Friday, January 20, 2012

Doubled Up

I manged to peel myself away from my temporary home for a few days to go south and see what Lowland Farms looked like. I hadn't been back since last March's Spec hunt. I must say that the primary reason for my tardy return was the poor condition of the landscape. There was hardly any natural cover left on any of the dikes making it next to impossible to hide or camouflage oneself from the sharp eyes of wary waterfowl. That is unless you happened to be a Muskrat or leech. So with expectations in check, Jet and I loaded up and headed south. At the very least we could enjoy the wide open spaces watching raptors, coyotes and Magpies. I wasn't sure if there was going to be much in the way of waterfowl present or not.

The weather was mild so far this year with an abnormally low snow pack and very little precipitation to date. I loaded all my gear just in case, as conditions can and do change rapidly when storms start to roll in. As we hit the edge of the property I was starting to feel optimistic. I was seeing a lot of vegetation and excellent cover on the dikes that were for the most part de nuded last March. Mmmm I thought to myself, this may be alright after all. I began to visualize in my mind all the ditches and places where I've found late season dabblers. The myriad of options began flooding my head as we pulled up to the cabin on top of the hill. It was late afternoon and not enough time to get a walk in so we unpacked the truck and settled into the cabin. After I put food away in the frig, turned the water on without any blown pipes(thankfully) and got a fire going in the wood cook stove, I took a good look over the fields and river with my binocs.

There were some divers in the river and nothing in the fields, no geese at all. In some ways not seeing any geese didn't bother me to much since I wasn't able to dig my ground blind out of my storage unit. It's buried deep in there, somewhere.
So we enjoyed a relaxing evening as the sun set watching the few hawks and Magpies fly the friendly skies.

I still had a couple days before the close of Pheasant season and if at all possible I wanted to get Jet on a big late season rooster. I kept an ear open for the cackle during my morning walk along the Klamath River. There was still some ice on the river in a few of the deeper bends where the main current runs wide of. I had to be selective of what I shot since Jet(now retired) was keeping the cabin warm. I don't swim well in icy water and whatever I shot had to sail onto dry land for me to retrieve. I chose to head downriver and check out Porto's point first then make a loop across the fields to another ditch. Just as I cleared the end of the ditch a pair of Mallards gained my attention with their wing beats and flush off the water. They flushed close, not far from the head gate and I was surprised to see them as I had passed them on the road paralleling the ditch. Fortunately they were feeding along the edges where the vegetation droops over the cut bank, essentially shielding us from each other. I swung to my right, shouldered my Beretta 20 ga. told myself to take my time and not rush my shot cause I may not get another for a very long time, as in next year. I got on target dropping first the hen and then the drake. I was able to retrieve both with ease and wished I had Jet with me, as those would have been perfect  retrieves for an older seasoned vet like herself. Darn I thought, so I perked my ears for that outside chance of a Pheasants cackle just for her.

I walked along the river dike listening for Whistlers and the like. I indeed heard them only problem was that they were well out over the river and off limits for me to retrieve. There were also plenty of Scaup and the usual array of Buffleheads too. So I started to loop around and cut across the fields before returning to the cabin. Maybe some more dabblers will swing over and check out the open ditches. It was getting close to noon and I never did get another shot. I arrived at the cabin and said hello to Jet and had a bite to eat. Took my waders off and relaxed a spell. The weather was starting to turn with winds and rain in the forecast. I let Jet out to stretch her legs and just about that time the wind really started to pick up. Oh boy, I said to myself this may be a good storm approaching. I processed my pair of Mallards and got the stove stoked up and just sat back and watched the storm roll in. I was content with my good fortune and so I decided to call it a day and see what tomorrow would bring.

Women's Hunting Journal  Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Darn Tough Socks

Well, just as their name implies these Darn Tough Socks are just that and more. The best socks that I've had of pleasure of wearing to date. Make no exceptions that these are pure 100% ultimate blissful comfort for little doggies.

