Monday, May 28, 2012

Classic Grand Lake Canoe Photographs

Enjoy this collection of Classic Grand Lake Canoe Photographs. Photos were taken by Carolyn Vose and feature that master Grand Lake Canoe builder and my Dad, Steve Vose. Please read the Venerable Grand Lake Canoe for more information related to this impressive watercraft!  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Maine Guide Coffee

In the annuals of recorded time, there exist a few rare and memorable icons that define a place, an individual or even a profession. For the Maine guide, those emblems include the Venerable Grand Lake Canoe, the checkered wool guide coat, the L.L. Bean boot and of course the dark and hearty Maine guide coffee.

On its most basic level, there really is nothing all that special about the main ingredient in a properly brewed cup of Maine guide coffee. Many sports will claim that the coffee is the best they ever tasted and conclude that it must be derived from some type of special, expensive and hard to get secret blend. What many don’t realize, is that Folgers or Maxwell House are the brands of coffee most typically used, by a majority of guides and sporting camps, neither being rare or likely to impress defined palates. For a true coffee connoisseur to brew this concoction at home and ungraciously slurp it down, it would be unlikely they would think much of these brands of coffee, prepared in such unceremonious fashion.

What is missing from the recipe however and the secret to creating a truly exquisite cup of Maine guide coffee, is something that exists far beyond the type of coffee used. Skilled preparation, exquisite landscape and laid back attitude all work to make a typical cup of coffee just north of extraordinary. Even absent of sugar and cream, it has been said that Maine guide coffee only needs to be sweetened by the scenery and lightened with the pleasurable memories of a day of fishing to make it the perfect beverage.

How to make that Perfect Cup of Maine Guide Coffee
The perfect cup of Maine guide coffee is typically served during a shore lunch. It is rendered in a ceramic or steel “camping style” percolator, filled with lake water, a pinch of salt and then brought to a rolling boil over an open fire. This initial boil is done to ensure that any potential microscopic parasitic organisms meet their demise. After the water has boiled, it is taken off the direct heat and placed next to the fire, reducing the water to a slow simmer. Pouring coffee grounds into boiling water can cause the grounds to get over extracted, creating a cup of Joe ripe with bitterness and acidity.

The standard measure of coffee for the taste buds of most mere humans is approximately 2 Tbs. per 6 oz of water or 2 Tbs for every 1/8 cup. It is my belief that this measure makes for a cup of coffee that I would give to a small child. For an adult styled beverage, it would be my suggestion to double the prescribed amount of coffee grounds. This “heart paddle” blend is sure to jump start even the most sleepy sportsmen or hungover Maine guide.

Once a suitable amount of grounds is calculated, it is placed in a bowl and to it added one whole egg. The egg is simply cracked open and stirred into the grounds shell and all. This is done for two reasons, first to provide a means of collecting and eventually disposing of the expended grounds and secondly, to neutralize the acidity of the coffee by releasing the calcium in the egg shell. After approximately 10 minutes of simmering, the end product is a cup of coffee with few grounds, possessing a full bodied taste and lacking any apparent bitterness. (*Maine Guide Coffee will also sometimes be “enriched” with alcohol. Many old time guides will tell you that the biggest difference between a Maine Guide and a “Master” Maine Guide is that a Master Guide will always make sure his Sports receives a few splashes of whiskey in their cups should they so desire. It is my personal belief that this makes for sports who tend to tip more and like to call it a day early so they can go take a late afternoon nap. )

Lastly, the percolator should be pulled from the fire and allowed to set for a few minutes, to let any errant grounds settle to the bottom. It will then be slowly poured into an old ceramic coffee cup, that absolutely must be chipped or cracked. Sipped slowly while sitting beside the waters edge, it isn’t hard to see why Maine guide coffee is typically best described as amazing. For the lucky, few that have had this unique and unforgettable experience, you have certainly come to understand that in life enjoyment is derived from the little things. Enriched are our bodies, minds and spirits by the simple and natural beauty of our surroundings. Next time you unceremoniously chug down your cup of coffee from Starbucks, reflect on my words and make yourself a promise to one day drink Maine guide coffee.

