Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category

D.E.E.R. Project

October 9th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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D.E.E.R. Project

By Matthew Hayes

Mule deer have a complex history throughout the western United States. In the days of the early settlers and pioneers, mule deer were relatively scarce; many trappers and explorers reported only occasional sightings of mule deer whereas other big game species were regularly observed. At the beginning of the 20th century, mule deer populations had been drastically reduced in number due largely to overharvest, market hunting, and overgrazing. Protections were put in place in the early to mid-1900s, eventually leading to ideas such as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which was followed by a dramatic increase in mule deer populations. Mule deer populations peaked between the 1940s to the early 1960s throughout the western US.

Fast forward a few decades to the present day. With a lens to examine population fluctuations over the past 40+ years, a clear pattern has emerged. Populations, at least in Wyoming, appear to go through cyclical periods of increase followed by sharp declines. In reviewing literature and historical documents, concerns about mule deer populations tend to follow huge decreases in populations and when they subsequently rise, research and management become less important. Another point that seems clear in Wyoming is that although we have this see-saw in population numbers, there is a general declining trend since at least the 1970s. On average, Wyoming has seen a roughly 20% reduction in mule deer populations.

The population swings, and general decline, of mule deer since the 1970s has been difficult to understand. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain these declines, including: overharvest, harsh winters, habitat, drought, predation, disease and burgeoning elk populations. Managers have long noted that many areas that mule deer inhabit face different pressures and that populations are likely being driven by a variety of factors. All factors are not influencing populations in each portion of their range. This complication has meant that gaining a more complete understanding of reasons for fluctuations or stagnant growth in population numbers has been elusive. Without a solid understanding of the why and how associated with population fluctuations, it is incredibly difficult for targeted management to be beneficial.

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Researchers and managers have made great strides to better understand mule deer ecology and factors relating to their survival and reproduction. In the early 2000’s Global Positioning Systems (GPS) became small enough to fit onto a collar sized for ungulates. Since then, studies have been conducted examining migration and use of the landscape in summer and winter. The effects of drought and shifting precipitation regimes have been investigated as well as determining when, where and how animals are dying. Wyoming has been at the forefront of this research and has helped to better understand the ecology and management of mule deer. A key ecological process that has remained poorly understood are the interactions between mule deer and elk (though some work has been done at the Starkey Experimental Forest).

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Mule Deer with GPS tracking collar.

Both mule deer and elk are highly cherished big game species. Wyoming and her residents rely on these animals for hunting, tourism and as a part of our cultural heritage. Nevertheless, at the same time those mule deer populations have generally declined, elk populations have increased dramatically across the same geographical range. Managers and researchers have long wondered if mule deer and elk could be competing for space and resources but, until recently, the ability to study these interactions was almost impossible. Potential for interactions between these 2, highly valued species to affect one another’s abundance has been a bit of a conundrum for decades, probably given the challenges associated with addressing such a complex question. The Deer-Elk Ecology Research Project (DEER) was ultimately incepted out the need to unravel the head-scratching complexities of poor performing mule deer populations, while a similar big game animal continues to grow in the same country.

Population sizes for Mule Deer

Population sizes for Deer

 

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Population sizes for Elk

 

The DEER Project, located in the Greater Little Mountain Area of southwestern Wyoming, aims to increase our understanding of both mule deer and elk. This project is examining parturition timing and location of mule deer, mortality and recruitment of fawns, nutritional condition of adult female mule deer, summer diet overlap between elk and mule deer, space use, recruitment of male mule deer, survival, migration, and dispersal. We also are implicitly examining winter severity, habitat use, precipitation patterns, predation and disease. One of the greatest strengths of this work is the rigorous monitoring of both mule deer and elk in the same system. Many studies prior have examined one species or the other with inference to supposed interactions, but the DEER project will be able to analyze these interactions at a much finer scale. Another added benefit of this project is that it occurs in a high-desert system—an ecosystem ubiquitous throughout Wyoming but less studied compared to high-elevation systems. Far from being a one-off or unique system, the results from this work will be applicable to mule deer and elk throughout their shared range.

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Future articles will focus on updates from the DEER project. You can follow along with the project, donate and subscribe for updates at www.deerproject.org.

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has explored the issue of mule deer decline in depth and has published a very approachable book on the topic; you can check out the website at www.wafwa.org and navigate to the Mule Deer Working Group for more information.

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: mont

 

UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

 

Kevin Monteith 307-766-2322 kevin.monteith@uwyo.edu

Matthew Hayes 307-766-5417 mhayes1@uwyo.edu

 

 

 

 

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WYOMING GAME & FISH DEPARTMENT

Patrick Burke 307-875-3223 patrick.burke@wyo.gov

Mark Zornes 307-875-3223 mark.zornes@wyo.gov

Kevin Spence 307-875-3223 kevin.spence@wyo.gov

Early Season Bowhunting Tactics

October 2nd, 2016 by BTC Editor

By Greg Staggs

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I turned and idled gently up the drive, palms getting clammy even as my breathing became shallower. Easing my truck to a stop, I quietly reached down and turned off the ignition and allowed the silence to envelope me. Going over my planned routine seemed to settle me a bit, and I took one last deep breath and opened the door. I had been thinking about this moment for weeks and it was finally here. Sliding off my seat, I walked as confidently as I could up to the door, knocked and asked if my date was ready.

First dates in high school probably provided as much nervous anticipation as anything I would experience for the first part of my life… until I started bowhunting. Today, I still idle gently into my parking spot. My palms may not be as clammy, but my senses are definitely heightened as adrenaline courses through my veins, thinking about the possibilities, the “what-ifs”… And my planned routine? It’s down to a science.

Chasing whitetails across the Midwest in September and October is truly a love of my life these days. Here are three things that have become a part of my routine that’s led to years of punched tags and filled freezers early in the season.

  • Scout with a light footprint. Amazingly enough, I don’t spend a lot of time in the woods in the summer. Most of my whitetail hunting is done on public land with miles of corn and soybeans backing up to the woods. I’ve spent many a night tucked into a fence row on the opposite side of a field glassing to identify which corners the deer are using to enter the fields.

