Squirrel Alert: Using Natures Sentries to Score.


I have lived in Tennessee for close to 16 years, hunted deer a few times here, but most of the time, I would drive back to West Virginia to hunt. When I did hunt in Tennessee, it was on TWRA land, and myself along with other hunters who didn’t own land to hunt on would be there.

This year I was fortunate enough to have a land owner offer his land to allow me to hunt and the best part, it was only five miles away. So, opening day of gun season came around yesterday, it was sunny, but cold. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the ground was soggy from the storms the night before. I can’t really remember a time that I went into the woods and never saw a deer, but opening day 2016, that is just what happened. img_4119I stayed out all day, trying different locations, knowing the deer were bedded down, but one of the other parts about West Tennessee, is that it is fields and brush.

So as tough as it was to admit I didn’t see a deer opening day, I got up early the second day (today) and decided to try a new strategy. I started out in a 50 yard open woods (pretty much the only open woods on the land) that I had placed a game camera in img_4117before season. I had seen many does, turkeys, and what I thought (and still do) to be wild hogs. I hoped that something would come by. But as the time went on, nothing, and so I moved.

 

I decided to set up behind a log, near a large field. Hoping that I could glass the fringe of the brush. Around 10 a.m. I heard a squirrel barking and I knew something was there, I just could not see it.img_4122

After about 10 minutes of listening to the sentry alarm, I caught a glimpse of something on the ground. At first I thought it might be a rabbit or the sentry, but as it came up over the rolling field, I saw the first deer in the past two days of hunting. It was a nice one, not a wall-hanger, but a trophy for the plate. So I waited until he stopped walking and shot. He began to run, so I shot again as he ducked into the woods.

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I walked over to find a bright red trail and within 20 yards, there he was.

 

 

Trophy for the plate, a nice six point. Every day I am able to hunt, I thank God for the beauty he put on earth and the food to fill my freezer.img_4130

 

Even on days that I don’t see a deer, I call it a success, because I am able to enjoy the outdoors.

 

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Women Hit the Woods: Inspire a New Generation of Hunters


By Jeff Nichols

There is a whole new generation of hunters coming up and I am very proud and impressed by their ethics and skills. To top it off, I am very happy to see a very large number of women and girls who are starting to hunt and enjoy the outdoors. Eva Shockey, Kendall Jones, Taylor Altom, and Stephanie Ray just to name a few, are some of those women who are showing the world that there is nothing wrong with hunting ethically and harvesting game for food. You see the photos, read the articles, but there is more to hunting than pulling the trigger. That is just the beginning, after the animal goes down, then the work starts, field dressing, dragging, skinning and processing. But they all do it with excitement and a smile on their faces. Those smiles and those actions have caught the attention of a lot of young girls who see what these great role models are doing and are beginning to follow in their footsteps.

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Stephanie Ray hunting with her grandfather’s Winchester model 12 shotgun.

Stephanie Ray, from southern Michigan is one of the women above that has taken to the outdoors to enjoy nature and engage in ethical hunting.

What got her into hunting is the question most people will ask, and for Stephanie and just about every other hunter, the answer is usually the same. “I hunt because I love the outdoors, the sport, and the challenge. I have a sense of pride that I can provide meat for myself and my family,” Stephanie says. “Being in the woods also gives me time to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature while spending quality time with friends who enjoy the same things I do.”

After growing up in the city Stephanie decided to move to the country eight years ago, and it was seven years ago, she decided to see what hunting was about. “I went and sat in a blind with the guy I was dating at the time on a bow hunt,” she recalls. “He shot a nice buck, and me, always up for a challenge, wanted to try it too. So I bought a bow and the deal was if I practiced, and was consistent, I could go.”

Like so many other hunters, with practice and the right equipment, she set out to become proficient and comfortable with her bow.

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Stephanie practicing during the off-season.

“Within a week, I was consistent. My first time out, I shot the first deer I saw, and watched it fall,” she says. “Although I was able to tune out, ‘shoot her, shoot her’ and focus, we walked up on a button buck. I was still so happy, and honestly wasn’t sure if this was a bad thing – I grew up in the city. This was all new to me.”

 

Although women have been hunting since the beginning of the human race, it wasn’t until a few years ago when they began featuring women hunters on prominent hunting shows and in outdoor magazines. Now with a new group of young women hunting, the sport has gotten a whole new generation interested in the outdoors.

Like many others, Stephanie loved being in the outdoors and after harvesting her first deer with a bow, she decided to try gun hunting. “After I shot my first deer I was pretty hooked, she said. “Gun season rolled around here in Michigan and I figured I better get a gun.” So she bought a Remington 870 20 gauge shotgun and shot two does that season.

