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

Small Spaces, Big Hearts:

Lessons learned from modern day pioneer life

Kristin Parma, EvoOutdoors Media Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWS FLASH:

Small space living is not glamorous.

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

  1. Less is more.

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

Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

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

  1. Necessity vs. Comfort

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. Focus on the Outdoors

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

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

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Czech Out Ranch entrance gate

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

  1. Lower carbon footprint. Less waste.

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

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

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

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

  1. Appreciate the little things.

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

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Installing electrical wire

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

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

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

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Standing Buck, Sitting Duck: An Ethics Contradiction

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Standing Buck, Sitting Duck: An Ethics Contradiction

Written and reposted with permission from: Aaron Futrell

This article originally posted on: Whackstar Hunters

As a water fowler, I have heard that it is not ethical to shoot a sitting duck. You need to kick it up and take the more ethical shot when it is flying. The reasoning is that you need to give the duck a chance. Shooting a sitting duck is not challenging. In fact, there is a famous adage saying that goes like this; when someone is an easy target, they are “sitting ducks”.

As a deer hunter, I have heard that it is not ethical to shoot a running deer. You need to let it stop, and take the more ethical shot while it is standing still. The reasoning is that you do not want to take the chance of wounding the deer. Shooting a running deer is challenging. There is another old adage saying that says when things are difficult to accomplish, it is like, “trying to hit a moving target”.

big buckI think everyone can see where I am going with this. Why is it considered ethical to shoot only stationary deer and only moving ducks? The ethics are contradictory. I have mulled this over in my mind, trying to bring some kind of resolution to the logic, yet I cannot seem to wrap my brain around it.
Firstly, you will get no argument from me about only shooting a standing deer. It gives the hunter the best opportunity for making a quick, clean kill, with the least chance of haphazardly wounding the deer. As conscientious hunters, this is what we should strive to do. A deer should not suffer because we decided to take a low percentage shot. I have been hunting long enough to have had the misfortune of making a bad shot on a deer that was standing still – let alone running. I wish I would have missed. It is one of the most gut wrenching feelings a hunter can experience.
mallard-male-swimming.jpg.adapt.945.1When it comes to shooting a moving duck, I understand that as well. The majority of shots taken at ducks and geese are while they are moving. That is the nature of the game. The ducks fly into your decoy set and you take the easy 20-30 yard shot. Hundreds of thousands of ducks are ethically killed every year this way.
I understand why it is considered ethical to shoot moving ducks but not moving deer – based solely on the environment. A wide open sky, at close range, is a high percentage shot. However, a running deer weaves in and out of trees – usually at greater distances, which creates a much lower percentage shot. In addition to this, the hunter is shooting a single projectile at a deer, compared to a plethora of BB’s at a duck. Even though the duck is moving, the difference in the ammunition used allows us to make a quick, clean kill.

The sitting duck is the hang up. Why is it unethical? Hitting a stationary target is easier than trying to hit a moving one. Common sense says that we have a better chance at making a quick, clean kill if the target is stationary. The only thing I can think of, is that if a duck is sitting in your decoy spread, you run the risk of peppering your decoys. Back in the day when most water fowlers put hours into carving and painting each decoy, it is understandable to not want to shoot them. Even today, at $50 to $60 bucks for a half dozen decoys, I would not want to shoot them up either. So instead, we flush the ducks, get them above the decoys, and open fire. OK – I can accept that. But what about the sitting duck with no decoys? When we come up to the pond, peer around the cattails, and see a big mallard 20 yards away, why yell, “hey duck!”, to make him fly away, and then take the shot? Why not just blast him on the water?

Ice Cave Adventures

Ice Cave Adventures

Chelsea Scott

The Northern Life

That Canadian Girls Blog

Nestled into the mountains of Alberta, Canada, on the border of the iconic Jasper National Park and the world-famous Banff National Park, there is a hidden secret. A place thousands of years old, where you can gaze into the past, where you can reach out and touch a piece of world history. There is a cave made of ice of the purest blue, ice that has shaped our world and that is part of a now quickly receding glacier.

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Most people who visit the Columbia Icefields do so in the summer time; they park at the Discovery Centre across the highway and take the Snow Coach ride up onto the glacier, travelling in first class comfort to set foot on the glacier, to ooh and aah at standing on a moving river of ice. And while yes, I have definitely done that, and yes, it is a pretty cool experience, it is definitely not the best way to experience this incredible environment. What if I told you that you could explore INSIDE the glacier? That you could walk into something that is a piece of real history. Because you can; I have.

