In Extremis Mentis

New Brunswick bruin, or semblance thereof. Thanks to Jack-The-Biter for the photo.

Michigan State Lacrosse Brother Ted Swoboda sent along a group of eye-catching photos.  And I threw in a photo from pal Bob Lemieux, wildlife photographer in New Brunswick, who is a well known practical joker, so this could be real, or Photoshopped, or whatever. His dog Jack took the photo you see.  But let Ted  describe his scene in his words:

I was out on the Grand haven Pier holding my cameras with one leg wrapped around the cat-walk structure with wind gusts of close to 60 miles and hour.
I thought to myself with only one other photographer daring to venture out on it with waves splashing over it, I must have some hair on my ass!
Then I spotted 2 crazy bastards on wave-runners and thought, maybe you don’t have that much hair on you ass!
Then I looked north of the pier and saw 3 more crazy bastards getting 40 feet of air under their sail-boards.
The wind was so strong I could hardly hold my camera still enough to get the shot, and look at the one cat who isn’t even wearing a shirt.
EXTREME SPORTS like this, and those goons who fly around the Alps like bats make me happy to see them enjoy life…however short it is!!!!!!! [PS, this is the gene pool for Green Berets, Navy Seals, and Air Force Paras]

"Ohmygod, ohmygod, I forgot my shirt dude!"
"Okay, okay, wait....wait....wait...."
"Uh, I can jump the jetty IF I time this right. Right?"
"Uh, like maybe I cut it a little close, eh?"
"Dude, you're in my space and I ain't talkin' 'puters!"

Looking Through The Window of Obituaries

Back in J-School at MSU we were taught the importance of writing succinct, accurate obituaries. Now with the disappearance of so many newspapers I have to wonder where the obit deal will flow to. I heard recently about papers who charge for obituaries, and about funeral homes who charge for writing them, then put a handling surcharge on top for placing them. Things are changing, sports-fans and not for the better.

This is a long blog – for a reason. Read to the end to get the point. I have purposely failed with succinctness on this one.

Nevertheless I also find old obituaries interesting to peruse. They are useful in finding names to use for a novel, and even details and minor plot possibilities. In the interests of edification, I submit the following obits and bits all from the UP in days gone by.

D 1923: Mrs. Matlena Bajari, 77, widow of the late A.A. Bajari, died at her home in Blue     Jacket Monday night following an illness of three weeks. Born in Finland.

D1929: Thomas F. Banberry, 65, died in Flint after moving there two years ago.

D1927: William V. Varkell, 90, died Wednesday morning at Lake Superior General Hospital. He had been ailing for some time and while his death was not  unexpected, it is keenly regretted by his many friends. Born in England.

D1930: Benjamin T. Barry, 50, died suddenly Wednesday noon at his home in Houghton. A heart attack as the cause of death. He had just finished shoveling a path and was  sitting in a chair in his home when he was stricken. Born in Jackson, MI.  Educated as a pharmacist.

D1927: Fred Barshat, 77, died in Cleveland. He left with his family four years ago.

D1924: Mrs. Thomas E Bawden, died in Santiago, California after a brief illness. She lived in Lake Linen and Laurium before accompanying her husband to California,  where she since made her home.

[Do you huncheth the feeling that moving away from the UP can be a fatal decision? The obits certainly point that way without explicitly linking A to B. But I digress.]

D1921: Mrs.Albert Beakly, 64, died yesterday at the family home in Hancock, after an  illness of three months. Born in Ireland.

D1928: Albert Beakly, 77, passed away in St Joseph’s Hospital shortly after 10 PM last evening. Death followed an illness of about two years.

D1921: Mrs. Ernestina Beraumont, 54,  died at St. Joseph’s Hospital yesterday morning following an operation. Moved to Houghton when she was eight years old.

D1924: John Becker, 65, well known mining man, passed away in the home of his son       in-law. Headline reads: “John Becker is Summoned,” which sounds ominous. On the other hand, maybe it is a bit like a subpoena, eh?

D1929: Thomas O. Bennett, 81, copper country pioneer, died last night at his home. He had been seriously ill for the last week. Moved from Vermont at age eight.

D1921: Mrs. Mary E. Berman, 76, esteemed pioneer resident of Calumet, died Sunday  morning at the family home, following an illness of several months. Born in Norway.

D1924: Mrs. John Betosky died at St. Joseph’s Hospital

D1924: William A. “Bill” Boag, 26, former well known Calumet high school athlete died yesterday at the home of his sister in Greenacres, Washington. The deceased graduated from Calumet H.S. in 1910. Was a member of the baseball team and one of the strongest members of the school’s track team.

D1924: John Bond, 66, died at his home in Detroit Monday, after an illness of short  duration. Born in England. Left Calumet five years ago.

