Starting a new hobby or sport can be intimidating. For a prospective woman hunter, terms like cull, broadhead, high-brass, or choke tube can sound like a foreign language. Add the ever-increasing cost of equipment, the potential to encounter a rattlesnake or large predator, and a societal aversion to firearms, and it's easy to see why many women choose a scrap book over a tree stand. However, in my opinion these initial challenges are also what make being a successful hunter so rewarding. Welcome to my site and happy hunting!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Importance of Good Record Keeping

It's no secret that the declining economy has everyone looking for new was to make extra money.  Unfortunately, this includes the criminal element.  And now that threats of stricter gun laws dominate the news, your weapons have become an irresistible temptation for thieves. We spend a lot of time and money on firearm education, equipment, and safety to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but what about protection for those firearms?

Your first line of defense is a good safe.  True, they can be expensive, but then again, so is your gun collection.  Many of our guns have sentimental value and have been passed down from generation to generation.  Buy the strongest, biggest safe that your budget and room allow.  If you can't afford a safe, you can buy a good locking gun cabinet.  Sometimes you can find good deals at estate sales or craigslist.  The problem with gun cabinets is many have a glass door.  This is very nice as a decoration and way of displaying your collection, but it also does a good job of showing a potential thief what you have and where they all are.   So keep it out of sight as much as possible, not in the living room where every delivery driver and repair man can scope it out.  In the absence of a cabinet or safe, at the very least, keep your guns out of sight under a bed or in a closet...somewhere that doesn't suffer from extreme temperature changes.  Also, keep them out of cases if at all possible as this promotes rust.

Another important part of keeping you firearm collection safe is good record keeping.  Should someone get past your best security efforts and steal your weapons, you need to be able to give the police a detailed description of each firearm, including the manufacturer, make, model, and serial number.  A very good way to keep track of this information is to take digital photos of all angles,  features (including serial number), and accessories.  Keep a hard copy of the photos and any receipts in a safe place at home and another set in a safe deposit box.  Also, upload electronic copies of the photos and records to a photo sharing site like photobucket (just be sure to set your privacy settings so only you can view them).   This is a great way to be able to access your firearms records if your camera or computer is stolen, or a disaster destroys your hard copies.  The sooner you can supply the police with your serial numbers and descriptions, the faster they can get it to local pawn shops, and the better chance you have of recovering your property.

Having a current list and estimate of the value of your firearms collection is also very important for insurance purposes.  Have a good insurance policy and double check that it covers firearms because some don't.  Make sure you have enough coverage to replace everything if lost, and update it as needed.  Keeping good records will help you replace your property should the police be unable to find it. 

Finally, in this technological age, be careful what you post online.  When you're logged into online forums or social networking sites, it can be REALLY tempting to post pictures of your new bow decked out in the latest site/rest/hog light combo.  But you don't know who could be reading your post.  And you may have saved for months to buy that new AR with night vision, but if you mention on Facebook how you found such a good deal on .223 ammo that you stocked up enough to survive the zombie apocalypse, you may as well be giving a thief the green light to relieve you of your new blaster and saving him a trip to pick up ammo.

So just as taking that extra time to practice gun safety at the range prevents costly and dangerous mistakes, completing the boring task of record keeping can prevent the loss of a lifetime investment in gear, keep your weapon out of a criminal's hand, and your grandfather's heirloom shotgun safely on it's way to your daughter next Christmas. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

What lipstick goes with Reatree APG???

The other night I was watching American Hoggers on A&E.  Before you judge me, I was doing research.  There are two girls on the show that do a lot of the "hoggin'" so I had to check it out to see how these girls represented the rest of us hunting women.  The show is about an old Texan who runs a hog hunting business with his son and daughter.  This sounds innocuous enough and I'm all for a show highlighting the detrimental effects of hogs on the Texas economy and environment, with the added bonus of promoting women hunters, but unfortunately, it's far from realistic.

Krystal Campbell of American Hoggers
I ran into the same problem when watching some of the other "legitimate" hunting shows featuring women.  On The Crush with Lee and Tiffany and Beyond the Hunt husband/wife teams hit the stand to promote their special brand of hunting prowess.  Please don't get me wrong.  Shows like this bring much-needed attention to women in the outdoors and are partly responsible for our ability to find camo that actually fits off the rack.  But I've been in the outdoors all my life and I've never worried about losing my ring in the body cavity of a deer or tearing up my brand new jeans climbing over a barbed wire fence.  These girls are out there in pristine designer clothes, full makeup, jewelery, and hair perfectly styled.  I realize that this is TV, and it's not supposed to be real, but some women watching may not know that.  On American Hoggers, Krystal "Pistol" Campbell is out in 100-degree weather in full makeup.  There's not one of us who's ever had a job outside in the heat who wears makeup when we're out there.  The first time you sweat it's gonna come pouring off your face and you're gonna be left looking more like the hog than a hogger.  And any outdoor chick knows you don't wear brand new clothes out in the brush.  All that said, perhaps I should cut them some slack.  I don't know that you could catch me on national tv without a stitch of makeup on. 

