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Sixteen Hours of Separation

Sixteen Hours of Separation

Sixteen Hours of Separation

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

My wife can attest that I don’t always posses that distinct quality, but in the month of November my patience increases – at least in the deer woods.

Up until November 15, my deer season was going so-so. I had harvested several does with no luck at punching my tag on a Hit List buck.

As you read last week here on AHT, my father tagged our number one target deer in on October 31, which was enough for me to call the season a success…even if I had to eat a tag sandwich.

I hunted hard through the early part of November, burning over a week’s vacation in an effort to try and seal the deal on a shooter buck. As the days of November ticked by, so did my chances.

With the NYS firearms season opening on November 16, I headed in for my final sit of the 2013 archery season on the afternoon of the 15th.  I got to my stand early in the afternoon and by 4 p.m. I hadn’t seen a deer.

We called my buck 'No Tail' for obvious reasons [see above].

We called my buck ‘No-Tail’ for obvious reasons [see above].

“That’s it,” I thought to myself. And then I heard the distinct sound of a deer walking.

I looked down the ridge and to my amazement, a good buck was headed my way.

In disbelief, I grabbed my BowTech and prepared for the shot. As the buck walked, I came to full draw. At 18 yards, I stopped the buck with a soft bleat. I centered my pin on his chest and let the arrow fly. It was a center punch. BOOM (fist pump, fist pump)!

'No Tail' goes down.

‘No-Tail’ goes down.

The buck bounded over to an adjacent knoll and began to go down. As the buck expired I sat down to replay what the heck had just happened. In the final half hour of the season, I had closed the deal. Suddenly all of those hours I put in setting stands, checking cameras, and scouting all seemed worth it.

I called my Dad with the good news.  After filling out my tag and collecting my buck, I headed for home to show my Dad and my 6-year-old son. Both were proud.

In our celebration and discussion, we’d lost focus of the fact that the next morning was the opening of the firearms season.

'No Tail' Hero Pic.

‘No-Tail’ Hero Pic.


Still on cloud-nine from my archery kill, I racked my brain for ideas on where to go the morning.

In a hasty, yet fateful decision, I decided that I’d sit in make-shift ground blind the next morning.

There was one buck frequenting this area that I was interested in, but surely I thought he wouldn’t show himself on opening morning. I was wrong.

The one image I captured of the deer I came to know as 'The Bonus Buck.'

The one image I captured of the deer I came to know as ‘The Bonus Buck.’

As the sun rose, I was still replaying the happenings of the night before in my head. At around 7:30 I thought I could hear a deer walking in the swale in front of the blind. I came to my feet and couldn’t believe my eyes.

There standing 30 yards from me was the exact buck I was after. I grabbed my trusty old Remington 1100 20 ga., centered my crosshairs and fired. Game over. The buck went down immediately.

‘Seriously?’ I said to myself. ‘Seriously!’ I told myself. Unreal. My season had pivoted in a matter of 16 hours.

I texted my Dad four words: ‘Well, that plan worked.’

Father & Son bonding moment.

Father & Son bonding moment.

After yet another photo session with my son, I sat down with a cup of coffee and began to reflect. Several words came to my mind: Blessed, Fortunate, Family, Persistence, and Patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Cat Tales:

This year was my 20th consecutive year of hunting the New York State firearms season. It seems like yesterday I was 16-years-old and hunting with my father and grandfather.

Grandpa died in 1998, but I will always cherish the memory of opening day of 1993.

Nov. 15, 1993

Nov. 15, 1993


On that morning a fine 8-pointer walked to me and became the first buck I’d ever kill with a gun. Grandpa was there with me that day. I also believe he was there with me this year as I harvested the buck with my gun some 100 yards from where this image was taken 20 years ago to the day.

Greg Johnston is a contributor to AHT. He is most notably known here for his weekly report on rut activity. The WNY native balances time between the woods and home where he and his wife are busy raising their two young children.

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5th Annual AHT Holiday Gift Guide for Sportsmen

It’s sort of like taxes, except instead of being a thorn in the bum, it’s welcomed by wives across the nation globe.

