Friday, October 5, 2012

Seldom in my life is there a time when I look at what is happening and think, "This is meant to be". But a few weeks ago something happened in my life that seems strangely meaningful.

In the beginning of September my black lab Chloe had to be put down. It was heartbreaking, especially since I wasn't in Jersey at the time. Instead I was here in Kentucky guiding opening weekend. It wasn't easy to go on with the weekend as if nothing at all had happened, but somehow I managed. In reality I knew when I left New Jersey that it probably wouldn't be all that long before Chloe had to be put down...she was an old dog and no longer in the best of health. I just hadn't expected to never see her again. Death happens unexpectedly.

The area in Kentucky where I live seems to be overrun with stray dogs. I'm not sure if people can't afford to feed them or just don't care about them, but they're all over. One of the local roads was under construction a few weeks back, and and as I sat at the stop sign waiting to go through the single open lane, I counted at least 3 stray dogs that looked like they were suffering from starvation. The one construction worker asked if I wanted him to put the one puppy in the bed of my truck to take him. I told him no...what would I do with a puppy? I felt bad for the dogs but could barely afford to feed myself much less a dog.

Three weeks ago on a particularly hot evening in the treestand, I heard the patter of feet scurrying over dry leaves, and readied my bow expecting to see a coyote or turkey. Instead, a horribly skinny little chocolate lab pup came trotting up the ravine. Crossing my bait pile he continued on past my stand and out onto the four wheeler path I had walked in on. My heart went out to the pup; he was so little and so adorable I just wanted to get down and catch him so I could take him home. But, then my hunt would be ruined so I decided to stay put.

I did end up seeing deer that night, but no bucks big enough that I wanted to put an arrow through him. And life went on, a week went by and was uneventful.

Then, one afternoon while hooking the trailer up to my truck so I could load the four wheeler on, I saw a movement at the front of the lodge. It was that little lab pup, tail between his legs, watching me.

At the lodge we usually throw all our leftovers in a ditch behind the building...obviously that's what had brought the pup in.

I tried calling him over and walking towards him, but tail tucked between his legs, he ran off a little ways then stopped. My heart went out to him, he was so tiny, and obviously starved and most likely abused. Going inside I took some of the week old leftovers and brought them out onto the front step.

At first he wouldn't take food from me at all. He would belly crawl in until he could grab the food, then dart off with his tail between his legs and wolf down the food as fast as he could, looking at me ever now and then as if he was afraid I'd steal the food back.

Day 1

All that afternoon the pup disappeared and reappeared, and little by little I managed to get him to eat food out of my hand. That evening I left to go hunting, and when I returned he was gone. I didn't expect to see him again...

But, the next morning there he was, curled up on the rug in front of the front door. He seemed to think he had found a home.

Over the few days I fed him, thinking eventually he would disappear again. He was extremely skittish and shy around strangers, especially men; but he made a habit of trying to crawl into my lap whenever he had the opportunity, and leaning against my legs. He was like a little kid starving for affection.

Within a week he had put on considerable weight, and was actually learning to play. I stocked up on a few bags of dog food, a stake and long cord to tie him up when hunters come in so he won't jump all over them, and put a collar on him to prevent him from getting shot if he wandered off. Really I don't think I had to worry, he seldom left the front porch. Even now, when I leave to go hunting he sits on the front porch and when I get back, he's still there waiting for me.

Future Shed Hunter

For now, he's the official Lodge puppy of DA's nice to have company when there are no hunters in. Maybe we were meant to find each other.

I named him Chance.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Under Armour EVO Cold Gear Review

Just recently I bought Under Armour's EVO Cold Gear pants and hoodie from bass pro, and wore them for the first time last night. I was a little paranoid about putting them in the dryer, so after washing them in the washing machine (cold water, scent free detergent) I let them air dry outside.

I had bought a size small, which fit me perfectly: snug but not tight. The pants surprisingly were long enough so that it didn't look like I was preparing for a flood, which is what it usually looks like since I have long legs. The pants were also low rise but stayed high enough to cover everything when I sat down. My problem? No pockets.

