2011, A Very Good Year

30 04 2012

This post was originally posted on Audacious Women.  http://andreamain.com/2011-a-very-good-year/

2011 marked my come back to hunting, following my recovery from a bilateral mastectomy due to breast cancer.  I felt like I had 2 years to make up for, so I wanted to hunt everything, everywhere!  Rifle hunting was fairly easy to pick back up, but archery eluded me for this year at least.  Thank goodness for cross bows!

I started the year off hunting for whitetail deer on Anticosti Island in Canada.  My husband and I hunted with Safari Anticosti, and enjoyed every minute of it.  The first day, my husband spotted a really nice buck as I was being dropped off where I was to hunt.  He told me to make sure I got him, I told him I would.  I positioned myself on a steep bank overlooking the river, and waited.  Eventually 2 doe come out to feed on the river banks, so I was hopeful that a buck would follow.  They fed for a long time before I finally spotted the buck from earlier.  I had to wait for him to cross the river, and come near the does, before I could get a good shot.  I squeezed off my shot and watched him disappear into the tall grass.  After waiting what seemed like forever, I went to track him.  I found the blood trail easy enough that is until it he crossed the river.  It took a few minutes of searching both sides before I found the trail again.  When I finally walked up to him, I could not see his head.  Any part of it!  He must have died in mid leap, and took a header into the soft muck surrounding the river.  I couldn’t move him, so I started to dig him out.  Finally I could see his antlers, and excitement really settled in.  I had to wait for my husband and guide to show up after dark to get him drug out.  He was a huge bodied buck.  When he was hung in the meat shed, his head was to the ceiling and he was almost sitting on the ground.  By the end of the week, I knew I had the biggest buck in camp.   When we got to the airport, it became obvious that I also had the biggest buck from the island!  I had also taken a doe on the last day, to fill my tag with some good eating.

Safari Anticosti Buck

Our next hunt was for alligators with Deep South Outfitters in Florida.  The temperature was only in the 40’s, not at all what you would want for gators.  We went on a short boat ride before Billy started to call.  Instantly we had a gator rushing toward the boat.  In no time it was within a couple of yards of where I was standing, with the crossbow.  I shot, and there was no splashing or action of any kind.  While I feared I had missed, Kenny realized I had spined it.  This was the most adrenaline packed hunt I think I have ever been on!

Florida Alligator

Immediately after getting home from Florida, I drove to Illinois with my daughter Shannon.  We joined a Ladies Archery Hunt at Eagle Lakes Outfitters.  Vicki Cianciarulo was trying to get to film footage for The Choice hunting show. I was using a crossbow with a handicapped designation, which I was not happy at all about.  Hunting was really slow for the first couple of days, to hot, to windy.  Finally I had a nice buck start down toward me, but a doe stomped her foot and snorted at him, so I place my bolt into her.  She ran only 20 yards or so, but right into the lane that I would be picked up on.  My kind of tracking and dragging!  Eventually 3 doe were shot for the group, 1 was also lost to coyotes, and I had a buck that we could not locate the blood trail on.

I finally got to hunt at home, and took my granddaughters out in the stand with me.  Sarah has been hunting for a couple of years, but this was Ginger’s first exposure to it.  On the evening of the first day of rifle season, Ginger was with me when I took a doe.  She was so excited; she is now intent on taking her hunter safety certifications so she can hunt with me next fall.

I happened upon a Ladies in Camo hunt at Racknine Outdoors in Alabama, at the last minute.  I flew down for a buck, doe, hog, coyote hunt.  My first morning, I was able to take a nice 8 point buck that was feeding about 80 yards out.  He had come into the clearing and made a scrape right in front of me.  I also had 2 young buck sparring and playing.  After I shot, the young buck continued their play for another 15 minutes or so.  I have never hunted anywhere that a gunshot didn’t clear the area of all deer.  The blood trail on the 8 point was almost no existent, but we did locate him about 75 yards from where he was shot.  The next day I was stalking hogs, when I located a group in the pines, they were about 75 yards out.  I had a large sow cross an opening that I had, that was about the size of a coffee can.   I took the shot, and watched as she only went 2 or 3 feet before she dropped.  I tried to get on the hogs again, but they joined a group totaling over a hundred, and even with that many hogs, I could not get a clear shot at any others.

Alabama Buck

I know I title this 2011, but I am including the first half of 2012 also, since it all is part of the same license year.  I joined another Ladies in Camo hunt at Mountain View Plantation in Alabama, in January.  This was a tough hunt.  Only one buck was shot, and that was by my cousin Eva.  She is a new hunter, and I had taken her along to help her get experience.  We also hunted quail, which is always a good time, and shot the 5 station they have.

