Book Review: “The Total Deer Hunter Manual” by Bestul & Hurteau

The Total Deer Hunter Manual

I recently finished The Total Deer Hunter Manual (Field and Stream) by Scott Bestul and Dave Hurteau.  Filled with 301 essential skills, this book has deer hunting tips, tricks, and facts for everyone from the novice to skilled hunter.

Pictures of bucks, does, and hunters grace most of the glossy pages.  Detailed diagrams and illustrations further explain techniques mentioned.  Scattered throughout are amusing author anecdotes, stories of the greatest deer hunters, and pictures of the greatest deer scored.  The humorous writing style keeps the book informative and entertaining from beginning to end.

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Update: The Company’s Response

Great news!  I’m pleased to say the company I mentioned in my previous post, has responded to my email and addressed the incident exceptionally well.

Last week, after thinking about it for awhile, I sent an email which echoed what was written in my blog post.  I decided this was too important of an issue and I should address it.  The next day, I received the following email.

Company's First Response

As you might imagine, when I received the email, I wasn’t quite sure if this was simply to appease me or if they would actually make good on their promise to escalate the issue to the top.  This week, I received the following email from the company’s Creative Director.

Company's Second Response

I’m very pleased with their quick response, as well as how professionally and personally they addressed the situation.  It was great having a woman reach out who understands what it’s like being a female in the hunting world.  It means a lot that she shared her personal story with me.  That really went above and beyond what I had expected.

She makes a great point that as a female hunter, you need to be sure your voice is heard.  It was similar to what a few of you shared in your comments on the last post.  This was definitely a learning experience for me.  Taking her advice, plus what some of you wrote, I know I’ll be more confident in a situation like this if it happens again.

I’m happy with how they handled the situation and it has restored my respect for the company.  My intention in sending the email was to make the company aware of the issue, but I do appreciate their offer of apology.  I look forward to trying their product and will give an honest review after using it.

I’m glad that this unfortunate situation now has a good ending and that I can continue on knowing I did what I needed to do to make sure the issue was addressed. I hope this experience of mine can help you in handling similar situations if they should ever arise.

 

Weddings, Babies, and Hunting Season

Sometimes, as you’re dreaming of white tail deer, your friend is dreaming of their picture perfect wedding day.  Every now and again, these happen at the same time.  As a woman in my late twenties, there’s an ever growing number of engagements, weddings, and babies happening in the lives of those closest to me.  That can mean trading in your camo and rifle for a dress and heels.

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The Value of Female Hunters

Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show

This past weekend, I went to the Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show with a friend of mine.  It’s a sports and recreation show with over a hundred booths for all things hunting, fishing, and outdoors related.  I didn’t go for any specific item.  I mainly wanted to look around and see what was there.

One of our last stops was at a booth for an app that tells you if the land you’re on is public or private.  Several people have mentioned this app to me before and said it’s a great tool to use when hunting.  I’ve seriously considered purchasing this app knowing that I’ll likely be hunting on public land this year.  So I was happy that we found the company’s booth.

The man working at the booth overheard me saying I was interested in the app and walked over.  Immediately, he focused his attention on my male friend.  He gave him the whole sales pitch, not even glancing my direction.  I was pretty taken aback.

Part of me wanted to stop him mid-sentence to say, “Hello!!  Hi!  Interested, potential customer over this way!”  Instead, I just stood there waiting to see if he would include me in the conversation.

He never did.

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Taking A Woman Hunting? Avoid These Mistakes!

There’s a great article I found on the Realtree website, “12 Mistakes Men Make When Hunting With Women.”  It’s worth a read!  I found myself laughing and nodding in agreement at some of the so-called “mistakes.”  Reading some of the examples, I remembered experiences I had with hunting and fishing.  Looking at the comment section, it’s clear this is a heated topic that not all women agree on.  Personally, I’ve only encountered a few of these, but it’s easy to see how they can happen.  The main takeaway is that one bad experience while learning something new can discourage a person from continuing to learn.  That applies to men and women in all aspects of life.  This article highlights some examples women might experience when hunting with men that could take away their interest in hunting.

Two mistakes stuck out to me and related to experiences I’ve gone through.

1.  “Displaying lack of patience.”
This was a problem I dealt with when a boyfriend was teaching me how to fish.  I hadn’t been since I was a little kid, so almost everything was new to me.  When he came over with all of his fishing gear, I was excited to spend the day out at the lake learning.  But when he said, “We’re going right now!” at 8pm, I was caught off guard and got a little nervous.  I asked if he was sure this would be a good time for me to learn and he assured me it was.  He said night fishing was his absolute favorite.

