Deep Thoughts with Kara Jo

By Prois Staffer Kara Jo Lorenz
It’s easy to feel disappointed when things don’t turn out that way we want them to. But when you truly LOVE what you do, you find things turn out the way they need to. Take for instance the last day of duck season. I woke up at 3 A.M.- an hour before my alarm was set to go off. I knew I had to assemble the breakfast burritos I promised my hunting buddies and needed to get on the road by 4:45 to be there on time. At 5:00 I arrived, loaded my waders, gun and blind bag in their truck and hopped in the back seat, coffee in hand.  As we drove to the lake we talked about the usual stuff, and tried to decide where to set up for the morning hunt. The day before, they were out with my husband and didn’t have much luck so we weren’t really sure what to expect.
We put the boat in the water and there was no wind but the air was bitter cold while we cruised across the lake. The water was so calm you could see the reflections of the few stars that peeked through the early morning haze. I wish I had a better camera other than my phone to capture the dark sky over the lake. It was a cold, dark gray/blue color with the crisp black of the shore line cutting through- separating the sky and water. I wish I could describe it better. I tried to snap a picture and hoped that there would be just enough light so I could share this beautiful sight with others.  Unfortunately all I got was a photo of pitch black nothingness. Naturally, to guard myself from looking completely stupid (the one friend saw me take a picture with no flash) I quickly turned the flash on and snapped one of our other friend.
We pulled in to the decided area and the guys put out decoys. Thankfully this was an area with little to no ice so set up wasn’t bad. We still had about 20 minutes till shooting time so we just sat in the boat, ate breakfast burritos, pondered over our spot, decoy set up, and questioned our weather man with his “light and variable wind” forecast when there was no wind whatsoever. While waiting, and sipping more hot coffee,  I couldn’t help but tune in to the sounds of the woods beyond the shoreline.  This is a sound that every hunter is familiar with.  The harmonious sound of Mother Nature waking her children. You can laugh if you want, but that’s what it sounds like to me. All kinds of birds chirping and critters wrestling in the leaves when not much earlier, the silence was almost deafening.
A group of widgeon flew overhead about 5 minutes till first light.  Then another small group of mallards flew.  I was getting pretty excited because it seemed we just might have a good day of hunting after all. Then that was it. We sat for almost an hour with nothing else flying. A single came towards us but changed course due to something he didn’t seem to like with our set up so we made a small change but nothing else came even close enough to look.  Shortly after 9:00 we made the difficult decision to quit. None of us really wanted to-  we all know that we have a 0% chance of getting anything if we aren’t out trying.  However it just seemed that the birds were not flying that day.
Now here is the part where your love of the sport makes a difference. I woke up at 3 A.M. on a Sunday, rode on an aluminum boat across a lake by 5:45 while it was 30 degrees out, waded out in icey cold water, sat in said boat for two hours with two other people, watched birds fly that I couldn’t shoot, and came home with the same amount of shells I went out with and no ducks on the last day of the season. Oh and my breakfast burritos were totally cold. This could be considered a major disappointment. But as we drove back to the boat ramp, the beauty of the day filled me with appreciation of the opportunity to be out with friends. Again, the water was so calm it was like a mirror reflecting the gorgeous blue sky and white clouds. This time, I was able to snap a few pictures. (I say a few but it was really about 20) Had I not made the choice to go out hunting that morning, I wouldn’t have seen how gorgeous this lake was on that day, I wouldn’t have heard the joyous sounds of the woods, nor would I have enjoyed the time spent with friends. I’m thankful for moments like these because I may have come home empty handed, but my heart was full. I couldn’t be disappointed with that.

Shooting a Doe

 

I overheard someone scoff at the fact I was excited and sharing pictures of the doe I harvested the morning of opening day. For just a short moment I thought, geez, maybe it is a little childish. I mean, I shot the first dear that walked out.  Most people it seems only brag about the biggest bucks and if they shoot a doe, aren’t proud and even act embarrassed to admit. Or sometimes, if it’s not a huge buck, they give some sort of excuse why they took it like they are having to defend themselves.

But then I realized that I really don’t care what they think. I don’t. I don’t have land of my own to hunt, I am blessed with the occasional invite from friends or when we travel out of state to visit my in-laws, we have very little time to hunt there. My number one goal is to fill my freezer with venison. One deer usually lasts most of the year for our small family. We save the loins and a couple of roasts to use for other things  but other than that, we grind most of it up and use it with anything that calls for ground meat.

So HELL YEAH I’m proud of that doe. I’m proud of the fact that I just provided my family with many nights of good clean meat to eat.  Not to mention I didn’t exactly sit in a warm cozy permanent stand to hunt by a feeder. (I have and would if I could again- so no judging on this end), but sometimes the harder you work or more you commit, the greater the value of the reward. In my case, it is a doe. She walked out of the woods, turned and started to walk back in so I took the shot.

