Tag Archives: hunt

A Woman Named Barb and the Greatest Hunt Ever Filmed

The two-part “MeatEater” episode “Unconventional: Alaska Sooty Grouse” is a masterpiece of outdoor television and a heck of a hunt. For those who are unfamiliar, Steven Rinella’s “MeatEater ” is a unique and thought-provoking example of a genre that is routinely neither. The first part documents Rinella’s failure to locate (and growing obsession with) a highly vocal yet elusive sooty grouse. The second installment introduces a soft-spoken local hunter by the name of Barbara Gabier who, almost magically it seems, puts Rinella onto a grouse in less than an hour.

MeatEater "Alaska Sooty Grouse" episodes.

[Image: https://plus.google.com/+MeatEaterTV/videos]

What the episode dramatizes so well is the hunter’s frustration and near-refusal to come to terms with failure. Rinella, a very accomplished hunter, threw the book at a bird that was most likely 40 feet over his head half the time. But rather than pursue the bird on his own until the very end, Rinella enlists Barb who essentially offers a change of perspective. She puts Rinella out of his own head and into hers, which happens to contain a lot grouse hunting knowledge. What follows is a kind of romance between hunters in which Rinella is brought up to speed on sooty grouse hunting, something he wasn’t capable of on his own in the time given to him.

Knowledge has its limits, and to overcome them, we often have to look beyond ourselves. If anything, hunting is a humbling experience; it’s even more so when you don’t have a buddy or mentor to show you the ropes. This is why young hunters hunt with older hunters. It’s an old lesson, but in “Unconventional: Alaska Sooty Grouse,” it unfolds like a short story in which an enigma is presented and then resolved in a sideways or unexpected fashion.

What’s in a Daypack?

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

The hike up the snow covered mountain wasn’t by any means easy. Each step crunched as our boots sank in the snow, and the steepness of the terrain made our leg muscles burn with each step. I turned to my hunter to see how he was doing, and he was absolutely winded.

“Are you all right?” I asked as we stopped for a break.

“Yeah,” he responded, slightly out of breath. “This pack is just sorta heavy.”

I looked at his daypack and quickly realized just how much he’d overpacked. The entire pack was bulging from all the gear that was crammed into it, and it was so full that the zipper actually popped off its track. Even the kitchen sink was threatening to fall out and slide back down the mountain to the truck.

I checked myself and realized I was completely comfortable. Recently I consolidated my daypack and lightened it up quite a bit. And it was at this moment that I was extremely thankful for doing so. Optimizing weight and taking only what’s absolutely necessary is vital when out in the field. It’s definitely important to take the essentials, but by catering what’s in your pack to the activity you’re participating in can really cut down on weight and make the whole day much more enjoyable. The following are a few tips to help you optimize exactly what goes into your pack every day.

The Essentials

There are a few items that always go into my daypack regardless of what activity I’m doing. These things practically never come out. One of the most important items is your standard compass.

Hand holding a compass from his day pack

Image: Alex Vail

If you’re as good at getting lost as I am, having a compass on you at all times is a must. It’s one of those things that you’d rather have and not need than need and not have. 

Inside my pack I also always carry a small kit with basic survival items in it, such as matches, a fire starting kit, a small extra pocket knife, fishing line/hooks, and an emergency blanket. There’s also a tiny basic first aid kit that’s secured inside as well. It fits neatly in a pouch on the pack and never really leaves unless I need something inside of it.

Man's hand holding a camo first aid kit from day pack

Image: Alex Vail

Water definitely makes the essentials list as well. I don’t care how cold it is or how short the walk is every day, water is a must. It’s necessary to try and plan out about how much water you might need over the course of the day since water is quite heavy, but it’s a good idea to carry a little more water into the field than you think you might need.

Finally I consider a good knife to be the last piece of essential gear. There are so many uses for a knife that the list could go on for ages, everything from starting a fire to cleaning an animal. A knife is another must.

All the Rest

green day pack on the floor

Image: Alex Vail

Everything else that is carried in your daypack can be considered “extra” or nonessential. These things might be essential for exactly what you’re doing each day, but they aren’t things you’d necessarily need each time you went outside. It’s important to make sure you’re taking exactly what you need each day, so you must consider what activity you’re doing. Look at binoculars, for example. Are you hunting pigs in the Georgia swamps where you can’t see beyond 50 yards? Then the binoculars aren’t necessary—leave them at home. Or are you hunting mule deer in the high desert in Colorado where you can see upwards of three miles? Bring them along.

