July 8, 2012
May 31, 2012
The comment wasn't particularly vitriolic, I'm sure other bloggers and hunters have endured much worse. But if I'm honest, it did bother me. I was told I was a murderer, had a "shit life" and called a jerk-off. I did find it interesting that the poster chose to remain anonymous. A nameless, faceless entity sitting behind a computer screen still has a right to an opinion but I've chosen to not reply, as it seemed superfluous to debate a coward. Make no mistake- I think this person a coward. Spewing words is easy, taking responsibility for them is not. But it made me wonder, is that what people think? That we as hunters are murdering, marauding, bloodthirsty killers. I'm sure there are some, but I think they are an aberration not the norm.
I can't speak for every hunter out there in the woods. I can only speak for myself. I didn't come to hunting in order to kill. Certainly I was aware that it would be a part of it, but it wasn't the reason. I came to hunting after a circuitous and thoughtful journey. I'd grown up around hunters, I'd been exposed to shooting sports my entire life. One of my favorite Christmases ever included a Cabbage Patch doll and a 12 gauge pump shotgun under the tree. Most of the men and a hand full of women in my life have hunted at some point. Hunting was not a foreign concept to me. I just didn't see myself doing it until around 2004.
We had passed through Fort Worth Texas and drove by the stockyards there. I was struck by the enormity of the place. When we stopped for a meal, it was hard to eat the hamburger in front of me and not think of the beautiful creatures we'd passed on our drive. As a child, I was well aware of where my food came from. My father raised pigs and hunted. My uncles raised cattle. But the years had softened that awareness and made it a vague idea. I felt such shame that day realizing that someone else had taken the responsibility for the death that resulted in my meal.
I considered a vegetarian lifestyle so I did some research. I came to realize that even a completely vegan life was not one free of death. Pesticides and farm equipment destroy habitat and kill animals (birds, insects, rodents and rabbits) even as they produce the soybeans that made the tofu burger I was considering. Why should I be accepting of this death but not that of other animals?
How could I provide my body with protein and not be the agent of another creatures death? I found no answer. So, the question became how can I provide my body with protein in a way that honors and doesn't minimize the life of the creature that died to provide it? I came to hunting as the answer.
Each season, the deer I kill provide my family with sustenance and nourishment throughout the year. The cattle in the stockyard, the bird nesting in the soybean field, the insect munching on the soybean- their chances of survival are fairly slim compared to the deer that cross under my stand. I thank God, the universe, Mother Nature or whoever it is you believe runs things each time I'm given the gift of a successful hunt.
The first deer I killed was an emotional experience. Despite having been around when my father slaughtered hogs, I'd never knowingly and intentionally killed anything larger than an insect. I even let snakes go on about their business. The majestic creature that fell to my bow that evening will forever be etched in my memory and will always be a part of who I am. Through hunting, I feel a more direct connection with the animal I consume. How could I waste or minimize the sacrifice the deer makes that I may survive? It's easier to do when my meat is wrapped in cellophane on a styrofoam platter, harder when I've killed then helped process the animal.
So, anonymous poster I won't apologize for hunting. It's a thoughtful choice I've made. I'm sorry you don't see it that way. Had you been brave enough to own up to your comments, perhaps we could have had a discussion about it.
May 22, 2012
I strongly encourage EVERYONE to check our your state's Department Natural Resourses' education opportunities. If your state doesn't offer BOW, check neighboring states. TRUST me, you'll love it!
January 1, 2012
But even the enjoyable things have drained me. My emotional well is running dry. I've felt pulled in too many directions this season. I have mostly felt surrounded and inundated by life's noise. The things I want to do and the things I feel like I have to do are rarely on the same path lately. The thing is, I don't know what to do about it.
I realized on my way to the stand this afternoon that this is probably the least time I've hunted since I began this journey. What the hell is wrong with me? I'm furious with myself but truly don't know what I could have done to change anything. I feel helpless to change it and that infuriates me.
I was determined to hunt today. It's the first day of a new year. I refused to allow the noise of my life overwhelm me and prevent me from doing what I love on this day. So FINALLY I'm in a stand. At this point that's going to have to be enough.
December 31, 2011
Earlier in the year a group of women that I’m friends with and are fellow hunters had thrown our hats in the ring in an effort to win a chance at a BeyondBOW hunt that the La. Wildlife and Fisheries was offering. My friend Rhonda’s daughter was the only one lucky enough to snag one the 4 available spots. We were thrilled for her, but honestly a wee jealous too. In an effort to assuage our bruised feelings, my friend Donna decided we’d have an event of our own. I called it the DamnitI’mHunting@Donna’s Event.
