The Maine Sportsman February 2024 Digital Edition

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Sportsman The Maine

February 2024 • $4.99

For Over 50 Years!

BIGGEST BUCKS IN MAINE CLUB 2023 • Top 10 Photo Gallery - P. 42-43 • Are You on the List? - P. 44-47

Curse of the Sunday Buck P. 52

It’s Time to Ice Fish P. 21

Handloading Ammo P. 35

Maine’s Winter Wind Storms: “Your Beach is Gone!” P. 61

2 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

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4 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Editorial Poachers Continue to Incriminate

New England’s Largest Outdoor Publication

Sportsman The Maine

Themselves on Social Media

ISSN 0199-036 — Issue No. 615 •

Decades before the advent of social media, there was a saying in the law enforcement community – “There are no mute individuals in prison.” In other words, more often than not, a suspect’s own words, boasts and admissions were what got him or her into trouble. We’ve been following various stories around the country involving alleged poachers who are facing public allegations or charges. In many cases, the suspects incriminated themselves in a very public manner; namely, by posting images on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or TikTok. In Ohio, fish and game officials are reviewing the case of a trophy deer that a hunter says he shot during the daytime on land owned by his sister. The hunter posted photos on social media of the buck, which featured antlers achieving a preliminary score of 206-7/8ths inches – the potential #1 typical whitetail ever taken in Ohio, according to Outdoor Life magazine, and #3 in North America. However, someone noticed that all known photos of the deer had been taken at night. Then more information was presented to wardens, including allegations the hunt had not taken place on the sister’s property, but rather on other private property, which the hunter did not have the required permission to access. The investigation continues. The deer’s antlers, and the hunter’s equipment, have been confiscated. Meanwhile, a Virginia man is under investigation after posting a photo of himself with a non-typical 29-point buck he said he shot in a certain area of the state. What he was not counting on, however, was that the buck was a much-photographed social media star in its real neighborhood, which was 70 miles away from where the hunter claimed to have killed the deer. In New York, wardens received a tip about an illegally bow-hunted deer. They identified a suspect, and obtained records establishing he had purchased a hunting license on October 7, 2023. However, a quick review of the suspect’s social media account revealed he’d posted a video of a bloody arrow the day before his license purchase, and that the first photos of himself with the deer appeared a mere two hours after he’d acquired the license. When confronted with the evidence, the suspect admitted shooting the buck first, and then purchasing a license. The long, recent list continues – in California, two hunters posted photos of themselves with several big deer. However, a quick record check by wardens revealed that the hunters never registered the kills. In Florida, two young men broke into a deer farm, and filmed themselves killing several deer. Then they posted the videos on Snapchat and Facebook, with predictable results. Comparable stories have emerged from Montana, Maryland, and South Dakota. So what are we to make of this? It could be as simple as dumb people doing dumb things. To quote Ralph Scherder of, “It’s no secret that poachers make some pretty bad life decisions.” But it also points out the power of social media to cloud folks’ judgment, like the individuals who are convinced we’ll be entertained or educated by viewing photos of the plate of food they were served at a restaurant the previous night. Bottom line? Don’t poach. It’s illegal, it’s dangerous, it’s bad for game management, and it gives all hunters a bad name. And besides, you’ll get caught, and that will cost you money, your reputation, your equipment and your hunting privileges. In this era of trail cameras, phone tracking, and – yes – posting photos of yourself online, it’s inevitable that wardens will soon be knocking at your door.


On the Cover: Maine Sportsman reader Spencer Ross of Union, Maine was hunting in his hometown on November 23, 2023 with his .308 when he tagged this 200.2-lb., 8-point buck, and earned his Biggest Bucks in Maine patch. The weight was certified by the proprietors at Four Corner Variety, 1718 Heald Hwy in Union. Congratulations to Spencer, and to all whitetail hunters who got into the woods this past season.


OFFICE MANAGER: Carol Lund CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Kristina Roderick ADVERTISING DIRECTOR: Nancy Carpenter DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR: Jon Mulherin Second class postage paid at Scarborough, ME 04074 and additional entry offices. All editorial inquiries should be emailed to Phone: 207-622-4242 Postmaster: Send address changes to: The Maine Sportsman, 183 State Street, Suite 101,­ Augusta, ME 04330 12-Month Subscription: $33 • 24-Month Subscription: $54

TABLE OF CONTENTS Almanac by Will Lund.................................................... 11 Aroostook - “The County” by Bill Graves..................... 29 Big Game Hunting by Joe Saltalamachia.................. 40 Big Woods World by Ben Allen & Hal Blood................ 39 Editorial.............................................................................. 4 Freshwater Fly Fishing by William Clunie...................... 59 Get Out There by Staci Warren.................................... 52 Jackman Region by William Sheldon.......................... 50 Jottings by Jon Lund........................................................ 8 Katahdin Country by William Sheldon......................... 48 Letters to the Editor.......................................................... 6 Maine Sportswoman by Christi Elliott........................... 38 Maine Wildlife by Tom Seymour................................... 16 Midcoast by Tom Seymour........................................... 58 Moosehead Region by Tom Seymour......................... 56 New Hampshire by Ethan Emerson.............................. 76 Nolan’s Outdoor World by Nolan Raymond............... 34 Off-Road Traveler by William Clunie............................ 68 Outdoors & Other Mistakes by Al Diamon.................. 79 Quotable Sportsman by Will Lund................................ 14 Rangeley Region by William Clunie............................. 70 Ranger on the Allagash by Tim Caverly...................... 33 Riding Shotgun by Robert Summers............................. 78 Saltwater Fishing by Bob Humphrey............................ 19 Sebago to Auburn Region by Tom Roth..................... 65 Self-Propelled Sportsman by Jim Andrews.................. 53 Shooter’s Bench by Col. J.C. Allard............................. 36 Smilin’ Sportsman by Will Lund...................................... 78 Snapshots in Time by Bill Pierce.................................... 10 Southern Maine by Val Marquez................................. 67 Sporting Environment by David Van Wie.................... 54 Tales from the Warden Service by Ret. Lt. Doug Tibbetts.72 Tidewater Tales by Randy Randall............................... 61 Trapping The Silent Places by David Miller.................. 64 Trading Post (Classifieds)............................................... 81 Trout Fishing by Tom Seymour....................................... 62 Vermont by Matt Breton............................................... 75 Western Maine Mountains by William Clunie.............. 73

GUEST COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS BIGGEST BUCKS IN MAINE CLUB 2023......................42–47 Boating by Bob Humphrey............................................ 17 Ice Fishing by Blaine Cardilli.......................................... 21 Snowmobiling by Steve Carpenteri............................. 25 Guest: Handloading a Firearm by David E. Petzal..... 35

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6 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Letters To The Editor

We’ll be Docking the Proofreaders’ Pay

To the Editor: Regarding your listing of the winter hunting seasons (see “Maine Hunting Seasons Still in Play in January”; Almanac, January issue), you might want to double-check the snowshoe hare season dates. Your write-up states that the season lasts through February 28. In fact, it runs through March 30. Kevin Cassidy, Durham, ME The Editor responds: Kevin: It looks like we accurately listed the February 28 end date, but only for our many readers who hunt rabbits on the Island of Vinalhaven. You (and several other sharp-eyed readers) are correct that for all others, the varying hare season continues through March 30. Thank you for catching our oversight. —

Move Away from the Sandwich To the Editor: I enjoyed reading Bill Sheldon’s “Jackman Region” column in the November issue of the Maine Sportsman, “Harvesting Trophy Bucks is Goal #1 This Month,” most particularly his anecdote “Lunch Bucket Buck.” He described how he sat down to eat his sandwich under the cover of a blowdown, but then put the sandwich down as two does walked by. When a big buck followed the does a few minutes later, he picked up his trusty Model 94 lever-action, and harvested the biggest deer of his life. I got quite a chuckle from that story, and can relate most nearly. As a raised farm boy from New Jersey, I started deer hunting at the age of 16, and became addicted to the thrill and challenge, despite the fact that most of my hunting was on farmland. However, I began hunting in Maine in 1980, and continued for more than 40 years. The excitement of the big woods has never left me. I harvested the largest white-tail buck of my life in Oxford County just outside of Dixfield, in exactly the same

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scenario as Bill described. Hunting Holman Mountain, I entered the woods just at sunrise to begin my still-hunting trek. I hunted all morning, seeing only two does. Just after noontime, I decided to have my lunch of peanut butter spread onto left-over camp pancakes. While sitting on a blow-down, I suddenly heard a creak and rustling behind me, just over my left shoulder. Dropping my pancake, I slowly turned, and within a copse of mountain laurel and birch about 30 yards away, I noticed an antler protruding above the laurel. With my Model 94 in hand, I slowly rose, turned and took aim. As the buck stepped out, never noticing me, my line of sight was obstructed by a birch, so I had to wait for a clear shot, hoping the bruiser wouldn’t bolt. He didn’t. With a good grip, and gently squeezing the trigger, the hammer dropped, and so did the eight-point trophy; a clean shot just behind the left shoulder. What a thrill – one I will never forget. The buck field-dressed at 189 lbs; for me, it was stupendous. Over the decades, I have harvested other bucks, but none such as this one. His mount has (Continued on next page)

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been hanging on my office wall for over forty years. As I always believed in deer hunting – expect the unexpected! You just never know. Thank Bill Sheldon so much for his article – I enjoyed it immensely. Joe DePierro, Colts Neck, NJ The columnist responds: Joe: Thanks for your letter. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who takes time for “lunch.” It’s also good to know those Model 94 Winchesters still see plenty of action. Mine is from 1950. My father and grandmother bought it for my grandfather brand new. It’s nice when guns have a story. Thanks again for reading. Appreciate the support. Bill Sheldon —

A Climate Change Believer To the Editor: According to William Clunie’s “Western Maine Mountains” column in the December Maine Sportsman, the winter’s first hard freeze has been occurring later and later in

recent years, “due to the apparent effects of cyclical climate change.” Has the author done extensive 400-year research to come to this conclusion? If what he says is true, can we expect the oceans to cool as rapidly as they have warmed, and the icebergs to form again as quickly as they have disappeared? I, along with the polar bears, wait with ’bated breath. Brian Rose, Dewitt, NY —

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To the Editor: I understand Maine’s 2023 muzzleloader season was all over December 2 in Northern WMDs, and ran only until December 9 in southern areas of the state. You all should move to Massachusetts! Our state’s black powder/primitive arms season (including use of inline muzzleloaders) goes until the last day of December. It’s a great hunt! Mike Roche, Orange, MA

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Jack Allen of Phoenix, AZ earned his Biggest Bucks in Maine patch with this 201-lb., 10-pt. buck. Carrying his .308, Jack was hunting in Windsor on November 17, 2023 with his grandfather Doug Allen and his father John Allen. The trophy was certified at Whynot Hall Cut It, on the Weeks Mills Road in Windsor.

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The Basics of Ice Fishing In the early days of ice fishing, once anglers had made a hole in the ice, they dropped a baited hook in the water and tied the line to a small piece of brush. Then they tied a small flag to the brush, stuck the brush in a hole in the snow, and repeated the process until they had the desired number of baited hooks in the water. When a fish took the bait and pulled on it, the brush and flag wiggled a bit, signaling that the angler should check their line. All the early ice fisher needed was a few lengths of line, an ice chisel to make a hole, hooks, and bait. The drawback with

Whether you opt for simple equipment or complex modern gear, it’s important to keep ice anglers in your group warm and fed, and to ensure the outing includes an element of fun. this minimalist rig was that it was not always easy to spot when a fish took the bait, and a small fish on the line might be easy to miss. So someone figured out that a flexible spring could be rigged to fly a small flag to signal that a fish may be on. The “tip-up” rig improved the angler’s performance by giving an immediate signal that the angler should check their line right away. An alternative choice for the minimalist is to bring a folding

chair or seat and a short jigging rod, and to jig for fish rather than using tip-ups. Cold temperatures may cause ice to skim over and freeze the line, preventing it from tripping the tipup. This prompted the development of freezeproof tip-ups that allow the flag to fly even though ice has formed on the water’s surface. These freeze-proof rigs usually feature a reel that stays underwater and therefore does not freeze. Some folks refer to tip-ups as “traps,” which usage I disagree with, since there is nothing “trapped” about an active fish

on a handline. Almost anything can happen to allow that fish to escape capture. The Role of an Experienced Assistant Usually when someone calls out “Flag!” the first person to the hole gets to bring in the fish or decide on the fishing strategy. It is important that everyone understands the rule, because in many situations the best strategy is to allow the fish to run with the bait until it stops to swallow the bait and hook, and only then does the designated angler set the hook with a firm pull on the line.

If a large fish is hooked and an experienced angler is available to assist the designated angler, the assistant can be helpful by managing the slack line. This is done by making certain the loose line that’s been pulled up does not freeze to the ice’s surface, which could cause it to stick to the ice, allowing the fish to pull free from the hook if the fish makes a sudden run. Cutting a Hole in the Ice Many methods have been developed to cut holes in the ice. The ice chisel or spud was followed by a succession of other hole-making devices. The spoon-auger, which needed to be carefully honed to function well, was (Continued on next page)

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followed by the twin blade auger with replaceable cutting edges. Then came the gasoline-powered auger, heavy and noisy, but a winner on extra-thick ice or for the angler who needed a large number of holes. In recent years, propane-powered augers, and ion-battery electric drills and augers, have made inroads in the market. If you are inclined to experiment, I have used a Stihl chainsaw with some success. I start by making four overlapping plunge-cuts that get wider as the hole in the ice gets deeper. If you reverse-taper the four sided hole carefully, you can break free the center and push it down and under the surrounding ice. If you wear chainsaw chaps, you can avoid the ambulance sirens. Be sure to clear the chain of water and ice before you stop the saw and put it down, to prevent the chain from freezing. Modern Equipment An endless variety

of underwater cameras and sonar devices are available to help the angler locate a hot-spot even before tip-ups are assembled or jigging begins. However, the beginning ice-angler is cautioned against blowing a wad of money on expensive gear until they know whether the equipment will enhance their enjoyment of ice fishing. Fun and Food Ice fishing can be a pleasant family outing if everyone is comfortable, warmly dressed, and well-fed. Especially with kids, the outing must be well-planned, with alternate activities in case the fishing action is slow. No one expects gourmet meals on an outing, but a hearty stew or soup and biscuits will likely be well received. Even steamed hot dogs topped with relish, ketchup and mustard will go over big. If you have access to a good Coleman stove, you can skip the hassle of managing a campfire. Ice fishing is a time


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Ice fishing is fun for family and friends, but it also provides its share of quiet beauty. Here, the sun sets over Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, as an angler’s tip-up is baited and set on Highland Lake in hopes of hooking a brown trout. Photo: Paul Lukowski

to share the work, and strong young anglers cut holes in the ice for their friends. In ad-

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“Snapshots in Time”

Historical Glimpses from Maine’s Sporting Past Compiled by Bill Pierce, Former Executive Director, Outdoor Heritage Museum

The following is an excerpt written by Joshua Gross Rich in 1888. Rich was one of the first to regularly guide sports in the Rangeley Region. He moved his family to the old Richardson Farm on Mollychunkamunk (Upper Richardson) in the late 1840s. In this account, published in the Bethel paper, Rich reminisced about a novice angler named Joseph. It seems that despite his inexperience and poor fish-playing ability, Joseph somehow still managed to land a big brook trout in the pool below Middle Dam shortly after the first version, a log crib structure, was built around 1850. The current version of Middle Dam, which is now under repair, was completed in 1883, and it raised the water level of Richardson Lakes by approximately 11 feet. Anyone who has ever witnessed the excitement and travails of novice anglers when they first tie into a good fish, will enjoy Rich’s account, which follows:

down to the bottom of the white water as it rushed through the dam, then up and out into the air above; and Joseph puffing and blowing and holding on and singing out, “Come quick, or all shall lose him.” This was more than we could bear; we fairly roared with laughter before we could go to his assistance. This was Joseph’s first large trout; and he thought he was following out the specific directions of Mr. Thompson as he reeled him up solid. But Joseph saved his fish with the assistance

of the guide, and he doubtless remembers this and many other comical instances of his first trip to the lakes, when the only road in was an Indian trail and blazed trees. At that time, it was not much labor to get all the trout we wanted; and after cooking in various ways and eating all we could of the delicious red-meated beauties, we brought away all we could take care of; and treated our friends not only with a nice mess of trout, but also the amusing story of “reeling him up.”

Joseph’s Fish

Joseph went down upon the apron at the foot of the dam and the rest of us tried our luck above the dam. Joseph had not been there long before we heard a great outcry above the roaring of the waters a-calling for help. Climbing quickly down the dam, we discovered the cause of the alarm, for there was Joseph, crying out at the top of voice, “Come quick! I’ve got him all reeled up.” And sure enough, there he was, with a five- or six-pound trout reeled up within three feet of the end of the rod, jumping and threshing, first

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Three Minutes with a Maine Guide by Lisa DeHart,

Gear We Make Our Own The gear we make our own, is the best of any sport. You get attached to gear in anything you love in the outdoors. After all, it’s what makes what we love to do possible, so we customize it. Axe handles combed down to exactly fit your hands, a portage yoke that fits your shoulders and no one else’s, a setting pole with a mark measuring a legal trout to keep. Faded now, but my poles and paddles display the phrase, “Haunted by the water,” because before I was a mom, it’s all I thought about. Moving water, running rapids. To this day, I have as many pictures of my canoes as I do my son. In all fairness to me, however, canoes don’t hold their hand up in front to spoil the picture. When I was younger, my mom and I used to go to auctions together. There would always be an old piece of gear

Compiled and Edited by — Will Lund —

… a felt hat you could see the sweat stains on, a cook box someone had built, old knives, an old shotgun with a stock shaped for a left-handed shooter. It always struck me as bittersweet – oh, the stories that gear could tell. I love gear, not so much for what it’s made of, but where it takes me. Personally, I tend to drift to the traditional, mostly because I canoe, and weight doesn’t so much matter as does durability and reliability. Canoes take you to some pretty re-

mote places, and nine times out of 10 the only way out, is through. My gear is what I rely on to get me through. My Old Town canoe gets dragged sometimes, my canvas pack gets rained on, my two ash setting poles have gotten me down so many perilous rapids. I’m being buried with one of them; the other one goes to my son. That’s no joke. I hope when I’m gone, none of my best gear ends up in an auction, but if it does, boy, the stories that gear could tell. —

Tuna Tournament Awards Scholarships

A river guide’s life and livelihood depend on her gear. When she builds or re-engineers that gear for strength, comfort and safety, it enhances her experience and that of her customers. Photo: Chris Corey

In December, organizers of the Casco Bay Bluefin Bonanza awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to support trade and marine science educations. Tournament director Bob Humphrey presented a check for $16,000 for 16 scholarships to Maine Community Colleges president John Fitzsimmons, and (Continued on next page)


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(Continued from page 11)

an additional $25,000 to support an internship program at the University of Maine School of Marine Science. For more information on the nonprofit tuna tournament, see bluefinbonanza. org, or email —

date applies only to Vinalhaven Island. The correct statewide end date is Saturday, March 30, 2024. (See related letter, page 6.) —

December Storm Impacts Mainers Who Love the Outdoors by Lou Zambello

In mid-December, Maine faced the brunt of a powerful storm that left a lastIn the January Almanac, we stated ing impact on communities across the that the Snowshoe Hare season runs state. The storm, characterized by rethrough February 28, 2024. That statelentless rain and strong winds, triggered ment was not correct. That early end massive flooding and widespread power outages, with tens of thousands of homes left in the dark. In the aftermath, the storm’s toll became evident, as communities grappled with fallen trees, damaged infrastructure, and disrupted services. Tragically, several lives were lost. In addition, property worth millions of dollars was destroyed. The storm will also have a continuing impact on Maine’s outdoor sporting environment. Sunday River and Sugarloaf, among other ski areas, were devastated by flooding, as well as by the loss of snow in Come Visit Us at Our New Location Just 2 Doors Up! the warm weeks following the Now owned and operated by Gary Coleman, who has been doing service work for General Appliance for 35 years – nothing has changed! storm. Still Here Serving Up First-Class Customer Service! But almost anyone pur103 Center Street, Brewer, ME • (207) 989-3714 suing outdoor activities that

Correction: Rabbit Season


The Bemis Causeway Bridge was a popular fishing spot. A rampaging Bemis Stream moved the bridge into Mooselookmeguntic Lake.

require traveling back roads or trails will discover that portions of their network near streams and rivers have been obliterated by flooding water, including washed-out culverts, bridges, and paved surfaces. While local crews quickly patched the most heavily trafficked areas, more obscure washouts and deadfalls will not be discovered or remedied for months. Snowmobile clubs, cross-country ski centers, and trail networks will need to

Anglers fish the Royal River below Mill Street year around. The water was up to the top of what is ordinarily a ten-foot stone wall. Lou Zambello photo (Continued on next page)

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(Continued from page 12)

Near Stratton, Route 16 near Nash Stream was badly damaged. Photo: Bucktail Guide Service

raise money or enlist volunteers to rebuild connectivity. Hunters, trappers, and anglers will need to travel to their favorite spots. Access paths and trails may be gone or obstructed by downed timber. Hunting covers have changed because of downed trees or flooding. Trappers who checked out their gear found some traps completely buried under gravel and debris. Fishing guides and anglers will have to reconnoiter their favorite streams and rivers, because bankside paths, familiar pools, deep runs, and undercut banks have been altered or are gone. Mainers who love the outdoors will be coping with the December 18th storm for all of 2024. For more on the storm’s impact, see Randy Randall’s “Tidewater Tales” column in this issue, on page 61. —

When your watercraft takes on water from rain or waves, wouldn’t it be great to be able to get rid of that water sloshing around your feet, without having to put your paddle down and locate a separate bilge pump? Dan Dufault of Lincolnville, Maine, a former game warden, pilot, and inventor, had an idea how to solve that problem, so he designed a canoe paddle with patented valves and a telescoping aluminum shaft, which allows it to be used as a bilge pump.

The Maine-made “PaddlePump.”

Created to address the need to pump water from seaplane pontoons, the invention, called the Paddle Pump, combines two essential tools into one convenient package, (Continued on next page)


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(Continued from page 13)

providing boaters with everything they need to keep their vessels safe and dry on the water. The paddle is crafted from highstrength aluminum and recycled materials, and is made here in Maine. For more information, go to the company’s website,; email them at — Guide Talk by John LaMarca

Get ’Em Hooked!

If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s introducing young people to the excitement that is hunting, fishing and trapping. The state’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife understands the importance of getting youth involved. In furtherance of that goal, the department partners with Registered Maine Guides who volunteer their time to offer several free ice fishing events during the winter months. The events take place at various times on waters across the state, as well as during the February 17 - 18 “Free Fishing Weekend.” Participants are in-

Here, volunteer and Maine guide Jake Rackliff shows two youngsters how it’s done. Photo by the author

troduced to all the equipment necessary for ice fishing. And the guides provide the know-how necessary to get all the event-goers set up and fishing. And it’s not just for kids! These events are also a fantastic way for adults to give ice fishing a try. All anglers, young and

The author teaches a young angler how to bait the hook.



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old, will be taught by knowledgeable staff who are more than willing to show the ins and outs of the sport, from the basics to more advanced angling tactics. The state loans the traps and provides the bait – what better way to find out if ice fishing is for you, and at no cost. The event shown in the photos was held on Mousam Lake in Shapleigh. This day was beautiful and sunny, with great ice conditions. All the volunteers and MDIFW staff showed up right at daylight to set up warming tents, inspect traps, get bait, check ice conditions, and make large batches of hot chocolate to give out to participants. As the day went on, people from all walks of life came out to learn more about the sport. We had kids of all ages, and even some guests from New York City! We also hosted a group visiting Maine from their home country of Japan. We caught trout and pickerel that day, but more important than that, we could hear laughter and the sounds of games being played, echoing out across the lake. At mid-day, we could see 100 traps set, with at least that many people, all coming together to enjoy each other and – of course – the fish. Make sure to keep an eye out for these events at a body of water near you, as



by Will Lund

“Just inside the southern border of Canada’s Wood Buffalo Park, is the largest beaver dam in the world … about a half-mile long and in the shape of an arc ….” Ian Frazier, writing in Yale Environment 360, December 11, 2023. The dam remained undiscovered until the advent of satellite imagery, and its inaccessibility means only one person is known to have reached, and walked on, the dam. — “Before I even open my eyes in the morning, I often think for an hour. Today I started by wondering why hunters always hold up the deer’s head and photograph that, instead of the other end, where most of the meat is.” Robert Skoglund, The Humble Farmer, in his December 16, 2023 column in the Portland Press Herald. — “One of the major tenets of the Lacey Act is that once you kill wild

(Continued on next page)

game illegally and cross state lines with it, the offense [that would otherwise be a state offense] becomes a federal crime…. You can also be charged if you kill game illegally on federal land, or on a Native American reservation, and transport that animal out of either of those areas.” From “Every Hunter Should Know What the Lacey Act Is, How It Works, and Why It’s On the Books” by Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life — “One of the more stunning findings was in Maine, where the gender gap in license purchases was nearly even – 32 percent of women were avid license purchasers [meaning they purchased licenses 4 out of 5 years] compared to 39 percent of men over the same period. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has developed innovative messaging and programs for women.” Mark Damian Duda, “New Study Sheds Light on Women’s Participation in Hunting and Shooting,” NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum, June 8, 2023

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 15 (Continued from page 14)

they are regular occurrences and are hosted in multiple locations across Maine. I hope to see you on the hard water, and I’m looking forward to yelling out “FLAG!” with you! —

Poaching Could Really Cost You! A hunter in Ohio is under investigation after posting photos of himself with a massive, record-setting buck. As described in this month’s editorial (page 4), although the hunter claims he took the trophy during the day, all photos show it as being nighttime. And although he says he shot the deer on his sister’s property, some allege it came from property on which the hunter had not received permission to pursue deer. According to Outdoor Life magazine, if the allegations are proven and the hunter is determined to have taken the trophy illegally, the state has a special penalty in store: “According to Section 1531.201 of the Ohio Revised Code, anyone found guilty of illegally taking a deer over 125 inches gross score shall be ordered to pay a special restitution fee in addition to any [other] restitution value …. This additional fine is calculated using the following formula: (gross score – 100)² x $1.65. Should state law enforcement officials find the buck’s widely-reported gross [in excess of 200 inches] to be accurate, [the hunter] could receive an additional fine of $30,462.33 if convicted.” —

DIF&W Simplifies North Zone Bass Management According to the state’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, beginning on January 1, 2024 all waters containing bass in the North Zone will be managed under General Law regulations of “No size or bag limit.”

The state reports the purpose of this change is to clarify that bass are managed as an invasive species in the North Zone, and are not provided protective regulations that would “promote, popularize, or enhance

their sportfish value in this part of the state.” — Wilderness First Aid by Stacey Wheeler, RN, BSN

Nature’s Medicine Before pharmaceuticals, people treated ailments with medicinal herbs. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the use of more natural products, including medicine, and according to the University of New England, 1 in 5 Mainers use medicinal herbs as part of their health regimen. Our state is home to 18 plants that have been used as medicine since the days of the Indigenous Peoples. These plants include St. John’s Wort, Holy Basil, and Cranberry, and while their medicinal use is not FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recognized, their benefits are widely known and have been helping relieve symptoms from the common cold to arthritis, for thousands of years.

February 2024 Sunrise/Sunset Bangor, ME DATE RISE SET 6:52 4:44 1 Thu 2 Fri 6:51 4:45 3 Sat 6:50 4:47 4 Sun 6:49 4:48 5 Mon 6:48 4:49 6 Tue 6:46 4:51 7 Wed 6:45 4:52 8 Thu 6:44 4:54 9 Fri 6:42 4:55 10 Sat 6:41 4:57 11 Sun 6:40 4:58 12 Mon 6:38 4:59 13 Tue 6:37 5:01 14 Wed 6:35 5:02 15 Thu 6:34 5:04

February 2024 Tides Portland, ME DATE

St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum, also know as goat weed, is native to Maine and is believed by many to alleviate symptoms of depression.

There are many resources in Maine for these native plants and their medicinal properties, including naturopathic doctors, herbalists, natural food stores, and Maine farms that specialize in herbal medicine. The use of natural medicine continues to grow in Maine, with patients reaping the benefits. According to the National Center for Disease Control, 60% of Americans take at least one prescription drug. With this in mind, it is important to discuss with your doctor any potential interactions that could occur before starting any herbal medicine. This winter, take time to research some of these medicinal plants and their benefits.

