Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hunting Season: Snipe Island, 2016

So I made it back from hunting last week.  I have been able to think on things properly, and feel like I can put together a pretty good, although pretty long blog.  I had my computer up there, so I posted what happened to me the next day on Facebook.  So I will copy and paste what I originally posted, and then edit and expound on my thoughts. 

This year we didn't get to go on the quota hunt.  We all had things to do at that time.  So we had the week of Thanksgiving off, so my Dad (John L.) and our hunting buddy, John W. left on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  Due to attending school I left on Friday after class.

We didn't hunt at our usual place, Hickory Mound, which is 15 miles from the town of Perry, Fl.  We decided to hunt next door (to the west) at a place called Snipe Island.  Word had gotten around that the hunting was much better there.  It was also much easier to hunt that year, in that, they had not had rain for a while, and I could walk in my regular hiking boots there.  That made it nice as I have a nice broken in set of Columbia boots.

This is my post after hunting Saturday, Nov. 19th, 2016.  I wrote this on Sunday morning (Nov. 20th.) at 9:54 AM.

I wasn't able to post last night due to a series of strange happenings. First off, I shot a hog at 4:50 PM, but I just made it mad.  I didn't realize it at the time.  I thought I hit it, and wounded it.  I called Dad on the handheld CB, and it took him about ten minutes to make it over to me.  Although, a lot of that time was spent getting down from his tree-stand.

As I was in my tree-stand, I pointed Dad down the path to where I thought the hog was.  The path was about 40 yards from me, and brush blocked my view of where I thought the hog was.  Dad used his tracking skills that he hadn't used in years.  He ended up walking within 10 yard of it, and then.... IT FREAKIN' CHARGED HIM!!! No, I'm not making this up.

It was only 10 yards from him. Dad shot four times, and the hog turned tail. I saw it 150 yards away  running through the brush into the next county. Dad says he is okay. His pants need a good washing, but he's okay.  Again, I am not trying to pull an April Fools in November. A big 200 pound (most likely boar) hog tried to run over Dad.

And that's not the end of it. So we were waiting for our hunting partner John to come out of the woods. He comes out at his usual pitch black darkness time of night. But then he tells me that I saved his life.  I thought, "What?" 

Earlier in the day I showed him how to use his new personal GPS toy. Admittedly, he's still not quite up on electronics. But I plugged in the truck's location on his GPS, and showed him how to use it.
He was still kind of iffy on how to use it, but carried it with him anyways. When he decided to come out the woods, he took his compass out, and that's when he noticed it had come apart. In other words, no compass, and he's out there in the dark.  And this was the time of month where there was no moon.  It was, "you can't see your hand in front of you" kind of dark.

So he takes out his GPS, and he at least starts moving in the direction where the distance towards the truck is getting shorter. He ended up going through some dense woods, but he made it to the truck.  Once he got to the truck he thanked me many times.  I don't think he's ever done that.

So it got down to 29 degrees last night (from Friday night to Saturday morning,) and with it being a late night for all of us, we decided to sleep in this morning. There was no way I was going to be able to get Dad and John W. out of bed at 5 AM with it being 29 degrees out. So we decided to sleep in.

And you know what? I still woke up exactly at 5:00 AM. On the dot. Exactly. But I did manage to go back to sleep. Now I am up and about. We are going to go order breakfast at Poncey's Restaurant.
I told Dad that, "Only winners get breakfast," but he said we needed to eat so that we could go back out there, and bag something.

I'm still feeling a bit depressed. In my life I have shot 5 hogs. I recovered 3 of them. One was so big, I probably just torqued it off, and the other was this one. I hate wounding an animal, and having it run off like that, but it has happened to every hunter.

So I will get back out there this evening. I will say this. This place we are hunting this year, (Snipe Island,) is full of game. I saw a man take a hog out on a trailer it was so big.  It looked like it was part bear.  It was a true 300 pounder.  And another hunter, Zack, who is hunting the same area as us, managed to take out a 6 point buck. So there is a lot more game here than at Hickory Mound.

Okay, let me hunt down some breakfast. I'll be careful out there. Take care everyone.

I managed to get back to my computer that night, Saturday, Nov. 20th, 2016 at 9:35 PM.

I'm back at the camping trailer tonight. Today we slept in, and still ended up with a late start to the evening hunt. I did manage to see a bird of prey. It was bigger than a red shouldered hawk, but smaller than an osprey. It was diving through the trees so I didn't get a good look at it. I'm not sure what kind of bird it was.

