|The view from the ice shack...|
After unloading my entire arsenal of hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear including my extra dogsled, the Rabid Outdoorsman strutted down the stairwell and offered the traditional day late dollar short question, “you need any help buddy”? Aside the fact that I know he waits that certain amount of time like a hunter waits for a shot deer to expire, he mumbled some lame excuse why he had not been down sooner. I believe that he may eventually run out of viable mitigating circumstances to aide one in need.
Once settled, I offered my Christmas present to make up for the one I had consumed over winter break in hopes that he’d forget how much I enjoyed his present. The GSI Bugaboo Back Packer was in my opinion an excellent choice for my friend who honestly has a fine collection of all things outdoors. He seemed somewhat pleased and explained how this would replace his current cooking system that he had stolen from his brother. At least now, Matt Diesel can know the whereabouts of the gear he’s been looking for for over two years now. In return, Rabid proudly displayed a hand woven duck call lanyard that he formed out of parachute cord. I look forward to using this next season and do appreciate the fact he spent two hours making something for me, especially since he hasn’t finished one for his brother.
With all proper ceremonial circumstances aside, Rabid suggested we sneak out on the half moon to see if we could garner a coyote. This suggestion in all actuality formed from the fact that his mother-in-law was watching her soap operas DVR style in the guest room and would not be finished until late. Translation, either go out and do something or stay inside and listen to a series of spun half-truths and tales of pious humor. I had not planned on night hunting nor did I purchase my permit, however I agreed to venture into the woods for a nightcap of coyote on ice as an observer.
Overlooking a frozen beaver flowage, the moonlit expanse proved agreeable to spotting and potentially acquiring a coyote. After the first series of wounded rabbit calls on the remote electronic call, a chilling response from multiple coyotes resonated the frozen landscape. I’ll have to admit, a sense of excitement won over the effort to stay warm while motionless.
The game continued, but the response from the hunted faded into nothingness. I surmised that either 1) they were gone or 2) getting to that point where I should be seeing some action.
No sooner than I had started thinking about the what next, a mass of coyote calling startled me with an instant charge of adrenaline exactly like when the dominant buck resorts to aggressive grunting and is clearly on your way. As I felt the heart pumping and I maintained an effort to settle my breathing, Steve leaned over and informed me that the last coyote series “was him on the call”. I’ll admit, the call had me convinced or better yet, fooled. Shortly after, Steve shared some advice he took from an old hunter about when the coyotes start off with howls and yelps, they’ve picked up something wrong. Since the response came from where we had entered, they knew that tonight’s offering must have been too good to be true. After almost two hours, we conceded and made the trek back to base camp.
The next morning proved colder pushing temperatures around minus five degrees, but this morning would not be futile. We readied the four wheeler and pushed out towards the same spot as the night before. Our plan would be different than of the evening as Steve placed a motion woodpecker decoy near the remote call. Without hesitation, I loaded the rifle and prepared for the possibility of adding something new to my experience list.
As the sun broke over the trees, I noticed that with every exhale the moisture was freezing leaving a glimmer that would then float downward. There was no question, this was cold, very cold. In order to be best prepared for this morning, effective layering with wool and down feathers helped repel the continual cold while my hands and feet were hidden in leather mittens and Arctic Sport Muck Boots. With extra assistance of HeatMax hand and toe warmers, the chill did not win.
Although no coyotes came during our tenure on the flowage, I did happen to watch an owl literally swoop onto the game call, retreat onto a close limb, and watch the decoy with interest. After almost two hours time, we forfeited the hunt and began discussing the ice fishing odds.
For us to make into the lake, we would have to hike for at another 15-20 minutes in, set up, and still be quite some time from base camp. At the temperatures we were playing with, I suggested we wheel back to the house and figure out another plan and warm up.
As my rifle acclimated to the temperature in the basement, I could help but notice it was covered with a film of frost. I’ve seen when metal will evaporate water quickly after being run under hot water, but I have never really witnessed the opposite. It would take some time for the Ruger to thaw out.
We opted to find a lake where we could fish from our trucks preferably at a landing, still catch some decent fish, and minimize our efforts. Our choice was Lake St. George in Liberty, Maine which has several restrictions including a two trap limit, one salmon which must be 16 inches long. Typically salmon can be kept at 14 inches and usually you can use five traps. Without argument, we accessed the lake by the state park and commenced fishing.
|First flag on the Hello Kitty tip up...|
Although cold, the day wasn’t severe. We checked our traps fairly often and talked about everything imaginable. After one flag at our furthest tip up, I chose to move the other two out which only resulted in the furthest one in scoring the salmon to Steve.
|16 inch salmon on flag number two...|
In all, I enjoyed the experience although I personally put no points on the board but then again that’s why they call it hunting not shooting & fishing not catching.