Friday, September 10, 2010

Sporting Classics Presents: A Growling in the Rain

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, in association with Bernard and Associates, proudly presents Sporting Classics. Widely recognized as the premier outdoor magazine, with award-winning graphics and the country's top writers, Sporting Classics focuses on the best hunting and fishing throughout the world. Whether it is wingshooting grouse on the Scottish Highlands, stopping Cape Buffalo on the plains of Tanzania, or landing delicate Rainbow Trout on a 2 weight bamboo fly rod, Sporting Classics and its stable of renowned authors covers it with class and finesse.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles has been chosen as one of the few Outdoor Bloggers to share content from a well respected and well known magazine in the outdoor community!

Please enjoy the following advance publication. I would like to thank the Bernard and Associates team and Sporting Classics for choosing The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles  as a partner in their endeavours!

A Growling in the Rain
by Robert Reitnauer

Stalking a lion in a downpour
 is something only a crazy East African hunter would do.

It was a hot and dry September day in Tanzania, just south of the little village of Loiborserrit. We left our camp under the stand of tall fig trees and drove off in the hunting car with clients Clarence and Carol, bouncing over tracks someone had the audacity to call roads. We were looking for a good lion in a heavily hunted concession, which meant the big cats were well-educated and keeping to cover during the day.

About 40 miles from camp we happened upon some promising tracks and immediately set out to acquire some bait for our blinds. By late afternoon we’d collected an old buffalo bull, then cut up and tied the hind-quarters at two sites several miles apart. Close by the bait trees we built ground blinds that blended in perfectly into the surrounding brush.

“Cat’s in the bag,” I jokingly bragged on the torturous drive back in the utter blackness of an African night.

The next morning found me relaxing in my tent, listening to mourning doves and green pigeons and my staff preparing breakfast. The couple had bagged everything except a lion, and I was determined to leave the baits undisturbed for at least two days. Other than a few hours of bird-shooting, sitting around camp seemed like a good choice.

My tent man brought hot shaving water, poured it into the canvas washbasin and hinted that bwana should get his rearend in gear and shave. While shaving, I noticed a respectable bank of clouds – definitely rain clouds – but in Septemember? The clouds continued to build up throughout the day and by afternoon, the humidity was oppressive, the air warm and still.

In the wee hours of the following morning the heavens opened and rain cascaded down, accompanied by streaks of lightning that crisscrossed the sky. Water rushed everywhere and so did we, hammering in longer tent pegs to prevent our tents from collapsing. By noon the rain was falling steadily and the little waterhole next to camp had become a small lake.
The deluge didn’t stop until early the next morning, and by sunrise the dry bushveld was alive with the sounds of insects, birds and even the hysterical laughter of a hyena scouting out our camp.

This will be Clarence’s day, I thought, though we’ll probably have to put up with more rain.

After loading our guns and gear in the Land Cruiser, we headed to the closest bait, plowing through muddy, red water and with the tires slinging mud in all directions.

About five miles from the blind, my Number One bearer and I left the vehicle and walked to the bait site. Our approach was good, but the last few hundred yards were tricky because of sparse cover. Finally, we reached a big acacia bush where we stopped to glass the bait and surrounding area.

Suddenly Number One began nodding his head, like Kavirondo cranes during their mating rituals. I never could understand how he could see better than me, especially with my Zeiss binoculars. He had spotted something out of the ordinary, perhaps just a shadow, ghosting through the dense thornbrush. Number One was all for taking a closer look, to find long mane hairs, proof of a good lion, but something told me to back off, as simba might be close.

After checking the second bait, which had not been touched, we stopped to eat lunch and quench our thirst under the shade of a big tarp. The air was hot and muggy, and we could see another mountain of dark clouds coming toward us from Ol Doinya Lolbene near camp.

Despite the approaching storm, I thought our best bet was to hunt from the first blind – to give it a shot, rain or no rain, because our area permit would expire in a couple days and we had to leave. Number One thought bwana was off his rocker, but was willing to follow my intuition.

The rain was pouring down when he stopped the vehicle and once on the trail, we were quickly soaked to the skin. Clarence’s wide-brimmed hat lost its shape and it appeared he would need windshield wipers to keep the water off his tri-focals. At least the rain felt pleasantly warm.

We slipped and slid the last 200 yards to the blind, where the downpour blanked out everything but a faint outline of the bait tree. The thunder rumbled while raindrops drummed on the parched soil and splattered the leaves and branches; at least the noise would cover our approach.

