Sunday, December 27, 2009

Deer Season 2009 Recap - Wolves and a Last Chance Deer

In the crush that is the holiday season, some things have fallen by the wayside and unfortunately, it was the Chronicles.

Arlene and I made a pact this deer season that no matter how few deer we saw or what happened, we would enjoy ourselves and have fun.

We had a great time this deer season. Mary and Tiny even came up for opening day and the day after and acted as my spotter at camp. I decided to hunt out of my pop-up bow blind this year as the weather was very mild.

We saw few deer during the season but had a relaxing time. We went to the Hessel casino quite a bit and tried to make the best of the deer scarcity.

We hunted 8 of the 15 days of the season and saw maybe 6 different deer. We did have two regulars, a medium-sized doe and her fawn. It was the only fawn we saw during the entire time.

The last weekend we were at camp was for Thanksgiving. Arlene had made our traditional turkey, mashed potato, turnips, dressing smothered in gravy "TV" dinner and it was scrumptious.

Friday night just as Arlene was getting ready to leave her shack, wolves began howling right behind her. She called me on the radio and I suggested that she stay put and I'd drive the Blazer back to her and try to spook them out of there but she declined. She pulled her 4-wheeler right up beside her shack to load up and for the first time ever, left her rifle loaded and put it around her neck as she rode out into the meadow.

Once out in the open, she stopped and unloaded it and came in to camp. It bothered both of us that they were that bold. Protected or not, if I feel that I'm in danger from a wolf, he's going down.

Saturday was our last day to hunt as we have to close up camp for the winter on Sunday. I decided to hunt in camp again and it was a long day with no deer coming in. I did some chores and puttered around in between hunting. I held out little hope that I would even see a deer with the wolves around.

Just at dusk, I noticed that a deer had trotted into the clearing and soon another appeared. It was the same doe and her fawn that we had been fattening up all deer season.

I called Arlene on the radio and said, "Guess who's here". She replied "it's our two little gluttons right?" I chuckled and answered her that it was.

Suddenly, from behind the east edge of the camp clearing, I could see a really large deer with it's head down, coming into view. I radioed back quickly to Arlene that I had something big coming in.

I was sure it had to be a buck. In the fading light, I peered through my binoculars at the deer's head, straining to see the antlers.

Damn! It was a huge doe.

Suddenly, another large deer appeared from the same spot. This had to be the buck. Again, I strained to see the antlers but was disappointed to see that it was another huge doe.

Dejected, I radioed Arlene to tell her that I had two huge deer in the bait pile but they were both big does.

She radioed back, "SHOOT ONE OF THEM!!!"

"Oh," I thought, "that would be a good idea".

So with less than 2 minutes of shooting light left, I lifted my rifle. The largest of the two does was separated from the other three deer and standing completely broadside. She immediately noticed the movement and I knew she was going to run. I quickly aimed and squeezed the trigger. Four deer scattered as I tried to follow her and mark her direction.

The radio rang and it was Arlene asking if I got one of the does and I replied that I had.

I quickly changed clothes, loaded my handgun (just in case) and grabbed my good flashlight and small spotlight. Arlene arrived at camp just as I stepped out of the trailer and I suggested that she drive to the east end of the clearing.

We checked for blood or hair and found none. Arlene suggested that we walk about 20 yards apart and check for a blood trail or tracks.

It was now very dark as we moved slowly up the hill behind the east end of the clearing. We had been searching for about 15 minutes when Arlene found a spot where the doe had stumbled and tore up the leaves. Until that point, I was beginning to think that I had missed. We changed direction and continued scanning for blood, or tracks or any sign at all.

Suddenly, very close by, the wolves began to howl. I panned my flashlight in the direction the howling had come and it immediately stopped. That worried us as my light shines out 105 meters.

I told Arlene that we had to find my doe soon before the wolves did. We were walking faster now. I had given up on the blood trail and decided to walk and pan the area around me with the big spotlight, hoping to find the doe by sight.

Just as I cleared a small patch of spruce and panned the spotlight ahead of me, I spotted my doe. "I found her, R" I yelled, "we have to get her out of here fast."

Quickly, we came up with a plan. I would stand guard and Arlene would try and get her four-wheeler up to where the doe was. She would have to drive back to the shed to get ropes and then get the big 4-wheeler up into a spot where we didn't have a trail. I could see that she was really reluctant to leave me there alone.

"R, you have to go," I told her.

After she left, I put my back against the biggest tree I could find. I took out the handgun and kept panning the flashlight around me looking for eyes. It was a really long 10 minutes until I could see the 4-wheeler lights returning.

Luckily, Arlene can really drive that 4-wheeler. She was working it around the big trees and smashing down the small ones as she powered up the hill toward me. At one point she had the thing up on two wheels but managed to right it and kept coming toward me. I was really glad to see her.

We got the big machine turned around and the doe tied to the hitch. Now the trick was to get her back out of there. We worked our way back down the hill and finally into the camp clearing.

Arlene went into to change into her old clothes to field-dress the doe. As I waited outside, my sister Cindy pulled up. I had forgotten that we had invited her for dinner. I quickly filled her in and told her to stay in the trailer but she wanted to help.

Arlene pulled the doe over to the clearing at the start of the short-cut road and Cindy and I took the car so that we could use the bigger spotlight that plugs into the car cell phone port.

Cindy agreed to hold the light while I helped Arlene clean the doe. It was hard for Cindy as she had to keep closing her eyes to keep from gagging but she was a trooper and held the light perfectly steady the whole time.

It didn't take Arlene long to get the doe cleaned and soon we had her back in camp and hoisted high in the air on the buck pole.

Finally, with all of our work done, we could get cleaned up and have dinner. It was delicious.


We got up early and gave Mary a call to see if she would come out and give us a hand. After coffee, we got busy packing up and loading the car. Mary showed up and really helped out carrying stuff to the car and helping me with the outside chores.

We lowered the big doe onto Arlene's 4-wheeler to transport her to the shed where we were going to butcher her.

The new kerosene heater came in really handy to heat the shed. It was a miserable day outside. It was snowing hard most of the time but the snow was that wet slushy heavy junk that gets you soaking wet.

Arlene is really getting good at butchering the deer into large chunks. Mary and I helped by putting the large chunks into ziplock bags and then we loaded the bags into large garbage bags to carry to the car.

Amazingly, we were done by about 2:30 pm and had camp closed up by 3:00 pm. It is always a sad time for us when we leave camp for the winter.

We were home and unloaded by 4:30 and eager for a shower and something to eat.

So, it is goodbye to Camp Chicken until we have to go up there this winter to shovel off the trailer and shed roofs.

Oh I almost forgot, here is a photo of Arlene on her 4-wheeler with her deer rifle. Her niece Crystal's son Hunter doesn't believe that his Auntie Mary (that is her real first name) hunts deer so this photo is just for Hunter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deer Season Opener 2009

As expected, opening weekend was pretty slow at Camp Chicken.

We arrived Friday night and got the trailer open and the generator going. While the trailer heated up, we headed for Hessel for supper and some gambling. We had a nice time and actually won some money.

Saturday, we were up early and spent the day getting our hunting spots set up for the next day. About 2:00 we came in for a break and Arlene had parked her 4-wheeler right in front of the trailer.

Suddenly, she sat up and looked and then pointed out the window. As I looked out, I could see a 4-point buck meandering toward the bait pile at the end of our camp clearing. When Arlene had looked out the window, she could see her 4-wheeler handlebars and the tops of a set of horns. The buck was sniffing her handlebars!

