Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chasing Ghosts

Sometimes a hunter will seek a trophy that teases.  It will remain elusive, while leaving just enough clues to entice the hunter to continue the pursuit.  I call this ‘chasing ghosts.’  Not because it is a ghost mind you, but because I might as well be looking for ghosts, as the chess match between the two of us edges forward to either a checkmate, or a draw.
I have one of those games going on now.  A large buck that has kept a regular pattern has proven to be elusive.  I have found when he hits the stand site, and I have remained determined and patient in the quest.  Even if it means going to the stand at 3:30am in order to beat him to the area, I do.  I sit, and I wait.
Not everything involving the outdoors is hunting or fishing though.  Even when participating in those two activities, the communion with nature is the real reward.  Sometimes I try desperately to involve as many family members as possible.  But there is just so much room in a stand or boat, so I have to think of interesting expeditions that can be shared between us all.  Last year I convinced my wife that a camping trip in Pisgah National Forest with the kids and dogs would be fun.  Luckily it was.
We also made a trip to the zoo last October.  My family, with my mother, met with my cousins and my aunts and toured the exhibits.  Everyone enjoyed the trip, as well as seeing each other.  We reminisced about our trips to the zoo with my grandparents when we were kids.
When we left though, I had a surprise up my sleeve.  It was the weekend before Halloween, and my family enjoys the paranormal televisions shows.  So I figured I would take a detour and visit a site I have heard about since my pre-teen years, but was never able to go to.

We headed down a back road out in the middle of nowhere.  In the road we spotted a large cross painted in white.  I knew we were near.  I located a small path and pulled over to the side of the road.  We had found the Devil’s Tramping Ground.  What we found there made me uncomfortable so we didn’t hang around long.  Inside the mythical circle of barren ground was a small fire.  Just outside of it was what used to be a very nice and expensive tent, ripped to shreds.  I never found out what happened; I didn’t care to.
This year, I decided to knock off another of my bucket list adventures in North Carolina.  We ditched the kids and my wife and I found a small cabin (REALLY SMALL!) to stay in over the weekend.  The quest: The Brown’s Mountain Lights.
The legend goes that there was a war between neighboring Indian tribes many hundreds of years ago.  After the slaughter and bloodshed, the widowed took torches through the valley near Linville and up the Brown’s Mountain in search of their perished loved ones.
The United States Geological Society even tried to find explanations for the lights.  The common belief was they were reflections from a train that would travel nearby.  During the survey, a great storm came through and washed the train tracks out, yet, the lights again appeared.
Other common theories such as swamp gases were also ruled out, in large part because there is no swamp.
My goal was to just see the lights.  How could there be no explanation if they appear so regularly?  So on our second evening, we drove a long and winding path past Linville Falls and headed to the Wisemans View.  The best time to see the lights is between September and November according to reports.  Talking to locals, they can be seen just about any time, although shortly after a storm and in the fall they are more prevalent.
We arrived just before dusk.  There was a slight chill in the air.  Many people had gathered at the view, and we went beyond a fenced area to sit atop a flat boulder ledge near the main overlook.  At first, the people that were near us would shout and point “there’s one!”  I looked at my wife and thought it may truly be a myth as we didn’t see anything.
Then, I spotted a red light, dancing down the mountainside.  Then another a few hundred yards away.  Then another.
As the night embraced the area, we saw more and more.  Many of the lights seemed to flicker in response to other lights maybe a half of a mile to a mile away.  One greenish hued light worked its way up from the river all the way to the side of the cliff where we were.
A rational man would say the light was from someone below.  Usually I am rational.  However, when the light would appear below the tree canopy below and then float above the trees in other spots, rational is no longer a state of mind.
Is it ghosts of long ago?  Is it reflections?  Is it swamp gases or somebody down below in the valley trying to get their own closer look or even fool all the viewers above?
My answer is I just do not know.  I intend on pursuing the answer again.  The intrigue grips me.  But for now, I have my other ghost to chase.
Note:  Brown Mountain Lights can be seen about 4 miles from Linville Falls, NC.  The lights have supposedly been seen since the 1600’s.
The Devils Tramping Ground is located near Bennett, NC.  The ground is reported to be sterile of vegetation and is located about 100 yards from the roadside.

