Archive for December, 2008

Suburban Hunting

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

As more and more people move out into the ‘burbs, more and more deer hunting habitat is lost.  I think that is one of the reasons that hunting continues to decline.  There is less land available for hunting, and many people have no desire to go into crowded public land (those in the west may not realize just how crowed some public hunting regions are in the east!).  With the suburbs growing, the question of where hunting should be allowed, as well as what type of hunting should be allowed is spreading across the country.

I found an article this morning about this very issue in Pataskala, Ohio.  Evidently, there were a couple of accidents in which homes were struck with slugs during the general fire arm season.  There is no excuse for that happening, but it certainly explains why people would be concerned, and begin the process of stopping hunting any where near homes.  I’m pretty sure I would be upset if my home were struck with a bullet!

I hate to see any hunters lose hunting land.  I’ve been through that.  There are places that we have hunted in years past that now have housing developments on them.  The question is:  Is it safe to hunt near houses?  The answer can be yes and no.  For those who are very conscientious, and pay close attention, hunting near houses can be very safe.  Obviously, not everyone is as safe as they should be.  That is what makes it very difficult.  Those granting permission on land close to other homes should be careful to allow only those hunters who can be safe, and have proven that they can be safe.  Those hunting on such land should be extremely careful.  As I said before, there is no excuse for a bullet ever striking a home!

When it comes to “city limits” hunting, it seems logical to me to restrict hunting to archery.  I know that there are some “cities” that are more courntry than city, and they should make decisions that are best for their setting.  I know that here in WV there are several cities that have bow only seasons.  They require a safety course, as well as a shooting test to make sure that you are competent enough to take an animal cleanly.  I am sure that there are still those who make bad shots, but officials are trying to make these seasons as “non-hunter friendly” as possible.

All that being said, I do believe that at least archery hunting should continue in many cities.  I know that the hunts here in WV that are permitted help to keep deer numbers in check, which cuts down on deer destroying lawns and shrubs, and cuts down on the number of deer hit by cars (which causes millions of dollars of damage to homeowners, car owners and insurance companies).  Not only that, but there are some really nice bucks taken in these hunts as the deer are typically secluded, and unhunted.  It provides an opportunity for a trophy hunt under less pressure.  I am sure these hunts can be very enjoyable.

This is a tough issue because it brings hunters and anti-hunters together in close proximity.  I know that is true in many other settings, but when it comes to these suburban hunts, it is particularly close.  That means that hunters who participate in these types of hunts have to be diligent to be model hunters.  They represent the rest of us who aren’t out there in the public sight quite so much.  So, if you are a suburban hunter, make sure to hunt safely and ethically.  That shoudl be true all the time, but be particularly conscious of these things when hunting in close quarters.

Great Hunting Boots…

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Last year I had a pair of Rocky boots that were only about 2 or 3 years old.  However, the tread on them was worn out terribly.  I slipped all over the place, and nearly killed myself falling off of the steps of the hunting cabin.  I decided I had to come up with a new pair…and I hit the jackpot.  I searched for a pair of boots, and looked at several pair on sale at various stores.  However, I couldn’t find any wide width boots, which I have to have.  That is one reason I have bought Rocky boots the last couple of times.

Right before season, I was at Cabela’s in Wheeling, WV, and I started looking for a pair of boots that would last me a while.  After trying on 2 or 3 pairs, I came across the Irish Setter Mountain Claw boot.  This is a great boot!  It was comfortable, and it has a great tread.  The only time I even slipped while in the woods this year was when I stepped on a stick that was angled down the hill (if you’ve ever slipped on one of these, you know what I mean!)  I hiked up and down the mountains in rain, snow and sleet, and never had any problems.  I also never got cold feet.  I hate getting cold feet while on stand.  In fact, usually I can stay warm if I can just keep my feet warm.  These boots did a great job, all the way around.

The only problem I have found with these boots is that the eyelets cut into the boot strings.  In fact, I have already run 3 or 4 pairs of laces though them.  I am going to try to find a small file to run through the eyelets (they are metal) to see if I can rub off the edge that is cutting into the laces.  Either that, or I’m going to leather laces.

I recommend these boots if you are looking for new ones.  They are comfortable, warm, and have great traction–everything you need in a great pair of boots.

