Friday, August 29, 2008

Last Child in the Woods - Louv

I had to share that I just started reading this incredible book by Richard Louv titled "Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder". Louv's thoughts echo what I have been thinking and saying for years which is that kids today are slowly losing their connection with the "natural" world. Of course, Louv prose is MUCH more eloquent than I and his explanations and research on the presented subjects is excellent.

Here are a couple excerpts from the book:

P.30 - "We tell our kids that traditional forms of outdoor play are against the rules . . . Then we get on their backs when they sit in front of the TV and then we tell them to go outside and play. But where? How? Join another organized sport? Some kids don't want to be organized all of the time.

P. 24 - "Fishing and Hunting . . . are messy - to some morally messy - but removing all traces of that experience from childhood does neither the child nor nature any good."

p. 21 - "Few of us miss the brutal aspects of raising food. For most young people, however, memory supplies no experience for comparison. More young people may be vegetarians or consume food from health food stores, but fewer are likely to raise their own food - especially if that food is an animal.

p. 14 - "Parents, educators, other adults, institutions - the culture itself - may say one thing to children about nature's gifts, but so many of our actions and messages - especially the ones we cannot hear ourselves deliver - are different. And children hear very well."

For more information please see: http://richardlouv.com/

Thursday, August 28, 2008

iPhoto Phun

IPhoto Phun
While I tend to use Adobe Photoshop for editing photos if I want want to be able to REALLY manipulate images I still prefer to use iPhoto to make smaller correction and accomplish basic changes (red eye, brightness, contract, etc). Take a look at the following three images for some of the interesting effects possible with the simple to use iPhoto.

Original photo - Note that the colors are really washed out and there are no clouds to make this a very interesting picture. The only thing that this lighthouse photo has going for it is the "subject" which in this case is the perfectly placed sailboat.


iPhoto Fix Step One - Hitting the photo with a rather big stick I cranked down the brightness, sharpened the image and increased the blue color saturation.
iPhoto Fix Step Two - Unfortunately, even with all of the prep work in the end the sky really is drab and colorless and doesn't add anything to the photo so for that reason on my last step I removed as much of the sky as possible using the matte tool. Additionally, since the colors really weren't that fantastic I also gave the photo an antique finish.
Now obviously this photo has other issues that to be resolved go well beyond the limited capabilities of iPhoto, however, for simple edits I hope I have shown that iPhoto is worth further exploration. Did anyone notice that the third photo wasn't the same as the first two?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outdoor Treasure Hunt - Part III

Outdoor Treasure Hunt
Little Man and I were outside over the weekend tracking the elusive "BumsB". It seems that the slight changes in temperature have vastly increased last minute nectar gathering efforts and the flower gardens were swarmed with these little stinging insects all weekend. Lil man is amazed by these creatures and my constant warnings that they make "ouch" seem to only delight him to no apparent end! Apparently, I need to consider changing his middle name to DANGER! :)



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maine's Greatest Hits (#6 of 10)

Maine's Greatest Hits - Cabbage Island Boat Tour & Clambake
The Cabbage Island boat tour and clambake makes for a great family adventure that can be enjoyed by all ages. The capable crew and well equipped island facility allow access for handicapped individuals as well as those who may simply need a helping hand. Any trip to the island, is comprised of a mixed range of young and older people, locals, those “from away”, vacationing couples, families and small groups of friends.

During the approximately one hour trip out to Cabbage Island you will enjoy a scenic tour of Boothbay Harbor, Linekin Bay and the outer edges of the Gulf of Maine. As the Argo navigates through thousands of lobster buoys you will pass by picturesque islands with such names as Tumbler, Mouse, Squirrel, Fisherman and Negro.

Quick amateur shot opportunities exist for photographing Burnt and Ram Island Lighthouses, however, individuals wishing to seriously photograph these locations would be much happier taking one of the specialty “lighthouse” cruises. Below are two quick shots I managed to take from the boat tour.

Burnt Island Light – Built in 1821 on the West side of the entrance to Boothbay Harbor, this is one of the oldest lights on the East coast. About a mile from the harbor, its white stone tower frequently attracts pleasure boaters and kayakers.

Ram Island Light – Cylindrical brick 35 ft tower on a granite caisson foundation was constructed in 1883. It is often viewed by pleasure boats negotiating the Fisherman Island Passage.

