Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gun Woes . . .

Nothing says MERRY CHRISTMAS to a true sportsman like a new firearm for the holidays. I was fortunate enough this season to receive a present from my Dad and Brother in that oh so familiar rectangular "gun shaped" package. Tearing through the wrapping paper like a rabid coyote and throwing aside the red bow I forcefully ripped back the top of the cardboard container! Inside was revealed that greatest of blue steeled beauties, a firearm built with care and precision, with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time (err sorry wait a minute wrong Christmas Story) I breathed in heavily and my nasal cavities were immediately filled with the luscious aroma of that delicious new gun smell.

I removed the plastic wrapping, opened the chamber release button (hmm that's funny no clicking sound) and lifted the agile and quick gun to my shoulder . . . it was love at first site. Now with my mind racing, I hoped against hope that the absence of the "click" in my new little single shot was not a defect but instead a new advancement in New England Firearms stealth technologies. Unfortunately I was wrong.

I placed an expended shell in the chamber and it is still stuck there . . . the gun now won't even close.

Well, considering this is a NEW firearm and purchased at the world famous Cabela's I have nothing to fear right? WRONG! Cabela's no longer accepts returns of any firearm. Instead they will mail it back to the company for you! For me this means two (one delivery and one pickup) 2 hour trips to the southern part of the state . . . and a level of customer frustration that will never again have me purchasing a firearm at Cabela's. BTW, I called L.L. Bean and they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on new AND used firearms!

Heading down to Cabela's on Wednesday next week and BEG them to refund my money or provide me immediately with a replacement. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hawk and Mallards

I wanted to share this very cool shot taken by my brother with his new Cannon Rebel Digital Camera. Lacking a telephoto lens he was lucky enough to get to within 10 feet of the hawk and snap a few shots. Apparently all the duck hunters in Maine were enjoying the last day of the season!

Take Care Everyone & Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

North Woods Beauty

Wanted to send out a quick congratulations to my friend Paul who managed to take this beauty during the last couple days of the Maine rifle season. Paul had been hunting from a tree stand overlooking a small field in which he had placed several doe deer decoys. He had seen numerous does move in and out of the field all afternoon when suddenly with the fading light of the day his buck decided to stroll out and say hello. Nice deer buddy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Don't Shoot I am a Man!

I had to post this humorous picture of a hunting vest I saw during deer season. The scary part the fellow wearing it said was . . . "when I walk out into a field how many hunters use their scope to look and see what is written on my back?" Makes you wonder doesn't it!

If anyone has seen these vests or knows where I can purchase one please drop a comment! I think they would make great Christmas presents for a couple of my in-laws I have been trying to get rid of for years! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Addition to the Family (On the Range)

As old Jack Frost released his icy grip on the northeastern United States, I along with 220,000 other Mainers managed to get electrical power back to our homes. The winter storm left a quarter of Maine’s population scurrying to hotels and buying generators as the hours stretched into days without power or heat. My wife and I and our two toddlers were minutes away from heading across town to the Best Western when suddenly the power clicked back on and we were rescued from our stone age living arrangements.

After several hectic days I finally managed to find a few moments to make it back to the range and finalize sighting in my .243 Winchester H&R Handi-Rifle. There is something almost meditative about shooting and nothing better at getting your mind off your troubles than a couple of hours at the gun range. Over the power struggle, I had build a 4 x 5 shooting platform and tacked to it 4 bulls eyes and then waited silently in the dark until my chance to escape!

My previous visit to the range had me to shooting relatively close groups at 25 yards with my "thrifty" Tasco Pronghorn 3x9x40 but I had to leave before I felt things were “fine tuned”. In my test at 50 yards I made 9 shots and three adjustments to the scope reticule to compensate for shots that seemed consistently low and to the right. In my final testing at 100 yards I made 6 shots and one adjustment to the scope reticule to compensate for shots that continued to seem consistently low and to the right. On my final target I shot 1 shot 2 inches high, 1 shot two inches low and one shot dead in the bulls eye. (My final shot group at 100 is pictured to the left.)

The ballistic charts I examined online indicated that the ultra flat shooting .243 Win. when zeroed at 150 yards was capable of only being 0.5 inches high at 100 and 2 inches low at 200 yards . . . very cool! My next session to the range I am going to start increasing my yardage until I am hitting consistently at 200.

Sub MOA this gun is not however I could easily see how with some additional long range practice session how I could in excellent conditions be able to hit a coyote size animal out to a distance of around 200 yards.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guest Blogger

Just a quick note to tell everyone that I am currently being featured as a guest blogger on:

1. The Black Bear Blog
2. Maine Hunting Today
3. Maine Outdoors Today

Featured is a story I wrote awhile back on chasing the Snowshoe Hare. Expect to see additional stories posted (for as long as they will have me) at the beginning of each month!

Also featured is a bio that had me write to introduce myself.

Stop by and say hi!

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Addition to the Family (The Purchase)

This blog article will be comprised of a three part series: first “The Purchase”, secondly “On The Range” and finally “Field Test”.

I have to admit that as I walked into the gun shop, I was not anticipating leaving with a new firearm but some deals are to good to pass up. I had been for two seasons looking for a small rifle in .222 or .223 that I could use for varmint hunting. My primary quarry would be coyotes so I was in the market for a long range light caliber. Researching more, I stumbled upon an article in The Maine Sportsman that described a relatively new rifle that was being marketed by Harrington and Richardson Rifles (formally New England Firearms). The small and lightweight single shot rifles were available in a huge selection of calibers and priced under $300. I figured that if I waited a little bit someone was bound to purchase one of these “new” rifles and later decide that they wanted to upgrade to something different so I waited and kept checking the used gun shops.

In the meantime, I continued to examine the available calibers and finally came to the conclusion that if I went with the larger .243 Winchester cartridge I could use it for shooting coyotes out to 200 yards and it would additionally make an excellent introductory deer rifle for my sons someday. For those of you unfamiliar with the 100 grain .243 (Ct.) cartridge note the picture to the left that compares the round against the wildly popular 170 grain .30-30 (Lt.) and 220 grain .30-06 (Rt.) Springfield rounds.

As I walked down the row of used firearms, my heart began to race as I noted a Handi-Rifle with black synthetic stock and fore-end in .243 caliber. Examining the rifle, it appeared to be in excellent shape and as I mounted it to my shoulder was pleased by its light weight and maneuverability. With a little bit of negotiation, I took it home for $175.

The only issue I have personally with the rifle is the sighting system. For my length of pull and the stock size I had difficulties lining the sight up properly. This issue was immediately solved, however, when once home I installed the correct Weaver base, Simmons scope rings and old Tasco “Pronghorn” 3x9x40. With the scope installed it mounted quick to my eye and (for the price of the optics $25) provides great visibility.

