Posts Tagged ‘Gable Sporting Goods’

Like a lot of hunters, I spend a good amount of time dreaming of hunting somewhere else – I grew up in Northeast Ohio, hunting rabbits, squirrel, pheasant, and whitetail deer until the mid 1990’s, then I moved to upstate New York, and eventually back to Ohio and finally Georgia, but I haven’t hunted in Ohio since probably 1993, so twenty-five years give or take.

This year, when looking at various options here in Georgia and other states, I was lamenting not having a good place to hunt, and not having the budget to get in on a decent hunting lease, when on a whim I looked up the price for non-resident Ohio hunting licenses with deer tags, and the answer was under $200 for the general hunting license and one either sex deer tag.  I posed that on FaceBook, and the next time I called to talk to my folks in Ohio, the first words out of my dad’s mouth were something like ‘what took you so long?’

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My dad is, at this point, 76 year old. He doesn’t use Facebook. He doesn’t know what Twitter is and probably would have to think for a few minutes to explain the term ‘social media’ to somebody if pressed.  He is a retired automotive factory worker and U.S. Army National Guard first sergeant, he doesn’t like computers much, and uses a pay-as-you-go box store flip phone like the old Motorola Razr style, and by ‘uses,’ I mean ‘hates, uses it as little as possible, and would probably prefer to throw it in a river.’  My point is that my step-mom or uncle Phil had to tell him ‘hey, Niko is thinking about hunting in Ohio this year.’

So, with a little planning, we set up the trip. I would stay at the house in Hartford, Ohio, and hunt with dad at some of his favorite places.  The easiest way to describe dad’s health isn’t to list all the things that aren’t working, it’s to say ‘he has one good shoulder, and gets around with the help of a 5′ walking stick he cut himself from a sapling.’  He uses a Barnett Recruit crossbow because it’s light enough for him to carry, and usually takes a darn nice buck with it every year.  He’s average height and weight, too, and for those of you who have met me in person, is nothing like me physically. When we stand side-by-side, I look like Shrek standing next to Robert De Niro.  Despite his health issues, the Saturday I was in Ohio, we left the house at 1:15 in the morning, drove over an hour to pick up Dan, Bill, Edna and Cindy, some of Dad’s Amish hunting friends, and then drove to their property in central Ohio, hunted all day, then drove back, dropped them off, and drove back to dad’s house, a 26.5 hour long day.

We hunted four properties, three in Trumbull County, in the townships of Greene, Johnston, and Hartford, and one property in Tuscarawas county south of Canton. In the time I was there, I saw deer every single day, all but three does, and never drew my bow. I had my release hooked to the d-loop three times, twice, a few minutes apart trying to get a shot at a small six-point while being watched by several nanny-does, and the third time trying to get a shot at the same six-point the last night I was there.  The nanny-does had been spooked by both the doe-in-heat drag we used and a decoy set up off to my right, and that spooked the six-point enough for him to stick to cover the first time, the second time, all of the good acorns were apparently in the underbrush where I couldn’t get a clean shot.  I also watched four gobblers make their way across a field, and saw more raccoons than I thought I would ever see in my life.  When I asked dad about that, he said ‘people used to hunt them, now nobody does, and they’re everywhere now.’ I must have seen fifty or more road-killed raccoons, probably two dozen road-killed opossums, and multitudes of deer while in Ohio.

Still the trip was a great amount of fun, with lots of nostalgic moments driving around the area that forms my childhood memories. I would have liked to come home with a couple of coolers full of venison (I could have purchased additional tags for $42 each, up to a total of three), but that’s ok, I came home with memories.

 

In the first quarter of the year, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  I was, and to some degree still am, quite heavy.  I love to cook, and hey, guess what? Eating what I cook goes hand in hand with cooking.  I have a job that is entirely desk-based, so the only way I could burn less calories at work is if somebody paid me to sleep.

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I started off watching a ton of videos on YouTube, reading fitness posts, etc. etc., but I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s really just diet and exercise to loose weight.

No, really, that’s it. Spend more calories on exercise, eat less calories, try to avoid fried foods, processed foods, etc.  Not some crazy ‘eat nothing but avocados and sunflower seeds for three weeks straight’ diet or anything like that.

