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Deer Camp 101: Several Misconceptions about Whitetail Deer


I simply can’t believe that it is again September and yet another deer season is upon us. It really seems like just a week or so ago that I hung my bow and cleaned my .54 cal. Hawken for the season and settled down to enjoy the Spring. It wasn’t much of a Spring, at least not in Ohio, and it seemed like April lasted nearly four months. Primarily because it rained hard here from May until August. It’s still raining.

The good news is that it is now going to start to get cold and all of this precipitation, if it persists, will have a chance to turn into beautiful white snow… I love deer hunting in the snow.

So, as you get ready to seek your deer for the season, here are some current studies that I have read about that can affect your hunt this year; studies from the Penn  State University wildlife program that actually dis-spell many of the myths that most of us have believed about deer hunting but which have now been disproved.

  1. Deer move less when it’s windy. This one was a surprise to me, but it seems that deer move the same wether it’s windy or not. I know that it seems that they don’t but perhaps another study would show that hunters just get especially miserable when it’s windy and it just seems as if nothing is moving to us.
  2. Deer are affected by the moon. I guess that we want to believe that deer are moved like we are moved, and undoubtedly the moon moves me; (usually out of my easy chair and onto the deck). But the studies have shown that deer aren’t seemingly inclined to change their habits regardless of moon phases.
  3. Whitetail bucks move far and wide in search of hot does during the rut. No, apparently they maintain, for the most part, their 20 mile radius territory; however, it is unclear how far the does travel when they are hot, looking for a ready buck…????
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Running missions: 3 reasons you should keep an item of faith with you

If you are the type of rugged individual who enjoys the use of military surplus tents and equipment, (and it’s obvious you are or you likely wouldn’t be reading this), then you know what it’s like to run a mission.

And since the last installment was about the legendary Case™ trapper style pocket knife, I wanted to play off of that line of thought this week and talk about my personal Case™ trapper and explain why it has significance and what three very important reasons are that I carry this particular knife.  My particular Case™ knife has an excerpt from The Lord’s Prayer engraved on it’s white bone handle. This knife goes in my pocket everywhere I go and there is a distinct reason I carry this knife.

For those of you who were Ernest Hemingway fans, perhaps you will remember that he always had a good luck piece on him. Now, in his case the lucky piece changed regularly because he was prone to losing them. I personally don’t carry mine for good luck. I don’t believe in luck for one thing. I’m a man of faith who believes in the God of the Bible, and I carry mine instead as a connection between me and my Maker. Here are three reasons why I carry the blade I do, and why you should keep an item of faith on you as well.

  1. It gives me courage. If you believe in God, then you know that he is an ever-present help in times of danger. I have seen many people draw bravery from religious artifacts over the years, everything from Stars of David to St. Michael medals.
  2. It keeps me focused. When things are spinning fast and I feel like my mind is going ten thousand different directions a second, a brief pat of my palm on my left trouser pocket brings a feel of that familiar bundle that connects me to the Lord. That touch is often enough to get me focused.
  3. With it I’m always armed. I used to work in a maximum security prison, and I’ve seen dudes get killed with soup spoons sharpened on a concrete window sill. I know how much damage I can do with a knife of that caliber.
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Easy survival foods, three things you can turn into a meal in a hurry.


Over the next several blogs I plan on taking you into a journey of making meat in a survival situation. In this series we’re going to discuss several different kinds of trips including pitfalls, deadfalls, snares, and some traps for aquatic life. However you will run into times when you’re in a survival situation that you have to make a quick meal quickly. And believe it or not there are several options for doing so I’m going to discuss in this entry three really quick meals that you can find easily out in the bush.

  1. Eggs are everywhere out in the woods, you can get juice eggs, duck eggs, dove eggs, any other kind of bird eggs, and some reptile eggs, ( although I don’t recommend that). You could even find, if you are industrious, black vulture, turkey vulture, and raptor eggs, (although I don’t recommend that either). My favorite eggs to use in a survival situation or goose eggs. They’re not terribly better bitter bitter, and they are easy to find and they’re big enough to create a really good meal.
  2. The next easy meal comes in the form of insects. Although I knew a kid in school who eats spiders on occasion I don’t recommend eating arachnids, rather you should eat locusts grasshoppers and crickets when and where you can find them at. If you’re industrious these things can be gathered and fairly large quantities roasted and eaten pretty much as it is. You’re probably not gonna like them much but they will sustain you.
  3. Lastly you can almost always find, if you can get to a creek, crawl dads. Some crawdads can be really large almost like many lobsters and they can be boiled or eaten raw. Generally I will only eat the tales of the crawdads they usually don’t offer a lot of quantity however they are highly high-end quality. They have a very good taste in one boiled or some of the small shrimp you can gather many many many of them at one time as long as you’re willing to hunt for them and don’t mind getting pinched on occasion.

