Monthly Archives: December 2009

Ohio changes my holiday tradition …

Don’t get me wrong. I really do enjoy the annual pilgrimage – Griswold style – to Ohio around the holidays to visit my in-laws. They’re good people and it’s nice to catch up with our extended family. And I generally like the state of Ohio. But the last decade of December’s trips across the Ohio River carried with them the added anticipation of hitting the deer woods for the state’s muzzleloader season. And deer hunting in Ohio is always worth getting excited about.

Ohio’s Wildlife Council voted in early 2009 to change the muzzleloader season to Jan. 9-12, 2010 (which, by the way, means that the 2009 calendar year did not truly have a muzzleloader season), making it the first year in many that I will not be chasing the whitetail in the buckeye state. And I’m bummed about it. There’ll be no chance to take to the field with my brother-in-law, normally our only chance to share a few hunts together all year.

According to Dave Risley, the Ohio Division of Wildlife executive administrator of wildlife management and research, “the addition of the extra weekend of gun hunting, decline in muzzleloader season harvest and the compression of the calendar, we felt that a move into January would add a little ‘downtime’ for deer hunters and deer, and reinvigorate the season.”

Each visit to this site makes me more disappointed in Ohio's decision to move its muzzleloader dates

The state’s extra weekend of hunting has seemed to work out to help the state meet its desired hunter harvest, but I’m anxious to see if the move to January will indeed pay dividends. One of those metrics for success surely is revenue from license sales and my gut tells me that this move will not help in this area. I am among the many out-of-state hunters that have forked over the $164 (the 2009 fee) to hunt in Ohio. I will not be making the purchase this year only because my schedule doesn’t jive with the state’s regulations. To the state’s defense, I could purchase my license to hunt with my bow in tow, but the investment becomes greater when facing only three days to hunt and very little pressure forcing the deer out of their nocturnal ways (especially on the heels of the state’s shotgun season).

I can’t be alone. The January muzzleloader season might do some help in getting the state’s resident hunters into the woods a few extra days, the out-of-staters coming into the state for the holidays are less likely to return in January for a three-day season. That is purely my assumption at this point, but the post-season numbers should tell us the facts.

With a couple of out-of-state trips planned for hunting in 2010, my goal is to find a way to get back in the Ohio deer woods in some capacity. Perhaps it will be an extended weekend trip during the rut or something of that nature. Regardless, this year’s trip back for the holidays is going to miss a little something.

The making of a ‘Man Cave’ …

It’s not so much a place to escape. It’s different than that. A man cave – for the outdoorsman – is a place to wrap all the goodness that is our pastime into one place making it more of a sanctuary than it is an escape!

Faced with the opportunity to create my own man cave last year, I hit some of my favorite hunting forums and blogs for inspiration on how to resurrect what would become my own Man Cave.

There are some amazing versions of man caves out there. For example, one gentleman I connected with from Ohio created a spectacular room that includes all of his mounts, top-quality furniture and top-of-the-line electronics for him and his boys to watch football on weekends. Others have the beer fridge and a chair … with nothing else! For them, their man cave is a place to chill following a hard day’s work.

Above all things, I learned in my research that a man cave needs to serve its owner’s purpose. In short order, I realized that I wanted the Cavo de Culbert version to be:
• a place to display some of the various game mounts I’ve compiled
• a place to be able to tinker with all my guns, bows and other hunting equipment
• a safe environment to house all my gear away from kids while also protecting it from intruders
• a place for my friends and me to kick back for a cold one and share memories from afield

The first thing I did to the empty room was to paint the floor with a Rustoleum epoxy floor coating. I’ve used it to paint the garages in my current and former home and thought it would be perfect for helping keep the floor of my man cave clean and bright. It’s worked great thus far.

The gun safe was the next “must-have.” I wanted my guns to be protected and safe while at the same time having something that was aesthetically pleasing. In addition to the home security system that is activated throughout all areas of my man cave, the safe gets security checked off my needs list.

Tongue-and-groove knotty-pine boards moved to the top of the list as the backdrop for the game mounts. Everyone I spoke with seemed to agree that it was easy to install and looked good following years of being in place. Framing alongside the knotty-pine wall allowed me to easily wire the entire room with 110v electricity. Luckily, my house’s breaker box happened to be in my soon-to-be man cave, making all the wiring a snap. A coat of polyurethane went over the mounted tongue and groove to add a little life to its rough color.

It took at least two nights worth of cold beer and deep thinking to decide exactly what to do with the work bench. I opted for the “bigger is better” approach and ended up making a 16-foot bench with shelves underneath for storage and peg board above for hanging tools, etc. I had initially opted to build a clothing closet until I was walking through Lowe’s and decided to purchase instead. Made out of particle board, it ended up being half the price it would have cost me to build from scratch. I keep cedar shavings in the closet to keep my hunting clothes from smelling like particle board.

Finally, I added corner shelving to the corner of my cave that filled up far quicker than I anticipated (Read: Too much stuff)! The shelves hold treestands, layout blinds, decoys and the like.

I spent the better part of three weeks working evenings on the man cave. The return has come quickly as in its first year I’ve spent far more hours in the cave than it took to build it.

NOTE: The one thing my man cave is missing is a good name. One buddy refers to it as the “He man Woman Haters Club.” I think that’s a bit harsh. Any thoughts? Leave them in the comments below. Oh, and tell me what you think of my personal version of a man cave.

Don’t use the P-word …

In developing this blog, I made it a goal to keep my thoughts and tales centered on topics that have an outdoor connection. This will be as close as I come to swaying from that.

And because I spend several days every other winter chasing wild hogs off the coast of Georgia … And because one of my best hunting buddies is a hog farmer in Iowa, I could argue that the connection remains close enough to hunting for me to blog about!

