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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!


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 Come join us for an amazing hunt and a lifetime of memories.


Guest Post by Rebecca Gicewicz

IMG_6670I am here in Alden, Kansas enjoying hunting camp with old and new friends. Part of my mission for this trip was to do my best to harvest a Rio Grande. Our first morning in the woods was spent with Nancy Jo, Mister and our guide, Troy; which is truly a treat as I am usually in the woods alone. I don’t mind the solitude but sharing the experience with friends was really a special element I was looking forward to. That morning came and went with just a few gobbles from turkey in the distance, but no shot opportunities. No problem, it is hunting after all.
Our plan for the afternoon was to use a different strategy by splitting the group up. I was kind of bummed but I just rolled with it. This turkey hunting gig is all new to me so I thought, :Let’s do this.” The afternoon involved driving on country roads past known areas and unknown land. Lo and behold, there was a nice Tom strutting near a creek but we didn’t have permission to hunt that particular land. Troy had a plan; a few clicks on a smart phone app gave the property owners information. So off we went on a mission. A few knocks on the door revealed that no one was home, but the show must go on. Undaunted, we went on with our turkey quest.

IMG_8638We drove and drove, but as fate would have it nothing came together. The final act of this show was to go back to the morning spot where all four of us had started of and try to catch the birds as they circled around to roost. The decoys were set up and I sat back against my tree from the morning hunt. I was missing my other two companions and kept wondering how their hunt was panning out. As an hour or two ticked by, Troy called and there was intermittent distant gobbling but it didn’t sound as if it was closing the distance. The sun was beginning to set and I started to think of what our morning plan might be.

IMG_3816That is when I saw something red and black about 100 yards to my left; it was a Tom! The tom was running up the edge of the field towards my position. I frantically whispered to my guide “to my left, one is closing in.” My guide was not able to see and just kept saying hold still, don’t move, and let him come. That is what I did. The tom slowed up at about 50-yards and of course he was standing in my one and only blind spot. I thought, “Oh no, he is suspicious, has turned and gone into the woods.”

That was not the case at all! The tom continued to move into range and I could now see him but didn’t have a clear shot. Troy gave me the “Shoot when your are ready” command but I had to wait for a clear and ethical shot. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the tom moved into a shooting lane. I clicked my safety off, lined him up in my Ghost Sight and squeezed the trigger. Down went the bird and Troy shouted, “Good Shot!”


There were two other mature toms behind my downed bird. They kept closing the distance but I only had one tag; no double for me. Finally, they moved off into the woods and we got up to check out my harvest. I was anxious to see him up close. We looked at his spur on one side and it was a rounded nub; I have to admit I was disappointed. So, I focused on his fan, which was beautiful. I finally got brave enough to look at the other spur and when we did I was ecstatic. There was my unicorn; a stout, sharpened, 1-5/8” spur. I thought, “It’s ok that the tom only has one spur. He only needed that one.” I was super stoked! That is how I found my unicorn in the Land of Oz.

IMG_9868I have had many people follow along as I have hunted a notorious tom I named the Grand Poopah this season. The GP is just “THAT” kind of bird. The kind of bird that haunts you during idle thought. The kind of bird that is your last thought as you set your alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. for the next morning and lay your head on your pillow.  Many mornings, as I drive out to the turkey lease, I have received many texts wishing me luck from friends. And yet, the Grand Poopah still haunts those Alabama pines. Still rules the roost keeping Down Low, Third Bird and every other tom in those woods quiet.

Our friends from Ohio, Kurt and Mackenzie Walters, visited this past weekend with high hopes of successfully helping me take out the Grand Poopah. Mackenzie will now have “THAT” bird ingrained in her mind for years to come. Here is her story:

Anticipation had been building as it had been a year since we last saw our friends Nancy Jo and Mister. I had been vicariously hunting through Nancy Jo’s text messages and blogs about birds named Grand Poopah, Down Low, and Third Bird. Each having their story and meaning behind their names. An early wake up and 800 miles were all that separated us from sharing the hunting woods again. The Jeep was fueled up and the bags were loaded waiting to hit the road. We left home around 5:30 am only making stops for gas and a bite to eat.

Upon arrival, we became acquainted with our accommodations for the next three days and started catching up with our hosts. Dinner was served followed by a quick trip to purchase licenses and a few other necessities. The only thing left was to get some sleep for the morning hunt. The alarm clock rang, coffee served, and out the door we went for the first hunt. We traveled a short distance to the hunting property and hopped on the cart. We dropped my husband Kurt off at a carefully selected location. I happily shared a set up with the Guru Huntress herself as she had done much scouting. Three different gobbles were heard as sunrise approached. Shortly afterwards, a shot was heard and a follow-up shot. Kurt had shot but at which bird and the reason for the second shot were not known. As we fretted, it was a miss and a follow-up miss. Based on the location of the gobble and the area the bird came from, we figured it was likely Third Bird; but Third Bird would not be the only encounter we had for the day.

IMG_0202The birds were tight-lipped much of the trip only talking the first and last mornings. It would take glassing and moving through the property quietly to see other birds. While checking a field, a bird popped out of nowhere late the first morning. Nancy Jo recognized him immediately as none other than The Grand Poopah himself! We all dropped down and found spots on the edge of the woods. Kurt called while I held my gun ready. Old GP would not budge from his strut zone. After calling for several minutes we devised a plan. I crept up to the top of terraced land only to see GP in full strut. I dropped down and backed out attempting not to be noticed. We continued to call but he did not move. Kurt suggested crawling to get a shot so on my hands and knees I moved towards Grand Poopah.

It seemed like it took forever to cover the short distance. As I got closer, I began a belly crawl. Before cresting the hill, I took a moment to pray. I then pushed my upper body upward so I could get a view. Must to my dismay, GP had already moved on.

Mackenzie's Game Face....

Mackenzie’s Game Face….


I found a place against another tree and stayed for a short bit of time while Kurt continued to call and Nancy Jo kept watch. I and my leg had fallen asleep while waiting for a shot opportunity. I heard a whistle waking me from my light sleep and attempted to stand up. I realized my leg from my knee to my foot was asleep but thought I could walk it off. I made one step and immediately fell to the ground. I could hear Kurt and Nancy Jo laughing at my expense. It would have been video gold had we been recording the whole Grand Poopah experience! As had Nancy Jo, I too fell victim to Grand Poopah’s spell. His image is forever ingrained in my memory.

Our game plan and strategy kept getting challenged...the birds just were not talking to us.

Our game plan and strategy kept getting challenged…the birds just were not talking to us.


Although we were not successful in harvesting a turkey that weekend, several other memories were made such as Nancy Jo trying to eat jelly beans through her face mask and plotting to use the gobble tube to wake us from our sleep as we were snoozing against trees. Nancy Jo and I watched a real hen that looked like a decoy and decoy that looked liked a real hen. Kurt and Mister had a good laugh as they watched Nancy Jo and I try to figure out if the decoy was real while trying to hide behind a single fence post.

A first occurred as a ribeye steak was placed in front of me and I could not finish it. A cat stole my contact lenses and case. This is the same cat that plays fetch! The cats entertained us all weekend. New games were played such as Cow Bingo. Im not sure I ever wanted to know what the prize would have been for winning. Cows followed us all weekend no matter the set up. We laughed and joked all weekend and potato became a dirty word. Kurt and I had given potatoes up for Lent. It was very kind for Nancy Jo and Mister to not eat potatoes even though it would have been fantastic with the steak. And sometimes having guests is the perfect reason to buy the coffee maker you always wanted even though you are not a coffee drinker.

A selfie of Nancy Jo with the gobble tube that she was so tempted to use while everyone was napping!

A selfie of Nancy Jo with the gobble tube that she was so tempted to use while everyone was napping!

Kurt and I attended a beautiful Palm Sunday service as the hunting came to a close and we headed back home. We packed our things, loaded the Jeep, and parted ways with a southern style sweet tea in hand. We both enjoyed our time hunting with Nancy Jo and Mister and hated our time had come and gone. I cried the whole way to the interstate thinking how it may be months or even another year before we would get to see our friends again.

Of course as soon as we left we came across a hen standing in the middle of the road and the tom strutting in the ditch; figures! The one thing I know is that I never want to see another cow while I hunt again! I think Mister got the last laugh as Kurt and I stopped for a sandwich only to be served french fries that we had to smell all the way home. The sweet tea accompanying my sandwich was not to the standard set in the south. We talked the whole way home about how we already missed our friends and our plans to return.

IMG_0269It did not matter we did not come home with meat for the freezer, the time spent with friends and the experience with Grand Poopah made the entire weekend. There is no way we could thank Nancy Jo and Mister for their hospitality, friendships, and adventures in the woods. Until we meet again friends!


