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!!!