Category Archives: Personal Observations

Rut Monster

Many years ago when my friend and long-time hunting partner, Rick LaJeunesse, was with me, I shot a 9-point buck on public land. That deer was in rut at the time. I knew because of his neck size. Now there’s another Rut Monster to tell stories about.

Rick has unfortunately gone to the bigger hunting ground and I no longer hunt in our old stomping grounds…except for when I want to stay close to home. The new location is a two-hour drive to a wilderness area of northern Wisconsin. It’s private property that we’ve been cultivating to provide areas where deer are likely to visit.

We’ve put trail cameras out in several locations on the 40-acre parcel. They’re checked when we get a chance and most show does wandering by but we have captured a wolf and several bears on the cameras. Some bucks, too, but none like the one we’re now calling the Rut Monster (below).

Crocker Hills Grandpa
At 11L10 a.m. on November 6th, this bad boy posed for the camera to show off his prowess.

This monster was captured during daylight, which is one sign that it was during the rut. Another indication is the size of his neck…distended to almost double its normal size. As far as we know, he’s still roaming the north woods. We’re anxious to see what his offspring will look like!

Standard Transmissions

First, allow a definition. Standard transmissions enable a driver to shift gears in a vehicle by depressing a clutch before changing from one gear to the next. This is in opposition to the standard in most vehicles on the road today: Automatic transmissions. Avoid confusing “standard issue” automatic transmissions with standard or manual transmissions. I know, we can’t call it a manual transmission because it implies only males can operate them. Malarkey!

It is my firm belief that driver education vehicles should only be equipped with manually shifted standard transmissions. Anyone learning with a manual transmission should be able to drive anything.

The tricky part was going from low to high range. You had to coordinate pulling up the low/high lever on the gear shift correctly as you changed during clutch depression. Many times, double clutching was required to properly engage gears. Going down from sixth to fifth was also a slowing down challenge.

Gear Shift Pattern
N is neutral with R signifying reverse.

I learned to drive a farm tractor when I was 12 years old. Knowing how to drive a standard enabled me to get a job driving flat bed trucks for a lumber yard when I earned my driver’s license at 16. The trucks were 10-speeds (not counting reverse or neutral) requiring you to start in first gear, low range, and work your way up to fifth gear, then shift to high range and work your way up from 6th to 10th gear to increase speed.

Technical stuff, I know, but learning to drive with a standard transmission teaches you how to keep proper distances from vehicles in front of you, especially on hills, and how to ensure you have enough room to slow down and avoid collisions. The coordination to stop involves clutch, shifting to neutral to disengage gears, and braking; all requiring conscious thought. Most passenger vehicles with standard transmissions only have five speeds and the shift pattern is tight compared to a larger truck’s gear shift. There’s also a reverse gear set slightly apart from the shift pattern to avoid accidentally shifting into reverse; that’s hard on the transmission.

Learning to drive with a standard transmission usually involves the grinding of a few gears as you get the hang of the pattern, clutch smoothness, and shift requirements. Try it sometime; some place safe.

The Reluctant Daughter

Rafters enjoying a river floatStopping by a small grocery/convenience store/gas station/bar and restaurant on my way to deer camp, I had to yield to a young woman carrying 12-packs of beer to the cooler. She didn’t look happy about her assignment. I guessed her to be the owner’s reluctant daughter. Her age had to be 15 or 16; old enough to want to enjoy the summer although not old enough to borrow the car and get away.

Not that getting away is easy in a small village near a popular rafting river when your parents’ business involves supplying snacks and beverages for the rafting enthusiasts. Not easy when the nearest larger community, defined as having a fast food restaurant, is more than 30 miles away. And certainly not easy when there are few young men around to serve as boyfriends, or girlfriends to hang out with, either.

She seemed reluctant.

Dressed in shorts and a nice top, she had the look of a worker who wished she was doing something—anything—else. Mom was behind the counter, selling licenses to customers, ringing up  purchases, and explaining about the bathroom and when the van left for the tubing run. The daughter (I assumed the two were related because of their similar appearances), acted as if she had no choice in the matter.

It was Saturday. The weather was ideal for tubing down the river. The store was busy. The bar and restaurant were busy, too, so it was “all hands on deck”. Every available person was needed to help take care of customers and bring in the cash. After all, it is the family business!

I’m sure she got paid for sacrificing her Saturday, but that had little bearing on her reluctance to do any more than she had to…much less interact with the customers with a friendly smile and cheerful disposition.