No Crying in Deer Hunting – My 2017 Buck

Friday, December 8th was a high of 40 degrees, cloudy with a slow North West wind. It was the first real cold front we had since the start of winter so I got in the woods extra early. Deer movement started around 3:15, one after the other crossed the creek for what felt like a good hour and a half.

I knew if I had the opportunity to shoot a decent buck it was going to be hard with so many eyes everywhere, especially since I was sitting on the ground in a fallen down tree. I wasn’t sitting in a comfortable position, my shotgun (H&R 20 gauge) was across my lap and my shooting stick was beside me. I became overwhelmed trying to think of ways to slowly prepare myself to shoot if need be.

A little after prime time rolled around everything I had been watching all afternoon got spooked. I saw nothing but raised white tails flying through the woods everywhere. I automatically assumed I got winded and was honestly surprised with so many deer from every which way it didn’t happen sooner. I finally was able to get in a better position for the last 15 minutes left of shooting light.

I had two does moving quickly back towards me so my mind was at ease again. I said a quick thank you prayer and not a minute later I saw nothing but sky-high antlers coming my way. You could tell he was tired, he was breathing heavy and moving slow. He stayed about 60 yards behind a tree and all I could see was his left front shoulder and head. I pulled my gun up and my face mask fogged my scope, I was FREAKING OUTTTTT. One step back and I wouldn’t have had a chance, I wiped my scope the best I could while trying not to breathe.

I FINALLY pulled the trigger at 5:02pm and he walked back towards the creek like nothing even happened. I instantly called my mom to tell her that I just missed a huge buck and she responded saying “awe its okay maybe next time”……. If you’re a hunter you know how I felt with that response.

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I called my neighbor Jamie who had to listen to my mental breakdown while telling him what happened. I thought for sure I completely missed, I was beating myself up about the whole situation. I went to look for blood and gave up after 15 yards from where he was shot. I walked back to my truck to get my thoughts together and waited for another friend Joicy who was hunting close by to get out of the woods so we could look together. I tried to get myself normal before he saw me but as soon as he asked questions acting “tough” went right out of the truck window. He laughed… a lot.

We continued to look for my buck and a foot past where I stopped tracking the first time there was blood and tons of it. My buck went 30 yards from the tree he was shot at. It was the most dramatic moment of my life, I fell to the ground screaming with joy, crying happy tears this time and looked like an absolute nut job. I apologized to Joicy for having to witness such a horrific Kenna moment but I could not believe I just shot the biggest buck of my life.

I took my buck back to the wildlife office to check him in and had all of my favorite people waiting for me including my parents. It took a few hours for it to truly sink in but once it did I didn’t sleep for days. It will be the most memorable hunt for a very long time. I still think about it often and how incredible it feels to be successful at something you’ve put a lot of time into.

I have the best group of people to look up to when it comes to hunting and I am forever grateful for what they have taught me , continue to teach me and for always helping me when I need it. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!

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Pronghorn Hunt at Robinson Ranch, Douglas WY 2017

Well the past week has been an experience and definitely one I will never forget. I hunted Robinson Ranch in Douglas Wyoming and it is absolutely beautiful.

​I finally arrived to camp early afternoon Sunday and we spent the day getting ready for our week by shooting bows, checking watering holes and scouting for our first hunt Monday as well as an awesome dinner with the rancher and his family.

Monday morning we woke up at 4am and headed to our holes. I had seen lots of antelope through out the day and had lots of bucks around me. The only problem was they were staying on the far end of the watering hole that was just a little too far outta range. About 1:30ish I finally got about a 34 yard shot at a really nice buck and boyyyyy my adrenaline was pumping. I aimed a little high for the first shot and it went right over his back. Luckily he didn’t get spooked so I took a second shot and hit him.

I shot him broadside a little too close to his shoulder, the arrow didn’t make a complete pass through and fell out after he ran a few yards. I watched him for almost 2 hours and he finally bedded down. We waited till the next morning to look for him so we didn’t push him into the next pasture. When we arrived back at camp we watched the video footage and he was bleeding pretty good.

The next morning I got in the blind at 4:30am while some of the guys walked around the pasture at light where we had last seen him. Lots of blood and a trail but no antelope. It was just about 50 degrees in the mornings and 100 by noon and I sat in the blind till about 7:00 pm to see if he would come to the watering hole and he never did.

