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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Exercise the Ol’ Fashion Way – Chasing Rabbits

My feelings on rabbit hunting weren’t firmly in place until college.

While I managed to pop a few bunnies here and there as a teen on our farm, it wasn’t until I met two beagles named Flash and Barney while away at school that I found out just how enjoyable it can be to round-up rabbits.

Now I just wish I could do it more often.

My brother-in-law Jeff Albaugh, and his son, Brock, allowed me to join them (and their beagle Abbie) for a holiday hunt last weekend and it brought back a lot of the memories from those rabbit hunts way back when.

We opted to take along a couple handheld cameras in order to make a blog post out of the hunt. Have fun watching it, if for no other reason than you get to see me in a funny hat.

Here’s hoping you all have a great start to the New Year!

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Further Gun Control Doesn’t Add Up

As my dad tells it, he was amid a normal service call in the fields of one of his best farming customers. This day was pretty ordinary except he had my cousin Richie, who was no bigger than a blade of timothy grass, along for the ride.

Then ordinary turned anything but.

With his focus squarely pointed toward the mechanical task at hand, a wack job with a loaded shotgun pointed it square at my dad’s head, threatening to pull the trigger at any moment. The tripped-out gunman, who turned out to be the son-in-law of the farmer, was certain that my dad was on the property stealing.

He was not.

And if the farmer wasn’t home to disarm the gunman after several intense minutes, there stands a strong likelihood I wouldn’t be here.

My dad, a concealed weapons permit holder in one of the most difficult states to be so, was able to have a weapon with him for every service call from there on out.

I pride myself on being open minded. And I’ve heard a lot in the last eight days about folks wanting to talk about gun control.

Let’s do it. I’m more than happy to converse about it. Part of engaging in the talk about gun control comes with the responsibility to get educated about the facts.

None of my arguments are new – many of them are circulating media channels and social media networks in unprecedented fashion. Very few are as powerful to me than the fact that our Commander in Chief does not spend any waking moment without armed security protecting his life.

That luxury is more than justified.

But any argument to reduce my ability to protect myself, is to say that my life is less important than the President’s. That very well could be true. My mama might beg to differ, just as I can assure you that I will utilize whatever means possible to protect my children. To me, they are the most valualbe lives on this earth.

I do not own any of the oft-reffered to “assault-type” guns. My reason is simple. The legal versions of these guns do not provide any advantage for me from several of the semi-automatic weapons I own when it comes to protecting my family. If they were to provide additional value on that front, you could bet your bottom dollar I would have one.

Why?

The evoloution of evil is scary. Anyone who thinks greater government meddling in gun rights will keep nimrods, or persons outside of their normal capacities, from performing evil acts is simply ignorant. Any further restrictions are only mandating the means for law-abiding citizens to react to that evil.

Among many of the things that still aren’t adding up to me is the fact that every single terrorist who performed the evil acts at schools in acts that are gaining media attention of late, were breaking the law the moment they stepped foot in an educational building with a weapon. THEY WERE BREAKING THE LAW. How will stricter gun control stop them from doing those hateful acts?

I’m all for talking about gun control. All I ask is that those talking come armed with the facts. Far too much is riding on it.


My Formula For Not Keeping Score

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The question is better than the answer I told him. My friend had stopped over to the house to take a look at the buck I had harvested earlier that day. That’s a nice buck Greg, he said. What does he score? I haven’t put a tape to him I said, and I’m not sure I ever will.

The buck, a big 9-pointer with a small G5 on his left side that could possible make him a ten, was one of the heaviest racked New York State bucks I had ever killed in my 20-year plus whitetail hunting career.

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I had anchored the buck on the afternoon of Nov. 19 with a Winchester slug fired from my Remington 1100 Special. The encounter happened by chance, as I ascended to my stand for the afternoon hunt and spotted the buck standing in a nearby CRP field. A few shots from the stand and a finishing shot from the ground, and the buck was mine for good.

