saturday in April draws ever closer!

Over.

Game Wardens Galore

Back today from the 3rd Annual Michigan Conservation Officers Association Banquet in Auburn, Mi.  The association, which is open to game wardens and the public is used as a fund-raiser for MCOA scholarships and other worthy causes. The MCOA ice hockey team, “The Fighting Fishcops,”  is also involved in fund-raising and will be playing the Ben Mshar Benefit Game, Sunday, April 24, 2010, 7:30 P.M. at the Patterson Ice Arena in Grand Rapids. Ben Mshar is a four-year old boy recently diagnosed  with leukemia.

It costs only $20 for the public to join the association.

The banquet featured a silent auction, dinner, a live auction, and  a whole lot of raffle drawings, including firearms and a crossbow.

The MCOA is affiliated with the Fraternal Order of Police and officially is MCOA FOP Lodge #190. Check the group’s web site www.mcoaonline.net.[NOTE: This is NOT a link]

Animal viewing was superb over the past two days: 102 sand-hill cranes,  12  red-tail hawks, 2 northern harriers, 165 turkeys, 19 deer, 3 great blue heron, and 1 humongous woodchuck. Lots of dead skunks which suggest those critter are on their up-cycle (excepting the dead ones). We also counted 47 road-killed deer, which is the highest number I’ve ever counted for any trip. Rain was coming in later today, which had the animals out and moving around this morning.

Support the your conservation officers and the MCOA, and if you see people poaching, call the 1-800 Report All Poaching number in Lansing. You can remain anonymous. The sooner you call after witnessing something, and the more details you provide, the better chance officers have of delivering justice. All you have to do is call. A few photos from the quick trip follow the article.

Over.

Officers schmoozing at the annual banquet
Couldn't resist this photo of Church of God Campground somewhere in central Michigan.
Morning Fandango in Midland County. The boys they are a courting, fanning and so forth!
Birdfood, still on the stems.

The Value of Pictures

elokuva on arvoinen tuhat puh

une tableau c’est valeur mille rediger

en avbilda ar varde tusen orden

te tafereel kost mille tekst

en bilde er  verd tusen ord

ein Konterfei ist Wert tausend Text

A picture is worth a thousand words: Jambes Longue et yours truly.

Over.

Bagged like a buck in a billion-watt spot.

Dog Story

A man charged with Malicious Destruction of Property Over $200 was found guilty by a U.P. jury last week after two days of deliberations.I don’t really understand how the charge applies, but law is law. I simply report it.

The story is thus: A German shepherd-mix dog came onto a man’s property and he shot an arrow at the mutt, which passed through and the dog ran away. Seeing that the dog would make it home, the man hurriedly dialed the Sheriff’s department to claim the dog (an old one) knocked him down and he was in fear of his life, so he pulled an arrow from his quiver and stabbed the dog. When deputies arrived they found the following: the man had injuries (leg scratches) that did not match up with self-inflicted holes in the rubber boots he was wearing. Then a deputy found a blood-covered arrow in the grass. The arrow had gone entirely through the dog, entering just behind the lungs. The entry and exit holes lined up almost exactly, indicating a broadside shot, not an attacking animal or any sort of frontal posture.

Six or seven hours after the deputies were at his house, the man went to the local Emergency Room. A CO was asked during the trial if it was possible to push an arrow all the way through an animal. Said the CO: “I know I’m not man enough to do it.”

As it turned out the deputy who responded to the call had been at the dog owner’s house a couple of days before this incident. And at that time the dog suddenly appeared and the prosecutor asked, “What was the first thing you thought when you saw this dog?”

Replied the Dep, “The first thing I thought was that me and that dog both need to go on a diet.” The courtroom, including the judge, burst into laughter. The dog, which was called as a witness, wandered around the courtroom panting and wagging his tail, and acting friendly to all.   The vet bill was $900. Sentencing this week or next. Stay tuned. The stuff some COs get into never fails to amaze me…And my readers wonder where I come up with the stuff I write? Often I just report the unreality of reality.

Over.

Planting Forget-Me-Nots, The Passing of a Wolverine, and Go Rudyard Bu-dawgs!

