Monday, December 13, 2010

Goosed!

I finally got to go on my first Goose hunt! My friend Mack called me Friday and asked if I wanted to join him and a couple other guys in the morning for a layout hunt in a local field. After a quick check with the Boss…YES! After a quick inventory, I had to make a quick run up to the local big box store and grab some appropriate steel goose feed.

6:30 in the morning we meet up and headed to the farmers field with practically a train of trucks. Mack had his trailer hitched up and I started learning that goose hunting requires a LOT of equipment. Tons of goose decoys, of several varieties, placed in patterns I have yet to grasp but were debated over by the other hunters and 6 layout blinds went into the field. Raking the corn stalks and debris to cover our set up as well as help in the illusion that the decoys were looking for food, was all part of my learning experience. Then we parked the trucks out of the field and waited.

Like duck hunting, I enjoyed this hunt because you got to talk and shoot the breeze until someone spots or hears geese coming in. Mack had the blinds laid out so that he was in the middle to call the shot. I was towards the left end next to the last guy in the row.

At 8:30, 2 low flying geese were spotted heading right for the left end of our group…that’s me! Mack called out to let us have the first shots and we got ready… They got closer and closer and I was waiting for Mack to call the shot…. They cupped for landing… no call yet…they dropped their landing gear…no call yet….HECK WITH IT! Time to shoot!!! I missed. By that time, the rest of the group opened up and 2 birds quickly hit the corn. I think I hit the lead bird on my second shot but by that time with everyone else shooting I could not be positive and I was having so much fun I didn’t care anyways! How would have known that laying in a tent like sleeping bag thing that opens up on the top, in the middle of a corn field in 20 degree weather could be so much fun! (Btw- Mack just figured we’d open up when they got close….got a bit of a ribbing for waiting so long to shoot.)

2 birds in, 2 birds down, not a bad way to start the morning. About 30 minutes later another flock came in and we all hunkered down. This group didn’t like something though as they circled us twice and then headed across the road to another field. But they didn’t land, they circled back again for another fly over of our set…but still no landing gear coming down and they headed back.

Mack told us that things would explode when the geese really got moving and around 9:30 he was right… a group of 4 circled and dropped their landing gear only to be meet with a hail of steel and tungsten. 4 more down. While Mack and a couple others were running out and picking those birds up, another flock came in and circled the decoys! Half our group was just laying in the corn and the other half were sitting in their blinds trying not to move! No shooting though as that group moved on. A couple minutes later though and several hundred geese were coming in from what seemed like every direction! We had a group land just to our left while a couple other groups came in for landings in the decoys. 6 shooters, 6 birds down so we had 6 more birds to go…and 10 seconds later the hunt was done!

So, you’re asking when did I get my bird? …well, after the second group my feed tube on my pump shotgun jammed! And nothing I could do in the field would free it up. All this was happening while being circled by hundreds of geese! So, it was down to a single shot and I waited until I had a perfect line on a single bird about 35 yards out….one shot was all I needed!

We grabbed all the birds for a quick shot and Mack got his truck and trailer out so we could load it all up and get out of the field as quick as possible. We then went to Mack’s were I’m fairly certain I was the but of a joke as Mack convinced me to pose for a picture not with just my birds, but with eight that he put in a neck carrier…at least he told me it was to carry them around my neck. I really didn’t think about the fact that I was going to have 8 birds hanging around my neck only…at 10 to 12 lbs a piece…that’s close to 100lbs of “dead” weight! Oh well, I still couldn’t stop smiling!

Mack, thanks for introducing me to ANOTHER addiction!

Friday, December 3, 2010

PSE

Well, I recently made a trip up to Chico’s neck of the woods for our annual PSE team meeting. Since you’re wondering why a company selling hunting products would have a meeting during the peak Whitetail hunting season, I’ll fill you in on the excitement…

Our annual meeting is scheduled around this time as it allows our Regional Manager, Paul Penix, a chance to get back from Arizona (PSE’s headquarters) and hopefully have a full delivery of the new 2011 products for us to not only review but SHOOT! We get a hands on technical review and then an opportunity to run each and every product through its paces. Paces, sounds like a horse race, I should have said “down the ¼ mile”!!!

Each year we see improvements in the Archery industry by all the competitors but this year, PSE has made a quantum leap! While there’s a lot of stuff I’m privy to as a staff member that I can’t tell you about, here’s what I can…

First, check out the new website! WWW.PSE-ARCHERY.COM It’s totally redesigned with lots more information and it currently has the new line up…and it’s accepting orders! New technology animation videos, Pro shooter interviews and much, much more.

Next the bows…

If you’ve read some of my journals in the past, you know that I’ve been shooting the PSE Omen for the last year and a half. Are the cams aggressive? You bet! Does it have a super shallow brace height? 5 ½” …you bet! Is it faster than Superman with a sugar high? Sonic booms don’t have time to even start! Does it shoot smooth as glass? You could cut a diamond on it! Could PSE improve on that? YOU BET! The new Omen Pro is not only faster and smoother, PSE has re-designed it to pull back so smoothly you’ll take it to a pro shop just to have someone else tell you you’re really pulling back 70lbs even if it feels like 60lbs! or less! I shot the new Omen Pro with 60lb limbs, dialed all the way down it pulled at 63 lbs and it felt like I was pulling 50 lbs! How did PSE accomplish this you ask? …well, I can tell you a couple things. First, they re-engineered the riser, called the new Planer Flex Riser, thickening it while at the same time milling down some areas to keep the weight down. This helps change the vibration and flex in the riser from side to side on a shot, to forward and back. By changing this vibration and flex direction it provides a more stable launch and a more accurate shot. Next, they introduced the new Centerlock Limb Pockets. They’re wider and longer. By widening the split limbs and lengthening the pockets, PSE has increased the stability and power all at the same time. From 50lbs to 80lbs and 26” to 30” (in half inch increments!), its draw length specific and ready to knock down anything walking the planet! (I’m not sure about setting this monster killer up for bow fishing…but Moby Dick had better stay on the bottom!)

The Drury brothers Dream Season has been the pinnacle of speed, smoothness and hunting for years. This year, PSE introduced us to the Dream Season EVO (yup, that’s for EVOlution!). Incorporating all the changes in the Omen Pro, the DS EVO uses the new AXE Hybrid cams. Smooth? Time to add the butter to the glass cause you’ll be cooking some backstraps before you know it. These cams are not draw length specific and can be adjusted from 25” to 30” in half inch increments with the included module (which stores in the cam!)

What other bows are in the line up with the new technology? Well, you’re going to have to go visit the web site cause otherwise I’d be writing for way more time than I have available. Don’t miss the new Dominator series and the Supra One Cam…. And that’s just the Pro Line!

The Bow Madness still leads the way in the main line and that’s a bow that out performs the top of the Pro line competition for half the price! It’s a monster sleeper for sure! Zzzzzzz BOOM!

There are improvements to the Chaos and a new youth bow called the Mini Burner (and boy does it burn!). The Chaos is now offered in only 2 draw weights, 30 and 60lbs…why? Because you can now adjust them down in weight by 50%! 60lbs all the way down to 30lbs!

Ok, I gotta stop now or this will turn into a book! Go check out the web site!

Did I mention that a number of the bows even ship with America’s Best bowstrings
installed?

Don’t forget about the Crossbows either! TAC15 or TAC10…..William Tell would not only shoot the apple off his sons head, but at way past a few paces and he could do it if his son was on the opposite side of the tree!

