Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

To all of our Families and our new Blogging Friends:

We wish you the Merriest of Christmas's and a very Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Camp Chicken Campfire Stories

Now that winter is really here and we can't get out to Camp Chicken on the weekends, I have a lot of time on my hands. So I thought I would share some campfire stories that we tell up at Camp Chicken to scare visitors and each other.

There are some critters around the Upper Peninsula northwoods that you need to be wary of if you come up here to visit.


My Dad, Harry told us about this ill-tempered, nasty creature when we were just kids. The Wampus-Cat is a medium to large cat that prowls the thick, dark swampy places of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. It has a large head that looks somewhat like a lynx and powerful front shoulders and razor-sharp claws. However, instead of having a normal hind-end, it has another large head, front shoulders and legs at the other end. So the Wampus-Cat looks like the front end of two big cats stuck together. Dad says that this makes the Wampus-Cat particularly cranky and bad-tempered because it can't ever poop. Now, you know how cranky you feel when you can't poop even for one day, so imagine how bad-tempered this kitty because it can never poop.

The Wampus-Cat is constantly in an argument with itself on what direction it wants to go and what it wants to do. Each head and brain has it's own ideas of what it should be doing and where it should be going. So this makes the Wampus-Cat even more grumpy and bad-tempered.

So if you are out in the woods near Camp Chicken or anywhere in the E.U.P. beware of the Wampus-Cat. If you are so unlucky as to run into one, turn and run away as fast as you can. You see, it will take the Wampus-Cat some time to decide which end is going to chase and eat you and by that time you will have been able to get away.


My Grandpa, Elmer, told us about the Hide-A-Behind when we were just little and we have all been terrified of it since then.

The Hide-A-Behind is a tricky and scary critter that, as the name implies, hides behind things. It is especially fond of hiding behind you when you are walking alone in the woods after dark.

Imagine yourself on a dark forest path. You might be on your way out to your deer stand. You are carrying a small, dim flashlight. Suddenly, you hear something rustling along behind you. You stop and it stops. You walk and it walks. You spin around and shine the flashlight but you see nothing. As you begin to walk again, you can almost feel a presence behind you. You begin to almost feel something breathing down your neck. You just know that something is back there, sneaking up behind you. Screwing up your courage, you again spin around and shine your light but there is nothing there. It is the Hide-A-Behind. He can sneak up on you in the dark and when you turn around hides behind something so you can't see him.

I swear I have almost caught him several times but he always manages to hide from me. I'm not sure I really want to see him, because Grandpa said he was a really scary looking critter. I don't know that he actually ever really saw one or was just making all of it up.

All I do know is that when we were kids and had to walk in the dark from Grandpa and Grandma's house to the car, we would run like crazy so the Hide-A-Behind wouldn't get us.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deer Season 2007 - Update

I am happy to say that I got a deer!

Last Monday afternoon, Arlene and I looked at the weather for the week and it looked pretty bad; lake effect snow, cold and high winds. We decided that we didn't want to wait for the weekend to take the utility trailer back up to camp to store for the winter. So we got off work a little early, and hooked up the trailer. Since we thought we might have a couple hours of hunting time after we got there, we dressed in our hunting clothes and just took my gun. We got the trailer situated and parked the car in the meadow near Cadillac II and walked in.

After only a half-hour, Arlene could see a deer coming in from the East. It was a small button buck. He was in eating for quite a while when a car on the road spooked him and he left. About 20 minutes later he was back, and munched some more until another car sent him off into the thick woods.

Not too very long after that, I spotted a doe walking in from the road to Skyview. She came right to the food and began to eat. She was a real nice doe, not too small and not too large. I had the gun ready in the window and when she finally offered a good shot, I took it. She ran parallel to the road and towards camp and made a sharp left turn and disappeared. Arlene was sure she was down. It was 3:50 pm. We gave her about 20 minutes and then went to look.

She was about four feet from where we saw her turn and down in a small hollow. I knelt beside her and apologized to her for shooting her and thanking her for her sacrifice. I've been doing this since I learned a Native American teaching that says that when you go hunting, one animal will always sacrifice itself so that you and your family can eat that winter. When you see that deer, you will know, deep inside your heart that this is the animal that you are supposed to shoot. The deer will offer you a broadside shot so that you can shoot it in the best possible place so that it will die quickly.

