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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The (Successful) Moose Hunt

For some reason my husband labeled me as his second shooter and I will never understand why. Maybe he loves me that much? When you get a moose tag you get to pick one person to be your "second shooter" who registers with you on your license. You also get to label someone as your guide. This person does not get to carry a gun, but rather is suppose to guide you to where the moose are so you and your second shooter can shoot one. Those are the only people allowed to hunt and be in the woods with you when you are hunting moose so being labeled the second person, the only other person with a gun even, was a big deal. And I am not exactly a seasoned hunter. In fact, I am only a one-seasoned hunter, having only one hunting season under my belt and a hunters safety card that the ink has barely dried on.

But ready or not I was up at 4am, dressed in camo, and paraded into the woods on a friend's 8,000 acre parcel of logging land.

Myself, all excited to be decked out in camo and walking in the rain.... yeah.
And Shawn, the kind of excited that a man will never let you see.

I was actually excited that first morning as we set out down old skidder roads towards a remote swamp. It was thought to be prime moose territory.

Four times a day we visited this swamp. There was sign of moose everywhere. Poop, prints, and even antler rubs. During the last season, a week earlier, someone had shot a very nice bull down in that swamp. The weather had also changed, from cold to warm. Clearly the moose had changed their destination.

After two comeplete days of hunting, waking up before dawn, and walking over a dozen miles up and down mountains I was exhausted and then my week of school began. Shawn still headed back into the woods, persistent, and without the company of his second shooter because nursing school still outweighs the importance of a moose tag. On the forth day of hunting, Tuesday, Shawn called me in a frustrated voice saying he was on his way home. Unsuccessful for the day, so he thought, he headed back up the logging roads towards home. He was getting discouraged after four days of no luck. Then the phone rang again just a few minutes later. Shawn was out of breath and explaining he had shot a moose! In a matter of minutes his luck had changed and I was off to help him with bringing in the moose--or rather photograph him and his friends bring in the moose. However you want to look at it!

Thank goodness for friends who enjoy gutting animals. That's not a weird thing up here. Maybe in Jersey its a skill that is disgusted, but in Vermont these are the friends you call in a time of need. They definitely offered a lesson in animal gutting. For me, it was an interesting anatomy lesson.

Shawn had shot it right in the lung, as he pointed out here.

Once we looked inside one lung and the entire left ventricle of the heart was obliterated. He saw this moose just off a logging road that doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter. So then we had to finagle a way to get the moose out of the woods and over a very large ditch onto the logging road. --Note the little boy. Getting a moose is really a whole family affair!

I don't know who came up with the rope idea, but it worked, to my amazement. I figured the rope would surely snap. One of our friends stated once this idea was successful "We may be rednecks, but we ain't stupid." That's true, and a good thing...

Finally... more than two hours later... we made it to the taxidermist's house where we were to weigh the moose. Everyone, all in good fun, was making guesses on the moose's weight. Thats half the fun, guessing the weight. Shawn was insistent that it weighed more than 600lbs. My guess.... 545lbs. What's your guess?

Up on the pulley the moose went until none of it was touching the ground. If you look closely at the meter you can see the weight of the moose. That's right... 545lbs on the nose. What a good guess!

A happy hunter and his guide. Aka, father and son.

Despite it not breaking 600lbs Shawn was still excited. He even let me take numerous photos of him and even smiled! Whether it was the excitement and pride of a successful hunt or the four beers he consumed on an empty stomach I don't know... But regardless it has been an experience that he loved and none of us will forget. Now we are going to end up with more meat than we will ever need...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trespassers Will Be Shot

Vermin control in Vermont has a quite straight forward approach...

And don't doubt that this wasn't also a warning towards hunters and other people, not just coyotes and coy-dogs. People mean business up here and there are a lot of hills good for burying. Ok. well... its not like Vegas in the old days, but most people would think twice about crossing this guy. Good thing he's a friend of the family.

