Monday, December 13, 2010

Finally Filled a Tag

I finally filled a tag this year! With a zip tie in hand, I tagged a nice Abies Procera, more commonly known as the Noble Fir.

Every year the USDA Forest Service offers Christmas tree permits for $5. I always wanted to try “the Griswold family Christmas tree” outing, but procrastination gets the best of me year after year and I usually end up getting a tree from a local U-cut.

We loaded the truck Sunday afternoon; a good handsaw, warm clothes, water and survival gear. We stopped at the Estacada ranger station to purchase a permit for the Mt. Hood National Forest.

The ranger gave us a topo map of the area, pointing out units where he saw good Douglas and Noble fir trees. After coming up with a game plan we got in the truck and started our trek to the wilderness. I made one last call before we got out of cell service:

“Hi Mom it’s me, we are going to the Mt. Hood National Forest to get our Christmas tree. We are going to be along fire road 4016, if you do not hear from me by 9 o’clock tonight, call the search party. No, really, call the search party.”

We zigzagged what seemed like forever on logging roads. The higher up we went, the hairier the road conditions got, thank goodness for four-wheel drive! We finally made it to our location circled on our topo map. No trails and knee-deep snow, we found ourselves in a winter tree-hunting wonderland.

I realized that when at a U-cut place or a Christmas tree lot, much time is spent finding the “perfect” Christmas tree. You usually narrow it down to two or three choices and do a side-by-side comparison.

When out in the wilderness, the first one that meets your criteria is the one that gets the axe! Finding the tree is the easy part, packing it out and getting it on your vehicle is the hard part!

After setting the tree up in the house last night (it touches our 18-foot ceiling), I had a sense of pride similar to that when I hunt. I didn’t go to the store to buy my tree; I scouted in on a map, went out in the wilderness and cut it down with my two hands.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Babes With Bullets Rifle Camp

Shooter make ready...Stand by...BEEP!

And with that, my heart starts racing. I quickly aquire my first target, two shots fired, I move onto several more in the vicinity placing two shots on every target. Feet shuffling, finger on the trigger I get to my next target, it is a hostage situation. I place my crosshairs on the head….CLICK.

Without a second thought, I rack the slide clear the jam and two shots to the head. I then move past a wall. Now is the time to change magazines. I don’t miss a beat as I pass through a doorway that activates two moving targets, each get two shots. I stop, assess that all targets have been shot. I drop my magazine, clear my chamber and show a safe firearm to my timer who happens to be Kay Miculek.

Kay has won several USPSA National Women’s Open Championships, three-time IPSC world champion, 13 time USPSA National Women’s Multi-gun Champion and the list goes on and on.

“25.8 SECONDS” she yells. I follow her fast pace through the course. “Two alpha, alpha Charlie, two alpha, two Charlie, one alpha and ouch, one Mike” she yells to the scorer following behind us. No, I’m not at a match and I am not at a tactical training center. I am in Louisiana attending a Babes With Bullets Rifle Camp.

Nikon is a sponsor of the rifle camp. Smith & Wesson is also a sponsor and provides M&P15s. Nikon tops them with the new M-223 1-4x20 riflescope with the Point Blank Reticle.

I am not going to lie, I expected us to be spending all of our time learning about functions of the modern sporting rifles and shooting paper the rest of the time. Boy was I wrong! We were shooting three yards out to 100 yards. We were shooting prone, off-hand and on the ground. We were moving, working through malfunctions and strategizing when to change our magazines.

It was intense, but I loved every minute of it. The campers were from every walk of life and from around every part of the country. Most had some sort of shooting experience, while others competed at their local ranges in 3-gun competitions and were looking to improve their times and scores.

I learned how to score a match, how to maximize those five minutes to analyze a course and strategize how to move through it and engage all targets. I have never had any experience shooting competitively, but after this camp, I now have the desire to compete with my AR at the local range!

Monday, November 1, 2010

CO Hunt a Success

I just returned home from a great mule deer and antelope hunt in Colorado.

WinchesterAmmunition, Browning/Winchester Repeating Arms, Mossy Oak and Under Armour teamed up to host a cold, snowy, successful hunt.

We hunted in Craig, Colo., with Dick Dodds of Elkhorn Outfitters (

We tested a variety of calibers in Winchester's Power Max Bonded line and their new Power Core 95/5 line, which is a lead free (copper/zinc) product that will be available in 2011.
  • Power Max Bonded: 270 Win, 270 WSM
  • Power Core 95/5: 30-06 and 300 WSM
The animals were taken from 80 yds to 400 yds and the ammo performed great. Not to mention, the guys we were with could shoot. Most of the shots were taken around the 200 yd mark.

