Raising An Outdoors Girl

Raising An Outdoors Girl

By: Morgan Garcia

EvoOutdoors Team Member, Armed Rogue

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Total Archery Challenge: 7 months pregnant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t understand that thought process.

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

You get the idea.

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

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

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

5 Ways to Get Her to Hunt

From a girl who loves hunting

By: Molly Keefe

EvoOutdoors Team Member & Fit Huntress 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Small Spaces, Big Hearts:

Lessons learned from modern day pioneer life

Kristin Parma, EvoOutdoors Media Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWS FLASH:

Small space living is not glamorous.

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

  1. Less is more.

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

Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

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

  1. Necessity vs. Comfort

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. Focus on the Outdoors

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

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

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Czech Out Ranch entrance gate

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

  1. Lower carbon footprint. Less waste.

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

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

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

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

  1. Appreciate the little things.

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

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Installing electrical wire

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

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

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

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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.

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

 

Going Greek: Venison Gyros

Going Greek: Venison Gyros

Adam Parma, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

Kristin Parma, EvoOutdoors Media

“Gee-ro”

“J-eye-ro”

“Hee-ro”

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

2 lbs venison steak- any cut.

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

Olive oil

Unsalted butter

1 white onion

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

Pita bread

Feta Cheese

Tzatziki sauce

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

Roma tomato, sliced

Romaine lettuce, shredded

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

Directions:

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

2. Season with spices. 20151130_185330

 

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

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Add hot sauce for a spicy kick!

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

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

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

THE WORLD IS YOURS: Guiding through the Texas Youth Hunting Program

THE WORLD IS YOURS

By Kristin Parma, Evo Media

www.evooutdoors.com 

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            “Ariel, I am here for you,”

the words of her father, echoed in my mind as he braced his daughter in the ground blind the morning of November 14th, 2015. Ten year old Ariel had the determined but worried look of a beginner hunter as she shouldered up to the rifle the way her father had taught her. The kick of the barrel, the pressure of making the right shot, and the consequences of missing her target. The check list of thoughts that we as hunters think about at one time or another in our lives. Ariel took the rifle off safety and peered through the scope.

The target? A sounder of feral hogs.

DSC_0830According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, feral hogs are distributed throughout Texas, with the highest population densities in East, South and Central Texas. Feral hogs compete directly with livestock and often cause damage to agricultural crops, fields, wetlands, creeks and trees. Because of this and many more reasons there are few regulations in the state of Texas on the harvest of feral hogs. For more information about feral hogs visit TPWD: Feral HogsDSC_1028

After a few more encouraging words from her father and I, Ariel pulled the trigger. The sounder scattered in all directions. A young hog was hit as it slowly made it’s way into the thick south Texas brush. That morning we saw many whitetail does. Ariel however, made the decision not to take a shot. The does were walking in front and behind, chasing one another. Ariel was not confident she could shoot in time to only hit one deer. Visibly, she was worried and felt remorse for the beautiful deer in front of her. Based on her training, Ariel wanted to make sure any shot she took was a clean, ethical one. An extremely important and mature decision to make for a ten year old child. A decision that her father and I supported despite any effort we made to coach her through it.

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Sunset at Hoffman Ranch

For the second year in a row my husband Adam and I have been blessed with the opportunity to volunteer with the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP). TYHP is the joint effort of the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to offer youth hunts that are safe, educational and affordable, all while learning about the valuable role that landowners and hunters play in wildlife conservation.

ThDSC_0935is was our second year as hunt guides/mentors at the Hoffman Ranch, a low fence cattle farm owned by Mr. & Mrs. Hoffman in Alice, Texas. This particular TYHP hunt included four children ages 10-14, their fathers and four volunteer hunt guides/mentors. The primary target was to harvest one doe whitetail deer and/or varmint. Volunteers like Hunt master Jack Thompson and cook Dan Griffin, as well as the generosity of the landowners made the hunt possible. In addition to hunting two evenings and two mornings the kids were treated to an educational and enthralling talk from Texas Game Warden Carmen Rickel.  Kids and adults alike, were invited to look through Carmen’s night vision goggles, ask questions about gear and hunting regulations, as well as take an oath to uphold the responsibility to be wildlife stewards.

