Sunday, August 14, 2011

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

I have been severely lax this summer in updating my blog. I'll need to catch up with hikes, fishing trips, camping, and more but the highlight of our summer so far has been a week at Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

We rented a cottage within easy walking distance of the beach.

One of the first questions I get regarding vacationing on the beach in Maine is about the water temperature. Surprisingly, in August, the water temperature was not frigid. It was nearly 70 degrees. The surf was rather large at high tide, which made for some fun activities. Old Orchard Beach also has a dramatic low tide that reveals hundreds of yards of flat beach. During low tide you find many families (including ours) utilizing this flat, packed sand area for activities like bocce, Frisbee, football and kite flying. The beach itself is large enough that getting a spot is not an issue. We had no trouble getting enough real estate to spread out on the beach. However, the beach does become more crowded closer to the pier area.
The weather cooperated for us, and although some days were overcast, the rain mostly held off. It was a good week of relaxing on the beach.

Old Orchard Beach is 7 miles long. The north end of the beach features a wooden pier. This is the center of the commercial operation of the beach. Around the pier you find a lot of the kitschy tourist stuff like t-shirt shops, souvenir shops, and arcade, and an amusement part. There are several eating establishments that should be able to appeal to any appetite. Several ice cream shops are set up around the pier area, many featuring home made ice cream.
For the adults, there are also many bars and clubs in and around the pier. Although I did not get a chance to check any of them out, several seemed to be quite active.

The south end of the beach is home to a section of the beach called Ocean Park. Ocean Park is much smaller and lest tourist oriented. If has a delicious ice cream shop, a nice bakery/deli, and some small shops. If you feel like a nature hike, there is a pine forest in the Ocean Park section of town with some easy to walk trails. The Ocean Park section is less known to tourists than the pier, but I recommend checking it out if you are staying in Old Orchard Beach.

Old Orchard Beach certainly has people, but it's not so crowded that you can not get around by car. Access in and out of the area with most of the cottages is not difficult. The closer you get the pier, the more difficult driving becomes due more to the high number of pedestrians more than the car volume. Although car travel is doable, by far the best way to get around Old Orchard Beach is by bike. Cars are generally courteous to bikers and pedestrians. Since the roads are paralleling the sea, most of them are flat and easy ride. Each day we rode, usually multiple times, to the pier area and to Ocean Park.

Besides the beach and the town, there are several nearby attractions that make good day trips. We took 2 day trip adventures. One was to Freeport to do some shopping at the headquarter store of LL Bean. The other was to the Maine Animal Park with a stop in downtown Portland for a late lunch. Others went to a nearby Zoo in York, an amusement part, and a water park known as the Aquaboggin.

The fact that I was able fully read two books while I was there speaks to the laid back nature of the vacation. Even with 4 kids, the adults were able to relax as the kids kept themselves mostly busy on the beach. I think we made a good decision breaking up the beach days with a couple of day trips.

I hardly did an official investigation, but I believe the "going rate" for a small cottage within easy walking distance of the beach was about $1500 per week for a 2-bedroom cottage. Bigger houses are available, and most people split the cost with one or more families. There are also many motels lining the beach on both sides to the pier. All of them were fully booked while we were there (we saw many No Vacancy signs), so I would suggest booking well ahead of time. One note on location: since there is a large, protected grass dune between the buildings and the beach at Old Orchard Beach, there are really no true "beach front" cottages. All cottages and houses are separated from the beach by the grass dune. Therefore, even if at the first house closest to the beach, a short walk is still necessary to access the beach. For that reason, I recommend saving money and not getting the "beach front" cottage, and go for one, two, three, or four back from the beach. The walk is insignificant, but the cost savings is significant.

My family enjoyed our time at Old Orchard Beach, and would like to try to make it back in the near future.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Connecticut Turkey Hunting Opening Day 2011 – Making Adjustments

I was able to take a nice tom turkey on state land opening day. I’ve written in past posts that hunting state land (or public land) sometimes requires some different techniques than private land. On state land you always have to be concerned and aware of other hunters. This was again the case for me on this opening day.

