Monday, February 2, 2015

Band-aids for Hearing Aids ...

 ... this lesson I learned the expensive way (hunting tip for you; expensive lesson for me):  secure your hearing aids (or eyeglasses) with a Band-Aid or tape.  Going thru brush in our deer-hunting area a small twig or something plucked a hearing aid out of my ear.  We searched in vain afterward and (of course) didn't find it.  It cost $305 to replace.  Ouch!  At least it was less than having to buy a brand new one.  After getting it replaced I walked in the woods in utter fear I'd lose another one ... or I didn't wear them at all (and thus missed hearing things).  Then it occurred to me that I could avoid such fear and grief by simply taping the devices to my skin.  In the picture shown I use a small Band-Aid.  Tape also works, of course.  I prefer to tape higher (than in the photo), near the top of the ear, at the point most likely to get snagged.  Yeah, you might think it looks a bit goofy to have a Band-Aid in your ear, but I assure you - the other hunting stuff you have on probably makes you look far goofier.

Of course this would also work for eyeglasses.  I wish I'd taped my eyeglasses on an elk hunt in Idaho a while back.  I found the glasses, eventually, but having my glasses plucked from my face as I was pursuing bleating elk ... busted my pursuit!


Friday, January 16, 2015

mixing it up ...


I asked Linda to pick me up from work a few minutes early to get the jump on the fast diminishing daylight this time of year.  On the drive home she told me of her escapades during the afternoon; as we pulled in the driveway I said, “Let’s quick put on our boots and hunt!  We can’t get something sitting at home watching tv.”  Linda got her boots on a bit faster than I, so I told her, “Don’t wait for me; head to the `T’; I will do the loop and see if I can push something to you.”  (What we had been trying so far during the season wasn’t working, so I was setting her up in an ambush situation.)  I finished getting my boots on, started my `Run’ on my Strava app, and headed out the back door and down the trail across our back yard toward the utility right-of-way and forest beyond (... perhaps thirty seconds behind Linda). 

As I reached the end of the yard my subconscious noticed a doe staring at me over on the right.  I’m not even hunting yet.  I looked over, and, sure enough, a nice doe standing in the Right-of-Way.  I nocked an arrow and let fly.  The red-lighted nock traced the path to the deer and stopped with a solid hit to the front of the deer’s body.  She turned to run but collapsed to the ground and thrashed about.  A second deer, beyond the first, bounded for cover. 

After a few moments of thrashing around, the deer broke the arrow and managed to get up, and `run off’ down the Right-of-Way. 

I figured I had a wounded deer – shoulder shot – assuming I broke a front shoulder. I did not pursue. 

I would need help tracking the deer, and was a bit worried it would start raining, obliterating a blood trail, so I texted Robert that may need his help.  I would have let Linda continue hunting, but figured I would need her help, also, and, intending to tell I got one I texted …

5:18 [to Linda]

                You just got a doe … wait 5 min and slowly come back to right of way.  Deer is wounded.

5:19 [Linda to Jeff]


5:20 [to Linda]


5:20 [Linda to Jeff]

                A scenario?

By accidentally typing `You’, I had Linda thrown way off.  She figured I was giving her a teaching scenario.  She assumed I was still at the house.

5:21 [to Linda]

                I shot a doe …

                I not you

5:21 [Linda to Jeff]

                Just now?

5:21 [to Linda]


5:21 [Linda to Jeff]


Somehow the conversation turned way too complicated.  But I needed Linda’s help.

I went down to my arrow.  It was broken off near the tip.  It had deep red blood, and hair, the length of the arrow excluding the vanes.  A blood trail led down the Right-of-Way.  I could see the brush thrashing near the bottom.  I backed out.

I needed Linda … she had not returned.

5:29 [to Linda]

               I need you.  Come to the right of way where you started.

She tarried …

 … [to Linda]

                Get [the fuck back here!]

She finally returned, not understanding the urgency.

Robert and James also showed up, plus Robert’s dog.  I backed us up some more, explained the situation, and showed concern about the dog.  The deer was hit, but very much alive.  I didn’t want us, or a dog, to push her away.  We assessed the weather situation, and as it was apparent that rain was not imminent, the immediacy of chase passed, and I decided to let the deer lay, maybe die, or at least stiffen up. 

I did not want to lose this deer.  And this was a situation where I could, so Robert and I, with James and Linda, prayed for successful recovery. 