Tiffany Lakosky of The Crush With Lee and Tiffany
Women obviously face discrimination when it comes to male-dominated sports and hobbies and we have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves.  I wonder if the positive press these shows bring to outdoor women is diminished by the "fluffy" packaging of its stars.  They already catch hogs, kill deer, and keep up with the men in every way.  Maybe if they looked the part they could bring even more credibility to our sisterhood.

It's also possible that I'm being a  little hard on the girls.  Let's face it, sex sells.  And these women are getting paid to do what they love.  They're bringing attention to the sport and cashing in on the new-found  popularity of women in the outdoors.  If getting dressed up in fancy clothes and perfectly coiffed hair helps market your brand then more power to you!  As for me, the vacation from make-up and curling irons is just another added perk of deer camp. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Prois Award

Prois Camo company is running a contest to find the hardcore female hunter of the year.  Check out the final 12 and vote for your favorite.  The winner will be invited on a combination hunt for Elk, Mule Deer, Whitetail and Wolf in the eastern foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. These are some inspiring woman hunters!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Not to Be a Bonehead

The first kiss with with your crush.  Opening up on a flock of mallards cupping into the dekes.  Finding the perfect pair of jeans.  There's no question these are some of the best feelings in the world for a woman, but they don't even come close to a hot shower after days of camping and hard hunting in the woods.  I'm back from my first solo hunt on public land in Texas and wow...what a trip.  The learning curve was STEEP and hopefully you can benefit from some of my bonehead moves so your first trip goes a little more smoothly.

I got to my camping spot right on time Friday night.  The weather report said it would be going down to 40 that night with a high of 70 the next day.  We're under a burn ban here in Texas, so no campfires allowed, but I was undeterred.  If growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa taught me nothing else, I can handle the cold weather.  I started to get all my gear together which brings me to my first Don't Be a Bonehead Like Me Lesson of the weekend:  Broadheads are sharp.  You'd think this would be a no-brainer, but tell that to the ugly gash on my left thumb.  I wasn't paying close enough attention when screwing the broadhead onto my arrow and dug it in pretty good.  This brings me to Don't Be a Bonehead Lesson Two:  Always pack a first aid kit.  Luckily I wasn't a bonehead on this one and it saved me a trip into town.  The cut was VERY deep so it took awhile for the bleeding to stop.

So here I am with a big, thick pressure bandage on my thumb while trying to and assemble my tree stand.  Don't be a Bonehead Lesson Three:  Assemble all your equipment before you get to camp.  Luckily I had all the tools that I needed, but I had no idea that the stand would require so much assembly before use.  I was all excited about getting into the woods and hunting but unfortunately spent most of my night trying to interpret the cryptic assembly instructions.  I was pretty proud of myself when I finally got it all together and strapped on my pack.  On public land in Texas you can't leave a stand up for more than 72 hours so I have to pack my stand in every weekend.  Some tree stands, like the one I was using, come with backpack straps.  They're not the most comfortable things in the world so if you're going to be hiking very far, I'd suggest picking up some seatbelt pads or foam pipe lining to wrap around the straps.  I used bungee cords to attach my gear pack to the frame of the stand and they worked really well.  It's also important to remember with a metal stand like this, to secure all of the straps so the metal buckles don't bang around when you're walking into your spot.  You want to be as quiet as possible.

All packed up and ready to go.
By the time I got my stand assembled, lashed everything together, doctored my wound, sprayed myself down with cover scent, and got Griz settled in the back of the truck it was already 5 o'clock, so decked out in my blaze orange (a minimum of 400 square inches is required on public land when any firearm season is authorized )  I set out at a quick pace for the spot I'd picked out almost a month before.   I used my GPS to navigate right to my stand, making sure to come in from the back side.  Even though it took a bit longer, I didn't want to cross the trail that I thought the deer would be using.  Always try to approach your set-up from the opposite side that you expect the deer to be coming from so as not to contaminate it with your scent.

