Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mainer with OUI Conviction?

How do you determine if a Mainer has lost his license due to an Operating Under the Influence Conviction?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Field and Stream - Fish Pin

As I went to the mailbox the other day, excited that maybe my little orphan Annie decoder ring had finally arrived, I was instead pleasantly surprised to find my Field and Stream – Big Fish Award. I had almost forgotten I had submitted the online application several weeks ago and now it was here! Quickly tearing into the envelope and through the thin veil of bubble wrap, I have to admit I was more than a little curious to see the contents. Packed inside was a small “quarter size” circular brass pin featuring the stamped image of a trout and the words “Big Fish Award”. I don’t honestly know what I was expecting, but whatever it was this certainly wasn’t it. I can’t blame the professionals at Field and Stream for my obviously mammoth set of expectations; I simply had another vision in mind of what I was supposed to receive.

For starters, how about replacing the brass with gold and encrusting the edges with diamonds. Once that is complete, how about matching the stamped image of the fish on the pin with the actual species of monster fish you managed to drag out of the depths. Finally, this could be supplemented by a lifetime subscription to Field and Stream magazine. Kidding and harassment, of the boys at Field and Stream aside, it is all in all a good idea that they have going. I actually plan to incorporate the pin with a picture of my N. Pike and a brass plaque with the details as part of a photo display . . . when I complete I will post a pic!!

To enter the field and Stream contest and see if you measure up enough to get a pin click here. Included in this post are a couple of “unreleased” photos from the day I pulled my Big Olde Fish from the arms of Neptune.



Monday, December 28, 2009

Top 50 Posts of 2009

Hunting Business Magazine recently recognized the top 50 hunting blog posts of 2009 and believe it or not one of my articles made the final cut.

"Mr. Presidents NEW Waders" was chosen and is listed as number 47. While it is an honor to be recognized, it is even more exciting to be listed along side others with such extrodinary writing talent. Stop by HBM and read the posts that were selected, there are some absolutely amazing wordsmiths kicking around out there in cyberspace well worth investigating.

Congrats to everyone who was listed! I look forward to reading your blogs throughout 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone! May your stockings be filled with disposable chemical hand warmers, wool socks, beef jerky, shotgun shells and other cool stuff! Folks don't forget that a couple of days off is a great time to get out in the wilds! For the Maine crowd rabbit hunting has been great over the last two weeks! Just be careful to anyone who decides to venture out on the ice. While some spots are covered in 4-5 inches spring holes and pressure ridges can open thing up quickly. Be careful and enjoy your time with family and friends!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maine Mt. Lion Caught on Film!

video
It was bound to happen sooner or later. After having the bait site shut down for almost three weeks due to apparently a number of factors beyond my limited comprehension. I finally caught my first fierce Maine fur bearing predator on video with my new camera!

Want to find a Real Mt. Lion on your next visit to Maine? Be sure to Read "Hiking for Maine Mt. Lions!"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Improve your Marksmanship with Tech!

New device could improve marksmanship - Innovation
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34384750/ns/technology_and_science-innovation

Thought this was an interesting story on the improvement of sighting systems on future handguns.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cougar Stalks Deer

A friend of mine sent me this. Not sure if it is fake or not. Apparently it was caught with a game camera. If it is real . . . wow!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blog Milestones

I wanted to organize a post to personally recognize and thank the 50 people who are now following my blog. As you know from my introduction, the primary focus of my blog is to improve my writing skills. This would undoubtly be a impossible endeavor without the individuals who follow my site and regularly provide comments and suggestions. Your opinions are critical to the development of my writing style as you offer unique perspectives, constructive criticism and multiple levels of support.

There is a level of excitement I experience when I post an article and await "comments". This sensation motivates me to want to continue writing. When typing a blog article, I often smile knowing that something I am writing will make others laugh. If on a more serious topic, I often ponder if others feel the same way, share like perspectives or will tell me to jump off a cliff!

In my field, we discuss the importance of Professional Learning Communities or PLCs (yes we educators love acronyms). Often when this term is discussed, I think of the group from the blogsphere. Working together and driven by like passions we function together as a cohesive unit.

Thanks again to everyone following, please know you are much appreciated!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deer Hunting Depression

On the final day of the black powder season, the wind speeds are currently gusting to 20 MPH with the thermometer on the porch reading 21F. While normally an extremely motivated, high energy, "A" type personality, today I am wildly out of character. In the fading light of the afternoon, I am lazily sitting here curled up on the couch basking in the warm glow of the Christmas tree quietly sipping spiked eggnog in an attempt to wash away the memory of this past deer season. This isn't to say that there weren't good memories associated with my pursuit of whitetails, throughout September with bow, November with firearm and December with muzzleloader. Instead what I am saying is that with the season passed, I am feeling a bit abused and perhaps disheartened. After 9 straight years of hunting, I have managed to shoot 10 deer. This year squarely and firmly broke that winning streak. I realize I had to strike out sooner or later but that isn't the point. My depression stems from the low number of quality deer I saw this season, the increase in the number of coyotes and Maine's rapidly changing woodland landscape.

To justify my concerns, I am not about to quote IFW statistics; deer harvest numbers or verbiage from the mouth of the state biologists. Why? Well, because quite honestly I don't care. IFW can continue to debate the game management issues and wallow in their own bureaucracy until they turn red in the face. By the time they finally are empowered to make a decision the whitetails will be beyond the point of saving. What concerns me most is what I saw with my own eyes, during the three months a field this season and what I have experienced in my 30 years of hunting.

In my small, surprisingly unposted, hunting area in the central part of the state I am surrounded by tree harvesting operations and new clear cuts. Due to proximity, most significant to my hunting season was an extensive new "selective" cut near my residence that penetrated deep into prime, dense, thick areas of spruce bordering a hardwood ridge rich in mature oak and beech. Good-bye deer wintering yard and so long food supply.

Additionally, coyote sign seems to be the only thing that is increasing exponentially. Walk any ridgeline from Kittery to Madawaska to Eastport to Bethel and you will note rocks littered with the hair filled scat of the eastern coyote. Sure there are dedicated sportsmen who pursue these beasts in the penetrating cold of the Maine winter but this is a diminutive group. The relatively low numbers of animals that are ultimately taken by these hunters do little to off set their annual winter destruction of the deer population. Reflecting on this, I commend any Maine sportsmen who continue to ensnare coyotes despite current "regulations".

Adding all of my time together throughout the three months of hunting totaled around 200 hours. Add to these preparations, driving to destinations, etc. and I spent well over 200 hours chasing the elusive male whitetail with antlers in excess of 3 inches. In this time, I saw 10 does and was offered 4 shot opportunities on that sex. This obviously equates to around 50 hours invested for every shot opportunity afforded on does. For the bucks only crowd this equation of success decreases dramatically to zero.

I have heard that the definition of insanity is defined as a person who does the same thing over and over with absolutely no hope of changing the situation. Call me "insane" but isn't this exactly what I just spent the past three months doing? As the crazy texting teenagers say WTF!

Where do I go from here? Well, with some soul searching, I am currently doubtful about next season. Of course with an entire year to reflect, it is certain that my outlook will change but currently I am overloaded with deer hunting . . . I have drank my fill and am done.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Surviving the Deer Camp Hangover

A great philosopher once said that even the greatest journey must begin with a single step. Surviving the deer camp hangover is really no different. To succeed, you must concentrate on small achievable goals designed to eventually get you out of bed and into the woods chasing whitetails.

