Monday, October 6, 2014

Sometimes It Rains, Sometimes It Pours... A Summary of my Hunting Season

Sometimes it rains, sometimes it pours…

My hunting season has been far from typical for me this year.  As I finished my schooling, started a new job, bought and remodeled a house, and had a baby all around the time hunting season started, I didn’t expect to get out hunting very often.  My evenings and weekends leading up to hunting season were spent cleaning, remodeling, parenting, and being a husband instead of hiking, scouting, patterning, or watching the game I was after. 
Me and my son Carter
When opening weekend came around my son was not even a week old and I had a sticky situation on my hands.  My brother who had moved to Missouri for school had come up for opening weekend to spend time with our family hunting.  My wife assured me over and over that the weekend had been planned for a long time and that she would be okay with her mom and other family there to help out.  As bad as I wanted to go hunting, these feelings were all secondary to fulfilling the responsibility I had at home with my little family.  Even the night before we were to leave for the hunting trip, I had it in my mind that I would stay home and be there for my wife, two year old and our new baby.   Through much conversation and persuasion of my wife, I was told that I needed to go hunting but that I needed to get back as soon as possible.  

My brothers and dad hiking in the rain
Coming up with a game plan

Once I arrived at hunting camp, I was welcomed by my brothers and dad.  Camp was all set up earlier and all I had to do was show up and relax before opening day the next morning.   We sat around the fire catching up and talking about our high hopes of what the next day might bring.  The next morning we woke up early and headed out to our spot.  There was some light rain that made our movement seem stealth enough to walk right through a heard of elk without drawing their attention.   We set up where we had planned to hunt and let the time be the factor we were waiting on…  Unfortunately even with the time passing to shooting light, the rain had picked up and kept the elk in their beds.  We regrouped and decided to sneak around and try to locate the elk in the thick timber rather than get rained on while sitting watering holes and open clearings.   We hunted and hiked, trying to locate the elk that we had seen on our trail cameras but all we got was soaked!  After getting rained on for hours, we decided to get into the dark timber and start a fire to dry out a bit before we hiked out for the day.  Even though we didn’t see a single animal, the time spent with my brothers and dad in the woods was time well spent.  With my older brother being back east for schooling, times with the three of us brothers are becoming far too rare to let the opportunity pass.  We cooked some lunch and joked about our failed hunting plan and pondered what to do next…  If at this time I knew that this was about how the rest of my season would have gone I don’t know how much more I would have gone out chasing elk with my bow…
Drying off hiding under a tree...
Shortly after the opening weekend hunting adventure came to a close, my older brother headed back east and the rest of my family returned to our busy lives.  Every once and a while I would get out with a friend to see if we could find an elk but all of our efforts just seemed to result in tired legs and frustrated friends.  We had moments where we had elk surrounding us but it seemed that the elk were working together against us.  Just when we would think one elk was closing the distance and going to make a fatally wrong decision, another elk would draw him the other direction and change his mind.  This back and forth game went on every weekend I was able to get out hunting, which got a bit frustrating.  Even though I was frustrated and exhausted at the end of every hunt I was glad that I had the experiences, as well as glad I didn’t injure an animal by making a poor shot. 

When the season came to a close, my younger brother and I had planned to go out the day before the season closed and see if we could find a deer to fill our doe tags.  I need to mention that as I focused on elk during the archery season, my little brother spent his summer and archery season time patterning deer.  My brother had a lot of frustrating times while he spent hours and hours patterning and locating the deer he was after.  He had two stands stolen (the ones I have complained about losing on my twitter and Facebook account!), including his wife’s new ladder stand!  Even with all of the bad misfortune, he was still persistent and planned on filling a tag during the archery season. 

