Monday, December 6, 2010

What a season!

So its been another long lapse in time since I sat here typing on my laptop for my blog. Believe me it's not that I haven't wanted to but sometimes you have to try and make hay when you can as the old saying goes. So here I am. Staring at this screen and trying to decide where to begin.

The season has been crazy just like my life has been this past year. Just when you think you have things figured out, another curve ball comes your way. So you just have to roll with it and do the best you can with what you got. For those that have had the chance to be around me you know my saying "I'm doing the best I can with what I got which ain't much but I'm doing it anyway." Funny but true.

I have actually been able to get out this season more than I thought I would. I have spent many days in the deer woods, some in the duck marsh, a few in the goose fields and even was able to get out and smoke a turkey in the spring in my one day of turkey hunting!

I must say that I have definitely learned a lot this year and have had the good fortune of meeting some really great people that have done so much for me. I would like to say thanks to our sponsors PSE, G5, Leupold, Dead Down Wind, Dragonfire ThermoGrip, Mossy Oak, America's Best Bowstrings, LaCrosse, Mike's Magic, Spot Shooter Archery and Joe Segler Wildlife Taxidermy. Without their support and great products the time spent in the field wouldn't be as enjoyable. Knowing that when I got my trophy I had the best taxidermist around to take care of it is incredible. I would also like to say thanks to some of the people that went out of their way to help me this year. My team who have stood by me this year and being there for me to lean on when I needed them. Wendy Williamson who did a ton of behind the scenes work. "Thee Ron Dore" and his family for having me out at Scronnie Acres and the karaoke concerts in the truck. Eric "Sleepy E" and his wife Melissa for having me down to the great state of Indiana and treating me like family. Chris, Casey, Jay and my great friend Mattias for another great hunt and camp that I look forward to every year for many reasons.

So with that being said I wanted to say that I have met some really great kids this years as well. To me that is the best part hanging out and listening to the kids tell their stories. No matter how bad things may be they always put a smile on your face and bring you back to whats fun. So Kile, Jacob, Arron and Kyle thanks for hanging out and sharing your stories and well just reminding me what this is really about.

I was fortunate to hunt some great properties and see some great game this season. I just wish the camera could have gotten them when I could have and vice versa. I still dream about the big 12 point drop tine from Indiana that we couldn't get on camera because he came to the party before we got set up. That's ok I will have that memory for the rest of my life and that is ok with me. Ok you got me, I wish I would have just shot and dropped him like a bad habit! They say it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission right? Who cares that it wouldn't have been on video he would be on my wall! Right Mike?

I have been reminded that I do this because it's fun. Going out and spending the day in the field is a privilege as well as blessing. It's not how big the rack is, how long the beard is or whether it has a band but about how much fun it is and to be able to enjoy it. It's not that your name is mentioned or your in a dvd or video it's about sharing the experience with those in camp or hearing a child tell you their story about the one that they got or the one that got away. It's about shooting some does and being just as excited about them as I am about the big buck. It's all about having fun and if you can't do that then you should probably stop doing it!

The season is still going and there is still a lot of unfinished business to take care of. So remember to just get out and have fun and the rest will fall into place. Nuff Said!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Here They Are!

Well it has been a while since I posted my last blog. This being the busy time of year and being fortunate enough to head out in the field as much as I do, my writing has taken a back seat to chasing game. There has been many twists and turns to the season so far. Some great and some not so great.

You sit back and can sometimes focus on the negative things that go on in your everyday life as well as the hunting or fishing trips that may have not ended the way you would have liked. I think they call this human nature. Well recently I got down but then remembered someone special Brady. This little guy has touched so many people including myself and most of these never had the opportunity to meet him. It didn't take long for me to regain focus and remember not to take anything or anyone for granted in my life.

I had asked in my last blog to put his name on your arrow or shells. You responded like I knew you would and would like to thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to send them in to me. I couldn't post them all but I have included as many as I could. I know there were a few emails sent from some that were doing this but weren't able to take pics due to tech issues. Thank you. So here they are.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Begining of My Brady Hunt A Success

Well as most of you know the past couple days I had the opportunity to go out in the woods for Michigan's early doe season. I was set to hit the woods with my good friend Ron Thursday morning. I couldn't wait. So I made the journey out to Ron's and got settled into my new home. Welcome to "The Trailerhood"! My man has more trailers stored at his property than a Jayco factory.

We sat up and talked for a while about the hunt and it's new meaning. It was something we were both looking forward to. We sat around the campfire and talked about the issues going on in our lives. We joked about our previous hunts and made fun of each other just like hunting friends do. It was getting late and as much as we wanted to talk about past hunts we knew it was time to turn in. We wanted to make sure we were on top of our game come the morning.

I made my way to the trailer stopping by my truck for my Pringles. Hey I gotta eat. I get hungry once in a while. I unpacked my gear in preparation for the mornings hunt. I hung up my gear and tucked it in so to speak so I would be ready to go and prepared come morning. I sat down on my bunk and took a look at that single arrow on the left side of my quiver. I quickly said a prayer and answered emails and text messages til about a little after three. So much for getting my good nights rest. I set the alarm for 4:30 and turned out the light.

Well 4:18 rolled around rather quickly and I woke up and was ready to go. I immediately walked out the door to see the weather. Perfect I thought cool a little breeze but dry. Maybe the weather man was wrong again. I get my hunting clothes on and grab my gear. Ron is driving over to "The Hood" to pick me up. We roll film and talk about this hunt and off we go.
We arrive at the spot and well this would be the one time the weather man would get the forecast right. We waited for a few minutes and the storm rolled in. Thunderstorms were on the breakfast menu and we didn't like it. So back to "The Hood" we went and went to sleep.