 

  • Stay away as much as possible. If I can place a trail camera there on one visit and retrieve a card from it a month later, it’s harder for the deer to pattern me but I’m gaining valuable reconnaissance the whole time I wasn’t there. Taking it a step further, even my trail-camera placement leaves little presence. Ever walked into the woods and noticed a camera staring at you at eye-level? It can be obtrusive and stick out like a sore thumb. I’ve had deer think the same thing; I can tell by their reactions I’ve captured. A lot of times these days – especially on public land – I’ll take a lightweight climber with me and angle my camera down from twelve feet or so. It also keeps honest people honest, as my Dad used to say.
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  • Hunt with a light footprint. The first couple months of archery seasons in the Midwest can be downright hot. Deer don’t like to travel any farther than they have to, which means they’ll often bed less than 100 yards inside the woodline. If you plan to dive deeper in the woods this time of year, plan on bumping some deer. I’d rather sneak in and out of the edge a few times than blunder up once and alert every deer in the woods to your presence – especially a full month ahead of that magical November time-frame.

 

Greg Staggs is the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery, and his writing regularly appears in such magazines as Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. Staggs loves introducing his two boys to all things outdoors, including fishing, trapping, canoeing and camping, and has been chasing turkeys and big game exclusively with archery equipment for over 20 years.

 

Archery Tips with Levi Morgan

September 18th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: What steps do you go through mentally when you draw back on an animal to ensure your form is right and to help calm your nerves?

Levi: You know it’s funny, I don’t think. I think it’s all in practice when you do that because everybody, including myself, when you get out there in the woods and that buck of a lifetime steps out, no matter how hard I try or how much I tell myself, “Hey, I’m going to really slow down next time and I’m going to think about what I’m doing”, I look back and go “Man, that was a blur. You know, I don’t even remember that.” I don’t remember what I did, I don’t remember why I did it, so I think It’s so important to not just get your bow and go out and shoot just once every couple of weeks or get it & take it out 3 weeks before season, because you have to create that muscle memory and teach yourself to slow down and practice.

One thing I do is hunt with a caliper release. When a big deer would come out, I would draw back and get in such a hurry that when my pin got there I would just press the release off. I wasn’t really freaking out or anything, but I was rushing the shot every time. I was afraid the deer was going to run or it was going to see me, I was just nervous. So when I need to slow myself down, I started hunting with what’s called a back-tension release, or a hinge release, which forces you to slow down. You can’t shoot it fast or it’s an epic fail, so it forced me to slow down.

I really feel like it’s easy to say, I’m going to think about all these different steps when a big buck comes out. But the truth of the matter is, I really feel like people are going to do what comes naturally to them, which is why I think it’s so important beforehand to be prepared and have your equipment fit you perfect. Really get to know it and shoot it all the time because when you get nervous and everything goes blank, you’re going to revert back to what you do naturally with that bow and the way you practice with it. I really think that’s the best way to be prepared for the moment of truth.

Also, when I’m sitting in the stand or when I’m out hunting sheep, I imagine opportunities happening. For instance, if a buck comes down that trail, where am I going to shoot him at? Where am I going to stop him at? How is he going to be angled if he’s on that trail or if he walks out into the food plot? I try to imagine every scenario that could happen to me while I’m sitting there or while I’m hiking so when it does happen I’ve already kind of played it out in my mind that I’m going to stop him here and he’s going to be perfectly broadside or a little quartered away.

Obviously in hunting, you never know what’s going to happen, but that has helped me before. Nothing is as important as just being really prepared.

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BTC: A lot of archers and bow hunters struggle with target panic. What advice do you have on how to overcome this?

Levi: Target panic is probably the most common thing in archery. I think almost everybody has been through it at one time or another if they’ve shot a bow long enough. There are so many causes of it and because of that there are a lot of cures. I think some of the main causes of target panic are too heavy poundage, too long of a draw length, or not having equipment that fits you. Also things like your peep being too small and things in your sights that are making you too uncomfortable, for example your pins being too small to see, the target being blurry…All of those things can cause it.

Another major cause is holding your breath when you shoot. I’ve talked to professional fighters and doctors about that. When you hold your breath the first muscle that starts to break down is your eyes. That’s a huge cause of target panic so that’s why it’s so important to keep breathing. I’ve seen people pull back, hold their breath and aim too long and just feeling like they HAVE to shoot now. That’s really all that target panic is, no matter what the cause, is when the pin hits the target they feel like they have to shoot now.

I think the best cure for target panic is to stand in your yard, pull back and aim at the target with your arrow loaded and finger on the release. Put your pin in the middle and leave it there but don’t shoot the arrow. When your pin starts to go, let it down. Take a few seconds to regroup, then pull back and aim at the target and let down again without shooting. Do that over and over for however long you normally practice for about a week or so. All that’s doing is letting your mind know, “It’s ok for my pin to sit there. I’m in control. I don’t have to fire this shot”. Also what it’s going to do, is you’re going to aim at the middle longer and longer, allowing you to build up that confidence and stamina to keep your pin in the middle longer to let you execute that perfect shot.

I think that’s one of the best drills there is. It lets you just focus on aiming, relaxes your mind and lets yourself know that it’s ok to aim at the target and not fire that arrow as soon as the pin gets in the middle.

BTC: What are some of the bad habits you’ve had as an archer and what helped you the most in overcoming them?

Levi: I think my worst habit, as a hunter and shooter, is when I get in a hurry. I go out and practice just to be practicing. Practicing numb is what I call it. I think when you stop trying to get better, you’re going backwards. For me, I think it’s really important to count on myself, even in practice. I don’t go out and shoot at 30 or 40 yards at the same dot every day. I try to challenge myself, whether that’s moving back further distances or trying to hit so many arrows in a row on a certain dot. Whatever games you can play to make it fun for you, that makes you challenge yourself and keep trying to get better every single time you practice and not get complacent. What should be 4 inch groups at 40 yards may be plenty good to go hunting, but it’s not the best that you can do. I think a lot of people say, “Well that’s good enough”. I’ve heard it so many times. It’s easy to do that when you’re shooting good enough but it’s important I think, for me especially, to keep challenging myself and keep trying to shoot better groups at further distances and really keep it fun and interesting during practice.

