Monday, November 21, 2016

Jerky Dynasty Old Fashioned House Brand Jerky


Racking your brain for the perfect gift or stocking stuffer? Look no further than Jerky Dynasty!
You may remember a review I did a few years back on their insane variety of jerky flavors (Tasty Review) but now it's time to take it old school with Jerky Dynasty's own brand!

They boast "our house-brand jerky takes a step away from the exotic and full-force into the gourmet"
"our jerky is hung in the smokehouse for that awesome authentic smoked flavor. No liquid smoke is used to make our jerky. This is a true old fashioned jerky."

So...did it stand up to those claims?
Darn right it did & here are my grades:

Original - Real Men Eat Jerky!

Appeals to: The Jerky Novice or The Not-So-Adventurous

It's called 'original' for a reason with a basic smoke flavor, good texture, and enough goodness to heed the call of jerky.
Grade: A-
Extra credit in the smoke flavor would get it to A+!

Black Pepper - Join the Dynasty

Appeals to: The Flavor Seeker

This was my FAVORITE of the Triple Threat Pack. Great spice without setting your mouth ablaze, but enough long lasting flavor to keep you reaching for another piece. Perfection!
Grade: A+ - this is what jerky should taste like. Bravo!

Hot & Spicy - Set Your Beard on Fire!

Appeals to: The Thrill Seeker or Spice Lover

The various spices of cayenne pepper, red pepper, garlic powder etc. will ignite a spark in your mouth but isn't so overpowering to call in the fire trucks...unless you eat the whole bag! Solid spicy jerky.
Grade: A

The BEST part of this jerky?
You can get the awesome Triple Threat Pack to appeal to every level of jerky lover on your list!

Check out other fun gifts:
Shooters Bag Gift Pack
6-Pack of Alcohol Jerky (Man Cave Gifts)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Captain Hook

New place, new deer, new adventures, new successes & recognizable heartbreak. Captain Hook was a deer with a unique rack. Most would scoff at his antlers but he became one of our only hit list bucks on the new lease because he was an older deer & it was clear his rack wasn't going to change.

He was scarred up, his ears were cut & it appeared he was a fighter. We watched him in velvet at the water tank; his unmistakable right hook curling out of his brow tine were clear in all the trail cam pictures. We watched him at the protein feeders during the heat of the summer & decided he was a 'target buck'.

Opening weekend of bow season presented my husband with a few opportunities but it never came to fruition. We hunted him for over a month watching as he moved from spot to spot without much pattern to his actions.

The morning of Thursday November 10th he came into my set. I was nervous, shaking, breathing heavy, but I had time; he was calm. It wasn't quiet shooting light yet so the dance began. As the sunlight increased, his presence calmed me (well enough to focus) and I waited. Waited for the perfect shot that every bowhunter waits for. Hook was unaware of my presence & I drew on him twice.

But he danced & eliminated that little window of hope so I let down. A doe & button buck joined the dance calming him & elevating my nerves. 2 more sets of eyes to see me & ruin my shot. After 20 minutes of this, Hook finally took a step of his last dance & I released an arrow right into him.

It felt like a heart shot. It looked like a heart shot. He kicked like a heart shot. His legs buckled like a heart shot as he stumbled through cactus. The camera footage confirmed what I felt & although my arrow stuck in him I was confident I had done enough. I was shaking, uncontrollably shaking & breathing as if I had been holding my breath for minutes (I might have been the last few seconds).

I texted my husband & sent him the video. His response: 'heart shot, dead in 30 yards' along with words of congratulations. We waited over 30 minutes before we met to follow the blood trail. He couldn't be far so we started to film the tracking.

We found blood immediately on the cactus he barreled through & began following a bright red blood trail. That trail continued for 2.5 hours. We walked, we tracked, we pushed thru brush never losing blood for more than a few yards. His tracks were heavy in the mud. The arrow had punctured both sides & blood was heavy on either side of the track. After an hour the sickening feeling in my stomach started growing.

How is he not dead? What did I do wrong? Where is my arrow? How has it not come out? Maybe just around this turn or through this brush he will be laying there right? These are the questions I'll never have the answer to because after 2.5 hours the blood stopped & my tears started.

I tried to stifle them & be strong but now we had to make the heart wrenching decision to start walking back. I just stood there hoping for a miracle; maybe I would find more blood or him & I would get that overly elated feeling I wanted to feel so bad. It had been 2 years since I released an arrow on a whitetail & now I was hanging on a cliff emotionally.

