Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fourth Article PUBLISHED!


The Maine Sportsman - New England's Largest Outdoor Publication – Will be publishing my story written below in their February 2009 edition. The article will be part of the magazines “special sections” and highlight boating with small watercraft. 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!

Portable Boats Allow Access to Inaccessible by Steve Vose

Motoring to a favorite hunting spot, the north wind stirs a light chop as my excited Labrador retriever begins quickly pacing port to starboard. My smile widens as I reflect that these same antics would have had me anxiously chewing off my fingernails a year ago. After exclusively using canoes and kayaks as my primary method of transport for over a decade, my need for a motor driven watercraft finally hit critical mass. A turning point was reached with the added carrying capacity, stability, comfort, and decrease in muscle expenditure a small motor driven boat could provide. Suffering with a variety of lower back problems, a limited budget and lack of sufficient storage space I knew that my options would be restricted, however, I was determined to find a watercraft that would fit my specific needs.

Any sportsman knows that to be successful you need the right tool for the job. You don’t hunt deer with #8 shot shells and you typically don’t take a small boat out on the Atlantic. In choosing a small boat it is important to remember that only when used within their limitations are they safe. Careful attention must always be paid to a number of concerns including; maximum horsepower ratings, carrying capacities and anticipated weather conditions. Ignoring any of these details can prove life threatening.

Right Tool for the Job
To be an effective choice, your boat should be designed to fill a niche that strikes a perfect balance of portability, purpose and safety. In short, small enough to launch alone, transportable without a trailer, matched to your intended outdoor pursuit(s) and large enough to be stable in your chosen endeavors. Typically this means watercraft in the 12-14 foot range matched with a properly fitting gasoline or electric motor. In my situation, this meant picking a boat capable of handling a small 2-cycle motor, light enough for one person to wrestle into the back of a pick-up and possessing the ability to transport two duck hunters and their associated waterfowl gear within its recommended carrying capacity. Identifying the intended tasks was easy, identifying the appropriate tool proved a significant challenge.

Decisions, decisions, decisions
Looking at the enormous variety of small boats available can be staggering. To assist you in narrowing down the options lets take a look at a few of the boats currently on the market that I researched before arriving at my final decision. The Internet is a great way of checking out other makes and models beyond what I have listed below and will also assist you with finding second hand boat options.

Lund and StarCraft Marine both carry a several small boat options. Lund carries the A12-14 and StarCraft the “Sealite” series all within the 165 to 200 pound range. These V hull shaped boats are capable of carrying themselves though moderate waves. Lund and SeaCraft also carry several flat bottom “John boats” in the 80-140 lb range that draft very little water and are extremely useful in calm water conditions. All models are constructed of sturdy aluminum. Though heavier, V hulls are typically more stable and designed to cut through rough water while the lighter weight flat-bottomed “John Boats” are less stable and intended for use on calm waters.

Wooden and fiberglass scull floats are an interesting alternative that allow you to use either a small motor for speedy transport or a sculling oar to silently sneak up on unsuspecting waterfowl. Though significantly more expensive than other solutions the Brant II by Lock, Stock and Barrel is a solid choice and will easily transport two hunters and gear.

My search lead to a product build by Portaboat and after considerable thought, I decided on the company’s 12 foot model. The boat fit all of my specifications, could be purchased within my budget, weighed less than 100 lbs (meaning one person could load and unload it) and since it folded flat could be easily transported on a standard set of canoe racks. The boat is designed with a cathedral hull that creates a small air pocket under the craft and literally “sucks” it into the water making in extremely stable. Though the boat can effectively manage a maximum engine size of 5 hp the added weight of the larger engine gave me pause and I settled on a 3.5 hp 2-stroke Nissan engine with internal gas tank. With an empty weight of just 25 lbs the engine fit perfectly with the portability of the boat.

Accessories
As you settle into a choice of boat, you will understandably want to fine tune your craft for your specific outdoor pursuit. Have no fear that the choices of possible modification are many and varied. Anchor systems, padded seating, rod and cup holders, fish finders and even sailing kits are all great options to make your time a float more enjoyable.

Portaboats are even available in several colors, those who are inspired by duck hunting as much as I will understand there is no possible choice other than olive drab. A word of caution, this color scheme is extremely hot in the summer when you are fishing and those that do not need a camouflaged craft may want to consider white.

