It was pretty brisk at ten-to-five Saturday morning. The sun was an hour and 40 minutes from coming up- not even a smudge of bright on the eastern horizon. I had packed everything into the car Friday night after work, and laid my camo out. Last year on the bow opener, I was sweating in light cotton. This year, it was 39F as I shouldered my pack, and trekked up the road in darkness. Continue reading
In my groggy haze this morning, I forgot to set up a Monday post. Long story short, we didn’t even see any teal during the early season, except for maybe one group at some distance. Lots of geese, and we even got two to circle, but none close enough to shoot. Continue reading
Late Saturday evening, Matt and I drove up north to get to work on improving our duck hunting site, as well as hanging trail cams and various other odds and ends. We turned around and came back Sunday afternoon, hoping to hunt the opener Monday morning for early goose and teal, so we weren’t there long, and packed a lot of activity into a few hours. Continue reading
Tuesday morning, I put on my boots and went to fetch our trail cameras. We’re headed up north this weekend, like I mentioned, and we want to place them up there for a while to see what we can see (bear, deer, wolves, whatever). I struggled to find some of the cameras, and as a result, the dog and I showed up on them. Continue reading
We had a wedding to go to on Saturday, so we didn’t do a whole bunch besides more boatwork. Not that fishing would have been productive- it’s been hovering near 90F the last week or so, but with humidity well over 70%, you could swim about as easily as you could walk. However, I’m not complaining. I was desperately trying to remember this weather last winter, to give myself hope and a reason to keep going. At least my feet are warm
and sweaty, and I can feel my extremities burning in the sun. Continue reading
I wanted to put together a bit of news while we’re in a lull just before hunting season. Early goose and teal both open on the 1st of September, and this year is Wisconsin’s first teal season. You used to just have to wait until regular duck season. We’re planning on canoeing and kayaking up to the very northern end of Cherokee marsh for the first time in almost two years, as that’s the only place we’ve seen them. I’ve asked a coworker if we can goose hunt in her family’s corn fields, since they already have people bowhunting. She’s getting back to me on that.
Matt went and bought all his permits at once this weekend. The roll of tags was about 3 1/2 feet long.
Wisconsin really changed around deer tags this year. They cut the number of tags dramatically. We knew the zone up north by his grandfather’s land was going to be buck only this year and probably next, but they are also only handing out two tags, and they’re now these “Farmland Zones”. This year is also the first for crossbow hunting. He has a tag for that, and plans to get a crossbow in the next few weeks.
I haven’t bought my tags yet, but I plan on getting my waterfowl stamps and archery deer. I was invited back down to Illinois to hunt, so I hope to make a 3 day weekend some time in October once their season starts, and Matt hopes to come with this time.
He also has his bear tag. His hunt is coming up fast- it’s the second week of September, the 10th to the 17th. I hadn’t originally planned on going, since my classes will be on by then. But I also need to work that week, and all the rest of September as much as possible.
The reason for my needing to work is an exciting one. Come mid-January, I’m going to Germany for ten weeks. Back in May, I applied for an internship with the State Department. I found out late Sunday night (Monday morning in Germany) that I got one of the open positions, after interviewing with Leipzig, Düsseldorf, and twice with the Embassy in Berlin (Public Affairs Section and the Economic Section). The pool of German speakers was fairly small. I’m going to be assigned to the US Consulate Leipzig, pending receiving my security clearance.
This means I’ll miss almost all of ice fishing season, and the first week or two of Spring turkey. In fact, I may be heading out to turkey hunting within days of getting back stateside. The internship is done April 15th, and as of now, I’m planning on sticking around at least 2 or 3 days to get my stuff packed. Last time I went to Germany, everything was too rushed, and I left stuff behind, never to be seen again. There’s a lot of planning to be done. I’m waiting to buy my airline ticket until my clearance comes through, just in case. I need to find a place to stay, and I won’t be able to do that until about month before I go. And then I have to pack.
I’ve been looking in to fishing and hunting both in Germany, and both look tricky. I plan to do my homework little more closely now that I know for sure where I’m going. I think it would be an amazing experience to see how the outdoors gets done in a foreign country, and to do it not as a tourist so much as a visitor with a decent knowledge of the culture and language. To do that, though, it seems I will need to both make some connections and very likely travel to either Austria or Switzerland (I do not speak Schwyzerdütsch). It’s a good thing Europe has a good train system. At the very least, I hope to travel at least a little while I’m there, and do some hiking, hopefully in the Alps. We will see how it pans out, I suppose.
