A beautiful Fall-like morning in the Western U.P. Got up at 0500, and left for Forest Service Road 400 in the Ottawa National Forest, East of Bergland on M-28, to grouse hunt on the Cascade Falls Trail. No birds on the road in, which is unusual. Walked back to the falls and saw nothing, but kicked up four birds on the way back, all deep in the brush without a chance for a shot. Grouse will explode at your feet and startle the daylights out of you. Very different from all the pheasant hunting I did in my youth with my father in South Dakota, and later as an adult, in Van Buren County with my friend, John Clement (another ex-CMH director) The Ringneck Pheasant is much larger, and is usually hunted in corn or asparagus fields, where the shot is in the open and much easier (they are twice the size of grouse). Then drove east to Norwich Bluffs and hunted back to the Livingston Family Cemetery and back, with no luck. Not complaining, as any day in the woods with cool temperatures, a chance to breath clean air, enjoy the landscape transitioning from Summer to Fall, and think about recent events in my life is a gift that not everyone is afforded. I am thankful every day to live in such peaceful splendor. I am only 4.5 miles from my clinic, but every morning while enjoying my coffee during the ride, I see deer, turkey, fox, coyote, wolf, bear, porcupine, eagles, crows, ravens, etc. What a treat to start the day with. A favorite patient (Vietnam Veteran) brought in some photos from his game camera near his cabin off the Turtle Flambeau Flowage (you and I fished there once and you had a large smallmouth on for a bit). He has six black bear coming in and one is without question, the largest male either of us has ever seen-at least 550 lbs. (nearly grizzly bear size). Exceptionally muscled in the neck and shoulders from digging roots. Not a fellow I would want to piss off. Additionally, he showed me pictures from the same game camera of a very large Mountain Lion with paws that must be ten inches in diameter. Incredibly huge and sleek mammal. The DNR, before the days of game cameras, used to question Mountain Lion sightings in Northern Wisconsin and the U.P. Those days are gone. I regularly have patients bring in pics, both of brown and black cougars. Perhaps finally time to start backpacking with a 9mm pistol for personal safety. The bird migration is in the initial stages. The Snow Buntings, Juncos, Redpolls, and other arctic visitors will soon be arriving. I will let you know when the Juncos arrive, as I suspect you in Southwest Michigan will have them 2-4 weeks later. Wood is stacked, but lawn needs to be cut and gardens weeded tomorrow. These early Fall days are irascible here at Rauhallinen Farm.....open the windows and turn on the celing fans in all the rooms during the daylight hours, then close the windows and fire up the pellet stove in the evening (too early to start the wood boiler, that once ignited, shall eat my firewood till May). Enjoy the rest of your weekend....
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Henry David Thoreau
One of my favorite TV shows on the National Geographic Channel, "Live Free or Die", always uses this quote from Throreau's Walden Pond, during the prelude to the show.