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Teresa McCullough, the owner of Lady Bowhunters on Facebook, shares her experience from this past September’s ladies hunt. Teresa and I have spent all six of the annual hunts at Double Deuce Ranch in Powersville, Missouri owned by the Helbing Family. We have shared some really great times, as well as some lows. Teresa is always encouraging the ladies who join us at the ranch to make the hunt their own and enjoy themselves. Here is Teresa’s

Ladies, if you ever have a chance to hunt at the Double Deuce Ranch, DO IT! This is an annual all ladies bow hunt. This place is absolutely AMAZING! It’s a five-star lodge with comfortable accommodations and delicious meals served family style. The Helbing family make you feel like friends from the moment you arrive. The deer are plentiful and land is breathtaking! The properties have several lakes to fish in on your downtime. We always have a fish fry with the fish that we catch on the ponds. One of the favorites is pizza night at their home that is decorated in African Safari; it’s simply beautiful!

I’ve been hunting at the ranch for six years now and I will never miss a chance of going back. I love this place and often tell people if I run away, you can find me there. Upon arrival at the Double Deuce Ranch, you will be greeted by the Helbing family, who will help you unpack your vehicle and will set you up in a room at the lodge. You can shoot your bows at the range to make sure everything is sighted in for your hunt. They take the time to show each hunter around and to show us our stands and the layout of the land and lakes. Again, it’s beautiful!

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As we all arrive and get to know each other we sit down for a home-cooked meal. The next morning, we begin our hunt. My first morning started out to be a good one. I walked to my stand that first morning in the dark, with all ten flashlights in my pack. Yes, I’m a bit chicken of the dark; but this year felt different. I wasn’t as scared. Now, mind you, I’ve been bow hunting for over 35 years and I still hate the pitch dark, but I am getting better.

As I made my way to my stand, climbed it, and got all set up waiting for first light, I began thinking back at all my hunts here. It sure put a smile on my face. As the sun peeked out, I began ranging my shots. The typical this tree, that leaf…I do this all morning because I forget my yardages. Does anyone else do this? As I sat there I saw deer legs through the trees. I watched them make their way to the food plot. I noticed three deer, one being a fawn, which now left me figuring which doe went with the fawn. As I ranged them again, and again, they made their way closer. By this time I had the big doe at forty yards, and I thought to myself, “that is close enough.” As I settled in and placed the pin on her, I squeezed my release and I let an arrow fly. She ran less than forty yards and dropped in the CRP. I knew she was down and the other two deer assured me she was where I last saw her.

I text Ben and told him I shot a doe. Ben asked, “was it a good hit?” I replied, “yes!” He said he would be there at 9:00. I got my crossbow ready to shoot again, just in case a buck stepped out, but a buck never did. Shortly, I saw the guys coming and as I sat in my stand I explained to Ben and Mike where the doe was the last I saw her. I climbed down to help in the retrieval. They found my arrow right where she stood. The arrow wasn’t covered in blood, in fact, there was very little blood, but from my past shots with a crossbow, it was the same. We began to look for blood and found a lot on the ground. We walked about five more yards and there she was. It is always nice to get your first deer of the season!

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I have been hunting over 35 years, always shooting a compound bow, but when Missouri made crossbow legal last year I decided to buy one. At first, I hated it, because I could not pull it back to cock it, my groupings were awful. After getting a new scope, custom blots and a crank to cock it, I am much more comfortable with it now. A love for hunting doesn’t mean that you or I have to shoot a compound, a recurve, a long bow, a crossbow, or a gun. It is your choice of the weapon you choose. That is not what makes us a hunter, it is YOU! All the time spent on practice, food plots, hanging stands, the list goes on. So ladies, don’t get discouraged, we all miss and sometimes wound an animal. That’s not what we want, but it happens. Get back out there and keep at it. Never let anyone say you can’t do something because YOU CAN! We are all hunters and proud!


Next year’s hunt is already on the calendar, the dates are September 13-19, 2018, the hunt is $1,100 and includes lodging, meals, and all the pond fishing your heart desires. The license is $225 and includes a buck, a doe, and two turkeys. A 50% deposit is all it takes to hold your spot. There are eight women signed up for this hunt with a few spots available. If you are interested or need additional information, please contact Nancy Jo Adams at turkeygypsy@gmail.com. Come join us for an amazing hunt and a lifetime of memories.

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I have had the opportunity to share hunting camp several times with Christy Turner. We share memories of two hog hunts in Mississippi at Bubba Ledbetter’s hunting camp; the first annual and second annual ladies hog hunt.  We shared turkey hunting camp in Oklahoma hosted by Carlee Smith. Tommie Lee Clanton hosted a deer hunt in Mississippi that I snuck in on; what great memories we have. This hunt was not any different. Here is Christy’s story.


Dear Diary…

It all started Wednesday morning, right after I had dropped my kids off at school. I made a mad dash home trying to do a hundred things at once so I could get on the road. I was sweeping floors, washing dishes, putting up clean laundry, bought extra toilet paper, bread, milk, cereal, dog food, and cat food. There! The husband, kids, and pets should have the essentials for the week that I will be gone. Finally, over packing the truck with all the hunting gear I own. I cranked the engine, plug the address into the GPS, and in eight hundred and four miles I should reach my destination. I turned the air-conditioning on full blast as I start down my driveway; because now I am a hot mess. Henderson County Texas was in the mid 90’s already before noon. I’m ready to travel north, and to hunt a Monster Missouri Buck!

My cell phones GPS got me all the way to Powervilles Missouri and informed me I had arrived at my destination, 140th street. I knew I must have a little further to go down 140th. I took a left on what looked like a hidden driveway. I wasn’t sure if I was pulling up to someone’s house or driving down a caliche road. Since I didn’t pull up to a residence, I just followed the road around corners, up and down hills, across bridges and railroad tracks. At the top of one of the hills to the left was a black pipe entrance that read, “Double Deuce Ranch come as guests and leave as friends.” I finally made it!” I pulled down the long driveway with rolling pastures and fields on either side.

I was greeted as soon as I stepped out of the truck by Ben and his brother Jacob. Then by their father and owner Mike. They were super friendly and polite and insisted on grabbing all those bags I packed and had me follow them into the lodge. Inside was Mike’s wife, Karen, and the other six ladies that I would be sharing camp with. We all introduced ourselves and gave each other hugs. This was the beginning of our lifelong memories being made on our new adventure together.

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My alarm clock went off that next morning, and I jumped straight up as if it were Christmas morning and I was five years old. Everyone was already in the kitchen sipping coffee, and we were all ready to head out for our first hunt. The excitement and positive energy in the room were contagious and so refreshing to absorb. Ben dropped me off at the gate that leads down to the tree stand I would be sitting in. I didn’t even need to turn on my flashlight I could see the freshly mowed path with the moonlight. I walked straight to my stand and climbed up and got all situated. I had taken my binoculars and rangefinder out of my backpack and had them sitting on the seat next to me. The sun was just starting to come up, but it was still too dark for my rangefinder to pick up any distance or for me to even read the range.

 

As I looked up from my rangefinder, a buck appeared looking right at me. I was straining so hard in the darkness to make out if he was a mature and legal buck. As I was squinting and straining my eyes, he began to walk straight to me! I was frozen in place as he walked all the way to the bottom of my ladder trainbridge (2)stand and looked right up at me! I was able to go, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and possibly a nine pointer and definitely a legal buck to shoot. As I sat there still frozen in place, he walked maybe ten yards away and turned broadside. Oh my gosh, could this get any better for the most perfect shot ever.

My mind was running a hundred miles an hour. What should I do? This was a nice buck, my very first hunt in Missouri; I had the whole week left to hunt. Don’t pass up a buck on the first hunt that you would shoot on the last, ran through my mind. I decided to make a decision, and I did not shoot. I just sat there staring back at him and thinking how amazing this hunt was already. It seemed like 15 minutes of us staring at each other motionless, he turned his head and walked off into the woods. I could finally move and take a deep breath. I text Ben telling him how excited I was, and that I had just seen a great buck. The sun finally appeared big and bright, and I had several doe and fawns walk in front of me. It was a great first hunt at the Double Deuce!

filmbuckEach time I went out to a stand, there was a lot of action going on. I had seen a monster buck through my binoculars, but he ranged in at a hundred and fifty-seven yards. I did not doubt in my mind he was a shooter buck! My heart started pounding, even though he was that far away. I was hoping and praying he would make an entrance and walk past me in the bottom of the creek that I was hunting. He never did, but the image of him plays over and over in my mind. I passed up several nice eight pointers within twenty yards of me because I was hopeful to see that monster buck again. I kept thinking to myself, I can shoot a nice eight pointer back in Texas. This was Missouri I was hunting, and I wanted a monster Missouri buck!

