Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Post - Makeup, Fashion, and Hunting advice from The Skinny Runner

My wife reads Skinny Runner, a running blog, every day. Believe it or not, was the main inspiration for The Unlucky Hunter. My wife kept on talking about this running blog, so I checked it out. My first thought was, "I can do that!" I soon found out that while The Skinny Runner makes blogging look easy, it is not. Anyway, when my wife told me that The Skinny Runner had gone on a hunting trip I just had to email her and ask her to write a guest post for The Unlucky Hunter. Amazingly, she agreed! While promising that it would not be your "normal" hunting post.

When Tim asked me to write a guest post, I laughed. out loud. He's the unlucky hunter? I just got back from pheasant hunting in Scranton, North Dakota; I shot about 400 bullets and the only thing I hit was a cloud. So obviously I'm really qualified to write this post.

And then I wondered if he meant he wanted my dad to write the guest post - my dad's a commercial fisherman and wannabe professional hunter. He's in New Mexico right now hunting some big animal, elk I think. or maybe elephant. or rhinoceros, who knows. He's the (weirdo) guy who goes to Hawaii to hunt down a mountain goat. The only thing I hunt down in Hawaii is another bottle of Evian water mister. And he's the one who decides to go elk hunting with a bow and arrow because a gun is "just too easy". Yeah, he's obviously not my real dad since I would use a grenade launcher and 50 round assault rifle if I could.

Anyways, what I've learned from attempting to hunt is most importantly, the clothes and makeup are very fashionable. Like really fashionable and up-to-date with the changing styles. Here, my older brother Byron is modeling the Fall/Winter 2012 Cabellas line. Interestingly enough, it has doubled as the Spring/Summer line from 1981-present. You mix some hunter's orange and camouflage and you're ready for Milan Fashion Week. every year.

And the makeup is to-die-for. Tim, you wanted some makeup tips, didn't you? Well, it's a good thing my dad is demonstrating the newest fall colors here; he said he was going bow hunting for an elk and needed to be camouflaged, but I really think he was just messing around in my makeup bag...

I know you can barely get over them but beyond the clothes and makeup, I've learned the token hunting lesson that it doesn't matter if you actually hit anything; in fact, it's definitely better if you don't hit a person. It's just being outside, enjoying nature, getting some exercise all the while cursing those dang fast birds under your breath. And really, if you don't hit anything, you can just take pictures and act like you did... this works for me all the time.

Thanks Tim for having one of the worst hunters of all time (if we don't include hunting for designer shoes sales) on your blog!

Girl, you did better than I usually do! Today I went out and didn't see a thing, at least you got to shoot! Thanks for the post, I got a big kick out of reading and posting it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review - Flex Loader

I went on my first black powder hunt today. It was a tough hunt. I had to lug my 30 pound stand through a marsh, over dozens of down trees about half a mile to where I wanted to hunt. Unfortunately, the effort was fruitless. I didn't see anything.

I was good to get out with my rifle. I absolutely love my muzzleloader, a Thompson Center Impact. It is the most accurate rifle I own, giving me one hole groups at 100 yards. Black powder hunting is so fun! I love all of the little tools you need to bring along. It feeds right into my love of gadgets. Of all my muzzleloading gadgets the Flex Loader is my favorite.

The Flex Loader is made by Thompson Center, although I should point out that all major muzzleloader manufacturers have their own version. They all perform about the same. It is a speed loader that holds three shots and four primers. The tubes are designed to hold three pellets and a bullet, but can be cut down if, like me, you only use two. The tubes are held in a soft rubber housing that has a lanyard hole. I tie it to my belt and have never had a tube come out, even in the thickest brush. I don't think it would work well with powder, but I've never tried.

This speed loader is not the best on on the market because it holds three rounds, or because it keeps primers handy (although those things are great). It is the best for one very simple design reason, the tubes only open on one end.

Traditional speed loaders open from either end. Do not ask me why. You have to remember, or look to see, which end holds the bullet and which end holds the pellets. I cannot tell you how many times, in the excitement of the hunt, I popped open the wrong end of one of the traditional speed loaders and loaded the bullet into my gun backwards. Of course, I never rammed the bullet down backwards, but it always got stuck in the barrel. This requires me to remove the breech plug and push it out with my ramrod. Very frustrating, especially when trying to make a follow up shot on a deer.