If you are in the market for a cup of Maine guide coffee, I suggest making a reservation at one of the oldest and most famous sporting lodges in the country, Weatherby’s. Their fishing and hunting lodge originated in the nineteenth century and has become a way of life for many sportsmen looking for a quality outdoor experience. If you join Weatherby's for the 2012 season make sure and tell them the Rabid Outdoorsman sent you! Enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Wildman and The Savage Go Turkey Hunting

The Rabid, Wild & Savage Outdoorsmen!
As could be expected, I was very excited to finally get a chance to take the youngsters out for their very first turkey hunt. Though I expected a considerable amount of wiggling, talking and general mayhem from both the Wildman and the Savage, I still had high hopes we just might be able to get a gobbler to respond to our calling. I entered this experience knowing full well that any chance a turkey would actually approach to within visual range of my “exceedingly active” 4 and 6 year olds would be as they say, someplace squarely between slim and none.

Oh, I suppose someplace out there in the vast wilderness, there might exist a mentally challenged turkey with suicidal tendencies but I am under the impression a very happy coyote already likely ate him. No worries, as I knew both boys would be happy if they could just get out in the wilds with their Dad.

Being a Sunday, I was not legally able to carry a gun but that isn’t something I would introduce to a 4 and 6 year old anyway. Introduction to the finer points of marksmanship can come in a few years, when their bodies and minds are more focused. It is better at this age, to teach them how to identify the difference between hens, jakes and toms and how to pursue/lure turkeys, using calls, tracking and hide using effective camouflage.

Our plan was simple, we were to cut and run while walking out to our turkey blind, set-up our turkey decoy with a pull string and then spend 15-20 minutes playing with the decoy and practicing calling with our slate and box calls. Also, we would practice sitting still and whispering . . . likely more challenging for kids this age than anything else!

The Adventure Begins: 
After managing to rouse the sleepy heads out of bed, I proceeded to top off their empty bellies with Cheerios, Ring Dings and jellybeans. After all, if they are going to be hunters, they need to start eating like hunters! With considerable effort, the three of us finally managed to roll out the door around 9:00 AM, with us all sporting our most fashionable camouflage clothing.

Thankfully, a short walk leads to prime turkey territory so by 8:05 AM we were “hunting”. As we proceeded to walk to the turkey blind, the Wildman tore up the slate call with a series of deafening clucks and yelps, while the Savage happily abused my expensive handmade box call. I was excited to see that both devices reek of durability, still managing to function even after being repeatedly submersed in mud puddles. To see how our adventure went, please see the video below:

After our introduction to life in a turkey blind and the close gobbler encounter, the kiddos were still pretty excited to do some more “hunting”. On their direction, we need to track and follow the turkey to see exactly where he went. After not being able to find the turkey or much sign, we walked down to the beaver flowage (cutting and running the whole way) to check on the wood duck nesting box the three of us installed last winter. After watching and waiting for a very long and painful 5 minutes, we concluded that it was indeed empty of occupants and we began to s-l-o-w-l-y walk back home.

On the way, we pulled the memory card out of the game camera and replaced it with a new one. I explained to the kids that game cameras “trigger’ by motion and take pictures when something walks or moves in front of it. Curious and wanting to ham it up of the camera, I soon had 5 images and 150 seconds of video of something they are calling the “wiggle, wiggle your butts dance”. I would share the video but their dancing was infectious and I cannot allow the public to view my ghastly display of gyrating and shaking.

After the dancing, we proceeded toward home and noted several spots where turkey had come through and scraped up the leaves looking for bugs and grubs to eat. We also found several turkey tracks in the mud and measured them with our hands and tried to determine if it was a big “Tom” turkey or a little “Hen” turkey.