I heard only one gobble all day. That was about 10 paces from my car in the parking lot after hitting an owl call first thing in the morning. There were gobblers roosted in a tree near the parking lot. Right after hearing the gobble I heard hen yelping. No more gobbles, but more hen yelping. Now, this could have been one of two things. It could have been a legitimate hen yelping to the roosted gobblers, or it could have been another hunter. There were no other cars in the parking lot, but this particular tract of land has a parking lot at each end. There could have been a car parked on the other side that I did not know about. Based on the urgency of the calling, I concluded that most likely it was another hunter. So, against my better judgment, I actually walked AWAY from the gobbles, and went to find a new spot. That’s an example of some of the difficulties associated with state land hunting. Regardless, I might have scared those gobblers anyway because even though the hen yelps continued, there was no more gobbling. Also, the fog was so thick at that point in the morning that the turkeys could have been right in front of me and I would not see them.

Due to the thick layer of fog limiting my visibility, I decided the best strategy would be to set up decoys in an open area, make a few calls, and wait for the fog to burn off. Maybe I would get luck and attract a flock. I set up my decoys on the top of a knoll with good visibility. The decoys could be seen in multiple directions. I think sat in some thicket and made some calls. Very soon after making some calls, I heard hen yelping returning my calls. Again, this could have been a real hen, or another hunter. I called some more. This time the mystery creature responded with about 50 loud and aggressive hen yelps. This was obviously another hunter. Even the most love-struck hen would not scream at the top of her lungs for 2 minutes straight. This was a rookie hunter that must have caught sight of my decoys and decided to get aggressive. Over calling is a common mistake for new turkey hunters, but this guy was over-the-top. He was so loud and obnoxious that he likely scared away everything in the county. I tried whistling to let him know there was another hunter there, but his calls were so strong that he could not hear me. Finally he stopped, and I let out a clear “Yo!”. There would be no way for him to mistake that this was the setup of another hunter. I thought he got the point, so shortly after I gave a few soft calls. He responded again! This guy was not getting the hint, so I totally shut up. Apparently he became frustrated and finally went to a different area. Finally there was just the noise of the natural woods, but this would not be the last I would hear from this guy. Again, another aggravation that cannot be avoided with forced to hunt state land in Connecticut.

After sitting for about 30 minutes waiting for the fog to clear, I happened to see 2 hens bring pursued by a strutting gobbler crossing a field to my right. They were come in my general direction, but not directly at my decoys. I tried to entice them over, but there was no way that tom was going to leave his two hens, and those hens were not interested. They disappeared behind the other side of the knoll. Turkeys move at their own pace. These hens were successfully feeding, so they were in no particular hurry to go in any one direction. Therefore, I waited hoping that their curiosity might get the better of them and they might come back over the knoll to check out my decoys. I waited about 30 minutes, however nothing appeared. I could not see the birds, but it did not seem like they had any interest in my location. It then occurred to me that it might be possible that these birds were still feeding in the opening just on the other side of this knoll. This was the direction they were headed, so it was a possibility. I decided to leave my set up and carefully walk to the other side of the knoll. The knoll had some bushes and pine trees for cover. I slowly made my way over the hill. Sure enough, the 3 birds were about 150 yards into the field on the other side of the slope. The hens were still feeding, and the tom was still strutting. I carefully crawled as close to the field edge as I could. I was afraid I would be detected, but I had to get into a decent position if I had any chance at attracting these birds. I gave a few calls and observed. They definitely heard me. As soon as I called the hens stretched their necks high to look for me. I waited to see if they would come any closer. They did not seem to me moving in my direction. Now I had another decision to make. I could sit and hope they would decide to come in my direction. This was a possibility. They turkeys were in a big field, and they might want to look for me. However, it seemed to me they were a little far away to entice to my position. Even though it meant again risking being spotted, I decided to get up and circle through the woods, and try to come out again on the edge of the field much closer to the group. This move had some risk, but I felt that I did not have much to lose.

