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27 May

A Lilabita Histoire of Da Deeennah

Some bits and info from the 1927-1928 Chief Game, Fish and Fire Warden’s  Report to the Guv.

Approximately 150 full-time conservation officers on duty in this period. As an aside, the state had a population of 4.8 million people in 1930 and growth was happening at a furious pace in 1927, so we had one CO per 32,000 citizens. If you add in the 400 unpaid voluntary or honorary conservation officers of then, the ratio falls to to 1:8800. It is now 2010, 90 years later, our population just under 10 million and we have about 170 officers in the field for a ratio of 1:57,647.

By comparison, in 2009 the population of Oakland County was about 1.2 million. Number of COs? That would be dos for an officer-to-citizen ratio of 1:600,000. Voluntary conservation officers are no longer utilized anywhere in our state.

By these numbers, how important is fish and game conservation to our idiot-stick state legislators? Uh, Not very, to not at all? Words are cheap ladies and gents of our legislature.

Compensation for COs in 1927-28 was $3.50/ day up to $2000 a year for the district wardens ( multiple county positions, roughly akin to a DNR lieutenant nowadays]. For reference, a 1927 dollar would be worth $12.20 today. The average workweek is 40 hours. COs today start at salaries of $36,500 and this goes up to $52,509 over five years.

COs were responsible for reporting local economic conditions as they related to forests and wildlife. They also removed all vehicle-killed deer from county roads.

Act No. 108, passed in 1913 was our first state hunting license law, but required a license only if you hunted outside your home county. No license necessary in your home county. In 1917 the law was changed to required a license for hunting in any county. Our license rates are if not the lowest in the United States, at the very bottom because legislators lack the political cajones to get them up to where we should be.

Our COs have had the power of seizure of violator equipment — guns-nets-boats-fishing rods- autos-trucks –  since the teens, but our state is almost timid in taking such actions. Anywhere else in the United States or Canada, if you break fish and game law, they take everything you are using and you pay humongous fines on top of this. Yoo-hoo, state legislators, open your eyes, or at least move them away from your video phone or Blackberry. And yoo-hoo, conservationists of all stripes and hues and designs will support more aggressive legislation in the defense and preservation of our natural resources. Either grow some political cajones, or rent some, but get to it. We are all sick and tired of Lansing’s pathetic, whining game-playing.  Political parties play while citizens pay. And by the way, it seems to me that the problem with elected officials is not their term limits, but the lack of term limits for their support staff. As it happens, elected officials come and go, but the unelected staffs remain, sometimes for decades, and guess where the real powers reside in Lansing, sportsfans.

The 1927-1928 DNR Districts were as follows:

District # 1: Ontonagon-Gogebic

District # 2: Houghton-Keweenaw-Baraga

District #3: Marquette – West half of Alger

District #4: Iron-Dickinson

District #5: Delta-Menominee

District #6: Chippewa- Mackinac

District #7: Schoolcraft-Luce-East half of Alger

District #8: Emmet-Charlevoix-Antrim-Cheboygan

District #9: Otsego-Presque Isle-Montmorency-Alpena

District #10: Alcona-Oscoda-Iosco-Ogemaw.

District #11: Crawford-Kalkaska-Roscommon-Missaukee

District #12: Leelanau-Grand Traverse- Benzie-Manistee-Wexford

District #13: Mason-Lake-Osceola-Mecosta-Newaygo

District #14: Oceana-Muskegon-Kent-Ottawa

District #15: Montcalm-Ionia-Gratiot-Clinton-Ingham-Livinston-Shiawassee-Genessee

District #16: Clare-Gladwin-Arenac-Isabella-Midland-Saginaw-Bay

District #17: Macomb-Lapeer-St. Clair-Tuscola-Sanilac-Huron

District #18: Jackson-Washtenaw-Lenawee-Wayne-Oakland-Monroe

District #19: Barry-Eaton-Kalamazoo-Calhoun-Branch-Hillsdale

District #20: Allegan-Van Buren- Berrien- Cass- St. Joseph

With the latest reorganization, we now have 9 districts in the state, two above the bridge and seven BTB. Over.

