Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tipping Your Guide - How Much?

In my last few posts I have written about the guided fishing trip I went on in the Smoke Mountains. It was a new experience for me, I had never used a guide. I had no idea what to expect or what was expected of me. One thing I was concerned about was tipping my guide. I didn't know if tipping was even appropriate and if it was how much I should tip.

When it comes to tipping I am no slouch. I tip waitresses 15% to 25% depending on the service rendered. If she does a great job and works hard to give us a nice meal I tip well. If she only visits our table to take the order and deliver food, I tip the minimum amount. When we go somewhere nice and the bill is $100 or more it is very hard to tip appropriately, but I do it because I believe it is important.

A beautiful Red Eye I caught on my trip

I went online to see what the going tip for a good guide was. It seems that most people tip their guide 20% if he does a good job and tries hard to make the hunt or fishing trip as enjoyable and productive as possible. It seems that, as with all tipping, there is some wiggle room. A one on one trip would constitute a larger tip than when the guide is working with several sportsmen at the same time. If the guide was lazy or did not know his stuff, then that would mean a smaller tip. If the trip is enormously expensive, many people opt to tip a smaller percentage. Conversely, if the trip was inexpensive then the tip should be at a higher percentage. There are really no hard rules, it just comes down to your preference.

Some may say "why tip at all?" I can understand this. A guided trip is expensive, even an inexpensive guided trip like mine was is expensive. $150 for four hours on a river is a big chunk of my fishing budget. Adding $30 on top of that for a decent tip is hard to do. I try to keep in mind that my guide is not making 100% of the $150 for the trip. The booking agent gets a cut, plus he has to pay for the gear (including the gear we lost due to snags and poor casts). I'm sure there are other overhead costs I do not know about. How much do you make a day? Shouldn't your guide, who has very specific skills, make the same amount? Good outfitters can be hard to find. I think sportsmen should be willing to pay well to keep them happy and in business.

It all comes down to how much a good hunting or fishing trip is worth to you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dreaming Big and Dangerous

This blog entry is my submission for the Red Tuna Shirt Club and Outdoor Blogger Network Writing Contest.

When I daydream about fishing I dream big! I love fishing for trout, bass, and catfish, but they are not nearly big or dangerous enough for me to dream about. I dream of adventure! I want to catch a fish that could eat me.

A few years back I caught a three foot shark in the Chesapeake Bay. We were fishing for Croaker and no one in the boat could believe it when I hooked the “monster”.  Also, no one in the boat wanted to take the hook out. The teeth were scary! We had to let it go, it was too small to legally keep. I can’t remember which one of us was brave enough to unhook it, but I can still remember shaking from excitement after releasing it.

My shark was tiny compared to the size I dream of catching. I want to fish for the big guys, bigger than me, bigger than my boat! We’ve all seen those pictures of a giant shark being lifted out of the water by a crane, the proud fisherman who caught it posing beside it. I want to be that fisherman!

To throw another level of excitement into the mix, I want to bowfish for my giant shark. Is this practical, legal, or even possible? I don’t know. I’m dreaming, remember! I imagine luring in a giant shark with bloody meat, or stealthily sneaking up to one in the shallows. I would see its small eyes, scarred face (the shark I catch is going to be a scrapper), and flashing teeth just before I release my arrow. The fight will be fast and furious, resulting in the aforementioned photo.

Who would I go with? In my dream it is my wife. She isn’t squeamish, impatient, or afraid like she is in our real life outdoor outings. She is there helping me land the big one.  When we are debating which of the dozen trophy sharks we have swimming around our boat I should take, she encourages me to take the hard shot for the biggest one. Then as the massive shark almost pulls me in, she grabs me and helps me stay in the boat. I’ll even let her in the iconic photo I will have taken!

