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!

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!!!!!!