Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monster Fulton County Buck Bowkill

Very few hunters get lucky enough to kill a Boone and Crockett caliber deer in their lifetime. Some hunters get lucky enough to kill a Boone and Crockett caliber deer more than once in their lifetime. Some very skilled hunters get lucky enough to kill a Booner every few years or so. Then there is Ryan Pudik. He doesn't just kill one monster buck of a lifetime every year, but he usually gets two with his bow.

Here is the behemoth he shot last night. It worked out conveniently that I was headed to do some work out at Otter Creek and was able to snap these pics:

Here are the stories and pics of the two giants he shot last year:
Otter Creek Monster Deer
Another Otter Creek Monster Deer

Ryan isn't just an average hunter though. He is a land specialist who not only knows the ins and outs of hunting, but he also knows deer and land. Kind of like many people know how to fish, but not many people know fish. That actually is the key to being able to catch fish consistently, kind of like how Ryan kills big deer consistently.

Anyhow I have been working on many of the same projects over the last few years that Ryan has also been working on, and just this year we have teamed up to together to provide complete turnkey land and lake management services. Also in order to offer a full line of hunting and land improvement products along with our services we joined up with Jared Plattner of Our goal is to eventually become the best full service lake and land management company in the nation. I am a dreamer I know, but it takes a determined dreamer to accomplish great things! One by one we are putting together the pieces of the puzzle.

Utilizing Wetlands for Stocking Fish

Today we headed out to Otter Creek to drain the wetland and relocate the fish to the lakes on the property. We have a variety of lake management uses for wetlands. We use them as growout ponds to grow gamefish to big enough sizes to stock into existing lakes. We also use them as forage ponds to grow forage all summer long and then flush them into the main lake to feed the gamefish. We sometimes use them to plant waterfowl food and then flood them. Occasionally we use them just to naturally enhance the crawdads, bullfrogs, toads, and other beneficial wildlife on a property.

So you get the point that there are many different uses for a wetland. I would like to say that in order to be the most productive, it is best to define and design your wetland to fulfill your exact goal. Anyhow, this particular wetland is an ongoing experiment and has been used for pretty much all of the above uses at one stage or another and what was left was a mixed bag of interesting craziness.

It has been drained and planted and filled and stocked and foraged and drained and filled and stocked and then not harvested last year and stocked and now we were very interested to see what in the world was in there. Here is a pic of the draining wetland.

We relocated tens of thousands of bluegill, shiners, crappie, and gizzard shad to the big lake. We also flushed tens of thousands of those fish down the tube and straight into the Canadian lake as well. Also we relocated about 100 of the biggest smallmouth and all of the largemouth into Big Lake, and flushed the rest of the smallmouth down into the canadian lake.

Here are the pics of the largemouth and smallmouth. The largemouth were in the wetland for 2 years, and the smallmouth were in for just one year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gulf Shores Trip Day Six- Our Last Day

This was our last day at the beach down in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The rains and storms cleared out and left us with some hot sunny weather and some big waves. I figured the kids would be scared of the ocean waves, but after they watched Justin and I do some boogie boarding they were ready to jump right in!

Here are some pics of just playing on the beach and at the pool for our last day of vacation. We did do some fishing, but didnt do any catching in the short amount of time we devoted to God's favorite pasttime. (it's fishing for those of you who arent religious).

We finished off the evening with some pizza delivery from Cricco's and the movie How to Train Your Dragon from the local Red Box. Noah was so exhausted from the day, he actually fell asleep and tumbled over onto the couch while still chewing on a bite of pizza in the middle of a sentence explaining how tired he was. I havent seen that before, it was like someone hit him with one of those animal stun darts.

Anyhow that was our first time using red box movie rental and it worked out pretty slick for just $1. We actually returned it to the red box in Morton on our way home after watching it during the car ride home.

So we headed for home at 3 am on Tuesday morning and made it back to Peoria at 4:45 pm. It was a long day of traveling, but overall the kids did great. About noon my dad texts me over this picture:

They went fishing at the Gulf Shores State Pier and caught 2 sharks, 15 big croakers, 10 ground mullet, a sting ray, that big redfish, and had 6 fish break their lines. We actually barely ever fish the pier, but since they completely renovate the pier after the last hurricane it has been dynamite fishing! We will be more prepared for Pier fishing on our next visit!

