This is why we never fish the Madison chain.

We went fishing Sunday morning. It was cold, windy, and snowy. We didn’t catch anything.

The leftover "lrage muskie sucker". He survived the trip and is residing comfortably in our bait tank.

The leftover “large muskie sucker”. He survived the trip and is residing comfortably in our bait tank.

Looking across the lake at Governor's Island and the Maple Bluff area

Looking across the lake at Governor’s Island and the Maple Bluff area

Looking straight east across the lake. Our house would be in this direction, about 3 miles from the lakeshore.

Looking straight east across the lake. Our house would be in this direction, about 3 miles from the lakeshore.

The west end of UW's campus, mostly the medical campus.

The west end of UW’s campus, mostly the medical campus.

Snowflakes on my glove

Snowflakes on my glove

We were in about 8 feet of water, and marking fish.

We were in about 8 feet of water, and marking fish.

Not for the first time, we were marking fish. But they wanted nothing to do with us, in spite of bait and lure changes. Green/orange jigs typically do well for panfish for us, but not lately. Pink is another one we’ve had luck with, but not this day. School after school passed through, with no bites. Matt did have a flag on the big sucker right away, and whatever it was stripped line, but spat the bait. Something that took an 8 inch long, 2 inch diameter sucker had to have been huge, though.

Most of last weekend outside of Sunday morning’s short fishing trip was spent relaxing- Matt’s been puling 4 or 5 days of 16 hour + shifts, plus dropping into the office on weekends and calling the guys to keep them on track. They’re working to meet goals for the beginning of February. February-March-April is hands-down the worst time for recruiters. The last 3 I’ve witnessed have been bad, and this year is no different. Everyone’s burnt out, and there’s no end in sight yet. We’re not too sure where we’re going fishing this coming weekend, but we won’t be limited to just Madison. Maybe Fox Lake again, or make a return to Rock Lake for the first time since last year.

Home made wine and duck decoys.

I have off Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Given how much I’ve been working this summer, I planned to get a ton of things done during this downtime. Duck season starts Saturday, and deer is ongoing. If I don’t do it now, it will never get done.

So. I spent my Wednesday chipping away at my (still growing) to-do list. I picked up around the back yard- dog poo, lawn furniture, sticks, dog toys, dying flowers, the works. I mowed, front and back. I treated the lawn for bugs and fleas, bathed the dogs, scrubbed the bath tub and bathroom. Plus, doing laundry, washing dishes, and making a short run to the grocery store. I have more to get done Thursday (organizing the hunting room, cleaning under the bed, going through my closet/dresser, running to Goodwill, cleaning Matt’s truck). By the time I was hungry, it was about 6pm. I was going to make myself a nice dinner, and enjoy a glass of wine.

SAMSUNG

Yeah, that’s my homebrew. It’s good. This particular bottle didn’t really carbonate. There’s the tiniest suggestion of fizz to it, which isn’t all that bad, really. It reminds me of a nice pinot noir. I’m no sommelier, though, to be going on about tannins and floral notes, though. So, I made a pretty tame dinner of acorn squash and chicken, and had a very healthily poured glass of wine.

Matt came home in the middle of it, and decided to start getting his decoys set up for the duck opener. So, my livingroom, my nice clean livingroom (albeit in need of a few passes of the vacuum), is populated with a flock of artificial waterfowl.

SAMSUNG SAMSUNG SAMSUNG

At least they’re all nicely rigged now, and won’t tangle horribly like last year. I have to work Saturday and Sunday morning, but Matt’s plan is to take a couple of the other recruiters with him, to get out in the field for a day, shooting. They do spend entirely too much time cooped up in the office.

Up Nort’ Eh?

Late Friday night, we began the trek up north for a hunting trip. I got off work and home around 8:45, and we left the house by about 9:30. The drive to Matt’s grandfather’s hunting land takes about 4 hours. We got there and in bed by around 2.

Matt's grandad has a liter log cabin. It's cozy.