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

When blood trails fail...

You spot a shooter, you line up…. BANG! – it’s a good hit! You smile big, high five your hunting buddy and breathe a sigh of success.

You find the first blood sign and follow it through the woods, elation and doubt roller coaster as you search. And then…. The blood trail stops, nothing. No amount of searching, back tracking or sweeping the area reveals another speck. Which way could he have gone?

Your heart drops with the setting sun. Exhausting all your options and most of your flash light battery, you call it a night.

The next morning reveals even less, dew is everywhere, you realize how impossible it is to look for a downed animal in waist high brush. Hours later you reluctantly leave the woods, although not ready to admit defeat.

Your mind won’t stop pushing you to return. What if you went left where you went right? What if it’s behind the next bush or just over the next hill.

Those are the animals you remember the most, the ones you couldn’t recover. You will always look for them, when you roam the same woods. They will haunt you long after they are gone.

It happens to us all, though those words offer no consolation to a restless mind.

The sinking feeling will go away, the what-ifs will stop, and you’ll get through the grieving process eventually; but not until you scan the sky for buzzards and a rock or log convinces you to hop out of your truck to investigate when you “happen to be in the neighborhood”.

When a fraction of an inch extends an animals life long enough to afford it a perfect hiding spot all we can do is hope that it won’t suffer and will pass quickly.

Luckily nature wastes no opportunities and there is a sliver of consolation in the fact that it’s not a complete waste.

Written and experienced by Michelle Harmes

September 20th @ 7:30 a.m. I was checking my Facebook as I normally do every morning on my hour ride into work. I had a message in my inbox from my Facebook friend, Margaret “Maggie” Hammeke-Frisbie:

It read: “You need to go check out my 2011 Archery season opening day buck! Have a pic up on my page. Will be trying to get more this morning.”

I went to Maggie’s Facebook wall and I nearly passed out. No kidding, I instantly got chills. I saw stars for a minute and then I said out loud “GOOD GRACIOUS–HOLY SMOKES” and I let out a hardy WOOO HOOO!! The first photo I saw was this one.

Maggie and Richard Frisbie with the buck they coined "Splitter Buck" several years earlier. Maggie credits her husband for his encouragement to start bowhunting and his dedication to patterning this buck.

I had to know more, so I asked Maggie to tell me all about it. With her permission, here is her amazing story:

This story starts 5 years ago. My husband, Richard, and I had trail cams out and had gotten an interesting picture of a buck with split brow tines which we ended up naming “Splitter Buck”. My husband said, “if he lives long enough, this buck will be a giant one day.”

In the 2007 season, we again had many pictures of this buck–as well as many encounters with him. At the time, I was a rifle hunter and had this buck in my scope on several occasions but kept remembering what Richard had said about him.

The next season came and our hearts sank as we realized we weren’t seeing “Splitter Buck”. We often questioned and wondered what had happened to him.

In 2009, my husband had convinced me to try bow/archery hunting. Or at least try to shoot a bow. For many years I thought I knew what enjoying the outdoors and hunting was all about. However, I will admit that I use to have a tinge of jealousy when my husband would come home and try to describe what he saw and experienced while sitting in a tree stand. Seemed like he enjoyed sitting in a tree on a cold morning than staying in a warm cozy bed with me! Richard, though, was and still is a die-hard archery hunter. He literally could spend 360 days a year preparing, planting food plots, trimming trees out, setting out cameras, watching trails, glassing the deer and hunting! At times I have classified him as obsessed! So I gave into his urging and gave it a try.

He taught me well! November 3rd, 2009, I shot my first deer with a bow and it was the biggest buck I had ever shot. It was a typical 10 point that scored 167! What a rush that was! I was told over and over that I would have a hard time topping that deer!

Maggie's first archery buck harvested in 2009 scored 165"...every one told her she would have a hard time topping that buck...or so they thought.

The rest of my 2009 season was spent with a bow in hand chasing does and turkeys.

In the 2010 season, I sat many days watching the small bucks walk by. But it really gave me the opportunity to enjoy the many things that my husband had always talked about. I had changed locations and tree stands several times. Then one day something had caught my eye. While glassing around I had noticed a buck chasing a doe around. I immediately recognized this buck. Although he was busted up on one side, he definitely had the split brow tines. I texted my husband and he thought I was imagining it.

The next day Richard was out scouting and saw 3 giant bucks chasing a doe. Sure enough, it was “Splitter Buck”! Although he was nearly 4 miles from our hunting property, he was still alive…AND HUGE!! A couple of weeks later Richard checked the trail cameras and there was a picture of “Splitter Buck” back on the property and it showed the broken tines. We both had hopes that he would survive the hunting season and vehicles to make it to the 2011 season.

In mid-June, Richard started working food plots, trimmed out trees, started scouting for new possibilities of where to put in tree stands and glassing. One evening while watching some deer from a hill top I noticed a large buck walking across a field of wheat stubble. Richard looked and it was a GIANT! His next words were, “It’s him! It’s Splitter Buck!” So the next day he set up a camera and got the 1st pictures of him within hours. Over the next 3 months we were getting pictures of him regularly. He did disappear a couple of times and after studying the trail cam pictures Richard realized it was during the full moon cycle and would return 10-12 days after.

Back to the drawing board about where we could put up tree stands strategically. September 5th was the last time we had pictures on our trail cam of “Splitter Buck”. Is he following his pattern? Was he hit by a vehicle? Youth season opened and still we saw nothing of him nor had we heard of any youth hunters shooting anything large. He has escaped us once again for yet another season!

On September 19th, opening day of archery season had started off with much anticipation and hopes as to what would come out in front of me. We had decided that Richard would sit in his strategically set tree stand while I would be a quarter-mile north of him in a ground blind.

I truly love a morning hunt. I think it is one of the most magical time of the day! If a person listens carefully I swear you can actually hear the sun rise. The distant sound of the turkeys as they fly out of the roosting areas, the various birds are spreading their wings and the scurrying of mice out in search of a small morsel. As shooting light starts to become clear it is confirmed by the eruption of gun fire from the wildlife area and wetlands 1 mile away from where I was sitting. Movement caught my eye to my left and a nice large doe walked out in front of me. As I reached for my bow I once again caught movement and following her was a small reddish colored fawn with very distinguished white dots on it. The doe was safe for this hunt.

Having heard the turkeys earlier I knew it wouldn’t be much longer before they would make their journey across the pasture. With that thought in my mind, here they came. A total of 21 young turkeys and a couple of hens. The young turkeys were very curious to what was different with the blind I was sitting in. Then the fawn decided to entertain itself with the turkeys which in itself, entertained me but also gave me the opportunity to set my bow back down. The fawn, realizing that the doe did not stop to wait for the play time, ran to catch up with it’s mother leaving the young turkeys to look for something to forage. They were all out in front of me at about 40 yards when I had looked down at my cell phone to make sure I had not missed a text message from Richard. When I carefully looked up every head was watching me. Slowly, every young turkey were descending towards the ground blind!! Standing within 5 feet of me they were finally summoned to continue with the hens through the tall grasses and cedar trees of the pasture.

The next hour and a half proved to be quite boring and uneventful. After meeting back up with Richard, we discussed what we each had seen that morning. He had a few small bucks come in and that was it.

As the afternoon approached we were discussing the calendar of events that I had scheduled and how my hunting time over the next couple of months would be limited Richard decided I should take the stand he had sat in that morning and he would sit elsewhere. We knew there had been a descent buck coming into that area pretty regularly every evening.

As I sat in the tree there was a slight breeze coming out of the south/southwest blowing directly in my face. With my gear all ready and my ThermaCell lit, I was ready for anything that walked out if front of me!

After about a half hour I heard a deer snort and blow. About 5 minutes later there was another snort and blow. I wondered what might be out there that they didn’t like. Perhaps someone hunting to the south of me? Based on the wind direction it could be a possibility. I was confident that after all the precautions it couldn’t be me. I was so scent free! I stood up, heard something directly to the back of me and peered around the tree and there stood a decent 8 pointer with his nose straight up in the air….. Then he blew hard and whirled around and ran! SERIOUSLY? As I turned around and looked straight ahead the breeze was still hitting me out of the southwest with an occasional touch out of the west.

Looking at my surrounding, I am in a bowl like opening. As the wind was coming in it was actually swirling around me then going to the east of me right to several main trails. Oh wow, what should I do now? I starting thing, I really didn’t want to ruin a good hunting spot. I took my arrow out of my bow and put it back into the quiver. Richard has worked so hard especially in this area – I can’t ruin it for him! I grabbed my sling and put my bow into it and fastened it in. I thought to myself that I should let Richard know what I am doing. I reached into my pocket and got my cell phone. It’ was DEAD!! REALLY? I stood and looked around and thought, “What would he be telling me to do now?” I let out a sigh!

