Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to Tell the Difference Between a Wolf and a Coyote

In the never ending quest to enlighten other hunters before questions arise, it might be useful to share a few tips on how to tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote.

These sorts of things always include a few pictures and biological descriptions so here we go:

In general, WOLVES are bigger, heavier bulkier animals with a broad head and rounded ears.  An adult, male wolf can tip the scales around the150lb mark if he does not engage in an active lifestyle and his wife is a good cook.

COYOTES are smaller, have a more narrow, leaner head and face with pointed ears.  They tend to buy large quantities of inferior grade merchandise from various industrial supply houses with ACME Company being a favorite. Coyotes are also more litigious than wolves and are much more likely to pursue lawsuits against parties they believe have wronged them.  Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff v. Acme Company, Defendant

Another helpful hint is you will be more scared, quicker when attacked by a pack of wolves versus a pack of coyotes.  Screams during a wolf attack tend to be more of a muffled, gargling sound.  More intelligible words such as "AHHHHH!!!  Get it off of me!!!!!" can be more clearly heard from the victim during a run-in with coyotes.

A Man in the Woods

Saturday, December 17, 2011

When Organs Go Rogue

I'm falling apart.

I understand now why some people have irrational fears of hospitals and doctors.  They just might find something wrong with you.

I was having minor lower back pain on my right side.  Nothing too severe but it did not go away after several weeks.  Shivering uncontrollable while not killing an elk in Colorado and helping load/unload bales of hay does NOT help this sort of thing BTW.  My intense fear was it was due to 4-wheeler riding and other associated hunting activities.  I secretly made plans to not tell my wife if this was the case and would simply hunt until crippled.

I go see the doctor.  And then a radiologist.  And then have my DNA assaulted with a chest x-ray.  Nothing looked out of whack (Latin for marginally messed up) but there was discovered a family of 3 kidney stones living on the LEFT side.  What?  "But I don't hurt over there (pointing to left side), doc!"  

This led to a knitting needle being pounded into a vein in my left arm for the contrast agent and a CT scan to produce much greater detailed and expensive images.

Actual size of needle used to inject contrast agent!

The following is a list of good findings along with things out of whack.  ALL are asymptomatic ..... for now. 

  • Heart, lungs, spleen, right kidney (my favorite one), colon, adrenal glands, liver, appendix and guts all got an A+.  The report goes downhill from here.
  • My prostate is a tad large (stinks to get old; tell me something I don't know).
  • Minor compression in my lumbar spine with some minor osteophytes (little bone growths) at the L2-L3 and the sacral region (stinks to get old a bit more).
  • Diverticulosis but no sign of diverticulitis (great, my colon is aging quicker than the rest of me)
  • A small "fat-filled umbilical hernia".  Nice.  Nothing says "sexy" or "winner" like a "fat-filled umbilical hernia"!  "Do these pants make my fat-filled umbilical hernia look fat?"  My sister was born with an extra rib.  My grandmother had an uber-slow growing benign tumor on the side of her brain stem, probably from childhood.  Do I get something "extra" that can be discussed in open company or would be useful (like a third arm)?  No, I get a previously unknown umbilical hernia.
  • Left kidney is really upset in a passive aggressive way about the previously unknown stones not paying rent.
  • The Boone and Crockett stone is 3.7mm.  I'm planning on a shoulder mount when I meet him face-to-face.

A Man in the Woods

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Who said hunters don't have a sense of humor?

I'm actually angry I did not think of this first.  Received from a friend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My New Hero...

The Man in the Woods has a new hero....  Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

This is a long video but well worth the time.  (This is a rare quasi-political digression but well worth sharing.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Redneck Realization

"Dad, are you a redneck?"

The words flowed from the mouth of my 10 year old as if she was asking me to pass the ketchup or change the radio channel.  Distant and somewhat emotionless.

Well, I never really thought about it.  We discussed what would be a proper definition of a "redneck".  If she meant a guy who tends to work outside, gets sunburned quite a bit... then the answer would be "no".  If she meant a guy who thoroughly enjoys being outside in the woods or on the water and takes intense pleasure in the simpler things in life.... I guess the answer would have to be a qualified "yes".

Keep in mind, we were driving to the woods in a beat-up 12 year old red 4x4 pickup truck (my daily driver is a Volvo but I try to not talk about it much) with 173,000 miles on it and more body damage than Kenny Rogers,  wearing our "crabbing" shoes and 7 layers of clothing, going to the woods on an unplanned trip to off-load 200lbs of corn, fix a broken deer feeder, de-wasp a back-up deer blind and check out a new location for a tree stand.

I'm still perplexed as to why the subject came up in the first place.


A Man in the Woods

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crazed Wild Man Seen in the Texas Medical Center

Confessions of a Hunting Addict:  Food Sources

While it may come as a shock to readers of A Man in the Woods, I have what would best be described as a white-collar job.  I work in the medical center in the 4th largest city in the US.  Nearly ever person I interact with has at least one advanced degree as documented with things like Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M, L.O.L, and P.D.F.

Given the environment, the generally "citified" nature of most people around work along with the fact I'm the only hunter in my building (to the best of my knowledge), I've learned there are some behaviors which tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

I recently experienced the penetrating, awkward stares of several strangers as I grubbed around on the ground picking up, of all things, persimmons.

To me, this made perfect sense.  There are 3 nice sized persimmon trees outside the building.  Each Fall, RIGHT AS DEER SEASON STARTS, they drop gobs of ripe, sticky, sweet fruit all over a sidewalk and bicycle rack which results in a rotting mess.  I wanted the persimmons for 2 reasons:  (i) to collect the seeds to plant my own crop of trees near two deer stands and (ii) to use the fruit this year as an attractant around the same stands.

The general line of strategic thinking was:  I like deer.  Deer like persimmons.  I have access to persimmons...  I'll plant a persimmon oasis in the middle of a persimmon desert and have to fight my way to the stand each Fall wading through a sea of gigantic bucks which have been lulled into a persimmon-gorging induced stupor.  It would almost be unfair to the other guys on the lease!!!

At first I picked up the nice, ripe, most recently dropped fruit (thanks to a Northern that blew in the night before).  The first observers probably thought I was just some odd guy who was going to make preserves or something.  Odd but plausible.  But considering I wanted bulk fruit and was going to be pulling out the seeds anyway, I started to pick up less-than-fresh fruit with squirrel bite marks, dirt, split skins, bruises, etc.  It didn't matter to me, I was not going to eat these.

