Monday, December 15, 2008

Deer Hunting Season Wrap-Up

Now that deer hunting season is wrapping up, I fear I might go into a deep depression. I need to take up a new hobby, perhaps goose hunting is in the cards. Or maybe I’ll save myself the embarrassment and try out some new outdoor escapades.

In the months to come I’m hoping to embark on some wild winter adventures such as skijoring (getting pulled on skis by a sled dog), snowmobiling, snowshoeing and steelhead fishing. You’ll have to check back after the holidays to see what crazy things I decide to do!

As for now, I’m going to leave you with some more great hunting photos and a great video of a buck right in a backyard in Palermo.

My husband, Manasseh, with the 7 point he shot out of the same tree stand as I shot my deer.

A huge 8 point shot by Darren Moore in Happy Valley.

I couldn't post the following two photos without sharing the awesome story behind them!
Zack Jadus, 14 years old, killed this huge buck right in the town of Oswego while hunting with his grandfather, Paul Cooper, also of Oswego. The deer was killed on November 29, only FOUR days after his 14th birthday. Talk about a great hunter! Imagine receiving your license and four days later killing a monster like this!? It took me three years to kill a little 4 point! (Can you all sense the jealousy... I think I need to start hunting in Oswego!!)

Zack’s 14 point has a 20.5 inch spread, whose rack scored roughly 160. The buck weighed 165 lbs. dressed. Zack killed this buck with an Ithaca .12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun. I found this photo because it was featured in the Syracuse newspaper, the Post Standard. I just had to get the story and post it on my site! Good job Zack!

Zack Jadus with his first kill, a 14 point shot in Oswego.

Zack pictured with his buck and his grandfather, Paul Cooper.

Here is the video of the nice buck wandering around the backyards of Palermo!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Can’t Kill a Deer with the Wrong Ammunition...

I should know… I tried.

It was this past Saturday, opening day of regular season in the southern zone. I woke up bright and early from my turbulent slumber (I tossed and turned all night, dreaming of my chance to shoot a trophy buck, or a doe, or Bambi… people like me can’t be picky), and I headed out to my special tree stand! This tree stand has brought good fortune to all who have sat in it, with one exception… me.

Cell phone pictures from my tree stand:

It was about 56 degrees outside, which is really warm for November, but it was raining all morning. I tried to text my hunting partner, Ashleigh, to see if she had any luck in her stand when I realized that if I kept texting, the rain would probably ruin my phone. I was going to have to hunt the old-fashioned way… without a cell phone.

I waited all morning and about ten minutes before I decided to head back home, I looked up and saw a doe walking 75 yards away in the field. As I mentioned before, I was not in the position to be picky, and with a doe tag to fill I went for it!

I zeroed in on the doe with my scope, turned the safety off, and BANG! I was so confident in my shot; I didn’t shake while I was shooting and I didn’t feel myself jerk the gun so I assumed I had hit it. In my excitement I forgot about the whole concept of re-loading and shooting again, so I just watched while the doe took off, stopped to look around for a second, and then disappeared into the woods.

Now I’m no expert (clearly) but I’ve seen enough hunting shows to know how deer react when they’ve been hit. This deer did the complete opposite. All of my confidence in my kill disappeared.

During the process of tracking the doe I realized that I should have paid better attention to where the doe was standing when I shot, and I also realized that you shouldn’t drive a four-wheeler through tall weeds in unknown territory because you might drive straight into a beaver dam in a little swamp. Oops.

After concluding that I missed, my husband and I decided to sight my gun in again to make sure I did it right the first time. I shot a couple of times… missed. My husband shot... missed. The marks from the bullets were no where to be found on the targets. Something was seriously wrong with my gun. After a half an hour of shooting at huge pieces of cardboard and completely missing my husband figured it out.

I was shooting .270 bullets out of my .30-06 rifle.