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Stephanie’s first buck.

The following season she shot a nice eight point during gun season, and many people told her that she would never take another buck that large. “I’m honestly glad that was my first buck,” Stephanie stated. ” He humbled me. Set my standards and the bar high. I’ve let dozens of smaller bucks walk, and I’m OK with it.”

Over the past few years, hunting has become a passion for Stephanie. She hunts small game, waterfowl, turkey, and  fishes. “I’m very lucky to have a great support system, my friends and boyfriend that offer their wisdom and experiences, share their passion, and share the fun.”

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Stephanie’s grandparents circa 1940s.

One thing that Stephanie holds close to her heart is the Winchester model 12 shotgun her late grandfather left to her father. Her grandparents hunted small game growing up and now she uses it to hunt squirrels and geese.  “It’s awesome to hunt with! I shot my first squirrels and geese with it this year,” she said. “The first time I took it out I had tears in my eyes.”

With the legacy she found from her past, Stephanie is definitely making the most out of her time in the field and sharing stories and experiences with others. This is what role models do and for years to come, women like Stephanie will not only be helping with conservation of wildlife, but teaching young men and women how to enjoy the outdoors.

 

 

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The Smell of Fall: Hunting Season is Here!


Ah, the smell of fall! Leaves falling (not fast enough in the south), squirrel season is open, bow season is open and people are hitting the woods. In a few short weeks, all the leaves will be down, the smell of firewood will drift through the air and then comes the grand-daddy of seasons, Bucks Only gun season.
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Every year, during the early seasons, it is a time to get out with family, scout your areas, sight in your guns and have some real fun, all to get ready for buck season. Of course in the south, that same time is also a great time to fish.

 

This year I was fortunate enough to be allowed to hunt on a piece of land very close to where I live, so I bought a new trail cam and set it out. Every time you check the camera card, it is just like Christmas, because you don’t know what you are going to see walking past your camera. Today I was happy to see some deer, a coyote, raccoon and an armadillo (as you can see in the photos below).

img_3926This past weekend, I decided to go to a wildlife management area and hunt some squirrels, as stated above, the leaves in the south are very reluctant to leave the tree right now, so it made it hard to see the little nut eaters!

I was successful in taking one squirrel, which will taste delicious very soon. But more important it was just a nice stress-free day, with no noise except for the wildlife. Believe me, I need about 364 days of that!

Now that we are full into fall, awaiting the first frost, just being outside allows you to breath better, think better and relax… until the BUCK shows up! The excitement is always swift and never goes away no matter how old you get. A few years ago, I went back home to West Virginia to hunt with my family. The day before season came in, we took a drive and got some great photos of deer. Buck-2One in particular was chasing does in the field across from the house. The next morning we got up to hunt. It was freezing rain and cold. As I sat in my favorite spot before daylight, I noticed my eye was twitching. After a couple hours, it bothered me so much that I decided to go to the house to find out what was wrong. Walking along a path, I looked over this bank into this “holler” and I saw a deer. It turned its head and I saw it was huge, the same buck I saw the day before. So I pulled my gun up and my scope was wet and fogged up. I cleaned it quickly and pulled up again, only to notice the deer was moving and I had the scope set on the highest power. I saw brown fur and pulled the trigger! Dang it, I missed and because I didn’t take the moment (that I didn’t think I had) to readjust the setting! 

Needless to say, I kicked myself all the way to the house to find out I had put my contact lens in backward. So two lessons learned and a 10 point was still running the hills.

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Fortunately, a couple days later, I took a nice nine point
The lesson here is, that at 52 years old, I still get excited, even after harvesting close to 100 deer in my lifetime, each one brings something a little different each hunt. Also, missing is still part of hunting. You will never get every thing you shoot at. I had a guy tell me once, I have taken every deer I have shot at. I told him he needs to keep that to himself, because being cocky and thinking you are a great shot will come back in a big way. And of course it did, he went turkey hunting, had a nice gobbler 15 yards away and missed. I didn’t let him live that down, nor should I!

With all of this being said, the one thing to take from all the jibberish I just wrote, is go out, enjoy the outdoors, make memories with your family and tell tall tales about the one that got away. Next year at this time, I will be back in West Virginia in my old hunting grounds and filling my tags. I sure do look forward to that!

Best of luck this hunting season and I hope that the your aim is steady and your freezer gets filled.

Note: I really like the app called Prisma, turns a normal photo into a work of art. As you can see from some of the photos above.

 

 

 

 

 

Where are all the Cowboys?


