Friday, October 30, 2015

October lull?

Our big bucks have disappeared and we have only been getting does on the trail camera.  The season opens for rifles on Saturday which means we will be in the woods early.  Legal hunting starts at 6:42am so we will probably be in the woods by 6. 

There are deer around and I have a doe permit if I want to take one.  I have already decided that I will not take the doe with the fawn.  I know that the fawn will be fine on it's own but she is a healthy doe who has raised a nice looking baby.  I want to keep her around since she seems to be the only fawn-producing doe around. 

I am more excited about spending time with Dad in the woods.  Over the past few months, Hubby and I have each changed jobs, moved and dealt with the ridiculousness of daycare issues.  I am eager to unwind, sit in a tree and just listen to the geese honking nearby or crows or those stupid squirrels.  You know I am in need of some R&R when I am looking forward to being around the squirrels. 

But, its a new season and I can not wait to see what happens!  Hopefully we are successful and can put some meat in the freezer!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Anatomy of a bait site

Bear season officially ends this week for me (Nov 28 for those who wish to still hunt them) I went out a couple of times and while this happened, I did not fill my tag this year. Luckily, I have a decent amount of bear meat left from last season so I will be in good shape for a bear roast when its -10 and snowing.

Again, I helped Steve with a couple of bait sites and I wanted to post what our sites looked like.  He knows I took these pictures, so while I won't tell you where they are or what sort of secret ingredients we used, I can show you the basic set up.

Anatomy of a bait site (from left to right):
1. Deer hind quarter tied to a tree
2. Milk crate with sweets
3. 55 gallon drum filled with assorted donuts
4. Milk crate with disgusting beaver parts


Over the course of the season, we had bears who preferred the sweets and those who preferred checking out the meats.  When you think about it, bears eat some pretty gross stuff but boy is bear meat delicious!

Next season...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Erin - 0 Turkeys - 254,125

I was ready! Everything was packed and the sun was out.  I drove down to meet up with Steve and we were going turkey hunting.  Well, I was.  He had already tagged out and was sharing his blind with me.

We made our way through the trees and towards the blind on the edge of the field.  The turkeys were already there picking at the food in the field.  It was the first time I had ever hunting agricultural land and the first time hunting turkey in the fall.

We wanted to make sure that we were not seen, so we crawled our way into the blind and set up the chairs, my steady stick and gear.  We watched the birds eating, unaware that we were there.  For the next hour, we watched and hoped that they would get close enough to shoot.  They didn't but instead went into the woods just out of range from us.  We could hear the leaves crunch under them.


Having worked the night shift, Steve left me in the blind and headed back to the truck to take a nap.  I watched the field and listened.  After a few hours, I still had not seen any movement. I was zoning out when I heard chirping.  My seat was in a small gully so I didn't have the best view but one good enough to see the woods line and the remaining crops that the birds were eating earlier. 


I should have been tuned into the chirping but I wasn't.  As it got louder, I lifted myself slightly out of my seat to see if I could see anything.  I could have flipped my gun around and hit the hen in the head with the butt of my gun.  She probably wasn't that close but she was leading a group of birds along the end of the wood's line right in front of the blind.  Maybe three feet from me. 

I crouched down below the blind and shifted up into Steve's seat to get a better shot and have a higher vantage point.  The turkeys kept coming in front of the blind.  They were too close not to shoot.  I pushed the safety off the gun and I made sure the butt of the gun was nestled into my shoulder AND that both beads were lined up (something I forgot this spring) and I fired.  

Birds went in all directions but not in a frantic, what just happened sort of way.  It was more like we don't want to be here anyway.  The bird I had shot at was not on the ground so I shot again and saw him flap a little.  As the rest of the birds headed into the woods, he was trying to follow and couldn't.  He wasn't flying but he wasn't dead.  Damn!

I sent Steve a text but he was already on his way down. There was no dead bird waiting for him.  I felt horrible. We walked along the edge where I had shot at the bird and saw fresh feathers but no blood.  We split up and walked into the woods where I saw the birds last.  Steve flushed a few of them and they flew off to our left.  After a few minutes, we backed out and went into a different spot.  Steve headed right and I went left.  I walked a few steps and listened.  I could hear rustling but couldn't see anything. I stopped, turned around and looked as hard as I could. Nothing.  I could see Steve in the brush (he had taken his camo off) and decided to follow an old skidder trail towards him. 

I took three steps before I saw the turkey.  He was nestled down in the sun facing a large tree. And just like I have a habit of doing with deer when I am on the ground with them, I watched this bird before I did anything else. He hadn't flown with the others and he has not left when he heard us crashing through the brush. This had to be my bird. 

And then he flew away. 

Steve turned and watched the bird fly. He didn't see me standing right there next to it (thanks Kryptek and First Lite) so he yelled for me.  Seeing the bird fly the way it did, he was confident that it was fine.  I might have knocked the wind - or a few feathers - off of it, but I had not wounded it.  Again, there was no blood were the bird had laid in the sun. 

We headed back to the blind to get my stuff.  My ego was a little bruised as was my shoulder (I had a bruise for almost a week) but I had at least seen the birds close up and had taken a shot.  That had to count for something, right?

But, I am calling it for turkey hunting.  I hate those birds ;)

Monday, October 19, 2015

The joys of owning land

How does the saying go? Good fences make good neighbors?  If that's the case, what do posted signs make?

Two posted signs and a property marker tied onto the tree


After a few incidents last year, Dad and I spent Saturday putting up posted signs around the piece of property.  It is kinda of sad to think about the changes over the past few years and how it used to not be an issue: people knew who owned what pieces of land and who hunted on them.  There was a respect for owners and when they said no to hunting, it was respected. 

