I’ve been running trail cameras for many years. For me, checking trail cams to see what has been captured is akin to a child unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning. It’s a ton of fun, it keeps me connected to the outdoors and it always has me wondering what I might see next.
Over the past few years I have gotten numerous night pictures of a dark, mysterious creature. Here is an example from 2013:
That’s a fisher, right? I’ve seen similar photos many times and that’s always been my belief. All of the photos I have are very similar to this one and, while I’m almost certain it’s a fisher, I’ve always had some doubt given the rare number of sightings and elusive nature of these small mammals. That is until now… check this out:
My friends, all doubt has now been erased. I love this photo and I was thrilled to retrieve it off of my camera. In 5+ years of getting night photos of what I thought was a fisher, this is the first daylight photo I have seen that makes it conclusive. Good stuff!
Hunting deer isn’t easy, and all over the U.S. whitetail deer hunters face challenges unique to their region. And that’s the way it should be; if this were simple it would be no fun and without the challenge this pursuit wouldn’t be so addicting.
I believe there are two primary challenges to hunting deer here in the northeast. The first is hunting pressure. New England is a small geographic area that is maturely developed, and thus there is a small amount of deer habitat and it sees high hunter densities. The second challenge is lack of land to hunt near agriculture and predictable deer feeding areas. Generally speaking, we’re hunting hardwood forest areas where it’s difficult to pattern and predict deer activity.
I’m excited to report that I’ve gained access to bowhunt a promising piece of property that will likely resolve the second challenge – predictable feeding area. Here’s a satellite image:
Over the last few weeks the sunset has been getting later and I’m now commuting home from work while it’s still daylight. Several times now I have witnessed deer feeding in the small field located just above the property outline in this photo. After doing some research and asking a few questions I’ve secured the ability to hunt the property outlined in orange.
This discovery has me pretty excited. This wooded parcel should be a good travel corridor and staging area that the deer will use on their way to and from that field. Soon I will walk the property to begin learning what’s going on and I’ll get a trail camera in there to begin surveying the deer activity.
The biggest question on this property will be the answer to challenge #1…hunter density. I hope I don’t get in there only to find signs that other hunters are already all over it. If I do, it certainly won’t come as a surprise!
15 shots – that’s usually my routine. Except for a longer shooting session on the weekend, for the most part my archery practice consists of 15 shots a day. Monday through Friday I shoot my bow early in the morning, usually around 5am after I finish my morning run. Shooting at that hour means I am doing so in the dark, and while that isn’t ideal it certainly is doable with the use of a spotlight and illuminated site pins on my bow.
So, is 15 shots per day enough? That will depend upon who you ask. Compared to bowhunters who grab their bow a month before season to begin shooting, 15 arrows a day year ’round is way better. What about the guys who shoot hundreds of arrows per week? I wish I had the time for that, but I don’t. However more isn’t always better… 15 good shots per day is more effective than heavier volume if one allows form to get sloppy and concentration to lag in a longer shooting session.
The benefits I realize from shooting 15 shots per day include the following:
- Make ’em count. When you only have 15 shots, concentration is at its peak and I work hard to make sure each one is executed properly.
- Time. For me it’s all about time. 15 good shots take me no longer than 10 minutes to execute. Who can’t find an extra 10 minutes in their day?
- Clear my head. Nothing clears my head better than a morning run followed by archery practice. The intense focus required causes me to block out everything else and focus entirely on the process of the shot and good execution.
15 shots a day. For me, it works. It’s enough to provide me with a daily connection to a sport I love and to also maximize the effectiveness of my archery technique, form and execution. I’d be lost without it and I’m very thankful that I am able to do it!
No, I am not referring to the song by Staind, despite being quite fond of Aaron Lewis’ tune. Instead I am referring to the fact that, as hard as it is to acknowledge, seven months have elapsed since my last post. It has indeed been a while!
Why has this happened? Great question. I’d love to place blame on a huge problem with several layers of complexity. The truth is that I’ve simply been busy and preoccupied with other things. Family and work obligations take precedent over my pursuit of outdoor adventure and writing about it in the pages of this blog. The second half of 2015 was nuts, primarily due to work, and thus I went dormant!
It’s sad to say that I never once got out during whitetail deer season in Massachusetts. I was, however, able to make my annual pilgrimage in November to partake in our family deer camp in Michigan. This I will not miss! This year we secured a new 80 acre piece of land to hunt and it showed quite a bit of promise. We had a good amount of deer activity, however through trail cam footage we learned that the deer were staying mostly nocturnal due to the unseasonably warm temperatures. Despite the fact that no one took a deer, our annual camp served its intended purpose… rest, relaxation and great camaraderie with friends and family.
So it’s on to 2016. Do I have plans to get outdoors more this year? You betcha. Will it happen? I hope so, but time will tell. I can promise you that no matter how much I get outside it will never be enough. With time, it will happen. In the meantime I stay focused on finding opportunities where I can while remaining connected to the outdoors via blogs, magazines, youtube, books, etc.
As we move into June it’s that time of year where I again have submitted my annual moose hunting preference points in both New Hampshire and Maine. The Eastern Moose that inhabits these states is one of four subspecies of moose than live in North America. Moose represent the largest-bodied member of the deer family; the Eastern Moose stands 6-7 feet tall and can weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds! Having the opportunity to engage in a thrilling moose hunt and, if successful, enjoy the reward of all that delicious meat is a very enticing prospect.
I continue to accumulate moose preference points with the hope of one day drawing a tag to hunt these magnificent animals in northern New England. When I eventually decide to enter the drawing as a non-resident my chances will be severely limited, so building preference points to increase my odds is a priority for me every year. Maine, for example, issues 3,000 to 4,000 moose permits each year. The number of non-resident permits issued is equal to 10% of the total permits, so in any given year only 300-400 non-resident permits are up for grabs. The small annual cost to procure a preference point (Maine = $15 and New Hampshire = $25) is well worth it to advance my cause when I am ready to enter the drawings and, at the same time, that money goes towards conservation so I am happy to make the donation.
I hope that someday I will get an opportunity to go on an archery hunt for moose in New Hampshire or Maine. If that doesn’t work out, perhaps I’ll attempt to go further north and hunt in Canada. Then again, maybe a time will come where I have an opportunity to hunt moose in my home state of Massachusetts?!?! Moose sightings are on the rise in MA, and from what I understand there’s an abundance of moose in the area around the Quabbin Reservoir. Each year for the past several years a bill has been introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature to establish an annual moose hunting season but nothing has been approved yet. The location for a moose hunt is irrelevant, I just hope that one day I get my chance!