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.

Food Plots 101: An Introduction to Creating a Healthy Food Source for Your Deer

Food Plots 101: An Introduction to Creating a Healthy Food Source for Your Deer

By: Lyle Gibbs

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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Something that draws a lot of attention in the hunting world, especially in whitetail country, is food plots. You know those times as you are driving home right at sunset or on your way to work early in the morning and your headlights cross the corner of that field and all you see is sets of eyes look up at you? In this post I will walk you through some simple steps to help you better understand the science of food plots and what it takes to produce a healthy, quality stand that your deer and other wildlife will enjoy.

To begin, let’s start with site selection. This is probably one of the harder parts of creating a good food plot. A lot of times you are limited to an area between groves of trees or a small corner of a production field or maybe even in that back of your pasture at home. These locations can work great and be easy to get to but a lot of times you run into issues like poor drainage, lack of air movement (hard frost), or maybe a rock bar from an old stream. If possible, choose the best location possible by looking up your county soil maps, each soil type will be defined by a number or number and letter combination. These numbers will then be placed on a key that will have the name of the soil type and a description of what they are. For instance, a common soil type around here is 98 Waldo, a silty clay loam. A lot of times this is found in lower spots in fields, that are poorly drained, where the river or creek may wash out in the winter time and leave silt deposits when the water regresses back.

One of the biggest controlling agents for a healthy stand is soil pH and soil nutrients. This can be checked with a standard soil test than can be submitted to your local farm store, fertilizer/chemical dealer, or by checking online for a lab near you. The sample is usually pulled in a profile of 0-8 inches deep throughout multiple spots in the field. Let’s say you have a half acre you are looking to plant I would pull 3 or 4 samples and place them all in a clean bucket and mix them together. This sample can then be placed in a bag (usually provided by the lab) and sent in for testing. If possible I would have them send the results and a recommendation for lime requirements. For example, if your soil pH level comes back as a 5.8 and your crop requires a 6.5 you may need to spread 2 tons of lime to the acre (these numbers are just an example). These tests will normally give you levels for Phosphorus and Potassium as well. Besides Nitrogen, these two nutrients play a key role in overall crop establishment, health, and recovery. The lab should be able to inform you on what levels are adequate for your area.

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This is a soil type map, showing where the soil changes and what the description is of the type. Can be found online at http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm

Once you have established a location and built up your soil nutrient levels it is time to choose a crop. I like something with variety. A legume blend is a good option, high protein, quick recovery from grazing, low impute, heat and cold tolerant, and easy to maintain. A nice blend may contain alfalfa which we know deer love, a clover that will germinate and grow fast, another legume like birdsfoot trefoil that will fill in slowly but leave you a very hardy stand, and also something like chicory which will give you big leaves with lots of forage material. With these crops you are able to use selective products for grass control which leave you with only the forage crops that you want. A lot of times these aggressive growing legume crops will need to be mown off (not too short) throughout the year to prevent them from going to seed and maintain vigorous healthy new growth. Another added benefit of these legume crops is their ability to fixate nitrogen on their own which means less fertilizer requirements from you.

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A basic soil sample is shown here. As you can see there is about 6-8 inches of a soil profile on the shovel.

I will list the steps below of how the preparation is can be done to establish a healthy food plot.

  • Site Selection
    1. Choose the best soil you can.
    2. Measure to know the size of area.
    3. Soil sample.
  • Chemical Burndown
    1. Glyphosate products.
    2. Remove any grass or weeds growing.
  • Field Prep.
    1. Plow or disk under dead plant material.
  • Soil Amendments
    1. Lime to desired pH
    2. Fertilize to adequate P and K levels.
  • Planting
    1. Choose desired planting blend.
    2. Broadcast seed (after risk of frost).
    3. Drag/work seed into soil.
  • Fertilize
    1. After germination.
    2. Legumes (use low nitrogen blend ex. 6-24-24).
  • Herbicides
    1. Use a selective herbicide for grass control.
    2. Addition of an adjuvant may be beneficial.
    3. Always read the label before using any chemicals.
  • Maintenance
    1. Mowing may be necessary throughout late spring and summer.
  • Enjoy watching your wildlife and prepare for hunting season!

