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Maine 2021
After last years adventure chasing Ruffed Grouse in Maine I promised myself, and more importantly my dog that we would return. Well this past weekend I kept my promise and we again made the long drive north.

We left home around 4am last Thursday, and managed to avoid any major traffic issues that can come from driving past NYC, through Conn. and past Boston.

Last year was a dry fall and when we arrived the leaves were completely off the trees, this year was much wetter and you can see the difference it made in these pictures...

10/8/20
10/7/21

I set up camp for the night, made some dinner and planned for the next day and went to bed early, it had been a long day on the road.





We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise, made some coffee and oatmeal, packed camp and headed for some roads that looked like good places to start walking.


Shadow did well, He flushed 4 birds on our first two logging roads of the day. Only one of which presented a shooting opportunity that I missed of course. We then took a little drive to the area we hunted last year. Walked out another road and he made an all star effort to flush two grouse from one spot, the first flew through thick trees, the second flushed, made a sudden U turn and came straight at me, I let him pass, swung on him and missed cleanly. We followed him in and flushed him a second time with no shooting opportunity. All told he had 7 flushed on the day and two road birds spotted. A pretty good day after the reports I'd been hearing.

We called it quits around 3 so Shadow could rest up for the next day, and drove around to locate some roads to walk in the morning. Set up camp, made some dinner and watched the sun set.




Saturday morning dawned beautifully with just a hint of frost on the tent fly.




The first road we walked was frustrating, about 100 yards in we found not 1 but 2 big grouse, The first I missed, we tried to follow up on it, but shadow knew something I didn't know, there was another grouse in the cover. He went back in and flushed it.... this one was an absolute layup. I heard him take off and could see his flight path would bring him right out into the open and back across the road. Didn't matter I whiffed, not sure how, but I did. Not long after I slipped in a muddy tire track and torqued my knee enough that I'm still limping. We kept walking to the end of the road, which was a little over 1.5 miles out. On the way back he jumped a grouse into a pine tree but I couldn't spot it for the life of me and it eventually spooked out the other side to safety. We limped back to the truck, 3 miles of walking plus off shoots into good cover, I should have had 3 birds and instead had nothing to show for it. I did get this pic which is one of my favorites from the trip.




The next road looked good on the map but about halfway out I was losing hope. It was tight pine trees and just didn't seem like it would hold birds. We walked to the end, found some nice moose sign including an alder that had been thrashed to pieces by a bull, then turned around and headed back. Only a few hundred yards from the truck Shadow makes a hard turn in to the ditch on the right and gets really birdy, I lose sight of him in the thick pines but suddenly hear the hard wing beats of a grouse struggling to get out of cover. It flies across the road quartering away from me and I drop it just as it gets to the left side. It lands down in the ditch of the left side, Shadow who didn't see the birds flight or it fall takes a while and some direction to get on the retrieve but eventually finds the bird and brings it back. I hit it hard, but left the tail fan undamaged. It will make good soup this week. The birds crop was full of mushroom pieces. The woods were full of mushrooms, some as big as 10+ inches across the cap.




We start driving back towards the checkpoint and stop at two more spots to take short walks but nothing comes of it. It's time to head back to Greenville where I booked a cottage at the Greenville Inn for Saturday night so I could shower and get a good nights sleep before the drive back. Totally worth it! Hot shower, Dinner outdoors with my dog, and a warm comfortable bed, plus Breakfast in the morning. Shadow gave his stamp of approval!!


So thanks for reading and if you are planning on going you can hit me up with questions. I am in the process of combining some clips into one video and will put the YouTube Link here when its done. Edit: https://youtu.be/dy4UQEbWrwA

Cheers!

.........................................
Recovering Engineer, Standup Philosopher, Aspiring Pirate, Cooking Enthusiast
"Life is a garden.... Dig It!"

Last edited by:

Charles H.: Oct 15, 2021, 5:23 AM
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
That looks great, and it looks like you did the trip justice in just the food alone!

Your pics of shadow make me miss my black dog.
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Looks like you found some birds, good for you. I like your set-up.
"Pass the Tradition Along"
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
The setup is a roof top tent made by Tuff Stuff 4x4, it's like a popup camper mounted on your truck. I have a love hate relationship with it. It's great when I'm making long drives that require multiple days like my trip to Kansas last fall. I just find State parks right off the highway, pull in and camp for the night and pull out in the morning instead of hotels. Saves money since campsites are often in the $20-30 range. It's also quite comfortable to sleep in and has a 2.5 inch thick foam mattress that I improved by putting 1/2 inch closed cell foam backpacking mats underneath it. How ever once set up you can't move your vehicle without packing up the tent. Some guys have tackled this problem by mounting the tent on a trailer. I haven't bit the bullet on that yet. In the tailgate pic with the grouse you can see what it looks like closed up. Notice the cover isn't zippered down. Zippers will eventually fail and always when you're not in a convenient place to deal with it.

