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A beautiful double rainbow over Double Deuce Ranch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mister: “Hello.”

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

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


Mister: “No way!”

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

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

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

Mister: “Good! I am excited for you.”

Me: “I have to text Ben.”

Mister: “Keep me updated.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Mike Helbing’s beautiful Grizzly Bear harvested in Alaska.


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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest post by Rebecca Gicewicz

IMG_7584My Nebraska hunt with The Roost was a fantastic adventure with great friends. The hunting was physical, involving covering lots of ground and enjoying the unique scenery. The style of hunting was new to me as I am a fledgling turkey hunter. I did my best to keep up with our 6 foot 6-inch guide and his long, swift legs. My companions were good at coaching me a bit to keep me on track and improve my odds of harvesting.

On our second day of hunting our other two hunting companions were tagged out and it was up to Nancy Jo and I to close the deal. It was my turn to step into the batters box and we saw at least two toms in a field along the Middle Loup River. When we got into position the guide frantically whispered that TWO LONG BEARDS were coming in hot. Nancy Jo looked at me asked, “Do you want to try for a double.” I didn’t need time to contemplate that question, the answer was, “Let’s do this!”

MirriamsIn an instant, the gobblers were in view and Nancy Jo asked me if I was ready? I said, “YES!” Nancy Jo fired and I shot a second later. Her aim was true and mine not so much. I had a follow-up shot opportunity, but it was strike number two. There would not be a strike three as my gun jammed. Too much crawling through the dirt, I suspect.

So my hunting buddy harvested herself a beautiful Merriam’s turkey! I was happy for her but felt like I had let the guide, the cameraman, and my hunting partner down. I wanted that double! So with mixed emotions of celebration for my friend and frustration at myself I took a few minutes to regain my perspective and composure. Once all those emotions were sorted out I was ready to be up to bat again!

We went to a new spot and called in a few jakes who were ready to brawl. It was awesome to see their displays! Our next spot was a cut corn field that had four toms and two jakes. The stalk was on! Nancy Jo stayed at the truck while, guide Dustin aka Dirt, cameraman Richard aka Mister and hunter Rebecca aka Slugger went creepin’. We set up and the turkeys weren’t visible. Dirt called and finally a few gobbles cut loose and he whispered,  “Here they come.” My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking but I was ready for the fast pitch. The red heads crested over the berm and they were running into the decoy.

Two were Rios and one was a Merriam’s and Dirt desperately whispered, “The middle one, the middle one!” At about 20-yards, there was enough separation between the trio for a clear shot and I hit it out of the park. Woohoo!


The other two turkey never skipped a beat they were looking to beat up on the tom that dared to encroach on their territory. They finally eased off and I was able to check out my bird. I was thrilled to be able to take in the beauty of that Merriam’s Tom. The intricacies of the feathers, the iridescence of its coloring. Being able to convert my swing and a miss into a single felt good!

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.

FullSizeRenderFor me, this hasn’t been a very successful turkey season. With spending the least amount of time ever spent spring turkey hunting in the woods, my lack of success was to be expected. As I scroll through social media and see all the successful harvests at each of the outfitters that we are traveling more than 15 hours to hunt with, I have high hopes that my luck will change at the two Ladies in Camo turkey hunts we are about to spend the next seven days hunting. Six ladies from four different states are converging upon Misty Morning Outfitters in Kansas to hunt Rio Grand turkey, and four are traveling on to The Roost in Nebraska to hunt Merriam’s turkey.



Rebecca’s 1st turkey harvest! Photo Credit: Rebecca Gicewicz


Rebecca, from Florida, is traveling with us…asleep in the back seat of Cletus as I type this entry. Marla and her friend are traveling together from Illinois. Sherry and Connie are traveling together from Michigan. None of us “NEW” to turkey hunting, however, this is Connie’s first guided outfitter hunt; this will be Rebecca’s 2nd and 3rd bird and species as she recently harvested her first turkey, an Eastern in Alabama; Marla and her friend were just in the woods turkey hunting this past weekend.

I have been fortunate enough to have hunted some place at a point in time with each of these women, except Connie. I am looking forward to gaining a new hunting friend. It has been nearly eight years since I have hunted with Sherry, who attended my very first hunt I organized. It has been nearly four years since I have hunted with Marla and just last September that I hunted with Rebecca. I feel blessed to be able to call these ladies friends.

