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Posts Tagged hunting

Surfcasting In Nantucket

I caught one!

I caught one!

We spent a week in Nantucket in early October. Not too many folks around then, and I finally realized my dream of having a go at surfcasting. The first afternoon attempt was a complete bust. The inn provided an experienced guide at no cost who let the air out of his tires to 15 pounds and drove us on the sand. Nada for two hours. But I never give up.

Two days later I tried again, and this time I hooked five and landed three. Of course I wanted to eat them, but Captain Rob preferred to throw them back. It was very exciting to reel them in with the cold water crashing around and the nearby seals waiting to steal my hooked fish. I’m not much of a fishing enthusiast, but this was definitely a thrill.

And I didn’t mind at all that my guide knew where and when to go, what kind of pole and lure. I felt very satisfied and proud.

not too crowded

not too crowded

When I was actively turkey hunting with a shotgun, I use to make fun of those who hired a guide to take the hunters to exactly the right place, do the calling, bring the bird into easy shotgun range and then pat the client on the back when it was time to take a shot. I was doing everything myself: the scouting, locating the roosts, knowing when to arrive in position, calling after watching videos and hearing the hens in the woods. A long and challenging process.

But a few-days-a-year visitor to the ocean or the woods is handicapped. Can’t learn all it takes. Guides are good. I accept my limitations and have more respect for my colleagues from out of state. It was great fun, and much better when I caught fish, even if I had Captain Rob’s help.

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Walking The Scottish Moors

the pink heather can be a foot high and springy when you walk on it

the pink heather can be a foot high and springy when you walk on it

It’s really hard to walk on the moors, and I want to show you why. I was actually nervous that I would be able to do it safely and ably. Last time I was in Scotland hunting, the gamekeeper told me about a party of five gents who were falling so often that he stopped the hunt within 30 minutes and insisted it was too dangerous for them to be falling down with loaded guns.

easiest fields to cross

easiest fields to cross

tall grasses concealing rough ground

tall grasses concealing rough ground

My anxiety was provoked by my experience in 2011, the first time I’d done it. As you can imagine from one of these photos, walking on grassy pastures is easy. But mostly you are in tall grasses or on top of heather, which is really a springy bush, much like a Christmas tree on its side. Underneath and out of sight are large rocks that can twist your ankle or streams that you can’t see or hear. I stepped in one of those the first hour almost up to my knee…soaked my boot and sock. Messy. Uncomfortable. Cold. Also you are walking sideways on hills, so you are on uneven terrain, with one foot higher or lower than the other.

When a bird flushes, you only have fractions of a second to stabilize your feet, shift your weight to the front foot, find the bird, raise your gun as you release the safety, aim, swing and shoot. Hard…unless you practice a lot, which guys like me don’t have time to do.

As I wrote yesterday, I was wondering why I do this, when it is so difficult. But that is what a challenge is all about, right? And the game tastes so good. And the dogs are so exciting to watch search for, and find, the pheasants.

Once again I made it safely through the days. I didn’t injure myself or anyone else. I was just unbelievably tired from such a push. Nevertheless, I suspect I will be back another year. The countryside and adventure is just too spectacular…

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Shooting In Scotland

tired hunter with Becky and Max

tired hunter with Becky and Max

Spent a couple of weeks in Scotland, including two days hunting for birds. I was way out of practice, so I went to a skeet range three times and a sporting clays course once before I left. I built up to 16 clay pigeons out of 25 on the skeet range. My best ever may be just 21, but 18-19 was not uncommon. The clays course was interesting, because sometimes I was hitting every “bird,” and other times I missed all 10 tries at the same station. I only ran up parts of a big hill at a home twice for physical conditioning. Then I arrived on the Scottish ground.

The description below is based on an email I sent to a few friends:

Was out on the moors for over three hours struggling to keep my balance, not fall into rivulets hidden by the tall grass and be alert for birds that the dogs would flush unexpectedly. I know you wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I subject myself to such physical hardship?

