Monday, December 23, 2013

Bigger is always better . . . 12 Gauge Shotshell Thermos!

Bigger is always better and man law states that if you don’t drive a truck, own a higher caliber rifle or have a larger boot size than your friends, you might just as well turn in your man card, pour yourself an Appletini and go watch the Bachelor with your girlfriends. Yes, it pays to have the biggest whatever and often just having it will elicit instant respect in the “man” community. Do not be fooled by sayings like, “it’s not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean” . . . these sayings are lies! It is ALL about the size of your boat and I don’t even know what they mean by “motion of the ocean” . . . I just call them WAVES.

For those sportsmen looking to go BIG and not go HOME, I suggest ordering the new 12 Gauge Shotshell Thermos from the fine folks at Duluth Trading Company. This mammoth sized conversation starter is made from stainless steel fire hardened in the deep depths of Mordor. This baby can keep 25 ounces of your favorite drink piping hot for up to 24 hours. The tip-proof cup has a wide base for stability on uneven surfaces and is constructed of rugged metal for years of abuse. The one-touch stopper lets you pour single-handed with ease, a definite benefit for when cold temps discourage removing gloves or when the need to keep a free hand on your shotgun arises.

If you aren’t planning to be driving, shooting a firearm or pretty much needing your body to function properly for the next 24 hours, I suggest trying the following recipe for keeping warm on the ice this winter. Start by boiling some water and filling up your new “man” thermos. Let the water sit in the thermos for approximately 10 minutes, this little trick preheats the interior metal and will keep your liquid hotter longer on those brutally cold winter days. Next fill the thermos ½ full of boiling water and add to it 3-4 packets of instant cocoa mix. Lastly, fill the remaining space with Dr. McGillicuddy's peppermint schnapps, put on the top and shake vigorously. I cannot be responsible for your safety, so make sure to take all necessary precautions…last will and testament, etc. before consumption.

FYI: Maine law states that you may not have at any time more than three of these thermoses in your duck blind at anytime. Yes, I know it is a screwed up law but this is Maine, ninety percent of our hunting and fishing laws are overly complicated and don’t make any sense. Have I mentioned that we are only one of 6 states remaining that doesn’t allow Sunday hunting? Nuff said!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Never Again Have Frozen Fingers

Mind numbing cold, fueled by a bitter north wind, tears at my body in the predawn light. The motor on my ice auger coughs and sputters like a two pack a day smoker trying desperately to pull oxygen from the air. Obscenities spew forth from my frozen mouth but are quickly extinguished by the howling wind. Suddenly the motor fires, the blade spins and the ice at my feet begins to grind away as the machine penetrates deep into the solid, cold, blue surface. In seconds, I bludgeon a large 10-inch hole through the hard water to allow access to the murky depth below. Withdrawing the auger it spews forth water and shards of ice that flow over my boots and splash high up onto my legs where it freezes instantly.

This is ice fishing in the frozen north, it is difficult, unforgiving and a sport for those with a high degree of intestinal fortitude and perhaps even a small dose of the crazies. 

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 hands. In these situations, it pays to have the absolute best gear money can buy. Gear built tough for those of us who like it rough, gear that can withstand season upon season of abuse without failure, gear that keeps its user warm and dry despite what that bitch Mother Nature can dish out. Whether hunting or ice fishing, having the right equipment can make the difference between shooting a big buck, catching that monster pike or going home empty handed. Warm, dry digits allow sportsmen to be comfortable in the wilds and spend their time concentrating on the task at hand (pun intended) instead of being cold and miserable.

For the outdoorsman, nothing will destroy a day in the wilds faster than having equipment that fails, was poorly crafted or simply cannot withstand the rigors placed before it. In my time afield, nowhere have I seen more failures than in the design of gloves and mitts. To be effective, gloves and mitts need to be capable of maximizing warmth while at the same time still allowing a certain level of dexterity. No place is this more critical, than when ice fishing. At a moments notice, ice fishermen will frequently need to switch between multiple tasks requiring varying degrees of dexterity. Gloves tend to be to cold when the mercury dips, while mitts tend to be much to cumbersome for tasks as simple as pouring a cup of coffee, choking a finicky motor, popping the top on a can of beer or wrestling a Vienna sausage out of a can.

Enter onto the stage the new “Yellowknife Trigger Mitts” from Duluth Trading Company. These nylon “mitts” combine all the positive features of a gloves and mitts with an innovative “trigger” design that frees up the index finger while at the same time keeping the remaining fingers securely wrapped in a “mitt”. The exteriors are waterproof, breathable nylon and reinforced in all “critical” areas with cowhide. The interior glove is also solidly designed, removable from the overmitt for quicker drying and even comes with smartphone friendly finger pads. These bad boys will pretty much beat the crap out of winter and send it running.

Looking to add a pair of Yellowknife Trigger Mitts to your gear arsenal? Then be sure to check out Duluth Trading Company!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Youth Hunters Deer Tale

Aleya Luce, age 11
My Daughters First Deer by Kirt Luce 

We were watching 2 does all the way across the field which is 300 yds. Too far for an eleven year old to try to send a .243 bullet across the field. Although she did stop shivering and complaining that she was cold once she saw the deer. She had fun playing with the video camera zooming up and watching them. We put that away and just watched them for a while. I watched impatiently hoping they would come closer when Aleya said "Dad there's a deer right here" As she pointed to the right of the field. I responded with "what?" I turned and looked. Sure enough as I was so concentrated on deer at end of field I never bothered to continue to scan the field for other deer. The deer was already 15 yards into field. I picked up the gun put in her arms pointing out at the field and said "Get on it. Get ready!"

She looks through the scope and I can see she's no where near the deer. I grabbed her by the shoulders and twisted her and the gun to the right. And said "it's over here" she starts looking again and with me behind her I can see she's way off again. So I twisted her to the right again. She repeated settling into the stock of the gun only to be too far to the left again. For the third time, I twisted her into the right direction. She says "I can't find it" then I realize the scope is on 10 power and she couldn't find it in the scope.

I reach over crank the power down some and she immediately blurted out " I can see it now" I didn't want her shooting at a brown dot so I started to turn it back up. Aleya then says"Just right!" I cocked the hammer for her said "Your ready to fire. Shoot when your on it." I'd no more an said that and she pulled the trigger the deer went flat. Kicked a bit and got up and ran 40 yards down the field and leaped into the woods. Aleya said "Did I hit it?" I said "Yes and we will find it!"

She immediately wanted to go look. I told her we would wait a bit. I thought and said "Well we can look in field but not the woods don't want to jump it up if it's wounded". We then went and walked the woods line. We didn't get very far and we could see it laying just out of the field. We both walked over and congratulated her on her first deer!! I picked up the head and she held it with the biggest smile. So I pulled out my phone and got a few pics it was great!!! The deer was a 146lb 6 pt. she shot in a field at 110 yds!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - Bobcat

The bobcat (Lynx rufus), were named for their distinctive, stubby black-tipped tail, which appears to have been cut or “bobbed”. Bobcats exists as members of the cat family Felidae, and range across the entire continental United States, even into parts of Canada and Mexico.