The evening we had picked to go out, his son got sick and he decided to stay home and be a dad.   As excited as I was to get out and attempt to fill my tag I recognized a pattern in my hunting season when this happened!  For the last few weekends I had spent my time chasing what I had labeled “trophies” which were nothing more than animals who wandered the woods.  My efforts were making me frustrated and even a little upset at times.  The time I was spending at home, with my real trophies, I was happy and full of joy.  I do want to clarify that I would always pick my family over hunting even before I made this connection during hunting season.  This lesson was just a reminder to me that my time in the woods was just that… time in the woods nothing more and nothing less… it was not bad, nor did I feel guilty for it, but it wasn’t time with the trophies that fill my life with joy. 
Some of the elk I enjoyed watching before the season started

The very next day, my brother sent me a text and said that even though it was pouring rain (just like our first hunting trip of the year) he was planning on giving it one more shot to fill his tag.  Shortly after that text, my wife called me and asked if I was planning on hunting one last time before the season closed… She told me, “Might as well give it a shot,” … soo…. My mind was made up that I was going to end the season the same way I started it in the pouring rain.

As my brother and I both sat in the pouring rain, I was beginning to doubt if our efforts were warranting the same results as the rest of our archery season.  He discovered that the tree stand he was planning on sitting in had been stolen and the rain had picked up to an absolute down pour.  Just when I thought about getting out of my stand, my brother texted me and told me that he knew where the deer were bedding down and that he would head in that direction to see if he could get a shot or spook one my way… I told him I would be the one that tried to spook one toward him, seems how he had put in all the work in the off season, but he told me this is what he wanted to do… within minutes a doe white tail deer hopped into my clearing at 35 yards away and turned to look at what had pushed her out of her bed… this would turn out to be the worst and last decision she made in her life… My 100 grain Muzzy laid her down for a dirt nap in 30 yards from where she stood.  My brother and I both celebrated that not only did his plan work EXACTLY how he said it would, but that we had filled a tag on the absolute last moment of archery season! We were counting our blessings that we found her when we did in the weather that we were faced with… and then the work began!

My deer as she was when I found her
Me with my doe

The lesson I learned this hunting season is that no matter what life throws at you, don’t give up and keep your eye on the prize!  Even though my trophies (my family) were all at home when I created a wonderful memory filling my tag with my brother, my heart and mind were with my family more during this hunt then they had been earlier in the year.  The weather and my season did not go the way I had hoped, but at the end of the storm there is always a rainbow… you just have to look hard enough in the right place to find it.  So in other words, no matter how much your life may be raining or even pouring… keep enduring and enjoy the ride because your times spent in the rain help you realize how amazing and the rainbows of life are.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

DIY Trail Camera Safety/Bear Box

Two DIY Trail Camera Box's
One main reason for DIY (Do It Yourself) projects is to save a little cash.  This projects was a great one for me for exactly that reason, but sadly I can't claim that the idea was my own...  I have to give the credit to my buddy Destry who showed me this DIY project as well as let me share it on my blog.

**Disclaimer - This DIY project may not be a cheaper rout for you if you don't have an electrician as a friend or family member who can get the supplies at a low price. 

Trail cameras are a great took for scouting as I made mention in one of my posts last month.  The price and importance of these cameras usually isn't cheap so protecting them is one task many of us don't skip out on. Purchasing a "Bear Box" or "Security Box" for your trail camera can be expensive especially if you add it to price you've already paid for the camera, batteries, and a memory card to go in it!  So saving a few buck still may not make your spouse less mad at you for spending that much money, but at least you can tell them that you tried to save every penny you could.

So here is what you need: Electrical enclosure, metal drill bit, jigsaw (or saws-all), and spray paint. 

DIY Trail Camera Box
What I would encourage you to do is shop around at Home Depot, Lowe's , or any electrical wholesale store and find the cheapest price for a box that best fits your camera.  If you have a friend or family member who is an electrician (like my friend Destry) have him see if he can pick one up for a cheaper price.

After finding the best size electrical box, I would suggest finding a way to snug up your camera to keep it from sliding around if the box is not a perfect fit.  The trail camera I used for this project is the Wild Game Innovation's Lights-Out camera.  I just had some old packing foam laying around the house from some packages I had received so I cut a few pieces to make my camera nice and snug.
DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box

Once your camera is secure, mark out where your camera sensor and lens are so that you can make the appropriate cut in the outside lid.  With the WGI Lights-Out camera the sensor and lens are in a very odd spot and are perfect circles so I was able to cut a whole just using a drill bit (once again thanks to an electrician) which was the perfect size.  If your cut is not that easy, I would suggest using a jigsaw with a metal blade or even a saws-all.  I would suggest cutting just slightly larger than the lens and/or the sensor just to make sure that the metal box is not interfering with the functionality of the camera.

DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box

After cutting the appropriate openings, the bear box is now your canvas to decorate any way you want.  With mine we just did a quick spray paint with a few colors to help it blend into the pine trees that we would be putting it on.  Another suggestion for decking out your new box is to gather sticks, leaves, and even bark from the area you are placing your camera and then cover the box with adhesive and sprinkle on the items you gathered.  Once you let those items harden onto your new bear box, a quick spay with a product like Mod Podge can set the elements more secure so that your trail camera box is now decked out with natures goodness!  In this process, just be sure that the opening you made for your camera are clear of debris. 
DIY Trail Camera Box

The last and final step is to get your trail camera in the box and into the mountains to see if your DIY project works!  Like I stated earlier, this DIY is fun and may be less expensive than buying one online but do your research, if you can find a box to fit your camera for cheaper than this project won't do anything except you grow more facial hair and give you the right to carry your man card with pride!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rules Were Made To Be Broken?

As many of you man have heard, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has recently made the decision to lower the hunting age of 12 years old down to 10 years old.  As great as that is for many reasons, this policy does not come into effect until July 1st 2014... SOOOOO  The Idaho Department of Fish and Game indicated that for this year's controlled hunts those new hunters that would become eligible to hunt this next fall after the new policy could NOT apply for controlled hunts until AFTER July 1st 2014, but they could put in after July 1st for the second chance drawings....

Unfortunately, Over 2000 underage applicants were able to apply for controlled hunts even though the policy stated that they were ineligible .  Once this year's draw results were out, IDFG allotted over 1000 tags illegally to these ineligible underage applicants.  By doing this IDFG not only significanlty lowered the odds for legal applicants to draw on controlled hunts but also gave unfair treatment and preference to some 9 and 11 year old hunters than the other 9 and 11 year old hunters did not receive because they followed the law/policy.  The biggest issue with this is that the IDFG has sent a strong and loud message to these hunters and their families that fish and game laws are not important enough to enforce of follow!

I myself won't deny that I am a little jealous that I have been putting in for a big bull elk tag for 16 years now with no avail while a ineligible 9 year old hunters is allotted the tag I have earnestly and patiently desired for the past 16 years... The bigger issue to me is the future of hunting! I have heard people say that these 1000+ youth who were allotted tags need to keep their tags to keep their interest and desire to hunt at such a young age... What about those other 9 and 11 year old hunters who followed the law yet get to watch or hear about some other 9 or 11 year old go out and hunt while they stay at home... If we are sincerely desiring our youth to gain a passion and interest in hunting, shouldn't we start by teaching them about the laws of the land and how important it is to follow these laws and rules no matter what!  I am extremely disappointed in the IDFG who have shown these hunters and their families that rules and policies are not important enough to enforce or follow.  I am also disappointed in these families who tool their 9 or 11 year old and knowledgeably allowed them to illegally put in for a controlled hunt and sent a message to their youth that it was okay to go against what the law stated.  What type of hunting culture is this creating? What kind of message are we sending to the youth (and adults) in this state about the Department of Fish and Game? IDFG made a statement this week that they would allow these underage applicants to keep their illegally allotted tags but then recently stated that they would reconsider the issue and make a statement next week concerning the matter.

What is your opinion?
Should the Department of Fish and Game allow these youth to keep their tags?
Should the Department withdraw these tags (individual and group applicants) and refund the money?

If they withdraw the tags:

Should the Department allow all 10 and 11 year old youth to apply and draw again?
Should the Department draw all remaining tags with the unsuccessful legal applicants?
Should they withdraw the tags and allow all the 2nd choice applicants to have a chance at the tags?
Should they just withdraw the tags and go forward without allotting these 1000+ tags to other hunters?

Or do you have another solution or opinion?
What if it was you.... what if it was your child?... what if you had been putting in for 16 years and never drawn?... :)