Dad did see a few owls, and we both had squirrels acting.... well squirrely. They were throwing stuff all over the place including at palmettos.  And when the acorns hit the palmettos the sound would carry through the trees like crazy.

We will start out a bit later than we usually do in the morning. It could have something to do with it being 31 degrees in the morning, and not being able to drag the retired folk out of bed in that weather.
So we are planning to really put a lot of time in the woods tomorrow. I don't know when I will be able to check back in. So if you send me a message give me time to get back to you. Take care.

Here's my post from the evening of Monday Nov. 28th, 2016 at 9:56 PM.

Today was a weird day. Here's what happened.

I used some cardboard to check my gun's shot pattern. I have some older shells that didn't really pattern too well. That's strange since they are Remington shells, and my gun is a Remington 1100. It usually shoots Remington shells well. I shot some newer Remington shells, and they didn't pattern that well either.

The other thing was that they sounded underpowered.  I tried some Winchester shells I had, and they patterned the best of all of them. They also had more kick (power.) So I am using those Winchester shells for the rest of my hunt.

This leads me to think I just flat missed the hog. But I'm still not sure why it laid under the palmetto bush instead of running. I wonder if I hit it in a place where it stung it, but not hurt it.

We had a late start to the day due to being up late yesterday. As we were driving we had two does jump the road 300 yards away. Where we were driving through was still private property on each side of the road. We hadn't made it to the hunt area quite yet.

Nothing happened in the morning, and nothing happened in the evening. Dad and I planned to get out of our treestands at 5:30 PM. At 5:28 PM I heard all sorts of racket. I thought a turkey and a squirrel were going at it. I called Dad on the walkie-talkie, and as I was doing so, I saw an owl come out from where I had heard the noise.

It landed within 15 yards of me, but high up in a tree. It was amazing. I was talking to Dad when all of this happened. I told him to hang on while I got my camera. I managed to hoist my bag up, get my camera out, and power it up. However when I looked down to power it up, the owl flew somewhere else. I would have loved to have gotten film footage of it.

(Sidnote:  I found out later that the owl was a Great Horned Owl.  Their color patterns can vary from brown to grey.  This one had a lot of grey on it.   It was also very tall.  It was probably the bird of prey I saw the day before.  It looked a lot like this one.)

So Dad and I are making our way down the trail to get to the truck. The squirrels start making all sorts of racket. I hear the woods just come alive. It's now about 5:50 PM. I hear some rustling, and look over to see!!!!...... an armadillo. So we keep walking.

We are about 75 yards from the truck when I hear another loud crash and bang in the woods. It's so dark I can't really see anything. Whatever it is, is making a lot of noise. I almost wondered if it was another hunter it was making so much noise. I looked around for a hog, but couldn't see any movement.

I slipped my tree-stand off my back, and walked into the woods. Whatever it was stopped moving. I suspected it was another armadillo. I couldn't see anything by this point. It was 6:00 PM after all. So I made it back to the trail.

That's when I heard yet another crash. Dad saw it immediately. This time, to the right, was two giant birds ( I believe they were vultures) rising out of the treeline. What I think happened was that they had sat on a dead branch, and it broke, then fell onto a palmetto making a racket. The birds took off in flight. So we continued onto the truck.

We then drove down the road to pick up John W. We told him of our strange happenings, and he told us that not much had happened to him.

Once we made it to Highway 98, Dad started noticing deer on the road. I thought he was having fun with us, in that, I hadn't seen them. But then, I started seeing them. One after another after another. I think I had counted up to 15 deer (all does,) before I thought to get my camera out. Of course, then there were no more deer.

So we decided to eat at Poncey's Restaurant. It has amazing food, and that small town feel to it. I am still stuffed.

So I have one more day of hunting tomorrow. Let's see how it goes. I am wearing the pair of pants I hate the most in hopes that I get blood (not mine) all over them.
Take care, Adrian out.

My next post was on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016 after I had made it back home.  I wrote about what happened on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 2016. 

So here's the weirdness that was yesterday's hunting adventure. We got up late since I couldn't get the older men out of bed at a normal hunting hour. Also, it was just too cold for them. In all fairness it did go down to 29 degrees.

So nothing really happened during the morning hunt. We went to a new place in Snipe Island.
During the afternoon hunt, nothing happened.... until 5:10 PM. I heard a gunshot, and thought it was our hunting partner John W. shooting at something.

