Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve Bobcat

I wanted to share a few pictures of a male bobcat I shot this morning at approximately 8:30 AM using my new Christmas present the Fox Pro Spitfire electronic game call. The bobcat weighed approximately 30 lbs and was a little more than 3 feet long from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. I had been using the "raspy woodpecker" on the 3-4 volume level when about an hour later he came slowly slinking in through the underbrush. One shot of 125 grain Remington core lokt from my XL7 Marlin in Springfield .30-06 dropped him cold. Taking him to the taxidermist tomorrow for a full body mount . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Make Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet

If you happen to be a fan of “Man vs Wild” you have no doubt watched Bear Grylls brave some of the most hostile landscapes in the world, in an all out effort to show the home viewers how to survive a variety of different and challenging environments. As he explains, in the shows introduction, he is to survive a week in a place you wouldn’t last a day without the proper survival training. From the jungles of Vietnam to the wasteland of the Arctic, Bear shows the home audience how to build shelter, gather food, find water and monopolize all available resources to survive. On these adventures, Bear takes minimal survival gear, typically including a canteen, knife, and if you look carefully on his wrist a Survival Bracelet. Constructed of 550 parachute cord and a D-anchor ring. This simple bracelet contains approximately 8 feet of useful cordage that can be used for everything from building shelters, rafts to fishing.

Making your own bracelet is simple and can be completed in about 1 hour. There are many patterns to choose from but click HERE for the one pictured above. Also, for another option this particular bracelet can be made without only the cordage and no additional hardware.

Rather just buy one check out this site: http://www.survivalstraps.com/

Impressive Coyote Picture

I can't say I am overly excited to see coyotes running all over the property. However, I am impressed with the quality of this photograph. This is by far the best “yote” photo that the cameras have managed to capture to date. It looks like a strange smell on the breeze may be catching its attention. Also note the time the photo was taken and the temperature.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Parachute Cord Duck Call Lanyard

So I assume at this point you have read “String Theory I ” and “String Theory II ” and are cursing my name. This is no doubt connected to the fact that you are slowly beginning to realize that a gear hauler need only be approximately 22 feet long. I assume you are puzzling your puzzler wondering what to do with the remaining 78 feet of cordage. I suppose you could give out several gear haulers to friends and family, as Christmas presents, BUT I doubt they will appreciate the effort and fine craftsmanship. Better to avoid that potentially embarrassing scenario and read on.

With your remaining parachute cord plus an investment of approximately 2-3 hours of time, you can make a $40.00 Duck Call Lanyard. The fun part about this project is that the possible modifications are endless. A quick Google search will yield many different weaving projects that can be made with parachute cord and a few other items, including dog leashes, survival bracelets (my next project), belts, etc. Here is a cool blog to check out outlining what is possible: http://paracord-projects.blogspot.com

For the Duck Call Lanyard two websites seemed to stand out as offering the best and most comprehensive set of instructions and photographs outlining the braiding process. The instructions and lanyard I made were found on the “Field and Stream” web site: HERE! I did find another set of instructions on “Duck Hunting Chat” that also looked interesting: HERE!

If you use the direction on the “Field and Stream” site, here are a few hints and suggestions that will make the project easier.

1. 14 ft. of interior line and 36 ft. of braiding cord is plenty to create this project. This also allows you to create two Duck Call Lanyards from one length of 100 ft. parachute cord.

2. Braiding to one side will create a DNA spiral like lanyard while alternating will make it flat like the one pictured. Depending on the style you want plan accordingly. If you choose to alternate make sure to pay close attention to what side you are on so as not to make a mistake. This is relatively easy IF you pay attention as you tie the knots.

3. The wrapped knot had me nervous because there were no good pictures and I wasn’t sure how to cut the ends. Looking online I found a picture (See left) and it worked great to cut the ending loop of cord in the middle. Having 6 inches remaining per side is good. I also used the wrapped knots to create two additional drop chords and I am pleased with the results.

I hope you enjoy the project, it really isn't as hard as it initially looks once you get started! If you have any questions be sure to drop me a line and I will try and offer you assistance. If you decide to tackle this project, be sure to e-mail me a picture of your "art work"!! Good luck!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!! Thanks to everyone for following, commenting and reading throughout this past year! It is your interest in my writing that ultimately drives me to continue to want to create . . . take care!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

String Theory (Part II)

Have you ever slowly and gingerly pulled your rifle up into a tree stand, only to let out a sigh of relief when it finally arrives safely to hand? If you have, then this posting is obviously for you. After years of searching for that silver bullet, miracle, super “string” my long journey is over and I must share my findings and introduce you to the world of the high tech gear hauler.

The Cadillac or perhaps better stated the Rolls-Royce of gear haulers is parachute cord. Much more than simply “string”, this kernmantle constructed dynamic rope is comprised of a 7-strand nylon core and rated with a tensile breaking strength of 550 lbs (insert male grunting here). These impressive attributes make parachute cord not only a sportsman's best friend but also tougher then the lips on a woodpecker.

Paracord is available from several different online sources and resides in every single military surplus store I have ever set foot in. For those looking to make a fashion statement or match their favorite hunting jacket, it comes in practically every color imaginable, including I believe invisible. Sportsmen not satisfied with the everyday standard 550 paracord, know commercially as type III, may invest in type IV having additional breaking strength up to a hefty 750 lbs. As if determined by divine providence, both type III and IV have enough strength to double as haul cord for pulling out a deer. Simply tie one end onto the massive rack, wrap the other end around a sturdy cut tree branch and your outta there faster than you can say hot steamin' buck seamen!

An investment of a thousand feet of parachute cord, will set you back about $45.00, providing you with enough gear hauling yardage to last until the day you die. If the spouse gives you a hard time about such an exorbitant purchase, repeat after me, “I have to buy that hun, you want me to be safe don't you?” This particular remark has no viable response and has on occasion allowed me to purchase everything from brand new rifles to 12 packs of thermal underwear. (HINT: You may want to be getting a pen and writing this down.)


Knots to Tie
In my previous life as a rock climber and mountaineer, few things were more important than good knots. Hanging a thousand feet off the ground, you must be absolutely confident the double fishermen, figure-eight, butterfly or clove hitch you just tied was done correctly and is the right knot for the intended job. Along those same lines, care must be taken to correctly tie the gear hauler first to your climbing stand and secondly to your firearm. If using a climber stand, cut cord to a length of 22 feet. This allows you to know when you have reached the desired stand height of around 20 feet and provides you enough cordage to tie the required knots. Burn any cut ends lightly with cigarette lighter to insure it won't fray. Use care to fuse the inner core with the outside sheath or they will later separate.