On a serious and good note: Shawn got a moose!
Its was quite the hunt. I even participated all weekend. Apparently, like fishing, I seem to have a lack of success with hunting because as soon as I was unable to hunt (because I had class) Shawn started seeing moose. He shot one on the fourth day of the season in a dumb-luck sort of way, but I will spare the details for now and post about it soon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animal Rights Activists... Eat your Heart Out

Starting at O'dark thirty tomorrow morning my husband, father-in-law, and myself will drudge ourselves out of bed and into the great outdoors. Our moose season begins. The second season. Cow season. Shawn got a cow tag for E2, which opens tomorrow morning. Unfortunately it is suppose to rain so I am not exactly thrilled about spending the entire day in the woods getting drenched. Lets hop we spot something early. Very early... like say.... first light tomorrow.

Last week was the big weekend. The first weekend of Moose season. It literally is a spectacle in town and every year it never gets old. There is nothing like spending time down at the town garage watching proud hunters line up to have their catch weighed. Everyone stands around guessing the weight and taking photos. Of course you have to have proper attire. It's like the Kentucky Derby, but instead of wearing crazy hats we all wear flannel and camo. For such a small town it is quite a big event and next to the forth of July it is one of my favorites.

There is so much to see and do.... a sub culture of Vermont really. So I will provide a little education.
PSA - if you don't want to see dead moose or parts of moose guts then.... well... don't scroll down I guess??

In case you want to quickly get caught up with the haul for this season all you have to do is check out this board. This years record and the all time records are posted and updated as moose are brought in. It doesn't make up for missing the big one get weighed, but it keeps you up to speed.

All the moose are weighed by being tied with chains and lifted up into the air. At this point everyone is formulating their guesses before the Natural Resources guy shouts out the accurate weight. Notice that there are places where the hair has been rubbed off. Its from dragging the moose out of the woods.

This is what happens when they go to weigh your moose and find out that you left a half a lung and a kidney inside still. They make you take everything out. Can't add any extra pounds by doing a half-assed job.

Various parts of the moose are assessed besides the weight. They calculate the Boone and Crockett score by measuring the antlers and tines. And they take a tooth with a giant set of pliars in a rather bloody manner. By taking a tooth they can tell what the moose have been eating, the general health of the moose, and an approximation of its age.

This big guy was the biggest moose brought in while I was there. 790lbs. What a beauty.

And this little guy is the cutest thing ever. Oh, it is a sight like this that makes me want to start producing little one's of my own. Just so I can dress them up in flannel and hunter orange with muck boots.

I've got to get myself ready for my own and wear my own camo and hunter orange first. Three thirty is going to come very early....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Getting Serious Now...

Never before have I had so much fun taking photos! Almost every day after class or an afternoon when I should have been studying I have gone out and driven all over God's country. The foliage this year has been extremely beautiful and I have seem to be coming into my own when it comes to taking photos. I've actually sold my first print! So does that make me a professional? I think technically by definition it does, but I feel so far from it. However... a deep seeded dream of mine is to one day be able to make money, some sort of living, off my photos. With every photo I take the more experience I gain and the years I've dedicated to honing my skills are starting to prove worth while.

So without further adieu....
A few of my favorites from this season.

Peak foliage and choppy seas on Lake Willoughby. Westmore Vermont.
An old boat house is all but crumbling into the water.

A double rainbow ending on Island Pond. I never saw a pot of gold, though.
Island Pond. Vermont.

The official livestock of Vermont, Holsteins. Meandering in a pasture with brilliant foliage.
Westmore Vermont.

And old precarious deck behind the McCormick Harvest Equipment building.
Burke Hollow Vermont.

Layer of spruce, birch and maples covered in snow below the cloud line.
Job's Pond in Westmore Vermont.

These photos are some of my favorites, but I do have plenty more on my computer. Of course if you would like a print of any of these photos please email me (

And I am working on a whole new aspect of photography called HDR or High Dynamic Range photos. Its where you take multiple photos of the same object at varying exposures and then super-impose the photos on one another to create a single photo with the best possible color and contrast. I have had so much fun today taking and creating HDR photos (yes while I am at work even) and I cannot wait to get a chance to take even more photos using this technique. A whole new world of photography has been introduced to me and I am excited. Almost excited enough to purchase a new camera. I have my eyes on a Nikon D90... its about the only Nikon I can reasonably afford. But I guess I shall rein it in for now. It should be enough to enjoy what I've captured with my good 'ol Canon Rebel so far.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Huntin' Camp

It is officially my absolutely favorite time of year. Despite the fabulous fall colors now receding the outdoors is absolutely magnificent. The smells, the wild life, the first snow flakes... it makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy. It also gives me an excuse to break out all my fuzzy sweaters and fleeces. Lately I have been running around taking some AWESOME photos... which I promise I will post. But there is a lot going on besides all my photographic escapades. In just a few short weeks it will be HUNTING SEASON. Hunting season is an epic time of year where family and friends come together and best of all we get to go to camp.