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There are many benefits to having a food plot in your hunting area. Giving deer a variety of food to choose from besides what nature provides will naturally attract deer to the area. Having a food plot with multiple crops in it will give them even more reason to come back throughout the entire year as different crops are available. Alfalfa, clover, and chicory all provide high levels of protein and nutrients to help promote not only antler growth but also overall herd health which in turn will lead to better breeding success, healthier fawns with quality milk production from the does, and most importantly you are being a steward of the land and doing your part in creating habitat for the wildlife in your area.

Please keep in mind that these are only general guidelines to help you get started and that every location is different than the others. Do your homework to create the best habitat possible with minimal disturbance to the natural landscape. There are always local agronomists and biologists willing to help as well so don’t be afraid to contact them with any questions that you have.

-Lyle Gibbs-

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I was born, raised, and reside in the Willamette Valley of Western Oregon. I grew up in the outdoors learning to hunt and fish with my dad, camping with my family, and always looking for the next adventure in life. I learned early in life that the outdoors can provide something that is overlooked by most but found by those who share the passion, it truly provides memories that last a lifetime.

 

Little Tick, Big Problem

Little Tick, Big Problem

By Lisa Halseth, Team EvoOutdoors

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

As spring and summer begin, we anxiously venture out to enjoy the warm weather, the longer days, and endless outdoor adventures. As we are busy enjoying many outdoor activities, we may not think about our exposure to a very small culprit, who can pose a serious potential health risk to each of us if we don’t use precautions.

These culprits are known as ticks. The most common species of ticks in the U.S. include the Deer tick, American Dog tick, Brown Dog tick, Black-legged tick, and the Lone Star tick. They typically live in wooded areas, brush, and long grass and can be active year round but most active during the warmer months. They are able to detect animals’ breath, body heat, moisture and vibrations. They seek out these signs and cling to animals and humans as they pass by and then feed on the blood of these hosts. They can carry a variety of bacteria, which can infect their host and be passed on from one host to another, causing a number of diseases including Lyme Disease.

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Lyme Disease has been identified since 1977 but unless you live in one of the north eastern states where Lyme is more prevalent, you may not know much about it. It is now found throughout the U.S. and the CDC estimates that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme each year. Personally, I had heard of the disease in the past but didn’t know much about it until I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2012. Since my diagnosis, I have personally met at least a dozen people just in Bozeman, Montana who have the disease, some of whom contracted the Lyme in Montana where we used to think it didn’t exist. It has become much more prevalent than many people may be aware of. This is why it is so important to know the early signs of Lyme so it can be treated quickly and prevent it from turning into a chronic long term disease with more serious complications.

If you are bit by a tick, the best way to remove it is with a pair of tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin and mouth as possible and then pull straight off with steady pressure. Then thoroughly wash the area and be sure there are no remnants of the tick still in the skin. Within the first month of being bit, you will want to watch for symptoms of infection such as a red “bull’s eye” rash, flu-like symptoms, fever, headache, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. If you experience any of these, you should see a Doctor and get tested for Lyme, which is a simple blood test. If caught early enough, it can be treated with a round of antibiotics.

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If one does not recognize or experience the early symptoms of the infection and it is left untreated, the bacteria is able to move through the blood stream and settle throughout the body causing a long term infection of late stage, also known as, Chronic Lyme disease. This can lead to much more serious health issues and is much harder to diagnose and treat. Chronic Lyme disease symptoms can mimic the symptoms of many other diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. The list of symptoms is endless and can vary person to person, depending on where the bacteria settles in the body. Symptoms may include but are not limited to joint pain and inflammation, nerve pain, numbness in arms, legs and face, heart palpitations, “brain fog”, extreme fatigue, etc. Often times, people suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease are misdiagnosed with other diseases because Lyme can mimic so many other diseases and the symptoms are so broad. Before my diagnosis, based on my symptoms, they thought that I was suffering from MS. Thankfully, I was able to find a Lyme literate Doctor who recognized the symptoms and was able to do the proper blood tests to find out it was in fact Lyme disease.