Fig 8 w/ Double Fisherman
The combination of a figure eight and double fishermen knot is highly effective. In other words, practically zero percent chance of failure. This end will be looped over an acceptable part of your climber and pulled up to the proper height as you climb the tree. If hunting out of a permanent ladder type stand the loop can be fastened to a tree branch or stand by using either the loop or by threading the end of the rope through the loop and creating a cinch around the arm rest. The cinch is much easier to untie with cold hands than a knot.

The other end of the gear hauler is of course attached to the firearm. Depending on the type and configuration of the firearm you carry (lever gun, bolt or semi automatic action, scoped, shotgun or having a sling) it will potentially be different.  Three over hand knots, a simple square knot or figure- eight with the back-up double fisherman are all equally effective depending on the situation. My favorite for lever guns is figure- eight with the back-up double fisherman. Where the pre-tied loop is brought through the lever and looped around the barrel, NOT through the trigger hole. Scoped guns have a smaller pinch point between the scope and the barrel and may not accept the larger diameter of parachord if tied in a knot and attempting the same hook-up.

Who hasn't pulled on their gear hauler, only to find it tangled around a tree root, branch or rifle. To combat this issue, after securing your rifle to the cordage, take a few seconds to check that as the gear hauling rope neatly coiled next to and not on top of your rifle and in an area that you have cleared of debris. As the rope unfurls, the end attached to the rifle should be on the bottom and NOT the top of the pile. This will ensure that the rope is played out from top to bottom and doesn’t “birds nest”, creating a knotted mess. Another school of thought, to avoid the worry of having to deal with the potential worry of jumbled cordage, is to hang your gear hauler off a sturdy tree branch or from the side of your ladder blind. (Note: If leaving it out for months at a time be watchful for damage caused by weather, UV, mice and abrasion.)

Lastly, what should always be firstly. Be sure to ALWAYS UNLOAD YOUR FIREARM before attempting to pull it into a tree!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

String Theory (Part I)

On occasion, I receive perverse pleasure in writing extensive volumes about the mundane or ordinary. Perhaps better said, it's my way of making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. This dysfunction is well reflected in my previous postings Ode to the Pee Bottle I and Ode to the Pee Bottle II. While some could argue a pee bottle is a critical piece of hunting paraphernalia, in the end, it is ultimately just a bottle into which you squirt urine. It is most likely not worth two blog posts and the approximately four hours and 1200 words it ultimately took to create. Ultimately, you may begin to see the method behind my madness and the fun challenge in picking topics that stretch you as a writer, forcing you to work hard, to create an interesting piece of literature from basically nothing. A friend of mine once said, “you can't make chicken $%&t out of chicken salad” BUT what I later came to realize is if you try hard enough, you may be able to add enough antiseptic, spices and mayonnaise to the chicken $%&t to trick someone into taking a bite. Henceforth and thereto, is the long and involved explanation that leads to my latest blog postings. Hours of time were invested on this particular writing project; most of it while perched high in a pine tree during October and November patiently waiting for that record book buck that never materialized. During those long hours of thoughtful reflection, a literary idea was born that eventually came to be known as “string theory”.

Where I do My Best Writing
Every year, thousands of sportsmen pile into the Maine woods to pursue one of the most noble and cunning of game species, the White Tailed Deer. When all is said and done, another November will again all to quickly slip past, ending the season for the rifle toting crew. Some hunters will leave the woods elated, having harvested the deer of a lifetime, others will leave frustrated, having made critical errors in judgment resulting in accidents. For the accident prone crew, a majority of these desperate scenarios, could have been prevented with adequate preparation and knowledge.

Preparation starts at looking over all of your gear to find weaknesses; loose scope mounts, frayed climbing harnesses, rusty gun triggers, leaky pee bottles, etc. No item or article in your hunting arsenal should be beyond close examination. Knowledge comes in understanding that deer hunting isn't about chasing bucks; it's really all about the latest and greatest in hunting equipment. Fancy new high power rifles, space age camouflage, ergonomic backpacks, light weight portable tree stands, thermal rated boots and on and on. What is shocking, is despite the lofty price tags endured to obtain these items, sportsmen still remain slipshod in the strangest of areas. These indiscretions, range from wearing cotton socks in thermal boots, buying crappy ammo for thousand dollar guns and not using a tree stand safety harness. Of all these sporting sins, one stands out as barely above forgivable, as it serves to not only protect you from getting potentially shot but can also save your firearm from a damaging fall.

Yes, readers it is my belief, that an entire deer season can hinge on that most unlikely and unassuming of equipment the gear hauler. Now don't pretend like you have no idea what I am talking about. You know the drill, walk to your deer stand, tie unloaded rifle to string (gear hauler), climb tree and finally pull on string (gear hauler) to lift rifle into tree. It may at first appear to be a relatively trivial piece of hunting equipment, however, this is where many make a critical error.

Every hunting season, I am amazed by the number of sportsman toting around equipment oozing hundred dollar bills, like Grandaddies vintage Winchester or latest synthetic, Leupold laden firearm, yet have no concern about lifting these heirlooms and investments 20 feet into a tree stand, using a badly frayed gear hauler closely resembling dental floss. Sure your Great Grandfather used to spin tall tales of how he once had to cut the waist band out of his underwear to fashion a gear hauler but do you really want to spend a long day in the woods with a dented rifle and saggy drawers? Now is the time for you to take action and throw out that old dilapidated string you have been calling a “gear hauler” and enter the 21st century.

The story continues Friday (10/16/2010) . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Basic Survival Kit

I received a few e-mails asking about what an "essentials" kit might look like. Basically a list of things you can't live without. To respond to these requests, here is a smaller "portable" kit recommended as a good place to start for those wanting a light weight option. After all the most important thing about carrying a survival kit is MAKING SURE YOU CARRY IT! Considering you dress in layers and are properly prepared for the anticipated weather, if used correctly, the kit contains enough items to pull you through all but the most desperate of conditions.