I HATE these

The above scenario cannot happen with the Flex Loader.

Everyone who has a muzzleloader and uses pellets should own and use a flex loader.

I was not compensated in any way for this review. I purchased the item with my own money. I do get a small commission if you purchase something from the links below.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review - Dorfman Pacific Big Brim Hat w/ Mesh

Last summer I decided I needed a new hat. I had misplaced my NRA ball cap and wanted a wide brimmed hat for the hunting season. My wife and I went to the local Bass Pro Shops, it is less than 20 minutes away, and I tried on every hat they had. My wife seemed to think all of the cool hats were dumb, so I sent her to look at women's clothes. This lead to her spending more money at Bass Pro than I, which is actually very common. Apparently the girls clothes are quite nice there. It was a hard decision, but I ended up choosing a hat made by Dorfman Pacific. Boy am I glad I did! This hat has become my all time favorite!

I'm not a hat expert. When I look for a hat I just want four things:

Comfort - I dislike hats to begin with, so if I'm going to wear one it has to be comfortable. This Dorfman Pacific hat is probably the most comfortable hat I have ever worn. It is like wrapping your favorite blanket around your head, without the heavy, hot blanket feeling. The mesh top keeps your head cool. I've never had a problem with my head getting hot.

Sun Protection - This hat does a great job of keeping the sun off your head and out of your eyes. You would think the mesh would let the sun in and give you a sunburn, but this has never happened to me. Amazingly, the sun is usually up in the sky and does not shine hard through the mesh. The brim is really wide and has no problem keeping the sun out of your eyes.

Rain Protection - The main reason I wear a hat on overcast days is to keep the rain off. This hat does a fair job of keeping your head and face dry. It does great in a light rain, but in heavy rain your going to get wet. Recently I was caught in a downpour. The rain not only made it through the mesh upper, the cotton fabric of the hat got soaked. It was better than nothing, but not good.

Fashion - I look awesome in this hat. Hats usually make my head look big. This Dorfman Pacific just makes my head look amazing. I like getting my picture taken with this hat.

If you need a comfortable hat for warm, fair weather this is the hat for you. If you are going out in cold, wet weather you may be better served with something else. I personally love this hat. I wish it came in blaze orange so I could wear it during deer gun season.

I was not compensated in any way for this review. The item was purchased with my own money. This is my honest opinion. I do get a very small commission if you purchase something from the links below.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review - Nikon Retractable Rangefinder Tether

Sometimes you find a piece of equipment that simply makes your life easier. The Nikon Retractable Rangefinder Tether is one of those products.

Nikon makes a good product and this is no exception. It is simply a retractable tether with a heavy duty spring. You can attach your rangefinder, or just about any electronic device, to one end and then clip it to your belt. Your rangefinder is now always at your fingertips, never to be lost and never to get tangled in brush.

The housing is made of plastic, so I'm not sure how this would hold up with every day use. If you are like me, you don't go hunting every day, so this is not an issue. The belt clip is on the small side. It will clip to a belt loop or a d-ring, but not around your belt. I like that it attaches to your equipment with a key ring. This is very secure.

The 25 inch cable is coated in nylon and has a 60 pound breaking strength. It has a 9 ounce retraction force, which is more than it sounds. Hanging a range finder on it is no problem. A small digital camera, GPS unit, or knife would also work well on it.

Not trying to show off my butt, honest!
I personally prefer hanging my range finder from my left shoulder via a d-ring on my pack or vest. However, the 25 inch cord is plenty long enough for it to be attached anywhere on a pack or belt. One word of caution: Don't just let go of your range finder. The retraction strength is so great that it will snap back loudly and violently, possibly damaging the unit and hurting you.

I can see lots of uses for The Nikon Retractable Rangefinder Tether. There have been many times that I wished my pistol, knife, or GPS had a tether, but a long string just got in the way. I will probably purchase a couple more of these and attach them to my more critical (and expensive) pieces of gear.

The Nikon Retractable Rangefinder Tether costs about $22 and is both a practical hunting tool and an insurance policy against lost equipment. I highly recommend it.

