Porcupine Mountains: Take Two!

Lake of the Clouds | Ontonagon, MI

What Deer See

Whitetail Deer Vision vs. Hunter Vision

Lake Superior | Ontonagon, MI

Take me to the outdoors!

The Best Survival Weapon!

Which gun provides the most longevity for survival preparation?

Traditions Buckstalker

Black Powder Hunting Rifle Review


Mar 7, 2014

The Kill Shot: Hunting Wisconsin White-tailed Deer (Part 3 of 3)

In this video, I take you bow hunting with me, building on the scouting and hunting techniques we learned from the first two videos. Watch as the Lumenok gives a clear view in slow motion of my arrow finding its target!

Be sure to watch the rest of the Hunting Wisconsin Whitetail Deer series, "Part 1: Scouting" and "Part 2: Bow Hunting Season" to learn more about hunting Wisconsin whitetail deer! 

Watch it on Youtube.com

Mar 6, 2014

First Camp: Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains (Part 1 of 4)

(1, 2, 3, 4next→

An enthusiastic, overly outdoorsy boyfriend whose dream is to backpack/hike the Porcupine Mountains (real dream: to survive the wild with just a knife and ... maybe ... a loincloth) but has, over many years, failed to recruit any of his friends to partake in his wild adventure.

A girlfriend (barely five months of dating) apprehensive about being adventurous, especially in the wild, but ... also willing to make her boyfriend's life-long dream come true.

How will they fare as they venture forth with only their backpacks into this wilderness, otherwise known as the "Porkies" located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in Ontonagon, Michigan? Watch as they hike for three days in the largest pristine, uncut hardwood forest in the Midwest.

If you like this video, be sure to watch the next video in the Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains series, Overlooked Falls → 

Watch First Camp on Youtube.com
Watch it on Youtube.com

Overlooked Falls: Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains (Part 2 of 4)

Overlooked Falls was definitely one of the nicest parts of our trip. It was simply WONDERFUL to be able to take a break and take off our shoes, sit down on a rock with our feet in the water and RELAX from an hour or more of hiking through straight, dense forest with hordes of mosquitoes hovering overhead (and finding lots of juicy spots all over our bodies). While the weather was beautiful, not terribly hot, there was a heavy, more humid feel in the forest, which instantly cleared up to cooler, breath-freshening air once we came out of the forest and into waterfall clearing.

Waterfalls are just one of the many beautiful things the Porcupine Mountains has to offer. For our next trip to the Porcupine Mountains, we will definitely be spending more exploring the park's different waterfalls. However, other parts of the park have just as much to offer. It just depends on what you like to do and what you want to see. We saw people fishing, probably for brook trout. We might even bring our fishing poles on the next trip, depending on whether we're straight backpacking or doing more of a light backpacking/camping combo.

If you like this video, be sure to watch the next video in the Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains series,  Carp River Trail →

Watch Overlooked Falls on Youtube.com
Watch it on Youtube.com

Big Carp River Trail: Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains (Part 3 of 4)

One of the challenges of hiking was making sure we had a steady supply of clean, fresh water so that we stayed hydrated and could keep going. We brought four stainless steel water bottles, two for each of us, on the trip. To keep our backpacks light, we replenished out empty water bottles from clear streams and lakes. We made sure to get water from streams and lakes that looked clear and clean and the water was constantly moving. Then, we sanitized the water using a Steripen, which we brought along for that purpose. Honestly, we weren't sure whether or not there were any chemicals or waste in the rivers or lakes. But we didn't get sick from the water and, for the most part, the water tasted okay. It wasn't spectacular and we could taste some iron and ... well, let's just say river water has a unique taste. Although, Lake Superior water tasted quite good.

