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Last week, I shared the story of the eventual parting or ways with Hank the HuntVe. Although we have contemplated on keeping Hank since it is a turkey and hog hunting advantage. We are still contemplating on the decision…it is hard to let go of something that has brought you great pleasure and grand memories over the years.

Today, we picked up our new Mule, a Kawasaki Pro-FXT Farm Edition. I saw this Mule at the Louisiana Sportsman Expo last month and it truly spoke to me; even though we were not diligently looking. I just felt it was everything we needed and the bed on it….well, I envisioned stacks of deer feed, seed, a turkey carcass or two, and even sized it up for a trophy buck. The model we looked at was a three-seater and really that was all we need; so I thought.

We stopped by our local dealer, Ward’s Yamaha, and they had the same model, however, this one was a convertible six-seater. I hem-hawed thinking we really didn’t need a six-seater, it is normally just Mister and I the majority of the time; or one of us and another hunter. After looking at how easy the extra seats stowed away and unfolded–how quickly you can convert it and a little coaxing by Mister, I was sold! Now we have options if the need ever arises to have others ride with us.

We have worked diligently over the last few years with what I have affectionately coined our “side-hustle”, Life in Camo Media, LLC, all while both working a full-time job in the same engineering firm. We have focused our income from our side hustle toward our “hunting way of life.” We have been fortunate enough to be blessed with some great leases in several states, to travel the nation turkey and deer hunting, and to have met and shared memories with many people; including manufacturing reps, vendors, and those in media. I don’t say this to brag or boast; far from that. We are grateful for the fruits of our sacrifices, dedication, and more often than not, hard work. I say all this to encourage those that I know are in my shoes–on the brink of a deadline and burning the midnight oil, or having to turn down opportunities for current obligations, or when you look at your planner and you have scheduled more hours of work in a week  than you have so you will end up sacrificing an entire weekend holding down a chair in a coffee shop. Those that feel like giving up.

Stick to your goals, sacrifice some, and work hard and you will reap the bounty of a good harvest. Anyone who knows me well, or follows us on social media, or even those that have followed my writings know that I name just about everything I own, especially those things that bring me joy and are special to me. My friends, I introduce to you EARNIE the Mule….

Yep, EARNIE with an “A”. Why “Earnie” and not “Ernie”? I felt like we truly “earned” this one, the fruits of our labor; especially this past year with being our busiest year. I will remember this and be grateful for sacrifices in the late night and/or early morning hours. I can only pray that Earnie the Mule brings as many grand adventures and memories as Hank the HuntVe has over the years–and more.

As Cletus hauled Earnie the Mule home, I sat in the passenger seat reflecting. With Mister’s purchase of “Earl” the Kubota MZ5200 earlier this year and my upgrading from Hank the HuntVe to “Earnie the Mule”, it struck me and I belted out a “mock” rendition of a famous tune by Mel Tillis:

“I got a mule and he’s got a work horse,
together we’re gonna RIDE, RIDE, RIDE….”


I am not sure how comical that little jingle is in black and white, but we both got a pretty good laugh over it. Anyways, I wanted to share this story because hard work truly does pay off in time. Never give up on your “goals”–I never say “dreams” because to me dreams are where goals go to die. I have never been a dreamer, only a goal setter. If I fail, then it only means I have a chance to do it again; only better.

img_2887As I type this, Mister is busy, single-handedly building a “CORAL” for the horse and mule. Another thing that I am grateful for, someone to share this passion with that understands and relentlessly lives this life, that understands the hard work. For lack of spare hours, I may not always have a spotless house, have dinner on the table, or even the wash folded, but we are in this together–and that not only makes us a team, it truly makes us happy.


A question was addressed on a Facebook page for a writer’s website that I follow. The question was “As a writer, what is the best advice you ever received?”

My answer…
“Actually, this is not advice that was given to me, it is what I sat down and asked myself before I ever wrote and published my first product review; elements I use for every evaluation and field test.

The Syren by Fabarm, a division of Caesar Guerini

I asked myself, as a consumer and a hunter who depends on my gear with some critical in saving my life in the field what is important to me, to others, to the industry as a whole. As a product review writer for the outdoor industry, I think the best advice for me was that I need to approach every product WITHOUT personal preference and to be unbiased to the product and brand.

What works for me, may not work for the next person. In all situations and for all hunters, is this product practical in the field, is it quality and is the price comparable to the products demand, use, and quality?”


Houndstooth Game Calls

As hunters and consumers, we are all looking for quality products within our own personal budget, that appeal to each of us and are practical for the products intended purpose in the field. I use every product that I write about and I bring readers the technical information about that product, not necessarily my personal opinion, but my unbiased opinion of that product and how it performed in the field.

I often get asked, “How do you handle products you do not like?” This is simple, I return the item to the manufacturer or vendor with a brief explanation as to why I could not publish a positive review on the product or why it failed in the field during my use. I will not put a bad review in publication; if it is a product I cannot spread good news about, I return it with an explanation that allows the manufacturer to respond or to use my opinions as valuable product design information, which is appreciated by the many manufacturers and/or vendors and it allows me to stay in good standing with that company for future assignments.


Heat Packs by ThermaCell

My ultimate goal is to get as much positive exposure on the Internet and through social media of a product for a company from my field testing and personal use of their product in the field.

The bottom line, I treat all of those that I deal with in a professional and/or business capacity in a manner that I would like to be treated if the tables were turned.

Much gratitude is felt for all the companies that I have worked with in the past and those I am working with this year in getting product exposure for your product; I appreciate your trust in my ability and your confidence in my promise to provide a service. 

Clyde and Friends

I write this with mixed emotions bringing the sad news that my beloved Clyde has gone to Dodge Heaven and will be no more. It was a sudden death and a real shock to Mister and I both. So many fond memories…..