We turned to leave & I fell off that cliff. Tears pouring as I walked blinded by the pain. My husband stopped & turned & embraced me & I just cried. The tears are here now as I write this less than 24 hours after it happened, in the same spot I shot him from. It was a purposeful torture to go back but it was the best place to write. It's fresh, it's raw, it hurts, its sickening. We made it back with confusion, disappointment & heartbreak weighing heavily on my exhausted body.

After breakfast (or almost lunch) we reviewed the footage again on a bigger screen. The shot still looked good & my confusion was still high. I have made many bad shots; as a bowhunter you will mess up, make bad shots, and fail miserably; it's just part of it. When I make those bad shots I know it, I acknowledge it, I learn from it & I fix it the best I can; but this has made my mind mush & it hurts.

After all is said & done the only conclusion I have deduced is my shot was too low. The downward trajectory forced it out the brisket & somehow I missed the pump station on the entrance. He didn't jump the string, he didn't' hunker down like 90% of all deer I've hunted do & maybe that was the missing puzzle piece all along. All the signs were there; the reaction of the deer, the blood trail. I'll never know if that's the answer but it's the only solace I have to tell myself to render this hole in my heart.

It's never been about buck or antler size & it never will. The feeling remains the same for any animal not recovered. I am physically & emotionally sick writing this & it truly breaks my heart. I can only pray that I missed vitals & he will somehow continue to be the fighter he was & survive this & I know I will have to do the same.

I've said it before numerous times & in a previous blog, this, all of heals & it haunts & this one will haunt me for quite a while as I replay it over & over in my head.

UPDATE: I shot the buck on Thursday morning at 7:52 am...we hunted until Sunday morning & never saw buzzards anywherE.

UPDATE: On November 18th I went to hunt hogs & about 7pm (after dark) Captain Hook showed up at the feeder!!!! I could see his unique rack under the red hog motion light & stared in disbelief! He had a slight limp in his right side (arrow exit side) but was eating & seemed fine!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hot Mess Hog

June 17, 2016 - Another Friday night at the lease with my husband hunting hogs...the only problem was neither of us have had any success on the new place while hunting with each other; all of our kills had been while hunting with someone else so we were eager to break the curse of the new lease. It was hot...105 degrees hot and I was at the "4 Doe" spot sitting in direct sunshine while Donald was at the "Dirty South" spot enjoying some much needed shade.

It was just a few minutes into the hunt when I received a text from him saying he just shot a small sow, only to be followed with another text that he shot a small boar too! I was pumped for him and wanted to join him to share his success but my hunt had just started. As he cleaned both hogs and put them on ice, I sat patiently waiting on hogs to show up and the sun to go down.

As the hours passed, I was debating how long I wanted to sit. The last feeding is at 9:30pm so I text Donald and said to come pick me up at 11:00pm. At 10:55 I began slowly packing up my things...backpack, camera, tripod, water & Gatorade, arrows, & bow. I stood and put my backpack on, grabbed my bow and turned around to fold up the chair. As I took 2 steps towards the road I heard crunching coming down the road! My first thought was to text my husband not to come pick me up yet because he would spook the hog. I slowly crept back to my spot and waited for him to come into the feeder. He was a solo boar and I knew he would be on edge.

The next series of events took place over 20 minutes but required an incredible effort to not ruin the hunt and provides the name of this blog...Hot Mess! First, I had to get an arrow nocked and my release back on because even if nothing else came together I could at least get a shot on him. The boar went behind the feeder, I didn't have a shot and he wasn't moving from that spot for a while. Knowing I had some time (hogs tend to eat every kernel of corn before moving on to the next pile, unlike deer who tend to graze a bit more) I wanted to get my backpack off but my water bottle in the side pouch still had some ice in it and setting it down would make too much noise. I tried to sit back down in the chair to release my backpack there but I felt my Thermacell dangling off my backpack and knew it would clackitty clack clack on the metal frame of the chair. So I decided the backpack would stay on, I just needed to buckle the chest strap to distribute the weight for a good shot.

