Tales from a Treestand

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for two weeks. I missed muzzleloader season last weekend because the husband was out of town. The weather isn’t perfect, it’s cool, windy and misting rains. But I can’t kill deer from the house, couch or the comfort of my bed.

Last night’s Halloween party kept me up later than I needed to be. I set my alarm for 4 pm rather than am. Woke up in a mad rush to gather my things, my thoughts and my coffee. I knew I’d get to the farm at daybreak so I planned to stalk in quietly. To my surprise, I was greeted by two random dogs who reeked of skunk. I thought for sure they would escort me to my stand.

Excuse me, there are deer here.

Two does exit stage left…

As I was saying, I had to run dogs off. The hike in was super quiet. Rain saturated ground creates a double edged sword. It makes moving quiet but climbing mountains slick! We all know I fall a lot so that was fun.

Within eyesight of my stand, the dreaded doe blow breaks the silence. I freeze, glass and see white tails everywhere. 🤬 wait them out a few, another step, another blow. Daggon it. So I just sit down. Spray some Nose Jammer on and check the wind…they definitely saw me cause the wind is great! As the blows end, I gather my things and trudge on in the final 100 yards to my stand.

For a moment, I just stare at this Summit climber I’ve become so familiar with, then up to my mark on the tree at 25 ft. Ugh. This is gonna suck. Tie all my gear together with mule tape and begin my ascent. Once settled, I was sure I would see nothing so I started this blog. Then came the does.

Obviously, by their posture and timid approach, these were the two I bumped coming in. They overcame their fears pretty quick when they got nose deep in Rackology. I watched them. I contemplated shots, but I waited, They walked away, and that’s okay. I need those girls when rut kicks in…😂😂😂

Winds picked up. No movement here in the 100 acre woods. My belly says, “lunch”. My feeder says, “corn”. And my morning coffee says, “Please go pee!!” So, down I go for food, corn and a bathroom break.

Returning with 50 lbs of corn, my bow and all my gear, I begin the .80 mile hike straight uphill. At the first plateau, I’m certain I will die before I get to my stand. When I make it to the top of the first ridge, I nearly collapse with fatigue. My hamstrings are on fire and my already injured shoulder is screaming angrily. I take a minute, lay down on the cold, wet, leaf covered ground and listen to my heart pound. Looking up, I see the canopy of foliage that is the epitome of KY beauty, take a big deep breath and tell myself (outloud), “ Get up, you’re almost there.”

Pushing forward, arriving at my set, pour out the corn, tie gear on to rope, stand and stare at the climbing stand, dreading the torture that is about to ensue. My legs still burning, my shoulders and back quivering in distress, my mind tells me, “There’s no way you’ll make it.”, but my heart says, “Girl, you better get up that tree!”

The evening hunt was uneventful. No deer. Swampcat squirrels, constant rain, hurricane equivalent winds, and neighbors sighting in rifles or having WW3? As the light disappeared, again I shimmied down this ole oak and began my trek out. I left the stand with tags left to fill. My body was beyond exhausted. My clothes were wet and my boots were muddy. But my heart, my heart was happy.

You see, I’m no “professional” hunter. I don’t have land managers, or thousands of acres planted with soybeans. Hunting doesn’t pay my bills and probably never will. The reward for me comes from thinking I will surely die packing corn into the mountains, and pouring it out on the ground a few minutes later. It’s standing at the base of a tree thinking my body can’t make it and clipping into my safety line and doing it anyway. It’s pushing my self to the limit…and then pushing a little further once I get there. And someday, if that big ole Booner buck cruises by, I’ll be ready.

Using Common Sense When Off the Ground

Have you ever wondered why some people jump out of perfectly good air planes, or why others drive dragsters over 200 miles an hour and not worry?  The answer is simple: they have on safety equipment that protects them when something goes wrong. 

There are guys who will spend well over two thousand dollars for a bow, a set of arrows, countless accessories, a tree stand and scent proof clothing, but yet are too cheap to buy a quality safety harness.  I just do not understand this thought process.  For many, this line of thinking results in severe injury or death.  