Up around ten we hung out in the house had coffee and watched the radar. It looked like we were going to get a break around four. So we ended up watching some TV had lunch and then it seemed like a nap was in store.

The time came and we were off. In the stand we went and settled in. I knocked Brady's arrow in hopes to make a shot. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a little pressure. We had rain off and on the whole time we were out there. Then we heard a branch break and out popped a small doe. We watched her for about fifteen minutes waiting for the big one to come out. We knew she was there but couldn't see her. Then she stuck her neck out and looked right up at us. She was wise which is why she was one of the biggest I have ever seen. She new the game and made a quick spin to go back the way she came. We watched the little one for another five minutes before she left too.

The morning of day two came and went with not a single deer seen. Unfortunately it was time to head home. I packed up and down the road I went. It was a long ride home and I didn't feel good right away. I so badly wanted to put that Brady arrow to use and didn't get to this time. I didn't like that feeling at all. As the trip went on I started thinking about what has transpired over the past week. The fact that many people were made aware of Brady and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, all because of a simple request by my friend Eric. To know I may have helped him get the word out changed the way I felt. I am glad and honored he asked me that simple little favor.

There have been many pictures coming in of arrows with the name Brady on the vanes or fletchings. I want to thank all who have done so and encourage the ones who haven't to do so. For those who are viewing this who don't archery hunt or hunt at all post the yellow ribbon pic on facebook or even wear one on your shirt. Say a prayer for not only Brady's family but the other families who are experiencing the same tragedy. Prayer is a powerful thing. I have witnessed that what may seem like a small thing to you at first can mean so much more to someone else.

So this was only the beginning of my hunt with Brady. I learned a lot and was reminded that I need to not take for granted the opportunities that I have. Even when I think I have problems, no matter how bad they are, there is always somebody that has it worse. We may not have gotten our doe but we learned something and we still have many days ahead to put it to good use.
Please check out and learn more about this deadly disease. Thank you and God bless.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Focus Has Changed

Well as I sit here tapping these keys on this laptop, I am thinking about this early doe season and my focus has changed. It's funny how you can be going through your normal routines or rituals if you will and have something happen that will totally change the way you view your upcoming hunt. Let me explain.

You see I have this ritual before the season starts to name my shells for duck hunting, slugs for deer hunting and of course my arrows for archery season. So as I was going through and naming my arrows I was daydreaming about the early doe season starting in a couple days. Visions of a well placed shot and good footage for the show made me smile. As you know I like to share what I am doing and decided to take pics of my newly named arrows and posted them on a networking site. Then my hunt changed.

Soon after I got a message from a friend of mine in Indiana. He asked me if I would add the name Brady to one of my arrows. I said absolutely, and did so and posted a pic of the arrow. It was then when he told about the persons name who will be gracing my first arrow of the year.

He replied with a story about friends of his who lost their four year old boy to cancer. He told me that it would mean a lot to him as well as the family. I was flattered that I was asked to do this as well as honored. I stared at that arrow for a bit and it had a new look to it. It's purpose is now more and the significance of it is greater.

I could not imagine having to go through this as a parent let alone a child dealing with this wicked illness that does not discriminate against anyone. I selfishly thought about my son who is only three. I cried when he went home Sunday and it would be only two days before I seen him again. I couldn't even imagine the pain and sadness this family went through in dealing with this. My thoughts and prayers immediately went out to this family.

I asked my friends wife for a picture of Brady if it was ok with his family. A few minutes later I received it and I don't know if I can really put into words the way I was overcome with emotion. I guess to make it easy I will say I was overwhelmed. It was a whole new ballgame after I seen this picture.
Well I can safely say that this hunt has taken on a whole new meaning for me. My focus is that much greater and I can't wait to call and tell of the success Brady and I have. There will no doubt be some extra guidance when that arrow leaves the string. I will be honored to have had him along with me. So with Superman riding shotgun with me there is no doubt our hunt will be successful.

I am asking all who read this to please in honor of Brady put his name on your first arrow you will use this season. Send me the pics and I will post them for all to see. Please let this little Superman guide your first arrow this season. Stay tuned to see how this hunt turns out. I am sure it will be a great one.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Success Is What You Choose It To Be

As I was trying to decide on what to write for this blog, it hit me. It is time to share what I have considered my secret to my hunting success. This has worked for me since I discovered it. I learned it quite a few years ago and glad that I did.

I am a reading fanatic. Let me rephrase that. I am an outdoor reading fanatic. I have hunting and fishing magazines that cover the past 18 years that take up quite a bit of room. I also have a pretty good selection of hunting and fishing books that I have collected over the years. I will read these magazines and books whenever an opportunity arises. This is actually how I have gained a lot of the knowledge I use on all my hunting or fishing trips. I am a self taught hunter. I can't deny however, the many writers that have given me the knowledge to become a better hunter.

I am a competitor at heart. You get that when you compete in sports most of your life. I have the strong burning desire to be the best at anything I do. Hunting is no different. When I hunt, I pride myself on making sure that I set up in the right spot. The X if you will. Making sure that I give myself the best opportunity to take the animal I am hunting. I believe whole heartedly that if I do the proper scouting and home work and get to the X, I will be successful in my hunt.

