The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Category: bow hunting (page 1 of 3)

It’s The Freakin’ Weekend

img_2735

The obnoxious ring tone of your alarm jerks you awake. For a moment, you simply lay there before realizing how strange it is that at some moment in the past, you purposefully chose an alarm style. You tried different tones and jingles, wondering whether or not it actually had the ‘umph’ to get you out of bed. But after a few minute of searching, you finally found it.

This is the one. This is the alarm tone I will grow to hate. Time to ruin this jingle forever.

It’s 6:00am on a Monday morning and it’s time to go do that thing. That thing that so many of us do every week: Work.

Whether you enjoy your job or not, very rarely is anyone super stoked to be woken from a nice slumber, only to realize it’s not the weekend anymore. Alas, you’ve got five more days of this and another four rude awakenings before you can cut loose again. But at that moment, you merely stare at the ceiling and mentally prepare for what’s going to be another long work week.

Though you may work in an office, you’re an outdoorsman at heart. The only thing that makes your coworker, Janet’s insufferable stories around the water cooler even somewhat tolerable is the anticipation of hitting the woods on the weekend. It’s archery season, and chasing that big buck has been on your mind for almost a year now. The national forest you grew up hunting is just an hour outside of town, and the only thing standing between you and that tree stand you’ve picked out are five days of conference calls, emails, and TPS reports. The woods are calling.

By Friday afternoon you’re completely exhausted. It’s been a hell of a work week, but the one thing that’s gotten you by is the thought of Saturday morning. The crisp, cool Autumn air, the smell of the trees, and the anticipation of seeing deer has been on your mind since Monday morning. And so when you finally clock out for the week, you can barely contain your excitement. Tomorrow’s the big day and you race home to make sure everything’s ready.

It’s odd that the alarm that you absolutely loathed on Monday morning is now a welcomed friend Saturday morning at 4:00am. With a groggy mixture of excitement and anticipation, you get dressed and head out to the woods. The drive is actually kind of nice. Unlike the commute to work every morning, the roads are fairly empty at this ungodly hour. Who in their right mind would be up this early on the weekend anyway?

Soon you reach the cut off road for the national forest and turn down an old, bumpy dirt road. A few moments later a pair of headlights turn onto the same dirt road a few hundred yards behind you.

Hmm…Must be another hunter

With the excitement of getting to your stand beginning to creep up, you speed up a little bit as you head down the road. Soon, your headlights begin to pick up clouds of dust, and it isn’t long before taillights appear in front. The wire cable of a tree stand can clearly be seen poking up from behind the tailgate of the truck in front, and it’s obvious this hunter is on the way to his spot as well.

Eventually you turn off the road onto another and lose sight of the other two trucks. Not far up ahead is where you’ll park and walk in. It’s an area that you -thought- was relatively secluded. So it comes as a surprise when you round the corner only to find a truck parked where you were planning. Your headlights shine on the hunter as he’s getting everything ready to walk into the woods.

Damn it

You get out and greet the other hunter. To your relief, he describes where he’ll be and it’s no where near where you were planning. So with that, you ready yourself, slap the climber on your back and grab your bow before walking down the trail you marked during scouting season.

Once up the tree, you quietly wait as the woods slowly begin to wake up. It’s the magic hour. This is what you were waiting for all week. A chance to escape the office. To spend some time in peaceful tranquility, uninterrupted by the hustle and bustle of every day life. With twilight quickly turning into day, you begin to scan the woods for deer. It doesn’t take long before you catch a glimpse of a tail flick, and the body of a doe materializes about eighty yards away. It’s a good sign, and in that moment, work and all your weekly troubles have vanished. This is why you’re here.

Suddenly you hear the sound of a truck door slamming in the distance. The deer, thankfully, seems to have paid no attention to it. But for a brief second you’re reminded that you aren’t alone in the woods. About a half hour goes by and the doe you’ve been watching hasn’t moved a whole lot. Out of nowhere, however, she spooks. Tail up, she blows several times before bounding away into the distance.

What the hell?

