Westminster has been hit with some hefty snowfall lately. We received about 8" on Sunday, which made for some great football watching (Much to my dismay, the Ravens still managed to beat the Vikings). And today we got another 3" before I left the house for work this morning. I love driving the Tacoma in the snow. The 4WD really hooks up nice! I keep a shovel and a tow strap in the cab with me in hopes of rescuing people who wind up spinning off the road, but this morning's drive in was, sadly, uneventful. Nevertheless, Maryland is entirely peopled with horrible drivers, so I'm sure I'll get my chance if this snow keeps up!
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Well, rifle season (deer) is now open in Maryland. I spent all day Monday, at the Frederick Watershed stalking the elusive whitetail deer. I got in to the woods around 7:00am and worked my way around the northwest corner of the park. I stalked very slowly down a well-worn trail. I was able to move very quietly; stopping often with my eyes and ears wide open, scanning my surroundings, hoping to see some deer. But, as fate would have it; it just didn’t work out that way. I did come across a neat old blind that someone had made out of deadfall. I’ve seen a few of these while hunting the Watershed in the past. This one had a bucket in it, so I sat down for a good hour here. On my way out of the woods, around 11:30am, I jumped one deer but he was buried in thick saplings and the only sight of him, I caught, was a white flag bounding down over a hill. I have no idea if it was a buck or a doe. Still I froze; hoping the deer had stopped to look back. After several minutes of scanning for the deer I determined he was long gone and finished my hike out to the truck. I was starving.
Lunch was a coke, a burger, and a slice of coconut cream pie at a great little diner in Frederick. Very tasty!
I was back in the woods by 1:00pm and chose to hunt the west-central area of the park. I stalked down the same trail where I had missed a deer last year. I didn't see any deer this time, but I did hear one moving around me; though I was stuck behind some thick mountain laurel and couldn’t see anything. I squatted down and waited, listening intently to the steps. I sat there for about ten minutes determining that the sounds I was hearing was, in fact, a deer and not a squirrel. I was sure it was a deer. Eventually I stood and moved out of my cover as quietly and slowly as possible, but must have been seen, for there was no sight of a deer anywhere. Before I knew it, it was 4:30pm, the sun was sinking fast and I had to high-tail it out of there. My flashlight, I remembered to grab before I left the house, sat quietly in the center console of my truck.
Although, I wasn’t able to put my crosshairs on a deer, I enjoyed the hunt. Carrying the Winchester Model 70, my father gave me was a real joy. I passed only two other hunters, and saw only one hunter sitting up on a hill. The woods were cold (40F) but the ground was moist and quiet. I also realized that I am getting better at looking deeper through the woods when I walk. I think that last year, I was looking a little too close, and not far enough out, away from me. Although you’re never going to be able to, completely, sneak up on a deer, per say. I think that if you move slowly and quietly enough, you can catch sight of them before they see you. Or at least; before they get too jumpy. When this happens, I hope to line up on a nice buck!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Sometimes squirrel hunting can be more about staying awake than stalking. Yesterday, I brought Debbie along with me to hunt squirrels at the Patuxent River State Park. I carried my Ruger Mark III pistol and she used my Winchester '94; both are .22s. We didn't see anything, perhaps because it was so chilly and windy but we enjoyed sitting out in the woods talking and joking. We shot a few cans we found laying around and called it a day after only a couple of hours. At one point, I was so comfortable, I nearly fell asleep. This wouldn't be the first time this has happened. I've fallen asleep in the woods quite a few times. I think its because the forest is the most soothing and peaceful place I can imagine. The constant rustle of leaves, warm sunshine and contemplation just put me right out.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Friday, I stopped in to a local antique shop. I pass this shop almost every day and decided I might as well have a look around; you never know what might be in there. Sure enough, there was something there. This old shotgun is nothing special. The owner asked $75 for it, but I ended up talking him down to $50. It is Belgian made and it's an oldie (Imported by the boatload between 1890 - 1910) but its nothing more than an old hunting gun. Stamped on the top of the barrels is BELGIAN LAMINATED STEEL and stamped into the sides of the receiver plates is T PAKRER. The barrels are made of Damascus (twisted, laminated) steel which makes it unusable. The way these barrels were made back in the day, was by twisting strips of iron and steel together, heating those strips red hot and welding the pieces together. The strips were then heated again, wrapped around an iron bar called a mandrel and welded by heating and hammering. The resulting tube was finished into a barrel. Never as strong as a barrel bored from solid steel, those barrels were quite attractive. But the welds were never absolutely solid. Over the years, corrosion from the old primers, and from black powder residue was forced by the pressure of firing into the tiny cracks and crevices between the strips that make up the barrel. Essentially eating away at the metal from the inside out. A Damascus barrel can look good on the outside, and the bore can appear shiny and like new, yet the metal inside can look like orange lace from the years of rusting away, unseen.