An adaptable predator, bobcats easily prosper in a diverse range of habitats, including forests, swamps, semi-desert, and even the edging of urban areas. Razor sharp retractable claws, 28 pointed teeth and weighting an average of twenty pounds or roughly twice the size of a house cat, make the bobcat a formidable predator, capable of killing prey much larger than themselves, including juvenile deer. Bobcats possess black-tufted ears, reddish brown colored backs with a lighter colored belly.

Bobcats are patient and methodical hunters, capable of blending seamlessly into their environments and stalking prey with amazing stealth. Bobcats are solitary, elusive and nocturnal creatures and therefore rarely spotted by humans. This leads some to believe that bobcats are rare or endangered. North American populations, however scientists, estimate bobcat populations to be quite large, with as many as one million bobcats in the United States.

Bobcat mating season occurs in February and March. Females typically birth litters of 3-6 kittens (baby bobcats) born in late April or early May. Kittens begin eating solid food at about eight weeks and begin learning to hunt at five months and will stay with the female for up to a year, before setting out on their own. Bobcats establish territories with scent markings that include urine and scat. Territory sizes vary widely, measuring up to thirty square miles for males and about five square miles for females. Bobcats will typically maintain a primary or natal den as well as several other “shelter” across these territories, existing in rock caves, hollow logs, fallen trees, or other protected places.

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is the average weight of an adult bobcat?
 2. Are bobcats endangered?
3. How many bobcats live in the United States?
4. When do Bobcats mate?
5. How soon after birth can a baby bobcat (kitten) begin to hunt?
6. How big a territory does a male bobcat typically patrol?
7. How big a territory does a female bobcat typically patrol?
8. How do bobcats establish and mark their territories?
9. Where do bobcats typically “den”?

Wildlife Quiz Answers: 
1. Bobcats weigh an average of twenty pounds or roughly twice the size of a house cat.
2. Bobcats are solitary and elusive creatures but are not rare or endangered.
3. Scientists estimate that as many as one million bobcats populate the United States.
4. Bobcat mating season occurs in February and March.
5. Baby bobcats will begin hunting 5 months after birth but will still stay with their mothers for up to a year before heading out on their own.
6. A male bobcat will typically patrol an area of approximately 30 square miles.
7. A female bobcat will typically patrol an area of approximately 5 square miles.
8. Bobcats establish territories with scent markings that include urine and scat.
9. Bobcats typically den in rock caves, hollow logs, fallen trees, or other protected places.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Predators, Bait Sites and Ice Fishing Preparations

Predator Hunting 
For predator hunters, December brings with it the excitement of being able to hunt bobcat, fox, coyote and even raccoon. While it is enjoyable to target each of these animals with game calling, another popular method is the placing of bait. Bait piles containing road killed deer carcasses frequently draw all four of these furbearers, making morning and evening sits especially exciting as the hunter is never sure what critter might suddenly appear.

On December 16th the coyote night hunting season resumes and dedicated sportsmen not afraid to subject themselves to the fury of the Maine winter are typically richly rewarded. Constructing warm shelters, for sitting in on cold winter nights, is mandatory for hunters to be able to hide movement and remain comfortable for long hours when the mercury plummets. These shelters range from drafty old retired ice shacks to well insulated, propane heated condos with lazy-boy recliners and bunks. With the trick to killing more coyotes, directly tied to spending as much time as possible on a bait site, comfort certainly pays huge dividends. After investing over a hundred hours last winter sitting on bait sites, I can tell you that the most important consideration is having a comfortable chair. On a calm still evening, were even the smallest sound is amplified, a chair that allows you to sit practically motionless for 6-8 hours in absolutely critical.

Coyote hunters commonly set out bait, primarily animal carcasses and/or butcher scraps to attract coyotes. Maintaining these “baited sites” is a labor-intensive process and hunters employ a variety of methods to attempt to keep sites refreshed with bait and active. Hungry critters can wipe out a active bait site fairly quickly, leaving hunters with nothing more to hunt over than skeletons. To battle this problem, many employ filling five gallon buckets with meat and water, freezing them solid. This allows critters to smell and dig at the bait, only extracting small morsels at each visit. This keeps predators hungry and coming back often to check on the site.

Another method, I employed this previous hunting season is taking 4 large logs, nail them together in a square shape and cover the top with chicken wire, bait is then place under this chicken wire frame. Predators are able to see, smell and dig at the bait through he chicken wire but it is extremely difficult for them to eat more then a tiny amount at each visit.

Several laws exist dictating the placement of bait. These include proximity rules related to distance from dwellings, campgrounds and roads. Bait sites must also be labeled with a clearly visible 2 by 4 inch tag with the name and address of the baiter. Bait sites are subject to Maine’s litter laws and must be cleaned up when requested to do so by the landowner, or within 20 days from the last day the site was hunted over. It is illegal to place bait on ice of waters that serve as municipal water supplies, or their tributaries. Before determining where to place a bait site, hunters should become thoroughly familiar with these laws and limitations. Individuals without direct access to public land will find that many opportunities exist where hunters can place bait on the edging of frozen lakes and ponds.

Shattuck Lake (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 37, C-1), a small puddle of water off larger Keens Lake just outside of the city of Calais is remote yet still accessible and a classic example of a body of water that would provide the perfect place for a predator bait site.

New Game Camera Law
Game cameras are a great way to determine what is visiting a bait site and when. However, hunters should be aware a new law requires that “People using trail and game cameras may not place a game camera upon the private land of another without written permission and that all game cameras must be labeled with the person’s name and contact information.”

Ice Fishing Preparations
Those looking to ease back into ice fishing with an easily accessible hot spot should consider Indian Lake (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 26, C-5). The lake offers easy access though a parking lot on its southern end, just off of route one and it boasts a health population of brook trout, occasionally producing specimens in excess of 2 pounds and larger.

Ice anglers will do well this month to spend a couple hours preparing their ice fishing equipment for when the hard waters return to their favorite fishing spots. I suggest these ten must do items to ensure your ice fishing traps and equipment are in prime condition before the start of the ice fishing season.

1. Grease all moving parts with Frabill Sub-Zero or Blue Lube.
2. Replace any leader and backer lines that appear worn.
3. Make sure spools are tightly and evenly wound.
4. Adjust spools so they spin freely with little tension.
5. Replace hooks.
6. Start up ice auger, check for proper operation, replace spark plug if necessary.
7. Put a small first aid kit in packbasket.
8. Replace lead sinkers with a non-toxic substitute.
9. Sharpen ice chisels or hand crank augers.
10. Lastly, be sure to thoroughly check ice conditions before venturing out onto your favorite ice fishing locations.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sportsman's Christmas Wish List 2013

Shopping for that Rabid Outdoorsman on your Christmas list is never an easy task. These individuals seem to have every gadget and piece of outdoor related equipment imaginable. Then when you finally do manage to miraculously find them something they like, they complain that you spent too much money on them and threaten to return it. If this sounds like anyone you might potentially know, then please look below for a few holiday suggestions for these curmudgeons.