In order to protect ourselves from ticks and the diseases they can spread, we must take proper precautions when enjoying the great outdoors. These include:

  • Use insect repellants containing deet or natural alternatives on skin and clothing.
  • Wear light color clothing so they are easier to spot.
  • Do a full body inspection after being outdoors
  • Check your gear and dogs before bringing them indoors
  • Shower as soon as possible when returning home
  • Wash and dry the worn clothes thoroughly

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May is Lyme Disease awareness month and I would love to help spread some awareness for this disease. For more information on Lyme Disease, check out lymedisease.org. There is also a very informative documentary about Chronic Lyme Disease called “Under Our Skin,” which can be streamed online. If anyone has questions about the disease, treatment, Lyme Literate doctors, etc., feel free to email me at lisa.halseth11@gmail.com.

Since she was a young girl, Lisa's dad, an avid outdoorsman, taught her the ways of big game hunting on horseback in the backcountry. Lisa enjoys sharing her passion for bow hunting with others and encouraging more women and children to get out there and experience the endless rewards that hunting has to offer.

Since she was a young girl, Lisa’s dad, an avid outdoorsman, taught her the ways of big game hunting on horseback in the backcountry. Lisa enjoys sharing her passion for bow hunting with others and encouraging more women and children to get out there and experience the endless rewards that hunting has to offer.

Introduction to Competitive Shooting

Introduction to Competitive Shooting

By: Morgan Garcia

EvoOutdoors Team Member

Armed Rogue

IMG_0356Years ago my husband and I wanted to get into competitive shooting, we just didn’t know how. We had heard of a 3 Gun match and thought that was really the only type of competition we could get into. Unfortunately we didn’t have the funds to get another shot gun and another rifle in addition to the ones we already had so that we could both get involved at each competition. Not to mention all of the ammo that we needed for each weapon.

We searched on Google but came up short. For some reason there didn’t seem to be any information that we could find about how to get into competitive shooting in general, 3 Gun or otherwise. We got discouraged and decided to forget about it.

Years passed, but the desire to shoot competitively was still strong.

One day I jumped back onto Google and tried searching again. I found a lot of information on competitive shooting, but nothing on how to get started, where to go for matches, etc.

After a while of frustrated searching, I decided to look locally. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before!

I came across a local shooting league called, Alpha Mike Shooters. I sent Mike an email and gave him my phone number, expressing my interest in wanting to get involved in competitive shooting and asking if he could speak with me. I didn’t have high hopes, but to my surprise, bright and early at 7 AM the next day he called me and we had a great chat about how to get involved. He was so inspiring, passionate and generally very excited about getting me involved. You could really tell that he loved competitive shooting and loved to get new people involved.

He encouraged us to go to a match that was happening that very weekend. He said over and over, “Do not come to watch, it’s boring, come to shoot!”

I was scared. I had wanted to get into it for a long while now, but it was all suddenly happening so fast!

But, there’s no time like the present. We went that very Sunday and shot the entire match. It was a huge eye opener to the whole sport. It was very laid back and everyone was so nice and encouraging and helpful. It was surprising, actually.

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Gun owners are generally nice, but wow, these people were extremely welcoming.

The overall match was such a thrill! There were some people that had been to dozens, even hundreds of matches  and they were SO FAST! But it wasn’t intimidating, in fact, it was like watching what we could become if we continued with competition shooting; it was encouraging.

Alpha Mike had warned me that I would come in dead last. And he was right. I came in dead last, my husband was one peg above me. But it was expected. There were a lot of professionals there. We went to learn and experience. And at the end of it, we were hooked and ready to keep competing with different organizations and at different ranges. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

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Here are a few tips if you want to get involved in competitive shooting:

Always look locally. I made the mistake of looking nationally/too broadly, but the matches that you’re going to go to in the beginning, will be matches in your region. Many of our local shooting ranges advertised that they had shooting competitions, but sometimes they didn’t and sometimes you had to call and talk to someone. Sometimes you just learned about them through other shooters. But search locally, ask around and find out where people go to shoot competitions locally.