Hunt Camp at Pirates Cove Resort on Jonathan Creek at Kentucky Lake in 2011

Hunt Camp at Pirates Cove Resort on Jonathan Creek at Kentucky Lake in 2011 w/Greg & Billinda Neyman at the Kentucky lease.

Waiting for an early morning turkey hunt.

Waiting for the fog to lift for an early morning turkey hunt…one of many early morning hunts Clyde got us to on time.

The day we brought Clyde home from Tennessee. We searched several states to find a 6 speed manual transmission Heavy Duty Diesel that we wanted

The day we brought Clyde home from Tennessee. We searched several states to find a 6 speed manual transmission Heavy Duty Diesel that we wanted.

We enjoyed so many wonderful places and many miles shared with good friends. Like our very first trip that took me to Minnesota with Pat Hendrixson and Tammie Knopp to hunt black bear, a Florida gator hunt with Shanon and Amber Markley, an Osceola turkey hunt and a trip to hunt gators with Pat Hendrixson, a fun trip to Savanah, Georgia with Sonya Hancock, a hog hunt at Ken “Bubba” Ledbetter’s in Liberty Mississippi with Kasey Riddle and Billinda Neyman, hauling several LIC staff around in Nashville at the NWTF Convention, a deep-sea fishing trip turned vacay to Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans with Lisa Coppenbarger and Sonya Hancock, an eastern turkey hunt with Kurt and Mackenzie Walters, an Osceola hunt turned mini vacay in Coral Gables, Florida with Greg and Billinda Neyman, and more recently, a hog hunt with Nito Mortero and Becca Estes.

DirtClyde was there to pick up Diane Hassinger from the Montgomery Municipal Airport on her first trip to Alabama the very first time we met. Clyde made us proud when Jeanne Peebles and myself giggled in the cab of that big old truck as we climbed up a soppy Alabama red clay hillside in 4-wheel drive at a dog deer hunt as other vehicles were stuck in the muck.

I attempted my very first oil change on Clyde and although I had just as much oil on me as I feel was in the oil reservoir…I now know I can change the oil and filters in a truck. Many ideas were thought up, many words were typed, many hours of audiobooks heard and many problems brainstormed in that big old comfortable cab.

Mister and I shared so many miles of GREAT ADVENTURES that took us to states like Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and anything in between more. Not to mention the MANY miles within the boundaries of the State of Alabama; there are not too many main roads that were left untraveled. The countless miles of highway looking at the world through a windshield.

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One of many lunches served on the console..

One of many lunches served on the console.



We both felt as if we had V.I.P. front row seating to many sunrises and sunsets, mountains and valley plains, passed many beautiful agriculture fields and crossed over many winding creeks and rivers. We shared fast food sack dinners, truck stop grub and even holiday meals on the center console and several lunches eaten off the tailgate.


A tailgate lunch on Clyde's last trip to Missouri.

A tailgate lunch on Clyde’s last trip to Missouri.


We remember the day fondly when we brought Clyde home as I blogged about out last day with The Lil Silver Pony. Just as we remember all too well as we watched Clyde’s odometer roll over 100,000 miles by Parkman Cattle Company in Montgomery, Alabama and when it rolled over 200,000 miles crossing over the Mississippi River in Saint Louis, Missouri, as we cheered Clyde on with a Whoo Hooo…both, Mister and I, simultaneously patting the dashboard!


Trustworthy…never leaving us on the side of the road, Clyde fought to roll the last 100 yards into the dealership’s service bay with a horrible rattle, growl and a clatter as Mister turned the key off. We knew it was not good but we never dreamed it would be the “Death of Clyde.”

Farewell steel steed…trusty travel partner…it was a good ride.

Farewell our steel steed…trusty travel partner…it’s been a good ride.

Four years, four months, 240,560 miles and countless engine hours….farewell our steel steedour trusty old friend and travel has been a good ride on a GRAND JOURNEY.

Today we go to the Dodge dealership to order a replacement and should the new truck live up to “rolling in the tires” of Clyde, it will be another great entry in the “Chapter of Dodges” that we have owned and loved in this lifetime. Now, to find the right name…

This has been one of the busiest summers that I have experienced in several years. From hosting hog hunts, helping build an expo booth, purchasing, ordering and inventorying goods to learning the small business/retail tax code, planning expos and working network avenues toward a really strong 2013. Phew! At any given time that I thought I could steal for a breather, it was only filled with trying to catch up on life outside of this new venture. Albeit, NO COMPLAINTS at all.

My normal ritual of strictly sticking to a To-Do List with determination and dedication has been thrown to the wind because I had become bored with rewriting the To-Do List…as a matter of fact, the re-writing of my To-Do List became an item on the list itself.

As most of you already know, I incorporated Ladies in Camo this year and launched the website with the help of some amazing ladies in March 1st. The website has been going strong with over 10,000 hits our first month. We bought a trailer for expos, hunts and other events. Richard built a wonderful booth for the expo shows. We just returned from our first expo last week where we met may people and were able to share some great items and hunts with them.

We learned a lot from our first expo; first and foremost, that the booth was entirely too small to show case all that Ladies in Camo has to share and to be able to highlight all the amazing hunts we have to offer. So with that said, Richard came home and built additional booth space. We will be attending our second expo next weekend; The GON Outdoor Blast in Duluth, Georgia. Then in mid August we will be in Montgomery, Alabama at the Buckmasters Expo. We are looking forward to the upcoming shows and events.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out what Ladies in Camo is up to, what hunts we have to offer or all of the cool items in our store, go to the website at If you are attending any of the expos or events on our calendar, stop by and say “Hello!”

Enjoy the rest of your summer and be safe.

I am humbled and honored to be one of the top 12 contestants in the Prois Awards. If you haven’t taken the time to look over the essays and cast your vote, you only have two days left to do so. There are some really great women in this competition. Please take a minute to go to the website and cast your vote. Regardless if you vote for me or another contestant, as always, I appreciate your support of women in the sport of hunting.

