Matt Goes Up North Solo

Matt’s brother got his weekends mixed up, and told us the wrong ones for his next trip up to the cabin. Originally, he told us the 11th and 12th, so I asked that weekend off, and volunteered myself to work all of this past weekend. Well, that wasn’t what he meant, so I had nine days of work in a row (5 more to go), including this past weekend, and Matt went up without me. However, given the intense stomach virus I was struck with Saturday night into Sunday, maybe it’s best I was somewhere with indoor plumbing.

He had some lackluster duck hunting, tried some grouse hunting, and checked all the trail cameras up there. There are way more deer showing up, but as with every year, this coincides with his grandfather putting out bait.

There was one other reason Matt had to go up north this weekend.

A cute, fuzzy reason that chews on things he isn't supposed to, and pees on the floor.

A cute, fuzzy reason that chews on things he isn’t supposed to, and pees on the floor.

Matt finally got his retriever puppy. I love puppies, but then again I’m also the one doing all the work home for most of the day. We have our work cut out for us house training him, and getting the basics instilled. Then it’s off to formal bird dog training. We also haven’t picked out a name yet.

Trail Cameras, June and July 2014

Last Sunday, Matt and I headed on over to check our trail cameras. We’ll probably get one more good check on them before hunting season starts. We got some images, though there aren’t as many good ones as the last time we checked them.

So, we’re still only seeing two different bucks. We didn’t get a good image of their antlers, but a month ago they looked pretty good. Hopefully we can get out soon and check out some new areas to hunt- I have some serious reservations about hunting this area again, even with how much time we’ve dumped into it (almost three years).

One positive is that on the way home, we found a new spot to duck hunt in. One that won’t require a mud motor to access, and which will hopefully be less populated than Mud Lake. Wisconsin opened an early teal season this year, so we hope to make use of the new spot.

We’re also at the month-and-a-half mark until Matt can go up for bear season.

Trout and Trail Cameras.

Sunday afternoon, we headed out to check our game cameras after a month of leaving them alone. Mostly, it was Trail Camera Images Starring Squirrel and Leaf (one camera had over 700 images. 690 of moving leaf), but we got some pretty good images.

And since we were out that way, it meant trying our hand at trout fishing again. Which also meant Matt getting one trout, losing one, and me getting none. However, I did find a hole in each wader. The bright side is that I found said holes long before the icy water of duck season would be a problem. Now I have even more reason to upgrade to chest waders. Plus, my line broke at the spool, so I spent 15 or 20 minutes in thigh deep water, trying to re-rig my ling with one hand. A lot of agricultural run off goes into this creek, so a lot of it is silting in. I got stuck with both legs in soft, knee deep, sucking mud. Matt’s trout was a nice one, though. I just don’t really enjoy fishing Black Earth Creek.

Looking west, downstream.

Looking west, downstream.

Matt's little rainbow.

Matt’s little rainbow.

Fishing & Mushroom Hunting

We headed up to Cherokee Marsh yesterday, hoping to catch a big catfish or two.

Looking down the channel from the launch towards the main marsh

Looking down the channel from the launch towards the main marsh

The little Sea3horse survived winter.

The little Sea3horse survived winter. And the underbrush is finally just starting to green up.

We were out for a solid 4 hours, but sadly no cats. Mostly panfish seemed to be biting, and softly. Some other sort of fish were jumping, though, and clearing the water. Spawning probably. Maybe the sheepsheads or carp? We aren’t sure, we never got any of them to bite. Our solitary catch last night was a very nice sized crappie.

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13 inch female crappie

13 inch female crappie

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When we cleaned the fish, we saw she still hadn’t spawned yet. The walleyes went about a week ago, so the panfish spawn is probably a week or two out, once the water gets closer to 50F.

In addition to our first fishing trip, we got out and hung some more trail cameras on Saturday afternoon. We found some interesting new spots, so hopefully something cool turns up. While Matt hung cameras, I poked around looking for morels. I found mayapples and fern fiddleheads, which are supposed to come up just before the mushrooms do.

Not sure if these are the edible ostrich ferns or not.

Not sure if these are the edible ostrich ferns or not.

My dad’s been out picking for the last week down in Missouri, and he says they’re nearing the end of morel season with 80F temps on the way. He’s got over 20 pounds of the things, most of them in the process of dehydrating. I told him they sell for around $20 a pound. He’s contemplating driving up to my home area in the Illinois Valley, about 4 hours north of St Louis, to continue picking, and then up here to me. We’re supposed to get some temps in the 60s and 70s, but this time with nights above freezing. That plus the solid week of rain last week makes me think this week will be a good one for mushrooms. I hope so, I haven’t had morels in ages.

Spring Turkey Mini-Movie.

Who doesn’t love a little stop motion animation? The way the Primos DPS cameras work is to take photos at set intervals during the daylight hours. An advantage of this is they will sometimes capture pictures of animals at a distance farther than a traditional triggered game camera will. They also have a pretty wide viewing area. The down side is that they don’t shoot at night, and that they produce an ungodly amount of data to sift through on a program that’s wonky at best. They also store images in .jpx format, more or less unviewable outside of said wonky program. However, we’ve gotten 3/4 of the Primos Cameras cleared, and the images of animals flagged, converted to jpg, and I put them into Windows Movie Maker today and set them to a bit of music with some other images. Enjoy!