I took my bow back out of the sling, took my quiver off and took 1 arrow back out and notched it. So many doubts running through my head but I just wasn’t sure of what I should be doing. As I slowly sat down I spied a hoof below a cedar tree. Then to the north of me I saw 2 deer walking thru some thickets. Finally, a sign. I knew their trail would run them back to the south and straight in front of me. I reached over a lifted my bow off the bow holder and slowly stood up. All I could see now was the occasional hoofs under the thick foliage of tree branches. As they stopped, I could finally make out a small fawn’s head. It really was looking nervous as I could see it smelling the air and stretching it’s head as though as it was trying to look over some bush, then lowering it’s head to peer under the bush. I thought to myself, “Come on, just walk on in and bring those behind you through as well! Let me see you all!”

Finally, the fawn started to walk through and slowly the doe did as well. Now behind a tree I waited for them to walk past the tree and into the clearing. Suddenly, it sounded as though a tree had fallen over just to the south of me. As I looked over, through the brush and fallen tree branches, out walks “Splitter Buck”! “Oh My God–he is HUGE!” He turned towards me and started eating grass 13 yards right in front of me. “Oh “my goodness, what should I do? This is the buck my husband wants so bad!”

I watched and secretly wished he would turn and give me a shot! At that moment he turned in one swift movement leaving me to watch his back-end. He stood there looking at the doe and fawn then lowered his head to graze once again. “Please give me some kind of good shot!!” I looked at the doe, the fawn and then, him. I started to draw back on my bow. “What is Richard going to say if I do shoot him? It has been the only buck I have seen today!” At that point I could see just how old he really was. His eyes, the roman nose, and his back gave away his age. He took 2 steps to the side with his back legs giving me a hard quartering away shot. It was almost as though I could hear Richard teaching and telling me again… “Aim as though where you want it to come out at”. I took one big breath and as he lifted his head I released my arrow.

As he dug into the soft sand and turned to run I could see my fetching on my arrow still in his side! He and the doe both turned to disappeared into the thick timber. I don’t even remember where the fawn went to. I was still focused on where my trophy went to and listened intently hoping to hear him crashing in the timber. I sat back down and then I started shaking from my stomach outward realizing I just shot a buck of MY lifetime! I reached over and gathered my equipment and packaged it back up for a 2nd time this evening hunt. I wanted so badly to go out and check the area where I shot him at but decided with a dead cell phone that I should just back out and go get Richard.

Halfway down the trail to Richard, my heart sank a little as I was going to have to tell him exactly what he would not want to hear. I gave a whistle to him to warn him I was there. As he approached me, he said I looked in total shock. When he ask what was wrong, I instantly started crying and told him that I had just shot “Splitter Buck”. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. Then came the usual questions; …shot placement? …direction of travel? etc…

When we got back to the place, I showed him where “Splitter” was when I shot him and found his tracks. Looked around for any sign of blood but found nothing. After walking in circles for a couple of minutes Richard finally found the arrow. The buck had circled around a tree which was obscured to me and ran back north. The arrow he left was missing the broad head and was bloody all the way up to the fletching. So Richard took up the trail and was finding little blood but could definitely tell we were on his tracks. We tracked for approximately 30 minutes thru some of the nastiest thickets and timber ever! Finally after tracking a steady blood trail we rounded a tree where we found him piled up into a thorny thicket – he had run approximately 100 yards from where I had shot him. What a relief!

Maggie Frisbie's outstanding 2011 Archery buck coined "Splitter Buck" for his double brow tines.

Although Richard tells everybody he knows just how proud he is of me, I still can’t help but feel a little tinge of guilt for shooting this buck that I am sure Richard had dreams of in his sleep.

Technical Info: Green score 189 6/8”. Shot at 17 yards, with a Matthews Z7 Bow, equipped with an HHA 5519 sight and a Rip Cord Code Red rest, using a Gold tip Hunter XT 3555 Arrow tipped with a 100 grain NAP Hell Razor Broadhead.

Moral of the story: For those that told me I wouldn’t be able to top my 167” buck–NEVER tell a woman that she CAN’T–especially a woman with a bow in her hand!!

All photos in this entry are courtesy of Maggie & Richard Frisbie.

I went up to Kentucky Lake in Tennessee to do some night bowfishing, it was so much fun!
Night bowfishing was such a different experience! I couldn’t use my marks on my bow at all so aiming with instinct took a little adjusting. I am so thankful that I bowfished during the day first to get my head around shooting low and the all the basics!

The day of the trip we went out and were going to fish with rod and reel until we saw a school of big gar surfacing. Jennifer and I grabbed our bows and decided it was time to scout and day bowfish! We trolled around the islands and saw a few gar and a ton of mud clouds from carp that saw us coming. I couldn’t wait to get back there that night!
We loaded up on the boat about 9pm and headed out to the islands. At first we saw a few bass, which made my heart jump but they are illegal to shoot. In early summer these waters are choked with fish but since the temperature is going down they were hiding in deeper water.

I shot and missed a few times, adjusting to instinct shooting was hard at first but I got a hold of it. My first hit fish was a carp that swam up into the grass and made such a fuss he ended up upside down on top of a pile of grass completely out of the water!

My next fish, I barely hit him in his cheek and he got off the arrow. I shot a really big one, so big that he was ripping line out of the reel even with the trigger all the way down, it was a great fight but right at the boat he took off and the arrow fell out! Gotta remember the gaff next time!

The one that got away…

There was enough fish that we all got to shoot pretty often, the water was unbelievably clear in spots making depth judging so much harder. There were many misses and a few hits but I never stopped having fun!

About 2am we headed back in, it felt like we had been out only 20 minutes! I got several common carp and a couple buffalos. Jennifer got some gar and a carp.

I had so much fun I didn’t realize just how tired I was until I tried to climb out of the boat. The next morning I was so sore from shooting who knows how many times, gotta practice and get stronger for next time!
It was such a blast and I can’t wait till my next trip out!

Author, Michelle Harmes and bowfishing friend Jennifer McKinney with their mess of fish from their night bowfishing trip on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

I had just booked my first bowfishing trip with Scale Damage in Buras, Louisiana and I did it without even thinking about the fact that I had never bowfished before. Michelle Harmes put my mind at ease listening to her bowfishing wisdom. I have to credit Michelle with the reason it had not taken long to get comfortable with my bowfishing rig once Scale Damage had launched and we were on the dark marshes of Louisiana.

For those thinking about partaking in a bowfishing trip but are hesitant, take a look at Michelle’s tips and set you mind at ease that you WILL do well.

Guest post by Michelle Harmes:

Author, Michelle Harmes with a 14 pound Bowfin. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

There are many great websites out there with great tips on bowfishing, you can never learn too much so make sure you check them out as well but there is no better teacher than experiencing it yourself.

This is what I have learned so far from my experiences as a beginner.

The bow
You need a light bow that you can pull many, many times. The lighter the draw weight the shorter your shots can be and still be effective. I pull about 35 pounds on my bowfishing bow and try to keep my shots within 10 feet. It doesn’t have to be a bow made just for bowfishing. I re-purposed my first hunting bow and it works great.

Harmes recommends the AMS Retriever Pro for the reel, saying it is a very simple system that works very well. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

I recommend the AMS Retriever Pro for the reel, it’s a very simple system that works very well. The arrows and arrowheads all depend on what fish you are going after. The tougher skinned and bigger fish can call for sturdier gear. Read the manuals that come with your equipment, there are very important operating and safety tips you need to be aware of, such as making sure your line is not hooked on anything because the arrow can come back if the line gets caught.

Most people don’t use a release but I do because for me it is easier and faster to shoot with a release but it’s a personal choice. Some bowfishing bows don’t come with a loop for a release and you may have to add one.

I do not have a sight on my bowfishing bow, most people don’t use them. Using a sight can block your vision and adds to the complexity and most shots will have to be done within seconds and you may not have time to line up a pin. I have painted marks on the bow that approximate surface, high and low areas. I marked these spots using a bottle as a target and it has worked well for me. See picture A

If you do use marks on your bow you MUST remember that the marks are only a horizontal reference, the actual point of impact is in line with the arrow. The marks are not the same as pins on a sight. See picture B as example. Every bow is different but the principle remains the same.

