Friday, April 11, 2014

Preserving Hunting Memories

Some of my fondest memories revolve around successful hunts or successful fishing trips.  These memories include people who are near and dear to me, places that hold a piece of my heart, and moments that I will relive forever.  Without getting too sappy, it's safe to say I cherish each moment I get to spend in the outdoors.  Finding a way to preserve these memories can be tough.

There is always the traditional way to preserve any memory, which is photography.  I love photos, anyone who is friends with me knows this all to well.  I have photos of just about everything, but I have tons of photos from the field and on the water.  I'm pretty sure I could just take pictures of the scenery and be happy.  I'm planning on covering the photography part in a follow up post.

There is also taxidermy to preserve your memories in the field and on the water.  This is one of my favorite ways to savor those sweet moments where a hunt falls together perfectly.  Taxidermy is a unique way to preserve that moment where all your hard work and dedication culminated and paid off. Each of my shoulder mounted whitetails is mounted in a similar way to how he was right before I shot.

If traditional isn't really your style, there are other options.  You could always have your memories preserved in artwork.  I absolutely love the work Jana Waller does.  I had my first archery buck beaded by her, and it's easily the most eye catching and different "mount" in the house.  There is also wildlife painting.  I'm a huge fan of Nicole Weller's feather artistry.  I really want to have her paint something for me, but don't know what.

Another way that I personally love is to show my passion, and memories through jewelry.  I really don't wear much jewelry besides my wedding set & stud earrings, so for me to find a piece I love it really has to mean something.  I found a beautiful necklace from Larry Rackley a few years ago, and I love it dearly.  It's a sterling silver whitetail antler, and I wear it almost every day.  I found an adorable Pandora charm of a ram before my aoudad hunt, so I knew if I was able to take on with my bow that was going to be one way to commemorate my hunt.

My Pandora bracelet with my ram charm.  Oh and my beautiful arrow cross tattoo designed by Eric Hornung aka the "Tattooed Angler."

While I do understand not every memory in hunting has to do with taking an animal, it could be great camaraderie in the duck blind, or the moment you watch a bobcat flush a covey of quail beneath your tree stand.  Either way for me these memories will last a lifetime, and result in stories being retold time and time again, maybe larger than the last time, so how do you preserve your memories in the field?  A diary, a blog, a photo album, or all kept safely in the depths of your mind?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Limb Grip - Product Review

I've probably admitted before but I'm a bit of a gear junky.  If you saw my hunting pack, you would know that I like things that make my life easier.  I'm also notorious for tree stand malfunctions, and dropping things.  I've almost dropped my Mathews Jewel out of the tree stand after drawing back on a buck, and then having to let back down, and that bow is my baby.  So I ran along The Limb Grip online, and wanted to try it out.  I contacted the owners, and they sent me one.

The Limb Grip I chose.  Because I love bright colors.

Well I'm a horrendous blogger friend to have, because I got it in January or February.  Well since then I've started half marathon training, and was prepping for my South TX aoudad hunt, and I never got around to tree stand testing it out.  I have taken it out of the box and played with it in the house though, so I wanted to give it a rough review now, and a better review closer to hunting season, when I'll be playing in our tree stands and setting out new ones.  

Let me preface this with the face I usually use a carabiner clip, and some braid rope to get my bow to my stand.  My rope doesn't collect stickers.  However, the clip either has to have rope run through it around my limb, or through my cam.  I don't like either of those methods very much, because of noise and the possibility of scratching my bow.

At home testing.
(Edited to add that the limb grip is facing the wrong way.  I read the directions, but apparently got them twisted up in my head.)

After a quick test run, I'm sold.  The Limb Grip is coated, so no scratching or noise making.  The paracord is sturdy enough I feel like I can put my trust it.  I had The Hubs go in and retie it with some of his fancy firefighter knots.  I always climb with my pack on, and only pull my bow up, so I love this.  My bow will always come up straight, no slipping sliding, or putting a clip through the cams.  It will stay nice and snug in one spot.  I think I could even do a little "fishing" for dropped items with it if need be.

This will definitely be a handy tool to have, and I'll feel a lot less unsure about pulling my bow up to the stand this year.  I would feel safe using it on a rifle or pack as well.  Will a carabiner clip and rope do the trick? Yes.  Will you feel that your investment in your hunting gear is safe? Maybe not, in my case definitely not.  With The Limb Grip I know my bow will make it to the stand quietly, and safely.