DATE RISE SET 16 Fri 6:32 5:05 17 Sat 6:31 5:06 18 Sun 6:29 5:08 19 Mon 6:28 5:09 20 Tue 6:26 5:11 21 Wed 6:24 5:12 22 Thu 6:23 5:13 23 Fri 6:21 5:15 24 Sat 6:20 5:16 25 Sun 6:18 5:17 26 Mon 6:16 5:19 27 Tue 6:14 5:20 28 Wed 6:13 5:21 29 Thu 6:11 5:23

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu

HIGH AM PM 3:00 3:21 3:42 4:10 4:29 5:06 5:21 6:07 6:20 7:12 7:22 8:12 8:20 9:07 9:15 9:58 10:07 10:47 10:59 11:35 11:50 — 12:23 12:40 1:11 1:32 2:00 2:27 2:53 3:26 3:49 4:30 4:50 5:37 5:55 6:47 7:03 7:53 8:05 8:50 9:00 9:39 9:47 10:22 10:30 11:00 11:08 11:35 11:43 — 12:07 12:17 12:38 12:51 1:08 1:25 1:39 2:03

LOW AM PM 9:11 9:24 10:00 10:10 10:53 11:01 11:52 11:58 — 12:56 1:00 1:57 2:00 2:53 2:56 3:44 3:49 4:33 4:42 5:21 5:34 6:08 6:25 6:55 7:18 7:44 8:13 8:34 9:11 9:29 10:13 10:28 11:20 11:32 — 12:30 12:41 1:39 1:48 2:38 2:45 3:29 3:33 4:12 4:17 4:51 4:56 5:25 5:32 5:56 6:06 6:26 6:40 6:56 7:15 7:28 7:52 8:03

16 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Maine Wildlife:

Blue Jay

by Tom Seymour

Bullies. Nuisances. That’s what most people think of blue jays. My opinion differs. I view blue jays as highly intelligent, adaptable, social creatures. Indefatigable, blue jays are. If a jay sets its sights on your black-oil sunflower seed feeder, no matter what you do, that jay is going to rob your feeder. Squirrels you might deter, at least for a while, but blue jays will have their way no matter what. Jays often descend upon the feeder outside my office window. Sometimes it’s a group of up to a half-dozen, and sometimes a lone individual lands on the feeder. I sit inside, watching out the window, yelling “Hey!” and tapping on the windowpane with a pencil. This drives the bird away, but only for a minute or two. Keeping the bird or birds at bay requires constant attention and great diligence, and I just can’t waste my days driving blue jays away. So in the end, the jays have their way. However, being social creatures, a group of jays will leave a feeder, suddenly, for no apparent reason. Well, certainly there is a reason, but oftentimes it’s one that only the jays themselves can fathom. Individual Perspective It’s a universal question. What makes a thing desirable and attractive, and something else valueless and offensive? There is no set answer. Something’s value depends upon how we view it. Consider the things we surround ourselves with each day. One person’s favorite music stands as loathsome to another. How about art? A painting in one person’s eye may rate as a masterpiece, while to someone else, it is only an eyesore. And so it is with most everything, including birds. If we view a bird or other animal without prejudice, we can more fully appreciate its inherent value and beauty. And that’s the way it is with blue jays. Regarding how we perceive the birds and animals living all around us, consider the bald eagle. People sometimes travel many miles to view

The author likes blue jays. He likes them even better than bald eagles. “If we view a bird or other animal swithout prejudice,” he says, “we can more fully appreciate its inherent value and beauty.” gles. We apply descriptive terms such as “majestic,” to eagles, mostly based upon their large size and great wingspan. Eagles are our national symbol, and they are said to denote strength, power, honor and steadfastness. Well, eagles are strong and have great power, but that’s about it. Perhaps those who idolize bald eagles have never watched one swoop down and snatch a just-caught fish from an osprey’s talons. Eagles are robbers, who often steal other birds’ prey. Also, eagles are carrion eaters, feasting upon dead carcasses, no different from vultures, which many people find disgusting. So it’s really all in how you look at it. As far as charm and beauty, I find blue jays far ahead of bald eagles. Again, remove all prejudices and take another look. You may discover a newfound respect for blue jays. Interesting Family Among their other traits, blue jays are personable. Individuals differ greatly in actions, and every so often you find one particular blue jay that you can’t help but take a liking to. And that’s no wonder, since blue jays belong in the family Corvidae, which also includes crows, ravens and gray jays, all of which are highly intelligent and have winning ways about them. Blue jays live throughout Maine, and are equally at home in rural areas, around farmland and wooded islands, as they are in suburban backyards and urban parks. So you see, no matter

where you go in Maine, you are likely to encounter blue jays. Blue jays are problem-solvers, a trait that contributes to their continued survival. They are also tricksters. Blue jays can mimic the calls of red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks, and they use this ability to scare other songbirds away from feeders. Blue jays produce other sounds, too, including a single “Jay” sound and a metallic-sounding (according to Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds) “queedle, queedle.” It is that latter, double-parted call that intrigues me, because it represents an economy of sounds that can mean many different things. I love waking up on a cold, winter morning and hearing the “queedle, queedle” of distant blue jays. This tells me that the natural world is waking up and the blue jay’s call stands as its alarm clock. Their call can also mean nothing more than an announcement that, “Here we are!” Hunter’s Bane Every deer hunter has pondered in his mind the question of how to stop blue jays from announcing his presence. Blue jays act as self-proclaimed woodland sentries, setting off alarms when any new creatures, including hunters, moves into an area. I can think of nothing more frustrating than hearing a deer coming along, and then having a bunch of blue jays begin hollering, scaring off the deer and negating my opportunity to score. So like them or not, blue jays are an integral part of Maine’s outdoor scene.

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 17

Boating Safety Compliance by Bob Humphrey Heading offshore is my escape and respite – a chance to enjoy peace and relative solitude on the water. But at the end of the day I have to come back in and run the gauntlet of boaters unfamiliar with – or dismissive of – common courtesy and the rules of the road.

“You have to take a test to get a driver’s license! Shouldn’t it be the same for boaters?” is a common lament among experienced operators. Starting this year, it is. A boater safety course is now required in Maine, at least for those born on or after January 1, 1999,

operating a motorboat of 25 horsepower or greater. Whether you’re exempt, or if you will have to take the test and want to start at the head of the class, it can be beneficial to you and those with whom you share the water to familiarize yourself with some of the more common

compliance issues, a few of which even experienced boaters may be surprised to learn. PFDs Most boaters are (or should be) aware that wearable personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life jackets are required for all watercraft. What you may not know is that

the requirement applies to canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, not to mention water skis, wakeboards and tubes when towed. Furthermore, watercraft over 16 feet must also have a “throwable” device, such as a seat cushion or life ring. PFDs must (Continued on next page)

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18 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Boating (Continued from page 17)

Lighting When operating between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility, power-driven watercraft less than 40 feet, as well as sailboats, must display red (port) and green (starboard) lights visible up to at least 1 mile away, and an allaround (360-degree) white light visible up to at least 2 miles away that’s placed as nearly as practical at the stern. Manuallypropelled watercraft must have a lantern or flashlight ready at hand, and if operating at night or in poor vis-

ibility, the light should be turned on. Coastal kayakers must be particularly careful when paddling in fog or darkness, since their craft present a small, low profile, visually and even on radar. Serious outcomes can result if a 40-foot lobster boat tending traps fails to see a kayak in pea soup fog because the operator is not displaying a light. Registration Motorboats need a Maine registration. You would think it goes without saying, but lack of proper registration is a common compliance issue. Vessels must display the registration numbers and validation sticker. Those numbers must be painted or applied to both sides of the bow, to be read from left to right, in 3-inch block letters, with a blank space be-

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Safe Operation Under the law, watercraft must be operated in a safe and prudent manner. But what exactly does that mean? It means you can’t operate “in a manner that recklessly creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person” or “... that endangers any person or property.” The details are left to the warden’s discretion, but it’s largely common sense. If you


be USCG-approved, in good and serviceable condition and readily accessible (not locked away belowdecks). The specific type of PFD required may vary by watercraft, but inflatables must be worn to count.

tween numbers and letters. The sticker must be affixed 3 inches to the right and directly in line with the registration numbers. Furthermore, powered watercraft operating in fresh water must display an Invasive Plant sticker. And the registration certificate must be onboard and available for inspection. I’d bet many – if not most – vessels don’t meet all these requirements to the letter.

The wake from a passing vessel can wreak havoc on rafted boats, no matter how big or small they are. Photo by the author

think you might be out of line, you likely are. Furthermore, watercraft should not be operated in an imprudent manner. That covers a lot of water, but includes things like prolonged circling, racing, wake jumping or just about anything

else that might harass another individual on the water. That also includes simply creating a wake. You may be operating legally and at a prudent speed in an area with no speed restrictions, but (Boating continued on page 20)

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�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 19

Winter Projects It’s the dead of winter, and the closest you’re likely to get to saltwater fishing is the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show in Augusta in April, or an outdoor television show, unless you travel to some place warm. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about ocean fishing. When the snow is piling up and it’s too cold even to ice fish, break out your tackle and get it tuned up, because I’m betting you didn’t do it last fall when you switched over from fishing to hunting season. Rods In general, you shouldn’t have to do too much with your rods. Give them a good flex to make sure they’re sound. Next, inspect the guides for wear and any thread wrapping breakage. Remove any dirt, salt or corrosion. Spray them with WD40, then give a quick polish with a strip of leather. You’ll need to be a bit more meticulous with all of the above if you have roller guides. Make sure the guides are clean, and that the bearings are in good working order.

Now’s the time to inspect, service and restock your saltwater fishing gear, says the author. You’ve got the opportunity; local tackle shops have the inventory; and it will help you pass the time while you’re waiting for the spring season to begin.

Line is cheap, and you should replace at least the working portion of your line every year.

type of line, how much you use it, and what you use it for. The general recommendation is to replace the line at least once a year. If you use it a lot, on larger fish, replace it more often. Yes, it requires a little time and effort, but line is relatively inexpensive compared to what you spend on

rods and reels, boats and motors, and time on the water. In short, it’s your own fault if you lose that personal best bass or a big bluefin because you scrimped on string.

you’ll recognize a world of difference if you apply a little drag, especially with braid. You want the line to go on tightly. Loose line can result in loops and overlaps that will foul

and knot. Now for the reel itself. At the very least, give it a good cleaning and lubricate all moving parts. The more thorough, DIY types may want to remove covers and caps to ensure gears and other internal moving parts are in good shape and adequately lubricated. Bearing grease designed for reels is your best option, but petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is a suitable substitute. A good internal inspection will also show if you need to replace any worn washers or gaskets. If you’re uncomfortable with any of these steps, take the reel into a shop to be serviced, and do it right now! Don’t wait until a week before you plan to go fishing. Pro Tip #2: Save Your Manual – Any good reel will come with a manual that includes a parts list and diagram. Save it. The list will come in handy (Continued on next page)

Pro Tip #1: Spooling Reels – When spooling or re-spooling a reel with new line,

Reels Reels require a bit more attention, and we’ll begin with their contents – the fish line on the spool. How often you should replace your line will depend to some extent on the

20 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Saltwater Fishing (Continued from page 19) should you need to order replacement parts. You may also find the


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possibilities of what might need to be done. Let’s start with hooks. If they’re rusty, broken or dull, replace them. The same goes for split rings, which is why a good pair of split ring pliers will come in handy. Now go back and check all your hooks for sharpness, and if they show the slightest sign of dulling, put a point on them with a file or hook sharpener. Dull hooks lose fish. Inspect plugs, especially eyelets and lips for wear or damage, then repair if you can and replace if you can’t. Pro Tip #3: Change Hooks – This one applies mostly to those who fish for stripers and groundfish. Replace those treble hooks with single hooks. Yeah, you might miss a few strikes, but you’ll miss far more when trying to remove 2 or 3 treble hooks from a single fish.

Re-Stock While doing all this, take stock of what you have, what you’re short on, and what you’re out of. Again, do it now, while supply is high and demand is low. Big box stores may switch out seasonal inventory, but local tackle shops typically don’t, and without the mad pre-season rush, their shelves should be well stocked. They’ll also be ordering new stuff for next season, so you might find some sales and discounts, especially on discontinued items. Don’t buy your tackle at a yard sale or a local swap site. If you buy new and take care of it, you won’t need as much. If it’s old, worn out or in need of more TLC than you care to administer, throw it away, give it away or sell it at your own yard sale, because as P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”


(Continued from page 18)

the operator is still responsible for any consequences of their wake on other watercraft and their occupants as well as piers, floats or other property. You also cannot operate watercraft at greater than headway speed within 200 feet of any shoreline (including islands) or within a marina or anchorage. After safety comes courtesy. It may be legal, but if what you’re doing negatively affects others on the water, maybe you shouldn’t do it. Put yourself in their place. When anchored in a quiet cove, would you want to be jostled about the boat by a wake? When you wake up on the waterfront, would you rather be serenaded by loons, or subjected to blaring music and foul language? Follow the rules, and then go the extra step to ensure everyone has a good time on the water. Bob Humphrey is a U.S.C.G. licensed captain and a registered Maine guide with tidewater authorization.

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 21

Ice Fishing Derbies: A Closer Look Behind the Scenes by Blaine Cardilli

Of all the winter sports, none gets this writer more amped up than ice fishing, especially when it’s derby time! A common scenario for us is to hit the ice just before dawn and start setting up, which means getting the shack hauled out to the area we want to fish, firing up the wood stove, and starting to drill holes. And we’ll usually stay out the entire day (1011 hours), since we all enjoy being outside. Because folks get hungry, we cook meals throughout the day, and you can bet there’ll be wild game sizzling in the cast iron, along with a good supply of beans, eggs,

Think it’s easy to plan, organize and supervise an ice fishing derby? Three experts reveal the challenges, and rewards, of running a successful show on ice.

While some derby contestants are intensively competitive, others, like this family group, view the event as an opportunity to get together for fun fishing and socializing. Photo: Blaine Cardilli

bacon, and whatever else we brought along. No, sir – nothing

beats a day on the ice anticipating what’s on the end of that line ev-

ery time a flag goes up. But what exactly does it take to plan and run

an ice fishing derby? Steve Carpenteri started the conversation in his January special section, “The Challenges of Organizing an Ice Fishing Derby,” which focused on Northern Maine’s Long Lake Derby. I sought out answers from folks who run contests on the Belgrade Lakes, Moosehead, and Cobbosseecontee, and they supplemented the information presented last month by providing details and specifics based on their own experiences producing ice-fishing derbies. Oakland’s “Kids-Only” Event For 35 years, Eric (Continued on next page)

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22 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Ice Fishing (Continued from page 21)

Seekins, who helps organize derbies around the Belgrades, has run what he believes was the first “kids only” event. It’s held in early February, is sponsored by the town of Oakland, and is held on various water bodies in Oakland, Sidney and Belgrade. He prefers to call it an “event” rather than a derby, because every kid comes out a winner, fish or no fish. Yes, they give out prizes for largest fish, but Eric says that even if someone doesn’t catch a fish, they may still walk away with some of the best donated merchandise, because he considers it very important to reward

the youngsters’ efforts, not just the outcomes. Eric says that preparing for such an event takes a great deal of work and many dedicated volunteers, because lots of sponsors need to be contacted, and many prizes must be donated. In the end he says it’s definitely worth it, especially when the volunteers share the same passion and focus. Moosehead We next spoke with Brittany Gould, who works in conjunction with the Greenville Fire Department Association. The association organizes a big derby on Moosehead Lake in early March.

— 2,500 Sq. Ft. of Sporting Goods —

186 Sabattus Road, Sabattus, ME • (207) 375-6253 2 Miles Off I-95 Exit 86 Family Owned & Operated

Little Tim’s 8th Annual

ICE FISHING DERBY Proceeds to Camp Postcard / Volunteers of America

March 2, 2024 Worthley Pond • Peru, ME 5:30AM–2:30PM


Registration: 17 & Under $7 • 18 & Older $10 FMI (207) 357-3469

Many Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Each year, Eric Seekins, director of Oakland’s Recreation Department, organizes the “Kids-Only Ice Fishing Frenzy,” which attracts several hundred young anglers. Photo: Meg Robbins, Morning Sentinel

Brittany reported that the application to the state for permission to run a winter fishing derby can be submitted after September 1st for the following winter. Working in collaboration with local biologists, the state also helps determine what species of fish will be the best target for derby participants. Once the application has been submitted, organizers must turn their attention to advertising, ordering

tickets, selling tickets, and ordering all gifts and prizes, as well as ensuring there are enough volunteers to staff all stages of the event. Cobbossee We also spoke with Shay Freeman. She, together with Jason Everett and Kyle Armstrong, have been responsible for producing the Cobbossee Ice Fishing Derby for the past four years. The derby takes place in the Winthrop/Monmouth region.

Norris Bennett Memorial Scholarship Fund

ICE FISHING DERBY Presented by Lovell Lions Club

FEBRUARY 11, 2024 5:30AM–4:00PM • Registration Fee $25 Pleasant Point Road, Pleasant Point, Center Lovell, ME BIGGEST TOGUE, KEZAR LAKE ONLY 1st $1,500 • 2nd $500 • 3rd $300 • 4th $100 • 5th $100 • All Winners Must Be Present to Win • Age 15 & Under Biggest Any Fish 1st $100 • 2nd $50 • 3rd $20 • Raffle Prizes Given Out at 4:00PM or Shortly After • Door Prizes Drawn Throughout the Day! • A Purchased Ticket is Your Registration or Register at the Table Located at Pleasant Point Town Beach, Center Lovell, ME • All with a Purchased Derby Ticket are Eligible for Door Prizes • Kids Casting Contest at 11:30AM – Prizes for All • Food Booth Available • Plenty of Parking Available • No Taking of Salmon Allowed per MDIF&W — Get Your Bait at Jeff’s Bait Shop, Main Street, Lovell, ME (207) 925-1330 • Open at 5:00AM Saturday & Sunday — For More Info Call Colin Micklon (207) 925-1075, Bryan Molloy (207) 925-1700, Bob Danforth (207) 440-1486, or John Bacchiocchi (207) 925-3045 Tickets Available Online – See the Lovell Lions Facebook Page

Shay said it takes months of preparation, as there are many meetings to attend. The necessary permit must be obtained from the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. A dedicated core group of folks put in countless hours soliciting sponsorships and prizes from area businesses and individuals. Once everything’s in place, the organizers prepare for the actual derby day. Fraud Happens Each derby organizer with whom we spoke said there are specific rules in place that govern activity at their contests, and that all participants must abide by those rules. Most rely on the honor system when it comes to submitting fish, but allegations of cheating have arisen from time to time. Eric Seekins mentioned two such incidents. In one case, a five-yearold girl had her fish stolen at an event. In a separate occurrence, an eight-year-old boy (Continued on next page)

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 23

Trophy Gallery

(Continued from page 22)

was cheated out of a big prize when another angler submitted a larger fish. Trouble was, judges later confirmed that the “winning” fish had been caught several days prior to the event. Brittany Gould said they once caught a guy who had put a weight down the fish’s mouth. However, organizers have a device to check for such fraud. The angler’s tactic was quickly discovered, and he was dismissed from the derby. The unfortunate truth is that when substantial prizes are offered, some contestants break the rules in an attempt to win. All three organizers with whom we talked said that game wardens and biologists are present on the lakes to make sure everything goes well, and that there are calibrated scales at each weigh station to see that all fish are weighed properly. Appreciation We at the Sportsman wish to express our appreciation to the derby organizers who took the time to talk with us and to share what’s involved in running an ice fishing derby or event. There’s certainly a lot more to it than meets the eye, and we applaud the dedication and efforts of those involved in making ice fishing derbies fun, continuing traditions during Maine’s long, cold winter months.

Calyn Moody, a Maine Sportsman subscriber, was hunting with her .308 on November 2, 2023 in her hometown of Nobleboro, when she tagged this huge 203-lb, 10-pt. buck.

Maine Sportsman subscriber Jason Tibbetts of Mercer used his .270 while hunting in his hometown to bag this 223-lb., 8-pt. buck. The weight was certified by the folks at Christy’s Store, on the Mercer Road (Route 2).


FEB. 10–25 2024



Ice or Open Fresh Water in ME, NH, VT, MA, CT or RI Fundraiser for the Homeless Shelters of New England

Weigh-in located at Keoka beach in the Waterford flat at 3:00 p.m.

TICKETS $10 PER CHILD 18 & UNDER WITH $40 FAMILY CAP Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be purchased at the weigh in at Keoka beach the morning of until 10:00 A.M. Tickets available at the Waterford Town Office and from any lodge member of Mt. Tir’em lodge.

Trophies & Cash Prizes for the Longest Fish, the Heaviest Fish, the Smallest Legal Fish (bait not included) & THE PICKEREL PICK OFF! State law has a max of 10 pickerel per day. Head count will be first, combined weight, then combined length will be the tie breakers if needed.

Entry Fee: $100 Before Feb. 1st OR $150 After To enter, scan the QR code or go to



10 LONGEST OVERALL FISH Any Lake Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Pickerel, Cusk, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch.

Other prizes available to win at the weigh-in including a fishing gear prize! Your ticket stub at the weigh-in enters you into the prize raffles!

1st Place $5,000

6th Place $1,400

2nd Place $3,000

7th Place $1,300

3rd Place $2,000

8th Place $1,200

HOT COCOA & FOOD FOR SALE FROM 12PM–3PM Questions? Or want tickets but need other arrangements? Email

4th Place $1,600

9th Place $1,100

5th Place $1,500

10th Place $1,000


Longest Lake Trout $1,000 Longest Brown Trout $1,000 Longest Rainbow Trout $1,000 Longest Pickerel $1,000 Longest Cusk $1,000 Longest Yellow Perch $1,000 Longest Brook Trout $1,000 *Yellow Perch, Brook Trout 14” Min.*


All proceeds are 50/50 between the Harrison/Waterford P.T.O. and our building restoration goals!

Hosted by Gilman Bait Co. (802) 500-7906


Operation Reboot Outdoors:


ELLIS POND ICE FISHING DERBY Saturday, March 9, 2024 • 6AM–3PM Ellis Pond (Roxbury Pond-Silver Lake) • Roxbury, ME $20 Entry Fee Cash Prizes • Door Prizes • Raffles • Kids Only Categories Best Derby Food & Coffee in the State!






Go to to purchase tickets. Winner will be drawn March 9, 2024. Winner does not have to be present to win.

24 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Sebago Lake Rotary’s Ice Fishing Derby 23rd Year! 26 Lakes & Ponds February 17 & 18, 2024

Website Live January 1, 2024

Prizes over $10,000! Visit our website to register and learn more!

The Maine Sportsman





559 Minot Avenue • 207-783-0388 Complete Line of Ice Fishing Supplies



32 Gilpin Road, Orland, ME 04472 207-299-7658

Open 7 Days

275 Main Street • Jay, ME Ice Fishing Supplies – Jet Sleds LIVE BAIT (207) 500-2327




Smelt • Shiners • Suckers • Tommy Cod • Worms



Shiners • Dace • Wood Bundles W/A Fish Cutting & Filleting Boards • Fish Guiding Tours FFF Program - Swap Bait 4 Some Fish Potential Angler Derby 1st Weekend in February – Call for Info 333 DINGLEY RD, BOWDOINHAM • 207-798-0834 • OPEN FRI–SUN


Open Daily • 6 Gage St. Shiners, worms, all kinds of tackle, traps, augers, jiging equipment

207-647-8100 CHESTERVILLE

BACKWOODS BAIT & TACKLE 307 Vienna Road, Chesterville • (207) 468-0055

Smelts, Shiners, Suckers, Eastern Silver Minnows, Tommy Cods, Worms, Crawlers, Ice Fishing Supplies Mon-Thu 5am–7pm, Fri 5am–8pm, Sat 4am–7pm, Sun 4am–4pm

CROSS LAKE TWP ST. PETER’S COUNTRY STORE 3580 Caribou Road • 207-834-5625


SMELTS • SHINERS • OXYGEN & BAGS Call Ahead for Big Orders


274 West Broadway • 207-403-8000

Shot Guns • Rifles • Pistols • Ammo Smelts • Suckers • Shiners • Worms • Ice Tackle Open Mon-Thu 9AM-6PM • Fri 6AM–6PM • Sat 6AM–4PM

Shiners • Smelts • Suckers 1148 Wiscasset Road — Wild Things Bait Shop (Taken Over by Tony’s Bait) 5 Pleasant Street, Oakland, ME — 207-588-6038 or 207-458-0246









SHINERS • SUCKERS • SMELTS SMELTS - SHINERS - SUCKERS 124 Eastern Cut Off Road, Princeton, ME Tackle, Augers, Sleds (207) 214-8641 469 Lakewood Road (Rt. 201), Madison, ME Open Mon–Sat 6AM–5PM & Sun 6AM–10AM 207-424-2556

Ice Fishing Outfitters Smelts • Shiners • Pike Bait

Open 6AM 7 Days • 151 Ridge Rd, Monmouth, ME

Shiners • Suckers • Smelts Worms & Crawlers Open Daily • Walk-In Brian Scott 207-534-2261

207-933-9499 •

Resident & Non-Resident Licenses - Snowmobile Registrations





94 Old County Road • (207) 852-7397 LIVE BAIT • OPEN 24/7

SMELTS • SHINERS • SUCKERS • WORMS • CRAWLERS Heritage Traps & Parts • Augers • Sleds • Tackle RENTALS: Insulated Ice Tents, Heaters, Augers, Traps, Sleds – Rent Individually or as a Package

(Taken Over by Tony’s Bait) Shiners • Smelts • Suckers • Crawlers Sun–Tue 5:30AM–Noon, Wed–Sat 5:30AM–5:30PM 1 Pleasant Street 207-458-0246 or 207-716-1494

Smelts, Shiners, Suckers, Cut-Bait Suckers, 5-6” Suckers, Dace, Fat Heads, Worms, Crawlers OFFERING AIR & BAGGED BAIT UPON REQUEST






— Moosehead Lake — Smelt • Shiners • Suckers 58 Moosehead Lake Road (207) 349-0366

Complete Line of Ice Fishing Tackle SMELTS • SHINERS • SUCKERS • WORMS • CRAWLERS Packed in oxygen-filled bags for travel Bait Shop Open 5am Thurs, Fri Sat 1/2 Mi. East from I-95 Exit 197 • 207-827-7032


- Ice Fishing Supplies & Tackle 483 Roosevelt Trail, Rt. 302 207-894-7141 • Open 7 Days Reserve Your Bait Online at



ALL YOUR ICE FISHING NEEDS! Fishing Tackle, Smelts, Shiners, Crawlers Open Mon-Wed: 7-6, Thurs-Sat: 7-7, Sun. 9 - 5

Smelts, Shiners, Suckers, Crawlers Open Sun–Wed 5AM–12PM, Thu–Sat 5AM–6PM Retail 207-485-8574 Wholesale 207-557-4308 8 Little Cobbossee Avenue, Winthrop, ME




�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 25

Snowmobile Rental – Pros and Cons by Steve Carpenteri

Maine’s winter visitors are a diverse bunch. Some seek the unique thrills of ice-fishing, while others look to the slopes and trails for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, “fat” cycling, sledding, tubing and tobogganing. These are great ways to spend a week

Want to learn about the fun of snowmobiling without the commitment of ownership? Renting a machine may be just the ticket! or a weekend in the North Country, with many thousands of eager cold-weather recreationists participating in – and even specializing in – one or

more of these popular pursuits. Eventually, many Maine winter enthusiasts – whether they are residents or non-residents – look

into the exciting world of snowmobiling. Lured to the sport by the state’s wide-open spaces, pristine scenery and thousands of miles of well-groomed

trails, the logical next step is picking out the best snow machine for the job. There are racing, touring and hauling machines designed to make traveling over the snow as safe and efficient as possible, and there is no doubt that there’s a sled out there that exactly fits (Continued on next page)

Visit Your Local Ski-Doo Dealer for Current Offers!


Discover it. Share it. Repeat.

AUBURN LINCOLN Wallingford Equipment Lincoln Power Sports - Access Auto 2527 Turner Road 265 West Broadway 207-782-4886 207-794-8100 AUGUSTA North Country Ski-doo 3099 N. Belfast Ave. 207-622-7994

LEEDS Reggie’s Kawasaki Ski-doo 255 US Hwy 202 207-933-4976

DETROIT Huff Powersports 284 North Road 207-487-3338

WILTON Mountain Side Powersports 912 US Route 2 East 207-645-2985

GREENVILLE JUNCTION Moosehead Motorsports 13 Industrial Park 207-695-2020

WINDHAM Richardson’s Boat Yard 850 Roosevelt Tr, Rt 302 207-892-9664

JACKMAN Jackman Power Sports 549 Main Street 207-668-4442 ©2023 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. Products in the United States (US) are distributed by BRP US Inc. Always ride responsibly and safely and wear appropriate clothing, including a helmet. Please observe applicable laws and regulations. Remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. See your authorized BRP dealer for details and visit

26 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Snowmobiling (Continued from page 25)

each rider’s needs.

For occasional riders, or those who are evaluating which style of sled best suits their needs, renting from one of Maine’s certified rental agencies is a prudent option. Photo: Maine Snowmobile Association;

Financial Reality Ah, but then comes the cost of making your snowmobiling dream come true. A quality, proven snowmobile manufacturer may set MSRPs at $8,000 or more for basic units, and specialty machines designed for off-trail riding or racing can cost considerably more. For the family that is primarily interested in a day or weekend of riding around the local lake or cruising across the ice, the price of buying, owning and maintaining two, three or four machines may not be cost-effective. Plus, machines that are not used on a regular basis tend to have maintenance issues – these devices are not designed to languish in storage for months at a time between uses.

