On the Road Too: 2011 Firearm Deer season

Mo Pix. Interesting stuff everywhere, if you take the time not just to look, but to see.  Over.

Looks like some sort of primitive artist's statement for a cedar swamp art show.
A ridealong's tools.
More light on the subject: Confiscated deer.
No idea who Theresa is, but obviously she means something to someone. Just another random UP sign.


Jason Niemi with confiscated deer.
Lunch while on patrol. Lonnie's venison meatloaf with jalepino mustard. Stop, assemble sandwiches, inhale, and press on..
Have seen 10 of these birds this year. Broadwinghawks, I think.
Camo Blind on edge of field. This blind built out of kindness for a man who probably didn't deserve such consideration.


Night patrol with Dave Painter, in a canyon of freshly cut logs...
Patriotic colors, emphatic langauge.
Better view of the 12 pt. Shot in Wisconsin, tagged in Michigan in 2009.


CO Niemi's partner until I arrive in Stephenson.
Oops, this gal flew into our rear right tire...


Think of this as bait art?
Road through a cedar swamp.Nature's fine art.
From the Random Department, a mower sits unattended and mostly unnoticed in da woods. Yoopers, like many rural residents think of the woods as a place to discard or abandon unwanted stuff.
Old Yooper hunting trophy: Buck nuts in brush....


I saw 15 pheasants in Menominee Co. Made me recall better days in the state when we had lots of these beautiful birds (which taste pretty good as well as look good).
And bounced away suddenly like one of Santa's reindeer.
This buck in a field midday. Has branch stuck in his antlers. He watched us for a long time....
Winking moon in deer season.
Game warden DIY: Storage space in the truck is where you find it.
Another DIY view. Never did meet the gents attached to the vehicle. They were off in the swamp.
Only in da Yoop. DIY as high art.
There was a time in a certain part of Iron County where many hunters came down from Quebec for the deer season. Signs like the one on the right still survive from that time.

On The Road: 2011 Firearm Deer Season

Friday, Nov. 11: I drove from Portage to Ford River to stay with friends. Radio filled with extreme poltiical gibberish. Reporters called velociraptor agitators. Obama called Barack Bin Laden, and referred to as Hard Left Left Liberal Socialist Secular Reformer, at same time announcer screaming that the President is resorting to dirty and negative political ads. A billboard declared: Feed Cows, Not Deer. No idea what that’s about. 

Saturday, Nov. 12: Out on patrol with CO Jared Ferguson in Delta Co. We spent half our day investigating an alleged violation called into the Report All Poach (RAP) Line in Lansing. Not a lot of hunters afield yet, though we found one untended and quite large campfire. Saw 10 deer during the day.

Sunday, Nov. 13: Drove from Ford River to Crystal Falls, jumped in with CO Jason (Whizzo) Wicklund. Worked all over the county’s north country, few hunters in camps, a trace of snow in woods. Dinner that night at the home of Lenny and Annie Brezek. Lenny is retired Chicago cop (Sgt) now dep with Iron Co. Great guy and chef. He had cop pals up from the city for deer hunting and the Lions-Bears game. Told story of moonlighting with White Sox and having contact with one of MLB’s major players who ordered him to call a cab and when Lenny asked for a name, the “star” whooshed, said, “Tell ’em Superman. ” So Lenny obediently made the call and the cab company refused to dispatch a vehicle and when “star” came back to demand where his cab said, Lenny reported, “It ain’t comin.’ They said if you’re Superman, you can fly by yourself.” There were many many more stories, all funny and interesting.[Saw 6 deer] Met two women and parents in north Iron County. They had three bucks and a doe and two tags left, all the animals taken with bow and arrows. Others are complaining about no deer while these women in same area are filling their tags. They offer us an apple when we visit. Nice to see people do it right, and enjoy themselves.

