Most Discouraged

Wow! I was so disappointed after checking the cameras this morning. We have had a major leaf fall, but I did not see ANY deer sign this morning. The leaves can cover droppings and track, but not rubs. I saw nothing.

The cameras confirmed what my eyes saw. There was one doe on camera #1, 11 minutes after I checked it last, and that was it!

I did get a great video of Mamma bear and her now considerably larger twin cubs at the Fork. Right at the end of the video, she stands up on her hind legs.

Black Bear Sow and Cubs

Black Bear Sow and Cubs

I also got a great video of a fisher cat at Stand #2, which is not surprising, as I deleted over 60 videos of mice, flying squirrels, gray squirrels, and porcupines at Stand #2.

Fisher Cat at Stand #2

Fisher Cat at Stand #2

A coyote and a red fox, the first I’ve ever seen there, also showed up to try and take advantage of the rodent explosion.

Red Fox at Stand #2

Red Fox at Stand #2

Those rodents have completely wiped out the acorns there.

By the way, I got a great video of a big bull moose at the Fork a while back that I forgot to mention.

Big Bull Moose at the Fork

Big Bull Moose at the Fork

I’m stymied, but I don’t have the physical strength right now to scout the areas where I think the deer have moved off to.

My best guess is the bigger oak groves on either side of Mountain Road and up to Stand #5.

The other possibility is the new cutovers above Eckart’s.

I have never seen so little sign in J.E.

The brookies are getting ready to spawn. I saw several this morning, including at the spot where Debbie and I watched them spawn last year.

WLAGS

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Almost Famous

Almost Famous

Imagine my surprise when I turned to Page 61 of the Maine Open Water & Ice Fishing regulations (Page 63 of the PDF version). There, below the heading Catching and Releasing Fish, was my 18-inch brookie from the Rapid River.

That Photo Looks Familiar

That Photo Looks Familiar

If you’ve been following this blog, you might recognize that photo as a cropped version of the second photo in our August 19, 2014 post “Rapid River: A Challenge and a History Lesson.”

I emailed with the biologist, to whom I had sent the photo three years ago, and he said that he had submitted the photo for the Catch and Release section.

18-Inch Brook Trout in 2012

18-Inch Brook Trout in 2012

He hadn’t remembered where he had gotten the photo. When I reminded him that it was from me, he put Tony’s name on it as a credit on the online version

I told him that I was flattered that he thought enough of the photo and how I handled that fish that he put it in the “release” section of the regs.

I’m starting to see a trend. A year ago, I turned to Page 100 of the June 2014 issue of On the Water, and saw a photo of myself with that 32” pike. Again, it was the second photo in one of our blog posts. This time it was “Sam’s First Pike.”

32”, 8.3# Pike

32”, 8.3# Pike

Again, it was a photo that I had sent to a biologist—this time a New Hampshire biologist.

I guess we should be flattered that our photos of fish are magazine-worthy.

WLAGS

Just When You Think You’ve Figured It Out, Part 2

Now that we’ve checked all the cameras, we’d like to illustrate some of what we discussed in “Just When You Think You’ve Figured It Out.

On my previous trip to Camera #1, I got a video of a sow with two new cubs. They were about the size of six-week old lab pups, and they were scrambling like crazy to keep up with Mom.

I also got video of a very pregnant doe, and I was hoping to get some of the fawn this trip…and I did.

Today, I saw fresh moose track near Stand #1, and did get a video of a big cow.

I also got video there of a sizable bear…

…and a coyote.
I rarely actually walk up to the stand, but for some reason I did today. I was in for a surprise, as the lower four-foot section of the ladder was on the ground while the rest was still hanging in the tree.

Dismembered Ladder Stand

Dismembered Ladder Stand

My first thought was (as one might expect) was “someone was messing with it,” but I know better. First, this stand is very well hidden. Second, I tried to put the section back in place, but it was fruitless unless I loosened all of the straps, which in the rain and with tons of mosquitos buzzing around me, I decided against. It was obvious the perpetrator was very strong. He had to lift and pull this stand, which was extremely secure, having been in place for years!