Huge drops continued to bombard us as we hunkered down inside the blind, our boots covered in mud. I focused my binoculars on the bait and the area around it, but failed to see anything. I wondered: Can a person get any wetter than wet . . . or be more miserable and have such fun?

Late that afternoon, as the rain let up and our visibility improved, Number One and I really began to concentrate. I had to wipe my binos constantly though Clarence didn’t seem to notice; he was bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I don’t think his mind was on lion hunting.

And then I saw him, looking as ragged and wet as us, walking over to the bait tree to get out of the wind and rain.

Breathless minutes passed. How long would he stay there? Would he even come out to eat in the rain?

Dusk was approaching and if we waited, good shooting light would soon be gone. In my mind, our only chance was to leave the blind and stalk closer. Number One said it might work, but Clarence thought stalking a lion in the rain was something only a crazy East African hunter would do.

It was crazy, I admit, but soon all three of us were crawling over the wet grass and mud toward the big tree. It seemed like hours had passed before we were within 20 yards of the tree and the remains of the buffalo dangling from a heavy limb. I figured it was time to stand, abandon caution and see what in hell was going to happen. We were certainly well-armed for whatever came next; I had my .416, Number One carried a .416 and Clarence his .375. You need that kind of firepower in a situation like this.

Fifteen paces . . . ten . . . then I was so close to the tree I could have reached out touched it with my rifle barrel.

Sensing something wasn’t right, the lion popped his head out from behind the tree. Instantly, his big eyes blazed like coals and he issued a deep, rumbling growl. Then, like hot oil gushing from a drum, his huge, tawny body seemed to flow around the tree as he flung his huge paws right at my head. Three heavy-caliber bullets tore into his head, neck and chest, and old simba dropped heavily to the soggy ground, barely a step away from my feet.

Hours later, after a good meal and with some elixirs to warm our bodies, the rains finally stopped and the southern sky was once again studded with stars. We sat around the campfire, reliving our adventure and trying to make sense of the heavy rains that seemed so out of synch with the season. But my gunbearers had the answer: The heavens had to weep, because a simba died.

Editor’s Note: Born in Tanzania (East Africa) in 1933, Robert Reitnauer was formerly a fully licensed Professional Hunter and Safari Operator in southern Africa.


Next Week: Oxen of the Ice Cap!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Nebraska Hunting Company Scott Croner

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Largemouth Score: Dad 1, Blake 7

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

With only a couple of more days left to me on R&R, I am trying to take advantage of the break and get out there with BassMaster Blake. The kid has some kind of magic touch, because he just reels them in while I flail about helplessly, casting the same lure, at the same retrieve in the same spots and coming up empty handed!

First Largemouth Bass of the day!

Blake's #2 bass...

Number three in hand...

Fourth Largemouth...

Later that afternoon, #5 was brought in...

And shortly thereafter number six!

This four foot cottonmouth
was all I could catch up until that point...

And then this lunker slammed my crankbait!

Blake mercifully quit after #7;
this little but pretty largemouth!

What a great day! We had a blast chasing Largemouth Bass from lake to lake. All in all we covered about sixty miles from where we started to where we called it quits. As I have mentioned before, Florida is just dotted with lakes of all different sizes, and we just headed North stopping at every lake we could legally access.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Nebraska Hunting Company Scott Croner

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spoons: They're Not Just for Cereal!

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

"But do tell: A spoon in a bird's chest?
That is too damn weird - whatup with that?"

Couldn't resist it, honest!

After Holly's comment on the spoon in the pelican's chest, I promised to have a short discussion on the lures used for fishing that are called spoons.

My near-shore spoon selection:
Dressed nickel spoon, dressed nickel Krocodile, brass Krocodile, dressed nickle KastMaster, smaller dressed nickle KastMaster, hammer finished Hopkins spoon, brass Clark spoon w/swivel, and nickel Clark spoon.

To those folks that don't fish, it might seem a little strange when fishermen talk in their peculiar jargon. Plugs, streamers, midges, spinners, jigs, flies and spoons are all artificial lures used in the attempt to fool a fish into striking and getting itself impaled on a hook.

Who invented the spoon,
or the history of fishing spoons according to Albert.

My guess is that this all started sometime in the past when a Viking lopped the arm off of some other guy who was having breakfast on the deck off of his lodge. The spoon flew out of the now detached hand and fell into the water, whereupon the two were amazed when a fish sped by, and struck at the twisting, flashing spoon as it dropped into the depths.

