Thursday, July 28, 2016

Desire = The X-Factor

"Whether a man thinks he can or cannot - he is exactly right!"  - Henry Ford

How is your outlook?
There is no doubt that your outlook affects your outcome.  The outdoors is a tough wild place that is unforgiving and not easy to overcome. It's tough enough all by itself and then you multiply it with a physical handicap or disability or age and it can seem an impossible challenge.  However, your inner desire to remain out there is about as big as Mt. Everest in determining your success.  This weeks article is a break from the norm by design.  Sometimes we all need to hear the call to bravery, courage, and faith.

Where there is a will...

Is your heart free?
Put simply, I will not accept that my days in the sun are over.  My body may have succumbed to a wheelchair but my heart is still free and so is yours!  If you have begun to believe the lie that your outdoors passion is over, then STOP IT!  Stop it right now.  Get into a mirror and give yourself a big 'ole pep-talk.  One thing I have learned in life is that whatever you set your mind to can be achieved.  It may take some extra time, planning, and determination but it still can be achieved nonetheless.  Your desire to continue, to last, to go beyond what you believe you can do is a major reason for living.  It gives you vitality. It compels you to keep on going and not give up...ever!

Seek the help you need...

In addition to extra time, planning and determination, you are going to likely need help. I have found that people really want to see me continue fishing and hunting and will go to great lengths to aid me in my quest.  People have graciously granted me access to their ponds and land.  Some have invited me to hunt with them and it was a great time on each and every occasion.  Multiple people have aided in fabricating things that assist me in hunting from a wheelchair.  In short, don't be prideful.  Pride is like a dam, it holds stuff up and doesn't allow things to flow naturally.  Although it's never fun to have to admit when you can't do something, it's even less fun to give up an entire area of your life simply because you won't humble yourself and ask for help.  This is stinking thinking.  It hurts nobody else but you.  Let it go!

Share your success...

You may not think of yourself as influential, but you have more influence than you know.  Social media allows everyone to be a writer of sorts.  Post your pics and your stories of adventure, your successes and your failures (more on this in a minute).  What you do matters!  You may be the kick in the seat someone else needs to re-engage in their journey.  Don't be afraid of being an inspiration to others.

Laugh at yourself...

Laugh at yourself, it helps!
Having a physical disability or handicap can be tough, I know.  No, I really know!  But ease up.  Don't slime everyone else around you.  By learning to giggle at your situation, you will cause others to feel at ease and want to be around you.  Case in point, last week I was out with my buddy Kyle.  We were prepping a site for deer season.  My wheelchair got so stuck in very tall grass that it popped the breaker on the chair.  I could've gotten all weird and panicky.  I mean, we were stuck and it was getting pretty dark. But, what good would that have done?  It would have only made Kyle nervous and not be able to get me unstuck.  Just LAUGH!  It's life.  It's not perfect but it sure is fun.  I called my wheelchair tech and with a minor flip of a switch we were back up and running.  We laughed all the way home about that moment and told others for several days afterwards.  Just as easily, I could have lost a hunting partner by being dramatic. Your failures will help endear people to you more than your successes ever could.  In the end, it's your choice of how you handle unforeseen obstacles.

I hope you have been encouraged by this piece.  I hope that in some way these words placed together have kindled a fire inside of you, stirred your heart, reminded you of the hunger you have for adventure.  It's out there.  The real question is: Are you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shooting Tips for the Handicapped Hunter


Big-Guy!
You are in the blind.  The deer you have been watching on trail-cam finally presents himself.  It is the moment of truth.  Adrenaline, butterflies in the gut, maybe a little sweat begins to form on your forehead and upper-lip. Not the time to have to do an algebra equation to figure out bullet drop to the target, right?  It is also not the time to discover that your gun is moving much more than you would like to make a good shot because of all the excitement of finally having the deer in your sights.

This week, I hope to give you some simple tips that can make a huge difference between success and ultimate frustration.  These tips are meant to make the entire process more enjoyable, relaxing and give you much needed confidence when THE MOMENT arrives.

Caldwell Tree-Pod
Tip #1 - Use a shooting rest.  Able bodied hunters use shooting rests.  If they do, trust me, you should too.  I understand that a disabled hunter wants to sometimes challenge themselves to be able to do things as normally as possible despite their personal challenges.  More important however, is to take an animal as humanely as possible.  This requires accuracy.  Accuracy requires a stable base from which to make the shot.  Thus, a shooting rest.

I use the Caldwell Tree-Pod.  It attaches right to my wheelchair with minimal assistants.  It gives me a stable platform to operate the gun or crossbow efficiently and with confidence.  And it also provides flexibility to move a little.  Amazon has great prices, just click the link above and it will take you right to them.