The first camera is only 25 to 30 yards away, but with all the new greenery it might as well be a mile away. However the bear that I would see on the video when I got home was more than big enough to do the job.

Next surprise? Not a surprise at all. Camera #2 was all discombobulated when I arrived. One of the two latches was open, and the camera was on the wrong side of the tree. This didn’t take a genius to figure out. Sure enough, the video was all telling that it was a large bear.

WLAGS

Just When You Think You’ve Figured It Out

At my age, it is easy to think that you’ve seen it all. I know better, especially when it comes to the natural world, but I do think that, most of the time, I can figure it out.

Wrong!

Example number 1: This year’s Moosehead fishing trips. It is true that no two years are ever alike up there in May, but I can usually deal with that and have a measure of success.

This year was like no other. It was warmer, windier, and calmer (all in a week’s time) than I had ever seen before.

It Was Warmer and Calmer Than Ever Before

It Was Warmer and Calmer Than Ever Before

The surface water temperatures changed not daily but hourly as much as five degrees an hour. Never have I seen that before.

I won’t bore you with the details. It was not our worst year ever, but it was close.

We worked harder and put in more hours to catch a few fish. The good news is that they were all good fish–from Debbie’s 15”native brookie to Tony’s 23.5” laker. They were worth the effort, but it was a lot of effort.

Tony's 23.5-Inch Lake Trout

Tony’s 23.5-Inch Lake Trout

Example number 2: Today at J.E. I tried to take advantage of a break in the heat and the rain to check cameras.

On my previous trip to Camera #1, I got a video of a sow with two new cubs. They were about the size of six-week old lab pups, and they were scrambling like crazy to keep up with Mom. I also got video of a very pregnant doe, and I was hoping to get some of the fawn this trip.

Today, I saw fresh moose track near Stand #1, and did get a video of a big cow. I also got video there of a sizeable bear and a coyote.

I rarely actually walk up to the stand, but for some reason I did today. I was in for a surprise, as the lower four-foot section of the ladder was on the ground while the rest was still hanging in the tree. My first thought was (as one might expect) was “someone was messing with it,” but I know better.

You might remember a few years ago when a similar experience proved me wrong when two young bears messed with a camera and a stand, eventually climbing the stand. Those videos are on YouTube.

Two Young Bears Messing With Our Stand

Two Young Bears Messing With Our Stand

So I wasn’t so quick to come to a conclusion. First, this stand is very well hidden. Second, I tried to put the section back in place, but it was fruitless unless I loosened all of the straps, which in the rain and with tons of mosquitos buzzing around me, I decided against. It was obvious the perpetrator was very strong. He had to lift and pull this stand, which was extremely secure, having been in place for years!

The first camera is only 25 to 30 yards away, but with all the new greenery it might as well be a mile away. However the bear that I would see on the video when I got home was more than big enough to do the job.

Next surprise? Not a surprise at all. Camera #2 was all discombobulated when I arrived. One of the two latches was open, and the camera was on the wrong side of the tree. This didn’t take a genius to figure out. Sure enough, the video was all telling that it was a large bear.

Next surprise? Three times in three minutes the bear stood on his hind legs and vigorously rubbbed his back on the tree right in front of the camera! Bad news: This is my oldest camera, so there’s no sound.

The bear is very much enjoying his back rub!

Pole Dancing Bear

Pole Dancing Bear

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all!

WLAGS

Cameras and Trout

This morning at J.E. there was, as always, a few surprises.

I expected a ton of water after 4″ of rain, and there was. The beaver bog almost required hip boots. As I approached the camera there near the potential new stand, I saw a fresh rub. I thought for sure that I’d get the buck on the camera, but instead got a doe (again at 6:30 a.m.) and several rodents and birds.

At Stand #2, it was tough to see sign because the Nor’easter had brought down even many of the oak leaves. I did see two new rubs behind the stand, and then as I headed for the Fork, I saw a fresh scrape. It was about midway between Stand #2 and Fort Knox.

I followed track from that scrape towards Mother Beech, and about 45’ past it there was a very fresh scrape. It was about 30 yards from the camera. I thought for sure that I’d get him on the camera…I didn’t.