Every year, we read in the papers or in magazines about guys and gals who fall out of tree stands and are severely hurt or die, and for what?  Because they are too cheap or too lazy to wear a full body safety arrest system.  For me, the best $200.00 I could spend on hunting equipment is on a harness and a life line climbing line.  One of the best companies out there is Hunter Safety System.  All they do is make harnesses and harness accessories.  This company is dedicated to bringing you back home at the end of the hunt.  It is so simple: buckle the harness on, (which takes ten seconds) and then clip the harness in the safety carabineer before you step on the ladder to climb up the tree.  It is just that simple.  Now I have no worries.  If I slip off the ladder, not a problem, I will hang comfortably in the air until I can reach the ladder and regain my balance, or wait until one of hunting party comes along to help me down.  

There are just too many things that can go wrong when you are 20 feet in the air.  One of the most common ways in which people fall out of tree stands is that they simply fall asleep.  The early hours of the hunt, the cool breeze, the gentle rocking of the tree, put many hunters right to sleep. Many do not ever wake up again, and those that do often wake up in intensive care and suffer from severe paralysis the rest of their lives. The second most common area where hunters fall is while they are climbing up and down their ladders or climbing sticks.  Others fall out of their tree stand as they are preparing to shoot. They lose their balance or step where there is nothing but air.  

These are senseless injuries that could all have been prevented by simply wearing a full body fall arrest system.  Would you get in your car and not wear a seat belt? If so, you are gambling with your life. 

If you are going to hunt by yourself, let someone know where you are going, and when they should expect you back. Also, before you ever head into the woods, remember you have to purchase more than a bow and a license.  There are pieces of safety equipment out there specifically designed to get you into the woods and back again safely.  Please considerer all the cost associated with hunting, not just the cost of basic equipment.  

With all of today’s modern techno gadgets for hunters, there are simply no excuses for dying in the field.  Years ago we would hear tales of hunters who would die in the mountains because they would get lost and become so disoriented that they could not find their way out of the forest.  

Now, thanks to hand-held global positioning systems (many that cost less than a set of good arrows), there are fewer and fewer of these types of stories being told in deer camp.  Online, you can find free mapping programs that can give you a complete lay of the land before you ever leave your house.  There is even a spot beacon locator that allows you to communicate to friends and family that you are ok.  Heck, if you want to, you can even purchase a personal EPIRB to take with you into the woods.  There is just no excuse for getting lost.  

 

As a point of emphasis, I am including the Tree Stand Safety Guidelines from the Tree Stand Manufactures Association, despite some redundancy: 

 

ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer allowed Fall-Arrest devices and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.

 

ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season. Practice with the tree stand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions. Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the tree stand. Use all safety devices provided with your tree stand.

 

NEVER exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer. If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer. 

 

ALWAYS inspect the tree stand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use. Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts. Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists. The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.

 

ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult prior to using it in an elevated hunting environment, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level and how to properly use your suspension relief device.

 

ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal. Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device. Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death. If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.

 

ALWAYS hunt with a plan, and if possible, with a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.

 

ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times,and within reach, even while you are suspended in your FAS. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.

 

ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your tree stand’s instructions. Do not climb or place a tree stand against a leaning tree. Never leave a tree stand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.

 

ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your tree stand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.

 

ALWAYS know your physical limitations. Don’t take chances. Do not climb when using drugs, alcohol, or if you’re sick or unrested. If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.

 

NEVER use homemade, or permanently elevated stands,nor make modifications to a purchased tree stand without the manufacturer’s written permission. Only purchase and use tree stands, and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards. 

NEVER hurry!! While climbing with a tree stand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time. Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or tree stand every time you move. On ladder-type tree stands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

Copyright © 2009 by TMA

 

It’s like Christmas…but different

A short video of the night before archery season opener. Ticks (aka turkey mites) are especially bad this year. I pretreated my gear with permethrin spray and allowed it to dry before placing it in my Scent Crusher bag. Opening morning began with Dead End game calls scent free women’s line, which offers body wash, shampoo, CONDITIONER AND LOTION!! Scent Crusher OZone Go ran in the truck while I sipped my coffee and drove to my lease. My new Hunter Safety System Women’s Contour Vest kept my safe as I used a Summit Climbing stand for the first time in years!!! Opening morning takes me back to excitement a child feels at Christmas every year. It’s a time when all our hard work comes full circle. Our primal instincts are fulfilled. And the Hunter climbs back into their happy place….

