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PROIS HOLIDAY SALE!! Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday…Prois is offering great deals the entire month!

PROIS HUNTING APPAREL HOLIDAY SALE!

PROIS HUNTING APPAREL HOLIDAY SALE!

If you are like us, you avoid the mall madness and insanity of the shopping season at all costs.  In the spirit of keeping your shopping season relaxed and pressure-free, Prois is offering great deals on selected items throughout the month of December.   Turas, Competitor, Sherpa, Pro-Edition and Prois Logowear is now available and holiday-friendly prices!  Check us out at www.proishunting.com!

Still shopping for the female hunter in your family!?  Look no further…

Prois Hunting Apparel Caption Contest – December 2010

We’ve chosen this month’s photo in the spirit of Christmas!  Jump in and take part in the fun!  Prois Hunting Apparel for Women is sponsoring a monthly photo caption contest which will be posted here, on the Prois Community Blog. 

How do you participate?  Simply supply a unique caption to go with our posted photo in the “comment” section listed below. 

Why should you participate?  Well, for starters…it’s fun!  BUT- the winner that is chosen by the Prois staff will become the proud new owner of a Real Women T-Shirt in Black, Grey, Brown, or White.  What are you waiting for!?  Give us YOUR caption!

Falconry Files – Success!

As many of you already know I trapped a beautiful immature red-tail this past weekend.  The day we trapped my new red-tailed hawk we arrived in  Montrose Colorado right around first light and started driving around looking for red-tails.  Armed with my homemade Bal-Chatri (AKA BC) trap, two young rats, and a good pair of binoculars, I was ready to go.  A Bal-Chatri trap is essentially a weighted down wire cage with nooses all along the outside.  You place your bait animal inside the trap and the hawks feet become entangled in the nooses when it lands on the trap.  Because the trap is weighted down the hawk is unable to fly away.  At that point you run up and grab the hawk, preferably without getting footed or bitten.  Trapping is by far one of the most exciting things I have ever done.  I love it!  It is also a good way to draw attention and suspicion.  Picture this, you see some strange person sitting out front your house in their vehicle with binoculars, someone tossing strange objects from a slowly moving vehicle, picking up strange objects from the side of the road, and handling distressed looking birds of prey.  You would probably be concerned or suspicious and I would not fault you for that.  I have been pulled over twice trapping, followed once, and had people stop and question me several times.  My first falconry sponsor was kind of a jerk and refused to tell one person what we were up to while we were out trapping together.  That was the person who tailed us and also reported us to the police which led to me being pulled over.  I am a firm believer in talking to people.  Before I knew about falconry I would have been concerned if I had witnessed this activity too.  On a side note trapping birds of prey without the proper permitting is highly illegal.  Please do not attempt this without a falconry license.  Please visit http://www.n-a-f-a.com/AboutFalconry.htm for more information on falconry and how to become a falconer.  Falconry is the most regulated form of hunting and requires an extensive time commitment.  Many falconers refer to falconry as a lifestyle a rather than a hobby for this reason. 

My fiancé Eric drove and we headed into the farmland area between Montrose, Delta, and Olathe where we have seen the most hawks in the past.  We saw two red-tails within the first half hour but they were both too far away.  Red-tails have excellent vision and can see a mouse from over a foot ball field away but our experience has been that setting traps on hawk that are far away is generally a waste of time.  We finally found what looked like an immature red-tail near the road but she was sitting on a blind turn.  Adult red-tails have brick red tail feathers that red-tailed hawks were named for and juveniles generally have brown banded tail feathers, though western red-tails sometimes retain banding into adulthood as I learned with the last dark morph red-tail I trapped (see my last blog).  Adult birds are illegal to trap because they are part of the breeding population.  Even if they were legal to trap young birds are much easier to train.  Furthermore 70-80% of red-tails die in their first year but after their first year their survival rate increases exponentially.  Chances are the juvenile birds I have trapped in the past would have died during their first winter.  Under a falconer the mortality rate is only about 5%.  The falconer also introduces the bird to larger prey that is available during the winter when smaller prey is scarce and many falconers eventually release their birds back into the wild, thereby increasing the chances that that bird will survive.  Passage birds (birds taken after they have left the nest in their first year) return to the wild quickly and easily.  Every bird I have trapped so far I have flown for a season and released the following spring.  Now back to the immature red-tail we saw near the road. 

