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Showing posts from 2019

Dropping antlers

The plan was to shoot does from the property.  The only out was the big buck that we had been tracking.  Hubs was the first who successfully shot a doe in the afternoon of opening day of rifle season.  Having sat through almost all types of weather conditions and some single digit temps, I shot a doe minutes before legal time at the end of the season.

Dad decided to muzzle hunt since the woods would be quieter and maybe that buck would be lulled into a false sense of security.  For two weeks, Dad walked through the woods and finally, in the same the spot that I had shot my deer, he saw a big, healthy looking doe.  As the afternoon light was fading, he made his way over to the deer.

There was some relief as he evaluated the animal.  We were again fortunate that we filled all of our tags and our freezer would be willed with venison for the year ahead.

Dad set his jacket and gun down and prepared himself to gut the deer.  It was not a doe.  Although grateful for the meat, Dad had been se…

Wrapping up my big buck hunt

The 4th weekend of deer season was a bust as I had to take my kiddo to a birthday party for a classmate.  I (half) jokingly told him that from now on, when he meets a new friend, he needs to ask them when their birthday is and if it is during hunting season, he can't be friends with them.

Week 5 had me in the woods for up to 5 days.  I headed in on Tuesday afternoon and sat but nothing was moving. The big buck had started showing up only at 10:30pm or 3am on the cameras.  He had not been seen during the day since the third week of the season.


On Wednesday, Dad and I planned to be in the woods for the full day.  We packed sandwiches and snacks and headed into the woods.  We had a strategic plan for which areas we would hunt and where I could be and where Dad would be.  Dad ended up jumped a few deer and I jumped one as a moved from stand to stand.  No shots were fired though and we planned for Thanksgiving morning and the snow that was moving in.



The next morning was cold and the s…

Some tracking snow

Week three in the woods offered up a change of pace: fresh snow!

I wasn't in my stand for more than a couple of hours when I saw movement off to my left.  It was a doe.  Her head was down and she was smelling something.  I watched her slowly walk down the same road that I had taken in.  She rounded the corner to face the stand and stopped.  She lifted her head and looked in my direction.  She didn't seem nervous but she wasn't sure if she wanted to keep going.  After a minute or so, she turned and headed into the woods.  I crossed my fingers that the big buck would be following her.  And there was!!!  But the little spike was not the one that I was after.


When I changed stands and searched for tracks, I realized that what the doe was doing was tracking me!  She walked in almost every footprint that I made from the field into the stand.  

There was still no sign of the big buck but with the snow, we were optimistic.




Back at it - week 2

The second week was colder than the first and I was back in the stand that I had sat in the first week.  We had daytime pictures of the big buck and I wanted to make sure I was going to be ready if he came in.

The sun had barely come up over the trees when I heard footsteps.  A single doe walked along the edge of the woodline where the spikehorn had been the week before.  I watched her feed on the frosted grass and paw for some acorns.  She was alone - no buck or does with her.  I watched her for ten minutes before she headed behind me into the thicker part of the woods.

I was thrilled to have seen more movement and deer.  But still, the big buck alluded me. He was showing up on our cameras but I had not been able to figure out what his pattern was or if he even had one.



Opening day in the woods

Welcome back!

Saturday kicked off Maine's rifle season for deer hunting and I made a point of sitting in my stand for the whole day.  I packed a lunch, some water and snacks and climbed up at 6am.  It was a perfect day to be in the woods.  The sun was warm, the breeze was at a minim

About an hour after legal time, this spike horn walked down the path that I had walked down.  He smelled the wind but either couldn't smell me or couldn't figure out what I was.  He wasn't spooked and he stayed around for a few minutes before continuing on his way.


I basked in the sun and kept my eyes peeled for any mid-day movement. I had three large does skirt the treeline in front of me but I let them pass so that I could continue my search for the big buck that I am after. 

Legal time ended at 5:53pm and I climbed down and met up with Dad and Hubs.  We had a beautiful doe that Hubs needed to tag and bring to the butcher.  We have fresh meat heading into the freezer.

There is snow in the…

Another bear, another amazing experience

I watched the crack in my windshield grow slightly as the heater kicked on.  It was still dark and the temperature gauge read 27 degrees.  I took a sip of coffee and exhaled; it was a perfect September morning to go bear hunting.
I met Bill Dereszewski, owner of Hollaback Guide Service at the gas station in Princeton.  We drank coffee and planned out the day as we waited for more people to join us.  Bernie was the first to arrive.  A local retired hunter who assisted Bill, his truck was filled with shortbreads and coffee to keep us filled as we chased bears.  Bill Gillespie and his pup Tawny joined the group and finally Matt Mcdonnell and a group of hunters from New York arrived.  They had been checking trail cameras photos sent to their phones to see which bait site had the most recent activity. 
The caravan of trucks headed to the chosen bait site with Bill and I the lead.  I was amazed by the technology that each truck had; large screens connected to GPS that would pinpoint where e…