Lying in bed with your head pounding like a bass drum and your mouth feeling like a sand box recently visited by a cat suffering from dysentary, this may at first seem like an impossible task. Despite the precarious predicament you have forced upon yourself, I assure you that it can be done. Mind over matter you might say.

In the predawn light, I first suggest flailing around and seeing if you can locate some means of hydration. If by experience you had the foresight to leave a full glass of water, three rolaids and two aspirin on the bed stand, stop reading now you are a hangover master and require no additional tutilidge. If, however, in your fumblings all you manage to find are dust bunnies and a warm 1/2 can of Budweiser filled with cigarette butts you may want to begin taking notes.

After locating some form of non-alcoholic liquid, getting out of bed should be your next primary focus. It is at this point that you will be most vulnerable to the siren song of the hangover and tempted to sleep "just a few more minutes". Don't listen! If you can manage to get your feet on the floor and head off the pillow you will be well on your way to the deer stand. This is of course assuming you didn't lose your mackinaw or rifle in last nights poker game!

Once vertical, don't waste your precious morning prep time listening to the camp rabble profess that there exists some magical hangover cure. They will be feeding you dilly beans and making you drink white vinegar or some other foul substance in an attempt to get you to "purge". Don't be fooled, there is only one sure cure for the modern day hangover and that is time. How much time depends on a variety of factors to extensive to catalog thus making it impossible to even begin to judge. You will be best served to believe that it will last forever and plan accordingly.

Once mobile, immediately locate the camp outhouse. It is critical that you be the first morning inhabitant as in your "weakend" state you may not make it into the woods if you are second and God have mercy on your soul if you are third. If last nights appetizers of jalepeno poppers, processed/dried meats, pickled eggs and assorted cheeses aren't sufficient to get the intestinal party started, I find a southern breakfast works wonders. This confederate concoction consists of a cup of strongly brewed black coffee immediately chased with a baseball sized cheek full of RedMan. If this fails to produce the desired outcome, secure two or three rolls of toilet paper in preparation for the impending mid-morning disaster. If these critical supplies have already been hijacked by a more experienced drunk, don't despair an old pair of cotton socks will work quite nicely.

Sitting in the stand with your head resting peacefully against the tree trunk you will be tempted to close your eyes. Each slow blink will feel better than sex, so make sure that your climbing harness is properly attached to you AND the tree. If you feel yourself bending to the will of Mr. Sandman it is perfectly acceptable to slap yourself squarely across the face. If you can do this in conjunction with some light grunting and rattling the deer will hardly notice.

As you gingerly nibble on a lunch consisting of soda crackers and diet cola a burp erupting from your stomach brings with it foggy recollections of a double tequila nitecap. Sickened by your apparent complete lack of self control, you silently plot your revenge and berate your family and friends for making you feel this way. Let me remind you, that no matter how bad you would like to blame your current condition on your uncle Johnny Walker or cousin Jack Daniels, ultimately it was you who drank it. Sure there may have been some arm twisting but in the end the evil liquid made it into your stomach. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water . . . Taking responsibility for your state of being is a great step that will go a long way in improving your poor and sickened disposition.

What happens if you actually shoot something? Let's just hope for your sake that this doesn't happen. If, however, a mentally challenged whitetail is somehow drawn to the aroma of farts and stale beer don't panic. Should a miracle occur and you magically manage to shoot the beast, immediately start crying and pray this ploy convinces your hunting party to take pity on you. If you are very lucky they may just gut the animal and drag it out of the woods for you!

Eventually all days must end and as the sun sets you will undoubtedly breath a sigh of relief. Returning to camp you warm your tired old bones by the fire and daydream of delicious backstraps and copious hydration. As you rest your head on your arm and slowly scrape food from your dinner plate into your mouth your thoughts invariably begin to think of how good it will feel to have a restful nights sleep. It will be at this point that the poker chips will appear and that first can of ice cold beer will be opened. As your thoughts flip to your morning solemn vow to never drink again you think hmm maybe I could have just one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Deer Game Camera Picture

I have to admit I am now a little bit addicted to the use of game cameras. Pictures like the one on the right, only fuel this new founded technological scouting obsession. I finally managed to get my first deer picture (pay no attention to my apparent inability to set the correct date) and what a beauty! I had no idea that such a “buck” was walking around in my backyard. It is unfortunate that he is hiding his head behind the bushes but he looks like a 6 pointer. He walked less than 12 feet from my climbing stand but unfortunately a look at the time show that he is crossing WELL before legal shooting. With less than a week of muzzleloader to go, time will tell how the final tale of the 2009 deer season turns out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lost in the Maine Woods

I wanted to share this brief story with other outdoor people to show that even in wilderness areas you know well it is still highly possible to get turned around or even perhaps "lost". Being prepared for these situations and knowing what to do if and when things breakdown and fail is critical to being safe in the woods and on the waters. Take Care and Enjoy!

As I walked forward in the dim predawn light, my LED headlamp barely managed to cut through the thick fog and driving rain. Concentrating all my visual efforts on my feet to keep from tripping and falling, I suddenly looked up and came to the realization that I had managed to overshoot my tree stand. I was now standing in completely unfamiliar surroundings and had lost all sense of direction. It appeared that in my overzealous attempt to get to my tree stand before first light, I had accidentally stumbled into an extensive maze of skidder trails, slash and cut trees that offered little hope of escape.

As I arrogantly reached to my neck for my compass, I realized that I had forgotten it on the workbench. With a slight knot in my stomach, I then timidly searched my backpack for my GPS, sadly it still resided in my "Duck Camp" packing box. Now hopelessly lost and without any means of navigational extraction, I spent a few moments pondering the newspaper headlines . . . "Idiot Lost in the Maine Woods Dies 100 Yards from a McDonalds".

Rather than make a bad situation worse, I began to walk through the "lost dumbass" scenario.
- Sit down where you are with your face pointed in the direction from which you just walked
- Eat a candy bar, smoke a cigarette, etc. just get your mind on something else for a minute so you can relax and think clearly
- Stretch out your senses and watch for the rising and setting sun, listen for sounds of vehicles on nearby roads, feel for the prevalent wind direction, smell for wood smoke, oil or gasoline and other factors that signal signs of civilization
- Think of your situation and make a plan of attack

In my case, I waited for the sun to rise and listened intently for the traffic to build on a nearby major commuter travel route. Once daylight improved the visibility and the noises of civilization provided me with a certified direction, I easily found my tree stand in about 5 minutes. The entire time, I had been less than 100 yards from where I had left the climbing stand only 4 days before. What was most interesting (and perhaps a bit unnerving) is that once I determined my location, I realized I was traveling 180 degrees in the wrong direction! Yet another lessoned learned and in this case thankfully not learned the hard way.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mt. Katahdin Relaxes Winter Climbing Regulations

At right is a photo taken several years ago from the top of Maine's Mt. Katahdin (5,267 ft) in the middle of February. Believe it or not, the park is actually open in the winter for individuals brave (or perhaps STUPID) enough to climb its frozen slopes. While its altitude is barely worth noting, compared to the peaks of the rockies, struggling against its typically high winds and extremely low temperatures the winter will find the average adventurer challenged. Those who do attempt will be richly rewarded by solitude, views and an overall experience that is unparalleled.

