Showing posts with label My Outdoorsy Side. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Outdoorsy Side. Show all posts

Nutrolls And Gatorade And Hunting

One of the ways I bonded with my dad growing up was through him teaching me how to hunt.

Hunting is something that has been tradition in my family for generations, and it started with necessity.  Hunting is an inexpensive way to put meat in our freezer.  My grandpa started hunting when he was a teenager for that very reason, and he and his brother taught their children how to hunt, and they taught theirs, and I guess that's where it became a tradition.  We still hunt today for mainly of the same reasons - to fill the freezer being high up on the list.

Another reason we value hunting so much, contradictory as it may seem to those who don't understand it, is because of a love for God's creation.  We love getting out in nature, seeing the sunrise, hearing which birds wake up first, finding tracks of animals we aren't even trying to find.  We do it because it's a great way to get out there, and we do it for the sake of conservation.  Many people don't realize how many animals would starve and die over the winter if their populations are too high at the start of it.  It's why there is a Division Of Wildlife - to study these things, and help keep ecosystems in proper balance.

It always irks me to see how hunters are sometimes portrayed by authors or producers who don't have a clue.  I've put books down because of a portrayal of hunters as careless idiots with guns who just want to kill something.  The ignorance is stunning to me.  The hunters I know, who I've grown up with, are some of the most careful and most respectful people you will meet with regards to firearms and nature.

When I was twelve my dad took me hunting for the first time.  I had a cow elk tag, and he woke me up early and we made the trek out into the woods.  Snow crunched under my feet, and my lungs burned with the cold morning air at the exertion.  I hung on to the straps on my dad's backpack so he could help haul me up the hill.

Every now and then he would spot a track, sometimes elk, but I remember specifically seeing mountain lion and bear tracks too.  He would whisper and point them out to me, and I'd whisper how cool it was and grin.

I got an elk on that first day of my first hunt.  It was a very exciting moment, and a particularly large elk, so it was great to contribute to the family's food like that.  But my favorite part was grinning at my dad after a successful hunt and seeing he was grinning back at me, and resting together on the snow as we split a Nutroll candy bar and drank a jug of Gatorade.

You just don't even know how good a Nutroll and Gatorade can taste until you've worked so hard for them.  I went hunting with my dad all through my growing up years, and a Nutroll and Gatorade was always our victory meal.

My dad taught Derek how to hunt, and now Derek provides for our family too through hunting, and he's planning to take our kids when they are big enough.  So the tradition continues.

I haven't been hunting since I've had kids.  It was too hard to go since we'd have to find a babysitter.  But as I watch the leaves turn and the frost returning this year, I'm feeling that itch to get out there again (not to mention the meat would help a lot in feeding five hungry kids).

Today, I don't buy Nutrolls or Gatorade.  I just can't imagine snacking on them in my living room or car.  They will forever be reserved for me as the fuel I'll pull out of my backpack, as I'm sitting on a rock in the brisk fall air after a hard morning of hunting.  That's how they taste best.

Gone Fishing (And 3 Reasons You Should Go)

I have a vague memory of my parents taking us fishing once when I was a kid.  My dad's cousin knew a spot.  I remember walking there in the evening, mosquitos hanging in the air, the purple shadows and blue water.

I don't remember if we caught anything that time, but I remember the feeling of being out there at night, hoping we would catch something.

That fishing experience is largely eclipsed in my memory, however, by a Canadian fishing trip when I was twelve.  We drove for days up to Canada, then took a float plane to finally arrive at a little fishing lodge.  Sportsman's Lodge, it was called.  We woke up early, put on our rain gear, and ate Red River hot cereal for breakfast.  Then our native guides, Cecil and Roger, took us out on the water in two boats.

Now that was fishing.

We caught so many fish we had to throw some back before lunch each day.  When the sun was high, Cecil would pull our boat up onto some sandy island, start a fire, and cook up the walleye we caught.  If you have never had fresh-fried wallet on a Canadian shoreline, have you really fished? I've never tasted any other fish that was so good.

I still think of that trip and hope that I can take my kids on a fishing trip like that before they are grown.  

