Monday, November 29, 2010

Some of My Favorite Things

    I often get asked why I hunt.  How can you kill Bambi?  Aren't ducks so cute? Why do you wear so much camo?  How can you get up that early... on a weekend?

           Answers generally vary.
                    How? For conservation.  Because there is no better feeling in the world than shooting a gun. The deer I harvest go to good use rather than being turned into a venison smoothie by an 18 wheeler. Bambi was a movie and has no basis in reality.  Have you ever heard a deer talk? No?
                  Yes, ducks are cute.  But they taste even better.
               Why? Is that even a question? Camo is awesome; it goes with everything and if I wear it all the time, I'm always ready to hunt.
                     How? Well, dear, delusional friend, getting up early, staying out late, losing sleep and becoming a recluse from society for months on end each affords me a unique perspective that not many are blessed to see.

   Once I answer, I'm generally met with a vague stare.  If I could effectively answer this question maybe my interrogator would finally understand why I adore my time in the woods so much....

I hunt because...

  there are stunning sunsets which make the entire, unfruitful day worth every second,

there are colors so vibrant that make you wonder why God painted them on the wings of elusive waterfowl,

there are mornings so cold that a sunflower heater for one turns into a community heat immersion system,

it creates bonds that last a lifetime,

there is no clearer, quieter surrounding than a half hour before sunrise, 

and there are moments that take your breath away. 

   Yes my friends, there is so much beauty to be had in the world that is lost by those who are too busy to notice.  Hunting allows me to feel nature in its most ancient and real form. Absent from the hustle and bustle of the modern age with the cell phones, TV's, addiction to celebrities, and all the other junk that clutters life; hunting purges its minions of all confining things. 

I feel most alive when I hunt.     

 Maybe that will be my new answer. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Quagmire: Week One

A Quagmire of Thoughts From a Tree Stand

Hey Blogging World!
As previously posted, I'm starting this little rant, rave, review and random weekly compilation of the outdoor world.  As this is my first go, I have a lot of my own input, a little from various of my goose pit compatriots, and a great review of a coffee place from one of my best blogging reviewers.  

Rant of a disgruntled Huntress:

I've written previously about hating Irony and how this year has been so different from the last.  As luck would have it, I actually shot a deer exactly one year to the date from my last kill.  The bow shot was about 30 yards away.  I shot, it hit, she ran.  And ran. And ran.  We tracked her for 2 hours in the rain.  The blood trail was lost and Thanksgiving dinner needed to be made.  Least to say, this huntress has sore legs and an even more over-worked conscience.

Newest Inductee to the "That's Not Country" Hall of Shame: 
                      Congratulations go to.... 
             Gwyneth Paltrow 
                           I watch GAC with the same religiousness as when I was in 8th grade and watched Saved By the Bell every morning before school.  Generally, I like what I see.  GAC is really good at mixing new songs with old classics.  However, I was pretty horrified when I saw the Academy Award winning actress appearing on the screen, attempting to belt out a song entitled "Country Strong".  I'm still trying to figure out why the name of the song is the exact replica of Blake Shelton's rockin ballad.  I get that she's promoting her movie and wants to embody her character but it completely does not resonate a feeling of true country music.  Tisk, Tisk Gwyneth.  Do us a favor, stick with starring in movies and making more money in a month than I do in three years rather than trying to infiltrate this classic genre. 

Quote of the Week:

"I watched Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's duet
and I cried and got a hard-on at the same time"

-Goose Pit member who wishes to remain nameless

Outdoor Reader Coffee Place Review
(The first one- Yayyyyyy!)
Name: Albert A. Rasch
Blog: The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

    I was the second person to find Hunt Like You're Hungry. It's not often that a young and attractive woman bowhunts, shoots black powder, and then writes about it. I think many of us (Particularly us men.) still tend to think of girls that hunt as a novelty, but as they are the largest growing group of hunters, it behooves us to recognize their contribution to the sport. Therefore in recognition of her accomplishments to the sport, I immediately included her in her own TROC Rodeo knowing full and well that my friends would high tail it over there and say howdy.

I suggested to HLYH that I would like to see a series on Hunt Like You’re Hungry, something uniquely hers.  So when she asked about a favorite post hunting or fishing spot, where you might kick back and relax after a hard day's hunt or day on the water, I was pleased to participate.

There is a particular spot that I tend to frequent, and not because they are friendly and cheerful to me, which invariably, they are, but because the unwitting audience never ceases to entertain!

There's a Starbucks in my neck of the suburban woods, where they all know my name. They know the Mrs, and the kid's names too. They know me so well, that they keep a picture of me posted on the wall for all to see. They're actually very military friendly, and since I come to see them the moment I get into town, they make me feel like I'm family. When I am home, we go there on our way out to the flats, and when I was hog hunting regularly, I used to stop by afterwards.

Having said that, not everyone in sunny suburban Florida is as open and forthcoming as my friends at SBs are. Though this isn't quite what HLYH had in mind, I think it fits in anyway.

Imagune my surprise when the youth of Lakewood Ranch failed to acknowledge my masterful presence when I walked into my coffee shop after I don't know how many hours (Days?) of traveling back from the Afghan wastelands.

It was Friday night and the place was mobbed by teenage prowling like spike bucks, underage girls that looked anything but, and tweens too young to be there in the first place. The place reeked of teenage testosterone, musk perfumes, and coffee.

My trigger finger twitched subconsciously.

After being shoved, pushed, or bumped into one too many times, I let loose.

The scrawny teenaged punk that shoved into me was wearing hip hugging, low ride jeans that would have been better put to use on a long legged model of dubious moral turpitude. He was wearing enough earrings in all the wrong places, that I idly wondered how he would ever make it through the Homeland Security's screening process at the airports. He smelled of cheap perfume, or maybe cologne and his altogether too short T-shirt sported numerous tears and holes that didn't come from honest use.