It was not until I graduated to prying up semi-dried, stepped upon fruit with Nike footprints, hair, dirt, mold and bicycle tread marks in them did I notice that NOW people were looking at me like an unstable vagrant or worst, an Occupy Wall Street participant.  Their eyes would dart away.  They pulled their coats a bit tighter and forced their children to pick up the pace to get past the local "crazy".

Luckily, about the time I noticed the strangers, my ziploc bag was full enough and I scurried inside the building to hide my loot in the community fridge with a note that it contained "Sheep Testicles - Please do not eat" to keep the 'fridge police at bay until I could transport them safely home.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Man in the Woods Most Popular Hunting Blog with at least 9 Hunters

For a very brief moment in history, stories from A Man in the Woods blog were the top 5 items being viewed at's hunting section.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Texas Just Might be the BEST Place to Live on the Planet

Reasons Why I Love Living in Texas, #127:

Conservative, gun-loving, country-loving folks who speak their mind in a straight-forward, easy-to-understand manner.  Plus, this guy sounds JUST LIKE Hank Hill from King of the Hill.  It gets really interesting towards the end.  He wanted to increase the class size from 3-4 to 6-7.  Once it went viral, he could have sold 500 slots.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Physical Training Secrets for a First Time Elk Hunter

As I've recently noted, I'm going on my very first elk hunt this year!!!!  Man, .... I thought time crawled by as a kid while waiting for Christmas to arrive.  This was murder.

One of my many fears (right after being eaten by a bear) is having a physical meltdown on a trip such as this.  I've read many stories and heard many tales of people going on their dream hunts only to realize, a bit too late, that they are in horrific shape and they are only able to hike 117' from camp before blowing out a lung, knee, disc, ankle or retina.  I DO NOT WANT TO BE THAT GUY since (i) I want to enjoy myself, (ii) I'd be angry with myself for not having the discipline to "butch up" and get ready KNOWING the trip was coming and, probably most importantly, (iii) the two buddies I'm going with would make fun of me without mercy for the rest of my natural life.  Public ridicule is a powerful motivator.  So is not being able to put distance between yourself and a black bear should the need arise.

So... I started training.  At first, I started off with some low impact, innocent activities like riding a bike for some aerobic exercise.  This lead to some additional weight training, longer walks / hikes / runs around the neighborhood and some sessions on the treadmill.  All pretty traditional stuff.

I also took the stairs EVERYWHERE and climbed the 5 flights everyday at work several times a day.

I soon realized that (i) I hate working out and (ii) the hunt was literally just a few months away and there are other activities / skills I needed to address.  In addition to physical conditioning, I also needed to work on shooting techniques (i.e. "breathing" control, "trigger" control, "ignoring the ants biting your leg" control), packing techniques, sitting around a campfire making fun of people techniques, getting over the guilt of leaving my family for such a selfish trip techniques,...

Fortunately, my kids have a KEEN interest in all things good ol' dad does.  Sensing an opportunity, they too were incorporated into my training.

At first, this involved simply adding weight to my walks.  I had heard of people training by carrying bricks in their backpacks.  Being short on 40lbs of bricks, my skinny 6 year old was a perfect substitute.  This should help with both stamina and building strength in my back and legs for hiking the mountains as well as packing out my 800lb elk.

Not only are children convenient but as your body becomes more tuned and in shape, you can add other children incrementally to increase the challenge.  Shoot for a 2-3 year gap in ages with each additional child.

Not wanting to ignore any major muscle groups, I incorporated a variety of exercises into the routine.  Added resistance and other stress-inducers can help focus the mind and push you through the pain.

Not wanting to ignore the upper body, arm and neck exercises were incorporated.

But then I realized, "Man, I'm going about this all the wrong way".  While it is true that I needed to be in shape, the kids could be incorporated in other, much more useful ways.

For example, children make wonderful rifle rests.  Oh sure, they are afraid of loud noises and it might damage their hearing later in life but their constant movements and twitching simulates your oxygen-deprived, panting body and adds to the challenge of putting the crosshairs on target.

A major mistake many first time elk hunters make is packing far too much gear and regretting it miles from camp.  While I planned to streamline my gear down to a small fanny pack, rifle and pair of binoculars, there were other supplies I would like to have in the field; I just did not want to carry everything by myself.  This lead to major realization:  Children are shockingly strong for their small sizes and make excellent pack animals.

Make sure they carry enough water for both themselves AND you since they do tire pretty easily and will slow you down.

So, next time you are training for any mountainous elk or sheep hunt, learn to rely more on your brain and less on your brawn and you'll do just fine.  Plus, as an added bonus, you can chalk up the time training and the time in the field as "family time" and look like a hero in the process.


A Man in the Woods

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Observations from the Field - Cujo

When you are walking / exercising / breaking in boots in your poorly lit neighborhood at 5:30 in the morning armed with nothing more than a flashlight and a smile, an unseen sprinkler suddenly throwing water on a concrete driveway sounds EXACTLY like a large, fanged animal running directly at you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

People are Food Too

Since my second biggest fear is being eaten alive by an animal, my ears usually perk up when I hear stories like the following:

Grizzly Bear 0 : Man 1 and now the dude is in legal trouble?????

50 year old Croc moved to retirement home after killing a few villagers.

12 Foot Tiger Shark Caught on Texas Coast  This one concerns me a bit since it is a tad closer to home.  "YES" I realize the chances of being attacked by a shark are much lower than being struck by lightning, winning the lottery or convincing my children that Dad will likely NOT be mauled on a hunting trip but still...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dove Hunting 101 - Tips for a Beginning Dove Hunter

As most folks know, the Texas Dove Season, kick-off to the hunting season and near-religious event in my circle of friends, is rapidly approaching.  ("Yes, co-workers.... people SHOOT and EAT doves.  Yes,.... I understand they are called the 'bird of peace' and make a cute cooing sound.  Yes, they are quite tasty on the grill!")

A friend who only occasionally hunts is going on a dove hunt and asked me for some advice and more specifically on what NOT to do.  I thought about it a bit and sent him the following list:

The following activities should be on your "DO NOT DO THIS" LIST:

1. Shoot someone.
2. Shoot a dog(s).
3. Shoot yourself.
4. Shoot at EVERY bird you see no matter the distance.  Pace off 35 yards in your front yard.  It is not THAT far.  That is pretty much the effective range for that scatter gun in your hands.
5. Shoot 3 times, EVERY time no matter how far the birds fly away. This is best done with an auto-loader so you can waste more ammo, faster.
6. Don't pick up your empties. Cattle will eat these, get sick and ensure the rancher will not allow you to return in the future.
7. Don't clean up water bottles and other trash.
8. Shoot over a fence line or public road.  This is best done with a country sheriff nearby.
9. Shoot birds off a power line or sitting in a tree.
10. Don't offer to help look for downed birds.
11. Squeal like a girl when you have to kill a wounded bird with your bare hands.
12. Use words like boysenberry when describing the color purple.
13. Blow up your gun and possibly your face by putting a 20 gauge shell in a 12 gauge shotgun AND THEN loading a 12 gauge shell behind it. Pull trigger, wait for the LifeFlight helicopter to arrive, enjoy the ride.
14. Move around A LOT so the birds flying toward you actually SEE you and move away so the other guys in your party don't get a shot off.  Doves have pea sized brains but aren't (i) stupid and (ii) blind.