Tip #2 - Confidence.  I cannot over-emphasize confidence.  When the "moment" comes, you have to have this essential ingredient to get the job done.  Every hunter who has taken an animal stretches for words to describe the feelings just before the shot comes and the exhilaration or despair just after the shot has been fired.  All of the prep work, the feeding, the trail-cams and practice have culminated into this one moment.  The juices are flowing!

In the midst of all of these emotions, there is something inside of every successful hunter that centers and calms them so that they can act in all that turmoil.  You hear pro athletes talk about "the zone" where the game slows down and they become laser-focused on the task at hand...confidence.

You watch a pro-golfer sink a 10 foot putt to win the tournament.  They have actually done that a thousand times in their head and in practice so that when the moment comes, they are bigger than the moment...confidence!

Tip #3 - Trust the rise, not the fall.  There is nothing more frustrating than to have the animal of your dreams, be it a deer, a hog, a coyote, fill in the blank, to walk out 50-100 yards beyond what your gun is zeroed in for.  Now you have to guess-timate bullet drop.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Now I don't know about you, but I would rather know and not guess in these situations.  Most people sight their rifles in at 100 hundred yards here in the south.  But when I ask them, "What yardage are you comfortable at shooting?"  Their answer is typically 200-300 yards.  This creates a conundrum.

A bullet when it is fired rises and then falls back to the yardage you have zeroed in the scope for.  If you are zeroed in at 200 yards, the bullet will rise to it's highest point around 100-125 yards and will only be 1.5-2 inches high of zero at this point.

Once it passes zero (200 yards in our example), the fall off is tremendous and can be very difficult to guess when shooting whether in practice or at a live animal.  Being accurate passed the zero point can prove tough for even experienced able bodied hunters.  In the chart below, notice the drop off from 200 yards which is zero to 300 yards being 7 inches low.  Good luck guessing a 7 inch difference at 300 yards on an animal.  Is it do-able?  Yes, but not very practical.

Courtesy of Hornady.com

Now I am a simple man who likes to keep things as simple as possible.  If it is only a 1-2 inch difference between 100-200 yards in our example, can you live with that bullet placement consistently?  I can!

In other words, set your scope for your maximum comfortable yardage and practice shooting from there back to shorter yardages. I use Hornady ammunition (image above).  They provide bullet flight charts and calculators that are very reliable, even down to 25 yard increments.

Make it a personal rule that anything outside your comfortable longest shot gets a pass.  This will save animals and your ego when you mishit that deer of a lifetime, track it for hours and find it a few days later half eaten by predators.

Ok, so let's recap.  Use a shooting rest that you like.  Be confident, perfect practice makes perfect.  And lastly, sight your rifle in for your longest shot and trust the rise of the bullet out to your zero yardage.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Best Mid-Summer Fishing Rig for Handicapped and Kids

It's hot!  Welcome to summer 2016.  The All-Star baseball game and Wimbledon are in the books and the dog days of summer are upon us.  This is a time of year that can be difficult to get fish to hit.  Fortunately, I have the answer for you in this article.

It's funny how some things can be so old that they become "new" again.  There is nothing better than a great rediscovery of a former trusted tool.  The Wobble Head Worm Rig is just such a discovery.

To look at it you would question whether a fish would run from it rather than aggressively striking it.  But the truth is many a professional fisherman still use this rig and win tournaments in the south during the hottest months of the year.

As the name says, the metal piece at the top causes the entire rig to wobble through the water.  This rhythmic wobble creates aggressive strikes and is endless fun for any lake or pond.

For the disabled fisherman, the retrieve is super simple.  Throw it and reel it..that's it!  Not too fast and not too slow but a nice methodical retrieve can cause vicious hits.  If you are using a medium/fast tipped rod, the fish will virtually set the hook for you, which is nice.

The real trick to the rig is it MUST be rigged with a straight bodied and tailed worm.  The twist or wiggly tail worm will only cause problems and work against you with this rig.  So, since the wobble head rig dates back to the early 70's, there is no better worm to use than the original Creme Worms.

I grew up with these plastic worms.  They were the king of the fishing industry until Mr. Twister put a big dent in their reign with advent of the curled tail worm.

The Chairman of our board at Handicapped Outdoors was using a wobble head rig just a few weeks ago at his home and landed two fish around the 3-4 pound class within an hour or so of fishing with it...it works!

We have a local fishing shop that sells these.  You won't find them in a the super stores for outdoors.  You can order them Here online.

There are even ways to fish it weedless or add a trailer hook to it.  See the diagrams below.
Weedless
Add a keeper hook