Then you hear it. The all too familiar crunch crunch of boots. You turn to see another hunter strolling in late to his stand, right down the trail you took to come in. The immediate reaction is surprise. Then anger. Then simply frustration. You wait until he’s about sixty yards away before whistling at him. Stopped mid stride, the late hunter looks up at you and raises a hand apologetically before turning around and slinking off the other direction. With a heavy sigh, you lean back in your stand. You’re beyond annoyed. The doe you were watching is long gone, and the morning hunt might as well be ruined. You slugged through a brutal work week, and the one thing you were looking forward to beyond everything was to be here in this tree. Away from people, and to have time to yourself. But now? Now it’s ruined.

Welcome to the weekend.

——————-

Over the years, the above scenario has happened to me far too many times. Of course, I don’t usually have office jobs, but it’s the same  concept: I have off on the weekends, I love to hunt/fish, so I go hunting/fishing on the weekends. The problem? EVERYONE ELSE DOES TOO.

I’ve been a weekend warrior before, so please don’t think I’m hating on them. Unfortunately many people have no other options than working that Monday-Friday 9-5. So that means they’ve no choice but hit the woods or the water on Saturday and Sunday. Weekends end up becoming insane. Hunting and fishing pressure go through the roof as everything is inundated with people trying to get their outdoor fix. But eventually there’s a point where it becomes unappealing. We all seek the outdoors for some reason, and often that experience becomes tainted with -far- too much human pressure.

“Why bother going fishing this weekend? There’s going to be 8 billion people at the boat launch Saturday morning. I probably won’t find a place to park the trailer”

“I guess we can go to the springs, but we’re gonna have to wait in line half an hour since it’s a pretty day”

“I’d rather not go to the trouble of getting to the tree stand. Someone will assuredly walk in on me”

It applies to almost any outdoor activity you can think of. Too many people end up ruining an good thing. And they don’t have to be destroying anything, or trashing it, or being loud, etc. Simply too many people being there end up taking away the experience that many look for.

Hell, I might as well have just stayed at the office. I’d see less people”

For almost two years now, I’ve been lucky enough to be a guide. Whether it be taking people out in the Everglades to look at Alligators, kayaking to look at Dolphin in St. Augustine, or chasing down Elk in Colorado. I’ve gotten to see people use our natural resources that have been set aside for just that: Use. And since I’ve been guiding, I rarely get a weekend off. Ever. It makes sense though, when you think about it. People primarily have off on the weekends. They want a guide and they hire me on their days off. So I’m thrust into these outdoor settings every weekend with everybody and their brother.

What it’s done is change me. At least as to how I enjoy the outdoors. On the off chance that I actually get a weekend off, you won’t catch me dead outside. I’ll be inside on the couch. I’ve had too many days practically ruined during the weekend rush. Be it a jet-ski buzzing by the kayak at 30 yards and scaring all the fish, or a hunter walking right up to my tree stand. It happens all the time and I’ve grown tired of it. Friends might ask:

“Alex! Can we go kayaking Sunday morning?”

“Absolutely not”.

I simply won’t do it. I can’t do it. There’s too much pressure and it’s lost its appeal for me. So I question; How many others are like me? How many hunters, or fishermen, or hikers, or whatever, have altered the way they use the outdoors? How many have all but just given up? Think about the most popular outdoor spot near you. Now imagine it on a holiday weekend. It’s going to be an absolute zoo. There are so many people that it might as well be Wal-Mart, and lord knows no one ENJOYS going to Wal-Mart.

Luckily for me, since I work the weekends, I often have weekdays off. I can go kayaking on a Tuesday morning and not see a soul on the water. I can hike after lunch on a Thursday afternoon and not see the faintest sign of another hiker. It’s fantastic. But I realize not everyone has the same luxury of doing things on the weekdays like I do. I’ll never claim to be any more or less avid than any of my fellow outdoorsmen. So I ask the question: How do you get around the weekend crowds when you’re stuck to the weekend schedule?

img_2050

I’m avid enough that should I ever find myself stuck with that schedule, I’d still try. But I can’t say I’d enjoy it nearly as much as I should. It would wear on me, and eventually might break me. I’d find myself skipping weekends and just watching football and drinking beer instead of being outside. Anything to avoid a tainted experience with something I love.  All because everyone wants to do the same thing at the same time with their days off.

