Bear HuntingConservationHunting Tips and TricksWomen Who Hunt

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...

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ConservationHunting in MaineMaine HuntersMaine OutdoorsWildlife ConservationWomen Who Hunt

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...

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Adventures in the WoodsHunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine OutdoorsTree Stand HuntingWhitetail DeerWomen Who Hunt

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?...

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Hunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine HuntersTree Stand HuntingWhitetail DeerWomen Who Hunt

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...

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Adventures in the WoodsHunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine OutdoorsTree Stand HuntingWhitetail DeerWomen Who Hunt

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...

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Adventures in the WoodsHunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingWhitetail DeerWomen Who Hunt

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...

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Adventures in the WoodsEating Wild GameHunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine HuntersWhitetail Deer

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....

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Hunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine HuntersMaine OutdoorsTrail Camera ViewsWildlife Conservation

Should trail cameras be illegal?

Seven trail cameras with my name on them are strategically placed on our property. Most I keep out year round to track which animals are moving through.  Once deer hunting season gets closer, Dad puts his cameras up and we have a pretty good idea of which animals are around and who thinks they can trespass on our land and not get caught. But in recent months, more states have banned the use of trail cameras questioning their use and wondering if trail cameras should be illegal? The cameras have helped us know which animals are around but, they have not helped me shoot an animal. It doesn’t guarantee me a successful hunt. It can be more...

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Checking trail cameras
ConservationHunting in MaineHunting Tips and TricksMaine MooseMaine OutdoorsWildlife Conservation

What you want to know but are afraid to ask your guide

When I was drawn for my moose permit, I hired a guide to help. My friend John Floyd is a Registered Maine Guide and the owner of Tucker Ridge Outdoors in Webster Plantation, Maine. After talking about what I wish I had known and what he wished his clients knew, we decided to publishour conversation. Here we discuss thoughts, questions and concerns about hiring a guide. EM: A moose hunt can be an expensive hunt. There are a lot of things that can factor into the week you spend in the woods.  I didn’t realize how much the entire hunt would be. Do you think a lot of hunters understand the costs? JF: Winning a Maine moose permit for most is...

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Adventures in the WoodsHunting in MaineMaine HuntersMaine MooseMaine OutdoorsWildlife Conservation

What to bring on a moose hunt

Congratulations! You won a moose permit.  Now, the work begins. Assume you are going to spend six days in the woods and choppings of Maine.  Those hours away from camp are spent searching and walking and driving.  It might not sound as exhausting as it was but…you are toast at the end of the day. In order to be as parepared as possible, here are the things that I packed for my hunt: Too many clothes. I packed every piece of hunting clothing I owned. I packed more socks than I could ever wear over the course of 6 days. The weather was sunny and beautiful, cold and breezy and we had a full day of rain. Moose move in all weather. You need...

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ConservationHunting in MaineMaine OutdoorsWhitetail DeerWildlife Conservation

The awe of a fawn

Last August, I had the opportunity to get a fawn that had been hit by a car. I called the warden, got a tag and it was off to the taxidermist. Maybe a little morbid, but unless you are willing to use a tag to shoot a fawn, there are few ways to aquire the young deer. This week, I brought it home to my office. The woman who did the taxiermy work did an incredible job on the fine details. The fawn's eyes, lashes, ear hair and whiskers are exact. It is amazing to look at the small body and the characteristis and then look at the buck above it and the changes and simularlities. The fawn was about two months old and his pedicals were just...

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ConservationEating Wild GameHunting in MaineMaine Black BearMaine HuntersMaine MooseWomen Who Hunt

The best wild game dinner

Hunters are always asked if they eat the animals that they hunt.  Bear is one of the most asked about animals. After I accomplished my grand slam, I offered to host a wild game dinner for people to try some of the meat that I had hunted.  My friend, Candace agreed to be my chef.  The result was some of the best wild game dishes I have ever eaten. Candace and I picked out the cuts that I had and built our menu around that.  It was an incredibly hot day here in Maine, so that altered a few of our plans.   Here was our menu: Apps - Cheese, crackers, pickled fiddleheads, sauteed moose heart with onions, BBQ moose heart flatbread topped...

