Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finally!!!


....................Sunrise, December 30, 2008


.....................Matt Diesel


..........Downeast Duck Hunter with a one shot pair!!!

After ten days of vacation and no sea ducking, mother nature finally threw me a bone. The forecast promised little wind and seasonable temperatures which brought a sense of anticipation like that of a person who has quit smoking, but finds oneself in a smoke shop.

The forecast went like this as seen first thing this morning...

TODAY
NE WINDS AROUND 5 KT...BECOMING NW AND INCREASING TO 15
TO 20 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 30 KT. SEAS 2 TO 3 FT INCREASING TO 3 TO
5 FEET THIS AFTERNOON. LIGHT SNOW LIKELY THIS MORNING...MIXING
WITH RAIN THIS AFTERNOON. VSBY 1 TO 3 NM

Translation, I had the morning and Matt Diesel, co-founder of Duckpower, would be on this hunt. As expected, our shooting was fast and profitable with a full limit of eiders plus three old squaws. Within an hour and a half, we took to our cameras and enjoyed a few minutes of digital photography before we called it a morning.



.................Drake Eider along the line...


.................Matty with his drake old squaw


.................old squaw drake up close


...................A well deserved morning!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I SPY...

So even when I tell my wife to get me NOTHING for Christmas, I still get a nice surprise every year. This time around was no exception as I scored a Moultrie GAMESPYi40 Digital Game Camera with Infrared Flash.

For quite some time I've wanted to get one of these to better identify what exactly is working my hunting grounds. Of particular note, I've been curious about this big footprint and if the rack could be directly proportional to the track.

After some basic application of the instruction manual I've set it up for a three shot multi-image capture with enhanced image quality. Only time will tell and I won't be able to see what's out there yet. But for you big bad buck lovers, here's the first captured image... He's a brute, my wife says he's a wall hanger!!!


Honey I think it's on...

Thank you sweetheart, your Downeast Duck Hunter loves you!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Old Man Winter Kicking In the Door...

As Christmas soon approaches and the weather is snowing and in the single digits, I'm wondering when will I get a chance to get back out after some ducks. Yesterday was a wash with a high temperature of 7.5 degrees and tomorrow looks like a mess. The forecast looks like this...



Updated Sunday December 21, 2008 @ 10AM

****THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CARIBOU HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD
WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 5 PM EST
MONDAY. THE WINTER STORM WARNING HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE AREA LATE THIS AFTERNOON OR EVENING...
BECOMING HEAVY TONIGHT...BEFORE DIMINISHING MONDAY. SNOWFALL RATES
OF 2 INCHES PER HOUR CAN BE EXPECTED AT THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM
TONIGHT. EXPECT TOTAL SNOWFALL AMOUNTS BETWEEN 10 AND 18 INCHES...
EXCEPT 16 TO 24 INCHES ALONG AN AXIS FROM BAXTER STATE PARK TO
AROUND HOULTON.

MEANWHILE INCREASING WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH...WITH GUSTS OF 40 TO
45 MPH... WILL CREATE WHITEOUT CONDITIONS.

ALL INTERESTS ACROSS THE BLIZZARD WARNING AREA SHOULD RUSH TO
COMPLETION PREPARATIONS TO BE MADE IN ADVANCE OF THE STORM.

A BLIZZARD WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED. THIS STORM WILL HAVE AN EXTREME IMPACT ON THE WARNING
AREA. VERY STRONG WINDS COMBINED WITH HEAVY SNOW WILL CREATE
POTENTIALLY DEADLY OUTDOOR CONDITIONS. WHITEOUTS...DEEP SNOW
DRIFTS AND FROSTBITE OF EXPOSED SKIN CAN BE EXPECTED.****

I had planned to meet up with some friends for the end of the puddle season, but it looks like I may be sneaking onto some local ducks. Nevertheless, I can't complain about the season thus far and still have some sea ducking until the last day of January.

Shirley Lord once said, "What really matters is what you do with what you have" and we'll see how my vacation turns out.

Stay warm!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

When you learn a lot about somebody...

Today for me was top notch and my next two blog entries will be a testament to how well things went.

I had the opportunity to participate in a duck hunt with an old friend, Rod and someone new, Dennis. I always joke about how you can't always make your buddy a good duck hunter, but you can always make a good duck hunter your buddy. Today was nothing short of just that. I've heard a lot about Dennis but never had the opportunity to meet him. Through his effective set up, quality calling, and passion for duck hunting, I realized most of all is his love for a 9 year old retriever named Lexi. After Dennis had said that her days in the blind are few in number, I felt compelled to take the time to photograph the pair sharing a day waterfowling. Here's a video paying tribute to a relationship that I can appreciate but not truly understand. Again I would like to thank Dennis and Rod for inviting me to share a spot in the blind...

video

Expect the unexpected...


