Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Taxidermy Addiction

Male and Female Wood Ducks
I can feel the addiction building, the powerful intoxicating draw of having a piece of taxidermy on display in my home. It took the arrival of this recent wood duck piece, for me to finally appreciate the draw of having dead animals mounted all around your home. I just never really fully understood the attraction of having some trophy creature hanging from my wall. Seemingly more like giant dust collectors then artwork and multiplied by the cost and maintenance, the benefits to owning a stuffed critter always seemed to be outweighed by the associated disadvantages.

The problem with taxidermy work, that many sportsmen come to soon realize, is that it cannot be entirely appreciated until YOU own it. With ownership, comes the memories of that particular hunt and the other associated feelings that arise every time you look at the taxidermies work. The piece stirs emotions much more powerful than a simple photo, as the work is a complete reproduced representation of a sporting experience. This feeling cannot be “felt” simply by looking at the taxidermy work of others, as it is the direct connection to a once historic hunt that makes a piece valuable to its owner.

If you have not yet considered getting an animal mounted start small. There are many small “taxidermy” projects that you yourself can do before you jump in with both feet and blow the entire kids college money on a full African elephant mount . . . more to follow on 6/2.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Man's Grill BBQ RULES

The following is a blurb about BBQing that has been making it around the various e-mail distribution lists. It provided a good laugh so wanted to share.

We'll be entering the BBQ season in a few months.  Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking activity. When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:

(1) The woman buys the food.
(2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.
(3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - beer in hand.
(4) The woman remains outside the compulsory three-meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.

Here comes the important part:

More routine...
(6) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
(7) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he flips the meat

Important again:

More routine...
(9) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table.
(10) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.

And most important of all:
(11) Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
(12) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed “her night off “ and upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dual Coyotes Caught on Game Camera

My FIRST game camera picture having two coyotes on it at the same time.

Game cameras become extremely valuable, to the predator hunter with limited time, by helping to pattern animals visits to bait sites. In the past week, I have noticed that two of the coyotes frequenting my bait site have changed their patterns for late night to early evening visits.  With this information, I may be able to organize an early evening ambush based on the intelligence provided by the camera. This is bound to save me hours of time hunting the site when the coyotes are not prone to visit. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Maine Guide’s Truck

This posting is obviously meant to be a humorous mixed account of the trucks driven by some of the best Maine Guides I know. These individuals are all high-end professionals, in the outdoor field, but are often lacking the funds to buy the brightest and shiniest new vehicles. Even the upkeep of our trucks is often accomplished by our own hard work and Yankee ingenuity. Our outdoors passions, often lead us into natural and unnatural conditions that put a beaten on our vehicles but it is the internal drive of the Maine guide that always pulls though in a pinch! So please enjoy this posting as a comedic look at one of the finest of historic professions, the Maine Guide.

As many of you may or many not be aware, there are a lot of “imposters” out there in the state forests and on the waters, making believe they are Registered Maine Guides. In order to enrich your experiences in the Maine woods and ensure that you are actually securing the services of a professional and not some scallywag, here are a few tell tale signs you should look for when you first meet your guide.

Of course one of the easiest ways to identify a Registered Maine Guide is to ask to see his guide license BUT quite honestly what fun would that be. Nothing says more about a man than his mode of transportation so read on!

NOT a Guide's Vehicle
If your guide picks you up in anything other than a TRUCK . . . run. I suppose an import like a Toyota Tacoma, T100 or even one of them fancy Honda Avalanches is Ok . . . BUT if he is a true master guide he will arrive in a beat-up Ford F150, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram or anything sporting a Hemi. Also be cautious of the guide that shows up in a Hummer 1, 2 or 3 as he is obviously a show off and no guide in the world that I know could ever afford one of these means of conveyance.


To be a Maine guide at least one of the following items must have been used within the past year to repair your trucks exhaust system: heat tape, coat hangers or the remnants of a beer can. Master guides will know that a beer can, carefully cut with tin snips is capable of being layered between the heat tape and exhaust pipe to extend the life span of the tape so quiz your guide as necessary.

The radio antenna will be a coat hanger.

Be sure to search the glove box but be especially watchful for errant hooks, open jack knives and greasy engine parts. In the glove box there should be copies of the Maine hunting and fishing law books BUT  each publication will be at least 2-3 years out of date. If you find the books and they are not out of date, begin to raise your level of suspicion.

There will be a clanking or grinding sound coming from the engine that will only be apparent between 25 to 35 miles an hour. Slower and faster speeds will make a whirring sound.

The truck simply must have gun rack containing the classic .30-06 Springfield rifle (In a pinch a .30-30 is also acceptable) and a 12 gauge shotgun, however, the only ammo that should be found in the truck cab must be .270 and 20 gauge. If at any time you actually find a shell that will fit the firearms in the cab of the truck . . . RUN!

At least two tires on the truck must be bald.

A Dog, Feathers AND Hair!

Inspect the back of the truck for a large cooler. DO NOT OPEN THE COOLER, however, as if you have actually secured the services of a registered guide it is sure to contain rotten fish or animal parts from the past hunting and fishing season. Simply carefully smell around the edging to verify. Also, if you find a dog, blood, hair or feathers in the truck bed this is actually a GOOD sign and you can lower you level of suspicion.

If you can look down through the floor boards and see the ground you are in excellent shape.

The truck should be towing SOMETHING . . . ATV, Boat, Snowmobile, etc. If it is not make sure that the vehicle at least has a tow hitch.

