Cleaning Out The Freezer In Style

My local sportsman’s club has one each year.   My good friend, Jeff, has one, too, that typically involves hundreds of people out at his hunting shack.   It’s the annual wild game party where everyone spends a little time digging through the freezer to find that certain package of fish or game that’s in dire need of some immediate grillin’.

Although it’s certainly not a newsworthy item…I’m glad to see the Minneapolis StarTribune—a newspaper that has proven in the past it would rather report some negative spin on hunting—this time instead has done a feel-good piece about hunting.   The article shows how a bunch of Twin Cities area hunters annually share the bounty with their non-hunting cohorts with one big party.

Read the article here.

Sometimes as sportsmen we forget that the game we pack away in the freezer can be a special treat, particularly for folks who have not grown up or otherwise been exposed to a hunting or fishing lifestyle.   This article reminds all us that having a wild game party where guests have an opportunity to sample various meats and recipes is a wonderful way to share the bounty.   It’s also a great way to positively expose more non-sportsmen to our way of life by allowing them to taste the many delectable fruits of our experiences in the field.

If you have an annual wild game party…I’d like to hear your story by leaving a comment below.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Sportsmen Never Go Home Empty-handed

Did you get anything?   Often those are the first words I hear from my family when I walk through the front door after a hunting or fishing adventure.   Indeed, many people logically equate success afield with the act of bringing home something tangible to prove that the time and efforts you just spent were worthwhile.   But most sportsmen should realize that success is not measured solely by the heft of the stringer or the bulkiness in the game bag.   There’s much more to it than simply that.

The definition of “Empty-handed” is:   1. Bearing nothing.  2. Having received or gained nothing.

Okay, when I depart for home feeling “skunked” because the fish in the lake were not cooperating today…I admit that I might have little evidence to show for my efforts (besides a sunburn), but I contend that I ALWAYS take at least something from every outdoor adventure.   Even the slowest fishing action of the year provides me an opportunity to relax and unwind from the daily hassles normally associated with life.   Furthermore, I’ve learned that during times of slow fishing that’s when I can focus more on perfecting my technique or perhaps better understanding the correct operation of my electronic equipment.   In theory…the next time I take to the waters I should be slightly more experienced and better prepared to change my luck.

Same goes for the woods.   A hunter can sit in a deer stand all day and see absolutely no deer.   Yet, during the same time that hunter might have been entertained by watching the “circus-like” high-wire act of a pair of squirrels off in the distant treetops.   Later a few jake turkeys might have wandered by completely unaware of their audience in the balcony.   A Black-capped chickadee might have landed on a branch so close to your hand you were tempted to grab for it.   Heck, on this particular morning you might have even witnessed the most glorious sunrise you can ever remember viewing…but memories are not tangible.

I’m often amazed how when I walk in the woods with someone who doesn’t hunt just how out-of-tune they sometimes can be with nature.   That’s not to say that a person must hunt to gain a full appreciation from time spent outdoors…but I tend to think it sure helps.   When you hunt you have an underlying purpose to observe all the little tell-tale signs that could serve as a clue to solving the bigger puzzle.   The casual hiker, on the other hand, only has to see the big trees and colorful little woodland flowers.   To this person, it’s not critical to know the type of tree or the names of the vegetation growing on the woodland floor.   On the other hand, to be a successful hunter being “tuned in” to all these little nuances of the outdoors can often spell the difference between success or failure.

When I walk along the river I can tell the difference between a mink track and that of a muskrat…those are observation skills I likely mastered on days when I wasn’t focused on appreciating the critters I caught while trapping.   When you’re a young trapper and you don’t catch anything on a particular day…it forces you to go back to the basics and hone the very skills you need to better develop.   The desire for success—or even the lack thereof—can be a tremendous motivator toward striving for improvement.

When you are turkey hunting and that big ol’ gobbler seems more interested in the hens he can see rather than the one you’re trying to imitate way off in the distance…it forces you to expand your options if you stand any hope for success.   In the process, you learn valuable lessons and become a much more well-rounded outdoorsman for having been presented with the experience.   Again, that doesn’t mean your day spent afield will provide you with anything tangible to show your family.