The issue with this climb has always been about the details. Baxter State Parks unrealistic "mandatory" equipment lists, advance access notice and a minimum party size all worked together to create unnecessary hurdles that made winter access to the summit next to impossible. All this has changed however.

Last evening, I received a phone call from my long time climbing buddy. He informed me that the park was changing its winter regulations this year. Most notably were changes to the group size (solo now possible), mandatory equipment now (recommended) and the access notification shortened by several day. With these changes, Katahdin has become more accessible to the hobbiest mountaineering crowd. I am already planning a return to the summit this Feb/March!

For more on the changes see here: Baxter State Parks New Winter Regulations

Friday, December 4, 2009

Duck Camp 2009

This year's Duck Camp was supplemented by the arrival of Duckman, who decided last minute to join the unusually deviant and belligerent activities that usually occur when my brother and I manage to magically find the time in our busy and hectic schedules to connect. I should have know we were in for a good time when I arrived at the designated meeting spot at the designated time greeted by the blaring sounds of Hank singing "Country Boy Can Survive" and was handed a beverage glass full of a substance that could reignite Mt. St. Helens.

From the onset, I could tell that the hunting gods were smiling on us when on the first day we shot 4 Long Tailed and 2 Eider ducks. This fantastic beginning was only improved by a trip to my brothers new camp in the middle of the Northern Maine wilderness where we were joined by a slew of processed meat toting family members. It was a welcomed, cherished and great escape from a deer hunting season that has been"challenging" to say the least.

I wanted to share this picture I took while "heatah hunting" with my brother for grouse one afternoon. The miles and miles of logging roads provide 4 wheel access to some incredibly beautiful areas of the Maine wilderness. If you decide to head out and explore these areas just make sure you have a high quality map, compass and/or GPS and are well prepared to spend a few days if necessary. It is easy to get turned around in these areas and assistance could take a long time for help to find you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Moultrie Game Camera II

With some additional thoughts and suggestions from fellow blogger comments, I decided to move my game camera from a position in front of a cubby set to a position inside the cubby set. The plan was to be able to capture a photo of the animal actually eating / attacking / mauling the bait. My hope was that it would make for a pretty interesting picture IF I could get it to work. After a little manipulation of the cubby set, I was able to get the camera into its new position and after some initial testing (note my photographic example), I felt it was ready to roll.

In the end, it didn't work out quite the way I had envisioned and I need to slightly modify the cameras position to get a better angle. I did however capture this photo which I "believe" is a fisher? Please weigh in with your comments to say that you agree or that I need my eyes checked!

FYI, Camera is currently off the bait site and working to pattern deer on a trail near my treestand . . . with only two weeks of black powder deer hunting remaining I have pulled out all of the stops! To those of you still actively chasing whitetails this week and next good luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to improve your Blogging

The following is a little break from my normal outdoor writing to make a few blogging suggestions. Some of these ideas I have implemented while others are works in progress. I am certainly no expert, so please comment, critique and add to the list as it would be informative to see what other think.

1. Run Google Analytics to see who is accessing your blog, when and through what means
2. Drop the .blogspot by registering your URL at godaddy.com for 10 bucks a year
3. Add the "search" application to your blog
4. Make sure that when taking photos that you fill the frame, maximize use of available light and put them in focus.
5. Add an email address to your profile (hotmail, yahoomail, etc.) for personal messages, questions, etc.
6. Respond to comments
7. Write a minimum three to four times a week to your blog
8. Write from your heart or on your passion(s)
9. Include a photo with all suitable posts
10. When commenting on other blog articles check the box that sends automatic updates to your e-mail
11. Turn off word verification
12. Turn on the ability to post anonymously
13. If you do 11 and 12, turn on "approve all posts"
14. Join online networks
15. Search for and add others with similar interests to your blogroll
16. Comment more even if it means you personally post less
17. Don't use or use less ads
18. Twitter your blog updates to others
19. Connect Facebook to your blog
20. Change your profile pic at least a few times a year
21. Check out the new post editor

If anyone has questions on any of these listings drop a comment and I will be sure to clarify. Take care and happy hunting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thoughts from the Treestand

Here I am again today perched 20 feet up in a tree, listening to the lightly falling rain and watching the fog roll across the hardwood ridge. Sat yesterday for a 10 hour stretch so feeling a little exhausted physically and mentally today. This brings my season total to around 13 days of hunting or over (counting preparations) 150 hours dedicated to getting a buck this season. During this time, I have certainly had time to reflect on many different topics. On the forefront of my mind is Maine's dismal deer population. Sure I have seen deer this season but they have all been does (actually a doe and fawn were on my lawn yesterday at 10 AM). This speaks volumes to something being seriously wrong with our management practices here in "Vacationland". I fear that if we don't get our collective rears in gear soon there will be no hunting for future generations.

(Insert sarcasm HERE) Well on the flip side the coyote hunting is excellent and we are cutting trees in this state faster than any other! Hooray for us!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moultrie Game Camera

After years of consideration, I finally broke down and purchased a game camera. I honestly don’t know why I waited so long; perhaps part of me felt it created an unfair advantage in hunting situations. Throughout my outdoor sporting career, I have always strived to rely less on technology and more on skill and applied knowledge. Map and compass are used over GPS, mouth blown calls over electronic game calls, iron sights over scopes and tracking and scouting over using trail cameras. As I have aged and finding I have less and less time, in each case the previous have slowly been replaced by the more technologically advanced means. So, I guess my move to get a game camera was just a natural progression.

It is funny that I wouldn’t think twice about using a fish finder to help in locating salmon, togue or schooling perch but using that type of technology to locate animals seemed “unsporting”. I know that many hardcore sportsmen scoff at the idea of game cameras but I have to share a little secret and that is they are ultra cool. I have only had my camera for less than a week and I am already addicted to it. Currently, I have my camera positioned on a cubby set that contains bait. I am hopeful that in the next few days the set-up will yield a picture of a bobcat that I know has been stalking through the area. Once I get the general hang of using its various functions, I will move it to other areas that I have been interested in monitoring for deer movements.

Perhaps most exciting is that this technology is an excellent entry point to get kids interested in the outdoors. Kids can not only be involved in the review of the captured photos and the identification of the various animals but also in finding areas to set-up the cameras for maximum returns of 4 legged critters. It would be a fascinating educational project for kids to undertake building their own cameras, trail timers, etc. and using them to track and monitor deer movements.

The internal memory that comes with the camera is a joke. Buy a 4Gig SD or SDHC Card for it immediately. They only cost $13.00 at Sam’s club and will hold over 4000 pictures. I bought two so that when I hike out to check the camera, I pop in the empty card and take the used one back home to read on my computer. If your computer doesn’t have a build in SD reader (like my Macbook) WalMart for $9.00 sell a SD card reader that works with your USB drive. I tried it with my memory cards and it works great! Having the extra memory also means you can set your camera to take enhanced level photos and high-resolution video with no worries about running out of storage space.

Moultire Game Cameras maintains a blog that can be found here: http://growthehunt.typepad.com/grow_the_hunt/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ode to the Pee Bottle Part II


For more on this series please see part one to this post, Pee Bottle Part 1.

Like senior citizens attracted to McDonalds on an early Sunday morning, so to are hunters lured to the latest technological gadget promising to produce more game. For those sportsmen among us who have considered buying a certified hunting pee bottles from Cabelas or other big box store I only have to say, as Mr. T eloquently once stated, "I pity the fool". A man's pee bottle cannot be purchased off a shelf this is blasphemy! It must be fabricated and henceforth provided with its own individual personality.