Ok, Ok…till next time, put some gloves on cause the new PSE’s are SMOKIN HOT! (guess you’ll have pre-cooked venison shish kabob for 2011!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deer Camp 2011

Well, deer camp 2011 has come and gone and the “buck” pole (an old swing set minus the swings) remains empty. Even so, deer camp is always a time to remember. This year I once again concentrated on getting my daughter an opportunity to kill her first deer. We even pulled doe tags for that area to increase her odds.

With Opening Day on Monday, we ran into a lot of traffic heading north on Friday afternoon but we arrived at camp with just enough time to get changed, grab our bows and run to the stands I had set up weeks before. I’ll just say it was a nice evening to take a nap with all the deer action we witnessed… The next morning was a command performance of the previous nights. So far it was looking pretty scare at deer camp.

My buddy and his son arrived shortly after we had lunch. Deer camp is at his Mom and Dad’s place in Northern Lower Michigan. They’ve been taking care of me, and now my daughter, for over 15 years and it’s a tradition to spend the opener enjoying their hospitality.

After lunch we took a walk to an area we haven’t hunted in years called Cone Head (small hill looks like a cone head…). To get to this area we have permission to cross some private land we’ve hunted in the past and boy are there some deer sign there! As soon as we crossed into the state land, WHAM! Trees, not saplings nor twigs, all rubbed up… and right in front of my old blind, a nice fresh rub. …tempting but its a couple miles hike and getting a deer out would be a night mare… maybe next year.

Anyways, we all got geared up and headed out to the treestands for an evening bow hunt.. same song, same dance…deer someplace are having a grand ol’time.

Sunday started out with high winds and rain so we called off the morning hunt and caught up on some sleep (no complaints here). Did I mention the food served at deer camp? I brought a roast and my buddy brought steaks and chicken for the grill….even if we didn’t get any deer nobody was going home hungry!

Opening day;

Well, opening day was a new experience for my daughter, she got to find out what it’s like to sit in an open stand during a hail/sleet storm! I can only say I’m very thankful it was sleet and hail and not rain…wow! After the storm passed the day improved a little but our luck was still not changing. My buddy and his son saw a couple does and “claimed” the does headed straight for us…likely story (LOL)

Unfortunately, my buddy came to deer camp with a pretty nasty cold and his “drugs” were pretty rough on him. His plan was to hunt Monday night, Tuesday morning and then pack up and get back home as his son needed to be in school Wednesday. He decided that he wouldn’t be able to drive if he stayed any longer so he packed up and headed home. (he’s doing better which is good news since he’ll be hunting in a couple weeks in Michigans Elk season! Drew a Bull Elk tag!!! Lucky dog!)

Since he’d seen some deer in the morning, we decided to switch stands and see if we could improve our score card…

After sitting for a couple hours my daughter quietly says “dad! Deer!” I turn the camera on and look over her shoulder, sure enough, I can see a nice wide brown body coming through the trees. It angles to her right and I can see it’s a large basket spike. She get’s the gun ready and the buck stops broadside at about 25 yards. He still standing and no boom…at this point I’m in the whisper mode of “…shoot, shoot, shoot him, shoot, shoot……” etc. I think my daughter was about to smack me in the head. After what seems like an eternity the buck walks away. By this time I can see his belly is coated in red, he’d been wounded earlier. Since we’ve heard all the local shots, I know this buck has traveled a long ways and while it looks like a lot of blood, it could only be a grazing wound. He’ll be back.

Back to my daughter….After the buck walks away she turned to me and explained that she could not see the deer in the scope, it was just a little point of light… I know exactly what the problem is and explain that by having to turn her upper body a full 90 degrees and then try and hold the gun for the shot, it would miss align her head and the stock and prevent the proper alignment necessary to view through the optics. I am very proud she decided to not pull the trigger on a marginal shot even though that would have been her first deer!

In a future blog I’ll be going over how to train your self to shoot from the opposite shoulder. I’ve been shooting left and right handed for as long as I can remember and it’s natural for me to simply change shoulders when an animal crosses to my off side (even if it drove my coach nuts while on the rifle team! Sorry Sarge!)

After my daughter explained why she didn’t pull the trigger, she then proceeded to explain her thoughts about my repeated comments over her shoulder…so I get excited when deer are around…shoot me. She also wanted to know why her “seat” was shaking so much. I explained that it’s called “Buck Fever” and the day opportunity knocks like that and you don’t shake, is the day you need to stop hunting. Heck, I only had my camera going and my legs were shaking to mix paint. Oh, and in regards to the camera…note to self, make sure camera is ready before you press the record button. Oops.

We finished out the evening seeing 3 more does skirt though the woods behind too many trees and one other deer sniffing around our drag line of Mikes Magic…but he didn’t come in. A lot of talk that evening was about shaky behinds and opportunities…Excitement!

Tuesday morning was almost back to our first day except one lone doe trotted through the field where we could not get a shot through the trees at her.

Stories are made, New experiences are remembered and Deer Camp 2011 shows a win for the deer and great memories for my daughter and me!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A few more pictures from my Duck hunt with Mikey and crew

"Mojo in the Mirror"



"Duck, duck...GOOSE"



One of the other groups out that morning, retrieving a duck they knocked down.



"Perfect Morning"


Ducks, Ducks and More Ducks...

...and maybe a Goose or two.

Well, I’ve finally gotten out and gone Waterfowling a couple times this year….so far the Geese and Ducks are safe even if a few tail feathers are missing.

A couple weeks ago Mikey invited me to join him, Randy and his friend Logan for a Saturday morning hunt at a near by lake. This would be my second waterfowl experience, period. I got all my gear ready, made sure I had the appropriate licenses (including my duck stamp) and ammo. Friday night I got about 3 hours sleep before I needed to get on the road and drive the 45 minutes to Mike’s house. I slept right through my alarm! Luckily, I had set it early so I could stop on the way north and pick a couple things up …skipped that and got there on time…WHEW! Anyways, I got to Mikes and we loaded up his truck, got loaded and headed out. While Mikey has his driving permit, Mike had me drive while towing the boat.

We arrived at the State Park boat launch around 4am and there was one hunter already waiting to go out. We got the boat off the trailer and loaded with most the gear. The plan was to take Logan and Randy over to an island, drop them off to start setting the decoys and come back to pick me up with the rest of the gear. The only problem we had was that Mikey couldn’t get the motor started. All joking aside, Mikey pulled that rope enough times to start about a hundred or more motors. He called Mike, made some changes and BANG! It started. (See Mikey, Dad knows best! LOL).

Once we all got to the island, Mike and Logan made sure all the decoys were set in some pattern only known to them…looked like decoys on the water to me but I’ve been told there is a way of placing them that makes them work. You just can’t throw them out any which way. We “brushed” the blind in more and as Mikey and Logan were finishing up, more hunters started to arrive and soon there were another 4 groups out. The night was clear and warm so sitting and waiting for “shooting” hour to commence was a great time to relax and enjoy being out side. A bit of comical relief was thrown in as Logan seems to be still in the learning stage of applying camo face paint. Black paint (compliments of Dead Down Wind Color Wheel), applied in a heavy pattern that leaves ½ an inch of white skin around your mouth and eyes creates an almost Holloweenish type look....it’s not going to hurt getting it on your mouth or on your eye brows, lids and under your eyes… Once Mikey, Randy and I had stopped rolling around on the ground laughing, we took pity and provided a bit of advice on finishing up what Logan started. Sorry Logan, it was just too darn funny. Oddly enough, after the “paint” session was completed, the two “kids” laid down and fell asleep while the two older (barely!) guys stayed awake. What happened to youthful energy??About 20 minutes before legal shooting time, Mikey and Logan woke up and got ready to go.

