Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reflections for 2009 The Good Bad and Ugly

Well here we are. 2009 is just about over, and what a year it has been. If I could sum it up with one word it would have to be "Hysteria" (behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess). Emotional excess being the key part of that definition. For me emotions ran wild during 2009.
It started with some ice fishing in January. I was working over 70 hours a week and pulling double shifts. I would go in at 4:00 A.M. work til 4:00 P.M. go ice fish for a couple hours and work til midnight and do it all over again the next day. It was tiresome but I am always told by older and wiser people "your young, you can do it." Well I did it until I was permenantly laid off in February.

I took up fly tying in the winter to add another weapon to my fishing arsenal. Talk about getting addicted. I learned to tie from Jac Ford who guides on the PM (Pere Marquette) as well as Montana. This is one heck of a guide who isn't afraid to share his knowledge with anyone. He is a great teacher and I was thankful to learn from someone like him.

Then came the spring and I was on the road all the time. I was chasing spring steelie's (steelhead) and getting ready for the trout opener. Well the trout opener came in April and started off just like years past. WET! It always seems to rain when the opener gets here but oh well you just have to put on your big boy drawers or for you ladies reading, big girl panties and play the hand your dealt. I had a guy come up that wanted to catch his first brook trout so I was on a mission. After letting the rain subside we got after it and by the grace of God he got it.
Hunting for trout continued throughout the summer. I had a buddy Art who was able to go with me and man it was a blast. I caught a nice trophy brown trout one June evening that came in at just shy of 22 inches. What a great time. We had a newbie (someone new to the game) along who didn't believe that fish got that big in this small a stream. Well we proved it to him as Art also caught a nice 19 inch brown before dark.
I was able to get my wife her first pair of waders so she could get out and see what makes me tick. The day we went the water was gin clear and low. This makes for some tough fishing. We gave it a shot and only had a couple hours before we had to go get our son so we moved at a brisk pace. At the last bend we were going to be able to fish I told her to cast under the the log and "Fish On!" Her first brown came to net and was sent back to catch another day.

Then we took our vacation up to Burt Lake. We go the same time every year. The hexagenia limbata (hex hatch, big mayfly) happens at this time and there is nothing better than seeing those things. Except if your fishing for something other than trout. We fished for some walleye and pike and managed to catch enough for some tasty dinners. I didn't get the big pike this year. That honor went to my wife.

Well summer went on and fall was here before I knew it. September first I was in the field for some early goose action. That week was total chaos. We hunted all over the state. This is when I hooked up with UNJ. We filmed non stop for the two week period and got no sleep. I wrote down that I got about 18 hours in that first week. Whew! We had a great time and got a lot of new people out in the field. All I can say is a good time was had by all.

Then came the early doe season. I was able to have my compadre (n. Chiefly Southwestern U.S.A close friend or associate; a companion.) Art along to video my first ever doe harvest on camera. What a great feeling that was and to be able to have a great friend along for the ride was even better. (You can check it out at http://www.upnorthjournal.com/ Episode 5) It was his first time running a camera and he did a great job. Maybe next time he will turn it on sooner when I tell him I hear deer coming!

Then we segway into October and the start of archery deer and duck season. I was fortunate enough to take a ten point with my bow. This was the first one taken with my bow and it was a rush. I thought I missed him when he acted as if he wasn't shot but he only went 15 yards before he piled up. Then came the worst duck season I have ever had. It seemed as though the ducks we hunted day one we were still hunting at the end of the season. They all were schooled (educated) at the game we were playing and let me tell ya they all seemed to have Ivy League degrees for sure. All but 3 days in the field the UNJ crew and I had someone either new, a youngster or cameras over our shoulder. Let me tell ya we put in our time. I also had my ten year anniversary opening weekend of duck season and well ya guessed it, I kinda lost focus. On my anniversary. Yeah not a wise move at all.
November came and with it came the opening of Michigan's gun season for deer. I was able to harvest another buck and video'd it myself. It was quick and let me tell ya I still don't remember hitting the record button. That was something I will remember forever. Stay tuned to see if it makes the cut for one of our episodes. I also was able to take my son Drake out for his first ever deer hunt. At 2 years old. That was by far my most memorable hunt. We saw some deer but decided not to shoot and just enjoy watching them. I don't know that I will ever top that hunt.

Thanksgiving came and with it came the bombshell that rocked my world.

I left the following day to chase some chromers with fellow UNJ crew members Mike, Mikey and Jurgens. We had a great time until my ride home. That is when I got the voice mail. My wife told me she left me and we were thru. Yes folks I came home and the realization had hit me that the message was true. I am sure that there was a lot of thought that wnet into her decission and can understand some of her points. It doesn't help but at least we can talk about it. 10 years about to go down the drain with only having 2 possible fights. What an eye opener. The saying is true though people. "You don't know what you got, til it's gone." Let me tell ya it was a hard month after. A lot of thinking time for sure. She is a great person, a person I hope not to lose. Only time will tell.

