Thankful Outdoors: September 27th through October 3rd
September 27th – Fall fishing trip allows us to take in some fantastic colors
Connor, Bryce, and I were able to sneak away for a few hours to see if we could get some crappie action that we have heard about. It was a windy but beautiful fall day to head up north!
We decided to head to a little lake in Taylor County to drift and troll for crappies. I enjoy fishing these small lakes; they are lakes that don’t need fancy electronics or fancy techniques. Just a simple method of drifting and trolling with a jig and twister tail.
We hadn’t been on the water for 10 minutes; real big crappie had slammed my twister tail. It was beautiful, dark crappie that had big ole shoulders on it. Fighting these fish on my Elk River ultra-light gear is so much fun!
When our outings start like this, it gives hope that it will be a very productive outing. Well, this afternoon would turn out to not be that way at all. I had boated a few smaller fish, and since I only had the one in the live well, it was released to be caught for another time.
The boys had struggled to get a bite; these outings are tough for me because I sit at the front of the boat, praying to the fishing gods to give the boys some action. Sometimes those darn fishing gods just don’t hear me, though.
The fall colors that surrounded us were impressive to our eye, just as if a little kid was looking at a box full of Crayola crayons! We enjoyed taking in the colors and commenting on what parts of the forest were are favorite.
We decided to come off the lake and take a drive to the Mondeaux Flowage area. One of our favorite spots to visit when in this area is the Mondeau Glacial Spring. That cold refreshing water that runs all year long feels so good to splash onto your face or take a sip to quench a thirst.
Whenever I’m at the water fountain, two memories bring out a chuckle in me.
When we were younger, this spring was the water source for the hunting crew during the nine-day gun season; everyone in deer camp would go along on this drive to the spring to fill water bottles.
Cousin, Eric, was a tall thin kid with feet that often didn’t seem to fit his body. We all had those awkward stages in life as we were teens.
As you can imagine, wintertime, running water, a hillside equals an equation of slippery slope. Eric is coming down the hill carrying his jug of water, and his feet start slipping out from him. He was soon an image of what Wily E. Coyote looked like often in his awkward falls as he chased the Road Runner. Eric skates down the hill and hits the bottom jug in hand and upright and says, “I’m okay, Dad!” That sure gave us a chuckle, and it has for many years after.
The second memory is that during rifle season, we had just finished our annual visit to Grandpa (Walt) Hopperdietzel’s stump of where he had shot his last deer; tradition is to always stop at the spring before heading home.
Niece, Kayla, who was young and silly, was happy to be along with the family making all the memories and hearing stories. Kayla was the last one left at the spring; the rest of us had walked down to the bottom of the hill. Dad yells up to Kayla as she starts to walk away from the spring, “Kayla, don’t forget to turn off the water!” Kayla turns around and starts looking for a shut-off valve. The group soon realizes that she is seriously looking hard for this non-existent shut-off valve, and we all burst into laughter.
September 28th – My first sit in the tree, disappointed in trail camera
I was able to get out of work a little early, and I had high hopes of getting into the stand. I would sit a spot that I have been running trail camera in since September 6th. I had not checked on this camera since I put it up.
I packed the camera arm and camcorder on this trip to film this outing. Last season I had dedicated more time to film my hunts. It’s a lot of extra work and weight, but it’s something that I enjoy.
As I got to the base of the tree, I decided to check the SD card in my trail camera. I was disappointed to see that not one deer had walked down the trail in 22 days. I debated on moving onto the next spot I had in mind but decided to give it a try and treat this sit more of like a scouting sit to see what was moving in the area.
One benefit of bringing a camcorder with you is that it fills the downtime you have when you do not have any animal movement. Around 6:30, I had a doe slip in, and I could film while the doe fed outside of bow range. This doe would be the only deer that moved in the area that night.