My last evening hunt, that phrase came back to me; Don’t pass up a deer on the first morning that you would shoot on your last hunt. Maybe I should have shot that nice eight on the first morning hunt. But you know if I would have that monster buck would have walked out in front of me at twenty yards and stood for fifteen minutes broadside, and I would have probably cried. Nothing had come out in front of me, and I could hear several Turkey going to roost for the evening. I thought man, my last hunt and I’m not even going to see a deer; I had so much action all week.

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Then all of a sudden through the window of the trees I see two, yes two monster bucks walk out of the tree line. My heart is already pounding before I even get my binoculars up. I can just tell they are shooter bucks without a doubt! My face mask was getting in the way, and I thought I just need to range them instead of taking my time to look at them through the binoculars. Seventy-six yards, the biggest of the two is in front at a steady walk up the hill. The second one stopped to graze for a few minutes. I was getting all prepared, hoping they would make their way to me or even come in behind me, I was ready. Finally, the second buck walked up the hill out of my view, and neither of them made their way to me.

I got down from my stand as it had gotten dark while I was waiting on those bucks to turn and make their way to me. I guess they kept going straight. My knees felt weak, and my heart was still full of excitement of just seeing those monster bucks. Ben picked me up and I learned that Rebecca shot a good eight pointer! We were on our way to pick her and her buck up! Rebecca made a perfect shot, and it was an easy recovery of her deer. I was so happy to be there to share in her success and excitement.

selfieMy last night in the Double Deuce lodge made me sad that I was going to have to leave in the morning. Mike, Karen, Ben, Jacob and the staff were so amazing. I felt so thankful that I got to meet this wonderful family. Everyone was so kind and hardworking. They were so respectful to us ladies and made sure we were well taken care of. I think I gained ten pounds from the delicious homemade food we ate all week. I am so grateful that Nancy Jo told me about this opportunity, it has been several years since I shared hunting camp with her and it was so nice to visit with her and catch up. Meeting the other ladies in camp, I know I have made lifelong friends. Getting to know each of the ladies on this hunt was very profound. I feel like God gave me this opportunity to meet some really amazing people and each one of them have truly inspired me. This wasn’t just a deer hunt; this was a rejuvenating, inspiring, blessed week that I will have with me for the rest of my life.

With a very grateful and full heart,
Christy Turner

 


 

 

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A beautiful double rainbow over Double Deuce Ranch.

My favorite hunt of the year has come and gone…but not without a rollercoaster of highs and lows. It started off with my gear bag ending up in Chicago, Illinois. As I was the last passenger at the luggage carousel in the Kansas City Airport watching one lone burgundy suitcase circle around for its eleventh time, I got a sinking feeling. I was fortunate of grabbing my Americase off of the carousel on its first pass; it safely held my Ten Point Crossbow. Raquel and Kim were going to be landing in the next few minutes in another terminal and I needed to let them know that I would be a little late getting to the rental car counters since I had to go to the Baggage Claim Office.

I took my iPhone out and it was off, definitely fully charged, but had no power. I could not get it to come on so I plugged it into my SnowLizard charger…NOTHING! I sat at a bench for a few minutes just to see if the iPhone would miraculously turn on. As I sat there, I thought to myself, “What a way to start a hunting trip.” As I sat there trying not to panic, I thought to myself, “I have my crossbow, my backpack that I have with me held my boots, my rangefinder, my binoculars, and my Ozonics. All I would need is pants and a shirt if it came to that.” I finally decided that my iPhone was not going to come on.

That is when I thought about my iPad, but without a iPhone hotspot, I had no internet service. I NEVER use public WiFi in places like airports and hotels; I just DON’T do it for good reason. I had to do the dreadful and sign on to free airport Wifi so I figured I would do it as quickly as possible. I sent a brief message to both ladies letting them know what I was dealing with, that I would be a few minutes longer, and for them to go ahead and meet me at the rental car area. I was successful in getting that message to them and I quickly disconnected from the dreadful, unsecured free Wifi. To make a long story short, the claim office was able to locate my bag, get it re-routed and it was promised to be delivered to me in Powersville later that evening. It was delivered as promised and what a relief when I finally had it in my hands.

After a delicious dinner and visiting with everyone back at the lodge I retreated to my room to prepare my backpack and gear for the next morning; our first morning of hunting. I was going to my favorite piece of ground and I was hunting a stand in the hardwoods. Last year I had a raccoon visit me in my stand with her baby in tow. She nearly came to the top step of the ladder before I got her attention and she slowly backed down; scolding me for taking her seat. This year, she left me TWO big piles of raccoon scat on the tree stand seat.

After getting settled in, I had such a peaceful morning as the sun started to rise. The first deer that came by were two spotted fawns. Nearly an hour passed before two mature does, two fawns, and two yearlings came to my stand, seeking acorns and eating tender browse. The fawns frolicked as the other deer fed. Finally, one of the does notice something didn’t look the same in the tree and she came closer to investigate. I was wearing my HECs suit and had my Ozonics on so I made sure not to make eye contact or move. She finally went back to feeding after circling the entire tree base. After of those deer moved out I had two other deer come through at varying times, one that actually bedded downwind of my stand in the high weeds. At 10:30 a.m. I decided to come down and I did so without disturbing the deer bedded just 30 yards away. Eleven deer my first morning, maybe my luck was changing.

img_3101-2After spending time at the lodge with everyone and eating a hearty brunch. I decided I would head back to my stand at 4:00 p.m., so I had plenty of time for a quick nap beforehand. When I woke up, I could hear a few people downstairs getting ready to head back out. I grabbed a bottle of water for my backpack and I was off to my stand. This afternoon I was going to sit in a stand on a newly placed greenfield. It had been several years since I sat in this stand, but I was anxious to see how well the deer used the new green field next to a huge Ag field planted in corn. I was not in the stand an hour when the first deer visited the field; a young 4-point. About thirty minutes later, a doe and fawn came to the field, followed by another doe ten minutes behind.  About 45 minutes before sunset, I had a young 4-point and a small 8-point come to the field. These two bucks were feeling their youth and started tussling in the field, sparring. I took a few minutes to video them. I put my camera up and decided I needed to sit still and really pay attention to the last bit of daylight.

img_3755-1-e1506069532288.pngIt was a good thing that I did, as I was staring at the wall of corn in front of me when I spotted movement on the trail to the right of me. A nice 8-point with good mass was walking up the trail and he stopped to eat clover just 15-yards from me. He was a nice buck, but this buck just didn’t give me that “OH SHIT FACTOR” so I decided to slip my iPhone out of the top pocket of my backpack at my knee and get a picture and video of him. As soon as I had a little clip of him and a few photos, I sent one of the still photos to Mister. I was holding my iPhone above my backpack pocket until I confirmed that the text was sent and Mister had received it.

As I was sliding the iPhone down into my backpack, I heard breathing under me. At first, it took me a second to realize what it was because I have never heard a deer breathing like that while in the stand 15-feet in the air. Then movement caught my eye, focused on the object, and immediately I thought to myself, “OH SHIT!” I instinctively placed my hand on my crossbow and moved it over in front of me as quiet as I could. That buck walked directly under and straight out in front of me. There was one limb hanging down and he was standing behind it. That gave me plenty of time to put my crossbow where I needed it, and switch the safety off. I shouldered my crossbow and got the scope situated properly. The buck stepped out from behind the branch as he turned to the left. When he cleared the branch and was standing textbook broadside, he saw the blob in the tree, the same blob that all of the deer had stopped at momentarily before going right back to doing what they were doing. When he glanced up, I could instantly tell he had a wide rack and he was definitely several inches outside of his ears. I focused back on the spot I needed to place the shot at, and I slowly pulled the trigger.

The sound of the impact seemed perfect, the buck and kick-out only provided visual proof that the shot hit the mark. I felt I did everything right and didn’t rush the shot. I watched the buck as he ran across the green field and went into the woods, I mentally marked the spot. There was a sound similar to a buck crashing into a heap just inside the leafy, briar thick woods. The 8-point I took a picture of and had text to Mister was standing just off the green field, looking into the woods where the buck I shot had entered. I quickly picked up my iPhone and called Mister:

Mister: “Hello.”

Me (whispering): “Did you get my text?”

Mister: “The one of the buck that you said didn’t give you the Oh Shit Factor?”

Me: “Yeah. BUT…..THE ONE I JUST SHOT DID!!”

Mister: “No way!”

Me: “Yep! He is a nice one with a split G2 and I believe a little junk. It happened pretty quick.”

Mister: “Did you get a good shot on him?”