The point I’m trying to make is every trip we spend outdoors is fruitful whether or not we bring something home to show for our efforts.   If you open your eyes and ears to the outdoors…then every moment you invest pursuing your sporting dreams makes you a more knowledgeable and savvy sportsman for the next time out.

Today’s sportsman is not the same “food gatherer” of old…our survival is not solely dependent on the food we slay for the family’s table.   Thankfully with that big pressure off our shoulders…it allows us the opportunity to focus more on the pleasurable aspects associated with each adventure.

Our success should be measured more so by the quality of the time we spend and the satisfaction we derive from the experience.   Unfortunately, that measure is not always tangible in nature to show your family or friends when you arrive home after a long day at the lake or in the woods.   Still, I contend to my family and others who might ask that I never come home completely “empty-handed” from my time spent enjoying the outdoors.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Researchers Develop A Better Blaze Orange

Long gone are the days when wearing a red plaid wool shirt afield while hunting was considered acceptable attire.   Gone, too, are the brown wool pants and coats many hunters used to wear long before the advent of high tech fibers made their market debut.   Now if a trio of vision researchers have their way…soon those blaze orange clothes we are now often required to wear during various hunting seasons may also fade from popular fashion only to be replaced by a new generation of safety materials promising even better results.

Truth is no matter how you feel about wearing blaze orange afield it has definitely revolutionized the safety of our sport.   Undoubtedly countless lives have been saved over the years thanks to hunters who—whether they liked it or not—were required to wear the highly visible clothing.   Still, there is a rather large segment of hunters who maintain that wearing blaze orange is akin to advertising to the deer your presence in the woodlands.   They feel that while blaze clothing may quickly alert another hunter to your location for safety’s sake…it accomplishes the very same result for the deer, as well.

Over the years much has been written by various experts on just exactly what deer see.   Are they completely color blind?   Do they see certain shades of color in their world?   Do they see various bright patterns rather than distinct colors?   It seems there’s about as many theories offering up an explanation as there are distinct patterns of camouflage available on the hunting clothing market.

Personally, I’ve always felt the safety aspect of wearing blaze orange far outweighed any negative aspects of wearing the cloth.   Recently, however, three noted doctors in the opthalmology field have patented a new kind of blaze orange called “Covert Orange.”   The Covert Orange cloth hasn’t hit the stores quite yet…but this revolutionary new material should start becoming available this fall found in certain select retail outlets. 

Dr. Greg Hageman said, “Deer and other game animals differ from humans in that their eyes are sensitive to only two colors, blue and yellow, and they are therefore called ‘dichromatic’. As a result, a human and a deer perceive the color of the same object differently. For example, regular safety orange material stimulates two of our three color-sensitive cells and, as a result, appears as a bright, vivid orange.

In deer, however, the safety orange color stimulates only the yellow-sensitive cells and thus is perceived as yellow. This is the first of two important reasons why Covert Orange™ works. The second reason is due to the fact that under certain conditions, when all of the color sensitive cells of the eye are equally stimulated, the color perceived by the brain is a “neutral point” gray-beige.”

Researcher Dr. Don Anderson said, “This is true for humans as well as deer, however, because humans have three color-sensitive cells in their eyes, as opposed to two for deer, the color combination producing this ‘neutral point’ effect in deer is still perceived as a bright orange by human observers.”

Indeed, this miracle cloth is being touted as appearing highly visible to humans while being far less detectable by the eyes of most big game animals.   Furthermore, this isn’t some sort of spray on substance to mask the ultra violet (UV) properties of the cloth, either.   Instead, this new material is specially color corrected to achieve a new balance of good while virtually removing any of the perceived bad properties of wearing blaze orange.   Perhaps best of all, this 21st Century blaze orange is expected to be legal in all states which is particularly important in the few states that still do not currently allow unbroken (camo) blaze patterns.

So…if you’ve been apprehensive about wearing blaze orange because you believe it alerts game to your presence…with this new Covert Orange material on your torso you might just be running out of excuses for why you didn’t bag the big buck.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.