By Prois Staffer Andrea Haas
So you think you would like to get into hunting but don’t know where to start? Whether hunting is completely new to you or you grew up in a family of hunters, knowing how to begin can seem a little overwhelming at first. The good news is there are plenty of people and resources out there that can help you if you are willing to do a little research and put in some work.
Getting Started – Hunter’s Safety Course
Getting the right introduction to hunting is important. A good way to start is by finding your state’s wildlife agency and finding a hunter’s safety course. Here is a great online resource from The National Shooting Sports Foundation with hunting information for each state. You can find your state, get direct links to your state’s Conservation Department, hunting regulations and more. You can also take the test online through Hunter-Ed.
Next Step – Apprentice Hunter Program
Even if you do pass your hunter’s safety course, become certified and buy your hunting license, it’s still a good idea to go hunting with someone else first. If you choose not to go through a hunter-ed course until you are positive that hunting is for you, most states offer an “Apprentice Hunter Program”. This means you can purchase a hunting permit and legally harvest an animal in the presence of someone who is hunter-ed certified. For example, I live in Missouri. Missouri allows you to do this for 2 years. After 2 years you must become hunter-ed certified in order to continue hunting & harvesting animals.
Most people begin by hunting with a firearm. While I encourage everyone to take up bow hunting, it’s not something that I recommend doing the first year you hunt. Before you handle a gun, make sure you are familiar with the NRA gun safety rules. Even if you’ve been hunting for years, it’s still a good idea to review these rules from time to time. Another great resource for all things women hunters/shooters is the NRA Women’s Network! They have weekly episodes that are fun & informative:
Practice With Purpose
To me, this is one of the most important steps to take in becoming a hunter. You must take into consideration that you are shooting a live animal. Strive to make the best, most ethical shot possible so the animal does not suffer long and so you can save as much of the meat as possible. With that being said, find a place where you can shoot, get out there and start practicing! We have about 200 acres of private land outside of the city limits where we can practice shooting. Private land is not available to everyone though, so if not try finding a gun range near you. Here is another great resource from the National Shooting Sports Foundation to help you find shooting ranges in your area.
Choosing Your Gun & Ammo
It’s not necessary at first to rush out & buy your own gun. When I first started hunting, I borrowed a family member’s rifle, practiced and hunted with that. Making sure you select the right gun is more important. Make sure you are comfortable with the gun and select the right type of gun & ammo for the game that you wish to hunt. The “Love at First Shot” episodes at NRA Women’s Network are an excellent resource on how to choose a rifle & the proper ammo:
Study Up – Learn About the Animals
Learn as much as you can about the animals you want to hunt. Study about their feeding habits, their senses (sight, smell, etc), and breeding seasons so you can be as prepared as possible for your first hunt. There are multiple organizations out there that have endless information about game animals and their behaviors such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Deer and Deer Hunting, Mule Deer Foundation and many many more.
Learn The Area / Pattern the Animals
If you’re able to, get out and scout the area you plan to be hunting before season starts. Start by becoming familiar with the land and your surroundings. Always tell someone where you will be and take your cell phone with you if possible. Check for signs of the animal you’ll be hunting and scout out good areas to put a tree stand or ground blind to hunt out of. Set up some game cameras near known trails and food & water sources so you know more about the animal’s activity & patterns. Here is a great blog from Dale Evans at EvoOutdoors about scouting new land.
Gear & Apparel
While it may not be necessary to purchase your own rifle at first, I do recommend investing in some of your own hunting gear, equipment & apparel.
Some basic items you’ll probably want to purchase:
-A good quality, sharp knife
-Hunting fanny pack or backpack
-Scent Control Products, (depending on the type of game you are hunting)
-For women, I recommend Her Non Scents scent free shampoo, conditioner & body wash
-A good moisture wicking pair, try FirstLite & Minus33 brands at www.EvoOutdoors.com
-The type of clothing you pick depends on where you will be hunting, what season it is & the
type of animal you’ll be hunting.