Along with scouting I make sure that I become one with my weapon of choice. Whether it be a bow, rifle, slug gun, shotgun or muzzleloader. I practice throughout the year not just a few weeks before the season. This gives me confidence, and that my friends is the secret to my success. Confidence. Pretty simple huh?

You see when I started hunting years ago I spent a lot of time in the deer woods. I hunted almost as much as I do now but just couldn't seem to close the deal. I would get close and then it just seemed as though I would always find a way to question the shot, my ability etc. I became frustrated and down right furious. I mean I see the guys on t.v. do it on a daily basis with no problem. Why can't I?

Then one day I bought Peter Fiduccia's book "Whitetail Strategies". That is when I discovered what has been my secret to my hunting success. I read about his C+PT X C=CS Theory. Concentration+Positive Thinking X Confidence = Consistent Success. He explains that "you must believe in yourself as a deer hunter to be most effective when hunting whitetails." So with that I took the pact on the following page and it has helped me become successful in not only deer hunting but hunting in general. I would like to share with you this pact from his "Whitetail Strategies" book:

I am a good deer hunter.

I am confident that I make sound decisions about the hunting strategies I use.

I know my quarry's strengths and weaknesses.

From this moment on, when I think about deer hunting I will do so with confidence and a positive attitude.

When I am in the field, I will totally concentrate on the hunt. I promise myself that I will not let any other matters interfere with my thoughts when I am deer hunting.


I will trust my judgement about the location and tactics I have chosen to use.

Most importantly, from this day on, I will remind myself that I am as good a deer hunter as anyone else -- and will hunt that way.

Well there you have it, the secret to my hunting successes. I have this printed and have one in my gun safe and my gun cases in case I start to lose focus on a trip. I can pull it out, read it and use it like a pep talk from one of my old coaches. It has helped me and maybe it can help you. This can be used for not only hunting but fishing as well. I highly recommend this book it provides a lot of great info that you can use. I plan on using this mindset once again in a few days for Michigan's early doe season. Try this and I know it will work for you too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early Goose Day One

Well it has been a while since I was out hunting. Even though it seems like an eternity, it really has only been about 3 months. Funny how when it's something that you love a day seems too long let alone 3 months! The season was finally here and well it was time to get after it.

Opening morning came and went without me going to the field. I woke up and spent time with my son Drake before I was off to class. It was definitely a different type of opening day. I sat there listening to whatever the professor was saying, which triggered me to start day dreaming of geese locked up and committed. Class couldn't get over soon enough!

I managed to be able to keep Drake one more night and decided I was going to take him on his first ever goose hunt! I got home and told him the good news and he was more excited I think than me. High fives and off to his room to get into his camo. Once that was taken care of he was on his way to get the blind bag. Funny how for not ever doing this before he sure knew what we needed! Mike arrived and we threw the dekes in the truck and off we went.

Well we knew the deck was stacked against us due to incoming weather but we gave it the old college try. We met up with my buddy and continued on to our destination. We weren't able to drive onto this field so we all looked like a bunch of mules loaded with gear heading out into the field. We brushed in our blinds and set the deke's up and were ready to go.

Now I have to tell you and be honest that hunting with a three year old can be a little bit trying. Especially on the very first time out of the year. Reality is he wanted us "to shoot them geese" so bad he couldn't stay still no matter how hard I tried to get him to or no matter what I bribed him with! He was a trooper though. He made it through the first part of the rain before him and I went back to the truck.

We did however see some geese and had plenty of ducks in our faces. He loved that. Even though we wouldn't shoot any geese this hunt, he was still fired up on the way home and said "daddy that was my best hunt ever, now can we go shoot the deer?"

This opening day was definitely one to remember for many reasons. There were many firsts. It was the first time in ages I wasn't out in the morning. I am learning to juggle being a full time student, a single daddy and taking care of my hunting and fishing obligations. A lot more planning is going into this season for sure. The biggest first though was being able to take my son out hunting for his first goose hunt. It really doesn't matter that we never fired our gun. We were able to be out and spend time together and have fun even if it was trying at times.

All in all it was a blast and I can't wait to get Drake out in the field again. By far my most productive hunt to date and one I will remember forever. Someday we will be able to look back at this and laugh and he will realize just how much his daddy loves him and how proud he was to be able to be able to spend that opening day in the field with him. This is what it is all about and I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.
Nuff Said!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fall Is Upon Us

Well it has been one heck of a year so far. It has also been three months since I have been able to get out and hunt anything. There were a couple fishing trips that came and went but I have still been dreaming about hunting.

It has been hot and humid for so long that hunting season seemed so far away. Then one night while sitting outside and watching the stars in the sky that it hit me. That cool air slowly wrapped itself around me and let me know that it is almost that magical time of year. The air just had that different cool feel to it. You know the feeling.

Like a buck going into rut or birds being triggered to start the migration I started to think about the seasons that were about to commence. So the first thing that hit me is the Michigan early goose season. Once again I will be hitting some dark golden wheat fields and some sweet corn silage fields in hopes of downing some Canada geese. (No spelling error here kids that's how it's said even when in it's plural form) It's always fun to get out with the fella's and have some good laughs. From the rusty shooting to the jokes and pranks that get pulled on each other. There is nothing better than kicking the hunting season off sitting in my layout blind with a nice cup of coffee and watching the sun rise.

