March 26, 2013

Maple Syrup Weekend

Maple Syrup Weekend is a Maine Tradition and this weekend pancake-lovers celebrated. The warmth of Spring causes starches, that have been converted to sugar, stored in the trunks and roots of Maple trees to begin rising. And so begins the process of syrup production across our cold climate. Farms across the state this weekend held open houses and allowed the public to tour their shops. A behind the scenes look into a larger scale operation is interesting - trucks collecting that sap, large boilers, and the stacks of firewood fueling the operation.

We ventured out to a local farm. The country roads leading up to the old farm house make me feel at home. Grass sprouts in the fields among the leftover rows of melting snow. The air has a fresh scent that only comes as Mother Nature uncovers her beauty. We pull up along the driveway and park, quickly greeted by three horses (and a few ducks that meander around their legs). Syrup slowly drips into the metal collection buckets as we make our way into the heart of the operation - the boiler room. The farmer explains his tips and techniques and offers us a taste of his final product. So good that we walked out with a few bottles for friends and family. 

March 21, 2013

Knife Review: Kershaw Scallion

I sometimes reflect on the day I was given my first knife. I was 12 and on a week-long vacation to Tennessee to visit family. Uncle Tom was a rancher with 100+ head of cattle and sprawling acres. Taking me under his wing for a week, he introduced me to the rolling fields, farm work and his love for the outdoors. He was a hard-working, take-no-shit, family man who could be easily admired. He had two collections: rifles and knives. I remember the evening he spread his knife collection across the kitchen table. Sipping on a Budweiser, he recounted the story of each knife - from the War to hunting trips. We must have sat there for over an hour. As he packed them back into his bag, he looked down at me, pulled out a sheathed fix blade and said, "Start your own collection with this one." And so I did...

Uncle Tom passed away a few years ago, but I still keep that knife on my shelf. Simple items can carry such great memories. I'm always looking for a gentlemen's knife that will perform for years and be passed down to my sons or nephews and instill the passion for the outdoors in them. Well, I'm adding another knife to that collection with Kershaw Scallion  It doesn't need to be an expensive blade to be collected, used and treasured. A quality-blade, clean design, good looks and functionality are what's important. You'll find it all in this pocket knife. I recently put it to the test in the field on a snowy afternoon and it performed flawlessly.

I define a "gentlemen's knife" as one that can be sported wearing a suit jacket or a pair of hiking shorts. If you're looking for a fine blade that you will one day pass down - look no further. The Scallion fits smoothly in the palm of your hand. Opening by either the thumbtack or the SpeedSafe assisted opening flipper on the top side. The 2 1/4" blade opens with lightning speed and has an optional frame lock. Locking open, the knife provides an extra level of safety while performing cuts.  Aesthetically, it's a 10 and the pocket clip hugs secure to any fabric thickness - down to the nylon pocket of your suit jacket. It's a keeper; get one here.

March 19, 2013

Fishing Secret Pond: A Photo Journey

Friend, fellow blogger, and Registered Maine Guide, Steve Vose, invited me up to visit his favorite fishing hole recently. Our goal was to stir up a little action among the bass during a storm that dumped 12 inches of fresh snow. Frigid winds blew across the ice as the snow flakes slapped your face. The cold had the type of fierceness that made you regret removing your gloves to bait the hooks. Within an hour we had our holes drilled, two beers in us and half our traps up. As we baited the seventh trap, an orange flag rose from across the lake. Quick success! And so it began. The flags and fish were so active at times we nearly forgot to snap photos. 

A mid-afternoon chill forced us to cave in and actually setup the ice shack. Before we could zip the door shut, two flags simultaneously rose in the window. With a yank on the door, we were out to haul in two of the largest fish of the day. A few pictures on the camera later, we released two of the largest bass Steve has ever pulled from this body of water. One bruiser weighed in near 7 lbs. I'd never held a large mouth Bass of that size before. The afternoon proved a great way to lock down the ice fishing season. Now, I look forward to bringing the tent out from my gear closet and tying on some hiking boots. The beauty of the woods will be explored with a little less white soon...

March 14, 2013

Review: Filson Guide Waterfowl Sweater


The Filson Guide Waterfowl Sweater is a Filson heritage product that has been worn by sportsmen for decades. Specifically designed for outdoor work when you don't want to wear a jacket. A water-repellent oil finish shelter cloth lines the chest, arms, and upper back, protecting from wet and abrasion. A right shoulder shooting patch provides extra protection while hunting. 