If you like this video, be sure to watch the next video in the Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains series, Lily Pond →

See Big Carp River on youtube.com
Watch it on Youtube.com

Lily Pond: Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains (Part 4 of 4)

←previous (1, 2, 3, 4)

While our adventure in the Porcupine Mountains was fantastic and we really enjoyed ourselves, the mosquitoes were overwhelmingly horrible and almost ruined the trip for us. The mosquitoes were the worst part about our backpacking trip. Even though we were hiking for hours with heavy packs and sometimes the weather was uncooperative (raining on and off with some humidity and heat thrown in), we had a lot of fun and broke up the long hikes with breaks playing in the different streams and lakes, relaxing by the waterfalls we came across. Our only complaint involves the thick hordes of mosquitoes hovering overhead, following our every move while we hiked through the forested areas of the park.

We were prepared with hats, a mosquito net and an endless supply of 100% deet sprays but nothing worked. Nothing really, other than hiking as fast as we could through the heavy forested areas until we broke into a clearing. That was the only way we got any relief from the mosquitoes. It was just horrible because the hiking trails wound through large forested areas and we couldn't keep a leisurely pace or stop to rest because the whole time, mosquitoes just kept feasting on our flesh. We were constantly smacking mosquitoes off ourselves and each other. The mosquito net was pretty much useless as were the 100% deet sprays. Even the anti-itch ointment was useless with that many mosquito bites. The combination of everything, the exhaustion that came with carrying heavy packs, the constant mosquito bites, itching skin where the bites were, and  having to move at such a hurried pace without much rest, was just tolling. At one point, one of us (we're not going to say who) broke down and cried. It was that bad.

If you are planning on visiting the Porcupine Mountains, be prepared for mosquitoes with either full mosquito proof clothing or netting. We thought 100% deet would work but it didn't. It couldn't keep up with entire days and nights outdoors. The only things that worked were being in clearings next to waterfalls, seeking shelter inside our tent and being right next to a burning fire at night. So, we would highly recommend just going before or after the mosquito season. That way, you won't suffer as we did. That's probably going to be the most important factor in planning our next trip to the Porkies. By the way, Lily Pond was totally beautiful.

If you liked our Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains series, be sure to check out our YouTube channel for more information on enjoying the great outdoors!

Video Lily Pond
Watch it on Youtube.com

Mar 1, 2014

Save The Milwaukee Rivers

By Isa C.

Garbage can yuck sticker!
Garbage Can Yuck!
The good news is many people have been putting a lot of time and effort into bringing the Great Lakes back to a tolerable level of natural ecological growth. The bad news is that it the battle is long from over. For more information related to the health and growth as well as the pollution of the Great Lakes, please visit http://waterwiki.net/index.php/Welcome.

Why Us?

We believe it is the responsibility of every human being to keep their environment clean, safe and functioning for future generations to come. Whether you believe the planet is six thousand or 4.5 billion years old, it doesn't matter to us. We are here to try to contribute to our environment in the most positive way we can. We hope that is a goal that many people share and are willing to participate in even if it means simply passing the word along. Anyone and we hope everyone can help! Millions of people take it for granted that the earth has been able to "self repair" itself since the history of man. Although many may consider the effects of environmental issues such as global warming, air and water pollution to be "out of our control" or unimportant, we do not share that common attitude towards our earth. We firmly believe that there are a lot of ways in which literally everyone on the planet can help to set goals, contribute and maintain our natural environment as best as possible.

Jan 14, 2014

Winter Hiking: Wisconsin

By P. 

I'm sooo bored.
Winters in Wisconsin can be pretty cold but we still love to go winter hiking, especially our Mu. Mumu (or Mu for short) is our two-year-old multi-breed (Australian cattle dog, border collie and husky mix) puppy. Mu is very energetic and loves to be active. In the summer, we enjoy biking and running with her. But, by far, her favorite activity is hiking off-leash with us. During the winter, even long walks around the neighborhood can be difficult because of the weather. So, our poor puppy usually only gets two 15-20 minute walks a day.

Look at that big smile. She's so happy.
But when we can, we love to take her winter hiking. This is a great family adventure. Not only does it make our Mu very happy (and very tired) but it also forces us to be more active in the winter.