Picture A. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

Picture B. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

Making your mark
Not everyone can get out on the water to practice and it can be very discouraging to miss every shot on your first day out. All you need is an empty soda bottle (plastic of course!) it is strong enough to take hits without damaging the arrow. Take the tip off the arrow for these practice sessions; you don’t want to damage the tip if you hit a rock or root.

Set the bottle out where you think your average shot will be. You can stand on a platform if your boat or the boat you will be using is high above the water, but it is not necessary for this exercise.

You can view my YouTube video at

Using the bottle to represent a surface shot target, take your time and line up where you think you should shoot. The good thing about the reel is you don’t have to walk out and grab the arrow! Take many shots until you have determined how you want to aim and what part of the bow you want to use as a reference point. If you are comfortable with where you are shooting, mark the bow with a marker so you know where to paint later.

Next take the bottle and toss it around the yard and see if you can hit it with most of your shots with your new mark. Another great method for back yard practice is filling up several water balloons (start with 5 and work up from there) this will help you practice shooting, shot estimation and reeling. The more you shoot at the water balloons the more aware you will be of what muscles you will be using and you can work on strengthening those muscles. Remember, you will be reeling every single time you shoot.

If the lines you have drawn seem to be working you can paint the lines in a bright color of your choice. I painted the surface line and then a line above and a line below. Just like bow hunting the top line is for closer and deeper shots and the bottom line is for longer distance shots. These lines are reference points but every water shot is different, you will learn with every shot you make.

If you feel like you need more practice you can take a bottle and submerge it in some clear, still water near the shore, you don’t need a boat you can shoot from the bank. For these shots I would recommend a sports drink bottle with a wide bright lid. Shoot with the tip on for this exercise so the arrow runs through the water correctly. Shoot at the bottle at varying depths so you can see just how deceiving the water can be. The tip you will hear from all bowfishers is aim lower than you think you need to aim.

Going after real fish
Always check the regulations for the area you will be fishing and don’t shoot a fish unless you know that is legal to shoot. There can be large fines for shooting game fish in some states.

You will notice that predator fish such as gar and bowfin will be easier to shoot as they are ambush predators and will sit still most of the time. Carp are prey fish so they get spooked easily during the day.

Research the fish you will be going after to see what they eat and this will help you find where they are likely to be.

When a fish is on the move, shoot where the fish is going, not where it is. If it is swimming left aim more to the left on the fish. A side shot is easiest but if the fish is swimming towards you aim for the head. Aiming for the biggest part of the fish will give you the best chance of hitting it.

After the shot
When you do connect with a fish, especially a large fish, let it run and don’t fight it too hard you might pull the arrow out and lose the fish. The barbs on the arrow-head should keep the fish on the arrow so you can take your time reeling it back in. Some fish you can just pick the arrow up out of the water with them on it but the larger fish you may need a gaff or a net so that they don’t break the arrow or fall off.

Bowfishing during the day
You don’t need a decked out bowfishing boat to bowfish during the day, just a boat capable of going into shallow waters with either a trolling motor or someone willing to use a push stick to guide the boat around. A push stick can get you into more shallow waters than a trolling motor and is much quieter; however it does take a little practice.

If you are shooting during the day don’t forget your polarized lens sunglasses to see through the water better. I have found that in my cloudy river the best time to hunt during the day is a couple of hours after sunrise, there isn’t much glare and the fish haven’t retreated to cooler water yet.

Be aware of your shadow when you are getting ready to shoot, it can spook the fish. During the day the best shots are in shallow water and at the surface.

Gloves are essential because the fish can be slimy and some fish have sharp teeth.

A Spotted Gar. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

I use my gloves to pick them up after I get them in the boat and for photo taking.

Stay safe on the water, be aware of the edge of the boat so you don’t step off lining up for a shot. Keep where you are fishing free from tripping hazards.
Aim low and have fun!

The author with a 27 pound grass carp. Photo Credit: Michelle Harmes

Wednesday morning I was up and just about ready to leave the lodge when Richard said there were hogs in the back cornfield; two really huge hogs and 5 other good size hogs. I asked Richard if he thought we had time to sneak out there to them at the edge of the field. He said we didn’t so I took off to Jennifer and Andrea’s bedroom to get them up to go shoot the hogs. Jennifer got up and put on a pair of pink jogging shorts, her muck boots, a camo jacket and grabbed her gun. When she came down to the back porch, Richard and her talked about the best way to get close to the hogs. As we were driving away, Jennifer was trekking down the side of the cornfield to the hogs; easy to spot from a far distance with her hot pink shorts on. I wished I had taken a photo of her.

The day drug by slowly, mostly because I was sleep deprived and because I could not wait to get back out hog hunting. Andrea had taken Hank the HuntVe out and was hunting and scouting. At one point I was talking with her on her cell phone when she had to hang up quickly because several hogs came out into the corn field in front of her. She called me an hour or so later and told me she had taken a shot but they didn’t find blood.

That afternoon she called me to ask what time Shannon and Amber had planned on arriving at the lodge. She was seeing a large number of hogs. I called Shannon to tell her and we devised a plan where Shannon and Amber would meet Andrea at the cornfield gate and they would go out from there to the areas that Andrea was seeing the most hog traffic.

My only regrets is that I was not there to join them because I could not get off from work early. I did get the text on my way home that Amber had put two hogs on the ground and shortly after that text I received another stating that Shannon had one on the ground. I wished I was there to share the harvest but I was fortunate enough to share the excitement because they were just bringing the hogs out of the cornfield when we arrived. Here is Amber and Shannon’s exciting story:

Amber’s Story:

I was sitting in school ALL day just waiting for the bell to ring at 3:05! It seemed like it took forever but when it finally did, I hurried outside where my mom picked me up and we headed home to get our hunting clothes and headed off to Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama. We were ready to leave my house when my mom asked, “Where are the keys?” I told her, “I don’t know, I didn’t have them!” When we finally found the keys, we headed to go hunting!

We had gone the previous night and saw a little boar. My Mom, Terry and Nancy Jo tried to talk me into shooting it but I didn’t have my own gun and was worried about shooting someonelse’s gun that I have never shot before. So Andrea shot it; it was her first hog—a nice 88-pound black boar.

The next day Andrea scouted all day, riding around and even sitting in a stand watching over the big cut cornfield. She had seen a lot of hogs and took a shot at two. When we got there we met up with Andrea and the guide, Terry. We rode around on the never-failing HANK the HuntVe! We had not been riding around 10 minutes when we saw hogs. It was a group of 10 or 12 hogs. Terry told us to get off and we snuck up to where they were. He set up the Bog Pod and got me setup. I was standing up and felt wobbly and unstable so I decided I wanted to kneel. He adjusted the Bog Pod for my kneeling position and he told me, “Go ahead and pick you one out!” I said, “Okay”. I started aiming.

There were so many that I didn’t know which one to choose but I finally decided on a black one! When I got the crosshairs on him, I pulled the trigger. It was one of the most exciting times of my life! He dropped and the group of hogs ran about 40 yards and stopped. Terry told me pick out another one and that’s what I did! This time I picked out a little red one! When we went to go look at them, everybody was telling me, Good job!”

We took I don’t know how many pictures! We loaded them up on Hank and went hunting again! We got to the other side of the cornfield and saw more! This time it was my mom’s turn. She got one too! We loaded all the hogs up on Hank and headed back to the cabin. We pulled up to the skinning shed and took MORE pictures. When they weighed the hogs, my boar weighed 98.5 lbs and my sow weighed 53 lbs. I was proud of them!

Amber Markley with her first two feral hog harvests and guide, Terry Garrett.

Shannon’s Story:
It had been a long hard day at work trying to catch up from missing the previous day, but somehow I had managed to get 3 days of work done in 8 hours. I rushed to pick up Amber and get home so that we could gather our camo and guns for our trip to Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama, in hopes of harvesting hogs. Amber was trying to kill her first hog. After the truck was loaded I was missing one thing–the keys. I was getting extremely upset because I wanted to get Amber there before it got dark. After backtracking for about 45 minutes; we finally found the keys and off we were.

I was trying to make up ground so when I hit River Road in Ariton, Alabama; I was driving slightly over the speed limit. Amber asked, “What’s the speed limit?” I said, “I think 45 mph but I want to get you there because I feel like they will cross them roads before dark. She looked at me funny and then said, “We’ll what are you waiting for?”. We got to the lodge and grabbed our boots and asked Jennifer to go with us. Terry came in from bushhogging and said that he was going to sit in a stand but that we would go with us if we wanted him too. I told him “HECK YEAH, Come on!”