That's why I think fishing spoons are probably among the oldest manufactured lure. When they saw that, they probably figured out that a shiny piece of metal might just get a hungry fish to strike. So they headed over to the smithy, fight and arm forgotten, and told the smith to hammer out a thin, oval shaped, concave dish of metal and attach a forged hook to it. Eureka, the spoon was born!

Spoons are generally either silver or brass in color, and normally come in either a polished, or hammered finish. Spoons wobble or dart depending on the retrieve, and the flashing and sparkling play of light off the body attract fish. There are painted and partially decorated spoons too, but I don't use them much, the nickel and brass ones pretty much working out well enough for me, thank you very much.

How do you rig a spoon?

Spoons do tend to twist and turn, usually in one direction. It's one of the things that makes spoons so attractive to fish. If you don't take the spinning or twisting action into account, you will end up with a spool of badly twisted line that will not retrieve properly, jump off the spool, and become weaker very quickly. Some spoons have a swivel built in to allow them to rotate without affecting the line. If your spoon is without a swivel, you will have to put one on the spoon, or better yet, rig one on the running line.

As I said, there are two ways to accomplish the task. The easiest way is to add a swivel right to the nose of the spoon. If the spoon does not have a split ring attached, you will have to add one. Go with a size larger than you think you need, it won't affect the action; quite the contrary, the larger size allows the spoon to flutter and drop much more convincingly without the drag of the line right at its nose. Next add the swivel to the split ring and call it done.

The way I prefer to do it is the following. I add a split ring to the nose of the spoon just as we did above. But this time add anywhere from twelve to twenty-four inches of leader to the split ring, and then tie the swivel to the leader. If you use Spiderwire, any of the braided lines, or one of those wacky colored lines, this is the only way to go. Fish can see those lines, especially in clear water and will veer off your lure when they catch sight of the line leading away from it! By the way, I only use the Uniknot for all my knots. That will be another post in the near future.

If you are using a light spoon, like the Clark spoons, you have to add a little weight to the rig in order to cast it, or get some depth to in the retrieve. Just add a torpedo sinker, or even an egg sinker above the swivel. Just a reminder, you do this with the second rigging method. I always add a small bead between the swivel and the sinker to protect the knot from any unnecessary abuse from the sinker.

If you are running into some Bluefish, Spanish Mackerels, or gator Seatrout, you may need to use a wire leader. The same rules apply.  With spoons costing anywhere from $2.99 to $6.99 for the small to medium sizes, it doesn't take many cut offs to make you use a wire leader! Length can be as short as 2" to as long as 12". Try to use the finest wire you can find, and hope for the best! If the bite is hot, it probably won't matter what length the leader is. If the fish are running shy, you may only be able to use a short leader.

Maintaining your fishing spoons.

Like everything else, your fishing gear needs a little maintenance in order to last a good long time. The first thing I do at the end of the fishing day is rinse everything off with fresh water. Rods, reels, and lures get a good washdown and dry before being put up.

Spoons though, get pretty beat up with time. They get dragged across the bottom, banged against rocks, swung into pilings; after a while, they lose their shine. The first thing to try is a good old Brillo pad. That will usually get your nickel colored spoons shiny again, or at least less dull than they were.  Brass lures get the same treatment, but then I finish them with Brasso for that extra shine. Wash them well with dish detergent when you're done, you don't want to leave any soap or polish residue on the lure.

If your lures are pretty bad off, or maybe you found one that is beat up bad, you can refurbish it with some elbow grease. Some fine wet/dry sandpaper and a buffing wheel on your grinder will bring a junker back to like new condition. And as I mentioned before, with the prices as high as they are getting, it doesn't take too many yard sale finds to make it worth your while.

I have a couple of old spoons that I need to refurbish and when I do, we will cover it here.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

QDM: Every Gut Pile Tells a Story

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
What can you learn 
from poking around guts?

I got to thinking about guts and viscera some time ago after a comment on NorCal's blog post, Pear Jack. I studied biology, and I am a bit of a student of Quality Deer Management. That led to the post on QDM in Florida, which now leads to this one! It's amazing how things work out.

We study terrain: what kind of trees, where the saddles and funnels lay, weather patterns, all sorts of things. And once we do have our hard earned game down, we admire the fur and antlers. An animal's viscera should be studied with the same scrutiny that you give to the antlers. Many things become apparent, not the least of which is a good understanding of a deer's anatomy.

