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.

Camouflage
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.

Enjoy!

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!
video

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!

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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!

video

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.

video

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Legged Wood Duck?!?!

I am always amazed by the things I see while out hunting. Throughout the years I have witnessed many interesting animal aspects that make me really respect an animals innate nature to survive despite any obstacle. This weekend while hunting I shot a female Wood duck that appeared very healthy and could swim and fly VERY well. Upon retrieving the downed bird I was amazed to find that she was missing one of her feet. It was obviously an old injury since it had healed over and the bird was apparently doing well.

What is even more puzzling to me is that fact that Wood ducks have claws on their feet that allow them to perch in trees at night to hide and escape from predators. Had this duck somehow managed to perch in trees all Summer since losing the leg to a snapping turtle or a large mouth bass?!?!? Either way you look at it animals and their ability to survive in adverse conditions is truly amazing.

For more on Wood Ducks click HERE.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sportsmen at their Finest

There are few things in this world that aggravate me quite as much as sportsmen that practice unethical or inconsiderate hunting practices. Opening day of duck season Duckman (DEDH) and I had a boat carrying two hunters set-up in relative close proximity to our hunting location (despite our spotlight warnings). These hooligans arrived about 15 minutes before legal and proceeded to make a ton of noise. If this insult wasn't bad enough (as I explain in the video below) their "sky busting" was some of the worst I have ever seen. HUNTERS WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM so lets act like one and help each other out rather than tearing each other down.

On a positive note, I want to thank those of you out there on the opener that helped me carry my decoys to the truck, moved quickly and efficiently out of the boat launch area and took a wide berth around our decoy set-up as you are each true Sportsmen.

video

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Opening Day of Duck Hunting

Well Opening Day 2008 was a complete success and the Duckman and I had an awesome time. As planned we overnighted on an island a dozen yards from the duck blind and by 4:00 this morning were sitting in the "Quack Head" blind and quietly sipping coffee. Highlights of the day included Duckman with a double, Onyx with 4 excellent retrieves and RO with "over head shot" that had ROCK STAR potential. I plan to write more soon but here is a teaser video of SUPER DOG . . . dats my gurl!

video
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