Heard last weekend that our only wolverine over in Sanilac County had died. Later it was confirmed. Interesting story there of a science teacher from Deckerville H.S.  who tracked the animal for years and shared trail camera photos with his students and used the unusual animal as a way to teach. Nicely done. Sad that the female died. She’s been around since 04 or 05.

Meanwhile, the usual stuff of life: leak in gas line to the water heater, the dog has to have both knees surgically repaired because he blew out the ligaments, found owl scat while walking, complete with remaindered bones, and last night at Meijer saw a strange Idiot’s Guide, which I present as a photo, and ask only : Are Idiot Guides written by Idiots or targeted to ? Or is that two questions? Snow-rain forecast for tomorrow, the first day of spring,  when Mademoiselle Jambes Longue becomes Madame H. God will officiate. (I’m guessing he’d rather be drifting his boat for chromers.)

I planted forget-me-nots in the hope of them getting some weekend wet. We shall see: I have a notoriously black thumb. My alma mater, Rudyard High School of Chippewa County,  won it’s regional boys basketball championship and is now 23-1 on the season. Go Bu-dawgs. Over.

One to Remember
May Apples popping through the leaves to declare the start of spring in the Pileated Forest
Wall Crocii
The Leavings of an Owl


St. Patrick’s Day, Woolly Bears, and Crocii Popping Forth and Spring

I remember some years back a sortie with God, fishing the Pere Marquette on St. Paddy’s Day, one like this but 40 degrees colder with a high in the 20s and the water at 35 and we ended up building a small fire by the river to warm up and thereafter repaired to Edie’s Log Cabin Bar in Baldwin, where we should have gone directly to in the first place. Today it will be in the low 60s, but snow being called for weekend. Ah, Michigan spring and a poem for the day. Crocii are emerging, woolly bears are done with hibernation and out perambulating the trails, and the air is finally soft: Yee Gods! Over.

Focii on Crocii, in all poypull matchesty

St. Paddy’s Day

Be-sainted Padraic,

besotted reptile -chaser,

Misanthropic monk,

Your day was born here not there

Where they thought you daft,

Praise god, our Oyrich

Greener than your Oyrish,

Grass seen greener from here,

And all that, so down your Tateys

Mateys and quaff a draft

For the auld island sod,

Ain’t no glory in starving

Under the heels of rich men.

Woolly Bears (wooly worms/ pyrrharctia isabella) hibernate through winter and wake up in spring to begin changing into Isabella Tiger Moths.

[Portage, March 17, 2010]

Backyard Muses

Spring means cleanup and yesterday afternoon was spent outside with a Picker-Upper and shovel and lo and behold, a poem. Enjoy, Over.

Afternoon in the Yard

Tiz the Ides, and the dog sprawls regally,

Next to the fence, watching me bag

That which he deposited

Since November last, effluvial

Mega-pounds, holykowabongalossal kilos.

Great heaping gobs of greasy shit

Layering the crab grass like a topside carpet pad

A worthless fertilizer, this stuff so thick

It will take a thousand years to fall apart

And give suck to the earth.

I imagine that sonovabitch

Over there is almost smiling,

His leavings on my hands, boots, pants,

Ubiquitous, this glutinous crap

And then as all inspiration comes

Floating from the nether blue,

It occurs to me that there’s a biz

In this: Dogdusthaulers Inc,

“We remove winter’s ugly reminders.”

Hell, I’d pay to have someone do this

For me and then sit beside the dog

With a mint julep in hand and supervise,

From time to time uttering the call

To war. Hooah,  get SOME!

Or like dude,

Ya missed that big yellow sucker

over to your right.

[Portage, March 15, 2010]

Randomonica

Amazing. Got word today that my Facebook dealie will not connect to this webpage. So I check. Had a type. Duh, me. Details count and the photograph hereafter, taken yesterday at the Portage Barnes & Noble proves it.  Suggested memo to employees: “Dear Fellow Workers. Youse have to pay attention to where youse slap down da price labels, eh?” Arf-arf. Over.

Details Matter