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Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Opening at Long Ridge

This has been a beautiful fall...all the colors, the scents, the sights and the game, are unbelievable..
We have more bucks here than does, and that is a first! I would hazard to say three bucks for every doe on camera. And lots of bears...a few coyotes..I have not been able to post for some time due to time constraints because I have again taken up writing for New Hampshire Wildlife Federation. But, here we are... This black bear is a small guy, passing the 'Buck Stand".
A shootable buck for sure in NH, and while I cannot count his points in this picture, it is clear that there is a good spread.
We can never seem to get rid of these guys, unfortunately...
The two pictures below show a handsome fellow with a good wide spread...hope to see him during daylight hours.

Not sure if this is the same dude, about a mile away...
Nice shot...
Daytime shot of a little guy...worth saving for another year.
I love, love, this shot. Will the rut bring him out during season?
Same guy in velvet?
One of the last nursing this beautiful fawn will ever have...



We are bow hunting now and as of this point I have been out five times and seen three does. Chose not to take one (some out of range). As you know, I do not take does that have spring fawns with them. The reason should be obvious but if not, send me a note! Good luck to you all, and let me know how you make out this season!




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Perfect Time to Start a Deer Camp!

This post is a reprint from some years ago, but is the prime reason for starting this blog in the first place. If you are a hunter, and are not a part of deer camp, you cannot know how much you are losing out on. The answer of course, is to start one yourself. Don't need land, camps, or anything else to get started. See how we did it over the years. Go for it!

Before we talk hunting, let's talk about deer camps...what is the allure, and how do you join or start
It is time to address the question from a hunter last fall – “how do you get a deer camp started and what do you need to do it?” Good question, and the answer is totally fluid. You get a deer camp started with friend (s), and you need little to do it. I was a big city kid, and my first ‘deer camp’ was a huge colonial home in Marlow. We were there all summer, but returned to the city in the fall. In those days, deer season began about December 1st, so after Thanksgiving, Dad took us out of school, and up there where we started fires and furnaces, and lugged water, and made the place comfortable. In the evenings we would clean rifles, check gear, and get reviews on how to use a compass, start fires and things of that nature. By opening day, hunter friends of Dad’s would arrive and settle in a back room near an open fire and plan their hunts. We boys would listen, and learn.

By the time I was in college, the old place in Marlow was sold, and the only ‘deer camp’ I had ever known ended. My next deer camp, years later, was an invitation to hunt in Southern NH, where camp was the lower level of a split-level ranch, where the garage door looked out over a swamp. We all slept in the garage in sleeping bags, got up at 4 AM to grill breakfast, and then piled in trucks to our hunting destination. The night before the hunt was as always..planning, discussions on where and how, friendly arguments about methods, calibers, skills, and recipes. Bragging about families. Deer war stories. The past years’ work, the best truck, beer, rifle, and politics. Wasn’t fancy, wasn’t deeply rural, wasn’t even on land we could hunt – but was full of close friends, on the same quest, and we hunted hard.

Our present deer camp is deep in the Connecticut Valley on our farm. Over a dozen years ago, a hunting pal and I camped in the Eastern half of the old dairy barn, ready to hunt opening day. We had no water, and just a simple Coleman gas cooker to make coffee on. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor and used gas lanterns for light. We scouted the land and placed stands, and over the next several years, other hunters joined us, and the barn gradually transpired into almost luxurious standards. At the beginning the only heat we had was a hundred pound propane tank with a double-faced heater on it. It didn’t matter. We ate out of cans and made a stone fireplace outside. We got deer, some real trophies. Eventually, the place got tightened up, a wall gas heater was donated, and at twenty below outdoors, will bring the camp to a respectable 55 degrees. Another hunter donated a refrigerator. A portable toilet was rented. A real gas stove with an oven appeared one year. Big soft easy chairs were acquired, one by one. A bulletin board, a radio, electric coffee maker. Grill. Trophies from NH, Vermont, Colorado, Quebec, began to cover the walls. Deer hides, and antlers, Elk, Caribou, Coyotes, Fisher, Beaver, Moose, you name it. Bunks for eight, a four by ten foot dining table. Gourmet cooks among us, and wild game suppers have become an every camp expectation. The parking lot had to grow to accommodate up to a dozen big pick-ups and ATV’s. Game pole and hoists, huge woodpiles, and an early fall ‘deer camp letter’ to all hunters pretty much rounds out the scene. We have three long weekend camps during the regular firearms season, about all we can pull off. Some of the hunters hunt out West each fall, and bring elk or mule deer meat to camp. Others are busy hunting in other parts of the state, and have tagged their deer by the time camp is scheduled. They come anyway, and cook, and talk, and share their stories.

