Horses on my range

When I practice I draw a unique crowd. River, my lab, feels it is her duty to supervise each shot. There are times she’ll climb a stand to coach 3D practice. Honestly, a dog and archery seem well suited. Two other observers of my practice are likely better suited and have a rich history in archery.

IMG_0738
River on her way to a foam animal to measure my shot.

In the country we have many free-range animals. The primary domestic varieties are chickens, dogs and cats. Wild animals are vast and plentiful. Because we are so remote we have free-range horses.

IMG_0724
The girls enjoying the river

Two, Imperious and Constance, very social mares are frequent visitors. Their stable and small pasture is few hundred yards away. They often escape for better grazing. If I am out shooting both walk over to watch.

IMG_2330IMG_2331

These two girls will come over, sniff my arrows, always disappointed they are inedible, and hang out. Today, while shooting mid-morning, Imperious spotted me. She made a beeline over and was immediately followed by Constance. This happens several times a week.

th-1

Horses and archers have a rich history. These mares seem to enjoy watching archery. While they observe they always stand behind me to my left. When I take a break I’ll speak with them and give them a pat or rub. They stay as long as I am out or until someone comes to retrieve them. I don’t exactly understand this relationship and neither horse has ever offered an explanation.

Finally, getting my bow right.

thSeveral months ago I replaced the string on my Mathews Apex 7. Since then it has never ‘felt’ exactly right. My anchor ‘felt’ off, my head didn’t feel right, the bow vibrated more, and my shots weren’t as tight. The bow had been looked at by a number of shops, none were Mathews dealerships. Because the shops weren’t Mathews dealers none of them wanted to do anything to the bow that might void the warranty. But, they all agreed something was off.  Yesterday, I made the two hour drive to Ernal, NC, to meet with Terry Lewis at Terry’s Archery Plus, who is a Mathews dealer.

Not only is Terry a Mathews dealer he is truly a bow expert. He made measurements and verified angles. Then, from his assessment, he made adjustments to the string. He solved the vibration problem and worked with my peep.

IMG_2302
Terry adjusting the string on my Apex 7

I took the bow home and tried it out on my range. The difference was significant. Whereas before I’d given up on the Apex 7 and gone to exclusively shooting my Mathews ZXT in tournaments it was obvious the Apex 7 will once again be my tournament bow. Thanks, Terry

Running, shooting and a dog in a tree stand

At times I write about fitness. Aside from archery I’ve enjoyed sports competition and been successful in running, cycling, duathon and triathlon. Triathlons are really exciting and fun. The main problem is the expense. An Ironman entry fee is $650.00 or more. An archery 3D tournament is much less expensive. Duathlon and cycling events are also pricy. Running is a bargain by comparison.

images-5
Charity event in Delaware, wearing my Team USA (World Championship) gear

During the winter, I search for runs to race. That means spending time on Active.com. I try to get a race per month. In 2014, with all the archery tournaments I missed racing every month. At my current pace by the end of 2014 I’ll have competed in about 10 races and 20 archery tournaments. As the temperatures drop, running becomes by focus, along with hunting and indoor archery competition.

th

This means a lot of training. My days typically begin with a run. My dog River runs with me. She also comes with me on 3D practice ranges when I have them to myself.

IMG_2299
River sprinting to catch up

Hunting, at times, can demand physical labor. When I was young, a hunt was a lot more work. Today, with ATVs to bring us closer to our blinds or stands, and to haul out what we might shoot, physical labor is reduced. Still, fitness remains important.

IMG_2251
ATVs make it easier to get into and out of the woods

Being unfit and trying to climb a tree stand can be a risk for some people. I have a friend that is in his 70s. He is really out of shape but loves to hunt. Recently, he started a program toward achieving fitness. He has lost 50 pound by walking and eating less.

IMG_2267
Relaxing in a tree stand

Another friend I have once weighed over 300 pounds. He is a serious archer. Last week, he ran his first half-marathon. Today, he has lost over 100 pounds by changing his diet, running and cycling.

