Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hunting Tragedy

I'm sure most of you saw the headline: "Vermont Man Kills Himself After Fatally Shooting Friend in Deer Hunting Accident" It is every hunters nightmare.

Basically, three men wounded a deer and were tracking it. There is little information, but one of the men, Mr. Bolognani, either saw or thought he saw the deer and fired. Instead of hitting his intended target he hit his long time friend, Mr. Birch, killing him. Distraught over accidentally killing his friend, Mr. Bolognani shot and killed himself.

None of the news articles I found commented on whether or not they were following game laws, including blaze orange, so I am going to assume they were following all the laws. I think there is no reason to believe that they were doing anything unsafely, this was simply an accident.

Our hobby, hunting, is a very safe one. The chances of you getting hurt while hunting is very low. I think one of the big reasons for this is that everyone involved is well aware of the dangers. The most dangerous times are during the excitement of the hunt. When following running game, trying to flush birds in sight, or when tracking a deer. These are the times when someone gets hurt.

A long time ago I was part of a group of good guys that went camping\hunting\fishing in the blue mountains of Oregon. We went way back into the woods. We traveled two hours on old back logging roads, having to move downed trees, and then hiked a couple miles into a valley. It was an awesome trip! Our quarry was ruffed grouse and they were abundant. My shotgun had been damaged on the hike in, so I was using a Rugger 10/22. Some may say it is unsporting to use a rifle against a bird. I say, for ruffed grouse, it is more challenging. You have to be very quick to shoot them before they flush, and they rarely sit still.

Look at the perfect camo on this guy! 
We were walking along a trail, single file, when off to our left I saw movement in the brush. A quick glance through the scope confirmed that it was a grouse. After the shot I quickly dove into the brush to retrieve my kill. I've had way to many down birds get up and run away to doddle while retrieving them. The brush was thick, I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get through it. I approached the still twitching bird and reached out to grab it when it exploded!

One of the hunters I was with saw the bird, did not realize it was the one I had shot, and shot it. The brush was so thick he did not see me. I was not hurt, but I was shaken. It was a startling reminder of how things can go bad quickly when the cover is thick and a group is pursuing game. That incident has stuck with me through all these years. I am now very, very careful in the brush.

Accidents happen. When high powered rifles or buckshot is involved the accidents can be devastating. I hate that Mr. Bolognani felt so bad for accidentally killing his friend that he felt that killing himself was the only answer. I don't know what I would have done in his situation, but I'm sure that suicide would have at least entered my thoughts.

There is nothing good with this story. No positive spin. Two lives and families were destroyed. The bad press hurts hunters everywhere. How many well meaning, but ill-informed, mothers will not let their sons hunt after reading this? Lets just all take it as a sobering reminder to stay safe out there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review - The Butt Out Tool

A few weeks ago I killed a nice doe. As I was getting ready to field dress it my friend, Pastor Buck, asked "have you ever used the Butt Out tool?" I had not, so he opened his posibilities bag and handed me his. "It makes things a whole lot easier and cleaner" he said.

I highly respect Buck, but was a little dubious. Its funny. I have no problem ripping the guts out of a dead deer, but hesitate to stick something up its butt. Anyway, he walked me through how to use it. Of course, Buck was right. It made field dressing much easier and cleaner.

There is no way to describe how this works without being gross. I'll just quote the manufacturer's web site:

"At the start of the field dressing process, the tool should be inserted to the handle into the deer’s anal cavity, then turn it approximately 1-1/2 turns and use the handle to pull out a 10-inch section of the deer’s intestine, which can then be cut off. Then the rest of the field dressing job can be done quickly."

It really does work quite well. I think that once any hunter uses it, they will never want to field dress a deer the old fashioned way.

The more I hunt, the less gear I find myself bringing out to the woods. Most of the consistently successful hunters I know carry very little gear with them. This tool, however, has earned a permanent, never-leave-in-the-truck spot in my possibilities pouch.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Post - How to: Mock Scrape

David Boggs is 43 years old and has been hunting whitetail deer for many years. He does not profess to be an expert. However, he has had a great deal of success throughout his hunting career.
He would call himself a family man. He and his wife are celebrating 20 years this year (today as a matter of fact). He has a son who is now his hunting partner and has been now for the last couple of years.
David resides in south Texas and hopefully this is where he will continue to hunt. You can visit his blog, which has many more great hunting tips like this one, at

As hunters we know we are always looking to enhance our tactics when it comes to hunting whitetail deer. So, this bit of information should help you elevate your game a little bit. One of the tactics that I use is to set up a mock scrape in advance of the upcoming rut.