Are there ways around this? Yes. Well…Sort of. Take hunting for example. Don’t hunt public land like national forests, right? Okay, so you fork over the cash to join a hunting club, and you’ll get to avoid the crowds. But what’s that end up doing? Driving the cost of hunting through the roof. If you weren’t already aware, hunting is becoming a rich man’s sport. Yes people pay big bucks to hunt…well…big bucks. But they also pay up to avoid the crowds of people who flock to public areas when they can’t afford a private hunting lease.

I honestly don’t have a solution when it comes to dealing with the weekends. I’ve figured out how to deal with it personally, but I question everyone else. Do you simply grin and bear it? Do you wake up -extra- early to beat the crowd? Or do you hike those extra ten miles into the wilderness JUST to dodge everyone else?

Personally, I don’t see the issue getting any better. Hell, if it’s even an issue at all. For all I know maybe there are people out there who love fishing around the crowds or watching the chaos that is the county boat ramp in the morning (ok, that’s admittedly fun to watch). But for me, it’s a problem. And I can only hope that we can find some sort of solution before more people want to simply give up.

 

A Look Back at 2012

So it’s a new year. And since I (sort of) keep up with my writing, I suppose I’m required to make some sort of post that reflects on the last year. Right?

Everyone’s doing it, after all.

2012 was bizarre to say the least. With the exception of graduating college, there was practically -nothing- that happened to me over the course of the year that I actually saw coming. So here’s a list of things I absolutely was not expecting in 2012 (Picture heavy):

My first pig.

Wishing I’d played football so I could tackle deer better.

Becoming a giant fan of craft beer.
Killing multiple deer with darts, yet failing to kill one with actual rifles/bows
Playing with awesome technology (including FLIR)

Sightfishing for Bonito

Having multiple writing opportunites open up
Being single for the first time in seven years
Nearly stepping on a giant rattler

Catching my biggest bass

Then doing it again

Getting a Facebook, Twitter, AND Smartphone (I’ve almost caught up with everyone else my age)
Discovering Tannerite

Making life-long friends in the middle of no-where
Realizing that fawns get eaten like hot-cakes

Killing my first coyote
Killing my first boar with a pistol

Going Crappie fishing for the first time

Getting VERY little kayak fishing done
Becoming an uncle

Fishing out of a Gheenoe

Catching my first Snook on the fly

Discovering Mullet isn’t good when grilled

Practically becoming a radio telemetry master
Realizing how important family and true friends are
Having the Jeep attempt to kill me on multiple occasions
Realizing the Jeep will float (for a second)
Discovering that bow hunting for pigs from the ground is easier said than done

Going on my first muzzle loader hunt

Getting momentarily burned out on hunting for the first time
Actually -wanting- to be around people/civilization
Confirming the fact that I absolutely -cannot- work in an office cubicle with no windows
Learning what “Business Casual” means
Becoming a firm believer in the ThermaCell

Getting paid to write
Getting a new girlfriend
Killing my biggest boar

Learning to play one of the greatest games ever invented:  “Stump Game” (I’d suggest googling it)
Learning that deer can actually growl
And finally,
Deciding to go back to school

Though this isn’t an exhaustive list, I feel like I’ve hit the big moments. I purposefully -don’t- write about everything that happens to me in the outdoors. It’s important to me to do this as I often find myself becoming disengaged as I try to take pictures, or failing to really appreciate the experience by rushing to write down the events. Certain things make it on the blog, while others are saved to be told first hand around a campfire, on long drives, or when the bite is slow. The love of simply telling a story often outweighs the love of writing about it.

2012 was a pretty wild ride and brought an absurd amount of unexpected events. If I could change just one thing, it’d be to get more kayak fishing done. I really barely got out in the bright yellow yak. So even though I’m never one to make a new years resolution, I guess if I -had- to, it would be to fish out of the kayak more in 2013. Sounds reasonable…no?

I will be back out in the woods again this spring to tackle unsuspecting deer. I’ve also got one more whitetail hunt planned before the season ends for good. I know that things won’t go at all like I expect them to in 2013, but I look forward to the unexpected. After all, the unexpected is what makes for good stories.

Stay tuned!

