Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hunting Season Recap

I apologize for my absence around here lately, but the constant demands of life have afforded me little time to keep everyone updated.  I do have a couple of long awaited stories through, so let's get right to it!

I had promised a picture of a big a bear and that bear was taken by George Haley.  George is a friend of mine who owns and runs Moose Mountain Guide Service.  He has taken his fair share of black bears and decided that he would like to trap a bear.  Now before any naysayers start, let me put your minds at ease, bears are now trapped with a cable restraint on their paw that is very humane.  Last year, George decided to try his hand at trapping a bear.  He had game cam pictures of a large bear that he wanted to target, so he set the closure on his snare to a larger than required size in an attempt to catch only the larger bear.  He had many bears come in, but none were large enough to hold in his oversized opening.  The big bear also came on several occasions, but would not be fooled by the standard set and always maneuvered around the cable.   Time constraints and prior commitments would not allow George the opportunity to snare a bear in 2011.  The 2012 season started and George had a different strategy, to attempt a blind set to snare the bear.  Again smaller bears were caught and quickly pulled out due to George's generous closure size.  After seeing one of the bears that had pulled out, George was wondering if he had been too generous, as it was a very nice bear.  Determined to get the " big one", he stuck to his guns and sure enough, he got the 522 lb. boar!  

George's mother was also drawn for a moose permit this year, and the family got together to try their hand at tagging a bull.  The first day of hunting was tough, and while many moose were spotted, their lack of head adornment in the form of antlers, took them off the playing field.  The next morning, they arrived early to a likely field and saw the dark forms of moose in the field.  As it brightened, they could see a bull in the back of the field headed into the woods.  Knowing they would have little time, Milton (George's dad and subpermittee) pulled off a 275+ yard shot to down the "swamper".  It was a nice bull weighing a little over 800 pounds field dressed and sported a 48" spread on it's antlers.  I think the Haley's freezers will be full this year!

The last hunting story I have from this years big game season is a friend of mine Lance Cunningham.  He was out deer hunting the week of Thanksgiving.  His party had hunted hard, but no one had tagged a deer.  Lance had found a pocket of deer on a ridge, with good buck sign in it.  It was Thanksgiving day, and they were only hunting until noon to pack up and make it home for a Thanksgiving supper.  Lance was still hunting his way back to pickup when he heard a noise.  Freezing, he strained his ears and heard it again.  It was the distinct sound of an animal walking through the leaves above him on the ridge.  Having seen moose in the vicinity, he assumed it was probably just another swamp donkey.  That was when the rest of the hunting party called him and told him to hurry back to the truck, because they were all waiting on him.  Lance assured them he would hurry, but could not forget that sound and had to investigate.  As he eased up the ridge on full alert, he saw a large ledge and decided that once he could see past that he would be able to tell what was making the noise.  He slowly worked around the ledge, and as he did a buck materialized in the beech whips in front of him.  Seeing it was a nice buck, Lance fought to put the crosshairs on the buck's shoulder without having beech whips in the scope.  Finally, he thought he had a clear shot and fired.  The buck bolted and Lance was unsure of his shot, so he worked the bolt again and let a shot go at the running deer.  As soon as he fired, the buck piled up.  As Lance got closer, he could see that one side of the rack was nontypical and that it was a very nice buck.  It field dressed out at 190 pounds with 12 points.  4 points on the typical side and 8 on the nontypical side.

Stay tuned, because I have some trapline pictures and stories as well as shed hunting reports and hard water fishing is knocking on the door!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Deer Season Winding Down

As I write this, the last day of muzzleloader season dawned crisp and cold.  Last night, our temperatures bottomed out below the 0 degree Fahrenheit mark for the first time this fall.  Very fitting to mark December's entry.  I haven't posted in a while and wanted to catch people up on what has been happening here in Northern Maine as deer season progressed.  The deer sightings and harvests seem to be up dramatically from what we have seen for the previous two years, but are still far from what I consider a good population level.  There were a lot of young deer shot this year which I would have expected from our mild winter, but I also talked to lots of people that passed on some of these younger deer to let them grow.  When it comes to the topic of which deer should you shoot and which ones should you pass, I feel that there is no one answer to that and the decision should be made at the individual level.  Essentially, I feel if a deer excites you when you see it, that is a deer you should shoot.  That excitement level may or may not change for people as time progresses.  For me personally, a spike horn used to evoke a lot of excitement and therefore I was very happy to shoot a spike horn, but now I am happier to let that deer walk and target an older age class.  It will be very interesting to see what transpires this winter and if we can sneak by with another mild winter.  If that is the case, I would be hopeful for next years season.  Well, I will get off my little soap box and tell you about some deer!

First off, Josh Caron was hunting a piece of ground that he had discovered a pocket of deer in a couple of years ago.  Not having a chance to get back into that area until this year, he was pleasantly surprised when he had just started to poke into the woods and doe appeared.  Josh watched her for a moment, then decided that her behavior was slightly untypical and his eyes started probing the brush behind her.  To his amazement, he could see a mature buck in the raspberry bushes.  The buck had his head down as if to hide behind the bushes, but the buck's gaze was fixed on Josh and he knew he had little time to waste.  Smoothly easing the rifle to his shoulder, he settled the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger.  The deer bucked, giving clear evidence of the shot finding it's mark and ran up the hill only to collapse after going about 30 yards.  Josh was elated, as he approached the buck and could see the thickness in the deer's body.  After dragging the deer to the road, Josh had quite a task ahead of him as his tailgate wouldn't open.  Josh has loaded a few deer in his hunting career, but this one was just not possible to get over the broken tailgate.  After many attempts and a finally a strap cut from his cooler, he was able to get it loaded.  His battle eluded to the fact that this was a large bodied deer.  Just how big? ... 247lbs. field dressed!  This was the heaviest deer tagged in our area and was truly impressive.

One buck wasn't enough for the Caron family though and later that week Josh's brother and his brother's wife were both able to tag nice bucks on the same day.  That is the way hunting should be, with 3 family members getting deer over 200 pounds!  Unfortunately, this probably won't happen again for quite a while, but it is a nice picture!  Way to go Caron family!

Matt Collin also filled his tag and his freezer with a 202 pound 8 pointer.  He glimpsed this buck running through the woods as he was driving by.  He managed to stop and get a running shot on the buck, anchoring it with a solid shoulder hit.  He didn't make it too far, before he was able to catch up and deliver the final shot.  Congratulations Matt!
Bud Soucy pulled off some long range freehand shooting for his buck.  Spotting the buck about 250 yards up a skid trail in a block that had been harvested, he couldn't tell how large the antlers were, but could tell it wasn't a spike horn and made the split second decision before the buck bolted.  His shot was true despite the distance, and the buck dropped in his tracks.  Nice shooting Bud!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for more upcoming stories!  I haven't forgotten about some of the stories I promised and I will get to them, and I'll be writing some trapline stories soon too!