After admiring my kill, my buddy’s question really got me thinking. How do we as hunters really value our trophies? Is score the end-all, be-all in the whitetail woods? Gosh, I hope not. I’ve never been big on score; in fact I’ve never had any of my deer officially scored. That’s just not me. I hunt mature deer, period.

Why, you ask? My answer is pretty simple really, I feel putting a label/score on a deer diminishes the hunt I had for him. Personally, I like to let the memory of the hunt marinate in my thoughts a while. It’s kind of like placing a back-strap in a bag of spiedie sauce for the weekend. Follow me? You have to let it sink in. To me, slapping a number on a trophy buck too quickly devalues the animal.

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Now having said that, I recognize the fact that The Pope and Young Club and the Boone and Crockett Club set whitetail records based on the score of a buck’s antlers size. My fear however is that in the new-aged world of whitetail hunting with so much emphasis being placed on harvesting trophy deer, the sport of hunting is getting lost in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with and practice Quality Deer Management. I enjoy hunting big bucks and like killing them even more, but does the score of a deer inflate or lessen the worth of the animal or hunter? I say no.

I embrace and cherish the sport of whitetail hunting. I live and breathe whitetails. Anyone who doubts this fact can ask my beautiful wife or taxidermist. I just don’t feel we as hunters should base a trophy on a series of numbers.

What say you?

Cat Tales:

I’d like to give a shout out to my Dad who spent the majority of these past summer months conducting a Timber Stand Improvement Project on our property. Dad and I are committed to growing big deer, but with two young children and a full-time job, much of the grunt work gets left to him. He rarely disappoints. Thanks Dad!

I’d also would like to publicly congratulate my friend and good hunting buddy, John Koska who put the hammer down on this mature 8-pointer while hunting my property December 1st.

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I cannot tell you how many bucks John has passed over the years on our farm looking for the right deer to take. This guy seemed like a fine candidate. Way to go John!


4th Annual AHT Gift Guide for Hunters

Being recognized as an avid outdoorsman by those who know you comes with it the responsibility of serving as the gift idea source for any of my friends and family shopping for the hunter on their list.

It’s a role I take great pride.

And for the last four holiday seasons, I’ve been able to convince those shoppers to go beyond the “it’s the thought that counts” and buy something their hunter or huntress will appreciate – and for goodness sake use!

With that, I give to you the 2012 edition of the AHT Gift Guide, a collection of products that I think make great additions to the accoutrement pile of your favorite hunter.

Havalon Piranta Series Knives
Knives are not new to our list, but this is a new style.

Havalon's Piranta Series Knives come in a few different colors

Havalon’s Piranta Series Knives come in a few different colors

These razor-blade precision knives are lightweight and make for a fantastic wingmate when skinning downed game. Having one in your hand when you’re caping an animal prior to taking it to the taxidermist cuts time and energy and makes life downright easier. These are available at most outdoor stores and typically run $40.

Extra Juice for that Phone
Having a phone alongside you in the stand has become a must for most outdoorsmen.

The popular mophie, which I use while hunting

The popular mophie, which I use while hunting

In addition to the increased safety (always have it where you can reach it if you were dangling by a safety harness) a phone provides, it’s a great communication tool so that you can connect with your hunting buddies. It also allows you to stay in contact with work if you happen to be (a-hem) out sick that day. The problem is you don’t see too many stands with a cell tower plopped next to them, meaning poorer signals often times drain your phone’s battery life. Thus, having an extra power source for your phone can be a handy resource. Among the more popular is the mophie charger shown in the picture. When charged, it can often times double your battery life from the stand. There are plenty of others available (make sure you buy the one right for your hunter’s phone), and the price for these typically run $80. You can find them at most department stores with electronic sections, or at your popular online retailers.

Keep your Gloves on to Text
One of my favorite hunting cartoons I saw this year was of two hunters complaining via text message that they’re not seeing any deer with deer running in front of them while they’re staring at their phone screen!