When selecting your pee bottle, no single choice is more important than size. Yes, boys I hate to break it to you but size really does matter. Not only is it critical that your urinary urn be able to hold a significant quantity of fluid but the opening in said container should also be of "adequate" size. Show me a man who urinates into the diminutive opening in a plastic soda bottle and I will show you a man dying to be nicknamed "tiny". Guys my advice to you, lest you be forever taunted and stripped of your masculinity, select a container of no less than 32 ozs and a wide mouth opening that would make a porn star blush.

Choice of container is of course completely up to the individual. While there are many options to choose from sportsmen should take care to select a container that can take a fair amount of abuse. Nothing ends a hunt faster than having urine soaked clothing, except however for maybe a gunshot or gaping flesh wound. Now that Nalgene bottles have been scientifically proven unfit for holding fluids for human consumption why not convert them all to sanitary disposal units. They are made of Lexan and practically indestructible! After picking out an adequately sized "no more tears" plastic container, be sure to thoroughly inspect it for leaks and a tight fitting cap.

So the deer camp drunks at do not mistake your container as “Lemon” flavored Gatorade, be sure to clearly label your container to indicate it contains dangerous medical waste. I find a skull and cross bones is cool and also effectively gets the point across. While you are in a creative mood be sure to paint or use camo duct tape to cover your piss pot to cut down on its reflective abilities. Nothing scares deer faster than the shimmer of clear plastic, except for maybe a urine soaked deer stand, so plan accordingly.

Cleanliness is next to huntingness so every care should be taken to thoroughly wash out your pee bottle at least once per season. To eliminate the possibility of “overflow” issues you should also make sure to empty out your container after every trip to the stand location. Care should be taken when dumping said contents to not mistakenly pour them on your new hunting boots. However, it is VERY humorous to pour it on the stand locations, boots, etc. of your hunting partners. Just be warned that payback is a bitch. Lastly, never under any circumstances attempt a number two in your number one bottle.

I hope you enjoyed the article please leave a comment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ode to the Pee Bottle

Perched in my tree stand high above the forest floor, I have had hours and hours of time to think and contemplate new story ideas. As I ponder the plethora of articles written on hunting deer, there is certainly a significant challenge to write something different. Moon phases, the rut, rifle selection, camouflage patterns, cover scents, etc. all have been done a thousand times. What is an outdoor sports writer to do? To what desperate lengths will he sink to uncover new material? After an exhaustive review of my options and some deep soul searching, I have decide to challenge myself to write an article on the most understated and underappreciated piece of deer hunting equipment . . . the pee bottle. This is obviously meant to be humorous so please enjoy it as such and as usual don’t take anything I say to seriously!

Ode to the Pee Bottle Part I:
As the sun creeps slowly over the horizon, a heavy frost retreats from the cattail lined swamp. Sitting in my deer stand, I have a front row seat to the awakening of a beautiful new day. As I silently reflect on all of the other sunrises I have enjoyed over my lifetime, a sudden and unexpected shiver runs down my spine. Is it caused by the penetrating pre-dawn cold, the distant crunching of frozen leaves or perhaps a breath of wind blowing through a chink in my armor of winter clothing? No, it is the calling of that most basic of human bodily functions, angrily provoked by an entire pot of morning coffee.

Frantically digging through my gear, I am struck by panic. Further exploration into the depth of my backpack only justifies my fears, I had forgotten to pack that most valuable of deer hunting hardware, the pee bottle. As my molars put up sand bags and tonsils sing out a chorus of anchors away, my bladder swells to the breaking point! In this instant of pain and suffering, I am momentarily distracted by a distant memory from a simpler time.

80s big hair band Cinderella once sang a ballad entitled "Don't know what you got till its gone", as I began humming that infectious melody, I come to the sudden realization that there remained one final pocket I had failed to search. Fumbling for the zipper, a golden moment of Zen is attained when the contents are revealed to be an empty 32 oz, large mouth Gatorade bottle. It is at times like these, that it is easy to validate a pee bottles importance as second only to your rifle and possibly bullets.

For More Read the Completion of the Series Pee Bottle Part 2.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trapping Season Ends

Despite the fact that I can hear coyotes howling in the distance, trapping season for me is done for the season. It was certainly a learning process this year trying to remember all of the details surrounding the management of a trap line, details that seemed so much clearer in my youth. Time was a critical factor and as I added duck and deer season to the equation, I began to realize that it would be impossible for me to do all tasks well and sadly eventually something was going to fall through the cracks.

Rather than continue to let things slowly deteriorate into chaos, I opted to quit while I was behind and pulled the entire line after only a week and a half of the trapping season had expired. To say I was a little disappointed about the whole thing would be a bit of an understatement. Somehow all of the pieces just didn’t want to line up for me in this endeavor and I am unsure where to go from here. Perhaps a year of mulling over this past seasons mistakes and successes will help me decide if I continue to pursue furbearers.

I hate to end things on a negative note, so I did leave a single trap out in the woods only a few hundred yards from the house. Imagine my surprise, when I checked it the other morning and found that it contained a raccoon. While not a huge specimen at 17 lbs (they max at around 30 lbs) and 31 inches nose to tail I was still fairly excited. Fleshed out and now on the skinning board, it looks great and with the tanning supplies I ordered I hope to have it hanging on the wall before Christmas.

On a side note, I had excellent luck ordering trapping supplies online at http://www.trapandtrail.com. Items came wrapped safely packaged and the order included a hand written note thanking me for my purchase. If anyone needs supplies and are having problems securing items locally I suggest giving them a try.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Deer Hunting

*Photo on the left is from the 2008 hunting season.
I am just coming off a week long deer hunting bender. Early mornings and late evenings have me physically exhausted but mentally refreshed. My head hurts, lips are badly chapped and back feels like it should if I was a man twice my age BUT I am still excited to get back into the woods on Veterans Day.

It was an interesting opener with my neighbor elated about shooting his first deer and does constantly moving through the area with reckless abandon. I had several shot opportunities on does but do not carry the mandatory doe tag. Of course that has been a benefit this year, as I had wanted to shoot a deer I could mount and then take to the taxidermist. LOL!

Last week, central Maine saw its first tracking snow (4-inches) in more than 10 years during rifle season. Deer hunters across the state proceeded to make every excuse possible to call in sick to work. Not a single access road, in all of central Maine, didn’t have a vehicle or two parked at its opening. Unfortunately, with all of the hunters in the woods the deer shutdown and I was only able to find one single track all day. The big boys seemed to disappear, knowing something was amiss and evacuating to all the good hiding places.

Sitting here Sunday afternoon, I still note the slight odor of doe urine. Perhaps its just my imagination or perhaps I really do reek! Need to wash clothes and reorganize so I can get back out there next week . . . take care, shoot straight and be safe!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Complete WildFowler


The Duckman turned me on to this Virtual Book, now I can't put it down!

The Complete WildFowler

Of course now I want to build a rock blind fortress (P. 64) and put inside it a permanently mounted punt gun in 8 gauge! Ahhh, the good old days of lead shot and lawless duck hunting. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

7th Article Published!!

