Friday, January 8, 2021

Tales From The Outdoors: Five more tips to make your outings fun

By Bob Chapin

I believe that vocalizations when deer hunting can be useful in attracting deer to your location or to trick them into identifying their location. To that end I have two calls…a fawn and a doe bleat that sound quite realistic, at least I know the fawn bleat is. I was bushwhacking down a small stream once in Virginia as there was no trail and the brush was thick on both sides. I came to a game trail that crossed the stream at the precise moment when a young fawn, who had become separated from its mother, got to the stream from the trail. We surprised one another and it bleated several times in an attempt to locate mom. That sound stuck with me and is mimicked very well by my call. 

The problem was both calls made by the same manufacturer looked, from outward appearances, to be identical. Small gold letters on the barrel of the call identified the sound it made but they were difficult to read in the good light of my kitchen but nearly impossible to read when up in a deer stand at dawn. To solve this problem, I took a three-cornered file and cut a small notch into the mouthpiece of the doe bleat large enough to feel with my mouth but not so large that I couldn’t cover it with my lips. So now I know instantly which call I am about to blow!

When I began shooting a bow, I routinely traveled to a couple of nearby ranges in order to take advantage of elevated shooting stands designed to copy the angles and ranges you could expect to shoot from in actual hunting situations in tree stands. Though the ranges were nearby, it was a pain to drive there during their hours, engage a safety observer or instructor, and leave when they were scheduled to close. I quickly realized if I was going to shoot with the regularity that most sources said a beginner should, I would need an elevated stand at home. 

So I built one out of pressure treated lumber complete with a seat and a safety harness and attached it to
a tree in the back yard. Rather than have only one target at a fixed range I located a company that was throwing out blocks of styrofoam roughly a foot square. I spray painted a “bullseye” on each and could locate them at various unknown ranges, some quite close to my stand. 

As it turned out that was good practice because none of the dozen or so deer that I have taken from a tree stand have exceeded 20 yards, and two of them I have had to wait for them to walk out from under my climbing tree stand foot platform before I could shoot!

The question of what footwear to put on when venturing out into the wild can be perplexing but it needn’t be. It really depends on where you are going.  The first consideration is comfort because if your feet are not happy, you will not be happy, your trips will be shorter, and probably not as successful. The second consideration is safety. Will the boots you select support your ankles and protect them from rocks and sharp sticks as you climb. Finally, will your feet be warm in them? Nothing shortens a day of ice fishing faster than cold feet. It really boils down to three basic boots with minor variations for style or cost. If you are going hiking in the mountains leather boots that cover your ankles are the ticket. I would shy away from the sneaker style even with reinforced soles as they tend to break down with
rugged use. 

The rubber soled lace up L.L. Bean-style hunting boots are great for most Maine woods where climbing is not anticipated. Also good in the flat land are the knee-high rubber boots such as the Muck boot. As long as you are careful not to exceed water depths in excess of the boot’s height you should be fine. I find myself reaching for the scent-free knee-high rubber boots most frequently even when launching a boat. Have I stepped over them on occasion, of course. It is never a fun experience.

When you go afield for the day take more than one pair of gloves. It is likely that the first pair you wear will get wet climbing frost covered tree stand steps, positioning decoys, or paddling your canoe. Warm hands keep you hunting.

I always carry fire starting equipment with me when hunting. I was able to recover a cold, wet hunting partner in Alaska close to hypothermia with a drink of hot chocolate made over an emergency fire. <

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