If you’re like me and completely clueless, let me break it down for you. Bullets for a .270 are smaller than bullets for a .30-06. So I was shooting bullets that were too small, causing them to vibrate and spin through the barrel of my gun, which in turn shot the bullets out in every direction but straight. The mystery is this: how did I get my hands on .270 ammunition when nobody at my house owns a .270 rifle? Some things will never be explained.

On the bright side of things, it wasn’t my fault that I missed!!

After that disaster of a morning I was confident that with the correct ammunition, I would have a much better chance at hitting a deer!

20 minutes after getting back into my tree stand for the afternoon I saw three doe cross in front of me. I know that I could have taken my pick but I had the rest of the night so I waited for something better to come along. When the doe had just about exited the field I saw another deer coming from my right. It looked like another doe. I found it in my scope and just about fell out of the tree stand… it had a rack!

It was a buck!

It looked like a spike horn which was good enough for me! This time I wasn’t going to mess around. I lined it up in my scope, made some awful pitiful noise that sounded nothing like a deer, but more like a person grunting because they ate too much at the Ponderosa buffet, and I shot! The buck ran across the field, stopped, changed direction and ran four steps back towards me, and dropped!!!

Little Buck Down!!!

I can’t even put into words the excitement I felt at that moment! After searching through the weeds I found my buck! I had hit him right in the kill zone. He turned out to be a small four point. I couldn’t believe it; I killed a buck on opening day! I was in all my glory… until my husband showed up and reminded me that I had to be the one to gut the deer. 45 minutes of arguing and protesting later, I finished gutting it. I am now an official deer hunter!

This is how I found him! Check out my awesome shot!

Posing on the four-wheeler with my buck and my Remington .30-06!

My sister's boyfriend (the bad fisherman from a previous post) with his first kill, a bigger 4 point.

Next year, these are the bucks I'm going to kill:

Mike Lavenia shot this 15 point buck in Redfield. Photo courtesy of Lake Ontario Outdoors.

Rob Godfrey of Hannibal with his 10 point buck

Monday, November 10, 2008

Outdoor Adventures with Jess & Ash

I decided that I’m going to be on a hunting television show someday, regardless of the fact that I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to accomplish this. I also decided that my friend Ashleigh will be my co-star, since she is the only girl I know who also likes to hunt and fish, and when we’re together hilarity ensues.

Since I don’t have my own show (yet) I decided to feature Ashleigh on some of my blog posts. I’m going to call these posts “Outdoor Adventures with Jess & Ash”.

We had our first outdoor adventure together last night: bow hunting on my property. I was the hunter and Ashleigh was the one-woman video camera crew. Might I add that in order to be the camerawoman you should put charged batteries in your video camera, a fact Ashleigh overlooked. So unfortunately, the only thing we had taped was my introduction to our imaginary hunting show. (Don’t worry - we learned our lesson so on our next hunt we will have video footage to post on here!)

It was the perfect night for a hunt, it was warm and there was no wind (I’m not sure if those are perfect conditions for actually seeing deer, but it was perfect for me so I didn’t get cold!). We set up my brand new pop-up ground blind in the corner of a field and unpacked the equipment: Bow, check; release, check; arrows, check; doe urine, oops I forgot that; binoculars, double oops; and a grunt call or doe bleat; triple oops. So aside for forgetting half of my hunting equipment, I was ready!

I am surprisingly very quiet when I hunt (perhaps because there is no one to talk to) and that hasn’t gotten me too far this season, so Ashleigh and I tried a different approach – we talked the whole time.

We sat in the blind for over and hour, chatting away, and seeing absolutely nothing. It was getting colder out so I put my bow down, put my gloves back on and made myself more comfortable. All of a sudden three heads bounded out of the forest to our left. As the three doe leaped through the field in front of us I excitedly threw my gloves off and picked up my bow just to have the arrow fall off. Then of course we couldn’t stop giggling which is never good while trying to remain incognito.

After regaining our composure, we silently watched the doe play in the field. They were never close enough for me to shoot. I can only accurately shoot up to 30-40 yards. Not to mention the weeds were so high I could barely see them, something I didn’t take into account when I set the blind up. We sadly watched the doe disappear to our right and then waited, hoping a buck might be following behind them.


