Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First visitor to Canada

This past week I had one edict, the funny thing was that it was a request from more than one person. What is it you ask? What is this request that not only one person would request of me but two? Well it ended up being a quite simple request but there were a few touch and go moments. The request from both my wife and my sister-in-law………don’t kill my brother! That’s right, my brother Bob came up for the week. He was a great help with prepping the bear sites each day as well as lots other things around camp. He went with me each day as we visited each of the bear sites. He was sore and tired at the end of the days but had a lot of fun, by the end of the week he said he could feel a difference and was not getting nearly as sore at the end of the day.
It was a busy week for him to come up as bear season opened last Friday and we had 11 hunters in camp. If you were to ask Bob I think he would tell you there were about 5-6 times he was not sure he was going to make it through a given day. Whether it be from exhaustion, my driving on the logging roads or the close call we had with a pack of wolves.

Of the 11 hunters in camp this past week, 9 harvested bear, 1 missed and 1 had an opportunity but did not want his hunt to be over in the first 20 minutes and never got another opportunity the rest of the week. There were groups from West Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
The most intense moment of the week came when we went to recover a bear for one of the West Virginia boys. He had come in and said that he had gotten a nice bear and needed help getting it out. So Bob and I jumped in the 4 wheeler and headed out to help him get his bear! His stand was 10 miles down the road and about 4 miles down a logging road and by the time we got to his stand it was well after dark. When we arrived and turned off the 4 wheeler the first thing we heard was a wolf howl, it sounded close but not that close, maybe 100 yards. Soon after that another 2-3 howled much closer, maybe 50 yards. Then another howled and it sounded like it was right next to us! I asked the hunter which direction his bear was and he pointed in the direction of the last howl…..oh oh, that’s not good……Armed with flashlights we headed towards the sound of the howl. As we were walking I was thinking…….well, I know can outrun at least one of these guys if things turn ugly, the problem is that was my brother and I kinda promised to keep him alive this week. Fortunately, a few guys armed with flashlights is intimidating to the wolves and they vacated the area. Unfortunately, they had done a number on the bear in the short time the hunter was gone. They had eaten much of the stomach area, they had not gotten to the meat or the hide so we were able to recover the majority of the bear.

The group from Illinois had an intense moment as well when they went to recover a bear that one of them had harvested. Again, it was well after dark when they were looking for their bear. As they were walking together in the dark they heard a noise close to them and they scattered and screamed like little school girls in different directions! Once they got back together they had no idea which way the road was. They argued which direction to head in order to get back to the road. They determined that the road was to the west…..wrong… it was actually to the east…. After walking a while to the west they determined that they must have went the wrong way and turned around and headed east where they eventually hit the road. We had sent out a search party who found them on the road…..they all made it back to camp at 3am.

Barb is continuing to run each morning, she had her fastest mile (9:58) and fastest 5k (32:00) this week. She has also been going crazy in the kitchen making an awesome blueberry pie, some Morning Glory muffins and a huge batch of monster cookies that we got addicted to after an attorney at her old job had given us some a few months ago. She also continued with another one of her favorite pastimes, she loves to find the stupidest fishing lures and see if she can catch fish on them! Actually……she usually picks out what she thinks is the prettiest lures, buys them and tries them out. This week, it was a silly looking pink crank bait and she out-fished both Bob and I with it!

All in all it was a great week, it was great to see Bob and spend some time with him and he made it home to Minnesota no worse for the wear with a and gallon of blue berries and a limit of walleyes and northern pike. Not a lot of pictures this week but those who are interested in seeing pictures of the successful can click on this link to the Pasha Lake website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bear and Berries

Click pictures to enlarge

Bears and berries go hand in hand as the berries are one of their favorite foods.
I have been spending my days getting the stands sites ready. With the season opening this Friday and almost 35 hunters coming during the season, there is a lot of work to be done. Bears must be located, sites prepped and stands set. Trail cameras are a huge asset when determining where to set stand locations. If the cameras shows no bear activity or a sow and cubs in the area, we move to another area. It is really interesting to see what shows up on cameras in addition to bears, so far this year I have captured pictures of wolves, skunks, rabbits, weasels, eagles, vultures and countless flying squirrels. The interesting thing about these squirrels is that they are most active at night. At some sites there may be over 1000 pictures with 980 being squirrels and the remaining 20 being bear and other critters.

I did have one melancholy moment while reviewing some of the data on the trail cameras from last season. While clearing and deleting the pictures from last year I ran across a picture of my dog Bailey who passed away in April. She was my constant companion last year while preparing sites, she would ride in my Jeep and 4 wheeler wherever I went and I have really missed her this year. Not a day goes by this time of year that I don’t think of her and miss her companionship.

My best friend Bailey on a bear site last year
 In addition to trail cameras there is a lot of other signs one can look for when looking for bear. The most obvious are seeing a bear either in person or on a trail camera but there are several other ways to determine if there are bear in a particular area. Tracks, seeing their scat and scratching posts not only tell you if there are bears in the area, they also can tell you the general size of the bear. The other day when I was driving down a deserted logging road I came across a very fresh scratching post. Big boars will often use scratching posts to mark their territory and warn other bears that this is their area and off limits to other bears. This particular post was a poplar tree about 16’ tall and 12” around. This bear had actually broken this tree in ½ about 10’ above the ground. Whatever bear did this was one mean bear with a bad attitude! I stopped to take some pictures of the tree and when I got back into my Jeep to start it up, all I heard was “click, click, click”….. I tried for 10 minutes and nothing….I thought, oh great, here I am out in the middle of no where, no one knows where I am , parked next to a mean bears territory marker. I either had to get this Jeep running or start walking the 5 miles to the main road that is rarely traveled. I was able to determine that it was either the starter or the battery……….I used my leatherman to disconnect the battery terminals and used a knife to clean the battery and terminals. I reconnected the battery, crossed my fingers and tried to start the Jeep. Whew, it started! I still have 6 more sites to check but I left the Jeep running the entire time. Ends up the rough roads loosened the battery terminals and they had a poor connection to the battery. Ended up being an easy fix for what could have been an intense situation.
A dominant bear's territory marker

He chewed and clawed up this tree


These two were dancing for the camera

Add caption

Probably the ugliest bird ever!

