Bear hunting guide services are available. All hunts are over bait with archery or firearms. Call for hunt package prices and references. We also can give advice on locations to hunt for deer and grouse.
ARCHERY HUNTING WITH GENE
I believe there is no better place in the Midwest for archery hunting than the beautiful U.P., which offers millions of acres of land to hunt. This leaves plenty of space for everyone to hunt. I’d say we average one hunter for every ten to twenty square miles. It’s a good idea to acquire a topographical map of the area you plan to hunt and always have a compass, especially early season when there’s lots of ground cover.
Our bow season begins on October 1st. Baiting is almost a necessity because we don’t have many farms with corn, soybean or alfalfa fields for the deer to feed in. Therefore, they wander around at random and do not follow runs as they do in other farm states.
The prime time to be archery hunting is the end of October or the first week in November, just before the rifle season opens. At this time bucks will begin to get very active marking their territory with ground scrapes. If you find an area with this sort of activity going on, this would be a good place to put up a bow stand. Be careful not to clear too much brush for a shooting lane or the deer will vacate the area in a hurry. It’s best to set up your stand east of the scrapes with good background cover. Tree stands should be about fifteen to twenty feet high for best results.
When searching for a place to hunt, keep in mind deer or likely to hang out in or near swamps. They will try to find an easy travel route around the edge of the swamp. They also tend to follow creeks and streams. The deer will usually have favorite crossings, making runways that you may be able to detect. If you find a ridge that runs through a swampy area, this could be a real hot spot. I have been registering deer for twenty-three years, and when I ask the hunters where they got their trophy buck, it will almost always be in or near a swamp.
About ten years ago, my son Randy, my son-in-law Pat Lillie (who was later killed in the woods while logging and is dearly missed) and myself guided a bow hunt for Ben Pearson Archery. Our endeavor was a success. In two years of guiding, we managed to help them shoot two Pope and Young bucks. Doug Shank, who at the time was president of marketing for Ben Pearson, shot one. The company featured this beauty in their brochure. Doug still comes back to the U.P. from time to time with family and friends from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to hunt our whitetails. There are very few “no hunting” signs out in the woods; but, if you do happen to come upon some, be a good sportsman and respect their warning because there is more than enough land to hunt on.
Fall is by far the finest time to visit our area if you enjoy the outdoors. Our area offers beautiful scenery with the fall colors and waterfalls, hiking trails, great fishing and hunting and everything else God has to offer. Let’s not take it all for granted.
Enjoy God’s Country.
BEAR HUNTING WITH GENE
Bear hunting in the U.P. is a challenge in more ways than one. The first challenge would be acquiring a license. Since 1988 people who wish to bear hunt in Michigan must apply for a license and hope to be drawn. Some have waited years to get a tag; so, if you’re lucky enough to be drawn for a kill tag, I hope you are able to use it.
The bear season is split into three seasons. The first season opens on September 10th, the second opens on September 15th and the third season opens on September 25th. They all overlap and end on October 25th.
Baiting for bear is one of the most commonly used methods for a one-on-one experience with hunting. There are now some new restrictions on baiting. You can begin baiting four weeks prior to the opening of the first season. Starting this year, baiting with corn or anything else that attracts deer is prohibited until October 1st when our bow season for deer opens.
Placement of your bait and blind is a very important factor in your hunt. Your blind, whether it be on the ground or in a tree, should be east of your bait pile. The best place for your bait would be in or near a swamp and the thicker the better. You should try to enter your blind from the opposite direction in which the bear is traveling to your bait, and try not to walk anywhere near your bait station the day you’re out for the hunt. The bear will smell you’ve just been in the area. Their sense of smell is their greatest tool in detecting something that’s a threat or just not right. Rather than be curious, they most likely will avoid the area.
Bait should be placed in a shallow pit and covered with logs to keep the smaller critters from eating it all. You cannot use buckets, scent rags or anything that is not biodegradable. Some of the bear’s favorite foods are donuts, candy, food scraps and grease, to name a few.
During your bear hunt in Michigan it is your choice to use a bow and arrow, pistol, black powder gun or a high powered rifle, which I would recommend, especially for a first hunt. The best time of day to hunt is in the afternoon through the prime time, which is the last legal hour of daylight. If you have only a few days to hunt, you can start early morning and hunt all day. We’ve seen quite a few bears that were shot in the morning and even closer to lunchtime.
