The Chasin’ Whitetails Challenge

Okay so here it is…as the 2018 – 2019 hunting season begins to wind down we are all going to need something new to talk about around the campfire. Obviously we will tell our friends all about the game that we bagged and about the ones that got away. We will discuss the new spots we are going to focus our attention on and the “hot-spots” that didn’t produce the way that we had expected them to. We’ll tell some “war-stories” about deer camp and what our fishing plans are for the spring, but I’m interested in a subject that has a little more “meat on the bone”.

I have recently had some serious upheaval in my life. Over the last several months I’ve started to come to the conclusion that it’s time to make a major change. I’ve decided that we should all live our lives with one simple thought in mind…living our life in a manner focused on happiness. Life is too short to spend all of our time making sure that our boss ends up rich while we end up emotionally spent.

At the age of 47 I was completely unprepared for the passing of my mom this past November. Obviously it can happen to anyone at any time, but I hadn’t even started to contemplate my life without her in it. Her passing leaves my Dad on his own for the first time in his life. At 71 years old he’s still more than capable of taking care of himself, but he is a warm weather guy and I don’t see him ever moving back to the Northeast. I’d love to end up a little closer to him geographically speaking.

My little sister is a successful food stylist that lives on the outskirts of Chicago. She is awesome at her job and is committed to staying in that part of the world for the foreseeable future. She has a very solid situation and is more than capable of taking care of herself.

My son just moved into his first apartment in Lynchburg, VA and will, most likely, be moving towards being out on his own and in that neck of the woods fulltime. He’s a good kid that has another couple years of college to knock out. I’d like to remain within an easy day’s drive from him.

My mother-in-law lives in FL and my father in law lives in PA. They are both pretty healthy, financially stable and are both currently able to fend for themselves. My wife is an only child, so there are no siblings to worry about on her side of the family.

I am gainfully employed and enjoy my current position, however, I am also at the point in my life where if I am ever going to try something new…well then the clock is ticking. I plan to continue my endeavors with Chasin’ Whitetails Media, but that can happen from anywhere and part of this discussion revolves around being able to increase my outdoors activities.

On the personal front I like to waterfowl hunt, small game hunt and I am very interested in learning more about hog hunting. I like to fish, but prefer saltwater opportunities. I plan to own an 18’ – 21’ skiff of some sort that I can hunt, fish and scoot around in. I like warm weather, hate snow and would like to wear shorts 365 days a year. I love to be outdoors, enjoy playing golf, shooting sporting clays and watching baseball. Professionally I have been in sales and management for roughly my entire adult life and would see myself remaining in that capacity.

My wife likes to stay busy. She enjoys shopping, socializing and hits the gym religiously. She likes the idea of a shared outdoor activity, however, so far hunting, fishing and golf haven’t worked out well for us. She likes warm weather, but she’d also like to see spring and fall to some extent. Professionally she has held numerous banking positions and does well in customer service, She’d also like to get more involved in volunteering, specifically at an animal rescue of some sort.

We both like the idea of “community living”. By “community living” I am talking about planned developments that include shared amenities: rec. centers, swimming pools, fitness centers, golf courses, sports leagues, restaurants, bars, shops, etc.

So here is the challenge. Pick the place that my wife and I should move. There are really no rules to this challenge and there is no guarantee that we’ll follow through and pick up sticks, but the idea of a fresh start is always fun to explore. I’d love to hear your opinions on the perfect town and why you’ve zeroed in on that particular location. Let’s hear your thoughts on the perfect sportsman’s paradise here in the grand old USA.

 

 

 

 

Tranquility Custom Rods

I’ll lay my cards out on the table early in this article. I do not consider myself to be much of a fisherman.

I enjoy deep sea fishing from time to time, but mostly for the boat ride. I grew up doing a lot of surf fishing, but haven’t done much of that in the last twenty years. Fishing has always been my Dad’s thing and, since my son is a fishing fanatic too, it must have simply skipped a generation?

So why is this non-fishing guy writing an article about a custom rod builder you may ask? Well it’s pretty simple…I believe in generating publicity for good people that work hard to provide their clients with a quality product at a fair price. Greg Kwiatkowski, of Tranquility Custom Rods, is one such person.

I met Greg when, Chasin’ Whitetails team member, Max Crumlich (@theroadsideangler) mentioned that he had a friend of a friend that wanted to discuss a possible partnership on some custom fishing rods for our CWM “The Roadside Angler” series. As a senior member of our management team I decided that I’d accompany Max to his meeting just in case any questions came up. To make a long story short a lot of questions came up.