TIME TO ROCK! Legal shooting time had arrived and immediately we had two ducks paddling in towards the decoys. As Mikey was telling us to get ready to flush them up, Logan jumped up and opened a rain of steel on them. Guess they brought their umbrellas cause they lifted and flew away unscathed. A few minutes after that, a truck pulled into the boat launch (we were positioned on the island were we could see the launch site) and dropped a bass boat in the water. The two guys proceeded to fish through out the zones of several hunting groups. Not the smartest idea and I’m sure it effected the flight patterns of incoming birds. As the sun started to rise more, several small groups of ducks flew past but none were interested in our decoys or landing and having a chat so several misses later the group was still birdless.

About 9am, I notice a boat heading across in front of us that looked like it had a model plane on the bow…weird until I watched it beach on the public beach area and meet several other folks all carrying planes. Oh Crap. Sure enough, they soon started flying RC Sea Planes back and forth in front of us. Now, while I can’t say without a doubt that they were engaging in hunter harassment as its all public park, there was a section of lake that is off limits to hunting that they could have been on with the same access and facilities…go figure. While I was tempted and while I did pull up on several occasions and put my bead on the planes because they were certainly in range, I never pulled the trigger. First, at times, there was a family on the beach in the direct path of any falling steel and that would have been not only dangerous but irresponsible. Other times I just didn’t have the lead time get a decent shot off. Probably a good thing as I just should have called the DNR to have them ticketed for harassment. This harassment went on until after we left for the day. Then again, I could have been distracted by the couple canoeing that paddled directly at us until they were about 35 yards away, took some pictures of us and paddle around the island…directly into the middle of another hunter’s decoy spread!

Well, while it was a beautiful day and we did get to throw some steel at some ducks, we decided to load up and head home. While Mikey and Logan were gathering the decoys, Randy and I cased up our guns and got the blind area cleaned up. Suddenly I heard a honk! I yelled “Geese”! Randy looked up and yelled “Treetop”. Luckily, Mikey and Logan had not cased up their guns yet and grabbed them quickly. Mikey opened up and missed but Logan got on a goose and knocked him down! Packing up and opportunity knocks! Go Figure. Logan got his first goose. Congratulations Logan.

All in all a very interesting day. I think that if we were not harassed we would have had a ton of opportunities to drop some ducks and geese but at least we had a good time, got a bird and everyone got to go home safe.

Next: the Birthday weekend hunt.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Caring for Concealed...

I just wanted to write a quick blog to remind everyone who has a CCW/CPL not to neglect your carry firearm. I today’s hectic environment it’s easy to come home in the evening, take your firearm off (locked up or secured) and forget about it until the next time you take it with you. You might think, “Hey, I haven’t had time to go to the range and practice, so I know it’s clean…” …WRONG! Carrying concealed, whether you fire your gun or not, is active service. It will get dirty. While I would never say pocket lint or light rust will cause your firearm to malfunction, would you bet your life or the lives of your family on it?

There are a couple of ways you’re going to carry your firearm, against the body or just under a layer of material. If you’re going to carry against the body, like in an IWB rig (Inside the Waist Band), one of the biggest concerns you should address is moisture. Whether you are exerting yourself and sweating or simply carrying all day, your body releases moisture. With the firearm trapped between your clothing and your skin, even with a holster (and especially with a Clip carry), steel components will start to rust. Even well oiled, body moisture can still get to spots internally and start the process of oxidation. You are trapping the moisture in your firearm.

For all methods of carry you should always be aware that dirt, lint and the like can and will find its way into your firearm one way or another. Fibers from your shirt or pants can get wedged into small areas…like behind the trigger, the safety lever or decocker, etc.

It should be part of your habit/routine to not only check for function and load every time you pick up your firearm, but also for dirt and moisture/rust. Make sure you break your firearm down and give it a light cleaning and a quick oil once a week (Dead Down Wind odorless oil is an excellent example). This is for pistols and revolvers…

Protecting our families and our lives is not something that should be neglected.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rinehart R100

On Saturday, August 7th, the Rinehart R100 was in Saginaw Michigan. I thought this would be a fun day to take Mindy and let her have a good time shooting at different targets. I recently bought Mindy a new PSE Bow Madness XS and put some new Americas Best Bowstrings in her favorite color, purple and white, on it. The week before the R100, I finally got her drop away rest tuned in, her sight set, loop installed and served her G5 peep in. I know, a week to practice after not shooting for months…it was just a fun day. I had Mindy sight in and tune her groups for 20 yards and a few at 30 yards. Thinking about what distances she would need to shoot at for the R100, I had her take a couple shots at 40 yards (4 shots). Time would dictate that we would not get in any more practice before Saturday.

Well, Mindy had to get up at 5am (during her summer break! Oh my!) and we made our way up to Mike’s house. We loaded up his truck and headed north.





We arrived shortly after the course opened and it was already starting to fill up so we all got our bows out and sent a few arrows down the practice range before we started. The R100 offers two courses, the North American and the Exotics. They both have 50 targets (hence the R”100”) and if you’re planning on attending next year, plan for two days. We started around 9am and didn’t finish the North American course until almost 2pm. We chose the North American course because we knew the targets would be ranged more to practical shot distances for actual shots.

The biggest mistake I continuously made all day was in not trusting my gear! I recently installed a G5 Optix XR2 sight which is one fixed and one floating pin. I’ve never used a floating pin before and while I marked ranges for both elevated and ground level shots I continuously over corrected and my scores showed it. For some reason I just could not get used to the sight working the way it was designed and I was making high and low shots because of it. When I set the pin as marked and trusted it…boom! Spot on! That is why practice, practice, practice is so important, especially with new gear.


Now, on the other hand, Mindy with her new bow, with very little practice and 4 shots at 40 yards with none longer….was smoking ME! Everyone in our group ended up missing a target some time during the course. With targets ranged from 18 yards to 53 yards can you guess which on Mindy missed? …the 18 yard target! She was smoking the long range shots! PSE Bow Madness INDEED! I will add a little advice if you’re shooting one of these fast PSE bows…I’m shooting a PSE Omen with Carbon Express Aramid KVs…lubricate the arrows with a little bit of Scorpion Venom, otherwise they melt the targets and are extremely difficult to remove! Then again, if you miss like this I don't think Scorpion Venom is gonna help...


Here's Mike on his 50 yard shot that he missed... and here's his arrow!


It was a long morning with lots of shooting but boy was it fun! My arm was tired and we didn’t get lunch until after 2pm but I’d do it again in a heart beat! I think Mikey gave Mike a run for his money and I know that I could not be prouder of Mindy BEATING her dad’s score! Michigan’s deer heard had better watch out cause there’s a new Sheriff in town and she’s called Mindy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hunters Safety, Day One:

Well, Monday night was the first night that my daughter attended her hunter’s safety class. I’ve been introducing her to her outdoor heritage the last two years through Michigan’s Hunters Apprentice program. Through this DNRE program, “The apprentice hunter program allows individuals to hunt without the required hunter education course if accompanied and closely monitored by a licensed hunter 21 and older who is mentoring them in the sport. An apprentice hunter may participate in the program for two license years before being required to take a hunter safety course.” Now that her two years have passed and she’s still interested in hunting (wahoo!), it’s time to take the course.

