Guest Post: Diane Hassinger shares her success of her hunt and “of life”.

22 02 2014

 

 

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http://njadams1.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/guest-post-diane-hassinger-shares-her-success-of-her-hunt-and-of-life/

This was my first time meeting Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania, but I can promise you that I will not forget her any time soon. Diane’s life story is such an inspiration. Diane’s personal struggle and success gave new meaning to a quote I once read by Helen Keller: “The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

 

I am so thankful that our paths have crossed and I had the opportunity to share camp with her. Here is Diane’s story from her hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors with the Ladies in Camo.

 

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I happened to see a post on Shenanigans from the Field about a Ladies in Camo Ladies Only Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama. What caught my eye was that it was a buck, doe, coyote, hog and bobcat hunt. This was just too much to ask for. I had found this post only 2 ½ weeks before the hunt, so a lot had to fall into place for this to happen. I am a firm believer in fate and it would work out if it were meant to be. Well things fell into place perfectly and on December 7th I flew into Montgomery Airport to catch a ride with Richard and Nancy to the camp.

 

Pulling into the camp I immediately felt at ease and knew this had been a good choice. The lodge felt like home, and the few huntresses and guides that were there felt like family from the start. While everyone pigged out on pizza, we made our plans for morning. There would be 3 of us hunting, while the rest were to come in staggered over the next 2 days. Four a.m. came early the next morning, with temperatures below freezing, and having not brought all of my cold weather gear, freezing is what I did too! Terry put me in a tree stand overlooking a food plot. It wasn’t long before the show began and I forgot all about being cold. I had a nice 8 point bucks with 2 girlfriends come thru, just pausing long enough for me to know I could not get a shot off at him. What a tease!

 

Shortly after that another 8 point entered my view, and took his good old-time about entering the food plot. He was joined by 2 spike buck that entertained me for almost an hour with their sparring and play. Meanwhile my 8 point was raking the trees nearby and making a scrape right in front of me. After 15 minutes of wonderful memories, I decided that if I would shoot this guy on the last day, the first day was a good day too. Almost right on cue the buck turned broadside then quartered away just slightly.

 

Two young bucks spar on the greenfield, keeping Diane entertained while she waited for the opportunity to take a shot at an 8 point. Photo Credit: Diane Hassinger

 

As I pulled the trigger, I was thankful I was able to be here at this time. You see 2 ½ years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, and underwent a bilateral mastectomy. They also removed some lymph nodes to check for the spread of cancer. Following my surgery, no one could answer whether I would ever be able to fish, bow hunt, or shoot shotguns and rifles again. No one had ever asked these questions of my doctors, I was the first! Well I am delighted to prove to everyone, that not only is it possible, but you can still be successful as well!

 

My buck tucked his tail and hunched up telling me I had hit him good. I sent a text to Terry and continued watching the two spikes play. They never even flinched when I shot, and I videotaped them for the next 15 minutes. Unreal! In Pennsylvania I would have chased off every deer for a half mile with that one shot. When Terry and Doug arrived, we started looking for a blood trail, and panic started to set in. I knew I had hit him good, but there was no blood to speak of. We finally found 1 drop 10-15 feet from where he was shot and then 1 drop at a time, at 5-10 feet intervals, for about 70 yards. I was just about heartbroken when Doug said “there he is”. He had only gone 75 yards and piled up under a pine tree. He was nice high 8 point, and I was thrilled.

 

Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania and her nice buck harvest. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

 

The next evening I was placed in a ground blind, in a tract of woods near a food plot. Both Terry and Doug had said to feel free to spot and stalk hogs, so that was my goal. Coyotes were howling nearby as I slowly hiked about ¼ mile down a logging trail from the blind. Before long it sounded like a football team racing thru the woods. Slowly and quietly I inched into a position to see the hogs. It did not take long to find a big sow, and with a lot of luck she walked into the one sight window that I had that was big enough to shoot thru, about the size of a coffee can. Holding my breath I took the 75 yard shot, and was rewarded with watching her drop not 3 feet from where I shot her.

 

Diane Hassinger with her nice 130 pound sow harvested at Rack Nine Outdoors. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

 

I continued to look for my next shooter, but this group turned tail and ran. After texting Terry that I had a hog down, and that I was going to continue looking for her friends, I marked her location and started tracking the herd. It did not take long to locate them across the logging road. I had to go into the cramped quarters of the paper mills pine forest. At one point I had 3 groups pretty much surrounding me, easily 100 wild pigs, all squealing and rooting and paying no attention to me at all. As much as I tried to, I could not down another pig, but what a rush to have that many wild pigs around you!