Wednesday morning we waited till daylight to walk the pasture mile by mile. There was 6 people, it took about 3 hours, and we searched the prairie high and low. Between a trail camera set up by the hole, hunting a 13 hour day Tuesday and walking Wednesday we had seen every buck in the pasture there was but none of them were mine. We finally gave up because there wasn’t much more we could do at this point except glass other pastures close by.

It’s a 22,000 acre ranch that ends the next pasture beside where I was hunting. I learned that antelopes typically don’t jump pastures but others and myself believe that as unlikely as it is he could have jumped fence and is still alive or he was already taken by coyotes. We found at least 6 carcasses that coyotes had recently gotten to in that pasture so it’s really hard to tell where exactly he could be.

As frustrated as I am for shot placement, worried he’s suffering and not being able to find him it was still an absolute blast and a really neat experience. It always fascinates me to watch how different people live, the land ,the animals, just the way of life. Already looking forward to next year to redeem myself with a little experience under my belt. The best part with hunting isn’t ever the kill but the memories to always keep with you and I gotta say this trip takes the cake!

Field & Stream / MDOWA Blog Blast

I was invited to the Mason Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (MDOWA) “Blog Blast” that was held in Clear Spring Maryland and sponsored by Field & Stream.

We spent the whole day Friday learning and testing out new products from Field & Stream that were newly released or are soon to be to the outdoor industry. They showed us new tackle gear and some extremely awesome, durable, and affordable priced kayaks. We were able to test out all of the new F&S kayaks in the Big Pool on the C&O canal with the local news station DVM filming us.

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Later in the day we fished a private locally owned pond with the Load Up N Limit Out crew. I was the only person who didn’t catch a fish probably due to all the talking I did / distracted by the local pond residents (ducks), but I watched some monsters get reeled in and lots of smiles on faces.

We ended the evening listening to the most selfless and passionate person I’ve ever met, Rick Wilson who is the founder of Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry.  Rick told us how he started this mission along with the hard work it took, always trusting god and the power of prayer. I had chills the whole time he spoke to us, you could genuinely tell that he is extremely passionate about what he has done and continues to do.

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Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry [FHFH] is a program that helps feed the poor. Farmers and hunters donate their wildgame or livestock to local butcher shops that work with local food banks or ministries. The program started in 1997 and has provided over 16.9 million meals in America. 30 different states take part in this program because of the impact it has made, not only is it feeding the hungry but saving lives. I highly encourage any hunter out there who hasn’t heard of this or even people who don’t hunt to take some time to check out the website – Farmers & Hunters Feeding The Hungry. If you are feeling generous or looking to give back to the community there is ways to donate without harvesting an animal listed online. Any donation would be greatly appreciated from not only FHFH but the outdoor community as well, 1 deer feeds 200 people.​

   This morning we woke up early so that the adventures could continue, we spent the whole day at Polecat Hollow hunt club.  Hamilton Nissan brought two of the new Titans for us to put to the test on some really rough terrain but they had no idea what was happening or at least to that extreme. It was hard not to laugh but the Nissan salesman that rode with us knew the roads just as well as we did. He was a nervous wreck and kept swearing we weren’t suppose to be going up “that mountain”. I just kept telling him it was gonna be okay especially since I’m driving (LOL)…. we soon took a u turn that was more risky than driving at a 90 degree angle. To each his own.

Say goodbye to your $140 calls!!!! We met the CEO Vince and Vice President Travis of Kid Magic Game Calls, a father son duo that defines the saying “teach em young”. They have a variety of different slate calls, predator calls and duck calls that sounds great for an extremely reasonable price. Travis and his son Vince have worked and are continuing to work hard to make sure others can hunt with a call that is fun, easy, reliable, and reasonable.

Some of the coaches and students at Clear Spring Middle who are part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) came out today to demonstrate how the program is ran in a school system and how well students do with the sport. One of the middle school students mentioned that its taught her lots of life lessons in and outside of school. Many Clear Spring students have won multiple state tournaments. NASP is growing on many schools still but has really taught kids what they are capable of. Parents, teachers and coaches who have children involved with it truly believe all schools should offer the program.

Last but not least, we ended our day with a little side by side action on the mountains and my first rock climbing experience. Thanks to Twigg Cycles for letting us test out some new 2017 UTVs, the Polaris RZR S 570 was sooooo much fun!!!

As for MDOWA and Field & Streams I can’t thank you enough for the past two days and the opportunities that you guys made possible. It was an absolute blast!!!!!