At my heaviest, I was around 365.  I say ‘around’ because the scale at work stops at 350, and I wasn’t going to go find a CARGO SCALE to put my Sasquatch-sized carcass on for better accuracy.  In the six weeks leading up to being diagnosed with diabetes, I had lost thirty five pounds with very little effort. That’s what worried me, that and having to go to the bathroom about every forty-five minutes, all day, all night.

Since that time, I’ve been walking, lifting, and keeping track of what I eat with various applications on my smartphone.  I believe these are all UnderArmor apps, My Fitness Pal, Map My Walk, Map My Fitness, and Map My Ride. I’ve walked 279.6 miles since June 1st. So in 92 days, I’ve averaged just a hair over 3 miles per day.  Some weeks I’ve done far more than that, walking eight and ten miles at Sweetwater Creek State Park, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, and Red Top Mountain State Park. We also hit Skidaway Island State Park when we were in Savannah on vacation in June for a couple of miles.

I’ll toss a gallery of some of my UnderArmor walk ‘finish’ screens at the end of the post along with some photos from my hikes.

I think most people would be quite surprised at how fast their physical condition can improve simply hiking a few hours per week, let alone per day.

I’ve been lifting weights, I have a Weider home gym that I’ve nearly maxed out in all of the major exercises.

I’ve got my weight down to 314, almost all of the progress was made in the first month though, which would be disheartening, if I hadn’t also lost two pant sizes since then.   Yes, I know, muscle weighs more than fat. I’ve known that since high school biology, yet every other person I see gives me that nugget o’ information like it’s the Holy Grail of ‘Keep going!’  My blood pressure is finally in the green, my resting heart rate went from 90 to 60, and I feel very odd on days when I have to sit still. So it is working, I just have to keep going, keep reminding myself that I didn’t get here in 90 days, I’m not going to get back to where I was before in 90 days. I just hope it doesn’t take quite as long to get fit as it did to get to where I was at the beginning of the year.

My current goal is to get down to 300 pounds, at which point I want to start doing higher intensity training, because the goal after that is 275,  then 250.  I’d be quite happy with 250 at this point.

So if you’re pining away for a better you, find something, anything, to get off of the couch, out of the chair, and go do something.   Even if it’s just walking in your neighborhood.  The UnderArmor applications have challenges built in, like ‘Complete 30 GPS verified hikes in 30 days’ for a chance to win prizes, and to be honest, I don’t care about the prizes, it just helps motivate me.  The prizes are a random drawing based on completion, so don’t think you can’t win based on where you are in the ratings.’

If that sounds boring, add in audio books, or your favorite internet radio station over your smartphone, but it’s a sure bet that if you just sit still, you won’t improve your physical condition.

My big contest at this point is completing the ‘You vs. 2018’ challenge – 1018 kilometers in 2018.  I’ve completed 587.9 k at this point, and I have 123 days left to do the rest.

Easy.

Tomorrow is the start of Dove season here in Georgia – y’all be safe, and enjoy.

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*Whew!* I hadn’t realized it had been over two months since I wrote an update.  I’ve been very unlucky with my shift rotations at work, I’ve only been able to hit one 3D shoot this year.  I had a great time at Riverbottom Outdoors though, and our schedule is supposed to change late April to a fixed shift, so I may be able to shoot a lot more this year.

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As another update, I’ve finally decided to start building AR 15’s for myself and my wife.  Current projects include a 6.5 Grendel build for myself, and a 5.56mm for the wife, which will either be upgraded to a .224 Valkyrie later in the year, or depend on prices for uppers, simply have a second upper purchased in that caliber.

I chose 6.5 Grendel for several practical reasons, and one impractical one.  The practical reasons include, in no particular order, the caliber’s place between the .22/6mm offerings (I own a fantastic  Winchester Model 70 in .243) and .30 caliber offerings (I have a .300 RUM, .308 Winchester and 30-30), which means I have a mid-range caliber firearm that is practical for everything from varmint hunting to mule deer.  I read multiple reviews of the caliber, watched quite a few videos, and repeatedly ran into professionals who stated that the 6.5 Grendel was pretty much the perfect round for an AR platform.  The impractical reason stems from Beowulf; I’ve always loved that story, so when I see the name ‘Grendel,’ I tend to pay more attention.