My plan is to share as much of this hunt with all of my blog followers and subscribers, as well as my social media friends and followers. I will post some contributed blog entries and photos from the ladies attending this hunt if they wish to contribute. Look for stories of our travels, our good times at the lodge, photos and tales from the hunt, and of course, all the shenanigans. Check out the Ladies in Camo and Life in Camo Facebook page, search the hashtags #LICMMO16 and #LICTheRoost16 in social media to keep up with posts from the Ladies in Camo Kansas and Nebraska turkey hunts.

2015 Wilcox CountyAs we are rolling through north central Oklahoma, crossing over into Kansas, with just two more hours of travel, my mind is already on the turkey hunt…wishing these ladies the best of luck in the coming days.

I hope we ALL have the opportunity to “dance with a fist full of feathers!”

GAMO Outdoor USA partnered with Buckmasters in hosting the first annual Squirrel Master Classic in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 19-20, 2014, which paired together top hunting celebrities with Gamo executives or distributors, media, and 4-H youth participants. The hunting event, which was comprised of six by invitation only teams, was held at the Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge that sits on 6,000 acres nestled in Lowndes and Dallas County.

Team members Noah Clark, Travis “T-Bone” Turner and Nancy Jo Adams of Team Bone Collector II on Wednesday night before the hunt. Photo: Life in Camo

Team members Noah Clark, Travis “T-Bone” Turner and Nancy Jo Adams of Team Bone Collector II on Wednesday night before the hunt. Photo: Life in Camo

Each team included two hunting industry celebrities, a GAMO executive or distributor, a media/press personnel, a 4-H youth hunter, a guide, a cameraman, and a dog handler. The teams included Team Buckmasters led by Jackie Bushman, Team Bone Collector let by Michael Waddell and Nick Mundt, Team Bone Collector II led by Travis “T-Bone” Turner and Edmond Waddell, Team High Road led by Keith Warren, Team Addicted to the Outdoors led by John and Gina Brunson, and Team MRA Hunting led by Shawn Michaels and Keith Mark. I was placed on Team Bone Collector II and knew immediately, with T-Bone on my team, we were in for some fun hunting. Jim Mason of Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge was our guide for the hunt; we had an advantage of a guide who knew the land well.

Every hunter on each team was issued a GAMO’s Whisper Fusion Pro air rifle in .177 caliber with one hunter on each team issued the same model in .22 caliber. The single shot, break-barrel GAMO Whisper Fusion Pro air rifle has an amazingly quiet shot at 1400 fps (PBA Platinum) with a 3.74-pound Smooth Action Trigger (SAT) with a manual safety. Mounted on the air rifle was a 3-9x40mm GAMO scope. My first concern was being able to cock the air rifle with the rated 41 pound cocking effort. That concern quickly vanished after I adapted my own style of break-barrel cocking. The air rifle measures 43” with 18” of barrel and weighes in at 8 pounds making it very manageable during the hunt and perfect for small game and varmint hunting.

GAMO Whisper Fusion Pro .177 air rifle with a GAMO 3-9x40mm scope. MSRP $329.95 Photo: GAMO Outdoor USA

GAMO Whisper Fusion Pro .177 air rifle with a GAMO 3-9x40mm scope. MSRP $329.95 Photo: GAMO Outdoor USA

Fedor Palacios and Jeff Roll from GAMO Outdoors USA were an amazing wealth of information about the GAMO products; answering the many questions I had about the air rifle, the GAMO scope, and the various type of ammo that was available for us to shoot while at the event. Jeff Roll shared new generalized products and products ideal for youth and women, and he provided extremely helpful tips and suggestions for using the GAMO Whisper Fusion Pro to improve my marksmanship.

Immediately after the GAMO air rifles were issued along with a SWAG bag and ammo, many of us made our way to the practice range to sight in our rifles. After all, this was a competition and a hunter is only as accurate as their precisely tuned weapon. I had the opportunity to share the range with several of the 4-H youth hunters and was extremely impressed with their shooting skills and range etiquette. After a few shots, it was apparent I would need to move the sight on my rifle a little to zero it in. I found the GAMO scope easy to adjust, and in no time I was able to quickly adapt to the break-barrel loading. I shot the air rifle about a dozen times mostly for the experience of shooting it. With this model’s patented double integrated noise dampening technology, the air rifle was so quiet that hearing protection was not necessary on the practice range or the hunt. This also gave the hunter an advantage because the shot was nearly undetectable to the game being pursued. I got dialed in quickly which freed me up to spend the rest of the evening getting to know my teammates.

squirrel master classic, hunting, gamo, alabama Enjoying breakfast before departing for the morning hunt. Photo: Life in Camo

squirrel master classic, hunting, gamo, alabama
Enjoying breakfast before departing for the morning hunt. Photo: Life in Camo

The entire group enjoyed a wonderful southern-style meal of fried chicken, creamed potatoes and gravy, seasoned baby limas, cornbread and southern sweet tea. Shortly after supper, each individual team grouped together and started strategizing for the hunt. As would be expected, it didn’t take long for the “smack-talk” to roll across the room with many laughs and good fellowship shared before it was time to call it a night in anticipation of the hunt the next morning.

