Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Full Circle

  I have been thinking about ways I spend time in the field or on the water. I thought I would pass along things I have changed over the years to add more to my trips. These are things that I do for me, I am not advocating that everyone rush out and give these a try, in some places I am sure these are probably not useful or laws may prohibit using them in your area. But there are ways all of us can make our trips afield more meaningful and memorable.Some of my changes bring back memories of when I was getting started many moons ago. In many ways it is the way my trips outdoors have come full circle.
  Like many folks I started hunting with a single shot .410 shotgun. Mine came from a local Western Auto store and was a Christmas present when I was 10. My Dad didn’t really hunt but took me out to shoot a few rounds. My Mom was a very good shot and she had taught me to shoot with my ever present bb gun. Many a squirrel hit the ground because of that humble little .410. I moved up to a single shot 16 gauge which allowed me to add doves to my bag. At sixteen I finally got a Remington 870 12 gauge and the push for more, bigger, faster was on. During this time I had gotten my first recurve bow which was replaced by the new technology of a compound about the same time as I got my 870.
  Over time I got rifles, shotguns and pistols that pushed the limits of technology in speed and accuracy. These did what they were designed to do and I enjoyed every minute using them including shooting in three gun matches. But as my skills increased the challenge of the shot diminished. Like all skills practice made shooting easier which translated to the field and after many years that became my problem, shots weren‘t as hard to make. I didn’t need to get as close to the animals or worry about how well I was hidden and my woods craft began to suffer. To solve this I made the decision to change what I carried to the woods. I still use things that help me make a clean and ethical kill. Optics on everything that will take them and a good range finder will always be part of my kit.
  I decided to go back to that one shot challenge. Rather than some of the new single shot rifles available I went with a muzzleloader with interchangeable .50 and 12 gauge barrels. It was a newer inline since the older traditional styles don’t fit me well plus I wanted something easier to keep clean. I found a used compound bow and then added an adult air rifle to the list. These limited my distance which increased my need for skills in the woods. Stalking, tracking, camouflage all became important again. Even though with a muzzleloader you can still make shots of 200-300 yards I was limiting mine to 150. The air rifle I keep to 20-25 yard shots. The bow I am good to 40 or so. In the future I plan on adding another recurve or long bow back into the mix. By doing this I have sharpened my woods craft which is being lost with the introduction of technology. I am not against the new stuff we have, in fact, I own alot of it, but I personally needed to make sure I didn't lose skills I was taught by some great outdoorsmen.
  Don’t want this to be some long winded article on how-to and why, so, here are some of my firsts taken with simpler equipment.

My first buck with a bow. Taken at 30 yards.

My first muzzleloader buck. Maybe 60 yards.

Muzzleloader turkey

Muzzleloader squirrel

Muzzleloader coyote. This one is on the wall.

Archery coydog. My first coyote taken at 14 yards while deer hunting.

Hard to see, this is my first double with a muzzleloader. Mentioned  in 30 Second Deer

Finally a bag of squirrels with my Gamo air rifle.


texwisgirl said...

I like that you don't just go for the easy shot and wish to preserve the "art" of hunting and the skills you've come to know. :)

texwisgirl said...

P.S. Your watercolors are wonderful! I love those old barns the most!!! You capture their spirit so well!

Ben G. said...

Tommy- All I have to say is wow I think you need your own show. I'd love to get out and actually get a deer with my muzzle loader.

Anonymous said...

I am with Ben. You do need your own show!

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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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