Monday, November 30, 2015

The Orange Army




I am a proud member of the Orange army.  

I never really thought about it until I became more involved with the online hunting groups.  So many of my buddies on social media have posted  over the past couple of weeks about trying to get a deer and getting out of the woods before the orange army comes in.

There are trail cam pics being posted with spike horns or crotch horns with a note about the likelihood of the deer being shot by the orange army.

Allow me to tell you what this proud member does when she puts on her orange.  She is looking for food to feed her family.  She proudly carries her rifle into the woods and knows that with one well placed shot, she can drop a deer dead in its tracks.  She is able to put on that orange and spend time with her Dad in the woods.  She can sit in the stands that they built and watch fawns and their mothers interact.  She is a hunter and proud of it.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Love that fawn


This is how hunting is supposed to be! Cold in the morning with a solid front on the ground.  Noisy but not enough to give your cover away. And sun. I love the sun.

I sat in the Sky Condo, Hubby was in T3 and Dad decided that since time is ticking, he would walk.  The plan was for him to walk the piece by T3 in hopes of jumping something towards Hubby.  Then, the guys would head my way and split up.  Dad would head east and loop around to my treeseat.  Hubby would make a loop west then swing east and come out at my treeseat.  When I saw Hubby at the foot plot, I was supposed to head immediately to my treeseat.  I was excited about this plan because I had not sat in my treeseat all season and I missed being more outside and exposed than in the bigger stands.


There was a little windy but nothing that would keep the sound of steps hidden.  I bleated the minute I could see color.  I waited a few minutes and bleated again.  I heard a bleat back! Was it another hunter trying to lure me in? Do does call back and forth to one another? I knew that there was a stand on the nearby property that may have hunters in it, but I couldnt believe that they could hear me.  But maybe.  I paused and waited and listed.  I heard a snap and my heart raced.  I heard crunching.  Things were moving this morning.  I couldn't see any movement in the treeline.  I rattled the antlers and waited.  When I rattled a second time, Hubby popped out of the woods! ha!

I called him over as I climbed down to told him that I was hearing movement and that there were either hunters nearby or a doe because something called back to me. He nodded and we split off.

I was 20 yards through the brush when I saw the first new sign of bucks (besides these pictures.) A new scrape! Finally!  But as I walked along the old snowmobile trail, I saw new rubs.  I checked a certain spot that is known for having rubs but there was nothing there.  Instead, there was a larger rub on a tree at an intersection between our own hunting paths. This buck was hanging out exactly where we were.  We have to run into him at some point, right?

Frosty buck scrape


These were not there last week.  I was excited as I made my way through the trees and into my treeseat. It was leaning forward a little but with a quick adjustment to the seat, I was comfy and ready for the deer to show up.

Almost five minutes after I sat down, I heard noise coming from my right; where Dad was going to be walking through.  I saw a deer bounce through the end of the shooting lane.  It wasn't running like it was being chased, just that it needed to get away from something that annoyed it. Probably Dad.  I lifted the gun and pointed it at an opening directly in front of me where I hoped the deer would come out. I saw it bounce into the woods and didn't get a good look at it.  If I had to guess, it was a doe.  I dug into my coat for the doe bleat and called once.  I tucked it back into my jacket and listened.  Minutes later, I heard a crash behind me.  I swung around to my left and got my gun ready.  A doe jumped out of the thick, swampy grass.  It was the fawn! She was small and let's be honest, adorable! I froze where I was and watched her without moving my body, just slowing turning my head.  She was maybe 20 feet from my stand. She walked at me and was totally unaware that I was there.  She walked in front of my stand, maybe 10 feet away at this point, and lifted her head to smell the air.  If she smelt me, she never let on because she started walking towards the ladder of my stand.  I didn't move.  I heard crunching behind me and assumed that it was her mom.  I heard more crunching to my left and wondered if it was the deer that Dad had jumped that circled back.  Maybe it was a buck.  I knew that I couldn't move and alarm them.

The fawn turned away from me and jumped once into some young tree growth.  I couldn't hear or see the mom so I continued to not move. The fawn walked between the new growth and a patch of hardwoods, without a worry at all.  She finally disappeared into the woods in the same spot as the deer earlier in the morning.  Now, where was the mom? I waited a few more minutes and never heard anything.  I slowly turned my head and then my body.  There was no deer there. Hmmm.