In a future post, I will tell you why I will not be buying anymore Rocky products…

Boo Weekley: I’d Rather Be Hunting

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Boo Weekley is one of the most colorful golfers on the pro circuit.  Now, I am not a big golfing fan.  In fact, if Tiger Woods is not in the mix, I probably couldn’t even identify any one in a tournament.  But, I caught this guy on Rome is Burning on ESPN yesterday, and was impressed.  Then, today, I came across this article on Sky Sports about Weekley.

It turns out that Weekley is only a pro golfer because he doesn’t think he can make as much money in the hunting industry.  I don’t know about that, but it is interesting that he is making the news by stating that he would much rather work in the hunting and fishing industry.  But, I want you to notice the response by the author of the article:

Weekley has now added to his eccentric reputation by admitting he would walk away from the pro ranks if he could secure his future by hunting.

So, wanting to be a pro hunter or fisherman makes one “eccentric”.  It seems the media just can’t stand it that there are folks who are not just “rednecks” (or maybe they will classify Weekley as “redneck”) who enjoy the sports of hunting and fishing.  Liking hunting and fishing doesn’t make one eccentric…it makes him one of the millions of Americans who enjoy a lawful, enjoyable sport.

Weekley had a good answer, when asked if he would leave golf for hunting:

Asked if he would give up golf if he had that opportunity, he stated: “No hesitating. There is nothing like it. It’s hard to explain, unless you just hunt and fish for a living, or you do it as much as me.”

I think he got it right.  There is nothing like hunting and fishing in the great outdoors.  It is hard to explain, but for those of us who enjoy the sports as much as Weekley, it is not hard to understand.  Wouldn’t we all like to have a job that allowed us to spend more time hunting and fishing?  Wouldn’t we all like to make either our living, or some “extra cash” from the outdoors that we love so much?  Don’t we all like sitting at our computers and writing about (as well as reading about) outdoor sports?

Maybe we are just all eccentric?  Let the eccentrics ban together!

WV Season is Now Over…

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Well, hunting season for me here in WV is over.  I had a very enjoyable, and successful season.  I was able to take a couple of days for muzzle loader season the first of this week, but didn’t add any venison to the freezer.  I don’t know what was up, but it just seemed like I couldn’t shoot for anything.  I missed 3 deer…I felt like they were all laughing at me.  The first one should have been easy, but I just didn’t connect.  The second was a difficult shot.  The deer was about 150 yards out through some brush.  I thought I could get her for sure, but she escaped unscathed.  The third was a shot on the run, and a large tree jumped out in front of me just as I pulled the trigger.  Those trophy trees are somewhat easy to hit, but they are a little tough to get drug out of the woods.  We did have fun hunting, and there were a couple of deer taken.  My friend Danny took a great old doe with a side lock .54 caliber.  The rest of us were hunting with inline .45 caliber rifles with scopes…he nailed one with an old percussion cap rifle with open sights.  Gotta love it!  My dad got a buck that had already dropped his horns.  This is just about the earliest that I have ever seen antlers dropped around here.  I shot one many years ago in Pennsylvania that had dropped his horns.  Bucks and does are legal in muzzle loader season here, so dad probably would have gotten this deer either way.  But, when they start getting killed in doe season, it is kind of a bummer!

I am planning to head down to Alabama to visit some of our family in a few days.  I am hoping to get out a few times to try to bag a deer or two while down there.  I always enjoy getting the opportunity to put a deer or two into my inlaws’ freezer.  Hopefully I can shoot a bit better there than I have here this year.

It has been great reading about so many deer taken this year.  I hope you all enjoyed the season as much as I did.  And for those of you that still have at least some late seasons left to go, good luck!

Goodby to Patrick F. McManus…

Friday, December 12th, 2008

I was perusing blogs a few days ago, and came across the news that Patrick McManus will not be writing for Outdoor Life any more.  I couldn’t believe it.  He was a staple of Outdoor Life for so long, it will seem like a completely different magazine without him there.  I decided to write my thoughts up in an article, and had them published today on my Associated Content Account.  You can read those thoughts by clicking here.

McManus has always been one of my favorite outdoor authors.  I have been reading him for many years, and continue now to read his books to my kids.  I have a stockpile of several years of Outdoor Life set aside for my kids, so they will have a ton of his articles to read.  I have several of his books, but I will probably go ahead and stock up on the rest of them.  I know he is getting older, and I don’t know how much more he will be able to write.