-Prois has a line of women’s hunting apparel that meets the needs for any type of hunt you
will be going on, whitetail, turkey, upland, etc. They even have a new safari line for 2015!
-If you need help picking the right apparel for your hunt, EvoOutdoors Camo Concierge is a great option!
Make sure you do your part to learn as much as you can before you go hunting. I began by going on a whitetail hunt with my husband one year & watching him harvest a buck. I practiced a lot and asked him as many questions as I could until the following deer season. I went out by myself one afternoon and shot my very first deer, a nice 8 point. I observed him hunting first, practiced and asked questions. By taking what I learned from that and applying it to my own hunt, I was able to successfully harvest an animal on my own. Not everyone has a family member or a friend to learn from though. Here are a lot of great websites, blogs and other resources to help you out!
Most important, second to safety of course, is to enjoy yourself! Hunting is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy the peace & quiet of nature, and just relax. Observe wild animals in their natural habitats. You will learn something new each time you go out! Not only that, you will gain a deeper appreciation for wildlife and for the food that you eat, knowing that you are providing yourself & your family with healthier, organic meat, free from steroids & preservatives. Get out there & do some grocery shopping!
Please join us in welcoming the amazing Brittany Boddington to the Prois Pro-Staff Team!! Brittany’s mother Donna Boddington is already on staff and we are so proud to welcome Brittany as well this year. We are all about collecting Boddingtons.
A California native, Brittany is no stranger to Television or big game hunting. Brittany Boddington grew up in Los Angeles. Her father, author and outdoor television personality Craig Boddington, traveled around the world in search of big game animals; instilling in Brittany a sense of adventure. While he was away, Brittany was busy working in the film and modeling industry as well as doing volunteer work at the local animal shelters. Her competitive nature and tenacity enabled her to reach the Junior Olympics in Synchronized swimming at age 16.
Brittany’s hunting career began after high school when, as a graduation gift, she went on her first safari with her father, taking five trophy animals. She now spends most of the year happily living out of a suitcase in pursuit of exotic animals and exciting adventures. She writes for several notable outdoor publications including Peterson’s Hunting Magazine, Sports A’field, Wild Deer Magazine and Gun’s and Ammo. She was honored as the first woman to ever appear on the cover of Petersons Hunting Magazine and she was also featured in the book “The Diana Files” by Fiona Clair Capstick. With her father Craig’s help Brittany has discovered a love for the great outdoors and has become a passionate hunter and conservationist. She aspires to follow in her father’s footsteps while cutting some new trails of her own.
By Prois Hunt Staffer Megan DeHaan
Who woulda thunk….. A few days after I send in my Prois Award entry with a story about this buck I haven’t arrowed yet…..I GOT HIM!!
I had pictures of this buck in our game camera several times before season. I had him patterned, everything was good to go. My husband even saw him opening day and passed knowing that I really wanted to shoot him. The next day I saw him but he never gave me an opportunity to shoot. There was either a tree in front of his vitals or he was quartering too me. I kept trying and after that day he vanished and I thought he would never show up. I went out several times and never found him again, until last night! I can thank my son, who as I left gave me a sticker to wear and said it was good luck. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I had a nice four point come in and I was going to set up to shoot and out of the corner of my eye MY BUCK!!!! My adrenaline was already pumping, I knew the deer were kinda jumpy that night so I didn’t hesitate, I drew back, he walked away a bit, stood behind some trees, it seemed to take forever but finally about a minute after I drew back, he stopped broadside. THWAP!! He jumped, ran to the middle of the field, started getting top-heavy, and stood there. I knew it was a good shot. I waited and waited to make sure to give him time and it ended up getting too dark to see so I pulled out of there for safe measure. I went back about 30 minutes later and he went about 20 more yards and had died. I GOT HIM!!!!! I’m so elated. As you can see he has an extra split sort of main beam. He sticks out like a sore thumb, so unique I couldn’t pass him up! Thank you PROIS for such Badass camouflage!!!!!! He couldn’t see a thing!!!