We were able to recover a few of the bullets. Here's the 300 WSM Power Core 95/5 bullet that was recovered from John Taranto's (Outdoor Life) mule deer.

As you can see, all four petals are still attached and are rolled back perfectly. Nearly 100% of the weight was retained from this shot.

We are only days away from launching Winchester's 2011 new product line, so keep your ears and eyes open for the latest information about their new product.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I Love my Backyard Part 2!

This guy made the mistake of walking by my treestand yesterday afternoon. And while he's not big by even South Carolina's modest standards, he's my first buck with a recurve and I'm more proud of him than any buck I've taken.....other than my very first.

If you're interested, I was shooting a Stalker recurve built by South Cox. Stalker Recurves

Despite getting a doe every year, it's taken 3 years of hard hunting to get a buck with my recurve. All the close calls, missed opportunities and missed shots have be worth it. I'm hooked forever.

Something about hunting with a recurve reminds me of when I first started bowhunting. Introduced by a neighbor and his wife, who both hunted and shot competitively, I bugged the heck out of them for stories and advice. I can still remember the way my first bow, an old Jennings T-star with a metal rise, felt in my hand. That bow is long gone as are a lot of the woods I used to roam, but it hooked me on bowhunting. Not a year has gone by that I don't spend as much time as possible chasing whitetails with a bow of some kind.

From failing my first period algebra class in 12th grade due to absences (still made honor society much to my mom's anger) or taking a semester or two off in college, I never let the less important things get in the way of hunting. It's good I landed a job in the outdoor industry sinc no doubt I'm unfit for any other form of employment.

We all hunt for the same reasons, but those reasons may not always apply to the same deer. And that's fine. For me, this little 6 pt, taken no more than 100-yards from my back door, from a stand I hung, near a plot I planted and no less than 30-minutes afterI stopped hearing my son and wife playing in the yard, sums up the reasons I hunt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pike County, Illinois with My Bow!

For three years I have been going to the same deer camp to film for Archer's Choice TV. I swear, every year the trip gets better!

I landed in St. Louis and met up with my friend Katie from Ameristep. We drove to Eagle Lakes Outfitters in Pike County, Illinois. For one week, women from all over the country gather to share camp and bowhunt the legendary whitetails the area is known for.

Once Katie and I arrived at the lodge, we met up with our good friends from Archer’s Choice Media and Eagle Lakes. We got our gear settled and teamed up with ladies for the next day’s hunt. What made this hunt TRULY a ladies hunt was the fact that women were filming women hunt (prior years we would have guys film us). How cool is that?

I paired off with Jen Johnson from Archer’s Choice. Jen and I hunted together for the first half of the trip. We I had several encounters with the local wildlife that included a bird flying in our blind, being chased by a crazy groundhog and occasionaly being puked on by a squirrel. However, we hadn’t had a bow range encounter with a deer yet. Being superstitious, Jen and I went our separate ways and she shot a doe!

One afternoon my guide asked me if I was afraid to climb anything. Some of the women in camp didn’t feel comfortable climbing into stands. I told my guide that I would climb anything (lies, I was really only comfortable with ladders and low hang-ons). I figured he had a honey hole and I didn’t want to wimp out on it!

He took me to a stand that had the screw in pegs and let me tell you…it was WAY up there. Whoever put up the pegs must have been 6 feet taller than me! My camera guy scooted up the tree like a monkey. I was shaking at the bottom not knowing what to do. I took a deep breath started to climb and only focused on where my next step would be. Before I knew it, I was on the platform. I got my Hunter Safety Harness tethered to the tree, and took a breath. I was still shaking, but I was thrilled that I faced my fears and got into that tree. I felt like I was on top of the world.

I got settled in and looked around. I was in timber, and every tree within 30 yards of the stand was TORE UP. I got excited seeing all the rubs on the surrounding trees. My excitement was quickly overcome with boredom, as nothing was moving.

Just as the sun was going down, I heard my friend say, “BUCK.” Instantly my knees went weak. I got a glimpse, a nice 9-point. The next words my friend said broke my heart, “Don’t shoot, he’s a 120, maybe a 125.” We were hunting in an area where you must shoot a 130 or better.

