Tuesday, September 30, 2014

weekend recap: 0 for 2

Over the weekend I made it my mission to spend some serious time in the deer stand. I haven't been able to deer hunt much this season so far, and last weekend was perfect for it. Not hot at all, nice and overcast, and more than promising. "Promising," you ask? Yes. After checking a few trail cams, I was after this guy:
I knowww. He's a stud. Pardon the grainy photo - it's a screen-shot from the video I have of him sneaking away from the field just after dark. I figured that even if I didn't see him, I could bag a doe and help fill our freezers. We are all running on empty as far as venison goes, and the upcoming fall and winter months are just begging for some venison chili.
So, I hopped in the stand around 4 PM on Saturday, got settled, and waited. Knowing that dark was over 3 1/2 hours away, I had brought my iPad in anticipation of reading. In actuality, I didn't even take it out of my backpack. I was so hellbent on seeing any deer at all that big buck, I practically bugged my eyes out of my head scanning the edge of the field and the woods beyond, hoping to catch one sneaking by.
After more than two hours of seeing absolutely nothing, three nice turkeys (1 gobbler & 2 hens) came out to do a little bugging in the field. They were pretty entertaining to watch, and they stayed in the field around 45 minutes. At one point, I accidentally knocked my water bottle into my chair with a loud bang, but they weren't startled. At all. Barely lifted their heads to see what the noise was. I swear, they absolutely know when it is not turkey season... And when it is...
Alas, around 7:15 a little tiny doe wandered into the field to feed. "Tiny" as in "just lost her spots, like, yesterday" tiny. Too little for me to want to shoot, I watched her until it was just too dark to see. I would have taken a photo of her through the scope, but she kept looking back towards one corner of the field like another deer was going to come out, so I kept as still and as quiet as possible. But nothing ever came out... Boo. Having had no luck Saturday evening, decided I would get to bed early, wake refreshed, and give it a try Sunday morning! 
Well. Little did I know that my body would decide that 3:15 AM was the appropriate time to wake up "refreshed". Wide. Ass. Awake. Oh joy. Even though it made for a pretty sleepy afternoon, it did allow me to get into the stand by 5:45 with no problem. So there I sat. As quiet as a church mouse, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark and for the sun to rise just enough to see across the field. I was convinced that a deer (preferably a big buck) would creep up from the edge of the woods to check out the food, and step forward just enough for me to take a clear & clean shot. CONVINCED.
By 10:30 I had not seen one deer. Not one! My only entertainment came from my three turkey friends who came back to the field for a little breakfast. I hunted hard, again, and made sure nothing was going to sneak by me.
I had one moment of excitement where I was almost positive a deer was coming towards me through the woods to my right, only to discover that a monster fox squirrel had decided to make it his mission to trick me for the next 20 minutes. Thanks.

Bottom line? I came out of the weekend empty-handed. I was 0 for 2 on my weekend of hunting. I gave it my best college try, and plan on doing the same thing as many more times this season as I can. Those turkeys, by the way? Even less scared of me that morning. I had packed up all of my gear, taken off my face mask & gloves, climbed down from the stand, and was walking out of the field before they decided to run waddle off. While they are very fast, and I know turkeys think they're running, that's not running. They look too silly to call that running. Do you know what I mean?
Someone large had passed this way very recently...

It's still early in the season, and the rut has not yet begun. I'll tell you what, though. I will be in that stand as soon as it is underway. Who's with me?

Friday, September 26, 2014

aaand I'm back

Or perhaps I just had a really good, lucky day. I shot doves with my dad last Wednesday, and went into the field a little skeptical after my last experience in this field... 
The afternoon just started off on a good foot. It was a little cloudy, keeping things nice and cool. Well, around 80*, which is waayyyy better than a solid 100*. We headed into the field earlier than normal, hoping that the weather would bring in the birds to feed earlier as well. And... That's exactly what happened. Tons of doves in the field when we pulled in. Yes! We quickly pulled out our gear and got set up.
It was even cool enough for old-lady Dixie to join us. It always makes me nervous when people bring their dogs on super hot hunts... Heck, I think I might have a heat stroke, so I can't imagine how a black or chocolate lab covered in fur must feel. Whew.
Then, we started shooting. And by shooting, I mean bagging doves. I know that sounds so bratty and full of it, but I really have not ever had such a successful, quick hunt. I won't go into every detail of the whole hunt, but I will tell you this: I (somehow) shot my first 5 doves in my first 5 shots, and killed my limit in 1 box of shells, and was finished in a little over an hour. Say WHAAAT?! I know! How I went from questioning if there was even shot in my shells to actually looking like I had held a gun before, I will never know. Trust me, I missed some PIE shots, naturally, but over all I would say that it was a preeetty good hunt.
Good ol' Otis and I just had to toast with a cold beer after the hunt. My confidence is back up, and will hopefully continue as the season goes on... Perhaps it will carry me into duck season as well! Or maybe I just shot myself in the foot (no pun intended) and jinxed the whole thing.
Hopefully this large rainbow I saw on the way home from the hunt will bring some good luck. And when I saw large, I mean it was the. biggest. one. I have ever seen. It was over me for at least 20 minutes while I was driving on the highway, and I could see where it was reflecting off of the road.  Pretty neat. 
Nothing to do with hunting, but pretty neat. 