Racknine Hog

February had me back at Racknine (My favorite place to hunt!).  This time was a couple’s hunt for hogs and coyotes.  What a wonderful group of people we had at this hunt.  Alabama had had some severe weather, including tornados shortly before we arrived, and the hogs had made themselves scarce.   By then end of the weekend only 1 hog was shot.  We really had to work hard at this hunt.

Osceola Turkey

Turkey season finally arrived, and we were off to Florida, to hunt with Deep South Outfitters again.  I filled my 2 tags with Osceolas.  The birds were not responding to calls, so I sat in wait near a well-used trail to a feeding area.  Finally I had 3 toms come into view, and when my guide said they were shooters, I shot!  This was my first Osceola ever!!  I took another jake before I was done, but then I got to hog hunt while my husband tried to fill his tags.  I had crept into a tree stand before light, listening to hogs not more than 30 feet away!  By the time I could make out dark shadows, I had a dozen hogs in front of me.  It was nerve racking to know the hogs were right there, and it was not light enough to shoot yet!  I don’t think I waited more than a minute once the sun came up.  I picked a big red sow with black spots.  She was almost underneath my tree stand, not exactly the shot I would like to take.  While the angle was extreme, she only went about 30 yards, before she piled up under the palmettos.  What a great trip!!

Florida Hog

The weather completely turned against us after that, so we headed to Racknine again for some more hog hunting!  Ladies in Camo was having a couples hunt so we joined them.  Dale and I were spot and stalking when I had a hog grunting and squealing, just as the hog was coming into view, Dale shot.  I thought he had shot the hog, but he was facing the wrong direction when I turned to him.  My first thought was that he was screwing around, until he showed me the dead coyote.  From my angle I could not see the coyote approaching.  Later that morning, we joined 2 other hunters to go after hogs in the palmettos.  We had gone a couple of hundred yards into the woods, when you could hear hogs grunting and squealing.  I climbed onto a leaning tree (about the only way I can climb a tree!) and scanned the area for the hogs.  I could see for about 20 yards, and we now knew the hogs were further than that.  We slowly made our way toward the herd and positioned ourselves to take a shot.  Jeanne was trying to get a clear shot on a nice gray hog, but it never presented a good shot.  Meanwhile I had a small black hog that I was going to shoot, when a much bigger hog crossed in front of it.  I told everyone I had a shot, and took it.  The hog dropped in her tracks!  That was the easy part.  We now had to drag that hog back to the HuntVe through swampy muck.  We all worked hard to get it out.  Dale and I were the only ones left to hunt the next morning, and Dale was able to take a big boar.  This group of 5 hunters, at Racknine, had managed to take; 1 turkey, 1 coyote and 3 hogs.

Racknine Hog

Each hunt I am finding that I am getting stronger, and more like myself.  I keep pushing myself to build back the muscle that was lost.  This upcoming hunting year is pretty well filled already, I have 5 hunts scheduled, with hopes of more.  My next hunting season starts in June when we are going bear hunting in Saskatchewan, and this fall I will be going on my first archery hunt with my compound bow since my surgery.  I am already pulling 40 pounds on my bow, I would like to be built up to 45 lbs. before archery season begins.  With work, I will be there!  Sometime I feel like the 6 million dollar woman, I am getting faster, stronger, better!





Little Runts are kicking butt!

29 04 2012

This post was originally posted on Ladies in Camo Field Journal.  http://ladiesincamo.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/little-runts-are-kicking-butt/

I am absolutely thrilled to tell you that my granddaughter took a fantastic long beard turkey this morning.  She was hunting with her mother (my daughter Shannon).  As they made their way to their hunting spot, they had turkeys gobbling on the roosts.  Since Sarah was using a crossbow, they set up quickly, putting the decoy only 10 yards from their position.  Shannon yelped a couple of times shortly after daylight, and was rewarded with gobbling from 2 toms.  They could just glimpse the tom to the east in the morning light of the pink and purple sunrise.  As these 2 fine birds made their way to the girl’s position, a hen started talking, and lead them both away.

Both Shannon and Sarah maintained their positions, and listened and waited.  Calling occasionally.  Soon they were rewarded with another Tom heading their way, this time with 8 hens in tow.

Sarah’s gobbler with 10″ beard

Three jakes were bringing up the rear, just coming off of the ridge.  These birds all worked their way over 400 yards to come into Shannon’s call.  At 30 yards Shannon quietly told Sarah the birds were in range.  Sarah replied “wait for it, wait for it”.  When the tom pecked the head of her Little Runt decoy, Sarah released her bolt, and the turkey fell to the ground with out even a twitch!  The rest of the birds never understood what had happened, and continued to peck around on the ground.  She quickly told her mother to re-cock the crossbow, there were more birds coming their way, and Shannon still had her tag.  Unfortunately they were only the jakes, and they were left to grow for next year.