After downloading the owners manual off the website (www.hr1871.com) I noted that the rifle comes equipped with a very interesting safety system. The “Transfer Bar” type safety mechanism allows for the hammer to be in the un-cocked position and the trigger fully forward and still there is no contact between the hammer and the firing pin. This allows for added safety should the gun be bumped or dropped.

Ammo choices were next on my list and to date I have been able to find 80 and 100 grain loads. I purchased a box of each for $16.00 ea. With everything in order, I headed of to the range.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Easy Pickings

Hunters if you aren't yet out in the woods chasing after the bunnies go out NOW! White bunnies on the still very dark background of the Maine woods make the little guys stick out like sore thumbs. Took the dog for a walk after work last week and sitting about 10 yards off the trail I noticed the "varying hare" in the above picture sitting motionless under a small spruce tree. A load of #8s from my 12 gauge and he was Hasenfeffer. If anyone is interested in hunting bunnies this season don't feel as though you need to have a dog. I shoot several every season by just finding good cover (spruce thickets) and walking through very slowly. A ton more on hunting bunnies without a dog here. Get out there this weekend and good luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Frigid Fowling

Arriving at the landing, on a late season outing, I discovered ice had shutdown my primary hunting spot. In the ensuing pre-dawn panic attack, time began slipping away at an alarming rate. As legal shooting approached, flocks of migrating ducks cruised the horizon and I cursed my mistake at not having started out earlier. Quickly driving to another landing I was pleased to find partially open water on one of the larger lakes. Though certainly not as favorable as my more remote hunting haunt, I had decided that the situation could have been much worse.

Paddling across the lake surface a thin layer of ice creaked and crunched as the kayak slid through the water. The sanity of my actions came into question as I pondered just how effective a life jacket would be in water temperatures hovering just above freezing. I believe that life expectancy can’t be much more than 10-15 minutes so at that point a life jacket only serves as a body recovery device. I determine that I needed to make sure each paddle stroke was made with care.

Frantically searching, I finally managed to find a spot on the end of a small island that looked promising. Though I had to remove a large “For Sale” sign that was blocking the swing of my shotgun on my right hand side I still felt confident in my set-up. This positive outlook in the face of the impossible seems a trait of most hunters. Where it is better to try and fail then not to try at all.

I could feel the tension in my neck building, as I was now surrounded my half million dollar lake front homes. Despite this fact, I refused to believe that game wardens would find me all that interesting. As the morning wore on, however, I began playing various scenarios through my head inducing a level of paranoia that had the National Guard storming the island and taking me in as an international terrorist. Suffice to say the authorities never arrived.

Flights of 45-50 geese could be seen in the distance moving slowly south. I hold the goose call to my mouth and blow a couple honks knowing full well that my chances of having a flock turn and investigate are about a million to one. Still there is always that remote chance.

As my sixth shot echoed down the frigid lake, I began to ponder the mathematical complexities that had magically caused me to continue to shoot worse as the waterfowl season progressed. Shouldn’t the laws of statistics dictate that a hunter’s expenditure of rounds be directly proportional to an increase in hit percentage? Unfortunately, my multiple sessions a field throughout the last two months had somehow worked against me and I was firing worse now than on the season opener. Didn’t the old adage say something about practice making one perfect?

Pulling the mangled hen mallard from the icy waters, I noted a full shot of #2s had penetrated the duck directly in the right breast. The resulting bloody mess was reminiscent of what would occur by combining red meat, gun powder and an open flame. Paddling my predator kayak back to the island, I vowed that my next shot would be more “accurate”. To help me in this endeavor, I began to run the waterfowler mantra over and over through my head . . . “shoot where it eats not where it sheats”.

Another duck did not come to me this day and numb fingers and frozen toes finally indicated that it was time to return home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Heatah Huntin

So what are two grown men and two hyper labs to do when their duck boat is down for extensive repairs . . . well, heatah huntin of course. For those uneducated in exactly what heatah huntin entails I thought it would be helpful to organize a post to provide a little background. I am fairly certain that most of you southern gents may be familiar with this method of hunting but are more liable to call it AC hunting. In its most basic form a hunter uses a 4x4 vehicle to navigate far into the backcountry (pounding the snot out of his truck's shock absorption system in the process) in the hopes of having a suicidal ruffed grouse or rabbit sit in the road long enough for the trucks driver to shoot it. A perfectly expedited dispatch is usually followed by the release of the dog who retrieves and then returns it to the truck without the driver having to move more than a couple feet. Though sounding utterly simple in the execution, it never fails that 9.9 times out of 10 the grouse or rabbit wins.

On this particular outing the temperatures were in the lower teens and the winds blowing at a sustained 10-15 mph with sizable gusts reaching 25 mph. As the trees were tossed back in forth in the frosty gale I knew that our chances of seeing a bird would be minimal, bordering on impossible and within spitting distance of I hardly think so. Not to be easily discouraged however of we went into the wilds. After many hours of driving we were wondering if we would see anything, until we rounded a bend and out of the corner of my eye a fast shape darted through a low tangle of spruce trees. I instructed my brother to drive up the road a little further and I jumped out of the truck and quickly loaded three shells. Trudging through the tangle of raspberry bushes and burdocks, I made it to where I had seen the quickly moving form and noted a pair of rabbit tracks escaping into the deep woods. As the wind howled around my baseball hat and the blood drained out of my hands I decided that mister rabbit was in no danger this day and I hiked back to the warmth of the pick-up.

As the day wore on and the guns failed to go BOOM we became more and more in need of a good adrenaline fix. Minutes before the mandated quitting time, imagine my incredible surprise and good fortune when cruising down one stretch of road this former rock jock and mountaineer came upon a wood yard filled with over half a million dollars worth of climbing toys! Note in the picture it says DANGER, KEEP BACK 300 FEET . . . yes I am crazy. Ok, I am aware that if any loggers or woodsmen are reading this I know I am going to catch some heat . . . but you have to admit its at least a little bit funny!?!?

Well the day finished with us not shooting any small game animals BUT we did see a nice spike horn that IF we had been carrying a rifle could have been shot and tagged by my brother . . . oh well the bird hunters always see the deer and the deer hunters always see the birds. Perhaps that deer hunter we saw 2 minutes down the road and told of the sighting ended up shooting that nice spike . . . if he ever was able to get his swearing under control . . . man did that guy look cold as he stalked deer through the snow drifts on that abandoned road . . . maybe he should try heatah huntin?!?!?