I was not compensated in any way for this review. I purchased the item with my own money. Nikon does not sponsor me (I wish! I need a new camera!). I do get a very small commission if you purchase something from the links below.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Deer Hunting VS Potty Training A Toddler

I fully intended to go deer hunting yesterday. However, my life had other plans. We have started potty training my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Lila. We are not doing the pull-ups, do-it-on-her-own-timetable way. Instead, we are going with the intensive "potty trained in three days" method. I know, it is a lofty plan and sounds unrealistic. For those of you who have not potty trained someone recently, this is how it works:

For three days you give your toddler lots of salty snacks and all the juice she wants. The idea is to make her pee a lot. For those three days she does not wear diapers except to bed. You watch her like a hawk. When she starts to pee you put her on the potty. If some pee gets in the potty you give her a treat, we chose lollipops. If all goes as intended, after three days she will be potty trained enough that she asks to go potty when she needs it and you can go on short outings without accidents. That is the plan anyway.

I must also mention that my wife was not on board with this plan. I told her that we were going to try the plan for three days, if it did not work we would try again in a few months. While she was very vocal in her opposition to my plan, to her credit, she made every effort to make it work.

The first day (Wednesday) was rocky, most of the pee made it onto the floor. To our chagrin every time she peed on the floor she would shout "peed just like doggy!" You see, two days prior my elderly shih-tzu walked in front of the entire family, squatted, and peed all over the floor. Lila found this very funny. An even bigger problem was my 11 month old daughter who not only tried to climb on Lila's lap as she was using the potty, she tried to sit on the potty like her big sister. Watching two toddlers, one without a diaper, was difficult to say the least. Lila ended up actually going on the potty once. By the end of the day we were exhausted, discouraged, and my wife was livid.

When she is 14 she will kill me for posting this!

Day two I had planned on going hunting. However, I knew my wife couldn't take a full day of potty training by herself, so I canceled my trip and stayed home to help. Day two went awesome. No accidents, asked to go to the potty well before things started squirting, a dry diaper after nap, and even pooping in the potty! Day three (today) went even better. We are beginning to trust her and not watch her like a poodle watching a baby eat a cookie. I'm glad I stayed home. Had I went hunting I'm fairly sure my wife would have given up and we would be worse off than when we started.

The sixth lollipop of the day!

You may be wondering why I am writing about potty training on a hunting blog. It is all about priorities. Hunting is great. I day dream about it constantly, it is a passion. If I could hunt every day I would. I spend almost all of my spare money on it. I have an active blog about it. And if my family needed me to stop I would never hunt again.

I've met many hunters that put hunting over their families. Once I was on a three day hunt, that I needed to cut short by a day. My family had plans to go to the zoo. One of the guys on the hunt said, "You can go to the zoo anytime. This is hunting season." I just smiled and thought to myself, "I have the rest of my life to hunt, my daughter is only 2 for one year."

Hunters - remember what is most important.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hunting - A Game With Complex Rules

I'm heading out to a new WMA to hunt tomorrow. Its not the first time I have been there, but it is the first time I have been there this year. I won a quota hunt which gives me a few days to hunt on this particular piece of property. I'm not very hopeful that I will kill a deer, I did not see one on this property all last year, but it is worth a try and I have been meaning to get out there to do some scouting for fox season.

As is my habit, I looked up the regs for this area. Everywhere I hunt seems to have different regulations. I'm glad I did. I had assumed it was still bow season in this area, but I was wrong. Regular gun season had already started. This means I will need to wear blaze orange. I don't mind wearing blaze orange, but had I not checked the regs I would have unknowingly broken the law. This is not the first time I have been surprised by an oddball season or regulation.

Take a look at this map:

This is the map showing you the different seasons for gun deer hunting in Virginia. Each color is a different set of rules. I live in the tidewater region, but I sometimes hunt farther to the west. This means in the course of one gun deer season I need to consult five different sets of rules. This does not include bow season, muzzleloader season or quota hunts which have their own sets of rules. Also, don't forget the other game animals, each with their own set of rules depending on where you are at. 

I'm not a dumb person, but this is confusing! I remember when gun season was gun season. All you had to worry about is getting your license and following one set of rules. Now even getting the license is complicated. This year I purchased a general, big game, muzzleloader, and crossbow license, a state stamp, a federal stamp, and got a HIP number. I don't mind paying at all, in fact I basically just buy everything whether I need it or not, just to be safe. 

There are a couple guys I am trying to get into hunting. When I explain the rules their eyes just glass over. I know one guy who tried to follow the rules, messed up a bunch of times, and now just says "screw it" and doesn't even read the regs. This is the wrong attitude and I do not hunt with him any longer, but it is telling. 

