Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Finally! it's the rut

All over social media, there were posts about the rut; has it started in your area? have you seen any chasing? how do you know? what's the moon phase?  As much as I would have loved to have had some concrete answer to those questions, I had never seen proof that the rut was on.  Until that second week in November.

Hubs was out hunting on the 10th and I was in charge of the kids and making our way up to my parent's house to hunt on the 11th.  It was windy and cold and I had opted to stay in and not hunt that evening, but wait until the next day. 

I was holding the baby and watching the leaves blow across the lawn when I saw a doe emerge from the bushes around the pond (see down pointing arrow.)  She paused and then ran across the lawn, tail down.  I assumed that she wanted to get back into cover with the weather being what it was.  Seconds behind her was another deer.  I assumed that it was her fawn from the spring, until I saw the shine of small antlers.  It was a buck chasing a doe!  I had never seen anything like it.  The two of them ran across the lawn and disappeared into the tall grass closer to the house (right pointing arrow)



Dad was outside when all of this happened and hadn't see any of it.  I was explaining what I had just seen when we both looked back at the pond.  Another deer was coming out of the grass... another buck... with HUGE antlers.  Someone yelled, 'get the gun!' It might have been me... I was still holding the baby, so I promptly placed her on the floor in the living room and ran back to the door.  I flung the door open, leaving the open screen door between me and the buck.  He had tall antlers and they were well beyond his ears.  This was the biggest live deer I had ever seen.   He had his head down and was following the path of the doe and smaller buck. 

I yelled at time through the screen and tried anything I could to delay him so that Dad could get the gun and I could step outside and take a shot.  He didn't hear me, or if he did, he didn't care.  He was gone before I could get the gun in my hands. 

It was the first time that I had seen the rut "in action" with not one but two bucks chasing one doe.  I would have LOVED to have been able to drop a huge buck right on the lawn, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Still, it was an incredible experience!  and another reason why deer hunting is so much fun; you never know what could happen and when.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The end of the Sky Condo

As I climbed into the Sky Condo to start the 2017 hunting season, the top step broke off from the tree sending a chuck of wood to the ground and leaving the bulk of the rung hanging down to the next step. I lifted my gun off my shoulder and slid it onto the floor of the Sky Condo and them threw my backpack up.  I got myself into the stand and looked down at the damage.  We were going to have to replace a few rungs before the following week.  And my silent entry into the woods was anything but.


I sat there for a couple of hours and then headed for my stand in the woods to see if anything was walking through. 


I was cautious walking in and looked for any sign of brown.  I made it around the corner when I heard that tell-tale sound of a deer blowing.  I watched as two flags ran from under my stand, away from me and into the ticker woods.  My cover was blown but I had hoped that the deer would head towards the stand that Hubs was in since he had a doe permit.  No such luck.

I sat in my stand for a few hours and then Hubs and Dad showed up to get me and head out of the woods for lunch (this was two days before this happened)  We didn't stay out long and made a plan for the rest of the night.  I was heading back to the Sky Condo to sit and asked Hubs to walk me back in to make sure that  I was all set getting back up, given the broken rung. 

I made it three or four rungs up when another one broke beneath me.  I lowered myself back to the ground and headed over to Hub's ground blind to wait out the rest of the night.  Nothing was moving and I was out of my comfort zone being on the ground.

I walked out at the end of legal hours and closed out the first day of the rifle season with seeing two deer butts running away from me...but at least I saw deer!


We decided that night that this is the last season of the Sky Condo as we know it.  There will be a bigger and better Sky Condo for the 2018 season. Stay tuned for that!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The competition is on!

If you do not follow me on Facebook, then you don't know that Dad totally schooled us in how to shoot a big buck.  Did some scouting, brought his gun, right place, right time, incredible buck! (Mom's flip phone doesn't take great pictures)


So, that leaves Hubs (who has a doe permit) and I (who does not) to attempt to get a shot at one of these big bucks!  The competition is on!










Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Maine's youngest fisherwoman

How do you create outdoor kids?  You have them grow up experiencing outdoor adventures like it is a normal part of life.

Over the summer, as I was on maternity leave, I was determined not to let the nice weather slip away without getting some fun, outdoor adventures in.  Staci from MyMainelyGirlAdventures took me to one of her favorite fishing spots.  I loaded up the baby, my waders (which I fit back into!) and into the water we went.



We didn't catch any fish, but we did have a few bites.  I had the most action on my fly line that I have ever had!  Could have been the flies we put on or, maybe, this baby will be my good luck charm!

The weather was perfect and we got to enjoy a few hours in the water wetting our lines and catching up.  What better way to enjoy my maternity leave?

Friday, September 1, 2017

An increase in trespassing


Trail cameras are addicting. You buy one, get some pictures then decide that you should have another one at a certain intersection and the next thing you know, you are like us and have almost 10 out in the woods, trying to pattern your deer.  That excitement of pulling those memory cards quickly vanishes when you see things that don’t belong on your property. 


In the past couple of months, we have had lots of activity on the trail cameras; a car driving around in the newly planted clover and a man walking through a highly traveled deer intersection.  Both men had to make an effort to get where they were; this was not just an 'oops, I took a wrong turn.'  We had posted signs up already and clearly that was not enough of a deterrent to keep them away. This is when it pays to be friends with police officers.  I sent pictures of the car to a friend, who came back within minutes with the name of the car's owner.  I did the same thing with the pictures of the blonde man, baseball hat on backwards and watch on his left wrist.  Thanks to trail cameras, there are eyes in the woods even when you are not there.  As a result in this increase, we have started putting cameras out for our cameras just in case someone tries to steal the camera (or the memory card) that has their picture on it.  It is easy to hide a camera when its sole purpose is to keep another camera safe.