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My First Hunting Trip

Country Huntress Hunting Trip

Last fall, I joined my dad and brother on their yearly hunting trip.  To say I was excited is an understatement!  In the months leading up to November, my dreams were filled with different hunting scenarios.  My brother drew a late season buck tag, which meant our trip would be in November instead of October’s general season.  While my brother hunted deer, my dad and I were going to hunt upland birds.  I was hoping to get at least a pheasant.

We left on a Friday and halfway into the drive I realized that I had forgotten my hunting boots.  I had carefully placed them next to my door to be sure I wouldn’t forget them.  Whoops!  I only had the Nikes on my feet and knew those weren’t going to work being mostly mesh.  When we got to town to buy food for the weekend, I ran (yes, literally ran) to the closest retail store as my dad and brother shopped for food.  I bought the cheapest pair of boots and by some miracle, I didn’t get one blister the entire weekend.  My feet hurt, that’s for sure, but no blisters.

We decided that if you have to buy a pair of boots to wear immediately, buy the cheap ones because there isn’t nice, stiff leather to break in.  It’s possible that’s completely wrong, but I don’t know how else I didn’t get a single blister walking the entire weekend in a brand new pair of boots.  After my forgotten boots fiasco was fixed, we headed to camp with a food stocked RV.  The sun was setting when we arrived so unfortunately there was no time for scouting after we set up.  We went to bed early to be ready for the long day ahead.

My alarm went off at 5am on Saturday.  Instead of hitting snooze like I normally do, I was wide awake and full of excitement for the day.  After eating a quick breakfast, we grabbed our gear and headed out for the day.  My dad and brother have hunted this land for decades but last year it went through some changes.  My brother went to the main part of the hill to start deer hunting.  My dad wanted to show me the land as we started bird hunting.  We took off for a patch of brush on a hill in the distance.  Walking on tilled dirt definitely isn’t my favorite, it’s harder than it looks!  After twenty minutes of walking, we arrived at the brush and tried flushing birds out.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a buck out in the field that took off over a ridge.

A little while later, we saw three deer come over the ridge and go down into an area with a small stream running through it.  My dad decided we should walk to that area and see if the deer had bedded down near the stream.  If we found them, they might run up the hill toward my brother.  I don’t even know how to describe the excitement I had seeing those deer.  All I knew is that I couldn’t wait for next year when I was able to go for my own deer.  Keeping the wind in our faces, we made the long trek to the back of the ridge.  As we rounded the corner, we found the stream and it was no longer surrounded by vegetation.  There were no deer in sight.  We headed up toward the main hill to see if my brother had any success.  We logged about 10 miles walking that day all over the land.

One patch of brush was over half a mile long, my dad walked the top and I walked the base.  After a few minutes of walking, one doe sprang from the brush and took off.  A little further down, my dad was looking off in the distance when an animal got up and darted past him.  I couldn’t quite tell what it was because it happened so quick, but then three big, dark bodies stood up with their backs turned to me.  When their ears perked up, I realized they were coyotes and they all took off running within feet from my dad.  He only saw two run by and was a bit surprised to say the least!  Toward the end of the brush, another doe jumped out and took off in the same direction the others had.  I thought it was so interesting to see what all was hiding in the brush mere yards from each other.

By the end of the day we jumped two sets of birds.  Unfortunately, we weren’t really trying to flush them out when it happened so we weren’t set up for a good shot either time.  I learned the importance of always being ready.  My brother saw a four point buck but didn’t have a good shot at him.  As the sun was setting, we called it a day.

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2015 Hunting Goals

With one hunting season down, I have a better idea of the goals I’d like to accomplish this year.

1.  Get in shape!
Hiking up steep inclines made me winded pretty quickly.  After carrying my shotgun for hours, I realized how weak my arms were.  I’m hoping to increase my strength and stamina by the time fall rolls around.

2.  Shoot my first deer.
I’m really motivated to get a deer.  It was exciting watching my brother try to get one last year, but I really want do that for myself.  I want to spend as much time scouting as I can before the season starts to give it my best shot.  Which leads to my next goal…

3.  Hike and scout more.
I want to know the land better so I have a plan in place for when the season starts again.  Plus, hiking will help with my first goal to get in shape for walking on tough terrain.

