Planning Around the Rut and the Holidays

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Bugling Elk

 

 

 

That time of year is coming!

     When husbands sleep on the couch for alienating their wives by not planning out when they were supposed to be where and doing what for the holidays. In confusion, they decided to shimmy up a tree and now they’re in the doghouse! The holidays are stressful but joyous because it is the best time for hunting. Balancing work, family and religious obligation with hunting is difficult but not impossible.The best thing you can do is sit with your spouse or family, weigh out all the odds, consider all the challenges, and get an agreeable plan for when and where you’re expected to be, and when and where you’re going to hunt. Otherwise, you might be getting new pillows for Christmas so you can be comfortable on the couch!

Predict the Holidays

It may sound silly to suggest you need to predict the holidays because they fall on designated dates, but in reality, travel times, religious obligations, and the time required for shopping, cooking and entertaining vary greatly from year to year. When you make your plans for the year, know that at least one weekend in December needs to be devoted to shopping. Not every Saturday has to be spent at the mall, but consider that shopping close to Christmas eats up valuable time with the long lines and traffic.

If you’re going to travel, avoid planning to hunt the day before especially if you live more than 30 minutes away from your hunting location. You need time to bone out meat before you leave town and a half day isn’t usually enough especially if you have to drive a long distance to hunt. However, if you’re staying in town hunting the day before you’ll be entertaining is an excellent way to get time. Typically, if you can break a deal while your spouse cooks or cleans, you can sometimes have whole days for yourself if you share some of the work.

Small differences in situations can be exploited if you think ahead. Be diplomatic about sharing workloads and be good at begging.

Predicting the Rut

Predicting the rut is hard. In some places, impossible. For example, I hunt in Florida and I’ve witnessed rutting activity on Christmas morning, the last week of January, and on Valentine’s Day. All on the same property, in the same year. Deer here in Florida can keep their velvet all through winter until March. Up north, hunters can count on the rut like a kid on Christmas morning, it’s a wide world out there. Assuming you live north of Atlanta, you can reasonably expect the rut on the fourth week of November and plan to hunt around Thanksgiving as you target for the best hunting times. This is where the crux of planning to balance hunting with work and family comes in.

Know that choosing the best day of the year isn’t all that helpful if the weather takes a dip for the worst or the hunting pressure changes midway through the season and that monster buck you’ve been targeting skips town looking for love.

Don’t get wrapped up around picking the absolute best day, especially if you have other commitments. Pick the best day and hunt it as hard as you possibly can. That is the key to success.

Make Plans Early

When you set plans for hunting around the rut 99% of the time, that means hunting around Thanksgiving, black Friday, or (at the very least) the final paychecks before the Christmas season — these aren’t the times you necessarily want to be absent from your family, depend on your in-laws, or take unpaid time off work.

The two best things to do is plan early and be realistic. Planning early allows you to save some time off, save money for hunting and holiday expenses, and balance family expectations with your ambitions. I’d say no later than September 1st, you should know which weekends, afternoons, and days off work you’ll be up a tree, and which day you’ll be shopping, entertaining, and getting ready for the holidays.

Being creative on how you execute all of these can help tremendously but at the end of the day, you need to agree to a plan and stick to it early on if you’re going to be successful.

Put Your Plans in Writing!

Now, this is one of the most important points of the whole idea of planning. Put your plans in writing and have every party agree to them in advance. If you have in-laws, grandparents, aunt or uncles coming to town for the holidays, make sure they know what days you’re out hunting. Maybe even invite them along, just make sure there’s no surprises or hurt feelings. The best way to do this is to get either an electronic or printout calendar, sit with your spouse or important family, and write down exactly when you’re going where. Not just the hunting calendar but also the dates you’ll be traveling, shopping, cooking, or entertaining. This helps you strike a balance with your family and alerts you to any scheduling problems with getting ready for the season and taking days off work.

Make sure you put realistic times for packing, traveling, and taking care of game after the hunt. The last thing you want is to hunt the night before you’re set to fly out of town, bag a deer and then be boning it out 45 minutes before you need to leave for the airport! Same goes with spouses and extended family. They may say they’re alright with you leaving but if they traveled in from out of town, it might be best to skip the hunt to avoid bad situations!

Get the Family Involved

Want extra time to hunt? Entertain the family and make hunting on Thanksgiving a tradition! Many families do this down south where almost everyone hunts, but many families that are non-hunters don’t do this. It’s a shame! If you have a family member who dislikes hunting, offer to take them animal watching in an effort to do some in-season scouting. If you have a buck that is very elusive and you know there’s a slim chance of harvesting him anyway, take a new hunter along to see the rutting activity while you get to be very selective on which buck you take.

Some of my best holiday memories involved shooting, camping, and outdoor recreation. Don’t assume that just because a family member has never hunted that they aren’t interested. Many people just never had the opportunity and it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Take Days off Work

Of course, it’s best not to take time off work but you’ll inevitably have (and want) to take a step back from the rat race. Take off days strategically when you’ll be in the woods and when the family is coming to town, or you’ll be out preparing for the holidays. The days you’ll be taking off to entertain family can be used for hunting if you’re creative and driven! The day before and after the family leaves is often the best times to bargain for some time in the woods. Your family is coming and you need to buy groceries? Try and cut a deal to go grocery shopping very early, around 6:00 am. That way, you can skip every line and all the traffic, be done by 10:00 am at the latest, and you can be riding out to your stand to hunt that afternoon funnel!

Family leaving early to catch a flight back home? Volunteer to drive them to the airport and hunt after you dropped them off. Christmas shopping? Hunt before, shop in the evening.

Whole Days vs. Half Days

One of the best ways to spend more time hunting is by hunting half days. Whether it’s after a kid’s soccer game, after you run errands, or you split the chores for the days, and your spouse is willing to let you off the leash! You can scrounge up a ton of time for the woods if you adapt your tactics and are strategic with your planning:

Before the Rut

Before the rut, hunt during the evenings and afternoons. Especially before the October lull, just be on your stand about three hours before sundown. That gives you plenty of time during the day to work or get your business done, but it also gives you a lot of time to be on your post before the deer get up for their evening meal.

