You have to Believe!

11 12 2012

I have spent most of the last 3 months on the road, hunting in one location or another.  I am finishing my hunting season for 2012 with a deer/hog hunt combo at Racknine Outdoors in Alabama.  Temperatures were really against us for deer hunting, so I turned my sights to HOGS!  On December 8th Nancy Jo, Jeanne and I were stalking a group of hogs that were really tearing up the woods.  We were backtracking to a nearby lake, when a shiny balloon caught my eye.  Even as I hurried over to it, I knew what I was going to find!

I am going to jump back to 1998.  Dale and I were celebrating our 19th anniversary deep sea fishing out of Daytona Beach, Florida.  We had had just a horrendous year before, and much needed a break.  Our son Mathew had died in a boating accident on March 7, 1997.  Matt was with his best friend and our employee Mike, Mike also perished in the accident.  Clint, a lifelong friend of Matt’s died 2 days later in a car accident after finding out about Mathew.  Dale’s best friend Earl died 3 months to the day later, having told us it was not natural to bury a grandson (Matt).  Two months later, out of the blue, Dales mother, died in September of complication from diabetes.  As if that was not enough, 2 months later, Dale’s mentor Walter died on his 45th wedding anniversary in the middle of a fishing creek.  That was a year I hope to never repeat, ever!

While Dale and I had charted a boat and were out fishing, 30-40 miles off shore, the Captain announced that he saw debris.  Since the fishing had been slow up to that point, we traveled to the debris, since dorado tend to cluster around anything floating.  Upon pulling up, what we thought was garbage, was in fact a Mylar balloon that wished “Happy Anniversary”.  I got goose bumps then and now as I type this.  I am sure to this day, that this was Matt’s way of telling us he is still watching over us, and still a close part of our family.  That was by far the best anniversary present I could have gotten!!  The gifts kept coming after that!  We boated the most fish our Captain had ever caught in one day!  I guess he didn’t realize he had a very special fisherman on board that day!

Now jump back to the present; Did I mention that December 8th is my grandson Ryan’s birthday?  You got it!  That Mylar balloon we found while hunting hogs, that had not been there earlier, said “Happy Birthday”!  I knew immediately who it was meant for.  We quickly took a picture with my cell phone and sent it on it’s way to the birthday boy.

I realize most people would just chalk this up to coincidence, and I may have at one point also.  But I have become a firm believer that when loved ones die, they are still watching over you and participating in your everyday lives in some small way or another.  We have had so many “coincidences” over the years that I just now say “Thanks Matt”, smile or cry (or both) and send the message on to it’s recipient.

Be open to see small miracles that you may otherwise overlook.  After all we need something to believe in, and I choose to believe that love is never ending!

happy birthday Ryan

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The Important Stuff-part 2

2 11 2012

After hunting for 2 weeks by myself and some with Dale, I needed to reconnect with the Important Stuff in my Life! So we packed up the kids, grand kids, and friends and heading to our favorite salmon fishing spot. We spent a wonderful weekend fighting fish, dodging rain and cuddling to ward off the cold. Everyone spent time bonding by the fire and pitching in to help land fish.

Get out and enjoy nature. Make wonderful memories with your family and friends, don’t take life for granted. Make the most of it while you can. Tell everyone that matters to you how much they do. Live your life with no regrets.

“Love the Life you Live, Live the Life you Love” – Bob Marley





Let’s go Fishing 1992

1 05 2012

This is part of a series of writings I did in 1992.  Surprising, this is as true today, as it was 20 years ago, and Dale is still my fishing partner; 33 years this spring.

“Let’s go fishing this weekend,” Dale suggests, and I readily agree.  We have been fishing partners for our entire married life.  After some fishing trips, remaining married is a feat.  Sometimes our trips have been known to turn into a comedy of errors.  However, I am always ready to go fishing regardless of the time we must leave, the cold weather, or even a clash with Mother Nature.

Four o’clock a.m. comes early the morning of our trip.  An entire pot of strong black coffee is not enough to open my eyes.  I stumble incoherently out to the old pick-up truck; after scraping ice off of the windows, we embark on a day of fun.

“Quit breathing, you are fogging up the windshield” Dale demands, “Just wait until the heater warms up.”

Just as I am about to black out from the lack of oxygen, the first wisps of warmth are emitted from the heater.  Coincidentally, this also marks our arrival at the lake.

The morning sky is ominous looking, indicating that the weather will be unstable.  We unload our essential equipment, and trudge down the slippery, mud covered slope to the dark and menacing lake.  Cold, slimy mud oozes over the top of my boots, instantly putting a spring in my step.  The nip in the air is chillingly refreshing, not cold enough to numb your extremities.  However, I wish my feet were numb, so I could not feel the mud squishing between my toes.  The wind has calmed to a mere gale.  A perfect day for fishing, usually the weather is unmistakably miserable when we manage to take off a day.  I attempt to bait up with a worm, who is no happier to be awake at this hour then I am.  After struggling to pierce the squirming bait with a hook, I finally feel the barbs penetrate.  I lean back, and cast smoothly into a deep pool of water about 25 feet from the shore.  I snuggle down into my heavy wool jacket, waiting for the moment when a fish decides to breakfast on my bait.  Before long I am rewarded with a persistent pull on my line.  I quickly reel in the fish, which is only a small bass.  The fish is returned to the water, and the process is repeated.