May sound like pretty strong language, although I am very impressed with how well these socks wear and their comfort. Let's just go over some of the finer points of Darn Tough Socks.
  • They are 100% made in the U.S.A. in Northfield Vermont.
  • They have been making socks for 30+ years.
  • Next, they are made with a blend of Merino Wool and have a very high knit stitch count per inch which equates to increased durability without bulkiness. 
  • The fit is exceptional with seams strategically located so as not to irritate and cause discomfort or blisters. 
  • Non itching. 
  • Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee! 
I own 3 different models and weights of Darn Tough Socks and am completely happy with them. I have 2 pair each of  No-Show Mesh ($13.95pr.) for summer cycling & 2 pair of Merino Wool No-Show ($16.95pr.) for cool weather cycling. Both of these have performed flawlessly and have the durability that lacked from another well known name brand. The other socks were failing in the toes after only a handful of  wearings and just didn't have the comfort, fit and feel good quotient that Darn Tough Socks do.

 For hunting I have 2 pair of Over-the-Calf Full Cushion ($23 pr.) and 1 pair of Boot Sock Cushion ($21pr.). When the mercury drops I really like a sock that comes up to my knee and stays up. These do all that and at the end of the day they continue to feel good and not get packed down, damp or bunched up. My feet are just as happy at the end of the day as when I began. I certainly can't say that about all the socks I've worn. Their shorter version is just as wonderful for warmer weather and kept my feet dry, comfortable and content for long days afield. They have a large variety of weights, densities, heights and variety to cover all the bases. From cycling, running, casual, hiking, hunting and military there's plenty to choose from.

As a self employed woodworker I am proud to produce American Made products and support American Made businesses. For me it's a no brainer and now I am doing my best to have a drawer full of Darn Tough Socks for all seasons.

Here is another link to their site, plus a You Tube video of their factory in Northfield Vermont. 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with nor have I received any product or financial compensation for this review. This is my honest and unsolicited opinion, expressed in this review.  

Women's Hunting Journal  Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, January 6, 2012


I had put in a lot of days and hours in the timber trying to find a buck and punch my tag. Hunting an area I have become very familiar with and learning its secrets with each day I spent in search of my Muley buck. The only problem was that not unlike past early rifle seasons, it was bone dry in the Jack Pine forests. The Bitter brush and pine needles were giving away my location with just about every step. I slowed way down, so much so that it was becoming fatiguing. My leg muscles were not accustomed to holding my foot up while I looked for a quiet-er spot to step. It became a wonderful sort of meditative stalk challenging my balance, strenght,  coordination and patience. It also brought me back to my alpine ski racing days in the sense of having to look many steps ahead and plan my route, much like skiing Slalom or Giant Slalom. All the while scanning visually throughout each step for that glint of white or an out of place branch. Something a bit askew that becomes an ear flicking from front to back and a glistening black nose that turns and catches you with eyes sharply focused, and you've just been busted!

I travel fairly light when I hunt this area, as I can hunt directly from my friends house without having to fire up the truck. I relish this experience and the ability to hunt right off the front porch and not having to drive to a specified location.
Hunting the timber means having to wait a bit longer for sufficient shooting light. Oh no problem, perfect to nab a second cup of strong coffee. I have adapted well without issue on that front. The early mornings are cool with temps in the 20's and low 30's then warming to mid 60's or even 70's by afternoon. Layering is key as is typical for Fall. I love the crisp mornings lightly frosted and the smell of seasonal changes as it stirs memories of past hunts, those successful and others not so much. More so the possibilities of what hunting encompasses and that of which is vast and leaves much to be experienced, even after close to 40 years afield. Every year, every hunt is special and unique, no two are ever alike .  .  .  thankfully!

Oops I digressed, back to my buck hunt. As I was noting the challenges  of an early season hunt there was plenty of fresh sign. There were  well defined rub lines and also lots of scrapes. Some of them were separated by not more than  a quarter mile, thus indicating several bucks in the vicinity. Just wasn't able to catch them in their zones during daylight. I did sneak in on a large doe the first evening and watched her browse on Bitter brush for about 10 minutes. It was fun mirroring her and finally we parted ways as my focus turned back to looking for horns. Mind you I am not a horn hunter, I don't have the luxury shall we say of being such an accomplished hunter or availability of multiple tags to fill each season. Oh and lets not forget location, location, location. Just as important here as in real estate, in fact maybe more so. After hunting hard for the better part of a week I returned to my temporary home for a day to regroup, rest and recharge.