We slowed down to almost a stop near the red-tail and I tossed out the trap.  The problem with this scenario is we couldn’t see the trap without being too close to her.  Red-tails are generally comfortable with moving vehicles but will take off if you stop too near them and sit and stare.  Generally we drive at least a couple hundred yards down the road and sit and watch the bird and the trap with binoculars.  In this case we were able to see the bird in the tree but not the trap.  Bal-Chatri traps need to be monitored constantly because after the bird is trapped if it is left it can be injured, it is vulnerable to predators, and the bird can potentially drag the trap towards the road where it could be hit by a car if you leave it unmonitored.  For these reasons it is highly illegal to leave a BC unattended.  We found a spot where we could see her in the tree but we still couldn’t see our trap.  Within a couple minutes of watching her I saw her dive from her perch towards the trap.  Because I couldn’t see the trap to make sure she was entangled we had to drive up so she wouldn’t be trapped too long.  The problem with this is many birds will walk around the trap or move to a closer position to look at it before landing on it or footing it.  Sure enough we pulled up and she was sitting about 2 feet from the trap looking at it.  She saw us, took off and kept going.  I was pretty disappointed because I had gotten a good look at her and she was definitely an immature bird.   It was still early though and we had already seen a handful of red-tails. 

 

  

 

My new red-tailed hawk fresh off the trap.  Note the brown banded tail feathers.

My new red-tailed hawk fresh off the trap. Note the brown banded tail feathers.

 

 

 

We drove past two adult red-tails and finally saw another bird that looked like a juvenile in a good position.  I dropped the trap in a good spot and we continued to drive past the bird down the road.  I watched the bird in the rear view mirror and as we started turning around we saw wings up in the air on top of the trap.  The bird had gone for the trap almost immediately!   The bird was caught, and my heart was racing a million miles an hour.  When you see flapping wings or the birds wings in the air that usually means they are trapped though sometimes they may only have a noose or two around their toes and may still be able to get free before you get to them.  A car was approaching from the opposite direction so we put the petal to the metal and got to the trap before the other vehicle drove by.  I grabbed a towel from the back seat and approached the red-tail.  As I approached I saw that it was an immature bird and my excitement grew exponentially.  I tossed the towel on the bird so s/he couldn’t see me and grabbed its feet to protect myself from being footed.  The feet are definitely the business end of a red-tail but like an alligator’s jaws they have very strong muscles for closing their feet and weak muscles for opening them.  If you hold their feet closed and stay out of direct range of their beak you are generally safe.  I looked the bird over and he seemed thin feeling his keel (breast bone) but otherwise was in great shape and had nice beefy feet.  I couldn’t tell the sex of the bird just by looking at it.  It was smaller than my last female but bigger than either of the males I had trapped. I have been successful with both males and females and I was happy just to trap a legal bird that was in good physical condition.  At that point I knew this bird was coming home with me.  We put a hood on him, fitted him with jesses (the leather straps that you hold the bird by), and he rode home on my glove. 

 

My new hooded red-tail just after being fitted with jesses

My new hooded red-tail just after being fitted with jesses

 

 

 

The jury is still out whether it is a small female or a large male but that is common in red-tails and there is often overlap in weight between the sexes.  Generally males are about a third smaller than females.  One of my falconry books said that if the bird hunting weight is over 38 ounces than it is probably a female.  I trapped this red-tail at 36 ounces and s/he was skinny.  Chances are it’s a large male but we’ll see what his/her flying weight is.  Even that is not 100% accurate and chances are I may never know for sure.  This bird’s sex is not that important in the scheme of things though I need to pick a name a pronoun soon for my own sanity.  Either way I am so excited to have a bird to train and fly this season.  Stayed tuned to find out how his training progresses.  He is already taming down nicely and eating from the fist!  Step one is getting them to sit on your glove without jumping off and hanging upside down, step two is to eat from your glove, and step three is to hop to the glove.  We may even accomplish step three tonight.  Then we will move onto step 4, flying to the glove.  Thanks for reading!

My red-tail sitting on my glove at home hours after trapping.  Let the training begin!

My red-tail sitting on my glove at home hours after trapping. Let the training begin!

Barnes Twins Strike Again!

 

Tracey and Lanny Barnes just got back from a three week trip to Canmore, Alberta. They were able to get some great training in and had some races against the US and Canadian athletes. In the three weeks they were there Tracy and Lanny encoutered temperatures that had them rollerskiing in shorts and temps that put frostbite on their ears. The last week was the week of their races and the temperature never rose above -2 ºF and dropped to a low of -16ºF at night. The races had some ups and downs, but all in all after a disasterous first race where they picked the wrong ski, they had a great comback and Tracy earned a spot to Europe to race before Christmas. Lanny will head to Minnesota to race, then will join Tracy in Europe for Christmas and more racing after that in Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and World Champs in Russia. Tracy and Lanny are really excited in how the start to the year went. The World Championships in Russia aren’t until March, so it is important to not peak too early. Normally the World Championships are in February in the middle of the season, but because it is too cold to legally hold a race in Siberia before March, they made the races later this year. Tracey and Lanny had a good warm up of sorts in Canada for the cold temps they will have to race in in Russia. Tracey says “It was good to get some practice racing in those extreme conditions before we take on the rest of the World!!”  Check out their website at http://twinbiathletes.com/ for more updates and pictures!

Pike Girls Bring Home the Bacon!

15 Year Old Haydyn With Her 2010 Cow

15 Year Old Haydyn With Her 2010 Cow

Daughters of Prois Hunting Apparel CEO, Kirstie Pike, have a successful elk hunting season in Colorado.  Both girls harvested their animals on DIY hunts in the Gunnison Basin.  Great Job!

 
18 Year Old Hanna With Her Drop Antlered Bull

18 Year Old Hanna With Her Drop Antlered Bull

Falconry Files: Trapping 2010

 

Trapping has bee an incredible experience so far this year but I still don’t have a bird in hand and I am ready to start training and quit trapping all the time.  Between elk season and trying to trap a goshawk I have had many early mornings and late nights.  This is the first time I have ever attempted to trap a goshawk and they are a lot more difficult to trap than kestrels and red-tails, the two types of birds I have flown in the past.  I finally received my General Falconry license this year which permits me to trap a wider variety of species and fly two birds at once if I choose.  Unfortunately my license came too late to be able to trap earlier in the year and the season inexplicably is closed for the last two weeks of October, prime time for trapping a goshawk. 

The season started out with a bang when I trapped a great horned owl.  It is illegal to keep a great horned owl for falconry in Colorado and they are impossible to train unless you trap them as a chick so I released this one immediately after taking this picture.  Despite this it was incredibly exciting to be so close to such a gorgeous and majestic bird.  Since then I have trapped a couple other birds but no goshawks and I have lost several pigeons to predators.  I lost 5 pigeons the day I made the mistake of leaving the traps and pigeons in the back of my truck and some brave neighborhood foxes made a feast of my mistake.  Many lessons I have learned in life I’ve learned the hard way and this was no exception.  My goshawk traps are designed to leave out during the day unattended and I have been driving out to set them around first light and picking them up at last light almost every day since November 1st when trapping reopened.  The last few big snow storms we have had really slowed down trapping and I am concerned that my window of opportunity may be closing for goshawks in this area.  I have been seeing many fewer birds, and fewer prey animals in the areas I have been trapping.  I am still going to try to trap towards Montrose for a couple more weeks but I plan on trapping a red-tail soon if I am still not successful.  The rabbit population looks to have increased this last year and red-tails are amazing on rabbits and hares so I would be very happy with a nice hen red-tail this winter.