Jennifer decided to stay at the lodge and cook Jambalaya. Andrea was waiting in the cornfield on Hank the HuntVe to pick us up. We all loaded up on Hank and started around the field when Terry said, “There’s a pile of hogs, get your guns ready!” Terry and Amber took the lead to sneak up on the bunch while Andrea and I got on both sides, so we could shoot at the ones that crossed our paths. Terry got the Bog Pod ready for Amber and told her to pick one out and shoot it. She shot; hogs went running then they stopped and Terry told her to pick out another one. She did; it dropped in its tracks.

My heart was pumping so hard. I was so excited because my baby girl just got her first and second hog! As they were running for the woods, Terry said to shoot one; I threw my Browning up and let the lead fly. I missed but it didn’t matter because I was too excited for Amber. We took pictures and then loaded the hogs in Hank and headed on around the cornfield.

When we got to the bottom of the cornfield, Terry said, “There are some hogs!”. I got out and got ready—except for taking the safety off. Terry got the Bog Pod ready, or so he thought. When I put my gun on the Bog Pod, it was not locked. The hogs started to move so Terry said he would just hold it and for me to take a shot. I put my gun on the Bog Pod, picked me out a hog and “CLICK”. Oops! I hadn’t taken the safety off! REALLY?? So I took the safety off and replaced the gun back on the Bog Pod and took a shot. BANG! HOG DOWN! Poor Terry didn’t even have a free hand to cover his ears. The remaining hogs ran off down the road. I reloaded and went after them, but they got away; BUT not without me giving them something to think about—a little gunpowder and lead.

It was such an exciting hunt. We high-fived with Terry, took pictures, and loaded up my hog onto Hank with Amber’s hogs. Hank the HuntVe was loaded up with a pile of hogs and some happy Ladies in Camo. It couldn’t have been any more exciting being able to harvest a hog right after Amber harvested her first two hogs. We headed to the lodge to take more pictures and share our stories with everyone else.

Feral hogs loaded up in the front basket of Hank the HuntVe...they couldn't put them on the back of Hank because it was hauling too many excited Ladies in Camo riding on the cart.

It was the perfect ending to what started out as a hard day. We always seem to have a great time at Rack Nine Outdoors with Terry Garrett. I was so happy that Terry was with us on such an exciting hunt and for Amber’s first hog kill—-it made for a hunt to always cherish.

Shannon Markley with her feral hog harvest, guide Terry Garrett and workhorse, Hank the HuntVe

Michele Branning was the first person to sign up for this hunt and was someone I felt I had a connection with before the hog hunt–however, that connection was that she lives in my childhood hometown, Panama City, Florida. Matter of fact, just around the corner from where I grew up. I was introduced to Michele through Facebook when a childhood friend, Sharon Pearman Moses from Panama City linked us together. I had spoken with Michele often through Facebook correspondence, but I had never met her in person.

This was Michele’s first hunt out-of-state and her first experience of hunting at night–I assured her that she was in for a treat. Spending time with Michele was like spending time with an old friend; we were familiar with the same area we called home and even many of the same friends. I kind of laughed when I thought “I finally found someone who is very similar to me.” By this I mean–the last to go to bed and usually the first one up. Michele was actually up for a straight 36 hours on this hunt. Her excitement kept her up, let see what she experienced in the blind.

Michele Branning from Panama City, childhood hometown.

What to write about?

It was my first time hunting hogs at night, hunting out of my state, and my first guided hunt.

I thought about how nervous I was when I first got to the lodge, but that only lasted for a few minutes.

I reminisced about my first thoughts when I walked up to the ground blind and saw there was no door or floor and here it was getting dark.

I looked for snakes inside the blind (thanks to Richard for that tip) and I was thinking what if one decides to come in while I am sitting here.

Hmmm, what have I got myself into? Thankfully that did not happen and I only worried for a couple of minutes about it.

I decided to write about a few of my experiences while sitting in the stand.

On Saturday morning, we were on our way to the stand before daylight. When I reached my stand, I unpacked everything, relaxed and listened for the hogs. I had not heard anything by the time it finally was getting where I could see the area around me just a bit. Sitting there enjoying the most peaceful time of day for me, I watched the shadows closely. I thought I saw one of the shadows move, but I was not sure.

I waited just a second and took another look–Oh yeah! That is a hog! Here we go. I shouldered my gun and turned on the scope. I still could not see clear enough for a shot so I turned on the flashlight. The hog turned at the same time, not good–it is now walking straight toward me. Thinking to myself, this is not good. But then I thought to myself, how many deer have you shot successfully this way? I was confident that I could drop it right there. But I did not want to mess this up and miss it. I told myself just to wait and it will turn. The hog took a few more steps toward me and started to turn. Okay, here we go and I was ready.

Oh no!! The hog turned!! It turned right into the tall grass. I could only see the very top of its back. So here I was, waiting again, hoping that it would turn and come out of that grass. It seemed like forever but it finally turned, as soon as it stepped out where I thought I had a perfect shot–I took the shot. It did a 360 degree turn and went back the other way. I thought to myself, okay this is not good. I had a bad feeling that I did not hit it, but then a piglet came running in and ran back and forth several times.

I ended up sending a text to my guide, Richard, and told him I was not sure if I had made contact with my shot but I wanted to look for blood. He told me he was on his way. Thankfully he helped me as we looked and looked, but no sign that I made a hit. I sure did hate that I missed the first hog that I have ever shot at, but I was so thankful that I did not wound it.

Saturday night, I went back out to the same stand. Right before dark I saw movement outside the doorway of the stand just inside of the treeline. I picked up my rifle hoping that it was a hog. It turned out to be a young deer and it was about 20 feet from the stand. There was a large doe behind it and I was busted. They stomped and blew at me for about 20 minutes. They never came out of the woods and finally they took off.

When I was too tired to sit any longer, I sent a text out that I was ready to be picked up. That was at 9:07 pm, I got a text back 10 minutes later that Richard was on his way. This is the about the time I heard coyotes; a very large pack of them too. Of course I had heard them in the past while walking out of my stands but not this close; they were within a 50yd radius of me; remember no door on my blind.

I thought to myself, I do not like this at all and I did the only thing I could think of; I pointed the rifle toward the door with the light on. Yes, I was scared. Then I was wondering if I was getting picked up by truck because I would have to walk out to the vehicle. There is NO WAY that I am walking out by myself like I did on Friday night. Why am I not seeing headlights yet? Why did I not bring my pistol on this trip? Yes, all of this was running through my head at the same time.

At 9:38 pm I sent a text asking my guide if he was driving in and thankfully a text was sent right back stating he was on the HuntVe on the way in now. Okay, this is good news; he will be driving in. By the time I saw headlights coming toward my stand, I was so happy and ready to get out of that shooting house and out of those woods.

I really enjoyed myself on this hunt and I am looking forward to doing it again. I met some wonderful people, made new friendships, and learned some new things.

Dawn Gribb with SheeWee USA, LLC attended the Rack Nine Outdoors hog hunt over the weekend and although I have field-tested and published a product review on her company’s product, the SheWee, I have never had the opportunity to speak to her. Dawn was our only hunter that came with a fishing pole to wet a hook. Dawn was also thoughtful and brought each one of the ladies a SheWee. Thank you so much Dawn for sharing your company’s outstanding product with this group of women.

Dawn has only been hunting about 3-3.5 years and everything is still new and exciting to her as she has tackled new adventures. She is also going through what many of us ladies experience when we started hunting; confidence tampering thoughts that make you measure your bravery. Dawn did very well and you would have never know she was a new hunter. Here is her story about this new experience and conquering the fear that came with the experience.

Dawn Gribb, SheWee USA, attended the hunt as a new experience, knowing obstacles would be involved....she conquered them.

Conquering my fears

I heard about the trip to Alabama about two weeks before our departure. Wow! An opportunity to get away and go hunting for wild boar with my girlfriends. I am a novice hunter and I am a perpetual planner and like to think every situation through. I imagine how I will react to different situations. But what I experienced on the Boar hunt with Rack Nine Outdoors would open my eyes and force me to address some of my fears.

The first night was ladder stands and lightning – I’ve never been much for heights and had only been in a (large) tree stand one time before our hunt. As I climbed up the ladder and reached the top, I realized quickly that I was “white knuckled”. You know where you are afraid to let go for fear of toppling to the ground, rifle, backpack and all. The tree was rather large and as I tried to throw the safety harness around the tree, I felt a fuzzy vine going up the backside of the tree. My stomach sunk, I tried again to throw the belt around the tree, and finally decided to just turn around and sit down. I strapped myself to the ladder, and tried to look to see if there were any leaves of three coming from the vine above or below me. Hmmmm, it was too hard to tell. So I sat there sweating, and worrying about poison, falling out of the tree and (now realizing the lightning storm was much closer), getting struck by lightning. I knew my girlfriends would write a nice obituary about how I died doing what I wanted to do, but what about the poison all over my face. All of a sudden I heard distant squealing and grunting and my thoughts turned to hog hunting.

