Monday, July 14, 2014

#HuntingHairProbs Silenced by HerNonScents

This is me, Emily Anderson, with pre-hunting hair, just one day post shower. 

I can already see it happening ... 

Welcome to my hunting / scouting / mountain hair-do look.

Giving evidence that hunting season is just around the corner, guys begin to lay down the razor letting the hunting beard make an appearance mid-summer. The Hunting Beard is a good thing ... it lends to the excitement building towards opening day. In fact, I've already heard talk of who has started their beard, who will have the best hunting beard, etc. While men look forward to growing their built-in-camouflage on their face, aka the Hunting Beard, we ladies have a different dilemma come hunting season: 


Ladies, you know what I'm talking about!

Simply trying to figure out how we will control and maintain our mane during hunting season is no easy task. You see, we are also proud of our hair, but rather than display or show it off during hunting season, we simply want to make it through hunting season without completely ruining it. Hours spent out in the mountains without brushing wind-tortured hair, then not washing it for days, takes a toll. Hats, beanies, and do-rags quickly become our friends, and we find ourselves eyeing the nearby stream for a chance to dunk our heads in, an attempt to wash some of the grease and dirt away.

It's always the same story... my hair eludes management attempts of being contained safely within the confinement of a braid. It always escapes and ends up a wild-tangled mess ... Hunting Hair. 

At the end of the day, I guess it just wants to tell the story of the adventures we went through together, and I end up looking like I belong to the grizzly mountain man standing next to me, who has not only been growing out his beard while living up on the mountain all month long, but actually encouraged it to grow wildly in all sorts of directions by refusing to comb it.  (Sorry, Troy, you know it's true!)

Along with taking a beating from the elements each hunting season, my hair goes through the shock of non-moisturizing, unscented soap-like shampoo applied only once or twice a week (if I'm lucky), in an effort to remain scent-free. It doesn't work very well. My hair quickly becomes a ball of tangled mess at the ends, with scalp-grease working it's way down from under my baseball cap. You're beginning to picture and understand women's hunting hair issues.

Please do yourself a favor and never.

I mean never.

Remove a gal's baseball cap during hunting season. It's not pretty.

All that to say - I am extremely excited this year to have a new scent free, salon quality product packed in my hunting bag. My new favorite hair product line has come to my rescue, and it's called ...


HerNonScents is a stylist created scent free product line, specifically designed for the huntress. The passion for providing the highest quality scent free products on the market, shines through in their family owned and operated business, based out of Dublin, Georgia.

I first heard about their company earlier this year, and quickly did some research to see what they were all about. I love supporting small businesses, and was happy to see that I immediately had a connection with how their journey began. I especially liked the statement on their website regarding their philosophy on instilling qualities in the next generation ... "Raising them to have respect for Gods creations, teaching them that hard work pays off and if you shoot it or catch it, you eat it!" Amen to that, Jessica!

About a week before SHOT show in Vegas, I emailed Jessica and inquired about their product line. A few days later, I had my hands on their sample pack and was excited to try out the product. It was perfect timing! I brought the HerNonScents travel pack with me out to Vegas and tested out the shampoo, conditioner and bodywash. Granted, I wasn't hunting out in Vegas, but I simply wanted to know ... was line truly salon-quality as they stated. I was more than impressed! My hair was silky smooth and easy to maintain. 

So ... while all you guys out there are getting excited about your beard growth, in preparation for hunting season, the ladies now have something to be excited about also!

Since the guys are beginning their beard growth competitions, I wanted to come up with something fun for the ladies. Plus, I want to share my joy, and let you experience this fabulous product for yourself! Sooo .... If you want silky smooth hair during hunting season, I have a travel pack to give away!!  Here is what you need to do to enter ....

Post a picture on IG or FB that best displays your Hunting Hair, or ways you've covered up your hair while hunting. We'll pick the most deserving huntress based on the pictures submitted. Creativity or just pure awful hair pics, may get extra points. Dig through those hunting photos and enter Now!  (Winner will be selected next week)


  1. Post your pictures on Instagram (IG), or our Facebook (FB) page
  2. Include the hashtag #HuntingHairProbs
  3. Tag @FromtheDraw on your pictures so we can find them ... or just leave a comment below with a link to your picture. Simple!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mountain Running: Lessons from a First Time Marathoner

This last weekend I crossed another item off my bucket list:  Complete a Marathon.

