Category Archives: Featured Posts

A New Fitness Program

Aug 24, 2016

A New Fitness Program

Just a Little Bit Better

MArk Trail Run 5
No, this is not another way to be the strongest, fastest guy on the mountain. It’s not a training program to help you to run a six-minute mile, or do a backbend. It’s really more of a motivational speech than it is a fitness program.

            In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a certified personal trainer or a CrossFit instructor. I have received no training as a yoga instructor nor have I been track coach. I’m just a guy who has dabbled in a number of different fitness venues with some varying degrees of success.

            I have done a number of fitness programs. I’ve done anything from trying to run 100
miles, to doing CrossFit and doing Bikram yoga, to only watching my diet and being too tired to exercise. They all serve a purpose, but any one of these regimens by themselves can lead to staleness and burnout, which can lead to failure. As a person who suffers from ADD, it seems like my mind is constantly wandering and wondering about the next exercise phase in my life, and I fret about it so much, that I end up doing nothing,
which is the worst. That stalemate usually snowballs and I find myself out of shape.Naturally, when I am out of shape I want to regain the level of fitness I once had. Thinking about the training and changes it would take to get to that point once again, however, often leaves me discouraged.

            That being said, this is what we’re going to do. This is groundbreaking concept here, so get ready. We’re just going to get better one day at a time. Yep, you heard that right. No pyramids, WOD’s, or tables of workout plans. We are just going to focus on getting a little bit better every day. Just a little bit better. What I have found is that sometimes the big picture is too scary or too daunting to say, “Yeah, I’m all in!” If our goal is to run 100 miles or to lose 100 lbs., the process can seem scary. We know how we live, how we eat, how we exercise, and making the required changes may seem so radical our goals can appear to be impossible. But…. It is always possible to get a little bit better.
 Mark Trail Run 1
            Step one in this revolutionary program is to trend a little better than what we have been doing. So your diet sucks. Start by improving it a bit. Eat a little less for dinner. Maybe eat anything you want, just not everything you want. Go for a walk with your spouse or a friend. Don’t worry if it’s not the 45 minutes of aerobic exercise they say you need (whoever “they” are). Just get out and do something.

One of my personal obstacles tends to be extremism. For my fiftieth birthday I decided it would be cool to run a fifty-mile race. The problem was I had never even run a marathon before. I chose to run the Bighorn Mountains 50 miler. Starting at 4500 feet and peaking at nearly 9000 feet, this course was challenging. This race also took place over 1000 miles from home making it a logistical nightmare. For someone who had struggled through two half marathons years earlier, and only had six months to train, the preparation for this event was tough.

            In the end I finished it, and did pretty well, all things considered, with a time of 11:37. Regardless of this success the extreme leap into ultramarathoning did not lead to a healthy, permanent lifestyle change. After that I swung to the other extreme of not exercising at all for 6 months. This struggle with consistency leads to both physical AND mental failure.MArk Trail Run 3

            The moral of the story is that we need to adopt a LIFESTYLE that will get us to the finish line of life, being healthy and energetic. So have one or two pieces of pizza instead of half of it…or the whole thing. I can see a lot of diet and exercise gurus who read this (like a lot of anybody reads this), saying, “you’ve got to eliminate that completely”, or “bread, carbs and sugar are a killer”. And they might very well be. However, for someone whose dietary habits have consisted of consuming large quantities of this stuff, maybe cold turkey is a little scary. Their failed attempts at perfection are causing them to quit. A little bit better is a good start. Enjoy some success. Maybe you didn’t get your 20 minutes of cardio in, but you walked once around the block. That’s better than you did the day before. Possibly, some better, or dare I say, good, habits are forming, and you’re feeling a bit better. Did you mess up your diet three of the seven days a week? Don’t get down on yourself. That’s better than messing up seven out of seven days! You suffered a set back during the holidays (Halloween through Easter), That’s ok. Starting again is better than not starting at all. You know what starting again is called? It’s called “Not quitting!”.

