Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Real Reason why Feral Hogs have such Bad Attitudes

I think I may have discovered why feral hogs, especially the big boars, have such a bad attitude... dental disease!

Below are the tusks that I painstakingly removed from the last big boar I dispatched.  (link to a pic)  (I might write a post on this "method" if there is an interest.)

One tusk in the photos below (right or bottom) is "normal" and what I was expecting see.  The portion above the gumline is solid with a hollow area deep within the jaw where the tooth is formed.

The other tusk had an area of decay its entire length that even affected the socket and the formation of the tooth.  The paper thin root of the tooth is turned in on itself and there is what appears to have been an active infection within the jaw too.  I assume this was a constant, ongoing source of pain for this animal.

I have no idea if this was the result of an injury, decay that started at the tip or something else altogether.


A Man in the Woods

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Load a LARGE Animal onto your 4 Wheeler - Method #2

One of the many reasons I enjoy hanging out with older people is I get to benefit from their experiences and wisdom without having to experience the actual physical injuries and restraining orders firsthand.  

Our hunting lease is a perfect example where this sort of osmotic learning can take place.  I just need to remember to shut my mouth long enough to learn from the available wisdom.  There is an older gentleman (a term I use loosely) I've known for ~10 years.  He had a hip replaced a year ago but is now in the market for two new knees.  For this discussion, let's simply refer to him as "Mon Dartin" (not his real name).  

Being semi-decrepit yet wiser than he looks, Mon is chock full of labor and back saving tricks that have turned out to be exceedingly useful in the woods.  This post outlines the first of the 2 methods I've learned from him on how to load things heavier than you can comfortably lift.

This all started when I came hobbling back to our hunting camp one day with a very dead 150lb boar and a telescoped spine.  I complained how I nearly crippled myself trying to load him onto the 4 wheeler, had contracted a scorching case of fleas and ticks and how I seriously thought I'd have to simply drag him back to camp.  (As I've shared before, a variety of adjectives could be used to describe me but "tall" and "strong" would not be found on the list.)

Mon looked at me like with his "this guy must be an idiot" look and proceeded to share the following loading technique.  Recently, I had the opportunity to use it and thought I'd share.


How to Load a LARGE Animal onto your 4 Wheeler - Method #2

(Method #1 involves getting a mountain of a man with a monosyllabic name like "Ox", "Grunt" or "Moose" to load it for you.)

1.  Kill a large, urine-soaked, stinking hog you cannot lift more than 2-3" off the ground without blowing out a knee, rotator cuff or simply stroking out. (Obviously, this technique is not limited to hogs.)

2.  Immediately gut it to lighten the load by ~30% and help the meat cool down more quickly.

3.  Drag the boar to a conveniently shaped tree to (i) remove the accumulated fire ants and (ii) allow you to hoist it up.  

A good tree will have a solid branch about 10' up running generally parallel to the ground.  It will help if branch height (T) is greater than or equal to the length of your urine-soaked, stinking hog (H) + the height of your 4 wheeler rack (F). Otherwise, you'll still have to man-handle your animal to get it situated.  For the math inclined:
T > H + F

A bad tree will have a weak or dead branch at the ideal 10' height that will result in unplanned hog-to-ground (HTG) contact.  The details of how I know of the HTG phenomenon are unimportant at this time.

4.  Take a long section (~50') of strong rope and double it back on itself in the middle.  Throw this loop over the target branch in the tree.

4.5  Repeat Step 4 multiple times until the rope is, in fact, OVER the target branch.  Swearing may help.

5.  Slide the two parallel lines through the loop like shown in the photo.  (Known as a sea cucumber knot; first used by the Upper Volta navy)

6.  Put one of the animals back feet/legs through this loop as shown.

7.  Tie one end of the rope to the 4 wheeler and gently pull the hog skyward until it will generally clear the 4 wheeler's rack.

8.  Set the parking brake and WHILE NOT GETTING UNDERNEATH THE ANIMAL, wrap and tie off the other rope end (the loose one) to a tree trunk or stout branch.  

9.  Slowly ease off tension on the 4 wheeler rope to ensure the tie-off rope is holding.

10.  Position the 4 wheeler under the hog and slowly lower it down by letting out a small amount of rope and using the tree trunk or branch as a brake.