The Rental Option The next logical step in the process is to consider renting a snowmobile. The advantages to short-term rental are many, and make perfect sense for visitors and vacationers who want to experience the fun and adventure of snowmobiling in Maine without the responsibilities that come with ownership. For those who are attracted to the comeride-go approach, there are options to consider. For starters, anyone interested in renting a snowmobile while in Maine is advised to contact one of the agencies certified by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and listed on their website (www.mefishwildlife. com). (Continued on next page)

Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX-SE The Sidewinder L‑TX SE has all the trail performance and capabilities found in our LE models but at a lower price point. The ARCS front suspension with Fox® RC adjustable shocks leads the charge with longer, lightweight forged spindles and optimized geometry. A 137” Ripsaw II track wrapped around the free‑arm, coupled SRV rear suspension with HPG shocks hooks up the industry’s most powerful engine. The race bred chassis holds you forward, at the ready to meet anything the trail throws your way.

See Your Local Yamaha Snowmobile Dealer for the Latest Promotions!

SKOWHEGAN Whittemore & Sons 257 Waterville Road • 207-474-2591 Always wear an approved helmet and eye protection. Observe all state and local laws. Respect the rights of others. Ride within your capabilities. Allow extra time and plenty of distance for maneuvering. Do not perform stunts. © 2024 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved.

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 27 (Continued from page 26)

Certified dealers have registered with the state, and have agreed to provide instruction – and a safety booklet – to riders. Currently, there are 15 approved rental agencies in Maine where visiting snowmobilers can find a machine to ride on relatively short notice. These agents are located throughout the northern and northwestern portions of the state, where good snow cover is expected every winter. This means riders can plan a snowmobiling trip a year or more in advance, and arrive in Maine with a good chance of encountering well-groomed trails near and surrounding their vacation destinations. Certified rental agents are listed below: 201 Power Sports 29 Main Street Bingham, ME 207-672-3773 Dockside Sports PO Box 1006 Rangeley, ME 207-864-2424 Flagstaff Rentals PO Box 512 Stratton, ME 207-246-4276 Houlton Power Sports 381 North Street RT 1 Houlton, ME 207-532-4381 John Raymond 228 Lombard Road Caribou, ME 207-227-1045 Maine Outdoor Sports 1008 US Rt 201 Caratunk, ME 855-528-3441 Moosehead Sled Repair & Rental 4008 Rockwood Road Rockwood, ME 207-534-2261

North Country Rivers PO Box 633 Bingham, ME 800-348-8871 Northwoods Outfitters 5 Lily Bay Road Greenville 207-695-3288 Old Mill Marina 23 Furlong Road Eagle Lake 207-444-7529 Shin Pond Village 1488 Shin Pond Road Mount Chase 207-528-2900 The Birches Resort 281 Birches Road Rockwood 207-534-7305 Twin Pines Rentals Po Box 669 Millinocket, ME 1-800-766-7238 Washburn Trailside 1094 Washburn Road Washburn, ME 207-227-1316 Winter Fun Inc. 532 Main Street Fryeburg, ME 207-935-1220 What’s the Process? Most of Maine’s snowmobile rental agencies require riders to be 18 years of age. Passenger age minimums vary among companies. Most rental companies offer self-guided tours using built-in navigation systems. Some also offer guided trips. Nearly every rental agency in Maine recommends that potential snowmobile renters contact them weeks, even months, before their scheduled trip. Snowmobile availability varies from site to site and from month to month, and of course weekends and holidays generate the most activity. Keep in mind, too, that a valid driver’s license (Continued on next page)

REDIFINING TRAIL PERFORMANCE INDY VR1 • Ferocious Acceleration • Effortless Control in Any Condition • The Most Advanced Technology on Snow

— See Your Polaris Dealer for Current Promotions Today! — JACKMAN Jackman Power Sports 549 Main Street 207-668-4442

GORHAM, NH MOMS Jericho 461 Main St. 603-466-5454

LEWISTON Central Maine Powersports 845 Main Street 207-689-2345 Polaris recommends that all riders take a safety training course. Do not attempt maneuvers beyond your capability. Always wear a helmet and other safety apparel. Read, understand and follow your owner’s manual. Never drink and ride. Polaris is a registered trademark of Polaris Industries Inc. © 2024 Polaris Industries Inc.

EXPLORE MORE. ACHIEVE MORE. — Visit Your Local Arctic Cat Dealer for Current Promotions — GORHAM White Rock Outboard 351 Sebago Lake Road 207-892-9606

SIDNEY Kramer’s Inc. 2400 West River Road 207-547-3345

LEBANON Northeast Motorsports 451 Carl Broggi Hwy. 207-457-2225 WARNING: Arctic Cat snowmobiles can be hazardous to operate. For your safety, all riders should read and understand their owner’s manual and safety instructions. Always wear an approved helmet and other safety apparel. Be aware of natural hazards you may encounter and don’t drink and ride. All scenes depicted or described were performed by professional riders under carefully controlled conditions. Never attempt to duplicate these maneuvers or encourage others to do so. Arctic Cat recommends that all operators take a safety training course. For safety and training information, please see your local dealer. ©2024 Arctic Cat Inc. All rights reserved.

28 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Career Opportunity Awaits at The Maine Sportsman! As a self-motivated CONTRACT ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVE, you could work from home on a full or part-time basis, interacting with top-notch business owners/managers in New England by phone, email, and/or in person. Share your marketing/advertising expertise with businesses to promote their products, services, and events. Commission paid monthly, bonus potential, mileage paid for approved business travel. Paid training provided, with on-going support. Expectations for our Advertising Sales Executives: • Provide stellar customer service • Seek out past and new advertisers while supporting current accounts • Access to cell phone and computer with skills to operate both • Fluent in English; both speaking and writing Please email letter of interest, resume/work history, and two references to

Snowmobiling (Continued from page 27)

and credit card are required with any snowmobile rental contract, and hefty deposits or proof of insurance are also standard. Insurance and Waivers A deposit for liability is required, or an approved waiver may be substituted. If riders are insured through their auto policies, they must show proof of insurance at the time of rental. Standard contract provisions include a $1,000 security deposit for damage to the sled. For $15 per day,

riders may purchase premium protection, but a $500 security deposit may be required as well. On the day of the rental, renters may be required to purchase a damage waiver program. Assuming there are no damages at the end of the rental period, the security deposit will be voided. If there are damages associated with the operation of the rental, the user’s credit card will be charged for damages and retrieval costs incurred. Because rules and prices vary widely, po-

tential renters are advised to call 30 or more days in advance, and to study the agency’s online website for additional details. Becoming a Registered Rental Agency What qualifications does it take to become a snowmobile rental agency? The state’s MDIF&W is prepared to answer questions from businesses that are interested in qualifying for registration as rental agencies. They invite questions at their snowmobile division. To learn more, call (207) 2875230.

Snowmobile Rental & Guided Tour Directory

1 & 2 Up Machines • Guide Service Available Daily Rentals: 8AM–4PM 1/2 Day Rentals: 8AM–12PM or 12PM–4PM

2024 Polaris Snowmobile Rentals Self-Guided or Guided Trips Available On-Site Lodging • Bar & Grill $285 / Day • $795 / 3 Days $1,295 / 5 Days • $1,695 / 7 Days

1489 Shin Pond Road, Mt. Chase, ME • 207-528-2900

Moosehead Region Trailside Lodging

• New Renovations & Furniture • Snowmobile Rentals • Huge Parking Lot • Ice Fishing Trips • On-Trail Access • Maine Guides Available

Greenville, ME • 1-800-792-1858

141 Main Street, Stratton, ME 207-246-4276 Cell: 207-313-3534 tlenterprises@roadrunne Rides: East Kennebago Mt., Rangeley, Jackman, Bigelow Lodge, Caribou Valley, Quill Hill


• NEW 2021-2022 Skidoo Sleds • Guided and Self-Guided Tours • On-Trail Lodging

• Warm Clothing Rental • Heated Visor Helmet • Mid-Week Discounts

Greenville, ME • 1-866-223-1380

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 29

Aroostook’s Outdoor Options for February With choices including ice fishing for salmon, splake and brown trout, smelting, rabbit hunting and night hunting for coyote, The County offers plenty of activities for the hale and hardy outdoorsperson this month. Fishermen in general are of an optimistic nature; they visit large lakes, rapid rivers and serpentine streams to offer a tiny bait in a grand liquid expanse, hoping a fish will find it. Add in a heavy tolerance for thick ice, deep snow, a blistering wind and freezing temperatures, and you’ve created a Maine ice fisherman. Yes, it’s that time again, so suit up, gas up the auger, and get into the game – and, by the way, multiple layers of wool clothing are always a smart idea. Drew’s Half Dozen Pretty much every angler is hoping to hook and land a bragging-size fish, and a fair number are focused on catching a particular species. Over my years of winter ice fishing, I’ve always preferred steady action, so I tend to visit lakes that hold at least three types of fish. One of my personal favorites that seldom disappoints is Meduxnekeag Lake near Houlton – locals call it “Drew’s Lake.” With six species finning about this expansive waterway including the rare-to-Aroostook

brown trout, one type of fish or another will keep flags flying on any particular day. Not only is Drew’s easy to reach via wellplowed main roads, but there’s also a maintained access road, and a parking area for at least a dozen vehicles. Once a safe, thick layer of ice forms, local “hard water” fishermen put out a few ice shanties and plow paths right across the lake’s surface to various spots. While a snowmobile isn’t a must, it aids moving a sled-load of gear, and offers quick travel to the farther reaches. Not that it’s neces-

sary to walk far – on several occasions, I’ve walked less than 100 yards from the boat launch and set out tipups near the outlet, enjoying steady action from every species. There are actually three parts of Drew’s Lake – 1) a section nearest the boat ramp and parking area that’s referred to as the “small lake”; 2) the main lake; and 3) an area named “The Fishing Grounds.” Far fewer ice fishermen visit Meduxnekeag than do spring and summer trollers, and at no time of year is it ever crowded. Brook trout, splake and salmon offer steady

Allagash Lakes Region

Jim Shaw of Mars Hill pulls a feisty salmon from Scopan Lake during group outing. Five different species of fish were iced that afternoon. All photos provided by the author

action, but the most sought-after prize is one of the hefty brown trout, some of which easily surpass the five pound mark. Fish hut owners enjoy handlin-

ing for smelt in heated comfort while checking out an adjacent window for a flag on nearby traps. Feisty, hard-fighting pickerel (Continued on page 31)

The Most Remote Hunting in the North Maine Woods Wilderness

American Plan Lodge • Housekeeping Cabins • Year Round Quality Cabins and Lodge on Haymock, Spider and Cliff Lakes Time to make plans for your ICE FISHING TRIP! Big Eagle, Churchill, Spider, Pleasant, and Clear Lakes A great place for a quality Family Vacation! Ice Fishing • Snowmobiling • X-Country Skiing • Snowshoeing

MACANNAMAC CAMPS Haymock Lake (T8 R11) • 207-307-2115 P.O. Box 598, Millinocket, ME 04462 Mailing Address Only

Booking 2024 Deer Hunts. $300 per Person per Week (Lodging Only), Double Occupancy Required Book Your 2024 Black Bear Hunt Now While Your First Choice of Dates is Still Available! Visit us on the web:


W W W.

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Map 55 in Maine Gazetteer

For Fastest Response, E-mail:

or call to leave a message at 207-227-7766

Year Round Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

30 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Aroostook County: The Crown of Maine • Hill Climb Big Rock Mountain • Kent Axell Psychological Illusionist Show • Guided Historic Snowmobile Tour • Vintage Sled Show


• Food Trucks & Vendors • Snowmobile Demos • Groomer Rodeo • Rave X Stunt Show • NESX Snocross Races

Join us for Maine’s largest snowmobile event of the year, the 2nd Annual SnowBowl! Bringing something fun for everyone in the family. For more info, follow Spud Speedway on Facebook or go to!




Long Lake Camps & Lodge Year Round Cabin Rentals

DEAN'S MOTOR LODGE Lodging & Restaurant Portage Lake, Maine

Hunting • Fishing • Snowmobiling

Restaurant & Lounge — Bill & Jean Theriault — P.O. Box 86 – Sinclair Road Sinclair, ME 04779 207-543-6390

FORT KENT POWERSPORTS (Formerly Ft. Kent Ski-doo & Audibert Polaris)

377 Caribou Rd. Fort Kent, ME

Polaris, Ski-Doo, Can-Am, Evinrude, Yamaha Marine


March 2–5, 2024 Irving Woodlands Can-Am 250 Willard Jalbert Jr. Memorial Can-Am 100 Pepsi / Native Dog Food Can-Am 30 For more information please visit our website or call

(207) 834-5626

Open 7 Days • Lunch & Dinner On Trail 17 off ITS 85 250 West Main St. Fort Kent, Maine 04743


ITS 85 & 90 Miles & Miles of Groomed Trails! — OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK — Seafood, Steak, Pizza, Poutine & MORE!

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�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 31

When the tip-up flags weren’t flying during an outing to Scopan Lake, Jay Peavey used the time to catch yellow perch for a family fish fry.

Sometimes the ice is so thick the auger descends into the hold almost up to the motor. On those occasions, it helps to have to two sets of hands to manage the drilling machine.

The County (Continued from page 29)

as long as your forearm are plentiful and, combined with yellow and white perch, fill the lulls when the more elite quarry have lockjaw. I like to set my

baits in 12 to 20 feet of water. On a temperate day, I’ll utilize a jigging rod with a DB Smelt or Swedish Pimple to actively fish rather than just watching tip-ups. Check Delorme’s Gaz-

etteer Map 53, grid A-1 to overview Drew’s Lake, and use Route 2A from Houlton and the Drew’s Lake Road to this action-packed spot in New Limerick. Scope Out Scopan Between Mapleton and Ashland, just off Route 163, lies

Jered Young of Mars Hill alternates ice fishing sojourns between half-a-dozen nearby lakes, and enjoys steady action on brookies. Often, his snowmobile and boot tracks are the first ones on the new snow.

Scopan Lake, another multi-species lake with simple access a half hour’s drive from a dozen towns and villages. Despite being the site of numerous year-around camps and homes, this large boomerang-shaped waterway receives

only moderate ice fishing pressure, thanks to other plentiful nearby northern lakes, ponds and rivers. A variety of finned quarry assures something will be biting, and like Drew’s Lake, it’s a great spot to take youngsters (Continued on next page)

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Here, Connor and Ethan Cushman of Mars Hill team up on a hefty trout. When lakes offer several different species of fish, the variety helps keep ice anglers entertained -- especially youngsters and novices.

Many devout hard-water anglers use portable ice shanties that fit on the back of a pickup truck. The shelters allow fishermen to move from lake to lake each weekend in search of a variety of species.

The County (Continued from page 31)

and rookie ice-drillers to avoid boredom and pique interest in future visits. Smelt fishing is top rate on Scopan, and a number of fish huts are set out for the winter. Unfortunately, most are private, and not for rent. For handlining at night or during cold, miserable days, vis-

itors should bring a portable shanty for cover and comfort. Cut bait is the way to go for the best jigging results; start with a piece of shrimp or Vienna sausage, then filet and dice your first fresh smelt for bait. Use sturdy line or monofilament; it’s not uncommon to have a larger gamefish grab

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the hook instead of one of the smaller silver slivers you expect. Brook trout, salmon, and some good-sized splake produce steady action on tip-ups, and a jigging rod with a lure or bait and spinner will keep an angler busy catching yellow perch. Nowland Brook and West Branch inlet are excellent locations for smelt and trout. Try near Cold Spring Brook for splake and brookies. Big Cove offers deeper water in the center, and perch are plentiful near Bogan Brook. Route 163 along with Walker Siding Road provide access to one launch area, while off Route 11 at the opposite end of the lake is another boat launch and a second entrance onto the lake. DeLorme’s Atlas Map 58, sectors A 3 & 4 show most of Scopan Lake, roads and brook inlets for first-time visitors. Coax a Coyote Aroostook County experienced the unique and very rare event of completely bare ground on Christmas this winter. Several warm, rainy spells led to lack of snow, and rabbit hunters enjoyed an edge, as

This group of ice fishing buddies from Mars Hill made a group visit to Scopan Lake to enjoy a sunny winter day cookout and a bit of fishing. The trout, splake and smelt were all cooperative.

Jered Young of Mars Hill uses winter camo clothing and a camo rifle to blend into the snowdrifts when calling winter coyote into range.

the white rabbits stood out like cotton balls in a coal mine. Predator hunters had easy walks to fields and forest edges in search of daytime fox, as well as day and night coyote hunting. Even current travel is simpler thanks to lower roadside banks and less open area snow cover. Once snow becomes deep and coy dogs have more trouble catching prey, setting up a bait site or two and sitting overwatch on moonlit nights can be very productive. Current conditions allow hunters to visit fields close to home, set up a decoy and use a mouth-blown or electronic call. Calling usually brings hungry coyote close enough to allow use of handguns, shotguns, bows

or crossbows. Call for three minutes, wait and watch for ten, and repeat up to four times. If nothing shows up within an hour, I change locations. Like most big and small game animal hunts throughout Aroostook, coyote and fox hunting can be experienced successfully within twenty minutes of home. Unfortunately, predator hunters are a rare, specialized group. It’s a cold, rigorous endeavor, but each success takes a bit of pressure off the regional deer population. Give it a try; perhaps it will be a new pastime to help add excitement to a few winter days and nights.

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 33

The Allagash – The Industrial Forest Part 1: Tim Gets Surprised

During the winter of 1973 and ’74, I was on a three-person survey crew hired to establish the property line for the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. The waterway owns the land that extends between 500 and 800 feet from the high-water marks of the lakes, rivers, and streams. Our first living quarters was at the Bangor Hydro Lock Dam camp in T7R13. From that location, we blazed a property line northeast along the shore of Chamberlain Lake, around the edges of Bear Mountain. At the time, I didn’t know about the lumbering history, although unmistakable relics lay just a short distance away. After a time, we were instructed to move from Chamberlain to the Ranger’s log cabin on Eagle Lake, T8R13, to establish north and south ownership lines. One dark night, we decided to snowmobile from Lock Dam to our new base, to learn what was needed for supplies. To reach the new quarters, we’d been told that there was a beaten-down trail between Chamberlain and Eagle, in an area known as the Tramway. Crossing Tramway Cove, we soon entered a dark evergreen forest where the ground was beaten down by hundreds of whitetail deer tracks. Cautious to avoid hitting any of the critters, I slowly steered my sled into an opening, when my machine’s headlight caught the reflection from a 100-ton locomotive that appeared headed straight at me. Instinctively, I swerved my sled to get out of the way, nearly striking an 8-inch spruce tree. That was my introduction to the famous locomotives of the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad.

I never imagined that 20 years later, as Ranger supervisor, I would be working with volunteers on a four-year project to stabilize the engines to prevent

them from tipping over. That winter, I became fascinated with the logging history of the Allagash, an area that Maine citizens had voted in 1966, “to be developed for Maximum Wilderness Character.” As I read by the glow of propane lights, a northwest wind howled outside. I wondered, There has been so much documented logging history, how could the Allagash ever be once again considered a wilderness? Then I was given the book, “My Life in the Maine Woods,” by Annette Jackson. In 1954, she wrote the following passage: “The entire Allagash Wilderness Country resembles (more of) a brush pile instead of a forest.” fn 1 My interest was heightened to do more research. I learned the Allagash had been home to Native Americans who moved into the corridor some 11,500 years ago, after the final retreat of the glaciers and well before the forest became a commodity. According to the Bureau of Parks and Lands Management Plan of Dec. 2012, an archaeological survey of the Waterway in 1996 located 65 prehistoric sites. Thirty-nine were newly identified, while 26 had been previously recorded. But other than scatterings of firecracked rocks from cooking fires, and hand-fashioned stone tools found from time to time, the natives had left the Allagash lakes and rivers as found. fn 2 Then the woods industry arrived and built dams. In 1841 came Lock Dam, T7R13, and Telos, T6R11. Interestingly, Lock Dam changed the flow of Allagash and Chamberlain Lakes from flowing north to move logs to southern markets from Millinocket to Bangor. Four impoundments at Churchill T10R12 were originally constructed in 1846, followed by 700-foot wide Long Lake Dam in 1907 in T12R13, retaining fifteen feet of headwater. fn 3 In 1988, Dr. Richard W. Judd, an assistant professor at the University of Maine at Orono, who taught courses in Maine history and the U.S. economy, published his book “Aroostook: A Century of Logging in Northern Maine.” I don’t know if the softcover is still in print, but I have a copy so worn from use that the pages are starting to fall out. I recommend this history for those who

want to dive deeper into the huge engineering accomplishments that occurred for years. With the industrial goal to clear forests, lakes were dammed, river courses were blasted and widened, and channels were dug to accommodate the navigation of horse-drawn towboats, bateaux, and tugboats. Along with the business of harvesting wood came dynamite, and steam.

Blasting a log jam.

1927 deep water recovery of Lombard log hauler form Long lake.

To be continued next month. ________________________ Footnotes: 1. My Life in the Maine Woods. Copywrite by Arlene Packard and Hilda Jackson Langley. Epilogue pg. 211. 1954 2. Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Allagash Wilderness Waterway Management Plan; December 2012, Pg. 51. 3. Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Allagash Wilderness Waterway Management Plan; December 2012, Pg. 30 Tim Caverly has authored twelve books about Maine’s northern forest.

34 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

How to Take Care of Your Ice Fishing Gear – and Why You Should Ice fishing is “tough on the rigging,” to quote my dad. The intense conditions leave us anglers battling frozen gear, worn-out equipment, and broken items. This makes for some problems, especially when our adventures take us far from civilization. The fact is, quality gear will almost always hold up to some abuse, if taken care of properly. A big factor that easily becomes a problem on gear is built-up ice. The first thing that comes to mind is my tip-ups. They soak in the water all day, and are tossed into a tote sled under freezing conditions at the end of the trip. Of course, all of the moisture in the reel, on the line, and in amongst the components will freeze. Not much we can do about that. However, I have found that it pays to take time after the trip to get all my gear out, and find a way to dry it. At home, that simply means tossing my traps on the floor of the heated garage. Or, if staying out, it might mean hanging them up in the ice shack near the stove, to dry out. On later-season days, you can hang them up outside in the sun to thaw out, as well.

The author’s family installed “wear bars” on the bottom of one of their plastic tote sleds. These sliders, fastened with screws, decrease friction, and also prevent the sled from developing holes from being dragged around. What’s important is that all the water has a chance to dry out of the spool and mechanism to prevent problems. Caring for the Pop-up Shelter Beyond drying tip ups, after each trip, it’s important to reassemble and set up any gear that got wet, snowy, or slushy. If you encountered snow or rain, set up the pop-up ice shack so it has a chance to dry. Otherwise, mildew and mold become an issue.

that’s crusted with ice isn’t very pleasant – and it’s hard on the structure. Anything else that needs drying should also get taken care of.

An ice trap covered in snow, which needs to be dried out completely before being stored for the next trip.

If you are moving from site to site, setting up an ice-fishing shack

Auger Care Each season, we send a handful of ice auger blades away to be sharpened. The auger we run becomes practically useless when one of the blades gets nicked. As a result, we bring a box of them with us, and a wrench to replace them on the ice. It’s a good idea

to keep your auger running smoothly. We have found that the pre-mix, nonethanol fuel sold at the hardware store is convenient, but also helps the auger to start and run well. Beyond that, regular maintenance such as carb cleaning and new spark plugs goes a long way. Tote Sled Maintenance We use a couple of tote sleds for all our gear. After most trips, we’ll empty all of our gear out and dump the excess ice and snow out of them. Also, we have wear bars installed on one of them. They’re plastic sliders that are screwed to the bottom. They reduce friction, and prevent the sled from wearing through over time. The sled that has the sliders looks new, even though it’s older than I am. We just had to replace the other one, which was only a few years old, because a hole wore through the bottom. Whatever your tools look like for ice fishing, it’s important to keep them in good condition. Take proper care of all your equipment, and it’ll last forever. Don’t, and you’ll be left disappointed.

A white-out on the ice, covering all of the author’s equipment in ice and snow,

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 35

— Guest Column —

Handload? Why Not? by David E. Petzal, Cumberland, ME In his November, 2023 Shooter’s Bench column, Col. J.C. Allard gave us some excellent advice on how to get ammo in these times of recurring shortages. I’d like to add one more idea: handload – make your own. I got my handloading start in 1965. I had taken up woodchuck hunting (they lived in open fields then, and farmers were only too glad if you thinned them out) and bought a .22/250, which was a wildcat for years but which Remington had just added to its roster. But like the rest of factory ammo then, it wasn’t all that accurate. So I bought a book (Reloader’s Guide, by R.A. Steindler, and you can still get it) that told you how handload, and got the tools, and the components, and set up shop in my parents’ basement. Mechanical Ability Not Necessary It was there that I learned my first handloading lesson, which is, you don’t need any mechanical ability. The whole process is very, very simple. Lesson Two, even a rank beginner like myself could whip up something that was more accurate than what the factories sold. In a sense, I did it the hard way. I didn’t know anyone who handloaded, so what Mr. Steindler’s book didn’t tell me, I had to figure

There are many benefits to reloading, says the author: You can shoot more than you do now, and still afford it; you get to shoot what you want, not what the factories feel like loading; and you get to keep a vintage rifle working.

The author checking the balance on the powder scale before starting to load. This is something that smart shooters do very frequently, to ensure the balance beam centers on the “0” mark.

out for myself. What you should do is find someone who’s been at it a while, and ask if you can look over his

shoulder for a few sessions. I’m still loading in the basement, except now it’s my own. The

whole operation occupies just a corner. I have a very small, very sturdy workbench, an old book case, a set of

High-tech handloading gear. The author’s 40-year-old powder scale is perched on top of a book, on top of an old footstool. He says this arrangement gets the scale directly in line with his aging eyes.

shelves that I bought at Home Depot for very little money, and that holds everything. You need maybe half a dozen tools, all of which are inexpensive and last forever. My loading press dates to the early 1980s. My .22/250 dies, the ones with which I started, are vintage 1960. A Redding scale is mid-’80s, as is my digital micrometer, and so on. With this old gear, I’ve manufactured thousands and thousands of rounds for everything from Cape buffalo to summer mid-range competition at Scarborough Fish & Game, and I will never wear it out. Shoot What You Want Do you save money? Yes. Sometimes it’s not a lot, and sometimes it’s a bundle. But the real benefits are, you can shoot more than you do now and still afford it. You get to shoot what you want, not what the factories feel like loading. And, maybe most important for Mainers, you get to keep an old rifle working, even if it’s not chambered for the .308, .223/5.56, or 6.5 Creedmoor. Get in the habit of buying in bulk. Don’t buy a box of 100 primers. Buy 2,000. Pass up the one-pound powder cannister and get a 5-pounder. Say no to a box of 20 brass shells. Get 100. Turn your back on a box of (Handloading continued on page 37)

36 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Magnificent Options: Often Passed-Over .25s and 6.5mms Without a doubt, hunters in Maine and throughout North America favor .30-caliber cartridges and the rifles that handle them. Starting in the late 19th century, shooters and manufacturers began homing in on .30 as the best all-around bullet diameter, and that measurement has dominated the market and the hunting scene ever since. After Winchester unveiled the .30-30 as a smokeless powder chambering for the

More than 130 years ago, the world was introduced to the .30 caliber cartridge. Since then, hunters have seen many variations on the theme, including some slightly smaller but much faster rounds that the author deems worthy of note and consideration. Model 94 in 1895; most of the popular American hunting cartridges have danced around the .30-inch design. After the Spanish-American War of 1898, civilians began to use the .30-40 Krag that the American military had adopted from the Norwegians. Next came civilian appropriation of the


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.30-Government round of 1903 and the improved .30-’06 Springfield of 1906. Today, the .30-’06 is the second largest selling cartridge in Africa. In 1920, along came the .300 Savage, and in 1952 Winchester released the .308 Winchester as a civilianized 7.62x51mm round they had developed for NATO. Further develop-

ment of .30-caliber cartridges continued unabated. California’s Roy Weatherby created the .300 Weatherby Magnum in 1944; Winchester countered with the .300 Winchester Magnum 20 years later. Today we have the .300 Blackout, .30 Nosler, .30 Thompson/ Center, and a host of others. However, the 20th

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century cartridges cited above still account for most of the moose, deer, and black bear taken in the “Lower 48.” (I say “Lower,” because Alaskan game often calls for other, more powerful, .30-caliber choices.) Yes, Winchester’s ever so slightly smaller .270, a 1925 introduction, and Remington’s 1962 7mm Remington Magnum must be acknowledged as still highly popular game-getters. But, at .277-inch and .275inch diameters respectively, they are hardly different size-wise than their .30-caliber cousins. Collectively, these cartridges stand as the most successful ballistic conglomeration of the past 150 years. They overshadow a smaller class of cartridges that are suitable for taking all but the most dangerous of game. These are cartridges of roughly .25-caliber, or in European parlance, cartridges sized in the neighborhood of 6.5mm. Many are time tested – even fabled. Others are more recent developments that are still fighting for a niche in the marketplace. Fast Movers Europeans began experimenting with the 6.5mm or .25-cal(Continued on next page)

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 37 (Continued from page 36)

iber in the 1890s. The 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser dates to 1894, and soon made the jump from a military cartridge to a sporting round capable of taking caribou, moose, and bear. By 1903, the Austrians offered the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer in sporting rifles with impressive reputations in America and Africa. Even earlier, in 1891, the Italians began producing the 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano. Charles Newton designed the .250 for Savage, which they introduced to the American market in 1915. It was the first sporting round to reach a velocity of 3,000 feet per second. A year later, Newton released his own namesake .256 Newton, sometimes called today “the first Magnum cartridge.” In the 1920s, Newton rifles took every type of North American game, including brown bears and Alaskan moose. Following the rapid demise of Charles Newton’s rifle company, American shooters

went without another domestically-produced 6.5mm round until the advent of the .264 Winchester Magnum in 1958. However, numerous alternatives in the same relative class offered and continue to offer Americans a robust set of choices. These include the .243 Winchester, which is actually a 6mm, at the small end, and working up through some excellent rounds such as the .257 Weatherby Magnum, .257 Roberts (sometimes called “the most useful rifle cartridge ever developed”), and the .25-06 Remington, a .25-caliber made by necking down .30-’06 Springfield brass. The .25-06 is a 1920s wildcat, standardized and offered commercially by Remington in 1969 for its Model 700 line-up of bolt-actions. It handles bullets from 75 grains up to 120 grains, with its 100-grain partition bullet the most popular. Today, the .25-06 has lost some ground to more modern developments in the 6mm and 6.5mm category.