By Prois Staffer Gretchen Steele
Hundreds of bowfishers, and a total of 72 boats descended on Aurora, Kentucky for a record setting Bowfishing Association of America’s (BAA) World Championship tournament, and Prois was there!
A summer spent bowfishing almost daily, participating in other smaller tournaments, culminated in a great weekend in Aurora, Kentucky at “The Worlds” .
Said BAA Points/Sanctioning Chairman Amanda Nichols, “Kentucky always has the biggest turnout for the World’s, but this year was the record year so far for turnout for any of the World’s tourneys. This is the biggest World’s to date and we would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in the 2014 BAA World Championship. Without all of the bowfishermen and the supporters we couldn’t have done it. Big thanks to Marshall County for all the support and donations towards this event. ”
The BAA’s World championship Tournament brings the best of the best bowfishers from across the country to compete for 14,000 dollars in prize money. The first place winning teams in the Big 20 Division and Numbers Division both went home 3,000 dollars richer and payouts were also made to those in the top five slots.
But “The World’s” as it is referred to by bowfishers is much more than just another tournament, and just another purse. It’s a full blown weekend event that gives bowfishers from across the country a weekend together filled with friendship, fellowship and fun. For many it is the one event of the year where all of their bowfishing buddies are in one place.
As it was close to my birthday, several bowfishing pals brought good luck/ birthday gifts, including a most special gift from bowfishing icon “The Shot” Willett. Shot, as he is known on the tournament circuit and in the bowfishing community, presented me with my own “Wild Woman Flopper Stopper” Receiving a flopper stopper from shot is true sign that one has arrived so to speak in the bowfishing world. My team mate and fellow badass Amy made sure that I had my traditional “ducky” pre tournament good luck present and few things to celebrate our participation in the prestigious worlds. Seriously, doesn’t everyone bowfish in a camo feather boa????
For the communities that that host the World’s it’s a huge influx to the local economy. “It’s hard dispute what we bring in, when that guy with the truck and airboat walks into to your gas station and slaps 4 hundred dollar bills down just for fuel. “ Said Mark Lee, President of BAA. Lee further pointed out the economic benefits to the community in dollars spent on lodging, meals, and trips to local shops for last minute items. Additionally local civic groups can help fill their organizations coffers by providing food, drinks, etc. at the tournament site.
At this year’s Worlds the Aurora Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary were kept hopping serving up food both before and after the tournament. “We are just thrilled to have the bowfishers in Aurora – we had the Kentucky State Shoot here earlier this year and we loved every minute of it. We couldn’t wait for the Worlds to get here. Our small community is suffering, just like so many, and the bowfishers bring us so much! “Said a representative from the ladies auxiliary.
That sentiment was echoed by Tammy Nanney from nearby KenLake State Park Resort where “all those big bowfishing boats” were the talk of the resort guests and staff. Nanney pointed out that bowfishing at Kentucky Lakes is excellent, sporting some of the largest big head carp in the Midwest, and the myriad of available Kentucky Parks lodging options from camping to cottages to resort level are always welcoming to those who plan a bowfishing vacation at Kentucky Lakes.
The tournament was truly a community affair, with many from Kentucky Lakes area coming out to talk with bowfishers, ogle the boats and equipment on display and to watch well-orchestrated take off of 72 boats.
Companies and industries affiliated with the bowfishing community also recognize the importance of the World’s as a premier bowfishing event and provided excellent in kind and monetary support. For instance, PowerTran donated a full system as a prize in a side competition sponsored by their company.
This year’s successful BAA World Championship proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that bowfishing has arrived as a legitimate outdoor sport and is no longer considered fringe, redneck, or a bunch of goofballs with bows chasing fish in the dead of night. It requires specialized equipment, specialized skills, and is a great conservation tool for the removal of injurious and invasive species.
