Thursday, January 11, 2018

Promoting Hunting, Not Yourself....

Everywhere you turn on social media you get bombarded with gear promotions.  People telling other people what camo to wear, what weapon to shoot, what caliber is the best, bla bla bla... Regardless of how helpful this information may be, the consistent feeling of being stuck in a commercial on the Outdoor Channel gets pretty old pretty fast.

Now we are seeing lots of pages, social media accounts, and even outdoor industry TV show producers putting out content condemning, mocking, or even humiliating people who promote hunting related products.  The semi-recent trend even addresses the culture of the "hunting industry" for belittling hunters who do not shoot big deer, who don't have the fancy gear, and the gym rat hunter phenomenon that has seemed to take over many of our social media feeds.  Topics such as these are being addressed and combated as being detrimental to the purpose and focus of what hunting truly is.  

In efforts to protecting "what hunting truly is" unfortunately many of these advocates are being hostile, confrontational, and belittling those who are doing a lot of good.  Now anyone who promotes any product is a "product pusher" or "part of the problem".  It is beginning to create a culture where if someone doesn't like something then automatically they are put down and talked bad about in attempts to establish a more elite group of hunters who all agree on the same thing 100% of the time.  If you don't agree with them or if you feel the product they promote is useless in your eyes then they are pathetic and shouldn't even be allowed on the internet!  haha come on people, how old are we? 

Hunting needs spokesmen and women... As much as we would love to hope and believe that Hunting is going to be around for ever just because it has always been part of our history, we have to accept the reality that Hunting is under attack and politicized for good and bad... Hunting celebrities play an important roll in advocating for hunting.  As much as you and I love it and depend on it for food, admit it...these hunting celebrities literally make a living, their whole career, through hunting.  I'm not talking about the few bad apples in the "hunting industry" who break hunting laws to shoot certain animals to get more views/likes/sponsors/etc. I'm talking about those who put their money where their mouth is.  They fight (in a professional way) with the anti-hunters, the politicians, the animal rights activists, and all of the other groups and people who are trying to take public land, gun rights, and hunting away from us.  So do you really think they are evil for having a commercial on an outdoor channel promoting a product they use? Yeah that person probably has a sponsorship... they get paid to use that products and say what that company wants them to say... but how else do you expect the hunting celebrities to create the status and career they need to advocate for the hunting community.

Now let me be clear here, there are A LOT of the hunting celebrities who have gotten into the habit of promoting themselves more than they are promoting hunting.  That is what Michael Waddell talks about on his social media rant he has posted.  This is the focus of my post... There is a HUGE difference between promoting a product and promoting yourself.  If the focus is to get likes, views, followers, or to push your views/standards onto someone else (such as size/age of the animal etc.) then it would be falling under the category of promoting yourself.  If the focus is to share a cool product, share information, share items that promote and support the hunting life style, then that would be the promotions that are conducive to the hunting community.  Check out Michael's video bellow:

Lets get a few things straight, if you promote a product and present it as it is the absolute best there is and EVERY OTHER PRODUCT SUCKS.... then what kind of standard/culture is being created?  I love my Game Gear camo but will be the first to admit it is what I choose to wear and use, but it isn't right for everyone.  As a hunting community we need to support, or at least tolerate, the fact that we are all different, we all have different needs and standards, as well as we all live differently.  I will never be able to afford SITKA gear nor do I have any desire to wear it.  Does that mean everyone who wears SITKA gear is stuck up, rich snob, egocentric d-bag? NO!!!! But this is what is happening on social media! To play the devils advocate, if you act like a stuck up, rich snob, or a egocentric d-bag, then people are going to be put off by you and how you act.  There are two sides to every situation and we have seen multiple examples of hunting celebrities who have let their ego get in the way of whats important.  Lets no pretend that everything is roses... Lets admit there are hunting celebrities and people on social media who are using certain products to promote themselves rather than promoting for the hunting community.  There are also ruthless keyboard warriors who belittle others who they don't agree with.