D1927: William Bond, 67, retired mining captain and the most ardent fan that high school athletics of Ironwood have ever had, was stricken last night while he was  spurring his boys on to victory at the Luther L. Wright Gymnasium and a few   hours later died at Newport Hospital, where he was taken. Born in Cornwall, England

D1924: Frank T. Bovidson, 64,  died in Behlehem PA on Feb. 17. He made his home in Calumet for 38 years, having been a member of the C & H police force. He left  Calumet three years ago and visited here this past summer.

D1924: Louis Boudreau, 73, oldest C&H employee resideing in Lake Linden and one of the oldest in Houghton County. Born in Canada

D1921: Mrs. Joseph Bouraseau, 64, died on the Fourth of July received in a car accident  in Tonawanda, New York. She died of a skull fractured a few hours after the accident.

D1924: Mrs. Angeline Bourdage, 71, passed away Friday night after an illness of 10    years. Born in Canada.

D1921: Mrs. Fanie Bowden, 66, died yesterday in Dodgeville at the family residence.  Born in England.

D1928: Oliver Boyer, 68, died suddenly while at work yesterday morning. He had been driving a city team, complaining of feeling ill. He seated himself on the ground,  toppled over into a faint. He was taken to Lake Superior General Hospital. Heart failure is believed to be the cause of death. He had been in failing health. Born in Canada.

D1921: Two of the oldest citizens of the Torch Lake District have been called by the Grim Reaper in the deaths of Mrs. Elizabeth Brownlow,84, and Mrs. Mary Hollie.  [Called by the Grim Reaper? What church is THAT?]

D1928: Samuel Bryant, 78, died in Mohawk after a brief illness. Born in England.

D1924: Mrs. Isaac Burgan, 86, died yesterday after an illness of five months. Born in England.

D1924: Mrs. Sarah Burkhardt, 70, died suddenly Wednesday evening at her home on   Caldedonia Street. Circumstances of her death were such as to lead officials to believe she might have died from other than natural causes and a petition filed with Coroner Fisher this morning demanded an inquest into the case. The jury has been impaneled and viewed the remains. The autopsy will be performed this  afternoon.

D1924: Mrs. Catherine Burkheiser, 50, of Hancock, died unexpectedly at 3 PM at the  home of her sister. She had been occupied in the garden and went to her room for a rest. Later when relatives went to call her, she was dead. She had been undergoing treatment of heart trouble recently, but her death was entirely unexpected.

D1922: John Burrows, 54, died following pneumonia.

D1947: Mary Maddaleena Waananen, 80, died of myocarditis. Born in Finland.

D1947: Anna Kaisa Waara, 91, died of myocardial infarction, arteriosclerosis. Born in Finland.

D1944: Fred H. Waara, 81, died of lobar double pneumonia. Born in Finland.

D1942: William Waara, 56, died of (sic) “influenza, meningetes, loid quade”

D1925: John Waarce, 60. Died of delieium tremens and chronic myocarditis.

D1950: Peter Wagner, Died of acute myocarditis, chronic arthritis.

D1943: Mathew Wagoner, 73, Died of cardiac asthma.

D1922: Henry Wahala, 73, died of senile debility. Born in Finland.

D1917: Lugrid Wahlstrom, age 8 days, died of  (sic) “infantile wineulsism.” Unmarried, Sweden-born mother.

D1928: Peter Waisanen, 78, died of chronic endocarditis and dropsy. Born in Finland.

D1943: Peter Valent, 55, died of carcinoma of stomach and gall bladder, heart disease  contributing. Born in Yugoslavia.

D1910: Eino Bernhard Walitalo, 28, died of tuberculosis.

D1941: Erick Evert Walitalo, 59, died of coronary thrombosis, diabetes, generalized atherosclerosis. Born in Finland.

D1914: Hanna Madaline Walitalo, 31. Died of purpura fulminans ( Purpura fulminans is also known as “Purpura gangrenosa” a haemorrhagic condition usually associated  with sepsis  or previous infection. It occurs mainly in babies and small children. Born in Finland.

D1930: Roy Reuben Valitalo, 17, died of meningitis/influenza and spinal TB. Born inFinland.

D1937: George Wallace, 74, died of (sic) prostratism with chronic myocarditis.  Born in England.

D1921: Jessie Wallio, 21, died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Born in Wisconsin.

D1921: Martha Wallio, 8 months, died of lobar pneumonia.

D1923: August Wallio, 70, died of cerebral apoplexy. Born in Finland.

D1911: Laila Walstrom, 24 days, died of infantile convulsion.

D1933: Jacob Waltari, 68, died of prostate carcinoma. Born in Sweden.

D1916: Gertrude Walters, 0 Yrs 0 mos, 0days, stillborn.

D1918: Jane Walters, 84, died of chronic endocarditis, and cirhosis of liver. Born in England.

D1926: Emma Walston, 79, died of chronic ascending paralysis.

D1928: Lillian Marie Van Hala, 26, died of pulmonary tuberculosis.

