Michigan has been extremely frustrating weather wise the past few years. I swear its the new Seattle, minus the redwoods. Winters are wet and sporadic. You never know what you’re going to get. It could blizzard one day and downpour the next. I never thought I’d see anything but white while rabbit hunting in January, but February hit with a vengeance just as I was getting acclimated to the warm, spring weather. Now, here we are in March and the snow is practically gone after getting a blizzard a week ago.
There are three pieces of public land near my home in West Michigan; one within minutes of my driveway. I frequent this land often though “Haunt” would actually be a better word. The smallest of the three is probably only 50 acres and I have laid claim to it. I realize it isn’t mine, but it feels like it. I’m the only one there most weekends, especially this time of year. I know it intimately now.
You can find me there most Sunday mornings as this is West Michigan and most are at mass. We enjoy mass too, but I prefer the outdoor kind. I’ve never felt closer to the Lord than when I’m in the woods. I tell my wife I’m “squirrel or rabbit hunting”, but I am actually roaming as I seldom shoot anything. I bring a few flu flus with me in case I spy something worth shooting at, otherwise I just want to be outside, regardless of the conditions. I bring my daughter Aubrey with me often, but the snow has proven too deep for her little legs as of late, so I left her with her mother last weekend.
I needed to take some photos for an article I’ve been working on and thought it would be a lot easier to do so without a toddler in tow asking for a piggy back ride or juice box.
It was a dreary day: very wet; very sloppy; very warm. I wore a set of 230g merino base layers in addition to a wool button up shirt and a pair of waterproof Under Armour pants and thought I was going to melt in the humidity. After an hour of climbing slushy ravines and sliding down the opposite side, I came damn close. I loved every minute of it, but it laid me to waste the rest of the day and reminded me how out of shape being a father has made me. I was a workout warrior in my pre-daddy life and haven’t adjusted to this state if inactivity I’ve been forced into.
There was deer sign everywhere, which warmed my heart a bit and gave me an excuse to rest. I was under the assumption that many had perished last spring from EHD and I was delighted to find I was wrong. I had yet to find a single carcass and there was fresh sign everywhere, including droppings in all of my ground blinds, which were destroyed by the constant traffic (and weather). Apparently these deer think little of me despite killing one of their sisters last Fall, which may work to my benefit.
Speaking of last season’s harvest, I returned to that spot to find it full of fresh sign once more and considered trying it this season, this time with new knowledge and fresh tactics. The discovery lit a fire under me and I’ve been anxiously looking forward to October since,but there is fun to be had in the meantime and the unpredictability of Michigan will not stop me from having it.
Don’t let the weather keep you inside – ever – even if it pours (which it did shortly after taking this photo).