Robert suggested we wait an hour.

Linda and I went up to the house and had cheese and crackers while we waited.

And I prayed again with Linda.

An hour passed, and we returned to my arrow.  A pair of eyes returned the beam of my Urban 650 bicycle light from the bottom of the right-of-way.  I wanted to wait some more.  We backed out.  What I did not want to do was push the wounded deer away, never to see it again.

After another half hour or so we returned.  I put Linda in a shooting position in the Right-of-Way, and I decided to take my bike trail around to try and block any escape.  But I couldn’t determine the deer’s location, so backed out, and returned to Linda.  I decided we would both approach the deer straight on.  I got to a place where I had a clear shot.  The second arrow dispatched her quickly.


After-action notes:

 1.       While waiting for the deer to stiffen up, I stopped the Strava app.  My `run’ had only 2 min. of moving time, covered 0.2 miles, with an elevation gain of 40, and I burned up 49 calories.  I am sure that dragging the deer up the right of way, and pre-butchering in the back yard, burned up far more.

2.       I had to report to Linda, as she was only just ahead of me across the Right-of-Way, that the deer I shot probably watched her walk right on past. 

3.       So, we mixed it up.  What we were trying for weeks hadn’t worked, so we tried something different.  And though what we intended to work this time didn’t, something else did! You can’t get a deer if you don’t try.

4.       My first shot was with my center pin, for 25 yards.  I hit a bit high.  I went back later and ranged the shot:  25 yards.  Instead of hitting and breaking a shoulder, the arrow went into the vertebrae, with the broadhead sticking just far enough out the other side as to pierce the skin (and cause havoc as the deer thrashed).  I could not find the second arrow, a clean pass-through.

5.       This adds to our premium meat supply; yum, yum.  I tend to agree with the Native Americans on the subject … “Why would you eat a cow?”

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Creek Crossing ...

Creek Crossing …

 I would much rather deliberately get a little wet, than try and stay dry, and get really wet, or bruised, or really hurt.

Crossing a creek is a potential hazard we often take for granted.  And the smaller the potentially more hazardous.  Large creeks, streams, or rivers make us stop, and assess, while smaller ones just seem to be in the way, something to quickly get over, and be on our way.  We also naturally don’t want to get wet, and so, in our haste, to get across quick, and stay dry, we invite fall, injury, and damage to or loss of equipment. 


When it comes to creek or stream crossing, here is what goes on inside my head: “I would rather get wet, than hurt.”  Too often, in an effort to stay dry, we try too-big of a leap, or try to cross on logs.  The problem with `leaping’ is that the thing we are `leaping to’, a log, a rock, etc., may be unstable, or surprisingly slippery.  And with a leap we have more momentum, and more difficulty correcting. 

So, here is the deal:

1. Pick a path across the stream that allows slow, steady movement across stable objects (rocks, sand, gravel, cobbles, etc.).  If you are moving slow, and something does move under your feet, you can correct. 

2. Pick a place across the stream where if you do fall, you don’t fall far.

3. Do not try to cross logs.  Logs without bark can be VERY slippery when wet.  And even if they are dry, your boots or shoes may not be.  Logs with bark might be better, except that if the log is across the creek, it is probably dead, and the bark beginning to detach from the tree trunk.  Importantly, logs are higher off the stream bed.  So, if you fall (and you will!), you have higher to fall.

4. You can take your shoes and socks off, to keep them dry … but, those rocks are a lot harder, and sharper, against your bare feet!  (If you really want dry feet, carry extra shoes just for stream crossings.)

5. As you chart your way across the stream, be aware of `contingency steps’ … where you will put your foot next if the first place you try does give way or is too slippery.


Don’t try to be a super athlete, long, or high-jumper at a stream crossing.  You will only get hurt, or break stuff, AND STILL GET WET.

6. Walking sticks: I am not a fan of walking sticks, but for crossing streams with considerable current, they can be a must.  But a good camera tripod also works.  Do NOT use a stick from the ground that could break in use … and you’d be worse off than without one.

7. Finally,

  ... for big streams, where getting seriously wet is unavoidable, make sure you have a plan to get warm and dry on the other side.



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Southwest Alabama ...