I watched as he stood 25 yards broadside, his head behind a tree. I would have smoked him with my Hoyt! It was hard to watch him walk off, but I need to tell myself he will be even bigger next year! It was so neat to have an encounter with a good buck.

The week went by fast. It is hard to be back in the office. I would love to be back in a treestand and sharing camp with girls from all over the country who share the same passion: bowhunting and whitetails.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

dialing them in

I love my back yard. And the reason is that while you might get a headache from a falling acorn, you can also shoot a bow, pattern a shotgun or even check a rifle's zero if need be. I do let my closest neighbor know that it's just me sighting in. He's a Police Officer and I wouldn't want him to think I was in a gunfight with a home invader.

Karen saw a new picnic table as a spot for quests and parties. I sat
down at it and saw it to be a great shooting bench. Plus I wouldn't have to move it in and out when I need it. Our wireless network means I can use my laptop and Nikon's Spot On
software (For client business only Greg, if you're reading this) to dial my particular BDC reticle in to the specific round I'm using.

This time I was checking a .243. I learned that with the Winchester XP3 load I am shooting it actual fits my needs better to dial it in for a 200-yard zero instead of the usual 100-yard one. I would not have considered that were it not for Spot On being right there beside me showing me the light. Now the reticle chart is printed out and taped to the stock, ready for action on a longer range.

Even if your range isn't wireless, it won't be long before you can use Spot On on your iPhone or get a disc to load it on your laptop.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Caliber Do You Prefer?

Since I was a young boy (old enough to handle a firearm safely), I've grown up using a Model 70 .270 Win. Why? Because that was the first centerfire rifle I received, it's a dependable gun and because it's all I need for whitetail hunting in South Carolina. I continue to use this exact same gun today.

What caliber rifle do you prefer using when hunting whitetails, antelope and other wild game of this size? And why?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

starting the season off

Author Tom Kelly would call it a "field expediency." My dad would say I "made do." I just knew I was not driving back to the house to get it and I am too old to hunt without it. So, I dug a motorcycle ratchet strap out of my truck and used it to tether myself to the tree. I figured if it will keep a 900-lb motorcycle on a trailer at 70mph it should keep a sweaty, 200lb bowhunter from falling.

In defense of my decision, I did have the vest, just not the tree strap.

The deer, the reason I was up the tree in the first place, decided to show up from an unexpected direction and winded me before it even got close to being in range.

And for the record, if it would have been my Thermacell I left behind, you can bet I would have gone back to the house and gotten it. I'm not that crazy....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Preparation Is Key To Success

In most areas of the country deer season is in or only a few days away and hunters are preparing for the season. While it's important to scout, plant food plots, hang your stand in the "sweet spot," get your camo ready and purchase your license, it's equally important to make sure your firearm is still punching close groups on the target.
You never know how your scope may have been bumped around during the off season.
If you have an iPhone, I suggest downloading Winchester Ammunition's Ballistics Calculator from iPhone Apps for free and taking it to the range with you.

If you don't have an iPhone, you can still take advantage of this fantastic tool on Winchester's Web site. Type in your coordinates for the day, print and take to the range.
The Web based calculator is live at
The iPhone version of Winchester’s Ballistics Calculator, which was just launched at the beginning of 2010, allows you to choose the type of ammunition and compare up to three different Winchester products with easy-to-read, high-tech ballistic charts and graphs. You can customize shooting conditions by entering wind speed and outside temperature, adjust zero marks for sighting in.

Here's an image that explains what I'm talking about:

Good luck to everyone this season, remember "safety first" and have fun!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back In The Swing Of Things

I know that I've been pretty slack about blogging me, CJ has made sure to remind me of it.

Well...I'm back! I'll be keeping you guys up to speed on what's new with Winchester and their 2011 new products in the coming weeks. Still got to keep things quiet, but I can assure you, that they have a great lineup that covers a wide range of calibers, gauges, etc.

While it's still mid 90 degree weather here in SC, we're getting ready for the fall hunting season. To get you in the mood, you need to check out Winchester's tv shows on Versus.

They offer a great lineup of hunting shows. Versus reaches out to more than 74 million households.

“Winchester Whitetail Revolution" “World of Whitetails with Larry Weishuhn" and “Winchester Legends,” are going to have some exciting and adventurous shows this year.

To find the VERSUS channel number for your area, visit

Till next time...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Robin Hood 2!