If you’d like to read more about the trip, below are websites of other outdoor bloggers that attended:

Natural Pursuit Outdoors

Load Up N Limit Out

Kat Hass Outdoors

Its A Wanderful Life

Poor Girls Open 2016

Way late on posting this, but the highlight of my summer was without a doubt the Poor Girls Open. It’s an all ladies  billfish release tournament that raises money for breast cancer research. The tournament took place August 18th-20th at Bahia Marina in Ocean City MD.

Sport fishing is loved by many but fishing while supporting a good cause was more rewarding than any fish that could have been caught that weekend.

161 boats, 747 lady anglers and a record total of $192,035 raised. AMAZINGGG!

Huge thank you to Turn Me Loose Charters for the best time ever

&

Congratulations Playmate on taking first place!!!!

Many of us know someone who needs a cure, so whether its prayers or a donation every little bit counts.

Click Here To Donate to the American Cancer Society 

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“Armed with a Bow and Her Words, Union Daughter Encourages Women In the Outdoors” By: Laura Oberle

When Union Sportsmens Alliance (USA) member McKenna Merkel bought her first bow at age 17, a male co- worker scoffed, “Good luck. You never kill anything with that.”

She tried to shake it off, and with advice from experienced bow hunters, McKenna dedicated countless hours practicing until she achieved consistently close groupings in the vitals. She thought she had the bow mastered and anticipated a smooth, successful hunting season.

McKenna soon learned the woods were a different world than the practice field. She ended her first bow season with two trees, a ground blind and only two arrows left out of a dozen. She couldn’t get those initial negative words out of her mind and was starting to believe she would never kill anything with her bow.

“It’s all I thought about when I hunted,” McKenna said. “I was so angry and disappointed”

Last summer, McKenna, now 21, started a blog called McKenna Outdoors to share her experiences and connect with other outdoor enthusiasts. She hopes to send a message of support and encouragement to aspiring bow hunters. In one of her blog posts, McKenna wrote about that first bow hunting season and the fire it lit within. She practiced archery almost every day, and although the next bow season wasn’t instantly successful, one rainy afternoon she ventured into the woods alone and dropped her first doe.

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McKenna Merkel harvested her first deer after relentlessly practicing her archery in the off season.

” I was standing in the tree stand, screaming with excitement McKenna said. “I still get chills thinking about it”

 As the doe collapsed by McKenna’s hand, the power of that unnerving jab also died. She had, in fact, killed something with her bow. Armed with her experience and her words McKenna is resolute to make a positive impact on women in the outdoors. According to her readers, she is succeeding.

“You’re the poster child of what it takes to be successful and the kind of kid I want my kid to hang around,” one reader commented “(You) inspire my daughter every time she sees your posts!” wrote another.

Born and raised on her family farm in Bowie, Maryland , McKenna’s love of the outdoors began at an early age. She spent her free time with her dad at turkey shoots, deer hunting, fishing or helping around the farm. As she grew older, she took ownership of her outdoors interests, which evolved into a lifestyle

“Growing up on a farm not only taught me responsibility but more than that, it gave me this sense of freedom ” McKenna said.

She also developed a strong work ethic through the example set by her mother, Cathy Merkel, a union member and registrar for the United Association. “She is extremely dedicated to her job, cares a lot about her fellow union members and is such a hard worker” McKenna said of her mother.

Through her mother’s membership in the office and Professional Employees International Union, McKenna joined the USA as a family member.

” I chose to be a member because I wanted to be a part of helping wildlife conservation and connect with other outdoor enthusiasts I could learn from,” McKenna said. “There is so much to learn when it comes to the outdoors, and I’ve learned a lot through the USA”

McKenna has been an active member since 2013, attending on conservation dinners and sharing photos of her outdoors endeavors.

“Since I can remember, McKenna has loved the outdoors ” Cathy said. “The folks at the USA are awesome with people and have left a great impression on McKenna”

 Through the ideals of hard work, respect, gratitude and perseverance, McKennas message rings true to those in the outdoor community. “A hunt is successful whether you harvest something or not” McKenna said. “It’s about being outdoors. I want to encourage present, practicing and future bow hunters to never give up. Determination brings success”

Fishing the canyons on the Bubblehead! 

Fishing the Canyons – OCMD – July 3rd 2016

Too soon for a Flash back Friday? Took the awesome #GoPro footage one of the guys got from last Sunday and redid a short video of all the highlights throughout the day. The ending is the best part & I literally can’t wait to go again!!!!!!!