The Off Season

By Megan DeHaan

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For some, we live by seasons, as a rancher I feel like my life revolves around this idea. There’s calving season, haying season, hunting season, feeding season, repeat. Everything else depends on the weather, the cows, the kids, the old man…. So, for my sanity I have a few “musts” to fill in the blanks. Trail running is one of them. In one way it’s my alone time. The time I get during hunting season that I dearly love, to be at one with nature and my thoughts. So in the “off season” I go out. The other reason is simply because if I don’t, then all winter I just mope around feeling sorry for myself wishing it was fall and I was hunting. Yes I run in the winter, yes it gets cold, no, it doesn’t bother me, yes, I know, I’m that weird person who runs in the snow and rain and thoroughly enjoys it! The alternative would be letting old man winter control you and waste all that time you took to get into shape for hunting season and avoid your skinny jeans because you know they wont fit.

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Some people really just don’t enjoy running I’ve been told. Well I didn’t either at one time. I decided one day I was going to. So I went running. And I hated it. So I tried again, still hated it. Until one day I realized, maybe I should try out actual running attire? So I went out and bought new running shoes from an actual running store. Holy moly did that make a difference! It’s the same thing as trying to just wear your husbands hunting clothing. You could, but have fun with that….most likely they won’t fit, and it will be just like trying to trail run in jeans and boots. So naturally I started seeking out running clothes. Let me be clear, not all running clothes are created equal. Just because they say “running shorts” does not mean they aren’t going to hike up your butt crack and expose your underside. Also “technical” doesn’t even really mean its going to work as well as you think. Some times it means “technically we call these shorts technical, but really there just technically/kinda running shorts”. You have to pick and choose. I found that my hunting clothing was working better than some of my running gear. Mainly because almost all my hunting gear is Prois, and it’s all made specifically for us women who demand performance. So eventually I became “that gal who’s always in camo at races”. Prois carries an “ultra hoodie” and it’s ultra wonderful. I wear it all winter, and for warm-up and for early races. They also have the ultra short sleeve that works great as well for any mid temperature days. I almost always run with a visor and it just so happens, Prois carries my favorite. Last but not least they carry the turas sleeveless shirt that works great for hot days. This helps me out a lot because my hunting wardrobe and gear gets its own room in our house, so my running gear could save some room by being multi purpose, and what husband doesn’t like saving money on his wife’s habits?

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Turns out road running can get pretty boring after awhile and is why I turned to trail running among many other reasons. My first race was the Bridger Ridge Run in Bozeman, MT. It’s rated one of the top ten bucket list races by Trail Runners Magazine and its also rated one of the hardest races in the country. Once I realized I was capable of completing such a race without dying, my motivation went from simply staying in shape for hunting season, to an obsession with the sport. I’ve completed several trail races in the past years and my list keeps getting longer of new ones I’d like to try. If you have the right gear, the will, and shear determination, anything is possible. If your stuck and need some motivation, or a new direction with your fitness, or simply need to get your butt in gear because you drew a great tag this hunting season and it requires a LOT of physically demanding terrain. Then start trail running! Heck, even look me up and I can help you get started. Call the Prois gals, they will hook you up with some great gear for running and hunting. Most importantly, find something that you enjoy in the off season to keep you busy, and in shape! That way when hunting season comes around and that trigger finger gets unbearable, you know your in shape and ready at any moment!

 

An Adventure to Remember

By Prois Staffer Megan DeHaan
Some people leave marks on your heart more than others. It just so turns out we met more than a few in Florida. Southern Florida feels like a foreign country to me. Its full of swamps, farm ground surrounded by ditches of water, and its flat, but still for some reason every time you turn a “corner” you seem to find something new. There’s water everywhere, but you don’t dare dive in to cool off unless you want a limb bit off. We started the trip off helping out a trapper. There are few ways to hunt gators. One of them is buying a tag for trapping. You can be accompanied by a licensed trapper and go out and harvest live gators or shoot them to be taken back for meat/hides/etc. Almost nothing is wasted, and population control is essential to maintain a healthy balance. We got the front row experience! I was hooked.
 