I would like to note, right here and now, at the beginning of this piece, that glaciers are incredibly dangerous places, where you should not travel unless you have the proper training, experience and equipment. One fall into a crevasse, and poof! You’re gone. So when travelling in and around the glacier, make smart, low risk decisions.

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Aside from the Snow Coach tour (the above mentioned bus tour to the top of the glacier), there is another great way to experience the Columbia Icefield: park your car across the highway from the Discovery Centre and hike the ‘Toe of the Glacier’ trail. This trail takes you across a breathtaking landscape, where moraines tower over you and the ground is littered with erratics and alpine plants and wildlife. As you can see in the photo above, this landscape makes us humans look, and feel, tiny. I love the feeling of standing in a landscape that dwarfs me. It makes you realize just how very big this world is.

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So in the winter, if you walk the road down to the lower parking lot, you will see a trail where people have crossed the debris field at the bottom of the glacier and it leads up to the foot of the glacier.

As you approach, you will notice a couple hollowed out sections in the foot of the glacier. I walked over first to the ones on the right, just to check them out. While these are not actually caves, it’s incredible to see the glacial ice up close. It is the most incredible blue color, something that no photograph can really do justice to.

Being able to reach out and touch something this ancient is an absolutely incredible feeling.

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Out of the three hollowed out sections, one is actually a cave. There really aren’t words to do justice to the cave, so instead I would like to show you.

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The entrance is really nothing remarkable, its not until you get closer that the light starts to catch the ice and light it up.

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For the entire approach to the cave, the wind had been tearing over the glacier and had been in our face and whistling in our ears. When we reached the cave and climbed inside, the abrupt silence was almost louder than the wind had been. There was no natural noise in the glacier, except for small creaks and groans from the ice mass.

 

Up close, the glacier was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen; there was almost a lacework of air bubbles and frost inside the otherwise perfectly clear ice.

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Standing inside the glacier was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was so much more awe inspiring than just riding a bus to the top of the glacier, taking a selfie to say I was there and then leaving. I worked for this, I hiked through a mix of mud, ice and snow and I slid down a glacier on my butt to get to this cave and it definitely did not disappoint.

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Should you ever want to visit the glacier, make sure to check conditions with local park authorities, and remember, the ice caves aren’t accessible in the summer!  No matter how you visit the Columbia Ice-fields, you are sure to be blown away and leave inspired.

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Chelsea Scott calls Alberta home where she is an KES Kananaskis Emergency Services Firefighter and guide for Kananaskis Outfitters. You can follow Chelsea’s outdoor adventures on her “That Canadian Girls Blog” and The Northern Life Facebook page. Chelsea describes herself as an adventure enthusiast who is madly in love with wild landscapes.

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.

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

by Andrea Haas

Team member EvoOutdoors/Huntress View

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

  • Geo-caching

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

  • Morel Mushroom Hunting

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

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

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

  • Photography

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

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

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  • Remote Photography

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

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

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

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

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

-Stand up paddle board

-Paddle

-Life jacket or personal flotation device

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

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

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

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

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

 

9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

 9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

Sarah Gaffney

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slow Cooker Venison Burritos

Slow Cooker Venison Burritos

Scott Emerick, EvoOutdoors Team Member

Are you sick of the same old venison recipes you have been cooking for years? Try these delicious and extremely easy venison burritos and I guarantee you wont just cook them once.

This recipe wins no awards for being the fanciest but is by far my family and friends favorite.

scottWhat you will need:

-1.5 – 2 lb boneless venison round

-1 (16 oz) Jar salsa (hot if you like spicy)

-1 (15 oz) Can corn – (drained)

-1 (15 oz) Black beans – (half drained)

-1 (8oz) Package cream cheese (4 oz needed)

-1 Package of your favorite flour tortillas

-1 (8 oz) Package shredded Mexican cheese

Lets get cooking!

  1. Place your venison into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Cover with the jar of salsa, drained can of corn and half drained can of beans.
  3. Set the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 6-7 hours or until the venison pulls apart easily with a fork. It is easiest if you remove the venison from the slow cooker and pull apart on a cutting board. Return the venison to the slow cooker.
  4. Cube 4 oz cream cheese and stir in until melted.

That is it, time to eat!

Place the desired amount on a tortilla, top with shredded cheese, along with sour cream and hot sauce if you prefer and simply enjoy!

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Scott Emerick was born and raised in Michigan. He came from an outdoors family but aside from fishing, they never hunted. “I always was and still currently am the only one out of my family who hunts. I was introduced to hunting from a buddy in college. After a few hunts I was beyond addicted.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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

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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