 

I am already planning my next trip to Rack Nine with my husband this time. I hope he gets to experience situations like I had here. And I will be excited to be here to share it with him. I am proud to not only say I am a cancer survivor, but I am enjoying life! Everyone should get out and do what they love every opportunity they can. “Love the Life you Live, Live the Life you Love” (Bob Marley)

Life in Camo - Shenanigans From the Field

This was my first time meeting Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania, but I can promise you that I will not forget her any time soon. Diane’s life story is such an inspiration. Diane’s personal struggle and success gave new meaning to a quote I once read by Helen Keller: “The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

I am so thankful that our paths have crossed and I had the opportunity to share camp with her. Here is Diane’s story from her hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors with the Ladies in Camo.

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I happened to see a post on Shenanigans from the Field about a Ladies in Camo Ladies Only Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama. What caught my…

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South Africa’s Grey Ghost

10 10 2013

This post was originally published on Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/06/20/south-africas-grey-ghost-diane-hassinger/

We traveled several miles from the lodge, to an area that was known to hold big kudu.  They are known as the Grey Ghost, and they certainly lived up to their name.  We would catch fleeting glimpses of their horns glistening in the sunlight, then they would be gone.  Several times we tried to stalk.  Once we came close enough that when they sensed our presence, they almost ran over top of us fleeing.

The following morning we were again going to search for an elusive Grey Ghost, when we spotted a trio of males in the distance.  We slowly and methodically closed the distance to 80 yards.  At that point I braced my gun and took a shot at the biggest male.  That is almost an oxymoron statement; of course I would shoot the biggest one!

The 2 smaller ones turned and ran back the way they had come, but my buck forged ahead, crossing into a tangle of mesquite type bushes.  Everyone was so certain I had had a perfect shot that we took off at once to find him.  There was no blood, not even a drop that I could find, but everyone was still confident.  Sure enough about 40 yards off of the trail laid my kudu!

I don’t understand what the physical differences are from our North American animals, I had heart shot this kudu, and he didn’t leave a blood trail, and my guide and tracker were at no point alarmed by this.  Your emotions can run the entire gauntlet of feelings in just a few moments of hunting; the elation of a good shot, the disbelief of no blood trail, the fear that your animal will not be found and the elation again when your trophy is found.

Diane with her very real Grey Ghost, aka Kudu

Diane with her very real Grey Ghost, aka Kudu                               Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger





Water’s Edge Water Buck

10 10 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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We were traveling close to the Limpopo River for my Water Buck hunt.  The terrain changed so much in just a very small area.  We went from arid desert like conditions to tropical and lush.  The Limpopo River had been dammed up to provide irrigation for a ranch, and in the process, they created a multitude of man-made lakes and marshes, perfect habitat for water bucks.

Shortly after lunch, we spotted a trio of water bucks.  One of them stood out from the rest.  We tried and tried to put on a successful stalk, but the winds kept swirling, and even though they were not spooked, they were uneasy.  Later in the afternoon, my husband and our tracker raced up to where we had just completed a stalk.  That had spotted an even bigger buck!

We quickly made our way over to the area.  Sure enough there stood a magnificent water buck and 2 does.  Altus quickly set up the shooting sticks, and I took aim.  I actually suffered from buck fever at this point.  I was so nervous about making a bad shot.  I took a cleansing breath and squeezed the trigger.  The way he hunched up and tucked his tail, everyone knew I had hit him good.

My tracker immediately took off to look for his trail.  We followed behind, certain that we would find the buck right inside the tree line.  Problem was, he wasn’t there.  My niece spotted him walking toward the water.  I pulled my gun up, and waited for Altus to verify that he was the same buck.  We couldn’t be sure, so I waited.  We went back to where I had shot him, and started tracking from the beginning.  The trail led us right to the water’s edge.  There was a barrier of reeds 20 feet or more thick.  We couldn’t enter the water due to the possible presence of crocodiles and hippopotamus.  Almost on cue, we could hear hippos barking or grunting, it was an eerie sound coming from behind the reeds.