The second night was different dilemmas: spiders, getting lost, and total darkness. I was now in a narrower ladder stand and was far away from everyone. They told me I would have to walk in quite far. That wasn’t a problem, I asked my guide to walk with me to the stand. I had my reasons, I was afraid, but I didn’t want to show it. As we walked I had noticed the spider webs but the excitement overcame my fear and I quickly proceeded to the stand. About an hour after I was in the stand, I heard a rustling in the bushes behind me. I turned to see a large boar approaching and my heart started pounding.

Holy crap is this pig going to come to a place where I could shoot it? Forgetting that I was up in a tree stand I tried to whip around to where I could get a shot. But this time (the tree was smaller) I was able to tether myself to the tree and apparently didn’t do it high enough. It seemed like forever till he walked into my view. I took the twisted, turned-around shot and he jumped and ran away. Damn, how could I have missed? I turned around and silently hoped that he would come back, maybe farther away. Then I started to wonder if I shot him and didn’t put him down.

I sat with myself for a while and pictured how he ran a few hundred feet and fell over. Then, my phone started to ring.

Was that you who shot? Came the texts.

Did you get one?

I don’t know, I replied.

Did you look for blood?

Oh, it never occurred to me to get down and look. Holy crap, it’s getting really dark and I have to get down from the “safety” of my tree? What kind of hunter am I? The guide offered to come with a four-wheeler but to me that isn’t hunting. If I shot, I need to get my butt down there and check it out. And so I did. Leaving the comforts of my ThermoCell on the tree stand, I climbed down and slowly walked back to where I thought I shot it. Thinking this was going to be easy and quick, I had not planned on running into large, spiders along the way. As I spun and tried to elude their webs, I got myself all turned around. “Okay, where is the tree that I am supposed to be looking for?” They all look-alike. I turned around to get my bearings and find the tree stand but I couldn’t see it. I started to gingerly walk around looking and realized that I was lost.

Panic started to kick in. I could no longer hear all the bugs making noises. The only sound was my heart pounding in my ears. Anxiety started to kick in and I realized how vulnerable I was. It was now very dark and I held the only light in the forest. Every critter was looking at me. What about the blood? Was there a wounded boar waiting to run me down? All things flashed through my head, until I realized that I needed to calm down, get my bearings, take my time (all the while watching for spiders) and find the ledge that the tree stand was near. After about 15 minutes I was able to find my way back, and the tree stand never looked so good. I had conquered another milestone.

Later, as I sat in the tree stand, the darkness came. There was so much cover where I was that it was pitch black. I couldn’t see my hand right in front of my face. I had never experienced anything like this; sitting alone in the middle of the woods in total darkness. With the heat and humidity the air was thick, and there was the constant high-pitched sound of the mosquitoes and bugs. I tried to focus on listening for footsteps but my mind wandered. I had never been cut-off in total darkness. This was a new experience. It must be like being in solitary confinement, but it was my choice and I was not going to be fearful anymore. I was conquering my fears.

I can’t wait to get back out there and try it again. With every hunt comes knowledge. And next time I will be better prepared.

Richard and Hank the HuntVe bringing Dawn in from her morning hunt.

Michelle Harmes sent me an email requesting information about the ladies hog hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors after it posted on Women’s Outdoor News. I don’t think I had the chance to reply before I got a second email that read “Sign me up. Where do I need to mail my deposit?”

Michelle was probably the most quiet in the entire bunch, yet the most observant. You could tell she was a little nervous, yet excited and pumped-up about being at the hunt, without her saying a word. Michelle had one of the most exciting hunts–shy of Jennifer’s triple–where she had a close encounter with a boar hog while hunting out of a GROUND blind. YEP…eye to eye with the beast with nothing but a sheet of material between them–sends chills down my spine.

Michelle Harmes loaded down with gear.

Here is Michelle’s incredible story:

It was a short drive from my house to Rack Nine Outdoors, down past Lake Eufaula and then through farming country with rolling hills. It was very beautiful. When I got to the entrance, I turned in to the dirt drive I was struck by the sight of a house on a grass island in the middle of a sea of corn.

The inside of the lodge was beautiful, there were very impressive deer mounted on the walls and sheds by the fireplace. The living room had windows on three walls so you could look out to the corn fields and down to the forest. Even though I had never met the guides before, it felt like I was in the home of a friend. Slowly the other ladies arrived and we all introduced ourselves. Everyone was excited about going hunting that night. When Nancy Jo arrived she had goody bags filled with t-shirts, hats and koozies from some companies that cater to women hunters.

There were some thunderstorms brewing out in the distance but they were supposed to go around us. We all went outside to watch the lightning and the wind started whipping the corn into waves. It started to sprinkle and then pour down rain as we went inside for dinner. It was amazing pork chops, potatoes with green beans and corn. A great hot meal to prepare us for the night out in stands.

When the storm had past the ladies all switched from casual to camo with our guns ready and game faces on. We loaded up into separate trucks and drove off to the drop off points. My stand was up first, a little wooden ground blind set between the corn field and the woods. A perfect location since the field was being dug up by the hogs. On my walk out I saw three little piglets that just stared at me as I walked up. They were big enough to look like mini hogs but no bigger than 20 pounds. I knelt and pulled my magazine out and snapped it into the AK-47. They just kept watching me. I was hoping Mama Pig was going to be right in the corn field behind them. I charged the gun but the click made them turn and walk into the tall stalks. Methinks they have heard that noise before. I tried to find them but they were always a step ahead of me so I continued on to my blind.

It was enough for two people with two chairs inside, one for me and one for my gear. I set up my tripod with my spotlight on top and waited for night fall. I heard three gunshots and that made me happy and hopeful that there was lots of pigs to be had. Later I learned that my roommate Jennifer decimated three pigs before she even got to her stand! She has never hunted hogs before this trip, I was so happy for her, what a rush that must have been!

I didn’t see any more pigs that night and sent out the call to be picked up about fifteen minutes past 1 am. Greg, one of the guides came and he had Chris and Nancy Jo in the truck picking them up from their stands. We took the back road around the corn field and it was a great ride in the fresh mud, gotta love off roading!

We were all tired back at the lodge and chatted a bit and then went to bed so we could be up and out again before sunrise. We left the lodge again at 4am and that morning I heard pigs chomping in the woods but didn’t see anything. I was visited by a toad, a hawk and many crows. When the sun started getting hot I called to get picked up and Terry, the main guide, came on the atv and we rode back to the lodge. I haven’t been on an ATV in forever!

I got back and was just in time to have some 14 layer birthday cake for Amber’s birthday. That’s right, I said 14 layers. I crashed into bed for a much-needed nap and woke up for lunch of delicious burgers and chips. We all decided we wanted to get out early so we could set up long before sunset. We visited and then ate an early dinner.

I was switched to a different ground blind after not seeing anything in the last blind. When the truck dropped me off I could just see a glimpse of the stand. It was sitting in a dried up swamp, the grass was so thick and green it looked like the swamp was full of green water. My blind was next to a big tree and about 20 yards from a very popular wallow.

The drained pond bed that Michelle hunted in on Saturday

The popular hog wallow

I settled in, excited that there was so much sign. After half an hour a doe walked in at the far side of the swamp, she was a very large red doe but so far away I could only tell she was looking my way when I could see the white of her ears. Two more does joined her and they wandered around eating.

At almost exactly 8pm one of the shadows in the woods came to life. He had made no noise walking out of the forest, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and looked just in time to see him shove an offending branch out of his way. His massive head was held high in the air, he knew he was king of the forest. He started a slow jog in front of me, almost prancing in the soft ground. His very round body floated over his stubby legs as he got further out into the open .

The blind I was in had mesh over the windows that I was watching him from, I had to wait until he got to an open window. I reached for the gun in my lap, ready and nearly drooling that this moment was more perfect than I could have imagined. He was going to prance in front of me to the wallow and I was going to have a huge hog!

My heart sank and time crawled in slow motion as just before the open window the boar turned 90 degrees and jogged straight at me in my flimsy fabric ground blind. My chair is so low that he disappeared behind the fabric wall when he came within 10 feet of me. I must have sat up when I couldn’t see him anymore because he stopped in his tracks, dropped his head and jumped to the side, snorting.

The only thing between the big boar hog and Michelle was the material that this blind was made of.

