Tuesday, December 22, 2015

New year, new plan: Mission big buck

There is no snow on the ground and the temperatures have been in the 50s instead of the teens or 20s.  As a result, our deer herd is having a great time getting lots of food without the worry of snow, freezing temps or that coyote that is (still) around.

Dad still has the trail cameras out and we are getting some encouraging pictures.  I didn't bother copying the ones of the coyote, but he is still around and solo.

But these are always good to see and it means that we will need to change things up for next season if we are going to outwit this deer.  I believe he is about 3.5 or 4.5 years old and knows how to avoid hunters.

I can NOT get over the size of his neck!




And the next generation of big bucks:


From the side, his antlers looked like they are slicked back instead of standing upright.  Hopefully he makes it through the winter.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

New year, new goals

I must admit, I was surprised when I went back to reread my 2015 goal list and found that the majority of those things, I did!  Quick recap: I shot a coyote, caught fish that I could keep, went bear hunting and to a den to tag bear cubs.  I got my trapping license and I now own two fly rods that my uncle’s father used to fish with.   As I write this, deer season is not over, so I am not going to comment on either or not I finally caught up with that elusive 8 pointer.  You can check out my blog for the answer to that one.  

It was those birds that got me.  I didn’t go goose hunting, but I still want to.  I did go turkey hunting in the spring and fall and I have yet to bring one home.  Maybe I am just not meant to hunt birds and right now I am ok with that!

As I think about how I want to grow as an outdoors woman, I need to come up with a new more things to do and try in 2016.  Here is my list in no particular order:

* Catch a fish while fly fishing
* Get a bow (see previous post)
* Shoot a moose (this is a permanent item on the list until I can make it happen)
* Go trapping and set my own trap(s)
Shoot and/or trap a bear
* Shoot a turkey (at some point, I have to be able to get one, right?)
* Learn to forage for edible mushrooms
* Continue to work with amazing women as we get more girls and women outdoors
* Find a deer shed in the spring.
?? – What suggestions do you have for something that I should try?  Email me your suggestions.


I have no doubt that 2016 will have some fun adventures in store and I am eager to get outside and start exploring.  From the woods to the streams and fields, I am eager to try out new gear, hunt new animals and continue to provide food for my family.  Hopefully, you have some great outdoor goals too! Here is to a great new year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

To bow or not to bow

Mentally, I am not ready to hunt with a bow.  I am confident in my rifle to know that I can drop a deer dead in its tracks.  I have seen the damage that my 150 (or 180) grain bullet can do to the inside of a deer and I am comfortable with that because I know that the deer did not know what hit it when I squeeze the trigger.

Maybe that sort of shot is possible with a bow but from what I have seen on tv and with other hunters posting on social media, it is more likely that the deer will run off and die, assuming that it is a good shot. I have also seen far more bow hunters talk and post about how they have lost a deer than my fellow rifle hunters.  That is the last thing I want to happen!

After this season and talking with Dad about all of the deer he started seeing when rifle season ended, and he was out muzzleloading, it made me really think about getting a bow and trying to get into the woods before everyone else does (including me) with their rifles.

If I make archery my 2016 goal, I will probably not be ready to hunt until 2017.  There would be a lot of work involved in getting the gear, getting into shape and preparing for a good, close shot.

So for all of you out there who are reading this, leave a comment or email me.  Do you bow hunt? What kind of bow do you use? is there any equipment that I need? dont need?






Saturday, December 12, 2015

The end of deer season is for the birds

The last few days of hunting season were eventful in the wrong ways.  

Just to the right of the stick is a deer track in the leaves. 

In order for my mom to prepare and cook what she needed to for Thanksgiving dinner, I stayed home to watch O while Dad and Hubby went out for a few hours. In the afternoon, Hubby stayed home while O took a nap and Dad and I went out.  The woods were quiet and calm. We didn't even see a squirrel. 

Thanksgiving night, O got sick; throwing up sick, which for a two year old is a scary thing. We made the decision to not hunt on Friday morning in case he still didnt feel good.  I have been criticized in the past by readers who think that in order to be a good, qualified hunter, you need to prioritize hunting above all else. I willingly stayed home to take care of my son.  No rack of antlers is worth the comfort of your kid. None. It might make me a 'bad' hunter but it also makes me a great mom. 

Friday afternoon, with O down for his nap, we headed out for the afternoon sit. There were fresh tracks and we knew that the deer had been around but still no action in daylight hours. 


There were fresh scrapes and rubs along the usual paths.  Those bucks were all around is and it was almost impressive that we had made it almost the entire season without seeing a single buck walking around.  Even for Dad and Hubby who walk more than they sit, the only thing that they jumped were does. 

On Saturday morning, we took to our usual spots.  Hubby in T3, me in the Sky Condo and Dad somewhere in between and walking when it got bright enough. 

At 8:30, I checked my phone and had received a text from Hubby hours before.  He had just gotten into T3 when an owl flew down and landed on the railing in front of him.  Its wings had been so wide that they came inside as it landed. Hubby jumped in surprise of the visitor and realizing that he wasn't the size of a meal, the owl had flown off to a nearby tree.  We have seen owls before while we are out hunting but this was the closest any of us have been to one.  