Apparently, the little guy was wondering what this new thing in his territory was. We had a good laugh about that one.

This is a photo of him leaving that my new trail camera captured.

Saturday was Arlene's birthday, and Mom and Dad came up for a visit and to bring R her birthday present. Dad is doing a little better after a bad fall last week that left him with a broken shoulder blade. They only stayed an hour so we decided to go to the casino for a little while.

Arlene was extremely lucky with her birthday money from Mom and Dad and came home with almost $400 and I came home with $80.

Opening morning was clear and mild and we saw deer right at daybreak. However, by 10:00 am it was blowing a gale and the deer were hunkered down. The wind died a little at dusk and a few deer did come in but they were pretty jumpy.

Mary and Tiny came up about 3:00 pm and sat in the car so they wouldn't scare the deer. They snuck into the trailer and watched the deer at the end of the clearing and waited for us to come in. We had a nice dinner of Janet's lasagna and played Phase 10 all evening.

Monday morning was cold and clear and the deer came in about 7:30 am. Mary and Tiny were "deer spotters" for me while I hunted in my little pop-up blind. We saw deer that day both morning and evening.

We decided to go to the casino for supper and had hamburgers and then played for a little while. It was fun.

This morning was really cold and frosty. Arlene was feeling a little tired so I went to her shack to hunt but didn't see a thing but two bluejays.

She saw two does, one is a fawn but the other doe isn't her mother. They are just hanging around together. Arlene took this beautiful picture of the big doe from our trailer window.

Mary and Tiny left about 9:30 am and I stayed out until about 12:30 pm. I came in and helped Arlene load the car and we came in early.

We didn't see many deer but the weather was sunny and mild both Monday and Tuesday so it was still a nice weekend.

The big bucks that were hanging around during the first week of November have apparently vanished into thin air. We saw the little 4-point, a spike horn and Mary saw a small buck with half of his rack missing. Other than that we only saw a few does. The deer are pretty scarce. I think the wolves have alot to do with that.

We are home relaxing and getting chores done so that we can go hunting next weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Ready for Deer Season

Fall has been so rainy and cold here in the E.U.P. that we haven't been at camp very much.

I did use my birthday money to buy a new Bushnell trail cam with an infrared flash, thanks Mom and Dad, to put up right in camp. We have been putting out corn, carrots, and sugar beets to see what visits us when we aren't there.

I haven't been able to check the camera for two weeks but we have been able to come up for an hour every three days to put out more deer feed.

Sunday when we checked our cameras, mine had 682 photos on it. Wow! Of course, I had it set to take a lot of photos but that was still a large number.

Most were of the Mama deer and her baby and the larger doe that is usually with them. I'm assuming that she is the matriarch of the little clan.

But about halfway through the photos was a nice surprise.

Later in the photo collection was another surprise. A nice 4 point has been visiting us pretty regularly.

And right near the end of the 682 photo sequence was this nice surprise.

It appears that the 4 point visits quite a bit but the big guy comes around about every three days.

Hope he shows up on opening morning!!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Scary Weekend at Camp

While we were at camp last weekend, Arlene had a rather frightening thing happen to her. We had taken her 4-wheeler back on the road past her shack and we left it at the old spring. We were going to try and find a dryer route to what used to be Dan and my hunting shack.

We had my GPS unit and flagging tape and we were meandering along the edge of the semi-swamp marking a new trail back to the Skyview Shack. We reached the shack without problem and on the way back, Arlene suggested that we get a fix on the end of the new road and we would walk toward it to see if we could build a trail in from that way.

We had only gone about 30 feet, when suddenly Arlene bent over and grabbed a small tree. I asked her what was wrong and she said she was extremely dizzy. Then she started to get sick to her stomach and had the dry heaves.

At this point, fear really started to set in and she said "we have to get out of here!". We were nearly at the northeastern corner of the 80 acres and a long way from camp. She thought that she could walk back but I told her that wasn't a good idea and to stay right where she was.

I ran back to the 4-wheeler as fast as I could, started it up, and managed to get it all the way back in there to where she was. She was so weak that she could barely hang on to me as we bumped and sloshed our way out.

As soon as we got back to camp, I gave her two aspirins and had her just sit still. Hurriedly, I put everything away and packed the car.

As we drove to the Soo, she seemed to get better and complained of the chills. She declined a visit to the ER and thought it was perhaps a virus.

After sleeping at home all afternoon, she got up at 6:00 PM and the dizziness returned this time with heaviness in her chest and arms. Taking no chances, we headed for the ER.

After spending the night in the hospital, her cardiologist scheduled her for a heart catherization on Wednesday in Traverse City.

The results were really good and showed that her heart is fine with only a slight blockage in a peripheral artery. The cardiologist there feels that her high blood pressure medication is causing her heart rate to drop way too low, about 44 bpm, and his recommendation was to cut it in half.

The day after the procedure she was feeling much better with a heart rate of about 65 bpm and is feeling much better.

I guess the lesson here is that bad things can happen anywhere and at anytime when you are out in the woods. In hindsight, with just the two of us there, we should have left a note with a map of where we were going and how long we expected to be gone.

Neither of us had taken our cell phones because we had forgotten to charge them overnight like we usually do.

So we found ourselves in a bad situation that luckily turned out all right but it could have turned out much worse. Our guardian angels must have been keeping an eye on us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quiet Weekend at Camp

Arlene and I took off early from work Friday to head to camp. On the way, I called Mom to let her know that we were going and she said that their garage door had quit working. So after unpacking we headed to Mom and Dad's to have a look.

The door is definitely broken and needs a new spring (the big one that attaches to the rod that makes the door go up and down.

We went back to camp and decided to clean up the area on the other side of the place where the motorhome used to sit. We had piled branches, logs and stuff in the holes hoping it would rot and fill them up, but it never really did and just looked messy.

I know, it is the woods, but we like camp to look neat and clean. So we hauled away two trailer loads of brush and made a new brush pile in the meadow.

About 6:00 PM we headed to Hessel for dinner with a short detour to the fields near camp to do a little scouting.

Saw a couple of nice spikehorns, and while we were turning around, noticed what appeared to be four large doe in the second field back. I dug out the binoculars from under the back seat to take a closer look. The "doe" turned out to be a nice buck, at least a six-point, quite possibly larger.

We headed on to Hessel and stayed until they closed the place.

Saturday was quite cool and cloudy and we were both concerned as we had invited Mom and Dad, Cindy and Arlene's brother Wayne and his wife Joan up for dinner. We usually celebrate my sister Cindy and my birthdays by going out for brunch but we thought we would change it up this year and invite everyone for dinner. Arlene generously volunteered to cook.

About 11:30 AM, Mary and Tiny surprised us with a visit and we sat around chatting by the fire for awhile. Of course, we aren't much for sitting around, so we went up to the hill to see if we could dig out this huge limestone rock that Arlene's sister Judy wanted for part of her walkway. An hour later after excavating a three foot hole and breaking the shovel, we got that thing out and loaded on my little trailer. Wow, was it heavy.

About 2:00 PM, the sun finally appeared and saved the day for our dinner as we had planned on eating outside. Arlene started cooking and everyone showed up on time.