Monday, Nov. 14: With Whizzo Wicklund again. (Some fellow officers also  call him iPod because of his technical electronic prowess). In course of day met up with CO Dave Painter and retired CO Mike Holmes who had been to a camp where there was an untagged deer, illegal traps and a couple of questionable bear capes. Later Dave met up with Wisconsin Warden Kelly Crottie to followup on case from last night where deputies stopped an individual driving erratically,  with a firearm and a bunch of Wisconsin hunting licenses, not in his name. Turned out the licenses had been bought by the man’s lady friend, who works in Wisconsin, lives in Michigan, has mail box in Wisconsin, but collects Michigan welfare (or whatever it’s called nowadays). We ended the evening partnered with Painter  at a camp where inhaitantss declared they’d never done anything wrong or illegal in 40 years, and proceeded to name off all the DNR personnel they know. When one of the brethren was found with a loaded gun in his blind, they got very quiet.[Saw 35 deer today, including a humongo 10-point specimen in NW Iron Co.] Very few hunters around, most complaining about how few deer. Could be in part because many of them have no idea what they are doing?

Tuesday, Nov. 15: Firearm opener. I’m paired with Dave Painter, who has just been named Officer of the Year for Mi.  Today we found a guy from Chicago in a blind 35 yds from his truck in a small popup blind, all his gear brand new, his first time hunting ever. His partner was similarly arrayed down the road. Dave suggested they relocate. At dark we met iPod at another camp, where we found an untagged deer hanging. As others came into camp, some with loaded weapons, we heard how they do everything right and legal. As we talked to these folks an 85-yr old hunter with muscular dystrophy appeared on his 4 wheeler with an 11 pt buck loaded up, his rifle unloaded, helmet on, etc. Shot the buck, dragged it 200 yards to his 4 wheeler. Used his winch to load it, said he had to get on home because he had  tendency to fall down in the woods, which worried his wife. Old with a terrible disease, but doing things right. I think the irony was missed by the others. Dave an I saw 47 deer today as hunters whined they were seeing nada. Dinner with Mike and Sue Webster and we went back out looking for night shooters, with an interesting, long chase on some lights.

Wednesday, Nov 16: Five otters and six eagles were mingling on ice outside Mike and Sue Webster’s house as Dave Painter arrived to fetch me. Late day we encountered a 12-yr-old boy hunting alone in an overbaited blind.Hhe had driven a 4-wheeler to the blind down a highway with uncased gun because he couldn’t figure out how to afix the gun case to the vehicle. His aunt, a half-mile away, was supposed to be supervisiing and by time we talked to her we learned she was hunting on borrowed licenses, etc. the usual litany of malarkey and excuses. Saw 14 deer today.

Thursday, Nov. 17: Drove to Stephenson in Menominee County and met CO Jason Niemi, who had 1- point buck mount riding shotgun with him. Night before he was going to meet a farmer about a complaint, was early and made a random stop on a hunter coming out of the woods. Turned out the hunter was Wisconsin resident using borrowed Michigan tags. In course of conversation, hunter boasted he’d shot 12 pt buck in Wi last year and showed photo, only the photo showed a 2009 Michigan tag hanging off an antler, so Jason kept the photo and went to Marinette and confiscated the deer off a wall  as well. Turns out same person who loaned tags this year did same in 2009.  I jumped in with Jason, and we joined Wisconsin Warden Dave Oginski and the three of this drive to house in Wisconsin to talk to Mr. 12-Point, whose story changes and changes and changes until it is murky  soup. The man seems incapable of truth about even the most mundane items. He looks clean-cut and normal, claims to be an army vet. Has mounted deer all around his house. Turns out he bought them, but has been telling people he killed the animals and in some cases claiming he had shot state-record bucks, but nothing checks out and Dave and Jason stay on him for more than two hours. Michigan’s Retail Sales System shows the man has never held a Michigan hunting license; and Wisconsin records show he’s killed 29 deer on various ag permits over last five years, almost all does, though he has been bragging in MI he only shoots trophy bucks.  He tells us repeatedly how he has been victimized by life.  This victim story pops up very nearly every day we make contact with hunters. I forgot to count deer today.

