Sunday, October 4, 2015

Go West, young man

I ain’t sure how I ain’t gotten around to sharin’ this yet, but then again, I been so damned busy all summer that I ain’t had much in the way of quality posts about anythin’.

But, I digress.

The ol’ man and my brothers are members of a huntin’ club down in Maryland. It’s not a land-ownin’ club, but they organize a few travel hunts every year, and because they already own the equipment and have the connections, it can usually be done on the cheap. We normally just go to the club meetin’s to socialize, eat and have a few beers, but when they started talkin’ about a Colorado elk hunt a few months ago, I saw Dad perk up a bit. A western hunt for the mighty wapiti has been at the top of both of our lists for a long, long time.

Apparently, there are four rifle seasons for elk in Colorado. The first season is bull elk only, with no other concurrent seasons, so it’s not as desirable as the others when you can hunt mulies and goats at the same time. The licenses for the first rifle season are plentiful, and it was almost a guaranteed draw. Dad and I talked about it on the way home that day, and a few weeks later, made the decision to put in for the draw and give it a shot.

A few weeks later, the draw results came back, and it was time to start plannin’. There were some leftover tags, and Dad decided that if Joe could get the time off from his new job, we would take him along for his college graduation present. The stars aligned for him as well, so we were set to go. The only thing that would have made it truly perfect is if Jesse could have swung it, but with three young'ns runnin' around, there was just no way he coulda swung it.

Needless to say, the last few months have been hectic as all get-out, with almost every free minute dedicated to gettin’ everythin’ ready for this trip. While I’ve been on a western hunt before, that was a fully-guided deal with all of our needs taken care of by someone else. This trip will be unlike anythin’ else we’ve ever done. We’ll be in guide-style canvas tents on public ground, at a much higher altitude than I’ve even been, to boot. I usually don’t stress about anythin' too terribly much, but I’ve been runnin’ my feeble brain ragged the last few weeks, makin’ the last minute preparations and hopin’ I ain’t forgotten anythin’.

So now, after months of plannin’, it’s just about time to head out for our dream hunt. Dad and six other fellas are drivin’ out early Tuesday mornin’. Joe and I don’t have as much vacation as them old bastards do, so we’re gonna let the TSA have their wicked way with us as we take a plane to Denver on Friday mornin’, where we’ll rent a ride and head to White River National Forest to meet with the rest of the fellas.

The tags and equipment have been purchased, guns have been shot in, boots have been broken in. I’ve spent the last few days packin’ everythin’ into the war room, and we loaded up the trailers this mornin’. Everythin’ is purty much taken care of aside from the gittin’ there. Now, I just gotta push through a few days of work, and then we’ll be on our way.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

All Lives Matter

Big doin's on the horizon, and I've been busier than normal. Hopefully I can get a few minutes tomorrow to bang away at the keyboard and fill the two of you in.

In the meantime, this gem was makin' the Facebook rounds the other day, and I thought it was worth sharin'...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Like ridin' a bike

As always, I've been procrastinatin' with practicin' with the ol' stick and sting. I ain't had the ol' Hoyt out since fillin' my buck tag last fall.

Well, Schlongie and Kuhnybitch swung over to the house the other day with a load of wood, and we wound up slingin' a few arrows.

Sure 'nuff, my first few arrows from 20 yards found their mark, and then some.

I keep sayin' that when I run outta arrows, I'm buyin' a new bow. Kinda hard to justify that when the ol' gal still shoots so damn well.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Back in the saddle

With the batshit crazy schedule that I keep, one of my favorite activities has kinda fallen by the wayside the last few years. I used to live for goose season, and loved spendin' time with the ol' man and my brothers chasin' 'em. Anymore, I'm just a "shooter" when it comes to geese. If someone wants an extra gun in the goose blind, I'll gladly tag along, but I don't have time nor ambition to scout, set up and hunt for 'em by myself.

