Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Weekend at Camp for 2010

We had planned on leaving for camp early Friday morning but the fickle UP weather had something else in mind. You guessed it...high winds and rain then freezing rain then snow and lots of snow.

We did a little shopping and went to the casino for the afternoon then spent the evening hunkered down at home. The forecast for Saturday was pretty iffy.

Saturday morning turned out pretty nice with very little wind. So on the spur of the moment, we packed up and headed to camp. On the way, we called sister Cindy and invited her to our now famous Thanksgiving Dinner at Camp Chicken.

Camp Chicken is beautiful after a fresh snowfall!

We got the generator going and the car unpacked and headed for Arlene's blind, the Cadillac II. We spent the entire afternoon out there staring at the trees. There were no blue jays, no chickadees, no partridge, and no deer. It was eerie!

For the entire hunting season, Arlene has been watching these two giant partridge come in to eat corn at her blind. The partridge have claimed her bait spot as their very own and defend it against all comers. They have driven off the blue jays and squirrels.

The one time I sat in her blind by myself, a small deer came in to eat and the partridge actually flogged him. It was so funny. They dive-bombed him as he came in to eat. He jumped about three feet in the air and looked around to see what the heck was after him.

Once he settled down, he came back in and began eating with the big birds. After a few minutes they flew at him again to drive him off. I've never seen anything like it ever. It was crazy.

But for some reason, the partridge didn't even show up that afternoon.

Soon it began to snow really hard, great big white flakes. We tried to catch them on the camera.

We finally called it quits at 5:30 and while Arlene put our dinner in the oven, I went to call Cindy to see if she was coming up. She was but the road was really icy so I went and picked her up.

As we pulled up to the trailer, we both saw eyes at the end of the clearing. Sure enough the deer were in there having their own feast of apples, corn and carrots. They didn't even run away when we got out of the car.

Arlene had made coffee, so we had some while we waited for dinner to finish. Soon we were sitting down to a huge pan of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, rutabagas, and sweet potatoes smothered in home-made gravy with dinner rolls on the side. Arlene makes this up every year for us so that we can enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at camp. She puts it all in a big baking pan and heats it up in our little gas oven.

As we were stuffing ourselves the generator ran out of gas. After dinner, I was going to go fill the generator and Cindy decided to go with me. As we got outside, I heard the wolves howling far away to the west. It is an eerie sound in the dark night. I got the generator filled and started and we headed back.

Cindy needed to go to the outhouse so I stood outside listening and watching. As I shined my light around, the deer at the end of the clearing just looked back at me. They are so funny. They know that as long as it is dark out, they are safe. They are so used to us, that we can stand outside and it doesn't even bother them. Sometimes I think that I enjoy watching them more than actually hunting them.

After we had cleaned up from dinner, we got out the Phase 10 cards and had a couple of games. Soon it was 10:30 and time to drive Cindy back home.

Sunday morning I got up early and watched the end of the clearing while I had coffee but no deer appeared. They must have stuffed themselves the night before.

After Arlene got up, we began packing up the trailer. It is always kind of a sad day when we close up camp for the winter. I began doing the outside chores as Arlene finished up the inside. It took less time than we thought so we decided to go to the end of the clearing and follow the deer tracks to get a sense of where they were coming from. The snow makes it much easier to track their movements.

We walked around quite a bit which is a challenge for Arlene right now. She has to have a knee replacement this winter. Finally, it was time to head home. Reluctantly, we headed out. At some time, we'll be back to shovel the snow off the trailer and shed roofs, but that will be it until spring.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Well, it was a great four days at the old Camp Chicken.

We got to camp about 1:00 PM Wednesday afternoon and it was sunny and nice. After we unloaded the car, I took the 4-wheeler and baited our hunting spots.

Arlene was hunting at the Cadillac II and I was going to give the "Cube" a try. We had been hunting about 2 hours when Arlene called on the radio and said that she had a 4-point coming in but he looked a little small so she didn't think she would shoot him. I said okay and returned to scanning my new hunting area.

About a minute later, a loud "BANG" sounded from the direction of her shack. It scared the heck right out of me. I called her on the radio and asked "was that you?"

Turns out the 4-point had turned sideways and was quite a bit bigger than she had thought so she decided to take him. She dropped him right in his tracks and he fell right there. He wasn't a trophy but he was as fat as a hog and in great shape. He'll make "good eatin'".

I told her I was on my way and hustled back to camp to drop off my pack and gun.

I pulled up to her buck and we tied him to the 4-wheeler and dragged him to the meadow to field-dress him. In about 25 minutes, he was hanging from the buck-pole.

It was a good thing that she decided to take the 4-point that afternoon, because the weather changed for the worst for the rest of our time at camp. It was windy on Thursday and much more windy on Friday so we decided to spend the day butchering her deer.

Mary and Tiny had come up to spend Thursday and Friday with us and helped us with the butchering chores. We had Janet's famous venison lasagna for dinner and headed to the casino for Ladies Night.

On the way home we noticed that the wind had begun to really blow and by 3:00 AM Saturday morning, it was a gale. The trailer actually started rocking and Arlene almost woke us up to get out of there.

Saturday morning it was still windy and very cold so Mary and Tiny packed up and went back to the Soo. We decided to give up on hunting for the day and headed to Pickford for a delicious breakfast. On the way back to camp, we saw a nice 6-point running down the blacktop road. We both just laughed. We had been looking in the wrong place for bucks, they are out on the highway.