Friday, Nov. 18: Picked up another borrowed license tonight. Last night’s subject has been nicknamed Chernobyl: A major disaster with continuing fallout. We have to go back to see him again, probably tomorrow. Saw 5 deer today. Very few hunters afield.

Saturday, Nov. 19: Oginsky spotted Chernobyl hunting in Wisconsin with a pal, and a buck and doe in truck bed. We went to revisit him again today.  A second Wisconsin warden went along. The man is a disaster. Saw no deer.

Sunday, Nov. 20: Checked camp with two hunters from downstate, on public land, two other hunters, a wife/mother and neice had gone home. Two deer hanging. Overbaited. Blinds not marked, illegal ORV trail and operating over a berm, etc . Something fishy about stories of who got one, and two bait piles. Jason wrote tickets for various infractions and told them we were going to talk to the wife/mother. En route to find cell coverage we spotted truck by fence and road and stopped to make quick check. Second man out was standoffish and stories didn’t mesh, so Jason got him aside and he confessed to tagging an 8-point with his mother’s license. We went to camp and took the deer. These were major landowners, presumably upstanding community citizens — doing same stuff the wingnuts are doing. Got out to cell coverage, called woman downstate. She told of three deer shot and two in camp not by who the men  claimed, both tagged wrong. We returned to the camp, found the men gone,  and took both animals, left paperwork and instructions to call, which they didn’t do until next morning. Saw 12 deer today. Dinner with Cpl Tery Short and CO Marv Gerlach.

Monday, Nov. 21: Went to Stephenson Office, met our “boys” from last night and got a confession for two deer. They denied shooting a button buck they wife/mother told us about. Wife claimed she shot doe, which her hubby tagged, and hubby shot button buck, which son shot spike horn. In DNR office, dad took the fall for all of it. After meeting the two men, I drove to Gaylord and pulled into the Torsky residence moments after Kristy. The southbound deer count on the bridge said it was up 66 percent over last year. Obviously lots of deer being taken, despite all the bitching on the west side.  Shortly there after Nick “One Word” called to say he’d gotten a spike. Did we want to take a ride? Sure. He picked us up and drove us to the deer where we held lights while he surgically gutted the animal, loaded it and headed home. It had been his day off.

Tuesday, Nov. 22: Paroled Otsego Co, and slipped down into northern Crawford. We met a retired Ohio police officer who told us his son had shot a 10 pt buck over in Thunder Bay River Country over by Alpena and after four days in camp needed to get home. Other guys wanted him to stay. He went inside, packed and came out to find deer gone from his truck. He asks the other guys. “Okay, where’ is it?” They swear they never bothered it. He starts looking, finds blood trail follows it, finds deer with haunch gone, antlers broken, bear tracks. The bear had gotten into the pickup bed and dragged the carcass away. We heard of 4-5 bears being sighted over time I was north, a couple of them large ones. Pretty funny story, I guess, if you’re not in the truck. Nick and I dropped a donated deer at a residence and talked to various hunters. At one point we encountered young driver weaving over center line and bumper sticker proclaiming: I DRIVE LIKE THIS TO PISS YOU OFF, and Nick pulled him over, learned he had unpaid ticket, was a suspect in a theft, and was cutting boughs on private property. Nick would go check that claim later. Kid is 20. Saw 6 deer, and at conclusion of the patrol I jumped in the Green Streamer and booked  south for home, Jambe Longue not expecting me until next day. Rained hard from Mt. Pleasant south. Just under 100 hours of patrols since I arrived in Yoop.

Themes for the season:

1. Not enough snow. Tuesday opener. Not sure how this connects to snow depth, but whatever…


2. Deer not in rut yet.


3. Not many deer being seen. (Oddly enough, not one  cry of the “wolves have eaten all the deer.”

4. Not many hunters. Lots of complaints about not seeing deer, though I personally saw at least 135 in the days I was up there.

