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Outdoors: Remembering the past

When I was a kid we'd often go the lake for the Fourth of July. We'd visit different friends that had places on Tippecanoe Lake, but home base was nearly always the Prothe's beautiful home on the northwest shoreline.

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Thursday 06/25/2015
Outdoors: Scruffy the bear
Updated: June 25, 2015 - 9:20 pm

If you haven’t heard of “our” bear yet, unlike him, you must live in a cave. Assuming there is going to be somebody that hasn’t heard, allow me to enlighten: there has been a bear in northern LaPorte County for a couple weeks. Yes, that’s right — an actual Black Bear.

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Thursday 06/18/2015
Outdoors: Seeing unicorns
Updated: June 18, 2015 - 9:30 pm

It was the early 80s and my family had recently relocated to the shores of Tippecanoe Lake in Kosciusko County from Wabash, Ind. Though we were renting a glorified cottage with a strange blend of early 70s décor and beautiful Northwoodsy knotty pine, I was elated to live on a lake. I belong on the water and by golly there it was just out the front window.

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Thursday 06/11/2015
Good old-fashioned catfishin'
Posted: June 11, 2015

Most anglers that know me probably assume I'm a bit of an elitist - a high-brow, catch-and-release, fly-fisherman type. While I do practice catch and release and focus on game fish typically associated with conservation more so than consumption, I also like to fish with bait for fish that are just as fun to eat as they are to catch.

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Thursday 06/04/2015
"The Silent One"
Posted: June 04, 2015

The old saying, "If it ain't one thing it's another" couldn't be truer when it comes to outdoor pursuits.

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Thursday 05/28/2015
The last hurrah
Posted: May 28, 2015

This coming Sunday I will spend the morning turkey hunting for the last time this spring. A handful of states, including Michigan allow turkey hunting through May 31st. I'll be guiding as I was lucky enough use my Michigan tag Wednesday on a gorgeous swamp gobbler that until a few minutes before I pulled trigger, I had never seen. Oh, I had scouted him plenty and knew his gobble well, but he just wouldn't come out of that swamp the few times I hunted him.

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Thursday 05/21/2015
Spring cuisine
Updated: May 21, 2015 - 11:34 pm

This time of year, many outdoorsman do their best to lose weight so they look better for the summer months.

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Thursday 05/14/2015
The Low Rooster
Updated: May 14, 2015 - 10:44 pm

The Indiana spring turkey season ended this past Sunday, and I have to admit it was one of the toughest turkey seasons I have ever dealt with.

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Sunday 05/10/2015
Trouble with the tournament
Updated: May 10, 2015 - 11:07 pm

Last week, the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced the new sectional alignments for the next two years in all sports with classes (football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer). And there were some glaring changes that greatly affect our local schools. They didn’t affect our schools in a good way, for the most part. Traditional rivals have been separated in the postseason, while others have tougher sectional groupings due to manipulation of the system. Both Steve T. Gorches (Gorch on the Porch) and Aaron McKrell (Mind of McKrell) have outspoken opinions on the new alignments, so let’s hear from both of them on the subject.

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Severs is no New York Bozo
Posted: May 10, 2015

Not everybody likes La Porte softball coach Bob Severs. Heck, not everybody likes me, either, so maybe it’s fitting that I like Severs and his style of coaching.

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Thursday 05/07/2015
Hunting against the grain
Posted: May 07, 2015

In last week's column I lamented my nearly yearlong spate of missing turkeys. When my alarm went off at 3 a.m. last Friday morning, the Herald Argus was likely just coming off the presses long before most folks "cracked" it open later that morning, I had a gorgeous long-bearded Eastern Wild Turkey riding in the back of my Suburban.

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Friday 05/01/2015
The wait
Posted: May 01, 2015

The weather this spring has been a blessing and a curse to many outdoorsmen. What was a somewhat compressed steelhead season, likely would’ve been much shorter if not for the cool nights and perpetually cold water.

