Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mom's First Turkey


After years of pursuit, Mom finally dropped the hammer on this Jake (11.5 lbs) on May 15th, 2015 at 6:30 AM. I was very happy to have been there during the event, providing purrs, yelps and clucks of encouragement to get the shy Jake to walk (hobble) the final few feet into the range of Mom's Mossberg 20g. Congrats Mom!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Turkey Season 2015 - Shot Video and Pictures

Turkeys were coming in well until at about 25 yards the two young jakes become alerted when I draw my bow. While I attempt to center on the rapidly departing twosome the yards quickly add up and my brain attempts to calculate arrow drop and lead. In the end, I have to admit that sometimes luck is a huge component of success and in this case lady luck shined. The jake still ran about 200 yards before collapsing, despite a devastating blow delivered by a RAGE broad head. Enjoy!


Jake Turkey take with PSE Stinger Bow

Jake Turkey but taken with a Bow a TRUE Trophy

Love the Color

Practice Make Perfect

Wildlife Quiz - The Meadow Vole

The meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), known also as the field mouse, boasts an incredible home range, found throughout the United States and even as far north as Alaska and northern sections of the Yukon. Meadow voles may be found in a wide diversity of habitats, including grassy fields, woodlands, marshes, and along ponds and streams.

Counting the tail, meadow voles rarely exceed seven inches long and usually weigh less than an ounce or two. Coloration of individuals can vary from a light yellow-brown to an almost black-brown, a stark contrast against their gray underbellies. Meadow voles make nests in clumps dry grass, sedges, and weeds and also dig burrows, for protection, winter food storage and birthing young. These extensive underground networks Meadow Voles additionally construct tunnels, depending on the season, beneath the snow and grass allowing them to move between their bedding and feeding areas without being easily detected by predators.

Meadow voles do not usually store food and must continually search for food to satisfy their voracious appetites. Meadow voles daily consume their equivalent weight in seeds, clover, leaves, bark, bulbs, and sometimes insects and animal remains. In agricultural areas with high populations of meadow voles, they can cause extensive damage to young fruit trees and crops.

Prolific breeders, a single female meadow vole can have 12 litters a year, birthing as many as 80 young in a single season. Young reach adulthood in approximately 12 weeks depending on environmental factors, leaving the nest soon after. Most meadow voles live a year to a year and a half with 88% dying within the first 30 days after birth due to high rates of predation by hawks, owls, snakes, fox, raccoons and coyotes who all rely heavily on this vast food source for their own survival.

Wildlife Quiz Questions: 
1. What is another name for the meadow vole?
2. What is the home range of the meadow vole?
3. In what habitats does the meadow vole live?
4. How long is a meadow vole?
5. How much does a meadow vole weigh?
6. What do meadow voles eat?
7. How many litters can a single female meadow vole have in a year?
8. How long can a meadow vole live?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. Another name for the meadow vole is field mouse.
2. The home range, of the meadow vole is throughout the United States and as far north as Alaska and northern sections of the Yukon.
3. Meadow voles may be found in a wide diversity of habitats, including grassy fields, woodlands, marshes, and along ponds and streams.
4. Counting the tail, meadow voles rarely exceed seven inches long.
5. Meadow voles rarely exceed an ounce or two in weight.
6. Meadow voles eat seeds, clover, leaves, bark, bulbs, and sometimes insects and animal remains.
7. A single female meadow vole can have 12 litters a year.
8. A meadow vole can live a year to a year and a half.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Brook Trout and Turkey Down East

The month of May presents the last chance anglers have to chase brook trout before the waters warm by months end, making this species nearly impossible to catch. Two spectacular locations to pursue this endeavor are Simpson and Norse Ponds. Not only are these ponds regularly stocked with brook trout but they also both boast spectacular scenery sure to impress even the biggest curmudgeon.

Fishing Brook Trout
Simpson Pond (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 26, D-3), located in Roque Bluffs State Park, sits just a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean. The location is stunning so be sure to bring a camera as the park’s beautiful landscape is further enhanced by its abundant wildlife. During the early spring, Great Blue Herons, Bald eagles, Hooded Mergansers, Barrow's Goldeneye, Eiders, Surf Scooters, Blacks and Mallard ducks are plentiful.

