Monday, February 28, 2011

Fish Chowdah On Ice

The trick with cooking any meal in the wilds is preparation. The more food tasks you can complete at home, the fewer you will have to carry out in less than optimal conditions and the higher your chances of success. This is especially important ice fishing, when low temperatures, high winds and a variety of other factors can make fixing even a simple meal impossible. Below is a fun recipe that is easy and delicious on a freezing cold day.

Fish Chowdah
The night before your big trip to the frozen wastelands, at home combine in a large soup pot:
  • One Large Vidalia (Sweet) Onion
  • Six Large Peeled Russet Potatoes
  • An Ample Sprinkling of Old Bay
  • Three Teaspoons of Salt
  • One Teaspoon of Cracked Black Pepper
  • Splash of Olive Oil
  • Fry and Add 5-6 Strips of Finely Chopped Bacon
Add enough water to these ingredients, to just cover everything. Bring the entire mix to a boil and continue to simmer until the potatoes are soft. Set aside and wait for everything to cool. After cooling add cover and duct tape it in place around the entire outside of the lid. This will keep everything from accidentally spilling and running your meal.

A half-hour before you plan to eat, start up the stove and add:
  • Water if necessary
  • One Small Can of Minced Clams
  • One Small Can of Small Shrimp
  • Two Cans of Evaporated Milk
  • 4-5 Fillets of Perch, Pike, Bass or other Fish You Catch
Let this entire mix come up to a boil STIRRING CONSTANTLY and that is it! This amount should feed 6 hungry ice fishermen with room to spare. Just make sure you bring bowls, spoons, a ladle and a small Ziploc bag containing extra salt (for people to individually season to taste)!

Mint Chocolate Acetylene Appetizers
While everyone is standing around enjoying the mouth watering smells of the simmering fish chowdah, I usually pull out this concoction, which is ALWAYS a crowd pleasing favorite. Using enough “acquired” Dunkin Doughnut coffee cups and lids for everyone, fill each with two heaping spoonfuls of powdered hot coco mix. To this, add enough hot water from a thermos to fill the cups half to three quarters full. Fill the remainder of the cups with Dr. McGillicuddy’s Peppermint Schnapps. Be careful, if this is not drunk fast enough, it will eventually eat through the bottom of the cup!

Take care all and enjoy the final weeks of ice fishing!

More Ice Fishing:
Ice Fish Like a Kid Again
Ice Fish In a Canoe
Great Catch - VIDEO
Ice Fishing For Perch
I am A Fire Starter
Simple Circumstances Resurrect Outdoor Memories

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Statewide Ban of all Tree Harvesting on Sunday

Got Wood?

Thanks to all for writing in with comments concerning this fictitious satire. This post was written to take a poke at the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), one of the opponents to opening hunting in Maine on Sunday. In the last legislative session, they worked tirelessly with other small interest groups, to kill the bill that would have allowed Sunday hunting in Maine. In the process, they sealed Maine’s fate, ensuring it stay the absolute worst state in the nation for small business. Guide companies, ATV dealerships, L.L.Bean, Cabelas, gas stations, Ma and Pa Groceries, hotels, motels, inns (the list goes on and on) all suffer because of a outdated blue law we are apparently to ignorant to correct. Does it make sense to ban cutting wood on Sunday? Hell no! Does it make sense to continue to ban hunting on Sunday . . . sorry to cut this explanation short but I am off to New Hampshire to hunt coyotes and spend my money outta state! Bye!

FYI, if you don't want to comment specifically below and would like another avenue unto which to beat me up, call me names or horse whip me in any fashion related to my creation of this elaborate hoax please see:
Please join in supporting Proposed Public Law 182.b, “A Statewide Ban of all Tree Harvesting on Sunday”. This law would effectively ban all logging, transport of logs, cutting, felling, de-limbing, tipping and chainsaw activity within the state of Maine boundaries on Sunday. The laws main focus and purpose is to protect Maine’s forests and woodland animals from the current continued and uninterrupted abuse put forth by both large enterprise level log harvesting companies, self employed pseudo-independent harvesting firms and small independent wood lot owners. It is critical for the health and well being of Maine’s ecosystem and its people that at least one day a week exists when the woods are not molested by these intrusive and destructive logging operations. Providing one day a week, devoid of tree harvesting, will allow a break in the continued cycle of assault put forth against Mother Nature, allowing displaced woodland animals a chance to reunite with broken family groups, nesting birds an opportunity to relocate and stressed rare insects, annelids and avifauna ample time to recover from the excessively raucous tree cutting operations and practices.

The basic tenants of the law would not only provide support for Maine’s ecology but also economy. Currently, these operations pose a significant and dangerous threat to hikers, backpackers, fishermen and bird watchers. Careless loggers are often intoxicated and pay little if any attention to where the trees are falling and have been know on occasion to injure people with their reckless conduct. Having a special day of the week when one could walk through the Maine woods without having to worry about being killed by a logging truck or hearing the ear damaging and disturbing sounds of chainsaws, skidders, cutter/fellers, etc. would allow Maine to be unique among the other states. The tourism industry would be provided with a significant boost, as our place as a national leader in ecotourism would be heightened by our progressive measures to support the natural balance of our state.

