The Hunt Has Just Begun. [A Reflection of Bear Camp]

The Hunt Has Just Begun.

[A Reflection of Bear Camp]

By Ryan McKinney

EvoOutdoors, ProStaff

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Bear Lane Guide Service is located in Wesley, Maine and has been family owned and operated business for over twenty years. Frank Perkowsky, a registered Maine Master Guide is at the helm of this outfitter. Along with two other registered guides, Frank tirelessly devotes his time to bringing clients the best guide service that Maine has to offer. That being said, I’m quite bias. Bear Lane happens to be my family business, and I’am fortunate to be a part of it. I don’t write this article to promote Bear Lane, but to reflect on my time there.

I won’t speak of other outfitters, rather explain how our guide service operates. In Maine, bear season lasts four weeks, in the fall, opening the last Monday in August. Furthermore, Bear Lane legally hunts two ways, over bait and with hounds. When clients book with Bear Lane, they get a package that includes food, lodging for five days and guide service. So what exactly is guide service? If you are not familiar, becoming a guide is no easy feat in Maine. You can research the guidelines here. In short, the guides responsibility is the client. Period. Frank and his team are an established outfit, with countless bait sites and thousands of acres of hunting land. They work to maintain bait sites, maintain a continuous rotation of trail cameras, transporting clients, tracking and processing harvests and most importantly, ensure the safety and success of their clients. While the guides do everything they can to ensure you’re successful, you’re left with the responsibility to eat like a king, sleep and hunt. Moving forward, let me clear that Bear Lane and it’s staff have an impressive track record and are a very successful outfitter, this article is under no circumstances is a reflection of them.

bear 1I have been fortunate enough to be able to hunt bear in Maine for a couple of years. At this point, I have yet to harvest a bear, and that has been the best experience I could ask for. The woods in Maine are a relentless place, thicker than I’ve ever experienced. So imagine that you’re in your tree stand, and all you can see is the shooting alley that you have to the bait site. You’re lucky if you can see anything else, or any further. That being said, bear are very sensitive to movement, so that means, you need to sit painfully still. This is where I struggled the most.

When I hunt whitetail, I can basically do jumping jacks in my tree stand and still be successful. It’s very difficult to stay engaged when bear hunting; you end up staring at the same site, for hours, without moving, at all, for five days.

Process that for a second. Most people can’t sit still for 10 minutes, let alone several hours. If I were to be totally honest here, I would say I contemplated quitting several times and I didn’t want to bear hunt anymore. I found myself going through a whirlwind of emotion, starting excited, engaged, focused, and as the hours passed, you couldn’t get me out of the woods fast enough. I was frustrated. And it’s for this reason that I wrote this article. As the week passed, the desire to quit grew. I hunted hard for five days, I was mentally exhausted. Any avid hunter will tell you, sitting for several hours, and remaining hyper alert, is taxing. I was done.

Another year passed without a bear harvest. This year was especially difficult because I felt the pressure to perform from various avenues. Even on a less formal level, my friends and family eagerly awaited my call or a photo on social media boasting my success. I received an overwhelming amount of support, and for that, I am grateful. However, It didn’t happen. I couldn’t get over this overwhelming feeling of failure and disappointment. Oddly enough, this is where my greatest success seemed to be. I was better for it. The lessons I learned from NOT being successful is where I grew the most. If I were immediately successful, then I’m not sure I would have gotten much out of it, other than a mount on the wall and some classic harvest photos. I really feel strongly that this is where the hunting industry falls short. Up-and-coming hunters see nothing but Boone and Crockett bucks, Pope and Young black bears, and various giant animals harvested on TV. Of course no one wants to see a hunter sit in a tree stand for hours on TV and not see a thing, but I don’t think the industry is doing anyone any favors here – But that’s another article. I vividly remember watching Bill Dance catch giant bass after giant bass on TV when I was a kid. It was fun to watch, but it made my expectations unrealistic when I was fishing with my dad.Bear 4

 

As I sit in my comfy chair a week after my hunt, I am able to think a bit more clearly and really look back on this hunt. Im a better hunter and outdoorsman than I was two weeks ago. Hopefully, I’m a better example to my family, friends, and outdoor community from these experiences. I will hunt black bear again.

This article is my mount on the wall.

I want people to see the other side of hunting. You’re not always going to harvest an animal, but you can always be successful. I continue to grow, learn patience, perseverance, and gain experience. When I began this journey in the outdoor industry, it was immediately important to me to teach my boys, and anyone else who wanted to learn, the things that were taught to me by my mentors. This is a chapter in that book.

“A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.”~Fred Bear

Ryan McKinney

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Shooting for the Shot: Are you ready for the challenge?

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Tracy Harden, co-owner at EvoOutdoors recently shared how she is preparing for her backcountry trip to Idaho to bow hunt elk.

“Each year I try to challenge myself to be more physically and mentally fit for the backcountry. As we prepare for our first trip to Idaho in September and my first chance at a bull, I want to prepare myself as much as I can. So in that moment… no questions asked, I am ready.” -Tracy Harden

By developing and using this training checklist Tracy practices different shot distances, stances and situations to elevate her archery skills. Designed so that the archer can pull back their bow with confidence for any shot. We challenge YOU to use her checklist to practice your archery skills.

