Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boot Fetish

Maine regular firearms season on deer, barely pushed the mercury low enough to warrant the through testing of my new Irish Setter 800 "Mt. Claw-King Toe" boots. However, by the arrival of Christmas, we were thrust into the deep freeze and the balmy days of November were quickly distant memories.

Maine’s weather is extraordinarily fickle and to be comfortable in these often rapidly changing environments, one must dress in layers and make sure to take excellent care of their feet. Whether hunting or ice fishing, having the right boots can make the difference between shooting a big buck, catching that monster pike or going home empty handed.

Warm and dry feet allow sportsmen to be comfortable in the wilds and spend their time concentrating on the task at hand and not expressly worrying about their feet. Want to have a miserable time in the Maine woods, spend the day with cold wet feet.

To combat this issue, it pays to pick your boots, dependent on the intended task at hand. Sitting in a deer stand motionless in 10-degree temperatures, ice fishing, backpacking, still-hunting, all require specialized boots. Too much boot and feet sweat and leaving you wet feet and blisters, too little boot and you could potentially loose a toe to frostbite.

It is no secret I am a bit of a boot aficionado. My love affair with foot wear, is directly linked to the wild changes that occur in Maine’s seasonal temperatures and a personal pursuit of a wide variety of different outdoor sporting hobbies.

Irish Setter 800s Balance Mobility and Warmth!
The latest arrival to the collection of assorted footwear is a lightweight, comfortable and warm hunting boot constructed with care by the folks at Irish Setter. This is a fine example of a “niche” boot, perfect for certain tasks, where it would be impossible for other footwear to succeed. Wear heavily insulated arctic boots built for ice fishing and you keep feet warm but lose mobility, when navigating thick spruce thickets and briar patches. Wear light weight leather hikers and gain mobility but lose warmth. The balance is stuck with the lightweight Irish Setter 800s that fit more like a sneaker than a “boot”, yet with 800 grams of insulation still provide adequate warmth on days when the mercury dips low.

The test area is an icy cold later December morning. The temperature on the thermometer reads 15 degrees Fahrenheit. My feet wrapped first in a thin perspiration wicking polypropylene sock and secondly with a thicker smart wool sock, rest comfortably in my Irish Setter 800s. Stepping off my deck onto the newly fallen snow, it creaks and groans, as if these boots are its enemy. I choke back a laugh thinking that perhaps they are. I exhale a breath from deep within my chest and the hot wet vapor freezes instantly . . . it is the perfect early morning to hunt rabbits.

Irish Setter "Mt. Claw-King Toe" 800s
I doesn’t take long to notice the familiar tracks of Maine’s varying hare and I follow them into a thick swampy spruce cover. Its slow going, through the thick cover and the ice covering the swamps hidden wet holes is thin. Suddenly my foot breaks through the ice and plunges into the frigid water almost to mid calf. Fortunately, the water does not exceed the height of the boot upper and my foot remains dry and comfortable.

After about 3 hours of walking mixed terrain, it appeared that perhaps Mr. Rabbit would win this battle. However, the good hunter remains vigilant until the very end and as I turned to go home, a single hare burst out of a spruce thicket and straight away from me. I raised my shotgun and fired and one more rabbit would be added to my stew pot. Good boots helped me be able to concentrate on hunting and not expending my mental energies on worrying about cold feet . . . another successful hunt thanks to my Irish Setter 800s.

Looking to add a pair of Irish Setter 800s to your hunting arsenal!? Check out:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Your "REAL" LL Bean Boyfriend

After recently reading the latest VIRAL Internet sensation: Your LL Bean Boyfriend, I began to ponder the specific qualities that women are looking for in a man? The site boasts the tag line: “Your LL Bean boyfriend BUILDS A TABLE and then has SEX with you on it". According to this bold statement, there seems to apparently be a connection between a man’s understanding of woodcrafting and his sexual prowess. I assume in all actuality, one could combine these two qualities into one simple statement and just say that women are looking for a man “good with wood” or a man who is perhaps a master "wood" worker.

