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!

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tips and Tricks for Hunting on a Budget

It's no secret that the economy has everyone watching their pennies lately.  But just because disposable income has become as scarce as a big buck on opening day, it doesn't mean you have to stay home this season.  I've found a few ways to help cut down on the cost but still have fun in the field.
  • Contrary to what advertisers want you to believe, you don't need the newest, latest, greatest hunting gadgets to be successful. Twenty years ago, we didn't use range finders, heaters, mechanical broadheads, trail cameras, or fancy feeders and we still managed to find deer.  If you're just starting out, the sensory overload of a Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops trip can be discouraging for your mind and your wallet.  Depending on what you're targeting this season, all you need is your gun or bow and yourself.  You have years to accumulate all the paraphernalia of a hunting junkie. 
  • Time it right.  At the end of the season, retailers are trying to rid themselves of old inventory to make room for summer sports equipment.  This can be a great chance to score camo, shooting accessories, calls, and other hunting-specific gear at a big discount
  • Use your email.   Many hunting gear and clothing retailers offer discounts when you sign up on their mailing list.  Womens' specialty camo sites SHE Safari and Prois both send emails to members offering sales and discounts. 
  • Make it a group effort.  Network with other hunters so you can combine funds and gear.  For hunting trips out of town, fuel, guide fees, and hotel rooms can get expensive fast.  Sharing your passion with other hunters can help cut down on these traveling expenses.  Some guides will even give you a discount if you book a certain number of friends with you on your hunt.  You also get the added bonus of sharing your experiences with good friends.  
  • Go public.  Guided hunts and leases can be expensive.  Though it takes a little more work, hunting public land can be rewarding and make you a much better hunter.  Make sure to read up on your state's public hunting regulations as they can change frequently.  
  • If you do want to hunt with a guide, hunt during the week.  Some outfitters will offer a discount to hunters who will hunt during the week or un-popular weekends.  As an added bonus, hotel rooms can  be cheaper during the week.  
  • Craigslist, garage sales, and estate sales can be a great place to find good gear at huge discounts.  For bows or firearms it's a good idea to take someone along who knows what they're looking at, but used gear can be a great way to try out different hunting and camping equipment without draining your wallet. 
With a little time and planning, you can accessorize like a pro without eating ramen five nights/week to pay for it.  Happy Hunting!

Monday, October 10, 2011

My first bow harvest!!!!!

It still doesn't seem real, but I made my first bow kill this weekend.  Friday night I set out for the Nooner Ranch in Hondo, Texas with good friend Chris.  Ranch Manager Gene Naquin greeted us and showed us to our rooms.  After we were all settled, Chris and two other hunters went to site in their rifles and  I was introduced to my guide Matt Lea, a senior at Texas A&M studying wildlife and an avid bowhunter.  I was glad to have the chance to pick his brain.  Matt watched me shoot a 3D target and we made sure my Slick Trick broadheads were shooting true.  After passing the test we all went back to the lodge to get ready for the night's hunt. 

Omar the Ringtail

We discussed what kind of deer I had in mind and ever since I was a kid, I'd had my heart set on a deer with a drop tine.  Gene and Matt knew just the deer, but told me that he usually comes out in the morning.  It was finally time, and we set out in the Rangers for our first hunt.  We jumped a big 8-point while climbing in the blind, but he came right back after we were settled.  He was quickly followed by the a gorgeous 10.  Right behind him a 230" plus came out and I don't think my mouth has ever gone drier, faster.  We watched these guys til almost dark when the prettiest 10-point I've ever seen came out showing off at least 13" G2s.  Incredible!  It was getting too dark to shoot, when two of the bucks started to fight.  All of the sudden this huge, dark deer came running out of the woods looking to fight.  His body dwarfed all the other deer in the field and he was MEAN!  He ran every single deer off the feeder...even the 200+.  He didn't even care to eat, all he wanted to do was fight, and you could tell by the way he walked that he was the dominant deer in the woods.  He was a 10-point with a drop tine and a ton of mass.  I HAD to have him!!

I couldn't even think about shooting any other deer after watching this bully.  It got too dark to see even through the optics so we wrapped it up and headed back to camp.  I couldn't stop thinking about my monster and how plain mean he was.  What a brute! 