26 May

Moose on the Loose

Jeff King shares his photos with us, both taken this past April within 10 days of each other, one moose near Hessel, the other near Au Train. Like I said, they are there to be seen. Saw Robin Hood movie tonight. Has there ever been a bad Robin Hood movie? This one is a sort of prequel to the story we all know.  Errol Flynn still gets my vote for the best of the Robins. Fun. Over, wot.

Au Train Moose, April 2010

Mackinac Moose, April 2010

26 May

The Rest of the Story

US Steel in River Rouge. Outfalls attract fish. Fish attract fishermen. Fishermen attract conservation officer and so the world turns.

Had a few more pix from the Detroit trip to share, so here goes.  Also have a coupla moose pix from Yoop to share, soon as I get the green light. Over.

Downtown from the state park marina. See the fog starting to suggest itself?

People just toss "trash fish" on the bank and leave them to rot. This is a garfish someone didn't want.

Goodbye wabbit. A story crying to be told. But not by me.

Bye to the Tire on 94, heading out of town.

Ghost town. This is how downtown looked as I departed Saturday afternoon. Note the bluebird sky.

By Ypsilanti, this was the sky. I paid special notice to the little funnel just right of midnight, watching to see if it grew or dropped, which it didn't.

No traffic downtown, but on I-94 near Chelsea, whoops.

23 May

Motown Postscript…Mon Kameraden

Remember the razzing I got about what I might see in the the UP vs Detroit? To finish the thought:

THIS is what you don't see in Detroit, sportsfans! Except in the zoo. To tell the truth this photo is from Mrs. God's friend in Alaska, but it happened to pop into my email as I was writing the blog and I just knew I had to work it in. The thing is, you CAN see moose like this in the Yoop. I've heard.

23 May

Downtown Motown DNR Hoedown

Below River Rouge. One boat stands off while we finish with another group. Tanker cruises past toward the Canadian side.

Checking fishermen as the People Mover growls past the Joe...

First CO truck I've seen in such a setting.

"Let's take a walk out to the truck and talk about this."

Wait, wait, is that Joe Louis through the trees?

Wrestling is choreographed; hockey is not.

We don't have THAT move in hockey. Or her.

Arnold Palmer: Da Drink

Big family on the move.

Naturally, with all the time I've spent up north with COs in the more rural and less populated parts of the state; I got kidded a bit by the Detroit officers. You know:" Bet you don't see that in the U.P." And they were right. For example, here is the view from my 8th floor hotel window. You really can't see this in the U.P. or in northern Michigan, except for a trick shot you might arrange in Marquette.

See your licenses, gents?

The Fog comes in, the fog rolls out… Caesar’s in Windsor.

Sarge readies the boat.

From the Totally Random Department. Caddy with a carpet cover on the trunk. Speculate all you like. We did.

More Motown Randomicity. Doll in parking lot of boat ramp. Got no 'splanations on this one, either.

Precisely a week ago Friday, we were in Otsego County fishing for brook trout on the Black River. A week later, my gear is in Sgt. Art Green’s TAhoe and we are  moving from fishing site to fishing site CO Lacelle Rabon, checking shore fishermen hauling in white (silver) bass, white perch and catfish, though some sought walleyes and were to be disappointed. This was my first time with officers in Detroit and it was a great learning experience. Totally professional officers, great teamwork and total focus on the job. The number of public contacts officers in District 9 (HQ: Southfield) make are astounding, but given the millions of population concentration, not so surprising.

Sgt. Green picked me up at the Holiday Inn Express on Washington Boulevard a little late. En route he’d had to detour around some sort of mass stoppage on I-75, and then a young woman had nearly clipped him, driving out of control,  so he pulled her over. Suspended license. She was dressed in little slippers and a bikini bottom and not much else. She could not understand why she was being ticketed. The sergeant’s parting comment, “Put some clothes on.”

Our first stop was the fishing site at the end of the famous Alter Road. I tried to keep track, but it was difficult with so many stops and so many contacts with so many individuals. Alter Road, Mariner Park, Harding Street Creek, Bishop Park, Elizabeth Park, we worked our was eastward from just outside the Gross Pointes down to Trenton or thereabouts. Everywhere we went there were people, not as many as they would expect on a nicer day (no rain or squalls), but a lot.  Besides tons of humanity, other factors make working the CO jobs complex in this are. Later, look for a photo with a map of all the courts officers need to be familiar with and in whose jurisdictions they issue citations year-round. Add to this that different parts of the Detroit River have different take and keep limits for various species, that Canadians have their own laws and so too does Ohio and the layers of complexity add up fast.