She and her husband have 800 acres of beautiful land that they have been hunting on for years. She graciously offered to allow us to come hunt. It turned out to be an amazing weekend. Late one Friday evening, four women descended upon Donna and her husband, Vince. We spent the weekend hunting, laughing (A LOT) and consuming a ridiculous amount of food. It was amazing.
Among the five of us, there is a huge range of experience. Rhonda and Billie Ann are the veterans. They are seasoned, experienced hunters. I don’t think it’s an overstatement that my friendship with Billie Ann and Rhonda is the one of the main reasons why I am a hunter. Rhonda encouraged and invited us to attend BOW events which planted the seed and Billie Ann is why I’m a bow hunting fool!
One of the things that kept coming up over the weekend was how we don’t see ourselves or anyone we know (male or female) in most of the current outdoor programming. The overemphasis on rack size, the unrealistic portrayal of ease, the extreme bravado that so many of the shows seem to glorify is something that is foreign to us.
Where are the hunters, female and male, that hunt to fill their freezers? Where are the hunters that sit for hours and don’t come home with venison but still consider it a successful hunt? Where are the hunters that juggle their family lives with their hunting lives? Where are the hunters squeezing hunts in between work hours? Where are the women hunters sweating and swearing while hanging a tree stand? In general, I’m not seeing that on my TV.
I can’t help but think that in addition to sending a mixed message to hunters-that it’s easy, that it’s a rack race, that it has to cost a ton of money- what message are non hunters getting when they flip by the hunting channels on their way to their favorite shows? Is the current programming adding fuel to the anti-hunting fire?
The general consensus among the ladies I hunted with at Donna’s is that there are some shows that are doing it right but in general there’s a lot of room for improvement. Hunting for us isn’t about trophies on the wall. It isn’t about killing. It’s about sitting in a stand and hearing the world wake up. It’s about seeing a doe and her fawn play in the dew. It’s about the squirrel that stalks me at my stand. It’s about feeding my family healthy protein. It’s about sitting around a campfire with other hunters laughing and learning. Don’t get me wrong…I want a monster for my wall but that’s not the reason I hunt.
I follow a gentleman on twitter who is getting it right. Rudy has taken it upon himself to document real hunters. Huntography is what he calls it. It’s pretty fantastic. Real people, hunting in real situations. Realism…kind of crazy.
I am hopeful that I will see myself and the people I know on television one day. A hunting show with REAL people becoming the norm. Fingers crossed.
November 21, 2011
November 2, 2011
When I sit and reflect about the events of the last three years I’m often stunned by the amazing things that I’ve gotten to do. I’ve had the good fortune to be surrounded by some great hunting mentors. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to hunt in some amazing places! A few weeks ago, I got to go back to TEXAS with some folks I definitely consider mentors.
Let me rewind a bit….last April a group of 9 folks and myself made the trek to D’Hanis, Texas to try our bows at some exotics. As a relatively new hunter, I’m acutely aware of my limitations. That trip certainly pushed them, and not always in a good way. One of our party sat in a bar stool chained to a tree for a deer stand. I would have been completely uncomfortable with that situation. And while I certainly enjoyed the camaraderie, the hunting was less than wonderful. The animals were not healthy looking. They were few and far between. A handful of our group killed a few animals and we DID have fun, but the trip was not really what I expected. All I brought home was fleas.
Contrasting that trip is our recent one to the Quatro B Ranch. The term “night and day” comes to mind.
We left my house at 3:30 in the morning headed to the Quatro B Ranch in D’Hanis, Texas, a 10 hour drive. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be worth it. I’d checked out their website, but appearances can be deceiving. In this case…they were not.
From the moment the gates opened I knew that this was going to be a COMPLETELY different experience.
We were met in the lodge (which is beautiful) by the owner Doug Boazman and our guide, Carlos. After unloading the vehicles and choosing our bunks (the bunk house is amazing) we reconvened in the lodge.
Doug went over the rules, discussed our skill levels and reviewed what we were looking for. The package I chose included a horned exotic, a Texas whitetail buck and two hogs. I added a red stag doe and an axis doe for a minimal fee. Carlos then took time and reviewed the animals, their habits, distinguishing features with us. He had a wonderful reference book as well. I was the only one in our party that really needed it, but it was a great resource. Fallow doe vs. axis doe? There is a difference! Now I felt confident that I would be able to tell the difference once I was on the stand.
We took a brief tour of the ranch with Carlos. It’s truly an amazing place. It’s situated on part of an old GM test track. Do you know how surreal it is to be driving along a test track and see a herd of fallow deer cross not 25 yards in front of you?