I carefully walked through the woods along the edge of the field just out of sight of anything that might be in the field. I could not see the birds, so I had to try to judge where to come out. I made my way to the field edge, but still could not see the birds. Finally I spotted them. They were about 50 yards away, but very close to the edge of the field. In order for me to clearly see them, I would have to stick my head out of the brush, which would surely give away my position. However, I was now significantly closer to the birds. They were just out of gun range. If I could get them to just come a little closer to me I would likely have an opportunity at a shot. Using a large tree to cover my silhouette I got as close to the field edge as I could. I was not able to sit down, so I kneeled across the back side of the tree. This allowed me to be covered by the tree and peer through the bushes to see the birds rather than trying to pop my head out the front of the tree. I then began to imitate a feeding hen. I made mostly soft purrs, clucks, and putts. I made very few yelps, and any yelps I made were soft. I was close so there was no need to scream. Additionally, at this point I was mostly trying to attract the hens, and not the tom. Even though I was closer, the tom was still unlikely to leave his two ladies. By imitating a feeding hen, I thought I might be able to get the two hens to come towards me, and the tom would surely follow. Well, my strategy worked. The 2 hens slowly came looking for their sister.  The hens continued to come even though that same hunter that was intruding on my hunt earlier was now trying to call these same birds from the very far end of the field!  If he ruined my hunt within the last 50 yards, I may have changed strategies and went looking for him rather than another tom! The turkeys basically paid no attention of these call from the other hunter some 200+ yards away.  However, now I had a different problem. I had 2 hens searching the field edge for another turkey. The hens were getting dangerously close to me. I feared they would bust me before the tom came into range. One of the hens got to about 10 feet from me and just started straight at me for 30 seconds or so. I held perfectly still. She did not totally like what she saw, but she was not fully frightened either. She let out some quick putts, and started to casually walk away. When she did that, the other hen and the tom followed. Following the hen, the tom walked right across me, into an opening in the brush. Because of the close proximity of the hens, I was earlier not able to get my gun into shooting position. Now that the tom was in range, I had to get the gun up and shoot all in one motion. I was able to get it done, and I put the tom down with the first shot. He was maybe 15 yards away.


The biggest lesson learned here is that when the turkeys won’t come to you, sometimes you have to go to them. Moving should not be your first option. Patience is more often the key to turkey hunting success. However, there are times when taking that risk can pay off.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Winter of 2010-2011 a Tough One for Outdoor Activities

Between excessive work and excessive snow, I have not had the opportunity to get out much durng this winter.  I was not able to hit the the ice even once to go fishing.  That's a shame.  However, I'll be looking forward to making up for it once the warmer weather hits.  Fishing and turkey season are not far away.  Spring turkey season opens April 27 in Connecticut.  In 2011 look for a few more posts on fishing, a trip to Old Orchard Beach in Maine, camping, hiking, and of course hunting stories.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Poll: What's your favorite outdoor magazine?

Comment on your favorite outdoor magazine.  I have a subscription to the first 4.

1. Field & Stream
2. Outdoor Life
3. American Hunter
4. Sport Fishing
5. Deer and Deer Hunting
6. Others (I'm sure there are many)

Friday, January 7, 2011

How to Obtain CT Sportsman License Credit in 2011

If you have not heard, the state of Connecticut likely over charged you for your 2010 fishing/hunting license if you purchased it before April 14, 2010.  Go to the link below to get information on how to obtain your rebate:

The first step is to determine how much the state owes you.  You can search at .  I found out that I was over charged $27 in 2010.  You can use that money to pay for your 2011 hunting/fishing license, which presently costs $38.  The only rub is that you can't get the rebate online.  You have to buy your 2011 license either by mail, or in person at one of the DEP locations.  I chose to do mine by mail.  I figured out how much I was owed ($27), filled out a simple form, wrote a check for the total minus $27, and mailed it in.