Gloves made to help you keep typing on your touch phone without taking your gloves off!

Gloves made to help you keep typing on your touch phone without taking your gloves off!

Often times I picture me and my hunting buddies as those hunters! That said, my buddy Jason helped me learn about a pair of thin layered gloves by Red Head that have metallic-like tipped thumb and index fingers to allow you to type on your touch phone while you text. They work! And they’re not too pricey at $14. You need to buy this particular pair at Bass Pro Shops, which owns the Red Head brand.

Safety Harness
This is another return gift to our list, but that’s because safety harnesses have come a long way in recent years with their overall comfort and ease of use.

The Spider system

The Spider system

While still pricey for many models, the newer designs allow you go comfortably wear outer layers over top of the harness and still achieve maximum comfort. Among the more popular designs this year are the Live Wire systems by Spider. These typically range in price from $110-$140 and come in popular sizes from youth to big fella. Dick’s, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, Academy Sports and Bass Pro Shops (among many others) all carry several models.

How far is that from here?
If your hunting giftee was seen kicking up dust and cussing like a sailor this archery season, it could be because he or she missed a deer by misjudging the distance of a shot. It happens. A lot.

A popular model among the higher priced variety of rangefinders

A popular model among the higher priced variety of rangefinders

The price on range finders has come down significantly in recent years and there are a number of affordable, and very effective models now on the market. In a discussion recently amongst hunting buddies, we all agreed that it might be one of the most “necessary” pieces of equipment we take hunting with us these days. And it makes for a nice gambling tool to see how far different things are from your inlaws picture window if things get a little boring around the holiday dinner! New models have different margins for errors and long-distance capabilities, and are available for anywhere from $80 to several hundred dollars. Do a little research online to find the best fit for your wallet.

McAlister does it right
Among my favorite outdoor purchases in 2012 forced me to include it into the Gift Guide.

The heavy jac from McAlister

The heavy jac from McAlister

McAlister makes a waterproof hunting jac / shirt that I personally field tested in cold, wind and rain in 2012. And I’m pleased to say it passed easily. I ended up purchasing both the lightweight and heavyweight versions of the shirt for different hunting conditions. They’re extremely comfortable and have several pockets for phones, shells, etc. They are typically $75-$100 each depending on weight of insulation and available at places like Mack’s Prairie Wings or several online retailers.

The ol’ standbys
Try as I may, I decided to go against my conventional gut and include a couple of items that have been on the AHT Gift Guide the last several years. Why? Because they shouldn’t be overlooked as a gift for a hunter if he or she doesn’t already have one. They’re becoming (or in one case have become) great tools to help enhance the hunting experience.

Rarely do I, or any of my hunting buddies, go afield without some video recording device in tow. While I personally carry a Kodak Zi8 most of the time, there are a number of popular models available.

The Hero 2 by GoPro

The Hero 2 by GoPro

The GoPro HD Hero 2 has to be one to consider thanks to its quality and durability. As I write this, the Hero 3 also has made its way to the shelves of most retailers. They typically run $200 (Hero 2) to $300 (Hero 3) but offer a few updates in the newer version to make it worth considering.

Finally, I’m not sure we’ll ever take the idea of a trail camera off of our gift guide list! Their functionality continues to rise at the same rate their price continues to drop.

The Truth Cam 35 Ultra by Primos

The Truth Cam 35 Ultra by Primos

You can buy a fantastic trail camera with great battery life for under $100. That seems almost unheard of when thinking back just a few short years ago when the 35mm film versions were several hundred dollars. If your hunter doesn’t have one, it’s a great toy to buy him or her.

And if you don’t feel like spending more than $10, consider hand warmers, gloves or a nice bottle of scent eliminator. They may not be flashy ideas, but I’ll bet they get used. For past gift guides, click here.

Happy Holidays all!