Friday, October 19, 2012

North Carolina Sportsman: Michael Sprinkle's Oldtimer

Michael Sprinkle of Winston-Salem could be considered a nature photographer based on how long his trail camera had been taking photos of a huge whitetail buck in Forsyth County.

Sprinkle finally made a personal connection with the buck when he arrowed it on Oct. 9. The buck carried a huge 7-point main-frame rack with five non-typical points and a total of 162 2/8 inches of antlers.

Click to read more

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gear Review: Buck Wear Zombies

No, I'm not Trick-or-Treating
All Hallow’s Eve is approaching in a few weeks.  While I do not particularly ‘celebrate’ it, it does make for a fun holiday especially for the kids.  The candy, the costumes, the candy, the masses of people visiting door to door, the candy…you get the picture…is the entire thrill of it.
In between all the candy, I did mention the costumes.  As hunters, we wear costumes a good part of the fall and winter.  We dress up as trees, brush, and one company even makes large foam heads that resemble the head of an antelope so you can sneak in close for the shot.  Coupled with a brown shirt with a white front you’ll look just like an ‘ole speed goat walking upright.
Another fun aspect of Halloween is the monster and ghost movies that begin to fill the airwaves on the cable and satellite channels and movie theaters.  Over the last few years, even with the success of the Twilight movies, zombies have reigned supreme.  There is something about a zombie movie that scares us in a happy way.  Unlike some of the paranormal movies that have come out recently, you do not feel like you have lost 3 years of your life due to the stress of the surprise, yet there is something that tells us deep within our DNA that it could possible happen; the zombie apocalypse that is.
The Center for Disease Control has issues ‘real’ warnings and tips on what to do in case of a zombie takeover.  The Missouri Department of Conservation advised the citizens to make sure they wear a safety harness when they escape to the elevation of tree limbs from zombies.  After all, if you fall from twenty feet and break an ankle, it makes it much harder to run from the limping creatures of rotten flesh.
So as a hunter, instead of costuming up on Halloween, I prefer to leave my costumes in a scent free bag so I can sneak up on wildlife rather than stomp up on a porch and ringing a door bell.  Buck Wear has now come up with a cool solution.
Buck Wear apparel recently released a line of t-shirts titled Buck Wear Zombies.  Three awesome designs grab everyone’s attention when you don the Zombies.  Buck Wear sent me some of each in different sizes to try out.  I have worn each design and each time I received comment after comment from hunters and non-hunters alike on how much they liked the shirts.  Made of 100% cotton, they are extremely comfortable.  Now, not being an expert on clothing, I am not going to go into the thread counts, washability, etc.  But I will talk about the designs.
First, the black Dept. of Zombie Deer Control t-shirt features a huge buck with wide antlers that would be awesome to see live, dead, or undead.  The tagline reads “This ain’t your Granddaddy’s deer management.”
Next is the moss colored (green) Zombie Deer Hunting shirt.  A buck in rut appearance is featured except instead of a muscular neck throbbing with testosterone the actual muscles are exposed through the decaying flesh.  A simulated site is set right between the angry lifeless eyes with “Aim for the Head, Save the Rack!” written to side.
Realizing not all outdoorsmen strictly hunt, the third design is my early favorite of the group.  The Spawn of the Dead features a very intimidating largemouth bass that looks ready to bite more than your favorite lure.  If I were to reel one of these in, I believe I would have to cut the line and run!
So, save your camo, ghillie suit, and hunter orange for the field, and wear a different  non-costume this year.  After all, a un-costume is the perfect apparel for the un-dead.
You can find your own Zombie shirts at for under $17.00.  Also, send me a picture of your favorite hero/trophy shot to where you have taken game or fish before they became un-dead along with the size shirt you wear, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for some Buck Wear swag.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

North Carolina Sportsman: How To Build a Game Cart

Game carts are becoming a valuable and important piece of a hunter’s arsenal. They come in handy, being lightweight but able to help carry equipment for harvested game. They do less damage to the land than an ATV and are much quieter and more compact.

Many carts may cost more than $100, but here’s a simple, do-it-yourself design that you can build in less than 30 minutes and for the cost of – or less – than a good deer drag.

