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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rifle Season Opens at Long Ridge

Ok People, today opened rifle season in New Hampshire. Today, tomorrow and Friday, does and bucks may be taken. From Saturday on, through December 6th, only bucks may be taken. By state law, bucks by definition must have one antler at least three inches long.

All summer we have been monitoring our fields, food plots, and woodlands for deer population, and our conclusion is that the fawn survival rate is way down this year. I can only guess that this is due to the high bear population. Bears do raise cane with newborns left by their mothers when they leave them to feed. I have three different bears on my cameras from June through September, and even one bear can comb a large forested tract clean of any food. In any case, we are setting up to hunt bear next fall. We had a similar situation with coyotes several years ago, shot a bunch, and the problem seemed to go away. I'll keep you posted.

This year we have instituted Quality Deer Management Standards to our camp. By this, I mean we have researched what that means, and implimented whatever parts of it would seem to apply to our area. Since we are under fairly light hunting pressure, the simple rule is, shooting does OK, shooting bucks with less than eight points is not.

This rule is being found hard to swallow by some camp members who do not often get deer. For those of us that regularly harvest two or three, it is no big deal. I sympathize with hunters who resist the change. After all, some of my campers are truly in it for the meat they can place in the family freezer. But as you can see from past summer and fall postings we have many four and six point, two and three year olds, and we have regularly harvested them over the past ten years or so. This year we are letting them live so that they may join the ranks of the more seldom seen eight, ten and twelve pointers we do love to bring in. I hope to increase exponentially the handsome trophys hunters at LRDC bring in. I will keep these rules in place a minimum of three years before I try to measure success/change.

These rules are not cast in stone. A first time hunter, a far traveled guest, or youth on their first hunt, hey, take what you will...get hooked, become a lifelong addict to nature and hunting. THEN we'll clamp down on you! (-:

You can see in the pictures a four,

and eight point buck.

The six and eight point do spar a bit,

and also you can see in the darkest picture, a Fisher. This is a little guy, I'd guess ten/fifteen pounds...

For those of you who do not have them in your part of the country, they too take fawn after fawn for dinner. Here in Northern New England, we call them the Wolverine of the East. They are tough to the core, fearless, and they never give up. I have live-trapped them, and driven them miles away to free them, and they never, ever, stop attacking the cage they are in. They average 15-20 pounds, but can reach double that. And when they do, they are nothing to mess with. While moose hunting with a LRDC pal several years ago about twenty miles North of camp, we saw the biggest Fisher either of us had ever seen. Comparing this one to weights of beaver and other animals I have had more experience with, I'd have guessed this one at about 40 pounds. Any game warden would scoff at that but my buddy, no stranger to the woods and nature guessed closer to fifty
pounds. Whatever it weighed it was huge and nasty as we watched it savagely aattack a rotten tree trunk and eat mice or some other small rodents it found. We both had scoped 30-06's on it and while it was not in season, I did feel an urge to take it, just to prove that they get that big. When I trapped them, even the smallest was eager to take on my 100 pound Lab (who knew better) and he was no slouch for a fight!

So, Friday at noon, I light the out door fireplace, and retreat into camp to get into Scent-Lok and other gear. I'll stay in camp long enough to hear other rigs arrive, the unloading of gear, beer, ATV's and laughter and raucous greetings, before we sign the log as to what stand we are headed for, and head out, Winchester Featherwight 30-06 in hand...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Muzzle Loader Opener and Mock Scrapes

This past weekend was the opener to our muzzle loading season. This was not a stay over camp, and no one showed up to hunt the property. I did go out several afternoons on stand, and morning still hunts but did not see any deer. Oh, they were here - every evening I came out of the woods they were all over the fields and barely moved as I puttered down on my ATV. But as far as decent bucks go, nothing. I did not really expect to see any as it is normal for our big guys to stay put until real cold, and the second and third week of November set in...As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful full moon this past weekend...if you did not know, the November full moon is officially called the Hunter's Moon.

I sat two evenings far up on the Ridge from camp. No deer, but as it got dark and that beautiful amber moon came up over my left shoulder, big as a dinner plate, I knew, simply knew, that I was in the right place in this tiny glimpse of history. Typically I lower my gear from the stand in the dark and hike down a trail a hundred yards or so to my ATV where I load my gear and putter on out. About a half mile down toward camp is where I pass the Far Stand, (check the pictures) and right after that I hit the fields I cross to get to camp. That is where I see the does all chowing down. On Sunday night, while I was still in stand, and the moon coming up like a big saucer, a flock of around ten raucous Canada Geese crossed it on their way South. I was close to Heaven.
Now, someone asked me about mock scrapes. Believe me I have subscribed to, and read every major deer hunting and archery publication available in the last twenty years (before that I was a yeoman patrol cop who couldn't afford such luxuries) and I have hunted New England for 54 years. So about fifteen years ago I began to set up mock scrapes. Exactly where and how all the experts and pundits descriped. For the last ten years I have used the drippers and scents from Wildlife Research Center and here are my results. Zip. Save your money.

I have set up scrapes as directed, used every scent made, as directed, used scent free gloves, spent countless dollars on products, and conclude, in New England, that mock scrapes are not worth the time or money.
Below is one I have had in place by the Far Stand for 12 years. I have yet to take a deer over it, though I have shot many deer from this stand...

The pictures of the stand you see is the Far Stand, fifty yards into the woods looking down at a field.

Upper is the stand, lower is the field it looks out on...

 Right below the stand is a cross roads of deer trails.

I have seen literally hundreds of deer while sitting in this stand. Once, in fourteen years I saw a young immature buck sniff the mock scrape. Once. Now, to be fair, I did shoot a buck in 1998 that was walking toward me from my right toward the mock scrape. He was still seventy five yards from it when I shot him. He was a nine pointer that dressed out at 240 pounds. Huge. But there is no indication that he was headed to the scrape. Last year while sitting in this same stand, a ten pointer came up across the field headed directly for this scrape. I passed up an easy seventy yard shot thinking he would stop at the scrape, but no, he veered off leaving me with no shot at all. He never went close to it.
I have used every scent Wildlife Research makes, a myriad of doe-in-heat/buck tarsal, you name-it scents. Just for fun. And I don't mean to discourage your use of mock scrapes. They are fun to do, fun to watch, and divert attention. But in this part of the country, if you are doing them to attract deer, forget it! If you are doing them for an excuse to get out there, go for it!
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