Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dock Disaster...

One of my more "not much is going on in the spring" posts, but nevertheless a happening in my life... In the works are the BB Gun Blast and the Skunk at Tunk... stay tuned...


There are things in life we don't realize and I took my father-in-law for granted.  It's been almost two years since he passed, but often I get reminded about how much he did around the house, yard, and camp.  Taking over some of the responsibilities in order to help out my mother-in-law is not the problem, I would say the time on top of my already loaded schedule forces the hardship.  Needless to say that I won't whine or refuse assistance to the mom-in-law, but Papa's shoes aren't necessarily easy to fill...

The dock which has served so well met a fate fostered by neglect and nature...

The first weekend of vacation put my family further down east as I took advantage of some decent weather to accomplish some mini-tasks for Nana.  In addition, a ride to the camp was on the docket for I knew that the dock had been smoked during the winter season.  My hope was to reset, repair, and catch a trout before sundown.  Yep, I knew better...
 
With the dock came down the steps and if you look closer, the porch had dropped some...


In the past, it would be brought out in the fall and returned in the spring.  However, illness & time available prohibited any action these past few years and the dock weathered the ice season, especially last year's early ice out.  Intention and planning were not friendly in terms of the dock while mother nature took steadfast action on the aging dock.  To make matters worse, it was not intended to be a permanent dock.  Plans had always been discussed about dropping in a more durable structure.

To no surprise, the dock put in place when I first met my wife begged for demolition.  So I donned the 1600 Cabelas waders with a hammer and jumped into the 38 degree water.  After several hours of patience and no fish on for my oldest, we agreed that it was time to get back to Nana's.  The dock officially was no more but the waders earned a gold star approval.

The basic frame with a quick deck alignment, leveling still needed...


That following Monday, I purchased the necessary materials and built the frame at home.  The next day earned a delivery and prompt set up.  Two days later, I returned to level the frame, secure the posts, and repair the steps.  Then I decided while I had time, the north porch needed to be jacked up and new posts added.  The vacation was getting by me, but with no dock there would be no fun this summer once lobstering takes over every spare second.  Finally, I ordered the planking which waits for this weekend where camp, trout, and relaxation are the items on the list.

The porch, steps, and dock all leveled.  Planking and rails on the next trip...


The dock should have been taken out; I know that but after investing time, money, and energy into this one, I will not forget Papa's dedication to the camp and be sure this dock doesn't become the next victim in the war against time.


Thanks for reading,


The Downeast Duck Hunter

Monday, April 25, 2011

A challenge and a BB gun...

During my April vacation, I was chatting with my friend Trey Luckie of Brave Eagles Hunt with Antique Brownings about writing topics.  It would be fair to say that I told him that my daughter who had never shot a BB gun in her life would be a natural marksman.  After all, she is the future Downeast Duck Girl and an excited participant in all of life's good adventures.

This bold statement's fruition came after reading his post about going on a camping retreat with his son which included target competition with BB guns.  I decided that the old Red Rider needed to be pulled out of the box, oiled, and loaded up for for some practice.  This topic will be more inclusive in a few days once I get my laptop back, but for now here's my daughter showing Trey Luckie how it's done. 


video

Have a great day
The Downeast Duck Hunter

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guest Column: Dennis Perry of Rising Sun Outfitters

 One of the key players in my efforts to become a Registered Maine Guide just happens to be an accomplished guide himself.  Dennis Perry of Rising Sun Outfitters deserves much credit for his leadership, tutoring, and support in an almost daily correspondence of question & answer, preparation, and perspective.  Although we have only accompanied each other in the field sparingly, I do look forward to the days ahead chasing down a brook trout or dropping a committed black duck.  The most impressive quality I've determined is that Dennis might be one of the most passionate sportsmen I've ever encountered with an outdoor aptitude that will certainly impress.  Spend an hour with this guy, you'll know what I mean. 

Dennis Perry, Registered Maine Guide
This column is in response to my previous two post concerning DIFW commissioner Chandler Woodcook's visit to Washington County.


Please comment on your thoughts concerning the meeting.

I had a pretty good feeling when I left last night and that Chandler Woodcock has sparked some positive "new life" within the department.  I believe that he will be a man that will listen to someone if they call and return a call if he is unavailable.  It’s nice that he is a fellow sportsman as well and understands the thoughts and wants of sportsmen.


There was a lot of talk about the deer population crash.

In the end, yes we have a deer problem in Washington County.  I think that the season should be shortened so the deer don't have to look over their shoulders from October 1st until the 2nd week of December.