The idea is to shoot each distance three times. Then measure the distance between the farthest apart arrows. The goal is to decrease the diameter between arrows as your practice. Of course, safety is always first. Feel free to alter the challenge as needed based on your comfort and ability however, challenge yourself!

Check the EvoOutdoors Facebook, Instagram & Twitter pages for weekly shot challenges during the month of June.

Share your results with us on social media: #ShootingForTheShot #EvoOutdoors #PracticeWithPurpose

Are you ready for the challenge?

Click the link below to take the challenge

Shooting for the Shot

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Sporting Clays: How to get started

I shoulder my shotgun and yell “pull”!

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I take my aim and miss the first two clays. I’m at my very first sporting clay competition and to say that I’m nervous is an understatement. I hear encouraging words from the other competitors behind me as I shoulder my gun again and prepare for the next two clays. Again, I yell “pull”, but this time I bust both clays! The other competitors in my group start cheering for me and giving me high fives, easing my nerves as we walk to the second station.

I recently shot at the 16th Annual Women’s Charity Shotgun Event hosted by the Ozark Shooters Sports Complex in Branson, MO. The proceeds from this shoot went to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, a hospital that provides high quality care to children in need, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Before now my only experience in this area was shooting trap in my backyard a few times, as well as hunting doves, pheasants and crows. One thing that I truly believe is that you learn the most by forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Going into this sporting clay competition by myself, not knowing what to expect was definitely a little uncomfortable for me, but I am so glad that I did it!

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The women competing in this event were not only very friendly and encouraging, they were excellent shooters and I was happy that they were willing to give me some pointers. One tip was to lift my right elbow up just a little higher & keep it parallel to the ground. This creates a “pocket” in your shoulder that the shotgun fits into better which helps with recoil, especially after shooting 50 shells. I learned that other shooters really want to help you and want to see you succeed. Sure, it’s a competition, but it’s all in good fun and for a great cause.

For those like me that are new to sporting clay shooting, here’s a basic run down on what to expect:

How It Works

AndiEvo4_copyOut of all the shotgun sports, sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field hunting. With skeet and trap you have clays thrown at generalized distances and angles each time. Sporting clays are designed to simulate actual wing shooting of ducks, pheasants and other upland birds. The clays can be thrown from any direction, at any speed and any angle. Some clays even vary in size, giving you the next best thing to real world hunting conditions.

Sporting clays are usually shot in squads of 2-6 people and is played over a course of about 10 different shooting stations throughout fields and the natural features of the land. Being from the Ozark Mountains, our stations overlooked some beautiful scenery and was naturally, very hilly. Each person in a squad shoots a determined number of clays, usually around 4-6, before moving on to the next station.

Safety

Like all shooting sports, safety comes first in sporting clays. As soon as you remove your gun from the vehicle, make sure the breech is open and the gun is not loaded. If you shoot an over/under shotgun, make sure you break it open and the barrel is pointed down or up towards the sky. Even if you know the shotgun is not loaded, always treat it as if it is.

Ear and eye protection are also a must any time you are on a sporting clay course.DSC_0071_copy3

Shooting a Round

Once each squad is at their designated first station, hand the score cards to the referee. Before anyone shoots, the referee will show you the targets so you can see how they are being thrown.

Step up to the station when it’s your turn to shoot and load your shotgun. Point it safely towards the firing area and yell “pull” once you are ready. The target is considered a “dead bird” if any part of it is broken. When you are done shooting, make sure the breech is open and exit the station. Remain behind the station until everyone in your squad has finished shooting and is ready to move on.

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Shooting sporting clays is a great way to sharpen your shooting skills and “extend” your hunting season. If you feel sporting clays is something you would like to get involved in, here are a few ways to get started!

Join a Local Club. Check out the National Sporting Clay Association (NSCA) website to search for clubs in your area.

Link: http://www.nssa-nsca.org/index.php/nsca-sporting-clays-shooting/clubs-associations/club-search/

Once a member, you can use your clubs facility on a regular basis and meet other shooters. Like I mentioned above, my experience with meeting other shooters was a positive one. They were very helpful, encouraging, and these ladies could shoot very well!

Join the NSCA. The NSCA is the ultimate resource for all things sporting clays. They are dedicated to getting more people involved in shotgun sports, no matter what level they are at, and promoting healthy competition within its membership.

Shoot In a Competition. I think one of the best ways to improve your shooting skills is to actually shoot in a competition, like I did. You can watch other great shooters and learn from them. Don’t worry about “not being good enough”. You only compete within your own class, so you’re only competing against others that are at the same level as you.

Keep Practicing! Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! Experience really is the best teacher. Also, if any upland seasons are open, get yourself a tag. I ended up getting 1st place in my class and I feel that my experience with hunting live birds prepared me the most for sporting clays.

-Andrea Haas, Huntress View

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I ♥ Deer Heart

 grilled venison heart recipe photo by holly heiser

In the pursuit of big game a lot of hunters aim for the heart however, I try to avoid making a direct heart shot if possible. “Why?” you might ask. Many people are familiar with using deer quarters, the loins, the backstrap, etc., but have you ever tried the heart?  Yes, the good ol’ pump station! Now do not be quick to blame my Louisiana roots on this craziness. The crazy Cajuns down here have been known to eat just about any part of any critter. Even here in Louisiana not many people have been brave enough to try the heart, but those few brave souls that have are delightfully rewarded with a beautiful cut of meat.

