North Carolina holds a great multitude of species for hunters to pursue. Most reviews of the state’s Whitetail opportunity rate the state either at a B or C, just average. This is due to a large population, with a number of good size deer but not large number of trophy whitetail being taken. We have large black bear on the east coast ranging from 300 to over 700 pounds regularly taken, making it a destination for trophy black bear hunters not wanting to travel as far north as Canada or Alaska. We even have a growing population of large wild boar (much to the chagrin of local farmers) in the southern part of the State. Not an exceedingly large state, North Carolina is very diverse in its geography. One, less mentioned, but unique trophy opportunity the State has is Tundra Swan. Continue reading “The 737 of the Sky and Water”
How do you measure success? Is it the physical award at the end or something more mental/emotional? With an outdoorsman it can be both. My second season of whitetail hunting on my little 27 acres saw a lot of off-season work, creating improvements. I have 2 old friends, closer than brothers to me, that were finally coming up from Florida to see the property and hunt it for the first time. We were going out opening days of archery season and neither of them had much experience with archery hunting. I worked extremely hard on food plots, stand placements, shooting lanes, walking paths and a plethora of other things to ensure as easy and successful a hunt as I could make it.
While anyone that hunts can tell you, there are no guarantees, there are things you can do to up your chances. They take planning and hard work. No matter what your passion or hobby is you want to see hard work rewarded. I got to see that.
I’ve been recently reading a book, written in the 70s, by a well know outdoor writer. It’s about the most popular North American game and tactics to hunt them. In this book the author writes a section on turkey hunting and starts that section off by saying that he has never turkey hunted in his life. As a reader I have to say, it does not inspire confidence when the author has never done what he or she is writing about. That being said, I’m writing about turkey hunting. In the spirit of transparency, I’ve only shot 1 bird in the 4 years I’ve hunted them. So, what makes me an expert? I’m not. I’ve done it for 4 years now and I’ve got 4 years of experience on how not to do it. I’ve got 4 years to become completely frustrated and enraged, all while still being driven to keep trying.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you how or when to call. Nor am I going to tell you when and where to look. If I knew that information I’d be writing a different story. Instead I’m going to tell you why I keep chasing these insane birds. Continue reading “Why I Hunt Turkeys”
They say “Patience is a virtue.” However, if you read the Bible you learn that it’s a virtue that’s hard earned. Deer hunters know this all too well. Wait for the bigger buck and eventually it will show up. It took me a long time to learn this lesson but I did and it did finally paid off with a great buck I was not expecting.
A little backstory is needed here. I’ve been hunting since I was 16 years old, but my lessons were not from a seasoned family member. They were learned the hard way, trial and error. My family didn’t hunt. We fished, a lot, but never hunted. I was interested and a friend in high school introduced me to squirrel hunting at 16. That was all it took. I lived in Florida for a total of 20 years and spent the first 10 years of whitetail hunting braving the public game lands in the sunshine state. On Florida public lands, the only legal game is a buck with over 6” of antlers on both sides. This means there are a ton of malnourished does run around these woods, with most spike bucks getting shot before they ever have a chance to grow. (Poor game management in my opinion, but not the point to this story.) What all this means is that I never had an opportunity to even shoot at a deer until I moved to North Carolina in 2012. At this stage I had been hunting for 16 years, in my early 30’s, without any success. I have paid my dues and to say I was frustrated would be an understatement. Finally, in 2014 I successfully connected with my first deer and harvested a spike buck. A trophy to me that will forever have a place on my trophy wall. Since that year I have shot at least 1 deer every season, progressively getting better bucks.
Opening day of 2016 set the tone for what would be a great season for me. I was able to shoot my first deer with a bow that first evening taking the normal pressure to get meat off my back and giving me confidence with my abilities. I saw deer over 50% of my sits and passed on several. Taking a meat deer first off meant my family eats and I could now focus on something more substantial. If you are as obsessed with deer hunting as I am, you watch the hunting channels rather religiously. I’ve drooled over these shows where they had so many deer coming in that they can sit, watch, count and make the call as to what is worth taking. I had never experienced this until the 2016 season. It was marvelous. By taking that pressure off myself I learned first hand what everyone had been telling me. “Be patient and wait. If you wait and let the little ones go, bigger and better will come along.” I learned a lot about deer behavior and patterns that year. I learned a lot about the hunt itself.
“I have faith in God and He will provide.” That’s what I kept saying to myself one Sunday while hunting. As an avid hunter I live for deer season and am out in the woods as much as I can. But I’m a Christian and try to go to church every Sunday. Now I understand that life gets in the way sometimes and we can’t always go but we always try. Well this given Sunday I didn’t try. I just skipped. It was a perfect cold weekend and the last weekend of muzzle loader season. As you’ll see, that was not a valid excuse.