**Yes, The Limb Grip owners know who I am, and probably want to punch me, for not getting this up faster.  I was given this to try out, but I do honestly like it much more than my rope/carabiner clip option.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 Aoudad Hunt with Ghostwater Creek Ranch & Hunt Wicked Close TV

Thanksgiving 2013 was a pretty good day for me.  Along with filling an archery tag during rifle season (read about it here), I was drawn as one of the winners of an all ladies aoudad hunt hosted by Ghostwater Creek Ranch & Hunt Wicked Close TV.  I had talked to Ken and Rachel Dabbs, two of the host of Hunt Wicked Close TV, and they were convinced I could take an aoudad with my bow.  As soon as I knew when we would be going I started making preparations, which included getting comfortable with my dad's .308 rifle in case the bow didn't work out for me.  I also switched to a single pin sight, since I've geeked out and not remembered which pin I was looking at on a doe before, and went in search of different arrows.
Finally, three weeks before we were due in Texas, my new Easton Deep Six Full Metal Jacket arrows arrived straight from the The Bow Rack in Springfield, OR.   Well as anyone knows the wind in Oklahoma in March is horrible usually.  We finally got my bow on at 20 & 30 yards the Monday before we left for the hunt.  Talk about squeaking by just in time, and of course I was still plenty nervous about my shooting, and the fact aoudad are known for being like whitetails on steroids.  We left Oklahoma and headed south on Wednesday, with the truck loaded down with coolers, gear, and too much "junk" as my husband would tell you.

I packed lightly?  Only 4 bags, a bow, a rifle, two pistols, and two pairs of hunting boots.

On Thursday morning we met up with Ken and Rachel in San Angelo, and got ready to head further South in hopes of me getting in the blind that evening.  When we arrived Ghostwater Creek Ranch, I was immediately in awe of the surroundings, and hospitality.  The views were amazing, the cabins were comfortable, clean, and nicely furnished.  The outdoor kitchen and dining area were beautiful as well as the indoor kitchen.  I was very impressed with the amount of detail put into every part of the the lodging at the ranch.  After meeting and talking with the Ghostwater Creek Ranch Team (Guide - Doug Powell, Owner - John Brown, Chef - Mike Dimas) for a while, we got ready to go out and hunt. 

Needless to say being in front of the camera is a little bit awkward.  It was definitely something I'm not used to, especially when I'm nervous enough about heading out with my bow.  We got set up in a ground blind on a trail, and got ready to wait it out in the heat. 

Rachel and I's blind selfie, with Doug hiding in the background.

I won't ruin the rest of the show with my story, but I will say I made the best shot of my hunting career on a nice aoudad ram.  He didn't make it far before he piled up.  He didn't even try to run up-hill, which was a miracle.  My Mathews Jewel and Easton Deep Six FMJ's did the trick and smoke that ram.  I was really worried about my brand new arrow set up, and using it on one of the toughest animals in Texas, but thanks to my awesome guide ranging him up until my shot for me, and giving me the low down on what was my best option for a bow shot on one before we went out, everything went down perfectly, and Rachel got it all on film for Hunt Wicked Close TV.

My Texas Archery Aoudad.
Rachel, Doug and I with my ram.

There are not enough great things I can say about Ghostwater Creek Ranch.  The hospitality is amazing.  The lodging is wonderful, even for us ladies.  The amount of animals you will see is beyond belief.  Doug knows his animals, and is an awesome guide for a bow hunter because he is a bow hunter himself.  He currently holds the record for the 3rd largest archery aoudad in North America, and the ram was taken off Ghostwater Creek Ranch.  He knows what to watch for and how the animals will react when they start to spook, and after you shoot.  I also can say he never once questioned my abilities as a bow hunter, which many people have before.  Being a female I've had my abilities with a rod and reel, rifle, shotgun and bow all questioned by men, but Doug never seemed to doubt me, which is a good thing to have in a guide in my opinion.

Chef Mike needs his entire own blog post, but that would detract from the hunting.  We had packed snacks, because I'm really a picky eater, but Chef Mike never went wrong.  He kept us full the entire time.  Every meal we had at Ghostwater Creek Ranch was better than any meal we've eaten at restaurants.  Also, Mike was telling us about losing his leg and finishing his first half marathon, and I remembered reading a story Runner's World had shared, about a similar situation.  Well guess what it wasn't a similar situation, it was actually Chef Mike I had read about (story here).

Rachel of Hunt Wicked Close TV with both All Ladies Hunt Drawing Winners Whitney and I
At the falls at the Devil's River

Ghostwater Creek Ranch takes pride in the country that surrounds it.  John and Doug took us girls and the men in our life down to see the Devil's River one day.  They also took the time to show us some neat parts of history that are on the ranch.  There are just no words to describe the amazing time we had, and the awesome footage Rachel and Ken got for Hunt Wicked Close TV.  The episode should air on the Pursuit Channel sometime between July 2014 & September 2014.  I'll do another blog post when I find out the exact date.  I can't wait until Zach and I can get back to Ghostwater Creek Ranch and do some more bowhunting.