With that being said, it requires some time in the field in advance of you trying this tactic. Scouting is the first thing I do. I start out scouting an area and then select my mock scrape site with several factors in mind.

The very first thing that I am looking for are active trails that converge with one another. I look for trails that X or Y. The reason I want this is quite simple. It means I have deer activity in the area.

The next thing I look for is cover not only for me to hide in, but also for the deer to be comfortable in. Young deer a lot of times meander around in the wide-open. However, mature whitetail deer most of the time seek an area that has adequate cover and an easy escape route.

The tools you need
So, with this being said, after some scouting and finding a suitable location, the next thing I will want to take into consideration is how the trails lay in relation to which direction the wind blows and whether or not I can use this area as a set up. No need to go through all the trouble if it won’t work out. By the way, I do sometimes pick an area that is only suitable for a north wind. The rational behind this is our rut is typically real late in December where I hunt so a north wind is not unusual during this time of year. If it works out and I have suitable cover for me to hide in during a north or south wind then great for me. But remember respect the deer for their nose. If you do this you will be more successful.

Find a tree
Now to the real business at hand: how to make a mock scrape. After all the aforementioned scouting and trail selection this is the easy stuff. Find a suitable scrape kit. I use several products, but I start with the “Hot-Scrape” by wild life research center. Then as the rut starts to approach I start adding other scents to the scrape; Doe urine, Buck urine, then when I think it is going to happen (the rut) Doe in estrous. Only use the estrous scent when it is viable. If not, you defeat the purpose of the scrape.

Shape the scrape
Finally, after you have gotten all of your stuff together go make a scrape. It is easy. Take a small garden rake go out to that trail find a small tree with low hanging limbs. For me I like the limbs about eye level (this is for the deer to lick and rub their face on).

Activate the scrape
Take your rake and scrape a V shape area clean of debris, I keep this area about the size of a large plate and it is directly under the limbs the deer will rub their face on. Take your scrape conditioner and liberally apply it to the area that you have cleaned then take the scrape activator and apply a liberal amount to the scraped area. I will then leave the area alone for a while, at least a week, then I will return and add a small amount of doe urine (NOT ESTROUS). After all of this, monitor your scrape activity via a trail camera. I usually make at least 3 mock scrapes sometimes more depending on the trail activity I can scout up prior to the rut. Also, my peak time to scout is the middle of the day. The rational behind this is so I don’t push deer out of their normal routine. Good luck and I hope this works for you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Venison Tacos - A Simple Family Meal

I'm always looking for easy family meals. Meals that are easy to make, cost little, and everyone likes. Furthermore, I am always looking for that magic meal that I can incorporate wild game into. Venison Tacos fit the bill. They are easy, yummy, and especially cheap with venison.

We usually just use whatever we have in the pantry. We keep most of the core fixings on hand. You need:
  • Hard or soft taco shells
  • Ground Venison (see here for instructions on making this)
  • Cheese
  • Taco seasoning
You also need some extras. These can include:
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Salsa
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Fried Egg
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado
The list can go on and on, use your imagination!

The important part is the meat. I like to use a mixture of half beef and half venison. Cooking it is easy. Simply brown the meat and mix in the taco seasoning. I think the venison makes the meat taste even better than straight beef.

 After you cook the meat, everyone can build their own taco however they want. It is truly a crowd pleaser!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Caldwell Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt

I received the following email from my friend, Albert Kittredge. I found it inspiring and, with his permission, wanted to share it with all of you. Have a great Thanksgiving!

This past week I spent some time with some real fine people. We were not only in the company of many of our nation's Wounded Warriors but found ourselves surrounded by some of the best "salt of the earth" citizens that America has to offer. The Caldwell Hunting Club and The Caldwell Community have been hosting a Handicap / Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt for the past several years and I'm proud to say that for the past three years they have asked me to help coordinate with Ft Bragg and Camp Lejeune for hunters. This year we took 20 to the hunt.