The annual AHuntersTales.com holiday gift guide is back! And the easiest way to get your wish list to your wife / girlfriend / both, mom, dad or anyone else frustrated by your picky hunting needs is to send them right here to this page.

Without further ado, here is the 2013 version of go-to gifts, selected after hours of consultation among the AHT staff.

Pals for the Paws
Cold feet aren’t just for nervous grooms. I don’t recall a season where I’ve hunted in colder weather consistently than during this deer season. And I have an idea for how I’m going to fix the cold feet that are often times destined during a long sit on stand. I thought I had a formula for keeping my feet toasty, but one sit in a ground blind in the snow and five degrees last month left me with a slight case of frost bite.

Thermacell Insoles

Thermacell Insoles


Check out the Thermacell remote control insoles. Available at a number of big box outdoor stores and a number of places online, these insoles are size specific and slip into your boots. The best part is you can control their use while in the stand, meaning you won’t have to deal with sweaty feet that freeze when still.

Prices very, but expect to pay around $115 for a pair of the insoles.

Start a Fire, Charge your Phone
For the outdoorsman or camper who likes all the gadgets, this one ranks right up there on the “cool” factor.

The CampSove

The CampSove

The CampStove by BioLite is not only eco-friendly, but using it can now double to charge your phone by the built-in USB hookup.

The mini-stove is only 8 1/2″ x 5″ but can boil a liter of water in less than five minutes. Another item on the pricey side, this one goes for $125 or so online.

A Dog Needs Food to Bark
I’m not sure I ever expected to have ammo on the wish list here, but times have changed. With the prices on ammo continuing to rise, and limits being placed on the volume allowed at purchase, few outdoorsmen are turning their nose to having a little extra ammo in their storage locker.

AA target loads are a safe bet for a lot of hunters

AA target loads are a safe bet for a lot of hunters


This one takes a little more work to make sure you’re purchasing the right ammo for the right guns, but it can lead to an extra wink from your significant other when done correctly. The other great part is you can customize the ammo purchase to meet your gift budget by quantity. Some target loads start at $7 and a box of hard-to-find rifle ammo will exceed $30. Mix and match to really get it right!

A Repeat Reminder
Each year, we identify a couple repeat gift ideas.
Why?

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

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

Because they’re that good and we want to remind you in case you didn’t get that gift last year. In addition to a great pair of socks (should be on the list every year), this year’s pick for repeat status is the Havalon Piranta Series Knife.

These knives are extremely handy, and a number of manufacturers have developed similar razor-style knives. I’m sure many have similar effectiveness. Regardless of the brand, this is a great tool for the hunter that finds common success afield.

The Havalon version sells for roughly $40.

Smoke Signals Make Me Happy
My wife and I comment quite regularly how surprised we are by the frequency that we use our smoker to cook food. On the heels of an all-day venison jerky making smoke festival, we have few things that have paid off over and over again with respect to how much we’ve paid for them. Our smoker has done that.

A typical box-style smoker

A typical box-style smoker


I opted for the propane fueled box style smoker, but have friends with the electric version and others with the more barrel-style original style. When used correctly, they’re fantastic for cooking all kinds of meats, vegetables, etc.

Several box stores have smokers on sale this time of year, meaning you can find one for $150 quite regularly. Well worth it. And remember to buy a bag of smoke chips if your outdoorsman doesn’t have dried hickory at his/her immediate disposal.

A Neat Meat Reminder
Admittedly, I’ve yet to read one of the books that’s on my growing “to read” list.

The Mindful Carnivore

The Mindful Carnivore

Upon learning more about the book, The Mindful Carnivore by Tovar Cerulli when reading a review earlier this year, it provoked me to add to my list and reminded me to include it in this year’s gift guide. I’ve noticed it on a couple other gift guides in 2013.

I have a couple friends who had similar searches for sustenance and it sounds like Cerulli went through a very logical experience that led him to adding meat to his previously vegetarian diet.