So, what can you learn from poking around in a whitetail deer's gut pile?

Well, as it turns out, lots.

Deer are ruminants. That is to say the eat their forage, hold it in their stomachs, and regurgitate it at leisure to chew it up some more. Then they swallow that and burp up another partially digested mouthful and grind that down. So a whole lot of food goes down in mouthfuls, to be chewed up later. With that in mind you can see how the remains of what a deer has been eating will tell you a lot about where it's been.

Now that I've pointed that out it's a no brainer, but how many of you actually go through the trouble of actually cutting a deer stomach open and looking?

Next time you bag a deer, after you have gutted it and hung it, take a moment and separate the paunch (stomach) from the rest of the viscera. Take a sharp knife and slit it open. If you're a little squeamish, (Really?) put on some gloves. Then just reach right in there and pull out a handful or two of partially digested plant material for inspection. It might smell a little peculiar by the way...

Back in the day, we would bag the sample for analysis. You can do the same if you carry some ziplock bags with you. Just secure a couple of cups of stomach contents in a ziplock bag, rinse the outside of the bag off, and take it home or camp for inspection. It would be a really bad idea to forget it in a the car. Heat and fermentation will jointly conspire to ruin your life.

Get a small pail, and dump the contents of your new science experiment in. Best you do this outside; the Mrs will not appreciate your sudden interest in biology should she walk in and find you using her cutting board as an identification tray. Gently pour water into the gooey mess until the bits and pieces separate, sloshing it around occasionally with your hand. There will be particles of all sizes, and what you want to do is separate the larger pieces from the smaller.

You can use a piece of quarter inch screen as a colander, or carefully pour off the smaller, ground up bits and pieces.

Now it's time to carefully inspect the remains.

What are you finding? Are there chunks of acorns, or is it all greens? What kind of greens are there? Pine needles, tree leaves, shrub leaves or is it grass? Maybe it contains mushrooms or tubers and roots. Give it a through going over, and really try to identify what it the pieces are that you are going through.

Now it's time to correlate what you have found, with what you know, or think you know about the land you are hunting on.

If you've been on a stand, and the deer you take has a belly full of acorns, try to find out where these came from. You might have thought that no oaks were in your immediate area, but the deer's stomach contents tell you otherwise. If everything has been burned by the cold, and you find green material in your examination, you need to go and look for the spots that are still green. It could be a hardy plant stand, or near a thermal mass like a swamp, or sheltered but sun filled area. Look around and really take stock of what you have and is available to the deer.

If you keep records, (You do, don't you?) and you're writing this information down, you will see patterns develop that you can use to your advantage. As the seasons unfold, you will learn to anticipate what the deer are going to forage on next, and prepare accordingly.

Checking the stomach contents of your harvested game can be very illuminating, especially if you do it on a long term basis. Patterns will emerge and make you a better hunter by anticipating which seasonal food sources deer use.

One last thing; how about you all send me your photos of what you find. I'll post  them with comments. It should be very interesting

Related Posts:
Quality Deer Management in Florida

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert is actually a biologist. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com

Sunday, September 5, 2010

AirSoft: It's Not Just for Kids!

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Thinking about AirSoft?

I recently received a very nice email from John Durfee, Marketing Manager for John is a Gulf War veteran and also participates in outdoor and adventure activities. He kindly volunteered to write a post on AirSoft arms, equipment, and activities.

My only exposure to AirSoft has been at the SHOT Show, where I saw many full scale and very realistic AirSoft versions of firearms.I was very surprised by both the level of refinement, and the vast number of manufacturers of AirSoft and number of accessories available to the enthusiast. Since then I have learned that AirSoft originated with the Japanese as a way of collecting firearms. (AirSoft Info: History) There are several different types of AirSoft - spring, gas, and electric powered.

Clubs have formed around AirSoft, both users and collectors. The users tend to play the simulations and tactical scenarios, while collectors can vary from a little of everything, manufacturer specific, or even period firearm collections.

I would like to thank John for offering to write a Guest Post and I invite anyone with an interest in AirSoft to visit!

Survival Adventures

by John Durfee

You've been patiently watching them, they're full of energy but still young, they don't know what to look for. You're staying in the shade of the tree line, and they're out in the open field. It's time to see if they've learned what you taught them.