Mark Trail Run 2Lets do a little better together! Let’s make the changes and live a life we can enjoy. Let’s go for a walk or run, and if we’re already doing that, lets go a bit farther when we’re up for it. But enjoy it; enjoy yourself, your friends and your family. Have a slice of pizza, enjoy it, and then go do something. If you blow it, get back on the horse and try again. Failure is not permanent, quitting is. Put yourself in position to win. Have success. Capitalize on what you do well, and minimize what you don’t. Remember, you haven’t crossed the finish line yet. Your story is not over, the best of you may be yet to come whether your 18 or 80. Keep trending up and you’ll realize your dream!

 

Have you seen our Texas Deer Hunt yet? Click here to get your buck fever fix!

Twice the Challenge: The Challenges of Filming your Hunts

Jul 26, 2016

Twice the Challenge

The Challenges of filming your hunts


Many people wish to create outdoor videos or record their own hunts, but most people are unaware and unprepared for what it takes to make a quality video. By recognizing and overcoming many of the obstacles, we as a bowhunters and video makers, can produce quality, entertaining videos.

Glassing+for+Hogs

The first, and most obvious obstacle is that with a cameraman you have twice as many people in the field. This means twice as much movement, twice as much noise, twice as much scent and much more human interaction. It is essential to communicate with your cameraman. Out in the woods alone, your decisions are made inside your head. With your videographer by your side, you must discuss strategy, point to places, and make a host of other noise making, eye-catching gestures and noises that may spook game. With improved teamwork these distractions are minimized but they are never eliminated.

The next hurdle to overcome is recording the quantity, and quality, of animal footage you need of your trophy. Many times this spring my cameraman Ryer and I have spotted hogs and as we silently stalked closer we had difficulty recording a good quantity of quality footage. It seemed like as soon as we saw them and hit the big red record button, they detected us and ran the other way. Remaining out of sight of game, yet having a clear view for memorable footage can be an oxymoron. Stopping to capture good animal video is time off the clock that you may not have in your stalk. As you do get within bow range, you have to make sure the cameraman is on the animal with everything all dialed in ready for the shot. No more just barely peeking over the edge of the rocks alone taking a quick shot. No more telling your man to “stay here while I get close” or “just hang back 10 or 20 yards”. Most of the time your camera man has to be attached to your hip so they can see what you see. If your camera man hangs back to get some footage he likes and all of a sudden you have a shot he can’t see, you must wait for him to catch up if you want to get good video. With all the videos with great animal footage and clear kill shots, ones with sporadic, shaky animal footage and no kill shot just remind people they are watching someone’s home videos.

twice

Speaking of shaky footage, the abilities of your cameraman now come into question. Rarely does handing the camera to your buddy and saying “film this” yield great video (although it can, and does happen). Familiarity with the camera and knowing how to focus, adjust iris and shutter speed, when to use gain, setting audio levels, and using the right amount of zoom are required if you wish to do a good job. Throwing a Handi-Cam into Bubba’s hands and hoping you’ll get great footage will leave you disappointed. Your cameraman must be as familiar with his gear as you are of yours.

Regarding gear, if you want to make good video, you have to have good gear. The short of this is that unless you have a good camera, tripod, audio accessories, and a host of other minor and major gadgets, your productions will probably fall short of what you had envisioned. If you don’t know what equipment to start with, go give the team at Campbell Cameras a shout. We have worked with them on a number of occasions, and they always get us going in the right direction. 

Now, as you are filming, you must consider this question: Did you tell a story? Just pressing the record button at the moment of truth does not tell your audience anything except that you shot at something. Where were you, what did the country look like? Were you alone or with friends? Did you take lots of B roll to help tell your story and provide some sort of time line or background? Taking the time to gather video clips that answer these questions is crucial. Without these, your video may be a short, incomplete, story.

Now that you do have all this great footage, what do you do with it? Unless you can put it all together in an organized fashion that keeps the viewer entertained, you will quickly loose your audience. Videography and editing go hand and hand, and by learning both you will become a far better storyteller.

I have always been impressed by the TV shows in which no animals were taken, but the footage they have and the story they tell is so good, and the editing is so right on, that a half hour show was fun to watch. Thats when you know you’ve done a good job. Not all hunts yield an animal, but they all yield memories and its up to you to capture them.

twice2

The rewards of filming hunts are great. Capturing these moments and sharing them with your friends or the public can be very rewarding. For those with a creative side, videoing your hunts can be a great outlet, and the camera and editing tools available make this feat easily in reach for the person who wants to dedicate themselves to the process.