Why do I dream of danger and adventure when I dream of the quiet pastime of fishing? Perhaps it is because I am a natural hunter, there is nothing like the excitement of a hunt. Or maybe it is because I am not very brave and want to be. Most likely it is because I have a wild imagination.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review - Smokies Angling Adventures Guide Services

A few days ago I went on a guided fishing trip in the Smokie Mountains. Although I didn't catch much, I had a great time. This was the first time I had been on a guided trip. When I started I didn't know what to expect, so I thought I would do a review of the guide service so if someone wants to go on a guided trip, they will have an idea what to expect.

On our way up to Gatlinburg, TN my wife suggested I go fishing. I hadn't packed any gear, so I knew I would need to either rent some or find a guide that would provide some. I tasked my wife to find a guide who would provide gear for me. She used her IPhone and found Smokies Angling Adventures Guide Services .

I was afraid that they would not be able to work me in while I was in town. However when I called they had two openings. I scheduled a morning four hour trip for $150. They offer six and eight hour trips for $175 and $200 respectively. I would have rather gone for six or eight hours, but I was on a family trip and needed to spend time with family.

The booking agent got my information and told me my guide would call me the next day to set up a time and place to meet. As promised, my guide called me. He was very professional. He asked if I wanted to fly fish or use spinning gear (I chose spinning) and whether I wanted to fish for trout or small mouth bass (I chose trout). We set up a time and place to meet.

The morning of my fishing trip I met my guide, we did paper work and went directly to our fishing spot. Apparently no one else booked the day, so I was one on one with my guide. My guide, Gary, was very friendly and knew his stuff. He knew individual holes to fish and exactly the best way to fish them. We worked up and down a river catching little. Gary did a great job of teaching me where to look for trout and how to fish for them. This lesson was worth the price alone.

Fishing with a guide was a great experience. When my line got snagged Gary worked it loose while I continued fishing with the spare pole. He baited the hooks and unhooked the fish. I didn't have to worry with all of the undesirable aspects of fishing. I truly enjoyed Gary's company. I know I was paying him to be my friend, but I felt very comfortable with him. He told great fishing stories and patiently instructed me.

Gary was visibly disappointed that I didn't catch much. His clients usually do much better. He put me on fish, we could see them. They just were not biting. I wasn't surprised, being perpetually unlucky I was not expecting to catch much. I have learned to enjoy the experience no matter the outcome. That said, using the Smokies Angling Adventures Guide Services was a great experience.

You can contact Smokies Angling Adventures Guide Services at:

Smokies Angling Adventures
Captain David Berry
3520 Dockery Dr.
Mascot, TN. 37806

Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Tennessee
865-933-3140 or 865-661-5107

Smokies Angling Adventures did not compensate me for this review. I paid for it with my own money.

A hurricane is bearing down on me right now, so I'm not sure how long I will have power. There may not be many posts for the next few days!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Guided Fishing Trip In The Smokey Mountians

Today I was able to go on a half day guided fishing trip in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. I am vacationing with my family in Gatlinburg. On the way up my wife suggested I go on a fishing trip. I didn't have the foresite to pack any gear, so I knew I would have to either rent some or find a guide. I ended up choosing to go with a guide. This was the first time I have been able to afford a guided trip. I had the choice between fishing for small mouth bass or rainbow trout. I chose the trout. I didn't catch much fish, but had a great time and learned a bunch. There is defiantly nothing like fishing with a professional!

A beautiful river

I started the day fishing in a shallow slow moving river. My guide, Gary, brought me to a pool and had me start casting rooster tails and small rubber worms. We could see dozens of nice 12" - 14" trout, but none did more than look at my bait. They would swim up to it and then just turn away once they got a good look. This was exciting and frustrating.

We worked up the river, hitting the pools. Gary did a great job of showing me where the pools were and how to present my lures. This lesson in itself was worth the price of the trip. We came upon an elderly local fishing one large pool. He had caught a couple using corn slowly drug across the bottom.

