I get a lot of enjoyment out of putting out my game cam and seeing what I can catch on film. I’ll save left over food from home to put out to see what predators come in, and recently, my friend Peter had a great idea for a do it yourself long term game feeder. Like all good ideas it’s simple and easy to do. Just take a PVC pipe and cut it to a desired length – the one Peter made that I tried was about 5 feet in length and will hold a 50 pound bag of grain or more. You could increase the length to be able to add more grain and save yourself trips out to the feeder. The key is to place the bottom of the tube at ground level or just a millimeter or two above – that way the grain isn’t all over the ground in the elements, and critters can paw at the bottom to get more food taking advantage of gravity flow. It works a lot better, in my opinion, than the timed broadcast feeder I bought a number of years ago from Cabelas – with the broadcast feeder it’s spewing out food that is not being eaten and I would often arrive to fill the feeder to find the entire contents had been emptied onto the ground without being eaten. With this much simpler and cheaper method, the food stays put – dry and protected until something actually comes by to eat it. You can see in the pictures below that I attached the pipe to the tree with just a ratchet strap, you could also use duct tape or a number of other methods. You can also paint the PVC pipe if you feel so inclined. For the top you can use any number of items that can cover the hole to keep the elements out – I cut the top off a plastic whiskey bottle and put it over the top and it worked great. Peter made a few of these, and I put one out for a week – I set it up quickly with just the ratchet strap and there wasn’t a feed store open on the Sunday that I put it out, so I simply put in 10 pounds of guinea pig feed I grabbed at Wal Mart. Corn or sweet feed for horses or any type of grain will work. In a weeks time I had 69 pictures, the guinea pig feed was completely gone and the ground at the bottom of the feeder was pawed and dug up. Here are some of the best pics that I got, taken on a wildgame camera – reasonably priced as far as game cameras go, and takes good pictures -
I also wanted to add a disclaimer that feeding wildlife, especially deer over the long term is not a good idea. I have witness several deer over the years that have died from malnutrition in the winter because of “good samaritans” that thought they were helping by putting out food. There are some very good reasons listed here. It should only be done on a limited short term basis.
Maine’s people have always been a fiercely independent group. It’s still possible here to buy a piece of land and live self dependently. The epitome of how a tried and true Mainer thinks is beautifully represented in the film Dead River Rough Cut, following Walter Lane and Bob Wagg and documenting their way of life, trapping beavers, cutting trees, and reflections on life.
If you live in Maine you should see it because it will remind you of someone you know or knew – if you don’t live in Maine you should see it because it will give you an understanding of life in the Maine Woods, and although it is disappearing, there are still people who live this lifestyle. Ironically, the film has the distinction of being the most requested film in the Maine Prison system. Why? My opinion is because the lifestyle in the movie represents what it truly means to be “free”. I have known plenty of people just like Walter and Bob over the years, and I have at least one friend that lives similar to this today.
The film is a reality film made long before reality movies and TV were in vogue, and the Maine accents are priceless. One of the more striking parts of the film is the recitation of Robert Service’s poem The Cremation of Sam Mcgee by Walter in front of the fire, who recites it by memory.
The Cremation of Sam McGee
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows. Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows. He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell; Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail. Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see; It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow, And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe, He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess; And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”
Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan: “It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold, till I’m chilled clean through to the bone. Yet ’tain’t being dead — it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains; So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”
A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail; And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale. He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee; And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven, With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given; It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains, But you promised true, and it’s up to you, to cremate those last remains.”
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code. In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load. In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring, Howled out their woes to the homeless snows — Oh God! how I loathed the thing.
And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow; And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low; The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in; And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay; It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.” And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum; Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”
Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire; Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher; The flames just soared, and the furnace roared — such a blaze you seldom see; And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so; And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow. It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why; And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear; But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near; I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside. I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and said: “Please close that door. It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear, you’ll let in the cold and storm — Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
I was reminded too of the bastardized names that seem so prevalent here – in the film when Walter is feeding a bird out of his hand he calls it a “pisspot”. A couple of others I can think of are “shitpoke” for Great Blue Heron, and “shag” for a comorant.