1. Spare Compass
2. Whistle
3. Lighter
4. Waterproof Matches
5. Space Blanket
6. Small Knife
7. Toilet Paper
6. Twenty Feet of Rope
7. Water Purifying Tablets
8. Four Packets of Hot Hands / Hot Toes
9. Small Right Hand of GI Joe - that my son wanted me to put in survival kit. Said it was an extra helping hand. Basically be sure to include some kind of mental stimulus that will get you home!
10. Water Proof Poncho

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Rabid Survival Kit

From time to time, I will be asked by family, friends and sports specifically what is in my “hunting season” survival kit. Usually this initial question will be followed by additional questions asking specifically why I carry each item and what items I consider most critical.

The first thing I stress to people, is that for a survival kit to be completely effective, it needs to be a direct match to your personal needs and the challenges you are most likely to face. While some items will remain unchanged (Matches, Compass, Whistle) other items may need to be removed or added based on the specific climate, expected conditions, environment and circumstances. For example, my “Truck” kit contains a snow shovel and tire chains, my “Mountaineering” kit contains a SAM splint and avalanche probe, my “ATV” kit contains a tire inflater and tow cable and lastly my “Guiding” kit contains flagging tape, extra clothes and extensive list of first aid items.

It takes close to 30 days to starve to death and 3 days to die from dehydration. Considering these timetables, it is highly unlikely you going to starve to death or expire from dehydration in the Maine Wilderness. In Maine, if you are lost, your biggest concerns should be centered on dying from injury, extended contact with the elements or a combination of both. To protect yourself, you need to have the tools to defend against wounds and/or exposure.

The last point is to understand survival is HUGELY mental. If you believe you will live there is an excellent chance you will. With this in mind, it is essential your survival kit contain a few items designed to support your mental condition.


Water Resistant Florescent Orange Pouch – Some of you might recognize the old pouch, in the accompanying photo, as the original L.L. Bean “Survival” pouch. Years ago, these handy zippered pouches with a convenient belt loop, were provided to any person who successfully completed Maine’s hunter safety course. Over the years, L.L. Bean eventually discontinued the program but a few of these original workhorses are still kicking around. Drop me a comment if you are still carry one of these!

Essentials – Items that you should never enter the woods without.
1. Spare Compass – Most important is not to get lost in the first place and if you do get lost find your way out. If your primary breaks, have a back up.
2. Whistle – If you are injured and can’t get out, make sure others can find you.
3. Lighter – A fire is needed to stay warm and dry. Fire also will provide mental solace through a cold, dark night.
4. Waterproof Matches – If the lighter fails, a back up is critical
5. Space Blanket - Insulating blanket that reflects 90% of your body heat back to your core

First Aid Kit – Items to stop bleeding in a small cut or severed limb.
6. “First Aid Manual” – Should you be on the ground unconscious and bleeding to death, hopefully someone reads and understands how to save you.
7. Small Knife – Cutting clothing to fashion slings, bandages, etc. (Quite honestly, I have never found much use for small knives in survival situations. However, the large hunting knife I carry on my belt all season is an extremely functional survival tool.)
8. Ace Bandage (Self Adhesive) – Quickly secures bandages over gaping wounds.
9. Duct Tape (Wrapped around Film Canister) – Provide additional support for Ace Bandage. Small pieces can function as band-aids.
10. Super Glue – Small cuts on hands unable to hold duct tape (May remove)
11. Ten Feet Paracord (Attached to Whistle and Compass) – Functions as a tourniquet. Can also be used to tie knots for mental stimulation, fix a busted bootlace or secure poles for shelter.

Things to Save Your Hunting Day – It is important to remember its a survival kit but also doubles as your “support” through the hunting season.
12. Four Safety Pins – Bust the zipper on your hunting jacket. Splinters
13. One Cough Drop – Coughing uncontrollably and scaring all game for miles
14. Two Hot Hands Packs – Frozen hands and/or feet tempting you to go home early
15. Toilet Paper – Fire starter, Mental stimulator?
16. Three 12 Gauge or Springfield .30-06 Shells – Fire starter, signaling device, food collector
17. Hooded Emergency Poncho – Stay dry and comfortable even when caught unprepared
18. Water Purifying Drops – Got dry throat and not want to contract beaver fever?

Mental – Designed to occupy your mind and provide comfort
19. “You Alone in the Maine Woods” – Full of practical advice to help you survive, doubles as a fire starter, splint for a busted finger
20. Three Beef Bouillon Cubes – Three days worth of salty goodness
21. Glow Stick – In a downpour with no hope of starting a fire? The glow will spark your internal fire and lighten your spirits.

Marked for Future Removal – These items have been in my survival kit for a long time and since they take up little space I have allowed them to stay.
22. Tin Foil – Drinking cup
23. Film Canister filled with Fishing Line and Small Lures - Fishing
24. Razor Blade – Back up for knife
25. Wire Saw – Cut poles for shelters

Be sure to drop comments on other materials you carry in your personal survival kits and if you have other thoughts, opinions and ideas on cool or interesting waysthat the items in my kits could be used in a survival situation! Thanks!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Incredible Power of Deer

Another amazing story of deer survival . . . well at least for one. This whitetail had been dragging around the other dead deer for days before finally becoming entangled in a fence row. A brave soul with a hacksaw eventually released the live deer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deer Hunting Chores



Deer hunting season has ended but there are still chores to complete. The completion of a few simple tasks will make sure your next hunting season is safe, fun and successful. Here are a few suggestions . . . please add comments with others you may have!





  • Cut nuisance limbs and branches obstructing shooting lanes. After staring at them for long uneventful hours you must have them all memorized by now!
  • Make sure to put a light coat of oil on your shotgun or rifle. Do not to store it in a cloth case as moisture may collect and cause rust to form.
  • Thoroughly clean, dry and organize your hunting clothes. Nothing is worst then opening up a crateful of moldy hunting clothes opening day next November!
  • Organize your calls, toss old scent, empty pee bottle, etc. It your not planning to use your backpack for other outdoor pursuits, make sure to take out the beer jerky and other mouse tempting snacks.
  • Check your tree stand or climber to make sure it is in good shape. If it looks damaged replace or repair it.
    Inspect climbing harnesses for signs of abuse.
(REMEMBER to tell your spouse that now is the time to buy next year’s Deer hunting equipment, as many stores will be running SALES to liquidate DEER Gear and make way for ICE FISHING!!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Toughest Buck

WARNING this post is a little bit graphic! These photos have been circulating around via e-mail and I wanted to share. I continue to be amazed by the resiliency of the whitetail deer!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Man for All Seasons

Occasionally, I will read a particularly inspiring piece of literature I enjoy sharing with others. This latest poetic piece was presented to me in a recent e-mail discussion with Jerry Johnson at www.vtpoet.com. Jerry enjoys all out-of-door activities and his poetry draws upon his vivid memories and experiences in the serene areas of rural New England. He additionally shares my passion for reading and the writings of Maine author Bill Geagan. The following poem was written for his father, who had a passion for the outdoors and loved hunting and fishing. For me, the poem stirred fond recollections of time spent with my own father and the memories we have shared in the wood and on the waters. Please enjoy Jerry’s inspirational work!