But, it is a pretty gun, its a simple old hammer gun with a nice shape. Perhaps it was a gun that regularly put food on the table or perhaps someone's absolute favorite gun. For me, it will be a wall hanger and a neat piece of history.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
|Nature using synthesized nature as a habitatual asset?|
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I'm working nights this week. So, I'm fixing little odds and ends that go untouched during the regular work week. Yesterday I patched the hole in the deck of our push mower before wheeling it out to the shed for its winter slumber. (Rest well my little mower. ... I'm, most likely, taking you to the dump in the spring!) We bought this push mower, used, for $50 this spring. It's really on it's last legs. I thought pop-riveting a Natty Boh can patch to its side, was the least I could do, as a sign of respect, for this "keep on truckin'" mower.
Monday, November 11, 2013
I woke up at 7:00am this morning and stepped out side into the cool morning air. It's a beautiful Monday morning in Westminster, Maryland. The sun poked through the row of pine trees in my back yard and long narrow swaths of sunlight stretched out across the dew soaked lawn. A stiff breeze lifted and rolled our flag perched on the side of the carport and I suddenly realized how fortunate I am to live in this country. I'll probably never fully agree with the way the country operates, or who's really in charge, but I will always be grateful to have been born an American. Moreover; grateful to those who have fought and who still fight to protect our freedoms (however fast those with power try to remove them from us).
So, this Veterans Day, I'd like to thank my brothers, my father, my grandfather, my uncles, my cousins, my coworkers and friends that have served our country, putting it all on the line, so that I can walk outside and be at peace and enjoy the life of a free American.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
|I like to carry this simple compass I picked up in Japan.|
Yesterday marked the last day of muzzleloader season here in Maryland. I was in the woods from 7:00am to 11:00am, at the Frederick Watershed. I took advantage of muzzleloading this year because it got me an extra couple of weeks of hunting. In those two weeks, I got out three times; better than nothing I suppose. Still; no deer! Why is it that I nearly tater deer on the way to and from work, but when I go out early in the morning and hunt in their true habitat, they essential vaporize? Its not like I’m doing anything incredibly wrong. I’m not sitting at the base of a tree playing the harmonica and smoking stogies, hoping something happens by. I’m as quiet as a mouse and careful of my scent. Oh well, what can I say? I have fun out there, attempting to best the cunning and elusive white tail. We'll see how the regular rifle season goes. I really do enjoy myself out there and the scenery was beautiful as usual. Temps were in the mid 30’s, but I was quite warm. I picked up a pair of insulated coveralls which are really comfortable and warm. It’s nice not having to wear long johns under my pants with these. Instead, I just wear my pants and when I get to where I’m hunting, I slip on these coveralls. I also snagged a pair of three-finger, military surplus mittens. They’re warm as hell and keep my trigger finger free to move.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Thursday afternoon, I left work and drove out to Maryland's Eastern Shore. It was the opening day of deer season, for muzzleloader, and my friend Phil had invited me down to his camp, which he fondly refers to as "The dump". This is my first season hunting deer with a muzzleloader. With the regular deer season in Maryland being only two weeks long, opting to hunt with a muzzleloader gives you about three more weeks’ worth of deer hunting. You may recall that Phil is the one who picked my muzzleloader up for me a few weeks back; a simple but nice .50 caliber, inline rifle made by CVA. He’s been a strong supporter of my movement into the realm of black powder hunting. Needless to say, I was glad when he invited me down to his camp where more than a few big buck have been taken from his 70-acre plot of woods.
