Monday, April 25, 2011

The Search is Over: A Long-Awaited Apparel Review

   As we've already seen, I hate, no, I loathe, no, I detest, shopping for hunting gear.  Any time I walk into any hunting store, I get mad.  Recently, I went to my beloved Bass Pro to find that the women's hunting apparel had moved.  I went out on a quest to find the meager rack to find that in its new location, it became even more meager than it had been 30 feet previous. There was one, tiny circular rack and a minuscule section of wall behind it that housed a disappointing selection of inappropriate hunting garb.  I was looking for turkey gear but the only stuff I found was in the men's section, size small too long for my stubby appendages. Price was also a big issue, as at that time, I did not have a job.  (I do now, an amazing writing job for a fantastic company.  So to those who said good things were to come, you were right!!) The odds were against me and I began to realize that turkey season may be out of the question this year.

   Days later, on a random Sunday,  I logged on to the Outdoor Blogger Network to see that the dynamic duo of Rebecca and Joe were getting more interesting with their Wednesday gear giveaways.  Before they allowed us kids to ravage the house with keggers and ruckus illegal activity with their vacation from the OBN homestead, they crafted a beautiful contest. The theme was everything turkey, from calls to gear, that week was a jackpot to thunder chicken aficionados everywhere.  My eyes immediately took notice of a set of gear for huntresses, furnished by a company dubbed Haley Vines.  Of course, I put in for the gear at the very last moment.  The next day, while on Twitter, one of my outdoors buddies congratulated me on the OBN gear.  My fingers flew, literally, over the keyboard to find which gear would be mine.  Low and behold, the Haley Vines gear was to be mine.

  In order to secure my winnings, I had to send my size information to Joe.  This was my first chance to check out the HV website.  While this is my chance to be extremely cynical about the women's wear, how the models look like sticks who have never shot an animal let alone ate any wild game, how there is tons of pink and I'd never wear the stuff, even if it was free; I can't be.  The website impressed me, as did their Facebook account.  The gear looked sturdy, as if it was meant for actual huntresses, not hunter's wives who go to the blind once a year to be a silicone-laced cheerleader for her deer-killing husband. The models seemed like they knew what they were doing with guns and their fans on Facebook had dead animals in front of them, holding up the lifeless heads all while sporting HV.  Best yet, there was NO pink, NONE, not one stitch of the Pepto-Bismol hue anywhere.  Also, their size chart was amazing.  I, just like the majority of red-blooded American women, am a little (read: a lot) self conscious of my size.  I'm short, so my proportions are all off, things fit me weirdly and generally, I hate clothes shopping. But, the sizing for HV is self-gratifying in the way that the sizes go from 0-5, extra small to large.  Given that I wanted a little room in my hunting garb, I went for the middle of the road with a 2 (medium, but 2 just sounds so much better).  The pant sizes go from short to long, so I went for the first, the shortest inseam running 30 inches.

  The order was put in the Friday before turkey season, so I had 7 days to get the HV gear. The package was sent out on Monday and by Wednesday,  a knock on the door sent our dogs into a tizzy.  Groggy with morning haze, I backed the cavalry off and opened the door.  A very bewildered man hesitantly passed over the goods, clearly taken aback by the ferocious canines and their mother screaming, IT CAME! IT'S HERE! I CAN KILL TURKEYS NOW!

   If we look back to months ago, when we all became well aware of my affinity for all things postal, more so being on the receiving end of any parcel, we know that I am easy to please. Hence, HV could have sent me anything, really and I would have been tickled fuchsia.  I was expecting a pair of waterproof pants and accompanying jacket, both in Mossy Oak duck blind.  What I received was something completely different.  Upon ripping its encompassing layers open with same ferocity as a child on its birthday, I found a canvas tote.  Within the HV canvas tote lay three bundles, 2 tag holders, 2 HV coozies, a car decal and a burnt- umber hat.  Opening the three bundles, I found that not only did HV bequeath the jacket and pants to me but also a turtleneck and tank-top undershirt, each the same under-armor-esque material.  When I had unearthed all that needed to be unearthed, I cried. After all I had been through with losing my job, I figured that hunting was out of the question.  I knew that NC turkey hunting is intense, the temperatures reaching searing degrees, which made all my northern hunting apparel completely ill-suited.  With no camo, no job, and no hope, I was starting to feel really low.  That is until HV stepped in.  It was the one thing I needed to see that all was not lost; there were still good things to look forward to, even in my dreary state of mind.