 Pretty soon, I saw Dad walking through the trees.  I had been in the stand for a little over an hour and didn't want to leave.  There was too many action happening.  Dad said that he had jumped a couple of deer but that they had run directly away from him when he was hoping that they would head my way. I told him that I wanted to sit a little longer and would walk about in 30 minutes.  Twenty minutes later, Hubby appeared and said he would make another swing in the direction that the does had run. I knew then that there were no deer nearby.  We were probably pushing them down towards the Sky Condo.  When Hubby was out of sight, I climbed down and headed for the roadway to meet back up with him and Dad.

I may not have seen a shootable deer, but I love that fawn and watching her explore the woods.  From the playful photos of her at the Sky Condo with her new spots to slowly being more independent and not staying as close to mom as she once did, it is wonderful to watch a deer grow.  This is what anti-hunters just don't understand.  I could have shot her (or her mom) as soon as I saw them.  But, I would much rather watch them grow and continue to keep the deer herb that we have healthy and growing because there is nothing cooler than being that close to a deer when they don't know that you are there.

Now... it's the last weekend.  Let's hope one of those big bucks crossed our path!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Biggest buck ever!

I had called Dad mid-week to check in and he told me that we had a big buck by the Sky Condo


One of the 8's? I eagerly asked

No. Bigger

If I could have driven up that night, I would have.  But I had to wait until Friday to put the memory cards into the computer and look at what Dad was talking about.  This is, BY FAR, the thickest deer we have ever seen on the camera.  He is clearly all rutted up because he has no neck!  It also looks like his E2 is broken on his right side.  He was on the camera a handful of times over the past week.

I am ready to put in some time Wed, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in hopes that one of us will get a crack at this big guy. 






Monday, November 23, 2015

New week, same wind

Week two of deer season started the same way that week one ended: lots of wind!

Looking NE from T3
Hubby was hunting with his Dad so it was Dad and I to tackle the woods and we got up early and headed out.  I started in T3 and Dad took to the Sky Condo.  It was cold.  It was windy.  I could have had a deer walk up on me and I don't know if I would have heard it.  We did our best so sit it out, but at 9:30, I headed up to get Dad.   As I did, I ran into the neighbor who was driving out of his hunting camp.  After a few comments, they said that they had shot a nice 9 pointer earlier.  My nine pointer! I had weighted in at 170lbs and they had taken him in the same area as T3. Crap!  I congratulated them and trudged to the Sky Condo. 

We headed in for an early lunch and to warm up.  Then, we mixed things up.  We headed over to the mountain and I sat near the truck while Dad walked a small ridge to see if he could jump something towards me.  He said that I could sit in the truck but I refused: I could be cold too, plus if a deer did come, I needed to be outside.  I found a large boulder and perched myself up there.

My view into the chopping on my right.
Watching Dad walk up the ridge.  I love hunting with him!
I shot my first deer on this property but it has changed a lot with Dad cutting it so I sat and listened to the wind whip my orange vest.  The birds and squirrels had taken shelter somewhere else but it was a great spot and if it wasn't so far into the woods, it would be great to have a treeseat there.

My thoughts were broken up by a commotion on the ridge to my left.  A doe was running down the hill.  I lifted my gun and situated it between a couple of trees that were in front of me. The doe stopped on the backside of a knoll on the edge of the dirt road.  If she would just take one more step into the road, I could drop her right there.  I could see the top of her back and ears. She went from standing completely still to full on leaping across the road and running around the end of the chopping.  I could just see her tail as she disappeared into the trees. At least I saw a deer!  Dad was happy to.  It meant that deer were at least in the area.

Even though it was still windy, we decided to head back to the Sky Condo for the evening sit.  Dad would sit with me, which was fun and something I don't think we have done since Hubby started hunting with us.  The wind died down a little and I could hear something off to my right.

At first, I thought it was a coyote because it seems big and dark but then, I knew it was something even worst.  A damn turkey.  We had gone months without seeing them or even signs of them but here they were... nine of them walked from the old snowmobile trail, down through the woods and into the field by the Sky Condo.  The whole time we could hear chirping, clucking and an occasional gobble. The first five were either toms or jakes.


Annoyed, I sat there and waited for the light to fade and the day to end. 

We heard some snapping coming from where the turkeys went into the woods. I couldnt see anything but Dad leaned towards me and whispered little one. The fawn! We have watched this fawn and doe all summer on the trail camera. 