11.  Secure hog to 4 wheeler rack with bungee cords, rope or the weight of a small child and drive back to camp, basking in your labor-saving glory.

12.  IMMEDIATELY scrap off any stray fire ants that fly off the hog onto your person while you proceed down the trail.

Method #3 (future post) is a bit more challenging but is useful when there are no trees around!


A Man in the Woods with a Saved Back

Friday, December 6, 2013

Apparently Money Can Buy You a Ticket to Happiness

I just liked this when I saw it.  Pretty much says it all.

A Man in the Woods (with a very full freezer!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Things People Eat

So I'm now a "sponsor" on with the side business.

As a sponsor you get to run a contest from time-to-time.  I thought it would be fun / interesting to run a contest asking members what were some of the odd things they've eaten over the years.  The winner was randomly selected and received a 48" x 24" CARNIVORE Big Cutting Board.  (Shameless plug warning:  These are GREAT gifts for the hunter / outdoorsman in your life.  Help out your spouse this year, ask for a BIG Cutting Board).

The give-away contest text read: welcomes a new sponsor! makes…..well…. BIG cutting boards. Their cutting boards fit perfectly across the tailgate of a truck or across sawhorses and are perfect when you have a bunch of fish to clean or a deer or hog to butcher. Made in the U.S.A from U.S.A. sourced HDPE (same stuff used in professional kitchens), their cutting boards are easy to clean and easy on your knives’ blades. 

The CARNIVORE BOARD is 48” x 24” and the CUB BOARD is 32” x 16”. Both come with carrying handles. More details can be found at

This is a special giveaway for our members. Just answer the following questions:
- What is the weirdest animal you’ve killed and eaten? 
- How did this particular critter meet its demise? (bullet, hook, ’78 Ford truck bumper,…)
- How was it prepared?
- Would you eat it again?

All who provide a reply will be entered into a drawing and one lucky winner will receive a 48” x 24” CARNIVORE Cutting Board. We will draw a winner on 09/30 (just in time for hunting season). Good luck!

The results were quite interesting and since I'm a geek, can drive a spreadsheet and have nothing else better to do than play with numbers, I thought it would be interesting to semi-analyze the results.

There were ~ 220 useful responses that seemed real.  References to chupacabre, rhino and whooping cranes were ignored.

(Please note, A Man in the Woods does not condone the reckless killing of animals or the breaking of game laws.  Many of the stories reported appear to be the result of youthful exuberance or just plain curiosity / stupidity.  Do not judge)

Critter Types
Not a surprise, mammals polled highest but I was a bit surprised reptiles were higher than birds.  The contest certainly skewed the results.

 No big surprised here.  A nice even spread of different birds.  It should be noted, the only person to have reported puking after eating something was the buzzard eater.

I assume it is a desperate man that would intentionally eat a plecostomus.  Most of the others are not surprising but I was surprised at the number of fishermen who ate their bait (at times, raw and usually on a bet).

I'm tired of the bar charts so included the same info as above in a pie chart.

Obviously raccoons, armadillos, javelinas, squirrels and nutria had good showings.

Usually, comments on the quality of table fare for a given species were wide ranging.  I'm not sure if the animals are truly that bad or if the participants are simply bad cooks.  I honestly think protein, in the hands of a good cook, can be made not only edible but actually quite tasty. (Chris, your bobcat recipe was superb!)

Also, if the weirdest or strangest thing you've ever killed and eaten is a squirrel, you REALLY need to push your comfort zone a bit.  Squirrels are some of the best free-range, antibiotic-free, wild game you can eat.  They can be tough and you need to learn to cook them but they are excellent!!!

Reptiles and Amphibians
I was a bit surprised that rattlesnake has such a strong showing.  I guess it is more popular or acceptable than I imagined.  I've never had softshell turtle but must admit, I'm curious and will definitely put one on the "to-do" list.  The python reports were, if I remember correctly, Vietnam-era field preparations.  Desperate times call for...