Sunday afternoon, we hooked up the boat, dumped our gear into the truck, and headed on over to Fox Lake to do some fishing.
I’ll cut to the chase- it sucked. Last time at Fox Lake we were under basically opposite conditions. It was windy this day as a front rolled in, making us drift even with both anchors down. We forgot that this lake seems to have an early bite. People leaving as we put in had fish, and last time we caught them around 3:30 or 4pm. On the way down, our front trolling motor just…fell off. And by the end we were both pretty chilly- in August. Naturally, as I write this, it’s almost 90F. Some nibbles, and possibly some pike or walleyes that got off the hook, but only the one bluegill at about 8 inches. I’m guessing there will be a bit of a fishing lull until the water cools off prior to turn over.
I drove down to Illinois this past weekend to see my newest family member. My sister had a little girl two weeks ago. I hung around with her for a while and distracted my nephew so sister could do human things like nap and shower. But after a while, everyone was tired and I decided to clear out. I took the dog to my mom’s house, and after a quick hike to the river to let him swim and catch crawfish, I got my new sight zeroed in and did some practice shooting.
I can remember shooting every day after school for hours when I was a kid. With a longbow, and no let off point. My arm, in spite of being stronger, doesn’t have the endurance anymore. So I decided that since our neighbors that had kids moved out, and since my bow is dialed in pretty well (no wild arrows flying into their yard, field point or no), I’m going to set my target up in the backyard to shoot at when I have time. Our yard is not huge by any means, but practicing at 20 yards is much better than nothing. I might look a little bananas standing on the roof of the garage to practice elevated shooting, but I do need the practice.
Starting last week, we poured buoyancy foam under the deck of the ditch boat. We also learned a valuable lesson- mix it well. It expands by about 200% within 5 minutes of being combined, but only if it’s stirred very well before you pour it in. We took a two gallon kit to do one corner of the boat, and were disappointed. We then got a 4 gallon kit to do the entire rest of the probably 18 foot length of the deck, except for one small area near the front. The force of the expanding and then hardening foam lifted the deck in a few places which then had to be screwed down. We also found cracks and leaks pretty easily, given the hot, catalyzed foam gushing out.
With the buoyancy foam in the floor, Matt can lay fiberglass over the plugs where we poured the foam in, and then lay carpet on the floor. Last weekend, we left the carburetor with his uncle the mechanic. Turns out it’s a Holly. We’ll be renting a small trailer to get the engine pressure tested at his recommendation. From there, Matt just wants to build on bins into the walls for storage, we need to get the toilet and tank back in, and the plate for the lower unit of the engine needs replaced. The list of things the boat needs is getting shorter and shorter.
Last weekend, Matt had a family to-do up near Appleton. Since we’ve barely made it out to do anything this summer, we decided to pack up the fishing gear and take the boat for some fishing on Winnebago while we were up there. The last time we were there was for sturgeon spearing back in February.
Anyway, that was how we hoped it would work. We towed the boat up to his brother’s place and stayed the night, planning to rise fairly early and get out for the last half of the morning bite. Figuring that ‘Bago is the the single largest lake in the state, we assumed we could just head to a launch and snag some bait on the way. My friends, it did not work this way in practice.
Our route took us from a little ways west of Greenville in the upper left corner of that map southeast to Neenah. Apparently, not one person in that corridor thought to open a bait shop. The first bait store our GPS took us to had been closed for what looked like several years. Our next try was ten miles away in Appleton, and the GPS location of it was off by a solid two miles. Once we stopped and got real directions to find it, it didn’t open until 9am on a Sunday (seriously, what bait shop in this state doesn’t open at dawn or close to it?) All the next closest shops were a good 15 miles away in Oshkosh or Winneconne, or even further away down in Fond du Lac. We were driving around for a good 45 minutes to an hour, trying to find anything we could throw on our hooks. Eventually, we found a gas station selling worms, and grumbling, settled for that.
Once we finally launched from the very, very nice launch at Doty park (next to a Coast Guard auxillary post), we headed out to open water and got to fishing.
By the time we got out there, it was well past 8am, and well past the morning bite. Our only luck came in the form of 6 small sheepshead, caught in quick succession the first 30 minutes we were out. I’ve eaten them before, and they taste fine- just very bony. But these were small. We threw them back. I had one small rock bass on towards the end, but they don’t get much over 6 inches.
The only other positive of this trip, besides the family to-do, was a trip to Scheel’s, a place I find to be better than both Gander Mountain and Cabela’s combined. We both got new bow sights out of the deal. I plan to zero mine in this weekend.