The Outdoors Is Certainly Beautiful

lhg-adminFriends of ELO, Spring Fling

By:  Tom Lounsbury “A great program for introducing women and girls to the outdoors!” For a long time, hunting especially was pretty much a “men only” pastime,  although there were certainly exceptions, women who ignored status quo and  went hunting. Annie Oakley is a prime example, who ventured into this  atmosphere at an early age when her father died, leaving her mother and large  family destitute. She would start hunting, first to feed her family, and then to  provide an income (market hunting was legal in her era). Annie would sell game to  a growing list of customers and because ammunition cost money, she learned to  make each shot count, causing her to become one of the most remarkable  shooters in history.  She would pay off the mortgage on her family farm when she  was only 15 years old and go on to become famous in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  Thanks to my late mother, I was introduced to hunting at the wee age of  three when I was her “pooch” for pheasant hunting. She was a crack shot with her  single-shot Iver Johnson 20 ga, having been taught to shoot by older brothers and  hunting for her family larder during the Great Depression. Mom learned to make  each shot count, because ammunition cost money, an attitude she passed on to  me when she taught me to shoot. She also could care less about any status quo  stuff about “men only” pastimes, and she passed that attitude on to me as well.  Needless to say, when Ron Sting of the DNR asked if I would help with a wild  turkey seminar/hunt for a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) it was a  no-brainer for me to jump right in. BOW was first created in 1991 and is now  found in 44 states (including Michigan) and 9 Canadian Provinces. The recent BOW program took place at the Cass City DNR Field Office, starting with a wild turkey seminar there on Friday, May 12th, and a hunt with mentors on Saturday, May  13th. Ron Sting did an outstanding job arranging everything and the seminar  involved every aspect of turkey hunting, with knowledgeable speakers on each topic. This was followed by actual shooting at “turkey” targets.  Since I have a backyard shooting range and my home is only a couple miles  from the Cass City DNR Field Office, the shooting portion was performed there.  Some ladies had their own shotguns and some did not, and Ron Sting made sure  all were fitted out and comfortable with shooting and putting an accurate pattern  centered on the turkey target, entailing the all important head/neck shot.  One (13 year old) young lady was totally unaccustomed to firearms and very  nervous, and DNR Conservation Officer Seth Rhodea (who had earlier given a talk  on turkey hunting ethics and safety) spent some one-on-one time with the young  lady, off to the side and performing dry-firing exercises with an empty shotgun. As  a result, the young lady was soon confidently hammering targets with a 20 ga and  thoroughly enjoying it. In fact I could see all the ladies were enjoying it, and it was  a real pleasure watching them all take their turn at eagerly shooting away at their  targets, followed by examining the results of the shot, and the obvious confidence  this created. There was no doubt in my mind, if a turkey hunting opportunity  happened for any of these ladies, a gobbler was going down.   Ron Sting had put the BOW information out with a cap for 10 ladies to  participate, and in only two days he had an overwhelming response and it became  a first come, first serve situation, with 11 attending, and some from as far away as  Grand Rapids. Each woman had a mentor to take them turkey hunting and matters  would begin with breakfast at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning at the Cass City DNR  Field Office, immediately followed by hunters and their mentors heading out to  pre-selected areas, some on state land and some on private land.  I had two ladies riding with me in my Jeep; Debra Robinson of Macomb and  Pam Walton of Lapeer, and we were heading out to meet with Bob Walker of  Kingston. Bob had very generously agreed to lend a hand and had arranged a  perfect spot for the two ladies to hunt. Bob would mentor Pam and I would  mentor Debra and in no time we were all headed our separate ways into the  woods. Deb and I would be in a wooden ground blind literally constructed into a  hillside, which reminds me of a bunker with a shooting window. While Deb got  situated in the blind, I set out two hen decoys with one at 15 yards and the other  at 20 yards for a known range reference. I then quickly got back into the blind,  because the gray light of dawn was fast approaching. Deb was sitting to the left  and I to the right, and I told her to load her gun at he get go. She had purchased  it used and it was dandy vintage Winchester pump 20 ga with an adjustable Poly-Choke at the muzzle, which she had cranked to the  “full” position. We had learned the evening before that this shotgun was a great  performer with #6, 3 inch Magnum turkey loads, which Deb had a great time  shooting. I knew she and her gun were a perfect fit and she would do her part if I  could do mine.  To keep matters simple, I only had two turkey calls which were my “Ben  Lee” box call (which I purchased in the early 1980’s and is a collector’s item) and a  simple to use Quaker Boy “Easy Yelper” which only requires holding in one hand  and pushing a wooden rod. I wanted Deb to see things could get done without a  whole bag–full of gadgets and calls. My long recommendation to new turkey  hunters is to only start with one call and learn to use it well before moving on to  another call. I generally only take two calls out when I’m turkey hunting as it is,  and I prefer only friction types including the pan/slate calls. I’ve found the mouth  diaphragms don’t blend well at all with my chewing tobacco. After almost 50 years  of turkey hunting I’ve developed some instincts which are purely gut-feelings which come out of nowhere and I can’t quite put it into words. All I can say  is that when the woods lightened up and starting time was on I went to (hen) purring  mixed in with an occasional cadence of (hen) yelps on my box call. I’ve heard it said  that too much calling isn’t a good thing, but I’ve seen the occasion when you really  can’t talk too much turkey, and my gut feeling let me know this was an occasion to really  lay it on.  We got an immediate response from left to right of 3 gobblers, and in a  matter of seconds Deb and I knew the far right gobbler was incoming and closing  the gap. That is when a fourth gobbler cut loose directly behind us less than 10  yards away. I immediately stuck my hand out the window (which the gobbler  couldn’t see from behind us) and I let out a long drawn and very whining purr with  the Easy Yelper to give the gobbler the idea a hen directly downhill was real interested  in his advances. I was sitting with my back to the door when I felt the vibration a gobbler  can send out as it drums, and I knew the bird was standing right next to the door while  it looked over our blind’s roof at the hen decoys below. I whispered to Deb to  freeze and not to even blink, and then the gobbler suddenly appeared at point  blank range on Deb’s side of the window as it eased down the hill toward the  decoys. He was one of the largest gobblers I have ever called in, with a long and  thick beard. With its head up and moving around, this sharp-eyed bird had a 360 degree  … Read More