In older posts, I’ve paid attention to archers that are serious about their fitness. Really, it isn’t difficult to maintain and promote your health. Take some time out of your day to workout. If you are out of shape add a quick trip to your physician to make certain nothing has run amok with your heart before you start. If you have no one to work out with, go it alone. Eventually, you will find other people with whom to work out.

IMG_0957
Seriously, she will not stay out of a tree stand

Running solo gives you time to think. Music is nice on long runs as are books on tape. I break it up; some runs I have music or a book on tape. On other runs I leave my iPod off to think and enjoy the scenery.

IMG_2297
Fields of cotton, nice scenery

Start slow, find an event, sign up and make it a goal. A 5K run costs between $18.00 and $25.00. You can find one in your town or nearby. Plus, you’ll get a nice T-shirt for your effort.

One deer being processed

When we took the deer to the  processor  he showed us his logbook. Only 21 deer since Friday. He said there was a group of about 30 hunters that were at a large hunt club of some sort. The group had been there  four days and not a single shot had been fired. We’d seen deer everywhere while driving or when a shot wasn’t available.

IMG_2251
Ray next to his Bad Boy Buggie

Ray and I hunted for a few days. He’d shot one deer the week before and we hoped one of us would get another.  On Sunday Ray got in a shot and killed a small buck.   He gave me this deer so I could have the meat. I am also tanning the pelt. We’ll be back out the week of November 4th. Until then, practice for the tournament in Georgia on November 8th and stay sharp with my hunting bow.

“Patience”

The deer below were only 12 yards away. They could just be seen in the dark. But, at 5:45 AM under a moonless sky it was too dark for a shot even at 12 yards. The brighter the morning became, the less and less I heard from the deer. That didn’t dampen our plans for tomorrow.

IMG_2246

IMG_2281

In the afternoon we cruised the land and found where pigs had rooted and deer had rubbed. At various points we dropped feed corn – 300 pounds of it. The process of cruising and dropping corn took three hours. The remainder of the day would be devoted to the Georgia vs. Arkansas football game followed into the night watching Notre Dame vs. Florida State.  Tomorrow we’ll head back to new areas with greater possibilities.

IMG_2276

The other break in this week of hunting was a kayak trip on Fishing Creek. With the hunting, running, shooting targets, going to the beach and kayaking this has been a great week spent outside. Tomorrow we’ll head out to the woods once more before heading back to NC. We are all hoping for a chance to shoot. Thus far, we’ve only seen deer when we’re not hunting or that stay out of range. As Brenda says, “Patience.”

IMG_2278

Nice day in the woods

Another long day with no deer or pigs. I started alone at dawn, took a break around 2:30 PM and was back in the woods with Brenda, my wife, and Ray, my father-in-law by 4:30 PM where we stayed until dark. None of us got a shot off.

IMG_2251
Ray (hard to imagine he is 87 in a few months)

In the morning, when driving into the woods six deer raised their tails to my truck. The red clay roads that crisscross our property are narrow and leave little room for error. Deer make a game of hopping across these roads whenever we drive into or out of the land we hunt.

This morning I was alone. Ray, who typically joins me, decided to wait and try his muzzleloader at dusk. In the woods, I parked the truck and backed the Bad Boy Buggie off its trailer. On the four-wheeler I piled my gear and headed to a blind I planned to use for this day.

IMG_2270
Partial view from the blind, shortly after sunrise

Part of my gear included a horse blanket. The blind has a pine straw floor and the horse blanket would muffle the sound caused by the pine straw and improve comfort. In this blind I have to shoot while kneeling. There is a chair for shooting with a gun or crossbow, but the chair is in the way when using a bow. It gets moved out for bow hunting and the ground becomes the furniture.

IMG_2272
Jiminy Cricket?

After arranging the blind, testing my draw, ranging various trees and stumps, I settled in to await the deer. There I remained though breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, and a nap, until 2:30 PM when I headed home. The only critter I saw was a grasshopper. Maybe this evening’s hunt would be better.