We had a real feast: grilled whitefish cooked on cedar boards that we had soaked for three hours, bison tenderloin, chicken breast, boiled red garden potatoes, peas, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet onions and bread with frosted brownies for dessert. It was great.

After dinner, we sat and visited by the fire. We were so busy that I forgot to take any pictures.

Everyone but Cindy left by 9:00 PM and we built a real roaring fire and stayed out until almost 11:30 PM.

Sunday, we slept in until almost 10 AM, unheard of for us. Usually, we are up by at least 8:00 AM.

We took a ride on the 4-wheelers and checked our trail cameras but no bear pictures, thank goodness. Our bear must have just been passing through.

We packed up early as we had to go to Cindy's and spray down her outside entryway with stuff to kill the hundreds of spiders that have taken up residence there.

It was like a Halloween movie as I was spraying, the spiders were coming down on webs trying to get away from the spray. Yuck. I was smacking them with the broom and killing them. Now her only outside broom is full of dead spider guts, so I went to Walmart tonight and bought her a new one.

We helped her take her air conditioner out of her window as it is supposed to turn quite cool this week.

No camp this weekend, although we may go up Sunday and check the cameras and cut some wood if the weather is decent. Arlene's great-granddaughter, Madison, is turning three on Saturday, so we are going to her birthday party.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Camp 9-11-09

A couple of weeks ago, Arlene and I bought this stuff called "C'Mere Deer". It is a powder or liquid product that is supposed to bring in the deer like crazy.

So we thought that we would try some. The weekend before, we sprinkled some at our two hunting spots, the Taj Mahal and the Cadillac Shack and put up our trail cameras.

Saturday, we went to check for pictures but found none. While I was fiddling with Arlene's trail cam at the Cadillac spot, she decided to spread some more of the "C'Mere Deer".

Within a minute, we could hear rustling in the brush as something approached us.

"Wow", I said, "that worked fast".

Suddenly, a chipmunk appeared and headed straight for us. He stopped a few inches from where I was kneeling at the camera and peeked around the tree at me. He was so cute.

Skirting Arlene and I, he headed straight for the log where she had poured the "C'Mere Deer" and began licking it like crazy. We were laughing so hard I almost wet my pants.

Apparently high on the powder, he ran over to the food block I had set out and attacked it, trying to chew the small bits of corn out of the block.

Soon another chipmunk appeared and began to scurry around.

I told Arlene that they should call this stuff "Chipmunk Crack" instead of "C'Mere Deer"!

Finally, we left the "monks" to their meal and headed back to cook dinner for Cindy and Arlene's sister, Judy. Arlene was making Porterhouse Steak, baked potatoes and corn on the cob.

Boy was it GOOD!

After dinner, we spent a beautiful evening by the fire and did some stargazing with the telescope.

Sunday morning, we decided to go check the deer camera at Arlene's shack again. This time we took the digital camera so that we could just do a quick scan of the memory card to see if there were any pictures.

I plugged the card in the camera and took a look.

Hey, there's a deer! Hey, there's another deer! Hey, there's a ...... oh my gosh...there's a BEAR!

In the eight years we have been using trail cameras at camp, we have never, ever had a photo of a bear until Sunday.

And guess what he was doing??? He was licking the log that had the "C'mere Deer" spread on it.

Needless to say, we brought the "C'Mere Deer" home with us and don't plan on using it any more.

Why don't they put on the label: "Attracts Chipmunks and Bears!!!!

We aren't at camp this weekend, as Arlene has a had a death in her family and has to attend a wake on Sunday. But, this afternoon, we are going to go to camp and check those cameras again and make sure the bear didn't come back.

The Cadillac shack is no more than 200 yards, as the crow flies, from camp so we want to be real sure we don't have a bear problem.

Sunday, we tried to make as much noise as possible. I took out my .357 mag revolver and shot about 40 rounds at our little target range. Then I got out the .380 and the .22 pistols and did the same. Hopefully, the noise will convince the bear that camp is not the place for him/her.

I'll keep you posted on today's photos.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekend at Camp Chicken

Friday, September 4

It was a sad day for my family as Mom, Dad, Cindy and I went to Pellston to attend my Uncle Ed's memorial service. Uncle Ed was married to my Dad's only sister, Aunt Mary. I drove us down and back and by the time I got back home it was after 4:00 pm.

Arlene had everything ready so we just had to load the car and hitch up the trailer and we were off. We were going to just unload and go to Hessel to the casino for dinner but I was kind of worn out from the day so we decided to just stay at camp.

We aren't much for taking it easy, so we decided to get started early on our Saturday project. My Dad had given Dan a little utility trailer last year and he had put a sort of flat bed out of 2x4's on it. We decided that with a little re-design we could put a box on it and make a nice little wagon to haul wood. So Friday night we took all the 2x4's off of it.

We played a game of Phase 10 and went to bed early.

Saturday, September 5

We were up early and headed into town to pick up nuts and bolts to attach our wagon "ribs" to the wagon.

We used a thicker sheet of OSB board for the floor and after some careful cutting with the saw managed to cut slots for the "ribs" to fit in and got the floor secured. Arlene and I stained it and while it was drying, we measured and cut the sides.

After we had it all screwed together we stained the finished product. We used scrap lumber left over from Arlene's hunting shack and our camp shed so the whole project cost us a total of $5.00.!

How do you like our little five dollar wagon?

Cindy came up for a dinner of grilled Brats, corn-on-the-cob from a camp neighbor's garden, and Bush's grillin beans with canned potatoes added.

After dinner it had cooled off quite a bit so I started a fire and we had coffee. Mom surprised us by dropping by for a visit and we had a really nice time chatting with her.

Just before dark, I dug the camp telescope out from under the bed and put it together and aimed it at what I thought was Mars. To my surprise, the big object in the southeastern sky was Jupiter with three of it's moons orbiting around it. When the full moon came up, we turned the telescope on it and took turns gazing into the moon. It had been a great day!

Sunday, September 6

Sunday dawned warm and sunny just like the last two days at camp. We slept in and relaxed drinking coffee. We spent the morning putting up our deer cams and putting out food blocks for the deer at Arlene's Cadillac Shack, the Taj Mahal bow shack and one at the end of the camp clearing.

About 1:15 Arlene's daughter Janet surprised us with a visit and she brought little Chayse, Arlene's newest great-grandson for his first trip to Camp Chicken. He is five months old now and really growing.

Of course, Arlene had to take him for his very first 4-wheeler ride.

As you can tell, he wasn't afraid at all, but seemed really interested in how his "GG"'s buggy worked.

I called Mom and told her that Janet had brought the baby up so that she could spend some time with him and she was at camp in a flash.

Soon afterward, his mom, Steph, Auntie Sara, and cousin Anna pulled in and it was like old times at camp when they all used to come for the weekend. Before long they had the badminton net up and had a game going.

Chayse relaxed on my Mother's lap while he watched his Mom play badminton.

Mom must have a pretty comfortable lap, because he was asleep in no time.

Soon, Arlene's sister Judy and their niece Cheryl arrived. Cheryl was here for a visit. My sister Cindy pulled in shortly after and we had quite a lively crew at camp.

Arlene had brought lots of food and Janet and the girls brought hot dogs and chips.

While Arlene cooked dinner, the whole crew went up into the woods to help Judy pick up some flat limestone rocks for a walkway she is making at her house. One thing that Camp Chicken has a bounty of is ROCKS. Gram used to call camp, "Stony Lonesome", which I think is a pretty cool name too.