I can now proudly say I've done that, and also have an extra sense of accomplishment knowing my first race was a tough one ... the highest marathon in the nation, in the historic mining town of Leadville, CO. The course was beautiful and wound it's way through the mountains just above town, crossing melting snow run-off and reaching the highest elevation point of 13,185 ft.

Once again shortly after crossing the finish-line, through tears of joy and pain, the first words out of my mouth were, "I did it! But I'm not sure I'll ever do it again. Remind me how bad that hurts when I think about signing up for the next one." Those words are short lived because I'm already looking at the Leadville 100 mile race, simply out of curiosity.

As a first time marathoner, I thought I'd share some of my lessons learned:

SALT IS YOUR FRIEND.  I'll admit that if I have the choice of salty snacks over sweet snacks, salty usually wins the guilty pleasure snack attack. However, when pushing through intense workouts, I've never thought, "A handful of potato chips sure sounds good right now." Last year, while running the Pikes Peak Ascent 1/2 marathon, I eyed the baskets of potato chips at each aid station curiously, while opting for a handful of grapes. Why would anyone want chips as a fuel choice?!?  Oh... the things I have yet to learn.

Around mile four last weekend, I found myself reaching for my right calve muscle that cramped up as I slightly twisted my ankle going up one of the first incline series. The muscle was an instant ball of tightness. It felt like it twisted up in a knot around my shin, and was not going to let go. Instant looks of sympathy were given to me and two nice guys stopped immediately to ask if I was okay.  I remember leaning over and hanging on to one of them, so I didn't fall down. The other kindly offered me a salt tablet and said, "If you are cramping already, you need to eat this now!" He handed me a salt pill and said, "Bite down on this and wash it down with water.  It will be salty as hell, but your muscles need it." He was right ... pure salt filled my mouth and I did my best to swallow all the salt. I'm not lying when I say, that almost instantly the muscle cramps went away. Granted, I was slowly stretching them out, but I was able to push through and get to the top of that incline. The rest of course, as I passed by aid stations, I was grabbing a handful of potato chips and licking the salt off as I proceeded down the trail. YAY for salt!

The reason why your muscles need salt? Read This.

  There really is something to knowing what lies ahead and mentally preparing for the race ahead of time. Starting at 10,200 feet, with 6,333 feet of elevation gain throughout the course, I knew that I had to pace myself. There were cut-off times at mile 16 and mile 19. While actually experiencing the course is the best option to knowing what to expect, I was thankful that I had studied the map course and elevation map ahead of time. After reaching the highest point at Mosquito Pass at the turnaround point, I knew that I only had to push through a 2.6 mile climb and the rest of the course was relatively downhill.

If you aren't able to actually run the course ahead of time, do all you can to study the course online or glean from those who've already completed the race. Ask questions ... Is the trail rocky? Will you be crossing streams? Is it paved?

One thing I think I'd do differently, if I did this race again ... train more for the incline. Honestly, my lung capacity wasn't an issue. Although that could be that I'm used to altitude and it's never really bothered me. I need to train my leg muscles better ... I'd love to be able to push through some of these inclines, with less cramping and maybe actually run more of the steep sections. Correction. Jog slowly.

ENJOY THE VIEW.  I knew I wasn't trying to set a speed record; I just wanted to finish! Therefore, I had my cell phone in hand the entire course. Granted, I was living on the edge slightly because I carried it screen-saver-less. I did drop it once too... up towards the top of Mosquito pass. Yikes!
View just prior to Mosquito Pass Climb

Having my phone handy allowed me to quickly snap some pictures along the way. It also allowed me to check my time along the course, keeping me on track to meet the cut-off times.

I think next time, I'd prefer to wear a wrist watch, allowing me to keep track of time. Then as an alternative to carrying my phone, I'd find shorts or top that allowed me to keep my phone snugly tugged in place, just in case I wanted to access it for a snap shot or quick text to family waiting at the finish line.

