Friday, December 05, 2014
Last couple deer I had put on top of the Subaru and just thrown a rope over the rafter; hoisted as high as I could and nailed the rope; then drive car out from under. Blood running down side window, etc. Subaru is gone. Prompted me to get fancy as depicted below.
Parts: old bike wheel taken after big kids wrecked little bike, hooks from a bungee, old chains from former canoe hanger system, rope, two lag bolts for cleat in work bench.
Only assistance needed is son hooking knotted tag-end in the cleat.
Nothing is nailed or screwed into the woodwork; all put away after use.
Monday, December 01, 2014
Deer Hunting 2014
It's unlike fishing in that one generally can't "go get" the quarry. Assemble all observations and information; knowledge of the landscape; data gained via various means. Then set up to allow early and quiet entry and ascent of a tree. Be quiet and watch carefully. I appreciate this very much. There is a good plus/minus discussion to it. Deer may not come within your sphere of vision. However, everything can change in the course of one second: from failure to memorable success and maybe even legend with the appearance of one creature. So this has the potential to frustrate (e.g. 23 hours in a stand seeing no mammals that are not squirrels) but also provides the reason to keep on. I listened to a guy tell a story once that was approximately this: The other day I was five seconds from the biggest deer of my life. I was leaning against a fence post kind of hidden for maybe half an hour watching a trail. I decided to call it quits and go home. As I stepped forward my view increased such that I could see a little further beyond a rise and there I saw the buck that I'd been tracking and watching. But he saw me too, because I moved. If I'd waited another few seconds he would have walked right to me. He proceeded to run away. Never saw him again.
Overall I know very little about deer hunting. A person can't study every facet of outdoor adventure with intensity; there is only so much energy and time afforded. I met with failure for many years, trying to hunt public lands at ground level. Quite a few years with no shots fired. I believe that southeast MN is approximately 97% private ownership. Lately I've been fortunate be part of a very small group that plans a private land hunt. I've learned a lot and enjoyed the study. Also, the act of leveling a firearm at a large mammal and firing it, while often reduced in discussion to a word or two (and sometimes spoken with incredulity at the barbarism [do try to avoid those crowds though]), is no small thing. Lasting impacts; lessons; thoughts. We did shoot a lot as kids - rabbits, armadillos, squirrels, grouse. But the handful of times I've fired guns at large animals are imprinted.
The quick summary is that according to the deer I saw last year, I moved my stand about fifty yards to afford better view lines. I was very pleased with the oak tree and what it offered up. I could see the main ravine (up which last year's shot buck had walked) but I also gained firing range to the tributary ravine (several deer had turned off short of me last year, and walked up this way). I could still see up to the ridge top too, which is a true highway and showed a number of emphatic rubs on pretty big trees. So I sat this stand for twelve hours on day one and eleven hours on day two of the first firearms season in SE MN. No deer observed at all. Despite intense wanting of a deer and careful looking, be sure. Our party broke up Sunday night, due to the storm that did cover all in ice. I was able to return Tuesday night, and head out again Wednesday; world now covered in snow. This alone was fascinating: all the deer sign further amplified and evident to even hacks like me. It was cold too: 13 F when I climbed into the stand at 6:12 AM. After 3.5 hours I got down because (1) I wanted to walk around, (2) I'd reached 26.5 hours in one stand without seeing a deer. I struggled with the one more second clause but in the end figured I'd better change up. The third man of our three-man party was not present on this day, so I started toward his stand. He had seen two truly giant bucks on opening weekend (neither of which were shot). En route on the ridge top I saw a number of trails in the snow coming from the other sidehill, over the top, and then down past his stand. I disallowed overanalysis and just figured that'd be a good reason to get up in that tree. After ~25-30 minutes I both saw and heard a deer coming down through the conifers (a plantation up near the top) toward me. Same as last year, I immediately got the gun up. Not the same as last year (when I thought for a long time that the buck I was watching was illegal), I started to shake a bit because my thoughts went to giant buck (given that a couple had been sighted here). After maybe 30 seconds I could see it was not a giant and I got my normal breathing back, give or take a bit. I strained to look closely due to the antler point restrictions and in the course of doing so I confirmed that one antler was missing. But the other clearly had four points. Interesting to note that even while one can look, count, repeat, etc. one still must draw a line at which you simply trust your senses. Your senses can betray you; this is understood. But I literally had to say just count the tines and then stop counting the tines and accept the count. Then I decided I would shoot this deer. It was not broadside but more or less facing me at maybe 25-30 yards. If I'd required movement at this time, it would have made me and run. But gun was already up. Basically only my eyes were moving. He wouldn't turn much so when he did at all, quartering away, I pulled up a mental diagram of the angles one must consider to get a projectile into the vitals cavity. It required a shot through the front leg or maybe just behind it. Pulled the trigger and the deer bucked up in shock, ran horribly awkwardly maybe 40 yards and piled up in the head of a ravine. That was it; from zero to success in the course of a few seconds, but I suppose a few seconds buttressed on the hours leading up to them. I'd say it was a challenging, fun, interesting, beautiful hunt; also further forged some bonds with people. Filled our family stock with good meat. I'm very thankful for the guidance that friends and family offer up; especially for the welcome I get to hunt this remarkable land.