But it is what it is and the officers keep an even keel and professional demeanor. Citations are written for trespass, over-limits, and not having fishing licenses. Also some discussion of various equipment employed.

Sgt. Green started as a Detroit Police Department cop in the 80s, served as a security policeman in the USAF and later moved to the DNR. Both he and CO Rabon started their DPD careers, walking beats. Lacelle walked a midnight beat and said sergeants used to put matches on car door handles to make sure their officers were rattling and checking every vehicle door to make sure there had not been a break-in.  They both said they were told when they began with DPD that a beat cop should never get wet from rain or snow, or hungry, or tired, that he should know all the places he needed to be or could go to to take care of his daily needs. They said right out of the gate they got two two-week furloughs yearly, one in summer, another in winter. Officer Rabon actually retired from the DPD in 1994, grew quickly bored, and joined DNR law enforcement in 1995.

Both men are native Detroiters and regaled me with city history, and DNR and police department stories, like a call comes in that a guy is peddling down Jefferson with a sturgeon draped over the handlebars, looking for a buyer, or someone is at the corner of such and such, selling fish to passersby.

Their favorite story was of the late Greektown Stella, an elderly woman who used to show up at the Wayne County Jail and DPD garage where she would spend most of her days.   She used to shower in the garage.She spoke mostly Greek and used to yell at parked cars. She knew all the cops, hung her laundry in the area, and so on and when she died, it turned out she was extremely wealthy, though she looked homeless. Her actual name, sources indicate was Stella Paris.  Apparently she was schizophrenic, but she wanted to be in Greektown, so the community sort of adopted her. They even got her an apartment, but she preferred the ways of the street.  She wore a World War II nursing uniform and carried a billy club given to her by the DPD for her protection. She died earlier this year, loved by many, claimed by none that I can determine.

CO Rabon referred to NO TREPASSING signs  as “decorations” because so few people heed them.

We were rained on throughout the day and as we moved along met up with others officers, as we all worked our way toward a particular central destination.

The day’s patrol included  Wayne County COs Green and Rabon (the elder statesman); Oakland County COs Ben Shively and Brandon Kieft; Macomb County’s COs Kris Kiel and Todd Szyska; and Monroe County COs Mark Ennett,  Danny Walzak, and Jon Sklba, the youngest and newest member of the multi-county team.

Midday the sergeant conducted an area meeting for his officers  and then it was back on work. At one downriver park the COs related the story of an officer who once jumped into a civilian’s boat as he came into the ramp,  and yelled, “Follow that boat!” as a anglers with a boatload of illicit fish saw the COs and headed back into the river to dump them.

We walked a lot.

Saturday began at 0845 and once again ten minutes later we were to the east and checking licenses and a gentleman claimed he left his at home. A call to Lansing to the Retails Sales System showed this not to be true and the man gave a false ID, so he was escorted to the truck, obviously nervous. Sgt Green said to him, “Look, I need your real name and identity, otherwise we’re going to take a ride to 1300 Beaubien. The man actually stepped back. He did not want to make that ride, which is the address for the HQ for the Detroit Police Department. Came out finally that he had no license and didn’t want to be ID’s for fearing he would lose his job. All he had to do was tell the truth and the officers probably would have given him a verbal warning, told him to stop fishing and asked him to go get a license right then. But he lied. This is normal behavior for DNR contacts, in the UP and on the Detroit Riverfront.

As we checked shore fishermen behind Joe Louis Arena we saw a lot of boats out front, probably looking for walleye, so we headed to Milliken State Park where a DNR boat is kept and Sgt. Green prepped it and off into the river we went, just as a heavy fog descended on the river. It lasted about 30-40 minutes as we went from boat to boat, checking fishing licenses, fish buckets, fire extinguishers, PFDs, boat registrations, etc. Then we roared down to River Rouge and made some contacts near the US Steel plant where there are water outflows that attract fish year-round. Just about every boat we stopped had some sort of problem, but the officers offerred more warnings than wrote tickets. For the most part everything remained copacetic, although one fisherman with an expired registration roared away in a fit after getting his ticket. So it goes.

