Thursday, February 26, 2009

General Update

First I want to shout an acknowledgement to Katie at Tubbs Snowshoes. Thank you for working with me and that when my knee is better, I will indeed do a review of the Women's Frontier model. Trust me I wish I was out snowshoeing now instead of rehabbing! First things first though.

Secondly I sure hope there are some folks taking advantage of the Klamath County depredation Spec/Snow Goose hunt that is ongoing as I am sitting here. Please start writing and sharing your stories, you know who you are; Hunt, Eat, Live and Norcal.

I am doing my best to let my knee heal and it is going to take some time, more than I really want to admit. I am still cautiously optimistic that I may be able to go on my Spring Bear hunt if I mind my p's and q"s over the next several weeks. Idle is not something I am good at. Time to start practicing though. In the meantime I will continue to workout doing strenght training with my upper body and un-injured leg at the local gym. The good news is that I have dodged surgery and just need to give myself the time and rest required for my partially torn ligament to heal. I can do this. That darned Beaver hole anyway!

Thank you for all the good thoughts via the comment section and personal e-mails, appreciate them all! Now time to get back into story telling mode and all that fun stuff!

P.S. Be careful out there in the field and watch out for them darned Beaver holes!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spring Bear Draw Results

Click on the link to check the Oregon controlled hunt draw results.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lost and Found pt. 2

Let's see now, I left off at realizing that I was on my own and possibly even lost. Well true enough, as I waited there for over an hour with no one showing up and the rain coming down harder I had to do something.

The reality was that I was in deed lost, alone and not well equipped for the conditions. I opted for plan B. follow the stream downhill and trust that I will meet a road before nightfall. I went on my way semi frantic, adrenalin surging and very determined to find the valley bottom and a road. In short, a young woman on a mission. Oh, did I mention I was scared too? Yes most definitely. I bushwhacked for 4 hours before nightfall set in. In that time the precipitation continued and I was soaked by dark. All my gear was wet too. My equipment consisted of; down Gerry sleeping bag (circa 1974),wool hat, wool socks, cotton turtlenecks, jeans, light coat, 1 cast iron skillet, bag of garbage, container of Sucrets (throat lozenge's), 1 Swiss army knife,1 Gerber knife and the best of all 2 cubes of Oleomargarine. The boots I had on were a pair of Browning Kangaroo upland boots my dad had gotten me as a gift.

I was laying under a big tree on a little knob or crown so to speak. It was uncomfortable as hell and yet I was so exhausted from stumbling and thrashing about from bushwhacking that it didn't really matter. The temperature was dropping and the rain was subsiding. Throughout the afternoon I continued to yell for help every so often. I took my backpack off and took out my gear to see if anything was dry that I could put on. Nothing at all, everything was wet. My sleeping bag had dry spots, but that was about all. I laid out the Sucrets, knives, bag of garbage and 2 cubes of margarine. I tried to get comfortable but wasn't having much luck. I didn't have a flashlight either which I really could have used.

Above me or in a tree near by was an owl and the first time he "whoo whoo whooed" I just about jumped out of my skin. After awhile I found comfort in the regularity of the owls vocalization. I was worried about bears and whatever else might be in the woods on a cold dark night. I was in my mostly wet sleeping bag with my canvas pack laying over the top of my shoulders to try and keep the precipitation off for as long as possible. Eventually I was completely soaked and had it not been for my wool hat the outcome may have been different. In a fetal position with a wet sleeping bag stretched tightly across my body, and wearing nothing more than my cotton briefs I began to shuffle my hat from my head to my feet and to my belly. Warming each area as I went. All night long I did this. The temperature had dropped below freezing and I knew the potential for hypothermia was very real. This was serious and I had been without food since breakfast and needed something for fuel, anything. I found one of the cubes of Oleo margarine and peeled the paper back and began eating it. Not the greatest flavor, but that was a non issue.