So go for it! The best way to learn is to just do it. Tell us your story; show us your triumphs and heartbreaks. All these things I’ve mentioned to do and not do I know because I have done them wrong (and still do at times), but I have tried to learn from my mistakes. So enjoy yourself, create something, show it to all of us. Just don’t forget to press the “record” button!

Watch one of the pig hunts we filmed last year, and to see us harvest an awesome looking boar. Click Here- Harvest: Summer Hog Hunt

Many people wish to create outdoor videos or record their own hunts, but most people are unaware and unprepared for what it takes to make a quality video. By recognizing and overcoming many of the obstacles, we as a bowhunters and video makers, can produce quality, entertaining videos. Glassing+for+Hogs The first, and most obvious obstacle is that with a cameraman you have twice as many people in the field. This means twice as much movement, twice as much noise, twice as much scent and much more human interaction. It is essential to communicate with your cameraman. Out in the woods alone, your decisions are made inside your head. With your videographer by your side, you must discuss strategy, point to places and buttons, and make a host of other noise making, eye-catching gestures and noises that may spook game. With improved teamwork these distractions are minimized but they are never eliminated. The next hurdle to overcome is recording the quantity, and quality, of animal footage you need of your trophy. Many times this spring my camera man Ryer and I have spotted hogs and as we silently stalked closer we had difficulty recording a good quantity of quality footage. Remaining out of sight of game, yet having a clear view for memorable footage can be an oxymoron. Stopping to capture good animal video is time off the clock you may not have in your stalk. Then, as you do get within bow range, you have to make sure the cameraman is on the animal with everything all dialed in ready for the shot. No more just barely peeking over the edge of the rocks alone taking a quick shot. No more telling your man to "stay here while I get close" or "just hang back 10 or 20 yards". Most of the time your camera man has to be attached to your hip so they can see what you see. If your camera man hangs back to get some footage he likes and all of a sudden you have a shot he can't see, you must wait if you wish to create a good video. With all the videos with great animal footage and clear kill shots, ones with sporadic, shaky animal footage and no kill shot just remind people they are watching someones home videos. twice Speaking of shaky footage, the abilities of your cameraman now come into question. Rarely does handing the camera to your buddy and saying "film this" yield great video (although it can, and does happen). Familiarity with the camera and knowing how to focus, adjust iris and shutter speed, when to use gain, setting audio levels, and useing the right amount of zoom are required if you wish to do a good job. Throwing a Handi Cam into Bubba's hands and hoping you'll get great footage will leave you disappointed. Your cameraman must be as familiar with his gear as you are of yours. Regarding gear, if you wish to make good video, you must have good gear. The short of this is that unless you have a good camera, tripod, audio accessories, and a host of other minor and major gadgets, your productions will probably fall short of what you had envisioned. Now you must consider this question: Did you tell a story? Just pressing the record button at the moment of truth does not tell your audience anything except that you shot at something. Where were you, what did the country look like? Were you alone or with friends? Did you take lots of B roll to help tell your story and provide some sort of time line or background? Without these, your video may be a short, incomplete, story. Now that you do have all this great footage, what do you do with it? Unless you can put it all together in an organized fashion that keeps the viewer entertained, you will quickly loose your audience. Videography and editing go hand and hand, and by learning both you will become a far better storyteller. I have always been impressed by the TV shows in which no animals were taken, but the footage they have and the story they tell is so good, and the editing is so right on, that a half hour show was fun to watch. Then you know you've done a good job. Not all hunts yield an animal, but they all yield memories and its up to you to capture them. twice2

On the plus side, the rewards are great. Capturing these moments and sharing them with your friends or the public can be very rewarding. For those with a creative side, videoing your hunts can be a great outlet, and the camera and editing tools available make this easily in reach for the person who wants to dedicate themselves to the process.

So go for it! The best way to learn is to just do it. Tell us your story; show us your triumphs and heartbreaks. All these things I've mentioned to do and not do, I know because I have done them wrong (and still do at times), but I have tried to learn from my mistakes. So enjoy yourself, create something, show it to all of us. Just don't forget to press the "record" button!