All in all it’s good film. Representing the ingenuity, work ethic, ruggedism, individuality and independence that was and still is present here in the great state of Maine.
I gently slid my hand over the photograph and stood in awe as I looked around, excited to be in the same building as my Great Uncle Felix Fernald had been during the romantic era of the Maine Northwoods Lumbermen. Ok, he was actually a time-keeper there, but to my young imagination he was a river runner, riding down the rivers on the log drives of the spring and living the high life of a Maine woodsman and he had worked in the very building I was now standing in.
I was on a Boy Scout canoeing and camping trip,it was my first time exploring the North Woods of Maine, and we were at Seboomook High Adventure Base at Pittston Farm which is now a motel, restaurant and camping area. But back then, it was my gateway to the Maine woods, and as we paddled down the west branch of the Penobscot River and went over Roll dam in just a lifejacket, the lure of Northern Maine was born in me, and that week we explored the river I was a river driver on the spring freshet.
Going over Roll Dam - West Branch Penobscot
I have explored a lot of Northern Maine since that day, and one of the things I have always enjoyed is looking for bits of it’s history, especially it’s logging history. I was fascinated with the locomotives and the tramway on the Allagash River and I especially enjoyed reading about the hermit on Chesuncook Lake, which I wrote about in The Chesuncook Lake Gun. Northern Maine is timeless history…it is the same as it always was.
What images does Northern Maine conjure up for you? Maine has always been a state of rough wilderness with people known for their self reliance, individuality, ruggedness, and a sense of independence. People come here to experience the rougher end of wilderness living. The adventures people have in Maine are chronicled in countless books and magazines. A wilderness experience is what Northern Maine is all about, and that experience for most includes some sort of “traditional use”.
When it comes to the people of Maine, you hear the words “traditional use” a lot. But what does traditional use really mean? For me, it has it’s origins from an unwritten Wilderness code of ethics among early woodsmen which basically stated that – my cabin is unlocked. Should you find yourself in need of it for the night, please use it. Replace the firewood that you use. Leave food if you can, and leave it in as good or better condition than you found it. Those were the beginnings of traditional use. And to some extent it still exists today. It’s funny, when I bought property in Greenbush, there were 9 lots that were for sale, about 40 acres each. Within a short amount of time, 7 lots had no trespassing signs on them, and two did not. Guess which lots were purchased by Mainers. My property there will, as long as I live, remain unposted, and it made me happy a few years ago to hear a brace of beagles in the cedar bog on the lower end of the property chasing a rabbit. Also, Maine still has the rather unique rule that if property is not posted, then a person has the right to access it, unless asked to leave by the landowner. Folks not from here sometimes have a problem grasping that. Traditional use also means access for hunting, fishing,trapping, and in later years snowmobiling.
The paper companies including Great Northern understood the woodsman rules and traditional access and left there land open to it. You could do pretty much whatever you wanted, as long as you stayed out of the way of the logging trucks. I have a picture somewhere of me standing under the trailer of one of the Great Northern tandem wood haulers on the Golden Road – truly a leviathan of the woods.
Lately I fear for Maine and the changes that people are trying to make here to further their own agendas. Maine has been dividing for some time across North and South boundaries….and the phrase The Two Maines is more meaningful than ever. So, if you are reading this from a place south of Bangor, and have never visited Northern Maine I challenge you to take a road trip – Visit the Allagash and St John – take the woods roads from Portage to Madawaska and see for yourself the vastness of the region. Find out for yourself that it is open for everyone to use, whether you are a hunter, or a cross country skiier.
One of the changes that has been proposed off and on since the 193o’s is a Northern Maine National Park. Northern Maine doesn’t need a National Park – why? Because they already HAVE one – it’s called The North Maine Woods Inc. Imagine! Landowners working together to allow traditional access and traditional use – biking, hiking, skiing, hunting, ITS snowmobile trails, leases for your very own cabin, fishing, trapping, or just hanging out doing what you want. THAT my friend is Democracy at it’s finest. Landowners working together for the greater good of everybody. Reasonable fees, maintained roads, boat launches. It’s almost a utopia. And it WORKS. If you haven’t been, you should visit before you ever make a decision in your mind about a National Park there. Speaking of which, think about it -would you really want the increased regulation, increased law enforcement, and closure of traditional use and access?? Why would anybody want to change to that??