Truth is, I was thinking that myself after just one hour, thirsty and hot and forgot to bring water, and legs aching terribly. It is exhausting. Always determined not to shoot the guide in the head or kill his dogs accidentally. And I was so out of practice–too much tennis and almost no shooting in three years–that it took five shots to hit a bird. The shotgun holds just two shells, but often I miss with both barrels, so one in five was my average. More respectable is one out of three. I missed so many “easy” shots. Very disappointing and frustrating, even though I did hit some birds. Shot my first-ever duck and ate it. Delicious. Pheasant dinner another night.

dinners

dinners

In the end I am thrilled to do it, have done it, to walk the moors, feel the open spaces, hear and see the cock pheasants flying away safely, watch the dogs. Scotland is one of the few places you can do this, I believe. The northeast United States is all stocked with birds raised in pens and placed on the ground the night before the hunt. The Midwest and Dakotas have flat land and far fewer birds: two or three a day may be all you can find, I’ve been told. Where I was in Scotland, there are thousands that are put out for six months before the season…and some live on for a year or two in the wild, learning how to evade predators, be wary and quick. Very challenging. I do love it.

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Decision-Making Can Be Treacherous

digging out of a 30-inch-high snow drift

This little adventure is a lesson in decision-making.

We were stuck in the snow the other day. It was 30 inches deep in some places, but who knew? It’s like walking through a puddle and discovering it’s over your head.

My buddy and I were stocking pheasants for the next day’s hunt…you know hiding the birds in the bushes, so the hunters and their dogs would have the challenge of finding them. And we came up to this snow-covered road with truck tracks that stopped in the middle. But the storm had only dropped 3-6 inches. How deep could this drift be? We saw that it was around a foot, so my friend felt his truck could make it. He shifted into 4-wheel drive, hit the gas, and I said to him, “You sure have balls.” I always admire courage and the willingness to take chances.

free after half an hour

Within seconds we were stopped. Too much snow to push, the wheels spinning, the undercarriage completely clogged in white. Fortunately we were just a 100 yards from the barn, where there were shovels to dig us out. It took half an hour at least to clear the truck and then about 50 feet of road. I was hoping that this could count as my exercise for the day and that I wouldn’t die of a heart attack. While we were digging, my friend told me of a 60-year-old guy he knew who just last month had been dragging a deer he shot out of the forest and dropped dead of a heart attack. Just what I needed.

I often think of how one poor decision can be so costly. The actor who played Superman, Christopher Reeve, took one horrible jump on a horse and became a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. How he must have hated that decision for the nine years he lived after it (he died at just 52).

I met a man who owned one of the most well-known public companies in America, and told me his big mistake was buying another well-known department store chain. It put the combined operation into bankruptcy, and cost him almost $100 million personally.

Digging out of the snow is not in that league. I wasn’t in a hurry and took breaks when I was tired. I didn’t strain my back, because I was careful…after straining it two days earlier, when my car wouldn’t start, and I had to push it out of traffic. Small decisions for me so far. I have made much bigger ones that were good ones, like marrying my wife, starting a business, relocating to a farm. No guts, no glory. I love taking chances. Some people hate uncertainty and play life safe. How about you? Made any giant choices lately? How do they feel?

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Early Life Of An Extreme Outdoorsman And Speed Junky (Part 1 Of 3)

idyllic cruising in the great outdoors

Met a new friend out West who described his life of total immersion in the outdoors and his love of fast cars and motorcycles. His stories were so astonishing and descriptive that I urged him to write them down. Who could have guessed that his prose would be extraordinary too. I told him he reminded me of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo style or other journalists I imagine writing about speed on speed…or some other hallucinogenic. You are in for a real treat! (I hope he doesn’t mind that I relocated the first paragraph from deep within the story to give you a perspective of what is going on)

For whatever reasons, not the least of which was my father having a triple bypass at 35, I always figured on needing to pack as much experience into one presumably short life as a person could. So I’ve had the pedal down as far back as I can remember. The joke is on me of course, I never developed heart disease, but I did break a few bones, lose a shitload of skin and probably deserve to be dead 30 times over doing various things. Also got a late start building a career, so I’ll probably be working until I am in fact dead—but I design/test outdoor gear. How bad can that be?