By Christy Turner
wWhat an amazing weekend I had with Becky Lou Lacock two weekends ago at the Priefert Ranch in Mount Pleasant Texas. Our days were relaxing hanging out at the ranch watching Chloe ride the 4 wheeler and watching her ride the mare named Buttercup.
We got to meet the world’s largest horse named Radar who is over 19 hands, he was an amazing sight. We also got to meet world famous Australian, Guy McLean. He is an International Horseman, Entertainer and Poet. In between the laughing and cutting up we got serious in the mornings and evenings to try and get eleven year old Chloe from Tennessee her first Texas Hog. We had some pictures on a game camera, stumbled upon some Hog hair on the trail and had a real close encounter on the ground with them Friday evening.
The Hogs were right there, I could even smell them and Becky Lou almost got ate but I was watching her back. Our time ran out before Chloe could bag her first Hog but we made a lot of good memories and hope to try again someday soon. Our gracious host was Travis Priefert, the Grandson of Marvin Priefert who was the founder of the family owned and operated Priefert Manufacturing. You need to check out their web site at www.priefert.com and read, about the family. This hardworking family lives the American dream because they refused to give up even when times were tough they said. I admire each and every one ofthem and respect how humble and honest they all are. Also watch for their new reality-based hunting tv show called “The Prieferts” on the Sportsman Channel. The premiere will air July 3rd 9:30C. This is going to be a must see, I can’t wait!
Fear not Christy Turner bagged herself a hog last weekend while hunting and fishing with fellow Prois gal Stacy Sissney and family !
By Nancy Rodriguez
Opening day of the spring turkey season was very different than my usual turkey hunt. Instead of sitting patiently waiting for a turkey to strut by, I was in the middle of an amazing elk capture/relocation. My husband, Joe and I were honored to be invited to participate at a Tule Elk capture in central California, by our friend Joe Hobbs. Joe Hobbs is a senior environmental scientist that works for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He also happens to be the California elk coordinator.
California is home to three subspecies of elk: Roosevelt elk, Rocky Mountain Elk, and the very special Tule Elk. Tule Elk are only found in my home state of California. The Tule Elk in California were once close to extinction. In the mid 1870’s there were reports that fewer than 30 elk remained in a single herd near Bakersfield, Ca. A cattle rancher named Henry Miller preserved this last group of elk that he discovered on his ranch in 1874. Experts believe the elk were pushed to the brink of extinction from loss of habitat, market hunting, and displacement from cattle. Thanks to Henry Miller and others that followed suit by 1970’s the Tule Elk population had grown to around 500 animals. Over the years with improved management, the help of wildlife organizations and conservation agencies like RMEF, Tule Elk numbers have steadily increased. Today California has over 4000 Tule Elk in 22 distinct herds!
Joe and I arrived on Friday afternoon at the San Luis Wildlife Refuge for our mandatory safety meeting. We met with approximately 70 employees from California Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife services, along with veterinarians, andnthe helicopter capture crew. Joe Hobbs conducted the orientation meeting, assigning everyone a specific job. We all broke into groups to become familiar with our upcoming rolls. Joe and I were assigned to the trailer chutes. We rotated with another team manning the chute gates as the elk were herded into the trailers for transport. 6:30 am Saturday morning couldn’t come soon enough. We arrived at base camp full of adrenaline and excitement. The teams quickly dispersed into their designated areas. The teams consisted of: The helicopter crew, the ground transportation teams, the processing teams, the wranglers, and the relocation team. Each group showed amazing team work.
The first team up was the helicopter crew, Leading Edge Aviation. They are a team of four dedicated wildlife capturers. The pilot’s job is to bring the chopper down over an elk to net gun level. Then one of the gunners hangs out of the chopper, aims the net gun over an elk and fires the net for capture.
