Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ten Pounds of Pike (Video)

Over the past week, I was fortunate to be able to ice fish with family and friends on a variety of lakes and ponds ranging from Island Fall to my very own backyard. During that time, we were able to catch some truly fantastic fish, ranging from brook trout and salmon to yellow perch, large mouth bass and even a few nice Northern Pike. 

After three straight days of ice fishing, we finally managed to land the largest fish of Febachery AND get the entire ordeal on camera. In the video below, my Floridian friend Karen lands her very first fish through the ice, while her husband Ronnie and I provide direction and assistance! 

When pulling large, powerful fish like Northern Pike through the ice, it is important that everyone work as a team. Note in the video one person plays the fish, another manages the reel and makes sure the line doesn't become tangled and finally someone manages the hole. Without working together, I guarantee that this fish would not have been landed. *Note in the video that the hook pops out of the fishes mouth but my hands are there for the save! SWEET!

Job Well Done! Congratulations Karen! 
For More Classic Pike Fishing Action Video See: The Duckman's Version of Febachery!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ice Fishing Classic Photos - Febachery - (Part 2)

Registered Maine Guides 
Uncle Kim Having a Jig
Ryan's First N. Pike!
Family and Friends Enjoying a Great Day on the Ice!
For More on Febachery Please See:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ice Fishing Classic Photos - Febachery (Part 1)

Sun Rise - Pleasant Pond, Island Falls
Checking Ice Traps - Pleasant Pond, Island Falls
Diesel Jigging - Pleasant Pond, Island Falls
A Feast of Silver Sides - Pleasant Pond, Island Falls
Early Morning Ice on Trees - Pleasant Pond, Island Falls
For More on Febachery Please See:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Time Hunting and Fishing Books For Kids

As an introduction to hunting and fishing, I have recently been reading my boys three fun books by Michael and Curtis Waguespack. The two hunting books focus on the pursuit of deer and turkey, while the fishing book looks at catching bass and catfish. 

As could be expected given the age the books target, the two hunting books don’t include hunting with a firearm but rather hunting with your eyes and learning the habits and habitats displayed and frequented by deer and turkeys. This is a great start to these sporting passions, as learning these basic skills will allow youngsters to eventually build up to an actual hunting scenario with a firearm.

All three books construct a lighthearted look at hunting and fishing and are a pure joy to read with kids. Read these books with your youngsters and get them excited about these outdoor pursuits!!

Check out Michael’s Blog at:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Shelter Construction for Kids

Never Sit Directly on Snow or Ice!!
There are few survival skills more critical than knowing how to stay alive in adverse weather conditions. Of these extreme environments, none is more dreadful than the prospect of spending a frigid night out in the unforgiving Maine winter.  Over the years, many outdoorsmen have died of exposure after getting lost or stranded and succumbing to the freezing cold. To survive the night in temperatures typically well below freezing, individuals must posses a unique and specialized skill set.

Mountaineers, Eskimos and even Maine’s furbearing animals, know well how to protect themselves from exposure and actually thrive in the hostile winter environment. The main killer of any creature, in the deep freeze of winter, is its inability to conserve body heat. Though this phenomenon can occur through a variety of ways, it is most deadly when it involves wind chill. Forest animals and man are very familiar with the brutal effect of wind can have on drastically lowering ambient temperatures. Battling these forces is as simple as standing in the lee of a tree, rock or along the edging of a spruce thicket. This basic knowledge will allow you to become instantly warmer on a day with high winds. It is certainly no surprise then that one secret to surviving in winter is partially dependent on getting out of the wind.

Snow Tunnels are FUN!
While it is possible to use natural barriers to shelter oneself against the wind, it is much more effective to build shelters out of snow and ice. Effectively constructed snow shelters not only shield your from the wind but also insulate against the cold. Though many designs exist, the most popular shelters in order of greatest to least complexity include: igloos, quinzees, snow caves and trenches.

With the potential that the knowledge required to construct one of these structures could potentially some day save your life, building snow shelters is a great skill to teach children. Kids are naturals at learning how to construct snow structures and if provided the opportunity, likely to teach you a thing or two about snow shelter construction. Snow is a natural, fun and relatively forgiving medium to work with and it can be done with a simple set of tools that likely everyone already owns.

When hooking small children (2-6 years) into learning this cold weather survival skill, it pays to start by constructing a snow tunnel.  This easy beginner level snow project is fun for kids to “play” in and is a building block to snow cave construction. At 5 years old most kids will easily be able to build their own tunnels without parental assistance! By the time children reach 6-10 years of age, they will easily understand the basic dynamics of snow construction and be prepared to build larger and more complex snow shelter projects. At that point, it is simply a matter of providing them instruction and eventually preparing for their first overnight winter camping trip staying in their new snow and ice home!