Means of Demise
Not a surprise, bullets or shotgun pellets and hooks were the most reported means of death.  Hands and various methods of bludgeoning were popular as well and included ball peen hammer, tire tool, wrench, baseball bat and frying pan.  Ford had 2 reported vehicular contributions with Chevy, Jeep and Oldsmobile each showing up once.  Oddest means was likely a sheet of plywood which apparently contributed to the death of a blackbird.

Guns and Bullets
Not a surprise, rimfire ammo was popular which only highlights its versatility.  I know of many folks who have taken animals up to feral hogs with .22 LRs.  I killed a 70lb hog while squirrel hunting once with a .22 mag and it dropped in its tracks.

Observations and Comments
  • Out of 16 armadillo responses, only 3 indicated they would eat it again.  Most were exceedingly negative.
  • Apparently, beef mammary tissue and beef testicles are in fact, good, in you believe the 2 folks who reported them.
  • Of the 11 javelina comments, 3 were listed as "heck yes" with most including "never again" or "only if starving."
  • Mountain lion apparently is pretty good.
  • Nutria were shockingly negative.  I thought they were good to eat but the overwhelming response was "never again".
  • Both porcupine eaters said "never again".
  • The best comments for possom were "just ok" but most claiming "never again".  Ever since I heard a story of a possum family crawling out of the anus ("bung hole" if you are from East TX) of a swollen, bloated and very dead cow, I crossed them off my personal list.
  • A single prairie dog eater said it was excellent.  I was under the impression they were awful but am now curious.  Not really interested though in contracting the bubonic plague.
  • Cottontails and 4H rabbits were generally reported to be pretty good but it sounds like the same cannot be said for jack rabbits.
  • Raccoons were all over the map with responses ranging wildly.  Several were "never again" or "only if starving" but others were quite positive.  Since they are major rabies reservoirs, I think I'll pass.
  • 10 squirrel eaters reported "just ok" twice but "heck yes" the remaining 8 times.  As I've noted, squirrels are generally excellent table fare and truly a blast to hunt.
  • Two folks reported mystery meat, one from a Russian flea market vendor and one from a Vietnamese neighbor.  BTW, you could not PAY me to eat flea market food, regardless of the country.
  • Bullfrogs were generally quite popular as were rattlesnakes.  Never tried rattler but will when given the opportunity.
  • As noted above, softshell turtle had a high 80% approval rating.
Some of the more interesting tidbits from the contest were found in general commentary.  The funniest comment of all was on the experience of eating a hardhead catfish:

Not exactly a ringing endorsement!


A Man in the Woods

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Men Die Sooner than Women

Last week, I was in Colorado on an elk hunt.  The camp cook had a running list of items needed for the hunters' meals stuck on the refrigerator.

The "shopping list" looked like it was sponsored by the Cardiovascular Surgeons of America.

After 9 days of road food and a nearly 100% meat-based diet while in the mountains, my colon and I are glad to be home!


A Man in the Snow (with no elk... again)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Devastated Squirrel

What does a squirrel look like at the instant he drops his nut...?

From Huffington Post



A Man in the Woods who is actually looking forward to deer season ending so he can go squirrel hunting!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Percentage Breakdown of a Deer: What Weighs What?

I fully realize I'm "odd" when it comes to these types of things but... I've always wondered, "How much of a deer's weight consist of hide, bone, head, meat, guts...?"  Stated another way, "How much real meat do you get from a deer?".

I recently commented to some friends on the amount of lean, trimmed, deboned meat I packed in the freezer from a small, Southeast Texas deer and asked for their input.  One of them shared the following numbers from a 7 point buck he killed near Mason, TX some time back.  I found this interesting so I thought I'd share.

Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on lots of factors (poor knife skills, fat deer who really needed to pee, ...) so these should be considered general, "rules of thumb".  My percentages were not as high as found below but the certain individual (whose name rhymes with Mon Dartin) who weighed each of these components will pick a carcass cleaner than a pack of hungry fire ants in August.

A few notes:

  • Ribs are broken out separately since not everyone takes them.  
  • The live weight the deer is probably a bit higher since it does not include the weight of the blood.
  • Weight of ticks IS included below in the hide category.

If you've done a similar calculations on other game animals or on deer from other parts of the country, please share in the comments sections below.