The Maine Sportsman - New England's Largest Outdoor Publication – Will be publishing my 7th story in their November 2009 edition (Pg. 24-25). The article will be part of the magazines “special sections” and highlight hunting whitetails. While there was no picture published with my article, the picture I submitted is included in the blog article. The picture is of that old curmudgeon Lenny wearing his "Don't Shoot I am A Man" vest and hauling out his puny buck. For more information on the Maine Sportsman Magazine or to order a subscription click this link: http://mainesportsman.com. The article below is the originally submitted unedited version. Enjoy!
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Managing the After the Shot Workload
by Steve Vose

There is a saying that claims only two types of motorcycle riders exist – those who have had an accident and those who are going to have one sooner or later. The same basic premise can be said about deer hunters who consistently shoot deer: There are folks who have wounded deer and those who are going to wound deer.

This isn’t to say hunters can’t tip the odds in their favor by knowing their chosen firearm and only taking decent shot opportunities. Unfortunately, fate dictates that sooner or later, some unforeseen event will occur, causing a shot to be untrue, resulting in a wounded deer. When this regrettable event occurs, being unprepared exacerbates the problem, often leading to an animal suffering an agonizing death.

This mindset isn’t meant to discourage but rather educate hunters to the possibility that things may not always go as planned. When the unfortunate occurs, veteran sportsmen know that preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is an effective means of increasing their chances of locating a wounded animal.

Know Your Physical Limits
Tracking a wounded animal, field dressing and dragging is an extremely labor intensive activity. More fatal sportsman heart attacks occur during this critical period than any other. Protect yourself by being honest with your physical abilities. Never be too proud to admit your limitations and accept assistance. If your physical shape is lacking, consider starting an exercise routine in the preseason. Incorporating a small amount of moderate exercise into your normal day-to-day routine will make your time outside chasing whitetails safer and more enjoyable.

Exit Plan
During preseason scouting missions and by studying area maps develop a basic understanding of your hunting location(s) closest extraction points. Should you shoot a deer and tracking it become necessary, possessing an intimate knowledge of the roads, ATV trails and waterways will assist you in designing an exit plan, regardless of where your deer is ultimately found. This forethought will assist you in getting your deer out of the woods faster and with less effort.

Weather Forecast
Before heading into the woods be sure to check your local weather forecast. Knowledge of the predicted weather will assist you in designing a game plan should you need to track a wounded animal. If precipitation is falling or predicted to occur in the immediate future, it may be best to locate a wounded animal as soon as possible rather than waiting. Rain and heavy snowfall can quickly make a blood trail evaporate. When faced with difficult tracking situations, it is helpful to think out of the box and employ alternate strategies for locating wounded animals.

One drab November evening heavy rain hindered my ability to locate a shot deer. While I was confident that the hit was relatively good, I was having great difficulty following the diminutive blood trail in the pouring rain. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I lost the trail completely. Returning early the next morning, I crept quietly into the woods and sat on a stump at the last point blood was found. Half an hour later, I could see crows circling about 200 yards away. Walking over to the area, I immediately located the downed doe. The crafty and wise eye of the crow directed me to the lost animal.

Critical Steps After the Shot
Keeping a cool head after pulling the trigger is easier said than done. The excitement and pumping adrenaline can make even the most seasoned deer hunter lose concentration. Despite these distractions, you need to be able to answer two critical questions after pulling the trigger. How did the deer react when the shot was fired and by looking and listening where did it go? Your ability to answer these two basic questions accurately, will determine your success in finding your deer.

The waiting game is difficult when anxiety is high but unless the deer is clearly dead wait a minimum of thirty minutes before moving. If not hunting from a distinctly obvious stand or blind location, mark the point where you made your initial shot with a piece of flagging tape. This visual clue will allow you to recreate the shooting scenario should you be unable to find a blood trail. Take a compass bearing to insure you know the exact line leading to where the deer was shot and a second reading in the general direction the deer was moving after the shot was fired. Before you begin tracking be aware of your location. Following a wounded deer can be a frustrating and confusing experience that can quickly lead to getting lost.

Even when a deer falls where it is shot, placing the cross hairs on a fallen deer and preparing for the possibility of a follow-up shot does no harm. If the original shot is found to be poor and the deer gets up it can be immediately dispatched. This practice was put to good use one late November, when after several minutes a small buck I had unknowingly hit ineffectively stumbled to its feet and began slowly walking out of the shooting lane. An immediate second round halted his retreat. Had I not been prepared for the second shot, I may have spent hours tracking or even worse lost him.

Indicators
Blood, hair and even bone fragments at the impact site all contain clues that will assist you in determining the quality of the placed shot. Note where blood is found and examine the color and approximate amount. If little or no blood is found, it has a dark red hue, odor or contains vegetable matter (indicators of a gut shot animal) wait two or three hours before attempting to follow a blood trail. This time will allow the animal to settle down, bleed out and die ultimately providing for recovery in a smaller search area. Crimson red blood that quickly disappears can also be a negative sign indicating the animal may have been shot in a non-vital muscular area.

Regardless of the amount of blood found every effort should be undertaken to find a possibly injured animal. Even no blood could ultimately reveal a critically shot animal. Deer are extremely resilient but eventually even the strongest will succumb to the trauma inflicted by a gunshot of sufficient caliber.

Critically shot deer will continue with basic patterns of behavior, tending to follow contour lines, favoring downhill travel and gravitating toward water. When determining course of travel, blood droplets leave small “fingers” that point in the direction the wounded deer is moving. Conducting wide sweeping arcs can assist a hunter in finding tracks, broken branches, hair and other indicators. If a deer is thought to have fallen in a relatively small area, it is effective to use your compass to run a grid shaped search pattern, marking your search lines with orange flagging tape.

Leave or Extract
Fading light or the need for additional assistance may require you to leave your trophy in the woods overnight. To discourage predation, the most viable option is to hang the carcass four feet off the ground. Getting the deer to this height requires a suitable tree, heavy rope and a good deal of muscle strength. In areas of relatively low predation you may be able to get away with leaving the deer on the ground, covering with your coat liner, debris and urinating nearby. The combination of the sweat and urine should discourage four legged predators and the hasty covering the winged assailants. Before leaving, mark the area with plenty of flagging tape, note on your map and lock in the GPS coordinates.

You may have seen individuals carrying deer out of the woods on their backs in the movies but even a small deer makes this an impossibility and carried in this fashion is a good way to get shot. Best to keep your deer on the ground and let the movie stars do the heavy lifting.

If hunting from a specific location during the preseason, I leave a plastic kid sled, rope and bungee chords in a readily accessible location. When a deer is shot, retrieving these supplies is easily accomplished and the dragging made exponentially easier. Whatever option you choose be sure to tie up the animal so it doesn't fetch or fall off the device at an inopportune moment. A shoulder strap for your firearm or a backpack capable of carrying it leaves your hands free to facilitate this process.

Conclusion
Becoming better hunters should be a goal that we all strive to obtain. While the harvesting of game animals is not always a perfect process a sportsman’s ability to rise above adversity and challenges is what makes an average hunter superior. This season before pulling the trigger make sure that you are properly prepared and you are likely to find that it will make for a much more enjoyable and safer experience after the shot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Duck Season's Story Continues

Lacking any degree of organization, I threw into the portaboat decoys, tents, food, dog, oars, guns, sleeping bags, life vests, stove, Coleman fuel, shells, waders, gas tank, extra clothes and of course the honorable Mr. President. The quick trip to "opening day island" was highlighted by yet another impressive year of fall foliage. The reflection of colors off the stillness of the late evening lake surface, were nothing short of dramatic. Motoring the boat down the lake, I felt a calm wash over me like all of the troubles in the world were slowly slipping away the further I got from the boat landing. Ahh I thought, maybe there is something meditative to this hunting thing.