Eating pork will not give you the H1N1 (don’t call it the p-word) virus. It’s that simple. Somehow, just the unfortunate connection of the words “pig” and “swine” to the much-reported virus has put hog farming into a bad place. North Carolina is the No. 2 pork-producing state in the country and the producers that make up much of the state’s eastern region are about to lose everything. It’s a shame.

Already strapped with having to deal with higher than normal grain prices and commodity prices that are driving just the cost of business through the roof, the pork industry is reeling thanks to a media circus that has been caused by the ballyhoo associated with this crappy H1N1 (don’t call it the p-word) virus.

So what can we do about it? It’s simple. Slap more pork chops on the grill. Put a big fat pork picnic in your smoker and chop it up as barbecue. Roll pork tenderloin in foil and throw it in the oven. Or even make bacon a staple of your morning breakfast.

My family is not big – we roll only three deep. And one of those can eat no more than three ounces of pork as a toddler. That said, we’re making a commitment to eating nothing but pork as our main dish for each meal all of next week (12/14-12/19). Will it bring the pork industry out of the hole? Nope. Is it our little way of doing our part? We hope so. But imagine if 1,000 families decided to do that for a week. Or better yet, imagine if a county of 10,000 families opted to do that for a week.

The beef industry suffered a similar fate a decade or so ago when it dealt with Mad Cow Disease. It still suffers from the aftereffects of that. I know, because it directly impacted my family’s farms. Here’s hoping as many hog farmers as possible make it through this current downtime. Maybe you too can help make a little difference.


Fret no more … AHT’s 2009 Sportsman’s Gift Guide

I pity my poor wife. In fact, I feel sorry for any relative that’s tasked with purchasing a gift for me throughout the year. I’m not easy to shop for, I know that. And most of that is rooted in me already having just about anything and everything that’s associated with my favorite pastime.

Making it worse, I have a habit of simply buying the things I want, when I want them. Of course, it doesn’t help that my daily commute includes driving by the illuminated Bass Pro Shops in Concord, NC! Have you ever witnessed the attraction to a flood light that moths have? That’s sort of the same thing you can see watching my car on Interstate 85.

Thus, my family has grown accustomed to buying what many good-hearted Americans serve as gifts around the holidays … gift certificates!

In the spirit of ol’ Saint Nick, though, I thought I’d hammer out a few gift ideas for the outdoorsmen in your family this year. Send your wife, mamma, in-laws or siblings the link to this blog and you too can make sure the gift under the tree with your name on it will be something you can put to good use afield.

New Flashlight – Coming in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, the sportsman in your life can never have too many flashlights. I often think of my grandfather who had flashlights tucked in every corner of his life (Of course, he always had rubber bands available at every turn as well, but those would be a little cheap as a gift). I’ve found that you can get a great flashlight for a respectable price by doing the trip through the camping area of your local Wal-Mart. The key is to get something that’s LED and carries the highest Lumen rating as possible.

The polystinger is durable and throws a heckuva beam of light

I purchased a Coleman for under $20 that has been a great addition to my pack. For those of you looking to spend a little more than that, the Streamlight Polystinger has become a friend to this blogger as well. It comes with both wall and cigarette-lighter (AC and DC) chargers. They’re bright, but a little on the pricey side (around $75 if you shop around).

Custom Ear Plugs – I’ve just learned about a product that will make its way on my own Santa wish list this year. The Radians Custom Ear Molds ( run roughly $15 and include all the epoxy, etc. to form your own, custom ear protection without the hefty price tag.

Camera Tripod – As you’ve learned, it’s no secret that I love taking video and photos while afield. The gorilla tripod is a handy tool that can pretty much help steady your camera or camcorder to anything. Check out for different models and to learn where you can purchase.

Two-way Radios – Once a considerable investment, the price of many models have dropped out of the stratosphere to provide hunters with a great tool to communicate with their fellow hunting party members afield. My family purchased Midland 22-channel, rechargeable models this year to help get everyone on common channels that were different from the low-frequency common channels that half our county used! Do check your local game regulations to see if hunting with radios is allowed prior to buying these for your sportsman.

Knife Sharpener – Look folks, the hunter with the sharpest knife in camp is the coolest. It’s that simple. For several years, my brother and I made sharpening our knives with a Lansky sharpening kit the night before the deer opener an annual ritual. Then, of course, we’d brag to see which knife headed to the woods with the best edge! Time has had a way of helping us here too, as electric-type sharpeners that use technology to make sure your blade ends up with a 20-degree edge have come down to an affordable price (under $50). Visit to learn about several of that manufacturer’s models.

Kodak Zi8 – If you read my early-season reviews of new gadgets in my bag this year, you learned that I’m a big fan of having this alongside me afield. The handheld HD camcorder continues to impress. Trips afield are meant for making memories. Why not chronicle them easily to relive and pass on? The Zi8 is just one of the different types of cameras out there. This too is a little pricier, running in the $175 area this festive season.

Base Layer – Buy quality base layers for your hunter. There are several different manufacturers that make quality cold-weather lycra-based products. You can’t go wrong with Under Armour, but you pay for the name. Buying underwear for your hunter might seem a bit boring, but trust me when I tell you that he or she will thank you later.

Other ideas include: Shooting Stix, GPS, Boot Dryers and Smart Wool socks.

Finally, don’t forget the pooch when you’re picking out those outdoor trinkets. Santa will be getting Sage a warmer hunting vest for our trip to the coast this winter. We’re also considering getting her a teeth cleaning ($120) sometime later this month. If you’d keep that between us for the next few weeks, I’d appreciate it! The surprise is the best part.