Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Just a little touch up

Dad and I built our first tree house seven years ago.  It was a little rough but we both fit (barely) and kept fairly dry.  I shot my first deer from that stand.

Last year, we started hunting in that area again because my husband joined us in the woods.  It was sketchy last year!  The roof had fallen in a little, the floor was sagging and the steps nailed onto the tree seemed ridiculously sporadic and unsafe.  So, a few weeks ago, we started making some touch ups so that we will be ready for this upcoming rifle season.  The first thing we needed was a new ladder!

The canvas roof is tied up, but it's a little sketchy
Our "ladder"

The new ladder!  Sturdy and much easier to climb up.
We will figure out a way to make the roof work and stay up.  I can sit up against the trees and away from the sagging portion of the floor and then it is just a matter of waiting for a deer to walk by.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

And then there were three

There is nothing better on a nice fall day then walking through the woods with Dad and checking the trail cam pictures.  We headed out to check the camera by the Sky Condo and the camera by my tree seat.  That big buck has been hanging around the Sky Condo but if it's the same deer as last year, he made a few trips past my seat and into the bog.

After doing some logging on the property, Dad has decided that we will move my tree seat and build another permanent stand.  The plan right now is to move closer to the bog and off to the left of where I sit currently.  This will allow me to sit close to the bog and thickets and if it rains, I can still be around any deer that decide to move.  I am naming my new stand T3 (tree-stand three - how original right?) 

I may do a Google search and see what cool, function designs might be out there that we will want to add to this new stand.  The Sky Condo is pretty nice but we have had to patch up some leaks in the roof and put up canvas to block the wind. T3 will be down in the thickets so the wind won't be a big problem but visibility will be.   This winter and spring, we will cut out some shooting lanes and get the structure up and ready.

I am excited to add to our hunting spots and I am sure Dad has it in the back of his mind that in just a few short years, my son will want to (hopefully) come out with us and what better way to get the hunting bug then sitting in a stand and watching those beautiful deer walk by and play in their natural habitat.  Plus, a shack is better for kids since it will allow us to bring a heater in and you can usually get away with a little movement when you are blocked from view.

Deer season is just a few weeks away for those of us who rifle hunt.  I can't wait to get back into the woods.

View off to my left currently.  See that tree leaning? I'm headed behind it about 500 feet.

I am not sure if T3 will be build on this oak or one behind it.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A walk in the woods

I try to always bring my camera with me when Dad and I go exploring.  You never know what you will see!

Always a good sign
Something made a Bluejay its meal
Perhaps it was this hawk

Monday, September 22, 2014

Same big buck? You tell me!

I have been going back and forth between these photos from last hunting season and the ones below.  Is it the same deer?  The photos are off my two months (Sept vs Nov) but are we looking at the same deer?  It looks like the same antler frame and maybe the same antlers, but I think G3 is longer in the 2013 pictures - or it could be the angle, light and position of the deer.

What do you think?  Same deer?

Friday, September 19, 2014

He stepped on the trap!

Black bear steps on a trap

And walked away. The problem is that he stepped ON it and not in it.  The bears have sprung the trap a couple of times and walked off.  There are so many variables that come into play to make sure that the trap springs exactly where it needs to and successfully goes up the leg and catches instead of releasing, going off too early or late or having the bears not even go near it.

I have said it before... bear hunting is NOT easy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A trap will catch a bear

Right? While I get the blog about my last hunting adventure edited and ready to go, I wanted to share with you some photos from those same sites that show a trap that Steve has put out.  According to Maine law, you must check your trap every day and as a result of Steve doing this, we are getting some huge bears coming in.

An argument that those who are in favor of banning our effective hunting methods like to make is how easy it is to get a bear.  As you have seen, we have a lot of bears coming into the sites.  And they are big bears!  Bait is helping to bring them in but (spoiler alert) I have not shot a bear.  Neither have Steve or Lorri.  The bears are there, are coming in almost daily but unless you are there at the right place and right time, no bear for you!

Here are some great photos that PROVE that just because you put a trap out, it does not guarantee you a bear.  The trap is clearly seen on the ground in that perfect circle.

Bear just steps away from stepping in the trap

Smelling the trap

Walking around the trap.