OK, a quick bio: I’ve always been bipolar or multi-polar regarding outdoor sports, grew up at the beach but was sneaking onto the Irvine Ranch (before it was developed) behind our house with my .22 to hunt rabbits and quail (yes, quail, you just have to make a head shot, and I don’t mean when they are flying) and started fly fishing in the mountains around LA whenever my mom could drive me or with the Boy Scouts, then Explorer Scouts. Luckily the Explorer group I joined was the mountaineering group in Anaheim, which gave me my first glimpse of the High Sierra’s, and I got as interested in Golden Trout as I did in peak bagging.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, it was good bye to the scouts, and I was off every winter weekend to cross country ski tour/snowcamp in the San Gorgonio or San Jacinto Wilderness areas, often alone, which would drive my mom crazy, then backpack with a fly rod in the summer. Surf, ski, climb, hunt, fish, and of course getting around when younger I got everywhere on a bike, which became a nicer and nicer bike which became another, lifelong passion including a little bit of road racing in high school. I quit that because I kept getting clobbered by motorists who in those days weren’t used to seeing humans on road racing bikes out in traffic. Last crash involved being hit from behind by a car and flung through traffic across three fast lanes of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was like playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber and surviving without a scratch. The rear wheel and rear triangle of my bike absorbed most of the impact and I came to a stop on the center divider balancing on my crank set, still clipped in, cars whizzing by in both directions. I did not get religion, I just left the bike laying in the highway and hitched home. No more road bikes for me.

Then one summer I came through Ketchum on a fly fishing trip and saw my first mountain bike—one of Tom Ritchey’s first hand-made bikes at the Elephant’s Perch, and my life was wrecked. I was living in Laguna at the time and the steep coastal hills were crawling with jeep roads, single track and game trails.

In a fitting way I was wrapping up my involvement with motorhead activities. My first car was a red Alfa Romeo Duetto softail Spider which I rescued from ruin and re-built myself. My second car was a raging-fast Lotus Elan which followed the same pattern, find a junker and bring it back to life one turn of the wrench at a time. I’d had a go-kart my Dad built for me when I was about 7, motorcycles, etc. so high performance driving was written into the software by the time I was a teen, and I could really drive. At one point I actually thought about it as a career, maybe an F1 pilot like Dan Gurney, but as I started hanging out at various tracks I realized I couldn’t stand the people who were involved with the sport. They were like golfers on crack.

With some irony I had long been co-evolving into a leftist tree hugging wilderness freak motorhead. I joined David Brower’s F.O.E. (Friends of the Earth) when I was 16, was reading Abbey, getting pangs about joining Dave Foreman’s Earth First gang but didn’t like the idea of prison. Note that both cars I mentioned were small, light, fast, fuel-efficient machines. But showing up to a Sierra Club meeting with my Lotus (even though it got 30 mpg) didn’t go too well. Which I found really disappointing. The leftist tree huggers turned out to be like accountants on crack.

In those years I tried everything that fit my personal ethos of small footprint, treading lightly, loving wild places, and having a fucking great time getting to those places. Think of hand-made (by me), aero cross-country ski racks and skis tucked behind the tiny roof line of a Lotus Elan howling through the desert North of LA at 2 A.M., on the way to Mammoth Tamarack lodge with the headlights off, navigating by the full moon at 120 mph with the Doors playing Riders on the Storm backed up by the sound of a nasty, tweaked-out twin cam motor pushing a low, smooth glass slipper through the void. Fuck the Sierra Club. (Continue to Part 2/3 in post below)

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Grouse Hunting On The Scottish Moor

walking on that heather on the right was impossible!