Christmas came and I was able to have my daughter up from Illinois to celebrate this joyous holiday. Well I wished the circumstances would have been better but the family time was great. Then came another blow when I had to explain her grandfather had passed away. We talked and I let her know he is in a better place. We celebrated on the 26th and my sister Jaime was able to come over. My sister Jodi and her family came and so did Angela and Drake. It turned out to be a pretty good day. I enjoyed that as much or more than anything else this year.

Well as I look back at the year there were a bunch of high's and some low's. If you have learned anything from me and my life this year, I sincerely hope that you remember to never take anything for granted because you might wake up and not have it anymore. I hope you have seen that I am a real person with real emotions who doesn't hide how I truly am or feel. I am an open book. I try to give an insight as to what goes on in lives of people who do this and some sacrifices that are made. It can be a tough task and we sometimes loose sight of trying to keep family time and outdoors time in balance. We all have choices to make.

So there you have it, a view in my rear view mirror from this past year. I am looking forward to a lot of cool things that are gonna happen in the first quarter of this year. I am also looking forward to working on my personal life as well as my outdoor life. I am pumped up about the opportunities that I will have this year. I can say this that thru all of this I have learned that I have some great friends and have surrounded myself with good people that have been there in the good times but also in my hard times and for that I am thankful.

So until next time, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So I Got Interviewed

So I am sitting in my family room and thinking about my chores when all of the sudden I have someone show up and ask about doing an interview. I was stunned. Me? Are you sure? "Well you are Chico? Right?". "Uh yeah actually I am." So next thing I know we are sitting down and I am being interviewed. So here it is.

Chris - "So Chico how did you get that name anyways?"

Chico - "Well I actually got it from a friend of mine when I was about 16, and it just stuck with me. My mother doesn't even call me by my real name. So if I hear my real name I know that it is someone who really doesn't know me."

Chris - "How did you get started hunting and fishing?"

Chico - "Well I had a step dad who kinda started me but it wasn't until I was old enough to drive that I really got into it. The freedom of going when I wanted to and not when someone else wanted to made it easier. I learned how to duck hunt on my own and man was that tough. I remember when I went out for my first early goose season, man was my calling horrible. I was trying to learn but I didn't learn quick enough. I went out by myself and the first flight that came my way I started to call the birds didn't flare but didn't come for a closer look either. Then I hear from a group down in the section next to me start yelling and telling me to stop calling and that I was horrible. Man did I feel lower than an ants you know to the ground. I remember that and that is why I will never tell someone they are bad unless they ask. I won't say they suck but I will try to lessen the blow a bit."

Chris - "So you were self taught in hunting and fishing?"

Chico - "I had a little help along the way with some things but for the most part, yeah pretty much."

Chris - "So what is your favorite game to hunt?"

Chico - " Well I do not like to be labeled with deer, duck, goose, upland etc. I would like to think I am not a one trick pony. I am a sportsman and I hunt it all. It provides food and that is the main reason I do it. The adrenaline rush is another. I do love waterfowling just because of the interaction that goes on with the waterfowl but the hunters as well. I would say waterfowl."

Chris - "Would you label yourself a trophy hunter?"

Chico - "I said I do not like labels. I can't eat horns if that's what your asking."

Chris - "What types of fish do you fish for?"

Chico - "I have a passion for trout fishing. There is just something about it. I love to be in the stream and not in a boat. Something about trying to hunt these fish. It is awesome. I say I do that most of the time but I still like to fish for walleye, pike, panfish, salmon and steelhead. I will be trying fly fishing for carp this year. They say it is the freshwater bone fish."

Chris - "So man, your season never really ends then. Does it?"

Chico - "No not at all. In fact I am planning to be out this weekend ice fishing and maybe trying to get after some coyotes. The season is never over if you have the passion. There is the prep season and then the actual hunting season and then when that is over, you start the prep season all over. I laugh when I hear people say the season is over because it never is, they just aren't looking at it the right way."

Chris - "How did you get started doing this?"

Chico - "This interview? Listen to your question brother, you started it."

Chris - "No I mean getting involved in the outdoor industry. I guess."

Chico - "Oh I got ya. I met a cool cat from IL. Who had invited me to a campout in Holly, MI. I met some of my brothers from Up North Journal and we talked after quite a bit and the rest is history. I have met a lot of cool people since. Can I give a shout out to them?"

Chris - "Uh yeah sure."

Chico - "What's up Mikey, Mike, Jurgens, Matt, Red, Kenster man forget it the whole family at UNJ, Snort, WV, Ron man everyone at http://www.talkhunting.com/ . Make sure you have that link when printed if ya could."

Chris - "Yeah, sure. Anyways what is your take on photos of game?"

Chico - "Not sure where your leading me."

Chris - "I mean whats your thoughts on the way game is portrayed after it's been harvested?"