Note: This is the first part in an interesting day, part two will be posted shortly

On Friday night I called my buddy Jab to see if he'd be interested in gunning on his property which has tidal estuary waterfront. He felt that we wouldn't see anything since our cold snap and also proclaimed he had a list of things to accomplish before the weekend ended. Since I had decided not to go sea duck hunting due to some forecasted wind, I found myself weighing out a few options. After thinking about sneaking down below the shore after a black duck or setting up for a few buffleheads, I placed a call to my old friend Rod to see if he'd be interested in getting together for some shooting.

Rod answered the phone with enthusiasm and shared some excitement in the potential of a hunt. A little over ten years ago we became great friends, but as his kids left home for college and mine entered the world we found ourselves sort of losing touch. However, we have never missed a beat in terms of our friendship as we have caught up every so often. After some discussion, a few phone calls, and a final decision; the plan required me to be at his house no later than 8 a.m. where our group would then drive to the gunning locale. I'll be serious, I was eager to hunt with Rod and excited to know that I would be able to hunt with my wife's blessing as her quilting class had been cancelled. That means no morning curfew!

Everything was operating according to plan until 7:10 as I was on my way out of town. My buddy, Jab, had called my cell phone at 7:04 and left a message. After checking it, I knew I had to return this call. Apparently, a massive flock of Canadian geese had arrived below his house and were in his words, "Everywhere".

Now this is what I call a problem, I called Rod to inform him of my plans and gained his full support. Just as soon as I pressed END, I was redialing Jab to let him know that, "Help was on the way, give me 8 minutes".

I met Jab in his driveway and quickly we moved to foster a strategy for success. Personally, I wanted the chance at a goose since I have never taken one in my entire life, but wanted to do this quickly enough to not impede with my original plans. After quickly scolding Jab about why we should have been down there this morning, a plan was formulated to rush down to the where the tidal grass meets the woods. With quick implementation and fast firing, three geese were dispatched and the retrieval process began. We tipped over a skiff full of water (and ice) and dragged the water logged vessel towards the incoming tide.



In just a few minutes, our quarry had been collected, several photos snapped, a quick thank you, and then I was back on the road. After calling Rod, we decided to meet at a known location and then proceed from there. My detour had set me back about one half hour, and I still had another entire hunt coming up.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An ice storm with astronomical tides...

Before I begin, we get fairly large tides but as you move eastward into the Bay of Fundy things get higher, lower, and stronger. However, the tides in my vicinity run in height from around eight feet up to twelve feet depending on the time of the month in relation to the position of the moon. As of right now, we are in the middle of our spring tides this month and the weather once again became a little more unruly.

Starting last night and into this morning, we weathered an ice storm that brought some serious icing to coastal Maine, but then turned to rain as the temperature increased into the mid-forties. This resulted in a two hour delay for school, which gave me an opportunity to catch some high water action of a wharf on the leeward side of the wind. Here's a photo of the tide just before high water, well with thirty minutes to go...



And here's how the wharf fared six hours later, you can see how it buckled...



The last set of spring tides seriously damaged the wharf as a strong Nor'easter took it head on, but today's high tide really put a big hit on the structure. This wharf will never be used again and I'm not sure if the owner intends to rebuild.

On a side note, I did get a chance to snap off a few pictures of some mallards that had found refuge on a local pond.



They were getting a little worried with the Downeast Duck Hunter smiling upon them but today they got shot with a camera...



I'm hoping for a chance to go after some waterfowl tomorrow, but the wind and temperature aren't necessarily in my favor...

DEDH out

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Working a different wind...


Notice the three eiders to the left, bonus aspect to the sunrise...

I've spent a lot of time honing my abilities with this sea ducking stuff, and for me the strategy within the scope of planning becomes the essential ingredient to a great duck hunt. Saturday was no exception as my father and I discussed our possibilities for a day that would be bringing fair winds from the southeast and a tide that would be running ebb (from high to low). So here is what we asserted:
1) wind and tide working in the same direction- waves should have little height if any
2) if it is overcast, the birds should decoy well if we running our line southwest to northeast
3) if it isn't overcast, the birds won't be able to see the decoys as they turn into the wind to address our set for the sunrise will create a glare that will hide us and our decoys
4) the birds typically run from the east, we must give the eiders enough distance to adjust for the tailwind so that they can reach the decoys since these little tanks don't turn quickly nor elevate well
5) few head on shots will occur because of the glare, our shots will be passing at best as the birds will see the decoys from the east and the west, but won't be able to pick them up from the northwest turning southeast

We discovered that our hypothetical reasoning was clinically dead on. The eiders did come from the east early and decoyed very well before the sunrise became a challenge. Once the glare became an issue, our shots became passing as the eiders held a close berth along the spread.

