Southern Maine is Back!

10-16-17

When you find partridge in suitable habitat, there is no reason to leave birds to find birds. After Saturday’s outing I did an extensive Google Earth search and lo and behold I have been on the other entrance road before last December. It was great looking habitat even though our short hike there produced no flushes. Today I made it a goal to explore this piece and I’m sure glad I did.

The first thing we walked down the road until we came to the spot I shot the last grouse Saturday. This small peninsula sticking out into the swamp called me. Belle and I went in, a partridge came out wild. No shot.

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From here we backtracked and walked down every road that intersected this old thruway. Down one of the roads Google Earth showed a large opening. From the opening were multiple finger roads so this was the log yard they used. It held two more grouse. Only heard not seen. Boy has it grown up nice!

 

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On the way Belle got birdy and jumped into the bushes. A very small dove came flushing out. It could fly about three feet off the ground but that was it. Belle caught it and brought it to me. I’m thinking West Nile disease. We left it alive on the tote road

On our return trip from the log yard I saw it still in the road. It flushed up three feet and landed back in the woods. Belle didn’t see or smell it this time.  From here we walked back to the truck.

This is where I parked today. I had all intentions of walking this grown up road when we got back. Glad I did. There were two grouse on the right about as far down as you can see.

 

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I’m here to tell you to always pay attention when you are following a flushing dog.  As I walked through small pockets of this yellow spiked plant on the trail it was like shaking baby powder in the woods. I needed to know what it was later so I took my phone out to take a picture. That is when it all went wrong. A partridge got up and I stumbled and fumbled trying to get my gun up. I shot way behind it with the phone still in my hand.

Through a friend of mine I found out this is called  Lycopodium (Club Moss). I knew it as ground pine. These are the spikes they grow to release their spores. The powder was used as a flash point since it is so fine, very dense for it’s size and has a very high fat content. I have another date later this year with the Club Moss Grouse!

 

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Map my Tracks said our first hunt of the day was 5.48 miles and took 3 hours and 35 minutes. All flat land. We moved seven partridge. Three I saw, fired at two and walked out with an empty game bag. Best southern Maine hunt I’ve ever had and didn’t kill a thing.

We tried a couple easy coverts with no luck. I lost access to a 78 acre farm with probably 70 of those acres being old logging. When I requested permission to hunt this year the owner said he sold it. I asked for the new landowners name. The former owner said he sent him an email and if he chose to have me hunt he had my contact info.

No email. :(  So for our last hunt of the day we had to drive by one of my best woodcock spots at the farm. We headed down to Gillie’s 300 acres at the end of the road. A place I had permission to hunt in the past. Something wasn’t right. The rocks blocking the road were gone, the ditch was filled in and the road upgraded. Halfway down to the old home site dreaded Posted signs started appearing. Someone fixed the road through the brook. At the top of the hill I found out what. A popup camper, a bulldozer and a skidder. WTF? Not to mention posted signs. My last hunt of the day didn’t go as planned. But we still did 2.2 miles in 59 minutes and moved one unseen partridge. To add insult to injury as I passed the farm a partridge came out on the road. Stood for a minute laughing at me and then flushed back into the woods.

At the bottom of the hill at the first brook crossing a truck was coming the other way. I pulled over and signaled for them to continue. As we greeted each other I asked where he was going. He said….The Farm! I told him I knew the former landowner and asked about the email. Said he received it had even talked to the former owner but that it wasn’t discussed.

So naturally at this face to face I asked permission to hunt. Hallelujah! Permission granted.

Let’s see now Mr. Grouse who gets the last laugh.

Southern Maine is BACK!

 

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NH’s Great North Woods

10-05-17

Arrived at camp before lunch. Settled in then went hunting. Saw two road birds but nothing wearing out shoe leather. No feathers harmed.

Did see a very big black bear cross the road. It was so fat it jiggled when it ran.

 

10-06-17

New cover. My host asked me to check out a pond he wants to fish trout in. Put Google Earth to work and mapped out a plan. We weren’t too far up the trail when a partridge flushed wild to my right. I always check out the area out after a wild flush because you never know if there are more. Took one step in the woods and Belle stepped on a woodcock. I proceeded to track it with the barrel and missed it badly. First shot of the season didn’t go as planned.

We came to a split in the trail and Belle ran ahead and bolted left into the woods. I have learned when she does this, be ready. She put a grouse to flight. I heard it before I saw it erupt from the hedge heading straight at me. This shot was all instinct. And just like that we had our first grouse of the season, on the first shot at a grouse this season.

 

Glory!

