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JDK

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08/29/16

Opening day of bear season.

Much like last year the first night of bear season found me sitting near a spot that has produced a lot of bear sightings over the years. One month of scouting has me wondering where all of the bear are and while there are tons of apples and choke cherries there is very little bear sign anywhere I have been. Wind was cranking out of the NW and while warm, the air had a definite fall feel to it. Sat from 6:30 PM to dark and saw nothing. I did see a few flocks of geese which opens up Thursday. While a great night to sit and it feels good to have a rifle in hand again. it is a little discouraging to not have a plan.

I picked up a camera on the way home and 2 weeks of sitting did not produce a single picture of anything.


 
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8/30/16

Heavy rain tapering to showers then partly cloudy. West winds swirling to SW and SE at times. I strapped the rifle to my shoulder and took off to a new area. Soaked within the first five minutes but I had hoped to hit the period when the rain stopped. Not really a hunt tonight but more of a walk with a rifle. I crossed the stream and worked my way up through a cut to a field. In the middle of that field was a black blob, a big very healthy looking cow. First moose I have seen in a long time. Worked my way through some apple trees/scrub patches and saw a large doe. At 7:00, I realized I was a long way from home and most likely should start to head back. Poked my way along the edges of a bunch of fields and saw another small deer. When it became too dark to shoot, I hit a field road and worked my way home. Jumped a couple of other deer in the dark. Overall a lot more deer sign in that area but not much for bear. Maybe when they start to cut the oats it will begin to concentrate them a little better. About a 5 mile walk that left me soaking wet and sore. It felt GREAT.

More geese around tonight and a lot of ducks also.
 
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8/31/16

Partly cloudy with thunderstorms off to the north. Light WSW winds. A buddy asked if I could keep an eye open for geese as he planned to hunt the opener. Having nothing to lose, I climbed to the top of a hill with panoramic views and glassed. Very impressive lightening display off to the north with lots of thunder. I watched a doe and fawn for about 30 minutes and that was really it for the evening. Mosquitoes were brutal. While there isn't a lot of bear sign, I am starting to get a game plan for archery deer. On the way home, I bumped into the landowner. He indicated that they were going to start cutting the oats Thursday. The combine showed up this morning so I may take a few days off.

Saw maybe 30 geese and my buddy found a field with 150. It will be interesting to see how he does.



 
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Labor Day Weekend

Took a break from "bear hunting" and decided to fish a little.

When the screen looks like this...





And you are catching these....







It isn't hard to pass on evening walks.
 

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9/5/16

Clear, warm and humid. Moderate SE winds. Decided to take a walk out back and grab the camera. The oat harvest is in full swing and the farmer is tilling just as fast as he is harvesting. This may be good as it reduces the number of food sources around. Anyway, it must have been a night for young ones. I topped a little rise in the field and there are two fawns about 50 yards away. Sat down and they walked right up to me, maybe 15 feet or so. Cute little guys. I talked to them for a while and they didn't really seem to know what to do. The next field over had a big doe feeding, not sure if she was the Mom but she was about 1/3 of a mile away. A little further on I came across a family of fox playing in the stubble. They were also cute. Not a bad 45 minute walk.
 

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Last few days.

Very warm and humid. SE, SW, and W winds. Doesn't feel like hunting weather at all but the deer are certainly moving around a lot. Lots of deer, more and more geese, and more moose sign. Getting stands ready for archery.
 

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9/14/16

Haven't posted in a while as I figured no one wants to read the same old it is hot, humid, I'm sweating and feeding the mosquitoes posts. Tonight we had strong NW winds and a cold front come through that dumped 3/4 of an inch of rain. I figured I should take a walk out back to see what I could see. The same 4 deer were feeding in the corner they have been all summer. Made a quick swing through the berry/apple patch and noticed a good bit of bear sign and decided to sit until dark. At 6:30 I see a bear working its way toward me and it actually is a pretty decent sized one. He worked his way towards me for a good 10 minutes and I just couldn't decide. It was a nice bear but not a great one (about the size of the one I killed last year.) At 50 yards he stood on his hind legs and looked at me. I have to admit that he looked bigger yet. he then sulked off into the brush. Maybe I made a mistake but I know that there are bigger around. Time will tell.