The latest person to want to change that is Roxanne Quimby, who has proposed a National Park on her property abutting Baxter State Park, which most people feel, as do I, should she be successful it will be a toe hold for the 3.2 million acre park that Restore has proposed. Roxanne herself describes the approximately 60,000 acre parcel as a “seed”. And yes, I at one time sported the bumper sticker that said Restore Boston – Leave Our Maine Way of Life Alone! I think those stickers should, and probably will be making a comeback here shortly.
And, I have a little secret to share with you that most people do not know about Baxter – One of the reasons Governor Percival Baxter created Baxter State Park was to STOP IT FROM BECOMING A NATIONAL PARK. Governor Baxter had the vision to know back in the 30′s that a National Park in that region was not the right thing to do. Baxter Park is for the people of Maine. And, if you are from Maine it is FREE TO ACCESS!! Camping of course is a small fee per night. I think I would be waiting a long time at the Acadia National Park tollbooth arguing that I should get in for free because I’m local.
And you know, I probably wouldn’t have a problem if Roxanne donated her parcel to Baxter Park – in fact, I would urge her to consider it if she is intent on preserving her piece of property. Baxter is self sufficient, they do not take money from the state. And guess what – Baxter State Park understands Traditonal Use. That’s right, you are allowed to hunt in the north end of the Park. Personally, I could live with the changes that giving her parcel of land to Baxter would bring, and I would urge Roxanne to consider it, but she won’t because her goal is the 3.2 million acre National Park.
Why? To use her words; “I feel like my reason for being put on this earth will have been fulfilled because this ( a National Park in Maine) will live on after me. A park is a demonstration that there is something in America that I can love.”
That is why she wants a National Park – to be famous and to be remembered. Another George Dorr if you will. She wants a legacy which sadly will only be the division and turmoil that she has brought to the people of Maine with this issue, whether she succeeds or not.
Further – I find it extremely ironic that, to use her words, “To me, ownership and private property were the beginning of the end in this country. Once the Europeans came in, drawing lines and dividing things up, things started getting exploited and over-consumed. But a park takes away the whole issue of ownership. It’s off the table; we all own it and we all share it. It’s so democratic.”
Seriously??? No really… Seriously??? From where I’m sitting, the North Maine Woods is open to me any time I want to visit, and to do whatever I want to do by a group of landowners working together..in DEMOCRACY. The only person I see dividing lines, dividing things up, and closing access is Roxanne herself. You can see what some of her property closure looks like here, And a lot more information regarding Roxanne here.
A National Park in no way takes away the issue of ownership. It means the Federal government owns it. The Federal Government that can’t run any program successfully, that is mired in debt, and can’t even balance a budget. That’s who you want owning more land in Maine? I surely don’t.
Briefly, here are the reasons I think that another National Park in Maine is a ludicrous idea;
-first and foremost, traditional uses would be eliminated. Snowmobiling alone added 300 million + in sales tax revenue to the state. From the Bangor Daily News 11/23/11;
Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said snowmobiling in Maine is a $300 million to $350 million business responsible for 23,000 jobs statewide.
That doesn’t include the tax figures on hunting supplies and income from other traditional access. Any income generated by a National Park will go out of state to the Feds, just like in Acadia.
- The tax base. Putting that land into the hands of the Feds means taxes are going to go up for Piscataquis county, and more counties if the larger National Park is successful.