Once the glare returned, these were our shots...

At times when a cloud shielded the sun from casting it's glare, we again found eiders turning an approaching our set into the wind as we were positioned southeast of the decoys bordered against a developing ledge due to the continual fall of the tide. But as soon as the cloud passed, the shot immediately changed back to passing.

After a little more than an hours worth of hunting, we managed our limit with some good shooting. I wanted to do a little photography so my shotgun was replaced with a Canon Powershot and my dad decided to wait for either an old squaw or coot. We did get one shot at an old squaw and I had some opportunities to "shoot" some ducks as well.


An eagle checking things out...

We returned home, loaded up the boat, and met at my father's house. Our debrief looked at how our plans went, any particular findings, and future considerations. Through effective planning, quality implementation, and good shooting we again found a quick limit with a high degree of satisfication.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When a small craft advisory becomes a gale warning...



The hardest thing about trying to get great friends down for eider hunting is that vacation time doesn't always mesh with mother nature. Today, we discovered that is always great to have another plan and in my opinion, a few ducks are better than none at all...

For some time now, my friends Sniper and J-Dog had been trying to set aside a day that would not only work for them but also me. We had thrown around dates, checked vacation schedules, and exchanged a trillion phone calls. The day of reckoning would be December 4th, and all of us agreed to keep our fingers crossed.

Over the course of this week, I had been noticing that the National Weather Service had been changing the extended forecast for the worst while my buddy Snipper had been watching every other forecast in great spirits and optimism. Newsflash, I rely on the weather buoy and the forecast that corresponds with it, so Sniper wasn't selling me on anything. It was going to blow and our chances for a safe hunt were in my eyes diminishing with each link to the weather service website. But I had a hunch we could pull of a quick couple of hours first thing before the tide turned and the wind increased. So I informed Sniper to meet me at the landing no later than 5:45 a.m. and be ready for a quick morning.

With a three hour drive, Sniper and J-Dog managed to be right on time. I had already launched the boat and warmed up the outboard. The wind was pumping from the southwest and I began thinking about evacuating plan A and moving to plan B. But I wanted to put the guys onto some great gunning, not just gunning.

We motored from the marina and entered the reach only to find some substantial seas as the tide slapped against the wind. Spray was flying, the boat was handling the circumstances but these conditions were beginning to provide some great insight into how difficult our hunt would be to how any continued effort might lend itself to becoming dangerous. I turned the boat around, headed southwest back to the landing in the face of the 25 mph plus winds and found shelter in the channel, east of the marina. Plan B had officially become in order, but we again would have to face the wind battling the tide for a short while. However, there would be less water under the hull and the chop became more manageable as we forced ourselves towards a cove that provided some needed shelter. Within minutes we arrived, set up two separate lines of eider and scoter decoys running parallel in a southwest/northeast direction and anchored the boat just upwind of the spread.


Red sky in the morning...

After a few sunrise photos and some distant buzzing by some old squaws, we found the gunning sparingly at best. Every so often some goldeneyes would pass to the west, or some buffleheads keeping their distance from the eider decoys. Then about one hour after legal shooting, Sniper fired upon a hen coot and dispatched it immediately. That one shot forced many on the western side of the bay to scatter, but the promise of more ducks seemed a tad short.



The wind obviously had an immense effect on the ducks as they battled the wind if they flew high and the other ducks acted weary of our boat swaying west, then east as the sturdy southwest wind gave little relent. Then a slough of ducks approached from the north and had little intention of turning, after getting the okay for shooting as they all were ducks, the boys launched a spray of steel skyward at the closest intruder. I knew this what something special as the bird began to fall in demise. Once again this year I lay witness to the harvest of a black duck over eider decoys. During opening weekend, I had brought down a young drake and had commented on it in "Amazing, truly amazing..."



J-Dog takes credit for this special feat, and I explained to him that for me, a black duck is a prize duck to be appreciated. Not to downplay the sea ducks I love, but nothing seems more challenging to me than the black mallard. And to get one over my duck hunting boat, that then becomes quite rare!

