Monday, August 5, 2019

Another Mass Shooting

The TV was littered with more horrible news of another mentally ill person shooting innocent people as they shopped and enjoyed some time with their friends.

It is a sad situation, no matter how you look at it, or what side of the aisle you are on. When evil strikes, everyone looses.

It is in times like these that we seek to place blame. It is natural, I believe it is part of the human condition to try and explain the unexplained. To try and make sense of things we cannot make sense of. Some have said the blame is on the semi-auto rifle. Others are blaming the gun laws, the 2nd Amendment, some idiots are blaming the President as if he walked into that store and started firing the rifle.

The reality is that blame is a scapegoat. Blame is an excuse, when what we need are reasons.
I have told my children for years, there is a big difference between and excuse and a reason. We need to quit looking for an excuse for the killing of Americans, and look for the reasons.

I am not an expert by any definition, but I do have an opinion. First and foremost, we didn't get to this point in our history over night, and we will not fix it over night. We got here one generation at a time.

When a generation of Americans refused to stand on principle and straddled a fence on morals. It began. When common decency was replaced with chips on shoulders and when "leaders" used people for personal monetary gain it began.

As a person of faith, I believe that healing begins with God. A relationship with Jesus Christ will change the hearts of these calloused people and begin to soften the pain they feel.

We have become an "anything goes" society. And then we wonder why some things go awry. We promote behavior that is contrary to decency and values, and are shocked when someone actually behaves in a contrary manner. We cheer things that only a few years ago were decried as not only taboo, but mentally ill.

We support the murder of full term babies by doctors who carry out the wishes of mothers who don't want the responsibility of rearing a child. Here's an idea. If you don't want the responsibility of a baby, - close your legs!

Then we are appalled when someone walks into a store and shoots people. Do you see the irony?

There is no excuse for these things, but there are reasons. The reason we kill babies is because we embraced evil as "choice".

The reason people drive airplanes into buildings is because they are evil. The reason people walk into stores, churches or any other place and shoot others is because of evil.

These killings are not the fault of President Trump, Nancy Pilosi or even the fault of the guns. Just as it wasn't American Airlines fault when those planes were flown into the World Trade centers, it isn't the guns fault. It is the fault of evil.

Blame is an easy way to push responsibility onto others, rather than accepting it where it belongs. Blame belongs with me, and it belongs with you. All of us who have sat silently by and not done anything to change the atmosphere of our country. Every Christian who has not rallied with others to change the culture of sin and evil - we are to blame. We as Christians, and as Americans need to stop pointing fingers and fold our hands in prayer. We should accept the responsibility to stop evil, even if it is legal!

We need to unite together. Baptist, Wesleyan's, Methodists, and Lutherans. Catholics and Non-denominational people all need to unite in one voice and cry out to God to save our country.

Mass shootings are similar to airplane crashes. They stir the soul because of the randomness and sheer number of people impacted at once. Truth be told, Chicago and New York see more killings every day than occurred in El Paso.  But those don't bother us.

638,000 babies are killed every year by doctors. That is 1,748 babies are killed EVERY DAY and there is no outcry.

It is all bad. It is all evil. It is all senseless.

Excuses do not have solutions only more excuses. Reasons have solutions.

The solution?

Often the simplest solution is the best. And in this case it is simple indeed. The best solution to the evil happening in our country? Is a relationship with your God. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ will heal our land and will soften the cold hearts of the self absorbed and the ill.

Let's pray that the leaders of our churches, and our government will commit themselves to a relationship with Jesus Christ and to behaving like Godly people and lead our nation to the throne of Grace.

Let's all commit to praying for God to heal our land and to touch the heart of every American.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Opening Day is Closing In

Here in South Carolina, we are only 13 days away from opening day of deer season in some parts of the state. The traditional August 15th opening has a long history. Going back to the colonial period, August 15 has been the opening day of deer season in the coastal plain for centuries. No one really knows why this date was selected, but for the low country those traditions die hard.

Many of the areas where August 15 is the opening day also has a long tradition of running deer with dogs. The coastal plain of South Carolina is loaded with thick, impenetrable swamps these deer call home. And for much of the area, the dogs are used to push the deer from these thick confines and in front of waiting hunters.

Typically large blocks of timber are selected with standing hunters armed with shotguns and buckshot only are positioned to intercept deer trying to escape. The dogs are tuned loose on the opposite side of the block of timber and the deer attempt to escape the dogs who are chasing them.

Deer usually choose one of three methods to escape the dogs. They run very far ahead and try and escape often a half mile or more from the dogs. Others will stay right in front of the dogs and circle and circle and cross paths confusing the dogs scent trail and escape that manner and still others simply double back on the dogs and escape. Many of the biggest bucks are killed in this manner while they are doubling back on the dogs.

