Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Punish Coyotes With These Lethal Loads

I give big kudos to my friends over at, as they have been patiently waiting for over 6 months to me mange to get a post out on a box of ammo they sent me. After initially discussing what I would be interested in testing, they agreed to send me a box of their 55 Grain Fiocchi PSP cartridges.

What impressed me most about this ammo is its ability to cycle flawlessly in my R15. This was a relief, as I patiently work my way through over 500 rounds of budget level Herter’s ammo, I purchased at Cabelas. What is most unfortunate about this budget level ammo is its less than stellar performance in my R15. More below on this cycling problem.

FIOCCHI at 100 Yards
What many fail to consider when selecting ammo, for their semi automatic rifles, is not only the ammo’s down range performance but also its ability to cycle properly. Unless cycling through a newly cleaned firearm, the budget level Herter’s cartridges, just didn’t provide consistent performance. It just goes to show that when you pay a little bit more for quality ammo, you will be rewarded by increased performance. 18 rounds of the Fiocchi loads, screamed through my heavily used R15 with absolutely NO hesitation. (Why only 18 rounds and not 20 you ask? Well, I need at least two rounds to test the penetration ballistics on the coyotes!!)

In terms of hunting, inside of 50 yards there is little noticeable difference between the various .223 Rem. ammo types in terms of group size. Even the worst functioning ammo I have tested to date, is capable of pulling small enough groups to kill any predator from coyote to bobcat to prairie dog that manages to scurry, creep, crawl or scamper into that range. Stretch this yardage out, however, and you quickly begin to identify large gaps between individual shots. By the time you are out to 300 yards, shot inconsistencies not apparent at 50 yards are easily recognizable. When shooting at extended ranges buy the best ammo you can afford, to ensure you make an ethical kill shot at the animal you are pursuing.

Lastly, when hunting it is vital that we examine a bullets ability to properly mushroom upon impact with a game animal and maintain its lethal nature despite what it may encounter. This "lethal" test remains yet to be determined with the Fiocchi PSP ammo and is likely to be determined sometime after the snows fall and coyote night hunting begins in the state of Maine. 

As the season for night coyote hunting begins around the middle of December, I am sure you will hear more about this tale in the near future!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Five Year Old Shoots First Deer

This short video segment shows my 5 year old son shooting his first ever white tailed deer! It occurred during a game called "deer hunter", I was playing with him and his brother a few weekends ago. During the game, my sons and I practiced using my various deer calls and even had a short session on how a compass works. While it is obvious that we still need to work on correct shot placement, I was still very impressed by how quickly he was already starting to sound like a veteran deer hunter. I almost dropped the camera hearing him say . . . "LOOK AT THESE ANTLERS"!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Girls At Deer Camp? (Part 3)

The Show Begins
Guides are too tough for ear plugs!
The next morning, we prepared a large breakfast to fuel the ladies through the various planned outdoor activities. Due to the limited time the girls had in their schedule, I had a difficult time deciding on exactly what to do. Ultimately, we decided on an early morning coyote hunt, followed by moose spotting, a healthy sprinkling of heatah hunting and finally an all out ammo dump at the sand pit.
Our coyote hunt was conducted out of a portable blind and ended up as successful as I anticipated . . . nada. All the scent eliminator in the world just can cover up stinky Maine guide and Old Spice. I think the girls however enjoyed the coyote hunt “experience” and from it developed an understanding of what it means to hunt out of a ground blind, how to operate a game call and the joy that is achieved by firing off an automatic rifle at a stump.

Moose spotting was again met with less than favorable results, again not an absolute surprise given the time we arrived at some of the “prime” spots. Given an hour closer to twilight, the results may have been better. However, we did manage to tour some beautiful locations and I think the ladies were appreciative of seeing woods and waters that many Mainer’s never chance to see.

Photographers make great shooters!
Heatah hunting thankfully was met with success! After introducing Sophie (the one with a hunting license) how to operate a 12 g shotgun and providing her with a general description of a partridge, I could see that killer glint in her eye! On the first sighting, it was Sophie who picked out THREE partridge running across the road. After collecting ourselves from the excitement, I asked if she wanted to take point. Declining, I shouldered the shotgun and proceeded down the road with both writer and photographer closely following. After a KABOOM followed by a CONSIDERABLE amount of effort (involving crawling on my hands and knees through a spruce thicket), I managed to bring a bird to hand.