4.  Go duck hunting and shoot my first duck.
My brother and I went out duck hunting last December.  No ducks were flying but I still enjoyed being out.  I’m hoping this year to be able to join him on more duck hunts and shoot my first duck.

5.  Go upland bird hunting and shoot a bird.
My first ever hunting experience was with a friend as we went out quail hunting.  It was a lot of fun, but the only quail we saw were on the road in areas we couldn’t hunt.  I’m hoping to go back out with him and finally get myself a bird!

6.  Go fishing more.
I don’t really care what I go fish for, I just want to spend more time out on the water relaxing and enjoying fishing.

7.  Cook game recipes.
I want to learn some great recipes to make delicious meals with the game I’m able to harvest this year.

Last year, I barely got my feet wet with hunting.  This year, I’m ready to dive in and reach these goals!  I’m excited to look back at the end of 2015 to see everything I accomplished.

Why I Hunt

It’s a question I am frequently asked by friends who have known me for years—“Why are you hunting?”  I understand why they ask.  Growing up, I never showed much interest in hunting.  My dad and brother have hunted since I was little, but I never wanted to join.  As a teenager, I joked the only shooting I’d do would be with a camera.  Part of me felt that the week spent hunting was guy time, which left me to have girl time with my mom.

When I reached my mid-twenties, I realized just how much I enjoyed being outdoors.  I started dating a guy who was passionate about hunting and I began to look at it differently.  I liked the idea of hunting as a way to provide food for my family one day.  Hunting seemed like a way I could combine my love of hiking and the outdoors.  And to be honest, I’m a competitive person, I liked the idea of the hunt.  I decided to take the hunter safety course to see if hunting was really for me.  In that class, I learned more about conservation and the role hunting played.  Did you know the money from hunting tags and higher taxes on guns/ammunition went toward conservation efforts?  I sure didn’t.  Knowing those facts made me feel even better about hunting.

This past fall, I was finally able to go hunting and answer the question of if this was something I really wanted to pursue.  I’m happy to say I fell in love with it.  I haven’t yet gotten an animal, but being out there, I experienced some of my year’s best moments.  It was like I had found something I never knew had been missing from my life.  I know I can’t explain this feeling to people who don’t understand it, or have never felt it for themselves, and that’s okay.

Nothing can compare to being out in the tranquil pre-dawn hour, experiencing the still air, seeing a gorgeous orange-pink sunrise streak across the sky as you listen for the faintest sound of movement, eyes scanning the ridge line for an antlered silhouette to appear, sharing the experience with family and friends as you hike through various areas looking for game, and feeling connected to nature.  I don’t think anything else I’ve done in life has brought such a feeling of peace and happiness.  I can’t wait to get back out there and think about it constantly.  I have a lot to learn, no doubt.  But I’m so excited for the coming years of learning everything from harvesting an animal to cooking delicious meals to feed my family.  I’ve accepted some people might not understand my reasons for hunting, but I know why I’m doing this and that’s all that matters.

Conservation

Before being involved in hunting, I didn’t realize that conservation was so heavily supported by hunters.  The money made from hunters (hunting licenses, tags, guns, ammunition, ect.) is put back into conservation efforts for wildlife management.  As someone who wants to preserve the outdoors, I was happy to learn that the money I would spend for hunting was going toward a cause I believe in.  Even though I didn’t get an animal last year,  I know the money I spent on tags was put toward a good cause.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a great article on conservation called “25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation.”  Below are some of my favorite reasons, click here to read the full article:

“Reason No. 2 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Thanks to conservation work spearheaded by hunters, today there are more than 32 million.

Reason No. 6 why Hunting Is Conservation: Habitat, research and wildlife law enforcement work, all paid for by hunters, help countless non-hunted species.

Reason No. 7 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through state licenses and fees, hunters pay $796 million a year for conservation programs.*

Reason No. 10 why Hunting Is Conservation: An 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows generates $371 million a year for conservation.*

Reason No. 14 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunting funds conservation AND the economy, generating $38 billion a year in retail spending.*

Reason No. 17 why Hunting Is Conservation: A wildlife management tool, hunting helps balance wildlife populations with what the land can support, limits crop damage and curtails disease outbreaks.

Reason No. 21 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunters provide for conservation—and for their families. Hunting is a healthy way to connect with nature and eat the world’s most organic, lean, free-range meat.

For more information on conservation, check out the following links:
Fish and Wildlife Service Information on Conservation
National Shooting Sports Foundation on Conservation