Southwest Alabama was not what I expected.  Instead of swamp land, ... conifers, not growing naturally, but in various stages of maturity in various plantings, many in neat lines and tightly spaced.  Will dropped me off alongside a dense stand of such, and pointed to a lane.  “The shooting house is down at the end of the lane, just to the left.”  I looked down the lane, which was like looking down a utility tunnel in the basement of a large building, so dense the trees.  And though mid-day, the trek down the lane was in near darkness.  But sure enough, once to the end, I was back in daylight, a small shooting house to my left, and green field beyond.




This field was smaller than the first.  It was mid-day.  There was talk of a storm coming in, so perhaps the deer would move well before nightfall.  I got settled in for the long afternoon.  In these shooting houses at the ends of green fields one cannot `want’ a deer into view, or `will’ a deer into view; one can only wait.  Wish all you want, it takes time.  I couldn’t text; we were in a phone-dead zone.  I didn’t bring a computer, or book.  All I could do was wait, and best yet, to learn to enjoy it. 

I think the giant-size Stanley thermos is awesome for such afternoons, and I sure enjoyed mine – full of strong, black coffee.


A doe walking along the west edge of the field.  Would she come in? She disappeared.  Then she appeared in the field.  More movement.  A second deer, and even a third, still in the trees. 

Will said that if a doe comes into the field, `wait’.  `Wait ten minutes’.  I waited.  The second deer came into the field.  Bigger, greyer.  A buck!  I was worried I would be detected, maneuvering for a shot, trying to get a steady sight picture.   The third deer was not visible.  I waited long enough.  Not ten, but perhaps one (minute).  The bigger deer was quartering toward me.  It was a good shot, especially if I was not as steady as I’d like. 

Bang.  The deer collapsed.  The others bounded off. 

I walked out to my prize.  Big … doe!  What I had mistaken for antlers were not. 


She appeared to be alive so I dispatched her with knife to the throat, cautiously, conscious of what a thrust of a hoof might do to me.

I couldn’t report my success in the dead zone.

I dragged the deer off the field and to a stream bank to the west, and proceeded to do my `thing’.  Will had not seen a deer de-meated in the field; nor would he here, but I would be able to deal with my deer alone, myself, without calling him off his hunt to help. 

Whereas the first doe was mature but young, this one was mature and old.  Her hide was tough.  Her meat, tough, and dark. 

The bullet entered the front of the deer and collided with the backbone, shattering it, and causing the instant collapse but not necessarily death.

And again, I was blessed with virtually no damaged meat.

Shots from other hunters range out as the afternoon and my work progressed.  I hoped some were Will, and supposed so, but there was no way to tell.  I wouldn’t know of his success, nor he of mine, until after dark, where he would (hopefully) return to where he had left me off.

I endeavored to get the meat into my `game bags' (retired pillow cases work perfect) with as little as possible sand from the stream bank, and as I finished, so was the afternoon.  In two trips I carried the meat and my gear to the shooting house.  I didn’t want to mess up Will’s next hunt at the same house, so I returned to the stream bank and took the remains (the meat-less deer) across the stream, through the woods, and to the next open area to the west. 


I carried my stuff back through the `tunnel’ to the road.  There was still a tiny bit of daylight left, so I got set up for anything crossing to the southeast.  (I could still shoot a buck.) 

I waited for Will.

At length I heard a truck, then saw headlights.  I knew he didn’t know (of my success), and since he probably wouldn’t be able to see the `game bags’ off to the side, I went to the middle of road and did a little giggle of a dance signifying my success, ... all the while making sure I gave him enough room to stop if somehow he wasn’t paying attention.

Will, too, got a deer … no doubt some of the shots I heard in the afternoon.

He reported later that it was a great blessing to hunt with someone who could take care of their own game in the field.


Both deer have tasted fantastic.  The first, a young but mature doe, soft skin, light meat, tender, and the second doe, tough skin, dark meat, and tougher meat ... yet also very good.  The key to good-tasting game is that  I get the meat cool, and dry, as fast as I can IN THE FIELD.  And I keep it clean as I can, by not `gutting’ the animal, and by staying away from (bullet-) damaged meat. 



I never did see that third deer.  Maybe it WAS a buck.

Serious Hunter


Saturday, November 29, 2014


So, when Will asked, “Wanna go hunting this weekend?” … my reply was, “Absolutely!”  We headed down `South’ the night before, for to stay at his parents’ place.  We saw a few deer along the road on the drive down, peeking out from the roadside thickets.  Will is much better spotting these Alabama deer than I am … maybe eight-to-one or so.  But, no worry, it took me years to spot theretofore invisible deer in Idaho; it might take a bit here in Alabama.