 

BTC: You’re going to Alaska soon to hunt sheep as part of your quest to complete the Super Slam with your bow. How far are you from completing the Super Slam?

Levi: There’s 29 animals in the Super Slam and I have killed 17 of the 29 with a bow, so I’ve got 12 left.

 

BTC: Which animal has been your favorite to hunt so far?

Levi: Probably my Dall Sheep in the Yukon. It was the hardest. I guess it felt the best when it was over. It was the most satisfying when the hunt was done because of how hard we had to work. We spent 14 days on horseback (The episode just aired the evening we talked on the Sportsmen Channel).

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BTC: Do you have any advice for others who are wanting to complete the Super Slam?

Levi: Yes. Go to their website, www.superslam.org. The first thing I would say to do is to become a member of Super Slam because they give away hunts every month, and these adventure type of hunts are not cheap or easy to go about getting.

 

Also, do a lot of research. These are not your normal types of hunts. I grew up a whitetail guy, hunting whitetail in the Midwest. When I started doing these hunts, going to the Arctic, Mexico, the Yukon and all over the world, it was just a wakeup call on what gear I needed and how little I actually knew about my equipment. I think it really teaches you a lot when you go to those places and you’re riding on a horse for 14 days. You never know when something can go wrong, so get to know your equipment really well, do your research on what you need to take, and don’t cut corners on your gear. The weather is so uncontrollable out there on these adventure hunts.

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Dove Hunting Basics

September 17th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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There has always been a lot of excitement surrounding the beginning of fall. Cooler weather, hoodies and bonfires are just a few things we start to hear about around the first of September. But to most hunters, September means dove hunting and marks the beginning of the fall hunting seasons!

For most states, dove season is now underway. If you are thinking about bird hunting for the first time this year, I highly suggest giving dove hunting a try. It’s one of the simplest types of bird hunting to get into, as far as obtaining the proper licenses and the cost of hunting equipment. Plus, the hunting atmosphere is generally pretty carefree and relaxed, which I find is much needed compared to how serious whitetail hunting can become.

Here are a few dove hunting basics to keep in mind when preparing for dove season.

Practice

While I do feel dove hunting is one of the easiest and cheapest types of bird hunting to get into, I think doves are one of the harder game birds to hit. Not only are they small and fast, they zigzag through the sky making for a fun, but challenging hunt.

To prepare for my first dove season I practiced shooting skeet in my backyard prior to the season opener. I was new to bird hunting altogether at that time, so that helped me get more comfortable with handling a shotgun. If you have a sporting clay course near you, that is probably one of the best ways to prepare for shooting live birds since the targets are thrown at varying angles and speeds, simulating a more real-world hunting experience.

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Shooting on a sporting clay course

 

Licenses and Equipment

For dove hunting you will need a hunting license and Migratory Bird permit, which are both relatively cheap. Always double check with your state conservation department to make sure you have the proper permits.

Besides your hunting permits, you will also need a shotgun and shotgun shells. I prefer my auto-loading Browning Maxus shotgun. Again, make sure you check the regulations with your state conservation department. Most states require you to have a plug in your shotgun that won’t allow you to have more than 3 shells in at at time.

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A good shotshell size for dove hunting is a 1 or 1-1/8 ounce load of 7 1/2’s, like these shells from Browning Ammo. It really only takes a few pellets to down a dove so you shouldn’t need to go larger than a 7 ½ or 8. Like it or not, with dove hunting you are going to miss sometimes, so always bring more ammo than you think you will need!

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You may want to purchase a small stool or seat to sit on while out hunting. When the doves are flying good, you could be out hunting for hours, so you may as well make yourself comfortable and at home! This Dove Shooter Stool from AlpsOutdoorz is a good option. It has a strap that makes it easy to carry to and from the field. There is a cooler underneath the seat so you can bring lunch and keep your drinks cool. It could also double as a way to carry your shells or your doves. The front pockets are great for holding boxes of shotgun shells, or holding a few decoys!

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Dove Shooter Stool and Browning Ammo

 

Decoys

You don’t have to have decoys but they often help bring doves in for a closer shot when they would stay out of shooting range otherwise. Placing a few decoys on open ground, as well as a few on nearby tree branches or a fence row is generally a good setup. When placing decoys on tree limbs, the higher the better. Doves tend to fly into the wind, so you’ll want to place your decoys facing that way.

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Concealment

Doves have good eyesight so you will want to wear camo that blends in with your surroundings. Where you and other hunters set up is also important. I like to set up along tree-lined edges and will often make a blind out of the surrounding brush or cedar tree limbs for added concealment. It’s also a good idea for your shotgun to be camouflaged, but is not always necessary.

Lead the Bird

What works for me is aiming ahead of the dove, squeezing the trigger and swinging through the shot. You may be surprised at how far you have to lead these speedy little birds, so if you keep missing I’d try leading the dove even more.

I admit that I missed every single dove I shot at during my first season. By the time my second season rolled around and I was able to connect on some birds, I learned what I had been doing wrong. Instead of leading the birds and swinging through the shot, I got anxious and was just flinging my shotgun up and forcing a bad shot. Once I actually hit a bird, I got a good feel for what I was doing right and it was much easier from there on out.

Locations

There are a few different places that are good for hunting doves. If you can find a location where there are food sources, watering holes, and plenty of trees for a good roosting spot you’ll be off to a good start. One other thing to keep in mind is doves need grit to help digest the different types of seeds they eat. The grit can be found on gravel roads or any location where sand and dirt may be, so if you can hunt field edges bordered by gravel roads you should be in a great spot.

Typically, doves will be located around the watering holes just after dawn and then as soon as they return to their roost at around dusk. In the daytime you might find them sitting on power lines near the gravel roads for a few hours before they return to their afternoon feeding spots.

