Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn is Here

GSP Ranger and Master Guide Rick Theriault
 It has been a few months since my last post.  Not that there hasn't been anything to write about, but that there has been a lot to write about and not enough time to do it.  Since July we have had an incredible bear season with a high number of bears taken at Mountain View Drifter Lodge & Outfitters.  We have harvested our garden, and prepared for winter so that the schedule is clear to enjoy the rest of the fruits of autumn.





A limit of Ruffed Grouse
As luck would have it the weather and the ruffed grouse population cycle seemed to produce a peak level of birds to be hunted for this season.  October is the opening of upland bird hunting in Maine, and I do not recall seeing the number of birds ever in my lifetime spent in the Maine woods.  

We have had the opportunity to share some time with a hunter from Long Island in the woods of Maine hunting for grouse, and saw a good number of birds and were able to take a few.  After his hunt, my dogs and I have had the chance to hunt a bit for ourselves, and have had a very good time.  A bear hunting friend of mine mentioned this past season while he was here that the month of October was too short for the number of things that open for outdoor recreation.  I have to agree.  This month has flown by, and the opening of our deer season began on October 27th.  My dogs and I are having too much fun looking for grouse, so I believe I'll stick with bird hunting for the next few days if possible.
My Dog Ranger and I

This autumn has seen a passing of the torch from one dog to another.  My first GSP, Trapper, who is also the father of Ranger, is now 12 years old.  Trapper loves to hunt for birds.  He unfortunately is too old to safely hunt for more than a short time, and only in the easiest of terrain.  His old joints cause him pain for several days after a short hunt.  It is very difficult to watch him suffer.  It is equally painful to leave him at the lodge as Ranger and I head for the woods.  His heart wants to go, but his body is giving out.


Trapper did a great job of teaching Ranger the ins and outs of finding grouse.  Ranger will never replace Trapper in my opinion, as Trapper was a dog of a lifetime.  Ranger is a great dog too, but Trapper was exceptional.  He did it all.  Pointed, flushed and retrieved.  I only wish he was healthy enough to have enjoyed this season with the sheer number of birds that the lord has blessed us with.  Unfortunately he has to stay back at the lodge and wait for Ranger and I to come home.  Trapper's body has decided that lying by the wood stove is where it wants to be, while his heart and soul still craves to be in the woods looking for birds.

I guess this autumn with all of its outdoor pursuits that are here for us to do is also a time to reflect that we all need to enjoy life's Octobers.  As there are too few years to enjoy them.  If you have a chance to hunt for grouse with a great dog, do it.  You and the dog will be rewarded by the experience.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why are Deer Flies Necessary?

     In the last couple of days I have been getting some of my tree stands and related bear baiting material out into the woods.  In a few days we can legally start baiting bear here in Maine in preparation for the coming fall bear season which kicks off on August 27th, 2012.  The month prior to the opening of the season has me clearing lanes, and lugging bait to my bait sites here in the woods of Northern Maine. 
     During these frequent forays into the woods I have the opportunity to see and experience many of God's creations.  I often see rabbits, grouse, hawks and moose.  Many of the bait sites also have a fair population of mosquitoes and black flies.  The one creature that is somewhat of a nemesis to me is the Deer Fly.  Deer flies are a ferocious creature that are immune to any insect repellant that I know of.  Most locations this time of year will have a few of these nasty things, but some areas have thousands.  A couple of my bait sites are home to deer flies in the hundreds to thousands. 
     When I get to leave the relative safety of my truck with a bucket of bait in either hand it is a race to get the bait to the site before the horde of voracious biting deer flies manage to inflict too much damage.  Fortunately for the hunters who will be arriving in a few weeks, the deer flies will have pretty much disappeared when they get here.  The clients usually comment on what a great gig I have.  They do not really get to see me covered in sweat and mud swatting deer flies with one hand and lugging 50 pounds of bait with the other.  They get to experience a nice quiet piece of Maine while waiting for a bear to possibly visit.
     This brings me back to the question of why are deer flies necessary?  The only answer that I can come up with is to keep people in their vehicles and away from my hunting spots.  Many people in these parts spend a fair amount of time riding the back roads, but they are usually versed in the pain that can be inflicted by 100's of deer flies.  No Mainer with a lick of sense will get out of their truck when you can look out the window and see a swarm of deer flies.  So God put deer flies here to either keep my hunting spots safe from curious people or to prove that I ain't got a lick of sense.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Best Bass River in the East!