The reality is that this early season is a total crap shoot. You will see geese hit a field one day and go back the next and it looks like Cris Angel was there and made them all disappear into the crisp air. They are tough to scout because they don't really have any set patterns so you can only make your best guess and go with it.

So hear I am, less than a week away and the phone tag going on with the guys about what they are seeing in the fields is making the anticipation great. Visions of geese working to the calls and locking up fully committed with landing gear out against the morning sky is getting my blood flowing again. The sound of widow makers going off with nicely placed patterns hitting their mark and giving the dinner invitations to these unsuspecting geese. I am so excited I started watching last years footage of early goose season on Beyond The Wild Episode 4. I just hope we can omit the DNR and Police issues we had last year!

The first season is here!

Nuff Said

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Back In The Stream

With all that has been going on lately, I haven't been able to get out on the stream like I would have liked to. It seems like whenever I would plan to go the weather wouldn't cooperate or something would come up. It was starting to really frustrate me and put me in a fowl mood and no I don't mean waterfowl either.

Well thank God I have surrounded myself with some great people. Sometimes you can start to loose focus and they come in and help you regain that focus. After a few talks this week I realized that I was doing just that and needed to get back to what it is I do. So after a few conversations I decided that I needed to hit the stream and cleanse my mind so to speak. People ask me why I love to trout fish. After today I realized the true reason I do. Being in a stream and enjoying nature, the fight of a feisty trout but my main reason is that it always calms me and allows me to think clearly and focus on what is important to me.

So as I said off to my favorite trout stream. I threw my gear in the truck and headed down the highway with my man Johnny Cash singin' to me all the way there. I was a little worried with it being the holiday weekend and with it bringing one of the biggest aluminum hatches of the season. Well as fate would have it the big guy upstairs cleared the stream for me so I could have it by myself.

The stream was a little different than normal. A few logs were in places that they weren't in the last time I was there. The rains had changed the stream a bit but it was still the same or so I thought. My third cast I thought that I hit a small branch but as I reeled it in there was a small rainbow on the end of my line. All of maybe four inches of rainbow! So as I let him go I kept hearing a ringing in my ear, then I realized it was more of a buzzing sound. You guessed it mosquito's. A dozen or so thought it was dinner time and I was the buffet. So I lathered up in some of the finest DEET cologne I had and made my way upstream.

I started noticing that the fish were not in their usual hideouts. They must have moved and I didn't get the change of address notice. So I began to work the stream more than normal to figure out where they were and then my rod bent over and I heard a "zing" as my line started to peel off my reel. It is so much fun fishing for trout with an ultra light and 2 pound test. I fought the fish and managed to get a pic of it underwater as I brought it in. Another bow! I gotta tell you that they put up one heck of a fight and get my blood flowing as much as any hunt does.

I released the fish and continued on my way watching the wildlife around me. After a few more fish, all of them rainbows i decided that I would just sit and reflect on life. Man I tell ya there is nothing better than listening to the water gurgling and the wildlife carrying on their conversations while you reflect and collect your thoughts. Well it's time to write that next chapter of my life, one that I am really excited about and looking forward to. Well what can I say other than it was time to continue on my journey.

I moved on and finally caught my first and only brown of this trip. He was a little ornery and it took me a bit to get him in my hand to remove the hook and send him on his way. The one thing that was becoming clear was that my brownie stream has turned into a bow stream and done so in about a months time. Either way it was still a productive night. I ended up catching seven trout, six bows and one brown in about a three hour period.

I originally planned on night fishing but the skeeters were thick and my Thermacell decided that it doesn't want to light anymore. So I got back to my truck thanked God for letting me enjoy the experience one more time and made my drive home. The drive home felt so much better than the drive up and that weight on my shoulders wasn't there anymore. The best part was my therapy session was free! You can't beat it. I can't stress enough, that if you get an opportunity to get on a stream and do some trout fishing do so. You will be glad you did.

Nuff Said.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A New Tool For Your Tool Box

It has been a weird summer for me this year. I have had so much non outdoors going on that I haven't been able to get out into the field as I would like. So one day I found myself cleaning up around the house and started picking up some of the hunting stuff that I had laying around when I came across one of my favorite tools while hunting, the Leupold RX 1000 TBR rangefinder.

I started thinking about the last time I had it out in the field which was when Mike and I were hunting devil dogs. This little piece of equipment is one that I will always make sure is with me in the field. Let's just say that yours truly has a hard time judging range while hunting and this right here has leveled the playing field.

A quick rundown of what this thing offers, True Ballistic Range for rifles and bows, bright OLED Display, Armoured Aluminum Housing, Fully Multicoated lenses and a cordura holder. This is definitely one rugged rangefinder. I beat this thing to death and it has performed unbelievably.

My favorite part is the True Ballistic Range for gun and bow. It shows you the true distance and the distance you should be shooting for taking in to consideration your elevation to your target. This comes in handy when your hunting and want to make the most ethical shot you can. You will know exactly what distance to aim for. No more guessing. This can be set up for bow or gun allowing you to get specifics for each so that you will be as accurate as you possibly can.

It has a bright OLED display that increases light transmission and display contrast. Roughly about 3x higher than LCD models. You can even choose from three different intensity settings to match lighting conditions. It has three selectable reticles the Plus Point, Duplex or a combination of both. With it's 2 button design it makes it very easy to use. Even for me!

Bottom line is this thing is highly reliable when it come down to judging the distance between you and your quarry. If you have problems judging distances or are even looking for an extra advantage this is something to put on your must have list. Simple easy to use and gets the job done. All this backed by a great company with unmatched customer service. I highly recommend if you are in the market for a rangefinder you check this one out.