A Man for All Seasons
for C. Russell Johnson
         
Here's to the man, where do we start …
to show all he did,
to measure his heart …
So let us begin and the best that we can
tell a little about this man among men.

Remember the past, the trips to the Cape,
swimming the ocean and mackerel fresh-baked,
and journeys to Tamworth,
up there on Great Hill,
fishing the Bearcamp
and Swift River’s chill.

Our travels were many, he always made time
to take us all fishing and bring tackle and line.
To pass down his wisdom,
the way did he show
to venture afield with shotgun and bow.

His love for the theater, his gift for the script,
directing his actors
or playing his bit,
gave us laughter and meaningful tears,
When the curtain was drawn,
thunderous cheers!

In business, a leader, its managing pulse,
he led by example and ran a smooth house.
He solved all the problems
and kept them in shock
how he bonded his workers and toiled ’round the clock.

His gift with a saw,
hammer and plane,
formed pieces of craft
from his hands deep in pain –
at the homes of his sons, his work was precise
and the legacy he left came without price.

His farm in Vermont, for all friends to share,
was furnished with love, many felt his care –
at that beautiful farmstead,
bucolic and serene,
in the green mountain hillsides,
reflecting his dream.

And he loved all creatures
and natural things,
he appreciated nature
and the splendor she brings.

He knew how to put it all down with his pen,
reflecting his views and those of real men.
He grasped when it was timely
to cut through the crap,
to weed out the fiction
and lay down the fact.
He was there when you needed him,
he would answer your call –
no problem was too big,
nor was it too small.

So, here's to the man, the leader of the clan,
I want you to know that I am your fan,
For all you have taught me,
for all you have done,
just want you to know
I'm glad I'm your son.

Jerry Johnson
www.vtpoet.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another Mystery Animal


As an experiment, I placed a game camera at one of my trap sites. This particular set-up is a dirt hole set meant to target the rich and healthy local population of coyotes. I was curious to see if other critters were visiting the location and/or how many near misses were encountered over the course of the trapping season running from Oct. 17 to Dec. 31. Note this “mystery animal” barely escaping the jaws of a leg hold trap a few inches to the left of were he approached the baited hole. Bring on the guesses . . . bobcat, fisher, coyote, fox?

Dirt Hole Set During the Day Light

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Opening Day Buck and The Lessons Learned (Part 3)

Sunday morning and I was up a full hour before my alarm, filled with new found optimism. Packing my waders, I jumped on the 4-wheeler and headed to last blood. Arriving well before the fist rays of light, I settled down under a young pine tree and quietly waited for the crows to appear. It was my hope that the sharp eyes of the crows and turkey vultures would point me to my deer. This trick had worked for me once before and I hoped it would work again. After waiting for almost an hour, the calling crows showed no set pattern and I donned the waders and headed into the alder bog. The bog was even worse than I had anticipated and visibility in the swamp grass and 10 foot tall alder saplings proved a significant challenge.

Struggling chest deep at times through the sucking mud, smelling of rotten eggs, I searched inch by inch through the bog until I was satisfied that it did not contain my deer. Frustrated by the situation, I struggled back to the shore and leaned back against a rock for a few minutes to reason out other options. I decided as a last ditch effort I would make a large swing around the perimeter of the site to determine if perhaps I would get lucky and stumble upon a hoof print in the mud or heavy indentations in the leaves. While I did find several tracks none contained blood. The heavy rains that had continued all through the night had wash away all traces.

Finally, at around 12:00 PM Sunday I returned to the house, disappointed but much wiser for the situation. Ultimately, despite how good a shot I would like to “believe” I had made, the reality had proven otherwise. Perhaps it was a small unseen branch, an adrenaline charged hand shake, a rapid pull of the trigger finger, a scope improperly set, a slip of a foot, a shot placed to low on the forward shoulder . . . the list goes on for reasons why deer are wounded each year.

The conclusion of this tale, occurred when I stopped by my neighbors on Sunday afternoon, a week from the original search, I was shocked to hear his tale of a small spike horn that had been found. A friend of a friend had been hunting approximately three miles and 180 degrees opposite the known direction the deer had last been moving and had stumbled upon the bloated carcass. Doing a little CSI investigative autopsy, he could see where a bullet had entered and clipped one lung. This certainly goes to show you the power a deer possesses even when critically wounded. Without a perfect shot that either hits the heart, both lungs or spinal column a deer is a powerful creature capable of dramatic physical feats to save its life. When hunting during the remainder of the season, please keep in mind my tale and make sure that your shots are true to save an animals possible suffering and to aid in a quick harvest. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Opening Day Buck and The Lessons Learned (Part 2)

Thinking I may have completely missed, I waited almost an hour before checking the impact site. At about this same time, Dad who had been hunting nearby joined me. Together we slowly approached where I had shot the deer. The impact site had blood splatter 6 feet high on the beech tree behind the animal, indicating a complete pass through. The splatter quickly transformed into a heavy trail of vibrant crimson filled with bubbly froth. Another 100 feet and blood stained oak leaves showed where the animal had fallen. All initial sign had the components of a good shot and promise of a quick recovery. A clean miss or no shot is much more attractive than a poorly placed shot and a wounded animal. At approximately 200 yards from the shot site, I noted the blood had already started to clot and long strings of blood lay on the ground, another 10 feet and nothing, not a drop.

Puzzled, I continued to walk in the general direction I expected the deer to walk (down hill and toward water). After several hundred yards, I returned to the bright orange flagging that marked last blood. As Dad retraced my steps, I decided to climb the ridge on the slim chance that the wounded animal had run uphill. On the top, I was surprised to find a small blood drop. Now notably worried, that the deer wasn't as injured as I originally thought, I collected the old man and we decided to sit for another hour before tracking any further. My exact statement to Dad was "the next time we find blood I want there to be a dead deer beside it".