* To ensure there is NO CONFUSION, please appreciate and understand that the above listing should be considered sarcasm and is not, in actuality, true hunting and gun safety advice.  Use your brain, don't be stupid, always be safe!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I think I'll have the Redfish

A few weeks back, I went fishing with a buddy.  It was a balmy 107 degrees on the Texas Gulf Coast but we still managed to have a good time.

The only keeper for the day was a nice, fat, 19" flounder which eventually became intimate with an oven and garlic infused butter.  It was delicious and the family all commented on my angling skills and how we missed fresh fish.

A few days later, a new issue of Texas Saltwater Fishing magazine arrived in the mail with a smiling angler holding a beautiful redfish on the cover.  My loving wife looked at it for a second and announced, quite casually....  "Next time you go out, you need to bring home some redfish".

My wife is probably the smartest person I know (and she still married me) but I was shocked by this proclamation.  Did she not know that "bringing home some redfish" was ALWAYS the goal?  Has she not realized that one good fishing trip is offset by at least 12 others where (i) you were skunked, (ii) someone did not put the plug in the boat, (ii) you, a buddy and his young son almost DIED in Lake Sommerville with white caps dancing across the lake or (iv) you, your kayak, all your gear and a not-big-enough anchor are literally sucked into the Intracoastal Canal by a heavy laden barge displacing more water than Rosie O'Donnell in a bikini?

I attempted to explain to her that fishing is NOT like going to H.E.B., walking up to the seafood counter and placing your order but for some reason, the statement did not seem to register.  Like many times, we were talking but not really communicating.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hogs Gone Wild

 Man, I thought I had a problem with gear and equipment purchases.

Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal on Feral Hog Hunting in Texas, Commando Style.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bulls.... Oh My!

While riding back from a "Raccoon Eradication Hunt" with a buddy on the back of your 4 wheeler at 10:30PM through about a mile of pitch black woods down a winding trail with several blind curves and you happen upon a sleeping bull standing in the trail who appears to be slightly alarmed and possibly blinded and spooked by the lights, do not be surprised if a small amount of urine runs down your leg when he lunges your way instead of the other 18 possible escape routes available to him.

Below is an artist's rendition of the ~800lb wall of flesh and horns, coming directly at us, through the dark.

It did not help but I recently realized... I'm scared to death of cattle that are not present with a side of mushrooms and a baked potato.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

To Kill an Elephant

Most A Man in the Woods postings are intended to be lighter in nature and at times, on the rare occasion, humorous.  This one is a tad more serious.

Please understand, I am not advocating, nor will I ever advocate the wanton destruction of any animal (except fire ants.  I do truly hate fire ants.... and protein-raiding raccoons.)  But I have to admit, I'm a bit perplexed over the controversy earlier this year when Bob Parsons, founder of posted a video of him killing a crop-raiding elephant which also included the local villagers butchering it afterwards.  It is an ELEPHANT people.  It is protein on the hoof, just like cattle, chickens, swine and any other four-legged creature.  It it not a human and, despite Disney's best efforts, they should not be assigned human attributes.  Do they have social orders?  Sure.  So do chickens and the fish in my aquarium.  I'm not saying they don't feel and think.  I'm just saying they are animals.

A few elephant hunting facts:

  • There are ~600,000 elephants in Africa ( IUCN’s African Elephant Status Report 2007)
  • There are 1,200 permits to hunt them issued each year.
  • For the math-challenged, this is 0.2% of the elephant population and not all permits are filled each year.
  • Fees range significantly but it is not uncommon for a hunter to spent $30,000 - $70,000 on an elephant hunt.
  • In areas where hunting elephants is banned, poaching is rampant and the elephant herds are decimated.
  • In areas where hunting of elephants (obviously in a controlled nature) is allowed, the herds are healthy and aggressively protected by governments and Game Departments since they are a wonderful economic resource. 

The way I see this, there are 5 ways GoDaddy's Bob Parsons "did good" here.

1.  Bob, and others hunter like him, inject significant funds into the local economies of poor African countries.
2.  Bob helped provide much needed food to protein-deprived people.
3.  Bob helped protect the crops and ensure the livelihood of the farmers.
4.  Bob helped protect the crops and ensure there would be food for the villages which eat said crops.
5.  Bob had an enjoyable hunting experience (I did not say all of these were purely altruistic).

There was no ivory hacked out and sold on the black market.  There was no meat left to rot in the field or eaten by hyenas.

A link to the video can be found HERE.  (It is customary to insert a caution about viewer discretion is advised, blah, blah, blah etc.  If you don't know where meat comes from at this point in your life, a comment about viewer discretion will probably not help.)

A link to a summary article on the event can be found HERE.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's the little things...

While not always successful in maintaining the attitude, I try to find pleasure in simple things.

For example, when out hunting, I really don't care if I kill or even see something.  Sure, I'd RATHER see something but just being there, in the woods, away from the craziness of life, is immensely satisfying.

During a recent trip to the woods, I checked my rear view mirror and all I could see was my Honda Rancher 4 wheeler looking back at me.  I couldn't
fight back the smile due to nothing more than the anticipation of the day ahead.

(A future post will address the dangers of mixing photography and driving.)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Interruption Decision Tree

While I'm more than guilty of committing this crime, I've grown more and more aware of and irritated by interruptions at the office that TOTALLY WRECK THE WORK-FLOW.  As Jason Fried of 37 Signals puts it, "your work-day gets broken up into work-moments."

One pop-in disrupts your stream-of-consciousness which can take minutes to get back on track.  Multiply this over the course of a week and you find your productive time is more hacked up than the co-ed victims in a B-grade slasher movie.