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Thursday 04/30/2015
The wait
Updated: May 01, 2015 - 12:01 am

The weather this spring has been a blessing and a curse to many outdoorsmen. What was a somewhat compressed steelhead season, likely would’ve been much shorter if not for the cool nights and perpetually cold water.

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Thursday 04/23/2015
Outdoors: Turkey Hunting 101
Updated: April 23, 2015 - 10:11 pm

It was very brisk Wednesday morning when I got out of the truck well before sunrise to greet the 2015 spring wild turkey season. Though the eastern glow slowly erased the stars overhead, an ominous cloud bank to the northwest slowly moved our direction. No forecast I checked had mentioned lake-effect precipitation, but the northwest wind didn’t get the memo, apparently.

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Turkey Hunting 101
Posted: April 23, 2015

It was very brisk Wednesday morning when I got out of the truck well before sunrise to greet the 2015 spring wild turkey season. Though the eastern glow slowly erased the stars overhead, an ominous cloud bank to the northwest slowly moved our direction. No forecast I checked had mentioned lake-effect precipitation, but the northwest wind didn't get the memo, apparently.

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Thursday 04/09/2015
Outdoors: Spring has sprung
Updated: April 09, 2015 - 10:08 pm

The next month or so is one of the greatest times of the year for sportsmen.

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Friday 04/03/2015
Outdoors: Ever seen a switch rod missile?
Updated: April 03, 2015 - 11:08 pm

Outdoorsmen often use terminology that is confusing to the general non-hunting populace. I do my best to be clear and explain things, but it’s hard to break things down into understandable language with a limited amount of space. I’ll be the first to admit that when I read my columns later, I see terms such as “spread” and wonder to myself how many people understood that I was describing a grouping of duck or goose decoys?

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Friday 03/20/2015
Outdoors: The world according to Ted Nugent
Updated: March 20, 2015 - 1:51 pm

Fifteen years ago or so I had the opportunity to spend some time in the field with Ted Nugent. I was guiding at Deer Creek Hunt Club west of Three Oaks, Michigan, at the time and when my buddy Don “Skeeter” Hicks told me Ted was coming to Deer Creek, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Eric Morse, Skeeter and I handled the guide duties as Ted’s camera man filmed us pheasant and duck hunting.

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Wednesday 03/18/2015
Fantasy NASCAR: Taking advantage of the scalding-hot driver
Posted: March 18, 2015

In all sports, when you're on a roll, it's like everything you touch turns to gold.

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Thursday 03/05/2015
Outdoors: The Big Thaw is coming
Updated: March 05, 2015 - 7:43 pm

I was standing in the yard on Wednesday watching the dogs fight over a corncob that I brought home for the squirrels a while back. Turns out the squirrels much prefer a nice expensive mix of different seed in the bird feeder and left the corncobs to my dogs.

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Thursday 02/19/2015
Outdoors: The last blizzard hunt
Updated: February 19, 2015 - 10:36 pm

This past Friday I was rambling along on county roads in the southern part of the county at a snail’s pace. I couldn’t even begin to estimate the number of times my little sojourns into the countryside lead to something good and in this case I was “running errands” when the urge struck me.

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Sunday 02/08/2015
Nothing like a wet goose hunt
Updated: February 08, 2015 - 6:18 pm

Last Sunday, my boys and I guided a group of four hunters on a goose hunt. You may recall how miserable the weather was.

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Thursday 01/29/2015
Outdoors: The best laid plans go astray
Updated: February 02, 2015 - 6:17 pm

I'm a story teller and one of the biggest problems we have is telling the same story over and over.

Now, if it's a good story, most folks that have heard it will just listen to it again. If it's an okay story the listener may say "Oh yeah, I love this one." If it's not that great, they'll usually cut you off and that's the end of it. Eventually the weak ones are weeded out, and only on rare occasions will a good story teller dig deep into the archives for a B-teamer.

Unfortunately, this column is a one-way conversation of sorts; you are listening but it's a day after I told the story. So, pardon me if I repeat myself occasionally. The following story may be one you've heard before or at least mentioned, but I think it's a good one so I'm going to repeat it.