- Lost Economy from the woods industry. Personally I don’t believe Millinocket is down and out yet. In the current economy we’re all suffering, and I think an interested buyer will eventually get the mills up there running again, and profitable. (Note that since first writing this post, someone has bought the mills and put them back in operation). To use the statistics from the Maine Woods Coalition website;
Maine Department of Conservation Commissioner Ron Lovaglio stated at the Maine Woods Conservation Easement Forum that the wood products extracted from the 3.2 million acres of forestland in the Maine North Woods adds approximately $986,000,000 to the Maine economy each year through wages and sales of products and services. According to the Maine Office of Tourism, the typical overnight visitor to our region spends $85/day. To make up for the loss of productivity of locking up 3.2 million acres of forestland, a National Park would have to bring 11.6 million ADDITIONAL tourists to the region. Nothing the woods industry has ever done would have a greater impact to the rural character of Piscataquis County (population roughly 17,000) than such an increase in tourism. Commissioner Lovaglio wondered aloud how big the tollbooth would have to be in Kittery. In Greenville, we wonder how big the mound of trash will be each day at the rest area just outside of Town).
And I wonder how on earth you would get that many tourists to come to the region. Acadia attracts only 3 million per year and is one of the top visited Parks in the Nation. And lets face it, in the area Roxanne has proposed, what exactly is there that a tourist may want to see? I’ve lived a stone’s throw from Acadia National Park for most of my life, and it’s ACADIA – there are the carriage roads, vistas, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, lobsters, Bar Harbor…the tourist draw list for the region is endless. Acadia would be an attraction for tourists whether there was a Park here on not. Bar Harbor would be successful just like Camden or Rockland because of what we have here. Baxter is successful because of it’s uniqueness too – Katahdin of course being the biggest draw and the other unique mountains. What does Roxanne’s property, a working forest, have to offer that anyone would want to come see? People come there to hunt, fish and snowmobile…and use as timberland. Which a National Park would stop. In addition, Baxter Park and The Allagash have been showing a decline in users for some time now. A National Park isn’t going to stop that trend when there is nothing unusual or unique. There is certainly nothing there to compete with Baxter or Acadia.
And lets face it – any jobs brought to the area will be seasonal, just like they are here in Acadia. There are plenty of people here that struggle in the winter. Hence the old Bar Harbor joke – I landed here a number of years ago and never made enough money to leave.
In addition – the State Legislature has adopted a resolution against a feasibility study;
JOINT RESOLUTION MEMORIALIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THE UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO OPPOSE THE CREATION OF A NATIONAL PARK IN MAINE’S NORTH WOODS
WE, your Memorialists, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Legislature of the State of Maine now assembled in the First Regular Session, most respectfully present and petition the President of the United States, the United States Secretary of the Interior and the United States Congress as follows: WHEREAS, Maine residents and visitors enjoy the privilege of using large tracts of private land in the north woods for recreational uses such as snowmobiling, hunting, hiking, fishing, bird watching and other activities; and WHEREAS, the future of that private land is of great importance to the people of Maine and their outdoor heritage; and WHEREAS, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and many of the large landowners have entered or are entering into cooperative wildlife management agreements that ensure the future of deer yards and other critical wildlife habitat in the north woods; and WHEREAS, state agencies, private landowners and nonprofit organizations are cooperating in an unprecedented effort to secure permanent rights of access to the north woods and keep valuable recreational property and natural habitat undeveloped through conservation easements; and WHEREAS, federal ownership or control of the north woods would create many problems including limitations on timber supply to the forest products industry, reduced recreational access and loss of local and state control of these areas; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, oppose the creation of a national park in Maine’s north woods and request that the President of the United States and Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar deny requests to conduct a feasibility study concerning establishing a national park in Maine’s north woods; and be it further RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Honorable Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, to the Secretary of the Interior, Kenneth Salazar, to the President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and to each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation.
