Thursday, November 19, 2009
Opening day which was September 15th found me in a treestand overlooking a cornfield after I got out of work. I was surprised to find that we had company. Two other hunters have been given permission to hunt this property. For many years Dad and I were the only ones. The landowner is gracious enough to allow us to hunt. We have exclusive access to one peice of land but the cornfield is shared, now. Anyways I headed to my ladder stand at the corner of the property line. It seems that deer from the neighboring property will cross over to eat in the corn. I had placed a couple of trail cameras and they indicate that the deer will move from that area at dusk or so. I was excited and ready to hunt.
I arrived at my perch and climbed upwards. I had waited a while until some movement caught me by surprise. I was anticipating some action close to dusk as indicated by the trail cameras but at 5:43 PM three deer passed by me. A large doe and a yearling along with what I believed to be a dry doe trailing. They went past me as I sat there not moving a muscle. I made a judgement call that if they come back I will take the dry doe. Sure enough they came back.
All of the deer were moving a little quicker than I anticipated but I have used this trick of blowing a kiss to stop a deer. Well it seems to work better on bucks. I blew a kiss as the dry doe passed. Instead of freezing in her tracks she jumped back and away. Instintively I aimed a tad higher and loosed an arrow. The arrow hit a bit high. At that point she took off into the still standing corn.
I waited for a good half hour and then called my Dad on the FRS. He came over and we began to search. What irks me is that I never found the arrow. I assumed it was a pass through shot but maybe that wasn't the case. I had followed the blood trail. What concerned me was that there was very little blood. I was feeling uneasy at this point. Dad and I continued to search the corn field and the surrounding woods until it became dark. I felt sick to my stomach. I lost her. I hate losing an animal. We walked out and saw the two other hunters standing by their vehicles. They have stands below me and in the area where the deer seemed to have gone.
The next day we went searching again but to no avail. No deer or further sign. My Dad is a very shrewd man. He has a great deal of wisdom and is somewhat suspicious of other people. He told me that there was the possibility of the other two hunters finding my deer and tagging it for themselves. He said he felt suspicious that they were hanging around well after we had left for the night .
The next time we hunted my Dad looked into the back of one of their trucks. He noticed there was evidence of blood. I have mixed feelings. Did they honestly get a deer or did they find mine? If they found mine why did they not do the honorable thing step up?
Anyways. I have made a resolution. I have been practicing more with the bow and making sure that I have been taking lower shots. Shooting high on a deer's chest does not guarantee a kill.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I have always been fascinated by this unique form of portable dwelling developed by nomadic peoples living on the steppes of Mongolia. The yurt , or more properly called a ger, is similar to the American Indian tipi found in the Great Plains of North America. I have contemplated ownership of a yurt after reading many positive articles on the structure. How it is efficient, wind resistant, relatively low cost compared to a more permanent structure and lets be honest. There is a sort of "cool " factor involved with a yurt.
Mary and I were in need of a break and wanted to get away from things for a short period of time. I don't have the time off like I used to. One of the things that I sorely miss from public education is the summer vacations. You needed that time off to recharge your batteries, so to speak. Now I don't have that option. Ok. I know that sounds a tad bitter and it is but such is life.
Mary doesn't like camping all that much. She made the statement," I tolerate it" is the best way to describe it. The biggest issue of all is the cleanliness of the bathrooms. Many places we have stayed at do not clean the bathrooms and showers very well. Well, I don't want to get too off topic so here is what we can say about the yurt.