After I learned about that legend, I thought about all the deer I have taken and realized that every one of them came in and offered me a perfect broadside standing shot. They were sent to me. So now when I sit down to a delicious meal of venison, I say a prayer and thank the deer for it's sacrifice and honor it's memory.

I was very lucky to get the doe because since then our weather has been awful. We've had heavy lake effect snows, high winds and near blizzard conditions for the past week and a half. I was hoping to hunt our Michigan Muzzleloading season which is Dec. 7 to the 16th but with Pickford getting a lot of snow all last weekend it looks pretty doubtful. The road to camp is considered "seasonal" and the county rarely plows it.

We will have to get in to camp at some point to check the level of snow on the trailers and shovel it off if it is too deep.

Time to break out the snowshoes!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Camp Chicken Deer Camp 2007 Week 2

Dan couldn't go to camp for the Thanksgiving weekend so Arlene and I packed up and headed to camp Friday morning about 8:30 am. It was really cold, about 10 degrees. We got the generator going and turned up the heat in the trailer to get it warmed up. We had dressed at home in our hunting clothes so all we had to do was grab our backpacks and guns and head to the Cadillac II. Soon we had the Mr. Heater pumping out the heat and we were toasty warm. The day was crisp, calm and dry but by early afternoon it started to snow. We didn't see anything but big does and babies all that day. By evening we had about 2 inches of snow on the ground.

This is "Red", he lives in the remains of the Cadillac I, that we tore down and stacked up right beside the Cadillac II, when we built the new shack. He is a cute little pest and has gotton pretty fat eating our corn for the last month and a half.

We had our Camp Chicken traditional "Day After Thanksgiving" dinner that night. Arlene takes the leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, turnips and baby carrots and puts in all in a 13 x 9 inch cake pan, smothers it in the turkey gravy and we heat it up like a big TV dinner. It is delicious!! Cindy came up for dinner and we played three handed Attack Uno until about 9:30 and she headed home.

Saturday morning we found 3 more inches of snow on the ground and headed out at 6:30 am to hunt all day. The day started okay but the weather got worse as the day went on.

The snow really started to come down pretty heavy and the wind got up and it was an old-fashioned UP snow storm. Naturally, deer don't move in that kind of weather.

Arlene seems to think that this is the reason I don't see any deer. I don't understand what the heck she's talking about. In this weather, there weren't any deer to see!

Finally, about 4:30 pm as the wind died down they started coming in to eat. We had a big doe and her fawn in eating and three other big does wanted in to eat. Something was snorting right behind the Cadillac and suddenly one of the big does spooked and we had deer running in every direction and in a heartbeat they were all gone.

Sunday morning was clear and beautiful with a full moon still pretty high in the sky at 6:30 am. It was so bright on the new snow that we didn't even need flashlights to walk back to the shack.

We had deer in early to feed but nothing nice enough to shoot. This little doe came in to eat and if you look closely, you can see "Red" right under her feet eating too. He gets so close to the deer's feet, that they sometimes kick him accidently.

By 9:00 am, the wind got up again and we called it a day. Rats, no deer again.

We had to close up Camp Chicken for the winter Sunday, so that means a lot of work. Arlene does the inside of the trailer and I do the outside chores and hook up the utility trailer to haul the 4-wheeler back home for the winter. I cut down a nice little spruce for our "Outside" Christmas Tree. We put up an artificial one inside but it just doesn't seem like Christmas without a real tree so we decorate one outside too. We actually finished in record time and were home by about 2:00 pm.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Camp Chicken Deer Camp 2007


Deer Camp 2007 was a fun, relaxing time at Camp Chicken. Arlene, Dan and I arrived on Wednesday night and were so excited about the next four days. Mom and Cindy came up to visit us that night and to bring Arlene a birthday present as November 14th is her birthday.

We could hardly sleep that night and I was up at 4:34 am to get ready.

Dan was itching to get going too and was all dressed and over to fill up his new Stanley thermos by 5:15 am.

Dan and I were in Skyview at 6:04 am, which was a tad early as you really can't see until about 7:00 am.