 

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Tips on Preparing the Heart (think back to your old anatomy classes):

  • Remove all of the blood and blood clots by rinsing thoroughly. Be sure to get deep down into the chambers of the heart and even submerging it in cold water while giving it a few squeezes will help flush any remaining blood out.
  • Cut away the “crown” of the heart leaving behind the main muscle. Cut away excess fat and connective tissue from the outer part of the heart, then butterfly and trim the remainder of the main artery, valves, and the fibrous tissue. What you are left with is gorgeous, filet-like meat that lacks the grainy, fibrous texture of the more traditional cuts of venison. The overall misconception is that it has a liver-like flavor when infact it does not.
  • Need step by step instructions? Click here!

 

 

 

“The Instant Grill”: Because what better way to enjoy your fresh wild game then on an open fire after skinning and quartering it?

IMG_5666Simply prepare the heart as previously mentioned, then season it as you would your favorite steak. I like to use garlic powder, season all, salt, pepper, and olive oil ( I also sometimes marinate it in beer, but its not required).

Light up the fire pit and sit back and relax until the embers and coals are nice and evenly hot. Throw the meat on the grill and cook to a medium rare and then remove from heat.  Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing to ensure that the juices do not run out. Enjoy! Best served with some awesome garlic mashed potatoes!

“I ♥ Fajitas”: Bring your typical boring fajitas to a new level with all fresh ingredients and a little venison love. 

Fajitas can be as extravagant or as plain as you like but this is my favorite way to eat them! After preparing your deer heart, slice into strips and season with your favorite fajita/taco seasoning mix and a little bit of garlic and cilantro. While that is resting, slice up some green onions, purple onions, yellow and red peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and more cilantro. Toss the mixture in lime juice and sear the veggies in a screaming hot skillet and cook until they are barely limp, then remove from the skillet. After the veggies are done, toss in the heart slices and cook until medium rare. Best served on a corn tortilla with the heart, veggies, avocado/guacamole , fresh cilantro (yes, I use a lot of am obsessed with cilantro), pico de gallo, and a drizzle of sriracha sauce on top.

Over the years I have had venison heart prepared in a few different ways, so be adventurous. Above are a few of my favorite ways to prepare the heart. In addition, a couple other good ways to prepare the heart include smothering it with onions, stuffing it with sausage or another stuffing of choice, and this awesome looking bruschetta recipe.

To those that have never tried it or were afraid to try it, would you be open to the idea of keeping and cooking your next big game heart? If so, which recipe would you indulge in first?

 

Sarah Fromenthal
EvoOutdoors Prostaff

Old Traditions, New Blood

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“What is the number one rule?”

November 14th, 2014

Jack Thompson addressed all four youth and their fathers. “Be safe?” a boy piped up, proud of his answer. “Being safe is extremely important but it’s actually not rule number one.” Jack responded, throwing the boys for a loop. The boys who came from the town of Mission, TX were all friends prior to this meeting. They looked at each other and their parents, unsure and sleepy eyed. “Have fun?” Horacio, one of the oldest chimed in. Mr. Thompson grinned from ear to ear as he responded, “YES. And rule number two? Everybody…” In unison the group, volunteers and all responded, “Remember rule number one!”

This wasn’t a trip to Disneyland or a Boy Scout fundraiser assembly. Soap box derbies, rollercoasters and action figures couldn’t have been further away. All four boys, ranging from ages nine to thirteen had accomplished several assessments and activities at the state and local level to be there that evening. Through the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) volunteer Hunt Master Jack Thompson had arranged for all four boys to take part in a two day rifle hunt on the Hoffman Ranch. Owned by the Hoffman family, the ranch is a 2,000+ acre low fence property in Alice, TX. The ranch has been honored as a Texas Family Lane Heritage ranch for its continuous operation by the Hoffman’s since the late 1800’s. Each youth hunter was provided the opportunity to fill a doe tag in addition to hog and coyote, accompanied with their guardian and a volunteer hunting guide.

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Good morning! Fathers and sons enjoy a big breakfast made by volunteer Chief Cook Dan Griffin

Saturday morning the air was cold and crisp. The misty rain ceased to stop collecting on the top of the deer blind. Drip, drip, drip- it splashed on to my knee. The icy wind tickled my nose as I snuggled back into my hood and blaze orange head warmer. The weather took me back to my hometown of Eugene, Oregon where the smell of damp clothes and the sound of squeaky rubber boots permeates everyone’s senses almost year round. I didn’t move an inch or make a sound. Normally I would have had my bow or shotgun in hand and I felt the anxious feeling of having forgotten one or the other. My Nikon camera and smile were my only accessories. I sat in that deer blind on an unimaginably cold day in south Texas as a volunteer hunting guide on behalf of the Texas Youth Hunting Program. My responsibly? Accompany a youth hunter and their guardian during the hunt and assist in following safety measures throughout. Number one rule of course, have fun.