If I am reading the VDGIF budget correctly, more money is spent on administration than actual game management in Virginia. I believe that the rules are so complex because it is easier to make rules than actually manage the game system. I don't see a solution.

Bear season is much less complex. I could deal with deer seasons like this.

Don't get me wrong, I understand there needs to be different rules for different areas. East and west Virginia are totally different hunting areas, but do we really need 32 different sets for deer hunting regulations (my count could be off, it is complex) in one state?

The moral of this story is check your regulations closely and express to your states department of fish and game your frustrations. I e-mail the VDGIF regularly asking them to clarify rules, if we all did this I'm sure they would get the point.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Camp Recipe - Easy Spaghetti

Camp Recipes need to be easy and there is nothing eaisier than this spaghetti!

At home, before you leave camping, brown some hamburger and combine it with a can of spaghetti sauce. Pour the sauce and hamburger into a freezer bag and squeeze out the air. Put this bag of sauce into another bag, this will help keep it from leaking later. Place everything in your freezer. When you are packing your cooler, place the frozen sauce in with the ice. Not only will this keep it from spoiling, it will keep your other food cold longer.

At the campsite, bring a large pot of water to a boil. It is best to do this over a camp fire, this next step can take a while depending on how frozen the sauce is. Place the frozen bag of sauce into the boiling water. Take it out after it has heated through. You can then use the water in the pot to cook your noodles!

Not only is this easy, there is little clean up!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Survival Bracelet Use #3 - Tree Stand Hanger

As most of my readers know by now, I love my Survival Bracelet! I'm posting every time I find a use for it. Not all of the uses I can think up, just the times I actually use it. A couple weeks ago I was hunting from a tree stand and wanted to attach my pouch that contains a couple calls to my stand. This way they could be within easy reach without me having to move around too much. The solution: my Survival Bracelet!

Seriously, if your not wearing one of these, you need to! They are priceless!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday OBN!

This week is the first birthday of the Outdoor Blogger Network!  The OBN is a great place for people who blog about the outdoors to come and share ideas. It is also THE directory of outdoor blogs. The best of the Internet are listed there!

As a new blogger the OBN has helped me more than any other source. I have met great people and learned every thing I have needed to know to make my blog a success. If you are an outdoors blogger I recommend  you head over and join!

On top of all this, they are an amazing database of gear reviews. In fact right now they are giving away tons of gear for us bloggers to review. (Before you enter any contests I recommend you read the rules.)

Head on over to the OBN and find a new favorite blog! 

DIY Paracord Game Carrier

When hunting small game you basically have three choices when it comes to transporting your kill; a game bag attached to the back of a vest, a noose carrier that you attach to your belt or drape over your shoulder, or you can just carry your kills in your hand. I personally don't care for the game bags attached to a vest. They get hot and do not cool your kill well. They are also a mess, getting full of blood and feathers. I find that carrying kills in my hand is both impractical and gross. So, that leaves the noose Carrier.  Some have nooses that pull tight around the neck of your kill, others use a wire slot which allow you to carry quite a few animals at a time. You can buy these for cheap, but I prefer to make my own.

I make mine out of paracord, much like you would make a survival bracelet. Not only do mine work perfectly for carrying game, you can unravel them like a survival bracelet and use them for all sorts of uses.  Here is how I do it:

You will need the following materials:
  • A 12 foot section of paracord
  • Two 18 inch sections of paracord
  • A lighter
  • A knife or pair of scissors
  • A small piece of thread

Divide the 12 foot section in half, tying a string about twelve inches from the top of the loop.

The next few steps are easy to do, but hard to describe. I'm just going to let the pictures do the talking.

My camera was out of focus the first time I did this step, this is actually the on the second knot.
If that did not make sense (which I can understand) here is a video I made showing how to make a survival bracelet. The knot is the same.

Continue making knots...

Until there is only a quarter inch of loop left.

Pull the left over strands through the loop...

And tie a double knot.

Cut the extra strands close to the knot.

Burn the ends. This keeps the cord from unraveling and the knot from untying.

Pull the 18 inch strands through the loops at both ends. One for each end.

Tie a slip knot at each end of the 18 inch strands.

There you have it! It will hold four animals.