Click the link and cast your vote today…time is running out:

What is the Prois Awards? Here is the contest information from the Prois website.

“In our continued efforts to recognize the most hardcore female hunters around, Prois Hunting & Field Apparel proudly announces the 2011 Prois Award Contest. Prois leads the pack when it comes to hardcore, performance driven hunting apparel, so it is only fitting that we honor the women who stop at nothing to experience the hunt of a lifetime.

What does it take to win the Prois Award? Guts, determination and a passion for the hunt. Involvement in conservation, management and community. If hunting is your lifestyle, you could be the next Prois Award winner. If you live to hunt and hunt to live, you could be the next Prois Award winner. Whether you have hunted your entire life, or just recently picked up the sport, you could be the next Prois Award winner. This IS the award for the hardcore female hunter!

The recipient of the 2011 Prois Award winner will enjoy the Hunt of a lifetime for Elk, Mule Deer, Whitetail and Wolf in pristine Canadian Rocky Mountains with Savage Encounters. The winner will be accompanied on the hunt by Diana Rupp, Editor in Chief for Sports Afield magazine. In addition to this once in a lifetime hunt, the winner will receive an unrivaled gear package from Prois Hunting Apparel, Outdoor Connection Inc., Swarovski Optiks, Bowtech, Rip Cord, Black’s Creek, Bog Gear, Zamberlan Boots (MORE to come) The Prois Award winner will also be flown to the 2012 Archery Trade Association show in Columbus, OH and the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas for press conferences staged before premier outdoor writers, editors and corporate representatives.” Credit:

Outdoor Blogger Network is a one year old. It is amazing how much this online resource has grown over the last year. The OBN is an outstanding resource for finding some great outdoor blogs to follow and some outstanding reading and news resources. Take a minute to check it out…you might find some new favorites on there.

Click here: Outdoor Blogger Network

I am experiencing a guilty pleasure this morning as I set out on a trip to Western Kentucky to hunt the final weekend of the 2011 spring turkey season. Guilty because there are so many others who are facing hardships in the wake of the recent tornadoes, coined “April Fury”, that ripped through the South; some that are homeless and have no belongings left to their names. My heart aches for those people and communities and I vow not to forget them as I move forward with my life.

My prayers every morning include those families that have lost loved ones, homes and possessions in the recent tornadoes that hit the southeast; not only Alabama. I personally saw a small portion of the damage and aftermath while traveling back and forth to Mississippi when we had to pick Hank up from the dealer after servicing.

Although I did not see the mast devastation, I cannot get some of the visions out of my head. We returned to Mississippi 3 days after the storm, traveling on Interstate 359. The closer we drove toward Tuscaloosa, the worse it looked. Mature 30-40 year old pine trees were snapped in two like a toothpick. In some areas the leaves were stripped off trees; leaving an eerie, lifeless picture in the setting sun.

But one area we saw really put into perspective the actual force of the storm and what winds at that speed can do. We were approaching McFarland Avenue in Tuscaloosa, known as “Ground Zero”, and as we went under an overpass, I was absolutely speechless for a moment. Not a single structure was standing. Sheets of aluminum were twisted and thrown about. Wood boards were splintered and broken into many pieces. Paper, insulation and parts of building materials were laying around in heaps. There were two cars and an SUV that were crumpled together with the SUV upside down. There wasn’t a window left in any of the three vehicles. The material and foam stuffing from the seats of the upturned SUV were in shreds and visibly hanging down. The three vehicles had what looked like gray ash splattered all over them; the tires were no longer black but an eerie lifeless gray.

Right there amidst the pile, between the vehicles and the first pile of twisted wood and aluminum, was a portion of an irrigation rig from an agricultural field which apparently was caught in the middle of the tornado from several miles away and dropped here in the city. Wow!! It was almost surrealistic and had I seen it on television it would not have had near the depth of realism it had at that very moment. Although I had my camera in my hand, I could not pull my self out of the state I was in to even snap a picture…it almost seemed tabu to do so.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones and/or all their possessions. I know those that lost everything and even those that sustained mass damage from the storm will have a hard road ahead of them to rebuild their lives. As we go on with our normal lives, it is important that in their time of need that we as Christians, as moral human beings, and as mortal souls who could one day be in their position, pull together and help in any way possible. Please keep in mind that Alabama is definitely NOT the only state that was affected by these recent storms.

There are several sources out there where donations can be made and it is important to remember that ANY amount is important, regardless if it is $10 or $100. If you can and you have it in your heart, donate and keep the prayers coming. Here is a list of a few organizations but you can find several others searching online or in your church community.

American Red Cross
The Salvation Army
Feeding America
Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
Alabama Department of Public Health has a listing of volunteer needs on its website at
The Disaster Relief Ministry of the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions
The Mid-South District of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship “2011 Severe Storm Fund.”

Don’t you just LOVE surprises and being spontaneous?? What started out as a turkey hunting trip quickly turned into a beach vacation! You could not have had five happier people.

Two excited women hunters...memories made!

Now that all three of us had harvested our birds and one successfully on video, all in the first hour of hunting on our first morning hunt, we were left with decisions of what to do with the rest of the weekend. We decided to eat lunch with Dave at The Freezer, where we dined on boiled shrimp and baked Talapia topped with garlic sauce; which was absolutely divine.

Dave Mehlenbacher and Richard packing in the decoys....the hunt was over as quick as it started.

I know Richard was glad for a short hunt manning the camera. He was getting warm in long sleeves, thick pants and snake boots.

