Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My hunt with Brady

This time around I am writing about a hunt that I went on in honor of a little boy named Brady.  Brady is a 4 year old boy that lost his battle with cancer a little bit ago. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I was apart of it.

As I read Chico's blog and started to understand the story of Brady it really started to get to me. My wife and I have two sons around Brady's age so it hit me like a ton of bricks when I learned of the story. Because it reinforced the fact that nobody is immune to cancer. So every time I read something about Brady I knew I had to do something to honor this young man. So with seeing my Up North Journal teammates putting Brady's name on their arrows I tried to figure out what I could do now to honor Brady. Well as people close to me know lI am a huge small game hunter and I love getting new hunters especially kids started into hunting and the outdoors. Well squirrel hunting is usually the first hunting season everybody starts out with. So with this on my mind and kicking around the idea of putting Brady's name on something that I use in the field and seeing as Chico always names his arrows and shells. Then listening to the last Up North Journal podcast episode 179 when Chico was talking about putting Brady's name on your outdoor equipment, it was the final piece that made it a great idea. So this was the plan, Brady was going hunting with me on my next outdoor adventure.
I treated this hunt just like I treat every hunt when I take a youth or a new hunter out for the first time. The only difference was I was going to be pulling the trigger. I was going to use the gun I shot my first squirrel with and head out to one of my favorite local public hunting areas.

So here it is the second Sunday of the season and today is the day Brady and I were going to go hunting. My oldest son seen me getting ready to go and he knew I was going hunting. He wanted to go so bad but I told him that this time it was going to be just me going and he would go next time. Well after a little crying he was good with that. Trying to explain to a 3 year old about Brady was pointless all he understood is daddy was doing something special and will take him hunting next time. So I got to my hunting spot and sat in my car for a bit staring at the shotgun shell going over what this hunt means to me and what I wanted to get out of the hunt. So I grabbed a marker and Brady went on to the shell and him and I were off to the woods.

The area I started at has a trail system that is used for all different kinds of outdoor activities so I decided to just walk the trails for a bit and see what I could find. As I walked along I kept a keen eye out for a flicker of a tail or the rustling of leaves that would signal to me a squirrel. The first little twitch I seen was a chipmunk and I thought for a minute about harvesting the animal but after thinking about what this hunt was all about I passed on the shot and decided that if I didn't find a squirrel then I would try to harvest a chipmunk.

As the morning drew on and grew closer to the afternoon I was starting to get discouraged as the fact I haven't see one squirrel. As I sat on a stump to take a break I remembered that I had my squirrel whistle with me. Now when I hunt with other people I get a lot of teasing and looks when I use it because it looks odd for a game call but I have had good success with it. The call mimics the distress call of a squirrel and it will get other squirrels all worked up so they start barking and will help you locate them. Well I figured what the heck let's try it. As I was blowing away on the call I heard some rustling coming down the trail. Turns out it was a lady and her dog walking the trails. Well I decided that I was going to move a way from this area because even if I seen a squirrel I didn't want to scare this lady with a gun shot. So I headed down a trail that I hadn't been down before and it more looked like a deer run then a trail but I seen a bunch of old foot prints so I figured it was a regular trail. As I was walking along the trail I heard a bark from a squirrel so I knew it was game time. So as I scanned the tree tops for the source of the barks I was just hoping that it was not a woodpecker because a chirp from a woodpecker can sometime sound similar to a squirrel bark. Well i found the source of the noise and it was a red squirrel perched up on a branch about hundred yards ahead of me. Squirrels have great eye sight and hearing, many say better then a whitetail deer. It is also said that if you can sneak up on a squirrel and harvest one you should have no problem stalking a deer. Well I don't know if that is true because I have harvested a lot more squirrels then deer but that is another story. So with every step I took I made sure it was placed in a way that there was no noise. It probably looked pretty funny but it was working because I was closing in on the unsuspecting squirrel. As I got closer I started to hide behind trees and stick to the shadows. I even picked up a handful of acorns just in case I had to create a distraction for the squirrel. So as I got to within about ten yards of the tree that the squirrel was in.   I then started to go through the shot in my head because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss because this was Brady's squirrel not mine. So I pulled the hammer back on my trusty 20 gauge and took a deep breath to steady my nerves and I put the bead of the barrel up to just under the head and in one motion I squeezed the trigger and BOOM. The squirrel fell to the ground. I took a quick scan of the tree to get a reference of the tree so I knew were to start the tracking. As I walked up to the tree I started to scan the ground and found the squirrel laying only feet away from the base of the tree. As I picked up the game to admire what God had created I took a moment to stop and take in what had just transpired. I unloaded the spent shell and stood there with the squirrel in one hand and Brady's shell in the other and just enjoyed the peace of the outdoors. After a couple of moments I did the sign of the cross and said a couple of prayers. First to thank God for the gift of the squirrel and then I said a prayer for Brady and his family and make sure that there was peace with both of them and someday they will be reunited.

