Life on the Ridge
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John’s online column for Bangor Daily News outdoor section
The chance for a hunt of a lifetime is once again upon us. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has announced the opening of the 2017 Maine Moose Lottery application process. This year the proposed allocation of 2,140 tags break down like this – 1,815 Bull-only, 220 Antlerless-only and 105 Any-moose permits. Here are some tips to help make it your lucky year.
When I checked my email inbox and saw the message from The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry titled “Maine Lake Ice Out Dates Updated” I just about swooned. While I’m sure ice fishermen would disagree, I look forward to this yearly event that signifies the coming of spring. More importantly, I yearn for the approach of the open water fishing season and the pursuit of my favorite spring and summer pastime – bass fishing.
Ice fishing season in northern Maine is in full swing. Lakes and ponds throughout the region are filling with ice shacks; die hard fisherman staking their claim on the ice like the frontier land rush settlers of yore. Augers have bored access to the lunkers waiting beneath the ice. The tip ups are being set and the jigging rods are in hand.
Ever since the introduction of laws regulating the taking of game and fish, people who rely on wild game for subsistence along with those who fish for sport have unwittingly broken those laws. What started out to be a reasonable and noble attempt at conserving wildlife has morphed into a complex bureaucracy replete with complicated and unintelligible regulations. To make matters worse, stiff penalties and fines are levied by the Maine legislature for innocent mistakes made inside the boundaries of good faith and common sense but outside of Maine’s general fishing provisions and special rule.
It’s no secret that the deer population in Maine has been on a downward trend for several years. While pockets of the state hold decent whitetail numbers, many rural and remote regions continue to see a decline in mature deer. A mild winter and abundant food sources this past year hasn’t changed that as far as I can see. One thing that has changed though is the ratio of predators to deer I see and hear on Tucker Ridge year after year. It’s time for us to get serious about predators.
This time of year there is a lot going on for the Maine hunter. Black bear is still open, archery season for deer is open and firearm season is right around the corner. Ruffed grouse, wild turkey and snowshoe hare are all open right now too.
Opening day of the Spring Gobbler season found a way to sneak up on me this year. Usually, I’m well planned and have my spots scouted and prepared. My gear is sorted through, replacing deer hunting equipment with turkey tools. My slate call is well roughed up and some practice calling has already taken place. This year though, none of that happened. To my surprise however, my procrastination set me up for a day that was a prime example of why Maine is truly the sportsman’s paradise.
Once again, Maine’s citizen ballot initiative process is being corrupted by outside influences. The state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, a spin off of the former New York City billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety lobby, saw it’s anti-gun proposal LD 1662 clear the final hurdle last week in anticipation of getting on the November general election ballot.
Just because the whitetail and moose seasons have long passed us by, it doesn’t mean hunters still can’t hear the call of the wild and feel a yearning for the Maine woods.
For a lot of us, small game takes center stage this time of year, but with vacation time used up, Saturdays become the only day to get afield. If you want to spend all weekend in the woods, here’s how to do it…
Many outdoorsmen love preparing game as much as they do hunting it. I am one of them. Moira and I try to seek out new recipes and ideas to give us variety on the dinner table. Perhaps more importantly, I’m always on the lookout for the best snack ideas. I love snacks!
Enter my most recent endeavor, the venison & pork summer sausage. Sliced into thin wafers and served with a spicy hot mustard or wasabi, it will forever change any venison shy family members or friends.