We have been jumping into the whole rabbit farm thing over the last several months. This week we built yet another double decker hutch, which holds 6 cages. When we have the rabbitry just like we like it, we will have 4 of these banks inside, for a total of 24 holes. I will probably keep one hutch of 3 holes outside as well. Last Saturday, we packed up 22 rabbits (see picture to left) and headed to Charleston for the Sustainability Fair put on by the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. We had a great time, and got to talk to a lot of people. I sold 6 rabbits at the fair, and have had another call to buy a rabbit this week. I hope we made some contacts that will be ready to buy some of the rabbits, and some others looking to purchase manure for fertilizer. Maybe we will open up a market for people looking for rabbits!
Right now, we have 2 litters that are weaned, and 2 litters that are not weaned. I also re-bred 3 does yesterday, and will probably re-breed another today or tomorrow. In about a month, we will have more bunnies than we know what to do with! But, that will be good, as our stock in the freezer has been seriously depleted by not having many litters through the winter.
We are also going to start trying to tan our own hides and (hopefully) sell them. I got a tip from a fellow breeder, suggesting two tanning solutions. The first, DixieTan Paste, is made into a paste, and then put on the hides. This one smells like Sassafras, so I’m really looking forward to trying it. The second is called Johnny Thorpe’s Indian Tan. This is mixed with water in a bucket, and the hides are soaked in it. I’m going to give them both a shot, and see which one works the best for us. I ordered my supplies from F&T Fur Harvester’s Trading Post. If you need any kind of supplies for tanning, I recommend them. They shipped the order very quickly, and were very courteous in their communications. Who could ask for more? I will certainly be using them again for my supplies. They also had the cheapest rates of any suppliers that I could find.
We have expanded into Rex rabbits, which if you have never felt, are much like velvet. They have a short coat, which stands upright, and is very soft. Most people, when they feel them the first time, are amazed at how soft they feel. These rabbits make great garments, and blankets or throws. If all works out well, we hope to fashion some of these pelts into usable goods. Who knows, if we get good at this, we might just expand into doing some of our deer hides next year!
I am going to have to “thin the herd” in the rabbitry soon, so I will try to post about how the tanning procedure works. When I get a surplus, I might even put a few on here…
Far too often, we only hear the bad things about hunting in the media. There are always reports of shootings caused by carelessness, and not identifying game properly. We hear reports of tree stand accidents, reported as “hunting accident” as well as heart attacks from hunters who are out of shape reported under the same pretense. So, it is refreshing to hear it reported that safety is on the way up. That’s exactly what happened in Kansas this year!
According to an article in the Kansas City InfoZine, there were fewer hunting accidents this year than ever before. This is a credit to the hunter safety courses that are taught in the state. According to the article, there are about 1300 volunteers who provide about 20,000 hours of instruction. That all adds up to only 12 reported accident for the 2009 hunting season. Of those, none were fatal. Kansas has 271,000 hunters, and 3.5 million hunting days among them. Of the 12 accidents, 8 were attributed to the “careless handling of a firearm” and 4 were accidents that occurred while swinging on game. It is actually surprising that there were not more of these types of accidents, considering how much bird hunting takes place in the state.
So, what is my point? We hear all the time how dangerous the sport of hunting is. We hear about how dangerous guns are, and that there is no rational reason for people to have, or use them. These statistics show that hunting is a relatively safe sport. What other sport has 271,000 participants, and has only 12 accidents? There are more serious accidents than that in high school football, and yet no one (in their right mind) is calling for a complete ban of that sport. I realize that there are many other arguments for banning hunting, but this argument falls when the facts are examined.
It is great to hear good news in the hunting world. It is helpful for the hunting community to have good press. While some may try to make any accident fodder for the antis, rational people will see just how these statistics prove the safety of hunting. Maybe next year the number will go up a bit, but that doesn’t change the bottom line. More people are hurt by getting in their cars than by taking up a gun and enjoying the outdoor sport of hunting. I’ll be taking my chances come next fall.