He was going to charge! Is what my brain told me. But I just startled the beast. He ran back towards the woods but he was still looking my way. He was perfectly quartered away from me but hidden behind a stretch of fabric next to the window. I leaned forward trembling and I aimed for his head.


I knew I missed, I knew I should have aimed for the body. I knew I failed as he turned and ran. Had I not been in a ground blind I would have shot every bullet I had as he ran away. I couldn’t stop shaking as panic and paranoia set in. Eventually I calmed down but didn’t see anything else that night, except the baby alligator that lived in the wallow. He wasn’t more than a foot long. It was a great learning experience and something I will never forget. I am pretty disappointed that I failed so hard but I guess that this is why they call hunting the relentless pursuit.

Another day Prancer, another day.

It was a slow morning waking up, every one planned on leaving at 3:30am but not a creature stirred till 4am. I was back out at my swamp blind just as dusk was breaking. I stayed out later in the morning thinking that the heat would make them come out to the wallow but the only thing that I saw was an increasing number of bees and wasps inspecting my blind so I called to be picked up. Terry came by with Chris on the ATV and I hopped on the back and all three of us rode up to the lodge. It was a bumpy ride and a little scary because I thought my back would act up but once I relaxed it never did.

Everyone was getting ready to go and we had a quick lunch of pork chops and bread. Then we took some group pictures and said our good byes. It was an amazing trip and I had so much fun and made some great friends that I can’t wait to hunt with this fall! I cannot wait to go again next year and get that Prancer!

Like many areas in the South, Alabama has experienced a rapidly increasing feral hog population that has wreaked havoc on commercial agriculture. Terry Garrett with Rack Nine Outdoors knows first-hand what kind of damage these hogs can do. Since feral hogs are crepuscular or nocturnal they are hard to hunt under normal means. Armed with a Wildlife Damage Permit/Depredation Permit allowing hunters to help control the increasing population of hogs by hunting these animals by any means, this group of all female hunters was going to have the opportunity to hunt hogs when they were most active; in the twilight hours and pitch-black of night.

I have been blessed with meeting some fantastic women since I have taken up the sport of hunting. Jennifer McKinney is definitely no exception. I knew immediately when I met her that we had a common bond. Jennifer had a phenomenal hunt during the hog hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors…a story I wanted her to share with all my blog readers.

Jennifer McKinney....always smiling and a pleasure to be in camp with.

Jennifer’s story from the Ladies Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors: June 24-26, 2011

-Why would you want to do that?
-You’re going to go shoot a (insert any animal here)?
-Are you crazy?

These are all common responses I receive when attempting to share my enthusiasm of hunting and my outdoor adventures with coworkers, family, my stylist, basically anyone who will listen. You see, apparently since I am a woman I’m not supposed to get my hands dirty, I’m not supposed to get all decked out in camouflage, and I’m not supposed to shoot stuff. So when I first found out about a “Ladies Only” hog hunt in Alabama, I was stoked but pretty much expecting the same response as always from everyone. My own mother even posted on my Facebook page, “I just keep trying to figure out who stole my little girl and replaced her with this redneck!!”

Despite the stunned, sometimes even grotesque responses, I immediately contacted Nancy Jo Adams, the Guru Huntress and columnist of Shenanigans from the Field, to book my first ever hog hunt. For the next two months I did everything I could think of to prepare for my trip to Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, AL. I started watching more hunting shows where guests went after massive wild boar on foot during spot and stalks, from stands over feeders, and with hog flushing leather shielded dogs. Out behind my house, I practiced taking vital shots with my bow from the ground and up in tree stands, at various distances until I felt confident in my abilities. I spent several afternoons at the rifle and pistol ranges polishing up my shot and zeroing in my scope. Since we would be hunting at night, I even practiced obtaining targets in my sights using a scope mounted Streamlight in the dark of night. Pack lists were made and revised at least 20 times and my bags were packed and repacked a couple times, ok more like 5 times. (I tend to get a little OCD when I’m excited.)

It was now the week of my hunt; boy was it going to be some long 12 hour shifts in the critical care unit this week. I’m sure my coworkers were tired of hearing me going over my pack lists over and over again; but my patients enjoyed hearing about my upcoming trip as it helped take their minds off being in the hospital. One even shared his stories and experiences hunting hogs when he was a young man. As June 24th neared, I became increasingly excited and then anxious and even a little nervous.

It was now THE day, that night I would be in the woods hopefully having a showdown at the Big Pig Corral. When the alarm clock went off at 0400, my nerves were on high alert. Sometime during the night, the butterflies in my stomach had gone from around a hundred in number to somewhere around 1 million. I moved at record breaking speed that morning: showered, dressed, breakfast cooked and ate, travel mug of coffee topped off, teeth brushed, even put a little makeup on all in about 35 minutes. All that was left to do was remind my husband that it was a “Ladies Only” hunt, that he could go next time and get my “see you in a few days” hug and kiss. By 0445 I was Alabama bound.

First of all, I had never been to Alabama and really had no idea what to expect along the way. For anyone who has never been, Alabama is absolutely beautiful. So much history was made there. I was imagining what it must have been like for all the soldiers during the Civil War that passed through these wooded rolling hills. As I drove through Birmingham I was reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights movement. Twisted and mangled light poles and splintered trees along the ridges surrounding the city were solemn reminders of the deadly tornadoes that hit the area this past spring. Despite the destruction that was still present, I could feel an energy that was calming and uplifting and I knew that Birmingham would continue to progress and make history as it overcame this obstacle.

Around 1400, Rack Nine Outdoors’ sign came into view and my heart skipped a few beats then took off flying. I pulled up to the lodge and Terry Garrett greeted me at the door with a warm Southern smile and “come on in”. A bit tired from my 7 hour drive, the loveseats and recliners of the lodge’s living area beckoned me to snuggle up in them. There I also was introduced to Michelle, she would be my bunk buddy during our stay. As the three of us shared hunting stories, the other ladies started rolling in along with Greg Louvoin of Rack Nine Outdoors. It was a relaxing afternoon, and as everyone settled in Nancy Jo Adams and her husband, Richard, arrived. It was party time now! Terry and Greg prepared a delicious dinner of pork loin, green beans with potatoes, and buttered corn as us girls watched storms roll in from the far off distance.

Somewhat worried that our first night’s hunt was going to be a wash out, we finished dinner and began getting ready to head to the woods. The storms lifted and left in their wake two beautiful rainbows that arched over the lodge, absolutely magical. It was on: we were quickly assigned a guide and loaded ourselves and our gear into their trucks. Terry carried me and three of the other ladies to our stands as the sun was in its last few minutes of setting. Knowing that we were all a bit anxious about traipsing through foreign hog infested woods; Terry took the time to walk each lady to their stands ensuring they made it safely. As we approached the third stand location (more like slid down the slick red clay hill drive towards the third location), we spooked a huge hog which Terry informed us of being a 300+ pound boar. As our jaws dropped at the size of the beast, all we saw was its huge black rear end heading at a high rate of speed directly into the woods where the third tree stand was located. Needless to say, Krissy was pretty hesitant to get out and go in to her stand at that point; but Terry helped her out and reassured her that it was okay as they walked towards her stand. I was next.

Terry returned to the truck with his big cheese eating grin and asked if I was ready. I immediately answered, “Heck yeah” but inside I was so nervous yet excited yet not really sure really. Did I really want to take on a 300+ pounder? All the stories of hogs attacking people, dogs getting sliced and diced flushing out hogs, and how can you forget the scene from Old Yeller: all these stories and pictures were flashing through my mind as we drove towards my destination. The butterflies in my belly now felt like a hornets nest buzzing with anticipation. I was ready for this. I had prepared for this for weeks. It was going to be just like any other hunting expedition: walk in to the stand, get up in the tree, settle in, and wait. But was I really ready? These are hogs, they have teeth, some really big teeth.

The truck came to a stop and Terry opened his door. I took a deep breath, grabbed up my gun, inserted a loaded magazine into my Thompson Center Icon 30TC, and cycled a round into the chamber as I set my feet on the ground outside the jacked up truck. I could feel all my senses going into overdrive. Terry flashed me a look that said “here we go” and we entered into the darkest woods I have ever set foot in. Surprisingly, my eyes adjusted to the darkness rather quickly. We walked slowly along the glow-dotted path towards my stand. We were about 20 yards into the woods when I began hearing snapping of small tree branches and crunching of leaves ahead and to the left and right. Terry briefly stopped and asked if I heard that. Yes, I definitely heard that and was so glad to know that he did too. Again that smile, I believe I saw every tooth in that man’s head this time as I answered him. “Get ready.” He then turned back ahead of us and shone his flashlight on the biggest bunch of pigs I do believe I ever have seen only 15-20 yards away from us. I was so revved up it looked to be an army of them with a big sow as their general standing right in the middle, but it could have also been just 5 of them. I quickly turned my Streamlight on, shouldered my Icon, and acquired my target in my Leupold VXIII scope: the big sow in the middle.