The hoodie was fitted as well, and my favorite feature was the extra long sleeves with thumb holes...perfect for bow season!! Alas once again no pockets.

All in all it was well worth buying...super soft, quiet, and comfy...and to top it off??? Very cute!!!! Say what you want but I'm a 23 year old girl...I want the best camo I can afford but it's definitely a plus when it looks good too.

Just a side note for you girls wanting to buy it...I bought size small of pants and hoodie...I didn't go by the size chart as Under Armour tends to run big in my opinion. I'm 5'7" tall, 36C bust and size 3 or 4 jeans. Everything fit perfectly and i can fit a layer underneath each, OR put a layer over top without it being bulky (it was originally meant as part of a 3 layer system, this being the middle layer. Hence the no pocket problem.) It's really an ideal set of camo for early season bowhunting!!!

Now I'm saving my pennies for 1. A hangun; 2. A climber, and; 3. The Under Armour Cold Weather Ridge Reaper suit for women.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting My Life Back

I haven't updated my blog since April...but getting my life back in order has taken all of my attention.

In April I left Michael, for way too many reasons to list here. It's funny how pretending to be happy and trying to convince the outside world that you're happy only makes you feel worse. And so I packed up my truck and drove the never ending six hours back to my parents house in Jersey.

Breakups are tough, they always are. This one proved to be the worst yet, and starting over with no money, no bow, and no job really made it that much harder. Not being one to sit around and feel sorry for myself, I put on my big girl boots, pants, the whole damn outfit. First I started job searching and managed to get my old farm job back. Within a month, between paychecks and money from drawing, I managed to save enough pennies to buy my baby...a Bowtech Heartbreaker.

I'm fairly certain I shot every bow in North Jersey searching for the perfect one...Bear, Hoyt, Mission, Mathews...I tried them all and Bowtech was definitely my first choice.

Step one of getting my life back was complete. On to step two: getting out of Jersey. Long story short, a friend of mine (John) who lived in south Jersey and owns an outfitting business for Whitetail and turkey, suggested I come there (Northeast Kentucky) and guide...the end of August I drove the 9 hours to Garrison and here I am.

Summer has came and went, to be replaced with fall and hunting season...and lots of big bucks on trail cameras. So far we've had several groups of hunters in, one miss, and one 8 point in velvet taken. When there are no hunters I'm allowed to hunt certain areas, which I have been doing but have yet to arrow Mr. Big. Who would have thought such big deer would be in Kentucky?

Besides the fun of cameras, baiting, stands, and of course hunting and guiding, I love meeting the hunters that come in. Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Mississippi..all over the United States. I look at it as a way to make new friends, and as of yet, that's what it's been.

The season has only just begun and I plan on enjoying it, every minute, every day. It feels good to be happy again, to be confident, to just be myself. And it feels absolutely wonderful to sit in a treestand, bow in hand and wait for the crunch of leaves and the glimpse of brown as the deer make their way towards you; the rush of adrenaline whether it's a doe or a buck, whether you get a shot or not.

Here's to bow season's going to be a good one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Florida And Back

I just looked at my last post, and it's been awhile. I used to write almost every day...I'm not sure what happened. I used to be bubbling over with thoughts and words of wisdom and look forward to sharing it. I need to get back into that, but life has been so busy lately and not exactly easy so we will see...

Mike and I recently got back from our Florida trip...which I also looked at as a vacation that I desperately needed.

I absolutely hate flying (don't ask me how I'll survive the flight to Africa) but we flew into Tampa since it seemed cheaper than driving. The first 2 days in Florida we basically did nothing....hung out, went hog hunting, went to a beach. Our outfitter Dave from Woodland Guides Outdoors was having vehicle problems and we weren't supposed to officially start hunting anyways...and we were there all week.

The third day (Tuesday April 3) we got up at 4:30 am, got dressed and headed out to the turkey property. The morning didn't start out so well....Mike was in a horrible mood, nothing seemed to be going right and me trying to cheer him up wasn't exactly working. (An optimist and a pessimist together in a blind doesn't always go over well.) Sitting miserably in the blind in the dark, we heard several gobbles and then nothing. We had a decoy set up about 15 yards in front of our blind to draw them in since this was supposed to quite the place for gobblers to cross.

