Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spring of 2010

Your average high school sophomore girl would spend spring break at the beach trying to get a tan, or at the mall shopping for swim suits, maybe on the phone and painting her nails. Well, I was not your average high school sophomore girl. I love the beach and have spent spring break there, but I can get just as good of a tan while fishing. Which is mostly what I did, plus some mudriding, turkey hunting, and horseback riding.
I made a mudhole at the beginning of the year by running the hose in my backyard and cutting donuts with my racing fourwheeler. My mom loved it..HA not! Looking back I don't know how they allowed me to keep my mudhole for months, but I'm grateful that they did because it was fabulous.
I went turkey hunting for the first time with my dad and our friend Tony Vidrine (wildlife biologist & expert turkey caller). We were out all day with him, taking naps against trees, moving decoys around, listening to turkeys, and just having a good time. I tell you what though, those birds are very smart, especially the big fat ones. They gobbled around us in circles, but never came in sight.
I also went to the camp in St. Francisville with Kelsie for a hog hunt, which turned into more fourwheeler riding, some fishing & tanning, and shooting the .22.
Oh and then I did some mudriding with Stacey, followed by riding her horses. But not just riding them around the pasture, we also rode/swam them through the pond, which was so much fun--even when we fell off!
Hallie and I went mudriding too, in Sherburne WMA (wildlife management area). Where we got stuck and un-stuck more than a few times. We went through high water, and rode along the Achafalaya. We saw a couple snakes and a lot of alligators, but we weren't scared of a single thing.
My family & I made a short trip to a friend's farm in Alabama, where you will never guess what I did. Okay so you probably did guess it...I rode fourwheelers, drove a big Dodge Ram turbodiesel around, caught some nice 'bama bass, and shot a lot of big, automatic weapons. This is when I broke my fishing pole. I had a big bass on the line and he tried to swim under the dock, so I put my hand out on the pole--big mistake. It snapped, but I still got the fish so its okay!! I then got my ugly stik and open-faced Shakespeare/Shimano that I also love.
This is what my Spring looked like:
This would be my dad, with a camo mask on, watching hunting videos, and practicing turkey calls.

my backyard mudhole

My Honda 250ex racing four-wheeler
a good ride with an old friend

Kelsie & I

Hallie & I at Sherburne

Dad is 6' tall, just to give you an idea of how big this thing was.

Logan looking like he has a dip in haha

Stacey & I bareback

swimming T.C.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Getting into Archery

The first time I ever shot a bow was summer of 2007 or 2008, it was a youth recurve bow at Kanakuk camp in Missouri. Kanakuk is a christian athletic & outdoors camp for kids/teens. Rachel and Tim both worked there as counselors when they were in college. They sent me two years in a row to Kanakuk's "k-seven." I did a lot of things for the first time here, like sail a sailboat for instance.
After I showed an interest in archery, Tim gave me an old compound bow that he used to hunt with when he was a boy. It was set for about 25 pounds and had one pin on the sight, set at 20 yards. I practiced and practiced until I started shooting groups of arrows that touched each other. I hunted with it, and watched the same doe with her babies in a pine thicket in Simsboro, LA each time. I never tried to shoot her, I just enjoyed seeing her and the babies. When gun season came, I didn't practice as much or bow-hunt much.
The summer of 2010 my dad dropped me off at the Taylor's house for a pool party and he went to Bass Pro Shop's member night. He called me about 2 hours later very excited, he won a compound bow! Sadly, he cannot shoot a compound bow because of his he got the bow for me. It was a Redhead Kronik, made by Diamond. We had the draw length adjusted for me and I started shooting 35 pounds. I had 3 pins on this sight, with a light. I hunted with this bow for about a year before I got a deer with it. This is when I started to learn more a little bit more about deer behavior. It was such a challenge to get that close to the deer, or to get them to come that close to you (within 30 yards). I loved it! It is a totally different experience to hear the deer walking up and sometimes smelling you, they stare you down, and it makes your heart race a thousand miles an hour it feels like! You have to take extra precautions, such as camo face paint or mask, scent-prevent wash your clothes, body, and hair, then spray yourself down with scent-prevent spray. This is because the deer have great noses and you will be very close to them. You have to sit in a different type of stand, like a ground blind, ladder stand, or climbing stand.
Soon I will share the story of my first bow kill!
Kanakuk archery...&no, that is not my stance.

The Kronik

I hardly ever wear make-up, but when I do its almost always CAMO.

Dove Hunt

My first ever dove hunt. With me I took a Ducks Unlimited engraved Whistler Mossberg 20 gauge pump shotgun. My dad's friend, Mr. Sonny had loaned it to us a while back. Mr. Sonny "bought it for his daughter" (before she was even born) and it had never been shot. When I went to load my gun, I realized this. We had to take the plug out, cut it, and put it back in. I thought it was very cool that I was the first person to shoot this beautiful gun. Too bad I could hardly hit a dove with it. I still had fun and ended up going again when I got back home--just down the road from my house actually. I got a little better thanks to Tim reminding me a few good times how to lead the birds' flight path. I also learned how to distinguish doves from other birds by the way they fly. When we were done hunting, the doves were surprisingly easy to clean. They are also very tasty.
Left to Right: Alex, Jonathan, West, Me

big bro Tim

Running Dogs on Christmas Eve 2009

It was my freshmen year in highschool and my family & I were headed up to Simsboro (a little town in north Louisiana just outside of Ruston) to visit and hunt. I loved this place so much and decided that I had to bring one of my best friends, Hallie, with me. I had big plans made for us to go late night mudriding, deer hunting (still & running dogs), and coonhunting. She had never run dogs before or coon hunted. I was also pretty excited because I killed my big buck on Halloween that year and decided that holidays must be lucky!
The way we run dogs in Simsboro is not the same way that most people do. We all pile up into 4 wheel drive trucks (mostly old toyota tacomas on super swampers, with KC lights) with CB radios. We let the dogs (beagles) loose on one of our large properties, and listen carefully to what they tell us by the pitch and length of their barks/howls. My favorite dogs were Billy Bob and Troublecat, rest in peace babies--they lived a long happy life and ran many a deer up. We communicate with each other on the radios, so we can know where each person is or is headed at all times. Most people use shotguns, I personally used my brand new model 700 Remington .308 rifle (an early Christmas present and reward for killing my first deer) during this hunt & Hallie used Tim's .270. When we can tell that the dogs are on a deer's trail, we drive (off road) in the direction that they are headed and get a good lil ways ahead of them. Sometimes the deer are way ahead of the dogs or will slip through when they hear the dogs.
At one point we were on Clark Cantebury's family land, where they have some chicken houses. Tim, Hallie, and I were standing on a pipeline and a red/gray fox popped out and started toward the chicken houses. "Shoot it!" Tim said. So I instantly dropped to one knee, threw up my gun and shot. Just so you know, it was & is currently illegal to hunt foxes in Louisiana, however it is legal to kill them if they are consider a nuisance. In this case we were not hunting fox, we were hunting deer, and the fox was a nuisance in this area. I respect all animals, and I do not condone killing them just for the heck of it, I want to make that very clear! Rachel, my sister, actually had a pet fox (she had a special license for it) that we kept and eventually released. I miss that cuddly thing but he was still a wild animal, not meant to be a pet. Anyway, I really wanted to mount this fox I shot because it was so beautiful, but it was shot with my .308 when it probably should have been shot with a little bit smaller round. So I settled for keeping the pelt and still have it today.
Later, we rode around another property (the Durretts' maybe) and Tim, Hallie, and I stopped at a well sight. Hallie and Tim climbed the well tower as we could hear the dogs in the distance getting closer. I spotted a doe through the trees and tried to point her out, "Shoot her Hallie!" Neither her or Tim could see her, but I could still tell exactly where she was. It is a bit difficult to shoot a deer on the run, with a rifle, especially when you're shooting through branches and brush. I shot, BANG..BANG..BANG, chambering rounds as fast as I could. I'm not sure if I hit her on the first, second, or third shot, but I hit her and she went down! Tim taught me how to field dress a deer that day, which is gutting it without skinning it, it is quick and easy (just don't pop the stomach open by accident!) and makes it easier to get up into the bed of a truck. The deer weighed about 120-130 pounds. This was my second deer ever, first doe ever, and first deer with my new gun. I killed my first deer/buck on Halloween, and my second deer on Christmas Eve Day, so far my holiday luck theory had proven true.
Hallie & I made some great memories that Christmas break. We got stuck in a lot of mud riding fourwheelers, she shot her first coon, and we made jokes sitting in the deer stand. On one of our last days we hunted a huge field on the Atkins' (Tim's parents) family's property. It wasn't too long after we climbed into the black box stand that Hallie fell asleep...I'm talkin' head back, mouth open, best-sleep-you'll-ever-get. It is also believed by some hunters, that sleeping will bring the deer out if you're lucky, and you will wake up to see them standing there...just ask my dad about that one! I had a pretty good feeling about that morning and since I already got my deer, I wanted to make sure my BFF had another opportunity to get one. I watched the far edge of the woods (about 350 yards away) for any sign of movement. As soon as he finally poked his head out of the woods, I woke Hallie up, "It's a spike, you can go ahead and shoot him." He was walking about 250-300 yards out in front of us when he turned broadside and she took her shot. Tim and his dad came out with Buster, a walker hound, to help look for the deer. We looked everywhere, no sign of blood, no bullet, nothing, and Buster didn't find him either--he was the one that got away. Even the best of us miss from time to time, it just makes it that much more addicting.

"Grandpa said Nothin's Closer to God than a Girl with a Fishing Rod"

Growing up, my dad has always told me stories of his grandfather, "Pop" Griffith. I never got the chance to meet him, but I know he was a great man and every time I go fishing I feel that Pop is with me. There are a few stories I remember my dad telling me on multiple occasions and I would ask to hear them again and again. The one I remember most is "The One That Got Away." One day Pop was fishing out in boat, doing what he loved. He got a fish on the line that put up a big fight and he was having some trouble, but Pop didn't give up, he fought back. He reeled and reeled, until finally the fish was in the boat. The fight was done. The fish did not get away, but Pop did, and he wouldn't have wanted to go any other way. My dad has many memories of Pop taking him fishing, and I know my dad looked up to Pop. He even became a preacher just like Pop was.
I started fishing with my dad when I was very young, probably 5 or 6 years old. He taught me everything, what snacks to bring, what bait to use, how to bait the hook, weight the line, and put the cork on. He taught me how to find worms in the backyard. He taught me how to tightline for catfish and how to set yo-yo's. He taught me how to cast a line, set the hook just right, and adjust the drag. Eventually, I learned that you don't have to re-cast every 45 seconds (in most cases), and that it is okay when the fish gets away. Most importantly I learned why they call it "fishing" and not "catching"
My earliest fishing memories were at Mr. Sam's ponds in Ponchatoula, LA and at Mr. Chronister's lake house in Arkansas. We used to go out to Mr. Sam's ponds and catch mostly catfish, my favorite. I remember feeding the fish, too. One day, I was nearly traumatized when I caught a turtle...I was so excited, I thought this was good. Then Mr. Sam just cut his head off without saying a word. I didn't know that this was the only way to get a turtle off of your hook. I started out fishing with a Zebco 33, just like my dad did when he was younger--except mine was lime green and orange. When we went to the lake house I would wake up as soon as the light hit my window, run downstairs, grab my pole, and go sit by my dad at the end of the dock. He had been there with his cup of coffee for probably an hour already, with a couple fish in the bucket. I remember hating the crickets because it was easier to hook myself--which was rough for a little girl like me the first few times. We would sit there and watch big Shoepick, or Buffalo Fish (not usually what ya wanna catch) come up to our bait, and my dad would dip the tip of his pole into the water to spook them off. We caught a couple small alligator gars, and I was a little bit of a scaredy cat once they came out of the water. The biggest catfish I have ever seen was one day out on that dock. I never felt something so heavy on the other end of a pole. I was struggling to reel it in and kept yelling "Get the net Daddy, he's gonna get away, help!!" But Dad insisted, "Keep reeling bud', you almost got 'em!" I finally saw the mouth come up out of the water and it was probably as wide as my body was at the time. One more crank...and snap, he was gone. My line broke and I was more than bummed, I'm pretty sure I cried and went inside. 10 minutes later I was back outside and Dad had my line fixed. That night we went to the nearest Bass Pro Shop (a tradition on vacations--we have been to almost all of them) and I got a new big girl fishing pole. This one was red, and we put spiderwire braided line on it, so I could get that one that got away (the simple 8lb-test-line I had before did not impress me). This pole eventually broke on another trip to Alabama, where I went to Bass Pro and bought an Ugly Stik (I recommend you get one if you don't have one), but that is another story that I will save for another post. Oh by the way, I now own enough fishing poles to open my own Bass Pro pretty much--including a hot pink "Broad Rod" that I won in a photo contest.
Another favorite fishing spot of mine is Pin Oak Mallards Duck Club in Rayville (north Louisiana), I recall comparing a summer out there to a summer at Disney World. I have never been duck hunting there (I know the Duck Commander crew goes sometimes), but I have caught some fish at that place, can I tell you!! Summer of 2007 or 2008 was my first time out at the Pin Oak Lodge. I had a blast riding around on the several fourwheelers on the trails and in the mud, Jeep, the golden retriever would either ride with me or run next to me the whole time. When it came time to fish on the big man-made body of water, I was ready. I had never really been bass fishing and was dying to catch some bass. Mr. Billy McConnel took us out on a little bass boat, and taught me the just of it. Some people never catch on, but I did, literally. About 10 minutes into that morning's trip, I was out-fishing Mr. Billy, a master bass fisherman, and my dad too. Cast after cast I was reeling them in. We had a few doubles (2 people have a fish on at the same time) and even a triple that day! And of course, I caught the biggest fish. We caught over 20 bass that morning, about a dozen keepers, at least 10 of which I caught. We didn't catch quite that many in the afternoon, but we still caught a lot! I was definitely "hooked" to say the least. That night we had a very delicious fish fry. Thank you Mr. Billy for teaching me how to catch some good Louisiana bass! Fishing is definitely in my blood!
Left to Right: Dad, his dad, Robert AKA Gramps, and lil bro, Russel AKA Uncle Rusty "New Years 1992. Lake Ponchartrain launched south of Ponchatoula. We had a box full in 2 hours. Hooking them in pairs and even scooping some that spit the shrimp baited hook using a long handled net. Lots of Yee Haws that day!"

Lake House--dock in background
Pin Oak

Baby Logan, my nephew

my 1st string of bass!
mama cat
mostly caught on yo-yo/trotline at night
Throwin' back the lil ones!

catch of the day!

notice: I am not using the pliers, woohoo!

Ginger supervising me.

trying to catch the lil gator with a frog

riding with Jeep!

shooting skeet w/ my concentration face on