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: The article below is the originally submitted unedited version. Enjoy!
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.

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.

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 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!


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: The copy below is the originally submitted unedited version. Enjoy!

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.
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