D1936: Peter Van Iderstine, died of chronic intestinal nephritis. Born in Canada.

D1943: Mary Eriika Wanha, 83, died of carcinoma, stomach, uterus, throat. Born in Canada.

D1945: John Ward, 83,died of stomach carcinoma and heart disease and (sic) “otoslabby.”

D1944: Richard Masters Wareham, 72, Death from heart disease and bronchopneumonia.

D1944: Matti Warila, 80, died of tuberculosis. Born in Finland.

D1923: Alred Varluf, 70, died of chronic valvular disease and dropsy. Born in England.

D1951: George Scott Wanre,88, died of heart disease, arteriosclerosis. Born in England.

D1934: Nestor I Warth, 27, died of tuberculosis.

D1915: Matilda Gustava Waryrynen, 42, died of apoplexy. Born in Finland.

D1940: Andrew Wasalampi, 67, died of cerebral hemorrhage, heart disease, senility. Born in Finland.

D1911: James Watson, 79, died of apoplexy, buried at poor farm. Born in Scotland.

D1930: Ida Waters, 58, died of chronic interstacial nephritis.

D1943: Joseph Vayo, 54, died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Born in Hungary.

D1934: Kalle Wayrynen, 64, died of myocardial insufficiency. Born in Finland.

D1910: Lizzie Wayrynen, 34, died of brain cancer. Born in Finland.

D1942: Margaret Warynen, 69, died of cerebral hemorrhage & hypertensive heartdisease. Born in Finland.

D1946: Matt Wayrynen, 67, died of cerebral hemorrhage and cardiovascular renal disease. Born in Finland.

D1946: John Wearne, 41, died of esophageal carcinoma with underlying cardiovascular renal disease. Born in England.

D1928: Frank Webber, 76. Died of (sic) “systite prostatitis.” Born in Germany.

D1931: John Webber, 51, died of drowning.

D1917: Joseph Webber, 39, died of fracture of second cervidal vertibra and cerebral concussion.

D1952: Hedwig Weber Wallace, 70, died  of valvular heart disease and chronic rheumatic disease.

D1942: Giacomo Vecchio, 70. Died of  (sic) “angend pectords; limpoma.” Maybe they mean angina pectoris and lymphoma?

D1942: John Vehka, 72, Died of cerebral hemorrhage and arteriosclerosis. Born in Finland

D1945: Matti Veijolainen, Died of  (sic) “dilatation heart,hypertension, bronchial asthma.” Born in Finland.

D1909: Edward C Weikings, 8, Died of bronchial opneumonia and measles.

D1914: Peter Vekevich, 89. Died of general breakdown and old age. Born in Poland.

D1923: Dorothy Wellems, 9, Died of membranous croup and had tracheotomy.

D1913: Edna Edith Evelyn Wellems, 4 mos, died of ileocolitis. Same mother and father as preceding Dorothy.

D1907: Joseph Wellems, 60, died of myocarditis. Born in Germany.

D1912: Ceceil Edith Velmer, 20. Died of pulmonary tuberculosis.

D1935: Andrew Verbanchich, 66. Died of stomach cancer. Born in Yugoslavia.

D1943: Joseph Vertachich, 88, died of carcinoma of stomach and gall bladder. Born inYugoslavia.

D1908: Peter Vertala, Died of valvular heart diseases (mitral). Born in Finland.

D1950: John Wester, 79, died of coronary thrombosis. Born in Finland.

D1929 Arnold Hugo Westerberg, 22, died of tuberculosis.

D1928: Delise Westerberg, 52, died of cardiovascular renal disease.

D1930: Lillian Westerberg, 21, died of chronic pulmonary tuberculosis.

D1936: Elog Johannes Westin, 36, died of tuberculosis. Born in Sweden.

D1932: Louise Weston, 66, died of cerebral apoplexy.

D1909: Frederick Westphal, 87, died of unknown causes, but suffered chronic gastritis.  Born in Germany. Died on poor farm.

D1914: Peter Schetney White,67, died of bladder cancer. Born in Canada.

D1935: James Emerald White, 46, died of tuberculosis of lungs.

D1920: John White, 92, died of arteriosclerosis of the brain. Born in Canada.

D1912: John Wick, 54, died of chronic heart diseases. Born in Finland.

D1921: Lousia Widenhaefer, 31, died of tuberculosis. Born in Wisconsin.

D1918: Joseph Vidmar, 28, died of tuberculosis.

D1906: Jacob Wiinamaki, 76, died of apoplexy. Born in Finland.

D1943: Isaac Arvid Wiippa, 72, died of pericaecitis. Born in Sweden.

D1923: Arthur Wiitanen, 20 days, found ead in bed morning of April 19th.

D1941: Alma Olivia Wilen, 47, feebleminded,myocardial infarction. Born in Finland.

D1915: Alice Wilkings, 24, died of tuberculosis.