      The Penobscot River in Maine is considered by many to be the best small mouth bass fishery in the east.  The past couple of days I had the opportunity to share a portion of this fishery with some folks from Florida that are spending their retirement years "Casting and Cruising" the country.  We caught many nice bass, with one 22" specimen under high water conditions that would shut down many operators.  It took some time to find the bass with the flow of the river changed by a few feet of depth, but we caught fish all day long.
     I have fished and lived in this area for 47 years.  So here are a few tips for you if you are looking to catch lots of fish and possibly some exceptional fish.  Bass are a warm water species.  The waters around here warm up later than many parts of the country, and are very good to excellent fishing from the 4th of July through late September.  The water temperature and levels are typically very good during this time frame, which makes the fishing predictably good for me during this time.  Top water flies and lures as well as most traditional subsurface bass lures will produce here.  Some days are better than others when fishing, but I've had many days spent with clients that boated over 100 fish in an 8 hour trip.  If action like that or even half that good sounds like something you would like to experience, give us a call and I would love to spend a day with you on my river.  July, August and September are great times to be here. 
     I can be certain you will learn something new about bass during your trip, and have a great time doing it.  So to paraphrase; Come on up, the water is fine.  A fully guided drift boat fishing trip for a day is an affordable $350.  Give us a call at (207)723-5535.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Brook trout fishing in Maine



     Although April 1st is the official opening of Maine's open water stream fishing, I have found over the years that May is a better month to fish for native Brookies.  April in my part of the state often still has snow carpeting the ground especially in the shady regions along trout streams, This makes water levels very high and very cold.  By early to mid-May things have improved, with the melting of the snow and receding of spring flood waters.
     I had an opportunity this past week to head out to an area trout stream to wet a line as they say.  I was in search of a "feed of trout".  Most times now when I fish it is strictly catch and release, but when May rolls around there is nothing better than a pan of fried brook trout, some Maine potatoes and a bowl of fiddleheads.  Fiddleheads just happen to grow along trout streams about the time trout fishing gets good.  Many times you can catch a mess of trout and pick a bucket of fiddlehead ferns, so when you get home you have the makings of a Maine feast.
     Early May often is blessed with warm sunny days and no black flies.  Black flies in Maine can be a real pain, in many ways.  Usually early May is just before they get bad.  So what could be better than a sunny day, no blackflies and a stream full of hungry trout.  Not much really, so off to the stream I went.  As luck would have it, I had the place all to myself, and in short order had my limit of 5 brook trout.  Well to feed my wife and I a mess of trout, I really needed 10 brook trout .  So the very next day I went back to that trout stream and caught another limit of brook trout. 
A mess of 8-10" Brook Trout



Fried Trout, Mashed Maine Potatoes and Fiddleheads

     When I returned home after plying the waters with garden hackle, my wife prepared the potatoes and fiddleheads, while I cleaned and prepped the trout for the frying pan.  Brook trout are pretty easy to cook, you just need a hot pan with some oil and butter, and some cleaned trout rolled in flour with some salt and pepper.  Fry the trout in the hot pan until done.  Serve those up with some potatoes and fiddleheads, and Mister Man let me tell you, that is a fine reward for two afternoons spent along a trout stream in Maine.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Living in Bear Country