  Best of all, everything fit.  The pants and jacket easily stretched to allow for bow or gun hunting. The pants zipped up to the knee and the jacket was filled with essential pockets (although I would have preferred more cargo-style pockets in the pants). The cherry on top of the sundae was the pant length.  Generally, my pants slosh around in whatever gooey landscape I tread upon. But, the HV inseam made it so that only a little of the bottom hit ground.  Again, I am extremely short so even this small victory was enough to celebrate.

  That weekend, I tested the gear out.  As luck (and fate) have it, it rained, poured in fact.  The temperatures were much colder than we had planned on so I was a little scared that the HV apparel would not keep me warm.  How ever wrong I was.  While DU was wet from head to toe, shaking as he switched out from one camo to the next, each more sodden than the first; I, my smug self, was warm and dry the entire time. When disrobing for the first time after our unsuccessful Saturday hunt, I noticed that my clothes were as dry as when I put them on earlier in the morning.  The only small problem were the tiny monsters that crawled in clandestinely during the hunt to burrow into my leg. (We bought tick spray days later to combat the advancing forces but HV may want to invest in some anti-tick outdoor wear.) 

  The next day, we set out with our bows for some more disappointing hunting.  We hid, sneakily ran, and canvassed the entire property for turkeys but the white-dotted fiends won their siege.  Before retreating, we hunted from a small field, hidden amongst the trees.  DU got up to change the position of one of our apparent not-convincing-enough decoys, turned around and looked confused.  Later, after packing our things up, DU said he had no idea where I was; the camo hid me so well he thought I had moved. This is thanks in large part to my rigid- immobility while turkey hunting but also because of the complete-coverage of the gear.  The high collar and cinched hood made it so that my face mask was wholly unnecessary.  This concealment is perfect for hunting but also for evading chores such as dishes and laundry.

   If I were being forced, at gunpoint, to give the gear a rating, even though we all I know how I feel about rating systems,  I'd give it a 68.2, or the equivalent of three and a half thumbs up.  This gear far exceeded my expectations.  While these expectations were admittedly low, given my predilection to hating the majority of huntress apparel out there, I was more than surprised at how well the clothing fared during hunting.  My biggest problem with hunting companies nowadays is that they insist on covering everything in pink and making hunting apparel that really is not made to withstand a serious amount of hunting.  Haley Vines, in stark contrast to its competitors, which should not be even called such, realizes that real women with real bodies and real passions hunt.  In their complete refusal to continue with the traditional way of seeing women as the pink-loving non-hunter, they have revolutionized the way I will shop for hunting apparel and this, my friends, has been long-awaited.

* A huge, wonderful thank you goes to  Haley Vines for the opportunity to review this gear.  As I said, it was a blessing the highest order and could not have come at a better time.  Feel free to send more my way to check out, you make a beast of a product that I'll be proud to wear. 
**Another huge, wonderful thank you goes to OBN.  You both have helped me out in more ways than I can ever count.  Thank you so so very much.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hunting Poetry

   It is a great month, folks! No, it's not because it's turkey season.  Nope, it's not because I finally go a job nor because Avery finally figured out how to swim and retrieve sticks.  It's April; That means it is National Poetry month!

   I know what you're thinking.  Everyone hates poetry, myself included, especially in high school when your teacher tried to get you to understand the beauty of Robert Frost.  The lines don't make any sense and no one really cares about a pond or whatever he's writing about.  Besides, the thing doesn't even rhyme; everyone knows poems have to rhyme.  Yes, my friends, poetry is one of the worst things to try to make children learn, as its confusing nature causes the brain to immediately shut down.   However, there is some beautiful poetry out here, especially pieces that express the thrill of the hunt.

   The following is a piece called a villanelle. There are many rules for this type of poem, but the gist is that each poem has four stanzas (a poetry term for short paragraphs), three of which has six lines, each which end with the same words as the first, just in a different order (this will make sense below).  The last stanza consists of all six ending words but condensed into three lines.  It is a little difficult to write but the outcome is some stunning poetry...

The Silent Shot

The lonely forest, a
solitary tree, 
Here I stand.
There he waits.
Black circular eyes look, for
the season is open to you. 

White confetti envelopes you,
rolling blank landscape, a 
freezing chill numbs. Tree
shadows cling here as I stand. 
There he waits,
a perfect target longed for. 

The eyes play games, for
time waits not.  You
want it to explode, a
crack firing amongst tree
branches.  Here I stand.
There he waits.

Under the tree stand
he no longer waits, for
the season is closed to you.

   The Writing Huntress
Niagara University 2009

   Take your shot as some poetry, you'll be surprised with what you come up with!