Surprisingly, I slept well that night but not surprisingly, beat the alarm to wake up.  Up until this point in my life I'd never even seen a deer like this in the wild let alone had the opportunity to harvest one.  All I can remember is growing up watching hunting shows about the legendary south Texas whitetails.  The biggest deer I'd ever shot with a rifle barely made 100".  Needless to say, I was worried about my nerves.  The guys in camp asked if I was ready. All I could say to the was "No nerves.  Only death." 

We made it to the stand at 6:45 AM and at 7 one of the smaller bucks from the night before came out.  At 7:15 my guide tapped my knee and whispered "your deer's coming in."    He stopped at exactly 19 yards.  Near front leg reaches forward.  His head turns away.  I draw my Diamond Razor Edge bow slow and easy and can remember hitting my anchor points.  Remember to breathe.  At 7:23 the broadhead slams his shoulder and I hear a huge THUMP before he runs off to the right.  I KNEW I hit him good and the guide did, too.  One quick fist bump and my nerves cut loose.  I started to shake SO BAD! 

Two minutes later my heart sank when it started to POUR down rain.  I couldn't see my arrow and didn't think I got a pass-through so I was really worried we weren't gonna find my deer.  We got out and decided to try and get a feel for which way the deer went without pushing him.

This was the only blood trail we could find and I was really starting to doubt my shot.  I KNEW I hit him in the shoulder and I hadn't been nervous at all.  Why wasn't there more blood????

We didn't want to push him if he wasn't hit well, so I got comfortable while Matt looked for blood close to the blind.  After an hour I figured it was time and got up to find the him.   I started walking out in the direction the deer had run and it wasn't long before I saw Matt.  He was walking towards me with my arrow in his hand and it was VERY bloody.  I said "Hey!  That looks pretty good!"  He said "Yep, deer looks good, too."  WHAT!?!?  There he was.  Only about 60 yds from where he was hit.  I'd hit both lungs and he was down.

The Slick Trick broadhead did its job

I still can't believe how it all came together.  It was such a special hunt and having the opportunity to watch how this deer interacted with the other deer the night before made it even better.  I would never have known what an absolute brute he was.  It took three of us to load him in the Polaris and he ended up going 200# on the nose!

It was an absolutely PERFECT weekend that I'll remember forever.  He ended up scoring 160.1" B&C, with 7" brow tines and 14 points.  I'm hooked on this bowhunting thing BAD now.  Thank you SO MUCH to Gene Naquin and Matt Lea at the Nooner Ranch.  They made a great experience even better.  I've never had so much fun.  Wohoo!!!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scouting report

Went out to the national forest to try and find a spot to hunt next month so I loaded up the Griz and headed north.  It was SO nice to get outta the city and the cooler weather made it even better.  Since I'm hunting public land I needed to keep a few things in mind:  find a place to hunt close to camp so I don't have to drag a deer too far, find a good trail because you can't use bait, and get away from most of the high-traffic areas close to the main roads as there will be a lot of other hunters there.  Armed with a topo map and gps I headed out Saturday afternoon.

The first thing I wanted to find was water.  It's been a very dry summer so I figured if I could find water, I'd find deer.  As I walked south down a trail from camp, I followed a fenceline that was private land to the west.  There were several blinds along the fence on the private side and figured the public land must get a lot of pressure during gun season and smart private hunters sit on the property line waiting for deer to cross.  I also thought that may mean there are feeders on the private side.  So my amended game plan was to follow the property line and find a good trail running into private land.  This method paid off fairly quickly and I found a good trail headed across the property line.  I followed it south but didn't see any tracks or scat.  There was pig sign EVERYWHERE.  The trail petered out and I drifted south until hitting a big creek running east/west.

One of the buck rubs found
Running parallel to the stream was another good trail.  There wasn't any scat or tracks again, but there were fresh rubs along the trail about every 20-30 yards.  This was the most sign I'd seen all afternoon so I figured I'd follow the creekbed further west and see if I could find a good crosstrail.  Well, that plan worked great as I found a deep pool in the creek with water and lots of tracks and a HUGE doe.  Unfortunately, I'd crossed the property line without realizing it and was on private land.  I followed the creek back until I crossed the fence boundary of the national forest and started looking for more sign.  Eventually I picked up the trail with the rubs along it and there was a big, nasty thicket just north of there so I was thinking that would be a great draw for pressured deer.  Happy with finding some sign and having a rough idea of where I'd like to put my stand, I headed back to camp before dark.

