Friday, July 25, 2014

Get into the Swing of Summer with Byer of Maine

 Byer of Maine certainly is doing their part in making sure summer is an adventure in relaxation, comfort and enjoyment and to prove this point, one need only take a look at the dizzying array of hammocks and hanging chairs available on their website!

My personal pick is the Amazonas (Paradiso) Hammock. Made in Brazil from 85% recycled cotton/15% polyester, this hammock stretches and conforms to your bodies unique curves for offer exquisite comfort. At over 8 feet long and 5 and a half feet wide, the Paradiso has room for the whole family, and maybe the dog as well!

The rich, warm, hand-crafted colors will provide you and your family with endless days of fun, and relaxation! While designed for outdoor use, we recommend indoor storage between uses.

Care should also be taken to ensure that hammock strings are not tangled or chafed. When hanging, hammocks should be hung from a flexible point…a rope, a chain or carabineer to avoid chafing at the hanging point. Be extremely careful to ensure hammocks and hanging chairs are hung from a point or points suitably strong for the anticipated use. Seek professional assistance if you have any doubts as to your ability to properly judge the strength of any hanging point.

Hammocks can be hosed-off for cleaning with clear, cold water. No detergent or other chemical cleaners should be used. No machine washing. Air dry thoroughly before storage.

Currently, several hammock models, including the Barbados and Ceara are currently 20% off! 

Make sure to follow Byer of Maine on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Camp Comfortably and Conveniently with Byer of Maine

For over 125 years, Byer of Maine has been a leader in camping, emergency preparedness and a long list of other outdoor products designed to make your time in the wilds comfortable and convenient. This passion for creating innovative products is highlighted in the new, award winning TriLite Line.

Washing dishes, the dreaded chore that most of us try to avoid at all costs becomes even more difficult when attempted in the wilds. When camping, one attempts to awkwardly crouch by the lake or streamside frantically scraping beanie weenies off plates and hoping that in the process they do not get their feet wet. Leave it up to the innovative folks at Byer of Maine to come up with a solution that makes washing dishes in the wilds a much easier endeavor and one that can actually be enjoyed.

The convertible TriLite seat/wash basin is a lightweight, highly portable piece of equipment that should be part of every camper’s kitchen. In seconds, one can remove the small seat from the webfoot stand and install the TriLite washbasin. Boasting 4 separate compartments, the washbasin has plenty of room to wash, rinse, and dry dishes, as well as a small pocket to hold biodegradable soap and a scrub brush. This set-up allows you to sit down comfortably and leisurely wash dishes, avoiding the typical discomforts associated with this chore.

The Tri-lite stool and wash station is currently 35% off so go and get yours today and prepare to spend the rest of the Maine summer camping season impressing friends and washing dishes in style!

Sleep Comfortably Under the Stars
Summer in Maine means camping and as I get older, comfort becomes more and more critical to my enjoyment of this outdoor activity. After years of struggling with half a dozen different models of inflatable rubber mattresses, I finally gave up patching holes and battling against the exhaustive effort of inflating and transporting these unreliable beds.

For the camper looking for a much improved sleep solution they need to look no further then the cot. Cots of today come in a wide variety of styles. Byer of Maine has an impressive line of folding cots sure to fit the needs of every type of camper and outdoor enthusiast. From lightweight and compact to full size, luxurious models, all cots are built rugged, with some models capable of supporting up to 375 pounds!

Byer even have created a handy cot comparison tool to assist shoppers in choosing the cot that best fits their specific needs and budgets! 

For me the choice of cot was as easy as ordering the lightweight and easily packable TriLite model. This ultra-light weight cot (a little over 7 lbs) is designed to be packed and brought anywhere, ensuring a great sleep wherever you need it. Perfect for hiking, car camping, motorcycle touring or even a day relaxing on the beach, the TriLite cot offers a full sleep surface of 74" long by 25" wide, that folds down to a mere 27" x 3" x 8" and fits into its rip-stop polyester travel bag that has a convenient travel strap so that the entire cot can be slung over your shoulder for easy transport.