We then ventured off to go hog hunting in the evening. We didn’t know what to expect other than we were going in a swamp buggy and we had hounds. I thought gator hunting was fun……this was better. Not only did we not have lights, but we didn’t have alligator/snake proof body suits. I only ponder the thought because as were running full speed in the dark chasing the guys and dogs in front of us sinking in water, tripping over brush, I start thinking what if I stepped on an alligator or something??? But the adrenaline rushing through my body told me not to worry and I kept running lifting my feet up hoping I didn’t trip….again. We get to the dogs, and the pig, my husband ran up and grabs the pig by the leg, flipped it over and the rest of us had to grab the dogs off before they got mauled.   By this point I was out of breath.  They told me to hold the pig down so they could tie it. Once the hog is tied its pretty much a sitting duck, just don’t get near its head…
Next, was fishing. We headed on down to the Everglades and went to the Ten Thousand Islands. Don’t let the name fool you, only a couple islands are even islands at all with only a couple places to stand. They’re all mangroves. You can’t just get out of the boat.  It’s all huge groves of trees that look like they’re just floating in the water. Bizarre! Our fishing guide takes us all through the “islands”.   At one point I thought we were going straight into some trees only to have to duck down into the small fishing boat and within a minute we were slowly weaving through a tunnel of mangroves and swamp in the middle of nowhere. The tunnels were miles long! You leave  one and enter into a secluded open water resembling a lake to fish some more. The only way out is through the tunnel system. It was beautiful, peaceful, and left me speechless just soaking it in. The fishing was great and of course I caught the biggest fish. A 35″ Snook! Everything we caught was catch and release, we didn’t catch anything we could keep. I was in paradise and I have the sunburn to prove it.
Air boats….I need one. Seriously…..I do. Those things are awesome! If I could just bring home a swamp buggy and an airboat I would be set. We got to take one out in the swamp and drive around. I had a permanent grin of my face the whole time. They can spin around on a dime! If you ever want an adrenaline rush that might be the ticket.
We had so much fun the first time out hog hunting we had to go for round two. Only this time was a little different. We ran a hog within the first 30 minutes. He was big, I mean big. I knew this because the guys that took us didn’t let me off the buggy this time without telling me to stay back. Not only did they say this, they made eye contact with me and made sure I heard them. The strike dog did its job and before I knew it all the commotion had settled down and while some were hog tying the rest of us were wondering where the blood was coming from? One of the dogs were bleeding pretty badly. Those teeth are more treacherous than they look. One little swipe could kill a dog. Luckily it was only a flesh wound. Did I mention how big that hog was? I couldn’t hardly lift him up for a picture, not to mention I had to balance him between my legs and stop him from whipping his head around at me.   It started drizzling…..we kept at it.  Within an hour it was pouring. Every single person on that buggy was drenched. Except for me! HA! I was smart enough to bring my Prois jacket with me and I was dry as a whistle…except for my legs. They were drenched. But, at least I was warm. I even stayed on the buggy after everyone got dropped off at one car in hopes we would go faster on the way back. Oh and you can add, mosquito proof to any Prois shirt. I never got bit through any shirt!
The last hoorah. We decided to give her one last try and go for a real big gator. And as luck would have it we found a monster. He was 12 ft. long and weighed over 450lbs. This guy must have been 100 years old! As soon as they see you they go under and they’re gone. You have to fish fo them and snag em up. After wrestling them down you either have to bring them ashore and tape their mouth shut or in this case (he was too big for comfort to do that) you shoot him first.  He showed his age. I’ve never seen such a giant dinosaur up close. My husband shot him with one shot and it took a truck to get him out of the water. Now that was a gator!! What a great way to finish up our trip.
I saved the best for last. The people we met there. We had the royal treatment the whole time. I’ve never met more hardworking, honest, all around great people. I feel honored to even had met them. I will never forget my experience and im already planning a time to go back. We made some lifelong friends that’s for sure.  If anyone is looking for a great place to go gator hunting and a once in a lifetime experience. Please look up Townsend & Sons Everglades Outfitters. You will not be disappointed I promise you they are some of the nicest people I have ever met and I consider them a part of my family. www.thegatorman.com 863-673-3783