I signed her up at the Livingston County Wildlife and Conservation Club for their 4 day course. The DNRE mandated minimum class time is 10 hours, LCWCC is providing 14 hours of instruction to better prepare and educate these new hunters. Also, while the state allows for up to a $10 fee to cover materials, LCWCC provides their classes for free (donations excepted).

The first night over 50 new hunters were in attendance and LCWCC had close to 10 certified instructors present. The new hunters included boys and girls as well as a few adults. Parents were encouraged to stay (and most did).

One thing I noticed from the first night was the amount of interaction the instructors maintained with the students. They not only used charts and demonstrated safe hunting and gun handling but, brought students up front and included them in their demonstrations.

Different types of firearms were discussed (break open, pump, bolt and Semi-auto). Ammunition types were covered as well as why you do not mix them up. A bit graphic, but pictures were circulated that showed what could happen if you don’t pay attention and load the wrong ammunition in your gun. The kids thought the exploded gun looked cool…until they looked at what was left of the shooters hand…yuck. (We’ve all probably seen those pictures, taken in the ER…and I agree, yuck). The instructors had a nice segment were they had the kids demonstrate the safe fire zones and carry types in a group (they made sure they had a left hander in the group too). All in all, an excellent first class.

As a parent, knowing how bored and rambunctious a group of young children can get, I was very impressed with the attention and respect these youngsters gave their instructors. An excellent sign their taking this class seriously and paying attention (and a miracle they did it for 3 ½ hours!).

Next; Day Two.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tight Lines for Troops

Several months ago, while attending a local outdoors show, I met Captain George Peplinski of Netminder fishing charters. While chatting with George about the Up North Journal and what we do, he told me about an event coming up called Tight Lines for Troops. Tight Lines for Troops is an event (this being the inaugural event) that gets charter boats together with Michigan veterans to honor their service and sacrifices with a free day of a Great Lakes fishing tournament, activities and a banquet. During our conversation George asked if I’d be interested in putting a UNJ cameraman on one or several of the boats to video the event first hand. Gee, after a long internal debate (about .000001 seconds) I agreed! So we exchanged business cards and George said he’d pass on my information to the necessary folks.

Within a day we had been contacted by Bob Guenthart, Captain/owner of Renegade charters in Manistee and organizer of the event. Talking with Captain Bob I learned that his idea started with hopes that he could get twenty charter boats to volunteer their day to take up to 60 Michigan veterans out fishing. Preference would be given to wounded veterans first. Not one captain he asked told him no and his efforts quickly grew. By the time the event kicked off, 38 charter boats had donated their time and crews and 160 veterans were signed up to go fishing! Sponsors quickly came on board with the Little River band of Ottawa Indians and Little River Casino signing on to be the premier sponsor. They provided banquet facilities and a fabulous served dinner for the veterans, their families, the captains, their crew and the volunteers (in addition to financial support). Viewing the long list of sponsors quickly highlighted the phenomenal support from the community and local businesses in honoring our Veterans.

Unfortunately, most of the UNJ staff had prior obligations and the only staffer able to attend was yours truly…oh, darn I have to schedule a day out of the office so I can ride along on a fishing charter in Lake Michigan. Somebody had to do it.

When the day finally arrived, I pulled into the Manistee City Marina parking and unloaded the camera gear. 5:30 am and it was already almost 70 degrees out and the start of a beautiful day. I made my way down to the docks and immediately was greeted by Captain Bob (whom I’d never met yet). Captain Bob’s boat, the Renegade, was parked at the gas dock were there was a lift unit to assist in getting wheel chairs onto his boat. Next to the Renegade was the Sandpiper III and Bob introduced me to her owner, Captain Kevin Hughes (at least in this huge crowd of wonderful folks there was one name I didn’t have to worry about forgetting!). Captain Kevin had volunteered to allow me to ride along with him and his crew to film the event first hand. I was quickly introduced to Kevin’s First Mate, Glen and their 3rd crew, Pat.

Around 6 am our first veteran arrived. David Peck, a wounded and wheel chair bound Navy veteran from Vietnam. Luckily, the layout of Sandpiper III allowed David to be hand lifted in his chair down to the fishing deck. In no time at all I was chatting with David and found out that he is the Vice President of Paralyzed Veterans of America, Michigan Chapter. David told us that he had lost his leg when a 750lb bomb was exploded under their boat while on patrol and this was his first time on a boat since that incident. Shortly after David was on board, our next veteran arrived. Ike Eickholdt another Navy Veteran who served on the USS Bainbridge as a EWT Second Class Petty Officer.

With a 7 am tournament kick off, the other boats were starting to leave dock and we’ve yet to load our third veteran. Seems the loading ramp for the bus had stuck in the down position and we were waiting for a second bus to arrive. When the backup bus showed up and Glen is bringing our third veteran down to the docks, we’re the only boat still tied up, the rest had left the harbor. Our third veteran is another Vietnam wounded Navy man, Russell Stewart. Russell is quickly lifted down to the deck in his wheel chair and Captain Kevin gets us on our way. Even though we’re late getting started, everyone is all smiles and good cheer and if there is an award for that, I’m sure Russell would take the prize…I don’t think he stopped smiling the entire trip.

Figuring we’d missed the tournament start you can imagine our surprise to find every single boat waiting for us just outside the mouth of the harbor! This event was not going to start off without every vet present and accounted for. As we came to a stop we received a call to shut down our engines…

Silence on the water, a light and eerie fog floating as a shallow mist, centered in the circle of charter boats, at the heart of all these veterans, from the bow of the US Coast Guard vessel came the sound of Bag Pipes honoring our troops, our fallen, it sang across the waters for all to hear. I can only imagine the thoughts and feelings our veterans were feeling as more than one eye was teary as the pipes completed their song.






A moment of silence and the announcement to get under way. Time to FISH!

One thing I’ll note is that every time I said “just tell me if I’m in your way”, every single one of these gentlemen would immediately tell me the same thing. They went out of their way to make sure I had access to film from what ever angle I needed to. Captain Kevin even told me he’d turn the boat if needed (as much as he could) to change the sun angle if it was interfering with filming a fish on. I can not express my thanks adequately enough to them for going out of their way to accommodate my activities while they were working.

If you’ve never had a chance to go on a charter boat, you don’t know what you’re missing! The Sandpiper III is a 36’ Tiara open and perfect for fishing Lake Michigan. While Captain Kevin was heading towards his location to fish, Glen and Pat were getting the rods rigged and ready. David, Russell and Ike all had that look of excitement and I felt part of a special group, heading for an incredible day.

Dipsy divers, lead core, ten color, 4 color, blue dolphins, planer boards, down riggers, clips, monkey shines, bumble bees, superman, down speed, top speed, temperature…. Ok, I’m lost… let’s just say that these guys knew what they were doing and seeing everything that was going on was fun and informative.

It took a little while but Glen decided to give a couple solid “come on” fish claps and WHAM! FISH ON! Russell was first up but unfortunately the first fish of the day decided that he’d rather stay in the water… At least the excitement factor was working! Shortly after and another rod starts screaming out drag…. David is up and the hook is set. Glen and Pat get a couple rods out of the way and David soon has the first fish in the boat! While the day ended up being a bit slow for fishing, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We all learned about each other, the veterans and myself learned a lot about fishing in the Great Lakes and we got to spend a lot of quality time with new friends.

As the weigh in time approached, Kevin informed us it was time to start bringing the lines in, so if we were going to say a prayer for a last fish, now was the time. I doubt the final Amen and been silently uttered when one last rod started running out line and Russell brought in the last fish of the day. As we entered the harbor we were greated by flags all along the pier, presented by the Rolling Thunder riders.