Yes, I was camped out alone.  It can be done, but you have to make sure and take proper precautions.  I always leave a note at the house before I leave with where I plan to go, what I plan to do, when I left, and when I intend to return.  I have a chl and keep a gun or two handy at all times.  In the national forest you can't carry a pistol without a chl and there's a ton of pig and E Tx meth addict sign so there's no way you'll catch me out there without a blaster.  Griz makes a pretty good alarm too.  The poor thing is afraid of the dark and with the burn ban in place, we couldn't have a campfire.  Well, right at dark an armadillo decided to make a trip all the way around our campsite...what a ruckus!  Poor Griz about came unglued!  I got tired of him freakin' so grab the pistol in one hand and the six-cell mag-lite in the other and head off to chase the dang thing outta camp.  Griz was VERY worried but refused to leave the truck...little weenie.

Home Sweet Camp

The night was absolutely gorgeous and I just love sleeping out under the stars, but the weather had other plans.  Just about midnight the wind started blowing and I could smell the rain so we had to move the party into the cab of the truck.  It was still awesome to listen to the fat raindrops hitting the roof of the truck and the lightening put on quite a show. 

The next morning we headed back out with the plan of starting at the trail with the rubs and choosing a good tree to put a stand in.  The wind started coming out of the east and it looked like the buck was traveling from east to west as all the rubs were on the northeast side of the trees.  When choosing a tree I tried to find one large enough that it wouldn't sway a whole lot in the wind.  I also wanted a tree that was straight and easy to climb, but that had some branches for cover.  Luckily the trail was in a fairly open floodplain so I wouldn't need to cut any shooting lanes.  I don't want anyone to come upon my spot and decide they like it as much as I do.  Unfortunately, the wind started changing directions so I don't know how this spot's gonna work but it's the best place I've found so far.  Only time will tell...

I settled on a couple of oak that was very straight about 15 yards from the trail.  I don't want to be right on the trail as the deer would see me, but don't want to be too far so that I can't get a shot.  A cedar also looked like it'd work and I liked it for the cover-scent properties and all the little branches sticking out that I could use for cover.  I plan to go back out with my stand to practice setting it up and will end up using the tree that is the easiest to get set up in and gives me the best shooting opportunities.

Once I settled on a tree I decided to follow the creek bed back to the east and do a little exploring.  The rain the night before gave me a great opportunity to see exactly what animals were moving at what time of day and what direction they were headed.  The creek had a perfect sandy bottom and the rain was right at midnight so I knew that all the tracks I was seeing were from early that morning.  I was able to figure out that all the deer tracks were headed north, which made sense as all the fresh tracks I'd seen from the night before were headed south.

I saw lots of coyote tracks and they were moving up and down the channel all along its length.  There were a few deer tracks and tons of pigs tracks and wallows.  This creek is perfect for pig hunting because the banks are really high.  If I ever want to come and hunt pigs I know just where to go...just sit up on one of those bluffs above water and wait.

I ended up hiking about three miles southeast down the creek channel before heading back north to camp.  Unfortunately I didn't see any critters that morning.  I thought for sure we would sneak up on something in the creek with as quiet as the rain made the leaves.  All we saw was a dead armadillo, though.  I was surprised to find some cow tracks down in the creek, too.  They were very fresh and at one point I could smell the cows, but never did get to see them.

Overall it was an awesome weekend.  When we got back to camp I dozed off in the shade in my zero-gravity chair.  Heading home was so hard but I was outta food and HUNGRY.  Can't wait to go back!

On the way back we stopped at Coffee Mill Lake to see if it was holding any water.  Griz loves to pose:
The wind was blowing like crazy from the south. 

