November 13, 2018

My Eyes: Maybe They Do Look So Good Anymore

There’s an old Maine story sometimes told. I first heard it when being entertained by Maine humorist Joe Perham many years ago. Maine has always had a strong French Canadian influence. The transition from the Canadian French to Maine English sometimes leaves one amused or confused. The French tend, in their interpretations and implementation of the English language, to get the order or use of certain words mixed up. The old Maine story goes something like this.

Two farmers who lived on opposite ends of town seldom had the pleasure of meeting and visiting each other. But when they did, it often began a series of bartering and sometimes bickering and undoubtedly confusion, leading to anger.

One day the two men met near the center of town. They briefly exchanged pleasantries. One farmer, Les,  said to the farmer of French descent, “Say, Pierre. I’m looking for a mule to work my farm.”

Pierre replied, “Well, I got one but his eyes they no look so good anymore.”

Farmer Les said, “I don’t care what he looks like. What you gut to git for that mule?”

“I’ll trade you my mule for your mule,” offered Pierre.

So in a couple of days, they met and swapped mules. Les had a reputation for a bit of dishonest bartering. He knew his mule was old and tired and figured an even swap was a good deal, getting the better of the trade. However, after a couple of days, Les went looking for Pierre.

Say, Pierre, “That mule you swapped me for…the dang thing’s blind!”

“Yeah, I know,” replied Pierre. “I told you his eyes they no look so good anymore.”

During my hunting trip to Hunting Camp, I came away with a bit of reassurance that my eyesight wasn’t failing worse than I thought in my advancing years. Three events took place that reassured me that for 66 years in age, my eyes they do look so good anymore.

The first event happened the day we arrived at Hunting Camp. As is tradition, we target shoot. From the sitting rest that somebody once built, to the target is approximately 30 yards or about 90 to 100 feet. I don’t know that any of us have ever measured exactly.

I stood behind the shooters and I could most often tell the shooter where his bullet hit the target – even the .223 caliber rounds. Most shooters doubted my ability to see that well at that distance, but upon examination of the target, more than not I was right.

As a side note, just before I got out of the U.S. Navy in 1976, I decided to have my teeth fixed and my eyes checked to at least get me taken care of for a while. I’ll spare the details but the eye doctor became fascinated with my seeing ability and gave me a thorough examination, determining that my eyesight was 20/8. Normal vision is 20/20. 20/8 vision means that what “normal” eyes can see at 8 feet, I could see at 20. The doctor told me Ted Williams, the all-time great baseball slugger, had 20/10 vision and that’s why he could hit the baseball so well.

I know I no longer have 20/8 vision. I need glasses to read by. Needless to say, I am a typical far-sighted person.

The following day, which was opening day of the regular firearms season for deer, at precisely 2 minutes after legal hunting, a fellow hunter and I were getting ready to drive out of the woods on our ATV. At a distance of approximately 300 yards, I made out two does’ silhouette at the top of a hill on the power line. I pointed them out to my buddy who took a while to pick them up…through his binoculars I might add.

The third event was a couple days later when I was still hunting in some small beeches that still had not shed their leaves. Scanning the landscape, I spotted a “brown” spot that seemed a bit out of place. I guessed what I was seeing was about 75 yards away. I continued to study the object until I focused in on a deer’s face staring directly at me. I swear the deer had a look on her face that said what the heck is that?

She continued to stare as I slowly raised my gun to see what she looked like in my scope. I wanted desparately to place a set of antlers on her head. Seeing none at 3x power, I brought the gun down and turned the power up to 7x. Still no antlers. I knew the chances were pretty good that if I was seeing a nice buck…well, I wouldn’t be seeing a nice buck hanging around wondering what I was up to.

She turned her head 90 degrees away from me and straight ahead as she was facing. I knew what was next. She bounded away, but lazily. I did spy her again watching me as I continued to still hunt.

In the past few years, mostly because I haven’t been able to even see deer in the woods, I have resorted to sitting in places in the woods or in a ground blind. I don’t like getting into tree stands anymore. I wondered if not seeing deer was solely attributed to lack of deer to spot or if it was my failing eyesight.

It was comforting and reassuring to know that my eyes “look good enough” to still be able to pick out a deer perhaps a little better than the average hunter.