Here’s the group with the day’s haul…



While our fish didn’t win the tournament, they certainly won the enthusiasm of our veterans.

The awards banquet that evening started off with a repeat of our mornings bag pipes and the traditional warrior and honor songs by the Chippewa Band of Indians Warrior Society. The opening ceremony speech was given by Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone and a special presentation was given to our attending Medal of Honor recipient Cpl Duane Dewey. It was amazing to see Cpl Dewey, almost 79 years old, walking past me when you realize that while being treated for wounds to his feet from a grenade, he threw the medical corpsman out of the way as another grenade landed next to him and jumped on top of it…he not only survived but recovered. President Eisenhower was right when he told him, “You must have a body of steel.”

Following the welcome, singer Kelly Trudell sang the National Anthem and we followed up with the Pledge of Allegiance. After a wonderful dinner, the awards were presented for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place of best fish weighed in and for best catch boat division (won by Trout Scout). In addition, a Governor’s Cup Award was presented to the best team (Navy, Army, etc…) along with a congratulatory letter from Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm.

After the evening closed with Taps, I was able to sit down for a few minutes with Captain Bob and talk about the event. I’m looking forward to next year and plans are in the process of looking to a couple of close by cities like Ludington and Frankfort to add to the boats available for Veterans. I hope those plans include inviting the UNJ crew back up for some more video opportunities.

Thank You to our Veterans, our service men and women and to all the armed forces that protect our freedoms and our families.

It’s a bit long, but I’m going to list the primary sponsors because they really went out of their way to honor our Veterans.

Sponsors:

Little River Casino Resort, Manistee County Charter Boats, Luna Entertainment, Design Comfort Heating and Cooling, Blarney Castle Oil, Ted and Pam Arens, Bonnie and Joel Kenny, Michael Nauta, Onekama Marine, Paul Downs, Pro Seal Service Group, Ridgeback Rattler Custom Awards, Riverside Taxidermy, City of Manistee, Customs-N-Classics Car Club, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources & Environment, E-Coolers, Grand Rental of Manistee, Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, Little River Band Warrior Society, Manistee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Manistee County Sport Fishing Association, National Association of the Physically Handicapped, Northern Spirits Gift Shoppe, Pepsi, Phyllis Hanna, Rolling Thunder, Seng Family, Showspan, Sports Ink Screen Printing, Steven MacNeil, Tournament Trail, United States Coast Guard, United Veteran’s Council Manistee

And that list does not even include the 40 different Prize Donors!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Turkey Season Blues

Turkey Season Blues…

Well, my turkey season has come and gone. No bird is in the freezer, no bird ready to sit next to a serving of corn bread and stuffing…. It’s called hunting for a reason, that’s for sure. However, every time out is an exciting adventure. A time to learn and a time to have fun. I used my slate call for the first time. While I thought it sounded pretty good, listening to it on my video tape kind of points out a few things I need to practice on….a lot of practice… I can almost see why I heard a lot of Toms but couldn’t get them to come in for a shot. Honestly, would you want to get any closer to a screaming, drunken, angry, crying “hen” than you had too? I think they only talked back as a way to feel better about themselves for attempting to talk to the “crazy lady” ..then ran as far and as fast as they could! I did use the box call a few times but I think that just added to the confusion for those Toms…. TWO of THEM! YIKES! Run Boys! Four years now that I’ve been trying to get a turkey and I can't say I’ve not been having a riot. I have to blame Mike cause it’s his fault he got me started in this. Here's a picture of him and Mikey from my first turkey hunt.

Time sure has flow (along with the birds), Mikey is getting close to only being called Mike now and Mike is already past being called something else (LOL!). Me, I’m looking forward to taking my daughter out for her turkey hunt. She’s got a couple weeks of hunting and I’ve got a couple weeks of memories to build.


Some say a Turkey is an ugly bird. I say, it doesn’t matter what they say…look at all the beauty it brings into my life.







Kevin – 0




Turkeys – 4




2010.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sponsors

Sponsors,

As you’ve been seeing by visiting our website, you’ve noticed that UNJ has picked up several sponsors, several big sponsors. What does that really mean though? A lot of folks see a sponsor and just think “Money” or “Free Product”. They never think of the reasons behind the sponsorship. Up North Journal was created, and continues to be, an entertainment venue designed to educate, inform and entertain others about a heritage that sometimes gets lost in the politics. And maybe, just maybe, UNJ inspires you to get outside and enjoy that heritage for yourself, your family or your friends.

Companies provide sponsorship for a couple reasons. Either they see an opportunity for marketing or they see something they believe in and want to promote that growth. Far too many times it’s not the later that finds support. With Up North Journal, we’ve fallen into a realm between both reasons. What UNJ provides is a fresh and unique group of folks doing what they love. They’re not out to only harvest the biggest and the best. They’re not out to promote products because they’re paid to do so. They believe in what they do and in what they use.

Dead Down Wind, one of the first supporters of our show, has several products that our staff won’t be caught without. They’re a company that designs and creates they’re own product with all the research that goes into it and they stand behind it. We tried it and we believe in it. Then there’s G5. G5 was one of the first companies that jumped up and provided UNJ not only with product, but on-site support as we did our first (and then second) broadhead review. No qualms about using their equipment and staff with other companies products, just straight help, offered without strings attached. UNJ pulled no punches on the product reviews even when the G5 product was not in the #1 spot on a specific test. Even so, most of the UNJ staff was shooting G5 by hunting season. Next, you can look at a company that saw what UNJ was doing and realized that we could help bring a lot of exposure to their new product, Dragonfire Thermogrips. Once again, UNJ evaluated the product first to make sure this was something we would use and believe in. Is it ever! Adding Talk Hunting to the mix was a no brainer. The folks on TalkHunting.com follow a lot of the same philosophy we promote at UNJ, especially the family friendly environment. TH is entertaining, educational and full of support for almost everything you could possibly need. They’re like a big family, a place to tell your stories, show your pictures and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. Talk Hunting was the way UNJ was introduced to Wabash Valley Whitetails and Mikes Magic. Is it really magic? Ask anyone who’s used it and I’ll bet you get the same answer….You Bet! Americas Best Bowstrings came on board from some interaction between UNJ and their bowstrings. Again, after investigating what ABB was all about and their work ethics, UNJ felt they would be a perfect fit in our sponsor family. Quality products, super high tolerances and quality control. One of the few companies that really stand behind their product with pride, willing to back it up on paper. Leupold stepped up to the plate as a sponsor and UNJ had no questions about a company with such a long history of manufacturing top line quality optics in America. As hunters and outdoors persons know, Leupold is the leader in quality hunting and sporting optics built right here in the USA. They produce a line of TBR rangefinders that have revolutionized the archery and gun sports. Our next sponsor has already had quite a bit of involvement with UNJ as a majority of our staff members are also on their Pro Staff. Mossy Oak is one of those companies that can pick and choose who they wish to support and by picking UNJ, they’ve obviously seen a group they want to help grow. Mossy Oak really is run by a group of outdoors enthusiasts that are laid back and willing to spend more time in the woods and fields getting dirty than they are behind a desk. Mossy Oak is our special supporter of our soon to be created, Youth Page/Program. For UNJ, Mossy Oak was already part of the team and now they’re official. Up North Journal has a sponsor that is our Title sponsor, this sponsorship is by a company that stepped up and made a major commitment to help support what we do and how we do it. A lot of thought was put into selecting this company as our Title sponsor and a lot of work and trust has gone into this relationship. This is a relationship created with PSE Archery. PSE is one of the largest archery bow manufactures in the world. Their bows are some of the best. If you’ve read any of our other journals about archery equipment, you’ll know that UNJ always supports trying gear before you buy it. Archery gear, especially a bow, is something that needs to fit the user, not the other way around. Every archer has his or her own preferences about equipment. At Up North Journal, our staff has chosen PSE to be our bow of choice. With all of our different shooting styles and forms, PSE has a bow to fit every member of our staff. Their Pro Line bows and their Main Line bows both offer a level of quality that is hard to beat. PSE has chosen to support Up North Journal in our ideals and our support of getting everyone involved in the outdoors… One Adventure at a Time.