After several months of sucking dust and ducking Iranian made107 rockets, I wasn't in the mood to tolerate lifestyle differences, or the extravagance of youth. All I wanted was a hot Grande-Breve-No-Foam-Latte, with six Sugars in the Raw. Seriously is that too much to ask for? I quiet moment of respite, enjoying my coffee, that's all I wanted.

I grabbed a fistful of T-shirt, kicked his leg out from under him, and yanked flat ass off his Sketcher clad feet. His friends froze in place as he upended, his stick like legs akimbo.

The Mrs nonchalantly stepped to one side.

In my best imitation of a pissed off Drill Sergeant I bellowed:


He was trying to get his feet under him again, but I kept yanking him from one side to the other.


The manager sticks her head out of the office, sees that it's me, cheerfully waves and says, "Hi Mr Rasch! How nice to see you again!"

I wave back with my free hand.

I turn back to the rest of the now very quiet mob of kids. Quietly, in the most menacing tone I can come up with I say, "You're lucky I'm feeling generous tonight. You and your friends get your dog smelling asses out of here and don't come back until I'm gone." I unceremoniously drop him on his bony rear end. He scrambled back like a flipped over crab, getting away from me as quickly as his uncoordinated and gangly appendages could move.

The shop was eerily quiet; the only sounds were that of coffee being made, and jazz playing over the speakers.

The mob of kids made their way out the door hastily.

"You happy now?" Asked the Mrs.

"I am." A smug look planted itself across my face, "I am, quite happy indeed!"

I was about to place my order when two steaming Grande-Breve-No-Foam-Lattes appeared on the counter.

I look up at the smiling faces of my Baristas.

"Welcome home Mr Rasch! We are so happy to have you back!"

 A great welcome to The Quagmire, nothing says "Welcome Home" and "I love the outdoors" than showing some punk kids who's boss.  Thank you, Mr. Rasch for your contribution to my little project! And a bigger thank you for all you do to serve our great nation! 

Redneck Christmas:

Our beautifully shotgun lit tree
Thanksgiving is over so now all attention swivels towards that fantastic time of year that Rednecks' aversion to all things gaudy really gets to shine.   The next few installments will show how one can really embrace their redneck side in order to fully express their Christmas joy. This little idea comes from our own Christmas tree.  Sauntering around Bass Pro, we noticed lights that had shotgun shells with Christmas lights within them. Awesome idea we figured, of course until we saw they were running $20 a strand. Little expensive for us, but we ended up doing it ourselves. Buying cheap strings of lights from Walmart, we took our shotguns and some appropriate colored shells to the land we hunt. If you want to do the same at home, take the shell casing and bend one side down, insert the light and you're done!  Combining Christmas decorating with shooting has never been so fun! Ted Nugent would defiantly approve!

There it is, folks! 
Like what you see? Have a review on a great place to eat after hunting or a place you just love to go to obtain necessary outdoor implements? Share it and you'll be featured on future Quagmire editions! 
Check Out The Quagmire page for rules, ideas and where to send your submission! 

Have a great week, y'all! 

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Repeating History

   First of all,  Happy Turkey Eating Day to All! 
I hope that you share it with friends, family, and good food! 

Secondly, it looks like I'll be hunting tomorrow morning.  
I'm not sure how to feel about it. 
If history repeats itself, then I'll be happy and get some good duck kills.
On the other hand, it is a little weird to be so far away from the person I was a year ago.

In the last year, I harvested my first deer, 

had my heart broken,
became a stronger person,  
took control of my own life,  
taught at a school for delinquents and forgottens,
 fell deeper in love with hunting
started shooting bow,
climbed pyramids in Egypt
fell in love

felt truly loved in return for the first time,
got thrown in a creek,  
embarked on a new adventure,
moved 730 miles from home, 
gained a family,  
missed my Mom
adopted a puppy,
danced at a concert,
started a new job
ate fatback,

learned to live,
drank too much German beer at Oktoberfest,
kissed a boy under the Eiffel tower in Paris
ate the best breakfast of my life in Amsterdam,
gained the know-how to forgive,

and began writing again.

It has been one whirlwind of a year.  
Makes me think what the big man upstairs has in store for me next year.... 

Again, Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Be blessed with those who surround, love, or miss you. 

(Love you, Momma)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Dogs Will Teach Me Everything I Need to Know about Life.

  Pet ownership is bittersweet.  The canine species are a source of comfort, protection and sometimes create bonds closer than anything individuals ever experience in a lifetime.  Dogs can illustrate what it means to be totally, loyally selfless.  But they can also bring a person down to their lowest point.  There are highs and there are lows to owning dogs; both facets I was fortunate enough to experience this weekend.

There are Highs...

  For all of you who have just joined my venture or need a reminder, I have three dogs.  Two who were joined when DU and I got together, the third the product of our union.  That sounds bad but yes, Avery came about because we wandered into a humane society and there she was.  She suffered from parvo early in her young existence and was taken in by a foster family after her entire litter was abandoned in a cardboard box on the side of a road.   Enough to break any cold heart, we couldn't say no and brought her home to Titus and Oscar

   Months later, she seemed ready to start getting the feel of real duck hunting.  Just as a penguin knows to waddle back to its birthplace to continue its lineage, Avery's retrieval instincts have been keen.  She waded into water at 14 weeks and came back to drop a beanie baby-esque duck at my feet.  Now, she prowls the land next to our house for the dead waterfowl trainers I chuck deep into the thick jungle grass.

  We loaded up the boat late in the afternoon yesterday after another slept-in morning kept us from the hunt.  It was unseasonably warm and a seemingly perfect day to bring the greenhorn retriever out to the river.  Avery, already tired from a morning full of extremely loud guns, slept the entire way there.    Once at the river, we dismounted and threw our small, black puppy into the boat.  We donned our waders and DU drove away as I walked beside the boat.  A bewildered creature if I ever saw one, Avery looked like she was the star of a Thanksgiving Day Parade float that had continue to drive, not realizing she was still in the back. 

