Having harvested this black bear on the 18th of October, I had to wait the mandatory 60 days drying time before the skull could be scored. That landed me right in the middle of trying to do the holiday stuff and it also meant that any scorer would also be unavailable.
The skull had to be cleaned and I had no clue as to how to do it. After emailing back and forth between Larry Vielhauer, John Hollander and Collins Kellogg, these guys were finally able to give me the correct information on what was needed and got me onto the right track.
The first thing to do was to put in an order with Van Dykes Taxidermy Supply to get a powdered form of Sodium Carbonate to boil the skull. This is part of the process of what you have to do in order to get all the meat and tissue off the skull. Finally a week passed and the Sodium Carbonate showed up by UPS truck. Off I went to the garage to get the process started.
My first issue was finding a pot large enough to be able to submerge the complete bear skull under water. After hours of searching, all that was found that closely fit the description was my wife’s spaghetti pot that she loved with a passion. Knowing that she would want me to excel and accomplish this goal I simply bypassed asking her for fear I might end up wearing it.
I quickly filled the spaghetti pot and made a mad dash for the garage fearing she might come out to the kitchen to see what I was up to and try to deter me from my end goal of being added to the New York Record book for a once in a lifetime harvest. See…my wife is not a hunter and always asks as I head out the door to my tree stand in full camo if I am going out to catch deer.
I try to explain that we hunter don’t catch deer….we hunt them with guns and bows….its so much easier. I finally gave up trying to explain this and now tell her now that yes honey, I am headed to the woods to catch deer. I am not quite sure what I would do if I ever caught one, so I just use the gun and bow…seems easier.
After sneaking the pot out of the house with it three quarters full of water, I placed it directly on top of the woodstove that I keep going all winter long in the garage. We had a number of warmer days of were the skull had a chance at being exposed to warmer temperatures causing a distinct order to protrude from it…even my dog wanted nothing to do with it and tucked her tail and ran for the house after getting a sniff.
After placing rubber gloves on and a cloths pin over my nose, I gently picked up the intact skull and placed it into the pot. Looking at the directions and seeing that it would take at least a good thirty minuets of boiling time to get started, I decided that there were other projects around the house that needed completing so off I went to do them.
Here are the directions of what your suppose to do:
In a pot or drum, large enough to completely submerge the skulls, add water and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Sodium Carbonate. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove it from the container and inspect for any residual meat. Trim any remaining meat and return to the boiling water for another 15 minutes.
What I had not expected upon the return to the garage was the extreme strong pungent odor that seeped out through the cracks in the door. The stench was so strong that it had saturated everything in the garage including my hunting clothes that hung on the wall. I looked around an located a long stick and gently reached in the door to hit the garage door opener trying to get the majority of the smell to escape.
After waiting a good twenty minutes, I finally got up the courage to approach the skull keeping my gag reflexes in check. I gently lifting the skull out of the spaghetti pot fearing I would get splashed and have to explain to honey why I reeked of this god awful smell. The majority of meat and tissue simply fell off and after a brisk cleaning, I deposited the skull back in to go another 15 minutes of boiling. This did the trick and the skull was finally ready to sit on the shelf for the sixty day minimum drying period.
I must have gotten used to the putrid smell because as I entered the house, the dog ran in the opposite direction and and Honey met me at the door exclaiming what had died and why had I rolled in it. She had me step back out onto the front porch and undress to my underwear as people drove by gawking. I did wonder what they were thinking of what was this guy doing in his underwear standing on his front porch, but then I remembered that this is the north country and not that uncommon.
What happened to the Spaghetti Pot? The spaghetti pot was beyond the stages of reusing it. No matter how much dish soap and hot water I used to scrub it, the smell was still there. I made up a story of how I needed it for something else and it had gotten run over by the tractor by mistake. By the way…large spaghetti pots are hard to run over with the hind tire of a tractor. I did end up having to buy her a new one to replace the one now flattened by the tractor.
Time passed and on the morning of the January 6th, I gave Larry Vielhauer a call to see if he would be around to score the skull. He informed me to come over anytime and that afternoon found the skull and I headed to Larry’s Taxidermy Shop. I had know Larry for years with him doing my first White-tailed deer mount back in the late 1980’s. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and loves to visit.
He had me bring the skull in and place it on the table. Off he went and fetched his L-shaped metal rulers to be used to mark the distance in-between them. Once he had his measurements, over to the desk we went searching for the correct form to fill out. The measurements from front to back ended up being 11 & 8/16… and side to side ended up at 7 and 2/16th for a total score of 18 & 10/16 inches…enough to get into the New York record books.