We saw quite a few deer that day but none we really wanted to shoot. Friday proved more of the same. We are pretty picky about what we take anymore. When you think about the work involved in shooting a deer: tracking it, dragging it out of the woods, field dressing, hanging it so that it ages properly and then butchering it; you want to make sure you take a good one.

After we got in from hunting Friday night we found my sister Cindy trying to figure out the gas oven so that she could get the lasagna cooking for us. Arlene's daughter Janet makes us a big pan of venison lasagna for our dinner during deer camp. Yummm! After a great meal we got out the Attack Uno game and went a few rounds. 10:00 pm is bedtime during deer season so Cindy reluctantly left so that we could get some shuteye.

Friday, while hunting with Dan in Skyview, I popped something in my neck and suffered the rest of the day with muscle spasms. So I decided to hunt Saturday from the Taj Mahal right by camp in case the spasms got so bad that I had to put some warm compresses or ice on my neck. Arlene convinced me to hunt with her at Cadillac II on Saturday as it is within easy walking distance of camp so I agreed.

Saturday was perfect UP deer weather: no wind and a steady soft snowfall. We saw a good buck at 7:45 am and Arlene was ready to pull the trigger but he never stepped out of the bushes for a good shot. I couldn't get a good look at his head but I saw a lot of antlers. The last we saw of him was his hindend headed East.

It was chilly that day so Arlene had her "Mr. Heater" going all day in the Cadillac II, to keep me warm . It really puts out the heat. I wanted to make sure my neck was warm so the muscle spasms didn't return so I dressed in lots of layers; poly-pro long underwear, heavy camo sweatpants, a heavy thermal underwear top, hooded sweatshirt, camo insulated bib overalls and my camo/blaze orange reversable vest.

At least that is how I started the day. Here I am, alert and watchful and the Cadillac II is now warm enough that I can take off the bib overalls and hooded sweatshirt. It's getting pretty toasty in here.

About an hour later, the Cadillac is really warm now. Those Mr. Heaters really put out the heat!! It is snowing and about 28 degrees outside but inside it must be about 75 degrees. I've shed the camo vest, insulated underwear top, camo sweatpants, and hunting boots and am down to just my poly-pro black long underwear.

Okay, it's really getting warm in here. I had to shed my heavy wool hunting socks next. I told Arlene that all she needed in there were some rocks and water to pour on them and I could take a sauna (it's like a steam bath for all you non-Yoopers out there).

I guess the heat finally got to me because about a half-hour later, Arlene took this photo:

Arlene was hoping a deer would come along so that I could shoot my buck in barefeet and long underwear. She thought that would be a great story.

For some reason, Arlene was quite comfortable and didn't seem to be bothered by the heat in the shack at all. She managed to be quite a bit more alert than I was, as you can see.

We did see deer all that Saturday. Our skinny resident doe came in to eat. She normally eats at the Taj Mahal and is so used to our presence that she merely raises her head to look at us while we are outside the trailers at Camp. I hadn't had time to put out food at the Taj, so she came down to the Cadillac for her meal. She had found a boyfriend too, a young muscular spikehorn that Arlene had seen the previous day. They made a nice couple. He's going to be a really good buck next year.

When we came in from our shacks after dark we had a nice surprise; Arlene's daughter Judi (Dan's wife) had driven out from the Soo to spend the night and go hunting with Dan the next day. We had leftover lasagna and macaroni soup for dinner. Just as we were finishing up, Mom pulled in to visit and brought treats. My Mom is so great! Every weekend that we are at camp, she bakes some great treats for us to eat: ginger cookies, brownies, peanut butter and jelly bars, and lots more.

Sunday morning was cold, calm and very clear. The stars were just brilliant in the early pre-dawn sky as we made our way out to hunt. Dan and Judi took his big 4-wheeler out to Skyview and I hunted with Arlene in Cadillac II. It was an odd day. We never saw a single deer all day long but Dan and Judi saw 13. We decided to call it quits at 1:30 pm so that we could get in early to pack up camp and get home to unload in the daylight.