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Alice educating the youth on shot placement

A state law in Texas, to be a hunter one must pass the Texas Hunter Safety Education course. For hunters seventeen and older the test is offered online however, all youth ages nine through sixteen must pass the course in addition to a field day. The field day includes a hunter skills trail, a live-fire exercise, and a written exam. When I write that each youth hunter had been through several forms of testing before getting the opportunity to hunt at the Hoffman Ranch I was not kidding. In addition to testing at the State level to legally become a hunter each boy learned firearm safety and sighted in their rifle the evening before the first hunt. Most impressive to me was the skills test that was given to each youth hunter during the trip. Volunteer Alice Hammond took each kid into the field and asked them questions regarding safety, animal identification, and shot placement. A long time educator and avid outdoorswoman, Alice presented each obstacle or question in a thoughtful but laid back manner. I shadowed her on a skills test with youngest youth hunter Diego. Alice asked him what the word ethical meant. Perplexed, she provided him an example that he could relate to in his ordinary life. Alice then pointed to a cardboard cutout of a Whitetail fawn. “Would it be legal to shoot that fawn?” Alice asked. “Yes” Diego responded. Alice followed his response by asking, “Would it be ethical?” Diego pondered her question for a moment. Ethics can be a hard concept to wrap your head around for a nine year old boy. “No.” Diego responded. Alice reaffirmed his answer was correct and why.

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Alice uses real hides to educate on animal identification

In addition to hunter safety Alice spoke to each boy specifically about firearm safety. Holding up a rifle she asked, “If I were to give you this gun what would I need to do first beforehand?” Each youth hunter would name safety measures such as unloading the firearm and making sure there was not a round in the chamber and leaving the bolt open. In a world where we deal with numerous firearm accidents a year I found it so essentially perfect that Alice made it a point to tell each boy about their responsibility to practice safety precautions around firearms.Diego 3

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Diego, age 9

That morning Diego harvested his first doe Whitetail deer with his .243 rifle. I have volunteered with children for over ten years, worked in a school based health center in my home state of Oregon, but I have never seen a nine year old beam with so much excitement as Diego did after harvesting his first doe. Each boy followed shortly behind Diego the following evening and morning hunts and filled their doe tag. I had the pleasure to accompany youth hunter David, age twelve and his father Mauricio. David had hunted several times before however, he was the last to harvest a doe on Sunday morning. I quickly made myself the butt of a joke in regards to the notion of luck. David, who at twelve years old was vertically superior to me, kept a positive attitude as hunt after hunt went by without harvesting his doe. He and his father welcomed my assistance and conversation (I enjoyed practicing my Spanish) in those chilly times after shooting hours. My husband Adam Parma accompanied youth hunter Jorge, a first time hunter at age eleven. As a former TYHP youth hunter Adam recalls, “It was better than pulling the trigger myself. You don’t always have to be the one behind the trigger to get buck fever.” I was immediately impressed by all the youth hunters. No feeders. No high fences. These boys had to practice patience and work in tandem with their fathers and guides to get the job done. Soaking up the knowledge and traditions of hunting as every minute passed.

 

Jorge 1Ironically, I did not grow up hunting. I didn’t shoot a gun until I was nineteen years old when my father refused to let another man (now my husband) teach me how to shoot one before him. As a country boy in Akron, Ohio my father has memories of hunting with his father, “My old man always had a few beagles around and would go pheasant and duck hunting.” he recalled to me. How come I was never exposed to hunting as a kid? “There may not have been a program like this. You grew up running around in the woods. The deer were like your pets. I took you fishing though and you were always outdoors.” My dad stated. Having not grown up around the traditions of hunting why then was I volunteering for this program? I pondered this question throughout my time spent on the trip. On our first chilly morning together I asked David’s father Mauricio the simple question, “Did you grow up hunting?” He responded by telling me about growing up in Mexico hunting with his father and how he cherished those memories. I looked around that evening at the smiling kids, volunteers and friendship that was forming around me.  It was clear then to me that I was volunteering to give back what I never had as a child. Yes, I ran around the woods as a kid in Oregon but I never experienced the excitement and rewarding feeling that hunting brings to a child. When I looked around at each boy it was easy to see that their fathers beamed with pride over them. That sort of parent/child bonding was all made possible through the TYHP. Yes, this was an important program on so many levels. Because of this program a tradition, and all that comes with it, of hunting in Texas was being continued in a long legacy of hunting families of different cultures and upbringings. Now as a hunter in my adult life I understand the richness and meaningfulness behind passing on such an important tradition to anyone, especially your child. Learning the foundation of hunting as a child teaches so many important attributes- discipline, ethical thinking and probably the hardest trait of all to teach- patience. (I am still working on that one).