Me: “I did everything right, heard the impact, he bucked up and ran off. I marked the spot where he went in the woods and I am pretty sure I heard him crash. I have a buck and doe on the green field that are still staring in that direction.”

Mister: “Good! I am excited for you.”

Me: “I have to text Ben.”

Mister: “Keep me updated.”

Me: “Hopefully I will be sending you a photo shortly.”

The 8-point was still standing there looking into the woods and remained there until I had all my gear gathered up and I was coming down the ladder. He finally ran off in the opposite direction with the doe following him. I felt pretty confident the buck was just inside the woods based on the actions of that 8-point buck and what I heard from the stand. When I had spoken to Ben, one of the guides, I told him to take his time because he was busy going around picking up the ladies to take them back to the lodge. About 30 minutes later, I saw headlights from the side-by-side. Ben, Jacob, and Caleb all jumped out of the cart as it rolled to a stop. I showed them the photo of the buck that I ha text to Mister and Jacob asked, “The buck you shot was bigger than this one?” I said, “Yes, and he had at least one split G2 and the other G2 is odd as well but I didn’t get a good look at it. I did, however, get a good look at him when he looked up at me before placing the shot and he is well outside his ears, but he does not have as much mass as this 8-point.” Ben and Jacob looked at each other and I think it was Ben that said, “We don’t have one like that on camera.” I showed them where the buck went into the woods. We started walking the green field and Caleb found the first blood. Within seconds we were on the trail.

We walked along the edge of the creek with me stopping and standing at the last blood to mark it for the guys. We found everything from droplets, to puddles, to piles of gooey thick blood with a matter in it. It wasn’t but 15-minutes when we came to the area where the buck crossed the creek; ironically in the steepest area he could, passing up several really easy spots to cross. Ben marked the crossing by hanging his ball cap on a tree limb. As we were standing there, they were shining their flashlights across the creek when one of them stopped on something that looked like weeds moving. I quickly realized it was the tips of the buck’s antlers. The buck was laying down and you could tell by the movement of the tips of his antlers that it was struggling to breathe with short breaths. At one point, it turned its head back as if licking its side.

“This is where we all realized
I had
made one huge mistake!” 

This is where we all realized I had made one huge mistake! We were standing 20-yards across the creek from a buck that seemed to be on its last air, bedded down, broadside to us, and my crossbow was sitting on the ground back at the side-by-side. With my mind thinking that the buck had crashed and would be expired just inside the woods, I didn’t even think about recocking my crossbow and carrying it in just in case we found the buck still alive, which was now the case. Ben told Jacob that we needed to go retrieve the crossbow quickly. We were about 150-yards from where my crossbow was at. As we got to it, Jacob got a text from Ben telling us to hurry because the buck was moving. When we returned, Jacob and Ben were on the move after the buck and they told Caleb and me to stay put.

They trailed the buck along the creek and tree line until the blood splatter ran thin and they reached the property line. They marked the spot and returned to us. We had one big issue working against us. This adjoining property was leased by out of state hunters and we could not search for the buck on that property until all the hunters were off the property. Being opening weekend, this would be Monday morning. In all fairness, this was bad for me but understandable. It was not fair to tromp all over the property that out of state hunters spent good money to hunt and especially on opening weekend. So now all there was to do was wait, and a long wait it was.

“A beautiful wide 12-point with split G2s and a kicker off of its right brow tine.”

img_3123-2Jacob checked the game camera that was on the green field since the buck ran right out in front of it after the shot. The camera did not get a photo of the buck crossing the green field but there was a photo from two nights earlier of the buck, up close and personal. It was definitely the buck because Ben had noticed it had a kicker off of its right brow tine. A beautiful wide 12 point with split G2s and a kicker off of its right brow tine. All I could do for two solid days was pray we found him on Monday morning and wait patiently. Whew, that was the LONGEST two days ever!

I went out one afternoon to turkey hunt and I stayed at the lodge the rest of the hunt, one afternoon I got to help make grizzly bear poppers for the group made from the grizzly bear Mike Helbing had shot in Alaska the week prior. These grizzly poppers were delicious!

 

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Mike Helbing’s beautiful Grizzly Bear harvested in Alaska.

 

As Murphy’s Law would have it, it rained twice during the weekend. Mid-morning we went out and walked the property, sticking close to the woods and creek line; we found NOTHING. Monday afternoon, it rained, but Mike got an inkling that maybe the buck made it through the adjacent property and could easily be on another small 80-acre parcel so we headed out again. We walked, and walked but found no sight of the buck or even a buzzard for that matter.

“I was heartbroken, defeated,
all of the air was knocked out of me.”

I was heartbroken, defeated, all of the air was knocked out of me. Not only was I feeling this way because it was a shame that we could not retrieve a buck of that caliber, but I was sad that I had inflicted pain on an animal that if it did not perish, it would suffer until it either perished or healed. That is a horrible feeling and leaves you numb. I really felt I did everything right. I felt the shot was good and the buck responded how so many before had that are now hanging on my wall at home. I was confused and numb, emotionally exhausted but I couldn’t wallow in my low point. I just couldn’t, I had other hunters at this hunt and I needed to suck it up, put on a good face and enjoy what was left of the 6th Annual Ladies Hunt at Double Deuce Ranch.

We had an amazing time, as usual, and there were several deer shot and processed and packed up for their trip home, including a really nice buck. I am so proud and happy for these ladies that harvested and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing camp with them. Most are returning next year for the 7th annual hunt–it’s a tradition now for many of us ladies.

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I can only learn from this experience, lay it down, and look forward to the next hunt which is already nearly booked. This was my first buck shot that I didn’t retrieve, as if that isn’t hard enough; it had to be a beautiful wide rack 12-point with split G2s and some other character–that is a hard pill to swallow. Maybe if he didn’t perish, they will see him again on game camera and put my mind at ease.

My double G2s at Double Deuce Ranch….a full hand of deuces, I guess that is only a winning hand in poker. Sigh!


Labor Day Weekend, a weekend where most people are headed to the beaches for the last HOORAH, or planning backyard barbecues; NOT US! I am pretty sure our Labor Day feast will be consumed sitting on the tailgate of Cletus, swinging our muddy boots back and forth, while popping another Pringle potato chip in my mouth all the while awkwardly balancing a ham and cheese sandwich on my knee. We will share taking in the view of a Kansas Ag field off in the distance. This is the life!

We were excited to both get drawn for the Kansas Whitetail Lottery; Mister even got lucky enough to draw a coveted Mule Deer Tag. The day the results were released our room was booked at the hotel and Mister started combing the maps, marking waypoints, researching land topography, creek meanderings, funnels, pinch points, everything important for stand placement.

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Northwest Kansas, one of our favorite places to hunt. This will be our 8th DIY hunt in this little tucked away town where we have grown quite fond of many locals that were born and raised there. A 1,268-mile one-way trip that takes 20.5 hours of straight through driving, a trip that would make most folks squirm in thought but one that builds excitement every state we pass through as we get closer to our destination. It is similar to scratching off a lottery ticket, you never

img_2999A lot of hard work goes into a do-it-yourself hunt and the hunt starts long before the engine ever started on Cletus. This D-I-Y hunt is only 75% the work since we have established land to hunt and are familiar with the area. There is still plenty work to do. We have one farm that we will place some SpyPoint Cameras on that will make scouting from home possible from many miles away. The Spypoint Link-Evo and Link-S use the same cellular coverage as our cell phones and we had pretty good reception when we turkey hunted this property this past spring; so we are hoping for good cellular coverage.

 

There are other properties we plan to scout and glass some in the late afternoons. I want to revisit a spot on public land that I hunted two years ago because I really liked the area; a stand we placed tucked away on the end of an Ag field where deer crossed between the two fields separated by an abandoned railroad track.

img_2995So much land to cover and just one three-day weekend to get it done in. We started this journey at 2:30 p.m. today and will arrive at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. We are one state down and have four more to pass through before we cross the state line into Kansas. A quick stop at the motel to unload Cletus, change into some field clothes, spray down, grab the backpacks, binoculars, cameras, cables, locks, and a few bottles of water and we will lace up our boots and hit the ground scouting.

Wishing everyone a fantastic Labor Day.


Mister and I attended the QDMA Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana last week and, as usual, took in all the knowledge we could from the seminars, enjoyed seeing friends, and dined on some great Cajun cuisine. The QDMA Convention was intertwined with the Louisiana Sportsman Show being held at the Dome.

Friday we visited the expo before the floor got busy with attendees. We found a few products to field test and a few to take to the field with us this fall, the Chameleon Blind, Texas Wildlife Feeders, and the new Sitka Gear ladies line. It was nice to walk around the expo before it got too busy, however…it also was the perfect environment to have had “too” much time to stop and ponder on a big purchase.