Hang it over your belt, and place the loop over your kills head. It works great!

I usually keep two in my pocket which allows me to carry 8 of my kills around. Generally, before I run out room I make a trip back to the truck to unload the game into a cooler. This is the best way I have found to transport small game.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun Friday!

Hunting tip of the week:

In swamps and marshes deer often like to bed in the thick reeds and brush during the day and come out into fields and wood lots during the night. Use this to your advantage. Place your stand on a point where the open areas create a "peninsula" surrounded by thick cover. In the morning focus on the open areas, because that is most likely where the deer will be coming from. In the evening, focus on the reeds and brush, because that is most likely where the deer will be coming from.

Hunting video of the week:
Don't believe anyone who says hunting with a crossbow is not a challenge.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lead - Protect It Like Gold

All hunters recognize that our hobby is under constant attack. The source of these attacks generally come from animal worshipers and the anti-gun movement.  Some honestly believe hunters are harming wildlife and destroying nature. Even though no group contributes to wildlife conservation more than hunters and fishermen. Some honestly think that any gun is a bad gun. If we would just get rid of all the guns, the world would be a happy utopia. In the past their attacks have come under the pretense of saving animals from suffering and keeping people safe from flying bullets. Recently they have formed a new, sneakier tactic: the environmental movement.

Global warming, save the planet, and reducing pollutants are very popular topics today. We hear about them every day in the news. There is no doubt a need for us to be responsible with nature. Every outdoorsman hates pollution. Every outdoorsman wants to preserve our forests and wetlands, we have a vested interest in it. Without clean, wild land we would not have a sport. Responsible hunters support reasonable, scientific conservation, and are even willing to give up some of their hunting opportunities to further wildlife conservation. We also are smart enough to recognize when hunting is being attacked under the guise of conservation. The current target in anti-hunters sights is lead.

Lead is vitally important to both hunters and fishermen. It is a cheap effective source of ammunition and it is necessary for weighing down fishing line. Have you ever tried fishing with lead free weights? It is a nightmare! The weights simply do not work well. The last time I was in an area than required them I ended up tying a rock to my line, it simply worked better!

Hunters have a slightly better time with lead free bullets and shot. Steel shot is common now and manufactures have done a good job at making it work as best they can. It still totally sucks. We have the option of heavy-metal shot also. However, this ammo is remarkably expensive, up to five times as expensive as their lead counterparts. Lead free bullets are a viable option, but they simply do not work as well and are also much more expensive. For instance, currently the least expensive box of lead free .22lr bullets I could find cost $7.50 for a box of 50. A large box of 550 plain old .22lr with lead bullets costs $19 at my local Walmart. The lead free bullets are 5 times as much.

Recently anti-hunters have proposed that lead in bullets and shot are poisoning animals, particularly birds of prey, and people. They have little scientific for this. Hunters and gun advocates have caught on. Hornaday (one of my favorite ammunition manufacturers) has created a video series about this attack. You can view the fist installment below:

On August 3rd, 2010 environmental groups petitioned the EPA to ban all lead from ammunition. The EPA wisely rejected this petition because they do not have the authority to make such a ban. However, the environmental groups have sued the EPA hoping to force them into creating a ban on lead ammunition.

The environmentalists do not have a scientific leg to stand on. Like all hate groups, they twist science to fit their agenda. Lead is toxic. That is why it has been banned in paint, toys, and gasoline. It was also rightfully banned in shot used for waterfowl hunting. All waterfowl hunters hate steel shot, but it was a necessarily sacrifice. Lead shot was accumulating in areas with heavy waterfowl hunting and there was documented evidence of it harming the waterfowl population. The Department of Fish and Game enacted this ban, not the EPA.

Currently environmentalists are trying to say that lead bullets are harming birds of prey. The theory is that the birds are feeding off of the carcass of animals shot with lead bullets, thereby ingesting lead and becoming poisoned. This is a hard claim to swallow as the bird of prey population has been steadily growing for the past several years. The only exception to this the Condor. Condors are so rare that even one death is a big deal, so lead bullets are not used in their range. This decision has largely been supported by sportsmen.

The Condor: big, ugly, and endangered.

The other theory the environmentalists are trying to push is that eating meat shot with lead bullets can cause lead poisoning. A study of the blood of North Dakota hunters showed that eating meat shot with lead is not a risk to their health. Only one death has been attributed to ingesting meat shot with lead. That was a person who exclusively ate wild game.