The teams woke to a country-style breakfast with sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, grits, biscuits, orange juice, and coffee. The rules were covered with the group and we all gathered our gear and climbed into vehicles to go to our designated hunting areas. We had a 3-hour time limit on the morning hunt where each squirrel would count as a point and a fox squirrel would count as two points, with a limit of only one harvest on fox squirrel per team. In the case of a tie, the most weight determined the lead.




Mo, doing his job! Photo: Life in Camo

Mo, doing his job! Photo: Life in Camo the base of a tree–the hunt was on!

Butch Morton brought two of his champion squirrel dogs, Mo and Mexico, to tree squirrels for us. Both dogs were equipped with Garmin collars for safety. Butch swapped out the two dogs on each stop at a new location and both dogs did a fantastic job on both of our hunts. The morning started off slow and finally about 30 minutes into the hunt, Mo started barking at the base of a tree–the hunt was on!

The dog handlers and their champion squirrel dogs. Photo: Life in Camo

The dog handlers and their champion squirrel dogs. Photo: Life in Camo









Ken Piper of Buckmasters put the first squirrel in the bag by making a perfect shot on a squirrel sending it to the ground for retrieval. I was fortunate to put the next two squirrels in the bag and then Travis “T-Bone” Turner put a squirrel in the bag followed by Edmund Waddell. Right before time was called, Mo treed a fox squirrel. Our team ended up with a morning count of 5 squirrels and a fox squirrel for a total of 7 points.

Nancy Jo Adams with her FIRST squirrel. Photo: Life in Camo

Nancy Jo Adams with her FIRST squirrel. Photo: Life in Camo

Team Bone Collector II’s 7 points was not enough to put us in the lead, but we did break a tie for 3rd place by weight. At the noon weigh-in the standings were Team Bone Collector in the lead with 14 points, Team Buckmasters with 9 points, Team Bone Collector II with 7 points (8.125 lbs), Team MRA with 7 points (8 lbs), Team Addicted to the Outdoors with 5, and Team High Road with 1. Team Bone Collector had an impressive lead…but could they keep it? Smack-talk ensued and carried on through lunch where we dined on BBQ pulled pork, baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. The lunch break flew by and we all found ourselves riding back out to the woods.

Kelley Hartley with the FIRST squirrel of the afternoon hunt. Great shooting. Photo: Life in Camo

Kelley Hartley with the FIRST squirrel of the afternoon hunt. Great shooting. Photo: Life in Camo

The three-hour afternoon hunt started off with Kelley Hartley of Buckmasters bagging the first squirrel of the afternoon. The dogs worked hard, treed some squirrels for us, and a few got away by getting into holes in the tree. One wily squirrel hit the ground, and I am pretty sure it’s probably still running cross country. We bagged a total of 4 squirrels on the afternoon hunt.

When we returned to the lodge for weigh-in, it was obvious that our afternoon harvest was not going to keep us in 3rd place; however, we held onto a good solid 4th place. Team Buckmasters weighed in an amazing 28 squirrels plus one fox squirrel to take the win with 39 points. Team Bone Collector had a great afternoon hunt weighing in 12 squirrels to take 2nd place, followed by Team MRA with 12 points, Team Bone Collector II with 11 points, Team Addicted to the Outdoors with 8 points, and Team High Road with 2 points.

Weigh-in was followed by dinner of bacon wrapped pork loin, baked potato, green beans, black-eyed peas, salad, dinner rolls, vanilla cake, and sweet tea. After dinner there was an awards presentation and closing ceremony. Lou Riley from Gamo shared news about several new air rifle models that GAMO is preparing to release, and Jackie Bushman awarded the winning team with the coveted wooden squirrel trophy. The winning team of the 1st Annual Buckmasters-GAMO Squirrel Master Classic is Team Buckmasters.

AND THE WINNER IS…Team Buckmasters. Jackie Bushman (Buckmasters), Callie Littlefield (4-H), Lou Riley (GAMO), Ronnie O’Neal (Dog Handler), Jim Shepard (Media), Adam Heggenstalker (NRA), and Jacob Landry (Swamp People) with the coveted wooden squirrel trophy. Photo: Life in Camo

Squirrel-Master-ClassicI feel extremely fortunate I was invited to participate in this hunt. Not only was I able to experience my first squirrel hunt, I was able to field test the GAMO Whisper Fusion Pro air rifle while hunting with some of the industries top hunters and making new friends all the while. Watching the squirrel dogs work is something I enjoyed as much as shooting the GAMO air rifle. I have a feeling that there will be a bounty on some squirrels and small game in my backyard now – I am thankful that I live out in the country!