We made a trip to Alabama at the beginning of the month. Deer season is in there until the end of January, so I was able to get a bit of hunting in around visiting with friends and family. I didn’t have much luck, but my son, Jacob, connected on his first deer! We had the opportunity to hunt in a couple of great places!
First, I got to hunt with my good friend, Adam. He has a great lease in south east Alabama, that has a ton of deer on it. The sign was plentiful, but unfortunately the deer didn’t want to cooperate with us. It was bitter cold, and the wind was blowing briskly. I thought that going south to do some hunting would provide some opportunity for warmer weather. We thought the rut would also be raging, but the cold weather probably kept it from kicking in until after we were done hunting (probably the next week). Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single deer, but we sure had a blast hunting for them! Adam has also had a problem with feral hogs and goats (that’s right…goats). He was able to take out a few of the goats, but we didn’t see any of the hogs.
On Saturday evening, we moved to a piece of property owned by another friend. He is managing the property with the idea of reselling it as recreational property. He has a great lodge, and the property itself is beautiful! He told us that the doe population was out of control, and invited us to do some hunting for does to help thin them out. I figured it would be a good opportunity to put a bit of venison in my in-laws’ freezer, so we were looking forward to it. Adam also suggested that we take Jacob, to see if he could bag one. Adam has a TC Pro-Hunter in a .25-06, which he thought Jacob could handle. We were walking in to the two-man shooting house, which was sitting on the edge of the green field, when we saw a deer standing in the middle of the field. We quickly tried to get a shot set up for Jacob. We got him to sit down, and tried to get him to prop the gun up on his knee. He couldn’t hold the gun up, so Adam put a stool, which was going to be his seat in the shooting house, out in front of him for a rest. Jacob took his time, taking about a minute to line up the shot. When he pulled the trigger, the deer crumpled in its tracks! I was very proud of him for not rushing, or getting so excited that he made a poor shot. We were both very excited about his success. We decided to get the deer out of the field (how could we make a 6 year old wait till dark to lay his hands on his first deer?) and then head for the shooting house. Unfortunately, we didn’t see another deer for the rest of the afternoon. After the hunt, we went back to the Lodge, where Greg got some pictures of Jacob with his deer. Be sure to click on the picture to see the larger image.
Jacob is now truly hooked! We thought he was hooked after being with his Papaw when he killed a deer, but after shooting his own, he is ready to go. I won’t be able to keep him out of the woods from now on, which will be ok with me! We can hardly wait for next year, just to see what it holds for us. Jacob is already talking about wanting to shoot his first buck!
Thanks to Adam and Greg for giving us the opportunity to have such a good time. I hope we will have the opportunity to hunt together again in the near future.
My dad and I were able to sneak away for a couple of days of bow hunting in central West Virginia this week. Since I killed a doe on my regular base license, and didn’t buy any extra tags, I had to go to my dad’s land to have a chance to kill another deer (landowner’s child privilege). I took off Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday so that I would be able to relax a bit. We had some beautiful weather, and it was great to watch the sun come up from a tree stand again. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of deer activity. I saw a few, and almost shot a doe, but she refused to take that last step to open up a good shot. I think the deer activity was restricted because of the full moon. It was clear that the deer were up and moving late into the night, which also put them up and moving mid-day instead of morning and evening. I should have made sure to be on stand in the middle of the day, but I was not in the woods at the right time. On Wednesday, on the way home, we saw a bunch of deer on the side of the interstate. That was about 11 AM.
I was a bit frustrated with the movement of deer, but I guess that is what hunting is all about. It is hard to head into an area and find the perfect stand when you only have a day or two. Since the full moon threw off the feeding schedule of the deer, typical hot spots were suddenly cold. I guess I should have been able to adjust accordingly, but for this trip, the deer won the battle.
It won’t be long till rifle season comes in!
Bow season is now underway here in WV. I have been itching to break in my new (to me) Bowtech Diamond Marquis. This bow is a huge upgrade from the equipment I have been using. After all of the problems last year with deer jumping the string, I decided it was time to move into the 21st century with my equipment.