Arriving home, I noted smiling happy faces on two kiddos that appeared to have had a fun and enjoyable morning “hunting” turkeys with their Dad. In the end, what more really is there to hunting then spending time in the wilds with your loved ones and friends, sharing good times, stories and fun. Sure there is always the excitement of pulling the trigger, and I would be lying if I said I am not VERY excited to see the day when both of my boys harvest their first turkey. For the time being, however, I am content to wait and enjoy our “hunting” time together for what it is . . . pure love.
*If your planning to take your kids our “hunting” for turkeys be sure to read: “My First Turkey Hunt” by Michael and Curtis Waguespack, it’s a great way to introduce your child to turkeys before they even set foot in the wilds!
More on Animal Scat and Tracks Here:

Friday, May 11, 2012

ThermaCELL Helps Reclaim the Outdoors!

Venture into rural or "woods" Maine, during the months of May through July and you will likely be eaten alive by black flies and mosquitoes. These little harbingers of doom and despair, have for their diminutive size a huge ability to annoy.

Typically attacking in swarms and inflicting itchy bites, they can quickly turn any fun outside event or activity into a dreaded task. Planting/weeding gardens, family picnics, fishing, spring turkey hunting, fiddleheading, hikes and evening walks, all fall victim to the wrath of the buzzing, biting insects. When the bugs are bad, it is not unusual for my entire family to refuse to venture outside, thus putting limits on our family adventures in the Maine wilds.

Over the years, it has been a constant battle against these foes, so that at least a small respite or margin of relief could be granted from their constant annoyance. Head nets, body nets, DEET, Skin-So-Soft and a huge selection of other natural and unnatural sprays and lotions. No product no mater how poisonous, neurologically damaging, cancer causing or bad smelling was beyond reproach.

Fortunately, the search for the proverbial “holy grail” of bug eliminators is finally over. A product has arrived on the market, that is not a gimmick and I can personally guarantee its effectiveness in defending against the Maine state bird and his blood sucking brethren. Thy savior has doth a name and art be ThermaCELL!

From the Mouths of Babes – This short video show a horde of angry blackflies annoying my young son. Minutes after turning on the ThermaCELL see what happens! 

 *I have received ABSOLUTELY no kickbacks, free merchandise or received any monetary gain from this post. I simply want to share with the general public, a fantastic product that is guaranteed to make your time in the woods and on the waters of Maine with your family more enjoyable. If you purchase a ThermaCELL and it works for you as well please share your personal story via the comments! ThermaCELLS are available in a huge selection of stores from Cabelas to Bass Pro. For information on where to purchase your Thermacell simply click on one of the store links above.

ThermaCELL also works to repel TICKS! For more on repelling ticks read "TICKS SUCK!"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bass Fish Like a Pro - Central Maine

Red Fin Almost Cut in Half By a Strike!
It is certainly no secret that central Maine contains numerous truly epic lakes and ponds, each filled to the brim with large and small mouth bass. Topping this listing of impressive waters are Messalonskee and Cobbosseecontee Lake and Long, Great and North Pond. While bass are certainly thriving in these locations that does not mean you will necessarily be successful in catching them. A number of factors including time of day, you ability to locate promising bottom structure and lure selection are just a few of the variables that will need to be carefully considered.

Time of Day 
Early mornings and late evenings certainly top my list as favorite times to fish. These times of the day typically see less boat traffic and are less abused by high winds that build later in the day. Add to these benefits the possibility of viewing beautiful sunsets and sunrises and it isn’t hard to understand why a day on the water usually starts or ends in the dark. All things considered, however, excellent fishing can be had at anytime of the day, given you locate the fish and feed them what they want to eat. When the conditions are right and the fish decide to bite it sometimes seems that nothing will keep them off your hook.

Bottom Structure 
Depth maps and fish finders will assist you in studying bottom structure and finding fish but nothing can compare to general first hand knowledge of the area you are planning to fish.

Knowing where to find beaver lodges, underwater weed beds, sunken logs and stumps, rocks, shoals, ledges, drop offs, islands and other such areas will put you leaps ahead of other fishermen. Wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses, with bright sunshine and the benefit of calm water, the process of finding areas containing ambush cover for hungry bass and pike is greatly facilitated.