Mother Nature now decides to throw her worst at us, and the wind increases to tempest storm intensity, the wind chill-factor is dropping rapidly.  The next cast of my line results in it being slapped back in my face, as if thrown by an invisible hand.  I am grateful for my cold weather clothing, but even it is not enough to ward off the frigid air.  It has now become a challenge just to get the line into the water, and not freeze while doing so.  This becomes a battle of the wills, and Mother Nature wins.  Dale and I pack up our equipment, and trudge up the slippery hill to the eventual warmth of the truck.

This has all been a minor deterrent, and we will continue to go fishing whenever the chance arises.  Awaking at 4:00 am, scrapping ice off of our windows, battling Mother Nature in a slightly unfair battler of the wills is all part of the allure of the sport.  Next time maybe the odds will be in my favor, and I will win.

My fishing partner





There’s a Fish 1992-2012

1 05 2012

This was wrote 11-13-1992, twenty years ago!  I was reminiscing and looking through some old writings of mine and found this.

Fishing equipment, in my possession, has evolved tremendously since my childhood.  The elaborate equipment used today differs greatly from the Spartan gear of my past, even the bait has been refashioned.

The fishing equipment I use today has become very expensive; however the quantities of gear have increased as well.  Merely to fish from a shore area, I outfit myself with two or three different types of rods, a net, portable fish finder, hip waders, and a fully stocked tackle box.  My box is overflowing with hundreds of scientifically designed lures, costing thousands of hard earned dollars.  Each lure is unique in either design, color, weight, or length.  Each is designed to be used in very specific situations.  I have a black, two inch long Jitterbug used only for bass at night.  Walleye Wonders, in nine colors and four weights, have possession of a large portion of my box, and I only use them when drifting for walleye.  I have tiny lures resembling crayfish, used solely for fishing for smallmouth bass in the river.  Gone are the days of simplicity.

As a child I owned just one basic, broken cane pole, with no reel.  A cigar box was transformed to hold my treasure trove of tackle; five or six hooks, and a piece of line scrounged from my Grandfather.  These were truly treasures.  I showed off my collection as if it were worth a million dollars.  My fish finder was my little sister, who would race along the lake banks screaming “Look, there’s a fish!”  I never had to replace her batteries, and I did not have to worry about forgetting my fish finder; she tagged along whether I wanted her to or not.  Wading boots were whatever shoes I was wearing when I waded into the water.  These could have been play shoes, or occasionally school shoes.  Getting wet was part of the fun, so no attempts were made to avoid dampness.  I did not have the complex decisions to make about what lure to use, a worm worked in every circumstance.

Worms have also evolved, because the fish apparently have become educated, in the quarter century I have been fishing.  There were times when I could fish all day with a grubby earthworm, dug from the manure pile, and catch some nice “keepers”.  Keep in mind, as a child, any fish large enough to take the hook was declared a “keeper”.  Now I fish scientifically, and my “keepers” must be trophies.  The thrill of the catch is not enough anymore, now I need an impressive size to thrill me.  Live bait apparently comes from the bait shop.  Ask for worms at these shops, and they think you are uncouth; the proper terms are night crawlers and blood worms.  I still slip up, and in a moment of forgetfulness call them worms.

All the advancements in my fishing equipment were made to enhance my ability to catch fish.  Fish finders, wading boots and lures contrast greatly to the days of a worm on a hook, and my sister tagging along.  The challenge in fishing has elevated to the point of only desiring trophies.  I yearn for the days of contentment, when fishing was simply, basically, for fun.

Added 4-30-2012

Now let’s jump ahead those twenty years, have I found contentment in fishing for fun?  My love of fishing has never died.  I am ready to go fishing anytime, anyplace.  For some things we have simplified, for others we have gone over the top.

The only time I use a fish finder anymore is upon the Happy Boy, a 50’ Bertram.  This boat is also equipped with every type of electronics; sonar, radar, depth finders, auto-navigation.  You name it, this boat has it.  Do you know how we search for marlin?  With a simple pair of binoculars.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this boat.  But this house on the water is over the top with gadgets.

My rods have evolved to the point of St. Croix and Sage rods.  Yes they cost much more than my cane pole, but I do enjoy the added sensitivity these rods produce.  My reels are usually Penns or Fin-Nors.  I use them simply because I like them.  I have a room, the size of most bedrooms; this is my tackle box now.  Drawers are organized for each type of fishing we do.  I do not even want to think about how much money is spent on all of the lures I have.  I do still show off my collection as if it were worth a million dollars and today that number is a lot closer to its value.

We fly to other countries to fish for world class fish.  We vacation all over the United States to fish some of the greatest waters on Earth.  The Happy Boy is docked in the Florida Keys.  These are my fishing waters of today.  My contentment now comes from being able to expose my grandchildren to these great fisheries.

We only use worms (yes worms-not night crawlers or blood worms) when we fish with our grandchildren.  I still love catching bluegills, bass and catfish on a simple hook and worm setup.  I am thrilled by the look on our granddaughter’s face when she hooks a catfish, and exclaims “Nana, Nana come quick!”, and I do.  A simple rod and reel, a pair of pliers, a hook, worm and bobber does the trick.  These are our trophies today.

We have gone full circle.  We have the expensive toys to play with and enjoy, but the greatest times are still the simpler ones.  Got to go, Ryan has a fish on!





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.