Just before I called the day at 11, the boys got a chance to fire at a group of surf scoters, aka patch head coots. I honestly believed they were a bit out of range but my wishes were neglected as shots rang out and one fell instantly. Shortly after retrieving the duck, the boys got buzzed again by the remaining three with no results, and finally by one more that survived the gauntlet for another day.



Pick up took no time and the sail back to the landing gave us wind and tide in our favor. Shortly after loading my Lund onto the trailer, we reconvened at my house to view the footage I had taken and made up a quick video in their honor.

I know I didn't take a shot, but to have great friends have an opportunity to sea duck hunt and have it recorded makes for quite an experience. Even though we didn't satisfy the limit, hunted in a gale force warning (only did we find this out once we got back), and retired early, I wouldn't change today for anything. We were safe and shot well...

video

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interview with the Pacific Northwest Huntress... Terry Scoville of Women's Hunting Journal (Part Two)


Terry, Teake, and Savannah

Check out Terry's blog, The Women's Hunting Journal
After some aggravating, I managed to get Terry to cough up some more photos. The second part of this blog interview looks more into her world in the field and how it feels to be a positive influence on men and women. Enjoy!!!

As a huntress, share with my readers your most extreme hunt? Within that scope, what were the qualities and perspectives that made it to the top of your list

This would be the time that my friend Larry and I hauled a 10' Jon boat down a 1/4 mile long snow covered dike to the Klamath River. We then broke ice with my 8 lb. splitting maul and set out a few G & H floating goose decoys. There was to much snow for us to drive the boat to the river and yet the geese were pressured for open water. We gave them what they needed and in turn we had one hell of a hunt. I don't know how many more extreme hunts like that one I have left in me. I know I've got at least a few and I look forward to them. You can read the 3 part story titled Going The Distance .


Down the dike to the Klamath River

We all make impacts in different ways and forms, what impact has your writing and blog made that would not have happened if WHJ had never been created?

Blogging has had the unexpected result of connecting with waterfowlers such as yourself who live several thousand miles away. I am no longer isolated to my small circle of geography and friends. That circle has grown to an area larger than I ever thought possible. The best part is being able to have conversations with like-minded people who share the passion for ethical hunting.
Also through blogging I am able to continue to educate non-hunters regarding the contributions that hunters make to the preservation and conservation of wildlife and wild lands. Those contributions in the form of licenses, outfitter and guide fees as well as supporting organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation and the list goes on. Not to mention the efforts of volunteers working in conjunction with such organizations. Management of our natural resources is crucial for the continuation of hunting.

You are a role model, one for my daughters who see you in your blog.  They get to see one of Daddy's friends and the pictures that go with it.  My daughter asked me one day, “when I get bigger, can I hunt with you?” and “can my gun have flowers on it?”.  How do I best introduce my daughters to hunting especially since it involves taking the life of an animal?

Well, I never really considered myself a "role model", I just try to teach by example and I love sharing my passion for the outdoors. I don't ever remember the issue arising regarding the taking of a life for table fare. I grew up when hunting was part of everyday life and the seasons came full circle. Beef I knew came from cows and there  weren't the extremists regarding animal rights and the "do-gooders" back then. There was no negativity associated with hunting when I was young. We are now in need of promoting ourselves as ethical hunters due to the few bad apples that seem to get the most attention. Again I feel strongly about knowing why it is you hunt and to do so in a responsible, ethical way. Both for the hunter as well as the hunted. No one wants an animal to suffer, especially those of us who hunt.


Klamath River sunrise 11/29/08

Before you go, tell me about your first duck or big game.  What sticks out most about that first shot?
 