Out of Shape Moose Hunt

Moose in the Back Country

An Out-of-Shape Hunt

Buk picked me up in his big, white, Ford F-250 power stroke diesel at the airport early Sunday morning.  The truck blended in with the heavy morning snow that was falling from the sky above.  It was a welcome site after a long 23 hour trip from Washington, D.C.  What should have been a simple six and half hour direct flight, turned into one cancelled flight after another, and a ton of delays.  Luckily, all of my luggage made it safely.

As we rumbled the hundred miles northwest of Edmonton, Canada, over a combination of paved and unpaved highways, and single lane roads, the big diesel engine purred like a snuggling kitten. When we arrived at his lodge about two hours later, I was exhausted, and beaten down from the bumpy ride.  I was happy to be at the lodge where I would spend the next two weeks hunting. I was greeted by Andrew and his wife, Beth. Buk informed me that I would be the only hunter in camp for the first week, as most hunters would be arriving for the second and third week of the moose season, when the rut was thought to be at its peak.  I had both a mule deer tag and a moose tag. Because, the weather being as it was, the plan was to concentrate on finding a Shiras moose first, then, if time permitted, going out and harvesting a mule deer. The Shiras moose is the largest of the sub-species of deer in North America.  Because they are a solitary animal, unlike most other deer species, I knew it would be a challenge. Additionally, the lodge where I was staying, specialized in gun hunters, and while they had never guided a bow hunter before, they were willing to give it a shot.  As a rule, I never book ‘gun only outfitters’ and always try to find someone who specializes in archery hunting; at the very least, someone who has experience with bow hunters, but after talking to everyone at an outdoor show, my gut was telling me to go for it. So I did.  I learned that Andrew would serve as my guide, as well as, my host.

It was a first class operation all the way.  The lodge was a spacious open log cabin with the kitchen, great room, and rec room all connected to one other.  The guest bunks were up a flight of steps, just off to a loft area.  Normally, these spaces were filled with hunters trading stories from the days hunt, however I had the whole place to myself.  The only problem, I foresaw, was an argument over which hockey game to watch, but that argument was avoided when the Flyers road trip through Edmonton coincided with my moose hunt.

The first morning of my hunt, Andrew and I decided to walk out of camp and head for some old timber lanes. I cautioned him the night before when we were laying out our plan that my physical conditioning was not what I wanted it to be, and that would limit the distance I would be able to walk.  Due to the birth of my second child, the time I normally spent conditioning, was spent taking care of my then wife and two daughters.  Of course, that also meant I was fifty pounds heavier than I planned to be on this trip.  At six feet three inches and three hundred pounds, I told Andrew to warn his friends that if they saw us in the woods not to mistake me for Sasquatch.

My plan was to pace myself so that I would last all day. The terrain was much different than I was used to, since most of my hunting had been in the eastern part of the U.S. that year.  Short walks to tree stands were not an option on this hunt.  The bush was thick with tamarack trees, willow trees, and other evergreen trees.  As I walked, it seemed as if I was constantly being hit in the knees by low hanging branches. Eventually, we got to an old logging road which vastly improved the long hikes. Even though it was late October, the air around me smelled more like Christmas.  The Rocky Mountains in this part of Canada seemed to only go in two directions: straight up and straight down.  Andrew figured our only chance of seeing a moose would be in the cut lines of forested trees, which we found going in various directions about every half mile to mile. The plan was that we would walk down these cut lines and cautiously approach all intersections looking each way down them, hoping we would spot a moose feeding.  My feet seemed to ache more with each step we took.  The extra weight I was carrying around my waste was not helping.  I thought I had broken in my boots well before leaving for Canada, however, I should have probably worn them more, on longer hikes, knowing how much ground we were going to cover on foot.  We covered a lot of territory the first day, with me taking several rests; by late afternoon we were still a mile or two from camp and my feet were on fire.  I had to request that Andrew return to camp, get his pick up, and come back to get me.  It was pathetic, I know, but the ten miles we had hiked on the first day had done me in.  My plan, since I was so tired, was to sit on a small hillside looking down on a small lake hoping to spot a moose, and if nothing else, I would enjoy the crisp, clean scent of the spruce trees I was sitting in. Even though I wished with all my might, nothing appeared; but I did get some much needed rest.

