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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Pheasant Hunting Gear List for Women

A head-to-toe pheasant hunting gear list written by EvoOutdoors ProStaff Team member Andrea Haas.

Prois Reversible Sherpa Fleece Vest and Blaze Orange Cap

For the ladies! All of the gear listed here are my personal favorites for pheasant hunting and would be a good option for most upland hunts.

1) Blaze Orange Hat

  • I prefer to wear a blaze orange ball cap but it’s a good idea to bring along a blaze beanie as well, depending on the wind and the temperature!
  • This Blaze Orange Cap with Waxed Bill from Prois is a great option, available for $26.99

Prois Blaze Orange Hat with Waxed Bill

2) Blaze Orange Vest / Upland Vest

  • The Prois Reversible Sherpa Fleece Vest is one of my hunting staples because I can use it year round and for multiple hunts. One side is blaze orange fleece, perfect for rifle season or upland hunting. The other side is camoflauge, making it great for hunting, deer, elk and other game. It also has scapular pockets designed to hold activated hand warmers! It is available at EvoOutdoors for $170.10

Prois Reversible Sherpa Fleece Vest

  • Another great vest option is the Badlands Upland Vest Pack. It’s lightweight, has multiple pockets perfect for holding shotgun shells and other loose items. It is available at Prois for $179.99

Badlands Upland Vest Pack

3) Long Sleeve Shirt

  • If the weather is warmer I recommend a lightweight top that wicks moisture. My favorite is the Prois Ultra Long Sleeve Shirt available at EvoOutdoors for $50.40. You can pick from Realtree AP, Realtree Max-1 or Black.

Prois Ultra Long Sleeve Shirt

4) Jacket

  • If the weather turns cool, keep the above top on as a layering piece & add a jacket. Last season on the cooler/windier days I paired the above top with the Prois Pro-Edition Jacket and that was perfect. You can find the Prois Pro-Edition Jacket at EvoOutdoors for $215.10

Prois Pro-Edition Jacket

5) Brush Pants

  • The Prois High Plains Brush Pants are a comfortable, yet durable option for the female upland hunter! They have Cordura facings, pleated knees, boot zippers, multiple pockets, and the waist rests at the natural waistline. These are available in Khaki at EvoOutdoors, or at Prois in Olive, $161.10 to $179.99

Prois High Plains Brush Pants

6) Gloves

  • I found on my first pheasant hunt that despite warmer temperatures, the wind can still cut like a knife! For days like this fleece gloves are perfect. The Women’s Ranger Glove by Manzella are fleece with a 4-way stretch fabric for a great fit. You can find these in size S/M or M/L at EvoOutdoors for $22.00

Women’s Ranger Glove by Manzella

7) Socks

  • A good pair of moisture-wicking socks are imperative for a long, active hunt like pheasant hunting. Whether it’s warm or cold you want your feet to stay dry! The Day Hiker Sock by Minus33 is made of merino wool which is known for keeping your feet dry and comfortable in any weather condition. You can get these socks from EvoOutdoors for only $13.00

Day Hiker Sock by Minus33

8) Boots

  • A good pair of waterproof boots are a must for pheasant hunting. My personal favorite for pheasant hunting in the flat, Kansas plains are these SHE Outdoor Avilla 16″ Waterproof Rubber Boots. They are fully lined with 5mm Neoprene and are easy to pull on & off. I like that they are taller, making it a good option for hunting in deep snow. I walked the pheasant fields for miles at a time & had no problem with them rubbing my feet or creating blisters. They are available at Bass Pro Shop for $99.99

SHE Outdoor Avilla Boot

9) Shotgun Case

  • You definitely need a shotgun case to protect your shotgun while transporting it from your home to the field. The Tenzing TZ SS54 Shotgun Case has a soft water-resistant outer shell and a fully surrounding 1″ foam interior padding. You can find this case at EvoOutdoors for $99

SHE Outdoor Avilla Boot

10) Pets

  • Don’t forget about your pet! If you hunt with dogs keep them protected from the elements in the Pointer Dog Vest by Rivers West. It’s made with micro fleece, very insulated and waterproof. One great feature is the top zipper has an inside fleece fly to keep your dog’s hair from getting caught in the zipper! It is available at EvoOutdoors for $49.00

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I hope you find this gear list helpful when planning your next upland hunt!