So the sad story is that for the first time in a very long time, there were no deer hanging from the old Camp Chicken Buck Pole for Opening Weekend. But that's ok. We had a great time, great food and great company. And, there is still this weekend!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Deer Season Preparation at Camp Chicken

Busy weekend at Camp Chicken as the final preparations were done for the deer season opener on Thursday, November 15th. We arrived at camp Friday, about 5:30 pm and Mary and Tiny arrived shortly after. Dan was already there and had started the generator and run the extension cords to the trailer and motor home. Cindy came up for supper as Dave had left that day for sunny California to visit his family for 3 months.

After dinner, we had a rousing game of Attack Uno. We are so addicted to that darn game. What fun we have playing it!

Thats Cindy and Mary during a lull in the game. We hate to let them sit beside each other as they tease each other so badly. After Cindy left for home, Dan, Mary, Arlene and I stayed up visiting until past 11 pm.

I was up at 5:30 am to go sit in the Taj Mahal for a couple of hours but no deer. We all had coffee and planned the days chores. Why is it that coffee tastes so much better at camp? Actually, everything tastes better at camp.

We all went down to Mom and Dad's to help Dad carry in his new wood stove he got at Tractor Supply for his garage. We had quite a time getting the stovepipes all hooked up but managed to get it all set for him. Mom rewarded us with homemade brownies. Yumm!

Mary's brother was flying in from North Carolina Saturday afternoon for deer season. He hunts just a short distance from Camp Chicken at his father's property. So she left to pick him up at the airport and we went back to camp.

Dan and I went to Skyview to put our chairs, heater and extra little propane tanks in the shack and to replenish the feeding station. Wow, what a muddy mess! The deer have it all torn up back there. We found that a big poplar tree had come down right across our path to the shack just missing it by about 10 feet. If it had hit Skyview only 5 days before deer season, I don't know what we would have done. I took down the camera to download the deer pictures and he went to get the chain saw to clear the tree out of the way.

Next, I brought beets to Arlene's shack, Cadillac II and took out the card from her new deer camera. It takes really sharp photos but the settings between pictures are can only be 30 seconds, 1 minute or 2 minutes. It took 241 photos in just three days!!

Arlene's camera caught a nice sequence of photos of a good looking 4-point.

There were some really beautiful shots of deer on the camera but I especially liked this one of a graceful doe in a fresh snowfall.

Arlene took some nice shots of Dan and I on our 4-wheelers riding back and forth from camp to Skyview from her shack. Dan's 4-wheeler is quite a bit larger than mine.

This is me on my little Honda 300. My neighbor Ronnie calls them "Buggies". Well, I just love my little "Buggie". It is a little workhorse around camp and uses less gas than those big machines.

Arlene was getting her things ready in the Cadillac II and trying out her new chair. She bought this really comfortable leather office chair for her shack. Talk about going First Class, LOL. It reclines and has comfortable armrests and you can adjust the height with just a touch on a lever. I just hope she doesn't fall asleep in there.

After our chores were done we went back to camp to look at the deer photos. Dan had to go home that night so Arlene and I went to Hessel casino for supper.

Sunday, I got up early again to hunt. We had our coffee and went to work finishing our chores.

Everything is all set for deer season and we are getting pretty excited. We have things to do at home Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday after work we'll load up and head for Camp Chicken Deer Season 2007. We can't wait!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Beautiful Camp Chicken Weekend

Mary, Tiny, Arlene and I went to Camp for the weekend. We left early Friday at 2:40 so that we could get to Camp and hook up the utility trailer for the trip to Pickford's Feed Mill for a load of sugar beets. When we got back we went to Arlene's shack's feeding station to put up the new Bushnell Trail Camera that I bought her for her birthday and Christmas present. It is a nice camera and uses SD memory cards so all you have to do is unlock the camera and swap out the memory card. Saves alot of time mounting and unmounting the camera.

I had put my camera up at Skyview the weekend before so I fired up the 4-wheeler to run back and collect the camera and download pictures.

Arlene decided that it might be our last weekend warm enough to grill out so she made grilled pork chops, fried potatoes and boiled baby carrots for dinner. Cindy and Dave came for dinner and afterward I downloaded the camera photos. Mary waited impatiently for the photos to download while we cleaned up and did dishes. Excitedly she announced "There's a buck". Once the pictures were all downloaded, I transfered them into Corel so that we could all look at them and sure enough, there was a buck.

