Saturday, January 31, 2015

Going rabbit hunting!

The first of four snowstorms was on it's way when we headed into the woods.  I was pretty sure that we could get a couple hours of rabbit hunting in before I had to head home.  This would be my first attempt at small game hunting so I was excited and eager to find out how it was done.

I met up with my cousin Hillary and her finance, Lance to go rabbit hunting with their three beagles.  We loaded up our guns, snowshoes and gear onto snowmobiles and headed out to see if we could get some meat.

Our first stop was a quick trip through a grown up boggy area.  It was thick and there were not a lot of animal signs.  The dogs could not find a scent so we moved on.

The next stop was at the end of a random snowmobile trail.  The woods were totally different than the spot we had just come from.  There were animal paths and lots of rabbit tracks and poop.  Fresh poop is always a good sign when you are hunting.  The dogs started running when we let them off their leashes and by the time we walked down a couple of paths, their barks changed and they were on the scent of a rabbit.
This photo doesn't do the woods justice.  Thick woods but with no lower branches, it felt much more open.
Heading down the path towards a thicker, bog area.
My view once we crouched and started looking for rabbits
Lance showed me the GPS so we could watch where the dogs were running and see how big the circles were that the rabbit had them running in.  They made a circle off to our left, then our right and then headed straight at us.  We crouched and started watching for movement as the barks got louder and closer.

Then, a shot.  Hillary had shot at the rabbit as it ran past her and up the hill towards the snowmobiles.  Unfortunately, the rabbit was too far away. Lance and I never saw it and it was the only shot we would take while we were out there.

We walked more and listened as the dogs picked up another scent.  They ran two more circles around us before we started rounding them up to go home.  No rabbits for us this time but it was fun being in the woods and seeing the beagles work. 

We may try to go out again before the season is over.  It would be fun to actually get a rabbit this season and learn how to skin it and clean it up to eat!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An ideal outdoors woman gift...

...is this! Sent to me by one of the coolest people I know.

Do you know what it is?

It's chaga! I was going to make a concentrate during the snow storm but I made venison stew in my crockpot instead.  I am eager to break it down to drink in my coffee and tea.  I have had it before and loved it.  I am so excited to try making it on my own - and then, I need to work on identifying it in the woods so that I can continue to get it.

Do you drink chaga?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Neighborwoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.







Friday, January 23, 2015

Saving one deer at a time

I don't know if I should have eaten more or less but my stomach was freaking out when Steve and I sat in the blind.  I kept adding layers to keep warm and to see if I could muffle the growls.  I hoped that nothing would hear me and run off.

Steve and Lorri (who had taken me bear hunting) had put out deer carcases from a local butcher about a week before.  The pile of bones were strewn all over the field by the coyotes that had been there.  We got settled into the blind and watched the crows picking away at the pile furthest away.  My stomach growled and they flew away.  I hoped that something else scared them away but I wasn't sure until I saw this guy sweep in.  The Red-tailed hawk flew down onto this pile and started picking away.  I was able to get a few photos until the sun started reflecting off of the lens and spooked him.

Red-tailed hawk picking at the deer bones
Steve started the call when the sun sank behind the trees.  The first call was of a female coyote.  It is mating season so we were hoping to call in a male.  I hate coyotes.  I think that they are the things that nightmares are made of.  Even though I saw the call about 30 feet in front of us, and knew that Steve was operating it, it was freaky sounding.  The second call was of males being territorial.  Also horrible sounding.  Then, he started the wounded rabbit call.  That was by far the worst sound ever.  I really hope rabbits don't make noises like that but if they do, I never want to hear it.

The rabbit wailing continued and the brown hairy decoy with a bright white tail waved back and worth.  I could not figure out how any animal would see that and think that it was an animal. It was about 12 inches off the ground and at on top of a black metal stick.  I kept scanning the field looking for movement.

My stomach started rumbling again and I moved forward to try and keep it quiet.  When I did, I scanned the field again and saw a red animal off to the left watching the decoy.  I had not seen or heard him come in, he just seemed to appear.  He watched the decoy and then looked behind him, then looked back at the decoy and then back behind him.  I couldn't tell if he was sitting or standing but he was stopped.

