TaTa Bang Bang

11 10 2013

 

This post originally was published on Ta Ta Bang Bang’s facebook wall during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 2013)  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=522953231122915&set=a.418050041613235.99986.377808358970737&type=1&theater
While at the Buckmasters Expo on August 17th, in Montgomery, Alabama, TTBB crossed paths with an outdoor enthusiast that not only shares her love of hunting, but her story of surviving…breast cancer. Her story touched us in so many ways, and we know it will touch yours.

Meet Diane Hassinger, field staff of Ladies in Camo, as she tells her story of being a survivor:

1383138_522953231122915_1177662963_n“Four years ago, the call came that would change my life forever, “You have breast Cancer.” I can’t say that it was totally unexpected, as I had problems for 20+ years, many biopsies, lumpectomies and countless call backs for sonograms and mammograms. In some regards, it was almost a relief that now I could do what was needed to get the shadow of breast cancer off of me.
I have always taken the bull by the horns, and this time was no different. When my original Doctor was taking too long to do his job and schedule an appointment for me to move forward, I contacted a renowned breast surgeon and started the process to have all of my records sent to her, and got scheduled within days. The first visit with my surgeon proved I had made the right decision. She reminded me of-me! She is not good at candy coating things, kind of direct and to the point. I loved her! She outlined my choices, and I chose the complete bilateral mastectomy. While she initially thought I had not given enough consideration to my choice, I explained that I had thought long and hard for the past 20 years that when the time came, as I knew it would, I would get rid of all of the troublesome tissues and get a clean start. Within 2 weeks, I had my bilateral mastectomy, sentinel lymph node surgery and the start of the reconstructive surgery. I had my final reconstruction surgery just prior to Christmas that year. My best Christmas present ever!
At all times I was positive about my decision. My healing was fairly quick and soon my life was back to normal, at least mostly. I still struggle to get back to hunting poundage on my compound bow even today; a lot of the muscles in my chest area were destroyed in order to get all of the cancer. Those muscles control a lot of your pulling ability. Thank God, and Tenpoint, for crossbows!
Within 3 weeks of the surgery, I was salmon fishing and landing large fish on my own. I had to alter how some things were done, but I could do them! Pictures were taken with the fish balanced on rocks, but they were taken! I bypassed archery season that year, but against Doctor’s opinions, I started shooting my rifles and shotguns. My Doctors had no past experience with how the recoil would affect the lymph node areas under my arms. They worried that I would cause lymphedema with the repetitive recoil, and over use of my arms. Now they have a benchmark to use for other women hunters in their care-you can do it!
I am back to hunting, fishing, shooting and traveling. This year alone I have hunted South Africa, Canada and several states for alligator, bear, whitetail and plains game. I have suffered some disappointments hunting, but haven’t we all. But more importantly, I have been successful, not only harvesting some great trophies and food for my family, but also in beating breast cancer to the point that I am living the life I love.
I look at this whole breast cancer ordeal as nothing more than a speed bump in my life. I took care of myself and now I am in the passing lane once again! I am on Staff with Ladies in Camo, working with some of the most amazing women I know. I have been given the opportunity to help women be successful in hunts outside of their comfort zone, and the ability to use and product review many new and exciting products to the hunting community. I have a personal blog www.huntingmotherearth.com which was an outlet for emotions and triumphs during my recovery. Now it is my hunting journal and diary. I found it is extremely important to let those emotions out, and be able to talk to others about your journey. That helps you with your acceptance, and it helps others that are still on their own journey.
Look for an upcoming episode on Yeti’s Ultimate Hunt, highlighting my battle with breast cancer and return to a truly wonderful life. By not allowing cancer to dictate what my life will be, I have created a life that is open ended and exciting. I have many doors opening and opportunities to explore! That call four years ago did change my life, but by taking control and staying positive, it has changed it for the better!”

Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) Member
NSSF Member
Ladies in Camo, LLC-Regional Representative
http://www.ladiesincamo.com/
Ladies by the grace of God…..in CAMO by choice.

Personal Blog: http://www.huntingmotherearth.com/

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Ladies in Camo-Regional Staff http://www.ladiesincamo.com/
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NSSF Member
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NWTF

 

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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





Booking with an Outfitter

20 04 2012

This post originally appeared in http://www.ladiesincamo.com

I recently booked a hunting trip to South Africa, that prompted several of our hunting friends to express desire to travel to hunt, but they do not know where to start. Here is a list of things I do when booking a hunt with an Outfitter.

When you decide to book a hunt, research everything you can! Start with deciding what species you want to go for, and what you would be happy to take home as a trophy. There are outfitters that specialize in every species of animal that is legal to hunt. If you want to shoot a record book buck, go where you have the best chance to do so; don’t go where a record buck has never even been seen. By taking into account whether this outfitter has produced record book quality animals, you can up your chances of bagging the trophy of your dreams. This is one time you do not want to bargain shop. Book the best hunt you can afford. But remember, nothing is a sure thing.

