Monthly Archives: September 2009

Swamp donkeys 2, hunters 0

The next time you’re frustrated by high broccoli prices you may want to blame a Maine moose rather than your grocer. Today we saw where America’s largest member of the deer family have been helping themselves to hundreds of broccoli crowns at the farmer’s expense.

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Moose 1, Hunters drenched

Day #1 of the Maine moose hunt dawned with rain and it held most of the day. Even with good rain gear we got wet.

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Maine attraction

We made it to camp at mid-day and the setting is all a hunter could possibly desire.

The leaves are turning bright yellow and blood-red. The temperature is in the mid-50s, there’s a slight breeze and gentle drizzle.

It’s gorgeous.

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Things I’ve learned on fall vacation

Greetings from Portland, Maine.

The 30+hours driving over the past two days have offered the following lessons.

It’s OK to get lost in St. Louis if you find a station with $2.11 gasoline, the cheapest of the trip.

Pennsylvania, especially when the leaves are just starting to change on the mountains, is one of the most beautiful states in the nation. Seriously.

Driving a large, four-door, four-wheel-drive truck with Kansas tags kind of sticks out in bumper-to-bumper, 70 mph traffic of assorted small cars in major eastern cities.

Always check the scale on maps of eastern states. Some are pretty danged tiny. Towns a half-page apart on a big map may only  be as far apart as Wichita and El Dorado.

Never travel through New England without five or six gallons of assorted change to feed the toll booths.

Plan on averaging about 31.57 mph on any two-lane highway in the east. There are small towns about every five miles and no shortage of drivers.

After days of driving 17 and 14 hours the five hours on the third day seems like a short trip. That’s how far we are from the hunting lodge in extreme northeast Maine.

Moose season opens Monday!

Road warriors said it takes about 15 hours of driving to get from Topeka to New Stanton, Pa. They obviously didn’t know about the danged road construction in Ohio, and West Virginia, and Indiana.

It took us about 17 hours.

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Pearce’s pics – location better than skill

I’m living proof you don’t have to be a good photographer to get good outdoors photography. I don’t know a fraction of the camera knowledge The Eagle’s crew of full-time shooters has.

But I manage to make it to some pretty neat places and that helps.

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Cassie’s gift

092409cassiedeer_mp001Jeff Forcum was due some added happiness in his life.

He and his wife, Karen, got laidoff from Cessna in April.

Last week their 9-year-old daughter, Cassie, gave him enough to keep him smiling for years.

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Sure signs of fall

They say fall officially begins a little after 4 o’clock this afternoon.

I’ve been seeing signs it was already here for days.

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Hope it never strikes once…

I’m guessing most of you missed a heck of a light show at 5:30  a.m. this morning.

Heading west on Highway 50 I had storm systems on three sides. Some of the lightening was amazing.

To the north came broad flashes that covered huge patches of clouds. From the south and west came well-defined bolts and no two were alike.

A few were single strands that shot from the clouds to the ground as they danced from side to side. Many started as a single bolt before splitting into four or five fingers that ate up huge horizontal stretches of sky before dipping earthward.

The show was so intense I’m pretty sure I could have driven with my headlights off…but I didn’t try. Had the lightening continued two hours later I wouldn’t have tried a quick teal hunt, either.

Most of the folks I share the outdoors with are a pretty hardy lot. We routinely waterfowl hunt on days when the wind is slinging sleet like BBs against our frigid skin. I’ve fished in torrential rains and waded through crotch-deep snow drifts to get to a favored pheasant hunting spot.

But nobody in their right mind goes out, no matter how good the hunting, fishing or birding, when lightening is even a remote threat…especially when caring a 12 gauge or seven-foot ultra-light lightening rod in their hands.

Death by lightening strike is far more a realistic threat than being fatally shot by another hunter or maimed by a wild animal. The destructive possibilities of what appears so pretty from the distance is almost mind-boggling.

A dozen years after the fact my mind still goes back to a summer afternoon in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains. I was already limping along on a bad ankle after a skittish horse sent me flying from the saddle just minutes before.

We were moving into a building rain, headed for camp, when a bolt of lightening that started above our heads snaked to our left and dead-centered a huge hillside pine tree several hundred yards away.

It was like slow motion, seeing the  lightening go into the tree and the pine absolutely exploding into a shower of sparks and kindling. The yard-thick trunk was shattered about eight feet off the ground. In an utter downpour it was burning like a blow torch.

A  person can hustle pretty fast on a bum ankle when properly motivated.

Fortunately this morning’s system slid to the east before it was time to scatter decoys on a Reno County wetland. Still, we kept an eye on the clouds through-out the early morning hunt. One distant flash is all that would have been needed to send us to the truck.

I like watching lightening. But never when I’m standing outside.

Technology talks, wildlife walks

I’m guessing technology may save the lives of more wildlife this fall than any animal-rights protest.

The thought came to me as I recently watched several doves fly close to two hunting partners without drawing a round of fire. Both were looking down and checking Saturday afternoon football scores on their cell phones.

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