Raising An Outdoors Girl

Raising An Outdoors Girl

By: Morgan Garcia

EvoOutdoors Team Member, Armed Rogue

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Total Archery Challenge: 7 months pregnant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t understand that thought process.

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

You get the idea.

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

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

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

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

By: Lyle Gibbs

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lyle Gibbs-

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

 

Little Tick, Big Problem

Little Tick, Big Problem

By Lisa Halseth, Team EvoOutdoors

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

 9 Tips to Keep Your Hunting Dog ‘On Point’

Sarah Gaffney

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

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Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

By Sarah Fromenthal

EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

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

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

Where to plant?

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

Get into your “zone”!

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

Use some common sense:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Slow Cooker Venison Burritos

Slow Cooker Venison Burritos

Scott Emerick, EvoOutdoors Team Member

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

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

scottWhat you will need:

-1.5 – 2 lb boneless venison round

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

-1 (15 oz) Can corn – (drained)

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

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

-1 Package of your favorite flour tortillas

-1 (8 oz) Package shredded Mexican cheese

Lets get cooking!

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

That is it, time to eat!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready for the challenge?

Click the link below to take the challenge

Shooting for the Shot

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Sporting Clays: How to get started

I shoulder my shotgun and yell “pull”!

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

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

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

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

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

How It Works

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

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

Safety

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

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

Shooting a Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Andrea Haas, Huntress View

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