Finally, Arlene had dinner ready and we all sat down to a feast of grilled fresh whitefish, pork country ribs, bratwurst, hot dogs, fried potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and garlic and herb french bread toasted on the grill. Yum, Yum!!!

After stuffing ourselves at dinner, everyone relaxed by the fire. The girls helped clear and I did the dishes.

All too soon everyone had to leave and camp was once again quiet.

Arlene, Cindy and I spent the entire evening around a roaring fire. Just as it got dark the coyotes began to howl very, very close to camp so I went and got one of my handguns out and set it by my table, just in case. It was actually nice to hear them. The wolves had driven them out of our area in the past two years.

I got the telescope out again and we looked at the moon and Jupiter. Before long it was almost midnight. Evening is my favorite time at camp. I love sitting around the fire. There is something comforting about a fire. Maybe it something buried deep in our DNA from long ago; fire means life and warmth.

Monday, September 7

Sigh, last day of a long weekend at camp. Time just flies by at Camp Chicken.

Our trailer has a mouse problem! We have been catching the little buggers all weekend. So today was clean out the cupboards and cubby hole day. Arlene and I vacuumed up mouse poop and used Clorox disinfecting wipes to clean up all the places where they hide and mess. We can't figure out how they are getting in.

While Arlene was finishing cleaning the bathroom, definitely a one-woman job, I was putting some things away in the shed when I found a nest of leaves and stuff up in the part of the shed where we have some boards laid on the rafters. As I was brushing the leaves down, I saw a MOUSE running for cover in the soffets(sp).

I grabbed the ladder and my heavy leather gloves and tried to get him. I had to move the ladder as I chased him back and forth from one soffet area to another. Arlene was now outside cleaning the grill when she could hear swearing, banging and thumping from the shed. She came over to see what the heck was going on.

I finally figured out that where each rafter met the soffet board, there was a gap there that the mouse was running through and getting away from me. So I took two pieces of 2x4's and slowly began working the mouse to the middle soffet.

Finally, I had him trapped but to my surprise, there wasn't just one mouse, there were FOUR MICE. One by one, I caught and killed each one, sorry ASPCA, but they had to go! Actually, one of them managed to escape and I chased him all over while Arlene laughed her *ss off at the picture of me chasing the little critter.

Later, I took mouse poison and put it everywhere I could think of; the outhouse, the new shed, the old shed, the motor home, under the woodpiles, everywhere.

As the day grew hotter and hotter, we decided to pack up and head home.

Next weekend, the MOUSE WAR will go on.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Rainy Weekend At Camp

Well, another rainy weekend here in the great northwoods.

But, Arlene and I went to camp anyway. We managed to get unpacked and take a nice 4-wheeler ride before the rain started.

Arlene grilled some nice pork steaks and made fried potatoes on the grill and while we were eating dinner the rain started. It rained all evening so we just stayed in and played Phase 10 all night and went to bed early.

I woke up about 3:00 AM and the wind or rain was making a strange noise just like a freight train. I jumped up and went to look outside but everything seemed ok. I was sure we were going to get blown away or something. Arlene said she heard it too but figured if it was a tornado there is really nowhere to go to hide from it at camp so she just covered up her head and waited to see where we would land.

We made it through the night and we were both up at 6:30 AM! We wanted to go to Skinners to get our new chain saw but they don't open til 8:00 AM so we drank coffee and played cards until then. We came home with a nice new Husqvarna 16" chain saw.

We had planned on burning the big brush pile in the meadow and since it was still raining, it seemed like a safe time to do it. There was brush and all of the old siding off Mom and Dad's garage that we had re-sided last fall.

We poured gasoline on the brush...I know...bad idea. It didn't want to light so we poured more gas on it and tried again. Arlene lit a rolled up paper towel and reached to toss it on the brush when WHOOSH the gas caught and flames jumped everywhere. Luckily, Arlene didn't get burned but it scared the heck out of me.

The only time the fire got a little scary was when the flames got pretty high and were getting close to some maple branches. But, it was raining hard the whole time so everything was soaked.

We began flipping the siding over more toward the middle of the clearing and gradually the fire began to settle down. We sat in the car in the rain for four hours watching the fire burn. Every 15 minutes or so we would go out and push everything toward the middle.

By 3:00 PM we had a pile of ashes and burning debris about 3 feet across.

We went back to the trailer about 4:00 PM and played cards again until 5:00 when Arlene went out, in the rain, and cooked steaks, baked potatoes and corn-on-the-cob for dinner. Good thing the grill is under a big spruce tree.

Cindy came up for dinner and we played cards all night. I don't know what we would do at camp in the rain if we didn't play cards.

Sunday dawned sunny and cold but we'll take that any day. What a really nice day it was. We had our coffee and got to work. The generator needed maintenance so while Arlene did that I went to spread the ashes from the fire out so that they would cool off.

We just puttered around camp and we were just headed to town for more water to completely drown the ashes when Mom pulled up.

We had a really nice visit with her. It was so nice to just sit outside in the sunshine and relax.

We got this brainstorm to plant some stuff for the deer in the spot where we had burned everything so we planted our little crop. Can't wait to see if anything actually grows there.

We went for a really long 4-wheeler ride and as it was getting late we decided to start packing up to go home. It was hard to leave as it was such a beautiful day but by the time we got home it was after 6:00 PM.

We're really looking forward to the upcoming 3-day weekend. The weatherman actually sounds hopeful that it may be actually nice!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


A weekend at Camp!!!

Sorry that I have been away. It has been a crazy summer. Much has happened and we have been very, very busy. In addition, the weather here in the EUP has been horrible. It has rained every weekend this summer and when it didn't rain on the weekend, it was just too hot to go to camp.

But, last weekend, Arlene, Mary, Tiny and I headed for camp Saturday morning after a very rainy Friday.

At the beginning of summer, we brought up a new addition to our campfire circle. Arlene's daughter Janet gave us their old swing as she received a new one for Mother's Day. So it is a nice addition to the camp circle.

Tiny thinks that the armrest makes a great perch for her to keep track of all the action at camp!

Our first task was to fix our two chains saws that have been acting up lately, so Mary and Arlene began taking them apart. They cleaned up the small one and replaced the chain. We were able to cut down two dead spruce trees but it still doesn't seem to be running right.

Of course, Tiny had to keep a close eye on them from her new "throne". She rarely lets any of her "people" out of her sight and must always account for all of us at all times.

After taking our bigger chain saw apart we found that the saw had "cooked" itself. There must have been a oil leak somewhere inside and it got so hot that it totally fused the drive shaft. So, next weekend, we are going into Pickford to Skinner's and buy a new Husquevarna (not sure of the correct spelling) chainsaw.

My sister Cindy came up Saturday evening as Arlene had cooked New York Strip steaks, baked potatoes and corn on the cob on the grill for all of us. What a feast! After dinner we enjoyed coffee by the campfire until it got too cold and damp to sit out.

We went inside for a rousing game of Phase 10. I guess Cindy must have left about 11:00 PM.

Sunday, we slept in until 8:00 AM. We sat around drinking coffee and visiting and since it was gloomy and looked like rain, we played another game of Phase 10. Cindy came up for the afternoon.

When the sun finally came out I mowed the grass while Arlene and Mary tore apart our old lawn mower that we are trying to fix for a camp mower.

I think the two of them just like tearing stuff apart!