No matter what scientists say or what governmental decisions are made to protect lead ammunition, environmentalists will continue to attack it. We need to stay vigilant in our fight to protect our right to hunt. Please, keep abreast of this threat. Someday we will need to protect lead like we do gold!

My Climbing Tree Stand - AKA "The Deathtrap"

I grew up hunting via the spot and stalk method. This works great for mule deer, but is usually not the most effective method for whitetails. I have resisted using a tree stand for a while, sticking to ground blinds and still hunting. This year I gave in and bought a climbing tree stand. I have enjoyed scouting and reading the land, determining what tree would give me the best opportunity. It has already paid off. While I haven't taken a shot yet, I have seen more deer already this year than all of last year.

Getting used to using a climbing stand has been a little scary though. In my backyard I practiced assembling it, climbing and descending a tree, and reassembling it in the dark. However, somehow things are much more difficult in the field. The first morning I actually used it I thought I was going to die, or at least hang by my safety harness for a few hours.

Things went well at the beginning of my first hunt. I made it to the tree I had chosen, assembled my stand, and made it up the tree. I was slower than most would have taken, but I made it up. I had misjudged the size of the tree. When I made it to the correct height my stand was tilted downward. This made it uncomfortable to sit. I felt like I was sliding out of it the entire time. My hunting buddies speak of falling asleep in their stand. I was so uncomfortable there was no way I was going to relax, let alone sleep!

At about 10:00 I decided to go down the tree and adjust the stand, hopefully making it more level. Those of you who use climbing stands know that there are two pieces to the stand, the top portion that you sit in and the bottom portion that you rest your feet on. A cable, or bar wraps around the tree. Your weight wedges the stand into the tree. If it is not bearing weight it can easily fall.  When you are climbing, the bottom portion of the stand is attached to your feet by a strap of some sort. You ascend and descend by raising the top portion to about chest level, and wedging it into the tree. You then pull yourself and the bottom portion up, wedging the bottom portion into the tree when you have brought it up as high as you can. I have to do this about a dozen times before I am at the proper height

If my description confused you here is a video showing how it is done:

 Anyway, the two portions of the stand should be connected by a rope. This way, if the bottom portion falls you will not be stranded. You need both pieces to go up or down (safely).

As I was descending one of the straps that was holding the bottom portion to my feet snapped. Manufactures defect, the buckle just broke. This caused the bottom of the stand to twist and slide off my other foot at an angle.  I managed to pull myself back up into the top portion, but the bottom was out of reach. It was connected by the rope, but I made the rope to long. I couldn't pull it up by the rope because it fell at an angle, wedging itself tight.

I saw the big buck back in there.

Fortunately, I didn't panic. I was wearing my safety harness, so I knew I was not going to die. I was stuck, however, with no easy way down. I sat there, tugging at the rope, which only made things worse, until I decided to do something daring.  At my job I often have to work in high ceilings. I often stand on the top rung of a six foot ladder and pull myself up into the rafters. I get down by basically jumping onto the top rung of the ladder. I'm fairly sure footed. I was up much higher than I am at work, and the slanted base of the stand only gave me an inch to drop down on, but I figured I had the safety harness, so what could go wrong?

It worked perfectly. I dropped down onto the one inch bar, balanced on one foot, and brought the top portion of the stand down. Unfortunately, I could not right the bottom of the stand, so I had to repeat this process half a dozen times before I got to the ground.

Saw another nice buck the next day right down there
After taking a break, I hiked back to my truck and got a ratcheting strap. I used the ratcheting strap to strap my feet to the stand base. I wasn't going to let this happen again! I repositioned the stand to make it level and climbed back up. That evening I saw the largest buck I have ever seen in the wild. While I didn't get a shot, it was still a good day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recipe - Shredded Squirrel BBQ

Have you ever noticed that recipe books treat wild game much differently than traditional meats? The recipes are not familiar. I think this is one of the reasons people do not want to try game meat. When prepared, it looks and smells differently than what we normally eat. When I cook wild game I try to make it look and smell like something I would eat any other day.

Shredded Squirrel BBQ is one of these recipes. When it is done it looks, smells, and even tastes (kind of) like a pork BBQ sandwich. This recipe is perfect for tough old squirrels.

