Scouting the Hills

I started by checking out Faxxon this morning. My first stop was an apple tree hidden in the towering white pines. I found it several years ago when tracking a buck in the snow. It was loaded with apples then, but I haven’t seen that repeated in the last, now three years. There were no apples in it, nor more than a handful in any of the next dozen or more that I checked.

I proceeded down the trail, and I wasn’t surprised to see deer trails coming through the ferns heading toward the field.

One was so well used that I had to mark it, and I found a great spot for an early season tree stand.

Then I proceeded down to the logging road, and again I wasn’t disappointed–lots of track, and as always, one very big set of tracks.

Deer Track

Deer Track

The blackberries that have southern exposure have ripe fruit, so I added them to my breakfast menu.

Blackberries

Blackberries

I then skirted the field to check out the apple trees there. As I turned the corner to the first tree I came face to beak, if you will, with a hen turkey and her nine poults.

Hen Turkey with Poults

Hen Turkey with Poults

They were only 30 feet from me. I froze, and the hen slowly moved to gather and move her young, several of which had been dusting themselves under the tree, which had a good crop of red apples. She led them into the field. I paralleled them, but didn’t want to push them into full flight. I saw one more tree with apples, but did not check out others there for fear off driving the turkeys towards the road. This was obviously her second clutch. All of them were only about two-thirds the size you would expect for this time of year. The biggest were only slightly larger than a big rooster. As I went back to the truck, I came across pin cherry bushes that were loaded with ripe fruit.

Pin Cherries

Pin Cherries

I then went to the field where we sled. The most noticeable thing was the red clover throughout the field.

Red Clover

Red Clover

There was much deer sign, mostly trails leading out of the cover and into the field. Again four beautiful apple trees and not a half-dozen apples between them. I then went up top where some of the trees along the edge of the road had a few apples.

My assessment overall from this one day, and what I have observed at J.E. and along the roadside, is that this is going to be a terrible apple year and a good year for almost every other kind of fruit. The acorns look good, but it is too yearly to call the shot, as the big drops will come in just about a month.

Beechnuts are the next big question, and we are about two weeks from getting our answer.

Bear season opens in less than 8 days, and archery season for deer and turkey is just 15 days later.

WLAGS

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“Water, Water” or “He’s Back”

I couldn’t make up my mind how to title this, so I chose two of the most important things that I saw today.

I made my way from the back door to the junction of Routes 1 and 1A. When I saw that Rte. 1 was still very wet, I knew that I should have worn my rubber boots. So I turned up the higher Rte. 1A and immediately saw fresh deer droppings. I think they are avoiding the higher water levels too.

The flora and fauna are definitely taking on the fall look. The sarsaparilla is turning brown, the Indian pipes are in full bloom, and the Indian cucumbers are not quite ripe. The same can be said for the blackberries. The bunchberry is however in the ripe stages with a bumper crop. There were little streams of water flowing everywhere, and in many places the old logging road looked like a cranberry bog in flood stage.

Bunchberries

Bunchberries

You could see even in the smallest trickles of water where a week ago they were gushing streams clearing a path to the bigger brooks and ponds. I’m sure that sometime in the last 60 years I must have seen an August like this, but I can’t remember one. It looks like May or October with these kinds of water levels, and the ground cannot absorb anymore now and probably not for days to come.

I made my way up to Buck Knob, and at first I was taken aback at the swath of bunchberries, but these were almost void of fruit. Then I put 2+2 together, and I figured out that here I am standing in the spot that is home to more bears than anywhere else for miles around, so that explained it. The bears are grazing on them. They are edible by the way.

Then I made my way to the red hot Stand #2, and bingo, there was sign from every conceivable critter, including fresh buck droppings. Then down to Stand #1, where I slapped myself upside the head. I forgot to put a card in the camera last week!