During the Rut

During the rut, you can pretty much hunt all day and expect action. The hard part is getting to your stand undetected. Look for windows of opportunity where you can hunt the morning. This is by far the best because the deer is up and moving from a long cold night, and that travel corridor or food plot is going to have a ton of activity.

After the Rut

Post rut hunt after church! Leave a little bit of time for deer to get used to the cold weather because they often won’t be up and moving just after the first light. Go to the sunrise service and be at your stand by 10:00 am. Hunt until late afternoon, then do your chores before you go to bed. This tactic is deadly when there’s snow on the ground and after cold snaps. These tactics also work if your boss allows you to take a half day off work here and there. You can spread out the time you’re in the woods and not have to plan whole paychecks around when you want to hunt.

Get Your Gear Ready

Your gear needs to be prepared to make sure you don’t waste valuable time. This means everything should be prepped and ready to go. It’s not a bad idea to even carry all the gear you need for a hunt in your truck 24/7 just in case the opportunity comes up for a hunt you didn’t plan! Even for the hunts you planned out months ago, you can rest easy and do other things getting ready for the holidays instead of cleaning and packing equipment. Where legal, even your rifle can be securely locked in your truck and pack all your gear stored in a weatherproof locking container in your truck’s bed. That way, you never need to pack; just gas up and go!

Don’t forget about a kit ready for after the shot — sharp knives, plastic sheeting, coolers, and butcher’s paper should all be in the garage ready to go. I like to keep all my processing equipment stored in the cooler that I am going to use to age the meat, including a tarp gloves and bleach to clean up after.

This system of gear planning and constant readiness means you don’t waste any time or ever forget anything. A huge bonus when time is essential!

Concluding Thoughts

Hunting around the holidays is a big balancing act. You want to fill all your tags and keep the freezer stocked. On the other hand, there are people who want to see you. Try and satisfy everyone by planning, compromising, and not wasting valuable time. At the very least, be flexible. Sometimes even the best plans don’t work out and a delayed flight, a snow storm, or a holiday mishap can mean no hunting for you. It’s far better to miss a hunt than hurt a loved one’s feelings by not being around.

Whether around the dinner table or in the woods, fall is a wonderful time of the year with lots of activities you want to tend to. Just remember, the memories you make during the holidays can never be taken back.

 

Bio: Almo Gregor is a firearm enthusiast, an avid hunter, and a strong lifelong 2nd amendment supporter. Outdoors, hunting and shooting were a big part of his childhood and he continues with these traditions in his personal and professional life, passing the knowledge to others through freelance writing.

 

Raising An Outdoors Girl

Raising An Outdoors Girl

By: Morgan Garcia

EvoOutdoors Team Member, Armed Rogue

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Total Archery Challenge: 7 months pregnant

I’m about to become a first time parent. I’m having a girl and we couldn’t be more excited.

I have always loved the outdoors. I felt like I was outside all the time when I wasn’t in school. I had this big forest behind the house where I grew up and I’d always take my dog and friends up there and just wander around. In general, I was outside playing all the time. I was constantly riding my bicycle everywhere, too. We also camped quite a bit in the summer months.

However, I never hunted, never fished, was never around guns or archery or knives or any of that sort of stuff. Even though I may not have had those experiences growing up, I adopted them later in life.

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Now that I’m about to have a girl, I want to be able to pass my knowledge onto her and have her be a well-rounded individual with respect for nature and the drive to have experiences outside of technology.

Kids these days, (feel free to imagine me sitting in a rocking chair out on the front porch, shaking my fist at them dang kids to get off my lawn), are spending more time indoors playing with their tablets, smartphones or video games and practically no time outside using their imagination or honing a skill or hobby. I have nothing against technology, I’m pretty addicted to my smartphone sometimes. However, there needs to be a good balance. And it’s up to us as her parents, to teach her that balance.

I want to instill into my child the importance of the outdoors. I want to teach her how to shoot a bow, how to shoot a gun (and in turn, teach her proper gun safety), how to fish, how to hunt, how to find wild edibles, how to purify water, how to make a fire, how to setup your own campsite without a tent, etc.

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I am also eager to teach her how to defend herself. I’d love to get her into MMA or some other form of martial arts so that nobody is ever able to take advantage of her.

I can’t tell you how many times I am told, “Just wait for the baby to come, then you won’t have time to do anything ever again.”

I don’t understand that thought process.

I want my child to be apart of our lives and hobbies, and of course for her to discover her own likes and dislikes. When we go to the shooting range, she’s coming with (don’t worry, we have some sweet eye protection and ear muffs for her)! When we go hunting, she’s coming with. When I go for a walk or run, she’s coming with. When we go camping, she’s coming with. When we go fishing, she’s coming with.

You get the idea.

How did you instill the love of the outdoors in your son or daughter?

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Morgan resides in central Texas where she spends her time either participating in shooting competitions, 3-D archery shoots, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, prepping for disasters and emergencies, training for a 5/10K or just enjoying all that the Texas outdoors has to offer.

5 Ways to Get Her to Hunt: From a girl who loves hunting

5 Ways to Get Her to Hunt

From a girl who loves hunting

By: Molly Keefe

EvoOutdoors Team Member & Fit Huntress 

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It’s no surprise that the hunting industry is male dominated, BUT there are some awesome ladies making their way in and becoming great role models for young women and girls!  This is written for anyone looking for ways to share the hunting lifestyle with the special girl in your life, and keep her coming back!

I was raised in a hunting family, my Dad has a passion for upland bird hunting, shooting trap, and he enjoys deer hunting.  I was lucky enough to have such a strong male role model who encouraged me to come along but never made it feel like I was pressured to do something I wasn’t interested in.  I found my love of the outdoors was not just hunting, it was being out in the woods during the most beautiful time of the year, it was watching our dogs look for birds, and making memories with my Dad that I will never forget. He planted the seed  and has been able to watch it grow into a lifestyle with my own family!  I married an outdoorsman and we now have a two year old daughter we already have tagging along with us.