First order of business was collecting everyone at the Caldwell Community Center at 1:00 pm on November 17th and having everyone sign in.

Welcome by Earl Brown of the Caldwell Community and introduction to many of the landowners and guides who we would be working with for the next two days.

Rules of conduct for the hunt, safety briefing and general administration so that everyone is on the same sheet of music. We were then paired up with our landowner / guides and led to various quadrants of this vast farming community for posting on fixed stands.

Most stands overlooked fields which had recently been growing corn, soybeans or wheat. Many had been over seeded with rye after the primary crop was harvested. Some, but not many, were located in the hardwoods where an abundant acorn crop had recently fallen.

Once all shooting light was gone our guides came back to pick up the hunters and any deer harvested. This yearling buck was just one of many harvested the first evening.  Mike Davis, a Vietnam Vet and the founder of Vietnam Combat Veterans, Ltd. (VET-NET) acted as scribe or administrative assistant for the hunt. This freed up leaders from the Caldwell Hunt Club so that we could react to little glitches whenever they occurred.

All deer had to be registered with the NCWRC prior to going to the skinning pole. Thankfully this can be done via telephone.

This 13 year old and her Wounded Warrior dad are justifiably proud of the buck she shot on the first evening hunt.  I was told it was well over 150 yards away so this little girl can shoot.  She continued out there like a real trooper for the next two days. I am sure she has a lot of stories to tell her classmates when she returns to school.

The Caldwell Hunting Club had a skinning crew who took over once the deer was assigned a check in number.  These folks had the skinning down pat and it did not take long to strip off the choice cuts of boneless meat which quickly went into coolers and then covered with ice.

Blessing  before each meal. Pledge allegiance to the flag and singing of "Star Spangled Banner" first evening by local vocalist. These folks act and live the way some of us old timers remember from our youth. Maybe there is hope yet!

 All meals were provided during the hunt. Meals came courtesy of the local FFA (Future Farmers of America) with tons of delicious deserts prepared by wives and mothers in the community. We were housed in the Hillsborough Microtel Motel (yes we were spoiled). 

Several nice bucks taken during the hunt.  This recently retired Wounded Warrior shot the bigger twin to this one the next day. (Some guys have all the luck)

First deer for this 17 year old son of a Wounded Warrior who proudly displays streaks of blood on his cheeks as a rite of passage.  (Landowner / Guide on left)

We were not the only hunters in the woods. This coyote fell to the sharp eye and straight shooting of one of our landowner / guides.

Another nice buck - this one shot by the Wounded Warrior on the right but his buddy on the left was handy to help retrieve it. You can tell by the smiles they both have forgotten all about their next round of medical appointments.

This husband / wife team, both Wounded Warriors, shot doubles on the last morning.

Roaring fire at the skinning shed. Lots of folks working behind the scenes to make the event a success.

It don't get much better then this. We were surrounded with great people, no one got hurt and we all made some memories. We shot a total of 26 deer with a good number of them being respectable bucks. I am sure I speak for the Ft Bragg and Camp Lejeune participants when I say "THANK YOU to the Caldwell Hunting Club and the entire Caldwell Community. You made us feel special. It is events like this that go a long way towards making us feel we are appreciated and for those of us with ongoing medical issues you have helped us gain a sense of normality again".  

 (Majority of photos courtesy of Stephanie's Creative Photography - more photos at )

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Grind Venison

Grinding  your venison scraps is a great way to get the most meat out of your deer. Not only does it allow you to waste very little, it tastes amazing. When I decided I wanted to grind my own burger I was a little intimidated. However, I soon realized that it is amazingly easy. Grinding meat is almost as easy as pouring a bowl of cereal (only much messier)!

These instructions will work for just about any type of meat, not just venison. Try grinding your own hamburger from a cheap steak. You will be amazed at how much better the fresh ground stuff tastes!

The first thing you need it a grinder. You don't need an expensive electric grinder, although those are nice! All you need is an inexpensive hand crank grinder. I use the "Norpro Meat Grinder, Mincer, and Pasta Maker". It only cost me $25 and is perfect for batches of less than ten pounds.