We finished our day by playing Phase 10 at the picnic table outside and then packed up for home.

The forecast for this weekend is for a few showers on Friday, rain on Saturday, and a few showers on Sunday. Sheesh....

But, if it does rain, we may burn the big brush pile in the other meadow.

And of course, there is always Phase 10.......

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Tribute To Our Friends

June has not been a kind month to the inhabitants of Camp Chicken. We have lost several of our loved ones in the month of June.

Our good friend, Kathy Fike, passed away on this day, June 9, 2000.

When we first began coming up to Camp Chicken, Kathy wanted to come along. She had never been an outdoor person, living most of her life in Sault Ste. Marie. She was a Native American and was the second employee hired by the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians after the Tribe gained federal recognition in the mid-70s.

Kathy lacked any kind of outdoor skills and Arlene jokingly called her a "City-Indian" but she was our friend so in the early days of Camp Chicken, she tagged along.

In the first fall at camp, we made Kathy trim trees, haul brush and saw wood. I was sure she was going to cut off her thumb or worse. But, she was a good sport and worked hard to help us reclaim the camp clearing from Mother Nature.

At other times Arlene called Kathy, "Bear Bait". Finally, Kathy was brave enough to ask why.

"Well," Arlene said, "if we stumble onto a bear, I know that I can always out-run you, Kath. So you are our Bear-Bait. He'll get you and we can get away."

I think that Kathy thought Arlene was serious, because if she went for a walk in the woods, she made sure to take my dog with her to protect her.

Just two years ago, on June 12th, we lost another good friend, Joanne Fletcher. Jo had been ill for awhile but certainly not ill enough to pass away. Her death was totally unexpected and shocked us all.

This is one of the few photos that I have of Jo. She hated getting her picture taken and I probably have 50 photos of Jo with her hands in front of her face. This photo was taken at Arlene's grandson Arnie's graduation open house. Little did we know that just 10 days later, she would be gone.

When Arlene was just a young mother, struggling to raise three daughters on her own, Jo babysat her kids. She was just like a second Mom to Arlene's daughters and a second Grandmother to Arlene's grandchildren.

Jo was funny, honest and out-spoken. She was one of those friends that you could call at 2:00 AM for any reason and she would help you out.

We tried many times to convince her to come to Camp Chicken for the weekends but Jo loved her creature comforts and prefered being home.

Joanne and Kathy were great friends and talked to each other on the phone almost everyday. They both loved going to the casino.

Several times a year, we would all go on a "Casino Run". Arlene called Kathy, "Erma Tuttle, the Queen of the Shuttle" because Kathy always wanted to be the driver. If it was a gloomy Saturday or Sunday, Arlene would say, "call Erma and Jo and Mary and see if they want to go on a run" and we would all hit the road.

We would drive from the Soo to Hessel Casino, then to St. Ignace Casino, then on to Brimley's two casinos and finally back home to the Soo Casino. It was always great fun. Of course, if your money ran out early, it could be a long, long day.

We really miss our friends and talk about them often, sharing stories about them and honoring their memories.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memorial Weekend Recap

Sorry this is a week late.

Memorial Weekend was pretty nice at camp, very cold for this time of year but sunny. We spent the mornings and early afternoon cutting more wood for Mom and Dad.

The mosquitoes and black flies were really bad. Saturday, we had to run to town and get Tiny a flea and tick collar because the ticks are really bad at camp. We have never had ticks right in camp before so that was strange.

The woods were a riot of color as the wild flowers were in full bloom. We had trilliums, forget-me-nots, and all kinds of beautiful flowers.

Although we worked hard, we took time to play too. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we took a break to go to the Hessel casino to gamble a little. We were pretty lucky too and played for the entire weekend on just $20 apiece.

We hung up the "Little Girl on the Swing".

The "Little Girl on the Swing" belonged to Gram and during the summer months, she always hung on a tree limb in Grandma's yard. Gram gave it to us to hang at camp. Each spring, we hang her on a birch limb right by the camp woodpile so that we can see her. It is a symbol that camp is open and Gram is with us. Camp never feels right until the little girl is happily swinging in the camp breeze.

I have to tell you a funny story about our weekend.

When we got to camp Friday night, Arlene was really tired, so I offered to unpack our groceries and put things away. Usually Arlene does this and Mary and I do the "outdoor" chores like getting out the generator and the four-wheelers.

What I didn't know that part of the "inside" routine is to check the mouse traps. Arlene thought that I knew the routine so she didn't check the traps.

Saturday, I thought I could smell a dead mouse in the trailer bathroom. I complained to the girls about it but they both had a bit of a cold so they didn't smell anything.

Sunday the smell was much worse and I thought that maybe a mouse had crawled into the trailer drain and died in there. Again I complained to no avail, as the girls couldn't smell a thing.

Monday, we were packing up and Arlene was doing the "inside" part of packing and Mary and I were doing the "outside" part.

Suddenly, I heard Arlene say, "Did you say you still smelled a dead mouse in the trailer?"

As I turned around, I could see a large dead mouse in a trap, dangling from Arlene's hand. "Where did you get that?", I asked.

"I found it in the bathroom cabinet, under the sink", she answered. "Didn't you check the mouse traps when you unpacked the groceries?"

"No," I answered, "I didn't know that I was supposed to".

Mary and Arlene are now both convulsed in laughter at my expense. "Why didn't you just check under the sink when you smelled a dead mouse?", they asked.

I don't know why I didn't, I just didn't think of it.

But, overall, it was a great weekend, except for the seven bites I got on my right elbow that turned into a severe allergic reaction that sent me to the doctor the next day. Thanks to a shot and massive amounts of Benedryl, those have finally cleared up.

We couldn't go to camp this weekend as Arlene's granddaughter Anna, graduated from high school. And we can't go next weekend, as it is Anna's graduation party. But, maybe the next weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Honor Our Veterans

Arlene's grandson, Clifton, is currently serving his 6th tour in Iraq.

Like thousands and thousands of other brave young men and women, he puts himself in harm's way everyday so that his family and his country can be safe.

So, while you are out this weekend enjoying the outdoors, stop for just a moment and say a prayer of thanks for the men and women who have proudly served our country so that you and I can enjoy the freedoms we have as Americans.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Woodchucks at Camp Chicken

It was "Woodchuck Weekend" at Camp Chicken!

Arlene and I took last Friday off to give ourselves a long weekend at Camp. The weather Friday was really nice with cool temperatures, warm sunshine and a breeze stiff enough to keep those blasted UP blackflies pinned to the ground. Perfect weather to cut wood.

Mary Sue and Tiny even got to camp early so that they could help us cut wood for my Mom and Dad.

We spent most of Friday just east of the camp clearing cutting up dead maple and my Mom's beloved Ironwood. Ironwood, for those who don't know, is a member of the birch family, but is also called the American Hop-hornbeam maybe because it's seed pods look just like Hops. When dry, it burns slowly and leaves a bed of very hot coals making it perfect for woodstoves.

I gave Arlene and Mary the name "Woodchucks" because they never let any piece of wood go to waste. No matter how small the stick is, we can still use it, they insist. So anything too small for Mom and Dad goes on the camp woodpile for campfire wood. Nothing goes to waste with those two "woodchucks".

Arlene cooked us a great dinner of grilled steak and potatoes and biscuits. We ate like lumberjacks.

Saturday found us up very early to go to town to a garage sale that supposedly had an backyard sauna for sale. Arlene wants a sauna for camp.