Dad and I sat motionless as the fawn came out of the woods and walked in front of the Sky Condo. She paused, smelled the air then turned and walked right down the road next to us.  If she had looked up, she could have seem my entire side profile.  She continued to sniff the air when we heard and then saw the doe come to the edge of the woodline and pause.  I had said from the very beginning that I would not shoot that doe because she had the fawn with her and we need breeders on the property. 

Seeing her mom there, the fawn jumped back to her and started nursing! yes, nursing! We couldn't imagine that the doe would allow the fawn to nurse as opposed to weening her off but we watched them for a few minutes before the doe walked off into the field.  There was no buck following the doe so we made the assumption that does who are nursing won't go into estrus or go very late.  If any of you have any ideas about this, please leave a comment!

The doe and fawn ate some grass and then headed back into the woods on the same trail that the turkeys has used 45 minutes before.  It was dark enough now that we could not see them once they passed through a second shooting lane and we did not want to jump them if they circled back to the grass, so we got down from the Sky Condo and headed for home. 

We didn't bring any meat out with us but watching the turkeys and the deer were pretty exciting!

 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oh the wind!

After checking the cameras last week and seeing that coyote, we picked our spots and headed out early to get ahead of the deer. The time change made it hard to wake up so early! but we trudged through the woods and found our spots: me in the Sky Condo, Hubby in T3 and Dad in the nearby tree seat. Dad was fighting a cold so he decided to sit all morning and leave it to us to come get him when we were ready.

The view from the Sky Condo
I had the grunt, a bleat and a set of antlers with me but I wasnt sure how early to start calling.  The wind kept me from hearing anything moving around.  Even watching was hard because those beech leaves look a lot like a tail moving when you catch it out of the corner of your eye.

I used the grunt.  I waited and tried the bleat.  I rattled.  Nothing.

I got a text from Hubby a little before 8 that he would walk up to me in a little bit.  That was followed by a text saying that two does were walking straight AT him, up one of the new shooting lanes. He was on watch for a buck.  The does walked right next to T3, unaware that Hubby was sitting there. They were on a mission though and headed my way!

I never saw them.  Hubby walked up and we split up to make two large circles ending up where Dad was sitting.  This was the first time that I was still hunting this season.

Down the old skidder trail 
Sporting my new Prois Sherpa Vest and hat.
I didn't jump a deer or see anything besides some coyote poop.  I also noticed that where we normally see scrapes and rubs, there was nothing. It was as though the bucks completely left the area.  I made my loop and got within 50 feet of Dad before he saw me. The wind kept the leaves moving, branches swaying and the deer bedded.

Hubby reported sighting of two does and Dad reported two hunters walking up, almost to him, before they realized someone was sitting there and turned around.  Seriously! We have permission to be on that piece of land plus it abuts our own land.  What is with people thinking that they can do anywhere they want?!?!

After lunch, we went over to the mountain and sat for a few hours.  It was peaceful (aside from the wind) to be back where it had all started; the first tree house and where I shot my first deer.

Looking up the mountain from the tree house
The guys walked around a bit as I sat and watched.  They came and got me early because they couldnt hear or see anything and there were no signs of deer anywhere around.

We probably shouldnt have (we will see when we look at the trail camera pics tonight) but we called it a day early.  There was no point in trying to stay out late when nothing as moving and even if it was, you couldnt hear it.

So, another weekend in the books and now, it is starting to get into crunch time.  This weekend is supposed to be windy as well with a cold front moving in.  Maybe that will get the deer moving and feeding a little more.  I am hoping that when I check the trail cameras today, there is more movement on them!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bring it on Wile E.

I hate coyotes.  They just freak me out especially when you can hear them but not see them.  On opening day of the 2015 deer season, we heard one howling especially close to where we were headed.  Over the summer, there had been a trail camera photo here or there but it had been quiet until that morning.

Then, Dad handed my the memory cards to review before we went into the woods last weekend.

As if gloating, here are a few highlights:





He actually lays down!  All in all, he spent about one hour in front of this camera.  He was on the camera more than any other bucks were and I am sure the does are not happy about this.

I talked to a friend of mine who traps and he has offered me a couple of his traps to see if I can get this guy and help the deer herd.  He is the reason that I won't sure the doe with the fawn - I need to keep the good moms around so more fawns can survive.