 

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Taking the High Road on Hunting Vernacular

I was recently reading an article in a Maine publication about how, when somebody used the wrong terminology in discussing hunting, in particular deer hunting, it made that one somebody appear incredible. An example given was of one person referring to a hunter being successful in bagging a deer, that he had gone out and “caught” a deer. As the author so aptly expressed it, a hunter doesn’t go looking for deer in order to “catch” one and throw it back after taking a photograph.

In my years of life in Maine, I have often heard a person lacking any knowledge in deer hunting, refer to it as “catching.” One catches fish, I suppose, because the design of the equipment allows for a fisherman to decide whether by want or by law, he or she should keep the fish. Because deer hunting requires the hunter to precisely know his target, there is nothing to do with catching and everything to do with killing.

But the article didn’t stop here. It went on to take sort of a high ground on deer hunting terminology and at times bordering on poking fun of someone that might use a term he didn’t consider the proper, modern-day and, I would presume, acceptable-to-him deer hunting vernacular.

As the word vernacular is defined, the terms used by deer hunters are very much determined by a hunter’s age and the geographical region in which the person grew up and learned his or her hunting craft, while also having consideration from whom they learned to hunt.

I have been around long enough to have read and read and re-read so many hunting articles, it appears to me that as an outdoor writer, especially of deer hunting, the writers have their own vernacular in which they probably have learned is necessary to be as politically correct, i.e. unoffensive as they can. After all, hunting and killing animals is not something the brainwashed masses of today are always willing to accept as something of normalcy and tradition, as those who grew up with the sport. Aside from using the term “catching” to describe deer hunting, who really cares if you use someone else’s acceptable terminology?

For instance, if you read a Field and Stream article, perhaps the author would speak of hunting deer in terms such as tree stand, still hunting, stalking, being scented, masking, viewing a scrape or a rub and once successful, the hunter might field-dress a deer, while wondering whether the antlers will score high on the Boone and Crockett list.

While all these terms are acceptable and recognizable – mostly, sort of – by the avid hunter, the vernacular used by crusty old Mainers from the Western Mountains region might offer terminology to describe “getting their lard ass up in a tree,” or “sneaking up on the bastard,” “driving the son-of-a-bitch outta that swamp,” and when the big one got away, I might tell my buddies that old buck “got wind o’ me.”

The author I have been referring to, sort of, kinda, mostly, made fun of old fart hunters using the term “hooking” to describe what the author would say was a rub. There may actually be at least two terms here meaning two different, but related terms. For me, a rub is where a buck has used his head/horns to rub, usually the base, of a small tree or shrub – usually anywhere from 6-inches to a foot or more, off the ground. Sometimes, if you examine a rub, you’ll also find “hookings.” As part of the bucks ritual – I’m not a buck so I don’t understand completely why a buck seemingly attacks a perfectly good tree, shrub or clump of bushes – they will rub and hook their “horns” (the author in question prefers to imply that “antlers” is the correct terminology and anything else means you’re a moron.) in the branches, often breaking the branches off. I have actually seen where a buck attacked, if that be the proper description, a clump of hemlock bushes about the size of a small camper/trailer, tearing up the ground, uprooting some of the shrubs and “hooking” the bejezuz (not necessarily a proper term) out of the entire bush. My daddy told me a half century or more ago that the bigger the tree/shrub/bush attacked, the bigger the buck. I’ve also seen where a buck’s horns have gouged marks on a tree with the ends of their horns – i.e. the picked ends. In addition, bucks will, on occasion, hook the “scrape” with the ends of their horns.

If we move on to another politically correct term, we discover that when a buck uses his hooves, most often his front “paws,” but not always, he makes a “scrape” on the ground, pushing away leaves, moss, and/or whatever happens to be on top of the dirt at that spot. I grew up calling that a “pawing” as, in my moronic mind, it better describes what is going on. I know, as a child, if I ran down the sidewalk and did a face plant, I most often “scraped” my knees. (Note: I’m not such a moron that I think deer have paws.)

Back to “hookings.” If you’ve ever examined a “buck pawing” more times than not there is an overhanging limb from a nearby tree. The buck often “hooks” his “horns” into the overhang once again “hooking” the bejezuz out of it. My daddy also told me the bigger the “buck pawing” the bigger the buck.

The Hollywood terminology for when a buck finishes his “buck pawing” is that he “scents” it with bodily fluids from his scent glands. Them moronic old codgers, like me, will tell you that a buck will often, from the overhanging limb, pull off a leaf or snap off a twig, drop it in the “buck pawing” and, instead of scenting on it, the buck will piss all over it, and then leave.