Make sure to follow Byer of Maine on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Functional Elegance by Byer of Maine

The Byer Manufacturing Company has been creating what I like to call "The Goud Stuff” since 1880. This Maine based company has reinvented itself numerous times over the decades in order to keep pace with the American market place and a rapidly evolving global economy. Currently, Byer of Maine produces a wide assortment of products, most interesting perhaps its furniture and equipment specifically designed to make summah days wick’d comfortable and relaxing.

To me, a trip to the beach, hanging out on the deck, or an evening relaxing around a campfire would be incomplete without my posterior resting comfortably in the Pangean Glider. More than simply a "chair", this is an essential relaxation tool, the perfect blend of elegance, class, function and practicality these gliders are as pleasing to look at as they are comfortable to sit in. The glider literally wraps you in comfort, allowing you to lean back and rest your head and neck after a long day.

Upgrade a single glider purchase a double and reap the benefits of years of happy memories with your closest someone, watching sunsets, roasting marshmallow and dipping toes in the oceans soft sand.

The trend by most outdoor companies these days seems to be moving toward creating cheap outdoor furniture and equipment made of plastic and other inferior items that end up in the trash can after one season of hard use. Though typically inexpensive, consumers quickly realize that they truly get what they pay for and landfills are filled with these worthless pieces of garbage. With a small investment, buy the best, something that will be a joy to sit in for years to come.

Though it lacks a drink holder, it more than makes up for this deficit with the Pangean Folding Table. Purchased separately, this small functional table allows "chillaxers" a firm place to set a bottle and a couple glasses of wine, lunch or if needed, ones feet after a long and tiring day.

Remember that like all works of art, furniture made of fabric and wood must be properly cared for if it is to be enjoyed for years to come. Both the table and chair come from the factory with a basic protective stain but if one plans to keep the furniture outside for an extended length of time, the chair and table would benefit from a yearly application of a flat varnish containing UV protection. This application will seal the wood to protect it from splintering and keep the stain  from fading and losing its beauty. A fabric UV protectant like Ray Block that helps fabrics resist sun fading and dry rot can also be employed to protect the chair’s cloth seat. Embers can burn holes in the fabric, so when placing chairs close to a fire pit make sure to not leave unattended.

Make sure to follow Byer of Maine on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Pintrest!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wildlife Quiz - The North American Porcupine

The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), ranges from Alaska into sections of northern Mexico, where it favors woodland habitats with high densities of evergreens.

A wild porcupine can live 5 years, where it spends a majority of that time in the tops of evergreen trees in pursuit of its favorite foods. An herbivore, porcupines eat a wide variety of conifers as well as green plants, berries, seeds and nuts.

Also know simply as the porcupine, it exists as a member of the “rodent” order of animals. The porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America, losing by only a narrow margin to the beaver. Mature porcupines grow to a snout to tail length of 2 to 3 feet and weigh around 12 pounds, with some impressive specimens tipping the scale at a whopping 35-40 pounds.

Porcupines come in various shades of brown, gray, and even white. Porcupines are nocturnal and are usually found during the day lounging peacefully high up in the branches of a tree or caring for young deep underground in simple burrows.

Porcupines are perhaps most well known for their impressive coat of sharp quills that defend them from predators. Adult’s backs and tails are covered with almost 40,000 quills. When attacked, the porcupine defends itself by swinging its tail like a club and pounding quills into its hapless enemies. In the past it was believed that porcupines were capable of launching or throwing its quills, this is of course a fallacy. Each quill comes equipped with tiny barbs that slowly push the quill in even deeper, making removal necessary and extremely painful.

Despite its impressive defenses, porcupines still occasionally become meals for bobcats, coyotes and fishers who have learned to attach the porcupine’s unprotected nose and belly.