We were unsuccessful that first day, as I had only seen one small Whitetail buck.  I was really pissed at myself for being in such bad shape.  At that point, I had just made a commitment that I would try to go further each day.

We spent a second day driving around on many of the logging roads and trails, covering a lot of areas that looked good. My legs and feet were thankful for the change in tactics. We took one or two long hikes of two to three miles, and saw a lot of signs of moose, but we never did spot one. I was beginning to wonder if and when we would ever spot a moose. We took a drive west to the river, where it had been reported that there were a lot of Mule deer. We spent the last ninety minutes of day light glassing the valley around the river.  We ended the day with no luck on either species.

As the moon began to set, and the sun began to rise, the third morning was filled with promise.  We were up early and planned to take a ride towards the river where some hunters in a camp north of our lodge had reported seeing a moose on their return the second evening. After a warm cup of coffee, and one of Beth’s big breakfasts, we headed out the door.  The smell of the fresh brewed coffee, crisp bacon and scrambled eggs would have to carry me through the frigid morning.  The temperature was extremely cold with an expected high of only five degrees.  It seemed as if my breath froze as soon as it exited my mouth.  I was in my very own snow machine.

We had just left Andrew’s property line and were heading down a dirt road toward the spot where we were glassing the river valley last night.  I guess I was a little sleepy, or not paying much attention, but we had only gone about two miles when Andrew hit the brakes screaming, “Moose! Moose! They’re running down the cut line on your right!”

That was enough to get my heart racing, and get me wide awake.  As I was grabbing for the door, he quickly backed up the truck and reminded me to make sure it was a bull moose. When he backed up, I spotted a moose standing in the cut line at the edge of the thick bush. I quickly jumped out, looking through my binoculars to see whether it was a bull. In the dim morning light, I could barely make out a small set of antlers, confirming that it was indeed a bull. That was all I needed to get me going.  I quickly closed distance on the moose without him spotting me.  My heart was beating out of my chest as I closed from 700 yards to 50 in the knee deep snow.  As I got closer, I could see that this was a much bigger moose than what I had thought. The fast pace to close the distance on the moose made me feel a little light-headed, and I was sweating profusely despite the cold, morning air.  The last twenty yards, I crawled along the snowy ground on my stomach, inching closer to the bull.  Finally, when I got within 30 yards, I got on my knees behind a thick spruce tree and unleashed an arrow undetected by the bull.  BINGO!  My Carbon Express Pile Driver and Helix broad head tore through the moose.  The bull stumbled for a few steps and quickly turned towards the bush.   Andrew and I headed to the spot where we had last seen the moose before he went into the thick dense cover. We scanned the area looking for my arrow, and discussed what we had just seen, trying to play back the blurry events of the last hour.  As we walked towards the spot where we had seen him stumble into the brush, we assured ourselves that he had been hit, but were still unaware of just how well.  We could not find my arrow as it probably buried itself in the deep snow, but we did find a good blood trail and began combing the thick bush to see if he was there. I could not see anything once we were ten yards into the brush since it was so thick and dark.  You could smell the decay of the world under foot, in the cold, dark, moist environment. Andrew insisted the he could see a moose standing about 20 yards away. At least he was able to make out a hind leg of what he thought was a moose. We both scrambled around in the brush attempting to see him in hopes of getting a second shot, if necessary, but I was unable to get a clear shot through the thick brush before the moose took off.  Banging into the thick brush and trees that surrounded all, he and his horns made a racket throughout the bush as he rushed away from us.  I was sick to my stomach, I knew I had made what I thought was a great shot, yet the moose did not fall.

Andrew, being the expert moose hunter, felt that it was useless for the two of us to pursue the moose any longer without help from others. I yielded to his experience and local knowledge.  He suggested that we go back to the lodge and call his cousin Petey, and any other friends that he could round up. Petey and his dad were local legends and were like well-trained blood hounds, and were the best two trackers Andrew knew.  They had some sort of weird sixth sense that made them so good at finding moose.  We could tell from the blood sign that the moose was hit pretty well, and he should not be able to go much further.  Andrew and I decided it was best to position ourselves on the cut lines while others would push the moose out of the thick bush towards us. It sounded simple enough.