MAKE FRIENDS.  Running a trail marathon in the mountains provides the opportunity to quickly become friends with those who are experiencing the pain alongside you, I mean ... thrill of running the trail alongside you. Most of the uphill climbs become a fast hike, allowing everyone to catch their breath, and even chit chat while keeping pace. The usual questions, before the conversation thins out in correlation to the air toward the top, are usually ... "Have you run this race before?" and "Where are you from?" Those from Colorado or a mountain state quickly feel sorry for those who traveled from lower altitudes.  I also answered the question several times, "Why in the world did you choose this race as your first marathon?"

ENCOURAGEMENT IS CONTAGIOUS.  By the time I reached mile marker 10, I knew that the next 3-4 miles were going to be treacherous. Boy was I right! Head down and each step up the mountain, I started a little chant in my head ... "At least I don't have an elk on my back. At least I don't have an elk on my back." Towards the top of Mosquito pass, I must have had a look on my face that read, "Am I there yet?" because several times, I heard form those making their way down the switchbacks, "Just a little bit further" or "You've got this - keep going!" After reaching the top and making my journey down the switchbacks, I quickly returned the favor to those still making their journey upwards. It felt good to offer that encouragement. I was just in their shoes moments ago and was pulling for them to not give up.

INVEST IN GOOD SHOES.  Two and half weeks before toeing the starting line, I decided that I needed different shoes. I had purchased a pair of HOKA ONE ONE shoes several months ago, in an effort to save my feet. They are wonderful shoes, and I'd highly recommend them. The only problem is that I realized after completing a rocky trail run with steep inclines and downhill slopes, I probably needed something with a little more traction. I purchased the more aggressive trail running version HOKA offered. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to sufficiently break them in prior to the race. It was risky, but I lucked out ... my feet didn't bother me once during my run! The quality of these shoes are amazing. They definitely were worth the money. I've struggled on and off this last year with healing from plantar fasciitis. I can honestly say, my feet felt great during the entire course!

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF - I can't tell you how many times I wanted to curl up in a ball and just be done. I was mad at mile four when my leg cramped up because I was not ready to be done, but not sure if my body would let me keep going. The climb to Mosquito pass was grueling. Reaching the last aid station at just over mile 20 meant I could carefully navigate my way downhill over the rocky trail with just around 5 miles to the finish line. However, even with the mostly downhill, it was a mental effort to stay on course and keep moving. My legs were trashed. At one point, I even crossed over a tape line and veered off-course onto another trail. I have no idea why. I was heads down, probably reminding myself I wasn't carrying an elk, trying to conquer the last little hill before I could run 2 miles into town. Thankfully, a fellow runner quickly said, "Aren't you going the wrong way?" I looked up, smiled and laughed. I quickly said, "thank you" and was back on track. A 1/2 dozen or so of us were spread out now within several hundred yards.  The finish line was near.  A dash of determination and Norwegian stubbornness took over and I began running toward town ... every muscle burning and begging me to end the torture. I knew I could make it. One step in front of the other.
"Your better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can." 
Ken Chlouber - Founder of the Leadville Trail 100

I've you've ever contemplated running a race like this, I'd encourage you to go for it! Trust me, it's worth the pain. The pain will subside, but the memories will last. Knowing that you accomplished something great is a feeling no one can take away. In fact, it will keep you moving, pushing, and reaching for the next goal. So, my question to you is simply ... What are you waiting for?

"Dig deep into that inexhaustible well of grits, guts and determination."
Ken Chlouber - Founder of the Leadville Trail 100

Friday, June 6, 2014

When Frost Melts into Hope

To freeze a moment in time, until the joy overwhelms the sojourner ~ we've all longed for the possibility. The beauty of life sweeps over and the allure of drinking in the moment, causes eyes to be closed in an effort to relish the seconds before they multiply, slipping from present to past. Almost dream-like, the mist passes over, leaving a frost-laden kiss of the moment. With heavy breath, Jack Frost does his best to freeze the moment in time, yet it's a futile attempt to lasso the grains of sand as they slip through the hourglass. As eyes open once again, the joy is prolonged only by the impressions left on the heart.

It's the first cry from a newborn. A lightning flash. Morning light dancing across mountain tops. A finish line crossed. A last kiss. The splash of Northern Lights in the night sky. A bull elk's bugle. A fresh blanket of snow. The release of an arrow. A final goodbye. A shooting star. The laugh of a loved one. The list goes on ...