And the Millinocket Town council has weighed in as well;
WHEREAS, Maine’s working forest has been the major economic force in northern Maine for over 400 years and is Maine’s leading industry; and,
WHEREAS, the creation of a national park in this part of the State would effectively eliminate a large portion of the forest products industry, cause a major collapse of the area’s economic base, and force the relocation of thousands of people needing new employment; and,
WHEREAS, Baxter State Park was created by former Governor Percival Baxter in part to thwart efforts in the 1930s to develop a national park in the area and his park has served this area well without the undue intrusion a national park and its regulations would cause; and,
WHEREAS, there are no outstanding characteristics or unique attractions outside Baxter to justify creation of a national park here; and,
WHEREAS, the private ownership of land and the public use of land is a Maine tradition and way of life worthy of preserving; and,
WHEREAS, the vast majority of people in this area clearly do not support such a national park;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Millinocket Town Council officially re-affirms the Town’s opposition to the creation of a new national park in northern Maine, and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Millinocket Town Council requests the Governor of Maine to affirm and the Members of the Maine Congressional Delegation to re-affirm their opposition to such a national park.
In my mind no means no. But this issue is not going to go away you can be sure of that, and outside interests along with outside money will be here soon to champion it.
There is a lot to the National Park proposal story that you may not have thought about – educate yourself – please. Join or at least investigate the Maine Woods Coalition – look at their links page. Think about who has made statements against a National Park and why – what are their motivations? What is Roxanne’s motivation? Why wouldn’t she consider giving the land to Baxter? Who do you think really has Maine’s best interest at heart? Certainly Governor Baxter did.
Sign up for Dont fence me in. Read about Percival Baxter’s wild and free vision and realize he had the vision to know a National Park was a bad idea. Support the idea that those who close access to their property should pay higher taxes. Don’t fall for a narcissists’ agenda, or the minions that have. Look at Roxanne’s past actions including taking her business and jobs out of state. We can and will weather this, just as we as Mainers, have since the 30′s. Seriously think about it, and think about who has Maine’s best interest in mind.
Update 11/9/11 – I’m not sure how much clearer it can get than this;
EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Voters overwhelmingly opposed a National Park Service feasibility study of Roxanne Quimby’s proposed 70,000-acre national park, voting 513-132 against the idea in unofficial totals compiled late Tuesday, Town Clerk Erica Ingalls said.
I think Maine is especially unique, and that uniqueness has always been what has drawn me to this state and instilled my desire to live here. Maine has always been a state of rough wilderness with people known for their self reliance, individuality, ruggedness, and a sense of independence. Over the years however, Maine has become increasingly divided along many avenues. I tried to put forth some of it, or at least a microcosm of it in PO Box 311 but I’m not sure how successful I was in getting the point across.
I like that things are different here, and that we don’t fit into any of the big box thinking that happens in more urban areas. It makes me feel unique. For example, when the Federal Government mandated reservoir water filtration in the early 1990′s, the town I live in got a waiver because in all seriousness..having an expensive filtration system was just not necessary here. I like that Maine by and large still represents individual freedoms, one example being that despite threats from the Federal Government to withdraw funding for certain things, Maine still extends the middle finger their way when it comes to motorcycle helmet laws. I’m not going into citing all of them here, but the statistics back up that a large percentage of motorcycle accidents happen during the first year one has a license. Therefore Maine has a mandatory helmet law while on a learners permit, and for the first year you have your license. And while when I had a motorcycle I often chose to wear a helmet, I dearly loved those sultry July nights riding with the wind in my hair and no one else on the road but me and I’m so thankful that I had the freedom to experience it.
Maine has been slowly dividing for some time and there is always the occasional smattering of secession brought up here and there. If you took a random sampling of Mainers, and asked them where the dividing line was I’ll bet that the general consensus would be Bangor. Therefore most people would already be in agreement as to how to divide up the state along north and south lines – which I would think would be a major issue already overcome. I doubt that it will ever happen, but sometimes it’s fun to think about. I don’t think someone from Portland has any business at all voting on something that will effect someone that lives in the Allagash, and vice versa. I would suspect that a good percentage of the Southern Maine folks are originally from another state and carry with them the big box thinking they were brought up with. The dilemma is spelled out eloquently and beautifully in essay form, in a series of books beginning with First Person Rural by Noel Perrin.