He is the biggest buck I've seen on our property since we started coming up here 10 years ago and certainly the largest one captured on camera. He actually has a piece of rotton wood sticking out of his mouth. The wood is saturated with "Buck Jam" a gooey apple-flavored jam that has minerals in it that deer really like. We had used it three years ago but discontinued it when we thought it was attracting bears. When so few deer were visiting the stations, Arlene remembered how much the deer loved Buck Jam and started using it again and within two days we started seeing lots of activity at the stations again.

Saturday morning was very cold, about 25 degrees but I went out for a few hours to hunt in the Taj Mahal. Didn't see a thing. After the girls and I had coffee and donuts for breakfast we went to work. Mary and Tiny helped Arlene drain the water out of the trailer and put away our swing and lounge furniture while I used the 4-wheeler to bait all of our spots. Mary and Arlene built a nice fire so that when we took a break we would be warm.

Mary and Tiny had to leave early Saturday so R and I continued our chores until Mom came about 2:00 PM. She brought treats and we had a nice visit. At 3:30 I got dressed and Arlene and I went back to the Cube. She sat in the Cube and used the doe bleat call and rattled while I set myself up in ambush spot but no love-sick buck visited us.

Afterwards, we went to Hessel casino for dinner and to play a little while.

Sunday morning was as cold or colder than Saturday and I was out in the Taj Mahal about 40 minutes earlier than usual. I hadn't been in there 10 minutes when I could hear footsteps on the frozen leaves and then the sound of the crunching of sugar beets. It was too dark to see more than shadows so I used my binoculars and picked up a deer eating at the beets. It was quite large but I couldn't make out it's head so don't know if it was a buck or not. It left before it was light enough to see.

After breakfast, we went out to check the camera and found that we had it too far from the bait pile for the flash to take good pictures. So we moved it to the tree that I used with my camera and set it up again.

Afterwards, I cut up a nice dead maple limb and R built a fire while we worked at packing up stuff to take home that we don't use in deer season. Space in the trailer is at a premium during hunting season so any unnecessary items are taken home.

I don't know which I enjoy more actually. Hunting season is great fun but I enjoy the month before when you are keeping the feeding stations stocked at each shack and out walking the woods looking for tracks, rubs and scrapes. Arlene carefully checks around each feeding station, looking for tracks or signs of bucks and to see what direction they may have come from and where they went when they left. Of course, the trail cameras make it much easier. You can see exactly what time the deer came in and how long they stayed. Some of the newer camera models even have the moon phase info on them. It's all high-tech hunting now. But even with all of that, the deer are pretty good at outsmarting us humans. Bless 'em.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Rainy Week for Camp Chicken

It was a very rainy and cold week again. Arlene and I went up last Wednesday to check the feeding stations and the camera and found the food gone and the camera full. We put out carrots and sugar beets for the deer and took the camera home to unload the photos.

We had many pictures of some nice does and a photo of a spikehorn that was coming in for a meal. You have to really look closely to see the shiny points protruding from his head.

After inspecting her photos, Arlene found something very unusual in one of them. We aren't sure what this visitor is. We looked at the photo in Corel's Photo software, which allows you to zoom in on any area of the picture. We can't tell if this creature is a monkey, the boogey-man, or maybe a small bigfoot. Maybe it is a special Halloween visitor. We invite you to copy it to a photo program of your own and send us your ideas.

If you look at the photo above in the middle of the right-hand side, you'll see a birch tree that is sticking out sideways and there is something on or near the tree.

Look at the photo below and you'll see that there is nothing on or near that same birch tree. In the other 76 photos on the camera, there is that same birch tree but no visitor on it or near it. There are photos in full daylight, nighttime, and dawn, dusk and every light condition in between but it is only in just that one photo.

Mr. Raccoon was also back for a snack. I wish I could catch him actually facing the camera but he must be a little shy.