I think that the state needs to continue the fight and get coyote snaring back with firm rules on this practice.  However, this needs to be limited to trained Animal Damage Control agents or appropriate state authorities.  No one wants to hear about snaring coyotes, but it is the most effective means to control or stabilize a population.  Coyotes are like mosquitoes, we will never be able to get rid of them but my mosquito magnet makes things a lot better at my house.  I have noticed in 3 years of running the mosquito magnet, my mosquito population has significantly decreased. I think that the coyote population would have a similar effect if we increase our efforts to control the coyote.


Do we put too much expectation on DIFW?

I don't think that we as sportsman can shoulder or push all the blame on the department, and that each and every sportsman has a choice right now to lay off the younger bucks during deer season.  Again, it is a conscious decision that each one of us has to make until there are some new regulations. 


What can we as sportsmen do to help the problem?

I think that it is important to take a look at the future of deer hunting in Maine and there is a lack of young hunters getting hooked on deer hunting.  You can't go and shoot what we don't have right now.  I think that kids get discouraged and eventually lose interest.

There was a lot of talk about coyote predation from game management, increased seasons, and reinstating old practices to reduce the coyote population.  What’s you mind on the issue?

I think that one of the people had a good thought with delisting the coyote as a fur bearing animal. That's a good start. We should be able to trap them year round and be able to shoot them year round at night.  I believe that a bounty on them complicates issues and would probably stir more strife from anti-hunters. That is something that we don't need.

It was said several times that the bear population is one species that has increased in population and also that bear prey on newborn deer.  In addition, it was suggested to increase the bear limit to 2 bear per fall season.  Any thoughts?

I like the idea being tossed around with 2 bears per hunter. I believe that a lot of people will see the benefits from this. The State will see it from increased fees and guides will certainly see the benefit with hunters knowing that they can come to Maine for an opportunity to hunt two bears. Gas stations, grocery stores, sporting goods stores, restaurants and others will see a greater economic benefit. It is quite likely that this will be a win-win for everyone.


Throughout the meeting, what stood out most for you?

In the end, I was most impressed with the local guides and sportsmen in the Grand Lake Stream area that took the bull by the horns and locked up thousands of acres of habitat for sportsman through the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.  That certainly was not easy, but if 14 dedicated people can do it than I think that leaders in Augusta could and should learn from this model plan and expand from there.


It was suggested that firms such as Old Town Canoe, L.L. Bean, and Cabelas could play key roles in addressing the problems cited during the meeting.  Is it feasible to consider this and what may be ways for these companies to contribute especially within the realm of predator control?

I believe that L.L. Bean and Cabelas may be in a position to assist the state of Maine in promoting predator control through effective hunting practices. These companies are the "Big Two" in Maine and it seems that maybe they could put on seminars for the general public by professional predator hunters.  It may be possible that the two companies could give a donation of some sort towards predator control.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Positive Experience...

My truest intentions did not collaborate with my actions last night when I attended the Pleasant River Rod & Gun Conservation Association annual meeting in Columbia Falls.  Although a camera, notebook, pen, and an inspired attitude towards a feeble attempt at journalism were on the docket, the night became more of a learning experience.  Simply put, if I were to try to document anything during the two hour discussion then I would be forfeiting one fine learning opportunity.  So without one picture and some worthwhile notes, the following narrative highlights my experience with the Commissioner of DIF&W Chandler Woodcock, Executive Director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine Matthew Dunlap, and the fifty or so people of broad experience and influence.

Captain Dennis Perry of RSO
As I entered the gym I caught up with Dennis Perry, a fellow Maine Guide who is a top gun for Rising Sun Outfitters.  After some prodding, Dennis has agreed to submit a guest column about his thoughts about the meeting.  In addition, I wrote a post on the DEDH blog a few years ago when he invited me to attend a duck hunt which became a fine opportunity to honor his fine retriever, Lexi.  Click Here

We shot the bull for a few minutes and was introduced to another guide Matt Whitegiver who you may have read about over at the Maine Outdoorsman.  Matt owns the Wilderness Lodge and runs the Eagle Mountain Guide Service.  Shortly thereafter, we took our seats and the meeting began.

Rather than receive two coordinated speeches, the men after being introduced quickly brought the conversation to the audience.  They filtered throughout the crowd and took every question cast with the intent to merge the ideas at the state level into the reasoning of the crowd.  It became quite apparent that much needs to be done but without input, effort, and reflection no progress can be made.  So here's the talking points from my perspective...

The bulk of the meeting focused primarily on the deer population including coyote, bear, and habitat management. 