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The experience of volunteering your time with a youth program is a wonderful feeling however, guiding this hunt with Ariel and her father made it rewarding beyond measure. Prior to that weekend, I questioned my skills as a guide.  I am not an expert hunter and I have reservations about ever considering myself one. I believe ego can kill our compassion for wildlife. I refuse to think I am so good at something that I forget what it is like to learn, to grow, and to be excited about a day in the field, harvest or no harvest. From the smallest white-wing dove to the largest game animal I have hunted, the Roosevelt elk, I respect all wildlife beyond the kill. What I do have are many experiences in the pursuit of game that have helped me gain the knowledge to help others in the field. In particular, animal behavior and tracking. Some time after Ariel’s shot I took to the brush in search of her harvest. I was determined to find that hog and though I am scratched and scarred from the cactus and assortment of thorny trees, I did. An accomplishment and affirmation to myself that I am worthy of being a guide and mentor.

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Ariel’s first harvest on her father’s birthday! This hog was dressed and taken home by the father/daughter team for consumption.

I came away from the weekend with a renewed sense of what hunting really is. Hunting is time spent outdoors pursuing and celebrating all wildlife. Some people may contest that I did not hunt that weekend. I would challenge that argument. I experienced everything a hunter experiences and more- except pulling the trigger. I prepared, watched, analyzed, tracked and felt the adrenaline, remorse and excitement of a weekend in the field. All the components that we perhaps take for granted sometimes as adults in the hunting community. After all, we don’t call it “killing” for a reason. Hunting is so much more than that.

Wildlife we saw: Coyote, bobcat, quail, turkey, deer, javelina, hogs, fox, geese and more!

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Though Ariel had never pulled the trigger until that weekend I learned that she helped her mom and dad with an array of activities including hunting, baking, canning wild edibles, and tanning snake skins. I learned from Ariel that weekend about many of those things. I treasure the time spent with her and her father. Most importantly, I respected her father’s patience. If Ariel decided she didn’t want to shoot something it was OK. There was no pressure, only support and guidance from the both of us. To spend the following morning after her harvest in the blind taking pictures of all the beautiful animals and being an audience for the fidgety, spitfire antics of Ariel, was more than enough to satisfy any of my goals for the weekend. A girl who wanted nothing more than to make her dad proud, and of course, laugh. Something I can completely relate to as a wife and daughter.

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A father daughter pact

That morning I stood outside the blind watching father and daughter make a pact.

“I will hunt the piggies and you can hunt the deer.”

Ariel told her father. The love of a father is something very sacred and special. To know that a father wants the world for his daughter is even more special. To be thanked by that father for my guidance and help to instill the confidence in his daughter was beyond measure.

20151114_111227My message to Ariel:

Ariel, the world is yours. You can do anything you put your mind to. Never stop dreaming and striving to fulfill those dreams. You ARE a hunter however, continue to learn and be in wonder of the wildlife around you. A picture is just as special as a harvest. May your father and you be blessed with many more hunting memories. Now, bring home the bacon!

Adam and I hope to visit Ariel’s family in the new year and give Ariel her first archery lesson. I am also told that Ariel’s homemade biscuits are melt in your mouth good!

 

Kristin Parma  Czech Out Ranch

“Look a hawk in the tree!” -Me

“There’s a hog in the tree?”  -Ariel

“Yeah when pigs fly!” -Ariel’s father

(Laughter)

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TYHP Hunt: Hoffman Ranch 2015

Follow the link below to read about my first TYHP experience at Hoffman Ranch:

TEXAS TRADITIONS

Group shot

TYHP Hunt: Hoffman Ranch 2014

Broken in the Backcountry: Preparing for Emergencies

Broken in the Backcountry:

Preparing for Emergencies

By Lisa Halseth

EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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It was the weekend before the 2014 archery opener, my dad, Dan and I had just finished setting up our hunting camp.  It’s our home away from home in the fall, tucked in the endless mountains of Montana. Since the hard work was done we decided to head out on the horses to do some evening scouting for bulls. It was a beautiful evening, the weather couldn’t have been better. After a six mile ride, as we crested the highest ridge we spotted a couple bulls down below us in a lush meadow. We tied up the horses, and sat down to get a better look.  We stared in awe, as we witnessed eighteen bulls grazing, sparing and raking the ground. It was an amazing August evening that I was lucky to share with two of the best men in my life.

An evening I would never forget.