Going uphill is quite the workout!
Needless to say, with a nature/deer hunter enthusiast Papa, we learn a lot on our hikes and we usually find an interesting thing or two as well. On this hike, we came upon some deer beds nestled within a huddle of pine trees. Towards the end of our hike, we discovered deer rubs on some of the young trees in the woods. 
Deer Hoof Print

Deer Rub
Deer Bed
Even after an hour long hike, our Mu is still going. When  she was younger, we usually had to trick her to come to us so we could put her leash back on in order to get her in the car. She gets into the car on her own now but she's always reluctant to go home. There's just so much sniffing and digging to do in the snow!

May 22, 2013

The Waterfalls: Porcupine Mountains Take Two! (Day 1)

By P.

Agate Falls
Since our first backpacking trip to the Porcupine Mountains three years ago, we've been wanting to go back (despite being eaten alive by mosquitoes). Of course, one reason or another prevented us from doing so. And now, it's three years later and we decided to just go for it and started planning our second trip.

Taking a few lessons we learned from our first backpacking trip, we made a few adjustments when planning our second trip (four days and three nights of wilderness adventures!). We planned a trip early in spring, hoping to beat the start of the mosquito season (since mosquitoes ruined our first trip). Instead of backpacking the entire trip, we decided to camp and just do day hikes. Along with us this time were my two sisters and our dog Mumu.

Day 1 - May 17, 2013

On Bridge Overlooking Agate Falls

I loved taking rests along the mini waterfalls and rivers during our first backpacking trip. So, this time, on our way to the Porcupine Mountains, we planned a driving route to see two waterfalls along the way, which was totally worth the extra hour or so of driving.

First Stop: Agate Falls

Our GPS took us on a slightly different path so we actually ended up on a bridge overlooking Agate Falls rather than down by the actual falls.

Mumu did not like being on the
bridge overlooking Agate Falls.
Hiking Down to Get a Closer
Look at Agate Falls

Mu was much more adventurous
than Mama liked ...
but she was so happy. 
Agate Falls
Wolf Print
Second Stop: O Kun De Kun Falls

To reach O Kun De Kun Falls, we had to hike for a bit. Along the way, we found some interesting things.

First was a wood tick. These little insects like to jump onto you from nearby leaves and other forest foliage then dig into your skin for a meal.  This specific tick is a wood tick and for the most part harmless though some ticks spread disease and could possibly cause infections. Best to check yourself regularly and remove them before they get a chance to make you a meal.

We heard the falls a far ways before actually reaching them.
Nature Lessons
O Kun De Kun Falls
O Kun De Kun Falls
O Kun De Kun Falls
O Kun De Kun Falls
Setting Up Tent
Setting Up Camp

With a wet dog in tow, we made our way to the Union Bay Campground, which is a modern campground located right along Lake Superior. It's ideal for RVs and there were yurts available as well but we found  it too crowded. Okay. There were plenty of spots to pick from among the yurts and other campers but we didn't want to be around other people. We wanted to be one with nature! So, after some driving around, we ended up at the Union Bay Rustic Campgrounds.

Setting Up Tents
Mu busy exploring.
After setting up camp, we decided to take a short hike to explore our surroundings. While the girls and Isa were setting up the tents, I started preparations for dinner.

Dinner Menu: Campbell's Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup and Baked Potatoes
Noodle Soup Boilin'
Taters Cookin'
Our food theme for this trip was SIMPLE and EASY. Nothing is more simple and easy then opening a few cans of soup (three to be exact) and pouring the contents into a stainless steel pot to be heated over an open fire. Surprisingly, it didn't take more than 15 minutes for the soup to come to a boil.

After washing the potatoes, I simply double wrapped each spud in aluminum foil and tossed them into the fire. While we waited for the potatoes to cook, we enjoyed the soup (Delicious! Especially after a long day of hiking.) and even had time for a quick hike to explore the area surrounding our campsite.

We were amazed to find patches of snow in the middle of May!
There are streams and little waterfalls everywhere!
After exploring the area around our camp, we came back to cooked baked potatoes! [Bring an oven mitt. It will make things much easier.] To add more flavor, we topped our potatoes with butter and Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits, adding a bit of salt and black pepper to season.
Easy, Simple and Delicious!

Jan 17, 2013

What Deer See - Whitetail vs. Hunter

What Deer See!
What Deer See!
By Isa C.