The engine light MUST be on! If its not, ask to see the "guides" credentials immediately!

Bolted to the front dashboard will be a CB, Ham radio and VHF receiver. There might also be a GPS, shaking hula dancer, rabbit foot or mini statue of Jesus.

The audio system will readily accept 8 tracks BUT will also be wired to an Ipod. Unfortunately, the Ipod will only contain a library of 10 songs, nine of which will be sung by Hank Williams Jr. and the other one will be "The Second Week of Deer Camp".

Monday, May 16, 2011

Youth Day Turkey Hunt - Part 2

My junior client impressed me by confidently raising his 20 gauge Remington 870, slowly pulling the trigger and managing perfect shot placement from a free hand position aimed at a tom walking past the blind at 40 yards. The 15 lb 4 oz bird instantly dropped like a sack full of hammers slapped it. Nerves allowed the bird to haphazardly thrash on the ground, before the youth managed to exit the blind and pin it to the ground with a well placed foot. The youths 20 gauge had delivered a punishing payload of 3 inch #4 lead shot to the birds neck and head, instantly dispatching the animal. Sportsmen carrying 12 and 10 gauge firearms are often prone to missed shots at the same ranges, so the youth ability to know his shotguns limits and capabilities showed well his practice and skill with the firearm.

With both youth and adult hunters, new to hunting, there is always a question in my mind related to how they will handle the after the shot workload. It is one thing to shoot an animal from a distance, it is an entirely different thing to butcher and process any critter. I remember even my own reservations about this process, arising despite years of experience butchering deer, bear, hogs and other large game animals. It happened after shooting my first moose and the act of having to fit almost my entire head into the body cavity to complete some of the more involved field dressing left even this “practiced” outdoorsman slightly queasy. Considering that even the most hardened stomachs can sometimes falter during these endeavors, it is not surprising that other less proficient sportsman might struggle with certain parts of the butchering process. I am therefore always thoughtful and careful to judge how much clients wish to be involved in this process, always playing to their level of interest and skill.

In this particular scenario and with these young fellows, I quickly left any reservations at rest and watched in amazement as the youngest boy un-sheathed a knife that would make Rambo salivate and tore into the turkey like it was a science experiment. His every knife stroke carefully dissecting every organ, feather and muscle group like he was trying to obtain a noble prize in biology. I was surprised but also impressed by his vigor. All that was eventually discarded from the harvested bird were a few feathers, 10 feet of small intestine and the remains of a carefully examined gizzard. The boy was intoxicated with the prospects of "turkey" and wasn't willing to waste a single edible morsel or souvenir. Meat to eat deep fat fried, in turkey salad sandwiches and wings, tail feathers, spurs, beard, expended shell, tag and even wish bone all to be part of a permanent display in the recesses of his adolescent bedroom.

The story for these boys ends for the spring turkey season but they have already vowed to return for next spring season!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Youth Day Turkey Hunt - Part 1

In total, five distinctly different gobbles echoed across the open cornfield, seemingly from all points of the compass. This wild crescendo of fowl vocalization excited the kiddos and made me increasingly positive about our choice of location. The gobbling commenced at 5:50 AM and continued in heated non-stop eruptions until about 6:30 AM when suddenly, not a single gobble, cluck, yelp or putt. Almost like the hand of God had slapped down onto his turkey alarm clock to cease its annoying squawking and cackling.

This transformation of once vocal to now silent birds seems to be a relatively new but increasing more frequent occurrence in the Maine hunting woods. Once on the ground, the New England turkeys really have been limiting their gobbling in recent years. I suppose it could be higher concentrations of coyotes, bobcats and turkey hunters or the arrival of yet another early spring season cutting into the breeding cycle. Whatever the cause, if you are running and gunning and want to set-up on a roosted bird you better put him to bed or arrive well before daylight.

For the boys, instead of chasing gobbling birds, we chose to hunt well know travel corridors and cut off their entry and exit into the fields where they were feeding. This tactic, to intercept them on their travels to and from roosting and feeding areas, provided a chance to set-up and wait for a turkey much like one would do when deer hunting. Though not as exciting as a spot and stalk, it does provide an added element of safety for first time hunters, by sitting them in a braced and secure location where the firearm is always pointed in a specific direction. While this may not be necessary for all young hunters, any kid that does not display a background of practiced shooting or responsible handling of their firearm should be placed in a pop-up blind and provided additional instruction in this safe environment. (I have to mention that both of the boys I guided, possessed an impressive level of skill in both shooting and handling their respective firearms a fact that always sets me at ease. A big high five to their Dad who taught them early and continued to enforce these valuable skills throughout the hunt.)

Hunting turkeys with kids is sometimes tough business. Sitting near motionless for hours without even seeing or hearing a turkey is a difficult task for even the most seasoned outdoorsman. Now throw into this mix, an excited preteen, hopped up on doughnuts and you have a bundle of convulsive, trembling action that would rival a one year old Labrador in a duck blind. Pop-up blinds increase the probability of success, by shielding movement and allowing kids to be . . . well kids. It is a common misconception that a youth is better equipped with their strong backs, stamina and vigor to have more ability to sit then an adult. Do your kid a favor and bring them a comfortable seat to sit on, after all they have less padding on their posteriors than us adults!

This posting is a continuation of the Youth Day Turkey Hunting Success Picture posted on May 3rd. Part two of the Youth Day Turkey Hunt will be posted next week.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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