Red River Camps: Want the perfect holiday gift for that special someone, why not treat them to the quite serenity of the Red River Camps. Red River caters to outdoor enthusiasts wanting to get away from it all. Fly fish for native brook trout, hike miles of trails, go hunting or spend your vacation just relaxing. Our main lodge, is large enough for family gatherings, intimate weddings, or unique corporate events. Here, you won't find cell service. You won't find cable television. You won't find hustle and bustle. What you will find is relaxation, nature, and a good reminder of the way life should be.

Bear Hunting w/Eagle Mountain Guide Service: If you are looking for a that truly unique gift for that special someone, I can think of no present more thrilling or amazing than buying that person a Maine Fall Bear Hunt. Escape to the Maine wilderness, stay at a remote wilderness lodge, eat amazing food and have a chance at scoring a truly massive bruin . . . for most people this is a once in a life time opportunity. Imagine the excitement this Christmas as you tell your loved one that they are going this Fall on a Maine bear hunt! See more information including my Rabid Review of Eagle Mountain Guide Service and a direct link to Eagle Mountain Guide Service website for ordering information.

Duluth Trading Company is the practical choice for outdoorsmen, mountain men and mullet sporting rednecks across the entire face of the planet. Whether camped out on the Alaskan tundra, chopping firewood in the remote wilds of Maine or climbing the north face of Mt. Everest, you are sure to find their rugged, non-nonsense flannel shirts and fire hose pants covering the backs of just about every human male with balls enough to call themselves “Man”.

Carhartt clothing is busily preparing for winter with its new line of Mother Nature taming work wear, designed to defeat even the most brutal of weather conditions. Their Bad Axe collection, designed thoughtfully, with care and capable of shrugging off even the most horrific of weather conditions.

The Sproul Baker Reflector Oven: I am regularly impressed by the quality of Maine based products found throughout the state. You certainly do not have to look very far to find skilled craftsmen plying their trade out of small shops, building superior pieces of handmade merchandise. Enter the innovative Maine company campfirecookware, located in the town of Bowdoinham, Maine. Here operating out of a small workshop, proprietor and master metalworker Chas Gill builds what can easily be described as simply the best campfire reflector oven on the market, the “Sproul Baker”.

For more than 100 years, Field & Stream magazine has provided expert advice on every aspect of the outdoor life, including hunting, fishing, conservation, & wilderness survival. The magazine's annual Total Outdoorsman issue is one of its most popular, read by over nine million sporting enthusiasts.

The Total Outdoorsman Manual is loaded with TONS of practical information for both the beginner & advanced outdoorsman, the book is an authoritative, comprehensive, & entertaining guide that outlines 374 essential skills that will enable almost anyone to master the outdoors and hunt, fish and camp like an expert. Learn how to hunt better, fish smarter, survive anything and camp anywhere.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Total Outdoorsman Manual - Review

The fine folks at Field and Stream sent me a copy of T. Edward Nickens “The Total Outdoors Manual: 374 Skills You Need” for a comprehensive “Rabid” review. For more than 100 years, Field & Stream magazine has provided expert advice on every aspect of the outdoor life, including hunting, fishing, conservation, & wilderness survival.

The magazine's annual Total Outdoorsman issue is one of its most popular, read by over nine million sporting enthusiasts. Loaded with TONS of practical information for both the beginner & advanced outdoorsman (and arm chair sportsman) and is an authoritative, comprehensive, & entertaining guide that outlines essential skills that will enable almost anyone to master the outdoors and hunt, fish and camp like an expert. Learn how to hunt better, fish smarter, survive anything and camp anywhere. While the book can be thumbed through in a couple hours, it would take a lifetime to absorb all of the skills, ideas and suggestions outlined within its pages.

While reading, I was constantly dog-earing pages that outlined skills previously unknown to me and laughing at hints like properly digging a booty hole (tip #50), expertly gigging frogs (tip #220), chumming fish with a dead raccoon (tip #75) and roasting the perfect marshmallow (tip #60). The Total Outdoorsman Manual should be on every sportsmans book shelf and serve as a reminder to what we should all strive to be as out of doors minded individuals . . . knowledgeable, practiced and witty.

The book has an MSRP of $25.00 but I am raffling away several free copies to those individuals who post a comment to this posting telling me why they so desperately need a copy! Thanks!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) belongs to the family cervidae. The cervidae or “deer family” contains 47 species of antlered, ruminant (cud chewing) mammals and includes caribou, elk and moose. The white-tailed deer has a vast distribution, stretching from southern Canada to parts of South America and with introduced populations existing in Europe and New Zealand. In the Americas, it is the most widely distributed wild ungulate or “hoofed mammal”.

An herbivore, white-tailed deer eat only plants, their varied diet includes leaves, apples, acorns, beechnuts, clover, lichens and even certain types of mushrooms. Being primarily nocturnal creatures, white-tailed deer feed mainly at night or during the early morning and evening hours. Unfortunately for motorists, salted highways also attract white-tailed deer and the Maine Department of Transportation reports approximately 3,000 of these animals are hit every year, occasionally with fatal results for both deer and motorist. Deer collisions are most common during October to December with 70% occurring when it’s dark.

White-tailed deer possess incredible speed and agility, being highly capable of running up to 30 miles per hour, leaping as high as 10 feet and capable of swimming great distances to escape being preyed upon by humans, bobcats, and coyotes. In November, mating season occurs; also called the “rut”. During this time, fighting between male deer (bucks) is common, as they use their sharply pointed antlers in battles for supremacy over territory and females (does). Only the bucks annually grow antlers and they fall off in the winter after breeding season ends. Females give birth to one to three young, usually in May or June. Young deer (fawns) wear a white spotted brown coat that helps them blend in with their environments and hides them from predators.

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. How many species exist in the deer family “cervidae”?
2. Where have white-tailed deer been introduced?
3. What does “ungluate” mean?
4. How many white-tailed deer are reported by MDOT as being hit every year?
5. When do the largest majority of white-tailed deer collisions occur?
6. How fast can a white-tailed deer run?
7. What are male deer called?
8. When do female (does) white-tailed deer give birth?
9. What are baby white-tailed deer called?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. 47 species exist in the deer family “cervidae”.
2. White-tailed deer been introduced into Europe and New Zealand.
3. “Ungulate” means “hoofed animal”.
4. MDOT reports that 3,000 deer collide with motorists every year.
5. The largest number of white-tailed deer collisions occurs in October and November when it is dark. 6. A white-tailed deer can run up to approximately 30 miles per hour.
7. Male white-tailed deer are called bucks.
8. Female (doe) white-tailed deer give birth in May or June.
9. Baby white-tailed deer are called fawns.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Deer, Deer and MORE Deer Hunting

Sitting in a deer stand on a frosty cold clear November morning, watching the sunrise and the forest come alive is enough to warm the soul and quite the mind. Suddenly this silence is shattered by the distinctive footfalls of a deer slowly creeping up the hardwood ridge. As a large buck comes into view it is enough to get even the heart of veteran outdoorsmen racing.