Hog Hunting with the Recurve Bow

Now that our darting season is over for my job, we’re stuck monitoring does for possible births. This is done twice a day and only takes about an hour and a half to complete. This means that I have the rest of the day to burn.

I recently brought an old Redwing Hunter recurve bow with me out to one of the plantations with the hopes of taking a hog with it. I practiced often until I was comfortable at a range of 15-20 yards. Then I set out to stick a pig. There are two other technicians that work with me on this deer study and we each take a week long turn at this particular quail plantation. The way I saw it, I had at least 6 solid days of pig hunting ahead of me.

The first day I set out to walk along the Ochlocknee river bottom. It seemed that walk hunting would be the best method due to the hot weather. The pigs were unlikely to be moving during the day and taking a shot with a bow out of a tree at night seemed next to impossible. So I parked the Jeep as close as I could to the river bottom, and began walking.

Even though temperatures were jumping up into the 90’s, it was quite cool along the edge of the river. With an added breeze, it was downright comfortable to walk in. I’ve walk hunted before with my compound bow and though it’s light, it isn’t nearly as light as my recurve. I almost forgot I was carrying a bow several times during the hunt.

After walking for about 45 minutes, I came to a large bluff and behind it, the Ochlocknee.

I took a seat and just relaxed for a while. It was bizarrely peaceful along the edge of the river and for a while, I was perfectly content to just sit there on its bank.

But I then remembered I was out to kill a pig and proceeded to go about doing so again. I found surprisingly little hog sign along the river’s edge. One wallow and some rooting was about the extent of it.

I walked for another hour or so and finally gave up. There was little sign to be seen and it was getting to be time to head back anyways. I turned and proceeded to walk out of the river bottom and up to the quail woods on the plantation. When I emerged into the quail woods I quickly realized I was horribly lost temporarily misplaced. By some miracle, I happened to find a road and followed it (even though I knew at that time it went in the complete wrong direction). It eventually circled around, met up with another road, and finally led to the road where the Jeep was parked. The entire loop was over 5 miles long and my feet were quite angry with me. Since it’s now summer, the snakes are out in full force. Rather than get snake bit miles from help, I opted to wear the snake boots that haven’t quite been broken in yet.

Luckily for me, the walk back wasn’t -too- terrible. The blackberries are beginning to ripen in this area and I filled a large portion of my time picking and eating blackberries along the way.

That night we had a doe give birth and we were out past 2 am looking for the little guy. Being completely exhausted and having a few nice blisters on my feet, I decided to skip pig hunting the next day. I did, after all, have another 4 days to kill one…right?

The next day I set out to walk some of the creek bottoms where we often see pigs at night. These areas looked much more promising as I soon found a lot of pig sign such as wallows and caked mud on trees.

Though I was nearly silent walking along the creeks, I never got close to a pig. I could have (on multiple occasions) killed a  doe with the recurve, but never any pigs. I chose different creek bottoms to walk along for the next three days and had the same result.

On the fifth day, with only one more full day of hunting ahead of me, I found myself walking along yet another creek bottom in search of pigs. I took a short leap to cross a small creek and proceeded to nearly hyper-extend my knee. I suffered a full ACL and meniscus tears back in highschool years ago. I then did it all over again a year after that. It was this bum knee that decided to get a little tweaked this particular day. Not wishing to blow it out yet again, or risk any further pain, I hiked back to the Jeep and called it a day.

Later that night, it poured rain and completely flooded many of the nearby creeks. My week of hog hunting was done anyway. I’m still puzzled as to exactly where the pigs go during the day. We haven’t been having much trouble finding them with the FLIR at night, but daytime is a completely different story. I intend to solve this riddle before the summer is over though.

Stalk hunting for pigs with the recurve bow is something I’ll definitely be trying again soon. It was surprisingly comfortable to walk along the creek bottoms and beat the hell out of sitting and waiting in a tree. Hopefully next time I can at least -see- some pigs and maybe even get close enough to loose an arrow. Only time will tell.

Note: I’m having trouble commenting back to people in my own comments section. I can see (and enjoy) everyone’s comments, but I’m having trouble saying anything back. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Older posts

© 2017 The Flying Kayak

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Skip to toolbar