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  • Take her along: Yes, she’s a girl! But girls don’t always want to stay home, girls love adventure too!  Teach her that hunting isn’t all about harvesting an animal,  teach her how to check trail cameras, how to track the movement of deer, where to put food plots and mineral stations.  Let her help you!  Show her how to put up a deer stand, with teaching her how to do things you give her the tools and confidence to hunt on her own someday. Maybe she’s not old enough to hunt yet?  Take her with you anyway!  Guess what she gets the thrill of seeing?  Watching YOU, her role model call some ducks into your spread, or watching a doe and a fawn eating acorns 20 yds away, maybe it’s sitting on a mountain side while the sun rises.
  • Whatever it is that you do, she gets to be with you.

  • Make her comfortable: The thing about being a female in the woods, going to the bathroom is awkward, cold, and uncomfortable.  Let her know where she could relieve herself, there’s not much worse than sitting in a cold deer stand, shivering…and feeling like your bladder is going to explode at any minute!  You don’t need to hold her hand but simply letting her know a private spot close by will do it.  If it’s cold out, bring extra hand warmers, gloves, a blanket, or extra snacks. Things that you usually don’t think of because maybe you’re used to the cold! And those snacks?  Bring out some homemade deer or goose jerky!  And while she huddles under her blanket you can whisper to her how you shot that deer right out of this very stand!
  • The best thing you can do is make a positive memory, and she will want to come back again!

  • Set her up for success: By success I don’t mean make sure she harvests an animal her first time out.  There’s a process that starts WAY before hunting!  Let’s say she’s never shot a shotgun before, start her out with something small like a 20 gauge.  Make sure you teach her how to take it apart, put it back together, load and unload it, and how to properly mount it.  Don’t give her a 50lb bow and expect her to pull it back.  Start her out with a low draw weight and teach her how to work her way up!  Show her the proper form and share the excitement with her when she’s able to shoot 20 yds accurately!
  • Everything goes back to the basics, always encourage her.  If she misses don’t tease her, watch her next shot and see if she needs help with her form.  

  • Share your pride!: Brag. Her. UP! I mean it! I’m 26 and when my Dad tells our hunting stories to others and talks about that perfect shot, or watching the Northern Lights after I harvested a deer. I see the pride in his face, and my heart just SOARS! Tell anyone who will listen how proud you are! How amazing she is and how she caught the biggest fish that day!  Or how she sat for 8 hours in -15 degrees and didn’t complain, she’s a tough girl.  That right there, will make your girl feel amazing.  
  • Be the example: You can’t expect her to just go out and start shooting a shotgun by herself. Or be able to shoot a tight group of arrows picking up her bow one time.  You are the example she needs to see!  Practice together, because it’s not just the practicing she will remember…it’s spending time with you.  And when she beats you because she will celebrate!  
  • You just found a lifelong hunting buddy.

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Molly Keefe hails from Minnesota where she loves the outdoors, fitness, hunting for grouse, ducks, geese, pheasant, turkeys and deer. Especially bowhunting. She is a huge animal lover and has a hobby far with a lot of animals.

 

Small Spaces, Big Hearts: Lessons learned from modern day pioneer life

Small Spaces, Big Hearts:

Lessons learned from modern day pioneer life

Kristin Parma, EvoOutdoors Media Coordinator

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There has always been a deep yearning in my heart for dirt. I didn’t have a rural upbringing and despite my efforts to shake it, dirt seems to follow me everywhere I go.

I am the coworker that tracked the mud into the office.

I am the girl changing from high heels to snake boots daily.

My own mother calls me her “mud puppy” as a term of endearment.

When 30 acres of dirt and mesquite covered brush became our dream come true, we were more than 2,000 miles away. I had only seen photos of the property and as difficult as it was to leave my hometown, the dirt called. It had been a long time coming and we were both eager to get there. We left our quaint, beautiful, three bedroom home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley for an unpredictable life. The truck acting as our oxen and the fifth wheel our covered wagon, we made the journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Lone Star state. We were modern day pioneers.

Kristin and Adam Parma pose for Christmas portraits on their ranch in Adkins, TX.

My husband, Adam and I have lived that existence and the lifestyle that comes with it for two years on our South Texas property, affectionately called the Czech Out Ranch. We don’t have cable but I am told that numerous reality TV shows currently depict small space living as simple, easy and affordable.

NEWS FLASH:

Small space living is not glamorous.

Small space coupled with farm life is not for everyone. It is not always peaceful or kind. In fact, it is downright difficult at times. Despite that, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have learned so many beneficial lessons these past two years as my soul has been tested, friendships stretched, and marriage tried and strengthened. As Adam and I prepare ourselves in the building of our custom home on the property, the lessons that we have learned from our journey have been at the forefront of our minds. These are lessons that we can all learn from and that I hope we will continue to remember throughout our lives.

  1. Less is more.

People have often told me, “I just couldn’t do it, where would I put all my _____?” Hunting gear, clothes, craft supplies, etc. My response is always the same, “You’d be amazed at what you can fit in less than 400 square feet of living space. What you can live without.”

Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

Living in a tiny space has taught me so much about the importance of decluttering. Not only is it necessary when living in a small space but it is soul changing and stress relieving. When you go through all your worldly possessions and ask yourself the question, will my quality of life change without this? Two things happen. You are released from the stress that being attached to inanimate objects has on you or you truly cherish the item you decide to keep. It is all about priorities.

  1. Necessity vs. Comfort

Along the same lines of the “Less is more” concept, on a daily basis we are met with the troubling 21st century consumer question:

Do I want it or do I need it? If I do need it how will I fit it in our tiny space?

To make room for ANY item in our small dwelling means that we value it immensely- from a loaf of bread to a kitchen aid mixer. It also means being inventive with the space you do have.

Many items in our small space have multiple purposes. Adam handmade our cedar chest which acts as our coffee table and opens up for storage purposes. We jokingly call it the wine cellar, because well, that’s where we keep the wine. Adam also made a bird stand for our canary’s cage to sit on. That bird stand has two compartments. The top compartment is used to store animal supplies and the bottom is a hidden litter box for our cats to use. There are also some built in items that make storage easier, such as a pull out pantry and a laundry shoot- yes a laundry shoot.

In addition, living in a small space means saying no to many things because we don’t have the luxury of space to accommodate random decorations or adornments. When it comes to clothes shopping I follow the one in, one out rule. If I purchase something new I have to donate something old. Not only does this save space but it makes me feel good.