The facts are, you and I can't change what the hunting celebrities do or how they act.  What we do have control over is what you and I do on social media.  So, if your focus is to promote yourself, use products/companies to get YOUR name out there, or if you belittle others in attempts to make yourself look superior/better/or in some way better than the person you are making fun, then just know YOU are the one that is being a detriment in the hunting community.  It's not just one side or the other... It is both of you... You can promote gear without promoting yourself.  Yes you may gain followers through these promotional posts, but if it is your primary focus on social media to gain followers no matter the cost, then don't get upset when others call you out on it.  This includes the insta-famous accounts AND the meme pages... It is ALL for attention and regardless of how many followers you have on your side of the situation to back up your point, you know what you post and why you post it... Grow up, OWN YOUR ACTIONS past and present, and stop being so negative... 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Christmas Deadline 2017 and Cyber Monday

Just a quick post to share our last day to put in an order for Christmas will be December 5th 2017!!!!! Orders can be placed after that date, but they cannot be guaranteed to arrive before Christmas! 

Also another note, Cyber Monday (I guess that's a thing...) I'll make a discount/coupon code for my website to get 25% off all hats and 10% off hooded sweaters!  Hat discount code will be: CM25 and the discount code for the hooded sweaters will be CM10 Thank you all for the support!

Friday, October 27, 2017

2017 Spike Elk Hunt

As I this year's hunting season approached I caught myself daydreaming about my hopes and dreams as to how I would like this year to pan out.   I envisioned bugling bull elk screaming in the dark ask I patiently inched myself into his element waiting for the lighting to bring a vision to images I had painted in my mind.  While I dreamed about this moment I put in work in attempts to do all I could to make this dream become a reality.  I have been around and involved in many successful hunts and have seen some amazing bull elk hit the ground, yet when was it going to be my turn?  When would I be the one behind the bow or grabbing the horns of a recent harvest?

Numerous trail cameras, hikes, scouting trips, and research all before season opener caused myself more anxiety than I feel it had prepared me for the season.  The area I had planned on hunting had far less sign of elk than previous years.  I often saw more boot tracks than I did elk tracks.  I saw coyotes and found winter kill almost every time I went out.   Through the despair I was feeling I endured my doubt and still sought out after the opportunity I had thought of all year long.  I had hunts which were full of disappointment as well as hunts which kept my drive a focus at an ultimate high while still never filling my tag.  While my dreams were big, my exceptions were quite low.  I had committed to shooting the first elk, no matter what size, as I had my family and their needs at my focus

As archery season came and gone I had seen a few elk but had never gotten close enough for to seize the opportunity.  I had one brief false sense of hope one day as I was driving off the mountain as I spotted a calf elk feeding on a small bush about 40 yards off the road.  I doubted my mind as I thought there was no way a elk, even a calf elk, would be feeding this close to a road.  I stopped my vehicle, found my release, grabbed my bow, stepped off the road, knocked an arrow, and let one fly.... I was baffled and confused but what happened next confused me even more.  As I watched my arrow fly true and pass through the calf elk, the elk merely flinched and took half a step forward... I literally shook my head, knocked another arrow and pulled back again.  By then the elk trotted a few steps and laid down.  As confused as I was, I decided I would place another arrow to quicken what I had hoped would already be a quick death for this calf.  Shortly after my second arrow, I could see the breathing stop, I was excited yet unsure about my experience.  It was nothing as to what I had hoped to have felt nor was it the monumental moment I had prepared for all year long.  Upon further examination, I found that this calf had two large wounds which were literally crawling with maggots.  The stench of the elk was almost more than I could handle.  My heart sunk as my already less than glamorous elk was now not even edible as to why I had committed to shooting the first elk I was able to.  I called IDFG and took care of the process of reporting and exchanging the rotten elk for a new tag.  I remember vividly, as I grabbed my new tag, the doubts filling my mind saying, "what good is a second tag... I was lucky to even get one elk let a lone get a second one this year".  I am not one of those hunters who shoot a big bull every year and then go out and purchase a non-resident tag to go out and harvest a second "wall hanger" during the same season.  I was full of doubt yet committed myself to seeing this season through.  I was raised to never give up and to never quit, and that was exactly what I was going to do.