It poured rain Friday and Saturday but Sunday was partly sunny and cold so Mary, Tiny, Arlene and I went to camp. We built a nice fire and kept it going all day while we went to all our spots to leave food for the deer. They are really starting to hit the beets and carrots now that the weather is turning colder. Each feeding station is really torn up with lots of tracks. There are several nice big tracks at the spots with no cameras, of course. We hope this large visitor will visit the camera sometime soon. We moved the camera to "Skyview" to see what action is going on down there and hopefully, will have some neat photos to show you all next time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Short weekend at Camp Chicken

Last Friday it rained so hard here it was like a monsoon. Arlene, Mary and I decided to do something different since we couldn't go to camp. We went to Mackinaw City for the evening. We went to the new Mackinaw Outfitter's store, a Bass Pro Shop outlet. It is beautiful!! It has a large aquarium with native fish like brook trout and perch and a beautiful 40 ft. tall mural of the Mackinac Bridge painted on the wall. The store is all done in knotty pine. After browsing for a while we went to Darrow's Family Resturant for dinner. The food there is just awesome and they have about 25 kinds of homemade pie served in slabs. We stopped at the new St. Ignace casino to check that out on our way home. It was a fun evening.

Saturday, the rain tapered off so we packed up a few things and went to Camp Chicken. It was pouring here in the Soo but as we got closer to Camp it stopped and actually cleared up. We did some chores and checked the deer cam at Arlene's shack and it was full. I hadn't emptied it from the last weekend so 80 pictures must be the max with the settings I have it on. It only took photos on Monday and that was it. We finally found a lid for the corn bucket feeder that the gray squirrels can't pry off so we set that up.

That night we went out for a "deer ride" and there were quite a few deer out grazing in the fields. We got back about dark and put a frozen lasagna in the oven for dinner and played Attack Uno while it baked. It was delicious with garlic toast.

Sunday, I got up at 6:00 am and went bowhunting while Mary, Tiny and R slept in until 10:00 am. They must have been really tired. Sunday was unusually warm, 65 degrees and sunny. What a beautiful day. Mary and Tiny left about 2 pm and R and I packed up everything, then about 3:30 went down to the spot where Dan saw the wolf and hunted. R rattled and I sat and waited to see what might come in. We had something very interested and it was circling us until someone on a 4-wheeler stopped out on the road and spooked it. Darn. We'll have to try that technique again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Deer are back at Camp Chicken

Last weekend the deer returned to Camp Chicken. Dan's encounter with the wolf must have scared it out of the area and when we checked the deer cam we had 46 pictures and all of the deer feeding stations were empty. There were lots of deer tracks at each spot and it was obvious that they had been in eating quite often.

Here is a Mom and Baby that came in on Tuesday for a early morning snack:

This doe got upclose and personal with the deer cam:

I thought this was a really pretty pose by this alert doe:

If you look closely at the bottom of this photo you can see that we had "Midnight Bandits". I just wish I had positioned the camera to point a little lower:

I love the deer cam. It is like Christmas each time I go get it and download the digital pictures onto my laptop. I wish I had two or three more cameras to put up around Camp Chicken. It's like having a secret window into the world of Camp Chicken wildlife.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Wild Weekend at Camp Chicken

Arlene is off on her trip to North Carolina and Virginia so it was just Dan and I going to camp this past weekend. So of course, when left alone without supervision, we got into trouble. It started early Saturday morning when a thunderstorm dumped about 3 inches of water on us in just minutes. Although we had the trailer awning tilted so that the rain would run off, it wasn't tilted enough for that kind of downpour. So sometime between 6 am and 8 am the awning filled with water. Dan saw it when he got up and tried to get the water out but it broke the awning. I was so upset and so was he.

It rained hard all that day until about 3:30 pm. During breaks in the rain, we checked our cameras and deer feeding stations. The film deercam is not working at all now for some reason. There were a few deer on the digital cam but just the same ones we have been seeing. Most of the deer feed was uneaten. The squirrels had pryed the lid off the automatic corn feeder again and it was empty. We scouted a spot for Dan to hunt on the ground as we only have one bow shack, the Taj Mahal. We found a good spot on our road back to Skyview just opposite the Old Spring in the thick spruce, balsam and poplar. He could see three very good runways there. So we used brush to make a three sided hideout for him.

At 4:30 pm we went out to hunt until dark. I didn't see anything at all but Dan saw one deer running really fast just at the curve of the road.