You can get a preview of some of the fun we had here.  Watch Rachel, Zach, and Ken put the HHA Optimizer system to the test at 440yds and 600yds.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Florida Keys Dreaming

This past week, we finally broke our freezing streak, and boy am I happy.  However all that cold weather has me dreaming about Key West, and fishing in the Florida keys.  Our trip last June was a little rocky thanks to the lovely weather we endured, however there is something about Key West that always makes me want to go back.  Well our Maine bear hunt was canceled this past week due to some unforeseen issues, so Key West here we come.

Now like every woman, I have a closet full of clothes.  Fishing clothes are no shortage either, but a girl can always drool right?  I've been searching for a few new pieces to add in for this trip, and ran along a few things I had to share.

I just love this shirt.  Being fair skinned, I need long sleeves to keep from burning when spending 8 hours out in the sun fishing.  I love that this one is girly, but still functional.

This one explains itself.  

I wore these shorts on our trip last year and fell in love.  They dry out fast, and are the perfect length.  They also handle bath tub washings just fine.  I just don't have this color so I of course need another color!

So some Captains, usually those on big sportfishing yachts, require you to wear shoes.  No flip flops, or bare feet, and I understand why they do the things they do.  No one wants a hook in the foot especially miles off shore.  Last year we only flats fished, which the Captain was totally cool with me bare-footing it, but this year we are heading off shore in search of sailfish, mahi-mahi, and the wish of a marlin, so I'm going to have to get some Sperry's or similar boat shoes to wear.  These are super cute, and I could rock them back home too which is why I love them.

While I'm getting really excited about going back to the warmth, I'm kind of sad I won't get to explore new territory and chase bears with my bow this year.  I'm thinking happy thoughts and praying for a storm free, fabulous trip to the Keys filled with tight lines, amazing food, and a few nice drinks.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why Using Your Purse for Concealed Carry Sucks

Let me preface this whole post by saying, I am not a handgun instructor, or anything like that.  I'm just a chick who digs guns, and thinks all chicks should know how to safely operate and carry guns for self defense.  I'm also a chick who is extremely passionate about certain things.  When I find a killer product I want to scream about it from the roof top!

For years, literally four years, I carried my concealed weapon in my purse.  I never had too many complaints other than my purse weighing in at a shoulder killing weight.  I also never had any encounters that required me to use my gun, and still haven't thank goodness.  

Then everything changed,  I bought the Flashbang Ava. I've since stopped carrying in my purse and realized just how much carrying in my purse really sucked.  So I decided I would try to outline why and how much it really sucked, and y'all know I'm a list maker so here we go!

1. Purse Weight - Seriously I have no idea what my purse weighed, but it was heavy as hell.  There is no other way to put it.  I could have just whacked someone with my purse and likely knocked them clean out.  Also I only carry my purse on one shoulder, so I'm pretty sure I threw myself out of whack carrying that heavy thing.

2.  Finding Your Gun in the Heat of the Moment - So I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in the fact at any given moment my purse looks like a trash can.  I don't even have kids, but who knows what you might find in there.  I have never carried a purse designed for conceal carry, so I was left with putting it in the zipper pocket that most purses have.  Let me just tell you that the zipper pocket of most women's purses is a place you never want to go.  Hell, going in a woman's purse period is a finger breaking offense in most cases.  So to put it mildly finding, and using my gun in my purse would be an atrocious idea.  
Note: (I thought about taking a photo of the inside of my purse to illustrate this point, but then decided it would be mortifying to show that to the public.  Lets just say it includes: Wallet, makeup zip bag, nail care case, Kershaw Knives, Surefire light, iPhone 5 charger, random lip gloss floating around, lotion, hand sanitizer, change, pony tail holders, bobby pins, day planner, tactical pen, and who knows what else)

3. Carrying a Certain Gun Due to the Purse Conundrum - So as we learned with #2 my purse is similar to a dumpster, and with this comes the whole I don't want to carry a semi-auto due to the lint, or other small items that might wind up in my gun thanks to my trash pit purse.  I was left carrying a revolver because I knew in a pinch it would likely fire with no issue, granted I could find it.  Also my semi-autos are too pretty to get carried around in my purse and run the risk of a pen leaking on them, getting scratched etc.

4. Shopping Cart Separation Anxiety - Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility.  It comes with the responsibility of safely carrying and concealing it.  When I carried a gun in my purse I  would be that lady who had her arm looped through her purse while in the shopping cart, and would never let go of it.  Also I'm that lady who took her purse with her to communion at church, and watched her purse like a hawk at family members houses.  The thought of my gun that is intended to protect me and my family getting into the wrong hands because I wasn't paying enough attention is something I couldn't live with.  I seriously had attachment issues with my purse when my gun was in it.