And that is my point. To have a deer camp, all you need is a friend who loves to hunt, and a place to share a coffee, a story and a good meal. A tent in a field, a garage floor, a real camp, a barn, a living room floor covered with sleeping bags. A love for the hunt. A place to introduce someone to the thrill of camp, of the hunt. Maybe a fireplace or an outside fire pit. If you start it, and invite a friend, it will grow. It will get better. Maybe you have to drive ten miles from ‘camp’ to hunt. So what? The sheer joy of planning, of strategy, of equipment and of luck is the same. Not all of us can afford a twenty thousand dollar guided grizzly hunt in Alaska. But any New Hampshire deer hunter can invite a friend, and share an evening fire. Deer camps can bring a wildly diverse group together and forge lifelong treasured friendships. Our regulars are as different as it gets – cops, and accountants, troopers and company owners, corrections and electricians, rich and the broke, old and the young. All with the same deep feeling of excitement each fall season brings, the opportunity to arrive at camp and see who’s there and to link up with friends perhaps not seen for the entire year. To check the logbook to see who is already out in the woods, and where. To find out who has tagged during archery or muzzleloader season. To hear the tales of those freshly back from Western hunts and to check out any new additions to the rifle rack. To enjoy the bustle of vehicles being unloaded and ATVs parked, and the clank of tree climbers on the porch.

To be a hunter, and to never have experienced any of this would be a tragedy. A deer camp is the perfect opportunity to introduce a non-hunter to the quest. There are those that hunt only because of deer camp ambiance. Think about that, and if you don’t already join your pals at a camp, make the big move this firearms season. Get together with a friend, or a dozen, and start your own deer camp. Stick with it a few years, and your camp will develop it’s own personality, it’s own culture. You will never regret it, and your lifelong hunting experience will be much richer in warmth and memories than without it. I guarantee it. I promise it.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Catching Up at LRDC

We have so many game pictures at Long Ridge that I am deleting most of them. Early on in the summer the fawns and does were non-existent, and I figured fawn recruitment was very low. Then in August, twins, and singles began appearing everywhere.
 The raccoons are helpful during early September stands, because they will tell you where the first acorns are. Hence, deer!
 A nice running shot over a mineral lick...
 This is a healthy fawn!
 And a few more...
 Night shot...
 This buck is eating apples about twenty feet from our deer camp porch!
 Unwelcome visitor...but look! The coyote is eating apples, and in the background is a deer waiting her turn! I have never seen a coyote and deer at ease together before...
 These big bears are all over the place. My hunt starts tomorrow...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

In The Heat of Summer at LRDC

Like most of the country, here at Long Ridge we are sweltering in high humidity and temps in the 90's. Little other than mowing and trimming can get done in such heat. Usually by mid July I am cutting, chopping, sowing etc. to get plots ready for August planting. This year I haven't accomplished a thing. We have barely a third of the hay we need, and hoping for a good August cut! I find that I have up to two thirds less animal pictures over the last few months, and am hoping that it is simply the heat. Only one fawn so far (a big fat healthy one) and that is highly unusual. Below are two different does on the East plot.