 

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We put up three more partridge on the way out. I hit one, saw it fall, and we never found it. I bet we spent an hour looking. I hate that. :(

 

10-07-17

Went back to the scene of yesterday’s crime to look again. Nothing! But she did put up a double of grouse which flew into the woods instead of out to the road. I know where they live.

The rest of the day was spent hunting new covers above Colebrook. Found one I really liked. If it weren’t for GPS and a compass I’d probably still be in there.

 

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The reason I chose this spot was my host was up hare hunting and he wanted me to check out the cover. I didn’t flush a bird. But yet they went back here Sunday hare hunting and flushed three grouse. I’ll be back.

 

10-08-17

On and off again rain all morning. Weather app said by 11AM it would be sunny so I chose to wait to go. Got into some new cover around noon. You guessed it started pouring. Back to the truck, wait it out, sky turns blue, back on the hunt.

I said to self in the morning ‘usually the rain at the end of a front is the worst’ yet it was bird season and I wasn’t listening. Put up a woodcock, put down a woodcock. This is fun so I kept getting further from my truck.

I was on the side of a mountain when the end of the front came through. Sky turned as dark as a tornado. The wind came up and it was like emptying rain barrels in the forest. Hiding under trees getting wetter by the drop I eventually just said _____ it and walked back to the truck. I had all the essentials under my tonneau cover. In no time we were back at it. Put up two more woodcock, got one and Belle made a nice flush of a grouse my partner missed.

After the rain stopped the bird hunters came out of the woodwork. Three UTV’s went by us. We gave up for a more secluded area of which we saw four road birds, of which no feathers were harmed.

Great day in the Lord’s woods pursuing our passion. Life is good

 

10-09-17

Road trip south in the rain.

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Opening Day Uplands

10-01-17 Southern NH

Have been looking forward to this day and hunt since our journeys there last December. I whiffed on partridge every trip.

Was joined again today for another upland opener by my forester friend Steven. I chose the hunt and he mapped it out.

Somebody forgot to send the memo that they logged this country this summer. Deer and turkey tracks were all we found.

Decided to go down the mountain and hunt the lowland beaver ponds. There was no water on the mountain. Walked back down the road to the starting point and there was a truck there. Looked in the back, no crates. Looked on the back windshield of the cab and saw a Ruffed Grouse Society sticker. Since it was warming up, we had already put in over five miles we decided to each his own and walked back to our trucks. On the walk back we heard a dog bark from the hunters general direction.

Back at the trucks reminiscing and sipping on a cold drink we heard a truck coming. It was the other hunter. We had a great conversation. He was a generation older than I and spoke about hunting the 1950′s in NH. Said it was prime grouse time due to the forest regeneration from the Hurricane of 1938. One of the worst hurricanes to hit New England.

No birds were harmed today. Heck we didn’t even flush one, neither did he. Time to map out a new hunt.

But alas I do not despair. Going to camp in northern NH for a week, then off to the County for a week and then a first for this hunter a week in Downeast Maine

There will be plenty of flushes and stories to come.

To all…have a good season, hunt safe and take plenty of pictures.

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August Buggin’ and Bassin’

08-05-17
August already. You can tell by the water temps and the bug count. Half a pound a trap.
Last week a sea monster grabbed one of my traps. Wouldn’t let go. This week The buoy is gone. It was high tide so maybe it was under. Will check at low tide next week.
Lots of seals at Fox Point

 

08-12-17
I’ve got the Summer Time Lobster Blues. 18 traps, 5 keepers. One was a good size female, no notch. She has a notch now and is swimming free.
Caught this Comb Jelly (type of jellyfish) at Fox Point. The zipper pattern is their tentacles.

 

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The sea monster trap is gone. Buoy and all. That sucker was hungry. Second trap lost this summer.

08-17-17
The weather and tide cooperated tonight. First time fishing this month. It was good to smell the air change from inland to coastal when I got to Fox Point. Life’s little pleasures.

 

 

Drowned two eels, caught two stripers. Both 25″. Both released. Gotta be 28″ to keep. Even then I would have let them go. The fall bite is starting. These fish have a long ways to go to get back to there winter hangout in the Chesapeake Bay. Loading up on grub is their sole purpose.

 

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Saw a BIG seal at Sunk Ledge.

 

The tidal island at Adam’s Point was submerged when I started the Yamaha for the ride home across open bay. That means I can take the shortcut across the flats. In the fading light of day I saw the water boiling in front of the boat. In three and a half feet of water a school of micro bass were jumping out of the water like carp in the Midwest. Took a short video but my engine noise put them down.

 

Sunset on Great Bay looking at Newmarket/Durham, NH.

 

Life is good.