The extra hour was nerve wracking but with plenty of day light and rain not predicted until late evening it was the smart choice. As we restarted our search my watch read 12:30 PM a full 3 hours after the initial shot. Indentations in the leaf litter now indicated the deer was moving down hill toward an extensive alder bog. Several sets of deer tracks and lack of blood had us on our hands and knees examining every track to see if it contained even a minuscule amount of blood. Every pinkie nail sized drop of blood provided us with new found hope.

Five additional hours of searching using an extensive grid system, yielded no trace of the wounded deer, like the forest had come alive and swallowed it whole. Our exploration of the bog yielded it could not be navigated without chest waders, an option that would require a 2 hour round trip.

At dark (6:00 PM), the old man and I finally returned home exhausted after covering miles of mixed terrain and not having eaten or drank anything since 5:00 AM.

The story continues Monday November 22nd . . .  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Opening Day Buck and The Lessons Learned (Part 1)

Physically and mentally exhausted from over two days and 12 hours of searching, Sunday afternoon at approximately 12:00 pm, I came to the painful conclusion that I was not going to find my deer. Heavy rains on Saturday evening, faded blood trail and a thickly overgrown alder bog were all impediments that gnawed at my quickly dwindling options.

An animal wounded, in agony and slowly dying or being eaten alive by coyotes is a thought that weighs heavy on a hunters soul. My family and friends tried to console me with tales of deer that were shot and survived but it does little for my mindset. Instead, I replay the event over and over in my mind, like the annoying skipping of a CD player, trying to determine what went wrong.

I had been hunting a favorite spot that over the years had produced many deer. The highly elevated stand made shot placement an easy task and most ranges were 50-100 yards, very capably ranges for the 180-grain hurling .30-06 Springfield. Unfortunately, on this particularly morning an uncooperative ungulate decided to play by a different set of rules. At 9:30 AM my growling stomach had planning my departure from the tree stand and by 9:35 AM I had my climber on the ground and was busily picking up my last bottle of doe scent when I heard a loud crunching coming up through the woods. At 9:37 AM I realized that the crunching was not a hunter, as I had originally expected, but instead a spike horn. Surprised at the sight, after all of the noise my bargain basement climber makes, I slowly raised my rifle and waited until the small buck cleared the underbrush. Settling my sight on the forward shoulder, I squeezed the trigger until . . . a very loud KABOOM echoed forth from my Browning semiautomatic. Shocked I watched what appeared to be a very healthy deer bounce through the hardwoods and disappear into the woods.

The story continues Thursday November 18th . . . 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Favorite Hunting Memories

Looking through hundreds of photos the other night, reminiscing about past hunting season’s, I came across this old photo of a productive hunt spent with my Dad and brother. That certainly was an exciting day, filled with events that ultimately lead to memories the three of us will laugh about and cherish for a lifetime.

While you are out hunting with family and friends, try and remember this quote from Italian Climber Walter Bonatti – “Mountains are the means, the man is the end. The goal is not to reach the top of mountains, but to improve the man.” What I am trying to say is “Hunting is the means, the man is the end. The goal is not to harvest a game animal, but to improve the man.” Enjoy the reminder of your season, be safe and always wear your florescent orange!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blog Temporarily Closed Due to Hunting Season

I am kidding of course, it is just that lately I have been spending practically every available moment in the woods. My desperate attempt to maximize the relatively short hunting season we have here in Maine. While I have many tales to tell from this already sorted 2010 deer season, I have yet to get a chance to convert anything into story format. As I struggle to find a moment to compose my latest quality blog entry, please take a few moments to check out these past articles. Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Deer Season Arrives!

In celebration of the start of the 2010 Deer Season, I wanted to direct you to a couple stories I have written over the years that deal with the hazards, trials and tribulations that tend to occur when hearty sportsmen take to the woods on cold November mornings in pursuit of the noble and cunning whitetailed deer. Of all the hunting stories I have posted on the blog, few have spawned the sheer volume of e-mails and comments that were generated by these four posts.
As you return to the hunt this weekend, make sure to dress warm, be absolutely sure of your target, shoot straight and depending on your wanton desires, enjoy the company of family and friends at deer camp or the quite solace and peace of the vast Maine wilderness. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Squirrel! It's Whats For Dinner!

After a many years of turning my nose up at the thought of eating Gray Squirrel, watching a recent episode of Bizarre Foods (Appalachia) on the travel channel had me quickly changing my mind. What you choose to eat or perhaps more appropriately, what you or others choose not to eat is often simply a matter of cultural or regional differences of opinion. One persons eating of lobster is to another the consumption of a VERY strange spider like, spiny, red sea creature that loudly SCREAMS don’t eat me! Some see feast and others see famine, it’s all based in your set of perceptions.

Obviously the first step in preparing a squirrel for the dinner table is the proper cleaning of the animal. After reducing the squirrel to “meat” there are several fine web sites available that detail different cooking methods.
If there is one suggestion I can make, about eating squirrel, it is to make sure that you parboil or otherwise work to tenderize the meat. Taking an old gray and throwing it on the grill with a little adobo sprinkled on the top (like I did) is sure to have you reaching for the dental floss. In other words, it can be a little bit stringy and tough. However, if you can spend some extra time preparing the meat, my overall opinion of the taste is it's fantastic. There was no “wild” or apparent off taste and it reminded me a little bit of grouse. Sporting brotherhood, if you have yet to add gray squirrel to your dinner table I strongly suggest that you give it a try!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Duck Power Incorporated

Against my better judgment and contributing much to Mr. President’s angst, was the addition to this year’s waterfowl opener by my brother (Diesel). As if Duck Power Incorporated wasn’t already brimming with sarcasm, mockery and cynicism, the combined forces of the brothers grim is enough to test the patience of any mere mortal.

Appearing in the middle of the night, recently off the late shift, via kayak and decked out in the latest and greatest in high-tech waterproof, duck repellent materials, Diesel arrived reeking of hunting prowess. Assisting him with his gear, I noted that approximately half the space in his small watercraft had been reserved for shotgun shells. My immediate estimate had the count at approximately three hundred rounds. Inquiring if he felt he had brought enough ammo, he replied with a hesitant, “I hope so”.