Max and Greg started discussing fishing rods and that little “Charlie Brown’s teacher voice” started playing in my head “Whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp”.

Questions about the length, flex, material and targeted species were flying around in the ether. So as those two discussed their passions for all things fishing I decided to take in the space that Tranquility Custom Rods currently occupies.

Although the main working area is a relatively small space it is extremely well laid out. An “L” shaped work area, that appeared to be custom built for guys like Greg and I (both well over 6’ tall), takes up two of the walls. The third wall is made up of two closets that house shelving for additional storage. Every piece and part has a defined place that it calls home. A rack of colorful thread dominates one corner of the workspace providing Greg with what appears to be an endless amount of color combinations. There were multiple drying racks spinning rods that had recently been clear coated and a barely visible cork board that displayed current and upcoming work orders.

The second room at Tranquility contains a couch, kitchen area and a pool table that, at that time, was being used as the Tranquility shipping department. Incoming pieces and parts were to the left and several recently completed rods were packaged up and off to the right side. I can only assume that this area harkens back to the early days when Greg still had enough time to shoot a game of pool? As it stands now there were enough outgoing packages to prove to me that Tranquility’s custom work is in high demand.

As I circled back to the conversation it was evident that Greg is very thorough. Every question that Max asked was answered in detail and usually elicited a follow up question to help Greg pinpoint exactly what it was our team was looking for out of these rods. They discussed what our team would be doing with the rods, where they’d be fishing and what each team member would like to see in the rods aesthetic design. The majority of the members of “The Roadside Angler” team are under the age of 25 so between their ideas and Greg’s abilities some really stunning fishing rods were produced. Over the next several months be on the lookout for the rod reviews at www.chasinwhitetails.com.

Like I mentioned above, I do not claim to be an angler of any worth. I like to wet a line from time to time, but I spend the majority of my outdoors time with a shotgun in hand. Our “The Roadside Angler” team on the other hand are fishing fanatics. They eat, sleep and dream about being on the water. They also fall into the millennial age group so at this point in their young lives money is a constant concern. They are not yet able to purchase rods in the $1,000.00 or more range. Thankfully Tranquility Custom Rods is able to work with each customer to design a rod that meets their needs and their budget.

So if you are looking for a custom rod, or would like to give one as a gift, I would strongly recommend giving Tranquility Custom Rods a shot at your business. I can assure you that Greg will go above and beyond to make sure that you get a rod that both satisfies your needs and makes your fishing buddies jealous.

 

Tranquility Custom Rods

Contact – Greg Kwiatkowski

Phone – (717) 572-3053

Email – tranquilitycustomrods@gmail.com

Instagram – @tranquilitycustom

A 2019 NYE Resolution

I know that the majority of people reading this article are already getting out there and getting after it, but you…yeah you…you know who you are.

You’re that person that craves the outdoors. You’ve watched every  single Alaska outdoors show rerun, you never miss an episode of that “how to forge” series, the idea of “off the grid” makes every hair on your neck stand at attention and you know exactly who Steve Rinella is without doing a Google search.

So…what will it take to convince you to get out from behind that computer screen and to venture out into the great outdoors? You know you want to do it, but you just need a little shove. You are dying to throw that Snuggie off,  kick off your furry slippers and trade in your energy drink for some crystal clear mountain spring water, but how is it possible to learn everything you need to know?

Well you’ve come to the right place. The Chasin Whitetails website has some valuable information to help get you started.

  • The Heartbeat offers an inside look at our hunting adventures.
  • Life Afowl will give you insight into the world of waterfowl hunting.
  • The Roadside Angler follows a group of fishing fanatics onto the water
  • The Fortified Female will prove to you that women are every bit as capable of getting outdoors and getting after it.
  • Hunt Fish Forage Farm shows you how to take your harvest from Earth to table.
  • Introducin’ the Outdoors provides a broad overview of helpful information for those of you that are just getting started.
  • In the News is a weekly roundup of press releases from the outdoor industry on new and exciting products.
  • The Killin’ It Podcast is a chance to pull up a stump and sit down by the campfire as our team discusses a little bit of everything outdoors related.

Now I’m not going to tell you that sitting down and scanning our website is going to make you an expert…heck, none of us are claiming to be experts. We are just a group of avid outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen that want to share our experiences with anyone that is crazy enough to watch, read or to listen to them.