Whether you have been bird hunting for years or are just getting started, dove hunting is a great way to sharpen your wingshooting skills. It’s also a good way to introduce your children to hunting and allows them to get in more shooting time than hunting deer and other big game. Plus, there’s no better way to ring in the fall hunting seasons than a good dove shoot!

 

Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys turkey hunting, deer hunting and bowhunting. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Jason Bosaw of Whitetail Freaks – 9/11 Interview

September 11th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: Do you recall where were you and what you were doing on 9/11 when you heard about the terrorist attack? What type of impact did those events have on you as you watched them unfold?

JASON: Yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.  I was working on the grain dryer at the farm.  I was just very surprised that something of that magnitude could happen on American soil.

 

BTC: We understand that you are very committed to serving your community as firefighter.  How challenging is it to manage both your farming and your hunting when you could get a call to respond to a call at virtually any given moment?

JASON: I am very committed to my job and my service as a firefighter, as well as to hunting.  I am on call virtually 24 hours a day but my job and the firefighting come first.  Balancing the two is sometimes difficult, but my willingness to help someone or their property comes to the forefront.

 

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BTC: In your work with the Fire Department you have probably learned to stay calm and focused high stress situations. Has this helped you out at all in the moment of truth to keep from getting buck fever?

JASON: No matter how calm I may be able to stay at the response scene, it is nothing like when a big buck walks out in front of me.  My heart still wants to beat out of my chest and my adrenaline level is sky high.  I don’t think I will ever be able to contain that.  They are two totally different scenarios.

 

Jason is one of the original Whitetail Freaks and counts his family and serving his community among his passions outside of his pursuit for the next great whitetail he encounters…

Ken Haas of Whitetail Freaks – 9/11 Interview

September 11th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: Do you recall where were you and what you were doing on 9/11 when you heard about the terrorist attack? What type of impact did those events have on you as you watched them unfold?

KEN: I was sitting in a grocery store in Council Bluffs, Iowa eating breakfast with two other Troopers while the news was on. We all watched in utter disbelief as the second plane hit the tower. All of us there were prior military and we all had the same gut wrenching feeling that we were under attack and felt very helpless watching the entire event unfold. I remember that day being very quiet and the airways going quiet as all air traffic had been grounded. Living equal distance from Offut Air Force Base and Omaha Eply Airfield it was eerily quiet. It was a huge surprise to see a plane I knew well fly by, that being Airforce one descending into Offut Airforce Base, which was no doubt bringing the President to the center of the country for safety.

As our soldiers continue to fight overseas, it is our job as Peace Officers to protect our country’s border to border against foreign and domestic terrorists. Extremist groups are a constant threat and the uniformed officer, sometimes referred to as “The Thin Blue Line”, are without a doubt this country’s greatest assets when preventing, disrupting and deterring future acts of violence and terrorism.

 

Few people know that terrorism is funded in part by the sale of drugs. The exploitation of the United States and its unfortunate appetite for elicit and illegal drugs is problematic when we spend billions of dollars on heroin that has been imported from overseas. I mention heroin first because of the horrible impact it has on our people, but I do not disregard the impact of the other drugs that are imported as well. As you start to see the larger picture of what is happening, you will understand that the facts of our purchasing these illicit drugs is devastating. That same money used from the sale of drugs will then go back into the pockets of terrorist organizations, allowing them to continue to fund their attacks on the United States and the rest of the world.

As with anybody that watched the unfortunate events unfold on September 11th, that day will never be forgotten. The loss of life, the bravery of the firefighters, the police and other EMS personnel, their memories will not be forgotten. It has been my experience that no matter how bad the tragedy, there is always something to be gained from it. In this case, understanding what funds terrorism and that the profit has cost the world thousands of lives lost unnecessarily, has fueled my motivation and the motivation of many others. The world’s worst criminals are the most vulnerable while they are in transit. By intercepting them we are able to make the biggest impact where we can.

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Ken and his significant other, Malissa Driver. She’s a flight nurse and they are a family committed to public service.

There are many other stories like mine and my arrest of the terrorist suspect (see newspaper article below) that never see the light of day for security reasons, but rest assured uniformed and plain clothed officers are out every day doing their best to ensure that these major criminals do not travel freely to commit acts of violence throughout the country. I also take great pride in educating police officers from every type of policing agency across the country in criminal and terrorist apprehension training. I have instructed for more than 10 years in the state of Iowa, educating our officers and working for a private program called Desert Snow. I have traveled to almost all 50 states and shared what I have learned with thousands. I also take great pride in hearing about the success stories from the officers following the training.

A newspaper article about a terrorist suspect Ken arrested

A newspaper article about a terrorist suspect Ken arrested

In 2011 in Glendale, Arizona I was given the distinct honor as being chosen as the United States 2010 and 2011 Bob Thompson Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year by the United States Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Drug Interdiction Assistance Program, the El Paso Intelligence Center, and the former recipients of this prestigious award.  I have very humbly received many awards in my career, but all of them ill in comparison to sharing and continuing to share what I have learned to educate new officers in the same principles for understanding and recognizing when criminal activity is afoot. That impact, no matter how significant, will change the course of someone’s life in a positive way.

Most importantly, I hope people understand that the Peace Officers of this country cannot do the job without the support of its citizens. As I travel and teach officers across the country, the sentiment from those officers and their communities that they serve is the same. The officers are being overwhelmed with gratitude from the good citizens of this country who didn’t understand that this is not just a Peace Officers fight, but this is a fight that includes everyone in our nation. We who serve without a doubt need the support of our communities and the willingness of those people to share information with us when they see things that are not right. I believe it is this cooperation that will continue to keep our country and its people safe. And those that continue to help law enforcement have my unwavering gratitude and appreciation for their continued help and their dedication to the protection of our communities. For those that have gone out of their way, and for everyone that has taken the time and thanked a Peace Officer, fire fighter, or EMS personnel, I thank you!!!! You, are the people that I am talking about.

BTC: What do you feel is the most rewarding about your job as a state trooper?

KEN: The most rewarding part of my job is tough. It has many facets that stretch out in many directions. Being a first responder and saving lives is huge. So is protecting the innocent from crime and the relentless pursuit of major criminals on our nation’s roads. Few people consider the fact that all crime is, at some point, in transit: the people perpetrating the crime, the proceeds of the crime, the tools to facilitate the crime, or evidence of a crime committed.