One idea was to FIRST and foremost–SLEEP. We were definitely sleep deprived with Greg having to drive over 10 hours to Alabama the prior day and then all of us leaving around 7 p.m. for a 6.5 hour drive (basically all night) after a long day at work, coupled with the fact that we lost an hour due to a time zone change. We couldn’t do that all weekend. Well it didn’t take but a few minutes to decide that we would take a much-needed nap. Several ideas were thrown out before the guys retired and then they left it up to Billinda and I to make the decision.

So Greg and Richard headed to bed while Billinda and I went outside to the back deck to lay on the deck for a nap. The accommodations that we were set up with at Woodland Guides Outdoors were so unique. The 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house was on the water with a cool nautical theme, including an INDOOR Coy pond, real ship port windows, a bar, a sun room, and a dock right out the back door.

There were so many neat things in the house like this Indoor Coy pond. In the background you can see the ship port window.

We didn’t sleep long before we were woke up by the sun. Billinda pointed out some big turtles in the water. Shortly before we started back into the house I spotted something odd in the water. I couldn’t quite make it out because it was about 80 yards down the slew. It finally made its way close to our dock and it resurfaced, slowly and descended back into the murky brackish water. I had no clue what I was looking at. The creature resurfaced again and this time there were two. Billinda quickly said, “Manatees!!” Two or three manatees were swimming in the slew. I had now seen my first wild manatees.

It was definitely a hot day but the light breeze made it comfortable.

Since the guys left it up to us to decide what to do, we decided we wanted to ride to Cape Coral and stay at Greg and Billinda’s condo, dine in some of their favorite places and make a trip to the beach. So we were packed, loaded and on our way further south.

This was my first trip to Cape Coral and I found it beautiful....the palms were magnificent.

We had such an enjoyable time in Cape Coral. We ate at some awesome places, walked the beach, watched dolphins, we even went to Bingo where three out of the four of us won…and Billinda won TWICE on her first time ever playing in a Bingo Hall.

Beach fun!! Richard taking a pic of Billinda and Nancy Jo.

The photo Richard took of Billinda and Nancy Jo.

We picked up some shells to put in a vase and ran across this little fellow.

Birds flying by from the dunes.

The Dolphin were feeding real close to the shore and at one point were within 10 yards of Billinda.

Afternoon snack at the condo before going to play BINGO...Billinda promised to make this for me if I ever came to visit.

We could not have asked for a better turkey hunting trip or weekend. It was so relaxing and sharing it with good friends was a true blessing and definitely for the fact that is was totally unexpected and spontaneous the joy was tenfold. A heartfelt thank you to Greg and Billinda for allowing us to share a little piece of their heaven in Cape Coral; the down time was surely needed and much appreciated.

Billinda sleeping on the way home. I think the weekend tuckered all of us out--she did kid around saying that she didn't think she was going to be able to hang; she did well.

Life in Camo 2011 Turkey Hunt!!

Was I really going to do this? Was I really going to change the oil in Clyde all by myself with nothing but a “How To” printed out in one hand and a 3/4 inch ratchet in the other?

I read the “How to Change the Oil in a Dodge Cummins Diesel Truck” about 3 times since I printed it off. Everything seemed really simply until I got to the part that explained to me that I had to “remove the turbo inlet hose/air filter cover. Take the screwdriver and loosen the band clamp at the turbo inlet. Unsnap the clips on the air filter cover and remove the complete assembly. Cover the turbo inlet with a clean rag.” Okay, finding the oil cap was not hard; it actually had OIL stamped in the top of it….but finding a “turbo-inlet-hose-air-filter-cover-thingy” was going to be a bit of a challenge.

Just what does an air filter thingy look like? Is it little? Is it big? Is it round? Is it square? This must have been what Larry of the Three Stooges felt like when he was mistaken for a doctor/surgeon and pushed into a room in the middle of surgery to take over. Hmmmm…..was this really a good idea?

As everything in life is slowly progressing toward the Age of Technology…it did not come as a surprise that my entire owner’s manual is on CD. Ummmm, I guess they assume that everyone carries a laptop in this day and age and if we break down on the side of the road, we just whip out our laptops and pop in the “not-so-convenient” CD in the CD/DVD drive to get some help. After perusing under the hood and looking at the CD, I found that turbo air filter thing-a-ma-bob.

I gathered all the necessary tools, a rag, a new oil filter, 3 gallons of oil and all the confidence I could muster up. Now it was time to get to work.

I gathered all my supplies to tackle and conquer this feat.

The first step was to get under the truck with a drain pan and remove the oil pan plug with a ratchet. Whew, was it tight up under there.

Definitely a tight fit and there are a lot of things underneath here.

Not only was it a tight squeeze…the drain plug was screwed in pretty tight. I really had to put a few grunts into it to get it loose. Once loose and unscrewed partially, the old black oil came out like it sprung a leak. There was no stopping it now.

I found the oil turning back now!

I found the oil turning back now!

Removing the plug...that thing was so tight.

Now I am up to my elbows in it. BOTH hands black with oil and I think I even got some on my face at this point.

After I removed the drain plug and the oil was draining well it was time to remove the old oil filter. This is where the instructions read to remove the “turbo-air-filter-intake-hose-thingy”. After looking at the engine with absolute bewilderment and finding what must be the “turbo-intake-filter-dooma-flitchy” the instructions where instructing to remove, I found an easier way to get to the oil filter. I decided to remove it from underneath.

Removing the old oil filter...another tight squeeze but much better from below than above.

Got it loose...

Don't spill it...don't spill it!!

I am slowly but surely accumulating oil in my hair on on my face...

Got the old oil filter I got to get back under there and put the new one on.

Putting oil on the O-ring of the new oil filter.

With the old oil filter removed and the new one installed, it was time to make sure that all the oil had drained out and to reinstall the plug.

Wiping the plug off before replacing it.

Checking to make sure all the oil has quit dripping from the oil pan into the bucket.

I still havent gotten too dirty, eh?