248Despite not purchasing many material items, we do add items to our lives that bring fulfillment and real joy despite our small space situation. These past two years we have added a dog and a kitten to our menagerie of indoor pets. When we added our collie Jane to our lives almost a month after moving to the Czech Out Ranch it added an even bigger space dilemma. We sacrificed our table and chairs to accommodate a wire kennel for crating purposes. In return, Jane fulfills our heart and home with laughter, purpose and joy.

 

  1. Focus on the Outdoors

My absolute favorite thing about small space living is that I spend the majority of my time outside. Whether it’s cooking, playing with the dog, farm chores, walking the property, hunting or gardening, rain or shine- my life happens outdoors.

329The time period between moving from Oregon to Texas was a rough two months of harsh, frigid temperatures and snow storms in my parent’s driveway. I remember the propane heater broke and we were without electrical hookups. To combat the stressfulness of life, Adam and I spent every single weekend of that two months hunting. Laying in marshlands looking up at the sky or in a deer blind watching the snow fall. The urge to be outdoors constantly carried over when we reached the Czech Out Ranch where we now spend 75% of our free time outside tending to farm animals, a large garden, hunting the property, trail running and enjoying nature’s splendor.

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Czech Out Ranch entrance gate

This is a lifestyle that has molded us into the people we are today. When people complain about the weather, we shrug our shoulders because it doesn’t affect us the same way it affects others. Even as we design our home we are reminded of the outdoors and have a deep yearning to pay homage to nature within it. We want to prioritize having outdoor living space as opposed to indoor space and limit our human footprint on the property we love so dear.

  1. Lower carbon footprint. Less waste.

13221694_579229795583004_2741015676691318438_nWe all consume. We’re all guilty of polluting. It is difficult to live a completely whole and “righteously” earth friendly life. I am a firm believer that small steps can make big impacts.

Living small also means storing small. Our fridge is small. Our pantry is small. As much as I say I hate the small space, it also means less food waste. Food does not get stuck in the never-ending abyss of the “back of the fridge.” And I often buy fresher produce and groceries, harvesting only what I need from the garden. When something does go bad it goes to the farm animals or the compost pile, limiting landfill waste.

Less water is wasted running long hot showers because it is just not possible in our small space. I have become the queen of the quick shower so much so that when I am staying in a hotel, a long shower just doesn’t seem right anymore. In our small space we have to make decisions about whether to run the washer for laundry, shower, or do the dishes on a weekly basis. We also dry our laundry on the line. A perk of living in South Texas.

In general, being more environmentally aware of our carbon footprint has inspired us to build what most folks might consider a small home with eco-friendly options. So that when we do have the luxuries of a large fridge, a dishwasher and more we still feel good about what the time without them taught us.

  1. Appreciate the little things.

Overall, I have learned the lesson to appreciate the little things in life that I often took for granted. Most of these “little things” are actually big things – electricity, water, hot water, water pressure, garbage service, a conventional oven, a bathtub, a large closet. These are all things that I have lived without at some point during this time in my life. I have always been an avid camper and outdoors person however, to actually live without some of these luxuries for over two years continues to be life altering.

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Installing electrical wire

As much as I am proud of our accomplishments I will admit there have been moments when I felt ashamed of living in an unconventional home. When the hard times were just too much to bare. Those “bad times” have become some of our most shared moments with others. The time the heater broke in a snow storm, blowing out a tire on a major highway in California, breaking the pull cord on the generator at six in the morning before coffee was brewed, digging trenches for electricity, losing electricity, hauling trash & recycling, flooding water from the shower and losing use of the fridge (which meant keeping groceries in the cooler for a week) are just a few of the memorable events. To really appreciate what you have you have to live a little uncomfortably sometimes.

Make no mistake there have been a lot of positive and memorable moments during this time period in our life as well. Enjoying weekday dinners together outside watching the sunset, evening walks around the property discovering new wildflowers, critter tracks and more, dancing in the living room/kitchen/dining room, lying in bed one minute and hunting in the “backyard” the next, sharing the property with friends and introducing others to outdoor activities, innumerable amounts of laughter playing with a hyper puppy in a small space watching as she bounces off the walls, almost literally, and many more cherished good times with my best friend and husband.

In the end the positives out way the negatives. Both make up our unique modern day pioneer story and how we have found deep appreciation for the big and little things in life.

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Venison Crock Pot Lasagna

Venison Crock Pot Lasagna

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 If your a guy like me who can bring the wild game to the table but can’t cook it…Then a crock pot is what you need! It’s so simple, follow directions, turn it on and forget it. The meals taste great and there always hot. It’s the perfect way to end a long day sitting in the woods. This recipe for venison crock pot lasagna is one of my favorite meals!
Ingredients:
1.5lbs of ground venison
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
un cooked lasagna noodles
small container of cottage cheese
1 egg
1 bag of 16oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
small onion
garlic
Step 1: Brown venison with onion and garlic. Mix the sauce with browned meat.
Step 2: In a bowl mix cottage cheese with one egg.
Step 3: Mix mozzarella cheese and Parmesan in a separate bowl and keep on hand.
Step 4: Place small among of sauce on the bottom of crock pot, then start layering uncooked noodles,cottage cheese mixture, then sauce then mozzarella cheese. Keep layering like this til crock pot is full.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours. ENJOY!
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“To me taking someone out and getting them into what I love doing is just as rewarding as if I were to hammer a big buck, turkey or catch a huge fish. The smiles make it all worth it.” -Ryan Van Lew

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

by Andrea Haas

Team member EvoOutdoors/Huntress View

Spring is near and soon the weather will be warming up, flowers will be blooming and everything will be turning green. Why not get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors? Here’s a list of 5 fun outdoor activities to try this spring!

  • Geo-caching

Geo-caching is hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. You will need to go to www.geocaching.com and register for a free membership, enter your zip code to search for geocaches in your area, and then enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS device. Basically, geocaching is a real world outdoor treasure hunting game! Not only would it be fun to try and find each hidden geocache, you will get to enjoy the different scenery along the way to the different locations!

  • Morel Mushroom Hunting

DSC_0016_copy2Morel mushrooms usually start to pop up around April, when the temperature starts to stay in the 60’s. Not only are they fun to look for, they taste amazing! Trust me, they are worth searching for.