So, when you visit our web site, listen to our podcasts or watch our vidcasts, take a closer look at our sponsors. You’ll never see a sponsor we don’t believe in, ever. You’ll never see a sponsor that doesn’t believe in the principles of the Up North Journal. You’ll never see a sponsor that doesn’t believe in the heritage we promote. It’s not about money or product, it’s about a way of life and the dreams waiting to be found.


Our Mission Statement:

The Up North Journal will be focused on Family, Conservation, Preservation, Education, Safety, Entertainment, Advancement, & Growth of Anything Wholesome In The Outdoors. Showing America And The World That The Outdoors Is Our Best Answer To Keeping Our Youth On The Straight & Narrow.


















Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diabetes and Hunting; Journal Episode 3

Well, I’ve talked about going through the discovery period and the changes it created in my everyday life. Now I’ll give you a little insight into what I go through with my outdoor activities.

First and foremost; have an emergency plan. For a local hunt or a trip far away, an emergency plan should be in place….just in case. The first part of the plan is to make sure someone knows where you’re going and where you’ll be. Provide them with a time table of what to expect. Even when I’m hunting the public land just down the road, my wife knows that I’ll be out of the tree at dark, it’s about a mile walk and 5 minutes driving. She also knows that I will call her if I’m running late unless I’m stuck in the woods waiting for game to clear out… then I’ll call her. When I went to Colorado for a hunt, I mapped out the travel plan, contact numbers for my hunting buddy, the local Sheriff, Police, State Trooper contact number and the local Hospital(s). Does it sound a little intensive getting all this information? Yup, but every minute counts and since I know were I’m going to be, if something happens, I might need to be found. Once I’ve established the hunt plan information the next step is to make sure my hunting partner (if any) knows what to do and what to look for. I make sure he/she has a bit of candy or something to eat that is mostly simple sugars in case my glucose drops to low. I then tell them what to do if my glucose is too high. I tell them the signs to look for, like changes in moods or disorientation and the shakes, or exhaustion/tiredness. Hearing or understanding problems or problems regulating my temperature could be signs of diabetic emergency. Even if I seem to be using the “facilities” too much is a sign that something might be wrong. I make sure they understand they might need to be patient with me incase I’m having problems but don’t realize it and if I realize it things need to happen immediately. An example is my recent trip to the ATA. I made sure everyone in the group knew I was diabetic and what I would need to pay attention to throughout the day. I warned them that if we got busy on the floor with interviews and such I might forget to eat lunch which could be very bad. I also appraised them of when I had taken my insulin shot and what I would need to do to make sure my glucose did not drop too low.

So, the first step is to provide an emergency plan. The second step is to communicate with those around me. The third step, a plan for myself.

This is the plan that will do the most work to keep me enjoying the outdoors for many years to come. First, I need to figure out if I have the right gear. Choosing the right gear is very important. For a diabetic, the wrong gear is not necessarily a mistake that can cause discomfort but one that could cause injury or even death. With diabetes I start with my feet. My feet are the farthest part from my senses and can easily cause a great deal of problems. I need to make sure I have socks that not only cushion and allow air circulation, but also socks that provide the right level of warmth or coolness. Over the socks go boots and the right kind of boots are vital to a successful time in the outdoors. If I went on my Colorado trip with a poorly fitting pair of boots, unlike most hunters that might get blisters or sores on their ankles/heals, diabetics could develop infections. Infections could quickly lead to life threatening damage to your feet and then to your internal organs as the infection spreads through your circulatory system. Have you ever jumped off a stump or ledge and bruised your foot? What happens to a diabetic if they bruise their foot and it causes a decrease in an already poor blood flow through your toes? How about a possibility of loosing your toes or foot, yikes! So a good boot is critical and a good broken in boot is vital for any long range hunting. Take care of your feet, they need to carry you back out of the woods and mountains.

Next, I need to make sure I have the right clothing for the adventure. It can be hot or cold and I need to make sure the cloths I plan on are adequate for the trip. Overheating can tax the body and being too cold can really cause organ problems as the body gathers heat from your extremities and shuts down. Cloths need to be comfortable too, don’t wear cloths that constrict too much and watch out for buckles and straps that might cause bruising. This includes your packs too. Watch out for straps and make sure the weight is balanced and not prone to cause rubbing or abrasions. I’ve found that as a diabetic, injuries are very slow to heal and scaring is very common from the littlest of things.

Now, it’s time for the “what if” game. What if I get cut? What if I fall down and sprain or break a bone? What if I….get the idea? When I plan my medical kit it’s always a little more comprehensive than most. I make sure I have extra syringes, bandages, needle and thread (sutures). Do I have any other medications I might need? I make sure I have matches and a lighter for fires, an emergency blanket, compass and gps. Lots of water! Diabetics can dehydrate very easily so water is extra important and so is the right food. I love the newest gadgets that make my life easier in the outdoors but I always make sure I have the means to provide my safety at the most basic level within easy reach. The toughest part of writing this journal is trying to remember all the things I’ve trained myself to do without thinking about it. Those are the things that can make your adventure a great adventure. I will probably update this journal as I remember those “things” . For those with diabetes, I hope you take care of your health and have a safe and successful outdoors adventure. For those who don’t or those who hunt with someone that does, I hope you’ve learned a little bit more of what diabetes means to a hunter and outdoors person.

Is my pack a little heavier than normal? Yup. Do I put more work in to planning a hunt? Yup. I figure it’s a small price to pay to make sure a hunt of a lifetime doesn’t turn into a memorial on a stone.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunting with Diabetes; Episode 2

Blogging about Diabetes and Hunting; Episode 2

A little bit more on my “history” and then we’ll get to how it effects my hunting and the outdoors.

After I was diagnosed as a type II diabetic, started taking a couple of different medications and was instructed on how to eat…life really changed. First, being told how to eat as an adult and actually adhering to those rules are two completely different things. It is extremely difficult to break habits formed from over 35 years of eating. Finding out that when I was trying to eat healthier by drinking lots of juice was actually really bad for me….yikes! I need to count my carbohydrates and make sure I don’t exceed my limits, as well as what types of carbohydrates!?! I had to learn the difference between complex carbohydrates and simple sugars. I had to learn how to balance my eating and what to expect every time I eat. I had to learn what to do if my blood sugar was too high or too low.

On top of all the food issues, I had to learn what to expect from my body. I was more prone to get colds. Colds and flu’s were now much more dangerous to me. I healed slower, my circulation was in danger and worst of all…my organs were in jeopardy if I couldn’t get my blood sugar under control. Even then, I should expect complications as I get older. Eye sight, foot problems, fingers…Wow. For something I never gave a thought to, all the people who have diabetes, this is no little problem.