Each squirrel will make one sandwich.

Before you begin, brine your squirrels for at least 24 hours.

Quarter the Squirrel.

Place your squirrels in a crock pot and cover with chicken broth or beef broth.

Add some spices. I chose Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, Honey, and Onion Powder. I would have preferred real onion, but was out. I can't tell you how much to use. I just add stuff until I think it looks good. It is really hard to mess up.

Cook on high for eight hours or until the meat falls off the bone. When done, remove the meat from the bones and shred with two forks.

This really needs a thick BBQ sauce, like a Texas or Memphis sauce. This will hide any wild flavor left in the meat. A thin, vinegar based sauce seems to actually bring out the wild flavor.

It really is quite yummy. My wife, who refuses to eat wild game, said it smelled delicious and tasted good. It looks just like pulled pork. I doubt that someone who didn't know would be able to taste the difference.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hunting for Deer Hunters, Using Bait

You probably saw this article on Wildlife Officials Use Robo-Deer to Catch Poachers. Basically, the wildlife officials in Utah have a mechanical deer that they set beside the road at night. When someone shoots at it, they arrest them. This is old news. Game wardens have been doing this for decades. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I like that they are catching poachers, laws need to be enforced, but it just feels wrong. Technically the person shooting the fake deer has not broken a law, unless there is a law against shooting robot deer.

My first reaction is that this is entrapment. However, after a tiny amount of research I discovered that it is not entrapment by its legal definition. According to Wikipedia entrapment involves the following three things:

1.The idea for committing the crime came from the government agents and not from the person accused of the crime.

2.Government agents then persuaded or talked the person into committing the crime. Simply giving someone the opportunity to commit a crime is not the same as persuading them to commit that crime.

3.The person was not ready and willing to commit the crime before interaction with the government agents.

So technically they are not tricking a person into committing a crime, but if they did not put the robo-deer out in the first place the hapless hunter would not have tried to kill it. Now if they were targeting a poaching ring, or someone purposefully going out to poach, I wouldn't have a problem. In fact, I would give them a awesome award for cleverness! However, they are targeting the average Joe who may have never seen a deer this big or just needs some meat for the freezer. He gets excited and makes a bad decision.

And lets not forget the law itself. Why are we so against hunting deer at night? Let me be clear; I've never hunted deer at night, willfully broken a game law, or poached in any capacity. However, with the deer population problems we are having and with the challenges of night hunting why don't we have a limited, managed night deer season? Safety could be an issue, so there would have to be some clear rules regarding weapon choice. Perhaps the hunter would need to wear a glow in the dark vest or something (hey, its not much crazier than wearing blaze orange!)

Here in Virginia it is illegal to shine a light from a vehicle while you have a firearm in you vehicle. This is to make it easier to prosecute poachers. Is it just me or is this a little crazy? In Virginia you can hunt down deer with dogs, but you can't shine a flashlight out of your trucks window. It seems like some of these laws are more political than practical.

Another aspect of this is road hunting. The article states "If somebody gets caught shooting the deer from the road, it ruins their reputation as a hunter." In some areas, like most of the east, this is true. It is unethical and illegal in most states to hunt from a vehicle, or even X amount of yards from a road. There is a good reason for this. Deer are not afraid of cars. Go down any highway in rural America and you will see this by the carnage on the side of the road. However, in some areas it is perfectly acceptable to spot deer from a vehicle, park, and stalk them. This is how we did it where I grew up in Oregon. I can say that there were times when it was very, very tempting to just shoot out the window. Of course, we didn't, but I can sympathise with someone who was having a bad season and did.

Again, should road hunting be illegal? With the deer population out of control I can see a place for making it legal in a few areas where the deer population is endangering the public. Again, there would have to be limitations and safety precautions.

I may be wrong, probably am. Most disagree with me. Many will demonize me for my viewpoint. I may not be fully informed. It is just the way I see it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review - Big Game Magna-Lift

I've been out deer hunting for the last few days. Although I have not taken a shot, I have seen some amazing bucks and been able to try out some of my new gear. Over the next few days I will be do some reviews for a few products that you may like and a couple you may want to avoid. The Big Game Magna-Lift is one that you may like, I know I do!

There are only a few hunting accessories that I call necessary. Items that if I lost today I would replace tomorrow. My GPS, range finder, Thermocell, and crossbow cocking rope (which I lost today in a marsh, grrr...) are on this short list. The Big Game Magna-Lift was added to my must-have list this week.