Handloading (Continued from page 35)

100 bullets. Get 500. I don’t know any experienced handloader who works any other way. Buying in bulk is where you really save money. It’s Safe, If You Pay Attention There are a couple of other considerations. Handloading is extremely safe. I’ve been at it for 60 years, and still have both eyes and all my fingers. However, if you’re one of those folks who has to be in constant touch with his smartphone, you might want to stick to factory ammo. Loading while

Looking Ahead Recent innovations at this smaller end of the cartridge spectrum foretell change among this class of ammunition and the corresponding sales of rifles. Conceived as a long-range target cartridge, the 6.5mm Creedmoor now fills the shelves of every gun shop in Maine and elsewhere. For reasons not fully understood, the Creedmoor is one of the hottest selling firearms in America. Others in this category include the 6.5mm PRC and the 6.5mm Grendel, as well as the 6.55x47mm Lapua, all on a performance par with the 129-yearold 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser. Still, the modern contenders reflect the trends going on throughout the shooting world. Two that bear watching are 2014’s 26 Nosler, and 2016’s 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum. These powder-burners fly well in excess of 3,000 feet per second, with the Weatherby even exceeding 3,500 feet per second. The Weatherby also generates

distracted, like driving while distracted, is asking for it. Do you have kids? If so, you’re going to have to figure out a way to lock everything up and keep it locked up all the time. Your kid may be fine, but how about his/her friends who may decide it’s cool to get into the old man’s gunpowder and mix it up just to see what happens? That’s about it. If you handload, you’ll be able to drop a word from your vocabulary. That word is “shortage.” For the people who roll their own, there are no shortages.

Shown on the right are the most popular hunting cartridges in Maine, all .30 calibers. On the left are three very viable cartridges on the 6.5mm category. Photo: Col. JC Allard

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The Stories Behind 2023’s Biggest Bucks Here are the stories behind the two biggest bucks of 2023. #1 – Michael Cummings, 269 lbs Michael Cummings of Bucksport is obsessed with deer hunting. Prior to 2023, he’d shot more than 30 deer in his life, including two that weighed 199 lbs, and one that weighed 198 lbs. Mike spends a lot of time upland hunting with his springer spaniel Remi. Mike admits that while Remi is busy flushing woodcock, the dog’s master is often a bit distracted, always scouting for deer. Four years ago, Mike found a shed with impressive mass in Mariaville, along with huge tracks and a rub line four feet high. The next three years, he spent as much time as he could in that area, encouraged by his wife, Jodi. He hunted with Remi and went trout fishing – any excuse to try to find the buck’s core area. Come rifle season, he hunted the buck, and once caught a glimpse of him. He never got a good photo of the buck on his game cameras. Last August, Mike found the buck’s bedding area. He found three beds, each the size of the hood of a car, next to a beaver bog. The problem was access. The 2,400 acre wooded parcel is open to the public for hunting, but the roads are gated. “It took me 2-1/2 hours from when I left my house, drove to the gate, rode

Michael Cummings shot this 269-lb buck on Halloween Day in Mariaville. It was the heaviest whitetail recorded by the Maine Sportsman’s “Biggest Bucks in Maine” patch club program for the 2023 season.

The two hunters who earned Biggest Bucks patches for the heaviest deer taken in 2023 both scouted their prey in the late summer, and carefully planned out their earlyseason approaches – and their efforts paid off handsomely. my e-bike 1.6 miles, and then walked a third of a mile to my spot,” Mike said about the challenge. “And if we got snow in November, which we did the previous two years, I couldn’t get in there.” Opening day came, but the wind wasn’t right. On Halloween morning, Mike was in his spot (a downed tree overlooking a powerline, 400 yards from the buck’s beds) an hour before legal. It had poured the night before, and the temperature was dropping. “I told myself, he will not head west, the beech nuts are all gone,” Mike recounted. “He will not head north – too many hunters and wood yards. He will come east and cross the powerline toward the oak ridge after being holed up, wet and cold, for the last 24 hours.” About ten minutes after the start of legal hunting time, the eight-pointer appeared. “He was 200 yards away and there were no other deer around, so I couldn’t judge his size in the moment,” Mike described. “He entered the powerline tentatively, and never stopped walking. He knew he was vulnerable. I yelled twice to try to get him to stop, and he never flinched.” Mike dialed up the new Vortex scope his son had given him, and squeezed the trigger of his .270 American Ruger. The Maine Monarch went 30 yards and folded. When Mike walked up to the giant, he did what he always does after he shoots a deer – he threw up. Then he performed the “last bite” ritual – honoring the game animal by placing grass or leaves in its mouth, and then observing a period of silent contemplation – which was taught to him by his Inuit friend from Alaska.

Mike field-dressed the buck, but could barely drag him. Eventually, he got permission to unlock the gate and drive his truck down the road. Then, with the help of his son, Officer Michael Cummings, they were able to get the deer out after a 400-yard drag. Mike expressed a special thanks to his wife, Jodi, and his son, Officer Mike Cummings, for their help and encouragement. #2 – Brian Durrell, 266 lbs Brian Durrell of New Sharon was hunting in Farmington on opening day, October 28th, when he got his first patch buck. Brian has been hunting since he was a kid, but he had a ten-year dry spell, and had never before shot anything close to 200 lbs. Recently, Brian started working for the local water district, where he spends a lot of time driving. Seeing more nice bucks through his job motivated him to try to get a mature buck that would earn him a Biggest Bucks in Maine patch from The Maine Sportsman magazine. He saw this particular buck in August before the season, and was impressed by its size. He decided to hunt that area on opening day. Brian sat on a rock in the woods opening morning, but didn’t have much action. That afternoon, he watched a spike feed 50 yards away. Eventually, (Maine Sportswoman continued on page 41)

Brian Durrell and his 266-lb, 8-point buck.

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 39

No Substitute for Practice by Ben Allen

Prepare yourself to take an accurate shot while hunting elusive big bucks, says the author, by training your eyes and muscle memory while hunting rabbits, since many of the skills and tactics are the same. As the last shot echoed across the new clearcut, my adrenaline was pumping as I asked my client how he felt about his shots. On this particular day, we started off on dry ground, but the forecast called for a much-welcomed blanket of snow. Let it Snow We had just passed on a small buck up on a hardwood ridge when the snow started to come down. We continued to hunt down off the ridge for the next few hours, while the landscape changed from its fall brown and grays, to pure white. Most years, it would be difficult in the early half of the season to find a 200 lbs+ buck track on two-hour old snow, but this wasn’t a usual day. When we found the track, it was almost completely full of snow, and it was difficult to tell if it was even a deer track. As luck would have it, there was a fresh-looking rub within sight. After digging down into the snow at the base of the small beech tree, I found shavings from the rub mixed in about an inch down. We were in the game!

Cooperative Buck It was close to 1 p.m., and for the next two hours that buck did everything we needed him to do in order for us to catch up to him. Whenever he stopped to feed, he spent a lot of time in a small area, then he’d rub another tree. Every time he did this, his track leading out was looking fresher and fresher, until eventually it had no snow in it at all. He led us off a small mountain and through a cedar bog that bordered a new clearcut. Once we were within sight of the cut, I whispered to my sport to keep his eyes peeled, because the buck was close, and we were probably going to get a look at him soon. As we eased out into the opening, I looked to our right and saw the buck getting up from his bed. “There he is!” I whispered, and that’s when my hunter stepped out around me to shoot. If the buck had gone to the right, it would’ve taken him three bounds to make it to the wood line, but instead he went from our right to left, into the wide-open. Practice is Key

This is where I’d like to pause the story to bring up a valid point for all of us that are planning to track bucks in the big woods. As a Maine guide and tracker on my own time, I can say with absolute confidence that this situation was exactly what we all hope for if we have to take a shot at a moving target. Our ultimate goal is to put a buck in the back of the truck at the end of the day, so when everything lines up perfectly and we catch up to that buck, we need to be prepared to finish the deal. Shooting accurately, offhand at a moving target, takes a good amount of time to perfect. It takes dedicated effort to hone this skill. Will you and I still miss some shots? Absolutely, but we can minimize those misses by fine-tuning our muscle memory. Skeet shooting, setting up moving targets, and just shooting off hand will all help improve our accuracy. If I could recommend one activity that helped me out tremendously, it would be rabbit hunting with beagles. In the course of a day, you will en-

Hunting hares with beagles, says Maine Guide Ben Allen, helps train hunters to be quick and accurate with their firearms. Photo provided by Big Woods Bucks

counter many scenarios that are similar to those in the deer woods. Quick-moving shots are the norm. Everyone can get lucky, but the more success you start to have, the more your muscle memory gets tuned in. No matter what shooting activity you choose to get yourself ready, do it with a mindset that you will improve and ultimate-

ly become better at taking that buck home when you catch up to him. Missed Shots It was heartbreaking to not find a single speck of blood on the snow after having fired five times at the buck. We ended the day excited to have had the chance to see a giant Maine buck, but also a little disappointed, (Big Woods World continued on page 41)

40 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Quest for a Midwest Monster has the Author in Indiana My personal quest to kill a Boone and Crockett caliber whitetail has taken me away from Maine multiple times over the last 18 years. Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas have each given me close-up opportunities; however, none of those bucks ended up on my wall. The opportunities have, however, been very enjoyable. Iowa is far and away my favorite whitetail state. Only Kansas comes close in terms of quality buck sightings. In one week of hunting Kansas, I

The author jumps at a chance to take his father on a bowhunting trip part-way across the country in pursuit of heavy-antlered, corn-fed bucks. saw three 150-165” class bucks. In four 10-day hunts to Iowa, I’ve seen seven bucks over 170”, and two approaching 200”. These states are VERY DIFFERENT from Maine. Why Indiana? Most of my hunts in the Midwest have been DIY, on public land. My father has accompanied me on all but one of these hunts. As dad gets older (he’s

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78 this year), he’s unable to scout as hard, hang stands or walk long distances each morning. I love my father and want him to have a chance at a great buck, so I’ve been looking for fully guided hunts we can share together. Unfortunately, most guided hunts are just five days. When we hunt public lands, 10 days is the norm. Guided hunts, however, don’t require scouting. We step directly into productive stands. On fully-guided hunts, I’ve seen

shooter bucks the first sit. Driving long distances is also tough for my father, and flying is not an option for him. So, in an effort to provide him with an “Iowa-like” experience, I chose southern Indiana. The landscape and topography in this part of Indiana are similar to Iowa. Large corn and soybean fields are dominant. Forested acreage consists of smaller, irregularly shaped plots, and deer become concentrated after corn fields are cut.

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Southern Indiana boasts a healthy deer population, and the numbers of quality, adult bucks are higher than in the Northeast. This is likely a product of shorter firearms seasons and a difference in hunter attitude, when compared to the Northeast. Rifle season is only two weeks long in Indiana. Choosing an Outfitter Dad and I are both bowhunters first, so I tried to find an outfitter who seemed to understand archers. That brought me to Triple O, aka, Old Oak Outfitters, in Madison. After speaking online with the owner, Blake Deuser, and learning of the 3,000-acre, archery-only area he has for hunters, I was sold. Triple-O has a 140” and 4.5 year old minimum on bucks. This outfit also has 15,000 private acres to hunt. These people take whitetail hunting and management seriously. After a 10-hour drive from NY, we arrived at the lodge. Triple-O is located inside the old Jefferson Proving Ground, once owned by the U.S. Army. The north end of the area is still used as an “air to ground” ordinance testing area, however, much of the maintenance area was sold off to local farmers, and this is (Continued on next page)

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 41

The Jefferson Proving Grounds served as a testing ground for the U.S. Army 19411995, and it’s still used today. However, the southern portion of this 51,000-acre area is now private farmland and home to Old Oak Outfitters. Photos by the author (Continued from page 40)

where the 3,000-acre, archery only zone is located. Essentially, this outfitter took over an old military base. It’s really cool. Dad and I started hunting the first evening. Tree stands were easy to get to, well marked, and very safe. Each elevated stand included a lifeline for safe entry and exit. There were plenty of ground blinds available for hunters not wishing to hunt

This old maintenance hanger houses Old Oak Outfitter’s lodge. They serve food, bunk hunters and store the tree stands and other supplies for the outfitter.

stands. My father took full advantage of the latter. Though neither of us shot a whitetail during this trip, we saw lots of deer on each hunt. I passed a beautiful 3.5-yearold 10-point, my first night. He might have scored the minimum, but needed another year to “be legal.” On two separate occasions, I saw great-looking 3.5-year-old bucks, but never saw a true shooter. Dad had similar

Maine Sportswoman (Continued from page 38)

the spike raised his nose in alert, and Brian thought the deer had winded him. About two minutes later, Brian heard what sounded “like a cow coming through the woods.” It was a thick area,

Big Woods Bucks (Continued from page 39)

because we knew the opportunity had been right at our fingertips. Be ready this coming fall when your chance arises. Start shooting or rabbit hunting as soon as you can, and your odds of hitting your target will go up vastly. Hal’s Thoughts One of the hardest things about guiding deer hunters in the Big Woods is when a client lacks shooting skills.

experiences; however, on the second to last morning, Dad had a shooter in range, but passed because he wasn’t positive the buck was an adult, until it was out of range. That’s how hunting goes sometimes. As for lodging, food, and our guides, we were very happy. Blake keeps space offsite, at the River Boat Inn, French Quarter. Dad and I each had our own room and bathroom, which made preparation for each

Driving into the facility no longer requires entry through a guarded gate; however, there’s no question this area was once heavily guarded and not open to the public.

day’s hunt very easy and enjoyable. Each morning, we’d arrive at the lodge, have breakfast, make a couple of sandwiches, and hunt all day. After the hunt, we’d stay at the lodge for a hot supper, and swap tales of the day’s adventures with the other sports. Blake tries to have 12-16 hunters each week. It was great to spend a week hunting with my father. Our talks on the way to and from the lodge were excellent. Sure, it would

have been better if we scored on great bucks, but the rut just wasn’t in full swing yet. We’d hunt here again in a heartbeat. Southern Indiana is an awesome whitetail hotspot. What made this trip one of my best ever, is something I’ll write about next month. Hint – if you’re a bowhunting nut like me, you’ll absolutely love what happened at the end of this trip! Stay tuned.

and Brian saw antlers, and then a head appeared. Thirty minutes before legal ended, Brian took one shot with his 30’06, and the buck went down. Brian was shocked once he realized how large the eight-pointer was. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime buck, but the 300-yard drag was terrible,” said Brian. “I forgot my knife, so I couldn’t field-dress it until my dad and brother arrived to help.”

Then, with a smile, he added, “In the future, I might stick with the small ones – they drag easier!” The old buck only had 3 or 4 teeth left. Brian said the meat is a little tough, but tastes delicious.

It’s frustrating, because a guide works hard to put someone in position to shoot a buck. It’s not an easy feat to get a chance at a buck, either still-hunting or tracking with two people. When it does happen, it is usually quick, so you’ve got to be prepared to make a rapid, accurate shot, whether the buck is standing or running. In reality, there are very few hunters who are competent at shooting running game. This is probably because most deer hunters choose to sit in a stand. There’s nothing wrong with

that, as you will usually have plenty of time to get ready and make a shot at a standing or walking deer. However, if you are a still hunter or tracker, it is crucial to be able to shoot moving deer, and practice is the only way to get there. I, like Ben, have rabbit-hunted since I was a kid, so moving targets are not a problem. There is plenty of time to practice before next deer season, so take the time to hone that skill, and it will stick with you forever.

***** Congratulations to Mike and Brian from all of us at The Maine Sportsman!

42 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

— The Biggest Buck


Brian Durrell of New Sharon, ME 266 lbs. • 10/28 • Farmington

Charles Rines of Edgecomb, ME 244.8 lbs. • 11/17 Wiscasset

Kevin Moore, Jr. of St. Johnsbury, VT 252 lbs. • 11/17 • T18 R10

Chase Thebarge of Dixfield, ME 244.8 lbs. • 11/10 Byron

Jeffrey K. Armstrong of Hallstead, PA 244.7 lbs. • 11/8 Portage

Michael J. Cummin 269.4 lbs. • 10/

Camden Springer* of Wells, ME 242 lbs. • 10/28 St. Albans

See the full 2023 Biggest Bucks in Maine

* denotes yo

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 43

ks in Maine Club —


ngs of Bucksport, ME /31 • Mariaville

Amanda Jandreau of Caribou, ME 241 lbs. • 11/7 Caribou

Michael Spaulding of Readfield, ME 252 lbs. • 10/28 • Lynchtown

Shane Sandvil of Benton, NH 241 lbs. • 11/10 Rockwood

William Michalowski of Chesterfield, MA 251 lbs. • 11/2 • Summit Twp

Shane O’Neill of Farmington, ME 240.5 lbs. • 11/25 Eustis

Edward Baird of Nokomis, FL 238.6 lbs. • 11/13 Jonesboro

e Club list at

outh hunter

44 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

— Biggest Bucks in Maine Club 2023 — * denotes youth hunter

LAST NAME Adams Alexander Allen Allen * Anderson Anderson Andrews Antone Archer Armstrong Ashton Babb Bailey * Baird Bald Barnes Barnett * Batchelder Bates Beal Bean Bean Bean Sr Beane Beaton Beckwith Jr Belanger Belliveau Benner Bennett Binette Birtz Blais Blake Sr Boivin Bolduc Boomer Boughton Bourgoin Bourgoin Bowie II Bradish Braley Braman Brey Brickett Brodeur

FIRST NAME Roger Jeremy Jack Landry Mike Justin Devon T Derick James Jeffrey K Jason Barry Lucas Edward Michael Matthew Kody Ellery Joseph Timothy Kyle Rodney Andrew A Christopher Tyler Durwood H Randy L Justin A Aaron Megan Craig Remee Philippe Joshua D Joshua Ryan M Scott P Ashlee Nathan Tyler Calvin L Raymond Matthew Spencer William Justin Tristan

CITY Hermon Belgrade Phoenix Jackman Rye Troy Princeton Carmel Chesterville Hallstead Wales Windham S China Nokomis Biddeford Embden Hampden Levant Rockland Whiting Casco Norway Rumford Bingham Carmel Hinckley Norridgewock Skowhegan St George Freedom Saco Chester Windsor Union Farmington Buckfield Baileyville Presque Isle Ft Kent Charleston Poland Orwell Belgrade Chelsea Rangley Mt Verson Otis


WEIGHT DATE 201 11/2/23 210 11/21/23 201 11/17/23 202 10/20/23 208 11/13/23 205 11/10/23 222.5 11/8/23 202 11/20/23 209 11/4/23 244.7 11/8/23 203 11/25/23 220.5 11/14/23 229 11/17/23 238.6 11/13/23 201 11/4/23 208.5 11/8/23 215 10/31/23 202 11/23/23 203 11/22/23 218.4 11/1/23 204 10/28/23 202.4 11/18/23 206.8 11/14/23 237.5 11/3/23 203 11/6/23 216 11/17/23 225 11/22/23 219 11/9/23 200.2 11/23/23 230 11/9/23 202 11/11/23 220 11/10/23 201 10/30/23 210.4 11/10/23 214 11/9/23 206.5 11/4/23 222.5 11/1/23 215 11/4/23 212 11/21/23 202 11/21/23 216 10/4/23 219 10/31/23 200 11/9/23 215 11/22/23 205 11/22/23 209 9/5/23 235 11/17/23

WHERE Stetson New Sharon Windsor Jackman Athens Mayfield Twp Princeton Montville Chesterville Portage Wales Windham China Jonesboro Turner Sandy River Plt Winterport Levant Hermon Marion Twp Casco Otisfield Rumford Norridgewock Orland Fairfield Madison Skowhegan Cushing Freedom Ebeemee Twp Fowler Twp Windsor Union Wyman Twp Turner Big Lake Twp Ashland St Francis Corinth Auburn Prentiss Exeter T9 R9 Lang Twp Mt Vernon T5 R8 WELS

LAST NAME Brooks Brooks Bubar Bugbee * Bumann Burbank Burke Burtt Bussiere Butler Butrymowicz Callahan * Callnan Canty Capitano * Carmichael Carney Carrigan Carter Cassidy Cates * Chaplin Charette Christensen Cimpher Cipriano Jr Clark Clark * Clement Clukey Cochran Colby Colonnelli Connell Cool Cooney Cooper Corriveau Cote Cote Coulombe Coulombe Cousins Covington Cox Cox Jr Cropley

FIRST NAME CITY STATE Dale Brownfield ME Thaddeus Canaan ME Bryan Westfield ME Brennen Mapleton ME Martin Monmouth ME Jeremy Vassalboro ME Rob Newburgh ME Allison Easton ME Scott M Minot ME Cody J Stetson ME Jack Great Meadows NJ Charlotte Rockland ME Ryan Houlton ME Christopher A Wilton ME Benjamin Gouldsboro ME David Garland ME Ricky G Mapleton ME Joshua Plainville MA Vasco E Ellsworth ME Jason Richmond ME Max W Cutler ME Corey M Naples ME Keenan Ft Fairfield ME Erik Sebago ME Bradley Brewer ME Michael A Athens ME Derek Scarborough ME Liam Scarborough ME Suzanne M Bucksport ME Mark Minot ME Isaiah Union ME Evan Hiram ME Nino G Towaco NJ Michael H Hartland ME Lindsay Madison ME George M St Albans ME Mike Windsor ME Ronald St Agatha ME Matthew Princeton ME Tyler Presque Isle ME Craig M Farmington ME Aidan Augusta ME Dean A Brooksville ME Olin Benton PA John J Troy ME Clyde Lamoine ME Travis Lincoln ME

WEIGHT DATE 223.8 11/3/23 220.5 10/31/23 236 11/11/23 214 11/23/23 203 11/22/23 200 11/9/23 205 11/6/23 200 11/2/23 203.5 11/11/23 204 11/4/23 205 11/22/23 222.2 11/5/23 203 11/21/23 212 11/11/23 212 10/28/23 200 10/31/23 229 11/7/23 207 11/3/23 220 11/8/23 208.5 11/1/23 213.5 11/2/23 200 11/7/23 203 11/14/23 216 11/2/23 201.4 11/13/23 200 11/7/23 222.5 11/2/23 211 10/20/23 201.5 11/11/23 232 11/8/23 211.2 11/8/23 231.5 11/13/23 203 11/23/23 216 11/4/23 200 9/30/23 211 11/24/23 211 11/6/23 200 11/20/23 213.5 10/28/23 205 11/16/23 233 11/10/23 201 11/13/23 216 11/4/23 226 11/13/23 205 11/1/23 210 11/9/23 214.5 11/4/23

WHERE T36 MD BPP Brighton Plt Hammond Mapleton Byron Hartland Newburgh Ashland Auburn Stetson Moose River Rockland Hodgdon Wilton Gouldsboro Garland Ashland Troy Ellsworth Richmond Whiting Naples Ft Fairfield Standish Osborn Athens Calais Calais Bucksport Minot Hope Ripley Charleston Troy Starks St Albans Windsor St Agatha Washington Ashland Mariaville New Sharon Brooksville Grand Lake Stream Troy King and Bartlett Twp Lincoln

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�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 45 LAST NAME Cross Cummings Cummings Cummings Curtis Cutler Cyr Daigle Daigle Daniell Davoren Dawes Day DeBeaucourt DeCosta Despard Direnzo Dodd Donnell Doucette Doucette Doughty Douty Doyle Drew Dubay Dube Dudley Duffner Duffy DuFour Dunn Durivage Durrell Dyer Eastman Eastman Eastman Edwards Elias Emery Enman Everetts Falzarano Farrar Farrington Farris Faulkner Favreau Field Fish Fitch Fitzgerald Flanders Fortunato Foster Frazier Frechette Freeman French Sr Friede Frost Frye Gaffney Gagnier Gagnon Gagnon Garan Jr Gemma Geroux Getchell Gibbons Gibbs Gilbert Gilbert Gilmore Given Glidden Goff Goheen Gonzalez Goodness Jr

FIRST NAME John Michael J Nick Brook Jason Christopher Tyler Andrew Anthony J Scott Tim Dennis O Tyler S Pat Mitchell Daniel Dino Andy Jarod Steven Michael Kaden Keith John J Wallace Andrew K Cole Chad Eugene Ryan Donald P Jason Jubal Brian Cody Aaron Adam Scott Jason SM Tyler Wayne Bradley Alan Taylor John R Cameron Andrew Jeff David Jeffery M Ryan E Kevin Scott M Matthew Robert W Thomas Jozef Lukas Michael A Earl Garrick Joshua Brian Reggie Stephen R Thomas Michael W Stephen Devin Frank Jim Madison Kimberly Brooke Travis Kristopher Devin Brian Clinton Jorge Jeffrey E

CITY Gorham Bucksport Sidney Sidney Hollis Biddeford Millinocket Millinocket St David Orono Yarmouth Smithfield Otisfield Hudson Wiscasset Whitefield Westbrook Woodland Ellsworth Stockholm Warren Whitefield Holland Millinocket Island Falls Smithfield St Albans Caribou Freehold Danville Ft Fairfield Turner Eden New Sharon Orland Haynesville Exeter Exeter Gray Auburn Otisfield Durham Forkston Seabrook S Paris Osterville Jonesport Danforth Saco Windham Windham Bradley Lisbon Falls Sunapee Mercer Hampden Livermore Falls Lewiston Alton Ebeemee Twp Greenville S Paris Andover Watertown S Hampton Newcastle Livermore Waldoboro Exeter Augusta Vassalboro Naples Dixmont Parkman Norridgewock New Gloucester Island Falls Springfield Wrightstown Chapman Highland Kennebunk


WEIGHT DATE 215 10/30/23 269.4 10/31/23 216 11/4/23 213 10/30/23 206 10/31/23 202.3 11/11/23 217 10/31/23 215 11/22/23 201.5 11/14/23 210 11/8/23 203 10/27/23 223 11/18/23 213 11/2/23 212 11/14/23 202 11/2/23 210.4 11/6/23 209 10/14/24 201 11/14/23 205.4 11/4/23 225 10/31/23 211.2 10/31/23 207.8 11/11/23 218 11/13/23 202 11/1/23 212 11/13/23 225.5 11/6/23 206.5 11/11/23 206 11/14/23 202.5 11/15/23 209 11/16/23 204.6 11/24/23 204.8 10/30/23 213 11/2/23 266 10/28/23 203 11/1/23 230 10/31/23 228 11/3/23 200 11/2/23 204.3 11/9/23 225 10/2/23 205 10/28/23 201.1 11/14/23 219 11/23/23 206 11/23/23 206.6 11/18/23 203 11/11/23 222 9/30/23 222 11/18/23 228 10/28/23 200 11/15/23 220.5 11/1/23 211 11/17/23 201.5 11/11/23 219 11/3/23 206 11/7/23 215.9 11/6/23 204 11/14/23 206.8 11/11/23 221 11/23/23 212 11/4/23 202 11/2/23 209.8 11/22/23 201 11/11/23 221 11/9/23 214 10/31/23 209 10/30/23 204 11/10/23 205.4 9/30/23 212 11/13/23 200 11/13/23 216 11/21/23 204 9/30/23 200 11/4/23 200.5 11/6/23 200 11/4/23 222 11/4/23 223 11/21/03 200 11/18/23 220 11/4/23 226 11/11/23 233 10/31/23 207 11/13/23

WHERE Gorham Mariaville Sidney Sidney Hollis Parsonsfield T3 R13 T1 R8 WELS Stockholm T7 R15 N Yarmouth Madison Otisfield Garland Alna Whitefield Falmouth Woodland Franklin New Sweden Warren Pittston Rockwood Grindstone Zone 10 Crystal Lexington Starks Ft Fairfield Weld Stetsontown Twp Ft Fairfield Turner Dole Brook Twp Farmington Orland Haynesville Exeter Exeter New Gloucester Auburn Naples Durham T5 R7 WELS Oxbow Albany Twp Atkinson Jonesport Weston Brunswick Drew Otisfield Bradley Litchfield Caratunk Solon Northfield Russel Pond Twn Livermore Alton Ebeemee Greenville T8 R16 Lovell NE Carry Twp Lynchtown Twp Newcastle Livermore Warren Attean Twp Chelsea Vassalboro Stetson Orrington Parkman Norridgewock Freeman Twp Island Falls Webster Plt Bridgewater Ashland Hartford Kennebunkport

