Hogs....down in the bog!

Hogs....down in the bog!

February 27, 2011

Hunting for Sheds

I still remember the first time I heard the word shed used within the realm of hunting. Up until then, the only sheds I knew of were the kind that held lawn mowers, bicycles, gardening tools and other random outdoor necessities. For those of you who are not familiar with hunting, a shed is an antler that a deer has shed in order to grow a new set for the upcoming fall. It was Josh's Fourth of July party, and we had been dating for literally five minutes. He and his friend Tim were standing around talking about sheds when I walked over. Innocently enough, I asked him if he was getting a shed for his backyard. They made fun of me, and I realized I had a lot to learn. That same summer Josh took me for my first hike through the woods. About five minutes into it I found my first shed. It was a little spike and was sitting right in the middle of the trail. Since that day I have gone looking for sheds many times with Josh, and each time it has been an adventure.

This afternoon Josh and I went out to fill the feeders around his dad's house and look for sheds. I am happy to say that I was the only one to find a shed today :o)

It was a three point and was found right in the middle of a deer trail coming past the feeder. I have learned a lot about deer and looking for sheds over the past few years, and this year I was able to put some of my knowledge to use. If you are looking for a great book about shed hunting I recommend Shed Hunting: A Guide To Finding White-Tailed Deer Antlers, by Joe Shead. Yes, his name really is Joe Shead.

*Tips-learned from Joe Shead and my own hunting guide Josh.
1. The first thing that you need to find out is where are the deer. Seems impossible, as they are illusive, but look for signs around you. Heavily worn trails through the woods, rubs on trees, scrapes underneath low-lying branches, and droppings (yes poop) are all signs of deer activity. It has taken me a long time to be able to look around the woods and pick out a trail, rub or scrape. For the longest time everything just looked like trees and dirt (sometimes it still does), but look closely and you can see the signs the deer leave for us.

2. Look for sheds on these worn trails, but don't forget about wood lines beside a food plot, or even right in the field. This gets tricky in corn fields because the fallen corn stalks will look exactly like a shed. I cannot tell you how many times I have run into the middle of a field after mistaking a cornstalk for a shed. Disappointing yes, but part of the fun.

I have started looking at the use of shed dogs for hunting shed antlers, and so far have read that Labradors are the best breed for the job. Personally, I think that I have an orange cat that would do a pretty fantastic job-he is a master hunter of laser beams.

February 25, 2011

Top 10 Weekend: New Hunters

I have been hunting for almost two years now, but somehow I learn something new every single time I find myself in the woods. While my hunter safety course was insightful, I believe they left out a few important tips. Here are my top ten tips for new hunters, in no particular order:

1. Trees move. Not just little leave and branches when a cool breeze comes through. The ENTIRE trunk will move. So do not think that just because you are strapped into your stand with a nice little safety harness that you will not be swaying in the breeze. You will be, and you will not "get used to it."

2. Squirrels are your worst enemy. They will crash through the leaves behind you sounding like a _______ (insert whatever animal you are trying to hunt). They will prance above your head making you think you are about to be attacked. Armadillos will do this also, but they are way cuter and funnier to watch than a silly squirrel so I will give them a free pass.

3. Trees will jump out and smack you on the head when you are walking through the woods (I am envisioning the talking trees from The Wizard of Oz, aren't you?), especially if you are busy looking down so that you don't step on any branches and alert the forest creatures to your whereabouts. Invest in a headlamp and maybe a helmet...or just learn how to look down and in front of you at the same time.

4. Face painting is a fabulous alternative to a face mask. Much more comfortable in warmer weather and way more fun! I suggest watching various hunting/war DVDs to get some inspiration. Try out some different patterns. I enjoy the diagonal multi-color stripe technique. Though difficult to get off, baby wipes do the trick pretty well.

5. They make socks, seats, vests, gloves and who knows what else with battery powered heaters. Freezing is not your only option and it does not "make you tougher," just colder.

6. You may bring snacks with you. I recommend green apple licorice. Not only is it delicious, you can eat it quietly AND it camouflages itself. Cabela's brand is the best, but Tractor Supply and Bass Pro have a close second. Don't worry, I taste tested them all several times before recommending any to you. :o)

7. As long as your cell phone is on silent, bring it.

8. People you hunt with (boyfriend, father, fiance, husband) will buy you all kinds of neat hunting gadgets. They will refuse to let you take them with you hunting because your super cool camouflage backpack, which is filled with these items, will not fit in the tree stand. They will ignore you when you try to discuss why they are allowed to have two bags. (Apparently I hunt with Steven Spielberg who needs an entire bag for his camera equipment.)

9. It is entirely possible that you will sit for an entire day and see absolutely nothing. That being said, I suggest a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors or I Spy to help entertain you.
                                  * I will make #9 a two part tip:
Chances are you will not sit all day. Most likely you will be out of the woods by 11AM. I don't know where men go when they go "hunting" all day, but I will tell you they are not in the woods the entire time (unless they fell asleep in their stand).

10. You will probably never wear matching camouflage. There was a time when I swore that I would always match. I got over that pretty quickly when I realized that the warmest combination did not necessarily match. Get used to rocking seven different patterns. Warmth and comfort take president over fashion. I cannot believe I actually typed that...scratch that thought and add some jewelry.

February 24, 2011

Welcome to the blog!

I was inspired to start this blog by two acquaintances in my life. The first was an old friend from high school, who I have since lost touch with, but who started a blog about her daughter's first year. The second is through a friend of a friend who started a blog about newlywed life. Both inspired me. For a while now I have been working on a compilation of stories that detail my experiences hunting. I decided to turn them into a blog. I don't know whether you will learn any tips and tricks for harvesting a monster buck, but hopefully you will enjoy a good laugh.

I suppose I should begin by giving you a little background information about me. I grew up in a New Jersey suburb with my parents, neither of which were current hunters. My father had done some hunting when he was younger and my mother's father and brother were hunters, but hunting was not a part of my life. In fact, I had stated on more than one occasion that I would never, ever, hunt. I was not one of those overzealous protesters by any means, but hunting just wasn't for me. Growing up, the closest I ever got to harvesting a deer was when my father narrowly missed hitting one with his car on the way home from a restaurant. I was content to spend a Saturday in the mall hunting a good sale, not a monster buck. And the thought of having to sit still and be quiet for more than two minutes was an impossible dream. Do not even get me started on the fact that you weren't supposed to text while hunting. I grew up playing field hockey, tennis and dancing. I was your typical teenage girl; obsessed with friends, boys and shopping. I moved to Pennsylvania to attend college, and planned to return to "civilization" once I graduated. Amazing how plans change. I decided to stay in the Lebanon area, and that's when I met Josh, my fiance, and now hunting teacher and guide. He is where my story really begins.

When I met Josh, he made it very clear to me that hunting was a part of his life. I didn't have to go along, but it was a non-negotiable. That was fine with me. It gave me quite a few weekends to myself during the fall, and some much needed time to meet up with friends. It was probably two years before Josh convinced me to go hunting with him. By hunting, I mean videotaping. While the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn didn't exactly appeal to me (I love to sleep), I was beginning to get curious about what he was doing in the woods for all those hours. I was about to find out...

                                        This is me and my amazing fiance/hunting guide Josh.
                                            (Photograph courtesy of the amazing Joy Moody)