   Avery merrily rode in the boat alone and equally enjoyed the boat ride to where we were going to set up.  DU's new-to-us mud motor is an angry hornet flying on the water that makes a ton of noise.  Had Titus or Oscar been in the boat, they would have been reduced to a puddle of neurotic canine goo in about 10 seconds.  Avery couldn't care less while lifting her head high, deeply immersing her olfactory glands in the new scents never experienced.

  We were quick to set up once we arrived to the spot, as the sun was setting quickly.   Avery seemed interested enough in getting in, of course until we gently allowed her to drop into the freezing liquid.  She looked at us like she did something wrong, that or she intensely hated us and wished she possessed the ability to set us on fire with her mind.  Either way, she was none to pleased.  Refusing to follow DU nor I in setting up the decoy spreads, we threw Avery back in the boat to shiver by herself.   Once all was set up, we settled into the blind.  Our little companion was still shivering (and I was a neglectful mother by forgetting her towel) so I thew DU's hoodie over her.  Soon, she was happily snoring away while our guns rang. 

    The hunt ended with no ducks to show for it.  While cleaning up our spread, I waded 30 yards away from the boat to gather our multiple decoys.  In the distance, I heard DU laugh.  Turning around, I noticed Avery's big girl form rising out of the boat distinctly growling as squirrels played on the river bank.  As if saying, " I got your back, Momma.  You might not be next to me but I'm still lookin out for you." 

  Finally cleaned up, we started back to the dock.  Avery leaned against me, giving into the narcoleptic rhythm of the waves.  I held her up,  not minding to return the favor.

  There are lows....

   Today was another unseasonably warm day and I shirked off the notion to throw myself in the stand during another hot day where nothing would move.  Instead, DU and I decided to take the trio on a family day trip to the land we hunt.

   Simply saying the words, "Wanna go on a car ride?" brings the three into a euphoric uproar so infectious that they are barely unable to calm down the entire ride to wherever we are going.  I could almost infiltrate their minds as they cataloged all the places we've gone in the car as they attempted to figure out our destination.  Delusional Oscar probably figured we were going to a magical cheese land.   Titus was possibly a tad scared that we were going to repeat the past by taking another 14 hour car ride back to New York.  Avery was skeptically thinking that we were bringing her back to the cold river.

   They torpedoed out of the truck once we pulled the doors open upon arrival.  Running full speed in every direction, it was hard to discern one dog from another.  Oscar and Titus continually ran through the gunky shallow water as a our retriever who is supposed to simply adore water looked on.

  Playing "Who Can Run Faster" soon turned into "Everyone Chase Titus" and finally ended with 'Who can drink the most disgusting water?".  Although I couldn't tell who won any of these games, it was clear they were having a blast. 

   I  stared walking around the small pond and DU followed.  The dogs dipped and dove out of view but always stayed within calling range.  That is until something must have caught their eyes.   As we rounded the bend, we assumed three dogs would heed our calls; there was only one.

   Avery sat and eagerly looked to the place where her brothers should have been.  A knot formed in my stomach and tears began forming behind my eyes.  Call after call went unanswered.  A silent forest mocked us as I questioned the whole day and reprimanded myself for allowing such an occurrence to happen.  We searched and called for eons.

  DU and I broke apart as I was instructed to take Avery to the car.  Screaming various pet names and the peculiar call I created because I can't whistle that Titus is hyper-alert to brought nothing.  Keeping Avery 2 inches from me, I silently prayed to God that they would be all right.  Nearing the car, I gave in to the tears and broke down.  Titus is mine to protect and never allow anything terrible to ever happen to him. Oscar is my step-puppy who gets more excited to see me than DU.  Now they were in the woods.  Scared? Hurt? Dead? Attacked? I didn't know.

  I shakily drove through the land, quietly begging my babies to come find me.

  The truck went over a hill and I caught the sight of DU's head.  The tears rapidly multiplied as I realized he was looking down and he seemed to be alone. 

   Putting the car in park, I refused to look up for fear that my eyes would prove what my heart didn't want to believe.  Then I saw two heads bounding towards me.  Running ahead of DU, the dogs were happy as could be.  But completely bloodied. 

   Falling out of the car, I gathered them to me and cried. 

  There is a lot of barbed wire fencing on the property we hunt and it seemed like Oscar got the worst of it.  We figure that when we all go to the happy hunting ground in the sky, they will be able to tell us what really happened the day they ran from us.   Oscar will insist it was the gnarliest thing he ever did and Titus will readily agree.  But for now, we figure they chased a squirrel or something into the woods and got caught up on the fence.  Titus' marks were less severe but scary none the less. 

  We drove home extremely thankful that the dogs returned to us and we could leave as a family.  But I still felt guilty.  I sit now, Avery's small body is reclining across half the couch, using Titus' snoring form as an ottoman and my arm as a pillow.  Oscar is two rooms away sleeping off his injuries in our bed, wrapped up in a blanket, watching football.  I keep waking him up just to make sure he's okay. He continually rises his head and looks at me through sleepy eyes.  His tail wags happily and his signature body wiggle is in full effect.  I know he's okay but I'm still not.  We are blessed beyond words that everything turned out well but it could have been a much different story.

   It's easy to take these canine companions for granted and reprimand them when they piddle on the floor or chew up your favorite pair of slippers.  But it is necessary to keep in mind that they are the most loyal and beautiful creatures to ever grace the companionship of man.  I feel thankful everyday that I have been blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of them.  They have taught me to give back what I am given.  To love unconditionally and learn something new everyday.  Most of all, I've learned to love life and never take anything for granted.