So after saying my prayers and getting the squirrel into the game bag I grabbed my gun and walked along the trails back to the car. I didn't load another shell into my gun that day because this hunt was for Brady and not for me so I just walked the trails and enjoyed the fresh air and the serenity of the outdoors. As I got back to my car and was putting my gun and vest into the trunk I looked back to the woods and just had a huge smile on my face hoping that Brady was happy with the harvest. So after a quick drive home I went to the garage and set all of my stuff down and went inside and hugged the family and showed the boys Brady's squirrel. After I processed the squirrel and a quick clean up I took a piece of the tail and I will be using the fur to tie some flies so Brady and I can go fly fishing together real soon.

Thank You for taking the time to read this and always remember to never take anything or anybody for granted because you never know when it will be taken away. Enjoy the Great Outdoors and be safe out there.

Brady you made this hunt one of the best. Thank You again little buddy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hello Old Friend

Ah hunting season, it is like that old friend you haven't seen in a while but it is like you all never left each other. My first taste of the Good Life is the early goose season here in Michigan. I am going to tell ya if you have never tried goose hunting it is a trip.  Even if you don't like the taste of goose you can always donate the meat to a charity or soup kitchen. Early goose season is a great way to start the hunting season. It is still warm out so you don't have to get all of your big bulky camo out, you get to hang out with family and friends, and plus you don't have be quiet until the birds start coming in. So that means you can rekindle friendships and work on new ones. For me it also helps me recharge my batteries. Nothing beats sitting in a blind or laying in a layout blind and hearing the crickets and birds fly over that just makes things better.  This year was no different except for the fact that there were hardly any birds where I was hunting and the weather was not helping. I tried to fight it with every fiber of my being but I ended up saving my vacation day and I went to work instead of hunting opening day. Because it was a balmy 90 degrees on opening day and there were no birds to be found in the areas I was hunting.  There was just a hand full of people that I talk with on the social network sites that had birds but even their numbers were down. So as I was working away at my job kicking myself for not going out on OPENING DAY and dreaming of the flocks of geese that were still in Canada.  It was brought to my attention that I had forgotten about a vacation day that was coming up on the Friday of the first weekend of the season.  After finding that out I was in hunting mode. My brother called me and said he was going to be hunting some state land that Friday and wanted to know if I wanted to go. Well after twisting my arm I said YES.  Well the night before we were to go out it was my youngest sons birthday so the family and I went up to my parents house and had a great time talking hunting with my brother Joe and hanging out with my family.

So my opening morning was finally here. 2:30 am came way to early but it is hunting season so it is worth the trouble.  I headed up to my parents house to meet up with Joe. We piled into his truck and we were North bound and down.  Well we ended up with a spot that has always been good to me and my brother.  As a matter of fact him and one of his buddies hunted it during the week and got 2 geese. So we unloaded all of the stuff into the blind. Joe ran back to the truck for something and I went out and set up the decoys. Just before light I heard a lone honk in the distance so I was already getting excited. The lone goose must have known the shooting hours because 3 minutes before legal shooting hours the goose flew over the blind. I could have been mistaken but it looked like he looked back at me and stuck up a feather to tell me GOOD LUCK.  So my brother made it back to the blind so that meant it was game time for the Duncan boys to lay the smack down. Well things were so fast paste and exciting that I was able to take a quick nap and finish reading a old hunting news paper that I had in my pack. After a couple of hours Joe heard a honk and yelled get down.  He started making sweet music with his Get Em Locked Up goose call. Well I had a chance to see the goose out of the corner of my eye. It was a beautiful sight wings cupped feet down and gliding into the decoys. For a moment I forgot to shoot because I was enjoying the show. Which in hind site might have been a good thing. After emptying my gun and my brother emptying his gun we watched the goose turn and fly off  to enjoy another day in the great outdoors.

Even though that was the closest I got to a goose this early season it was still a good early goose season. Next on my list is small game season that opens up on the 15th. So again I will be in the field with friends and family chasing the bushy tails and maybe a random crow.  So until next time everybody be safe out there and enjoy the Great Outdoors.