Mental Games: What they don’t teach you about Retriever Training

May 18, 2016

Mental Games- Part 1

What they don’t teach you about retriever training

 

There are many articles regarding specific drills and concepts that are used for retriever training, so I’d like to talk a little about the mental aspects of getting your dog to his highest potential. Specifically, I’d like to touch on the theory behind designing drills and progressing your training.

Billy Jumping
Billy, the retriever in training, jumps into the water to pursue the bumper.

When designing a program, the first thing you need to do is form a clear idea of what your dog’s major tasks are going to be. Will he sit next to you in a rice check? Will he be in the bottom of a stand up blind in a tule marsh? Will he be sitting on a platform in the Arkansas timber? Knowing and understanding your dog’s unique requirements will dictate which direction you take your training. If you hunt in heavy timber or thick tule marsh, teaching your dog to do blind retrieves out to 300 yards might be a waste of time. Those same skills, however, may come in handy in a large rice field when you’ve sailed a buck sprig into the next check. Each situation has it’s own specific demands.

Once you’ve clearly determined what you ultimately want Fido to do, you now have to teach him these skills. To make learning easy and fun, your drills and sessions need to be designed to bring him along as smoothly as possible. Your drills need to start out as basic as possible, then advance from there. The goal is to move forward seamlessly enough where there are no giant leaps of learning that will leave you and him frustrated.
Challenging your team is ok, even beneficial, as it can build a stronger foundation for learning. Confusing yourselves only brings on, well, confusion.

Billy Retrieving
Billy coming back to shore with the bumper.

One of the reasons I think force fetching is so important is that, outside of basic obedience, teaching them to pick up the bumper on command is really the first and most basic part of any drill. If your dog can say, “No, I’m not picking that up”, you have nothing to fall back on. At the very least if you can say fetch and they will bend down and pick up the dummy, you can have some sort of success and victory. Although retrieving should be a joy and passion for them, defining who’s the boss and having a good delivery to hand are paramount.

Billy sits at the side of Mark while training.
Billy sits at the side of Mark while training.

As a professional dog trainer, people would often complain that their dog couldn’t do a new drill. Of course he couldn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t have them do it. When confronted by stumbling blocks in a new drill, simplify it by breaking it down into its basic parts. You don’t just teach a dog to
handle by laying out a baseball style drill. Separate and shorten your backs and overs so he can do them well right in front of you, where you have better control and he will get less tired. As he improves, lengthen your distances. Work in your right and left backs with your right and left overs. Remember, there are no laws on how you have to do these drills. You can stand wherever you want, put him at what ever angle you need or use any body language you can to help get your point across.

We apply the same principles of progression to more hunt specific training. If your dog has to sit on a platform in the timber, it’s a lot easier teaching him to do it on land and low to the ground at first. Once he is comfortable move to shallow water and finally into hunting conditions. Trying to have him lunge out of two feet of water in the dark with strange people and dogs thrashing around on his first time out can lead to an ugly first experience.
The first step to a successful training program is planning. Whatever skills your dog needs to learn for your hunting conditions, remember to break them down and simplify them to create less confusion, more enjoyment, and a better learning attitude.

Wife of a Hunter

Aug 27, 2015

I am the “wife of a hunter”.

The way I look at it, I have two choices: fight him or join him! All the pictures and videos may give the impression that I chose the latter, and joined him. Unfortunately, that would be way too easy, so I chose both. Before any false judgments are made, let me explain why.

IMG_9072

I chose to join Mark in his passion because his devout love for hunting is contagious. Hunting is truly an amazing experience. It is challenging both physically and mentally. It is exciting. As I trek through the country in complete silence I am able to soak in the beauty and serenity the great outdoors provides. It is time consuming, which forces me to take more than five minutes to focus on something else besides my responsibilities. The anticipation that hunting brings is what helps me sit in a tree stand for hours, or continue hiking despite being exhausted, or crawling out of a warm bed in the dark, freezing cold! The anticipation of sighting my trophy. Defeating the challenge. Outsmarting a species with incredible senses and a keen knowledge of his surroundings. If I am lucky enough to get 20-30 yards away from the animal, then comes the time to execute. Executing is not as easy as you think. It hasn’t happened all that much for me, because the animal has the best odds of survival when I’m trying to harvest them with a bow! However, even when I leave the hunt without the prize, I still bring home the adventure. Not to mention, joining in my husband’s passion. Priceless.

