Oct 23, 2010

Archery Camp or Bust

I wait anxiously every year for the arrival of our annual week long archery hunt in New Jersey along the Delaware Water Gap and the time has come to pack up and hit the road.  The anticipation of deer camp builds with every phone call and email with camp members to finalize meal plans, arrival times as well as laying out some plans for where we are going to hunt.  My arrival at camp will mark the 33rd anniversary of my first camp experience when I was only 12 and it never gets old.  For many familiar faces and places may get old, but for me it breathes new life into my soul.  Uninterrupted time in the outdoors with friends and family, who could ask for more.  In the coming week we will spend time chasing whitetail deer, Eastern Turkeys and even some ducks as we lose ourselves in the greatest playground that mother nature offers up.  Every minute of every day is another opportunity to experience something new and to lose myself in the outdoors.  It doesn't make any difference to me if I am successful in my quests to harvest an animal or not as long as I have an opportunity to step outside.

Oct 22, 2010

Cell Phone Photos

One thing I am never without is a camera.  I prefer to tote along the Nikon D90 or the Canon Rebel but there are times that lugging around the big boys just isn't feasible and that is where the 5 megapixel camera on my Motorola droid comes in handy.  It takes up very little space and allows me to still take good quality pictures.  I have used my cell phone camera many times to take a shot of something that has caught my interest just as I'm sure many of you have.

Below are some of my favorites and I encourage you to share yours.

Early Morning at Race Rock, Long Island Sound

My first Penns Creek Brown Trout

Now that's how you get a deer out of the woods
View of the Delaware Water Gap from the top
Bluegill on the Fly Rod

Oct 21, 2010

The Thirteen Known Gods of Muzzleloading

This was posted on the CT Hunting-N-Shooting forum that I am a regular on and I just had to share it with everyone.  I'm sure Rick from Whitetail Woods would really appreciate this.  I don't know the origin of it but if someone does please share.

I have personal experience with  the Mizzfyre and Losdascru Gods and have witnessed visits from Gods Dubbuload and Dribaldzit to other shooters and it was difficult to keep my composure during their visits.

So how many of the thirteen gods have you encountered?

Oct 20, 2010

I'm being taunted by Turkeys this morning

As I sit here in my office getting ready for the first meeting of many today the taunting starts.  No not from my coworkers but from the Turkeys outside my office window.  It doesn't take long for my coworkers to start on me either.  Oh well it was a nice way to loose myself in the outdoors for a few minutes.

Oct 19, 2010

Welcome to the Outdoor Blogger Network

It's an exciting time for those of us who blog about the outdoors and for those that love to read about the outdoors thanks to the recent launch of the Outdoor Blogger Network

The idea for the Outdoor Blogger Network was born, appropriately enough, on a riverbank, via a conversation between two Outdoor bloggers with a simple vision that there was a need for a centralized place on the web for  people to find the best Outdoor related blogs.

So stop by the OBN and share a hand in making Outdoor Blogger Network THE place for everyone to come, find the best Outdoor blogs, and enjoy our great outdoors just a little more!

Spread the word and remember to share the passion!

Oct 18, 2010

CT waterfowl Opener report

This past Friday was the early season waterfowl opener here in CT and seeing the first season is only open for 10 days in the north zone we had to get out no matter what the weather had in store for us.  Thursday evening Busch Pilot, myself and my daughter took a quick scouting trip to a puddle we decided would be our opening day spot and we watched the ducks pour into our puddle as dusk set in.  As we were heading back to the truck with smiles on our faces there was no chance this Nor'easter was going to keep us from setting up on this puddle for the opener.  It was a sleepless night for me and not because of the thoughts of all those ducks but it was the pouring rain and high winds pounding the outside of the house that kept me up.  It was an early wake up and off to meet Busch Pilot where we would load up the pickle with all our gear and head out in the pouring rain and steady 20mph winds.  With the ducks already in the puddle we were doing our best to keep the noise down to a minimum but when you are pulling a canoe loaded with decoys, guns, paddles, vests and other miscellaneous gear down a railroad bed with no lights, it's hard to be quiet and it wasn't long before the ducks started stirring and doing a little quacking.