I have gotten out three or four mornings so far. On Wednesday, I blew a perfect opportunity at a beautiful buck. He was a mere 12 yards away, I was at full draw, and everything was perfect. I grunted at him to stop him, but instead he bolted. Stopped out about 35 yards (but behind trees) and looked at me for at least 15 minutes. I was really upset about my stupidity, as he probably would have stopped on his own in about 5 or 6 more yards. This would have been my best buck with a bow, but now he just keeps making appearances in my nightmares!
This morning I finally got to break in the new bow. I shot a nice doe at just about the same spot that I missed the opportunity at the buck on Wednesday. I also got a good view of just how good the new Rage Broadheads are. I got a clean pass through, and a huge hole. The commercials claim this for the broadheads, but I have had terrible time with mechanical broadheads up to this point. I shot this doe and made a very good shot on her. She went up the hill and stood watching around her for about 10 minutes. I guess she just didn’t have the blood pumping good enough. She never even knew she was hit. I ended up sending another arrow through here at 35 yards because I thought she was going to walk over the hill, and I was starting to doubt my first shot. The second arrow also passed through, both blades opening up and leaving a second huge hole. When I went up to the spot of the second hit, I could see that I just didn’t give her the opportunity to expire. The blood trail, and the puddle where she stood was amazing. I know that is a bit graphic, but I just have to give my recommendation for these great broadheads. They are fairly expensive, but it seems that all archery equipment is increasing drastically. One bad thing about the Rage broadheads is that they don’t stay “set” on the o-ring very well. I sometimes have problems dislodging them from the “set” position when removing from the quiver. You need to be careful and not bump them when you take them out. Otherwise, they are great, flying like field points, and doing a devastating job when you hit an animal. I didn’t get any pictures because the skies opened up and we had downpours for most of the day after I got the deer dragged out of the woods.
This was my second deer of the year. I also took a doe in a new early season muzzleloader season. I took Jacob with me for a 2 day hunt, and we were able to score on a pretty nice doe. The picture above is the muzzleloader doe. He was very excited to see the smoke belch out of the barrel when I shot. I think I have decided that a mid-September hunt is too early for deer. It was extremely hot, and we had to process deer within an hour or so of recovery just to keep them from spoiling. It felt like a rush against the clock just to save the meat from going bad. We also had to battle with the flies and yellow jackets to get the butchering done!
I am hoping to get away for a couple of days to catch a few more days of bow season, and get to our camp. I’d like to tag a buck with the new bow this year. I just don’t know whether I have already had my shot at a nice buck! I hope everyone out there has a good season ahead!
Many posts ago, I wrote about the treesstand I bought at the WV Hunting and Fishing Show back in 2006 (I think…). It is a Treewalker Treestand, and it is the best stand I have ever hunted out of. After hunting out of it for several years, I still love it! In fact, I continue to recommend this stand to anyone I know who is looking for a stand. I know that Treewalker must be getting more and more popular, as I get several hits per week searching for them. If you do a Google search, you will find that my review of the Treewalker on Associated Content is listed right under the homepage for Treewalker, and my post about the stand is right below the article. That means these pages are getting a lot of hits!
Last year, the netting of the seat of my stand started tearing. I forgot about it until just a few days ago. This year, West Virginia is having an early bow season, and I was afraid that I had let it go too long to get the seat replaced. I looked on the website, and couldn’t find the replacement seat, so I emailed Treewalker. I got a reply back the next business day, and was told that if I would send them my address, they’d get one out to me. Well, I needed to get one for me, and one for my dad, so I emailed them back about it. Today, a box arrived in the mail with two net seats, and a company t-shirt! Talk about great service. They took care of me, not even charging me for the postage to send the seats. I don’t know that this is their typical policy for replacing seats (the invoice had them marked at $22 apiece) but I am certainly thankful for their generosity! I knew when I bought this stand that the netting of the seat wouldn’t last forever…I didn’t expect it to. So, it is a nice bonus to have them send them out to me for free!