Early the next morning Will drove me out to my `shooting house’.  I had never hunted from a shooting house.  The closest thing would have been way back in the day, hunting ducks from various blinds, crudely constructed along rivers and sloughs in Southern Idaho.  Neither had I ever hunted off the ground, and made it clear that it would probably stay that way.  The drive in was much farther than I expected, on an access road through family property, and not-family-property.  The thought of walking back myself  if I wanted (or needed) to was near being dismissed.

Will walked me to the house, and then left.

This shooting house was big enough for three chairs.  I picked the middle one, an old, but functional, recliner.  Out in front was a `green field’.  Still mostly dark,  I ranged trees along one side … 110 yards.  I ranged trees at the far end … 120.  It must be a mistake!  The field must be at least 200 yards long, if it isn’t a quarter mile.

Dawn brought mostly silence.  A single shot range out in the distance.  It was not the barrage of gunfire I expected of the opening day of rifle season.  I texted Will, “Was that you?” … “Not me.”

Birds chirped.  The sun rose.  I wanted to get a deer.  But nothing.

Sunlight caught the top of the trees beyond the right side of the field, indicating east to my left.  I postulated that as soon as the sunlight hit the ground, things would start moving.  And, if not, I would start moving. 

So, after a while, I did.  I went out the back of the house, and turned left on the `lane’ Will had described on a couple occasions beforehand.  It was noisy walking.  At various locations various skid roads intersected the lane, all looking the same.  I got to the end and turned left.  After a while, I broke off the lane to explore right, found a ravine that looked interesting, turned around, and returned.  I went farther.  Cloudy, I could not determine direction.  All the lanes looked more the same.  I did not want to get lost.  I kept my cool and returned by way I came.

Back in the house I thought, I prayed, I waited, I napped, I dozed, I texted.  I drank coffee; I ate snacks.  I prayed.  I posted to Facebook.  I drank more coffee.

Oh, did I say that I prayed for a deer?

When that didn’t work, I gave some thought.  Am I incomplete without getting a deer?  Am I in lack?  I prayed for a deer, and nothing. I `believed’ for a deer, and nothing, also.  I prayed and thanked.  But all of these gymnastics are built on what I lack?  What if I ALREADY lack no good thing?!!!  What if by knowing God, and accepting Jesus, I have everything I need. 

Movement beyond the far end of the field caught my eye.  A deer moving through the forest in the broken morning sunlight.  She stopped.  I got positioned. 

She moved, and then stopped again, noticing the motion, and looked my way.  A solid rest poking a rifle out the window of a shooting house is not as easy as imagined.  Intuitively I knew two things: one, this was my only chance, as she was by-passing the field, and 2) range: 130 yards. 


She bolted, favoring her front end, indicating a shoulder shot.  After about 25 yards she went down.

I waited.  I knew it wasn’t a perfect shot, but still expected a dead deer soon.
(Texting unedited)

9:31 to Will: Bang

9:33 Will: U get ten

9:34: Gonna look see

9:36:  On my way

The deer jumped up as I got close, and ran.

UGHHHHH!  Not good!

Now I needed Will’s help, to block a runner.

9:37 to Will: Wounded

9:39: Left or right

I couldn’t get a clear shot.  It looked like she would take the flat ground across the lane at the end of the field.

I moved right, over to the lane, dropped to the ground and got ready with the bipod.

It worked.  She made it to the lane … and presented a head-shot.  Close.  Aim a couple inches low. 

9:40:  She s down.

9:42:  PTL

My first Alabama deer!


Will asked later what `PTL’ means.

“Praise the Lord.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

these things are heavy

I didn’t sleep well at all … coming down with a sore throat, I went to bed early, making me wake early … 4 AM.  It was actually the correct time, to go turkey hunting, but I felt terrible.  Besides, it had been raining, and I had no desire to lay on the wet ground waiting for daylight.  I spent the time till sunrise praying – not because I’m particularly spiritual – but because sleep was a bust, and because I didn’t want to start the workday.  Once light, I checked the bike trail in back, and it was too muddy for any mountain biking.  So I decided to go up `The Hill’ (anyway) … one last hunt in Idaho.  I grabbed some wildflowers from the back yard, gave them to a drowsy Linda, unpacked my shotgun, and headed out.