Could I even attempt to get the shot on film? I knew I couldn't get the legs of the tripod extended as quietly as I wanted so I just opened it up on the shortest setting, slowly, very slowly, unzipped the camera bag and placed the camera on the tripod. All I wanted was for it to be pointed in the right direction at this stage of the hunt. I stood and watched as the hog continued to feed where I didn't have a shot. I looked down at the camera and saw some brush was blocking the potential future shot; it needed to be higher but could I pull this off? Somehow I used one hand to unscrew the top portion of the tripod to raise the top pole up as high as I could but accidently unscrewed the adjusting nut too far and it fell on the ground. Ugh! All that work to quietly raise the tripod and I messed it up. I fumbled around quietly in the dark searching blindly for the piece while still keeping my eyes on the hog. I just knew he was going to finally turn and give me a shot when I wasn't ready.

Success! I found it and slowly put it back in and began the process of raising it all over again. The camera was as high as it was going to go and I was as ready as I was going to be...or so I thought. The boar finally moved to the right of the feeder and presented a shot. As I drew back I knew something was wrong but the hog moved and I was forced to let down. My release was too loose. I had put it on so quickly I didn't realize I hadn't tightened it to my liking. Quietly I re-adjusted my release but the hog had moved into the brush and I didn't have a shot.

As the hog slowly made his way back into view he was now on the shadowed side of the feeder and I needed to use my bow light. As I clicked it on I could tell he was nervous. I was actually surprised he had hung around for nearly 20 minutes already and knew my time and the corn on the ground was running out. As soon as I drew he backed up and closed off his shoulder with his leg; so I held my draw waiting for the perfect shot opportunity and as he finally put his front leg forward he opened up the sweet spot and I let it fly!

As my arrow hit, he turned and ran off with it still stuck in him but I heard a crash shortly after. I wasn't positive the noise was him going down rather just barreling through the brush to get away. The shot placement felt great but I was worried I hit the other shoulder on the exit and didn't get a pass through so my blood would be minimal. I texted my husband and told him we should wait at least 30 minutes to give him plenty of time to expire.

As I sat there I looked around at everything that was going on and realized what a hot mess this whole situation was. If I had waited just 2 more minutes before packing up I would have been set up better and more comfortable, but nothing ever comes easy for me and I laughed.

30 minutes later my husband came to meet me to help track and to my surprise there was good blood at the impact site and we immediately picked up a blood trail. I was pumped and within just 35 yards I saw him laying in the brush...exactly where I had heard the last bit of crashing after the shot! I couldn't contain my excitement when I saw him because I could see the bubbles and lung matter coming out of the entrance wound and he was much bigger than I was expecting! Of course he went into some pretty thick brush but we were able to drag him out.

As we hung him up to weigh him, he registered 143.4 lbs on the scale and as we cut him open we saw that my arrow had pierced both sides but it just wasn't a complete pass through. He broke my broad head off on the exit wound side and splintered my arrow into 3 pieces but the loss of an arrow and broad head couldn't stifle my excitement! The anatomy inside told the story of the shot and why he died so quickly! My arrow clipped the top part of the heart and punctured both lungs!

It was another great night in the woods with my husband and we broke the curse too, although I had to wait a bit longer than he did for my success and almost blew it by leaving too early! What a hot mess of a hunt!

Video of the hunt here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dirty South Hogs (May 14, 2016)

It was Saturday night, which for most of you know that's #SaturdayNightSwine! I was set up at the Dirty South feeder spot & Tina was at another spot waiting on hogs. Trail cameras had shown hogs coming in before dark and I was pumped! It's been a long time since I've had hogs show up during daylight hours...

About 8:00 pm, 4 nice hogs came out from the left of the feeder; I was hidden behind one bush, sitting in a chair, bow in hand. There were 2 black ones & 2 brown ones; one of the brown ones was pretty aggressive bumping & grunting the other hogs & I could see he had good teeth on him. However, in past experiences I have learned with hogs that trying to be picky can sometimes leave you empty handed because they spook each other & move around a lot eliminating shots. The plan now is to take a shot on a hog that is most calm or presents the best shot first. As I waited for that shot opportunity the aggressive one broke away from the bunch & went to the right & was focused on me, or what he thought was something suspicious.

I tried to stay as still as possible because without the cover of darkness I knew I could be exposed. Finally, 3 of the hogs lined up for a great shot & I took it. I watched as my arrow went through the first black hog & stuck in the shoulder of the second brown hog behind him! As they scattered I was shaking & full of excitement but 2 of the hogs were still hanging around in the brush. I waited but they finally left.