About two hours later, Petey, and his father Boone, the super trackers, had finally arrived at the lodge. I thanked them for dropping everything to come help us.  We took them back to the spot where we had first seen the moose, and showed them where it had entered the brush.  The plan was that I would walk down the cut line until I got to another large cut line, which was actually a power line right of way and twice the width of most cuts. If the moose had laid down, Andrew and Boone would track him, find him, and push him towards the east to me in order to get another shot as he crossed the cut line. Petey would position himself about halfway on the east-west line, and Nick, one of Petey’s brothers, would drive the pickup halfway down the north side of the bush to watch in case the moose went either north or south, instead of east, towards me. The plan sounded good and we all got into position. I waited anxiously for about half hour, hoping that at any moment the moose would explode or stumble out into the open and give me a chance to finish him off, or that I would hear Andrew yell that they had found him.

Soon, I saw Andrew and Boone coming out of the bush towards the cut line. They had reported over the walkie talkies that they had indeed been able to follow the blood trail and had even found where the moose had laid down a couple of times. It appeared that he had already moved across the cut line before I had got into position. Onto plan C we went.  It was for me to go back and get Petey, and the two of us would spread out on this power line cut heading south. Andrew and Boone would continue to follow the trail, which by all indications, appeared that the moose was headed south. We would watch in case the moose came across the cut line. I walked about a mile south and positioned myself, and Petey continued towards the dirt road another mile beyond where I stopped. Again, I waited, and after an hour of not hearing or seeing any sign of the moose, I returned to where I had originally taken my shot.

It was now around two in the afternoon when all of us joined up again on the dirt road. The old road ran east and west, and Petey had been watching it to see if the moose had been pushed that far south. We were now about one mile east, and three miles south, of where my original shot had been taken. By this time, Buk and another guide named Joe, had showed up at the lodge and learned of the moose push underway. The temperature had barley raised above zero, and I was thankful that so many people were willing to help us.  Andrew and Boone had been successful in tracking the moose south and had even found that he had laid down a couple more times. They were convinced that since he had not seemed to cross the dirt road, he must have stopped and was likely lying somewhere within the half mile section of bush just north of where we were all standing. Our plan (now plan “D”) was to have a meal at the lodge and then all five of them would attempt to make a push through the bush towards me, and I would set up in the southeast corner. The moose had been consistent, for the last several hours continuing in a southerly direction.  If we let him alone, we would either find him or get behind him with five pushers and get him further south until he would cross the dirt road, giving me another shot.  Hopefully, this time it would be a fatal one.

After a hot meal, we arrived back at the section of bush, and Buk stationed himself on the southwest corner so the he could see if the moose went south or west. I was positioned in the southeast corner so that I could watch in both directions. Boone would stay in the truck about half way down and honk if he saw anything. Everyone else went into the bush on the north side of the section, spread out, and made a push for the south in hopes of driving the moose in my direction. I stood anxiously for 20 minutes awaiting the outcome, all the while hearing voices and the sounds of the men walking through the bush. I paced up and down, checking for the most open spot where the moose might emerge.

Then I heard a faint crashing sound that gradually grew louder, I heard a crashing noise not too far from where I was standing and looked up just in time to see the moose hobbling out of the bush and heading across the cut line. I quickly raised my bow and lined him up in the peep sight as he was coming across the opening. For the first time, I got to see him and I could tell that I had only hit him in the right shoulder with my first shot this morning. It was hardly lethal, but had provided us a blood trail for four miles. I will never know whether it was because I was so anxious or excited or what, but somehow my shot totally missed! I couldn’t believe that I had MISSED the moose! It is like missing a minivan.  The moose was back in the bush and heading south!