Having done this a few times, I must admit, it isn't my cup of tea. For me, it just sounds like a bunch of dogs barking in the woods.  I don't understand the excitement others gain from this kind of hunting. But I fully support their right to do so, as long as its legal.

Other hunters on opening day will pour into ag fields in the afternoons and wait for bucks to emerge for evening feeding. Summer patterns for bucks are very predictable. They have had no pressure for six or seven months and they are easy to pattern. Setting up downwind along a soy bean field almost feels like cheating it is so easy. Scouting these bucks a few weeks in advance will confirm they enter the field at the same location at the same time every day. Positioning your stand within range makes for a quick and easy kill.

For hunters who do not have the benefit of food plots or ag. fields, resorting to intercepting bucks along travel corridors is best during the early season while they are still in bachelor groups.

For one thing, you cannot hunt the early season and ward off the hordes of mosquito's without a ThermaCell. This one appliance has changed hunting forever. It actually allows you to hunt the early season and not cover yourself up with deet. It completely eliminates the need for bug spray.

The biggest challenge in hunting bucks in August is dealing with the heat. With temperatures often in triple digits with high humidity. Staying comfortable in stand is a real challenge. Several years ago, I began taking a small battery fan with me to the deer stand. This small 8" fan uses two "D" batteries and will run for 40+ hours on a set of batteries. The gentle breeze this fan makes is a game changer. It allows me to tolerate the heat. I have not noticed any ill effects from the fan. I have had deer within feet of the fan and they do not seem alarmed at all.

Another tip, is to bring frozen bottles of water with you. Placing the frozen bottle on your neck will lower your overall body temperature and help keep you cool. It also give you good cold water to drink as it melts.

Lastly, I cannot emphasize enough is hunting the wind. If you go into your stand in early season with the wrong wind, you are educating your herd quickly.

Personally, I avoid this part of the season. It is just too hot for me. I will wait until mid September into October to go. When the temperatures begin to drop, I get excited and want to go every day! I just cannot enjoy it when it is so hot.

But for those who cannot wait. Get out there and get after them. Keep us posted on how it goes and get you some velvet bucks.

Best of luck.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

South Carolina Bans Natural Urine and Attractants for Whitetail Deer

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources announced that effective immediately, natural deer urine and attractants that use any natural bodily fluids from whitetail deer or other cervids is illegal for use in the state.

The Language is strong and the intent is to make an effort to prevent the introduction and spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from entering into the deer herd.

The statement reads in part;

"It is illegal to possess or use, for the purpose of hunting or scouting any wild animal in S.C., any substance or material that contains or purports to contain any excretion collected from a cervid (deer) including urine, feces, blood, gland oil, or other bodily fluid. This does not prohibit the use of synthetic products or substances collected by a hunter from a deer legally harvested in S.C."

The alert goes on to state some of the reasoning for this, which is sound science. Let's face it, natural deer urine is collected from captive deer herds that are within fences. If any of these deer are infected with CWD, it is likely its urine or other bodily fluids will become mixed with the others, thus increasing the chance of spreading the disease.

CWD is a devastating disease that has attacked vigorously herds of elk and deer all across the nation. Some hot beds of the disease have been discovered in Wisconsin and Illinois among others. And while little is known about the disease, this is known; "CWD is a transmissible or contagious, always fatal, neurological disease."

Already there is an outcry from hunters within SC who have already purchased deer urine for the upcoming season. Some are crying for refunds, others are dismissing this action by the SCDNR as crying wolf. Most of those who are in such a camp are not concerned about the overall health of the deer herd in SC, rather they just want to kill deer when and how they want.

CWD is a disease that is confusing science in some ways, the spread is somewhat a mystery, other than the fact that it is highly contagious among deer. How is it transferred is believed to be through bodily fluids. Saliva, urine, feces, and sexual secretions. This knowledge has led to states with CWD to take some drastic measures to attempt to stop or prevent the spread of the disease.

Recently, Michigan, a state with a long history of legal b
aiting for deer, banned all baiting for deer within the state in an attempt to stop the disease. The thought is that bait congregates deer to specific areas, and the bait can become contaminated from one deer, and spread within the herd. Other states are considering this measure as well.

Will the SCDNR go that far in the coming years? It is a possibility for sure, this first step into preventing the spread of the disease through the legislation of urine and other bodily fluids that are natural is a step in the right direction. Let's face it, we killed deer long before it became popular to use deer urine and sexual attractants. We can again.

Personally, I seldom use any deer scents while deer hunting. Other than the fox pee on my boot while walking into my stand, I have never seen any benefit from the deer urine and other scents as an attractant. I know others have, and they will have to adapt.