As a kid growing up in the late 60’s through the 70’s I used to hurry home from school to watch all of the western TV shows I could watch. Seemed to always be a show on, with the good guys vs the bandits. Bonanza, The Big Valley, The High Chaparral, Gunsmoke and my personal favorite,  The VirginianBefore these came to be, you had The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Rawhide, Cheyenne and Maverick.

That is a lot of westerns in a time that was simpler. You idolized the stars of the TV shows because they did everything they could to do the right thing. Were there people shot? Yes. Were there fights? Yes. But you always knew that at the end of the show, the good guy was going to win. As kids we went outside and played cowboys and indians, or cowboys and bandits, and no one thought twice about it. You had side kicks like Tonto, Gabby Hayes, and Festus, who were always there to help out when needed, even when outnumbered.

That was a long time ago, but it has always stuck in my mind. It always taught me that there was a right way and a wrong way and if you were a bandit, you were going to get caught.

Nowadays, kids have no westerns, no heroes to look up to. They are either watching the Kardashians, Jersey Shore or some other moralless show that allows the public to watch people who do not care that kids watch, and have no regard for decency.

Now there are a few movies out there that uphold the rules for a good western, with my personal favorite being Tombstone which is based on a true story. Again, the good guys come out on top and the criminals are either arrested or shot. Yeah it was a rough time in those days, but that is how it had to be. Another favorite, is Pure Country where there were no guns, a little fighting, but had a moral to the story. In my haste to remember all of the great western movies, I would be remiss to not mention Tom Selleck as being one of the best for bringing authenticity to a movie. In the movie Monte Walsh William Devane had a great moment explaining what being a cowboy really meant:

 

Western movies are few and far apart these days, but there are a few that worth watching.

Because we as a culture have lost our way, forgot our past (except when convenient for political reasons) we tend to not talk about or teach our kids how history shapes things. The many movies made about The Alamo are all my favorites as well, as it told the way that we as Americans fought for what we believed in, even outnumbered by 6000. Heroes of the day, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and all those at the Alamo fought along side of 200 others against the Mexican Army of over 6000 and held them off for 13 days.

Those are the real heroes, those who fought against all odds!

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It would be nice to come home at night and once again be able to sit down with our family and cheer for the cowboy to beat the bad guys once again.

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the reasons I have decided to try and build my dream around an old west town, and ranch. Because I think that not only will it be fun, but also bring back the heroes from the old west.

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Maybe just maybe the simple life will come back!

Via Con Dios, My friend!

 

 

 

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The Circle V Ranch and Old West Town


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Me circa 1968.

Back in 2004, I came up with an idea, and at first, it was just kind of fun, and sort of just a dream. The dream was something I had since I was just a little guy, one of being a cowboy, riding the range and working cattle, horses and chasing the bad guys. It wasn’t until this past year, after turning over 50, that I thought to myself “What the heck, I am not getting any younger and what if I can do this?”

So, I decided to make more precise plans, write out exactly what I wanted to do, draw some concepts and maybe, just maybe some willing investor would like to join me in this venture.

The idea (which is listed below) is to be able to move back to West Virginia, to the county I grew up in, and if able to acquire the money and the land, that it just may help out the local economy and do something that hasn’t been done.

To start off, the namesake to my idea, is Velvet. She was a quarter horse that was two years older than me, and I spent my whole childhood with her, feeding her, watering her, riding. She lived a very good life, and passed away in 1991 at the age of 29, while I was overseas during Desert Storm.

Velvet

Now the whole idea is listed below, and for anyone who would like a certified copy of the concept, I can provide that.

 


 

  • The Circle V Ranch and Velvet City is a one of a kind ranch, old western town and community farm where visitors can relive the way it was in the old West. At the ranch, you can rent a horse for a trail ride, or go on a guided trail ride; hitch up a buggy and take a leisurely ride down the road or across the countryside; head into town for some authentic western shopping and eat at one of the fine restaurants serving straight from the “farm to the plate.”

 

  • Watch as bank robbers take off and get deputized to chase them down and take them back to jail.

 

  • Kids can enjoy learning about the western lifestyle, riding horses, working with livestock, working the farm and even attend one of three summer camps during the summer.

 

  • Visitors can go out to the community farm and get fresh produce, place an order for beef, and be assured that everything they purchase is GMO free, which means it is all natural.

 

  • Every weekend, visitors can enjoy a concert by local country music and bluegrass bands or go to one of the various entertainment venues, such as the dance hall, saloon, or pool hall.

 

  • If you are looking to rough it, ride out with the chuck wagon and sleep under the stars with the cowboys watching over the herd. You might even get a singing cowboy out by the fire.