18 & 10/16th
GUN 18 0/16
ARCHERY 17 0/16
THE NEW YORK STATE BIG BUCK CLUB
RECORDS OFFICE,360 McLean Rd. Kirkwood, NY 13795
BLACK BEAR SCORE SHEET
|Greatest Length Without Lower Jaw||11 & 8/16|
|Greatest Width||7 & 2/16|
|TOTAL AND FINAL SCORE||18 & 10/16|
|Exact Locality Where Taken (Town) Hermon||County St.Lawrence|
|Date Taken 10/18/08||Taken With: Gun Bow Gun|
|Name of Taker Eric J Edie||Richville, NY 13681|
|Address 1444 CR 19||City, State Zip|
|Guide Name and Remarks|
|Remarks: He liked mounds candy bars 🙂|
|Big Game Tag Number:|
It had all started out as an uneventful day as I readied myself for guys weekend up at a family camp located at the base of Whiteface Mountain on Union Falls. We have done this trek since the dawn of time as a way to prove we are manly men braving the harsh elements as we fish for the elusive walleye pike. The weather at this time is usually in the mid thirties and part of the problems at this time of year is the fact that ice forms on our fishing tips and lines.
During this time like any other tribal groups, there are rituals that take place when the younger lads what to go from being boys to young men. For an example, one such ritual is to stay up most of the night trying to catch bullhead and keeping the ones that are of age and drinking that have become intoxicated from becoming tangled in the fishing lines and falling into the lake. These youngsters also double as beer boys running for their fathers, uncles and older cousins to the beer coolers located up at camp.
There is also the ritual of large bonfires on the shore that can be seen for miles by any one passing by. Even if viewed with an expert eye, it would look like the whole camp was on fire and I can remember as a youngster that that was almost the case. You can always tell who the perpetrators of the bonfires were by the black soot covering their whole body and just seeing the whites of their eyes the very next morning.
Oh….I am getting a little off track here, back to the story. My son Robert and I had everything all packed and headed the 120 miles to camp. We arrived around there in the afternoon and my future son-in-law and a friend of his where already there waiting at the marina for the weekend to start. The marina is privately owned and still in the same family of the owners since I had first starting coming up some forty years ago. He wished us luck with a wiry grin.
That was my first hint that this was going to be an out of the ordinary day. One look at the lake and you could tell with the winds blowing, it was going to be a rough ride to camp. The only way in or out is by boat and crossing the one mile span over to camp. Now with everything unloaded from the back of the truck and part of the gear placed into the boat, I backed the trailer down the launch to put her into the water.
So far it was going pretty good…last year we had forgot to put the plug into the back of the boat and she sunk right there at the dock while still on the trailer. We ended up soaking all of our gear and spending most of the weekend trying to get our wet clothing dry.
It was decided that I would first take the run across the lake with Justin as first mate with part of the gear on board. We both gave each other a glance as the boat steered herself outside the break wall. For those of you that are unsure of what a break wall is, it’s a protective wall made of concrete or rocks piled high to keep the waves from entering an area such as a marina or residential area.
I had considered myself a seasoned Captain with crossing this pond many a times over the past 40 years, running the St.Lawrence in a 17’ tracker boat and running charters off the shores of Lake Ontario with a 28’ twin screw fishing outfit. With all that being said, I would have to say that the majority of my experience came from watching every episode of the deadliest catch on the learning channel. I had even been given the nickname of Sig…the bustard sea Captain by my wife sweetie.
As Justin and I came out of the protective cove of the break wall, we meet the full force of Mother Nature at it’s finest with 3 to 4 foot swells. The boat lurched forward smashing into every wave as though it were a brick wall sending a spray of water into the air soaking both of us in the process. Every wave meant more water being added to the water already in the boat from the previous one.
By the time we made it across the pond to the camp shore, the boat had taken on a lot of water. So much so, that we were unable to reach the shore line with so much water and gear in the already half submerged boat. At around fifteen feet from shore, the boat run aground on the sand bar and I had Justin get out and drag us in the remaining distance to get the gear unloaded.
Instead of bailing out the boat like most sane people would do at this point, I decided that I would just start the motor and keep doing circles in the protectiveness of the cove out of the wind and allowing this action to cause the suctioning of the water from within the boat back into the pond. It had worked many a times in the past and usually proved to be the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this feat. Of course this is all based on the fact that the motor has to keep running.
I pulled the plug in the rear of the boat and on my second circle in about ten foot of water when the outboard quit. This caused the water to flow in at a much faster pace than expected and I could be seen trying to find the plug to put it back into the hole as well as pulling on the pull cord attached to the outboard trying to get it to start. The motor finally took off and I headed her toward shore as she continued setting lower in the water. When she finally hit land, all that was visible was just my head sitting above the waterline.
Justin helped me drag the boat up onto shore and he and I proceeded to bail out the boat with a two gallon pail and a dog dish found on shore. Once this was accomplished I bid my farewells to Justin as I left the shoreline headed back to the marina to pick up Robert and Nick patiently waiting on the other shoreline. The seas had grown much worse since the first crossing as the boat was gently picked up by a wave only to be tossed back down.
As I was telling of my harrowing experience to the two boys, Keith and the other guys showed up. Nick said it looked pretty bad out there as he watched Justin and I make the crossing. I asked if he had ever watched the deadliest catch on TV and that he was now going to know what it felt like to be a crew member on one of these boats in rough seas. As a precaution, I had the guys put their wallets and belongings into zip lock bags to keep them dry…. it was too late for my own.