Well, it had been damn near two years since I dropped the hammer on an ol' honker, so when Joe insisted that he had some birds patterned and I needed to come help him shoot 'em, I was purty excited.

Awesomely enough, the birds did what they were supposed to do, and I was thrilled to make a significant contribution to the pile of geese. Felt really good to be covered up in geese again, and hopefully I don't allow myself to get into another two-year drought.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Huntin' Addiction

I came across this quick writeup on Joe's Facebook feed the other day, and damned if it ain't purty accurate. Courtesy of Adirondack Bowhunters.

•   •   •

20 Signs That You’re Addicted To Hunting


You proudly display your addiction like you would a trophy, or you may not want to admit that you have one at all, but if you are reading this article chances are you are also a hunting addict. Here are 20 signs of how you can tell that you have a hunting addiction.

1.  Every important decision you make is normally determined while having the thought, “Will this interfere with hunting season?”

2.  You would have a large savings account, but there are way too many cool things at the sporting goods store.

3.  You lose sleep wondering what stand you’re going to hunt the next day.

4.  A common argument in your household is where you’ll put your deer mounts.

5.  You have to strap yourself down from checking your trail cameras on a daily basis.

6.  You have more hunting related pictures on your social media accounts than you do of anything else.

7.  You would consider spooning your deer head if your spouse would allow it.

8.  While driving you spend more time looking in the fields than you do the road.

9.  You have to reintroduce yourself to your significant other when the season ends.

10.  Your TV time consists primarily of watching hunting shows.

11.  You have more money invested in one hunting outfit than you do in your entire wardrobe.

12.  You jump up easily at 3AM on the days you hunt but barely crawl out of bed in time for work.

13.  The only ultimatum you have when dating is that they fully accept your hunting obsession.

14.  Your vehicle is saturated with hunting-related window decals or bumper stickers.

15.  Your bow and gun collection is the most valuable commodity in your house.

16.  Someone in your life has suggested that you need therapy.

17.  You have tried at least once to use “date night” as a way to convince your significant other to join you in the woods.

18.  Your all-time favorite movie collection as a child was the RealTree Monster Bucks Series.

19.  You grow a beard during cold months to keep your face warm for hunting season – male or female hunters alike.

20.  Your pet’s name (or your child’s nickname) is either “Buck”, “Killer”, “Booner”, “Gunner” or simply, “Hunter”.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bear Grylls on raisin' kids right

I stumbled up on this gem a few weeks ago.  True to form, I'm just now gettin' around to postin' it.

•  •  •

Over the years I have learnt a thing or two about risk, and I have often learnt these lessons the hard way — and sometimes by my errors. I am the first to admit that I have on occasions strayed the wrong side of the health and safety line, I am learning still to this day. But as I once heard said: “My knowledge, experience and skill, is the sum of all my near misses.”

As reported this week, I was asked by the RNLI to set up a rescue scenario for them near our island in north Wales. My eldest son, Jesse, 12, has played a part in these training exercises for many years, and this summer was no different. But the story got reported and the reaction illustrates how risk averse our culture has become. For the record, Jesse was wearing a lifejacket, safe at all times, and very happy!

Through it all, I have learnt some key lessons.

First, the world is full of risks and unless we prepare our children for that reality, they will not have the skills to cope when things go wrong. And in life, one thing is certain: no plans survive first contact with the “enemy”. If we are going to strive to reach anywhere meaningful in life then there will be risk aplenty.

When we try to strip our kids’ world of risk we do them a gross disservice. We teach them nothing about handling life. Conversely, when we stand alongside our kids and teach them how to manage risky situations safely, then we empower them with skills that go far beyond just adventure. Coming through a managed element of risk gives kids a confidence and pride that no amount of classroom time ever could. I have seen this happen, with kids and with adults more times than I can remember.

I firmly believe that all children have a right to adventure. They have a right to experience the freedom of the outdoors and the many opportunities it brings. The exhilaration of a mountain summit or the thrill of abseiling into a deep gorge, are experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Just ask young Scouts up and down the country — I have had the privilege of being Chief Scout since 2009.