|View from second stand, looking downslope. Many oaks.|
|Looking upslope toward the pines. The deer was shot at the center of the photo.|
|It was a long route to get the deer out of the woods, but it was downhill. Plus I was very happy so no logistics or difficulty really mattered much at that point.|
|Where one river meets the Big River.|
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Game Seven Carping
October run continues; into November. I think a guy can get into some decent action in these months. As noted previously the fish I'm seeing are grouped up either moving slowly or milling/stationary. No fish tailing. A few half-looking in rocks along bank. On this day here maybe a week ago I found some moving groups, none of which would offer any individual shots. I spotted one solo fish from above; I marked and ran down and he tried like a MF to eat the fly but he couldn't find it for a while and when he did I set the hook when I saw a mouth pulse and there was no resistance; no connection. This is common and part of the overall calculation and consideration. It was in this 0/1 mode that I found a solo fish who looked ready to go; found him from a high vantage point; one that does not offer a good fishing opportunity. But I was overcome by the brash posturing of this fish and I could not let her be down there, looking in the rocks and feeling safe; hunting in spaces pivoting and looking in, picking up and setting down. I stood about 30 feet above her and stripped off line, steeple casting. Watching for people that I might hook on backcast. Then high eleveation dap was in play; sure, the fly fell into the water about four feet from the carp. Still unawares. It had been a while since I had such a fantastic and dramatic view of a large fish doing a cat pounce. This was a very deliberate spotting of a prey item followed by a fish pushing with a hard tail forward and then down. To settle on a fly. This all lead to an involuntary moan of the sort of ahhhhhh etc. Mainlining at its finest you might figure. I picked up the rod to an absolutely glorious bow; glorious and also hilarious because I had my arm threaded through various ironworkings. I went hand over hand to get the rod above the guarding safety mechanisms and then did a poor job of gauging to which of the four compass points I ought to run. For some reason I chose that with the greatest amount of wild rangy scrub brush and the steepest step down to the bank. This meant an elaborate show of weaving a fly rod (now throwing backing, as indicated in the photo) and line through a bramble-ridden-death-maze meant to shatter graphite rods and beat them with sticks and stones. All with various persons bipeding around looking on. All with an 8 lb fish putting the screws to me.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
World Series Carp Fishing
Like Mothers' Day caddis. We need a phenological reference for this time of year when the waters are low and clear; primary productivity in the stream, like that in the uplands, slows to a creep. The river banks can be snlfed along without much trouble. All of the details are accessible to the angler: the rock geometry, the sand grains, baitfish, turtles, mussels. Woody debris. The dorsals. On the general outdoors calendar this period falls after trout season has (mostly) closed and before one is allowed to legally hunt deer. October into early November.
Good reminder here: not all carp that see you as angler and/or balk at your fly are spooked. This first fish came in strutting; very deliberately seizing its head around and making fitful movements. It was unlike the handful of fish I'd seen to that point, all of which were stationary and generally negative. The fly was presented, dragged around and sunk here and there while the fish surged and retreated, unsure what to make of the whole deal. Many days (especially in target rich waters), a person would walk away from this carp. I stuck at it because I figured I wouldn't have many chances, and I liked the mood. Spooking a bit but not hard spooking. I let her settle for about 20 seconds and then dropped the fly again. I couldn't see it all go down but the general "eat" signature was inked and I picked up the rod. 11 lbs scaled.
Weather on this day was gray. 100% cloud cover. Tilting toward rain. I've come to welcome this condition as long as a person can gain a good vertical perspective on the water. Meaning walk a river bank and look down and in. In fact it's better than full sun in this setting. The sunlight is needed to see great distances; to see into water when the eyes of the human are at a low angle to the water surface.
