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Showing posts from 2020

I got buck blocked

About an hour into my sit, I heard steps coming towards my stand.  It was a beautiful morning and my heart skipped a beat with the idea that a deer might finally be headed my way.  Trail camera photos showed my last remaining target buck during daylight at that stand, so I was hopeful. But as it got closer, I heard purrs, clucks and chirps. The steps turned into one big mass of noise and soon, like a movie, the woods were nothing by black blobs moving towards me.  They set up in a shooting lane, eating acorns and moving closer, essentially blocking me in my stand.  The flock would see me move and spook before I would have a chance to move my gun into a position to get a deer.  I was stuck and they were coming closer.  When they got bored there, they moved across three more shooting lanes and I counted them as they passed... 42. I was hearing leaves crunch everywhere around me.  But something sounded too close to be a rogue turkey.  I slowly turned to my right and saw a spike horn walki

Nocturnal Northern Borealis

My trail camera sent me a picture of a big, wide 6 pointer that was in the area where I was headed.  I wondered how far he might have traveled between then and when I would be in the woods.  It was an off morning.  My son wanted to hunt but was complaining about his extra layers of clothing and how tight it made his boots.  I had on 3 of my 5 layers (remember, I sit for hours and hours!) and was rushing to get him out of the door along with packing all of my stuff.  I knew as soon as I walked outside that I was in trouble.  I was sweaty. I walked to the same stand as I had sat in last week and again, I jumped a deer.  It was dark and I tried to listen to figure out how far and in which direction the deer was moving. When I reached the stand, the rungs were icy from the rain the night before and the chilly temps.  I carefully climbed up and listened.  The wind was rustling the dead leaves in the trees.  As the sun came up, drops of frost melted and added to the noise.  Squirrels took up

Was that a flag?

Week two of rifle season was completely different than week one.  I changed stands and jumped a deer as soon as I got into the woods.  I've been hunting for almost half of my life now and for the first time, as I walked into the woods alone, the sound of something so close that I could not see did not send my heart beating out of my chest.  Instead, I listened to see if I could keep it from running too far away by slowing continuing on to my stand.  It was warmer than the week before which meant sitting for 12 hours would be much more bearable. I settled into the stand quieter than I normally do, knowing that the deer was not too far away. There was a slight breeze coming from behind me and I shifted a few inches to use the wall to block it from carrying my scent downwind to the deer.   The woods were quiet and I always marvel at the period of time where the world is black and white. Geese started honking in the cornfield nearby.  Crows and Bluejays started calling.  Gray squirrels

For the birds

The moon was full and the air was cool.  I planned to sit in T3 for the whole day in the stand furthest away on the property. I had my backpack but since it was the first day of the season, I was unorganized and didn't have a neck warmer, mittens or grunt with me.  We have had a lot of deer on the camera and a group of five doe that seem to be there on a regular basis.  I have a doe permit, but really wanted to get a buck. Last year when I sat in this stand , I had lots of visitors.  I got settled in and relaxed as I watched the world wake up around me.  One of the barred owls was flying around and I caught a few glimpses of it looking for breakfast.  There were a few squirrels and two grouse that spent all afternoon around my stand.  I couldn't pay a deer to walk by.  There was nothing.  No snaps, no blowing... just birds. And 18 degree temperatures.  I was chilly and looked forward to an insanely hot shower when I got home but a day in the woods is always enjoyed!

Some Shane Mahoney Inspiraton

Yes, this is an older video but the message still rings true; "...they have concluded, in agreement with us, that yes, sportsmen and women and the activity of hunting, done in a sustainable manner operates as a conservation mechanism the world over..."  On this polarizing election day, let's focus on what we can agree on.  Conservation efforts, traditions, and the importance of understanding and working for social and biological carrying capacities for all animals in an effort to maintain the resource for generations to come. 

The unlikely bear hunter

Jesse Phillips had no intention of bear hunting.  He was along for the ride with friend and host of Blood Origins , Robbie Kroger, who was on his annaul bear hunt with Grove Hill Outfitters .  Being convinced that he should go hunt, Jesse grabbed the 45-10 and headed into a treestand.  He wore his cowboy boots, jeans and flannel, "the only thing I didn't do was put on deoterant" Jesse laughed.  Climbing up into the stand a little before 2pm, he held no expectations for seeing his first bear in the wild.  He was doing this just to apease the guys in camp.  At 4:02, a bear appeared. "He was about 40 yards away," explained Jesse, "and he was just walkeding around, sniffing and eating.  He wasn't interested in the bait at all."  Watching the bear, Jesse knew he needed to remain calm. He was in no position to move his gun and take a shot without the bear spooking. The bear walked in and out of the opening with no intention of heading to the bait. Jesse