The plug was in place, the new filter was in place…now it was time to put the new oil in Clyde. I didn’t think to get a funnel while shopping for my supplies. I made a make-shift funnel by cutting the bottom of a water bottle off. I made sure to dry it very well before using it. It worked wonderfully.

Filling Clyde up with Rotella Synthetic 5W-40.

Wiping the oil cap off...I think I officially have more oil on me than in Clyde.

After replacing the oil, I wiped off the oil cap well and replaced it, then started the truck to let the oil circulate and to make sure that the oil pressure was at the correct level. Everything worked exactly as planned and the oil pressure was a perfect 42 psi. The dip stick showed the right amount of oil.

Everything is running like it is supposed to and the oil pressure is just right. Mission accomplished.

Checking the dip stick after letting the truck run a little.

I DID IT!!! I changed the oil in Clyde all by myself. It was not hard and although I must admit I had a as much oil on me as there was in Clyde when I got done, it was still a sweet victory. An oil change at the dealership for my truck with synthetic oil runs $158; I completed the job for $80 and I learned something new at the same time. My only problem, I just don’t know how in the world I am going to get the oil out from under my nails…I have already washed Hank, the dishes and took a shower using a nail brush on my fingernails. I won’t stress too much over it,,,,I am too ecstatic that I actually completed the task at hand.

I officially took a Cummins oil bath!! But I succeeded...I CHANGED CLYDE'S OIL!! Woo Hoo!

We had a wonderful time at the NWTF Convention in Nashville, Tennessee and meeting many of my Facebook friends in person was really neat. Perusing the floor for new products is always a favorite of mine. Several new products will be in my turkey product review line-up this spring on the Guru Huntress column in the Women’s Outdoor News; which by the way will be sporting a new look this summer. I am really excited about that.

Saturday was a productive day working the floor. I made the contacts that I had on my list at the show and the Commando Hunting Products booth was well represented with many of the Pro-staff and I was sure it would have just as many, if not more, on Sunday. With that in mind, we talked about going to the new Kentucky lease on Sunday morning to scout and check out the area for lodging and camper hook-ups for the upcoming season.

It would be a bonus on this trip to get to scout a little while we were so close; 116 miles from the property. Undecided, we tucked in early just in case we decided to make the trip to Kentucky in the morning. Sunday morning we finally got packed and both of us agreed we wanted to go to the Kentucky hunting lease.

What a beautiful day it turned out to be. On our trip over I scored a new critter. We drove over the Kentucky Lakes Bridge (Land Between the Lakes) and through the state park on our way to Dexter when I seen a beautiful sorrel color critter that had just been hit by a vehicle. I quickly told Richard, “Stop, stop!! What was that? I want it? Turn around and go back!” Richard rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t know what it is.” His curiosity is what talked him into turning around…definitely not my pleading. He never stops when I see a stray and I ask him to turn around. He just tells me that the animal has been rambling and is on its way home…but this one was dead; road kill to be exact.

We did stop, in the road because of a lack of space to park on the edge of the right of way and I guess this was Richards way of having an excuse to tell me “get in, a car is coming”. I jumped out and looked at this animal and I had NO CLUE what in the world I was looking at. Was it a Pine Martin? A Fisher? A Ferret? Or a Mink? I grabbed Crackie real quick and took a picture. I did not want to pick this thing up and have it in my possession if it was illegal to have it.

I quickly posted it on Facebook asking “WHAT is this??” I got some really quick replies…some pretty comical. Well, when it was all said and done, I was the new owner of a buck MINK!! Imagine that, a MINK!! I would have never dreamed in a million years I would own anything remotely related to a MINK.

Marley the Mink! What a cute little critter.

Once I knew for sure that it was okay to have this “road kill” in my possession, I grabbed a Wal-Mart bag out of the back seat of the truck and discarded all the items into the floor board. I scooped up the mink, making sure not to touch him. He was still warm and limber so he had not been dead long. Richard told me to put him in the truck bed and we would go up the road and park where we could inspect if it was in good shape or not.

We drove about a mile up the road and stopped at a convenience store to check the mink over and found it was in perfect condition. Richard told me I could keep it for mounting…I coined the Mink as “Marley.” I had gallon size zip lock bags in the truck so I tied a knot in the Wal-Mart bag that held Marley and put the entire bag into a zip lock bag and sealed it meticulously. Richard put a bag of ice in the cooler and I placed Marley on top of the ice, put the top back on the cooler and we were on the road again. I could not have been more ecstatic even if I had harvested Marley myself. Wow!! My first road kill harvest and it was a mink!!! A MINK!!

We had a great time scouting the hunting lease. This property holds everything you could imagine for wildlife. Plenty of cover, browse, creeks, swamps, hardwood bottoms and good green field locations. There were so many deer trails, some of them pretty well-traveled and beat down. I took a ton of pictures while scouting and put of few of them in a slide show below for anyone interested in viewing them.

Richard found a hawk carcass and I was amazed at the size of its talons. I found remnants of a rabbit in the way of fur…but I didn’t find a bunny tail. We saw rubs, scrapes, deer and turkey scat and even some turkey scratchings. Richard scouted until around 3 p.m. before we decided to travel back to Alabama.

I am looking forward to a little down time the next two weekends to get some things done that I have put off due to the lack of time to commit to them. I hope everyone is gearing up for turkey season….it will be here before we know it.

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I attended the Shot Show in Las Vegas, Nevada two weeks ago. WOW!! What a fast horse I rode while there. I was only going to be there for 2 short days and 3 nights. Before leaving, I had meticulously mapped out my plan of action. I combed the online map and located all the booths I had planned on visiting and reviewed the contact information for those I needed to meet in person.

Beautiful view of the mountains from our hotel room window.