Of course the calm didn't last long. As always, I had been up to my usual hi jinx and I could tell that the honorable president was on red alert status. After the "wader incident", he was anticipating the proverbial "dropping of the other shoe" and knew that my antics were far from over. Fortunately for his nerves, he didn't have to wait long.

As is typical of my culinary "style", I like things HOT! No folks I don't mean "spicy", I mean get me a fire extinguisher while I am sitting on the toilet praying for the ice cream to exit atomically HOT. Unfortunately for the Duckman, he likes things "mild". After plying the old President with a little bit of white wine, I handed him a bowl of Chili Con Carnage and hoped he would manage to get it all in his gullet before the Styrofoam bowl melted. With a few "Damn that's hot!", four "Gack, I need a cracker!" and a final "Anymore wine left?" the bowl was emptied . . . I now needed only wait for morning and the fun to begin.

As the President drifted off to dreamland, I wondered if perhaps I had been cruel? Nah, I though! After all, I had provided him with the dogs favorite pillow . . . errr wait a minute isn't Duckman deathly allergic to K9s?

For more on the Duckman's drippy nose, watery eyes and generally poor health check out his blog posting "Game Time".

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bow Deer

Here I sit awaiting the arrival of the original hunter, the man of wool, Maine fishing guide and exhaulted leader of the family clan . . . my Dad. with archery season now in full swing not even pouring rain will stop the dedicated (perhaps foolish) from investing time trying to stick a whitetail. Make no mistake about the precipitation, it is currently raining cats and dogs! I let out a muffled chuckle as I layer on the rain gear as I know that even wrapped in plastic I have no hope of staying dry. My watch indicates that his imminent arrival approaches . . .

Friday, October 23, 2009

Video of Daddy's First Male Wood Duck!

video

Video from the waterfowl opener. I managed to shoot my first Male Wood Duck and within a 1/2 hour later I had shot a second! I won't even mention that the Duckman showed up a day later and there wasn't a Wood Duck to be found for MILES! ;-) Duck one is now sitting at the taxidermist shop and duck two was slow roasted over an open campfire . . . God I love hunting season!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Summer's Last Salad

The greatly anticipated arrival of October 5th, thankfully brought about the end of my 2009 gardening season. It had been a long summer (did we have a summer??) of rain, rain and yet more rain that only succeeded in bringing destruction to almost every variety of vegetable struggling to get a foothold in my swampy soil. No cucumber, carrot, tomato, pole bean, pea or pepper was spared by Mother Nature’s wrath and they all suffered equally. Thankfully, we still have supermarkets because otherwise there would be widespread famine at the homestead.

All in all the great "first in a long, long time" garden experiment succeeded, as my primary goal had been for the lil ones to plant, pick and eat their own food and be involved in every step of the process. Within the gray folds of my brain are now stored hours and hours of happy memories of the lil ones picking green beans, peas, tomatoes and pulling carrots. When someday my memory fails, digital means additionally managed to capture video and dozens of photos that will make me smile for years to come.

Rather than go into a rant about how little was collected over the course of the gardening season, let me instead tell you how incredible it was to eat the last fresh salad of the season. Salad ingredients . . . two green peppers the size of a baby's fist, 3 onions the size of a quarter, 4 small heads of broccoli, 8 carrots the size of your thumb, two cherry sized tomatoes and lastly a dozen small lettuce leaves. Ummm, how fantastic to eat something made of fresh ingredients that your planted and tended. The smells are so much stronger and the tastes so much more complex and interesting . . . I can almost taste the MUD. :)

So while the year was difficult, it certainly hasn't discouraged me from trying it all again next season!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Field Hunting For Geese


Sunrise shot taken from a hunting trip two weeks ago field shooting for Canada Geese. While we didn't manage to trick any flocks into range, the colors from the sunrise were absolutely spectacular. Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How do you define Delicious?

Still suffering from the nuclear fall out from the previous nights battle with the four alarm chili con carnage and 1/2 a box of white wine, the Duckman diplomatically suggested that we try a less "atomically fueled and intoxicating" dinner menu. His instructions were simple. Get me some bacon, skewers and pineapple chunks . . . grinning he added . . . hold the alcohol! With my official orders in hand, I was off to the market! Within a few hours, I had completed the required tasks and preparations and with cooler in hand had driven back to duck hunting headquarters.

At the boat landing several more cars were parked than earlier and I could tell that Duckman had been waiting at the busy ramp for quite awhile. He inquired about my rather unimpressive judgement of time. Not one to blantantly lie to the honorable President I explained, with my tail between my legs, that I had been "napping" and had misjudged the agreed upon time. Not in his nature to administer an outright tougue lashing for such a breech in duck hunting ettiquette, Mr. President instead provide me with a lecture on all of the exponentially useful things he had done while I was exploring dream land. Dry wood had been piled, ducks had been cleaned, decoy lines and weights had been inspected, the campsite had been re-organized and more hunting had even been done. When I inquired if he had napped even a little, I was informed that he would get plenty of sleep when he was dead.

After an afternoon hunt filled with missed opportunity, our stomachs finally won out against our desires to shoot more ducks. Returning to the campsite we started the fire and then began the process of wrapping teal, wood duck, mallard, ring neck breasts and deer steaks in bacon and skewering them along side pineapple chunks, red pepper and mushrooms. Leave it to the honorable President of Duck Power Incorporated to come up with a culinary masterpiece that would rival the likes of Bobby Flay. To say the meal was fit for a king would do this culinary experience a diservice . . . if delicious could be rated as a 10 this meal was an 11! Some things just taste better when enjoyed in the great outdoors and in the company of good friends!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trapping Season Begins

The initial traps are in, so now the waiting game begins. I managed to set 6 #2 Bridger traps this morning and plan to add a few more each day until I reach a total of 10. I figure with all my other pursuits, this number is about all I can effectively manage.

Except for the first set, that I had to revisit because I neglected to stake it down . . . sigh . . . everything went fairly well. Pencil that one into the experience notebook!! After that initial fiasco, the old muscle memory kicked in and the remaining sets went well. Once I got a rhythm going, thing got easier and I was able to move faster and with more efficiency through the remaining sets.

Traps were secured with a variety of grapples and staking systems based on the quality of the soil. Areas with a sandy or swampy consistency, where a stake wouldn't hold, I added a two prong grapple about a big as your hand and with approximately four feet of chain.

Obviously very excited about tomorrow morning, as fresh fox tracks and the howling of distant coyotes over the past several evenings have got my blood boiling!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mr. President's NEW Waders

If we all have a role to play, then I am surely the anointed comedian or humorist of Duck Power Incorporated. Perhaps it is no coincidence that 100 years ago this role would have been more aptly named court jester or simply "fool". Because of this unnatural dysfunction, I am always devising inventive and interesting ways to harass and pester my duck hunting brethren. Of particular note, is the great wader debacle of the 2009 waterfowl opener.

Mr. President had arrived at my house carrying a sizeable rectangular package, reeking of silicone and with the words "Cabela's" stenciled across the front. With a titanic size smile, he proudly announced to me, as well as most of my neighborhood, "My new waders!!"