Back in the late 80s my buddy Dannie Hurd and I hunted and fished together quite a bit. This time of year we did a lot of waterfowl hunting and eventually got into predator hunting. We usually did pretty well at whatever it was we were doing, but the few times I ice fished with him I decided it just wasn't my thing. The fish rarely showed and I figured beer tasted pretty good in a living room next to a fireplace as opposed to being on ice with my feet going numb.

Dannie and I were desperate for a good goose hunt. This was back when geese weren't thick like they are now. There were always a few flocks around, but they'd be well pressured into places where they couldn't be hunted. He told me about a flock of a hundred or so that was roosting in the middle of frozen Webster Lake. That particular year the ice was thick and many fishermen dotted the lakes of Kosciusko County.

This was one smart flock of geese. They'd fly to a field right at the edge of the small town of North Webster and then go straight to the middle of the lake to roost, barely leaving the city limits in the process.

Dan had a plan: We'd go to the middle the lake and hunt them when they returned to roost.

At first I thought it was a bad idea, but as he explained the logistics it seemed that maybe it was doable. It was a fairly simple matter of getting the decoys to the middle the lake and then hiding.

He had a small jon-boat which we'd use as a sled to haul our decoys and guns. He had a friend that lived on the north end of the lake and we could park in their driveway, slide the boat down the hill and onto the ice then push the boat with all the stuff on the ice to the middle of the lake.

We needed to keep the weight down so we dressed light and only took my 12 Carrylite brand goose shells, figuring the geese were coming there anyway so a bunch of decoys wasn't necessary, though a few would assure they'd come to us. Then we'd flip the boat over and lean against it as we laid on our backs on the ice.

Our camouflage would consist of bed sheets we "borrowed" from our mothers. We'd wrap the boat in a couple sheets and then make robes for ourselves held at our waists with bungee cords.

We waited for a crummy day to assure the birds would return before sunset and a few days later we found ourselves pushing the boat across the ice of Webster Lake. It was much more difficult than we ever imagined as small driftlets of snow and crusty ice made pushing the boat laborious. We had a about a half mile to go, and though we were young, by the time we got there we were both winded.

It took about four minutes to set things up. His mom must have used bleach on her sheets as Dannie's were almost bluish-white while mine were more of an ivory color. We leaned our heads against the boat and waited.

Approximately 10 minutes into the hunt a massive gust of wind hit us and in a few seconds the decoys scooted across the lake like dry leaves on a blustery highway. We tried to run after them but it was futile. We turned around to see the boat flip over as the wind had lifted it right off the ice. It was a cheap boat made of thin aluminum.

The sheets were a right off at that point. We pushed the boat back to shore and quickly loaded it in the back of his truck. We figured the decoys had ended up at the far eastern shoreline of the lake about mile away. It took forever to go around the lake, but we could see a cluster of ice fishermen and we figure they'd seen the decoys. As we approached them I noticed a bunch of them had goose decoys pinched on their heads like hats.

Dannie and I walked out on the ice. He knew a few of the guys, thankfully. We stood and stared at them but they said nothing. Finally Dan asked "Hey guys, you seen any goose decoys come blowin' across the lake?"

One of them looked at us as he scratched the side of one of my decoys on his head and answered, "Nah, haven't seen any goose decoys."

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Sunday 01/25/2015
Cheering for both sides
Updated: January 25, 2015 - 10:44 pm

Can you imagine needing to cheer for both teams in a high school sports event? Needing to be loyal to both schools, being upset at foul calls on both teams, wanting both teams to win - which as we all know is impossible.