Momentary beauty is but a glimmer;

It lingers, and then slips away.

With a hunger to write the next chapter

History seemingly wins day.

Not to be outdone, Future pulls forward,

allowing hope of a beauty

that someday will never fade away.

We grasp, willing time to stand still a bit longer.  Pressing down on the hands of time, only creates the illusion that we have the power to stop the spinning.  The onward progression towards the future wins, while History simultaneously reaches for the present.  It's a battle.  Or is it?  It's more like a story. One that we write each day ... one we all play a part in.

What fascinates me about time is how hope weaves a pattern through it. While there's an important balance of cherishing the little things that make up life, allowing us to live in the moment, the value of hope for the future can't be overlooked. Life is so much more than living for the moment. There is something to be said about slowing down and learning to appreciate the little things in life, but I think there is incredible worth in looking forward to what lies ahead ... it is what allows the story to continue, encompassing hope.

The hunter knows this rhythm well. The release of an arrow finds it's mark. A moment of joy surrounds the hunter, clouding all of the hard work it took to get to there. Time appears to be eclipsed by the momentary thrill of success. A season ends just as quickly in that moment, and in the next breath the following season is eagerly anticipated. Great planning and preparation is made for what lies ahead. Hope for a bigger buck, another story, and future memories lie waiting on the horizon.  The next story is waiting for the hunter to step into, so he counts the days.
"Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
~Psalm 90:12
But I'm not really referring to hunting. It's a nice illustration and one that I relate to well. I've been contemplating lately how we all look forward to these little events in life .. the next hunting season, a promotion, a well-earned vacation, life-milestones, etc. Honestly, sometimes it is what gets us through the day. The next adventure or whatever it is we hope for, pushes us on, providing excitement to reach that goal or hoped for moment, somewhere just around future's bend.  I think God gives us these things in life to look forward to, as a glimpse of ... what it looks like to have hope for something more. There's a longing placed deep within in our hearts, fueled by Hope. It is what drives us forward because we want to see what is around the next bend in life.  After all, "hope that is seen is no hope at all."  So we press on.
"Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see"
~Hebrews 11:1
Beloved reader, my challenge to you is simply this ... Remember to hold loosely to the joy of the now, while resting in the assurance of the hope on the horizon. Press on. Write your story well, with the knowledge that the best is yet to come. Having faith in that assurance is up to you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Trains, Thunderstorms and Tow Ropes

Walking along train tracks and crossing old, worn down "bridges" parallel to train trestles, caused memories of younger years to come flooding back, where careless teenagers gave in to the temptation to jump from trestles into a river below. A whistle sounds in the distance, breaking the silence of the morning and giving warning of an approaching train. We journey on, making tracks to reach the top pasture before daybreak. Being careful to open and close the gate quietly, we cross over into the designated pasture. A gesture that almost seems laughable considering the screeching train that has just rumbled down the tracks above.

This was just one of the sequence of events from our recent turkey hunt in Kansas that will remain embedded in my mind. Memories of younger years somehow clashed with the present, as I remember the joy of being a carefree teenager, daydreaming in pastures, throwing rocks into a river below, and walking by train tracks. Now, this sequence of events, will cause new memories to come flooding back as Spring approaches each year. Memories of a recent turkey hunt. A hunt that ended with me shooting my first turkey.

This is the story of trains, thunderstorms and tow ropes ... 

Earlier this year, Troy and I were invited to come with our friend Jeff and hunt his family's property in eastern Kansas. On Friday afternoon, as close of business rolled around, I was out of the office door at 5:00 on the dot. The guys were waiting for me at the house with a loaded down truck full of turkey decoys, shot guns, bows, blinds, etc. A weekend of hunting memories was waiting on us and we were anxious to start writing that story. As the highway miles added up, stories of previous road trips were easily recalled. Jeff, Troy and I have known each other for awhile; days of Chris Ledoux, rodeos, and bull riding had brought us together years ago, but this road trip was leading us to a different kind of rodeo. Now the entry fee to play only cost the price of a turkey tag.