D1946: Charles Williams, 57, died of stomach cancer,malnutrition, depression, psychosis. Born in England.

D1915: Daniel Williams, 65, died of chronic Bright’s disease. Born in North Carlina.

D1915: Mar Williams, 37, died of tuberculosis, rheumatism. Born in Alabama

D1922: Leola Catherine Wilson, 18, died of tuberculosis.

D1905: James Nankervis, who recently left Moharw for Jackson California, was killed in a mine accident. He left Mohawk to better his health. Born in England.

D1905: Emil Lalone, 19, died by drowning at the Kearsarge Dam.

D1905: Mrs. Eugenie M Rees, died yesterday at the home of her son in Houghton,  from     a stroke of paralysis.

D1905: George Perrault, 48, died Sunday morning at his home in Kearsarge from  hydrophobia. He had been bitten last March by a dog. He is survived by a wife  and 12 children. (No mention of the dog’s fate.)

D1905: John Somonich, 43, died yesterday at his Calumet home as a result of a lengthy  illness. Born in Austria, survived by a wife and family living in Austria.

D1905: John Richards, 38 died yesterday noon in Centennial mine. He and partner John  Geroge were laying blasting powder and Mr. Richards was killed by a premature  blast. He was single and lived with his sister. Born in England.

D1905: William Hodges, 35, died after being stabbed in Geyser, Montana by George  Rickards on the night of 5 July. Mr. Hodges and his father moved to Great Falls from Hubbell 11 years ago and later went on a ranch 9 miles from Geyser.   Rickards is determined to have murdered Hodges and he has fled.

D1905: Dr. Charles McLean, 45, died at St. Joseph’s Hospital from appendicitis. Born in Canada, he took a dentist’s course at the University of Michgian and has been in Hancock since two years after his graduation.

D1905: The coroner’s inquest over the body of Anton Chopp,50, who died Thursday morning from injuries falling from a skip in C shaft of the Champion mined stated  he accidentally died. He had worked at the mine for one year.

D1905: Herman Kauppila, 24, single, a Finnish miner, was killed in No. 5 shaft of theBaltic Mine,yesterday morning by a blasting cap exploding in his hand. Born in Finland. He had worked only a few months at the mine.

D1905: George Hoatson has died in Mt. Clemens. It was only a short time ago he was  living in Calumet and in robust health. He leaves a wife and nine children.

D1905: Mrs. Stina Pispa, 62 died suddenly at the home of her daugher in Yellow Jacket,after a lengthy illness.

Here’s a great notice mixed in with marriages, deaths and community news: ATTENTION: My wife Stella, having left my bed and board, I hereby notify everyone  that I will not be responsible for any debts she may  contract in my name. SIGNED Frank Stimach of Trimountain.

D1905: Lambert Symons, 28, single, a miner at C Shaft t the Atlantic Mine, was killed yesterday by a fall of dirt. He was born in England had been in the United States less than three years. (I can see the company flack typing the news release on this  one.)

D1905: John Hosking, 64, died at his home in Laurium yesterday from paralysis.

D1905: Dennis Lahey, 25, of Rambaultown, drowned in Portage Lake yesterday morning. He was a brake man for the Mineral Range Railroad. He fell from a scow in the lake and having been sick beforehand, he drowned. (Sounds like the reporter is doubling as coroner on an inquest.)

D1905: Frank Miller, 53,of Hurontown, committed suicide yesterday by hanging himself from a loft adjoining his home yesterday. He is survived by a wife and 11 children

D1905: Captain Davide Bussiere, 62, of Ripley, died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hancock yesterday of blood poisoning. (Captain is mining term for a supervisor and apparently, like president of senator, one carries the title for a lifetime. In this case, however, the captain was a de facto captain of a tugboat).

D1905: Chris Haller, 32, an employee of Hancock village for some years past, died in St. Joseph’s Hospital as a result of injuries received previous in a runaway team of horses attached to a village sprinkler used on the streets. He was thrown beneath the horses’ hooves.

D1905: Peter Berglin,60, inmate at the Houghton County Poor Farm died yesterday. Thefuneral was held yesterday afternoon and he was buried in the Poor Farm Cemetery. (Pound the hole own, t’row ‘em inna ground. Geez.)

D1906: Toivo Visti, 30 minutes. Cause of Death: No Doctor.

D1937: Ventla Violet Victoria Wisti, 20, died of tuberculosis.

D1906: Toula Wistii, stillborn, ashphxiated in long labor.

D1928: Benjamin Thomas Vivian, 24, died of tuberculosis. Mother Mary Smitten.

D1930: Phillip Henry Vivian, 20, died of tuberculosis. Mother, Mary Smitten

D1938: Soo Hoo Wong Yuen, 76, died of enteritis , senility, and mycardial failure. Born in China.

