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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Frozen in Place - LRDC in Late March

Well folks, here we are in New Hampshire - absolutely frozen in place! Too cold to be out, and too hot to be in. As I like to say, March is the honest month. She is unequivocally nasty. 5 degrees below zero, to 50 above. It nevers matters whether it is at the beginning or the end of the month. It can get really warm, sub-zero temps 12 hours later, 18" of snow , back to 40 degrees. I love it for that. I took a measuring stick with me on my walk this morning with the pups and found an average of 21 inches of snowpack on the ground. To be sure, these are slightly North facing inclines, but even so I was disappointed in how much we have left. The ice broke up, and opened up the Connecticut River a week ago, and that is always a good sign of spring when water reappears. I do observe some bob houses still out on ponds and lakes though!
One thing about these temps though, I do love walking through the woods on hard crust, no snowshoes needed, over all the trash winter has left. Smooth sailing and the dogs love it too. Unfortunately this time of year brings on other chores, so varmint hunting has taken a back seat. Shearing day was today, and now that that is over, the farm once again becomes secondary (to me). I can begin to think about coyotes again, and  turkeys coming up the 1st of May. And then there is the momentous decision on what to buy for a bow target this year. I have worn out my foamers completely and my Delta buck target ( as I posted) blew out last summer. So that is an adventure in itself!  A fairly expensive one. Buying a cheap bow target every year makes no sense at all...I'll keep you posted!
If you check her withers you can see the wounds on both sides of the ever returning doe. She is continuing to heal and looks like she may make it through to fawning time! 

Just a few springtime pictures of the back yard...

This red fox below somehow beat the fast trigger time of my Cuddeback!
Not this gray one though...
And wouldn't you know it...a coyote to spoil the fun! I'll try to do this guy!
There is her left side, almost completely healed in the last two weeks.

And her other side, also almost fixed! She'll be a wiser and better Mom, come June!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winter is Broken - or, Spring is Here!

Spring has finally broken here! Four days ago, it actually rained when it went up to 33 degrees, but then it dropped to 15 degrees over night and we had a terrible ice storm. Our farm generators ran for twenty hours before power was restored. Stepping outside, all you could hear were the huge pines snapping and crashing all through the hills. Villages ten miles north of here were out of power until yesterday. BUT, today it actually went up to 38 degrees, and the snow is melting fast. The pictures below show deer coming out into our North pastures which face steeply South, and have a thin line of bare ground. I broke my own rule, and put out a game cam before April 1st. Since it isn't below zero much any more, the batteries will last. Twelve different does you can see here, along with a few raccoons. More will follow!


                                  Our trails are trashed from the ice storm. There are huge trees across many places and it will take some time in the spring when the snow pack is gone to clear them all out again. Below you can see where the brooks are eating away at the twenty four inches of packed snow on the trail...
Below is the water hole the deer use all winter. After the rain it really opened up!
Ice is heavy on these trees. If it does not melt soon, we will lose even more of them.
             Below is an icy scene near the Far Stand. This is a dead Hemlock, so beautiful in the light.

Walking the trails is like going through a tunnel. Everywhere, trees bowed way over, and many of them could snap any moment. I walk with a great deal of caution when I hear trees going down around me.
But, with all the ice, and wind, and fickle temperatures, it IS March, and daylight savings, and sun to come. The snowmobile trails are closed now and a new season opens! Let the snow go! Our trees are all tapped, and the sap is being boiled. A NEAT time of the year!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hunting Life Begins Again!

Happy upcoming spring you people! It has been a long, long winter for the nation, and it hasn't stopped yet for most of us! Until today we had over thirty inches of snow on the ground and we've had that and more all winter. So, that only means that I did very little hunting here at Long Ridge, and the few times I went out coyote hunting I did not get one. Below is deer camp a few days ago. We have no place left to pile snow and if I did not have a bucket loader, we'd have been doomed this winter. So in a way in spite of my love for winter and snow, I am glad to see it begin to seriously melt today.

