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





The Important Stuff

22 10 2012
This post originally appeared in Ladies in Camo Field Journal  http://ladiesincamo.com/fieldjournal.html
21 Oct

Some of the important stuff in my life!

Some of the important stuff in my life!

I have spent the last 2 weeks on the road hunting in Georgia and Alabama.  During that time I have made many great lasting memories and made some new friends.  This morning I was stalking hogs with my husband Dale along with Terry and Dillon from Racknine Outdoors.  I was really enjoying our time, the weather was beautiful and we were finding lots of fresh hog sign.

Should have been a perfect day, but it wasn’t.  Maybe I got homesick, I don’t know.  But we were walking along one minute with me thinking how I really love hog hunting, and the next minute my son popped into my head.  I started thinking how Matt would have really loved this, but he will never get the chance to experience it.  You see he died in a boating accident 16 years ago at the age of 16.  His death has changed our family forever.

That got me thinking (and crying) about how we need to focus on the important stuff.  Family, God, friends and health. The rest of it really doesn’t matter.  Get your kids and grandkids out in the woods, take them hunting, fishing, hiking or bird watching if that is what your are into.  Spend quality time with them, bonding over the simple things in life. Teach them about the outdoors so they in turn can teach their children.  Make sure they know your love, don’t let a day go by without telling them.  You really don’t know how long you will have them for.  Help them create wonderful memories that will comfort them in the future.  Life is a double edged knife, any of us could be gone tomorrow.

So enough said.  Next weekend Dale and I are taking our family and going camping and fishing in New York.  We will laugh, play, fish and have memories to sustain us.  I am going to help untangle lines and unhook fish for my grandchildren, take lots of pictures and ingrain every minute into my heart and brain.

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





Unforgettable!!

5 09 2012

This post originally appeared in the Ladies In Camo Field Journal.  http://ladiesincamo.com/fieldjournal.html

Unforgettable!  That is definitely how you would describe our family vacation.  Dale and I were joined by our daughter Shannon and her 2 children; Sarah 9 and Ryan 7, and good friends Mike and Vicki.  Both of our grandchildren have been involved with hunting since they could walk.  Each of them has taken deer and turkey on the Pennsylvania Mentored Hunt Program, Sarah took her last turkey with a crossbow.  This trip would be different; they would be hunting in Alabama and Florida for wild hogs and alligators!  We are blessed that we have 3 generations that enjoy all the outdoors has to offer.  Even more so, we have 3 generations of Lady hunters, 3 generations of Ladies in Camo!

Our 3 generations of Ladies in Camo; Shannon, Sarah and Diane

We started our trip at Racknine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama.  Sarah was spot and stalking with me, while Ryan sat in a blind with Shannon.  Sarah was a real trooper.  While we were trying to get on the trail of the hogs, we worked on skills; picking up trails, identifying tracks, identifying different sounds and plants. Several times we were able to get close enough to hogs that we could hear and smell them, but never got close enough for a shot.  I had her lead us out of one area at dark, following the ribbon trail, and we found the boat no problem.  Later Terry told us that he has had to find several men in that area that couldn’t find their way out.  She has a great internal compass that is right on the money!  The one morning we did sit in a box blind, and had a buck come close enough that I could have tripped it, and a doe grazed within a few feet of us.  She took many pictures that day, just thrilled to be in the woods.

Moving onto Florida created a unique set of adventures for us.  Our first night, as we anticipated alligator hunting, we had a storm front move in and dump a huge amount of rain on us.  So instead of hunting, we became well acquainted with the local restaurants.  The next day, the sun was shining and the gators spent the day sunning themselves.  Capt. Billy Henderson, of Deep South Outfitters, went over crossbow operation and safety with everyone, and we took turns shooting at a water bottle cap.  The kids popped it up in the air while Dale and I pinned it to the ground.  The crossbow bolt is attached to a float, so everyone needs to be aware of where the rope is located in relationship to your feet.  The harpoon and also the bang stick were explained, and Shannon and the kids practiced the motions needed to use them.  We went through a few scenarios of how the gators might present themselves, and where to place the corresponding shots.  Being as all of our hunting is done at night, Billy explained how the eyes would reflect the spot light, and how they should come into the call.  Once everyone felt confident, we were off to the river.

We hunted the Kissimmee River that night and Ryan was up first.  The entire evening we had heat lightning lighting up the sky.  Occasional we could hear the rumble of thunder resonating across the flat ground, still to far off to be a threat.  Several gators were spotted, and halfheartedly responded to Billy’s call.  They would hang up at about 20 feet and go down, never to be seen again.  Finally a healthy 7 footer came in and presented a good shot.  Ryan wasted no time, and spined the alligator and ended his hunt.  A perfect shot!  He helped with the taping of the jaws and feet, then clicked his tag into the tail.

Ryan with his new buddy! His 7′ alligator.

Next up was Shannon, who was also on her first gator hunt.  Again several responded to the call, but would drop out of sight before a shot could be taken.  Eventually a good size gator came in, and after a lengthy battle, she managed to land herself a good solid ten footer!  By this time, we were getting short on time to get Ryan’s into a cooler or lose the meat, so we called it a night and high tailed it for the processors.

Shannon with her 10′ gator

The next evening we were once again hunting the Kissimmee River, but this time they were letting water out of the dams to prepare for Hurricane Isaac, which was anticipated to drop massive amounts of rain on this area.  Where we had seen well over a hundred of gators the night before, this night they were few and far between.  Sarah was on the front of the boat; Dale was with her to help with the lines.  They had a gator come close to the boat, then quickly duck into the brush near the bank.  To everyone’s surprise Sarah was able to place a fantastic shot through the branches and soon she was bang sticking her own 9 footer!