The bigger the hunt, the further in advance you need to start planning.

My South Africa trip is being planned 15 months in advance. This is not to say that you could not pull it together much quicker, but a lot of things would have to fall into place for that to happen. Some outfitters may be booked two or even three years in advance, and the tags for some animals in certain situations are on a draw system, and it may take you years to win your tag.

Set a budget for your trip and try to stick to it. There will always be unforeseen expenses, but do your best to not break the bank.

Next you need to decide where you want this hunt to take place. I like to travel and see new things, so sometimes I pick an outfitter that is in a location I have always wanted to go to. Keep in mind your travel costs, and even the extra time needed to get to your destination. If you are traveling to a foreign country, you will need a passport, possibly a visa, and very likely vaccinations. None of these need to be a deal breaker, just be aware of the time and cost factor of applying for the proper documents or visits needed at the Doctor’s to be up to date with the vaccinations.

Take notice of your limitations when planning. Do you want to be sitting in a blind freezing during a Saskatchewan deer hunt? Or are you’re the type that doesn’t like to sit still at all, maybe a spot and stalk would be the right choice then. If you get winded walking up a flight of stairs, maybe a Colorado Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep hunt isn’t for you. If you take your time, and look at many hunts and outfitters, you will find the right fit for you.

Once you have narrowed down you selections, there are a few questions you should ask or at least consider;

1. Have your outfitter specify what does the cost of the hunt include? Such as lodging, food, guides, transportation, some include the field dressing and caping of your animal, and packing of your meat/hides for the trip home

2. What does the cost of the hunt NOT include? Such as licenses, tips, caping fee, trophy fees, fuel surcharge and possibly a fine for shooting an undersized animal.

3. What type of lodging will be included? Wall tents with no showers, or a lodge with all the amenities of home, and will you be sharing a room with a stranger. Also, will you need to bring a sleeping bag and your own towels?

4. If you have dietary restrictions, can the outfitter accommodate that?

5. What type of transportation to the hunting areas is provided? This could be ATV’s, trucks, horses or even boats.

6. How many hunters are assigned to a guide?

7. How much land does the outfitter have to hunt, and if it is public or private lands?

8. How frequently do they place hunters in a stand? And will you have to option to change stands if you are not seeing anything?

9. If you tag out early, can you purchase an extra tag, go fishing or leave early? I have been on hunts that are for 1 buck, but the state allows 3. You may be able to pay an additional amount to the outfitter to go after that second buck.

10. How physical is the hunt? If you are out of shape a spot and stalk hunt on a mountain may not be for you. Can they accommodate disabilities?

11. How do you purchase your license and tags? Most state licenses are now online, but the tags may be limited or on the draw system. Can they help you get the proper tags?

12. How early should you book? The outfitter will know how quickly hunts fill up, but do not feel pressured to book earlier then you are ready. If you miss out on the hunt this year, book for next.

13. How many hunters can they accommodate at a time? This is more important than you would think. If a camp tells you they take only 6 hunters a week, but state they could fit you in with a group of 10, how stressed will their system be? Both the lodging and the guides will be stretched over a greater number than usual. You may be sacrificing a quality hunt to fit in those extra hunters.

14. What types of hunts are offered at what times of year? Bow hunting, rifle hunting, muzzle loader, youth. Are they equipped with the proper stands for each style of hunting?

15. What type of stands do they offer? If you are afraid of heights, then the 20’ high clamp on with climbing sticks will be out of the question.

16. What are the camps bag limits? These often are less in quantity than the state may allow you to take, it is important to clarify this with your outfitter.

17. Is there a minimum size restriction? This could be an 8 point minimum or a 130” class antler restriction. If you are unsure of what a 130” class buck looks like, ask!

18. Ask for references, ask your friends, look for reviews on the internet.

19. Is the outfitter licensed and insured?

20. Lastly, do they have a range where you can sight in your weapon? Especially if you are flying, your gun/bow case is going to take a lot of abuse. Make sure it is sighted in before you take it out hunting.

OK, you have made the deal, now you need to arrange transportation. If you are traveling a great distance from your home, you probably want to contact a travel agent or AAA. They can schedule your flights, rent a car for you, and arrange overnight accommodations for the nights before or after your hunt. You can do all this for yourself, but if you are traveling out of the country a professional will also be able to help you with the laws for the temporary import of a firearm or other weapon into the country, and assist you with any visas you may need. They will also offer trip insurance and travel medical insurance/medical evacuation insurance. All of these, while a good idea, are entirely up to you.

Once I have booked a hunt, I tend to find out everything I can about the area. This helps in the packing, but also gives you an idea of the local weather, culture and attractions. It would be a shame to go to South Africa, in my case, and not experience some of the wonderful natural attractions that the country has to offer.

Start packing! You are going to have a great time!