In the interest of time, I was instructed to open the package and have the waders ready for him to wear before he returned from "dropping the kids off at the pool". Not wanting to miss such a valuable opportunity to "assist" the President, I immediately went to work replacing his new space age neoprene 1600 waders with my old, beat-up and muddy 10 year old antiques.

With eager anticipation, I awaited Mr. Presidents return. As he opened the box, I could see his smile slightly waiver. Despite his very best efforts he appeared, a very out of character, rattled. I boldly blazed forward with comments about shipping miscalculations and the accidental delivery of sub par second hand merchandise. I even unabashedly stated, that at the very least they could have washed the mud off before shipping.

With a concerned half smile, Mr. President brushed off my barrage of derogatory remarks and attempted to defend his "new" waders. I believe he even stated that the mud covering them was some new high tech camouflaging method. Finally, I could hold it together no longer and laughing like a lunatic proceeded to haul the Presidents waders out of their hiding place. Mr. President breathed a slight sigh of relief but not a single chuckle escaped his pursed lips. Instead I received that most disapproving of looks and a simple . . . "Not cool!"

Please stop by "The Downeast Duck Hunter's Blog" for what can only be described as an alternate perspective on an already shaky set of truths!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fowl Humor

Since its Duck Season I thought this Joke Fitting.
This guy is hunting a swampy puddle with his dog and being watched by an Outah State hunter. The guy says a couple directions to the dog and the dog takes off and a short while later comes back. Once the dog returns it holds up a paw and the guy heads down into the woods, fires off a few rounds and returns with a couple nice ducks.

The Outah Statah walks over and asks what in hell is going on. The guy says that the dog is trained to run into the swamp and report back how many ducks are present by holding up his paw and with the correct number of digits.

The Outah Statah is amazed by this behavior and asks to buy the dog. The guy finally relents to the huge sum of money and lets the dog go. A couple days later the Outah Statah calls the guy and says that the dog isn’t doing what he asked. All the dog will do is run down in the swamp, grab a stick and come back and hump the Outah Statah’s leg. Well, the guy says, what the dog is trying to tell you is that there are more FN ducks down there than you can shake a stick at.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I am on the Field and Stream Website!

ENTER YOUR FISH AND IF IT MEETS THE MIN. SIZE REQUIREMENTS YOU GET A COOL PIN!

http://www.fieldandstream.com/fishing_contest

We arrived on the ice that morning with ambitions of catching a pike that would prove to be a new state record or at least make a trip to the taxidermist mandatory. The predicted temperatures were to remain in the upper teens but a fierce wind had considerably dropped that estimation. Despite being dressed in multiple layers, the feeling was beginning to crawl out of my extremities and my teeth were chattering. What was suppose to be a relaxing day of ice fishing with family and friends was quickly losing its attraction and by 1:30 I was counting the minutes until the designated quitting time of 2:00 PM.

Suddenly the familiar yell of “flag” snapped me from my meditative state, my excitement reaching a crescendo when I realized that my tip-up had been sprung. Upon arriving, I was shocked to find that every bit of line had been stripped off the reel and the trap was bouncing in the hole. I managed to bring in ten yards of backer line when the fish turned and ran out all but a couple inches. This dance continued for a quarter of an hour until on one retrieve I noted the massive head of a northern pike slide by the hole. Not wanting to risk another run into the abyss, I maneuvered the fish’s head into the hole and drove my arm down to the elbow, pinning the leviathan against the side. Sliding my hand into the gills and pulling up with one quick motion the fish was tossed onto the ice and the monster was mine.

For the hunter angler there is no greater prey than that most stealthy and voracious of fish the ultimate predator the Northern Pike. Physically powerful and mentally crafty these leviathans of the underwater world are the ultimate sportsman trophies. Anyone who has been lucky enough to hook, wrangle and capture one of these magnificent creatures can attest that catching one is the experience of a lifetime.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Waterfowl Opener

The 2009 waterfowl season opened with an explosive start with me (after a 6 year pursuit) finally managing to shoot my first male Wood duck. As is a common, if perhaps a bit perverse, saying among these parts . . . I was so excited that I mounted that duck and then took it to the taxidermist!! In approximately 90 day I should be able to post photos of my first commissioned work of dead animal art. (Side note: On 10/10 I managed to shoot a female Wood duck and so am now sending the second duck to the taxidermist for a double mount of the pair in flight.)

What was amazing about the opener was that I finished the morning gunnin' with a second (first) Wood duck minutes before the designated end of morning shooting. Onyx (labrabor extrodinare) managed a retrieve on my first duck but the second crash landed well out of her manageable retrieve range of about 100 yards. The old girl is more house dog than duck dog but hell it never seems to interfere with our good time!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Phun with PhotoShop

I was recently asked to take the following photo and replace the fly rod in the hands of the sportsman in the front of the canoe with a rifle. With a little bit of cutting, pasting and erasing I was able to edit the photo and place a 30-30 Marlin into the hands of the guy in the front of the canoe. As an interesting side not the image of the 30-30 was a drink stirrer I found at "camp" photographed and them edited down to size.

Photograph Before Editing



Photograph After Editing

Goose Hunting

Here I sit thumbing away on my BlackBerry and staring out into the inky blackness of an early October morning. Wind is driving a steady rain against the window and tiny rivlets race down the glass like they are in a hurry to get someplace. Well at 4:30 am I was also in a hurry to get someplace but Mother Nature had other plans.

My neighbor had secured permission to hunt a farm field that had geese piling into it every morning at percisley dawn. For the waterfowl hunter, there are few greater sights than the heavy slow wing beats of a goose landing in a field spread. So, needless to say, I was anticipating this adventure with much bravado.

The back of the truck is completely full of goose shells, full bodies and floaters. The Franchi and a case of BB 3 inch 12g ammo are in the cab and I am wrapped head to toe in Max 4. Why the rain decided to start AFTER I got dressed and packed the truck is one of those little mysteries beyond the scope of modern man's understanding.

Sure, sure I know what you are all saying . . . don't geese fly in the rain? Well, of course they do! However, hunting is more than shooting a few geese and getting soaked, cold and miserable in the process. It is about the enjoyment of the event in its totality. I am not rushing this event just to say it is completed but instead savoring. The geese will be there tomorrow, the next day and the next. Patience will bless me with a day a field filled with clear skies where the only precipitation will be geese raining from the sky!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

6th Article Published!!

The Maine Sportsman - New England's Largest Outdoor Publication – Will be publishing my 6th story in their October 2009 edition (Pg. 41-43). The article will be part of the magazines “special sections” and highlight hunting whitetails. The introductory picture for the article is my Mom (Kathy Lloyd). 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!
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Deer Hunting with Average Joe Sportsman
By Stephen Vose
Deer-Hunting - October 2009

My neighbor Joe is the type of friend everyone wants. He is jovial, kind and an all around great guy. Joe works as a self-employed carpenter and he and his wife operate a small vegetable stand. His century old farmhouse and decade old pick-up always seem to be in need of some degree of repair, a challenge Joe always embraces with vim and vigor. Joe’s two active teenagers are involved in a laundry list of academic and sporting activities and he always manages to attend their various functions. In essence, my friend Joe is a fairly average guy who works extremely hard to support his family. Joe’s family is appreciative of his hard work and understands that all he asks for in return is a few Saturdays in November to go deer hunting.

