Archives for June 2014

Smokey Bear Turns 70

Smokey Bear turned 70 last month.  The people at the Ad Council even made this weird video to commemorate it.  Everyone knows Smokey Bear.  He is an true piece of Americana.  He is also a carefully crafted piece of marketing genius.

Smokey Bear is most famous for his catchphrase,”only you can prevent forest fires.”  What people don’t realize is that Smokey Bear is responsible for just about every wildfire you hear about on the news.  The forest systems in the west are dependent on fire.  Before the 1900, fire was an ever present factor in forests but with settlement, an anti fire mentality was fostered and the natural fire cycles were suppressed.  Over time, fuel that would otherwise have been burned off every few years, accumulated.   Now when you have a fire, it turns into a canopy fire and it cannot be controlled just like the Wallow Fire in Arizona that burned 40,000 acres in 8 hours.

The very anti fire mindset that Smokey Bear likes to promote is what causes wildfires.  And what’s even more ironic is National Parks were set aside to be preserved yet they are literally tinderboxes waiting to go up in smoke.  What makes it even more complicated is there is no practical way to defuse the bomb.  Just like we have a tendency to do with wildlife management, humans have tipped the balance the opposite direction and created a whole new set of problems.  We have taken fire out of the forest ecosystems and are now reaping the consequences.  The Forest Service needs to come clean about this issue and instead of wasting money on some stupid bear promoting common sense ideas like not being an irresponsible dipshit and setting the campground on fire,  they need to be addressing what we need to do to reintroduce fire to the ecosystem and begin to mitigate the growing wildfire problem

If by shameful waste, he means the 30 grand per year  the government spends on a Smokey Bear hot air ballon, then yeah, he's right.

If by shameful waste, he means the 30 grand per year the government spends on a Smokey Bear hot air ballon, then yeah, he’s right.

Throwback Thursday

Thanksgiving day 1997

Thanksgiving day 1997

Got my deer head back

I got called off today so I hopped in the truck and made the drive up to Wintersville Ohio to pick up my 2012 Missouri rifle buck I dropped off at the end of last summer.  Nick Krivoniak, owner of Vivid Taxidermy did the mount and I’m pretty blown away by the quality of his work.  I wanted something a little different so I chose an open mouth pose with the lip curling since that’s what this buck was doing when I shot him.  I’ve got quite a few mounts but this one is by far the best one in the collection.  I know who will be doing my mounts from now on.  Outstanding job Nick!  Head over to his Facebook page and give him a like.  Vivid Taxidermy

Deer Mount

open mouth deer mount

 

open mouth deer mount

The attention to detail is amazing.

 

 

GEOFISH Mexico

The guys from AEG made this this video last year.  They trek through Mexico and continue on to the the tip of South America on a fishing expedition that would scare the hell out of 99% of people.  It embodies a true spirit of adventure and its refreshing to see people really pushing the limits.  The cinematography and adventurous spirit of this film is amazing and it would be really cool to see something done like this in the hunting industry.

Flashback Friday

Colorado AntelopeOf all the hunting I’ve done over the years, few hunts stand out in my mind as much as the pronghorn hunt I went on last August.  It was so many things in one it’s almost hard to describe.  It was hot, uncomfortable, frustrating, dirty, tiring, and at some points, just downright shitty.  It also turned into one of the coolest things I’ve ever done afield.

Summer of 2012, my dad and his friends did this hunt with some of his friends from Missouri.  They had pretty good success and in general, enjoyed the trip.  It sounded pretty straight forward.  Sit in a blind by a water hole and when a buck came for a drink, shoot him in the ribs.  Yeah, sounds simple enough.  Sign me up.

By the time we landed in Colorado Springs, I knew shit was about to get weird.  Our flight had been cancelled, re-scheduled, and then delayed.  Dad’s bags didn’t show up at baggage claim.  We were late getting in camp and by the time we arrived, everyone was in bed.  The next morning, when everyone hit the prairie, we were standing around, thumbs firmly in our asses, waiting for the store to open at 8 so we could buy our license.  I’m somewhat superstitious, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned.

Since dad was in full street clothes mode with no bow, he sat that afternoon with me.  It was the only fun day I had.  We were together and were able to talk and we even saw one doe come to water while the rest of the harem and the giant buck guarding it stayed 200 yards away.  The next 2 days I saw exactly zero antelope.  None.  Zero.