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Jorge, age 11

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David, age 12

The Texas Youth Hunting Program is the product of a collaborative effort by the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Created in 1996 as a response to the declining number of youth hunters in Texas, the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) has provided over 55,000 youth hunters a safe, mentored and educational hunting experience. The TYHP runs on three components: Landowners, Volunteers & Youth Hunters. With the majority of Texas’ land privately owned, landowners provide the place where the TYHP can groom future hunters and encourage cherished hunting traditions. In addition to giving the landowner the enjoyment of allowing youth to experience a hunt on their property the landowner benefits by using the TYHP to manage their wildlife population- does, feral hogs and more. Diego 2It is important to note that all participants of this hunting experience were volunteers. Though the TYHP makes reimbursements for things such as gas, food, etc. all are unpaid workers. Volunteers are the backbone of the TYHP and its ability to provide so many hunts for the youth of Texas and to make each hunt a memorable one. Volunteers provide each youth hunter the opportunity to learn, grow and accomplish so much more with their guardians beside them so that they too, will grow into safe, ethical Texas hunters who pass on the traditions to their family members. I will never forget my first time volunteering with the TYHP and the wholesomeness I felt in my heart.  I learned so much from giving my time to the program and I encourage all hunters, family members of hunters or outdoor enthusiasts to give back to programs like the TYHP. If you are interested in volunteering please visit the Texas Youth Hunting Program website for more information. There are many options and ways one can service this great cause- from fundraising, guiding a hunt, cooking on a trip or becoming a certified hunt master. Land owners too can volunteer their property for hunts just as the Hoffman family so graciously did. Don’t live in Texas? I highly suggest you look into similar programs in your area. For example, the Dream Hunt Foundation in Louisiana provides guiding hunting or fishing trips for disabled, terminally ill and underprivaleged youth. If there is no youth hunting program in your area then why not start one? I promise you will feel humbled, rewarded and thankful as you pass on old traditions to new blood.

Kristin Brooke Parma, EvoMedia Coordinator

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Volunteers, Youth Hunters & Fathers: Horacio Sr., Jorge Sr, Jorge, Horacio, Dennis Parma, David, Alice Hammond, Jack Thompson, Adam Parma, Mauricio, Jorge, Kristin Parma, Diego

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Among the many whitetail we saw we also enjoyed watching birds, rabbits, coyotes, feral hogs and Javelina

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Thank you Hoffman family

For more information visit: www.texasyouthhunting.com

Naturalist Huntress: Keeping It Simple and Scent Free

Let me start off by saying, yes, I am a tomboy by nature, but I also enjoy some of the girly things in life as well.  Although I can usually keep up with the best of the boys, my hair is one of those things that I am sort of on the particular side about. Is it always perfect? NEGATIVE! But, I do like it to be out of my face and not looking like a hot mess. With all of this being said, I wanted to share a few super simple tricks I personally use along with my favorite scent free shampoo and conditioner while hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. to keep my hair trophy photo ready.
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Scent Free Salt Spray — Recreates that awesome beach hair you had during your pre-hunting season beach vacation.Salt Spray Ingredients

  • Adds texture and volume to hair (great to use on fine hair that doesn’t hold styling well)
  • Add to damp hair and it helps create beachy waves (because you can’t exactly flat iron in the backcountry)
  • Helps battle winter time static (no more “finger in the electrical socket” look)

What you’ll need: Spray Bottle, Water, 1.5 T Epsom Salt , 1t. Sea Salt,  0.5t. Scent Free Conditioner, and 1t. Aloe Vera Gel

Mix together Epsom Salt (use more or less for different amount of texture), Sea Salt, Aloe Vera Gel, and of your favorite scent free conditioner. Add 1/2 cup of warm (not boiling) water and mix well  and then let cool before pouring into spray bottle.

You can also easily make a scented version by adding a few drops of essential oils of your choice.

Scent Free Hair Spray — Will it hold as good as your grandma’s aerosol? Nah, but it will serve its purpose out in the field.

Scent Free HairsprayWhat you will need: Spray Bottle, Water, 1.5 T White Sugar (yes, the same white sugar you add in your coffee in the morning– add more or less for amount of hold but too much will leave hair sticky), and a 1/2 t of rubbing alcohol (optional, but without it must be refrigerated)

Mix sugar thoroughly with 1/2 cup of boiling water and allow to cool to room temperature before adding the alcohol  to stabilize the mixture. Pour into spray bottle.

To use: Spray lightly and allow to dry before adding another layer. Adding too much too quickly will leave the hair sticky. Also combine with the Scent Free Salt Spray for awesome texture and hold.. and NOOOO it won’t attract bears!

Scent Free Detangler/Leave-in-Conditioner -Ok yall, This one is a tough one!Scent Free Detangler

What you will need: Spray bottle, Water, 1 T Scent Free conditioner

I’m sure you figured this out already, but mix well and put into spray bottle and spray onto damp hair.

 

Other hair tips for outdoors:

  • Thinking a little hair is not too important? Try sitting still in a stand with that trophy buck in bowrange and have an aggravating hair sticking to your eyeglashes or even worse tickling at your nose. So, moral of the story: KEEP YOUR HAIR OUT OF YOUR FACE! Be sure to pack extra hairbands and bobby pins.
  • While ponytails are obviously good ways to keep hair out of the way, try changing it up with a bun or braid. Even on short hair, braiding the front bangs can help keep your hair out of your eyes to make that crucial shot. For longer hair, I like a french braid with my favorite EvoOutdoors headband.
  • Oily hair? Sprinkle some scent free powder on your roots and brush through to absorb the oil.
  • When all else fails or the weather is just down right horrible, throw on your favorite ball cap from EvoOutdoors selection of headwear.
  • Throwing on a HooRag  is also quick and easy, and it has so many functions [from a neck gaitor, ponytail holder, facemask, beanie, balaclava, headband, doorag, etc.] that it comes in handy for just about anything!