Still Nothing.

Finally it was just about dark and we had given up. Ashleigh made some comment along the lines of “well the last three deer showed up when we weren’t paying attention, so we’ll probably see some more when we start packing up”.

I bet you can’t guess what happened.

I followed Ashleigh out of the blind making all sorts of noise when I practically ran into her; she was frozen and staring up the hill in front of us. There, about 70 yards away on the horizon line stood two more grazing doe. I crept back into the blind and grabbed my bow. When I walked out I saw the doe head into the woods. I figured I would be able to get a shot into the clearing in the woods if I walked further up the hill. On our way up I saw movement. The two doe had come back out of the woods and were standing right in front of us… only 50 yards away!! We stopped dead in our tracks, standing face to face with the deer assuming they would jump away any second.

They walked CLOSER to us!

Ashleigh and I stood frozen for a good five minutes just waiting to see what the deer would do. When they put their heads down we took a couple more steps then stopped as they looked up. This went on for another five minutes. These deer were either really brave or well aware of my shooting accuracy.

All I needed was to close up 10 more yards to shoot. We got a little closer and finally they spooked and ran into the woods. Our hunt was over, it was now dark out, but my heart was still racing. Finally all Ashleigh and I could do was laugh. It was the most interesting hunt we’ve ever been on. That is the kind of thing that makes hunting completely worth it, even if I don’t ever kill one thing (although that would give me something to brag about).

The fun didn’t stop there.

We had to fold up the pop-up ground blind. This proved to be slightly more difficult than popping it up. After ten minutes of Ashleigh reading me the directions while I attacked the blind from all angles, we gave up. Ashleigh walked the blind to the car and then we drove home… while we held the blind on top of the car’s roof with our hands. And so ends the first post of Outdoor Adventures with Jess & Ash.

Ashleigh dragging the ground blind to the car. I would have taken a photo of us with the blind on top of the car, but since I was driving, that would have been bad.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pheasant Hunting at Deer Creek Shooting Preserve

Last week I had the awesome privilege to go Pheasant hunting on the Deer Creek Shooting Preserve with fellow blogger Spider Rybaak (to read his post from the hunt, click here). We were guided by Deer Creek Owner, Stan Oullette. The Deer Creek Shooting Preserve is located on Route 3 just outside of Port Ontario in Pulaski. Deer Creek also has hunts for chucker partridge, quail, turkey and deer. For more information on Deer Creek call Stan at 315-298-3730.

The only hunting I’ve done that has involved birds of flight is waterfowl hunting, and my record is about 1 out of 891,238 birds. If you count the birds I’ve hit with my car then that jumps the ratio up to about 5 out of 891,238 birds. When Spider invited me to go pheasant hunting I was excited but lacking optimism. I just figured it was another chance to fail at something and have not only one blog written about it, but TWO!

The questions I asked before the hunt were, “Do I need to wear full camo, what kind of choke do I need on my shotgun, and do I need to bring my license?” The answers were, “Full camo is not necessary, use a modified choke, and no, licenses are not needed on private hunting preserves.” Another interesting fact about private hunting preserves is that younger hunters are allowed. Deer Creek allows youth hunts for ages 10 and up.

The day of the hunt I was extremely nervous, not just because of the number of missed shots I was anticipating, but because of the chance I might end up shooting Spider or Stan, or with my luck, both. (*Note: Spider and Stan are both alive and well. I did not shoot either of them or myself so you can read the rest of this post without being worried).

I had no idea what to expect as the hunt began. Stan’s amazing bird dog, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named Belle, was already off on her way to find a pheasant. She had a bell on her collar and as soon as the bell stopped we knew she was on point. I figured we would walk around for a good half hour before Belle found her prey, but I was wrong. Within five minutes, only about 100 yards away from the Deer Creek Motel, she was on point. I had no idea which way the bird would fly up, and in which direction it would take off. I am used to watching waterfowl that are already in the sky flying in a straight line. Without a second thought a bird swooped up right in front of my eyes and flew out straight in front of me. I hesitated and then let off my first shot and hit the bird! It all happened so fast but when I put the gun down I heard Spider’s enthusiastic hoots and hollers and I knew that I had killed my first pheasant… on my FIRST TRY! Perhaps the curse was finally broken!