I support and applaud the SCDNR for taking these measures to attempt to try and prevent this disease from ever reaching our borders. Let's hope all ethical hunters abide by these rules and support the stance of the SCDNR.

If you want to read the story in its entirety, follow the link here to the release.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The EVISCERATOR Broadhead A Total Game Changer

The Eviscerator
An all new design of Broadhead for the Hunter

           Are you tired of tracking your animals? Does following blood trails at night become a burden? Do your television fans complain because they cannot see the animal fall after the shot? Are you a terrible shot and need help killing animals you shoot? Look no further, the EVISCERATOR is here and will revolutionize how you hunt.  
          It wasn’t that long ago when broadhead brands were touting a 1” diameter cutting surface, then they began to grow to 1 ½”, 1 ¾” and now there are dozens that are over 2” of cutting surface. These larger cutting broadheads proudly announce large blood trails and fewer lost animals.  
          Well, today, we introduce a totally revolutionizing way of killing animals with a bow and arrow. No more are you going to have to kill the animal, follow a blood trail and recover your animal. No longer will it be necessary to field dress your buck. The all new advanced technology of the EVISCERATOR does it all for you!
          The engineers at Disembowel Inc. have designed a mechanical broadhead that will change the way you hunt. The ENVISCERATOR flies like a true field point but on impact releases 7 deadly razor blades that slice through your game with precision and tenacity. Each of the seven surgical steel blades are made of stainless steel and each one measure 9 inches long! Giving you a total of 49” of cutting surface! Your buck will not only die almost instantly, but the EVISCERATOR will disembowel him before he hits the ground! No more field dressing, no more bloody hands and smelly knives. The 49” of the EVISCERATOR does it all for you.
          To ensure the effectiveness of the broadheads, each of the broadheads in the three-pack are one-time use. The blades lock open permanently and cannot be retracted – even with a hammer! The magnesium, stainless steel and corrugated polymer cutting head begin the penetration before the seven blades are released. As the EVISCERATOR enters the animal, each blade is released in a precise order predetermined by the archer. using his smart phone. This precision release of the blades allows it to slice in the exact direction desired for the maximum disembowelment.
          Larger game will want a counterclockwise release, while smaller and thinned skinned game may prefer a clockwise release of the seven blades. This precise release angles are one of the many ways that separates the EVISCERATOR from the competition.
          Hunting with a bow and arrow will never be the same!
          Get your three pack of EVISCERATOR broadheads from a dealer near you for an unbelievable low price of $799.99. And not only be the envy of hunting camp, but put fear in every animal in the woods. 

Are Cell Game Cameras an Unfair Advantage?

As game cameras have gained popularity over the last decade or so, technology has increased from the old archaic battery draining cameras to cameras with battery life that lasts over 12 months and produce 14+ megapixel. The quality of the pictures and video are of the highest quality.

A few years ago, game cameras advanced to wireless technology where the camera takes a picture, and instantly sends the picture to your mobile device or computer. As this technology has grown, and the cell plans have gone down in price, more and more people have adapted to this technology.

Recently, some states have studied these cameras and determined they offer an unfair advantage to hunters and have begun to make them illegal to use. One case in point is a water hole in Arizona where a wildlife officer documented over 30 cell cameras on one water hole on public land. As pictures were taken hunters were flocking to the water hole.

Other incidents are of individuals who are looking for a particular buck, and when the buck finally appears, they ditch their job and head to the woods. DNR officers, conservation officials and wildlife biologists all agree that the use of cell game cameras offer an unfair advantage to the hunters.

What is the compromise? Hunters spend millions of dollars annually on game cameras and lately cell cameras. Both wireless providers and camera companies are making millions off of these cameras. But the question remains, do these offer an unfair advantage to hunters.

Many hunters who travel out of state to hunt, spend thousands of dollars on these hunts and many of them, (that I know personally) are setting up cameras in the spring to monitor game hundreds or thousands of miles away. Does this offer an unfair advantage? Or is it a good use of their time, to monitor areas before driving several days to arrive at their hunting land?

Are these cell cameras offering public land hunters opportunities they otherwise would not have had? In reality, when the picture is taken, and the hunters arrive can be many hours or even days apart. Yet some states are still saying the hunters are using technology to avoid fair chase.

Frankly I am not sure where I fall on this. I see both sides very well. But as an absentee landowner, I value the wireless cell cameras for security and monitoring. If I saw a buck, it would still take me a day to get there. I use them mostly as a security camera to monitor my gates, cabin, and access areas. But I also use them to monitor game. I guess, like a lot of things it is up to you do determine where you fall on this topic. If it is legal in your area, and you want to use it? Use it. If you deem it is an unfair advantage then, by all means don't use them. But be certain before you spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on cell game cameras, that they are legal to use in your country, state or province.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Court Rules in Favor of Crow Nation

The Supreme Court ruled, somewhat surprisingly to uphold an 1868 treaty that allows members of the Crow Indian reservation to hunt "unoccupied land" with no restrictions. The 4-3 ruling was split along party lines with one exception Gorsuch sided with the more liberal side of the court.