So you may ask, “Why fight it”? Well, first and foremost I am a mother. Truly, no matter how tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed I can get with years of raising a large family; they still hold my heart captive. But, being the wife of a hunter can be like being a MARRIED, single mother, which is not fun! When Mark takes off on his adventures, I am full of mixed feelings. Part of me is jealous that I am not joining him, while another part is content that I’m not leaving my kids. Most of all, I feel instantly lonely. Mark plays a key part in our adventure at home…. raising our family. Although everyday is not perfect, he is my support, my cheerleader, my friend, and my love. Who would not want to fight for that?

If you are the wife of a hunter, or a hunter who has a wife, I highly recommend sharing this passion together. It eases the pain of the times apart and builds a bond and memories that are indescribable! I hope you enjoy following Mark’s adventures as much as I do.

I am the "wife of a hunter". The way I look at it, I have two choices: fight him or join him! All the pictures and videos may give the impression that I chose the latter, and joined him. Unfortunately, that would be way too easy, so I chose both. Before any false judgments are made, let me explain why. IMG_9072 I chose to join Mark in his passion because his devout love for hunting is contagious. Hunting is truly an amazing experience. It is challenging both physically and mentally. It is exciting. As I trek through the country in complete silence I am able to soak in the beauty and serenity the great outdoors provides. It is time consuming, which forces me to take more than five minutes to focus on something else besides my responsibilities. The anticipation that hunting brings is what helps me sit in a tree stand for hours, or continue hiking despite being exhausted, or crawling out of a warm bed in the dark, freezing cold! The anticipation of sighting my trophy. Defeating the challenge. Outsmarting a species with incredible senses and a keen knowledge of his surroundings. If I am lucky enough to get 20-30 yards away from the animal, then comes the time to execute. Executing is not as easy as you think. It hasn't happened all that much for me, because the animal has the best odds of survival when I'm trying to harvest them with a bow! However, even when I leave the hunt without the prize, I still bring home the adventure. Not to mention, joining in my husband's passion. Priceless. So you may ask, "Why fight it"? Well, first and foremost I am a mother. Truly, no matter how tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed I can get with years of raising a large family; they still hold my heart captive. But, being the wife of a hunter can be like being a MARRIED, single mother, which is not fun! When Mark takes off on his adventures, I am full of mixed feelings. Part of me is jealous that I am not joining him, while another part is content that I'm not leaving my kids. Most of all, I feel instantly lonely. Mark plays a key part in our adventure at home.... raising our family. Although everyday is not perfect, he is my support, my cheerleader, my friend, and my love. Who would not want to fight for that? If you are the wife of a hunter, or a hunter who has a wife, I highly recommend sharing this passion together. It eases the pain of the times apart and builds a bond and memories that are indescribable! I hope you enjoy following Mark's adventures as much as I do.

X Fowler: A Revolution in Duck Blinds

Aug 21, 2015

Recently at the Sportsman Expo in Sacramento, I ran across an awesome product that I knew would help me be a more successful waterfowl hunter, the X Fowler duck blind.

X Fowler duck blinds are a floating platform with caging, hardware and options attached, that allow you to hunt in water previously un-huntable to you or were inconvenient or uncomfortable with other options.

The blinds are constructed with marine grade polyurethane (similar to the famous Boston Whaler) and coated with a nearly indestructible plastic covering .The caging is powder coated and built in a pyramid shape for a more 3 dimensional look, and perfect for camouflaging your duck blind.

After talking to The X Fowler boys at the expo, I convinced them come out and give me a demo of their blinds on a honker hunt. In the afternoon we easily launched the blinds into the water and dressed them up to look like surrounding tule patches. We walked the duck blinds through inches of water into the middle of the pond and easily secured them with tree stakes to the bottom through the precut stake holes.

I was a little leery about being stuck out in the open water in a blind that was previously unknown to the geese, but my worries were unfounded. The geese locked in on the small spread of decoys, and over the course of a couple hours, bunch after bunch of honkers decoyed straight into the duck blinds with feet down. The hunters stood and fired in comfort and ease making accurate shooting easy, even for the four large hunters.

After the morning flight was over, and 22 geese were grounded for good, the blinds were easily loaded back on the trailer, and the boys were off to their next adventure. They assured me that this “feet down” shooting was the norm, and hunting big open water was now far more productive, comfortable and enjoyable than ever before. (Check out the video below to see the action.)