If you haven’t read his books, you are really missing something great.  Get ahold of one, and read it.  If you love the outdoors, you will love Patrick McManus! Here are a few that are currently available on Ebay:

The Nearly Extinct Polar Bear…

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I am sure that you all heard that it is illegal to bring a polar bear carcass back into the United States because organizations such as the WWF have convinced the government that polar bears are a threatened species.  Today, while having an old episode of Home Improvement playing in the background in my office, I heard Noah Wyle’s voice in a most somber and serious state.  Here is the video:

There it is.  Polar bears are going to be extinct (or nearly so) within the lifetime of our children.  No wonder they have been labeled as threatened.  The problem with this theory is that it ignores the facts.

The fact of the matter is that there are more polar bears in existence now than there have been since monitoring has started.  According to this article on the National Post, polar bears have actually been doing quite well.  Numbers have been increasing at an unprecedented rate.  In fact, the Inuit have tried to tell government agencies that the bears are doing much better than all the government counts have indicated, but of course the government is always right.  They have written the Inuits off as “self interested hunters.”

What is really aggravating about that last statement is that we as hunters are often written off as “self interested hunters.”  Amazingly, when it comes to conservation, we “self interested hunters” are far more active, and effective than the government agencies.  I am tired of the disrespect shown to those of us who really do much on the conservation front.

Folks, we do need to all we can for wildlife, especially those animals that are truly endangered.  But, that is simply not the case for the polar bears.  In this video, there are several myths that are being propagated by those who have money to push an environmental agenda.  For example, the video states that the ice is melting (along with videos that seem to show two polar bears trapped on ice, surrounded by the ocean) at a fast rate, leaving no place for the poor polar bears.  The polar ice cap has actually been expanding over the last few years.  This is to be expected with the normal fluctuations of global temperatures.  Sometimes the ice melts, sometimes it increases.  The video indicates that bear numbers are plummeting.  This is not true, as has already been pointed out.  The number of bears has been on the increase for many years now.  The video indicates that “food is getting harder to find.”   Again, this is not true.  The only areas in which it is true is the areas where bears are overpopulated.  Like any species, when overpopulation occurs, competition for food increases.

By the way, that video includes the same bears that have shown up in every “polar bear ad” for the last several years.  A mother and cub on a piece of ice, seemingly stranded.  What is left out is that polar bears can swim for “many hours” at a time.  The longest swim on record for an individual bear is 100KM (about 62 miles), but most believe that a bear could go much further than that.  I have read (though I can’t find the source right now) that a bear can swim 200 miles.  I don’t think mama and cub are stranded, as those who shot the video want you to believe.

I think you all know I am for conservation.  I am, however, tired of the “wacko” groups driving the conservation movements.  Put it in the hands of those who have the ability to examine the populations, and make rational decisions based on facts, not on agendas!

Almost Muzzleloader Season

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Here in WV, Muzzleloader Season comes in next Monday.  Looks like we are going to have several guys getting together to hunt together.  That will mean a lot of deer drives.  If you haven’t hunted in this way before, it is a fun way to hunt.  We will usually put a couple of guys on stands, and then work toward them with 3 or 4 other guys.  The trick is trying to figure out how deer will move when they are pushed.  And, if you have done it much, you know that this is quite the challenge.  Deer can go just about anywhere when they are pushed, and it is difficult to make them go where you want them to go.  Let me give you an example from earlier this year…

We have one particular bowl that almost always holds deer.  By placing one hunter on the next bowl, we often have success pushing deer across one bowl, to the lip of the other.  My brother had a doe tag he was trying to fill, so we put him on stand, and began the drive, which takes at least an hour to complete correctly.  Sure enough, I put out about 6 does, but they went the wrong way.  They ran straight up the hill, rather than around the bowl.  Fortunately, we had another driver (my dad) at the top of the hill, and he was able to turn them right back down, where they ran in front of me again.  If I had not filled my doe tag earlier in the day, it would have been an easy shot for me.  The deer again turned the wrong way after running past me, turning to go behind me.  I took off running to try and cut off the deer, and was able to turn them more sharply down the hill.  Again, fortunately, I had another brother working the bottom of the mountain, so that he was able to turn them once again.  He also had his doe tag filled, so he just watched them as well.  Finally, they were turned the right direction.  We waited for the shot, but it never came.  We found out later that the deer had run close to my brother on stand, but he was still unable to get a shot off.