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is the range of the porcupine?
2. What is the average lifespan of a wild porcupine?
3. What is the average weight of an adult porcupine?
4. What impressive maximum weights have some adult porcupines reached?
5. How long do porcupines grow?
6. What do porcupines eat?
7. How many quills do adult porcupines have?
8. What predators eat porcupines?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. The range of the porcupine stretches from Alaska and into sections of Northern Mexico.
2. The average porcupine lives 5 years in the wild.
3. The average weight of an adult porcupine is 12 pounds.
4. Some adult porcupines have grown to reach 40 pounds.
5. Porcupines grow to a snout to tail length of 2 to 3 feet.
6. An herbivore, porcupines eat a wide variety of conifers as well as green plants, berries, seeds and nuts.
7. Adult porcupines have almost 40,000 quills.
8. Despite its impressive defenses porcupines are still fed upon by bobcats, coyotes and fishers who have learned to attach the porcupine’s unprotected nose and belly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Car Camping and Fishing

Car Camping at Cranberry Lake 
I recently read a report, generated by the national forest service, stating 85% of the camping that takes place in the United States occurs within one mile or less of a paved roadway. While there is a certainly sense of serenity, peace and tranquility that one experiences when they hike miles into the backcountry, the simple truth is that many of us simply do not have the time, physical strength or know how necessary to accomplish these off the grid excursions safely and enjoyably.

Car camping affords busy families and those with physical limitations, an effective means of escaping into nature with much smaller time commitments and fewer toils wrought upon the body. With car camping, a vehicle is parked in close proximity to a camping spot, thus greatly facilitating the unloading of gear and affording the ability to bring luxurious camping items (large tents, cots, air mattresses, coolers, etc.), fun games and lots of food. While all of these items surly do not ensure that everyone will have a good time, they certainly go a long way making sure everyone stays happy, comfortable and well fed.

An army marches on its stomach and so does a family. Camping success can often be dictated by the quality and quantity of the food, so be sure to bring plenty of favorites. With my family pizza is king and this meal can easily be cooked in a Dutch oven. A Boboli pizza crust, spaghetti sauce and each camper’s choice of topping are put together and placed inside a 12 inch Dutch oven. The lid is shut and 4-5 charcoal briquettes are placed under and on top of the Dutch oven. In approximately 15-20 minutes, out comes hot pizza! Desert often consists of brownies or cookies, cooked next to a roaring evening campfire in a Sproul Baker reflector oven (http://www.campfirecookware.com).

While car camping may be considered by some camping purists as a blasphemous way to enjoy nature, be assured it is not. Vehicles provide an effective means of transporting at home comforts into some very unique and interesting sections of Maine, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the real world.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer lists 3 campground types. Those facilities listed simply as “campgrounds”, are members of the Maine Campground Owners Association (MCOA) and typically have posh amenities such as RV sites, showers, flush toilets, camp stores and wireless internet. “Maintained forest campsites”, usually have pit toilets, tent sites only and firewood available for purchase. The last classification “primitive campsites”, have tent sites available on a first come first served basis, firewood usually has to be scavenged and cat holes must be dug to safely dispose of human waste. Of the 3 available campground configurations, my favorites are the maintained forest campsites, as they provide a nice balance of easy vehicle access and basic facilities, while still offering a serene wilderness experience.

Cranberry Lake Campground (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 35, E-2) sits just a few miles off Rt. 9 yet affords campers quiet isolation. (*A warning, that popular weekends like Memorial day, 4th of July and Labor day most campgrounds in the state can be quite boisterous, so if you wish for a quiet campground experience, avoid those weekends.) The campsite’s amenities do not include water for drinking or flush toilets and showers but it does have two outhouses, fire rings, picnic tables and well-maintained tent and RV sites. A small beach is available for swimming and a hand carry launch is accessible for those wanting to cruise the lake or go fishing. Cranberry lake campground has 11 tent/RV sites. Costs are $20 for the first night stay and $10 per night after that. A primetime Friday/Saturday night stay is $45. For reservations, please contact Lois Keenan (546-3828) or for additional information Arthur Keenan (664-3198). Lois and Arthur also maintain the Deer Lake (Map 34, E-5) and Lower Sabo Lake (Map 35, E-1) campgrounds.

Campers can ride the largest ATV trail system East of the Mississippi, fish local streams and ponds, boat, hike and moose watch. All three campgrounds are open Memorial Day and close when snow flies. A 20-minute drive from the campground is a small restaurant/general store located at the northern terminus of Rt. 193, perfect for restocking camping supplies or eating out should weather make cooking outside difficult.