Once you arrive on Cabbage island there are a variety of activities available that include fishing from the dock, horseshoes, volleyball or just relaxing in a lawn chairs. Others simply enjoy walking around the incredible 5 ½ acre homestead owned by the Moore family, who have been hosting traditional “Downeast” clambakes since 1956. Meals are cooked on a giant wood fired oven in which food is wrapped in seaweed and then steamed to capture all of the flavor an sweetness.

The succulent feast is comprised of an appetizer of rich buttery fish chowder followed by two luscious lobsters, tender white steamed clams and all the traditional fix-ins. For dessert, you will be served fresh blueberry cake with hot fresh coffee or ice tea.

For more information please see: Cabbage Island – Open June 21st through September 7th

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shooting Practice 30-06 Style

Yeah, I know what you are thinking . . . why is he closing his left eye! Well, my shameful secret is that I shoot right handed but am left eye dominant. I am currently working to try and correct this genetic anomaly. More about this issue and possible solutions here:
http://www.tomknapp.net/news/
http://www.basc.org.uk/media/eye_dominance.pdf
http://www.archeryweb.com/archery/eyedom.htm

Video of shooting practice (Browning BAR 30-06)
video

In preparation for this September's bear season I took the BAR out for trial run at my home gun range. The four shots seen in the video were taken at 50 yards using Remington's Core Lokt 180 Grain Soft Points. In the photo at the left, you will see that from the initial bore sighting the deviation is minimal but with adjustment even that will be corrected before the season opener.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour - Part IV

Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour by Stephen Vose (Part IV)

It had rained all night long and as I rounded my first corner the bike slightly fishtailed and I began to seriously reflect on my decision to hold off until next summer to outfit the bike with new shoes. Fortunately, by the time I reached the boat launch in Robinson the fog was lifting the car traffic had dried out route one enough to make the remainder of the trip less “interesting”.

The miles went quickly and before I knew it the sun had completely burned off the morning fog. The evaporative effects of the suns rays were causing the freshly cut hay fields to steam creating some beautiful effects. I attempted to photograph a few locations but some things in life you just can’t photograph or express but rather have to be seen to be truly appreciated.

Upon arriving at “Duckman’s” home on Beals Island, I was presented with a pair of knee high rubber boots and a note stating that I need to meet him at the town dock. Taking off leather hikers and throwing them inside the door I donned the rubbers and sped off toward the landing! Well, the Duckman was “patiently” waiting for me at the landing. After brandishing an 8 inch long rusty knife and flashing a million dollar smile, he mumbled something about gutting a tardy individual like a fish . . . I immediately jumped in the boat!

Well for the remainder of that long day, I snapped photographs and assisted where I could which consisted mostly of swabbing the deck and eating my way through the Duckman’s profit margin. I have to admit that I initially felt a little bit guilty, as I tore my way through a couple of two pound lobsters and watched Duckman choked down a peanut butter and fluff sandwich but that soon passed. I believe in the end, we pulled close to 250 traps but Duckman will have to remind me of the poundage.

On my final day on Beals Island I was fortunate enough to be able to follow Duckman and this Dad onto the tidal flats and document them “wormin”. For those of you unfamiliar with this process let me tell you its damn hard work. Digging sand and blood worms requires you to be bent over and working a worm rake through the mud for hours at a time. If you can somehow miraculously manage to keep you footing in the mucky soup and not break your back from the effort you will be rewarded with profits but just how much depends as much on mother nature as your work ethic. The highlight of my morning was showing off the pictures to Duckman’s Dad who in turn showed me how to successfully crack and pick a crab . . . something that despite all my years in Maine I had always failed to do correctly.

I wished I could have stayed longer on Beals but know I will be returning in November for sea duck hunting with Duckman and his newly acquired 18 foot Lund. The open road beckons, however, and after washing off the morning filth I was once again heading down route one toward Castine.

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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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lyman's “Revolution” Rotating Gun Vise

Lyman's “Revolution” Rotating Gun Vise

I have to admit that when I received this product in the mail the other day, I kinda scoffed at the idea of needing a gun vise. I mean seriously what is wrong with using the kitchen table or a TV tray? Why would someone actually need a vise to hold your gun while cleaning it?

After sighting in my Browning BAR 30-06 in preparation for bear season, it seemed the perfect opportunity to give the vise a try. Almost immediately, I could see that this piece of equipment could prove VERY useful and I was extremely pleased with the results. What I had failed to consider, is how helpful it is to have a mechanism that securely cradles your firearm and allows you to have your hands freely available to easily access the materials in your gun cleaning kit. Not having to continually handle the firearm also has the added benefit of keeping touching and thus fingerprints to a minimum further facilitating the cleaning process.