Pete. My tracker, and I heard what sounded like crashing into the water.  I was sure it was my buck, and he was down.  Despite the thought that we were so close to him, the decision was made to call it a day, and start looking again in the daylight.  That made for a long night.

The next morning, Altus, Pete, my niece Morgan and I picked up the trail again.  We circled the lake to see if he had exited the water, and the only trail we found was coming out right where he went in.  We found him not more than 20 yards from the water’s edge.  I was so happy and relieved at the same time!!  He was beautiful!!

Over all he had only traveled 150 yards, then back 20 yards closer to where we had started.  My tracker theorized that the buck exited the water shortly after we left, choosing to bed down under a corpse of trees.  I am so thankful he did.  I feared he would be eaten by crocodiles or so water logged the meat would be ruined.  Instead here he was, and not one bit of meat would go to waste.

 

This post originally was published on Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/06/10/waters-edge-water-buck-diane-hassinger/





Simon Says-with a Blue Wildebeest

10 10 2013

This post was originally published on Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/06/09/simon-says-with-a-wildebeest-diane-hassinger/

Who would have thought, all those years ago, playing Simon Says would have been preparing me for hunting skills!  Recently I had the opportunity to test my Simon Says skills with a Blue Wildebeest.  He of course got to be Simon. 

Simon Says “run quietly”.  Simon Says “Creep low to the ground”.  Simon Says “Back step”.  FREEZE!!  Oh no, Simon didn’t say so!!  You get to start at the beginning again!  I swear I could hear the local birds were laughing at us when we would get busted.

So my stalking went for 2 days with my target Wildebeest, Simon, calling the shots.  I would get close, but no shot opportunity existed.  

On the morning of my 3rd day, we spotted a bachelor herd, and in their midst was my shooter male.   The wind was perfect for a stalk.  We started our game again, but this time the odds seemed to be going my way.  When we crept along the brush, we were perfectly camouflaged to the wildebeest.  We took an hour and 15 minutes to cover 60 yards.  Sometimes we would gain only inches, other times we would stand frozen for several minutes to alleviate any concerns the herd might have.  Finally my PH Altus set the shooting sticks up, and I knew the right bull was in range and open.  About 50-60 yards away were 7 bulls, I had 2 openings in the brush , but the one on the far left and in back was the biggest male, and the one we were searching for.  As I waited for a clean shot, I calmed my racing heart and evened my breathing.  Finally the bull in front stepped away, and I squeezed the trigger on the one in the back.  Altus whispered “Perfect Shot!!” and we watched and listened.  The herd ran to the right around some brush, and we heard a crashing in the brush.  The herd then raced back to the left without my bull in tow.  We waited only a few minutes then headed off to start the tracking process.  Pete immediately found a pin head size spot of blood, and my heart sank, that’s it?  I was going over the shot in my head, over and over, when Pete yelled something in Afrikaans.  I didn’t understand the words, but I knew my bull was found.  He had only gone about 30 yards from my shot; he was indeed what we heard crash into the brush.

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He measured 27 1/2 “wide, with great bosses of 10 ½” for each circumference.  A few more measurements and Altus informed me that he should easily make the SCI Records.  My bull will be always be known to me as Simon, and I will cherish the game we played that day. 

Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger





Heart Shot Impala

10 10 2013

This post originally was published on Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/06/09/heart-shot-impala-diane-hassinger/

It was finally time!  We were about to take off for our adventure in South Africa.  We had been planning and saving for this trip for a long time.  I knew the different animals, the shot placements and their habits.   The only thing I had not researched enough was the airlines.  We had a lengthy delay in our first airport, which led to our plane landing after our flight to Johannesburg was due to take off.  Luckily a Gate Agent was waiting for us, and whisked us off at a very quick run, to our departure gate, where they had been holding the plane for us.  The flight was as good as you can get, for being stuck in a seat for 17 hours.  My sleeping bills that the Doctor prescribed wore off not even half way thru the flight, so I fidgeted and flopped around like a fish out of water.  There is just no way to get comfortable after that amount of time.

We arrived in Johannesburg the following day, and immediately tried to claim our bags.  We had a bit of a language barrier, and then it became apparent that we had no bags.  Both gun cases and the 4 suitcases were all missing.  I filed the necessary claim with the agent, who informed me that our bags were still in Washington, DC.  ?????  They wouldn’t put them on another flight until our claim was filed.  So the earliest we could expect our clothes and guns would be in 2 days.  After arranging for the gun import permits to be awarded without our presence, we made a quick detour to a Woolworth’s.  Of all things my first purchase on our trip of a lifetime would be for socks and under garments.