Making a legacy: How military surplus carries on tradition

It was with mixed emotions that I drove the boy to the Armed Forces Career Center for the final time.

He is, as I write this, in the process of becoming a United States Marine. I couldn’t be more proud of him and I was assaulted with a plethora of memories during that long final drive as I tried to offer him my advice on how to survive boot camp, forgetting for the time being that if he is at all like me, he wasn’t paying a bit more attention to what I was saying than the man in the moon. That’s because he is the type that wants to sort things out for himself, and he also knows that the boot camp I experienced in 1992 is not the same boot camp that he will experience on Parris Island in 2018.

However, we did have a great opportunity to relive some exciting moments that we shared together over the last 22 years.

His first deer for instance. This was a three day deer camp that culminated in his shooting the biggest doe I have ever seen straight through the heart with his brand new Mossburg 20 gauge shotgun that he had gotten for Christmas that year. I had just watched him allow a much smaller doe to creep past us, right underneath the deer stand we were sitting in. He had simply watched her go by, unable to move fast enough to click the safety off and fire the shot that would have made meat for the family for the winter. I was quietly chewing his ass, when he suddenly snapped off the safety, threw the shotgun to his shoulder, and blasted past my ear without a word of explanation. I was a little pissed, thinking that he had simply done that for dramatic effect in response to my chastisement, and then I saw the blood spatter in the snow. A spatter which ended in a steaming pile of nearly a hundred and fifty pounds of fresh venison. That was a great day for me, because being squeamish,  I offered him the chance to clean all the guns when we shoot in exchange for my dressing the game that we shoot. He soon discovered that we shot much more than we hit.


And so I look forward to the times that we can spend in his deer camp, telling his war stories to his sons as we sit in his grandfathers old military surplus army tent. This is what memories are made of.

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Kayaking 201: 3 modifications you must have for photography

Ok, so I have my kayak purchased and I have been practicing with it in my swimming pool. It is very tippy.  And while this is unfortunate, it is not a tragedy because it is very easy to get out of too. However, water and cameras don’t mix well, so I will be practicing extensively with this dude before I get any of my camera gear into it. Perhaps I will visit the local goodwill store or get online and find a nice little zoom camera like the Canon Powershot SX20 IS, which will shoot high definition video and has digital zoom capabilities that allow it to be shot at up to 500mm. I had purchased a Canon G series G1X for these romps into the lakeside wilderness, but with a $400+ pricetag, the tippiness of this kayak has left me feeling less than optimistic about taking this little camera out.

I had previously written about a cute little Sony a100 I purchased for $37 that I ended up selling for $250 to an enterprising young lad who wanted to get a start in photography. The problem with the cheaper Sony was the fact that it doesn’t shoot video and it leaves a lot to be desired in really low light. I definitely don’t want to be juggling two cameras in a kayak… but I digress.

This is a blog about kayak modifications; and here are three must have mods for photography.

  1. Fishing rod holder. As simple as cutting a hole, drilling three more, and pulling three rivets. Viola! You have a fishing rod holder. This is very important because when there is nothing to photograph you are going to need something to do.
  2. Handle and oar holder. Needed so that you can have both hands free to grab camera and tripod to keep them as safe as possible. you don’t want to be juggling a double paddled oar while trying to handle your gear.
  3. A comfortable seat. If you are going to be going after eagles like I am, you will need to have some padding on your rear. Make that seat as comfortable as possible.
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Kayaking 101: 2 things you must do before you get started




A Sony a100 DSLR camera equipped with a Minolta 100-300mm

I have recently grown weary of walking the same old trails and driving the same old access roads looking for fresh game and new scenery for my photography.