Monday, November 24, 2008


As my brother hit the throttle on the 40 HP 4 stroke Honda I could tell immediately that something was wrong. The boat began having a series of shimmies, shakes and convulsions reminiscent of an epileptic attack. Moments before in a slight mistake of judgment we had gently “tapped” a granite ledge hiding ominously a few feet under the water. As we pursued a crippled eider deeper and deeper into the bay, I contemplated the possibility of a Coast Guard rescue. Returning to the mooring buoy, we inspected the motor and found that several of the propeller blades were mangled and the entire fin on the lower unit has been sacrificed to Davy Jones’s locker. We managed to finish the morning hunt shooting a total of five eiders and then limp slowly back to the landing under half power.

A side trip on the way home to the local Honda dealership indicated that our wrestling match with King Neptune had not only caused the apparent visual damage to the prop and lower unit but had also stripped the internal bearings and partially bent the shaft; total estimated costs $1,000.00 green backs. Never one to be discouraged, my brother simply made a few calls to his insurance company and due to his forethought in setting a very low deductible he came out of the whole mess barely financially scathed.

In our “after the incident” conversations we lamented in the fact that we were as lucky as we were. A hole could have been torn in the boat, impact could have knocked someone overboard, the engine could have been inoperable or a dozen other issues could have occurred. Sometimes you have to be thankful for not having to enter into “what could have happened” and grateful for “what did happen”!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Duck Camp 2008 - Day 1

Sitting close to the point of exhaustion, I slowly sip on a MGD and contemplate the first day of 2008 Duck Camp.

Like many days it began innocently enough when I awoke at 3:30 AM to a drab starless morning. Digging myself out from under the thick covers and stumbling over to the coffee pot, I give my brother a lackadaisical high five for his forethought in having the coffee already brewing. As is standard family operating procedure, the rapidly filling pot contains a near lethal dose of his potent blend of liquid heart paddles. As I choke back the thick black mud I force my mind into gear and begin struggling through the routine of extensive before hunt preparations.

The ritual of duck hunting has many strange and bizarre initiations but none more interesting than a dog tired waterfowler attempting to make his way into the field without forgetting some crucial element. Over the years, I can tell you multiple stories of men (myself certainly no exception) crying like little school girls because they forgot firearms, shells, wet weather gear, Redman chaw or other crucial items. Years of waterfowl hunting eventually hones these rookies into hard core “duckers”, men who through skill, luck or possibly a combination of both know how to operate with very little sleep and understand the complexities of packing crucial items the night before.

This time things work out in my favor and two hours into the hunt I near a limit of common eiders and hold in my hand one of only two duck bands I have ever managed to harvest. In a strange twist of fate, the only other band I have taken was harvested during 2007 Duck Camp!

Hours into duck camp 2008 and it is already turning out to be complete success. A smile stretches across my face as we land the boat and begin the drive back to my brothers house for a supper of fresh caught lobsters and deer tenderloins.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Duck Camp 2008 - Day 2

Todays Duck Camp update unexpectedly isn't about ducks! Instead I had to write a few brief words about my amazing family pet and part time retriever Onyx. Today marked her very first retrieval of a Ruffed Grouse. After our morning hunts Onyx and I had been trying to get some additional exercise by walking the logging roads in pursuit of this fine game bird. Despite Onyx's best efforts to flush birds (including Grouse and Woodcock) I just wasn't able to be quick enough or accurate enough to take a good wing shot. As luck would have it on the drive home (what we around here call "heatah huntin") a grouse ran across the road and stood there about 10 yards into the woods looking at us. Well never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I jumped out of the truck and gave him a lethal dose of #8s from my Franchi 612. Onyx was then released and via her nose searched, found and returned the bird. Man, talk about your proud Papa! Congrats Onyx you the Dog!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Duck Camp 2008 - Day 3

Please note that I am printing these updates to Duck Camp 2008 in reverse order. Over the next week (Nov. 19th - Day 2 and Nov. 21th - Day 1) I will finish the write-ups on the final two days of this exciting/excruciating three days of hunting. Picture above is the view out of the front window at duck camp.

Gigantic rumbles of thunder sounded in the distance signaling that duck camp 2008 was not to pass quietly into history. The approaching torrential rains sounded like the rumble of a taxiing C130 and hit our small cabin with such force that small rivulets of rain began crawling through the shingles and creating murky puddles. Bolts of lightning soon arrived and began dancing around Duckman’s 20 foot Lund. Bobbing on the angry Atlantic Ocean the craft was swung violently back and forth on a lobster boat mooring. As the boat’s whining automatic bilge pump struggled against the rising storm Duckman frantically paced in front of the cabins small windows peering with wild eyes out into the building hurricane.

Pondering our situation, we wondered if we might be spending another night resting peacefully in the small cabin nestled comfortably on a small island off the Maine coast. I silently hoped that duck camp would be extended and extra day.

Unfortunately, like many late season storms this one departed as quickly as it had arrived and within a few hours the sun was attempting to peak out from behind the threatening skies. With our bellies crammed full of eggs, bacon and several pounds of moose breakfast sausage we began the complex task of packing up camp while Duckman launched the row boat and oared out to check on possible damage. I am happy to report that Duckman’s new boat is a champion and it shrugged off the gnarly unforeseen storm easier than Duckman’s wife fighting off his advances on date night.

As we motored back to the boat landing Duckman navigated our course through lobster buoys, rock weed and hidden ledges with expert precision. Decades of navigation through these waters having left their mark on him as a master seaman. As the motor droned on in the distant reaches of my mind, I silently reflected on the previous 2 days of duck camp 2008.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2008 Deer Season Update . . . II

Apparently the MONSTER whitetails are falling from the sky in the north eastern part of the state. A few days ago, I noted that I had an incoming phone call from my Mom. Knowing the timing, I was fairly certain that I knew what the phone call would be concerning. In the ensuing conversation I gathered that a 7 pointer had been harvested by her husband during the evening hunt. It was a classic tale of deer sticks head out into field. Coast looks clear. Deer heads across field and hunter is waiting. Deer was hit with 7mm-08 and ran about 100 yards before collapsing. She was currently driving up to meet him and like a good "Maine" woman planning on helping him haul the deer out.

Well folks, I have to tell you that was the last story I expected to hear from Ma this deer season so when my phone rang yesterday during that magical evening hour I was more than a little bit confused. In the frantic conversation that spewed forth from the receiver Ma relayed that she had shot her first deer! I attempted to gather information from her but all I was able to get was big deer, lots of points, big deer, shot in ass, big deer, ran about a 100 yards, big deer, getting help.

As I hung up the receiver I was thrilled at the prospect that Ma had finally managed to shot her first deer and I laughed silently to myself at what an amateur, first timer hunter would think of as a "big" deer. Over the next few hours more phone calls were received from family and the legend began to grow. I began to realize that perhaps Ma had shot a deer that had "monster" potential. Several hours later as I was reviewing my e-mail I noted several photos that showcased Ma first deer and I immediately began to seethe in jealously. Most Maine hunters spent a lifetime chasing a trophy MONSTER whitetail such as the one Ma shot for her first deer! As the dust settled I was provided with these final statistics: the deer weighed in at 199 Lbs, had 10 points and is currently on its was to the taxidermist!