As we walked our first isle and took a turn, there it was, in all its GLORY!! It was like a beacon was shining down on it. It was at that moment that it “spoke” to me. Yep, loud and clear…while every noise in that huge dome went silent, it was like French horns and harps played softly in the back ground as the glimmer on the “Metallic Titanium” danced like fairy dust in the air. I was speechless….only for a moment, of course.

1Right there on the corner, sat a 2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX Ranch Edition and I felt like I just had to have it. It was begging to be named, to come live in Alabama, and join the ranks of our adventures. I could have sworn it blinked its LED lights slightly, just enough for me to notice, like Herbie the Love Bug did in the movie. Did it…wait, what, did it just….? It was almost like it cast a spell on me–pleading to take Hank the HuntVe’s place in the shop.

Hank the HuntVe……OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASkreeeeechhhh…. HANK the HUNTVE! Aw man, bittersweet. The memories this cart has shared over the years. The hunts we have shared together with so many riding around on Hank the HuntVe. The wildlife we have snuck up on in Hank. The turkey that we closed the distance on without those wise birds ever knowing we were hunting those woods. Could it be it was time to part ways with Hank the HuntVe…upgrade to more of a workhorse?

101_0467Could it be it was time to part ways with Hank the HuntVe…upgrade to more of a workhorse? This new cart was a WORK HORSE…what a bed it had on it. The salesman told us we could put 1,100 pounds of feed sacks in the bed of it…ELEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS!! It has a sealed stash box! Two cup holders! Still pretty plain from others that sported stereos, speakers, and tons of other features we wouldn’t need for farming and hunting. I sat on the seat…the passenger seat of course…WOW! I could have sworn it already had my butt indentions memorized. I even heard it whisper its name to me…more on that later.

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But, as excited as I was about the possibility of getting a new work horse….there was Hank….Hank the HuntVe. So, as I sit here thinking about advertising and parting ways with Hank the HuntVe and as we discuss its history with a new possible buyer, a flood of emotions, memories, and many miles of woods across the nation run through my mind. And, although it is not a done deal and we haven’t signed on the dotted line, my thoughts swirl as I say under my breath, “IT HAS BEEN A FUN RIDE, HANK….”

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Our trip started off with a low tire when we left home this morning. Cletus had evidentially picked up a bolt on a job site the previous day and we were not going to be able to make the one-hour commute into work without adding some air until we could get Cletus by Don Duncan’s All-American Tire. Nathan Woodring quickly assessed the situation, located and removed the bolt, patched the Cooper S/T Maxx-Armor-Tek3 tire, put it back on Cletus in record time. It was a relief that Mister found the bolt and the computer on Cletus told us we had an issue before we started out on this trip.

I can’t say that the workday crept…it was 3:30 p.m. when I finally was able to take a minute to evaluate the amount of work I had left to do versus the amount of time I had left in the “concrete jungle.” The last 1.5 hours flew by! As Cletus’ diesel motor turned over and started purring, we found ourselves strategically placing the last few items we had left to load in the cab of the truck. Snacks directly behind the console, bag of ice in the cooler behind my seat, a roll of paper towels behind the driver seat headrest, my computer bad at my feet…it all becomes second nature when you have shared over 450,000 miles on the road hunting together over the last 10 years.

The fancy box in the dash where the crazy lady lives!

I plugged in our destination into the square box mounted in the dash, Big T Motel in Tarkio, Missouri, and the “crazy lady that lives in that box” politely told us that we would reach our destination 14 hours from the current time. We were on our way!

One of our favorite authors, James Patterson.

 

 

 
I have spent many hours in the passenger seat typing, editing, uploading photos and even paying bills, shopping on Amazon. Some time in this 14 hour stretch, I have some typing for a women’s boot article that needed to be completed. But first, i was responsible for the entertainment of the evening. I put an audiobook on, James Patterson’s 11th Hour, and cranked up the sound and we were settled in for the long haul.

 

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One of our favorite snacks on the road; Club Crackers, squeeze cheese, & Wisconsin Beef snack sticks. 

After a stop for fuel at the Love’s truck stop, it was time for a snack. We have eaten many meals in the cab or on the tailgate of our truck–I have to admit, we have shared some of our favorite meals together there. Tonight, captain wafers, cheddar can cheese and jerky snack sticks. Okay, maybe not the healthiest of all snacks but surely much better than some of the alternatives while on the road.

Catching up with friends on social media is probing that this unseasonably warm weather is putting a damper on deer movement. We can only pray that we made the right decisions on the dates we picked and have chosen some good ground to hunt. This is what makes Do-it-Yourself hunts exciting; you never know what will unfold on the trip. As we made our way through Nashville, I can feel my shift at the wheel coming up in a few hours so I better catch me a nap. If you are hunting this weekend/week, good luck to you, safe travels and remember to ALWAYS wear a safety harness.


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Researching on Google Earth, land maps and other mapping apps.

We were really disappointed that we didn’t make the Kansas draw in our favorite unit for this fall. It didn’t take but half a day of sulking about it for us to come up with PLAN B. We got the calendar down off the wall, pulled up Google Earth on the computer, and the Missouri Department of Conservation website and started brainstorming. There was a long weekend coming up and if we were going to hunt unknown area and if we were planning for success, it had to be scouted.

Narrowing down our search to the northwest counties of Missouri, Mister researched, gathered information about each area from social media, maps and from MDC personnel–the research was done and now it was time to gather our maps and data and hit the road over Labor Day weekend and do some scouting.

 

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Confined to the cab of the truck…but I am on the mend.

Unfortunately, I was not much help to Mister with the scouting. I was on the mend from a torn ligature from the bottom my hamstring that attached just below the front of my knee on my right leg. I had a brace; which quickly was no help after extended walking because my muscle fatigued and I felt I was having to do struggle harder just to climb the sloping hills of the first 5,000-acre property that we looked at. After a few stops and a couple leg brace adjustments, I told Mister that I felt I was doing my leg more harm than good since it was just recently starting to feel much better–either from rest and icing or from the flood of anti-inflammatory medicine I was taking. The fact that I was less than a week from leaving for the 5th Annual Double Deuce Ranch Ladies Archery Hunt also played a major factor in my decision to sit out on the rest of the scouting. Being confined to Cletus was the perfect opportunity for me to do a little research on local hotels/motels, laundromats, grocery stores, and gas stations; and make a few calls.

 

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Checking Google Maps, paper maps and after scouting the first hunting area. 

We started this trip with five areas of interest and we narrowed it down to three. Ultimately, we were really impressed with two of the three areas. I was extremely excited about one that we stopped at…I actually saw the largest deer tracks I have ever personally witnessed. I have seen hog tracks this large but the track was actually almost as large as my entire hand and just as wide. Not just one set of tracks, this buck had laid down a trail in that particular area. The area was nestled between a soybean field and a corn field. Granted, the movement of these deer will change anywhere from slightly to drastically after the crops were harvested and the rut kicked in–but I knew what area I wanted to be in.

 

 

 

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Some of our most memorable meals have been in the cab of the truck or on the tailgate.

We stopped at the town closest to the areas we had chosen to hunt and stayed at the only motel in town, the Big T Motel. The motel being older and limited to less than a dozen rooms, I made sure to book our room in advance for our hunting trip. I did the research, found a not so local processor for several reasons. First, with limited time, it only makes sense to have someone else do the labor so that we could be back out in the field hunting and doing some photography and filming. Secondly, because earlier this year Alabama enacted a ban on the import of deer carcasses from states where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been confirmed. If we were planning on mounting a buck if we were successful, the deer needed to be completely capped out and the skull plate with antlers only. Unless European mounting and then it needed to be completely cleaned. That was going to take the expertise of someone else leaving us more time to scout, hunt, and film. Everything we needed was right there within easy access: lodging, fuel, grocery store, and a few restaurants.

The scouting was done, the motel booked and we were on our drive home with a plan in place. Next, the washing, drying, and packing begins…

 

 

 


We found a plethora of new products on the ATA 2016 showroom floor and are excited about taking many of these to the field with us and publishing product reviews in the coming months. Which products will you be putting on your “WISH LIST” for this fall? There are so many great products to choose from. Click on the links below to see what we found of interest…there were many that we have yet to mention.

New Products at ATA, Part 1

New Products at ATA, Part 2

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The Archery Trade Association Show is always an exciting show to attend for the media. We get a first-hand look at some of the years new releases in the archery/bowhunting world. This year was no different. I found everything from new crossbow cases, technology, electronics, hunting clothes, scent destroyers…you name it, it was there on the show floor.

I had so many favorites that I found and have many of those promised for future product reviews that I cannot wait to share with you. Some of these products will not release until late spring…and the anticipation is killing me. I will be sharing any published works right here on my blog in the coming months.