About 8:00 I was fighting to stay awake. Guess I'm really not used to getting up so early!!! I took a Wildlife Energy shot in hopes of livening myself up, and it seemed to help. Then, at 8:30, two big gobblers appeared out of the woods to the left of the blind. Mike got his bow ready, I got the camera rolling. The gobbled a few times, made a beeline for the decoy and immediately jumped on it and started beating it up. Poor old "Scarface" was going to end up with a few more scars before the day was over.

I ended up taking one of the gobblers with the shotgun, and he went down like a sack of lead. The other gobbler, who seemed rather confused, flew up and hit a tree, then ran into the woods to the left of us. To top it off, I had managed to capture it all on film!

Afterwards Mike told me that the shotgun (Mossberg 835) threw me back into the blind, but I don't even remember feeling the kick.

It was agony sitting there watching my dead turkey laying there on the ground directly in front of the blind. But, since there was a very good chance that another gobbler could wander by, we stayed put in the blind.

We were sitting there updating our facebook statuses, texting, and blabbing away when to the right of the blind, maybe 10 yards away, I saw a huge gobbler making his way towards the decoy. It took Mike a second to notice the shocked look on my face, and me pointing at the turkey trying to get him to notice...but about 10 minutes later Mike had the gobbler on the ground, dead as a doornail.

Seriously, don't mess with us.

1 and 1/2 inch spurs on Mike's Osceola

I was the happiest girl alive when we got out to grab our turkeys and take some pictures. Besides the fact that I had just killed my first Osceola, and Mike and I had doubled...we still had 4 days left in Florida, and now had plenty of free time to shoot some hogs and just hang out.

I was so happy!

Unfortunately the day took a turn for the worst. An hour or so later I got a phone call from my dad telling me that both of my grandparents had passed away. It was so completely unexpected that I think that I was in shock for the rest of the day...I barely remember anything else that happened. Mike suggested taking a flight home, but since the funeral wasn't until the 14th, I opted to stay put. I needed some down time to relax and try to cope with the awful news. I could do that much better in Florida than I could at home with so many other people around bothering me and asking me questions. And, there is nothing better in the world than hunting to get my mind off of things.

Wednesday Mike and I did absolutely nothing...we stayed at our hotel room all morning and hung out at the pool, went out for lunch. Nothing particularly stressful, which was exactly what I needed.

I just want to live here

Thursday, after getting a call from a good friend of ours telling us he had set it up, Mike and I headed over to Tiger Island in Cedar Key Florida for some hog hunting.

Yep. That's Mike. 

Ten minutes into our hunt, Mike stuck a pig with his bow...unfortunately wild pigs are a heckuva lot tougher than either of us had imagined, and despite the vast amounts of blood, we ended up not finding it. Later that day we saw it running around like nothing had happened, and also got footage of it hanging out with several other hogs although we didn't know it was Mike's hog at the time.

I had pretty much accepted the fact that I wasn't going to get a hog. Several opportunities presented themselves, and then the pigs would either run away, a tree would be in the way, or the arrow wasn't right on the Barnett Crossbow I was using.

The sun was going down, it had rained a little bit...and then finally I got a shot at a 100lb black boar. I had to take a standing shot at 45 yards, but the arrow zipped through him perfectly and imbedded itself in a tree behind the pig. The pig ran a little ways and collapsed underneath some trees. Really, it couldn't have been more perfect. I was also happy to discover that Mike had managed to get it on film.

I was overjoyed to finally have shot a pig
We packed up the hog head and the meat and got into our little rental car that was crammed full of hunting gear, and drove back to our hotel. We stuck the meat in our hotel room refrigerator and asked the Denny's Restaurant next door if we could store the pig head and turkey tails in the freezer until we left the next day. The agreed. BIG mistake.

The next morning when we went to retrieve the head and tails, we learned that someone had thrown them in the dumpster. Speaking of angry.

Mike had to do some dumpster diving, but luckily we recovered the head and the tails...then had to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to find a freezer to store them in so they didn't spoil. We ended up going to Big Lots for a cooler, and a Publix for some dry ice. I'm pretty happy we go to bring the head home (getting a skull mount) and the tails (getting blanket mounts) and of course the meat, which proved to be absolutely delicious. 