  It's said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  That may be true, but I believe that one can never be too old to learn from a dog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Outdoorsmen Unite!

    DU and I habitually go to Bruggers Bagels after hunting.  The bagels are soft, DU's coffee is always hot and the place is really hunter-friendly.  There is a very nice bagel assembly professional who never misses a chance to ask if we got anything or how the hunt went.  As of late, he's been offering to force one of his co-workers to run around the parking lot as a moving target so I can at least get one kill in. Sure, we get weird looks when we come in laden with camo and our faces covered in black paint but the staff makes us feel welcome.

   In related news, I've noticed a phenomena that I was pleasantly surprised to be made aware of.  My Jeep might as well be a mobile billboard for Hoyt, Real Tree, Browning and a random Taxidermy shop in the southerntier in New York.  People from space could see that I love hunting.  Without thinking one day, I put my orange hunting hat on my dash and now people are waving at me from other cars.  I get polite nods, waves and thumbs-up from vehicles seemingly containing hunters or fisherman.  The gesture is a nice reminder of how connected this outdoor community is.  Which got me thinking.

  Earlier this week I posted random thoughts from my tree stand.  I'm starting to wonder what people are thinking when they're sitting in their tree stands. 

About the coffee they had at their favorite gas station?  
An upcoming breakfast with enough butter to fill the arteries of two hearts?
A country song that they absolutely can not get out of their mind? 
  How a trip to the local pro shop is desperately needed for more arrows? 
Is that fish at Bass Pro really that big?
(It is!! )

  These questions swirled around in my head.  And then it hit me like a perfectly sharp broadhead to a target.

  Yes, my blogging compatriots this is the precursor to the first edition of:

A Quagmire of Thoughts From a Tree Stand
A weekly installment of the views, reviews, stories, and random thoughts of those who call the outdoors home.  

My purpose with this is to share the outdoor perspective with the blogging world.  
Which means, of course, I can't do much without you!

Is there a watering hole that always seems to serve the best drinks after a great hunt?
Is there a restaurant that opens early to serve breakfast to hungry fishermen?
Do you live in a city where eateries cater to hunters with Opening Day specials?
Are you venturing to a new place and want to know the best place to stay, eat, and hunt?
Is there a cup of coffee near interstate 78 that never fails to spread warmth to every crevice of your body?
Do you have a specific archery or fly fishing store that can't be beat?
Did something make you infuriated during your last hunt and you need to vent?
Are there certain un-spoken rules in reference to hunting public lands?
Did you just waste a bunch of money on a brand of scent eliminating spray that didn't work?
Does your family re-tell the same story about the fish that was <------- this big--------> but no one's ever seen it?  

The outdoor world wants to know!

This weekly post will highlight those welcoming restaurants, awesome hunting mom & pop places, great cups of coffee and family tradition.  

I could try and do reviews of all the places that outdoorsmen frequent but unfortunately,  I work. 
Also, I could just focus on areas in and around Charlotte but 12 reviews on how great Bob Evan's biscuits are would turn my readership to a gaggle of seriously bored crickets.
I'll be putting in my two cents here and there; adding people to the "That's Not Country" playlist (Current Inductees: Taylor Swift and Rascall Flats), reviews of various places I frequent and gear I use, and of course some advice on dating a hunter/huntress.  
But, I figured ya'll would like more. 
So I figured you, dear readers, would enjoy submitting and reading one another's stories. 
Even if you don't have a blog or your story is a buddy's tall-tale, still sent it along for the blogging world to enjoy!

A Quagmire of Thoughts from A Tree Stand will be posted every Friday. 

Any submissions can be sent to:

I'll use all submissions I receive in some form or another. 
Submissions can be anonymous so if you want to be a phantom and conceal your identity, let me know! 
This forum will span the entire horizon of the outdoors, so feel free to share any and all thoughts!

Stay tuned for next week's first edition! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


    There is an ancient belief that when a hunting expedition goes wrong or bad times befall someone, it is because they have done something wrong.  Whether they cheated, lied or murdered, people had an inherent fear of the repercussions of sinning.  So now I sit in the 21st century and mull over why exactly I have yet to harvest anything, despite two months of seriously devoted hunting.

   My first theory, the one I cling ignorantly to, is that God has decided that on the last day of bow season I will harvest the biggest buck ever known to mankind.  And that on the last day of duck season, I will shoot straight and the ducks will fall like snow in the January sky.  Yes, friends, God (prayerfully) has made it so that I will become rich and extremely famous with this gigantic deer and abundant birds.  The Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Life Magazine, Team Real Tree, Hoyt bows and even Michael Waddell himself will beg me to be a star in their respective jurisdictions.  Of course I'll be modest, say it was nothing,  take them all up on their generous, selfless offers and hunt for the rest of my life while millions of my minions watch.  Ah the beauty of grandiose illusions.

   The second, more plausible theory boils down to me being a terrible hunter and possibly committing 7 of the deadliest hunting sins known to hunterkind.  You may have heard of the 7 deadly sins that the normal lay person can commit but you may not be aware of the sins that are applicable to the everyday hunter.  They read as the same sins but the underlying message is much more serious.  Since you have been here through the ups and downs of the last two months or so, I figured we should work it out together.

  Seven Deadly Sins- Hunting Edition

        The sin which supposedly feeds into all others and was the main reason for Satan's fall from grace, it's influence makes individuals feel superior, or more deserving than others. 

   For hunters, Pride forces them into only harvesting big bucks or banded birds. The prideful hunter will bypass does, small bucks and other waterfowl just for that one big kill.  Not helping with conservation, this hunter focuses on big trophies just for personal gain. 

             Nope.  Not me. At this point, I'd shoot the smallest doe or a button buck. Color me desperate.   

         Over-indulgence of food or drink.  Considered a sin as Catholics believed that people who hoarded food or luxuries were able but unwilling to help the poor. 