I was optimistic as the forecast was finally calling for precipitation before my hunt was to end. Phew, I thought to myself this is just what I needed and indeed found new inspiration and focus. There were only 3 days left to the 10 day season and I was back with patience renewed by a brief respite.

I heard a distinct single "thump" that made my heart jump and my body stop in a nano second. It was the unmistakable sound of a hoof thumping semi hollow, duffy ground. My pulse quickened as my eyes strained to hone in on the location of this deer. I didn't know if it was a buck or doe. A flash of brown streaks through the trees and I catch a glimpse and follow its direction. I am squatting down and ready to shoulder my rifle if I am so lucky, and if I can muster a shooting lane akin to Swiss cheese. The deer stops less than a hundred yards away but I still can't see any horns. I slowly move to my left to gain a sliver of a shooting lane. Snort and then a series of "blows" and I'm busted as the deer alerts all creatures in the vicinity that there is a threat about. I did see a large bodied deer with big ears and a white rump but never did see horns. I surmise that at least I got a little closer than  previously, as most times out I hadn't even see a deer. Ahh, dang it as my heart sank a bit and at the same time feeling more motivated. The clouds were moving in and temps were on the rise from early morning. By mid afternoon the smell of rain was in the air. I was thrilled as I had only 2 more days left to hunt.

I returned to where I was staying and settled in for the evening and as is my habit, brought my rifle in the bedroom with me. More so as an optimistic possibility if there just happened to be a buck within eye shot of my friends house. I slept well and woke hours before daylight and stepped out to the front porch to take inventory of the weather mans accuracy. Yes indeed it had and was still raining. Yes, yes, yes, about time I exclaimed to myself, finally!

 I had a quick breakfast and waited for the downpour to subside a bit. Another  friend stopped by and we were shooting the breeze about my hunt so far and as he looked out the window he said, "there's some deer out there". This was about 7:30a.m. and the rain had turned to drizzle, so I thought to myself it's time to get dressed and get out hunting. I jumped out of the Lazy Boy and ran to the kitchen window just about the time one of the guys said "hey one of them is a buck, Terry do you have your rifle in the house?" I was already half way to my bedroom peeling up the carpet in my slippers at the time. I exclaimed excitedly, but quietly that I sure did and was fast en route to the laundry room door. There were 4 deer total and 1 little buck hanging with the girls. I looked at my friend over my right shoulder as I began to open the door and he was opening the clothes dryer door to stop it. I took a knee and took aim then squeezed and nothing! Dang it forgot to take the safety off, regroup. Internal conversation was something like this; try again, stay calm, focus, breathe don't get ahead of yourself, remember to squeeeze the trigger. BOOM! The little 2 x 3 buck dropped right in his tracks at 60 yards, the does scattered instantly. PHEW what a relief. I actually listened to myself and did what I needed to. Even being able to watch the little buck drop through my scope, never flinched or pulled the shot.

Hugs all around and the rain began to come down harder again. The boys were on their way out to look at my buck and I flew to get changed out of my pj's(literally, flannel pants, deerskin slippers and a sweatshirt) and into my Carhartts, flannel shirt and some decent footwear. Mind you, not exactly my typical hunting clothes.  None the less I had made a good shot, high through his neck not wasting an ounce of meat. It was also my first harvest with my Roberts 256 that I'd bought from my friend Larry 2 summers ago.

I had worked my tail off hunting for my buck and not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I took the shot that presented itself. I had learned much in the days leading up to my success. I was patient and persistent and in the end who knows how it might have been different. This was how this hunt unfolded and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. I had a blast from start to finish and learned some things along the way too. It didn't take long to get my buck skinned,  field dressed and bagged up hanging. Wow, it happens so fast when you finally get the shot you've been looking for. That is one reason why I enjoy the entire process of hunting. All of it from start to finish. Ultimately leaving me dreaming about the next hunt, whenever, wherever that may be.

Women's Hunting Journal   Integrity For The Hunt

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