A dream come true. Traditional grouse hunting in Scotland…although it’s called “shooting” here. The romance of the moor and the heather and the huge vistas and spectacular hills and views. I just had it all with a new Scottish friend (who has hunted in South Africa, but never for grouse on his native moors), a gamekeeper and his young protege. All three of them wore the traditional cap, tweeds, waistcoat (vest), tie, breeks (pants that only go just below the knees), tall stockings with a bit of colored cloth called a flash). My traditional gear included only the cap, purchased years ago in a London gun shop, and the Barbour coat that kept me sweating like a horse. Accompanying us were three black retrievers and two German pointers.

this is what my moor looked like with green fields in the distance, but NO paths between the heather

What an exhausting adventure. I am proud that I made it at all. I don’t know how people do it, climbing up and down hills that are slippery with running and puddled water on/over/around the beautiful pink-flowered heather obstacle course that can trip you or twist your ankle. Just walking was demanding. Trying to keep your footing, while watching for a sudden explosion of a flying bird—so that you can shoot in an instant—was damn near impossible. In fact a party of gents last week had barely walked 500 yards, but had tripped and fallen so often that Craig the gamekeeper ended the day for safety reasons.

typical proper warm fall day outfit with breeks and orange flash on stocking

As Craig said, at the end of our six-hour effort, “No need to go to the gym for your workout today.” It was much much harder than I ever imagined. I thought the dogs would point, we’d walk up behind them, the keeper would flush them, and we’d take a reasonable shot at 20 or 30 yards. Instead “the birds aren’t playing the game the way they’re supposed to.” Covey after covey would rise in a group and fly off from 50 to 100 yards away. Sometimes there was a straggler who stayed behind and later flew off unexpectedly in a low-flying getaway burst. At the end of four hours, with nothing to eat since breakfast but plain water, we had shot at maybe four birds and hit none.

So Craig pushed us on for two hours more gunning for partridge. And again we found coveys that rose in the distance. Along the way, we nudged at least 40 pheasant, but their season doesn’t open up until October 1st, so now we had to not only see a bird and raise the gun and aim and shoot in less than a second without falling off or down the hill, but also first size up the breed and make sure it was NOT a pheasant. What a challenge!

A minute after I was bemoaning our first partridge covey that took off more than 50 yards from where I was walking, a straggler at 35 to 40 yards flew after his pals left to right, and I was able to down him. My only bird of the day out of maybe three chances that were within range. Then we followed that group of 10 or so until it was frustratingly busted up by a retriever named Max who didn’t obey his master’s recall. Nevertheless after almost two hours of persistence, my friend Bob hit his only bird of the day that took the five dogs almost 15 minutes to locate.

red grouse

I won’t be able to download my pictures until I return home, so I have found some images from catalogs that will give you an idea of what a gentlemen looks like on the moors. All very dignified and a bit formal, but clearly “right” and quite elegant, don’t you think?

As for the birds? I have included some pictures of what they look like as well.

red-legged partridge

In searching for these photos, I found an August 6, 2010 FT.com story about the British grouse industry, which is very impressive. However I must point out that the costs to me for shooting is nothing like what you will read below. That is because we are staying at a lodge for 11 days, rather than flying in for just one day. Check out these excerpts:

“This year, however, those who look to shooting for part of their income are in confident mood, despite the fragile state of the economy. Mr Shedden said estates could charge more than £10,000 ($16,000+) for a day’s sport, which would typically involve the birds being driven towards eight guns.

“There is no shortage of people looking for good grouse shooting in Scotland,” he said.

Grouse shooting is thought to contribute up to £30m to the Scottish economy. The government estimates that sports shooting in Scotland – including deer-stalking – is responsible overall for £240m of direct and indirect economic activity, and maintains the equivalent of 2,000 full-time jobs.”

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Exercise/Sport Report

David Beckham shows off abs for Armani ad—2009

David Beckham shows off abs for Armani ad—2009

I am now addicted. Maybe it’s endorphins that are kicking in. I read that they can be as powerful as morphine. I have become a sportaholic or exercisaholic. I am astonishingly fit, hardly tire, barely sweat (it is 40-50 degrees outside the indoor tennis courts I play on these days).

In just 25 November days, I have done the following:

Tennis—played 15 times, some sessions for three hours of singles and doubles

Squash—played, mostly practiced 6 times, three in a clinic, each session one hour.