You can find the book on Amazon.com for under $15. I look forward to reading the book at some point this year.

Not good enough?
If this list doesn’t quench your shopping thirst, or you’ve bought everything and want to buy more, here are links to the previous four gift guides. Each has some terrific gift ideas that remain relevant and useful.

2012
2011
2010
2009

Also, I stumbled upon another gift guide on a fellow outdoor bloggers site. Al Quackenbush notes he’s a fellow Western New Yorker. For that, I’m happy to share his guide as well. Read it on his The SoCal Bowhunter site.

Happy Holidays! Remember the Reason for the Season!


‘The Show’ Stopper

The Show Hero Pic

Shooting mature deer in New York State isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. Heck, let’s face it – shooting mature deer in Iowa or Illinois isn’t easy either, but you get my drift.

That’s why I take great pride in saying that between my Dad and me, we’ve killed at least one mature buck the past five seasons.

Putting on a show.

Putting on a show.

Heading into this archery season, Dad and I had a handful of target deer, but there was one buck in particular we were hoping to get a crack at. I had nicknamed the deer ‘The Show’ after a particular series of trailcam photos captured him standing on his hind legs while working a licking branch.

Fast forward to September of this year when I pulled one of my cards only to find this same buck make reappearance. I was ecstatic.

Sept. 15, 2013

Sept. 15, 2013

He was now mature and sported a handsome Pope and Young 8-point rack. I relied heavily on my trailcams throughout October, monitoring the buck’s daylight activity.

On October 22 I got my first daylight pic of him. It was time to move in. Dad and I hunted this deer’s core area hard for the next week or so, without any success.

On the afternoon of October 30, Dad texted me around 3 p.m. to say he hadn’t seen a single deer all afternoon. Things soon changed. About a half-hour later I got a call from him saying that he’d just shot ‘The Show.’ We were pumped. Dad marked the blood and returned home where he waited for me to return from work.

'The Show' bedded with a hot doe less than 24 hrs. before Dad's encounter with him.

‘The Show’ bedded with a hot doe less than 24 hrs. before Dad’s encounter with him.

We gave the deer roughly three hours as Dad was concerned the shot may have been a touch back. When we initially took up the trail, I was astonished at the amount of blood. It was as if someone had walked through the woods dumping red Kool-Aid from a gallon jug. But just as the trail began, it ended.

The blood trail.

The blood trail.

I was confident the deer was liver hit and in fear of us bumping him, we backed out. I had to work the next morning and get my kids to school, so Dad took up the search by himself. It wasn’t long before my phone vibrated. It was Dad. He had located the buck, but the deer wasn’t yet expired.

Dad knocked an arrow and moved in for a final shot. We had done it – Dad had done it. Our number one hit list buck was down. I wanted to jump through my skin with excitement.

A mature NYS buck.

A mature NYS buck.

I returned home that night just in time to snap a few nice photos of Dad and his trophy.

My Dad is 66-years-old and has overcome more than most. He suffered a severe back injury in 1995 and has fought through numerous other ailments including broken bones and most recently a detached retina in his right eye.

To say that I’m proud of him would be an understatement. Having him shoot our number one hit list buck gives me more pleasure than I ever would have if I had tagged the buck myself.

Next week on AHT read how my slow season picked up in a matter of 16 hours.


Legacies Left: Sage (2003-2013)

She filled the role of dog very well. Forever labeled “man’s best friend,” she was absolutely that.

When reflecting on the legacy of my faithful yellow lab though, it’s the “friends of this man” that her paw print has left that showcases the remarkable life of this dog.

KJCs Sage Brooke Athena (2003-2013) "Sage"

KJCs Sage Brooke Athena (2003-2013)
“Sage”

Sage left us yesterday, November 23, 2013, after a short battle with what our vet believes to have been a brain tumor.

If friendships were to be plotted like a family tree, there are so many branches in my life that would connect to a trunk like that of a century-old oak tree.

And that trunk, with its roots, would be Sage.

And to think that she was able to do that in 10 short years.