Here are the specifics:
Magnification: 6x
Field of View (ft. @ 100 yards): 31.0
Field of View (m @ 100 meters): 10.5
Angular Field of View: 6.0
Weight: 7.8 oz
Objective Aperture (mm): 22.0
Twilight Factor: 11.5
Exit Pupil (mm): 3.6
Eye Relief (mm): 14.0
Dimensions: (LxHxW): 3.8"x2.8"x1.3"

So there you go. Just another tool for your hunting tool box and it will help make you a more accurate shooter.

Nuff Said.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

So Give Me The Free Stuff!

Ok well let me start this by saying I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. I also pray you thanked the men and women who defend or have defended our country. With that said I wanna give a big THANK YOU to our service men and women who defend our country and allow me the freedoms I so enjoy.

This isn't going to be one of my normal blogs. This may actually offend some people and they will know who they are when they read this. So with that being said "Give me the free stuff."

While I was able to kick back and relax a bit this weekend I started to reflect on many different things. One of them is how many times people ask for "free" stuff. It never ceases to amaze me that people I know, hardly know, do not know and just met always love to ask for the "free stuff." I always laugh on the inside because it kills me that people think products are actually "free".

Let me give a couple recent examples. The first one is when I was asked on a website if I could "hook up" someone with a "free" site for this guys bow. Really? I don't even know you or ever met you. Or how about when you get asked about being on a pro staff. When you ask why someone wants to get on or be a part of a pro staff nine out of ten times you get "man I wanna get all that free stuff." I had a really good friend ask me for some "free" stuff and I finally asked if he could give me the equivalent in the form of cash from his paycheck. He looked at me and had a blank stare. Reality set in that because it is free to him doesn't mean that I didn't work for it.

Let me just say that there are many perks to being on a pro staff. I will not deny that at all. Yes the perks are nice. I will not deny that as well. The reality is by the time you figure out what you get and what you spend to do the work to fulfill your contract the "free" stuff isn't really so free. There is a lot of work that goes into it.

I was asked on a trip this past winter what I get out of being on a pro staff. Wow, I couldn't believe it. Finally an open invitation to say exactly how I feel. So this is what I get and how I feel about being on a pro staff.

First and foremost it is because I have been given an opportunity to be a part of an organization that I believe in. Then it is because I believe in the product they produce. I like to interact with people and hear their stories when doing an event. This is the best part because you get to listen and see the faces of the individuals as they tell you about a hunt, an animal they took, a trip they had or a fish they caught. Just being able to help get others involved in the outdoors that may have never experienced it in their life. That is what it means to me.

So as far as the "free" stuff, well I don't think when you add up the time on the road, gas, benefit tickets, donations at benefits, days spent working events etc. it really is "free". At the end of the year if I were to sit down and figure out expenses versus the "free" stuff, I bet it would actually cost me money. The reality is, that is perfectly fine with me because once you get someone involved in the outdoors or see a child's face light up when he or she catches the first fish or takes their first animal that is what makes it all worth it. That right there is what its all about my friends.

We should all know by now that nothing in life is free.

Nuff Said.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Taxidermy Is Art

Well last week I was very fortunate to take a nice turkey that was destined to become a star. He definitely wanted to come for dinner and hang out afterwards. I can't get that hunt out of my mind. It was just one of those hunts I guess. Memorable in every way. Which brings me to another passion of mine. Taxidermy.

You see taxidermy to me is an art. One that there is no way I have the patience for nor do I have the time for. An artwork that I can appreciate. The taxidermist is an artist and takes your animal, brings it back to life just the way you remember it. I look at my mounts as artwork just like the people that collect pictures in frames with paint everywhere that to me makes no sense. I like my mounts to be unique and not just a fish on a wall, a typical duck mount and deer mount etc.

I remember my first mount a drake mallard and I was so excited to get it back. The problem was that when I got it back it was not what I imagined it would be. I was rather disappointed to say the least. That's when I decided to try and look for a real good taxidermist. It has been some time and a few mounts later but man did I fall into a great one.

His name is Joe Segler. I was introduced to Joe by Wendy a mutual friend who told me I just had to meet him and check out his work. It would be about a two hour drive but I was reassured he was the real deal. I was told how awesome his duck mounts were and that I would go nuts. So on the road I went. It's tough when you take somebodies word but you just never know.

I will never forget the first time I walked in his shop. There were duck mounts everywhere. Not just your hang on the wall average mounts but the kind that makes you drool. He had all kinds from puddle ducks, divers, sea ducks, deer, turkeys, fish and the one that told me I was dealing with a Van Gogh of taxidermy, a recreated Labrador duck. Oh yeah the one that was last seen in Elmira New York December 12, 1878 and last shot in 1875 in Long Island. That's right he recreated this duck out of seven different species of ducks!

Man I felt a bit intimidated by this guy. He was an avid duck hunter who travels all over to collect ducks in perfect plumage to mount. Truth be known he is an avid outdoors man who hunts and fishes. I hung out for a while when he offered to go to lunch and I really didn't wanna go as hard as that is to believe as I like to eat as much as I do hunt and fish. It was great we talked business and I picked his brain some more. An amazing guy who knows his craft well. The only thing I could come up with bad was that he ate salad! No salad for me since that's what my dinner eats!