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Hunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine HuntersWhitetail DeerWomen Who Hunt

The shot that will haunt me

In December 2021, my grandfather passed away. Weeks before, I jumped him when I came bursting into his house to tell him and my Grammie that I had shot a buck and had completed my Grand Slam. He laughed at my overzealousness but hugged me and told me how proud he was of me.  We made a deal hours before he passed away that he was going to deliver me an 8 point buck since I have yet to shoot one.  I held on to that belief all through the year. Dad and I obsessed over trail cam photos throughout the summer and fall, we had three really nice bucks showing up.  They all seemed to be nocturnal, but they were around.  Fast forward to the start...

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Hunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine HuntersTree Stand HuntingWhitetail DeerWildlife ConservationWomen Who Hunt

I am done shooting small bucks

It was an emotional rollercoaster of a season.  All I wanted was an eight point buck.  I will save the story for another time, but it didn’t happen. But what did happen changed my whole perspective on deer hunting. After twenty years of hunting, I am done shooting small bucks. I shot my doe in the first hour of rifle season, so having the ability to shoot a doe AND a buck gave me the opportunity to keep hunting and looking for that big buck.  I could sit and watch more of the does and fawns at different spots on the property.  One morning, I watched a fisher running around my stand.  I enjoyed being in the woods, knowing that I had a...

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Hunting in MaineMaine Deer huntingMaine OutdoorsTrail Camera ViewsWhitetail Deer

This is why my land is posted

And will stay that way. Years ago, I had my first negative run in with another hunter. Since then, we have posted all of our land and we have added to the number of trail cameras that we have out in the woods. Sometimes we see vehicles driving into our food plot.  In that case, I send the photos to a local police officer who finds out who the license plates are registered to. We have seen random people show up on the trail cameras almost every year. This year, we had them again and it’s getting a little old.   Trespasser 2022 I sat in my stand at the end of deer season this year with my phone vibrating constantly in my pocket.  When...

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Maine Deer huntingMaine HuntersTree Stand HuntingWhitetail DeerWomen Who Hunt

Fastest deer tag ever

I was relieved to see my name on the list of people who had received doe tags in the lottery.  There were so many doe on our trail cameras that it seemed likely that we would be successful. But, as opening day got closer and closer, illness struck my household and I was the last person standing without a tissue or cough drops in my pocket. In my attempt to ‘quarantine’ myself, I packed up and headed north. My watch read 32 degrees when Dad and I snuck into the woods. At a fork in the trail, Dad paused and waited for me to get into the Sky Condo before he continued on. I flicked off my headlamp and watched his light disappear around the...

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Adventures in the WoodsEating Wild GameHunting in MaineWildlife Conservation

A breakthrough in PFAS research?

Last fall, an email hit my inbox alerting me that I might be hunting deer in an area that Inland Fisheries & Wildlife had flagged as a ‘do not eat’ area because of the high levels of PFAS found in the several deer that biologist had killed in the area. I've written before about the severity of PFAS and how devastating it could be. We have not heard much follow up since that time. I wonder if the area that was closed off will continue to be.  Will there be more locations flagged as ‘do not eat’ areas?  I am surprised that there has not been anything published that would give hunters an idea about if they should stick to their home...

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Adventures in the WoodsHunting in Maine

The stories that stick

When I started writing for the Northwoods Sporting Journal, I had people reach out and share their stories and experiences in the woods. I would mark the emails and tuck them away to go back to every once in a while.  A couple of those stories have stuck with me since they first popped into my email years ago. Camp in Rangeley The first was following an article about fishing that I had written. I can’t remember if I commented about wanting to own a camp or not, but I received an email from a man who reached out on behalf of his grandfather. The family had a cabin outside of Rangeley.  They lived in Connecticut and were at a point where...

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Hunting in MaineMaine OutdoorsUncategorized

PFAS vs CWD: which will be more devastating?

Social media erupted and my inbox was suddenly flooded with emails about PFAS (Poly-fluoroalkyl substances).  On Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 5:22 PM, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife issued a “DO NOT eat advisory” for deer shot in my wildlife management zone.  It was 2.5 weeks after I had shot my deer and about two weeks after I had gotten it back from the butcher and started eating it.   PFAS My actual hunting property was outside of the advisory area. However, as more fields are tested, there is an impending doom that I will be in a PFAS zone.  And other hunters will be in the same situation.  When and if...

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