It is also disappointing.  It used to be that you could trust people to respect your land and their lack of access to it.  People would communicate with the landowner if they wanted to be on the land to hunt, fish, trap and/or forage.  There was a mutual understand and respect for the owner, user and land itself.  I remember hunters coming to the door and talking to Dad about hunting on our property a month before the deer season was scheduled to start.  Dad would sign their landowner permission slip and ask them to hunt in a certain region of the land and not to use four wheelers.  Everyone was happy and followed the agreed upon rules.  That is clearly not the case anymore.  I understand why more land is being posted.  Within hours of seeing the car on our trail cam photos, I added more posted signs to our property

So what happened? Why the lack of respect for landowners? and when did trespassing become a new norm?  Across the country, there is discussion around protecting public land for hunters to use.  Here in Maine, more than 95% of our land is privately owned (Maine.gov.) That is a lot of land to lose access to if trespassing continues to increase and landowners begin or continue to post their land.  A few bad apples could ruin it for everyone, so it is up to us to discourage it, report it and work to keep hunting lands available.



Friday, August 25, 2017

The most exciting hunt, you're not going on


I blame my friend Steve.  I cautiously agreed to go with him and learn how to hunt them so that I could have some first-hand experience when I write.  I would have never guessed that in agreeing to go with him, I would now look at August in a whole new way; it’s bear season!

There are roughly 10,000 of us who buy our bear permits every year.  Compared to the 180,000+ deer hunters and we basically have the woods to ourselves to hunt bear. Guess what non-bear hunters?  You are missing out on one of the most exciting hunts you could possibly go on! And that should change. 


 Why would you want to hunt bears? Easiest reason is management and keeping the population in check with the biological and social carrying capacities across our state.  None of us want to see bears or any animal, reach the point where disease and over-population cause major issues. Hunting helps to put a dent in a growing bear population and with no other predators, it’s either us or disease to keep the population numbers where they need to be.

The second reason: the meat.  Oh, bear meat! If you just made a face reading this, it’s because when you had it, it was not cooked properly.  There are so many great dishes to cook and various ways to prepare the meat. I would be happy to share a couple easy recipes or check out my friend Robin Follette and get a bunch of great recipes from her.  A well-cooked piece of bear meat will rival any cut of beef as long as you know how to cook it.

The third season: the hunt. The most exciting part.  I have sat over bait, helped set up a trap (I am a licensed trapper) and hunted using hounds. The thrill of not knowing if there is a bear watching you is unlike any other hunt.  Deer will watch you and then leave if they don’t like what they see or smell.  A bear can and will, wait you out and when you walk out at the end of legal hunting hours that bear will walk right in to the bait site and enjoy.  Thanks to trail cameras, you can figure out each bear’s habits, which direction they travel to the bait site from and if they come at a certain time.  Smaller bears will come in earlier to grab-and-go before the larger ones show up.  Hunting with dogs offers a completely different adrenaline rush and you’re listening and watching the dogs, guide (probably) and looking ahead at or for the bear.  There is no guarantee that you will even see a bear while you are out hunting but knowing that they are around and could step out at any time, keeps you on your toes.

I encourage everyone to try bear hunting once.  There are incredible guides across Maine that have the knowledge and experience to help get you started and see what it’s all about.  Or, like I did, tag along with a friend who bear hunts and find out what you’ve been missing. You won’t be sorry that you did!





Friday, August 18, 2017

Do targets really matter?



I visualize my shot every time I am in the woods.  Each spot offers different opportunities and different entry points where deer/bear/turkey typically travel. I picture the animals walking in from each side and how I can move (or not) to get the most effective shot off without blowing my cover. As someone who needs to be hunting from a blind and am usually in a tree, this helps to alleviate some of the adrenaline gitters that can creep in when an animal actually appears.

Prior to each hunting season, we spend time sighting in our guns and bows and have shot at many different targets throughout the years.  Rifles are probably the easiest; we aim at either circles drawn on a piece of paper or an old plastic jug.  They are larger targets but if we are able to group our shots and come close to whatever bullseye that we are aiming at, then we know that the rifles are good to go. A few years ago, Dad and I sat at the kitchen table and used a stuffed Rudolph the Red –Nose Reindeer that I had to go over shot placement based on where the deer may be coming into my shooting lane and where I could and should not shoot. It is an algebra equation really; if the animal comes in at “X” angle, then your placement needs to be “Y” in order to end up with a dead animal.

When Dad and I got ready for our first turkey hunt, Dad drew the neck and head of a turkey on a piece of paper and we aimed at that; the goal being to visualize where on the turkey to place that bead in order to get the tightest grouping and make the biggest impact.  This helped us figure out the spread and yardage for each shot.

As Hubs and I get into bow hunting, we have square targets, one large and one small, and a 3D deer target to work with and improve our accuracy. I like the 3D target better as it helps me visualize where on the deer to be aiming based on distance and how high I am in the tree.  For him, it doesn’t matter what he is shooting at, as long as his grouping is where he wants it to be consistently.

So do targets really matter?  Is the 3D target really any better than the circle we draw on a piece of paper or a stuffed animal? Are they more important for visualizing shot placement or are they better for sighting in your weapon? Or both? Regardless of which ones you use, they will hopefully help with the end result and lead you to have a successful hunt.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Are you my father?

I am not sure if the target in the backyard has made the deer around here more relaxed or not, but for this fawn, it wasn't sure what to make of this thing that looks like a deer but doesn't move.  If this target can fool these deer, I am wondering if we could use it as a decoy during hunting season... that is something that I will need to research!

Either way, the doe and the fawn both look incredibly healthy!  Always a good sign for the deer herd.