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.

Alaskans kill bears to save moose

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 Maine’s Game Plan for Deer acknowledges but ignores bear predation of deer. And our declining moose population may make bear predation of moose a growing issue. Here’s how they deal with the problem in Alaska, reported in a story written by Tim Lowry.

FAIRBANKS — For the second year in a row, state wildlife biologists have killed dozens of bears in part of the western Interior as part of a plan to increase the number of moose available for subsistence hunters in the area.

Biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks shot and killed 64 bears — 54 blacks and 10 grizzlies — from a helicopter along the Kuskokwim River near the village of Sleetmute, which is located about 400 miles southwest of Fairbanks.

Federal Jack's and my other favorite pubs

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 It all started here, at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunk.


Shipyard Brewery’s Export Ale is one of my favorite brews, and it was brewed first at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunk in 1992. That history drew us to Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub for dinner in April of 2013 and Linda and I loved it so much we returned the very next day for lunch.

So it wasn’t a hard sell when I suggested that we host some of our kids and grandkids here during our August visit to Ram’s Head Farm in nearby York. Joining us for lunch at Jack’s were son Josh, daughter-in-law Kelly, and new granddaughter Ada, along with daughter Rebekah and grandsons Addison and Vishal.

Josh brews his own tasty beer down in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and once wrote a popular beer blog, so I felt like we were bringing along a real beer expert!

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Kysar Farms in North Dakota disappointed us on this year's pheasant hunt

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 I’m sitting at the kitchen table in the lodge at Kysar Farms, gazing out a window to enjoy a stunning sunset over the distant mountain. There’s a lot to like about North Dakota.

But I’m sorry to report that, as presently managed, Kysar Farms isn’t one of them. This outfitter disappointed us. And we did let them know.

We did like the lodge building on the grounds of the farmhouse and barns. It is very nice, sleeps a dozen in one large room, and has a great kitchen with plenty of cooking implements. The lodge is decorated with beautiful art, from the carpets to the walls. One bathroom for 7 guys was a bit difficult, but we made it work.

While the lodge didn’t have WIFI, disappointing me, I could go over to the farmhouse and sit on the porch and get it, so I was able to keep up with messages and post stories of our hunt and trip.

North Dakota - hot, hot, and hotter

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This is not North Dakota weather. By noon, the temperature was 81 degrees and we were hunting in tee shirts. I have hunted in snow out here and brought lots of warm clothes this trip. Those come in handy, because the temperature yesterday morning when we started hunting at daylight was 37 degrees. But it got hot quickly, and by early afternoon the temperature was 76 degrees.

It was cool this morning, 38 degrees, but as soon as the sun rose, it heated up quickly. Mid-way through our first hunt this morning, I was sweating in my warm clothes and heavy coat.

We didn’t see lots of birds today – even the pheasants seemed to be laying low in the heat.

I shot very poorly, got just one bird in the morning, but then connected on my most difficult shot of the day in late afternoon. I immediately went from despondent, discouraged, hot, and tired, to elated.

North Dakota – pheasants, pheasants, and more pheasants

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Pheasants are not native to North Dakota, but they’ve been in residence for decades and bring lots of enthusiastic hunters to the state every fall, including me. This is my fifth trip and I love everything about it.

The plains are beautiful, the people are friendly, the state economy is booming, the lodge we’ve rented is really nice, the pheasant population is up, and my six hunting buddies are a great bunch: Jim and Jenness Robbins, Pete Williams, and Steve and Donnie Lucas are all Mainers, and Frank Sweeney is the outlier from Massachusetts. But I’ve put Frank through his paces and he’s now qualified as a real Mainer.

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