Fishing the Cranberry Lakes
Cranberry Lake campground is situated on the eastern shore of Upper Cranberry Lake. Upper Cranberry flows into Lower Cranberry Lake which in-turn flows into the West Branch of the Machias River. Canoes and kayaks are perfect for exploring and fishing these lakes, as long as a watchful eye is kept on the horizon to watch for late afternoon thunderstorms. When fishing Cranberry lakes, Master Maine Guide Matt Whitegiver of Eagle Mountain Lodge suggests going somewhere else! The Cranberry Lakes are not know to be epic producers of trophy fish but they do provide entertainment for someone wanting to get out in the early morning or evening and wet a line. Upper Cranberry Lake contains mostly small pickerel, while Lower Cranberry is a decent white perch fishery. Matt suggests that anyone camping at the campground paddle north to the outlet and put into Lower Cranberry to fish for a few of the delectable white perch to put in the fry pan. Boat launches for both Upper and Lower Cranberry also exist about a ¼ mile from the Cranberry Lake campground for those with larger watercraft.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wildlife Quiz - Garter Snake

The common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) gets its name from their resemblance to the garters men once wore to hold up their socks. Of the nine species of snakes found in Maine, the garter snake happens to be the most abundant. Garter snakes populate a wide variety of habitats, including islands, mountains, gardens and even suburbia.

Their prolific nature stems from their ability to feed upon a highly wide array of creatures including; earthworms, slugs, frogs, mice, birds and fish. In addition, garter snakes possess the ability to birth live young, meaning they do not have to lay and incubate eggs that could potentially be eaten by predators. Garter snakes use rodent burrows, wood piles and rock walls as dens for shelter and protection from predators.

During winter, snakes hibernate to prevent death by freezing. These places of winter refuge or “hibernaculum” may be singular shelters or areas shared with several other snakes. In spring, garter snakes emerge from hibernation and shortly after begin looking for mates. Young hatch throughout a majority of the summer season and can fend for themselves almost immediately after hatching, reaching maturity in approximately three years.

Most garter snakes grow to two or three feet and maintain extremely variable appearances, ranging in color from bright yellow, green and blue to more muted earth toned animals with limited coloration. In captivity, garter snakes have lived as long as 18 years. Though incapable of inflicting a venomous bite, like all wild animals, snakes should be observed from a distance and allowed to live out their existence unmolested by humans. If disturbed, garter snakes will excrete a foul smelling anal secretion on their presumed attacker.

Questions:
1. Where did the garter snake get its name?
2. How many species of snakes are their in Maine?
3. Do garter snakes lay eggs or live birth their young?
4. Do snakes hibernate in the winter?
5. What is the name for a snake’s winter refuge?
6. How long can a garter snake grow?
7. How long after hatching does a garter snake reach maturity?
8. How long can a garter snake live?
9. Are garter snakes venomous?

Answers: 
1. The garter snake got its name for its resemblance to the garters men once wore to hold up their socks. 2. There are nine species of snakes found in Maine.
3. Garter snakes live birth their young.
4. Yes, snakes hibernate in the winter to prevent death by freezing.
5. A snake’s winter refuge is known as a hibernaculum.
6. Garter snakes can grow up to two to three feet in length.
7. A garter snake reaches maturity in approximately three years.
8. In captivity garter snakes have been know to live as long as 18 years.
9. No, garter snakes are not venomous but will secrete a foul smelling secretion on their attachers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hiking Lead Mountain, Exploring Beddington Lake and Camping at McClellan Park

Hiking Lead Mountain 
A few miles off Rt. 9, stands the relatively diminutive 1,479 ft. Lead Mountain (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 24, A-5). An enjoyable hike, Lead Mountain provides fantastic introductory hiking possibilities for young children and adults looking to get a little exercise. My family and I have made hiking Lead Mountain an annual tradition and ever summer a group consisting of young and old alike climb the mountain together.

This past summer, my brother, our 3 children, ranging in age from 4 to 6 years old, and my 63-year-old Dad climbed it. Only the 4 year old had to be carried a couple times on the ascent and descent . . . thankfully, we didn't have to carry Dad even once!