We will see how this goes, but between trapping and maybe some night hunting... this guy is now on my hit list.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday Visitor

We can not hunt in Maine on Sundays but that doesnt mean we can not enjoy the wildlife!  This doe was enjoying the grass when we caught a glimpse of her.  Maybe that means there is a buck or two around.







Friday, November 6, 2015

My bear is home!

Lori let me know last week that my bear was done and I could come get him!  When we dropped him off a year ago, there were a lot of problems, namely his head being cut in half.  But, when all was said and done Jim and Lori did the following:

1. Piece the skull back together.

2. Remove the bald patch in the center of his back that the bear got when he was being hauled off the mountain.

3. All paws were removed and turned 180 degrees because the pelt was not cut right when it was butchered.

4. Flaps of skin above his shoulders were removed and sewn back onto his sides were they belonged.

5. All of the normal taxidermy stuff like preparing and working with the pelt, getting the fake head to go into the rug and felting the bottom.

Needless to say, they went WAY above and beyond in order for me to have a quality rug from my remarkable hunt.   I don't care where you are in Maine, if you can get there, go to New Frontier Taxidermy and get your animals done right.  If I have to strap my animals down and drive for hours to get there, I will.  I will never go anywhere else!

Here is my beautiful Maine Black Bear rug!

He is huge!

Look at those eyes and those awesome scars

So, how big is this rug?  I stretched out on it just to show you =)





Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Deer Season 2015

We kicked off the new season on Saturday and it could not have been a better morning.  The moon was out, the stars were bright and there was just a slight chill in the air.  It was 24 degrees.

After last year's last minute switch in sitting spots and my success, I let Hubby pick where he wanted to sit.  He wanted the Sky Condo and I took T3.  As the three of us walked along the path into the woods, the silence was broken by a single howl. It was loud and close.

Sound travels Dad said but we all knew that the coyote was close.  He was probably in the woods between us and T3. Luckily, it was just one coyote (only one was howling.)  We split from Hubby and headed directly towards T3 as another howl came.  We were walking directly towards the coyote. I kept thinking about the deer and how they were probably moving away from the coyote and further away from us and T3.  As we came to a field, the coyote howled again but he was further away at the other end of the field. I felt a little better.

I climbed into T3 and flashed my headlamp at Dad.  He walked back out to his normal spot and left me alone listening and watching more light creep into the woods.

Looking out from T3
Looking out from T3
This is the same location as I sat last year only now with a permanent structure, I was further into the woods and had more shooting lanes than grassy openings.  I scanned back and forth looking for movement. Even the squirrels seemed to still be asleep.

There were some early shots with one sounding kind of close (maybe someone shot that coyote) but no movement.  A half hour after the shots, I heard a noise behind me. I leaned around onto my sun porch but couldnt see anything. I turned back around and heard blowing and shorting. The wind direction was in my favor so I didnt think that the deer had smelt me from 16 feet up in the trees but something didnt smell right to this deer.  He snorted a few times and was gone. He never stepped out, never walked through any of my hunting lanes... just disappeared.

I have written that I love hearing geese in the nearby fields and without fail, a huge flock of geese flew right over me.  They were so close that I could hear the beating of their wings and the soft noises that they made to one another.  It was hunting season!

It was also Halloween and with a two year old, there are obligations that one must follow.  I had to leave the stand and be back at the truck by 10.  I also got to pick up my bear rug! So, after running errands and the noontime trick-or-treat route, the kiddo was napping and we headed back into the woods.

Hubby chose to walk, Dad went to T3 and I sat in the Sky Condo.

Still great color!


It was warm enough that I didnt need my wool jacket or gloves.  I sat and enjoyed the afternoon, the colors and the gratefulness that I have for being able to hunt with my family.  It was a perfect hunting day!

We met back at the car at 6pm.  Dad had also heard a deer blowing behind T3 but he couldnt see it. Hubby had jumped some does and had one stand her ground and yell at him while stomping her leg. I enjoyed the quiet.

This weekend, we will be out again and trying to get one of those big bucks on the ground!


Monday, November 2, 2015

The Right to Hunt

I recently wrote an article for The Liberty Project on the right to hunt and the legislative bill in Wisconsin that would prohibit people (anti-hunters) from harassing hunters on public land.

Check out the article here and let me know what your thoughts are!