 If a goshawk doesn’t work out this year I will get out even earlier next year and I am planning to build some more traps so I will have even more opportunities.  Trapping birds of prey gets me more excited than just about anything and it even rivals catching monster trout.  This weekend I fished a floated in an area very near my favorite red-tail trapping spot so I brought some traps with me and had a gorgeous adult dark morph female red-tail on the trap first thing Sunday morning.  It was a close call whether she was an adult or a juvenile and after sending picture messages too and consulting with three of my most trusted falconer friends the consensus was that she was an adult.  I was heart broken because she was one of the most beautiful and unusual red-tails I have ever had my hands on. 

 

 

Later that day we had a juvenile red-tail on our trap but the noose slipped off his foot as I approached and he landed nearby in a tree.  We decided to wait and see if he’d give the trap another try because he was still very interested even though he had been spooked.  He flew to a fence right above the trap, to the ground next to the trap, to the tree and then back to the ground.  It was incredibly exciting but it was driving me nuts to watch him.  Finally he took off and flew away after watching him from down the road with binoculars for almost an hour.  After that we saw a few more red-tails but none of them went for the trap.   We also spotted many many kestrels but I have my heart set on bigger game this year.  The rest of the day it was stormy on and off and we didn’t have any more luck trapping birds.  The winds were high and red tails don’t fly well on very windy days, though the falcons were loving it.  I plan on getting back out to trap red-tails and goshawks this weekend and I would love to come home with a juvenile gos or a red-tail.  Wish me luck and stay tuned for more trapping adventures!

From the Ladies Room… WHITE TAIL CONFESSIONAL

By:  Kirstie Pike
CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women

Am I alone here?  Could I quite possibly be one of the only hunters in North America who has not yet hunted whitetail?  When I mention this little confession in hunting circles I encounter reactions something akin to what lepers must have felt in the 1700’s.  It’s true, I have hunted muleys, elk, bear, turkey and even gator…but not the proverbial mainstay of our hunting culture…whitetail.

I am embarking on this journey in early November and heading up to Saskatchewan with Tracey Splechter of Outdoor Connections.  I am thrilled to be able to attempt my first whitetail hunt in such an amazing area with a good friend.  The adventure will undoubtedly result in some great stories.  I am armed with every sort of scent elimination, hand warmers, cold weather gear and my trusty Remington.  I am ready.

But as the hunt approaches, I realize I have some very serious concerns…

I cannot sit still.  At all.  I have fidgetiness that rivals that of a 9 year old with undiagnosed ADHD.  In fact, when I was a kid, my mom used to get very exasperated at the fact that I was always moving, picking and fidgeting. (Luckily I got past the picking part) “You ooze nervous energy”, she would lament.  Now, as I start to ponder how I will maintain a sedate posture for five days, I start to sweat a little.  I am realizing that I am going to have to steel myself with the mental fortitude of the Dali Lama.  Seriously.  This is going to be an issue for me.  I have already had visions of my guide looking at me and wondering out loud why I am flopping about like I am having a seizure and politely requesting me to sit still.  My response is always this, “I AM sitting still”.  Am I cut out for tree stand hunting?  I am quite certain that spot and stalk methods were created for stillness-impaired people like me.   Am I going to be that one client that the outfitter jokes about for years to come? 