Aging a buck

I am beginning to learn how to age a buck on the hoof.  It can be hard in the woods with branches and bushes blocking pieces of the animals but I want to work on it and see if it will help my patience as I wait for the bigger bucks.  
I have gotten pretty good at aging does based on their face structure and the size of their features.  I have not had the opportunity to harvest a doe, so I can't say for sure if my calculations match the actual age of the deer but I am working on it.  I have a nice, healthy heard of deer living around my house and it’s not uncommon to see an older doe with some yearlings or even fawns throughout the summer.  Their longer features means an older animal and if you are patent enough and have a few moments to study the animal, you can tell if the doe you are looking at is older or younger.
It also matters where you live. I posted a trail camera photo of a buck on the And a Strong Cup of Coffee Facebook page. We knew that the deer was at least 4.5 years ol…

Nate Webb takes over as Director of Wildlife

Nate Webb has researched and hunted animals I can only dream about; wolves, cougars, grizzlies
and even Big Horn sheep. I first met Nate when we worked on Maine’s bear management plan
for MDIFW. An avid outdoorsman, Nate is incredibly knowledgeable about all things wildlife in
Maine and beyond.

So, I was not surprised when I saw the notification that he had been named the new wildlife
director of the department. I sat down with Nate to go over some of his goals and reflect on all of
the impressive animals he has studied so far in his career.

I asked him the question “Now that you are the wildlife director, what’s on your priority
list?” and we went from there. “I want to make sure that we are working towards the broader
vision for IFW and following Judy’s direction and initiatives,” Nate started, “Obviously, we
want our staff to be well supported and get the trainings that they need so that they can be the
best at their jobs. We have a lot of people coming up for retirement so we are l…

Whitetail Rendezvous Interview 569...with ME!

I am so excited to share my interview with Bruce from Whitetail Rendezvous with you! Give it a listen and let me know what you think.  We covered a lot of different topics.

https://whitetailrendezvous.com/and-a-strong-cup-of-coffee-erin-merrill/











I couldn't wait for the big one

I threw the car into park and ran inside, peeling off layers as I went.  I traded my heels for wool pants, boots and blaze orange.  I grabbed the gun and left.  There was less than two hours of daylight remaining and a snow squall predicted for the next hour as a cold front moved in.

It was 3pm when I walked into the woods and climbed into the Sky Condo.  The big buck's tracks ran along the ridge to my right, so I turned my body to face in that direction.  I was hoping that I would catch him as he did his loop.  It seemed like a perfect night to have deer move.

I looked to my left, scanning in front of the Sky Condo.  I was startled to see three deer walking at me.  The snow on the ground made them pop out.  Two does and a buck! I could see antlers rise out and above his ears.  My heart was beating faster.  I had to get my gun up and see if this was THE buck.  The larger doe was cautious.  She looked in my direction but could not figure out what she didn't like.  The younger …

Lorri's grand slam

Some women have the type of attitude that lets you know that they can and will accomplish anything that they set their mind to.  Lorri Nelson is one of those women...


There is a shock factor that comes when you shoot the last animal needed for your grand slam. After years of hard work, learning to hunt each animal and a little luck, Lorri Nelson accomplished her grand slam when the cow moose dropped to the ground. “It was only four hours into the hunt,” Lorri said, “We didn’t bring the trailer or 4-wheeler because it was rattling so bad and we didn’t want to spook anything.” They had done some scouting ahead of time and were now looking for a cow moose in Zone 6. “I saw her entire body move in the woods as we drove past a strip of woods. But I couldn’t tell if it was a bull or cow,” Lorri continued, “Charlie and I got out and started zig zagging back to see if we could tell for sure if it was a cow. He confirmed that it was a cow and I shot.” Adrenaline kicked in and Lorri had to calm …

How good is the fishing in Maine?

Good enough to host Major League Fishing’s Summit Cup twice in the past five years. “The
fishing was just phenomenal. Outside of Florida or Minnesota, the sheer amount and access to water is incredible.” said Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, who finished 3rd the last time that the Summit Cup was held in Central Maine. In his fishing career, Mike is the only angler to have won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. “We fish all over the U.S and for me, I fish all over the world and the quality of fish in Maine is incredible. It almost seems like the fish have never been caught before. The number of fish and lack of fishing pressure helps to highlight that this is amazing world-class fishing” Iaconelli commented.

Major League Fishing worked with Mid-Maine Bass Fishing to keep the event quiet while the anglers were competing. “It was so much fun to have these professional anglers here,” said Mike Guarino, Maine Guide and owner of Maine Wilderness Tou…

Snowshowing in the sun

Have you ever looked up at the sky and marveled at how blue it was? There was not a cloud up there when Staci and I packed up our snowshoes and headed into the woods to look for sheds.

The recent rain had made the snow unstable and we would break through the crust and sink with every step.  It wasn't the best option, but we ended up on the snowmobile trail looking for active deer crossings.   Wet holes had opened up and streams were roaring.  It was a perfect day to be out in the woods.

The rain had made some spots icy and some soft and water logged.  We had to pick and chose where we walked and how fast we could go.  I was surprised when we met three snowmobilers on the trail.  They were probably surprised to see us too because they stopped to make sure that we were all set and had not broken down somewhere.  We continued on and as soon as we reached the tree line, we spotted two deer beds - ALWAYS a good sign.
We followed the tracks and decided to head west and see if we could …