I'll not belabor any details but in a nutshell I discovered a number of downsides to the yurt. In the summer the shelter can get very hot and stuffy unless you open up all of the windows. This model had three windows and that brings up another problem. The flaps that cover the windows are on the outside. So in order to get fresh air you need to go outside and roll up the clear plastic and the green fabric and secure it with the velcro tabs. Now the problem is that people passing by can look in. In addition, if it rains you need to go outside to close the windows. The White Mountains recieved about two to four inches of rain on Thursday night thus necessitating the closure of one window. The sound of the rain pounding on the roof was very loud and did have the effect of lulling one to a state of sonambulism. Mary noted that at the roof and wall juncture there were a couple of gaps that insects could make their way in. I did get bit by no see um midges a couple of times but no amount of screening would stop them. The roof is supported on a spoke pattern of what appear to be 2x3's and the walls are supported by a lattice work. The roof is held on by a cable that cinches around the top of the wall similar to a hatband. It is there where a gap or two could lead to some problems.The yurt is very bright. The roof has a skylight. Traditionally this was an opening in which the smoke from a cooking fire would waft upward like a giant chimney. I have seen images of yurts with woodstoves so that is one way to heat a yurt when it is cold outside. The skylight on this model had a clear plexiglass dome. The owners put an opaque tarp over the top of it. I suspect that is necessary in order to keep it from overheating in the summer. Again, we found it to be very hot when we first arrived. I thought that this shelter would be comfortable in mid to late September or early October. One thing that Mary noticed was that the skylight needed cleaning. It was full of dead bugs. In a nutshell the yurt is a step in between a tent and a cabin. For ten dollars more I think you would be better off with a cabin.
I am somewhat of a dreamer. I have thought of owning a small campground in Maine or New Hampshire as a retirement business of sorts. In addition to some sites for tents and RV's it would be nice to have a couple of yurts. I am not sure if this daydream will ever come to fruition but I do believe one needs to have more experience in order to make such a decision. We had stayed in a yurt for two nights and both concluded that there are a lot of downsides to the structure. So if this dream ever comes true, I don't believe we will have any yurts available.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
This revolver holds a special place in my heart. I bought it a couple of years ago when I was teaching at a special education collaborative in central Massachusetts. I have read a great deal about the Ruger Old Army and wanted to own one . So on the way home I stopped at a gun shop in the area and spotted this behind the counter. It is a bicententennial model with the roll mark Made in the 200th year of Liberty across the top of the barrel. In addition, I bought some conical bullets and a small container of percussion caps. I did not shoot it for a while. The main reason was because I spent a great deal of time job hunting. There was a change in administration and many people who had been with the school did not have their teaching contracts renewed. Needless to say I was in the boat with those who would be looking for new venues of employment. That year was tough in plain English. Not to belabor the point but I was looking for a teaching position for several months. About the only good thing that came of it was that I had the whole fall off to hunt but that was about it. One of the things that was difficult was the mental anguish one feels when you are unemployed. You begin to feel as if you are useless and that the path you had undertaken in life was the wrong one. Well, that whole situation is worth a post of it's own.
It would be a few months before I actually got any range time with the Ruger Old Army. Here in Massachusetts it is difficult to obtain real black powder. There are only a couple of dealers that I know that sell black powder. Most sporting goods retailers sell substitute propellants such as Pyrodex and H777.
One of the things that I noticed right off was that this gun was built for shooting round balls. The front sight is low in profile and when I shot conical bullets they all appeared to hit six to seven inches high at twenty five yards. I knew that there would have to be some changes. Bear in mind that the rear sight was all the way down and could not be adjusted further. I bought some replacement blades but the bad thing is that no matter how hard I tried to put them in right there is a slight cant to the front sight. This will have to be remedied by a gunsmith.
At the range I shot some Buffalo Bore 190 grain conical bullets with a maximum charge of H777. The gun has some recoil and for a lack of a better term feels like a .357 or hot .38 . I did get some wonderful groups off the bench and adjusted the sights. My best group was less than two inches. A real feat. I figured that now it would be set and time for off hand practice.
One of the things that I have noticed with this gun is that you can shoot two to three cylinders before you have to clean the gun up a bit. After that you will get some misfires. They are quite discerning.