% of live animal % of field dressed
lbs animal animal
Live Weight
136 100%  ---
Field dressed weight
104 76% 100%
32 24%
Edible meat
56.9 42% 55%
4.1 3% 4%
Head, antlers, lower legs, skin
29.3 22% 28%
Trimmed scraps, bones
13.8 10% 13%

At some point, I plan to weight each and every component since now I'm curious as to how much a deer's head weighs, just by itself.


A Man in the Woods

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blood on your Hands

Below is a picture I snapped after a successful outing this past Saturday.

It is a photo of my favorite rifle with blood on the stock, leaning against a tree.

It is bloody because I either:
(a) picked it up with a bloody hand,
(b) used it to finish off a wounded deer,
(c) put the blood there as a symbol of a successful hunt,
(d) deeply cut my finger trying to open a pack of TicTacs, or
(e) absentmindedly threw a piece of bloody trachea away from the carcass and hit the ONLY object within 900 square acres I would have preferred to NOT get bloody.

A Man in the Woods (finally)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's the Most, Wonderful Time of the Year

Coffee cup in hand, I opened the garage door this morning to remove my wife's car from the "Shipping Department" of and was greeted with the slightest chill in the air.

Instantly, I could smell the cool, damp woods and feel that distinct, serene quiet that one experiences when in the deer-woods, just listening to the forest wake up.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, hunting season is almost here!!!

As am aside, I should have my head examined for starting a business that significantly ramps up its activity just as hunting season starts.  Mornings were designed for hunting, not shipping and receiving.


A Man in the Woods, with packing tape and FEDEX receipts stuck on his boots

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Just a little casual shopping at the local grocery store

Lessons from the Field:  It is very hard to push 400lbs of deer corn through a grocery store without (i) being noticed, (ii) breaking a wheel on the cart or (iii) having a cornalanche as you try to negotiate the checkout stand.

I'm just saying.


A Man in the Woods

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Yeti Coolers for the Math Challenged

I recently read an article about the economic benefits of the super-duper, high-end coolers (ice chests) like those made by Yeti.  A great amount of effort was made of the "savings" you'll see by not having to purchase ice as often and "how they'll soon pay for themselves" after just a few trips.

Really...?  Tell me if I purchase one of these fancy-pants, high-end coolers that I'll (i) look taller and have more youthful skin, (ii) will become irresistible to my wife or (iii) I'll be a better hunter but don't blow smoke up my lower orifice by telling me it will pay for itself with "ice savings".

Does anyone really believe this hype?
I guess I need to share a dirty little secret with folks.  These coolers do not make ice or alter the atmosphere & climate making the need for ice obsolete.  You still have to buy ice.  Even if it does last longer, this doesn't matter a hill of beans in 98.7% of hunting situations.

To show how ridiculous this is for the average hunter, I offer the following examples:

Bob, Chris and Kevin go deer hunting in Texas over a 3 day weekend.  They buy two (2), 20 pound bags of ice @ $1.50 / bag.  They keep the ice in a $50 plain-Jane Igloo cooler and it lasts the weekend to keep food and drinks cold and to ice down one dead deer.

Total ice expenditures on this trip:  $3.00
Total ice expenditures over 4 hunting trips (2x/month for 2 month season):  ~$12.00

Bruce, Sven and Rafael, besides having really metrosexual sounding names, decide to go hunting and truffle collecting over the same weekends but with their $429, impact-resistant, bear-resistant, roto-milled, roto-tilled, high-end cooler.

Total ice expenditures on this trip:  $3.00
Total ice expenditures over 4 hunting trips (2x/month for 2 month season):  $12.00

Neither group ever goes musk ox hunting or encounters a grizzly and both coolers last their lifetimes.

ICE SAVINGS seen by the 2nd group with their super-duper cooler:   $0

# of years before the high-end cooler pays for itself with "ice savings":   (infinity)

Well THAT doesn't seem like such a good deal now, does it?

Perhaps it makes more sense with a week long hunt.  Let's see.... our intrepid hunters are off the grid for 9 days (2 days in the truck, 5 days chasing elk and 2 days back).  They take 80 pounds of ice ($6 worth) with them (most of which is bought in the last "real" town they pass through 1.5 days into their little adventure).  Like most hunts of this type, it is cool to down right bone chilling cold most of the time and because they are not stupid, they put the cooler in the shade.