Pros and Cons
Owning a boat, I have learned that like most things in life there are trade offs. The 2-stroke engine allows me to access my intended destinations at a rate of speed vastly superior to paddle power, however a paddle rarely broke the idyllic morning silence. The inhalation of 2-cycle smoke seems to put a bit of a damper on the clean and refreshing pine scented spring air but that can be remedied by using an electric motor. Your friends will be leery at the prospects of setting foot in a small boat but if operated in a safe manner will be converted.

After 5 years of abuse my boat has held up extremely well and even with high levels of wear and tear it has yet to leak or show any signs of hull weakness. Its stability allows me to pull a 70 lb soaking wet Labrador up over the side or perform standing casts without worry of capsize. Drafting less than 7 inches it is perfect for getting into spots that would be unavailable to larger and heavier boats. The plastic construction is quite and scaring game less likely when you accidentally drop a shot shell or fishing pole.

Safety First
Always wear your life vest as it provides you no benefit being used as a seat cushion.

Be sure to leave notice of where you are and when you will be returning with someone and if necessary, be prepared to spend the night stranded in a location should weather or other factors prevent you from making it home.

Although I have braved the waters of the Atlantic in small watercraft, I did so under extraordinarily good conditions. I do not recommend ever taking a small boat onto large bodies of water unless you thoroughly understand the inherent dangers.

If you have ever felt the pain of backing a boat trailer down a mile of a remote skidder trail you will immediately understand that eliminating the need to trailer your small boat will greatly increase your confidence in accessing ever more challenging and remote areas. “Extend a Truck” carries a hitching system that increases the length of your tailgate and allowing you to carry boats in the truck bed with added support and safety.

Know that eventually you motor driven support will fail. When it does, a small “tool” kit that contains spare spark plug, pull rope, gas cap, shear pins, pliers, screwdriver and small tack hammer will be invaluable.

Oars and installed oarlocks can be a lifesaver. These devices have saved me on numerous occasions when my motor driven support has completely failed. They are also invaluable when navigating shallow or unfamiliar waters, around decoy lines and other hazards.

Lastly, to safe guard your wallet it will be much to your benefit to grab a copy of the Boating Laws and Rules from Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This free booklet provides a general overview of boating laws, horsepower restrictions, public launch locations and a variety of other helpful information.

Last Thoughts
Maine is filled with unexplored wilderness areas that typically see little or no traffic. These prime habitats often exist right in our backyards but due to lack of good boat launching sites remain inaccessible. Small lightweight boats offer a solution to this problem and when used correctly are perfect for accessing these areas. While my small boat has taken me everywhere from hunting sea ducks on the quiet bays and inlets of the Atlantic Ocean to fishing on rivers and lakes throughout New England it is much more at home on inaccessible small ponds and streams where it has allowed me to fish and hunt in geographically isolated areas that few sportsmen have even seen. So, what are you waiting for get out there and explore!

For more see the "Hunting and Fishing with Small Boats" teaser with porta-boat assembly video I blogged back in September.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Man VS Nature

Maybe I have flair for the melodramatic but then again isn’t that a trait shared by all writers? Enjoy!

In an epic early morning battle pitting man against nature, I was sorely defeated. Seemly well equipped with my grandfather‘s (Pup) razor sharp ice chipping spud my expectations were running high as I trudged into the woodlands and braved the wide gaping maw of Mother Nature with her claws made of icicles and teeth of rime ice.

Unfortunately the brutally cold early morning temps dipping into the negative digits made the chipping akin to attempting to hammer through concrete with a butter knife. While my torso was quickly a wash of sweat from my rhythmic thrashing and hammering my extremities were soon suffering. After about one and a half hours I had frozen fingers and toes and a Labrador that could easily be categorized as a pupsicle.

I knew I was finally done when a misplaced chip from the spud sliced through one of the brow tines causing minor damage but enough to encourage me to come back and challenge the ice another day.

Eight to twelve inches of snow are expected tomorrow so I marked the site as best I could considering the stark barren featureless nothingness that is a snow swept lake and have vowed to return!

Monday, January 26, 2009

10 pointer harvested this weekend!

Eat you heart out MOM! You may have shot a 10 pointer this season but I revel in the fact that you aren't the only one in this family dripping with trophy hunting prowess!

After reading an article on "Finding Sheds" early Sunday morning in this months edition of Field and Stream I got a little bit excited that this might make for a fun and interesting late afternoon snowshoe hike with the dog. The article stressed the importance of training your eye to look for and identify sheds. I had also heard that coyotes tend to find sheds and urinate on them therefore marking their location.

To make things interesting I followed several coyotes hunting in unison out in a remote section of woods. I followed the tracks for about 3 miles in the deep snow and was amazed at the number of partridge (4) and bunny (2) carcasses I uncovered.