EvoGear Womens HatFrench BraidEvoOutdoors HeadbandFront Braid

How do you keep cool when making the shot?

Andrea Haas ProStaff EvoOutdoorsOne of the questions that I am often asked by women who are interested in bow hunting for the first time is, “How do you keep your cool when making the shot?” They often say “I just don’t think I would be able to shoot a deer with a bow”, or “It just seems so hard, I don’t think I would be able to pull it off”. While I love encouraging other women to get involved in hunting, I will be honest when I say that yes, bowhunting is very hard. If it was easy everyone would be doing it! While a successful bow hunt is difficult to pull off, it is definitely very attainable with some hard work, determination and practice. Lots and lots of practice!

Thinking back to my very first bow season, I began by shooting my bow every day from about May to opening day in September. When you start shooting your bow pay extra attention to getting down proper form and finding your anchor point. After a while this becomes second nature and you won’t even have to think about it, you just do it every time. I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to target practice. Shooting a few arrows each night is far better than shooting multiple arrows and letting yourself get tired and your form sloppy.

Practing proper form is essential for success

Practing proper form is essential for success

Practice with the equipment you know you will be hunting with. My bow is sighted in using 100 grain broad heads, all the same brand. All of my arrows are the same brand, weight & straightness, and the fletchings are the same on each arrow. I want to know that no matter what arrow I use in my quiver, each one is going to shoot the same way. Bow hunting is a huge challenge and making yourself familiar and comfortable with your weapon is half the battle.

Take into consideration the gear you will be hunting in and practice shooting in it. When you are shooting in your back yard you are probably shooting in jeans and a t-shirt. But when you are hunting you usually have on multiple layers, making it a little more difficult to pull your bow back and find your anchor point. This past season I was full draw on a great buck and had a clothing mishap that forced me to pass on the shot. If I had practiced in that particular clothing item I would have known that it was something I preferred not to bow hunt in and would have filled my deer tag a LOT earlier in the season!

Another pre-season shooting tip is to practice shooting from a tree stand or ground blind, whichever you are going to be hunting out of. If you’ll be hunting from a tree stand practice shooting from one and get used to shooting at an angle. If you’ll be hunting out of a ground blind, practice while sitting down or from your knees. If you are able to, get in the blind and practice shooting out of it. With ground blinds you have a smaller window to shoot out of and it takes some getting used to.

Practicing the above tips should help ease some of your bow hunting jitters and make you more prepared for an actual hunt. When a deer steps out and you are ready to shoot, hopefully all of this will come back to you automatically so you can focus on making a good shot. To me, shot placement and remembering your anchor point when shooting at an animal are THE most important things to focus on. When I shot my first deer with a bow, I had mosquitoes swarming around my head and biting my face as I was preparing to make the shot, but thanks to all my practice I was able to stay focused and make a clean shot.

My friend Allison O’Nan and Field Staff for EvoOutdoors, shared some of her tips with me that help her stay calm when bow hunting:

  • Participating in 3D archery tournaments or league where you are feeling under pressure will help you to work through the jitters when it comes time to shooting game.
  • Visualize making the shot when you are at full draw. Confidence is the key! But don’t get over confident and cause yourself to extend pass your own shooting limits.
  • Practice breathing techniques every time you shoot, even in your own back yard. Breathing through my shots keeps my mind clear and hand steady. As I inhale/exhale I pass over my target three times before I settle in and release my arrow.
  • Chewing gum is a great way to release nervous energy. However, for bow hunting, maybe try a brand such as Gum-O-Flage.

Allison O’Nan | Field Staff for EvoOutdoorsI’ve had a lot of successful hunts, but have found that most of my unsuccessful ones were due to lack of focus. For me, the excitement/nervousness that I feel right before I shoot a deer is always there. It was there on my very first bow hunt, my last hunt and will be on my next. But the above tips have really helped me control my excitement and keep my cool in the heat of the moment when a shot presents itself.

2014 Archery deer harvest

2014 Archery deer harvest

Andrea Haas | ProStaff EvoOutdoors

Let’s talk ProStaff….

To many it means professional. To the industry it’s either professional or promotional and usually both. We all know those guys/gals who hold up the products in pics and say this got the job done. Really?! Does that sell?!

Here at EvoOutdoors we have personally struggled with the term and its impact. Not only on the current hunters but our future generation. Many get caught up in wanting to get paid to hunt or getting free gear from sponsors. Though very, very few do! It then becomes a blasting all over social media which in turn does exactly the opposite of what the genuine intentions are, and most of the time it comes across as “See what I have and you don’t”.

Product should speak for itself. If it fits right and performs well in the field then you tell a buddy. That is what we are after. A conversation between friends, family, workers, or hunters about a product you love and trust. #HonestPromotion

Let the product and customer service speak! Maybe we’re old fashion, but good old word of mouth you can trust, and it seems to be a thing of the past. Could we call ourselves #Vintage and be hip with the new generation?