BTC: What skill sets learned from your job and training have helped you the most as a hunter?

KEN: So you might ask yourself, “What does this have to do with me hunting, and how do I apply what I’ve learned from such a tumultuous career?” It’s simple. It’s the desire to pursue something, in this case a whitetail deer, and becoming a student of the sport. Many people will refer to me as an expert in my field, both as a Peace Officer and as a hunter. Although it is very humbling, I see myself as a student who is always looking for new ways, a better understanding, and never taking for granted the information that is shared.

One instance I’ll share with you happened last year while hunting. As I was sitting in the blind and watching a buck chasing a doe in and out of cover, I watched intently as I always do and enjoyed watching the doe try to elude the buck. Soon as the buck lost sight of the doe and he could no longer see her he employed a tactic that was not only smart, but something that I had never seen happen before, or at least understood its purpose. The whitetail buck started to stomp his foot and blow in the same alarming mode as if he was to have spotted or smelled some type of danger. I immediately suspected that he had caught our wind and could possibly smell us. So I checked the wind direction only to be reassured that it was correct and the chances of that buck smelling us was nonexistent. That buck taught me that he would employ the same tactic that he would use to alarm deer of danger to get the doe to run from heavy cover where she was hiding so he could continue to pursue her. This was the first time I had ever seen this activity and understood what was happening.

At the end of the evening I immediately called Don Kisky to talk to him about what I had seen and ask him what his opinion was and what he thought about the encounter. After a short discussion, Don had told me that he had just seen the same behavior this year. He had never seen it before but had the same concern I did, that the deer actually had smelled or seen something that made the deer alarmed. We both enjoyed a good laugh as I stated to Don, “I might have taught Don Kisky something”. And knowing Don Kisky, that’s next to impossible when it comes to hunting whitetail deer. Really we just shared an observation that we both learned from.

So how does my career pertain to whitetail deer hunting you might ask? Simple. It’s the same perseverance, it’s the same willingness to learn and continue to learn, and a never quit attitude that keeps me going.  It’s also tradition, a strong sense of brotherhood, and it’s something I love to share with my children. My children understand the “circle of life” and the life lessons that we have had the privilege to enjoy together. They understand that hunting isn’t a right, it’s a privilege, one that we enjoy along with many other privileges. All of those privileges came at a very high cost and I feel very humbled and privileged to be able to share with many two of my greatest passions. To quote Lee Greenwood, “And I won’t forget the men who died that gave that right to me”.

One of Ken's 2015 bucks

One of Ken’s 2015 bucks

 

Trooper Kenneth W. Haas #345 Iowa State Patrol 

Ken Haas is a native of Omaha Nebraska and lifelong resident of the region. Upon graduating from Millard South High School in 1990 Ken joined the Army National Guard, honorably serving for six years.  

Ken received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1996. While working on his B.S. degree, Ken worked as an Intern for both the Nebraska State Patrol and Lincoln Police Department, affirming his desire for a career in law enforcement. 

Ken joined the Iowa State Patrol in 1996 and is a 19 year veteran as a State Trooper. Ken served as the Iowa State Patrol Intelligence Officer in 2012, receiving a secret security clearance and was instrumental in implementing the department’s Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) initiative. Ken is the lead Criminal Interdiction Instructor at the Iowa DPS Academy, a Drug Interdiction Assistance Program/El Paso Intelligence Center (DIAP/EPIC) certified Instructor, an Associate Instructor for Desert Snow and instructs the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) Law Enforcement Intelligence Network (LIEN) School. 

Ken has served in many capacities during his career with the State Patrol including Canine Handler, SWAT team member, Sniper, Hazardous Materials Technician, and Field Training Officer. His dedication to professional development includes more than 600 hours of continued education in interdiction and hundreds of hours in a variety of topics including but not limited to defense tactics, firearms and emergency medical services. 

During his career as a Trooper, Ken has been responsible for more than 350 major drug and currency seizures, and involved in more than 600. These seizures include, but are not limited to, more than 23,500 pounds of Marijuana, 10 pounds of heroin, 1,200 pounds of cocaine, 200 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, 150 pounds of Crystal Methamphetamine and $13M United States currency.  

As a direct result of criminal interdiction enforcement Ken has been involved in murder investigations, bank robberies, fraud, theft, weapons, terrorism and a lethal force situation,. Fifteen of the seizures resulted in a controlled delivery of the contraband to further the investigation.  These controlled deliveries have resulted in the forfeitures of more than 78 vehicles (53+ were outfitted with after-market compartments designed for concealing and transporting contraband).  

Ken is a certified Level III inspector of commercial motor vehicles. His experience with contraband seizures in commercial motor vehicles includes commercial rental trucks, refrigerated trailers with manufactured compartments, dry van trailers with manufactured compartments, car carriers, fifth wheel motor home transporters, Motor coaches, and seizures of contraband co-mingled within legitimate loads. Ken also has many personal use arrests in commercial motor vehicles and one “cloned” AT&T service vehicle.  

Ken has traveled to 43 states to train FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, TSA, state and local officers, task force officers and attorneys in criminal and terrorist interdiction. He also travels internationally to provide training for the US Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and trains stateside for the US Department of Transportation Drug Interdiction Assistance program.  

With extensive courtroom testimony experience in both State and Federal courts throughout Iowa and the United States, Ken is considered an expert witness in highway criminal interdiction.  

Ken is a proud father of three wonderful children and has served as a State Trooper for 20 years.  He is a Taijutsu Blue Belt and when he is not patrolling or instructing Ken is an avid whitetail hunter.  He is currently in his 8th year with the television series “Realtree Whitetail Freaks” on the Outdoor Channel.

 

Ken’s opinions expressed in this blog entry are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

 

 

A C H I E V E M E N T S   A N D  A W A R D S

 

2014                 Certificate of appreciation from the Department of Defense and the ICITAP program for providing Criminal Interdiction and Terrorist Training to the Kosovo Police in Pristina Kosovo.