At the Joe there were 9 or 10 gaudy 18-wheelers unloading WWE gear for a sunday show to be called “Over the Limit.” Wrestling itself is over the limit in my view, but I’m just one opinion. Millions disagree. Nevertheless I took some great enjoyment in the visual aspects of the wrestling trucks.

In fact both days were visually interesting and I’ve tried to capture the sense of it. After ten years of bouncing around with COs on two-tracks, it was very different to be doing resource protection in a major urban setting. The thing is, the job is pretty uniform in terms of informing the public, protecting the resource and each other, and backing up other police agencies.

Moving east Saturday midday we came across an EMS truck, lights going, sitting in a center lane, nobody in the front, so we stopped to make sure they were okay. They had come across a gent who had had a diabetic attack and was parked in the middle of the street, not moving. So they moved him into the EMS truck and moved the man’s van to a lot across the street. And after glucose treatment to get his blood sugars up the man was demanding to go home instead of to a the emergency room.  The EMS guys thanked the COs for checking and we moved on.

Out across from the St. Clair Shores Coast Guard station we saw a guy catch a smallmouth bass as we drove up (season there not on till mid-June. The guy threw the fish back, broke down his rod and tried to peddle his bicycle off the pier, but the officers stopped him. Yes he has license but he left it at home. Computer shows he hasn’t bought license in two years. He sits somberly, says thank you when the ticket is handed to him. We stopped for lunch at Fishbones (turkey burger is unreal) and we drank Arnold Palmers, half fresh lemonade and half freshly made iced tea. Wonderful drink!

Off a spot they call Nine Mile we saw a family of geese with either 18 or 19 goslings, the most any of us have ever seen. And finally,the  animal count for the trip:41 deer, 1 great blue heron, 3 woodchucks, 1 muskrat,4 dead deer, 8 sand hill cranes and 2 turkeys. Many of the deer were in Wayne County. Great time. Over.

Da Joe

These are all the courts Detroit COs have to contend with and each has its own rules.

Leaving a checkpoint. From left: CO Shively, Kieft, Szyska, Kiel.

Sergeant Green checking suspicious line in a side channel.

CO Lacelle Rabon. Lacelle is 63 (going on 40) and may give us hope for Grady Service's potential longevity.

The Sarge "chats up" the public.

Comparing Notes, Officers from Left: Kiel, Green, and Shively.

"Okay, let us get this straight, but you have nearly 75 fish for two people, but your buddy's kid is also with you and he went to McDonald's with a friend and he ought to be back anytime? Are you SURE?"

CO Kiel counting fish. I did not one time witness a citizen accurately indicating the number of fish they had unless it was only two or three in the bucket.

Tactical Planning: From left, Officers Rabon, Szyska, Shively, Ennett.

Standing in truck bed is CO Jon Sklba, showing the take he and Officers Walzak and Ennett took that morning before we joined up -- hundreds of fish over the limit of 25 per person. From left, Sklba, Kieft (back to camera), Kiel, Walzak, Green.

19 May

Fire Season is Upon Us

Scenes that give you chills.

Word last night from Up North. Fire-burn at estimated 5,000 acres. It originated in Crawford County.  Several COs were dispatched to evaluate conditions and home sites, check camps, etc. At this point it seems the fire began south and east of M-18 and M-72 and moved south and west, jumping F97 and M-18 [where it runs almost true north-south]  a second time, almost all of this time in 15-20 foot jackpines and of course it crowned before if finally went back down  to the ground and headed for some heavy hardwoods. It was generallyl headed for Roscommon, but had not crossed Chase Bridge as of 10 p.m. last night. DNR Fire and others will be looking to get a line around the fire today. Thanks to CO Rebecca “Sunshine”  Hopkins for photos.

Remember, everything up north is badbadbad dry, the rivers are at mid-summer low levels in some places (months early) and even if you have burn permits, be damn careful what you are doing. Once a fire gets out of your control nothing  good can happen. Over.

Crown fire, up close and personal

Fire Containment equipment moving in.

18 May

Sulfur Spinners

Below is an example of a beautiful wild brown taken a couple of nights ago  on a sulfur spinner somewhere up dere on dat  Au Sable.

Casey's Dandy Brown: Not easy landing gorilla like that on a dry fly on 5X tippet, as Slingblade might say, Unggg-Huhh.

a couple of nights ago.