The Safari Club, Wyoming game and fish and other groups that regulate hunting and support hunting rights opposed the treaty and felt that the treaty should be ignored.

NOTE: The Treaty of Laramie with the Crow May 7, 1868 can be found here.

As I read this news, I was struck with two concerns. My first concern was for the Crow people and all other Native Americans who have been denied, abused, and restricted by our federal government ever since white men first landed on the continent. I have an admitted proclivity to stand with Native Americans and to defend their sanctity of culture and way of life that was stolen from them by our government.

For generations, the federal government entered into treaties with different tribes and nations with no intent of keeping these treaties. False promises, hopeful insinuations and out right lies were told to Native Nations in a guise to get their land. While promising excellent land and living conditions as long as they all would relocate to reservations. A government term for concentrations camps.

Here,  a member of the Crow people exercised his right under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and was arrested, persecuted, and find for doing what the federal government told him he was allowed to do under the treaty agreement. Once again, showing the government had no intention of allowing the Crow Nation to exercise its rights under the treaty.

If the state of Wyoming, feels the treaty is unjust, request the Bureau of Indian Affairs investigate and re-negotiate the treaty. Otherwise, follow its mandates and allow all of the benefits of the treaty to be upheld.

Does the Court upholding this treaty put wildlife in jeopardy? Probably not. Did the treaty in 1868 put the Crow nation in jeopardy? Most likely. It is safe to say the US Government would never enter into a treaty that was one sided in the favor of the government.

It just seems, that with all of the mistreatment the government has historically contributed to the Native Americans, it seems fit and proper that this decisions should go in their favor.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

It Really is Possible

Several years ago, I was like a lot of outdoorsmen I know and felt that some of the big adventures I had always dreamed of were out of reach.

Buck killed in Illinois 2018
Being a working class man with a modest job and even more modest writing career, I always felt that hunting big game and upland birds was something relegated for the rich and the well off.

That was until I made the decision years ago to "try" and go on at least one hunting trip or fishing trip every few years. My first real trip was to Pennsylvania to hunt whitetail deer. It was through the now defunct North American Hunting Club. They offered a unique to the time idea of "swap hunts". Where one hunter would offer hunting with him or her at their place in exchange for hunts at their your place. It was  great concept and it led to many awesome adventures.

Three trips to Pennsylvania for archery whitetail. A trip to Alaska for moose, and a trip to Texas for desert mule deer. All of these trips established friendships that opened even more opportunities to travel and hunt on a slim budget.

As an example, the Alaska moose hunt was the biggest and most expensive. But, I was able to save vacation days, and save money and the entire unguided three week moose hunt cost me - $1,400. You read that correctly. A $680 plane ticket and $400 license and the rest was food and misc expenses.

A 10 day trip to Idaho for mule deer a few years later cost all total - $1,100. Granted this is unguided on public land. But it was affordable and memorable.

On both of the hunts mentioned above, I was able to take an animal. I took my moose on the 9th day and the mule deer on the 6th day.

A trip to Texas for desert mule deer resulted in memories and friends made and a great experience. Same is true for elk in Colorado, three trips, no elk. But I have made great friends and learned a lot about hunting the Rockies.

This year, I have planned a pheasant hunt in South Dakota, a fly-in-fishing trip to Canada with Kashabowie Outposts, and if I get drawn for my Antelope tag- an antelope hunt in Wyoming.

I have come to learn that the biggest obstacle to taking big game or upland hunts is intimidation of the process. And it can be intimidating. But it doesn't have to be expensive or impossible. Here are some tips to making the trip of a lifetime come true.

1. Start with your budget. Set a budget and do not go over it. Surprisingly, in most cases your biggest expense is the hunting license and tag. Learn what those costs and then build your budget accordingly.
2. Select an animal and location.   This is especially true if the tags are lottery or over the counter. If you have to apply for a lottery tag, the process is daunting and can be difficult to manuver. We will do a full blog post on that shortly. I would recommend starting in places where over the counter tags are available.
3. Build a team of friends to share it with. It is amazing how sharing the expenses can help offset the burden of paying for a trip. Five of us driving to Colorado (30 hours in the truck!) is a lot less expensive than going alone and it adds to the experience. The fuel bill is split 5 ways, the food bill is split, and the work is shared.
4. Decide if you want to camp or stay in a hotel. This can really add to the expense, but also make it easier or more doable for some folks. I prefer to camp, it gets me closer to the hunting and the overall experience is enhanced by sleeping on a cot in the high country.
5. Plan for success. I have seen several hunters who take the trip and never expect to kill anything and then are overwhelmed when it happens and they don't know what to do to get the animal home. Plan for success. There are several options for success if driving. People haul freezers and generators to keep game fresh. You can have it processed and frozen for the return trip.
If flying, I have mailed my clothes home and checked the cooler with meat as luggage. I have also, done both. Mailed my clothes home and shipped meat home. But being prepared can save you a lot of money and headache.

