Best bucks: The Day-After-Thanksgiving Buck

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                 Dad introduced me to deer hunting on his old farm in North Wayne when I was just 12 years old and in 2013, we hunted there for the 53rd year. That’s where I shot the Day-After-Thanksgiving buck, my favorite deer hunting story. It happened about 20 years ago. I was sitting on a bucket in the woods, behind an old cemetery, and Dad was hunting his way up over a ridge from the farm, towards me.

                It was a very cold and icy day, the ground was frozen, and I heard the tromp, tromp, tromp of a deer coming from a long way off. I got the gun up, aimed for a small opening in the thicket of small fir trees, and when the deer – a huge buck – stepped into the opening, I shot.

Ezra Smith was a real make-do Mainer - and he left us a few messages

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            Every day was a great day for Ezra Smith. In the Hospice Unit at the VA’s Togus facility since April, Dad thrived, thanks to the extraordinary care of the professionals there, and even in his final weeks, when he was on ever-heavier dosages of morphine and slept a lot, when he awoke, he’d exclaim, “Well, this is a great day!”

            I have no doubt, if he could speak here today, he’d tell you, this is a great day.

            Dad asked us to thank everyone who visited, called, and wrote him during his time at Togus. Every contact meant a lot to him. And the things you brought him, in addition to yourselves, delighted him. Roland Preble’s painting – Dad out in the boat fishing. Steve Cowperthwaite’s book of poetry.

Narrow victory on bear referendum indicates trouble ahead

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                 Bear hunting and trapping advocates won another narrow victory this week, 54 percent to 46 percent. Despite polls that predicted a much bigger victory, the No on 1 campaign failed to significantly increase the margin of victory we won in 2004 on the same referendum question.

                And the no vote fell about 75,000 short of the no vote in 2004, a presidential election year with a higher turnout. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, the turnout this year was 593,000, with 313,198 voting no on 1. 734,000 voters cast ballots in 2004, with 389,455 voting no on the bear referendum and 344,322 voting yes.

                Today’s two-mornings-after analysis will focus on the lessons learned from the bear referendum.

Game Mistakes: Swimming for the Big Buck

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 This mistake had a happy ending.

For years I had a favorite spot in woods near the far corner of a small local pond. I could sit inside a rock formation and the deer had only a narrow pathway to go past me along the shore. There were always buck scrapes there, a sure sign that a buck will be along.

It was late November and very cold. I spotted the buck quite a ways up in the woods, and sure enough, he came right to a scrape and straddled it. He was facing me, so I waited until he turned and continued on his way to take my best shot.

I got off three shots before he bounded up and over a small knoll, running along the shore of the pond. I knew I’d hit him, so I gave him some time to lay down, then took off after him. His trail, with lots of blood, was easy to follow, but he surprised me when he turned right, moved out of the woods and into the swale grass alongside the pond.

Fond memories and a farewell to Ezra Smith

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                 My Dad, Ezra Smith, will miss opening day of the deer season tomorrow for the first time in my lifetime. Dad’s lifetime ended this morning at 3:30 am in the Hospice Unit at the Togus Veterans Hospital.

                I shall carry a photo of Dad with me tomorrow, and I’ve already set up a seat for him on the woodlot with his photo attached. I know he’ll be there, watching and waiting.

                At the age of 91, Dad entered the Hospice Unit in April. His time there has been a true blessing, with exceptionally good care. Until the last few days, he was alert and able to spend lots of quality time with us.

Best Bucks (and does): Three years, a funeral, and there he was

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Maine Press Association 2014 Award

Best Sports Blog, 2014

George’s Outdoor News

“Goes beyond the obvious in coverage of outdoor sports and related issues.

Well-written, opinionated, and on point.”


NOTE: This is the first in a series I am writing on my best bucks and does.

Nothing is more important to deer hunting than spending lots of time in an area you hunt. I’m on my woodlot year-round and spend a huge amount of time there in November and December, hunting deer. I know my deer, where and when to find them, and how to hunt them.

Game Mistakes: He was huge and I was shaking

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NOTE: This is the first in a series I am writing about my hunting mistakes. Yes, I've made a lot of them!

I’ve never forgotten this buck. Even after 40 years, I can still see myself sitting on that stonewall, 30.6 in my lap, hearing him coming through the thick firs and brush, just after sunrise.

A lot of the fun of hunting is the anticipation of seeing a deer, and boy, I was enjoying a lot of anticipation at that moment!

I swung left and raised my rifle, still seated, so I’d have a good shot when he stepped out of the firs, but when he did, I just lost it. He was huge!

As he sauntered slowly across the 15 yard opening, I snapped off four shots without thinking. I was shaking so badly that – even though he was only about 30 yards from me – not one of those shots came close to hitting him.

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