To help alleviate this, I developed a decision-tree to help folks in my office determine if the pending interruption is truly needed.  This is taped to my door.  While it is not 100% bullet-proof, the interruptions have dropped dramatically.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Alternative Definition of Happiness

hap-pi-ness   \ˈha-pē-nəs\
1.  state of well-being, contentment
2.  a pleasurable or satisfying experience
alt def
3.  the overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement upon opening the mailbox to find an elk tag from the State of Colorado's Division of Wildlife!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Bravery.... it lives behind a fence and acts all tough.

The fawns are on the ground now and the protective does are out in full-force.  Apparently, Dixie did not remember her lesson from a few years back.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“Larry Hurt. Kids OK. Come Home Now” and The Art of Communication

A few years back, we rented a beach house in Surfside, TX with two other couples.  We had done this before with this particular crew and always had a grand time.  I'm amazed at the amount of gumbo 11 able-bodied people can consume in a few short days.

On this particular trip, one of the other couples brought a boat to fish the bay system behind the house.  This boat was perfect for 2 fishermen, OK for 3 but too small for 4.

I was the odd-man out on the Saturday excursion and eventually got over my intense jealously.  My role was to be Cabana-boy for two thirsty women and generally ensure the 5 young children continued to respire.  The Cabana-boy role included, but was by no means limited to, portaging various beach-related accessories such as chairs, towels, toys and an evil contraption called an EZ-UP.  An EZ-UP, as originally manufactured, is an intricately designed aluminum / steel / fabric device which will expand from a 5' x 10" x 10" rectangular block of 517 individual riveted components to a shade providing awning of 12' x 12'.  EZ-UPs are in fact easy to put up with two mechanically inclined adults, no wind, no rust or sand from previous trips, on a perfectly flat, frictionless surface, at 72 degrees.

The first order of business in my portage duties was to set up the EZ-UP.  This involved carrying said 40 lb EZ-UP down an 100 yard long wooden walkway over the dunes / rattlesnakes and then down 4 steps to the beach.  The 'best' way to a do this was to carry it on my right shoulder to support the weight and keep it balanced with my right hand underneath it and the left on top.  (Yes.... the hand orientation is relevant to this little story.)

This technique worked fine for 98 of the 100 yards.  Perhaps I was daydreaming about fishing, perhaps I was in a gumbo-induced food-hangover, perhaps I'm simply a clumsy idiot but something happened as I prepared to make the transition from the elevated, wooden surface of the walkway to the actual sand.

I fell.

Very hard and very quickly.

I'm short.  Being short, you end up developing quick reflexes or you get yourself into a great deal of trouble gross mass would typically prevent.  For 37 years, these reflexes and eye-hand (in this case eye-foot) coordination served me well and I was able to avoid permanent, debilitating injury.  I'm convinced that men in the US officially become old at 37-38 years of age.  Changes to joints, eye sight, judgement and gravitational forces converge to make you to realize ... "I'm not 18 anymore!"

At precisely the moment I came to the stairs and thought to myself 'I should tell the kids to move their toys from the stairs before someone trips and falls', I, in fact, tripped and fell.  There is no need to go into the particular physics of what happened but when a 40lb EZ-UP falls approximately 2' and the only thing stopping it from continuing to its path to the ground at 9.8 m/sec2 is your horizontal right thumb and a 2x4 railing, something must give.  In this case, the something was the joint where my right thumb biologically joins my right hand.

Scene of the Accident

At the shock of seeing the bizarre angle of my thumb relative to my hand.... I dropped the EZ-UP, swore under my breath, walked the 98 yards back to the house to explain the situation and proceeded to turn slightly pale from the discomfort / pain and being sickened by the odd thumb/hand angle.  My wife, who does not do well with these sorta of things, immediately grew concerned that the EZ-UP will not, in fact, be put up any time soon.  The not-my wife (let's call her Rhonda) wanted to examine the thumb.  Thinking her background in software marketing had not prepared her adequately, she took exception to my suggestion that ..."Nothing personal but I'd rather a trained medical professional take a look at it."

After a great deal of fretting over the swelling, purple thumb, Rhonda picked up her phone and started typing.  I implored her to NOT call the others on the boat.  There was nothing they could do and it was not like I was going to die.  There is no need to ruin a fishing trip over this.  She blew off the comment/request and said she was just checking her email.  This, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, was a complete and total lie.

Much later I found out she sent a cryptic text which read....


The above thumb related chain of events took place in exactly the same amount of time it takes to (i) drive to the boat ramp with three avid fishermen, (ii) put said boat in the water, (iii) motor to a prime location and (iv) catch one (1) fish.  The ambiguous text message was received by my boat owning, fishing addicted friend Chris which placed him in a significant quandary. Does he (a) ignore the message blaming faulty phone reception on the coast and continue to fish or (b) return after a grand total of 12 minutes on the water to find out the problem?

After a great deal of discussion about the lack of knowledge and useful information imparted by a message such as "'LARRY HURT.  KIDS OK.  COME HOME NOW!", they packed up and returned.  Surely there was an explosion, structural failure or industrial chemical leak and the other adults' help was needed.

My wife, now having realized that there is nothing wrong with my left hand, suggests I put up the EZ-UP so they can sit on the beach.  Having never broken or dislocated anything significant up until this point, I figured I would eventually be heading to an emergency room after the other adults came back that afternoon and, having nothing better to do, helped them put up the EZ-UP under which we all sat and began to enjoy the beach, sand, sun and fun.

Minutes later, Chris is walking down the Walkway of Doom with a grave look on his face.  Knowing all members of the boating party were full of strong opinions on most topics, my first thought was someone ran their mouth about something regarding boat navigation or bait selection and there had been a significant disagreement.  I met Chris halfway up the beach.

Larry:  "Hey, what's up?"
Chris:  "What?  What's going on?"
Larry:  "Wha... what?"
Chris:  "We got a text message that you were hurt."
Larry:  "Rhonda!.... I TOLD her not to call you!!!"

About this time Bob walks up and seeing the thumb, gets that "this guy must be an idiot" look on his face.  After explaining the plight of my thumb, Bob, gently so as not to offend me with what to him was a very, very obvious question asks... "Did you try to pull it back into place?"  to which I answered.... "err... no".

It is amazing the subtle sound, imagined or not, grinding bones make as they slide back into place.  With my anatomy now back intact, the fishing crew returned to the water and I returned to my wife and the texting liar. The rest of the day was spent on the beach and in the house sending cryptic messages/photos such as ...

"LARRY TRAPPED. KIDS OK."  (with a picture of me trapped under a coffee table)
"LARRY CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE.  KIDS OK." (with a picture of me with my head in the oven)
"LARRY MASSIVE CORONARY.  KIDS OK." (with a picture of me on a toilet, keeled over dead with a newspaper across my lap) 

 It is still unclear if the members of the boating party were amused.  They claim "they never received the messages".