Watch for the GAMO Outdoor USA-Buckmasters Squirrel Master Classic coming to you on television this spring. If you are looking for a great small game air rifle or an air rifle you can use for plinking on the range or perfecting your shot, GAMO Outdoor USA has a model to meet your need.

Gamo Outdoor USA is a leading consumer product company that designs, manufactures, and markets a diverse portfolio of outdoor sporting goods products under such world-class brands as GAMO, BSA Optics, Laser Genetics, Aftermath, and Stunt Studios, and it is the exclusive distributor of BSA Guns. For more information visit,,, and

GAMO Outdoor USA logo is the sole property of its rightful owner and used within this writing solely for the promotion of products herein as requested by the product’s manufacturer.

Endorsement Disclosure: Per guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the products reviewed in these product reviews is an endorsement and the writer may have been compensated by “in-kind” payment to review the product.

In preparing to head out to the turkey woods in the morning, I figured it was time to get my vest out and give it a once over to make sure it was packed and ready. I purchased my Limbhanger turkey vest by Russell Outdoors in Mossy Oak Obsession over 4 years ago and it is still in tack and in fairly good condition; even though it has traveled to over 6 different states and has been through rain, mud, brush, briars and spent time riding in the front of Hank the HuntVe or in the floorboard of my truck.

My turkey vest is pretty much like my purse….pretty heavy, but organized. OKAY!! Maybe it doesn’t look organized but there is a place for everything and everything is “usually” in its place. I thought about weighing it, but I would put my money on 13 pounds; EASY.

Three things you will ALWAYS find in my turkey vest: ESP, ThermaCELL & Winchester Premium Xtended Range ammo.

I thought it would be neat to share what I prefer in my turkey vest and maybe see what you have in yours. Here is what you will find in my turkey vest, starting with the left side of my vest:

Left side interior pocket:
ESP Ear Protection
License sleeve with mini pen
Lucky rabbit tail
Small retractable measuring tape
Leupold Range Finder
Knotty Huntress Turkey Lariat complete w/zip lock bag & rubberband

Left side exterior pocket:
A pouch of various mouth calls
A call sweetener
Two Slate Calls
Crow call
A small can of bug spray in my box call pouch


Back pouch:
Gobble tube
shooting stick
small bottle of water
a turkey hen decoy or Little Runt
turkey stool
A limb saw/caliper clippers in a pouch
a turkey feather or three

Right side interior pocket:
6-3.5 #5s
1-2 3/4 #7s
hat brim light
pair of gloves & extra pair of gloves
a mask & an extra mask
Several folded sheets of paper towels
small bottle of sanitizer

Right side exterior:
3 different strikers
small patch of sand paper
small patch of scrub fiber
Mini Mag Light

Yep, 13 pounds of “Pure Prepared”…. Care to share what you prefer in your vest? Good luck to you this season–I hope you dance!

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.

Ladies Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors: Back row (L-R) Amber Markley, Shannon Markley, Charmen McAlpine, Michele Branning, Jennifer McKinney. Front Row (L-R) Cameryn Melton, Andrea Main, Nancy Jo Adams, and Michelle Harmes.

I had a hard time going to sleep Sunday night because my mind was still reeling over the happenings of the weekend. Eight women converged on the properties of Rack Nine Outdoors to hunt hogs. Over the last 2 months I have had the opportunity to scout and hunt hogs on this property and was even fortunate enough to remove two from the property with the chance to shoot several more.

The hog movement was a different story this past weekend; even after Terry Garrett of Rack Nine Outdoors spent an entire week scouting and shifting stands into areas with the most sign. A hog was not harvested this past weekend among these 8 hunters but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a grand time.

Friday started off with a dinner of baked wild hog in a homemade BBQ style sauce, Macaroni & Cheese, potatoes in garlic sauce, cream corn, rolls and a special treat of Jennifer McKinney’s homemade potato salad—with a KICK!! Shannon and Amber Markley brought a delicious homemade pound cake that Shannon’s mother made fresh on Friday. Needless to say, the cake did not last long at all…

What was left of the Pound Cake Shannon Markley's mother made for us on Friday.