I had a plan. I was organized. I had a color coded map in hand. I had downloaded the available smart phone program for the SHOT Show on Crackie. I could faintly hear the ROCKY theme in the back of my head. Nah-nah-naaaa, nah-nah-naaaa….nah-nah-nahhhhh…nah-nah-naaaa…nah-na-nah-nah-nah-nana

Well, I might as well had colored with marker in a coloring book…all the hard work and diligent study of the floor map went straight to the wind, in a flash. I feel like I covered about one-third of what I had hoped to. I don’t know how I got stuck in the tactical and gun area so long…leaving less time for the hunting area; which is where the bulk of my planned time was supposed to be.

Blaser gun combo--absolutely beautiful gun with two barrel options.

Blaser gun combo--I was really liking this one.

My thinking was get the few booths in the tactical area covered and I would have a day and a half for the hunting and outdoor area. Well, so much for plans. So much for lists…and so much for that program I so diligently combed through to make my 2 days at the show productive.

Getting Instructions from Sheldon about the 4 different type Wildgame Innovations camera systems.

I felt like the time I had available there was over before it really got started. All was not wasted though, I did get to meet some of my Facebook friends in person. I was able to spend some time with my Commando Team Mates. I was able to get some vital contact information on some of my hardest companies to contact.

I was re-acquainted with one of my original marketing representatives that I really enjoyed working with. I did get to cover some ground and see some new products.

Janette Palmer and I. I am so glad that we were reunited. She was one of the first reps I spoke with at my first Shot nice.

And, last but not least, I was able to see The Phantom of the Opera with Richard and Tommie Lea. WHAT A MAGNIFICENT PLAY IT WAS!!

Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian.

The play was absolutely amazing. Before the curtains were ever called, Richard leaned forward and looked at Tommie Lea and I and said “Well, Country comes to the Opera.” It was hilarious hearing him say that in his heavy southern accent!! All three of us were in awe during the entire play. It was absolutely perfect and what made matters even better is that we bought seats that were about 30 rows back from the stage on the left hand side of the theater.

As we were sitting down and settling in, an usher came up to us and asked to see our tickets. She asked if there were only 3 of us in our party and we answered affirmatively. She made a call on her walkie-talkie and then looked at us and said “We are going to move you to closer seating.” No argument from us. As we started down toward the front of the theater, we were shocked when she put us in the 10th row, dead center to the stage. Woo Hoo!! The high dollar seats!! You would have thought we had just won a bundle on the slot machines. We were giddy and high from our stroke of luck.

After the play was over and we were walking out of the theater, Richard looked over at Tommie Lea and I and said, “We’ve got culture now.” Too funny!! The play was phenomenal and I was happy we opted for that versus the other options we were looking at. I don’t feel any different with culture…and country did go to the opera…but I am still the same person.

Richard and I played the slot machines a little bit, but there really was too much we wanted to see. We walked the streets and watched the Sirens of Treasure Island, which was really fun. I even ate a $17 buffalo burger at I Love Burgers.

Let the games begin...

Las Vegas...this is as close as I got to the original Las Vegas sign.

Sirens of Treasure Island Show was really fun. Brrrr....I know that water was very cold and it was chilly outside.

I had a buffalo burger at I Love Burgers...It was pretty tasty.

There were beautiful waterfalls and fountains everywhere.

The one thing I wanted to do before I left Las Vegas was to see Freemont Street and the old area of Las Vegas. It is true that the new area held all the new technology, refined architecture, finer shopping stores, ritzy high-priced restaurants, busy streets, walk-overs and you can’t forget the free side-walk show “Sirens of Treasure Island,” which was fantastic by the way. But Freemont Street has history!! And the makeovers were not to shabby either. What a show we had for the couple of hours we were there. Street performers, impersonators, folks dressed up in very bizarre outfits, singers, and of course the light show in the ceiling…what a place!!

We just got out of the cab on Freemont Street. Pic courtesy of Tommie Lea Clanton.

Richard on Freemont Street

The Famous Golden Nugget

The Golden Gate Casino

Glitter Gulch Casino

Freemont Street Marquees....

The 4 Queens Casino

Binion's Casino

The jumbo-tron ceiling and speaker system over the streets were amazing. The light show was like nothing I had ever seen. They played Queen, We Will Rock You. It was outstanding.

Queen, We Will Rock You on the Jumbo-tron over the streets

Amazing light show over the streets of the historical part of Las Vegas

Jumbotron light and light show on Freemont street. This was in the pavillion-style roof over the streets

Our last evening, I walked around the hotel Palazzo and took a few pictures. One of the photos that I wanted to share with you was on the second floor where there was an indoor atrium. The ceiling had been painted like a beautiful bluebird sky, with fluffy white clouds and natural lighting that made you feel as if you were actually outdoors. There was a small man-made concrete river with gondolas that went up and down the river. Each of the gondoliers (person propelling the gondola) were singing beautiful songs to their passengers.

Ceiling in the atrium

Painted ceiling in the atrium. Absolutely incredible.

This ceiling in the hotel was absolutely the coolest painting I have ever seen. So lifelike and the lighting made you feel as if you were outdoors.

Gondolier singing to his was amazing how beautiful they sung.

How sweet....

There were shops and restaurants along the atrium and a mini stage set up for street performers. It was the neatest environment, but the photos do it no justice.

Street performance in the atrium.

All in all, I had a wonderful time attending my second Shot Show. I saw many new items, met more friends in the industry and made some great new contacts. All that and I was able to gamble a little, see a new city, and get a little culture all in one trip–what more could one ask for other than meat for the freezer. 🙂

Next year, YES, next year…I am going to stay the entire show and I will be bound and determined to get all of my “To Do” list completed.

Richard getting his last fix before we board the plane in Las Vegas.

