Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Go Black Bear Hockey

Up close and personal...

With our two very great friends the Honey Bradger and Witchy Wheat, my wife and I took the opportunity to accompany the before mentioned dream team at the Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine to watch the University of Maine Black Bears face off against St. Lawrence during homecoming weekend.

The Honey Bradger landed some season tickets on the glass and needless to say they are quite impressive.  For a former UMaine graduate myself (class of 1998), I would have died to watch a game on the glass during my collegiate years.  Especially since the team won the national title in 1993 and 1999, which basically put me in the midst of one crazy hockey run and left me in the student section.  Back then, hockey was king.  Now, not so much...

First warning, I think the old lady reported us...
Anyways, we rooted for our Black Bears and tried our best to make the most out of a 5-1 pounding at the hands of St. Lawrence.  Sometimes it isn't the bite of the dog, but rather the tricky moves of the Honey Bradger that makes for the ultimate night out experience.

Here's a few photos taken by the police before the Honey Bradger and I were escorted out of the arena... just kidding... have a great one!!!

That was a tricky spot...

Right after our only score, we got our second warning on this one

My wife and Witchy living the dream as the game winds down...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trey Luckie and the Maine Duck Event: End Game

Trey seemed somewhat pleased with the hen eider, but quietly irritated with the erased opportunities for the white and black bomber.   The strong winds blistering across the oppositional tide offered no luxury for the die hard sea duck hunter.  If Trey had not invested so much into getting to Maine, I may not have even opted for our mid-day shift.  Often he brought up that he wasn't just visiting to chase sea ducks, but I wouldn't plan on going to Georgia just to swim.  We packed our gear and made fast work gliding over the white caps towards the lee of the town landing.  Day one had ended with a pair of black ducks just after daylight, two surf scoters, one female white wing scoter, and one hen eider.  I would have been happy with the five ducks Trey had gotten, and he certainly resonated in his quarry.

When presented some pan fried eider seasoned with salt and pepper, Trey eagerly took a bite whilst fathoming the unique flavor.  Out of nowhere, he inquired if I had ever eaten chicken livers.  I retorted with a fast "no" and we then commenced to finish the fried eider with honey per request of my guest.  Apparently nothing phases the Georgia rattlesnake.

Our forecast for day two did not bode well for our prospects.  Honestly, I questioned if we would even make it out for a second hunt.

But we did and a struggle for that elusive drake eider developed.  The wind made no intention of diminishing, nor did we find the weather so miserably bad that we wanted to surrender.  Things got a little messy once the tide turned, but at least the day was warm and the precipitation nil.

And Trey did get that one drake eider, although a limit could have easily been on the boat.  Close shots and tough ducks were substantiating the allure of this type of hunt.  Again Trey battled the variables and I consider our efforts well rewarded albeit the circumstances.

Our plans for the afternoon included some serious lounging around and some college football.  Then a full blown lobster buffet found Trey Luckie battling the odds and choking down at least four lobsters.  Those remaining were effectively picked by my wife and packaged to accompany Trey on his return the very next day.

Trey getting a head start on the rest of the competition.

In reflection, I'm very appreciative of our great friendship born out of some outdoor writing and it was great to see a pen pal type endeavor truly merge into something of meaningful substance.  I look forward to visiting Trey either this spring or next, nevertheless I'm happy that I've made a great friend in life.

Until next time,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Working on the D3 apparel post
Trey admiring my good work and ease of cranking out a post in 2.2 seconds

Friday, October 26, 2012

Featured on the Outdoor Blogger Network

The several day duck hunting jaunt that Trey and I had planned over the past year made news over at the Outdoor Blogger Network.  This site is a very worthwhile place to rub elbows with those like you and those who may find interesting.  Although I did not meet Trey Luckie through the OBN, we have both been members for quite some time.  I'm certainly thankful for all they do over there and hope that the great relationship amongst the outdoor world of writing and photography continues for years to come.

Click Here for the Friday Notes featuring Trey and Tony

Have a great weekend, I'll be chasing whitetails in the afternoon.

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Monday, October 22, 2012

Surf(ing) Scoters: The Maine Duck Event & Trey Luckie

Trey Luckie with the first day success.

This isn't as easy as you make it look on the videos Duckman- Trey Luckie on the variables that make sea duck hunting so great.

While sprinting out into the shallow water to grab the black duck pair, I couldn't help but feel relieved.  Trey had invested so much in being here in terms of finances, vacation time, and an immense distance from his family. 