After dinner, the ladies changed, grabbed their gear and were ready to head to their stands for their first afternoon hunt. The ladies were broken up into 3 groups and taken to their stands in 3 different vehicles. I was supposed to sit with Cameryn Melton but she was not arriving until late so I stayed at the lodge to greet them. Shortly after Doug, one of the guides returned to the lodge from dropping his group off, he noticed some hogs coming out of the cornfield and going down the road toward for the woods. He first counted 6 but by the time I raised the binoculars and looked, there were over a dozen. This made me really excited for the ladies on stand.

When it got dark the guides started getting a few texts for pick-ups but some ladies stayed out several hours after dark. There wasn’t much hog action at all on this evenings hunt. Some ladies could hear hogs and some even seen deer. I went out with Doug, one of the guides to pick up Charmen McAlpine. It was a fun ride out there and it made me want to be in the woods.

Who said a LADY can't be a LADY in the field...Charmen McAlpine sporting her manicured nails.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m.several women retired to their rooms, a couple ladies and myself were talking about how the full moon amplified the fields and how we should be out there hunting. I looked at the group and asked, “You want to?” A smile crept over their faces and one asked, “Can we?” I said, “Shoot yeah! We can ride around the road system and check fields.” Then one asked, “How? How are we going to get out there?” I looked at them and smiled and said, “Hank the HuntVe.”

I got up from the couch quickly and said, “Grab your guns and let’s go.” Michele B, Michelle H and Shannon hustled to their rooms to grab their guns then to the mudroom to put their boots on. I ran upstairs and changed into a camo shirt and pants, grabbed my ESPs, a flashlight and my rifle. I quickly ran down stairs and started looking for my boots among the long row of women’s hunting boots. Shannon and Michelle H were giggling like schoolgirls; Michele B was on the back porch waiting. I started giggling too when I realized we were acting like we were trying to sneak out of the house without getting caught.

Shannon looked at me and said “Strut & Rut! That is what we need.” I was still putting my boots on so I told her where the stash was. She quickly went and got 4 of them. When she brought them to me and showed me she had 4, I quickly laughed shaking my head and said, “DON’T show those to Michele B. Good Lord, she has so much energy her head will be spinning!” I guess Shannon found that comical because we both erupted in laughter when Michelle H started laughing at us for laughing so hard. Michele B poked her head in the back door and asked, “What are you all laughing at.” We had to push out the back door before we woke the entire house up.

We giggled uncontrollably like high school girls sneaking out to Hank. We loaded up, fired up a ThermaCell, ran through a quick gear check, turned the key on, I looked at the ladies and said “Let’s go choot-a-hawg” and Hank was headed down the driveway to the cornfields. We rode a little ways, stopped and listened, doing this several times while in the cornfields. We made it to the road system and started down it. We drove across a section of road that had huge baseball and softball size rocks where they were placed for the timber rigs to get in and out of the fields. It was awful noisy and for some reason we found that comical…maybe because we were lacking sleep; everything seemed funny as we giggled along. Surely we didn’t have a chance to actually see a hog, much less shoot one.

We stopped and decided we needed to take some photos…needless to say the flash from the camera blinded us the first photo so all of us looked like Chinese. So we tried it again…which cut Michelle H’s head off. So just one more time…nope, that one didn’t work either. So we decided we all needed to be much closer. Squeezing in, we started laughing, seeing spots, trying two more photos where one would have their eyes closed and another their mouth wide open. Finally, we decided to all get off of Hank and try a photo that way. It did not go as planned. So we decided if we all just looked down at the camera with our heads pushed together, maybe we can get everyone in the photo…..WE GAVE UP…with our sides hurting from laughing we jumped back on Hank and moved out of the area; anything lurking in those woods was definitely in another county after all that giggling. We definitely took some bad photos but it was fun, no doubt.

Trying to get a photo on our Friday night hunt...FAIL...the flash was SUPER bright.

So we thought we would try again...but we were all laughing so hard and I was holding my breath to keep from laughing...another FAIL...

We thought maybe if we took it from the back of Hank it would be better. Nope the flash was still REALLY bright on this dark night....another FAIL..

Squeeze in...another FAIL...and seeing lots of spots in the dark night.

At this point we were teary-eyed and just giggling too hard to care. Another FAIL.

This is the last one, we all said, mostly because we couldn't see and I think half of us wet our pants laughing and the others had stitches in their sides.

We rode around for about an hour and a half before we headed back. Michele B remembered a field with a flat bed hauler parked on the edge of it so we went there and got up on the flat bed and stood a while listening. We heard a few squeals over the fence in the corn. We walked up the road a little ways; nothing.