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As we rode back towards camp that evening, I had a serious case of elk fever. We anxiously discussed our game plan for the following Saturday, which would be opening morning of the archery season. While daydreaming of those big bulls, I completely lost focus on my horse and the horse I was ponying behind me. As I looked over my shoulder to check on Kimber who was following behind me, my horse decided to snag a quick bite of grass. As she reached down my right rein slipped from my hand and fell to the ground. I turned back and realized what had happened. This was not a big deal, I was just going to reach forward and grab the rein which was hanging to the ground from her bridle.  As I stood in my stirrups and leaned forward toward her head to grab it, she simultaneously stepped on the rein and jerked her head to release the tension that had pulled her head down. As her head jerked back, it met my face hard.

All I remember is hearing a loud crunching noise and seeing stars.

The next thing I knew I was on the ground on all fours holding my face and completely out of it. The blood immediately started to flow. Once my dad and Dan realized I was on the ground they came running.  There was so much blood gushing from my face that they weren’t sure of the extent of my injuries. My dad threw me his handkerchief as he said, “I hope you didn’t break your nose!” At that moment I brought my fingers to my face and then I knew my nose was not in the right place. It was pushed to the right side of my face. Luckily, I had enough adrenaline going through my system that it numbed my face and I wasn’t able to feel where my nasal bone had pushed through the skin on the bridge of my nose. The guys were on their knees trying to get control of the bleeding as the blood began to pool up below me. They were trying to play it cool and not let on how bad the damage really was in order to keep me calm. Luckily, my dad was prepared and had a first aid kit in his saddle bags. Granted, it had been in there for years and he wasn’t sure how stocked it was. It was more than Dan and I could say. We hadn’t even thought to pack something as simple and important as a first aid kit on the ride. We managed to find enough gauze to pile on my face hoping it would stop the bleeding or at least slow it down. They helped me to my feet.  I was very light headed and every foot step felt like another sharp blow to the face. The pressure of every little movement I made was felt in the fragile fractured bones of my face.

image7We were still a few miles from camp and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the rough ride out on horseback.  My only choice was to start hiking.  The guys grabbed the horses and we began our slow trek back to camp.  I had so much gauze piled on face, I could only see my feet and the trail directly below me.  We eventually made it to camp and left the horses with my dad. Dan unhooked the horse trailer, got me in the truck and we made our way to the nearest hospital. Three hours after smashing my face, we finally pulled up at the ER.  After a six hour visit in the emergency room, my face was x-rayed and finally stitched up after 8 hours of heavy bleeding.  I was a few drops short of a blood transfusion. I had a concussion, three loose front teeth, compound fractured nose, broken cheek bone and eye socket. Five days later, once the swelling had gone down, I laid there, looking up at my doctor used his thumbs, with as much force as he could, to push my shattered nasal bone back into its proper position. It was the most painful experience of my life but thankfully it wasn’t on the right side of my face anymore. I was devastated to miss that opening weekend, but thankfully I was able to make it out the rest of the season and it was a memorable one. After six months of healing, the bones had finally healed and the pain was gone. My nose and face will never quite be the same but I’m thankful that I healed up as well as I did. Considering how many breaks there were in the left side of my face, the doctor said I’m very lucky that the whole left side didn’t shatter. Taking that hard of blow directly to the face from my 1,200 lb. horse and considering we were miles from civilization, this incident could have been so much worse. God was watching out for me that day.

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This whole experience made me realize how caught up I was on getting to hunting camp and chasing the elk that I never took the time to really think about the things that could go wrong out there and the preparations I should have taken. I knew the terrain well and had two others with me to help get me out of there but not having something in my pack as basic as a first aid kit was an eye opener.  I realized that one can get so excited and distracted by the excitement of big game, that we can lose focus and get sloppy. That is the moment accidents can happen and unless we are prepared, those moments can be disastrous.  Growing up in the saddle and being an experienced rider, I have had my fair share of accidents but never something so severe and never in the backcountry. After spending so many years riding I have become very relaxed in the saddle and maybe a little too relaxed at times. I was guilty of this that night and should have paid more attention, instead I was daydreaming of those big bulls and opening morning which was fast approaching. It’s crazy how fast accidents can happen.  Thank goodness I had my dad and Dan there to take care of me and get me out of the mountains safely. As traumatic as my accident was, I wouldn’t change a thing. I will continue my adventures in the backcountry but from now on I will be more prepared for accidents that could occur.