My wife suggested that I take up kayaking in order to get to areas of a local state park that are inaccessible in any other way. Eagles for instance, are nesting on the far side of the lake and if I use digital zoom, my expensive Panasonic FZ-80 will zoom right over there so that I can just make them out, sitting in their trees and cavorting amongst themselves. Below them I can usually find where the Great Blue Herons are raising their elegant younglings, gracefully teaching them to fish among the cattails.  And so, I began the endeavor to find my path towards becoming a water borne photographer, and it was then that I discovered that I need to do two things in order to get started. Here they are:

  1. Consider costs and find the best deal out there. Now, I don’t mean just finding the best deal on a kayak, although I do mean that as well, but consider what kind of risk you will be putting your equipment through before you get started.  I have several expensive cameras and lenses. The first thing I did was go to my agent and add some extra insurance to my equipment. I also got online and looked for some inexpensive but useful alternatives to taking my best stuff out there. I found a Sony a100 on a popular repurposing site online for $37. It’s only 10mp, but it takes legacy Minolta lenses which are extremely cheap but very sharp.  I also found a Canon SX20 IS which is only 12mp but which has a 500mm focal length, ($24, same site). Both cameras work wonderfully and if they fall into the drink, I’ll be disappointed but I won’t sob uncontrollably for several days.
  2. Learn your equipment. Go to the local university and find out where the outdoor pursuit center, and get some safety training. The last thing you should want to do is get drowned while trying to get a couple of photographs. In upcoming posts, I will take you through the process of acquiring kayaks and equipment requirements to start using them for photography expeditions… stay tuned!
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Beaver Sign: 3 things you must know about beavers


I was recently visiting a favorite fishing spot, which I haven’t been to in a couple of years. As I was walking down the trail to the pond, I came across two rough looking characters who were dressed in blue jeans and wife beaters. They both grinned maniacally at me as one of them pulled something from his pants pocket.

“So it’s come to this”, I thought as I contemplated my chances against the two husky but out of shape and overweight fellows. I knew I could at least outrun them but it is unfortunately not in my nature to run. I was at least a little relieved when the fellow who had went into his pocket unrolled a handkerchief to reveal a rumpled Morel mushroom. “I fount one” He grinned at me through snaggly teeth and ratty beard, as his companion looked on approvingly. I nodded my acquiescence, and moved on down the trail at a steady pace. It was then that I saw the damage that had been done to the once beautiful lake… it was completely trashed!

Not by the two miscreants, they had only been hunting mushrooms. No! The lake had been trashed by beavers. There were literally no trees that had been left unmarred. Many had been stripped of bark, while others had been gnawed down completely. There were large piles of limbs and branches, (dams) all over the lake. It was a mess. Therefore, for those of you who are uninformed, here are three things you must know when camping in beaver country.

  1. The little rodents are dangerous. Not only will they drop a tree on your tent, they will eat you up if you bother them. Those huge, curved teeth that they are able to gnaw through trees with will go through your flesh and bone with no problem.
  2. They will kill every tree they can get to. There is a reason that the pioneers nearly eradicated these creatures from the face of the earth beyond the need for fur hats.
  3. They are sneaky and hard to find. One of the tricks of locating these creatures, (they will make many lodges and move from lodge to lodge), is to watch the lodges on a frosty morning sand look for one that is steaming. They usually sleep about 9 deep and the vents that they put in their lodges will steam on cold mornings from the breath and body heat escaping.  In the summer watch for the cloud of mosquitos hovering around the vent, attracted by the carbon monoxide being released.
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4 must do tips for varmints

As spring blooms upon us, so does the annual varmint hunts. I speak of course of the wanton shooting of groundhogs, prairie dogs, muskrats, coyotes, field mice, rats, possums, skunks, moles, and other such vermin as are legal to hunt and fun to shoot. I purposely failed to mention either wild dogs or feral cats for obvious reasons that will become apparent as you  read further into this post.

Many people love to hunt varmints for various reasons ranging from target practice to revenge. These creatures are destructive by their very nature, and as such have made bitter enemies with mankind. There is the quandary however, of what exactly to do with varmints after you have successfully hunted them. Here are 4 ways to justify varmint hunts.