Sarah’s 9′ alligator

The pressure was now really on me.  We went for over an hour without having any gator come anywhere close to us.  Near the end of the night, with a storm front bearing down on us, I had a good gator start to come in.  At 30 feet away he started to hang-up and took a deep breath, indicating to me that he was ready to dive.  I took a chance and fired, hitting just behind the skull right before he sank into the depths.  He immediately went into death rolls and tangled the line up tight around him.  I managed to harpoon him after 2 failed attempts, being as he was still rolling.  After a quick shot out of the bang stick, I was taping his mouth and hind feet.  We took off toward the dock, and made it to the truck just second before the sky opened up and started dumping a tremendous amount of rain on us.

Diane’s 9′ gator

The next day we tried hunting wild hogs with dogs, something none of us had ever done before.  While we took our rifles with us, we ended up using the spear that the guide provided.  We pursued them riding in a swamp buggy with the dogs racing in front of us.  The dogs really worked together tracking the wild hogs, then a 3rd dog was released to help grab them by the ears.  Once the dogs had control of the hog, we would move in to spear the animal.  This allowed us the opportunity to harvest 5 good meat hogs, and have some really great memories!  While I love eating wild hog, the ability to help get a few of these destructive animals out of the swamps really makes it worthwhile.  Filling the freezer with fresh sausage is an added bonus!

Sarah, Vicki, Diane, Ryan, Mike and Shannon after a successful day of wild hog hunting!

That evening the tails of Hurricane Isaac hit us, so instead of hunting, we spent the evening in the hotel lobby in an impromptu Hurricane Party.  The power kept going out, so it was still an early evening.  The wind howled all night, and the rain flooded all low areas.  We were under tornado warning most of the night, and police brought several families to the hotel because of flooding to their homes.  By morning the hotel, that had been almost empty the day before, was filled with people seeking refuge from the storm.  The next day was no better, winds were high and the rain continued.  Bowling for the kids, and gambling for the adults helped fill the time.  Surprisingly Dale won enough at slots to spring for dinner for everyone.

The next day was still bad, but we only had 2 nights’ left and still had 4 tags to fill.  We were hunting Lake Okeechobee that night, and there was a heavy chop on the water complicating things even more.  We started our hunt under a double rainbow, which left us with lots of hope that a big gator would be our pot of gold!  After a few sightings of gator eyes, one came in within a few feet of the boat, and Mike let his bolt fly.  The bolt hit solidly, and the gator took off with the float trailing behind.  We caught up with it in a bed of hydrilla.  With Billy holding the line, Mike poised with the harpoon, Dale started quickly pulling the mounds of hydrilla that was wrapped around the line.  As soon as he opened up a clear area, Mike stuck the gator with the harpoon, and we were able to get control of the situation.  Hit with the bang stick, wrap the mouth and legs and the 9’ gator was tagged.  We tried for another, but conditions were deteriorating quickly, again.

Mike with his 9′ alligator

Our final day to hunt, the sun was shining and the wind died down some.  It seemed we would finally have a good day to go out.  WRONG!  Shortly before we were to leave, the skies opened up and the winds once more started to blow.  We still had to go.  We headed south to a dock on Lake Okeechobee and kept our finger crossed that maybe, just maybe we could get out on the water.  The water was still really high, and cotton mouth snakes were in the parking lots.  We killed one, and saw several more that other people had dispatched before we got there.  I hate the idea of being around poisonous snakes in the dark!  I would much rather face an alligator than a cotton mouth!

Vicki did not have long to wait at all, the boat was barely launched when she got on an 8 footer.  She managed to get her shot made before the rains started, but we still had to harpoon the gator, shoot it with the bang stick and get it in the boat during a pouring rain.  By the time this gator was in the boat, everyone was soaking wet and covered with mosquito bites.  We retreated to the truck, and hoped for a break in the weather.

Vicki and her 8′ gator

After what seemed like an eternity, all of the food and drink in the truck was consumed, and the weather finally gave us a break.  We searched for a long time to even find an alligator; the weather was pushing them deeper into the water.  We caught a glimpse of good size eyes a very long way off, but we had to try.  Slowly we crept up using only the trolling motor.  I think this gator was confused as to why anyone in their right mind would be out on a night like tonight.  Confused or not, he presented a shot that Dale could not refuse, and our 7th alligator was tagged for the week.  Whew!  We had to work hard for all of the gators we took this week.  We still have one tag left that hopefully we can make it down after September 12th to use.  Our tags were for the 2nd week of the season, but after September 12th any unfilled tags may be used again.

Dale’s 9′ alligator

We are passing on our love of the outdoors to our kids and grandchildren, teaching them skills that are not taught in our schools.  Good or bad, this trip was what memories are made of.  We had a lot of wonderful experiences that we got to share with our family and friends, we got to laugh and cheer each other on.  Three generations of our family got to enjoy the hunting, fishing and fun that this trip had to offer!  We harvested 5 wild hogs and 7 alligators, and filled our freezers for the upcoming year.  How can you go wrong with that!

www.racknineoutdoors.com

http://www.dsooutdoors.com





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!





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!




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





Easter Egg Hunt 2012

2 04 2012

Our grandchildren and Sammy went on a hunt for Easter Eggs, they got a couple. They really enjoyed the hunting, not so much the cleanup. This is not your run of the mill egg hunt tho! The kids have decided that this needs to be part of every Easter.

Sammy, Ginger, Chaney, Sarah and Ryan Easter Egg hunting.