Mark these areas with a GPS or write down locations and you will be served for years to come with fishing hotspots.

While any of these waters may be fished from shore with success, reaching the best fishing spots requires breaking free from the crowded boat launches and accessing areas that see little fishing pressure. Canoes, kayaks and all manner of larger watercraft can be used as long as care is taken to respect the anticipated weather conditions.

Many central Maine lakes are notoriously fickle and a beautiful day on the water can quickly turn life threatening. Always wear a life jacket, as water temps even a month after ice out will only allow minutes of survival time before your body will fail to function and you will drown.

In the spring of the year, as the water temperatures begin to slowly raise, bass will become more and more active. This can lead to great fishing in as early as April, with the activity remaining steady up to the end of June. By slowly working a mixture of flats (staging areas), weed beds, under water holes and heavy cover, anglers can expect to find many fine specimens in the 18-20 inch range, with fish over 20 inches occurring at regular intervals. While larger fish are always a possibility, extensive time and luck will be needed to find them.

Go with #4 BF
Lure Selection and Presentation 
For the bass fisherman looking for a unique experience, they should try using live red fin shiners (3-4 inches), 2/0 hooks, 45 lb steel leaders, large bobbers and 20 lb braided line. This set-up is effective on both small and large mouth bass and the heavy hardware ensures that if a massive northern pike is caught, it will be unable to escape. *Please note that you are not allowed to keep bass in the state of Maine caught on live bait until after July 1st. Also until July 1, you are only allowed to catch and keep one bass and it must be over 10 inches.

For many, pitching a bobber and staring at it all day long is not going to prove to be the most exciting of fishing endeavors. For the search and destroy crowd, who like to cast, sluggos, blue foxes and terminator spin baits are all capable of eliciting brutal reaction strikes, during the early spring. Securing these baits to your line with a protective steel leader, will assist in making sure pike can’t break free.

Fishing two poles, one for bobbing and one for casting is a great way to maximize your presentation by keeping two baits in the water at all times. This set-up allows you to fish live bait while the second line is cast and used to locate fish. This system is very effective anytime during the fishing season.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer is a fantastic tool for locating boat launches and hand carries to allow access to the various lakes and ponds mentioned above. Also the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has organized a fishing guide driven by Google Earth that provides vital information.

When fishing please be sure to monitor and clean your lures, motor, anchors and boat trailers of the invasive underwater plant Milfoil. Milfoil has the potential to destroy many of Maine’s premiere fishing destinations. Do you part and check for this evil little hitchhiker!

Remember as the water and air temperatures warm up a bit, it becomes the perfect time to introduce youngsters to the joys of fishing. To assist in this endeavor please read the following past blog 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
5. Taking A Kid Fishing Yields Happy Memories

Also, for those of you chasing Salmon and Togue this spring, be sure to read:
1. Spring Fishing Techniques – Trolling

LASTLY, for those of you who would like to see me receive a public FLOGGING please read:
Frayed Friendship and the LOCATION of Lake X!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Find Your Own Nest!

This video depicts a couple hen turkeys apparently confused as to who should sit on the nest. I found this nest while scouting for turkeys and thought it would be fun to put a game camera on it and watch the comings and goings and various antics that would occur. Continue to monitor the blog for video updates. Maybe with continued effort I can get the hatching of the chicks on camera!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Big Boy Tom Lurks the Maine Woods

This photo depicts "Big Boy", a Tom turkey who has been lurking about my favorite hunting spot for the past several years. He is very smart and will immediately run the other way with the slightest off tune calling or upon seeing a decoy. Though many classify him as an mythic animal of legend, I know that he is only a turkey with the brain the size of a pea. Prepare to match wits with me "Big Boy", we will soon see who has the last laugh!

*Please ignore date, I apparently do not have the cranial capacity to correctly set a game camera! Hmmm, perhaps this battle of wits may no go as I had originally planned . . . stay tuned!
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