Saturday evening the wind finally died right at dusk so we sat in the trailer and watched the deer come in to eat. Arlene was hunting out the trailer window, LOL.

We spend the rest of the evening playing Phase 10 and relaxing.

Sunday, I went out to hunt in Arlene's shack while she cleaned up the trailer and packed up. I didn't see a thing because it was still so windy.

We had a great time even though we didn't get to hunt that much due to the windy conditions. Deer just don't move in the wind.

We are going back on the day after Thanksgiving, even though the forecast right now is for snow and .... you guessed it WIND!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finally...Deer Season

Arlene and I missed hunting opening day of Michigan's Firearm deer season for the first time since we started deer hunting at Camp Chicken.

Opening Day was Monday and it was just too difficult for either of us to get off for the day so we decided to take off Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to give us a good long weekend of hunting.

We are both getting antsy tonight knowing that we are leaving at noon tomorrow. We have all our stuff piled all over the kitchen and dining room.

The weather is still mild here for mid-November. It was almost 50 degrees today but a cold front is supposed to move in for later this week with some snow in the forecast.

But, the weather doesn't really matter. It is the relaxation of being at camp and the anticipation that at any moment, some big buck will walk out in front of one of us.

Rumor has it that there is a nice 12-point running around up there.

Deer season is always a bitter-sweet time at Camp Chicken, especially Thanksgiving weekend because we know that it is our last time at camp until spring.

I find that with age 60 staring me in the face, time at camp becomes more and more precious. I savor every minute that I am there. I find myself just sitting at looking at the woods and trying to memorize how it all looks.

Last Saturday, we went to camp just for the day to take down our feeders and cameras. When we got home I looked at our photos. We had another buck in our photos.

He has kind of goofy horns. He has three nice points on one side and a long spike on the other. He was in camp a couple of times and once he was in with a doe so maybe the rut is getting going. The full moon isn't until Monday so everyone is saying that the rut is late this year.

But we have 5 days this week and 3 days next week to hunt so maybe one of us will get lucky.

Only 15 hours and 25 minutes and I'm off work and headed to camp.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting Ready!

We have been working very hard getting everything ready at Camp Chicken for Deer Season 2010.

Last spring, we purchased two new deer feeders from Moultrie that feed automatically on times that you can set yourself. It has been so much easier to put out feed for the deer than in the past.

We have been encouraged by the number of deer that have been taking advantage of the regular feeding schedule.

Last Saturday night we actually had 5 deer at the camp feeder at once. It is so much fun watching them.

We have been hearing a coyote pack pretty regularly so we think that the wolves that have been inhabiting our property have moved on. Conversations with some folks who are pretty knowledgeable about these things have told us that wolves won't tolerate any other canines in their territory so the fact that we hear the coyotes is a good thing.

For the first time last weekend, we had deer cam photo of a buck. He is only a 4-point but right now any buck sighting is pretty encouraging.

The raccoons are still pestering us but that is to be expected when you feed with corn. The little buggers just love corn. We even put out tuna fish and cat food and watched them totally ignore it in favor of the corn on the ground.

This guy is trying to figure out how to get more corn out of the feeder.

This past Saturday started out very cold, 14 degrees, but warmed up into the 50's by afternoon so we hopped on the 4-wheelers and just rode around to various areas checking for deer sign and looking at the wind damage.

We've had five or six major wind storms in the past few years that have totally changed Camp Chicken. We have so many huge trees uprooted and blown down that what used to be some of the most beautiful parts of our property are unrecognizable. It is sad to see what the wind has done.

We are scouting a spot to move the Skyview Shack to. It is in a nice spot but when we built it, the area was in a drought. Since then we have had very rainy times and the road to the shack has been very wet and at times under water. We plan on totally dismantling it and moving it in pieces. We'll have to see in the spring how that all turns out.

All in all, we are getting excited for the coming deer season. Hopefully, it will be better than last season when we saw so few deer.

We plan on going to camp this weekend to finish up our preparations. Our shacks are ready.

We checked out "The Cube" on Saturday. It is the first hunting shack we built on the property. It is just a 4 x 4 foot cube built on a wooden pallet. We eventually attached it to the old pair of skis that my Dad's old ice-fishing shack was on so that we could tow it around the property.

It is in a really good location on a hillside overlooking the balsam swamp area on the north forty. It hasn't been used since we moved it there three years ago. When I got into it, I found that the front end of the shack had sunk and the windows were looking at the ground about twenty feet in front of the shack.

So Arlene and I attempted to pull it forward up onto a rocky knoll by hand. That didn't work very well as we aren't as strong as we used to be. So Arlene thought that she could pull it with her 4-wheeler. I headed back to camp for a tow rope and she maneuvered her big 4-wheeler into position. She found that she couldn't just pull it, she had to back up and jerk it to get it moving. So she pulled and I pushed from behind and we managed to move it three feet up onto the knoll.

We swept it all out and I think I'll try to hunt out of it in the afternoons.

Of course, Arlene is hunting out of the "Cadillac II" and has all the comforts of home in there.

I'm going to alternate between "The Cube" and the new popup blind that Arlene bought me for my birthday.

Only 8 days until we get to go hunting!