So I made my way home. I was pretty proud of myself. After doing all that, I was done and home in less than an hour and a half. Not bad for a 69 year-old who four days ago was in the emergency room. When I got home, I was greeted by four crows that had been feasting on *all* of my ripe tomatoes! Hell hath no fury like that of ticked of Italian tomato farmer.

The camera at Stand #2 showed an amazing amount of activity, largely because the acorns are falling early. There were several videos of deer and two of bears. The first of which checked out the camera 90 minutes after I set it last week. When there was no animal on the video, the camera was recording footsteps repeatedly.

The big news however is that our black canine is back! The not so good news is that the video quality is not suitable for this blog. I’m hoping that Tony can “photoshop” it. The black coyote/wolf was there in daylight again, as were almost all of the animals, except one doe and another that had a fawn. All in all, I have never had a single camera placement that has produced so much in such a short time, and that is especially true in the summer.

Welcome to my little slice of heaven.

WLAGS

Rapid River: A Challenge and a History Lesson

Back in mid-June of this year, Tony and I went to fish the Rapid River in the Rangeley region of Maine. This was result of our first trip there in June of 2012. That 2012 trip was one of exploration, physical effort, and great reward. The exploration came from us going on research, hearsay, and trusting our gut. The physical effort came in the form of a two-mile hike in waders on a logging road in warm weather. The reward was some great fishing.

Great Fishing on the Rapid River in 2012

Great Fishing on the Rapid River in 2012

We didn’t know what we were getting into back in 2012, but we hoped it would be worth the gamble and effort. It certainly was. I caught five native brook trout, including the biggest of my life, an 18-incher.

18-Inch Brook Trout in 2012

18-Inch Brook Trout in 2012

Tony caught five wild (meaning they were born in the river) landlocked salmon and a native brookie.

Tony's 13-Inch Brookie in 2012

Tony’s 13-Inch Brookie in 2012

Most of the salmon were taken on dry flies, by far the most exciting way to catch them.

Wild 17-Inch Landlocked Salmon in 2012

Wild 17-Inch Landlocked Salmon in 2012

The hike out was tough, but not as tough as it would have been had Tony not made an extra trip back to the truck in the midday heat to retrieve food, water, and most importantly shoes so we could carry our waders instead wearing them. It was a very memorable day to say the least.

So we looked forward to our next trip there, but with some adjustments to our way of getting there. We decided to book a stay with Lakewood Camps, which is located on Lower Richardson Lake, just above Middle Dam and the beginning of the Rapid, where we fished on our previous trip. The lodge has a long history of lodging sportsmen in the region, and that is well documented. The most frequent method of reaching the lodge is by driving to South Arm on Lower Richardson Lake and taking a boat provided by the lodge the five miles across the lake to the camp, which was the only way of reaching it back in the day.

Motoring Across Lower Richardson Lake

Motoring Across Lower Richardson Lake

We provided a rating of the lodge here.

A few days before our arrival, the discharge (or flow) from the dam was 2,000 cubic feet per second (CFPS). When we arrived, it was down to 400 CFPS. That is two extremes–very high and a little low.

That makes where you fish and how you fish difficult to ascertain. All fishing is fly fishing only, and all hooks must be barbless.

The fishing was challenging. If it weren’t for a nice backwash that Tony spotted and many other fishermen missed, our success would have been very different. We caught most of our trout and salmon on dries, which is preferable, but with the river so properly named, every fish was a challenge to land.

Tony caught his biggest native brookie (16″) along with several others and several nice salmon. He earned them because he was observant enough to spot that nice backwash that was holding so many fish.

Tony's 16-Inch Brookie in 2014

Tony’s 16-Inch Brookie in 2014

The other mission we had was to see and fish near Forest Lodge, the home of author Louise Dickinson Rich. She wrote a number of books, mostly about living here in the ’40s. Her most famous was “We Took to the Woods.” It is an amazing book about an amazing lady during a time in our history that is not written about enough. It was all about her life here in what was then wilderness, and I can assure that it hasn’t changed much.