To re-state the above tenants, banning logging on Sunday will enrich Maine’s tourism industry, eliminate a potentially dangerous and threatening environment from our woodlands, provide critical support for native animals and allow wellbeing to return to our dying forests and depressed populations of woodland animals.

Please join me in taking the fight to Augusta as PL182.b is presented to the joint legislative inland fisheries and wildlife committee next month!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Gun Is Civilization

by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it. In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion.

Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some. When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society.

A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser wins confrontations. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it weren’t both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Taking a Kid Fishing Yields Happy Memories

Fishing and kids seem to go together better than helpless women and railroad tracks. It is one of those activities that youngster’s just pick-up easily and enjoy naturally, without any added pressure or encouragement. Put a fishing pole in the hands of a child and watch a strange transformation occur. Eyes glazed from watching too much TV are awakened, tongues wag no stop from exhilaration and little legs and arms vibrate with the excitement and anticipation of a possible catch. Even the most bored and despondent kids, will be transformed into industrious sportsmen in training, as their inquisitive minds attempt to unravel all of the mysteries of the fishing sport. As they delve deeper they will eventually come to realize that all aspects of “fishing” simply cannot be learned in a lifetime. Perhaps this is part of the attraction, the sport of fishing can be as complicated OR as simple as one desires. It need be no more complicated (unless one chooses) than a simple stick, line, hook and worm. It is a sport of the rich and poor alike and each has an equal chance of scoring a true personal trophy.

It is certainly no secret that fishing is a meditative and therapeutic endeavor.  The act of wetting a line on a lazy afternoon is even better than the strongest medication in relaxing frayed nerves. In this hectic, stressful, fast passed world in which we live, are we doing our children a disservice not providing them with an introduction to these skills? If you have children take them out fishing! If you need assistance you need look no further than your local bait shop and closest stream. If you are looking for a more involved adventure, think about securing the services of a registered Maine guide . . . the little money you spend will make for a lifetime of happy memories.

For More On Fishing With Kids Check Out These Posts:

1. Hook Kids Into Fishing – Introduction

2. Hook Kids Into Fishing – Hooks and Lures

3. Hook Kids Into Fishing – Putting It All Together

4. Hook Kids Into Fishing – What If We Catch Something

6. Lil Man Catches First Fish

Monday, February 14, 2011

VBLs Beat Cold and Keep Boots Dry

Chances are extremely good that you probably have never heard of VBLs (Vapor Barrier Liners) or if you have are unsure how they function or can work to improve your winter outdoor experiences. Mountaineers have known for years about the benefits of VBLs but for the average sportsman they are relatively unfamiliar. This is due to the superior performance of VBLs at high altitude and on winter excursion measured in weeks rather than days, two scenarios rarely encountered by the “average” sportsman. In fact, VBLs may be one of the most misunderstood pieces of equipment in the cold fighting arsenal.  If you constantly battle with cold toes then VBL are a great solution and I encourage you to read on.

VBLs are basically a thin layer of plastic that can be worn directly on your foot OR more typically on top of a thin synthetic liner sock (no cotton!). The liner sock is then covered with your heavy weight wool or synthetic sock and the works are stuffed into your boots. The logic behind VBLs is that they lock in the moisture generated by your foot and don’t allow it to seep into your heavy insulating sock and boot liners. This is extremely beneficial, if you have feet that produce sweat by the bucketful! An added benefit is that your feet will actually stop perspiring when the area around your skin reaches 100% humidity. Something about osmosis, diffusion, semi-permeable membranes or some other scientific blather that frankly makes my head ache. Many sources will explain that VBLs will not necessarily make your feet “warmer” but instead will make them “drier”. However, a dry sock will keep you toastier longer as its loft will be maintained. For this reason, I add approximately +5 degrees F to the insulation rating of any boot system incorporating VBLs.

The Experiment:
For those looking to try VBLs I suggest that before you jump on the internet and order a pair for $30 bucks that you try an experiment to see if you like the VBL system. VBLs are certainly not for everyone and some love em and some hate em. For the LOVERS they embrace all of the components mentioned above, dry feet and toasty toes. For the HATERS they complain about damp liner socks and feet that slide around in their boots worse than an Olympic slalom skier.

First visit your sock drawer and find a pair of thin SYNTHETIC dress sock. Put then on your feet and next get your hands on the wife’s oven roasting bags (chicken) or plastic bread bags and slide them on. Lastly, pull out your smart wool expedition weight socks and put them on as well. Throw the entire works into your favorite ice fishing or hunting boot and head out onto the hardwater or into the woods and see how it works!

For those of you brave enough to try my little experiment it would be great to receive a comment. An explanation of your experience (length of time out, temperature, etc.) would be great BUT for those short on time a quick response of LOVER or HATER would be more than sufficient! Thanks!

Friday, February 11, 2011

January Temperature in Maine Reaches 117 F

I wanted to share this Game Camera picture that clearly shows the temperature in Maine during the month of January can occasionally reach a high of 117 degrees F. At this rate all the snow should be gone and we should be in shorts and t'shirts by February vacation!