I will be sure to do the following and I hope all of my fellow hunters and outdoorsman will take these things into consideration.

  • If possible, hunt with at least one other companion or leave a detailed plan of your excursion with a loved so they have a general idea of your location and when to expect your return.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area you are hunting, know the terrain, and weather forecast.
  • Carry a map, a compass, and/or GPS system with extra batteries.
  • Educate yourself on basic first aid and always carry a first aid kit with you.
  • Pack a flash light, fire starter, food, water, or water filtration system, space blanket, knife, flares, or mirror
  • Dress in layers and wear clothes that are weather appropriate and be prepared for a change in the weather.
  • Carry a cell phone in case you have service, or two way radio if you split up from your partner.

Venturing in the great outdoors has provided me with some of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. In nature is where I truly belong but I will always be sure to use caution for it can be unpredictable and things can change in an instant. Tagging the big one or just filling the freezer will do no good if we end up injured, lost or worse.  With the fall hunting seasons beginning, I wish all of my fellow hunters a great season.

May your hunting season be fun, successful, memorable and most importantly safe.

-Lisa Halseth

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Lisa continues to spend every archery and rifle hunting season at their family hunting camp, tucked away in the endless mountains of Montana. When not in the saddle or at hunting camp, you will find her driving her Percheron draft horse team, spending time with her family, exploring the great outdoors, and photographing her adventures along the way.

Venison Thai Lettuce Tacos

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This is my second spring in the great state of Texas and I love watching our garden grow at the Czech Out Ranch. Every day there is something new to report. A new blackberry blossom, a bean stalk, an onion trying to push up from the soil. When it comes to cooking I am inspired by our garden and love to take a walk through it prior to dinner.

My husband and I love Thai food and anything that accompanies a spicy palate is a plus. I was craving Thai lettuce cups one day when I forgot to go to the store for chicken. My husband Adam suggested using venison instead- genius! Since this is South Texas and all, Thai lettuce tacos seemed more fitting a title. Here’s how we made this simple dish.

**If you want to serve with rice I suggest starting your rice based on an hour cooking/prep time commitment. We use a rice cooker so we always start the rice prior to any cooking. In this case we used jasmine rice which classically accompanies Thai food. White rice, brown rice or any sort of starch would work just as good.

 

venison meat

Step one:

Thinly slice roughly two pounds of defrosted venison steak (we wanted leftovers for the following evening). Marinate in a bowl with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Salt and pepper. A little goes a long way and I don’t measure. This is why Adam does all the baking. Any type of venison will work (deer, elk, exotics) but in this case we used black tail deer harvested by Adam in Oregon.

 Step two:

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Slice/chop your veggies and toppings. We used a variety of peppers, onion, cilantro and crushed peanuts. I added a little bit of chive, basil and parsley from the garden.  In addition, the garden peppers were calling my name so I added a few Serrano peppers for an added kick. Choose whichever veggies you enjoy!

 

Step three:

Add a touch of olive oil to a pan and sear the venison steak in batches. We do majority of our indoor cooking in a cast iron skillet. Don’t overcook the venison. A minute or so on each side and the venison will be ready. Transfer to a dish and cover with foil to keep warm while you sear the rest.

DSC_4203Step four:

Sautee onions, peppers and cilantro. You can either do this combined with the venison in step three or afterwards.

Step five:

Prepare lettuce cups. Traditionally in Asian food restaurants lettuce cups are served with iceberg lettuce because they provide a good vessel for all the goodies. I don’t readily buy iceberg lettuce so I used some romaine which worked just as well. In the garden I mostly grow micro-greens which aren’t sturdy enough but certainly would make a good warm salad version of this recipe. To prepare, tear off each romaine leaflet from the stem to be used as your “cup” or “tortilla” to hold the cooked mixture.

Step six:

Put it all together and enjoy.

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There are many different ways you can put this concoction of ingredients together. We first placed a spoonful of jasmine rice on each romaine lettuce taco. Then added the meat/veggie mixture and uncooked toppings. I added extra cilantro as well as chive, basil, parsley and crushed peanuts for crunch.

Nut allergy? Bean sprouts work just as well. Caution: The more ingredients you add the messier the bite!