In the afternoon, by 4:30 PM I am back at the same area only this time in a tree stand. Brenda, my wife has come on this hunt. Ray is about a kilometer away in a blind. It would be great to write that the wait until dusk hunt brought home the bacon or the venison.   The only game that passed our stand were taunting turkey, which aren’t in season.

IMG_2260
Do this is a few months my tasty friends!

Naturally, driving back to the truck on the Bad Boy Buggie, Brenda and I saw seven deer not 25 yards off the path – par. Ray’s luck had been no better. Still, spending a day in the woods is never time wasted; the short nap on pine straw covered with a horse blanket a real bonus.

IMG_2274
Brenda waiting (October and still quite warm, around 80F)

Deer Hunting in Tignall, GA – Day 1

Here in Tignall, GA my father-in-law, Ray, has 679 acres of land used for his hunting club. The members of the club are a few friends and family. The family members include, Ray, Wade, and me. The friends are Guy and Tim.

Wade is Ray’s oldest son and an attorney. Guy is Ray’s best friend; both are retired from the Army. Ray was an NCO and Guy was a Chief Warrant Officer and ex-helicopter pilot. Tim is the pastor of their church. It is a small group and we’ve never all been on the property hunting at the once. This trip only Ray and I will hunt.

IMG_2246

Our prey was primarily deer and secondarily pigs. We aren’t in search of trophies; we are gathering food.

“We don’t need anymore deer heads” says Brenda, my wife.

“What!?” asks Ray.

M2E1L0-7R350B300
Couple of dies and a raccoon

I take the Swiss approach so that the deer head debate remains between father and daughter. But, if a nice buck happens upon us in the woods – well what will we do? In this house there are 4 full head mounts and two racks of antlers. Ray and I have covert plans for future trips to the taxidermist.

The property here is well stocked with game. I have frequently noted that if we hunted with a Ford F-150 we’d never run low on stores of meat. Despite the clear success we’d have hitting deer with trucks, last week Ray resorted to a crossbow to kill a doe, which has been processed. This week he’d hunt using a black powder gun, his Pursuit Pro 50 caliber, made in Spain by Ardesa. I’d be using my Mathews ZXT.

IMG_2247

In the days before hunting the trail cameras, there are 18 of them on the property, revealed hundreds of photos and plenty of prey. There were: deer, pigs, raccoons, turkey and coyote tripping pictures of themselves.

M2E58L193-193R390B320

Wednesday would be our first day in the woods this week. Ray prefers going out in the afternoon. The time stamp on the pictures indicated anytime of day or night would be good. In the morning we gathered our gear and I took a few practice shots with my ZXT. Afterwards, we packed the gear in a truck, loaded a Bad Boy Buggie then headed for the woods.

IMG_2245 IMG_2244

Ray and I hunted about a kilometer apart. For this day we’d be shooting from the ground. Ray dropped me off and took the Bad Boy Buggie to the blind he’d selected for himself. Before leaving he gave assurances he’d return for me at 7:15 PM. It would be dark by then. These woods are thick and the trails rough but he was confident he’d find me. I was also positive I could walk back to the truck if necessary.

IMG_2248
An old stand about 30 years from my blind

Within an hour I heard the report of a 50 caliber. It came from the direction of Ray’s blind. I’d have to wait on learn the result of the shot. However, the gunfire made me optimistic. I remained optimistic up to 7 PM, until that time I’d only seen squirrels and birds.

M2E60L197-197R382B332
In front of my blind, at 2:30 PM, a couple of days earlier

Ray arrived at 7:15 PM. The gunfire had not been his; we suspect we have poachers crossing onto the well-marked property. Ray had seen two deer that never approached for a reliable shot.

Driving out of the woods, deer covered the red clay packed trails leading out. We’ll be back out in a bit to continue our hunt. I am certain there will be squirrels and birds.