OBSERVATIONS: Mining was (and remains) dangerous work. The English-speaking Copper Country newspapers early in the early twentieth century were almost totally pro-business and mine operators and the miners were mostly considered foreign scum.  Newspapermen got “stipends” from companies to provide favorable news. Foreign language papers didn’t get such payola. Finns were especially hated because they were independent minded. The plum jobs and those that paid the most went almost exclusively to Englishmen, notably Cornish folks. Note how the paper points out a miner is a  Finnish miner. What the hell does that have to do with his dying in a mine accident? Being Irish, I’ve heard all this crap before and if you’re Catholic or Jewish, or German or Italian, or Chinese, or Black etc. so too have you. We were and remain a nation of immigrants. And yo, I say again, We are all Africans! All of our immigrants legal? I’ve go no clue, but a hundred years from now,( if you can find obituaries or newspapers at all) they will feature Hispanic, and African, and Asian surnames names, lots of Chinese, and Indians and Pakistanis. This I do know. People with futures rarely leave their natal lands. Only those who feel certain to be screwed tend to hit the road. So it was true with nearly every wave that has come ashore here, or across landforms. But once you’re in America where to you run to if you are screwed, born in such straits that there is no playing field, much less a level one?

For all the presumed robustness of the lifestyle a hundred years ago there seems to me to be a lot of cardiovascular problems – heart attacks, hypertension, strokes. So how far have we really come? At least we seem to have gotten the upper hand on a lot of but not all infectious diseases.

Keweenaw Copper miners struck in 1913. Their union out of Denver  wanted them to wait, but the men and their families  had had enough I don’t blame them. The resulting strike was damn bloody on lots of grounds and the national guard was called out for a period of months to maintain order. But many of the miners came from countries where armies were like state police and this simply incited things more. Clarence Darrow was asked to intervene, but the situation sounded too dangerous to him and he begged off. Our governor of the day, one Woodbridge Ferris, had his mind more on education and other things and basically tried to avoid the ugliness up north. The sheriff of Houghton County back then was in the mine operators’ pockets and Keweenaw County’s Sheriff was his own man and probably sympathized with th strikers. What a contrast for neighbors. By the way, women and children played prominent roles in the various strikes activities including carrying around buckets of shit to throw on scabs and the 1,700 company men who had been deputized and armed under a special state law.

Makes you wonder how either of our current candidates for governor would handle such a situation, or for that matter, the race riots in Detroit in 1967? Not fair, I suppose to play what- if, but considering the nasty and sophomoric sorts of ads the two noids run against each other, I think such a theoretical is perfectly acceptable.

Did I tell you that Glen Sheppard,  editor of The North Woods Call published up north, and the most eminent, knowledgeable, fair and outspoken  conservation journalist in the state sent questionnaires to the two candidates, only Bernaro bothered to respond — at least as of Shep’s last issue. Does this mean Snyder doesn’t give a shit about natural resources and conservation?  Sure gotta wonder. Or does he think he can outsource the management of such stuff to China for the best price offered?  Just saying.

To repeat, based on my experience alone, Gateway was the WORST company I ever dealt with on all measures —  until  the brain-sucking Charter came around. When you say the name Gateway to others, listen to the kinds of remarks you get.  And I never even heard the Lansing mayor’s name until he decided to run for governor, so what kind of leader can he really be?

I may write in the late and much-beloved Pie-in-Sky perpetual gubernatorial candidate, Zoltan Ferency, ISYN.

I’d rather vote for a dead man than for someone who shows too little concern for all the living among us.

Enough spout from the lout:  I find obits thought-provoking- if I  read enough of them to create a bolus of information that begins to squeeze into a critical mass.

Take no prisoners. Over.

MSU and Big Fish Too

As my daughter would say, OK, here’s the thing about being a Michigan State University (MSU) football fan: Our teams’ never-ever make it easy, even they have presumably good teams. For example, this year, even if they were to go 13-0 and win the BCS title, you can bet it will be ugly and painful and filled with the dumbest sort of mistakes and inconsistencies from start to finish. I’ve had green blood coursing through me for 50 years, and my brother-in-law for 60 and as we watched the Spartoons’ generally inept play against Northwestern on Saturday, we looked at each other, both thinking, “Here they/we go again.” Don’t get me wrong: I like this coach and this team, but this brain-fart uh-oh-shit-I-didn’t-mean-ta-hold-that-guy-sort of trip-over-yourself play entirely befuddles us who have watched for so long. The only thing we have learned over five decades of suffering is this: Twill be what it shall be: Michigan State 10, Notre Dame 10. Need we  say more? Sharing a few pix from here and there, this and that. Over.

This is a silver or blue turkey and they are in Michigan, believe it or not. Apparently we have four types. Thanks to Carol Athey for letting me photograph this specimen.
We almost got the boat over the dam. Almost.
I swear everywhere I look I see agate patterns, this bunch on a deer antler. Sheesh.
I'm a sucker for bumperstickers and other creative trivia.
We have a skull collection in our studio for various artistic uses, in bugus absentia.
Chris Vairo's 2010 antelope.
Jared Vairo's 2010 antelope. A great father and son success -- on all counts. Well done, boyos.
Her majesty Mary Joan and 15-pound chinook buck on the Muskegon River. Fall is a great time to be outdoors in our great state.