A sneak peek of a few of the items I will be sharing:

C280-Front-500x500The Lakewood Products Drop-In Crossbow Case is going to replace the humongous and somewhat cumbersome crossbow case that I currently own. The Drop-In Crossbow Case is a convenient, top-loading, stand-up design case that conveniently fits when packing. The soft-sided hard case offers maximum protection to your crossbow with designated areas for a loaded quiver and 18 additional bolts. The case measures 11.5″D x 37″L x 26.25″H and incorporates built-in wheels for easy transportation. This case is airline approved with zipper tabs that allow for a lock for secure travel. Made in USA with a Lifetime Guarantee. The case has an MSRP starting at $299.

ironMan14I hunted with a crossbow this season because of a shoulder issue and found it somewhat troublesome in un-cocking the bow each evening after the day’s hunt. Having to travel with our practice target in the back of the truck, unloading it to un-cock my crossbow, loading it back up for the next day. My problem is solved with the BIGShot Targets Iron Man 14. The Iron Man 14 measures 14″ X 14″ X 8″ and weighs 14 pounds. The triple compressed military fiber and ever-last nylon target face is rated at 450 fps for crossbows.  The Iron Man 14 is perfect for travel when a practice shot is critical in making sure your crossbow is still on and to discharge your bolt at the end of the hunt. The BIGShot Targets Iron Man 14 has an MSRP of $34.99.

Muck Boots ArcticThe new Muck Boot Company Ladies Arctic Hunter boot in Realtree Xtra definitely was of interest to me because of the issue that most women complain about not having enough calf room once they tuck their pant leg in during wet terrain or rainy conditions. The mid-calf design makes it possible to comfortably tuck in pant legs while hunting. As with all Muck Boot Company boots, the product is made quality materials and designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind. The Arctic Hunter has an extended rubber exterior for durability in the field and 5mm of neoprene lined with warm fleece. The boot incorporates a dual density EVA midsole and slip-resistant rugged outsole for a comfortable and secure fit. The boot has a 10″ height with a back pull-on tab. For the ladies that don’t like pink on their camo, the Muck Boot Company Arctic Hunter only has a slight splash of pink on it.

Cirrus Hunt Vape TechnologiesThe trend of using electronics in the field is ever growing and it was evident by many of the new products I found on the showroom floor. One that got a lot of attention and was unique in its own nature is the Cirrus Hunt Vape Technologies Wind Indicator. The patent pending design detects the slightest wind or thermal currents with an easy to operate, one push, to expel a puff true vapor into the air. The small, lightweight unit requires a minimal amount of movement to operate and replacement cartridges are available. The unit is USB rechargeable and one cartridge holds thousands of puffs. This product will not be available on the market until later this quarter and an MRSP was unavailable at the time of this writing. Watch the video below to see how the Cirrus Wind Indicator works and to find out more information about this product.

Another vape product that was getting a lot of attention is the WyndScent Electronic Vapor Hunting Scent . Check out the informative video below for all the information and features of this product. This is a product I am looking forward to taking to the field with me next fall.

https://vimeo.com/147635937

There were so many fantastic and useful products that I found and many that I will be writing about in the coming months as some of them release or as I am able to field test the products personally. Stay tuned to my blog for publication announcements and information about these great products and a plethora of other great products released at #ATA2016.

All photos and video are the property of the rightful owner and used within this writing as reference only in efforts of product exposure for these owners/companies.  Per the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the products reviewed in this published material is an endorsement and the writer may have been compensated by “in-kind” or monetary payment to review the product. 

 


The Ladies in Camo rifle hunt with Rack Nine Outdoors brought ladies from Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, North and South Alabama. Nine women participated in this hunt and four were successful at harvesting, another hunter took a shot at a wonderful 8-point and everyone saw deer, coyote, bobcats and/or feral hogs.

This hunt started off with a successful harvest within the first few hours of daylight….you can’t ask for better hunting than that. The fellowship was priceless, the food was divine and the lodging was cozy and comfortable. Terry Garrett and Doug Dressler were amazing in making this a memorable hunt for these ladies. We had a wonderful bonfire Saturday night and spent time sharing stories and laughs while sitting around it…we even attempted to sing a few songs. Talking Carl on Michelle’s iPhone definitely did a better job at signing…

Diane Hassinger harvested a nice buck on her first morning and went on to harvest a 130 pound sow her second day in the field; you can find her amazing and inspiring story, with photos, in my blog at https://njadams1.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/guest-post-diane-hassinger-shares-her-success-of-her-hunt-and-of-life/.

Jeanne Peebles harvested a big mature doe, dropping her in her tracks. Jeanne had several wonderful hunts in the shooting house she was in, getting to watch deer frolic in a water hole and several deer that came through her field. Hopefully she will write a guest post with some of her photos in the near future.

Jeanne Peebles with her big mature doe harvest. What a great shot...dropped her where she stood. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

Amber Markley, our youngest huntress shot a doe on Sunday morning making a perfect shot at 248 yards…fantastic!! Just like her Mother, Shannon Markley, a dead-eye. Kudos to Shannon for raising Amber in the outdoors and mentoring her. Amber is accomplished beyond her years in the sport of hunting and we are so proud to have her on our hunts.

Amber Markley, the youngest huntress in the group, shot this mature doe at 240+ yards. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

Jennifer McKinney had a nice 8 point visit on her Friday hunt, but was unable to make a successful shot. That happens in the sport of hunting and we all hoped that the buck would return and Jennifer would get another opportunity; but it didn’t happen.

Michelle Harmes was fortunate to see a small bobcat at her stand. She, however, was not lucky enough to harvest a doe or buck on this hunt. Hopefully Michelle will share her hunt with you through another guest post here on my blog.

Pat Hendrixson from Indiana had some does and a few young bucks visit her stand on this hunt but did not have a shot opportunity at anything she wanted to harvest. I was hoping that Pat would have the opportunity to harvest a bobcat; which she has wanted since I have known her.

Tammie Knopp experienced her first stalk hunt on hogs on Saturday. Tammie said, “Oh my gosh! I was so scared and excited at the same time. I can’t wait to do it again!” Terrie Garrett, lodge owner and guide, told me that they were surrounded by hogs but were in very thick woods and just could not make a clean shot.

I, too, experienced my first stalk hog hunt on Sunday. I have to admit there is something very eerie about walking within 10-15 yards of a sow with piglets and other juvenile hogs all around them. You never know if a sow will charge you or not. I followed Terry as we walked, stopped and listened–following the sounds of hog movement and feeding. We got on a group of hogs within 45 minutes of the start of our hunt. We were in the woods with thick palmettos, various other bushes and very little clearing. I was thinking to myself that picking a shot in this type terrain is going to take skill and I would have to be ready to take the shot quickly and accurately.

At one point, we stopped and sat on a downed tree. Terry could hear hogs in the distance and he said we would have to close in on them slowly by stopping and listening and moving with them. We came to a good size wauler hole that had soupy mud and stagnant water in it. Terry explained to me that his son, T.J., had shot a hog earlier in the week and they tracked the blood trail to this mud hole. The hog had laid down in the mud hole, stopping up the wound and moved on. I have heard so many similar stories.

As we walked, Terry finally caught movement and we made our way to within 10-12 yards of several hogs. There was a large black hog and several juvenile hogs rooting through the leaves that had fallen on the ground. Terry asked me if I could take the shot. He told me to shoot it right behind the ear so we would not have to track it. I couldn’t get a good shot, so Terry told me to move over a step or two…I did and I saw a smaller hog snatch its head in our direction. Terry said, “Don’t move.” That little one will see you.

When the smaller hog walked forward, rummaging through the leaves with its snout, I had a clear shot of the black hog…however, it was not going to be in the ear since it’s head was behind a tree; but I felt confident that I could make a good shot and it would not run far. I took the shot and the hog dropped where it stood.

The woods erupted with the sound of leaves scattering in every direction. WE WERE SURROUNDED!!! Hogs were running every where. Little hogs squealed as they ran into big hogs. Big hogs grunted as they ran over little hogs. A small red hog had crossed in front of the hog I just shot and Terry told me to take the shot. I shot under the hog and watched through my scope as it jumped in the air and took off running like a hot iron had poked him. He was gone in a flash. It was a clean miss.

I cycled another round into the chamber and Terry went to pointing…over there! There’s one! Just as I would raise the gun, it was gone. Terry pulled my coat sleeve in another direction; over here! See it? Shoot it if you can! Poof! It was gone as quick as it appeared. At one point he motioned to be quiet. We could hear the hogs circling us. We moved to one side and you could hear them move a quarter circle around us. It was almost as if they could hear our footsteps in the leaves, mistaking it for other hogs and were trying to come into the sound.