While fishing a fast moving section of the river I caught my first fish of the day. It was not a trout, but a species I had never heard of; the locals call it a Red Eye. Red Eye's are also known as Rock Bass. These are not the Rock Bass we have back in the Chesapeake Bay (also known as Strippers), they are a cold water bream that live in mountain streams. I didn't know such a thing existed. It was a very pretty fish and I was excited to catch a new species.

A Red Eye

We worked up and down the river with no other fish, ending up at the pool we started in. There we started trying every lure and bait Gary had. We could see dozens of fish and they were chasing my lures, but no bites. Eventually we tried a black rooster tail, almost immediately I had a strong strike with a fish on. It was a nice 9 inches.

I ate this one.
After that I caught one other small one and hooked three others. One of them was quite large, but I lost it due to my inexperience. All in all it was a great experience that I look forward to repeating. Fishing with a guide was tons of fun. I could tell that Gary felt bad that I didn't catch more, but that is part of fishing. I am, after all, very unlucky. He definitely put me on fish and taught me a bunch. I have caught trout fever and am already planning my next trip.

I'm going to do a review the guide service I used in my next post, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Attack of the Chiggers!

Chiggers! I hate them! I was out scouting a few days ago and ran into a terrible patch of chiggers and ticks. When I began my hike I wasn't paying attention to my legs because I had soaked myself in DEET before I left and I was reapplying it every hour. The mosquitoes that usually drive me crazy were not bothering me, so I figured the ticks and chiggers were not either. Wrong! I happened to glance down and notice an army of ticks climbing up my leg. An army! I immediately picked off over 20. For the rest of the hike I stopped every five minutes and picked off the three or four I had picked up. I lost count of the ticks I picked off me, it had to be over 50.  None bit me though, it was like they were climbing over the DEET to get to my unDEETed parts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Camping Recipe - Omlette In A Bag

If you are a regular reader, you may know by now that I enjoy a hot lunch when I am hunting all day. Nothing keeps me going like a full belly of warm food! Usually I use expensive self heating meals. These work great, but are generally lacking in the taste department. Some brands are very good, others are barely edible. To solve this problem I have added a backpacking stove to the list of things I keep in my truck. This will give me almost unlimited hot lunch options. One of my favorite quick camping recipes is the Omlette-in-a-bag.

The Omlette-in-a-bag is more of a cooking technique than a recipe. Here is how it is done:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ted's Holdover YouTube Channel

Most people who read blogs also use YouTube. So, you probably already know that YouTube is a great resource for hunting information. I follow several hunting channels on YouTube, but my favorite is Ted's Holdover.  It is based around long range shooting with high performance airguns. Ted is an amazing marksman, and he does an amazing job at explaining mildots, holdovers, and correcting for wind. He has some great small game hunting videos with slow motion impact shots.

The videos are quality and the information is priceless. Here is one of my favorite videos from this channel:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is Scent Control Really That Important?

This past year one of the men in my church passed away. The widow knows that I hunt, so she has been bringing me her husbands subscription of Virginia Game & Fish until it runs out. This magazine is specifically for Virginia sportsmen. It is not normally something I would pay for, but I have enjoyed reading it each month.

This month it included an article titled "3 Steps To Lick Their Noses" by Tony J. Peterson. It is a well written article, but I can't help but wonder if the author goes a little overboard on scent control. For instance, he recommends clearing a path to your stand, so that you can get to it without touching or brushing up against any vegetation. He also recommends wearing rubber boots, even in the coldest times of winter. The last half of the article is excellent, explaining tactics for staying down wind.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Shopping for Hunting and Camping Gear at the Dollar Store

Normaly I shop for hunting and camping gear either at Walmart, the local Bass Pro Shopps, or online. Sometimes though it pays to look in unconventional places. Last week I took my daughters to the dollar store to buy some coloring books. While I was there  kept on seenig things I could use for hunting. So, I came back and did some shopping for hunting supplies. For less than $20 I came back with quite a haul.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review - $15 Ultralight Backpacking Canister Camp Stove

