Saturday, May 22, 2010

Taxidermy Is Art

Well last week I was very fortunate to take a nice turkey that was destined to become a star. He definitely wanted to come for dinner and hang out afterwards. I can't get that hunt out of my mind. It was just one of those hunts I guess. Memorable in every way. Which brings me to another passion of mine. Taxidermy.

You see taxidermy to me is an art. One that there is no way I have the patience for nor do I have the time for. An artwork that I can appreciate. The taxidermist is an artist and takes your animal, brings it back to life just the way you remember it. I look at my mounts as artwork just like the people that collect pictures in frames with paint everywhere that to me makes no sense. I like my mounts to be unique and not just a fish on a wall, a typical duck mount and deer mount etc.

I remember my first mount a drake mallard and I was so excited to get it back. The problem was that when I got it back it was not what I imagined it would be. I was rather disappointed to say the least. That's when I decided to try and look for a real good taxidermist. It has been some time and a few mounts later but man did I fall into a great one.

His name is Joe Segler. I was introduced to Joe by Wendy a mutual friend who told me I just had to meet him and check out his work. It would be about a two hour drive but I was reassured he was the real deal. I was told how awesome his duck mounts were and that I would go nuts. So on the road I went. It's tough when you take somebodies word but you just never know.

I will never forget the first time I walked in his shop. There were duck mounts everywhere. Not just your hang on the wall average mounts but the kind that makes you drool. He had all kinds from puddle ducks, divers, sea ducks, deer, turkeys, fish and the one that told me I was dealing with a Van Gogh of taxidermy, a recreated Labrador duck. Oh yeah the one that was last seen in Elmira New York December 12, 1878 and last shot in 1875 in Long Island. That's right he recreated this duck out of seven different species of ducks!

Man I felt a bit intimidated by this guy. He was an avid duck hunter who travels all over to collect ducks in perfect plumage to mount. Truth be known he is an avid outdoors man who hunts and fishes. I hung out for a while when he offered to go to lunch and I really didn't wanna go as hard as that is to believe as I like to eat as much as I do hunt and fish. It was great we talked business and I picked his brain some more. An amazing guy who knows his craft well. The only thing I could come up with bad was that he ate salad! No salad for me since that's what my dinner eats!

Up North Journal decided he was a perfect choice to be our official taxidermist. So almost a week and a half later I was fortunate to take a gorgeous turkey in a hunt that I will remember forever. (If you didn't read my last blog do so because it's worth the read) I called Joe immediately after I shot it and found out when I could get it to him. Sunday was the day and man I watched in awe at how meticulous and surprisingly quick he was at getting the bird skinned. We sat down and looked over the video footage of the hunt and I wanted him to look the way he was standing and acting when I gave him a serious headache. We looked at a picture and now it's time for him to do his magic.

This guy has gotten awards in the World Taxidermy Championships in the Waterfowl Masters Division and many more. He judges taxidermy and is an all around great guy who knows his craft. If you have a trophy of a lifetime do not let someone ruin your animal. Make sure you let a experienced knowledgeable taxidermist take care of it for you so your not disappointed. If you don't have one give Joe a call. He can help you get the animal to him, whether you live in Alaska, Central America or Maine. He has clients all over the United States as well as some outside the country. You won't be disappointed.
I will be giving updates on the process of this mount in further blogs so stay tuned to see how it turns out. Check back as I just realized I don't know what happened to the pic of the Labrador duck recreation. Also watch the future episodes of Beyond the Wild for some video updates as well. Joe can be reached at:

Joe Segler Taxidermy
734-487-6767 Shop Phone
734-523-6767 Cell Phone

Nuff Said!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Turkey Hunt Gone Wrong?

So you ever have an idea or plan about a hunt that just never seems to go as you planned? Well let's just say I thought that the plan I had was fool proof. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as I planned. So with that said let's get down to business.

I had a tag that was good for private land only for the month of May. It is the last hunt and usually pretty tough. I choose this just because of the amount of time I have to try and get the job done. Well I was looking forward to hunting with a "friend" but for some reason just before season came I was told we wouldn't be hunting at the "honey hole". So time to come up with my own plan. I knew there was a reason I don't like to have to rely on someone else.

Well what ya gonna do? Play the hand you are dealt is what I have heard recently. So that is what I did. I actually ended up talking to a great friend of mine and he invited me out to his place to hunt turkalito's. (another Chicoism meaning turkey) I jumped at the gracious offer and checked my schedule and knew that I only had one weekend where I would be able to do it. Plans were made and the excitement was building as the weekend approached.

Since I had gone back to school to finish my degree I was busy trying to get all the work done in advance to make sure I could just concentrate on my hunt. Things were going well right up until Thursday. That's when my sister decided she was having her baby. That meant my mom was on her way up from Tennessee and my schedule was about to change. So much for planning!

Thursday night came and with it came the invitation to have breakfast with my mom for the following morning. Well that meant I wouldn't be hunting in the AM as planned. No worries though as I don't get to see my mom much anymore. We had breakfast and I was thinking about the turkalito's for most of it. It didn't help that I received two text messages from Ron telling me about the turkey's strutting in front of where I was supposed to be set up! We went to my sister's to wait for her to come home with the baby, and we waited and waited and waited. Finally a phone call that said she wouldn't be home for a while and there was my opportunity to get out to hunt.