This guy was growling at something outside camera range

A sure sign a bear has been in the area, the bigger the better!

Another close call occurred the other day while I was looking for more bear sites.  I was driving though the bush next to a river when I drove over an underground stream or drainange. On the surface you could not see a thing but just a about 6” below the soil there was an underground channel and when I drove over it with the 4 wheeler down and over I went. It happened so fast there was nothing I could do. Luckily I was not pinned or injured and was able to crawl out the top of the wheeler. I tried uprighting it by hand to no avail but was able to use the winch on front of the wheeler, attach it to a tree and get it on its wheels again.
Well..... at least I got to inspect the under carriage!
Barb made it back on Sunday and it is REALLY good to have her back! Two funny things happened in the first few minutes of her being home……first, Daisy walked right by her and pretty much ignored her when she got home. The second thing was that when Barb walked into the rig and looked around, she turned around, walked out and said she would be back in a few days after I got it cleaned up! It took me about 5 minutes to convince her that I had cleaned up and she should have seen it before! What’s a guy gotta do to have all his hard work appreciated?!?!?!? She had a great time with the kids, put a few hours in at her old job and was able to see a couple of friends while she was in town.
The blueberries are peaking right now, Barb and Michelle have been picking buckets full for pies, muffins and pancakes! So far this I have only seen the pancakes but I think there is a pie in my future!

Barb and Daisy with their bounty
The wolf that had been stealing the garbage here in camp has not been seen for about a week so hopefully it moved on, the rest of this week Barb and I will be putting the final touches on the bear stands in preparation for the first of the hunters who will be arriving over the next couple days.

A family of ducks that posed for us on Northwind the other day


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wolves, Bears and being Barbless

Where to start……..so much has happened. Well, a good place to start is to mention the fact that after two months in Canada Barb has had enough and she left me……….Not only did she leave me, she left Daisy too!!!!! Before you get too alarmed, she will be back as she is spending a few weeks with our kids in Salt Lake. She has been gone about 10 days and has 10 more until she returns. I have come to the conclusion that I would not make a very good bachelor. The trailer is a mess and it is starting to smell like a locker room. Luckily she will never know what a mess it is as I will have it cleaned up before she gets back!
My meals have been somewhat lacking, two nights ago I had some Dorito’s and beer for supper, it does not get any better than that! Well actually it does, as last night one of the groups that come up every year invited me over for a rib eye dinner with baked potatoes and corn on the cob! In addition, Chad’s wife, Michelle has been kind enough to make me dinner and breakfast a few times
Last week a friend of mine, Tom Mabry, came up camping with his wife Sandy for the week. Although I was not able to get out fishing with them, it was really good to see them and hang out with them in the evenings (and eat dinner with them!). They had another couple with them along with their son and two daughters ranging from 19-11.  They had a great week and caught lots of fish. Daisy made a new friend in Reagan who was nice enough to watch her while I was out during the days.  I was really impressed by each of the kids, it was cool to see such good kids and a truly great family.
Raelin and Colton with a nice stringer

Jim with a Northwind walleye

Reagan with a 13" perch
Before Barb left she and Michelle had been getting up at 6:30 every morning and running 3-4 miles. They have been very devoted running weekdays for several weeks. This is a pretty big feat given the fact that Barb is deathly afraid of bears. Although they see bear sign while running they have not seen any actual bears but there was a bear sighting by a fisherman on the driveway two weeks ago. Since then Barb has been wearing her bear bell while running so any bears hear them coming. We have been teasing her that the bear bell is actually like a dinner bell for the bears so she is more likely to attract bears rather than scare them away!
Speaking of bears, the bear season opens in two weeks and we have been ready putting up trail cameras and getting stands ready. Bears as well as other creatures are starting to show up at the stands. It is amazing what you will catch on cameras out in the woods!
A bear with a stripe down it's back????

A young collared wolf at one of the bear sites
I was able to get out fishing twice with two couples; one from Minnesota and one from Thousand Oaks California. It is always interesting to meet new people, especially those from so far apart and learn how they are connected. These two were high school friends who were separated due to their careers and had a Canadian fishing trip on their bucket list. We went to both Northwind and Onaman and had two great days of fishing. One of them also had a goal of catching a 25+” walleye which we were able to cross of his list during our trip to Onaman
During a recent trip to Thunder Bay Barb and Michelle stopped by the suspension bridge. They said is was pretty interesting and took some beautiful pictures.
CJ at the suspension bridge

Probably the most interesting thing of the past week is a wolf that has decided to take up residence in camp. He has made several appearances over the past few days stealing garbage out of the trash cans and leaving piles around the camp marking his territory. There is a reason for concern as wolves typically want nothing to do with humans and this one does not seem to be afraid of us.  It is a pretty big wolf that appears to be an older and probably is not able to hunt on its own. As a result the kids and dogs are not allowed to wander the camp until it goes away. I tried to take a picture of one of the tracks with Daisy’s to the right of it. It is hard to see but you get an idea of how big the track is. Daisy on the other hand thinks she is bigger and wanted to run into the woods when she smelled the tracks and got on it's scent. We have keeping her on a short leash as she would make a nice little appetizer for this guy!

Garbage Stealing Wolf!
Wolf print on left, Daisy print on right