While the fishing prospects may at first not look like much, this miniscule 21 acre pond regularly offers up brook trout and brown trout weighing between two and three pounds. Stocked by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) every fall with brown trout and every spring with brook trout, the pond is a favorite fishing destination for shore-anglers using a worm and bobber. While the small pond can be effectively fished from shore, a canoe or kayak (motorboats are prohibited) provides anglers with the added flexibility to explore some of the harder to fish areas, frequently holding second season brook trout that sometimes attain lengths of 13-15 in. On calm evenings, it is an absolute joy to fly fish by wading the ponds shallow waters (5 ft maximum), tempting trout with small caddis and mayfly patterns. Anglers with kids will be pleased to know that the park is a wonderful area for families with easy hiking trails, a sandy ocean beach and a pond side picnic tables, fireplaces for cookouts, and swings for children.

Norse Pond (Map 27, C-2) exists as part of the 1,775-acre Bog Brook Cove preserve located in the heart of Maine’s Bold Coast. The 10 acre pond located east of the scenic fishing village of Cutler was stocked in the fall of 2013 with 350 brook trout measuring about 8 inches. Norse is a unique fishing location, as reaching the pond is only possible by hiking approximately one-mile on the Moose Cove trail. Access is further hampered by the ponds boggy shoreline that makes fishing from shore difficult. Anglers who overcome these obstacles by carrying in small kayaks or float tubes are usually richly rewarded with brook trout ranging from 11 to 15 inches. Legend states that Norse Pond was created by Norsemen as a water supply for one of their coastal Maine encampments. While these claims have been refuted by experts, it is still fun to walk the impressive bold cost trails and imagine that these ancient adventurers once walked these trails and gazed upon these same magnificent shores. To access the Norse Pond trailhead travel 18.5 miles north on Route 191, from the junction of Route 1 and Route 191 in East Machias. A small parking area and sign exists at the trail head.

Turkey Hunting 
Turkey hunters Down East were surprised during the spring 2014 turkey hunt by a last minute decision by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) to suspend the previously scheduled opening of spring turkey hunting across all of Washington County. This change happened so rapidly, that last year my published May column still had mention that turkey hunting throughout Washington County would be open. While I understand that IFW made this choice because it was worried about the number of turkeys that managed to survive during the harsh winter, it was ultimately a poor choice that added unnecessary confusion among sportsmen. One less year of turkey hunting is not going to magically ensure turkeys are permanent Down East residents. As long as IFW doesn’t again change its mind; turkey season is scheduled to run May 4, 2015 through June 6, 2015 with youth day for both residents and nonresidents occurring on May 2, 2015. According to IFW’s website, ALL Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) are open to hunting spring turkeys with bag limits per WMD as follows: WMD's 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 , 28 and 29 with two (2) bearded wild turkey bag limit and WMD’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8, with a one (1) bearded wild turkey bag limit.

When attempting to locate turkeys, it pays to slowly walk or drive Washington Counties thousands of miles of logging roads and snowmobile / ATV paths. This method of “running and gunning” allows turkey hunters to be mobile, locate early morning gobblers and setup quickly for a chance at harvesting one of these impressive and beautiful birds. Prime turkey hunting locations exist throughout Washington County, with a fun and exciting hunt starting in Northfield (Map 26, B-2) and driving logging roads into Smith Landing, the beautiful Great Falls (Map 26, B-2) and continuing south following the Machias River into Whitneyville. For a coastal hunters searching for a WMA to explore, I suggest the 649-acre Jonesboro WMA (Map 26, C-2). For more specifics on the spring turkey hunt, see the IFW website at: www.maine.gov/ifw.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May and June Have this Sportsman Talking Turkey

This short article was published in the Sportsman Alliance of Maine (SAM) May/June 2015 Newsletter . . . enjoy!