Cindy and Dave came up and they brought subs for us to have for dinner. After dinner, we played Attack Uno until about 10:30 and went to bed.

We were up early and out to hunt. I didn't see any deer but did have a neat thing happen. A big Barred Owl appeared right in front of the Taj Mahal and sat on a limb of the big fallen log about 15 feet in front of me. He/She was so cool looking but I wondered why it was out hunting at 8:30 am instead of at night. She passed up three fat gray squirrels right in front of her and seemed to be looking for smaller prey. She kept twisting her head around and looking right at me with those big black eyes like she was trying to figure out what the heck I was.

At about 8:50 am, I heard a shot from down near Arlene's shack where Dan was hunting and then the radio crackled but I didn't hear his voice. I was a little concerned about that. Shortly after that, his ATV came speeding into camp and I knew something was up. I climbed down to go see what had happened. He had seen a wolf. He was pretty shook up too. The wolf had come from behind him and popped out on his right at about 10 - 15 feet away on a deer runway. If it hadn't been for a sassy little red squirrel who spotted him, Dan wouldn't have been alerted to something behind him. He said the wolf didn't get alarmed until he racked a shell into his handgun and the wolf took off. He fired a warning shot to speed him on his way. That is way too close for comfort.

We spent the rest of Sunday sighting in a deer rifle Dan built for his Dad and I sighted in my little Ruger 10/22 to do some squirrel hunting. I shot my handgun and found that I am in need of practice.

Dan left to go to his Dad's about 1:30 pm and I stayed and cleaned up the trailer. I headed home about 2:30 or so.

The presence of the wolf explains the lack of deer and other wildlife around Camp Chicken. We have seen no partridge or rabbits at all this season and instead of the usually 10 to 20 deer on the property, there are only about 7 different ones showing up on the camera.

Perhaps, he'll move on and we'll have better luck next weekend.

Monday, October 1, 2007

No Camp This Weekend

Since it was my birthday weekend, September 29th, we decided not to go to camp. Arlene is leaving Thursday for a trip to North Carolina and Virginia with her sister Judy and she needed to get things ready for that. Arlene, Mary Sue and I went out to the casino for dinner on Saturday night and it was really good.

We did go to camp on Saturday to check the cameras and replenish the feeding stations. The clever squirrels had pryed the lid off the 5-gallon corn feeder at R's shack. I don't know how they did it as I have a hard time getting the lid off. While we were filling the feeder, a little red squirrel was waiting for us to finish and scampering around our feet. At one point, he was about a foot from my leg and I thought he might use me like a tree to climb up to the feeder.

I did have some new deer on the digital camera at the Taj Mahal but the film deer cam is still not working right and the 4 pictures that turned out are terrible. I'm not sure what the problem is.

This little spikehorn came in eat. If you look really closely, you can see he is still in the velvet.

Last weekend, we discovered a strange track at Skyview's feeding station. Dan thought it might be a wolf but I'm not so sure. I got out my track book and it almost looks like a big racoon track.

The Shacks are all set for hunting season now. I took some photos of them so that you guys can see what they look like and what their names are:

This is Dan and my shack, "Skyview":

This is Arlene's new shack, "Cadillac II":

This is the small shack that we mounted on a platform and attached it to the old skis that Dad had on his big fish shack. Dan can haul it around with his big 4-wheeler. We call it "The Cube" because before we changed the roof and made it a little higher, it was 4 feet wide, 4 feet long and 4 feet high. We have it on a little knoll to the northeast of camp facing the edge of the balsam swamp. There are several good runways there so we hope to see some deer.

And last but not least, "The Taj Mahal" which is a bow hunting shack, regular deer shack, muzzleloading deer shack, and Ross's playhouse:

Our last shack and the first we ever hunted in up here when we began to deer hunt was Dad's old hunting shack, so it is named, of course, "Dad's Shack":

This photo was taken last year as I didn't get time to get up there yet this year. She's getting pretty rough and the mice have been busy in there chewing at the insulation but it has always been a great shack location. We have taken a lot of deer out of there: 2 bucks and about 9 doe and the doe are always really big ones. Last year I took a monster doe there. I may hunt out of her one last time just for tradition's sake during hunting season as I think the elements will take their toll and this will be the last year it will be usable.