My first job in college was at a Hawaiian restaurant where sesame seeds were sprinkled on top of every dish. Therefore I have been trained to have toasted sesame seeds on hand. I buy them pre-toasted but you can easily toast them yourself. How to toast sesame seeds.

Singapore-Chili-Sauce-aFor spice Adam and I like to indulge with some hot chili sauce or you can make any Asian inspired vinaigrette. I am obsessed with Korean BBQ sauce. There is room to mix ethnicities for variation so have fun with it!

As hunters it is always fulfilling to know that you played a crucial part in the making of your meal. I also find that when you cook your own wild game it sparks a retelling of the hunt, the animal and the memories made. In a way, cooking your own wild game is a way to honor your harvest.

Happy hunting, gardening and eating!

 

Ingredient List:

Venison steak- 2lbs

Onion- 1

Your favorite peppers- 1-2

Cilantro

Chive, basil, parsley (or whatever added flavor you’d like)

Romaine lettuce

Salt and black pepper

Soy sauce

White wine vinegar

Sesame oil

Optional: Toasted sesame seeds, chili sauce, peanuts, bean sprouts

-Kristin Parma, Evo Media Coordinator/ProStaff

-Adam Parma, ProStaff

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Adam & Kristin Parma are owners of the Czech Out Ranch in Adkins, TX

Dedication, Passion & Understanding: Passing on the outdoor tradition

11164156_10204022900597409_752139943_nOne of the greatest feelings in the world is to give back. To teach someone something that puts a smile on their face. Throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to have a dad who has spent every waking second with me trying to better me not only in the woods but as an all around person.  That is why I am where I am today. With all the knowledge my dad has given me I have been able to give back to many people.

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Ryan and his father

11121269_10204022899957393_536069988_nGrowing up I was given my first bow at age 4. Since then a bow has never left my hand- day in and day out I shoot. It’s part of who I am. Many joke around saying I came out of the womb with one. Through my years with a bow I have been able to meet some of the best coaches around and they spent a lot of time with me.  These coaches took me to tournaments to see how far I could go. I took the opportunity and ran with it. First starting off in paper tournaments and winning them, then stepping it up to 3D competitions. I even won my division.

At age 14 I was able to hunt for the first time. My dad would put up a stand for me and one for him 50 yards away so he could watch me and make sure everything was ok. My first year hunting I shot my first buck. I was on cloud 9. Three years later I asked my dad why he had not shot a deer since I started hunting. He told me he enjoyed sitting in the stand and watching me, teaching me things as I grew up in the woods. From that moment I realized it’s better to give back in the outdoors rather than to keep all the knowledge you have to yourself.

Since then I have been a coach for the Junior Olympic Archery Development league through the West Falls Conservation Society, coaching kids from age 6-18 every Tuesday. At the league we have a wide variety of youth- from kids who have never seen a bow before to kids who are getting invitations from the Junior Olympic Dream team. Every single kid leaves that night with a smile, and that’s what keeps me coming back every Tuesday. Getting kids involved not only in hunting but in shooting is important. Just because you shoot doesn’t mean you have to kill something.  The trick with teaching anyone, in particular children, is to be patient and to remember each kid is different- attention span, drive and discipline. You can’t force a kid to shoot. If he/she doesn’t want to, don’t make them. Let the child choose how much they want to shoot and when they want to shoot. Tuesday nights are one of my favorite nights because it feels great to give back and install the lessons my dad taught in me.

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When it comes to hunting this is where my passion really stands out. Any chance I can to introduce someone into the outdoors and hunting I do. I am prideful that everyone calls to ask if I can take them or a child out and introduce them into the outdoors. I feel I have a way with understanding people and being able to introduce them into what I love doing. I have been lucky over the years to be able to be very successful on hunts for someone’s first time deer, turkey or waterfowl.  One of the main reasons I have been successful is because I spend every second I can to scout. I want to make sure that we at least see something during the hunt. To get others involved in hunting, you have to make the hunt exciting in order to keep their attention span focused. My main goal is to keep them interested in wanting to go back into the outdoors. The reactions are priceless and that is what makes the sleepless nights and the long hours scouting all worth it.

When you get a chance to introduce someone into hunting, fishing or shooting make sure you do it no matter the gender or age. They are going to be the reason these traditions live on.

-Ryan Van Lew, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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