A few days ago I was browsing Amazon on my IPhone. Normally I use our laptop for this, but my wife was facebooking. I was looking for a small camp stove that would fit in my truck box. I wanted something that I could use to make myself a hot lunch when I am out hunting. I shop on Amazon by adding all of the items I am interested in to my shopping cart, from there I compare the items and delete the things I don't want. Apparently, the Amazon app for the IPhone works a little differently that the website. I found a stove that I might want to buy and added it to my cart. Only the IPhone App doesn't have a cart, it only has "buy it now". So when I thought I was adding the stove to my cart, I was actually buying it. I was alarmed when I discovered I had actually bought the stove, but then decided it was OK. The stove was only $15.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bring a Compass With You! (Or You May Never Find Your Truck)

We live in a time where GPS is king. You can see exactly on the little screen where you are and where you have been. Nice ones even show you topo maps or aerial photographs. Most hunters don't carry a compass any more. Some of the younger generation don't even know how to use one. And why would they? A handheld GPS in easier and more accurate. I have three, and never go into the woods without one. I also never go into the woods without a compass. Here is why:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Simple Survival Shelter Kit

A few days ago I wrote a post on the fire starting kit I carry. I mentioned that I don't need a big survival kit with fishhooks, snares, and water purification tablets. I just need something to keep me comfortable until help arrives. Half of my kit is a fire starting kit, the other half is a shelter kit.

I don't need a shelter that will last for days in a blizzard. I just need something to keep me comfortable for a few hours, or, worst case, over night. Something that will act as a wind break and keep rain or snow off of me is all I need.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Virginia's New WMA Facility Use Permit

Here in Virginia every county and public hunting land seems to have slightly different game laws. The seasons, bag limits, and hunting methods can vary widely from one county to another. I hunt in over a dozen different counties, so before I go out each time I make sure to double check the regulations for where I am going.

Last week I went scouting at the Chickahominy WMA. Before I left, I checked the rules for that particular WMA, in case there were any off limit areas or other rules I needed to be aware of.  As I was reading the rules I noticed a new, big one. Starting January 1, 2012 everyone who does not have a hunting, fishing, trapping license, or has registered a boat, will need to purchase a Facility Use Permit. A Facility Use Permit costs the same as a hunting license; $23.

Directly from the rules

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Scouting for Squirrel Season at the Chickahominy WMA

A few days ago I went out to scout a new area for squirrels and ducks. I went to the Chickahominy WMA. The area is only about an hour an a half away and I had heard hunters complain that the squirrels were so thick they disrupted deer hunting. I'm pleased with my new find. I saw dozens of squirrels, a couple deer, and a turkey. I thought this would be a great time to show you what I look for when scouting for squirrel season.

Like all animals, squirrels need three things; food, water, and the proper habitat. Find all three and you will probably find what you are looking for. Squirrels are basically everywhere where there are trees. The trick is finding a lot of them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Simple Fire Starting Kit

I have only needed to use my survival kit once. When I was a teenager my dad would drop me off by a river. I would hunt ducks and geese. After four hours or so he would come back to pick me up. Although I was never good at hitting the ducks, it was lots of fun.

One cold, windy day I shot a duck and waded into the river to get it. I slipped and fell into the icy water, filling my waders up. This was before cell phones and there were no homes or people in miles. So, I had to wait until my dad returned. I knew I was getting hypothermia and was in for a few miserable hours. Fortunately, I had a small survival kit with a lighter and some trioxine tablets. I found a wind break, made a small fire, and kept as warm as possible until my dad returned.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Myth or Fact - Are Strike Anywhere Matches Illegal?

The other day I was working on my survival kit and realized that all of my strike anywhere matches were no good. Over time the match heads absorb humidity and get mushy. Mushy match heads don't light.

