802-603hunters 2015 Trip to Maine

802-603hunter

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After filling my tags in VT and NH I was contemplating heading to Maine for the first time. I had planned to take Thanksgiving week off and was considering banking that time for VT muzzleloader in hopes of hunting on snow. I can hunt Maine from my camp in NH so heading out last minute wasn’t a big deal. I kept my eye on the forecast and it wasn’t looking all that favorable, sunny and dry. I decided on Sunday that I would plan on going and bought my license online. My final logic was that I would regret not going hunting while at work, but would never regret not being at work while in the woods. I did some Google Earth scouting and picked out a few spots that looked good and were compatible with the forecasted wind directions. I pointed the truck east at 5:00 and headed out.

Monday 11/23:
The first area I picked out was a cutting that butted up to the green growth on the side of a mountain. I figured the area laid out well for bucks to cruise the top of the cut scent checking below for does as the wind would typically drift up the hill given the orientation. I made the 45 minute drive and parked the truck with time to spare before good light.

I got ready and loaded up the pump once it was good light. I checked out the portion of cut that I could see from the landing, about 1/2 of a mile away, and spotted a nice bull out feeding. I worked my way out the rest of the winter road and then up into the woods heading toward the cut. I saw some tracks and droppings on my way up to the cut and a little more once I got to the cutting. The terrain was fairly rugged with a number of dips and knobs. I happened upon the bull as he made his way into some green growth they left on a knob in the cut. I worked my way to the top of the cut and found the deer trail I suspected would be there skirting the green growth. I perched up on a log in the green growth overlooking the cut and soaked in the sun for a couple hours.



After a couple hours I decided to keep skirting the top of the cut towards a stream buffer the loggers are required to leave. When I got there I found the sign I hoped to find, big rubs and a signpost. Only problem was they were old and the signpost had blown over in recent years.





Not the best picture of it, but it looked like the bucks had hit this signpost after it had blown over, just had not been hit in the last couple years.


It was clear decent bucks had used this area in the past but not finding the fresh sign I was hoping for I continued my swing down through area and back towards the truck. I happened upon a cow, bull, and calf bedded alongside a brook. I got to within 25 yards before the cow got uneasy. With the wind in my favor they weren’t sure what was up but they decided after a few minutes that they wanted to be elsewhere and wandered off.

I got back to the truck around 2:00 and decided to familiarize myself with the area in the daylight to get a feel for the lay of the land and which roads were accessible. I happened upon an older gentleman walking the road with a labored gait and stopped to offer him a ride. As someone who would have appreciated a ride on a few occasions when facing a couple mile walk I tend to stop and ask most folks if they needed a lift. He declined at first but after visiting for a minute he hopped in and explained he was nursing a broken collar bone and rib and was restricted to walking the roads while his hunting partners were in the woods. He was 70 years old and spoke of hunting from Jackman to Island Pond over the years. Based on the areas he spoke of where our wanderings have overlapped he was spot on with everything I knew and had plenty of knowledge that I didn’t. I enjoyed our 40 minute visit and we wished eachother well the rest of the season. With daylight fading I headed back to camp.
 
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802-603hunter

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Tuesday 11/24
It was 12* at camp when I left, with an ever so light dusting of snow. Having encountered noisy conditions the day before with frozen leaves and spike frost I decide to head to a three year old cutting. In this spot I could put the wind in my face and the sun at my back while I worked the edge of the cut up the hill. I found a small rub at the base of the cut and worked up the hill once daylight had set in. It felt like a good scenario, I figured with the cold the deer would be up and feeding and this cut had good low lying browse of raspberry bushes and yellow birch shoots. As I worked up hill slowly I stopped frequently and occasionally turned to face the sun and warm my front side. The wind was also making the eyes water and tears would even run down my cheeks. The deer sign was just not there so after hitting the top of the cut I circled back and headed for a different spot.

The next spot I picked out consisted of a finger ridge coupled with a long swamp that led to a beaver pond. I found some old rubs and some droppings and eventually found a fresh rub where a trail led from the swamp out to a cutting. I found one nice track in the frozen leaves and a bunch of bear droppings that had fed heavily on some mountain ash berries. Strangely there were four piles of it in a 10 yard circle but I never saw a mountain ash tree in all my travels. I found some more deer dropping along a trail as headed back to the truck. This spot may be worth coming back to.