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  1. Don’t be afraid! As I said in my story, there were a lot of professional shooters there, way faster, better gear, had been doing it for years, some of them were sponsored, etc, etc. But you have to start somewhere. Nobody will judge you. In fact, everyone is there to help you. Ignore the professionals and focus on your own pace.
  2. Take heed of safety. Safety is obviously important when operating a firearm, but it is crucial in shooting competitions. There are people hanging out all over the range directly behind you, so you want to be as safe as possible and make sure you pay attention to the safety rules that you are given. You will be disqualified if you don’t follow the safety rules. I know that sounds intimidating, but don’t worry, just focus on paying attention to the safety rules and then implementing those safety rules as you run each stage, and you’ll be just fine.
  3. If you can pick up brass, then pick up brass. If you can’t, then don’t. You’ll notice right away if you can pick up your brass or not by noticing if the other shooters pick up their brass. Feel free to ask if you can pick up brass, but I’ve noticed that only a couple ranges will let you pick up brass during a competition. It’s usually because it’s time consuming and they want to just get through the stage as quickly as possible.
  4. Listen. The range officer is there to help keep everyone safe, as well as to help keep the stage moving along without incident. Listen to the RO, pay attention and ask questions if you don’t understand. If you’re struggling, the range officer, or whoever is timing you, might whisper in your ear as you’re shooting to do something specific; listen to them. Everyone is there to help.
  5. Take it slow. There might be others there that are faster than you, but your goal starting off shouldn’t be speed, it should be accuracy. Get your accuracy down and slowly increase your speed. Take your time, focus and make sure that you’re getting the shots you want. I came in last with my very first competition, but ever since then, I’ve climbed the latter because I’ve steadily increased my speed, along with my accuracy.
  6. Get the proper gear. I’m not talking about the most expensive gear, or the most ‘cool’ gear, I’m talking about the proper gear. Most competitions require an outside the waistband holster and at least 3 magazines. Depending on how many rounds the magazines for your gun holds, will determine what class you’re in. But, regardless, get at least 3 magazines, as well as a magazine holder that can hold 2 magazines. Two magazines in the holder and 1 in the gun is how it works. Make sure you have appropriate clothing, as well. Close toed shoes, eye protection, ear protection, etc.
  7. Make sure you have ammo! I usually have about 200 rounds of ammo with me when I go to a competition. Even if they say you only need 100-150…bring more. While there may only be, let’s say, 10 targets per stage and you only need to shoot each target twice, you may miss a target and will need to empty an entire magazine just to hit the target. It happens! So bring extra ammo.
  8. Speaking of ammo, get the MagLuLa Magazine loader and thank me later! You have to reload all of your magazines after you’re done with each stage. Do you know how tough that is on your thumbs?! I do! Cause I did at our first competition. It was miserable. Get the loader that is appropriate for your magazines/caliber. Just do it. Trust me.UpLula1-456x456
  9. Iff you shoot .22, make sure you find out if the match that you’re going to, allows .22. The minimum caliber that you can be sure will be accepted at any match, is 9mm. But there are lots and lots of matches that allow .22. Most calibers are generally accepted, it just depends on the type of match. Ask ahead of time to be sure.
  10. During a stage there may be a tough target that you’re just not hitting, move on! It’s okay to move on, especially when you’re just starting out. If it’s a target that you just cannot hit for whatever reason, then just move on, instead of wasting a bunch of ammo. You’ll get a miss, but in my opinion, it’s better than wasting time, as well as ammo. Many shooters will agree.
  11. Pay attention to what type of match you’re doing. Is it USPSA? IDPA? NSSA-NSCA? Other? Shooting all these different types of competitions is a lot of fun and highly encouraged. However, every type of competition will have different rules, so make sure that you understand what you’re walking into first. Ask questions before you get there and ask questions when you are there. Don’t worry, you’re not bothering anyone. Ask questions.
  12. You don’t have to go to every match. You may feel as if you have to go to every match, but that’s not true. You can come and go as you please. Go to one match a month, or all of them! It’s completely up to you.
  13. As Alpha Mike said to me, don’t go to watch! It is incredibly boring watching matches. If you want to get involved, then just go ready to shoot! You won’t learn anything by just watching. Trust me, you have to get in there and experience it and maybe even fail (or succeed!), to get the full picture.
  14. HAVE FUN! The most important thing is to relax and have fun. Shooting in competitions is incredibly exhilarating and you will be addicted. It can be easy to get caught up in wanting to get sponsored, etc. But just have fun for a while, maybe you’ll discover that you just want to do it for fun instead of as a profession. But no matter your goal, don’t forget to enjoy it.