For the average among us we certainly understand Joe’s plight and can sympathize. Work and home commitments, generally combine for many of us to severely limit the amount of time we are able to spend in the woods and on the waters of this great state. The basic facts are that time is not on the side of the average sportsman. Despite all the obligations and responsibilities, how does the average Joe Sportsman find the time to hunt?

Maximize Available Time
There is a reason why 10% of the sportsmen shoot 90% of the deer. The consistently successful, tip the odds in their favor by investing serious amounts of time pursuing their query. While preparation is vital to success, it is also typically a huge time drain. Despite this fact, hunters can still dramatically increase their chances without investing huge amounts of time. By prioritizing important tasks and concentrating on basic skills, you are almost guaranteed to shoot a whitetail this season and save precious time in the process.

Microscout – Identifying Key Areas
Like its counterpart the microwave, a technology that vastly decreases cooking time, microscouting is a means of using available technologies to explore deer habitats, drastically decreasing scouting time.
Maine’s landscape is filled with prime deer habitats within minutes of our urban centers. Checking maps and identifying key areas offering shelter, water and food simplify finding these hidden spots. Exploring promising locations with your eyes rather than your feet is a huge time saver. The trick to maximizing your time is to use the correct tool for the intended task. The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer is an excellent resource for rough estimation of general hunting areas but it does not provide the detail needed for effective visual scouting. Area specific topographical maps and Internet mapping resources such as Google Earth provide a higher level of clarity, allowing sportsmen to easily scan possible hunting areas.

Pick two or three hunting areas, no more than thirty minutes from your house. The idea is to choose locations that can be hunted regularly and accessed easily when your busy schedule allows. Hunters having difficulty finding un-posted hunting areas should consider one of Maine’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). A listing of these areas can be found on the Internet via Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website.

In May, consider combining your scouting with a spring turkey hunt to maximize your woods time. Invest a couple hours scouting and exploring your chosen spots paying attention to posted signs and securing landowner permission where applicable.

Conduct hasty searches of each area looking for sign (scat, scrapes and rubs) kept preserved during the winter. Look for places to hang a stand or stalking routes. If searches do not yield viable sign or effective set-up locations quickly move on to your next chosen spot. By the end of your survey work, pick a primary and alternate spot should hunting pressure forces you out of your initial location or a once open area become posted.
As the season opener approaches, game cameras are an expensive yet efficient means of gaining information about deer movements without the investment of additional scouting time.

ATVs allow for quick scouting of areas you wish to hunt. During the season they will get you where you want to go much faster than sneaker power. If you do not have an ATV, consider hunting locations within walking or a few minutes of driving distance from your residence. If no prime hunting locations are close at hand consider areas that may be between your house and work. You may be able to access these areas and squeeze in additional hunting time before or after work.

Microprep - Prioritize
Early fall invest an hour with the firearm you intend to use during the season. Become reacquainted with your gun and practice shooting in various scenarios. The idea behind this exercise is to gain confidence and insure you are hitting exactly where you are aiming. It never fails that every season I take family and friends hunting who insure me their firearms are “tack drivers”. One trip to the range often reveals a completely different story. Don’t risk wounding an animal and wasting your precious time with a firearm that has not been properly calibrated and tested!

If the sighting system is off even a little invest the time in fine-tuning your set-up. In the heat of the moment, you will never remember that your firearm was shooting low and to the left and requires a “minor” correction. For additional consistent accuracy, practice and hunt with one brand and grain weight of bullet. If you are comfortable with your firearm and pressed for time put two in the bull and go home.

Hunters in a hurry will want to consider using ground blinds rather than deer stands. Blinds offer portability and don’t require the additional set-up time and maintenance that deer ladder stands require. A blinds ability to protect against inclement weather will add to your all day comfort, making it possible to hunt longer when you have the time available.

Pack for Maine’s unpredictable weather to maximize any day you are able to spend in the woods. Nothing is worse than having a free day to hunt only to be forced to go home early because you neglected to pack a rain jacket or warm weather gear. Big deer travel at all times of the day, so if you have a complete day to spend in the woods bring your lunch, a book and plan on staying sunrise to sunset.

Making the correct deer sounding inflections is not a difficult undertaking but it does require an investment of time. Shorten the learning curve by buying an electronic game call. These devices provide sportsman a means of instantly creating these elusive sounds without spending any time in preparation.

Make Friends
Joe’s busy schedule balancing work and family provides him little time to go into the woods and scout for prime whitetail habitats. Instead he must rely on others to provide the necessary information. Sometimes this information is useful but often times it is not. To be successful, you must align yourself with reliable hunting friends who possess an extensive knowledge of the outdoors. Most sportsmen are willing to bend over backwards to assist even perfect strangers but finding these individuals isn’t always easy. Maine has a high number of quality sportsmen groups and clubs, joining one or several is a great way to meet individuals with similar interests and build friendships.

Hire a Registered Maine Guide
If you are limited on time, consider hiring a guide to assist you in your deer hunting. Guides are able to build a huge database of information concerning deer and deer behavior. The nature of their profession requires them to spend a huge amount of time studying deer throughout all seasons of the year. Consider these individuals a valuable resource and a great option to assist you in getting your deer this season.

Take Your Chances
If you are serious about shooting a whitetail, taking your chances should be your last ditch option. While many a deer has fallen to blind luck, it is typically an unrealistic believe that the average Joe will walk into the woods and harvest a trophy animal. On the off chance that you decide to roll the dice, it is typically a shot in the dark. I have been there and done that on many an occasion and the result is always invariably the same . . . an enjoyable fall afternoon spent walking around in the Maine woods with not a whitetail in sight.

Last Call
As the hunting seasons slip quickly by, it is an unfortunate occurrence that may of us do not have the time we would like to dedicate toward the woods and waters. In order to maximize our available time we need to learn to “work smarter not harder”. By using new technologies and creating beneficial friendships, we can build a future that includes more quality time pursuing the outdoor sports we love.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mr. President

I haven’t slept well in the last week as the opener of the 2010 waterfowl season approaches. My slumber is thwarted by vivid visions of triples and vibrant green heads falling to my expert marksmanship. Alas if only some dreams could echo a flicker of reality.

Perhaps even more nerve wracking than my mental fatigue from my fitful evenings is the physical exhaustion I am suffering as I prepare the estate for a visit from the Honorable Potentate and Grand Puba . . . the most admirable and exalted President of Duck Power Incorporated. Yes folks, none other than the DuckMan will be joining me for the 2009/10 waterfowl opener.

As is the expected appointment of any host, to the anointed president, it is my charge to insure that all necessary and unnecessary accouterments and accompaniments are prepared and accounted. This includes a laundry lists of events, activities and proceedings that must be completed with military precision.

As I await the arrival of Mr. President, I begin to go over the checklist to insure every detail no matter how small has been rightly accounted. I drill the children with the proper sounds made by Mallards, Teal and Wood Ducks and insure they are holding their popguns with the “dangerous end” pointing in a safe direction.

As I frantically begin to pull together the last minute details, I hear the distant sound of tires slowly rolling up a gravel driveway and know that Mr. President has arrived. Hurriedly, I grab for the camouflage (Max 4 Adv.) carpet and unfurl it to the door of Mr. President’s transport. I take a deep breath and wait for the inspection to begin. Wish me luck!!
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