Don't forget the binoculars in your pack!
You can never have too much water with you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stephenville Pig Hunt

August 20, 2011 I drove out to Paluxy, Tx to hunt pigs with Joel and a couple guys from TFF.  Joel said he'd been seeing tons of pigs in the creek bottom.  I hunted Saturday night and didn't see anything though there was a LOT of sign.  I was hunting at the top of a bluff and just before dark Saturday night a little raccoon popped right up over the edge.  He was only about 4 feet away and way surprised to see me there!  I tried to draw on him really slow, but he ran back down the bluff and as soon as he hit the water, he let me have it!  Don't think I've ever heard a coon make so much noise.

Sunday I hunted from 6 to 3.  It hit 107 degrees.  Only saw one pig on the other side of the creek and he was moving too fast to get a shot on.  Learned I'm WAY out of hunting shape.  Was really sore for a few days after from sitting still for so long.  Saw a couple of hummingbirds and one scared the crap outta me when it appeared outta nowhere right in front of my nose. 

Joel drove me around a couple of fields after picking me up from my stand and we found a lot of fresh pig sign down the creek from where we hunted.  It looks like the pigs had moved on. 

Lessons Learned:
Thermocells ROCK.  Used it at the first sign of skeeters.  As soon as I turned it on I never saw another bug.
Those neck scarves that you put in the cooler to soak up water work great too.  Saved my rear when it was above 100 Sunday.
Used coon urine on boots as cover scent.  Also, fresh earth clip-ons and spray.   Didn't see any deer but one busted me when I was leaving the stand Sunday. 

Well, here goes nothin'!

I'm starting this blog for two reasons: (1) to keep track of my hunting and fishing adventures so the little details don't escape, and (2) help any other women learning to hunt in Texas.  It's no secret that hunting is a traditionally male-dominated sport and learning to hunt can be a challenge even for them.  Being a woman just ads another challenge.  As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate women and the role that they play in each others' lives.  Growing up in western Pa, women were generally regarded as second-class citizens...good only for breeding and cooking.  We were a PITA to take anywhere and not worth taking the time to teach.  As I got out of that environment and experienced different parts of the country, I realized that not only are women NOT insignificant, they're an essential part of every person's or woman.  

The most influential moment in this "great awakening" was my introduction to the DIVAs.  This group of Texas women showed me that it's OK to love to hunt and fish and that you can look good doing it!  Before I met the DIVA's, like most folks my idea of a woman hunter went one of two ways...the chick easily mistaken for a man, complete with butch haircut and lip full of chew, or the wannabe pretty girl just out to find a boyfriend.  I'd never met anyone like myself...a woman with a deep passion for wildlife, the outdoors, shooting sports, and hunting, but who also appreciates a pedicure and a good Merlot.  But at my first DIVA meeting I met a room FULL of women who loved jewelery, camo handbags, facials, and shotguns!  Eurika!  And not only were they kindred spirits, they were committed to helping other women learn to become empowered by firearms.  They helped women find strength and self-worth by learning a typically male sport.  And not only did these women like to shoot, they shot WELL.  And they were proud of it.  My eyes were beginning to open.

Growing up in Pa most of my hunting opportunities were handed to me by male relatives.  I went along when I was allowed and didn't have much choice where or when I would go.  I jumped on every opportunity to be in the woods, and these early experiences instilled a deep passion and appreciation for the outdoors that I will always cherish, however as young people are want to do, I took my opportunities for granted.  Now after a 10-year hiatus from hunting I find myself in Texas, a state with very little public hunting opportunities.  No longer do I have the encyclopedic hunting experience of male relatives to draw on or acres of private land at my disposal.  I'm on my own, in a huge state, with unfamiliar game laws, new species, and new dangers.  I've never had to think about running into illegals or meth labs while hunting.   I've never had to look at a map and determine where I should place my stand.  I've never had to figure out how to get a large deer out of the woods on my own.  It's an intimidating prospect at best, but what worth doing isn't??? 

As I've started along this journey, I've learned a lot about myself and come to realize that women are so much more than baby factories.  I've finally realized that my relationships with women are what keep me sane.  I'm  not alone.  Men may come and go in our lives, but our girlfriends will always be there.  Not only are we sensitive and emotional and care for others, we can kick ass at the range, hail a flock of mallards, and pattern a trophy buck.  That's what makes women so powerful and special! 

I know I'll make mistakes on this new journey, but hopefully someone can learn from them and find the peace and happiness that I do from being in the woods. 

Happy Hunting!