Camp. Everyone has a camp, or knows someone that has a camp. Of course, we have a camp. It's not far from home, about 10 miles, so we don't spend a ton of time there except occasional visits for the day. Only once a year do we spend the night there and that is during rifle season. I wish we stayed there more. The neglect is somewhat apparent and I am working to change that.

The other day Shawn and I spent an entire day up there. He went and set up his hunting blind and I stayed behind and cleaned up generations of junk, dust, and dirt out of the camp. I even collected every blanket and sleeping bag and brought it back home to clean. After being washed they all still have that permanent musty camp smell. No amount of fabric softener or scented dryer sheets and washing is going to get that out.

After hours of work camp was finally completely clean, warm, and cozy. It looks so inviting! I absolutely cannot wait to spend the night up there. Perhaps I can talk Shawn into a night of just the two of us up there. No television, no electricity, no nothing. Just the trees, the stars, and the wood stove. Thats the beauty of camp and its just another reason I look forward to hunting season.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh My...A Pie??

Yes. A pie.

I officially have adventured in to domesticism and made my very first ever, completely from scratch, pie. Not just a pie, but apple pie. Not just an apple pie, but an apple pie made from apples I picked off the tree in our yard.

Those are apples right off the tree in our yard. Every year the tree faithfully produces wonderful apples for us that we don't really use. The partridges flock to them which we shoot, so I guess we indirectly use the apples, but I wanted to use them in a more meaningful and enjoyable way. So into the house and into a pie they went.

It was an hour long process. Peeling lots of apples. Adding lots of flour... too much flower... oops. Somehow my crust didn't turn out correctly (hmm... maybe it had to do with all the flower?) but I made it work.

In the oven it went and then an hour later my house smelled wonderful and the pie was done. The smell was almost as rewarding as the pie itself. Nothing is better than a log cabin filled with the sent of a fresh baked apple pie. No Yankee Candle can imitate that scent!

The completed first ever homemade apple pie.

So we happened to have a few friends over that evening and we all taste tested my pie. It got two thumbs up! Amazingly I cooked a pie that came out correctly and people enjoyed. Then the real test came.... could I do it again? Or was it a fluke?

The second homemade apple pie. Complete with a moose on top!

I made a second pie this week to share with the people in my nursing clinicals and it came out 100 times better than the first. In fact, it was probably the best apple pie I have ever eaten anywhere, ever (not that I'm bragging...). I think I will have make a third pie now because I don't want to share my pie anymore!

And incase you are wondering where I got such a great recipe? No it wasn't homemade. I simply googled "apple pie recipe" and it was the first one on the list. I tweaked it a tiny bit, added a little ingredient and subtracted one, but its really no secret. Now go celebrate fall and make yourself a pie. Or ask really nice and maybe your wife, mom, or neighbor will make you one!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A little Inspiration

It is clear that this blog has taken the back seat in my life as nursing school crowds in on almost all of my free time. Don't get me wrong. I am making time to enjoy the things I love and spend time with friends and family. That just means I really have even less time to write about it online. But that doesn't mean I don't have a TON to write about.

However, I don't have time today for much...
But I wanted to share something I found that made me smile. Its a little note that I found inside a desk that was donated to Rescue by the college.

Who ever wrote this is very insightful. I love little notes and messages like this. Someone leaves a message to a stranger, whether they were there, what they were thinking, or just something they want to share with the world or a stranger. I'm not talking about graffiti. That's completely different than this. This is just a little note which the writer had no idea who would end up reading it, but knew that someone would. Maybe I am weird like that, but stuff like this is so cool.

So share something inspirational with a stranger (by all means don't vandalize or do something illegal). You never know who it will affect. Like this person... he/she had no idea who would read this, but now I am sharing it all with you.