Although he seemed happy just to be visiting, I needed to bring the sea duck event into his world.  The weather simply wasn't satisfactory, breezy with predicted rain.  But I couldn't just sit back and relax on the black duck he took off my shore frontage, I needed to weigh the possibilities around getting the Duckforce onto the water and Trey near a sea duck.

The location I had scouted the weekend before and limited out on eiders was the preliminary plan, however the conditions easily blew that option away.  While we finished our interrupted breakfast, I scoured the internet hitting all my sites determining past, present, and predicted conditions in a calculated effort to determine our move, if any were to exist.

My choice became  a small cove called the Bull's Gulch, typically surf scoters aka patch heads bounce up and down the shore while the tall spruces provide a smidgen of relief from a strong westerly wind.  Rain was in the forecast as well, but I felt confident in our potential here.  A limit here would be a stretch under the circumstances, but an opportunity to shoot would be certain.  We jumped into the truck and made way for the landing, Trey's sea duck weekend was to begin several hours after daylight.

Once around the gut (a sheltered passage from the landing), we met the wind.  Whitecaps sent spray to our side as the bold bow of the Lund deflected salty precipitation.  Trey found himself caught between the desire to observe our commute and the necessity to take personal shelter.  I told him to stay put in the back, within minutes we'd be at the spot.

We ran two loose lines of surf scoter decoys made by GHG about 40 feet apart which would run west to east against a north/south shoreline.  By setting an anchor to the west of the lines we could 1) establish a proper display for optimal visibility for any moving scoter and 2) be upwind of any sea duck that dared to visit.

First line set out

Trey's first sea duck, a surf scoter aka patch head or skunk head

Over time, wind, some rain, and a changing tide, Trey had enough chances to declare a successful hunt.  There were hits, misses, and one greater appreciation for this style of duck hunting.  I opted not to shoot during this hunt simply because I had to coach Trey amongst the variables surrounding hunting out of a boat.  Not only does the hunter need to address a moving bird, but also a moving vessel in an inconsistent motion.  Lateral and vertical movement will create an inconsistent means for each and every shot, a first shot will not be replicated by the next.  The best way to address these challenges is simpler than one would think, stand up.  Your body begins to balance while your legs generate of leveling effort, after several shots and a generalized understanding almost all hunters I take will improve on their shooting.  Trey said it best, "It's like trying to surf and shoot at the same time".  I just needed him to stand and get the steel ahead of the bird so that these scoters would drop.
Patch head number two.

With time, Trey had dropped several scoters (two drake surfs and one hen whitewing) while being close on several other opportunities.  After several cycle of drizzling showers, we opted to try for an eider.  I figured if we could land a matching pair today, the pressure would be off for Saturday.
Trey with his three scoters, note the separate decoy lines in the background.

After pulling my decoy lines, we made way for one of my more favorite eider spots.  We set the lines in the traditional north/south crescent and set upwind of this line.  Any eider that dared to visit would have to funnel through the newly displayed structure of rock ledges offered by an ebbing tide.  Within minutes, the first single drake common eider appeared cupped and committed.  The size of these ducks creates a deceiving aspect simply because these ducks MOVE.  Trey did not succeed on this shot, but used his prior miscue as a gauge for the next shot.  The hen eider fell from the air and rested upon the choppy seas.

Hen Eider

We chose to hunt until two o'clock, but the weather progressively declined above and beyond our poor chance earlier in our hunt.  Relatively tired, we made way back to the landing to retire for the day.


Next:  Trey's pursuit of a drake common eider and lobster feed

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Brave Eagle and the Maine Sea Duck Event

Trey's sea duck experience write up will be this Monday, however feel free to enjoy the recorded  hits, misses, and general debauchery that happened when the Brave Eagle of Southern Georgia found the Duckman of Downeast Maine. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From Southern Georgia to Downeast Maine, Part One

Trey Luckie was on his way north.

Once in Boston, Trey got held up and launched these two text messages.

5:28 p.m. -Have not gotten on the plane yet.  We were supposed to leave 5 min ago.

5:32 p.m. -Mechanical delay.  I'll keep you posted.

Then all communications from Trey ceased.  He must have gotten onto the plane, this gave me time to finalize some shopping before his arrival and get to the Bar Harbor airport in due time.  Meanwhile, the winds subsided to a point where I honestly believed we'd have a chance for some gunning.  The weather forecast had become more disheartening by the day and simply put, I needed to put Trey onto a few ducks.  With the shear lack of migratory action and now a persistent breeze, my hopes diminished for any morsel of success.  Aside of my concern, I still exuded a nervous excitement about meeting my pen pal/internet buddy/fellow outdoor writer.  The connectivity behind our electronic communications would end this evening, our efforts at friendship would be realized one way or the other soon.