Friday, April 29, 2011

Training Exercise to Prepare for Full-Contact Turkey Hunting

As I mentioned in a previous post, my very first REAL hunting experience was pursuing turkeys.  Sure, it was hot... and there were the poisonous snakes.... and chiggers in the nether-regions but other than that... it was grand fun.

This past Fall on a combination 3-day hunting trip to one of my favorite places on the planet (Three Rivers, TX) as the guest of some equally favorite folks, I killed a "smaller than I thought" buck the first day.  This opened up quite a bit of extra "walking around time" and allowed me the opportunity to chase some turkeys.

After receiving a text from my buddy Kevin that he saw a big flock of turkeys headed towards the interior of the ranch, I started to move that way.  I'm 99% sure this was the same flock of turkeys that scared me half to death while I was field dressing the buck and I intended to return the emotion, in 150 grain increments.

As I slowly made my way along an interior road, I spotted the flock meandering along the ridge of a shallow ravine about 40-50 yards wide and directly in front me.  Oh man...this was perfect.  I quickly slide into position in front of a gnarled mesquite tree, while repeating the phrase in my head... "It is too cold for rattlesnakes!  It is too cold for rattlesnakes!  It is too cold for rattlesnakes! ... "

Assuming turkeys were (i) bound by the common laws of physics and (ii) lazy, I was sure the flock would seek the path of least resistance and continue to travel along the ridge of the ravine about 40 yards away.  Also, knowing the kill zone of a turkey is quite small, I cranked up the scope on the trusty .308 to the highest magnification (9X) so I could really zero in and make a clean shot right at the base of the neck.  This was looking like a "slam-dunk".

Apparently, the flock and I were not reading from the same script.  Instead of continuing along the ridge, they, for absolutely no valid reason, turned 90 degrees left and walked DIRECTLY towards me and my now trembling rifle through the geometric center of the ravine, completely disappearing for about 2 minutes.  The next turkey I saw was 15 FEET away from my FEET.  Instantly, this turkey morphed into about 30 turkeys.  I had the rifle pointed directly at the feathery, flowing mass, made a quick mental note to not blow off the end of my foot, but really could not move since they are RIGHT THERE.  Slowly I lowered my head to get a good picture through the scope.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  I forgot I had cranked up the scope to 9X magnification.  The image was about as clear and effective as looking at a Buick under a microscope.

It was at precisely this point I made an astute ornithological observation:  NO turkey on the planet, hen or jake, bearded or beard-free, domestic or wild, EVER keeps their head still for more than 17 milliseconds.  I instantly appreciated why turkeys are usually hunted with shotguns.  I'm not only TRYING to distinguish one individual bird from the next but am also TRYING to determine the right gender too.  I'd find one bird with what looked like a beard only to have 2-7 others enter the view of the scope, bobbing and weaving like a thrice convicted crack dealer running from the cops.  This impossible task went on forever (i.e. about 30 seconds) until the mass worked their way behind me and into the tall grass.  There was nothing I could do but return to camp and eat a piece of home-made apple pie about the size of my head that had been baked in a cast-iron skillet. (The real reason why Three Rivers is such a joy are the hosts and the food.  And the real reason I like the food so much is THIS pie.)

In my constant pursuit of helping educate other inexperienced hunters from my mistakes, I developed a Field Simulation Exercise to help prepare them should a similar situation arise while they are hunting uncooperative turkeys, at close range, with a rifle, while dreaming of pie.

Field Simulation Exercise - Hunting Turkeys with ADHD

Materials Needed:
1 thirsty, mildly hyperactive 6 year old child
1 empty paper towel tube (simulated rifle scope)*
2 cans of Coke
TV playing child's favorite television show (substitution of a cute puppy is fine)
~10 small hard plastic or metal toys (jacks or jagged rocks can be substituted)
* For obvious reasons, do NOT point a rifle, scoped or not, at the child, no matter how poor her conduct grades are in school.

STEP 1.  Give the 2 cans of Coke to child and tell him/her to drink up.
STEP 2.  Wait 30 minutes for high-fructose corn syrup to work its sugary magic.  (Potty breaks are NOT allowed since a ripe bladder will only add to the challenge.)
STEP 3.  With child facing you, place TV/puppy behind the child.
STEP 4.  Spread small toys on ground (i.e. simulated ground debris) and sit on them at an awkward angle while a magazine rack or corner of a coffee table is jammed firmly in your spine (i.e. simulated gnarled mesquite tree with simulated pain).
STEP 5.  Have the child stand about 15' away holding up one of the now empty cans of Coke approximate turkey head level (24").
STEP 6.  Looking through the cardboard tube with your dominant, shooting eye, read the ingredient list on the label of the can.  The image should look something like the following.

STEP 7. Once your eye starts bleeding, stop and eat a piece of home-made apple pie about the size of your head that was baked in a cast-iron skillet.

With practice, I guarantee you will start to carry a shotgun into the woods. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Use a Depth Finder - A Guide for Morons

A few years back, my in-laws purchased a house in a neighborhood where all of the houses back up to a man-made, 7-fingered lake.  A 24' long pontoon boat, named "Sweet Chariot", came with the house.... for free.  (I've since learned to be very, very leery of free boats and the required amount of work, time and expense to get said free boat sea-worthy again.)

Sweet Chariot was a mess.  The wood decking was rotted and the fasteners were either rusty or non-existent.  Most of these existing ones had to be removed with a torch, salz-all, crow bars, cutting wheels, a 3' long bolt cutter and other implements of destruction.  (The head of a rusty bolt, when snapped in half with a bolt cutter, makes an interesting noise as it whizzes by your head close to speed of sound.)  Every time the trolling motor batteries went out, the previous owner would acquire a new set and leave the old ones on the boat.  There were 8 HEAVY DUTY batteries which ultimately resulted in creating the same number of hernias after trying to get them loaded in the truck for environmentally-friendly disposal.

I worked on Sweet Chariot for months stripping everything off, throwing most of it away and rebuilding it from the frame up with new marine grade plywood, paint, carpet, etc.  While she was never going to win any beauty contests and she was a tad underpowered with a 70lb thrust trolling motor, it was sea-worthy (lake-worthy).

After a few trips with the family around the lake, a couple of friends and I got the bright idea for a midnight fishing excursion which would end with breakfast (all before an early morning meeting at church).  THIS was a good plan.  We were younger and "stupider" then and could sleep later.