Getting outdoors is all about the knowledge that you take away from your time afield. Our mission is to share our experiences with you. We will share the good, the bad and the ugly as we continue to hone our skills in an effort to reinforce our connection with Mother Nature. Hopefully you’ll learn something from our successful hunts, but my guess is you’ll learn even more from our failures

By this point in the article I hope that you’ve picked up on my sense of humor? It’s pretty sarcastic and it’s definitely dry, but the one thing that I can tell you with all seriousness is that I love being outdoors. Every one of us here at Chasin’ Whitetails Media would like nothing more than to be that spark that sets your love of the outdoors on fire.

Merry Christmas

From all of us here at Chasin’ Whitetails Media to all of you at home we wish to extend you a Merry Christmas and a safe, healthy and happy New Year.

It is our hope that 2019 finds you outdoors chasing after your dreams. Hopefully one of our featured series; Life Afowl, The Roadside Angler, Introducin’ the Outdoors, The Fortified Female, The Heartbeat or Hunt Fish Forage Farm has inspired you to make the most of the great outdoors?

We look forward to taking it up a notch in 2019 and would love to have you along for the ride.

Enjoy the holidays!!!

Waterfowler?

Some days it just all comes together. The weather does exactly what you had anticipated, the birds fly right at first light, you shoot straighter than you’ve ever shot before and the dog marks every bird that hits the water.

These are the days waterfowlers dream about. These are the days to be savored. This is the culmination of all of the hard work because, as every waterfowler will tell you, these kind of days are few and far between. This is the zenith that continues to bring the real waterfowlers back out day after day, season after season.

More often then not these true hunting addicts show up at the boat ramp and realize that someone misplaced the plug…again, that a damn squirrel chewed through the wires on the boat…again, that a hunting partner left his waders at home…again, or that the spot they had planned to hunt somehow iced up over night…again.

True waterfowlers understand that overcoming a S.N.A.F.U. is just part of the obsession.

The great news is that most waterfowlers don’t take no for an answer. They beg, borrow and….well let’s just say they do what it takes to get themselves on “the X”.

Waterfowlers are a dedicated lot. They are up early, appreciate horrible weather and thrive on gas station coffee. They scout constantly, study maps and drive countless miles to secure new hunting spots.They ponder over their decoy spreads, fidget with their calls and obsess over blind concealment. All in hopes of experiencing that “perfect hunt” just one more time.

The waterfowler community has its fair share of interesting and unique characters. There are often differences of opinion, terse conversations and and even long standing feuds. There are always more leases to line up, motors that need tuned up and blinds that need propped up.

This is the kind of people I chose to spend my time with. These are my people. Hopefully one day, when I’ve suffered a little more, I’ll earn the title of Waterfowler?

Weston – Reconnect with Real Food

We recently teamed up with the folks over at Weston (www.Westonsupply.com) to bring you some new and interesting ways to “Reconnect with Real Food”.

Over the next 12 months our team from the “Hunt, Fish, Forage, Farm” series will be asked to live up to that series’ name. They will put their talents to the test in order to procure the ingredients needed to provide you with an “outside the box” meal that can be prepared in a commercial kitchen, in your home or even at your hunting cabin.

Each episode will feature equipment from Weston that is intended to showcase their corporate mission to…

“…fuel a movement of hunters, gatherers, and locavores with the enduring, well-built products needed for a self-sustaining approach to food. We deliver the know-how to bring those products to life”. 

Keep an eye out here on the Chasin’ Whitetails website and on social media for our teaser videos that will introduce the featured monthly dish, as well as, the equipment that was used to prepare it. Then check back for the full length cooking demonstration and an article that will include the recipe.

Introducin’ The Pit Barrel Cooker

A bunch of guys warming themselves around a flaming, black barrel while drinking beer doesn’t necessarily summon up feelings of serenity. In most cases I’d probably cross the street in order to avoid being shanked. Don’t get me wrong I’m no angel and I’ve sipped from more than one brown paper bag over the years, but until I caught a whiff of the Pit Barrel Cooker in action I probably would have been a little hesitant to walk up on that sort of a crowd.

It was late in the 2017 college football season and the Penn State home crowd was doing what they do best…they were tailgating Happy Valley style!

I was doing what I do best…sipping on an adult beverage, snacking and people watching when I caught a whiff of something intriguing.

As I followed my nose I came across a group of guys standing around what looked to me like a 55-gallon drum. They were drinking beer and having a pretty good time so I struck up a conversation. The guy that owned the Pit Barrel Cooker couldn’t stop talking about it. He kept mentioning that the ribs he was cooking were the best he’d ever prepared. I must have dropped enough hints as he finally opened up the lid on the PBC and pulled a rack out.