A view from the blind between the rain drops

We got the pickle in the water and paddled out to an island that would host our blind setup this morning and set out our decoys.  When legal shooting time arrive the weather made it impossible to ID the ducks so we waited for more light. The weather didn't keep the ducks down as we had some woodies buzzing the puddle with a some landing amongst the other ducks. It wasn't easy to keep still knowing we had ducks out in front of us just loafing on the water, but we did our best.  25 minutes into legal shooting with all those ducks still on the water 4 wood ducks buzzed our setup and made a circle around the pond and then locked up and setup for a landing and as they did I got so excited and forgot about the 20+ ducks already on the pond and called the shot only to miss.  With the first shot fired the pond exploded with ducks trying to get out and they were successful as they flew out on the only side we didn't have a open shot.  I was NOT happy with myself  but it sure was a site to see.   We got calmed back down and the birds started working back in.  We had a pair of Mallards land about 20 yards out and as they landed BP called the shot and up they went and down went a beautiful hen mallard while the drake escaped unscathed.  About 15 minutes later 2 more mallards came in and landed at the back of the puddle where they loafed around for 15 minutes before heading out and offering up a shot that I promptly missed but ol' Busch Pilot was there to back me up and drop another hen mallard.  By 8am the ducks seemed to stop moving and the weather had really picked up with some serious guests as well.   It was 9am before we had another flight of ducks look over the puddle but they never committed.    We packed it up at 10am and headed back to the truck to get dry and warm.   Although I shot terrible and we only had 2 mallard hens to show for our morning setup, we learned a ton this morning and in only our second season of duck hunting we still have plenty or learning to do.  I had other commitments for the afternoon so I wasn't able to get out but Bush Pilot and Bubba headed out and put 3 wood ducks and 2 geese on the table which was a treat.

Busch Pilot with his opening morning Mallard hens
Saturday's forecast was clouds and high winds but no rain so we decided to hit the fields for a goose hunt for the last day of early goose.  We got the fields at 5:45am and checked in with the landowner who was already getting ready to work the farm to make sure we wouldn't be in his way and then out to the field to setup.  The decoys were in place and we were all snuggled up in the brush and started the tedious wait for the first flight of geese.  About 7:20am we could hear the sounds of gees in the air and heading our way.  It didn't take long before we got a flock of ten geese to commit to our decoys and as they were cupped and locked in Busch Pilot called the shot and I dropped a goose with my first shot as did Busch Pilot.  I was so excited that I finally connected that I forgot to shoot again but Busch pilot didn't and dropped a second one.  I heard him say "my two are down, I'm done." as he ejected the spent shell and by then the geese were out of my range for a second shot.  The daily bag limit for geese in our zone is 2 per person so I figured we would be eating breakfast by 8:30am but it just wasn't so.  We continued to work birds all morning but we just couldn't get them to commit to joining us.  The wind had really picked up with some serious gusts and it was enough to keep the birds up in the air giving them a good look at the spread and they just wouldn't finish.  At 10am I called it and went for the truck.  As we were picking up 4 more flocks came in they looked like they wanted in but the gun was already packed in the truck as I watched them land in an adjoining field.  We had to see at least 800 geese in 3 hours with only 3 geese to show for our efforts.  It doesn't matter because it was still a great morning and we learned a lot.  I got plenty of practice with my goose call and redeemed my self with my shooting so it was a plus in my book.

The Farm

BP showing his support for my quest

One bird short of a limit

Saturday afternoon I was on my own so I decided to hit the puddles for some ducks and while doing so I ran into another hunter out solo doing the same thing I was.  We stopped and chatted for a bit and decided to setup and hunt together.  Nick has only been in CT for a few years  but has many years experience hunting and his passion was waterfowl.  We setup in some brush on the edge of some water and while waiting for the ducks to fly we chatted away about hunting, fishing and family.  We did see some ducks but it was after legal light as we were heading back to the trucks.  It was nice to meet someone new that shares the passion for the outdoors.  Thanks for sharing Nick.

Oct 17, 2010

So what is a curtism anyway

Archery camp is only a week away and there is nothing like spending a week with the boys at Archery camp, not so much for the hunting and friendships but for what we all know is coming...new CURTISMS.

So what is a Curtism you ask, well is simple terms a curtism is something that my dad said that doesn't make any sense but we all understood it anyway.  For example, "Wiggy Womps"!  Any idea what wiggy womps are?  I didn't think so, but just so that little area of your brain that has been set aside for the storage of useless knowledge doesn't explode, wiggy womps are your nice and comfy wool hunting socks.  I know what you are thinking and trust me we've all asked our self the same question..."Why doesn't he just say hunting socks?", well because that is not how my dad operates.  See he was born and raised in Northeast PA and if you know anyone that was born and raised in that area then you already know that they have their own unique language like saying CRICK when they mean CREEK.