Those interested in exploring Lead Mountain, the directions are relatively simple. Driving from Bangor toward Calais you will pass the Airline snack bar on the left and Rt. 193 shortly after on the right. Drive approximately 1 mile and turn left onto the 3000 road at the Ranger Station. If you happen to cross the bridge over the Narraguagus River, turn around. Travel up the 3000 road about 150 yards, turn left and continue to follow this dirt road till it ends at a gate and small parking area. Upon exiting the parking area, walk around the gate with the large sign that reads “No Hunting” and continue following this dirt road until it splits. Take the path to the right, which leads all the way to the summit. This trail was heavily improved, in the last few years, and provides easy walking a majority of the way to the summit.

After about 1 hour of hiking at a steady pace, hikers will reach several small shacks and some old weather monitoring equipment. From this point forward, the path to the top quickly increases in difficulty, so plan another 30 minutes of slow hiking before reaching the summit. There is no mistaking the summit, marked by an enormous cell tower. Unfortunately, there are no sweeping views from this location and hikers will miss out if they do not walk along the left hand side of the gated area. Follow the somewhat hidden trail by squeezing thorough tightly growing spruce trees, entering an open area with a small metal tower. Climbing the tower, allows visibility over the surrounding trees and the impressive views below.

Directly behind the tower, hanging on the backside of one of the thick spruce trees is an ammo can size geocache (N 44° 51.839 W 068° 06.596). When we looked, the cache had only been checked a handful of times since it was originally created, so this is definitely a very cool cache to check off your list!

Beddington Lake
After exploring Lead Mountain, tired hikers can take a refreshing dip in nearby Beddington Lake (Map 25, B-1). This 404-acre body of water has a boat launch and sandy swimming area on its western shore accessible via Rt. 193 and a ¼ mile drive down a well-maintained dirt road. Intrepid anglers can fish from shore or explore the lake by boat for epic pickerel fishing opportunities. Pickerel up to 24 inches are not uncommon and provide plenty of action for young anglers or those wanting to hone their fly-fishing skills in a high yield environment. While pickerel will bite on almost anything, I prefer to use the classic red and white daredevil or blue fox vibrax. Yellow perch, small mouth and brook trout are also possibilities but less likely given the voracious appetites of the tremendous number of pickerel.

McClellan Park
Individuals looking for a base of operations from which to conduct the adventure mentioned above would be well served to check out McClellan Park. One of the best-kept secrets in all of Downeast, McClellan Park (Map 17, A-3) provides a peaceful, quiet atmosphere and boasts impressive views of the ocean and offshore islands. Bring along a bag of charcoal and cook hamburgers and hotdogs while the kids enjoy exploring the dozens of tide pools that form at low tide. If wishing to try and fish for your lunch, Mackerel and Pollock can be fished right from shore, using lures, raw clams or bloodworms (bait may be purchased at the intersection of Wyman and Factory road). Picnic tables, grills, showers and flush toilets ensure that a day spent in the park is comfortable. Those looking at a longer stay, twelve tent sites are available at the bargain price of $10 per night and limited space is available for small campers (no electrical hookup available). The town of Millbridge assists with the operation of the park and keeps it open Memorial Day through Columbus Day. For more information specifically about the park, call the town office at (207) 546-2422. Reservations may be made through Bob Walker (207) 546-7027.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Kick in the Pants!

It had been a long, cold and unforgiving Maine winter, like the kind they had in the days before global warming and Gore-Tex. This calamity of unusual weather, weighed heavily on my psyche and was further compounded by my inability to pursue my passion for ice fishing, due to a back injury suffered while shoveling snow. Funk dug deep into my soul and despite my best attempts to circumvent its vile intrusion, it dominated my mood for the last several month of winter. By spring’s arrival, I half expected my disposition to improve but despite my best efforts to creep off the couch, this active outdoorsman was having a difficult time finding the mental and physical strength to motivate.

What I desperately needed was a project, or perhaps more precisely what I REALLY needed was a good solid kick in the pants!!