Talk dominated the night ranging from the fathoming of why the stock is in the state of collapse, plans to address the problem, and efforts to support a greater whitetailed deer population.

Within the forum, ideas such as a deer stamp to fund greater action for deer research, habitat protection (wintering yards), and predator control were weighed against the stance that asserting yet another fee without clearly allocating the funds with a distinct purpose had the sportsmen wary.  Other topics raised were a shorter or closed season, year round trapping for coyote, a second bear permit within the scope of the regular season, spring bear hunting season, and limiting the harvest of quality deer yards that land owners may not even know exists albeit the massive cutting of the woods.

The conversation went in a variety of ways as both the commissioner and executive director handled each and every comment or question with a forthright and committed demeanor.

In terms of my participation, I felt compelled to seriously learn more about the coyote issue.  Having lived on an island my entire life and never once seeing a coyote, I became a passive observer.  With no input on this heavy issue, I sat back and appreciated the ideas, comments, and questions all offered within the two hour time frame.

My only contribution was in closure as I inquired whether or not the commissioner would be marketing his trademark bow tie with DIF&W logos.  I feel it got quite a chuckle out of the audience, but I also took the time to publicly thank everyone for what I considered a highly worthwhile evening.

Much thanks goes out to the PRRGCA for hosting this event, and I appreciate the willingness of all parties to partake in the forum.

As the commissioner so well stated, "The natural resources of Maine are precious and we (meaning each and every person) must do something meaningful for the future generations of Maine." and I feel that no one left the meeting without a sense of betterment and anticipation of a positive effort to ensure the great outdoors remains just that.

Stay tuned for my next installment on this meeting featuring Dennis Perry of Rising Sun Outfitters.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

DIFW comissioner to head downeast...

The Pleasant River Fish & Game Conservation Association will be holding it's next meeting at the town office gymnasium in Columbia Falls on April 11th at 7:00 p.m. 
At this venue, the association will be hosting Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and the Sportman's Alliance of Maine executive director, Matthew Dunlap.  Both men have been invited to speak at this event and the public is invited to attend.
Chandler Woodcock was the Republican challenger in 2006 for the Maine governorship and lost in that three party race to incumbent John Baldacci by 8 percent.  Commissioner Woodcock's nomination came from newly elected governor, Paul LePage.   

Chandler Woodcock of Maine DIFW      photo courtesy of the Portland Press Herald


As a new member of the PRFGCA, I sincerely look forward to attending and having the opportunity to meet the new leader of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and thank all of those who have been able to make this opportunity happen.

The new town office is located at the former Columbia Falls Elementary School.


Take care and hope to see you there,


The Downeast Duck Hunter

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Change... not this year...

There are several bills that deal with Sunday hunting opportunities and I expect each and every one of them get defeated for a variety of reasons.

Here are the bills where you can link to the exact literature.

LD #749, An Act to Allow Sunday Hunting in Northern Maine
LD #810, An Act to Allow Hunting on Sunday in Certain Wildlife Management Districts
LD #906, An Act to Allow Sunday Hunting for Small Game and Wild Birds
LD #910, An Act to Allow Hunting on Sunday for Landowners

There are also some efforts to move towards reverse posting of land.

LD #223, An Act to Require Written Permission for Recreational Access to Cropland, Pastureland, and Orchards.
LD#559, An Act to Protect Owners of Private Property Against Trespass.

The reverse posting efforts listed above may change the game to deal with the few irresponsible hunters that ruin the privilege of land access.  However, if these were to be passed then I'd strongly expect Sunday hunting to be enacted.

In Maine almost all access takes place on privately owned property, however landowners are not liable for any injury.  Click Here for Landowner Liability.  This argument concerning Sunday hunting may be that many landowners who currently allow access for hunting will begin posting their property.  So does our state allow Sunday hunting and chance losing access to land, or does our state allow tougher restrictions for land access, or does our state do nothing and keep things the same?

I believe little action will be taken on either side and things will remain the same.  In tough times and much anger being cast from both sides of the aisle, maybe it would be practical to accept the times for what they are. However it seems when I resist change I'm always wrong, and when I support change I'm always wrong.  So, as for the potential of doing something I love a few extra Sundays a year, we'll see if hope prevails but I'm not at a point where I want to lose more than what I've already got...

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day- Downeast Duck Hunter Style

Mahoney... my best man...

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year... Mark Twain

As I sit here this morning enjoying the April Fools Day snowstorm in Maine I had to do it...

My best man, Mahoney, is mad at me...

