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.
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