Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Busting Clays

It's been quite some time since I got out and shot clay targets, so today was as good a day as any to get out and shoot.  I mainly shot my Stoeger Uplander SxS today. You can tell it's been awhile since I only shot 100rds and my shoulder was actually sore.  The range I belong to took out the clay thrower and replaced it with a huge bank of dirt for .22's, so I went out and bought my own thrower.  At first I went the cheap route and bought a hand thrower.  Man, do those things suck.  I won't even go into detail on how bad they are.  I then did a little more research and bought the Trius One Step.  I can say without a doubt, so far, this thrower is awesome!  It's foot operated and takes zero effort to load.  While at the range I took two videos, one from a bench and the other from the ground.  The videos may be a bit long and boring, but you might get a kick out of how rusty I am.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Final Thoughts

I know this is about a week late but I've been pretty busy since I got home.  After I got home, I had to unpack, take care of the lawn, and go back to work.  On top of all that, Sara and I got engaged so I had to make the rounds to family.  I've added the last 2 photo's of the trip. 

The trip was amazing.  I can't stop saying enough good things about the staff and experience.  It's going to be tough for any other lodge to even be in the same league on future trips.  I certainly plan to go back for Grouse hunting sometime in the future.  I've also kept in contact with a few of the people I met and hope to get out in the field with them in the future. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Day 6

After not being able to find Serge's bear yesterday morning, fortune smiled on him today.  At 457pm another black bear walked out in front of Serge.  It was a short shot and he put it right through the heart and the bear was down not 20yds away. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Day 5

We woke up to rain and the forecast called for continuous rain all day, so I decided to throw in the towel and not go out to hunt today. My buddy Serge went out and got a shot at a bear at 705pm.  He was in a ground blind tucked away in some brush. Serge and Chad went to retrieve it that night, but when they found the bear, it was popping it's jaw, dug into a corner and meant business. They made the decision to come back in the morning and track it. 

We headed out to look for it this morning after breakfast.  There were 2 trucks and about 8 people in on the search.  We tracked the blood trail, saw some tissue, and a chunk of bone.  What we didn't find was the bear itself, though.  After 3 hours of walking around looking for it, we called it a morning so we could get back to the lodge, eat, then head out for another hunt.  It was a tough pill to Serge to swallow, but it happens.  There is still 2 more days to hunt.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Day 4

After another great breakfast this morning, I was still feeling tired so I decided to take a little cat nap so I wouldn't be tired in the tree stand later.  I woke up and headed downstairs to talk to some of the guys who were watching TV.  We chatted for a bit and before you know it, lunch was being served.  After lunch, it was business as usual.  We got dressed and headed out to our stands.  I got to my stand about 230pm.  It was a beautiful day. There was almost no wind and it was very quiet in the woods for quite a while.  Although you could almost hear a pin drop, what I did not hear was a bear walking into my area because nothing crossed my path. So no bear for me again tonight. I wasn't alone though. Neither Serge nor my guide got a bear tonight either.  

There were, however, 3 more bears brought back to camp tonight from other hunters, and one of them was a real good sized bear.  He weighed in at 300lbs and his arms were like tree trunks with paws the size of an adult males' head. Congrats to the hunter who shot it. He's been at the lodge many times before and has come up empty handed year after year, so I was happy for him.  I'm sure it was worth the wait for this one.  So far that bear was the biggest of this week.  I still can't believe the paws on it, it's like a dinner plate with claws and fur!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Day 3

I had an upset stomach this morning so I couldn't stuff my face, but I did have some delicious eggs, bacon, and home fries again.  I know I've mentioned this before and I'm sure I'll say it again, but the food is excellent here.

After breakfast, we went to the local sporting good store to pick up a few things and to get gas.  We stopped into Presque Island which, from what we saw of it, looked really nice.  We filled up and got back to the lodge just in time for lunch.  I don't remember exactly what we had for lunch because I was too busy laughing at the cranberry sauce with the can rings on the side.  When I was a little kid, and still to this day, I've always said the canned cranberry sauce is the best.  I always used to ask for it specifically at my grandparents house for Thanksgiving.  I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it at the lodge.  

We left for the hunt around 130pm and I got to my stand a little after 2pm.  As soon as I sat down, a few grouse flushed to my left.  It was great to see them because the area is great for grouse hunting.  I'll certainly have to come back for grouse another time.  The wind was blowing heavily for 3 or 4 hours.  It made it tough to listen for anything, but I didn't see any bears anyway. After shooting time was closed, I got a front row seat to an amazing lightning show while walking the dirt road waiting to get picked up.  The sky lit up like a flash time after time.  I was glad to see the truck because the rain storm came 20 minutes later.

For supper we had meatball grinders and chili, and needless to say, the windows will be open tonight. Tomorrow is another day out in the woods. There are storms rolling in and the forecast calls for rain tomorrow as well, but hopefully it'll end just before we get out and the bears are active for tomorrow afternoon into the night.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Day 2

This morning we woke up at 7am and got ready for breakfast, which is going to be served each day at 730am. There was a choice of eggs, pancakes, cereal, home fries, and sausage.  I ate some eggs, home fries, and pancakes, and the food was excellent. If that's breakfast each day, I'm going to go home 10lbs heavier than I left, which wouldn't be a bad thing. After breakfast we went out to the range to make sure the bullet still went where it was pointed. We each took a few shots and everything was right where it should be, so if I miss I can't blame the gun.  While driving to the range, I did see a few small deer on the side of the road running back into the woods. 