One tip: Connecticut has now started charging separately for inland and salt water licenses.  If you buy the hunting/fishing combo license, the state charges the same $38 for the inland fishing/hunting combo license as they do for the all-waters fishing/hunting combo license.  Be sure to chose the all-waters option to get both inland and salt water fishing together at no extra charge. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tips to Cleaning A Muzzleloader

Cleaning a muzzleloader is essential to gun longevity, but also accuracy.  Black powder is more corrosive, and "dirtier" than standard smokeless powder, so regular cleaning is even more important for your muzzleloader than for your standard gun.

The process for cleaning a muzzleloader is essentially the same as it is for cleaning any other gun.  However, there are three tips I can pass on that make the job much easier. 

Tip #1 -- Consider the type of powder used:
Certain powders are specifically designed to burn cleaner.  Using these powders will make clean up easier without any loss in performance that I can see.  Winchester Triple 7 powder and primers are both designed to be cleaner burning.  I have been using this powder for a while now, and I recommend it.

Tip #2 -- Use a cleaning solvent specifically designed for black powder:
Regular cleaning oil (like Hoppes #9) will not work to dissolve black powder.  You need a solvent specifically designed for black powder.  These solvents are generally water based, and many have a citrus scent.  They work great to break down black powder.  My method is to take out the breech plug, and letting it soak in a bowl of solvent.  I then proceed to clean the bore dipping the patch in the solvent-filled bowl. 

Tip #3 -- Lubricate the breech plug before screwing it back in:
Taking the breech plug out can be a struggle if it's not lubricated.  Lubricant specifically designed for black powder is available.  I use this, but I suspect some standard type of lubricant would do. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lessons From Butchering Your Own Deer

I'm no expert.  In fact, this was the first time I ever attempted to cut up my own deer.  Normally, I take them to the butcher.  However, there is a certain satisfaction acquired from taking an animal from field to table 100% on your own.

It came out OK.  I was able to get it done.  I did not really consult any books.  I just sort of did what I thought was right based on previous cuts I've received from the butcher, and some general knowledge.  Below I've listed some tips to consider based on my first-time experience.

The only hand tools I used to butcher the entire deer were 2 hunting knives, a sharpening stone, and a hack saw.  This is assuming that you have an area set up to work.  My work station consisted of a piece of ply wood on 2 saw horses.  I hung the deer from a cross beam in my garage (head facing the earth) using clothes line rope strung through the hind legs.
I got several large bowls to put the meat in once it was cut.  I also used a cutting board.
It would be helpful to have water available to clean.  I had an outside hose that I was able to use to wash the meat.

Below I've listed every thing I used:
  • 2 hunting knives
  • 1 sharpening stone
  • 2 saw horses
  • 1 piece of plywood
  • 1 cutting board
  • 3 bowls
  • 1 garbage can
  • 1 hose
  • 1 rope
  • hack saw
There were several tools that I did not have that would have been useful.

Tools I did not use, but would have liked to have had:
  • gambrel
  • large butcher knife
  • bone saw
  • sink
  • meat grinder
Before starting I went and purchased a new saw blade from the hardware store.  I bought some butcher paper from the local grocery store.  I had a difficult time finding freezer tape, so I ended up using normal all-purpose masking tape.  It seemed to work OK, but certainly not as good as freezer tape.  I had to use excessive amounts of the masking tape to ensure it would stay sealed. 
  • 1 roll of freezer paper
  • masking tape (although I would have preferred actual butcher freezer tape)
  • 1 permanent marker for labeling the packages

These are the steps I took to butcher this deer.  Again, this was my first time, so the purpose of me writing this is not not really give you the step-by-step instructions, but rather to tell you what I did so you can make a better decision on how you want to proceed.