   In the hunting realm. gluttony can have disastrous effects.  Before a hunt, eating the entire contents of a table of sustenance will cause a hunter to have to prematurely abdicate their stand in order to find  quick intestinal relief.  On the other hand, if hunters who excessively harvest deer and do not use the meat or materials provided after the harvest, they are doing a disservice to the needy who could benefit from venison.  

         Negative.  I abstain from food before the hunt just in case I'd have to have a speedy exit.  Although I've never donated venison, I would.  I just need to get an excess of venison... 

          Greedy individuals are those who insist on hoarding everything.  Greed forces a person to yearn to attain wealth, power, as well as status by any means necessary, including robbery, murder, and the like. 

   Greed may be the biggest sin committed by hunters.  In order to attain a greater harvest or prestige in the hunting world,  individuals have been known  to poach on private land and hunt out of season.  Also, there are those who fail to tag their harvests or exceed bag limits for waterfowl.  

            I wouldn't be dumb enough to be swayed by this one.  Poaching, trespassing and exceeding bag limits all equal time in jail, hunting licenses revoked as well as a slew of other legal action. 

         Laziness, an aversion to movement and an overall sluggish attitude towards life defines this sin. Seen as wasting time, this sin can rob someone of their life. 

   We all know beds are comfortable and the fall wind seems to freeze bones solid but you still have to get your butt out of bed.  Sloth seeps under a hunter's eyelids and force them closed high up in the stand, causing injury or missing a big buck.  

    Guilty as charged. I love sleeping and some of the newer stands are more comfortable than our couch.    Deadly Sins: 1 HLYH: 3

       Did Ron get a new RV?  I want it.  I won't be happy until I have everything that jerk has.  Including his wife.  Honey? Get ready for some intimate time with our plastic surgeon! Sound familiar? That's envy. 

    Envy makes it so that individuals want everything  bigger, better and can't enjoy his buddy's success.  You get a big deer? He's the Debbie Downer who congratulates you through gritted teeth and a plastered on smile. 

    I admit it.  I get a little envious with the deer, ducks, and amount of time DU gets to hunt.  But not so much so that I can't relish in his good fortune.  So lets give this one a half of a point.  

        Most likely one of the most popular sin, wrath induces individuals into throwing things, yelling and carrying on in an angry manner.  Wrathful people are unable to control their rage and express the feeling in destructive ways. 

   A wrathful hunter is one that I'm scared to encounter.  The simmering anger underneath a calm facade explodes after a miss or a badly placed shot.  Combine rage, guns, and the open outdoors and you have a recipe for an imminent, fatal disaster.

   A swing and a miss, Mr. Devil. I'm going with no on this one as well.  I'm not really the type to haphazardly fire into the abyss because of a missed shot. Jail isn't my thing.

        I'm just going to leave this one be. We're all partially guilty. Half point.

   Well.  There we have it.  Deadly Sins- 2.  HLYH- 5. Not really enough evidence to back up the claim that I did something terrible in order to have such an unfruitful season thus far.  
    You know what that means! Get on your groveling knees, outdoor shows and magazines- HLYH is gonna bag a big one! Three cheers for blissful ignorance!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Quagmire of Thoughts. From a Tree Stand.

   I figured it was a stroke of pure genius when I figured that I would write a blog entry while sitting in the stand.  How perfect it would be, I surmised, that I could fully express how it feels to be in a stand and fully immersed in nature.  However, as any hunter knows, no one's thinking while waiting in the stand is ever truly coherent.  The forest allures a hunter into thinking the most random, profound and ridiculous thoughts.

   What am I going to have for dinner? What is the meaning of life? How does my significant other feel about my absence? How many bouquets of flowers and dinner dates are going to make up for being away all night?  Do I even love her/him?  Why does he like Rascal Flatts?  Does that cloud look like a banana holding a crying bear?  If I kill a deer, will I have time to dress and butcher it tonight before work? Does my camo match? If I was a deer, what would my name be?

   Yes, readers, us hunters are deep people.  Which made this plan completely backfire.  After scanning the vast area around me for a good hour, it was only natural that I started thinking some random things.  While conceptually it was a good idea to attempt this venture, what resulted was a series of nonsensical ramblings punctuated with things like; "Paused to stare at leaves", "Thought I heard a deer", and more often than not- "Wait.  What was I writing again?"

  Therefore, I looked through my notes and compiled a best of the best series.

  So, without further adieu, A Hunter's Thoughts.....

on memories...

I forgot Doe Pee.  And now I have to pee.  Damit.

on foliage...

A carpet of leaves has been newly installed and they crush with every one of my steps.  Disallowing a silent entrance, the leaves appear to be the forest's alarm system. 
The once solidly green foliage has begun to transition into a sea of color.  God's Fall skills are second to none.  Each color different from the next, the leaves fall to the ground leaving trees naked to the looming winter.  
The yellow ones are always my favorite, red a close second. 
Something about the way the trees look of pure gold remind me of crispy corn flakes.  
The mystical kind that never sog in milk.

on nutrition & health... 

I never drink the milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl once the good solid bits dissipate.  DU hungrily gulps up the remains of his Grape Nuts laden with the bovine byproduct. I don't understand this.  He swears Co-Co puffs are the best for residue milk consumption.  
Apparently it tastes like chocolate milk. 
Well then go buy Ovaltine? 

on love...

DU dropped me off at the land we hunt about an hour ago.  Once I had compiled all the necessary parts that make up an afternoon bow bunt , I kissed him and he drove away.  He now shall trek back home in order to clean and do laundry.
I believe this is the first time in history a man has ever stayed home and cleaned so that his girlfriend could hunt. 
Men world-wide should take notice of this. 

on understanding the male sex...