The 7 day elk hunt in Colorado cost me $1,000. That was $618 for the tag and license and the rest in fuel and food.

It takes a lot of planning for sure, but many of these trips are very affordable and achievable if you plan it. Don't let your dream hunt or fishing trip pass you by because you feel you cannot afford it. Often it more possible than you realize.

Lastly, many years ago an elderly gentleman and I were discussing this topic and he instilled in me the premise - "don't let the fact that no one wants to go with you, stop you from going."
Granted it is cheaper and often more enjoyable if you have someone to share it with. But even when I cannot get someone to go with me, I do not let that stop me. Some of my best trips have been alone. And meeting the people along the way was the highlight of the experience.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Dreams Do Come True

As a young lad growing up in rural South Carolina, my adventures were, how do you say, small. Wandering through the cow pasture to the creek was about the extent of it. But when I got out of sight of our house, I "felt" like I was in the wilderness. My imagination could only take me so far.

Then on day, I grabbed an outdoor magazine from the local country store. I am not sure the title, but I remember reading story after story of men climbing mountains for sheep. Wading streams for steelhead, and flying into remote lakes to catch limitless fish on every cast.

I still have not climbed a mountain for sheep, and at my age, I am not sure I ever will. But I have waded for steelhead in the Lewis river in Washington. And I have flown into remote lakes in Ontario to fish for giant northern pike and trophy walleye.

I remember reading, of paddling boats through glacial lakes as crystal clear as the air itself. Watching as pike the size of your leg tearing towards your large top water lure and nearly ripping the rod from your hands. Of casting curly tail jigs and walleye pushing 30 inches being the norm on almost every cast.

When the day arrived for me to finally travel to northern Ontario to fulfill this dream, the excitement had been building for months. All I had dreamed about and imagined was finally coming to fruition. And the best part is it wasn't nearly as impossible as I had thought.

Like so many other sportsmen and women, we dream of hunts and fishing trips and just assume they are out of our reach. When in fact they are not. With careful planning, some research, most of the hunts and fishing trips we dream of are within reach of all working class people and above. It just takes some planning.

For my dream fly-in-fishing adventure, I chose Kashabowie Outposts from Atikokan, Ontario. Their sea hanger is a mere 2 hours from International Falls, MN a short 1,000 mile drive for me. My first trip to Kashabowie was with some friends we strung together at last minute. But by sharing the expenses, it was very affordable. They tailor trips to your desires and budget. With 10 cabins to choose from, there are several available for most of your group sizes.

When we boarded the Havalon Beaver float plane the reality was setting in. We would be off into the boreal forest of the great north and left there for four days in total isolation. As the plane took off (at a mere 50 mph) we flew for forty minutes into the wilderness. Nothing but lakes and forest below us the entire time. It was surreal. The Pilot did a fly by of our cabin so we could get a look at the lake from above and then turning south, he pointed the nose of the plane into the breeze and with the gentleness of a mother hen and her chicks, he set the plane on the calm water as smooth as a new jar of peanut butter.

Idling to the floating dock, we moored the plane and unloaded our gear. A short instruction on how to use the 2 way radio and he was off.

Standing there on the dock watching as the plane taxied down the lake was a feeling like I've not experienced. As the engine roared and he began his stretch down the lake to take off, I marveled at the ability of the pilot to maneuver this ancient plane into the air. Barely clearing the water, he tipped his wing at me as he went by and soared over the trees. I stood watching and listening until the stillness and silence overcame the surroundings.

For the next four days, we would not see another soul. The amenities at Grew Lake are superior, especially for a cabin so far from anything. 14' Lowe semi-V boats. Each with a 9.9-hp four-stroke Yamaha engine and all the gas we need. There was one boat for every two people. Since this cabin slept 8, there were four boats and engines available for us to use along with a canoe.

Over the next four days we fished about 8 hours a day and caught over 50 fish per person per day. We explored the lake. 6 miles long and about a half mile wide at its widest point. Beaver were everywhere. Loons, bald eagles, gulls, all were abundant.