Hunting—3 times, average of three hours each time

Zumba—once

Crunches—9 times, some slow, some sloppy but 500-700 most times

Lat pulldowns—6 times

I am now an exercise junky. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can You Make Sudden Changes of Heart and Mind?

I had a real confrontation yesterday morning that is worth mentioning as an example of how hard it is to change your mind and be flexible. I’ll detail it in a moment.

There are many people who want constant stimulation and excitement. They go from one party to the next, maybe three in a day, play tennis in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Hopefully you, like me, have seen three movies in a row. But some of us, and I am one of those folks, need a little space between the highs. A breather. A time to reflect, or at least digest, the great times we were just fortunate enough to experience.

I admit that I am able to spend time alone and not feel lonely. I know personality types who are energized by being in crowds or groups. Still others could almost be despondent if they had no plans to socialize on a Saturday night. They boast gleefully that they were invited to an exclusive party or to so many Christmas celebrations that they are basically bar hopping. Or that they are already planning, and possibly taking, yet another vacation after only eight weeks.

Some will admit that being alone makes them think too much about their lives and problems. They need to be constantly distracted by external events that demand their attention or interaction. Maybe they can never be satisfied for long, by either one partner, one house, one play or just one restaurant meal a day or a week. And I am not saying that anyone should be. We are all different people with various personalities. That is part of the richness of meeting people and having new adventures.

Ok. What was my confrontation? Read the rest of this entry »

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Mother Nature Gets Even and Has a Tick Attack Me From Behind

The turkey is cooking as I write. Friends will come over to taste wild turkey for their first time. It is nothing like a domestic bird. I have marinated the turkey for two days in garlic, oil, white wine. It smells great.

before cooking

before cooking

The day of the hunt, Wednesday, I went to the gym. Nothing special. I was pretty tired. But at least I made it there–workout number 7 for the month.

On Thursday the 28th, I did 50 push ups again, 10 breaths, 10 more, 10 breaths, and 6 more. I wrote and rested.

Then Mother Nature got even with a smile. In the afternoon, I felt a sharp pin prick near my butt. I touched, my wife looked, and there was a tick, locked in a potentially harmful 36-hour kiss. It was hidden between my cheeks! And that was why I had missed it when I’d done my “tick check” with a mirror. Clever guy. He also knew how to conceal himself from the prey…which was me. And I was worried about the coyote jumping me from behind. A tiny tick did it.

Every time I come out of the woods, I unfailingly examine myself for ticks within three hours. I have been told that if you remove them within 24 hours, there is probably going to be no problem—not enough time for the insect’s saliva to make much of a difference. After a day, there is more danger of getting Lyme disease or another very serious bacterial infection called ehrlichiosis.

So if I got a bird, a tick got me. I have many friends who have been sickened by these bites, and in addition to dizziness, fatigue, fever, aches, some have had facial distortions, lost memory for years…it can be bad. So it goes.

I knew I had really adapted to country life when I could walk in the woods and tall grass and be OK about spending a few minutes taking 20 or more ticks off my clothes and skin. I felt I had arrived.

I have city friends who drove to our farm, got out of the car, stood on the driveway and unabashedly placed their pants inside their socks, sprayed insect repellent containing DEET on their clothes, and then walked on the driveway pebbles into the house. Fortunately I have learned to love the woods and live with its risks. And I have never even seen a bear or a mountain lion…just coyotes and bobcats, like this one a friend photographed at the same farm where I shot this week’s turkey.

bobcat

bobcat (photo by Rudy Kellerman)


Read the rest of this entry »

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My Perfect Turkey Hunt (Non-Hunters May Want to Skip This Post Except For The Type In Boldface Below)

The most amusing thing about this hunt was how many things went wrong. When I woke at 3:30, I could hear the raindrops on the roof and down the gutters. I put on a bathrobe and went outside to actually feel how bad it was. Only slight. I would be drenched and cold by the end of the morning. But the season ends on the 30th, so I had run out of time.

Once at the farm where I hunt, I walked through wet grass in the hayfield that was up to my waist. Damp and chilled already in 43 degrees darkness. A quarter mile later I am in the forest at meadow’s edge, decoy set up. I wait an hour for light and the first gobbles. Nothing, but cold.