Well, ladies I hate to be the one to break it to you but those damn posers in the LL Bean catalogue are pure fantasy. Much like what I am going to assume most of the Victoria Secret models look like minus the make-up and air brushing . . . throw those guys out of a photo shoot and into the unforgiving Maine woods and I give them all about 20 minutes before they start crying for their mommies. I laugh, when I think of poor LL Bean model Silas, sitting in a tree stand wearing his pants with little duckies on them or fancy sweater depicting a polar bear tickle fight, screaming like a little girl when a big black bear walks into his bait site.

I can guarantee that if any of those guys from the LL Bean catalog, “Signature” edition, showed up at deer camp they would be flogged and likely made into someone’s camp bitch. Yes, I agree that statement was perhaps a tad bit harsh but real men, who make tables and have sex with their women on them, are made of harsher, sterner stuff and not what is depicted in the LL Bean catalogue.

To perhaps provide a bit of comic relief, mockery and shameful comment related to Your LL Bean Boyfriend, I offer this reminder to all you women out there that depicted in the pictures below, are what REAL Maine men look and act like. We may not all be handsome, well groomed, recently bathed or dressed in the latest fashions and styles but our women most definitely find us handy in the workshop as well as the bedroom.

"Listen heah Deah, using a few feathers is sexy, only when 
using the whole bird does it become perverted", said Steve.

"Honey. I thought this is what you meant when you said
 you wanted to try two guns at the same time", said Tony.

"Hi Hotstuff, I finally reached the top of Katahdin and wanted
 to txt you this photo to express my love", said Steve.

Baby, did you want your steak well 
done or medium rare?, said Steve

"Darlin' understand that when a man tells you to pull his finger, 
it is impossible to resist. Sorry about the smell sweetheart", said Steve.

"Hun, I know your hard nipples turn me on 
. . . do my hard nipples turn you on?", said Tony.

"Do I make you horny 
baby, well do I?", said Tony.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Night Hunting Coyotes

It should be no secret that setting up a quality coyote bait for the night hunting season is no easy task. First one must select that perfect location that provides effective cover for spooky predators as well as good shot opportunities. Small ponds, fields and clear cuts are prime locations. This small wood lot pictured below, required about 12 hours of work with the chainsaw and hauling brush to get it "perfect". AND of course most importantly you got to make sure nobody dies.

To attract coyotes (night hunting) and other predators like fox and bobcat (legal day hunting only) your bait pile must contain protein sources to entice these scavengers. My bait pile this year includes deer, hog and one ill fated porcupine. Local butcher shops will be able to provide you with meat scraps BUT if you have the means, nothing attracts coyotes quite like a stinky old beaver carcass. 

In previous years, I have been plagued with coyotes and other predators stealing away the bait too quickly. I have tried to solve this problem, in past years by freezing the bait into 5 gallon buckets. This makes the hungry coyotes scratch and dig at the frozen "soup" throughout the entire season as it freezes and thaws. 

This year, as you can see in the picture below, I am trying something new. By wrapping the bait in chicken wire, I hope to make predators "work" at the bait, slowing down the time it takes to eat it all and providing me the added benefit of hopefully allowing a better shot opportunity. I currently have a game camera capturing video on the bait site, so stay tuned to see how this experiment ends. *Note in Maine you must clearly label your bait sites.

A comfortable 70 yard shot from the coyote blind, clear of visible obstructions, helps to make sure every shot opportunity amounts to a clean ethical kill. Note I attempted to tuck the hunting shack into the wood line but after over a month in the same location, I feel confident in assuming that it won't bother the coyotes.

Though may rifle options exist for the hunting of coyotes and other Maine predators, for quick follow-up shot opportunities, easy of use, reliability and a laundry list of possible modifications, it is difficult to beat the AR15 platform. Pictured below is the R15 in .223 . . . nicknamed "my Precious" (see her in action). It is topped with a Nikon 2x7 variable power scope. 

When the cold winds howl and the temperatures growl, it pays to have as little exposed to the elements as possible. A heavy curtain with a peep hole just barely large enough to fit through the rife's barrel and  scope provides visibility without sacrificing loss of heat. To the left, hangs the light switch to the red light that will illuminate the bait site on overcast or moonless nights. When operational, it runs off a 6 volt battery and the switch attaches directly to the rifles front hand guard.

The angle of death awaits any Coyote (Night Hunt 12/16/12-8/31/13), Red Fox (10/15/12-2/28/13) or Bobcat (12/1/12-2/14/13) that approaches the bait site.


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