It gets worse…

For the first few years I worked on getting my life in control. I was on a new medication that was really helping me not only get my blood sugars were they needed to be, but keep them there. I had my own successful company but I found out that stress is a major issue with blood sugars and the stress of running my company in a high stakes arena put me in a position were I needed to re-evaluate my goals. I did not see an avenue were I could reduce my stress and keep the company going, so I decided my life is more important than a job. I closed shop and went back to work for someone else. Hard decisions are only hard when you make them hard. Live, life and my family vs. money and a quick death…. Easy choice.

Leaving a dream was hard enough but the next event in my life was out of my hands and one of my nightmares. The medication I was on was pulled by the FDA, the replacement meds were rejected by my body…results: Insulin injections. My one worse nightmare: needles. I hate them! When my daughter was born I stood and watched the C-section with no problems. When they injected pain killer into the IV I had to leave….I don’t know why I’m like that but I am. It’s just needles and now I had to give myself 2 shots a day…for the rest of my life.

First stop, insulin class. They taught me how to give myself injections. Seeing what happens to me with needles they told me to return the next day for my first real insulin injection to make sure I actually did it. Nightmares! I had a lot to think about that night. Another one of those “hard” decisions that should be easy. Injections equal life, no injections equal a widow and two children without a father, Parents without a son, Friends looking down at a grave stone. Doesn’t sound like so hard a decision now does it. I made my decision. The next day I walked into the doctors office, looked at the doctor and told her that I had made a decision. I needed shots to live, so shots I would get. I told her to just sit and watch, only tell me if I’m doing something wrong. I took my first shot of thousands, feels good to live. Just a note; even after 10 years, it’s still a decision I make every day. At least now I don’t turn white as a sheet and fall over anymore. The nurses are happy about that when I come in for my blood work…they all seem to be about 5 feet tall and 100 lbs dripping wet….yeah, catch me like a lumberjack catches a falling oak tree!

Hunting:

The first thing I noticed about having diabetes and hunting was that I started to get cold a lot easier. I used to be one of those guys that just never got cold. No longer. On top of the getting cold, I now had the issues with being cold. Cold fingers and toes equates to circulation issues and that’s bad for diabetics. I had to re-evaluate all my hunting gear. Heavier boots with more insulation, warmer gloves and coats and pants well insulated for the temperatures I would be hunting. Have you ever priced out those quality pieces that can really keep you warm?...OUCH! talk about a pain! It’s taken a few years to really balance out the equipment I need from what I had. I’ve learned what really works and what does not and how to avoid getting cold from the get go. I’m always looking for new technology that will let me stay out longer and in colder weather.

The next thing I noticed is that while I was never surgeon class, my ability to stay steady was rapidly declining. Even when I was on the rifle team at college I was more of a movement shooter than one that tried strictly to hold still on a single point. Now I’m glad I’ve had the practice. Diabetes not only effects the circulation but that circulation is what keeps things like nerves and muscle control functioning. If I try to stand still and make a bulls eye shot, I might come close. If I just point and shoot or draw and release, then the chances are I’ll make the shot. I just can’t hold steady anymore and if my sugar gets too low I could get a job at a paint shop as a “mixer”. Add in the issues with the cold and you can see there is a lot of concern about ethical shots when I’m hunting in the cold. More practice so I don’t even think about the shot anymore. My Colorado mule deer was shot without trying to put the pin on a specific point. I had practiced enough that I knew where the pin would be. If you watch my video you can see my shakes and then the shot. Diabetes, my practice coach. Right through the heart.

Blood sugar levels can also effect your eyesight. I wear glasses now but if my sugar is off, my vision is off. Having your vision change during a hunt is always a challenge. In my next episode I’ll talk about some of the ways to help vision management as I discuss pre-hunt requirements and planning.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Diabetes and Hunting; Episode 1



After talking to Mike, he told me that Chico and him were talking about my diabetes and how I should blog about it. Living with it for this long it’s kind of second nature for me to make sure I’m prepped and prepared for any of my outdoor activates. I guess that after those guys had to get the “prep” talk when we were at the ATA, it might have opened their eyes that Diabetes really is a life changer.

For this first episode, I’m going to give a little back ground on how I discovered that I was diabetic and some of the initial changes that I had to make in my life. Then we’ll chat about how that changes your hunting and out door activities.

I, like so many others, simply missed the first signs that my body was trying to tell me that something was wrong. All through my school years I was always a “bean pole” as my mom called me. At 15, I was 6’2” and 135 lbs… High winds just went right around me. Growing up with horses and hunting, I was always extremely active. During those teenage years I ate constantly and drank enormous amounts of pop and juice… never knowing I was showing the first signs of diabetes. When I got married I had finally made it up to 165 lbs, which still didn’t help my final height of 6”3” look any bigger than a cedar post with cloths on. My appetite was still voracious and I drank like a fish (what a ridiculous euphemism). It wasn’t until 1992 that I started to wonder about my health.

In 1992, with assistance from Mike, I decided to build my own house. After 8 months of using up vacation days at work and working late into the night, the house was done. However, during this whole exhausting process, I noticed that opposite of what you would think, my weight ballooned up! Huh? I never changed my eating habits, I was continuously exhausted (no time off work, working on house, new baby….yikes) but I put on over 45 lbs. Then, within months of completion, my weight dropped back down, losing all the weight I gained. Again, my eating habits never changed. I was still drinking constantly…and what goes in must come out…a HUGH sign of diabetes that I did not know about.

Over the next few years I constantly dealt with living with a bottle of pop in my hand and a restroom close by. Then there were the changes in attitude…I was moody and angry, I snapped at people and was overly aggressive. Another sign of diabetes I knew nothing about. Around about this time, my eye sight was getting off. I’d always had perfect vision so it was something that really concerned me. So, I went to the eye doctor for a full check up. Since I went to an Ophthalmologist instead of a general Optometrist, my exam was more medically oriented than corrective. During this check up, the doctor asked me if I’d had any blood work done lately. No?, then let’s just send you over to the lab and have it done, just because. Later that night I called the lab to find out what the results were and what the doctor was looking for. The lab tech sounded a bit concerned and was surprised I was home…. Huh? They instructed me to call my doctor, asap, after I got to the ER.!?! What had shown up on my blood work was a fasting glucose level of 333. Since a healthy person’s glucose level should be between 70 and 115, I was just a tad bit high…to say the least.

The nightmare begins:

Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit accident prone and I’m quite familiar with hospitals, quite. After hours of waiting and finding out that I was severely dehydrated (How? I drink constantly!) and after receiving 3 bags of saline solution to rehydrate me, I got the bad news;
Welcome to the world of diabetes.

I guess one positive thing was discovered… I did not have diabetic retinopathy. My eye’s were just getting bad naturally. So, I guess I should be thankful for getting a little bit “fuzzy”, it saved my life. I found out that the excessive drinking was my body’s way of trying to flush the over abundance of “sugars” out of my system…before my kidneys gave out. It explained the weight gain while I was building my house… I was so active that my body was starting to store more sugars as fat. Stress was shooting my sugar storage to whole new hights. Most diabetic discoverys of type II diabetes, is found in excessively over weight individuals. The first step in taking care of yourself is weight control. Some diabetics even stop being diabetic after they’ve lost the excess weight. My being so active all the time was what kept me alive. I had enough activity to keep burning those carbohydrates enough that it prevented me from going into a comma, for years.