Finnish saunas are extremely popular in the UP because of the large Finnish population that lives here.

Sauna is really more of a Yooper verb than a noun. It means to sit in a small shack, usually made of cedar, and pour water on rocks heated on the top of a wood stove, and sit in the steam. When you have had all the heat you can take, you run outside and take a cold shower or roll in the snow if it is wintertime. Sounds like fun, huh?

Anyway, the sauna wasn't really what we were looking for. We ran a few errands and headed back to camp. We needed to drain the water and bleach solution we use to sanitize the water tank so that we could fill the trailer tank with water.

We ran into Mom and Dad on the road. They had come up and got the wood that we had cut up the day before. They couldn't visit too long as Dad had to get his hair cut.

Then it was off to the south of camp to another spot that had quite a bit of dead, dry ironwood and maple. We spent the entire day back there, cutting, dragging and hauling wood back to camp to put on the trailer for Mom and Dad.

Some of the dead maple was pretty big for the wood stove so Arlene decided to split it.

I had kept a small fire going in the camp firepit all day so that we could cook hotdogs over the fire for lunch. Why is a hotdog cooked over an open fire the most delicious meal ever??

Then it was back to the woods. Finally, at 4:00 pm, our backs couldn't take anymore and we quit for the day.

The girls began hinting that they really needed a cup of coffee and a hamburger for dinner so I told them that if they wanted to go to Hessel casino for the evening, we had to take a little nap.

Sunday we were supposed to take Mom and Dad out for their birthdays and Mother's Day but Mom was so dizzy she couldn't even walk so we'll have to do it next weekend. Since Arlene is a Mom, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother we took her out for brunch.

Unfortunately, brunch didn't agree with her and she spent most of Sunday in the outhouse. All in all, it wasn't a great day to be a Mom!

Mary and I amused ourselves by cutting up camp wood on the old "cart path" that runs in a circle around the camp clearing. Arlene's grandchildren built it for the little cart they had when they were small. It looked like a little dune buggy. They had more darn fun with that thing, riding around and around camp as fast as they could go.

We decided to knock off by 2:30 and just sit and enjoy the rest of the afternoon sitting by the fire.

We finally packed up about 5:00 and headed home. I hate packing up! It is so much more fun to unpack at camp than packup.

Well, there is always next weekend!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nice Weekend at Camp

Arlene, Mary, Tiny and I went to Camp early Saturday morning even though the weather forecast was for rainy and cold weather.

Arlene wanted to "house clean" the trailer and Mary and I would work on cleaning up the mess around camp from the winter. We got to camp about 10:30 AM and it was rather cool and cloudy so we made a nice fire and got to work.

Something is killing our beautiful spruce trees! I don't know if it is an insect infestation or a type of tree disease but it starts with the ends of the boughs turning a kind of yellowish-brown and then slowly the needles fall off and the tree limbs die. Does anyone know what this might be or how I can find out what it is???

Anyway, the high winds this winter caused the tops of three of our dead spruce to snap off leaving a big mess by my bow shack. Mary and I removed all of the limbs and cut those up to burn up in the campfire and then I cut up the trees for firewood.

We did other chores too and had quite the busy afternoon. By 4:00 PM Arlene had completely finished cleaning the trailer and we were just taking a break when it began to rain. Mary and I hustled inside to wait it out. We decided on a game of Phase 10 to pass the time. Soon the rain turned to HAIL and it was pelting down pretty hard.

I was going to make sandwiches for dinner but the girls were hinting that they would like something warm to eat, like maybe a hamburger. I soon realized that they meant they wanted to go down to the Hessel casino for dinner and some gambling fun.

Sunday dawned cool but sunny and after a breakfast of coffee and donuts we started cutting firewood for my Mom and Dad's woodstove. They burned quite a bit of the wood we cut for them last fall during the long, cold winter so they need stocked up.

Arlene's brother came up and cut up a bunch of downed dead trees and left them piled up to be picked up later.

Finally, about 3:00 PM we called it a day. Muscles that had remained unused all winter except for snow shoveling were pretty sore and tired so it was time to quit. We just sat and enjoyed the sunshine and the peace of being out in the woods.

Can't wait to go again this weekend!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My New Blog...

Please take a moment to check out my new blog Whitetails For Women and tell me what you think.

Why a new blog?

When I started Camp Chicken Chronicles, it was really just a family blog. My brother Chris, sister-in-law Judy, and nephew Ross live far away in Spokane Washington. Arlene's grandson, Clifton was serving his third tour in Iraq. The Chronicles was a way to let them know what we were up to and to entertain them with our sometimes crazy camp activities.

Now, I didn't know anything about the "blogoshere". I don't use Facebook, text on my cellphone, have a MySpace page and the only blog I had ever even looked at was my sister-in-law's blog, Cheery Tomato Productions. I was seriously out of the blogging loop. But, after reading Judy's blog, I thought it looked like fun. So I went to blogger and started creating my blog.

I spent about two weeks with the design and soon I was happily blogging away.

To my surprise, Kristine of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit and Marian at Marian's Hunting Stories, stopped by for a visit one day. They were so nice and so encouraging and I was surprised to think that anyone but our families would be even vaguely interested in my little blog.

Soon other people began to stop by and offer kind words and I met all kinds of wonderful people that belong to the OBS, a dedicated group of men and women who love the outdoors and blog about it everyday.

I used to write all the time when I was in my teens and twenties but somehow, along the way, I stopped. I had even dreamed of becoming a writer but was either too lazy or became discouraged and gave up my dream. But, blogging became an outlet for my self-expression. I found that I still really enjoyed writing and the challenge of fitting words together on paper.

Blogging is wonderful because you can use words and pictures to express yourself.

But, I haven't answered my own question, why a new blog???

I found that I had lots and lots of ideas for things to write about that just didn't fit with the family feel of the Chronicles and I didn't want to lose that unique "voice" that the Camp Chicken Chronicles has.

So, I decided to start a totally new blog that talks about Whitetail Deer Hunting from a woman's perspective and includes a way for women to share their hunting experiences. I'd really like the blog to have a community feel for all of the great women who are as passionate about whitetail deer hunting as I am.

This doesn't mean that I'll stop blogging about Camp Chicken! It is a place that is deep in my heart, bones and blood and if I could, I would be buried there when I die. I belong to it more than I belong to any other place on the face of the earth and that will never change.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

The entire country is looking for some activity to do today to help the environment and celebrate Earth Day. I was going to do this big blog about saving the planet, stopping Global Warming and doing something ecologically sound for Mother Nature and on and on.

But, I realized that I would be "Preaching To The Choir"!

Outdoorsmen and women are active 365 days of the year doing things that benefit Mother Earth and the environment.

There is no other group of people who do more for conservation than sportsmen and sportswomen. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation "Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts have historically led the fight for conservation and wildlife resource management, benefiting all Americans."

"Through license fees and special excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, they (hunters and outdoor enthusiasts) currently contribute more than $4.7 million each day for the benefit of wildlife."*

Not to mention the billions of dollars that we pump into the state and federal economies buying all of the goods and services that relate to the outdoor activities we participate in.

Hunters were America's First Environmentalists.

And are we thanked for saving America's wildlife and wild, beautiful places?? Heck no! We are vilified as blood-thirsty demons who prey on innocent Disney-like creatures.