Going back to Wildcat Archery in Pooler, GA

After an adventure with pirates and a road race in Savannah this trip is all about archery. Near Savannah in Pooler is Wildcat Archery. The owner, Bill Henneman, opened his business over 20 years ago. When his doors first opened they lead into a shed on his property. Today, his shop is one of the nicest ones around and has an indoor range.

IMG_2239
Wildcat Archery in Pooler, GA

While in Savannah, I made the short trip to Pooler to shoot on that indoor range. It was a side trip of which I was looking forward. Wildcat Archery is the first place I’d ever competed on an indoor range. I remember not having a clue, hoping that I’d hit my target and not put an arrow in the ceiling. It was scary, but I did my best to follow the crowd.

IMG_2238
Indoor range

Arriving at Wildcat Archery, Tony and Steve were there working. I’d met both of them on my two prior trips to Wildcat. I remembered them; they had no recollection of me or at least gave no indication of such.

IMG_2240
Tony

What I wanted most was to shoot on their range. Another archer, Kyle, was already there practicing. Kyle was maybe 10 years old. He was shooting from 20 yards while his dad watched from a stool about 10 feet away. Kyle is good.

Kyle shot a 3-spot that was arranged vertically. Each end he fired, while I was on the range, consisted of 5 to 6 arrows. His arrows were always in the yellow and with each end he placed 2 to 3 in the X. He was extremely well mannered and apparently has never met a stranger. I can’t help but wonder how far Kyle may go in archery.

While we pulled arrows I asked him about archery and whether he competes. He answered he does compete but thus far only in 3D tournaments. He’d won his last tournament and hit seven 12’s.

I’d brought my hunting rig with me, a Mathews ZXT, 8-inch Trophy Stabilizer, and a 7 pin ArmorTech-HD sight. I was shooting a bit off. The target was a 5-spot and the best I was hitting was 4 out of 5 shots on the X. My 20-yard pin was hitting high so I was aiming it a bit low to compensate. I was reluctant to change the pin knowing I’d sighted it at my range, in NC, where I know 20 yards is exact. I stopped practicing after an hour considering that if I was off there was no further point in reinforcing some unrecognized error.

Before I left I talked awhile with Tony and Steve. Tony has worked at Wildcat for about eight years and Steve in moving into his second year. Both are very knowledgeable and Steve shot on the range a bit while I was there. Steve placed a small, quarter size tab onto a target then shot 3 arrows into it.

IMG_2241
Steve

Tony, Steve and I talked for about 30 minutes and I bought some targets. One of the benefits of traveling is meeting other archers and visiting various shops. Once Brenda and I complete the renovations to our home in NC I’ll like spending winters in Georgia. I am looking forward to that, practicing on the range at Wildcat Archery, then hunting and competing in Georgia.

th
Near my mother’s home on Isle of Hope

Pirates, Running, Wildcat Archery, and Hunting: Pirates and Running

Brenda and I drove to Savannah to spend time with out oldest daughter, her husband, and our grandson, Heather, Bill and Sean, respectively. Sean is 4 years old, and loves pirates. Tybee (Savannah Beach to some) was the host of a Pirate Festival. Heather and Bill booked a rental house on Tybee Island, where I’d spend my childhood, for the duration of the Festival. They invited Brenda and me. This was going to be an adventure. We’d enjoy a pirate festival with Sean; I’d race, shoot indoors, and go hunting over ten days.

IMG_2225
Sean checking out the treasure

I’ve never attended a Pirate Festival. Sean planned to dress the part of a pirate, so all the adults would be required to become appropriately attired pirates. I stressed the importance of dressing true to current pirate practice observing the Somali pirates as my example. I pointed out that modern pirates wear running shoes, shorts and t-shirts. I failed to gain a consensus for that apparel. The opponent in this pirate dress debate proved to be unbeatable despite his youth.

IMG_2231
Penalty for grumbling about the costume.

Prior to the main pirate event we spent time on the beach. Sean and I are runners. In fact, Brenda found me a race in Savannah for Saturday. As part of my pre-race preparation Sean had me doing wind sprints on the beach.