To us our ProStaff means much more. They are our partners, our team, professional people, hunters, volunteers and most of all honest hardworking people.We have created a team of individuals we believe in. Not because they are professional or promotional but because they are good people who love to hunt and love getting involved in their community. Each partner offers something different to our team and we value even the smallest contributions. Yes they are encouraged to promote the product we carry that they believe in. #HonestPromotion   Yes, they receive a discount to purchase gear they wish to support, and yes they are encouraged to share it on social media if its meets their standards of a great product. Our partners are hunters who share in our vision of offering quality products with quality customer service. They see the bigger picture than just receiving a discount on products. They are in a position to set an example, to do something bigger, to give back.

After our first year down we are lucky to have gained so much support. A true thank you goes out to those supporters and our amazing ProStaff. We couldn’t do it with out you and our Team!

 

Here’s to being #Vintage

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Hog Wild: A Porky Predicament

Wild Boar

 

After seeing many posts on social media such as ” You are so lucky to have so may hogs” and hearing of people hunting hogs that were “brought into the area”, I was completely blown away! LUCKY?! TRANSPORTING HOGS?! YOU’RE KIDDING ME RIGHT?!? So I figured a little education on hogs was in order.

Most Wild hogs originated from escaped free range domestic pigs that turned feral over time or European boars imported in for the hunt. They can weigh on average 150 up to 400 lbs and will live about 4-8 yearsWith a wide variety of habitats from marsh to timber land, they can thrive just about anywhere with access to water, cover, and food supply, but become very nomadic when food supply or human pressure changes.  Originating in the southern and western parts of the US, they have spread into new territories because of both legal and illegal introductions into new territory as game animals. (NEVER TRANSPORT LIVE HOGS!!!) Also a very rapid reproduction also leads to invasion of new regions to support growing population.  A sow can reach reproductive maturity after only 6 months, can have up to 10 piglets after a 115 day gestational period.

 SO THEORETICALLY :

365  days a year÷115 day gestational period ≈ 3 litters a year

3 litters per year × 5.5 years (avg life span of 6 years minus maturation time)

≈  16.5 litters over a lifetime

16.5 litters over their lifetime × average of 8 piglets per litter ≈ 132 piglets 

All from a single sow!

Mature boars usually live a solitary life and the sows and their piglets will stay in groups called “sounders”. Even alone and in small sounders, their extremely destructive rooting and wallowing can demolish more than a football field size area in a matter hour a few hours. All those piggies cause major havoc on the agricultural and forestry industries causing over 1.5 BILLION dollars in damages annually (not including the damage to wildlife, person property damages, and destroying the sensitive wetlands we fight to conserve).  . 

They can totally push out other wildlife populations from a desirable habitat because of their aggressive nature and ability to eliminate food sources. The best part? They have no natural predator except for humans … and themselves. That’s right hogs are omnivores! So besides eating up crops, acorns, saplings, and just about anything else they come across,  they also will eat other young and/or wounded hogs, turkey poults, fawns, turtles, fish, snakes, and other assorted small mammals and reptiles. They have even been known scavenge for diseased, wounded, or dead animals and have also known to attack and eat adult livestock. They will actually consume the entire carcass and not leave behind a shred of evidence.

Not only do hogs destroy property and consume livestock, they are a significant source of disease (usually without showing any physical sign). These diseases can be passed onto wildlife, livestock, humans and pets.

Cleaning the Hog

ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES!
Just because a hog appears healthy, doesn’t mean it isn’t infected.

Brucelosis: A bacterial infection that is transmitted to animals and humans through infected tissues or fluids (specifically reproductive organs, tissues, and fluids).  Symptoms: severe flu-like symptoms along with possibly crippling arthritis and/or meningitis.

Trichinosis: Microscopic intestinal round worm found in pork. To prevent infection be sure to cook meat thoroughly by allowing meats to reach an internal temperature of >170°F or by freezing at the meat 10°F for at least 10 days.

 Leptosporosis: bacterial infection transferable to humans via infected tissue/fluid causing flu like or hepatitis like symptoms

Pseudorabis Virus (PRV): Not a type of rabies; Viral infection transferable to animals only which can be spread to livestock and pets through contact with infected tissue or contaminated clothing, footwear, equipment, etc. PRV attacks the central nervous system, common cause of death in mature hogs. 

MORAL OF THAT STORY IS: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES, WASH HANDS AND EQUIPMENT WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER, AND COOK MEAT THOROUGHLY!

While their keen sense of smell, wariness of humans, and aggressive nature make them an ideal challenging big game animal to hunt, they are not to be hunted as you would a trophy whitetail or elk.  With all the negative aspects of the hogs presence, there is only one thing to do: reduce their numbers humanely and by any means possible (snaring, trapping, shooting, dog hunting, etc)! BIG OR SMALL–KILL THEM ALL!

Many states (Louisiana included) have made hog hunting a year round season and even have special designated times of the year where they can be hunted at night in effort to control the population.  Even with constant efforts to reduce numbers, it is nearly impossible to totally eradicate them (see previous astounding number of piglets per sow).

Erik's First Hog

 

 

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My Largest Bow Hog

 

 

So besides all of the negatives, there is one positive aspect of them: THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Besides the occasional extremely musky boar, wild pork tastes very similar to and can be prepared much in the same way as the store bought variety and can be just as tender.  A great way to eliminate any “wild” taste the pork (or any big game) may have is to “bleed” the meat in an ice chest for up to a week, adding ice as needed and draining the water.   Just be sure to take the proper precautions when cleaning and cooking to keep yourself safe from the previously mentioned bacteria/parasites.