South facing slopes will get more sun and that’s where you will probably find the first ones. I had the best luck finding them under oak trees on my property last year, but they also tend to grow under Elm, Ash and Poplar trees. Searching for them on a muggy day after a rain shower will probably be your best bet. Once you find one, keep looking around that area, as you will likely find more close by! Once you get home soak them in water for a couple of hours to rinse out any bugs and then they’re ready to eat!

Here is how I made mine: (link for recipe, or feel free to post the recipe in this blog) http://huntressview.blogspot.com/2015/04/fried-morel-mushrooms-recipe.html

  • Photography

Learning your way around a digital camera can be tricky, but you don’t have to be a professional photographer to enjoy taking pictures. I feel one of the best ways to learn is to just get outside and do it! I have had a digital camera for a few years but have never tried to use it outside of auto mode until about a month ago. Taking pictures of wildlife has proven to be a great way for me to learn and spring is a great time of year to do just that!

I started by getting my camera off of auto and taking multiple pictures of the same object, but changing the settings as I go. This helped me identify the effect that each setting change had on each photo.  After that, I tried photographing wildlife. I noticed there had been a lot of ducks on our pond so I set up a ground blind on the pond bank and got in it the following weekend before the ducks arrived at sunrise. I was surprised that they paid no attention to me and I actually got some decent photos for my first try off of auto!

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  • Remote Photography

11150154_1072240759459432_4198246813710117181_nIf you’d like to get unique photos of wildlife but don’t want to take the pictures yourself, I recommend my personal favorite outdoor hobby, trail camming, aka remote photography.  Trail cameras are mostly used by hunters to scout for wildlife during hunting season but you don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy using them! Some of my favorite trail camera pictures are from spring and summer when there’s not even a hunting season open.

I__00034If you have private property, try finding a unique spot to hang a camera and see what shows up! You’ll be surprised at the variety of wildlife that you’ll get on camera that you never even knew were there!

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

To paddle board you stand on the board, which looks similar to a surf board, with a paddle in hand and use the paddle to propel yourself forward on the water. This can be done on the ocean, lake or river and is an excellent full body workout!

Some places will rent you the equipment that you’ll need, that way you won’t have to go out and buy it all yourself. If you do choose to buy the equipment, here’s what you will need:

-Stand up paddle board

-Paddle

-Life jacket or personal flotation device

-Leash (It attaches your SUP to you, in case you fall off)

Although I have yet to try paddle boarding for myself, it is something that I plan on trying this year! I’ve heard from people who have tried it that since you are standing at your full height on the paddle board you get a better view of the surroundings than if you were sitting in a boat, and you are able to see the fish swimming below you!

My friend Samantha Andrews shared this photo with me on her SUP

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Spring is a great time to get outside and try something new. Whether you live in the country or in the city, you should be able to find somewhere close to you to try at least one of these outdoor activities!

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“During the months leading up to hunting season I can be found on our tractor plowing and disking our fields, planting food plots, scouting for deer sign, hanging tree stands and checking trail cams. By being a part of this preparation process I have a deeper appreciation for hunting and more respect for the animals that I harvest.” -Andrea Haas

 

9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

 9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

Sarah Gaffney

EvoOutdoors Team Member

lab 1 Even though hunting season is over, your hunting dog needs consistent work to stay in shape for next season. Without work during the off-season, your dog will become out of shape and likely forget many of the lessons it learned during last season. A year-round conditioning program offers the obvious benefits of making your dog more productive during the hunting season but it also provides for an overall healthier dog too. Healthy physical condition will likely mean a longer, more comfortable life for your hunting companion.

Williams 1Sloan and Samantha Williams of S&S Outdoors have a passion for the outdoors that developed at an early age. Hunting dogs have been a part of their lives since the day they were born. They were raised by a dad that loved to hunt and a mom that loved dogs which promoted a lifestyle that is often not enjoyed by girls. Sloan and Samantha have proven to be exceptions.  To them, it made sense to combine both of the family’s passions into a career that they not only excelled at, but love.

The sister’s share, “A dog that stays in shape throughout the summer will hunt harder and last longer in the fall.”

The Williams’ sisters use this time to also keep their retriever’s hunting skills sharp through regular training. Therefore, killing two birds with one stone [pun intended].

Arguably, nothing is more important than keeping your dog in top physical condition. There’s no better way to keep any breed of hunting dog in good shape than daily exercise. Whether you throw a ball, a stick, or a bumper—get your dog on their feet and moving. Here are some tips given by the Williams’ sisters that will ensure you and your companion a long and healthy hunting season.

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  1. Your dog may not admit when their tired, so be careful not to overdo it. Keep an eye on them and know your dogs limits. Short fun training sessions are just as important; remember your dog misses hunting season just as much as you do—so keep training enjoyable.
  2. Labs and other retrievers are built to swim. Swimming is extremely gentle on dog’s joints and provides a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time.
  3. Simply exposing your dog in the off-season to the scent of birds. This is especially important for puppies and young dogs with little experience on live birds.
  4. Keep challenging your dog, but also add some fun simple days in the mix. If you noticed something your dog wasn’t as strong with, work on improving that area. You will get out of your dog what you put into them!!
  5. DIET- You want to make sure you are feeding your dog high quality food to help them perform to the best of their abilities. A higher protein food will help keep the “good” fat on your dog that they need!
  6. OBEDIENCE- You want to make sure your dog is going to follow your every command. This is a great tool to keep your dog safe and out of harm’s way!
  7. HUNTING SCENARIOS- You want to make sure you set up some hunting scenarios to prepare your dog for the season. (gun shots, decoys, birds, water- whatever type of hunting conditions you will be in)!FB_IMG_1456538752968 (1)
  8. FIGURE- Your dog needs to be in good shape. You don’t want them under weight or over weight. Either way you are putting their health and well being at risk. Your first priority should always be doing what’s best for your hunting companion!!
  9. Always make sure to keep a good eye on your dog – their safety comes before everything else! When training or hunting make sure they don’t get over heated, too cold, or worn down! Your dog can be the best hunting partner of your lifetime if you give them the right skill set to do so!

