We’ve been researching where to grouse hunt this fall up north and stumbled upon Katahdin Woods and Waters. The largest section is adjacent to and east of Baxter State Park with smaller parcels east of the East Branch Penobscot River. No hunting on the large parcel next to Baxter.
This new recreation area is the controversial land of Roxanne Quimby which is now being managed by her son, Lucas St. Clair, & their Elliotsville Plantation Inc. They would like to create a new National Park and this does not settle well with the locals. Read more about it here. The Maine Sunday Telegram started a series today (with cool video!) about this area that you can read here.
I decided to drive up and check this area out. I took the fuel efficient Honda Civic along with my mountain bike figuring if the roads go to hell I can just jump on my bike. It’s a long drive from Winslow. 160 miles and took 4 hours to get to mile 15.5 of the Katahdin Loop Road. (It would probably be 1/2 hour shorter taking the Swift Brook Road access versus the Sherman Lumber Company Road.)
Driving down Seboeis Road past Lunksoos Camp (where recreation managers are based) there are beautiful views of the East Branch Penobscot River. The bridge crossing at Whetstone Falls is beautiful and worthy of a picnic and careful swim at the little beach. I stopped briefly to use the brand new outhouse at Sand Bank Campground. Nice new kiosk with map, fire ring, place to camp, and boat launch to explore adjacent pretty wetland.
My plan was to check out part of the loop road and the trails marked as “mountain biking trail”. From ~mile 15.5 of the Katahdin Loop Road I took the trail towards Wassataquoik Gate. I bombed down the hill knowing my biggest threat was a moose or bear or some animal coming into the trail. I was briefly on the Katahdin Esker with a sharp drop down to the river. Further down the river this looks like it becomes more pronounced and would be fun to explore. Wassataquoik Ford had a bridge and was a pretty area. I proceeded to Orin Falls which is an amazing area of HUGE boulders with a strong flow on the east side of the stream bed. The water was very low but must absolutely rip in the spring. From the map, more falls are upstream and this area would be cool to explore. The trail/old logging road extends further upriver but becomes more overgrown. I didn’t explore the area but turned around and took logging road on the right towards Barnard Mountain. (Much of the trail I rode is part of the International Appalachian Trail.)
It’s a huge uphill climb from the intersection to Orin Falls up to Barnard Mountain. A ton of fresh moose tracks all over the road and various scat was numerous also. As I proceeded up the hill the cover was typical post-logging overgrowth. Thick bushes, lots of various blackberry/raspberry brambles. At one point I smelled that musky animal smell and looked carefully around. Nothing. Then up the road a black bear ran down the road and into the bushes. Cool! Finally I got to the access trail to Barnard Mountain. It was rough & I didn’t want to hike in bike shoes or risk a massive wipe out on my bike in the middle of nowhere, so I skipped it. I bet it would be an awesome view though!
I kept on riding, had another ripping downhill hoping not to hit anything large and furry. Crossed Katahdin Stream on a steel girder then hit the Loop Road again. I decided to ride down the loop road to a “viewpoint”. (There’s also a “crash site” on the map which I would like to know more about.) I went to and past Mile 10 and never saw a “viewpoint”. I went back to Mile 10 and saw some peek-a-boo views of Katahdin. I think with leaf off it would be an amazing view. I then rode back to my car. Saw a car on the way and lots of large bear scat. The “trail” portion of my ride was essential logging roads at different stages of overgrowth. I was glad to have a full suspension mountain bike to bomb the stoney downhills with confidence but this ride could be done with a hard tail or even rigid mountain bike with decent width tires.
Other cool adventures would be to mountain bike up the Old Telos Tote Road along the East Branch Penobscot River and hike up Lunksoos Mountain and others in that area or start at Haskell Gate and bike down to the various falls on the river. There’s a ton to explore in this new recreation area. It’s remote, beautiful, and free.
Wild Turkey Cooking Experiment
Part of the hesitation with turkey hunting was that they are notorious for being tough and inedible. But I kept reading and hearing folks here and there saying how delicious wild turkey was, that you must cook it “right”. Have we forgotten how to cook wild game with the proliferation of industrial poultry and meat?
I did a lot of internet research and formed a plan for cleaning and freezing the first turkey I tagged this spring. I breasted the 17.8 lb tom & also kept the legs. Most folks just breast their turkeys. I was determined to find a way to use the legs, even if just for stock. I double ground one breast, saved the “fingers”, pieced part of the other breast, then made cutlets of the rest. I packed them by type and using the food saver vacuum packed them, then froze each package.
The legs were going to be wild turkey carnitas using this recipe. I was also thinking about how I make pulled pork in the slow cooker so I added the spices per the carnitas recipe but didn’t have the chiles or the juniper berries and I knew I had to cook these legs a long time to get them tender so I just went into pulled pork cooking mode and poured some hard cider (I brewed but didn’t like) over them. I added a little water and turned them on low. For a long time…15 hours. They were then tender & I pulled them, dumped liquid from slow cooker, put pulled turkey back in slow cooker, added some chopped onion and BBQ sauce and cooked on low for a few hours. It was really good! So don’t throw the legs out!
