Wednesday, February 10, 2016

If you love deer, you need to hunt coyotes

On January 22nd of 2015, I semi-conquered my fear of coyotes.  I went with Steve to his bait pile and we called in my beautiful 37lb male coyote.

My coyote from 2015
A few weeks ago, we went back to the same spot.  The coyotes had been staying close to the bait pile and their well worn trail ran just behind the shack.

When we got there, the wind was blowing and the temperatures were dropping.  It was a lot colder than it had been last year and for some reason, I had forgotten by good hunting boots and had to wear my 'normal' winter boots which were not big enough to get two layers of socks in.

Getting ready to head to the shack
There were fresh tracks when we got to the shack, which was promising. Steve set out the rabbit decoy and call and we got settled in.  I kept hoping that it would be like last year and one would come right in.  The full moon was two nights away but it was bright enough that we planned to have some decent lighting.


Steve setting up the call and a view of the field.
 We waited about a half hour then started to call.  I was prepared for that awful rabbit call and between that and the mating female, I was on guard and hoping that we would get a reply. Before too long, we did!

The entire pack called in response to the female call.  We called again and waited.  The pack waited.  It seemed longer than I am sure it was, but they called back a second time and were closer than before.  We listened and watched, looking for one or more coyotes to come into the field.  I would lean forward to look at the same spot where I had found my coyote the year before.  Nothing.

The temperature kept dropping and the response from the pack had stopped.  They were around, but not interested in checking out the decoy - or they came into the field where we could not see them, didnt see a coyote (even though they could hear one) and decided to leave.  Either way, we called it a night earlier than we had planned and headed for a vehicle with heat!


I am hoping that not getting a coyote is a good sign.  I shot one in 2015 but did not shoot a bear or deer.  In 2014, I didn't get a coyote but had a deer and bear...so, I am hopeful.



Monday, February 1, 2016

2016: we become bow hunters

When I said that I was interested in trying out some bows, the first thing out of the guy's mouth was, "these are the only ones we have in pink or purple."  He hadn't even finish the sentence when I noticed Hubby take a step back. "Good, then those are the only ones I don't want to shoot." I replied. The guy had no idea what to do or how to respond but after an awkward pause, he said that he should measure is to see what our drawn length will be.

As he fumbled with the measuring tape, I wondered if it was even worth staying there. I did not feel like I was being taken seriously and it was clear that the employee was hoping he would be helping Hubby and not me.  I knew nothing about bow hunting going into this.  I was surprised that I had to put on a wrist band that had the trigger connected to it.  I was as green as they come.


Me "shooting" the PSE
The first bow that I tried was the PSE Stinger X.  He had set the drawn length to 27 inches and set it for 45 pounds.  Having never shot a bow (besides this) it was unconformable and I could barely draw it back.  I asked him to lower the weight, which he did.  The second time that I asked him, he tried paying more attention to other customers.

Then, Lee showed up.  It was night and day.  Lee either runs that archery shop or is their top tech because it was a complete 180.  He helped me hold the bow correctly (I snapped my wrist the first time) and worked on my form and trigger placement in relation to my face and nose.  It felt a little too big and stiff and it was not an easy draw back to where I needed it to be lined up. I shot the bow six times before I decided that I wanted to try a different one.

Lee stepping in to help me with the PSE
The next bow Lee got for me was the Matthews Mission Craze II.  Lee made some tweaks before he let me shoot it.  He dropped the draw length down to 26 and reduced the weight to 35 pounds.  He made sure that I had the trigger set up where I needed it to and watched me as I drew back to help me hit one spot on my cheek every time.


From the minute I picked up the bow, it felt better.  It was shorter and a little more top heavy than the PSE.  The shorter draw length also made a difference, I think.



Hubby took over after I shot a few times and tried a PSE and then a Matthews.  We were only 10 feet from the target, but he was nailing those targets shot after shot.  His grouping was incredible and he seemed relaxed and comfortable. We knew that we were in trouble then.

We spent well over an hour in the shop talking with Lee and figuring out what we may want and what felt comfortable for us. Lee said that he would set aside the triggers, some arrows and the bows and we could decide what we wanted to do.

If you follow me on social media, you know what we did.  Otherwise, stay tuned for another blog post.

Friday, January 29, 2016

If you want me to write for you

I started writing here in 2009 and have steadily watched the number of folks, like yourself, who read my blog, grow. It has been fantastic to hear from you in emails, read your comments and see you liking the Facebook page.

It is my responsibility to you that I have a blog that you want to come and read.  Writing is based on relationships and shared experiences and connecting with one another and I take that seriously when I post. Writing is not my full-time job. It's not even my second full-time job (mom) or third on my list of priorities (I sit on a few boards and committees) but I love it and that is why I do it.

I have had the privilege of writing for Downeast Magazine and I have my monthly column in the Northwoods Sporting Journal. I am excited to share my stories and thoughts with other people.  

