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Yesterday ended the Spring Turkey Season here in Maryland. As the season came to an end, so did my hopes of finally taking a long beard. This is my third season of hunting the elusive bird without having the pleasure of even seeing one in the woods. It seems that the more my anticipation builds, the harder it is to be patient. Hearing gobbling flocks in the woods right before sunrise and then not seeing a single bird is not just extremely frustrating, but makes one question their abilities as an outdoorsman. What am I doing wrong? Not enough camouflage? Do I need more practice with my diaphragm calls? Am I calling too much? Poor decoy placement? SHIT?!?! The ‘what if’ scenarios are endless.

Now that the season is officially over and I don’t have any more time to change my game plan, there is no reason to keep beating myself up over it. The time has come and gone, and now it’s time to reflect. Friends in the area have seen birds, but turkey success stories are few and far between. So it’s not just me. The bird is elusive… period. Even though it’s hard not to question what you’re doing wrong, sometimes you just have to remember that the hunt isn’t supposed to be easy. My failed attempts in bagging a wild turkey has only promoted a new respect for the animal, and makes the hunt that much more enjoyable time and time again.

Instead of constantly replaying mistakes or ill-planned mornings in my mind, I’m going to keep doing my homework and prepare for next year. The failed attempts will only make my future success that much better. As for the past three seasons that I spent without seeing a single bird… a Spring morning in the woods is never a waste of time. 

 

With hobbies like mine phones are always being put to the test. Getting thrown in bags, covered in mud, blood, and guts, enduring the cold, wet conditions of late waterfowl hunts, and being exposed to extreme temperatures on the boat in August while I’m out crabbing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my phone in my waders or my shorts and had mini heart attacks because water comes rushing in threatening to destroy every piece of technology in my pockets. NOT a good feeling!

The LifeProof case is advertised as Water Proof, Dirt Proof, Snow Proof, and Shock Proof. I was skeptical at first. Very skeptical. It’s almost too good to be true. The lean case doesn’t add much weight or increase the dimensions of the phone too much, so it still easily fits in the pockets of your favorite blue jeans. The polycarbonate frame that works as the inner shell of the case works as a shock absorbent, and the screen cover is scratch resistant and completely water proof, while still making the touch screen easy to use. The charging and earphone jack ports are covered with waterproof casings, but are still readily accessible.

When I first received the phone case I had to try it out. Before I put my phone to the test, I sealed the case closed as an empty shell, and submerged it in water. The inside of the case was water free and made me a believer. Since then I have had the LifeProof case on my iPhone and have been happy with it. It has been through cold, wet waterfowl hunts, stepped on by my 110 lb. Chesapeake Bay Retriever, splashed with salt water while on my boat in the Chesapeake Bay, and dropped on hard surfaces more times than I can remember. The phone works great and the case doesn’t even look battered.

I give the LifeProof phone cases a 9/10.

After 6 months of use I did manage to break the waterproof flap that covers the charging port. It wouldn’t stay shut or keep a seal, and took away the water proof aspect of the case. I got online and found a number to the LifeProof customer service (available 24/7) and explained my problem to them. They sent me a brand new case right away with no questions asked. The company was responsive, caring, and understanding that people with the need for this case are not going to be gentle with it. The company was great and easy to work with.

Since I have bought my LifeProof, they have come out with multiple colors, which I think is more important as the popularity of the case grows. Not every LifeProof user wants their phone to look exactly like every other person with the case. Smart move on their part. The only tough thing to stomach when purchasing the case is the retail price of $75. Fairly expensive for a phone case, but in my opinion very worth it. It is it’s own form of insurance for the everyday guy who doesn’t work in a cubicle or spend his weekends reading comic books.

You can check out LifeProof phone cases at

Cabin Fever

Warmer Weather

Winter is finally coming to an end and every outdoorsman is itching with excitement to get back outdoors with a shotgun or fishing rod in their hand. The region just had a snow storm scare the last couple of days… but my area didn’t see anything but 3 inches of rain and high winds (such a relief). Since the closing days of duck season I haven’t had an opportunity to be outdoors very much. Around here the month of February sucks. Unless you’re an oysterman, it is a dead time of year. No hunting season is currently in and the slow fishing doesn’t justify the brutal conditions one faces being on the water. The only positive thing about it is my equipment stays clean… probably too clean.

