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

22 02 2014

 

 

11 Votes

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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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





SaskAdrenaline Bear Hunt

13 06 2012

This post was originally posted in the “Ladies in Camo Field Journal”

My Saskatchewan Black Bear. It was all I could do to lift his head for the picture! Photo: Diane Hassinger

My Saskatchewan Black Bear. It was all I could do to lift his head for the picture!
Photo: Diane Hassinger

Wow!  What a week!  I have spent the last week hunting black bear in Saskatchewan, Canada with SaskAdrenaline Outfitters.  I was joined by my husband Dale, brother-in-law Lonnie, and LIC Pat Hendrixon, as well as 3 other guys from Pennsylvania. I would be hunting with my Ten Point Crossbow, equipped with Swhacker Broadheads on Beman bolts.

The first night ten bear were seen, but none were considered shooters.  The next night, Mike Grundmann (the owner) and I spooked off a bear when he was dropping me off at my stand.  Mike said to watch, he felt certain the bear would come right back in.  I quickly settled myself into my stand, and set up the camcorder to film the area.  It did not take long before I was seeing black in the distance.  I turned on the camcorder and tried to keep my heart from bursting out of my chest!  The bear slowly circled the area, before coming in to the can.  I was trying to take in everything about this bear to determine if it was a sow or a boar.  A massive head, small ears, huge body, fairly long neck but small feet.  Mike had told me there was a big sow and boar at this stand, and I was fairly certain that this was the sow.  Then the bear stood up (and up)  Holy Cow was she tall!  I was as close to a heart attack as I have ever been!  She made the barrel look small.  My head was telling me this was a sow, but I still clicked off the safety and thought about shooting with my crossbow.

She looked off to the side and took off at a run.  At that point I looked around to see what could chase off a bear this big,a bigger bear of course!  This one was taller and had a deep crease in his forehead, his neck looked almost nonexistent and he had HUGE feet.  This was the male I was waiting for!  I waited only a few moments before releasing my bolt. I had a pass through but the shot looked a little low to me.  My bolt could be seen laying in front of the barrel, and showed good blood.  I spent the next half hour packing up and reviewing the video to check my shot.  I was slightly panicked because I never heard any death moans out of him.  I tried to call Mike to come pick me up, but he was out of range of the radio.  After lowering my equipment to the ground, I checked the arrow, and saw a good blood trail.

I soon was able to contact Mike, and he and Tim brought the quads in.  They only had to track for a very short distance before they could see my boar laid out in the swamp.  There was no ground shrinkage on this bear!  He was huge.  It took a lot of maneuvering to get the bear into the trailer, since he was to big to put onto the quad.

19 14/16" skull Photo: Diane Hassinger

19 14/16″ skull
Photo: Diane Hassinger

There was no scale, since it had broke during the previous hunts, but everyone felt it weighed between 350 and 400 pounds.  He measured 6’7″ and his skull measured a whopping 19 14/16″.

Each day before hunting, we would go fishing for pike.  We caught lots!  Some days we caught dozens in an hour or so.  None were of any great size, they were still a blast to catch!

The same night I shot my bear, Lonnie shot a 6’bear.  Next up to connect was Dale with a 6′ bear with a skull of 18 7/16″.  This is big enough to qualify for Pope and Young, and was shot with his Bowtech Compound Bow.  Pat took a 6’2″ bear with my Savage Lady Hunter rifle in 30-06.  This was a great bear, and she thought the rifle was “sweet”.

Eddy and Larry both shot nice bears to finish out the week.  We embark tomorrow on a 4 1/2 hour drive to Saskatoon, followed by flights to Denver and then on to Pittsburgh.  While I am sad that my hunt is over for this year, I am thrilled that we have already booked for next year.  Maybe a color phase bear can still be in my future!

Dale’s “Pope and Young” Bear
Skull measured 18 7/16″





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!





Eagle Lakes Outfitters Ladies Archery Deer Hunt

21 04 2012

Last October I had the privilege of joining Vicki Cianciarulo of tv’s The Choice, and her posse, at Eagle Lakes Outfitters in Pike County, Illinois. She was trying to film footage for her show, so we had camera crews going out with hunters to the fields, and filming our everyday activities too. Andrea Main, Teresa McCullough, Jillian Donabauer and my daughter Shannon also were included in this hunt. This was the first archery hunt I had been on since my mastectomy, and I was using a Ten Point crossbow with my handicap designation. It galled me to have to have a handicap license, but I was still unable to pull a compound bow at any weight.
My guide, Jim Halliday was wonderful. I connected instantly with him, and we had a great time together throughout the week. Everyone was seeing lots of does, and several small bucks, but nothing shootable. After 2 days and nothing happening, I had a really nice buck working his way into my area. I also had a group of does feeding 15 yards from my tree stand. Just as the buck was getting close enough to consider taking a shot, I had a doe snort and stomp her foot. There went my buck-gone! I turned to the doe and released my arrow. She ran up the small hill, and collapsed right in the middle of the lane. I texted Jim that I had shot a doe, to which he asked “is she dead”, I replied most definitely! He said this was the easiest tracking and dragging of a deer he had ever done! He was able to pull his truck right up to her.
With the ice broken, hunters started to fill their tags. One of Vicki’s posse shot a doe, her first. Then a girl from Ameristep shot a doe right before dark. It was decided to back out and come back in the morning. Unfortunately by the time the sun came up, the coyotes had eaten most of the doe.
For lunch one day the entire group went to a local Mexican Restaurant, Vicki’s treat. We had a great time, and great food. It is strange to be eating with video cameras filming you.
We had high winds the one day, with some of the hunters opting to stay in camp. I was put in a clamp on 20 foot high. After rocking and rolling for hours, I was afraid the only way I was going to hit a deer was to throw up on them. This is the only time I have gotten sea sick in a tree!
The last evening I had the buck from earlier in the week come back to my stand. I watched him make his way across the crp field. When he was at 30 yards, I took a broadside shot. He took off toward the top of the hill, veering to the left. I was hoping he would be piled up in the lane like my doe, but it was not to be. We looked that evening, but could not locate his trail. The next morning we tried again, but never did find him. Because we were walking through the woods and fields, Shannon had been placed in a nearby stand to take advantage of any deer pushed in that direction. It worked! She had a nice big doe come into her stand. She connected with her shot, but broke the front shoulder with the shot. She put a second arrow into the doe and was waiting for us with her doe when we got there.
Three doe were taken during this week and recovered. One doe was lost to coyotes, and my buck not recovered. Lots of wonderful memories were made, and lasting friendships started.

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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.