By the time November arrives, a hunter’s dreams have turned to the pursuit of large bodied deer, to assist you in achieving the goal of harvesting one of these impressive animals this season, I am going to share the surprising number one secret to successful deer hunting and that is a mental preparation. A positive attitude is infinitely more important to an outdoorsman than scent blocker clothing, a high end ATV or the latest fad in ballistics. Success in the field is about the ability to remain positive despite the weather, moon phase or season of the rut.

A motivated individual will hunt longer, harder and through more adverse conditions then someone who is unprepared mentally to go the distance. Hunters that truly believe “this is going to be their day”, are much more likely to be in the woods during that critical time. Most individuals are prone to invoke certain skills to allow them to sharpen their mental focus and attitude. For example, taking a deep breath to settle ones shooting hand, counting footfalls while climbing a steep incline or even pinching ones self to keep from falling asleep. I even have a friend, who had been on a seven year losing streak and claims his success last deer season was due to the purchase of a rabbit’s foot! Obviously, rabbit feet have little direct connection with success in the field; however, their indirect effect is that they instill confidence, a characteristic key to filing a tag.

Pre-Season Scouting
This may seem like a no brainer but to shoot deer it must first be determined where they are located. A tree stand may be set in a beautiful spot with long shooting lanes and a lakeside view but if there are no deer signs (rubs, scrapes, tracks or droppings) then an entire season could go by without a single deer being seen. To increase the chances of putting a whitetail in the crosshairs this season, start walking. Absolutely no replacement can be made to thoroughly and personally scouting an intended hunting area. Maine’s subtle terrain features and the obvious physical signs of deer can only be effectively understood through intimate first hand knowledge. Pay close attention to the minute details, bring a notebook and write down GPS coordinates, prevalent wind direction, food sources, game trails, sign and location of sheltered bedding areas. Use this information to devise a plan as to where to set-up stands or still hunt. For those looking for a canoe driven deer hunting adventure, “The Great Heath” (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 25, C-3) provides an option for hunters to use the Pleasant River to access remote and a typically untouched wilderness.

Scent Control 
Highly technical clothing creates the illusion to most hunters that they can pull off miracles in body odor elimination by simply putting on specialized scent blocking apparel or using a bottled spray. A more traditional approach relies on impeccable personal hygiene and using wind direction to gain the advantage. I advocate the use of this approach at deer camp only to find that my lamentations fall short on the ears of individuals dressed head to toe in scent blocker and chain smoking cigarettes.

To be more effective this season, plan to implement using a pee bottle and no scent detergent, shampoo and deodorant. No scent hygiene products are available at the local drug store (for individuals with fragrance allergies) and are typically cheaper than at a sporting goods store. Wash hunting clothes frequently (not once a season) and seal in a plastic bag with a few spruce boughs to lessen the chance for cross contamination with smells that may be lingering in the basement. If driving to a hunting location, dress in hunting clothes and boots upon arrival, as this will avoid the possibility of picking up odors from the car, gas station or local convenience store.

Packing for Success
Finalize mental preparations by believing one hundred percent that success will occur. To enforce this belief, include a gutting kit (deer tag, pen, sharp knife, drag rope, florescent orange marking ribbon, dish washing gloves, paper towels and a 1 gallon zip loc bag for the heart and liver) in your pack to make it easier to field dress and bring that trophy to the tagging station.

Electronic Calls and Deer Decoys 
I remember the first time I showed my “traditional” deer hunting family members my buck call and bottle of deer pee they practically fell over backward laughing. Several dead deer later, their laughter had stopped and they had become converts and began using the same products and consistently shooting more deer. I was met with this same comical reaction last season, when I began using a remotely controlled electronic deer call and a doe deer decoy to attract bucks into shooting distance.

Despite the initial mockery, let me offer an assurance that these two products (in the right situations) bring the deer running. They work because hunters create a distinct advantage when they set-up an electronic call and a decoy along a field edge several 100 yards upwind or cross wind from their positions. The decoys create confidence by showing deer that it is safe to be out in the field feeding, tempting others to follow suit and emerge from their hiding places before the end of legal shooting. The remote call has deer honing in on an upwind location, allowing less chance that their keen noses will detect human scent. Also, for those not entirely proficient on all of the various deer vocalizations, the electronic calls allow novice hunters a chance to call deer like champions and truly “speak” the whitetail language. With electronic calls one truly gets what is paid, so make sure to invest at least $200 or more when purchasing one of these units. My personal favorite electronic calls are those made by FoxPro but many other quality calls exist on the market.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Man Shirts" by Duluth Trading Company

Duluth flannel is the quintessential fabric of choice for outdoorsmen, mountain men and mullet sporting rednecks across the entire face of the planet. Whether camped out on the Alaskan tundra, chopping firewood in the remote wilds of Maine or climbing the north face of Mt. Everest, you are sure to find flannel shirts covering the backs of just about every human male with balls enough to call themselves “Man”.

Duluth flannel has long been accepted as the choice fashion statement of discriminating Maine guides. Abused in the most extreme of wilderness climates, flannel provides effective protection from the elements and presents a bold and often difficult to ignore fashion statement. You can hunt or fish in flannel all day, dance in it all night and it still reigns supreme as the definitive “man” fabric of choice. Due to its no nonsense ruggedness, Duluth flannel practically screams, “abuse me with whatever you got tough guy, I can take it”! Though flannel is fairly ineffective at repelling the whirling blade of a chainsaw, gnashing teeth of a rabid coyote or snapping jaws of a crocodile, it will still withstand years of working man abuse, that would leave lesser shirts crying for their mommies.

At the same time, the Duluth flannel fabric possesses a kinder, gentler side, remaining soft against your skin even after a long day of operating the skidder, lobstah boat or hauling hog down I95. Your wife or girlfriend will also certainly appreciate the twice-brushed extra loft when she uses your sweat and diesel soaked “man shirt” as an impromptu “sexy” nightgown.

Duluth’s flannel shirts come in a variety of designs, styles and sizes and are prewashed to resist shrinkage . . . AND TRUST ME NOBODY WANTS TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH SHRINKAGE!

Selecting that perfect flannel shirt is as easy as making a decision about what you want in a flannel shirt and clicking on the corresponding button on the website.