The guys with the el-cheapo Igloo have to buy more ice on the way home since they killed a monster elk.  80 more pounds gives them a total expenditure for ice on the trip of ~$12.

The guys with the Yeti cooler (ignoring the fact they'll need several of these coolers since an elk is bigger than a rabbit) still have some ice left after they leave the mountain with their dead elk, only need to buy 40 more pounds at $1.50/bag.  Total ice expenditures for this group is $9.

ICE SAVINGS seen by the 2nd group with their super-duper cooler:   $3

$429.99 (cost of yeti) - $54.99 (cost of el cheapo cooler) = $375 (cooler differential)

Assuming our groups of hunters can only go on one such road trip a year, how many years would it take for them to "practically pay for the cooler with ice savings"?

$375 / $3 (annual savings) = 125 years.

So, unless you plan on hunting until you are 140 years old or leaving your cooler to your grand kids in your will, you might want to spend the extra $375 on something that might help you actually put something in the cooler like a better scope.... or binoculars... or an old rifle with character... and less on a plastic, roto-milled status symbol.

I'm just saying.


A Man with a Calculator

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How to Keep a Bad Little Dog in your Yard

We have two dogs.  Both were "adopted" street-urchin mutts.  One is good; the other is awful.

Dixie, has been highlighted on A Man in the Woods a few times.  She lacks long-term planning skills and inter-species respect but is otherwise normal.  45lbs, black, long tail, 4 legs, smart, loyal, generally trained and trainable.

Zac is 9 pounds of useless.  His most redeeming qualities are (i) he does not smell as much as he used to, (ii) he has the sphincter of a Rottweiler and (iii) he has 3 legs.  Having been born with 3 legs, he does not know he is handicapped and should otherwise be compromised in his movements and abilities.  Zac is also an escape artist.  An untrained, untrainable escape artist.

Our backyard has a metal, iron fence with 9lb dog-sized spaces between the vertical bars.  When life was good and complete and we only had Dixie, this was not a problem.  She could run around, bark, look through he fence and would rarely escape to run the neighborhood, terrorizing squirrels.

Then we got Zac, much against my better judgement.  At first, he respected the intent of the fence but soon learned that he could literally walk under or between the bars to annoy the neighbor's dogs and me while he frolicked in patches of poison ivy.  Options were suggested to prevent this.  "Puppy bars" would be expensive and take a long time to install.  A "chicken wire" solution was suggested.  Besides generally looking like crap, it too would take too long to install and to be candid, there are 243 other activities I'd rather be doing than installing a fence I don't want for a dog I did not want in the Texas summer heat with the Houston mosquitoes.  Ditto for invisible fences and installation of a complex design of miniature landmines, tripwires and trenches.

No, it was time to bring the mountain to Mohamed/Mohammad/Muhammad.

My middle daughter shared that a friend of hers has the same problem and they bought a collar which prevents the scoundrel from getting through the fence.  Research led to things like the "Puppy Bumper".  (Available for the low, low price of $24.50.... no, I'm not kidding.)

Small, useless white dog attempts suicide due to shame of wearing a Puppy Bumper

After ruling out a tethered bowling ball or boat anchor-based solution,  a collar seemed like the best approach.  Plus, it lent itself to the "the best solution is often the simplest, yet entertaining solution" approach.

Since this project was of growing family importance, I set aside a budget of $0.17 and promised to commit at least 3 minutes to solving the problem.

Using a unique combination of garage engineering / white trash design skills and common household items, the prototype device was built and tested.

Ladies and Gentlemen..... behold...... The Dog Bar.

I'm still contemplating quitting may day job and manufacturing these full time.  I'm very excited about the margins involved since it is not everyday you can manufacture a product, IN THE UNITED STATES NO DOUBT, with gross margins of 99.75%.

Until they are commercially available, I am willing to share with the world my proprietary design so you may build your own.

Supplies needed:
1 (one) bad little dog
1 (one) cardboard tube from the dry cleaners
Small amount of duct tape
1 (one) tight fitting collar.