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Thursday 01/22/2015
The first coyote
Posted: January 22, 2015

Tuesday afternoon, I was picking up a very large spread of decoys after an uneventful day of goose hunting. At dusk, several groups of coyotes started to yip and howl in their customary end of the day revelatory performance

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Thursday 01/08/2015
The frozen confines
Updated: January 08, 2015 - 10:36 pm

Yesterday morning I was driving east of La Porte on a well-cleared county road. The thermometer on my Suburban read minus 5 but it looked fairly breezy outside the vehicle, judging by the grass in the ditch swaying, so I'm sure the wind chill was much higher. The seat heaters were working great and Mitchell and I were comfortable in our warmest winter clothes. We were on our way to help a friend who was stuck in a huge snow drift. It's a notorious problem spot that seems to always drift over.

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Thursday 01/01/2015
The last steelhead
Posted: January 01, 2015

Last weekend somebody shot the window out of my wife's Suburban as it was parked on the street. Well, maybe it wasn't shot out, though it looked like a bullet hole. I suppose they could've used a hammer or an awl or some other instrument to break the glass. She discovered it Monday morning when she got in and shut the driver's door and heard the window blow out in the back. She came back into the house crying.

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Friday 12/26/2014
High-powered rifle rule redux
Posted: December 26, 2014

In early September, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced a proposed set of rule changes regarding what calibers are legal for deer hunting. Over the course of the following days social media lit up with active debates as Indiana deer hunters voiced their concern or approval of the potential rule changes. I was fairly passionate about my stance on this issue and used my column to explain why I thought these changes are a very bad idea.

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Thursday 12/11/2014
The eternal hunt
Posted: December 11, 2014

Wednesday evening I sat in the La Porte High School auditorium with hundreds of other people and watched an outstanding winter choral concert performance by students led by director Thomas Coe.

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Thursday 12/04/2014
Duck days
Posted: December 04, 2014

Last week I was hunting as a guest at a well known area waterfowl club when a friend of mine said, "Well you're not a hardcore waterfowl hunter like me," in response to a comment I'd made.

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Thursday 11/20/2014
When the cold wind blows
Posted: November 20, 2014

Today is the first day in about a week that the wind hasn't howled from the west. I usually can't stand south winds, but this one is glorious. I have spent way too much time the past week trying to do my best to withstand the icy cold wind that never changes direction, while sitting in a tree stand. It was getting to the point that I could barely bring myself to even go hunting.

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Thursday 11/13/2014
Deer Season
Posted: November 13, 2014

Tomorrow morning, 30 minutes before sunrise, the 2014 deer firearm season opens. This is what many uninformed non-hunters refer to as "hunting season" - as if there aren't any other things that get hunted. To many folks, deer are "the thing." Deer season may be a big deal here, but it's an even bigger deal in other parts of the country.

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Thursday 11/06/2014
November: Outdoorsman challenge
Updated: November 06, 2014 - 11:06 pm

This past Tuesday was my 45th birthday.

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Thursday 10/30/2014
The lovely wind and rain
Posted: October 30, 2014

Late October is my favorite time to be just about anywhere as long as its outside.

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Thursday 10/23/2014
The Glossy Ibis
Posted: October 23, 2014

This past Saturday, duck and goose hunting season finally opened. Over the past month, I had spent quite a bit of time scouting a spot I hunt along with several friends. We had plenty of time get our blinds camouflaged with brush and grass and take care of other maintenance issues since teal season closed, but as is often the case we waited until the last minute.

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Thursday 10/16/2014
Boys and dogs
Posted: October 16, 2014

Last Saturday morning the boys dragged me out of bed a couple hours before sunrise. I had only slept for about 90 minutes, and frankly the last thing I wanted to do was go trudge through a marsh to set up decoys on a warm, windless morning. But, it was the first day of the special youth waterfowl season and Mitch and RJ were not going to miss it.

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Tuesday 10/14/2014
Cats versus dogs
Updated: October 14, 2014 - 10:31 pm

In this world there are “dog people” and “cat people.” Theoretically there can be people who like cats and dogs equally, but I suspect if somebody makes this claim it’s highly likely they are lying.

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Thursday 10/02/2014
Bucket List
Posted: October 02, 2014

Yesterday afternoon I picked up the kids at the various schools and was ready to settle in for a night of playoff baseball and a good football game. I had dinner figured out so Angie could do the running to football games and guitar practice. My son RJ was giving pre-game play-by-play from the living room as I started cooking which amounted to me blurting out, "Has it started yet?" every few minutes, and RJ yelling back, "No."