As the General Any Weapon Season rolled around I did the unthinkable... yes I took a day off work... I selfishly sought out to fulfill my own desires rather than being an adult and taking care of the daily responsibility list.  I rarely take a day off work to go hunting, not because I don't want to, but because my days off usually get used for other adult/parent responsibilities which I am not complaining about, they are just part of life.

Early that morning as I loaded up my vehicle I decided I was in now way coming home empty handed.  I loaded my shot gun, a few duck decoys, my waders, my fishing poles, as well as all of my hunting gear.  I planned out my hunt in my mind, I would chase elk until around 11 and then head back to my vehicle.  At that point I planned on driving to the river and either shooting ducks or catching fish so that I could at least provide dinner on my day off work.  Needless to say, my hopes for tagging an elk were almost non-existent. 

As I pulled into the area I wanted to hunt, I slowly got out of my vehicle and grabbed my gear.  As I was strapping on my backpack I heard bugling in the distance.   My level of excitement always rises when I hear elk bugle while my level of expectation as been able to subside to prevent disappointment.  With the sounds of bugling all around me while I hiked in the dark, my expectations were growing in anticipation of watching some big bulls battling it out as the sun came up.  I hiked for a few miles in the dark and got to the spot I wanted to be right when the sun came up.  I could hear elk above me, below me, and on the ridges all around me.  I began to hear the loud cracking and grunting of two bull elk fighting.  The sounds were as loud as thunder and I could tell I was within only 100 yards or so of what sounded like an epic battle.  The sun was just peaking over the ridge line as I slowly moved toward the loud and escalating confrontation.   I could see glimpses of the two bulls aggressively spinning around while their antlers rattled together.  I crept up to a vantage point where I was able to sit back and watch the two bulls continue their battle.  As I sat back and enjoyed the show I saw cow elk wandering through the trees and other small bull elk gaze on much like I was as the two large bull elk established which of the two were the herd bull. 

At this point I was so engrossed in the show that I nearly forgot why I was there in the fist place.  I looked across the opening to my left and saw two spike elk walk out of the trees in curiosity of all the commotion.  I turned and raised my rifle to get a better look and the two spike elk both caught my movement and stared in my direction.  With absolutely no cover between us, I knew that the distance would not be negotiable.  I ranged the two elk at 370 yards and my nerves jumped to an all time high.  I had practiced out to 400 yards, but my furthest shot I had ever taken on an animal was just under 300 yards.  I felt confident in my preparation and decided to take advantage of the moment I had been given.  I set my cross-hairs on the front shoulder of one of the spike elk and slowly squeezed the trigger.  I watched the elk flinch as my shot hit him in the lungs.  The elk bolted down hill toward a shallow canyon and then disappear.  I gathered my composure and took of in his direction.  As I got closer to the spot where I had last seen him, I started seeing blood and plenty of it.  I moved in the direction I saw him go and quickly came upon him bedded down.  He jumped up and took off as I fired another round in his direction. 

As I saw his body fall lifeless to the ground, the realization that I had finally filled my elk tag started to creep into view.  I walked up to my elk and placed my hands on him, I was filled with a mix of emotions.  As much as I wanted to shoot an elk for myself and fulfill my own desires as a hunter, the only thing that was running through my mind was how humbled and grateful I was that my family now had the meat we so badly needed.  Our freezer was nearly empty, which may not seem like much of a tragedy to some, but my family has so many food allergies and sensitivities, we rely heavily on wild game for our food.  I reached for my phone to let my loved ones and friends know I had harvested an elk.  Phone calls and text messages sent which were all received with the same humility and gratefulness that I myself was feeling.  I said a prayer of gratitude as I grasped the skinny horns of the young spike elk and realized that my dreams and hopes of tagging a big bull elk were merely an illusion of what my heart truly wanted.  What I wanted was to harvest the elk God wanted me to harvest.  As I still would love to shot a big bull elk, I now see that my experience of harvesting that young calf elk which was full of maggots earlier in the season, as well as my previous years of unfilled tags were all preparing me in one way or another to set my goal on harvesting the elk God gave me rather than the elk I see in magazines.  My time will come for a big bull, and until then I will harvest the elk God gives me in the moments he provides me.  With that as my focus, I will always be grateful for the experience regardless of where my tag is at the end of the season. 

Why I hunt