During the evenings, after a meal of walleye and some extras, we sat around a campfire and listened as the loons cried. There is something unique and special about the cry of the loon in the boreal forest of the north. The echo of her cry carries for what seems like miles. Her cry causes the mind to wander, to be perplexed by the nothingness. All stress is released, all worries of life are faded, if for only a few days as the soul is refreshed.

This summer, I am taking my two sons to Kashabowie Outposts for a father-son week of serenity and fishing. This time at Piche Lake. My eldest son is getting married in September, and my youngest is heading off to college in August. So for four days, it will be just us. Driving for over 1,000 miles to spend some time in the wilderness.

My dream was to fly into adventure and fish pristine waters. Now, it is to pause and capture, if only briefly a few days with my sons before life gets in the way. I know the folks at Kashabowie Outposts will do all they can to make this a trip they will remember forever. I am hopeful, in years to come we will tell stories of this trip, and hopefully, one day find a way to repeat it.

Until then, remember that dreams can come true. In fact, I have come to believe that our dreams are God's way of showing us our true potential. Dream big, chase them and they can come true.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Battle for Our Guns

As an outdoor journalist I receive a lot of information from the outdoor community. Some of it is just junk mail, others are alarming and convicting. Over the past few months, it seems there is an influx of information pouring in regarding the legislators push to tighten gun ownership laws.

If you watch the news at all, you have probably heard of some of these proposals. Many of which are advertised on the news and in press conferences by left wing leaders who grandstand to the anti-gun owners of this country. While these are alarming, very alarming. What concerns me (along with many other journalists and gun CEO's) is the apathy from the gun owners.

In many conversations around campfires and tailgates I have heard comments like; "its in the Constitution, they can't take our guns". Or, "let's see them try and take my guns, they will have a fight on their hands." When in all actuality, the majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens, and if the law changes, they will surrender their guns BECAUSE they are law abiding citizens. And if the law says we cannot own guns, they will turn theirs in.  Secondly, if it came to an actual fight where people are dying because of gun ownership, I question how many people will actually start killing one another over this topic. I pray it never comes to this.

In America today, recreational shooters comprise roughly twice as many gun owners as hunters. You read that correctly. Most of the gun owners do not hunt, but shoot recreationaly or have them for personal protection. All of the hunters who profess to be able to withstand an all out attack on confiscation of guns are out numbered by people in their own ranks.

Today the hot topic is modern sporting rifles, also known as AR style platform rifles. Semi-auto rifles in various calibers that are designed for high capacity and fast shooting. If you have ever shot one, they are fun! But mostly, they are accurate and dependable. One of the best selling features of the AR rifles is their simplicity, accuracy and dependability. While they are the hot topic today, tomorrow it is your grandfathers Browning A5 semi-auto 12 gauge. One of the ploys the politicians are doing is lumping all similar style or action guns into large categories.

A ban on semi-auto guns, that is being presented as assault guns, covers ALL semi-auto guns. Shotguns, pistols, hunting rifles and the AR style of guns. This type of law would virtually make illegal every personal carry gun, every pistol, most shotguns and many rifles in America.

Similar in action are the new magazine capacity bans. While it is targeted towards high capacity (over 5 rounds) used primarily in AR style rifles. Included in these bans are virtually all pistol magazines! Even the small .380 pocket pistols hold 9 rounds of ammunition in many cases. This new magazine capacity ban would make every pistol with a magazine capacity over 5 rounds illegal.

The angles the anti-gun groups are using are impressive. Magazine capacities, action styles, and even purchasing methods. In a recent resolution (HR 8) the congress is trying to pass what is known as universal background checks. What is pronounced as simply making it tougher for criminals to get guns, it is really an attempt to halt all gun transfers between individuals.

On the surface this sounds fine. But let's break this down into practical implications. With the universal background checks, I cannot legally buy a gun for my son and give it to him without a background check. My fathers gun that was willed to me would be illegal because I did not get a background check to receive it. The friend from out of state who is visiting and wants to go shoot some squirrels with me cannot borrow the gun for the day, without a background check!

What can you do? With the all out assault on gun ownership it is time for gun owners to speak up. Quit talking around the tailgate and start calling your congressmen and women. Let them know you oppose this bill and all others like them. Join forces with groups like the NRA, SCI and others who are fighting to protect gun ownership and hunting opportunities. Participate in gun training and let it be known that the 2nd amendment is not negotiable and we will not allow our rights as American citizens "...The Right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL not be infringed."

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What Happened to Outdoor Literature?

As a teen growing up in the Piedmont region of South Carolina, I often found myself wandering over hill and dale in search of adventure. My father did not care for the outdoors unless it involved chasing a white ball around manicured lawns. That meant, that for me, adventure was a solitary activity.