We fished in front of her house and caught some fish just as she did 70 years ago.

Catching Native Brook Trout In Front of Forest Lodge

Catching Native Brook Trout In Front of Forest Lodge

Tony even saw a machine that he could not identify on the porch of her house, which is now a museum of sorts. The machine was a wringer washer, like we used in the ’40s and ’50s.

Forest Lodge Wringer Washer

Forest Lodge Wringer Washer

You can stay at the lodge, by the way, as did three fishermen from New Hampshire.

It is a beautiful area and worth the effort to get there by boat, plane, or by hiking.

Rapid River Beauty Near Forest Lodge

Rapid River Beauty Near Forest Lodge

You can access the area by car only if you stay at Forest Lodge, but you will need a 4WD with great ground clearance, lots of patience, and good driving skills over several miles of very, very rough roads.

This area also produced some other women that were ahead of their times in their independence and their skills in sports dominated by men. Carrie Stevens lived further up the lake at Upper Dam and designed and tied the most famous flies for salmon and trout in the 1920s and continued to do so for decades. Her patterns are still used today.

Then there was Fly Rod Crosby, yes a woman, and world famous fly caster and outdoors woman.

Several of our presidents fished here as well.

Fishing and history are often very compatible.

WLAGS

Lodge Rating: Lakewood Camps 2014

We here at WLAGS want to give you what we deem an honest evaluation of lodges, camps, and other places we have been. Today, we’re giving you our opinion of Lakewood Camps, and sharing some of our photos of our stay there.

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Lakewood Camps

Lakewood Camps

Lakewood Camps Ratings 2014

Cabin: Alson Lodge

Our Cabin

Our Cabin

 

Location: 10

Service: 7

Check-out time (1:30): 10

Lodge: 7

 

 

* Cabin overall: 7

Water pressure: 7

Water temperature: 7

Beds: 9

Cabin location: 9

Cabin view: 10

Cabin temperature: 5

Cabin structure: 5

Boating facilities: 6

Access to electricity: 5 (generators off from 9:30 PM to 6:00 AM)

View from Our Cabin

View from Our Cabin

 

* Food overall: 7

Food portions: 8

Food quality: 7

Food breakfast: 7

Food lunch: 6

Food dinner: 7

Food dessert: 7

Meatloaf for Dinner

Meatloaf for Dinner

 

Fishing potential: 10

Fishing access: 6

Middle Dam on the Rapid River

Middle Dam on the Rapid River

OMG!

To quote this generation…OMG is Stand #2 hot!

I only have one camera out now because of Angie. The last time I was in the woods I moved it from Buck Knob to Stand #2 because of all the previous photos there of bear, deer, coyote (wolf?), and bobcat.

It has been there less than 2 weeks, I think. In that time there were three bear visits (a dozen photos, all in daylight), several deer, including a buck on two visits, and a moose.

When I started in this morning, I saw that there were still plenty of blueberries in the field, and I thought that the bears should be hitting them. As I headed up the hill, I noticed several overturned logs, stumps, and rocks; a sure sign of bear, as they look for insects. I also saw some moose track, but I wasn’t very optimistic that the moose would pass the camera. They rarely travel that trail.

So when I got home, I wasn’t surprised at all by the bear photos. However, I was surprised that it appeared to be at least two different bears, and maybe three.

Bear at Stand #2

Bear at Stand #2

I was surprised that the moose did pass in front of the camera, but too far away for good photos. I feel confident that it is the same young bull that I got pictures of on Buck Knob late last month.

The deer were not a surprise, but given that this camera is not set up on a food source, but rather a transition zone, I’m surprised at the frequency of the deer and all of the other animals.

It shows the value of a diversified environment, such as cutovers, open areas, wetland, dense evergreens, and open hardwoods. This spot is within a few yards of all of those, and this is why such a variety of wildlife call it home.

WLAGS