Monthly Archives: October 2009

Evolution of a late adapter

To understand my father’s hesitant introduction to technology, imagine no further than that maddened feeling that haunts so many Americans each April 14 as they’re dropping an envelope in the mail with “Internal Revenue Service” written in Sharpie on the front.

Ultimately, those folks know they have to bite the bullet. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to do it minus a little kicking and screaming.

I imagine most baby boomers feel the same about all of the technology that inflicts change on things they’ve been doing all their lives. My father has a computer and even has it connected to the World Wide Web. He’s been known to grudgingly flip a few e-mails to my brothers and I scattered around the South. But technology might have finally found a fan in my father.

We now have digital trail cameras dispersed all around our property, each doing their part to set the landscape for what animals are roaming our ground. Over the course of the past six years (starting with 35mm film and graduating to digital), we have had almost as much fun getting amazing shots of deer, bear, coyote, turkeys and fox as we have actually hunting.

Coyote

A Coyote makes its way past a trail cam near my house

Someone asked me recently what the greatest piece of gear invented for hunting was. Without thinking too long, I answered the trail camera – especially since the technology has become affordable to the weekend warrior hunters (like I consider myself).

I’d love to tell you that my father has evolved into a Geek Squad-worthy adopter of technology. We’re not quite there yet! He recently let me know that he didn’t like messing with having to take all the photos off the SD cards, so he thinks it’s easier to just buy a new SD card and replace them!

Baby steps, after all. Baby steps.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What has been the greatest gear invention for common hunters to date? Add your thoughts to the comments.

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I said lurker … not looker

I’m a lurker. In the world of Web forums, that means I spend a lot more time reading than I do posting messages. It’s not that I’m completely quiet, but I’d bet that better than 85% of my time on different hunting forums is just reading what others are talking about.

It never fails that once a month you stumble upon posts from fellow outdoorsmen who want to bash celebrity hunters. The logic behind them typically either cracks me up or infuriates me enough to wonder what kind of people are sitting on the other end of computers. I read a post recently wondering if other hunters were getting sick of Michael Waddell. The preposterous argument was that Waddell was no different than other hunters so why should he be making “millions”?

Guess what, Einstein? Just the fact that he seized an opportunity to make a living at something we all do does indeed make him different than you. While there tends to be jealousy at the root of all the posts with the bashing, one has to wonder if people actually read any of their messages before they hit “POST”.

Of course, many of these posters are the ones who suddenly grab their Sherlock Holmes junior detective kits with every successful-harvest post. It drives me nuts! Hunter A posts picture of a deer he just spent all autumn chasing; Nimrod B points out in a post that the deer’s eyes look too cloudy to be shot during a morning hunt – ending the post with, “Something’s fishy.”

Give me a break.

Before my size 9 Muck Boots step down from this here soap box, let me quickly make a plea for my fellow hunter to quit whanking about cyberscouting. It sucks, yep. I too don’t really want people meeting me at 4 a.m. at my favorite duck-hunting spot. That also is why I don’t post about my favorite places. In this case, Nimrod A all but gives the GPS coordinates to his best spot with pictures in parking lots of public launches, near recognizable markers, etc. Then Nimrod A is complaining about the skybusters that are 75 yards from him the following weekend.

You can’t fault people for utilizing all available resources to improve their chances at success. You fault Nimrod, who opted to tell the world. Cyberscouting, afterall, is sort of like performance enhancing drugs for lurkers!


A pitch for Catch-A-Dream …

On the evening the 2009 World Series begins, I wanted to applaud a major leaguer who “did good” earlier today. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright this morning donated a sizeable amount of money to the Catch-A-Dream Foundation. More importantly, though, was that in doing so on ESPN’s Mike & Mike In the Morning radio show, the pesky right hander also raised awareness about a group that’s making a difference in kids’ lives.

Catch-A-Dream is among a growing group of non-profit organizations that are helping youth become exposed to the outdoors. CAD in particular grants fishing and hunting wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Think of it as a Make-A-Wish Foundation for kids that want to hunt. In fact, it’s Make-A-Wish Foundation’s national policy of not granting wishes that involve firearms (or “any sport-shooting weapon”) that helped drive the creation of CAD.

I completely understand that Make-A-Wish does many terrific things for kids. For that I applaud the organization. However, I tend to think that if I would have been faced with an illness that carried with it the ability to take my life as a youth, my dream would have included chasing one of North America’s game animals. That Make-A-Wish wouldn’t be able to grant that wish for similar kids disappoints me greatly.

I learned of the policy nearly a decade ago and recall being infuriated. I remember sitting in a park with my future wife and laying out a plan to someday create a non-profit that does exactly what Catch-A-Dream is accomplishing. Ironically, its creation by the family and friends of Bruce Brady came within months of that conversation in the park.