Ever wonder what white-tailed deer see? Many times hunters overlook critical aspects such as deer vision, causing them to be ill-prepared and ineffective hunters. Additionally, the studies regarding deer vision in relation to deer hunting get mentioned in popular hunter culture but rarely is there a decent explanation citing facts and, more importantly, not related to some sort of consumer marketing.

First, in order to understand deer vision, we need to start with the basics. The visible light spectrum consists of a frequency range approximately 380nm to 750nm. This frequency range can be broken up into smaller sections. These sections of light frequency appear differently to our eyes. Furthermore, there are different types of sensory cells in our eyes capable of perceiving different frequencies. As a result, we are able to differentiate these frequencies as multiple colors. The colors of the visible light spectrum are violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red (Figure 1-A).

Humans as well as deer have two major types of photoreceptor cells in the retina of their eyes called cone cells and rod cells.
Figure 1-A. Human Visible Light Spectrum

Cone cells are responsible for color vision and are most effective in well lit conditions. Rod cells are more effective in low light conditions and, for the most part, don't allow for color vision. This is why discerning colors can be difficult when it gets dark, even if you can still see an object.

Most humans have trichromatic vision, which means we have three different types of cone cells functioning in our eyes. Each type of human cone cell is sensitive to either a red, blue or green part of the color spectrum, giving us the ability to perceive what we know as full color. With the exception of colorblind individuals, most of us can see the full visible light spectrum accurately (Figure 1-A). This is where the similarities between humans and deer become few and the differences many.

Jan 15, 2013

Before the Great Adventure in the Porcupine Mountains...

By P. 

When finalizing a trip, it is always a good idea to let at least two people know where you are going, your plans while you're away, and when to expect you home. (I say at least two people because one of them might forget.) There are a lot of crazy stuff and a lot of crazy people out in the world (and just random acts of bad luck) and it is always necessary to put your safety first.

So, as we wrapped up our plans for our first great adventure to the Porcupine Mountains, we sent out a mass email to all our close family and friends, letting them know exactly what our plans were and detailed descriptions of our planned hiking route along with a map and emergency contact info in case something happened to us. Better smart and precautionary than lying in a ditch with a sprained ankle unable to climb out, gnawing on tree bark for nourishment, hoping your sister somehow realizes she hasn't spoken to you in a week and gets worried enough to drive around to your place to realize you haven't been home in a while, and maybe calls the police who will, after the 24 hour waiting period, file you as missing and maybe a while later start looking through your computer files to see what your last activity was and ... okay. I think you get the point. Main point here, just let people know where you're going so they can send out a search party if you don't make it back in a timely manner.

Email Sent:

Tue, Jul 20, 2010 10:31 PM
1 attachment (Our Map into the Wilderness of the Porcupine Mountains)

From: P.
Subject: P. & Isa's Backpacking Trip in the Porcupine Mountains
To: Our Family & Friends

Hi All!

We are sending you all a copy of our itinerary in case *cross your fingers* something goes down and we need rescuing. We're leaving around 12:30pm/1pm Thursday, July 22 and returning late afternoon Monday, July 26. So, if you don't hear back from us after Monday, COME LOOK FOR US! (Please feed our babies before coming though.)

Puppy and Lilly, the babies.
This is a schedule of the trails we'll be hiking/camping along: We'll check into the ranger station at the park headquarters and register on Thursday (around 6pm) when we get there. Then we're going to drive down and park in the trailhead parking area near Section 17. Hopefully, we'll be able to start hiking for a while before setting up camp for the night. From there, we will hike along the Little Carp River Trail to see the Overlooked Falls and the Greenstone Falls. At the end of that trail is a rustic cabin called the "Little Carp." We plan to walk along the beach of Lake Superior to do some beach combing before getting on the the Big Carp River Trail. We will hike on that trail to the Lake of the Clouds and then get onto the North Mirror Lake Trail to see Mirror Lake. From there, we continue onto the Little Carp River Trail, past Lily Pond, and, eventually, make our way back to the trailhead parking area. We plan to leave after breakfast on Monday morning and then make the five hour drive back [home].