Belle sped off to hunt down the pheasant, wounded or not, she was going to find it. She did, and behold - the first kill of a pheasant hunting novice.

I’ll admit, taking down the first pheasant might have gone to my head a little. I was knocked back off my high horse when I missed the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one… I hit one more pheasant total but I didn’t kill it. That’s where Stan came in. He’s got a great shot and if anyone he guides misses or injures the bird, he shoots him down so the bird doesn’t suffer.

The element of surprise was my biggest downfall. Every time a pheasant shot out of the brush I jumped a mile then I had to regain my composure before shooting. Even when I saw Belle on point, and told myself over and over, “get ready, the bird is going to fly out any second” I still jumped like a ten-year-old watching a bad Freddy Krueger movie.

After two hours in the field we called it a day. Everyone had things to do and I don’t know how much more missing I could have taken. In total we killed five pheasants. (I should use the word “we” lightly since Stan did most of the work). Stan was generous and cleaned the pheasants for me. I heard that pheasants are delicious which means I have to learn how to cook them, and if you think I’m bad at hunting, you should taste my cooking.

Stan, guiding me through his preserve.

Belle, carrying back a hit pheasant

Stan and Me, holding up a couple of pheasants during our hunt

Spider, Stan and Belle taking a break on the gorgeous Deer Creek property

Showing off all five pheasants, pretending I killed them all :)

A successful hunt!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fishing the Douglaston Salmon Run

My guide, Gary Edwards, showing me where the fish are (the fish that I can't seem to catch)

A few weeks ago I was asked to come take photos of an outdoor writers conference at the Douglaston Salmon Run, a fishing preserve in Pulaski on the Salmon River. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I showed up after work wearing my dress clothes. Within five minutes I was told that I was going fishing. It was goodbye heels and hello waders!

I was paired with fishing guide, Gary Edwards. Gary’s fishing background is quite impressive. He and his wife Robin used to own a lodge in Port Ontario where Gary guided for many years. He set an I.G.F.A. (International Game Fish Association) World Record on a fly rod when he landed a 22lb. 9oz. Chinook salmon on 2 lb. test tippet. He has written featured stories for Fly Fisherman, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field & Stream, and has been featured in over 9 nationwide TV Shows. You may have seen Gary and Robin on the PBS series, Vacations on the Fly, which the couple co-hosted and produced. The program aired nationally averaging 22 million viewers. They helped couples and families plan great vacation getaways revolving around some of the best fly fishing opportunities in the world. If you check out their website by clicking here, you can read about their trip to the Salmon River!

Although Gary and Robin now reside in Pennsylvania where they are preserve managers of Graystones Preserve, they still come back to the Salmon River for the best fly fishing. Gary's son, Jason Edwards, stayed true to his father’s roots - he is currently the manager of Douglaston Salmon Run.

After hearing Gary’s background I was rather intimidated, but Gary proved to be an awesome guide! He taught me a new technique - the “chuck-n-duck”, which isn’t conventional fly casting. After the trip I looked it up and found that it’s a popular technique around the Great Lakes tributaries. According to one definition, “in chuck-n-duck fishing, a weight is cast and the fly line and fly are pulled along, similar to spin fishing (except the line does not come off a reel), whereas in traditional fly fishing, the line is cast and the fly goes along for the ride.”

After spending a good three hours chucking-n-ducking (Gary spent more time ducking), I left empty handed. Gary had a bit more luck; he caught a nice 28lb. female King Salmon. On the bright side of things, I learned that being a girl on the river is a real advantage, because when we asked to fish a couple of occupied spots, the men quickly obliged.