Seeing my shot, and hearing the moose moan, everyone quickly arrived where I had been positioned, thinking the moose must be laying down and that this day’s hunt would be over. Unfortunately, no such luck.  He had quickly disappeared into the bush, still heading south. It didn’t take long to have everyone take up positions on the east and west side of the bush, as well as behind him, to continue pushing him south towards a couple of open meadows, again giving me a another chance. In his continued push south, he would pass by just east of the lodge and end up at a small lake.

I walked along with Pete, following the blood trail to where it intersected with a small dirt road running north and south. Buk and Andrew had taken the pickup truck down this road to end up at the small lake, keeping an eye out to see if the moose would come out of the bush there. By the time I had arrived where they had parked the pickup, Buk was already walking back to the truck from where he had just sighted the moose moving across a cut line. We suspected he would either hold up in the bush again or possibly continue towards the lake. Our only chance now was to get in the truck and head south far enough that we could catch a small dirt road heading west along the south end of the lake. We would get to see him unless he stopped in the bush and bedded down.

As we were heading west along the side of the lake, the moose was spotted on the west side, still hobbling. Now was the time for redemption! Either we could get a successful kill shot or we would probably lose him into the bush for the night. Finally, luck was back on my side.  I jumped out of the truck and got into position; I drew back on my bow and hit the moose perfectly with a double-long shot.  The moose continued to stumble for another fifty yards before collapsing in the fresh white snow.  We now had our moose down, right next to the lake. When we all finally got back to the lodge, we were telling and retelling all the aspects of the day’s events. We couldn’t believe it! We had started early in the morning and had been tracking and pushing the moose all day. It was a full day of excitement! Twelve hours of hunting, tracking and pushing to get our moose.  I say “our” because without the help of everyone involved I may not have ever found the moose.  We all commented on how much fun and excitement we had had! All in all, it confirmed what all hunters know…it is the excitement of the hunt, not the kill, which we all enjoy. All of us had a great day and enjoyed the hunt.

For me, I kept thinking of what we all would have missed if my first shot had been placed perfectly and the hunt would have been over in the first 15 minutes of the day. We would not have had this day of excitement, the fun of the pursuit, nor the companionship this one hunt provided. I guess I was not destined to finish the hunt early in the afternoon either because our day went well into the dark.

Indeed, Boone was a super tracker who never gave up, Andrew had proven to be an experienced hunter, and Pete, Buk, and Joe were great pushers.

What it took to get the moose out the bog by the lake and to the skinning shed is another story in and of itself! We had started at 6:00 am the next morning and finished at 11:00 pm. There is no way to pack anymore excitement into a day of hunting than what I experienced with Big Buk’s Guide Services that day. This had indeed been a push through the bush for moose that I will never forget, and will cherish as one of my greatest hunts ever.

Man, what a great day.

OKC® Adds to Award-Winning, American-Made Hunt Plus Series with Versatile Camp Knife

Ontario Knife Company® (OKC®) is widely known for making some of the very best knives on the market. The HUNT PLUS™ series, a recent “Best of the Best” Award winner with Field & Stream Magazine, builds on that reputation with the addition of the new, versatile HUNT PLUS Camp Knife.

Whether you’re sitting in hunting camp, preparing a meal, enjoying a relaxing camping trip with family, or back at home butchering out your game, the design of a good camp knife makes it an invaluable tool. This makes the HUNT PLUS Camp Knife a logical addition to the series. The knife has an overall length of 10.8 inches with a 5.6-inch long 55-57HRC-rated, uncoated stainless-steel blade that is precision ground to hold a razor-sharp edge.  Like the other knives in the series, the patent-pending handle is ergonomically formed from a durable synthetic-rubber compound, which allows for a solid, no-slip grip. It comes with a durable nylon sheath and has an incredible value MSRP of $44.95.

“The HUNT PLUS Camp Knife is a natural addition to the HUNT PLUS Series due to its extreme versatility for the hunter and outdoor enthusiast,” said Andrew Yates, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing. “Our HUNT PLUS Camp Knives are proudly backed by a lifetime warranty and are proudly Made in the USA. Like other HUNT PLUS knives, they are value-priced, making them a great buy for every budget.” 