This was back in Dec. 2002 when my friend Jeff gave me an LOP (land owner preference) tag at the ranch he works on. It was a damage control hunt for a Mule Deer doe.  I remember the temperature being in the single digits with a cold north wind. We set out early that morning looking for does hiding in the rim rock protected from the winds. After a couple hours of driving and glassing we got to a spot Jeff was confident that we'd find a doe or two. We bundled up, started hiking, and dropped over the rim rock to get out of the wind. The sky was a low overcast and threatening snow. The landscape was dotted with sparse Junipers and Sage brush. This being my first deer hunt I was excited and a bit nervous, not knowing how I might be affected should I succeed. I have never shot a mammal, but after all the years and years of countless stories I've heard, I was now ready to find out first hand what this was about.
Jeff was leading and the wind was blowing so strong that it was making my eyes water and I was having a hard time seeing. I tilted my head and lowered the brim of my hat to help block the wind and just then Jeff stopped suddenly. I froze in my tracks and instantly my heart started beating faster. Jeff was pointing to a bedded doe on the leeward side of the hill, laying just under a rock outcropping. I tried to see her but was having no luck. Eventually I saw her and Jeff suggested I use a Juniper stub for a gun rest. I moved uphill about 15 feet and rested my gun in the crook of an old burnt Juniper. Jeff said that whenever I was ready to take the shot. I asked "just where do I aim"? He said "below the ear at the base of the head". "O.k." I said and before I knew it I had squeezed the trigger and the does head dropped to the ground. I was flushed with adrenaline and my ears were ringing from the shot. I peered over the top of my scope and Jeff said "good job, you go check her and I'll keep her in my binoculars in case she gets up". Well Jeff knew she was dead and not going anywhere. I chambered another round in my .270 and started walking towards her. My feet were frozen yet the rest of me was warm and my heart was pounding in my ears. As I got close I could see her juggler vein still pulsing. Well that was all it took and the tears started. My emotions had surfaced and was overcome as Jeff congratulated me. He asked me if I was alright and I said yes as I was laughing and crying at the same time. I was pleased to have made a good shot and that the doe did not suffer. Yet the gravity of my success was beyond my expectations in all areas. It is humbling to end a life. Words fall short of the experience for me. I am thankful to be affected and if the day were to come that I am not, then I will again reassess my reasons for being in the field.


Terry's first mule deer...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Interview with the Pacific Northwest Huntress... Terry Scoville of Women's Hunting Journal (Part One)


Photo of Terry Scoville's first deer

Fellow Bloggers and Outdoor Enthusiasts:

About three weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a person who was having some difficulty linking to my blog and it went like this:

Hi there, this is Terry from Women's Hunting Journal. I have tried to link you on my blog but blogger says it can't detect a URL for your site. Any ideas? Found your site via Hunt, Eat, Live and I really enjoy reading your blog. Great Great dedication and I love the Eider "thesis" very cool. I hunt in S.W. Oregon in the Klamath basin and we don't get the species you Easterners do.

I'll keep trying to get you linked, let me know if there are any reasons you know of for the difficulty or best yet any solutions. Thanks and keep up the tradition.


When I first created my blog, I didn't expect to be networking with other members of a country-wide hunting and fishing community. However, through one friend I have found many and often I find myself browsing through the articles that are different but so similar to my practice in Downeast Maine.

I hadn't checked out Terry's blog at this point, but felt compelled to do so and it became quite apparent that my interest in her world became what blogging is all about. Her experiential writing from the field and how it applied to women generated a need to find out what drives a female to have a passion for hunting much like me.

Before I continue, I need to inform you all that I have two young girls, 4 and 2 respectively, and it is very important for me to effectively introduce them to a world I care about so much. I've had my oldest freshwater fishing for bass on the open water and trout through the ice, and my youngest emulating her older sister. But fishing is different than hunting, in a world that animals are portrayed as one of us through animation, Bambi and Nemo have become silent advocates against hunting and fishing. I needed to establish a dialogue with Terry about how she became the huntress so well presented in her blog.

Through several e-mails, we began to share experiences, stories, and general information about what we possess in our gun cabinets to the types of game we pursue to the nature of better representing our sport.  It then became apparent that I must allow her to answer some questions so that young women who either hunt or aspire to hunt can feel confident in developing their persona in an increasingly complex and changing world. In addition, her life can in fact become a useful device for fathers who want to encourage their daughters to grow up with hunting as a part of their life as opposed to something they just do to make their dad happy.

So I proposed this to Terry: I interview you as an ambassador for women to hunting and you can do the same with me in any direction you choose. This is what I received from her. Enjoy!!!

Why is it that you have found yourself blogging and more importantly why the development of Women's Hunting Journal?

It was this past March when I was having lunch with a good friend Cristina Acosta, who's blog (Create and Relate) suggested I start a blog dedicated to women's hunting. Her reason being that I seldom grew tired of sharing my stories about being in the field and pursuing my passion for hunting. I feel history has overlooked women's hunting. There are some books noting women hunters as early as the 1800's, but for the most part hunting is perpetuated as a male dominant pursuit. I feel the presence of more women hunters will eventually break the negative stereotypes that exist regarding women and hunting.

In the field a women learns self reliance, confidence, gains clarity as to her strengths and weaknesses, thus learning what her own guidelines for hunting. For example, packing out big game animals: deer, elk, moose, bear. Being typically not as large in stature or as physically strong as a man, a woman will need to make more trips packing out the meat or hunt with a partner to help pack out meat. As for waterfowl and upland hunting, I feel that abilities between men and women are equal. Women's Hunting Journal creates a public arena for conversation about women in the field.