After waking up half the neighborhood getting our gear loaded on the boat just past midnight, we were off.  Since we had NO IDEA about this lake regarding structure, depth, etc., my buddy Genaro hooked up his depth finder.  A wire was shorted out and I was quite impressed that he, without missing a beat, immediately found a replacement fuse and had the unit working!

After rigging up the transducer to the omnipresent 2x4 nailed to yet another 2x4 and turning the depth finder on, we were literally BLOWN AWAY.  There were fish everywhere... and structure like we never imaged.  There where brushpiles.  There were deep channels....and drop-offs.... and schools of baitfish... and some real monsters hovering above the bottom.  Heck, there was even something that looked like a wreck!  Who would have ever imagined that this little, innocent body of water would be so interesting and so "fishy" underneath its surface!!!

We flew into action.  "Should we anchor on an edge and fish in a channel?"...  "Should we anchor in the deep and fish up in the shallows?"  The boat was abuzz with excitement, chatter and people fighting to get their gear ready.

After a few minutes, Dave, quite innocently, mentioned.... "Hey guys, I think we've seen that fish before".  A few seconds later, someone else noticed we were in DEMO mode.

The lake was pool table flat and has a depth of 5' with the occasional "hole" of 5.5'.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Collective Game Scouting - Coming to an Internet Near You

I recently learned of a program called Project Noah.  The little tag line on their website says...

"Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere"

errrr....OK  ???

While I don't think collective game scouting was an initial goal of this site, I have to admit.... I'm intrigued.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thoughts on Rifle Accuracy (i.e. My Rifles Stink.... and That's OK)

I originally planned to title this post "How to: Feel really stupid when talking about Rifles" or "I Just Realized My Rifles Stink on Ice" but fortunately, reasonableness took over.

I know a decent amount about hunting rifles, cartridges and shooting.  99% of this I've picked up by reading and talking with folks and spending not quite enough time at the shooting range.  (Chuck Hawks' "Guns and Shooting Online, The Definitive Firearms Site" website is a superb source for all sorts of hunting, firearm and shooting information).  I'm by NO MEANS an expert but I figure I know more than the average "man on the street".  At the same time, I don't reload my own ammo and I shoot pretty standard mid-tier equipment (Ruger .270 with Nikon glass, Remington 742 in .308 with an el-Cheapo scope).  I keep the equipment mildly clean, buy high quality ammo and practice when I can.  For what I like to do (get in close on a large animal), this is MORE than enough in the accuracy department.  I have a rudimentary working knowledge of such things as minute-of-angle (MOA) but I'm also realistic.  I need/want to consistently hit a 8-10" pie tin inside of 300 yards (preferable inside of 100)....  not shoot the eyes off of a gnat at 1,000 yards.  I'm a hunter, not a sniper.

I can guarantee you that Larry's rifles are more accurate than Larry's skills at shooting said rifles.  I am the rate limiting factor as far as accuracy goes.  I suspect this is the case with 90%+ of shooters/hunters whether they will admit it or not.

But at the same time, I'd rather shoot an accurate rifle than an inaccurate one and I've always appreciated passion and expertise in a person regardless of the topic.  Recently, on a hunting trip with 3 buddies, the landowner stopped by one evening to chat.  Not surprisingly, the conversation turned to rifles and accuracy.  This gentlemen is a gunsmith, loves to build long-distance, highly accurate rifles and shot competitively for 20+ years.  (Please understand, I'm not making fun of him.  This is his passion.  For competitive bench rest shooting, this is needed.)

Listening to him emphasized just how little I really know about firearms and what it takes to make them truly accurate.  Once he got wound up, the general conversation went something like the following (keep in mind, I was only able to partially follow what was being said due to the velocity of the words and a limited working knowledge of what was actually being said.  There is a slim chance I'm guilty of taking some artistic license with parts of the conversation but it is a representative, decent summary):

Owner:  "...well, I quit messing around with wildcatting loads after playing with a .22-243 for a while and that .470 Nitro Express case we necked down to take a .17.  Yeah, that one went through the chronograph at about the 17,000 feet per second but kept blowing out primers and eroding barrels.  No, we really don't work the rifles over too much.  Usually we start with a .300 win mag but the last one was a .30-378 Weatherby mag which we took out about a 1lb by fluting the barrel, backed off the headspacing 2/10,000ths, dropped in a Jewell trigger tuned to break at 6.4 ounces, added a VAIS muzzle brake so it was not so sassy, put a level on the scope to make sure everything is square and in plane on the set-up, all sitting on top of a carbon fiber McMillan stock molded to a 3D digitized scan of my right cheek and shoulder.  Then we start with book loads until we find something she likes.  Rifles, like women, are all different and you need to find out what makes them tick... what she likes.  I started with around 122 grains of SmokeMonkey 6438 since, as you probably know, 6437 had a reliability issue a few years back.  I loaded up 3 cases pushing a 150 grain Schitzzzingrueben boat tail zinc/copper/uranium alloy monolithic bullet sitting on top of 120 grains of 6438, three rounds with 122 grains and three rounds with 124.  The 120 load produced 9s (9/10ths of an inch group), the 122 produced 8s but the 124 produced 3s.  See what I'm saying.... you need to ask her what she likes.  I had to back off to 123.5 grains of 6438 since the primers started to complain a little bit.  Next, I neck sized BUT DID NOT length trim 20 cases and shot them all through the rifle 4 times with 123.5 grains.  These cases are matched to this rifle and will never be used in another weapon.  After that, it was simply a matter of calculating and verifying the trajectory profile in 25 yard increments out to 850 yards and tattooing it to the inside of my left arm for quick access.  Keep in mind.... these are hunting rifles so I'm pretty happy with it shooting 4s.

Please keep in mind, this is, for the most part, what I sorta followed.  This type of "drinking from a firehose" conversation went on for about an hour after which I had to lay down to fully absorb what a piece of junk with which I was currently hunting.

Over the next few days, I thought perhaps I should fill my rifles full of concrete, throw them in the river and take up knitting.  But then it hit me (I'm a bit slow).... You don't shoot competitively Larry.  Having a more accurate rifle will not make the deer or elk more dead.

While shooting at the range from a bench is fun from time to time, when push comes to shove, there are simply too many other variables which will make the rifle perform less than its theoretical potential.  (As stated previously, Hands-on Application ALWAYS wins over Theory)

Shot-ruining insects
A great example of this occurred on a hunt in Three Rivers, TX a few years back.  I was hunkered down in the world's worst makeshift ground blind constructed at lunch, sitting on a wobbly plastic ammo box on uneven ground with my rifle perched on an even more wobbly shooting stick I could NOT stick in the sun-hardened ground more than 1/8th".  The sun was baking my neck and fire ants had literally just started to bite my leg when a beautiful 10 pointer (aka Mongo) came out about 125 yards away.