1.  Tape cardboard tube to collar.
2.  Affix contraption to bad little dog.
3.  Release combination into the backyard.
4.  Return inside for a relaxing cup of coffee.
5.  Smile while inside, you are laughing, as the bad little dog attempts to penetrate the fence, only to have to pee inside his own yard.


A Man in the Woods who is not in his backyard putting up a fence for a dog he did not really want but who has, unintentionally, become part of his life and who likes to sit next to him as he reads articles about taking a safari in Africa.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Hunter Goes to Disney World: Observations From the Field

Our family recently returned from a trip to Disney World.  While not my #1 vacation choice, overall, a good time was had by all (even me).  Very different than the mountains of Colorado but still enjoyable.  Fortunately, we had the stifling heat to remind us of the stifling heat of our home state of Texas so being home sick was not a problem.

My family and I pride ourselves on the ability to have a good time regardless of where we are or what we are doing.  This is probably a survival mechanism to (i) prevent us from killing each other and (ii) prevent us from killing others.

One of the HIGHLY entertaining ways we extract enjoyment out of a situation like this is to "people watch".  We usually come up with a loose game of "bingo" or a weighted points system to make this more challenging.  Categories are intentionally kept fluid so the players have maximum flexibility.  Actually, coming up with the categories and the ensuing arguments about what would be more challenging to find, is half the fun.  Categories might include "Most Inappropriate Tattoo", "Most Unlikely Couple to Actually have Bred and Made a Baby", or "Man or Woman?:  You Decide".

The general idea is to capture, on a phone's camera, people and situations which will supplement the fun and laugh factors of the trip.  The trick is to not get caught while doing this.  A stealthy approach is needed and you often have to take the crowd and available cover into consideration.  So now, instead of just walking to a ride or attraction and fighting a wall of sticky humanity in the process, you have an additional activity which, I never really thought about, is just like hunting.  Spot and Stalk at its finest.

There are two direct consequences of these people watching games.  First, our vacation pictures include the usual types of pictures of the fam doing usual vacation stuff intermixed with pictures of fat, loud vacationers from New Jersey with unibrows with an abundance of inappropriate tattoos, eating a turkey leg, YELLING at their family members to "HURRY UP MA!!!" or a bored 5 year old in stroller, well beyond "pacifier age" with a finger two knuckles deep in his nose.

Second, since you are always on the look out for something of interest, you tend to make many keen observations about your fellow humans.

The following is a loose collection of observations from this trip

- I'm truly amazed at the variability of the human form.  You look at a herd of zebras, you see stark uniformity.  Sure, their stripes vary a bit but I bet the adult zebras in a herd only vary by 5% in size and shape.  You get fat, or are slow or identify yourself by unique tattoos or leave a scent of turkey legs as you prance around the savanna, a pride of lions or hyenas will GLADLY take you out of the herd.  Unfortunately, with too few apex predators feeding on humans in Orlando, you are as likely to see a short, morbidly obese cross-dressing turkey leg eater as you are a group of Chinese tourist with their noses simultaneously buried in a camera and a map who do not appreciate that Americans do, in fact, have a comfort zone.

-  Disney's Monorail system is an excellent platform from which to observe wildlife.  Deer, along with a gigantic snake, were seen as we were shuttled between parks.

-  When riding the Kilimanjaro Safaris "safari" ride an the Animal Kingdom, the people in front of you might recoil in disgust if you casually mention to your daughter "See that one in the middle, he's the shooter!".

- Walking is an excellent way to work on your legs for a Colorado hunt.

- I would be a millionaire if I had thought to invest in a tattoo ink manufacturer.  I'd estimate that 78.3% of ALL people now have ink somewhere on their persons.  I could see getting a tattoo IF I was part of an elite group of people like the Navy Seals or drove for Maserati's racing team but to get all inked up to join the legions of folks with just another arm with just another random tribal pattern,... or barbed wire,... or a tramp-stamp expressing how she is "Daddy's Little Girl"?, ...  I don't get it.

- People have NO ability to think more than 7 minutes into the future.  We saw a person with a Charlie the Tuna tattoo.  While I'm sure this seemed like a superb idea at 11:17PM one night when you had about 6 too many but it doesn't seem so cool now at 35 with two kids in tow, does it?