Awakened before my alarm, by motivated duck hunters high on adrenaline and lustful with the promise of opening day, I struggled though prying myself from the warmth of my sleeping bag. Slowly gathering together my gear and donning my waders, I wasn’t surprised to find that I was last into the duck blind and a pot of coffee was already at full boil. Fully 4-5 hours before the first legal trigger pull, I was wondering if perhaps we had awakened to early. Slowly time slipped by.

Whipping out half a box of doughnuts, a liter of sugar laced coffee and sucking on a lip full of Grizzly Wintergreen, Mr. President literally vibrated in the blind, in a display of excitement teetering on utter loss of self-control. Possessing no watch, I was able to accurately predict the hour of legal shooting, by the rapidly shaking floorboards.

The sudden appearance of ducks, driven by hurricane force winds, had Diesel jumping up like a gas powered, dynamite fueled jack in the box. Three quick shots rang out, there was a quick re-load and three more were fired. This entire procedure occurred in precisely the same amount of time it would take a man with a heavy Downeast accent to say SKYBUSTING.

Just as the barrage of echoing gunfire faded, ducks on the distant horizon, had an adrenaline fueled Mr. President frantically grabbing at his call lanyard. Blowing on his duck call, with complete and reckless abandon, Mr. President sounded like a four year old attempting to play “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” on a kazoo. After mentioning, his calling technique had a greater chance of attracting reefer-smoking hippies than mallards, Mr. President carefully placed his treasured duck call into his jacket pocket, where it resided for the remainder of the morning. Unprepared, for this onslaught of helpful support and assistance, Mr. President flashed a thousand dollar smile and extended a hand offering doughnuts and fresh brewed coffee to appease the brothers grim.

Well known mountaineer Mark Twight once said, “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.” If I interpret correctly, what is meant by this quote, is that even when the rain is pouring down sideways, your shivering and there isn’t a single duck in sight, my bets are that most waterfowl hunters would be tucked into a marsh blind, brandishing a colossal smile. While the weather certainly challenged us, sitting together in the blind that cold morning was an experience begging for repetition and something I am sure will long be repeated, by the members of Duck Power Incorporated, until time robs us of our ability or desire.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Duck Stew

Adverse weather conditions, gear failures and forgotten equipment can quickly make a usual trip into the wilds, outrageously unusual. When these challenges don’t pose a significant hazard to safety, they become a fantastic learning opportunity and a chance for sportsmen to practice a healthy dose of Yankee ingenuity. Possessing a tool kit of skills, learned through a lifetime spent in the outdoors, the sporting brethren often embrace these opportunities.

With a wind driven rain, pouring buckets down upon us, we the members of Duck Power Incorporated, began to seriously question the sanity of our actions. Despite being “prepared”, this year’s weather forecast, for the waterfowl opener, was categorized as torrential. Mercifully saved by Mr. President’s forethought, to bring a tarp large enough to be seen from space, the three of us sat in “relative” comfort. Lacking the ability (or perhaps better said the desire) to keep a fire burning in the bucketing conditions, we pondered how to cook this year’s culinary masterpiece. Though a day of duck hunting had blessed us with one mallard apiece, we needed to harness our combined brainpower to determine a viable solution to the cooking dilemma.

The final solution had a large Dutch oven filled with seared duck breasts, turnip, potatoes, broth, carrots and a menagerie of other spices and root vegetables, perched precariously on the top of a cooking apparatus resembling a blow torch. The aroma of the simmering concoction was intoxicating and my stomach growled a loud warning to anyone foolish enough to even ponder the idea that they would be fed first.

The thick stew was belched forth from the bubbling cauldron, into my bowl. Raising it to my face, a rich steam rose and my nose drank heavily of the odor . . . Ahhhhh! Each member of the incorporation filled their bowls and in turn completed the same nose tasting ritual. Jacked up on avian protein and more vegetables then a normal man eats in a month, we proceeded to enjoy the remainder of the evening telling tall tales, down right lies and enjoying the camaraderie of the sporting brotherhood.

Duck Stew – Enough to feed 3 crazy duck hunters
3 Breasted Drake Mallards (Mergansers maybe substituted if they are first parboiled with a pine board or if you can’t shoot worth a damn, try Spam)
3 Potatoes
½ a Large Turnip
4 Large Carrots
3 Celery Stalks
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Large Onion
½ Cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon
Beef Broth to cover all ingredients
Pinch of Salt
Dash of Black Pepper

*To be properly enjoyed, it is recommended that Duck Stew be served with a healthy dose of inclement weather and Pabst Blue Ribbon or other fine ale.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Impatient Bow Hunter

One thing is certain, archery hunting in Maine is the true mark of the impatient outdoorsman. Apparently genetically cursed, lacking the simple ability to wait, these poor sportsmen are forced to endure long and unnecessary hours in stands and blinds waiting for a miracle. As soon as those first few leaves drop and mornings begin to carry hints of frost, these desperate souls, lacking an ounce of self restraint, head into the woods with lustful thoughts of seared tenderloins and turkey salad sandwiches. Don't these idiots know that in one short month they can use a gun?

It surprises me that in this day and age of laser beams and cruise missiles, among us there are those foolish enough to enjoy the self abuse of pursuing whitetails and turkeys with technologies barely above that used by cave men. Like shooting big game animals in Maine isn't hard enough with a firearm, bow hunters are truly suckers for punishment.

If these sportsman were only born possessing the ability to wait until the woods swell with hunters in November, maybe they would be more apt to "stick" or "poke" a deer as the animals are driven through the woods by hordes of florescent orange clad hunters. Even better, dissolve the Maine Bow Hunters Association, send them to archers anonymous and give them all guns!

Here I sit in my bargain bin climbing stand, uncomfortably and precariously hanging approximately 16 feet up a rotten old maple tree. It appears my situational awareness indicates I am where the deer are not. A game of yards, not having to be played were I simply to have in my hands a high powered rifle. Deer, turkeys and even a brave coyote tease me by walking past 75 to 100 yards away, at an appallingly rate of regularity. Though they challenge my resolve, I am a bow hunter and proud to be impatient.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Unknown Animal Caught on Game Camera

Occasionally my game camera will photograph a critter that leaves me pondering as to what it might be. Sometimes only small part of the animal will be captured, within the confines of the frame, making identification difficult. In these situations, it takes a careful eye to decipher exactly what kind of fur bearer is sneaking by. Care to take a guess on the animal in the photo below?
Blown Up and Enhanced Version of the Photo Below

Friday, October 8, 2010

Retreat Into the Maine Wilds II

For those of you who read my "Retreat Into the Maine Wilds" post below is a little more development on my stories main character "GUNK".