There is a scrape under a tree across from mine.   I wonder what the human male equivalent to a scrape is. 
Since scrapes are a sign of dominance and marking one's territory, then the human version must do the same.  
Scrapes are mobile and can be erased or messed with by a bigger, more dominate deer. 
Messing with said scrape drives the deer nuts, thus making them come back to check on it.  This makes it easy for hunters to mar a scrape to lure unsuspecting bucks into their final resting place.  
So what is a mark of territory that can be defaced and is a source of manly-man pride for the human species? 
His car?

on acceptance...

I hate squirrels. 
Titus loves them and wishes he could befriend every one he comes in contact with but I hate them. 
Is there any reason God made these little rodents act like they have a serious crack addiction?
I get so excited when I hear those telltale rustling noises that clearly can only be made by gigantic animals.  When I find that it's a pair of squirrels chasing one another merrily up and down trees,  my expectations deflate.  Not a deer.  Just squirrels.   Damit.

on trees...

I swear the tree across from me has faces in its bark. 
I keep looking and the expression changes. 

on psychological disorders...

 Hunting is insane.  Literally.  One definition of insane is doing something over and over, all the while expecting an alternate result.  Hunters sit in the same tree stand on the same land for years.  Decades even.  And each year they yearn for that big buck.
I use the same camo, sit in the same stand and use the same calls. 
And I still think all the effort will yield a different result. 
This hypothesis is proven fully when I analyze my trigger obsession. 
While in the stand, I'll habitually press the trigger and hook on my release at the same time.  This makes it so that both decompress and are useless in pulling a bow string back.
I'll pull on the hook until I hear that satisfying click.  That little click connotes that my release is ready to kill.  
Ready- until 5 minutes later when I start the process over again. 

on squirrels...

I still hate them. 

     So there you go.  My random thoughts as dictated by nature's divine absent-minded intervention.  Feel free to share your own!

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Rampage Time.

Dear Animals of the World Ducks, Geese and Deer of North Carolina, 

    First of all, let me extend to you my deepest sympathies for the losses many of your families have suffered in the recent months. I know that many loved ones have been sacrificed for the dinner plates good of mankind and let me be the first to say I'm sorry.  Okay,let's be honest, I'm really not that sorry. Its just that you all taste deliciously and look really good above my fireplace.  You may not want to hear that, but it's true.  Unfortunately for you, but very fortunate for the hunters of the world. 

    As you may or may not know, I have yet to harvest any of you. And yes, friends, this is my your fault.  I'm not trying to be bitter but at this point, I have nearly 2 months in and nothing to show for it. So, yeah I'm bitter.  Don't you see how scrumptious the corn is that is under my stand? Isn't my blind cool enough for you to fly over? Do my decoys look deadly anti-social? I assure you, they are here to party. Am I telling you something mean or inappropriate with my calls? Truthfully, I don't speak duck nor deer so I'm not sure what I'm saying. Is it because you don't think I'm pretty enough? Is that it?!?!?   

    What I'm getting at is that this weekend is the first day of late duck season.  Early duck season yielded nothing. Nothing yet for archery. You hear that, mallards? Woodies, you got your little, stupid ears open? I'm out for blood. It's rampage time.  You won't know where I am.  You can't see me but truly, friends, I can see you.  I hear you and I'll be watching. 

   This letter kind of went to a weird place. Completely to the left of where I had originally intended it to go. But.  Yeah.  I hope you all have a great day.  


      Hunt Like You're Hungry. 

PS.  I'll see you for at dinner. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Thanksgiving Deer

This Blog entry is my submission to the Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Blogger Network writing contest.
(A re-done version of My First Deer but edited for the contest.  I racked my brain to find any other story that hits closer to home than this one but I couldn't.  So, Enjoy! Oh, and check out the contest- free stuff for writing? Christmas shopping, anyone?)

     Holidays bring families together.  Children gather around a fire in the hopes that a grandparent’s story will be the catalyst for slumber that will cause Santa to make his appearance sooner.  Piles of food patiently wait to be ingested by hordes of hungry, football-loving people.  Some holidays bring people together.  For others, it is another story all together. 

     It was a cold Thanksgiving morning.  My boyfriend at the time and I were at a turning point in our relationship.  After a year of relatively good times, things were starting to go sour.  The weekend after opening day I came home to a half-empty apartment.  It felt terrible because at first, I experienced a sense of relief.  Relieved that I wouldn't have to hear him complain everyday, wait up for him or have to be the one to tell him to leave.

    Once the initial shock melted away, I was sad, lonely and angry.  I had moved to the town I lived in essentially so we could be together. I worked hard to pay for everything and wasted money that needn't be wasted on a guy like him. Most of all, I was angry because I didn't know what would come of my hunting season.  We had been hunting his friend's property and I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to continue hunting there.

      I eventually got a hold of him a little later. He told me how much he loved me and that we'd be together but he needed to move out in order to be less of a burden on my shoulders.  A complete cop-out if you ask me, but since he didn't ask, I didn't mention it.

      Weeks went by, I went hunting every morning and afternoon I could. Some days he'd be there, some days not.  But every time I saw him, a part of my heart would ignite.  That part got smaller and smaller as the months went by and eventually went out.  But we're not there yet.

      And then there was that Thanksgiving morning.  It started like any early morning hunt. 4:00am. Freezing cold walk outside to let Titus, puppy companion extraordinaire, pee and a quick run upstairs to throw my camo on.  It felt like I should have been festive, but my mood was anything but.   I drove to the land alone.  Snow was gradually turning to rain.  A damp chill infiltrated every crevice of the car.  When I finally pulled up to the land, he was standing there.   I faked a smile and loaded myself down with gear. 

    Calling the distance between the stands and where we stood a road is implying that the strip could support vehicle activity.  What we were faced with was a river of mud and freezing water.  Walking was turned into an aerobic workout in a matter of moments.  Gunky mud held fast to my boots which were deeply submerged in the sludge.  Staring at my stagnant, sad footwear I realized all I really wanted to do was go home and watch Thanksgiving parades. Somehow, I ventured forth.