Bear Hunting When Conventional Wisdom Ain’t Workin’

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears

Michigan’s bear hunting permit system can challenge anyone’s patience ..including mine.  After all, it is managed by the Dept. of Natural Resources.  Most of us spent years reading the online results: “try again next year”.  For one mid-Michigan hunter, Tony Dodak, he knew his efforts of getting a permit inside of the Red Oak bear management unit (BMU) was a work in progress.  Nine years to be exact.  He and his (hunting partner) brother, Aaron, began the planning process of unsuccessful permit draws back when the U.S. was in the midst of a financial crisis … Read More

Becoming An Outdoors-Woman

Wild Game DynastyFriends of ELO, Spring Fling

By:  Tom Lounsbury. For a long time, hunting especially was pretty much a “men only” pastime,
although there were certainly exceptions, women who ignored status quo and
went hunting. Annie Oakley is a prime example, who ventured into this
atmosphere at an early age when her father died, leaving her mother and large
family destitute. She would start hunting, first to feed her family, and then to
provide an income (market hunting was legal in her era). Annie would sell game
to a growing list of customers and because ammunition cost money, she learned
to make each shot count, causing her to … Read More

Where Are The Brakes On Skiis !!?

Wild Game DynastyTake A Hike!

By:  Tom Lounsbury. This certainly has been an unusual winter here in the Thumb. The atmosphere mostly represented spring-like weather, and a lack of snow, which in turn may have prevented me from getting a few “lumps”. Then just recently over a foot of snow (my 14 inch rubber chore boots are topped out in the white-stuff) dropped down on our farm, almost overnight. Old Man Winter seems to be making up for lost time, which has me pondering taking advantage of it. I must admit I’m not much of a skier. I tried downhill … Read More

Listen! …for the Call Of The Wild.

Wild Game DynastyA Companion Trap line

By:  Jim Kushner. I recently received an e-mail from my friend Gary Morgan. When I opened it I saw a picture of his place at ELO (East Lake Outfitters). There was snow up around the front door and no sign that anyone had been around recently. His message was that he had an urge to go up there and get a fire going in the stove and maybe start a small trap line…asking that I drop what I’m doing and join him. The image took me back to my own cabin in Ontario. I have … Read More

A Celebration And You’re Invited!

Wild Game DynastyTake A Hike!

Celebrate National Winter Trails Day January 7th with Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore chapter (HSS) of the North Country Trail Association or on your own if you are adventurous. The celebration is designed to introduce the public to winter trail sport activities that are available to the EUP community and visitors all day long throughout the winter season. The event is planned so that participants can enjoy one or more of the event options from early AM to well after dark! Those wishing to begin their day early in the winter woods can ski the Hiawatha National Forest … Read More

Will Work For Food!

Wild Game DynastyFriends of ELO

Many of us have booked a wild game hunt with an outfitter…at least once.  There are many reasons for trusting our hunts to someone else’s planning and handiwork, but few will admit they most need a professional to cover their ‘back side’.  WGD found a handful of some of the toughest hunting guides in the Midwest.  We recently sat down with them to get a feel of what drives their ambition.  “Most guides are in shape, physically…it’s the mental toughness that matters most”, says Ross Chambers, a professional guide in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula.  Imagine … Read More

Old Tyme Hunting Adventures

Wild Game DynastyFriends of ELO

By:  Tom Lounsbury. I must admit that I have a strong passion for reading, and when it comes to reading material, I have a real soft spot for that relating to history and if it entails matters associated to the outdoors as well so much the better. I came across a real jewel some time back, “The Hunting Expeditions of Oliver Hazard Perry”, based on his hunting diaries from 1836 through 1855. An article in an outdoor magazine brought this literary work to my attention, and I first located it through my local library. After … Read More

Operation Injured Soldier – Disabled veterans healing through hunting

Wild Game DynastyFriends of ELO

by: Tom Lounsbury Listening to 20 beagles howling at various places in the surrounding woods, accompanied by a crescendo of (shotgun) shots here and there on a brisk winter morning is certainly a very unique sound that was quite frankly, music to my ears. I was observing a recent rabbit hunt for disabled veterans through a program called “Operation Injured Soldier” (OIS) on 400 acres of excellent wildlife habitat owned by Dr. Richard Horsch of Mayville. Personally, I’ve been on a lot of rabbit hunts with beagles in my day (which is quite a few … Read More

The Sweet Flavor Of Spring

Wild Game DynastyFriends of ELO

   I always look forward to my annual spring pilgrimage to the Battel sugarbush located just a few miles northeast of Cass City (on Ritter Road – a couple miles west of M-53), to stock up on freshly made maple syrup, a very sweet flavor of spring I always yearn for. This usually occurs not long after the first day of spring, because the typical timeframe for gathering sap from tapped maple trees in the Thumb runs from March 1 to April 1. (I thoroughly enjoy the annual Battel Maple Syrup Open House the third … Read More