In all seriousness . . . congrats Ma you make your sons proud . . . you da woman!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2008 Deer Season Update . . .

Before getting to deep in this post, I have to explain something to you and it is the fact that I consider any deer a trophy. Deer hunting in Maine is difficult to say the least and many hunters will undoubtedly go an entire season or more without even seeing a deer much less getting a chance at a shot opportunity. This combined with the fact that we are coming off one of the worst winter snow falls on recent record and any hunter filling his tag this season is an anomaly.

It was a fast deer season for me this year with completion coming on the third day of the season but it is still one that I certainly will cherish years from now. This momentous season was marked by the harvesting of deer number 10 over a course of 8 consecutive years. So far this sportsman has managed to through luck and skill (mostly luck) to keep the freezer fully stocked with venison for close to a decade.

The Story - with the light dying I could hear a deer making its way slowly up the edge of the swamp. With the southerly wind, I could fell my chances diminishing as I was in precisely the wrong position. I thought about the night before and the through washing I had given my hunting clothes in no scent soap and how I had made sure to pack them in a garbage bag filled with pine boughs. It must have given me a slight advantage because the doe crossed my shooting lane at about 100 yards. I braced my shooting arm against the tree where my climbing stand was situated and let out a fawn bleat to stop the walking doe. The deer didn't stop so I let out another MUCH louder bleat . . . still the doe didn't stop. Finally as the deer reached the outer edge of the shooting lane I took a walking shot with my 30-06 Browning BAR loaded with a deadly load of 180 grain Remingtons and the deer dropped instantly.

I always say that after the shot the hardest work remains and in this case that is so truthful it hurt. I was hunting a remote part of the property and I knew from previous years that I had at lest an hour and a half drag ahead of me. I settled into the work I had created for myself and managed to contact a neighbor with an ATV to bail me out for the final ½ hour of the drag. I arrived at the house exhausted and starving and hit a new low by eating fried chicken in the whirlpool tub . . . thus taking care of two issues at once (an aching back and rumbling tummy!).

I had planned to let the deer hang a few days but noted early the next morning that flies were buzzing and the November sun especially bright. I took the deer in to tag and at the same time ran it over to the butchers. Thus far the property has managed to produce my 125 lb. doe and the included photographed 8 point buck (missing it's left side horns) shot by my neighbor. (His story is another post all to itself!) With most of the season ahead of us I am curious to see if my old man can manage at least one more whitetail . . . time will tell.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Paintball blues . . .

I have to admit that as I sit here at work today I am suffering. My head feels swollen and every muscle in my body is aching. IN addition I have marble size welts erratically covering me from head to toe. No, I haven't contracted some horrible disease and no I don't have lyme carrying ticks nibbling on my epidermis what I have friends is a BAD case of the after effects of a full day of PAINTBALL.

The day certainly started innocently enough with a call from a neighbor who was inquiring if I in fact had ever played paintball. Well it had been YEARS but since I had all the gear I thought I would give it a try. He said to meet him at his house around 9:30 and there would be a "few" friends of his that would be joining us. Well upon arriving I found his door yard PACKED with vehicles and 20 or more fanatics gathering in his garage.

Now folks, I like to shoot a person with a paintball just as much as the next person but let me tell you these boys were VERY serious. Each person had ALL of the gear and the latest in equipment. I felt severely as a disadvantage with my stock 98 Tippman. Well, I went through the introductions and organized my limited gear and was soon put on a team with 10 other guys . . . we were the "white" team and arm bands made of duct tape identified us as such.

We were chosen first to hide and the other were chosen to search us out. We were playing on a "woods" course and it was rough to say the least. Fallen down logs, branches, boulders, etc. I was glad to have a face mask because it saved me from being blinded several times.

The first game went something like this. I laid down in a ditch waited about 5 minutes and a guy shot me in the back . . . done. I walked back to the garage where I sipped off a keg until the rest of my team was eliminated.

Second game it was my teams turn to search and hopefully destroy . . . I shot a guy and then his buddy shot me. I narrowly missed being hit in a delicate area by a paintball traveling at something around 200 feet per second. There is currently a welt on my inner thigh the size of a golf ball. Both of us walked back to the house and I was fed a shot of some liquor that burned my throat.

Third game I pulled out the secret weapon . . . my ghillie suit that I had been hiding this whole time under my jacket. As I laid in the leaves, I piled others up on top of the suit and all but disappeared from view behind a small rock. I sat there motionless until two guys walked in front of me then I shot them both before they even realized I was there. As another ran in for support he must have thought I was behind a tree because he started frantically shooting in that direction . . . I waited until he walked right up to about 10 yards and I shot him as well. Man, was it possible I was finally getting the hang of this? I could hear a team member calling for assistance and I got up and shot one more guy who was circling my teammate . . . unbeknownst to me that ended the game! I had personally shot almost 1/2 the opposing team!

Fourth game . . . no joke I shot one of my own guys and then walked into an ambush of three guys. They (apparently unhappy I had eliminated them in the earlier game) proceeded to shoot at me until I lay on the ground curled up in a ball crying like a little girl.

Well at this point, I wish I had ended a game early and had left with some level of self respect and a great memory from game three BUT all in all it was a great time! I got invited back and in two weeks I will be playing again. Guess in the meantime I need to figure out the finer points of guerilla tactics or download a marine corps manual! Well until next time Semper Phi?!?!?!! LOL!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Third Article PUBLISHED!

The Maine Sportsman - New England's Largest Outdoor Publication – Will be publishing my story written below in their November 2008 edition. The article will be part of the magazines “special sections” (pg. 33-34) and will highlight how attention to details can lead to success in deer hunting. For more information on the Maine Sportsman Magazine or to order a subscription click this link: http://mainesportsman.com/. The copy below is the originally submitted unedited version. Enjoy!

How to Sit in the Woods (Edited Title: Successful Stand Hunters Attend to Details)
by Steve Vose

As a young man out deer hunting my very first season, a big buck walked right up behind me and snorted at about 10 yards away. In the time it took me to turn around and shoulder my rifle that deer had relocated to the next county. That buck would be hanging on my wall right now if I had simply spent a few extra minutes looking over my surroundings and picking a better spot before committing to sitting down. How many of you have also missed a shot opportunity at a whitetail simply because you were in the wrong place or position? While years from now stories of the one that got away may be humorous to share around the campfire, it is entirely less enjoyable seeing a massive rack and bounding white tail disappear into the woods while you stand by helplessly.

Fortunately, missed shot opportunities need not be commonplace and by talking a few simple precautions hunters can maximize their chances at putting their sights on a deer this season.