Once again I’ve managed to dupe him for April Fools Day, but I’ve got a better one to share.  Before I get to the monumental mockery, today's prank ought to be disclosed for it surprisingly did work.  Here’s the link and then I’ll get to the goods.  On the link there will be a green button you need to click on to play the recording.  It's just above the share on Facebook button.

Prank call on Mahoney

I’ve known Mahoney since the fall of 1995 when we lived in the same dorm at the University of Maine.  It was natural we became friends for I was awesome and he was a pretty good chap himself.  We both hunted and it take long for us to be causing trouble, well at least him with his high school sweetheart.  We’ll just say she loves me now, especially since Mahoney and I haven’t hung out since August.  I suppose that my influence wasn’t the best, but he’s still married to her and we are still allowed to get together every so often.  Actually, I'm not being exactly fair about Mrs. Mahoney, she's quite the gem and was a bridesmaid for my wife almost eight years ago.  Okay, enough said about the man... let’s roll with the story...

It took Mahoney ten years of friendship to finally get down for a good sea duck hunt, but once I introduced him to the Quack he couldn’t stay away.  Every other weekend, he was driving 3 hours in the morning to hop into the boat.  Let’s just stay he became a quack addict.  To top it all off, Mahoney started bringing friends as if he were the man producing this event of excellence.

One of the better guys Mahoney brought down is a good fellow named Littlefield.  Today, I’m happy to say that we are very good friends.  And for this story, Littlefield will be the pivotal force in my prank.  Introduction over... story time....

Littlefield, key figure in the prank... Is that duck alive?



I call Mahoney all wound up and speaking in tongues, he doesn’t know what is going on.  All I say is... moose hunt, won, Papelbon, me...

For those of you who don’t know, Mahoney and I combined have been on six hunts with shooting permissions.  Of those six, we’ve been together for five of them.  His first one I decided to stay with my new girlfriend, she was far hotter than Mahoney.  Back to the story...

Once Mahoney convinced me to stop jabbering, I explained to him how the state of Maine had offered five guided moose hunts each with a professional athlete from New England to raise money for some type of benefit.  We (I blurted) would be going to Zone 1 next October for an all-expense paid hunt with Jonathan Papelbon, the rocket armed closer of the Boston Red Sox.  This ticket had been bought at the Maine Sportmen’s Show, the one Mahoney couldn’t attend that year because he had to attend a baby shower.

So how does one sell this impossible offer?

I had previously called Littlefield and suggested that he help me with this sinister act.  After outlining the entire process with what to say and when to say it, Littlefield accepted the task at hand.  He would be my other choice, knew about the contest, and also would add that he saw Papelbon on NESN (New England Sports Network) on a moose hunt of a similar nature.  There were no flaws in my prank.

So, I tell Mahoney that I want him to come and that I thought Littlefield would be a good choice to be the other attendee.  This created some doubt, but I needed that for after all this was April Fools Day.  I told Mahoney to call Littlefield and ask him if he’d like to join, Littlefield WAS sure to know of this contest. 

The phone tag game took off as Mahoney was calling Littlefield while I was trying to call Mahoney back; call waiting, excitement, lies, and promises were bouncing all over the place.  Littlefield played it like a pro, the guy who knew about the contest and had bought tickets.  He acted as if he had been blessed to think that someone like me would offer the last spot to him over someone like my father, but I had already said my dad didn’t want to go for he had other obiligations.  Mahoney,  my buddy, was officially- hook, line, and sinker.

After a few calls to both parties within the next hour, I had one guy so wound up he could have kissed me and the other praised by me for brilliant execution.  The seed had been planted on April Fools Day, but I let the briar bush grow.

In the next week I got phone calls from Mahoney’s dad and everybody else imaginable.  Mahoney had gone to work telling everybody about his “dream hunt” and even considered contacting a reporter from his local newspaper.  He called me every night about the details of the trip so that he may be able to help out, this trip was a dream come true.

I couldn’t let it go anymore for I felt guilty, well sort of, not really...

In a weeks time, I broke the news to my best friend who had stood with me at my wedding as I had stood at his day of reckoning.  Let’s just stay he didn’t call me for a few days, he was standing at home plate watching the third strike go by while the bat lay on his shoulder.  Struck out with a chin high fastball... bad call maybe, but back to the dug out chump...

Mahoney buddy, you are a man of great stature and I’m fortunate to say that you are my best man.  Life since you came along has been full of adventures and I thank god everyday you decide that morning to still be my friend.  For that, I dedicate this and every other April Fools Day to you.

Your buddy in adventure,
The Downeast Duck Hunter

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