 

Yellow Perch/Stripers

The snow storm scare is now past us and I can see the home stretch towards spring. The yellow perch are getting crushed in the rivers, and the weather isn’t so brutal you can stand holding a rod for more than 10 minutes. A couple of good buddies on the eastern shore have slammed the panfish a few times from their kayaks and have given hope that the fishing season has finally arrived. The striper season is slowly approaching as well… meaning it is time to make sure the boat is running like a top and that the trolling rigs are ready to go. Talk about exciting… everyone around these parts gets pumped up for rockfish season. Yellow perch are the appetizer for this time of year. You get a taste of the smaller panfish on 1/8 oz jig heads and then come April you bring out the big guns. Trolling with 10-14 oz lures and slamming 18-40 inch stripers arguably makes the spring one of the most exciting times to be on the water. But that depends on how serious you take your summer crabbing (my crabbing trips usually consist of a cooler of Budweisers getting crushed before 10 am).

 

Turkey!

Cold February mornings means organizing tackle boxes, drinking coffee, and watching the outdoor channel. It’s that time where all you see on TV is spring gobblers getting blasted all over the country. My trail cams are set on field edges and have caught a couple different flocks of long beards on the family farm… making the anticipation for April 18 that much more. Cleaning my shotgun, practicing my diaphragm calls and organizing my hunting bag and camo is all I can do to prepare for killing a turkey. In my opinion, it is one of the most challenging and rewarding hunts found in this area and only adds to the exciting time of year that is quickly approaching.

 

I am a little late posting on Boh’s first duck hunt, but better late than never. The details of the hunt are still fairly vivid in my mind, because it was an awesome day for me. Boh is my first retriever, and it was his first hunt, so of course when everything came together and a couple birds dropped, I was lit up like a proud parent.

Opening day of the early duck season here in Maryland my brother and I were sitting in the blind, decoys out, drinking coffee with the dog sitting between us like he had known his role from the very start. The first 10 minutes of shooting light brings in a small flock of mergansers, making us grin from ear to ear. We both shoot and drop two birds in the first 15 minutes of shooting light on opening morning.

This was the moment of truth for Boh. Not only did he have a bird to get, he had TWO birds to get. I had previously only worked with him on double retrieves a handful of times, and I wasn’t sure if he would know what to do. Questions and doubts were racing through my mind, but he jumped up out of the blind and did his job like he had been doing it for years.

A double retrieve. In the first 15 minutes. On opening day. His first time in the blind. I was PUMPED.

Since then we have been in the blind quite often, and he has retrieved birds for me numerous times already. He’s doing well and I think he enjoys being out on the water as much as I do.

He is a young dog. He has some kinks that will need to be worked out. But all in all I couldn’t have been happier with his performance on our first outing. He did his job, and did it well. That’s all I can ask for. Having a retriever in the blind and finally seeing the training come into play was an awesome feeling, and it makes each hunt much more enjoyable being able to work with my pup. It takes the hunting experience to a new level, and I’ll never go back.

Boh's First Hunt

GoPro Hero 3

I got what I asked for this Christmas. The GoPro Hero 3. I’ve never owned a GoPro, but this new model of the durable camera is… bad ass. I asked for it because I wanted to be able to record hunts, training sessions with the dog, take it on the boat in the summertime, become a well known and famous outdoorsman on the hunting channels. You know, all the basics.

Not previously owning a GoPro it took some getting used to at first. The small camera fits in the palm of your hand and only has 2 buttons on it. The screen is tiny, but not hard to read. The only trouble I really had with the camera initially was figuring out how to operate the various settings on it. The multi-shot camera, time lapse video, and slow motion capturing are all still foreign to me, but I hope to get there soon.

I have had the GoPro in the woods twice already. The first time, I pull it out of my bag to turn it on, and it was dead. I thought I had turned it off, but apparently did not. That was upsetting. The second time was this past Sunday when I was just walking through public hunting land scouting for a new duck hunting honey hole. I had time to mess with it, and finally figured most of it out through trial and error. I’m not an electronic whiz, though, so it may not take some people as long as it did me.

The quality of the videos and photos is unbelievable. The wide angle lens makes for awesome photos outdoors because it allows you to capture the entire surrounding environment. It was hard at first to snap photos without having a lens to see what is in the view, but the wide angle almost assures that you can’t miss what you were trying to capture.

A word of advice for anyone thinking of buying a GoPro, or giving one as a gift, it did not come with the Micro SD card needed to store the footage. I couldn’t use the camera until I went out and got the SD card. Other than that, it does come equipped with the basic accessories needed to get some great action footage. I recommend the GoPro cameras to anyone that has an outdoor hobby, or is trying to make it to the big time on the outdoor channels, such as myself.

Just yesterday I finally broke down and did it. I bought an adjustable shock collar for my one year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Boh. Saturday is the opening day of duck season here in Maryland, and I was not sure if Boh would be ready to sit still for long periods of time, so I needed to find something to ensure he wouldn’t make my opening day a huge disaster.

I hunt with my brother and a couple of buddies, and introducing my pup to the hunting group is a big deal. I was the first one to go out and buy a bird dog last year, and this is the first season he will be ready to hunt with us. I’m excited to get him out there, and hope that the hours spent training him have not gone to waste. The retrieving aspect is not the problem, it is the patience portion of the work that I am worried about. I did my research on the shock collars and it seems that a lot of people who work dogs use them.

Image

The Results:

After just two days of working Boh with the shock collar around his neck, the results are unbelievable. The basic commands and obedience was already there, but the small things is what needed to be fixed. For example, waiting for the command to retrieve after the bird or bumper has hit the water, was often cut short because of excitement to get moving. Constant moving around and wanting to run, or wanting to walk in circles instead of sitting still has been hard to instill in such a young dog. After just a few hours of training the past couple of days, the patience has been forced into the young dog’s mind.

When the collar was first put on the pup, he didn’t seem to mind it. There are eight adjustable settings, each with various speeds and shock volumes. There are two beeps associated with the collar, the first one being a negative tone, which is followed by the shock, and then a positive tone, which is sent when the dog does what is expected of him. Boh first got shocked when he retrieved a bumper from a local pond and didn’t bring it right back to me, but wanted to stop 10 yards from me and play with it like a toy. The shock got his attention and listened to the ‘come’ command instantly, dropping the bumper right at my feet. The second time he had to be zapped was when he got excited and wanted to jump after it before I told him to. This time, the negative tone got his attention and he sat still before having to endure a shock as long as the last time. 

The main purpose of the shock collar is to not have to shock the animal. After just two days and maybe 6 hours of work, Boh realizes that when the collar is on, it is time to work. He now knows that when I put it on him, he is expected to perform and act like a mature retriever, especially when we are sitting in the blind. Once the collar comes off… it is back to being a playful puppy. Which is cool with me. 

Hopefully this Saturday’s hunt goes well. I know that my buddies are almost as excited as I am to have a dog in the blind with us. I just hope he does well, and I’m sure the help of the collar will make it more enjoyable for us, and help Boh learn his role in the hunting group a little bit faster.

Tis’ The Season

Who doesn’t love the fall? The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, the deer begin moving, and the rockfish begin biting. Not to mention you have to start preparing duck blinds and working your retrievers, because duck season is just around the corner. It’s almost too much to take on at once. I’m facing the dilemma of wanting to do too much, and not having the time to do a fraction of what I think is necessary. The last couple of weekends have been hectic in trying to get everything prepared (and paid for) in order to do what I want this fall.

Here in Southern Maryland I have 3 major priorities right now: be in the woods as often as possible during the beginning of the rut; be on the Patuxent River as often as I can trolling for 30″ + stripers, and get my Chesapeake Bay Retriever (Boh) and my duck blinds set up in time to drop ducks come November 17. Well, the bottom line is that all of that can’t be done at the same time. Every season has to take priority, and I still haven’t figured out what I want to put first. Lately it has been the bow hunting, but without any luck and 17 hours in the stand in the last three days I have found myself wishing I had invested the time more wisely.

I am a firm believer that it is better to be very good at one thing, than mediocre in multiple things. I think that is why I have a hard time making decisions when it comes to determining when and how to spend my free time outdoors. Why does it all have to get hot and heavy at this one time of year? Especially when you still have to work, start worrying about the holidays, and act like you still care about the bullshit that goes on outside of the woods you call home.

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