Up North Journal decided he was a perfect choice to be our official taxidermist. So almost a week and a half later I was fortunate to take a gorgeous turkey in a hunt that I will remember forever. (If you didn't read my last blog do so because it's worth the read) I called Joe immediately after I shot it and found out when I could get it to him. Sunday was the day and man I watched in awe at how meticulous and surprisingly quick he was at getting the bird skinned. We sat down and looked over the video footage of the hunt and I wanted him to look the way he was standing and acting when I gave him a serious headache. We looked at a picture and now it's time for him to do his magic.

This guy has gotten awards in the World Taxidermy Championships in the Waterfowl Masters Division and many more. He judges taxidermy and is an all around great guy who knows his craft. If you have a trophy of a lifetime do not let someone ruin your animal. Make sure you let a experienced knowledgeable taxidermist take care of it for you so your not disappointed. If you don't have one give Joe a call. He can help you get the animal to him, whether you live in Alaska, Central America or Maine. He has clients all over the United States as well as some outside the country. You won't be disappointed.
I will be giving updates on the process of this mount in further blogs so stay tuned to see how it turns out. Check back as I just realized I don't know what happened to the pic of the Labrador duck recreation. Also watch the future episodes of Beyond the Wild for some video updates as well. Joe can be reached at:

Joe Segler Taxidermy
734-487-6767 Shop Phone
734-523-6767 Cell Phone

Nuff Said!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Turkey Hunt Gone Wrong?

So you ever have an idea or plan about a hunt that just never seems to go as you planned? Well let's just say I thought that the plan I had was fool proof. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as I planned. So with that said let's get down to business.

I had a tag that was good for private land only for the month of May. It is the last hunt and usually pretty tough. I choose this just because of the amount of time I have to try and get the job done. Well I was looking forward to hunting with a "friend" but for some reason just before season came I was told we wouldn't be hunting at the "honey hole". So time to come up with my own plan. I knew there was a reason I don't like to have to rely on someone else.

Well what ya gonna do? Play the hand you are dealt is what I have heard recently. So that is what I did. I actually ended up talking to a great friend of mine and he invited me out to his place to hunt turkalito's. (another Chicoism meaning turkey) I jumped at the gracious offer and checked my schedule and knew that I only had one weekend where I would be able to do it. Plans were made and the excitement was building as the weekend approached.

Since I had gone back to school to finish my degree I was busy trying to get all the work done in advance to make sure I could just concentrate on my hunt. Things were going well right up until Thursday. That's when my sister decided she was having her baby. That meant my mom was on her way up from Tennessee and my schedule was about to change. So much for planning!

Thursday night came and with it came the invitation to have breakfast with my mom for the following morning. Well that meant I wouldn't be hunting in the AM as planned. No worries though as I don't get to see my mom much anymore. We had breakfast and I was thinking about the turkalito's for most of it. It didn't help that I received two text messages from Ron telling me about the turkey's strutting in front of where I was supposed to be set up! We went to my sister's to wait for her to come home with the baby, and we waited and waited and waited. Finally a phone call that said she wouldn't be home for a while and there was my opportunity to get out to hunt.

Off I go driving like a mad man back to the town where I live. I am making phone calls to try and get this set up. I called my good friend Ron to let him know I would be there in a while. Then talked to Art to let him know I was on my way and make sure he had all the camera gear ready to go. I make it home grab my vest do a quick run through of inventory and realize I didn't have my striker. Grab my gun and go to change choke tubes and well, it wont come out and I can't find the wrench to assist me in this. I grab my backup gun remove the choke tube out of it and install my turkey tube and on my way to the store. I ended up buying a new glass call since it was just easier and off I go.

I make it to Art's house and after listening to him give the business about how this hunt isn't going as planned, we were on our way. We started laughing about our big day turkey hunting and hitting the road at 1:30 PM. Who in their right mind starts turkey hunting in the mid afternoon with wind gusts of over 20 mph? We do I guess. I just went in with the mindset that it was the first time we were gonna see the property and it would be more or less a scouting trip for the next mornings hunt.

We arrived at our destination and after talking a bit we decided to hit the field where we were told the tom's had been strutting earlier. Off we went gear in tow out to the spot. We start setting up and Art goes to set up the pop up blind and well you guessed it another hurdle we needed to cross. The wind caught the blind as he was opening it and snapped a fiberglass rod! Oh yeah fun times. Well after a little redneck ingenuity we got it rigged up to work for a little bit at least.

Then came the next hurdle. The ground was really soft, the stakes were pulling out and the blind was blowing away. Well it just so happened there was a tree stump where we wanted to be so since the blind had no floor we decided to put the stump on the inside to help stop the blind as well as took the extra turkey stakes and drive them as far into the ground to hold it. That obstacle was out of our way.

I go out and set up the decoys and they are blowing all over. I finally get them in the ground far enough and at least the stakes aren't falling down. Back to the blind I go. I start handing Art the camera gear and bags. This is where another slight problem occurred. I forgot my stool! I was however thankful that I had my Quaker Boy Vestablind and the stump that was sitting inside the blind that I could lean against.

Ok so I grab my Dead Down Wind color wheel and start to apply my war paint and start laughing because nothing about this hunt is going right. Good times. We have been out here about 20 minutes at this point. Well I realize the zipper is open and I go to zip it up and well yeah you guessed it. It was broke! We take the screens from the windows and use them to cover up this huge opening all the way down the blind. Then I look out at the decoys and see the jake decoy staring straight up at the sky. No worries as Art says it just looks like he's trying to impress the hen by showing off his little beard. Oh, ok it works for me.