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Thursday 09/25/2014
Cold feet
Posted: September 25, 2014

Tomorrow morning, the 2014 special youth deer season opens thirty minutes before sunrise. This special two-day season allows hunters under the age of 17 to hunt if accompanied by an adult with appropriate licensing.

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Thursday 09/18/2014
For a rail good time
Posted: September 18, 2014

This teal season has been one of the least productive I've ever experienced and interestingly, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal populations are at or near all time highs. I don't recall a mid-September that had such perfect weather for migration; cool nights and light north winds. We are definitely at the eastern edge of the big teal migration corridors but I've never had such a tough time bringing more than a few of these tasty ducks home.

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Thursday 09/11/2014
High powered rule change?
Posted: September 11, 2014

In last week's column I discussed proposed rule changes that were recently posted by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. I focused on the proposed increase in the Muskellunge size limit but also alluded to proposed changes of what rifle calibers would be allowed for deer hunting.

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Thursday 09/04/2014
New rules
Updated: September 04, 2014 - 11:47 pm

The other day, I received a text message from a friend asking if I’d seen some of the proposed rule changes posted by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. I had not, so I did a quick search online and found them listed within a document titled “Administrative Rule (Regulation) Changes.”

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Thursday 08/28/2014
Old in the Way
Posted: August 28, 2014

This weekend will be sort of the last hurrah for many folks when it comes to summertime fun. Of course it always feels that way, but there are plenty of warm and sunny days ahead. The nights are typically cooler which makes for good sleeping weather and the A/C bill will stop cutting into your walking around money.

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Thursday 08/21/2014
The Flaming Spear
Posted: August 21, 2014

When I first moved back to Indiana, I have to admit, I wasn't all that enthused about the situation. I had been a trout bum, a ski bum, hardcore bird and waterfowl hunter for six years living in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As best described by a "guy at the bar" one time that had spent many years in the Yukon and Alaska only to return to the U.P., "The U.P. is sticky".

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Thursday 08/14/2014
The Tidy Boat
Posted: August 14, 2014

I've had the good fortune of owning many boats over the years. Don't get the wrong impression, these are not big expensive boats, but rather smaller ones used for fishing inland lakes and streams. My boats have typically been strictly utilitarian in nature. They are designed and maintained for efficiency and durability, as well as ergonomics.

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Thursday 08/07/2014
Flying fish
Updated: August 07, 2014 - 10:26 pm

When it comes to fishing stories, many anglers are better than others at telling them.

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Thursday 07/31/2014
It's a buggy river
Posted: July 31, 2014

The past few weeks there have been reports from around the Midwest about epic, maybe even Biblical mayfly hatches. The average American probably doesn't even know what a mayfly is but then again, the average American isn't a trout angler.

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Thursday 07/24/2014
Adventures on The High Pavement
Posted: July 24, 2014

This past Monday morning, my son Mitchell and I hit the road for Minnesota. We had a little puppy riding along that was "going home" to his new owners. They'd already named him Bucky and this little chocolate Labrador was already coming to his name because we'd started calling him that a couple weeks ago.

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Friday 07/18/2014
Cool breeze
Updated: July 20, 2014 - 10:04 pm

The past few days have been gorgeous. Some people like hot and humid weather, but most outdoors man I know, like things to be cooler. For starters it's more comfortable wouldn't you say? Second of all, it reminds us of the fall when we are in our glory.

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Friday 07/11/2014
Crazy Horse to Cheyenne
Updated: July 12, 2014 - 6:10 pm

It was the mid-nineties and Angie and I were getting serious. We even "secretly" moved into an apartment together in Marquette, Michigan. She had a little four-door Subaru turbo that I enjoyed beating the heck out of. Actually, as a guy that took Jeep Cherokees to places even they weren't designed to go, I was always somewhat impressed with that car.

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