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.