We Actually Had Decent Luck With Trail Cameras.

Yesterday we collected the trail cams we put out two weeks ago. I’ve gone through all the images from the traditional trail cameras, and I have some I’d like to share. So, those first. Near Matt’s stand location (which has a high probability of being my stand location):

Near my stand was a completely different story. Mostly one of a very busy squirrel, and a couple of raccoons.

Can you spot the squirrel?

Can you spot the squirrel?

We thought they were deer at first.

We thought they were deer at first.

But nope, just a pair for raccoons.

But nope, just a pair for raccoons.

Additionally, we put up a camera in the creek bottom where we found deer bedding sign last Spring. Unfortunately, it captured 4 images of nothing in particular. But we did find this on the ground.

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We still have reams (and reams and reams) of pictures to process through from our Primos DPS cameras. I’m talking 24,000+ pictures. Per camera. And there’s 3 of them. So far, we’ve gotten through most of two of them, and caught a couple images of turkeys here and there. However, we had them set on a 30 second interval- there’s probably a lot we missed, but this way we were able to leave them up for two weeks. Matt hopes to trawl through all the thousands of photos in the software that came with the cameras. It’s clunky and weird anyway, but this poor little netbook makes it even slower and clunkier. Any photos we glean from that will get posted here, as well as used to determine where I’ll sit for turkeys come Wednesday. Oh yeah: two days until turkey season for me.

Early Spring Turkey Scouting

Sunday afternoon we finally got out in the woods a bit. The weather warmed up significantly this weekend- near 60 on Sunday, with a high of 62 for Monday. It’ll drop back down the rest of the week, but we got out while we could and hung trail cams and did some light scouting ahead of turkey season.

Deer Camp and Thanksgiving

I finally make my return after a several day absence. We returned from Deer Camp and Thanksgiving late on Saturday night. This will probably be the first of three or so posts on the last weekend of gun season. On the one hand, we had incredible luck- we returned from northeast Wisconsin with two deer strapped to our cargo carrier. On the other hand, we had what I can only call Pech. It’s the German word for bad luck, but it’s also the German word for pitch (pine tar, not the action in baseball). The German word for good luck, Glück, only really has positive connotations, and making the straight antonym of it doesn’t quite reach as far as I’d like. Pech describes our circumstances so much better, both because of the negative connotations, as well as the idea that it just sticks to you and doesn’t come off.  The bad luck enters when I didn’t fill any of my tags or see deer, when Matt backed the truck into a tree, mangling our cargo carrier, and when the scope on my rifle came loose. Oh, and the fact that the week before we arrived, most of Matt’s younger cousins had been running amok all over the hunting land. The roads were rutted all to hell from inexperienced teenagers attempting to drive off road, we found bottle rocket leftovers in front of the cabin, they’d shot two porcupines, and the deer were spooked for miles around.

Short linguistic tangent and rant about Kids These Days over, I’ll sum things up with words before throwing up a huge gallery of photos. The two deer were both Matt’s work. I got video of the first, as we were sitting next to each other on the edge of an unused cow pasture. The video is saving as I type, and I have yet to even upload it to YouTube- it will go up this afternoon, I suspect. It was a great shot, and he was happy to get it out of the way. That one he got on Thanksgiving day, as we headed out from dinner at his grandparents to hunt that pasture down the road. She was a little doe- probably a yearling.

We hunted that same pasture Friday night after helping his dad with some projects, and getting the blower fan in the truck replaced (in other news, the Durango has heat for the first time since we bought it. Hooray!). However, Friday night, his dad and his youngest stepbrother also hunted the pasture. Poor little kid has both inadequate gear and instruction in hunting- it was about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit all day, and he got cold fast. He was shivering audibly, and left his stand with about 35 minutes of light left. His stand was right on the trail the deer came from on Thursday night- we weren’t going to see anything. I doubt anyone told him he has to stay out until damn near full dark.

Saturday morning, we hunted but didn’t see anything. The trail camera we put out over a bait pile the night before picked up images, however, so it was heartening. The deer were getting unspooked after a couple quiet days. Saturday afternoon, we replenished bait piles that were gone Saturday morning, after not having been hit for days. Saturday evening, I didn’t see a thing, in spite of heavy sign and a rub near my stand. I would hear Matt shoot, and that’s when he got his second deer- a much bigger doe we had captured at the same bait pile the night before, and I suspect the one I passed on back in September. She’s a biggun. Lengthy summarization over, let there be photographs.

So, the video should go up this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll have a post about the last evening of gun season down in Madison tomorrow. Black powder rifle season started at sun up today, and goes until this Sunday. We basically get a chance to fill any tags left over from gun season. According to Matt the moon phase today and tomorrow is good for hunting- I may make it out tonight. This weekend we hope to be heading to a kind acquaintance’s out in Richland Center to hunt with our muzzle loaders.