I then made a white bean chili using ground wild turkey using a combination of a few recipes I googled online. So good! Also with the ground turkey I made turkey and black bean burrito/taco filling using this recipe. Again excellent. I have found that the ground wild turkey is really very similar to ground turkey & can be substituted in recipes that call for ground turkey.
Cooking the cutlets and fingers will be tricky. Brining, marinating, and perhaps pounding will be key. I made grilled marinated wild turkey cutlets using this recipe. It was good, though salty, and I would adjust it in the future. I marinated the cutlets for over 24 hours which just may have been too long.
These turkeys are definitely tasty if attention is paid to prepping and cooking. Can’t wait until the fall turkey season!
Turkey hunting. Not easy. You see the toms fanning to a flock of hens when you drive by on the road and it’s easy to think “Hey piece of cake to bag a turkey”. Umm…no. They are amazingly keen. Any movement out of the ordinary they will see and they can almost sense when something is not quite “right”. Combine that with the little H&R Pardner Compact 20 gauge shotgun I use (with 3” Federal Mag-Shok Heavy Weight turkey load) and it’s a tough hunt. The absolute best thing I did was track them in a late spring snow to find their travel routes which was confirmed in the past two weeks of sitting and watching. I started to anticipate where they were going if I bumped them and could pick up their low “pocks”, “clucks”, and “yelps”. I watched hens 30’ from me cutting and yelping at each other, saw lots of deer, had a big tom walk wicked close then sensed something and “put putted” and veered off, & had a jake come up behind me. It was lots of very, very still sitting. And lots of observing wildlife and listening to the woods.
Today I ran 8 miles then came home and headed out around 11am. Hunting at daybreak during the week is not possible with getting the kids off to school. I’ve observed turkeys traveling around during the day and even evenings (here in Maine you can hunt all day). On the way out I bumped the tom I shot. He went in the woods above the field corner where I hide and the corner they travel down through to the field. I dropped below him and quickly clipped a new shooting lane from my hiding spot so when he comes out of that corner and clears the brush hiding me my barrel is right on him. I bumped two hens in the corner but that was ok. Figured they would meet up with Mr. Tom and maybe come back to the field. I did some light calling and sat for about 1/2 hour and could hear a low yelp and clucks. I could sense they were around. I also could hear some movement in the leaves. Then the hens appeared and I knew that Mr. Tom wasn’t far off. And he wasn’t. He moved into my lane and I even pulled my mask down quickly so I could get a better shot. He was about 50’ away when I pulled the trigger. The 1/2 mile walk to the house was pretty hard so I knew this bird was a good size.
I rushed up to Libby’s to get him tagged then home to part him out and get the meat cooling. 17.8 pounds with an 8” beard. I packaged up the turkey “fingers”, ground one breast into burger, cutlets from 1/2 of the the other breast, and pieced the rest for marinating for stir fries or burrito night. I’m going to make carnitas in the slow cooker out of the legs/thighs. This is all about healthy, organic, free-range meat so let the wild turkey cooking experiment begin!
Love, love, love running from my Mother’s in Palermo. There are so many lost roads. So many areas I used to fish or xc ski or drink beers or mountain bike. So I took myself on an early morning tour of the backwoods of Palermo & Washington. An awesome 8.5 miles.
A new addition at Christmas was a Henry Pump Action Octagon .22 rifle. (For full specs click here.) Now that the spring busy season is fading off, I have time for a range report.
I shot five rounds of Remington Golden Bullet at each of three targets at 25 yards and then three separate targets at 50 yards, so 15 rounds per distance. I have lots of Rem Goldens from a sale at Dick’s at Christmas. Good thing as .22 ammo is still hard to find.
The Henry Pump’s action seems a little stiff, but hard to judge as it’s brand new. Maybe 50 rounds total through it. One stumper I just figured out, is the lever just forward of the trigger guard on the right side. This is a release lever to unlock the action and opens it with the hammer fully cocked. Now I don’t think you would ever want to open the action with the hammer fully cocked, but perhaps slowly, gently guide the hammer down with your thumb while pulling the trigger (barrel in safe direction people!) then opening action to remove cartridge from the chamber. So my understanding of this lever forward of the trigger guard is to allow unloading of a loaded chamber.
So how’d it shoot? Pump actions are just real fun. Not as much fun as lever action but pretty close. For just picking up the rifle, I thought it was very accurate. I had never shot this particular gun before and my shots were not bullseye but they grouped up. The pump takes some muscle to pump and I found the gun heavy. Remember, I’m just 5’1” and 106lbs so most folks wouldn’t notice the weight or pump action effort.
Next blog post: Comparing the Browning BL-22 Micro Midas’ performance at the same target/shot distances as the Henry Pump Action Octagon.
Added info on action release lever near trigger lock via TheViking over to Liberal Gun Club Forum:
Every pump action shotgun I’ve shot has a similar lever around the trigger guard somewhere. The action needs to be locked in place so it doesn’t slide open by accident, wouldn’t be good for reliability.
Most of them have internal hammers than you can’t decock, you just open the action. Without having fondled the Henry I bet that as soon as the action starts opening, the hammer is locked from falling forwards anyway so just use the opening lever.
In my honest opinion, that is safer than trying to guide the hammer forwards first. Doing the latter, it can slip and fire - just opening the action you are safe.