Chico - "Well what your saying in reality is what is the right and wrong way. I'll say this about that. I do not personally take a picture with an open body cavity. That's just me. Is it wrong? Who am I to judge. I do however like to have my pics authentic. When I say that I mean the deer may have blood on it. I will try to tuck the tongue in but if it falls out well, it falls out. I am not going to take it to a local car wash hose it down and try to make it look like it is still alive because it's not. I go with the philosophy right wrong or indifferent that to each there own. If you don't like my pic well don't look at it. If you don't like my video don't watch it. I mean I am not going to show the worst side but c'mon it is what it is. So is there a right way? Yeah, the way you do it. Is there a wrong way? Yeah I guess it depends on who doesn't like it. Ask them they are always quick to point out things that are wrong. I call them cookie cutters."

Chris - "Cookie cutter's? Can you explain?"

Chico - "Yeah they are the people that loose sight of their own thoughts and views because they want to appeal to the masses. They may not agree with the masses but they sure don't want to go against the grain. You know, be different and true to themselves. What they actually believe in and how they personally feel. They start to drink the Kool Aid so to speak. I wish people would just do what they believe in and not do something just because they think others will like it."

Chris - "Okay then, so my last question for you is, if there is one thing you could change right now what would it be?"

Chico - "Right now the thing I would change would be that I wouldn't be going through......"

"Thanks Greeny." "So the Cowboys are in another slump in December and we'll be back after this to tell you how they aren't gonna change that anytime soon. Sports Center will be back after this."

So now I am awake and realize I was just interviewed by none other than myself Chris "Chico" Lopez. Now you have a sense of what I really think!

So until next time, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Trip of First's

It started out as an innocent trip to get fellow Up North Journal members out for a new kind of fishing experience. I had planned to take Mike and Mikey on their first ever steelhead fishing trip on one the best steelhead rivers in Michigan. What happened over the course of this weekend will stay with me for the rest of my life.
It was Friday and we were set to meet at my house. Dave shows up first and is a little antsy as it is, but as the time went on as we were waiting for Mike and Mikey he really got fidgety. The Mike's made it finally and we realized we were going to have to take two trucks up to our destination. It wasn't what we wanted as we were all looking forward to the usual jokes and ribbing that always happens when we are together. Oh well off we went.

We arrive at the cabin and unload our gear. The boys check out the cabin and get geared up for our evening on the stream. It was really a great night for fishing. A temp hovering at about 42 degrees and very little wind to speak of. I helped get the boys rigged up and watched the action unfold. There is nothing better than getting to watch people do something that they have never done before. Seeing them concentrate so hard and want to learn all they can is an awesome experience. The fishing was slow.

I grabbed my rod and started to do my thing. I was aggressively fishing this area with spinners and spoons. I like to be different and try different techniques and not be so cookie cutter as I see with a lot of people. (That's a whole other blog, but look for it shortly) I make a cast then then rod snapped down toward the water. Tight line and bent rod with a silver torpedo on the end. Man it doesn't get much better than this. I played this one for a bit and walked up the stream toward it. I knew there is a boulder in the vicinity where it was and wanted to keep it away as much as possible. Then just like clock work snap! All done, but man was it a rush.

We fished into darkness and then decided to call it quits so we could go laugh back at the cabin. Man did we. I do not think that I laughed so much in my life, ever. We carried on until the wee hours of the morning. When I finally awoke my chest hurt from laughing so much. It kinda felt like you do when you are in a smoke filled bar and wake up the following morning. For those of you who do not do this, let's just say it hurts.

We packed our gear up and leave to hit the stream. We fished until dark and called it a great experience we were able to share together. No fish landed but a great time was had by all. A very enjoyable trip to say the least. I was glad that I was able to get Mike and Mikey out for their first time and pass on some tips and pointers to make them successful in the future. It doesn't matter how many fish you catch or take home, it matters how great the memories you make while doing it.

Let's say I have a lot of great memories from this trip. Then came the ride home and a first for me....

So until next time, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drakes first deer hunt!

Well I decided that my two year old son Drake was gonna go out into the deer woods with me for an evening hunt. Many people said that I was crazy. They gave me all kinds of reasons on why he shouldn't go. With many more excuses than legit reasons.

I decided that the weather was going to be pretty warm and he would be ok inside my box blind. I kind had an idea that he was at least interested enough to go. How long he would stay out would be a different story. You see I am in the field about four to five days a week. When I come home I get to hear him say some of his favorite phrases:
"Daddy did you shoot the deer?"

"Daddy did you shoot the ducks?"

"Daddy did you shoot the bow?"
"Daddy did you shoot the gun?"

That is usually the first part of our conversation when I walk through the front door. Usually after that,it is a big hug and kiss for daddy. Man I look forward to that.

I ask Drake if he wants to go "shoot the deer", and he answers "YES!". Kinda what I expected. So we get ready and gather our things. This will definitely be a different "hunt" for me so I have to remember a whole different set of gear. Crayons, coloring book, snack sticks, milk and well you get the point. So we load up the truck and off we go.

We get to the woods at about 3:00. Get our gear on and off to the blind we go. He was pretty excited to be going. Although I think I was more excited than him. We get to the blind and we take a seat. Then out comes the goodies. We laugh and have a good time and I am wondering just how long he will be able to stay out. It gets dark at 5:30 so if we make it til 4:00 it will be a great start to his hunting career.

Well 4:00 comes and goes and he is still having fun. Man this boy is destined to be a sportsman. Then there it is the first doe of the evening. Drake spots her walking and let's me know. "Daddy deer!" The deer looks and keep on going. I was looking for a doe since I have already used my buck tags, but she was a little on the small side. It was starting to rain and Drake wanted to touch it so he starts to put his hand out to feel the rain. He thinks it is the coolest thing. I let him know everything in the outdoors is cool.

Well 4:45 comes and there is the doe I have been looking for! I point her out to Drake and he reminds me to be quiet. "Shhhh daddy. Deer." I now have a dilemma on whether to take the shot.

If I do and the deer takes off, I will have to track it with Drake in the rain. How cool would that be though to get a deer with him on his first trip. Do I really want to take the chance of possibly having to track it in the rain? It would be pretty cool to get a deer on his first trip.

Well I let her walk and we sat and finished off the milk and snack sticks and watched the woods get dark. He made it through the whole evening without complaining at all. I made the right decision on letting the deer walk because we were having a great time just seeing the deer and maybe having to track one in the light rain would have put a damper on a great day. We packed up and headed home. He was so happy and excited to tell "Grandpa Great" on the way out he saw the deer in the woods. He talked about it all the way home and all night and all morning and all evening and on and on. I think it is safe to say I have a new hunting buddy.

I look forward to getting him out more and more. He keeps asking to go so I am going to keep taking him as much as I can. My only problem is, what am I gonna do when the season is over? Well I guess we can "shoot the bow" until the next season!

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get in the great outdoors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Put Me In Coach!

So I am toasty warm and dreaming of duck hunting when I hear my cell phone ring.

"Hello." "Chico are you in the mood to go out in the morning to get after some ducks?" "Mike? What time is it?"

"It is a little after midnight and I know you had been talking to Kevin about getting out and he happens to have tomorrow off and well I am able to so....."

You see Kevin isn't a waterfowler. He has never been, but to his credit he had already went out and bought a waterfowl shotgun and bought his license. He has been after us to get him out and after hearing us swap stories with George on Sunday I know he was itching to get out.

"Put me in coach. Meet me at the house at 4:15."

Man am I easy! I got up and got my stuff together which isn't too hard since it is almost always in the truck. Just for moments like these. Set the mud timer and back to bed I go. I slept for what seemed like an eternity. Yeah right, it was more like a commercial break! The alarm went off and I was promptly greeted with a nice push in the back from my wife with the encouraging words of "GET UP!"
I poured myself some mud and got ready. I walked out the door and was promptly greeted with a "morning" from Mike. Whoah buddy, take it easy up here in the city that will get you hurt sneaking up on people like that. We loaded up Kevin and Mike's gear and Uh Oh! Chico can't find his license.

Have no fear ladies and gentlemen after 20 minutes of making a bunch of noise and turning on numerous lights in the house I remembered where it was. In my blind bag from my last trip and I forgot to put it back in my wallet. Off we go to the flooded maize field.
It was pretty foggy until we got to the field. We were able to set up without issue. At first light we saw thousands of duck and geese. Then the fog rolled in and wasn't leaving anytime soon. I thought Kevin was gonna go nuts. I mean after seeing all those birds and now we are covered in fog and can barely see our decoys. I know it was driving me nuts hearing the wing beats, quacks and honks and not being able to see the birds making that noise.

Then I heard a drake mallard over my shoulder and he is circling into the decoys. Well you guessed it, Kevin shot his first mallard or duck for that matter on his first ever duck hunt AND it had jewelry! That's right, it was banded. Go figure. I have hunted for a long time and I have never got a banded duck and this joker comes out and smacks one on his first hunt. Kevin was excited and Mike and I were excited for him.
That is what is special about getting people out to do something they have never done before. This was the second banded bird that I have seen taken this year and both were the first bands for the hunter. I think it is safe to say that I am sure I will be getting another call very soon from a very excited and proud waterfowler to go out and chase some birds. I just want to say Congratulations to Kevin on his day of firsts. I was glad I could be a part of his special day.

As for Mike and I, well, we couldn't see much to shoot until it was time to go home. I guess if your only going to get one bird in the group it might as well be a banded one!

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What a season!

So I started to think of how lucky I have been this year. I have been fortunate to hunt with many people and chase a variety of game. I was able to harvest a ten point with my bow, which is my personal best. The following is what I feel I am most lucky for though.

Mike Adams Jr. was able to shoot his first banded goose during Michigan's early goose season. I was able to see how excited he got when he realised what had happened. The look on his face was priceless. It was great to listen to him tell the story to family and friends.

I was able to see Jake take his first ever duck on his first ever "Big Boy" hunt. What a blast it was to see him get so excited about it. He was on cloud nine. I am sure it will be something that he remembers for the rest of his life. I know I will remember it.
Getting out with a couple of new friends from http://www.talkhunting.com/ . Al and Ken were able to get out and do some early goose hunting and it was great to get to hunt with these guys. It was definitely fun in the goose blinds while they were along.