 

  • If you like shooting sports and want to try your luck to see how good your draw and aim are, you can head on over to the range and try out our cowboy challenge. There you can rent a six-shooter, shotgun and rifle and see how good you really are. Archery will also be available as well.

 

  • Want to take a ride on the stage coach, well it comes by several times a day for rides.

 

  • There will be a blacksmith and farrier on site in case you throw a shoe.

 

  • Stay overnight in the local hotel, enjoy the authentic western atmosphere.

 

  • Cabins will be scattered out back of the town for those who would like to stay a couple days or a few days.

 

  • If you come out for a summer camp, or you are staff cowboys, there will be bunkhouses to stay in.

 

  • Do you like the rodeo? Once a month our cowboys and local cowboys will compete for points to be awarded the top cowboy at the end of the season.

 

  • During the winter months, you can enjoy good food, poker, pool and entertainment in town. You can also take a sleigh ride when the snow is right.

 

  • Every week, pick up the local newspaper that will have stories and photographs of all that went out for that week with photos of visitors interacting with the town and ranch. A photographer will be on hand to photograph you as well.

 

  • There will be a doctor ( or EMT) on hand to patch up any scrapes and nicks you might get while visiting our town.

 

  • On Sundays, come out and enjoy sermons and fellowship at our cowboy church. Horse, buggies and lunch for those who attend church is free.

 

  • The town, ranch and farm will be made available for movie sets and the concerts will all be taped and be made available for use by bands who participate for free in lieu for performances. Bands can also ask for donations for the show.

That is a lot of information I know, but I always think in the way that, what if someone likes the idea? What if someone would love to be a part of something that will not only help out the local economy, but also give folks who want to relive the old days and learn how they lived back then? I think it is worth giving it a shot. six_gun
Right now we are looking for investors who will be full partners to purchase land, livestock, equipment and building supplies.

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Click on each photo to see the full size (not scale).

This is a great start up opportunity for those who love the Old West.

For more information or you would like to invest please fill out the Contact Form.

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There I was (37 years ago)…


37 years ago I experienced one of my greatest hunts in my life and I was only 14 years old!

We were off school for Veteran’s Day, and at that time in my life (most of my life), in the fall, when school was not in session I was in the woods.

While walking up my favorite tree stand before daylight, I saw four does bedded down about 50 yards from the stand. They jumped and started running. after watching them run off I proceeded to climb up into the stand and get settled in. Hanging my Bear Whitetail Hunter bow in the tree, I sat back against the tree and waited. It was a cold morning, and a heavy frost had set in the night before. As I sat there, I was getting pretty chilled, that is until the sun started coming out and shined right on me. The warmth felt really good and I closed my eyes for a minute. When I opened them back up (it was around 9 a.m.) and something shining in the sunlight caught my eye off to the left.

If you look long and hard enough, you might get to see a large buck like this 10 point.

 

I looked down and it was a very nice buck, walking steadily with his nose to the ground. He was heading right down to where the does were earlier that morning. When he got about 35 yards away, he stopped. I drew back and let an arrow fly. Dang thing hit the tree right in front of him. He bolted and my heart sank. Now it should be noted that at that particular time, I was shooting instinctive, which means, I was not using a sight or a release.

After the miss, I stood there more mad than anything as he stood about 100 yards away looking around, then to my amazement he decided to put his nose on the ground and walk right back up to the same exact spot! Wrong move for him! I drew back, let the arrow fly and hit him!

Now I was not cold anymore. I waited for a little bit, then got out of the tree. I walked over to the last place I saw him and found some blood. Then a little bit further, and found a lot of blood. So I decided to get some help tracking. We tracked that deer, with a blood trail that was not hard to follow at all, for about 300 to 400 yards. Then out of nowhere, the spigot ran dry.

Deer are more active during the fall and have lost the velvet from their anlters and prepare for the breeding season.

Most of the time, when a deer stops bleeding, it means that he is probably down, maybe jumped off the trail, or in a pile of brush. We did a circle around the area to see if we could find the deer. No luck. I had to go to school the next day and I had someone else look for it. As luck would have it, someone did find it, said a truck had hit it, although, sure didn’t look like it, since it had only one hole in the lungs from an arrow. I was asked what the antlers looked like, and explained that on the right side there was a fork in one of the tines. That proved that this was the buck that I had shot and it was a nice 14 point, but never got to put my hands on him!

Even though I did not get to bring that nice buck home with me, it was still a great hunt!

If only we had iPhones and digital cameras then…

Still, to this day, I will never forget that hunt!