Enter on the scene, my good friends at Duluth Trading Company. This organization certainly understands work wear but even more importantly, they truly understand workers. They know not only how to design clothing that is comfortable, functional and durable but also understand how quality work wear and equipment can make even the toughest, dirties jobs infinitely easier.

It’s a typical hot, damp and buggy spring day in Maine. I am dressed neck to ankle in clothing from Duluth Trading Company, including their infamous Armachillo Workshirt and Duluth Flex Firehose Work Pants. Despite the adverse conditions . . . most notably the constant hum of Maine’s state bird, the notorious blackfly, I am feeling light and happy for the first time in months. With the help of Duluth Trading Company, I have been provided with a MUCH needed kick in the pants. With a small project starter grant and a merchandise gift card, I am now out planting apple trees with the help of my family and friends . . . most notably my two young children.

Apple trees require much care and tenderness, in their first several years of growth, and this notion of caring for another living thing is an extremely valuable lesson to pass on to children. What a perfect Fathers Day present to not only be able to plant apple trees with my sons but also what a treasured gift to be able to teach them how to someday grow into caring, patient and nurturing fathers.

Special thanks to Duluth Trading Company and my friends and family, who all came together to lend a hand in creating amazing memories and a future orchard to feed generations of man and beasts!

To buy that special something for Father's Day be sure to check out: Gift Ideas for Dad courtesy of Duluth Trading Company!

Lastly, anyone who comments on this article goes into a drawing to win a $100 Duluth Trading Company Gift Card! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wildlife Quiz - The Wild Turkey

Spurs on Mature Tom Turkey
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) ranks as North America's largest upland game bird. An impressive fowl, adult males or “Toms” can weigh in excess of 25 pounds, while the smaller adult females or “hens” can weigh up to 12 pounds.

Both male and female turkeys posses attractive iridescent plumage but only the males have heads accentuated by red, white and blue colorations. This color pattern is critical for excited hunters to identify during Maine’s spring turkey season to ensure, as in accordance with the law, only male turkeys are harvested. Both toms and hens can grow beards or coarse hair-like feathers that protrude from the chest area. In females, this odd growth rarely exceeds an inch or two and often signifies a mature hen or capable breeder. Hunters are cautioned to use care not to misidentify and shoot these birds. On toms, beards can be quite impressive on mature birds, easily growing to a length of 12 or more inches.

When scouting areas for trophy level toms, hunters look for tracks exceeding 6 inches (length of a dollar bill) as this is usually a good indicator that a mature, trophy sized bird is frequenting the area. Wild turkey breeding season occurs during April and May. Dominant males “puff-up” their bodies, spread out their tail feather into a fan shape, then strut and gobble in an attempt to attract females. Smaller male “toms” and immature “jakes” who attempt to challenge the authority of these dominant males quickly find themselves embroiled in fierce battles for ultimate supremacy over these harems of females. Mature toms grow, on their lower legs, long sharp spurs that it effectively uses to fight off challengers. Once hens are successfully bred, hens construct nests in dense cover to protect eggs from predators.

Poults (newly hatched turkeys) usually hatch after about a month of incubating and tend to leave the nest the day they hatch. Polts grow rapidly on a diverse diet of insects, plants, berries and seeds and within 5-6 weeks become fully capable of fending for themselves. Wild Turkeys have keen eyesight, acute hearing and are agile fliers, making them a challenging and exciting big game animal to pursue. If you have not yet tried turkey hunting I strongly suggest giving it a try and learning more about this impressive avian.

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is North American’s largest upland game bird?
2. How much does a mature tom turkey weigh?
3. How much does a mature hen turkey weigh?
4. What are the three primary colors on the head of a tom turkey that easily distinguish it from a hen?
5. How can hunters determine the size of a tom turkey based solely on its’ foot print?
6. How long after hatching do turkey eggs hatch?
7. What do polts or newly hatched turkeys eat?
8. How long after hatching can polts fend for themselves?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. North American’s largest upland game bird is the Eastern Wild Turkey
2. A mature tom turkey can weigh in excess of 25 pounds.
3. A mature hen turkey typically weighs about 12 pounds.
4. The three primary colors on the head of a tom turkey that easily distinguish it from a hen are red, white and blue.
5. Hunters can determine the size of a tom turkey based solely on its’ foot print by measuring it with a dollar bill. Tracks equaling or exceeding the length belong to an impressive tom.
6. Turkey eggs hatch after approximately one month of incubation.
7. Polts or newly hatched turkeys eat insects, plants, berries and seeds.
8. Polts can fend for themselves after 5-6 weeks.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Turkeys, Coastal Access and Spring Cleaning