Receiving a phone call from a very excited Mikey after he shot his first deer with a bow. I truly felt honored and privileged that he thought enough of me to call me either first or second to tell me about it. Pretty cool.

Having Dave give me a call screaming in the phone in the early morning "SIX POINT DOWN". Then stopping by to show me his trophy. Man was he excited, as well he should be.

One of my favorite things though has to be seeing my 2 year old son Drake shooting a bow for the first time. Maybe I am a little biased but I am a proud poppa. I will never forget helping him as he actually stuck a 3D deer target in the vitals at 5 feet! Then see him running down the range to give the UNJ team high fives. Priceless.
I enjoy my own experiences in the outdoors but it is always more enjoyable when I can take part in getting out with new friends, experiencing a child's first duck, archery deer or seeing my son shoot a bow for the first time. I definitely have a lot to be thankful for and I appreciate the experiences the people in this blog have provided me with.

So until next time, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Friday, October 2, 2009

MI 2009 Archery Opener

Twas the night before archery opener and all......OK really let me just get to the story!
I awoke on opening morning and was ready to go. I had been eagerly waiting for today to the point of making myself sick. I know go figure, but it is the truth. I had prepared for this day like never before. I put in a lot of hard work and effort and now it was time for it to pay off.

Before I go any further one small detail I forgot to mention is that I wouldn't be hunting out of a tree because my "friend" finally told me he "lost" my tree stand in a move. Yeah, I can see how that would happen. NOT! So I will be using a borrowed ground blind from my brother in law. Thanks D, I really appreciate it.
So as the morning goes I arrive to the property and get my gear ready for the hunt. I slowly make my way out to the blind that I had set up about twelve hours earlier. I make sure to walk as slowly as possible to not spook anything in the area. So far so good.

I get settled in the blind and go to pull back my bow and come to realize that it is smaller inside than I thought. I will have to draw back diagonally from corner to corner or I will not have enough room. Glad I figured that out now. I get comfortable and begin to watch the deer woods wake up. I wouldn't have to wait too long to see a deer.

7:50 I spot movement from my right 40 yards out. I expect this in the morning as because the deer are on their way back from eating in the field. I notice that it is a buck and I get ready for the shot. He made a left turn and came down to the actual runway they travel and I let my arrow fly.

I wait a half hour and go check for my arrow. I find it and it is covered in sign letting me know I had hit it good. I go about twenty yards and don't see it so I decide to wait. I decide to get some assistance from my father in law. Hey why not, I don't want to have to drag by myself when I can get help. Almost four hours later we pick up the trail and then are stunned when we see a ton of sign and then everything including the deer vanished into the forest air. (Another blog another day) At this point I am sick to my stomach again. I go home and shake it off and refocus.

I head back out into the woods at 4:00. I am ready to go with great anticipation. I see a couple does early on in the hunt but it wasn't what I was after. So I waited and waited and played poker on my blackberry, and waited some more. I started posting on a website about my hunt in real time and waited some more.

Then at 7:00 some movement gets my attention from out front and left 50 to 60 yards or so. It looks to be a nice deer and I start watching as intently as one can watch. It is coming from left to right and on it's way out to the field. Finally I notice that my speed beef has head gear. I slowly fold up my chair to give myself all the room the blind would allow. I draw back and am ready to take the shot. The buck continues to make his way nibbling on branches and taking his time. He has no clue I am even there. At 7:20 he makes his way into an opening and I released the arrow.

The deer turns and goes back left fifteen feet as though nothing happened! Uh oh. He stops and looks back to the right. What is going on I heard it hit didn't I? He then continues left and now between he and I is a thicket and I can no longer see him. I nock another arrow and look to where he should be coming out and wait and wait. I don't see him and I now feel like I just want to crawl into a hole.

I hear a couple of snorts and some upset deer but can't see 'em. The noises weren't in the direction of the one I shot at. I decide that I would get out and check for my arrow. I go to where I shot and the it was just laying there. I pick it up to find only a little bit of sign. I walk to where I last seen the buck and on my way I see sign a lot of sign! I only have on my green headlamp and turn on my flashlight and see not 20 yards from where I shot him, my trophy laying there.

I walk up and take the time to appreciate him. I give thanks and then I inspect the head gear. I just shot my first ten point. My G5 Tekan had done it's part and my Bear Lights Out did it's part. I call and let everyone know what is going on. My father in law arrives about a half hour later and helps me get it to the truck and up to the barn. Pictures were taken and flashes going off left and right. I felt like I was a rock star and was on cloud nine.

I have always wanted to take a ten point in my hunting career. Always dreaming about what it would be like. Well now I know and I hope it doesn't end anytime soon. The rack wasn't as big as the one I had always envisioned but it is my trophy and I wouldn't change a thing.