Once the elk is in the net, the chopper drops to a low hover, a team member jumps out and immediately blindfolds and hobbles the elk for transport. The pilot radios the closest ground team for pick up. These guys are fast! On arrival the ground teams quickly lift the netted elk onto litters. They safely transport the elk on the back of Gators or trailers to the processing station.
The elk are strapped to the litters for safe travel. The next team is the processing team. There were 5 tents set up to process the elk as quickly as possible. They consisted of Ca. Fish & Wildlife employees, US Fish & Wildlife, and veterinarians to collect samples and data on the elk. First the elk are weighed and then carried to a tent station.
There the team would draw blood, check general health, place ear tags, and radio collars for future research.
The entire time the elk’s temperature was monitored closely and cool water and ice packs were applied to maintain the animals temperature if necessary.
Once the research teams finished their jobs, the elk were carried to the corral to be persuaded into the trailers. The corral is what I called the “elk wrangling station”. This station consisted of a metal pipe corral about the size of a small garage with two chutes that led into the trailers. The pipe fencing was covered in black burlap, so the elk would stay calm.
The ground crew would carry the elk on the litter into the corral. They would safely tip the litter to lay the elk on the ground. The elk wranglers would then remove the hobbles and blindfolds as quickly as possible. Next they would use bucking boards to persuade the elk up the trailer chutes. Joe and I would nudge the elk up the chutes and close the gates behind them as fast as we could, as they entered the trailers.
On the second day, Joe and I we’re invited into the corral to help with “wrangling”. Joe removed the blindfolds and I helped out with the bucking boards. The final stage and the most amazing part of the capture was yet to come. Joe and I were able to go to the grand finale… the release! We had two trucks and blacked out trailers full of elk, followed by a safety vehicle.
After a 2 ½ hours drive, we arrived at the elk’s new home. We pulled into the wildlife area full of hope. As we opened the trailer doors and stepped back, each elk curiously stepped out of the trailer and safely trotted off into their new home. Watching them run off, I was completely speechless! We had just been a part of one amazing adventure.
We had helped with the California Tule Elk re-population, conservation, and management process. All in all, the teams safely captured and relocated 36 Tule Elk to three different locations in California. California is lucky to have Joe Hobbs as the elk coordinator. He ran a safe, seamless, and upbeat elk capture. With people like him, Fish and Wildlife agencies, and conservation groups like RMEF, we can keep supporting our once nearly extinct Tule Elk.
This experience was one we will never forget. Not only did we have a great time comingface to face with Tule Elk, but we met some amazing people!
Hunting…What’s it All About?
By Kathleen Lynch
It was brought to mind by an acquaintance in his telling of the 7 point, record book bull elk he had just shot in Idaho, “A special deal” he says…that hunters love to tell stories about the trophies they get, that big is best when it comes to hunting. But where are the stories about those hard sought and not got ones? How many hunters ever get the opportunity to shoot a trophy, or have had an opportunity and were unable to capitalize on it? What do we take home fom those hunts?
This thought process reminded me of a dog-eared page in a book by a great hunter and conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt. “Plenty of good shots become disgusted if they don’t see a deer early in the morning and go home; still more, if they do not see one in two or three days. Others will go on hunting, but become careless, stumble and step on dried sticks, and let their eyes fall to the ground. It is a good test of a man’s resolution to see if, at the end of a long and unsuccessful tramp after deer, he moves just as carefully, and keeps just as sharp a lookout as he did at the beginning. If he does this, and exercises a little common sense, in still-hunting, as in every thing else, common sense is the most necessary of qualities, he may be sure that his reward will come some day; and when it does come, he feels a gratification that only his fellow sportsmen can understand.”
I have experienced that overwhelming gratification many times in my 35 years of hunting… it is the epitome of any hunt but on my last buck hunt in Nevada the tears came not upon my giving thanks to the deer gods for an animal sacrificed but in the truck after leaving the trailhead because the hunt was over.