Throughout the night I was yelling help in all four directions and one straight up to the heavens , just in case. I did this at about 20 minute intervals and after a few hours of doing this I got to have a real good sense of time. I would guess that 20 min. had passed then look at my watch and sure enough, I'd be within a minute or two. I did manage to doze off occasionally but not for long and I am thankful of that. Eventually the lower half of my sleeping bag that wasn't stretched over my body was beginning to freeze. Eventually it did freeze rock hard. I kept up with rotating my wool hat to my head, feet and belly. I was shivering and my hip muscles were spasming as I shuffled the hat. Then freezing rain began to fall and I just couldn't believe this was really happening to me. I was thinking of my friends who were sleeping in a warm dry cabin and I was a bit agitated at that thought. I wondered what the coach thought when he got to Pinkham Notch and came up 1 short. I was thinking about a lot of stuff, some not so good.

I was looking forward to daybreak and knew I had to make it to see another day. As the light crept over the horizon I took inventory of what else I had to eat. I figured I would save the bag of garbage for the last resort. The rain and drizzle was intermittent with interspersed light snowfall and as I extracted myself from my half frozen mummy bag I was thankful to see the light of day! Everything was coated in a not so thin layer of ice, including my wet clothes and boots. I began scraping ice of my clothes and boots so I could get dressed and continue downhill following the stream. I was partly dressed when I heard a faint voice in the distance. I hoped my mind wasn't playing tricks on me and I answered back with a very hoarse, help. Then another reply, and I was just about in dis belief that I had been found. A warm rush of adrenaline surged through my body and I was warmer now than I had been since nightfall. I continued to yell until we had a visual of one another. Then I was able to see a couple men in bright colored clothing, search and rescue had found me.

As they got to within eyesight they said my name and I responded affirming that yes it is me. They had dry wool sweaters, pants and socks for me to put on. Needless to say all modesty vanished while I got dressed. I was still shaking from being cold and they began to offer me food. I remember eating an apple, a PBJ sandwich followed by a pork chop and topped off with a brownie. You should've seen the expression on my coach's face, relieved beyond words. We gathered my wet and still partly frozen gear before heading to Pinkham Notch Headquarters to fill out some paperwork. As we headed down the mountain the rescue guys actually got off trail twice too, although not for very far. That made me feel a bit better and not like such a dummy. They even agreed that the conditions were difficult and that even an experienced hiker can have difficulty navigating. It took me several hours to get the chill out of my bones and days for my muscles to get over being knotted up and sore from shivering.

In all I lost 6 pounds from shivering all night long. Had a case of laryngitis from yelling and was the 117 th. person lost that year and some of the others with less fortunate outcomes. I was 30 minutes away from Pinkham Notch where they found me and I was headed in the right direction. Had they not found me by noon they were going to begin an aerial search. Fortunately my parents did not know I was lost until after I had been found. The rescue men said that I was very fortunate and that eating that cube of margarine probably saved my life. Along with being a woman and the added layer of fat plus being in excellent health to begin with. It is an experience that has stayed with me to this very day. I can still guess what time it is and be within 10 minutes. It was a life lesson and I continue to listen to that little voice inside me when I am in the woods hunting big game. No animal is ever worth getting lost over. I may get razzed a bit by my friends about not wanting to venture off to far yet all I can say is that unless you've spent a night like I have, you won't truly understand where I am coming from. That is also why I carry more gear when I hunt than I probably need to. Better safe than sorry, wet or cold or all the above. When I hear of people lost and the search is on, my heart goes out to them. It is about survival, plain and simple!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lost and Found pt. 1

This is about an experience I had when I was only 15 years old. I was going to school on the East coast at B.M.A. in Vermont at the time and was heavily involved in alpine ski racing. During the fall dryland training period of 2 to 3 months we had a week off to visit one of the following destinations; N.Y. City, Boston, Montreal or hiking in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Being from the west I was interested in going to the mountains and backpacking for a week.

There were a group of about 8 of us student athletes and one of our coaches who was the leader of this outing. We were all in excellent condition and ready to have some fun and get away from the formal rigors of dryland training. Most of us had some sort of backpack that would suffice for what we needed. The plan was to check in to the headquarters at Pinkham Notch and file a trip itinerary. Our coach had set up a series of day hikes including summits of several peaks and utilizing the lean-tos to overnight in. They were not fancy although after a day of hiking we were mostly interested in food and sleep, and in that order too.