Choosing Your Area
Any real estate agent will tell you it’s all about location and with hunting it isn’t any different. During your extensive spring and fall scouting you already know where the deer are regularly bedding and feeding so the next step is positioning in an area where you are provided the best possible chance at getting a quality shot. Set-up close to trails connecting feeding and bedding areas but don’t make the rookie mistake of setting up on the actual game trail. Hunters should instead set back from these areas at a distance that allows the hunter to remain well concealed while also offering good shot opportunities.

Hunters should make sure to sit so that the sun is always at their back for better visibility. This is accomplished by facing west in the morning and east in the evening. Orientating yourself in this manner, will not only help to insure that you aren’t silhouetted to possible game but it will also reduce eye fatigue on bright days.

Sitting Properly
No matter how much you think that whitetail is going to appear directly in your gun sights, that is frequently not the case. Increase your chances, by sitting in a way that will allow you the best opportunity. This is accomplished, by remembering that right hand shooters can rotate far to the left but are limited in their rotation to the right side (the opposite is true for lefties). Increase your mobility by making sure that your strong shooting side is facing the area where your query is most likely to appear. If done properly, a deer approaching from roughly anywhere on your strong side should allow for an ethical shot option.

When spotting for deer don’t focus your full attention in one specific area but instead scan through your complete range of vision. Several millions of years of evolution as both prey and predator have provided mankind with the ability to quickly distinguish movement in our peripheral range. Use this trait to your advantage, by employing your strong side vision to scan areas on your right and left without a large amount of head movement. No matter what particular hunting style you employ, it is certain that the less movement you create the more likely the chance that game will not notice your presence.

Before you sit down, clear away leaves, sticks, rocks and any other material around your feet that may make noise should it be necessary for you to switch position.

If you plan on sitting for an extended period of time, you will find that a comfortable portable chair is worth the extra weight. When selecting a chair make sure that it doesn’t squeak or make any unnecessary noise. Your chair selection should allow you to move easily and pivot so be wary of some of the hunting chairs that sit low to the ground and tend to sacrifice mobility for being ultra comfortable.

If you sit on a rock or stump make sure to clean off as much snow and ice as possible as melting water will create a damp seat that will make sitting for an extended amount of time cold and uncomfortable. A longer than normal length hunting jacket or many of the commercially available “foam seats” are cheap, lightweight and will keep you dry making hunting more enjoyable.

When you arrive at your tree stand or blind you are going to be heated from the trip to your hunting location. Before completely settling in and sitting down, put on your heavy jacket (unzipped) and have your winter hat immediately handy. These preparations will keep you from having to move again 30 minutes later when your core body temperature cools back down. Having heater packs, an extra winter hat and heavy gloves in a jacket pocket will help you maintain body temperature should weather conditions change and your body become chilled.

Mind the direction of the wind. A whitetail has one of the finest olfactory senses in the forest so plan accordingly and be adaptable to predicted wind patterns by having multiple hunting locations to pick and choose from.

Carrying a pair of pruning shears or a small cutting saw will allow you to trim shooting lanes and cut brush that may block the rotation of your swing. Cut brush can be stuck in the ground to further cover any movement or attached to your tree stands with zip ties to break up its silhouette and make it harder to see. If hunting from a ground blind it is also helpful to hide use natural features like logs and stumps to supplement your cut materials.
If you have difficulty finding good cover or are hunting where cutting brush is not an option you may want to employ the use of a small (4x8) piece of camouflaged burlap and a few 5 foot stakes. These materials will allow you to construct a quick blind in just about any conditions. Just make sure not to camouflage so well that you obstruct the shooting lanes.

Keep Hydrated and Energized
Maine in November and December can equal extremely cold weather and a season when all but the most hardy of sportsmen will stay outdoors. During this time, you will need to be consuming many more calories than normal to stay warm. The secret to staying in the woods, as the mercury drops, is keeping your furnace fully fueled by consuming high calorie foods and fluids that are nutritionally designed to keep up your energy levels. While your exact likes and dislikes will determine your selections in this category, there are some foods that are easier to eat on the run or while perched precariously in a tree stand.

Some of my personal favorites include: venison jerky, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, breakfast bars, trail mix and snickers bars. On exceptionally cold days, boiling water and pouring it in a plastic bottle not only serves as a refreshing hot drink but when placed inside a jacket also provides radiated warmth for hours.

Stay Mentally Focused
Some hunters bring along media such as a book or magazine to read while more technologically focused outdoorsmen even bring their MP3 players or video game consoles. Either approach will allow you to be less “bored” while hunting which will hopefully mean you will spend more time in the woods thus increasing your chances. While certain selections of media will allow some to hunt longer, it can also cause an additional distraction that may mean you miss a shot opportunity. For me, it has usually been easier and more effective to simply sit watching the day unfold enjoying the simple pleasures Mother Nature has to offer.

Organization in the Blind or Tree Stand
Once you sit, you need to determine how to best organize your gear. Having your gun or bow readily available to your dominant shooting hand position will allow you to take shots with limited movement. Being right handed, most comfortable for me is to place my gun to the right and bow to the left. Placing your backpack to the opposite side will allow you to use your available hand to access other essentials you may need. Since you will be using your game calls relatively often you may want to keep them in a jacket pocket or around your neck on a lanyard where you can easily access them.

Closing Thoughts
Deer hunting will always pose unique challenges for the sportsmen willing to invest the time and energy studying and pursuing this worthy game animal. Whether hunting from a tree stand, ground blind or other means remember that you are in your quarries backyard, an area it has know and studied for years. To compete against this degree of knowledge it will typically entail a combination of little things that will allow you to fill that tag. So pay attention to small details, believe in yourself and remember how to sit in the woods.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Duck Du Jour

At the beginning of this hunting season I noted that I had several ziploc bags buried in the bottom of my freezer simply label "duck". As I looked over the contents I could tell that freezer burn had left its mark on each one. I had killed an animal to eat and now the best I could hope for was adding it to my coyote bait site in back of the house. To me this was a troubling thought . . .

This year I made a pledge to eat every duck I killed immediately. Yes, folks no freezing or preserving! It has been a little bit of a struggle as my total for the season is currently at 20 ducks and 3 geese but I am pleased to announce that I have been successful in consuming all.

I have employed several different concoctions and combinations of ingredients to insure that I have enjoyed every mouthful.

Here is what I have tried thus far . . .

Duck Stir Fry
Marinate the duck breasts in soy or teriyaki sauce overnight (8 hours). Cut breasts into thin strips. In a large frying pan combine sesame oil, duck, veggies, mushrooms, etc. When done serve over a bed of white rice.

Duck Bombs
Marinate duck breasts in A1 sauce for 4-5 hours. Cut breasts into thin strips and combine in a pan with Montreal steak seasoning, onions, red peppers, mushrooms and some crumbled bacon. Put in a sub roll and top with shredded cheese and A1.