Here is a link to learn more about the organization and even download its donation form.

One final note about CAD … many of you might also be aware of the organization thanks to the support it receives from Drury Outdoors. Their work should be commended as well.


Happy Anniversary!

Five-hour flights across the country provide ample time for the mind to wander. Amid the journey of mine today was the realization that this week is the 13th anniversary of a monumental moment in my hunting life.

It was a Tuesday in October of 1997 when I plopped down at a table in a Creative Writing class at St. John Fisher College. Another student at the table asked if he could borrow my notes from the previous session the week prior. I’ve never been accused of being a solid note taker, but it mattered not in this case because I too had missed the last class. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to explain further why I’d be no help.

“Sorry, I wasn’t here. I was hunting the archery opener.”

The interesting part about this was the fact that I’d never before connected with the student. In fact, he was a slick-haired, preppy dresser who might only be offended by the fact I was off chasing animals. Surely he had nothing in common with this hay-seed, farm boy. Perhaps that was just enough of a reason for me to answer the way I did.

“You hunt?” he asked.

“Sure do.”

So goes my introduction to Greg Johnston. Greg has become a hunting buddy and dear friend. Rarely is there a hunting expedition that Gregor and I don’t find a way to connect on. Our wives will confirm that we likely talk on the phone some 100+ times between September and January – albeit from 500+ miles apart.

In what only can be considered an ironic moment, there happened to be a text message and voicemail on my cell phone from Greg today as my plane landed. We needed to discuss his hunt from today.

After all these years, we’re still trying to compare notes!


The anticipation of the hunt

My wife and I became parents for the first time just a whisker more than 15 months ago. The eagerness with which we waited for the arrival of our little girl was like only two other great waits that I can compare. The first is the wait for Santa Claus to visit my house as a child. The other is the merciless anticipation for an upcoming hunt.

At this moment, only 13 sunrises lay between me and the annual pilgrimage north to Scio, NY. This is my favorite trip each hunting season for a number of reasons – none of which ranks higher than the opportunity to enjoy the woods with the fellowship of my friend, Kenny. Of course, there also is the opportunity to visit my parents and friends in the homeland that helped shape my being.

The anticipation also finds its roots in the chance to make it into the woods of our family’s farm. It’s not the biggest tract of land – measuring only a few hundred acres when combining all the property – but to me it represents all that a whitetail deer stands for. The rolling hardwoods and large hay fields are dotted with the memories of some 17 years of deer hunting. The anecdotes that are a part of its history, mostly passed down by my father, date yet another 30 years beyond that.

There is the spot where I harvested my first deer (a six point), the place where I saw my first black bear and even the trail my dad and I tracked a deer I had shot the first archery season after his stroke.  The memories are truly countless and I look forward to rekindling those memories at a later time.

We often joke that I feel like I know every tree on that farm. In fact, I can say with certainty that one could blindfold me, make me dizzy and drive for an hour before dropping me off anywhere on our farm and I can tell you where I am and recite each deer encounter I’ve experienced in the area within a minute’s time.

Speaking of minutes, only 18719 to go …


My Aunt Suzy was a photo taker. Not a professional photographer in the sense that people paid her for photos, rather the family member at functions that always wanted to get everyone together for a picture. Because she could rarely be seen without her Kodak 110 camera in tow, we affectionately referred to her as “Suzy Kodak.”

One of my favorite things about being an outdoorsman is the opportunity to tote a camera along and take photos of the many encounters that happen during a hunt. No, not every encounter is with the animal of chase for that particular outing. But I’m absolutely certain that each and every time I’ve been in the woods or on the waters, I’ve been exposed to one of those images that are worthy of being archived. Of course, the invention of digital photography has made it far easier to document outdoor experiences.  The camo digital camera I carry in my hunting pack now is one that has been replaced by a more advanced version within our household.

I keep all of my outdoor photos catalogued by the hunt on an external hard drive for my computer. I often think of my future grandkids, and the hope I have that they get a chance to share my passion for the outdoors through the (literally) thousands of photos  taken while hunting.

You know, “Kodak Kurt” doesn’t sound so bad!

With that, I’m posting a photo from this morning’s hunt. The dog in the photo is “Buddy,” my hunting buddy Tony’s black lab.DSC02419


Coming Soon …

This blog will be an outlet … a place for one hobby hunter to share his thoughts, his views and his experiences from the fields, woods and waters of this country. I do not claim to know everything about hunting, or the outdoors for that matter, but I can assure you that very few people that walk this fine earth have a greater passion for spending time afield.