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.
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