 So, I went out to buy some new ones. I have not bought strike anywhere matches in quite a few years. I usually buy high quality cigar safety matches for around the house, but for a survival kit, strike anywhere matches make more sense. I went to three different stores, and many more in subsequent days, and could not find any.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A New Look For The Unlucky Hunter

My wife told me the template on this blog looked girly. I liked to old template, but don't want to look girly, so I made a custom one. It is not as fancy (CSS in Blogger templates kicked my butt), but I like it. I'll be making a few tweaks here and there for the next few days, so please bear with me.

Discovering the Survival Bracelet

Have you ever discovered something new, gotten excited, told everyone you knew about it, only to find out it was common knowledge? You were literaly the last one to hear about it. That happened to me this week.

I was Stumbling arround the net, my favorite time killer, and found a site about Survival Bracelets. Survival Bracelets are bracelts made out of paracord that you can unravle if you need some rope. Paracord is unbelievable stuff. It has as many useses as duct tape. The idea of always having some with me was exciting.

There is about 8 feet of cord in there

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Visit To The Virginia Living Musem

This past Saturday I took my daughters to the Virginia Living Museum. We have a membership and go often in the winter and in the hottest times of the summer. All of the plants and animals there are native to Virginia. They have some amazing aquariums and keep almost all of Virginia's legal game animals. It is one of the few museums that will entertain a two year old and an adult equally. If you are ever in the Tidewater area I recommend you visit it.

Every time I go I get fired up to go hunting. Visiting a place that has caged game animals can actually be beneficial to your hunting. It lets you visualize kill zones on actual animals in a controlled environment. It helps you judge ranges in the field. Bring your range finder. Range an animal at 30 yards and you will have a better idea what it will look like at 30 yards in the field. For beginning hunters, viewing captive species can help identify them in the wild. You can even learn some about their behavior.

Monday, August 8, 2011

DIY Backpack Quiver

In my last post I reviewed the Guide Gear Camo Quiver Pack. It did not do so great. The biggest flaw was its "quiver". The built in quiver was just a pocket that you could stick arrows in. It would not hold broad heads or any thing other than field points. In this post I am going to show you how I converted this pack into a workable quiver that can hold four arrows with broad heads. This technique can be used on many backpacks with just a little modification.

A "quiver" backpack. Borderline false advertisement.
First you need to make a trip to the hardware store. You will need the following things:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review - Guide Gear Camo Quiver Pack

There are a couple of pieces of hunting gear that I can never quite get right. I've tried many different products from many different brands and cannot find exactly what I want. The canteen is an example of this. I've tried over a dozen and can't find any that I like. I have the same problem with backpacks and gloves.

Another example if this is a quiver. I cannot find a quiver I like. I use a crossbow, which makes finding a good one all the harder. Most quivers are designed for long arrows, not short bolts. I despise quivers that attach to my bow. It is big, heavy, and awkward enough without trying to attach pointy sticks to it. Hip quivers get hung up on every piece of brush I walk by. Back quivers are always too deep and I can't comfortably wear a back pack with them.

I've decided to try one of those backpack/quivers. Most are just regular backpacks with a quiver attached. There are all types available. The one thing they all have in common it that they are expensive. The cheapest start at $100 and they go up from there. For this reason I was excited to find the Guide Gear Camo Quiver Pack at the Sportsman's Guide for a little less than $30. At this price I couldn't pass it up.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review - Cabela's Recon Hunt IPhone App: Part 2

In my last post I started reviewing Cabela's excellent IPhone hunting app. The review is too big to fit into one post. Lets start where we left off.

Guide Trip
It took me a little while to understand what the Guide Trip section did. Basically, it is a way-point organization system. This is how it works:

Say you go scouting for deer. You find some nice rubs, a scrape, and a few promissing trails. You add these spots as waypoints to you map. The first time you add a waypoint Cabela's Recon Hunt prompts you to create a "trip". You can name this "trip" however you like, we'll say you name it DEER. All other waypoints are saved under this "trip".