Friday....err....Saturday morning around 3:00 a.m. waiting on hogs in the field. Michele Branning, Shannon Markley and Michelle Harmes.

We finally headed back to the cabin, parked Hank and giggled all the way up to the back door, snuck in… First, we were busted by Andrea Main; she said, “I came down hunting y’all.” We went into the living room and said down telling her about our trip. All of the sudden the front door opened and Richard walked in. Phew!! We made it back in the nick of time. But we were already busted so we told him that we had not been to sleep. I think it was Andrea who said, “they have been hunting all night. And I didn’t get to go.”

What a fun night!! But it was time to get day two started….already!

Ladies, are you looking for great hunting opportunities at very reasonable pricing? I have been fortunate enough to find several outfitters who are excited about promoting women in the sport of hunting and giving women hunters the opportunity of some great hunts. Here is a list of hunts that are on the calendar; there are a few that are still being coordinated and details worked out so stay tuned and subscribe to my blog to be the first to know when a hunt is posted. Some of these hunts are already booked full with a waiting list, some have a few spots remaining; book early to reserve your spot. Click on the BLUE link to take you to the announcement to read the details of each hunt:

August 12-14:
Hog Hunt with Rack Nine Outdoors, Barbour County, Alabama

I have TWO spots available on this hunt. This hunt was so much fun the first time, the outfitter agreed to coordinate a second hunt. You can read my June blog entries, along with several guest blogger entries and see photos of our first hunt.

September 10:
Bowfishing trip with Scale Damage, Bursa, Louisiana

This hunt is booked full.

October 21-23:
Whitetail Archery Hunt with Mountain View Plantation, Clay County, Alabama

This hunt is booked full.

October 28-30:
Whitetail Archery Hunt with Mountain View Plantation, Clay County, Alabama

This hunt is booked full.

November 2-6:
Whitetail Archery RUT hunt with Rack Nine Outdoors, Marion County, Illinois

I have 4 spots available on this hunt.

December 8-11:
Ladies Deer, Hog, Bobcat & Coyote Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, Barbour County, Alabama

I have 4 spots available on this hunt.

January (26)27-29, 2012
Ladies Rut Whitetail Rifle Hunt and Quail Hunt with Mountain View Plantation, Clay County, AL

I have 4 spots available on this hunt.

I am working on coordinating a duck hunt in Kansas and a turkey hunt (Rio, Merriams & Easterns) in Oklahoma. Deposits are non-refundable. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to be the first to know about future hunts. Hunt hard, harvest ethically and may your drag be short. ~Nancy Jo

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!

What a FANTASTIC weekend! I am truly blessed–I had the opportunity to share hunting camp with some really great women. Ten women from near and far hunted for hogs with Rack Nine Outdoors in Barbour County, Alabama.

Fantastic group of women hunters who enjoyed the weekend at Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama.

Back Row (L-R) Shannon Markley (AL), Michele Branning (FL), Christine “Chris” Anderson (PA), Dawn Gribbs (PA), Kristin “Krissy” Herman (PA), and Michelle Harmes (AL). Front Row (L-R) Jennifer McKinney (TN), Nancy Jo Adams (AL), Amber Markley (AL), and Nancy Carpenter (PA). Not shown in the photo is Jeanne Peebles (AL).

Memories were made and hogs were harvested. Every hunter had the opportunity to see hogs, some where even fortunate to make a shot at them and some were lucky enough to harvest hogs. Several great companies sent some goodies for the ladies: THY Enterprises sent $25 gift certificates, reusable gift bags and branded Koozies, Buck Girl sent 40% off certificates and branded Koozies, Girls with Guns sent some really cool ball caps, Doeville sent some awesome shirts, Camp Wild Girl sent some neat shirts, HerCamo sent a gift certificate, Northern Whitetail Scents sent a certificate for the ladies to use to order some products for the rut, and Strut & Rut included a sample of its great product.

Gift bag goodies from some outstanding companies that support and encourage women hunters.

I have always believed in Karma and that a person gets back ten-fold what they delve out in life. I remember being told by a very wise man “to pay your luck forward, it will find you in abundance” and “always sow good seed to reap bountiful harvests.” So paying my luck forward I made lucky charms out of some of my Osceola turkey feathers that I recently harvested and used those for the tag hangers on the gift bags for all the ladies. I hope that the luck pays off for them in the coming seasons.

May this feather bring you luck, bag a bird, hog or buck. Wishing plenty game you see, place it in a pocket and let it be. Osceola Turkey, April 2011 Harvest, Nancy Jo~Guru Huntress

Gift bag tag...