These are defining moments of childhood, when kids understand what they’re capable of. These moments allow kids to get excited about the possibilities the world has to offer. They teach independence, initiative, self-reliance and resourcefulness: skills that will serve them for their lives.

None of this, of course, should come at the expense of safety. We all want our kids, and those in our care, to be safe. It is our duty to provide adventure and manage risk in a controlled environment. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, and deceive ourselves into thinking that removing risk makes our kids “safe”. It doesn’t — especially in the long term.

Every adventure comes with an element of risk. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an adventure. When I am filming in some jungle or desert, or even planning an outdoor adventure with my family, I am constantly assessing the risks and mitigating them wherever possible. It all happens subconsciously now a lot of the time and I never take it for granted. We must never get complacent. And I always have a back up plan. Even on mini adventures with our three young boys (Jesse, Marmaduke, nine, and Huckleberry, six).

Being vigilant and managing risk is not the same as wrapping your kids up in cotton wool. It’s about common sense and being responsible. And if you do this properly, kids won’t even notice. They will be too busy getting stuck into the sailing, the rafting, the pot-holing or whatever activity they are trying. And if you want proof that kids enjoy these things, just look at the smiles on their faces. It tells you everything about their sense of accomplishment, their self-worth. These are times when they prove to themselves that if they are tough enough to get through this, they can get through anything.

I believe it is fundamentally unfair to put children in a holding pen until they are 18. That’s why I am a strong believer in providing opportunities for young people, early on, to enjoy adventure.

As a child, my father often used to take me climbing on the small sea cliffs in the Isle of Wight. For me it was such a powerful connection with him and the natural world. Eventually it led me to the summit of Mount Everest and many expeditions all over the world since, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. But without that gentle, wise, responsible guiding from my dad, I might never have got there. And aged eight, those little “cliffs” felt like we were tackling the most dangerous faces on Earth!

We never accomplish anything by staying indoors experiencing the outside world through a pane of glass or screen. That’s why I remain defiantly determined to provide my own children with opportunities to discover the world, as well as their own natural talents. And I am determined to stand beside them on that journey. And yes, it is going to be dangerous.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cottage Weekend '15

As with years past, my friends and I gathered at my family cottage last weekend for a few days of leisure.

Tater and I decided to start the weekend off a little differently this year by stopping at the Troëgs Brewing Co. in nearby Hershey  on our way up. I've always been a fan of Troëgs; in fact, my first case of legally purchased "good" beer was a Troëgs summer variety pack over ten years ago. I've been a fan ever since. They offer a tour of their brewery, includin' samples and a pint glass, for $5, which is well worth it.
The grain bins, where the hoppes and malts are stored. They are able to dispense the desired quantities directly from the bins via computer.  

Our fearless tour guide,  explainin' how the beer travels through the bulk tanks. 

The "scratch" tanks, where the brewers experiment. 

The near-finished product is stored in these silos, awaitin' carbonation and bottlin'. 

Several of their brews are aged in old whiskey or wine barrels.

The kegging room. No keg stands were done here, unfortunately.
 We enjoyed lunch at the brewpub, then headed north.

Tater and his girl wanted to go visit Ron for the evenin', so my girl and I loaded up the kayaks and headed to the public access about four miles upriver. We knew we were pushin'it on daylight, but as it got darker, we realized what a sight we were gettin' treated to.

 It was a light crowd this year, so we only had three others come rollin' in that night.

True to form, we purty much spent the remainder of the weekend eatin', drinkin' and floatin' down the river. We found another access that was a little further up, so we enjoyed a seven-mile float on Saturday.

 While we didn't camp this year, we headed over to the island after Saturday dinner and lit up a big ol' bonfire with some driftwood we had picked up on our float.
I wish some of my other friends had been able to make it, but it was still a very relaxin' weekend spent with good company.