And A Strong Cup of Coffee

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Erin M
Erin M

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A decade of hunting bears

As the 2024 hunting season kicks off, I can not believe that it has been a decade of hunting bears in Maine! I remember planning the initial meeting at Cabela’s and inviting every hunter I knew in the greater Portland area.  I wanted to prove that there were plenty of people who were passionate about bear hunting in Southern Maine. If I remember correctly, the room was close to packed when James Cote started talking about the bear referendum and what the plan was to win at the ballot box.  I look back now and cannot believe it was 10 years ago! I had never hunted a bear.  I knew how to talk about the various methods but I had not experienced a hunt.  When that meeting ended, a bear hunter named Steve offered to teach me how to bear...

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Trail cameras bring early season excitement

I leave my trail cameras out all year long.  Photos of coyotes, deer, porcupines and racoons show up on my phone. But in the spring, those first trail camera photos of babies, cast off yearlings and bucks bring early season excitement to all of us.  There is a fun uncertainty of what animals will show up in the photos.  You don't have to be a hunter to enjoy getting a sneak peak into the woods around us. I think we can all enjoy the start of new life and new adventures.    

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Are you Fit to Hunt?

The last thing you want to think about when you are chasing animals through the woods, is if you can physically do it.  There are a lot of things that I can not control on each hunt but the one thing I can control was how healthy I am.  So, when I saw my name had been called for my moose permit in 2021, I called my friend Jeremy and started training. Jeremy owns and runs Fit to Hunt, an online training organization that works with people to meet their fitness goals. He has created a few training programs for me depending on what I was hunting.  My moose hunt focused on increasing my upper body strength so that I could hold my 7.5lb rifle steady without needing to rest it on a truck or steady stick. On the Wednesday of my hunt, things...

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Will constitutional amendments protect hunting?

When the International Order of Theodore Roosevelt met this spring in Arizona, they spoke about the need for constitutional amendments to help protect our hunting rights. They were focused on Florida and a few other states. I thought of New Jersey and their on again, off again bear hunt.  And I thought of a conversation that I was a part of following Maine’s win in the 2014 election to save our bear hunting methods. We wondered if a constitutional amendment would make sense to ensure we didn’t have to continually fight ballot initiatives.  The answer we were told was no. A no because it would be too expensive and it wouldn’t actually protect anything. A constitutional right to hunting and fishing means just that; we can participate in...

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Two big bucks in one day

I listened to the ravens, crows and turkeys fight over the morning's gut pile. I was still giddy about my success as I climbed into the treestand, almost within sight of the Sky Condo.  Motion to my right caught my eye and I saw a deer feeding on acorns. I lifted my rifle and peered through the scope, hopeful that I could punch my doe tag. My heart raced as I saw the antlers. I was looking at a buck as big or bigger than the one I had shot hours earlier.  Two big bucks in one day! I calmed myself down and swapped my scope for my binoculars and paused. The buck I was now looking at was a large spikehorn. Where had that big buck gone? Where had this buck come from?  Adjusting the binoculars, I saw the smaller buck make a circle and lay...

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The trick to hunting: always be learning

I have hunted deer for more than half my life. Every season is different and I learn or observe new things all the time. It is how you get better and more proficient. This season, the lesson blew my mind and will stick with me for every hunting season to come. During the 2022 season, I shot a doe on opening morning of rifle season. Maine hunters’ ability to shoot both a buck and a doe has allowed me to be more strategic about how I hunt.  I can focus on shooting a doe to put meat in the freezer and then hold out for a big buck. The first two weeks of the 2023 season were fantastic.  It was during the third week of the season that I learned something new about my rifle and ammo.  I grabbed three new 180 gain bullets as I headed out on...

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The end of my deer hunting goals

My phone showed 4am. There were photos from the cell cameras.  With one eye open, I started scrolling and saw one of the big bucks.  He had been in the same spot days earlier and had made a 5 hour loop.  I had 3 hours to get in my stand. I took two steps away from the truck and the world erupted around me.  The only thing louder than the crunching of deer running, was the beating of my heart. Several deep breaths later, I started back on the trail to the stand.  A few more steps and another deer jumped and ran.  Had it been the buck? I wasn't far from where we had been.  I passed by my camera at 5:05am; three hours since the buck had been there. Don't Do Rodents There is something about hearing mice scratching inches from my face that...

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New hunter shoots dream buck

I skim the hunting Facebook groups for photos of amazing deer during hunting season. My favorite are those of successful female hunters.  I love the photos of incredible deer that are what (almost) every hunter’s dreams of taking.  This past season, I found a female hunter with an incredible buck and a fantastic name! Erin McGraw grew up fishing and did not start deer hunting until just a few years ago.  She shot her first deer, a spikehorn in 2019 but took a year off  due to the birth of a baby. In 2021, Erin and her husband hunted but were never able to be in the right place at the right time. “It was a great year to practice still hunting,” Erin exclaimed, “It was a really cool experience to get more familiar with the woods around...

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The thrill of your first deer

Growing up in Millinocket, my friend Matt was surrounded by family members who were passionate hunters. He developed a deep love of the outdoors and exploring the woods and waters of Maine. But, like many kids, he became involved with school-related activities and the time he had for hunting and fishing dwindled. At 20, Matt put all of his time and energy into building his business.  His entrepreneurial drive left little time for activities like hunting. When COVID hit, his thriving business slowed down and Matt found himself with more free time.  It gave him the unexpected opportunity to get back to hunting and his love of the outdoors. “During that time, I formed a friendship with someone who really reignited my interest in hunting,”...

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