On to turkey season!

Well, I said I wanted to get out more, and this year I did, though it was a modest improvement instead of the ‘leaps and bounds’ I wanted to accomplish.  I’ll still treat it as a win though, several good hikes, bowhunted a new area over a dozen times (for me, that’s quite good, between shifting work schedules and taking care of the petting zoo around here) and even getting a couple of shots at a small buck.

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One of the quick photos I took from my stand in Camp Creek VPA Wildlife Management Area.

We managed to get a night of bowfishing in with TreeTop, and had a lot of fun at West Point that night.

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We lost Brody this year, which still hurts enough that I haven’t been able to go back and edit the post for typos and grammatical errors.  I don’t know if I ever will, every time I try to scroll back through the posts to link something for somebody, I try very hard to scroll past that post quickly.  He meant a lot to me.

I’m in the early ‘kind of’ planning stages to go backpacking while it’s still cold weather here in Georgia: I’m from the frozen north, I like thirty degree weather a heck of lot better than ninety degree weather, and I want to make some use of it while I can.  I haven’t been on a backpacking trip since Minister Creek Trail in Pennsylvania around 1990, so it’s been quite a long time. I dug an old frame pack I have been toting around for decades out of the garage and after really looking at it for a few minutes, scratched my head and told my wife “I don’t think I’ve every used this pack. The last time I did a backpacking trip, I used my pack with a metal frame. This is a polymer framed pack.”  And I honestly think that at some point in the mid 1990’s, I purchased this pack for a trip that never happened, but I’m stymied as to when or where I purchased it.  It’s nice, so I might as well put it to use.  I’m not sure where I’ll go at this point, I was looking at the Chattahoochee National Forest, but the parts of it I’m really familiar with are not really the ‘walk into the woods and camp’ part, unless you like nearly vertical hiking, however there is part of the Appalachian Trail up there that has a good reputation for being a hike and camp area, so I might try that.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year.

About two weeks ago, I received a text from a friend ‘Call me as soon as you get a chance!’  I thought something was wrong, somebody was seriously ill or worse.

No, he just wanted to tell me about a spot I could hunt less than ten miles from my house, which was a surprise.

Two days later, I was in the woods at that location, and I have to say, it LOOKS fantastic, however I’ve only seen two does so far, and while there is a lot of deer sign on the ground, it’s very chaotic, no real ‘this is the main trail’ or ‘this is the bottleneck between bedding and feeding areas.  It looks, to me, like the deer are wandering in from all directions when they want a few acorns.

I’ll keep at it though, lots of good looking trees to climb in my Summit.

I’ve also decided to start using a bicycle phone mount in the stand – that’s the red-and-black device on the rail in the photo below – the four corners are built-in rubber bands that go over the corners of the phone, much better for control and not having to figure out where to put it if a deer shows up while I’m reading something, because it’ll already be in the mount. (There are lots of different versions of these, I think this one was $10 on Amazon.)

 

I’ve been obsessing over Steven Rinella’s Meat Eater series on NetFlix for a few months.  I don’t care for most of the hunting TV shows that are currently in production: the pacing, music, Overly Out There Product Placement, and to me, the fact that if you watch and listen closely, a lot of the shows are on private hunting properties that the average hunter could only afford to visit after winning the lottery.

Meat Eater is almost exactly the opposite.  I’ve only watched seasons five and six, those being the two on NetFlix, and I can’t purchase the series on DVD, because it’s not offered on DVD.  (Note to self – check the cost of adding a DVR to pick up other episodes from broadcasts.)  In the two seasons I’ve watched, I don’t think he ever says the word ‘Vortex,’ which is the spotting scope, binocular, and rifle scope brand he uses, but he doesn’t need to. Between the Vortex hats and seeing the equipment, you know that it’s his preferred (or sponsored) brand. The same with all of the products in the show, really.  Now I know on broadcasts, the channel adds ‘This segment of Meat Eater is brought to you by…’ but that’s not in the actual episode.  The music is RIGHT, the production value is excellent, and he brings a different kind of feel to the hunting and fishing he does, because he really is in it for the MEAT.  There are episodes where he is after an exceptional specimen, like the mule deer hunt with Callahan in central Idaho, but even then, he’s after the meat, and that’s what gets taken care of first.