Gary and his 28lb. King Salmon

The best part of the day was that I finally fished the Douglaston, something I always wanted to try. It is probably one of the cleanest and most beautiful sections of the Salmon River and everyone that fishes it is polite.

The following day I had numerous people report to me that everyone fishing on the Douglaston was catching fish left and right (talk about rubbing salt in the wound). On the positive side I now have a theory: I’m not a bad fisherwoman, I just have bad timing!

Just a note:

I browsed youtube and I typed in Douglaston Salmon Run or DSR and many people have posted their own personal videos about their fishing trips. There are a couple that I liked that I am linking to below:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Fall is My Favorite Season

My sister, Alycia, showing off her 4 point from last season (2007).

Gorgeous foliage, crunching leaves, dressing up for Halloween and HUNTING SEASON! Regardless of the fact that I seem to be a failure, it doesn’t stop me from getting excited every time I think about sitting in a tree stand. Each new season has bigger bucks, more ducks and more chances to get the perfect shot.

Lately I’ve been preparing for hunting season. I'll admit, when I should have been target practicing with my bow and guns all summer I sometimes became pre-occupied with getting a tan. Still, I feel a lot more prepared this year. Below I’m going to list everything I’ve done to prepare for the exhilarating months ahead!

1. I FINALLY took my bow hunter’s safety course and got my bow hunter’s license. I already knew how to shoot my bow and I was annoyed that I had to sit through hours of what seemed like “irrelevant” information, but it turned out that I learned a lot. Local sportsman clubs offer bow hunter, hunter and trapper education year round. Check out the list on our website or the DEC website to see a list of hunter safety courses offered in Oswego County.

2. I started shooting my bow about two months ago to build up accuracy and most importantly, arm strength. I am a weakling so I want to make sure I’ll be able to pull back my bow when a buck is standing in front of me! I usually shoot my bow from the ground, standing up about 20 – 30 yards away from the target, which is an unrealistic situation when hunting. Sometimes I was creative as you can tell from the photos below.

3. Besides playing “Extreme Buck Hunter” at some of the local food and drink establishments, I honed up on my shooting skills by practicing with my rifle. I am fortunate to have a lot of property so we have shooting challenges in our backyard. I seem to excel at hitting the target when it’s immobile and doesn’t have antlers.

4. I went trap shooting for the first time! Our friend is a member of the Albion Fish and Game Club in Altmar. Five of us, all guys except me, went trap shooting and during the first set I came in second place; during the second set I came in dead last (I was just giving the guys a chance). I am not a member of a sportsman’s club yet, but I plan to join one in the spring. Click here to view a list of sportsman clubs in Oswego County.

The guys, trying to figure out how I came in second place!

    5. I washed my hunting clothes in Scent-Lok detergent! Last year I made the mistake of going out in the woods with clothes that were just hanging inside my house. The bigger bucks are smart and last year I wasn’t. I’m not making that mistake this year. I am also following a great tip from someone: after washing your clothes in a no-scent product, place them in a sealable bag or bin with pine needles and other natural things from outside. Hopefully if I follow this tip it will increase my odds!

    6. I bought my sporting licenses. You must have your hunting tags on you when you hunt. I bought the super sportsman license at Woody’s Tackle on Route 3 in Pulaski. It includes bear tags which I don’t think I will be needing anytime soon, because with my luck I would probably become the bear’s lunch, and because you can’t legally hunt bear in Oswego County.

    Duck hunting season opens this weekend and if I bag two ducks I’ll be doubling what I bagged last year. Soon after, deer hunting begins! Click here to see the exact dates for hunting in Oswego County.

    If you get some great photos of your hunts this year, please email them to me at and I’ll post them on my blog!