It details the dilemma of folks from away moving into rural Vermont for the “charm” and then trying to change everything because they don’t like the smell of the neighbors pigs and some of the other finer details of rural life. As Noel says you should have to live here for 10 years before you’re even allowed to vote…amen. I’ve never been much of a political person, other than voting for who I wanted, but that all changed over an issue that divided Maine along it’s Bangor North/South boundary in 2004. That issue was the bear referendum. Funny thing is, I didn’t and don’t even hunt bears (other than trying for two seasons when the referendum came up)…I just don’t really have any interest. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, and it is extremely emotional on both ends of the spectrum, hear me out, and let me tell you from experience that it isn’t easy. The specific issue was hunting over bait, with hounds, and trapping. This incensed me because by and large, voters would be voting on emotion, and not common sense and the opposition, which was largely from out of state, played on that emotion at every opportunity. This is an exact parallel to what Noel Perrin was talking about in his essays. When the referendum came up I had never tried to harvest a bear before, by any method. But, when I realized that I may lose the freedom to chose whether or not I could, I bought my license, and the proper gear and tried to trap one before I couldn’t anymore. Now this wasn’t just some half cocked plan. Although I don’t go much anymore, I do have almost 10 years experience as a trapper, and I do know what I’m doing. I contacted some folks that do go, and learned their techniques. I gave it a shot…and I failed. Two seasons in a row. So, if perhaps part of the issue for you is unfair advantage, it’s just not true.
In any event, I was incensed that a group of people and outside interests wanted to take away something from the people of Maine. Something that makes us special. In my opinion, and I suspect Noel Perrin would agree with me, if you disagree or have a problem with hunting methods – live in a state that caters to your beliefs. Against trapping? Massachusetts and Colorado agree with you. Why can’t there be just one place left where you can do those things? Why is it some people always want to try to take away something from others just because they personally have a problem with it? I got involved in the process as much as I could including writing the following letter to the director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine.
My beloved grandfather instilled in me the desire to live and love the outdoor life, back when a woodsman and a hunter were considered to be a special person. I guess I can’t put it into words better than “special person” but I think you may know what I’m talking about. Hunting, fishing, trapping, camping and canoeing stories were always being told in the garage, where my grandfather went to get away from everyone, smoke, and drink “apple juice” (whiskey). Everybody loved him and he was what you would call a character here in Maine. My grandfather grew up in a time in this state when there was little work and if you did not get a deer in the fall you did not eat well, and for some, a fur check meant whether you had christmas or not. Unfortunately he was too old to take me hunting but his stories and my imagination took me afield as a boy. He died shortly before my seventeenth birthday and I recieved his present in the mail – a new mackinaw plaid hunting jacket, with $20 bills in each of the pockets. I inheritited his Winchester lever action .30-.30 and when I was able to get a hunting license I took it aflield. I had to learn a lot by trial and error, but eventually the day came when I was on the track of a big buck. I tracked him for hours and I knew I was close, and I asked my grandfather for help to get my first deer. Shortly thereafter, he broke from cover on my left. Had he gone left I never would have seen him but he went to my right in a semi-circle around me and I had time to steady myself aim and fire. When I realized he was down I began to shake uncontrollably from the excitement and I thanked the deer for his life and my grandfather for his help. He was 8 points, and 230 pounds. I will never forget that day. I saved the shell and in the spring, buried it at my grandfathers headstone.
I always believed the media when it came to trapping- I thought it was cruel as they told me it was, yet one day I decided to give it a try to see for myself. I got a trapping license, joined the Maine Trappers Association, and learned how to trap, and immediately learned that the media was wrong. The reason I am writing this to you is I am terrified of the upcoming referendeum. I have never previously had the desire to hunt or trap for bear but I understand the implications should this referendum pass. I have given as much as I can afford to the coalition, and explained the facts to those that want to listen. I wish the general public realized that the foot snares used on bears is the same device used by the state to perform research studies and does not harm the bear. In closing, I read in today’s paper about the possibility of a constitutional amendment that any voter initiatives related to hunting, fishing, or trapping must pass by a 2/3 supermajority, and I think regardless of what happens with the referendum Maine needs that amendment.
I still shake my head to think there are actually people in Maine that want to take my rights away as a hunter. I wonder what my grandfather would think.