Well I break out the new call and off I go. We hear a couple behind us and start laughing because we say that they are just laughing and saying thanks for the comedy relief. I wait for five minutes and hear the clucks again. I go ahead and call. Then we hear some geese coming from behind and to our right that decide they want to tease me as they are cupped and float into our field out front and to our left at 50 yards. Grrrr I wish it was September 1st. I grab my call and am told to let it go and give it a bit. I looked at Art and explained that I don't think it much matters right now and start to cluck and purr. I watched the geese keep looking to my right but don't pay attention.

All of the sudden Art in a very loud voice says there he is at 12 o'clock!!!! I begin to scan the sky for more geese when he smacks me and says to your right! His twelve o'clock was my three o'clock which I later explained to him. I look to my right and I see a big brown thing with a bright red head. Oh what is wrong with this picture? Something is actually going right? Could this really be happening?

At the corner of the field where we were told by Ron that they come out of stood this turkey in full strut. The corner was 30 yards away from us. The only problem is he read the script but unfortunately wanted to do it in fast forward. He decided that he was tired of his girlfriend being with the other guy and was a bout to let him know about it. He did something that I have never witnessed while turkey hunting. He ran in full strut in a matter of ten seconds to the decoys. He was only slowed down a bit by a big gust of wind that looked like it was gonna blow him over. Well he made it to his girlfriend and started telling her how upset he was when all of a sudden he got a head ache! That's right Art called the shot and I did what he asked. The "Chico Layin' The Smack Down Tour 2010" had continued and it was lights out.

He was about 15 feet from the blind and I was in shock. Art and I laughed high fived and couldn't believe that we were only hunting for 20 minutes! It was the most incredible turkey hunt I have ever been a part of. After all the obstacles and mishaps this was just meant to be. We were happy and I was thankful to be blessed with the opportunity to be able to hunt Ron's property. It all worked out just not as originally planned.

The worst part was I almost didn't go out. I had actually questioned myself about not going and spending more time on homework and other things. I was so close to giving up my spring turkey hunt because of this. Fortunately for me, there was footage needed and that almost forced me to go out. I am thankful for that because there was a moment when it was all said and done, that I truly realized that this is my passion and I will always do this as long as the good Lord allows me to. There is nothing better than a great hunt with great friends and whether or not I got the bird I would of still loved to have told the story about the hunt that went all wrong.

Nuff Said!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

MI Trout Opener

Well I am sitting here thinking back on what has transpired over the last week. Being able to look back it doesn't seem as fast paced as it was when it was happening. Go figure. So with that being said let me get to it.

One of my favorite trips of the year is the Michigan trout opener. It is like a deer camp but only in the spring. You meet up with guys you don't normally get to see throughout the year. The food is always something to write home about. Stories always seem to be more funny when told up at camp than anywhere else.

It was Thursday and we were set to leave at ten bells. Dave had showed up at 7:30 and decided he wanted to take a nap since he worked all night. (You will see a pattern here) I decided to finally pack my clothes since it was only a couple hours until our departure. This is not really a tough task or a long one since the gear is always ready to go. Just a matter of getting it into the truck. Gear is at the truck and waiting on Art to show.

Art shows up and sleeping beauty awakes to a nice Sharpie mustache. Just my way of saying thank you for falling asleep on my couch and welcome to our weekend of fun. We load the gear up and and realize that Dave may end up having to ride on top of all the gear in a rocking chair ala the Beverly Hillbillies. We were able to clear out a cubby hole for him and off we went.

There is nothing better than getting out of town and knowing that you are gonna be doing your thing with no worries. The ride up was hilarious as usual. Nothing but stories joking and a very pathetic rendition of Country Road by Art and myself. Let's hope that it doesn't make it to any of the footage shown from the week.

We arrive and unload the gear into the cabin. Let me tell you it is as rustic as rustic can be. No running water, electricity and is at the end of a two track out in the middle of nowhere a few hundred yards off the Big Mannistee river. There is no signal for your cell phones so there really is no interruption except maybe a bear that may get hungry and wants to see if we have anything as far as left overs. Now its time to turn on some Bocephus and Johnny Cash and sit back and relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Well Cy showed up a little while later as well as my brother in law. Like I said before it is great to see these guys. The joking and stories immediately get going and the good times start. As everyone settles in we decide that we should go into the local town and grab a bite to eat. It was good to unwind and just relax without the cameras around. Don't need anymore blooper shots. We discussed our plan of attack and decided to do some scouting when we woke up before the rest of the crew showed up.

Well we woke up and once again Dave looked like he got into a fight with a Sharpie. Man when he sleeps he sleeps hard! Off to scout and put in the last bit of work before the fun begins. We split into to groups to check out more streams. With that behind us we made our way back to camp to wait for the other guys to show up. More hanging and telling stories. Then the rest of the crew showed up and game on let the festivities begin.

Can't fish til midnight so what are we to do until then? Grab the PSE's and start letting the arrows fly! I just wish Mike wouldn't have been so cheap and picked up the Sasquatch target at the sporting goods store on his way up. Who cares it was almost $700. Help some brothers out and spread the wealth. It was great to shoot the new rigs and try and get them dialed in. Man I can't wait til bow season, because I am about to hand out some dinner invitations. If that wasn't enough fun we decided since we always have the guns with us we might as well shoot some clays in preparation for duck, goose and whatever else flies through the skies that we can shoot. So we burned through a ton of shells and ridiculed whoever missed and called it good because it was time to fill the gas tank with food. Big boys gotta eat.