From box to workbench the assembly process took me approximately two minutes and no tools were required. There are even optional bolts included that will allow the vise to be securely attached to a workbench making it even more stable. The vise is adjustable and rotates into three different locked positions greatly facilitating the cleaning process by allowing you to walk around and access your firearm from different sides and angles. Lastly, it is able to solidly lock any firearm into position including shotguns, handguns, anything in the TC Encore and Contender line as well as tactical weapons.

Lyman's “Revolution” Rotating Gun Vise is available for purchase through Middletown, Connecticut based company Lyman. For more information see them online at: www.lymanproducts.com. It makes no difference if you are a seasoned marksman, gunsmith or weekend warrior you have got to get you hands on this gun vise!

*After thought . . . I need to contact the manufacturer and inquire if it is safe to use this device to sight in firearms on the gun range. I simply want to insure that the associated plastic parts are up to the shock created by continual firing practice. It is my initial reaction that it is most likely not BUT it never hurts to ask!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Deer Tracks and Black Berries


If you have not yet been notified get out in the woods NOW! Not only is August your last chance to get out there and do some scouting in preparation for the upcoming hunting season it is also a great time to harvest some blackberries. Most Mainers may “rave” about fiddleheads but for me there is no better forage than the blackberry. Old logging roads and snowmobile trails are typically loaded with this tasty treat so while out deer/bear scouting make sure to carry a Ziploc bag in case you stumble upon a nice thicket. This weekend, I managed to pick close to a gallon of these delicious edibles which make wonderful blackberry beer!

Blackberry Beer – How To can be found at the following URL but a Google search will also provide other recipes.
http://www.ehow.com/how_2123167_make-blackberry-beer.html

I managed to additionally check both an old favorite and a new hunting location. The old haunt needed the typical maintenance tied to clipping back the undergrowth and clearing back shooting lanes to a sufficient distance. It was hard work with the heavy humidity and hundreds of mosquitoes buzzing and biting. After the cutting was complete, I sat back and looked out from the high ridge and over the woods lot below. Perfect ranges exist for my 30-30 Marlin and each of the four cleared directions extend into the woods anywhere from 100 to 25 yards making shots with my 3x9x40 . . . elegant. As I rested, I began reflecting on the numerous times I had heard that familiar crunching sound working its way slowly through the woods, my adrenaline surging, until finally the deer would emerge and I would take my shot. I have heard it said that only 1 tree in 100 is a suitable stand location and from this tree I have shot multiple deer . . . apparently I hit the jackpot. It is truly a spectacular stand location with magnificent views over a small pond and during many a November morning I have watched ducks and geese play in its shallow waters.

Deer tracks were many and varied with small and large deer traveling both directly on and parallel to existing trails. Several good rubs were located but nothing consistent with what I would consider a “pattern”. Still a beaten path existed around the pond and I was glad to see that despite the heavy snows last winter the deer in central Maine are still thriving.

New to bow hunting, I have been looking for a location from which to harvest my first deer. After a through search of the un-posted lands within a few miles of the house, I managed to identify two locations. Both sites allow me to use either my portable climbing stand or blind and are accessible with minimal effort. Heavy concentrations of forage and deer sign have me convinced that this is where my best chance lies with the fall bow season. With housing nearby, I am betting that most ethical rifle hunters see no options in this area and therefore I will most likely have the place to myself considering the relatively low number of bow hunters.

Good luck in your scouting and foraging and remember to take a notebook with you to make note of any and all interesting details. If you are anything like me, the mind has strange way for forgetting the important details even in a few months time making setting up that perfect shot or remembering a good patch of berries extremely difficult.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Photos from the Vault

As we quickly approach hunting season, I begin to reflect over previous seasons and the exciting memories they have over the years provided. Below is one of my favorite quotes and a couple interesting deer photos from the vault . . . enjoy!
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A Maine guide family member of mine was once asked by an "Outta Stateah" if he ever shot a partridge "running"? He replied "God no . . . I wait for them to stand still." If you have ever been hunting this fine game bird you undoubtedly understand the enjoyable challenge it provides.


Misshaped deer horns 2006

Macro of 6 Pointer 2002

Monday, August 11, 2008

Unsent

The following is a letter I drafted over the weekend concerning the "Holy Grail" of all outdoor catalogs the coveted hard covered Cabelas Master Catalog. The letter is meant to be humorous and I have no plans of actually sending it to Cabelas. Hope you enjoy!