  1. Eat them. This is not as nasty as it may sound with the exception of maybe the coyotes and skunks. Muskrat and possum are very tasty if cooked right and both have a very dark, fatty meat. Groundhogs, prairie dogs, mice etc… are good eaters too, and are especially good cooked over an open fire.
  2. Sell them. Ok, you’re going to ask: “who the hell would buy a dead woodchuck?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Most taxidermists will put them to good use for you, They may not give you much if anything, but the hides are useful for taxidermy pieces.
  3. Skin them. Though the fur isn’t worth much anymore, the skins can be used for all manner of crafts and especially for traditional fly tying. There are lots of “outdoorsy types” who will purchase fur and skins for their own nefarious purposes.
  4. Make your own dog food. Why not buy a grinder especially for you K9 friends and grind the flesh and bones of these various varmints, (as well as a few road kill deer), to make a healthy, natural food source? It is more fitting for their digestive tracts than kibbles, and cheaper as well.
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Photo By: The Cross and the Switchblade

In 1958, after a wave of Hollywood driven rhetoric, the Switchblade Act came into effect which essentially took the ability of millions of honest Americans to have a spring assisted knife from being carried on the person. It had a lot to do with the gang violence of New York, and the knee jerk reactions of politicians and bureaucrats who believe in the demonization of everything. Thank God the movie “Gangs of New York” hadn’t been made yet or we would have one hell of a time getting hatchets and meat cleavers… but I digress. There is a new bill in the works which will reverse the act of 1958 and make switchblade knives a legitimate set of working tools again. The Knife Owners’ Protection Act of 2017 was drafted by Arizona Representative Andy Biggs to counter this asinine offensive against cutlery freedom in the nation, which limits the ability for interstate trade and travel with switchblades. Nearly 40 states in the union have already legalized the use of switchblades in one form or another according to Knife Rights Chairman, Doug Ritter, as quoted in a recent article in Knife News. Switchblades are a long time favorite of law enforcement, the military, preppers and survivalists. They are also pretty popular with people with disabilities. Here are three good reasons to invest in a switchblade for survival beyond the fact that they look cool as all hell.

  1. The psychological effect. This effect doesn’t just work in favor of the bearer of the knife by scaring the shiz-izzle out of a potential adversary, but it also emboldens the bearer and elicits a feeling of power whenever wielded as a defensive weapon. Much the same as a policeman’s asp.
  2. It offers an excellent backup weapon. Let’s face it, we’re all vulnerable to catching a round and I have seen plenty of footage where a fellow man at arms caught a round which disabled him and which was soon followed up with a coup de gras… not good! A one handed man’s knife can come in very handy in a situation like that.
  3. They are highly collectible. Not only are these things effective, they are highly collectible if they are well made and produced reputably, specifically German and Italian manufacturers, Boker Knives being a prime example. They are perfect additions to the arsenal whether you are on a full blown survival trip, a military surplus tent adventure, or a family camping endeavor. There are even military surplus switchblades available though federal law prohibits their being sold.
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Photo By: hivewire3d

Though it’s usually military families, or prior military personnel, there is a movement afoot that is as old as the taming of the horse and the invention of the wheel; that of the nomadic lifestyle. The newest twist on this way of life is reminiscent of the Vardo caravans of Gypsy lore. And the fact of the matter is that it isn’t really a new lifestyle, rather it is one that comes and goes in it’s appeal depending on the going culture. Many of us, for example, can remember the free loving spirit of the 1960’s and the allure of Haight-Ashbury that drew so many of the countries youth away from the Viet Nam war and into a nomadic culture of free existence and community living. And though that movement has died for the most part, and was replaced by the yearning for a house in the suburbs and a nine to five, so does the dream come alive again, many times it seems on the heels of a war. It was after WWII that we saw a rise in the biker clubs of the 1950’s and following Viet Nam that we saw the hippie movement. And now, in the wake of the war in the Middle East, we are seeing a new nomad emerge from the ashes, gather his horse and wagon, and drive off into the horizon to live closely with nature. In this instance horse and wagon has been replaced by mini-van and RV. In the 1960’s we saw the VW Micro-bus, and post WWII the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. And so the question is posed regarding what makes veterans of foreign wars so adept at the nomadic lifestyle? What is the allure that draws such men and women into a wandering existence, traveling light and sleeping at night beneath the desert sun, or pitching a military surplus Army tent in the mountains? The answer I think is defined in one word: “freedom”. Many find freedom – true freedom- for the first time in an Army base on a foreign land. And once they get a taste of that freedom, they become possessed by the notion of it and it drives them then… into the wilderness.

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