5. Lots of people illegally loaning and borrowing licenses, and I am tempted to think it’s the economic times, but most doing it appeared to be in pretty good shape; more likely,  just wanting to cheat — to get away with something. COs spared them in writing tag violations. Fine is $50-500 with probable 2-yr loss of hunting privileges. Illegal deer charge would be five days in jail,  $1000 restitution, $400 costs, three years loss of privileges, possible loss of vehicles, equipment, guns.. Small no. of hunters could be due to economics and gas, though gas pices lower at this time than for months. Or it could be complaints about small deer numbers in Yoop in previous seasons, but there have been two consecutive light winters, lots of twin- and triplet- fawn sightings last two summers and lots of deer around.

6. Very few young hunters. Most 50-80, and few women. We used to have more than a million hunters, now something like 660,000 licenses sold. The sport gives lots of evidence of  fading away here. We had pretty good weather conditions, cold mornings, some tracking snow, but rut was only beginning in various counties. With a Tuesday start we figured wrongly next weekend would bring heavy pressure: It didn’t. A few photos follow. I have to steer clear of showing folks who’ve been ticketed but not yet adjudicated. Ergo, my photos tend to focus more on the surroundings and random sightings.  Some pix tonight, more tomorrow. Enjoy. Over. PS: Thanks to Darryl and Karla Shann, Mike and Sue Webster, Lenny and Annie Brezek, and Kristi and Nick Torsky  for various amenities and kindnesses.


Opening morning dawns.
Neither a county nor state road sign.
Decoration (Target) of Opportunity.
On foot in Northwest Iron County
Illegal otter pelts from the evidence locker.
Fresh evidence
Untended fire in Delta Co.


L-R: CO Ferguson, Old Fella, CO Wenzel at Esky office lot.

The Irrefutibility of Orange

The day I left Iron County for Menominee County a hunter was shot and killed in Iron. According to reports he was wearing the old style red check wool and a severely faded orange cap. Attached is a photo of Jambe Longue’s brother and fam in low light. Note how the orange stands out on her nephew Grant even in poor light conditions. Take heed. Over.

Why orange for hunters...

November Disease and Back To BTB

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Got back from a couple of weeks in the western UP on Tuesday night. Great trip and as always wonderful learning times with our state’s conservation officers. Very few hunters in counties I worked, and all of them complaining about lack of deer, yet we saw deer all summer, and saw lots when we drove on patrols, and  the bridge deer count was up 66% when I crossed Monday afternoon. CO Jason Wicklund (Iron County) and I had a close encounter with a massive 10-point buck in Iron County: in fact, one second later he would have collided with us and ended up in the bed of the truck. Talk about a monster! And then he stood 30 yards away and stared at us for a long time before walking leisurely away.  CO Jason Niemi (Menominee County) coined a new phrase for individuals who can’t not hunt big bucks illegally: Buckular Dystrophy. I think this term might have legs for the future. More on the trip later, when I have photos dumped.  Meanwhile I’ll share a couple from CO Dave Painter [Iron County] who was named the DNR’s 2011 Officer of the Year, a huge honor, and well deserved. Congrats to Dave and thanks for the pix.  Enjoy families, friends, good food and football today. Lions and Packers: I am truly conflicted. I was a passionate Packer Backer when I lived north, but transitioned to the Lions down here, as much for penance as for the love of football. Ah, so it goes.  A hunter was killed by another hunter in Iron County the day I drove down to Menominee County to meet Niemi. A CO was first on the scene. Be careful out there. Over.

Even in Dave's presence the bear's attention was caught by something else and it stood to try to figure out what it was. This is truly an amazing photo.
CO Dave Painter was coming back to his truck in September when lo and behold, what appeared in front of him?