I received a private message through Facebook today that has weighed on my mind all day. The person questioned me “at what point does a hunter become a trophy hunter”; which was a direct remark to my Iowa blog entry where I stated that I let “two nice shooter bucks walk”. This by no means meant that I consider myself “per se” a trophy hunter in the meaning of the word. I simply choose to let 2 to 3 1/2-year-old bucks walk at my discretion. I believe in the practice of QDM & hold myself accountable for every decision I make in the field.

Two of the three bucks that came across the adjacent hill we were watching over.

What a hunter does behind their own gun trigger or release is their decision to make–I don’t feel that another should scrutinize that decision. I would not dare make remarks about the many harvested spike bucks and 4 points that this person has in their Facebook albums nor do I feel that I need to defend myself to their remark of “how stupid, I would have SMOKED him”….their beliefs and actions are theirs alone.

The untouchables....I have watched these two yearlings (shown here 20 yards from my back deck) grow in my back yard. One day, yes--with patience and a little luck--they too will be wall hangers.

It was once said by an unknown poet “beauty {a trophy} is in the eye of the beholder.” The hunter, and only the hunter, in the moments before the trigger is pulled or the releas is squeezed is liable for that decision. I am proud, and always will be, to say that every hunt I have participated in and every shot that I have placed has been in the highest ethical standard that I believe in, not the principles and beliefs of someone else. You, as the hunter, make those decisions alone. Hunt hard, harvest ethically and may your drag be short. ~Nancy Jo

I have always believed that if one sows good seeds, they shall reap bountiful harvests. The good Lord has blessed me with the wisdom to avoid spoiled seeds and the desire to seek fertile soil. ~Nancy Jo

Looking back on my year in review, I am grateful for so many blessings. I was truly privileged this year in meeting wonderful new friends and partaking in some great hunts and attending some good trade shows. I was fortunate enough to achieve personal goals; yet humbled by the experience. God’s opportunities often come by disguise; even a gain is often derived by failure but always an epiphany of success.

What more could a hunter ask for: the most amazing hunt, the perfect trophy game animal, an ethical fatal shot...Life is Good!

Since I started this journey, I have been fortunate enough to encounter new experiences with each season. I hunted duck with a group of women in Arkansas and harvested my first duck with Mark Passmore of Buster Duck Outfitter. I was able to share the excitement as other women harvested their first ducks, as well.

First Duck hunt January 2010 with Buster Duck Outfitter, Arkansas

My first big game harvest of the year remains dear to me; being able to share it with a great group of women, building new lifetime friendships and making memories that will long be remembered. With Richard in the stand with me, I was fortunate in sharing my first wild hog harvest with him at Bubba’s Deer Camp in Liberty, Mississippi. Mentors like Ken “Bubba” Ledbetter who gives, without reservation, of all their wisdom and resources are encouraging and have been a vital part of my success in this journey; for these incredible mentors I am grateful.

Annual Hog Hunt at Bubba's Deer Camp, Liberty, Mississippi in March 2010 (Ken "Bubba" Ledbetter in the photo)

My turkey season started off with a goal to achieve my Turkey Grand Slam…a quest that I started last season but lacked a Merriam’s harvest in reaching that goal. I set out with determination and met some obstacles in Montana. My perseverance reigned in achieving my Turkey Grand Slam. On that trip, I was humbled by the graciousness of meeting some of the most genuine souls; lifetime friends resulted from this experience.

Merriam Turkey Harvest April 2010, Roy, Montana. This bird completed my Grand Slam.

Richard and I were fortunate in the opportunity to get an Eastern turkey harvest on film making the last-minute decision to lease some turkey land in our home state worth the investment. This was Richard’s first successful filmed harvest and it helped in kindling a desire to be behind the camera.

Eastern Turkey Harvest, April 2010, Southeast Alabama

A last-minute decision and an open weekend found us in Florida hunting Osceola turkeys with Billy Henderson of Deep South Outfitter. Luck is when perseverance meets opportunity—both of which united perfectly, tossing luck my way in harvesting a bird I coined “Old Rattle Box” from my previous season; the vendetta was laid to rest.

Osceola Turkey, April 2010 with Deep South Outfitter, Homosassa Springs, Florida

My personal hunt of a lifetime is something that still brings tears of joy to my eyes to tell the story–my archery black bear hunt with Gary Tank of Big Paws Outfitter in Orr, Minnesota. A bow hunt that I determined myself to do when the thought crossed my mind at a 3-D archery competition my third month of shooting a bow.

My bear hunt played out like a fairy tale from a storybook; the lodge, the scenery, the weather, the outfitter, the group of women that I shared the hunt with, and most important–the harvest. I was so fortunate on my second day of hunting to have a nice healthy bear walk in, turn, and pause at the precise moment that I came to full draw and released a perfect shot. Definitely an intense and emotional few moments as I stood on the platform of my stand, shaking and crying emotionally as I had the privilege of hearing the much-anticipated death moans of that magnificent creature. The memory of that afternoon in the stand will always bring me chills and a certain level of contentment clean to the core of my being.

Black bear bow harvest September 2010 with Big Paws Outfitter, Orr, Minnesota

From nearly the border of Canada to the middle of Florida within a week put me on Lake Hancock in the pitch black of night, spotlighting alligator with Chuck Echenique of Rebel Yelp Outfitters. A different style of hunting than I have ever done; nearly 9 hours of floating the black waters spotlighting for a decent size gator for 15 minutes of excitement. What a rush those 15 minutes were in landing my first alligator.

Alligator harvest in September 2010 with Rebel Yelp Outfitter, Lake Hancock, Florida

Our annual Kansas hunting trip has always been special for Richard and I and this year was no different. The weather was much milder and the deer sightings were less than the previous years. Ironically, I harvested my second Pope and Young buck from the same stand that I harvested my first P&Y the previous season. A bittersweet hunt that definitely helped me grow as a bowhunter. An added bonus of this year’s hunt was that Richard not only had the opportunity of being in the same stand, he captured the entire hunt on film.