That is why when a larger media outlet contacted me and asked me to be a freelance writer for them, I got excited.  It was a chance for more people to read my writing and ideally come here to read more about me and my adventures.  We agreed to a start date in October but no end date so that I could freelance for them and write as many or as few articles as we agreed upon.  We signed the contract, emailed a few times and within a week, I had produced three articles for them. 

It was fantastic to see my articles posted. I emailed my third article on November 1 and asked for more topics to write about.  The next day, I got this reply "Great— received, thank you so much! I'm going to look at our conversation spreadsheet, and send you some topics to see if any spark your interest!I waited. Deer season wrapped up and Thanksgiving came and went. Six weeks after the above email, I reached out again and asked about topics as well as when I could expect to get paid (it was closing in on 60 days since I had sent the invoice.)  Nothing.  I waited a week and resent the email.  No reply.  I waited two more weeks and emailed the CEO along with my contact there.  I asked why I had not gotten paid when they had used all three of my articles.  We had signed a contact and yet they were not following through on their end.  No response.

Two weeks later and 2.5 months after receiving my last communication from them, I received an email.  They hoped to pay me the follow Tuesday.  That was two weeks ago.  They continue to promote my articles on their social media platforms and have them up on their website.  And I continue to be a little shell shocked at how a company could blatantly lie and cut off communication. I also know that I am not the only person that this has happened to.  It just amazes me and let this be a lesson to anyone who wants to hire freelance writers: don't piss off people who write and already have a public forum (and readers) because if you can find us to ask us to write for you, others can find us and read about why we are not writing for you.

So, lesson learned and now, I have two simple guidelines for writing:
1. If I can not drive to your office, you pay me a deposit before I turn over my work.
2. I own my content. Always.

I will let you know if I ever get paid by this company but in my experiences with them, I am pretty sure that I am SOL.

Live and Learn

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Trusting yourself as an outdoors woman

** The following is an article that I wrote for The Liberty Project.  It was originally published on November 16, 2015 here

Why trusting yourself is key for success in the outdoors

It is critical to know and feel comfortable with any situation you put yourself in.  This is especially true if your goal is to bring home meat for the freezer.  You need to have a level of knowledge and understanding about why you are there and what you want to accomplish.  Everything about being successful in the outdoors comes from a sense of trust: in yourself, your tool and your training. 

My training came from my Dad. I started to learn and trust his experiences about where the deer were more likely to come out into an opening, where we should build a tree stand and that I could and would shoot a deer.  When it came time to take that first deer, I remember asking Dad if it was ok and then after, if I had hit the deer.  His reassurance and confidence in me has helped to make me a better hunter and trust my own judgement and skills.  When I shot my first deer without him sitting next to me, it helped to know that he was nearby in the woods.  He was, and still is, the reassurance that if I get into any sort of trouble that I cannot handle, he is there to help me out.  It is his ongoing trust and support in me that keeps me focused and going when nothing seems to be going right and the deer just don’t show up.  If I only see a squirrel after 10 hours in the woods, I hear his voice telling me, “Every day in the woods is a new adventure” and I am grateful for the opportunity to be there.

Every year my trust in myself and my gun gets a little stronger.  While I carry my gun around in the woods, I never lose sight of the fact that it is a tool whose sole purpose is to kill.  I become more familiar with the weight of it, where the barrel is pointing and how high I carry it when moving from one seat to another.  The one thing that stuck with me from hunter’s safety was the saying that a gun’s safety is a mechanism prone to failure.  After 13 seasons in the woods, I am now more comfortable handing and using the gun.  I know where I need to aim and I know how my hands fit around the gun, the feel of it in my shoulder and the recoil that comes after every shot. 

My ethics have also helped me trust myself in the woods.  Knowing my gun and knowing that the purpose of my hunt is to put meat in the freezer, I am aware of the size of the animals that I am taking (no does with fawns, no sows with cubs) and the impact that it will have on the local ecosystem.  I also will not take a shot that I am not totally confident about.  I have written a few times on my blog about the reasons behind my hunting from a tree; I can’t trust myself to take a good shot while am animal is running.  I will not take a shot that could wound a deer so I work to make sure I am comfortable with the angles and possible shots that I may have to take.  As a right handed shooter, there are shots that I just will not be able to make from where I sit in my tree stands. In cases like this, I enjoy watching the animals interact and enjoy the world around them and I try to learn more about their behaviors.

Trusting yourself as an outdoors woman is critical to your self-esteem and self-reliance.  There is something powerful about being able to go on a successful hunt and know how to clean, butcher and cook.  It is not easy to just walk into the woods knowing that the reason you are there is to kill an animal.  Many people take for granted what they are doing and the main reason behind hunting in the first place.  Being able to trust in yourself and have confidence will ensure that every trip into the woods is one where you are comfortable in your skills and ethics.