It has been a terrible few months for the local deer herds. Below zero, and +30 inches of snow for most of the winter spells a high mortality rate if things go as usual. The ones we see look to be in good health, but that is illusion usually. Some look well, but are severely stressed, and their fat reserves are low, and their bone marrow gone. The coyotes will be killing them by the dozens, especially now that they are whelping out their pups. Below there are some tracks coming out of the deep snow to our trails, and below that, a watering hole they use all winter. There are two separate groups of deer visiting the small pasture up behind the house. The land slopes steeply up out there, facing South and there is a thin patch of open ground by the stone wall. Yesterday a group of seven came through and while they were feeding we noted a large doe with a severe wound on her upper withers, a gash about eight inches long and quite deep into the flesh. It was open about 3-4 inches wide. To our astonishment, when she turned around to go back, we noted an almost exact duplicate wound on her right side, same place. Clearly she was attacked by something with a large mouth, or long claws but escaped. Though the wounds were deep and long and red, they were no longer bleeding, and she was moving and browsing OK. Bear? Coyote? What do you think?


Yesterday I went out on snowshows with dogs and trimmed up six wild apple trees scattered around our fields. I left all the branches right there on the ground and today I found they had been heavily browsed by two deer over night. They came down from the Far Ridge so not part of the groups behind our house.
After last months post about my coyote hunt, I did get a comment from someone categorically stating 'You can't kill dogs with # 6's'...referring I suppose to my mention of using my shotgun. Well, I know this follower to be wrong, but it did give me an idea for a fun project - find out what the best patterning load, with decent penetration I can find using 40 and 50 yard coyote targets. I have embarked on that project as you can see below. Once I find the best load for my shotgun with extra full choke, I will run that load through several different chokes, and pass on the best combination I can find. There are places in this country where it is illegal to hunt with a rifle, but there are coyotes virtually everywhere. So for those of you who chose or must use a shotgun, I will post my result in the future. Below you see a target shot offhand at 40 and at 50 yards with no. 2's (steel) Note, even with a 2 3/4 inch shell, there are 37 hits! I counted only good body hits.

Below is a full size Delta Coyote target that I shot at the same distances with a BBB magnum 3 inch shell.  & vital hits at 50 yards, and 14 at 40...pretty decent...      

                                                                                   Here is the Remington model 11-87 I use. It has a red dot mounted on it for turkey and coyote.
                                        I have actually taken more coyotes with my truck gun, a Ruger Mini 14 Ranch with a 4x Leupold on it. Not a tack driver but 3 inch groups regularly. What I do NOT have to worry about, is it banging around my truck. It is as rugged and reliable as any gun I ever shot, and the flash hider keeps the wet floor and salt from reaching the muzzle. It has been indestructible for 29 years!

I did get away last week for a day's foray into Massachusetts where I spent hours at the New England Sportsman's Show at the Big E in Springfield Massachusetts. I have posted a ton of neat pictures below, but I will state this caviat...this show was a huge disappointment. The pictures you see are of outfitters - there had to be a hundred of them, and I love that part of the show. Every conceivable critter and geographic location on Earth is represented, and it's all so neat. But for the rest of the show, a bust. Not a single ATV manufacturer bothered to show. Only Savage, and Smith&Wesson (Thompson Center Arms) had their firearms displayed. Incidentally because I actually picked up a TC Venture Predator, I am going to purchase one. But that's a different post...There were some bass boats on display, and the typical tables of cheap Chinese manufactured goods, a good mounted white tail racks display, and a caged live grizzly bear that amused no one except ignorant adults and kids who know no better. In all, I enjoyed talking and visiting with the outfitters from all over the world. Other than that, not worth your time. I would have learned more by taking an hours walk in the woods.

I never knew that Warthogs were as huge as they are!


The gents below were selling all kinds of beautiful furs...mink, fox, bobcat, lynx, you name it!
One of my favorite animals is the Wolverine. Our Fisher, though smaller, are exactly the same in spirit and temperment...

The size of this elephant mount truly took my breath away. I cannot imagine being under full charge of an enraged bull elephant. This reminded me of the biggest one ever shot, a fully stuffed speciman in the Museum of Natural History in DC that is 13 feet at the shoulder!!!

For my Connecticut friends, I have included this picture of the Connecticut Trappers Association. They had an interesting exhibit.

The heads shown below were all taken in New England states. Some truly magnificant bucks.
The ones below, from all over the US...

This is the first time in twenty years I have attended an outdoors show such as this. The last I believe was in Chicago, and my memories of it were much better. In short, I won't be going again, and if you want to see everything I saw, and have more fun, and without an admission charge,visit a Cabelas' superstore.

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