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!

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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).
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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





Tomah Mountain Outfitters Spring Bear Hunt

21 04 2012

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

Diane's Maine Black Bear

June of 2008 was a turning point for me hunting. We went bear hunting for the first time with Joe Bowen of Tomah Mountain Outfitters. While I had hunted whitetail deer and small game for years, I had never ventured into bear hunts. At the time of the hunt, I was shooting my Mathew’s Black Max 2 compound bow daily, several hundred shots a day. I wanted to take my first bear with that bow something terrible. Joe makes you qualify your shooting before he takes you out, so off to the range we went. First up was qualifying rifles. I volunteered to go first so I would not stress out. My 2 shots were both bulls-eyes. Next up was the bow, while I did not robin hood my arrows, I came close.

We hunted the Passamaquoddy Indian Reservation; they have an immense area that allowed the hunters amble space to spread out. Every night we were seeing bear, but I was still hoping for something bigger. Finally the last night we were hunting, Joe put me in a stand that a larger bear was coming in right at dark. I opted to use my Savage 30-06 rifle, simply because it would allow me to hunt later into the dusk. I had moose and fishers and rabbits all evening. Then right at the last few minutes of shooting light my bear came in. He was crashing and cracking everything in his way. He circled the bait before settling into to enjoy what would be his last meal. After watching him for what seemed like an eternity, I settled the crosshairs on him and squeezed the trigger. He only went a few yards from the clearing.

Once again my gun did not let me down. You see the gun I use was owned by my son Mathew. He died trying to rescue a friend from drowning 15 years ago. Every hunt I go on with this gun, I feel that Matt is accompanying me. We have shot a lot of nice trophies together that way over the years.

Hunting bears has become a passion, starting right here.





Caribou Hunt with Safari Nordik

21 04 2012

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

Diane and her Ithaca DS3 Caribou

My husband and I went Caribou hunting with Safari Nordik, based out of Montreal. They have an excellent organization. From the time you arrive in Montreal till you arrive back in Montreal from your hunt, they have taken the stress out of your hunt. You are put up at a nice hotel in Montreal and they have a short informational meeting outlining what to expect. You also receive your airline tickets, tags (2) and licenses at this point. The next morning the lobby is swarming with CAMO. It is actually awe inspiring to see that many hunters milling around! You fly into the small town of Kuujjuaq where you are met by a representative of the company. They assign you to camps and you fly out to your next destination. They only assign the camps the morning of your hunt, so they can maximize the amount of caribou in any given sector.

Caribou Camp at May Lake

The camp selected for us was Camp May, located on the banks of Lake May. We had 9 men and 2 women in the camp; they made alterations to the cabin to allow a small measure of privacy to the women. Sharing a cabin with 3 men was not as awkward as you would think. I had my own set of bunk beds, so I doubled up the foam pads and pillows, and slept like a baby.

Dale and I were field trial testing Ithaca’s Deer Slayer 3 slug guns, hoping to put them through the wringer weather wise (and we did!). They performed wonderfully. With the Nikon Slughunter scope we were shooting caribou out to 200 yards.

Dale started the week off with a caribou on the first morning; which we had to pack it out about 1 mile to the boat. After that, we had a nasty weather front move in that dropped almost 7 inches of rain in 24 hours. Our Cabelas Dry Plus Rain Suede Bibs and Parkas kept us surprisingly dry. We hunted throughout the storm, but the caribou were smarter than we were. Ptarmigan, however, were not so smart. Shooting them made the rainy day a success. We were treated to a viewing of the Aurora Borealis that evening, and I was mesmerized, that is something you do not see in Western Pennsylvania! As soon as the front passed through we started seeing movement again. The next morning I dropped a nice caribou with the Ithaca DS3 at 157 yards. I had to run ½ mile to cut him off as he crossed the river. By the time I shot him, I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the hunt either! We were able to fill our last 2 tags on the last day with 2 small bulls-perfect for eating.

What is really nice about this hunt is that when you fly back to Montreal, if you have opted to have your caribou butchered, they take it from the plane, butcher it overnight and you pick it up in the morning already processed. We drove to Montreal and crossing the border with the guns, and the caribou was not a problem. Just make sure you have your passports and other documents in order.





Gator Hunting with Deep South Outfitters

20 04 2012

This post originally was posted on http://www.ladiesincamo.com Tails of The Hunt

We arrived in Florida to temperatures in the low 40’s, not a great time to start a hunt for alligators with Deep South Outdoors. The first night was too cold to even consider going out, but Capt. Billy was able to help fill our time with bow fishing for mullet. This was our first attempt at bowfishing. After so many years of shooting at a target, it was hard for me to shoot below it. My attempt was not impressive, but I did manage to hit a fish-once!! The next time, I will do better, I promise!

The next evening was my chance to hunt. After a short boat ride and instruction on the crossbow and what was to come, Capt. Billy started calling and spot lighting, and immediately we were rewarded with big splashing not far from our location. This alligator was rushing to the boat very aggressively. When the gator was only a few feet from the boat, Capt. Billy told me to shoot. I pulled the trigger and thought I had missed! There was no splashing, just quiet. Then Kenny started yelling “she spined it!”. There laid my alligator right where I had shot it. I finished it off with a bang stick and helped tape the mouth and rear legs. This portion of my hunt from the start of calling to pulling it into the boat was about 3 minutes, a very intense adrenaline packed 3 minutes!

Dale’s hunt happened the next evening, and was as different from mine as you could get. Capt. Billy called and called, moving frequently, but the water and air temperatures were very cool. Finally the calling brought movement in the weeds. Very slowly, cautiously this alligator crept into our sight, stopping often, always quietly.

Finally when the gator was about 8 foot from the boat Dale shot and the splashing and thrashing was on! After the gator calmed down somewhat it was pulled up to the boat and shot with the bang stick. Dale taped the mouth and legs and we were off once again to butcher shop. As well as our hunts went with the weather being against us, I cannot wait to go again when the air and water are more comfortable.

http://www.dsooutdoors.com/florida.html

captbilly@dsooutdoors.com