I hit Steve's leg "Is that a coyote?" I lifted my gun up and pointed it out the window.
Steve had to learn over and almost touched the barrel of my gun with his cheek.
"Yeah.  That's a big one.  He is beautiful."
"Should I shoot him?  He keeps looking behind him"
"Yes, don't wait"
"Back up"

Steve backed away from the gun but I shot before he could cover his ears.  I saw the coyote turn his head around again and then he was gone.  I kept watching to see if I could see any movement. I thought I saw a leg kick up in the air but I wasn't sure and the coyote had fallen down a knoll so that we couldnt see him.

I didn't care about my gurgly stomach at that point.  I was very excited! I had shot a coyote.  I had saved a deer. 

After a few minutes, we got out of the stand and walked along the edge of the field to find the coyote.  I kept looking into the woods for the other coyote(s) that were with this guy.  We approached slowly in case he was wounded but it was clear that he wasn't.  He was dead with a bullet hole in his neck.
Dead coyote
Beautiful coyote
You may not be able to tell, but he was heavy to lift.  We weighed him on a bathroom scale: 37lbs.

I had Steve take these pictures and then we loaded him into the truck and headed out of the woods.  It was a successful hunt and we were excited that we could help the landowner.  There was one less predator in the area.

Since this coyote is my first, fairly big and has a great coat, I am going to get the hide tanned and the skull removed.  I am still not a fan of coyotes but I can now say that I have successfully hunted them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Neighborwoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

A flock of about 20 turkey march through the woods





Thursday, January 15, 2015

A thought this morning...


I could never understand why people watched birds until I got bored and started staring out the window.  Now, I always find myself seeing what these birds are up to, how much they are eating or how they interact with other birds.  The colors alone are impressive - the bright Blue Jays, Cardinals and Chick-A-Dees all dancing around on the trees.  I get it now.

I don't have a lawn, per se, but there are trees and there have been a ton of Robins around.  I started snapping pictures to see if I could get any fun shots of the birds devouring these berries.  This photo made me laugh and I was quiet impressed that I was able to capture the exact moment that this berry was being consumed.

It also makes me laugh because as I head out for a day full of meetings (5 on the books right now), I hope that like this bird, I am able to swallow this berry (meetings) today without turning into a cartoon bird - choking and falling off the branch. We shall see.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Neighborhoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.


No matter the temp, he wants to be outside!






Monday, January 12, 2015

Looking for sheds

It was cold, but the sun was out and Dad, Hubby and I were eager to go into the woods to look at where T3 will be set up, bring in a couple of tree stands and I wanted to look for sheds.

The recent dusting of snow helped to see any new deer tracks.  It also helped to see the main trails and activity of the deer herd.  There were a lot of spots that looked like this.  The deer have been on an acorn frenzy and since there is not a lot of snow, they can still paw at the ground and leaves to find them. 
Deer paw for acorns buried along the leaves and snow.
I tracked a couple of deer from the Sky Condo as we made our way to my treeseat where I shot my deer this year.  It is always amazing and kind of frustrating to see how close the deer are around you and yet, you don't see them during the season.  But, it is also good to see that there are SO many deer around where we hunt. 

Some of the trails amazed me.  They were like super highways through the woods.  I had really hoped that somewhere along these trails, I would find a shed.  Even one shed.  I didn't.  I am not sure if I am not going deep enough into the woods, picking the wrong trails to follow or if these deer just haven't dropped too many antlers yet.
Deer trail
Up hills, down through blowdowns and along the stream, I followed random tracks and highways through the woods.  Dad stayed behind to start trimming out the shooting lanes for T3.  I found five recent deer beds all within viewing distance of where Dad was.  There are two spots that the deer use to cross the nearby stream and one of them was headed directly towards where T3 will be facing.  Ideally, when we sit in this new spot, we will be in the middle of a very busy corridor along the stream.