So close and yet...
TWO bears and still nothing in the trap

If the anti hunters and those who are supporting this ban think that a trap (legally, you can only have one) will result in a bear, they are SO, SO wrong and uneducated.  These are huge bears and could provide a lot of meat for the upcoming winter.  However, until we can match up our time with theirs, we are going to have to continue to enjoy the photos and keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Antler growth

It is pretty cool to be able to see a buck on the trail camera.  This guy was caught on the camera on three different dates but almost at the same spot.  It gives us a cool chance to see how his antlers are growing this season.  This is the first time that we have been able to see the growth, to this extent over a one month period.  I love deer season!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The bucks have arrived

Last fall, we had somewhere between 7 and 10 bucks of all sizes around the treestands.  The biggest bucks we have ever seen showed up a few years ago in mid-August.  This year, we had only does on the cameras.  Sometimes two, three or four but never any antlers.  A few weeks ago, we finally saw some velvet.  But this, is more like it! And check out the time of these pictures. I just hope that we start seeing these types of pictures more often now.

I dont know if this is the same spike horn as the first picture or not.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Highlights from the bear debate

I was able to be in the audience during last Thursday's Town Hall debate about bear baiting.  The panelists were James Cote, Campaign Manager of NO on 1!/Save Maine's Bear Hunt; Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director of the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; Daryl DeJoy, Executive Director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine; and Anita Coupe, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting.
The lies being told by the people working for the Yes campaign are mindblowing.  Here is the link for you to watch.

Here are my highlights and my commentary from the 90 minute event:

* Anita Coupe- "I have been a Mainers for 15 years"  (Mainer's take: you are an out-of-stater who lives in Southern Maine and think that's what Maine is. CLEARLY not a hunter and would rather not question where her meat comes from when she buys it at the store.)

* Judy Camuso - "We have 1 bear for every 8 deer" (It is easy to see all of these deer while in the woods, driving back roads etc.  Not so for our 32,000 bears in Maine.)

* Daryl DeJoy - "You can not trust Maine biologist" (FACT: Maine has THE longest running bear management and research program with THE BEST, MOST TRUSTED bear biologists.  States seek out MAINE for advice on their bears.)

* Judy Camuso - (to Daryl) "I don't care what you say about me, but don't you ever, EVER question the knowledge, integrity or dedication of Randy and our biologists."

* Judy Camuso - "The proponents of this referendum are not going to be there when bear populations and nuisance complaints skyrocket.  Inland Fisheries & Wildlife department will be."  (FACT)

Overall, Anita and Daryl could not break away from their talking points.  They made blatant lies about the types of traps that are used (Anita told a story about a dog getting trapped in a bear trap.  The trapper was IN the audience and corrected her that it was a coyote trap and the dog and it's owner did not have permission to be on the land, but he did) and basically said that they preferred the bears to suffer of disease and starvation.  A woman in the audience was making snarky comments throughout the whole debate and when people referenced Randy Cross' name (one of our excellent bear biologist), she commented that if he was so great where was he?  She shut up really quick when the audience, almost in unison, told her to turn around because he was sitting behind her.  The Yes side was clearly uneducated on the issue and were trying to play off of emotion and not fact.

Seeing and hearing Judy's comments, information and expertise was incredible.  Maine is LUCKY to have her and I think she does not get nearly enough kudos for what she does.  Anyone who listens to her can tell that she is passionate about what she is doing.

This is a heated election issue and I am proud to be helping to get the word out about the impact that this referendum will have on our bear population.  If you live in Maine or know people who do, please, PLEASE VOTE NO!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Let's get a bear

After we struck out on the first night, we planned to go out again and get us a bear.  The photos that were were seeing showed incredible bears coming in all the time.  It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

The day before I was going to drive up to meet with Steve and Lorri, I got a text from Steve: "GET MORE BULLETS."  We had a behemoth bear coming in on a regular basis and when he compared it to his 420lb bear, he figured it was 500-600lbs.
This bear is huge! 500-600lbs probably. Maybe an old Sow by the look of the back stomach area that could be worn out from nursing cubs?
Big head, nice barrel like frame.  This is an incredible, healthy Maine black bear.

I was more comfortable now since I knew where we would be, what the light was like and where I'd be sitting.  This time, I would be sitting with Lorri and Steve would go to site 2. It was a beautiful day with sun, a light breeze and 68 degrees.  Cool and ideal for a bear to come hit the bait. 

We pulled up to the parking spot at Site 1 and there were no hippies!  We were already better off than the last time.  We headed into the site and got set up.  Steve decided that I should sit on the left this time to get a better range.  Lorri and I were ready and excited. Bears had been coming in almost daily and the bait site was ripped apart and every bit of bait was gone.  Lorri and I got into the blind and watched Steve leave more bait.  As per the norm, he checked the camera before leaving fresh bait.  His hand signals said it all: lots of bears including the big one were coming in during hunting hours and staying for 30+ minutes.  Their clock was starting to change and they were getting more hungry and competitive.