I am not sure how many people hunt this way anymore, but it can be fun, and it can be productive.  I have killed a lot of deer on drives, both as a driver and as a stand hunter.  If you can get them working in the right direction, you can see a lot of deer, and get a lot of shots.  You do need to be very careful.  You must trust everyone involved.  If you have hunters that are not capable of remaining calm, and thinking about safety, you don’t want them involved in a deer drive.  Things can happen fast, and you want to make sure that when you shoot, it is a safe shot.

We are going to have 5 or 6 guys (I hope) out hunting next week.  I look forward to this late season every year.  I am always hoping for snow, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen this year.  Last year was pretty miserable, with a bunch of rain.  I am hoping we avoid that this year.

So, do you all have a late deer season yet to come?

Hunting: The Next Generation

Monday, December 8th, 2008

I told you a couple of posts ago about Jacob going hunting, in a tree stand, with my dad. Dad got the videos posted of the aftermath of that hunt. You can see from this first one how excited Jacob was to be out hunting. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait in the stand very long before this little buck came by. He hasn’t built up a lot of patience yet, but this may be just the ticket for getting him to be willing to stay out in the woods a bit longer.  Here is Jacob recounting the hunt:

Here is Jacob behind the camera, and Papaw telling the story:

Look out Bill Jordan…I think Jacob could be one of the next great camera men to video hunters. He could have the next Realtree Roadtrips!

After the stories were told, the work began. Jacob asked if he could help drag…to which I told him he HAD to help drag. Of course his little sister wanted in on that action as well. They both jumped right in and began tugging on the drag rope:

It is exciting to me to see my kids enjoying hunting so much already. As I said before, I think Jacob will be hooked for life now. Next year (or soon thereafter) I hope to have a rifle he can handle so that he can take his own deer!

Thanks to Papaw for the great videos!

Albino Deer Question

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I came across an interesting piece of information while looking at deer regulations in the state of Tennessee.  I am not sure how many folks out there are residents of Tennessee, or hunt there, but I thought this was a bit odd.  It appears that it is illegal to kill an albino deer in the state.  According to the DNR website:

Hunting, trapping, or possession of albino deer is prohibited as set forth in TCA Chapter 70-4-130. An albino deer is a deer with a lack, or significant deficiency, of pigment in the skin and hair, and has pink eyes.

I know that there are many different opinions about shooting albino deer.  My own personal belief is that they should be legal, just like any other deer.  I realize they are rare, but most of the time albino deer do not survive long in the wild, even when they are “off limits” to hunters.  They are more susceptible to predators than are their normal colored brothers.

While doing some quick research for a good picture of an albino deer to link into this post, I came across a post on Stabley Outdoors (a blog I just discovered!).  Last January, John posted about an albino buck taken by crossbow in the state of Ohio.  Here is a picture of that buck:

That is one beautiful deer.  I know many (obviously the state of of Tennessee with them) think that animals like this need to be protected from hunters.  But, the truth of the matter is that albinism is a recessive trait that only causes harm overall to the deer herd.  So, while it is a beautiful animal, it will not help the health or vitality of the herd as a whole.

Well, that is my take on it.  Let me know what you think.  Should states make it illegal to kill albino animals?  Or should they be considered a great trophy for hunters?  Let me know what you think!


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Resilient Deer…

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I hope that this picture isn’t too graphic for most of you that read my blog, but I thought this was really neat and thought it would be of interest.  I wrote a couple of days ago about the deer that Chad killed, and how I had shot it with a bow.  Here is a picture of the veins that grew to bring extra blood to the wound site to help it heal:

You can click on that picture to see the bigger picture.  The high side (right in the picture) was the entrance, and the low side (left( was the exit wound.  This shot had to be just a bit high, as it missed the lungs completely.  I know that there is a small space below the spine, and above the lungs that you can hit with an arrow and not kill the deer.  This shot is proof.  I will never use the Grim Reaper broadheads again, as it is evident that they didn’t open right.  On another note, I shot a buck with the new Rage broadheads, and they did a great job!  The deer jumped the string, but the arrow still passed through the neck.  It cut an unbelieveable hole!  i will certainly be using the Rage again next year, hopefully with a better, quieter bow…