Founded in 1889, the Ontario Knife Company® is an award-winning knife, cutlery, and tool manufacturer operating out of Upstate New York for over 125 years. OKC® produces a wide range of tools, including cutlery and kitchenware, hunting and fishing knives, machetes, survival and rescue equipment, science and medical tools, and tactical knives. OKC has a long tradition of building knives and tools for the U.S. military, producing high quality equipment that has seen continuous service since WWII. In addition to being a major supplier to the U.S. Armed Forces, OKC leverages a network of distributors, dealers, and major commercial retailers to sell its products nationwide and internationally to over 35 countries. OKC’s custom manufacturing division Jericho® Tool, advances capabilities including a broad-spectrum of injection molding, tool and die, and machining operations to provide white label and OEM manufacturing services for consumer and industrial goods. Collectively OKC’s product lines and manufacturing services reach the house wares, sporting goods, tactical, security, law enforcement & first responders, education, science & medical, and industrial & agricultural industries.

Until September

I am that mom who works full time.  I take call with my job.  Sometimes I miss sporting events, school parties and forget picture day. My youngest goes to daycare, my oldest have to stay at an after school program until I get off work.  When school is out, I have to get a babysitter or wake them up early and take them to someone.   I say I’d rather stay home and just be a mom, but truth is I’d never survive it.  It’s not my nature. Bring on the mom shaming!

I was raised to be independent, to stand on my own two feet at all costs.  My mom told me so many times it was okay to want a man, but never need him.  She worked full time my whole life.  I never knew anything different and I never judged her.  She never missed a sporting event if she didn’t have to.  She never told me I couldn’t participate in an extra curricular activity. She just made everything work, seamlessly in my eyes.  She literally never stopped doing for others and never did for herself.

Like my mom, I have a hard time saying, “no” to my kids.  I want them to experience everything, to find their niches in life.  I coached a t-ball and softball team one year, just so my kids would play.   My kids know that my job is both mentally and physically exhausting.  They see it all over my face when I’ve had a bad day.  I know I give them my all, and then some.  Everything I do, is for them, until September.

Kentucky opens whitetail archery season in early September.  Sorry kids, mom’s going hunting! You can bet that 3 weekends out of the month from September until January, my kids are with my husband and I am in a treestand waiting for whitetail.  This year, I missed basketball games.  I’d wake up at 3 a.m. and sneak out of the house.  By 6 a.m., I was tucked in my treestand, hating myself for missing that basketball game.  I’d beat myself up with thoughts like, ” I’m so selfish.  I have to be away from them all through the week at work, and then miss her game to hunt.”   “What if she does something awesome and I miss it?”  “Will she hold this against me when she’s older?” Then I would remember my sweet Momma.  She was always tired.  She never took time for herself.  She gave every ounce of her energy to someone else, all the time.  She may have physically been at events, but mentally she was already contemplating who was next on her list to please.   See, mom guilt is a real thing.  I have it, I’ll admit it.  But I won’t be consumed by it.

Taking time for myself makes me a better mom.  From that treestand at 6 a.m., my soul is revived.  All the exhaustion of life’s stresses is non-existent when the sun begins to rise over the ridge.  As the ground squirrels rustle the leaves beneath me, my breathing is deep and refreshing to my body.  Every noise is exhilarating, an awesome rush of adrenaline pulsates through my veins.  As hours pass, I am calmed by the gentle swaying of the wind through my tree.  Sometimes I nap (in a harness of course!).  As the sun begins to set behind me, that magic hour passes, I gather my things and tread out of the mountains.  When I get home, I am refreshed, renewed and revived with the days blessings.

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where a mom has to feel guilty for taking time for herself.  It is sad that people will read this and think I am selfish.  I learned a lot from my mom, that she never knew she was teaching me.  It is important to take time for yourself.  When you are the best version of yourself, others see it, it radiates like the suns first beams over that ridge.  Rather its hunting, fishing or shopping, take time for yourself momma.  Enjoy what you love every now and then, it only makes you better!

Browning Launches the Ultimate Deer Rifle

Browning has introduced a rifle that many are calling a “semi-custom production rifle.” What gives the X-Bolt Pro this classification is the level of specialized finishing touches and higher-end construction that is above the already top-tier X-Bolt family of hunting rifles.