On your blog under the section “About Me”, you mention your experience in years and address your enthusiasm towards hunting, if you were to add anything else about yourself what would you share?

In sharing my stories on Women's Hunting Journal, my priorities are integrity and keeping it real. Being true to the hunting experience is about being present, not just on the physical level but emotionally and spiritually as well. I feel that a good hunter/huntress is the epitome of a good conservationist. Conscious hunting includes both internal dialogue and shared conversations about morality, ethics, connection to wild places and wild things, and respect for myself and my quarry. How a person pursues hunting and conducts themselves in the field is a reflection these conversations.

How do you feel about the status of women in the field based on your experiences and response from your blog? Are there any avenues of improvement, declination, praises, or concerns?

Based on comments and reading my analytics, I can see that my blog is affecting readers in a positive way. There are readers from all over the world who are reading about my experiences as an American woman huntress. When readers from countries such as India, Nigeria, Turkey, Madagascar and other countries where women do not have the full political, social, economic and religious rights that I have, then I feel my blog stories are examples of such freedoms to the rest of the world. On that level it is a huge responsibility to maintain the integrity of Women's Hunting Journal and to continue to post my experiences as a woman in the field.

What was the defining moment for you that stoked the fire inside for hunting? There are experiences that turn us on to things, and experiences that turn us off. Have there been times that your dedication to hunting became questionable? If so, how did you manage to handle this challenge?

As a woman there is not a specific moment that got me hooked on hunting. Rather experiences as a whole which took root when I was young. Everything is connected to everything else. Learning in school was difficult and it didn't take me long to realize that I was more at home with myself if I was able to be physically active in learning. I am a kinesthetic learner, hence all the years ski racing and pursuing sports. So when my father started taking me hunting and fishing I caught on quickly and found great confidence in those arenas. The time and energy my father shared with me continues to keep his spirit at my side long after his passing.

As for a time in my life when I questioned my hunting, yes there was. I was about 30 years old and questioned my entire existence. I put my shotgun down for 9 years and reassessed my reasons/motives for hunting. That period of my life was one of great growth and a time I reassessed my reasons for being. I wrote a post about that time in my life titled, Why Do You Hunt?


Stay tuned for Part Two!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Second article published!!!


Another submission from the blog was accepted by Duck Hunting Chat's online magazine. The Four Subspecies of the Common Eider can be found at the following link...

Duck Hunting Chat Online Article

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Blasting Brother-in-Law...

Okay, so I put the shotgun down today and fired up the video camera only to take some less than high quality video. My brother-in-law didn't make it down for our eider hunt on Thursday morning since he was dealing with a power outage and my sister. Here's the video of Mr. Bufflehead and my personal favorite is when he takes out the closet one only to watch the gigantic flock split and fly away. Still, he knocked them down well and I'm sure he's quite pleased with himself...

video

Friday, November 28, 2008

Still on a roll...


My eyes rolled open about 45 minutes before the alarm was to go off, and I wasn't about to try to sleep anymore. So I snuck out of the bedroom and fired up the coffee pot as I checked the laptop for the weather. It didn't take long to discover that the wind forecasted for today was virtually nonexistent and I started to kick myself for not having my sea ducking gear ready. Slightly perturbed, I gulped down the brewed coffee and called my partner for the day. Before I continue with the sequence of today, let me introduce the "Mouse"...


Mouse

Mouse is a former student of mine and an ever aspiring hunter in the works. You see his father spent an abundance of time with him as a youngster hunting and fishing but when Mouse was in junior high, cancer robbed him of his dad. So over the past several years, Mouse has continually searched for anybody who would take him hunting or at least show him how to hunt successfully. I won't say I've taken him under my wing, but maintain a steady relationship that relies on training, discussion, and practice. He's a good kid and believe that he truly appreciates every second out in the field with people who care about showing him the ins and outs of hunting....

We met at 5:30 a.m. and quickly moved our gear down onto the flats. For today, we would be gunning a spot called the yellow rocks and since the tide has just started to flood it would be an excellent opportunity to get a daylight black duck or mallard coming into the freshwater drain where we hid silently. When you are hunting coastal areas in Maine with two high and two low tides a day, you realize that timing becomes everything as you pursue certain types of waterfowl. Our concealment would be in satisfactory unison with the flood tides edge and legal shooting time. In the midst of everything so perfect, it would still be a one shot deal and I told Mouse that he better be ready for the ducks would not return after we offered a volley on the mud flats of the bay...