     A post in Facebook this morning alerted me to a need to write about living in bear country.  I take for granted many times knowledge gained from years of living in rural areas, but many people do not have the knowledge so I am going to attempt to do a bit of teaching in today's post about bears, and what to do if you see one on your back lawn.  
     Lots of people dream for many years about moving to the country and setting up housekeeping on their own little paradise.  Maine provides lots of opportunity to do that, but keep in mind when you live in the country you will be sharing your domain with all of God's creatures including the black bear.  Maine is home to the  most dense population of black bears in the lower 48 states.   As more and more people carve out their homes in Maine's forest lands, and as the bear population continues to expand, bear encounters will happen.
     So what to do to minimize the frequency of seeing a bear on your property.  Well the first thing to do is eliminate all attractants to bears.  A black bear is a walking stomach.  They are omnivores which means they eat about anything.  That bird feeder that you filled all winter long to feed song birds, really needs to be put away all spring, summer and fall.  Bears you see will eat bird seed if they are hungry and they find a source.  Bears will also be attracted to your grill.  Why your grill, well it probably smells like steak, burgers or barbecued chicken.  DID YOU KNOW THAT A BEAR CAN SMELL A FOOD SOURCE TWO MILES AWAY.   You do now.  When you are done grilling, put your grill away.  If you leave it on your deck for your convenience, well do not be surprised if you have a bear on your deck. 
     Speaking of decks, when you live in the woods you need to consider access to your deck when it is designed.  My home has an attached deck that surrounds the back half of my lodge.  The deck does not have stairs that lead to the backyard.  The only access to the deck is through my home.  The chances of a bear getting on my deck are greatly reduced, because I have made it difficult for a bear to get onto it.  My grill stays on my deck year round, BUT the deck is 15 feet above ground level with no stairs.
     This time of year is a busy time for bears.  They are getting out of hibernation, it is also mating season.  Female bears breed every two years.  Mother bears that bore cubs last spring, spent all last summer and fall with her cubs.  They went into hibernation late last fall together, suddenly this spring mom's attitude changed and she drove her offspring away to make their way in the world on their own.  Ninety percent of the time that 300 pound bear you saw on your deck was really a seventy pound yearling bear that has a lot to learn yet, but also found the scent of grilled meat to good to pass up. Now mom is ready to hook up with a male bear and begin the process all over again.  She will breed, spend the summer and fall eating, then go into hibernation.  While in hibernation she gives birth.  The following spring her and the cubs come out and spent that spring, summer and fall living together.  They go into hibernation with her and the following spring she drives those cubs off, and some of them will end up hanging from a tree in your back yard eating sunflower seeds, or grabbing a bag of garbage of your deck and running into the treeline to tear it open and find a tasty tidbit.
    When bears awake from hibernation there isn't much available for them to eat.  They begin the process of waking up their digestive systems by eating green grass and buds from some trees.  Once their systems start working again they can handle more substantial food.  Where is the greenest grass in the area.  Well it is probably your well manicured lawn.  If you see a bear eating on the edge of your field, it will just wander off after a time, unless you keep attracting it back, by leaving other more substantial food sources where it can easily gain access to them.
      The first thing many people think they need to do is call the warden service when they see a bear.  The first thing the warden service is going to do is tell you to remove all attractants from your property.  Trapping and relocating a bear is not the wardens first response.  A bear needs to be relocated 150 air miles away in order for a relocation to have a chance to possibly work.  Even then, many times a bear will make its way back.  Go to a map and draw a circle 150 miles from your place and you will see there are very few places to move a bear, where it will not impact someone else.
     I could go on and on with this topic, but we are limited.  So when living in God's country you need to learn to live with the animals.  When it comes to bears just remember they can smell food two miles away.  Put away all bird feeders early in the spring, and do not bring them back until late in the fall.  Keep your grill and other foods inaccessible to bears, and when you see a bear it will just be passing through looking for easier places to eat.  When you live in the Maine's forest land there are always bears passing through.  So if you do not want one on your deck, quit sending out invitations by leaving bear attractants laying around.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eagles

     Spring here in Katahdin country is a busy time of year for us.  Lots and lots to do.  It is also when many bird species either return to the area or in the case of our bald eagles, get very active.  We have a good population of eagles here, and they love to hang out in the back yard of the lodge.  I keep a coyote bait of carrion on the ice through the winter months, and eagles really love to scavenge from it.  During the past two weeks we have had eagles here all day long, soaring over the lodge and sitting on stumps in the lake and at times in trees along the shore.  There vocalizations can be heard throughout the day, but like most birds they get really active as sundown approaches.  It is great to be working out side and see a shadow as one passes over head, but it is just as rewarding to be sitting here typing this entry and here the call of our national bird, the bald eagle.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Rituals