  1. Clean the deer - This is done in the field. This article is assuming that you've already completed this crucial first step.
  2. Hang the deer -- I used standard rope to hang my deer.  I cut slits in the hind leg tendon just behind the knee, and tied a rope to each leg.  I then threw the rope over a cross beam in my garage, and pulled like hell to hoist the deer.  I tied off the ropes to a camp trailer in my garage.  At that point, I let the deer hang for one full week.  You will see differing views on how long to let a deer hang.  However, if you can do it, I recommend 1 week.  Hanging the deer, even for just a few days, tenderizes the meat, and greatly increases the taste and enjoyment of the meat.  Of course, this is assuming temperatures are low enough to allow hanging.  In Connecticut and most of New England this is generally not an issue during the hunting season.  You want the meat to be at "refrigerator temperature" while it hangs.  Generally you don't have to worry about freezing, especially if the deer is hung inside and the hide is left on.
  3. Skin the deer -- This is pretty simple to do, but one of the most physical parts of the process.  I started by cutting a ring around the hind legs, then following a line from the leg down to the body cavity opening.  At that point, I simply started pulling.  The skin peels off.  I would gently run my knife along the connection of the skin to the body as I pulled to loosen the skin as I went down.  I took my time and just slowly worked the hide down from both legs to the neck.  I pulled the hide as close to the head as possible.  At that point, I used my saw to remove the head.  The hide and all came off along with the head. 
  4. Bisect the deer -- Using my hack saw, I carefully cut the deer in half length-wise.  I started at the tail bone, and cut down towards the neck.  I was careful to stay in the middle so as not to damage any of the valuable backstrap meat.
  5. Now with the deer hanging in two pieces from my garage, I untied a half and slapped it onto my plywood work station.  First I removed the backstraps.  This is the meat strip on the back of the deer along the spine.  I ran my hunting knife along the spine, then underneath and removed the back strap in one long strip.  At that point, I cut the back strap into steaks, putting them in the bowl for later packaging. 
  6. With the backstraps removed, I next went about the business of removing the 2 shoulders from the brisket.  I cut the connecting meat, then simply twisted the joint.  The legs came off.
  7. I cut the rump in half making a roast including the bone.  The rest of the leg I removed from the bone and cut into steaks.  Any small pieces, I cut into stew sized chunks.  As I got lower on the legs, I got more stew, and less steaks.
  8. I repeated this for the front leg, but did not make a roast.  The front leg was only steaks and stew.
  9. Any other meat areas were cut off and made into stew meat.
  10. I tried to remove as much silver skin and fat from the steaks as possible.  Some of the direction of cuts I made could have been done better to minimize this.  I won't really know how good a job I did until it's time to eat the steaks.
  11.  Repeat for the second half of the deer.
  12. Wash the meat -- Before packaging I washed all the meat to ensure no hair or bone particles was left on the meat.
  13. Packaging and labeling -- I packed the backstrap steaks together.  I packed the shoulder steaks together.  I double wrapped everything, and labeled them "Backstrap", "Shoulder", "Stew", "Roast".
  14. The meat is now stored in the freezer ready for consumption.

If you have the time and want to save some money, cutting them up yourself is an option.  In this case, I only shot a small deer, so I knew this would be an easier job than usual.  However, I can say that after cutting up the deer myself, for my money, the butcher is worth it.  The butcher will cut the deer up exactly as you wish, wrap it, and label it.  Unless you have a meat grinder at home, you will not get full use of the entire deer.  Even if you have a grinder, the butcher adds either beef or pork to the ground meat, which is necessary for venison.
If you want to get in touch with your inner caveman, don't be intimitated.  Butchering deer yourself is a job you can handle.  It may not come out perfect, but who's going to know?   I was glad I did this to learn, and depending on the circumstances I may try it again, but I can say that my default process in the future will be to take the deer somewhere and let the experts do a first rate butchering job. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Muzzleloader Deer Avoids 2010 Shut Out