As legal shooting came closer and closer, I dabbled with the call and received an abundance of replies. Then we could hear the wind behind some desperate waterfowl as they were trying to locate our position in the dark. I told Mouse it wouldn't be long and right at legal shooting, two mallards hit the drain just to our right. Mouse was handcuffed by the rock we hid behind, but I was in perfect condition. I nudged him and got the go ahead from him which led to a quick shot from my Remington 870. One lifted into the sky as the other remained in the drain, I got up immediately to retrieve the duck but realized that once I started into the drain, the duck took off into the sky. There I stood with no shotgun and a long gone bird, that was discouraging...

But that one shot lifted not just those two ducks into the sky, but apparently every black and mallard in the bay as they were circling our spread and searching for a safe haven. For those that decided our locale was safe didn't choose well, as we watched a number of ducks land in the same location as the previous two. We touched off the 12 gauges and I knew that my shot yielded a duck, but then asked Mouse about his take. His reply was, "I don't think I got any". And sure enough, all we had for our early morning was one beautiful drake black duck. Knowing that this morning was a one shot deal, we packed up, returned to the trucks, and went to his house...

We decided to check another ambush spot called the Iron Mine, but I let him sneak in as I found a rock ledge to hide behind overlooking Eastern Bay. I figured that he deserved another chance, plus if it were a mallard then I could potentially get a chance if he drove out any birds. As I looked out across the bay, the amount of buffleheads, mergansers, old squaws, and surf scoters surprised me. If the weather holds true to the forecast, I just may find myself gunning in this area tomorrow...



Once Mouse returned, we took a couple of pictures and returned to my house. Although discouraged by not taking a duck, he seemed quite elated that I offered the black duck to him in appreciation of he taking the time to help me set up. He'll call me several times today about how we dressed the bird, how to bake it, and how great it tasted. I've already planned for us to go sea ducking in a couple of weeks as my boat seems scheduled until Christmas, but when I do call him be rest assured that he'll drop everything and anything to be hunting with me...


I hadn't used my 870 for quite some time, my father gave it to me for my 12th birthday and I've added the synthetic black stock and forend two years ago...

So for sharing my day with the Mouse, I'll chalk it up as a great success and my Thanksgiving break continues to bring about much enjoyment and opportunity...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Blast!!!


Sunrise, Thanksgiving Day, 2008

After the storm that put 50,000 customers without power, the wind did become light southwest and it became an excellent chance for some sea ducking. The key question that presented itself was whether or not the 59 mph gusts from the southeast and a sustained wind around 40 mph would drive out our existing eiders or usher in new ones?

See the Bangor Daily news article about the storm...

It didn't take long to discover that our morning would be full of excellent opportunities as groups of 8 to 15 eiders kept arriving from the east. These birds were mature and large, obviously brought in from the cold spell last week and the fierce winds following the cold snap. In 45 minutes, my father and I had filled our bag limit of eiders (10) and dad scored an extra hen oldsquaw (long tailed duck). After our hunt, dad and I both agreed that this has been the best gunning of the season thus far.


Hen oldsquaw and one mature drake eider

What we didn't realize it that the storm had kicked up an astronomical amount of seaweed and it was very difficult to get our long lines of eider decoys into the boat. Typically we clean the line as we put the decoys back into the baskets, but with the shear heft of the line we ended up just throwing the entire works into the back of the boat. It did take some time to clear that quagmire!!!


The rabid outdoorsman will attest to how bad this mess is!!!

Here's a photo of our quarry, a true morning to be thankful for...


Limit of eiders...Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hitting the Ropes...

This past weekend I attended a leadership conference with ten of my high school students and there was a break in the action.

One of my kids suggested that I gear up and try at least one, but I didn't want to take away any of their opportunities. After some egging, I put on the climbing gear and shimmied up the tree, crossed the rope, head butted the other tree, and dropped off the ropes. It wasn't the toughest, actually it may have been the easiest but nevertheless I found my picture taken several times. Even though it was cold as the dickens, the kids were troopers and all left a little better for their participation.


Falling, Fall Away

Approaching the tree

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busy... busy... busy...

Flashback...

It's been a hard run, weather on the weekends has been nothing short of small craft advisories and daylight savings time has put a huge hit into my afternoon deer nights. I do have a leadership conference to attend, but next week I'm out of school as of 12 noon on Wednesday so it looks like deer afternoons, duck mornings, and family in between. Hopefully I'll be able to provide a few memorable stories, plus I'm thinking about doing a blog interview on a pretty fascinating woman in the field from the our Northwestern region of the country. I hope all is well for everyone and stay tuned!!!