When I was twelve we moved to rural Saluda County, SC. It was really my first time living in the "real country". We were twelve miles from a town of only a few thousand and the closest neighbor with anyone remotely my age was several miles away. It was during this time, I learned to enjoy my own company, and the company of nature.

The middle 1970's was by no means "the good old days" of hunting. Animal populations in our area were dismal. In fact, I distinctly remember discovering my first deer track and having to go to my Outdoor Life Book Club field guide to see what it was.

Which leads me to a point of this story I want to convey as clearly as possible.

As a teenager growing up with a passion for the outdoors and nature, I had no mentor. No one who took me under their wing. My father didn't care for it at all, both grandfathers were deceased and the neighbors were busy farming and rearing their own children. It was then, that I discovered outdoor literature. Specifically outdoor magazines. Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, South Carolina Wildlife and Game and Fish publications were my only source of instruction into the unknown. Reading the stories of adventure from Jack O'Connor, and the simple essays of Gene Hill lit a fire in me to discover. To wander into the unknown and find adventure. It may simply be wandering to the creek for the first time and imagining Native Americans and fur trappers here a century ago.

But they got me out there and looking, it got me out there living. One of the keys was the Outdoor Life Book Club. This book club was a launching pad for me and others into the world of the outdoors. In those days, the advertisement was, "For one dollar, you get these ten books as long as you purchase two books at full price within two years." What a deal! Even in those days. As a 13 year old, I mailed in my one dollar bill (yes I sent cash through the mail) and shortly I received my ten outdoor life books (these tattered books still grace my book shelves today). These books on Small Game Hunting, Big Game Hunting, Tracking and Finding Game, Field Care for your Trophy, The Outdoor Eye, How to Call Wildlife, Deer Hunting, and a few others were the map I needed to get outdoors. And to top it off, I purchased two books that became classics. Jack O'Connor's Shotgun book and Tom McNalley Fly Fishing book. What a deal!

In addition to these books were the simple instructional stories from Pat Robertson, Jim Casada and Terry Madewell who taught me how to read the woods. What a scrape was, how rub lines mark a bucks territory. They taught me how a turkey responds to clucks and yelps. It was these men, with pen in hand who brought the outdoors to me and sparked a fire that is burning still today, some forty five years later.

It saddens me, as an outdoor writer that this type of writing is gone. It saddens me that periodicals are only concerned about reviewing this gun, or that blind. That magazines cut out the adventure story in favor of how-to stories. There is room for both, and there is a need for both.

As someone who was brought into the hunting lifestyle through the writings of Hill and O'Connor, I say with a loud voice, we need more of these writers in today's periodicals. We need more stories of climbing mountains, descending into jungles, and traversing glaciers. We need for hunters to live vicariously through these writings. And, we need the writers to be hunters. Men and women who actually go out and participate in the activities they write about.

Outdoor writing is hard work. For those men and women who know how to do what they write about they can testify, it is difficult work. Yet, sadly, I have shared camps with outdoor writers who couldn't tell the difference between a whitetail and a mule deer. Some who were not sure what a bob white was, and others who couldn't tell you what the difference was between a rimfire and a centerfire rifle.

They may have excellent grammar and outstanding sentence structure. But, in my opinion, if you are not capable of doing this activity without a guide, you shouldn't write about it!

I realize this puts me in a predicament. I have written stories about activities I have not participated in myself (but I could and would if I had the chance). I have interviewed those who have, and gotten their stories and written the article based on their experience. But in doing this, it is always their experience and not mine. That is journalism, not outdoor literature.

Good outdoor literature is fading fast. It is fading, not because we do not have some excellent scribes. On the contrary, it is fading because we do not have outlets for them to publish. Grey's Sporting Journal, Sporting Classics, and a few others carry the burden for the rest.

But these publications are geared towards the experienced and affluent sportsman. Oh, to have a collection of magazines that would offer an invitation into the outdoors. To have a publication that celebrated the deer camp, or campfire. One that taught young boys and girls what it felt like to bag your first squirrel, crow, or cottontail. How glorious it would be if there could be a publication(s) that centered on stories designed to bring new hunters into the fold. Adventure, instruction and enlightening essays. Stories that focused as much on why we hunt as how we hunt. Stories that would tug at the repressed passion in people and drag them outdoors to seek and to discover.

These publications are there already, they exist, they just need the courage and fortitude to look into the future of hunting and outdoor lifestyles and rekindle the dwindling spark. Perhaps, a nudge from the readership and writers? Alas, as more of these publications have fallen to conglomerate publicly traded companies, the desire for increasing profits supplants the need for quality literature.