Ric Aikman, Richard Faulkner, Tony Hawkins, Brad Taylor, John Comey, Chris Tester, Jason Watkins, Keith Trexler, Cam Watson, Mike Parker, Steve Ledford, Tara McCreedy, Jim Swart, Robbie Julian and on and on and on.

Some of those folks are some of my dearest friends. Without Sage, I’d know zero of them. Not one.

The affect she made on friends I already knew, or would find without her help, is remarkably deep too.

We didn’t have a hunting show and quit running hunt tests before Sage was 3-years old, but her impact was far reaching. The short notes and texts that came to my phone yesterday, many toting “Remember When” stories, helped ease a lot of pain losing a dog can create.

There were her first retrieves and the retrieves she made of “first ducks” for no fewer than three youth hunters. Trips to the coast where she refused to let cold January weather stop her from her favorite hobby. The retrieving demonstrations for bystanders awed by a working dog, and even a few months of joining Burgin Hardin and me in a downtown Charlotte office. Neighbors and friends considered her part of their lives.

She was amazingly versatile.

The texts and e-mails that came in didn’t have line of sight to some of my favorite memories of Sage. You see, for as much as she was a great hunting companion – one that was limited only by the flaws of her trainer – her best role was that of our family dog.

My wife and I were damn near newlyweds when Sage became our biggest responsibility. For five years as our “only child,” she was a great test for us becoming parents. We’ll never forget those annual Christmas card photo shoots and those funny birthday hat pictures each time Sage celebrated another year.

For some reason, she loved the feel of a curtain on her back. We called her “Sister Sage” when she sat in those window curtains as they resembled a nun’s veil flowing over her head.

Never forgotten will be those on-the-road phone calls from my wife imploring me to command Sage to “drop” over the speaker phone in order to end a game of chase with a sock, a toy or whatever Sage had decided to run around with that day!

Countless “Marley and Me” instances evolved into her serving the role of protector, for my wife while I was traveling and for my kids as they entered our world. I’ve heard of other dogs acting like she did, but it was incredible to see Sage lay in front of the nursery door for both of our children as infants. Their cries were met by her pacing near my wife and me, all the while making sure we knew our attention was requested.

Enough cannot be said about having your best friend meeting you at the door after work, unable to care less about how your day was and hoping only that she could find a way to serve you. The wagging tail said everything you needed to hear.

Today I spent some time packing up a number of her things. It’s not as though I’m trying to remove her completely from our lives. There are too many great memories to make that remotely possible.

However, each time I walked by a dog dish or saw a retrieving bumper in the garage, it led to a great deal of sadness. Few were more sorrowful and long than the 21-step walk I made this morning to retrieve my paper. That’s a job Sage relished for the better part of the last 300 or so Sundays.

I’ve been asked several times if we are ready to get another dog. We’re not yet. We definitely will be at some point, but our lives have become a bit hectic as our young children become more active. For now, we will chip away at the sadness knowing full well the memories will turn at some point from tears to smiles.

Thank you, Sage, for being my best friend. Thank you for leaving an indelible mark on our family. Thank you for making so many lives, so much better.


Never How You Want to Find Them

As I found him.

Where I found him

My fears had come true. It was May 11, 2013 and I was out chasing spring gobblers in Upstate New York when I stumbled upon him. It was the end of the mystery – I now knew what had happened to this buck 8 months prior.

It’s something we as hunters never want discover, but unfortunately we do from time to time. Finding a dead rotten buck is never a pleasant sight, especially when it’s a deer you recognize. It’s a theme that many deer hunters experience, we focus in on a particular buck only to have the animal disappear for one reason or another. Such was the case here.

I had captured several trailcamera photos of this buck back in mid-September. They weren’t the best quality images, but I saw enough of the deer’s antlers to interest me. I knew the buck was a definite up-and-comer and I looked forward to monitoring his progress and finding him back the following season.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

The 2012 hunting season came and ended without a single sighting of this buck.

The next time I would lay yes on him would be that warm May morning. The buck lay dead nearly a mile from where my Bushnell Trophy Cam had captured those images of him back in September.