It was quiet and I kept visualizing that bear walking in.  Four hours into our hunt, we thought we heard steps coming in.  These were not squirrel steps but something bigger.  This was it! A bear was coming in.  I slowly raising my gun onto my steady stick and waited.  And waited.  And waited. If it was a bear, he never came in.

As the light started to drop, we kept watch and listened for movement or noise of any sort. There was a gun shot in the distance and we saw the minutes and light slip away.  In what seemed like an hour, was really five and we had to call it.  No bears and no more days scheduled to hunt.  A little more than 10 hours in the woods, over bait, surrounded by many bears and not a glimpse of one while I was in the woods. I have said it before - this is NOT easy.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Maine Points Interview

In case you missed it, here is the Podcast from Maine Points with my friend Mike Violette about hunting in Maine!

Enjoy and happy hunting!

The first time I shot my 30-06 in 2007

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stocking Up

My Labor Day Weekend:

Fresh applesauce made, processed and canned for winter. Thanks to Robin, I was able to quickly whip up a batch and got it stored.  I will make at least a couple dozen more for us to have and for those daycare lunches.

Farmer's Market corn husked, cut, processed and canned for a great Shepard's Pie on a wintery day.

Way too many (for someone who doesn't like tomatoes) pints of crushed tomatoes ready to go for sauces, Minestrone soup and lasagnas. I may not like them but there is nothing better than homemade sauce and real tomatoes in dishes that you know are not filled with preservatives.

Monday, September 1, 2014

We took to the woods

I was nervous. Ridiculously so.  I was seeing the big bears that we had coming in on the cameras at each site and I knew that I had to make a damn good shot if a bear came in. I has shot three times to get my gun sighted in and knew that it was right where it needed to be - and I was comfortable making those shots.

I packed all of my clothes, which were washed in anti-scent detergent and properly washed and stored with anti-scent dryer sheets. I showered with my anti-scent soap and put everything into the car.  As I sat in the driver seat of the car going through my mental checklist, I realized that my gun was still inside.  A quick run back inside and I was really ready to go this time.

At Steve's, I prepped some bait for the day.  I was a pro at this point. It was hot - 86 degrees and no breeze but regardless of all of this, it was opening day of bear season!  We had lunch, put everything in the back of the truck and were off to bait sites in the woods.

The plan was to get to the site around 2pm and take our time getting into the blind.  The last thing we wanted was to get sweaty and then have to sit for more than five hours.  I was still nervous during the drive up but I knew I had everything I needed and a gun that was ready and could do the trick.

As we turned off onto the dirt road and rounded the corner, there was a jeep parked where we normally park.

They had pulled up parallel to the road, turning the three potential spots into one.  We pulled up along side of them and Steve went to find the owners of the jeep.  Whomever was out there needed to know that we were planning to hunt and that there were plenty of bears coming into the area.  We also wanted to make sure that if we did shoot a bear and it ran a little ways before it died, anyone else around would be aware and know to expect gun shots.  I waited next to the truck and got my gear unpacked.  I heard voices in the woods and then saw Steve coming out shaking his head
" We have to call the Ranger.  They have a fire going in the middle of the woods.  No fire ring and no rocks.  Just an open fire in the middle of the woods surrounded by pine needles."

It set us back an hour but eventually some very drugged out hippies from out of state emerged from the woods.  One girl and two guys reluctantly packed up their jeep and angrily drove off, honking the horn five or six times as they left.  They even turned around and drove back by, making sure the honk then as well.  The ranger came by and looked for the fire.  The hippies had covered it up using pine needles (nature's kindling) and it was still smoldering so he had to soak the fire to prevent any flare ups from starting.

Loud voices, a random fire and some less than polite harassing hippies and we were finally heading into the woods.  And I was even more grateful than ever that I deer hunt on land that we own!

Our view of the bait from the blind.
In the blind, I got my steady stick set up with my gun  and we waited.  It is weird when you are in a new place - the sounds and light is new, so it takes a while to get use to it.  This was my first day in the blind so everything was new and took some getting used to.  Every year I have to readjust to the fact that squirrels really don't sound like every other large animal in the woods but for those first few days, like most hunters, you swear that what you are looking for be it deer or bear, is coming in when in fact it's a squirrel.

Steve and I waited and waited.  I visualized the bear coming into the bait site and the exact shot that I would take. We hadn't seen any sows and/or cubs on the cameras just good looking bruins of all sizes coming into the bait.  And one massive bear that I wasn't really sure I wanted to see in the woods.

As soon as legal hunting time was over, at 7:58pm we packed up and headed back to the truck.  The bears were around and were steadily coming into the bait but these are wild animals and there is no guarantee that an animal will show up when you are there waiting for it.  It's nature.  It's hunting.  I love it.