Feta, Red Onion, and Spinach Stuffed Pork

Stuffed Pork:
-Marinade Pork loin/Roast with olive oil and seasonings
– Butterfly pork and top with fillings of choice (I used feta, spinach, and red onions)
-Roll the pork back on itself and secure with twine or toothpicks
-Sear in a hot skillet then roast in the oven until pork is cooked thoroughly.
-Enjoy

 

Bird Hunter

                My choices for a new public profile on Facebook did not include “hunter” as an option. I narrowed my selection down to “Public Figure” and “Athlete.” Ultimately, I chose “Public Figure,” but not without asking myself and those closest to me, whether or not a hunter is appropriately classified as an “Athlete” and why so many other ProStaff for hunting product lines are considered athletes. In an industry that has become more technically advanced and the focus on preparation for the physical and mental test of the outdoors more extreme, are hunters the new athletes? And, was I one?

                 

                Instead of bench pressing my five-pound encyclopedic dictionary, I looked up the word “athlete.” The definition was “a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise or game requiring physical skill.” While the components of skill-related fitness may be the same for hunting as in an organized competition, it wasn’t entirely clear whether golfers, hunters, or poker players were “athletes.”

                 

                As an avid bird hunter, I spend my best days on the duck flats with retrievers or in the mountains with setters. The only person with me is my hunting partner. We have no rivalry and there is no audience. The most difficult rules we follow are ethical considerations: fair chase, voluntary restraint, and personal choices on whether to leave or take birds and how to take them. It’s one of the most individualized activities possible. Hunters are bounded by regulations, but whether hunting big game or small game, hunters restrict themselves far more than the regulations.

        

- upland bird hunters often only shoot birds “on the wing” after they are pointed by a dog and avoid shooting birds on the ground or birds flushed by the dog although no law requires it

– upland bird hunters often only shoot birds “on the wing” after they are pointed by a dog and avoid shooting birds on the ground or birds flushed by the dog although no law requires it

 

                        The discussion on whether a hunter is an athlete could become an extension of the discussion on whether hunting is a “sport.” The sporting life and the conservation-minded sportsman were differentiated from market hunters at a point in time when men like Hemingway, Roosevelt, and Ruark wrote of their safaris in Africa. Alternatively, hunters who hunted to provide for their families were not pursuing recreation as much as they were like farmers who harvested an animal instead of a crop. The term “athlete” leaves out the kind of hunter that I most resemble. My hunting is an attempt to connect with reality, whether it is the reality of my place in nature or my dependence upon other life forms to survive. Taking an animal leaves blood on my hands and reminds me of the blood in my veins.

                 

- white-tail ptarmigan are found at the highest elevation of the three species of ptarmigan, and they are the best-eating due to their diet of berries and alipine leaves

– white-tail ptarmigan are found at the highest elevation of the three species of ptarmigan, and they are the best-eating due to their diet of berries and alipine leaves

 

                While a hunter can be an athlete, an athlete is not necessarily a hunter. A meaning from the 15th century Latin word “athleta” defined a combatant in public games. And the Greek “athlon” meant “prize.” My hunting pursuits could include a variation on a prize in terms of a successful hunt, but so much of the real meaning of what it is to be a “hunter” is left out of the definition of athlete. The question for me was whether or not hunting wild game resulted in a version of the coveted olive-wreath.

 

                Some hunters are fiercely competitive. They push themselves and, depending on what they hunt and how, they approach the task as a team or as individuals. They are committed, resourceful, and they face tests in the field that tell them whether or not they have prepared enough. They lug gear, climb mountains, and place themselves in extreme conditions. They may even agonize over their readiness to the extent that they are uber-hunters who inspire others. But, no matter how obsessed I become about my training, my focus is on the outdoor experience as a whole and preservation of the hunting traditions.

          

- upland bird hunting in the mountains requires a high degree of physical fitness, but it also takes in more than a pursuit of game or the skill to acquire it

– upland bird hunting in the mountains requires a high degree of physical fitness, but it also takes in more than a pursuit of game or the skill to acquire it

       

                I spend most Sundays at the trap range honing my shot gunning skills, but there have been days that I’m there for three hours and haven’t shot a round. Instead, I’m warming by the stove talking to my favorite trap shooters about hunting and fishing and reloads. My collection of guns, gear, and clothing requires a garage, shop, and shed. I like to hang out with my stuff, even if I’m not using it. Then, there are the hunting dogs and the days I spend afield with them. Sometimes, I’m just out there for the love of the dog. I’m in the best shape of my life because I’m living the sporting life, not competing in it.

                 

                As I pondered my role in the world of the great outdoors I realized it wouldn’t matter how lean my muscles got, how many pull ups I could do, or how far up a mountain I could run with a full-sized camp. My motivation in life has more to do with living honestly, skillfully, reverently, and well. I’m a hunter.

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By Christine Cunningham | ProStaff EvoOutdoors

               

                For up to date information on the Women Hunting Alaska book, please visit Northern Publishing  or like Women Hunting Alaska  on Facebook!