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Monday, April 21, 2014

Care about deer? Vote to hunt bear!

My 10-pointer shot on Nov 25th 2011.
The closer we get to November, the more I am concerned about what life will be like for my beloved White-tailed deer.  In 2007-2008, we had a harsh winter with a lot of snow followed by massive flooding in the northern part of the State.  Since that time, the overall deer herd has been struggling to get back to the numbers we once knew.  Guides and older hunters talk about the days when you would see deer all the time and Maine was known for its 'Big Buck hunting.'

While, I will always love to tell the story of shooting my 10-point buck, if we really want to rebuild our deer population and be a coveted place for deer hunters to come, we need to start looking at what impacts the deer and what we can do to help them.

We have heard over and over again that there needs to be work done to create healthy and sustainable habitats for deer and I totally agree.  But -- there are other issues that could dictate how likely our deer population is to rebound and that are predictors.  Specifically the bears that we have in Maine.

On November 4, the health of the deer population will be determined by voters casting ballots to allow hunters to continue hunting black bear with all hunting techniques or it will be now illegal and there will be nothing but still hunting allowed which WILL result in a boom in the population.  The more bears we have, the more food will be needed to keep them sustained.  Everything from attacking bird feeders and bee hives (also in danger of population decline) to preying on fawns and young moose is possible.  Those fawns are the future of the Maine deer herd - that same herd that we want to see grow and become robust.

Sadly, this part of the equation has been left out of the media campaigns.  The Humane Society of the United States wants undecided voters to see those adorable little bears or the poor bear in a foot snare being shot at point blank range.  They do not show the photos or stats of nuisance bears that are killed, what happens when over population sets in nor do they want people to do research and see that states who had once outlawed these same types of hunting are not frantically trying to overturn the measure and get their bear population back under control.  They might not want you to, but I do!

Maine has some of, if not THE best bear biologists in the United States.  Some biologists have been looking after and studying this population for 30 years.  For any out of state organization to claim that those biologists don't care about these bears is ridiculous.  Knowing generations of bears and seeing sows birth sows who grow up and birth more sows... you get to watch their little family grown and expand.  For me, I want to know about the deer herd, learn their habits and enjoy being able to watch twins play around in the fields while their mom stands just inside the tree line.  That is what makes us hunters: our love of these animals.

We are also smart people and know that a healthy population is one that is kept in check and not allowed to over populate.  I would much rather see a target number of 5,000 bears be taken every year (bringing economic stimulus to camps, guides, meat processors etc) and know that the overall population will remain healthy and vibrant then to see there be aggressive hunting or no hunting of those animals.  It is just cruel to watch a group of animals go through starvation and disease because of over population and knowing that there is an easy solution.

To help or learn more, please visit Save Maine's Bear Hunt or click the link to the right of this blog post.





Monday, April 14, 2014

Welcome Spring!

After snowstorms in March and rain, Saturday was one of the nicest days we have had in a long time.  We eagerly got outside and went for a walk.  Baby fell asleep in the jogger, wrapped in a blanket with the sun on him and the wind in his face... it made me jealous. 
The dog got to take a splash in the run off - which she was ecstatic about and promptly dove in face first to the cold, cold water.



And on our way back, I saw this feather wound around the branch of a bush on the side of the road.  I didnt know what it was until I posted it on Twitter and Jeff said it was a turkey feather.  A great sign because turkey season starts in two weeks! 





















Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The magic of a hunting book

A few weeks ago, my great-uncle Donald sent me this book because he had been reading my articles in the Northwoods Sporting Journal and thought I would enjoy this find. While this is not super old, it is older than me and it was great to read through the book and "learn" how to hunt, fish, hike, camp etc.

The great thing about being an outdoors-woman right now, is the openness and excitement that I have found with other writers and outdoor-men in my life.  In order for us to evolve and become more interested in getting outdoors, it takes someone who is willing to teach us.  I hope that when Uncle Donald sent this to me, he saw that too.  It is a way to pass on a deep hunting heritage to other family members and create more hunting stories for future generations.

There is an entire section about what type of ammunition you should use for each gun you may be hunting with.  You can learn about different knives you will want to bring with you or you may want to know how to tie a variety of knots when you are camping, boating or hunting.
Proper field dressing

Reading this book has been such a great experience - and I am learning more about the outdoors.  Some things change, some things I need to learn (like fishing) but some things like gutting a deer have not changed (at least when it comes to how we do it and how the book suggests it be done).

There is a section about still hunting and stand hunting that I need to spend more time reading. There are pictures of the ideal spot to hit a deer depending on how they come into view and where the meat is on them.

The best part is seeing what was suggested as a part of a successful hunt back in the 70's and early 80's and compare it to what Dad and I do now and how (overall) successful we have been.  There is no mention of trail cameras, obviously, so looking at the lack of technology in hunting and realizing how much Dad and I use cameras - we have three of them - its such a classic way of hunting.

Fishes?


I need to brush up on these pages a lot!  I have a fishing trip planned for next month with the sole purpose being to catch a couple of fish that we can eat.  I am hoping to get a couple of salmon but really, if I can cast and land a fish, I will be happier than a kid on Christmas morning.  It is such a new thing to learn and I hope that when my kids get old enough (like 5 years old) they will have an interest in fishing and then we can have hunters and fishermen in the family.  We do have a pretty awesome Spider Man fishing pole ready to be used!

There is a section about proper casting and the types like backhand lob, straightaway cast and flip cast.  There is a definition of rod and reel vs fly fishing and how to properly do both. 

Pages upon pages of world records for saltwater and fresh water fish are listed in the back of the book.  Maybe someday, if I ever retire, I could pick a couple of these records and see if they still stand or update them.  I didn't spend much time looking at them, so I dont know where they were, but if any were in Maine, I will check them out.  Who knows, maybe I will land the big one. Ha!

I love this photo of an outdoors-woman!  A compound bow to fish though?  There is a large section of the book dedicated to archery and the different types of bows, arrows and how best to shoot them. 

My favorite part of this book though, is an entire section dedicated to the "edibility" of animals.  Here is a recap of some of my favorites:

Black Bear - "the meat is dark and tends to be coarse.  But it is very good when handled and prepared properly."

Whitetail Deer - "whitetail venison, if treated like good beef will taste delicious.  Prompt and proper field dressing insures fine meat."

Caribou - "caribou meat is rated excellent."

Mountain Lion - "the meat is reminiscent of lambs or veal in flavor, texture and taste.  The relative lack of fat makes it somewhat dry however." (While this sounds fantastic - WHO EATS THIS?)

The list includes the usual suspects of animals that we do eat but also mentions raccoons, bobcat, lynx and squirrels of all varieties.


So, if you come across any old hunting books, feel free to send them my way so that I can add them to my new collection!  There is something magical about going through an old hunting book and thinking about a time when it was about getting out into the woods, loving and learning nature and bringing home tonight's dinner.




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Taking turkey hunting to the next level?

As I was driving to work today I had a thought; one of my biggest issues with transitioning to turkey hunting is the idea of aiming at the head and hoping enough pellets are close enough together to kill the bird.  What if I learned to bow hunt for turkey?  That would give me one arrow to aim (like one bullet) and I would have one target to hit instead of aiming in a general spot.

For those of you avid turkey hunters, what is your thought on this?  I would not be able to do this until next year, but it is a tempting thought.  Will it work?