The evening we arrived at Amanita Safaris, we took a quick ride around the area to scope out the terrain and wildlife.  This was our first opportunity to view Impala, Giraffe, Kudu, Gemsbuck and more.  The morning could not come fast enough!

As all of luggage and guns were lost by the airlines, I was loaned a 30-06 by Erik.  After just a small adjustment, the rifle was sighted in.  Our hunt started and I was in awe of all the magnificent animals we were able to see.

We tried several spot and stalks, but the wind was swirling, and the impala would bound away from us.  Finally we spotted a huge herd of Impala, with one male that stood out.  As we crept through the brush I kept reminding myself that the shot placement is different than our North American animals.  We slowly got into position, and my PH Altus quickly set the shooting sticks.  I placed the crosshairs on the Impalas shoulder and prayed it was the right spot.  I fired.  The Impala dropped right where he had stood!  A perfect heart shot!!  That was a confidence booster to be sure.

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When we took my trophy back to the skinners, they informed me that I had hit the heart perfectly in the center; it was as if it had been measured out!  Boy did I need that to assure myself.  This was going to be our dream trip of a lifetime after all!

Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger





My First Big Game Animal-How I got started hunting.

10 10 2013

This post originally appeared on Ladies in Camo website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/05/04/diane-hassinger-my-first-big-game-animal/

Life is not fair!  Or at least that is how it seems to a twelve year old.  Add to that wanting to hunt and fish when neither of your parents enjoys either.  Add to that being a girl in 1972.

I wanted to hunt so badly, I would check out every magazine and book on hunting I could find at our local library.  Outdoor Life and Field and Stream became my educators.  I asked so many dumb questions of anyone who even vaguely knew anything about hunting.  I spent hours weekly riding the deer trails on our horses, observing the patterns of the deer.  I could ride right into a group of deer without them taking too much notice.

It seemed like divine intervention when my friend Cheryl talked her father into taking us for our Hunter Safety Certification.  We had about 30 participants in the course; 28 boys, me and Cheryl.  We took a lot of ribbing from the boys, and even a few of the fathers.  They felt we had no place in a “boys” class.  We didn’t mind, or at least didn’t let on to anyone that it bothered us.  Cheryl’s dad, having 6 daughters, was very supportive of girls being able to hunt.  His support made a huge difference in the tender sensibilities of a teenage girl.  By the end of the course, only 2 students rated a 100% on the test; me and Cheryl.  Instead of the boys being happy for us, they made sure we knew that hunting was a male sport.

I spent my teenage years fishing, hunting small game, riding horses, and high school sports.  I didn’t have the opportunity to do a big game hunt (anything bigger than a turkey) until I married Dale in 1979.  Both of us hunted to feed our growing family, and after the kids got big enough they joined with us.

My first BIG game hunt was for Elk of all things.  I had always enjoyed shooting my bow, but lacked the courage to try to hunt with it.  Finally I gave in to my need to go further with hunting and scheduled a hunt.  To say I was scared is an understatement.  I had studied shot placement till everyone was sick of listening to me question them.  I was shooting my bow hundreds of times a day to build up to a higher poundage.  I have the need to over study and research anything I am doing.  I guess that is my OCD.

Finally the day arrived and we took off on this next chapter of my life.  Dale was and still remains very supportive of me.  So I needed to do this not only for me, but to prove to him his support was not wasted.

I remember climbing into the “tree stand”, which was an old pallet nailed into a Y of a tree.  I had to watch where I placed my feet, for fear of slipping through the slats.  When I think of this now, I have to wonder “What the heck was I thinking!” No harness (no one wore them then), no pull up ropes, you toted everything up on your back, no cell phone, radio or gps (GASP!).  My tree stand was on a well-worn trail on the side of a steep embankment.  I tried to listen to every little noise, and kept glassing, looking for any sign of movement.  I did have a range finder with me, and had ranged several trees and rocks in hopes that I could use them as a range indicator.

