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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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Not what you want to see on the trail cameras

I missed seeing what was happening in the woods so I decided to put a couple of cameras back out to see what was roaming around. I am not a fan of this.  I have had pictures of this coyote for a while now and he (I assume it's a he) is always solo.  He's healthy and makes his rounds in the same area that we do during the season.  And I assume that he is the coyote that I saw while I was sitting in my stand last fall. Coyotes are a part of the woods and I get that but what I don't want to find are dead deer. This is the first time that I have had pictures of the two animals so close together (timewise and location-wise) Usually, I will get deer on the cameras, then he shows up and it takes 2-3 days before the deer return. We have not...

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We Need to Stop Feeding The Deer

I just hit a deer, do you want it? My neighbor sent me this text during her morning commute to work.  Had there been room in my freezer, I might have taken her up on it. I had done it before when I watched another driver hit another doe within 50 feet of where my neighbor was. It was the third deer hit that week in the same stretch of road. Why? A landowner is feeding them. A few years ago, I spoke with Maine IF&W’s then deer biologist about the impacts of feeding deer.  We talked about the risk of diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease getting into the herd and spreading so rapidly, because of the unnaturally large population being pulled into a small area.  We talked about the biological make-up of a deer’s stomach and how the...

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Stop Feeding the Deer

From the Heart

The emotions that go along with this are hard for any nonhunter to understand. There is a literal weight of an organ that earlier in the day, beat inside an animal and the figurative weight of choosing to kill an animal to fill your freezer. There is a dedication of always wanting to be better, to be ready for the right shot at the right moment. It’s spending money on gear, clothing and licenses every year. It’s packing up and heading into the woods, when it’s dark and coming out when it’s dark, day after day, hoping to get your chance. It’s appreciating the animal’s sacrifice and having a moment to give thanks before the work begins. Knowing that this animal will feed your family and friends for the year ahead. It’s not something a...

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Snow and deer hunting: like peanut butter and jelly

I am a sucker for the snow.  If there is a snow storm coming or even the threat of a snow squall, I am in the woods. Two years ago, I stood in a snow storm Dad shot a nice 8 pointer and later that season, I shot my own buck in such a heavy snow squall that we couldn't initially find the buck minutes after I shot him because his tracks were covered in snow. On Wednesday morning, the snow was predicted to arrive between 9am-1pm.  I was not moving from my stand.  Something would be coming out to eat before the storm.  I just had a feeling. The world was quiet when I settled into the Sky Condo. I heard a snap off to my left and while my initial thought was deer, there were no additional steps. As the sky lightened, I heard something...

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I got buck blocked

About an hour into my sit, I heard steps coming towards my stand.  It was a beautiful morning and my heart skipped a beat with the idea that a deer might finally be headed my way.  Trail camera photos showed my last remaining target buck during daylight at that stand, so I was hopeful. But as it got closer, I heard purrs, clucks and chirps. The steps turned into one big mass of noise and soon, like a movie, the woods were nothing by black blobs moving towards me. They set up in a shooting lane, eating acorns and moving closer, essentially blocking me in my stand.  The flock would see me move and spook before I would have a chance to move my gun into a position to get a deer.  I was stuck and they were coming closer. When they got bored...

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I got buck blocked by turkeys

Nocturnal Northern Borealis

My trail camera sent me a picture of a big, wide 6 pointer that was in the area where I was headed.  I wondered how far he might have traveled between then and when I would be in the woods. It was an off morning.  My son wanted to hunt but was complaining about his extra layers of clothing and how tight it made his boots.  I had on 3 of my 5 layers (remember, I sit for hours and hours!) and was rushing to get him out of the door along with packing all of my stuff.  I knew as soon as I walked outside that I was in trouble.  I was sweaty. I walked to the same stand as I had sat in last week and again, I jumped a deer.  It was dark and I tried to listen to figure out how far and in which direction the deer was moving. When I reached the...

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Nocturnal Northern Borealis

Was that a flag?

Week two of rifle season was completely different than week one.  I changed stands and jumped a deer as soon as I got into the woods.  I've been hunting for almost half of my life now and for the first time, as I walked into the woods alone, the sound of something so close that I could not see did not send my heart beating out of my chest.  Instead, I listened to see if I could keep it from running too far away by slowly continuing on to my stand. It was warmer than the week before which meant sitting for 12 hours would be much more bearable. I settled into the stand quieter than I normally do, knowing that the deer was not too far away. There was a slight breeze coming from behind me and I shifted a few inches to use the wall to block...

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Chronic Wasting Disease in Maine

If you had asked everyone in the room to vote right then and there, I would bet that supplemental feeding of deer would have been made illegal. The room was packed with people at the Augusta Civic Center, listening to a presentation by Dr. Krysten L. Schuler, Wildlife Disease Ecologist at Cornell Wildlife Health Lab about her research on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and what is being done in the 26 states currently impacted. CWD is caused by a mutated protein that are found in prions. Deer shed prions through bodily fluids and once in the soil, CWD can stay there for months if not years.  The worst spreaders of the prions are those big, adult bucks that we all covet. CWD is fatal and in the same family as Mad Cow Disease. The...

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