Basically, the Magna-Lift is a tree stand rope. It is used to bring your gear up to your stand after you have ascended into it. You can find it online for about $15. A tree stand rope is necessary for safety reasons. You should never carry your weapon as you climb your stand. You should tie a rope to it and pull it up after you. The problem with this, and a reason people do not do this, is that tree stand ropes get tangled and caught on brush or limbs. This can be very frustrating, especially in the dark when you are trying to be quiet.

The Magna-Lift solves this problem by automatically retracting the rope inside a housing. This means there is no slack to get tangled or caught on something. You don't have to coil and stow your rope. Once you bring up your weapon you are done. It works flawlessly.

That's about all there is to it. It does one thing very, very well. It can clip to your belt, backpack, or stand frame. It is heaver than just a coil of rope, but the convenience it provides is worth a few ounces. I highly recommend it and will personally be using it from now on.

I purchased the Big Game Magna-Lift with my own money for my own personal use. I have received no compensation at all for writing this review. I do get a very small commission if you purchase one from the links below.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Most Dangerous Part Of Your Hunt

What do you think is the most dangerous part of deer hunting? Most would say the risk of getting shot by another hunter is the most dangerous. Those with a wild imagination may believe the risk of being attacked by a wild animal is the greatest danger. In reality, these dangers are statistically insignificant. It is prudent to protect yourself from getting shot and from being eaten by a bear, but the chances of it happening to you are very, very small.

The two greatest dangers are (1) getting in a automobile accident on your way to hunt and (2) falling from your tree stand. Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do on any given day, so you could say that driving to the store or to church is the most dangerous part of shopping or worshiping. I always think it funny when people don't let their kids go shooting, canoeing, or swimming for fear that they will get hurt. Yet they have no problem driving them to school. Driving to the shooting range is much, much more dangerous than the actual shooting part. However, I'm getting off point.

Falling from your tree stand is the biggest danger a hunter will face in the field. Deer and Deer Hunting did a landmark study that concluded that 33% of hunters will fall from their stands and 3% of those will receive crippling injuries due to a fall. If I'm crunching my numbers right, about 1 in every 100 hunters will be crippled in some way due to a fall from a tree stand.

About 80% of the falls happen while climbing up or down. Most people who fall are over 50 years old.

After doing some further research I found that about 63% of the hunters hurt from falls had alcohol in their blood. Holy crap! People actually drink and hunt!?! Those guys don't get any sympathy from me. If you drink and hunt you deserve to get hurt, just be glad you didn't hurt anyone else!

I also found out that almost all of the hunters injured were not wearing safety harnesses. By doing a personal, informal survey I found that none of the hunters I know wear a safety harness. None. At first this was shocking to me, until I purchased a new climbing stand. With it came a safety harness. The supplied safety harness did not come with instructions and was a tangled mess. I'm not a dumb guy. In fact, figuring out how things work is part of my job and what I am best at. I could not figure out how to put the dumb thing on! I got so frustrated I balled it up and threw it in the trash. I'm getting upset just thinking about it! If the industry wants us to be safe, they need to do a better job at designing inexpensive safety harnesses. I can understand why people don't use them.

After getting tangled in the crappy harness that came with my stand, I went shopping for a good one. Have you tried to buy a safety harness lately? They are ridiculously expensive! You can easily spend $150 on a harness. The medium price is around $100. You can buy a lot of fun stuff for $100. The average hunter is going to buy new camo, arrows, or boots well before he dishes out $100 on a safety harness. This is just a fact of life.

Finally, I found a good inexpensive safety harness. It is the "Big Game Ez-On Basic Safety Harness". You can get it from for about $40.

It is 1,000,000% easier to put on than the piece of crap that came with my stand. I can put it on in less than 30 seconds. It is comfortable to sit in, but not to walk around in. I am 5'6" and 135 pounds. I am the very smallest this harness will fit. It is actually a little big on me. This harness is kind of heavy in my pack, but I guess they all are. It does not feel heavy when I wear it. I feel that it is well worth $40.

Best of all, while using my climbing stand, I feel safe. There is no way I would use a climbing stand without this harness. If you do not have a good harness, buy this one. Your kids and bones will thank you! If you already have a decent harness, use it!

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