The same thing holds true for clothing, food, etc. Are you going to be walking far in chilly weather? Then put that sweater in the daypack so you don’t get sweaty while you walk. Are you only going to be out until around lunchtime? You can probably leave the cook stove and food in the truck. I’ve had some hunters insist on carrying an entire extra box of ammunition, which of course adds weight, and I didn’t stop them. But there are alternative methods to cramming that entire box into the pack. Not everything needs to go inside of it. Use an ammo sleeve for the stock of your gun, for instance. Or rather than cramming that multitool inside, slip it onto your belt and help alleviate not only the weight in your pack but also the amount of time you spend rummaging through the pack in search of one item. 

So the next time you’re getting ready to head out into the field, ask yourself, “Will I really need this today?” Do this with each item, and you may be able to lighten up your daypack considerably and make it a much more efficient, better-suited pack for the day. Your back with thank you later.

The Epistemology of Hunting

Image: artpassions.wordpress.com

Image: artpassions.wordpress.com

How exactly does one become a better hunter? Knowledge and experience, obviously. But while credible knowledge on the subject is readily available from a variety of sources, the greater question is how to make it useful in practice. While we like to assume that knowledge is powerful in itself, that’s rarely the case. In most fields, you need a certain basic level of understanding to make use of more specialized kinds of knowledge. Likewise, you need a certain amount of experience to make full sense of another’s experience.

Much like Freud’s tripartite theory of the individual psyche, there are three fundamental factors at play whenever you are hunting. First and foremost, there is you: the hunter, the person walking around the forest or sitting in a tree stand. Second is the version of you who is a better hunter than the current you. The thing about this person is that they don’t exist yet. Third is your quarry. If you hunt on public land or under the conditions defined as “fair chase,” then it is almost guaranteed that your quarry is better at evading you than you are at finding it. What this means for you—the current you, that is—is that in a perfect world, your quarry and the very best version of you as a hunter are nearly one and the same thing. The goal therefore is to become closer to the better you—the very best version of you that current you can imagine.

However, there’s a problem with this.

The problem is that the very best version of you is limited by what you currently know about hunting. Your idea of the better hunter is not the best possible hunter, but the best possible hunter as imagined by you right now. And the best version of you is nowhere near as good as the animal you’re hunting. So how exactly do you become a better hunter? How do you enable yourself to imagine ever better versions of you?

The answer is, I think, in mistakes—both your mistakes and the mistakes of your quarry (let’s just call this luck for now). Mistakes, depending on how badly you want to become better at what you do, will either work for or against you. Learning from your mistakes is difficult enough, but by far the hardest thing in today’s world is making enough time to make mistakes. In hunting, mistakes are wonderful because they let you know exactly where you didn’t have or failed to apply knowledge. When you can successfully apply knowledge to an endeavor, it becomes stored as experience. Thus an experienced hunter is one whose knowledge has been tested in the crucible of experience. It’s that simple. Knowledge can come from within, such as when you learn from a mistake; or it can come from without, such as when a more experienced hunter gives it to you. But unless you verify it in the world, it is only potentially useful.

To sum up: A person new to hunting is not a good hunter because they cannot imagine what a better version of hunting looks like. But in five years, that same hunter (hopefully) will have turned mistake into knowledge. And with that knowledge, they’ll have made even better mistakes, mistakes more advanced than any novice could make, which in turn becomes the new theses of an ever-refining dialectic of experience. To free the unicorn from the mind’s stable, one simply has to imagine unfastening the latch.

Women Hunt Too: Huntresses We Admire

Often there’s a misconception that only men hunt (or fish), but we want to dispel that myth. Getting down in camo in a hunting blind is not a gender exclusive activity, and there are more than a few awesome huntresses that we admire out there.

Women have been involved in hunting since the beginning of history. Cave drawings displayed women joining in on the hunt, mythological huntresses were depicted in ancient Greek and Roman culture, and ancient Egypt saw queens often hunting from the comfort of their chariots. It’s no surprise that in today’s society there are plenty of noteworthy huntresses paving the way for the outdoorswoman of the future.

Andrea Fisher

Andrea Fisher with a buck.

2011 Prois Award winner, Andrea Fisher. [Image: https://www.pinterest.com/]

Huntress and conservationist Andrea Fisher was the 2011 Prois Award winner, an award that honors women who are dedicated to hunting and conservation with involvement in their community. Fisher won a trip to hunt elk, mule deer, wolf, and whitetail in the Canadian Rockies alongside Diana Rupp, the editor-in-chief for Savage Encounters and Sports Afield.