Off I go driving like a mad man back to the town where I live. I am making phone calls to try and get this set up. I called my good friend Ron to let him know I would be there in a while. Then talked to Art to let him know I was on my way and make sure he had all the camera gear ready to go. I make it home grab my vest do a quick run through of inventory and realize I didn't have my striker. Grab my gun and go to change choke tubes and well, it wont come out and I can't find the wrench to assist me in this. I grab my backup gun remove the choke tube out of it and install my turkey tube and on my way to the store. I ended up buying a new glass call since it was just easier and off I go.

I make it to Art's house and after listening to him give the business about how this hunt isn't going as planned, we were on our way. We started laughing about our big day turkey hunting and hitting the road at 1:30 PM. Who in their right mind starts turkey hunting in the mid afternoon with wind gusts of over 20 mph? We do I guess. I just went in with the mindset that it was the first time we were gonna see the property and it would be more or less a scouting trip for the next mornings hunt.

We arrived at our destination and after talking a bit we decided to hit the field where we were told the tom's had been strutting earlier. Off we went gear in tow out to the spot. We start setting up and Art goes to set up the pop up blind and well you guessed it another hurdle we needed to cross. The wind caught the blind as he was opening it and snapped a fiberglass rod! Oh yeah fun times. Well after a little redneck ingenuity we got it rigged up to work for a little bit at least.

Then came the next hurdle. The ground was really soft, the stakes were pulling out and the blind was blowing away. Well it just so happened there was a tree stump where we wanted to be so since the blind had no floor we decided to put the stump on the inside to help stop the blind as well as took the extra turkey stakes and drive them as far into the ground to hold it. That obstacle was out of our way.

I go out and set up the decoys and they are blowing all over. I finally get them in the ground far enough and at least the stakes aren't falling down. Back to the blind I go. I start handing Art the camera gear and bags. This is where another slight problem occurred. I forgot my stool! I was however thankful that I had my Quaker Boy Vestablind and the stump that was sitting inside the blind that I could lean against.

Ok so I grab my Dead Down Wind color wheel and start to apply my war paint and start laughing because nothing about this hunt is going right. Good times. We have been out here about 20 minutes at this point. Well I realize the zipper is open and I go to zip it up and well yeah you guessed it. It was broke! We take the screens from the windows and use them to cover up this huge opening all the way down the blind. Then I look out at the decoys and see the jake decoy staring straight up at the sky. No worries as Art says it just looks like he's trying to impress the hen by showing off his little beard. Oh, ok it works for me.

Well I break out the new call and off I go. We hear a couple behind us and start laughing because we say that they are just laughing and saying thanks for the comedy relief. I wait for five minutes and hear the clucks again. I go ahead and call. Then we hear some geese coming from behind and to our right that decide they want to tease me as they are cupped and float into our field out front and to our left at 50 yards. Grrrr I wish it was September 1st. I grab my call and am told to let it go and give it a bit. I looked at Art and explained that I don't think it much matters right now and start to cluck and purr. I watched the geese keep looking to my right but don't pay attention.

All of the sudden Art in a very loud voice says there he is at 12 o'clock!!!! I begin to scan the sky for more geese when he smacks me and says to your right! His twelve o'clock was my three o'clock which I later explained to him. I look to my right and I see a big brown thing with a bright red head. Oh what is wrong with this picture? Something is actually going right? Could this really be happening?

At the corner of the field where we were told by Ron that they come out of stood this turkey in full strut. The corner was 30 yards away from us. The only problem is he read the script but unfortunately wanted to do it in fast forward. He decided that he was tired of his girlfriend being with the other guy and was a bout to let him know about it. He did something that I have never witnessed while turkey hunting. He ran in full strut in a matter of ten seconds to the decoys. He was only slowed down a bit by a big gust of wind that looked like it was gonna blow him over. Well he made it to his girlfriend and started telling her how upset he was when all of a sudden he got a head ache! That's right Art called the shot and I did what he asked. The "Chico Layin' The Smack Down Tour 2010" had continued and it was lights out.

He was about 15 feet from the blind and I was in shock. Art and I laughed high fived and couldn't believe that we were only hunting for 20 minutes! It was the most incredible turkey hunt I have ever been a part of. After all the obstacles and mishaps this was just meant to be. We were happy and I was thankful to be blessed with the opportunity to be able to hunt Ron's property. It all worked out just not as originally planned.

The worst part was I almost didn't go out. I had actually questioned myself about not going and spending more time on homework and other things. I was so close to giving up my spring turkey hunt because of this. Fortunately for me, there was footage needed and that almost forced me to go out. I am thankful for that because there was a moment when it was all said and done, that I truly realized that this is my passion and I will always do this as long as the good Lord allows me to. There is nothing better than a great hunt with great friends and whether or not I got the bird I would of still loved to have told the story about the hunt that went all wrong.