Snow Shelter Construction Websites:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ice Fishing: Mastering the Hook Set

It is perhaps the most important question that all ice fishermen contend with and a frequent point of contention, when to set the hook. Though a relatively simple question, the answer is of course, difficult to calculate and based on a mind-blowing set of variables.

Water depth, the consistency of the bottom, weed beds, the targeted species, size of bait, the speed the line is spooling, has the line stopped, direction the line is heading (straight down or off to side) and what is your level of patience? All these factors must be considered and play a critical role in when to decide it is time to tug on that line.

It is the bane of all ice fishermen, miss a fish and you are sure to receive a tongue lashing by you hard water brethren, whenever a fish doesn't end up on the ice. They will without an ounce of censure, blather on incessantly, making it difficult for you to choke back your reflex to grab them by the neck and shake vigorously. The comments will center around the following complaints; you should have let the fish run, you set the hook too quick, you waited to long to set the hook, the complains weigh heavily upon your mind, as even you begin to question your choices. The debate will with little doubt rage on into the evening, until someone burns on the steaks or drinks to much and then the group will move to target another unfortunate but leave you alone to reevaluate the timing of your jerking

I have watched ice fishermen successfully land large Lake Trout (see video and note the fish had barely eaten the large bait!) after timing when they set the hook based on the length of time it takes them to smoke an entire cigarette. I'll admit it might not be an "exact" science but some ice fishermen seem to have a sixth sense about specifically when to set the hook, their minds apparently ripe with the ability to run the approximately one million calculations with the efficiency of Rainman.

Now personally, I have always been a wait and see kind of ice fisherman. Watch the line and wait, letting the fish dictate when that time to yank is "right". If the line isn’t moving or it is barely creeping along, it is often best to delay and allow the fish time to swallow the bait. If you are fishing in very shallow water or an area with many underwater obstructions, the amount of time you decide to wait before setting the hook, must be tempered against the possibility that the fish will tangle itself on boulders, stumps and logs, in an attempt to free itself.

Watching line spool off the line with such speed that it causes water to rooster tail off the reel is what ice fishermen live to see. This is typically a good sign that the fish has a solid hold on the bait and an effective hook set can be made. I am also very fond of the short run, line stop (fish eating bait) and the second run. Often as soon as the second run starts I set the hook.

As with all things dealing with a wide set of unknowns, even when you do everything right it will be wrong. Ice fishing is about trial and error, learning from mistakes and basking in the warm glow of landing a truly monster fish. If you have never ice fished, I strongly suggest trying it just once; you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you will enjoy the experience! To all the hard water masters good luck this season and hopefully I will see you out there on the ice!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Camo: Little Changes Make Big Difference

Your wife has already told you a thousand times it is the little things that make the biggest differences. I’m guessing that despite her best efforts, you still haven’t managed to pay attention to this critical detail. Well given that Valentines Day is just around the corner, I suggest that you begin planning now to avoid the embarrassment of potentially coming home with no card, flowers or chocolates. Trust me, using the phrases; “I forgot”, “There is always next year” or “No present could ever properly express how much I love you” are only going to end up landing you in a place I like to call Hell.  So, jump online and just order flowers, its like pulling off a band-aid, one quick motion, some pain and then its over. Trust me, despite the initial discomfort of this process, overall it will be much easier to deal with than the months of not having sex.

So, now that we have got the nonsense of Valentines Day taken care of, we still need to address this little point about you not paying attention to details. I am going to guess that you are one of “those” guys that always shows up in the duck blind without wearing a face mask . . . right? Oh sure, you have the $250 Gore-Tex Underarmor hunting jacket in AdvHD, matching waders and ball cap but you still think nothing of showing up without at least smearing your face with camo paint? Let me guess, your friends scream “KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN” as the ducks fly in!! Unforgiveable I say!

See this is what you wife has been bitching about and precisely why I am going to attempt to help you. I can see right away, that I have my work cut out for me, because after all these years of her nagging and complaining, you are still the same old “not paying attention to the little things” Neanderthal you have always been. Well Mistah that stops now!

It is shameful that it has finally come down to me having to lecture you but it is what it is. Perhaps before we tackle the larger issue of you not listening to your wife, we can start with a smaller project designed to bring you to task. I say lets take a look at something I know you are interested in, shooting more “stuff”. Yes, I mean that by paying more attention to the little things, we can make ducks rain down from the sky and turkeys flop over dead due to the awesomeness of your presence. Ok, maybe not that good but my suggestions certainly can’t hurt.