 

2011                  Award from The El Paso Intelligence Center in conjunction with the Drug

Enforcement Administration for “The Largest U.S. Criminal Highway Interdiction Of Currency Seized in 2011.” The seizure of 2,569,955.00 in U.S. Currency.

 

2011                  The Bob Thomason Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year

United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Administration/ Drug Interdiction Assistance Program (DIAP)

Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year, nominated  by the former recipients’ of this distinguished award.

 

2011                  Recipient of the 2011 Officer of the year award “Respect For Law 2011”

Optimist Club of Council Bluffs Iowa.

 

2010                 Nominated for the United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Administration/ Drug Interdiction Assistance Program (DIAP)

Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year by the former recipients’ of this distinguished award

 

2010                  Recognized by United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Administration/ DIAP for continued and sustained contributions to highway criminal interdiction.

 

2009                  Recipient of the United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier

Administration/ DIAP “Outstanding Achievement Award”

 

2008                  Golden Dome Award, Iowa State Patrol Interdiction Unit

 

2007                  Colonel’s Commendation for Interdiction

 

2006                  Nominated for Governors Golden Dome Award

 

2005                  Golden Dome Award

 

2004                  United States Attorney’s Office Enrique Camarena Certificate of appreciation

 

2004                  Colonel’s Commendation for apprehension of terrorist subjects.

 

2003                  Nominated Department of Public Safety Employee of the Year Award.

 

2003                  Nominated Governors Golden Dome Award

 

2003                  United States Attorneys Award for excellence in Criminal Interdiction

 

2003                  Drug Enforcement Agency Commendation for Drug Interdiction

 

2002                  Colonels Commendation for criminal interdiction efforts, seizing more than $28.5M in  narcotics and $3.2M in US currency

 

2000                   Jimmy Wilson Jr. Foundation Award, for Officer involved shooting.

 

2000                    Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner’s Commendation Award

 

2000                    Award for Excellence in Criminal Interdiction, Governor of Iowa

 

1998           F.B.I. Accommodation for excellence, for the Apprehension of a bank robber

 

 

 

Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year

September 8th, 2016 by BTC Editor

 

By Ryan Aulenbacher, winner of Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year

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I was lucky enough to chase and harvest Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year after chasing him for the last 2 seasons. He was a 191.5” 19 point non typical that I nicknamed Mr. Photogenic due to the number of game camera pictures I had of him over that time.  In two seasons I never once laid eyes on him till the day I shot him last November.  I was able to track, stalk, and pattern Mr. Photogenic through the lens of my Browning Game Camera.

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While I was hunting Mr. Photogenic I think there were 3 things that really made the difference in getting an opportunity to pull back.

  • Practice
  • Scent Control
  • Last but not least, a great game camera

Practice: I shoot

on average 2-3 arrows a day during the season.  Yeah shooting 20-30 at one time is good but you aren’t getting a second chance at a record book buck.  The first arrow is the only one that matters.  That’s why I only shoot a couple every day.  Sometimes I only shoot one if I like the shot.  But like I said I do it almost every day.

Scent control: I go through so many spray bottles as well as bottles of clothes wash it’s a wonder I don’t have to buy new camo every few months from getting worn out in my washer.  I don’t only pay attention to scent when I’m hunting; it’s an integral part of my game camera set-ups year round.  I typically only check my cameras and put them out during or right before a rain storm.  Then I spray them with scent eliminating spray just to be sure.  When I was chasing Mr. Photogenic I couldn’t let him know when I was coming and going and where

I was setting up.  If I would have been sloppy he would have relocated in a heartbeat.

Last and most important to all hunters I believe is a good game camera.  Like most of you I started out with a camera with a bright white flash and film you needed to develop at the local grocery.  Eventually I upgraded to some red glow which were much less noticeable than old school flash in my opinion.  On my red glow cameras the deer were almost always looking directly at the camera.  Newsflash brother, if that deer is looking at the camera you just spooked him.  How many times will you spook him before he changes his behavior?  One time? Two times? 5 times?  I don’t think deer like to be alerted in the middle of the night by a random light and the clicking noise of the red lens flipping back and forth.   That’s why I decided to upgrade to Browning’s Dark Ops game camera.  I didn’t want to lose an opportunity at a world class animal because of my camera.  The camera is supposed to help you, not hurt you.

I almost couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made when I upgraded to my Invisible Black Flash Browning Dark Ops game camera.  On the pictures you see here you’ll notice how there is not a single picture of Mr. Photogenic looking at the camera.  I was able to keep my DarkOps camera in the same tree from July through hunting season taking multiple pictures of him and he never changed his route.

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I typically don’t like to hunt in the same stand very often when bow hunting but with the game camera pictures I was getting every few days he wouldn’t let me leave.  I had myself, my stand, my trail, and my game camera basically right in his path for 5 months and he never got pushed to a different area.  I literally was hunting the same stand 3-4 days a week.  Every time I would check the camera there were more pictures of him in the area.  I had to stay in that area if I wanted an opportunity.  That’s why I was crazy with my scent control.

I ended up shooting Mr. Photogenic 5 yards away from my Browning Dark Ops Game camera on that same trail.

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That’s exactly why I used “The Best There Is” when hunting the Deer of the Year.

 

DIY Trail Camera Stand

September 1st, 2016 by BTC Editor

No tree around to hang your Browning Trail Camera? No problem! Pro-Staffer Kinsey Edmunds gives step-by-step instructions on how to make a homemade game camera stand that can be placed anywhere!

 

Kinsey Edmunds is a pro-staffer from Missouri. Being raised on a farm and surrounded by wildlife, her love for the outdoors began at a young age. Kinsey enjoys bowhunting whitetails, turkeys, hogs and gators, just to name a few. She is also a team member of Huntress View, a team dedicated to strengthening the ever-growing community of women hunters.

Estimating Whitetail Deer Score

August 28th, 2016 by BTC Editor

With the right camera and settings, photos captured can help immensely to accurately gauge a buck’s net score well before it hits the ground.

