Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Excellent Blog Award

I am so honored and humbled to have been awarded the Excellent Blog Award from Marian Ann Phillips at Marians Hunting Stories. I have only been blogging a short time and people like Marian, Rex, Kristine and my Sister-in-law Judy have given me great encouragement with my blog. I have met some really great people through blogging and to be recognized with some of these folks is really special. By accepting this award, I found from reading Marian's blog that I should pick out 10 or more blogs that I thought were worthy of The Excellent Blog Award.

Marian's Hunting Stories - "Stories of Marian's hunting experiences with her husband, daughter and grandchildren! Also, her favorite pictures of family, friends or whatever!"

Cheery Tomato Productions - My Sister-in-Law Judy's "Thoughts and photos about art, life, my family ... A place to share my enthusiasms!"

Deer Camp Blog - Stories of deer camp, friends, tall tales and fun times. Rex is one of my great new blogging friends and one the founders of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

Hunt Smart Think Safety -Kristine is a fellow Michigander from TC and has a great blog about hunting and women hunters, outdoor tips and safety.

"Andy and Julie Outdoors - Andy and Julie are a great couple who enjoy life in the outdoors.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles - The Adventures of Albert Rasch and family in Florida's great outdoors.

The Wild WoodsWoman - Dana has a great blog about women who love the outdoors.

Ok, I can only come up with seven for now since these are the ones I check on and read pretty regularly. But these blogs are really great ones and I want to recognize them as really excellent blogs.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A History of Camp Chicken - Chapter One

I started working on this in early December but didn't get around to posting it with the holidays and all.

Now that it seems winter is here, I won't be able to get out to Camp on the weekends like we do in the Spring, Summer and Fall months. I really miss Camp in the winter. Oh we get up there once in a while but it isn't the same as being able to go and stay for the weekend.

When Arlene and I were younger and in much better shape, we would drive to the start of our camp road and then snow shoe in to camp pulling a sled with all of our gear for the weekend. It is harder to do that now and even if we could, it is difficult to do when you are staying in a travel trailer. They aren't exactly designed to be used in sub-zero temperatures. I wish I had the money to put a nice cabin up there.

Now that I have lots of time on my hands, I thought it might be nice to share a history of Camp Chicken with everyone. It has only been called Camp Chicken for about the last 10 years. Before that it was simply called "The Forty".

My Great-great Grandfather, William Rutledge was a pioneer homesteader in Marquette Township, which is in the Northeast corner of Mackinac County in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. He came to Goderich Ontario from Tyrone Ireland with his parents and there married Betsy Ross in 1861. In 1882 he and his family moved to Blairville, where my parents still live today, only about 3 miles from Camp.

His son, John Thomas Rutledge, my Great-Grandfather came to Pickford in 1890. He homesteaded the 80 acres that is now Camp Chicken. The 80 acres of property was sold at some time but recovered by my Grandfather Elmer Rutledge, John Thomas's son and was owned by my Grandpa Elmer and Grandma Gladys until their deaths. Gram passed on at the age of 100 years and 6 weeks on April 18th of 2004. Now the 80 acres belongs to my Mother Gloria. At some point it will pass on to my brother Chris and I but I just think of us as trustees as it will eventually belong to my nephew Ross, Chris's son. Neither my sister or I have children, so Ross will naturally inherit Camp Chicken.

So, for as long as I can remember, we have been going up to "The Forty" as my Grandpa called it, even though it was actually 80 acres.

Some of my earliest memories of "The Forty" are of going up there with Gramp and Gram to walk around or to shot the old .22 that Gramp had. I must have been about 5 years old when he taught me to shoot. He was a stickler for safety and everything I know about shooting, hunting and safely handling firearms, I learned from my Grandpa and my Dad, Harry. I remember being so excited when I was old enough to go small game hunting with Gramp and Dad. Now when I go hunting, I feel that connection with them and it's like Gramp is still right there with me, telling me what to do. Sometimes when I'm hunting deer at Camp I feel like it's Gramp thats sending me a deer to harvest.

The Anti-Hunting Crowd just don't get that part of hunting. I don't hunt just because I like shooting animals. I hunt because it keeps that connection to my Grandfather and my Father alive. My Dad is in his 80's now and doesn't hunt anymore. It's the memories and the tradition and connection to family that is the most important part of hunting for me. Everytime I go up to Camp and go hunting, I feel like I am honoring my family and my ancestors. And because of that, I try to be an honorable and ethical hunter. I never shoot more than I or my family need and I eat what I shoot.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Camp Chicken In The Snow

Hope everyone had a very Happy New Year!

Yesterday, Arlene and I decided that we had better get up to camp and check out the snow level on the trailer. It is unseasonably warm here, 35 degrees and rain in the forecast for the next four days. Snow can get very heavy when it gets rain on top of it. So we loaded up the snowshoes and a shovel and headed out about 10 am.

When we turned off the highway onto the secondary road, Arlene spotted a large bird sitting the very top of a large tree in a field we usually see deer in. It was an eagle! We were pretty excited. Actually, there were three eagles, two mature birds and an adolecent bird. They weren't close enough for any photos though.

The road in was plowed and there was a nice parking spot at our gate that was plowed out. Many thanks to Dana Gaylor who keeps the seasonal road our camps are on, plowed out in the winter.

We strapped on our shoes and started in the camp lane stopping to take a few pictures. I just wish it had sunny instead of cloudy and gloomy.

I had taken my new gun with me to do a little shooting at camp. It is a Firestorm .22 handgun that is exactly the same as my Firestorm .380 pistol. I bought it to practice with because .22 ammo is a lot cheaper than .380. It is a sweet little handgun and shoots really nice. After shooting a couple of clips, I got to work climbing up on the trailer to shovel off the show. It's a really cool view from up there.

Once we got the trailer cleaned off, we decided to take a walk back through the woods to Arlene's shack. There were lots of deer tracks in the meadow on the way to her shack. You could see where the deer were digging in the snow to get down to the grass underneath. There were even several places where you could see where a deer had bedded down and made impressions in the snow. I love tromping around the woods in the snow and looking at all of the tracks the animals have left. It is always neat to see what has been traveling around and where the animals are going.

After we snowshoed back to the car, we took off our shoes and walked down the road to Wayne's gate to see if the deer were crossing the road to come into the meadow. I am quite surprised to see them spending the winter in camp. Normally, the deer head for the big deer yards in the cedar swamps but I guess with very little snow last winter and this winter, they are hanging around. They may hang out in the thick balsam swamp on the lower 40 acres. They could winter there pretty well as it has thick balsam and poplar and some good water sources.

On our way back out the road, we stopped and took some pictures of the snow hanging in the trees. It was very beautiful with all the snow.

It was pretty snowy on the old camp road. The trees were really beautiful.

Here is me in the nice new hooded camo sweatshirt I got with the Cabela's gift card that Chris, Judy and Ross gave me for Christmas. I also got a pullover camo sweatshirt, camo T-shirt and a cool little .22 target that spins around when you hit the little metal turkey on it. Many thanks guys for some great gifts.

This is a really nice shot of Arlene!