You crouch low and make your way to their rearward left flank. When you're 7 yards away you draw your Colt 1911 from its holster and get into position. SNAP, you stepped on a twig, rookie mistake. Your son swings around, dropping to a knee quickly, much faster than you thought he could, his M4 aimed right at your center of mass, it takes you by surprise. CRACK CRACK, two shots hit you right in the chest. There's a sting but you're grinning with pride. That was a really good shot kiddo!

What I've just described was the sport of airsoft, and while fun, can be great for teaching kids and families the importance of firearm safety and shooting skills.

What It's About

Airsoft is different from air rifles and pellet guns in that they use standardized 6mm plastic bb's that weigh far less than metal pellets or sabots, and are perfectly safe in a controlled play environment.

Airsoft is preferable to paintball to train with because the equipment requirements and initial cost are much lower. For airsoft electric guns (AEGs), only bb's, a battery, and a charger are needed. With gas powered airsoft, you'll need bb's and green gas (the pressurized gas needed to run the guns) Also, Airsoft is cleaner because you avoid having to wash your clothes after a day of play.

There are an increasing number of airsoft clubs and organizations popping up around the country. Most can be attended for a flat fee. They're busiest on the weekends, when the kids and parents are off from school and work. Usually centered around military scenarios, the core skills practiced are valuable to real world preparedness. There are varying degrees of immersion, ranging from "play and go back to the car for a snack" to full milsim (Military Simulation), where one acts, functions, and performs like a real military force for the entire duration. The former are great for family outings, as you can walk out between games at your leisure. Airsoft also teaches proper weapon usage, maintenance, and safety precautions. Most airsoft guns in the mid-range price look, feel, and function as close to the real steel guns as possible. Some airsoft pistols even disassemble the same way as the real thing! It's an unsurpassed way to become familiarized with firearms and learn how to use them properly in a safe and relatively controlled environment.

Valuable Lessons

Airsoft is safe, but it does require a certain level of responsibility and honesty. People need to call out when they are hit. This is a great structured way to teach kids fair play, gun safety, and sportsmanship. Family ties are strengthened because each member relies on one another to work as a team. With all the running around it provides a great workout for everyone: dad and mom get in their cardio and the kids and burn off their energy. And sibling rivalry can play itself out in new and interesting ways.

For parents it provides an opportunity to train in real self-defense type scenarios. In the event you ever need to use these skills, you'll have practiced it before, which helps to make these skills more ingrained.

For children it's a great segue into teaching them about real firearms and gun safety. You can ingrain muzzle safety, trigger control, and aiming techniques. Many airsoft guns have the same safety mechanisms and levers as their real counterparts, so you can teach your kids where they are and how to use them. You can impart the sense of safety and care needed to handle firearms with the peace of mind they're doing in with a completely safe device

The most important thing these events teach is mindset. You have to work in a team, placing your trust in each other. You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings, as your family trusts you to be a set of eyes and ears. You learn to distinguish between friend and foe. You'll hone your aiming and marksmanship skills on real targets who will react and move. You'll train yourself how to respond - rather than react to surprises and potential threats. You'll be instilling in your children quick decision making skills, gun safety, and a fair amount of athleticism. And if you're "killed" you can learn from your mistakes, and do better next time.

To be honest airsoft bb's can have a bit of a sting to them. But throwing on a heavy sweater or light jacket will make sure you feel them, but it will be more of a poke than a pinch. And remember the cardinal rule, ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION, while they may not have weight, bb's fly very fast and you need to protect your eyes and those of your family. One last note, you'll want to bring lots of water and hydration. Your family will be running and sweating a lot more than you think!

Where To Play

Most airsoft fields (indoor and outdoor) have an open entry policy, you can play for a few hours, and go home. Many paintball fields are now becoming dual use fields, for both airsoft and paintball so you might want to call any local places to confirm.

Try googling the term 'airsoft' and your state, you'll find forums where people get together and arrange outings. Airsplat has a comprehensive listing of US airsoft fields. So get out there with your kids and have a safe and fun time!

(PS Always check with your local law enforcement about regulations, wear proper eye protection and NEVER try to modify the orange tips on your airsoft gun.)

John Durfee is a Gulf War veteran and the marketing manager for Airsplat, the nation's largest retailer of Airsoft Guns  and Airsoft Apparel.

** * **

Again, allow me to thank John Durfee of AirSplat.Com for writing an informative and interesting post on AirSoft equipment and activities. Should you have an interest in the sport of AirSoft, please contact John, or visit the AirSplat website.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles