First time out this year.


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1911 guy
November 11, 2011, 09:03 AM
Well, tomorrow is going to be my first time out actually hunting this year. I've gone out and wandered around a couple times so far, but not actually hunted.

I'm not usually one to miss the squirrel and pheasant opening weekends, but things have been crazy having just bought this house.

That's about to change in a big way. Fellow forumite Cousin Mike was looking for a mentor and I was looking for an excuse to make a day of it in the woods. He's driving up from Columbus and we're going to hit the Grand River Wildlife Area tomorrow at first light for squirrel, rabbit and pheasant.

Hopefully we'll be able to get some mentoring in about cooking, not just looking for stuff!!

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Cousin Mike
November 11, 2011, 03:17 PM
^ Sounds like a plan! It's hard to express how excited and grateful I am for this opportunity.

A little about me: I'm in my early 30's, grew up in the city, and don't have any relatives or close friends that hunt. I've been shooting for about 10 years, and a member here for several. I was always interested in hunting, but didn't know where to begin. Thankfully, 1911 guy was nice enough to answer my post in the hunting mentor forum and offered to take me out and show me the ropes.

I've been out a few times on my own since acquiring my hunting license earlier this year. I had read around this forum and others about the basics of squirrel hunting, and I had initial expectations of marching into the woods, and coming home with a sack full of squirrels for dinner. Reality, however, has been quite humbling. :D

So I'm off to listen, learn, and keep my eyes sharp and my mouth shut - and hopefully be as good a student as I've ever been. I consider myself quite lucky to have found a willing mentor. I just hope I can retain a fraction of what I am about to learn - this man is a small game encyclopedia! :)

Wish us luck!

glock36
November 11, 2011, 06:06 PM
Good luck and God speed to the both of you. Keep us up to speed on your success

cottswald
November 11, 2011, 06:22 PM
Mike, the little that I know about 1911 from the forum, tells me you're gonna be in good hands, and it sounds like you've got the right attitude.
Never been to that part of the state. Would be great if you guys could share a few photos (win, lose, or draw).

Good Luck, and Good Hunting!

Reality, however, has been quite humbling. :D

Fortunately, that part never changes! :)

1911 guy
November 13, 2011, 06:01 AM
Is that Mike made it home alright. I know when I got home last night, I was extremely tired. He had a three hour drive ahead of him.

So here's the deal, from my perspective anyway.

Mike showed up, as planned, Friday night. We had dinner, visited some and went over the basics of how to read a map and compass. The area we were to hunt is 7,400 some acres and pretty easy to get turned around in if you're not careful.

Got up in the morning (Mike woke to a cold nose on his nose. Labs. What can you do?), had breakfast and headed out. The place I'd picked to go first has a stand of hickories about a half mile in. Got there and a bowhunter was headed back there. We went to the next place on my list to not blow deer hunting with squirrel hunting. All within Grand River Wildlife Area.

So the day began with pushing open fields for pheasants and rabbits. Saw lots of pheasants, but they were either flushing WAY ahead of us or in someone elses' bag already. Got past the fields and into the woods.

got into the woods and headed toward a gas pipeline about 3/4 mile inside that curves 2 1/2 miles to the N/E.

Hunted the woods near the pipeline fore a while, some creeping along, some sitting and watching. A few hours into our hunt, we decided to make our way back to the car and go to another spot.

At the parking lot, a fellow walked up to us and asked if we wanted a rabbit. So then I showed Mike how to skin and gut a rabbit. Showed him the different organs, he got the urge to poke a few. Said it was the freshest looking liver he'd ever seen!

Right about this time we looked at each other and remembered the sandwiches I forgot to make while I was making pancakes. One demerit for the mentor.

Our next spot wore us out. By this time it was 2:00 in the afternoon, so it wasn't surprising there was little activity, but we saw lots of evidence. Made a mental note of the place and walked around the edges and bumped into a pheasant. Of course, I was carrying a .22 now since we were going after squirrels, right? Tried to get a 50 yard offhand shot into him while he ran across an opening (I'm talking about shooting at the bird, not Mike) Saw water splash, no feathers. Mr. Pheasant kept right on going.

Switched back to shotguns since we could use them for both pheasant and squirrel, pushed a few more fields while waiting for the last hour of light in the woods to sit down at our squirrel spot we'd noted.

Got to our squirrel spot about 45 minutes before dark and saw several hunter orange coats already there. Dang.

By the time we called it a day, we'd spent about 10 hours in the woods and fields. I talked a lot, either Mike learned a lot or is just being polite and saying so. In my opinion, we hit it off really well.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day and hope Mike did too. I'd like to think that I gave him enough tools to use that he can go back to his home woods and start making those squirrel pot pies he kept talking about!

Cousin Mike
November 13, 2011, 05:38 PM
I had an absolute blast, and even that is an understatement. Most of what I learned is just starting to sort itself out in my head… if that makes any sense to anyone else. I haven’t learned this much in a single day – well, perhaps ever. :D

I would start with my arrival, but that was actually my first challenge… getting there. I had set out a half an hour early incase I got turned around. That ended up being a good idea. Eventually, thanks to my better half and Google maps, I ended up finding my way and was able to arrive pretty close to on time. I was treated to a most wonderful dinner (please tell Mrs. 1911 thanks again!), great company and conversation, and was even introduced to black powder guns (who knew how cool those things were?!)! Then we got down to business.

Map reading with a compass, basic supplies, emergency supplies, our hunting plan, our backup plan, etc. Due to me being somewhat of a doofus re: compass reading, I probably kept us up longer than we should have been. 1911 guy (I’ll use his handle to respect his privacy) was very patient with me, and made sure I understood all of this very thoroughly before we retired for the evening. They put me up in front of the fireplace for the night (sleeping in front of a fire = too awesome for words – I don’t get to do this stuff at home! :D), and after setting my alarm for 5:15 AM, I sent a few texts to my family and faded off to sleep.

5:13 AM – Cold, wet… and it’s on my face! “Whoa! Hey, puppy!” – as someone who has loved dogs my whole life, and isn’t privileged to have one at the moment – that brought big smiles! Don’t think 1911_guy believed me on that one. :D I got dressed, was treated to an amazing breakfast (and a recipe secret for -quite possibly- the best homemade pancakes I’ve ever had) and we hit the road, and quickly found a good spot.

Busting the brush for rabbits and pheasant was quite an experience. I had always been a little reserved about going into the thick brush land at my home woods, but I also never knew what kind of critters call that stuff ‘home’. This trip took care of that. Every thing we did, 1911_guy made sure he explained in great detail exactly what we were doing and why. I found this really helpful, and listening to his tips on the game we were looking for, their habits, habitats, food sources – ways to hunt them, locate and ID them, looking for tracks, sign – and the infinite other things I learned - all of this was the most valuable part of the hunt for me. Seeing pheasants for the first time was the icing on the cake.

The squirrel hunting area he chose was absolutely beautiful. The woods at our chosen ground are VERY thick. 1911 guy explained to me the growth cycles of the land we were hunting, where we were most likely to find what we were looking for, and we made a plan for how to get there. This once again stressed the importance of proper compass reading, and 1911 guy chose this time in our hunt to quiz me, and make sure that the previous nights lessons on compass reading stuck… I’m happy to report that I did alright, and was able to keep my bearings and stay on track, even though we had gone nearly a mile into the woods.

The rabbit… that was something! :D I’m glad someone was so lucky in their pheasant hunt that they were able to gift us a bunny. I expected to be grossed out a little, reading some of the posts and whatnot on field dressing over the years… I just ended up being fascinated by the entire process. Identifiying the organs, seeing where things were located, how the critter was put together – all of this was very scientific and fascinating for me. I saved the heart and let the rest of it go, but that liver looked delicious. Thing is, I have never met a liver I liked! I’ve read that liver and onions is a traditional hunter’s dish – camp fare. Perhaps when I get one for myself, I’ll give it a try. Very different experience, holding the warm organs of an animal that had just expired – compared to the cold giblets carelessly re-stuffed into the semi-frozen chicken carcasses you buy at the grocery store. Small, subtle moments like these drove those points home in a way I frankly didn’t expect.

After putting our fresh rabbit into a plastic bag and into the cooler, snacking on some almond bars and guzzling a few cold liters of water, we headed off to our next spot. Little did I know the treat I was in for. Marching through a patch of brush, I quickly ended up in swamp that came just above my boots, underneath a patch of brush that in some places grew over 7’ high. I had on 17” rubber boots, tightened up to the max – and they were still being nearly sucked off by the mud with every other step. I got a quick laugh, thinking of H&Hhunter’s mountain hunt bailout (and how he’d probably be laughing his butt off if he could have seen me struggling with a task that paled by comparison) – I quickly tired of having to raise my knees to my neck with every step. I then started to develop a HORRIBLE cramp in my left thigh… and then in my right. I tried everything I could to ease it up – but it just got worse and worse. Somehow, I made it back out another couple dozen yards to the trail, where I had to just lay on my back for several minutes until the cramps subsided. Nothing else, no other position or technique brought relief. Premature efforts to regain my footing simply ended in the prompt return of aforementioned cramps. How embarrassing. 1911 guy later remarked that he thought someone might come along and field dress me had I laid there much longer.

Then there’s God’s favorite pheasant. Of course, when we were tracking them, we couldn’t find one. Now that we’ve brought out the .22’s, Mr. Bird pops up right in front of us, on the trail! If we’d had our shotguns, someone would be having a pheasant dinner tonight. Had my sight on his head to take the shot anyway, but he was just too quick. We tried to find him in the woods where he took off, but was unsuccessful.

After going back to retrieve our shotguns, and busting up another brush area looking for our evasive pheasant friend – we found him again, about 100 yards up the trail! The distance was too great and I wasn’t comfortable taking a shot… in fact, I was all but certain that hitting him would have been pretty much impossible from where I was. I declined the shot and ran closer, hoping to close just a few dozen yards of distance undetected, and rush a shot. I’m sure you can all guess how that worked out. Mr. Pheasant noticed this immediately, and kept distance before taking a sharp 90 degrees into the woods. Attempts to flush him were unsuccessful, so we headed back to our now occupied squirrel spot… another beautiful wooded area that looked VERY promising (cut nuts and nests everywhere!)… maybe another day!

I don’t think I could describe this day. Even as I look at the length of this post, there’s so much I left out that I could easily write another twice as long. I told 1911 guy that I truly cannot remember having more fun, and I tried to thank him fittingly, but there’s no way to do that. What he shared with me gives me the foundation to learn and improve – to teach my 4 year old son when his time comes to get out there (he’s already asking to go hunting with me), gives me a new confidence that I think I had lost in my “unsuccessful” adventures earlier this season. It gave me a perspective that I may have lost in the pursuit of “success” – or perhaps that I’d never had to begin with. Whether I went home with a cooler full of meat or nothing at all, it didn’t matter. I had an amazing day – ALL DAY, sun up to sundown outdoors, learning with someone I got along with really well. I feel like I made a friend as well as meeting a mentor. I told 1911 guy that if he’d ever like to have me back again I’d be honored to come anytime – and that whenever he is in my part of the state, I’d love for him to come through and allow me to return the hospitality, let the families meet, and let the kids play together. Or we could hunt my home woods anytime! Seems we had too much fun and got along too well to only do this once… he was truly a class act, a great host - and he even gave me the rabbit! :D

With this experience in my rearview (and guzzling a few Starbucks Doubleshots just for good measure), I didn’t even notice I was tired. My mind raced until I got home, and was still so excited about the day that when my girlfriend asked about my trip, I talked about it for another three hours. And as I close this out, I thought I’d add that in the 2 other windows I have open on my PC right now – one is the Wikipedia page on Magnetic Declination… the other is wild rabbit recipes. :D

WNC Seabee
November 13, 2011, 05:59 PM
Great stories!

cottswald
November 13, 2011, 07:20 PM
Sounds like a great experience fellas. If it was anything like SE Ohio, there was a lot of wind to contend with today. As you probably know, squirrels in particular get mighty skittish on windy days. Can make for some slim pickens.

1911 sounds like an exceptional hunting mentor. Look forward to hearing more from both of you in the future.

1911 guy
November 14, 2011, 08:56 AM
First, the "secret" for the pancakes. Substitute seltzer water for 1/4 of your milk. Doesn't seem to make any difference... until you flip the cakes over and watch them rise like nobodies business.

Secondly, the hardest I laughed was on the way home. Mike was explaining that a few of his family members were somewhat concerned about him going off and spending the weekend with someone he'd never met before. He apparently told them "Look, it's not like I'm a CraigsList hooker". My warped sense of humor kicked in and I said "You're not? But I gave you dinner!" Mike was nearly doubled over laughing, so he didn't notice me almost drive off the road laughing.

It was pretty windy, which I'm sure contributed to the lack of squirrels. All things considered, it was a good day. I had a good time just being outdoors, had a willing and able "student" and like Mike, think I made a friend as well as meeting a fellow forum member.

By the way, my wife said "That guy is a hoot". Don't think she'd mind at all if you stopped up this way again.

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