The White Mountains are also called the Presidential Range since all their peaks are named after presidents. The most famous peak or infamous is named after our first president, Washington. Mt. Washington's summit is 6288 ft. and has the highest recorded wind in North America topping out at 231 m.p.h.. This was back in April of 1934 and still stands as the all time record. Mountain climbers and companies who make mountaineering equipment regularly do field testing on Mt. Washington. Alright enough history, on with the story.

It was mid October in New England and the first thoughts I imagine some of you are thinking is of the Autumn foliage. The Maple and Birch hardwood leaves flaming in reds, oranges and golden yellow hues. Well, not exactly. You see this particular year the leaves had already dropped and the only striking colors were that of the Birch bark and its contrasting black and white against a gray sky. The landscape was stark, yet there was a quiet beauty in the stillness and absence of color.

We had our sleeping bags, cooking gear, food and some basic essentials for what we anticipated to be an enjoyable week off. We took turns doing the cooking and so on and so forth. We all got along well with a few exceptions here and there. Mostly teenagers being teenagers. What more do you expect. There was the typical whining early on by a few with blisters, some were hungry and some of us felt like we were still doing dryland training and wondered when we'd get a break. We climbed and hiked over many a rough and rocky mile summiting several famous peaks in the Presidential range. The first being Mt. Madison and the next was Mt. Adams after that we headed for Mt. Jefferson. To cover these 3 peaks took us 4 days and we began our descent back to Pinkham Notch on the following morning. This is where the story gets interesting.

I remember leaving the lean-to after a few of my friends and with a few behind me as well. The weather was gray, somewhat cool in the mid 40's and drizzle on and off. Our coach was pulling up the rear and since we were going down a trail we'd come up there wasn't much concern about any of us getting off the beaten path. Or so we thought, and let me be the first to tell you that the trail was anything but, a beaten path. The terrain was rocky, muddy, tree roots criss- crossing the trail and a carpet of fallen leaves littered the landscape. Far from the Western landscapes of a Fir/Pine forest floor with a well trodden "dip" of a trail. So, nothing was defined, especially for young teenagers. As I continued down the trail I realized I no longer saw any of my friends. This didn't set well, so I slowed down and waited a few minutes and still nobody came. Ummm, I thought. I began to backtrack and as I did I crossed a creek in a dip that I had crossd minutes earlier and now was unable to even see a trail. Not good. It was a little before noon and I sat right there and waited for about an hour and even yelling to try and get someones attention. To no avail and so I looked through my canvas backpack to find my matches and firecrackers and light them off. I thought that would get someones attention. Well as time wore on the rain had begun again, my matches were wet and useless. My concern turned to worry as I got that terrible empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, you know what I'm speaking of. A brief moment of dis belief followed by self talk telling myself to stay calm and remember what my dad told me. Stay put and if that isn't going to work then follow a creek, stream or river downhill. Eventually the stream will lead to a road and in turn safety. I had some serious decisions to make and was quickly running out of daylight.

Don't go far, part two is just around the bend.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Where To Begin ?

This is in response to the article that C. Orlet wrote on the The American Spectator. This has become the recent challenge put forth by Kristine at Outdoor Bloggers Summit. A very good challenge and I am looking forward to reading what my fellow bloggers have to say too. After reading the comments that followed the article I have a pretty good idea what will be written. To read the article (if you really want to, click on his name above).

The article was offensive to everyone who enjoys the outdoors. The article was also done in poor taste, be it a stab at humor which I doubt nor from first hand experience. If this individual is a hunter I am glad he doesn't live and hunt in my state. I would be scared to be anywhere near when he says, "men need to have a gun in one hand and a beer in the other". WHOA, not good judgement there. Ever hear of Hunter's Education classes? I don't think Mr. Orlet has a Hunter's Ed. card, do you? For that matter does he even have common sense? I know, a rhetorical question. Continuing on let me say that the article was one that creates division among all people, not just those of us who enjoy the outdoors. To say in this day and age that a woman does not belong in the "blood sports" and that such places are reserved for "man's primitave instincts to kick in" is totally absurd. It really makes me want to up chuck on him directly.

I choose to not go through the above mentioned offensive article line by line disproving the writers beliefs. When I am more inclined to surround myself with like minded individuals who are open minded and enjoy being with women in the shooting sports, fishing or whatever activity they choose to embark upon in the great outdoors. As I have written about before and will mention again is, how fortunate I am to have been raised by parents who supported and encouraged me in whatever activity I showed an interest, regardless of social norms related to gender specificity. I am a woman, I am a woodworker who builds custom furniture employing the old methods of using chisels and mallets, I am a competent fly fisherman and accomplished hunter. I can lay in a ground blind for hours in single digit weather and I can pursue waterfowl with recently a torn knee ligament. Don't talk to me about breaking a fingernail because you sorely underestimate what we women are truly made of. Shall I mention child birth, does that clue you in at all? I make no apologies for who I am or what I enjoy doing. I am appreciative of the men in my life who are secure in knowing who they are, and that my presence does not make them want to act out like Mr. Orlet. Some days they out shoot me and other days I them. We do not keep score, yet we remember the good times we shared.

I doubt Mr.Orlet spends much time if any with women and that is certainly his loss. In a time when the hunting industry is being attacked by anti hunting groups we don't need a so called hunter damning his own. We need to pull together as a group of individuals who enjoy the outdoors in whatever way it is that you do so. When we as a nation can respect each others differences and still find common ground as people, then we will be moving in the right direction. Creating more separatism and division amongst ourselves is not progress.

Suffice it to say that I am thankful to be me and to have the quality friends that I do. I do not want to continue to give mention to such a discriminatory, offensive article and rather choose to support endeavors where I can contribute in a positive manner. I was thrilled to read the comments as to how outraged 90% of my fellow bloggers were. Seems there are going to be a few bad apples in very bunch, and just when I thought we were making some progress too. I hope he goes back under his rock with his jug of Wild Turkey, please! Case closed.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stuck In The Muck

I hope you enjoyed the recent interview I did with The Downeast Duckhunter. I had fun doing it and hope you have visited his blog and read a bit more about his adventures of hunting the Atlantic Flyway. He (Tony) is a wealth of knowledge and never stops thinking about new ways to approach the hunt.

As I have read the recent blogs from the past week there have been several summaries of this past season. Well let me add mine to the mix. It is not a story of massive amounts of ducks being shot, or of frothing feverish retrieves. Nope, this one is more about the misfortunes of a last hunt and one ill fated step.

It all began innocently enough and very routinely. Jet and I loaded up all our goose decoys, ground blinds ( yes, she has a blind of her own too) and plenty of food to get us through the last 4 days of this season. The one pending concern was when I last left the cabin, the pipes were froze solid, leaving me unable to drain them after my day of hunting. So I didn't quite know what to expect when I arrived. Got to the cabin with a few hours of daylight left for a couple reasons. 1, to check on the plumbing and 2, to see what fields the geese were using if any. I was so happy and relieved to find that the Pex pipes had made it through our early December arctic blast and not a single one was broken. Phew, off to a good start I thought. Next I began to unload my gear and keep an eye on the fields for any geese that may be hanging around. There was a small bunch in the #1 field nibbling on some sparse alfalfa shoots. With the majority of snow being gone and the last several weeks of warmer than usual weather, yes the grasses were beginning to sprout. Lowlands was looking more like farmland and less like Fargo in January.

