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!
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!
I hit one of my favorite outdoor retail stores earlier this week – Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, ME. This fine Southern Maine retailer has been serving the needs of New England’s outdoor sports enthusiasts for over 75 years and they’re still going strong today.
Kittery Trading Post, otherwise known as KTP, has something for everyone. When I say they’ve got it all, they’ve got it all. Hunting gear, guns, ammo, reloading supplies, archery gear and accessories, camping gear, casual clothing, shoes & boots, skis and winter weather apparel, fishing gear, and the list goes on. KTP has a department to serve anything you’re looking to do outdoors and these guys definitely have it all.
I can spend hours poking around KTP, and on this particular day I did just that. I enjoyed checking out the latest bows from the many manufacturers that KTP carries. Always appreciated by this lefty archer is that there are several different left-handed bows always in stock at KTP. I perused the gun inventory, both new and used, and fantasized about the autoloading shotgun that I will someday acquire. I spent a good amount of time in the fishing section checking out all the newest fly fishing gear and I also looked at their vast array of knives, turkey calls, tree stands and ammunition.
Any visit to KTP is a success as it stimulates the senses with many thoughts of outdoor adventure. On this particular day I’m proud to say that I kept my expense in check and I only purchased four items: A Quaker Boy box turkey call, a pack of Thingamamobber strike indicators, a Simms wader bag and a Silva Huntsman compass.
If you are ever driving through Southern Maine, a visit to KTP is a definite must-stop destination. Enjoy!
Last Saturday I attended a full-day bowhunter education course that was administered by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. Now I’ve had a bow in my hands for 27 of my 44 years on this earth; with that much experience what do I need with a bowhunter education course?
The primary answer boils down to this: Thus far in my bowhunting career I have hunted in only three states – Michigan, Massachusetts and Colorado. None of these states require a dedicated bowhunter education course in order to obtain an archery hunting license. By contrast, any person who wishes to bow hunt in the following states is required to have a bowhunter education certificate: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. Additionally, the Canadian Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec have similar requirements.
The course I attended was the International Bowhunter Education Program. This curriculum is recognized in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces, 3 Northwest Territories, Mexico and 13 additional foreign countries. The class was administered by volunteer instructors from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, with primary points of emphasis as follows:
- Wildlife conservation
- Safe and responsible bowhunting techniques
- Equipment knowledge and maintenance
- Proper shot placement and game recovery techniques
- Outdoor preparedness
Despite entering the class with mixed expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s always nice to have an opportunity to gather with people who share a passion for the outdoors, and from my perspective it’s even better when it’s focused on archery and bowhunting. The only piece of anxiety was the test at the end of the day; I can’t remember the last time I actually had to take a test! I passed with flying colors and I’ll receive my certification card in about two weeks. After that I’ll begin wondering when and where I’ll plan a hunt with my newly-expanded bowhunting options. Will it be whitetail deer in upstate New York? Maybe black bear in New Brunswick? Perhaps moose in New Hampshire or Maine? How about all of the above?!?!?!