Game Cameras Obviously Struggle at Below Zero Temps

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Photographing Animal Tracks

Following, identifying and deciphering animal tracks is a fun and interesting hobby for the old and new outdoorsman alike. While tracking can be done anytime of year, the easiest time is in the winter after a new blanket of snow has carpeted the woodlands. Even the most junior tracker, will enjoy following the easy to identify tracks of the varying hare, pursuing the tree hopping path of the gray squirrel or seeing the diminutive footprints of a field mouse quickly escaping into a burrow and barely missing the talons of an owl.
Find Good Tracks
Photographing animal tracks requires first finding good tracks. Mud and sticky snow (the kind ideal for snowballs!) create the perfect mediums for capturing “good” tracks.  Ensure each track clearly shows the claws, toes and pads. The more detail you are able to pull from the impression, the better quality the rendered photo and easier it will be to identify any unknown tracks. Also, don’t focus looking only for larger tracks; sometimes mice, shrews and other small rodents leave great tracks as they stride along the snow’s surface.
A small digital camera and a guidebook are all that you need to get started photographing tracks. A digital camera is vastly better than the film variety as it will allow a beginner to quickly review photos and make adjustments on the fly as necessary. Other “professional level” components like light reflectors, polarized lenses, tripods, separate flash/lighting units and high-end digital cameras can be incorporated as your interest and skill level grows.

Good Light
The most critical component of any good photograph is light. Low and harsh sunlight both create challenges when trying to photograph a track with definition. Use a flashlight to shine more light on to a track (low directional light makes a track standout) or if there is too much light use your shadow to shade it.
Watch your Frame
While there are many “rules” to creating good photographs, as making sure the horizon is level, breaking it into thirds, etc. the most important rule is to have fun. Remember that photography should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different light and various angles. Try a low angle, to show the print in the context of its surroundings. Bring a bag of carbon black out, to blow on the print and heighten its features. Look online to get ideas and suggestions from other photographers. Only by playing and trying new and different options will you be able to become a better photographer.

Coyote - RabidOutdoors
Size References
To properly size tracks, it is helpful to use a measuring tape. Having specific size references will assist you later in identifying the tracks or the tracks of different animals of the same type. In a pinch, pennies, shot shells, dollar bills or other items of generally known size, will help you and your viewers estimate track size.

As you head out this weekend on your tracking adventure, I would be interested in seeing what you are able to capture. Please e-mail ( any photos that you get and I will post them on the blog as a slide show. I will also be compiling a list of blog postings that highlight photographing animal tracks so send me a link and I will include below! Thanks and good luck!

For Additional Animal Track Photography Be Sure to Check Out:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blue Whales Go Caca?!?!

That is a squirrel track Daddy and that one is a rabbit, proudly exclaimed my four year old. I marveled at the speed at which he had mastered the basic principals of identifying animals through their tracks. Next, I asked him what direction he assumed the rabbit was traveling. Momentarily puzzled he dropped to all fours, resting his nose only inches from the rabbit track. Hmmmm, he pondered, I can see its toes. Great I said, what way are his toes pointing? This way, he excitedly exclaimed and dove headlong into an overgrown spruce thicket fit for neither man nor beast. Minutes passed slowly, as I wondered how his hunt was progressing. Suddenly from the undergrowth, came a low howl . . . DAAAAAADEEEEE! Yes, buddy is everything ok? DAAAADEEEE, I think I found sumpthin?!?!? What is it, I inquired, a rabbit? NO, was the giggled response. DAAAADDDDDEEEE come here I want to show you sumpthin!!

Crawling through snow on hands and knees with spruce needles entering every orifice of my body is not necessarily my idea of a good time but in the interest of child rearing sometimes you have to submit yourself to unthinkable acts in the interest of your child’s education. As I struggled through a particularly complex tangle of shrubbery, I mumbled a soft thank you to the heavens that at least I wasn’t still changing diapers.

Finally arriving beside the lil man I noted he was again on hands and knees examining something. Daddy what is that, he inquired, extending one tiny little tentative finger toward a dozen small round brown objects, littering the surface of the snowy ground. AHHH, I said you have found rabbit caca. “RABBITS GO CACA!?!?” . . . blurted my very perplexed but also extremely interested child. Yes, I said, but another more acceptable term is scat or droppings. “RABBITS GO CACA!??!” . . . came his reaction, this time with added gusto! Yes, I answered; all living things must excrete waste in one fashion or another from the tiniest bacteria to the largest Blue Whale. A look shot across his face, one part confusion and two parts horrified and the lil man belted out at the top of his lungs . . . BLUE WHALES GO CACA!?!

If you haven’t taken your child(ren) out on a snow covered day to look for animal tracks, you are missing out on some fantastic memories. A quick download from the Internet will provide you with all of the materials you need to start this simple and cost effective backyard adventure. If you encounter a track you are unsure of OR simply for documentation purposes (like how many different tracks can we find today, this winter or this year) having a digital camera on hand to record the tracks you find (and the fun) is an added benefit to the overall experience.
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