LAST NAME Goodwin Goslin Jr Gould Graham Graves Jr Green Greene Grimm Gurney Hainer Hall Handrahan Harrington Harrington Harris * Harwood Hatch Hayes Hayes IV * Hayford * Haynes Hebert Hemond Jr Henderson Hesseltine Hill Hilton Hludik Hodgman Hopkins Hudnall Hudson Jr Ireland Irving Jack Jacobs Jacques Jacques Jamieson Jandreau Jandreau Jewitt Johnson Jordan Keay Kelley Kelly King

FIRST NAME Christopher Steven D Peter B Earl Berkley W Michael Jessica Clayton Nicholas Scott G Nathan Kyle Hunter R Jesse Devon Julian T Sharon Ryan William A Reese Joseph Daniel Michael P Matthew Dean Troy Michael Jason Thomas Michael Zackary Robert Dustin Robert M Keegan N Robert John James R Jason Amanda Kenneth Gavin Thomas Camron Jerry C Gary Todd Joseph

CITY Pembroke Alton Belfast Linneus Etna Sherman Plymouth Mechanic Falls Rangeley Lowell Pittston New Portland New Sharon Limington Hebron Manchester Princeton Jefferson Newport Stratt0n Kingfield New Canada Concord E Barre Charleston Fairfield Norridgewock Wells Winterport Plainfield W Sulphur Spgs Raymond W Enfield Caribou Buckfield Lakeville Buxton Jay Robbinston Caribou St Francis Belmont Port Allegany Clinton Albion Hermon Falmouth N Anson


WEIGHT DATE 220 11/4/23 222 11/1/23 237.5 11/15/23 213 11/29/23 202 11/2/23 216 11/10/23 222 11/3/23 210.8 11/9/23 226.5 10/26/23 213.5 11/13/24 206 11/7/23 200.5 11/10/23 202 10/28/23 200 11/4/23 200 10/30/23 221.2 10/30/23 208 11/3/23 214 11/4/23 210 10/20/23 236 10/30/23 215 11/14/23 210 11/24/23 211 11/1/23 208 11/27/23 216 11/14/23 205 11/24/23 201 11/15/23 202.4 11/3/23 200 11/22/23 205 11/15/23 219 11/9/23 201.5 10/31/23 236.6 11/4/23 231 11/11/23 211 10/31/23 230 11/4/23 212.4 10/28/23 204 11/20/23 215 11/8/23 241 11/7/23 207 11/4/23 210 11/4/23 218.5 11/8/23 220 11/6/23 208 11/13/23 206 11/4/23 227 11/18/23 208 11/1/23

WHERE Upper Cupsuptic Cedar Lake Twp Belfast T7 R13 Etna Haynesville Plymouth Topsham Dallas Plt Lowell Pittston New Portland Manchester Baldwin Hebron Reedfield Princeton Jefferson Pittsfield Rangley New Portland Palermo Langtown Mill Twp D Twp 24 MD Fairfield W Forks Hanover Winterport Lincoln Plt Big 20 Twp Raymond Grand Falls Caribou Buckfield Lakeville Buxton Jay Pembroke Caribou St Francis Liberty Temple Fairfield Albion Newburgh Falmouth N Anson

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46 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman ————————————————————————————————————————————— LAST NAME Kitchin Knight Knight Knowles Kollar Korsman Ladd Laflamme Lake Lake Lamoureux Landry Lane Lane Langone Laurie Lawlor * Leadbetter II Leask Leavitt Lee Leeman Leet Leighton Leighton Lemay Lemire Leonard Libby Lindemuth Linscott Littlefield Locke Lohmann Loubier Lyons Macchio MacLearn MacLeod Main Main Majewski Mammone Marden Martin Martin Martin Jr Martineau Martinez Matthews Maynard Mayo Mcallister McCollor Jr McCue McCurley McGown McIntyre McKee McKeown McLain Jr McLaughlin McNally * McQueen Mead * Melmed Merritt Merritt Messier Meyer Michalowski Miller Millett Millett Milliken Mills Miner Mitchell Monk * Moody Moore

FIRST NAME Louis Dana Craig Kyle Kyle Arvo T Steve Scott D Heidi Garrett Leo Seth Harold Darrin S Bryan Zachary Kason John H Merle James E Jon E Joel Ryan Kari Todd Robert Jeffrey Patrick Brandon Joe Jeremy Kermit E Lee Mark Zachary Rick Steven Derek G James Tyler Cole Mike Evan Chase Jeffrey Dustin Karl C Tyler Wambli Joseph Michael Stephen P Sally Frederick J Marcus S Brian Jeff James Andy John P Jason Jacob Luke Ian Mason J Jeff Michael R Lucas Nathan W Jared William A Brian Cody Michael T David Benjamin Theodore Zachariah Joseph Calyn William C

CITY The Villages Rome Anson Sullivan Skowhegan Guilford Byron N Yarmouth Staceyville Greene N Smithfield Vienna Sherman Albion Wilmington Bristol Merrill Waldo Dresden New Bedford Bangor Jefferson Millinocket Columbia Medway Sanford Brownsville Lagrange Farmington Elysburg Holden Caribou Skowhegan Poland S China Coopersburg Bingham Ashland Moultonboro Middlefield Middlefield Hadley New Vineyard Hampden W Baldwin Elmore Rockwood Acton Houlton Pepperell Perham Fairfield Hampden Winslow Bangor Millis Norridgewock Union Lebanon Biddeford Glenburn Columbia Falls Bangor Labanon Limerick Bangor Charleston Steuben S Berwick New Durham Chesterfield Westford Harrison Jefferson Bowdoinham Arundel Augusta Cushing Palmyra Nobleboro Gardiner


WEIGHT DATE 200 11/9/23 210 11/22/23 209 11/9/23 203.6 10/31/23 212 11/3/23 209 11/1/23 219 11/11/23 224 11/16/23 219 11/11/23 202.5 11/24/23 209 11/8/23 200 11/3/23 208 11/24/23 202 10/30/23 216 11/27/23 205 11/4/23 222 11/8/23 200 11/1/23 202 11/7/23 218 11/17/23 219 11/3/23 208 10/6/23 201 11/17/23 221 11/4/23 204 12/2/23 218 11/17/23 234.5 11/4/23 207.5 11/21/23 201 11/14/23 209 11/16/23 202 11/3/23 227 11/4/23 220 11/8/23 200 11/4/23 200 10/31/23 212.8 11/14/23 201 11/13/23 200.2 11/22/23 236 11/10/23 206 11/22/23 201 11/23/23 224 11/10/23 200 11/4/23 223.4 11/3/23 229 11/9/23 220 10/31/23 226 11/4/23 209.5 10/31/23 219 11/11/23 215 11/13/23 207 11/16/23 204 11/11/23 221 10/31/23 208 11/2/23 233 11/11/23 205 11/9/23 210 11/23/23 212 11/11/23 206 11/14/23 201 11/14/23 210 11/16/23 216.2 11/17/23 230 10/20/23 209.7 11/20/23 207 10/21/23 201 11/16/23 212.5 11/6/23 204.3 11/29/23 206.4 10/28/23 203 11/17/23 251 11/2/23 202.4 11/2/23 209 10/28/23 200 11/2/23 202 11/14/23 228 10/31/23 213.5 10/31/23 213 11/4/23 211 10/20/23 203 11/2/23 203.5 10/28/23

WHERE Island Falls Mercer Industry Sullivan Skowhegan Abbott Twp D Monson Staceyville Carrying Place Twp Springfield Vienna T4 R7 WELS Palermo E Middlesex Canal Bradstreet Twp Merrill Searsmont Dresden Wellington Glenburn Bristol Millinocket Dublois Grindstone Twp Sanford Concord Twp Burlington Lee Portage Holden Caribou Skowhegan Weld S China Dixfield Moscow Ashland Pierce Pond Twp T5 R7 WELS T6 R6 WELS Pleasant Ridge Plt New Vineyard Grand Lake Stream Haynesville Sebomook Lake Rockwood Acton Littleton Sangerville Wade Clinton Hampden Winslow Corinth Atkinson T4 R9 Union Eustis Shapleigh Corinth Township 18 Dixmont Lebanon Parsonsfield Exeter Charleston Columbia Falls S Berwick Lynchtown Twp Summit Twp Rockport Waterford Waterford Beddington Kennebunk Vassalboro Cushing Detroit Nobleboro Windsor

LAST NAME Moore Jr Morris Morse Morse Moulton Munroe Murray Naegely Neal Newcomer Nichols Nicols Nielsen Noel Noonan Norwood Noyes Nutting Nyman O'Brien O'Brien O'Brien * Oliver Oneil O’Neill Ordway Osborne III Ottmann Ouellette Ouellette Parker Partridge * Paskaitis Pate Patoine Patten Paul Pease Pelletier Pelletier Pelletier Pelletier Pendleton Perkins Perry Perry Peters Phelps Philbrick Pierce Pietrowicz Pike Pinkham Ploof Plummer Pomeroy Poore Poulin Powell Pyle Qualey Radonis Ramsdell Randall Raymond Reed Reed Reed Jr Reinhard Reynolds Rich * Richards Riley Rines Ripa Robbins Roberts Ross Sacco Sack Jr Sanborn

FIRST NAME Kevin Michael Tyler L Paige N Gary C Brandon Chad Jacob Peter Andy Calvin K Ryan Josh D Neil Chris Robert B Judson Riley A Cindy Kyle Travis Reese Madisyn Kim Shane Kent Charlie Justin John P Nathan Troy Kaleb Steven Stephen David Tucker Phillip J Laura Troy Nick Daniel Troy Larry Todd M Randy Gary Devin Jonathan Lee A Seth Michael J David Levi Kevin J Buck David R Bill Nicole Brian Timothy Joshua Keith Noah D Zachary Jamie Kyle Ted Paul Sadie Tyler Tiawna Jared Todd Charles Philip Mitchell Omar Spencer A Jim Peter Trevor

CITY St Johnsbury Turner Harrison St Albans Ware New Glouseter Lubec Vassalboro New Portland Abbottstown Morrisville Rumford Clinton Adams Hudson NE Harbor Tamworth Industry Corinna Damariscotta Bremen Winslow Danforth Lexington Twp Farmington Patten Bradley Shirley Mills Madawaska Clifton Arundel Dexter Meshoppen OOB Arundel Appleton Biddeford Livermore Falls Fort Kent Winterville Plt Frenchville Fort Kent Hermon Big Lake Twp Pittston Lincoln Winn SW Harbor Skowhegan Durham Dudley Veazie Kingfield Milton Brookton St Albans Bay Biddeford Portage Littleton Port Deposit Holden Whitefield Harrington Old Town Jay Gorham Belfast Durham Naples Windsor Lincoln Dedham Charlestown Edgecomb New Sharon New Vineyard Ripley Union Weston Waterville E Parsonsfield


WEIGHT DATE 252 11/17/23 213 11/28/23 227.5 10/30/23 212 11/1/23 215 11/17/23 206.5 11/16/23 218 11/8/23 210 11/4/23 200 10/17/23 210.2 11/10/23 208.5 10/30/23 220.2 11/14/23 200 11/4/23 215 11/3/23 225 11/4/23 203.2 11/23/23 203 11/15/23 223 11/6/23 205 10/30/23 204 11/8/23 201 11/24/23 200 10/21/23 210 10/28/23 218 11/25/23 240.5 11/25/23 224 11/3/23 215 11/13/23 202 11/2/23 203.6 11/6/23 200 10/30/23 211 10/31/23 212 11/10/23 215 11/23/23 229 11/20/23 201.8 10/31/23 231.5 11/18/23 211 11/13/23 208 11/23/23 218 10/5/23 215 11/23/23 206 11/9/23 204 11/7/23 206 11/24/23 202.5 11/9/23 221.4 11/15/23 212.7 11/3/23 210 11/2/23 200.2 11/22/23 204 11/20/23 206.5 11/2/23 201 11/15/23 220 11/2/23 225 11/3/23 200 11/21/23 208.5 11/1/23 210 11/3/23 200.4 10/6/23 238 11/7/23 200 11/23/23 221 11/7/23 215.6 12/4/23 204 11/6/23 200.7 11/22/23 200 11/11/23 204.4 10/28/23 216 10/31/23 202 11/3/23 204 10/14/23 221 11/21/23 207 10/30/23 207.3 11/23/23 215 10/18/23 210.4 11/3/23 244.8 11/17/23 200 11/11/23 215 11/7/23 208 11/7/23 200.2 11/23/23 200 11/20/23 206 10/31/23 201.5 11/4/23

WHERE T18 R 10 Hartford Harrison St Albans Lower Enchanted Oxbow Twp Lubec China New Portland Rumford Adamstown Twp T8 R15 Albion T4 R14 WELS Garland Eastbrook Fowler Industry Corinna Edgecomb Bremen Vassalboro Weston Lexington Twp Langtown Plt Sherman Millinocket Green Mountain Morrill Charleston Biddeford Dexter T5 R7 WELS T6 R18 WELS Kennebunkport Appleton Biddeford Fayette Bangor T15 R5 Frenchville T15 R6 Hermon Big Lake Pittston Winn Winn T12 R14 Skowhegan N Yarmouth Chase Stream Twp Beddington New Portland West Forks Brookton T7 R18 Scarborough Nashville Plt Littleton Long Pond Grand Falls Whitefield T19 MD BPP Old Town Byron Naples Belfast Brunswick Parlin Pond Twp Washington Danforth Otis Woodstock Wiscasset New Sharon Strong Ripley Union Exeter Harmony Parsonsfield

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 47 LAST NAME Sandvil Sawyer Scates Schuttert Seames IV Sebastiao Sebastiao Secich Shelters Shorey Simmons Sirois Skelton Skelton Smith Soucy Soule Spaulding Sprague Spriggs Springer * St Pierre Stacey * Stair Stanley Steiner * Stevens Stevens Stone Storer Jr Strasnick Sucy Swindells Talbot Tardiff Tash Taylor Tessier Thebarge Theriault Theriault Thibodeau II Thomas Thompson Tibbetts Tower

FIRST NAME Shane Ruel Dennis L Joseph P Peter Tia Michael Matthew Jacob Clyde Travis Chad J William Rodney James Hunter Michael J Michael George Robert J Camden Jeff Bryce David James Jacob A Dylan Jason Travis Ronald R Joel Eric Matthew Dennis Tom Mark Justin Michael Chase Jacob Cole Clay M Jon Peter F Jason Gregory A

CITY Benton Buxton Jefferson Green W Paris E Machias E Machias Unity Trenton Burlington Port Clyde Pittston Gray Bowdoin Oxford Oxbow Sullivan Readfield Medway Shapleigh Wells Burlington W Baldwin Buckfield Waltham Palmyra Hampden Belgrade Owls Head Damariscotta Fairfield Rome Pittston Standish Blaine W Enfield New Portland Skowhegan Dixfield Grand Isle Bryron Oakland Leesburg Union Mercer Waldo


WEIGHT DATE 241 11/10/23 202 11/4/23 206.4 10/28/23 227 11/3/23 217 11/7/23 205.6 11/4/23 200.1 11/4/23 215 11/8/23 201.2 11/17/23 202.3 11/13/23 214.2 10/31/23 208 11/15/23 205 11/10/23 203 10/28/23 215 11/1/23 201.5 12/1/23 227.5 11/10/23 252 10/28/23 234 9/30/23 201.8 11/20/23 242 10/28/23 205 11/28/23 204.5 11/11/23 224 11/10/23 200.4 11/20/23 211.5 10/28/23 227 11/1/23 220 11/10/23 205.6 11/16/23 225 11/18/23 208 10/28/23 215 11/10/23 200 10/28/23 220 10/28/23 215 10/30/23 208 11/9/23 212 11/3/23 231 11/8/23 244.8 11/10/23 238 11/3/23 212.2 11/24/23 212 10/28/23 209.1 11/13/23 202 10/28/23 223 10/28/23 215.1 11/4/23

WHERE Rockwood Shapleigh Jefferson King and Bartlett Twp Greenwood Whitneyville Whitneyville Unity Trenton Burlington St Geroge Whitefield Lexington Bowdoin Oxbow Twp Oxbow T7 R19 WELS Lynchtown Medway Shapleigh St Albans Burlington Parsonsfield Buckfield Eastbrook Burnham T5 R19 Frenchtown Rockland Pittston Acad Gt Fairfield Belgrade Pittston Gorham Blaine Prentiss New Portland Brighton Plt Byron Grand Isle Byron Albion Beddington Union Mercer Frankfurt

LAST NAME Tracey Tracy Trahan Tripp Trudel True * Tucker Tuffy Tweedie Urquhart Vafiades Vainio Vanadestine Varney Verney Verney Voisine Waggoner Walker Ward Ward Watters Waycott IV Webber Weber Wellington West Whalen Whiting Whitten Williams Williams * Wing Witham Wood Wood Woodman Wotton York III Young Young Young Zalla Zickefoose Zontini

FIRST NAME Kasey Owen Brian K Kim S Peyton Sarah Russell Liam Steven Christopher Brandon Darin Michael Emma Brett K Kevin K Max Charles Thomas Stephen F Gage Mary Melvin L Kacey Jacob Ryan George Roy Cain Jeff Kyle Dillon Roy Wayne Tyler Tim Kaytlin William Benjamin H Dana Bruce Aaron Steve Bryan Anthony

CITY Prospect Harbor Corinna Clinton Oxford Hermon Cornville Hancock Milton Haynesville Levant Dexter Monson Howland Hampden Newcastle Damariscotta Lincoln Crystal Buxton Stetson Winterport Sherman Princeton Castle Hill Caratunk New Limerick Milo Gouldsboro Hiram Enfield Canaan Manchester Manchester Clinton E Machias Jefferson Gorham Nottingham Steuben S Paris Oxford Sidney Lincoln Brownville Appleton


WEIGHT DATE 201.2 11/7/23 206 11/2/23 205 10/28/23 216.2 11/11/23 236 10/28/23 212 11/10/23 205.4 11/3/23 200.5 11/10/23 237 11/13/23 205 10/30/23 205 11/3/23 211 11/15/23 208.6 12/6/23 223 11/10/23 225.4 9/30/23 206.8 10/28/23 235.5 11/2/23 218 11/25/23 201.8 11/11/23 207 10/31/23 204 11/9/23 220 11/3/23 212 11/9/23 217 11/2/23 212 11/22/23 237 11/2/23 218 11/13/23 203.4 11/2/23 225 10/4/23 203.5 11/10/23 204 10/28/23 200 10/21/23 201 10/31/23 219 11/15/23 209.3 11/1/23 200.6 10/30/23 203 11/4/23 212.5 11/22/23 210 11/9/23 221 11/8/23 200.4 10/28/23 200 11/24/23 213 11/16/23 223 11/21/23 200.3 11/13/23

WHERE Gouldsboro Stetson Clinton Oxford Greenbush Cornville Twp 10 Carrying Place Twp Glenwood Levant Dexter Monson Edinburg Charleston Newcastle Newcastle Woodville Crystal OOB Stetson Morrill Sherman Princeton Castle Hill Brighton Linneus Milo Gouldsboro Hiram Bradford Canaan Kents Hill Manchester Sapling Twp Wesley Jefferson Monmouth Burlington Steuben Long Pond Twp Oxford E Moxie Concord Twp Brownville Appleton

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48 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Fireside Chat from the Hot Tent The author has a new, large tent stove made of cold-rolled steel. As opposed to his smaller titanium model, which needed to be tended all night, the larger unit lets him use full-size logs, then bank the fire and get some sleep. The temperature outside was a biting 20 degrees. I had decided to spend some time in my hot tent. What better place to work on my column, while ironing out flaws in my winter camping operation? I placed my hot chocolate on the corner of the stove, and built a fire. Before long, it was time to shed my coat. As my mind wandered towards my next winter outing, the tent warmed up nicely. Recently, I’ve made some modifications to my Yukon Bell canvas tent. The initial stove,

an ultra-lightweight titanium unit, worked well. I’ve decided to promote this unit to my spring and fall kayak camping program. This slick little wood stove packs down to the size of a standard laptop case – very portable, and easy to set up. It’s the cat’s meow for my small backpacking tent when I need to pack it off the beaten trail. I reasoned that my canvas tent, weighing in at 67 pounds, wasn’t going on my back anytime soon. This opened

the door for a larger, but heavier, hot tent stove. To keep warm with the smaller stove requires constant feeding. They throw plenty of heat, but burn out quickly. The directions say not to count on these stoves lasting through the night without a steady diet of wood. Keeping Warm While a woodstove is great for warming up and cooking purposes, it’s important to understand that it’s a quality sleeping bag that keeps one warm

The author takes great joy in spending cold winter nights in his hot tent. A new, larger stove really cranks the heat. It has turned into his favorite spot to plan hunting and fishing trips, along with writing columns for his favorite publication. Bill Sheldon photos

through a good night’s sleep. The fire will go out, and an uninsulated

tent does not hold heat for any length of time. As quick as these tents (Continued on next page)


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�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 49 (Continued from page 48)

warm up, they cool down. Well aware of that, my “minus 20-degree” bag is my companion. I always have it in my truck during the winter, regardless. Should I break down in East Nowhere, I’m not planning on freezing to death. It’s a good winter precaution for deep woods travelers. Bigger Stove My latest stove, made of cold-rolled steel, and substantially larger than the titanium model, weighs in at 54 pounds. It also has warming racks on each side. The larger firebox is able to handle standard-size firewood. By standard, I mean it accommodates 24-inch-long logs. The five-inch chimney does a great job exhausting the smoke, whereas the titanium backpacker stove has a chimney that’s only three inches. The larger unit lets me bank a fire, and then get some sleep. As I banged away on my iPad, the tent started to really heat up. Ever the one to put numbers to a situation, I mounted a thermometer at eye level in the center of the tent. The mercury hovered at an even 100 degrees. I guess that’s why they call it “hot tenting”? My hot chocolate never had a chance to cool off. I’m loving it. Snowmobile Country Snowmobilers have invaded the region, looking to take advantage of award-winning trails and breathtaking scenery. Cold weather

and bright skies dominate this month. Sled jockeys heading out on the trails need to stop and thank the local snowmobile clubs for keeping these trails in top condition. Seeing as much of the grooming happens after dark, some volunteer is burning the midnight oil so the trails will be smooth and flat by morning. I’ve ridden on well used, un-groomed trails. They eventually turn into a washboard. Washboard trails take a toll on both machine and rider. Thanks again to the folks who generously donate their time so the rest of us can enjoy smooth sledding. Winter travelers should take advantage of the internet to gather real-time trail conditions before slapping the throttle. Katahdin Country has multiple snowmobile clubs, some of which offer to send email trail updates. The local lodges do a really good job of monitoring the overall health and condition of the trails. If searching the internet rates as unappealing, simply ask most any staff member at a lodge. These folks usually go out of their way to help snowmobilers get the most out of their visit to the region. Share the Road Winter adventurers looking to avoid using the internal combustion engine have some solid options. I can’t oversell just how much the Bait Hole Cross Country Ski and Recreational trails off of Route 11 excite me. I’ve failed misera-

Meet two of the worst cross country skiers east of the Mississippi. While absolutely lousy at the sport, Mrs. Sheldon and I take an occasional stab at it. The author has found that he enjoys watching and admiring graceful cross country skiers from the comfort of his snowshoes.

bly at my attempts to cross country ski. But for those who have a better feel for the sport, the Bait Hole has some very nicely-groomed trails that beg for action. Snowshoe folks are encouraged to stay to the side of the groomed trails. I found plenty of room for that, and enjoyed watching those graceful cross-country skiers work their craft. The experience was a poster child for the “Share the Road” principle. The Bait Hole has a large, easy-access parking lot with a kiosk loaded with maps. Google “Millinocket

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50 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Technology and Rat Loads I cupped my ear and twisted it toward the baying hounds. It sounded like another oversized Maine snowshoe hare was taking the hounds for a tour of the next mountain. Once the dogs were out of hearing range, I trudged back to the truck. Snowshoe hare hunting has its share of ups, downs, and more accurately, circles. Prevailing theory tells us to stand pat where the dogs start the fur ball, and 20 minutes later that bunny will come cruising by. That course should repeat itself multiple times. The circle theory works just fine. But the rabbits I deal with often have a habit of moving the circle. Yup, nice circle – just seems to move away from me a little bit at a time.

Willie offered to use his .357 magnum to blast his way into Matt’s locked truck so we could honk the horn of the truck to guide Matt out of the deep woods. In response, I gave Willie “the look.” By the time I got back to the truck, my eldest son Willie had already determined we needed to do some serious relocation to reel in this run-away rabbit. Where’s Matt? “Where’s Matt?” I asked. “Last I saw him he was headed over the ridge to see if he could close the gap,” responded Willie. My two boys both love to hunt. Other than that, they are complete opposites. If they both got thrown in jail at the same time, they would be out in a flash. Willie would turn the electrical outlet into a cutting torch and burn

those bars out in no time. Matt, who could talk a hungry dog off a meat wagon, would convince the warden he was innocent, and get permission to borrow his car. He’d pick Willie up, and home they would go. So, I’ve got one boy heading over the next ridge and one son with me on a logging road with the other’s new truck. Not sure what was going on with that rabbit, but the valley went remarkably silent. We waited over an hour, with no word from Matt. Hire the Hounds For me, hunting hares fills the void between the end of deer season and trolling

streamers for salmon in the spring. The snowshoe hare season remains open until March 31st. We’ve found the best way to get in on the action involves hiring a guide who specializes in rabbit hunts. The key here involves not only a good guide, but one with a team of sharp-nosed bunny-busters. Good guides can be found advertising throughout the pages of The Maine Sportsman. To maintain topnotch rabbit hounds, guides will spend countless hours running these dogs. That keeps the dogs in working shape and gives guides real-time

intel on the local rabbit population. Getting the hounds on track and strategically placing hunters in the right spot spells action. Hunters with good tracking skills can methodically put themselves in prime bunny territory. The problem comes with spotting a perfectly white rabbit nestled into some virgin white snow. Long time hare hunter and guide Art Corson once told me that during the daylight hours it takes practically stepping on one to get it moving. I’ve stepped on just three rabbits in fourplus decades. One tip my grandfather taught me was not to look for the rabbit, but for the rabbit’s eye. He also made me kick every brush pile (Continued on next page)


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or blowdown I came to. Last year that helped me put one hardearned bunny in the pot. “Blow the Horn” Surprisingly enough, Willie got a text from Matt. “Blow the horn.” Apparently, we had cell service – something outdoors-types recreating in the Switzerland of Maine should not count on. Of course, Matt’s truck was locked up tight. Willie, ever the resourceful brother, offered to shoot the door open with his .357 magnum so we could get at the horn. This is where good parenting comes in. I chuckled and gave Willie “the look.” Smiling, he instead chambered some rat loads into his pistol, and unloaded three rounds into a waiting stump. Next, Matt asked me to text him a compass reading, which I did. In the next half hour, he requested two more rat load volleys. Willie wondered out loud how many rat loads it would take to

Like any good team, good guiding and dogs that perform rely on a sport who is quick on the draw and accurate. On this day, the author delivered, and shared the results with his first class team. Bill Sheldon photo

save his brother. Finally, Matt burst out into the road. After plenty of good-natured kidding, we discussed his journey. He did have a compass reading that was within 10 degrees of the one I sent him. That would have easily got him to the road. It was clear to me he was on the right course but starting to doubt himself. Although the cell phone coverage was sketchy,

there was enough that we could text, which made the situation laughable for everyone. Matt felt good that his compass work was on target. Willie felt good telling everybody he spent nine rat loads to save his brother. This was clearly a hunt where modern technology and old school woods-smarts worked together for a nice family reunion.

The author’s two boys, Matt and Willie, are polar opposites in most ways. Hunting is one of the few areas in which they come together and act like brothers. With very different approaches, they both achieve excellent results. Bill Sheldon photo

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52 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

The Curse of the Sunday Buck I’ve been hunting for fifteen years now, and although I’ve earned my Grand Slam, I still don’t have a Biggest Bucks in Maine Club patch. In fact, I’ve never harvested a deer bigger than 187 lbs., fielddressed. As many hunters do, I dream about shooting a big buck, but I’ve yet to figure out the secret to being at the right place at the right time. I scout. I hunt the wind. I try to be scentfree. I use buck lure and calls, and try to be as quiet as possible. And when that doesn’t produce, I change it up, without using any call or lure at all. I hunted every morning and afternoon that my schedule allowed, including sitting in the rain.

The author says she watches deer all year long, but as soon as rifle season starts, whitetails “seem to disappear” – except on the “Day of Rest.” I had moved stands. I moved cameras so deer wouldn’t try to avoid them. Then, once the season started, I bow-hunted, and then rifle-hunted, moving to different spots miles apart when I felt like I was overhunting a spot. It didn’t seem to matter. All I ever saw were does and spikehorn bucks.