I'm not going to lie, I didn't really want to leave Florida. I felt like I was in my own little world, just hanging out and killing things...returning to Ohio would be like a rude awakening to real life.

Now that I'm back in Ohio, it's like my world has tilted ever so slightly, and hasn't quite righted itself again. But, I had a wonderful trip to Florida and made some great memories. I can't exactly complain, can I?

In a few weeks Mike and I will be driving out to Kansas and Nebraska, to hopefully complete our Grand  Slams...only this time my Dad will be going with us. I'm looking forward to another great trip, and here's hoping that the Rio's and Merriam's will be as easy to kill as the Osceola's were :)

Tiger Island Outfitters:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Women In The Outdoors: Leigh Rumbley Creekbaum

(This will be the first of several "Interview" type articles, featuring some of the most popular women hunters on tv.)

This year at ATA in Columbus, I had the chance to meet up with the beautiful Leigh Creekbaum from the tv show "The Chase". We had been facebook friends for a while, interacted a bit on facebook, things like that. The second day of ATA I got a message on facebook with her cell phone number, telling me to text her so we could meet up. Needless to say I was surprised that she would give her cell number to little old me, a nobody from Blairstown NJ...

A few texts later we met up at the show and hung out for awhile, confirming that she was indeed one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Some people you meet from tv are nice, but you can tell that they're just faking it since that's their job...Leigh is real. 

For a woman who only started seriously hunting 3 years ago, she is extremely
knowledgable, and you could tell she loves the outdoors and what she does.

Leigh was born and raised in Alabama, a true southern girl. Her and her husband Travis have a 2 year old son, Gray, who she claims is part of the reason she stays in shape. I've been around many two year olds, and that's certainly understandable! She also had hunted Caribou, and walking 11 miles up and down Tundra was quite the well as tiring!  But well worth it as you can see by the picture...

She seems to be doing a wonderful job of juggling a full-time career, being a mommy, and of course the tv show The Chase, and completely loving her life. (And I thought I was busy!)

Leigh's first animal was a doe taken with her 270...she has taken many animals since then, and I'm not going to lie...I'm jealous of alot of them. She's taken some enormous whitetail  something I've only dreamed of doing. Someday...someday it will happen for me too!

When I asked if she preferred bowhunting or gun hunting she replied "I don't necessarily have a preference but when I bow hunt, there's no doubt getting close enough to animals to draw is a rush that's almost indescribable." Great quote girl!

She pulls only 45 pounds on her Mathews, but has got pass throughs on all but one animal, her largest buck to date, which still only went 80 yards and dropped. Leigh would love to someday hunt mule deer, whitetail is her favorite animal to hunt, but stalking javelinas with her bow is at the top of her list as well. While hog hunting she says that once she was charged by a boar  that came within 8 yards of her before she dropped him with her second shot. Um...can you say SCARY?

I'm definitely loving her SpentRound earrings!

Leigh and her family (who support her 100%) eat all of the game that is shot, and she says she has yet to find any wild game she doesn't like. Even Sandhill crane is wonderful! I didn't even know you could eat them, I guess you learn something new every day!

When I asked her if there was any one particular woman who she admired in the hunting world, she replied, "Brenda Valentine paved the way for female hunters to be taken seriously but all of us who rise at 3:30a.m. to climb a tree deserve a toast of a Wildlife Energy shot for the effort to enjoy God's great outdoors."

Leigh is an amazing huntress with class and elegance that is enviable to all women, and is a great role model for all women and girls who are either trying to make their way into the industry, or just want to start hunting. 

"I'm really not a pink girl...more of a red type of gal." ~Leigh Creekbaum

"While I don't think I've necessarily been talked down to because of my gender, I do notice other men, guides, etc will ask Travis or my cameraguy, rather than me, what caliber or broadhead I shoot. Coincidentally, sometimes I get put in the better sets (hunting spots) but its doesnt always work to my favor. " ~Leigh Creekbaum


Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Is Ready For Turkey Season?