My boots strip dew from the tall grass leaving behind ghostly footprints that will disappear soon after the sun crests the horizon. Not a single breath of air circulates; the absolute stillness magnifies the sound of my heavily beating heart. The early spring morning darkness and thick fog hang heavy, concealing my approach. A crow screams out in the distance, making me distinctly aware the slumbering forest is awakening, my pace quickens. Suddenly, a gobble erupts from the tree line and my arms break out in goose bumps. Am I too late? Was I seen approaching? Is the hunt over before it had even begun? Hastily setting up my portable blind, I hope against hope that the hunting gods will be kind.

There is something distinctly awakening about an early spring turkey hunt. Maine’s forest seems greener, dew sweeter, the sun’s light warmer and smells more pungent. Perhaps it is the previous months of relative hunting inactivity or the return to the woods after a long cold winter, either way pursuing Old Tom sure has a way of stirring man’s primitive soul.

Hunting turkeys with bow and arrow is a sport designed to test the patience of man. Along with the time that must be devoted to practice and preseason scouting, hunters must also be prepared to spend hours in the field awaiting an ethical shot opportunity. Many dedicated archers will devote an entire season of effort and never get a turkey. For a majority of sportsmen, this challenge is what makes the sport exciting.

Preseason Scouting Experienced archers turn these diminutive odds in their favor, by patterning birds before the season begins. Throughout the season, birds will continue the same basic day-to-day schedule even if disturbed by light hunting pressure. Monitor changes in behavior, be flexible and modify ambush plans as necessary to match the bird’s routines. Adaptability insures you are consistently where the birds want to be. Natural terrain features like rock walls, logging roads, pathways connecting fields and other funnels will help direct birds to within bow range.

Blinds
A ground blind is an archer’s best friend. Offering a portable means of hiding from Old Tom’s sharp eyes, protection from Maine’s fickle spring weather, as well as biting insects they are worth the investment. To choose from the multitude of offerings, it pays to “try before you buy”. Sportsmen should sit in a variety of blinds and review them for space, weight, visible shooting lanes and available amenities (gear hooks, bow holders, lights). Other important considerations are blinds possessing a degree of water resistance. Some of the more budget conscious blinds are not waterproof. If you select one of these blinds, use silicon spray to coat both the inside and out to insure you stay dry. The final decision should be a balance of cost and function that makes the most sense to you.

Maine in the spring is ripe with biting insects. To combat these pests, ground blinds equipped with shoot through mesh are invaluable. Hunters will also encounter and need to combat the deer tick. These nasty critters carry the serious and debilitating Lyme disease. To protect your person, rake away all leaf matter and debris from the inside of the blind footprint, dose with a liberal application of bug spray and be sure to tuck in clothing. After each hunt your clothing should be run through the washer and dryer to guarantee that no ticks fall off your clothing and find their way into your living quarters. Spouses frown on deer ticks crawling up their legs when they are cooking morning breakfast! Finally, sportsmen should conduct a “tick check”. This ritual consists of stripping to your birthday suit and dancing in front of a full-length mirror to insure no stowaways have jumped aboard.

Bow Hunting Lessons Learned 
Decoys are both a benefit and a curse. Mature Toms can be extremely leery about approaching a decoy. If using decoys be sure to set them no further than 5 yards from your position. If a bird decides to investigate this gives you an excellent point blank opportunity. If a bird hangs on the outside perimeter you will still be provided with a 20-25 yard shot. Turkeys adore the rain and some of my most productive days have occurred when it is pouring. Do not be afraid to go out in heavy precipitation, as birds will be out in force. Besides, watching turkeys shake like wet dogs is a comical show not to be missed. A bow need not be set to high poundage for turkey hunting. A lighter weight will allow for a more controlled draw and a longer hold, a definite plus for spooky Toms.

To make sure your arrow arrives at the correct destination, archers should study turkey impact shot charts so they clearly understand exactly where a critical shot must be placed. Arrow quivers attached to your bow can be a liability as they change the balance of your outfit. They can also be difficult to manage in the close quarters of a hunting blind. If you plan to use your quiver while hunting make sure to have it attached during your practice sessions. I take mine off the bow once I arrive at the blind, so that it doesn’t interfere with shooting.