Disappear on Schedule I watch deer all season, but the last three years, deer seemed to disappear as soon as rifle season started. The rut season seemed almost non-existent, with a handful

of does moving early in the mornings and evenings. I watch deer all season, but the last three years, deer seemed to disappear as soon as rifle season started. This year, three smaller bucks sporadically showed up on my cameras. I really thought there were no big bucks where I was hunting. With no intention of shooting a little buck, I started calling the curled spikehorn “Loki,” and the young buck with a tall, webbed antler “Crab Claw.” I had not seen “Big Guy,” the tenpoint buck that had been in the area for the last three years, until September, and then I didn’t see him again all season. After seeing more big bucks than ever tagged at the nearby store and posted on Facebook, I assumed Big Guy was one of them. Prior to the season,

Sunday’s the Day Then came the first Sunday sighting. My husband John was checking his beaver traps. On his way back, he spotted a big buck just staring at him. All he could do was watch the deer walk away. No rifle, as it was Sunday. The second Sunday buck arrived right after a rainstorm. The big eight-pointer with no brow tines showed for one day, during prime morning shooting hours when I would be sitting in my stand had it not been Sunday. He was

a monster, and it was the first and last time I saw him on my camera. Two weeks later, a small buck showed up at 6:40 a.m. – when I’d be sitting in my stand had it not been Sunday. It ate acorns for a good half hour. Earlier that same morning, a big, wide ten-point buck had strolled right by my stand at 6:04 a.m., before legal shooting hours. Rifle season ended with no deer. I purchased a muzzleloader permit, and spent the next two weeks chasing the dream of a big buck. Every time a buck showed up, I would be so excited that when the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. it was like the first day of hunting season all over again. The next Sunday, a buck chasing a doe filled my camera, which was also the first real rut action I had seen all season. I

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Sunday, December 10, 2023

continued to see deer on my camera, but now they were strictly night images. Learning Experience My season ended with my having seen eight doe, two spikehorns, and a tall eight-pointer that I saw from my four- wheeler while checking traps. And of course, the bucks came back for a show once the season ended … on Sunday, and every day thereafter, of course. Although I may not have harvested a buck, I’ve learned a lot about deer behavior – that they really do know when we aren’t in the woods. Since Sunday hunting probably will never happen, I can only hope that someday I’ll be able to outsmart a buck, or as others say, luck out. One thing’s for sure. There are big bucks where I hunt, at least on Sundays! Congratulations to all of you who were successful in harvesting a deer this season.

After the close of the 2023 season.

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 53

Reasons to Give a Dam about the Penobscot In early May of last year, four canoeists entered the north end of Chesuncook Lake from the West Branch of the Penobscot and turned south along the western shore of the Maine’s third largest lake; see Delorme’s Atlas, Map 49, B-4. Chesuncook was almost flat calm. It was a cool morning, but a bright sun promised a warmer day. Katahdin, covered in fresh snow, stood out against the blue sky along the southeastern shore. After the paddlers passed by Chesuncook Village, the uninhabited shoreline made it easy for them to convince themselves they were paddling an unspoiled wilderness lake that had not changed in thousands of years. Reality Check In reality, the canoeists were paddling

When intentional or unintentional draw-downs in river levels occur, the results have the potential to affect wildlife, as well as anglers, rafters and canoeists. Can the concerns of all interested parties be addressed as part of a dam’s relicensing process? over the largest reservoir of impounded water ever built with private funds. Less than 200 years ago, Chesuncook was a much smaller body of water. And the huge appendages of Ripogenus Lake and Caribou Lake didn’t exist at all. An 1820 map of the lake kept by the Maine Historical Society depicts a long narrow body of water, with no Gero Island in evidence. The tributaries were unflooded, and had radically different entry aspects. By the time Henry David Thoreau paddled here in 1853, a wooden dam had already been built at the

An 1820 map of Chesuncook Lake shows a narrow body of water. Construction of the 90-foot high Ripogenus Dam in 1916 resulted in the impounded lake becoming Maine’s third-largest. Source: Maine Historical Society

outlet, and the famous writer noticed that some lakeside birches near the village had been killed by “inundation.” In 1916, Great Northern Paper built Ripogenus Dam at Chesuncook’s outlet. Ninety feet tall and 700 feet long, the dam blocked the Penobscot’s prodigious flow into Ripogenus Gorge. The electricity generated by the dam fed GNP’s new paper mill in Millinocket. When Chesuncook was flooded, Ripogenus Lake formed directly behind the dam, and water overflowed to the southwest into Caribou Lake, and

backed up into the West Branch of the Penobscot, Moose Pond, Umbazooksus Stream, and Caucomgomoc Stream – creating the huge Chesuncook Lake that we know today. Lake Level Issues Despite its wild character, Chesuncook has had seasonal drawdowns of the lake level for power generation, and before that for log driving, for almost two centuries. The gates on the first wooden dams were closed to retain water at full pond level for most of the year, with the water being released during the spring log drives.

When GNP built Rip Dam for electric power, the mill needed electricity yearround. And until 1971, it needed water in the spring to sluice pulpwood over the dam and down to the mill in Millinocket. Federal authorities first began requiring periodic licensing of large private dams like Ripogenus in the 1920s. Over time, the federal licensing process came to require measures to protect fish populations, the growing recreational industry, and the environment. To meet these regulations, GNP hired full-time fishery biologist Ed Speer, who worked for the company between 1977 and 2004. And in the 1990s, GNP relied on professional hydrologists to develop a wa(Self-Propelled Sportsman continued on page 55)

Lisa DeHart, the Sportsman’s “Three Minutes with a Maine Guide” columnist, paddles across Chesuncook in the shadow of snow-capped Mt. Katahdin. Jim Andrews photo

54 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

North American River Otters Last month, we explored the world of Maine’s mighty mustelids: six members of the weasel family Mustelidae. We had a look at minks, martens, fishers, and the new scientific division in species between long-tailed weasels and American ermine. This month, let’s talk about the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) in the subfamily Lutrinae. Maybe, like me, you find it hard to think of big, boisterous otters in the same family as the more reclusive and slinky mink, weasels and martens. Mink come closest, because they too are semi-aquatic hunters often spotted on a river bank, but otters certainly deserve to be in their own subfamily. I’ve been fortunate to see river otters in the wild occasionally when out fishing my favorite streams. Last year, a mother and two playful pups came crashing through the alders and slipped into the pool above me in the Little Kennebago River. They seemed as curious to watch me casting as I was to watch them swim and dive. I have also encountered unmistakable otter tracks when out cross-country skiing in northern New Hampshire. I’ve never seen an otter in winter, but their obvious slides leave clear

How much fun can one mammal have?

River otter resting on log at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland, December 2021. Jill Osgood photo

dence of their playful antics. I once found sliding tracks that disappeared down a hole in the river ice, leaving me to wonder where the otter came out, or if it was still under the ice hunting for fish or crayfish. Extensive Range River otters can be found throughout Maine from York to Aroostook and Oxford

to Washington counties. Our total statewide population of 18,000 to 24,000 river otters is at or near the maximum carrying capacity. River otters live in every U.S. state except Hawaii. A 2020 survey published in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management shows that river otters have expanded their range and numbers

in twenty-two states, while twenty-five states report stable populations. In the Pacific Northwest, river otters overlap in range with their larger pelagic cousins, the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris), which is in the same subfamily. Healthy river otter populations are a testament to long-term improvements in wa-

River otter munching a fish at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland, December 2021. Jill Osgood photo

ter quality and efforts to protect wetlands, as well as the resilience and mobility of this remarkable species. Maine DIF&W monitors our state’s otter populations, and adjusts trapping seasons and expected harvest numbers each year as needed. Voracious Predators Otters are the biggest mustelid in the northeast at three to four feet in length, including a 20-inch tail. When fully grown, otters run 15 to 20 pounds. Their thick fur traps air to insulate them from the cold water. They can dive as deep as 40 feet, and can swim a quarter-mile underwater, holding their breath for up to eight minutes. Eight minutes, while swimming! Imagine that. As a high energy, warm-blooded mammal in a temperate-to-cold environment, otters need to eat constantly. They are experts at catching fish of all sizes and types, and will eat crayfish, frogs, insects and occasionally birds, including ducks. They can surprise waterfowl by attacking from underwater. River otters are active in all four seasons, and have been known to travel up to 30 miles to find open water or openings in frozen rivers or streams. They (Continued on next page)

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are primarily nocturnal, but will feed in the mornings, rest in the afternoons, and can be spotted almost any time of day, usually on the move. City Visitors? Otters prefer to avoid the human-dominated landscape. One reason they are so successful in Maine is the miles of undeveloped rivers and lakeshores with healthy ecosystems. Thanks to Maine’s Shoreland Zoning rules, river otters and many other critters benefit from healthy riparian areas through which they can access the water and move safely from location to location. In December 2021, a pair of otters found their way into the duck ponds at Evergreen Cemetery off Stevens Avenue in Portland, where they entertained urban

The author spotted this “otter slide” in the snow along the Dear Diamond River in New Hampshire. D. Van Wie photo

walkers and joggers who observed them from shore. The ponds provided plentiful food – fish and frogs were among the favorite meals, according to the many photographs shared on social media and in the newspaper. The otters probably found their way

Self-Propelled Sportsman (Continued from page 53)

ter management plan that met mill production, as well as environmental and recreation needs. The dam was last relicensed in 1996. Relicensing Battle Rip Dam is currently amidst a years-long federal relicensing battle. But the players have changed, and the stakes for Maine canoeists, rafters, fishermen, boaters, and campers have never been higher. Great Northern Paper is long gone now, and the dam is currently owned by a subsidiary of Brookfield, a hydro-power company. Fishermen, boaters and other lake and river enthusiasts have noted instances of irregular and excessive drawdowns of the lake level under Brookfield’s management. Critics point out that Rip Dam is one of the few licensed dams in the nation that doesn’t have a minimum required lake level.

up Capisic Brook from the Fore River, or over from the nearby Presumpscot River – one benefit of connected greenspace, trails and sanctuaries. Having Fun Being a wild animal can be a difficult existence. Finding food isn’t always easy,

and Maine’s four seasons add to the challenges. When we see animals in the wild, most are constantly foraging, while others watch warily for predators. Rarely do they look like they are having much fun. But river otters are different. Somehow,

Concerns about downstream river flows to support juvenile salmon populations are also on the rise. Trout Unlimited members are especially upset about an event that occurred July 7, 2023, when the entire riverbed below the dam was dewatered due to closed gates. The river current dropped to 100 cubic feet per second (cfs), when the typical flow for that day was over 2,000 cfs. An entire age-class of juvenile landlocked salmon was feared lost. Brookfield reported that the malfunction was the direct result of lightning striking electrical equipment. As reported by Pete Warner, Bangor Daily News staff, in an article published in the Piscataquis Observer, Brookfield told federal regulators that “a lightning strike involving a Versant Power transmission line caused all of the hydro stations on the Penobscot River to go offline,” and further, “that [strike] and other lightning strikes damaged lightning arrestors and hydro units at McKay Station, which is located 30 miles west of Millinocket.” Unlike GNP, Brookfield sells pow-

river otters make life look easy. They seem to enjoy whatever comes along. It seems like they got lucky somewhere on the long road of evolution. So … be like an otter. Get out there and enjoy it all.

er from Rip Dam on the open market, presumably in the most advantageous (peak price) time periods. So instead of using electrical power for paper manufacturing on a steady, regular schedule, Brookfield is incentivized by the electrical grid market to operate or shut down their turbines according to constantly fluctuating demand and prices. This is not so great for juvenile salmon, fly fishermen, whitewater rafters, canoeists, and other boaters. Former GNP fishery biologist Ed Speer put it this way: “The Licensee’s desire to change operations to a market-driven peaking mode conflicts with environmental, recreational and aesthetic requirements….” Time and space doesn’t permit a full examination here of the highly-technical battle over relicensing Rip Dam. Maine Trout Unlimited (https:// is heavily involved in the complex process. Kathy Houston ( is helping to coordinate the viewpoints of camp owners, boaters and other interested parties.

56 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Ice-Fishing Season in Full Swing February 15, that long-awaited date for Moosehead Lake anglers, signals the opening day of ice fishing for salmon. Prior to this, anglers needed to release, unharmed, all Moosehead salmon. But now, the law permits us to keep 1 salmon per day. I found salmon to be in good shape during last year’s open-water fishing season. Smelt, that all-important forage food for salmon and other salmonids, were present in good numbers. Indeed, trolling around with an eye on the fish locator, disclosed huge schools of smelt, which were represented as irregularly-shaped, dark-col-

The author recommends visiting tackle stores and bait shops in Greenville and Rockwood, including such businesses as Indian Hill Trading Post, and Lucky Bait & Tackle, to obtain up-todate information on what the fish are biting on, and where. ored objects. There were lots of them. The surprising thing was that fish bit at all, given the plentiful food all around them. Perhaps instinct, that inability to pass up a fleeting baitfish, was responsible for the good fishing. Also, I noted that the average fishing trip’s catch was composed of togue, salmon and the occasional brook trout, with togue being the most plentiful. Those togue were

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chock-a-block full of smelt, too. These good tidings should extend to the winter season, as well. Late Ice As of the third week of December, Moosehead Lake remained ice-free. With no extreme cold temperatures predicted for the short term, it seems possible that ice thickness may run a bit less than usual. Generally, by February, ice has become thick enough that anglers would need an extension on their augers just to reach water. Perhaps this year

will see thinner ice. Nothing about the climate comes with a guarantee, however, and an extended cold snap could change everything. But with a consistent pattern of warming and thawing, ice may be late in forming. No matter the depth, as long as anglers can find safe ice, they should find excellent fishing. Expect to take plenty of togue, and good numbers of salmon as well. Brook trout act as the wild card, and they may or may not show up in a day’s fishing.

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If you find a day with comfortable temperatures and little wind, you might want to try jigging with a Swedish Pimple ice-fishing jig. These classic lures have always taken fish through the ice, and continue to perform despite their many years of use. If you happen to hook a large fish, don’t worry – modern ice-jigging rods have plenty of beef to land the biggest fish in the lake. Just make sure to check your line for flaws. Many a trophy fish has found its freedom because of a nick in the line. Stocked Waters Anglers without a snowmobile or ATV cannot easily access some of the best spots on Moosehead Lake. So for those on foot, it makes sense to seek smaller waters. Mountain View, or Fitzgerald Pond, comes immediately to mind as a small, but productive brook trout water. Last September, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIF&W) stocked 1,400 13-inch brook trout in Mountain View Pond, and then again in November, DIF&W released 50 17-inch brook trout. Bear in mind that Mountain View Pond covers only 550 acres, so that means lots of trout per acre. Of course, you won’t find fish evenly spread out, (Continued on next page)

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but rather congregated in specific areas. So if you don’t locate fish at your initial location, keep prospecting until you begin to get bites. At that point, you should easily fill your 2-fish limit. Then if, after that, you wish to keep on catching fish, switch to a jigging rod and artificial lures. Try small panfish jigs or Trout Magnets. Such single-hook offerings make it easy to release fish unharmed. Next, on the opposite side of Moosehead Lake from Mountain View Pond, Prong Pond, in Beaver Cove, has lots to offer. Stocked by DIF&W in September with 1,100,

13-inch brook trout, and again in November with 50 17-inch brook trout, Prong Pond offers another good opportunity to take some nice brook trout. It’s smaller than Mountain View Pond, at only 427 acres, so finding fish shouldn’t be terribly difficult. Unlike Mountain View Pond, which holds only brook trout, Prong Pond contains a healthy population of both smallmouth bass and white perch. If you are not particularly fussy about taking a mixed bag of fish species, then Prong Pond is for you. Local Advice If you are new to the Moosehead Lake

area, then it will help to get some local advice. Any of the tackle stores and bait shops in Greenville and Rockwood can give you up-to-date information on what’s going on, and where. They will also suggest what kind of bait or lures to try. I like to stop in at Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville to get current fishing information. Lucky Bait & Tackle, just down the road in Greenville, also dispenses good, reliable local knowledge. For some of the best fishing Maine has to offer, visit the Moosehead Region this February.

Moosehead Lake brook trout run big, as Brian Ellis found out. Photo provided by the author


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58 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Listen to the Snow Fleas The relationship between seasonal changes and the quality of fishing mustn’t be ignored. I have catalogued, at least in my mind, numerous little changes in nature and their relationship to changes in fishing. One of these comparisons involves snow fleas, Springtails. Snow fleas resemble so many little flakes of pepper dancing about on the snow. These begin appearing in mid- to late winter, and their presence marks the beginning of red-hot ice fishing for the various species of panfish. Look for snow fleas on a warm, sunny day in February, as they gather around the base of trees. A magnifying glass will help to reveal one of nature’s miniature spectacles. Snow fleas appearing coincides with the time that the tiniest hint of spring invigorates white perch and black crappies. Now, the females gain weight as the eggs inside them begin to mature. Also, schools of fish become larger and more concentrated. When this happens, perch and crappies be-

The author carefully watches events on top of the snow in the woods, to provide him with clues about what’s going on with the fish populations beneath the ice. come ravenous, and so the catch rate increases. Jig ’Em Given that fish are hungry and schools have become expansive, there is absolutely no need to fish for them with conventional ice-fishing traps and baitfish. That is, unless that is your preferred way of fishing, then each to their own. But on a practical basis, jigging requires less chance of cold hands, because you don’t need to deal with live bait. Also, unhooking fish becomes easier because most jighooked fish are hooked in the mouth or lip. Besides all this, you can catch more fish per hour jigging as opposed to fishing with traps. Here’s why. Fishing with traps requires re-baiting the hook, letting the bait down close to the bottom, and then re-setting the trap. This can take some time, since you don’t want to use heavy sinkers, which will harm the bait’s

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Tony Wieman enjoys jigging for panfish on a warm, February afternoon. Tom Seymour photo

natural action. Jigging, though, requires only unhooking the fish – something you can accomplish with a set of forceps or a hemostat. This means you seldom need to even touch the fish with your bare hands. Then, letting the jig back to bottom requires nothing more than opening the bail on your reel and allowing the jig to quickly sink down to the bottom. The step-saving advantages of jigging for panfish speaks for itself. Perfect Day Sometimes, near February’s end, conditions come together to create the perfect day afield. I remember one sunny, warm February weekday when I tired of ice fishing and

decided to try my luck on a year-round trout stream. You know the kind of day I’m speaking of – temperatures in the low 50s, clear, sunny skies, and a definite floral scent of distant blooms and melting earth-frost in the air. To my surprise, water levels were perfect. Even more surprising, a rainbow trout hit on my first cast. I fished some more after landing my trout, but it appeared that it was the only fish in the pool at that time. It’s certain that eventually another trout, or several trout, would come to the pool. That’s the beauty of having a list of productive pools. Trout have their preferences, and once you locate their perennial hangouts, you will take fish from these places on a regular basis. A pool must possess certain physical requirements – which are not always obvious – for trout to seek it out. Once you locate such a pool, you can add it to your “visit again” list. Of course, spring does not arrive in February. Usually, snow and cold follow these intermittent thaws. All the same, spring is close enough to excite us and tempt us into going afield, even

to trout streams. It’s hard to stay indoors on one of those perfect days. Separate Climate Midcoast Maine has a distinct and separate climate, different from more eastern and northern regions. Whereas inland may see snow, the Midcoast, as often as not, may see rain. And when other places remain locked in with ice, Midcoast lakes and ponds begin losing ice. This calls for attention to not only ice thickness, but also quality. On those balmy, late-winter days when rivulets of water flow into ice holes, the bottom side of the ice layer is slowly being compromised as well. By March, even though you may have three feet of ice on a pond, if that ice is honeycombed and porous, it is unsafe for ice fishing. Indeed, I once fell through about three feet of ice, but fortunately I was able to roll and get an arm and leg back up on the ice. After extricating myself from this situation, I crawled for a distance in order to better distribute my weight. The lesson here was well-learned, and now I do not give in to the temptation of walking on soft, unsafe, late-season ice. So tread softly, and enjoy those stolen days in February.

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Take Fly Fishing to the Next Level A large number of folks who learn to fish with a fly rod never get past the beginner stage. They are able to cast a fly out far enough to catch a few fish, occasionally getting lucky and hooking into a big fish. This limited angling effort works great for many anglers, and most are completely happy with a lifetime of fishing at this level. Why would someone want to put extra effort and time into learning more, if they are happy catching fish with their fly rod at this level? Let me explain my reasons for moving beyond a beginner level and wading into an advanced fly-fishing experience. After reviewing these considerations, you can decide if this is something you’d like to do. Beyond Basic Flies If an angler can cast a fly out twenty yards and get that fly to land gently on the surface, they are well on their way to hooking into some fish. The next step is to learn how to select the correct fly to entice the fish into attacking the offering more frequently. Understanding the various food sources fish prefer will make a huge difference in the numbers and size

The best way to increase your level of fly-fishing knowledge and skills, says the author, is to try new things – different locations, different flies, different techniques … even a different group of fishing buddies! of fish an angler will catch. For example, if an angler learns that in Maine, blue-winged olives hatch all year long, they can be a little more confident selecting that bug when conditions aren’t just right for other fly choices. I have read that a good 80% to 90% of fish

feeding happens subsurface. If this is true, all anglers would do well to learn what food sources live below the surface of the water. Remember, conditions vary – there won’t be bugs hatching everywhere, or at all hours of the day. Check around and talk with local fly

shops to find if they offer fly-tying classes. Most Trout Unlimited chapters also are great sources of information for new anglers, as well as veteran anglers – they often offer tying classes and casting instruction to help new anglers become better at fishing with a fly rod.

Casting Techniques Once you’ve learned the basic method of casting a fly rod, get out and finish it off by learning some new techniques to advance your casting abilities. A good fly rod angler knows how to present a fly effectively under varied conditions – in the wind, under overhanging branches, around obstructions on a shoreline, up close, or at a distance. They also effectively present (Continued on next page)

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Freshwater Fly Fishing (Continued from page 59)

various flies that imitate food sources other than aquatic flies, such as terrestrial bugs, frog imitations, and bait fish imitations. In most cases, each imitation requires a specific technique to present the offering properly. Improving your casting technique requires an ongoing attempt to learn more. A fly rod enthusiast will spend their lifetime getting better at it – the process just doesn’t end at any certain point. One good way to improve casting is to watch advanced anglers throw a line out there. As a guide, I had the unique opportunity to watch many well-seasoned anglers cast a fly. Some of them taught me more than they’ll ever know, and I can’t thank them enough.

Different Species and Locations Another great way for a fly rod angler to improve is to fish for different species of fish. Try out new things, and hit different water. When I am casting heavy flies with clunky sink-tip line for smallmouth bass on a river, it’s like practice for swinging big streamers for trout and salmon on other rivers. The same goes for learning the correct casting technique for launching some of those humongous flies for northern pike … I can use the same technique for casting an awkward nymphing rig for trout or salmon. Each species you fish for teaches you something about how to catch another species – and all of it improves your fly-fishing game

A well-rounded fly rod angler fishes for many different species. William Clunie photo

on a big scale. Don’t fish in the same location all the time, either. Switching up your fishing areas works to improve your overall knowledge of fly fishing. Each new location will challenge you to improve and move your fly-fishing skills to new levels. Read as much as you can about fly fishing, and decipher what

will work for you. The internet offers a great deal of information, but anglers need to sift through the large amount of false information out there. Most fly-fishing magazines, both online or not, offer solid advice. Smart anglers take that information, try it out on the water, and make up their own minds about its usefulness.

As much as I like fishing alone, I learn so much more when I fish with friends. A good group of fishing buddies will up your game tenfold. Watch out though – if you pick the wrong group, you may easily find your fishing game devolving.

Correction – Right Place; Wrong Fly In January’s “Freshwater Fly Fishing” column, “Readers Share Their Secret Flies,” several captions accompanying photos of the reader-invented flies were transposed in the editing process. The corrected identifications are as follows:

Name: Dream Fly Created by: Vic Trodela

Name: Hutnak Special Created by: Steve Hutnak

Name: Kidney Stinger Created by: Steve Wanzer

Name: Alien Crab Created by: Vic Trodella

For a list of materials needed to tie these flies, and tying instructions, go to, click on the “Additional Links” tab in the orange banner at the top, and select “How to Tie Sportsman Readers’ Flies.” Have you invented or modified a fly that’s proven effective? Let our fly fishing guys know all about it, at LouZambello@gmail. com and

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 61

“The Beach is Gone” “I think your canoe is crushed,” John said. Then he paused. “Wicked wind, you know.” “Well, if it is, it is,” I replied. “Thanks for calling me.” John almost never calls me. He and his wife live off the grid at our remote lake, and phone reception is sketchy at best. I knew when I saw his name pop up on the cell phone that something must be wrong. “My wind gauge hit 70 mph,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe the surf. The beach is gone. Your boat tipped over.” The cell signal was fading. “Thanks, John,” I said. “I’ll tell the boys.” Worst in 40 Years From what John had said, the wind and rain storm of December 18, 2023 had wreaked havoc with our beach and the north shore of the lake. In over forty years, he had never experienced such a strong wind directly from the south. Our porch steps land on the sand beach, and the cabin faces out across two miles of open water. The raging wind had a two-mile fetch in which to pick up speed and generate waves worthy of Waimea Bay. John said the north shore and the few cabins there took the brunt of the ferocious wind and the violent

So bad was the erosion beneath the trailer wheels that the pontoon boat nearly slid off the tilted trailer onto the sand. My son managed to pull the boat back on the trailer using a winch, a pry bar, a makeshift pulley connected to the Jeep, and some help from young, strong friends.

The author lost all the sand on his beach, and his pontoon boat and trailer were tipped to one side by the storm’s wind and waves. The sand washed away under the trailer wheels, so one tire fell into a hole and the boat slid nearly off the trailer. Eventually the boat was set right, and now the shoreowners will have to wait to see if they will be allowed to shift the sand back to the areas from where it was displaced. Ben Randall photo

erosion. “The beach was washed away,” he said. “The waves were huge and relentless. Pounded the shore for two days. Sorry about that.” The only person available to go check things out was our middle son, Ben. He happened to be home on Christmas vacation, and headed for the camp early Wednesday morning. “Like a Tornado Blew Through” He called me that evening. He said the logging road into the lake was littered with broken limbs and remnants of downed trees. “It’s like a tornado

blew through.” he said. He found a tall pine tree lying across the yard, blocking the driveway. To access the camp, he had to delimb the tree and buck it up into sections he could drag or tow out of the way. When the tree fell, it gave a glancing blow to our canoe rack, and broke the cross pieces. The good news was, contrary to John’s dire assessment, the tree had missed the boats, so the canoes and kayaks were safe. I breathed a sigh of relief when Ben told me that.

Outboard’s Lower Unit Buried in Sand But the pontoon boat was in shambles. The pounding waves had washed away all the sand under the trailer wheels, and the left-hand trailer tire had fallen into a hole, causing the boat to slide sideways nearly off the trailer. The boat was tilted over, and the aluminum pontoon was resting on the ground. The tarp was trashed, and the winter frame was broken. Ben said the propeller and lower unit of the outboard motor were buried in sand. His first task was to get the boat cen-

tered back on the trailer. He did that by using a rope come-along, a farm jack, a long pry bar, and some blocking. Once he had the boat back on the rails, he tied everything down tight. He shoveled out the motor and jacked up the trailer. He shoved old Styrofoam blocks under the frame of the trailer for support, and laid down some plywood pieces for the wheels to run on. By then, some old friends who had been riding the roads looking for birds, pulled in and gave Ben an extra hand. They rigged a 2X pulley system from the trailer-to-a-tree-backto-the-trailer, then up to the Jeep. Ben said the boat and trailer pulled relatively easily up beside the cabin, where he chocked the wheels and tied safety lines to every tree and stump he could reach. The front steps from our porch used to land in the sand on the beach, but now that sand is gone. Where the beach had been scoured away, the lake water had flowed in, creating a new shoreline. Ben said if the water does not recede, I will be able to attach a boat dock to our front porch. Where we used to walk along the beach to visit our neighbors, Ben said now we’d be wading in water. (Tidewater Tales continued on page 63)

62 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Close-In Means More Brook Trout Jump on the snowmobile or ATV, load your ice-fishing gear, and head out to the middle of the lake. Sound familiar? That’s what too many people do, and except for large, northern lakes where trout may hold anywhere, it almost guarantees that you won’t catch any brook trout. So instead of blasting off from the landing and heading out to the middle, try following the shoreline and setting your traps in no more than four feet of water. Look for points and peninsulas, and – lacking that – seek a rocky section of shoreline. The reason for this shore-hugging strategy is simple. Brook trout, and sometimes brown and rainbow trout as well, like to forage along rocky bottoms in shallow water. So the main reason for fishing in shallow water is, that’s where the trout lie. I realize that this may sound counterproductive, and it may even defy logic. It took me years to feel comfortable setting up shop in three feet of water. But this may rank as the best approach to fishing for brook trout in winter. Stream Mouths If you find where a stream or brook enters the lake, try fishing in front of, or slightly to the side of, the entrance. Don’t walk too

When it comes to locating big trout under the ice, deeper water is not always better, says the author. Stream mouths and shallow coves can provide fast action on tip-ups or a jigging rod.