Don't Be a Bonehead Lesson 4:  Leave yourself MUCH more time to and from the stand than you think you'll need.   Though I had intended to, I never practiced setting this particular stand in a tree before the big day.  The straps were fed through the clamps incorrectly at the manufacturer so it took a lot longer to figure out how to affix it to the tree securely.  I was getting a little frustrated because I was already late and was making so much noise there probably wasn't a deer within 5 miles that didn't know I was there.  I'll admit I was pretty nervous the higher up in the tree I got, and by the time I had the stand in place, the butterflies in my stomach had me wondering if I was doing the right thing.  After testing the security of the stand, I climbed down and attached my bow to the pull-up rope.  You never want to carry your gun or bow up into the tree with you; always use a rope and pull it up to you.  Once in my stand and armed I felt a lot better, and couldn't help but notice how quiet the woods were.  I'd made a LOT of noise getting set up and it was the best time of the night to hunt, but I was just proud of my accomplishment of actually getting the stand in the air.  Just before dark I heard a pack of coyotes howling in the direction of camp and started to worry about Griz back there all by himself.  When it got too dark to see my sites I lowered my bow back down to the ground, nervously crawled myself back down, and headed to camp. 

You would think that my load would have been lighter since I didn't have to carry my stand, but a heavy dose of guilt was weighing me down on the way back up to camp.  I kept hearing the coyotes and even though I was only a half-mile from camp, the hike took forever.  All kinds of horrible scenes were flashing through my head and I dreaded what I'd find.  I never worried about coyotes before and at 50 pounds, Grizzly weighs more than the the average coyote.  But I've recently heard stories about packs of them chasing down and killing adult whitetail.  If they can take a buck down, surely they can lure my little Griz out of the safety of the pickup.  I can tell you, I've never been so happy as when I flashed my headlamp towards the truck and saw two WIDE green eyes peering over the bed.  Ever since he was a pup, Griz has been afraid of the dark and I think he was just as happy to see me and my headlamp as I was to see him in one piece.

After some hot soup and crackers Griz and I crawled into the back of the truck to do a little reading before bed.  He usually sleeps at the foot of my cot and as it was getting pretty cold already, I covered him with a heavy blanket.  The night was clear and the stars were absolutely brilliant.  That's one of the biggest reasons I sleep in the back of the truck and not in a tent...there's nothing in the world like sleeping right under the stars.  It didn't take me long to figure out that I wasn't dressed warm enough so I put on a few more layers and settled in to sleep.  About midnight Griz woke me up demanding to get in the sleeping bag with me.  I'll admit I was frozen so I let him in and we snuggled for warmth.  This leads us to Don't Be a Bonehead Lesson 5:  Always pack for much hotter and much cooler weather than you expect.  I'd checked the weather when I left and packed for 40 degrees.  Friday night it was MUCH colder than 40 degrees and that made it a VERY long night.  I didn't even bother setting the alarm because I knew the hunting clothes that I'd brought were totally insufficient for weather like this.  So I just stayed in the sleeping bag with Griz until the sun got high enough to make moving around a little less torturous.  Yep...I'm a weenie.  And I'm OK with that.  I have cold-weather gear, but it wasn't doing me much good 150 miles away in my warm house.  I heated up some water to wash off my face, made some tea, and instantly felt better.  Then I got dressed and headed out for Round 2.

My silhouette in the morning sun
Climbing into the stand wasn't nearly as intimidating this time.  Once I got in and settled the sun even poked through the trees and warmed my right side.  The woods was MUCH more active this morning than the night before.  There were at least a half-dozen fat fox squirrels running around providing plenty of entertainment.  I practiced standing up and drawing on them so I'd be ready for when the deer showed.  With a cold front coming through just two days before and the cold night we'd just had, I was SURE they'd show.  I also practiced ranging the trees around me so I'd know exactly how far the deer would be.

Just as I was laughing at a baby gray squirrel trying to jump across the creek I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was a deer!  Finally!  All that scouting time, and hiking with the heavy uncomfortable pack, nervous stand set-up, and freezing cold camping was finally going to pay off!  She was just a small doe, but she was coming right towards me from about 60 yards away.  My heart instantly jumped into my throat.  I attached my release to the string and waited in anticipation for her to cross the big green ash tree in front of her that would signal she was in range.  Before she got to it though, she turned and headed behind me along the creek.  My heart sank, but I still had a chance.  If she passed behind me I could still get a shot at her as long as she stayed on the same side of the creek.  She went into a little thicket and I strained behind me to see where she went.  Sitting still, hardly breathing for what seemed like hours, I waited for her to emerge from the brush.  Unfortunately, she never did.  It's OK though!  At least I know I'm in the right spot.  There are deer here and they're moving.  It's only a matter of time.