But in the meantime, we try to fish down here, where it's a lot harder to catch something.

Wyatt has been dying to go fishing for a couple summers now.  This was a classic case of saying "We'll try to go soon," until the summer was over and we realized we still hadn't gone.

We finally decided last Sunday was the day.  We packed up some fishing gear, packed a lunch, and went out to attempt fishing in a bright blue sky, in the middle of the day.  Actually not the best fishing strategy,  at all.  But it was just for fun, after all.

The wind was blowing something terrible, and the water was low at the lake.  But we trudged down to the shore anyway.  The kids tore off their shoes and stuck their toes in the water while Derek threaded the fishing line.  We were casting into the wind, the waves were lapping at the shore, and we only got one small nibble.  But we were outside in the sunshine, watching the pelicans having more luck than we did, playing in the sand, enjoying the quiet.

It was pretty magical.

If you've never tried going fishing, you really should give it a go.  Here are a few reasons to go fishing with your family:

1.  You really don't need that much gear.

We did most of our fishing with a $13 fishing pole, taking turns.  We also had to purchase a fishing license, fishing line and bait, and we had a net we had previously, but that was it.  I don't think fishing has to be too expensive, especially starting out.  You don't need top-of-the-line gear to have fun. It's more about the experience, in my opinion.

2.  It's a great way to get outside.

Fishing is a really relaxing way to enjoy nature.  You only have to walk as far as you decide, and then the rest of the time you are sitting or standing on the shore, so there is minimal physical exertion.  But you still get to see the beauty of God's creation up close and personal.  I think it's one of the easiest ways to do something "outdoorsy", especially with kids.  Fishing from the shore is even better with a family, because if the kids get bored, they can run around  a bit.

3. You'll make memories even if you don't catch anything.

Whether you catch anything or not, you still had a chance to enjoy nature and just be together in the outdoors.  And those near misses can be just as bonding as catching something.  All the way home our kids bemoaned the fact that some fish nibbled on our line and stole our bait, and I know they'll remember that.

Have you been fishing lately or ever?  Did you like it?

Hunting Today

Warning: If you're a vegetarian or have any animal-rights-activist leanings, you may not appreciate this post. But it's my blog, and this is my life, and I'm going to talk about it - no nasty comments please, you're not going to change my mind, and I don't expect to change yours. Just so long as we're clear.

As you read this, I will be on top of a mountain, searching the landscape for some deer.

Those of you who have been following for a while will know that I hunt. My family has always hunted, and I grew up with it. It's in my blood. It's wonderful to just get out into the fresh air and enjoy the Lord's creation, and one way my family does that is by hunting.

We hunt because we enjoy it, we love the outdoors and wildlife, and we're conservationists - hunting is a huge part of conservation.

Another large reason why we hunt is because we live off the meat all year long. I don't ever buy ground beef or steaks from the store - if we eat a dish that calls for beef, we use elk or deer meat instead. I can't tell you how much money it saves, plus the meat is lean and organic - can't get much healthier, really. Derek and I are really hoping to contribute some meat to the family freezer this year.

So, as I lug my sluggish pregnant body up the hill, I'll be shivering in the crisp air, feeling the wind on my face, and enjoying the time with my hubby. And hopefully being successful in my venture.

If you're so inclined, pray for a blessed hunt for me, whether I get something or not. Thank you. If I get any good pictures, I'll do a recap post like I did last year.

P.S. If you're curious, here are more posts on hunting: Memories With Dad and Fun Time, No Buck.

Fun Time, No Buck

I guess the deer are safe for one more year.

Yep, I didn't get anything this year. But I was so close! Here's how my last morning of hunting went (for those of you who are against hunting, please no nasty comments - you aren't going to change my mind, and I don't expect to change yours, so let's just peacefully ignore that controversy, shall we?).

I had a tag for a buck, and for some odd reason buck deer are scarce this year. On Saturday all we saw were female deer.

But then on Saturday night it started snowing. It snowed about six or seven inches and bright and early on Sunday (well, actually dark and early) we set out hoping to see some deer.