Sarah’s long beard had a 10″ beard, 1″ spurs, weighed 23 pounds, and was shot with a Ten-Point Crossbow!!  Sarah had been practicing hard for this day.  She started shooting the crossbow, and has become an excellent shot with it.  Just 2 nights ago, her and I went over different scenarios on birds coming into the decoy, and where to shoot with the crossbow.  She follows instruction wonderfully!

Her turkey was almost as big as she is!




Hog Hunting Basics

25 04 2012

Originally posted on Ladies in Camo Articles.  http://ladiesincamo.com/hoghuntingbasics.html

Since Ladies in Camo is giving away a 4 day hog hunt to one very lucky person, I thought a few basics on hog hunting would be in order.

Feral pigs are known by many different names; wild hogs, wild boars, Russian boars or even razor backs.  They are hooved animals that range in size from 75 pounds to a high of around 440 pounds for a large boar.  They look a lot like the domestic pig, only with longer coarser hair, with the adults sporting a mane that has thick coarse bristles.  They range in color from the blacks, grays, reds, browns, to pale tans.  They may also have belting or spotting in these colors.  Black is the predominate color.  Their snouts, which are long, flexible and rugged, are used for the never ending rooting.  They will eat most anything they come in contact with, which can include any type of grains, nuts, acorns, roots, mushrooms and even dead animals.  Their feet are cloven, similar to a deer’s hooves, but more rounded and flat tipped. The boars can have tusks that can be 3 to 5 inches in length.  They use these to establish dominance, and because of this, they have developed a shield comprised of cartilage, scar tissue and callus which becomes thicker and stronger as they age.

Piglets of all colors

Feral hogs have a very keen sense of smell, and a good sense of hearing.  Their eyesight is thought to be poor and nearsighted.  They are quick runners and swimmers, able to run up to 30 mph.

The sows can breed as young as 6 months of age, with gestation of around 115 days.  They can have litters ranging from 4 to 12 piglets each time.  Estimates are that a single sow can produce over 1000 offspring in a 5 year period.  That in itself is how hog populations can quickly get out of control, and can cause serious damage to crops and vegetation.

In Alabama you will need a small game hunting license to hunt for hogs.  These licenses can be bought for a few day hunt or for the entire year.  While you do not need to have the license displayed, you must have it on yourself, and have identification with you.  Licensed hunters can shoot pigs year round and there is no bag limit on the hogs.  You can purchase your license online at  https://www.alabamainteractive.org/dcnr_hf_license/welcome.action.

Hogs often will appear in food plots, hardwood bottoms, or pine woods.  You can determine when they have been in an area based on the rooting that may cover a large area.  I have been in areas that resemble a rototilled garden, the rooting was that extensive.  You may also see trees that the hogs have been rubbing on to scratch an itch, remove the dried mud or even parasites from their skin.  These trees may have mud several foot up the trunk, and there may be pieces of hair stuck in the bark.  Wallows will be present in wet soils, basically an indentation holding mud or water.  Feral hogs feed most heavily in the early morning and late evening, spending the rest of their time sleeping or relaxing in their mud wallows.  Since wild hogs do not have sweat glands they use the wallows to cool down and to also rid themselves of fleas or ticks.  You may even be able to smell a sweetness like maple syrup when you are near a group of hogs.  Keep in mind the hogs frequent some of the same areas as cottonmouth, rattlesnake and copper head snakes.  You will probably want snake chaps or boots to protect yourself.

The hunting of wild hogs is done several ways; tree stands, blinds, still hunting, with dogs or spot and stalk.  Most all weapons have been used to take hogs, from bowie knives to high power rifles.  Typically compound bows, cross bows and rifles are the weapons of choice.  Feral hogs tend not to be aggressive toward hunters, but they will charge if they are cornered, injured or if their young are threatened.

From the tree stands and blinds, you will need patience.  The stands are typically positioned to ambush the hogs either on their way to or from food plots, bedding areas or water.  This method is the most common, and great success can be had hunting this way.  I recently had 15 hogs around the tree stand I was in.  I was able to take my time, pick the hog I wanted, and make a great shot.  You also will have the advantage of being up high enough to see where your hog goes after he is shot.