Spring Turkey Hunting
May means only one thing to this outdoorsman and that’s spring turkey hunting! It’s hard to believe that only a few short years ago turkeys didn’t even exist in Maine and that now we have a population that is flourishing with extreme vigor! For this hunter, nothing quite stirs my blood like the early morning gobbles of a tom turkey and the chance to harvest one of these magnificent fowl.

Turkey season this year runs from April 28th, 2014 through May 31st, 2014 with the Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day (resident and nonresident) occurring on April 26, 2014. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) have instituted a change to the 2014 turkey hunting laws, turkeys may now be hunted 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. For more specifics on turkey hunting laws, rules and regulations please see the IFW website at: www.maine.gov/ifw. These changes provide some fantastic new hunting opportunities for those who work 8 to 5:00 or find waking before sunrise an impossible task. With legal hunting times running till 8:07 PM on opening day till 8:43 PM on closing day, hunters have plenty of time to chase old Tom, long after getting out of work.

Hunters looking to find success during this time of day can be wildly successful in the late afternoon as hens return to nests and randy old Toms haphazardly look for love. Later in the day, hunters that can also locate popular roosting trees and setup ambush spots along often used travel corridors and wait for the birds to come to them . . . decoys and calling not even necessary!

Prime turkey hunting locations exist throughout Washington County, with a fun and exciting hunt starting in Northfield (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), 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.

Maine’s Coastal Public Access Guide
Even as a “resident” Mainer, having always lived here, I am still impressed daily by the hidden beauty that exists within our state boundaries. To help unlock these secret gems the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has published a comprehensive three-volume guide, outlining over 700 publicly accessible shoreline access sites along the coast of Maine from Kittery to Calais. The three volumes are organized by region, Southern (South Berwick to Freeport), Midcoast (Brunswick to Hampden), and Downeast (Bangor to Calais) with each guide including descriptions, directions, parking, facilities, GPS coordinates, and more for boat launches, beaches, nature preserves, parks, hiking trails, and other scenic areas. Local and regional maps further simplify planning, greatly facilitating finding a new fishing spot, hidden beach, or seaside hike!

My favorite newly found paradise is Crowley Island (Map 26, E-1). This 300+ acre oasis is open to deer and upland bird hunting, clamming and hiking opportunities! As well as motor vehicle parking, nearby West River landing offers boaters easy water access to Crowley Island.

Coastal Public Access Guides can be ordered by printing and filling out the online form (http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/coastal-access-guide.htm) including a check for $8.00 plus tax per guide and mailing to the Maine Coastal Program, 93 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. Additional questions and comments may be directed to Kathleen Leyden 287-3144.

Spring Cleaning and Organizing
May marks the final and absolute end of winter and warm days super charge my annual dance of putting away augers in exchange for outboard motors, ice traps for fishing poles and winter clothes for bug nets. It is a task I typically attempt to avoid with a vengeance but in the end, it always crashes down upon me with an unrelenting fury. During this exchange, it pays to have a plan in place to better facilitate your struggles. Years ago, I purchased large clear plastic totes to hold all my gear during the off seasons. This simple storage method saves tons of time and effort when attempting to locate critical items during the changing of the seasons. Grabbing the tote labeled, “Turkey Hunting” and I instantly have access to my turkey-hunting vest, calls, shotgun shells, Thermacell, camouflage clothes, tick spray, etc. Some of the totes even have separate compartments or clear plastic Ziploc bags that further help separate critical or smaller items. The trick obviously with employing clear plastic totes to organize is so that items can quickly be visually identified; facilitating the speed at which you can locate needed items!
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