To clean the bird, I proceeded with the classy, step on the wings and pull the feet. This was not an activity that the girls wanted to either watch or participate in but after the initial tearing and popping noises were complete, they were very interested in touching the feathers and inspecting the assorted remains of what had been only minutes before a living creature. I pointed out a few of the key organs, kidneys, heart, gizzard, etc. and was pleasantly surprised when Erin asked if she could preserve and take home the tail and wing feathers. After this unexpected display, I had to admit that now along with the rest of the boys, I too was seriously smitten.

As the final minutes of our hunt quickly ticked away, a single bird ran across the road and I could see by the look in her eye that this time Sophie was ready! Jumping out of the truck and loading the gun, I handed it off to Sophie and we began walking up the road to where the partridge had entered the woods. Creeping ever so carefully, I positioned myself behind her and whispered directions. Ok Sophie, right by that small stick is where he went into the woods, almost there, raise your gun, get ready to work that safety, finger off the trigger until your ready to shoot, keep that stock firmly planted in your shoulder. At that moment of course, as is typical, the bird flushed straight away from us in a speedy blur through the overgrown spruce trees. I had initially thought that perhaps Sophie would be upset at not having a chance to shoot but I could not have been more wrong. She was literally vibrating with excitement and practically overcome with varying levels of emotional response. Getting back in the truck, she jumped around in the seat like a highly caffeinated labrador puppy on its first duck hunt. The words that immediately came from her mouth were like english only much faster and beyond my comprehension. Once she calmed down a bit, I seem to remember her saying something like "that was awesome" but I am not entirely sure.

Say Cheeeese!
At the sandpit, I was very impressed with the shooting exhibition, put on by both Erin and Sophie. Neither having ever held yet alone fired a firearm, they both possessed a natural talent at acquiring the targets and sloooooowly pulling the trigger. Each pounded the heck out of the two targets they were assigned, using both the AR15 (at 150 yards!) and 9mm handgun (at 25 yards!). Despite repeated attempts, neither wanted to try shooting at the quickly moving skeet and so they both watched as the boys and I attempted to impress them with some hard to hit doubles. In the end, few clay pigeons were harmed in this particular shooting session.  At the end of the shoot, I presented both Erin and Sophie each with their targets to take home and I hope (along with the memories and over 800 pictures that were taken!!) they hold on to them as a reminder of their time with the boys at deer camp.

The Curtain Closes
In the end, it was refreshing to have girls participate in deer camp and I am deeply honored that the boys and I were chosen to represent hunters from all across the state of Maine.  Potentially circulating to 1,000s of readers, with mixed opinions about hunters and hunting, I will be curious to see how the magazine’s readership accepts the deer camp article. I feel the boys and I did a good job representing sportsmen and therefore, I anxiously await the release of the article.  However, due to publishing timelines, the article will not come out until November 2012, so the wait for the end product will be excruciating.

It is critical, as sportsmen, we always strive to represent our given pursuits in a positive and professional manner, as ultimately it will be the individual who will decide the fate of outdoor traditions such as hunting and fishing. When out in the wilds, remember to do your part and always represent outdoorsmen in a positive light and when provided the opportunity, invest your time in introducing someone new to our sport.

Just joining the conversation? Be sure to read Girls At Deer Camp? - Part 1 and Girls At Deer Camp? - Part 2

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Girls At Deer Camp? (Part 2)

The Curtain Rises
Upon initially sharing my intentions, the boys were frantic. Considering all the potentially embarrassing prospects, of ladies at deer camp, they were deeply concerned about how they were going to act and behave. Obviously the farting, belching, swearing and late night walks to the outhouse in long underwear would have to be constrained. Then there was the traditional early morning breakfast . . . would the women expect to sleep in? How would everyone get ready in the morning in the camps small living room? Would the women panic if they happened to see Dad in his tighty whities? Then of course, there were the sleeping arrangements. How could we provide the ladies with comfortable and clean sleeping arrangements when neither exists at deer camp? Obviously, all of these concerns weighed heavily on the regular hunting crew and as the date approached, it seemed no degree of consolation could quell their ill founded fears.

Erin teaches Dad how to Play
Fast forward several weeks to the evening the girls invaded camp. A hundred miles into the deep, dark Maine woods, in the absolute middle of nowhere, these poor girls stumbled into an old camp filled with 6 anxious old timers all frantically attempting to clean, hide the nudie magazines and cook an elegant dinner of steak, potatoes and pickled products. I can only imagine what those poor ladies must have been thinking in their initial assessment.  Of course, in a testament to the constitutions of both ladies, they bravely managed to hold their ground, graciously accepting our offer to direct them to their shared bedroom.