My next step is to create a field shooting kit for this gun. I want to buy or make a small leather pouch to contain some basic tools and enough components to reload three cylinders while out in the bush, so to speak. I'll let you know what I discover.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Many years ago I was bitten by the handgun hunting bug. I became infatuated with hunting with this type of specialized equipment and hunted as much as I could with it, where legal. When I heard that Thompson Center was coming out with a special single shot muzzle loading handgun designed for hunting I was ecstatic. TC came out with their Scout carbine and handgun in the late 1980's with the intent to satisfy a niche market. These firearms were traditionally styled exposed hammer muzzle loaders but utilized an inline ignition. I bought a 54 caliber Scout and mounted a 2x Burris scope on the gun. I liked the feel of the gun and envisioned going on some special hunts with it but never got around to it. For one thing, the gun was not all that accurate for me. I tried all kinds of loads and to make it short, the gun did not shoot well. In addition the gun was a pain to disassemble and clean properly. At that time the only alternative powder was Pyrodex and you needed to clean it almost as soon as regular black powder. After a lot of frustration at the range and the pain cleaning the gun I sold it.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This story is somewhat funny but has a bit of a sad ending. We have permission to hunt deer with the rifle on some private land in Connecticut. As a rule, this honey hole fills up our freezer each season and we have some wonderful hunts together.This spot is a crossroads for deer and other wildlife. One time I had a bobcat walk under my treestand and it appeared to want to climb up into the tree, but I will save that for another posting.
Dad and I parked in the farmer's yard and walked down through the pasture to the edge of the woodlot. The woodlot is a large patch of mountain laurel with oak interspersed through the area. Deer naturally funnel down from the hills into this refuge. While we were going to our stand we noticed something. Dad has trouble hearing due to working with sheet metal all his life. The incessant hammering in the days when no one wore any sort of auditory protection took a toll on his ability to hear. I've been lucky in this regard as my career may involve some yelling from time to time but that is about it. So I have a pretty good sense of hearing.
I heard something walking through the leaves. It was early but I could not discern what it was. I knew it wasn't a deer but something else. Soon I spotted the source of the noise. It was a ruffed grouse. This grouse was not what you could call a normal grouse. This grouse would follow my father to his stand and basically harass him for the whole length of his hunt. The little grouse would follow my Dad to his ladder stand and back. But that is not the end of it. This bird would then walk around the base of his stand and for a lack of a better term, make purring sounds. It was very chicken like and rather interesting to see. After a short period of time,Mr. Grouse would then hop from branch to branch and sit near Dad's head. The grouse would basically purr in his ear to no end. It was rather comical but I think it got on his nerves after a while. For some reason the grouse did not allow me to get as close as Dad. A few times Mr. Grouse would land on Dad's shoulder or head. It really startled him and Dad worried about Mr. Grouse poking him in the eye. I know this story sounds almost unbelievable but see for yourself.
Here is Mr. Grouse walking back with Dad from a morning's hunt. I would laugh quite a bit watching the little grouse escorting Dad out of the patch making little grouse noises. Each time we went out he would tell me basically the same story. Mr. Grouse would follow him in to the stand and he'd have about fifteen minutes of peace. Then Mr. Grouse would fly up and sit on hsi arm , shoulder or head like a parrot. Mr. Grouse would come close to me but he never got within three feet of me. I took a number of photos and to prove how close he got here is one of the grouse on a branch next to Dad's head.
That season was very good to us. I was able to fill my firearm deer tags and add much needed venison to our freezers. Unfortunately Dad had some difficulty. It seemed that nothing went by Dad's stands with the exception of Mr. Grouse.
Sadly, Mr. Grouse did not make it past Christmas of that year. Each Holiday season we approach the farmer who graciously lets us hunt on his land and we offer gifts to the family. Usually a bottle of cheer for him and a homemade gift for his wife. We told them about Mr. Grouse. He said that he knew of the bird because his grandchildren saw it. They would watch the bird follow them and his grandson would actually hold it like it was a pet of some kind. Unfortunately, the family dog finished off Mr. Grouse.
In a strange way I was a little heartbroken. I grew fond of the bird and that is ironic since I have hunted these birds for many years but I have never seen one in that acted this way. I suppose that with this bird's behavior, survival was very limited at best. It did not seem to have a sense of danger that most ruffed grouse have. It seemed to be a flaw of some type that was eventually it's downfall. Still, I did feel sorry for Mr. Grouse.
Since then I have not seen any more grouse nor have I had experiences like that. Maybe one day I will have another experience such as we had with Mr. Grouse. As I sit here, I'll raise a glass to Mr.Grouse. You will be missed.