I harvested a doe this past weekend to put meat in the freezer for 2010. It was my first muzzleloader deer. I was able to hit the deer in the vitals (although about 3 or 4 inches lower than ideal) using my CVA Wolf Magnum inline muzzleloader from about 120 yards. I know the muzzleloader advertisers and scope makers publish muzzleloader capabilities up to 200 yards and beyond, but in my mind, this long of a shot was quite a test of muzzleloader accuracy. The CVA Wolf passed the test. I was slowly and carefully walking up a steep hill when I spotted this deer. The shot was taken standing while leaning against a tree. I used 2 powder pellets (100 grain equivalent) with a 245 grain Powerbelt muzzleloader bullet (green in color). Most modern magnum muzzleloaders can take up to 150 grains of powder (3 pellets). I chose to use only 100 grains and it seems to be accurate up to long distances. You don’t get many 100-plus yard opportunities in the dense forests of New England. I was fortunate enough to get a clear opening.

Because of the smoke cloud that lingers after a muzzleloader shot, it can often be difficult to determine if your shot hit target or not when using a muzzleloader. This was the case for me. By the time the smoke cleared, I looked around and saw no sign of the deer. I walked over to the spot where the deer was standing. I saw absolutely no blood. I looked around intently in all directions. No sign of the deer. I decided to remain in the spot in which the deer was standing. I was hunting with a friend, and upon hearing my shot he decided to walk towards me. I was ready to declare a missed shot, when he told me that he found the deer on the ground about 40 yards from where I was standing. I was quite lucky that he happened to find that deer. There was no blood anywhere! Even with a layer of snow on the ground, there was no blood trail. That deer would have been lost if not for my friend running into it. As you can imagine, I was quite pleased that we found the deer.

My friend and my father continued hunting the rest of the day. After cleaning the deer, I dragged it back to the parking area. Since my hunting was done, I decided to sit in the car and listen to the radio until they returned. I took a short nap while sitting in the car. At one point, I opened my eyes to see two deer running right in front of my car! It was a doe being chased by a full grown buck, 6 or 8 points). He had his head down and was pursuing the doe impervious to my presence. It was a scene typically reserved for the peak of the chase phase of the rut, but this was December 11. I’ve read about the “second rut” (a second estrus cycle for does that happened to not be impregnated during the initial rut), but this was the first time I had seen it in action. This buck was definitely in rut mode. Little did I know that I could have stayed at the car, and had a shot at a better deer than anything I saw in the woods!

This deer is presently hanging in my garage. Next weekend I’m going to try butchering the deer myself. This will be the first time I’ve done this on my own. I’ll include an entry next week regarding this task.

Lessons Learned
In every trip into the woods, whether successful at harvesting game or not, I find that I learn something.

1) The distance and accuracy capabilities of modern inline muzzleloaders are not just hype. They indeed are capable of shots in the deer woods approaching rifle capabilities.
2) Not every deer shot in the vital area produces a blood trail. Be careful when you think you missed. Search the entire area because even though you see no blood, you still may have hit the deer.
3) The second rut is not all hype. It certainly does exist. This means that doe scents can be effective into mid-December.
4) When taking a long shot, take time to get yourself a good rest. I made sure I was securely resting my front hand on a tree before taking the shot. I also took the time to adjust my scope. I’m sure I would have missed if I did not take the time to do these two things.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shutout in Deer Season, So Far

I've hunted as hard as my schedule would allow for deer, but so far I have been shut out. Some of it is my own fault; some of it is out of my control. However, after a very fruitful 2009, 2010 is turning into the year of the shutout. Maybe more correctly, I should say it's the year of the near miss. Or, to be even more severe, the year of blowing it!

I blew it during spring turkey; calling in a bird for over an hour, then losing my patience and taking a shot before it was in range. I have not hunted pheasants as much as in past years, but I have not even had a chance at a flushed bird this year. However, I did have a cock walk right past my car door as I was finishing my coffee before heading out to the field. I could not find a shell fast enough to pursue him.

When it comes to deer, so far I've been shut out in two states.