Next you need to trim most of the fat and silver skin from your venison. You can leave some on, but venison fat can have a bad flavor, so I try to get as much off as possible.

You can't put huge chunks of meat through your grinder unless you have one of those big expensive models. Cube your meat, or, better yet, cut it into strips. This will help it feed through your grinder.

Most meat grinders have a couple different grinder plates with different sized holes. These holes determine how fine the meat is ground. I prefer my venison to be ground fine, so I choose to use a plate with small holes. This is totally your personal preference.

Now all you do is turn the crank on your grinder while stuffing the meat into its hopper. Catch your ground venison in a bowl and you are done!

......Unless you plan on making hamburger patties. Most wild game does not have enough fat to keep patties from falling apart. You need to add fat to the meat to act as a yummy glue. You can use beef suet if you can find it. I just use really, really cheap bacon. Bacon that is mostly fat. This is amazingly good tasting. I like to add fat at a 10:1 ratio. Ten parts venison to one part fat. For the math challenged: for every five pounds of venison add half a pound of fat.  Just mix it in real good with your hands and then form into patties.

I highly recommend you wear gloves as this is a very messy project. It is well worth the effort though, you will truly be amazed at how good fresh ground meat tastes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review - Buck 110 Folding Hunter

Last year one of my life long friends, Pastor Gibb Hale, dropped by where I work and handed me a Buck 110. This was a little surprising to me because he lives almost 1000 miles away and I work a school. Large hunting knifes are not commonly exchanged at schools these days! He had heard that I was getting back into hunting and wanted to give me this knife. He told me that it was the best knife he has ever owned and was THE perfect hunting knife.

Pastor Hale is an avid and very successful hunter. He was my dad's roommate in college, so I have known him all my life. I wasn't sure if the Buck 110 is the best knife in the world, but I trusted him that it was good. I also figured it might bring me some good Juju, coming from such an old friend. Yes, I find myself caught up in the superstition of hunting. My head says it is dumb, but I just can't help myself from always looking for "lucky" pieces of gear to carry.

The Buck 110 is possibly the most boring knife ever. It is a folder (boring), cannot be opened with one hand (boring), has your typical wood and brass handle (boring), and does not have a belt clip (boring). The well made leather sheath it came with is black and unobtrusive. This knife was made for work, not to look cool.

It comes razor sharp with a nice pointy tip. The 110 is hefty, but not heavy. There is no play in the action or the lock.

Ok..... This review of a very boring knife is boring me to write. It must be very painful to read. Lets skip to the exciting part. I can tell you everything you need to know in one statement:

I gutted, skinned, and butchered a deer with this knife without having to resharpen it. When I was done it could still shave hair off my arm.

That's all you need to know. Any knife that can do that is worth buying at any price. A $40 knife that can do that is a no-brainer. I think it is totally reasonable to say that the Buck 110 is the perfect hunting knife.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Bacon-Wrapped Venison Tenderloin

If you have been reading my blog you know that I recently killed a nice doe. It was my first deer kill in many years. The first thing I did when I got home was remove its tenderloins and put them in the fridge. Just looking at them made my mouth water!

The next evening I cooked them. Boy were they good! The recipe I chose is called " Sweet Bacon-Wrapped Venison Tenderloin" It is easy and perfect for a fall meal. I found the recipe here. While I made a couple minor changes, they deserve all of the credit!

Here is how I made it:

Mix 1 cup of soy sauce and 1 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a medium sized bowl.

Marinade the venison tenderloins for three hours in the refrigerator. Make sure the marinade is touching every surface of the tenderloins. Do not throw away the marinade when done.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Wrap the tenderloins in 1/2 pound of bacon. Use toothpicks to keep the bacon on. The bacon is not used for flavoring as much as it is used to keep the tenderloins from drying out. (Although the bacon is very yummy when its all said and done!)

Place the bacon wrapped tenderloins on a rack over a drip pan. I highly recomend lining the drip pan with foil.

Pour the rest of the marinade over the tenderloins.

Cook for 30 Minutes.

They are best if cooked about medium rare, although I did cook one of them medium for the woman. It was still good.

Preheat your grill.