Then I was on to Buck Knob. I saw little sign. I didn’t expect anything on that camera…I was wrong. There were two bucks–the 3-pointer and the fork horn–and a couple of does. All between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Fork Horn at Buck Knob

Fork Horn at Buck Knob

As I made my way home down Rte.1A, my path was blocked by several young oaks that the beavers had dropped right across the trail. When I skirted around them, I noticed some brookies in the brook. I stopped and watched for half an hour in amazement as they were spawning. The females had scratched out redds, and the males would bump them on the side to get them to deposit their eggs. Then they would spray them with milt. Of course there was a lot of friction among the males, and the females were kept on the redds.

Spawning Brookies

Spawning Brookies

While I was watching the brookies, I heard turkeys “talking” on Rte. 1. John called me last night and said he saw 6 turkeys on Rte. 1 yesterday.

Turkeys

Turkeys

I watched for a long time, and finally Debbie came looking for me as, I was late to be home. So then I took her to this stretch of the brook were all the action was. She understood now why I was late as we watched some 30 brookies carrying on in less than 30 yards of water.

I have seen several species of fish spawn in my life, but never native brookies. The timing had me puzzled, as they would normally spawn between mid-September and mid-October. I think I figured it out. The storm had flushed most of the silt and debris from the stream, exposing the fine gravel, which they need for the redds. It also made it a lot easier for us to see them against the now much lighter bottom. It was a most fascinating and rewarding sight.

WLAGS

Scouting Report for October 9, 2014: Big Increase in Moose Activity

I got a dozen photos of two bulls and two cows in just three days. This was the best one.

Bull Moose at Fort Knox

Bull Moose at Fort Knox

Most of the activity was near Fort Knox, which is where I got the photo of this bull.  I also had several photos of deer near Fort Knox at both day and night. The pictures weren’t great, so I couldn’t tell how many were does and how many were bucks.

I had several daytime photos of moose at Buck Knob, but their heads were hidden.  I have always considered Buck Knob a transition zone and a rut zone. That is changing. The young oaks there are dropping a considerable amount of acorns.

I didn’t see the spawning brookies, but I could have shot several drake wood ducks. I did have my 20 gauge.

WLAGS

Scouting Report for September 17, 2014

I had a couple of missions in mind this morning.

First was to check out the oaks above Mt. Road. The other was to set a camera up there. I did the former, but not the latter. The reason was that although there were acorns, they were not falling in great numbers, and the undergrowth was such as to prevent a good field scan view of the goings on. It appears, at this time to be a good but not great acorn crop. That could be good for us. It means that the deer won’t be able to hold up in a specific oak grove for days on end.

All the sign I saw this morning indicated that they are moving from one grove to another. The acorns are big and full of good meat, so they are not going to be passed up, especially since to this point in time, I haven’t seen a single beechnut.

As I set up a camera down in the hollow, I heard blue jays screaming up at Stand #2. I knew that there was a bear there. Sure enough, as I approached the camera there were fresh bear droppings covered with flies. And sure enough, there were so many photos of bears on that camera, including from this morning, that it is almost funny. They are there not only every day, but two and three times a day! By “they,” I mean at least three, if not four or more bears every day in daylight, usually between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Bear Digging

Bear Digging

After that, I headed for Buck Knob. After checking the camera, where I found the batteries were shot, I came across a big fresh pile of cow moose droppings with a bear track right smack in the middle of it!

Bear Track in Moose Droppings

Bear Track in Moose Droppings

The camera proved me right. A big bear walked right to the droppings, but apparently the moose was just out of trigger range for the camera. There were also some great doe and skipper pictures on both cameras, but no bucks. All this was within easy range of the stands.

Speaking of that, I climbed Stand #2 stand for two reasons–one, to check the windows for a bow, which were great, and two, to look for acorns in the trees, which were not great. A little pruning would make it even better, window-wise.

The only real surprise was how much water is still in the woods. With all the streams and ponds looking low, it means to me that the water table is full, and all we need to restore the water levels in the streams is a little rain.

Today I covered 2.75 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes. A good workout!

WLAGS