Looking for that perfect flannel shirt to take your lady to the local discotheque this weekend? Go with the slim fitting and lightweight “Trim Fit Free Swinging Flannel Shirt”. This shirt is equipped with a roomy tradesman’s fit and armpit gussets. You will be the object of lustful desire of every woman at “Whiskey Dicks Bar & Grill”, as you bust a move on the dance floor better than John Travolta in Saturday Night Fevah. AND don’t forget the button-down collar on these impressive shirts, means you can wear it under a sport jacket.

Need a shirt to keep you dry and comfortable on the coldest day ice fishing in the Arctic Circle or Northern Maine in June? Go with the wood-choppin', horse-loggin' 8oz 100% cotton burly weight flannel. Heavy, rugged and warm, even Paul Bunyan woulda liked one like this.

No matter what your flannel needs, Duluth Trading Company also on Twitter @DuluthTradingCo, has a shirt fit for your every wanton desire!

Want to see more flannel reviews? Please check out the Virginia Sweet Pea and Bubbly Nerd!

Maine YOUTH Deer Hunters

Congratulations to ALL Maine youth deer hunters! Even if you did not shoot a deer this season spending time outside with your friends and family members is one of the most important components of hunting.

I would love a chance to post some pictures of youth deer hunters on the blog so make sure you get your parents permission first and then send your favorite pictures to me at: Once I receive, I will put your pictures up on the blog!

Thanks folks and good luck and be safe throughout the remainder of the hunting season!

My cousin Alex Chaffee with a wicked good deah he shot during the youth opener! Congrats buddy that is a nice one!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - Double Crested Commorant

The Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), a seabird commonly seen along Maine’s inland and coastal waterways, possess gangly, primitive features, making it appear more closely matched to prehistoric times rather than modern day. The double-crest of the Cormorant appears on adults during breeding season. Crests vary in coloration from white to black dependent on geographic location.

Frequently mistaken for geese and loons, a cormorant’s long kinked neck, stocky black body, sea-green eyes, hooked bill and orange-yellow facial skin easily distinguishes it from other aquatic birds. Not possessing as much preen oil as ducks, Cormorant’s feathers absorb rather than shed water. Though appearing a poor evolutionary trait, wet feathers make cormorants more adept at diving and maneuvering underwater, allowing them to hunt prey with great speed and agility. This means cormorants must dry their wings before they are able to fly, making cormorants frequent visitors on docks and rocky outcroppings where they can be seen spreading their wings to dry.

Like Geese, flocks of cormorants travel in V-shaped flocks during October and November, as they migrate from inland lakes and waterways to the coast to escape the deep freeze of the Maine winter. In the spring, Cormorants travel to breeding colonies along the coast as well as on large inland lakes. Nest construction typically occurs on rocky islands, where they are built with whatever materials are readily available. An examination of a cormorant nest will typically find an odd assortment of junk, including discarded fishing line, plastic bottles, rope, Styrofoam, shells and even the bones of birds, fish and animals.

Cormorants are typically very good parents, using their bodies and wings to shading chicks from the direct rays of the sun. The average life expectancy of a double-crested cormorant is around 6 years with the oldest known representative of the species living to be 22 years old.

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. When does the double crest appear on the double crested cormorant?
2. What features make the cormorant easy to distinguish it from loons and geese?
3. What do cormorants lack that makes it difficult for them to keep their feathers dry?
4. Do cormorants fly in V-shaped formations?
5. Do cormorants migrate?
6. When do cormorants breed?
7. Cormorant nests are constructed of what materials?
8. What is the average age of a cormorant?
9. What was the age of the oldest know cormorant?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. The crest on the double crested cormorant appears during breeding season.
2. Cormorants are easy to distinguish from loons and geese by their long kinked necks, stocky black bodies, sea-green eyes, hooked bills and orange-yellow facial skin.
3. Cormorant’s glands do not produce large amounts of preening oil like ducks and other aquatic birds.
4. Cormorants do fly in V-shaped formations like geese.
5. Cormorant populations on large inland lakes and river migrate to coastal waters during the winter to escape freeze-up.
6. Cormorants breed in the spring.
7. Cormorant nests are constructed of fishing line, plastic bottles, rope, Styrofoam and shells, and even the bones of birds, fish and animals.
8. Cormorants live to an average age of 6 years.
9. The oldest know cormorant lived to be 22 years old.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - Killdeer

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), prefer open ground with low vegetation, typically inhabiting golf courses, fields, sandbars and mudflats, making them the least water-associated of all wading shorebirds. A relatively noisy bird, Killdeer received their name from the shrill, wailing “kill-deer” call they make. 

A member of the plover family of avian, Killdeer are relatively diminutive, about equal in size to the American Robin. Killdeer possess small round heads, short bills and bodies accentuated by long pointed tails and slender wings. Their coloration is brownish-tan on top with a white breast barred with two black bands and a brown face is marked with black and white patches. The rump is accentuated by a bright orange rump that is apparent in flight.

The range of the Killdeer includes most of the western hemisphere, including the Yukon and Alaska to as far south as Peru. Due to its ability to exploit a wide range of agricultural and semi-urban habitat areas Killdeer have managed to survive despite widespread disturbance through their range by man.

In April, the female constructs a small ground nest comprised of stones and grass. Into this shallow bowl, the female will lay four or five blackish-brown eggs that virtually disappear into the surroundings, protecting them from predators. Both the male and female will take turns incubating them for the next 24 to 26 days before they are ready to hatch.

Killdeer will employ a “distraction display” when they feel their brood being threatened by predators. This involves the bird walking away from its nest pretending that it is injured and emitting a distress call. Once the Killdeer feels it has lured a potential predatory threat far enough from its nest it safely flies away from the predator and returns to its nest. If this display is not effective in distracting prey, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the threatening animal in a desperate attempt to chase it away.

Wildlife Quiz Questions 
1. What is the preferred habit of the Killdeer?
2. How did the Killdeer receive its name?
3. What family of avian are Killdeer members?
4. What is the primary range of the Killdeer?
5. How many eggs does a Killdeer typically lay?
6. How long does it take for the eggs to incubate?
7. What do Killdeer typically do when they feel their nest is threatened?
8. Are Killdeer nests located in trees or on the ground?

Wildlife Quiz Answers
1. Killdeer prefer areas of open ground with low vegetation.
2. The Killdeer received its name from its shrill, wailing “kill-deer” call.
3. Killdeer are members of the plover family.
4. The range of the Killdeer includes most of the Western Hemisphere.
5. Killdeer typically lay 4-5 blackish-brown eggs.
6. Killdeer eggs incubate in 24-26 days.
7. When their nest is threatened Killdeer use a “distraction display” to lure away predators.
8. Killdeer nests are located on the ground.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ducks, Ducks and Timber Rockets!