I blew it in New Hampshire. I had an 8-pointer trot past me in pursuit of 2 does. Problem was, he was moving so fast I could not even get him in my scope. I took a desperation show through some trees just before he ducked away for good, but missed. Some have suggested that I should have grunted or made some noise to freeze him. In hindsight I guess that may have worked. I wanted to track him in the scope before freezing him, but it never happened. The whole episode only lasted less than 10 seconds. There was not a lot of time for fumbling around. It's likely that nothing was going to stop that buck since he was right on the tail of the does. I remained in that spot for the entire day, and I saw 5 deer in total, but only that one buck.
In Connecticut I only have access to public land. Public land hunting requires a little different strategy from private land. Not only do you have to find the heavily pressured deer, but you have to avoid the other people. I was not overly familiar with the land I was on, so the first few days I had less than ideal spots. I finally found some good spots on the last day of the season. I spotted 3 deer, but they were too far away for a realistic shot.

My last chance at redemption in 2010 is muzzleloader season which starts December 8 in Connecticut.

So, although I did not make any kills in 2010, I still had an interesting season in which I saw a lot of game. Hopefully I can learn from my mistakes and come back with a vengeance in 2011.

2010 Lessons Learned (so far)
1. This year was the first year I sat in one spot for an entire day. I was proud of myself to get it done. Sitting in one spot for an entire day is not an easy task, but it is possible if you come prepared. First off, you have to have confidence in your spot. There is no sense in siting in a bad spot all day. Besides, if you do not have confidence in your spot, there is no way you will be able to sit there all day anyway. Your mind will drive you crazy and force you to move. To have confidence in your spot you need to have a few things. First, you need to have good vision. You need to be able to see in a few directions. Being up in a tree helps, but I'm not a fan of tree hunting unless it's for archery. Secondly, you need to see deer sign. Preferably through your scouting you've seen deer in the spot in the past. Third, you need some comfort. A stump or a rock or some kind of chair is useful. You will not be able to sit in one spot for an entire day if you are not comfortable. Another key to being able to sit all day is being prepared, both mentally and with your gear. You need to dress warm! Even on relatively warm days, you will get cold sitting still. Dress warmer than you think you need to, and you will likely be ok. You should be dressed so warm that you over heat when walking. You may prefer to pack some layers in a backpack and put them on after you get to your spot so you don't start sweating while walking in. You also should pack some food. You will get hungry while sitting. Even if you don't, eating a lunch gives you something to do to keep your mind sharp. I usually pack a sandwich, granola bar, a piece of fruit, and something to drink. That's typically enough to keep me happy for a full day. Lastly, you might consider something to keep your mind sharp. Maybe a book or magazine is required to keep you from going stir crazy. This may be blasphemy to some hard core hunters, but whatever it takes to keep you on stand, awake, and sharp is a good tool. If you have a good spot, being able to sit all day will certainly pay off, especially during the chase phase of the rut.
2. I've mentioned this before, but a thin pair of glove liners makes a huge difference in warmth. Cabela's sells a thin silk glove liner for less than $10. The silk is so smooth and thin that you hardly can tell you have them on, but the extra warmth they provide is substantial.
3. Scouting is key on public land. Try to know the land you are hunting. This was my first year in this spot, so I did not know the land as well as I would have liked. Therefore, my parking spot was unnecessarily far from my hunting spot. I was not able to get in early enough. I should have been sitting at first light. Instead, I was still walking, and spooked the deer before getting a chance at a good shot. Additionally, I spend the first several days of the season in poor deer spots. Now that I have more knowledge of this area, I'll be a more effective hunter next year.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Replacing Pheasant Tags

The Connecticut DEP claims they sent me my pheasant tags (that I paid for 6 weeks before the start of the season), but I never received them.  I finally got my tags.  However, I had to drive to Hartford, and sign a sworn affidavit saying that I never received my original tags.  Bottom line, I got my tags.  Finally.