After some time, the small plane roared onto the landing strip and quickly taxied to the small terminal (airport if you will).  From my position, one could see the parking lot, baggage claim, check in desk, security detail, and waiting area.  I walked up to the receiving doors and watched the few people exit the plane.  Eventually, Trey Luckie jumped out and immediately recognized me with an ambitious wave.  Within minutes, we had met and immediately discovered that Trey's baggage had not joined him for the flight to Bar Harbor.  Once confirmed the bag was in Boston, I quickly arranged delivery to my home.  Trey would not be wearing his proud Browning outdoor apparel on day one but I would make sure he had the necessary amenities to pursue that which flies.

Within an hour of riding, we made it to my home and quickly prepared Trey's dress for the next day.  Daylight would be early and all my research around the weather suggested wind, but the wind had died down.  We could potentially have a chance, that encouraged me.  Until we woke up.

With the sunrise came a faster breeze, but breakfast was our priority.  With bacon, eggs, toast, coffee, and juice, we shot the breeze about our possibilities with the forecast.  Two options existed, one left us in my backyard over some sea duck decoys I had put out on a low water days before.  Some eiders had been feeding all over the bay and had taken a liking to the mussel beds just outside of my beach.  In addition, some black ducks had been showing up and could be an awesome chance especially with the tide being half flood.  The other option would take us to my buddy Jason's home and prime black duck habitat.  This move would be chancy at best, for there had been no ducks spotted up to this point.

Option one took precedence as my wife came around the corner and said, "Some black ducks just hit the water straight out".  Sure enough, my watchful sweetheart put our operation into motion.  I grabbed the binoculars and bolted upstairs to glass the foursome.  A split had taken place and our hunt did also, Trey was instructed to get dressed fast and leave breakfast on the table.  Priority and pursuit lay before us, it was black duck time.

For those who don't know, a black duck is a miserable bird to outsmart especially when implementing a stalk.  Tide, timing, and concealment are essential to bringing down one of these prize ducks.  Our left hand option was present and Trey managed to not cover his blue jeans.  Hesitant knowing that the concealment aspect had been compromised, we slid down toward the shore.

The pair of blacks were there, Trey just didn't pick them up.  I quietly attempted to point them out, but we had become "busted".  As we watched the two meander cautiously away, I immediately considered the other pair that had split right.  Leaving Trey on the shore covered with my camouflage jacket over his blue jeans, I made way back upstairs to spot the other black ducks.  Sure enough, they were feeding along the shore and making way around a small point.  We had a chance, our window closing fast.

I ran back down to Trey's position, explained exactly what we needed to do and moved quickly to intercept the "other" pair.  Onto the beach we crept, crawled along the shoreline towards a higher ledge of concealment and spotted the black ducks that conveniently joined several other black ducks.  Our position held, I reverberated that we were allowed just one black duck each while also explaining there was several more than two black ducks in that one spot.  Plenty of eyes offered a dim chance, but with one more quiet push towards a shoreline rose bush we got within striking distance.  I told Trey that he had the first shot, I would follow.  Without one moment of hesitation, Trey arose from his crouched position and fired upon the lead duck.  As the others rose, I took the furthest left one leaving Trey to ensure his duck was down.  In seconds, our quarry rested upon the water amongst some seaweed structure.  I waded out into the shallow water, grabbed the pair, and presented Trey with his limit.  Trey smiled and suggested that this stalk was easy, but easy comes when all planets align when hunting a black duck.

The pressure was off, operation black duck down was met with success, and now we were able to return to breakfast where our coffee was still warm.

For my next post:  Scoters on the Western Shore

Monday, October 15, 2012

The power behind people...

Good time, great buddy.
Too often, we underestimate the potential behind people.  This past weekend, I had the fortunate opportunity to offer a duck hunt on coastal Maine to a fellow blogger from southern Georgia.  It ended with an affirmation that in this world, truly fine impact players exist that will continue to make an impact no matter who they encounter.  If anybody could have the opportunity to adjoin Trey in life as a friend, acquaintance, or even stranger, then that said individual will be a better person.

With an endless positive, well-mannered demeanor and an honest, appreciative follow through, Trey brought an excellence in social interaction that fails to exist in most regions.  Whether it be the lonely elderly woman at the airport, the random couple exiting a store, our family & friends at a pumpkin carving social Friday night, or amongst the local fisherman at the landing; Trey walked away from every interpersonal conversation with the other side left in awe and sharing a smile.

Our daylight black ducks below my home, Trey finished his breakfast right after this photo.