As I neared the end of the hike I had to cross the expanse of a small pond. Out of the corner of my eye I noted what looked like a leg bone that a coyote had attempted to dig out of the ice. Upon closer inspection, it was a leg bone and while inspecting I saw something "out of place" off to my left highlighted in the days dying light. Horns (See the photo above for my first glimpse)? As I dug deeper and deeper into the snow I realized that it was the rack of what appeared to be a 10 pointer. Unfortunately, it wasn't a shed it was in fact a deer that through natural or unnatural causes had died . . . thereby escaping the trophy wall.

Through good fortune I had a small pack saw with me and with a little bit of effort I freed the one horn from the icy surface. The other horn is down there in the frozen depths and will be released shortly! Tune in for the literal other half of this story!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why Ice Fishing Sucks


A friend of mine sent me the following YouTube Video today titled Why Ice Fishing Sucks and I am still laughing . . . Enjoy!

While watching the above video another selection caught my eye titled How to Clean a Perch in 10 Seconds While it takes the guy in the video a little bit longer than 10 seconds to clean the yellow perch it is a very interesting and time saving way to clean these delicious little fish.

Take care, be safe and have a great time out there this weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bite the Bullet?

video
I had to post this humorous video a friend of mine sent me on the difficulties of hunting moose. Granted when it really is moose hunting season and you really do want to shoot a quality moose there is NEVER one around. If you are additionally interested in hearing about my moose story from a couple years ago check it out HERE.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fishy Background

Wanted to share this photo that is currently my computer desktop background. It was taken this past weekend while ice fishing for "trash" fish (Yellow Perch, Pickerel and Bass) on a local pond. Despite their description these three game fish are some of the best tasting fresh water species. Served deep fat fried or in a fish chowder they taste so good it will make you want to slap yourself!

Take Care and Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Woodenitbeverynice

As I walked out to the bait pile the other evening, in preparation of another evening of freezing my tail off without any sign of coyotes, my mind started to wander over the events of last several months. I honestly can't believe that the days are already getting longer and that the 2008 holiday season has so quickly becoming a distant memory.

Personally I have struggled over the last several week to maintain enough forward momentum to keep the family on track, work schedule focused, requested stories started down the publication path, blog updated, ice fishing, coyote hunting and helping my friend Chris start up his new blog . . . located at: http://www.woodenitbeverynice.com.

Well maybe I can just pray that things will calm down in the future . . . LOL! In the mean time if the praying fails to work, my question to all of you is when life's becomes so busy it is overpowering what "techniques" do you use to stay focused and less stressed because I am running out of things to shoot and burn.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter Camouflage Options

For more additional articles on winter camouflage options and hunting in the winter environment click HERE.

As I stumbled around the front yard (not intoxicated this time . . . kidding) last weekend my wife and kids peered out the front windows with that look that seemed to say “Well its official the old man has finally lost his damn mind!” My initial idea was to create a blog post that highlighted the importance of matching your camo clothing selection with your surroundings for optimal success while hunting. As I attempted to operate my camera my frozen digits refused to corporate. Finally struggling through dead batteries, full memory cards and a plethora of other annoying interruptions I finally managed a handful of shots.

I think for the most part the pictures speak for themselves. Included are my three favorites that I feel really highlight the importance of matching your camo to your surroundings. The Seclusion 3D winter pattern as pictured should be used in conjunction with shadows and dark mixed growth. Best application would be the edge or corner of a brush pile or alder thicket. Note how my all white gloves appear out of place and almost seem to glow in the Seclusion picture. Also, don't make the mistake of using this pattern against pine, spruce or other greenery as you will stick out like a sore thumb. The all white pattern should be reserved for open fields or lakes where there may be little or no cover as evident in the last photo.

The camo clothing pictured is Cabela’s Canadian Coverup (Jacket, Pants and Face Mask) in Seclusion 3D Winter. The interesting thing about the outfit is that it is semi reversible. What I mean to say is that the inner liner is white. This isn’t to say that this inner coating is super durable but in a situation where all white is needed it certainly is possible to use the all white interior to better blend into your surroundings.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Spoiled Rotten

A few posts back I had discussed the want and need to own a vest with the words "Don't Shoot I am a Man" on the back. Lacking both artistic abilities and motivation I figured that creating such a vest was beyond my expertise. The attached picture is proof that I am in fact completely spoiled rotten. Florescent orange Cabela's hunting vest I received for Christmas. Thanks Mom! :)
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