Friday, November 21, 2008

The GREAT Outdoors

I've been blogging a lot about hunting lately. I am completely hooked on it right now. Call it an obsession or an addiction, but either way - it describes me. When I'm not working or spending time with family and friends, I am outdoors (either literally or figuratively). I sometimes wonder if my background is the reason for my love of the outdoors - because it is so foreign. As a kid, I camped every month as a boy scout, but probably spent a minimum of time outdoors over the past 25 years. That ended about three years ago. I started camping, fishing, and shooting. When I did, I realized how much I enjoyed all of the activities. Shooting turned to hunting very quickly. A couple of dove hunts later, and I was hooked hard. Add a turkey hunt, and a couple of futile duck hunts and I wanted more. All I could think of was spending more time in the outdoors and finding ways to hunt more.

Then, I got a call from Angie's cousin. We were supposed to do a hog hunt in Goliad, TX (where he lived) during the summer, but never got it done. He and his family had moved back to Bonham, and he found a lease and wanted to know if I wanted in. I thought about it for about 0.003 seconds, got approval from Angie, and said yes. We would have access to 206 acres about 90 minutes away that we could hunt dove, duck, hog, and deer and it also had a pond stocked with fish. We were set.

Since opening day dove season (Sept 1), I have spent a part of all but one weekend on that property. I've gotten my hog, and will get a deer next weekend as it is antlerless weekend. Perhaps another hog or deer during the rest of our time on the lease and then it will be over...until we start looking for a place to get turkey in the spring.

Although the hunting is the highlight, and harvesting game the purpose, spending time in the outdoors is so much more than that. This week in Utah is a great example. Yes, we had an amazing time bagging duck, but some of the other experiences will not be forgotten, as well. In fact, when shooting becomes a hazy memory, I will continue to remember vividly the "Hawaii 5-O" theme on the duck call. Or, that Jeremy and I almost took a fall into the water when I took an overhead shot at a duck.

Or, perhaps the two bald eagles we saw when we were leaving the lake on day 1. I looked for eagles during the entire time I spent in Alaska, and never saw one. But I saw two perched along the shores of Utah Lake.

Or, perhaps the not one, but TWO, shooting stars I saw. Not little transient flickers, but large, bright and long burning shooting stars that made the hair on the back of my neck raise up as I watched them.

Or, maybe the sunrises that I saw come up from the mountains. Or the lake surface, so still it looked like glass and how it reflected the snow capped mountains in the background.

Or, one of the many other bird species we saw flying.

Or, the ducks that never came into shooting range. How they took a look at our spread, circled, maybe even answered our call, but then decided not to come join our party.

That's why I am out doors and why I love it so much. Yes, the harvest is awesome, as is the eating, but the whole experience is so much more. And, as a hunter and as a member of various conservation organizations, I am proud to know that my dollars help preserve the very same outdoors that I have come to love.

As a local commercial says, "if you want to preserve an environment, hunt in it!"

Spend some time outside, you'll see what I am talking about.

Our spread, from the boat, on Day 2. We are waiting for the sun to rise from the mountain the background. During the day, the water calmed and became completely still, turning into a mirror at the horizon. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Our spread, from the boat on day 2. My hosts added two mojos to the one they had from day 1. They made a huge difference, as we increased our harvest from 3 to 11 between the two days.

The view of our Day 2 location from out in the water. The sun is to my back, so we are looking back to from where I took the two first pictures. We are in the boat taking this picture, but imagine that the boat is within the reeds you are looking at. We were almost completely concealed. Jeremy is standing to the right of the reeds in this picture and he is just about invisible.

Our harvest from Day 1. A black duck, a drake Goldeneye and a hen Goldeneye. Here is the Hunter's boat. It is such a sweet deal. A jon boat with this flip up sides that function as the blind. When backed up to the reeds, or better yet, parked in the reeds, it is a stable platform for shooting that is virtually invisible. Add the 4 dozen or so decoys and the three mojo's, and they have the perfect set up for duck hunting.

Our Day 2 harvest. 11 ducks in the boat with 15 shot. The widgeon I shot and that we chased but never found, was my biggest regret. The other widgeon is about halfway in the picture with the green stripe on its head. In order, two redheads, a pintail, a black duck, a widgeon, two shovelers, and four green wing teal.

One of my hosts (Jeremy - his brother Robert is taking the picture), their boat and our harvest. If you can't tell, we've shed our heavy coats by this point. The weather was perfect. About 40 degrees when we started and significantly warmer when we ended. We hunted from legal shooting hours (about 6:50am) to 10am the first day, and about 11am the second. We just didn't want to leave.

To see all of my pictures, click here.



ChefMichele said...

Good thing the ducks cant see you, you look a bit like a doofus in that hat. LOL. Just kidding. OK I'm not really kidding. The pictures are awesome, I can totally understand your love of the outdoors, beautiful scenery. Some handsome ducks you got too. Are you ever going to have something mounted? That would be kinda cool. Uncle Tony would have loved that.

Scott Lessard said...

I know that hat is doofy looking. However, I was wearing it for most of the dove I'll harvested, my turkey and my hog. It is my lucky hat. I had exactly NONE ducks before I put it on during day 1. After putting it on, I killed every duck I got.

Goofy, yes. Lucky, definitely.


ChefMichele said...

Awwwwwwww!! Well than it looks great on ya. You will always be cool to me no matter what dorky thing you are wearing.

Travis Erwin said...

So are you gonna make it to the panhandle to hunt pheasants with me this year?

Packsaddle said...

"After putting it on, I killed every duck I got."

No kidding?