Now being a direct descendant of my father, you would expect me to understand these Curtisms and of course I do, but the scary part is not only do I understand them but I actually have said many myself just as my brother has.  Now what makes this even more interesting is that many of my friends that hunt with us have learned to understand what is being said and have also said many themselves even though they have no bloodline relationship to my father and no relationship to Northeast PA. Now I'm not sure if this qualifies as a communicable disease or not but I have been in contact with the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) just to be safe.

I don't remember how it all started but many hunting seasons ago we just couldn't keep up with all the Curtisms that my dad was spitting out so we started a log book and would record them so we could document them and define their true meanings and origins.  Keeping track of them started out as an easy task, but as the years have gone by and Curtisms became common place we found out we were losing some of the best ones.  We decided to ensure that no more Curtisms slipped through the cracks we had to resort to issuing every person that hunts with us a pocket sized notepad and some No. 2 pencils along with a mandatory training class on how to detect a Curtism and how to properly record it. Even with this intense training a few Curtism seem to slip by only to be caught and recorded minutes and sometimes hours later.

The good news is I really don't think this is contagious unless you come in direct contact with my father for an extended period of time.  So in the meantime we will do our best to record and document all new Curtisms while trying to enjoy our hunts.

Here are few additional Curtisms to make you go hmmmmm!

Curtism:  Store buy
Used in a sentence:  did you store buy that sandwich?
Translation:  Did you purchase that sandwich at a store.

Curtism: Straight as a dot
Used in a sentence: That tree is straight as a dot
Translation: Not really sure here, but we do know the tree was really straight.

Curtism: Frozy
Used in a sentence: It's not frosty out, only a little frozy
Translation: Not cold enough to create frost on the ground, but still cold

Curtism: Scrub
Used in a sentence: Did you see that scrub?
Translation: A scrub is a cross between a scrape and a rub.

Curtism: Wearin socks
Used in a sentence: Those aren't wearin socks
Translation:  Those socks are not for wearing with shoes, but instead used for lounging around the house

Okay, the last one was said by me when my daughter was trying to put her sneakers on over a pair of those fluffy socks.....It made sense at the time.

Oct 13, 2010

Lose yourself in the outdoors

I was reading an article in the user submitted section of our local paper's online website tilled "Getting Lost Never Turned Out So Well" by Erin Barrett where she writes about getting lost on a hike that she and her parents were taking.  Erin wrote, "I took nothing but pleasure from our wanderings in the forest that day" and that got be thinking about all those times I have lost myself in the outdoors.   

Losing yourself in the outdoors doesn't mean actually getting lost and requiring a search party to find you, but instead that you forget about the day to day hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in everything great the outdoors has to offer.  To do this the right way you can't be under a time constraint, it's not like scheduling a meeting with a start and end time, it has to just happen.

I can't remember how many times I've lost myself in the outdoors but I  know it happens on a regular basis and you don't have to be in the woods for it to happen as can be seen in my "Weekend of Survival" post. My getting lost in the outdoors has occurred while driving home, while working in my yard and even sitting at my desk when the turkeys frequent the grounds of our office building.   No matter when and for what, something has caused me to stop what I was doing and immerse myself in something going on outside.  I'm sure this sounds like a good case of Attention Deficit Disorder and I guess it kind of is but I feel better knowing that it's caused by the pleasure that I have received from all those times I was lost in the outdoors.
One of the reasons I enjoy hunting so much is it allows me to lose myself for hours on end with nothing to do but soak it all in.  Now don't get me wrong, I usually have a game plan in hand but many times I find myself throwing that out and just going with the flow.  I can't remember how many times I came across something that caused me to deviate from my plan and drew me over the next ridge or into a swamp. It could be something as simple as a noise, a track or even a sighting of an animal but most of the time it's just plain curiosity and desire to see more.

As I read Erin's article and her comments about the view and the eagle they had seen,  my first thought was "big deal, I've seen that", but then I realized what is so common place for me is really something special and I am thankful for all those times that I have been lost as well.  Thanks for the reminder Erin. 

I encourage you all  to share the last time your were lost in the outdoors and if you can't remember then I think it's time for you to get lost! :)  Enjoy it.