There are a few things left out, but essentially that’s the brunt of it. I received a nice reply from their office, asking for permission to put it in the newsletter, and that I had made them cry in the office. Thankfully the referendum did not pass, and the amendment requiring issues surrounding hunting, fishing, and trapping never made it anywhere either which is too bad. Most people these days live so far outside of the “basics” that they have no idea what it would take to survive on their own any more.
There are some great thoughts on the issue of bear baiting here.
Things have calmed down since then, and the outside interests have moved on. I know this because after a certain op-ed appeared in the local newspaper I searched for the author and had a lengthy email discussion with them. The person moved here specifically for championing the referendum, and left shortly after it was not passed, as did the others. Particularly infuriating, and thankfully most of Maine voted on the science. However, this is just one issue. There will be others coming down the line you can be sure of that. And I think something needs to change – Portland has such a high population of people, folks in Northern Maine can be easily outvoted on issues that are important to them. Northern Maine retains the self reliance, individuality, ruggedness, and a sense of independence, whereas Southern Maine has only vestiges of its former history, and neither Northern or Southern should be voting on issues that are regionally specific to one another….The two Maines.
Keeping chickens for eggs and meat is not only fun, it’s easy and cheap too. And, if you manage things right you only have to buy them once. The first thing you need is housing for your chickens. Chickens will thrive in almost any coop, and there are a myriad of options and plans available out there. I used a fast framer kit which allows someone without a lot of carpentry skills to build a building without having to worry about cutting angles properly.
There are also lots of ideas on square footage per chicken – the coop I built was about 56 square feet, and typically chickens need about 3-5 square feet per bird to be comfortable, so technically my coop should hold about 10-18 birds comfortably, although over the winter I kept about 6 for my needs, and 25 for the summer months. Murray McMurray hatchery is what I used to buy my chickens and equipment to feed and water them. You have to order 25 birds at at time and they come through the mail. Murray McMurray also usually sends you a free gift exotic bird as well. There are special feeders for the baby chicks so they don’t stand or poop in the food bin, and they need to have a heat lamp without a draft over them. The lamp has to be placed so that they can move under it to get warm, and be able to move away from it if they get hot. After about 4 weeks, they’re ready to move into the coop. Baby chicks get medicated chick starter for food in the beginning. I keep mine on it for a couple of weeks, and then switch over to chick starter until they are old enough for laying pellets.
Here is a pretty good video on setting up a brooder, I like the plastic tote idea.
Murray McMurray’s website has lots of useful free information for the beginner, and there is lots of good information here. There are several breeds of chickens that work well for both meat and eggs, my favorite is Rhode Island Reds. If you order 25 straight run (straight run is unsexed, cheaper, and about 50% male and female) and keep one of the roosters, in the spring you can hatch your eggs using a incubator or a broody hen, and raise them for the summer for the freezer in the fall, recycling your laying hens from the previous year. Here is how my coop looked;
There is a window on the side and the back, where it gets the most sun each day. In books you may find that people “light” chickens to keep them at 14 hours of light per day after natural light drops below that point, but I never have, and although egg production slows during the winter months it never stops. The door for the chickens is on the left side of the coop – just a small door for them to come out each morning. Your chicken door needs a good latch though – raccoons are excellent at figuring out how to open things. On the front door there is a piece of wood that can be lifted off and underneath it is hardware cloth for ventilation during the summer months. As long as your coop is well built, and does not have any drafts it does not need to be insulated. Here in Maine the winters get pretty cold, and my chickens survive just fine. If you feel that you really want insulation, it needs to be inside a wall, chickens will pick it all apart. My chickens were free range, that is to say I did not have them fenced in and they were free to forage for the day, returning to the coop at dark, where I would latch them in for the night. You need roosts in your coop – I used 2×4′s across the top. Chickens eat absolutely everything and enjoy table scraps too. I use layer pellets from the local feed store, along with scratch corn and leftovers from the table as well. Your local feed store will have shells (such as oyster or clam) too – chickens need them to keep their eggs hard. Chickens also need grit to help digest their food – if they are free range you don’t really have to worry about it, but if you have them penned you may want to throw some grit in once in a while. Chickens are perfect if you are a gardener too as their feces are fantastic fertilizer and full of nitrogen. It may be hard to see in the picture, but to the left of the coop is a run that I built that is about 8 feet long, and fenced in. You can put a few chickens in there and place them between the rows of your crops, and not only will they weed your garden for you, but they will fertilize it as well. Putting poop directly on plants will burn them, but between the rows it works great. The perfect recycler. For the floor of the coop I use wood shavings, making sure in the morning to shovel out the nights poop from under the roosts – doing it that way lets the wood shaving last for a while before you have to clear them out and replace them with fresh. There are lots of descriptions about particular sizes and shapes for nest boxes, I used a couple of old horse tack boxes – they were not very big, enough for a chicken to get into and turn around, and enough for them to feel hidden. A good trick to get them using the nest box is to put a wooden egg in them, you can get one at any craft store. It’s fun to watch chickens in the yard, and listen to their various calls. Some days they seem really intelligent, and some days the opposite. They are hardy and easy critters to keep.