Final Thoughts 
Maine’s turkey population is increasing rapidly and this spring is the perfect time for you to get out and arrow one of these magnificent birds. For many sportsmen the most difficult part of any hunt is the waiting game. Turkey hunting can for some be a quick trip into the woods and at the same time for others it can be a season long event. Persistence will pay in the end for the dedicated archer. The trick is not to lose hope, don’t be disheartened and remember that your trophy bird could be just over the next hillside.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FREE camp for young adults with cancer & their families

Indian Rock Camps (AKA Camp Clearwaters), located in pristine Grand Lake Stream, Maine will be hosting a completely FREE week at their camps for children and young adults (up to 40 years old) with cancer and their families. While there exist several children’s cancer camps in Maine, none allow admission by young adults, until now! Jo-Anne and Ken Cannell are happy to host this annual CELEBRATION OF LIFE in loving memory of their daughter Gretchen, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 12 and bravely fought this fight for 14 years. The camp is free for Maine residents and reservations will be honored on a first come first serve basis. For more information, or to secure one of the limited spots please contact Jo-Anne Cannell at 207-796-2822, 1-800-498-2821 or by email at: indianrockcamp@gmail.com

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tradition

The son’s strokes are inexperienced, the father whispers instruction and the paddle digs deeply into the gin-clear waters. The child smiles, as the kayak slides effortlessly across the glass calm lake. A brilliant sun crests the horizon, igniting the morning sky. The man having seen a thousand sunrises relishes in his child’s enjoyment of the exquisite sight. Trout ripple, ospreys soar, a beaver tail slaps . . . the boy intently watches in silent awe. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wildlife Quiz - Black-Capped Chickadee

The black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), know more commonly as simply “Chickadee”, may be found in a wide diversity of habitats, including mixed woodlands, field edges and marshes to residential neighborhoods. Boasting an impressive range, Chickadees may be found throughout the United States and even as far north as Alaska and the Yukon. Though capable of over thirteen distinct and complex sounds, the chickadee’s name was derived from its most commonly known chick-a-dee-dee-dee vocalization. Though seemingly a simple sounding call, scientists have determined that through these five notes, chickadees can communicate to the other members of the flock potential threats, food sources, location and group movements.

Chickadees are notoriously tolerant of humans, easily tempted to take food from a person’s hand. This curiosity along with their endearing over-sized heads and diminutive bodies make the chickadee a favorite at birdfeeders. The chickadee’s popularity is apparent, as it serves as the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts, and as the provincial bird of New Brunswick, Canada.

Caterpillars, small insects, seeds and berries comprise the diet of the Chickadee, with black oil sunflower seeds a winter favorite to be scoffed from winter bird feeders. Chickadees commonly hide food items for consumption at a later time when other food may not be as readily available.

The chickadee mating season starts in April and ends in Jun. The male chickadee contributes greatly to raising the young by providing food to the female and to the young throughout the entire brooding cycle. Clutch sizes very from between 6-8 eggs, deposited in nests usually constructed in the protected hole of a tree. Young develop rapidly and typically leave the nest 10–15 days after hatching. The maximum recorded lifespan of a chickadee is twelve years of age but in the wild, due to high rates of predation, rarely survive longer than a few years.

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is the distribution of the chickadee?
2. In what habitats can chickadees typically be found?
3. What are chickadees able to communicate through their seemingly simple vocalizations?
4. In what US States do chickadees serve as the state bird?
5. What comprises a majority of the chickadees diet?
6. When is chickadee mating season?
7. How many eggs do chickadees typically lay in a single clutch?
8. What is the maximum age of a chickadee?