After Dad was done with the chainsaw, we grabbed the treeseat and headed back to the truck.  If we could have, we would have stayed out a lot longer.  There is something refreshing about being in the woods and the smell of those fresh cut softwoods. 
Heading out of the woods
Dad and Hubby carrying one of the two tree stands we brought in.

We are planning on a two day build for T3.  Dad is working on the sides and platform and we will go back and spend the weekend helping to put it in place.  There are a TON of deer around us and it will be a lot of fun to see what happens come November.  As much as I love snow, the lack of it is helping the deer find and eat plenty of food without worrying about their calorie burn.  Hopefully come November, our healthy deer herd will have benefits for our freezer!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Me and My Land

The Maine legislature begins its next session soon and while there are a bunch of wildlife bills being put forward to help keep Maine's wildlife safe and healthy, each year there is one argument that is heard over and over and over again - the desire for Sunday hunting in Maine.

The law has been on the books since the 1800's and there have been bills to try and get it over turned but nothing has worked.  Many people think that the law is outdated, needs to be changed and is costing Maine revenue from hunters who would come here to hunt.

Here are the most common arguments heard for it:
1. People who work Monday-Friday only have Saturday to hunt
2. If you own the land, why can't you hunt on it whenever you want?

I sat in a meeting recently and the guy sitting at the head of the table wanted our group to work towards legislative bills that would 'help the sportsman of Maine." When he said that he wanted to push for Sunday hunting, some around the table nodded.  I said I opposed it.  Why?  Because I don't want to have to worry about other hunters on my land.  I was told that I have a trespassing issue and not a Sunday hunting issue.

Maybe that is true but during the hunting season, Dad or myself are around our properties enough to know if people are trespassing.  We talk with nearby landowners.  This year, we had a HUGE number of trespassers around and kept a close eye on who, if anyone, was around us when we walked into the woods early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Instead of respecting landowner's rights and the need to get permission, we have people who are yelling at me, leaving their tracks in the snow near our treestand and getting more and more brazen when it comes to hunting on other people's property. 

So back to the above points and my counter points:
1. I work a 45 hour work week, sit on two non-profits boards, have an 18 month old and I still take Fridays off each year to be able to hunt.  Maybe others have to take time in the summer for family stuff but there are holidays in Nov (Veterans Day, Thanksgiving) that you could work some days around and get more time in the woods.  You need to prioritize hunting, if you want to.  If I can make it work while breast-feeding, what's your excuse?

Dad and I hugging the tree on our land, that I shot my 10-point buck from.
2. This one is harder because it would be great to sit on some of the land that we own and hunt without worrying about seeing people around us but that is never the case.  There will always be people who think that they can go out hunting, even if they don't own land.  The same issues will come up - trespassing, poaching... nothing changes if you allow some to hunt on Sundays but not all.  Better to know that the only gun shots you should hear are those from a target range.

One more thing that we need to realize.  If we extended deer season (for example) to allow Sundays, then you are adding an additional 4-5 days to the season.  In order to keep the population in check and make sure that we only harvest about 20% of our total population, our overall season would be shortened.  Instead of a four week rifle season, you would be looking at three weeks and possibly cutting the season off before the prime rut.  Then how would you work in muzzle loading season? Would that start early? would you wait a week so those hunters could hit the woods in early December like they usually do? or would the entire deer season be pushed back and not start until mid-Novemeber?

There are so many issues that would come up if we allow Sunday hunting.  Many people don't want to look at the ripples that this would cause. It is not as simple as just allowing people to go out into the woods one more day each week. For over a century Sunday hunting has been illegal in Maine and I am more than ok with it staying that way.








Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Neighborwoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Bye Bye Christmas Tree




Saturday, January 3, 2015

Road trip

I took the family on a little road trip earlier this week to get out of the house.  We ended up in the same area that I was bear baiting and were I would eventually shoot my bear.  It was the first time I had been back there and it was fun to show Hubby where I had been.

When we stopped for lunch, the coolest painting was in the bathroom.  I know, I know but it was such a cool picture that I had to take a photo. 


And what were the odds that near my hunting area, in that specific restaurant and in the lady's room, there would be this painting.  Pretty neat.