After another 30 minutes, I give up, assuming there are no turkeys in this roost where they often spend the night. Just as I put my arrows back in the quiver, I hear the cluck of a tom, already on the ground and looking for a hen. I talk to him for 20 minutes, trying to attract him in my direction. I never see him, but do hear a hen come in toward him swooning and then the quick fluttering and clacking as they mate briefly. More silence.

At last I do give up, stand and walk towards a pasture. Shockingly, after I move 25 yards, two birds fly away. One goes southwest and the other northeast. I head toward the bird to the north, laughing at how they laughed at me. Maybe watched me. Usually by this time, they would have been on the ground for over an hour…at some distance if they were nervous at my presence. Bad enough they didn’t make a sound. So much for all my patience. Maybe the drizzle and cloudiness kept them in the trees so much longer.

Anyway I circle around and never spot the bird to the north, even after creeping slowly past the openings to two pastures. Along the way, I almost step into three coyote scat markings. Continuing to the west, I do see the bird who went south. He is three fields away, at least 200 yards, and making a gobble that is more like a baby gurgling. Subdued and as if he has a berry stuck in his throat. Nothing firm and resonant.

I consider circling around through the forest behind me, so that I can move 100 yards closer to him off to the right. But my instinct orders me to just stay put near where I am. So I get into position on the edge of the forest, next to the second pasture, behind a tree but a foot wide. I cut some bushes in front of me with clippers and wait to see what will happen.

Just then a young scrawny deer darts out to my left, pauses, walks about five yards in front of me and heads along a trail to my right. I thought she would smell me and bolt, but she moves easily, and neither starts nor stops. Ahhh, the surprises from Mother Nature.

Meanwhile the turkey has continued moving in my direction and cleared a stone wall. He is about 150 yards away.

Next a real surprise. A coyote comes along, following the deer gradually. Again just five yards away. I am waiting for him to sniff my presence. But I am invisible to him too. Maybe the wind is blowing towards me, so that my scent is behind me. At this point I am a tiny bit nervous. I’d rather not have a hungry coyote face -off and have to pull a knife. The hunter might become the hunted.

coyote

coyote

One time years ago when I was calling toms with the sound of a hen in heat, a coyote stalked me. When I stood up to see what was making the sound on the leaves, I was staring at a coyote three yards away ready to spring. And I had no weapon in hand for defense. We looked in each other’s eyes for what seemed like 10 or 15 seconds. Then he turned and ran off. I didn’t like being so helpless. Though these animals weigh about 40 pounds and look like mangy dogs, I have seen the deer and sheep they have killed with a bite and rip to the throat.

But this time nothing happened. Although I was listening a bit for sounds from behind.
Read the rest of this entry »

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A Footnote for Those Who Abhor Hunting

I know that some of you are willing to eat meat and fowl, but would never think of killing the animals yourself. I understand and respect that point of view. I once took an Aikido workshop with a master from Japan. He said he thanked every grain of rice for giving up its life, so that he could be sustained. My turkey is already plucked and dressed and marinating in the refrigerator for a big meal of gratitude this weekend. I hope this makes my experience a little bit more acceptable to you.

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Two Basic Life Lessons from the Bow and Arrow.

Some more thoughts about the importance of practicing correctly that come to mind when you use the bow and arrow. When you draw the arrow and string back, you should repeatedly place the same part of your hand that is holding the string on the same spot of your cheek. It is called the anchor point. That way for every shot, your eye is always looking at the target when there is a constant relationship among the bow, arrow, and the released arrow’s flight path.

My initial practice each season is out in the open, with nothing between me and the target. I am always kneeling, because that is how I will be positioned on the hunt. Once I am able to hit the target consistently—and I do this by finding the same anchor point for each shot—I change my location. I was smart enough all these years to realize that I had to be behind a tree when drawing the bow on a real turkey—if I drew out in the open, the bird would see the motion. So I’ve practiced shooting from behind a tree. First I draw slowly with maximum concealment. Then I lean over to the right, peering gradually to minimize my movement and still see my prey. And then I often miss the 3-D target and in the field the live bird.