Duck Fajitas
Marinate duck breasts in fajita seasoning mix and water for 4-5 hours. Cut breasts into thin strips. In a large frying pan combine fajita seasoning mix, duck, red & green peppers, onion and jalapeƱos. When done spoon mixture into soft flour tortillas and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce.

Duck Meatball Grinders
Grind up duck breasts and simmer in spaghetti sauce for about 3-4 hours. Spoon mixture into a sub roll and cover with shredded cheese. Put the roll in the oven for 5-6 minutes at 325 to melt the cheese.


Monday, October 27, 2008

4,237 Feet

As I stared up Sugarloaf Mountain yesterday afternoon I couldn’t get it out of my head that I wanted to climb to the top. At 4,237 feet the mountain is one of 14 Maine peaks that stretches above 4,000 feet and as such I wanted to add it to my hiking resume. As I scanned the various routes to the summit my anticipation began to rise and I decided that I would hike the 2,820 vertical feet from the base lodge to the top after the days conference events were completed.

As I rushed out of the last session, I could feel my heartbeat quickening. I rummaged through my limited gear shoved a few items in my backpack and ran out the door. While certainly not a difficult climb when considering my prior experiences with high places it was still exciting to be able to dig my hiking boots into a snowfield. I had not climbed a mountain of any significance since Aconcagua three years ago and thinking of myself on the summit drove my excited feet forward.

I soon settled into that rhythmic pick em up put em down cycle that for me makes hiking an almost meditative experience. The sun was brightly shining and I made good time as I trudged through the ankle deep snow. I was happy that I had dressed lightly and was very comfortable in my baseball hat and light fleece shirt. I stopped briefly at Peavey cut to have a drink of water and turned to look back over the Carrabassett River Valley. It was beautiful with the snow capped mountains glistening in the distance and the clear aqua blue sky. I sighed deeply feeling my stress draining away and my body felt invigorated.

As I reached Upper Narrow Gauge the snow deepened considerably and I found myself slogging through drifts that reached above my knee. The wind kicked up and started biting into my layers and I reached into my pocket to grab my winter hat. Putting my head down, I leaned into the mountain and continued forward at a slow but steady speed.

An hour and 35 minutes from the Base Lodge and I was standing on the summit. It had been a great hike up and after so much time away from the mountains I could feel my lust for exploring high cold places welling up inside of me.

Well, hiking UP is only half of a trip and most accidents take place on descents so after taking a few photos and making a phone call to the wife so she knew I was on the top I shouldered my pack and prepared for the trip back down. As I descended I moved toward a large abandoned building just below the summit and was thrilled to find that it was unlocked. Inside were picnic tables and a glorious view all to be enjoyed in a wind free environment. I sat at one of the tables and sipped a little bit of water and ate a Nutrigrain bar and took a couple more photos.

Scribbled in magic marker on the walls of the abandoned building where the following:

“He makes me want to relax near the meadow to watch the long grass blowing in the wind. He leads me to still waters to reflect my life to me. He makes me want to climb in the mountains so my mind can spread out at the top. To see the stars, to love the girls, to swim the seas restores my soul in the Summer BUT in the winter He makes me want to SKI!”

“A walk in the mountains to settle my mind, not to quiet a place, just quiet enough to hear. In Summer, a look brings memories of winter laughter . . . in Spring colors, in Fall its brighter still; I LOVE YOU ALL, When you ski remember me.“

Both quotes really struck something in my psyche and I wanted to share them with others who are also attracted to natures beauty.

Down the mountain I went and on the Spill Way X Cut was treated to a view of an enormous bull moose. As I spooked him he turned and ran and I was unsuccessful in getting to my camera in time. As I continued down the slope I encountered him again and this time he spooked me as he ran by me and directly down Tote Road.

I took my time on the descent but in the end it had only take me 2.5 total hours to complete the entire circuit. As I strode into the parking lot I was pleased by my performance but looking forward to hitting the hotels hot tub. As I soaked and sipped on a blackberry wheat beer I started to day dream about my next trip about 4,000 feet!

Friday, October 24, 2008

27 Degrees

Awoke at 5:30 and looked out my hotel room window to a world covered in a dusting of fresh snow. As I layered on the cold weather gear and brewed a quick cup of coffee I could feel my pulse quickening. I was shot a strange glance by the hotels night manager, as I strolled by with my 12 gauge and duck and goose calls hanging from my neck and I wondered just what he might be thinking.

I started the truck and fired up the heater to clear the thick layer of frost off the windshield. When I looked at my thermometer it was reading 27 degrees F. I quickly wolfed down a Nutrigrain bar, a couple Fig Newtons and a few swigs of partially frozen Gatorade and was on my way.

It didn’t take long to get to the marsh pond especially after my previous evening of scouting (grouse hunting) and I knew exactly where I needed to go. I unloaded the kayak and all of the necessary “gear” and noted that a thin layer of ice had wrapped itself partially around the small pond. In the process of gaining access to the area I had to use the paddle to chip through the thin ice. Just as I cleared the ice I head what sounded like a distance jet plan. Wrong, it was in actuality about 200 ducks of all various shapes and sizes making an expedited exit from the pond! This invigorated me (despite the 27 degrees and biting wind) and I was immediately encouraged that this was in “the” spot.

I quickly set-up six decoys 2 golden eyes, 2 buffle heads and 2 mallards all roughly spaced about 20-25 feet apart. Many will no doubt wonder why I threw out such a unique spread so let me briefly explain. Ok, here it is . . . this seasoned water fowler slightly panicked! Seeing all those whistling wings and legal shooting only moments away I simply grabbed the first decoys that came out of the bag and chucked’em.

I had barely managed to back the kayak into a marsh divot and throw the camo covering over the boat when suddenly in paddles a stinky old shoal drake (AKA Red Breasted Merganser). Well, I would like to say that I “flushed” the bird and took a brilliant left to right shot but in truth I blasted away as he entered 15 yards and when he then then attempted to fly I followed with an additional round of Hevishot #4s. Hey my shooting may not be pretty but its effective.

Sitting in the kayak I waited as the icy wind drove the small bird close. I waited patiently AND waited . . . AND waited for the flocks to return or additional ducks to fly but none ever did. I soon ran out of time gathered up the decoys and headed back to the landing. I had just enough time to breast out the shoal drake, slap it in the cooler and hit a quick shower before I needed to get to work.

I am now sitting in the shadow of Sugarloaf at a conference and day dreaming about my exciting morning afield.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ducking with the Old Man

Took my Dad out this past weekend for a bit of duck hunting and I think I blew the poor guys mind. Though he is certainly not new to blasting ducks his experiences with waterfowl hunting had ended almost 30 plus years ago. In his youth most of his waterfowling consisted of spending hours sneaking up on his belly to secret marshes and then jumping up and blastin' them. When I inquired how the downed ducks were retrieved he said they would simple swim out and get them. Apparently duck hunters were tougher back then!