    I finally got to the stand and waited.   The morning was relatively quiet and nothing moved.  Once everyone descended from their tree stand thrones, the men decided a push was necessary to get the deer moving.  I was told to scale a monstrous stand and wait.

    The guys started screaming and singing as they walked through the brush.

    I stood and waited, my gun shaking in apprehension as my hands refused to calm.

   Then came the moment the deer decided to peek outside the thicket.

    I breathed and calmly lined the cross hairs.

    A second later it was done and I could barely move.

   Numbly, I cocked the shotgun just in case.

    Once the push was over, the guys came out yelling and high-fiving one another as I looked down from the stand.  Encouraging me to come down and survey my handiwork, the menfolk gathered around my first harvest. I shakily put my safety on and climbed down. Walking over to where they had circled up, I saw the mound of deer in the brush.  I quickly knelt down and patted her stomach.  I said a quick prayer and thanked her for the meals she would provide.

   The whole ordeal took only a second but forever I had been changed.

   That Thanksgiving Day altered me in ways that I’m still attempting to fully grasp.

    I felt empowered.  I felt like there was nothing I couldn't do.  And I fell in love with hunting.

    Later after the hunt was over, I made a makeshift turkey dinner and extended an invite to my soon to be ex-significant other.  He said he'd call when he was done with another push.

     He never called.

    But that night, I ate my small dinner and drank deeply from a cheap bottle of wine alone. Christmas movies were prematurely playing as the melancholic rain transformed into radiant snow in the opaque sky.  For the first time in a long while, I wasn't sad and I knew all would be well.  As long as I could hunt, life would be good.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Venison Tacos

   Another weekend has come and gone.  I have no deer to show for it. Sat all day Saturday and didn't even hear anything. Damit.

  The only true highlight of the weekend was Friday when we could finally taste the fruits of DU's labor.

  After working all day, I apparently volunteered to make dinner. I don't remember this but I've found that fighting it is futile. Of course I volunteered.  The first thing I could think of was: Tacos!

 Ah venison tacos. Some nice backstrap and tenderloin cut thin,  mixed with some taco mix, garlic and onion powder.   Add soft tortilla wraps, cheese, onion, some peppers and you are set! You'll find that you can barely contain yourself and yearn to lick the hot skillet.

   But, like I said.  Not much to report.  Sat in DU's lock-on.  Now that was an interesting experience.  Nothing says love of hunting like being mere inches from sheer death while trying to shoot.  Thank God for harnesses.


Took some neat pictures.  Saw leaves fall like snow.  Sitting now watching football on the couch with the puppies while the fireplaces rages.  Whiskey is soothing the soul as a new week looms.  All in all, can't complain. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Want to be a Swamp Person.

   I've hunted deer and waterfowl.   In the near future, I wish to hunt bigger or more exotic game.  I frequently walk down the isles of various hunting stores while looking in wonder at the rows of huge racks, gnarly horns and statuesque oddities that hunters value.  Oh the animals I'd love to take a crack at.....

 Sure! They're as tall as skyscrapers and mean as bulls (no pun intended). 

Yeah, that would be neat, I'd get to use a nifty hose-like call 

 Getting a rack like that after that much hunting effort? Um... Yes. 

Big Horn Sheep?
Why not? It'll look cute and cuddly on my wall!


   History channel did the world of hunting a complete disservice the last couple of weeks when Swamp People aired on Sunday nights. Hunters around the world are now faced with the baddest of the bad group of men who actually seek out animals that can eat a man's lower half in one swift bite.  Alligator hunters have a lot of guts not only to make a living by hunting the animals but they come within inches of the deadly reptile's jaws.  Now, I have been called Lisa, Warrior Princess and a "bad-ass" chick.  But how can I now, in all good conscious after watching men (and one brave soul single-handedly with a winch) pull 800 pounds of dead gator in a boat, smile along with these nicknames? Clearly I do not even come close to reaching the caliber of bad-ass as these fellas.  I've never hunted anything from the cretaceous period, let alone tried to pull 800 pounds of anything into anywhere- but I really want to.

  For those of you who read this and wonder what in the world I'm talking about, let me explain.  Swamp People chronicles the lives of alligator hunters in the swamps of Louisiana.   The down-home group of die-hard hunters are eclectic at best.  It is cliche, but true that these men work hard and party harder.  The cameras follow the kills, the misses, and the deadly business of alligator hunting. The season runs 30 short, grueling days.  The hunters apply for tags every year and must use them all in order to avoid penalties next season.  The show frequently shows the baiting of gators, the reptiles being gingerly pulled towards the boat and shot by a hunter. (I'm surprised that PETA hasn't been all over this one.  Then again, I suppose they don't want children to be eaten whole by a 12 foot gator.)

   Generally the men work in pairs, except of course for Bruce.  Bruce, in my mind, is insane in a completely outrageous way.  The lone ranger, Bruce hunts alone, save for his dog.  Then there's Albert and his sons who forgo a month of welding pay in order to help their dad in his gator season.  William and Junior are an interesting father-son pair who completely live off of what can be taken from the land.  (In one amazing scene, William goes out and gathers frogs so his family can have them for dinner, deep-fried of course.)  Joe and Tommy are close second in my list of favorites.  Joe is a seasoned vet who seems to know exactly where the gators are and does a mean "alligator roll" dance at the local watering whole. Tommy, Joe's Step-son, is learning the ancient ways of hunting alligators.  Their connection is a humbling one as it exudes an air of father-son, not father, step-son.  Troy and Jacob take the cake in my book.  Troy's creole Louisianian accent is delightfully incoherent to my accent-novice ear. Another father and son team,  the pair work together with a surrogate son of sorts, Clint.  Troy is shown preparing gigantic feasts for his community, teaching kids about gator hunting and being the unofficial King of Hospitality of Pierre Part.  The whole show is a unique perspective on  a two century-old way of survival for Cajuns. 