Oct 11, 2010

Weekend Review - 10/9 & 10/10

Well it was a good weekend for me and my outdoors pursuits.  Not so much for putting any game on the table but for the opportunities that were presented to enjoy the outdoors.

Our Canoe - AKA Swamp Pickle
It started out Friday evening with a late trip to the Pond for some goose hunting with my buddy Busch Pilot.  We haven't had many geese in our hunting spots up until this last week so with goose season only open for another week and finally geese in our spots we gave it a go.  We loaded up swamp pickle (our canoe), some floater decoys, guns paddles, PFDs and off we went.  Left the dog home because we didn't have enough room in the pickle and new she wouldn't sit still while we shuttled gear across the pond.  We got the dekes out and were all tucked in the brush by 4:30pm and waiting for the nightly return of some geese.  With just about 15 minutes of legal shooting a flock of 15 birds came in from behind us quiet as a church mouse.  They landed out past our decoys I figured I better get on the call and see if I couldn't pull them in closer before another flock came in.  I called and they responded and starting swimming their way to the decoys.  They hit the decoys and I gave the command to shoot, up we jump and the geese take flight dodging and weaving Busch Pilots shots as if they were equipped with some type of anti missile defense.   That's right 15 geese landed and 15 flew away.  Good thing I didn't shoot because this allowed me the opportunity to bust BP's chops all the way across the pond and on the ride home.  I knew this would come back to haunt me though. We hear a few more geese come in to the pond while we were loading up the truck so that was a good sign.

Saturday was waterfowl youth day and I was hoping my daughter would be interested in getting up early and hitting the swamp, but she wasn't, so I decided to go turkey hunting instead.  I headed out to a piece of state land near the house where I know some turkeys hang out and worked may way along the logging roads looking for sign and listening for the birds.  At about 8:30am I was working across a flat on the side of a hill that just happens to be the same flat that is home to one of my ground blinds that I deer hunt from.  The blind is just a large dead tree that offers plenty of branches to break up my outline that just happens to be surround by plenty of oak trees.  This spot offers up plenty of acorns and isn't far from the safety of some private land.  As I was sneaking my way across I catch a glimpse of movement and sure enough the deer are in there feeding.  Nice, I'm turkey hunting with a gun instead of bowhunting, I knew then that it was going to be that kind of morning.  The deer were starting to slip off the flat into a small dry creek bed along the boundary of the property so I continue to sneak my way across the flat and finally get a good look through my binos and it's 3 small bucks.  Two of them were sparring (banging their heads together) while the third was working over a little tree with his horns.  I watched them for a bit but just couldn't get a picture before they headed across the dry creek bed and in to the safety of the brush on private property.  No matter what the turnout of this hunt, it was already a success as I was able to watch these 3 bucks in their natural surrounding while they were totally unaware of my presence.

I continued off the hill side working my way back to the car as I stopped at a spot to check out the turkey sign, a few scratchings and a dust bowl.  I decide to sit down and stay put for a bit to see if the turkeys would show but instead 4 whitetail does showed up just 15 minutes later.  I was able to dig the camera out of my vest and snap a couple of pictures as they crossed the stone wall.  I knew if wouldn't be long before the lead doe would hit my wind and when she did she skidded to a stop, turned 90 degrees and went on her way dragging the other 3 deer with her.  I gave it another 45 minutes or so and head out to the truck and off to a late breakfast with the family

Saturday evening found Busch Pilot and I back at the pond to try our luck with the geese again.  We had a lot more geese to deal with a total of 6 flocks coming over and 3 landing on the pond.  The first flock must have been the same group as the night before because they landed in the middle and refused to answer me and swam to the other end of the pond,  can't say I blame them for that.  We got one small group to lock up on the decoys and I called the shot and let it rip and they all flew away untouched.  All I could hear is a little snickering coming from my left and Busch Pilot was just smiling from ear to ear.  The last group that came in landed long but I hit them with the call and they called back and started swimming over to the decoys.  Once they got into the dekes I called the shot, jumped up and shot and dropped one goose back down and missed another.  The funny part was with 12 geese in front of us both BP and I shot the same dang goose.  Working our way back across the pond was a little longer than normal because on the trip out BP lost the paddle end of his paddle so we were down to one and I had to do all the paddling.