- I'm not sure if the morbidly obese do not SEE it (and the shocking health and aesthetic consequences) or do not CARE.  Every time I saw a person with my frame (5'6") carrying an extra couple of hundred pounds around while they waddled up to a turkey leg counter with the remnants of the last funnel cake they destroyed on their face and shirt, I was mesmerized... "Are they really going to eat more?"  "How do you afford this?"  "When you stroke out, can I have your FastPass?"

Disney has been forced to take steps to make their parks more fat-friendly and have modified many rides to accommodate our more portly fellow travellers.  Tired of boats in the horrific "It's a Small World" ride literally dragging bottom and getting stuck, they had to make changes.  Can you image the awkwardness as a Disney employee has to subtly ask some of the offending, weighty passengers to disembark so the boat can float again and the other passengers can continue the ride?  Man, I'd LOVE that job assuming the use of a cattle prod was involved.


A Man at Disney Who is Looking Forward to Getting Back in the Woods

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Insanity of Scent Control

I recently read an article on setting up a "scent control whitetail hunting room".  The article included suggestions such as dedicated lockers for your gear, a boot dryer, a dedicated clothing dryer to "refresh your carbon-based scent blocking clothing", an ozone generator, a "family" of scent blocking soaps, shampoos, detergents and scent-free deodorant, all of which combine to cover or eliminate your scent to avoid detection by game animals.

While I fully appreciate that hunters are an obsessive lot, this, ladies and gentlemen, is simply stupid.  (I also appreciate it is helpful to have casual mentions of your advertisers' products in articles in your magazine.)

Let me let you in on a little secret that might have alluded you since the 2nd grade or puberty, which ever came first.... we stink.  Not only do we stink but we tend to stink more and more as the day goes on.  Try masking the odor of 3-4 burly men in the mountains after 4 days of elk hunting, camp fire smoke, spilled coffee, no running water, no showers and lots of beans???  It simply can't be done.

The nose of a whitetail deer (and similar beasts) is estimated to be 500-1,000 times more sensitive to smells than our noses.  This has to do with increased surface area of their nasal cavities, increased density of "smell collecting cells" and more dedicated brain power as a percentage of gray matter for the processing of smells.

Even if you could eliminate 99.9% of the scent on your clothes (which you can't), you are still going to be breathing, shedding skin cells, and growing a bumper crop of bacteria throughout the day to the point you will literally REEK and WILL be detected by a deer, elk or pretty much any non-brain dead mammal if they are downwind of you.

I did a bit of research on just a few sources of stench.  In human breath alone, there are hundreds of compounds that change throughout the day and which depend on your genetic make-up and on your diet.  In a riveting study called "Variations in volatile organic compounds in the breath of normal humans", the researchers noted the AVERAGE person in study (50 folks total) had ~204 different VOCs in their breath.  3,481 VOCs were detected with 1,753 having higher concentrations than the normal concentration in air.  27 were common to all 50 folks.

And that is just the smelly plume coming out of your mouth (an area never covered by "scent-absorbing clothing").  Imaging the horrors coming out of your other orifices (nether regions if you are in polite company; body holes, if you are from East Texas; bung hole if you are from Point Blank, Texas.)

Scent blocking clothing manufacturers have been found guilty of false advertising and in a MythBuster test and in a good old Field and Stream article, the silliness of trying to control your scent to fool a keen animal has been shown time and time again.

So, instead of buying a $299 ozone generator and literally pouring money down the drain with "scent control" products aimed at the desperate, naive hunter, why not spend nothing and be more mindful of the direction of the wind and do what you can to use it to your favor?


A Man in the Woods

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Of Ice and Ants

On a recent trip to the woods, the "plan" was to hunt for just an hour or two and then do some work.

Why is it when you have LOADS of time to hunt, you don't see anything but when you are pressed for time, you will kill something only to set yourself further behind schedule by having to clean the animal?  Such is life.

To say I was unprepared on this trip would be an understatement.  I had a pig on the ground, no decent knife with me (forgot to put it back in my day pack) and very little ice.  Luckily, I keep a spare knife in the truck and had the pig in the cooler relatively quickly.  The tiny bit of ice was added to the cooler and the entire thing was placed under my open tailgate to keep it out of the sun until I could get a bag of ice.