Click to read more

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

North Carolina Sportsman: Brian Rhew Story

Brian Rhew has become accustomed to taking big deer on opening weekend of bow season. This year was no different, as Rhew arrowed a 146 7/8-inch 12-pointer on Sept. 11, the third day of the season, in Orange County.

Rhew had scouted the buck since last season, passing on him early in 2011 when it sported a main-frame 8-point rack. Letting him walk and grow another year proved beneficial.
Click to continue reading

Monday, October 15, 2012

North Carolina Sportsman: Chatham County Crossbow

A hot, humid day and an approaching storm with high winds didn’t deter Heather Horton from completing a memorable hunt on the first day of bow season in Chatham County this past Saturday.

What made it memorable? How about a 9-point buck with a 6 1/2-inch drop tine, its antlers still in full velvet?

Click here to continue

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Issue of Bow Adventures Coming SOON!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Living versus Surviving

While researching information on a story I am working on, I came upon some information on various Native American Indian groups in North Carolina.  I began looking where certain tribes were as well as the ties they had to other tribes.  Some of the tribes moved elsewhere after settlers came into the area.  There were some that had languages consisting of words from tribes located across North America indicating tribal mergers at some point and time.  I also learned of various living customs and techniques.
This weekend I was able to hit the deer stand on Saturday morning.  When I say Saturday morning, I mean at 3:30am.  Trail camera photos indicated the deer were hitting the field near my stand around 4am, so in order to get in and not spook them; I had to beat them to the field.  I packed my mp3 player which also has radio reception, threaded my earphones through my shirt and under my face mask, and sit back and listened while waiting for shooting light.
I do not listen to music on the radio much.  Usually, the only time music is played over my truck stereo is when my daughter changes the station when I take her to or pick her up from dance class.  The sequence is something like this:
Julianne presses the station preset as soon as she gets in the truck.
“What are you doing?” comes my quick reply to her actions.
“Changing the station.  No one wants to listen to talk radio.”
“Uh, yes I do.  It is my truck, my stereo, and I am listening to this.”  I press the preset back to the station I was listening to.
“Not anymore!” she shrieks while hitting the button again.
I again press the button, “Don’t touch it!”
Halfway home, she leans forward as if she has an itch, or is picking up something, or…anyway, she quickly presses the music preset once again.  It stays that way until I head to work the next day.
Now that I have run a tangent to my topic, let me get back to the real story here.  I was listening to Coast to Coast AM while waiting in the stand.  It is a show that runs overnight and usually deals with conspiracy theories, UFO’s, aliens, and the such.  Music puts me to sleep.  Talk radio, especially something like this, keeps me interested and my eyes open.
The guest that morning was discussing how to survive ‘the oncoming disaster.’
I’m not going to delve into the December 2012 lore, nor am I going to write about the two comets coming in 2013 and how they may actually be planet X and planet Niburu as told in Sumerian tablets.  A quick Google search on any of that will provide plenty of hours and websites of entertainment.  But I did start thinking about the whole survival thing.
I was listening to a man who was discussing how people do not know how to survive anymore.  People cannot live without certain amenities such as electricity, air conditioning, and plumbing.
And I thought to myself about the Native Americans and the European settlers and how they ‘survived.’  Not all of them survived, I know.  That is how we have the Lost Colony.  But survival now is a lot different than survival was back when this land was not yet the United States.  We have television shows starring people such as Les Stroud and Bear Grylls explaining to us how to survive.  Their shows throw them in the middle of nowhere for seven to ten days.  They have to SURVIVE.  Yet, the explorers and settlers and Native Americans did not only survive, they LIVED.  They knew how to make it in the world with what the world offered them.  Our world now bears little resemblance to the world then.
What secrets have we lost?  When did that basic instinct of living become a not-so-instinctive survival quality?
I learned some of the great hunting tribes would cover themselves in mud.  The purposes were many.  First, the mud would cover any human scent.  We now either have to use a spray, high priced clothing, or put ourselves in an enclosed building with windows on each side that allow us to go after our game from several hundred yards away.
Second, the mud offered camouflage.  Head out to a swampy area and pick up a handful of mud.  Then walk over to a tree such as a pine or oak, or even a river birch.  Hold your hand near the bark.  The mud is like the perfect camouflage.  So that high priced clothing that in Realtree or Mossy Oak with the Scentblock emblem costs how much?  The mud is a LOT cheaper!
Third, the mud helped battle those pesky insects.  You know the ones.  The North Carolina State Bird; the mosquito!  Horseflies, gnats, no-see-ums…they cannot penetrate a good caking of mud.  Why do you think pigs and elephants roll around in the mud?  It gets the bugs off!
Mud is just one secret that we no longer have in our arsenal of survival; of living.
I became a bit envious of the knowledge our ancestors had.  Sure we have electricity, air conditioning, plumbing, and even truck stereos with station presets and mp3 players, but our knowledge of luxuries is nothing compared to their knowledge of living.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Post-How to Pack for a Hunting Trip