The years have left me close to death and forced me to undergo desperate measures to survive. My mind is a savage mechanism, a tool honed to a fine edge by adversity and the challenges faced over the last two decades spent alone in the wilds. Twisted perhaps are my thoughts, to the point where some would classify me as unstable, violent or unbalanced. This would, however, be a dreadful miscalculation of my mental state. The wilds have transformed me into an animal, cunning, calculating and lethal. The primitive and primordial areas of my brain, dormant in the populace of the civilized world, have been awakened and refuse to ever again sleep. Isolation has slowly eaten away at my ability or perhaps more accurately care to speak and my words whispered to the trees are hoarse and garbled. My body acts without hesitation and the animals I stalk are killed swiftly and without celebration. Long gone is the thrill of the hunt and I take from the earth what I need to survive, with little care for mans laws. The animals of the forest whether bear, deer, turkey or squirrel are meat and only seen as the raw fuel needed to carry my body through another day.

My body is ravaged by the harshness of my situation and operates on a level barely above starvation. Infrequent are the days when my stomach doesn’t growl constantly and my waist shrinks as the weeks pass without the availability of a good meal. More famine than feast is the fate of the nomadic traveler and hunger is a constant companion ever alert to gnaw at my mind as my body battles against malnutrition.

Staring at my hands, nine long bony fingers, marked by the scars of frostbite erupt from palms callused, leathery and cracked. The stump of a missing digit itches fervently, despite having been torn from my hand well over a decade ago. Fingernails split, torn and dirty from an unknown age of toil are dragged through my course beard that reeks heavily of wood smoke, sweat and wet earth.
The beast within that in times of turmoil switches off the minds propensity to control anger, violence and aggression. The fight or flight instinct, that has forced the human species to survive in the face of severe and absolute adversity for well over a millennium.

There are places deep within the soul of men that are better left undisturbed. These hidden points of escape can be refuges of peace or focal points to drive hate. It seems that everyone wants to talk about their "happy place" but few are willing to explore the darker areas of psyche that control courser, darker emotional responses. Due to our reluctance to explore these emotions are we becoming socially inept at controlling them or do we simply strive to bury them so deep within our emotional core that they rarely surface?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Deer Caught on Game Camera

Deer Returning to Bedding Area
Deer Caught on IR Game Camera During Nightly Activities
Deer Grabbing Afternoon Snack

Game cameras offer the outdoor enthusiast a unique perspective into the habits and habitats of many unique and interesting animals. Since I began using these units last November, I have captured hundreds of different photos of coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, deer, red/gray squirrels, bear, turkeys, porcupine, moose, the occasional blue jay and generally some fairly strange stuff. While the possibilities for the naturalist and wild life watcher are numerous, game cameras offer hunters the ability to use data, collected from the field, to pinpoint game animals and target hunting times and locations that will most likely link with the animal being hunted.

In support of these valuable hunting tools, here are a few hints, suggestions and general knowledge I have amassed throughout the past year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bear Video


video 
This video was taken last season of a bear working a bait site. This bear was not harvested, so for the nature lovers among us there are NO impact shots. This video serves as a great educational tool to show clients how to successfully estimate bear size. Note that the bear passes a stump that is approximately 25 inches in height. My challenge for commenters, to accurately judge the bear's weight. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Waterfowl Youth Day


I had the distinct pleasure, a few weekends ago, of sharing a duck blind with a father/daughter hunting team, who share my wild passion for waterfowl hunting. Needing assistance in organizing boats, decoys and finding a prime hunting location, these sports contacted me to make the arrangements. Arriving at the boat launch at 4:00 am, I was greeted by three very excited duck hunting animals. Piling into two small watercraft, we managed to safely transport all required gear to the duck blind without a single interesting tale to tell.

In Maine, the youth waterfowl opener occurs every year around mid September and offers kids 10-15 and under a fantastic opportunity to harvest early season ducks, before regular season hunting pressure makes them nervous as a mother hen. In addition Dad and/or Mom can enjoy hunting along side their son or daughter, possibly at the same time getting a chance to target members of our healthy resident Canada goose population.

Hunting with kids is always entertaining and this scenario certainly was filled with its fair share of laughter. Everything from lost hunters needing gas for depleted outboards, an unscheduled early morning swim and an over active Labrador retriever that dropped something so vile, it had me gagging for 4 hours.

Watching Jordan's uncoordinated attempts to take a mallard out of the air, with her youth model over under Stoger 20 g, had me smiling, remembering a time long ago when I to was learning the finer points of marksmanship. With a high degree of patience, her Dad directed how to effectively mount, acquire a moving target, calculate lead and fire. Jordan was an eager and receptive student but shooting a moving target, with precision, is a skill that takes years to master. Jordan's practice, will someday foster explosive results.

We worked all morning, to call 5-6 mallards and black ducks into shotgun range but ultimately heavy fog and inexperience at shooting ducks on the wing, ended the hunt without a duck in hand. Ultimately, hunting is much more than the killing and it could not have been a finer morning, enjoyed in the fine company of new friends!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Retreat Into the Maine Wilds

For a few years, I have been toying with the idea of writing and attempting to eventually published an act of fiction (book, short story, etc.). In an attempt to spur along this endeavor, I plan to publish a series of blog post that highlight my thoughts, notes and writing related to the project. I am hopeful that this will generate comments, suggestions and feedback to drive my interest and assist in keeping the project going. Ok, enough explanation, here is the first post!

My name is Gus N. Kindle but I remember a happier time in my life when my friends simply called me Gunk. I remember not when or who bestowed upon me the nickname, an obvious perversion of my real name and with the passage of so many years my cares have found other bay unto which to anchor. In those earlier days, it seemed easy to take happiness and joy for granted. To fail to appreciate the simply pleasures of existence and the apparently effortless way a life in the modern world unfolds. Possibly through design, we as a society have worked to eliminate surprise and institute a level of control in our day-to-day activities, as to attempt to remove anything resembling disorder. Is it possible that in our attempt to fight chaos, we have inadvertently allowed ourselves to become complacent? Have we simply become drones or automatons driving forth in our daily routines for no more apparent reason then they are simply habit. Are we so comfortable and unwilling to embrace a life less ordinary that we fear what we do not know and refuse to wander far from our small corner of the world? Like one of those maps you purchase at a gas station, are we afraid to unfold and explore new territory for the fear that we will not be able to put it back together in a manageable stack that will fit neatly back into our glove box?