17 May

How Paintings Are Born, Approximately Speaking…

I call this Pigeon Still Life. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, this old boy seems pretty set in his ways and there for the long haul.

Paper Birch in Shedding Phase

Some look at this and think, Flaws. I see perfection and possibilities on a canvas.

Given the role of Jell-O mode in the new Grady Service novel, this sign at Gates Lodge made me laugh out loud!

Totally gnarly, dudes...

Paper in the Sun

The Definition of Lush

Calls for stealth, obviously.

These things captured my eyes in the Pigeon and thereabouts. Enjoy. Over.

17 May

Back From Saturn…

This, friends, is how classic brook trout water looks.

And this aspiring tree-carver is trying to say what?

Booksellers, that is — in  Gaylord, gateway to Pigeon River Country. We had a great turnout for the signing on Saturday. Friday was spent in a trout stream in the Pigeon River Country (Or Big Wild, if you prefer) with Dave Smethurst and cigar-chewing trout hunter John Bebow. The river was up a few inches, which made wading interesting. The photo opportunities are fantastic and chance of seeing elk or bear terrific, especially if you hit a stretch like this that requires walking into.  Animal count for the trip: 40 turkeys, 2 bald eagles, 3 kingfishers, 5 redtail hawks, 9 great blue herons, 2 sandhill cranes,  2 woodchucks, a bunny, a single live deer, and 13 dead ones, which is a lot less than the previous trip up north. Saturn Bookseller owner Jill Miner did a terrific job setting up the event and her staff was friendly and helpful.

Dave Smethurst, retired high school principal, was once the resident caretaker/manager of Blue Lakes on the Black River, where God and I fished more than a decade ago on the advice of pal Glen Sheppard. Dave was also a long-time VCO for Conservation Officer John Geminder, who was the first CO to actually reside in the Pigeon River Country in order to reduce the amount of poaching going on back then — when locals used to actually have semi-public “elk roasts.” It ain’t like that any more. Officers like Geminder, Ackerberg, Bezotte, Ross, Torsky, DePew, et al have seen to that. Illegally kill an elk, or kill any moose or wolf in our state and COs will literally turn summersaults to hunt you down and prosecute you.

From brook trout scouting it was off to Gaylord Little League for games play in gale-force winds.

In any event, enjoy the photos. If you haven’t seen Michigan’s PRC, you’ve missed a gem. Later I’ll do a little bit on trees, paper birch and trees people carve into.


The formula: black water, black river, brook trout. And check the great cover on the right bank.

Uh, better watch your backcast...

Trout cover fantastique.

Yello Doors of Saturn. Or is it rings? I can't remember.

Dew done dropped.

Jambe Longue working the bubble line.

Five-Star Trout Hotel

Learning to See. From afar, the cedar looks thus...

which causes you to looker closer...

stepping closer you see this...

and then you get REALLY close and it doesn't even look like the same thing!

Up North puts you in the mood for Up North Humor...

and then there is Up North Clerical Humor, this on garage at Gaylord St. Mary's. The unspoken message here is "Nor argue about it, either."

"You tawkin ta me, Bub?"

Chugging into third, Mizz Anna is deciding whether to slide, or put out wher wings and fly.

Czar Nicholas has excellent form on the his follow-through...

Me N a Cupla bookies with nothing ta do on a Saturday...and uh, I should uh, esplain, as Limpy Allerdyce might,"dat by bookies, I mean dose book 'hoffalicianaoos, youse know, edderkated pipples can read dose books widdout pitchers?'" Flanking me are Linda Atkinson and Gene Petruska lawyers, which always makes one nervous to be in the presence of....

10 May

Fish-Minded (Mostly)

Trout streams in the very near future and I have been going through files and old photos.  Several got my attention.

okay, nothing to do with trout, but inspiring nonetheless. Meself with Himself, Dennis Murphy Esquire of the Auld Sod -- in Ireland met'inks!

Au Sable Big Water Gorilla Brown. Nice to think about, but my mind will be on brookies this trip.

Au Sable North Branch brook trout. Ah...more like it.

I think I stumbled upon this in France when I snuck away from a meeting to fish for trout in some ponds not far from where we were gathered. Nah, neither the tree nor the sign stopped me!

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