If anyone is curious about what I do feel free to drop me an email at downeastduckhunter@yahoo.com

Downeast Duck Hunter

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Duck Camp, 2008

Due to other circumstances, I only got to participate in the last day of duck camp this year as my good buddies The Rabid Outdoorsman and his younger brother Matt Diesel made it down for an overnight on a remote island. The weather was less than satisfactory with easterly winds, fog, and some rain. Nevertheless, this is the product of my painstaking labor from my digital camera...

video

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reflections from the deer stand...


Maine law requires two pieces of blaze orange. I did wear an orange hat over my ball cap, but that would have looked un-photogenic...

Opening day came and went this Saturday, but I took a notepad out with me and thought I'd write exactly what was on my mind from time to time. Here's what I came up with and thought I'd share it with you... Note this is exactly how it was written down from the stand...

2:20 p.m.- officially in the stand, didn't think my wife was ever going to make it home from quilting class. She was only ten minutes late but it seemed like an eternity, after all it is opening day and I didn't go duck hunting this morning.

Thought for sure I heard a snort on my way in, I waited about ten minutes before continuing moving ahead.

The wind is NW, it drops out then puffs up for a bit, I am sure the scent will be ineffective. I do spray doe estrus as an "attractive" cover up.

After 31 minutes of hunting last year I'm excited to get back out into the woods. It was very convenient last year, but I lost so much in doing so: decompression, learning, relaxation, thinking, analyzing the behavior processes of the deer herd.

I'm a little annoyed with the tree in my shooting lane... it's bowed over and the top of it is right where I fired upon last years spike horn. Tomorrow I'll clear that, if I get a second...



Why is opening day so special?
The excitement, clean slate, nature, eagerness, freezer waiting, cool afternoons, warm sun on my face, and that smell of the woods. The time alone out here is mine, there is no schedule and no reason to quit. My only restriction is day light.

Why only afternoons?
I have had very little luck in the morning hours and the deer move through my area in the afternoon as they transition from daytime bedding to feeding. Usually, I get at least one shooter passing through the lane each year. Finally, I'm duck hunting any available morning and I can't do both at the same time so I will do both on the same day if I can...

My time is limited this year. As a provider for my family, I've picked up another job that consumes two week days. In addition, an addendum was added to the teacher's contract that I must leave no sooner than 3 p.m. which combines with daylight savings time tomorrow. The result, very limited hunting time. Finally, next weekend is duck camp so no deer hunting while the one following has me committed to another job through Maine Medical Center. I will not be in the woods until Veterans Day next Tuesday the 11th...

3:04 p.m.- One thing I've brought this year new to my gear is a 12 inch piece of twine to tie my tag onto the deer after shooting. I've cut off straps, laces, cord from my grunt call, and from my hooded sweatshirt. This year I'm ready.

Being housebound is the worst feeling, I get so uptight, held back, and restricted. That is something I need to work on... patience...

The woods get me away, but not really. I hear dogs barking, vehicles along the main road, and kids outside from a distance. But there is also some crows, a lonely squirrel chirping four feet away, the wind shifting, creaking trees, the breezes coming in before the cool air touches your face.

The wind is still NW, I wish it would lean N or even NE. Today's hunt is all chance, scent will not work today, I'm at the mercy of that deer deciding to take my path.

3:50 p.m.- Ah, the wind did lean a little more north so I took last year's full bottle of doe in estrus and took the cover off. Quietly I tossed it westward trying to create a swarth of scent. We'll see...

5:15 p.m.- One shot fired from the Northwest, wind has dropped out, visibility diminishing, and temperature dropping. Won't be much longer.

5:35 p.m.- Sneak home quietly with my flashlight.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I've been O Bomb AHHHHDDDD!!!

My wife wakes me up this morning to inform me that I've been hit. I've always been proud of the fact that in 11 years of teaching, not once have I been the victim of a prank associated with Halloween. Well, it all ended last night as I peered out the picture window to see a most troubling and damaging act. In my yard now stands 20, I repeat twenty, Barack Obama and Joe Biden yard signs and my John McCain sign is long gone.

The action was well thought out and I can appreciate this great joke, the best part is that I didn't think there were 20 Obama signs in Washington County. I suppose I'll have to contact the Democratic National Committee to come pick them up. So until later, Obama central signing off!!!