At this point, I started questioning my outfitter’s judgement.  I’m a guide myself, and I know the rules of being a good client.  Rule #1 is don’t guide the guide.  I couldn’t help it.  No one in camp was having anything close to success.  They simply weren’t coming to water.  It was readily apparent that something needed to change.  But being the good client is sometimes hard, and I sucked it up and sat where I was put, hoping these guys knew what they were talking about.

The last day of the hunt started out a little later than usual and as we were driving in, our guide, Oscar spotted a lone buck bedded across the prairie.  He stopped and asked if I wanted to try and go kill him.  Hell yes.  Finally we were going to try and make something happen.  Even if this didn’t work, it beat the hell out of sitting in a hot blind all day with 4 million flies and no cell phone service.

Antelope Stalk

Oscar grabbed a decoy from the truck bed and we started our approach.  It is important to note here that the decoy we used was meant to be stuck in the dirt and left, not carried on spot and stalk mission.  It was similar to a 3d bow target and weighed about 20 pounds.  When we got half a mile or so from the bedded goat, the buck spotted the decoy and locked on to it.  Luckily, he failed to notice the absurdity of an antelope moving sideways across the open prairie with two grown men crouched behind it.  At the 200 yard mark, he stood and started toward us.

I watched him coming toward us with his head lowered and mane standing.  He walked with purpose across a small draw and up the other side.  At this point, I realized he was committed and a shot opportunity was close.  “When he gets to that cactus, you shoot him,”  Oscar said.  “It looks about 50 yards.  When I say draw, draw.”  As soon as my view was obscured by the decoy, I heard the magic word and cranked the Hoyt to full draw.  Oscar slid the decoy to the side and there was nothing between me and the antelope but air.  Deep breath, pin settled, and release.  I watched the arrow bury to the feathers right through his shoulder.  He made one big jump and fell right where I shot him.

Colorado Antelope2

Success!

 

I stood up kind of in awe of what just happened.  Did that really just go down?  Oscar and I exchanged a high five and I let it all set in.  The week started horribly and continued on just about the same.  The last day we tried something new and it paid off.  A weeks worth of 15 hour days sitting in that blind became totally worth the 30 exciting minutes of the stalk.  While I’m pretty sure I’ll never sit a water hole for an antelope again, I would absolutely jump at the chance to spot and stalk one.

Very rarely does something that starts as rough as this end up well.  I got lucky.  Very lucky.

Throwback Thursday

Early 90's in Southern West Virginia. I forgot how good Advantage camo was.

Early 90’s in Southern West Virginia. I forgot how good Advantage camo was.

West Virginia Licensing goes electronic

As usual, the West Virginia DNR is behind the times.  Finally we get a telecheck system.

Hunters and anglers in West Virginia will see a change Jan. 1.

That’s when the Division of Natural Resources will move the current licensing system to an all-electronic system. Curtis Taylor, chief of wildlife resources, told a legislative committee West Virginia is one of few states that still uses paper forms…

LINK

Trail Cam Bear

I haven’t posted in a few days because I’ve been on vacation.  The rare time the wife and I both have consecutive days off in the summer presented itself so we headed to Niagra Falls.  A couple days of beer drinking and being tourists have recharged us both but come tomorrow morning at 5 am, its back to business as usual.

I don’t typically use trail cams  that much but I do enjoy the novelty factor.  After seeing a few bucks sporting some velvet nubs, I created a bait site to try and see what this years crop of bucks are looking like.  No deer but I did have this bear snorting around the corn pile.  Just for size reference, that post is almost head high on me and I’m 6 feet tall.

Pa Bear

Happy Father’s Day

Father SonWhile tomorrow is actually Father’s Day, I didn’t know if I’d get a chance to post anything so consider this one preemptive.  First and foremost I want to wish my dad Steven Hatcher a great Father’s Day and I wish I could be home to spend it with him.  Hunting is what we bond over and the one thing we share an equal amount of passion for.

When I was growing up, my dad took me everywhere with him.  I loved hunting and the outdoors because I wanted to be doing what he was doing.  While other boys my age spent Saturday mornings watching cartoons, I was in the woods.  The lessons I learned with my dad transcend hunting and I can’t thank him enough for starting me young and giving me a gift I hope to pass on one day.

Flashback Friday

 

Missouri buck from a couple years ago.

Missouri buck from a couple years ago.

My taxidermist posted this on Facebook.  Here he is right after he got him mounted.  Can't wait to see it finished.

My taxidermist posted this on Facebook. Here he is right after Nick got him sewn up. Can’t wait to see it finished.