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Sloan and Samantha of S&S Outdoors combined their love for hunting and the outdoors with their love for dogs. Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, S&S Outdoors offers retriever and gun dog training, upland training, HRC Event training, obedience, boarding, puppy socialization as well as Labrador Retriever breeding. The award winning sisters are some of the best dog trainers in the area and are eager to meet your pup and get them ready for the hunt. For more information contact info@sandsoutdoors.com  or call (704)577-2511

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Sarah was born and raised in South Eastern Pennsylvania where she followed the footsteps of her father pursuing all the game the land has to offer. Her passion ranges from coon-hunting to trapping as well as hunting whitetails. As with family traditions Sarah has embraced the outdoor lifestyle. She is an avid hunter whose focus is her hunting dogs. Sarah raises, trains and hunts Redbone Coonhounds and Black Labrador Retrievers.

Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

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Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

By Sarah Fromenthal

EvoOutdoors Team Member

So you’ve gone out and harvested yourself some wild game. What pairs well with the fresh, “free” food you just harvested? That’s right…. fresh, “free” vegetables from your own vegetable garden in your back yard! What could be better than a meal prepared by yourself, from items you harvested yourself?
Growing up, I had the benefit of watching my parents and grandparents, year after year, grow a fairly large, successful garden. When it came time to do mine own, I began to do my research and realized there is a lot more to it than just throwing seeds into dirt.

A backyard garden can be the most rewarding or the most painful process, depending on the amount of effort and forethought put into it.

It takes the realization that gardening is more of a long term process than a weekend project to be successful. I compiled a list of a few things you may want to research on your own before starting your first garden.
What are you planting? This part should be fairly simple right?

  • First take into consideration what do you like to eat. Think of the recipes you most commonly eat and what fresh produce it takes to prepare that meal. Does your family consume more venison spaghetti than the law allows? Plan on planting some tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and possibly fresh herbs.
  • If you produce too many, will you have a way to preserve it such as canning, freezing, donate to more than happy to accept neighbors, sell at a local farmers market, etc?
  • Do you plan on getting small plants from a local nursery or starting from seeds? If getting seeds please read the seed packet carefully for planting instructions. Some seeds need to be sewn indoors before being planted outside, while others prefer to be planted directly into the garden.
  • Keep in mind there are hundreds of varieties of the most basic vegetable. Look at your local agricultral publications to find varieties that have proven to work best in your area.
  • Some plants benefit from being grown next to certain plants while others when planted close by will cause problems for each other through disease, bugs, etc. This is called companion planting. Think its just by chance that basil pairs well with tomatoes in many dishes? Nope! Basil is often grown in the garden next to tomatoes. This pairing helps with repelling pests while attracting bees for pollination. In addition, it improves the flavorings of your tomatoes.

Where to plant?

  • What kind of garden do you want to have? Old fashion rows in the dirt, raised bed, vertical gardening, flower pots, etc. I’ve also seen people plant directly into a bag of potting soil.
  • How much of a space are you are willing to sacrifice from your yard? How much do you plan on planting? Are you feeding yourself, your family, or the whole neighborhood? Keep in mind a larger garden is a larger time spent tending to the garden. Also remember bigger plants (tomatoes, eggplants, squash, etc) need more space per plant
  • Take into consideration you will need a spot that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Also think about water drainage; you don’t want a spot that water collects in your yard. Most importantly you will need access to a water source near by unless you want to haul pails of water.

Get into your “zone”!

  • What is a zone you ask? The USDA has established a map called the Plant Hardiness zone map.  This map helps to determine minimum temperature ranges of your local area. When choosing your plants, look closely on the plant tag or seed pack and they will often tell you planting schedules based on this or similar zones.
  • Each plant has a specific “growing season” in which they thrive. For example, tomatoes love warm weather and aren’t very cold hardy. Because I live in Louisiana where it warm for most of the year, I have a larger “growing season” for tomatoes compared to my friends further north who may only get warm enough weather for only a few weeks a year. All this information on the plants you chose can be found with very little effort online.
  • Soil types, minerals, and pH vary from place to place. You should send off a sample of your soil to your local Ag center for soil testing. They should be able to tell you what needs to be added to your soil prior to planting. Either amend your soil according to their suggestions or chose plants to fit with your soil type.
  • Warmer areas tend to have a larger bug problem. Have a pesticide plan in your mind. If you are choosing to go a more natural route with pesticides, research more organic options and ideas on companion planting to help reduce the bugs.

Use some common sense:

  •  Don’t “Go Big or Go Home”! Start off small and manageable. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at first and you can always expand next season. Also, you won’t need the fanciest of tools to get started. A simple, rake, spade, trowel, and pruners will get you far.
  • Ask plenty of questions. Online resources are there by the millions (just be sure to look up more area specific information) or go to a local nursery. Use local Ag center publications. They are often free and full on great information. Youtube is also a great tool to see other’s techniques.
  •  Recognize symptoms before they become a major problem and fix it before the problem turns into a disaster. For example, if you see a couple of bugs on your lettuce, look into a way to get rid of them before you come back to a half chewed up plant or they spread to others.
  • Don’t forget some plants require a little extra support from trellises, stakes, cages, etc. Some require special pruning, fertilization, etc. Want free, easy, fertilizer? start your own compost pile from uncooked kitchen scraps. Anything from paper products, uncooked fruits and veggies, the fish you filleted for dinner, shellfish peelings, egg shells, etc. can be collected and made into a compost pile while cutting back on your waste.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. -Audrey Hepburn

Now that I’ve given you enough to get you a good starting point to begin your research, I will tell you how I started my garden last spring. I first decided I wanted a raised bed. This would help decrease my weeds, give me good soil drainage when we get our crazy spring monsoons, and I could personally keep better control of my soil type. I simply picked a spot, laid out my timber, and got to work. I first took my shovel and removed the top layer of grass (not a required step but it will definitely cut back on the weeds). I then screwed together my timber and I drove some heavy duty angle iron into the ground and screwed it into my timber for support. The angle iron step is not a necessity, but the weight of the soil can easily cause your boards to bow outwards. I then laid out a layer of flattened card board boxes and news papers as an additional weed barrier before adding my soil. I personally used a 25:75 mix of bagged topsoil and garden soil to promote good drainage and aeration. I also chose to go the “difficult route” and start all my plants from seeds.  Yes, over the course of the growing season, I struggled with bugs and plant disease, but as i previously mentioned, it is important to make these observations early and correct them. After long weeks of drawn out anticipation but very little effort, I began to see my little seeds grow and turn into huge plants which then turned into vegetables that we were able to eat.