It’s always a bitter-sweet moment when you discover an animal like this. On one hand you’re relieved that you know what happened to him and on the other; you’re disappointed and saddened that he’s gone and won’t be around for the upcoming season. And then there’s always the question of how the animal died.

G5 T3 - Illegal in NYS.

G5 T3 – Pokes out from bone.

I began inspecting the 8-pointer for clues as to what may have lead to his death, and there in pain sight was the answer. A G5 T3 Broadhead was wedged in to the buck’s right shoulder blade. The finding left little doubt that the deer had been shot by a fellow archer and never recovered – most likely because the arrow never penetrated the deer’s vitals.

This story would end here if I lived in Texas or Illinois, but I don’t. I reside and hunt in New York State. I tell you that to tell you this: G5’s T3 Broadheads are illegal for hunting purposes in NYS.

A quick check of the NYS Department of Conservation’s website will tell you that ANY barbed broadhead is illegal. Period.
broadhd

Image if T3 - illegal in NYS.

Image of G5 T3 – illegal in NYS.

Here’s how the DEC defines a barbed broadhead: “A barbed Broadhead is one in which the angle formed between the trailing or rear edge of any blade and the shaft is less than 90 degrees.”

Clearly the T3 fits this description.

I’m unsure of who shot the buck – and to be honest, I don’t really care, but may I suggest that he or she pay a visit to http://www.dec.ny.gov prior to heading out to the local pro shop to stock up on next season’s broadheads.

As for the buck, I salvaged his head and plan to do a european mount on him.

It’s a shame really, but at least I now have answers to my questions.

Mystery solved.


A Day in the Life … of a College Hunter

By Jake Ray
Contributing Writer

I traded my Nike frees for camo boots.

Jake Ray in his normal college attire

Jake Ray in his normal college attire

I traded my flat-billed Cleveland Indians ball cap for a fitted camo Team Realtree hat.

I traded my backpack and books for a backpack chair and a turkey decoy.

I traded my Under Armour hoodie and Nike shorts for a camouflage coat and pants.

I traded my pencil and pen for a slate and box call.

I traded in my beats by Dre headphones for my shotgun.

And I traded going to work and class to go hunting.

Jake Ray transformed into hunter!

Jake Ray transformed into hunter!


Going to school in Ashland, Ohio, the home of Ashland University (an Amish community), I am not far from fields, woods and animals.

Hunting is a part of people’s lives here. On campus, it is not unusual to see a camo hat, camo backpack, or even a horse and buggy riding up Claremont. Ashland is also home to Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters. This is great for me because it’s a place where I can go and get away from everything – be in an atmosphere that I am comfortable in.

Being here makes me feel at home. Hunting and being in the outdoors has been a part of my family for a long time. This made coming to college easier. Sharing hunting stories, getting permission to hunt on friends’ land, all of this made the transition easier.

The view from the field

The view from the field


Being in school from August to May, I am in Ashland for both major hunting seasons. Even though I go home on the weekends to hunt with family, I have been hunting in Ashland a couple of times. In Ashland, I do not hunt on a lot of land, only six acres, but it’s hunting. Any land is better than none and hunting is, well … hunting!

Hunting has been a way for me to release stress and just get away from the hustle and bustle of the college atmosphere.

I am not a typical college student. I don’t party. I don’t drink. I am in bed before midnight almost every night. I get my work done on time, I study, and I don’t procrastinate.

A lot of other students would dread getting up before the sun rises to go sit in the woods and be quiet for 3 or 4 hours. No Instagram. No Facebook. No Twitter. I don’t care about any of that. I love it.

Ready for business.

Ready for business.


Hearing the woods wake up and seeing what our wonderful God has created is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Because of circumstances, I was not able to hunt in Ashland the opening week of Ohio turkey season. But I did go back home and hunt on land I am very familiar with.