So here is an idea of what all outdoor-loving men and women can do for Earth Day. Take the day off! You've earned it. And get out there and enjoy the Outdoors.

*If you want to read the rest of this great article go to The Hunter and Conservation

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Native American Way

While celebrating the birth of Arlene's newest great-grandchild, I've been thinking a great deal about my friend.

Arlene is a member of the Bear Clan. In the Anishnabe culture, the Bear Clan were the warriors and protectors of the people. Arlene's native name is Mosadem, (I probably have the spelling wrong), which loosely translates as the "Bear who walks where she wants". The name fits her perfectly as she is strong, independent, brave, and insists on doing what she considers the right thing no matter what other people may think. Bear clan members are devoted to family and fiercely protective of their family members and so is she.

Being Arlene's friend has allowed me the privilege of attending many native ceremonies and functions. Native people have a different way of looking at the outdoor world and the creatures that inhabit it. Traditional native people believe that all things in the Creator's universe have a spirit; trees, rocks, plants and the animals and birds. While this seems at odds with our European religions, it makes sense to me for some reason.

Arlene never really fears any of the animals that prowl the Camp Chicken forests. She views us as intruders into their space and that the animals really mean us no harm. They will choose to avoid contact with us whenever possible unless they want us to see them.

I'll never forget the time we were out for a ride while at Camp and we spotted a bear back in the field. He or she was headed away from us when I pulled the car over so that we could watch him. Suddenly, he stopped,turned and stood up to look right at us. He half-raised a paw as if in greeting and then slowly turned and ambled away. I looked at Arlene and said, "what was that all about?". She explained that he recognized her as being Bear Clan and was greeting her. I must admit that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand right up.

Native people believe that we should live in harmony with the natural world and that Mother Earth will provide for us everything that we need. But, we must respect her and treat her as a sacred being. I do my best to try and follow this teaching. I am encouraged by the new interest in green initiatives and the fight against global warming.

Native people understand that there has to be a balance and that we ignore that philosophy at our own peril. Unless we try and change our bad habits, Mother Earth will lose patience with us and correct the unbalanced condition herself perhaps with catastrophic consequences.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Congratulations to Arlene!!

Congratulations to Arlene! She is a great-grandma for the FOURTH time. Little Chayse Daniel was born April 14 at 10:06 PM. Mother and baby are both fine. Chayse will be a little outdoorsman for sure and even has some camo-baby clothes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Camp Chicken Got Its Name

Excepts from the Camp Chicken Diary...

That first fall, our friend Kathy wanted to come and help us and stay at camp. Now Kathy was not used to the woods at all and I don't think she slept one wink that first night at camp. Pop-up campers are really just a tent on wheels and you can hear every twig snap and noise from outside.

Now I hadn't really spent much time in the woods since I was about 13 and I was now in my middle 40's. The night noises at camp kept me awake also. I never knew that the woods could be such a noisy place at night. Don't these animals ever sleep?? There were coyote howls, brush cracking, twigs snapping, crickets chirping, some terrible screeching that Arlene said was an owl and all kinds of other noises.

But, for that September, we went to camp every single weekend. We fell into a sort of routine. We would get there on Friday night and hustle to get the pop-up set up and everything unpacked before dark. Mom and Dad would usually pull in right behind us and give us a hand. We would drag an old truck rim that Arlene found out of it's hiding spot and build a fire and cook some dinner. Sometimes we just had cold sandwiches.

Saturdays were spent hacking brush and trying to reclaim the camp clearing. We worked like dogs. Mom and Gram would come up for a visit every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Every night Arlene would sleep like a baby. Kathy wouldn't sleep at all and I slept with one eye open, alert for any sound. Kathy and I were sure that a big bear would sneak up on us and grab us in that pop-up camper. The camper didn't seem to offer much protection against a squirrel let alone a bear.

When we went to bed at night, we would turn off the Coleman lantern and set it on the picnic table which was right by the camper.

One particular night, at about 2:00 AM, I could hear some rustling outside. Suddenly, there was a huge CRASH, BANG and the sound of breaking glass.

Kathy and I sat up in bed and faced each other. "Was that noise inside or outside?", I asked. "Outside," Kathy replied. "I'm not going out there to see," I said. "Neither am I," she replied.

We both crawled back under the covers and pulled them right up over our heads.

Now, unknown to us, Arlene was awake and heard the whole exchange.

When morning came, we went out to investigate the sound. Something, probably a raccoon, had knocked the Coleman lantern off of the picnic table and it had fell onto the seat and then onto the ground, shattering the lantern glass.

The next afternoon when Mom and Gram came up for their visit, Arlene said, "Welcome to Camp Chicken, Gloria!" With much glee, she related the story of how scared Kathy and I had been by the midnight intruder.

And from that moment on, "The Forty" became "Camp Chicken".

Arlene painted a sign and even found a piece of wood that she carved to look like a chicken to hang from the sign.

So, now you know how Camp Chicken got it's name.

Camp Chicken - The Beginning

From the Camp Chicken Diary

Camp Chicken never used to be called Camp Chicken, it was always called "The Forty" even though it is actually 80 acres. It was always called "The Forty" by my Grandparents, Gladys and Elmer Rutledge.

In 1996, Arlene got this brainstorm that we should go camping again. We used to go tent-camping but since sleeping in a tent on the hard ground had little allure for me, she suggested that we buy a pop-up camper. I agreed and we went to our local dealer and got a real good deal on a 1995 model with a regular size bed in one end and a queen size bed in the other.

We tried going to a state forest campground but the weekend that we were there, a bunch of locals partied drunkenly for most of the time we were there. I refused to go to any more public campgrounds after that.

Arlene suggested that we ask Mom if we could camp at "The Forty" and she said we could. Now, Mom, Dad, and Grandpa and Grandma used to use the property to garden and there were two large meadows of about 3-4 acres in size that used to be big gardens. But, they hadn't been used in about 15 years!

Nature has a way of reclaiming the land and boy had it! The once huge meadow was now a mass of spruce and poplar thicket. There was one small clearing left by the old red trailer that was about 30 feet by 40 feet and the rest was woods. Dad brought up the lawn mower and mowed a spot for us to park the pop-up.

That first September weekend, Arlene, her grandson, Arnie who was about 9, and I camped out. After dark we only had the light from the fire to illuminate the dark and boy was it dark. All around us the forest creatures could be heard moving around us as they weren't used to intruders into their domain.

The very next morning, armed only with a hand saw and a hatchet, we set to work to reclaim the meadow. Arlene said that we had to limb the spruce trees up high enough so that we could see further out into the woods and more importantly so that the animals could see us and avoid walking right into camp.

We had no outhouse so you had to take a shovel, go dig a hole to do your business and then cover it up. Yikes. We had no water except what we could carry and only the power that was in the trailer battery. When that went dead we were out of lights. We hadn't even thought to bring a lantern.

But, our dog Bear loved it. I tied him up the first few weekends we went to camp until I was sure that he wouldn't take off into the woods. After that, he had the run of camp.

Mom, Dad and Gram liked it too. They hadn't been up there much in recent years. Oh, Dad and Mom would come up in the fall and spring to cut wood but never to just sit around and enjoy the woods.

So that first weekend, we worked really hard at pushing back some of the forest. Mom and Gram came up for a visit both Saturday and Sunday and watched with some amusement as we hacked away at the spruce limbs.

But, you know what? It felt great to be outdoors!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring ??