    A video clip of our trap shooting at the Albion Fish and Game Club.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Spotlight on Local Craftsman: Bob Green

    Volney Resident, Bob Green, standing next to his Adirondack Guide Boat

    Two weeks ago I met with Bob Green, an Oswego County resident, to take photos of his handcrafted replica canoes and Adirondack guide boat. I assumed I would just be taking a few photos, learning a little bit about the craft, and I’d be on my way. Well it just shows you what happens when you assume! I ended up staying for over an hour and learning more about making replica canoes and boats than I imagined… but I was fascinated by every minute of it! The only thing I would change about my visit with Bob was my choice of footwear. I wore heels. (Just imagine wearing heels while you help move heavy canoes around… not the best idea) The best part about Bob’s canoes is that they actually WORK. He takes his canoes and boats out in the water all of the time, making his projects even more worthwhile. If I even attempted to create my own canoe, it would fall apart before it made it in the water (that’s because everything I make uses hot glue or duct tape).

    In the 1950’s Bob read an article in “Popular Mechanics” about how to build your own redwood strip canoe. Two months later his canoe was complete and what had started as a trial project became a lifetime hobby. Bob has finished five canoes and a replica Adirondack guide boat, which is his favorite. While he doesn’t sell his replicas, he does share his craft with others. He often does demonstrations for area youth and senior camping programs.

    Bob demonstrating how he shapes the canoes

    A scanned photo of Bob giving a demonstration to local youth

    Now I’m not much of a canoe builder, so talk of hulls, ribs and gunnels left me slightly confused. The best way to show Bob’s masterpieces is through photos. I have posted a photo of each canoe/boat below with details. It is amazing to have somebody with such talent right in our backyard.

    The Adirondack Guide Boat:

    •Replica of 1905 Virginia Model
    •16 ft. long, Cedar strip construction
    •52 ribs – made from spruce strips that are steam bent and laminated
    •Cherry seats, gunnels and decks
    •Cedar hull
    •Pine bottom board
    •Seats made from woven synthetic cane
    •Outside has fiberglass and 3 coats of epoxy & 3 coats of marine UV varnish
    •Inside of boat has 4 coats of marine UV varnish
    •Accent strips are made out of spruce and black walnut for color and design
    •Handmade yoke on boat is for carrying the canoe
    •Took ten months to complete
    •Original Adirondack guide boat worth around $20,000.
    •Replica boat worth around $10,000 - $15,000

    Wabanakee Lake Canoe:

    Photo of Bob and his grandson, Nate, taking the Wabanakee out on a Lake

    •16 ft. long
    •Ash trim/gunnels
    •Cherry decks
    •Took approx. 200 - 300 hours to complete
    •Very stable on the water
    •This canoe is the second Wabankee Lake Canoe he built, the first one was ruined because he left it out in the snow

    Wee-vera canoes:

    Details on the left Wee-vera canoe: made of cedar strips and the seats are ash and black walnut with woven synthetic cane

    Details on the right Wee-vera canoe: made of cedar strips with cherry trim. Seats are cherry with woven rawhide

    Bob taking one of his Wee-veras out on a lake.

    •Variation of the “Wee-lassie” which originated in Canton, NY.
    •Tough to build because hull has such a compound curve.
    •Rides nicely in water.
    •The decks were shorter in the original plans, he chose to make them longer.
    •Left canoe is made of cedar strips and the seats are ash and black walnut with woven synthetic cane.
    •Right canoe is made of cedar strips with cherry trim. Seats are cherry with woven rawhide.

    Peterborough Cottage Canoe:

    •16 ft. long
    •Cedar strip
    •Dark strips are from the heart of the trunk and light strips are from the outer wood of the trunk
    •30" wide
    •Gunnels and decks are made from black walnut

    Canoe Golf:

    You may be thinking, "What the heck is Canoe Golf!?" Well that's what I thought when Bob first mentioned it. Then he showed me this following photo from one of his canoe books. Apparently it was a popular game a long time ago. I guess you stand in your canoe and attempt to hit the ball that is on a floating piece of wood. I'm very disappointed that this game is no longer played because it looks like a blast! So get ready, next summer I am going to round up some people and we are going to play Canoe golf... and you can bet it will be posted about on my blog (if you're lucky we may even dress up like the girls in the photo)!