Upon arriving at the ranch late Friday night, we stepped out of the truck, took a deep breath of country air, which smelled like grass, blooming trees and cow feed all jumbled together. The cattle lingered next to the feeding trough, as the moonlight shone down on them. Someone closed their truck door just loud enough for a turkey roosted in a nearby tree to shock gobble in response. Our hearts skipped a beat, and moon beams danced off lit up eyeballs.

Introductions to Jeff's family were made and stories rolled off tongues, as thick as the mud kicked off our boots, collected from the short trek in from the truck to the back door.  Guns, whiskey, brands, hunting ... on and on it went. By now, it was well past midnight and the roosted turkey in the tree just outside the door was still on my mind. I gave in and called it a night. I think the guys stayed up until well past 2:00 AM before crawling into bed.

We all moved a little slower than anticipated in response to the 5:00 wake-up call on Saturday morning. As a result, when we attempted to make our way into the first tree line in the pasture across the road from the ranch house, the turkeys beat us to it. We were caught and decided to carefully set up our decoys in Steve's front yard! We laughed at how funny this looked and also chuckled because all night Steve had been teasing us about the fact that a big 'ol Tom kept visiting his garden; therefore, hanging out on the porch might be the best idea instead of going out and doing all this "hunting stuff." We ended up watching three huge Toms cross the back of the pasture as they chased a couple hens through the tree line. They apparently weren't interested in picking corn seed out of Steve's garden that morning.

The rest of the day, we chased those darn turkeys all around the ranch. Convinced that it wasn't all for naught, we made ourselves feel better and decided we now have a good feel for lay of the land, and figured out the turkey's routine. In all honesty, we laughed a lot at ourselves at all the mistakes we made, and the fact that we could give great advice on how not to turkey hunt. There's a lot we could have done better, but that's part of the experience and fun of the hunt.

For example ...

We decided after a few unsuccessful set ups, it would be smart to try splitting up and increasing our odds. Jeff headed to the North, while Troy and I made our way to the South. Not long after Troy and I nestled into the tree line, we saw several turkeys feeding in the next pasture. They eventually moved on and we were left wondering if we should circle back and move to a different location. As we turned around, there was Jeff, walking down the ravine headed our way. Up above him, out of his view, were several turkeys walking along the ridge. I motioned to Troy to alert Jeff that turkeys were up above him. Jeff was oblivious. Finally Troy stood up and motioned for Jeff to stop. However, he then proceeded to perform a turkey dance mixed with random hand signals to alert Jeff. Troy's re-enactment had me rolling! There was Troy, trying to keep Jeff from spooking the turkeys, yet he was flapping his arms, squatting like a turkey and putting his hand on his chest, moving it up and down, which I could only guess meant that one of the turkeys had a tow rope hanging from his chest. Where was the video camera for this impromptu turkey charade moment in the woods?!

As we finally laid our heads down on Saturday night, rolling thunder in the distance lulled us to sleep. However, not even thunderstorms looming in the distance could keep us from jumping out of bed the next morning. We learned our lesson the previous day and were ready to get in the woods well before sun up. Adding to the excitement was the fact that we'd put a turkey to bed the night before. In fact, we tore down our blinds and reset them up in the dark to get in the best position for the morning. That was an experience in itself!  As the storm kicked up, I started to worry a bit if perhaps finding a storm shelter might be a better idea then huddling in a blind. At the first crack of thunder, we quickly learned that we were tucked in our blinds almost directly under not one, but several roosted turkeys. The storm kicked up, along with the crescendo response of the thunder / gobble chorus echoing through the turkey woods, followed with an exclamation point of lightening after each interlude. Eventually the turkeys flew down from their roost and as the storm raged, all we could hear and see was rain pounding down around us.