There were deer in the field below [Deleted]’s house.  The field heretofore had been `dirt’, but the recent rains had sprouted the Spring Wheat, now an inch or so tall.  That meant that the turkeys could be `anywhere’, no longer concentrated around the Winter Wheat where I had been hunting them.  No wonder Christi hadn’t seen any around the house lately.

I made my way up to the `Top’ and then poked my way down the timber on the back side, and on down to the `Other Corner’.  Indeed, the Wheat had sprouted there also, giving the turkey acre after acre of food and play, far from the bother of civilization.

I peeked around the cover to look west.  A dozen toms were displaying their feathers a third of a mile away out in the Wheat.  I decided to try.

I crept back into the shadows and timber, making my move out of direct sight, trying to get to them as soon as possible and without making too much noise.  The sun was at my back, to my advantage, and breaking through the morning clouds, produced enough glare that I should be undetected. 

I paused to put black camo paint on my face and fingers.

In the ravine below them I shed my coat, gloves, binos … actually everything except shotgun, and made my quiet assault up the hill. 

Hmmmmm … they weren’t there.

I quietly assaulted the next fold in terrain … nothing.

I crossed the open field toward the next little ravine.

Dang.  In the time it had taken me to close the distance, the birds had finished their ritual out in the field and were back in the timber, a hundred yards to my right.  Hens were working up the hill, and upon seeing me, worked their way up all the faster.  I moved their direction, just in case.

A tom appeared at the edge of the field.  It would be a long shot – but I’d try.  He shrugged off the #6 shot.  At the shot a big tom … really big tom … maybe the Tom popped out to the edge of the field.  I could have shot … I wanted to shoot … but I had already hit the other bird … (never mind without effect).  A hen burst out of the timber and ran straight toward me, unaware of the source of the commotion.  Then she took to flight.

I watched the first bird make his way up through the somewhat open trees, hoping he would show some sign of mortal wounding, pretending in my mind that he was a deer with a double-lung shot, unwilling to embrace the fact that if a pellet punctured him at all, it’d only be to a depth of easy healing.

Ughhhh.  I did not want it to end this way.

I paced off the shot.  Sixty yards.  A good case for #4 and a turkey choke.

I made my way back to my coat and other stuff, and then decided to go back up and `follow’ the tom.  Maybe by chance perhaps I’d find him.  Besides, he was headed west when I last saw him … there was only one little draw left, and if he stayed there, perhaps I could get a shot.

I rehearsed what I had done wrong, and what I would do differently the next time.  Prudence said to me that I should have followed up my first shot with two more, as many as it would take, to get a pellet onto his head, and at least stun him.  I just don’t shoot that way.  But I should learn.

I followed a game trail over to the far draw.  I was noisy, but I was also close enough to get a shot.  The last ravine was tight … probably not more than seventy yards across, so if anything appeared in between, I might well get a shot. 

A big tom burst into flight from the middle of the ravine below me.  He no doubt heard my approach, and probably launched to see what he was fleeing.  I swung the gun through and pulled the trigger just a bit in front of his head.  He tumbled from the air into the bottom of the ravine.

7:45 (To Linda): Dumped his ass!

7:46 (Linda to Jeff): You are awesome!!!

7:46 (Linda to Jeff): Let’s cook him up

7:49 … Thanks Jesus … you are good to me.

8:04 … These are heavy … still a mile to the car.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ZOOM ... and look again!

I was showing my wife pictures from our 2007 Bighorn Sheep Hunt, Idaho.  One pic that I thought was kind of cool is one taken with a `powershot-type’ camera through a spotting scope … at a ewe Bighorn standing at the edge of a rock outcropping and looking down.  The outcrop was across the drainage and over a mile away.  I always marveled at how we only saw one sheep in that group that afternoon … even though we scoured up and down and all around looking for more.

Solitary ewe on outcrop just below center of photo.  Wait! ... there are two more!

Then, as I showed the pic to my wife … and having a hunch, zooming in on the photo … `plain as day’ … are two more sheep!  Amazing.  Seven years later I pick out two more sheep we couldn’t see then. 
The outcropping with Sheep is just to right of the tree in the foreground just left of scope.
How many wild animals are in our photos and we don’t even know it!  Like on a Mountain Goat scouting trip … I took a pic of my buddy … a few minutes later and farther up the mountain we ran into some goats and started taking pics.  Once at home I looked at the pic of my buddy – and sure enough – there are the goats – even though we had not yet `seen’ them.