This guest post is brought to you by, providing the highest quality hitch mounted
cargo carriers and racks on the market.

How to Efficiently Pack for a Hunting Trip

Hunting requires a significant amount of gear, and there’s always the chance you will bag a kill that will take up space in or on your vehicle. Packing for a hunting trip, therefore, quickly becomes both an art and science for many seasoned sportsmen.

Ultimately, practice is the best way to determine what you absolutely need on a hunting trip. The more hunting experience you person have, the better you will become at packing efficiently. Still, reviewing the guidelines below can help you refine your own approach to packing for a hunting expedition.

How to Pack for Your Next Hunting Trip

First, a general packing tip: We recommend creating a packing checklist. This preliminary step guarantees that you will have everything you need once you reach the wild. As you pack, go through your list and check off each item.

Next, group items according to where they will be packed. Experienced hunters recommend a day pack for on-the-hunt items; a duffle bag for clothes and small consumables; coolers for food and game; and lockable boxes for ammo, guns and archery gear.  Finally, depending on the size of your vehicle, you may benefit from having a roof-mounted or hitch-mounted cargo carrier to contain all of your camping gear.

In the day pack, include:

·         Lighter and waterproof fire starting kit, including matches
·         Flashlight with extra batteries
·         Knife for cleaning game
·         Camera/smartphone
·         Binoculars
·         Compass, maps and/or GPS system
·         Water bottle
·         Meat bags, dressing gloves
·         Hunting license

This pack should also include outdoor survival necessities such as a small first aid kit, toilet paper in a baggie, a space blanket, lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellant and energy bars or trail mix.

In the duffle or rolling bag, place your clothes for the trip. Some avid hunters recommend scent-eliminating systems such as Scentnote, which make it much more difficult for animals to smell you coming. Don’t forget to pack your hunter orange gear in this bag to ensure you remain visible to other hunters. As you select what clothing to bring, favor fabrics such as wool and fleece, which will keep you warm even when wet.

In the coolers, pack food for your journey. Don’t forget to bring an extra cooler or two for game.  You could also consider a hitch-mounted cargo carrier than can double as a cooler for your game (note: you’ll want to shop for these, not all can act as coolers). Double-check that you have everything you’ll need for cleaning your kills, including hunting knives, zip-close plastic bags and a sharpening stone. Hunting aficionados recommend bringing a portable generator and a vacuum-packing system, but this is excessive for beginning hunters who may not bag a kill on their first few trips.

In the lockable boxes, pack your ammunition, weapons and other hunting accessories such as a bipod or shooting stick. Think through what could go wrong in the wild, and pack accordingly. For instance, what will you do if your bow string snaps? Better pack an extra one just in case, as well as pliers and a bow stringer.

For a multi-day excursion, your list will also include camping gear. It’s not easy to find enough space for everything a memorable hunting trip requires. Rooftop cargo carriers are a popular solution for this common dilemma, or you can opt for a hitch-mounted cargo carrier.

Rooftop Cargo Carriers vs. Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers

Using a rooftop or hitch-mounted cargo carrier is akin to adding an extra trunk to your vehicle. Both will provide plenty of extra room. However, each storage solution poses its own advantages and drawbacks.