Changes:

After I was release from the hospital, I had a string of appointments already scheduled. First, with my primary care physician, then an endocrinologist, a dietician, and a diabetic specialist and training center. Let me note that I am very needle phobic. From all the blood testing done I’m surprised the floor didn’t jump up and hit me in the face….oh yea, I was laying down each time…. Whew. Anyways, from all the blood work done the “crew” of doctors decided to put me on a pill regimen. The dietician then opened my eyes on what was ok to eat and what was not. Imagine my surprise to find out bread of all things is really bad for diabetics… it’s full of carbohydrates. Those quarter pound cheese burgers and large fries……pull the buns and the fries and it’s closer to being ok to eat. The list of changes I had to make immediately is a long one.

For this episode, I just want to point out that something like diabetes can really sneak up on you if you let it. That’s the key, if you let it. Your body will tell you there’s a problem, we all need to learn how to listen. For diabetics, here’s a couple of warning signs that might indicate something is not quite right; mood swings, excessive thirst, excessive urination, vision problems, weight gain, injuries slow to heal and minor cuts and abrasions scaring easily. High blood sugars can cause you to be tired all the time or sleep a lot. Your fingers and/or toes tingle at times for no reason. Low sugars can cause you to shake and stumble. Get too high and you can go into a comma and your organs shut down. Get too low and you can go into a comma and your organs shut down….no, I’m not repeating myself. Think of blood sugars like cotton candy...what happens when cotton candy gets wet? That's kinda what happens when you have too much sugar in your blood stream....things clog up and circulation is destroyed.

Next episode – Changing my life and making a decision to live.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Benefits 4 Kids

Benefits 4 Kids

Saturday night several members of the UNJ team attended the 6th annual Winter Pig Roast fundraiser. This is the second time I’ve taken my family to this event and it will not be the last. Many folks are familiar with the Make-A-Wish foundation, the B4K foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) focuses on the same type of support but while Make-A-Wish does not provide “Out door” type adventures, B4K does. It has granted the outdoor wishes of dozens of children with life threatening and/or life limiting illnesses since it’s creation in 1998.

The Annual Pig Roast it one of B4K’s biggest fundraising events and is usually sold out well in advance of the event. This years tickets were sold out in early December, shortly after they were announced.

While the Pig Roast is a great time for everyone with good food, door prizes, raffles and auctions, it is also a time to reflect on who the event is for…the kids. When you look at the list of kids you need to remember that these brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandchildren, these children, these growing young folks, are all part of this program because they face lives complicated by such things as sever burns, cystic fibrosis, tumors and Cancer (to name a few). They are sometimes restricted because they are unable to get around and even sometimes unable to survive without the support of a wheel chair and life support equipment. But they are people too and have the desire to experience activities we take for granted but B4K takes for a cause. We need to recognize these children and the struggles they face as they grow into young adults and eventually to adulthood.

We also need to recognize that sometimes they don’t even get that opportunity. Life.

The B4K event is also a time for tears. A time to remember and rejoice in the lives of those whom God has decided he has a need for by his side. For them to join him, in peace, without pain and for some, even to walk in his gardens once more. Saturday was an event that showed what B4K is really about. Dozens of supporters attending the event are the parents and family members of those children who lost their battles on earth, yet ascend to their “adventures” eternally. This event was even more so. I would guess that at least 30 attendees, if not more, were there for one child. His parents were there, his family was there, he was not. He had passed away on Monday. Monday! Six days before, yet his parents and family were there. If you would ask what a single adventure could mean to a child, ask this family. Ask all the families of these children. Sometimes, it means everything.






We can all help. Some by donating and giving to organizations like B4K, some by giving their time or their fields or boats, as guides, as mentors or just as friends.

Attend one of these events, you won’t walk out as the same person, only God could do that and he’d just look at you and say…. I told you so.

I know, He told me.

Benefits4Kids.



Friday, January 22, 2010

Pheasants.

I’m not sure if I should call this my first pheasant hunt or not. See, I went a couple of times… 28 years ago! … never since. I got a call from my buddy Ned that he was going out for his birthday and wanted to know if I wanted to join him. DUH, you had to ask? OK, now to make sure I have everything… field vest, orange hat, small game license, box of #5 pheasant loads (Winchester) for my Khan O/U 20 gage (don’t laugh, you’ll see why in a minute…) and my cameras. For this trip, I was going to try out the Epic clip on video camera and see how it works.

This was going to be a “paid” hunt. At BT Joe’s is not like hunting ground animals behind a fence, it’s more of a pay for a bird and hope it stays in the fields your allowed to hunt, type hunt. The owner drives out to the fields we’ll be hunting and while we’re in the club house, he places birds throughout the field. They are now free birds. They can stay, run or fly away…and some do. The benefit to us, as the hunters, is that anything in the field is fair game (birds, that is). Even if we only bought 20 birds, if we flush 40 and drop 30….we keep them all, no extra cost. Even if we flush quail or chukars.

So, after a round of introductions for the 5 hunters and the owner (Bruce Tobias) and a round of Happy Birthday’s to Ned, we gather the dogs and head to the fields. Needless to say, I’m just to darn happy for my own good! All the hunters are full of good advice and the walk out is spent listening and learning…every time you go out is an opportunity to learn.

The dogs are a little too excited and full of energy…I think they just about knocked me down half a dozen times! In fact, they’re so excited that when we get to the start of the field one of the dogs starts hunting and just plain refuses to turn back on command….yikes. It just happens that it’s Ned’s dog, Bentley….loves to hunt! So Ned loads up quick and jogs out to Bentley (while getting a little irritated…) who promptly flushes a nice hen, which Ned promptly drops to the ground. Happy Birthday Ned!

Now that the game is on, the rest of us get loaded up and spread out. I’m walking next to Mike V. and his camera, who just so happens to own a couple of the dogs working for us. While we’re walking he’s helping me to learn how to read the dogs as they work the field. When he say’s “get up there” cause the dog changes attitude….get up there! I no sooner got to the dog when she pushed the bird and BLAM! My first pheasant ever! Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have a big $$ gun to hunt birds with! Not only that but after knocking down 3 birds with 4 shots (missed the last one, changed to my left hand cause my right arm was getting tired…didn’t practice left handed enough) those guys were all over checking out my little $200 Khan O/U. Later in the afternoon, Sal (one of Mike V’s dogs) flushed a beautiful rooster right in front of me. It exploded flying to my right.
It just so happened that since I had switch to my left hand (ambidextrous) he was flying in a good line for a shot. Unfortunately, I haven’t been practicing left handed wing shooting and my shot was just a tad bit behind him….ever see a pheasant with no tail feathers? Seriously, just like a knife he had absolutely no feathers on his tail. I couldn’t follow up with my second barrel because he flew between me and the end hunter… who missed 2 shots at him. Got to watch the tailless bird fly high over the woods…and keep going. Good thing they grow back.


By the end of the day, everyone had dropped some birds. Out of 20 birds bought (a mix of hen and rooster pheasants), we’ve bagged 16, plus a nice little red quail who thought she could out fly the birthday boy. One of the birds I dropped was a real nice looking black pheasant. The neck colors that are normally a bronze/brown color were black with gold highlights. If the dogs didn’t decide to get all competitive about who got to carry it, it wouldn’t be missing a huge chuck of neck/breast feathers and I would have got it mounted…oh well, just means I have to get out there and try it again! Darn!

We headed back to the club house were Bruce had the grill going and was getting a round of potatoes and steaks ready for our plates! Yum! While he was working on the grill, Ned and Pete got going and breasted out all the birds. I tried to get in there but was told he was in the grove…just keep the birds coming. All in all an excellent way to spend a nice 30 degree day outside. The Epic cam lasted about 30 minutes on regular AAA batteries which created a 30 minute recording. I’ll be posting some of the video later…as soon as I figure out what is good and what just makes you dizzy watching me walk…