Shannon Markley surprised her daughter, Amber Markley, by bringing her to this hog hunt as a 13th Birthday gift. I told Amber that she had a pretty cool Mom. Shannon even brought a 14 layer chocolate cake and Blue Bell ice cream.

Amber Markley and her scrumptious 14-layer chocolate cake.

Yep, 14 independent layers with more of that old-fashioned homemade chocolate icing.

The hunt started off on Friday afternoon with everyone getting acquainted with each other in the great room of the lodge followed by a delicious dinner of baked pork loin, green beans and potatoes, corn and rolls. The skies were threatening our afternoon hunt with thunderstorms that you could see in the distance with rain, thunder and lightning. We watched the lightning show from high on the hill that the lodge was on. Fortunately the storm skirted our immediate area and we were told to get ready to hunt. We made plans to go to our stands around 6-6:30 p.m. and stay out for several hours after dark.

As each hunter gathered to leave with their guides, you could tell some were a little intimidated with the thought of being in a ladder stand, by themselves, in the middle of the woods in the pitch-black dark. Nearly everyone hunting had never experienced hunted at night before and some had not ever hog hunted. Some mentioned how exciting it was and that the anxiety made it an adrenaline rush. Armed with ThermoCells, rifles and spotlights we headed to the stand.

Shannon Markley loaded up and headed for the woods.

Jeanne Peebles excited about her first experience hunting hogs at night. She came prepared with a really cool gun mounted spotlight.

Greg was my guide and I loaded up in the truck with Nancy Carpenter, Michelle Harmes and Dawn Gribb. Greg dropped each of us off at our stands. My stand had about a 100-150 yard walk into it. When I was let off, I quickly got out and wished everyone luck and the truck backed out and was driving away in a matter of seconds. I set my backpack down, loaded my rifle, sprayed down with scent destroying spray, got out my flashlight and put it in my right pocket and my cell phone in my left pocket. I swung my backpack on and forged forward toward my stand. The first trail was a two-rut, grassy road for about 30 yards and then I had to make a left onto a small trail into the woods that had thick cover but the floor of the woods wasn’t bad at all. The thick canopy of limbs and leaves made it dark in the woods.

I had to use my flashlight intermittently to find bright eyes but the trail was well-marked and I could tell exactly which direction I need to travel. I was about 75 yards down the trail when I thought I saw the ladder portion of the stand. Still walking forward and without using the flashlight in the dim woods, I was struggling to try to make out if what I seen was the ladder to my stand or not. All of the sudden, like a lightning strike, I heard a grunt. A guttural deep grunt and a quick movement not more than 3-4 feet on my left. A SOW!! A BLACK SOW sitting on her rump like a dog. She was just the other side of an old rotten stump and what I figure is she must have been lying there when I walked up on her and in her efforts to get up quickly she was in the sitting position momentarily. It was a sight…but not one I chuckled about until I was safely sitting in my ladder stand.

She got up quickly and grunted loudly taking off toward the trail as her back hooves slung dirt and leaves on my lower shin. I instantly caught glimpse of her huge milk bags and I immediately scanned around me. No babies…thank goodness. As she started putting distance between her and I, I raised my gun and at that exact moment a 15-20 pound piglet went trotting off from some bushes to the left of me and ended up in front of the trail the sow was on. Then they were in to thick of cover for me to place an ethical shot. I had chills, I felt I was about to tinkle down my legs filling my snake boots, I was instantly out of breath and then I heard it! The feeding grunts of other hogs–close–VERY CLOSE. It is amazing how quickly thoughts can run through your mind in a situation like this. But the main one was that I either had to make it to at least the second step of the ladder to my stand….which was still about 25-30 yards in the direction the sounds were coming from. Or I could try to scale one of these smaller pines just like I had remembered Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island did. Alright…Gilligan was 1/4th my size so that is not going to be a choice.

I stepped forward trying to make as little sound as possible. I could see the ladder of my stand. I crept forward about another 3 feet when the sow grunted again and started running, followed closely by the piglet, toward the grunting sounds I was hearing. She was about 10 yards to my left and on a trail with two thick shrub bushes and some vines between us. I took two more large, ground covering steps and at this point I noticed I could not only hear my heartbeat in my ears but I could feel it at my pressure points where my backpack was strapped across my shoulders close to my neck. Whew!! One very intense moment. It was at that moment that I thought “If I ever get out of this alive…!” I had my gun in front of me but still had the safety on. As I paused a moment thinking that the stand was not getting any closer and debating that I probably would not be in the right state of mind to disengage my safety.