I am getting my gear ready for bow season which started Oct. 1. Dan bought himself a new bow so he is excited about his first bow season. It will just be the two of us at camp this weekend as R will be away and Mary and Tiny can't come either. The forecast looks iffy with chances of rain all weekend but we'll give it our best shot, no pun intended.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bird Season Opener at Camp Chicken

Small game season opened this weekend so we headed to camp Friday night with our shotguns to hunt the elusive partridge. It was raining really hard when we left the Soo but tapered off near Pickford. We got unloaded and shortly after we arrived Dan pulled in and then Cindy and Dave came in for dinner. R cooked pork chops and fried potatoes on the grill for us. Mary Sue and Tiny arrived shortly after dinner. It was raining and very cold outside so we all played Attack Uno until about 10:30 pm and hit our beds.

Saturday was cold but clear so we got an early start on our chores. We set up a corn feeder at R's feeding spot to get the deer coming in there. R and I changed the bow shack window and made it smaller so that it will be warmer for me this fall. After our chores were done, R and Dan went partridge hunting while Mary and Tiny and I went to town for corn, deer feed blocks and to get my small game license.

Since the governer lifted the fire ban, we were able to finally have a campfire after a three month absence. We kept it going all day and it was great. Camp is so much better with a fire.

I downloaded the pictures from my deercam, a digital camera that you mount on a tree that takes photos of whatever comes into the feeding station. No bucks yet but a few deer are coming in.

This is our "resident doe". She is kind of thin, but has been coming in to the Taj Mahal feeding station on a regular basis.

We aren't sure where this little fawn's mom is, but I'm sure she isn't far away.

About 3:00, R, Mary and Tiny took a nap and Dan and I went hunting. We didn't see anything or even flush up a bird. R woke up about 5:30 and cooked chicken breasts on the grill and we had a feast for dinner. Dan went to lay down right after dinner as he felt pretty tired. Mom and Dad stopped in just as I finished the dishes and brought maple sugar cookies. Yum, Yum. Dad says you can get diabetes just looking at them. She is making treats to send a box of goodies to Clifton in Iraq.

After dinner, R, Mary, Tiny and I went to look at deer. Mary had seen a wolf cross the road on her way up Friday night, just down the road towards the oat field. He must have spooked the deer because the oat field was totally empty. We saw many does and fawns in the other fields but few bucks. They will be getting more solitary now as they rub the velvet off their antlers and begin to establish their territories.

R, Mary and I played attack uno and went to bed early. It was too cold to sit outside by the fire.

Sunday, we were up at 7:00 am and had our coffee. Mary and Tiny left early to go to the Soo. R took some darker paint back to her shack and redid her camo job. Dan and I went hunting and scouted out a spot to put the "Cube", our small shack on the sled that we can tow around to different locations.

Dan left shortly after that and R and I packed up and headed into town about 2:30 pm. We were going to Janet's for Steph's birthday party as she turns 17 on Monday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A New BBQ grill for Camp Chicken!

Arlene, Mary Sue, Tiny and I went to Camp for the weekend. Arlene bought a new BBQ grill for camp as the old one is just worn out. We had thought to put it together when we arrived, but as we pulled into camp the rain came pouring down. So instead we stayed inside and cooked pork chops and fried potatoes for dinner. Dave was going to the car races at Kinross, so Cindy came up for dinner and a round of Attack Uno. We had a blast and played until 11 PM.

Saturday dawned clear and cold so Mary and R began to assemble the new grill. They thought it would take about and hour, it took three!!! I watched the fun and used Ronnie's wood splitter to split up some maple that Dan had cut 2 years ago after the big windstorm. The air turned "blue" several times as the girls struggled with about 20 pages of instruction and lots of small parts but they met the challenge and now camp has a great new grill.

We hauled the wood splitter back to where R's new hunting shack is to split up a bunch of wood that Dan had cut 2 years ago after the big wind storm. We worked until about 4 pm and quit for the day.

R cooked petite steaks and fried potatoes on the new grill for supper and man, was it good. About 6 pm we took a ride to go and look for deer.

Sunday, we finished splitting wood and packed up early to head home. It was a really nice weekend.