Thursday, September 24, 2009

One Busy Robin Hood

The Fall semester is officially underway, and I can't say I've ever been busier. My days are plagued with a lot of reading and research for various authors, playwrights, and literary criticisms. Although my time has been relatively limited, I've done my best to forge my way into the outdoors and prepare for this year's bow season. A couple weeks ago, I set up my old compound bow and took to the woods for some practice. At this time, I hadn't received a new arrow rest for my current compound. I started at ten yards and slowly moved myself back to twenty yards...then to thirty. After getting my thirty yard pin sighted in, I decided to take a few more shots from that distance. On my last arrow, I noticed it sounded a little odd when it hit the target. I approached my target to see my first Robin Hood shot!

I've been shooting for 18 years, and this is my first successful Robin Hood. I've busted a lot of nocks and a lot of arrows, but never have I been able to manage hitting exactly in the same place twice. This shot was also right in the bullseye, making it even more rewarding--it wasn't just a fluke or a bad shot.

Right now, I'm getting geared up for October 1st. I have a new NAP Quicktune two prong rest on my current bow and have been shooting well the past week. I assume this weekend I'll get the broadheads sighted in, check on another treestand, and start rounding up the camouflage clothing.

I hope everyone else is getting geared up for a successful Fall! Good luck to everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Feed, Or Not To Feed? That is the Question...

While doing my daily run-through of the blogs I follow, I came across an article written by Rick at Whitetail Woods. His article entitled Deer Feeders, Can be Worth Added Cost particularly caught my eye. Rick featured a tri-pod style feeder he encountered while at a friends house. He did a great job giving specifications of the product. While the post was aesthetically flawless, I couldn't help but think about the implications of using a feeder, and perhaps the "ethical" dilemma that comes with it. Since I couldn't get the subject out of my mind, I decided to create a post to further explore this issue.

I'd like to start this off with a short story. When I started turkey hunting, I learned that a semi-distant relative hunted land very close to the land I was hunting. Every year, he harvested a large Eastern Turkey. After hunting hard and having little luck, I wondered how the heck he managed to do so well every year. I eventually found out his secret. Prior to and during the hunting season, he would take a bucket of corn and dump it in front of his favorite place to sit in the woods. Every day, equipped with a new bucket of corn, he took to the woods. He never had to wait long to pick the bird of his choice to harvest.

The BIG questions here: Is this cheating? Is baiting, in general, a dishonest way to hunt?

At the time, I'll admit I was furious at the idea of baiting or feeding. What he was doing took no skill. He never had to call or stalk the turkeys. He just had to sit there and wait. It wouldn't matter if he spooked the birds off--they would be back for more corn, and he would be waiting for them (another BIG question: Is this really hunting?)

My initial reaction is this:
Is this cheating? Yes. By placing a food source in an area and intentionally sitting over it for the purpose of harvesting animals gives the hunter an unfair advantage over the game they are after.

I wanted to push the issue a little further, and the first comment on Rick's post helps me do so. "Native" writes:

Great thing that feeders are starting to lose their undeserved stigma Rick!
It is so funny how (here in California) a person will disparage the use of a
feeder, but will go right out the very next morning to hunt over a Barley Field.
Same thing No? The other reality is the fact that we must supplement the food
source for today's wild life. Just as with Factory Farming for people, so must
it be with our wild life because (There just ain't enough land to support us all
anymore without doing so)

"Native" brings up a very good point. What is the difference between placing your stand in the corner of a cornfield and throwing out a bucket of corn every day? Either way, the hunter is taking advantage of the fact that animals have to eat. If placing the stand in the corner of a corn field is considered smart for understanding that game will travel to and from this location, then using a bucket corn or any food supplement should also make the hunter "smart" for doing so...not a cheater.

One might suggest that there is still a clear difference between using a feeder or food plot and sitting on the edge of a corn field: a feeder or food plot has one specific purpose--to attract animals. A corn or bean field might be considered a more "natural" food source for animals because they don't exist for wild game. The farmer who grows the field has an agenda for the crops, and that agenda doesn't include the feeding of wild animals. Because of this difference, one could also suggest the use of food plots or feeders should be rendered illegal because they are meant specifically for the attraction of wild game. While this solution seems logical for a "fair" hunt, it just can't happen for one simple reason: wildlife/habitat restoration. Every year, tons of money is spent to increase habitat for animals. This is exactly the same as creating a food plot or using a feeder. For example, a farmer patronizes the Conservation Reserve Program or CRP in a field on their land to increase habitat for pheasants. The farmer also plans to hunt the pheasants when a decent population exists in the CRP. Creating habitat, even in the name of hunting, is seen as a noble cause. No one has a problem with this. But what is the difference between giving animals a home and giving them food? Creating a CRP field and feeding game can both be done in the name of hunting, and both benefit the wild game and hunters. If we allow increased habitat for hunting, we must allow feeders, food plots, and salt blocks.