My dad and I had built a turkey blind the week before, using the knowledge of what the turkeys did last year. This is the spot I sat – my hunch was right. It wasn’t the big double bearded Tom I was looking for, but seeing turkeys made the day worth it. The first one I saw was a hen that I called back and forth in. It came and went with no problem.

About an hour and a half later, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a Jake with a hen behind it. They came up the same way the first hen did. I called to them, hoping to lure the Jake to my decoy. It didn’t work, but it did pull the second Jake that I did not seen right to my decoy.

My heart was racing.

Yes, it was only a Jake, but this happens to me every time I get a chance to bag an animal. The Jake was 15 yards in front of me. My safety was off . . . but I went home empty handed. Right after I decided to take this turkey, there was a hen about 30 yards past the gobbler in front of me that made three short “clucks.”

I froze.

I let the Jake walk away hoping for this hen to bring a Tom into shooting range. She didn’t. I didn’t see a turkey the rest of the morning. I had the opportunity to take a bird, but I passed – the wrong decision. It is okay. That’s why it is called “hunting” and not “killing.”

No turkey or a tagged bird in the truck, but it was a day I got to spend in one of my favorite places – the woods. A day in the woods is never a day wasted.

Yes, I could have slept in. Yes, I could have eaten a good breakfast and worked on homework. Yes, I could have gone to class.

But I didn’t. I went hunting.

___

Jake Ray is a rising junior at Ashland University in Ohio


Outdoor Dream Foundation Gives Utah Youngster Memorable Florida Hunt

By Billy “Catfish” Parker
AHT Contributor

I wanted to share a hunt I took last month with an awesome, 13-year-old young man named Wyatt Enman from Utah. Below are some pictures from our Outdoor Dream Foundation hunt that took place March of 2013 in Florida.

Wyatt with his gator!

Wyatt with his gator!

We went alligator hunting in Avon Park Air Force Range. It’s a 106,000-acre military training facility located in Polk and Highlands counties in south central Florida. The facility provides hunting and fishing opportunities to the public and military personnel.

Kurt Olsen, supervisor of forest management and outdoor recreation for Avon Park, managed the hunt. Doc Crews and his family offered up their services for a turkey and hog hunt, a place to stay and so much more. We had an awesome time!

Wyatt has a disease called Neurofibromatosis usually referred to as NF1. He suffers from tumors on his spine, tailbone and brain and the likeliness of him getting better is not so. This is a terminal disease.

The author (second from L) is joined by Wyatt and others who helped make his hunt memorable.

The author (second from L) is joined by Wyatt and others who helped make his hunt memorable.


Wyatt had a lot of fun on our Florida hunt. We hunted turkeys and hogs along with the alligator he harvested. He has a great attitude. We joked around and played pranks with everybody in camp. He never complained or played with his phone. He was ready to go hunting every morning at 5:30 a.m. with a smile on his face and all of his gear in tact!

He likes to cage fight with his big brother and his new passion is hunting. He loves dogs of all kinds and he spends a lot of time with his nephew Gauge. Wyatt is a great kid with an unfortunate disease. I say a prayer for him daily to experience life to its fullest. It was a real honor to hunt with Wyatt.

I’ll never forget that look on his face when he heard his first turkey gobble and especially the look he had on his face when that alligator exploded out of the water and headed right at us.

The author and Wyatt checking out his gator!

The author and Wyatt checking out his gator!


A special thanks to everyone who helped with the hunt. Brandon who ran the camera, Henry Barnett, South Carolina game officer and just a great guy who volunteered his time and efforts for the trip, Doc Crews and the entire Crews family for the great hospitality, everyone at Avon Park Air Force Range, Outdoor Dream Foundation and “Hank Parker 3D” sponsors. You all are awesome and we cannot do what we do without your help.

Look for this hunt to air during our 2013 TV season on Hank Parker 3D.

Life is short. Enough said.


Catfish Parker makes up 1/3 of “Hank Parker 3D,” a popular outdoor television show that airs on NBC Sports, Pursuit Channel and Wild TV. Catfish is joined on the program by his father Hank Parker, and brother Hank Jr. Learn more at www.HankParker3D.com