The rain was finally coming the last of the sun’s rays breaking through the blackening clouds to spotlight the foothills of the Ruby Mountains, the musty smell of sage, horse sweat and dust permeated my clothes. I had just spent 14 days in a drop camp next to a pristine, trout infested lake nestled against the steep rocky peaks of the Ruby Crest, 8 miles from any roads. The hike to the top of the mountain from camp in the early morning darkness was a heart throbbing 26 switchbacks as Himalayan snowcocks whistled their morning tune. Every day out was a test of physical endurance energized by the will to see more country, more wildlife and a bigger buck! I had been that hunter, who was looking for something special. I had passed on several close up shots at forked horns and had taken shots earlier in the hunt at a couple of better bucks and missed.
On the last day of the season as I was slowly hunting my way back to camp disappointed in myself for having my hopes of bagging a buck again dashed by another missed shot early in the morning I spotted a trophy muley across a canyon at rangefinder distance.. 390 yards. In a blustery crosswind with no place for a solid gun rest, I watched as he walked away. Not willing to give up I crept down the canyon to get closer to where I last saw him…knowing that he was up against a rock cliff and that there was always a chance that he may come out in the last fading moments of the day. I waited, shivering in the stinging cold wind for hours my hope fading with each moment of the lowering sun.
I believe that there is a reason for everything and the reason I missed those other bucks was so that I would have the opportunity for that big buck encounter. My reward for the hunt did not terminate in a trophy nor a buck but my reward came from being witness to a part of nature that few have the opportunity to see. That was my reward for this hunt that and the peace, stillness (Tilyoweh), natural beauty and wildlife that I always experience while hunting…and someday when I am able to capitalize on another opportunity for a buck the gratification I will feel will be GREAT, trophy or not! Another hunting lesson learned, never give up!
Webster’s defines hunting as simply “the pursuit of game”…the pursuit is what hunting is all about, use common sense, be resolute and someday that indescribable gratification will be the reward!
By Shannon Rasmussen
Saturday morning we woke to a fresh blanket of snow and temps in the teens. We gathered all of our warm hunting gear and headed to the mountain. You see, Saturday was a very special day for our family. Our middle son Mason had just turned 12 last week, which is the legal age in Idaho to hunt big game. Mason had drawn a late rifle cow tag, and Saturday was the first day that he could hunt. It was a slow drive as the roads were ice packed, but eventually we made it to the hunt unit. We drove and glassed, glassed and drove. We weren’t seeing many tracks, and after a lot of glassing still weren’t seeing many elk. After a few hours we were about to head home for the day when we cut a set of fresh cow tracks crossing the road. We drove up the road a bit so that we could glass back towards where the tracks were headed. Sure enough there were four cows feeding across the snowy hillside. We decided that we would make a stock on them by coming up and over the hill above them. We drove around the other side of the hill, parked, and started the steep, slick hike to the top of the hill. The snow was crunchy and slippery, and there was a lot of thick brush that we had to make our way through. Eventually we topped out, and very cautiously and as quietly as we could be under the circumstances, started glassing the area where the elk had been. There was no sign of them, so we decided to climb up and side hill to see if we could cut there tracks in the snow and get on them again. As we started to hike all of a sudden my husband Shane whispered “Right there!!”. To our right a cow had jumped up out of the brush and was trotting away. Shane got Mason set up for a shot, and as the cow was about to disappear over the hill and out of sight, Shane blew a cow call. She stopped about 200 yards away. We whispered to Mason to be calm, make sure he was good and steady, and to squeeze the trigger when ready. Boom! We could see the impact of the bullet hit the cow. She swayed and started to slowly tumble forward. Mason shot again and she fell to the ground, sliding down the hill, coming to rest next to a bush. High fives and tears all around! Mason was so excited and Shane and I were so proud! This young man had harvested his first big game animal, and performed like a pro! I cannot think of a better way to have spent a Saturday in December with my family.