Saturday, April 6, 2013

Maine's Fifth Season, Mud Season

     One of the things you often hear from people that live in New England is that they really enjoy the 4 seasons.  Spring with its new growth, summer with its great weather, fall with its vivid colors and winter with its snow and stark beauty.  I am no different in my opinions of the seasons, although I also enjoy the hunting and fishing opportunities that go along with the changing season.  Maine is also a place that has a fifth season which is called by locals, mud season.
     Mud season is the time when other parts of the country are enjoying spring, we are still locked in a tug of war between winter and spring.  Currently it is April 6, 2013 at my home in Millinocket.  There is still over 2 feet of snow in the woods surrounding my home, and the lake out back is still locked in ice.  Places where the sun is better able to reach are devoid of snow, but in many cases the ground is now  mud. 
    This is the time of year that people in the logging industry work on their equipment, as the logging roads and forest floors are too soft to work in.  This is mud season.  Usually it lasts 4-6 weeks, and then the ground has dried and firmed enough to be able to safely travel on a logging road without too much danger of burying your truck in the mud.  I tend to wait for mud season to pass before venturing too far from home. 
     I have the privilege of watching another indicator of mud season at my lodge.  This is the time of the year that the eagles clean up the carrion I have hunted coyotes over during the winter.  Every day here until either the ice goes out or the carrion is gone bald eagles land on the ice a short distance from my deck and feed on remains of coyotes and beaver.  Sometimes there are several eagles there at once.  A few years ago there were 13 eagles on the bait pile at one time.  So while I wait a bit for the snow to melt along the area trout streams, and the roads to firm enough to travel to some of my favorite spring fishing holes, I'll watch the eagles.  The calendar says it spring, but I know it is mud season.