Saturday was the coldest day of the year yet but for some reason, hunting was slow. I only saw 1 doe that morning and she was over 150 yards away going uphill in some tall broom straw. Barely even saw her and definitely had no shot. It had been a rough bow season, having shot 3 deer that I couldn’t find. Saturday evening was a complete bust and so I made a decision. To skip church in order to hunt this perfect weather. Turns out this was WRONG.
There is a lot going around right now on social media and political groups about the 2nd Amendment and what the Founding Fathers meant by “The right to bear arms.” For just a minute I’d like to get up on my soap box. A lot of one liners go around about the Founding Fathers not realizing what firearm will become. While there is some truth that an AR was not in existence in the late 1700’s, the firearm of that era (i.e. muskets and cannons) actually did a lot more damage than many common defense firearms of this day. The average musket ball was .39” to .80” in diameter which is what constitutes caliber. Putting this into perspective. The standard diameter of a 38 Special (very common revolver round) is .38” and the size of the AR 15 standard round is .22” in diameter. The basic physics of this will tell you the bigger the diameter the more damage that is done. So, while the Founding Fathers might not have known about a gun like a 9mm (also same diameter as a 38 Special) or an AR 15 they were well aware of the damage a firearm can do. Especially since they had just fought a very bloody and tough war. They were also very progressive and knew that guns would evolve just like everything else as technology evolved.
Why am I talking about this? Because of another anti-gun one liner, “There is no reason for anyone to have an AR 15.” There are A LOT of guns, calibers, and manufacturers out there and they exist for very good reasons. Gun manufacturers don’t develop a new gun without a market to sell to. That’s just bad business. Gun manufacturers are businesses after all and sales are what keep them alive. The AR platform of rifles is extremely versatile and can be built to suit a great number of needs. For example, the telescoping stock (common on most builds) and the small caliber of the round is great for introducing new shooters to the sport. The adjustable stock makes it ideal for folks to hand it to their friends or neighbors to try out without fear that the gun is ill fit for the new shooter to handle. The smaller caliber means a lower felt recoil for those with apprehensions of the force exuded by a full-size rifle. These features make it comfortable for a great number of shooters to learn good and safe firearm practices. So, there is a reason for the gun. Many in fact and the same can be said for a multitude of other firearms in the world.
Now that I’m off my soapbox I’d like to delve into the subject of “What’s the best gun for me?” I’ve worked in the firearm industry for about 11 years. I’ve been in the sales side of the industry, ranging from a small gun shop to being a sales manager for a manufacturer and now teach concealed carry for my state. One of my favorite and most hated questions that I heard was the same question. “Which gun do you recommend for me?” This is a loaded question (no pun intended) as there is no one size fits all firearm on the market. However, it also means the buyer is looking for direction and education in firearms and is looking for an expert to help them. There is a lot of misinformation that runs with gun enthusiast. It’s a highly personal market where people have their absolute favorites. I do as well but I’ve been selling and using them long enough to know that my favorite may not be your neighbor’s favorite and we can both be right. This is why the afore mentioned question is both my favorite and most hated question, all in one. I can’t just say my XD, my Versa Max, or my AR because they all have their place and I chose them for multiple reasons. If you’re looking for pistol advice and someone gives you an outright answer of “Get a blank.” Then you might want a second opinion.
In June of 2015 I was in the hospital for 3 weeks due to my pancreas failing. Unbeknownst to me a weak pancreas runs in my family and my enjoyment of adult beverages was something my body could not handle. During my time in the hospital I was in the ICU for 11 days on life support and in an induced semi-comatose state. There were many nights the doctors were only giving me a 50/50 chance to make it. Thanks to Lord, and prayers from family and friends, I recovered in a way my doctors described as a miracle. When I got out of the hospital I had lost 32 pounds and looked like shriveled version of my former self. My recovery was both physical and mental. The drugs they had me on during my stay greatly affected my memory. It is a very strange feeling to go to sleep in pain only wake up and not recognize your wife’s face, remember you in-law’s name, or recognize your own face in the mirror. Till this day there is still a blank spot in my mind of that whole ordeal and have trouble remembering things that happened the weeks following. Due to my lack of physical movement and great internal struggle I was also very weak. I couldn’t walk or stand for the first several days without help. I am, however, stubborn and strong and was determined to not only recover but to do so as quickly as possible and on my own terms. Which meant I wanted to go home and challenge myself.