Hey CJ, I think I am ready for bow season too! I was at the POMA Conference held in LaPorte, Indiana last month and was trying out new Bowtech bows. Since it was a demo bow, everything was new to me; the rest, sights, release, draw length, draw weight, etc. I was flinging some arrows when one made an interesting sound. Turns out....shot my first robin hood!

Monday, August 23, 2010

robin hood?

I was trying out a couple of different arrow brands and sizes over the weekend. Trying to determine which ones I would be using for an upcoming hunt in Missouri. Looks like it will be the Gold Tips with this particular compound.

Wish I shot like that all the time.....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

iPhone bow geek?

I've always joked about being a bow geek but I think I have officially crossed the line into geekdom. Of course there is an app for everything, but who knew there was one for an audio meter?? I had to get it so I can test my bows and find out which one is actually the quietest.

With my luck, the one I shoot the best will probably be the loudest.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 Bowcast at the Bird

This month I had the opportunity to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend Bowcast at the Bird. Bowcast is an online community and host to podcasts targeted for the high-octane extreme bowhunter. Every summer, Bowcast hosts a 3D shoot at the Snowbird ski resort. This shoot is unlike any other 3D shoot out there. Think four different courses above 10,000 feet, targets that simulate real western hunting, shots that humble the most seasoned hunter and a great group of people.

I will admit, there were nerves mixed in with my excitement. This was my first 3D shoot ever. I was also going alone and did not have the comfort of knowing whom I was going to shoot with.

While I couldn’t shake my nerves on the practice line, I did meet Carrie Z, a Bowcast blogger. Every once in a blue moon you find that person that you just click with. Carrie and I decided we need to share a blind this year. We also met up with a few other Bowcast damsels and shot the courses.

I had a blast hiking the Utah alpine (granted my lungs were not happy with the elevation change). We would scale rock croppings and shoot a bear (target) downhill 40.8 yards in between two trees. We would be walking along a ridge, and 50 yards away would be a muley (target) across a small canyon with a strong wind blowing. One of my favorites, a hog (target), just below a grass hill about 35 yards, only his top half is showing.

Every target was a different challenge. You had to assess the scenario and surroundings, go back to the fundamentals of bowhunting (breathe, anchor the same, squeeze the release, don’t drop your arm, etc.).

Every group I shot with was a great experience. I shot with people from all over the United States. We shared hunting stories and life stories. We traded tips and even gear. My shooting skills were challenged and the courses were physically demanding…and I liked it!

If you are looking for a 3D shoot unlike any other out there, and if you want to meet a great group of welcoming bow fanatics, book a flight to Salt Lake City, Utah for Bowcast at the Bird 2011. I for sure will be there!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shannon's Canadian Sub-Arctic Bear Hunt

As soon as I booked the flight and got my passport I thought to myself, “Can I really handle this?” A week in the Canadian Sub-Arctic with no running water, limited electricity, tents and a hole in the ground with a piece of plywood as a toilet, I questioned if I was capable of a wilderness hunt.

The months leading up to my Manitoba bear hunt, I practiced with my Vicxen everyday. I simulated countless shooting scenarios as well as mentally prepared myself for the wilderness. I also brushed up on my camera skills, as I would be filming Vicki Cianciarulo of Archer’s Choice TV!

Finally the day arrived and I was in Winnipeg boarding a chartered plane with Vicki, Ralph and Dusty (from the ACM Posse) to the main lodge. The plane banked hard to the right and we got a great view of the gravel runway with a bear crossing it! Shortly after landing, we boarded a float plane to our final destination. Dusty and myself were nervous as we both had never flown on a float plane, it is safe to say we both got over our fear of air turbulence and actually enjoy float planes! About 45 minutes later we landed on Whitmore Lake (google it). Our guides John and Marshall were there with boats to greet us and take us to our camp on an island. We unloaded our gear and got settled into camp.

The next morning we got up and ran bait with the guides. We checked the Stealth Cams to see what bears were hitting the bait and restock the bait if necessary. It was on this morning that I realized I loved bear hunting for the following reasons:

1) You get to sleep in late

2) The bait is perfect for snacking; popcorn and licorice are two of my favorite things

The next few days we saw quality bears, but no shot opportunities. It was exciting since I had never seen a bear in the wild! Vicki taught me how to judge a bear, how to tell the difference between a sow and a boar as well as how to stay composed in the presence of a bear (breathe, no sudden movements, etc.).

I also got to experience the camaraderie of our small camp. All of the laughter around a pot of coffee, the pranks around camp and stories told by the guides of past hunting adventures, I will never forget.

