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.