-Andrea Haas

Be sure to check out Andrea and other women hunters like her on the Huntress View blog.

 

How do you keep cool when making the shot?

Andrea Haas ProStaff EvoOutdoorsOne of the questions that I am often asked by women who are interested in bow hunting for the first time is, “How do you keep your cool when making the shot?” They often say “I just don’t think I would be able to shoot a deer with a bow”, or “It just seems so hard, I don’t think I would be able to pull it off”. While I love encouraging other women to get involved in hunting, I will be honest when I say that yes, bowhunting is very hard. If it was easy everyone would be doing it! While a successful bow hunt is difficult to pull off, it is definitely very attainable with some hard work, determination and practice. Lots and lots of practice!

Thinking back to my very first bow season, I began by shooting my bow every day from about May to opening day in September. When you start shooting your bow pay extra attention to getting down proper form and finding your anchor point. After a while this becomes second nature and you won’t even have to think about it, you just do it every time. I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to target practice. Shooting a few arrows each night is far better than shooting multiple arrows and letting yourself get tired and your form sloppy.

Practing proper form is essential for success

Practing proper form is essential for success

Practice with the equipment you know you will be hunting with. My bow is sighted in using 100 grain broad heads, all the same brand. All of my arrows are the same brand, weight & straightness, and the fletchings are the same on each arrow. I want to know that no matter what arrow I use in my quiver, each one is going to shoot the same way. Bow hunting is a huge challenge and making yourself familiar and comfortable with your weapon is half the battle.

Take into consideration the gear you will be hunting in and practice shooting in it. When you are shooting in your back yard you are probably shooting in jeans and a t-shirt. But when you are hunting you usually have on multiple layers, making it a little more difficult to pull your bow back and find your anchor point. This past season I was full draw on a great buck and had a clothing mishap that forced me to pass on the shot. If I had practiced in that particular clothing item I would have known that it was something I preferred not to bow hunt in and would have filled my deer tag a LOT earlier in the season!

Another pre-season shooting tip is to practice shooting from a tree stand or ground blind, whichever you are going to be hunting out of. If you’ll be hunting from a tree stand practice shooting from one and get used to shooting at an angle. If you’ll be hunting out of a ground blind, practice while sitting down or from your knees. If you are able to, get in the blind and practice shooting out of it. With ground blinds you have a smaller window to shoot out of and it takes some getting used to.

Practicing the above tips should help ease some of your bow hunting jitters and make you more prepared for an actual hunt. When a deer steps out and you are ready to shoot, hopefully all of this will come back to you automatically so you can focus on making a good shot. To me, shot placement and remembering your anchor point when shooting at an animal are THE most important things to focus on. When I shot my first deer with a bow, I had mosquitoes swarming around my head and biting my face as I was preparing to make the shot, but thanks to all my practice I was able to stay focused and make a clean shot.

My friend Allison O’Nan and Field Staff for EvoOutdoors, shared some of her tips with me that help her stay calm when bow hunting:

  • Participating in 3D archery tournaments or league where you are feeling under pressure will help you to work through the jitters when it comes time to shooting game.
  • Visualize making the shot when you are at full draw. Confidence is the key! But don’t get over confident and cause yourself to extend pass your own shooting limits.
  • Practice breathing techniques every time you shoot, even in your own back yard. Breathing through my shots keeps my mind clear and hand steady. As I inhale/exhale I pass over my target three times before I settle in and release my arrow.
  • Chewing gum is a great way to release nervous energy. However, for bow hunting, maybe try a brand such as Gum-O-Flage.

Allison O’Nan | Field Staff for EvoOutdoorsI’ve had a lot of successful hunts, but have found that most of my unsuccessful ones were due to lack of focus. For me, the excitement/nervousness that I feel right before I shoot a deer is always there. It was there on my very first bow hunt, my last hunt and will be on my next. But the above tips have really helped me control my excitement and keep my cool in the heat of the moment when a shot presents itself.

2014 Archery deer harvest

2014 Archery deer harvest

Andrea Haas | ProStaff EvoOutdoors