The crazy part in all of this is, I used to shoot on a archery league and really enjoyed it. So much in fact that I never really hunted with my bow because for some strange reason I just enjoyed the league. So this year I decided that I was going to take my first deer with my bow. So there you have it. My first deer with a bow. The only way you will know this tidbit is from reading it here because I purposely have left it out of all the conversations I had late last night. Cheers.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get in the great outdoors.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bird Hunting with Ken & Scott

Well a while back I received an offer from Ken to go hunt Woodcock. I have never went out and specifically targeted these fast and acrobatic birds, so I said I would definitely be in. I looked forward to this day for a change of pace. You know something different.

Well I met up with Ken,his buddy Scott and the star of the show Duke at the gas station. I threw my gear in his truck and off we went. Ken had informed us he was out a tad late the evening before, due to his wife's class reunion. Well you know what comes next. He took a little nap on the way to our destination.

Ken pulls in to our spot and we get our game faces on and prepare for battle. Ken get us lined up and off we go. The terrain was great, hills, thickets of aspen, stumps, holes, ferns, tall grass and other obstacles to make the walking pleasant. After a while you just get used to it.

We flushed over thirty five birds and were able to take five. Those things know just where to go and what tree to get in front of. I even had one come right at me then finally decided to turn about three feet from my face. It was so close I could feel the wind of its wings. It was a rush for sure.

I couldn't shoot today and my buddy Ken let me hear about it every chance he got. What can I say, other than I cut my trigger finger while cleaning my gun the night before. Okay maybe that didn't have much to do with it. It had to be something other than me. Right? I mean my mechanics were perfect!

Ken was a gracious host. He had lunch with all the goodies you could want. I definitely had a great time with him and Scott and hope to get to do it with those guys again. It was kind of special to have hunted with Ken's chocolate lab Duke. Some of you that know me, know that my chocolate lab named Duke passed away a few months ago. So it was kind of wierd to be talking to Duke again if only for a morning. I was glad to have him along. If you have never tried woodcock hunting give it a shot. It is as challenging as anything I have ever hunted.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Season's Last Trout Trip?

Well the Michigan trout season will soon come to an end. It has gone by so fast, that it seems like the opener was just yesterday. Man how time flies.

I called up Art to see if he wanted to give one of our favorite streams a try and he was more than willing. We decided to leave town at 5:30 and make the trek to our stream. He met me at the house we loaded his gear and off we went.

We hit the stream at around 7:00 and decided that we were going to go fish an 8 mile stretch by water. The smoke hovered over the stream like the smoke hovering in a bar. The temperature was a balmy 49 degrees. The sunrise was bright and started to bring some warmth our way.

Art had his game on and quickly landed to respectable trout in the nine to eleven inch range. I was happy for him. Even though I was frustrated beyond belief as to what color spinner was going to be the ticket. You see it had rained the night before and the river was up and had a nice stain to it. I like to go away from the normal way of thinking and decided to use a silver blade with lime green body Panther Martin. Normal logic told me I should use a dark color instead of bright color because it is easier for fish to see a dark color than bright in stained water.

Well I was right on with the color and I started to catch a couple fish. The second being a nice one over 13 inches. It felt good to finally get on the board but it really felt good to get a trout that size. Still when it came to numbers Art was out fishing me.

At around eleven I tossed my line under a cedar tree and SMACK! There was a loud splash and my rod bent as the brown headed for every stump he could find. I sounded like a fisherman with an unlimited amount of cash at the local tackle store. I worked the fish out of the cover and into the center of the stream. He jumped and the colors were unbelievable, picture perfect. Art netted the pig and we gave the celebratory high fives and admired the catch. Then came a problem. The waterproof camera isn't so waterproof and the screen wouldn't come on. No problem look through the old school lens. Sorry. Batteries are dead. So unfortunately no pics of this beauty.

All in all a great day. We waded a little over eight miles of stream and then made the walk back to the truck by walking the road. We reflected on what a great season we have had and relived the memories. Today Art out fished me in numbers but he said I out fished him in quality. In reality I wouldn't have cared if I caught a fish. Just spending time on the stream in peace and quiet with a great friend is good enough for me. Catching fish was a bonus.
We made it back to the truck and realized we do have a few days left. So maybe one more time out. If not it was a great end to season filled with great times.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get in the outdoors.

Monday, September 21, 2009

MI Early Doe Season Part 2

Well it was the last day for the MI early doe season. I had decided that I was going out for the mornings hunt. 5:00 came and brought with it the smell of fresh brewed coffee. Which makes it easier to get me out of bed. I really wanted to stay in bed and be lazy but my mind trumped my body and forced me to get out of bed.

Driving out to the property I started wondering if this coffee was going to kick in. I was pretty tired and wasn't sure if I was going to be able to stay awake during the hunt. Just about the time I got to the property the coffee kicked in. There is something to be said for the waking up power of coffee that pours like mud.

I made my way to the blind and got settled in. As I wait for the sun to rise, I started to reflect on how lucky I am to be able to do this. I realized that there are some people that haven't even been in the woods to watch the sun rise through the trees. It was a magnificent sunrise and I was eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see some deer.