Another approach to the matter: Feeders, food plots, and salt blocks are all methods of attracting wild game to a hunting area. Hunters use many means of attracting animals all the time. Scents, calls, and decoys are used every season to attract game and get them within shooting range. If we removed the use of food sources to attract game, it seems only logical to remove all forms of attracting during the season.

One must also keep in mind that not all regions have good food sources to begin with. While Iowa has lush corn fields that keep animals well fed all year, locations in the southern United States don't have this rich vegetation. Feeders and food plots supplement the health of the animals, as well as create hunting opportunities.

Some hunting scenarios require a food source for a successful harvest of game. Bear hunting is often done by baiting. While this doesn't seem like "hunting," it is often the only way to even see a bear and make a clean shot.

While I don't think feeders and food plots can logically be taken out of the hunting scene, I will not use them in my own hunting. Hunting itself is determined by the individual. Personally, I like to make my hunts as challenging as possible. If someone else defines hunting by results and chooses to do whatever it takes to get results, so be it. The same debate can be placed on many aspects of hunting: using a blind vs. not using a blind...using a modern bow vs. a traditional bow...hunting with a bow vs. hunting with a gun...the list is endless. In the end, hunting is what you make of it.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know--I'm curious to hear various opinions on the subject.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Own Archery Crisis

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to take some time and get outside to shoot my bow. The sun was shining, and the temperature wasn't too high. It seemed like the best time to get out and do some late Summer practice. After my third round of shooting, I returned to my bow to find the prongs of my arrow rest were pointed backwards!! At first, I wasn't all too upset about the ordeal. I assumed the screw that kept the prongs in place was loose. It would be a slight setback and require some fine tuning, but I knew I could grit my teeth and work my way through it.

After closer inspection, however, I noticed this...

The screw wasn't was gone! The screw played an intricate part in And as luck would have it, I had to be shooting in tall grass--there was no finding the lost screw. I tried to put in another screw...only to find that the hole has been stripped!

My frustration level is at an all-time high for this bow. I decided at the beginning of the Summer that I would learn how to set up and tune my own bow. This was a reaction to the lack of local bow technicians. I was being forced to drive long distances to a larger outfitter for any tech-work. I was also becoming very dissatisfied with the quality of their work. With this in mind, I purchased a bow square, serving material, and other small odds and ends with the mind set to teach myself the art of tuning. I've learned the hard way that tuning itself is a very difficult task, especially if you don't have all the correct tools to get the job done.

For the last month and a half, I've been tinkering around with my bow. I've been working rather diligently on getting the "fishtail" flight out of my arrows. At the beginning of this practice, my arrows were finally flying straight...making this malfunction just that much worse.

I have a new arrow rest on the way, but I am not necessarily looking forward to the set-up and tuning process. The Iowa bow season starts in a matter of weeks, and I definitely don't want to lose time getting my arrows to fly straight. If you happen to have any helpful set-up/tuning tips, please leave a comment--it will be greatly appreciated!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Art

Tuesday this week marked the first day of classes for my final year of college. My hope was to acquire a Communications and Theatre endorsement to supplement my degree in English and Secondary Education, but I'm afraid I don't have enough time to complete it. Although I don't have the opportunity to finish the endorsement, I still wanted to take a few Speech and Theatre courses to possibly increase my odds of getting a job after graduation. Although I won't be "certified," I'll still have a little experience in the field. One of my classes this semester is Scene Design. A large component of this class requires regularly using a sketch pad to build artistic skills that can be used for scene and costume renderings.

I still have the sketchbook I used in high school art class, so I decided to take a gander through it before I started my new sketches. It has been 8 years since I've seen this sketch book, and I was a little surprised at the quality of my sketches.

Here are a few sketches I found while flipping through the pages:

The class in high school required sketching on a regular basis, so I often used my left hand as a model for my sketches out of convenience--it was always something I had with me. I could kick open my sketchbook at any free moment and continue my sketch.

Then I came across my pride and joy...

This was an endeavor I took on towards the end of my art career in high school. I've always been a huge fan of Larry Zach, an amazing wildlife artist. This was my first (and sadly, last) solid work I've done in outdoor art. The rigors of high school athletics put my art aside at the time, and the constant business of college life has left me little time over the years to continue it. The Scene Design class, however, is forcing me back into the sketchbook, which isn't at all a bad thing. I'm actually looking forward to dust off some of my dormant skills and possibly pursue more outdoor and wildlife pieces.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Operation Technology: Success!!

I've been a heavy patron of for some time now. I've always enjoyed the easy access of finding just about any video I want. One thing I've never participated in, but have been thinking about for quite a while, is making videos and putting them on to share on my blog. The blog itself has given me a great way to post my photos, but the internet has more to offer than just pictures. I want to take advantage of various media styles, and videos are certainly a nice way to broadcast my experiences.

Here is a very short test clip of me catching a Brook Trout from my last fly fishing trip in Northeast Iowa!

I realize it isn't all that interesting of a clip, but it has opened up an entire new world to my outdoor experiences. I can't wait to create more videos this Fall. I have an interesting editing program on my computer, so I hope to create some polished videos of my hunting endeavors. I'm really excited...this is going to be AWESOME!!