 

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Berried Female Lobster

07-29-17
First berried female lobster of the summer. Look at all those eggs. Note the V notch in her flipper. Lobstermen are required by law to V notch female lobsters with eggs. 2nd flipper in from the right with the lobster in an upright position. Notched or egg laden female lobsters cannot be possessed. They get the release of life to do what they do best. Make baby lobsters.

 

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This notch was not new though. I have been notching and releasing female lobsters in my trapping area this and past summers. My gift back to the resource. This female lobster shared the parlor with another barren V notched female lobster.

 

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Sportsmen and women are the true conservationist.

 

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Bay Striper

07-26-17

Good evening on Great Bay.
Surface water temps at Adam’s Point 68 degrees, half tide out. The stripers came out to play at dusk.

 

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Home Grown

No not the green leafy substance. Orange and brown with four legs.

 

07-18-17
While chopping the best field of hay on the property and as the uncut grass rows got slimmer and slimmer this doe stepped out of the woods when I got to the end of the row.

 

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By the time I made the turn she was all the way up to the uncut grass.

 

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Her behavior was unusual which led me to believe she had a fawn hidden in the grass. I tried to drive up and get her picture but she spooked, ran a short distance and stopped.

 

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I gave her the field back and warned her I would return tomorrow to finish mowing. As I retreated she came right back up to the uncut grass.

As I was about to leave I looked in the field behind the barn and two bucks stepped out. Long shot for a cell phone camera but if you look close you can see the antlers on the deer on the left.

 

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I took a walk in the woods where we reclaimed some apple trees in March. The crowns are fruit rich.
Jewel Weed or ‘Snap Dragons’ we call it as kids is the ground cover in the woods. Deer are browsing the leaves and the hollow, moisture laden, stocks. The red oak trees look to have abundant acorns forming.

 

Our habitat work is coming full circle. Thank you, Tim, for allowing us to farm for wildlife.

 

07-19-17
Saw the two bucks come out of the woods where we made an opening and took down the old fence this spring.
As I made the turn in the lower end of the northern field I looked up thirty yards on the hill and there were three deer standing there looking me over. The boldest was the spike buck. The two does stayed to the rear. Got a shaky video of them as I drove past.

 

The fields are done. That makes six whitetails to add to the inventory and the cameras still need to be put out.

 

Grass, apple and oak fed venison. My kind of home grown.

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Mental Health

07-11-17
No work, today was a mental health day. I always feel better when I’m on the Bay.
Three day check produced about twenty pounds. Usually I let the pots rest for a week but the bugs are crawling and I want every bait bag full.
The Jonah Crabs are out of control. They are pecking my bait bags dry in a day.
Took a friend of mine who hasn’t been OTW on Great Bay in over twenty five years. Sent him home with a meal.
Although he said the bugs were a very nice gesture he told me his time on the boat was priceless.

Somehow I already knew.

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Lobster Appreciation Day

07-08-17
Today is family, friends and landowner appreciation day. I don’t sell the bugs for money, I trade them. I saved most of last week’s catch (personal consumption got in the way). Along with today’s haul there were enough lobsters to make my rounds.

This year was very special. On my way to pick up the lobsters in my keeper car I saw my oyster farmer friend tending his flat. Moored my boat against his platform and lobsters were traded for oysters. I let him know his oysters were going to a couple who live on the shores of Great Bay. These two lovely people mentored me as my passion for this waterway grew. Both are getting up there in age. Tonging up oysters or digging a peck of clams is a little beyond their current stamina. But that never lessens the appetite. My visit was short and brief but nevertheless increased our friendship.  Thank you for all the upland bird hunting books. I love you Dick and Jane!

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A real joy I cherish is when I show up, most times unexpected, at this time of year, is the faces of those that are about to receive. Smiles from ear to ear. The way life should be. These simple gifts keep the doors open to hunting and fishing privileges on private land.

The dark skies to the west warned of an impending thunderstorm. Thought I had it beat until I pulled down our street and the heavens opened up. Got soaked from the truck to the back door it was raining that hard.

But I wasn’t done. There were still a few scattered clawed ones in the cooler so it was back outside for a second drenching to retrieve the booty.

After the storm passed so did the lobsters pass, right into the boiler. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for a bright sunny low humidity day. I see lobster rolls and a Great Bay boat ride in store.

Thank you Lord for thou art is blessed.

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Pease Greeters

Pease Greeters

A good friend of mine was given some rope that he has offered to me. He was suppose to drop it off last night but got called away.

His email said he was meeting a plane at 6:20 PM loaded with home bound American Troops.

http://www.peasegreeters.org/about.htm

So I went fishing. As I made my way across open Bay to the north I noticed a large plane coming into the Pease International Airport. I remembered Armand’s email and yup right on schedule here they came.

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Thank you Armand for your commitment to our troops.

And to our troops  ‘Thank you for your service’.

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