Terry said to me, “If I had a hog grunt, I could call these hogs in.” You can bet the next time we go stalking hogs he will have one–I will see to that. WHAT A RUSH!! We walked up to the hog I shot, a 120+ pound sow. Terry had the sow gutted quickly and he drug the hog to the edge of the road system so it could be picked up. We walked back to Terry’s truck talking about stalk hunting…I have to admit, I can’t wait to do that again. A total adrenaline rush.

My first stalk hunt on hogs was successful. A 120+ pound maiden sow.

By Sunday afternoon, several of the ladies had already left for their trip home. We had a small group at dinner and we reflected on the weekend and the fun we had. I told the ladies about a beautiful blue coyote that I had seen on one of my hunts and we all agreed that we needed to book a coyote and hog hunt in the next few months.

Another fantastic Ladies in Camo hunt…new friends were made, the food was divine, the fellowship was awesome and the hospitality that Terry Garrett and Doug Dressler of Rack Nine Outdoors showed us was outstanding. I cannot wait to hunt with these ladies again. Check out the announcement just posted for a hog hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in February, 2012; don’t miss this opportunity to come hunt with Ladies in Camo at Rack Nine Outdoors.


This was my first time meeting Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania, but I can promise you that I will not forget her any time soon. Diane’s life story is such an inspiration. Diane’s personal struggle and success gave new meaning to a quote I once read by Helen Keller: “The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

I am so thankful that our paths have crossed and I had the opportunity to share camp with her. Here is Diane’s story from her hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors with the Ladies in Camo.

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I happened to see a post on Shenanigans from the Field about a Ladies in Camo Ladies Only Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama. What caught my eye was that it was a buck, doe, coyote, hog and bobcat hunt. This was just too much to ask for. I had found this post only 2 ½ weeks before the hunt, so a lot had to fall into place for this to happen. I am a firm believer in fate and it would work out if it were meant to be. Well things fell into place perfectly and on December 7th I flew into Montgomery Airport to catch a ride with Richard and Nancy to the camp.

Pulling into the camp I immediately felt at ease and knew this had been a good choice. The lodge felt like home, and the few huntresses and guides that were there felt like family from the start. While everyone pigged out on pizza, we made our plans for morning. There would be 3 of us hunting, while the rest were to come in staggered over the next 2 days. Four a.m. came early the next morning, with temperatures below freezing, and having not brought all of my cold weather gear, freezing is what I did too! Terry put me in a tree stand overlooking a food plot. It wasn’t long before the show began and I forgot all about being cold. I had a nice 8 point bucks with 2 girlfriends come thru, just pausing long enough for me to know I could not get a shot off at him. What a tease!

Shortly after that another 8 point entered my view, and took his good old-time about entering the food plot. He was joined by 2 spike buck that entertained me for almost an hour with their sparring and play. Meanwhile my 8 point was raking the trees nearby and making a scrape right in front of me. After 15 minutes of wonderful memories, I decided that if I would shoot this guy on the last day, the first day was a good day too. Almost right on cue the buck turned broadside then quartered away just slightly.

Two young bucks spar on the greenfield, keeping Diane entertained while she waited for the opportunity to take a shot at an 8 point. Photo Credit: Diane Hassinger

As I pulled the trigger, I was thankful I was able to be here at this time. You see 2 ½ years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, and underwent a bilateral mastectomy. They also removed some lymph nodes to check for the spread of cancer. Following my surgery, no one could answer whether I would ever be able to fish, bow hunt, or shoot shotguns and rifles again. No one had ever asked these questions of my doctors, I was the first! Well I am delighted to prove to everyone, that not only is it possible, but you can still be successful as well!

My buck tucked his tail and hunched up telling me I had hit him good. I sent a text to Terry and continued watching the two spikes play. They never even flinched when I shot, and I videotaped them for the next 15 minutes. Unreal! In Pennsylvania I would have chased off every deer for a half mile with that one shot. When Terry and Doug arrived, we started looking for a blood trail, and panic started to set in. I knew I had hit him good, but there was no blood to speak of. We finally found 1 drop 10-15 feet from where he was shot and then 1 drop at a time, at 5-10 feet intervals, for about 70 yards. I was just about heartbroken when Doug said “there he is”. He had only gone 75 yards and piled up under a pine tree. He was nice high 8 point, and I was thrilled.

Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania and her nice buck harvest. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

The next evening I was placed in a ground blind, in a tract of woods near a food plot. Both Terry and Doug had said to feel free to spot and stalk hogs, so that was my goal. Coyotes were howling nearby as I slowly hiked about ¼ mile down a logging trail from the blind. Before long it sounded like a football team racing thru the woods. Slowly and quietly I inched into a position to see the hogs. It did not take long to find a big sow, and with a lot of luck she walked into the one sight window that I had that was big enough to shoot thru, about the size of a coffee can. Holding my breath I took the 75 yard shot, and was rewarded with watching her drop not 3 feet from where I shot her.

Diane Hassinger with her nice 130 pound sow harvested at Rack Nine Outdoors. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

I continued to look for my next shooter, but this group turned tail and ran. After texting Terry that I had a hog down, and that I was going to continue looking for her friends, I marked her location and started tracking the herd. It did not take long to locate them across the logging road. I had to go into the cramped quarters of the paper mills pine forest. At one point I had 3 groups pretty much surrounding me, easily 100 wild pigs, all squealing and rooting and paying no attention to me at all. As much as I tried to, I could not down another pig, but what a rush to have that many wild pigs around you!

I am already planning my next trip to Rack Nine with my husband this time. I hope he gets to experience situations like I had here. And I will be excited to be here to share it with him. I am proud to not only say I am a cancer survivor, but I am enjoying life! Everyone should get out and do what they love every opportunity they can. “Love the Life you Live, Live the Life you Love” (Bob Marley)


Driving up to Mountain View Plantation was amazingly peaceful and beautiful, the winding roads, the fall leaves, and the creeks reflecting the colors of fall. The scenery made me forget about how anxious I was to hunt, I couldn’t wait to see everyone and have a weekend of hunting and to try my skills at the Outdoor Competition that our outfitter had set up. I had been practicing but not nearly enough.

I pulled up to the lodge and immediately was struck by the view of the mountains than the feeling that I could totally live at this awesome place. Even before I got out of my car I saw the 5 station shotgun range, the 3D archery range, and the giant fire pit. I knew this weekend was going be amazing!

The Cheaha Mountains in the distance make for a beautiful view from the back porch of the MVP lodge.

I opened the door to the lodge and walked straight into a picture perfect lodge. Everything made out of natural stained wood, pool table, fireplace, deer on every wall……I must be sleeping or dead cause dang if this ain’t my kinda heaven!
Everyone started to get in and we all packed our stuff into our rooms. Bunk beds with pine cone bedspreads, it was a page out of a catalog!

The interior of the lodge was beautifully decorated with natural wood, wild game mounts, a cozy fireplace surrounded by comfortable seating and even a pool table.

We gear up and hit the stands, I was dropped off first and walked to my ladder stand overlooking a huge food plot with deer sign everywhere. The sun set on my hunt with no sightings of deer but the evening had just begun. Everyone came back to the lodge, some seeing multiple deer but no shots made. We sat down to dinner for the first of many amazing meals cooked by Stephanie.

Next was gathering around the campfire to hear stories of big black bear and cougars that roam not too far away. Perfect for making me paranoid for the next mornings dark walk to the stand.

The fire pit was a welcoming spot to share stories and laughs after the days hunt.

Early morning and the lodge is busy with everyone getting ready to go. We load up in the dark and get dropped off. Me again being dropped off first, in the most dark. I turn on my headlamp to red, preserving my vision and less scary to deer. I am walking slowly, debating how exactly I will defend myself from black bears in the dark with a bow. Just as I am about to turn to the path to my stand, the bush in front of me explodes and a creature emerges, running through the leaves! My heart is racing! I am ready to fight of the…..scan with the light, scan with the light, where is this thing and what the heck is it???

I see its eyes glowing red from my light, its in the road, its…its….its got long ears and a fluffy tail, its a dang rabbit!

I get in my stand, its still dark and wait for the sun to come up because I am freezing. I didn’t pack my cold weather gear because the temperature wasn’t bad but the wind was trying to freeze me to the tree. A small hawk almost lands on me but when I saw him flying at me I turned my head and he “put the brakes on” and had his wings out trying to back pedal. He landed on the tree to the left of me and tried to figure out what I was and so I squeaked at him and he flew a little closer. After deciding I wasn’t food he flew off, that was a great experience!