Well, spring is not here yet. We had more snow last night and today, probably about 2 inches instead of the forecast of 6 - 8 inches. Yuckkkkkkk.

So I went to the basement to clean our deer rifles, that I am ashamed to say, I didn't do the week after deer season. Maybe because deer season left me feeling kind of sad.

We didn't see hardly any deer and we had wolves howling right in camp on two consecutive weekends. Add that to the fact that someone shot the mother of our twin fawns and it just put me in a real crappy mood.

We can't figure out why we have so few deer on the property any more. I expect it has to do with our neighbors huge food plots to the north of us, WOLVES, and the after-effects of violent windstorms that have changed the entire property by knocking down many, many trees.

But, I getting off target here. Normally, I really enjoy cleaning our rifles. I love guns, always have.

When I was little, my Dad had a bunch of gun catalogs because he was going to be a gunsmith. I don't know why he never became one but I sure loved those books.

I look at a gun the way some people look in awe at a Picasso or a Da Vinci. To me a gun is a beautiful work of art. I especially love rifles because of the wooden stocks, there is just something really beautiful about the wood and metal together.

Arlene thinks I am nuts, of course. She just doesn't get it. To her a gun is a tool, just like a hammer or a screwdriver. It is an implement used to kill game to put food on the table, period. She doesn't understand when I go babbling on and on about the newest Taurus line of handguns or about the latest gun that Dan, her son-in-law is customizing. Frankly, she thinks we are both nuts! Sigh.

I decided to clean my Ruger 10/22 while I was at it. I had forgotten what a beautiful little rifle it is, so I took some photos of it.

The checkering on the stock is especially beautiful and the photos really don't do it justice.

Our local Chippewa County Shooter's Association Gun Show is this weekend and since it is supposed to snow, again, I may have to sneak off to take a look.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Saturday Drive To Camp Chicken

We took a nice drive to Camp today and saw partridge, lots and lots of deer and three bald eagles. Unfortunately, the eagles were about three hundred yards away but I did my best to get a shot of at least one of them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From the Camp Chicken Diary...

In the early days of Camp Chicken, I got the idea of keeping a camp diary. We could record what we did on the weekends we were there and keep a record of our camp adventures.

Here is an excerpt from our Camp Chicken Diary...

When we first began going to Camp Chicken on weekends, our good friend Kathy would go with us.

Kathy had never done any kind of outdoor activites and was a complete novice in the woods. She didn't know how to make a fire or use a hand saw to cut wood.

In those early days, we cut all of our campfire wood by hand with a small camp saw. Arlene and I took turns gathering wood for the fire and cutting up small trees for our wood pile. As you can imagine, it was a lot of work.

We tried to teach Kathy how to use the hand saw, but it took her a very long time to cut up a few small sticks of wood for our fire.

One day, Arlene and I were going to leave camp for a few hours to watch Arlene's grandson, Clifton, run at a cross-country meet. Before we left, she told Kathy that she had to cut some firewood and make a good fire so that Arlene could cook our dinner when we returned.

When we returned, a large fire was burning in the firepit and Kathy was relaxing in her chair by the fire. My Mom and Dad were sitting by the fire visiting with her.

"Wow," Arlene said, "great fire, Kath, how did you do it?"

"Well," Kathy replied, "I cut up the wood and built a fire. I know how to do stuff."

Upon a closer inspection of the fire, Arlene noticed that the logs in the fire were quite large, too large for Kathy to have cut with a hand saw.

A quick check in the back of my Dad's pickup confirmed our suspicions. Dad's chainsaw was in the pickup bed.

"All right, Kathy" Arlene said, "tell the truth. Harry cut up the wood for you with his chainsaw and he was the one who built the fire, right?"

The guilty look on Kathy and my parent's faces told the whole story. They had come up for a visit and when Kathy told them that she was supposed to cut wood and start a fire, my Dad took pity on her and did her chores.

Our good friend Kathy is no longer with us. Sadly, she passed away from stomach cancer several years ago. We miss her at Camp Chicken. In fact, she deserves much of the credit for the Camp Chicken name. But, that's another story.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gladys Susie Rutledge

On March 5th, my grandma, Gladys Rutledge would have been 105 years old. She passed away at the age of 100 on April 18th, 2004.

It is because of her and my grandpa, Elmer Rutledge, that Camp Chicken even exists. It belonged to them and when Gram passed, it was passed on to my mother, Gloria Smith.

Gram lived through many trials and changes. She saw America change in so many ways. The things we take for granted today; cars, telephones, indoor plumbing, electricity, radio, and television were all "new" things in her lifetime.

Gram loved Camp Chicken, only she called it the "Forty". She liked to sit in a chair outside at camp and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees. She loved the sound of the wind in the trees and would always remark that "the trees are really talking today".

Camp brought her peace, I think, and good memories of the times she spent there with Gramp. They had huge gardens at camp and helped Mom and Dad cut wood to heat our house.

I think of her often when I'm at Camp and sometimes, I feel her presence there. Arlene, who has what I call "Native ESP", sometimes actually sees her spirit there. I think she comes to see what we are up to and to just make sure that we are all right. It is a comforting feeling, really.

I miss her and even now, I'll pick up the phone to call her if there is something on TV that I know she would like to see.

Happy Birthday, Gram!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

January at Camp Chicken

Well, we hadn't been to camp since deer season. Winter came really early to the UP this year and every weekend it has either stormed or been well below zero. We were very concerned about the amount of snow that could be on the trailers and our new shed. Several years ago we had put up a 12 x 16 metal storage building but a heavy February snowfall collapsed it when we couldn't get into camp to shovel it off.

So, last Sunday Arlene, Mary Sue and I decided that the weather might permit us to get into camp. A call to Dana Galer, who normally plows the road in to camp confirmed that we could get as far as the corner, as people were logging up in the woods but the camp road hadn't been plowed in 2 weeks.

We made it to the camp gate but it was a little deep in spots. My new car, "Little Red" is pretty good in deep snow. We put on our snowshoes and trudged in. Arlene and I took turns breaking the trail. Wow, we decided that we were pretty out of shape. The snow on the trailer must have been four feet deep.

First we had to dig out a spot in front of the shed to get the door open so that we could get out the ladders. Mary volunteered to tackle shoveling off the shed roof and I started on the trailer roof. I didn't want Arlene to help me much as she was still sick with the terrible flu bug that everyone is so ill with up here. But after shoveling off about a 1/4 of the trailer roof, I knew I would need her help.

Mary amazed me by managing to shovel off the 12 x 12 shed in almost the same time it took us to clear off the trailer.

As we were finishing up, Arlene started to get really sick again. She had terrible stomach cramps and kept doubling over. I was really worried as we are back in the woods with a very snowy and difficult road to negotiate to get out of there. The hill that we have to climb to get back to the plowed road is always bad anytime there is snow or ice. But "Little Red" climbed right up it with little trouble. whew!

On our way back to the Soo, we bucked high winds and blowing and drifting snow. We ran into snow squalls bout nine miles out and most of the time couldn't see a thing. It was nerve wracking but we made it back safely.

Unless we get alot of snow in the next month, camp should be safe until spring. I can't wait until spring. It started to snow here the first part of November and just hasn't stopped and the cold has been deep and brutal. The coldest January ever I thought the weatherman said.

Well, that's all from the Frozen North for now. I'll post a Deer Season recap next week. I just didn't seem to get time to do it after November with the holidays and other stuff.