To begin, I believe the time has come for you to take a good look over your existing camouflage and examine it for weaknesses. No, I don’t mean holes, tears and broken zippers and such, I mean where can you improve you ability to “blend”. To assist you in this endeavor, here are four potential areas you should review that are most commonly overlooked.

Face – Though most critical, sportsmen typically overlook the face. The face is challenging to camouflage in a way that is comfortable and practical. Bottom line, if you have a face mask that doesn’t fit properly throw it out, because you ultimately aren’t going to consistently wear it OR worse, it is going to end up blocking your vision at a crucial moment when you are trying to take a shot. Trust me this is the voice of experience. Many types of facemasks exist, that will provide adequate coverage but finding one to match your needs and specific hunting situation can be exhausting. I currently have about a dozen different facemasks. For example, one is fleece lined for late season deer; another is all mesh for June turkeys, then there is the neoprene ½ mask for January sea ducks and finally the full face fleece lined mask for hunting late season coyotes in brown woodlands camouflage, black and all white. The trick is to have a wide enough selection that allows you to always match your facemask to the weather and blend in with the natural environment you are hunting.

Gloves – When hunting, the two body parts most likely to move are head and hands. Now since we have already discussed the head, lets take a look at what you are doing to conceal the visual disturbances caused by your hands. Ungloved hands create a lot of visual disturbance whether you are repositioning you firearm for a shot or scratching your head. Again, with this item I have several different pairs of gloves designed to match the weather and blend with the environment. Critical with gloves, as previously mentioned with facemasks, is perfect fit. A badly fitted glove can inadvertently place pressure on a trigger and cause it to fire at an inopportune time. On the other hand a glove that is too thin may allow better trigger feel but be grossly ineffective in warding off the cold. Chemical heater packs and mittens with trigger openings are a great way to insulate with less “bulk” around your hands, allowing better control over your rifle’s safety and trigger.

Feet – Of all the body parts, feet are without a doubt the most often forgotten. Typically hanging freely from high atop a tree sand, buried in a brush pile or snow bank and rarely moving, hunters ignore their feet. While not nearly as critical to camouflage as head and hands, in certain situations feet can really stand out. Think hunter dressed in white camo standing in a snow-covered field with brown boots and YIKES you can see what I mean. What most don’t realize, is that feet are incredibly easy to camouflage without buying a dozen different pairs of boots. One of the easiest things to do is to simply pull your camouflage pant leg completely over the top part of the boot rather than tucking it in. This will succeed in hiding about 70% of the boots total visible area. For additional coverage a small piece of cloth matched to you hunting conditions can be draped over your boots to make them less obvious. The trick is to create less sharp lines and more of a “fuzzy” silhouette.

I understand that this is only a first small step young Jedi in you tutelage to become more adept at seeing, acting upon and appreciating the little things but remember that even the greatest journey must begin with a single step. Take my advice into consideration and perhaps by next Valentines Day you might be able to show the wife your O face.

Also read this article on the science of Camouflage:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wood Duck Nesting Boxes

Now that we finally have ice covering the lakes and ponds that can be "somewhat" trusted. The boys and I thought it would be fun to go out and put up this Wood Duck Nesting Box, provided by a friend. Unlike the common wooden nesting boxes, this one is made out of plastic. Though a different design than I am used to, I have no doubt that come Spring it will end up becoming home to a pair of woodies! The boys and I will enjoy going down to the flowage in the evenings and quietly watching the comings and goings of these colorful ducks!

When taking kids out to put up bird houses, bird feeders or nesting boxes, it is always a good opportunity to talk to them about wildlife conservation and how we all need to care for and nurture animals to make sure populations remain sustainable to all future generations. Though they might be small of stature, even the youngest minds are big on understanding and it is never too early to begin teaching these important ideals to the next generation of sportsmen.

The Wildman and The Savage
Future Heros of Conservation?!?

For Detailed Plans on How to Build Wood Duck Nesting Boxes Click: 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fine Tune Your Winter Camouflage

In order to be successful in winter hunting scenarios, you need to learn how to effectively blend into this challenging environment.  The best snow camouflage you can buy will do little to blend your silhouette, if you do not take the steps necessary to hide your facial features.

This is a relatively easy task, as long as you understand that the optimal coverage is going to be of the full-face “ski mask” variety. These types of masks provide excellent coverage, warmth and are close fitting to allow for good visibility. These masks can also be supplemented with an extra hat and hood should the hunting scenario turn brutally cold.

In order, these pictures present a "poor" to "excellent" ranking of head and face covers for hunting in the snow environment. 

Simple Hat - Rated Poor
Hat and White Hood - Rated Ok
Ski Mask - Rated Good
Ski Mask and Hood - Rated Excellent

For more on winter camouflage please read these additional blog posts:
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