Hunting stores like Cabela’s have a wide range of trail cameras and filtering through pictures is quickly becoming a favorite past time of hunters.  Like Christmas morning, each memory card filled with thousands of pictures is waiting to be opened and scanned. Every hunter will have a different level of “acceptable” target deer to hunt. For rookie hunters, anything that moves will usually suffice. Bow hunters might be interested in the Pope and Young minimum qualifying score as a target buck for the season. For others, it may be that elusive net score of 150 inches(“).  And for the seasoned trophy hunters it’s likely to be upwards of 170” (the Boone and Crockett all time net typical minimum).  Either way, it depends on what hunting stage the individual is in, where their hunting territory is and perhaps how much time they can afford to dedicate towards hunting season.  No matter who you are, where you hunt or what your goals are, Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young conversation clubs established a consistent method of measuring deer antlers many years ago.

Previous to the 1990’s, trail cameras were non-existent.  Now a days, it is hard to find a hunter without one.  Trail cameras scout 24 hours a day, 7 days a week providing great information regarding:

  • herd population
  • herd age classes
  • frequency of movement
  • buck to doe ratio
  • target bucks
    • largest antlers
    • worst genetics

Scoring a deer is the act of adding up all the qualifying inches the buck has.  Scoring a live buck is difficult at best as they usually do not stand motionless for long or in the right position to properly gauge their score.  This is where trail cameras can really help out, especially models with burst mode that take many pictures in rapid succession.  A whitetail deer’s net typical score is composed of 5 components from the antler rack they possess:

  1. Length
  2. Height
  3. Thickness (mass)
  4. Spread
  5. Length of abnormal points

Length is measured as the total distance from where the antler start on the head to the tip, referred to as the main beam.  If the length of the right main beam is shorter than the left, or vice versa, estimate the shortest.  Antler symmetry is a factor, so an official score sheet will add the actual length of both sides and subtract the difference.  Therefore, starting with the shorter main beam eliminates the step of adding and subtracting the inches that are not present on both main beams.  To get a good estimate of length you need a picture of the buck from the front (looking at the camera) or top (facing the camera head on, but sniffing the ground).  This orientation clearly outlines the main beam, how far it goes out towards/past the ears and will also help identify the shorter one (if any).  A helpful second picture is a side profile of the deer’s head on alert (head up).  This gives great indication of how far past the nose the main beam goes.  The distance from the eyes to the tip of the nose on a mature buck in Alberta is 7”.  Visit some mounted deer from your local hunting area and take measurements of this same distance and use it as a reference point.  At the end you should have one number – the length of the shortest main beam.

Using the outer distance between the eyes atop the skull as a gauge (6”), I estimated each main beam to extend outwardly 7.5” and then turn back inward 6.5”. Photo also give a clear view of the spread estimated at 19” (6.5 + 6 + 6.5) using the same gauge. Excellent photo to show the difference in the first tine set (G1’s) and to confirm this buck is a 4x4. I estimated the shortest G1 tine at 4”, again with the same gauge.

Using the outer distance between the eyes atop the skull as a gauge (6”), I estimated each main beam to extend outwardly 7.5” and then turn back inward 6.5”. Photo also give a clear view of the spread estimated at 19” (6.5 + 6 + 6.5) using the same gauge. Excellent photo to show the difference in the first tine set (G1’s) and to confirm this buck is a 4×4. I estimated the shortest G1 tine at 4”, again with the same gauge.

 

Using the distance from the eye to the snout tip as a gauge (7”), I estimated the middle part of the main beam to be 8”. I also used this picture (and same gauge) to estimate the second tine (G2) at 9”and the third tine (G3) at 7”. Estimated total tine height is 20.5” (9” + 7.5” + 4”). The main beams look very symmetrical but I estimated the right one at 22” (7.5” + 6.5” + 8”).

Using the distance from the eye to the snout tip as a gauge (7”), I estimated the middle part of the main beam to be 8”. I also used this picture (and same gauge) to estimate the second tine (G2) at 9”and the third tine (G3) at 7”. Estimated total tine height is 20.5” (9” + 7.5” + 4”). The main beams look very symmetrical but I estimated the right one at 22” (7.5” + 6.5” + 8”).

Net typical height is the total length of all tines (points) that come off the main beam, minus any differences between the sets.  To begin, choose the first tine (starting from the head) sprouting from each main beam and estimate the length of the shortest one.  Then use the same process on the next set of tines, until you are done. If one main beam has more tines than the other, ignore the extra tines.  Only measure the typical tines, meaning where you’d expect the buck to have a tine coming off the main beam. You will need as many pictures as possible with the buck looking in all directions with his head held high.  Use a reference like the distance from the eye to the tip of the nose to gauge the length of each tine.   In the end you should have one number created by adding the estimated length of the shortest tine in each set.   For example, if it was a 5×4 typical buck, you would have:  (Shortest G1(brow) tine) + (Shortest G2 tine) + (Shortest G3 tine) + 0.  Note: The tip of each main beam is not a tine and was already accounted for when estimating the main beam length.  Official scoresheets have an excellent visual representation of the tines and their common names (G#).

 

Photo gives a good indication of how many tines are on the antlers. In this case, an even three per side.

Photo gives a good indication of how many tines are on the antlers. In this case, an even three per side.

Mass (or thickness) of each antler is measured before each tine sprouts until you reach four measurements.  Add those four number together for total mass.  Again, use the antler that looks to be the smallest.  More often than not I don’t bother with estimating this measurement and just use 18” on mature deer as a baseline.  If the deer antlers look really thick, I will add up to 3” and vice versa for skinny antlers.  Be cautious of bucks that move during photo capture causing them to appear ‘heavier’ (more mass) than they actually are.  Browning trail cameras shoot the fastest shutter speed (even at night), minimizing motion blur and provided crisp photos to estimate mass.  I have used both the snout and eye socket as a reference to diameter of the main beam because they both measure around 1.5 – 2”, but like I said, I usually just go with 18” as a conservative estimate.

Unabstracted view of main beam thickness against grass, however this deer is in velvet (which counts). Compare it to the eyeball and snout.