As we continued to busy ourselves with our assigned chores, the girls settled down and began asking questions and snapping the occasional photograph. I could see some initial tension in a couple of the camps more “senior” resident troglodytes and I wondered how the evening would progress. Of course, one hour later we were all sitting together in the living room, toasting alcoholic beverages, Dad wailing away on the guitar and both ladies singing along to old country tunes, like they had been rehearing this very moment for years. I smirked, now knowing that my initial concerns were badly ill founded. Both Sophie and Erin were very quick witted, intelligent and charismatic. One of my Dad’s old army buddies even remarked that these were the type of girls he prayed that his boys might chance to someday bring home. Yes, it was genuinely apparent, the boys were seriously smitten.

Just joining the conversation? Then be sure to see: Girls At Deer Camp? (Part 1) and be sure to see the exciting conclusion Girls At Deer Camp? (Part 3).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Girls at Deer Camp? (Part 1)

Early last summer, I had the good fortune of striking up a friendship with some of the fine people at Maine Magazine in Portland. Through that meeting, I was asked to participate in an interview that was highlighted in the magazines October 2011 edition. At the same time, their editor inquired if I would be willing to have two of their staff members join me during our annual deer camp. With little thought as to what I was actually getting myself into, I excitedly agreed. What I failed to consider, was that the writer and/or the photographer could potentially be female. As the date approached and the final selections were made, it was determined that both writer and photographer would be women.

This breach of deer hunting etiquette was of course of great concern to the rest of the deer camp rabble and the cause of much angst. Many conversations were had concerning the ramifications of having women at deer camp and the potential consequences of these actions. In the end, however, we all had little to fear as the professionalism and flexibility of the Maine Magazine staffers was inspiring. Their abilities to hang with the guys and freely participate in our various camp activities, made everyone feel comfortable and at ease.

This little adventure, however, made me begin to consider the ultimate question, should women be invited to deer camp?
The Stage is Set
Without a doubt, many of you are confused by the content of this post. I mean isn’t the very reason we go to deer camp in the first place, to escape from those of the female species who would force us to cook, clean and partake in other household chores that we despise? In fact, don’t we as men relish our time afield without worry of a woman nagging us about some trivial detail like drinking to much beer or watching Sunday football? Isn’t deer camp a time for us men to reconnect with our primitive selves by over eating food stuffs filled with saturated fat, openly releasing bodily gasses and doing all of the things that are generally frowned upon by our significant others? Honestly, the very notion of women at deer camp quite frankly scares the hell out of me!

Despite all of these fears, perhaps slightly exaggerated for the sake of an interesting story, deer camp 2011 had me in the strange position of hosting not ONE but TWO women at deer camp! I know that many of you are without a doubt shaking your heads, at my apparent loss of sanity.  I mean what guy in his right mind would actually invite women to participate in such a revered male right of passage and ultimately violate the cardinal rule of deer camp . . . NO GIRLS ALLOWED!

Thinking back to the Little Rascals and their “He-man Woman Haters” club and Al Bundy of “Married with Children” and his anti-woman organization called “No MA AM”, are we as men actually conditioned from infancy to create boundaries between what activities and events are approved for men and those approved for women to participate? Considering this revelation, it comes as no surprise that men possess a natural disposition toward organizing events that exclude women. In all honesty our late night poker games, super bowl parties, gentlemen clubs, fishing trips and even deer camp are all the fault of our society . . . quite honestly ladies we are innocent!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I have to admit that until my recent friendship, with those survivalist nuts over at (FYI SHTF = S%&* Hits The Fan), I had never given much thought to TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) and the “survival” mentality. These blog and websites are after all only filled with the paranoid ramblings of a bunch of crazies’ right? I guess what I have failed to grasp, in my quick to judge mentality, is that these folks are just like you and me. As a matter of fact many of them actually ARE you and me!

Most of these folks, we classify as “survivalists” are nothing more than simply folks who are better prepared than the average person for the unexpected. They posses a fine tuned understanding of what has to be done in any situation, in which natural and unnatural disasters might make regular life difficult to maintain. Depending on the group or individual, this might include anything from having extra food and water on hand to the more radical end creating stockpiles of weapons and ammo. If we are realistic, all of us could benefit from taking a look at some of these “preparation” guidelines, to ensure our family are protected should disaster strike.

As a fun write, I thought I organized the following posting for the survival nuts and the wanna bee survival nuts. Get out there and do some basic prep work, the life you save just might be your own! Enjoy!

AR15 Makes a GREAT Zombie Stomper! 
News flash, the world just ended. Last night while you slept, a giant asteroid filled with brain munching zombies slammed into the earth, creating a continent leveling tidal wave and setting off all of the volcanoes on terra firma. In some strange twist of fate, you still appear to have Internet access (otherwise how could you be reading this) and electricity for an amount of time impossible to determine. 

I am sorry to inform you but you are now SOL and left to spend what little time remains of your rather small and potentially inconsequential life, contemplating why you didn’t heed the warnings of the SHTF and TEOTWAWKI survival “nuts” and take some basic precautions. It is perhaps fortunate you decided not to get married and have children, because you are going to have a hard enough time with your personal survival without complicating it with more mouths to feed and bodies to defend from the flesh eaters.

Go ahead and have a good cry, yes you screwed up bad but there is a small chance you might potentially pull through this catastrophe, at least for a little while. So, after you recover from your very unmanly emotional collapse, dry your tears and put on your big boy pants because you have got some serious work to do, if you hope to have any chance of surviving the next 24 hours.

Why just a day, you inquire? Shouldn’t I set my sights a little further ahead like next week or next year you ask? No dummy, you had years to prepare, before the asteroid hit, and you refused. Instead of preparing you whiled away you’re available lazy days relaxing, drinking beer and playing video games. That chance has now come and gone, you need to concentrate on the here and now, if you expect to not quickly become an insignificant memory.

44 Magnum Zombie Vaporizer
First, the human body can’t survive long without water so run into your bathroom and fill up the tub. Yes, I am sure it is filled with soap scum, pubic hair and other remnants to horrible to mention but that mistah is YOUR fault. Just stop that drain and let the good times roll. In a few hours, dry mouth will eliminate your cares as to the cleanliness of this water AND despite how you feel about the before mentioned contaminants, they won’t kill you.

Second, I am going to guess that since you are a bachelor, you will have about 2-3 days of food left, after the electricity dies and your refrigerator goes kaput. I assume you realize you need to eat the refrigerator food FIRST and any pantry foods second. After a few days, much care should be taken on any foods that were refrigerated as they will begin to carry bacteria and other nasties that, if consumed, will make you wish a zombie had torn you limb from limb. Then again, eat it all now and enjoy your last meal because there is a good chance you aren’t going to make it much past today.

Third, it is important that along with the critical elements of water and food you also need to remember to breath. While the afore mentioned consumables are important, air is EXTREMELY important. You might even say it is the most important. So, you may ask how do I keep breathing? That is a very good question young Jedi and one that you are likely going to have to work out for yourself. Since you probably don’t have a gun to defend yourself and lack the very basic elements to fortify your position like nails, wood and a hammer, you are going to have to get creative. Couches, mommies china cabinet and other large pieces of furniture can be used to block doorways, just make sure to always leave yourself some means of escape. Kitchen knives, baseball bats, even a bar of soap in a tube sock are all viable means of increasing your lethal capacities, however, remember that with these limited means hiding will always be your most valuable weapon.

With Zombies When in Doubt Go BIG!
If you are very lucky, you may be able to stumble upon a group of others who are much more prepared than you were. Unfortunately, unless you have some valuable skill, unto which you can give back to the “team”, they are likely going to quickly tire of caring for and feeding you.  At that point you will either be cannibalized or used to lure zombies into a ring of fire.

Considering that following my basic instructions, you have miraculously managed to breath one more day, perhaps you have had time to think and explore the possible options and scenarios available to you. It is likely that you feel good about your 24 hour accomplishment and are thinking that this survival stuff is easy. Do you mind if I stop you right there and make a suggestion? Given that you are likely only delaying the inevitable, it is my opinion you should consider life as a zombie. I hear the hours are long and of course there is the brain/raw flesh eating thing but you also don’t have to worry about health care! So, ultimately don’t worry anymore lay back, relax, have a beer, open the front door and let the zombies nibble on your scalp, I promise it will all be over in a second . . . nirvana awaits!
Think you can survive on Hunting and Gathering after TEOTWAWKI? Think again! Country Boy Can't Survive! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mr. President Steals My Banded Duck

As I slowly leveled my shotgun and began tracking the unsuspecting hen eider flying across the horizon, a fragment of choked back laughter and the quick shuffle of feet momentarily distracted me. Before I could react to the disturbance, a single round of 12 gauge shot blasted forth from Mr. President’s Mossberg shotgun. As I attempted to recover from this erratic, unscheduled breach of shooting etiquette, I watched as the duck I had been tracking nose dived into the salty brine of the Atlantic. As we motored to retrieve the downed duck, I attempted to comprehend what I had done to the President to deserve such an underhanded, back stabling action, my brother said forth the following, “Steve that bird El President stole from you has a band.”