A few things that I learned along the way in my first year:

  • Do not lose your cool when one plant seems not to be growing as hearty as the others, it may just need a little more TLC but will soon catch up with the others.
  • Checking the buds every twenty minutes will not help them grow faster.
  • Bees love the garden. They will pay little to no attention to you working in the garden and are not there to attack. Lizards are also a necessity to keep some of the bugs at bay.
  • I needed stronger stakes for my tomato plants that got carried away and had the tiny metals ones nearly bent in half.
  • Try growing something you’ve never tried before and it’ll force you to get creative with recipes.
  • I just love my garden. Growing and hunting my own food gives me a true appreciation for what I’m putting in my mouth and how it affects the way my body functions compared to junk food.

 

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I was born, raised, and am currently living in Thibodaux LA (about an hour SW of New Orleans). There is nothing I don’t at least attempt to do. Gardening, cooking, kayaking, bow fishing, crafts, hunting, etc. I like to stay constantly busy.

Going Greek: Venison Gyros

Going Greek: Venison Gyros

Adam Parma, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

Kristin Parma, EvoOutdoors Media

“Gee-ro”

“J-eye-ro”

“Hee-ro”

I still don’t know how to pronounce it however, no matter which pronunciation you decide, the Gyro sandwich has been deemed an American-Greek fast food staple. Served at festivals, carnivals and a select number of Mediterranean restaurants around the United States, the Gyro sandwich is a delicacy that I don’t often get to eat, but absolutely savor when I do.

According to Whats Cooking America the Gyro type of sandwich has been known, and sold on the streets of Greece, the Middle East, and Turkey for hundreds of years. Greek historians believe that the dish originated during Alexander The Great’s time when his soldiers used their knives to skewer meat that they turned over fires. Even today, a proper gyro is made with meat cut off a big cylinder of well-seasoned lamb or beef on a slowly rotating vertical spit called a gyro.

I don’t know about you but I don’t have a slow turning vertical spit in my kitchen. Heck, I barely have a kitchen! If you’re anything like us, you like to think outside the box when it comes to your wild game meat. After all, you worked hard to harvest the animal and what better way to honor your hard work than to experiment with different recipes.

Here is our own take on a venison gyro, or as Adam calls it a “Deer-ro”

Ingredients:

2 lbs venison steak- any cut.

We used a package of deer venison steak at the very bottom of the freezer…you know, that package that is unmarked and questionable. The one that clearly you were either too tired to label during processing or didn’t even know what to call it. Any cut and type of venison meat will do, from deer to exotic game.

Olive oil

Unsalted butter

1 white onion

Salt, pepper, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, garlic and any other spice combinations you may like- oregano and mint would be good!

Pita bread

Feta Cheese

Tzatziki sauce

Typically you can buy tzatziki sauce in your local grocery store. Store bought has a very strong dill flavor and I like mine a little more diluted. Click on the link for an EASY TZATZIKI recipe which you can tweak to satisfy your pallet.

Roma tomato, sliced

Romaine lettuce, shredded

Hot sauce- Because we live in the South y’all

Directions:

1. Thinly slice one white onion and the venison steak.20151130_183658

2. Season with spices. 20151130_185330

 

3. Using a cast iron skillet, heat and coat pan with olive oil and a tablespoon of butter.  Add. venison and onion mix. Sear venison on both sides, making sure not to overcook but letting a crust form on the edges of the meat (that will give it the true gyro texture!). Add more olive oil/butter as needed. 20151130_1856134. Assemble sandwiches by heating pita bread. Layer tzatziki sauce, meat and onions, lettuce, tomato, feta cheese.

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Add hot sauce for a spicy kick!

5. If you are feeling really creative, wrap your Gyro sandwich in foil for that real street food feeling. Enjoy!

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Kristin and Adam Parma pose for Christmas portraits on their ranch in Adkins, TX.

Adam and Kristin Parma co-own the Czech Out Ranch in Adkins, Texas.

Healthy Living: The Effects of Western Hunting on a Southern Girl

In Louisiana most whitetail deer hunting is done on private land. You can ride an ATV up to any spot, throw a lock up in a tree and sit for hours. Do not get me wrong, many south Louisiana hunters put in a great effort working on the land, sometimes walking through waist deep water. Tackling the swamp while being mauled by mosquitoes for hours on end. However, it is very easy to get complacent in ones physical health, clothing/gear choices and still be able to perform the tasks required to hunt down here.

My eyes were opened to a new world of hunting necessities when I set out on a new (to me) adventure of elk hunting in the public hunting land of Colorado. 

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Heading out west, I had no clue what to expect nor had I ever seen mountains before.

I studied articles and videos to prepare myself for what was to come however, nothing prepared me for the way it would change how I thought about myself. The mountains showed me that although I was physically fit enough to be able conquer the hikes we took from the base camp, I was in no way fit enough to accomplish a pack in hike. My dream was to be able to hike in for miles with a heavy pack and sleep in the wilderness away from everything. To hike further and higher everyday than I had on that first trip. I knew doing this would take months of preparation to ensure that I was fit enough to do not only the long hike in but to also recover quickly in preparation for the following days hikes.

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As hunting season in Louisiana wrapped up, I decided to buckle down and start living a healthier life. My first step was to build a raised garden bed in my tiny back yard. Growing up, my parents and grandparents always grew a beautiful garden therefore I knew with the knowledge I had gained from watching them over the years I could grow my own veggies. It was a huge money saver. A few dollars spent on seeds translated into many meals and even some vegetables preserved to be enjoyed all year. As every hunter knows there is a sort of “slump” that sets in after season ends. My garden kept me physically and mentally active.

I quickly found working in the garden to be very therapeutic, rewarding, and a huge confidence booster to see the tiny seed that I planted flourish into a huge plant.

