Gear Review: RRR Gun Rest

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Don’t hit the tree stand this deer hunting season without the innovative and effective RRR Gun Rest attached to your weapon of choice.

I was recently sent a selection of gun rests to review by the kind folks over at RRR and Associates, LLC and came away impressed with the usefulness that these simple rests provide. We have all been in a situation while hunting during which we needed some support under the front of our rifles in order to make an accurate and ethical shot. Usually we resort to using some other piece of gear, such as a pair of gloves or a jacket, to support our guns even though those items were not designed with that purpose in mind. This can lead to spooking game and even missing a shot altogether.

However, the RRR Gun Rest eliminates all of those problems and provides shooters and hunters with a solid rest that moves with their gun of choice.

Click here to read the rest of my review of the RRR Gun Rest.

8 Great Outdoor Companies in Ohio

Ohio has a long and proud tradition of hunting, fishing, and spending time in the outdoors. That long tradition includes outdoor companies being started by enterprising outdoors enthusiasts. These companies exist in a number of outdoor categories, but they all have one thing in common. To help other Ohio (and those around the country) sportsmen and women have the quality gear they need to truly enjoy and succeed at their outdoor pursuits.

Click here for my list of eight great Ohio-based outdoor companies.

On the Arrival of Fall…

Fall has officially arrived in Ohio. Well, technically, it is still summer, but Ohio weather doesn’t follow the calendar. On the heels of a soaking rainstorm and heavy cold front, summer was ushered out and fall quickly and decisively took its place. Gone are the long, muggy days (not that we had many of those this past summer) of summer. In their place are the shorter days and crisp air of a Midwest autumn.

I always have mixed feelings around this time of year. Summer is by far my favorite season and it is definitely always a little sad to see it go. Late night bass fishing, sleeping with the windows open, and firing up the grill nearly every day, some of my favorite parts of summer, are no longer really possible. Baseball season is winding to a close, especially for those teams that won’t make the playoffs, like my Cleveland Indians unless their late push for the postseason pans out.

However, there are also a lot of things that I love about the fall in Ohio. In fact, the changing of the seasons is one of my favorite parts about living in the Midwest altogether. I don’t think I could ever live in a place that was warm all year round. There is just something I love about going through all four season and watching each one take over from the last. There is always something to look forward to in each new season and that sense of possibility is something I really appreciate being able to have.

Fall brings football season (Go Buckeyes and Browns!), beautiful fall foliage, ripening apples, as well as interesting and fun fall-themed festivals. It also brings deer hunting season here in Ohio which is a tried and true tradition among many folks around the state.

There is still the chance to have a few more relatively warm days before the cold really starts to take a grip on the state once again. I’m planning to hit my favorite farm pond for largemouth bass at least a couple more times this year and firing up the grill as much as possible before it gets buried in snow on my back deck once again.

Even when the pond is iced over and the grill is just a giant snowball in the backyard, I’ll enjoy the new fall activities that take their place and be content with the knowledge that it won’t be long before spring arrives to push winter out and makes it possible to enjoy those things once again.

 

10 Things Every Hunter Must Do In Their Lifetime

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A hunter’s bucket list is something that every outdoorsman or woman should have. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Just about everyone has a bucket list. A list of things that they want to experience, see, achieve, or accomplish at some point in their lifetimes. This is a great way to stay motivated for the future and really live a full life.

If you love hunting and the outdoors, you should really consider creating a hunter’s bucket list to help outline your goals and all the things you wish to experience in the hunting world. Even if you don’t check everything off of your list, it’s still fun to dream big and chase after the things you want to accomplish.

Check out this slideshow for some great goals to add to your hunter’s bucket list.

Outdoor Goals 2013 Recap…

Last year, I wrote a blog post listing my outdoor goals for the year of 2013. You can check out the list here. My list included five goals and I am proud to say that I achieved two of them. However, that obviously leaves me a lot of room for improvement in 2014.

I will be posting my outdoor goals for 2014 in the coming days, but wanted to take a few minutes and recap my goals for last year and how they went.

My first goal was also the goal I most wanted to achieve and that was to fill a spring turkey tag for the very first time. On opening day of the 2013 spring turkey in season, I managed to take a tom turkey from the Ohio woods and I couldn’t be more proud of that accomplishment. You can read the entire story of my spring turkey hunt here.

The second goal on my list was to catch and weigh a largemouth bass of over three pounds which would beat my personal best bass of all time. This goal was the one I suspected would be the most difficult as I have been bass fishing since I was young and had never topped the three pound mark. Well, at least not officially that is. There were several times that I believe I caught fish bigger than that, but I either failed to land those fish or didn’t have a scale with me at the time. Unfortunately, that makes those occasions nothing more than fish stories.

Anyways, as these things usually go, the goal I thought would be most difficult proved to be one of the easiest. It was also completely unexpected. I had just finished scouting my turkey hunting location and happened to have my fishing gear with me. It was an unusually warm spring day for Northern Ohio and I couldn’t resist wetting a line. Long story short (and you can read the full story here) I wound up hooking, landing, and weighing a 3+ pound bass on my first cast of the year.

The last three goals that I set for 2013 were much less successful. Unfortunately, I never even got a chance to really pursue them. Busy schedules and the unpredictable spring weather that is commonplace in Northern Ohio made a flathead fishing trip impossible to get planned and executed and a lack of equipment and the decision to not figuratively pull the trigger on an expensive purchase made a 2013 whitetail deer hunt out of the question.

The last goal that I set was to take a great outdoor picture. Although I had my camera with me just about every time I was out in the field in 2013, that great picture just never happened. However, I did still get a lot of great shots of fish I caught as well as those caught by friends and family. The more I think about it, maybe those pictures are even better than the great landscape shot that I was hoping to get.

Although I did not achieve all of my outdoor goals that I set for 2013, they still pushed me to be a better outdoorsman and to just appreciate having the freedom and opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors in all of their abundance and beauty with good friends and family along the way.

Here’s to another great year in the outdoors in 2014!

 

Opening Day Tom…

This past Monday was opening day of spring turkey hunting season here in Ohio and the only place I could be found was out in the woods. I made plans to hunt with a good buddy of mine who is a great hunter and all around outdoorsman.

I am fortunate enough to have access to 250 acres of prime Medina County farm land for all my hunting trips and that was where we decided to hunt. The land does not get very much pressure and is filled with all kinds of game.

We got set-up in the field at about 5:30AM with the stars still visible in the sky and about 1 hour or so before legal shooting light. It was a chilly 38 degrees with expected highs near 65 later in the day. Luckily, we got a day with no real breeze to speak of.

We set up in a pop-up blind on a field filled with corn stubble from the previous year’s harvest with a woodlot to our backs. We set up two hen decoys and a full-strut tom decoy in front of us at about 15 yards.

Around 6 o’clock we started hearing our first gobbles of the spring. What sounded like a couple of different birds a couple of hundred yards back in the woods started lighting up on the roost. However, once they flew down, they promptly shut up and we assumed they had paired up with hens.

Things were pretty quiet for a while until about 7:30 AM when my buddy saw a gobbler running in and a hen creep out of the treeline. We thought that gobbler wasn’t going to stop until he gave us a clean shot, but for some reason, he hung up back behind our blind. The hen did come out into the field and fed for awhile but soon disappeared back into the woods.

Around 8:30 AM was when the real action started. Birds started gobbling their heads off way back in the woods again. As far as we could tell, about three different birds were gobbling about 200 yards into the woods near a creek bottom.

My buddy started hitting the call about a half hour later and those birds were calling back hard. After a few minutes a group of jakes worked their way into the field but they wouldn’t commit to the decoys. They fed for a while while always seeming to keep looking back into the woods.

Then at about 9:45 AM, they vanished back into the woods. Then almost out of nowhere, a longbeard emerged from the treeline on my right. He was looking for a fight and walked straight up to the full-strut tom decoy. Before he could start attacking the decoy I made my shot. It was a clean kill right at 15 yards.

My first ever turkey and it was a beauty and on opening day nonetheless. He weighed in right at 23 pounds. His beard went 11″ and his spurs were right at an inch. That puts him right around three years old.

All in all it was a great hunt with a good friend made even better given the fortune of finally being able to fill a turkey tag. It was a fun morning in the spring woods and I already can’t wait to do it again next time.

In a previous post, I listed my outdoor goals for this year. Filling a turkey tag was one of them and I’m glad to say that I already met that goal. Only four more to go!

Here are a couple pictures:

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On Friendship…

As any outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) can attest, the camaraderie of enjoying the outdoors with good friends only enhances the pleasures derived from the experiences. Yes, catching a trophy fish or watching the sunrise over a frozen corn field is a great experience in and of itself. However, when those same things are done with close friends they are exponentially better.

Now, I’m not saying that enjoying solitude in the great outdoors from time to time is an unpleasant experience; quite the opposite in fact. Those moments where you can reflect on life in private are invaluable. However, this post is about friendship so I’m going to focus on that today.

I’ve always been of the mindset that a person doesn’t need an extreme number of friendships in life. The thing that I find to be much more important is the quality of the friendships that you do maintain. Personally, I would say that I have about 5 friends that I consider to be close relationships and 1 person who I consider to be my best friend. Now, every person has their own definition of what a best friend is. To me, it is the friend that you would do anything for, can tell anything to without being judged, and the friend whose company is always enjoyed to its fullest. Funnily enough, that friend for me, the person I am closest to, (i.e. my best friend) is the one who lives the furthest away from me.

When I first met my best friend, we were about 520 miles driving distance apart. How the heck did we meet you might ask. No, it wasn’t in some strange chat room or something like that. No, it was actually an online college class that brought us together. Now, I have taken a ton of online college courses before and would be hard-pressed to name you even one other person from any of those classes. The only one is another one of the 5 close friends I mentioned above who I happened to also meet in the same class as my best friend. Anyways, for me, I always just did my work in online classes with any interaction limited to class discussions. However, for some reason, I felt a push to get to know this one person better.

There was a class project that gave students the option to work with a partner. I would usually have just done it myself and had that be the end of it. However, in this case, I emailed my now best friend and asked her to work on this project with me. That is totally out of character for me, but there was just something about the little information I did have about her that told me I had to get to know this person better.

To make an extremely long story short, we spent the rest of the summer (it was a summer class) chatting online just about every night, usually for several hours. We just immediately hit it off. I don’t think we even talked about the project for the entire first week! So our friendship grew faster than anything I had ever experienced before and we became best friends.

Having been best friends with her for somewhere around nine months now, I can honestly say that I have learned more about what true friendship really means in that time than in the rest of my 23 years combined. The paths that led both of us to take the same online class from two different states is tough to fathom, but I do believe that we were meant to meet and have the special friendship that we do.

Having a few close friends instead of many distant ones is just the much better choice in my opinion. That way you can put the effort into the friendship that it takes for that friendship to last and be fulfilling for both people.

When you then spend time doing outdoor activities with those close friends, the amount of fun had by all only increases. There is a certain amount of giving each other a hard time about missing a shot or losing a big fish, but that is all part of that outdoors camaraderie that I mentioned before. So in the end, here is my advice. Work hard to maintain some close friendships and get out into the woods or to the lake with those friends. One day, you’ll be thankful that you did.