I heard the pigs flush, some squealing, some brush and leaves rustling that all sounded like the hogs were going in the opposite direction. I took the opportunity to take the last 7 LARGE-ground-covering steps to the base of my stand as quietly as I could and quickly scaled to the fourth step. I glanced over my left shoulder just in time to see the sow, two 60-70 pound hogs and four 20 pound piglets turn and take off in the opposite direction.As I stood on that rung, I honestly believe I was seeing stars for a moment as I let out a huge breath of air…did I hold my breath those last few intense moments? I must have. As composure crept over me, I started up the ladder.

Once I was sitting safely in my stand and had my backpack hung on the side rail, I had to chuckle. I kind of hated that I was the only one that experienced those few intense moments but then again, I might have been the subject of a good tale if you could have seen it unfold in front of you.

About 15 minutes after being settled in, I heard two shots, one right after the other. I pumped my fist in the air and hoped that it was one of the ladies on the hunt had scored. The darkness crept slowly and the lightning bugs took over with a light show in the canopy of leaves and limbs. It progressively got dark and it even sprinkled some. At one point the lightning from a storm way off was lighting the sky casting eerie shadows across the woods in front of me. Not too long after it turned pitch-black I heard another shot. Wow! I sure hope the ladies are scoring on these hogs. Woo Hoo!

Richard sent me a text around 9 p.m. to tell me that Jennifer McKinney from Tennessee had shot 3 pigs and they were already back at the barn with them and some ladies were already in. I told him to send someone to get me because I had not heard anything since I had run off the hogs coming into stand. I packed up, climbed down and started the walk out with the high-powered flashlight on and my gun in hand. I made it safely to the road where I only had to wait about 5 minutes for my ride back in. What an exciting first hunt I had.

When I got back to the lodge, I had found out that Jennifer shot two of her hogs on her way into the stand; shooting two with one shot. She had to use the second shot as reassurance that one of the hogs were finished off. She proceeded to her stand and later shot the third hog. What a fantastic first hunt she experienced at Rack Nine Outdoors. I was so happy for her. Unfortunately I had the wrong lens on the camera and Richard was unable to get a decent photo in the dark so I am waiting for a better photo from the outfitter and will post it as soon as possible. Congratulations Jennifer, way to go!!

Some of the ladies were still out on stand, some were in bed, some were congregated around the kitchen table talking about their hunt. We were going back out on stand around 3:30-4:00 a.m. and the excitement kept many of us from getting some quality sleep. Michele Branning and I just decided to stay up. Stay tuned for DAY TWO of this hunt and for more photos and stories straight from camp at Rack Nine Outdoors.

This hunt is an awesome opportunity for you to enjoy a weekend hunting and fishing with other women at a nice lodge in beautiful southeast Alabama. This hunt will be for a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 12 hunters. You will be hunting hogs on 3,000 acres of agricultural land, pine plantations and river bottoms. No harvest limits or size restrictions. The outfitter will have a nuisance permit issued by the Alabama Fish and Game allowing hunters to hunt at night. All box and tree stands are provided and already located on prime hunting spots. The weapon will be hunter’s choice and if you wish to hunt during the day, you may do that as well; with a bow and/or gun. If you are a predator hunter and want to hunt coyotes, you can do so at no additional cost. Included in this package is catch and release fishing on your choice of three ponds; about 20 acres of pond. To reserve your spot or if you have any questions, email me at

June 24-26, 2011
Arrive Friday mid-afternoon, hunt Friday, Saturday and Sunday and depart on Sunday around noon. We will coordinate with those who want to hunt during the day as well.

Rack Nine Outdoors
Terry Garrett
See YouTube Videos:
Rack Nine Outdoors
Global Outfitters Episode 19

Clio, Alabama in Barbour County. Email me for a link to a map if you would like to see the property.

The outfitter has extremely discounted the price of this hunt. The fee for this hunt is $325.00 per hunter; which includes lodging, meals, and transportation to and from your stand, and catch and release fishing. Skinning and quartering of hogs for your cooler is included. Meals will include dinner on Friday night, 3 meals on Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Beverages and snacks will also be available at all times during the hunt.

The required license:
3-day Non-Resident Small Game License $40.00
License can be purchased online

Equipment needed:
THERMOCELL (First and foremost!!)
Spotlight or powerful beam flashlight
Firearm and Ammo
Fishing gear if you wish to fish
Camo clothing, preferably the lightest weight clothing
Rain wear and gear
Casual summer clothing
Personal toiletries (towels and wash cloths will be supplied)
Cooler to take your harvest home in

There will be women coming from several states; if you wish to carpool with someone, let me know and I will see about helping you arrange that. This should be a fun hunt and I hope many of you can attend. Please email me if you should have any questions at

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