Mongo, quite dead.
Shooting in these less than ideal "field" conditions with a nearly lethal slug of adrenaline coursing through my veins, I don't think it would matter how accurate the rifle was in my hands.  I aimed squarely at Mongo's shoulder and proceeded to hit him directly at the base of the neck several inches off where I was aiming.  Luckily, there are some really, really important anatomical features in this area and you know what, ..... he became quite dead after keeling over with his rack literally stuck in the ground, never to take another step.

So now, after thinking about this more and reading yet another excellent article by Chuck Hawks about "practical accuracy", I've decided to not worry too much about extreme accuracy.  As long as I have a good Minute-of-Larry (MOL) rifle in my hands, that is going to have to be good enough.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Not Cool" Things to Do While Hunting - #1

When you are cautiously walking around cactus-strewn, brushy, rocky, rattlesnake country in Central Texas scouting the area you plan to hunt aoudads the following day, is it NOT COOL for your buddies to take a chuck of granite and pitch it into the brush by your feet.

It is also NOT COOL to then make fun of the guy for screaming like a little girl.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to: Make a 6 Year Old Really, Really Happy

On a slight whim, I bought my 6 year old daughter a "real" fishing rod for Christmas.  This is not a typical age-appropriate Tweetie-Bird Zebco but a 5' long rod which looked a bit like one of dad's rods.  She had asked for one in the past but I thought it was mainly because her older siblings each have a Tweetie-Bird type Zebco.

Based on the response this small gift catalyzed, you would have thought she had received $1,000,000 and a puppy that pooped candy!  Never would I have thought a piece of cheap fiberglass and plastic could have produced such  joy and happiness in a child.  She carried it around the house for days like her most prized possession.

Weeks after Christmas, we planned a trip down to the coast.  The absolute, very first thing she packed was her fishing rod.  Again, it was prominently displayed and literally caressed and carried around carefully.  I don't know exactly what it represents to her (time with dad, growing up and getting a real adult thing, or simply something her two siblings don't have) but it is OBVIOUSLY special.  (The 'rod' is also now used as leverage to ensure proper behavior at school.)

The weather and tides did not cooperate and we caught no fish that morning (although we did see a small flounder caught which she described as "beautiful".)

The ONLY thing she did manage to catch was a slightly decomposing sock and as typical with this child, she asked the first question which came to her mind..."Do you think a shark ate the person?" to which I answered....."Yes, and probably the other sock too."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I will not be asked to be a Spokesman for Remington

I recently received a survey from Remington asking about celebrity endorsements of their products.  I'm sure these people hate me by now and will never ask me my opinion again.    (I'm a big fan by the way of most of their products).  Brett Favre was one of their suggestions.

6. Who would you choose as Remington's celebrity spokesperson and why?

Honestly, I'm not real big on celebrity spokesman.  I think "home-grown" spokesmen make more sense, are more believable and is easier for the average guy to relate to.  Brett Favre is an over-the-hill QB with poor judgement and poorer camera skills.  Having him associated with Remington products would actually make me NOT want to buy them.  (I'm a huge fan of your ammo and shotguns.)

Give me a person I can relate to.  A regular guy with a job and a family who likes to hunt and fish when he has a chance.  Why not have a contest to pick a "non-celebrity spokesman"?  Or even better, develop an "Average Joe" spokesman dealing with the same issues as "regular" people?

"Remington - Real Firearms for Real People" has a much better ring to it than "Remington - Our Spokesman is some dude who makes millions of dollars a year and could buy a rifle worth more than your truck but could not clean a deer if his life depended on it"!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

To Kill a Mule

As I've written before, Opening Weekend of deer season is a much anticipated highlight of my year.  Unfortunately, a few years back, it was a bit more painful than most and after the word got out, it became more and more painful to rehash the story each time.  To save myself breath, embarrassment and pain, I reduced this particular Saturday's events to the barest essential elements so others might learn through my errors and so I can “get it out there” once and for all.

Upon arriving about 20 minutes late to the hunting camp, I quickly unloaded my friend’s borrowed Kawasaki Mule, donned the appropriate clothing, loaded the trusty .308 and headed North to Creek #2.  The past rains were evident in the area with many of the lower areas and trails muddy and holding water.  No worries.  We'd seen much worse in this area and besides, it was Opening Day and the Mule was a 4-wheel drive model.

After parking in some heavy brush ~100+ yards from the tree stand, I applied the vile smelling "doe in heat" scent to a felt pad tethered to my boot, took an indirect route to the stand to ensure scent was dispersed widely, and climbed to my perch.  Several deer were seen with the majority of the activity taking place about 125 yards ahead, across Creek #2.  The thick brush offered no chance of a shot at a solid 8 pointer which happened by, tailing a hot doe.  A doe and 5 month old fawn did come directly through the area and made a heroic effort to cross the creek without getting wet.  I thought it was odd they tried to jump across versus simply wade like they normally do.  (Editor's Note:  When you think something is odd, RIGHT THEN, think about what, specifically, might be odd...)  They passed within 30 yards of my stand without knowing I was there.  What a beautiful morning.

About 10:30, it was time for a change.  Since the majority of the deer were seen on the other side of the creek, it only made sense to move.   After retrieving the Mule, I approached the soon-to-be scene of the accident.  Keep in mind, the Mule has made it through this creek several times and the only casualty to date was a lost set of keys and some displaced mud.  I walked into the water about halfway through the creek with the water not quite reaching the tops of my calf-high rubber boots.  Fine.  It had a bit more water in it that normal but it had recently rained.  This corresponded to a depth barely above the floorboard of the UTV.  I'd have to remember to wash the Mule prior to its return.

Just in case there was a problem, I put down my pack and rifle on the side of the trail.  (Editor's Note:  Probably the smartest thing that I did all day).  The Mule was eased into position, the differential locked, the 4WD engaged while I sat with a double white-knuckled grip on the wheel.  I entered the water at a fair clip and then gunned the engine, assuming the momentum would take me across with only wet boots to show for my trouble.  