The nip of the early morning air, frost and the brilliance of the fall foliage all work in unison to signal the arrival of my favorite month, October. During this magical time of year, I can think of no better place than to be than sitting beside a marsh with dog, family, friends and coffee awaiting that most anticipated of events, the start of duck hunting season.

Shoot More Ducks 
Quacking excitedly on my call with a tempting cadence, a dozen mallards circle overhead, my heart pounds heavily in my chest, the dog whines and I look at my wrist watch to see if it is yet legal time. As if in slow motion, the final remaining seconds tick by and I yell, “take em boys” for the first time since the 2012 waterfowl season closed late last November. Multiple shots are fired and several fat green heads falls from the sky. One hits the water at such an angle and velocity that it skips at least twice, landing deep within the tall marsh grass. My trusty dog Onyx, more house pet than retriever, immediately piles into the water, conducts a quick search and happily plucks the duck out of the reeds. We all quietly cheer for her as she swims back to the blind. Every duck hunter wants to know the secret to shooting more ducks.

Being successful during the waterfowl season requires scouting, scouting and more scouting. Every season, I go through extensive lengths to find new areas, in an attempt to find that hidden, off the grid, ducking hunting nirvana. While location certainly is a huge component linked to duck hunting success, several other items are also critical.

Calling, ducks into shooting range is important and doing it effectively takes a refined understanding of basic duck sounds and behavior. Hundreds of instructional videos have been created to teach people how to call effectively. Watch those videos and out call the guy hunting in the blind next door practically every time. Busy and lack the time to invest in receiving a master’s degree in duckology? Well, let me share four quick and easy secrets to help increase success this October.

Buy a teal and wood duck call. These two additions are extremely effective in calling in these two species when standard “quack” calls will fail to do so. Both the teal and wood duck call are easy to learn by reading the instructions on the back of the package. These calls will add an entirely new dimension to any sportsperson’s duck-hunting arsenal.

Hunters should not be seen, so limit movement and cover up the often forgotten face and hands with camouflage face paint or netting so as not to spook approaching ducks. - Decoy spreads should be seen and contain a lot of movement. This is accomplished by including spinning wing decoys, jerk chords and any other products that create water disturbances, mimicking happily feeding ducks.

Quack, quack, quack is the basic call of the mallard and black duck. This is the “King” of duck vocalizations. Use heartily to call to a ducks wing tips and tails to turn them and lightly in the morning when the marsh is coming alive. Do not call loud and repeatedly, overdoing it and frightening ducks.

Later in the season it pays to add white colored decoys to your set-up, as doing so will yield visits from both hooded and red crested mergansers. Take old mallard decoys and paint them white and black to mimic mergansers.

In Washington county wood duck and teal become almost non-existent after the first two weeks of October, so get on them fast and hard before they disappear! Find your own secret waterfowl hot spot by exploring Fourth Machias Lake (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 35, C-2). This lake has a great boat launch on the northern end and a healthy population of resident Canada geese and late season mergansers.

Eat a Merganser? 
Late season duck hunting in Washington county means you better have an appetite for Hooded and Red Breasted Mergansers, as a typical hunt will usually only yield these prehistoric looking “divers”. Unfortunately, these “fish ducks”, as they are commonly called, have developed a bad rap and more often then not, hunter recklessly toss them into the woods, a serious breach of hunting etiquette and an obvious violation of Maine’s wanton waste law. Hunters cannot expect to simply throw this duck on the grill and have it taste like a wood duck or a mallard but with a little preparation, these “fishy fowl” can be made to taste delicious.

Start by breasting the birds with a sharp knife, removing the two palm sized chunks of flesh found to either side of the breastbone. Next, cut the breasts up into cube shapes about the size of a quarter. Take all of the pieces and place them into a marinade comprised of half orange or apple juice and half beer (cheap beer works best). Let the breasts soak in the marinade for 2-3 days. Remove the breasts, wrapping each one with a half a slice of bacon and then secure the bacon with a toothpick. Place each completed morsel on the grill and cook until the bacon is done. Serve at a party with unsuspecting party guests and watch them devour these “merganser hors d'oeuvres”!

Stalking Evening Timber Rockets
After a long day sitting in the duck blind, I am ready to stretch my legs with an afternoon activity allowing me to get more exercise. One of my favorite early evening activities involves walking a deserted woods road in pursuit of grouse. As the day’s shadows begin to lengthen and grouse begin emerging from the underbrush to gather small pebbles along the roadsides. This nightly ritual, designed to assist the small birds digestive system, exposes them for a short period of time in the early morning and evening to the shotgun of a patient hunter. If hunting with a partner, make sure to clearly define who is covering what areas, so that when a grouse flushes there is no confusion or worse yet a hunting “accident” when a quick shot is taken. Walk slowly, again SLOWLY and continually scan the woods for movement. This pace will also typically frighten rabbits out of hiding and provide you with a bonus item for the stew pot. The trick to shooting grouse is finding out where the birds want to be. Food, water and effective cover are by far the most important considerations. Nashes Lake, Howard Lake and Beaver Lake (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 37, C-1) are surrounded by a maze of dirt roads and ATV trails suitable for hours of “heater hunting” or a fun evening walk chasing Timber Rockets.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reflector Oven Cooking with the "Sproul Baker"

I am regularly impressed by the quality of Maine based products found throughout the state. You certainly do not have to look very far to find skilled craftsmen plying their trade out of small shops, building superior pieces of handmade merchandise. These individuals have honed their skills over decades and are masters of their craft. Because of the huge number of craftsmen, around the state, creating truly exquisite pieces of what I would categorize as “art”, I am always on constant alert as to what could be the next new and interesting Maine made outdoor product.

Enter the innovative Maine company campfirecookware, located in the town of Bowdoinham, Maine. Here operating out of a small workshop, proprietor and master metalworker Chas Gill builds what can easily be described as simply the best campfire reflector oven on the market, the “Sproul Baker”.

 The "Sproul Baker" was originally designed and built by Harley Sproul from Lincoln, Maine. Harry was displeased with the quality and effectiveness of the reflectors ovens available on the open market and decided in the late 90's to build a reflector oven that worked properly. Harry’s initial idea for the “Sproul Baker” was based on historic sketches of reflector ovens used by woodsman, trappers and loggers in the 1800s, prior the modern cooking ovens. This original design was further improved upon by 7 years of research and development, fueled by a grant from Maine’s Institute of Technology.


Finally, in 2004 the “Sproul Baker” reached a point of perfection and the first ovens began being sold. After many years of success, Harley discontinued production and for a period of time it appeared that the infamous “Sproul Baker” might fade into oblivion. Thankfully, in the spring of 2011, after over a year of communications, Harry came to an agreement with current owner Chas Gill who took over the business in the fall of 2012, continuing the “Sproul Baker” legacy.