Once the storms past, we regrouped and decided to head to the top pasture later that afternoon. A lazy river flowed through a deep ravine, below us. We guessed that the turkeys that disappeared in far pasture yesterday, flew up to this secluded pasture above, a corner pocket of land, tucked next to the train tracks and out of view from the nearest road. The plan worked because after a short calling sequence, the first turkey snuck in on us. Again, cue up the "how not to turkey hunt" instructions because we were reading straight out of that play book!  For some reason we second guessed our set up, and after placing the decoys in the open pasture above, we decided to face the section of land that stretched to the ravine below. Yes, you read that correctly. We were not facing our decoys. Turkey hunting basics 101 ... face your decoys! Anyway, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. My peripheral vision picked up four young Toms making their way RIGHT THROUGH our decoys, only 20 yards from where we were sitting. (Stop laughing. Okay - laugh. We already have.) I slowly tried to switch positions and get my shot gun pointed at the biggest Jake, but they kept moving away with the same speed as my shot gun. By the time Jeff realized what was going on, they were on his side of the tree, but now Troy was right in the middle between Jeff and the turkeys. Jeff slowly moved into position, waiting for the turkeys to make their way safely past Troy. From my angle, all I could see was turkeys behind Troy and Jeff eyeing the turkeys walking behind Troy. I kept whispering loudly ... "Don't shoot Troy! Jeff, don't shoot my husband!" Troy simply covered his ears and mouthed the words, "#$%!"(Well, I can't repeat exactly what he said.) The turkeys didn't read the cue cards, or maybe they did, because they continued right up the hill behind Troy, never giving Jeff a safe shot on the other side of Troy.

Our Monday morning hunt brought with it hopes of not going home empty handed. We had one more chance before throwing in the towel. We decided we wanted revenge on the turkeys that snuck up on us the day before. This time, Jeff and I sat against the same tree. I had an 180 degree view of one side, and Jeff had the other 180 degrees covered. Not long after settling in, four turkeys made their way along the ridge on Jeff's side of the tree. It was a different group of turkeys than yesterday - all shooters! He was able to pull off a 40+ yard shot and dropped the biggest turkey of the group. For the first time, I got to see up close how big these birds really are. It was my first time experiencing a turkey kill. What an amazing medley of ugly and beautiful ~ truly an amazing animal!
Jeff's 2014 KS Rio
A mixture of emotions washed over me as we left the ranch that Monday. I was thrilled to have had a chance at a turkey, experienced the joy of being with Jeff as he shot his first multiple-beard turkey, and once again enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. However, I'll admit that I was sad to have an unpunched turkey tag safely tucked in my pocket once again.

Fast forward to a few weeks later.  An impromptu weekend hunt was about to unfold ...

Troy finagled a last-minute trade, allowing him to get the weekend off.  We were headed back to Kansas for a quick Sat / Sun hunt. This time, I was able to sneak out of work a little earlier on Friday, which allowed us to roll into the ranch as the sun was slipping down over the horizon. Once again, a turkey was roosted right across the road from the ranch house. However, this time everyone knew that once the 5:00 alarm went off, we had to make tracks and get set up before the first crack of dawn. By the time the sun slowly swept across the horizon, we were already nestled against the bases of trees, waiting for the first gobble. Almost on cue, a chorus of gobbles and clucks filtered down from the trees above. Then, not long after... flap, flap, swoosh, and we were watching turkeys make their way into the field below. The only problem ... they flew down into the neighbor's 80 acres that we didn't have permission to hunt on. So we waited and hoped the turkeys would make their way towards us and cross over the fence.

After a while they slipped out of our line of vision. Jeff cautiously made his way to the fence to see if they were still in the field and if we could move up the fence line to put us in better position, if they crossed over. A tree stand made for a quick way to scope out the situation. Sure enough the Tom and his hens were on the Northern edge, and he was strutting around showing off for the ladies. Jeff grabbed the decoys and whispered, "Let's get this bird!" Careful to stay close to the ground, we worked our way up the pasture, dodging fresh cow pies. Troy was left with the camera in the last section of cover, while Jeff and I crawled onward. At the last bush along the fence line we watched and waited. Nerves almost got the best of me, as I watched through my Hawke sport optics and realized that the bird we were now chasing was probably the biggest one on the ranch. Jeff then looked at me, and smiled saying ...

"This bird has a TOW ROPE! We are getting this turkey. 
I want him dead, and you are going to kill him!"

We sat and watched as he finally made his way back onto Steve's property, maybe a 100 yards off. At one point we thought we might be able to pull him off his hens, as he cautiously looked our way, but then proceeded to cut away from us to the edge of the property. As Mr. Tow Rope proceeded to head towards the road, Jeff got excited. I was confused. The conversation went something like this ...