Wednesday 11/25
I had been trading voicemails and texts with a coworker over the last few nights when I had service. He had hunted some of the area the previous weeks and had an encounter with a nice buck chasing does. As he put it “saw a monster”. We finally connected over a scratchy cell connection and he described the spot. It was off the end of a road that I was now familiar with and consisted of some cuttings at the base of a mountain with hardwood shelves between the cuttings and green growth. If there is one feature I like almost as much as saddles its shelves. This sounded like my kind of spot regardless of his buck sighting.

It was 10* when I left camp and made the hour drive getting to the spot before daylight. I loaded up at good light and made my way out the winter road. It was dead calm and the leaves were again frozen solid below the dusting of snow. I worked up the winter road slowly checking the topo on my GPS for an opportune time to head towards the mountain. There are cuts along the roadside and some just up the hill that are visible from the road as I make my way further ahead. With an eye on the topo and the wind direction I decide it is a good time to find a spot to cut off and head towards the mountain. I plan to look for a good brook to follow to cover my noise in the crunchy leaves. I come across a potential brook to follow and notice a nice rub on a striped maple 40 yards up in the woods. I see that the mountain is going to be visible if I continue up to the next clear cut. I decide to at least go up and get a good look at the mountain and the lay of the land, if I wanted I could always come back to this brook or move ahead to the next one. I walk up to the clearcut and while I am studying the view of the mountain I notice two deer to my right. I look them over and confirm their baldness. As I watch them I am wondering if they just popped out of a gully in the clearcut or if they just came into view upon entering the clearcut. One of the does has her head on a swivel looking up the clearcut, down towards me, and then back behind her. I watch them for probably thirty seconds and the last one keeps looking behind her. I am thinking to myself “this is about to get good!” The doe closest to me starts to run/trot towards me and into a gully out of view, but I can hear still hear her coming. I keep my eyes up where I first spotted the deer and see the buck she was concerned about as he makes his way into the cut trotting in their direction. I can clearly make out his rack and deep brown tuft of hair that covered his forehead. I let him come for 40 yards or so and when he turns more broadside I touch off the oh-six. He turns and runs broadside as I send three more his way. I can see his antlers as he gets towards the edge of the cut and think I see him stumble. I throw in a fresh clip and make my way up into the cut to try to intersect his route of travel. I don’t find where he cut through so I head to the side of the cut and find him piled up in a deep skidder rut.





 
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802-603hunter

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I can’t believe the mass on his antlers. I am somewhat awe stricken for a few minutes as I snap some pictures where he lay. His rut driven musk fills the air as I take in the moment. I can’t find a stump nearby so I drag him into the woods to find a spot for the camera to use the self-timer.





Not aware my self-timer is still snapping pictures I catch myself checking out his mass, I think my exact thoughts were along the lines of "oh my f**k!":


 
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802-603hunter

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I checked the GPS, it would be a .8 mile drag but mostly downhill. A dusting of snow is a drag ropes best friend! He doesn’t drag terribly bad when sticking to the leaves and grass on the edge of the road.

 
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802-603hunter

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Brought him to the check-in station and weighed him in at 194 pounds. Headed back to camp and got him hung up for the night.

A penny on his main beam for reference on his mass:






For me 2015 will be very hard to beat!
 
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massthru

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That's is awesome! Congrats AGAIN on an amazing year. I hope you get your chance to match it some day.
 

NH Hunter

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Awesome season, with an awesome write up. Thanks for taking the time to post the pictures and the stories.
 

Wentloc

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Congrats on the awesome year! The taxidermy bill is going to be pricey this year!!
 

amclimber

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Great write up. Thanks for the effort in putting it together. ...and GREAT BUCK. I'm surprised he didn't go over 200. Congratulations.
 

Meatseeker

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Wow... Congrats to an amazing season! VT, NH, ME. All nice bucks... crazy.. You are on a crazy hot streak.... MA gun season opens monday.... you might as well go for the Perfecta!
 




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