Sunday afternoon I decided to sneak out to one of the local sportsman clubs (Eastern Connecticut Sportsman Club) to partake in their weekly Turkey shoots.  No we are not shooting turkeys, well at least not live ones, but we were shooting paper turkey targets for a chance to win a frozen turkey.  The rules are simple.  there are 25 targets about 25 yards away and you can purchase as many shots as you want at $2 a shot.  You shoot once at each of your targets and the person that has a pellet closest to the X on the target wins.  Now you would think this would be easy but remember you are using shotgun shells,  7 1/2 sized shot to be exact and no matter how well your gun patterns,  it is really all luck.  Anyway I donated my money, that's a fancy term for saying I didn't win a thing but if they were real turkeys I know they would have made the table.  It was nice to get out and meet some new people and support the local club.  There were also  plenty of laughs and jokes as well as some food being cooked on the grill.  What a great way to enjoy a fall afternoon.

A fellow shooter showing his winning form

The highly technical review of the targets
Two of my targets

Oct 5, 2010

Fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.

With our Connecticut waterfowl season opener just 10 days away and our youth hunt coming this weekend it's only fitting to give thanks and credit  to the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation - Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited got its start in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows. Determined not to sit idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyond recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together to form an organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited. Its mission: habitat conservation.

DU's Mission and vision are simple yet powerful.

DU's Vision
Wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.

DU's Mission
To conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.

The number one enemy of waterfowl is loss of habitat, especially breeding and nesting habitat.  Maintaining and improving wetlands along with breeding and nesting habitat is crucial to the success and survival of all waterfowl. Many acres of prime habitat are lost each year to nothing more than the day to day survival of man.  DU is working to restore grasslands, restoring watersheds, replanting forests and working with farmers, ranchers and other landowners to improve the agricultural and recreational value of their land, making it more wildlife-friendly.  This not only benefits waterfowl but many other species of wildlife that use these areas regularly.

If you are waterfowler or looking to get into Duck hunting then DU's website offers loads of information about hunting waterfowl. There is information related to wildlife ID, training your dog, calling, decoys, hunting tips and so much more.  Visit their hunting site at http://www.ducks.org/hunting/

Take some time to review what DU has done and what they are doing every day and see how you can get involved in your area.

Some additional Links related to Ducks Unlimited.

Oct 3, 2010

CT Fall Turkey opener

October 2 was the Fall firearms turkey opener here in CT and with the much need rain finally gone and some great early October weather on tap for the opener I must say I was a little excited.  I wasn't able to get out until the afternoon so I headed out to a piece of state forest near my house that I used to hunt during small game seasons of past.  This little piece of State land reminds me me of a area down in the Delaware Water Gap in NJ where we hunt and seeing I couldn't make it down there for the Archery opener this would have to do.  

With all the rain and wind we had the past 3 days I knew any sign that I found would be fresh so I decided to run the trails looking for scratchings while doing a little calling here and there.  I started out on a trail that would take me north from one of our duck swamps up into the rocky ridge tops.  I love to get up on these ridge tops and run them out while looking over the forest below.  These ridge tops and rocky outcrops offer a great view and it allows me to cover plenty of ground with my eyes instead of my feet.   We have an amazing acorn crop this year and even with the damp leaves it was hard to be quiet because of them.  It's bad enough that all these acorns make it seem like you are walking on marbles, but it's worse when they crack under foot.

I covered plenty of ground and not a hint of turkeys to be found.  Matter of fact there wasn't much sign of anything at all.  Very little deer sign, a few tracks and scat no scrapes or rubs to be seen.  I thought for sure after all this rain the animals would be out and about but nothing.  Oh well it was a great early fall afternoon to run around the woods.

Here are a few interesting facts about the Eastern Wild Turkey.  The Eastern Turkey can be found in 38 North American states with the farthest Western state being Washington.  There are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 feathers covering a turkey's body.  The Eastern Wild Turkey can run up tot 25mph and fly as fast as 55mph.  There is plenty of information on wild Turkeys on the NWTF website.

Sunday morning I decided to go check out another swamp to scout it out for the upcoming duck season so I loaded up the dog and off we went.  There wasn't much water out in the swamp at all and no ducks to be found so seeing Hannah was having fun I decide to walk the old logging roads looking for sign and it didn't take long to find some.  Found plenty of scrapes and rubs along with some beds.  There had to be at least 20 scrapes in this tiny little area already and the majority were fresh.  I worked the scrape line to get a good bead on it just in case I decide to sneak back in with the bow.  On the way home from our scouting trip I stopped at the lake to get Hannah some water work and then home to give her a bath.  Great way to spend the morning.

A few more pictures from the past two days.