So to wrap up this trip, we stayed at Lani Kai Village Condos right on the beach in Gulf Shores. All the condos through Meyer Realty are half price due to the oil spill scaring away all the vacationers. We fished at the little lagoon pass, perdido bridge pass, the gulf shores state pier, and right off the beach in front of the condo. The pier costs $8 to fish from, but everywhere else was free. Just toss shrimp or pinfish out into the water and hold onto your pole! Our favorite place to eat is Bahama Bobs beachside cafe just a short walk down the beach from the condo (you dont need to go anywhere else for the islands best food). The girls made a few visits to the Tanger Outlet Mall and the only other attraction we went to was the Gulf Shores Zoo. The whole 6 day trip for our family of five including condo rental, gas, food, bait, license, zoo, and kayak rental costed about $950.

Fellas, the one thing that does not include was shopping at the outlet mall and souvenir city. I can't really count them as fixed costs into the vacation budget if I dont have a clue how many hours I worked in exchange for those new clothes and fancy smooth souvenir rocks, I would more classify them as a cost of living expense......

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gulf Shores Trip Day Five

The sun worshippers were not nearly as happy as I was to see the sun go on Sunday morning. The only problem was the rain and high winds that came along with the clouds. We still made the most of the weather, and started the day of right by cooking up a huge breakfast.

Since the beach was not pleasant to be on, we hit the gulf shores zoo. Its a small zoo, but perfect for the kids. They got cups of zoo puffs to feed many of the animals.

Then we headed to the pool for about an hour. The pool has a wood fence around it which blocks the wind nicely. After the pool we all hit nap time for a couple hours. Then we headed out to our fishing spot at the pass. It was stormy, windy, rainy, lightningy, and thundery outside so we were very surprised to see 6 guys spread out and in our spot we had found. Its amazing how fast word travels when your catching lots of big fish!

We set up shop about 30 yards down the way, since we were too nice to cram in. We figured we could wait them out with the nasty weather and all. Anyhow we set out our big rigs and then passed the time by catching white trout, flounder, and some crazy fish.

We filled up the cooler completely with nice fish, but were kind of disappointed to not be able to fish our honey hole for the big reds. We finally went in at 9 pm.

The guys who set up shop right in our spot were not friendly at all (that is putting it nicely). A couple of them I recognized from scoping us out the night before, which is no big deal, but they brought in several friends to keep everyone away. We just stayed away and watched them catch 5 big huge redfish. We still had a chance at hooking up in the spot we were at, just not nearly as good of a chance.

Monday we plan on taking it easy and finally resting and relaxing before heading for home early Tuesday morning. We will hit the beach and I am sure we will do a little fishing, but just for an hour or two as an activity for the kids.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gulf Shores Trip Day Four

This is our fourth day down in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was a tad bit windier than the first three days, but the sun is still shining and its 80 degrees. Not ideal fishing weather, but absolutely perfect for playing on the beach and in the pool!

Justin and I headed out in the kayaks at the crack of dawn. It was a tad bit eerie getting in the kayaks before the sun came up, but we said we are either going to have a great time or have a great story to tell later on. We paddled 3 miles along the gulf chasing birds and looking for deep holes. The pompano and flounders were not kind to us this morning, but we did catch some nice ladyfish and a couple of crazy looking lizard fish.

The lizard fish are only about a foot long, but they look prehistoricly scary. We kind of joke that they are fish that can kill you 21 different ways with all their venomous teeth, fins, spines, and googly eyes. They may in fact be harmless, but I'm not going to touch one to find out.

So we ended up 3 miles away and the wind and waves kept getting stronger and stronger as the morning progressed. Running on empty, we didnt have enough gas in the tanks to make it back to our place. The kayaks were powered by 280 horsepower super human engines, but they just werent strong enough to make it home! Mommy had to come get us in the van. No pics from this adventure, we left our waterproof camera at home and boy are we mad we did!

Spent the rest of the day swimming and playing. Have lots of pics of this stuff on other peoples cameras that I will post later. I dont have any of that stuff on my camera for some reason. My camera is a special fish camera 2033 dxl limited edition. It only is capable of taking fishing or food related pictures.

We headed back down to Perdido Pass at 4 pm and boy did we have fun! My dad and Mae caught a whole bunch of white trout and Justin caught this enormous bull redfish:

Jim something or other has been fishing his whole life, but hasnt been redfishing much. We showed him the ropes on how to catch pinfish for bait and it wasnt 30 seconds after he chucked his first pinfish out into the current when this mega bull red pounded his bait! Just as we were gaffing the fish, his circle hook was pretty much bent straight!

