I had the pleasure of spending last weekend with Kasey Strganac from North Carolina as she hunted and I filmed at Wiley’s Outdoors Adventures in South Alabama. I have been friends with Kasey through Facebook, exchanging wall posts and personal messages with her regularly.
Kasey also follows my Guru Huntress column, my blog and has signed up for several of the 2011 Ladies in Camo hunts. I have become familiar with Kasey over the last several months through following her on Facebook, reading about the bear hunts with her hounds and her hunting trips through her photo albums. Meeting each other for the first time, we felt we already knew each other; as if we were visiting with an old friend, picking up the stories where we left off and finding out greater details about those we had already read about.
I met Bubba Dees and his son, Wiley Dees earlier in the year at a filming seminar. They are the owners of Wiley’s Outdoor Adventures where they specialize in trophy hunts for many different game animals. They are both genuine people that go out of their way to help with many different fund raisers and association/organization hunts; matter of fact Wiley was at an Outdoors Without Limits hunt on Friday and Saturday. Both are advocates of Safari Club International and Bubba is the vice president of the Alabama SCI chapter.
Wiley’s Outdoor Adventures has a beautiful lodge filled with mounts from all over. When you first walk into it, it actually seems more like a museum than a lodge and bow shop. WOA is one of the biggest PSE dealers in the area and has an on-site bow shop for fitting an archer with a new bow, repairing bows or just tweaking them for the field. You will also find a variety of name brand hunting products and logo wear. What you will definitely find a heaping helping of is good old southern hospitality.
Kasey’s hunt on Saturday morning started out in a ladder stand on a power line. Power lines are always pretty with green fields and a vast view. We were fortunate enough to see a couple does cross the power line but no bucks. Kasey did see a coyote and commented on how pretty the coyotes were here compared to her area; which I am sure is due to our milder weather during the fall and winter.
Our third hour into the hunt, I thought to myself that Kasey is surely going to think that southerners are lazy hunters, sitting and watching green fields. Back home, Kasey’s family and hunting community hunt with hounds and they are constantly on the move or hiking mountains; two completely different worlds.
Once the sun was up, the weather turned mild and we had a beautiful view in the sunlight. It was a still and peaceful morning; with the sun’s beams warming us up to a comfortable state–a little too comfortable to me since I nodded off once or twice for a brief second. I had to start multitasking to stay awake.
At 11:10 a.m., Bubba and Richard came driving down the road to get us from the stand. We were both pretty happy to see them coming since our stomachs were growling pretty good knowing it was close to lunch. I felt like the backside of my belly button was rubbing my backbone raw. For some reason, I just cannot talk my system into eating anything at 3:30-4:00 a.m. before heading out on a hunt. Force feeding is out of the question as I am vaguely reminded at the thought of the outcome reminiscing back to that early morning turkey hunt two seasons ago….NEVER again will I make myself eat when my stomach is saying NO!!
Before we returned to where the truck and trailer was parked, we drove around checking for tracks. We drove the winding road system and saw some really pretty places. We stopped by an old cemetery on the property with head stones dating back as early as the 1700s. It was really neat reading the engraving on the headstones and seeing the old fences.
When we finally hung a right onto the asphalt heading back to the house, Bubba asked, “Ya’ll ready to eat yet?” I don’t think any one in the truck wasted half a breath as we all affirmatively chimed in together. I normally do not wear my hunting clothes in restaurants but short of going into that little cafe half naked, I was getting me something to eat and I wasn’t going to wait. On this trip, one thing that Kasey was definitely going to get a heaping dose of was good old Southern cooking.
Our afternoon hunt was spent on the edge of a green field in a blind. This was Kasey’s very first time hunting from a blind. We didn’t see much deer movement until the last hour before sundown. Five does filed out to our right onto the upper end of the field at about 150-180 yards. As Kasey was looking at those through the Leupold binoculars, three does filed out about 80-100 yards from our blind to our left. We scanned the field continuously hoping for a buck sighting; that didn’t happen. Bubba was there to pick us up right after dark.
When we got back to the lodge, we could smell the coals in the grill burning. We sat around talking and watching the football game until dinner was served. Grilled Beef Tenderloin, baked potato with all the fixings, wheat yeast rolls and sweet tea. For dessert we had cheesecake. Whew, my belly was tighter than a two-day old stuck tick about to pop.
Sunday’s hunt was uneventful. Kasey and I were in a ground blind on the power line and we didn’t see any deer. The temperatures were much colder and the wind was blowing harshly. We actually called this hunt a little earlier than normal. We were able to stand around and talk at the truck before heading to lunch.
Bubba shared some pretty neat stories. Richard and Bubba started talking about deer habitat. I noticed Kasey was awful quiet, when I looked at her, she mouthed to me “I AM STARVING!!” I laughed and said me too…let’s get in the truck and maybe they will know we are ready to go. It worked and before we knew it, we were sitting comfortably at a big table in front of a gas wall heater at Tin Top Cafe with a plate of good old country cooking in front of us and a glass of sweet tea….LIFE IS GOOD!!
We headed back to the lodge and a toasty fire was burning in the fireplace. I pulled up a portable reclining chair and relaxed in front of the fire. Kasey ended up relaxing on the couch. I think both of us actually caught a little nap. It was really chilly this morning and that wind blowing down that power line right into our blind had chapped our skin. Being indoors, even if just briefly, was a blessing and just long enough to get us warm, rested and ready to head back out.
On the Sunday afternoon hunt Kasey and I both had thought it would be good to sit in the blind on the green field we had the afternoon before. In the way of deer, we only saw does. We did see a HUGE raccoon and a fox which was pretty neat, but the fox came in so quickly I was unable to get it on film. I tried hard to convince Kasey to kill a big doe that was on the green field but she wanted to hold out for a buck just in case. I was more intrigued by the does size than anything and curious as to what she would weigh…she was one of the biggest southern does I have ever seen.
Sunday evenings at WOA are reserved for an inspiring fellowship meeting that Bubba and Wiley host called Fur, Feathers, and Faith Ministries and the participants were starting to arrive when we returned from the field. Tonight’s meeting would include watching the football game after the group meeting. Richard, Kasey and I drove into Troy, Alabama to eat at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. It was nice to sit down in an atmosphere where we didn’t have to whisper back and forth and move slowly. We had Kasey back at the house by 9:00 p.m. so she could be well rested for her morning hunt. Richard and I had to work on Monday so we had Clyde loaded up and were headed home.
A heartfelt thank you to Bubba Dees and the WOA staff for having us, you really showed us a great time. Thank you to Kasey Strganac for trusting that I would be a good mentor and hunting friend in the woods–I enjoyed our “whispered” talks and sharing stories and hunting tips. The weekend was very enjoyable and it was nice to spend time in the outdoors doing the things we love most with others. The fellowship and camaraderie was priceless. I always say I learn or experience something new every time I go out in the field; this trip was no exception. This hunting trip is one that I will have great memories of. As the saying goes–time always flies when you are having fun…but I won’t complain…sharing it with good folks helps you to walk away with a renewed soul, a warm heart and a smile on your face.
Thank you to Kasey Strganac and Bubba Dees for contributing their photos to this blog.