Unabstracted view of main beam thickness against grass, however this deer is in velvet (which counts). Compare it to the eyeball and snout.

 

Excellent photo to show symmetry because tine sets. This deer appears to have the same tine length on both the right and left antler.

Excellent photo to show symmetry because tine sets. This deer appears to have the same tine length on both the right and left antler.

Spread is the width between the left and right antler.  Spread is measured by finding the longest distance between the inside of the right and left main beam.  Unlike length, mass and height, spread is only counted once, not twice (for each antler side), therefore it contributes the least towards final score.  A really wide 4×4 buck will be most impressive at first glance, but a narrower 5×5 buck should have a better score because it’s far easier to have 8 additional inches by having a forth 4” tine on each side as opposed to 8” between the right and left antler.  A picture showing the ears and the buck looking at the camera is great to estimate spread.  I have also used the skull as a good gauge to estimate spread.

Once you have estimated length, height, mass and spread, the final number required is the total length of all abnormal points.  Any picture you have will help find these hidden deductions.  Estimate the length of each one and tally them up to one number for both the right and left antler.  If you have more than 15” of abnormal points, it qualifies for non-typical scoring instead of typical scoring.

For your final estimated net score do the following:

  • Length + Height + Mass
  • Double it
  • Add Spread
  • Subtract length of abnormal points (if less than 15 otherwise add)

 

The burst mode on this Browning trail camera took 8 pictures of this buck in rapid succession, providing various camera angles to accurately estimate the buck net typical score at 140”.  ([22(length) + 20.5(height) + 18(mass)] x 2 + 19(spread) – 0(non-typical deductions)).  I never did shoot this buck, so I’ll never know fore sure though.

An official score sheet is much more precise when it comes to deductions but since estimating the shorter and smaller side of the antlers eliminates those differences (from non-symmetry) immediately.

Remember, score is just a number, it does not consider effort, method of hunting, determination or atmosphere which all contribute to making a deer hunt memorable.  Trail cameras are an excellent tool for estimating buck scores before a hunter decides to target that particular deer.  I know I still enjoy “if it’s brown it’s down” hunts but I have enjoyed holding out for specific bucks captured on trail cameras that I know will qualify for Pope and Young records book based on the estimating process described above.

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By Gord Nuttall

Gord Nuttall is an enthusiastic outdoorsmen and award-winning freelance writer that spends countless hours sorting through Browning trail camera pictures of western big game animals to pursue.  Follow all his adventures at www.facebook.com/prostaffgordn

Kristy Lee Cook Q & A – Part 1

August 21st, 2016 by BTC Editor

 

 

 

Kristy Lee Cook is most known for being a top 10 Finalist on Season 7 of “American Idol”. She has since stayed in the spotlight and is currently co-hosting “The Most Wanted List” on the Sportsman Channel, along with her 2 friends Jess and Jessi Jo. We recently sat down with Kristy to find out more about her and her love for singing, hunting and all things Browning.

BTC: You are co-host for “The Most Wanted List” on the Sportsman Channel, along with your friends Jessi Jo and Jess. Tell us a little about the concept of this show.

KLC: The show is basically about just having adventures and bringing along friends and family. It’s really fun because we get to bring out a lot of different people on the show. I brought my brother on and we bring celebrities on. It’s just really about showing what it is to share adventures and doing everything you’ve wanted to do in life. A lot of people say there’s things they want to do, and then never do them. We actually go and do them. A lot of people just say it, and they never get the chance to do and see things, so the whole point of the show is to go on these adventures, everything we’ve wanted to do in life, like hunts and anything else we can think of and we go and do it.

MWL_Group_Promo_003

 

BTC: You’re all 3 barrel racers and you (KLC) travel all over the country for that as well to compete in competitions?

KLC: Yes, I do. I’m actually in Texas right now for a competition and I was in Utah and California before that.

 

BTC: Which do you find to be more of a rush: barrel racing, singing in front of a big crowd, or shooting a big buck?

KLC: Oh boy! Well, I don’t get buck fever. I would say the most nerve-racking thing for me is singing the National Anthem. It’s such a hard song to sing and if you mess it up you’re known for life for messing it up. So that’s probably the most nerve-racking thing for me. I do get nervous

 

BTC: I’m sure you’ve had the opportunity to hunt with some well-known people. What is one person that you would like to hunt with one day that you haven’t yet & why?

KLC: I would really like to hunt with my sister again. That would be a lot of fun. I took her on her very first hunt and that’s the only hunt she’s ever been on so I’d like to take her again one day. I’m actually going to have one of my other best friends on the show. I kind of just want to bring on my friends and family and help people go on hunts and adventures that they’ve always wanted to do.

 

BTC: You had a Camaro completely wrapped in camo with the Browning Buck Mark on the hood, so it’s safe to say you’re in love with the Browning brand. How did your love for Browning start?

KLC: Well I’ve just always loved Browning. I came up to them one day and said I would love to put your logo on my car. It’s good advertising and I’m a Browning girl and I want to camouflage my car. So I talked to them about it and they said it would be great if I wanted to do that. I’ve always wanted a camouflage Camaro so I did it! It was just cool.

Kristy-Lee-Cook-Camaro

 

BTC: Was yours was the only one out there like that?

KLC: It was the only one in the world. I did see a few cars get done like that after I did mine, but it was pretty neat having the only car in the world like that. You’d find either people liked it, or didn’t like it. For the people that didn’t like it I was like, “Well, I have the ONLY one in the world like this”. I liked it!

 

BTC: Any good stories about that Camaro? Drag racing? Tickets? Burnouts?

KLC: Actually yes! I’m so used to driving trucks so when I had my Camaro, I was in Nashville and I was going 80 down the freeway in a 65 zone. I didn’t feel like I was going 83 at all because it just drove so fast and smooth. I got a ticket for that for sure.

I couldn’t take it anywhere without people wanting to take a picture of it. I would be in the gas station in my PJ’s and people would still want to stop and take a picture with me and my car.

I also have a little bit of road rage, so everybody knew it was me who was cutting them off!

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Q & A with Kristy Lee Cook, to be posted at Huntress View