The world of competitive shooting is vast. Get involved and have fun!

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Morgan and Becca from Sure Shots San Antonio. Sure Shots is a women’s pistol league which provides a safe, enjoyable and educational environment for ladies of all ages and experience levels to learn and grow their shooting skills for recreational, competitive or defensive shooting. Aside from shooting competitions, Morgan enjoys 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.

Are Hunters Athletes?

Are Hunters Athletes?

By: Cass Via Jr.

EvoOutdoors Team Member

12417549_864385647041352_6119146540256243273_nToday more and more hunters are referred to as athletes. According to dictionary.com the definition of an athlete is 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. The word athlete comes from the Greek “Athlos” which translates to “Contest” to “Task” accomplishments. Humans equate athletes with physical accomplishments relying on strength, stamina, and physical exertion.

By these definitions do you think hunters should be considered athletes? Is the word Athlete tossed around in the hunting industry for marketing purposes? Does it depend on what type of hunting you do?

Take Cameron Hanes and T-Bone Turner for example. Cameron Hanes earned his stripes in the hunting industry by his training regimes to become the ultimate predator for his back country archery hunts. T-Bone Turner, one of the most respected hunters in the industry, earned his stripes in the hunting business by winning many state titles and a world championship through target archery. Both very different hunters made it to the top because they work hard and have a passion for the outdoors and the animals they pursue to feed their families. Should both be considered athletes, why or why not?

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Cameron Haynes

Are hunters out West more athletic than hunters in other regions? Do you have to be in better shape to handle the terrain out West? There are professional athletes; baseball players, basketball players, football players, that wouldn’t last one day in the wilderness and these individuals are considered the greatest athletes of our time. Do hunters have their own style of athleticism?

Today, I consider myself an athlete because of the things I do outside of hunting to make me a better and a more successful hunter.

But one question still remains….Are you an athlete?

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I have been hunting since I can remember. My dad got me into archery hunting at a young age and since I haven’t been able to put a bow and arrow down. I live my life at full draw. I hunt all species of game with my bow and camera. As an avid bow hunter and videographer I want to share my adventures with the EvoOutdoors fans!

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

 

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.

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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.

MORE THAN JUST BEARS

MORE THAN JUST BEARS

By Erin Merrill, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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Kryptek Camo from EvoOutdoors

Seven miles down a narrow dirt road, into the back woods of Maine, away from towns, pavement, electricity and cell service, five Maine outdoors women of varying ages and backgrounds are at camp for the same reasons:

We love the outdoors and we want to hunt black bears.

For some of us, we want to keep pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone and become better outdoors women.

Estimates put Maine’s bear population at around 30,000 and with successful hunters taking an average of 2800 bears over the 16-week season. The Maine Black Bear is thriving if not over-populating species in the dense woods. However, these animals are incredibly smart and keenly aware of their surroundings which makes successfully hunting one a great accomplishment.

Robin and I have each shot a bear before; her’s over bait and mine using hounds. Tammy is a professional photographer and has been bear hunting for a handful of years now. Taylor is an incredible biologist by trade and while she was at camp, the bear she wanted is at a different bait site closer to her house.  Sue is a trauma nurse and active leaders in the outdoor women’s movement in Maine.  Robin enjoyed silencing critics who questioned if, as women, we could handle bears by ourselves in the woods alone by pointing out,

“We are five women who have and know how to use high powered rifles.  No person or animal is going to mess with us.”

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Since it was early in the season, we were sitting over baited sites waiting for the bears to hit hyperphagia and begin to come into the sites before dark.  Each morning Robin would get the bait together and with a truck and 4-wheelers, we would check the sites to see if they had been hit and add more bait and smells to lure the bears in.  It is no easy task to get the bears to steadily come to the sites when there is so much natural food around.

‘I’m terrified of them,”

Sue said when I asked if she enjoyed her week in camp so far even though she had not yet seen a bear, “I came here to conquer my fear and if I haven’t done it, I’ve come close.” For Sue, conquering her fear meant sitting on a metal chair placed behind a piece of camo fabric tied between two trees and looking between the trees towards the bait site.  For a beginner with a healthy fear of bears, sitting on the ground and waiting for one to come in is about as bad ass as you can get. Bears are silent in the woods which is how they earned their nickname the black ghost. It tests your mental and physical limits as you sit, listen and watch – without moving and giving your location away.  As night sets in and new sounds emerge, you need to be on your game and ready for a bear to stroll in.  Every sound you hear may be a bear or it could be a moose, deer or coyote or fisher.  Hunters know how many other animals are roaming the woods with us.IMG_6501

Hunting and her relationship with Robin helped Tammy become more independent and grow her confidence in her outdoor skills.  She sat in a treestand as the winds from an incoming storm steadily increased and decided to build herself a ground blind when the swaying of the tree got to be too much. Using fallen branches, leaves and a piece of canvas, she created a small blind that she sat behind until dark.  Just a few years ago, she would not have had enough confidence to get down alone from her stand, let alone build one on the ground.

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Taylor and I

I am not nearly as courageous as Sue or Tammy when it comes to conquering the mental piece of hunting.  I sat in a treestand with Robin and tried to become familiar with the sounds of the Canada Jays, ducks in the bog and tree frogs.  I watched a Northern Flicker land on a branch 15 feet from us and preen for a few minutes, totally unaware that we were in the tree.  A Snowshoe Hare came in and out of the site a couple of times before disappearing into the thick underbrush.

During the entire week, we saw signs that bears had been around and were eating grubs from tree stumps and fallen logs but none of us saw a bear.  We spent time hiking, foraging for mushrooms, exploring the fields, talking about our favorite guns and scopes and drank lots of coffee and wine as we shared stories and our love of the Maine woods.

Bear camp is about more than just the bears.

WOMO

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Erin is actively involved with local organizations that promote women in the outdoors and has taught classes on writing, campfire cooking and white-tail deer basics. You can find Erin’s writing about the challenges facing women hunters, life in the Maine woods and her hunting and outdoor adventures on her blog www.andastrongcupofcoffee.com as well as in her monthly magazine column “Women in the Wood” featured in the Northwoods Sporting Journal.

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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Find Your Shed: The benefits of shed hunting

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Shed hunting is one of those scarce American hobbies that many have never heard about. It can be a challenging and rewarding pastime, and it seems like one of deer hunting’s mysteries. There is value in shed hunting other than actually finding antlers. First and foremost it can be a family occasion. Second, shed hunting also aids in late season scouting, which is my favorite part about shed hunting. Its also a great way to keep tabs on which deer made it through the season on your hunting grounds and the surrounding grounds when you find their sheds. Lastly shed hunting will ultimately help you understand your land better and help you to become a better deer hunter. Highly successful shed hunters find more bone because they spend more time in the woods, they cover more ground, and they have developed a routine of places to look. I can’t help you with the walking, but here are some tips and tricks that will help you find sheds and ultimately get you into shed hunting.