Place the bacon wrapped tenderloins on the grill for just a few minutes. All you want to do is crisp the bacon, not cook the venison much. It is easy to ruin them here as you will experience flair ups due to the bacon fat.

Slice and serve!

These were a BIG hit. There was not a scrap left over. Even the 1 year old ate her fill!

We ate them with baked apples and butternut squash. Sweet potatoes, acorn squash, or pumpkin would also fit right in with this fall feast!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Great Outdoor Weekend - After The Shot

What happened after Day 3 of my wonderful three day, hunting and fishing weekend! You can read about day 1 hereday 2 here, and day 3 here. In case you have not been following my story, I took a three day weekend to hunt and fish around Martinsville, Va. I hunted on Saturday and Monday. On Sunday I fly fished the Smith River. My in-laws live in Martinsville, so it was a cheap, easy trip.

Just to review, my last post left off with me killing a doe that had its hind foot caught in a barbed wire fence. It is an amazing account. My hunting partner, Pastor Buck met me at the kill site. We had to cut off the deer's foot to free it from the fence. By the time we had accomplished this, night had fallen.

Thank God for friends and headlamps! Without either I would have really struggled to get this deer out of the woods. Pastor Buck graciously carried my climbing stand back to the truck as I began to drag the deer out. Buck recommended that we drag the deer to a low area near the truck to gut it. He was afraid that, while I did nothing wrong, the land owner of the adjacent property may come over to question us, as were were right on the property line and the deer's foot was still stuck in the fence. Fortunately, the fence was not damaged in any way.

I always use a safety harness when I use my tree stand. One of the fringe benefits of this is that my safety harness has a built in deer drag. You wear the harness like normal and loop a strap that is attached to the back around the deer's neck. Even though it was mostly up hill, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to drag out. Buck came back when I was about half way to the truck. With two people it was quite easy. The 400 yards up hill, through the woods back to the truck was not bad at all.

It had been 17 years since I field dressed a deer. I'm so glad Buck was there to talk me through it! He had a Butt-Out tool. That, coupled with my gut hook and razor sharp Buck 110 folding knife made gutting the deer super easy. After just a few minutes I was done and the deer was in the back of the truck.

I had to be at work at 6:00 AM the next morning and I live four hours away from Martinsville, so I left immediately to go home. We quickly transferred the deer from Bucks truck to my truck. I have a 125 quart cooler. To both of our amazement, the large doe I killed fit in it with no problems. I was even able to fit two 20 pound bags of ice in with it! I am a real stickler about keeping my kills cool, so this made me very happy. The deer was on ice within an hour of killing it.

It is hanging way to close to the wall
I got home at 11:30. I was riding an emotional high and was hopped up on caffeine, so I decided to go ahead and skin it before I went to bed. I ran into a little problem with this. I had made a skinning station in my shed with a pulley system attached to a ceiling beam. The problem was that I placed the pulley too close to the wall. I could not freely spin the deer around. The skin came off easier than I expected, but I am going to move the pulley out so it is less frustrating next time.

Makes me hungry every time I look at it
Here is a little tip that will help your marriage: Don't let your wife's white toy poodle in with you while you skin a deer. A dog is a dog, white poodle or not. Dogs are attracted to yummy blood. My wife's white poodle was a red poodle before I noticed what was happening.

I placed the skinned carcass back in the cooler and took a long shower. I looked like something out of a low budget horror film and my poodle looked worse. I got to bed at 1:30.

After work the next day I butchered the deer using the book "Gut it. Cut it. Cook it." as a guide. We like roasts, so that is what I mostly made. All of the scraps will be ground. I vacuum packaged each roast individually. It took three hours, but was a lot of fun. Very little was wasted due to my inexperience, which made me very pleased. I figure we will get about 30 meals out of this deer.

Deboned, cut into roasts, ready to be vacum packed!

There was a lot of work after shooting the deer, but it was a lot of fun and much easier than I expected. I went to bed the evening after I killed the deer exhausted but very satisfied.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Outdoor Weekend - Day 3

Authors note: I normally never include references to spirituality and God in this blog. I feel that sometimes outdoor bloggers can get off subject and ostracize their audience with religious and political references. I don't want to be that way. However, it pertains to the following story. If you don't believe in God or do not believe in the Christian God, please ignore these references and enjoy this amazing account. If you do believe in the God of the Bible I think you will enjoy it even more!