At that moment, a torrent of obscenities burst forth from my mouth, in such a powerful onslaught of vulgarity that they threatened to capsize the boat. You might say I was possessed, seeming unable to control the 4 letter words as they spewed from the dark recesses of my soul, in a display so sinister they even made my brother and Mr. President blush.

As I started to recover from my shock and disbelief, I pondered through the complexities of the healing process and crafted the following poem to my “friend”, Mr. President.
Mr. President’s Dark Heart
There once was a man for Beals Island.
Whose friendship I had grow to rely on.

That is until that sad day.
When he stole my duck away.

Because his heart is as dark as a Cylons.
It is truly amazing the power words have in lifting a person’s spirits. Now that I have worked my way through the various stages of pain and suffering, I begin to see why I make my trips to Beal’s Island only once every 4-5 years. I suppose this event is Mr. Presidents way of getting me back for not shooting that Wood Duck this season or perhaps the yearly pike fishing fiascos, either way revenge is sweet my friend . . . revenge is sweet.

For more on this sorted tale and another poem dealing with the debauchery from Mr. President’s perspective, please see “Ode to Ye Friend Rabid”.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Manly Sportsman Smoothie

This Smoothie Will Make You A . . .
For years, I had struggled to find the perfect “Outdoorsman” breakfast. A simple meal that doesn’t leave me wanting to take a mid morning nap, yet still keeps me fueled till early afternoon. While the typical hunters breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes and corned beef hash is delicious, filling and a powerful way to start a long day hunting, extended preparation and eating time make this choice a difficult prospect. For the excited hunter, wanting to rush out the door and get to his/her stand before first light, this is rarely a viable option.

More portable means, like breakfast burritos, power bars, canned sardines are faster and more mobile choices but each have their own unique drawbacks. Burritos need to be kept warm, bars have noisy wrappers and sardines . . . well, just plain stink! These are all challenges to the hunter who wants to fill this rumbling belly quickly, silently and without lingering smells.

There exists little doubt in my mind that this post will make me the center of scorn and ridicule. I am certain many of my sporting brethren are going to receive perverse pleasure in taunting my less than manly posting on “smoothies”. However, to these naysayers I will not bow, for I have found what could potentially be the easiest and fastest breakfast on the planet! Not only does it have the benefit of being able to be consumed quickly, speeding your departure to the blind or stand but it also contains the hunger taming ferocity of a Bengal tiger (or sexual tyrannosaurus) . Fill a 32 oz container with this magical elixir and be free of a growling stomach for at least 5 hours.

In a blender combine all of the following elements and mix the heck out of it until it has a smooth consistency. When properly mixed, finish by pouring everything into a large container with a tight fitting top. (I find that Nalgene and large mouth Gatorade bottles work great). Make sure to use a high quality container, as this is definitely not the type of beverage you ever want to have to strain out of your hunting pack.

This recipe isn’t an exact science on the measurements, as each person should take this basic structure and modify to their individual tastes and needs. Here however are the basics:

The Manly Sportsman Smoothie:
1. 2 Bananas
2. 1 Packet of Vanilla Instant Breakfast
3. 2 Cups of Liquid Egg Product
4. ½ Cup of Honey
5. 2 Teaspoons of Wheat Germ
6. 2 Cups of Spinach or ½ an Avocado
7. 2 Cups of OJ, Milk or some preferable fruit juice
8. 2 Table Spoons of Peanut Butter
9. 2 Teaspoons of Grated Ginger
10. 2 Cups of Yogurt

*If this somehow magically adds up to 32 ozs I would be AMAZED! So, fill blender with caution.

For optimal absorption and to avoid being “over full”, take a few big gulps before heading out, a few more once at your location and smaller sips throughout the morning. By spacing out your consumption, the fullness factor seems to linger a bit longer.

Other links to less manly Smoothie recipes:

If anyone has any other great “hunter” breakfast recipes to share please drop a comment! Thanks!
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