At 5:28 PM (2 minutes before we were supposed to get down from our treestands,) I hear all sorts of racket. I stand up, turn around in my treestand, and look over to see what's going through the woods. I could hear it, but not see it. I suspect it was yet another armadillo.

So we get down, and head to the truck. Just 50 yards from the truck, I hear a noise. I turn to my right, and it's a .... possum. Dad says I can't shoot it since it's my spirit animal. It runs down a hole, and we continue onto the truck.  Dad is correct about that. 

Dad and I were at the truck when two men walked up to the truck next to us. I immediately got a weird vibe from them. They never looked at us. They never said hi. One guy threw his loaded rifle in his truck, ripped off his orange, and jumped in. The other one did unload a shotgun, put it in the back, and jumped in the passenger side.

They then fired up the truck, and took off a little faster than people do when driving on a dirt road. I almost thought they peeled out. Either way, they got the hell out of there.

I asked Dad if he thought they were acting strange, and he said he thought they were creepy and acting very suspicious. Dad asked me if I remembered what kind of truck it was, what color it was, and what the license plate number was.

I got on the CB, and start asking if John W. was on the air. He was supposed to check in with us at 6:00 PM, and it was now past six.

I keep trying John on the CB, and am getting no reply. Dad and I decided to go down the trail (we had never been down,) and search for John. It was pitch back, and we had only our radios and flashlights looking for him.

We were worried that the gunshot was one the creepy guys killing John, and then getting the hell out of Dodge. Think about it. A single shot from John's direction. Two creepy guys acting creepy. And then John isn't on the radio.

At 6:30 PM, I see a light down the trail. Thankfully, it's John. I ask him why he wasn't on the radio, and he says that, "We didn't agree to do that today." Sidenote: John has the worst memory of anyone I've ever met.

I told him about what went on, and he completely dismissed my feelings and told me that I was jumping to conclusions. I got pretty pissed off. Even after I calmed down over an hour later, and explained everything again, he didn't get it. I got angry again.

I keep trying to explain that I was actually concerned for him, and he just doesn't get it. He can not see something from someone else's point of view. He never has.  So I'm kind of glad that hunting season is over. I think it went on long enough. Any more and we were just going to end up annoying each other the rest of trip.

Conclusion:  So, I've had a chance to think it over.  I know I'm a bit quick to anger and a bit quick to suspect bad things.  I wish John had seen things from my point of view, but I can't make him.  I wish we would have had more days to hunt, or at least be able to participate in the morning hunts more.  I really wish I would have killed that hog.  But that's why they call it hunting, and not getting. 

After looking at shot patters of shotguns on the internet I think I am going to have to use a rifle out hunting.  In fact, I am talking to the local gun store about trading in for a Ruger RAR in a .308.  It's a no-frills workhorse with a synthetic stock.  I can knock it around in the woods and get it dirty. 

One thing that we did that we hadn't done before was get a group picture.  Since one of us had to hold the camera we never took a picture with all three of us.  So this time we had the check station manager take a picture of the three of us.  I'll leave this post with this.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hunting Season: Time To Paint The Treestand

Every year hunting season sneaks up on us.  In fact, this year we aren't even going on the quota hunt.  Since everyone's schedule opens up during Thanksgiving, we decided to go for a few days then. 

But every year it's a rush.  Oh goodness, we need to check the tires on the trailer for dry rot!  Oh no, we haven't practiced shooting a gun in two years.  Oh, where are all the cooking items, coolers, maps, licenses, etc.

I did happen to remember one thing I needed to do.  I needed to paint my treestand.  I've had it for a while, and it's gotten chipped and dinged up over the years.  I just don't want the places that have been chipped to reflect sunlight.  That would definitely give away my position. 

I've found that the most important thing about painting treestands is breaking up the pattern.  You could use the classic black, brown and green colors, but if the pattern isn't broken up, you are going to stand out. 

As far as color, I try to paint my stand in a mud and leaf type color.  I put my tree up in various types of trees; oaks, pines, palms, and maples.  All of them are a little different in color.  So I aim for a background of black and green, and then break it up with lighter colors. 

Here are the after photos.  If the paint looks glossy, it's because it is still wet. 

The piece on the left is where my feet go.  The piece on the right is where I sit. 

It's a little muddy in color.  I also tried to get it close in color to a pine tree.