Not long after, a spike pauses at the edge of the field and walks out to eat. I wait for the next deer to come, as the spike was in shooting range. He ate for a bit and then walked off to the woods on the opposite side as silently as he came in.
No other deer came that morning so I climbed down to sit in the sun till my ride came.

Lunch was amazing and then it was time for the Women’s Outdoor challenge. We divided into groups and I went to the 5 stand shotgun first and got about 50% of my shots, not bad for my second time firing a shotgun. Next it was archery and I put the wrong pin on the pig and missed but made up for it by shooting a dead on bulls-eye on the deer. Next was bait casting and the were so small and cute compared to my giant catfish ones, it was an adjustment! I didn’t do well, got one in the circle. Finally it was time for the last round, shooting a tiny .22 with iron sites. It was hard and I aimed way too high and missed. Scopes are my friends.

Points wise I got second place and it was a ton of fun, I did a lot better than I thought that I would. I can’t wait to go again next year!

We all loaded up and went for our second afternoon hunt, I asked to be moved since everyone was seeing more deer than me. Unfortunately I forgot that I had switched to my field tips and didn’t bring broad heads with me. I had to hike back down for a total of a half mile of hill (both ways). I was asked by one of the guides if I had them and I thought that I did but the nap I took erased my memory. It had happened to a lady on the hunt the previous week so I feel slightly less bad about myself. I was able to get them on the phone before my phone died and they came and I ran in the lodge and they took me to a different place where I ended up seeing two large does cross the field but they were about 100 yards away.

Night came and more good food and fun around the fire. We found out that Kat had made an amazing shot on a doe at last light and they were able to find it easily after they came back and warmed up a bit just to make sure that they didn’t track too soon. Kat will have some great venison to eat and I can’t wait to hunt with her in the future.

Saturday night football got everyone in a good mood as we talked about the deer we saw and the days competition. We also got to re-fletch some arrows using Bohning equipment that Nancy Jo brought. Great stories were told that had my face hurting from laughing.

The final hunt morning I went out to the first stand from the night before and didn’t see any deer, just squirrels doing noisy squirrel construction.

After lunch of moose hotdogs(courtesy of my husband and his massive Alaskan moose) I went and practiced more 3D shooting and did some skeet but my shoulder was sore from shooting the day before that I only shot a few times.

For the last afternoon hunt I asked to be put at my second stand from the night before because it over looked a food plot and a corn field that still had some ears. The temperature was perfect but slowly cooled down, almost no wind but it was in my favor.
Suddenly I felt a chill come over my whole body and I knew that something was coming, sure enough to my right out popped a young doe followed by 3 more and the last one being the biggest. They were walking and eating getting perfectly set up for me to make a shot if they had just walked a little bit farther but the squirrels started barking at them so they walked into the corn field.
I could see the corn moving when they were eating the ears and they slowly made their way out and right in front of me just before last light, the largest dow was out front but her vitals were behind a branch that was just in my way. They were stopped and she was looking towards the road for what seemed like forever.

I was quickly loosing light and decided to go for it. I put my pin on her chest, I knew where she was because I had spent the afternoon ranging random parts of the field so I would know when the time came. I fired and they didn’t move till I heard a hollow thwack. Then they ran and kept running. It as a solid hit.

After a bit I climbed down still shaking from taking a shot and waited for my ride. We went back to the lodge to wait for the others since I didn’t see her fall. When everyone came we gathered up and headed to go look for her.
Unfortunately we found no blood. No blood and no arrow. With a downward facing shot at 35 yards it most likely didn’t exit and she may have only bled internally. Everyone searched high and low but there was just too many corn stalks and you can’t track when there is no sign.

We went back and I ate a late supper and joined the other ladies around the campfire. Some of the ladies left that night but others stayed and we visited till late in the night knowing that we were not hunting in the morning. I could hardly sleep knowing we were going to go out in the morning and look for blood in the daylight. I woke up very early and was able to see the sunrise on the Mountain and it was so beautiful. It was a very cold morning. The outfitter and I went and looked all over the frost covered ground, but there was nothing to be found. Disappointed but still at peace that we looked as hard as we could, I got back to the lodge and packed up.

I cannot wait to go to Mountain View Plantation again, I felt so at home there and felt like we were all family. It was such an amazing weekend in beautiful country that will I daydream about future hunts there for years to come. I was so impressed with the whole operation and how well they knew all of their land, they always set me up so the wind was in my favor and the stands I was in couldn’t have been in a better spot. They did everything in their power to set me up for success but with fair chase hunting you have a fair chance of nature having its own plans.

I want to thank Nancy Jo Adams and all of the staff at Mountain View Plantation for making such an amazing weekend possible.


My huntress friend, Carlee Magness from Okemah, Oklahoma scored on an outstanding buck last week and I wanted to share her story with my blog followers. Carlee had attended the Ladies in Camo whitetail bow hunt at Mountain View Plantation in October and had taken a shot at a nice 7 point. She had to wait until the next morning to locate the buck but it was not recovered.

I felt horrible for her because on that same afternoon she had found out that a tornado had ripped through her hometown inflicting damage to her home while her husband D.W. and young son, Cash were in the home. Here she was several states and several hundred miles from home when all of this had happened. Thankfully everyone was all right and there was just property damage. That was a tough evening for Carlee having to deal with the news from back home and waiting all evening to go back out in the morning to search for her buck.

Congratulations, Carlee!! I was SO EXCITED when I had seen that Carlee redeemed herself with this outstanding 9 point buck; SHE TRULY DESERVED THE HONOR.

With her permission, here is Carlee’s story:

Carlee Magness with her beautiful 9-point buck harvested with a rifle in Okemah, Oklahoma.


Before rifle season, I caught word of a Big Buck contest that the local check station was having and the day before opening morning I had decided to enter in hopes of winning bragging rights of bagging the biggest buck of the season! As I walked in the door with my work clothes, make-up, and freshly curled hair the clerk said “Can I help you?” I quickly said “I want to enter the Big Buck contest.” And I laid my ten dollars on the counter. The clerk kind of sneered ad said “YOU want to enter the contest?!” I smiled and said “yeah”, signed my name and left.

After hunting day and evening, I had seen some pretty good bucks but just couldn’t get a good shot. I passed up smaller bucks and thought…good things come to those who wait! My Dad had told me about a pretty good eight point that had been in a fight and wasn’t getting around that great and we soon nicknamed him Ol’ Gimpy.

One night after an evening hunt, Dad and I were talking about Ol’ Gimpy and he compared him to a pretty good looking buck on his wall full of trophy bucks. I shortly decided that Ol’ Gimpy may just need to be on my much smaller trophy wall.

The following evening I got off work a little late and decided all I needed for a trip to the woods was my camo coat, gun, orange safety vest and bullets; luckily they were in my vehicle from the previous hunt. I was off! I got all settled in my blind, patiently waiting for a big buck to make an appearance. About an hour before dark, something came hobbling out of the trees onto the wheat field that I was hunting. There he was; it was Ol’ Gimpy! I had decided to take a shot at him, feeling pretty confident even though it was about a two hundred and fifty yard shot and I had never shot that far before. BOOM!!! After the shot I soon realized that it probably was not a good shot by the way Ol’ Gimpy had suddenly managed a spring in his step and ran off like the wind. I quickly got out of my blind to see if I could find any blood; all the while knowing in the back of my mind I had probably clean missed him.

As I walked into the woods where Ol’ Gimpy ran, I searched for blood. I only found tracks where he hightailed it off of the wheat field. I was bummed! Not only because I missed but also because I was going to have to explain to my dad, who probably heard the shot, that I had indeed shot but there was no buck on the ground. Suddenly, I heard something about twenty yards in front of me. I was face to face with a gigantic buck! I knelt down and realized that my rifle was empty! I dug out another bullet from my pocket, struggling with my sling and my orange safety vest. Finally, I got my sling and gun off my shoulder and loaded my gun in what seemed like a second. I rose up slowly and waited.

There he was looking at me, my new trophy buck, a beautiful one hundred fifty-xix pound, nine point whitetail deer. All thanks to Ol’ Gimpy!

As of right now, I’m in second place for the big buck contest but I think I still showed the clerk at the check station that I AM a hunter, even though I AM a “girly-girl” ~Carlee Magness


Yesterday was Thanksgiving–a day to reflect on all the things you are thankful for. I was fortunate enough to spend the day on stand in the woods reflecting on every thing imaginable. I came to the conclusion that life may not always be what you imagined, but it is always a grand journey.