Friday, August 5, 2011

Good Deal - Surefire G3 Flashlight

Always wanted a Surefire flashlight? Midway has a great deal on one right now, $29.99! You can get it here.  I probably won't get one because I already have a flashlight I like and I've spent all of my hunting money for the month, but it is tempting!

Review - Cabela's Recon Hunt IPhone App: Part 1

I while ago I wrote a post on five IPhone apps every hunter needs. One of them was Cabela's Recon Hunt. I promised a full review, so here it is. This is a big app, so it is going to take more than one post to cover it.

When I first opened Cabela's Recon Hunt I was a little overwhelmed by all of its functions, and I couldn't figure out what they all did. Fortunately, there is a serviceable help section.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Giveaway - ANSI 196 Piece First Aid Kit

Congratulations to Hoa! The random generator picked your post to win! I have notified the winner by email. Thanks to everyone who entered and look for next months giveaway soon!

The Unlucky Hunter is giving away a ANSI 196 Piece First Aid Kit! A while ago, I wrote a post about my truck first aid kit. This kit is perfect for a vehicle, camp, or even your house. It is a $30 value.

You can't tell from this crappy picture,but it is unopened and fully sealed.

One lucky follower will receive one ANSI 196 Piece First Aid Kit!
Giveaway Dates:  August 4th - September 5th , 2011  Midnight EST
How to Enter:
Do one or more of the following and post a comment below about each action you took. Each comment will count as a separate entry so your chances of winning increase.
Only public followers of The Unlucky Hunter will qualify. If you are already a follower or already subscribed to the email list, just comment below and you will be entered.
  1. Be a public follower of The Unlucky Hunter
  2. Follow The Unlucky Hunter by email. This can be found at the top right of the page.
  3. Tweet and leave URL:
    Enter to #win 
    ANSI 196 Piece First Aid Kit #Giveaway @notluckyhunter
  4. "Like" The Unlucky Hunter on Facebook
Giveaway Rules:
Open to residents of USA, age 18+ to enter. Winner announced right here on September 6th, 2011. Thanks for entering and good luck! Winner selected through and notified by email.

Deer & Deer Hunting Picked Up One Of My Posts!

I got and email from Deer & Deer Hunting asking if they could use my review of their Shot Simulator (which I love) on their site. I said sure, and here it is!

I'm excited that they liked my review. Just though I'd share!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Building an Ammo Stash

Right now it is popular, even trendy, among sportsmen to maintain a stockpile of ammo. Everyones definition of "stockpile" is different. Some consider a couple hundred rounds, stockpiling. Others say it is only stockpiling if you have more than 10000 rounds per firearm. Whatever your definition of stockpiling ammo is, there is good reason to do this.

Some stockpile ammo as insurance for a SHTF event. They believe they will be able to trade it for anything and that they will need all the ammo they can get to protect themselves. Others do it as insurance against inflation. Ammo prices are just rising and rising. You can bet the ammo you buy today will be much more expensive in five years. Ammo that is properly stored will last a lifetime, so buying it now could make it cheaper to shoot in the future. Still others stockpile because they believe ant-gun laws will be made that outlaw, or severely restrict the sale of ammo. Buy it now because you might not be able to later.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review - Cabelas Extreme Outfitter Monopod

A few days ago I told you about a good deal on Cabelas website. A shooting stick for $14.88. Lets see if it is a good deal.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Essential gear - Remington R-93 2-Blade Razor Pocket Folding Knife

Sometimes you are given something that you would have never wanted or bought, and it becomes one of your favorite things. This happened to me with the Remington R-93 2-Blade Razor Pocket Folding Knife.

I was visiting my in-laws a couple years ago and my father-in-law, Carl, handed me this knife. He said that he had won it at a local fair, and had no use for it. I smiled and admired the obviously well made knife, all the while thinking "I'm never going to use this." It was very small, delicate almost, and one of its two blades was a straight razor. I've never understood the reason for attaching a straight razor to a pocket knife. Do people actually shave with them?

I would never shave my face with this

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