Fish in shallow water for brook trout such as this, says the author. Photo: Tom Seymour

close to shore, because the current tends to reduce ice thickness. So check as you go. Baitfish going up and down the brook, attract trout. So make sure to devote an ample amount of time to fishing these spots. Essentially, fishing stream mouths in winter is little different from fishing the same areas in spring. Such places are trout highways. And even if the stream is closed to fishing in winter, you can reap its benefits by fishing in front of it. Sometimes lunker trout will prowl stream mouths, so be prepared for anything. I once hooked a fish in front of a stream mouth, and it immediately charged upstream, taking all my

line before it finally broke off. I’d liked to have at least seen that fish. Unless you are familiar with the water, finding a stream mouth may require a bit of good luck. Far better if you are able to do some pre-season scouting in order to locate and mark, in your mind or on paper, the location of stream mouths. Different Bottoms Not all lake bottoms are the same. Some are rocky, some are mud, and some are sandy. Different kinds of trout frequent different bottoms, so here are some suggestions for what to expect, given what type of bottom you are fishing over. First, consider rocky bottoms. I men-

tioned earlier about fishing close to shore over rocky bottoms. In some instances, entire coves have the delightful combination of rocky bottoms and shallow water. Brook trout prowl all over these coves, searching for baitfish and aquatic insects – hellgrammites in particular. And sometimes, rainbow trout will also scrutinize these shallow, rocky coves. You can find such places by looking at depth maps of the water you are fishing, and you can also locate these spots in summer. How about that good-looking cove that you didn’t dare troll in because it was a bit too shallow and also because your lure kept hanging up on rocks?

You might re-visit such a place in winter. It may qualify as your favorite new ice-fishing “honey hole.” Mud bottoms, too, possess great potential. If you fish the lake in summer, you know the locations of these relatively shallow coves. Mostly, they are grown up in lily pads. But in winter, when aquatic growth dies back, something wonderful happens. Brown trout target these places in search of, believe it or not, snails. Stomach contents from brown trout taken over mud bottoms can reveal hundreds of tiny snails. Use small shiners, fished on bottom. Earthworms, allowed to crawl on bottom, also rate as top trout-catchers in such places. Sandy bottoms are uncommon, but they exist in many lakes and ponds. I know a stream mouth where the current has deposited a layer of fine white sand. Looking down through clear ice, it is possible to observe brook trout crossing these well-lit bottoms. Rainbow trout, too, display a fondness for sandy bottoms. Try using small shiners suspended just over the bottom, and also try jigging with a black-bodied, silver-headed Trout Magnet. Time devoted (Continued on next page)

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to fishing these places may be well-rewarded. New Dimensions Do you usually fish the same place, on the same lake or pond,

year-in and year-out? If so, you may be missing out on other great ice-fishing opportunities. Then you may enjoy trying at least one new water this season. It’s one day out of a long season, so there

Tidewater Tales

(Continued from page 61)

How Will the State Respond? Of course, it’s events like this that have shaped our lakes and streams and marshes and rocky coast for eons. The forces of erosion and wind and rain and trees being blown down are primordial and impossible to guard against. Now we’ll have to see how LUPC (the Land Use Planning Commission that has jurisdiction over our lake) feels about nature gone amok. We hope we’ll be allowed to scoop and push the sand out of the lake and put it back up

is not much to lose, but possibly lots to gain. So try adding one new water to your list. February can offer comfortable, sun-filled days, so take advantage of them.

on the beach where it belongs. Camp owners are resourceful, and our neighbors own tractors with backhoes and buckets. We have the capability to correct what nature destroyed. The question will be whether such reconstruction is permitted, or if I will have to attach Styrofoam floats under our front porch. I hope other camp owners had better luck and their waterfront was not rearranged by nature’s December rampage, or access roads were not washed away. Stay tuned for an update around March and April, when perhaps we’ll be able to inspect the damage and make repairs.

Trophy Gallery

Aaron Benner was hunting in the Midcoast area this past November, and tagged this handsome buck - 200.2 pounds; 10 points. Aaron purchased a jacket to display his new Biggest Bucks in Maine patch, and reports that he hopes this year’s patch is the “first of many.” Congratulations, Aaron.

64 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Current Fur Market Trends A few fur prices are slowly rising, while others float along. Beaver prices have recently risen enough that trappers are taking the furbearers in greater numbers this year compared to a number of past years. The felt industry is the one supporting the current rise, and once they build up their inventory, they will cut back on buying the beaver pelts. Then the prices will drop again. Along with this sled ride, the castoreum (beaver castor) will track a similar pattern. When few beaver are trapped, the price of castoreum goes up, and when more beaver are taken, the price drops. Otter, Muskrat, Mink The price of otter has been slowly coming up, due to a limited interest in the Chinese market. With the way things are currently going, who knows what will happen with U.S. and Chinese trade? The price of otter in this limited field of demand may end up dropping anyway, due to the fact that when beaver trapping effort increases, more otter are taken as incidentals. Sadly, muskrat and mink prices have both been dragging in the market. Mink was once a furbearer that a trapper could make some money pursuing, and the muskrat has always been considered the backbone of our North American wild fur trade. The muskrat was once abundant, easily trapped and required minimal time and effort for the trapper to prepare for sale. I believe ninety percent of trappers started their journey on the trap line with the muskrat. Fox, Fisher, Martin The red fox is another furbearer that is starting to bring a little more in the market. The Canadian, Alaskan and our New England fox are the most desirable, and that is reflected in the fact that the furs from these three areas bring almost double that from other localities. Both fisher and marten are slowly increasing in value. Prior to our Maine trapping restrictions due to the supposedly threatened Canadian Lynx, both of these furbearers were easily trapped, and their furs could add some real dollars to a trapper’s pocket. The exclusion devices we have to use now for these two furbearers has greatly reduced the take of both species. Simply said, many fisher and marten will not

Tracking fur prices provides a real-life lesson in worldwide economics, and illustrates the principles of international supply and demand.

Muskrats are easy to trap, and their furs are relatively easy to prepare for market, making them an ideal furbearer for youngsters to target. Photo credit: Wikipedia

enter an exclusion device. Also, the use of foothold traps on land in the lynx zones has all but been eliminated, due to trap design requirements for use in those zones. Raccoon, Skunk The raccoon is all but unsellable, unless it is considered to be very large (XXXL) or jumbo. The striped skunk with large white stripes are in demand. If one is talented (or lucky) at euthanizing them without getting sprayed, they are worth taking for the market. If one skins out the feet and takes care not to damage the pelt around the ears, eyes and mouth, the craft trades will pay even more for skunks. Mentoring If one wants to mentor youngsters, the trapping of our muskrat and ermine

Young trappers can take ermine using “weasel boxes” that contain a rat trap or a small foothold trap. Photo credit: A - Z Animals

are great ways to introduce them to the sport. You can get young people involved in all the aspects of trapping with either of these two furbearers, with a minimum of equipment. During the early part of the trapping season when the weather is milder, the muskrat is the furbearer to mentor them on. About all that is needed are a few 110 body-grip traps or #1 foothold traps, a pair of rubber boots, slices of apple, and some wire. Taking youngsters out along a stream, pond, swamp or bog to show them how to locate and read muskrat sign and explain how to set traps for them, then letting them make the actual trap sets in the runs or toilets, is simple and easy to accomplish. Making Their Own Traps The latter part of the trapping season is the easiest time to show young folks weasel sign in the snow and where they should make trap sets. With supervision, they will also enjoy making their own weasel boxes. Show them how to set the rat trap or small foot-hold traps most commonly used in the boxes to take ermine humanely. Any bloody bait, such as chicken livers, can be used. Teaching them where to best place the trap boxes will educate them on the ermine’s habits and environment. Letting youngsters participate in making these simple and safe trap sets for either or both the muskrat and ermine will be much more interesting to them than having them ride along while you check your traps. Not only will they have much more fun, but there will be real excitement when they check “their very own traps” and find that they have taken the furbearers. Next you will have to show them how to properly prepare the pelts for market, and make sure you remind them that they can use their “trapping money” to buy things they may want, such as some of their own traps and equipment, or maybe even that fishing rod they saw at a sporting goods store. If they are old enough, Mom and Dad might even let them contribute to the money pot to purchase that rifle Dad promised them they would be getting next Christmas.

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Sebago is in All Her Glory This Month Last winter was a bust for local anglers intent on jigging up big lakers from the big lake. For the first time that I can recall, Jordan Bay did not freeze up fully on Sebago Lake (DeLorme Atlas, Map 5, C-1). While it’s true that every few years the big lake doesn’t freeze up – the result of a combination of too much wind and lack of cold temperatures – we could always count on “The Bay” to freeze. The lack of ice put a screeching halt to the big derby held each February, as well. But if you read all of Mother Nature’s signs this year – high wasp nests, thick coats on the livestock, a massive acorn crop – they all point to a harsh winter of ideal ice-making temperatures. But if you don’t believe these wives’ tales, then I point to my go-to source for weather information. No, not the Weather Channel, but rather Peter Geiger’s “The Farmer’s Almanac,” published in Lewiston Maine. The Almanac has been prognosticating on weather since 1818. Geiger’s prediction for the winter of 2024: cold and snowy. In particular, he predicts lengthy cold snaps of the type required to ensure the making of ice. Interestingly, this past spring and sum-

Last year, a lack of ice spelled trouble for Sebago anglers, even those planning to fish in the usually-reliable Jordan Bay. However, the author predicts thick ice this winter, based on that unimpeachable scientific treatise, The Farmer’s Almanac! mer, I predicted better lake trout fishing on Sebago because of the absence of ice fishing pressure. I was correct. I had one of my best seasons ever on the lake for lakers as far as size and numbers of fish. And some of the best trolling this summer was right in Jordan Bay. The fish were loaded with – and chasing – alewives, so the baitfish’s presence may have played a role, but who am I to argue with success? In any event, based on the combination of nature’s indicators and the Farmer’s Almanac, I am optimistic for a good year on the ice on the big lake. Bait Choice Speaking of alewives, there is no dis-

puting, they seem to be playing a bigger role in lake trout size and numbers than smelt. Accordingly, I trolled large and extra-large shiners to replicate the shape of alewives, and did well. I plan to bring the same logic to winter fishing on Sebago. My traps will be baited with large shiners, and my jigs will be tipped with shiner tails. Another thing that surprised me last year was the depths at which I was catching lakers. Fellow guide C.J. Harmon of Burnt Meadow Guide Service texted me last summer and said he was seeing big clouds of fish and bait in 35 feet of water in front of my place. I looked at my lake chart, and saw that

Al’s sport Center

Now Carrying:

the 35-foot mark signaled a ledge that ran from the start of Frye’s Gut toward the tip of Raymond Cape. The next trip, I positioned us right over that ledge, and sure enough, we caught numerous lakers in the 5- to 6-pound range. I fished that ledge all the rest of the summer until I pulled my boat in September, with similar results. We did note that the fish shut down around 9:00 a.m., so the bait must have moved off. I generally fish deeper in the winter, but this year I will try the shallower water to see

if I can repeat my summertime success. Fellow guide Dan Hillier of Songo River Guide Service is on Pro Staff with Humminbird, and he is my goto guy with questions on electronics. This year, he has rigged up a state-of-the-art fish finder system for his Jet Sled to get an accurate picture of what is going on below the ice. Like most of us, I started out with a simple lead sounder and a general knowledge of the lake to find my ice fishing spots. Now I use a flasher to both get a quick check on depth and to alert me when a fish is working a jig. Dan’s newest version of this technology uses sonar to do all of this, plus see the fish as they move. I am seeing more and more (Continued on next page)

Royal River Rod & Gun Club Annual

ICE FISHING DERBY Lower Range Pond State Park

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 10, 2024 7AM–2PM • Tickets: Adult $20, U-16 $5 Door Prizes • 50/50 Raffle Prizes include Ice Auger, Traps, Ice Shack Rods & Garmin Fish Finder!


Tickets Sold at Mooney’s Live Bait, Carl Clan BJJ, Sebago Bait, Mainestream Health Co., and Dag’s Bait & Tackle —

1818 Lisbon Road, Lewiston, ME | 207-784-7591

Always wear a personal flotation device while boating and read your owner’s manual.

All proceeds benefit our annual Youth Field Day event in the spring! Contact Will Bartlett at (207) 576-0433 or for more info.

66 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Sebago to Auburn (Continued from page 65)

snowmobiles outfitted with fish finders. Maybe it’s time to get in on the craze. I did invest in an underwater camera a few years back. I set it up in my cove where I was jigging a Swedish pimple tipped with sucker belly. I could watch the jig rise and fall and flutter, and soon had a small laker watching it a few feet away. I moved the jig closer to the fish, but he ignored it. After a few minutes, he didn’t

like the looks of it and swam away. It was frustrating as heck to see the fish and not catch it, so I haven’t used the camera setup since! Let’s hope cold temperatures and a lack of wind lock Jordan Bay and the big lake up this year. If so, you will see me and others on the hardwater, trying every trick we have to dredge up a lunker laker.

The author with a typical Sebago Lake togue. Photo by Tom Roth

Trophy Gallery

Robert Spriggs of Shapleigh earned his Biggest Bucks in Maine patch with this 201.8-lb., 8-pt. buck. He tagged the deer on November 20, 2023 in his hometown, where he was hunting with his .300 Winchester mag. The buck’s weight was certified at Springvale Hardware, 489 Main Street in Springvale. Spriggs, who served 17 years in the Navy, reports that his friends at the American Legion Hall will be pleased to see his photo in this issue of The Sportsman. Congratulations, Robert.

Brennen Bugbee, age 14, was hunting in his hometown of Mapleton on November 23, 2023 when he earned his Biggest Bucks in Maine patch with this 214-lb. 8-pt. buck. He was hunting with a .270, and was supervised by Shawn Bugbee. The trophy was certified by the folks at Spartan Arms and Ammo, on Maple Street in Presque Isle.

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Ice Fishing for Southern Maine Brookies Throughout the outdoor world, Maine is famous for moose, bear and the iconic brook trout. In southern Maine, most of the true native brook trout habitat has disappeared, due to illegal introduction of warm-water species like bass and perch. Negative impacts have also occurred as a result of illegal shoreline development, and from algae blooms resulting from waterfront homeowners’ use of fertilizers, and seepage from faulty septic systems. Many waterfront property owners cut brush and trees along the water’s edge, and then haul in sand to make beaches. As a result, water temperatures rise, harming spawning habitat for brook trout. When this happens, the natural conditions of these lakes and ponds are forever destroyed. While the state has quite a number of self-sustaining brook trout waters, not many of them are in southern Maine. Management Methods Management efforts by DIF&W have maintained brook trout fisheries here in the southern region by implementing two types of stocking strategies: 1) “Put and take”; and 2) “Put, grow and take.” Their efforts are working. “Put and take” fisheries are waters

“Put and take” ponds in Southern Maine stocked with legal-size brook trout make for fast action – and good eating!

Brook trout are available and easy to catch in southern Maine, thanks to DIF&W’s efforts over the years. Brookies are true Maine treasures, and they taste good, too. Marquez photo

stocked with legal size brookies, to provide instant fishing opportunities for anglers. This is the most common practice in Southern Maine waters, especially on lakes and ponds that cannot sustain brook trout populations long-term. “Put, grow and take” fisheries are waters with good water quality and minimal competition from warm-water species, but they lack suitable spawning habitat. These waters are stocked with small sized brookies that can grow and survive longterm, but which can’t reproduce because of the lack of spawning habitat. While common in the north zone, this method is used only infrequently in Southern Maine, since – for the reasons I detailed above – overdevelopment of water bodies here in the south zone

means there are not many locations with water quality suitable for small trout to grow large. Brook Trout Locations Because of the long-time work by DIF&W fish biologists, stocked brookies are available in many ponds in this area. I will not list waters here; I don’t want to place fishing pressure on a few ponds, since that could affect the fishing experience on those waters. The Maine Sportsman’s April issue each year contains a statewide stocking list, with numbers and species for each pond, lake or river that’s stocked. It’s fun to discover that a nearby water body has been generously stocked, so I recommend that you get a copy of that issue when it is published. The information

is also available on DIF&W’s website. Regardless of whether you get your information from The Sportsman or online, make sure you also study the laws pertaining to size and bag limits for the water body you’re on, and don’t forget to keep a copy of your 2024 fishing license if you are out on the ice with tip-up lines in the water. Gear Consideration During the winter, fish close to shore, at depths of four to 12 feet of water. Avoid deep water sections of the pond. Brookies are not picky eaters – they feed on insect larvae, minnows, leeches, and of course worms. If the law allows fishing with two lines, set a tipup using one of those baits, and then use a jigging pole or stick in the other. DIF&W’s website recommends copper

lures while fishing for brookies, and for sure they work. Local anglers also have luck with gold and silver lures. A silver or gold Swedish Pimple, with a red flipper, designed by two Swedish brothers over 50 years ago, remains a great choice for brook trout. This lure mimics the action of a dying minnow as the red tag flutters. A Swedish Pimple should be fished by quickly raising it up in the water column, and then letting it flutter back down. If you add a minnow head or tail or section of worm, it can entice more strikes. Acme Kastmasters also work well when jigged halfway in the water column and adding a small piece of bait on the hook. As far as fishing with tip-ups, the old timers had all kinds of laughable methods, including spitting on the bait, or biting part of the tail off minnows. In reality, brookies are easy to catch, and those old tricks are not required. One method that does attract more fish is using a lure with the hook removed as a sinker – the flash will attract cruising trout. You tie a section of fluorocarbon fishing line on the hook-end of the lure, tipped with a baited hook. As always, minnows work well, but also try a (Southern Maine continued on page 69)

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Procrastination and Forgetfulness Almost Cause Disaster in the Big Woods This past bird season taught me plenty about bird dogs and game birds, as well as what it takes to travel around remote logging roads during the winter months. One thing’s for sure – at some point those remote logging roads that don’t get used during the winter will become inaccessible with your automobile. I drove out to a remote area to hunt birds this past December, and suddenly discovered the logging roads I had been hunting on in November

Between summer tires on the truck, no recovery gear, and no CB radio to tell him when the logging trucks were just around the bend, our Off Road Traveler learns a valuable lesson in preparedness. were now groomed and being used as a snowmobile trail for the winter. In past years, the roads were plowed because of logging operations, but this year they must have decided against logging way back in the woods. I had to search for another area to hunt – an area that allowed me to get back in the woods and away from

other hunters. I had my two bird dogs with me (Ginger and Andro) and didn’t want any vehicle traffic if they happened to run out of the woods and onto the logging road. I always park well out of the way of logging operations, as well as steering clear of necessary vehicle traffic that takes place from those who hunt on side roads that

aren’t maintained/ plowed during the winter. With a set of good tires and lots of recovery gear, I can get a good distance from the main logging roads. Procrastination Problems This past season, I fell victim to the “procrastination effect.” It started with me telling myself, “Don’t worry – you have plenty of

time to get your studded snow tires mounted … it’s only October, and there’s no snow anyway.” I got busy training my dogs on wild birds, and suddenly it was the middle of November before I decided to call and make an appointment to get my snow tires mounted. I called the good folks at Dan’s Auto in Rumford, and they said the earliest they could get to the tires would be December 8th. I decided I had good-enough tread on (Continued on next page)

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my regular tires, and kept hunting right up to the day the snow tires got mounted. After several hunting excursions and snowstorms, I found out quickly that most of the roads I liked hunting became too risky to travel. At one point I pulled off the pavement and into an area that had received quite a bit more snow than we had back home in Dixfield. It had also heavily rained the night before, softening the deep snow to a heavy slush that had the truck slipping and sliding all over the place. The ditches in this area are extremely deep, so I decided it would be best to come back later when the colder temperatures stiffened up the snow and made it easier to travel. If I’d had my snow tires on, I wouldn’t have slid around at all. I would have felt more confident about traveling anywhere on those slush-covered logging roads. Forgetfulness At another point during December, before I had the snow tires mounted on the

truck, I got up to an area where I knew they were logging. Then I remembered I had left all my recovery gear in the garage. I’d used the empty bed of my truck to transport some furniture the day before, and forgot to load the recovery gear back into the bed of the truck. As I drove a few miles into the remote woods on the logging trail, a huge, fully loaded logging truck approached. The fellow that plowed the road had only completed plowing one side of the road, so it was going to be a very tight fit when the truck passed. I quickly decided I needed to drive directly into the snowbank on the right side of the road. As I plowed into the snowbank, I kept aware of positioning the vehicle so I could easily drive back onto the road after the truck passed. The situation wasn’t at all risky or dangerous, just a typical back road maneuver … except for the fact that I didn’t have a good set of snow tires on the truck. I got out okay, but decided I would head back out to the pavement and return after the plow

It’s disconcerting to be driving along a snowy logging road, and suddenly remember that all your chains, lines, traction sand and come-alongs are back in your garage where you left them. Photo: William Clunie

truck finished the other half of the road to make it wider and easier to get around the big logging trucks. As I continued driving, I looked ahead for a place to turn around. Before I got there, I came upon a logging operation, and pulled over to talk with one of the fellows working there. I said I was going to turn around and head out

because of the narrow road. I told him about forgetting my recovery gear and the tire situation, and he laughed and told me I needed to get a CB radio so I would know when a truck was coming and prepare by pulling over at the safest spot on the road. Truck drivers call out their position and direction on channel 19, and making it very

easy for off-road travelers to navigate back roads with more confidence. I always have a CB radio in my truck, but had removed it during a clean up on the interior of the vehicle and never got back to re-install it. Again, procrastination and forgetfulness could have caused me disaster.

Trophy Gallery

Southern Maine (Continued from page 67)

“wacky rig,” hooking a nightcrawler or worm in the center only. The worm will wriggle more this way, and trout can’t resist it. Brook trout are Maine treasures. They are a beautiful sight to behold, especially the males, with their scarlet bellies, ruby dots inside blue halos – and they taste good, too. On “put and take” waters, it’s ethical to keep a few, and they make for a great shore lunch. Anglers who are tired of big-lake fishing with ATV and snowmobile traffic should try a small pond full of hungry, good-to-eat brookies.

14-year-old Charlotte Callahan was hunting in Rockland with her father, Josh Callahan, on November 5, 2023, when she earned her Biggest Bucks in Maine patch for shooting this massive 222.2-lb, 8-point buck with a 7mm08. The whitetail was weighed and registered at The Meat Shop, on the Camden Road in Warren.

70 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Getting Started at the Fly-Tying Bench There’s no greater thrill for trout anglers than catching a large brookie on a fly they tied themselves. If you want to try tying flies, the trick, says the author, is not to get overwhelmed with equipment and information – a vise, a hook, some thread and some feathers will get you on your way. Catching a fish on a fly that you tied with your own hands, constitutes something very special in my book. The feeling is similar to that which occurs when you take a trophy game animal with a cartridge that you reloaded on your bench at home. Tying flies helps a fly fisher become better at catching fish, by giving them a better understanding of the food fish like to eat. To be good at the art

of tying flies – and tying good flies really is an art – fly tyers need to have an intimate knowledge of the bugs they are imitating. A lot of folks might be intimidated by the sheer number of flies to tie, or the myriad tying materials available, or the large number of tools of the trade. The fact is that you can get around all of that fear by simply jumping right in, like I did. I was initially in awe of the seemingly

complex process, until I tied my first fly. Tools of the Trade One of the first things to do is to connect with other folks who tie flies. Call your local Trout Unlimited Chapter, or a local fly-fishing shop, and see if they offer tying classes. Maybe a friend ties flies, and would be willing to help get you started? With the advice of these experienced fly tyers, find out what tools you’ll need to get


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It only takes a few tools and a little material to tie flies, but you will gather plenty of both over the years. William Clunie photo

started – maybe use their tools first, to see if you really want to start tying flies. And remember, you don’t need to acquire the best, top-dollar equipment initially – instead, just get a few basic tools to get started. You will need a vise to hold the hook in place while adding materials onto the hook. A bobbin holds the thread that gets wrapped onto the hook, and you’ll need several colors of thread so you can match the color of the feathers, fur, or synthetic material that get attached to the hook. Get a threading tool to help get the thread on the bobbin easier … it definitely saves some time. It’s also best to have a special place to tie the flies – a quiet room with a bench or table to which to attach the vise, with drawers and storage space for materials.

Don’t start off trying to buy all the materials needed to tie every fly in the book. Go to a fly shop and purchase one of those basic kits that have all the required materials for a specific fly. As you branch out and tie other flies, you can get a list of needed materials, and do some shopping. You will become intimately associated with your local fly shop, or online source of material and tools, as you progress at this art. Online Instruction Once a fly tyer becomes proficient at the various methods for attaching material to the hook, I suggest they start watching some tutorial tying on I like having a real person there showing me how to tie, but occasionally it is nice to have that person right in your home on the computer. You can (Continued on next page)

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 71 (Continued from page 70)

shut it off and start it up when you like, and rewind it to watch again and clear up any tough areas of instruction. I enjoy video instruction by some of the top names in fly tying, folks like Tim Flagler, Bob Clouser, and Kelly Galloup. It would take a lot of travel time and ex-

pense to visit with each of these legendary fly tyers in person, so the computer wins again … I can even email the instructors if I have a question. Fly Fishing Shows I went to my first fly fishing show many years ago, and have been “hooked” on them ever since. At the shows you can actually speak with the big

names in the industry, and purchase tying tools and materials right from their booth. I like holding the merchandise in my hands before I lay out the cash … it gives me a better idea of what I’m getting. Sometimes the differences between high-quality and mediocre tying materials really aren’t noticeable until you see and feel them in

person. Fly fishing shows also allow you to watch these fly tyers in action. Most shows offer a fly-tyers’ row, where all the top tyers sit in their booths tying flies and chatting with attendees. At one show several years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Bob Clouser. Mr. Clouser and Lefty Kreh worked together

and produced several famous flies. When I mentioned Lefty Kreh, Clouser’s eyes lit up, and we had a great discussion. In the process, he gave me some valuable tips on how to tie a better Clouser fly, one of his most popular flies. It was my great honor and pleasure to meet Lefty Kreh’s buddy.

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Why Are You Here? In the early nineties, I was serving as the American Legion Post Commander in Corinna, Maine. The local Methodist Church had invited post members to attend the Memorial Day service. I was asked to say a few words on behalf of the Legion members, which I did. As the services came to a conclusion, everyone was making their way toward the exit when I was approached by a woman who asked if I remembered her. I apologized that I could not quite place her, and she replied that I had come to her house a few years earlier to inform her that her son had drowned at Little Greenwood Pond in Elliotsville Township. She wanted to thank me for calling her daughter, and for staying with the mother until her daughter arrived. I had reluctantly served in that capacity more times than I care to remember, but this particular encounter reminded me of the importance of those dreaded notifications. It caused me to reflect back on something my wife had mentioned a number of times over the years. In the early sixties, her only brother was killed in a vehicle crash, and she vividly remembered the name of the State Trooper who came to their house, along with all the details of that visit. It also made me think of all the times I’d had to convey that type of news to family members, and to question what kind of impression I had made. I realized I had quite vivid memories of the times I had made those visits, especially when it involved children and young people. Based on the conversation I had that day at the church, I resolved that in the future I would give even more consideration to my interaction with family members during death notifications, since it became clear to me that all participants would remember the details forever. State Puts Emphasis on Safety One of the major reasons that I have chosen to delve into this area is that it’s directly connected to all the outdoor activities that wardens have been tasked to oversee. Hunting, fishing, boating and all types of recreational vehicles fall into

In a sharp departure from his usual lighthearted fare, the author somberly reflects on the most difficult task performed by law enforcement officers following a serious accident in the outdoors. that purview, and all involve serious safety concerns. In the early 1970s, Gary Anderson came to work at Maine Inland Fisheries & Game as the department’s safety officer. At the time, safety concerns over hunting were the main focus, but the entire realm of safety while recreating soon landed in his lap. Anderson developed safety courses, specifically tailoring the content to each major recreational activity. He then organized volunteer instructors throughout the entire state to give classes. This was a major undertaking that has been successfully continued and improved upon by others. With a small staff and limited budget, that program has succeeded in getting the job done. In the years since, his efforts, along with all the unheralded volunteers, have prevented the loss of many lives and have helped participants avoid many serious injuries. And speaking of serious injuries, when compared to the publicity surrounding accidental deaths, injuries have never received the attention due them from media outlets, despite the fact that many are debilitating and life-altering. I cannot overstate how important the work of the safety office has been. No One Likes to be Stopped by the Warden Sometimes, on the eve of a major holiday, I would take note of all the vehicles heading off with watercraft, snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles in tow. I would wonder how much emphasis all the people hurrying off to recreate were going to place on safety. With wardens, the enforcement of the rules regarding people out recreat-

ing has always been complicated. The people are on holiday, specifically to get away from their daily grind, and the game warden showing up and interrupting their fun to deliver information about compliance is not always received well. Most Difficult of All As for all my cases involving children who lost their lives, I remember every one of their names, and I believe that all wardens would tell you the same thing. That being said, there are some, for a specific reason, that stand out from the others. One particular late-summer afternoon, I was on my way home from Augusta and was approaching the Pittsfield exit on Interstate 95 when I overheard radio traffic concerning an all-terrain vehicle crash on the Madawaska Road in Pittsfield. Being not far from there, I responded, and found that the Pittsfield Police and Sebasticook Valley Ambulance were at the scene. Subsequently, Warden Kevin Adam arrived, and we were directed to the crash site, which was out behind a residence in an un-mowed field. There, we discovered a deceased ten-year-old boy who had been riding a three-wheeled all terrain vehicle. He had struck a log in the tall grass, and had flipped the machine end over end. There was nobody home at the residence, and it was thought that a neighbor had called in the crash, but they were not present, and neither the police officer nor the EMTs knew who lived at the residence. While we were trying to gather that information, a vehicle driven by a lone woman pulled into the driveway. It was apparent she lived there and was, no doubt, the mother. As I went to meet her, she approached me, and I could see the look of panic on her face. I knew this was one of those times when there was no place to hide. She looked at me and asked, “Why are you here?”