Dear Cabelas,

I have to admit, that I was severely disappointed in myself for not achieving “Hard Cover” status this year. I am truly sorry for letting you down and need you to understand why my typical ordering barrage in late September of last season was not up to the usual monetary amount. It is difficult for me to express in words the humiliation I have suffered over the past several weeks as family and friends have called me to “brag” that they had received their hard covered bundles of joy. With that said, let me explain my current situation in the hope that you will forgive me and possibly consider me for “ gold” status next season.

In September of last year, I had to undergo spinal surgery on my L4/L5 vertebrae to correct a severely herniated disc that had been causing me chronic pain for approximately 6 years. Finally the pain became to great and I was suffering from paralysis on my right hand side making walking any distance beyond 100 yards almost impossible. These factors forced me into a surgical option on September 15th. Well as you can imagine, the recovery from this type of operation is fairly long and I unfortunately missed much of the 2007-08 hunting season. Even with these issues, I still managed to shoot a deer and get out duck hunting on two occasions . . . proving that I am firstly stupid and secondly a “rabid” hunting fanatic.

Additionally, I should probably mention that at home I have a 2 year old and 2 month old that keep me fairly busy. While I am already working with the two year old to teach him about the wonders of the outdoors he is still on the small side for attempting duck hunting this season. Depending on interest, he may join Dad on the Spring turkey hunt. In the meantime, we enjoy thumbing through previous editions of your hard cover catalog and looking at all of the various hunting and fishing gear. Already I have started him on course with understanding the finer points of “brand” recognition and we regularly use editions of the Bass Pro and L.L. Bean catalogs to kindle our evening campfires.

On the one hand, I may not have provided you with a high level of customer support in the ordering of “gear” but you should know that I have recently become a Cabelas share holder. Yes that is correct, I own a whopping 50 shares of your fine company. I only provide this detail, so you are aware of my undying commitment to the Cabelas family. Jim and Dick I love you guys . . . err of course I mean that in a completely manly and heterosexual way!

Sincerely,

the Rabid Outdoorsman

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fishing Tall Tales . . .

Fishing Tall Tales . . . fun with Photoshop!
I had to share this picture I edited over the weekend. Picture is of my neighbor and a bass he caught. He wanted to send the photo to a friend of his and "brag" a bit about the Maine fishing scene. Before he sent I worked my "magic". It isn't a perfect job and if you look carefully you will see where I made errors BUT overall should actually convince most.

Goes to show that these days you can't even believe what you see. Happy Fishing!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour by Stephen Vose

Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour (Part III)

Motorcycle Guide Books will tell you that somewhere between Houlton and Calais there exists a stretch of pavement 8 miles long called the “Million Dollar View Scenic Byway”. From what I have read, the “photographic opportunities are endless” unless of course you are actually a photographer . . . yes folks that is scorn and bitterness in my voice. Though this stretch of highway contains several scenic turnouts I found them more picturesque than photographic. Actually, I was incredibly surprised and disappointed at how “un-photogenic” this area was compared to other regions of the state. Perhaps it was the dense fog and threatening skies or maybe a nagging post birthday hangover headache but either way multiple forces combined to put a damper on my demeanor. The one saving grace presented by this stretch of highway is the Chiputneticook chain of Lakes section that I am guessing is spectacular during leaf peeper season. As I drove by the apparently now closed Million Dollar View Restaurant I vowed to someday return to this section of desolate highway and give it another chance. As I hit the throttle and sped on toward Calais, Ozzy Osborne sang in my ear of the apocalyptic end of the world . . . making me think that maybe I need to stick to happy show tunes.

Stopping briefly in Princeton to rest my posterior and invest in a stock of Advil that I was hoping would pay out large dividends. I noted an interesting location on the outskirts of town and decided to snap a couple shots.




Arriving in my hometown of Calais, I treated myself to a refreshing swim in Keens Lake and managed to wash off the road grease. While swimming, I noted numerous brookies busily snapping up a fresh hatch. I greedily watched these activities thinking of my growling stomach and trying to remember the last time I had bitten into a crispy trout tail. If only I had access to a flyrod . . .

An overnight with family and an incredible home cooked meal recharged and readjusted my attitude and by 9:00 AM I was once again making my way down Route 1 to visit friends in Machias and Jones Port. Final chapter to be posted soon!

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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
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