We hiked for about a half hour, and suddenly we saw a group of deer ahead of us. We couldn't tell if there were any bucks in the group at first, but I dropped down to a sitting position and found them in my scope. I saw that one of the deer was a buck and I got my cross hairs on him.

However, the wind was blowing snow in our faces, and my shooting eye was watering like a faucet. I wasn't totally steady on the deer, so I had to pause and blink a few times. But before I knew it he had turned and walked out of the line of fire, and the deer wandered off around the hill.

We decided to go after them and after we went a little farther we saw them gathered on a distant hill. They were a little too far away to shoot, so we crawled about a hundred yards. Through six inches of snow. With the wind blowing in our faces.

Let me paint a picture for you of my appearance. I'm in my camouflage, my big clunky hunting boots, rifle slung over my shoulder, covered with snow, Elmer Fudd style hat pulled down low on my forehead, and my supposedly waterproof mascara running under my eyes. Yeah. Not very glamorous. Thankfully Derek still thought I looked pretty cute.

Anyway, the deer didn't even see us coming! I felt very stealthy. We got close enough that I could have shot one of them, but the buck was nowhere to be found.
Finally the deer started to suspect something and wandered over the ridge of the hill. I was shocked they actually weren't more spooked - I don't think they really knew where we were. That doesn't usually happen - deer have amazing hearing and senses of smell, and they usually see us before we see them, but somehow we snuck pretty close before they left. And wouldn't you know, right as the deer decide they don't want to stick around anymore the buck comes prancing out from behind a tree. I knew he must have been up there somewhere. Rats, that tree.

Those people that think hunting isn't a fair fight for the deer have obviously never acutally tried to sneak up on one.

It's okay though, because it was a pretty exciting morning, and my wonderful hunting guide (Derek) and I had a great time just being outside and chasing deer together, even if I didn't get one this year! Here are some pictures that I took just so you guys could see!

Derek and me about to head out on Saturday morning!

My wonderful guide!

Me, in the cold snow. Thankfully you can't see the remnants of running mascara in this picture!

On the way back Derek stepped into some clean snow, fell backward, and proceeded to make a snowman!

Then I did the same thing. We were laughing pretty hard!

We had a pretty fun time! And that's what makes it all worthwhile.

Busy, Busy

We had a very busy weekend! I'm usually better at commenting on all of your blog posts, but I fell behind this weekend, just because I was gone for most of it.

On Saturday I had a wonderful visit with a friend that I haven't seen in a while, and I finally got a bag of candy corn! Then I realized that this may have to be my first and last bag for this year - I ate practically half the bag myself. And candy corn is pretty much pure sugar. I don't even want to know the glycemic load on those things.

I bought a cute dress and belt for a wedding that Derek and I are going to in a couple weeks - I didn't technically need a new dress, but my other dresses didn't seem right for an evening wedding in October. It's really cute, and the dress was only ten bucks - the belt actually cost me more than the dress did! I'll try to post pictures sometime here.

On Sunday we ended up not going to church - it was one of those weird weeks where my family couldn't go to church, and Derek and I were going to go by ourselves, but then Derek got an offer for some cheap wood for the winter. He's been worried about getting enough to last us all winter, so he went on Sunday morning to get wood and we missed church this week. I hate it when that happens.

Anyway, Derek and I did our Bible study together instead and then went over to my parent's house for a little while. Derek and my dad watched football, and then at halftime we all went outside and shot our rifles. I need to get in practice for hunting season - the past couple years I keep missing when I get a shot at something. So I want to try to get in more practice before my season starts this year, and maybe I'll actually hit something this time!

After we finished shooting we enjoyed some delicious hamburgers for dinner, then headed down to town for Derek's hockey game. His games are usually really late at night and I can't go when they are that late, because I have to wake up at five in the morning for work. But this week his game started at 8:20 PM, so I got to watch part of it before I had to go home and go to bed. I got a few good pictures! I left at the end of the second period, but later I was wishing I had stayed, because Derek's team came back to win it in the third period and Derek made a goal. And I missed it! I really wish his games were earlier in the evening.