Trey on the west side of the island, tide is ebbing in the background.

Appreciating my D3 apparel post, take that Sellers (a fellow blogger from WA)

Trey during the lobster eating challenge, apparently my challenge was all you can eat corn.

I am thankful to be able to offer Trey the chance at a variety of sea ducks and the elusive black duck, but I'm more thankful in hindsight that our time together was nothing short of top of the line.   When Trey boarded the plane for his return flight, it seemed that our time although enriched in friendship fell too short in longevity.

Trey became family over the weekend, anybody would be fortunate to embrace his friendship for few individuals can exude a brilliance in the faith of better fellowship than Trey Luckie.

Who knew that through a bit of blogging, I'd have a true friend in life.  Sometimes you've just got to roll the dice and let the world benefit. 

For our experience, I intend to post our hunting efforts every few days over the course of this and next week.  There were hits, misses, and memories to last a lifetime.  For some of Trey's write ups concerning his trip north, please click HERE.

Take care,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Saturday, October 13, 2012

D3 Apparel Photo Shoot

Get your D3 gear today...
It is with the greatest unimaginable pleasure to announce the release of the Ducks, Dogs, and Downriggers clothing line.  As a sponsored representative of the good D3 name, it was a treat to enjoy a four minute photo shoot with a fellow outdoor model, Trey Luckie of Brave Eagles Hunt With Antique Brownings.

I like L.L. Bean and D3 gear...

Here's a link to the official press release.  Click HERE.

Anyways, here's some pristine photos taken by the D3 models only proving that top notch talent certainly enhances the brand.

Enjoy the unofficial photos from our photo shoot...

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Trey Luckie and Tony Beal

Trey Luckie, "It's o'er yonder"

One handed and eyes closed...

Don't shoot, we haven't launched the Ambush yet...

Awe shucks Duckman, I can do anything...

Can't believe Sellers gave us these shirts for free...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Black Duck Down... with Trey Luckie

Winds are rugged, but two blacks fell this morning.  Now we are waiting for the next step over a cup of coffee... stay tuned

Beautiful drake black duck by the Brave Eagle

Sunrise black ducks courtesy of Downeast Duck Hunter guide service

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sea Duck Luck...

Somehow the weekend of reckoning became just a weekend as Saturday brought foul weather and Sunday delivered the worst of moments as Trey Luckie's Brave Eagles handed my Harbor Hogs a third straight loss in fantasy football.  Then Monday began to look rather breezy which left Columbus Day weekend damn near a bust.  My dad suggested we be patient and wait the wind out.  I'm glad we did because things got a little fowl...

Our local lighthouse, Moosepeak Light

Anchor far out, dekes tied into far trap buoy, several buoys closer to boat to take away strain.

Having departed at 8 o'clock, our hopes centered on avoiding the 20 knot NW wind.  Once underway, a decision to head to the Cape Shore offered somewhat of an opportunity to shoot.  After the dropped anchor, decoys attached, and all other final measures, we let the wind push the boat southeast only to see if the ducks would turn after blistering through the "hole".

The "Hole"

 Although few ducks presented themselves, my father and I took advantage of several single eider committals and took three drakes from one larger flock.  Only one small group of whitewing scoters blitzed our position, but the tailwind along with an already high flight made that shot a stretch at best.  In all, we bagged a slow limit of eiders and took the time to scout a bit on our return.

Dad with an early pair from the only large flock.

For a day that offered little if any possibility, we certainly shared in some sea duck luck.  I've still got two more days weather permitting this week, let's us see how we roll...

Have a great week,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

One of my four eiders, slow limit today.  The birds just aren't around.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bow Hunting

One week of duck season has expired and not one shot did I fire.  Rather than take a day off from work or combat wind and rain to sea duck hunt, I have opted to get out several times this week bow hunting.
Momma and little one by the 8 yard rock...
After 14 years of teaching and racing against the ever decreasing day with a sunset that continually narrows the range between school dismissal and final minute, I realized that one could actually have an abundance of time if said brilliant one get his bow hunter's license.  That I did and already I have spent more time in the woods with the whitetails than all of last  year.  Actually, I already have seen a small buck and managed to skim an arrow under his belly.  I'd try to come up with a fair excuse, but I'm new to this and with that will come some serious practice especially from my stand.  Anyways, to be so close and personal with these deer especially a group of aggressive does establishing their place with the herd has elevated deer hunting to a whole new level.

The sea duck gear is all set and I anticipate a Monday morning shoot, then Trey Luckie arrives Thursday night for his Downeast experience.  We'll just say that he's quite pumped...

The Downeast Duck Hunter
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