"Here's the plan, Emily:  We are going to RUN back to the house, get permission to hunt the neighbor's property across the road, unload our shot guns, pile in the car, drive over there and cut this turkey off. I want this bird dead. I'm tired of him messing with us. It's going to work."

I smiled and promptly replied, "You're crazy, Jeff. That's not going to work, but it sounds fun. Let's try it!"

Troy simply hook his head as we grabbed the decoys and ran through the pasture.

Upon reaching the house, we were a sweaty mess. I made quick time of unloading my gun, tossing gear in the trunk and climbing in the back of the back seat of the car, placing my now cow-pie laden boots strategically on the floor mats. Within seconds, Jeff was running from the house with a smile now spreading from ear to ear, giving away the good news ... permission granted!

The plan was coming together. I am not starting to believe this might actually work. As we drove down the road, those turkeys had pitched over to the field below and were working towards the tree line. We drove on ahead and piled out about 100 years in front of them. Troy whipped out the video camera, as Jeff and I quickly loaded shot guns. I grabbed my heads up decoy, knowing that Mr. Tow Rope would not like another Tom messing with his girls. I glanced back to see both Jeff and Troy simultaneously motion for me to go for it, except they both wanted me to belly crawl. On the side of the road. What? That is not happening. I figured if I couldn't see the turkeys yet, then they couldn't see me. I opted to duck walk up the road to keep my profile low. In my mind, I was thinking, "Oh dear Lord, I really hope that a car doesn't drive by about now." I'm sure I looked hilarious, but I didn't care. If hilarity meant a dead bird in a few minutes, I was okay with that. Shot gun in one arm and decoy in the other, with my butt low to the ground, I waddled as fast as possible up the side of the road. As I reached the edge of the pasture, I knew it was time to start belly crawling, down the ditch and up to the ledge. As I crested the ledge, through the weeds, I could see "Tow Rope" about 60-70 yards off ... strutting his stuff.

Then I heard, "Putt!" and a hen's head pops up within a few feet of where I'm laying.  "Putt, putt"

Going through my head about now is the thought, "Oh Emily ... either make something happen quickly or you are about to get busted!!"

Mrs Put Putt's boyfriend is now starting to get nervous and begins to walk away. I slowly raise up the Heads Up decoy to get his attention. Boy did it ever! He took one look at the Tom right next to his hen and got all kinds of upset. He turned, and proceeded to walk towards me in a huff. I then realized I had a Tom coming my way fast and it was time to put the decoy down and get the gun up. Bead on the head ... Boom! As soon as my gun went off and I saw "Tow Rope" take a nose dive in the dirt, I dropped my gun and ran as fast as I could into the ditch by the road. I had just killed my first turkey and it was a big one!

Mr. Tow Rope is dead.
Shoot out to Heads Up Decoy - pulled in my first turkey nicely!
1 1/4 inch spur and 1 inch spur (tip was broken off 2nd spur)
Emily's first turkey - Kansas Rio
Beard = 11 1/2 inches

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Turkey Hunting Tale of Sprite's Land

Three hours past midnight, the alarm sounds, marking the beginning of the day's events. Sleep is quickly wiped away from the hunter's eyes. An adventure is about to unfold, she is sure of it. She doesn't mind the early rising, because it means arriving at the base of a tree, shot gun in tow, before a sleeping bird roosted above has a chance to detect the base of the tree is now wider and longer than the day before. As a reward for being willing to chase the early morning hours, before they slip into the shadows and give birth to the first rays of light, she now leans against the security of a tall pine and waits eagerly for the day to awaken. In silence, she waits.

Patches of snow give evidence of a recent spring storm in the mountains, leaving the only foot prints between the hunter and the truck parked just off the road. In walking in that morning, sounds of broken snow shattered the silence. In response to the crunch, a dozen or so eyeballs met the hunter as a family of deer looked up from their morning snack of new growth on the forest floor.

A quick text to a friend to verify the location, and she is sure that the spot over-looking an open meadow might be the lucky location for a first turkey kill. A fence line, sprinkled with unblemished no trespassing signs, warned to go no further than the first clearing. With the wind picking up, dampening the sounds of any nearby gobbles, she strains to hear the first call. All is silent, except for the wind whistling past pine branches and whipping the loose strands of hair that escaped from the braid under her camouflage hat.