The first thing that I noticed was the beautiful color that he had accomplished on the ribs. At virtually the same moment I noticed the Pit Barrel Cookers unique “Hook and Hang” system that allowed the ribs to be treated to a steady convection cooking process. As he slapped the ribs down on the cutting board I had a funny feeling I was in for something special. He invited me to try a rib prior to saucing them. He had used the Pit Barrel Cooker Company’s own All Purpose Rib Rub. That rib was absolutely delicious.

He then sauced the rest of the ribs and put them back on the PBC to caramelize the sauce. I evidently lost track of time, as I listened to the PBC gospel being preached by this true Hang Time convert. In what seemed like just a couple of minutes he took the ribs back off of the PBC and offered me another bone. Truth be told I enjoyed the rib better “dry” (which is not unusual for me) then “sauced”, but it was still a darn good rib.

Those ribs were so good that on the following Monday morning, I started to investigate the Pit Barrel Cooker Company. They have a very user friendly website with plenty of recipes and helpful tutorials on how to use their products correctly. What I was able to find out about the company, and the product, truly impressed me.

This is a hands on, family run business and the founder is a Military Veteran. They were tremendously responsive to my inquiries for information and were more than happy to allow me to test drive some of their products. I’ve been fortunate enough to experiment with both the Classic Pit Barrel Cooker and the Pit Barrel Jr. and I can tell you that the advertised price is more than fair for a product of this quality. There is nothing chintzy about the PBC, the rubs are really good and all of the accessories make cooking easy.

Both the Pit Barrel Cooker and the Pit Barrel Jr. have delivered some very impressive results. I tend to be a huge fan of cooking over charcoal and this set up has helped the members of our Chasin’ Whitetails Media “Hunt-Fish-Forage-Farm team” accomplish some very solid results on everything we’ve thrown at it including kale (yes kale), stingray, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, pork shoulder, London Broil and even a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

As the holiday season approaches keep the folks at the Pit Barrel Cooker Company in mind. If you have a BBQ aficionado to shop for, and you’d like to win them over, I’d strongly recommend giving the folks over at the Pit Barrel Cooker Company (www.pitbarrelcooker.com) a chance to impress you as much as they’ve impressed me

Canvasback Confrontation

It is pretty fair to say that I’ve become extremely easy to shop for as I’ve gotten older. My wife usually comes home from the mall, hands me a pair of pants and says something along the lines of…

“Here’s a new pair of jeans, I threw the old, ratty ones away”

I’ve learned not to argue, as I have literally zero fashion sense, and I’ve determined that she is correct to treat me as such.

My birthday and Christmas gifts have pretty much become gift cards to the big outdoors stores, a bottle of bourbon or a dozen golf balls depending upon where I fall on someone’s gift buying hierarchy. That being said I am rarely surprised anymore when opening a gift. Truthfully I am one of those people that likes a routine so I kinda’ just like it that way.

My wife usually approaches my hunting addiction with an impressive level of apathy. To say that she couldn’t care less is spot on. Mathematically she could not possibly care less.

For my 30th birthday (quite some time ago at this point) my wife threw me a curveball. She snuck around behind my back, consulted with my friends and lined up a duck hunting trip to Rock Hall, MD.

She went above and beyond the call of duty and had taken care of everything. The guide was arranged, the rooms were booked and I was already scheduled for the time off from work. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement.

So me and three of my buddies headed to the little town of Rock Hall, MD to chase ducks.

We arrived the night before our scheduled hunt, checked into our hotel and contacted our guide. This hunt was booked specifically to afford me with an opportunity to bag a Canvasback. At that time Maryland was discussing placing a moratorium on the “King of Ducks” and I wanted an opportunity at one.

Unfortunately, our guide informed us that he hadn’t been seeing a lot of ducks, but he did have a hot field where we should be able to limit out on geese. I wasn’t too excited to hear this news, but heck I was with three of my best hunting buddies, we had two days to hunt and I am a perpetual optimist so I knew good things would happen for us.

Day One went pretty much according to plan. We woke up, met the guide and rather quickly shot our limits of Canada Geese. Now don’t get me wrong, I love goose hunting. It’s probably one of my favorite waterfowl hunting activities, but at that time I could shoot five birds a day at home and Maryland only allowed each hunter to shoot two so I was a little underwhelmed at the idea of paying a guide to take us out to shoot geese.

We had wrapped up rather quickly so we got showered up and started to explore the town in search of something to eat. What we quickly found out was that the town of Rock Hall was in the process of closing up for the season. Much of the commerce in this small town is based around tourism and many of those tourists come to town to sail.

We heard the same thing over and over again…

”Let me check to see what they have left in the kitchen”.