As I sat there waiting I noticed my green lighted nock in the brush to the right of the feeder where the hogs I shot had ran. I decided to go check it before it became too dark just to see the amount of blood on it. It felt like a great shot & the footage confirmed it. As I was kneeling in the brush just 10 yards to the right of the feeder looking at my arrow, another group of hogs came into the feeder with a huge group of piglets!

Feel free to laugh along with me because here I am 25 yards from my bow, hiding in the brush with an arrow in my hand trying to figure out how to get to my bow without being seen (I had my 10mm on my hip but we have all agreed there would be no gun hunting on the lease). The only way was to go back around through the brush & hope they wouldn't see me. As I crawled through brush I was just hoping maybe if they only heard me they would think I was another hog & wouldn't spook. Somehow I made it back to my spot but on the back side of it leaving me in another dilemma. The lone bush I had for cover was my only hope but my bow was in front of my chair on the ground & getting to it would expose me if I moved the chair. I reverted back to my gymnastic days & planked across the chair while hiding behind the bush & somehow managed to get my bow off the ground.

One step down; next try to move the chair forward slightly so I have a shooting lane around the bush. I did manage to stick my arm through the thorny bush & turn the camera back on but off to my left was the aggressive hog from earlier watching me again. I looked & saw foam coming out of his mouth (which I confirmed later with a picture of some nasty slobber on the ground!). I was able to inch the chair forward just enough to get a clean shot. I launched an arrow at a small sow & my arrow zipped through her. As she ran off the piglets came right back! I grabbed another arrow & said "why not" as I launched another arrow into a group of piglets. A few ran off but they kept coming back!

I didn't want to use any more arrows on piglets because they can be hard to find so I decided to see how close I could get to them under the feeder. I began stalking to them & even though they would spook they would come right back. I was within about 8 yards when they finally decided they had enough of this game and left unwillingly. I was having a blast though!

Now the tracking had to start but let me set the tone for the had rained a little earlier in the day, it was hot with 95% humidity & every known bug in the area was out to annoy me. So lets go....

Tina hadn't seen anything yet so as she continued to hunt I started tracking the first hog. I found good blood & began crawling through the brush when I heard someone coming through the gate & a vehicle driving by just 50 yards away. I bolted out of the brush, slammed my head on a branch, saw a bright light (from the head hit, not the headlights of the vehicle ha!), & kept running to go see who it was. (There shouldn't have been anyone passing through the property however, I found out later because of a lock issue on the main gate they had to come through our property to get out a secondary exit). My spirits sank a little because they had just driven right by where my first hog had ran to. Hoping they didn't bump him I went back to the blood trail.

As the brush became thicker I was crawling on my hands & knees finding small holes in the brush to stand up from time to time to give my legs a break from being crouched down. As I was crawling looking for blood face to face with the ground I saw some eyes looking back at me. It was small & camouflaged & as I shined my white light on it, the bull bat (night hawk) freaked out & started trying to fly...except he flew right into my face! It was so thick he couldn't fly up & kept hitting the brush crashing back into me, flapping his wings, & crying out...or maybe that was me letting out some random noises as I lay on the ground covering my face from getting clawed or scratched! All I could think was Are You Kidding Me! How does this happen to me? Here I am in the middle of the brush getting attacked by a night hawk! After about 30 seconds of this going on he finally found a hole to fly up & away from me. As I lay there dripping in sweat, covered in spider webs & my arms scratched up, I just laughed out loud & realized that really did just happen!

I continued searching for the first hog but ran out of blood & decided to try to find the small sow I shot second. It had to be easier than this one & less dramatic! I went back to the feeder & immediately started following blood to the left. About 40 yards in I found her! Success without a bird beating! I searched around for the piglet but was unsuccessful, so I began dragging the sow out of the brush to the road. 

I made my way back to the arrow that had hit the second hog on the pass through of the first hog. I knew I didn't get much penetration but I had to finish the job & confirm he wasn't dead or wounded. I looked for blood but didn't find anything; I followed a few paths that he could have taken looking for any signs of blood, fresh droppings or even a wounded growl. I didn't find any signs & I was satisfied I didn't do much damage because the arrow hit & fell out within 10 yards of him running off.