Rooftop cargo carriers are helpful, but they decrease gas mileage through drag, and gear isn’t easy to access when it’s on top of your car or SUV. (Most truck beds do not provide a large enough mounting surface for rooftop carriers.)

A hitch-mounted cargo carrier’s rear placement does not decrease gas mileage, and its rectangular shape makes it easier to pack bulky items. There are also models that feature swingaway frames to still provide access to the rear of your vehicle. And, some can even double as coolers for your fresh game.

Regardless of whether you choose a rooftop or hitch-mounted cargo carrier, take a few moments after your trip to reflect on what worked and what failed as far as hunting storage was concerned. With a little awareness, you can continually improve your own approach to packing for a hunting trip. Just think: The better you get at packing, the more quickly you can get out in the backcountry!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tree Stand Safety

Trees.  If one thinks of nature, trees are the first vision one has.  They provide oxygen for most other living things, filtering out other gases such as carbon dioxide.  Their roots enhance the stability of the ground beneath.
Trees help us in visualizing our ancestral lineage.  The ‘family tree’ can start with an ancestor and blossom to our current extended family or it may start with the newly married couple and expand back generations.
Trees represent the changing of the seasons.  They also represent how to provide strength to a situation; without a strong root system even the mighty will fall.
When deer season approaches, one of the steps in scouting comes in the form of searching for a good straight tree.  Without that tree, the hunting style changes drastically.
Many hunters use a variety of stands.  Ladder stands, both home-built or store purchased, lock on style stands, and climbing stands are the most popular choices.  Regardless of the type, they provide a secure and stable platform in order to wait and then fire upon the intended target.
Just as it is often quoted how safe airplanes are, the statistic that always matters is when one crashes is the number of injuries and fatalities involved.  Between the 2008-2009 season and the 2010-2011 season, a span of three seasons, North Carolina reported 132 total hunting incidents resulting in 13 fatalities.  Of those incidents, 57 were related to stands and of the 13 fatalities, 8 were from a stand.  If you speak to any long time hunter, most will tell you at some point they fell from a tree or stand.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) began the Home from the Hunt safety campaign last year in an attempt to minimize the incidents.  During this same time, we are experiencing a growth in the number of hunting licenses sold, meaning there are likely more people in the field.  I spoke with Geoff Cantrell of the NCWRC about the Home from the Hunt campaign recently.  Geoff shared that hunter education instructors are encouraged to cover elevated stand safety to a greater extent.  He also shared a few tips.
-Never carry anything when climbing.  Use a haul line to raise and lower unloaded firearms and equipment once seated safely.
-Have an emergency signal device readily available.  A whistle, flare, or cell phone on vibrate works well.
-Let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return.
-Select a healthy straight tree and do not exceed height recommendations.
Cantrell also stresses the importance of keeping three points of contact with the stand while climbing up or down and wearing a full body harness.
If you have ever used, or attempted to use a safety harness, especially one that comes with a store bought stand, you will quickly realize unless you are accustomed to putting one on, it can be difficult.  It is even more difficult if you are going in for a morning hunt and it is still dark while trying to slide it on.  Just as you do with your bow or firearm, practice makes perfect.  If you are going in early, put it on before getting into the vehicle and wear it to the hunting land.
I have also come across people who mention they do not have one and just don’t have the funds to spend on a $50 - $100 safety vest.  We will not get into what is more important between ammunition, firearms, or a safety device; it is self explanatory.  But, I do have an alternative.  Will Jenkins, a blogger located in Virginia began a program last year for those who do not have harnesses.  Harnesses for Hunters became a success, and soon Will had gathered many harnesses and vests donated by hunters who had extras from stands they had purchased.  Will became a holding partner, accepting harnesses from the donations, and shipping, for free, to those hunters who requested vests but felt like they did not have the money to purchase one.  While the vests were free to Will, he did incur costs for shipping and feared he would have to halt the program.
Earlier this year, he gathered a few sponsors that assisted in the shipping costs.  He also began taking monetary donations to help with shipping as well.
If you would like to donate either a harness or vest to Will, or would like to request a vest, you can go to Will’s site, and follow the links there.
If you get a harness, or if you hunt from a stand, just remember to use it.  North Carolina, your family, and I would like to see you return Home from the Hunt.