It’s THAT Time of Year

This is a loose journal of  one day [of four] with DNR officer, Dan “Nighthawk” Bigger. It begins with getting up in my hotel room at 0700 and arriving at the officer’s house at 0830.

Last night we ended patrol with a trash fire in Owosso area.  We were refueling the truck at a gas station and talking to a state Troop when county called the event in and Dan asked if they’d like for him to cover it. They did. So we went.

The guy was burning linoleum and what I assumed was the urethane liner to a fridge. The fumes from the smoke were awful and bad news.

Dan asked the guy what he’s burning.

“Ya know, just trash, cardboard and stuff.”

Dan says, “We can SMELL it’s not just cardboard. Let me see your license.”

The man  yelps, “Why?”

License finally delivered, the man is instructed to get a hose, which he does. It is a skinny thing, and all kinked and he stands holding the hose with only drops falling and keeps shaking it and Dan says, “You have to un-kink it. Turn it clockwise.”

The man proceeds to turn himself clockwise and looks confused. Dan un-kinks the hose and the water finally flows and Dan instructs him how to thoroughly dowse the fire.

Bottom line, a ticket is issued for burning without a permit and we both reek of fumes afterward.

Today’s first task is to make a telephone call to Officer Kelly Ross in Montmorency County. Kelly [DNRE LED’s elk czar] has a computer program that can be used to determine time of death [TOD] on deer. You enter ambient air temp and the animal’s temp and the computer makes the calculation. Yesterday we found an untagged, gutted doe on a woody  edge by a road.

A local had informed us the animal wasn’t there at 0700 so it had to have happened after that time. Probably someone spooked the violator in the act of gutting the animal. We happened upon the site around 1730 hours. Kelly runs the data and tells Dan that the time of death was approximately 8 hours and 21 minutes before we took temperature of the dead animal, that puts the TOD after 0700, which fits the time line we got from the informant.  When Dan took the temperature last night he made sure to take it in the leg that was  most off the ground [an likely to be warmer] and because this animal is on its back he takes reading from both legs and they are within one degree. At some point perhaps all COs will have such a program to assist in investigations

We eat a quick breakfast of fresh eggs from his chickens and buzz into Corunna to swear a warrant from an earlier deer case and he gets an ORV complaint from someone in the court. He also turns in a ticket and  picks up paperwork.

From courthouse we stop at the cleaner to pick up his dry-cleaned Class A uniforms. Next week there will be a day when all 133 COs and their supervision will all be together in one place, the first time in 9 years because of previous budget problems. 133 COs for the 83 counties that comprise the state of Michigan? And you wonder why it takes awhile to sometimes get a callback? This amounts to an average of 1.6024096385542168 officers per county. Original staffing calls for four per. Go figure. By the way, Shiawassie’s magistrates, prosecutors and judges get it when it comes to the DNRE and our natural resources. They don’t coddle lawbreakers. Such unbending support is rare in the state.

Quick swing past a complaint area, back to the Bigger residence and we switch gear over to his Polaris RAZR, put on our brain-buckets and boogie forth. The machine is small. He’s a lanky, angular six-six, I’m over six feet [shrunk by age from 6-4] and we are crammed inside. Only rule: Keep all body parts inside the roll bar if we roll her over. Roger that.

We swing by the doe we found. Body is still there. He could pick it up, but prefers to let it lie and get an estimate to figure out what sort of timeline the violators are operating on. There is poaching of deer all over the county, and BIG deer all over the county. For various reasons this one does not quite fit the profile of other killings.

RAZR away we go to visit a farmer who has been having issues with people trespassing onto his farm and hunting. We watch the largest house cat either of us has ever seen while it hunts a field and we talk about how easy it is for people to mistake such sightings for a cougar. This animal had long hair, but an inordinately long tail, which if you didn’t take a closer look through binoculars, might make you mistake it for a you-know-what.

The farmer talks us through his property and we take off to get all four corners mapped the officers GPS. This way, later if there is a confrontation, there will be no doubt if someone is trespassing. The back end of the property is sort of creek bottom land and touch as hell with deer runways all over the place and littered with a nasty tangle of high swamp grasses and blow-downs. The farmer tells us we can’t possibly get the machine “back there or you’ll get stuck.” Dan says thanks and we make our way over, around and through the debris field to the fence line to take more GPS readings. The farmer looks amazed when we return to where he is waiting. A new survey is to take place next week, so the officer will visit after that to get more paper survey maps to compare with his GPS readings.