I decided I needed to do more than integrate a few vegetables in my diet so I joined in on an “accountability group” 9D144EC0-0EA2-49BE-8C1A-06003E9DCC9B_zpsdef38gtsthrough work.  This forced me to weigh in weekly. The fact that I was doing it with coworkers forced me to stay focused. I didn’t want a simple diet where I was omitting a certain type of food completely; I wanted a lifestyle change that would change my way of eating forever. I worked on portion control, which I have always struggled with, by weighing and measuring everything until I had a better idea what a serving size actually looked like. In addition, being creative with my wild game, seafood, and fresh vegetables, I recreated my favorite dishes into a new healthier version of its previous self. I used seasoning and spices to give food more flavor so it was more filling. By making these simple changes to my diet, I began seeing a change on the scale.

858DB16B-58B1-4135-AE06-1E2F126229B7_zps9hvnk1qhI quickly realized that in addition to eating correctly, I needed to start a workout regiment for myself to be able to get stronger and gain muscle. I started off slowly by walking around the local university. Slowly it progressed into a walk/run and further distances.  I incorporated various weight lifting workout videos I found online. After I felt that I was strong enough, I decided to start working on building “mountain muscles”. I started off with a fifty pound sack of deer corn in my backpack I planned on using for my Colorado hunt. I walked to the university stadium and did the bleachers, then I walked a lap around the campus. Over time, I slowly added more and more weight until it was time to leave for the hunt.  Not only was this building muscles but it helped me get my pack adjusted correctly with heavy weight. By adding these additional exercises to my daily routine, I was able to drop weight even quicker and I was seeing a big boost in my energy levels.

The next part of my “elk ready” process was to re-access my gear and clothing choices. I knew we would be doing a pack in hike so I worked to find lighter alternatives to the supplies I had and reduced the amount of unnecessary supplies. I planned to bring dehydrated meals, vacuum sealed “harvest kits” containing such items as game bags. I planned out how to stuff all of these items into my pack. I weighed each item and then the pack as a whole to be sure that I could easily carry everything I needed. When I went to access my new choices of clothing, I tried to pinpoint problems I saw in my previous gear and worked along with EvoOutdoors CamoConcierge service to find products that would best solve these problems.

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aProblem 1: Stretch and maneuverability in durable pants. I quickly realized that my previous clothing was actually working against me while hiking because of its lack of stretch, especially in the pants. I decided to get a pair of the FirstLite Kanab 2.0 pants and the Corrugate Guide pants. Both offered a unique fit that was looser in the hips and thighs but more fitted in the lower half. This fit allowed for full range of motion. Both have high waisted fits and can be worn with suspenders, preventing them from riding down over time with a heavy pack and impeding maneuverability.  The Kanab 2.0 pants are made of ultra light merino wool with body stretch 1441587702159-1927885061nylon and also feature a rip stop pattern making them perfectly silent for a spot and stalk while being durable. The Corrugate Guide pants are made of a lightweight, durable, breathable nylon fabric that makes them nearly bombproof against all but the most extreme weather. While they aren’t as silent as the Kanab’s, they truly proved themselves to me in the rain we endured on an almost daily basis while in the Colorado mountains.  Not only were they somewhat water resistant, but when it came to getting drenched in the downpours, they dried very quickly making it possible to wear them again day after day. First Lite also features a “shooters cut” on their shirts (see problem 2) that have specially designed shoulders to allow full range of movement and fitted lower sleeve to prevent bow string interference.

Problem 2: Odor control after days of continued use. Knowing we would be in the back country for a number of days1430188149902-2353460841430071241262694008033a with limited ability to wash clothing, I needed clothing that would naturally neutralize odors, even after days of continued use. It was suggested that I use a merino wool based product because wool naturally wicks away moisture (as much as 30% of its weight) and releases it into the air. By doing this the moisture doesn’t remain on the skins surface, allowing bacteria and therefore odors to be created. First Lite created a women’s line of merino wool base layers that fit my needs perfectly. The set of the Lupine crew shirt and Larkspur bottoms created naturally odor resistant base layer that I topped with the Artemis hoody and finished it off with a pair of their Mountain Athlete Compression socks. Even after days of wear, these products remained relatively odor free (except for the socks, but I blame the waterlogged boots). Minus 33 has a line of merino based underwear that I also used and highly suggest.

Problem3: Reusable gear. Lets face it, I am a tight with my money so I wanted gear that not only worked well in the mountains but would also be good for hunting at home so I needed something that could span from the heat of 14301875240601376827267Louisiana early season but could stand up to a cool Colorado mountain archery season morning. I also wanted a pattern of camo that would work for both areas. First Lite accomplished these as well. Another 1409588562924-768062539great attribute of merino wool is because of its extreme moisture wicking abilities, it helps maintain the body’s natural micro-climate by removing the excess moisture in the air between the skin and clothing. This makes the wearer cooler in the heat and warmer in the winter. Previously, I was using a well known popular brand of camo that blended well in some locations but not in others. The fusion camo is a unique pattern described as “crackalature” by First Lite is designed to distort the hunter’s silhouette while avoiding “color blobbing” that has truly14398583972051093645653proven to blend in with everything from the rocks to the swamp. It uses large and small shape disruption to cause distortion of not only the general shape but of “texture” and depth also. Their website truly has some very interesting literature on this subject, but I can tell you from first hand knowledge that it is easy to lose someone sitting only a couple feet away from you in the fusion camo.

 

With these changes to myself and my gear, I headed west again with confidence and the ability to conquer whatever mother nature could physically throw at me. After a little over a ten mile hike, uphill, in the pouring rain into our designated camping spot and spending nearly a week in the back country, I could not conjure a single negative statement about the First Lite gear that had been suggested to me. As for my physical fitness, I had advanced leaps and bounds over what I would have been able to accomplish had I stayed on the path I was traveling.  I am no miracle worker or extraordinary case.

If I can change my life for something I am passionate about, just about any one can if they put in the time and effort.

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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Sarah Fromenthal was born and raised in South Louisiana. Sarah has a strong passion for hunting, fishing, the outdoors, and cooking what she catches/kills flowing throw her veins. She believes archery is a sport you can never completely master and is always reading, listening, and observing to become the best archer she can be, but she also loves to share the knowledge she does have with others.