Monday, May 12, 2014
Turkeys, Coastal Access and Spring Cleaning
May means only one thing to this outdoorsman and that’s spring turkey hunting! It’s hard to believe that only a few short years ago turkeys didn’t even exist in Maine and that now we have a population that is flourishing with extreme vigor! For this hunter, nothing quite stirs my blood like the early morning gobbles of a tom turkey and the chance to harvest one of these magnificent fowl.
Turkey season this year runs from April 28th, 2014 through May 31st, 2014 with the Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day (resident and nonresident) occurring on April 26, 2014. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) have instituted a change to the 2014 turkey hunting laws, turkeys may now be hunted 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. For more specifics on turkey hunting laws, rules and regulations please see the IFW website at: www.maine.gov/ifw. These changes provide some fantastic new hunting opportunities for those who work 8 to 5:00 or find waking before sunrise an impossible task. With legal hunting times running till 8:07 PM on opening day till 8:43 PM on closing day, hunters have plenty of time to chase old Tom, long after getting out of work.
Hunters looking to find success during this time of day can be wildly successful in the late afternoon as hens return to nests and randy old Toms haphazardly look for love. Later in the day, hunters that can also locate popular roosting trees and setup ambush spots along often used travel corridors and wait for the birds to come to them . . . decoys and calling not even necessary!
Prime turkey hunting locations exist throughout Washington County, with a fun and exciting hunt starting in Northfield (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 26, B-2) and driving logging roads into Smith Landing, the beautiful Great Falls (Map 26, B-2) and continuing south, following the Machias River into Whitneyville.
Maine’s Coastal Public Access Guide
Even as a “resident” Mainer, having always lived here, I am still impressed daily by the hidden beauty that exists within our state boundaries. To help unlock these secret gems the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has published a comprehensive three-volume guide, outlining over 700 publicly accessible shoreline access sites along the coast of Maine from Kittery to Calais. The three volumes are organized by region, Southern (South Berwick to Freeport), Midcoast (Brunswick to Hampden), and Downeast (Bangor to Calais) with each guide including descriptions, directions, parking, facilities, GPS coordinates, and more for boat launches, beaches, nature preserves, parks, hiking trails, and other scenic areas. Local and regional maps further simplify planning, greatly facilitating finding a new fishing spot, hidden beach, or seaside hike!
My favorite newly found paradise is Crowley Island (Map 26, E-1). This 300+ acre oasis is open to deer and upland bird hunting, clamming and hiking opportunities! As well as motor vehicle parking, nearby West River landing offers boaters easy water access to Crowley Island.
Coastal Public Access Guides can be ordered by printing and filling out the online form (http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/coastal-access-guide.htm) including a check for $8.00 plus tax per guide and mailing to the Maine Coastal Program, 93 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. Additional questions and comments may be directed to Kathleen Leyden 287-3144.
Spring Cleaning and Organizing
May marks the final and absolute end of winter and warm days super charge my annual dance of putting away augers in exchange for outboard motors, ice traps for fishing poles and winter clothes for bug nets. It is a task I typically attempt to avoid with a vengeance but in the end, it always crashes down upon me with an unrelenting fury. During this exchange, it pays to have a plan in place to better facilitate your struggles. Years ago, I purchased large clear plastic totes to hold all my gear during the off seasons. This simple storage method saves tons of time and effort when attempting to locate critical items during the changing of the seasons. Grabbing the tote labeled, “Turkey Hunting” and I instantly have access to my turkey-hunting vest, calls, shotgun shells, Thermacell, camouflage clothes, tick spray, etc. Some of the totes even have separate compartments or clear plastic Ziploc bags that further help separate critical or smaller items. The trick obviously with employing clear plastic totes to organize is so that items can quickly be visually identified; facilitating the speed at which you can locate needed items!