I have been a registration and weighing in station for bear for fifteen years now and have registered deer for twenty-three years. During that time I have found most people misjudge a deer’s weight by twenty to thirty pounds but when it comes to bear, they will misjudge by 100 pounds or more when seeing them at their bait. Bear will really fool the average person and even the experienced hunter. That is mainly due to their long fur that can make them look much larger than they are. The best way to judge the size of a bear is by looking at their head size and how far apart their ears are.
The average weight of a black bear in Michigan ranges between 150 and 155 pounds when dressed. All the years I’ve registered bear I have been keeping track, for the D.N.R. and myself, of the average weights of bears brought in to me each season. Our lowest average was 136 pounds, and our highest was in 1999 when we registered 116 bears at my resort and the average was 182 pounds dressed out!
I have been hunting in the area for forty-seven years and all my most memorable hunts have been with my father, my Uncle Eino, my son and my daughter. I have shot five bear, my daughter has shot seven and my son has bagged three bear. Six of these fifteen bear were taken with bow and arrow. Last year my daughter, Tammy Lillie-Manchester, shot a 360-pound bear while I was there to witness the whole experience. A couple weeks later I took down a twin to her bear with my bow. It also weighed in at 360 pounds. Bear season of 2000 was a success for Tammy as well. During the second season she took a 280-pound bear that dressed out a 241 pounds – far above average. My hunt was the third season and the baits went dead which can be a problem on a third season hunt. First season, of course, is the best but it’s harder to get a license for.
Last year was a special year all around. It will be a tough year to beat as far as success and memorable experiences go. My grandson Tanner (Tammy’s youngest boy), shared his first whitetail hunt with grandpa. He shot his first buck, a five-pointer, using a 30-30 of mine! The grand finale was with my son Randy Kauranen. We bagged four whitetail on an out of town archery hunt. Randy shot two beautiful bucks on that trip – one an eight pointer and one was a nine-pointer. Like I said, last year was the best and the memories will be with me forever.
My wish is that God would give everyone the opportunities He’s given me to enjoy our great outdoors with their family.
Good Luck in Your Outdoor Adventures!
HOT SPOTS FOR GROUSE HUNTING
Lake Gogebic Michigan in Ontonagon and Gogebic County
The Ottawa National Forest Service in cooperation with the local Ruffed Grouse Society have teamed up together to develop suitable sites for grouse management.
In Interior Township there is a grouse management area and hunter walking trail map available. In the Ontonagon District there is an area known as Pelkie Creek. The logging roads and trails in this area have been brushed and seeded to clover to attract Ruffed grouse, white tailed deer, black bear and other wildlife.
Hunting on foot in accordance with state hunting regulations is permitted. To enhance your hunting enjoyment and to prevent damage to the forages planted on these roads, motorized vehicles are not permitted.
There are various specific hunting areas for Ruffed grouse. Please feel free to contact the Ottawa National Forest at (906) 932-1330 for additional information.
Lake Gogebic Michigan in Ontonagon and Gogebic County
by Tom Schneller
It was October 3rd; the evening before the duck season opener and we took off early from work for a weekend at our cottage. It was an exceptional day at Lake Gogebic; the high was 79 degrees. The warm sunny weather was very unexpected; normally we had snow by then.
The warm weather wasn’t great for ducks, but was still one to treasure just the same. The weatherman expected rain the following day, but that was hard to believe, as we sat on our deck in short sleeves.
We laughed as we unpacked our gear so much “Stuff” for a weekend! We hauled the duck boat out from under the deck and loaded two bags of decoys into it.
I took a look at the old wooden oars again; someday I’d have to replace them. One paddle was split and the other was just half a blade. Ancient reminders of how long I’d been at this ritual.
There was no time to build a blind, so we’d have to hunt from the old boat the next morning. Our two sons were growing up fast, 9 & 11 already, but at a great age where you can still teach them things, and most of the time they’d listen. The oldest earned his hunter’s safety card, but wouldn’t be able to hunt in Michigan till he turned 12 in November. He’d have his chance with pheasant in South Dakota.
The kids raked leaves in the front yard and had a great time tossing them into the air. The newest addition to our family, a golden retriever, Beebe (yes, named after Green Bay Packer receiver Don Beebe), was jumping high into the air snapping at every autumn color he would get. The pup was just 11 months old. He was professionally trained this past summer and was eager to please, but like any youngster, his mind was still on playing first.
My wife joined me at the cottage this year, a rare sight during the hunting season. The warm weather encouraged her to enjoy the lake for one last time. She wasn’t hunting with us this time, she was over that, or maybe I was, my boys were my new hunting partners now.