Well unlike the previous time they came through early. 7:45 brought in the first doe and then the train of deer behind her. In fifteen minutes I saw fourteen deer! Ten does and four bucks. I was caught up in seeing all the deer that I almost forgot what I was doing there. I seen a nice doe who was by herself sneaking through the trees. I got the gun ready and took the shot.

Well needless to say I found no blood and even though I believed 100% that I hit her I found nothing. I searched and combed the area and not a sign of the doe. I got way ahead of myself in my celebration. I always tell myself if you can't see it hold off on the celebration. Well I felt about as silly as a guy wearing pink leather while riding his Harley. I quickly regained my focus and decided that I would hunt the stand again in the evening.

I went home and replayed the shot in my mind well over one hundred times. My competitive nature always gets the best of me in times like this. I beat myself up over this all morning and early afternoon.

I met up with my father in-law and we made our way out to the blinds. We talked about the Lions losing, the Tigers finally winning a game and other sports news of the day. It seems all of our conversations revolve around sports or the outdoors. To me that is a good thing. We make it to his blind first and I give him our traditional good luck gesture and off I go. In my blind and ready to go at 5:12.

6:17 rolls around and I feel my cell phone vibrate. It is none other than the "other Mike Adams". He wanted to know where I was and started telling me about his Mojo decoy problems. We decided it was best to talk about it and compare notes later. I no more than set the phone down and here comes two does down the trail before me. I watch them eat my food plot of Whitetail Institute's No Plow for about three minutes and off they went.

7:16 rolls around and I am interrupted by two does coming through the timber. They stop and start feeding on some fallen acorns five yards closer to me from where I got my first doe three days earlier. I readied my gun and waited for the right shot. Unfortunately it took a lot longer because it seemed like every time a good shot presented itself the other doe was in front or right behind the one I wanted to harvest. Finally the other doe started for the food plot and I was presented with a clean shot. 7:18 my Marlin model 512 barks and off the doe went.

I waited for about twenty minutes and went to scope out the scene. I got to where she last stood and no blood no hair no nothing. It was like deja vu all over again. I knew I heard her crash but after the morning hunt I was a little leery. I pulled out and met up with my father in-law. We decided to go up front and grab the truck and drive it back. My wife and son were there waiting and wondering what was going on. After explaining and grabbing some bigger flashlights back to the area of the shot.

We went back to where the doe was standing when I took the shot. I marked where we ran off and we combed the area. Finally I hear right here. I shine my light in the direction and see the doe laying at my father in-laws feet. I was filled with some serious emotions. My son was there and was going to see his daddy bringing back the deer that he asked me about in the morning. Wondering why I didn't "shoot the deer".

Well no pics due to both cameras having dead batteries. I took one with the camera phone but in reality, I don't need them. I know what I shot, when I shot it and what time I shot it. How beautiful the animal was and how excited I was. Something that a picture could never do justice.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get in the outdoors.

Friday, September 18, 2009

MI Early Doe Season

So it was Wednesday night and the Michigan early doe season would start Thursday morning. I was like a kid before Christmas and getting more excited with each passing minute. I can't help myself I just love to hunt. I went through my checklist to make sure I had everything I needed. With everything crossed off my list I proceeded to set my gear at the door so I wouldn't make too much noise when I left in the early morning.

I sat down to unwind and I started thinking about all the work I have done to prepare for the season. I had definitely put in a lot of time and effort throughout the spring and summer months. All in hopes that it would make me successful when the season rolled around. Although I have to admit a little nervousness because I would be using some different products which takes me out of my comfort zone. I am using a different slug and had used a new seed for my food plot I had put in. This all made me a little uneasy because it wasn't what I was used to.

Wanting to be well rested, I made sure that I went to bed early. In bed by 9:30 and back up at 11:20! My son Drake had woke up and wasn't feeling well. Knowing my wife was overloaded with work I took Drake to the couch and tried to settle him down. We ended up staying there all night. 5:00 came quickly and Art, who would be filming the hunt called to let me know he was in the driveway and ready to go. I put Drake into bed, grabbed my coffee and gear and out the door I went.

We arrived in the blind in complete darkness and got situated. As the darkness gave way to daylight the woods started to come to life. Birds started chirping, chipmunks scurrying and squirrels started searching out breakfast. They must have all gotten full because the woods got pretty quiet. Well up until the turkeys showed up.

Art quickly got my attention and pointed them out. They were walking around and moving from left to right. We watched as they meandered through the woods and then they stopped in front of us at 50 yards. They started feeding on the food plot that I had planted with No Plow from the Whitetail Institute. It kept those turkeys in front of us for over 15 minutes. The best part of it all was I didn't need any expensive implements to plant this. The product really lived up to it's name. Just a couple of rakes and a broadcast spreader is all I needed to plant it. After seeing this I can't wait to see what it does with deer!

