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!

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

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!
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