Whitetail Buck bow harvest in November 2010 in Northwest Kansas

I took the opportunity of attending some great trade shows, meeting some wonderful people and making some awesome connections. I have had the privilege of being a part of Women’s Outdoor News and I am thankful for not only the encouragement, but also for the trust expressed and shown to me by the publisher, Barbara Baird. I am grateful for the surprising number of faithful followers to my personal blog, Shenanigans From the Field.

I have shared camp with several really special women hunters, traveled with some awesome ladies, shared stands and blinds with Richard and/or others, spent time behind the camera with new friends, engaged in many hunting stories, laughed until my sides hurt and even cried at times. I was graced with meeting some outstanding outfitters like Richard Sprayberry of Mountain View Plantation and Bubba & Wiley Dees of Wiley’s Outdoor Adventures who shared their time and resources with me. For these things I am truly grateful and honored.

Yes, 2010 has been a grand and prosperous year for me in so many ways. After countless days away from home, many nights in hotels, lodges or camp houses, numerous hours on planes, 50,000 plus miles put on Clyde (my Dodge Truck), and several hundred hours on the hunt–I am not only grateful for the opportunities, the blessings, the financial means, the health and the trust I have gained and/or received from others, I am humbled by the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

Although Richard and I have given up many things for the time and finances to pursue this journey, we are content and overwhelmed by the joy we receive from it. Richard is a vital part of my success and the shared joy of the journey. From his unselfishness of laying down his weapons and picking up the video camera, being my work horse to putting up with my hardheadedness or just being there in the stand behind the camera with me to share in the hunt–for this I am indebted and to him, truly thankful. I am truly grateful to those that have made this journey a special one and would like to extend my heartfelt thank you to each and every one who has touched my life in one way or another.

Next week it starts over, Richard and I will start logging miles and hours toward a new year with a late season muzzleloader hunt in Iowa with Lynn Buswell of Jagermister Outfitters. I look forward to a new year of new adventures, meeting and hunting with new friends, hunting with my old friends, new business acquaintances and to the launch of several new projects. The good Lord willing and with a little luck, many opportunities and a lot of perseverance–I hope that 2011 will be just as grand and prosperous as our 2010.

Always focus on the journey, not the destination. The JOURNEY is the REWARD.

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Ladies…Enter for a chance to win some SHE Outdoor C2 hunting apparel. Good luck to those who enter.


Yesterday I was visiting on the phone with a hunting friend, Matt Woodbury from Team D.I.R.T. Something he said brought back a memory that I want to share with my blog followers.

Matt was telling me about his return home from a successful turkey hunt last season. He told me how his wife was disappointed that the turkey was already in the freezer when she got home to meet him. However, not the same exact scenario that I experienced, but it brought the memory flooding back nonetheless.

Four short years ago, when I was “the hunter’s wife”, I remember Richard coming home one afternoon with a Snipe that he had shot. He brought it home excited to show me how odd the bird was with its 3 plus inch beak and speckled feathers. Of course I just looked at it and thought “what an odd bird.”

Richard asked me to get a Zip lock bag from the cabinet as he was pulling a paper towel from the roll on the countertop dispenser. As usual I was telling him “Don’t touch anything, I will get it.” I did not want expired bird germs on anything in my kitchen.

I watched as Richard carefully rolled the paper towel around the Snipe. Then he placed the bird wrapped in the towel into the Zip lock bag. He walked into the laundry room and asked me to open the deep freeze.

It was at that moment that I realized he was about to put THAT dead bird in our freezer. You have got to be kidding me? The prior season, I pitched the biggest fit when he put a very well wrapped and sealed tarsal gland from a buck in the freezer which, by the way, promptly got thrown out. NO WAY was I going to let him put this whole, dead, Snipe bird in our freezer. What was he thinking?

He explained to me that he wanted to save the bird to have it mounted with a bobcat or with some other critter. The whole time I was standing there, arms folded across my chest, shaking my head NO!

“You are NOT putting THAT dead bird in MY freezer. (Notice how a freezer that was once OURS all of the sudden turned into MINE?)

He said, “there is nothing but dead animal in there now….deer, turkey, fish….”

“Nope, it is not the same”, I said. “That meat doesn’t have feathers, legs, little feet or a beak.”

“It is wrapped up and sealed.” Richard pleaded.

“This isn’t going to happen. No way!” I said adamantly. If you put that bird in that freezer, I am not eating a single thing out of that freezer. No, I am not!!

Richard grabbed a plastic WalMart bag and wrapped the bird one more time.

“Look! I will put it in the door, nowhere near the other stuff in the freezer.” He said, trying to sound pleasing.

I shook my head and said “No!”.

He said, “Open the door and let me look.”

I opened the door.

He found an empty shelf in the door at the very bottom that did not have anything on it.

After much persuasion, the Snipe lived on that bottom shelf until Richard killed a bobcat the next season and both the bobcat and the Snipe went to the taxidermist.

WOW!! How things change!!

Shortly after that bobcat got mounted, I started hunting with Richard. The first year all of our harvest went to the processor just up the road and my first turkey was not mounted–no need for storing anything in the freezer.

The second year, I had no problem with placing my turkey tail and legs into that freezer on its very own shelf for a future trip to the taxidermist. Matter of fact, I was kind of proud placing the mountable parts and the edible parts in the freezer…I was bringing home the bacon, so to speak.

I laughed as I told Matt that as adamant as I was about that little Snipe NOT going into MY freezer, how ironic it is that when I open the door now, I find 9 turkey tails, 9 sets of turkey legs complete with spurs, three full feathered turkey wings, two ducks, a red fox squirrel, a silver and black fox squirrel, a rooster quail, a set of pheasant legs with double spurs, a bag of pheasant feathers, a barracuda head and I am sure that there is a bagged rattlesnake somewhere in there.

Yes, isn’t it ironic how things change!!

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