 –This is my submission for the Sportsman Channel Writing Contest for Hunters hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.

Day 3 of my wonderful three day, hunting and fishing weekend! You can read about day 1 here and day 2 here. In case you have not been following my story, I took a three day weekend to hunt and fish around Martinsville, Va. I hunted on Saturday and Monday. On Sunday I fly fished the Smith River. My in-laws live in Martinsville, so it was a cheap, easy trip.

When I woke up early Monday morning I was expecting a pleasant day in my tree stand and some fine fellowship with my friend, Pastor Buck. I was not expecting to witness an event that I will remember forever or learn a profound lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

The Saturday before I had made a well placed shot at a doe, found good blood and lung tissue, but was unable to recover it. The blood trail just ended. As any hunter knows, this is very discouraging. All Sunday I replayed every moment in my mind, trying to figure out what went wrong. I came up with no answer. Sunday, between fly fishing the Smith River in the morning and evening, I attended church at Pastor Buck's church. He spoke on how that there is nothing a Christian can do to make God love them more than He already does.

Monday morning was a bust for both of us. I saw nothing and Buck let a doe pass by, hoping a buck would follow. When we broke for lunch he expressed regret for that decision. Over lunch we began to discuss his Sunday sermon. I brought up the question "Does God reward us for our good deeds or does he simply keep bad things that normally would happen to us from happening?" We discussed this for a while, but never came to a definitive conclusion.

After lunch we decided to change things up a bit. Buck told me of a large stand of Oaks near the property line that lead into a field of cut grass. Sounded perfect to me! Deer should move out of the thicket to feed in the evening. I set my stand about 150 yards from a barbed wire fence, which was the property line. I could see down into the bottom of a small ravine as well as the field line and a line of thick pine saplings. It was a textbook perfect stand.

About 15 minutes before sunset I heard a shot close by and soon learned by text that Buck had shot a small buck. I asked if he needed help, which he declined. I couldn't help but wonder if Buck shot a deer and I didn't because he was a better person than I (which he is) or if it is simply because he is a better hunter than I (which he is). In my mind I came to the conclusion that God probably doesn't work that way and that Buck was simply a better hunter.

The very moment I came to that conclusion I noticed a large doe walking the fence line. It was past sunset by now and I could not tell which side of the fence it was on. I turned my Nikon scope to 7X and observed the deer. Those Nikon Prostaff scopes are amazing. It made dusk look like noon. I could observe the deer clearly. It was on my side of the fence, but at least 150 yards away, out of range for my skill level with a muzzle loader, and on the property line. I had no intention of shooting at it.

As I watched it through my scope I saw it jump over the fence. It was then that the most amazing thing happened. Its hind leg got caught in the barbed wire! I heard it grunt in pain and saw it struggle wildly. It settled down, but at this point only its rump was visible. The hind leg was clearly broken.

I didn't know what to do. It's vitals were not visible, but I knew I had to attempt to put the deer out of its misery. It was getting dark fast, should I get down out of my stand and position myself for a shot or wait until the deer moved? The deer made the decision for me. It began struggling wildly again, actually launching itself back over the fence, giving me a clear view of its vitals. I took the long shot from my stand. The deer immediately stopped moving.

I climbed out of my stand in record time, reloaded and trotted to the deer with only my gun. At about 70 yards the deer began struggling again. Unsurprisingly, my first shot had missed. I was genuinely afraid that it would free itself, only to die a long agonizing death due to its injury. So, I took another shot at it. This time I had a very clear view of its vitals, but it was struggling around. Not an ideal shot, but I felt that time was running out.

After this shot I realized that my speed loaders we back at the tree. I ran back, reloaded, grabbed my possibilities pouch and ran back to the deer. As I approached all was still. That is, until I got to within about 20 yards. It began to struggle slightly and then sat still with its head up. It knew it was over. I rested my rifle against a tree and placed a bullet an inch behind its eye.