What makes the “Sproul Baker” so wildly successful is its elegant and simplistic design. Easy to assemble, collapse and store it is truly a marvel of engineering. Its tinned steel construction makes it lightweight (2 lbs 4 ozs), rugged and sturdy allowing a single unit to be enjoyed by generations of outdoorsmen.


What makes this oven so amazing is the quality construction and the care and attention to detail that goes into the creation of each unit. All the forming and assembly of the oven is painstakingly completed by hand, over the course of approximately 2 hours. The oven boasts many critical features, lacking in the “competition”. These include a baking pan coated on the sides and bottom with high heat black paint, allowing complete heat absorption to maintain proper baking temperatures. Also, an innovative handle that remains cool (not requiring the use of hot mitts!) enough to allow the unit to be picked up and moved to facilitate proper baking results. Lastly, the shiny interior surface of the oven provides complete reflection of heat from the flames of a campfire, allowing the oven to absorb heat better, allowing the ability to bake anything just like at home.


Reflector ovens have been around since the Maine woodsmen and river drivers started cutting Maine's forest down, starting back in the early 19th century. Almost all meals were prepared in the outdoors and the only way they could prepare baked goods was with the reflector oven. No better method has since been invented and with the proper procedure the results are always excellent.


Chas is well acquainted with reflector oven baking from his many years, spent working at the Wilderness Bound camp owned and operated by Pierce Pond camps. Every summer Chas would lead groups of 12-20 campers on treks around the Allagash and Katahdin areas. Chas knew well that the key to a fun and enjoyable trip is the quality of food. During these adventures, Chas would use his reflector oven to bake biscuits, cornbread, brownies, cake, and even fresh raspberry and blueberry pies for the ravenous campers. Chas is currently working on recipe book based on Harleys Sproul’s original Reflector Oven cookbook!

Need a few recipes to hold you over before Chas releases his new cook book? Why not try these two sure to please camping favorites!

Cheese-Garlic Biscuits
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3-cup milk
1/2-cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/4-teaspoon garlic powder
*Mix Bisquick, milk and cheese until a soft dough forms. Beat vigorously 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a sheet of lightly greased aluminum foil cut to fit the shelf of your reflector oven. Bake 8-10 minutes or till golden brown. Mix margarine and garlic powder; brush over tops of warm biscuits.

Easy Cobbler 
3/4 cup melted butter
1-cup sugar
1-cup flour
2/3-cup milk
1 large can sliced fruit
*Pour butter in 8-inch square casserole. Combine sugar, flour and milk. Pour over butter. Add fruit. Bake until golden brown.

Please consider purchasing your very own SPROUL BAKER and make sure when you do to tell Chas  Gill that the Rabid Outdoorsman sent you! Thanks!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - White Perch

White Perch - The white perch, Morone americana, actually do not belong to the perch or Percidae family of fishes but instead scientists classify them as Moronidae, members of the temperate bass family. Possessing completely silver bodies, white perch look similar to juvenile striped bass but with a slight humpback appearance and no stripes. A hard, scaly body along with a dorsal fin, containing several sharp spines, works to protect the fish from predators and stands to provide unsuspecting anglers with an unpleasant surprise.

White perch range from Nova Scotia to South Carolina and have been illegally introduced into the Great Lakes, causing destruction to native fish species. A voracious feeder, white perch can easily consume so many fish eggs and fry that they can effectively take over an entire landlocked body of water. A delectable species of game fish, anglers pursue white perch with intensity and frequently enjoy catching average specimens measuring 8-9 inches and weighing 1 pound.

In 2009, Daniel Dolloff pulled a trophy 3.24-pound white perch from the waters of Ellis Pond in Brooks, Maine and it currently stands as the state record. White perch migrate throughout April to June into tidal fresh and slightly brackish waters to spawn. Mating occurs with females first releasing a sticky, gelatinous mass of over 150,000 eggs that adheres itself to the first thing it touches. During the weeklong spawning season, males in the area then release milt around the eggs to fertilize them. Eggs and sperm are randomly mixed and 1 to 6 days after fertilization, the young hatch. Juveniles hide in protected inshore estuaries and creeks, feeding on aquatic insects and small crustaceans until old enough to school together with adults in open water. White perch typically live 9-10 years with some bruisers living as long as 15 years!

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. Are white perch members of the “perch” family of game fish?
2. What is the primary defense weapon of the white perch?
3. What is the native range of the white perch?
4. Do white perch exist in the great lakes?
5. What was the weight of the biggest white perch caught in Maine?
6. What is the average weight of an adult white perch?
7. When is the mating season for the white perch?
8. What is the average life span of a white perch?
9. How long does it take after fertilization for white perch eggs to hatch?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. No, perch are not members of the “perch” or Percidae family of fishes but rather classified as Moronidae, members of the temperate bass family.
2. The primary defense weapon of the white perch is a dorsal fin, containing several sharp spines that protect the fish from predators.
3. The native range of the white perch runs from Nova Scotia to South Carolina.
4. White perch do exist in the great lakes where they were illegally introduced.
5. The biggest white perch caught in Maine weighed 3.24 pounds.
6. The average weight of an adult white perch is 1 pound.
7. The mating season for the white perch runs from April to June.
8. The average life span of a white perch is 9-10 years.
9. After fertilization white perch eggs hatch in 1-6 days.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Black Bear Predator Calling, Last Minute Fishing & Crow!

September arrives, bringing with it a marked decrease in the number of biting insects, a slight nip to the evening air and dramatic color changes in local foliage. It is also this time of year when hunters begin to develop that wild and crazy look in their eye, as the excitement of the impending arrival of hunting season builds to a crescendo.

Bear Hunting
Bear hunting provides an adrenaline pumping adventure, guaranteed to raise goose bumps on even the steadiest and most reserved outdoors people. A primal urge exists deep within the primitive mind that signals an instinct to run when an immense meat eating animal lumbers out of the woods, suddenly and mere yards from a hunters shooting position. Few other creatures appear quite so mighty and powerful as a truly massive black bear and even professional hunters feel their hearts beat heavy just at the sight of these bruins. Washington County is home to one of the most productive black bear habitats in the state and is well know for growing trophy black bears. If you have never tried bear hunting, I strongly suggest giving it a try!

While black bear are primarily hunted in Maine over bait or by using dogs another method of hunting them quickly growing in popularity now includes using predator calls. Hunters can hunt bears without using bait or dogs from August 26, 2013 through November 30, 2013. Calling bears offers a different type of hunt and it can be extremely difficult to trick them into shooting distance. Unlike calling other predators like the finicky fox and the caution coyote, calling bears requires either a lot of lungpower or an electronic calling device. Bruins have extremely short attention spans and when the calling stops, so will the approaching bear. Screaming rabbit, is a popular Maine choice but hunters will need to practice an extreme level of patience and maintain continuous calling sequence lasting for an hour or more before they can expect a bear to lumber into shooting range.