Instead of the seas lessoning, it was actually getting much worse and I decided it would be best to get moving. With the rest of the gear loaded, Rob pushed out the boat with Nick riding in the middle. Same deal as before in that once outside the break wall, we were hitting the waves and wind full force. With each and every wave, the boat took on more and more water. Every sane sea captain knows when the seas are churning at its worse, that it is wise to stay inside the break wall…but who said I was sane?
We were about half way across when I spotted a rouge wave come out of nowhere and was coming straight at us. This wave dwarfed all others around it and was large enough that any experienced surfer would have paid good monies to ride this one. I hollered to Rob to move back toward the center to keep the boat from going nose first into the wave. I knew I had too much weight in the front of the boat to allow it to ride up over the wave and with it going nose first.
The winds and the roar of the seas as well as the purr of the outboard found Robert hollering back…”what?” as the wave crashed over the bow. The boat had now taken on too much water and with every new crashing wave, it just added more to the point that all that could be seen was railing around the boat. The boat looked like a mini sub that was in a dive sequence with my son’s head sticking above the water looking like the subs periscope.
Panic started to set in from the crew as I barked orders to stay in the middle of the boat as I turned her toward a sandbar that I had fished many a times as a kid. We were in about 21 foot of water as I watched my canvas fishing and duffel bag with all my clothing float out of the boat. I could hear these girly scream of “help help….were going to drown” coming from Nick….or possibly Robert, even though neither would later admit to it.
I had practiced my distress calls of “Mayday Mayday Mayday… this is the SS Minnow and we are taking on water. Mayday Mayday Mayday… I repeat…this is the SS Minnow in need of assistance…were going down”. The only problem was that I had left the radios in my fishing bag that had just floated away off the starboard side.
I told the crew to remain calm and as long as the outboard motor continued to run that we would be fine. At that point the outboard quit and I then announced to the crew that they could now panic because we were screwed. As I looked overboard I could make out the yellow color of the sandbar that the boat at come to rest on. The reason for the outboard quitting had been due to the prop hitting this sand bar and not trying to run with the whole motor under two feet of water.
At this point I told the crew to get out of the boat. They both looked at me with fear in their eyes wondering why I would make them leave the safety of the boat while it was still technically floating. I screamed…we are on the sandbar and once Nick spotted Robert get out of the boat and stand in water only to his knee caps, he lunged from the boat with this large light blue tote filled with he and Justin’s gear on top of his head, that had to weigh some 100 pounds and started running in the direction of land so fast, that he looked like he was actually walking on top of the water. The sand bar in this area extended out some 140 yards from shore, and he made it there in record time.
Robert grabbed the front of the boat and started dragging it toward shore. I took off downstream in the direction of my floating gear that ended up on the shore some 200 yards below. The tackle box with some three hundred plus dollars worth of gear was never found and feared it had actually went over the falls. The following day Robert and I went into town to pick up a few things and noticed that the cold water rescue team was out in the river and wondered if they had found my tackle box and gear and were now looking for survivors’.
Once in camp, it was found that all of Roberts and my clothing were completely soaked. Somehow Nick and Justin’s gear and clothing had stayed dry due to Nick’s smart actions of the walking on the water maneuver he had pulled from the sandbar. Robert stayed in his wet clothing and I was seen in my hunting pants that were damp, no underwear and a sweatshirt that was only soaked part way up. I also wore my sister Marcie’s fuzzy slippers that she had left there to use during the summer months.
The boys fished half the night for bullheads with good luck and were up and going the following morning to fish for walleyes. There was a decent chop on the water and Rob and I rolled a couple but had been unable to land one. We caught a number of perch and that night the boys ended up doing a number once again on more bullheads. Justin had been the only one to catch a keeper walleye that day that measured in at 18 inches. 15 inch is the minimum size that you are allowed to keep.
Sunday morning found the pond to be as still as glass with no breeze in sight. We do the majority of our fishing using jigs and the wind to help accomplish drift patters looking for walleyes. Since Robert had to work that afternoon, we decided to pack-up our gear and head for home. The first day proved to be enough of an adventure for me and I wanted to get home to accomplish safe things like falling trees in 60 mile and hour winds.
Everyone survived another year of guys weekend at the falls and we are already looking forward and planning for next years adventures. As it stands right now, I am considered a folk hero of sort and the talk of the town up there of ….hey…did you hear of what that crazy ass Edie did of sinking his boat twice? The last fool to cross the pond with waves like that was his father and grandfather of which both had a few sunk boats to their names….dumb ass!
As my wife likes to say…it’s always an adventure when I am around. Stay tuned because it is still early in the season with many more adventures on the horizon.
As time permits I will be writing articles of how too and my 46 years of adventures of hunting and fishing in the North Country. I really hope this take off with many of you posting back and writing related stories about your adventures. We can also be found at http://www.nyhunter.com and http://www.nysportsmen.com