Tons of geese around.
 
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9/15/16

SSW winds, clear and cool, a beautiful night. Matt (MGK) and I took a walk as I wanted to show him some stand sites I had picked out. We made our loop and really only thought one site was decent. He wanted to see where I shot my bear last year so we worked our way over there. Topping a small rise he whispered BEAR and brought up the binoculars. A very nice bear in the exact same spot as last year. Actually a definite shooter bear. We hunched over and worked our way to a small knoll we could get behind and get closer. Sadly, we worked our way right to a doe and 2 fawns. They stomped, they blew, they bolted right over the hill to where the bear was. We were done. This bear had a tan snout compared to the all black one of the night before and appeared to be bigger. Still not a lot of sign around but they are definitely showing up. Apples and cherries have all but disappeared in the area.

Lots of geese around tonight. All in all a nice night.
 
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9/16/16

Back in the same spot tonight. Hot, humid, and strong SE winds. Nothing moving except the mosquitoes. Thankfully northern Maine doesn't have the zika virus or I'd have it. Taking a few days off to fish.


9/19/16

NE to east winds with torrential rains. I don't often admit that I did something stupid but tonight was stupid. Absolutely torrential rains but I went anyway. Sat out back until 6:30ish when the wind went full east and messed me up. I did bump in the neighborhood of 500 geese out of a field. Nothing else for the evening. Field roads were flooded and everything is a muddy mess. Full dark is now 6:50. Amazing how fast it changes.
 
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9/21/16

SW winds, cool and beautiful. Decided to go out back tonight and sit until dark. Tons of geese in the field again but was able to get around them without spooking. Sat until 6:30 when I hear the geese take off and a tractor out in the field. Farmer is tilling the clover. Figured I'd go say hello and see what was up. Made a little swing and noticed that the apples and choke cherries are completely gone. Nothing left at all. Only thing remaining is some high bush cranberry. Talked to the farmer for a bit and they are going to start the potato harvest out there this week. Time to move. Literally thousands of geese overhead tonight.

Archery stands are hung, getting ready for the bird trip next weekend, moose starts Monday. I love this time of year.
 

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I have been out most nights but a roofing project has made the trips short. Potato harvest is in full swing and there is a lot of activity in the fields right now. Farmers have also tilled nearly all of the clover and oats so there isn't a lot of feed in the general area. As mentioned, I'm amazed at how quickly the apples and cherries dried up even through we have been getting a ton of rain. Even still, I have been seeing a lot of deer, tons of ducks and geese but no bear. Discovered that a guide is baiting on 3 adjoining farms which I'm sure has cut down the numbers. Hung a couple more stands and am ready for archery hunting. I sat last night (9/26/16) in a new spot and watched 2 very nice buck spar for 10-15 minutes. Very nice hard horned bucks. Leaves are turning, air is crisp, and the boat is put away.
 

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9/29/16

Clear, cool, and beautiful. First night of archery and I was in a stand overlooking a well used run. Sat from 3:45 to dark and saw 2 raccoons. Woods seemed dead tonight. My wife saw 5 deer in the field 300 yards from the house and said one was a nice buck. Of course it was. Off on the bird trip for a few days.
 

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10/1/16-10/4/16

30th anniversary of our first bird trip in the North Maine Woods. We headed south for the first time ever and hunted new areas. Also the first year in a long time that I carried the old 20ga rather than the cannon. Hunting was very tough as the foliage was extremely thick but we still managed a few birds each day. Certainly not the numbers we are used to but still some birds. It was also the first time in quite a few years that I have had the opportunity to hunt with my oldest son, something I have missed. We walked 16 miles on Saturday (according to his fit bit) and based on the burning in my knees, I'd have to agree. I also greatly appreciated what the 20 ga didn't weigh at the end of the day. Saturday evening, he and I walked into a cow and 3 bulls who were fighting. Pretty impressive to have them at less than 25 yards and going at it pretty heavily. One very very nice bull. I was also very impressed with the amount of moose sign we saw once you got off the beaten path.