After about 12 feet, there was a sinking feeling, both emotionally as well as physically as all forward motion stopped.  The Mule had stalled out, probably from water entering the muffler.  Panic stricken, I jumped out only to land in scrotum-deep water.  After nearly dislocating a thumb trying to get a pistol, cell phone, truck keys and wallet out of the drink, the full impact of this mistake was evident.  The Mule was not technically stuck but more floating to a standstill.  The following diagram should help you visualize the bottom contour of this particular tributary. (Please see Fig 1)

Figure 1.0 - Profile of Mule Eating Tributary

The next 4 hours involved hiking back to camp, starting the camp tractor, discovering the tractor has acquired a leak in the radiator line, hiking back to the Scene, using an interesting combination of tow straps, a come-along and an 8 foot long 2x4 to get the Mule back to boot high water and finally praying the neighbors were home to come drag everything back to camp with a reluctant 4-wheeler.  (Blessings on AT&T Wireless for providing coverage to this area).  The remainder of the afternoon was spent packing up camp, taking the Mule to the Kawasaki dealership, and calling my friend with the update on what I did to his $6000 toy.  (As an aside, apparently I’m the only person in the history of this particular dealer to actually tell the truth.  I mentioned to the mechanic I assumed he gets people in there all the time with flooded-out engines.  He said yes but I was the first person to actually admit it.  Apparently, the correct answer is “It just quit running”.)

Yessiree, you gotta love hunting. 

Cap'n Larry 

PS - I was very, very lucky that the engine stalled out prior to actually ingesting water.  They flushed the engine and all fluids 3X, cleaned everything up and buttoned it back together.  The repair bill was, in the big scheme of things, the cheapest education I've ever earned.

PSS - I bought a decrepit COOT ATV and after teaching myself to weld and cut metal, fixed it.  This is a story for another day but let's just say I'm now the proud owner of a Honda Rancher.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How I was Castrated While using an Ax

Free-range Firewood
We recently had a large tree taken down in the side yard.  The more it leaned, the more I became concerned  about losing all vehicles, part of the driveway and possibly a small child.  (Please note:  this is NOT Abby's Tree (yet)).

Having a strong back and weak mind, I took it upon myself to split the wood for the fire pit in the backyard.  This of course involved the use of various axes and the purchase of a new splitting maul and some bizarre twisted wedge called a Woodblaster.

The logs were cut a bit too long and technically too green so the "splitting" involved me pounding on a section for all I was worth for anywhere between 1 to 3.7 minutes before a single chunk of burnable, split wood was removed.  I tell myself this is "exercise" while having R-rated fantasies about hydraulic log splitters from Northern Tool.

My loving wife comes out to observe her "man" in action (I assumed).  Chopper of wood, reader of books, hunter of beasts, provider of food and shelter....  yes, surely she felt lucky to be married to such a multi-talented renaissance man.

She watched for a few minutes and then asked dryly..."How come 'Pa' on Little House on the Prairie could split wood with ONE chop?"

Instantly, my height, self-confidence and testosterone levels fell to record lows.

"Thanks honey... I love you too."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to: Judge Distances While Hunting Aoudads

Larry - Pursuer of Aoudads, Killer of None
In March of 2010, my good buddy Devin Kavid (not his real name) and I went in pursuit of aoudads in Central / West Texas.  Aoudads (also called Barbary sheep) are fascinating animals which were imported into Texas after WWII.  As is usually the case, they went feral, spread to surrounding environments to their liking, and took the jobs of hard-working Americans.  They are notoriously hard to kill and LOOOOONG shots are apparently quite common.  

I had visited this particular area in the past where I learned a valuable lesson of not "dorking around" and wasting too much time before taking a very doable shot on a beautiful animal.  (This is the exact opposite problem I had when I rushed and missed a 40 yard lay-up shot more recently.)  I have since learned it is best to take the first good, solid, high-percentage shot you have AND that you can make versus waiting for or trying to move positions for an even better shot which might not present itself.  I'm still bitter over this but therapy has helped.

The evening before the first hunt,  Devin and I sat in lawn chairs near the camp about 1/2 - 3/4th of a mile away from the long, skinny mountain, becoming one with our binoculars.  To our surprise, we actually spotted several aoudads moving through a boulder strewn slope on the south side of the mountain.  You'd scan an area and see nothing only to re-scan the area and see a boulder now had grown a head with the tell-tale "T" shaped horns.  THIS is why we were here and we were stoked.  Man this is cool.

We planned to hunt the top of the mountain but since we had seen sheep on the lower slopes, we made new plans to hunt the lower levels in the morning.  Devin was to take the left side of the ridge and I was to take the right.  Simple.

After a freezing 4-wheeler ride to the mountain where I used my face to knife through the air and protect Devin's delicate features, we climbed a small ridge which projects off the mountain and each found a spot to our liking about 100 yards apart.  What a beautiful day!  Cold, crisp air with no wind.  It was a great day to be alive.  30 minutes after sun-up, the radio cracked with Devin's whispering voice:  "There are 5 in front of me now.  Two look like shooters!"  Updates to the herd quality, genders horn quality and general location were exchanged over several minutes.  They did not seem to be moving much closer so Devin decided he was going to take his shot.  He propped up his pack on a 200lb piece of pink granite, settled in, got his breathing under control and squeezed the trigger.  (There is nothing quite like the report of a rifle on a chilly morning!)

The following conversation went something like this. 

Larry:  (upon arriving to where Devin was still hunkered down after letting loose his 130 grain .270 bullet)  "OK, where were they?"

Devin:  "See that big rock with the stick on top?"

(Larry distance estimation =  ~200 yards away)

Larry:  "Yeah!!!"

Devin:  "Now look straight past it to that clump of rocks with the big bushy tree to the right."

(Larry distance estimation =  ~300 yards away)

Larry "err... OK"

Devin:  "Now, look up the mountain past that big boulder to those three trees with the one leaning over..."

(Larry distance estimation / guess =  ~400 yards, plus or minus a lot))

Larry:  "ummm ...  OK?"

Devin:  "There were 5 of them standing on those rocks just past that dead tree to the right!!!!"

(Larry distance estimation / complete-stab-in-the-dark, wild guesstimate =  ~500-800+ yards away)

Larry:  "Man, that is a looooong way.  How far do you think that is???"

Devin:  "About 300 yards or so."

Larry:  "And how far did you hold over his back?"

Devin:  "I just held high about 6" higher than normal"

Larry (thinking Devin has undershot the animal by a tad more than 6") "eeerrrr....well.....ummmmm...let's go have a look????"

After an inefficient journey through God's own rock garden / rattlesnake condominium, the only things we found after hiking the 1/4 mile over the "kill" zone were a twisted ankle, a bruised ego and immeasurable emptiness.

For Christmas, Devin will be receiving the following trajectory table (suitable for framing).  For discussion purposes, I've highlighted the range by which he missed.

Lessons learned:  Carry a range finder; practice judging distances with it; and have a thick skin following the de-construction of the event!