Nuff Said!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

MI Trout Opener

Well I am sitting here thinking back on what has transpired over the last week. Being able to look back it doesn't seem as fast paced as it was when it was happening. Go figure. So with that being said let me get to it.

One of my favorite trips of the year is the Michigan trout opener. It is like a deer camp but only in the spring. You meet up with guys you don't normally get to see throughout the year. The food is always something to write home about. Stories always seem to be more funny when told up at camp than anywhere else.

It was Thursday and we were set to leave at ten bells. Dave had showed up at 7:30 and decided he wanted to take a nap since he worked all night. (You will see a pattern here) I decided to finally pack my clothes since it was only a couple hours until our departure. This is not really a tough task or a long one since the gear is always ready to go. Just a matter of getting it into the truck. Gear is at the truck and waiting on Art to show.

Art shows up and sleeping beauty awakes to a nice Sharpie mustache. Just my way of saying thank you for falling asleep on my couch and welcome to our weekend of fun. We load the gear up and and realize that Dave may end up having to ride on top of all the gear in a rocking chair ala the Beverly Hillbillies. We were able to clear out a cubby hole for him and off we went.

There is nothing better than getting out of town and knowing that you are gonna be doing your thing with no worries. The ride up was hilarious as usual. Nothing but stories joking and a very pathetic rendition of Country Road by Art and myself. Let's hope that it doesn't make it to any of the footage shown from the week.

We arrive and unload the gear into the cabin. Let me tell you it is as rustic as rustic can be. No running water, electricity and is at the end of a two track out in the middle of nowhere a few hundred yards off the Big Mannistee river. There is no signal for your cell phones so there really is no interruption except maybe a bear that may get hungry and wants to see if we have anything as far as left overs. Now its time to turn on some Bocephus and Johnny Cash and sit back and relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Well Cy showed up a little while later as well as my brother in law. Like I said before it is great to see these guys. The joking and stories immediately get going and the good times start. As everyone settles in we decide that we should go into the local town and grab a bite to eat. It was good to unwind and just relax without the cameras around. Don't need anymore blooper shots. We discussed our plan of attack and decided to do some scouting when we woke up before the rest of the crew showed up.

Well we woke up and once again Dave looked like he got into a fight with a Sharpie. Man when he sleeps he sleeps hard! Off to scout and put in the last bit of work before the fun begins. We split into to groups to check out more streams. With that behind us we made our way back to camp to wait for the other guys to show up. More hanging and telling stories. Then the rest of the crew showed up and game on let the festivities begin.

Can't fish til midnight so what are we to do until then? Grab the PSE's and start letting the arrows fly! I just wish Mike wouldn't have been so cheap and picked up the Sasquatch target at the sporting goods store on his way up. Who cares it was almost $700. Help some brothers out and spread the wealth. It was great to shoot the new rigs and try and get them dialed in. Man I can't wait til bow season, because I am about to hand out some dinner invitations. If that wasn't enough fun we decided since we always have the guns with us we might as well shoot some clays in preparation for duck, goose and whatever else flies through the skies that we can shoot. So we burned through a ton of shells and ridiculed whoever missed and called it good because it was time to fill the gas tank with food. Big boys gotta eat.

Once again Cy outdid himself with the dinner. Over 20 lbs. of ham in this boiled dinner! Then used it for tomorrows lunch to make bean soup. I will put this guy up against any camp cooks in the world. He is definitely the bomb dot com. With the gas tanks full it was time to load the gear and head out to our night spot.

Midnight came and lines went in the water and the anticipation began. Other than more talking and stories not much really happened. Well Dave fell asleep in his chair after about a half hour fishing. I had to wake him up to tell him he had a fish on. then it was off to the truck for him so he could continue to sleep. (Remember the pattern thing I mentioned earlier?) That was pretty much it. Very cold and the fish weren't biting and so it was back to camp at 3:00 AM.

5:30 came quick and we were off to another stream. One of the coolest things for myself and Art was the fact that it was Mike and Mikey's first time doing this. I love to get people out and experience new things. My goal for the trip was to get them their first trout. We caught some fish except the two guys that we wanted to have catch them. Not a bad morning but the rain had put a damper on things. Off to the cabin for brunch.

24 eggs, 5 lbs. of taters, 2 loaves of bread and a whole ton of bacon and all eight guys in camp were happy. Then Dave needed to go to sleep. (pattern?) We went out in the evening to the "Drop Zone" and i enjoyed running camera when the boys made their way down the steep hill. Especially catching Art loosing his footing and sliding quite a ways down. (This can be seen in the latest episode of Beyond the Wild)

We had a great time and enjoyed the pristine scenery. I worked with Mike for about two hours and finally we got his first brownie! That made my weekend a big success. To me that was more important than getting all the video footage, pics and personally catching all the fish I caught. We all had a great time that evening and caught quite a few fish. The thing I will remember most though is the time spent on the stream with these guys and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Well unfortunately that was the last time for the weekend we were able to be in the stream fishing due to bad weather. We ended up having breakfast with the crew and then made our way home. Art mentioned that everyone we saw driving didn't look so happy. Of course not, they were heading back home and already thinking about the stress of everyday normal life. For me I started thinking about the next trip five days later.

Nuff Said.