When choosing a location to set-up your calling sequence, a number of factors must be considered. Sites should preferably be in thick wooded spots beside swamps or near small streams where food and water is readily available. Hot September days can often find big bears hiding out in these damp areas as a way of staying cool in the full heat of the day. The cedar swamps closely bordering blueberry patches or beechnut-laden ridges are prime black bear habitat. Extensive scouting for sign and the use of game cameras will greatly help hunters pinpoint prime areas and maximize their time spent calling. Determining the predominant wind direction and placing stands or ground blinds directly downwind or crosswind from the expected direction of approach will increase the chance of fooling the sensitive noses of these bruins. Hunters should still always be cautious; as a bear coming in to what it believes is lunch is often anything but predictable.

Up for the challenge of calling in a bear this September? I suggest exploring the area around “Fletcher Field”, DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 35, D-3, D-4, D-5.

Last Minute Angling 
To anglers looking to get in some last minute fishing this month, I offer a gentle reminder about an easy to forget August rule that can quickly get you in hot water with the local game warden. Starting on August 16, fishing in brooks, streams and rivers in Washington County is restricted to the use of artificial lures or flies only and the combined total daily bag limit for trout, landlocked salmon and togue is 1 fish. Local convenience stores will continue to sell trout worms and crawlers but anglers should remember to be cautious of the limitations. Instead of bait, fish favorite flies or small spinners and try your luck on the small streams along Route 9 in early evening and morning. Though along a major travel route a majority of these small streams are not fished much beyond 100 yards from the roadside. A quick walk through the streamside underbrush will yield fishing hot spots that have remained untouched.

Crow Hunting 
Crow hunting begins on August 1st and runs until September 21st. With a little invested effort, hunters can create a dozen or so simple handmade silhouette decoys that are fun to make. Having kids assist with the sanding and painting makes this an even more enjoyable activity and a good way to get them to understanding how decoys function as a way to lure in wary avian species. Be glad you never threw out even the smallest scraps of ½ inch plywood as they can be easily converted to crow shape with just a few minutes work with the jigsaw. For a pattern, do an Internet search using Google with the key words “crow silhouette pattern” this will load up several different design options. By drilling a small hole in the bottom for a stake made from the remains of a metal coat hanger the silhouettes can be set out in fields or with a small eyelet screwed into the top, suspended from trees to add even more realism to your decoy spread. Once the silhouettes are in place all it takes is a hand held crow call to complete the ruse and hunters will enjoy fast action.

Crows tend to be destructive and cause considerable crop damage. Most landowners understand this problem and are happy to have you work to eliminate crows from their properties. Just please remember the cardinal rule of “leave only foot prints”, when accessing someone else’s land to ensure it remains accessible to future hunters.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hunting Predators with the W1000 Thermal Weapon Sight by ModArmory

It’s cold, scary cold, the thermometer on the porch reads -15 F and a light wind blows from the northwest adding additional discomfort to the already frigid temps. The moonless night completely obliterates any and all light, making navigation into the woods impossible were it not for the illumination of my headlamp. My first tentative steps off the porch compress a snow the consistency of Styrofoam and the squeaking noise sends shivers down my spine. My planned 5-hour sit promises to be long and uncomfortable, despite my best preparations.

I begin walking through the frigid night and 10 minutes later arrive at the bait site. The ground is littered with coyote tracks and the road killed deer carcass has been completely dug out of the snow and ice. I quickly and quietly open to the door to the hunting shack and slip inside. The shack is very basic and contains little insulation beyond its quarter inch thick plywood walls and ceiling. The shack’s one small luxury, a well-padded lounge chair, designed to offer ones posterior comfort through the long, cold dark night. While the shack contains a small propane heater, I dare not start up its welcoming heat lest the smell of propane frighten away my targeted prey. I check my wristwatch and it reads 1:00 AM. I place my R15 into the gun rest and slowly slide the barrel out the window. A parachord loop hangs from the ceiling, suspending the gun in midair and allowing for hands free operation. Such a set-up is necessary when a long sit is expected and your intended query could only potentially present a shot opportunity measured in seconds.

I turn on the W1000 thermal weapon sight and peer into the cool green glow of its eyepiece. Using infrared technology, the W1000 senses differences in heat emitted by objects within it’s field of view, making where there was once only darkness, alive with depth and color. Trees, rocks and the ground appear painted in various shades of green and the 100 yards of darkness to the bait site is as “tactically” visible as if under the midday sun. Unlike night vision technology, the W1000 continues to function after sunrise, operating as effectively during daylight as nighttime. Using IR technology, the W1000 senses heat and not light and therefore will not “bloom” or fail to function when hit by direct sunlight. The unit’s standardized NTSC video output allows the device to easily connect to a digital recording unit, making it extremely simple to record your hunts. The small view screen on the video unit (sold separately) also makes it extremely easy to sit back and watch the monitor rather than continually sit forward to stare into the eyepiece, a great benefit on a long, cold sit. Settling in to my chair, I set the W1000 crosshairs on the bait site and quietly close the blinds heavy curtains in a desperate attempt to seal out the bone chilling cold. With the gun in position, a simple movement of my finger is all that is required to gently move the firearm and W1000 back and forth to effectively scan the bait site and immediate surroundings. Despite the hostile weather conditions, after 6-8 hours on a sit the battery on the W1000 still reads over 50 percent charge. In other words, I am always ready to call it quits way before the W1000.

Of course as amazing it is to see in complete darkness, the real excitement occurs when a predator walks into the video frame. The W1000 separates “living” animals from the green hues of the background imagery by “coloring” them white or black. This is an obvious and very distinctive contrast from the green rocks, ground and trees. This creates a lot of WOW factor when after hours of hunting that first predator stumbles into the bait site. I was blown away just being able to watch small rodents and roosting birds at over 80 yards down range! The W1000 allow you to select from multiple targeting sights and choose white or black as the active coloring of any heat emitting predator unfortunate enough to stumble into your effective range. For hunters, the obvious choice was the standard “+” sight, matched to the “black” color scheme. This allows a high contract between the white colored “+” cross hairs and the black animal, making it easy to ensure proper bullet placement.

The W1000 connects quickly and easily to the picante rail of any AR15 style rifle. A simple lever system attaches to the W1000 to the rail with a vice like grip. Targeting the rifle only requires you to use a hand heater pack taped to a bull’s eye. This small heat source creates a perfect sized shot signature and is all that is needed to create the temperature difference the W1000 needs pick it up on the viewfinder with ease. A few shots and follow-up turns on the W1000’s adjustment nobs and that is all that is required to get into the darkness chasing predators. Hunting with the W1000 is certainly a thrilling experience and I want to extend a special thanks to the fine folks at ModArmory for providing me with the opportunity to test their equipment through Maine’s rigorous winter coyote night hunting season. For the ultimate in high end predator hunting make sure to check out the impressive range of IR and night vision options offered by ModArmory.
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