The new Browning X-Bolt Pro has many features that set it apart from the average production rifle. Most notably, the stock is a second generation design that is constructed using a full 360° carbon fiber wrap with a compressed foam core. The stock is extremely lightweight, rigid and includes textured gripping panels, a palm swell and is coated with Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish for added protection.
The receiver of the rifle is corrosion-resistant stainless steel with the durable Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish applied. It is glass bedded into the stock for accuracy and is drilled and tapped for the solid X-Lock scope mounts.


The fluted barrel of the X-Bolt Pro is a lightweight sporter contour and features a new proprietary lapping process that provides consistent, superior accuracy, reduced fouling and easier bore cleaning. The barrel lapping also allows customers to avoid the need for a time-consuming break-in process. The muzzle of the barrel is threaded to accept the included muzzle brake or thread protector cap. This rifle is ready to go, right from the box.
The X-Bolt Pro has a classy looking spiral fluted bolt and enlarged fluted bolt knob that aids in sure operation. Like the stock, the barrel, bolt and bolt handle are coated with the Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish that looks great and mutes the color of the gun for better concealability from keen eyes.
Other Features:
  • Feather Trigger
  • Free-floated barrel
  • Bolt unlock button
  • 60° bolt lift
  • Rotary magazine
  • Tang safety
  • Inflex recoil pad
  • Sling swivel studs
The X-Bolt Pro is available in the following calibers:


Caliber

6.5 Creedmoor
308 Win
30-06 Spfld
300 Win Mag
28 Nosler
300 WSM
26 Nosler
7mm Rem Mag
270 Win

Barrel Length

22
22
22
26
26
23
22
26
22
Weight

6 lbs.    1 oz.
6 lbs.    1 oz.
6 lbs.   5 oz.
6 lbs.    9 oz.
6 lbs.  10 oz.
6 lbs.    5 oz.
6 lbs.  10 oz.
6 lbs.  10 oz.
6 lbs.    6 oz.
Suggested 
Retail Price
$1,999.99
$1,999.99
$1,999.99
$2,039.99
$2,069.99
$2,039.99
$2,069.99
$2,039.99
$1,999.99

For more information on Browning products, please visit the website at www.browning.com.

 

Winchester Adds to Popular XPR Rifle Line for 2017

Winchester® Repeating Arms is adding several new offerings to the bolt-action XPR®rifle line for 2017. This line of rifles has built a reputation for accuracy and dependability at a very affordable price.
New for 2017 is the XPR Hunter Mountain Country Range model. It features a polymer stock in the new Mossy Oak® Mountain Country Range camo. Other features found on the XPR include a M.O.A. trigger system, Perma-Cote matte blued metal surfaces to minimize glare, detachable box magazine, steel recoil lug, two position thumb safety and Inflex Technology Recoil Pad. It is available in many popular calibers from .243 Win. to .338 Win. Mag. Barrel length for short-action caliber rifles is 22″, short magnum and standard long action is 24″ and long action magnum calibers is 26″.  Average weight is 6¾ – 7¼ lbs.  Suggested retail is $599.99.
Winchester Repeating Arms will also add two new XPR Hunter Compact models for 2017. The XPR Hunter Compact will be offered in popular short-action calibers from .243 Win. to 325 WSM short magnum calibers. Suggested retail is $549.99. The new XPR Hunter Compact Mossy Oak® Break-Up Country® camo version is offered in the same calibers with a suggested retail of $599.99. Both rifles offer a shorter, 13″ length of pull that optimizes them for younger shooters and those with a smaller stature. Average weight is 6 ½ – 6 ¾ lbs. Barrel lengths are 20″ on short action standard calibers and 22″ on WSM calibers.
Features:
  • M.O.A. Trigger System
  • Bolt unlock button
  • Nickel Teflon® on bolt body
  • Detachable box magazine
  • Advanced polymer stock
  • Compact models feature shorter 13″ length of pull
  • Perma-Cote® matte black metal surfaces
  • Inflex Technology Recoil Pad
  • Steel recoil lug
  • Receiver is machined from solid steel bar stock
  • Two-position thumb safety
  • Button-rifled, free-floated steel barrel
  • Recessed target crown
For more information on Winchester Firearms, please visit www.winchesterguns.com.