OK, while I am apparently in the ‘whitetail confessionals’, is it too late to also mention that I have a small fear of heights?  Yeah.  I do.  As I scanned the photos from the outfitters website, I noticed the true height of some of these stands.  I noted a slight wave of nausea when I took in all of this information.  Those suckers are HIGH!  Of course, safety harnesses are a must as they will certainly save one from the horrible fate of hitting the ground.  I am wondering if psychologically I could survive a fall, even with a safety harness.  Would I scream like a four year old?  Would I wet my pants?  Would I turn catatonic?  How would the outfitter explain all of this to my poor family?  I envision it going something like this, “I am not sure exactly what happened, Mr. Pike, but we found her hanging there drooling and babbling incoherently.  Do you want us to send her back to you?”   Mr. Pike then considers his options, mulls it over and finally relents. 

I have been counseled by many ardent whitetail hunters who  inform me that I need to bring a book and my cell phone to play games.  This is also a first.  While I am utterly relieved to know that I will have a bit of mental diversion, I have to admit that I have never had to bring my Augusten Burroughs collection into the woods with me.  I am now worried I will get too engrossed in my book to notice that trophy buck under my stand.  I am beginning to think I need therapy. 

I must admit that after obsessively rolling these scenarios over in my brain for the past two weeks, I have come to one conclusion.  Perhaps my paralyzing fear of heights will indeed keep me still.  Hey!  Problem solved. 

Now…what if I drop my book…

Prois Hunting Apparel Caption Contest – November 2010

We’ve chosen this month’s photo in the spirit of Thanksgiving!  Jump in and take part in the fun!  Prois Hunting Apparel for Women is sponsoring a monthly photo caption contest which will be posted here, on the Prois Community Blog. 

How do you participate?  Simply supply a unique caption to go with our posted photo in the “comment” section listed below. 

Why should you participate?  Well, for starters…it’s fun!  BUT- the winner that is chosen by the Prois staff will become the proud new owner of a Turas Shortsleeve shirt in Black/Pink, White/Black, or Navy/White. 

What are you waiting for!?  Give us YOUR caption!

FROM THE LADIES ROOM… first annual WOMA retreat starts out with a bang!

Kirstie Pike, CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women

The first annual Women’s Outdoor Media Association (WOMA) retreat, which was held in Gunnison, CO- started out with a bang.  Quite literally. 

The WOMA crew descended on the local shooting range for a lively session of trap shooting.  A special thanks goes out to the Gunnison Sportsman’s Association and their helpful crew- Scott Rennick, Rick Odom and Jim Woodford.  I am still uncertain if they had any idea what they had gotten themselves into with the WOMA crew as they all had wide-eyed expressions of fear when we arrived.  After a few volleys of jokes – we were certain this group of guys was a good match for us!   They were unflappable.  Even when Barb Baird arrived sporting her world famous coonskin cap.  I understand it is all the rage in Missouri. 

A quick safety talk from Scott and Rick, and the WOMA crew was ready to roll.  Scott and Rick lead the crew through the various shooting stations and provided great tips, teaching points and humorous interjections. 

Chris Quam proved to be the top shot of the day, as she was busting clays from all directions.  Chris’ husband Patrick, Gary and Deb Ferns, Barbara and Jason Baird, Hank and Mia Anstine, and Olympic Biathletes Tracy and Lanny Barnes all proved to be exceptional markspersons. (is that really a word?)   Great volleys of rounds, busting clays and Deb Ferns’ stories could be heard all about the range.  And the best part…Katherine Browne and I caught it ALL on film.  We accept bribes.  Food works. 

This event, being the first event of the retreat weekend, was an excellent ice breaker…although I am not sure how much ice needs to be broken when you are in the company of Barb Baird and Deb Ferns.  We quickly learned that we had an amazing level of camaraderie and  that the many adventures we had planned for the weekend would be great fun.  As well, there is nothing like the smell of gunpowder to bring a group together!  Well, except maybe a hot breakfast before heading out for an amazing day of falconry!  But that is a story for another day!