Really cold morning
 For the next few hours I check the trail she came in on for the buck I knew would be following.  The squirrels all went up to their nests for the afternoon and the woods got quiet again.  Every once in awhile I'd hear a raccoon down in the creek behind me and I was hoping a pig or coyote would show so I could practice actually shooting from my stand.  Unfortunately they never did so I finally decided to crawl down and take a break.  When buying my tree stand, I wanted to make sure the one I decided on would be light and easy to pack so I chose the one with the smallest seat.  Don't Be a Bonehead Lesson Number 6:  When you hang your stand in a tree, make sure it's not leaning in the direction you want to place your stand.  Between the small seat and being tilted forward, it was very hard to get comfortable in the stand so I couldn't sit as long as I wanted to.  Before heading back to camp I walked over to where I'd last seen the doe so I could figure out where she went and my heart sank.  Only 50 yards from where my stand was hung, there was a well-defined trail heading north-south crossing both the creek and the east-west trail I was hunting.  There were tons of fresh tracks crossing the creek and I knew if I'd have just looked further down the trail while scouting I'd have found this crossing.  Don't Be a Bonehead Lesson 7:  Placing a stand on one trail is good, but placing it at a good trail crossing is even better.  I contemplated moving my stand over to the crossing, but finally decided against it since it was so much work to get it up there in the first place and my hunting weekend was already more than half over.  My next stand is DEFINITELY going to be a climbing model so I don't have to worry about this problem again.  So I guess that would be Don't Be a Bonehead Lesson 8:  Be mobile if you can.

I hiked back to camp, made some lunch, and had a perfectly wonderful nap in the sunshine after which I tried to decide what to do.  I really wasn't relishing the idea of spending another freezing night out.  Knowing that my stand wasn't in the most optimum spot helped solidify my decision to head home for the night.  I took Griz on the hike back down to the stand to pull it out of the tree.  It was a LOT easier to get it down than it was to put it up.   Back in the truck Griz slept hard all the way home.  It was nice to sleep in my own, warm bed, and Sunday was spent unloading the truck, cleaning, organizing gear, and recovering.  From all the hiking in and out of the stand and carrying a heavy pack my legs were SORE.  I'm glad the way things turned out, even though I may not have gotten a deer, I don't think I've ever learned more on a single hunting trip.  I know I'll do things different next time, and can't WAIT to get out again.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What to Pack for Your Hunting Trip

I'm getting ready to head to the stand for the last weekend of archery season before gun season opens up here in north Texas.  A cold front is blowing through today and there's a chill in the air.  I can hardly contain myself for the anticipation of the hunt!  I finally get to see if all that time spent scouting pays off.

I've been spending all week preparing gear, washing clothes, and getting everything ready.  For my hunting clothes (don't forget your coat), I washed them in Primos Silver XP Scent Eliminator Laundry Detergent and dried them outside.  After they were dry, I wore gloves to load them into a trash bag with some leaves and dirt in it to cover any remaining human scent.  This is very important for archery hunting, but not as much if you're going to be rifle hunting.

As I'm going to be spending the next three days primitive camping, I have two lists of things I need to bring:  camping gear and hunting gear.  Always remember to leave a note and let someone know where you plan to camp and when you plan to return home.  A map of your stand location is also a good idea if you'll be hunting alone.  If you think of anything else that I need to add to the list, leave me a note in the comments. 

Camping Gear:                                  Hunting Gear:
Water jugs                                           GPS
Propane                                               Binoculars
Grill                                                     Map
Matches                                              Range finder
Garbage bags                                      Cover scents
Sleeping bag/pillows/blankets               Sharp knife and/or multi-tool
Cooking pots/plates/flatwear                 Camelback
Cot                                                     Thermocell
Food                                                   Bow/arrows/target/rifle/ammo
Dog food                                             Tree stand
Lantern                                                Flashlight/headlamp
Cooler/ice                                            Flagging
Chairs                                                 Safety harness
Clothes  (to dress in layers)                  Hunting license
Towels/rags                                         Gloves/facemask
Rain gear                                            Camo clothing for hot and cold weather
Prescription drugs/aspirin/antacid          Hot hands/hand warmers
Boots                                                  Day pack
Hand gun (if permitted)                          Hunter orange (if required)
Camera/film/video camera                     Grunt call                          
Toiletries                                             Rattling horns
Extra batteries for all electronics
Toilet paper