Complainant satisfied, we head for the power line on Consumer’s Energy property, where last night we found an 80-year-old man hunting the power line from a small tent placed right at the edge – one of those deals with fabric that enables you shoot the arrow through the fabric.

And we fine a urine bottle/lure in an old fruit tree right in front of the blind. The guy gets out of the blind and says the bait isn’t his, that it’s been “hanging in that tree for years.” Dan takes it down and puts it in the truck.

Dan explains the Consumer’s Energy property rules to the man, how you can’t hunt on it, or across it, etc. and tells him he’ll talk to the company to see what they want to do about this case. He also tells the guy to get his blind out by the next day. From there we continue on and after stumbling across a whole bunch of mowed trails partly on Consumer’s property we followed them and came upon a loaded spin feeder with the timer set for three spins a day. As we are looking at the spin feeder the battery in the urine bait in the truck bed comes on and we hear it buzz as it throws urine around. Been in the tree for years, we tell each other and raise our eyes.  People. Of course all baiting is outlawed in the lower peninsula at the moment. So we marked the feeder on the GPS and had a quick dinner and then went on about our business.

But that was last night, and today we take the RAZR back to check the feeder, which is gone!

Obviously the placed had trail cameras on it and we were busted and the guy pulled the feeder. All that remains is a pile of core about 18 inches in diameter. Even without the feeder it’s a bait pile and illegal. Last night we looked at plat books and other resources and guessed who the owner was, so we raced over to the man’s place to talk to him. He tells us he lets a pal and his pals used the site for hunting. And he knew the pal had a spin-feeder there, but his friend told him it is legal to feed deer until hunting season begins. Officer Bigger disabuses him of his friend’s disinformation and also informs him that some deer hunting began in September. The man calls his pal , tells us the pal is there, and gives us directions to the guy’s house and we head over there and as we are en route we see a big truck go by us with the driver giving us the stare-down and Dan says, “That’s our boy.”  We get to the house. Nobody there. Back door of garage is open. Big  4-wheeler in there, all sorts of hunting stuff, folded, new-looking tree blind on ground outside. Dan calls the guy on the phone and he comes back.

“Saw you on the way here,” Dan tells him.

Guy says, “Yeah.” His pal the landowner had told him we were coming right over, and he told the landowner he’d be at home, but he jumped in the truck and left. Why? We’ll never know for sure.

Long story short we hear how a “clerk at the Wal-Mart” told him baiting is legal again. “Did you read the hunting guide?”

“No. How much is the fine?”

“$410 first offense in Shiawassee County.”

“How come it’s illegal to bait but stores are still selling bait?” the man demands to know.

Dan responds, “The DNRE doesn’t regulate that. Ag does. But here’s a way of thinking about it: The speedometer in your car goes up to 100 to 120 mph, but you can only drive 70 in the freeway.”

The man grunts and says, “Can’t you cut me a break?” he asks. “I’m laid off and I just like to feed deer.”

“Just feed them out in a remote field in the middle of nowhere?”

“Yah, and the clerk told me it’s legal if you have a permit.”

“Do you HAVE one of those permits?”

His eyes turn down to his shoes. The ticket gets written and away we go.

We head to a taxidermy shop out in the country  for a quick inspection and find a deer, recently brought in that doesn’t look right. I can’t go into details in the blog.

From taxidermist, our route takes us over to Owosso where we run the river trail and find a suspicious adult male sitting alone by a culvert. “What’re you doing?” Dan inquires.

“Waiting for my friend.”

“What’s his name?”

Uh, like, he’s, ya know, not certain, know what I’m sayin?

“Why are you waiting for him?”

“He’s gonna buy couple fishing rods at Wal-Mart and we’re gonna fish.”

Dan calls central dispatch at the County and asks if they have any reports regarding lone male by the river. “No,” county tells us and we continue on to check out the ORV complaint he’s gotten. “We’ll look for the guy on the way back,” he tells me, see if they’re actually fishing and if they have licenses.”

We continue down the River Trail and Dan says there used to be assaults and problems there at one time, but since he’s started patrolling it on the RAZR the problems seem to have dissipated.  We head on and check the site of the complaint and Dan formulates a plan for dealing with it and then we pull off and he calls his wife Michelle and they coordinate activities of their two kids Catherine and Ian.

All  the while we are out Dan is hacking and coughing. He is just coming off a bout of pneumonia and has finished the antibiotics and now is on a few-day steroid regiment. In his years in the navy he was a nuclear weapons technician and working around all sorts of asbestos and nasty chemicals, which cost him 20 percent of his lung capacity. It’s amazing he can work outdoors, but he is a big stubborn, dedicated officer, who believes in the job and protects resources with passion.

Having had two eggs and toast, we have not looked at food all day and decide we had better get some chow. We park the RAZR in the Kentucky Fried Chicken lot, go inside, each have a bowl of mashed potatoes with cheese and chicken mixed in with gravy, and a soft drink and honk back to his house to switch back to the truck and head out to meet Officer Brad “Bee-RAD” Brewer who is coming up from Hillsdale County to participate in a shining patrol. The plan is to work two vehicles on well-known shining area. We will be the spotter and Officer Brewer the chase vehicle.  After a quick meeting to coordinate, we let dark settle in, then  head dark  to our stations.