Grateful for the community

I am technically an adult-onset hunter.   I started when I was twenty after watching Dad hunt every fall and deciding that I wanted to see what it was all about – and that killing your own meat was not a bad thing. If you had asked me (or dad) to imagine what the next decade and a half would be like, I guarantee you neither of us would have pictured this! As I write this, I have just hung up the phone with Taylor and Mark Drury. Throughout deer season, I will be writing up all of the Drury family hunts that will be featured on DeerCast (make sure you have the app or the website bookmarked!) I am also going to continue interviewing hunters from across the country and Canada that have taken amazing deer. Just like last year when I got to f eature Wayne Bernier  from Allagash Adventures after he dropped his amazing 200lb, 20 point buck with a 31 inch spread! The fact that I get to do this blows my mind. I get to share a mutual love and excitement over hunting with so many people and

The Blood Origins Project

"I was looking for a narrative that described who we are as hunters,” my friend Robbie Kroger explained to me, “Essentially looking for an authentic truth about who we are. I couldn't find it. So we built it with Blood Origins.” If you have never heard of Blood Origins, set aside a solid hour and watch the videos on their website or YouTube, featuring some of the most influential people in the hunting world. People like Will Primos , Cuz Strickland and Jim Shockey all share a small piece of their story and the how and why hunting was so important. Robbie has more than 30 unique stories from hunters, nonhunters, men, women, veterans, young and old and each one is a personal look into the importance of hunting and conservation. “It is about our community, and conveying the truth around hunting” said Robbie. The fact that Robbie and I even connected is a testament to the power of the hunting community. As a native South African, American and Mississippian, Robbie was determined

Maine's Moose problem

Do we have too many moose?  too few?  are hunters killing the correct number to ensure a healthy social and biological carrying capasity?  A young moose in spring (c) And A Strong Cup of Coffee These questions are asked every year around the time that hunters have to apply for a permit and when the drawing actually happens.  Maine's moose are iconic and hunters have gone decades applying for a permit without being drawn.  I am currently on year 18 of not being drawn. But the allure of walking through the crisp, fall air and seeing that bull moose step out into a clearing, keeps people applying year after year after year.  A proposal by Maine's moose biologist, Lee Kanter is seeking to test a small population of moose to see if by lowering the population of moose, the winter tick problem will decrease.  On the surface it makes sense; less anaimals means less disease.  Something has to change if we want to keep the herd healthy and growing.  Winter ticks have been a huge concern

Millinocket Moose

I woke my son up at 1:40 in the morning so that we could be in Millinocket by 4 AM. I have made it a point this year to take advantage of local Maine guides who are struggling because of the cancellations from out-of-state hunters and anglers. Many guides and outfitters have great discounts on trips and as a local, I am happy to take advantage! We had been in quarantine for 12 weeks at that point and it was leading up to my son’s birthday. So at 4am, we met up with Paul Sannicandro of Moose Woods Guide Service to go on a moose safari.  The weather called for rain but we were determined to find a few moose before the storms rolled in.   With bug spray, binoculars, cameras and face masks, we headed out on the Golden Road to find some moose.  We didn’t have to go far before Paul spotted a young bull. Excitedly and quietly, we hiked close to the edge of the pond to get a better view.  The sun was just starting to crest the trees and illuminate the snow on the peak of Katahdin. It w

Front yard birding

We have known since we bought the house, that there were owls around. I frantically flagged down Hubs when I was on the phone being intereviewed and saw one land on a dead tree across the backyard, so that we could get some pictures. We hear them at night calling to one another and occasioanlly, we hear them in the morning when we take the dog out. There is two, maybe three nearby. Since we have been at home for weeks, I have found myself going for walks during the naptime. On this particular day, the sun was shining and I was headed towards the mailbox when I heard an owl hoot.  It was close. I spun on my heels, ran inside and grabbed my camera.  I told Hubs to come with me and help me find this owl. We did.  He spotted it first and I tried to be as quiet as possible (on a bed of dried leaves) to get some photos of the sleeping owl.  Eveneturally he got annoyed by me and flew justa  few trees away.  We didn't follow up but smiled at the fact that we could see him and wa

Finding sheds in the Maine woods

I noticed the black against the white trees, "moose!" I called out to Lee .  Eating along the side of the logging road, she was spooked by our approaching truck and disappeared into thick sapplings before I could take a picture.  I took it as a good omen that today would be productive. Snow in May is not unheard of in Maine but the few inches that had fallen the night before, would not make shed hunting an easy task this morning.  I was still excited and the break from quarantine life was welcomed.  The fresh Maine air can reset anyone's state of mind. We walked down old skidder trails and split up to cover more ground.  Snow fell from the higher branches as the sun began to rise.  I had been walking for just a few minutes when Lee came to find me and had me backtrack on to the road that he had been on. "Walk right down this trail and look inside the tree line" Lee instructed me.  He had already found the first shed of the morning amid two inches of snow a