I know I'm ready for turkey season...

A few days ago on my way back from fueling up my truck, I saw 2 turkeys fighting at the side of the road. Of course I pulled off the road into a ditch and parked, while frantically digging in my purse for my camera. Times like that I regret not carrying my good camera, but all I had was my little canon powershot.

I was pretty happy to get some pictures anyway...

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Search For Camo

I don't think guys will ever really understand what it's like to not own any good camouflage hunting clothing that just doesn't fit right (I know my boyfriend doesn't). I'm sure they get tired of hearing about it but it really is a problem. Men never have that problem. All they have to do is go to the nearest Wal-Mart, Cabelas, or Gander Mountain and pick out anything that's their size and Ta-dah...IT FITS!!!

Last year about this time I ordered the She Safari C2 Realtree fitted jacket and pants...I was super excited. It looked so cute on the girl in the picture, and was supposed to be awesome from the reviews that were on the website. My one friend had ordered them a few months ago and had liked them, except for the fact that the sizing was completely off and that the seams ripped while she was hunting. The way I looked at it, I could easily reinforce stitching...this camo was affordable and seemed like it would be perfect for spring turkey hunting and bow season.

Once I finally got it and tried it on, I was only fairly happy with it. I loved how the jacket fit, but the pants were a little big. No big deal, it would just leave some room for layering. I could work with it.

My first time wearing it was during spring turkey season in Florida. It kept me warm enough, but surprisingly the pants were slightly bulky at the knees and at the crotch, and the cloth rubbing against itself (or anything for that matter) was extremely loud.


I've owned (and still own) several pairs of mens size small camo pants and jackets. The jackets aren't too bad except for the fact that they're always snug across my chest, but the lower body could house a family of five. The sleeves are always several inches too long, which does help keep my hands warm but seems to always get in the way when it comes to shooting. 

The pants, even a mens size small, are huge on me. Without a belt I would lose my pants with the first step, no matter how many layers I have underneath. There is so much fabric in the crotch area that it becomes extremely uncomfortable and annoying to always have it rubbing against your legs (since the crotch is usually around my knees). I supposed I could store some extra clothing in there, or maybe some food and drinks...but I already carry a backpack when I need to bring stuff like that.

I kept the jacket to wear around town, or when I go out since it's cute and fitted, but I gave the pants away to one of my friends since I will never wear them again.

Really, it's not easy to find good camo...especially when I'm on a budget. And can no longer go out and buy myself some new camo whenever I want since I have to think of Mike and the kids before anything else...

Some camo that I have bought and liked (and was able to afford) so far, are:

1. My realtree girl pants. They're really only for warm weather such as spring turkey and early season bowhunting since they're lightweight. (Although you can wear them around town or anywhere since they look so cute and fit like a pair of jeans). I have 3 pairs of these, two in a size 4 and one in a size 5 for an extra layer underneath.

2. My matching realtree girl zipper hoodie. Its great for layering, and matches my pants. It's also lightweight enough to wear with just a tshirt underneath when its hot out.

3. This is one piece of clothing I COULD NOT go without. Easily the best $40 I've ever invested in when it comes to hunting camo Under Armour shirt. I wear it literally every day during deer season (yes I do wash it). Its fitted, so really there's no way it could fit you wrong unless you buy the wrong size. And it keeps my toasty warm. I have a pair of Under Armour cold gear long underwear bottoms as well, which I also love since guess what??? The waistline doesn't have to be up to my chin like most long underwear bottoms made for women.

I've already chosen my next set of camo that I want to save up and of my friends bought it, has worn it plenty of times hunting, and it looks amazing (always a bonus). Under Armour has come out with their own line of women's hunting clothing, for both warm and cold weather. Right now I want to find a really good pair of camo for warm weather, since its easier to find and also cheaper. So, I'm going to start saving up some money from selling my painted feathers and am going to buy a pair of their pants and a shirt to try...

I'm excited. In a few weeks I should be able to order the pants.

Also, I'm going to go on a search for a great pair of women's hunting gloves...all of the mens gloves are too big, which means I can't shoot my bow while wearing them. That's a problem I need to fix.

Stay tuned...