.........................................
Recovering Engineer, Standup Philosopher, Aspiring Pirate, Cooking Enthusiast
"Life is a garden.... Dig It!"
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Charles H. wrote:
How ever once set up you can't move your vehicle without packing up the tent. Some guys have tackled this problem by mounting the tent on a trailer. I haven't bit the bullet on that yet.


At that point, you should just consider a small pop up camper IMO

Looks like a great trip! Glad you found some birds
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Dani, I don't disagree with you on that at all and I've considered building a teardrop trailer. In general the less time I have to spend pulling a trailer the better which is why I've kept mine on the bed of my truck. However most of the trailers guys mount the tents on are more off road capable than your standard pop up. Guys also mount them on utility trailers that pull multiple duties besides just camping. You can mount it on the same trailer you use to haul firewood or lawn mowers etc. Or you can haul your 4 wheeler on it with your tent up above. Military surplus trailers are a popular method. I've even seen tents mounted on boat trailers. Lots of ideas out there, some practical, some stretch practicality to the extreme.

There's multitude of different bed rack and roof racks designed to mount tents on vehicles. they range from $500 to several thousand. I have my tent mounted DIY style on $100 worth of Unistrut channel and hardware from Lowes. It's worked out great and is at a height that is practical for getting in and out for both me and my dog. By the way he(shadow) loves the tent and will put his paws up on the ladder when he's ready for bed in the evening. In the morning he steps out onto my shoulder then hops his back legs into my arms.

There's a whole community of "Overlanders" out there who come up with all kinds of crazy camping set ups. I start to get leery when people talk about how to heat or AC their tent. The money spent can be outrageous but to each their own, we all have a garage full of decoys, boats, motors, guns etc. that we have no problem spending money on but others view as crazy.

.........................................
Recovering Engineer, Standup Philosopher, Aspiring Pirate, Cooking Enthusiast
"Life is a garden.... Dig It!"
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
I wrestled with what to stay in at our duck camp because I could no longer tolerate the mold in the cabin. Considered bringing my vintage small tent trailer, or buying a new compact hard sided trailer or an Overland type trailer. After coming across several online 'camping in your car/SUV/minivan' forums and videos I decided to try sleeping in my new Toyota Highlander Hybrid. With the optional 1500W power inverter and the automatic charging feature I had 110VAC power to run my CPAP, electric cooler, and electric kettle. In addition, the Toyota automatic charging system turns the engine on for 5 minute every half hour or so, so I also had has much heat as I wanted at night. (BTW since the A/C runs off the battery, other hybrid campers have been able to sleep in hot weather with the A/C keeping them cool all night). Fuel use was negligible. I fitted screens to the rear side door windows to allow bug-free ventilation to prevent condensation build-up.
The set up worked OK, I put some boards across the folded seats to level the bed space then put a inflatable sleeping pad and sleeping bag on top. Headroom was a little tight. Discovered it is really important to park on level ground or else one gradually slides down to the low end of the car.
I will probably stick with this setup for this season. If I decide I want more headroom next year I could use my small tent trailer, set up next to my hybrid so I can run a small electric heater and my other appliances off an extension cord plugged into the hybrid.
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
I also had to deal with the CPAP issue. Most of them actually operate on 12v that is converted from the 110v outlet. Found a 12v adaptor with a cigarette lighter plug for my unit, and bring a deep cycle battery in a trolling motor box. I can easily get 3 nights out of it if I don't use the heated hose/water options.

.........................................
Recovering Engineer, Standup Philosopher, Aspiring Pirate, Cooking Enthusiast
"Life is a garden.... Dig It!"
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Yep that's what I used to do before I got the Hybrid - now I can run the heated hose and humidifier on my CPAP.
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Wow! What a camp set up and great photos.

That dinner looks great and the dog looks happy.





Don't just do something, Stand there!
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Looks like an incredible time!

I was checking out your tent setup online. Very cool!
I wonder if the marketing department knows that they have Michael Meyers from "Halloween" pictured on their website too. Nothing says relaxation like a serial killer chillin' by a campfire with his Tuff Stuff tent setup in the background. :)

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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Paul Taylor wrote:
Looks like an incredible time!

I was checking out your tent setup online. Very cool!
I wonder if the marketing department knows that they have Michael Meyers from "Halloween" pictured on their website too. Nothing says relaxation like a serial killer chillin' by a campfire with his Tuff Stuff tent setup in the background. :)


I never would have expected Michael Meyers to be a Cav. King Charles owner!

Anyway.... the payoff pic!!!

When I got home I simmered that bird to make a basic stock and shredded the meat. How to stretch one small bird into several meals.... Pot Pie!

Butter, veggies, herbs, flour, a little cream, shredded grouse and the stock simmered together then topped with a simple buttermilk biscuit dough and baked at 350 with a little broiler action at the end to brown it up nice.





.........................................
Recovering Engineer, Standup Philosopher, Aspiring Pirate, Cooking Enthusiast
"Life is a garden.... Dig It!"
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Re: Maine 2021 In reply to
Charles, that was a wonderful story with some great photos of your trip. I found myself ready to eat another supper when looking at what you were fixing. Shadow did his part in making memories! Thanks again.
Allan