We started seeing a lot of activity again and started to feel good about our chances of harvesting a doe. Well it wasn't too long after the turkeys left that I heard a noise coming from the right. Then I caught a glimpse of a doe walking through the trees out in front of us from that direction. Art got the camera rolling and then 2 more does followed. I quickly decided that the first one was the one I was going to try and harvest, if and when I got an opportunity. My heart started racing. I could feel the rush of adrenaline go through my body. The doe made it about 35 yards from the front left corner of our blind and stood behind a tree and stared in our direction. I whispered to Art that I would take the shot as soon as it presented itself. She took a half step to her right and I pulled the trigger. She dropped right there.

I couldn't help but feel satisfied and thankful. Earlier I had talked about using new products and well, one of them was my slug. I was using the Hornady SST 12 ga. shotgun slug and was glad that I did. Man that slug is unbelievable and I highly recommend trying it out. The knockdown power is awesome. The proof is on the video and the venison in the freezer.

What a morning and a great start to my deer season. All my hard work and effort paid off and for that I am thankful. This was my first hunt on video and we captured a lot of footage. I thank the good Lord above for allowing me the opportunity to harvest a nice doe. My family and I will eat well and I look forward to having some tenderloins real soon.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get in the great outdoors.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday With George Lynch

Well it all started with my phone ringing and Mike on the other end. "Chico we are heading down to see George. Can you make it?" So I thought about it for a half second "Yeah. When we leaving?" It was a no brainer for me. I mean Mike just had to tell me when we were leaving and I would have been there. So I am going to make the trek down to Lynch Mob Calls shop and couldn't wait. I was looking forward to meeting the man behind the calls.

It is always great to meet new people in this industry. The only problem is, some are what you think, some don't come close to what you think and some just exceed your expectations. The industry is funny that way. You meet great down to earth people who it seems like you knew your whole life and some who have totally forgotten where they came from. I immediately started to wonder how George was going to be. Was I going to be impressed or disappointed? Let's just say he exceeded my expectations.

We started down to the shop in the early afternoon. It seemed like it took forever but the conversation was great the whole way there. As we pulled into the driveway my eyes were greeted with a fully decked out Suburban. It had ducks and geese on it with other sponsors stickers. It was definitely C to the OOL! I got out of the truck and was greeted by the star of the video. No not George, but none other than Buck. That Chesapeake is one beautiful dog. Buck made sure I felt welcomed by letting me pet him for a while. Then out of the shop came his sidekick, George. He greeted us with a smile and a firm handshake. Then into the shop we went.

Since we were down there to shoot footage for the Lynch Mob Calls, Science of Hanging 'Em Low volume 2 dvd, we went to work. Okay maybe I didn't work that much. I did however go to the George Lynch University and took Gooseology 101. Man he conveyed a passion for the heritage and tradition of his craft. I watched and listened intently, hanging on every word. That way when I get out in the field, I can pass my exam. I think my brain went into overdrive as I started trying to process all of the information that he was sharing. I began thinking of how lucky I was to be getting what was not only a preview of the next dvd but a personal private seminar as well.

George did a segment on tuning a call that was incredible. I really don't know if you can put a price tag on that. The tips he shared were great. Then he broke out into the calling sequence and blew the doors off the shop. All I can say is if you are serious about getting better at improving in the field, I would highly recommend you check this dvd out. The calling tips, tech tips and decoy placement tips are priceless.

What a great day. I left the shop and can say that I left with more knowledge then I came with. I was able to meet a great person who is no different than you and I. As well as someone who has a passion and drive to make sure our heritage is passed on to the next generation of hunters. I couldn't help but laugh recalling George in between takes getting on my phone and giving my buddy Dave the business. Reminding him to not flag when the geese are already in the spread. This truly was way better than watching the Lions lose for sure. Now I just hope I remember everything.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Blog for Up North Journal

As I sit here writing my first blog for the Up North Journal, I have decided to tell you a little bit about myself. We can get to the fun stuff next time.

First my name is Chris "Chico" Lopez. I am an avid outdoorsman. I am married to my very understanding wife Angela and have a 2 year old son Drake. They are my support staff. When I come home from a hunting or fishing trip that didn't go as planned, they are always there to lift my spirits. In order to do what I do I need their support. I am hear to say that I have it 100%. My family means everything to me and I appreciate their sacrifices so that I am able to follow my dream.

I am a down to earth person, city boy turned country. I love country and southern rock, my blue jeans, cowboy boots, baseball caps, southern and cajun food (who am I kidding, I love all foods and deserts!) who has been blessed to have the opportunity to be in the outdoors industry and for that I am thankful.

Hunting and fishing are my passion. I have been doing so for over twenty years and good Lord willing I will be able to do it many more. I love to hunt waterfowl, deer, turkey and small game in that order. Fishing small streams for trout, river fishing for steelhead and salmon, fishing for walleye and panfish in open water or hardwater is on my list as well.

I hope you will sign up to follow my blog. I look forward to sharing my adventures and misadventures in the outdoors. Feel free to contact me anytime and I look forward to your comments. Please check out our podcasts and episodes of Beyond the Wild, you won't be disappointed.

So until next time, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.