Before lunch, we headed over to the mountain to see if we could jump a doe like Dad had done for me a few weeks before. 


I stood in the back of the truck and watched and listened.  I reminded myself of the moose hunters that Dad and I had seen years before, who just drove the roads looking for a moose.  It was a little windy but nothing compared to the previous weeks.  It was a lot quieter than the area by the Sky Condo and it was nice to hear the quiet. 

For the past three years, there has been a bird that follows my Dad when he comes along this roadway.  If she can hear the truck, she comes to say hi.  The week before when Dad was there working, she flew beside his truck as he was leaving.  We had not seen her when we drove in, but as we headed out of the woods for home, she came to say hello.  Dad has named her Henrietta. 




She walked beside the truck as we slowly crept down the road.  When Dad sped up to leave, Henrietta put her head down and started running to catch up.  Dad slowed back down and she came back over to the truck. and looked at Dad.  Our hunger won out and we left her there in the woods but I am sure we will see her again soon. 

The guys had their cool bird stories to tell and I had nothing.  I hadn't seen or heard much of anything while I had been sitting all morning. 

The afternoon would be our last attempt at the 2015 deer season. And this is how my season ended: in the most cruel of ways...

Those damn turkeys! 10 of them - some with beards that reached the ground - came out of the woods and started eating the grass right below the Sky Condo.  They stayed around for probably 10 minutes before lining up and walking back into the woods.  I kept hoping that it was a good omen since the last time they came out, the doe and fawn followed later.  But nothing came. 

We ended the day by each having a run in with a different bird(s) but no deer.  Dad is still muzzle loading but with the warm temperatures and rain, it has not been an idea hunting season. 

So, now we prepare for 2016!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Reflecting on 2015

2015 has been a whirlwind of a year and I have an empty freezer to show for it.  It is funny how different it was from 2014 and yet I enjoyed every moment that I was able to be outside.

I went turkey hunting a few times in the spring and once in the fall and it wasn't until deer season that I started to see huge flocks of them again.

I continued to bear hunt but it was made harder by the fact that my husband and I each took new job and moved about an hour north, leaving me an hour further away from my bear hunting spots.

I shot a coyote in 2015 which in some ways has helped me think about and be ready to conquer some of my outdoor fears.  I hate coyotes but looking at that pelt on my wall, it proves that I can face my fears and be willing to try new adventures.

Which leads me to my trapping license.  I am excited that I am now (on paper) a Maine trapper and I really want to at least set a trap and see what happens this season but with the season ending on most animals Dec 31, I may need to just start getting equipment and prep.

I got more fishing equipment this year so that come the April 1 season opener, I should be ready with my own gear instead of other people's borrowed gear!  Now, to see about landing a fish with my new-to-me fly rods.

And one of the coolest things that I think I did this year was join EvoOutdoors and the incredible group of people who are helping to promote awesome outdoor activities and top notch gear for everyone. THIS is what hunting, fishing, trapping and the outdoors is all about: a community of people supporting one another in every way imaginable.

Then, there are all of you!  From your comments here, posts on our Facebook page and your emails of support I thank you all for brightening my day and supporting me in my outdoor adventures,  I hope that you enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed writing about them.

I have a few incredible things planned for 2016 that I am anxious to share with you , but until then... Thank you!!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

125 Christmas Trees later

A friend of ours grows Christmas trees on his 55 acres and this year, we were able to come up and help him and his others friends and family as they cut, wrapped and stacked 125 trees headed to Mass for people to put up in their homes.  It was great to see the whole process and be outside with friends.

Look at all of the trees!
Safety first: wearing our orange

It is strategic when you get 125 trees of different sized stacked together

Done and ready to roll South

We were not planning on it, but we ended up taking a tree home ourselves. It was a lot bigger than I thought it was when it was in the field but it looks great at the house.  That photo will be later on. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Switching seasons and heading to Robin's

Windmills along Route 6
I took a day off from work to drive east and hang out with Robin.  We were making Christmas wreaths, or as I told Hubby when I hung it up, it is my hunting wreath.  Any time that I can spend at Robin's is fun and I am always learning from her.

On this day, I learned how to tip trees to make wreaths.  She showed me what to look for when taking a branch and I as I looked around, I would grab maybe one or two pieces that I thought were good only to have her come behind me and grab about 20 more. She has an eye for these things and she makes a lot of them.  I was more excited about getting pitch on me and smelling that... woodsy, sweet and wonderful.  

The air was cool and we were joined by a writing friend names Maureen.  It was fun spending time in the woods and swapping stories about hunts, animal interactions and family. 

Almost enough for three wreaths.



Robin made us some delicious chicken soup and homemade bread that tasted even better than then smelled.  We spent the afternoon making wreaths and chatting more about hunting plans and what's in store for us next year. 


And here is my wreath.  The photo is a little dark but that is a deer ornament in there, along with some pine cones and white birch bark.  I have plans to let it hang up on the front door until it either turns brown or falls off the door.