What I noticed three days ago is that as I leaned over, I was not making sure that my hand was connecting with my anchor point. So my alignment was off, and I was shooting high and/or wide. Lots of frustration. But then I figured it out. Lesson to be learned: re-examine what might be going wrong when things aren’t going right. I have “only” been hunting with a bow for maybe eight years. No wonder I have taken just one bird in all that time.

The other technique I learned recently is that when shooting down at the bird from a higher elevation, like a hill, one should NOT aim based on the actual distance between me and the turkey. Pretend it is less, and shoot as if it is less.

I was complaining to an engineer friend of mine who bow hunts how often my arrows went over the bird’s back. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Hunters Like About Hunting

Was determined to reach the gym—need two more visits this month to make eight total. But also wanted to practice archery in preparation for the turkey-hunting season, which starts on May 6th. So at 6:30 pm, I went out to the life-size, three-dimensional rubber turkey target and fired off a few arrows for the first time since last fall.

The first two hit the bird; then I started missing. In the second group of eight arrows, only three hit the target. But by the end, 8/8 were in the turkey. This is really good for me. So I stopped and raced off to the gym, which stays open until 10 pm.

I learned how to hunt in Connecticut (many many men do it here) with a shotgun in the early 90’s. My neighbor used to own a hunting and fishing shop, and he introduced me to this aspect of rural life. I discovered that I loved the outdoors, the silence, the aloneness, the commune with nature, bumping into deer and coyotes and bobcats and many birds singing their different songs. I learned that I loved the taste of wild turkey, which is nothing like a domestically raised bird. I loved the challenge of finding the turkey, calling it in close with a noisemaker that simulates a real bird, hitting it, plucking it, gutting and dressing it and learning the different ways to cook it.

It’s all part of a hunting/gathering tradition that humans have known for thousands of years, and almost all city-folks are totally unaware of. I felt like I was connecting with my roots, my past, unknown ancestors and the present natural world at the same time. I must confess that I was such a city guy, so naive and uninformed about the outdoors, that I did not realize until I was 46 that birds had different sounding songs that could be used to identify them. Can you believe that? I am still astonished that I was so out of touch with Mother Nature. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Do You Think He Lost 130 Pounds?

Whew! I am OK. Thought I strained myself with too much exercise, and especially that ab workout last Wednesday, when I jumped right to some advanced drills on the ball. Could never be satisfied sticking with beginner stuff. Was worried that I might have caused a hernia, so I decided to rest a few days. Felt a little strain.

I did do 46 push ups on Friday morning, rested for 10 breaths, and dropped for another 14 My record in long ago days was 150 push ups total, with those 10 breath intervals. Also did 100 leg scissors to beef up my abs.

Thursday I left to watch my first professional squash match—very exciting and much higher level of play than the college games I have seen. As a friend said, those pros can really “whack” the ball. Reminds me of all the movie hitmen who whack their targets.

Came home Friday for the annual game dinner at a hunting and fishing club I joined a year ago. Love the talk about how many fish were caught, dogs flushing pheasants, deer missed by inches when they ducked the arrow heard whooshing towards them. Another world. Active and sometimes manly men…and a few women. They may have had quadruple bypasses two months ago—like one man in his 70’s or 80’s I met—but they are already walking their dog a mile or two each day to get in shape for walking the river with a fly rod.

Another member is now raising 25 chickens from chicks for the first time and buying organic lamb from a neighbor. All healthy and outdoors. And some of these gents are lawyers and hedge fund guys—along with serious and multi-generational farmers. An interesting mix.

One fit young man there I know is 35, weighs maybe 150, goes to the gym every work day, and has a private trainer work with him two of those days. “How are your abs?” I blurted out nosily. “I have too much skin to have abs,” he confessed. “I weighed 284 pounds in college.” Wow was I shocked. Turned out he didn’t eat properly. I didn’t pursue any deeper questions, like “How the hell did you lose 130 or 140 pounds?” Read the rest of this entry »

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