This was a mistake that will not be repeated in the future.

Upon returning to the camp to pack up and ice down the meat, I opened to cooler to find about 3,000 new friends.  Fire Ants, the other imported scourge of the South had discovered the pig parts in the cooler and wasted no time in spreading the word.  The parts in the tiny bit of ice/water were fine but the exposed parts were teeming with ants!

I knocked off what I could, packed up and as quickly as possible dumped 20lbs of ice on the entire mess.

Luckily, anyone who might be sharing a meal from this particular swine was not home and I was able to wash off the insects and scrape away the stragglers while I boned out the meat.

If any one asked, I plan to simply say any remaining specs are "just pepper".


A Man in the Woods

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Tell if You've Had a Good Weekend

I noticed something not too long ago.  There is a strong correlation between the injuries on / discomfort level of my body on Monday and the amount of fun I had over the weekend.

This past weekend was a perfect example.  Saturday consisted of ...

Coyote hunting which resulted in the death of one 70lb evil pig (212 yard head shot sitting, off a bipod; 130 grain Remington Core-Lokts; wind negligible; temperature stifling; chigger factor 8.7)...

Installing the door and roof and putting the finishing touches on my newest deer blind...

Moving a buddy's deer blind with two other red-necks with a unique combination of ropes, 4 wheelers, sweat and an old boat trailer converted into a deer stand moving trailer...

Putting out 160lbs of protein feed in 109F weather...

and butchering and cooking the prime cuts off the pig.

My battle scars for the day's efforts included...

a sunburn (picture not available)...

a busted knuckle from deer stand manipulation...

A blood blister from too quickly collapsing the legs on my bipod when the pigs came back to investigate one of their fallen comrades...

and about 200 chigger bites on my back, arms, legs, arm pits, ankles and nether region.

All in all, it was a grand time and I look forward to the next outing but with more OFF!


A Man (who is still scratching) In the Woods

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sometimes you just need to "Go with the flow" when fishing

Since she has an intense interest in fishing, I recently spent some time on the water with my blood-thirsty 8-year old.  I'm still not entirely sure who learned more on the trip.

Some family friends of ours live on Lake Livingston in East Texas.  (Yes, you CAN hear banjos playing from their back porch.)  They are friends with a very knowledgeable white bass and catfish guide and set up a morning trip for the four of us.

Bob and Cathy are very old and very experienced with all things rods-and-reels.  I'm OK on the fishing front but my 8-year old daughter does not have a great deal of experience to draw upon.  We all helped her from time to time and gave her some pointers but our guide Lee was GREAT in helping her with the rod, handling the fish and generally coaching.

We were jigging which is, in my opinion, a semi-boring but certainly productive way to fish.  The general technique was to let the jig hit the bottom, quickly jerk it up a foot or two and then let it gently fall.  You'd often get hits on the fall and you needed to pay attention to feel the bite.

Jill, NOT known for her lengthy attention span or willingness to follow rules or suggestions, stuck with the program for about 30 minutes.  I'd remind her from time to time she was jerking the rod too much and Lee was as patient as he could be in offering her consistent, positive advice.

But the odd thing was, Jill, with her modified, epileptic seizure-like uncoordinated flailing which included spontaneous bird watching, laughing, trash-talking, testing the tensile strength of her gear and jerking her jig anywhere from 1.2 inches to 8-12 feet off the bottom, started catching fish.

A lot of fish.

At first I was thinking, oh sure, anyone gets lucky every now and then.  But on her 12th gigantic white bass, I was beginning to think her "technique" was more valid than most.  (As an aside, few things are as infuriating as fishing in the same water with the same equipment with the same lure and getting smoked by an 8-year old!)

So, after a while, instead of reminding her to "do what daddy or Mr. Lee was doing", I simply shut up and tried to emulate the child.

There is a lesson in there somewhere, even if I don't care to acknowledge it.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all and we have plans for another trip later this Fall.

I cannot say enough nice things about Loy and Lee Deason at LLD Lake Livingston Guide Service.  They were great and treated Jill like a queen.  Thank you again guys!


A Man in the Woods (and sometimes on the water)