Ok, enough of that. Have a fun weekend & happy hunting!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

in the news: helice

If you saw this post, you'll remember that shooting skeet is not only fun, but a practical activity when it comes to maintaining your shooting skills. [Side note: maybe I should have practiced more before dove season started? More on that tomorrow...] Well, towers and traps can get kind of boring, particularly when you are familiar with  where you're shooting & have a pretty good idea of where the target will go. I say "boring," rather than "easy" because we all have days that we just can't hit an "easy" shot, or the broad side of a barn.

Enter: Helice. Have you heard of it? This article was passed along to me at work - an office in which I am the only female, yet am known for my affinity for hunting, shooting, and well, all that this blog is about, really. Honestly, if I tell them I am going out of town one weekend, the response is typically, "So what are you going to shoot," or, "what season is in?" Am I that predicable? Apparently. But, back to helice.
Helice shooting uses little targets called ZZ birds that have wings attached to each side. These wings can (and will) catch the wind and send the target flying in any direction it chooses - entirely unpredictable to the shooter, just like a real live bird. I will save you my butchered explanation of exactly how this happens and what is involved (go here or here for that), but essentially the shooter has just two shots to hit the target, which separates from the propellers, and then has to land in a certain area, called the "ring." There is a medley of specific measurements to the ring and location of the little launchers that send the targets flying, but you get the general idea. The shooter also might not know which launcher will send the next target...
So, you don't know where the target will come from (or when), you have no idea what its flight path will be, and you have about 1.2 seconds to comprehend all of that, and take the shots. Bottom line? It's tough. But, I also want to do this. Really really badly. Probably embarrass myself just as badly, but I would love to try it. The US also apparently has a pretty badass team... Pretty cool, huh?
Here is a video from a helice grand prix. You can see how the targets fly, and exactly how difficult they can be to hit even for world-class shooters! Plus, the narrator is British - he makes it sound incredibly intense, and it's even more entertaining.

Who wants to join?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

back & forth - weekend recap continued

As I mentioned, we did a little bit of dove hunting and a little bit of fishing over last weekend. The constantly changing weather made it a little difficult to plan ahead for our activities, so we basically flew by the seat of our pants. Start to see a few doves come into the field? Let's get out there and sit. No doves flying? Let's try our luck on the pond. Procrastinating getting in the car to drive back to Charleston? Let's get back in that dove field for a little while! That is truly how our day went.
After getting a text message that they were having some luck fishing and I made the decision to move from the field to the pond, I packed up my gear (gun unloaded and over my shoulder). Naturally, right after I had done so, three doves flew directly over me. Of course they did. Pie shots. Oh well, what can you do? I went down to fish, although it was a futile effort on my part. John, Allston, and Davis did have some success though!
Allston's nice red
John's red wanted a close-up
We did think that this whopping monster of a trout was hilarious. Enter: the tried-and-true "arms out" shot that anglers everywhere use to make their catch look larger than it really is. In reality, it was comically tiny, but pretty nonetheless!
As the afternoon wore on, John and I figured we should start heading back to Charleston. But you know what? The thought of sitting back in the dove field sounded much better then getting in the car, so that's what I did. A few of us headed back out and all sat together, "hunting" and enjoying our last few minutes in the field for the day. I shot at and knocked down the only dove that flew over me, so it wasn't exactly a barrel burner, but we managed to keep ourselves entertained.
I had to scold Prine when I called him over to get in a photo with me. Why? Because after his explorations around the field, he came back to me looking like this:
He had about 400 cockaburs (aka sand spurs/ rockachaws) nice and matted and tangled in his ears and fur... And he could not have been more proud.

I think his day was just as much fun as ours, if not more so. Don't you just love weekends when you can do whatever suits your mood?