The blinds are incredibly stable, durable and accessible. Combining these factors with quality workmanship and a number of options, you have a versatile blind you can use in a large number of hunting conditions while remaining very comfortable, enjoying your hunt for hours on end. These blind are among the best duck blinds on the market today.

Harry Bunfill and the rest of the X Fowler crew are avid duck hunters, and created an outstanding blind. It was built out of a labor of love, and it shows. The blind screams of excellence, and those wishing to upgrade their current blind situation, or those new to the sport wanting to start out with the best need to look no farther. This fall, I will be adding the X Fowler Duck Blind to my line up and I guarantee it will add to my success as a waterfowl hunter.

Recently at the Sportsman Expo in Sacramento, I ran across an awesome product that I knew would help me be a more successful waterfowl hunter, the X Fowler duck blind. X Fowler duck blinds are a floating platform with caging, hardware and options attached, that allow you to hunt in water previously un-huntable to you or were inconvenient or uncomfortable with other options. The blinds are constructed with marine grade polyurethane (similar to the famous Boston Whaler) and coated with a nearly indestructible plastic covering .The caging is powder coated and built in a pyramid shape for a more 3 dimensional look, and perfect for camouflaging your duck blind. After talking to The X Fowler boys at the expo, I convinced them come out and give me a demo of their blinds on a honker hunt. In the afternoon we easily launched the blinds into the water and dressed them up to look like surrounding tule patches. We walked the duck blinds through inches of water into the middle of the pond and easily secured them with tree stakes to the bottom through the precut stake holes. I was a little leery about being stuck out in the open water in a blind that was previously unknown to the geese, but my worries were unfounded. The geese locked in on the small spread of decoys, and over the course of a couple hours, bunch after bunch of honkers decoyed straight into the duck blinds with feet down. The hunters stood and fired in comfort and ease making accurate shooting easy, even for the four large hunters. After the morning flight was over, and 22 geese were grounded for good, the blinds were easily loaded back on the trailer, and the boys were off to their next adventure. They assured me that this “feet down” shooting was the norm, and hunting big open water was now far more productive, comfortable and enjoyable than ever before. (Check out the video below to see the action.) The blinds are incredibly stable, durable and accessible. Combining these factors with quality workmanship and a number of options, you have a versatile blind you can use in a large number of hunting conditions while remaining very comfortable, enjoying your hunt for hours on end. These blind are among the best duck blinds on the market today. Harry Bunfill and the rest of the X Fowler crew are avid duck hunters, and created an outstanding blind. It was built out of a labor of love, and it shows. The blind screams of excellence, and those wishing to upgrade their current blind situation, or those new to the sport wanting to start out with the best need to look no farther. This fall, I will be adding the X Fowler Duck Blind to my line up and I guarantee it will add to my success as a waterfowl hunter.

Mariposa Exotics

Aug 21, 2015

Nathan Brence from Nimrod Outdoors, his daughter Josie and his friend Randy joined us for an exotic hunt. Josie and Randy are new archery hunters and had a chance to learn some valuable hunting skills, and bring home alot of delicious meat. Josie was too young to get a pig tag in California, so this was a great opportunity for a hunter who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to hunt big game. Randy hasn’t taken any big game with his bow, and after a few close calls with some hogs, he also was able to get a taste of success after perusing some Spanish goats. Both of these new bow hunters got valuable experience that will help them this fall when they go after big game in Washington. Read this article for a full recap of their Barbados sheep and Spanish Goat hunt.

Nathan Brence from Nimrod Outdoors, his daughter Josie and his friend Randy joined us for an exotic hunt. Josie and Randy are new archery hunters and had a chance to learn some valuable hunting skills, and bring home alot of delicious meat. Josie was too young to get a pig tag in California, so this was a great opportunity for a hunter who otherwise wouldn't have been able to hunt big game. Randy hasn't taken any big game with his bow, and after a few close calls with some hogs, he also was able to get a taste of success after perusing some Spanish goats. Both of these new bow hunters got valuable experience that will help them this fall when they go after big game in Washington. Read this article for a full recap of their Barbados sheep and Spanish Goat hunt.