Here you can see the backpack straps.  That's one nice thing about this treestand.  It folds up, and I can carry it on my back.  I actually used some orange to make it look like I have moss and lichens growing on my treestand. 

This piece has a lot of padding on it, so there wasn't much to paint.  I mainly did touch up on metal that was dinged. 

I know it's hard to tell, but the part of this piece of the treestand is where I put my feet.  Namely, the part that is facing the camera.  Since this side wouldn't be seen by anything, I didn't get too creative with it.  I just made sure the dings were covered, and broke up the pattern.

The base of this part is where it grabs the tree  (toward the bottom of the picture.)  So the paint gets roughed up the most around there.  So, I had to touch up a lot of bare metal there. 

I'll let this dry overnight, and see what I think of it tomorrow.  That's the good thing with paint.  If I don't like the job I did, I can just go over it with more paint.  However, I feel pretty good about the work I performed.  I think it's going to be just fine. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

One Hump Or Two?

My name is Adrian, and I come from a long line of smartasses.  It's true.  I don't often crack jokes or insult someone, but when I do I get my money's worth.  I also kind of got in trouble at school for a slightly racist joke/insult/comment.  Let me start at the beginning.

In my HVAC class is a man named Ahmed.  He is from Jordan, and speaks with an Jordanian accent.  He also smokes very strong Marlboro Reds.  I have occasionally commented about not being downwind of him when we are outside because his cigarettes are so much stronger than other brands. 

Something else I want I to make sure is known, is that, our class consists of 15 men of various ages.  And like a lot of blue collar, as well as young guys, we constantly rip and insult each other.  Honestly, male humans never outgrow this stage.  Pretty much anything and everything is fair game. 

I mean, even our instructor kids Ahmed about being the "old man" in class, demands to see his AARP card, and rips Ahmed about his balding hair.  Ahmed was in the other HVAC class until he got sick.  So he transferred to ours so he would have enough credit hours to graduate.  Now, he has kidded around with everyone, in both classes, about anything and everything.  I want to make sure this is known so that, when I tell what happened it adds history and context. 

On Wednesday it was near the end of the day, and all but about four guys had wandered off.  Our instructor, Raul, asked where Ahmed was.  Since I am full of pop culture goodness, I said, "Smokin!!!" in the style of Jim Carrey from the movie, "The Mask." 

Now, I know the movie, "The Mask."  Everyone knows the movie, "The Mask."  However, Ahmed is from Jordan.  He doesn't know that I am referencing the movie, "The Mask."  He happened to be around the corner, and thought I was making fun of him. 

So he says, and might I say, in a strong Jordanian/Arabic accent, "My name is Adrian, all's I do is talk guitars, music, and entertainment." 

So I kid with him, and he kids with me.  Is it a day that ends in the letter "Y?"  Yeah, it's par for the course. 

I reply, "Well, I could talk about the fine art of making love to a camel, but I don't know anything about that."

That's when Ahmed lost his shit.  And might I say, his accent only got stronger as he got madder.  He started yelling, "Fuck, fuck, fuck this guy!  Fuck this guy!  Talking about making love to a camel!  Fuck this guy!" 

Now my co-students Gabriel and Fabian started laughing hysterically.  Not so much as what I said, but because of Ahmed's reaction to me.  Ahmed complained to Daniel, and Daniel said, "Oh yeah, Adrian went too far."  Which only made Gabriel and Fabian laugh harder.

Our Instructor, Raul, said, "Yeah, let's not go there."  He was trying to calm the situation down.  I can't blame him.  I know I had pushed some buttons.  So I lay off, and keep my mouth shut.

Ahmed starts telling Daniel that, "He (Ahmed) was balding, but at least he didn't have a stupid thing sticking out of the back of his head."  He was making fun of my hair in a ponytail.  I let it go.

So the day ends, and I let go home with no further incidents.  The next day I arrived to school early, and saw Ahmed on the benches outside.  I walked up to him, and told him I apologized for what I said yesterday.  He told me, "Save your breath.  I don't want to hear it."  I tried to say I was only trying to joke with him, but he then actually walked away from me. 

So I figured he wanted some space, so I gave him some.  I did mention to our Instructor about what happened, and that he probably shouldn't put us together in a study group any time in the near future. 

So it does make it a bit awkward at school.  I just ignore him mostly.  The funny thing is, I never got to ask him one question. 

Does he prefer his camels with one hump?

or two?