I had been tracking hogs for over 2 hours now & was dripping with sweat, bruised & cut up from the crawling & thick brush, oh & the night hawk attack, but I was so excited. I checked in with Tina who hadn't seen anything but figured with the vehicle driving through the property the hogs probably scattered. We loaded up & headed home...but in the back of my mind I couldn't get over the first hog not being found. It was a great shot, I had great blood & it was driving me crazy.

The next morning I headed back out to look for the hog again; it had rained even more over night & everything was wet but I had to try. I looked for another hour & found a little more blood but never recovered the hog. My clothes were soaked, my arms were bleeding again from more brush scratches & somehow a worm made its way into my boot & stung my ankle causing extreme burning pain & swelling. I wrapped a baby wipe around my ankle to soothe it & decided I had done all I could do.

Just another adventure of chasing hogs & loving every minute of it! Enjoy the video, I wish I could have filmed the night hawk attack! Maybe next time!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Love Story

I wish I would have met you sooner had I known how much you would change me. You gave me life and a new perspective on the world, something I never knew existed at such a level.

You were a challenge from the start; to learn your characteristics, your methods, and your tiny quirks, yet you still challenge me every day as I continue to learn, grow, and progress with you.

You have granted me the most intense heartbreak, consuming joy, and emotion filled days, nights, and years that could never hold a price.

We have been many places together, experiencing some of the most breath-taking views, adrenaline-filled nights and heart-stopping moments.

You have never failed me, never broken, never waivered; but I have misunderstood you, failed to trust you, or doubted myself with you. But those moments have to lead to growth.

Your artistry and refinement are systemic as you bend ever so delicately, yet maintaining intense strength and power.

As my hand grips around you, I pull you ever so slowly to me, and hold on just for a moment before the most perfect release. The rush of the flight is a spectacle to witness day or night as it collides in pure exquisite elegance.

Through you I see things differently, more focused and aligned, diminishing all the outside world and for that I am forever grateful.

Happy Valentines Day to my beautiful bow!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Furthest Bow Kill

It was a Monday night, January 18, 2016 to be exact, and I felt compelled to go out searching for hogs because I was unable to go on the weekend. I met up with Jackie, one of the girls who worked on the ranch, and we set out stalking for hogs. As we walked down the road we saw 2 big black spots running across the field in the dark; we tried to turn to cut them off but they linked up with another group of hogs that came into range before we were ready. Frozen in an open road with no cover and less than perfect wind, I stood and watched their movement. We couldn’t advance forward so we crouched and watched. Unfortunately they started to scatter, I stood and began to draw on one but they crossed a small hill and headed downwind of us eliminating any attempt of a shot.

As we made our way back down the main road towards the target feeder I saw another large group of hogs crossing the field. Once again we stopped and I watched them cross the road. This time we had good wind but they were splitting up and moving away from us. I was conflicted between continuing on to the hog at the feeder and trying to stalk this group. As I stood and contemplated, I watched the hogs; the group had stopped nearly 80+ yards away and 3 solo hogs had broken away from the group and were now parallel to us and the road. I ranged one of the solo hogs at 48 yards.

I was unsure of the shot at that distance. I practice out to 55 yards, mostly for elk hunting, but this was at night, in tall grass, on a smaller target, and out of my comfort zone. The hog I ranged moved away but another one nearby was still standing and feeding in the field, so I drew and decided to take the shot. My hope was that if I missed it would be a clean miss and the group would spook slightly, move on and we could continue to stalk to the hog at the feeder. The red light on my bow was dim at 50 yards so I took a few extra looks outside of the peep. I put my lighted 50 yard pin on the hog and released.

Although I have increased my draw weight to 47-48 pounds, at 50 yards there is still some time to watch my arrow get there. So as Jackie and I stood in the dark watching my blue lighted nock fly through the air I heard it hit! Not only did the arrow hit on the hogs left shoulder area, but it squealed, completed a 180 turn and dropped right in her tracks! As I began to freak out, Jackie was just as excited. Jackie is a hunter, but has never been involved in bow hunting and as she expressed “that was the coolest thing I have ever seen” I responded in disbelief by saying “I am not that good, they never drop like that!”

I ranged the hog again to confirm I wasn’t completely insane and it said 48 yards. Jackie tapped me on the shoulder and said “Candace, you were standing back here next to me”. Apparently I had taken a few steps forward after I shot to anticipate the hog running and I needed to keep my red light on her for as long as possible. So I took a few steps back to where Jackie was still standing and ranged again. 50 yards! I nearly fell over from disbelief but still had to finish the job.

