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.

 

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

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

By: Lyle Gibbs

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lyle Gibbs-

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

 

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.

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.

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

5 Ways To Get Outdoors This Spring

by Andrea Haas

Team member EvoOutdoors/Huntress View

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

  • Geo-caching

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

  • Morel Mushroom Hunting

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

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

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

  • Photography

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

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

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  • Remote Photography

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

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

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

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

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

-Stand up paddle board

-Paddle

-Life jacket or personal flotation device

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

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

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

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

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

 

Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

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Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

By Sarah Fromenthal

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

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

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

Where to plant?

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

Get into your “zone”!

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

Use some common sense:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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