Jet and I got settled in and had a nice dinner. I decided we would venture down to the Klamath River first thing in the morning, as much of the ice was gone and there were sizable groups of divers using the river. We left the cabin before daybreak and started walking just before shooting time. There was a small group of Canada Geese in the North end of the # 1 field and some on the opposite side of the river from me. I decided our best chance was to walk in the ditch between the river and #1 field so we stay out of sight, since it's about 4 to 5 foot deep. Their was a mix of ice and some open water in the ditch and as most irrigation ditches go, it had steep sides and lots of very nasty muddy muck in it. Certainly not something you'd want to fall down in. With the recent snows back in December all the vegetation was laying down making it difficult to get a good foot hold. I kept Jet to my left just below the top of the dike and crept along the bottom edge where the bank met the water and ice. The weather was mild with temperatures in the mid 30's and a fairly low dark cloud cover. I could hear Goleneyes whistling overhead yet I was holding out for the chance to maybe shoot a goose. (In my Waterfowler Gunning Log, Goldeneyes are actually listed as Whistlers). So carefully and slowly we continued to move along in hopes of placing ourselves between the 2 bunches of geese.

Then it happened, without warning. I stepped in a beaver or muskrat hole that was hidden beneath the vegetation and the ill fated plunge proceeded. As my right foot sank in the muck without finding a bottom I quickly switched gun hands as I was going down. I rolled to my right trying to keep my ass end from going head over tea kettle and to some degree pulled it off. I reached with my left hand and threw it in front of me out in the water placing the stock of my gun up to the trigger fully submersed, yet holding my head and upper body from doing the proverbial "face plant". It had worked although my left knee was in distress and after extrapolating myself from the wet, nasty muddy muck I knew I was in a bit of a pickle. I hauled my soaking wet fleece drenched self up the bank and to the top of the dike. Took off my hunting vest and coat and wrung them out as well as everything that I had in the pockets. I poured the water out of my hat (it was in the back of my vest), vest and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I had my fleece pants tucked inside my 18" Alphaburley boots which helped keep the water out and just wicked the water elsewhere as only a quality fleece garment can do.(LOL) Meanwhile Jet is thinking this is pretty fun and she is doing her "happy dog" escapades as if she'd just won the doggie lottery. What's up with that I wonder, then I try to tell her that mom isn't very happy right now, so if you'd moderate your enthusiasm a bit I'd appreciate it!

After taking inventory and realizing that my entire right side is drenched to the skin, I might as well continue on and go try to shoot a duck or two. My left knee was tweaked for sure and not knowing just how bad I didn't want to give up just yet. We headed for Porto's point on the Klamath River and I let go of the idea of shooting a goose. Limping along we made it and actually had a nice little diver hunt. I shot 3 Goldeneyes, 2 drakes and a hen. One of the drakes was a Common the other a Barrows. Jet wasn't thrilled with swimming in the still icy cold water so we called it quits at 3 ducks. I wish I had my boat there because there were so many flocks of Goldeneyes I couldn't believe it. I was certain we could of had limits.

We made it back to the truck and got ourselves to the cabin. Then I began taking off all my wet clothes and actually rinsed the mud off them in the sink before hanging them up to dry over the wood stove. Still thoroughly disgusted with myself and with whom ever it was that decided to excavate that damn hole in the ditch. Eventually I got all my wet stuff hung up and then processed the ducks. After that I sat down and had a nice brunch as my knee began to stiffen and swell. As I sat there eating I knew that my goose hunt was over before it even began. Later that afternoon I ventured out for a short walk in the #1 and 2 fields looking for goose sign to see if it was worth the effort. It didn't take me long to glean the results. No goose sign and very nasty sticky gooey mud that I had no business even being out there in. So I succumbed to the reality of the situation that my 2008/09 season was over and I needed to see an Orthopedist upon my return home.

Jet and I returned home the next day and I had an appointment for the following Monday. Seems that I partially tore a ligament and possibly my meniscus too. Further tests will be done later this week and I hope to avoid surgery. I am still planning on hunting the Klamath County depredation Spec hunt which opens Feb. 21 and closes Mar.10, 2009. Just taking it a day at a time right now and with any luck can avoid going under the knife. Certainly an untimely ending to an otherwise wonderful waterfowl season. Had many fun hunts with friends and got to watch Jet do some incredible retrieves as well as rooting out of some very wiley Pheasants.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt
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