My parents came to the game too!

Derek is the one behind the ref.

That's my honey - number 99!

Derek is the one in front of everyone! He did great!

Anyway, there's my weekend in a nutshell. This week will be crazy again, because Derek has a training in town for work, so we'll be staying at a hotel tonight and tomorrow night. Then I have one night at home on Thursday before I head out on Friday morning with my sister to visit a friend who lives on the east side of the state. We'll be gone until Saturday night, then my brother and sister-in-law are having a party on Sunday after church, so this may be a slow blogging week! I'll try to check in at least once though.

Have a great week everyone!

Scary Bugs, Wet Air, and Subtle Colors - My Description of the East Coast

Hello from North Carolina, soon to be Virginia! Derek and I are on the road to Washington DC today, and amazingly I do have consistent coverage way out here (it shouldn't surprise me, but for some reason it does), so I thought I'd write a post since we have another three and a half hours until we get to DC. We're planning on getting there and setting out to hit one of the Smithsonian museums today before we head back to our hotel this evening.

We spent the last couple days with Derek's brother and sister-in-law, and we have had a lovely time so far. Yesterday we went to the beach. I've never seen the Atlantic ocean before (not technically), so it was exciting to me to go see it. It struck me how different the colors are when you are near the Atlantic, as opposed to the Rocky Mountains where we live. The colors back home, of the landscape and man-made structures, are just deeper and richer. At the beach all the colors are subtle and soft. The ocean is a gray/blue; the sand is beige; the ground cover is pale green; the buildings are either painted white or pale colors, or if they are just wood it's a gray weathered wood; and even the sky is a more pale blue because of the hazy humidity. Those of you who live on the east coast will laugh at me for being amazed by this, but I live no where near any ocean or beach, and like I said, the middle west part of the country in the Rocky Mountains generally has deeper, vibrant colors. I felt like my outfit almost clashed with the landscape at the beach. I should have worn more beachy colors.

I loved experiencing the Atlantic ocean beach atmosphere though. It was very serene, and alot of the descriptions that I've read in books suddenly came to life.

We enjoyed lunch in Beauport, which a town right near the ocean, and we walked along the street and looked in gift shops. Then we went a little further inland to dinner with Derek's sister-in-law's family. Afterward we walked through the woods and they are so dense in North Carolina. Dense and dark. With humidity. It felt very ominous and spooky (almost like a haunted wood), but in a romantic, down-home kind of way.

There are trees everywhere. And it's foggy as I write. It looks just like all those Civil War movies. I realize now how miserable the Civil War must have been, because can you imagine fighting a war in this humidity? They were probably more used to it, but they had to get pretty wet and sweaty, even if they were accustomed to it.

Once again, you probably will all laugh at me for being so impressed by some of this simple stuff, but I've never been to the East coast (except for Florida, but that's different), and the climate and atmosphere is just so different in this part of the country. I'm enjoying the new experience with Derek.

Allow me to show my mountain girl, never-been-east-of-the-Mississippi side - the air is so wet. It's like I'm breathing water. Sometimes I feel suffocated, like I can't get a good breath of nice, dry, thin air! I like thin air. It goes in and out easier.

Secondly, they have fuzzy red ants here! I was horrified. They are terrifying! I think if it bit me I would probably die. Something that scary-looking has to be poisonous.

Thirdly, all the bugs in the woods were scary. I could hear them all buzzing and making noise in the trees when we walked through the woods, and a spider, or something like one, got on my leg. I was tough and just brushed it off, because I didn't want to reveal my vulnerable side to our hosts, but goodness, I wanted to shriek! But I didn't. I can be as tough as the rest of them. I've been told I have an amazing poker face.

Fourthly, it's amazing how everyone out here isn't fat, because there sure is alot of sweet tea. If I drank that much sugar every day, I could be three hundred pounds. Maybe they've built up a natural immunity.

That's all for now. I'll try to post some pictures the next time I get a chance!

Gatorade, Beef Jerky, and Paydays - Memories with Dad

This Father's Day weekend I find myself reminiscing about times I've spent with my dad.