Dad laughed at the number of decoys I put out and almost fell over backwards when I pulled the spinning wing Mojo out from under the boat seat. He gave me one of those "looks" and then inquired if that THING actually would attract ducks. I insured him that it would and he shot me a skeptical glance.

We had a beautiful morning and the ducks were flying relatively well. We had a buffle head "we" duck early in the morning that was riddled with shot from both my Franchi 612 semi auto and Dad's Ithaca model 37 pump. Later in the morning I was successful in bringing in two different groups of Geese and we dropped two out of those flocks. I have to take credit for finishing both geese since Dad was a little bit limited in his 2 3/4 inch payload of #4 steel and only flared the geese. I however was firing 3 inch #2 heavy shot and dropped both of the flared geese like they were hit with sledgehammers. One goose landed on the island we were shooting from and it was my dog Onyx's second retrieved goose! The other glided down the lake several hundred yards but in the end was retrieved via outboard power.

Later about 8:30 the old man redeemed himself as he brought two golden eyes out of the air with ONE SHOT! Well as you can imagine the old man called me last night and wants to go out hunting again this weekend . . . I am going to assume that he had a GREAT time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Duckman Cometh (End Game)

Just because a piece of machinery tells of the correct hunting time doesn’t mean that your query is on the same timetable. We patiently waited as ducks sailed high overhead and well out of shotgun range. As we sat there quietly suddenly shots echoed up lake and directly east of our position and I knew our chance was rapidly approaching.

Now I don’t often make mistakes (well those that I admit to anyway!) so when I blew Duckmans chance at scoring a Canadian Goose by a stupid freak mistake in identification I was ready to hang myself by my own wader straps. Before continuing let me explain the preceding events more closely. Barely had it become legal and I saw a form coming up lake that I identified and immediately dismissed as a Loon. As it approached to within 40 yards in the early morning light I re-identified it as a stinky shad or common Cormorant. As it passed by the blind at 10 YARDS, I suddenly realized to late that it was a goose. I somehow managed to quickly fire off two sound shots just to make sure it never returned! Poor Duckman was unimpressed with his guides powers of observation and I think it was at this point he mumbled something about gutting nearsighted individuals with rusty knives. If there is one thing I have learned about the Duckman through my years of friendship it is that is he likes to gut things . . .

Seconds after the infamous Canadian incident the Duckman’s Beretta Extrema belched forth its lethal payload in a three note rapid fire beat that would have made Motley Cru’s Tommy Lee jealous. Out of the sky dropped a Green Head and it the early morning twilight the Duckman flashed a million-dollar smile. The duck took some “doing” to retrieve as it landed smack in the middle of a nasty bunch of swamp growth and I had to take out the boat and leave the dog with Duckman. Well the poor old girl just about had a nervous breakdown watching me go out and get that duck but it was for her own good. The retrieval required a second shot to dispatch the fighting duck and that area of the swamp is particularly nasty and know to be filled with alligators, white sharks, lawyers and other nasty bits that would tear a puppy to pieces. Upon returning to the blind I had to offer the dog ½ a Nutrigrain bar as a peace offering before she would sit beside me again.

The morning moved on as is typical with moments of waiting interspersed with moments of shear terror, elation and panic. The emotional rollercoaster that is duck hunting is one of the most exciting thing about hunting waterfowl. A duckless morning can suddenly become record book potential with one flock of ducks of the distant honking of a goose. As the minutes crept by I wondered if our day would be average or of above average for an opener. In the general scheme of things we didn’t have to wait long as the duck were willing to corporate and by late morning a few last minute mallards made our day spectacular.

Below is a short video of me discussing one of those shots that will MAKE your entire season. Hell who am I kidding I will be talking about this when I am 80!

I have to admit that as 10:00 AM rolled around I was a little bit sad that the day had to end. Moments in time this fun are something that you want to attempt to extend as long as possible BUT everything must eventually end. Gear was packed, the campsite broken down and a wet satisfied Labrador curled up and let out a low sigh. As my little one and I set on the deck and waved goodbye to the Duckman I couldn’t help but think when would be the next time we would be able to share a foggy rainy morning together in the duck blind!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Duckman Cometh (Part III)

As I oared the portaboat down to the western tip of the island, I maneuvered through the Goose, Buffle Head, Wood duck and lastly Mallard decoys we had placed out the night before. The spread may have been a “tad” over done but damn wasn’t it beautiful. I firmly believe that it you have a hundred decoys it is an absolute waste not to put them all out! Finally we managed to push and prod our way through the massive spread to the point where the Queen Mother of all duck lures lay . . . Mojo the spinning wing duck. Flicking a single switch the beast roared to life and the wind from his 12 volt driven wings almost blew off Duckmans favorite hunting hat.

Minutes later we arrived at the blind and I was somewhat surprised to see that all of our guns and equipment where in their correct places. From Duckmans actions, I had thoroughly expected that we were going to be embroiled in some type of fistfight with a band of renegade duck hunters but apparently all was well.

Jumping out of the boat I began hauling out the remainder of our gear including that most holy of duck hunting paraphernalia . . . the thermos of hot coffee. Juan Valdez how I love your hot, black, bitter goodness your luscious lip numbing intoxicating early morning mix comprised of equal parts H2O and coffee grinds. Oh Juan how scorned you must feel by the unholy individuals who pollute your hard work with vile things like sugar, milk, cream and artificial flavoring. Let me assure you Juan that I am not one of those individuals and that I worship at the shrine of coffee in its simplest form. Ok, maybe I get a little carried away with my love affair with coffee that could dissolve a spoon AND it is a distinct possibly that Duckman is not the first individual to complain about my “heart attack” blend. Truth be told for some of us (and by “us” I mean my brother and I) coffee is best served with the exact consistency of mud.

Breakfast in the blind always gives me that “calm before the storm” feeling. As Duckman and I sat back in the blind and watched a light rain drizzle down upon the decoys I nibbled on a piece of salted Pollock, drank my cup of atomic coffee and began sending out low “quacking” notes on my duck call. As the magical hour of shooting time approached the marsh came alive with the sound of Wood Ducks, Teal and Mallards. I could tell that Duckman was excited as his head swiveled left to right like he was watching a tennis match. One last look at my watch and I informed the Duckman that it was in fact “legal” . . .