We got back to the lodge and relaxed on the couches and shot some pool for an hour or two.  Unfortunately, I took a beating at the pool table. I snapped some pictures of the lodge, which can be seen in my gallery or by clicking the link below. Lunch was served at 1230pm and the menu consisted of meatloaf and a baked tator. Again, the food was great! After lunch we showered up, got the camo on, and went hunting.  

Serge and I were dropped off in separate spots, probably 2 miles or so away from eachother and the other hunters.  The North Woods consist of a main dirt road, with smaller dirt roads off of the main road, then finally a hiking style trail to get to the tree stand or ground blind.  I got in my stand a little after 2pm.  The chipmunks, squirrels, and blue jays were going crazy.  My mind was racing with every squirrel that was running around.  It reminded me of a park where you see a few crazy kids running around and spazzing out. Chipmunks are natures' spazzy children with too much sugar in their system. I sat in the stand for 5 hours and only once did I think a bear might be near. I didn't see anything and the noise stopped so my guess is that natures' spazzy children were at it again.  

I started taking the various dirt roads back to the main dirt road where I waited to be picked up.  The North Woods is a beautiful (yet somewhat spooky) place after dark.  With the full moon it was an amazing sight, but not being able to see past my headlamp gave me a slight sense of uncertainty.  Good thing I've watched enough Survivorman to be able to sleep out in the woods if need be.  A little after 8pm, the silence was broken by a noise that was either my guide or a Sherman tank.  Luckily it was the guide.  No bears for myself, Serge or my guide, but there were 2 or 3 bears brought into camp by other hunters.  At least someone was successful.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oxbow Lodge Bear Hunt Day 1

Finally the day has come to start my week long bear hunt in Maine! The weather has been rainy, like everywhere else in New England, with a frost advisory.  This is the 3rd week of the bear season, hopefully it's the best.  The 1st week was very slow but the second week picked up.  So far the lodge is over 50% success rate. 

My friend Serge and I ended up leaving western Mass at 10am and started our 7 hour drive to Oxbow, Maine. We were only a few miles away from Canada to the north and the east.  The back seat of the truck was packed and we had a few coolers in the bed of the truck.  We took the Mass Pike east then eventually got on I-95.  We drove I-95, for what seemed to be days, until reaching Highway 11 in Maine.  That pretty much took us the rest of the way.  I made a mental note of dozens of streams, brooks, and rivers to kayak or fish in the future.  One could paddle for hours and hours and not see another soul, but enjoy everything Maine has to offer.

After driving past Bangor, the only scenery was marsh and trees.  We saw some turkey's on the side of the highway, but the sight of a 5,000lb Dodge Truck going from 70 to 0 to take a photo scared them off.  As we pushed north we kept looking out for any Moose in the marsh areas on the side of the road. Luckily we saw one.  It wasn't where you might have thought it would be.  It was actually out in the open, and at a gas station of all places!  So obviously we had to stop and take a picture.  It cooperated very well by staying still for as long as we saw it.  Who says you can't teach a wild animal tricks!

A little farther north of that, we pulled over at the Mt. Katahdin scenic viewing area. If you don't know, Katahdin is the start or end of the Appalachian Trail (depending which way you hike it).  We got out to stretch our legs and snap some photo's. Such greats views!  

We pulled in a little after 5pm and unpacked.  We carried all the gear up to our room and the lodge had a pig roast at 630pm.  It was soooo gooood.  The meat just fell off the bone.  It's making me hungry just thinking about it.  After dinner we had a little orientation, then headed off for bed. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

News: Advisory Regarding Discharge Of Sewage Into The Deerfield River



BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has issued a Health Advisory due to the shutdown of the Greenfield municipal wastewater treatment facility due to flooding associated with Tropical Storm Irene. On Sunday, flooding on the Green River and the Deerfield River inundated the plant with water, causing a shutdown of the treatment facility and a continuing discharge of untreated wastewater into the Deerfield River. As a result, bacterial contamination of these waters is expected.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Town of Greenfield and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency are conducting a coordinated response effort to assess the damage and determine what measures can be taken to remedy the discharge.

MDPH is recommending that individuals refrain from swimming, wading, kayaking/canoeing, fishing and other recreational water activities/uses of the Deerfield River and the Connecticut River downstream of the Montague City confluence of the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers until the situation is resolved. Exposure to bacterial contamination can result in gastrointestinal effects (e.g. vomiting, diarrheal illness) as well as respiratory and other irritant effects to eyes and skin. The Greenfield wastewater treatment plant remains submerged but engineers are reviewing plant design to determine what treatment facilities might be resumed once access is regained and an assessment of stability of the facilities is completed. MassDEP is working with MDPH and local health officials to reach out to the public and other officials of municipalities located along the Deerfield River and Connecticut River, to be sure they are aware of the situation.

MassDEP also will commence water quality monitoring of the river(s) for bacteria beginning today and will review the results with MDPH to determine the need for any additional health advisories. Results will be posted on MassDEP and MassDPH’s website.