Scampaigns and Puff-and-Stuff

Not ready for winter duds...

The politicos are really at it already… Weird.  Limpy would call all these things “scampaigns.” State of Ohio just crushed governor’s law there attempting to bust unions. Mississippi folks overwhelmingly said no to definition of life law, and GOP contender Cain is in the cauldron with various allegations popping up from women alleging various misbehaviors. The problem with coming forward so many years later always makes one wonder why charges not filed at the time of the events, but it will all out in the wash.  Most importantly is this: As newspapers die and fade to electronic homogeneity, and with fewer reporters, the public will get less and less information about people who want to have power over our lives. The potential demise of journalism is too ugly to contemplate and even my friends who always badmouth the media will one day find they’ve lost too. An aggressive free press helps us all. They also may sometimes piss us off because they print things we’d rather not hear. The blogosphere is NOT the same. Blogs are by definition opinion and there is nobody refereeing or evaluating such opinion. Blogs are not news, though in the future they may serve that function in a false way. Contrary to what some fools think now, journalists have ethics and standards they must live up to.  I saw very good interview with CBS’s Lara Logan yesterday, talking about the problems of field reporting (in an occasional series hosted by former newsman Marvin Kalb). Logan reminds me of reporters of old. Sad to loose folks like that. Enough whinging. TV says the UP may get a foot of snow today….sheesh. Over

Uh, About Some Uh…So-Called…Uh…Hunters

The following news release was distributed by the Illinois DNR two days ago. It seems appropos to my comment last night about the effect of poachers vs wolves.  Note where the majority of alleged miscreants are from….
Take a close look, then think about effect poaches have on deer populations.

IDNR Conservation Police Charge 5 Individuals in Deer Poaching Case 

Largest buck valued at $25,000   

Nov. 7, ,2011: Springfield, IL –   The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Law Enforcement announced recent charges filed in Cook and Sangamon counties against five men from Illinois and Michigan. The arrests came after a five month long deer poaching investigation. Illinois DNR Conservation Police conducted an investigation into a group of hunters who were taking several trophy-quality whitetail deer. After a thorough investigation with the assistance of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, five hunters were charged with committing numerous Wildlife Code violations involving 31 whitetail deer. The largest buck, taken in Cook County, was a large non-typical deer scoring 213 5/8 inches and valued at $25,000. “This is yet another example of the outstanding efforts made by the dedicated officers and staff within the IDNR Conservation Police,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “No matter what the season, Conservation Police are out there everyday watching, investigating and arresting those who break the law in an effort to protect the sport for the majority of outdoorsmen and women who choose to follow the law.” “The IDNR Office of Law Enforcement takes deer poaching very seriously,” said IDNR Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez. “IDNR Conservation Police will do everything within our power to ensure that unlawful hunters are punished and prosecuted in order to protect our natural resources for the legal sportsmen who hunt in our state.” 

The 5 individuals involved in the investigation are being charged in Illinois with 42 violations for unlawfully taking deer, some of which were trophy deer worth thousands of dollars. These individuals were charged with the following (all are Cook County charges unless otherwise noted): 

Louis C. Bergsma (age 35 from Galena, IL) 
2 counts of unlawfully hunting on private property without permission from the landowner 
2 counts of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer with an invalidated archery deer permit 
1 count of failure to tag whitetail deer upon recovery 
2 counts of unlawful possession of a whitetail deer taken in violation of administrative rule 
1 count of unlawfully hunting without a valid non-resident hunting license 
1 count of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer without a State Habitat Stamp. 
2 counts of falsifying IDNR harvest records (Sangamon Co.) 
1 count of failure to report harvest as required (Sangamon Co.) 