A Buck to Rememeber

By Prois Staffer Megan DeHaan

What a crazy few weeks for bow season I’ve had. Probably the most emotional roller coaster I’ve ever been on this year after just getting back into the swing of things after having a baby last year. I’d put in many extra hours glassing, patterning, and hiring babysitters to watch the wee little ones and FINALLY it payed off! I saw this buck 2 times on my camera before season and thought I had him patterned only to be winded the very first day causing all the deer to change everything!  I went straight to town and got that all sorted out with just about every scent eliminating product they had. The next day I went out I saw nothing. The day after that my bow rest came loose and I couldn’t shoot as I drew back on my buck! MAN I was about ready to give up!

I gave it a rest for a few days and then kept going back in only to be disappointed. I thought I’d give it another try and with 20 minutes of shooting light left my buck came in at 35 yards… I shoot! My blood was pumping so fast, I was shaking, I couldn’t believe what just happened. I asked myself if I was dreaming.   It killed me to wait but I waited until 10 minutes after dark and went to find my arrow. Perfect blood! It only takes 5 minutes of tracking and I found him 100 yards from where I shot! I wore my Prois Ultra Hoodie with pride every day and loved how it wicked away sweat as I walked to my stand. On the cold evenings I wore my pullover and it worked perfectly! I LOVE how fitted the arms are so I don’t have to worry about it snagging when shoot. Thank you Prois soo much for making such a great line of camouflage, I will never go into the woods without it!

 

Girl’s Bear Hunt!!

By Megan DeHaan

I feel like few times in life you come across such an opportunity like the one I just had. I met a couple gals through a pro-staff we all used to be on a while back and after chatting it up for months and months we decided it would be fun to try and get together and go hunting. After months of planning and figuring out a way to get our schedules in line we finally set a date. We were going to take off into the Idaho wilderness on a “do it yourself, all girls, public land” bear hunt. I tell you what, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t sleep. All I was thinking about was getting to finally come face to face with these gals and having the opportunity to hunt together during our first meeting! When do you EVER get to do something like that? Well I sure as heck don’t have that many opportunities. Well I got to Idaho on a Tuesday evening and we picked up the other gal on Wednesday night and drove into camp. We were already having way too much fun. We talked about each others camo, shared hunting stories, talked about who should shoot first, laughed at ourselves, at each other. We finally got settled in a tried to sleep but I was wide awake the entire night. 5 am rolls around and we get up and head out on hike to the ridge line to start glassing. I tell you what, my new Generation-X system was phenomenal. It was incredibly windy and cold once we reached the top and it cut the wind and kept me warm. I never had to worry about the weather being to difficult because I new my camo was going to hold up. When the wind was howling I could pull up my hood and I loved how it zipped up around my face. I’m hooked.

We saw a medium sized black bear about 1270 yards across a pretty big canyon and after hiking around to the other side I realized that Northern Idaho was nothing like I expected. I’ve never seen more dense country in my life. You don’t realize it until your in it that its almost impossible to get around when what you thought was just “brush” turns out to be a thick dense jungle that constantly looks like a perfect house for a grizzly bear. Not that it was in the back of our mind the whole time, especially when your walking along a see huge piles of grizzly poop!! Turns out I was the only one with bear spray and ever since the designated leader for breaking trail. I’m still not sure if that was just a reflection of my value to the group! But I made sure the person behind me was ready and willing to shoot if necessary. Anyhow, we never did see that black bear again but on the way back down the mountain we saw a nice chocolate bear that never did give our first shooter a good vital shot. But I’d say it was still a successful day. Day two we got skunked. We did however shoot two grouse on day three while hiking around and one more the last day hunting. I knew these gals were going to leave a mark in my heart. We never did find another bear. However we saw plenty of wolf tracks, moose, elk ,deer, and bobcat tracks and we grew a friendship that will last a lifetime. My drive home was depressing and were already planning our next trip. And to top it off, they all want some Prois! Thanks again for making such a great line of camouflage gear, I will never leave the house without it!

Don’t worry, Megan bagged her 2013 Montana bear a week earlier and one heck of a buck this year too! -Prois

Megan's 2013 bear!