Here are some pics of the white trout fishing. We caught some dandies:

We didnt stay very late because our stomachs were hurting and growling for some reason? I couldnt figure out why all of our stomachs had this weird achy rumbling feeling at the same time, until I realized we hadnt eaten anything for like 7 hours! I did some research online and it turns out that hunger is a pain that occurs when you need to eat food. Brook and I quickly remedied that strange feeling with some bacon wrapped jalepeno stuffed shrimp and some pecan encrusted grouper.

Oh yeah, first we had to have Wingtzells Oyster House get some food right out to us while waiting for our entrees. Here is what is left of the world famous tangy buffalo syle fried shrimp:

Finished off the night watching the rest of the Missouri/Oklahoma game and all of the highlights from the college football games. Tomorrow we are taking the morning off from fishing (fedi, we got a whole cooler of meat for ya already!) I am going to cook up a feast for breakfast to ensure 'hunger' does not occur at all on Sunday. Then we are headed to go see some alligators at the zoo. Lord willing we will be back at the pass trying to get an even bigger Bull Red!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gulf Shores Trip Day Three

Anyhow today was great! We caught a whole bunch of big tasty fish. We jampacked a whole bunch of fishing and swimming from before sunrise to well after sunset. We started fishing off the beach in front of the condo. Then we swam and built sand castles for awhile before heading out in the kayaks during the middle of the day. About 5 pm we headed over to the bridge at perdido pass to fish the high tide by the pilings. We caught some serious fish at the bridge! We finished off the evening with some fried crab claws, shrimp, and seafood nachos from Live Bait.

Here are the pics from the morning beach fishing. This is my sister Amy with a small bluefish she caught all by herself!

Here is our spread on the beach:

Shaeya is reeling in one of many ground mullet:

Here is the aforementioned ground mullet:

The guy fishing right next to us caught this shark. Of course we had to get a picture of it. You make lots of friends while fishing on the beach. Especially when we are doing alot of catching, fisherman (mainly old guys) come on down and set up shop right next door. Its no problem in the Gulf, because there is plenty of space and plenty of fish in the sea. Its almost better to have more bait in the water, and I have learned plenty from the old fisherman.

Now picture yourself 1/2 mile from shore fishing in a small kayak/boat chasing jumping baitfish with birds diving in the water and dolphins jumping just 15 feet away. Now picture your small boat capsizing with a big wave.... I have never seen Justin move so fast as he did that moment his boat flipped. He had his fishing pole, glasses, hat, paddle, and tackle box gathered up and back in that boat faster than I can blink. It was great.

There are tons of schools of baitfish just off the beach. The big fish are chasing them up to the surface and the birds are dive bombing them from the air. Anyhow Justin and I decided we needed to try and get out to them so we rented kayaks from the rental place across the street. They worked great and we went over a mile offshore in these little boats and we caught some real nice fish. Obviously the highlight was when Justin capsized. Here is a pic of the boats:

We actually caught these flounders from the kayaks. They were the only edible fish we caught so brought them in on stringers and we were able to get pics of them.

Ok, here are the pics from fishing at Perdido Pass. We catch small pinfish (about the size of bluegills) and then put them on the big poles and chuck them way out into the current. Here is the biggest fish of the trip so far! It was a 24 lb redfish that my dad caught. Talk about a battle! This Bull Red hit a 6 inch pinfish like a ton of bricks and took off running!

Justin caught this scary looking fish that we actually couldnt identify. We used plyers to get the hook out of its mouth.
While we wait for the big poles to get hit by the redfish and sharks, we pass the time by catching bunches of these white trout on Berkley gulp shrimp. Just put the fake shrimp on a jig head, cast it out, and slowly reel it in. They are so easy to catch that Mae was catching them all by herself! I don't like to eat them too much because they do have a flavor, but they are a delicacy to many people. My uncle Fedi absolutely loves to eat them, so we will be bringing him home a whole cooler full of these fillets.

They got some teeth! Noah has some teeth too!

Here is the remainder of the seafood nachos and fried crab claws. A great way to top off a full day of playing down near the Gulf! We also had some fresh ground mullet and whiting from our morning trip to go along with the meal.