The act of killing a chicken to eat can be a difficult one for anybody, and some people can’t do it. It is a fact of life, that something dies so that you can live. Celebrate the fact that you are providing for yourself, that you chicken had a much better life than a commercial chicken did, and that there are no chemicals or hormones in the meat you are going to eat. Here are a couple of videos on how to do it correctly. For me personally, I didn’t bother scalding and plucking, rather I just took the skin off and quartered. There is also some good information in slaughtering day for the meat chickens.
When I first decided to keep chickens, the book below was very helpful to me. Give it a try – it’s fun and easy, and there’s nothing like watching a rooster strutting his stuff.
I long to awake in the morning, and put on an old flannel shirt and corduroy pants that are mended and moccasins covered with dirt – I care not a cuss where the place is, nor how far away it may be, so long as its up in the open where I can unleash and be free.
I remember a line in a book I was reading years ago that said you could blindfold someone and put them on the tarmac in any city, and all they would be able to tell you is where they weren’t. If you think about that for a minute you’ll realize it’s true. Everything looks the same, there is no uniqueness or individuality. As much as people complain (yet still go) to Wal Mart, as Americans we’re essentially living in one to some extent.
It always surprised me at the University of Maine when a student from an urban area of a different state would exclaim that there was nothing to do here. It’s true that you can’t go hit a few comedy clubs at 11pm if you want, and there is a small part of me that misses that too. But had I gone to college in an urban setting I would have said there is nothing to do here too. We had a great time in college – we hunted, fished, explored, snowmobiled, and canoed. I’ll always remember cutting classes on the first day of partridge season to go hunting in the warm October sun, and hanging out in the (now defunct) Rams Horn and Oronoka listening to live music in an intimate atmosphere.
Kids growing up these days aren’t exposed to the “other “ side of life that much anymore, and it wanes with each passing year. As Aldo Leopold aptly said – “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is supposing that food comes from the grocery store, and the other is that heat comes from the furnace.” I would propose that his quote has more meaning today than ever. With the unstable economies around the world, food prices being jacked up out of site because our nation’s corn is being converted to ethanol, and fuel prices never going back to the levels they were before, I think it behooves all of us to revisit the skills of our past. There is a fantastic book called “back to basics” that pretty much has everything in it you would ever need to know on how to take care of yourself and become independent again.
Land in rural areas of this country is still cheap to buy. When I built my cabin I had very rudimentary carpentry skills and yet with some determination was able to clear and stump a spot, cut, peel, and lug out of the woods each cedar log, and build it from scratch using hand tools. Imagine no mortgage, no utility bill, and a small food bill. Imagine the satisfaction of being independent, of not being tied to the latest woes of the economy. Imagine no longer being a beast caged in the heart of the city.
Here is a video of camp going up. I started harvesting the wood in 2003 and 2004. In the fall of 2004 the cement piers went in – 2005 it got build, and in early 2006 I finished the inside.