My dad has always tried to spend time with each of us kids, as a family and individually. Many times that has involved the activity of hunting. My dad is a brilliant outdoorsman, and it's very rare that he goes a hunting season without shooting something.

(Yes, people, I said hunting! I am a hunter, thanks to my wonderful dad! If any of you are animal rights activists - hey, this is my blog, and this is a unapologetic account of my hunting memories with my dad. We do it because we love the outdoors, and we love wildlife; we're conservationists, and hunting is a big part of that. You've been fore-warned; and no nasty comments please, you're not going to change my mind. Now that we have that out of the way . . .)

When I was twelve my dad took me and my brother and sister to a hunter's safety class to get our hutner's safety cards. The class was held in this little log building in a tiny town near our home. The same game warden who had taught my dad hunter's safety was still teaching the class. I remember sitting with my dad in the class as the game warden spoke, and as we watched videos, preparing for that all-important test that would determine whether I could apply for a tag that fall. The test came, and thakfully we all passed - the warden made my dad take it again too, just for fun, and my dad got 100% just like the first time he took it.

I have many good memories of hunting with my dad. We would wake up at some ungodly hour and I'd get all bundled up in my winter clothes and camo, and strap my fanny pack containing my tag, chapstick and other essentials around my waste. We'd drive to wherever we were going, and then most times we'd hop out of the truck and climb onto my dad's four-wheeler and drive even further in. At some point we'd have to leave the four-wheeler and start walking. My dad was always in great shape by the time my season rolled around, because his seasons were always first - so I'd get tired much more easily, and he'd let me hold on to his backpack straps and he helped pull me up the hill. He always made sure to stop several times and let me rest. My lungs certainly would get to burning at times.

When I think of the best moments of my hunting seasons, I always think of two seperate things that were likely to occur at some point every year. The first is when we'd be waiting for the sun to come up so I could shoot at something, and my dad would say a quick prayer that the Lord would give us a successful hunt that day. He'd grab my gloved hand and we'd bow our heads as my dad said the prayer. There was always something special about praying out there in the stillness while the sun snuck up over the hill, before the birds had even started chirping.

The second best moment would have to be when I actually killed something. It didn't always happen every year, but when it did, it was one of the most exciting things that have ever happened to me. We'd run through the snow or brush, my ears still ringing from the shot, scanning the ground for the elk or deer that I had aimed at. When we'd find it, my dad would give out a big shout, I would laugh and grin ear to ear, and he'd call out a "Thank you, Lord!". My adreneline would be pumping at this point, so I'd usually have to peel off a layer of coats or two, and then we'd get about the business of field dressing the animal and quartering it for the treck back to our vehicle. After the dirty work was done (which I always found rather fascinating; remember, I'm a biology nerd), we'd break out the Gatorade, beef jerky, and Paydays and eat our snack. I don't think I've tasted anything that could quite compare with Gatorade, beef jerky, and Paydays after a successful hunt.

There's nothing quite like getting outdoors and doing something with your dad. It was very bonding, even when I didn't end up getting anything some years. I think what made it special was that this was something that I could do with just my dad and me - it was enjoyable, and my dad was able to teach me so much about nature and wildlife and how to be a successful hunter. It's that legacy, the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Just thinking about it is making me anxious for this year's hunting season!

I am extremely blessed to have a dad that invested time in us kids like that. Not only did he take us hunting and on many other family outdoor activities (almost every weekend in the summer), but he was always there for me, to give me a hug when I was little and the other kids had made fun of me; or in more recent years, when a few days after Derek and I were engaged I started crying because things were changing, and I knew they would never be quite the same. To hear my dad say that he and my mom would always be my parents, and they'd always be there for me, meant more than I could say. The support from my parents and those words from my dad gave me that little bit of extra courage that I needed to face all those changes head-on.

Yes, the Lord certainly blessed me with a wonderful dad, and I don't think I could find a better one. Thank you, Daddy, for everything you've done for us, and Happy Father's Day! I love you very much.

Love, Callie
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