Spot and stalk is done on foot, going to where hogs are known to frequent.  While stalking, you can get away with rustling leaves, but try to refrain from snapping twigs and branches.  You can usually hear hogs squealing and grunting from 40 yards away or more.   If you walk slowly, stop and listen often, and keep the wind in your favor; you may be able to get within shooting range.  Do not expect the hogs to stand still for you though,  they are in a constant state of motion.  Recently 4 of us stalked to within 20 yards of a herd of hogs, and watched for several moments, undetected.  Only one good shot was presented and taken.

Still hunting involves the slow deliberate movements, looking for tracks, listening for sounds, watching for signs.  The accepted method of still hunting covers a mere 100 yards in an hour.

Once you have located your hogs, shot placement is of the utmost importance.  Like any animal, hogs will perish quickly with a well-placed shot.  Their thick hides, shields and thick fat create a tough barrier for broad heads or bullets.  A broadside shot should be placed in the shoulder area, lower is preferred.  A broken shoulder will put the hog down, and give you time for a follow up shot if needed.  When quartering away, place the shot to penetrate the vitals between the shoulders.  A neck shot works well for a rifle.  Some employ the head shot, but if you are not confident of this shot, go for one of the larger body targets.  If you are hunting for meat, take a smaller hog or two.  The larger boars, while impressive, are tougher and less tasty.

I tracked a group of hogs that easily numbered around 100, in every size imaginable.  They were making enough noise to cover any sound I was making.  I had several groups on 3 sides of me; this was a pure adrenaline rush!   Don’t let yourself become distracted by the numbers of hogs, still shoot at a spot on one hog, not just at a group of them.

Shot Placement on Hogs

Yearly, feral hogs do nearly $90 million in damage to crops in Alabama alone, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. This problem isn’t just isolated to Alabama. Feral pigs are in 44 states and at least 4 of the Canadian provinces.  They do about $1.5 billion in damage to farm crops nationally each year.  This is all the encouragement I need to hunt hogs as often as possible!  Whether you are in a tree stand or on the ground, there is nothing quite like hog hunting.  Watch out though, it becomes an addiction!

Shot Placement Image;  http://www.texashuntfish.com/app/view/Post/10379/Shot-placement-on-hogs





My Meatloaf Deer

24 04 2012

During the archery season of 2008, I managed to tag along with my husband and his friend Dan on their guy time hunt.  We all were wanting to fill some of our tags.  They both like to spot and stalk, while I am less comfortable doing that with a bow.  Dan shot an 8 point buck at 15 yards, that had worked his way around an oil tank. He also shot a doe at a nearby creek, as she made her way down to drink.  I finally convinced them to let me sit in a stand, so we picked one on the backside of Dan’s property.  I could hear the deer making their way toward me.  Mostly quiet, but the occasional shuffle of leaves.  Finally 3 deer, 1 small buck and 2 doe came into my view.  I was going to shoot the big doe, and drew back my bow, when I noticed the button buck was missing half of his front shoulder.  At that point, I changed position and sent my arrow into the button buck.  He ran a few yards, and dropped.  When I went down to him, you could tell someone had shot him during muzzle-loader season, and you could fit a grapefruit into the hole that was left.  I couldn’t let that little guy suffer anymore.  I took some ribbing from the guys, because I wasted my tag on a mercy kill.  I am sure I could have called the Game Commission and explained the situation, but I made my choice freely and had shot my buck.  While he was not yet gangrene, he was not far from it.  We only kept the hind quarters, and that equated to one meatloaf dinner for our family.  Thus my meatloaf deer was named.

This buck was not the biggest, and definitely not the nicest, but I will always remember this little guy.  I am glad I could be in the right position to help put him out of his misery.  Practice with your weapon at many different yardages.  Know your shot placements for the species you are hunting.  Use a range finder if unsure of how far you shot would be.  And always make ethical shots.





Little Runt helps Little Runts Succeed!

22 04 2012

This post originally was posted in the  Camo Field Journal:  http://ladiesincamo.com/fieldjournal.html

This has been a long awaited day in our household-Youth Season for Turkeys!  Last night we were in temps of almost 80 degrees, this morning we awoke to 38 degrees and rain.  Our Grandchildren Sarah and Ryan went out bright and early this morning with their dad Charlie.  It didn’t take to long before 3 toms came racing in to Charlie’s calling, and they made a bee line to the Little Runt Decoy.  Ryan shouldered his shotgun and waited for the perfect shot.  He shot , and the biggest bird in the group dropped.  Shortly after Ryan’s bird was down, his cousin Luke connected with another tom that came in to both Charlie’s calling, and to the Little Runt.

In Pennsylvania we are done hunting turkeys at noon, so Sarah is going to have to wait for next weekend when the regular turkey season comes in, to get her bird.