The animals we saw were in fantastic shape. Healthy, slick and beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get into the stand.
This was going to be an amazing trip.
July 21, 2011
well, pretty lazy actually. I realized a few weeks ago that it had been ages since I’d stopped long enough to blog. Something I loved had fallen by the wayside. I pledged to do better. I was determined to start blogging regularly. That was weeks ago.
How do I let life get in the way of doing the things I love? Everyone is probably guilty of letting their priorities slip occasionally, but lately I really feel like I’ve let life run rampant over me. How screwed up is that? Shouldn’t the things that are truly important to me be my first priorities?
What does this have to do with hunting? A lot actually. I found myself last season letting things get in the way of my hunting time. I’d stay up too late watching TV and feel like damnit in the stand the next morning. I’d bring work to the stand with me, not physically but mentally. I’d bring my worries about other peoples problems to the stand with me. Getting my ass in a tree sometimes took second place to other things. I’ve realized that I’d allowed that mentality to bleed over into my real life after the season ended.
It takes dedication, hard work and time to truly do anything worth doing. What’s important to me? We choose the things we allow in our lives. We choose the things we allow to become our priority.
My family is of course my number one priority. My wonderful circle of friends is next. After that, well the proof is in the pudding as they say. So, with that in mind I have a new recipe as it were.
The ingredient list is short: COPIOUS amounts of family and friends, mix with generous portions of laughter, stand time, reading, and writing! All the rest, well I’ll sprinkle those on top as I see fit!
*Thanks Food Network for the bread pudding pic!
June 18, 2011
He's right of course, but it's not just the blown shots or the hours spent without seeing anything except birds that I'm referring to when I say it's hard.
I've pushed myself physically more in the last two years than I ever have. This season, I climbed higher than I ever have. I've slowly overcome my almost paralysing fear of heights. I've trekked through more forest than I thought possible while tracking animals.
I've pushed myself emotionally more in that last two years than I ever have. I've learned lessons and had spectacular failures. I can't wait for season this year.
November 11, 2010
I got to head to Alabama with the NHB’s again! And this time, I was going with a kill under my belt. No more newbie status for me! Nu-uh. No sir! I’m a proven killer. I’ve got meat in the freezer and freezer don’t lie!
That was my plan. Mother Nature had another.
There had been a terrific drought this year and I think everyone’s green fields have suffered. Our plots on the lease here have some fairly sad bare spots. The Shed wasn’t unscathed. They’d gotten enough rain that the fields had grass but nowhere near the lush fields we got last season. Still, we were put onto some beautiful areas. I hunted green fields and hardwoods. All of them great areas.
The other issue was the weather. FREEZING! Our first morning on the stands it was a balmy 29 degrees. HOLY POPCICLES BATMAN! With a nice brisk wind. Not so great for bow hunting.
That being said, we still had a terrific time.
I was once again afforded the luxury of being in the presence of seasoned, true huntresses. These ladies combined hunting experience is an invaluable resource to me. I enjoy sitting with them and soaking up the knowledge (this time SO much more made sense). I love to hear them share their stories of successful and unsuccessful hunts. We always end up laughing. I always come home sore from the hunt with them. Some soreness due to the hunting, a lot of it due to laughing!
As per tradition a run down of LESSONS LEARNED.
Day 1: Morning hunt…BRING YOUR TREE STRAP.
Paul Meeks of API was generous enough to send safety vests with Kathy for all of the ladies hunting. I wore mine. However, I forgot the tree strap. So much for tree stand safety. My dad would kill me.
Day 1: evening hunt…TAKE YOUR ZYRTEC!!!!
I’ve GOT to take allergy medicine since I’m ALLERGIC TO EVERY FLIPPING TREE IN THE WOODS!!!! This is going possibly be too much information, but I am sometimes amazed by the amount of mucous I can create without any obvious signs of dehydration. It’s bad. Just bad.
Day 2: Morning/afternoon hunt…BRING BETTER LUNCH!
We went out a little later this day because the temps were in the mid 20’s. The thought was we’d stay in the stands from 8:30ish to 2:00ish. I brought a piece of beef jerky and 5 Hershey’s Special Dark bite size pieces. That’s it. Because I’m sort of stupid. I don’t usually eat in the stand so I wasn’t thinking about how long we were actually staying out. Next time I’ll do better! I was STARVING!
Sadly, Billie and I left Saturday night to head back home. We had family obligations that prevented us staying the entire hunt. It was a quick but wonderful time. Getting to see the NHB’s and the fellows at The Shed is always worth any trip!