The post I placed on Facebook on our drive to Kentucky in the wee-hours of the night on Wednesday pretty much sums up my Thanksgiving thoughts:

“Be thankful for ALL things in your life…the hardships, the trials, the joys–for it is the hardships that make us strong, the trials that we learn lessons from & the joys that make us humble. I bought a ticket to this world the day I was born & I will forever give faith a fighting chance. Always believe in yourself & when given the opportunity–NEVER sit it out; especially for fear of failure. Failure is the opportunity to do it bigger & better. Life is short, you have to live it long. HAPPY THANKSGIVING, my friends–may your day be blessed with happiness & the renewal of faith in all the things currently in your life. {Special prayers for our Military families that are unable to spend the day together.}”

The hunting was pretty slow Thursday, so I had a lot of time to ponder things while on stand. Checking my email on Crackie, I had a few emails in reference to the Prois Award. I cannot express or put into words how honored and humbled I am to be a finalist in this competition. There are some really great women in the running and I would have never dreamed my name would have been one of them. If you haven’t had the opportunity, go to the website and peruse the candidates and place your vote. The voting is open until December 15th. Each woman hunter brings their own story to the competition and are such a diversified group of women. If the others feel like I do, they already feel like a winner to have made it into the top 12 finalist of the 70 participants….what an honor. See http://www.proishunting.com/proisaward.

For Thanksgiving Richard and I had a feast of venison sloppy Joes, Lays Classic potato chips, Little Debbie Nutty Bars and cokes from the hotel vending machine…all served on Chinette paper plates. We enjoyed it all the same.

Our Thanksgiving Feast: Venison Sloppy Joes, Lays Classic Potato Chips, Little Debbie Nutty Bars and Coke from the hotel vending machine.

We started Friday off with a early rise so that we would have time to get into the stand with plenty of time to spare–that went off without a hitch. It is awesome to have a system where everything works like a fine Swiss watch…but that is easy to do when your hunting partner/cameraman is your spouse. We know each other all too well. We were on stand for 3.5 hours and had seen about 8 deer, of which were 4 bucks…all of those sightings were before 7:30 a.m. By 9:30 a.m. I was eager to get down because we had discussed moving the stand we were in to the area where we had seen the majority of the deer traveling too. The deer were coming across a pasture on the right side of us and even across a ridge in front of us and traveling through a bottom and up another hill which was out of sight. Both of us had the feeling that we were not seeing all of the deer funneling through that bottom and we needed to be closer to that area–or at least at a different advantage point.

As Murphy’s Law would have it….the minute my feet hit the ground with an unloaded gun, 4 does were coming out onto the pasture. They heard me and took off snorting, blowing and flagging their tails for the entire woods to see. I heard Richard mumble under his breath something just barely audible. All I said was, “Dag-nab-it!!” At this point, three hunting trips in this same stand, I was ready to see new scenery. We did get the stand moved during the middle of the day. We had not planned on hunting the stand that afternoon but at the last minute decided to go sit in the stand because of a nice tall 10-point sighting in the adjacent pasture on our hunting property. Besides getting in the stand this afternoon meant that the camera arm and other items would be in place for the morning hunt making it a lot quieter for us to get in the stand.

We didn’t get settled in the stand until late so we only had a 2-hour sit. My hopes were renewed when within the first hour a nice 8 point came within 80-90 yards of our stand. I watched him for about 15 minutes in front of the stand and then watched him as he walked to the edge of the creek and back the way he came in…staying on our property. He is going to make a heck of a deer next year or within the next few years, if he can dodge the broadhead and bullet. He doesn’t know how lucky he was that today was not his day.

A nice 8 point that came by our stand. He will make a great future harvest in a couple years. (Bad photo quality due to a still of video footage captured just prior to losing filming light.)

Some time today I did something to my ankle. It isn’t sprained, but I have a pain that comes and goes under the inside ankle bone. I can walk normal about 10-15 steps then have to hobble about 20 only to get another 10-15 steps before the pain comes back. Very strange, but I am sure it something temporary. Getting back to the hotel room tonight, I soaked my ankle, then I wanted to get some heat on it…usually having everything you can think of, a heating pad is something that I didn’t have. NO PROBLEM. I found a pack of Toastie Toes in my backpack. I peeled off the back and stuck both to the area that was giving me the problem….it is amazing how well these things are working. MacGyver (who was my hero for years) would be proud of me. So, I am headed off to bed, with heat on ankle, hoping tomorrow is as good or better than today was—but regardless, I will be happy spending time 20 feet closer to Heaven in my front row seat watching the show.

MacGyver would be proud of me...Toastie Toes in place on my ankle. All should be well when I wake up in the morning.


As our annual hunting pilgrimage to the West comes to a close we can be thankful for the time we spent in the woods enjoying nature. It is always bittersweet when we head back South; thankful to be headed home for a little rest but sad to be ending our adventure.

Unfortunately we are on our way home without a harvest this year, however you can not measure the great memories made. How can one not be thoroughly satisfied sitting 20 feet closer to Heaven with a front row seat to the Show? That is what this journey is all about.

Our 9-day trip started off rifle hunting in Kentucky. After pulling our camera cards we didn’t have anything new so we decided to stay in the stand we had hunted on our earlier trip. We seen 3 young bucks and 6 does during our Saturday hunt. On Sunday, a wind advisory was issued four our area and the wind was absolutely terrible; it was so windy it was a struggle for Richard to pull the cameraman stand we were taking to Kansas with us. We decided to head to Kansas half a day early to bow hunt; leaving Kentucky at noon.

We were excited to be in Kansas—one of our favorite states to hunt. It was really looking good for us since on day one of our Kansas trip, we no longer had Hank unloaded and was on our way to the field to pull camera cards when our first sight was a nice big buck chasing a doe across the field in front of us. Later in the week, I sat in awe as I watched a young 8-point come into our set up looking for a fight after a rattling sequence; not only once but 4 times. On one of our last few days, we watched as a young 6-point approached our decoy in a submissive manner trying everything he could do, short of touching it of course, to get the decoy to acknowledge him.

A nice buck did come up behind us at 60 yards following a doe. I caught a glimpse of a doe over my left shoulder that was on a trail going straight to the field in front of us. I giggle about that buck sighting because of what happened to Richard.

When I spotted the doe, I whispered to Richard letting him know the location of the doe. His cameraman stand was on the right side of me facing opposite of the doe’s location. As soon as Richard seen the doe, we both stood up hoping a buck would be following her. At this vantage point, I saw the buck and I immediately whispered, “Don’t move, buck!” I gave the location of the buck, but Richard never had the opportunity to see the buck; a huge tree with two trunks directly behind us blocked it.

The buck that snuck in behind us but moved on before Richard ever got a look at him.

I tried several times to tell him and to motion where the buck was located without getting busted. All of the sudden I heard Richard’s heavy breathing. Then I glanced slowly over at him and only caught glimpse of his legs…they were shaking. Then I heard the shake in his voice when he asked me if I could still see the buck. I was concentrating on the buck when out of the corner of my eye I saw a few smaller branches shaking on the tree. I could not help but to silently belly chuckle. I could physically feel Richard shaking the tree.

The buck never did produce himself for a shot and when the doe turned back and trotted into the woods parallel to the field, the buck followed walking out of sight. I looked at Richard and said, “He walked out with the doe.” Richard let out some air and sat down. I asked him with a giggle, “You going to be alright.” He laughed and said, “I don’t know why I started shaking and got so excited like that.” He said, “Buck fever, I guess.” I laughed about it a few more times while in that tree that afternoon. I could physically feel and hear his emotion—I don’t know why I didn’t catch it and start shaking myself. What is so odd is he was behind the camera not the weapon and ironically he doesn’t get buck fever behind a gun.

The winds started picking up as the week progressed in Kansas. The forecast was not looking good for the weekend and although our deer camera photos where showing a few promising bucks, we had not seen much deer activity on any of our hunts. With the 25-30 mile an hour wind and the fact we were not seeing much rut activity or deer sightings, we decided to leave Kansas several days early, returning to Kentucky to rifle hunt.

The main frame 8 with G2 kicker while in velvet on one of our cameras set up earlier this year.

Beautiful Kansas main frame 8 with a kicker on his G2 out of velvet a few days before our arrival. This was a photo from Allen's game camera.

A Kansas 10-point that Allen got on his deer cam. This buck had a huge body...

Kentucky proved to have more deer movement, just not the deer we were looking to harvest. Sunday’s rain and thunderstorms found us packing up early and driving home. But before we left, we put out 5 deer cams to do a little scouting for us in hopes of a successful trip during the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday. Yep, that’s right..3 days work at our full-time employment, a night of washing and drying hunting clothes, a 7-hour one-way trip and we will turn around and do this all over again. Some call us crazy. Some say we are obsessed. Others may say we are dedicated–we settle with simply “doing what we love and loving what we do.” Our Life in Camo is not about what we harvest. It is about enjoying the journey and making memories along the way.

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