One of the episodes is a pronghorn hunt on BLM land, ‘Lobster of the Prairie: Wyoming Antelope,’  and that made me start looking into hunting pronghorn on public land.

The first thing I noticed, repeated on a dozen forums and published articles on Pronghorn hunting, is to beware of ‘guided’ hunts, because they are typically going to be a lot of money for somebody to drive you around until you spot antelope.  Which you can do yourself, without adding $1,800 of cost to the experience.  But I just started researching this in the last few days, and as usual, from the outside it looks like it will take longer to decipher the regulations than it will to get to Wyoming, and that’s a 28 hour drive for me. (Atlanta to Casper, Wyoming)

We’ll see what happens – just starting to work a budget up for the trip, if I’m driving it, would start with roughly $800 in gasoline at today’s prices.  Around $350 for the license (including doe tags), plus food costs, and lodging.  My original thought was ‘camp, plenty of campgrounds near Casper’ but the wife wants to go, and I made the mistake of pointing out that several of the forums I read noted that there is a great public and private land area just half an hour outside of Casper, and that the person I was reading had stayed in a hotel, so add however many days in a hotel to the bill and it’s probably inching closer to $3,000.  Add boarding the dogs and having the cats looked after for the ten days, and now we’re getting closer to $4,000…. you get the idea.

So I’ll START looking into it now, we’ll see if I manage it before I retire.  (Which is years away yet.)

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One of my father’s pronghorn mounts from 40+ years ago.

Wow, I did NOT realize how long I’d gone without posting an update. I’ve done several hikes, been at the NRA Annual Meeting, done some bowfishing, and gone to Key West (curse you, Sea Urchin!) since my turkey season post.

Rather than blather on and on, I’ll just build a quick photo gallery.  No, that isn’t me getting married, it’s my youngest sister-in-law, I’m the fat guy in the hat, the Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses in the beach photo. So, here are some shots from the NRA show, bowfishing with Treetop Archery, Key West, something you should avoid stepping on, because you’ll end up in urgent care getting spines pulled out of your foot.

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That’s ‘5’ as in ‘5 years now, and counting.’  I’m not done this year, but at this point, I’ve started thinking about turkey hunting more in terms of ‘how far am I going to hike with my Remington 1100 today?’

I hit Paulding Forest both days last weekend, Saturday I hunted north of highway 278, Sunday I headed south of the highway.  I didn’t hear a bird on Saturday, but I did find a couple of sets of tracks and dust wallows.  I also  practiced with my handheld GPS: I’ve had the unit for years (it’s a Garmin eTrex about eight years old,) but never really used it or studied how to use it properly, so shame on me for not learning how to use a good piece of gear.  I also took my Remington 1100, a pair of VERY CHEAP decoys, a slate-style call and water.

Saturday, I followed the WMA ranger road for roughly a mile, calling softly every few minutes to see if I could get a gobble, with no luck.  At the end of that particular road, I hiked out to a point where I could sit and call into the bottom.

Nothing.

After an hour and a half, I used the GPS to navigate back to the truck using the most direct route.  I had started my fitness app on the phone when I left the truck, and paused it every time I stopped, at the end of going up and down all of those hollows, my fitness app told me I burned 2,190 calories.  My legs told me they wanted a divorce. (If you don’t know me personally, I look like the result of Sasquatch going on an all pizza diet for a decade. Yes, I can probably curl an economy car, but anyone who can sprint would easily get away if I was chasing them. 🙂 )

So, I consulted with my Paulding Forest WMA expert, and he said ‘you look tired.’ *insert drumroll here* – Just kidding, he said to scout SOUTH of 278 because the hunting pressure is much lighter on that side of the highway.   So Sunday, that’s where I hunted.

After finding a WMA marker (which is somewhat difficult in places), near a small power line, I decided to pop out of the truck and walk into the woods for a bit.