I've tested the sweater ice fishing and on a winter day hike in the woods. The virgin Merino wool is a tight knit and easily traps body heat while the 8.5oz Shelter Cloth blocks heavy winds. The quality, although made outside of the USA, is some of the best I've seen from Filson. The stitching is perfect and the design has decades of thought built in - making it comfortable with plenty of room for moving about. The garment itself is rugged and that's obvious when you pick it up. It's heavy and not phased by thick brush and stray branches as you maneuver through the woods. During an hour of light rain while hiking, it easily beaded and fell from my shoulders. When you pull on the Guide Waterfowl Sweater, you feel like you just put on $230 bucks. Well, that's because you did. But, my point is that you feel proud to wear it - it's a handsome and quality piece that I know will last for years and years and years.


Should you be looking for an investment piece that will bring compliments when in the field - look no further. Should you be able to swing the price and then this sweater is for you. A good wool sweater is something every man needs. Sure, it's on the expensive side, but your purchasing the storied Filson quality that tends to be passed down to future generations. And when you buy into that idea - you're investing in an item that will be able to tell a story years from now. For more information, see it here on

March 12, 2013

Closing of Winter

Winter is slowly closing its door. Should you listen closely, the faint creaks are heard from the hinges. A narrow opening is left in the season. Warmth is springing up and frozen lakes slowly turn to a muddled mess of ice and deep slush. As we slip a bow on ice fishing until next year, I am lucky to escape for one of the last trips this year.

An unexpected snowstorm blows in as we head into the woods; the kind of storm that equates to meeting more John Deere tractors than pickup trucks. The lack of traffic puts my soul at ease. Country music and open road puts a smile on my face. A few inches of snow flutter to the cold ground and stop before our destination is reached.

The ice here is still thick. We were able to drive North enough to take advantage of an area not hard hit by the warming trend - lucky. With traps in the water, we do what is expected - wait, adjust tactics, and wait. Here are a few photos from our afternoon.



March 7, 2013

Guide to Spring

  1. Timberland Earthkeepers ($119) On sale now, these waterproof boots prove good looks are tougher than mud and muck from trail to tavern. Outsole crafted from recycled plastic bottles.
  2. 6 Cup Coffee Percolator ($29) Every campsite needs an early morning caffeine kick via fire and coffee grounds. This Chinook model I own from Amazon offers a heat-resistant wooden handle.
  3. Helly Hansen Swift 2 Fleece Jacket ($140) H/H invented the fleece jacket so expectations are high on this anniversary edition full-zip. Enough warmth and insulation for cool Spring mornings.
  4. Big Agnes Long Lake SL ($279) I've trusted Big Agnes for years. This new model is proven to 30 degrees. Stay warm all night and avoid overheating in the early morning hours.
  5. MSR Carbon Reflex 3 ($649) Wide enough to fit three or two plus extra gear inside, this 4lb. tent  offers an exceptional value for long trips - you're going to want you space that 2-man tents won't cut.
  6. CRKT Tomahawk ($180) Small-tree-chopping and kindling-splitting is easier now. Defense against the ever-present Zombie Apocalypse included. Two-sided sharpness proves the investment.
  7. Old Town Canoe ($979) Adventure begins here. No sign-up sheet necessary. 16.4 feet provide a fine balance between weight and long-distance performance. Endless exploration lies ahead.
  8. Woolrich Field Shorts ($45) Whether the decision is to hit the trail for the afternoon or do a beer-run into town, you'll have the style to impress any frisky country girl.
  9. Filson Feather Cloth Shirt ($67) Lightweight and breathable performance will prove comfortable and cool when your bonfire gets a bit too warm. This shirt will suffice thru fall for your adventures.
  10. Kershaw Cryo ($50) The 2012 Blade Magazine Best Buy of the Year won't disappoint. I've carried the knife for months and she's performed daily in a range of critical tasks, field and at home.

March 4, 2013

Filson Guest Post: Ultimate Connection to Nature

Staring into the glow of his iPhone, Steve raised his voice slightly above the AC/DC blaring on the classic rock station to inform me, “The snow forecast for day two is 8-10 inches”. Approaching the camp road, I feared that tomorrow might be our only good day of fishing. It’s my experience that fish feed heavily going into a winter storm. “We’ll be fine”, I muttered and turned off the truck... 

 Please read the remainder of my Filson Life story, click the image below: