Friday, May 29, 2009

What does it score? (Installment #2)

Here are the results from the first installment of "What does it score?": The buck in the picture gross scored 172 5/8".

1st Place - Incognito - with a score of 177 (+4 3/8" difference)
2nd Place - Red Writing - with a score of 193 (+20 3/8" difference)
3rd Place - Steph - with a score of 197 3/8 (+24 6/8" difference)

Congratulations, Incognito, that was a very good evaluation. (And I'm pretty sure I have a good idea who you might be - thanks for stopping by.)

Red Writing, I'm impressed you took a stab at it, and that was a very good guess for someone who doesn't hunt and isn't familiar scoring deer.

Steph, I expected a better guess out of you than that - maybe I spoke too soon. But I still love you!

When I guesstimated the score of this deer, I had him at about 159", but I tend to try to be a little more conservative with the score, to avoid the "ground shrinkage" effect.

Here is the deer to score for installment #2. Once again, submit your guess by clicking on the "comments" link at the bottom of this post. This one is from Pike County, Illinois.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Throwback Thursday

I've been hunting for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my dad would take me bird hunting with him. We would occasionally go deer hunting, whenever a friend or relative would invite us to hunt on their property or lease, but we primarily just bird hunted - mainly for dove. I always wanted to do more deer hunting, but there just weren't that many opportunities.

Right after high school, a new archery season was implemented in the county I grew up in, which historically didn't have a deer season at all. I decided I wanted a bow, but I really didn't know anything about archery equipment. For my 19th birthday, my parents and I went to the old Barrett's Sporting Goods in Denison, Texas to look for a bow. As it turned out, the store was no longer going to carry any archery products and they were in the process of liquidating all of their remaining archery equipment. There was one lonely bow still on the shelf - a Bear Super 45 model with no accessories whatsoever. This was in the 90's, and most compound bows at the time were selling for around $300. The sporting goods manager said they would take $75 for it. My dad made a quick phone call to a friend that was a big-time archery hunter, and he said that it would make a good starter bow and that was a good price for it, so they bought it for me. Another friend heard I got the bow and told me to bring it over to his house and he would help me get it set up. He hooked me up with one of his old pin sights, an arrow rest, and one of his old bow cases. I bought some aluminum arrows and a release, so I was pretty much ready to go!

I practiced in the back yard quite a bit and even went deer hunting with the bow several times over the next three years, but never had an opportunity to take a shot at a deer. I never really got serious about bowhunting and continued to primarily rifle hunt, and I harvested a couple deer with my rifle during that time. The bow sat in it's case for several years, untouched.

In 2004 several of my coworkers were really into archery hunting, and they convinced me to get the old bow back out and give it another try. I took the bow to an archery shop and had a new string put on it, as well as a new sight. The other guys at work and I would spend our lunch break practicing with our bows, shooting at 3-D archery targets out behind the office. I really started getting into the whole archery thing, and I really wanted to get a brand new bow. After all, mine was about 15 years old at this point. (Just a side note - The advancement of archery equipment could be compared to that of computers over the last two decades, so my old Bear compound bow would be equivalent to that old, bulky, green-screen computer monitor that is now so outdated.)

But I didn't feel right buying a new bow when I had never harvested a deer with this one. So I made a promise to myself - I was going to hunt with this bow until I got a deer, no matter how long it took. Then, I could justify buying a new bow.

I realized how hard bowhunting actually is! I actually drew the bow on deer a couple times, but spooked them both times. I thought it would never happen, but I hung in there. On December 22, 2006, at about 4:30 that afternoon, 4 does walked under my treestand. I picked out one of the bigger ones, tried to calm my nerves, and I loosed an arrow. It was a perfect quartering away shot that made a complete pass-through. The doe ran about a hundred yards and went down. I've been hooked ever since! I haven't picked up my rifle since then, as the experience of bowhunting is so much more gratifying than rifle hunting. I've since gotten a new bow, which I might have to talk about in another post.

First Archery Deer - December 22, 2006

Don't forget to submit your guess at the score of the whitetail in the post below. I will be posting the results in the next few days, or sooner, as it seems there are some people that are really anxious to find out how they did.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What does it score?

There is no question that the emphasis put on antler size among whitetail deer hunters has been on the rise for the last decade or so. People are willing to pay big bucks to shoot big bucks. Trophy deer hunting has become a big-time business, and the profits are made in producing deer with big antlers.

I realize that there are also hunters who don't care one way or the other about antler size. I am one that does care about antler size, but I do have a few reservations about the topic. Here are some of my opinions:

- Antler size is a good indicator of the health of the animal and the herd.
- If you are only hunting for meat, why not just shoot a doe instead of taking a young buck?
- I am more impressed with a hunter who harvests a 135" low-fence, free range buck than someone who harvests a 200" deer on a high-fence game ranch.
- I think the antler restrictions that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has initiated over the last several years are a good thing.

If you are reading this and you don't have a clue what I'm talking about when I say a 200" deer or a 135" deer here is a quick explanation. The common method for judging the quality of a whitetail buck is to measure the growth of his antlers in inches. There are several record books which document trophy animals, but the two most common are probably the Boone & Crockett Club and the Pope & Young Club.

The Boone & Crockett Club accepts trophies taken with any legal means and methods while the Pope & Young Club accepts only trophies that are harvested with archery equipment. Both of the organizations use similar methods for measuring the trophy that include deductions for abnormal points and non-symmetrical antlers. The minimum requirement for an animal to make the Boone & Crockett record book is 160", while the Pope & Young Club only requires a score of 125". Here is a sample scoresheet to give you an idea of how the trophy is measured.
If you do care about antler size, an important skill to have is to be able to judge the animal on the hoof. Just about all of us have experienced what hunters refer to as "ground shrinkage", where the buck looked bigger before you shot him than he did when you walked up to him laying dead on the ground. One thing I like to do to help me know the caliber of deer I'm looking at is to look at a picture of a particular deer that has already been scored and try to estimate the score of the animal before I see the official score. If nothing else, it can help with the summertime deer hunting withdrawals.

With that being said, I want to test your skills. I am going to start a weekly post that will include a random picture of a deer that has already been scored. Use your best judgement and submit your guess by clicking on the comments section just below this post. And you don't have to be a deer hunter to participate. My wife has heard me talk about the score of different deer so much that she has gotten pretty good at it herself, and she's never deer hunted in her life.

The picture for Week #1 is a deer that was harvested in Archer County, Texas:
Submit your best guess of the gross score (before deductions) of this deer by clicking the "comments" button below. There won't be any prizes, just bragging rights. I will post the results the following week when I add a new deer picture to analyze. Good luck!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Prayers needed for Tred Barta

For those of you who have never heard of Tred Barta, he is the host of a television show on the Versus network called "The Best and Worst of Tred Barta". I personally really like Tred's show. It isn't your typical hunting show and Tred isn't always politically correct. In one show he hunted feral hogs by tracking them with dogs and then stabbing them with a knife, in another show I saw him shoot a Mallard duck on the fly with a longbow and homemade wooden arrows, and I've also seen him come face to face with bears armed with nothing but his longbow. On most of his hunts, he never gets close enough to the game he is pursuing to be able to make a shot, but the thrill of the stalk is worth watching. He always says, "It may not be the easy way, but it's the Barta way!" Tred is a very accomplished outdoorsman and holds multiple records in bowhunting as well as sportfishing.
The following excerpt comes from a post by one of the administrators on the forum:

On his way to Alaska to tape his TV show, Tred Barta suffered a rare occurrence called a spinal stroke affecting his T2-T10 vertebrae. Since there are only 12 of these Thoracic bones, that’s a very large area. He is currently paralyzed from just below the chest down. Prognosis is way up in the air at the moment. Some medicos predict permanent paralysis while others have given him up to a 60-percent chance of at least partial recovery. His message to everyone is… “Don’t take a single second of your life for granted.”

To read a little more about Tred, click here. He has quite the resume! As the lyrics to his TV show's theme song say, "You're the man, Tred Barta, you're the man!"

Let's remember Tred and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Throwback Thursday

I am fortunate to have friends who live and own property in northwest Iowa - an area with some excellent pheasant hunting. They have graciously allowed my dad and I to hunt on their property every year for the past 15-plus years. Over that time we have enjoyed some excellent hunting, but more importantly, have developed some lasting friendships with a number of people.

Meet Ralph Warkentin and his German Shorthair Pointer "Jack".

I can't remember exactly what year it was when I met Ralph, but it was at least seven or eight years ago. I consider Ralph kinda like one of my uncles. As I hunted with Ralph and watched how well his bird dogs worked we began to talk about the possibility of me getting a puppy out of the same bloodlines as his dogs. A couple years went by and the man who owned the female dog that was the mother of Ralph's dogs had been planning on having another litter, but things just didn't work out or he would change his mind and I would wait another year. Finally he decided for sure that he would let the dog have another litter of pups. Once again, it didn't happen, as an unfortunate accident occurred and the female was hit by a car. Well, Ralph made some contacts and found someone else with a female German Shorthair Pointer. Ralph worked out a deal with this fellow to use Ralph's male "Jack" to sire the litter of pups and allow me to have the pick of the litter. Needless to say, I was excited.

In April of 2008, Ralph called and said the pups had finally arrived. German Shorthairs are usually one of three colorations - 1)white & liver, 2)roan & liver, or 3)solid liver. I REALLY wanted one that was roan & liver, but I was willing to settle for either of the three colors. I had already decided I wanted a female. Ralph said that most of the pups looked like they were going to be white & liver. But, we didn't realize that the roan color began to show up after the pups were three or four weeks old. A few weeks later Ralph called again to get my email address because he wanted me to see the puppies, and he said you are gonna like how they look. So he emailed me these pictures of the two females in the litter.

EXACTLY what I was hoping for! Since I was 812 miles away and couldn't preview the puppies in person, I had to make my choice based on the picture. I don't like to pick out a pup based on appearance alone, but in this case I had to. So I chose the one with the most liver color. Steph and I made a special roadtrip to go pick her up. Before I even saw the pup, I already had a name picked out. Everything (at least alot of things) in northwest Iowa has the name "Sioux" associated with it - Sioux Rapids, Sioux Center, Sioux City, Sioux Falls (just across the line in South Dakota), the Little Sioux River (which runs through my friends' property) - so I named her "Sioux". She is now a little over a year old. With two little ones at home, I haven't been able to spend as much time training her as I would like, but I have big hopes for her.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The End of Turkey Season

Turkey season finally comes to a close today here in North Texas and unfortunately I wasn't able to harvest a bird this year. My schedule the past month and a half only allowed me to get two partial days of hunting in. I had planned a trip for yesterday with my dad, but the weather ended up not cooperating and we decided to throw in the towel. We'll get 'em next year! Here is a painting by Reggie McLeroy that I found that would have been a scene from yesterday had I braved the weather. This was the 2003 Texas Turkey Stamp.
Over the years I've learned some lessons from turkeys. Click here for an example.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Throwback Thursday

Spring turkey season is winding down, summer is almost here, and it will be several months before I get back in full hunting mode, so I have decided to add a weekly post to take a look back at some of my vintage hunting and fishing pictures - Throwback Thursday.

For this first installment I am going to use a picture that I have posted on here before (but I thought would be appropriate again) that goes back to my very first "hunting" encounter. This is me sometime in about the December 1979 - February 1980 timeframe sitting in front of a bag-limit of bobwhite quail that my Dad and Grandaddy had just hunted. The picture was taken on the kitchen floor in my grandparents' house in Gunter, Texas. These birds were shot somewhere within a few miles of Gunter. Nowadays you would be hard-pressed to even find a single covey of birds in this area. The last covey I saw was several years ago. Most people blame the fire ants, and I believe that is a partial reason for their decline, but I really think the main reason for the decline of the bobwhite in that area is habitat fragmentation and overgrazing. Thirty years ago (when this picture was taken) there was more farming in the area and bigger tracts of land. For example, a 500 acre piece of land that was excellent quail habitat (mixture of farmland and pasture) in this area in the late 1970's now probably has been fragmented into smaller 5 - 10 acre homesites that are landscaped and mowed. Or, if it is still in pastureland, cattle are allowed to graze year round without any type of rotational grazing system, greatly reducing the amount of cover for quail. Anyway, I could rant on and on about how people have destroyed the quail population, but I won't do that right now. Hopefully you will enjoy "Throwback Thursday".

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Tribute to my Mother

On this Mother's Day, I wanted to take a few moments to honor my mother - Carla Jordan. I am blessed beyond measure to have been given a mother of her caliber. Not only is she a wonderful mother, but the same could be said about her role as wife, daughter, sister, mother-in-law, "Mimi", "Aunt Tar-Tar", friend, and employee. When I look back at how I was raised, and my mother's influence in my life, I see a perfect example of a mother. She sacrificially gave of herself for the benefit of her family. She put her wants and needs behind everyone else's, and still does to this day. I could go on and on with praises and accolades for my mother, but the following passage from the Bible does a pretty good job of summing up my thoughts of her:

Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Message)
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

Momma, you truly are a woman to be admired! I love you! Have a Happy Mother's Day!

Me and Momma 30 years ago

My Senior year in high school right after winning the game that sent us to the state tournament - She never missed a game I played in and I bet there were close to 1000 of them.

First day as "Mimi"

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let Creation Testify . . .

I love the outdoors - whether it is hunting or fishing, mowing the yard, watching a baseball game, playing in the backyard with the kids, taking a Sunday drive, looking up at the stars, or just sitting on the porch - I'd rather be outside. I enjoy taking in God's creation and admiring the work of His hands.

The group Mercy Me has a song called "You Reign" that really relates to this topic. Here are the lyrics:

Even before there was a drop in the ocean
Even before there was a star in the sky
Even before the world was put in motion
You were on Your throne
You were on Your throne

You reign
Glory in the highest
You reign
Let creation testify
By Your name
Every knee will bow
And every tongue proclaim
That Jesus reigns

Even before Your hand made the heavens
Even before the breath of all mankind
Even before we had to be forgiven
You were on Your throne
You were on Your throne


Yesterday, today and forever
You are God who was, and is and is to come


Let every tongue proclaim
Let every tongue proclaim
That Jesus reigns

I've decided to start a new blogging adventure to take a closer look at God's creation and hopefully learn some spiritual lessons along the way. Please feel free to join me at this link: Let Creation Testify . . .