   I've never gone to Louisiana. I don't know anyone from Louisiana.  I've seen alligators at zoos and on a plate at Razoo's.  But after watching Swamp People, I want that to change.  The show painted the whole Cajun culture as a beautiful, family-orientated tradition that loves God, nature, and deep roots.  Families stick together, men take care of their families, and communities gather in celebration of one of their own doing well (in this case, trapping a huge gator or tagging out).  The music is produced from the nimble fingers of musicians, not radios.  Dinner wasn't out of a white bag consumed in front of the TV but a symphony gumbo, various fried animals and plump, red crayfish thoughtfully composed by the ones who provided the sustenance. The show explores the kind of family tradition and home-town pride that I have never been fortunate enough to experience.

   So, this is my plea.  I want to be a swamp person.  I am officially taking adoption applications only from alligator hunting, Louisianian families. (Sorry Mom.) While I don't think I'm able to pull anything over 60 pounds, I'm going to start doing alternate rounds of push-ups and steroids to build my strength up. I'm not afraid of alligators. In fact, I think alligators are cute in that my-teeth-are-stronger-than-your-entire-body kind of way.  I'm a pretty good shot. Crayfish freak me out but I think I'd be able to get over that....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Modern Woman's Guide to Hunting Vol. 1 Rule 2

   Ah the wondrous hunting mecca that I wish to someday call my home, Bass Pro Fishing.  With its abundant cornucopia of all things outdoors, Bass Pro has keenly perfected the ways to make a hunter fall on his or her knees, open their wallets and spend until the said hunter is in desperate need of government bail-out because their credit card over-charged itself.  Bad credit card.

   I've witnessed cars parked outside Bass Pro, deer decals lovingly clung to the back windows as their owners stand open-mouthed at the monstrous entrance. The Bass Pro in North Carolina is a beautiful and extremely accurate representation of how I envision my future homestead when I become a kajillionaire.   Given my affinity for all things wood, (no innuendo intended) the store is heaven.  The entire premises from street entrance to the exit to the much inferior mall is set up like a log cabin.  A gigantic fireplace stands in the lobby while various mounted animals peer down at patrons in a mournful last gaze.  Deer heads hang from the hunting section with racks only seen in the distant pages of magazines.  A fish tank, with quite possibly the largest and most appalling looking catfish who has definitely ingested a human appendage or two, illustrates to children that their parents were lying when they said nothing in that dark, scary lake would ever eat a child.

  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I love Bass Pro.  I'll go Bass Pro for anything.  I mean anything.  If there is a concert looming ahead, I'll run to Bass Pro for camo overalls.  (They have them.  We tailored them into shorts. Take that, Versace- I can do couture too!) DU and I ritualistically end up there after, before or even during date nights.  Obviously, I am the last person to whine.  However, I've noticed an interesting phenomena.  I've actually noticed girls complaining about being there.  Some seem completely out of place while others continually look to the exit in the hope that their significant other will take notice.  Best yet, I have been privy to fantastically amusing public fights that generally end in the man storming away with the outrageously expensive clad girlfriend sulks in his wake.

  This is very interesting to me, as whatever DU enjoys, I generally try to go along with.  (I've tried fatback , I deserve a medal.)  Therefore, we have tendency to re-create these fights in order to increase the awareness of how ridiculous people look when they argue in public.  It usually starts in the parking lot where I refuse to move my feet and DU is forced to push or carry me inside.  Once inside, the real magic starts.  I'll feign anger when DU wants to try out every duck call and compare the sizes of Goose decoys.  Usually, I'll start rolling my eyes and making comments such as, "Don't we have like 8,000 of these in the garage? Can you please stop that calling stuff? Its like annoying."  Infusing a lot of hyperbole and the word "like" lends itself to increased ridiculousness, hence giving the argument an absurdity boost.  In an amplified tone, DU will then tell me to wait in the car or go look at shoes.  The realistic nature of such tussles is enhanced in rare instances when I'm not sporting my signature camo.  By far and large, the best arguments occur at check-out when DU insists on leaving me there.  He attempts to persuade the cashier (Bass Pro has the best.  They remember names, are always happy and more than happy to oblige in our antics.) to employ me in a modern form of indentured servitude.  I then, again, roll my eyes and pay the bill.  DU sometimes decides to take the whole thing a step further and make some smart comment about the beauty of feminism.  We leave laughing, along with anyone who watched, took part in, or was slightly confused by our performance. 

  There is another way to make Bass Pro fun.  The awesome store has a great policy about dogs.  They love them and encourage well-behaved dogs to accompany their two legged owners.  Immediately after adopting Avery, we realized she was in desperate need of garb as per her namesake.  So, before ever setting foot inside her soon-to-be home, Avery was carried into Bass Pro.  At 14 weeks, the girl owned the place.  Michael Waddell could have walked in, giving away free ATVs and no one would have given him a second glance.  Yes, Avery was that good.  Gaggles of women stopped me and asked if they could pet her.  Camo clad men gave us a nod as waterfowl hunters were quick to ask where we got her, how she's retrieving and if she's gun shy.  Even now, a solid 30 pounds of growing puppy, Avery attracts a lot of attention. I noticed that Avery is the kryptonite that assists in entertaining bored, unhappy significant others at Bass Pro. 

  Yes, my friends, Bass Pro can be an adventure.  Some can't get enough but for others, the trip is a hardly bearable, I-have-to-do-it-because-my-man-likes-it chore .  For the latter group, there is hope.

The Modern Woman's Guide to Hunting Vol.1 Rule 2-
Bass Pro is awesome.  Make the trip fun even if you have to pretend to duke it out. 
If all else fails, find a puppy.