Eva Shockey

Eva Shockey and a whitetail buck.

Eva Shockey and a beautiful whitetail buck. [Image: http://outdoorchannel.com/]

Canadian huntress and daughter of Jim Shockey, Eva was featured on the May 2014 issue of Field & Stream Magazine, the first woman to be featured in 30 years. Eva has grown up in the face of hunting media, following in her father’s footsteps. It’s no surprise that she is now a cohost of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures, blazing the trail for huntresses worldwide.

Debra Card

Debra Card and her moose.

Debra Card and her amazingly antlered moose. [Image: http://www.wideopenspaces.com/]

In 1999, Debra Card snagged a number one Safari Club International (SCI) spot for an Alaska moose she killed right outside of Cordova. Its antlers spanned over six feet with 39 points and scored her 731 1/8-inches. This monster has held the number one spot for more than a decade now!

Mary Cabela

Mary Cabela and a bighorn sheep.

Mary Cabela and a beautiful bighorn sheep she shot. [Image: http://www.outdoorlife.com/]

Everyone’s at least heard of Cabela’s, and it’s not surprising that co-owner Mary Cabela is an impressive huntress. She has records for more than 200 animals, many of which are SCI trophies. Some of her kills include cape buffalo, caribou, Dall sheep, elk, and much more.

Gearing Up for Archery Season

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

Fall archery season is right around the corner, and in some places, like my home state of Florida, it’s already under way in a few areas. Now is the time to start preparing and thinking about how you’re going to turn this season into a successful one. But before you go racing off into the stand, there are a few things to keep in mind that can not only help make your season more successful, but also a little safer.

A view from the bow looking over a river.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

Gear, Gear…And More Gear

Let’s be honest, most of us haven’t really looked at our hunting pack since last season. It’s beyond time to go through it and make sure you have everything you need and that those items are in good working condition. Things like plenty of reflective tacks/tape, batteries for your flashlight, first aid kit, etc. There’s nothing worse than getting out into the field only to discover you’ve forgotten something vital at the house because you haven’t updated your pack.

A camo-colored backpack.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

And we shouldn’t forget about probably the most important piece of gear for archery season: The bow itself. It’s vital to make sure that your bow is functioning just as it should. Ensure that each arrow you’re carrying with you hasn’t (somehow) received some damage over the course of the year and that all the fletching is in good condition. All of this, however, should be taken care of LONG before it’s time to hunt because it’s past time for practicing. It doesn’t really matter how well you’ve got your gear together when you’re out of practice in the actual shooting process.

A bow and arrows with a target.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

Water, Water Everywhere

Depending on what part of the country you’re hunting, archery season can be anything from pretty warm to downright hellish. Here in Florida, it’s the latter. It’s practically still summer here, and scouting/trudging around in the woods looking for deer isn’t the coolest activity one can do in 90+ degree weather. Always make sure to carry more water than you plan on drinking. And don’t stop drinking. As a good rule of thumb in the heat, if you stop sweating then you’re already dehydrated.

Speaking of water, this time of the year still brings plenty of rain. Many roads will be flooded thanks to high water levels. Remember to never drive into water when you don’t know how deep it is. It seems like common sense, but I’m shocked every year at the amount of flooded trucks I see from people who’ve done just that. And it isn’t just roads that get flooded. In many instances, the woods will be too. If you’re hunting any low lying area, just be sure to have footwear that can get wet. Just because the area was dry during scouting season doesn’t mean it’ll be dry on opening day.

A view from the bow looking into the woods.

[Image credit: Alex Vail]

Naturally with rain comes thunderstorms, and with thunderstorms comes lightning. This time of the year, afternoon thunderstorms are a daily occurrence. If you’re lucky enough to have cell signal from your stand, be sure to have some sort of radar app downloaded and check it often. If not, don’t be a dummy and sit in a tall tree during a lightning storm. Seek cover immediately.

The Deer Themselves 

You can, of course, do everything right and still not see deer. This time of the year is rather unique. The deer have been unpressured for the past nine months so they won’t be exhibiting those highly pressured deer patterns. They won’t, for the most part, be completely nocturnal. However, it is still very hot out. Just like us, animals don’t want to get too hot. This time of the year, they will lay low and ride out the heat of the day in order to come out in the late evening and early morning. Don’t kill yourself by being in the stand for too long in the morning or too early in the afternoon. The bucks also haven’t really begun showing signs of rutting activity yet. You can expect to find a few rubs here and there, but rarely any scrapes. Bucks will often still be cruising around in bachelor groups this time of the year, so try and take that into account when picking a stand. It’s hard to pattern a single animal during early archery season.