Wildlife Quiz Answers: 
1. Chickadees may be found throughout the United States and even as far north as Alaska and the Yukon.
2. Chickades may be found in a wide diversity of habitats, including mixed woodlands, field edges and marshes to residential neighborhoods.
3. Through their seemingly simple vocalizations, chickadees can communicate to the other members of the flock potential threats, food sources, location and group movements.
4. The chickadee serves as the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts.
5. A majority of the chickadees diets is comprised of caterpillars, small insects, seeds and berries.
6. Chickadee mating season starts in April and ends in Jun.
7. Chickadees lay in a typical clutch between 6-8 eggs.
8. The maximum recorded lifespan of a chickadee is twelve years of age.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Free an ATV with the “Z”

The hour was late and in attempting to hurry back to camp, I inadvertently misjudged my ATV’s ability to successfully navigate a sizeable mud filled obstruction and was immediately and hopelessly mired. Having suffered through multiple back operations and lacking a wench, I was in the middle of contemplating the long and arduous walk back to civilization when I suddenly remembered I had some rope and several carabineers packed into the back seat of the ATV. Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, even the most basic equipment can be fashioned into a simple machine able to greatly add to a person’s ability to maximize their strength, both reducing fatigue and the potential of personal injury.

The z-pulley system, learned during my experiences mountaineering on some of the highest peaks in North America, is commonly used in wilderness rescue situations such as rescuing a climber trapped in a crevasse. The “Zs” practical applications, however, stretch well beyond the mountains. In the back country, the “Z” is useful for hauling out mired ATVs, pulling a moose out of the woods and even for recovering a boat pinned in whitewater.

A simple arrangement of ropes, carabineers and pulleys, the “Z” provides a three to one (1 pound of force to move 3 pounds of weight) mechanical advantage, allowing heavy objects to be moved with limited manpower. Similar in function to a block and tackle system, the “Z” employs the use of (1) a length of high tensile rope approximately 100 feet long, (2) two pulleys, (3) two shorter lengths of rope of smaller diameter than the main line for tying the two prusik knots and (4) a length of high tensile rope for attaching the “Z” to the anchor.

To set-up the Z-pulley system:
1. Establish an immovable anchor capable of supporting the full weight of the intended load.
2. Thread rope through pulley #1 and pulley #2 and tie rope to ATV.
3. Using a smaller diameter piece of rope, tie prusik knot #1 a few feet in front of the ATV on the main rope. Attach the smaller diameter rope to pulley #1 using a carabineer or simply tie it into the eye of pulley #1.
4. Using a smaller diameter piece of rope, tie prusik knot #2 a few feet in front of pulley #2 on the main rope. Attach the smaller diameter rope to pulley #2 using a carabineer or simply tie it into the eye of pulley #2.
5. Attach pulley #2 to the anchor point using the smaller diameter rope and carabineer or simply tie it off to the anchor point.
6. The operator then pulls on the free end and adjusts the placement of prusik knot #1 as needed. When operating the “Z” system, constant attention should be paid to the anchor, movements of the ATV, and the condition of the main rope.

To help mitigate these dangers, people should be well clear of the ATV, anchor and lines unless they are operating the “Z”. It is also advisable to attach a jacket or life vest to the end of the main line close to the ATV to decrease the chance of the line breaking free and creating a serious flying hazard. Should the main rope slip out of the operator’s hands or the operator need a break from hauling, prusik knot #2 is in place to arrest and hold the position of the main rope, keeping the ATV from recklessly falling back into its beginning towing position. This mechanical safety, however, should be cautiously trusted.

While the “Z” hauling system can be set-up to function using carabineers instead of pulleys, the mechanical advantage is much less due to the added friction caused by the rope running through carabineers. The added money for a couple pulleys is well worth the investment. When buying pulleys for your “Z”, it pays to buy a special climbing pulley like the Petzl Oscillante. Climbing pulleys are able to be easily clipped on and off the main rope, while standard pulleys require a user to thread the main line through them to place them in the correct position. Costing under $20, climbing pulleys are a thrifty investment that greatly simplify setting up and dismantling the “Z” system.

Practice makes perfect, so before venturing into the backcountry and suddenly needing to set-up the “Z” (likely in the dark and during a thunder and lightening storm), I caution individuals to first setup and operate the “Z” first in their backyard as this tends to decrease frustration and increase safety.
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