The fragments of my old life seem strange and far away, like the chapters of a book read long ago, where the characters and plot are distant and practically forgotten. Occasionally, the ghosts of my old life visit my dreams and wake me with their whispers, bathed in sweat and screaming, I curse at them to go away. These vivid memories are meant to torture me least I attempt to forget past indiscretions. While I fear not death, the faded echo of a life near perfection haunts me. I accept my sentence as one might swallow a bitter fowl tasting medication, it must hurt to heal so the old saying goes. Almost twenty years have passed since the accident and only a few less since I abandoned life in the civilized world and retreated deep into the Maine wilderness to find solace, healing and peace in the bosom of the natural world. The shear effort required to stay alive out here, with only the very basic elements of survival, is enough to keep my mind focused on the now, with little time for thoughts to drift to the past. I guess if I am honest with myself, my original plan had been to die out here, to escape the pain of my great loss and put my soul to rest. My decision to continue to draw breath had not been something I had originally relished but it was eventually an idea that I grew to tolerate. Though many years have passed, the anticipation of the day the Reaper visits leaves me anxious, as one might feel about missing a flight to some exotic locale.

Of most, I have little doubt that my retreat into the wilds was viewed as a means of running away from my fears, as turning a blind eye to the problems of civilization, in an act of complete selfishness. Perhaps some were even so cruel, as to see the act barely above the cowardice of suicide. To this rabble, I hold no grudge or ill will, for they understand not the animal that lurks in some men’s souls.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Moose Eat Doughnuts?

Young Moose Investigates Bear Bait
I wanted to share this picture captured at one of our bait sites during the first week of bear season. The photograph depicts a young moose investigating a large pile of fermented doughnuts. While I have never know a moose to eat doughnuts, they certainly find the odor wildly difficult to resist. Occasional visitors to bear baits, they are enjoyed by "wide-eyed" sports who have never encountered a wild moose at such a close distance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bear Hunting Success - A Maine Guide's Tale


The feeling I had festering in the pit of my stomach, could best be described as tempered anxiety, the anticipation of things to come,  pressured by the hope that for the sport, this would be his first black bear. As a guide, you do all you can to prepare a bait site and brief your client but in the end, it is ultimately up to the sport to pull the trigger and make a clean ethical shot. This plot line, creates a feeling in guiding professionals, not unlike what parents experience sending their children off on their first day of school.

Unlike with a normal bear hunting scenario, this bait location was complicated by a conscientious observer. The sport was accompanied by his wife who was planning to video tape her husband. This meant that two separate stands would need to be installed to accommodate both individuals. Adding further to the complications, were the obvious facts that two individuals double the chances that some small detail will be missed. Tops on this list are of course, scent control and  movement, two of the fastest ways to make a comfortable bear leary.

Parking the truck about a 1/2 mile away, I turned on the walkie in preparation of the excited "bear down" call that I had high hopes of soon receiving. Though it was only the first day of this week long adventure, there is still something distinctly gratifying about your sport harvesting a bruin on the first evening.

The hours of waiting were spent reading, making hunting knives shapah (yes, that is how you spell it and say it in Maine!) and writing this story on my Blackberry, all desperate attempts to keep my mind from wandering to thoughts of how their evening was progressing. I had high hopes that even if they weren't seeing bears, that at least they were comfortable and enjoying the rugged beauty of Maine's flora and fauna.

As the day faded into evening and was finally enveloped in darkness, no shot indicated they had not encountered a "shooter" sized animal. Upon picking up the wide eyed sports, I was gratified to find they had great video of a smaller (110 lb)bear working the bait site but had ultimately passed on taking the animal with hopes that a larger bear would present itself before weeks end.

In reviewing the video, it appeared to be an average sized bear but some choose to roll the dice, determined to take their chances at scoring a truly massive animal. For them, time would tell if they had played their cards correctly.

On Tuesday evening at 6:00 a call from another guide came over the VHF indicating that a 300 lb plus class bear had just strolled across the road heading directly for my sports bait site. Unfortunately, the paths of the bear and the hunter did not cross and another evening slipped quietly past.

Wednesday presented itself and my conversation with the sports indicated that if the 110 lb returned they would take the shot. As I settled the sports into their stands, my confidence was running high. Though the bear had failed to show, the previous evening, the bait site was cleaned out daily, indicating that it would only be a matter of time before he returned during legal hunting hours.

As Jimmy Buffet sang "Margaritaville" for an annoying 11th or 12th time, that sweltering afternoon, a single gun shot, from the clients .30-06 Springfield, suddenly shattered the songs mellow chorus line and I fumbled for the walkie. Checking the walkie volume 3 or 4 times in as many seconds, I forced myself to take a deep breath and wait. Moments seemed to crawl by, making me exponentially more and more nervous. Finally after what seemed like hours, a heavily garbled voice crackled from the speaker, "bear at pebble!".

Jumping in the cab, I hit the accelerator hard enough to throw loose gravel into southern Maine. Rocketing down the dirt road, spruce trees blurred and I silently prayed that there would be no close encounters of the moosey kind.

Arriving, I was pleased to see that, despite the adrenaline rush, the sports were still in their tree stands as instructed. I asked them if the bear was down and they indicated no. I next asked where the bear was shot and to point me in the general direction the animal ran. Tracing a blood trail as wide as a two lane highway, it didn't take long to find the bear heaped up by an old stump.

With my hand tightly gripping the handle of my hand gun, I slowly approached the downed animal watching carefully to see if he was still drawing breath. Convinced that he was most likely dead, I cautiously approached and gave him a firm kick. Getting no response, I tapped his open eye with a long stick and seeing no blink was finally satisfied that I could pronounce the animal dead.

As all hunters realize, after the shot has been fired, the real work begins. Any large game animal is a chore to extract from the woods and perhaps the number one reason to have on your side the services of a registered Maine guide. Possessing extensive tracking skills, the resources and equipment necessary to effectively and safely get a downed bear out of the woods and ultimately to the dinner table, securing their services is for the uninitiated a wise investment. For anyone interested in bear hunting, I strongly encourage you to look at Eagle Mountain for next years bruin adventure in the Maine wilds.

For more on bear hunting - Bear Hunt to Extreme I and II and Smallest Bear Calibers. Also check out Bear Season 2010 Mixed Bag.
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