September 29th – Boone’s first bird hunt of the year
I got home from work and decided it would be a lovely evening for a walk in the woods; as I changed and grabbed the .410 shotgun, Boone knew what was coming, and his excitement had him bolt for the door. I don’t know who enjoys getting out into the outdoors more, my dog or me? They say that dogs will take on some of their owners’ personalities; I guess that might explain why Boone gets so excited!
Being a young dog yet, Boone still has a lot of energy, and he hunts fast. It’s all part of training him and trying to get him to slow down. His eagerness had created opportunities on one grouse and three woodcock.
As the sun was setting in the distance and we climbed back into the truck, Boone gave me that look of thanks for taking me out tonight, and I smiled and scratched his ears, saying, “who’s a good boy!” Sure, I was disappointed that we were not able to work on any retrieving skills that night, but I still enjoyed the evening with my dog in the woods.
October 3rd – Todd goes back out to duck hunt, and the outfitter tent is northbound
Last week you read about Todd’s first outing as a duck hunter; well, he wanted to go back at it again. Saturday morning, we head back to the beaver pond in hopes to get a duck or two.
As we slipped along the foggy edge of the pond, Todd noticed two white objects on the far side of the pond; as the sun rose and fog started to lift, we had realized that we had two swans on the pond with us.
The morning brought a couple of missed shots and a shell that did not go off. That shell had saved a duck that day! Through all the commotion though those swans did not leave that pond, at one point, they even swam into the decoy spread! Boone and the swans talked to each other a little bit; they had to have sat in front of us for 15 minutes or more.
After duck hunting for the morning, Boone and I loaded up the Dodge Ram with the outfitter tent, the stove, wood, and other camping essentials. Off to Cooper Dam, we headed! Mom and Dad were already at the site; Kurt and Jess showed up to help get camp setup as well.
The reason for us setting up camp today was to get ready for the youth hunt on October 10th and 11th. I have set up these camps before myself, but it sure makes things go much easier when you have extra hands.
After getting camp set up, Mom and Dad played a game of cards, Boone and I enjoyed hamburgers cooked in the cast iron pan over the outfitter stove. It’s a bit bias probably, but that burger tasted better than any Culver’s butter burger I have had!
As Mom and Dad left, I stoked the stove with plenty of firewood and laid down to take a nap. After catching up on some sleep, Boone and I decided we would be social with the bear hunters using the campground for the weekend.
As we go through introductions around the campfire, we soon realize that we have some common acquaintances in life. I chuckle to myself as I think geez I drive a little over an hour away from home, to spend a weekend in a remote lifestyle, and meet people from back home, sure can be a small world!
I have found that a campfire and the outdoors often shrink the world. I have sat around campfires with close friends and loved ones. I also have sat around with absolute strangers to find that a campfire will remove all sorts of classes that society has labeled on people; it just people enjoying each other’s company for a few hours in time.
Soon it was time to head back to the tent; the fire had gone out in the woodstove. I grabbed dry pine needles and leaves, threw a little kindling in the stove, and with a strike of a match, a yellow flame was soon glowing.
Within minutes a roar and crackle from the fire had the tent toasty warm. I sat and listened to the pop and hissing of the old Coleman lantern. A person unplugs from the TV, your mind empties from many things and gets filled with peace and serenity.
Boone climbs into the cot with me for warmth, and I think about the rock band from the ’60s who called themselves Three Dog Night. I had learned from my friend Rick that they had created their name for this three-person band from the Australian expression describing the colder the night, the more dogs needed to keep warm while sleeping.
As morning came and the temp had dropped down to 26 degrees, Boone and I both had figured we needed a couple more dogs over the night. I had slept so hard that I had let the fire go out, and it needed to be started back up.
Boone had learned that if he lay next to the stove, it would provide additional warmth for him; I started to make breakfast. Dad was coming back up north to join Boone and me for the day of scouting and grouse hunting. The smell of bacon and eggs in the outfitter tent is one that makes my mouth water.
After we finished eating, we headed out for the days’ adventure, a few grouse were found, and our spot for the upcoming youth hunt had been picked out and marked for the upcoming weekend.
In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!
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