Sean would have me run a nice tempo pace, one that kept him at my side and able to coach. His coaching demanded I sprint to observed points along the beach.

“There granddaddy, speed for that!” he’d shout while pointing to the object. If my increased pace was unsatisfactory Sean offered further instruction, “Speed faster granddaddy!” It would not have been bad except the ‘ad lib’ beach training occurred immediately following dinner.

Saturday’s race was well planned and organized. Initially, I’d intended to simply enjoy the run. But, as often is the case with a 5K, as soon as the gun sounds, I run hard. I had forgotten about the heat in Savannah and paid the price toward the finish. I fell back three places ending up 12th overall and taking 3rd in my age group. Actually, the guy that won the race was in my age group.

IMG_2216

Putting it on the line is in part about being alive and finding challenges that are outside of your comfort zone. Wearing a pirate costume is weird, but grandchildren make adults do weird things. Pushing hard in a 5K isn’t comfortable, but the effort is transient and the reward, regardless of place of the finish, is lasting.

IMG_2201

I need some new arrows

There are those days when shooters are in a zone. Today was that day for me. It is not the first, and hopefully, they will continue to come with increasing frequency. When you look at these photos, you’ll see not every shot for the past two sessions has been on the mark.

IMG_2149
Monday evening, first shot at 20-yards to sight my bow with a fresh paper (rifle) target.

Yesterday evening I changed a worn out 5-spot paper target to a single center shot. I often use a 5-spot to protect my arrows. Five center shots means less risk of damaging fletching or nocks.

My bow had been recently tuned and needed to be re-sighted. Sighting takes time and patience. I have plenty of the former and little of the latter. Sighting, at least for me, is easier when I shoot for the same spot.

After yesterday’s tedious process of sighting out to 60 yards I’d gotten the bow where it seemed okay. I’d stopped shooting, and sighting, when Brenda called me in for dinner. This morning I’d test my labors of yesterday.

At 20 yards, the bow seemed to be hitting were I was aiming.

IMG_2151
Tuesday morning at 20-yards. Holes are from Monday evening after I replaced the 5-spot to adjust my sight I moved to 30 yards.

Satisfied at 20 yards, I moved to 30 yards.

IMG_2152
30-yards, looking pretty good. Yes, there are two brands of arrow. I am running low and have 6 beaters and 4 good ones. Saving the good arrows for hunting.

Then, I tried 35 yards.

IMG_2153
Not too bad at 35-yards

Brenda had driven to Elizabeth City to run a few errands. She arrived just as I’d shot two arrows at 40 yards. When she pulled onto our driveway and opened the car door I called,

“ You have to come see this”

“That’s pretty good, “ she replied. Then added, “But this is tough on your arrows.”

IMG_2155
40-yards and down 2 more arrows

Like I said, some days are better than others. Hitting a ‘Robin Hood’ is pretty cool.  Statistically, a  ‘Robin Hood” shot occurs once every 10,000 shots (all archers inclusive).  Of course, this now leaves me with a total of 8 arrows – 4 beater arrows and 4 nice arrows.

Traveling makes getting arrows a challenge.  The dozen, now 8, arrows I’d been using was shipped to me by Cypress Creek Archery in Maryland.  The last 3 shops I visited didn’t carry the brand arrow (Beman, ICS Hunter Carbon, 500, 7.3 gpi ) I shoot or if they did they had the brand didn’t have the correct weight.

IMG_2150
40 yards is a pretty long shot, over the trailer, past the car and truck to the end of the driveway.

I haven’t verified the sight at 45 – 60 yards, yet.  I stopped at 40 for lunch and to prepare for our trip to Georgia.  We’re heading their to visit family and hunt.  I am also looking forward to a seeing the folks at Wildcat Archer in Pooler, GA.   And, perhaps, buy some new arrows.0aa0cc943f91d0327567ac849a8e572e.jpg