In total, we averaged seeing 4-5 birds per person per day (we do not road hunt) and had enough opportunities to keep it interesting. We actually found a couple of decent pockets of birds Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning so if you find them, they are there. We saw 2 deer and a good bit of sign in a few areas. Overall a great trip and we started to learn a new area that actually has some trees.

Foliage was spectacular Monday and Tuesday. Time to concentrate on archery.
 
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10/6/16

Clear and cool with no wind.

Would have though it would be a great night on stand. Perfect conditions. Sat from 4:30 to dark and saw an owl, porcupine, and rabbit. Not even any squirrels or geese moving around.

10/8/16 - AM

My wife and I went bird hunting in the morning. Very warm and humid. Walked between 6-8 miles in some of the best bird area around and saw- nothing. The woods were as dead as I have ever seen them. Never heard a shot all morning. Foliage is at peak and is spectacular. One of the best years I have seen in a long time.

10/8/16 - PM

Sat in another area from 3:30 to dark. Nothing. Very very warm and humid.

10/10/16

Very windy and cool. 20-25 degrees colder than Saturday. Got into the stand well before first light and just at first light I had a small buck wander by. It was early enough that I had a hard time seeing the pins. At; 6:45 someone on the neighboring farm killed a moose. Close enough that I just about jumped out of the stand. I could hear them loading. Several other shots from across the river. Then the wind really picked up so I left at 8:30. Hundreds of geese flying all morning and a partridge standing in the yard when I got home. I think it is going to be one of those years.

10/10/16 - PM

Hunted a friend's farm further west tonight. Wind was howling out of the NW and it was difficult (for me) to sit 20 feet up. Temperature dropped through the evening. At 6:10 I heard something coming down the game trail and see a guy with a rifle. HUMM. I yelled to him as I was pissed and he said he was "bear hunting." Farm is posted and according to Eric I'm the only one with permission. No issue sharing the woods but come on.

I did see 2 partridge
 
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10/15/16

I was able to hunt with my oldest son yesterday. Reports of dismal bird hunting had us looking for a new area and we ended up going to a totally new area to hunt. I did not have high hopes but we managed a day and Nathanael limited out at 9:30. Dad, on the other hand, was there for moral support and to keep the ammo companies in business. It was a great day with over 20 partridge and 3 woodcock seen.

 

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10/16/18-10/28/16

Through the end of archery season. I sat an average of three evenings a week through the 24th and saw nothing. No big game at all. Mid day scouting and long walks on the weekends didn't show me anything. I had the last week of archery off so I put a concentrated effort to try to find deer, any deer, the weekend before. Finally on Sunday, I found a couple of spots that at least had some sign. Monday I sat in howling winds and cold weather and at 8:00 a nice buck came slinking down the trail. Sadly, I failed to clear any shooting lanes and it was far to brushy for me to get a shot. He ended up coming within 25ish yards. A decent 6 pointer. That evening, I went to a different stand as the wind changed and just at dark had two bucks at 60 yards. One was the same 6 and the other was a very very nice 10 pointer. Three bucks in one day after seeing squat for 2 weeks was encouraging.

I won't get into it but things went downhill for the remainder of the week and it proved to be very disappointing and frustrating. I'll just leave it and say that I never really had a shot until Friday morning when a doe and 2 skippers came by at 9:45 in that same brushy spot. I also didn't have a shot at them and wouldn't have anyway. I ended up pulling all of my stands by mid-day Friday.

Overall archery was extremely slow for me. I saw a grand total of 7 deer for the month. Last year I saw well over 100. Lots of shenanigans going on in the neighborhood which sort of made sense to me at the end of the week. It is what it is I guess.
 
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10/29/16

Opening day of rifle season. My buddy Mark and I hunted in a new area west of Stockholm. It certainly was nice not having the two and 1/2 drive to our traditional opening day spot. Mark dropped me off and went to check another spot.I jumped over the bank and immediately saw deer tracks. Hell that was almost better than my month of October. I picked my way up the ridge and found a couple of scrapes and rubs. Not a huge amount of sign but certainly encouraging. Poking around, it was apparent that nearly all of the sign was within a 1/4 mile of the road Getting back further and it dried up. I followed a trail and it crossed the road and went into a very thick swamp where I found a few more scrapes.