Matt’s grandad has a literal log cabin. It’s cozy.

Last Saturday was the duck opener in the northern zone of Wisconsin, and Matt’s brother had been scouting the creek on the land the night before. His quote was, I believe, 300 ducks. Shooting time on opening day is 9:00 am. We were up around 6:30, getting things in our canoe, when Matt’s brother and his friend showed up with a canoe of their own. They’re duck hunting newbies like us.

Looking out over the rice.

Looking out over the rice.

Our wind-operated Mojo ducks

Our wind-operated Mojo ducks

We got the canoes in, and followed Matt’s brother upstream. This particular creek had at one point been a Class A trout stream, until the DNR seeded it with wild rice, slowing down the current and forcing silt to settle. It’s now a swampy little creek. Sad for the trout fishing, but the ducks just love the wild rice. Paddling Dragging and shoving canoes though it wasn’t any fun, but eventually we found a spot. We got one little teal that day- luckily no more than that, because finding that one duck when it fell into the rice was incredibly difficult. We need to get a retriever.

We called it around 10:30, and began to paddle back. We marked a spot that we figured would be better hunting, as the water wasn’t choked with rice here. Any falling birds would be easier to go get, and we could walk to a spot on the bank from the cabin.

We returned to the cabin to warm up and have lunch. Temps the night before had been in the 30s, and it was chilly in the morning, the day’s high was maybe 49, and windy. Brother’s friend was heading out for the day, but Matt, Brother, and I were all hunting- Brother and I for deer, Matt for turkey. Matt helped me put up my ladder stand- literally behind the cabin, over a mineral lick and some apples. Then he headed off to his grandpa’s farm, about 40 minutes away.

The view from my tree stand.

The view from my tree stand.

I got into my stand way earlier than I needed to, with it so close to the cabin. I was up there by 2:30. So, I spent the next 3 and a half hours looking around at the woods, nervously counting the piles of bear shit (my bow is not powerful enough to kill a bear, I’d only piss it off) mere feet from the base of my ladder, and trying not to doze off. The first deer I saw that night appeared right around 6pm.  They were well out of range, but I still enjoyed watching them- a doe and a large fawn. They wandered around in front of me for a bit, and the doe stopped to stare towards my stand. I thought she saw me, but she probably just smelled the apples under me. They left for a while, and I saw another deer even farther away doing deer things. A skunk scurried by, and I listened to coyotes for a bit, nervous at first that they were wolves.

Much closer to dark, I was thinking about undoing my safety harness and going inside (I am not used to the cold yet- the week before, we’d had temps near 90, and all of a sudden it was 45 and windy). The doe and her fawn showed back up. They wanted apples. The fawn crunched on the mineral lick for a bit, but the doe went to town on the apples. She was picking them up and flinging them. Not to mention chewing, snorting, and gulping so loud I could barely keep from laughing. She was healthy- big, fat, and sleek. I had only brought my buck tag with me, thinking my doe tags were only good for our area in Madison- they say CWD/Herd Control, and my buck tag says “Statewide”. So, I thought I had to pass on her. Plus, she had a fawn with her. So, I could have gotten my first deer, but decided not to. She hung out under my stand for a good 20 minutes, clowning it up, until Brother pulled back up to the cabin from the back 40.  I headed in, and once Matt showed up, we grabbed burgers at a bar in town. Then we passed out hard. More hunting in the morning.

We were up by 5 the next morning. We wanted to squeeze in some more duck hunting before jetting back to Madison so Matt could brief some kids about to ship to boot camp. Plus, opening weekend is this coming Saturday in the southern zone, and we know how crowded things get down here- it was nice to only have one other pair of guys hunting. It was a gorgeous day, dawning sunny and chilly at 35. A fog did spring up just as the sun came up, keeping a lot of birds on the water. Eventually we were able to do some shooting.