Suddenly I hear what sounded like a stampede.  There were several cow elk and a 4X4 bull elk coming into range-fast!  I drew my bow and waited for the 4X4 to get close enough, and shot!  He turned tail and ran back down the hillside.  My guide who was a short distance away, heard the commotion, and headed over to me.  I still don’t know how I got down that rickety wood ladder; my knees were shaking something terrible.

We waited a short while, all the time my guide was asking was it a good shot.  HUH??  I think so, I don’t know, I was so nervous I couldn’t even remember.  Finally he gave up trying to get any useful information out of me, and we started after my bull.  We found him about 60 yards below my stand.  However he was still on his feet, although he was swaying back and forth.  The guide said to stick him again when I had a shot.  I told him I could shoot now.  He said “no you can’t”.  I said I could and released the arrow.  My shot was perfect!  He dropped instantly, of course rolling further down the hill.  “I can’t believe you made that shot” to which I replied “I told you I could”.

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The bad part of all this was that my elk was now at the very bottom of a very steep incline, and the truck was at the top.  By the time we had it loaded onto the truck, I was exhausted, but still exhilarated!  Later when we butchered the elk, we found that my first shot clipped the heart.  He was dying, just didn’t know it yet.  The second shot was right through the heart and 1 lung.

My 4X4 was mounted and hangs on our living room wall.  He is not a trophy to a lot of hunters, but he is a trophy in the true sense to me.  He was a big part of my confidence in my hunting abilities to be able to go on any hunt that catches my attention.

To this day I feel the pressure to prove myself capable, to prove my abilities, to compete with ghosts of my past.  Now I know I am up to the challenge!

Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger

Excerpts from Huntingmotherearth.com in Hunter Safety Course 1972  https://huntingmotherearth.com/2012/03/15/hunter-safety-course-1972/





The Adventures of Edie Ott-A Buck of a Lifetime

2 04 2013

The post was originally published on Ladies in Camo at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/04/01/edie-ott-buck-of-a-lifetime/

For several years I have tried to get drawn for one of the most coveted hunting tags.  Each year I knew this is it; I will finally be going on one of my bucket list hunts!  No such luck, until now!  This would be my once in a lifetime hunt!

When they contacted me that I had finally been drawn, a thousand questions popped into my mind.  I needed to know; what is the best time of year, what type of weather, best caliber, and of course the best person to guide me.  As luck would have it, my loving husband knew exactly who should guide me on this history making trip.  He is awesome that way!  When he realized I would be hunting this famed animal, he did everything in his power to make it happen.  And so arrangements were made, and off I went.

I didn’t realize how hard the hunt would be, both physically and mentally.  I sat in tree stands, blinds and stalked the meadows.  I would scrutinize every small sound or movement.  I was beginning to think they didn’t exist.  I had never hunted this hard or long for anything, without seeing at least one.  But I don’t give up!

The last morning of the hunt, I was feeling deflated, but I can’t shoot one in camp.  So off I went, once more.  This day started off much like the rest of them-nothing!  Then just before I was going to call it quits, I saw movement off to the left.  It wasn’t much; in fact the movement was so slight you could have almost imagined it.  I kept watching and wishing.

Finally I could see a small amount of antler.  Something was there!  It really was!  Slowly I made my way into a position to make out the animal clearly.  This was an extremely time consuming process, since I had to belly crawl over briars, rocks and poison ivy.  You try belly crawling when you don’t want to touch anything below you!  Eventually I was able to see the whole animal.  He was of mythical proportions!  I had found a Boone and Crocket to be sure!

I slowly slid the safety off of my .22 and tried to get my nerves to settle down.  This was an epic moment for me!  My heart was racing!  I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger.  Never have I heard a .22 bark like that, it echoed in the silence.  I saw the buck hunch up and take off.  I knew I got him good!  I waited for what seemed an eternity and went to find the blood trail.  There was a good trail and some fur, this should be easy.  I followed the trail for 20 yards more or less, and there, laid out in some ferns was my trophy buck!!!

I sent a text to my guide and husband.  Of course they thought I was joking, so I sent them a picture.  I am the only hunter that I know of that has actually tagged an elusive legendary jackalope!  I apologize for the picture, but my husband was so impressed, he couldn’t stop laughing while he took this.

I like to challenge myself, so next up on my bucket list:  a Snipe Hunt!

Finished Jackelope

Happy April Fool’s Day Everyone!

Photo Credit:  Photo Shop and a little Imagination