Until then, I will do what I can to enlighten, broaden and encourage more participation into the outdoors that I love so passionately.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Archery Trade Association Best Finds

Two weeks ago I attended the best trade show of the year. The Archery Trade Association trade show, also known as the ATA, or the Bow-Show. This show is closed to the public and is open only to buyers and the media. At the ATA, manufacturers bring out their new offerings for the year and display them for people to order for their stores and for media to write about.

Each year, there are new bows, new arrows and new accessories. Few times does something really stand out as "I really need to try that." But I can usually come up with four or five items that stand out. But before I get into that I would like to say something that has been resonating for some time and was the talk of the show again this year and that is the pricing on new bows. Bow manufacturers seem to be pushing the price of new bows further and further above the $1,000 mark. And it seems the technology is not keeping pace. All of the major manufacturers have bows that sell for well over $1,000 and for the life of me, I cannot see the difference between their 'high end bow' and their 'mid-range bow'. At least not five hundred dollars difference. Whether it is Mathews, Hoyt, Bear, Bowtech, PSE, Prime, etc. they are all in the same boat. Hunters are carrying models longer and longer before buying a new bow because the price is so high. I hope these manufacturers begin to see the trend and lower prices to a more reasonable level soon.

Now that the rant is over - here are some items (not in any order) I did see that are worth the money you spend on your bow hunting for 2019.

Trufire Synapse -  marketed more for tournament archers, I have long been a proponent of using the best equipment for hunting. And few things are as important as your release aid. A few years ago I made the switch to a thumb release from the traditional finger release and have not looked back. I LOVE the thumb release for comfort, accuracy and adjustability. The Trufire Synapse is a thumb release with a lot of adjustments for comfort and shooting styles. It comes standard as a three finger but a fourth finger attachment is standard with the release. Two tension screws are independent and adjust the thumb trigger travel distance, and the tension on the trigger. The trigger is adjustable from 1 ounce to 20 ounces of pressure. (I don't know why anyone would want only one ounce of pressure, but it is there if you are that guy). The thumb lever can rotate to your hand. It is available in five colors. I cannot wait to get my hands on one!


Image result for Easton T64In the world of arrows, can anyone compete with Easton and their brands of arrows? For 2019, Easton launched the T64.  The first truly tapered arrow in a carbon/aluminum arrow. The tip begins its life as a 6mm arrow, and the gentle taper covers the length of the arrow to finish as a 4mm arrow at the nock. This design, borrowed from outside target archers, enables better fit for most broadheads, better weight forward balance and deeper penetration on impact with less resistance on the trailing end.


Summit has long been the leader in tree stands for climbers and others. But 2019 marks their entry into the ground blind market with four blinds to fit all needs. The four blinds cover all price points and needs. With two, three and even four person blinds available on an array of camouflage patterns. The Cobra, Viper, Goliath and Viper blinds will fit every need and they are built with the same excellent design and durability Summit is known for.


Technology has made its greatest advancements in the crossbow market. With both Ravin and TenPoint leading the way. At this years show, the TenPoint Nitro XRT with its reverse limb design demonstrated arrow speeds pushing 470 fps!. That is blistering fast. Along with this bow, their forward limb Turbo M1 at 370 fps, is a great bow at a lower price point and fits the need for traditional crossbow fans. All of these are excellent choices.

Panga 50 Duffel
Panga Backpack 28After visiting the Yeti booth, I was introduced to some products that are not new to 2019, but were new to me, and so I figured if I didn't know about them, maybe you didn't either. Their Panga line of bags and packs. These duffel bags come in three sizes and there is a complimentary back pack as well. As someone who travels a lot, duffel bags are essential to my needs. The Panga bags are 100% water proof! an EVA molded bottom, laminated nylon sides and the patented Hydrolok zipper keeps everything completely protected from anything nature throws at it. The duffel bags are available in a 50, 75 and 100 size and the backpack 28 comes with the same materials as the bags with the comfort of a backpack. Nothing better to throw in the boat for a day chasing Northern Pike than the Panga backpack.

There are other great products available for 2019, and it is exciting to see where the industry is going.  Innovation is happening at blistering speed. I hope this brief list will help you find something new for you this season. I will be posting more product evaluations soon.

Monday, January 7, 2019



Beginning TODAY January 7, 2019 Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo of Archer's Choice Media and Pete Rogers of Pete Rogers Outdoors is teaming up to produce on of the best PODCASTS in the industry. 
Long time television hosts, Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo and I have merged our experience and talents to launch what we believe will be the best PODCAST in the industry. Discussing topics near and dear to the hunting industry and outdoor lifestyle. 
Each Podcast will air on iTunes, Spotify, and Google play as well as, Waypoint TV and YouTube @ralphandvicki. 

Please tune in and Subscribe to Ralph and Vicki's OffGrid Podcast.