I have to tell you, there isn’t another climbing stand I would hunt out of at this point. The Treewalker is the most solid stand I have ever used. I am afraid of heights, so the large platform is ideal for me. I feel secure in the stand, and never have had any fear of it failing (and I have had stands fail on me before!). The stand bites into the tree enough to make sure that it will not slip at all. I have never had any problems with it creaking or making noises to spook deer. It is, in my estimation, the perfect climber. Add to the great quality the great customer service, and I can’t recommend Treewalker enough.
If you are in the market for a new stand, make sure to check out the Treewalker. I don’t think you will be disappointed! It is great to see a company that is dedicated to their product, and dedicated to making their customers happy. It is good to be able to write positive things about an outdoor company. Throw your business their way!
I have tried to introduce my kids to the outdoors at a very early age. Some people have asked me what I would do if my kids grew up and didn’t like hunting. That may happen. I certainly don’t plan on forcing them to like it. I try to be very patient with them, as they learn about hunting and fishing. But, if my kids’ attitude right now is any indication, I think they are going to love the outdoor sports. You’ve read some about my older kids, and how much they have taken to going to deer camp, shooting guns and bows, and fishing. Now it is time for the youngest, JonDavid to join the exploits of his older siblings.
Recently, JonDavid has taken to watching hunting shows on TV. For the record, JonDavid will be two in November (he’s our hunting season baby, and got the middle name “Hunter” without much complaint from my wife). He enjoys watching the animals, and hunts so much that he asks for the Outdoor Channel to be put on when he comes in the living room. When he gets TV time while my wife is teaching school to the two older children, he asks for hunting shows. This morning, a friend came over, and I was showing him the new scope I installed on my muzzle loader. When JonDavid saw it, he shouted out, “hunt deer, hunt deer.” I think he is getting ready for deer season too!
A few days ago, I got out the camera and videoed JonDavid as he was playing in the living room, and watching hunting shows. If anti-hunters stumble on this they will say he is being “brainwashed”, but in reality, he has developed this love of all things hunting on his own, as he watches the hunting shows. He doesn’t even remember hunting camp from last year! Here is the video of JonDavid:
I think I definitely have another little hunting buddy! It won’t be long till Jacob will be shooting, and from the looks of it, JonDavid won’t be too far behind him. It is great to share the love of the outdoors through 3 generations. I know my dad loves sharing time with the grandkids in the woods as well. This is the type of activity that I hope we can continue to share through 3 more generations!
Here is an outdoor related post, just to balance out the last one…
Recently, a friend and I went to Gander Mountain in Charleston, WV, to get some stuff for the upcoming bow season. Unfortunately, when we got there, we could not get anyone to help us! We spent a lot of time in the archery department, and then spent more time at the gun counter. In more than 30 minutes, we didn’t have a single associate come around the departments we were in to offer us assistance. I decided today that I would send an email to complain, as I figure nothing will change if no one ever complains about such bad service! Here is the email I sent to them:
I just filled out the customer survey, but thought I would go this route as well, just to make sure this gets to someone who may be concerned about it.
Recently, I shopped at the Gander Mountain in Charleston, WV, and was extremely disappointed in the customer service available. We were in the Archery department for 15 to 20 minutes, and never saw an associate. We went over to the gun department, and stood at the counter for another 15 minutes, and only saw a couple of associates behind the gunsmithing area. One associate was on the phone, but looked up and saw us waiting for them at the counter. He finished on the phone, hung up, and then disappeared behind the wall. Neither associate came out to assist us. After this, we decided to leave (since we could not get any help). Walking out, we passed a couple of associates, who did not even acknowledge us, or ask if we could use some help. I should not have to go hunting associates in the store to get help with merchandise!