I would like to point out, both days I entered the woods after dawn – I like to get into the woods an hour BEFORE dawn, but when I don’t know a location, I don’t like taking the risk of an injury, or screwing up somebody else’s hunt, or even ending up on the wrong side of a property line.  Being safe, courteous, and legal is more important to me than what time I get in the woods.

So the power line was a small one, single pole, maybe three actual cables, it doesn’t show up on the WMA maps I printed, and it wasn’t what we think of as a power line cut here in Georgia, which are usually large enough to park an aircraft carrier inside of without touching the trees on either side.  I started walking down the hill, and immediately found wildlife.

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Just after taking the photograph, I heard a gobble, and my heart started thumping.  Working quickly and quietly, I moved to a bend in the cut and set up my hen and jake decoys, then found a patch of thorn bushes to sit behind where I could see and shoot if I had the opportunity.

I hit my slate call with a few clucks, and three gobblers responded.  Three.  One across the road behind the strip of woods behind me, one down the hollow that was a fair distance away, and one that sounded remarkably close.  I waited forever (three or four minutes) and hit the call again, more aggressively this time, and again, three gobblers responded immediately.  I should point out that my skill at using a turkey call is minimal.  As in ‘I can get it to make noises that sound turkey-like.’  For all I know, what the gobblers were hearing is ‘Bug water tree rock! Fat leaf dirt dirt!’ instead of ‘Hey big boys!’

Based on an hour and a half of calling, and an hour and fifteen minutes of gobblers responding, I’m pretty sure I confused all three of the birds to no end.  Yes, I’m sure these weren’t other hunters, the chances of three other hunters ONLY using gobble calls, in those three directions, are very slight.

An hour after the gobblers stopped responding, I decided to pick up the decoys and wander down the hollow to see if I could either tease a gobble after moving a few hundred yards, or locate some tracks or other game sign for information.  I did find some interesting spots in the little creek bottom, but no sign of turkey or other critters.

But there’s always next week.

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Well, I finally managed to get in the woods during turkey season.  I planned to go to Paulding Forest WMA (the closest WMA to my home) last Saturday, and the plan was simple – get up at the same time I get up for work (4:50 am or so), jump in the truck and head to an area of the WMA that I know well enough to walk in with just a headlamp and set up my decoys.

Life happened, and I had to stay at the house until 8 am.  By the time I drove up to Paulding, there was a truck everywhere I wanted to park, so I thought ‘why not go on to JL Lester WMA?’  I had never been there, it’s not that far away from Paulding Forest, and may not have as many hunters.

So I drove the extra half hour or so, found the WMA, spent another fifteen minutes explaining to a nice older man that ‘open to fishing’ meant ‘open to fishing,’ then headed into the WMA.  I found an area that looked good, set up my decoys and called, but never did hear or see anything.

Keep in mind: it was probably 10am by the time I put decoys out, my expectations were not high.  So after an hour and a half, I picked up my decoys and just started hiking the WMA to take a look around.  I probably spent an hour to an hour and a half meandering around slowly and quietly, looking at deer tracks (many), looking for turkey sign (none in the bit I walked), and in general just scouting about.

It was a nice relaxing afternoon.

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The red circle is the area I scouted – lots of deer sign, almost no turkey sign that morning.

Next time, I think I’ll follow the creek up to the bigger lake to the east.

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I spent an hour or so somewhat shed hunting – I say ‘somewhat,’ because where I was shed hunting, I couldn’t actually pick the sheds up and bring them home.  That’s OK, I just wanted to FIND them more than have them.  I was looking in the area I spotted this buck last November:

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I didn’t find any sheds, but I’m pretty sure I spotted him sneaking away from a patch of woods I was walking through, I couldn’t get a decent look at him, but the body language, low and steady, but still fast, with no tail flagging, just made me think that it was a mature, confident buck, just sneaking out of his patch.

I found multiple tree stands, in an area where there shouldn’t be any tree stands, and game trails that looked like the trails you find in a pasture that has been used for dairy cows for decades.

It was a fun walk, the area was much more open than the photos I took in November would lead one to believe.

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I may head back, and hopefully this time, I’ll remember my camera.