Monday, May 2, 2016

Shoot Coyote, Serenade Turkeys and Beat Blackflies

Coyotes Hungry
 May has long been one of my favorite times of the year to hunt for coyotes. Even nighttime temperatures creep into the low 30s, a mercury reading practically balmy after long winter nights in the shooting shack with frozen toes and fingers, my body teetering on the edge of hypothermia. Coyotes also begin becoming more active, as both parents constantly search to find food to feed new born pups. Bait sites can light up during this time of year and the call of the screaming rabbit often brings them running. Hunters can monopolize on this small chink in the armor and harvest a few song dogs with minimal effort. Those heading down east, in pursuit of coyotes, won’t be disappointed. Still evenings, shortly after sunset, are frequently fractured by the piercing howls and yips of packs of coyotes on the hunt. In order to kill more coyotes, think food and explore locations where cupboards are not quite bare.

Discussions with farmers will typically yield stories of coyotes stealing chickens, grain and other food stuffs. Hunting these properties is usually as easy as just asking and often yields lasting friendships. Route 9 running from Amherst (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 24, A-2) to Beddington (Map 24, A-1) contains many of these old farmsteads as well as Route 1 running from Topsfield (Map 45, D-5) to Danforth (Map 45, B-3).

Turkey Serenade
Turkey seasons this year, in wildlife management districts (WMDs) 7-29, runs from May 2nd to June 4th, with hunters eligible to harvest two bearded turkeys. Northern zones WMDs 1-6 will continue to be governed by a split season and a limit of one bearded turkey per hunter. In my discussions with sportsmen both young and old, many share that the single biggest reason they don’t turkey hunt, or why they have been unsuccessful in harvesting a turkey in past seasons, is they don’t properly understand how to call spring turkeys effectively. While learning the basic “yelp” is easily mastered by a majority of sportsmen, progressing to learn the complexities of the cluck, cackle, purr and gobble are lost to many. This is unfortunate, as these additional calls often make the difference between success and eating tag soup. While the Internet offers many how to videos on how to create a sweet sounding turkey serenade on a box or slate call, the truth is that most of us simply don’t have the time need to effectively learn these skills.

Electronic calling devices are legal for the hunting of turkeys in Maine and serve as a great way for those short on time or new to the sport to quickly master the calls needed to harvest a big tom turkey this season. While some of these calls easily run into the hundreds of dollars, I have had great past success using my smart phone and a small Bluetooth speaker. With this set-up, I can easily place the Bluetooth speaker 30-40 yards away and send turkey calls to it from my phone. Portable, easy to quickly deploy and with waterproof speakers available, it is a virtually problem free electronic calling solution for just about every sportsman. If investing in a Bluetooth speaker, remember it will also serve hunters well predator hunting and during deer season! Large flocks of turkeys comprised of hens, jakes and toms can frequently be found in strutting across the blueberry barrens throughout all of May. Hunters with good optics can often find these flocks and using the topography devise stocks that will bring them to within shooting distance.

Fun places to spot and stalk, or as I like to call it wish and walk, include the expanse of barrens existing to the East of Pleasant River Lake (Map 25, A-2) and stretching to just beyond the area categorized as “The Middle Grounds” (Map 25, A-3, B-3).

Beat the Blackflies Camp NOW!
Day time temperatures in May can be downright pleasant and night time lows still remain enjoyable, when spent around the pleasant glow of a roaring campfire. Add to the reasonable temperatures, the fact that blackflies and mosquitoes typically do not emerge until the third or forth week of the month and it’s easy to understand why May is my favorite month to camp. No need for reservations in early May or time spent worrying about not finding a suitable lot, as most primitive campsites will be largely deserted till Memorial Day weekend. Hadley Lakes (Map 25, A-3) and Pretty Pond (Map 25, B-3) both contain primitive campsites capable of supporting tents as well as small RVs and will additionally put hunters within easy driving distance of several prime turkey hunting areas. If traveling from Bangor to Calais, Hadley Lake is found by taking a right hand turn onto the dirt road immediately following the Wilderness Lodge. After about a mile, the road veers to the right and a small road turns left. Follow the smaller road to the campground. For those traveling from Bangor to Calais and wanting to visit Pretty Pond, take the next dirt road after the Pleasant River Lake road. The dirt road roughly parallels Mopang Stream for approximately four miles before Pretty Pond emerges on the right.

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