Last year, I was yelled at while sitting in my tree seat, we had people walking along the edge of our property and our neighbor had hunters that he did not know, sit in his blind and hunt.  There is a total disrespect for land owner rights and what they say is and is not ok on their property.

Sadly, as a result, we posted the land.  As did our property neighbors.  We have worked hard to build up the habitat, keep our little herd healthy and the last thing we want are trespassers thinking that they can hunt without getting the ok from us. 

Something like 90% of the land in Maine is privately owned and I know that there are some great programs in place to help keep that land open to hunting but for us, that means posting it and keeping it clean and healthy and not open to the public.

Hopefully, we the 2015 season kicks off, I wont have any stories of unwanted hunters to report on!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Coyote vs Bear...

You be the judge. For reference, the whole pile is about 5 inches across and Dad said that its about 4 days old. It's filled with apples and seeds.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Preparing for deer season 2015

If you have been a dedicated reader, you know that we have built a new treehouse for the 2015 season.  If you are a new reader, do a quick search for T3 and you can see what we have done so far (and why.)

When the weather is cool with lots of sun, it's hard to be anywhere but outside.  Since rifle season opens in a couple of weeks, Dad, Hubby and I took to the woods to get things set up and ready for the Oct 31 start.

We hauled carpet, plywood, tar paper, canvas and a chair down to T3 to add the finishing touches.  We also brought a limber to get those little branches out of the way of the shooting lanes.  On the floor, we put two layers of the tar paper then the plywood.  The canvas was turned into a gun rent out the front and the carpet was put on the wall behind me to keep out the cold and help to keep me hidden.

The shooting lane that you can see behind me is where I shot my deer last year.
 With the sun shining in on the stand and the lanes being cut out, there was a little bit of anxiety that crept in.  With 5 different shooting lanes visible, the key will be to see a deer in enough time that we can get ready to shoot it when and if it walks into the next clearing.  That leaves a lot of room for error but a lot more opportunities.


In another couple of weeks, more leaves will be on the ground and there will be more peek holes open to notice any deer movement.  When we were done at T3, we headed to a different patch of woods to put a treeseat up.

As we were heading down our path, I saw this huge pine tree that had fallen. We have had some awesome rain and wind storms but it looks more like a causality of a lightening strike since it seems to have splintered instead of come out of the ground with roots exposed.



Im short, so I broke a branch off and was able to walk right under it without to much of an issue.  Hubby had to go around, which meant Dad did too since they were carrying the seat.  I carried the most important part: the straps!

This seat is the one I shot my deer out of last year and we decided to move it to this new spot since the seat there was a little smaller which made it tricky for Hubby and Dad to hunt from it.  It is closer to the Sky Condo now, so it also makes for an easier spot to hunt if we only have a few hours of daylight.


Three and a half hours in the woods and two seats done for the season.  It was such a great day to be outside and it made me really start counting down the days until we can be in the woods; relaxing, enjoying nature and hopefully celebrating some successful hunts.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Becoming a Maine Trapper


I bought into the Hollywood version of trapping.  I sat on my couch in my warm house and watched the guys on Mountain Men check their traps and through ‘that could be fun.’ I watched as they put their traps out, checked them the next day, skinned an animals and did it all over again the next day.  Through the wonders of editing, it looked so simple to be a trapper.  I had a couple of friends who offered to take me out when I told them I had an interest in learning, but they wanted me to take the Trappers Ed class beforehand so I could legally handle the traps.



There were six of us in the initial class in Sidney.  Most were there to make trapping their hobby and pick up some extra income in the off months of winter.  I was there so that I could learn and write about it.  Just like bear hunting, I believe that if you want to write about it, you should try it and have some firsthand knowledge.  That first night was filled with general information, tips on knowing your animals, materials about the different types of traps, regulations and as we left, we were given 40 pages of homework to complete before part two of the class. I hadn’t done homework since Grad school. I spent the next few nights working on that homework; learning the different habitats, live traps vs killer traps, the 110, 220 and 330 conibears and how to use them and Lynx.  Those damn Lynx!
Dana Johnson talks to the class about traps
The smell of skunk “essence” was almost overpowering when I arrived at the Trappers Rendezvous to finish my class. There were 88 of us scheduled to take the class and I was pleased to see that there were 15 women there with me. There were also a good number of younger kids who were taking the class with their mom or dad.  One father and son sat across from me at the table and talked about their love of animals and the son’s excitement over hunting and learning to trap so that he could fully understand each animal that he came in contact with; from their habitat to their reproduction and what to do with them once he trapped them. You could tell that at the age of 11, he was a dedicated outdoorsman.  



Tom Stevens, a fur buyer from Holden showed us how to handle fur and what buyers look for when they receive furs.  He showed us the tools he used to skin an animal and shared best practices.  In the afternoon, the class was split into groups to get some hands-on experience setting a foothold trap and then covering it back up and making sure that the pan tension was set just right.  For those of us with little to no arm strength and a healthy fear of that trap snapping us, Peter Gerard helped us (ok me) figure out how to open the trap with our feet and work it from there. Brian Cogill, president of the Maine Trappers Association, carried on a conversation about proper handling of animals once you find them in your trap as he cut and skinned a beaver in front of us. It was fantastic!

Brian Cogill demonstrates how to skin a beaver
Brian Cogill demonstrates how to skin a beaver
Brian Cogill demonstrates how to skin a beaver
I started deer hunting thirteen years ago, hardly a long time, but as I read the materials, filled in my homework and watched the demonstrations during the day-long class, I realized that deer hunting is pretty easy considering the amount of work that goes into each trap, the bait, scents, location and daily maintenance.

I have plans to go out trapping with a few people over the next couple of months.  It should be quite the learning experience for me.  But - if I want to be able to write about something, I should know what I am talking about, right?

Happy hunting/trapping!