Jonathan P. Bergsma (age 33 from Ada, MI) 
2 counts of accessory to unlawfully hunting on private property without permission from the landowner 
2 counts of accessory to unlawfully hunting whitetail deer with an invalidated archery deer permit 
2 counts of accessory to the unlawful possession of a whitetail deer taken in violation of administrative rule 
1 count of unlawfully hunting without a valid non-resident hunting license 
1 count of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer without a State Habitat Stamp 
1 count of falsifying IDNR harvest records (Sangamon Co.) 

Douglas J. Bergsma (age 60 from Rockford, MI) 
1 count of unlawfully hunting on private property without permission from the landowner 
1 count of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer with an invalidated archery deer permit 
1 count of unlawful possession of a whitetail deer taken in violation of administrative rule 
1 count of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer without a State Habitat Stamp 
1 count of falsifying IDNR harvest records (Sangamon Co.) 
1 count of failure to report harvest as required (Sangamon Co.) 

Daniel E. Bergsma (age 27 from Ada, MI) 
2 counts of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer with an invalidated archery deer permit 
2 counts of unlawful possession of a whitetail deer taken in violation of administrative rule 
2 counts of falsifying IDNR harvest records (Sangamon Co.) 

Tom E. Hedke (age 33 from Caledonia, MI) 
1 count of accessory to unlawfully hunting on private property without permission from the landowner 
2 counts of accessory to unlawfully hunting whitetail deer with an invalidated archery deer permit 
2 counts of accessory to the unlawful possession of a whitetail deer taken in violation of administrative rule 
2 count of unlawfully hunting without a valid non-resident hunting license 
2 count of unlawfully hunting whitetail deer without a State Habitat Stamp 

Additional charges are pending. If anyone has information about illegal activities in the field, they are encouraged to call the IDNR Target Illinois Poacher Hotline at 1-877-2DNRLAW (1-877-236-7529). 


The Time Approaches

Packing tomorrow for time with COs. It’s always exciting right about now as the early cheats start working (and often get caught). Don’t know if any of you read most recent bi-weekly report, but COs found moosehead on a rock in SW Marquette Co, which is where Limpy Allerdyce resides. The dopes who killed the moose put a sign by the head that read, “The wolfs won’t get this one.” Ironically, the total number of deer wolves have killed since their return in the late 90s, is less than the number killed by violators and poachers annually.  Thought I’d share some things from earlier this season.


Silverado Still Life


Your basic illegal ORV trail.
With Ellen Airgood (South of Superior) at Deer Park Lodge in September. Ellen's a great writer. Treat yourself.
At first glance the wood structure just left of center looks like a moose head in the water.
CO Derek Miller tawkin' to the dawgs...
Accommodations in the foret royale


Cedar face.
Baby eagle on road kill. Pal Mike Brown pulled the deer into the woods to keep eagles from being hit by vehicles. We call juvenile eagles baby eagles, shortened to "beagles."
Beaver pond birch on a gorgeous day.

Road Show Continues (Readings, Etc)

More photos from recent goings-on.


Camp signs always amuse, and sometimes edify.
Nature's twist, or Native American Signal Tree?
Wife Donna assists Grady Service's official geographer into Knights of Columbus regalia. The famous licensed Michigan fisherman looks a bit demented, but he was Navy, so that helps explain it.


Autograph for Julie Gates at FOP meeting in Grayling.


Speaking at Escanaba. The word Ghoti on the board is pronounced "fish." Trust me on that.
Darryl Shann introduces me at Escanaba Public Library
Sylvia Benavidez introducing me at Books and More in Albion, and I'm wondering," Is that ME she's talking about?"

More From the Road Show

Dawned on us today that there are other photos on separate memory sticks. Will dump those later and share. Meanwhile: 


Old time hunting camp, tarpaper and all.
Snake in the rocks. (Copperbelly)
Mike Brown with spent coho.
Moonlace night.
Old Man, Old Fish
Check that face. I swear it looks human!
Hey Poppy, is that food up there!!!
Flicker in the Grass
Erosion above the Manistique River
Coho Closeup
Better picture of the Upper Tahq


Beaver slide.