So if you find yourself, like many of us, chomping at the bit to get out in the stand with a bow, just take all of these things into account before you leave. Make sure your gear is in proper working order and you’ve got everything you need. Feel confident with your shooting abilities, and always keep an eye on that weather. With any luck, you may very well be staring at a bachelor group of bucks in the near future—there are few ways to better start off a season than with a successful hunt.

The Evolution of American Hunting Attire

How has hunting attire changed over the last 300 years? Let’s take a look.

The Longhunters

Contemporary longhunter displaying some fine early 18th-century threads [Image: warriorstrail.com]

Contemporary longhunter displaying some fine early 18th-century threads. [Image: warriorstrail.com]

Longhunters were 18th century hunters and trappers who pushed into the Appalachian frontier in search of fur and game. By dress alone, they probably weren’t too different from ordinary settlers or pioneers. They wore a kind of knee-length linen overshirt, moccasins, leather leggings, and woolen garters in thick brush or snow. Since they operated for months at a time, longhunters carried a wool blanket for sleeping and an oilcloth that functioned like a modern tarp. They carried their items in a leather bag known as a haversack that was carried over the shoulder like a messenger bag. A smaller leather bag, known as a shooting bag, contained everything needed to prep, load, and maintain a flintlock rifle. As longhunters worked their way West, their style of dress became heavily influenced by encounters with Native Americans. They basically looked like A$AP Rocky.

Mountain Men

Image: en.wikipedia.org

[Image: en.wikipedia.org]

The mountain men were the peak of frontier fashion and the first true masters of cultural appropriation. The reached a fabulousness rivaled only by today’s tactical paramilitary soybean field hunters. Adopting the style of Native American hunters, they dressed head to toe in buckskins and wore either moccasins or heavy boots depending on the terrain. Coonskin hats were in the mix but probably not as often as people think. Unlike today’s ScentLok man, the mountain man was not afraid of a little odor. In fact, he probably reeked. But that really didn’t matter because he also probably understood the wind in a way that less than 1% of today’s hunters do.

Grandfather and the Golden Age

Image: www.wedoitoutside.com

[Image: www.wedoitoutside.com]

Ah, the era when brands like Filson, Sears, Ted Williams, L.L. Bean, and Woolrich were kings. When I think of my grandfather’s generation, I think of waxed canvas and ruby-colored Woolrich plaid. Since deer are colorblind, plaid will break up your outline as effectively as camouflage. But not too long after WWII, synthetics came along and changed the game. The result was cheaper and lighter, but it wasn’t always warmer.

The Baby Boomer

Image: www.deeranddeerhunting.com

[Image: www.deeranddeerhunting.com]

What exactly does dad wear when he hunts? It’s hard to say. It pretty much depends on whatever size XXL camo was on sale that week at Cabela’s. If he’s hip and takes after his son or daughter, maybe he’ll forego the baggy look in favor of some Under Armour. If he’s fancy and hip, he may lean toward Sitka’s style. If your dad’s a real badass, then he’s rocking Herman Survivors. If he wanted to look good and waste $250, then he’s lacing up a pair of boots from Danner.

Millennials

What are the kids wearing these days? [mage: jezebel.com]

What are the kids wearing these days? [Image: jezebel.com]

I once went rabbit hunting in skinny jeans. On the one hand, I was able to thread myself through the briars like a needle, but on the other hand, I had to stop and dig thorns out of my legs every five minutes. It wasn’t really worth repeating. So what does today’s generation wear on the hunt? Because nice hunting clothes are expensive and my generation is broke, I’ve seen an uptick in second hand and Salvation Army camo. In general, hunting clothing is getting smarter and lighter.

Five of Our Favorite Hunting Movies

In the offseason, we find ourselves craving hunting and doing anything we can to get our fix. Some days that means sitting down and putting on our favorite hunting-themed films, trying to live vicariously through the actors on the screen. Here’s a list of just five of our favorite hunting movies.

The Hunter (2011)

A man standing in front of a mountain with people behind him.

[Image: http://www.impawards.com/]

This Australian flick revolves around a hunter who heads off to Tasmania to track the last remaining thylacine (also known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf). Martin David (played by William Dafoe) is hired to hunt down the animal for a military biotech company to ensure that no competitors will have its DNA after he acquires it. It’s a thrilling story that’ll capture your attention from the start to finish. Our favorite part is that Dafoe worked with a bush survival expert, learning to descent himself and other survival tips to prepare for the role.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

A man with a red bandana on holding a gun to his head.