When the doe, in heat, comes by, sometimes she will pick up that “pissed-on” leaf or twig and take it with her making it easier for her lover to find her.

When an old Maine hunter tells his story, he will, undoubtedly, talk about not only how big them “horns” were but how much the son-of-a-bitch weighed…before he “gutted it out!” I never knew what it meant to “field dress” a deer. Deer wear the coat of fur God gave em and I don’t see much sense in dressing them in something different.

I guess the point of all this is that unless your a member of the outdoor writers clubs, how a hunter describes what takes place in the woods is according to where he lives, how old he is, who taught him to speak deer hunting, and the local vernacular shared and understood by everyone. It doesn’t require a lot of brains to recognize a city-slicker green horn looking to “catch” a deer.

Did ya git ya deeyah?

If you have local terminology not mentioned here and would like to share it, please feel free in the comments section below.

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How I’ve Hunted For 45 Years

In the zones I hunt there are high places where I set up and glass using spotting scopes and binoculars. For years I went to these places and located elk or deer and then put together a plan of action, to stock and get within range of the elk or deer. Doing this over the years I successfully put over twenty elk and twenty deer into the freezer. I like hunting like this because I don’t waste my time climbing all over the place trying to get lucky by stumbling into an elk or deer.  Some other things have changed as well. No cow tags. Or no brow tine bulls. Or Brow tine bulls only. Or Spikes only.  So now I’m not just looking for an elk I’m looking for a specific elk that fits the tag requirements. So another elk season passes and the freezer is still empty. Hunting in Idaho is ruined. There isn’t the opening day push anymore either. I rarely meet anyone I know that has had any success. I know of one elk and two deer taken in the circle of hunters I know. There is certainly less hunter traffic on public lands as well. Due in part to less elk tags offered. And due in part to people tired of hunting in Idaho. I’ve been horse backing and walking across some migration routes looking for signs of migrating elk and deer and nothing.  I did see twenty elk on public lands between August 15th and today, November 8th.. And ten or fifteen deer. Now on the private ag lands I’ve seen entire herds of elk.  Not only is this country no longer the land of opportunity it is also no longer the land of plenty. Scarcity is in abundance here.. Idaho is a predator pit. And you know what? The water is plentiful and the habitat is plentiful out there. So when the predator’s aren’t the problem people start saying well its habitat, climate change, and various other causes in their defense of the predators what they’ve actually done by opining for predator preservation is actually a justification for increased predator take.

wolf_id_packs_t470

 

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Adams Co. Wisconsin: Second Wolf Encounter Report

A second wolf encounter in the Colburn Wildlife Area of Adams County, Wisconsin, by a father and son hunting, prompted an investigation. The report of that investigation can be found by following this link.

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The Comeback: 20 Memories of the Return of the Whitetail Deer

*Editor’s Comment* – If you can tolerate the pop-up ads, some that make you wait and watch, you might find these stories interesting.

Lost in this season’s noise of rut tactics, essential hunting gear, and antler scoring is the reality that, to generations of outdoorsmen across America, deer were once more fiction than fact. For many of these hunters, their first encounter with a whitetail changed their lives. Here are their stories.

Source: The Comeback: 20 Memories of the Return of the Whitetail Deer | Outdoor Life

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One Successful Maine Moose Hunt

I’ve received a report from the field from one family of moose hunters. While not the “trophy” they had visions of dancing in their heads for the past few weeks, as always, an adventure of a lifetime.

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Roadside

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It was also reported that the drive from where the moose was killed to the “highway” was a “torturous” 300+ miles over dirt roads.

As the moose hunter wrote, “…we have excellent table fare.” And that should never be forgotten.

Thanks for sharing and congratulations!

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The Largest Otter Ever Recorded

In V. Paul Reynolds’ latest outdoor article, he tells of his discovery of what was left of an old log cabin in Maine’s Aroostock County in the DeBouillie area. Through research he finds out, through a nephew of the cabin’s owner, that the cabin used to be the winter abode of trapper Walter Bolstridge:

The cabin was a trapper’s winter digs. And the trapper, Walter Bolstridge, was my friend’s uncle. According to Floyd his Uncle Walter would hire a bush plane to fly him and his gear into the roadless DeBoullie area in October. He would stay and trap. In March he would come out with his furs in time to make the Annual Town Meeting. Imagine that! What a special breed of man he must have been.