I was also taking a liking to the wilderness hunt. We fished for Walleye for our meals and built fires to keep warm. It was so neat to be camping in such a remote location. I got to see the Northern Lights, a mating pair of artic wolves and see land that no human has ever walked. It was a really humbling experience.

On the fourth day it was Vicki’s turn to hunt. Dusty made two of her lucky peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It worked for Ralph, he shot an amazing chocolate bear the day Dusty made him a PB&J. We ate our PB&Js as soon as we got settled in. Vicki and I were in hour 8 or 9 of the 11-hour sit when like a ghost, a quality bear appeared. I was excited because if this boar came into the bait, I would have the honor of filming Vicki!

The boar came in and immediately sat behind the bait. We waited and waited. Vicki had that all familiar look of contemplation and I asked her what she was thinking. She turned and said, “Give me the camera.”

Questioning Vicki how I was going to logistically hand her the camera, tripod, headphones, change the second angle camera, get my bow out of the sling, put on my release, take off my quiver and knock an arrow without alerting the bear that is stands 14 yards away. To which she replied, “Slowly and quietly.”

After a few minutes, the camera was in Vicki’s hands and I was standing with my Vicxen, waiting for the perfect opportunity. An hour went by and no shot. I kept reminding myself to stay calm, draw and anchor the same way I practiced, pick a spot on the bear, don’t jerk the trigger and keep my arm up. Finally the bear stood up and gave me a broadside shot.

I watched as my Beman hit the double-lung sweet spot. My bear ran 44 yards from the stand. Every doubt I had about myself and every fear I thought vanished when that bear dropped. Emotions overwhelmed me when I looked at Vicki and whispered, “I did it.”

This was a life-changing hunt. I questioned if I would be capable of living in the wilderness for a week without life’s luxuries, if I would be capable of hunting an animal that could hunt me back and if I would be capable of accepting that if something went wrong, help was a day away. Not only did I learn that I am capable of all of this, but I enjoyed every moment of it. This hunt instilled a newfound confidence inside of me. When I accepted the invitation from Vicki, I had no idea it was going to change my life.

I can’t thank Ralph and Vicki enough for giving me the opportunity to go on this hunt, especially Vicki; that should have been her bear. She is the most giving person I know, and I am grateful to have her as my friend. Also, without the continual support of my coworkers, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today, thank you. I want to thank Dusty for my lucky PB&J and making me laugh time and time again.

Thank you to Ken Gangler for an unforgettable experience in your territory. A big thanks to our guides John and Marshall, who both taught me so much about bear hunting. It is a priceless and solid foundation that I will utilize for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canadian Sub-Arctic Hunt - Photo Blog

Photo Blog of Shannon's First Black Bear Hunt

First chartered flight!

The runway at the's dirt!!

Dusty films the arrival

Float plane to camp

Home sweet home

Looks like a bomb of equipment went off!

No need to explain

Laundry day

Poor Ralph, wilderness hunt with a bunch of girls!

Vicki fishing for some lunch

Happy guide!

Walleye paradise

Who can resist candy?

Common sight every evening

Sunset at midnight

About as dark as it gets

Yes, it is a Thursday, and we are at work!

Once again, who can resist candy?

Ralph's huge chocolate bear

Dusty's black bear

FIRST black bear!


Behind the scenes
Happy hunter!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Chores

Summer means beaches and vacations to a lot people but for turkey hunters it means chufa planting. Since our turkey population here in SC seems to be on a decline, its more important than ever to manage the habitat on our hunting ground. Chufa is a great tool for turkey habitat improvement just about anywhere corn will grow.

In case you didn't know, chufa is a plant that looks like decorative border grass. It produces underground tubers that turkeys, pigs and ducks (when flooded) love. I'm hoping the pigs leave mine to the turkeys.

The NWTF imports their Turkey Gold Chufa brand from Spain but there are growers here in the states that produce it for sale as well. Click here to see some FAQs about chufa.

Planting in June is a hot, muggy undertaking but good friend Patrick and I braved the heat and deer flies yesterday afternoon to get a few chufa plots planted. The process is not simple and usually requires multiple trips to the property to kill weeds, prepare the seed bed, fertilize and plant.

Sweat equity at it's finest. Hopefully these plots will pay big dividends next spring by holding at least a couple of gobblers on our lease. And if you know where these plots are please don't tell Shannon or Kelly......