 

10368398_621902124591345_8595388280039438603_nValue of Shed Hunting:

Walking with friends or family for an entire day can provide a better perception of your hunting land and it can be a day of adventure. Its always fun watching family and friend’s faces light up with a smile when they find an antler. It’s also a great way to grow our sport and pass the tradition on by getting a youngster involved in the outdoors. Shed hunting provides an opportunity to teach kids about hunting, wildlife, the land and it’s FUN! Sheds are also worth money and sell for about seven to nine dollars a pound depending on the condition of the shed. Finding a shed is always priceless for me!

 

Aids in Late Season Scouting:

Late season scouting could be a whole other topic for an article with it being so vast. But since you will be deliberately and systematically covering ground shed hunting you can look for rubs, scrapes, trails, etc. to get a better understanding of what the deer are doing on your hunting grounds. I like to carry a GPS with me and mark every rub, bed, and new deer trail I find. When I get back home I mark it on my map. This will help you remember where the sign was late when you start to scout early before deer season.

 

 

10343484_10203605997895102_8890751720329402274_nScout for Antlers:

Scout for antlers just like you do deer before deer season. Some bucks live in the same territory from fall through early spring however, many other deer travel to wintering areas with good thermal cover, warm south-facing slopes, food sources, and heavily used trails. That’s where those bucks are going to drop their antlers. Hike, drive, and glass for these spots and I promise you, you will find sheds. Once you’ve figured out where some bucks are spending the winter, set up trail cameras near feeding areas, well-used trails, or even a mock scrape. Use a map before season and pick out spots you want to walk.

 

Utilize Trail Cameras:

Trail cameras are huge when it comes to finding bone! Utilize your trail cameras like you do before and during hunting season. It’s a great way to know where the deer are on the land you hunt and when they start to shed their antlers. Deer will most likely shed their antlers where they feel most secure. Look near cover that provides the deer with safety and where they don’t have to travel very far to find food. Usually when it is cold deer like to stay within 100 yards of a food source they are attending too regularly. I like to focus my searching on the edges of food plots and other food sources.11016729_10152713864612253_188277947490349076_n

 

Tabs on Deer:

Shed hunting provides you with evidence on which bucks made it through the hunting season and gives you an insight on new bucks that in your area. This and scouting, will help you formulate a plan or strategy for next years hunting season. It also helps you tell the health of the buck or herd on your hunting land by knowing when he dropped his antlers, and by the color of them. If he dropped his antlers considerably early or late then he may have had his health compromised in some way. If a shed is considerably lighter than others or all your sheds have been getting lighter over the years then it tells you that the deer are not getting the proper nutrition that they need.11018578_10152703995637253_5531271716939876153_n

 

Where to Look:

During the late season deer are never far from food. So the best place to start looking is around the food source that your hunting lands produce. Deer usually stay within 100 yards of their food source when it’s cold. In addition, check heavily used deer trails headed to those food sources. Check the thermal cover areas that those trails are coming from. Lastly, check the south facing slopes. Here is an example of where I would look on the land that I hunt. First I would walk to the southern edges right along a food plot. I would do this first because the deer have quick access to a prime food source and they can soak up direct sunlight at the same time. Next, I would walk the north side of the food plots because of the good cover, allowing the deer to bed in that cover. I would then check in my “secret spots,” the spots that are obvious areas that deer love, areas that have a dozen or more rubs, etc. I always check the southern areas of these secret spots because the deer bed along the thicket for the sun exposure and the thicket provides them cover. Thickets offer a good chance for a buck to snag up an antler and drop it there. After that I check every creek and fence crossing. I check these because of the deer usually jump to cross and that jumping sometimes jars antlers loose. You have to be a smart shed hunter and pick apart the cover, searching the best-looking places effectively and efficiently.

 

Shed hunting can be a fun and rewarding time in the woods with friends and family. It can also allow you to get insight on how to hunt a particular deer for the upcoming season. So get out there and find some BONE!

-Cass Via Jr.

EvoOutdoors Prostaff

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