Chronic Wasting Disease in Maine

If you had asked everyone in the room to vote right then and there, I would bet that supplemental feeding of deer would have been made illegal. The room was packed with people at the Augusta Civic Center, listening to a presentation by Dr. Krysten L. Schuler, Wildlife Disease Ecologist at Cornell Wildlife Health Lab about her research on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and what is being done in the 26 states currently impacted. CWD is caused by a mutated protein that are found in prions. Deer shed prions through bodily fluids and once in the soil, CWD can stay there for months if not years.  The worst spreaders of the prions are those big, adult bucks that we all covet. CWD is fatal and in the same family as Mad Cow Disease. The Centers for Disease Control describes Chronic Wasting Disease saying, "It may take over a year before an infected animal develops symptoms, which can include drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, and other neurological symptoms." It also recomm

Eagles on the trail

Reason number 3,657,935 why my Dad is the best: As we were snowmobiling, we approached a bog and three eagles with about 20 crows took off.  It could only mean one thing in my book - something was dead.  We circled back and walked around in the snow but the birds had left and we couldnt find anything that would resemble a meal.  A part of me thinks that we were in the wrong piece of land and should have been on the other side of the bog but in our snowmobile gear, we were not going to cover a lot of ground.  I was disappointed that we couldn't find what the birds were eating but I was able to get some good pictures of one of the mature eagles and the immature eagle that were flying around.

Enjoying the sun

This winter has been lacking in the snow department so Staci and I took advantage and went out to look for antler.  We didn't find any but not for a lack of trying.  Some trail camera photos from later on that week showed even the smallest of bucks still had its antlers on.  But, we enjoyed the warm sun and some great views of the local bog.

Healthy Coyote coming through

I still have a few trail cameras out to see what the deer are up to.  I have gotten pictures of the big buck that is around and most recently, I got these pictures.  Normally, I wouldn't be too freaked out but now that we have a dog, it is a little unnerving.  Add that this camera is about 50 feet from our lawn and less than 100 feet from our front door... I hope that this one is just passing through. (Sidenote: I put new batteries in this camera so the date and time are wrong BUT  I walked in front of it so it would take my picture and I could figure out what the actual time and date were: 7am Saturday morning.)

My Battle with Disney

I will admit it.  The nostalgia got to us and we threw our money at Disney+.  Hubs and I were excited to show our kids the cartoons and movies that we grew up with.  It never dawned on me that I would be faced with defending my love of hunting and trapping to those kids as we watched the movies. The Fox and the Hound Are those the traps you use? Why would Copper hunt Tod if that’s his friend? Amos Slade is the antagonist.   An “evil” trapper who wants to hurt poor, cute Tod the fox. He raises hounds, sets jaw-toothed traps (the illegal kind) and continues to threaten the Widow Tweed about Tod getting into his chickens and needing to return to the wild. The story is more about the conflict around the friendship between the dog and fox but the underlying issue is about hunting and trapping. Beauty and the Beast Another antagonist, Gaston is described as an "arrogant hunter" who sings about how no one can shoot like him and that he uses antlers in his decoratin

Igniting a passion for the outdoors

George Smith always talks about going to school with a gun in your vehicle because you were coming out of the woods after a morning of hunting, to go to school and were headed back when the day was done.  We are in a very different world now, but that passion for the outdoors is beginning to come back. Waterville Maine’s Mid-Maine Technical Center is home to one of four Outdoor Leadership programs in the State.   With almost 30 high school juniors and seniors, instructor Jason Cyr is excited to see where the brand new program will lead.   “This program is four months old, “Jason said, “but the kids are so excited about not only what we are doing but what they will be able to do as they go through the class.”   Each student will leave the class with hunter’s safety in rifle and archery as well as ATV, snowmobile and boating safety. “I have two students who are avid trappers so they want to help bring an instructor in and get the rest of the class trained” said Jason, “we really w

Becky’s buck of a lifetime

“We found new public land to hunt,” explained Becky Sucy, “So, we set up a stand and started hunting from it this season.”  What Becky didn’t realize at the time, was that the spot that she picked was in prime swamp buck territory. Becky laughed when I asked if she knew how many deer were in the area, “We didn’t put any trail cameras out because we didn’t want to get focused on chasing one certain deer.” Instead, she put in the time and effort to be in the woods, in the right place and at the right time.  She and her husband, Aaron went out one afternoon as the rut was just beginning.  Aaron had tagged out earlier in the season so he sat at the bottom of the tree and called while Becky climbed into the tree stand.  Aaron used a combination of a buck grunt and doe bleat and after about 90 minutes, Becky could hear the deer coming. “It sounded like a horse trotting.   I had to stand up and peer around the tree to try and see the deer.”   Her first glimpse of the buck was just