There were so many smaller pigs around her that it was impossible to take a typical shoulder shot; I was going for a head shot. Now I have to fill you in on a little problem of mine. I am a nurse. I have seen some gosh awful things in my life, but I can not handle anything that involves head injuries. Now here I am aiming at this big sow’s head, nice. Terry tells me to take my time on my shot, that I have plenty of time. I didn’t need time; I just needed a stronger stomach for what was to come so I thought. I had a rock steady sight on my hog and I was squeezing a round off into her head. Well much to my surprise and apparently Terry’s too, as I squeezed off that shot a smaller pig step right in front of my shot. Both the small pig and the big sow dropped.

What?! I just harvested two hogs with one shot! Pigs scatter in every direction. I immediately and instinctively dropped to one knee, cycled another round into the chamber, and started looking for the next target. Terry was still standing there trying to high five me and I was tracking another pig that was moving on my left. Fortunately for the pig that was now in my sights, it stopped behind two small trees. It must have felt my cross hairs beating down on him, so it turned a perfect 90 degree right face and high tailed it out of there. As I stood back up, Terry was back at my side and the loud ruckus of the evading pigs had settled. Alright, now we could celebrate and go see my first and second hogs ever.

As we walked up to my silent pigs, I could not believe just how big they were. I have heard of ground shrinkage with hunting deer, but these jokers got bigger. So many emotions were stirring throughout my body. I just encountered a pack of hogs, shot two with one shot off hand in the head, almost had another one, and best of all I didn’t get attacked on my way to the stand. I knew right then and there I was addicted. I didn’t know what to say or do or anything, so I just gave Terry a high five and I’m sure I was grinning to where he could now see every tooth in my head. He then asked if I wanted to stay and see if they came back or head back to the lodge. Since the chance of hogs showing back up was slim and I was highly anxious to get back for pictures, I decided to ride back with Terry and boy am I glad I did.

As we made our way back to the truck, Terry radioed to Greg that I had two hogs down and for him to bring the four-wheeler to retrieve them. We were heading back to the lodge on the now mucked up, slippery clay roads when we met up with Greg and Richard heading towards my stand on the HuntV. Terry was quick on the draw to announce that I had two hogs that I had harvested with one shot. “Dang this girl can shoot”, I heard one of them say. Greg and Richard both congratulated me and continued down the trail.
Giddy and still doing the happy dance in my head, Terry drove us slowly towards the lodge. We had made it only 200 yards when we both spotted another pack of smaller hogs standing in and to the left of the road ahead of us. Immediately, I reached for my rifle with my left hand and the door handle with my right; I was committed to shooting another hog. At that moment, Terry was putting the truck in park and asked me, “Do you wanna shoot another one?” My memory is a bit blurry about what exactly I replied but Terry claims it was, “that’s a stupid question!”

Before the truck was in park, my feet had hit the ground and I was propping my rifle on the passenger door’s sideview mirror. Since they were standing in the beam of the truck’s headlights, I didn’t even worry with the Streamlight. I quickly acquired my first target and squeezed off a round of my 30TC behind the right ear of a little black pig. He dropped to the ground as the other pigs scattered. I found another pig running slightly towards the truck and to the right and set my cross hairs behind his right ear also. Fortunately for this little piggy, I was not going to sacrifice Terry’s side view mirror for a pig as it got in my way. This little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home to live another day.

I’m not sure who was squealing more, Terry or the running pigs as we approached my third harvested hog. Again, this little dude grew about 20 pounds as I got closer. I could not believe it, it had only been 4 minutes since I had taken my last shot and I have just put another hog on the ground. I was no longer doing the happy dance in my head but a full out forbidden running-man-sprinkler-Mr. Roboto combo in my head. All Terry saw was my all-teeth grin again as we high-fived over my third hog, “Mrs. Tennessee has put another hog down!” Terry loaded the small boar into the bed of his truck and again we were off to the lodge.

Jennifer McKinney's THREE Hogs...two with one shot and the other one was shot on the way back to the lodge.

I had to have been glowing enough to see from space as we pulled up to the skinning shed just down the hill from the lodge. Shortly after unloading the boar, Greg and Richard showed up with my first two hogs. Both saw my third hog and were wondering where it came from since they hadn’t been radioed to pick it up. Seeing the puzzled look on their faces, I told them about encountering the pack in the area that they had literally just come through on the HuntVe. Terry again bragged about my well placed shot and I finished telling them the story of the hogs they retrieved. I now knew what it was like: the “after a successful hunt brag session” that you always see on all the hunting shows. I felt like I was living out a dream. I stood there and soaked it all in as Terry and Greg weighed each one: 142 pounds, 59 pounds, and 31 pounds. Oh my gosh! They then cleaned the mud off and prepared them for their close ups. All three men took pictures and then it was time to get down to business skinning and quartering.

As Terry started on the first hog, another Alabama thunderstorm started rolling in. These are short lived storms that have more bark than bite, but to us out-of-towners they’re menacing enough to come in from the stands. It wasn’t long when the first round of ladies came in. Everyone was very congratulatory of my harvest and equally excited about the hunt so far. No one else had the opportunity to take a shot yet, but many had seen their first hogs ever and were stoked about going back out in the morning. As the rest of the ladies ventured in from the woods, we gathered back at the lodge. Stories were shared of everyone’s experience that evening and plans were being made for when everyone wanted to head out the next day.

Tennessee Bound...bringing home the bacon.

Excitement had me up until the wee hours of the morning Saturday, so I decided to stay back and try to catch up on some sleep that morning. It must have been a good morning for it, because as the ladies made their ways back in no one had seen any hogs. “Good I didn’t miss anything.” We had a young lady hunter with us, Amber, who’s 13th birthday was that day, so for breakfast we had the most sinfully awesome tasting 14 layer chocolate cake and good ole Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. We have all decided that any future “Ladies Only” hunts must include this cake regardless of whether it is someone’s birthday.

After “breakfast”, several of us headed back out to the woods to try a brunch-to-lunch hunt. So I loaded back up in Terry’s truck and off we went. This time I actually made it to and into the ladder stand. I didn’t see any hogs this time or that night for that matter, but I did have a wonderful time relaxing, clearing my mind, and having a guide try to get me riled up.

Sitting up there in the stand that morning, I encountered some kind of lizard that apparently really liked me because later I found out the show he was putting on was their mating ritual. Sweet, at least he wasn’t trying to eat me which eased my mind. I also had a very “manly” squirrel trying to have a chat with me. Greg informed me that the wildlife here are “used to seeing ugly old guys”, so it was a real treat for them to see women out here for a change.

Saturday night was an interesting hunt. Even though I didn’t encounter any hogs, it was a whole new experience sitting in pitch black darkness and depending on your other senses to hunt. To hunt at night, you sit in the stand and listen for the hogs to come in. As they draw closer, you turn on a spot light, and shine them. It is amazing the clarity in your scope; its like hunting in broad daylight.

Armadillos, I can report, don’t sound any different from state to state. They still sound like a heard of elephants in the Alabama woods. First an armadillo passed under my stand. Then an odd coupling of a raccoon (biggest raccoon I had ever seen and I’ve seen some BIG raccoons while out bowfishing) and an opossum. I believe they were trying to have a “who could chew the loudest” contest as they chowed down on the corn that had been scattered around my stand. The rest of the hunt produced another handful of opossums and one more raccoon. There is nothing like being just a few feet away from wild animals and observing them in their own element.

Even though I didn’t see anymore hogs during my time at Rack Nine Outdoors, I definitely chalk it up as a highly successful hunt. The guides were awesome, the lodge was very accommodating, relaxed, and comfortable, the food was great, and the company could not be beat. I met some outstanding outdoors women, gained many new friends, and shared in making many amazing memories that weekend. I would be honored and look forward to sharing a lodge with any of them again in the near future. I would like to thank the guides of Rack Nine Outdoors: Terry Garrett and Greg Louvoin and Nancy Jo Adams and Richard Holt for all of your hard work in organizing and coordinating this amazing hog hunt.

I would also like to thank the many companies who provided items for the Swag Bag: THY Enterprises, Inc., Shewee USA, Buck Girl, Doeville: the Female Huntress, Girls with Guns Clothing,, and Strut & Rut Energy Shot. Every one of you made this a trip I will never forget. ~Jennifer McKinney

One happy huntress--Congratulations on an awesome hunt.

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