As I approached all I could think of was how the Bible teaches that God caused a ram to be stuck in a thicket for Abraham when he needed it. God did this because Abraham obeyed God's instructions. I was overwhelmed, not because I had finally killed a deer after a 17 year dry period, but because it was obvious to me that God gave me the deer. Killing this deer had nothing to do with my marksmanship or hunting skills. In fact I killed it in spite of my poor marksmanship and hunting skills! God used this deer to teach me a very tangible lesson that He does reward those who diligently seek Him!

I texted Buck to come over, he had to see this! He was as dumbfounded and amazed as I was. Neither of us had ever heard of a deer getting caught like this before. We could not get the leg loose and ended up having to cut off the deer's foot. If you look closely at the above picture you can see that it's hoof had a strange burr on it. When it jumped over the fence its hind foot flew back and caught the lower wire much like a fishing hook. Had it not struggled so wildly it probably could have released itself. However, it managed to wrap the top wire around its foot while struggling.

I will never forget this hunt. It was the most exciting and strange outdoor experience I have ever had!

Stay tuned for what happened after the shot and for the very first meal this deer provided for my family!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Great Outdoor Weekend - Day 2

Day 2 of my wonderful three day, hunting and fishing weekend! You can read about day 1 here. In case you have not been following my story, I took a three day weekend to hunt and fish around Martinsville, Va. I hunted on Saturday and Monday. On Sunday I fly fished the Smith River. My in-laws live in Martinsville, so it was a cheap, easy trip.

I was as excited about fly fishing the Smith River as I was about deer hunting. The Smith River is one of Virginia's premier trout rivers. It is about 20 miles long and contains a great population of native brown trout. I've read that some of these brown trout are trophy size, approaching ten pounds. They also stock rainbow trout a few times a year.

Since I only had one day to fish and was not familiar with the river, I contacted the local Trout Unlimited Chapter for some information. Boy are those guys nice! They provided me with some great information regarding what fly's to use and where to go. One of the men even sent me some maps with river access points marked. I was amazed at how friendly they were!

Using the Information they gave me and Google maps I chose what looked like a good spot for me. Although, I knew it wouldn't matter a whole lot. I haven't fly fished in about fifteen years. I knew that most of my day would be spent relearning how to get the fly where I wanted. I did purchase a nice pair of neoprene waders and was looking forward to trying them out for the first time.

Disaster struck my fishing trip the moment I left my in-laws house early Sunday morning. By habit I locked the door behind me, locking my waders inside. I don't have a key to their house. It was very early (for my in-laws). I knew that they would not be up for another three hours or more. Plus, my Mother-in-law was recovering from surgery. This coupled with the desire to be a good guest and the fear that they would hate me forever kept me from ringing to door bell.

The PhilPott Dam

I knew my morning fishing was going to be a bust. As I kicked myself for not bringing my spinning gear, I made my way to the river. I could at least scout out good places for the afternoon. I followed the river all the way up to the dam. Learning a little about the lay of the land.

I quickly realized that when they say the Smith River is "clean and clear" they mean "clean and clear for a southern river." By its description on the web I was expecting something that you may see out west. You know, pristine, unpolluted, crystal clear water. This simply is not the case. There is a surprising amount of trash in and around the river. I lost count of the tires and car parts on the bottom. I even saw an old carousel horse. The banks were like a dump, literally. I saw multiple oil slicks where it was seeping into the river from the soil. It made me admire and feel sorry for the Smith River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. They really have an uphill battle! You can tell that the population that lives around the river does not care about it. I will say the farther up you go, the better it gets. Just below the dam is absolutely beautiful!

Below the dam a great herring out fishes me.

After church and Sunday meal, I went back out. Fully prepared with waders and a spot picked out. I really enjoyed wading in the river. It was COLD, but my neoprene waders kept me warm. It took me about an hour the get back into the groove of fly fishing. By groove, I mean that I was not getting my line tangled every cast. I was still flogging the water like a baby in a bath tub. I didn't catch anything. I'm sure it was due to my poor technique. Other fishermen did quite well that day.

Right before I dropped my camera. Notice the trash on the bank.
I did manage to drop my camera in the river. My new camera. The one I bought to replace the one that broke last week. When I got back to my in-laws I completely took it apart and got every speck of moisture out. It works fine now.

Over all it was a good day. Next time I visit I am bringing my spinning gear and am going after one of those big boys!

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