[Image: http://www.impawards.com/]

Although this movie mostly takes place during the Vietnam War, it captures the serenity and brilliance of hunting in a unique way. Five friends who enjoy hunting together enlist into the chaotic world of the Vietnam War. Three of the friends (Nick, Steven, and Mike) find themselves together as prisoner of wars and try to deal with the aftermath of the camp and effects of the war overall. It’s the type of movie that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, possibly shedding a tear or two. Although hunting isn’t the main focus of the film, its significance is apparent and its implications appear throughout.

The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

Two men standing near one another with red cutting over their faces.

[Image: https://www.movieposter.com/]

Based on the true story of two lions that attacked and killed workers in Kenya while they were building the Uganda-Mombasa Railway, this movie tells an entertaining and at times frightening story. Henry Patterson is brought into the camp to try and kill the lions that are ultimately holding the project back from its completion date. Once there, he sees the havoc these lions are wreaking and works to try and contain the problem without any other casualties.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

A man in Wild West gear in the snow.

[Image: http://www.thesinsofelijahmccann.com/]

A tale of survival that’ll have you on the verge of ditching all your belongings and heading for the nearest mountain with just a single backpack in tow. It has drama, suspense, and—most importantly—hunting! Jeremiah Johnson heads West, seeking solace after the Mexican War where he becomes a full-fledged mountain man. Johnson lives life in the Rocky Mountains as a trapper where he encounters problems, some of which are predictable and others that aren’t.

Into the Wild (2007)

A boy sitting on top of an old abandoned bus.

[Image: http://www.moviepostershop.com/]

Speaking of having predictable and unpredictable issues after venturing into nature, Christopher McCandless comes face-to-face with many problems during his time as Alexander Supertramp. The movie provides a chills inducing story of a recent college graduate with a promising future that decides to donate all his money, destroy his identifying papers, and head for the open road. He encounters issues, but for the most part, the good times outweigh the bad. Until McCandless faces his final struggles in the Alaskan wilderness, that is. Throughout the movie (and book!), McCandless hunts, forages, and does what’s necessary to survive.

Don’t forget to check out our Pocket Ranger Trophy Case® mobile app before hunting season comes ‘round. Happy watching!

[Image: www.turkeydog.org]

So It Happened Again: Tips for Next Spring’s Turkey Hunt

Maybe it’s the glimmer of the gun’s metal as the sun came out from behind a cloud that caught the turkey’s eye. Maybe you switched from a light to a dark roast the night before, and the extra caffeine made you more fidgety than normal. Or maybe we turkey hunters should stop making excuses and remember some of the basics while we’re out hunting, at least for next spring.

Use Your Backpack for a Seat Cushion

It happens all the time: You stand up to relieve your aching backside only to discover that 20 yards behind you, a non-gobbling gobbler is flashing you his rear as he runs back into the woods. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to hunt effectively. For those who don’t own a turkey vest with a seat pad, a backpack stuffed with an extra sweater will do just fine.

That looks comfy! [Image: http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com]

That looks comfy! [Image: http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com]

Know Your Limits

When you can consistently place 8-10 pellets in the vital area at 40-45 yards, you’re ready to hunt. Beyond that, you risk injuring and losing a bird. Now fire the same loads at shorter distances to see what pattern you can expect.

Nice and tight [image: alandavy.wordpress.com]

Nice and tight. [Image: alandavy.wordpress.com]

Scout

Once you identify a good turkey habitat, look for tracks, droppings, and scratched out areas where birds have been feeding. Head back out at dawn the next day with a locator call, such an owl or crow call. If you get a bird to gobble, stop calling and mark it on a map. Excessive calling can make birds shy.

Obstacles

Gobblers want to strut in areas where they can be seen and easily approached by hens. Make sure there are no streams, gullies, fences, or other obstacles between you and the approaching turkey. You also want to avoid calling gobblers from a downhill position. Calling birds uphill is generally fine and in some cases preferred because it enhances visibility.

Image: www.recorder.com

Image: www.recorder.com

Silence is Golden

You have to resist the desire to fill the silence of the woods with your calls. Just because you can’t hear a bird doesn’t mean they’re not working their way towards you. Call for 5-10 minutes and then give it a good 10-15 minute rest. If the gobbler is answering your call but not closing the gap, your best strategy might be to give him the silent treatment.

Shhh! [Image: venturebeat.com]

Shhh! [Image: venturebeat.com]