Ryan's 2012 turkey





Eagle Lakes Outfitters Ladies Archery Deer Hunt

21 04 2012

Last October I had the privilege of joining Vicki Cianciarulo of tv’s The Choice, and her posse, at Eagle Lakes Outfitters in Pike County, Illinois. She was trying to film footage for her show, so we had camera crews going out with hunters to the fields, and filming our everyday activities too. Andrea Main, Teresa McCullough, Jillian Donabauer and my daughter Shannon also were included in this hunt. This was the first archery hunt I had been on since my mastectomy, and I was using a Ten Point crossbow with my handicap designation. It galled me to have to have a handicap license, but I was still unable to pull a compound bow at any weight.
My guide, Jim Halliday was wonderful. I connected instantly with him, and we had a great time together throughout the week. Everyone was seeing lots of does, and several small bucks, but nothing shootable. After 2 days and nothing happening, I had a really nice buck working his way into my area. I also had a group of does feeding 15 yards from my tree stand. Just as the buck was getting close enough to consider taking a shot, I had a doe snort and stomp her foot. There went my buck-gone! I turned to the doe and released my arrow. She ran up the small hill, and collapsed right in the middle of the lane. I texted Jim that I had shot a doe, to which he asked “is she dead”, I replied most definitely! He said this was the easiest tracking and dragging of a deer he had ever done! He was able to pull his truck right up to her.
With the ice broken, hunters started to fill their tags. One of Vicki’s posse shot a doe, her first. Then a girl from Ameristep shot a doe right before dark. It was decided to back out and come back in the morning. Unfortunately by the time the sun came up, the coyotes had eaten most of the doe.
For lunch one day the entire group went to a local Mexican Restaurant, Vicki’s treat. We had a great time, and great food. It is strange to be eating with video cameras filming you.
We had high winds the one day, with some of the hunters opting to stay in camp. I was put in a clamp on 20 foot high. After rocking and rolling for hours, I was afraid the only way I was going to hit a deer was to throw up on them. This is the only time I have gotten sea sick in a tree!
The last evening I had the buck from earlier in the week come back to my stand. I watched him make his way across the crp field. When he was at 30 yards, I took a broadside shot. He took off toward the top of the hill, veering to the left. I was hoping he would be piled up in the lane like my doe, but it was not to be. We looked that evening, but could not locate his trail. The next morning we tried again, but never did find him. Because we were walking through the woods and fields, Shannon had been placed in a nearby stand to take advantage of any deer pushed in that direction. It worked! She had a nice big doe come into her stand. She connected with her shot, but broke the front shoulder with the shot. She put a second arrow into the doe and was waiting for us with her doe when we got there.
Three doe were taken during this week and recovered. One doe was lost to coyotes, and my buck not recovered. Lots of wonderful memories were made, and lasting friendships started.

20120421-001712.jpg

20120421-001722.jpg





The “I CAN DO IT” Fish

21 04 2012

This post was originally posted on Project; Pink. http://andreamain.com/diane-hassinger-pennsylvania/

This post also was published on Ladies in Camo at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/04/12/diane-hassinger-the-i-can-do-it-fish/

The “I Can do it” fish

The photo was taken 3 weeks following my mastecomy. My daughter Shannon had to place the salmon on the rock, so I could get a picture with it. It was important to me to be able to have me in the picture, not someone doing it for me (Like Dale holding the fish with me beside him).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The first salmon fishing after my mastectomy, was just a mere 3 weeks after the surgery. Fishing has always been important to me, so I was concerned that I would not be able to handle a fish on my rod. I took it easy at first, especially since all of my Doctor’s had told me not to fish at all. It did not take long for my competitive side to take over, and soon I had a salmon on the line.
The first thought through my head was “I CAN DO IT”! I fought that fish and enjoyed every second doing so. Life was starting to seem normal again. My daughter Shannon helped me land the fish, but then we had a problem. I couldn’t lift the fish for any pictures. She helped me improvise by placing the salmon on a rock, so all I would have to do is balance it. “I CAN DO IT”. That was the first of many salmon that weekend.

Sarah, Charlie, Dale and Ryan

My grandchildren have been fishing since they could walk, and salmon fishing is a big part of their lives also. My granddaughter Sarah and I fished a lot of the stream together, helping each other along the way. She would hook and fight a fish, then I would help her land it, and of course take pictures.

Shannon

Lots of fish were caught, good memories made, family values instilled in our grandchildren, and of course a big hurdle in my recovery was overcame. As long as I am able I will continue to fish with my family and enjoy our time together. As always “Love the life you live”.

I did let Dale hold this one for me