Mark met me at lunch to compare notes and he had seen 2 deer in another spot. We stayed put and I sat in the swamp until dark. Neither of us saw anything that afternoon. A good amount of shooting in the general area today but we never say anyone. A nice buck was being tagged in New Sweden.
 

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My vacation started 11/11 where I hunted out of the house for a few days before heading to camp. On Friday (11/11) I hunted a spot that I hadn't been to in years. A long ridge with 4-6 year old cuts along either side. Poking along the sidehill, I began to see scrape after scrape after scrape. In total about 40-50. I plunked my behind down and at 10:30 I see a doe bounding through the woods. She ran right up to me and stopped but kept looking back.. AHHHhaa. I see another deer coming and he walks to with 20 yards. A nice little 4 pointer. Had him dead to rights but passed as the sign in there was significantly bigger. Sat until dark and saw nothing.

Saturday, I went back and there were 6-8 new scrapes. Wind was howling but I sat a good portion of the day and didn't see a thing. Made a quick swing around the ridge and found another place with a lot of sign. Sat there until dark and nothing. I did see 8 moose and 6 partridge

Off to camp with a couple of exciting events. There actually was a lot more sign than years past so I sat on a run Monday. Saw nothing. Tuesday morning, headed back back to the same area when I hear crashing coming from behind me. A doe just screaming through the woods. I have never seen a deer run so fast in my life. She didn?t run around blowdowns, she ran through them. Tongue hang out and you could hear her breathing. Right on her tail was a coyote. No way in hell I could have hit it but I put some lead in the air. He veered off after that. Funny part is Dave was hunting 1.09 miles (GPS) away and had that doe go by him 10 minutes later. Said the same thing but without the coyote.

Friday was uneventful. Between the 4 of us hunting we saw 10 deer for the week. 9 does and one unknown. Not bad for an area that is known to be terrible when it is warm and there is no snow.
 

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I went to the Caribou City Office today at lunch and purchased my loser's tag...I mean muzzleloader permit. Two days downstate and next Saturday will be it for me.
 

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Thanksgiving week.

I was able to hunt Thanksgiving morning, Friday, and Saturday. Thanksgiving morning, Matt and I went into the area where I passed on the small buck. A few days of snow showed that the deer moved Tuesday night and Wednesday but not so much this day. I poked along the ridge and found a single set of fresh tracks that led me through the cut and into a lowland. Ran out of time and had to be home for dinner.

Friday morning I hunted around the house. Trails beat to mud and sign everywhere. I sat for a while and at 8:30 a does walks by. Hoping she had someone in tow, but it wasn't to be. At 10, another doe goes by. Nothing following. Everyone is telling me that every doe has a buck with them. I guess I found the 2 that didn't. I left for a while and then went back for a few hours before dark. Nothing.

Saturday is the last day of rifle season. I awoke to heavy snow and decided to go back where I saw the does. Not 50 yards from my mailbox, I cut a track that was made in the last few hours. Not a huge track but a nice one. I decided to follow. That buck led me on a 5+ mile romp through hell and high water. Through swamps, ridges, hellholes and general mayhem. I actually wasn't able to freshen the track up all that much but I did find a place where he made a fresh scrape with no snow in it. He lead me through old beaver ponds, through burdocks, and spruce plantations (God I hate the woods around my house). Finally he crossed a road onto land that was posted and I had to give up. I'll not lie, I was tried. In all of that traveling, I never cut another track.

That concluded my 2016 rifle season. I'm embarrassed to say that I hunted archery and rifle (2 solid months) an average of three times a week (not full days). In that time, I saw 13 deer. Three bucks and 10 does. Not very stellar in a year when everyone was killing or at least shooting at bucks. I learned some new country and learned some things about the neighbors and the neighborhood deer. It could be worse.
 
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