By the way, Uncle Walter may still hold the record for having trapped the largest Otter ever recorded. He got his name in the newspaper. The Maine Fish and Game Commissioner at the time, George J. Stoble, said that the critter, which Bolstridge trapped on the Fish River, was a world’s record otter.

Well, with a lot of help from a friend, who did some of his own research, this is what he found about Walter Bolstridge’s world record otter:

BolstridgeHeadline

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BolstridgeOtter

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Man Chased By Wolf Pack – Learns Nothing From It

Below is a teaser and a link to a story of a man in Washington state, while walking some 400-500 yards to his car, is chased by a pack of 4 wolves. The story is entertaining and at times can leave a reader wondering just how dangerous are these wolves.

The author of the piece states that at the end of the article he has included “bonus facts” about wolves. Bonus is right I guess because what he shares is not of much practical use to the next person who ventures into wolf country who needs to know how to prepare. Learning about wolf howling and how gray wolves became domesticated does little to educate about wolf behavior prior to and during attack and the diseases they spread and how to best deal with them.

From the article:

“Now, I’m no dummy. I did not come unprepared for such a scenario… well, OK I wasn’t expecting wolves. Coyotes, sure. They are always around on the property (or were before the wolves moved into the neighborhood), as are sometimes bears, an occasional cougar, and the like, but they pretty much leave you alone if you leave them alone, and generally run away if they see you from my experience- or in the bear’s case, amble off and ignore you the whole time. But just in case for something like coyotes who were really hungry because it is winter, I had a hatchet… in my hand… A gun had never seemed necessary up to this point, but at the moment, I’d not have turned down an M134 if one was offered…”

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16 Pts., 235 Lbs, 33″ Antler Spread – Update

From the photograph I posted in mid-November, Outdoor Life has the full story to go with the picture.

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The First and Only Elk Hunt in New Hampshire

elkqueensFew people even know that once wild elk roamed a small area of southwestern New Hampshire. Even fewer know that for two days in 1941, 293 special elk hunting permits were issued, at $5.00 each and 46 elk were harvested.

Wild elk? Perhaps we have come to use the terms wild and pure a bit freely, dumbing down the definitions in order to better fit a narrative or an agenda. Nevertheless, New Hampshire had elk and the numbers got out of hand.

Austin Corbin, a self-proclaimed wildlife conservationist, bought up large parcels of land in the southwestern corner of the state, fenced it in with 36 miles of fencing and began importing wild and various exotic animals; wild boar, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, elk, Chinese pheasant. It is reported that 60 elk were imported from northern Minnesota and placed on Corbin’s preserve.

Corbin only allowed hunting on his preserve when he felt the need to reduce populations of certain species.

Perhaps some readers may be familiar with Austin Corbin as the person who owned the bison that was used to rebuild bison herds in the West.

It was in 1903 that Austin Corbin III, Corbin’s son, gifted the State of New Hampshire with a dozen elk; 8 cows and 4 bulls. The elk were let free by the Andover Fish and Game Club around Ragged Mountain. The elk flourished until reports of anywhere between 60 and 200 or more elk roamed the area and creating great angst among farmers and other landowners because of crop damages and personal property destruction.

On December 17 and 18, 1941, 293 elk-permitted hunters ambushed the area where the elk where amassed and killed 46 wapiti. It was quite the spectacle and a miracle no humans were injured or killed.

So, what happened to the elk? It seems that even after the hunt, where some believed that the most of the elk had been killed, much because there was no good way of actually knowing how many elk there really were, the elk continued to flourish again causing great property damage.

In the early 1950s, New Hampshire passed a piece of legislation stating, “The director of fish and game is hereby directed to reduce the elk herd in the state to a population that will no longer present a potential threat to agricultural interests. The reduction of this herd shall be started at once and carried to completion without unnecessary delay.”

It was also proposed that the elk be relocated to areas in the northern part of the state where human populations were much smaller than in the south. That never happened.

By the mid-1950s officials estimated that free ranging elk in New Hampshire numbered anywhere between 20 and 30 animals. It is assumed that the remaining elk were poached and/or killed by farmers to protect their property.

Officially, there are no longer any wild elk roaming the New Hampshire countryside, although, as one might expect, claims are made on occasion of spotting an elk in the woods of the Granite State.

Sources:

Sports Illustrated Vault
Soo Nipi Magazine

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