As a bow hunter typically the only time an animal will drop like that is due to a spine shot which requires a follow up shot. With my pistol on my hip and my AR-15 in Jackie’s hands, we slowly made our way over to the downed hog. I told Jackie, if she gets up to run shoot her! As we approached I looked for my arrow in her spine but couldn’t see it. She wasn’t trying to get up but still breathing so I told Jackie to put a bullet behind the ear for our safety and to ensure faster expiration because I was unsure of where she had been hit. As we flipped her over to see my shot I found my arrow broken and bloody, lying under her body. To my surprise there was a broad head hole right in her lower shoulder where I had pierced her heart!

The rainbow effect of my arrow at 50 yards created a perfect downward angle right behind her shoulder and it had created just enough penetration to knock her down. I was completely baffled and stunned that I had just made that shot! Everyone told me I should have just said “yeah I am that good” or “I do that all the time” but my over-excitement clearly showed that didn’t happen all the time!

I practice shooting my bow quite often, I practice out to 55 yards, I even practice in the dark, but to see it come to fruition with a witness by my side, I was in heaven.
We drug her to the road and weighed her on our hitch hoist at 133.5lbs. It was officially my longest confirmed kill shot ever with a bow and one of the few shots where tracking was not needed!  I was impressed with her extremely long Russian snout and the smile on my face could not be erased for days!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tina’s Thanksgiving Thriller

About 7 years ago I met Tina at work and we instantly bonded over our love for the outdoors; her passion for fishing and my insane addiction to hunting led to hours of conversation and story swapping. After years of listening to my incessant outdoor adventures I guess she decided to try it out. At age 50 Tina bought a rifle (a shotgun and a mountain of hunting gear) and decided to start hunting. The following year she told me she wanted to learn to bow hunt & I was elated. We made a trip to the bow shop, got her all set up & she began practicing. She killed a doe and some hogs with her rifle but never had many bow hunting opportunities that year. You should know that Tina is one of the most dedicated new hunters I have ever seen; researching, reading, practicing, and participating in every part of the hunt from start to finish learning as much as she can and it was about to pay off in a big way.
Fortunately we were able to make a trip to a favorite place of mine in South Texas. My husband and I are always blessed to go on doe patrol (doe/herd management) and even more so to bring Tina with us. I knew the opportunities for her first bow kill would be abundant and it would be a trip to remember.

Upon arrival we set up a ground blind and stalked for hogs that night; I chased a javelina with my pistol, but no luck on either. Thanksgiving morning as we were walking in the dark to the ground blind we spotted a hog. As we stood in a line next to each other, my husband, Tina & I waited for this hog to come into range. Tina’s comfort zone was 25 yards or less and as I ranged him she prepared for action. With our red lights on him he made his way closer but was facing us eliminating a good shot. At 18 yards Tina started backing up getting a bit nervous, but I was able to get her to stand her ground. At 16 yards he turned, Tina shot and we watched her lighted nock dart off into the thick South Texas brush. Everyone was so excited and I could see her smile even in the pitch black of night! She had just arrowed her first hog!
The shot was good, just a bit high in the lungs, so after a quick look we decided to give him some time and set up in the ground blind for more hogs. Still beaming with joy from her shot, I was now in the shooters seat ready and waiting when a group of hogs started feeding in. I could hear them grunting and eating on the corn but didn’t have a visual yet.  Finally, a boar came into view at 12 yards and I launched my arrow. He squealed and ran down the road, then 20 more seconds of squealing, followed by the squeal of death! My face lit up because I knew he was down! Tina changed seats with me hoping for more hogs but with possibly 2 dead hogs around the odds were against us.
We finally exited the blind and immediately spotted my hog lying in the road; my first full blondie hog! We took pictures while my husband and friend made their way over to see our kills! My husband had already shot a javelina with his bow that morning too. We started crawling through the thick brush to look for Tina’s hog, and after about 60 yards of getting stuck and stabbed by the brush we found him! The excitement of her first bow kill will be a moment none of us will ever forget. As she walked up to him all of her hard work and hours of practicing were validated; it was also a very special moment for me. I was there for the ignition of the hunting spark, helping her get her first bow, providing the little knowledge I have, and standing beside her as she shot and recovered her first animal with a bow…I was a proud and overjoyed friend and fellow hunter!
As we loaded up the hogs and made our way back through the ranch we spotted a group of javelina. Perfect! Tina had her bow in hand as I ranged the group at 35 yards. As we started walking toward the group 2 more javelina ran into the road at 26 yards. We stopped and she shot! Immediately upon her arrow slicing through the javelina she let out a squeal of her own followed by laughter and high fives from everyone! It was another moment I will never forget because she was able to see this shot in full daylight and watch him run just a few yards before expiring. She has just notched 2 of her first bow kills in one morning, Thanksgiving morning! What a great start!