Brother’s friend got himself a nice teal drake. Matt got a wood duck drake. Brother’s gun jammed pretty hard, and he wasn’t able to shoot anything. But. I got my first duck. A mallard hen. A group of about 4 birds buzzed over us while Matt was searching the trees on the opposite bank for a fallen duck. Dismayed that we couldn’t call them in, we watched them fly away. But they turned, and they came back to us. She was flying directly at me. I lined my shot up, squeezed, and watched her crumple into the weeds near the bank. A smaller version of that rush I got from my first deer bloomed in my chest. I walked down the bank to grab my duck. Matt promised to mount it for me, and it’s sitting in tanning solution right now.

Not too bad considering we got this many ducks all of last season.

Not too bad considering we got this many ducks all of last season.

My hen.

My hen.

 

Not a bad start to duck season, even if I have to work during our local opener.

Quick update

This weekend turned out to be a little lackluster. Matt’s home from training finally, but our local 4H fair was last week and weekend, and they put up a tent there and have the pull up bars up and the information cards- I’m sure you’ve seen the set up before. His boss is out of town and Matt’s his second in command. He had to be there both weekend days. Yesterday, it stormed like nobody’s business. We left the fair early, but it continued to rain and we stayed in. But I did get to go look at the sheep and goats. There were lots of very nice, big cows (hello, Wisconsin), but I really just want some sheep and goats. Matt thinks I’m nuts.

To top all that off, I worked an 11 hour day on Saturday, came home, and just went to bed. Even more topping? The power cable for my laptop finally bit it. At one point, the dog had chewed on it, plus Matt took it on a deployment or two. The entire laptop’s seen better days. Hopefully replacing the cord will solve the problem, because I’m on my tablet right now. I found the WordPress app, which works better than using WP in my browser, but typing on a virtual keyboard pretty much sucks. It also means I can only use my phone to take pictures, as it only has a micro SD card reader. But- I’m off today and tomorrow, thank goodness. If Matt can cut out a little early today (he is about to leave his current position, and his replacement is here), we’re going fishing. At least yesterday’s storm broke that horrible heat wave. The fish might actually come out of the deep water.

Expect the Unexpected, Then Hurry Up and Wait.

Over the last few days, I’ve been contacting guide services down around Houston and Galveston, and corresponding with Andy over at Tremendous Whatnot about things to do in Texas. We’d crunched the numbers on gas (yikes the Durango sucks it down even when not towing a 47 year old camper), lodging between campgrounds and a hotel here or there, outlined what to do about both food to eat and how to get meat back north unspoiled, and planned on getting the Durango checked out for cross-country travel. We were going to use a camping trip over the weekend of the 4th as a scale test run on gas mileage, etc. I even had my boss front-load the month of July for my work hours, and I was planning on picking up a bunch of extra shifts to get a bit more cash.

Yesterday, it was pretty slow at work, and I was letting Matt know I was about to pick up a double to pitch in for trip money. He texted me “I think I just got fucjed” (that was really the typo in his text). I called him and was able to talk just long enough to find out that, somehow, someone at Command had messed up. His leave had been approved a week or two ago.The training course he has to take was scheduled for August, and had been solidified for at least two months, if not longer. However, he got the news yesterday that a screw up had been made; his leave had been cancelled, and the training course had been moved up to mid-July, partially covering the time his leave would have been in effect. He was furious.

He’ll find out today whether this is something that can get reversed without screwing him over for leave, or if someone else’s f-up means we can’t take this much-needed vacation- something neither of us has had in more than three years. If it ends up that we can’t, Matt still has to use his leave by October or lose it, but we’ll at least have a chance to save up a bit more for the trip. We’ll know for sure later today, and I’ll have to contact the guide services to get them to stop calling me. At least I hadn’t put down any deposits. I would like to say that after nearly three years of this particular assignment, nothing could faze me anymore- and not much does- but as soon as I say that with any conviction, they’ll find new and innovative ways.

As a good friend of mine, and fellow Marine Significant Other (she’s a wife, I’m not) says: Semper Gumby.