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.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mount Katahdin Hike Reflections

"Man is born to die, his works are short lived. Buildings crumble, monuments decay. Wealth vanishes, but Katahdin in all it's glory, forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine" -Percival P. Baxter

"If you have to ask why men climbs mountains, you will never understand the answer anyway." - Rabid



Thursday, August 1, 2013

August PERFECT for Coyote Hunting and Bass Fishing!

Coyote Hunting 
While hunters can shoot coyotes in Maine all year round, a special night hunting permit allows hunters to shoot coyotes at night until Aug. 31st. While use of spotlights is certainly extremely beneficial, hunting under the added illumination of a full moon offers an even higher degree of visibility, providing more accurate species identification and faster target acquisition in a larger kill zone. The full moon on August 20th will afford the last really good opportunity to pursue these critters at night until the coyote night hunting season re-opens in mid December.

Those new to the exciting sport of predator hunting will find August the perfect time to get out and try their luck, as young coyotes will be out and about in the early evenings. These awkward, uneducated teenage coyotes are typically much easier to dupe and will often forgive calling mistakes that would typically run off more wary mature coyotes. If wanting to try hunting coyotes and yet to do so, this is the month! The shear number of available predator calls is mind blowing and newbies often have a difficult time making a selection that is both easy to operate and works well on Washington County coyotes. The “Original Tweety” call by Verminator is a small hand held call, quick to learn and operate and capable of producing a wide range of calls from wounded bird to rabbit to deer by simply placing the reed at different depths within the mouth. For those looking to attempt some basic howling, the Primos Mini-Mag Howler is a fantastic starting call. While it does require a fair amount of practice before attempting to take it afield it is still one of the easiest howlers to learn to call well. Additionally, howling mistakes made by newbie predator callers will not be that important in August as teenage coyote howls frequently crack and are not as perfect and on key as the adults.

The Stud Mill road is a dirt highway through the vast Maine wilderness, providing access to thousands of miles of prime coyote hunting opportunities. One of my personal favorite spots is located in and around Cranberry lake (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 35 E2 and 3). Hunting in groups of 3 or 4 people a common technique involves using a vehicle to drop off individuals at set intervals and have them try calling. A couple miles between each caller is sufficient spacing and allows each person plenty of breathing room. Once the driver parks the vehicle and is in place, they call for about an hour and then drive back and collect the other hunters. This sequence can be repeated over and over and allows a group to cover a lot of miles calling. Just remember to take turns being the last man out of the truck as stud mill coyotes seem to be forgiving of vehicles that simply drive by but a stopping vehicle makes them extremely cagey and the last man out of the truck usually shoots the least number of coyotes.

 Please remember that the Stud Mill road and all of the connecting side roads are a titanic and complex maze for the uninitiated. When dropping off hunters, be sure to have a plan in place for pick-up that involves colored marking ribbons at drop off positions, a set meeting time to be by the roadside and GPS waypoints. Being lost in the Maine woods anytime of year isn’t an enjoyable option and a simple plan makes this scenario completely preventable.

Bass Fishing
Haven’t yet quite quenched that bass fishing desire? Well, now is the time to get out there on the water. While a certain contingent of anglers believe strongly in a strict policy of catch and release that does not match my ideals. Fishing without keeping a few of these delectable trophies to me is a lot like chewing and not being allowed to swallow . . . there is simply an enjoyable component of the fishing experience that is inherently missing.

If planning to try hauling in a few hogs for the deep fat fryer, the perfect size bass is in the 2-3 pound range. This size makes for a good-sized filet for the exerted effort and also provides a younger fish less likely to be loaded with copious amounts of mercury. Though many will brag about their award winning frying batters, I prefer a easy to prepare whole milk, egg, flour dip. Simply put each of the three ingredients in separate bowls and dip the filets into each bowl, completely covering them with each of the ingredients. Once the pieces are completely covered with batter they can be lightly dropped into the deep fat fryer where they sputter in the hot oil till they reach a golden brown color. Once removed pat dry with a paper towel, salt heavily and drop on a plate with a side of garlic smashed potatoes and a couple ears of corn on the cob, lightly sprinkled with chili powder. DELICIOUS!

Bass #50 for the Day
It is certainly no secret that Washington County contains numerous truly epic lakes and ponds, filled to the brim with large and small mouth bass. Topping this listing of impressive waters is Grand Falls Flowage (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 36, A-2). This shallow 6,691acre body of water contains submerged logs, stumps and aquatic vegetation making it perfect habitat for birthing big bass. The flowage also commonly produces small mouths in the 3-4 pound range due to strict length limits. While bass certainly thrive in this location that does not mean they will necessarily be easily caught. A number of factors including time of day, ability to locate promising bottom structure and lure selection presents just a few of the variables that will need to be carefully considered.

One way to stay updated on the latest bass fishing action is to check out: This local bass fishing club was established to promote bass fishing in Washington County and the surrounding area. Their primary goal is to improve the sport through such endeavors as introducing more youth to bass fishing, promoting catch and release and helping to improve the quality of fishing in Downeast Maine. The president Matthew Mitchell and the rest of the club members enjoy promoting the sport, answering questions and assisting other anglers in finding that magic selection of lures, time and habitat that will lead to a successful day on the water!
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