The evening hunt and next morning hunt didn’t produce much but the trip was already a success in my book! We set out for doe patrol with our rifles and Tina and I each helped out with herd management and putting meat in our freezer with 2 deer down.
The weather was nice so we continued to search for javelina. Tina took a shot on her second javelina; a protective female who wasn’t giving up without a fight. The shot was a complete pass through and a bloody arrow was found but as we were tracking she made her presence known with the popping of her teeth (a sound that will definitely make you jump if you have never heard it before). With my pistol drawn during the tracking process because of the low visibility & maneuverability of the thick brush and a possibly wounded animal I was unable to get a clear shot on her. After a short standoff we were able to get a better angle and put a finishing shot in the javelina for a quicker expiration and Tina had her second javelina & 3rd bow kill down!
We sat back in the ground blind that evening waiting on the anticipated cold front; however, it arrived many hours earlier than expected. Tina and I were on the opposite side of the ranch and the plan was to stalk towards where my husband was for hogs and javelina, but as the front arrived with high winds, freezing rain, and a 40 degree temperature drop, our plans changed and my husband was already making his way to pick us up to get back to camp. As we drove back in the dark, pouring freezing rain and winds we shivered in the Polaris but as we made the turn onto the last road everything changed.

There in the road through the wind and the rain, illuminated by our red light was a large group of about 20 hogs feeding in the road. Tina had her shotgun loaded with buck shot so the hunt was on. As we stepped into the road we were slipping and sliding in the mud making too much noise, so we stopped and stood. With the freezing rain stinging our faces the group of hogs slowly fed down the road to us. The wind was perfect and muffling any noise as Tina steadied her shotgun. She fearlessly let the group of hogs approach to less than 20 yards and shot, and then shot again and again. As hogs scattered and the adrenaline was pumping we saw 2 small hogs laying in the road; a boar and a sow. We checked the area for any other wounded ones but didn’t find any more. Our frozen bodies were soaking wet but had warmed up just enough from the adrenaline to enjoy the moment, take pictures in the rain and load up the hogs. One was quartered up and the small sow was left whole for a nice BBQ dinner! Tina was beyond excited with this crazy impromptu hunt and my heart smiled as I listened to her back at camp recount the stories over the phone to her family.
The rain continued through the night leading to a long day of hunting in mud, drizzle, and cold, but we weren’t going to just sit at camp! As we made our way to one of the fracking ponds we spotted a coyote running across the damn and my husband quickly grabbed the rifle for a shot. At 140 yards on the run he was able to hit both back legs of the coyote and a few follow up pistol shots led to one less predator on the prowl. Successful team effort!
The evening hunt was slow until dark when my husband dropped a hog and we added another round of pork to the cooler. Everyone was having success!
We stalked for hogs into the night and set up for one more morning hunt. With no luck at first light we began stalking for javelina when I was able to get one down with my bow to end the trip with another animal down.

With 5 hogs, 4 javelina, 2 deer and a 1 coyote down, it was one of our most successful hunts in south Texas but not because of the animal count; this trip was all about Tina. Not only was she able to get her first bow kill (and second and third), but she gained a vast amount of hunting experience, confidence in her own abilities and made memories to last a lifetime. This trip was exponentially greater than anything she could have read, researched or been told because experience in the field is priceless whether an animal is killed or not.

I am so proud of her and her accomplishments and knowing another hunter has the passion and knowledge to carry on our hunting heritage is phenomenal. Whether you are a 10 year old child or just starting to hunt at age 50 like Tina, all that matters is that you are in the field hunting legally, ethically, and enjoying each moment. Carry on the passion and let it shine so others see it; you never know who you might be inspiring!