Just so you know, we decided to go across town to Dick’s Sporting Goods, where we spent over $200 that day, and where we went back and spent about $100 a week later. When I go back out to purchase the rest of my equipment for this year, I will most likely be going to your competitor because of the bad service in your store. It would be nice to see people who are excited about hunting and fishing in your store, and who are excited about helping the rest of us outfit ourselves for the great outdoors!
I wish these specialty stores would be diligent to hire people who are going to be helpful. I don’t go to the store to walk around aimlessly. I want someone available so that they can help if I need it. By the way, I was going to be asking about a special order gun stock, or barrel to outfit a gun for my son. There’s no guarantee that I would order one, but because I got no help, they certainly are not going to get my order.
So, do you all have Gander Mountain in your areas? If so, is the service better than what we experienced?
I have used Gander Mountain as affiliate advertising on this site in times past, but I will not be doing so any more, unless they are able to make amends for their poor service!
EDIT: I got a very fast response (less than 30 minutes) from Gander Mountain. Here is what I got:
Hello, Thank you for your email, I do sincerely apologize for the bad experience you had in our store. Our goal is to fully satisfy every customer in our stores. I assure you that this is something that we do not want to ever happen again, I will forward this to the store and district manager so this problem can be addressed. Hopefully you can forgive us for this occurrence because you are the most important part of Gander Mountain. Thank you very much and have a great day!
Visit us at gandermountain.com
I am happy to get this response, and will await further response from the local store. I’ll keep you posted!
Ok, this post doesn’t really have anything to do with the “outdoors”, but I found a plugin for the blog yesterday that is a “must have”. It is called “WPTouch iPhone Theme”, and it makes all WordPress blogs instantly compatible with iPhones and other smart phones. I am systematically installing it on all of my blogs, and it is working great. It pares down the site to pretty much the basics so that posts are easy to read. It looks a lot like a blog reader on your phone (such as in google reader or something similar).
You can find the plugin by going to the “Plugins” tab on your WordPress dashboard, and entering “WPTouch” into the search box. I know, as I now read a lot more info from my phone, that this will be a valuable tool! Hope it helps, and makes your small device reading a bit easier!
I know, many of you will be shocked to find this update. I have been extremely busy, but I keep hoping to show my outdoor blog the attention that it deserves eventually…
I received an email through one of my email lists today, asking for opinions on shooting moving deer. I thought that was an interesting question, and one that certainly has caused a lot of controversy in the hunting community. I thought I’d post my own response, and I hope you all will add your thoughts (even if you disagree with me).
I know that with some, this is quite the touchy subject. I watch a lot of the hunting shows on TV, and love them. But, one of the “unrealistic” points that they emphasize is the need for a deer to be standing still. I watched one a few days ago, where the hunter didn’t shoot because the deer was walking, and never stopped. Realistically, where we hunt, you’d rarely kill a deer if it had to stop to shoot. Once the shooting starts on opening day, the deer are on the move. Sure, some of them stop, but some will be on the move trying to get to that next piece of cover.
Many other game animals are shot on the move, without ever even thinking about it. We shoot rabbits, and birds on the move almost exclusively. We learn how to do it, and do it effectively. I know there is a difference in using a rifle, but the truth is that with practice, you can learn to hit deer on the move too. A person needs to know their own limitations, and know the type of shot that they can make. We as hunters certainly need to make every effort to make safe and humane kill shots. If you are going to be maiming animals because you can’t make a running shot, then don’t shoot. But, I know many people who can kill an animal on the run more often than not.
My bottom line is that I don’t think anyone can make a hard and fast rule on this. What one person is capable of doing may be impossible for another. The same type of question could be asked about long distance shooting. What is too far to shoot a deer? I watched a show a few days ago where a guy shot a bear at 925 yards. Impressive? You better believe it! Would I take that shot? Not with my current equipment/skill set. But, I have shot many deer on the run. Under the right circumstances, I have a lot of confidence in my ability to hit them, and hit them soundly. Other circumstances might cause me to pass on the shot.
That is my opinion, and I look forward to reading other responses!
So, what do you all think?