A nearby private section of ground was just due east of her location. Clearly marking the claimed land, a fence line stitched a seam into the land, and making sure to be respectful of the owner, she faces away toward public land. A great roosting tree was just over that line, giving proof that the turkeys seemed to know where the safety zone was located each night. Maybe, just maybe, a turkey would wander out of the safety zone this morning.

The hunter settles in, and waits. The business of life attempts to ruin the tranquility of the moment. Not used to sitting in silence, without an agenda, no meetings, phones to answer or "to do lists" to cross off, the waiting almost becomes a chore. Almost. It is peaceful and the sounds of the forest quickly wash over a tired soul. Just as she is letting it all sink in ...

An unsuspected sound cuts through the morning air. 

In a moments notice, a figure appears on the hill above. The sound of a round loaded into a handgun is as clear as day, which become mixed up in muffled, unclear words about trespassing and being on private land. She methodically stands up, showing her shotgun and taking off her face mask slowly. Once the man is within hearing distance, she apologizes and points out the fence line and yellow public land signs. Upon realizing that she didn't intend to trespass and had legitimately reviewed maps to respect his land, he was appreciative.

This was my experience two weeks ago, when I met Sprite, the hippie Indian. It's true ... he even showed me his driver's license! I got such a kick out of meeting a hippie Indian in the mountains. Who can say that?  However, I never imagined that the encounter would begin with having a gun pulled on me. No one wants to come face-to-face with that reality. I now know, in a small way, how I would react if someone pulled a gun on me, after Sprite threatened me that morning. I feel like I handled it appropriately, and read the situation well. Granted, he didn't hold a gun to my head or anything crazy like that, but the threat was apparent. Pulling the slide back and then waving it in my general direction was enough to get my attention.

I later learned, that the issue he had, was that the public land I was on, he said was annexed for a future build. He was gracious and brought me onto his property, introduced me to his wife, showed me maps, etc. I asked exactly where the annexed property was and let him know we would be back up in a couple of weeks. I felt like we left on good terms ... he even reassured me that if people would just talk to him, he'd show them around and let them know where the turkeys were. In my mind, I had done just that, made a friend who wouldn't bother me again during future turkey hunts ... we even stopped to chat with his wife as we drove down the road later that night.

After retelling my morning adventure to my friend, Jeff, who met me on the mountain to hunt turkeys that day, we became curious about the whole annex thing. He was also concerned about the gun incident, which I understand as a normal protective reaction that any guy would have.  This is also the reason I was hesitant to tell my husband, Troy ... I might never be allowed to hunt solo again! Since there was a local Forest Service building in town, we stopped in to get more information regarding the annexed land, get updated maps, verify boundaries, etc. We simply wanted to do the right thing, and make sure that we could still hunt the property to the North ... there was a section marked as public, but the fresh private property signs were a bit confusing. This is the side of the property that wasn't annexed. The law official at the Forest Service station mentioned that he didn't know anything about that land being annexed and would stop by Sprite's house to have a chat, to get the scoop.  He also mentioned to us that the yellow public land signs were legitimate because they had just recently surveyed the land, and as long as we stayed on the public side of the signs, we were fine.  It was our land. We thanked him and let him know we appreciated his time. Honestly, I felt good about the whole situation.

However, the story of Sprite continues ... a few days later, Jeff was kicked off the other side of the land by our hippie Indian friend, even though Jeff was on the public land side, according to the signs.  It saddens my heart, because I had thought we did the right thing... talk to the land owner, talk to the Forest Service, obeyed the signs, etc. However, I can see where Sprite thought we "called the cops on him." Yes, during the course of the conversation, we let the Forest Service know that he pulled a gun on me and told me I was trespassing ... I was still a little shaken up by the whole thing. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll hunt that area again. If I do, maybe I'll stop in and bring Sprite a 12 pack of soda as a peace offering. I haven't decided yet.

So what about you? 

Have you ever encountered any issues while hunting public land? 

Do you think I handled the situation well? 

Would you have done anything different?  I want to know ...