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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 specific buck that I was after and that I had already put meat in the freezer. This season was more of...

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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 corner.  For all I know, the deer stood there and watched us split up because just when Dad started...

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Reflecting on my 2021 grand slam

When I was drawn for my moose tag, I set the goal of going for my grand slam. I needed a bear, moose, turkey and deer between September and November.  Now, the hunting season is over and I find myself reflecting on my 2021 grand slam and the people who helped to make it happen. Mom and Hubs managed childcare/school pick ups and drop offs and sometimes full days of babysitting so that I could be in the woods. Jeremy at Fit To Hunt went to work and helped me customize a training program that would get me into shape for walking through the Maine woods to get my moose.  I would load weights into my backpack and walk for miles.  Sometimes with the kids and sometimes alone. When it came time to hike those choppin's looking for a moose, I was...

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The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund board

Last week, I went in front of the joint committee of the Environment and Natural Resources to provide testimony for my nomination to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund board.  The only other time I had done this was when I testified in favor of Judy becoming Commissioner. This time, the Governor was nominating me. One of her representatives introduced me and then I had the opportunity to say a little about me. You can watch the hearing by clicking here. Joe's introduction of me begins around the 7 minute marker.  My testimony is below. My Testimony Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  My name is Erin Merrill and I am here to say a few words about my nomination to the Maine...

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The buck that completed my grand slam

It was 21 degrees when we headed into the woods. I just needed a deer to complete my grand slam. I had a doe tag and was eager to get into my stand. The leaves were crunchy with frost but the woods were calm.  I climbed into the Sky Condo and waited for the world to awaken.  Almost immediately, animals started moving.  I sat perfectly still, my breath hidden by my green fleece balaclava.  It was almost an hour before I could see well enough into the woods to know if I was hearing deer or squirrels (it was squirrels). A deer blew from the end of the field.  Something must have spooked it.  The neighbor? I knew that if I was going to change seats, this would be the time.  Nothing had come into the field.  I grabbed my gear and walked as...

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Redemption during our 2021 Moose Hunt

It had been an emotional start for our 2021 Maine moose hunt.  But we pushed on and had three more days before the season ended.  Wayne was determined to find us a moose somewhere in Zone 2.   Thursday It was rainy and cold when we headed out.  The two bulls from the day before had not been shot so we planned to head back to that area. We met a red truck parked where we had seen the small spike bull.  We drove on to where we had seen the bigger bull.  There was a cow in the clear-cut to our right.  We parked the truck and Pat and I started walking into the woods. Dad and Wayne walked parallel to us in the road.  Moose sign was everywhere.  But the moose were not.  We left and checked multiple roads where we had previously called...

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My 2021 Maine Moose Hunt

Antlered. September. Zone 2. That is what popped up with my name as I watched the 2021 Moose Lottery.  The excitement was accompanied with an urgency to begin planning.  We would need a guide and possibly more gear. I wanted to plan to go for my grand slam and try for all of Maine's big game animals - a bear, moose, turkey and deer. The following three months flew by and before we knew it, Dad and I were making the 5 hour drive up to the Allagash, Zone 2 and Allagash Adventures to meet our guide Wayne Bernier, for our 2021 Maine moose hunt.   Monday We left at daybreak to begin searching for moose.  As we crested one hill, Wayne stopped the truck and lifted the binoculars.  There were two moose on the edge of the road ahead of...

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Bear hunting can be exhausting

I need to start by thanking my friend Staci and her husband for making this happen. They helped to get the bait site up and running.  Staci was as determined as I was to get me a bear. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a hunting partner like her!   The 2021 Bear Hunting Season kicks off! My limited view of the bait site Bear hunting season opened on Monday, August 30th, and trapping season opening on Wednesday, September 1st.  With my trapping license and Staci and John’s help, I planned to initially hunt over bait and try trapping.  The first night with the traps out, we watched as a bear tripped my trap, looked at the cable and walked away. The next afternoon, Staci and I headed out to reset the trap and sit.  We adjusted...

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Getting Fit to Hunt

If you follow me on social, then you know I have been training with Jeremy Koerber at Fit to Hunt to ensure I am ready to hike into a choppin' miles from a dirt road in search of a moose.  I know that I don't need to do that. I know that there are people who are overweight that get out of the truck and shoot.  That's not the hunt I want - although if the opportunity arises, I will shoot.  A moose is a moose and meat fills the freezer.  But, I don't want to be physically exhausted and sore after one day of carrying a pack and hunting the North Maine Woods. Jeremy created a program specifically for me that involves rucking (hiking with weights), cardio and free weights. Tim Kjellesvik is coaching me with the nutritional piece of it and...

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