She still goes partridge hunting with us and enjoys eating them. She takes her gun sometimes, but my oldest son has plans to inherit that soon. I bought her an Ithica Featherlite shotgun for our anniversary one year (we were married on opening day of Partridge Season). Apparently by the look on her face, it wasn’t what she really wanted. She’d rather shoot wildlife with her camera.
After we got organized at the cottage, we headed out for our fish fry. It had been the whole summer since we’d had the famous tomato bread appetizer at the Root Cellar, so we decided to go there. We had a chance to visit with Gene Kauranen, the Root Cellar owner at that time.
Gene had just come in from his deer blind, looking like a big old camouflaged Basswood tree. It was deer bow season, he’d already got his buck on opening day, he questioned why he was back out again in his blind, but we all know why…you can’t take the sportsman out of Gene. He was telling us about all the geese he’d seen the last few days. He was heading out the next morning to shoot a few geese in the fields east of the lake. We exchanged a few goose hunting stories then he wished us good luck. After a great meal, we went back to the cottage, relaxed a while, then went to bed early.
The next day we were in the duck boat by 5:40 AM, of course it was dark, the flashlight died, so we adjusted and so did our eyes. After I threw out the fifth decoy, the pup was so anxious, he jumped in the water to retrieve it back for me. This created immediate havoc in the boat.
The kids were calling for the pup while I was yelling at him. The pup, all the while was getting tangled in the decoy lines. What a mess! To my amazement, we were still completely set up with decoys a little after sunrise. In all, it went smoother than I thought. You never know what’s going to happen with a boat full of dogs and kids.
We sat quietly for a time. The pup looked ready with both paws hanging over the boat into the water, anxiously awaiting the first duck. My oldest son had to hold him back a couple of times for various reasons.
It was a foggy morning, there was still a low mist hanging on the water. The light waves were moving on the water. The light waves were moving the decoys all around, they looked alive to all of us. The old hunting dog, Cajun started to whimper and whine. The kids said there was a duck swimming in the decoys. I wondered how I didn’t notice, so I shot. Nice hit on a decoy! The boys thought that was hysterical.
There were duck hunters everywhere. I shot at one duck three times, the boys complained of ringing in their ears for the next half-hour. They didn’t appreciate the way the boat rocked after each shot either. Next year we’d have to build a blind.
By mid morning the kids saw their favorite muskrats swimming around. Of course the pup jumped in after one of them too. The boys were concerned with the amount of water accumulating in the boat, they were sure we’d sprung a leak. I assured the boys it was just the dogs shedding water from their swimming escapades, but honestly, it was both. We were slowly sinking, but the boys kept busy bailing with a thermos coffee cup.
The pup behaved off and on, like the boys. He’d sit still some of the time but I’m not sure he knew why he was there. He passed the time chewing on reeds hanging into the boat. No great flights from the north that day. We had a little action, two ducks swam into our decoys, must have been locals. I shot one, must have been Mr. Carlson’s duck, my son said. He told me his teacher had been feeding ducks at the lake all summer and they were nearly tame. Who know, if he gets a bad grade, I’ll know he told.
My youngest son used the camouflage cover as a blanket. It was about 50 degrees out, but he was cold and a little think to be a hearty hunter. He was well equipped, his new hunting boots kept him warm. Although he never got to use his gloves, they fell into the water and were soaked before he could use them.
We heard other people shooting down river and saw late hunters arrive at their blinds. Other hunters sat content still waiting for ducks, probably drinking their spiked Jack Daniel’s coffee, talking about the good old days. We headed back to the cottage at 10:00 AM; maybe no one else had as many inexperienced youngsters with them or had a little more patience than me. In all, it was another experience to remember.
Final count for the day was two mallard. We cooked them up that night. My youngest son, a picky eater, surprised us by asking for more! We used a recipe from an avid duck hunter friend, Dave Roeder. We had this wonderful dish prepared by Dave and his wife Aileen at their vacation home. It was very tasty and comes highly recommended, it” one of those recipes we keep hand each fall. I’m sure the recipe was called something basic like marinated duck, but we like to call it “Roeder’s
Recipe for Wild Duck. Try it, you’ll like it!
ROEDER’S RECIPE FOR WILD DUCK
Filet breasts, cut in half lengthwise; marinade duck breasts for 1 hour in the following:
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• 4 oz. Orange-pineapple juice concentrate (not diluted)
• 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
• 1-teaspoon fresh garlic crushed or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Wrap breast with one-half slice of bacon; grill on Weber for 7-10 minutes. A great taste sensation! Enjoy.