Unfortunately, we try to hide our truck too deep in a wood lot and get hung on a berm and Bee-Rad has to drive over and pull us out, which is done while are totally dark. Free again, Officer Brewer scoots back to his place, we find a better site and settle in.  Over the course of the night we will get six or seven shiners, one with a spotlight. Brad ran that vehicle down, but there are no weapons and it is legal to shine until Nov 1, as long as you shine before 2300 hours.

Over the course of the surveillance we are visited by a skunk and a couple of baby possums. There are deer (bait) in fields around us, five shooting starts, clear sky, all sorts of air traffic and the sound of an owl whooshing it’s wings over top of us. While sitting there we get on computer and try to check information on hunter whose deer seemed odd to Dan. And we talk to Station 20 and the personnel in the RAP room in Lansing. We decide to wait until 2 AM after the bars close and at 0205 we hear a shot northwest of us, but we can’t pinpoint it and decide not to chase around. Dan calls off the patrol, Brad heads for home and so do we, arriving at the house around 0300. I then drive to the hotel, call home, and fall asleep at 0400. At 0610 the county calls Dan. A deer has been shot in a field up in the north county and off he goes to check it out and to extract slugs from the carcass.

This is neither a typical nor atypical day for a conservation officer this time of year. A lot of work before deer season usually results in a good deer season – that is in terms of stopping a lot of violating. I have been with Dan since Wednesday and everywhere we have gone people have come up to him and given him tips and intelligence, most of which we go and check out and which he marks on his AVL computer for future attention.

I’ve been here since Weds noon and we have patrolled on foot, in the ATV, on a boat on the Shiawassee River and were scheduled to do a bait flight in an aircraft, but had to call it off when local weather went south, otherwise is three days our patrols would have been air, ground and sea, so to speak, which is pretty radical by all standards.

I’m really pleased all our officers will get to be together soon. They will be there in two groups, each group to go through some specialized firearms training, but there will be one common day for all 133 to be together. Many of them have never met so this will be a good thing. This is the time of year when all sorts of things begin to magnify in the forests and swamps.

I’ll be out with several officers around the state over the next month or so and will report when I get back to my own barn. Meanwhile, be safe and have fun  in Michigan’s beautiful woods. And be legal too. Remember your conservation officers are watching and they can pop up anywhere at any time. CO’s have the most beautiful “offices” in the world, when they have the rare moment and enjoy it.


Autumn splendor on the river.
New launch, less than one day old, made specifically for CO Bigger. Mud on bottom might be problematic.
Oops, guess we got a little far to the right. Let's do this again.
Yours truly. Job description: Ballast and snag lookout.
Neither Charon nor the River Styx. The Shiawassee is severely low right now.
How low? That light line is our keel mark from dragging.
The rarely seen two-handed nighthawk. For four days the phones are rarely silent as complaints and tips come into Dan.
ET's silhouette n that tree. I swear!
River at its best, smallmouth jumping all day.
Some years ago some waste hauler dumped medical detritus into the river -- illegally. Took awhile to clean it up. The red item is one of the old medical waste barrels. No Measuring temperature of air and meat allows officers to determine time of death.

way to tell how it got there, or when, but it’s empty.

Out of the truck and into the RAZR for patrol.
Ya sure I'm comfie in here, Dan. You betcha. Absolutely comfie, brain bucket and all. Really....
River Trail patrol
Recording coordinates for possible trespass case.
Quick dinner stop. A little boy inside asks Dan "Are you a real cop?" and his mother answers, "Sort of."
Nice reminder of the dangers of autumn and spring driving in deer country.
No idea what the manufacturer calls this. I call it the deathgrip handle.
Consumer's Energy power line.
Illegal blind.
"Two or three year old" deer scent lure.
Where the heck does this plastic pipeline lead? We start looking around.
We find groomed trails everywhere. We have aircraft patrol reports of baits in this area, and continue our search.
Score one for tips and air recon. it's an illegal spin feeder, loaded, batteries in, set to spin three times daily. Next morning it is gone.
Dan carefully measures meat and ambient air temperatures. A call to Kelly Ross in Montmorency County the next morning tells us the doe had been dead 8 hours and 21 minutes when we found it. Science is a sweet thing.
Smoldering trash fire from the previous night.
After six hours in the RAZR, we switch back to the truck for night patrol. This baby possum is one of two to come visiting. As did a skunk. Coyotes sang, we heard the wings of an owl swoosh overhead and shooting stars flew as we awaited illegal shiners. Many hours into the night, the only light we've seen inside the truck is red and muted, and outside the truck, a half-moon is setting.