Three more carp came to hand over the next couple hours, none of which were scaled. All were 5-7 lbs by my estimate. They were all holed up in the gray slots. The low and clear water has driven them to these slots. Same observation last fall. Better to feel the weight of water on one's back; to feel heavy and dark and safe, than to linger in the light flowing thin and clear coverlet. They were found to be milling. A standard word; good word for carp. Generally positive association. Meaning they will respond to opportunities presented, even if they are not cruising or actively feeding. Tricky thing here is trying to get more than one out of each group. And thus while you may encounter a dozen fish, you can really only expect to hook approximately one. I suppose that's why it took a couple hours. First two fish were subtle takes; moves to the fly that I was watching intently. The last fish of the day: I cast well beyond, dragged and dropped a good 2-3 feet away in very still water. Normally like to get it closer. But the image was so good I opted to let it play out. Very slow drag, maybe making a small disturbance or plume. As soon as the fly was discerned by the carp, said fish swam in direct fashion and set down on the fly. This was dramatic and appreciated.
Could work going forward: World Series carping. Beautiful fall weather. Fish still around. They are heavy gray fish that will eat flies and look straight at you when you hold them.
Monday, September 22, 2014
|Many fish like this: what one might call a nice fish, depending on frame of reference. I think this measured by hand withs ~15 inches.|
Decided to go it canoe, with my brother. This painted up fish came to hand via popper. I think maybe 17 inches. Beauty. While I was connected, my brother found a way to one-up: 19 incher below.
Nice dimension top to bottom.
Around fifteen minutes later, this fish ate a popper. Maybe an inch bigger than previous, although pictures do not say as much.
Yet another double, and another one-upping. This fish, with tail pinched, hit the 20 inch mark. Will say again, they don't photograph well, light is bad, and we are confined to canoe seats.
Memorable doubles; great fish all around.
Fish miscellany from the evening of day three. Nice dorsal. He lit it up pretty good that night; I caught a lot of fish but they were all small. I really like the bronze and the markings on this fish. Nice background too.
That's about it and there are some important notes: (1) No fish pics of my dad, which isn't right; we were rarely fishing in close vicinity; he caught a lot of fish, (2) stopped taking pictures after a while, (3) the last evening I got 100% stoned; fished fairly hard for two hours and got zero strikes; I believe this had to do with an east wind that came through shutting mouths; (3) last morning (morning of departure) we didn't even fish; there was not a drive to do so; it was exceptionally windy and I suppose we figured we'd done what we came to do; so rather pack up and get to the paddle strokes; against the wind.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Right around 14,146 days. From what I have heard, first couple nights were spent in my grandparents' home on Hill Lake. Near Aitkin/Itasca county line. Within 120 yards of fish holding steady under ice. I think there were shelves of National Geographic magazines and a swordfish mounted over a smooth rock fireplace and a pheasant on one wall. I woke every few hours wanting dry blankets and fire and comfort.
That day to this one the number is 0.5% which is not negligible. It is not de minimis. Meaning I didn't make one foray and then tell stories about it to everyone I know. Half a percent of a life; that is the number. We've been paddling for a while. My dad, probably twice what I've logged. It's not a novelty; it's a tradition we are fortunate to have kept. That means there isn't necessarily new material; revelations, exclamations to report. The lake is the same; the rock is the same. The fish win a lot; we win some. The clouds and the stars still define the sky and yield to no false illuminations. We've caught thousands of fish; any number of methods, any number of species, sizes.
There are some fish pictures to post subsequent to the following images, which represent an effort to capture some of the details of the paddling and our camp; some of our gear, etc.
|At the time of purchase, the Paul Bunyan was the largest Duluth Pack made. From the storefront I think you can see Lake Superior.|
|Every day. But not all day. One soaking rain; others just spittings. My brother and I were fishing a 20x5 foot rock island when a squall came across the lake. We heard it. Then saw it. Then felt it. Then it was gone.|
|Minestrone. First night. One of the warmest, best meals I've had in a while.|
|First morning. Don't eat breakfast before fishing. No canoe. Wading.|
|We talked a while with some wolf trappers.|
|We did have glassy nights. Good fishing. Easy paddling and wading.|
|One afternoon paddled solo with both rods; mostly trolling big streamers.|
|Typical fly rotation.|
|There is a beer keg in there.|
|View from camp looking N/NE.|
|3/4. My brother left a day early and I didn't get a picture of all four of us. He shows plenty in fish pictures though.|
|Paddling out solo. Turn canoe around and sit in front seat. Weigh down as needed. This turned to whitecaps but it was manageable.|
|Veteran sternsman; ancient rock face.|
Plenty of fish; pics in next post.