I reached the camp around 5:00pm. The camp has character; a dingy old trailer sat proudly at the end of the double-track driveway. A handmade (welded) wood stove made from an old piling, stood next to an old picnic table. Yellow well pump wiring made its way from the trailer, out to a nice gas generator tucked off to the side. A spreader hung from a yardarm that showed signs of years of use. I’d learn later, the number of deer, and the stories of their demise, that have hung from it in the past. Phil’s good friend Tommy was milling about the camp, gearing up to head out into the woods for the evening hunt. He greeted me with a warm smile and a firm handshake. I learned quickly that Tommy was “good people”. I hadn’t had a chance to get to the range to sight in my rifle but Tommy helped me laser-bore site it the quick and dirty way; turns out it was pretty much “on” already. So, I geared up, and followed Tommy’s directions back into a nice tree stand overlooking some hardwoods on the edge of a field. When the sun had set low enough that I couldn’t see my sights, I climbed down from my stand and made my way back to the trailer.
When I got back, the generator was humming and the camp was nicely lit. Christmas lights on the trailer added a certain savoir faire to the whole redneck ambiance. We all cracked open beers and sat around the fire sharing stories, jokes and having a good time. Debbie had baked one of her classic treats; a chicken pot pie, and given it to me to bring to camp, so I cut three slices, wrapped them in foil and heated them up on the wood stove. It was delicious; really hit the spot! By 10:30pm I was pretty well pickled and ready for bed. We all turned in. I opted for the couch which looked really comfortable, but lacked any type of cushioning and felt much like I’d imagine sleeping on a ladder would feel. Hard rungs pressed into my shoulders, hips and feet; still I drifted off to sleep with ease.
The next morning we were all out in our stands before dawn. Squirrels were everywhere, yet I did not see any deer. I quickly became used to the scurrying sound of squirrels in the leaves, yet perked up every time they would pounce slowly from one spot to another; a sound similar to the gate of a deer. After a few hour of watching the squirrels I pulled my .22 pistol from my game bag and loaded a round into the chamber. They were getting closer and closer to my stand and I figured and easy shot at one of them was worth taking. I ended up shooting two of them; one through the head, the other through the shoulder at about 20 yards. When I got back to camp, I cleaned them, put them in a zip-lock bag and threw them in the cooler.
After running in to town for lunch at a diner, Phil and Tommy wanted to get a little maintenance out of the way while we were at the camp. The plot of land they own is quite dense. Thicket and brush make it tough-going, but the land was logged in 2007 and the old logging roads serve as a means to hunt the whole place. Several trees had fallen and need to be cleared in order to keep the roads mowed and manageable. So, we took the chainsaw and the tractor back in to the woods and took care of business. All was going well, until a hydraulic line on the tractor blew, covering Tommy with oil. It was the supply line used to raise the bucket on the front of the tractor. A little redneck ingenuity, a rubber glove, zip-ties and some duct tape had the line patched up good enough for Tommy to high-tail it back to the camp before the bucket lowered all the way to the ground!
The rest of the day was spent cutting firewood, firing a new .308 I had just bought and generally relaxing until the evening hunt. That hunt, went much like the one in the morning; lots of squirrels but no deer. No deer that I could see, that is. I would not be surprised if deer walked past me in the dense brush. But it was still great, just to be out there. I always seem to find something neat walking through the woods, be it deer antlers, a bird nest etc. This time, I found a small wood turtle shell. Things like this just make the whole experience great for me. Though my rifle held a charge and a bullet I hadn't fired it over the last two days. Before leaving Saturday morning, I fired my muzzleloader at a target 60 yards away. It hit 1" high of the bulls-eye; good enough for me! I really enjoyed myself and the company of Phil and Tommy at the camp. Phil summed it up best when he said “We don’t always get deer down here, but we have a hell of a good time!”