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 73

The Easy Method of Sighting in a Rifle I’ve seen several posts on Facebook that read something like this: “I just got a new rifle and took it to the range the other day. I started at 100 yards, and found that I couldn’t hit a nineinch paper plate, so after firing about 20 rounds, I stopped and moved the target to 50 yards. Ten rounds later, I found I had only hit the paper plate once on the edge. I tried dialing the scope in and fired ten more rounds without success. I can’t believe a rifle doesn’t come already sighted-in from the store. Am I doing something wrong?” Besides wasting a lot of expensive ammunition, this kind of misguided, haphazard effort will ruin your day and frustrate the heck out of most anyone. The amazing thing is that there are large numbers of folks who don’t know how to sight a rifle in, so I thought I’d help out here and let them in on my easy method. Others may have their own methods; I just choose to do it the cheap and easy way. To Each His Own One thing most folks don’t understand is that ammunition ballistics and accuracy vary with the myriad combinations of components that can be used. Another factor is that the same ammunition used in one rifle

If the folks who sold you the gun didn’t use the “bore sighting” technique to ensure good accuracy, then you can perform the process yourself. Here’s how.

An inexpensive cardboard box can be used to position the rifle during the sighting-in process. William Clunie photo

may vary in accuracy when fired from another rifle. It is a well-known fact that certain rifles are partial to one particular brand of ammunition, and one brand only. Another fact is that reloading your own ammunition usually produces more accuracy ... but I believe most hunters aren’t reloaders. So, finding just the right brand of ammunition for your rifle might be a costly task, if you have to purchase several different brands of ammo to find the one with the best performance in your rifle. What I do if I am not going to reload for a rifle is simply purchase ammo from a company that uses a top-quality bullet. Then I take the rifle and ammo to the range and sight the rifle to that ammo’s potential. I’m okay hunting with a rifle that can keep three rounds in a three-inch circle at 100 yards from the

bench. When I reload for a rifle, I’m looking at getting three shots in a one-inch circle from the bench … when I have the time, this is my preferred method. Easy Method When someone purchases a rifle from a shop, most of those shops can do what is called “bore sighting.”

This is a good thing to have them do before you take the gun to the range. If they don’t offer this process, you can do it yourself right at home or at the range. Remove the bolt from the receiver so you can look down the barrel from the breech. This will require you to remove

the bolt or lever from the rifle … it’s an easy process that can be practiced at home and that should be done to properly clean the bore after shooting. Set the rifle in a fixed position on a bench, and aim it at a target that is set at 25 yards. Bench-rest target shooters use heavy shooting rests that lock the rifle in place, but a cardboard box with notches cut into it will hold a rifle securely enough for general sighting-in purposes. Position the rifle so you can look down the bore and see the bullseye. Then dial or screw the scope or iron sights so the sight is also aiming directly at the bullseye. Recheck the bore and the sights (Continued on next page)

74 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Western Maine (Continued from page 73)

to make sure they both still line up with the bullseye. Reassemble the rifle (put the bolt back in the rifle), load it, and fire one round at 25 yards. If the shot is dead on, move the target to 100 yards, and

fire another round to make sure it’s hitting where you want it to hit. If the rifle doesn’t put a round directly in the bullseye at 25 yards, make sure to return the rifle to a position in the rest that

has the crosshairs or iron sights right on the bullseye, then dial the scope or iron sights, without moving the rifle, to aim directly at the bullet hole you just made in the target. After doing this, fire another round at the 25-yard bullseye to make sure you are hitting it squarely. Re-

peat this process until you are hitting the bullseye (this should only take you one or two times). After obtaining accuracy on the 25-yard hits, move the target to 100 yards, and you should be all set. I like shooting three-round groups to make sure the rifle is hitting close

to the same spot consistently. Next month, I’ll continue with this topic, discussing how to sight your rifle for “point-ofaim,” as well as a few reloading tips to get the most accuracy from your rifle.

Trophy Gallery

Megan Bennett of Freedom used a .44 magnum on November 9, 2023 to earn her Biggest Bucks in Maine patch with this 230-lb. 8-pt. smasher of a buck. The massive whitetail was registered and certified at Tobey’s Grocery in South China.

Fifteen-year-old Benjamin Capitano was accompanied by Matthew Lester on October 28, 2023 while hunting in his hometown of Gouldsboro. Using his .300, Benjamin tagged this 212-lb., 9-pt. buck. The big whitetail’s weight was certified at the Nautilus Marine Hardware Store, on Hwy 1 in Sullivan.

Madisyn Oliver of Danforth was hunting on October 28, 2023 in Weston, Maine when she harvested this 210-lb., 9-pt. buck with her 30-30. The big whitetail’s weight was certified at D&R Custom Meat Cutting, in Reed Plantation (Wytopitlock).

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�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 75

Love to Chase ’Em With this being the annual “Biggest Bucks in Maine” issue of The Sportsman, it seems appropriate to keep talking about deer hunting, which for many of us across New England is our most hallowed pursuit. I come from a family legacy of deer hunters. My grandfather quit a job on the Friday before VT Rifle deer hunting because his boss wanted him to work the next morning. He went to camp instead. My father took opening weekend off for his entire career, and suddenly one year the owner of the store said he expected to see him Saturday morning. Dad said he wouldn’t be there, and went to camp. He showed up Monday morning and checked in to see if he still had a job. He did, and it was never an issue again. Thankfully, my workplace is good with my time off, so away I go. This Past Season The 2023 deer season was a lot of fun. I covered a lot of miles, from CO to ME. There was great buck sign around, and some decent deer taken. In the northeastern part of VT, we had snow, which was great, but not perfect. Muzzleloader week, we had a lovely crust under the shin-deep fluff that made sneaking in on a post rut buck a challenge. The two reporting stations near me that I keep tabs on showed a few 200-lb. bucks taken, with a few more that were nudging that number. The final VT tally will be a little while in coming. My season had its ups and downs, as they all do. My timing seemed off. When we had snow, I either picked the wrong area to look for tracks, or ended up on the wrong end of a good buck track, sorting it out and making up time, only to come across where someone else picked it up ahead of me. So it goes. I have no idea how many buck tracks I’ve taken where I might have cut someone else off. That’s why I like big chunks of ground to roam, where hunters have room to spread out. We definitely need to protect that sort of access. A Great Chase The last Friday of VT muzzleloader season found me wandering into where a decent buck had spent the last few days. His sign suggested he was feeding

As we took up the track, the big buck took us along a brook and into some whippy hardwoods. Just 15 minutes in, we saw him take off again on the other side of the brook. Now he was onto us.

Here’s the track of the big-bodied buck the author followed in the late season, but couldn’t seal the deal on. Photo: Matt Breton

and bedding, going nowhere. I sorted and sorted and finally made a loop to find his current track, rather than one that was snowed in from a couple of days before. The aforementioned crust bit me, and I bumped the buck up without spotting him. I gave him some time and tried my best to sneak in, but jumped him again, seeing his good-sized body launch away into the snow-laden softwood. I pondered my options and, knowing a weather warm-up was on the way for tomorrow, I left hoping he would still be close by on Saturday. My buddy Chad and I snuck in Saturday morning, making the mile and a half trek to pick up this buck’s running track. Chad is a budding tracker, and it was fun to have him along. We’d tracked another buck together two weeks prior without connecting, and Chad had tracked and missed a buck in this general area the week before, so we were hoping that the stars would align for us. We picked up the 18-hour-old

track, and started to cruise along. The buck had run for a few hundred yards, stopped to watch his back track, then carried on with his business of feeding and bedding. We passed through four beds he made through the night, slowing down each time as the track freshened up, until the swirling wind jumped him up before we saw him. After jumping him, we took a break. We now had a buck just in front of us. Things were starting to warm up, so the crust was fading. As we took up the track, the buck took us along a brook and into some whippy hardwoods. Just 15 minutes in, we saw him take off again on the other side of the brook. It was just a body and legs taking off, without a good enough look at him to take a shot. Now he was onto us. A Swing and a Miss We picked up the pace, hoping to catch this tired fella in a spot where we could get a shot. We bumped him again without seeing him, and then he headed out. We crossed the old road we had walked in on, and Chad headed off to watch a crossing he thought the buck might swing through, where the buck from the week before had gone. I stayed on the track. The buck cruised through the hardwoods, but now there was some terrain rather than a flat swamp, so I thought I might catch a glimpse. About four hours into the chase, near 11 a.m., I was moving along the track, looking as far ahead through the woods as I could, trying to spot this buck. Suddenly, to my right, about 60 yards away, tucked in a depression, a deer lifted its head from feeding. I had looked right over the top of it. The buck! I pulled up as he took off, and tried to find a lane to shoot through. I was running out of real estate, and took a shot. Missed clean. I followed that buck for a few more hours and miles, jumped him a couple more times, but didn’t connect. Getting out to the end of the road that day was bittersweet. A fun chase and adventure all the way around – exactly what I hope for in a day of deer hunting. Sure beats sitting in a stand all season!

76 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Coyote Karaoke Half the fun of coyote hunting, says the author, is getting geared up – with calls, decoys, firepower and scopes. During the month of February, when the chill is too raw for ice fishing and the shed antlers are all buried until the spring thaw, I turn my attention to calling coyotes. I’ve invested an unreasonable amount of time, effort, and money into this mostly frivolous pursuit.

But when it all comes together, it sure is exciting! Take the below notes as being from someone who enjoys the challenge, but who has had limited success. I’m not an authority or expert of any kind. Calls I use both hand calls and an electron-

ic “FoxPro” call. I’ve tried various stratagems of just coyote howls, coyotes and rabbit squeals, just rabbit squeals, etc. I’ve also tried other critter noises, such as fawn bleats, fox pups, raven croaks, and mice squeaks. I’ve tried to be restrained and soft in

The author believes adding crow decoys to a bait pile helps to calm the wariness of a coyote. Ethan Emerson photos

calling, like some experts advise – but most of the time I can’t resist the urge to make a racket. If it’s unlikely I’m going to see anything anyway, I might

as well have fun making some noise in the process. Decoys At times, I’ve employed various decoys (Continued on next page)

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�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 77 (Continued from page 76)

in my calling setups, though to date, none of my kills have come with a decoy present. That’s probably just by chance, I think. The most common decoy in predator hunting is the “mojo” type – a spinning/ flailing piece of fur, propelled by battery power and sometimes controlled by a remote. These are meant to get a predator’s attention, draw them in closer, and keep their focus off of wherever you are sitting. I’ve also used a 3-D archery target of a coyote, combined with plastic crow decoys. Positioned around a bait, these add a striking sense of realism to the scene. I think the coyote decoy could both help and hurt at times, depending on the season and mood of the coyote you are calling. The crow decoys, though, I believe help to make the coyote feel comfortable (“If there are crows around, then there probably aren’t any people”). I think decoys are better suited in places where the coyote will see them from a long way away. I tend to believe that if the coyote won’t see the decoy until it is under 50 yards away, it will be able to tell the decoy is a fake. Gun Setup Being a fan/collector of guns, I have a small arsenal that I use for coyotes. I rotate bringing each, depending on the anticipated shot distance and other factors. I’ve never killed a coyote with a shotgun, but I would sure like to. I have a Remington SP-10 10 gauge that I

load with copper-plated BBs and #4 Buck. I think that would do a number on a coyote, if only I could get one to show itself in one of my tight-range calling setups. I have several rifles chambered in small, fast rounds. The first is a Howa 1500, chambered in .204 Ruger. I have this gun set up with a Hogue rubber stock and a Vortex 8-24x50 scope. It is a very heavy arrangement, but it’s a tackdriver with 32-grain bullets. I bring it for long range setups and night hunting, because of the large-objective scope’s ability to gather moonlight. I have two Tikka T3s, with nice wood stocks. One is chambered in .243 Win, and another in the super-impressive .260 Rem. Because the .243 is set up with a Leupold with super fine crosshairs and a tiny dot, I bring it when I do hunts that aren’t in low light. The .260 has a Leupold 4-12 and is zeroed at 200 yards, so is reserved for longrange setups. I recently bought a gorgeous Remington 700 Mountain rifle with a detachable box magazine. I topped it with a Leupold 3.510x40. Chambered in .25-06, it will make for both a great deer rifle and a great coyote rifle. Lastly, I have an AR-15 I built in .223 Rem. I’m more a fan of a classic hunting rifles than I am of black guns, but I figured if I was going to own a black gun, I should have a hunting use for it. So I put green Hogue furniture (handguard and buttstock) on it,

and topped it with a 1.5-5x20 scope. I have to admit that, with a flush 5-round magazine, it is quite the handy and wieldy little rifle. I bring it on shorter range coyote setups that aren’t short enough for me to cover entirely with my 10-gauge. Success As with deer hunting, I don’t equate success with dead animals. Getting out there and trying something different, in a unique time of year to be in the woods, is rewarding. Coyote hunting brings me to entirely different areas than deer hunting does, and I love seeing new country. I’ve called in a handful of bears and bobcats, and I’ve had other neat ex-

The 50mm objective of the Vortex scope on the writer’s Howa .204 helps to gather light when calling coyotes under moonlight.

periences I won’t soon forget. And for those times when a coyote has actually come trotting out from the thicket

looking for the source of the squeals, that’s about as exciting and rewarding as it gets!

Trophy Gallery

Keenan Charette of Fort Fairfield used a 7mm magnum to harvest this 203lb. buck while hunting on November 14, 2023 in his hometown. The weight, which qualified Keenan for his Biggest Bucks in Maine patch, was certified by meat processor Joe Chasse, who is located on the Limestone Road in Fort Fairfield.

78 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Smilin’ Sportsman

“Dad,” admitted the young boy, “I said a swear word today when I was out ice fishing. I said the ‘D’ word.” “That’s pretty serious, Son. Tell me what happened.” “Well, I drilled the hole, baited the hook and lowered the line into the water, and immediately hooked a big sunken branch.”

“And because of that, you said the ‘D’ word?” “No, I got my hook free, but then it got caught in some weeds.” “And that’s when you said the ‘D’ word?” “No, I pulled it free of the weeds and then a huge trout grabbed the bait. I hauled it right up to the hole in the ice. It was so big that it got stuck halfway out of the hole. Rather than grab it by the gills, I tried to pull it up by lifting the ice fishing trap as high as I could.” “Son, please tell me you didn’t break the damn line!” — Tarzan quickly drank the first martini Jane had made for him, and immediately asked for another. Jane said he’d had enough. “You don’t understand,” implored Tarzan. “It’s a jungle out there!” — Arguing with your spouse is a lot like trying to read the Terms of Use on an internet website.

In the end, you just give up and go, “I Agree.” — Dentist to beautiful patient: “Don’t worry – it’s normal to get nervous during a dental appointment.” Beautiful girl: “But I’m not nervous.” Dentist: “I was talking about me.” — An elderly couple visited another couple for dinner. After the meal, the ladies went out into the kitchen to clean up while the men talked. “My wife and I had good luck ice fishing on a local pond yesterday,” said one. “What was the name of the place?” asked the other. “Hmm. I can’t remember. Let me think ... what’s the name of that red flower with thorns?” “A rose?” “Yeah, that’s it,” came the reply. Then, raising his voice, he called out toward the kitchen, “Hey, Rose, what was the name of that pond where we went ice fishing yesterday?”

�������������������������������������������� The Maine Sportsman • February 2024 • 79

Fishing Delusions If you decide to go for a snowmobile ride, you don’t drain the gas tank first. If you decide to go cross-country skiing, you don’t take just one ski. Nobody planning to do a little ice skating makes sure their blades are as dull as possible before setting out. If you want to engage in most outdoor activities, you don’t deliberately try to make it unnecessarily difficult. Unless you’re going fishing. Then, you’re forced to embrace every conceivable obstacle to make sure you don’t catch any fish. Why is a License Required? I admit my experience with fishing isn’t all that impressive. I had a license for a few years, but even then, I had my qualms about the whole operation. I wouldn’t have needed a license to go hiking. Nobody requires a permit to do a little snowshoeing. Bungee jumping? Just throw yourself off a bridge. Kite flying? Dining al fresco? Sitting on the deck with a beer? No prior approval required. But for some reason, you need a license to fish. You don’t have to pass a test to get it. Any idiot can be cleared to legally fish, including Elvis impersonators, telephone hucksters, and people who post photos of their most recent meal on social media (“Look at that cheeseburger!!!”). I got a license, but I’m certainly not bragging about it. I just figured I could now head for the nearest body of water and scoop up some trout. No Scooping of Trout Allowed Oh wait, that’s illegal, even though scooping with a big net would appear to be the simplest way to catch fish. I know that isn’t allowed, because along with my license I got a book of state regulations about what’s permitted and what’s not. And there was a whole lot more of the latter than the former. Scooping for trout, for instance, is not permitted anywhere. Neither is the use of explosives. You’ve heard of shooting fish in a barrel? That’s seriously frowned upon.

Our columnist bemoans the challenging obstacles involved in catching fish.

“I got a license. I just figured I could now head for the nearest body of water and scoop up some trout. Oh wait – scooping up trout is illegal.”

Al’s Conspiracy Theory I’m sure readers of The Maine Sportsman have long since adapted to the state’s many methods of eliminating all the easy ways to catch water-dwelling creatures with fins and scales. But I’m not so accepting. I wanted to know why the bureaucracy was so hellbent on making life more pleasant for the piscine population than for me. So, I went online in search of conspiracy theories. Here’s what I found. Maine used to be overrun with fish. There were trophy bass in every sizable rain puddle. There were pickerel breeding on wet sponges in kitchen sinks. There were crappies in toilets. But all that changed when our water-dwelling cousins discovered the internet. Suddenly, the fish realized Maine’s weather is much less pleasant than in other states. The taxes here are too high. Little kids pee in the water. As a result, most of the newly-enlightened fish packed up and moved to the New England Aquarium in Boston. The few that remain are employed by the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to make appearances at fishing tournaments and in tourism videos, in order to maintain the myth of

Maine as a haven for exceptional fishing. Maine Fish are Deep Fakes? I sense some skepticism. Many of you may be under the impression you’ve seen or even caught sizable salmon here. However, the ones you’ve spotted are holograms, and the occasional thing you’ve landed is probably a robot drone disguised to look like a fish. Didn’t you notice the faint metallic taste? Any other evidence of big fish is the result of AI-generated deep fakes. Which is all very well if you’re a catch-and-release sort of fisher-person. But, you protest, I’ve cleaned real fish I caught, and they were full of internal organs of the fishy variety. There were fillets. Tails. Eyeballs. Sorry to destroy your fantasies, but the parts you could eat were tofu, and the rest was plastic, all of it planted in microfiber fish skin by happy workers in Asian sweatshops, and then dumped in our rivers and lakes each spring under the guise of stocking. Wooing Fish Back to the State None of this is to say Maine’s government hasn’t made efforts to lure actual fish back to the state. “If you relocate here,” one promotional video claims, “we’ll ban hooks.” Robocalls promise “free nightcrawlers.” Slick mailings advertise “all the mayflies you can eat.” To date, none of this desperate nonsense has had an appreciable effect. Fish, it seems, are a species that believes that anything that looks too good to be true probably is. If they were more gullible, fly fishing would be a lot easier. All of which means that if I want splake for dinner, I’ll probably have to buy some at the market. Although, I’ll almost certainly need a license to do that. Al Diamon writes the monthly column Politics & Other Mistakes for The Bollard magazine.

80 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Trophy Gallery

Zachary Loubier of South China was hunting in his hometown on October 31, 2024 when he dropped this 200-lb, 9-point buck with his .30-’06. He registered and certified the trophy at Tobey’s Grocery on Route 3 in South China.

Suzanne Clement was hunting in her hometown of Bucksport on November 10, 2023 when she used her .308 to tag this 201.5-lb., 10-point buck. Suzanne took the big deer to Snowman’s Grocery, 31 Duck Cove Road in Orland, for weight certification and registration.

Jared Richards of Dedham was bowhunting in Otis on October 18, 2023 when he dropped this 215-lb., 10-pt. buck. Richards, a Maine Sportsman subscriber, took the deer to Bill Melgey of Greenfield Twp for weight certification and processing.

Kaden Doughty of Whitefield earned his Biggest Bucks in Maine patch from The Sportsman for this 207.8-lb., 8-pt. trophy. Kaden was hunting with a .308 on November 11, 2023 in Pittston.

Mitchell DeCosta of Wiscasset was hunting in Alna on November 2, 2023 when he shot this 202-lb., 8-point buck with his .308. DeCosta, a Maine Sportsman reader, brought the deer to Holly Wilkerson of the Gardiner Road in Dresden, for certification.

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— TRADING POST — • Subscribers may place one free 20-word • The regular rates are $15 for up to 20 line classified ad per month (2-month limit) words and 50¢ for each additional word • Items for sale must include a price • Check, money order, MasterCard or VISA (Credit or Debit) are accepted • Real estate ads must include an address or location

• You may submit your ads by: Phone: 207-357-2702 E-mail: Mail: 183 State Street, Suite 101 Augusta ME 04330


CAMPS FOR RENT CAMP RENTAL IN SOLON, ME Deer and Bow hunts. Small game hunting. Fishing. Camp sleeps 4-6. Full amenities, WiFi. $1000 plus tax for 7 days, Sunday to Saturday. 207399-1317. www.buckspointsportinglodge. com. CAMP FOR RENT IN OTIS MAINE Hancock County. Newly constructed cottage on Beech Hill Pond. Great fishing on the lake and plenty of Deer! $150/night. Go to abnb. me/3SBiuJ1WX or call John at 609-377-4091. —



FOR SALE BYORN CABIN CO. NORDIC LOG CABIN KITS Quality European wood windows and doors, easy to assemble and affordable. 207-2713449. —

MISC. LINE-CLASSIFIED FOR SALE AD Place a 20 word TEXT AD for a boat, rod, bow, car, truck or truck cap, firearm, ammo, or other personal item at $10/ month. Send your ad to

CUSTOM WOOD-BURNED SIGNS AND ARTWORK Portraits of camps, pets, wildlife, etc. Check out our Facebook page Emerson’s Remote ReCreations, remotenh.

HAND-CRAFTED ACRYLIC PLEXI ICE FISHING REELS ON HARDWOOD STAKES Five tip-ups for $220. View pictures on Facebook Marketplace. 207728-4740.

THE MAINE SPORTSMAN IS GROWING! Seeking Professional Advertising Sales Account Specialist for The Maine Sportsman on a commission basis, with bonus potential. Tasks: Generating advertising sales and servicing accounts in Northern Maine, NH, VT, MA. Email resume to ads@

DOWN EAST MAGAZINE COLLECTION Start 1989-2013. Over 60 issues. Very Good condition. $100. 207728-4740 —

Augusta Civic Center Augusta, ME Stay tuned to the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show Facebook page and website for updates!

show. mainesportsman .com

SKI DOO, ELAN OR TUNDRA Any Condition. Have Cash. Will Travel. Call or Text 207-522-6940. I’M LOOKING FOR MOOSE OR BEAR MEAT Been looking for 20 years, never found it. If somebody wants to get rid of moose or bear meat from their freezer (up to 4 years old) I can pick it up myself. It is a big appreciation. Call 303-241-6862.

BEAVER COVE – Cozy year-round log cabin with 250’+ of shared beach water frontage on Moosehead Lake. Open concept living and kitchen area with a full bathroom on the main floor. Spacious loft bedroom and second bedroom in the basement. Snowmobiling and ATV trails nearby. Low taxes and town-maintained road. Property has two years of short-term vacation rental history. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity! MLS #1571169 – $399,900 BYRON – One-of-a-kind property! Three furnished cabins on the Swift River, fully equipped for efficient year-round, off-grid living, just minutes from Tumbledown mountain. Property is powered by gas, solar panels, and a generator shed. Main camp boasts 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and the two front cabins each contain 1 bedroom, 1 bath. Garage, shed, and out-buildings for storage. ITS close by and excellent hunting in both zone 7 & 12. MLS #1574474 & #1574475 – $499,000

ADMISSION Adults $15 Child 6–12 $5 Under 6 Free

BELGRADE – Well-loved 2-3 bedroom, 1 bath gambrel home on 8.7 wooded acres with 1000’ private frontage on Great Pond. Screened porch plus an extended dock to launch a boat. First floor boasts additional living space prepped for an in-law apartment – seller offering $5,000 credit towards finishing the in-law apartment. Newly built 28x56 garage with room above. Several outbuildings for storage and stand-by generator, plus a sauna room! MLS#1566446 – $679,000

for the 42nd Annual

State of Maine Sportsman’s Show! APRIL 19-21 2024


Lindsey Brann Associate Broker, REALTOR®

Integrity Homes Real Estate Group 11 Violette Way, Suite 2, Manchester, ME cell 207-441-9317 | office 207-213-6650


FEBRUARY 23–25, 2024 Eastern States Exposition HOME OF THE BIG-E W. Springfield, MA

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82 • February 2024 • The Maine Sportsman —————————————————————————————————————————————

Trophy Gallery


The Genuine. The Original. Serving the Bangor Area Since 1948

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56 Liberty Drive Hermon, ME

(207) 848-2866

Maine Sportsman reader Brian Parkhurst of Solon tagged this 196.5-lb. 10-point buck during Maine’s muzzleloader season. Brian was hunting in Somerset County with his Thompson Center 50-cal. rifle on December 1, 2023. The weight was certified at the Bingham General Store. Photo by Sallie Parkhurst Discover the versatility and convenience of Northeastern’s Camp and Cabin kits. Perfect for vacation homes or retirement retreats, these log cabin kits are easy to build and very affordable. They feature simple, open designs and come complete with pre-cut Eastern White Pine Logs, insulated doors, windows, rafters, roof sheathing and subflooring, plus step-by-step instructions.

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Never Miss Another Issue! Subscribe to The Maine Sportsman by going to Subscribe or calling (207) 622-4242 today!


Caryn Dreyfuss, Broker • (207) 233-8275

RANGELEY – Individually owned condo cabin located just steps to Rangeley Lake! Loaded with North Woods charm, this 4-season cabin offers 1 bedroom, 1 bath, sleeping loft, open living/kitchen/ dining area and is fully furnished. Beautiful westerly views from the covered lakeside porch. Sits on 3 shared acres with 220’ shared frontage on Rangeley Lake with dock, plus 107’ frontage next door with beach area for swimming. New shared sauna. Good rental potential. MLS #1580109 – $309,000 RANGELEY – Scenic 5 acre parcel with 300’ private frontage on the quiet and calm waters of Hunter Cove. Beautiful pastoral setting overlooking open fields and evergreen forest, abutting Sanctuary Farms. Enjoy 4-season recreation from your door. Loaded with wildlife – watch the deer, listen to the loons, gaze at the stars. **Property is not part of Sanctuary Farm Subdivision.** MLS #1567749 – $349,000 LINCOLN PLT – Year-round home very privately sited on 3 pastoral acres with 400’+/- frontage on the Magalloway River and 300’+/- frontage on Alder Stream (river/stream frontage is estimated). Perched on a knoll with commanding river and mountain views, this 3 bedroom home with attached 2 car garage is ideally located to enjoy all four seasons. Detached steel barn to store your gear. This riverside gem is sure to please, inquire today! MLS #1574074 – $699,000


WHY RENT When You Can Lease-to-Own One of Ed’s Sheds? Lincoln – This large lakeside home has an oversized garage, lawn to the lake and a paved driveway right on Mattanawcook Lake. Many mechanical updates completed, leaving cosmetics up to you to make your own. Come take a look today. $250,00

Lakeville – Large cabin is unfinished on the inside and sits on a half acre of land. End of road privacy in quiet, rural location on Duck Lake. It has a one car, drive in full foundation with a 400amp underground electrical feed. $229,000

Carroll PLT – This cute home has beautiful hardwood floors throughout the downstairs, a unique butcher block counter and a newer roof. Easy ATV access and good hunting right on the Main Road. Generac on-demand generator. $125,000

Danforth – Lot offers relaxing sunset’s views, has electricity available at the road and is level and well wooded right on Lower Hot Brook Lake. This is a beautiful, quiet part of northern Maine- ready for you. $99,000 T3 R1 – Brand spanking new cabin with detached woodshed/privy. Deeded across to Bill Green Pond (across the road). Partially furnished and cute as a button. Possible owner financing. $89,900

Handcrafted in Maine

T3 R1 – Remote. Private. Wooded and beautiful. With deeded access to Bill Green Pond, this would be a wonderful place to build your seasonal cabin right off Engstrom Road. POSSIBLE OWNER FINANCING. The driveway is shared with lot 17 and is partially installed. $24,900 Lee – Year round road with electric available on Thomas Hill Road. Well wooded. Near ATV and snowsled trails, with dozens of lakes all within an hour’s drive and being a wonderful place for your getaway cabin, home or the RV. $24,900

207-794-2460 • 1-800-675-2460 R E A L


5 Lake Street, P.O. Box 66 LINCOLN, ME

— Call any of our brokers to work for you! — “Tate” Aylward 207-794-2460 Peter Phinney (207) 794-5466 • Kirk Ritchie (207) 290-1554

Visit for more listings!

Bangor (207) 738-5315

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