Once again Cy outdid himself with the dinner. Over 20 lbs. of ham in this boiled dinner! Then used it for tomorrows lunch to make bean soup. I will put this guy up against any camp cooks in the world. He is definitely the bomb dot com. With the gas tanks full it was time to load the gear and head out to our night spot.

Midnight came and lines went in the water and the anticipation began. Other than more talking and stories not much really happened. Well Dave fell asleep in his chair after about a half hour fishing. I had to wake him up to tell him he had a fish on. then it was off to the truck for him so he could continue to sleep. (Remember the pattern thing I mentioned earlier?) That was pretty much it. Very cold and the fish weren't biting and so it was back to camp at 3:00 AM.

5:30 came quick and we were off to another stream. One of the coolest things for myself and Art was the fact that it was Mike and Mikey's first time doing this. I love to get people out and experience new things. My goal for the trip was to get them their first trout. We caught some fish except the two guys that we wanted to have catch them. Not a bad morning but the rain had put a damper on things. Off to the cabin for brunch.

24 eggs, 5 lbs. of taters, 2 loaves of bread and a whole ton of bacon and all eight guys in camp were happy. Then Dave needed to go to sleep. (pattern?) We went out in the evening to the "Drop Zone" and i enjoyed running camera when the boys made their way down the steep hill. Especially catching Art loosing his footing and sliding quite a ways down. (This can be seen in the latest episode of Beyond the Wild)

We had a great time and enjoyed the pristine scenery. I worked with Mike for about two hours and finally we got his first brownie! That made my weekend a big success. To me that was more important than getting all the video footage, pics and personally catching all the fish I caught. We all had a great time that evening and caught quite a few fish. The thing I will remember most though is the time spent on the stream with these guys and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Well unfortunately that was the last time for the weekend we were able to be in the stream fishing due to bad weather. We ended up having breakfast with the crew and then made our way home. Art mentioned that everyone we saw driving didn't look so happy. Of course not, they were heading back home and already thinking about the stress of everyday normal life. For me I started thinking about the next trip five days later.

Nuff Said.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Game Has Changed!

Well it has been a couple weeks and I have finally settled down a bit. The Easter weekend was a great time spent with my son Drake, sister Jaime, Barb and Bill. We had the normal Easter dinner and Drake go to eat him some candy. It was great and I really enjoyed it almost as much as a cup of coffee from Starbucks.

Then came the day when the game changed. I had finally received all my goodies to set up my new PSE Super Short. This bow was originally shot at this years ATA and after the first shot I knew it was going to be in my hand very soon. It is 27" axle to axle, with a 6-3/4" brace height with an IBO speed of 348 fps. The bow weighs in at 3.6 lbs. Mossy Oak Treestand is the pattern that graces this beauty. It is set at 72 lb draw weight and 28" draw length.
The next piece of hardware to go on it was the G5 XR sight. This weighs in at only 6 ounces. I decided on the .019" Smart-Pins. It has 3x micro-adjustments, third axis tuning, harmonic dampner and is corrosion resistant. The sight offers 3 fixed pins and one floating pin.

Next up was the rest. The rest is from Mid Atlantic Archery and is the TriVan Multi-Adjust Pro. I also saw this product down at ATA and was impressed at how this thing worked. I spent some time with the president of the company who demonstrated and showed how it worked. You get the best of both worlds with this thing. It's like a capture rest and a drop away rest had a child and this is what happened! It has 3 solid all metal launcher arms with Vanishing Arm Technology. It comes with independent windage and elevation adjustments, Vibra-Shield Damping Technology, no friction resistance and you can gain up to 12 fps more. The main thing is that it works flawlessly with fast bows.
On to the stabilizer part of the rig. Dragonfire ThermoGrip is what is on the the rig. It is a stabilizer that tested out against the industries best and performed in the top. This stabilizer is unique in that it also has a heated grip incorporated with two heat settings. I will never be caught with my bow on the hook again due to cold hands. It is truly an innovative product that is well worth looking at.

America's Best Bowstrings is what is helping launch the lasers from this rig. This company has produced a string with some of the tightest tolerances in the industry, in fact they guarantee a length tolerance of +/- amazing 0.010"! They offer a written warranty against peep rotation and creep. They are also featured on 8 PSE bows. The color of choice is Flo Green and White with the matching D Loop and peep.

Well this was all set up by Jim Beasley of Spot Shooter Archery. This guy is no joke! Jim currently has 9 state championships, 4 state records, and is a 2009 NAA North Region champion. He won 2nd in the Badger Pro-Am in Wisconsin this year and set a NAA national record for the Star FITA Outdoor Compound Master 50+ at Single 70 meters in Renssaeler, IN during the July 2009 tournament. Having him set this rig up and give me some tips is something that I cannot put a price tag on. He spent a lot of time with me along with another member of his staff Dan. There is nothing better than having an awesome rig, than an awesome rig that has been set up and fine tuned by a great shop.

Well now that we know what this rig is about, I will tell you it shoots great. I couldn't be happier with the rig except for having two! Seriously though, i would definitely recommend any of these products. They are great by themselves but combined they make this set up dynamite. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to send me an email. If I don't know the answer I will find it or point you in the right direction.

So until my next blog, be safe, appreciate what you have and get into the great outdoors.