With that one shot, the pressure of filling our freezer is off. I am now very comfortable with waiting for a buck if I choose to. But I would also be proud to shoot another doe. Either way, it means more meat to share with friends and family. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

NWTF Helps Clean up Tornado Devastated Moore OK

By Prois Staffer Kara Jo Lorenz

People often ask what the National Wild Turkey Federation is.  I usually have to clarify that it does not have anything to do with drinking whiskey but is a non-profit group that is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of our hunting heritage.  At least, that’s it’s mission statement.  But the NWTF is so much more than that.  It is an organization that has taught me many things about being a responsible hunter and outdoor enthusiast.  Three years ago when I was asked if I’d be interested in heading up a new chapter for the cities of Moore and Norman, I was excited, but unsure because I don’t really consider myself a leader and I had never done something like that before.  But I stepped out of my comfort zone and said yes.  Each year we host a fundraising banquet.  It’s all about good friends, good food, and of course, raising money for our cause.   I’ve also spent many hours helping other chapters to organize women events, volunteering at youth shooting events, etc.  I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. It’s given me a sense of pride knowing that I may have helped teach someone something new or helped someone discover an interest in the outdoors.  I felt very content with my community involvement and volunteering efforts.

Until May 20th 2013.  A devastating F5 tornado ripped through Moore Oklahoma.  As I watched the drama unfold on the television at work, my heart broke for all those affected. Businesses, homes, and even schools were destroyed. Men, women and children lost their lives and many more were injured.  The wing of the hospital where I delivered both my children was torn apart. Our pediatrician’s office had the same fate.  My physician’s office was completely leveled, only the foundation was left. You see we lived in Moore for the first 7 years I lived in Oklahoma. I’ve watched it grow and really become a wonderful place to live.  I’ve driven past one of the elementary schools that were destroyed multiple times on my way to visit friends.  In fact I’ve visited many of the places that are no longer there.  

There was an immediate outpour of support from all over the country.  Music stars put on a tribute concert, NBA stars made donations in the amount most of us will never see.  People from neighboring towns and other states made their way here to lend a hand.  It was so natural, so pure. I think across the country, people were touched by this tragedy. But as the weeks passed, the national media moved on to other stories, and the Moore Tornado faded into the background.


I guess as fate would have it, my schedule had kept me busy for the first few weekends following the tornado but I felt compelled to help.  I reached out to our NWTF chapter early on to see if anyone would be interested in putting together a work group to help out. This caught our regional director’s attention, who reached out to national. We set the date for June 22nd and rallied the troops.  We had NWTF committee members from other chapters including ours come out to help.  One of our state board members works with a lady who’s house received substantial damage and was uninhabitable.  I was hoping we could be of some help but since it had been a month since the tornado hit, I wasn’t sure how much work needed to be done.  I was about to find out.

On this typical hot and humid summer day in Oklahoma, we turned into the neighborhood where her house is and goose bumps covered my arms.  A lump in my throat grew. To our left was what remained of an elementary School, and to our right were the remains of homes. Over a dozen vehicles were still sitting where they landed, windows blown, paint stripped off, just beaten and obviously totaled.  We passed by construction crews who were about to bulldoze someone’s home.  I had heard people describe the destruction as if a bomb went off.  They were right.  It was awful and gut wrenching.

Kara Jo lends a hand

But we were there to help, not sightsee. We arrived at the home of the woman we were there to help and started to work right away.  It had been a month but she still did not have power. Of course she didn’t need it because she also didn’t have windows, a garage door, or much left of a roof. Her fence had been torn up- the metal posts were literally bent over.  Trees were snapped, roof shingles were everywhere, along with random debris from her yard, or someone else’s yard from down the street, who knows. We were to move all trash and debris to the sidewalk to be picked up by the city. The grass had grown up so it was difficult to see all the stuff in the yard. I even found about 30 old baseball cards from the 80’s scattered around.  We had to drag our boots through the grass to find things that needed to be picked up. Another volunteer group was driving by and asked us if we wanted help. They jumped on board and with everyone working together, we were able to clear her yard, cut down trees, and remove the rest of her fence.  By the time we were done, there was about a 65 foot stretch of trash ready to be picked up.

We were exhausted, but as we packed up and were saying our goodbyes, I think we all had tears in our eyes. The homeowner tried to tell us thank you and I watched her chin tremble a bit.  At that point I couldn’t think of her thanking us. I wanted to thank her for giving us the opportunity to help.  Knowing that we helped her was one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced.

That was when I really realized that the NWTF is NOT just a conservation group. It is a group dedicated to helping communities and friends too.  I am so grateful for being a part of something that not only gives back to wildlife, but to people as well. I have learned that we are capable of many things when we work together.

Whether you are with a group, or by yourself, take some time to go down and help. It’s been over a month but there is still so much to do. Even walking up to this home, it seemed so overwhelming, but we just got after it. Each person that lends a hand brings a neighbor one step closer to a sense of normalcy. We worked all day. It was hot, it was dirty and I think we are all a little sore. But it was an honor.