5. Separation Anxiety Continued - So the separation anxiety was a bigger deal than the shopping cart, church, sitting my purse down in random places problem.  If someone is going to attack me while I'm walking to my car, shopping, or whatever, I'm guessing my purse would be the first thing to get dropped.  At this point, my gun would be no longer accessible, therefore rendered useless.  I'm then left with 125lbs of 5'5" redheaded fury which is no match for the strength of a man of the same height.  Also I have no self defense training, so yup kidnapped, mugged, or dead without that handy piece of metal.

Those my friends are the reasons why carrying in your purse is a sucky bad idea.  I love the safety I feel by carrying in a holster on my body.  Yes, I'm aware that my gun could still be taken from me, but I feel that it might not happen as fast as it would as it would if my gun were in purse.  Also go say hi to the ladies (and Trent) over at Flashbang on Facebook and tell them I sent you!  

***This post was in no way endorsed by Flashbang Holsters.  I am involved with their affiliate program, and they know my name, but I don't get any special treatment from them. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Half Marathon Huntress

So obviously I've been bitten by the running bug, although I briefly recovered from my symptoms while I was attempting to finish the marathon that is archery season in Oklahoma.  Three and a half months of early mornings, late evenings, uncomfortable sits, planning and over thinking.  It's not over yet, we're busting into that .2 of 26.2 in regards to hunting season.  January 15th is fast approaching and I'll have one more weekend to arrow a nice doe or two or a nice buck.  Back to the running thing, I'm starting to get back on track with it.

(Photo Credit: Runners World)

Which is definitely a good thing, because I've signed up for my first half marathon this spring.  Also convinced The Hubs that he should go with me.  He was a great partner to have when I did the 5 mile death march run in the breaks of Southwestern Oklahoma, and I know he'll keep me focused and motivated during training and during the actual race.  So the I've had to get back on the running wagon, in preparation for the half marathon training.  While I have no lofty time goals, I just want to finish strong, and feeling decent.

(Photo Credit: Me    Lift Run Shoot Credit: Cameron Hanes)

On to the huntress part of this post, in the midst of what will be the home stretch leading up to the half marathon, I'll be heading to South Texas to chase Aoudad with bow (or rifle depending on the luck with my bow) with Rachel Dabbs of Hunt Wicked Close T.V..  I'm sure this hunt will be a test of mental strength too.

(Photo Credit: Mrs J.  & HUGE thanks to Girls WIth Guns Clothing for the awesome top!!  Team GWG!!!)

This spring will be filled with lots of miles logged, lots of arrows flung, and plenty of rifle practice thrown in the mix.  If I've learned one thing about myself the past year, it's that I pick "hobbies" that test my physical strength and composure, but more importantly these same "hobbies" try, test, break, rebuild, and grow my mental strength, composure, and self confidence.  Sometimes I question why I do the things I do, but then I remember that I love the process, and the moments that come along with it.  I'm looking to 2014 and the great moments, and grueling training processes that may come along with it.  If the training process sucks, it's going to make the finish moment that much sweeter!

***If anyone has any half marathon training program that they LOVE feel free to share in the comments!
***Or running gear they love, or South Texas must have hunting gear!  I'm always looking for ideas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All I Want For Christmas Is a Whitetail Doe

Christmas is looming, which also means we are in the home stretch of Oklahoma's 2013-2014 deer archery season.  With over two months behind us, we've got less than one month left.  If anyone else out there has had a season like me, then you're still a little antsy.

This season has been slow.  There are no other words to describe it.  I've had several hunts where I haven't even seen a single deer.  It's not that they don't exist.  It's that they don't exist near our stands during daylight very often.  Well heck they actually do, but not when we are there.  Thankfully some of our nice bucks have survived rifle season, which is always a cause to celebrate.

I've learned to appreciate getting to watch quail, dove, and cardinals interact. I've learned to improvise and try to call coyotes in by mouth only.  I've learned to take my iPad to the stand with me so I can read, and I'm a professional deer stand napper.  Seriously, I can't even explain how down I'm starting to get about this season.  

While it hasn't been completely slow, I took my second ever archery buck.  Obviously, that was an exciting moment.  It's also been a little depressing.  I have missed two does, and one buck this season.  We found out after a lower than anticipated hit on my buck that my bow had gotten knocked off fish inches, and was shooting low.  Explaining two of my misses, the third was a rookie mistake where I misjudged the yardage where the doe was.

With January 15th looming, I need to re-group my thoughts and determination.  I need to cast out the doubt from seasons past, and this seasons mistakes and get some deer on the ground, for my confidence, and for our freezer.  I would be happy if all I saw were does the rest of this season.  I mean seeing "noodle head" aka "my" buck would be fabulous, but I really just need to get more confidence in myself and in my set up.  So Santa if you are out there listening all I really want for Christmas is a fat juicy (not too smart) whitetail doe.