...is something I feel strongly about, and I think we should all do something for them. I was never in the military service, and I kind of regret that, so I try to help out now and then. Tonight, courtesy of the Grouchy Old Cripple I learned about a fundraiser that Soldier's Angels is holding. I already knew about Soldier's Angels because I am sort of an email pen pal to a soldier in Afghanistan, and I signed up for that through Soldier's Angels. (Hmm, just remembered I have not written to my assigned soldier pen pal in too long). They seem like a worthy organization, worthy of trust, so I think I will make a donation to their fund raiser. Not only will I do that, but I will also encourage my readers to do likewise. As I understand the donations go to buying voice activated lap top computers for those of our military personnel who were wounded (in action I suppose). Go here to read about the project, call Project Valour - IT . Once there you can click on the Valour IT Donations link on the left side of the Valour IT page under Programs, and it will tell you how to donate via Paypal, or you can just click the fancy link on the upper right side of my blog to donate. The link on my page is part of an annual fund raising competition at Soldier's Angels where you can decide to donate to a team made up of Army, Marines. Airf Force, or Navy/Coast Guard. My father and step-father were both in the navy, and a good friend of mine was in the Coast Guard, so I picked that icon for my page. To see more info about the icons, go to this link, or look for the link to it on the left side of the Valour IT Donations Page under the programs links list.
Whichever team you choose to which to donate, and however much of a donation you make, I think it will be worth it for our troops. Bear in mind, as I understand, this so called competition for donations is for fun, that is the competion thing between branches of the military. All of the donations, regardless of to which team you donated, eventually go toward the same general Valour-IT fund to get those laptops for our injured military people regardless of in which branch they served.
...is within order, since I spent at least part of two other posts writing about how I would go on a pre-hunt scouting trip this weekend. I did finally manage to get away yesterday. In the wee hours of the morning (and I do mean the wee hours) I went out to the shed and garage and packed up what I would need for a good day in the woods, and was off. I left my house at about 0320 (3:20 AM). The skies had cleared after a few days of rain, the stars were shining brightly, and the chill at that hour of the morning was not all that bad (I guess global warming is making it nicer for us older folks. Yes I am only 52 but I figure that is within the last 1/3 of my life so it makes me older, anyway the aches and pains I get prequalify me to call myself old).
I had a nice ride on roads that were fairly empty. I have to drive through part of Long Island, into part of NYC, and then onto the highway toward upstate. Having any of those roads without a lot of traffic is a good thing, and having them almost empty of cars is even better. I got to the first spot I would scout at about 0645. I made good time for the 190 mile trip, what with the stops for tolls, and with a short stop for gas and a bite to eat. When I got there my first thought was "Wow still kind of dark". Actually it was beginning to get light, but really was still 'kind of dark'. Funny how the shorter days sort of creep up on me once we get into the Fall and hunting season approaches. I think actual sunrise was about 0720 yesterday, up around that way.
As it was I got geared up and out into the woods by about 0700. When I say geared up, I do mean it. When I hunt, or scout, or hike, I go out into the field with a small pack that hold everything I will need to survive if I get stuck there by an emergency, let's say I break a leg, or I get lost, or whatever. I had 3 litres of water in my new Camelback Ranger pack, and along with that a decent supply of essentials. Included in y pack were: two full MREs, 2 bags of peanuts, a few other small snacks, a small first aid kit (one that I made not the prepackaged type, a compass, a signal whistle, a flashlight, extra batteries for the flashlight, glow sticks, matches, a fire starter candle, a magnesium bar fire starter, a good sheath knife (had another on my belt), rope, waxed dental floss (makes a good snare), extra gloves, extra wool socks, extra undies (one never knows), a fleece sweater, medicinal papers arse wipes, head net (comes in handy in a survival situation as a fish net to catch minnows and keeps away bugs, but my main use is for camo while scouting or hunting), deer scent, deer scent pads, deer call, and a few other things. Not much room as I could barely close the pack, but I managed to get it closed without tearing the zippers. Add to all that what I carried or fastened to the back of the pack and it was a bit of added weight, albeit in a somewhat tidy package. On my person I carried a set of rattling antlers (they mimic the sounds of bucks fighting and are used to attract deer), a sheath knife, a bow and arrows (and yes I have an archery stamp on my license). In my pockets I had: a couple of folding knives, a bottle of deer scent, gloves, a snack or two, and whatever else I had. By the way, while I ate a couple of snacks while out in the woods for a few hours, I do not eat em all; they really are for survival if I need them. Add to that the clothes I was wearing: hiking boots, thermal undies top and bottom, regular clothes, all topped off by a camo set of rain gear. This is a great way to exercise, in walking a few miles yesterday I probably lost 4 pounds because of the extra weight I toted.
Even though I carried the extra gear, which meant that extra weight, I got to walk through the woods fairly silently yesterday. The ground was still nice and damp from the good soaking it had received over the past few days. That is a good thing when looking for animals with as keen a sense of hearing as have Whitetail Deer. Besides the dampness of the leaf litter, I know a bit about how to stalk, and if I put my mind to it I can sometimes get amazingly close to wild animals. I have walked up to within 25 to 30 feet of a black bear, within about 15 feet of a Bobcat, about 15 feet from a flock of turkeys, and to with 5 feet of Whitetail Deer. Don't get me wrong, I am nothing special when it comes to this, and the norm is they get spooked and take off long before I even see them, but I have done these things, once with a bear, once with a bobcat, a few times with deer (only once to within as close as 5 feet with other times as close as about 15-20 feet, although once I had a deer walk right up to me and sniff my face from only inches away, and that I can tell you was exhilarating), and with turkeys twice. I just paid attention to all that hooey that I read in Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and Sports Afield when I was a teenager. Some of it actually works. This weekend though it did not mater much what I seemed to do. I got skunked, no not as in getting sprayed but as in not seeing any game out in the woods except for a single Ruffed Grouse, and a few Gray Squirrels. I did get to see some deer sign, I found a couple of bedding areas that look to have been regularly used by deer. I also came across a few rubs, and more importantly across a few fresh scrapes. So I am hopeful I have located at least some trails that bucks are actively using. Hopefully at least one of them will still be around when the rifle season opens. Of course there are probably does using those trails too being it is now the early side of the rut; those bucks are not using those trails just to make scrapes, they are looking for mates and following doe trails by now. Either a buck or doe is fine by me for some good eating venison, but I am hopeful Brendan gets a decent buck for his first deer (yes I am being a bit confident that he will get a deer).
As it turned out, I had a nice walk around the woods and field edges, got some info on the whereabouts of the deer, and I had time to really enjoy the woods. I walked only a few miles at most in about 6 hours of walking because I walk slowly, very slowly with lots of stopping and waiting/looking, when I stalk or look for deer sign. While doing so you really get to appreciate all the sights, sounds and aromas that appease your senses if only you pay attention to them. I got to see a pretty good number of birds like chickadees, Crows, Blue Jays, and others I cannot name, and I also enjoyed the wide variety of mushrooms I saw (no eating them for me unless store bought, just too risky), and the leaves still left on the trees ranged from dull brown, to bright green, to vibrant yellow, to flaming red and orange. All in all it was a good day. Next weekend I intend to go to another spot, much closer to home, maybe only an hour and half to two hours away. That is the same spot we hunted last year, and there was plenty of deer sign there and I spotted about 5 of them when trying to drive some toward Brendan. of course, they went in the opposite direction, so no luck then. Instead of a bow though, I'll bring a rifle in .22LR, or a shotgun. The woods there are all hardwoods, mostly oaks, and there were lots of acorns last year. My guess is that squirrels and turkeys abound, and I'll be looking for the bushytails if I bring the 22, and for both if I bring the shotgun. A wild turkey sure would be nice for Thanksgiving.