We were finally able to get something to eat and then went in search of a beverage distributor. We made a purchase of some age appropriate canned liquids and went back to the hotel to settle in, watch some television and kill a little time.

Being semi-adult, male members of the human species eventually we needed more food. So out we went to cure the hunger pangs. We found a nice little bar and the folks working inside told us they’d make whatever was left in the kitchen for our dinner. They brought out an interesting array of fried items and told us that they were closing up for the season in the morning so any open bottle behind the bar was fair game.

We stayed there far too long.

The next morning came early and, to be 100% truthful, I wasn’t in a great mood. We got in the truck and met our guide at the boat launch.

“Well fellas” he said overenthusiastically “Let’s head back over to that field and shoot some geese!”

“No thanks” was my response. “I’m here to shoot ducks.”

Long story short a very uncomfortable conversation ensued. The basic premise being our guide wanted to shoot some geese and call it a day by 9 a.m. I, however, didn’t have any interest in shooting geese and made him completely aware of that fact. My stance being that, I didn’t care if we sat in a blind from sun-up until sun-down without ever seeing a single bird, my wife had paid hard earned money for a DUCK hunt and dang it we were going on a DUCK hunt.

My buddies did exactly what I thought they’d do…one went to find a restroom, one went to double check that he had his license in his blind bag and the other one went over and stared out over the water at God only knows what.

Eventually we worked it out. He agreed to put us in a blind, but wasn’t taking any responsibility for the outcome. I agreed and assured him that was all I was asking for. And so the most uncomfortable guided hunt I’ve ever been on began.

The minutes turned into hours, the hours turned into days. To this day I don’t know what my buddies thought as they sat there joking and enjoying the day meanwhile I sat quietly in one corner of the blind and our guide sat stone-faced in the opposite corner. Morning turned into afternoon, afternoon started to turn into evening and it was becoming increasing apparent that my canvasback would elude me.

We got to the point in the day where I began to realize that we had less than an hour to hunt and then it happened. A small flock buzzed the decoys and we managed to drop a pair of mallards. A couple minutes later and we dumped a nice drake mallard.

Over the next twenty minutes we picked away at a nice string of birds and then suddenly the guide muttered his first word since leaving the boat ramp…

“Can”.

This bird did it the way it was supposed to happen. He ran the gauntlet coming in from our guides side of the blind passing my buddies, one-by-one, until he hit my shooting lane. Now I don’t claim to be a sniper by any means, but destiny is a real thing and this bird had tested his destiny for the last time.

We collected the Can, packed up the decoys and, to the joy of our guide, called it a day. At the boat ramp we shook hands and I thanked him for putting up with us. There was no reason for hard feelings. He had been compensated for his time and he was simply trying to make sure that our entire group had fun. I spend enough time in the field that a guided hunt is used more to target something specific that I don’t have an opportunity to pursue on my own. Two different takes on the situation, but you know what at the end of the day no harm, no foul.

If you like to travel guided hunts are a fantastic way to get out there and hunt new places. Most guides put in a ton of time making sure that you’ll be in the right place to succeed. They often lease land and spend the required amount of time to manage that property to increase your odds. They will be the one that lets you know what they are seeing and what the best chance to harvest game may be.

That said these guys aren’t mind readers and they don’t know you from the last group that they guided. Make sure that you clear up any and all expectations ahead of time. If you are someone that only hunts a couple times a year and you’re looking to pull the trigger they can most likely help you with that. If you are someone that hunts a lot on your own and you’re looking to do something a little more specific you may want to discuss this ahead of time to avoid any early morning boat ramp confrontations.

Why do you hunt?

People regularly ask me why I hunt.

They are surprised that I would willing wake up at 2 a.m., crawl out of my warm bed and drive to a boat ramp two hours away from my house, regardless of the weather, just to shoot at a couple ducks.

Question: “You must really like killing stuff”…

Answer: No, that’s not it.

or

Question: “Wow, you must really like guns”…

Answer: Well yeah, I really do like guns.

or

Question: “Do you really eat those ducks”…

Answer: Yes, I do eat those ducks: and those geese, and those doves, and those pheasant, and those quail and…well you get the point.

I hunt to be outdoors experiencing nature while the sun rises and sets.

I hunt to be on my boat, facing into the wind and bouncing across the water.

I hunt to be sitting in a blind at first light when the Earth starts to come to life.

I hunt to be alone with my thoughts while simultaneously spending time with my friends and my family.

I hunt to see the wonder in my sons eyes when a flock of ducks locks up on our decoys.

I hunt to introduce as many people as possible to hunting.

Quite honestly I hunt to feel free.