Here I am ATVing past my newest clover patch. While it has been browsed some, other years would have seen it chewed to half this height. It worries me.
At least one doe likes it.
Here is my sheltie 'Kalie' catching up to me on the ATV..
My only night shot on this plot in a week!
A broken turkey egg I happened on in the woods. I don't know if it hatched or was scavenged.
The doe below is watching me mow with a Bush Hog. She is 170 yards away.

In the road shot, I am standing next to my mail box with two yapping Shelties. The doe in the road is about 300 yards away and I am zoomed at 10X. She stood there a good ten minutes drinking water out of a pothole! There is a clear running stream thirty feet to the left. Go figure!

The three deer below are on the East Ridge plot.
I hope you are all managing to stay somewhat cool. Can't practice bow in this heat!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Arrives at Long Ridge

It has been a hot wet June here at LR, and I am totally bored with mowing lawns and typical farm maintenance chores. Just aching to get back to the woods, as are the pups for their walks. From early May through mid-July I don't let the dogs go beyond the camp parking lot. They will invariably happen upon a fawn carefully hidden by Mom close to human habitat. (fewer coyotes and bears) This has cost us dearly in vet bills in the past. The only wood trekking I do is ATV out to change camera cards. I use to clear trees, mow food plots and that sort of thing all summer but no longer. Every tree cut in May or June has an occupied nest, or lands on a turkey nest or near a fawn. Come mid July, I'll be out there.
This doe below looks to have given birth.
Hard to tell in the next few pictures what this rack will look like by August. He IS taking his mineral supplement though.

A gorgeous bobcat but check his mouth. He is panting in this heat.
Hard to imagine a prettier face!
I suspect that both coyote pictures are the same leggy dude..
A happy raccoon taking minerals. Apparently there is some distemper going around with these guys, some have been seen staggering and foaming at the mouth.

A Far Ridge resident cruising through.

Below I call this guy the 'Night Stalker'
A red fox camera curious?

Not absolutely sure what this visitor is, but guessing a raccoon - anyone else want to guess?

As we hit July it is time for you archers to get your bows tuned, and targets set up. Season here in NH starts in ten weeks! My bow needed a new draw adjustment modular, and tubing on the peep. It was completely shot and it is never pretty when those let go unexpectedly. I use a Whisker Biscuit rest, and replaced the innards on that, so I think I am ready to practice. In the next week or so I will repeat my "How do you start a deer camp?" (with no money, maybe no land etc.) It's easy to do, and was the original basis for this blog years ago. I had a query wondering if I mind people contacting me via email. I don't mind at all, and that is why I sign with my address.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Spring Blooming At long Rindge

Mid June it may be, but I have a few left over early spring pictures, and wanted to get them out. The first doe below is 10 feet in front of one of our turkey blinds where we call the East plot. Very hungry, and very, very pregnant. 
The next doe is quite a ways from the East Plot, at a mineral lick far up on some ridges. Very pregnant and due any minute if you check her bagged up udder.
Below is mom and last years surviver! She is clearly signaling another deer to stay away from the lick - not sure if her babe, or a deer out of the shot is meant to receive it.
Below I have named these 'molcanos'!Not sure why they are so high except it was below freezing, and perhaps the dirt froze in place as the mole kicked it up. The highest one was about nine inches tall. Never seen them like this before.
Someone tried to hide this acorn in the fall and apparently forgot where they put it.

Heaving bales down from the loft, I found this ermine weasel in prime winter coat dead deep in the hay. They go up there after chipmunks and squirrels, but hard to know what killed this guy. Perhaps another ermine?

These little bear tracks are in the lane, twenty feet from deer camp. 
The bear track below is in a run-off puddle in the lane and is almost five inches across. Mom and last years cub?
I have gotten several plots tilled but it has been too wet to plant yet, so still waiting. I like to get clover in by the middle of May, but just haven't had the opportunity. Hopefully this week will clear the moisture, and I can go to work. What are your plans for fall?

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