For the Duckman's side of the story please visit: http://thedowneastduckhunter.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Duckman Cometh (Part II)

The evening festivities went well and I busily assembled the tents, cooked supper, drank ½ a bottle of homemade wine, read a short book and said a few prayers as the Duckman attempted to light a campfire. I was understandably concerned that Duckman’s valiant attempts at fire building were raining sparks and embers onto my nylon tents. He managed to produce every excuse in the book for his failings and grasped at a few more before I finally handed him a bowl of hot stew, a bottle of wine and told him to sit back while I tried my had at the fire pit. Minutes later, I had produced a roaring fire that the Duckman described in a mumbled voice as “lucky”.

We both relaxed back in our crazy creek chairs as the fire roared and the lies were told. Though our expected wake up time was set at around 4:00 AM we still managed to stay up until 11:00 talking through subjects from politics and blogging to hunting and fishing. Finally, we managed to decide some sleep was needed and we packed ourselves into the tents and dreamed of three shot bursts, good dogs and clouds of Greenheads that filled the skies. Sleep was interrupted through the night by Onyx who was also excited to participate in the next days activities and Duckman’s frequent farting and snoring. Though I only managed a few hours sleep I still snapped to full attention when the Duckman announced at 3:30 AM that someone was in the blind and stealing his prized shotgun! As I threw on my waders and thrashed around trying to locate my headlamp the Duckman ran down over the other side of the island with his two million candle power spotlight. As he shined the laser beam across the surface of the lake I could hear the honking and flying of several hundred Canadian Geese as they were frightened off the waters surface a few dozen yards from the duck blind. Moments later, I received a cell phone call from the Duckman indicating that while attempting to reach his highly valued shotgun he had managed to become “stuck” in the mud . . . right away I could see that you can take a boy off the salt BUT you can’t take the salt out of the boy. I began to ponder on these events . . . had the Duckman spent so much time on the Atlantic in recent years that he had lost his ability to survive in the Maine forests?

Well, while Duckman unstuck himself I managed to collect the rest of the gear, pack the boat, feed the dog and have breakfast. I was now in no hurry to stop the would be criminal who had earlier incurred the Duckman’s wrath as I was confident that NOBODY was stupid enough to mess with the flailing, mud soaked, hollering and yelling Duckman (AKA Swamp Thing). As I collected Duckman and paddled with him and the dog down the southern side of the island a light rain began to fall and I knew this was going to be one of those morning that all duck hunters live for . . .

Wild Crows Motorcycle Tour - Podcast

Clicking on the title to this article will take you to my first attempt at a podcast within the blog environment . . . the link will take you to a shared space I have set-up at Box.net. Clicking the file titled "Wild Crows.m4a" will download the audio file to your computer. Don't be alarmed by the sound of my voice as I am using Apple Computers text to speech software (Alex) to see how effective it is at reading articles. Thanks and enjoy!

For the rest of the Wild Crows Motorcycle Adventure See:
Wild Crows Motorcycle Tour Part I
Wild Crows Motorcycle Tour Part II
Wild Crows Motorcycle Tour Part III
Wild Crows Motorcycle Tour Part IV
Wild Crows Motorcycle Tour - Podcast

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Opening Day 2008 – The Duckman Cometh

After many years of bragging about the quality of puddle duck hunting in Central Maine I finally enticed my good friend the Duckman (DEDH) to join me on opening day 2008. As we finalized plans a knot began to form in my stomach. While every Sportsman knows that it is called hunting and not finding for a very good reason, I was still feeling the pressure. Throughout the past several seasons, I had told enough tall duck-tales that I was concerned that I had elevated the experience to an unattainable level. In addition to the general packing and preparation associated with just about any water based duck hunt we were also spending the evening out on an island to insure we were able to secure a favorable location in the early mornings “rush” to the prime territories. This entire range of preparation practically caused me to have night sweats . . . items within my control, items beyond my control what was a “guide” to do . . .

As I sat in the living room, my leg jackhammering with nervous energy, I was suddenly gripped with a sense of calm. Looking over my extensive packing list, I realized that all I needed to do to be successful was to break the evening and morning into packing the most critical of components . . . two bottles of alcohol, a can of dip and a thermos of coffee . . . let them eat cake! In all seriousness, I was taking things way to serious when in fact there was no need. This wasn't a “guided” hunt and I am not a guide this outing was simply a chance for two good friends to be able to spend a small part of their limited time together that family, work and more work had squeezed over the last several years. Duck or no duck this was going to be a fun time.

Well, at the designated time on Tuesday evening the Duckman cometh and rolled into my dooryard with high hopes and a car load of dried salted pollock . . . I could immediately see this was to be a time to be remembered. Hours later, I would ponder if a breakfast of dried salted fish and black coffee was a healthy choice or one that would have me worshiping the porcelain gods?!?!

A short drive from the homestead had us at the landing and unloading and organizing last minute gear selections. As I motored up lake with the Duckman I was completely flabbergasted to see that our “primary” spot was already taken by a couple local duck hunters. Without a second though, I motored on to our secondary location and proceeded to unload the boat at our campsite. Trip two in the boat back to the landing was reserved for picking up Onyx (my energetic black lab) and the final supplies.

With everyone unloaded on the island we began preparations for the night ahead . . .

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rock Star - Birth of a Legend . . . LOL!

ROCK STAR!! I had to post this video from opening day because I know many of you will find it humorous and if you can't laugh at yourself . . . well you get the idea. Other hunters out there have all had that "shot". A point in time when you pull the trigger and through luck or skill or a combination of both elements line up and make for a moment that will never be forgotten. As my friends the DEDH is fond of saying this is how legends are made! Here I am failing to contain my excitement after downing a Mallard with a very difficult shot. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Greetings from the Tree Stand

After years of hunting deer with my trusty 30-30 Marlin, I finally decided that I had progressed enough as a deer hunter to begin trying out the whole "archery" thing. It took me most of last year to build my confidence to a point where I felt as though I could effectively take a shot should an opportunity present itself. Armed with this preparation and knowledge, this past Friday afternoon I decided that it was time to "stick" a wily whitetail. I had chosen a strip of open woods that intersected three different deer trails. Scat and prints indicated that several deer were working through the area. Of note were a large doe and 1 or 2 small yearling tracks . . . even more exciting of course was a buck track, scat pile and several rubs. Although not a LARGE buck any buck with a bow would be a trophy as far as I am concerned.

Friday afternoon I climbed up into my 15 foot deer stand that I had placed a few weeks ago. It was raining cats and dogs and the wind made the precipitation come down sideways. After sitting for about 3 hours I was rewarded with a quick flash of brown and three deer (a doe and two yearlings) trotting by my stand at about 20 yards. It was extremely exciting! After waiting another hour and 4 more additional hours on Saturday I am still "buckless" but I know that bruiser is hiding someplace nearby and it is a LONG, LONG time before the end of deer season! Here's to me keeping my fingers crossed!

Below is a video I shot from the tree stand using my cell phone. I was curious about what the quality would look like. Hope it provides you with a glimpse of what it is like hunting the woods of Maine.

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