     Some of my fondest memories as a kid growing up in small town Maine was open water fishing season.  Open water season opens April 1st here in Maine, but in reality in my neck of the woods, May 1st is the practical open water season.  I remember times wading small trout brooks in early May with some friends on Saturday or Sundays with snow still surrounding the edges of the trout streams in many locations.  Under those conditions with high flows of bone chilling water typical catches for us were pretty low.  If we were lucky we'd put 3-4 native brook trout in our creels for a tasty meal, but we would work for those fish.
     We first had to get to the trout streams.  Usually that involved riding our bikes for 30-60 minutes one way with our rods and worms, then walking 30 minutes or so through the woods before working our way to the streams edge to anxiously bait our hooks and send our offerings into the babbling brook to test our luck.  Before too long we would venture into the brook into the knee deep bone chilling water to try and get a better presentation into a particularly good looking pool of water.  Often enough this practice yielded positive results, so even though we would lose the feeling in our lower extremities, we caught fish.
     After several hours of wading and casting we would have worked our way back down the brook to our bicycles.  We would then pedal our way home to show off our catches of native brook trout to our parents and siblings.  In my case, my siblings could care less about going fishing, let alone riding a bike for an hour to do it.  That was work. I loved it.  Still do.  
     I have learned over the years to be a bit more patient though and wait for water levels to mitigate some.  As well as water temperatures to moderate.  Pleasant mid-May temperatures will find me pining for an opportunity to drop my canoe in a favorite trout stream of mine and spend half a day or so fishing for native brook trout.  If I time it right I will encounter fiddle head ferns along the way and stop to fill a basket with those tasty greens of spring that are a delicacy in our area.  The combination of trout and fiddle heads is hard to beat.  By my reckoning i only have about 8 weeks until prime brook trout and fiddle head season.  I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is Coming!

     The sign on the turnpike entering Maine says, "Maine the Way Life Should Be".  If that statement is true then life should be very busy when spring is coming.  In my part of the state and in my profession as a guide there is a 4 month window to make a living for the year and take care of everything else that needs to be done like property care.  Thankfully when we are this far north, the days of spring and summer are very long to allow 16 to 18 hour days for those few months of hectic living. 
      We are currently still in the throws of winter, but evidence is mounting that spring is coming and with it a very harried schedule.  The days are definitely lengthening and tomorrow the temperatures will be in the mid 40's.  Although there are still several feet of snow on the ground in my neck of the woods, it is time to start plants for the garden, order bait for the coming fall bear season, and work towards filling up the reservations necessary to end the summer in the black, even if it is only slightly in the black.  Yes, spring brings with it a tremendous increase in scheduling conflicts and work to be done.  I still struggle to understand why a year is 365 days long, but here in Maine a years effort needs to be expended in roughly 120 days. 
      I'll repeat for those procrastinators out there that do not notice the changing seasons of Nature's clock as I do.  Spring is coming.  If you have been thinking about calling to book a hunt or fishing trip, do not wait too long, or spring and fall will pass you by.  In other parts of the country a year is 365 days long, but here it seems to be just 120 days.  The clock is ticking...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ramblings From Millinocket

Here we are in the tail end of February with the days getting longer, snow melting, sap running and I am trying to get a handle on this process called Blogging.  Well lets see where this takes us.  Maine is a great place to live if you are handy at multitasking.  It is imperative to surviving in the northern part of the state where the woods products industry has passed by its golden age and is in a sad state of decline.  Hence my attempts at making a living guiding folks both in the pursuit of fish and game, as well as guiding them through the trials and tribulations of sizing and installing alternative energy.  You can find my outfitting business Mountain View Drifter Lodge & Outfitters preparing for the coming fishing season.  You can also find my alternative energy business Maine Guide Wind Power, LLC readying for the spring construction season.  While we are preparing to make a living this coming spring, it is also time to start our garden planning.  You see everything in this part of the world is condensed into a 3-4 month flurry of activity, and then it is winter once again.