Monday, May 19, 2008

With spring green up nearly complete, the food plots planted and summer only weeks away it would seem as though it would be a slow time for us in the deer woods. However, now is one of the most important time periods for the serious hunter. Soon does will be giving birth to their fawns and bucks are rapidly (centimeters per day) growing their antlers, thus our supplemental feeding program is now in full swing.

The past couple of years we have relied heavily on the Whitetail Institute’s 30-06 Plus Protein mineral supplementation. This year we’ve not only added a third mineral station but have begin using Antler King. Antler King Protein pellets and mineral supplements provide variety for the deer herd while supplying the necessary minerals they need in order to nourish their fawns or develop their antlers. For does in particular, supplements create for increased lactation which leads to increased survival rates amongst fawns. Does without proper nourishment lose fetuses and fawns at a rate of anywhere from 70-90%. Combining this with the possibility of predation following birth creates a situation in which fawn survival is very difficult. Eliminating fawn death through malnutrition creates an increased number of healthy fawns who are ready to not merely struggle to survive, but thrive upon entering the world.

Like with the freshly planted apple trees, eliminating human presence in the areas of mineral supplementation is key as it allows for a calm environment where the deer do not feel pressured. We try to get in, provide the minerals and leave without making too much noise. Right now this may not seem as though it is that big of a deal, however, during hunting season it will really begin to pay off. In hunting heavily pressured areas one of the most important things is to apply as little extra pressure as possible. Being smart in the woods now only leads to an increased chance of success come hunting season.

On a side not, while our last post was centered around our recent singing with Mossy Oak, Cody and I were both honored and privileged to meet the face of Realtree himself Michael Waddell a couple of weeks ago. On the way to a wedding in Martinsville (congrats Sallie!) we stopped at the grand opening of Gander Mountain in Roanoke. We had planned on stopping and just checking the place out and while we know Mr. Waddell would be there, we figured the chance of getting to see him was slim to none. Well, we were very lucky to pull in right beside a tent where he was just finishing up a talk. We were both able to get our picture taken and talk to Mr. Waddell for a couple minutes. A hilarious and classy guy, it was definitely very exciting for both of us. And, though we’re both Mossy Oak guys now, if you’ve somehow managed to miss Realtree Roadtrips on the Outdoor Channel thus far, I highly recommend checking it out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dream Come True

Damin said that we had some really big news to share, and here it is. Damin and I have been signed to the Mossy Oak Pro Staff. What does a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer do, you ask? Well essentially, we have become professional deer hunters representing Mossy Oak brand camo. Mossy Oak brand camo is the top rated deer hunting camouflage according to Bowhunting World magazine. Our job as Mossy Oak Pro Staffers is to promote Mossy Oak licensed materials at hunting shows, expos, banquets, dinners and other events. Also, we may be asked to give seminars regarding the many aspects of deer hunting.

I can’t speak for Damin, but to me this is really a dream come true. Becoming a Pro Staff member for the best camo brand in deer hunting is something I still haven’t come to grips with yet. Ever since I was started hunting at 6 years old, I always wanted to be a professional hunter and knew that if I worked hard and put all my drive and determination into a positive energy, that I could achieve this goal. However, I could never fathom that I would be 18 when it happened.

There are several people that have been influential to me achieving this dream. First and foremost is my immediate family. Without my Dad I would not only be the hunter or sportsman, but I would not be the man that I am today. He represents all that is good in a father and man and I owe all my successes to him. Damin has also been very influential to me as well. I give Damin a hard time about being a “newbie” to the sport because he has just recently become obsessed with the sport that is deer hunting in the past couple years, but in reality Damin has been hunting just as long as I have and has taken more mature bucks. Still, the determination and drive that Damin displays in his academics and on the basketball court, I have applied to deer and deer hunting. I want to not only be a successful hunter, but a knowledgeable, methodical and tactical hunter and I owe my passion to deer hunting to him. Thirdly, I have to thank my mom for the constant support she gives me. As I’ve said before, becoming a successful deer hunter and harvesting a trophy buck is a year round sport, and she supports me every single day. It took me 12 years to harvest my first mature buck, and she supported me from day one. Her love and patience was on obvious display when she woke up with me at 5 o’clock in the morning to fix me a warm breakfast when she could have stayed in bed. I would also like to send thanks to my grandfather, Jack Schumaker. Paw-paw, as Damin and I call him, is one of the best bear hunters on the east coast and I hope to be to deer hunting what he is to bear hunting. I describe Paw-Paw as an honest, helpful, hardworking sportsman who could care less about the kill, and it just out there to enjoy the hunt. I believe that inherited his passion for the hunt, only for deer and not bear. I would also like to thank my other grandfather, Tizer, for the trips we spent a field for squirrels and deer. I was with Tizer the day I took my first racked buck, a 4 pointer on which I made a remarkable (lucky) 185 yard shot on and it was a hunt that I will never forget.

Without those who I mentioned above Damin and I would not have been granted this incredible opportunity by the wonderful people at Mossy Oak, we are truly blessed.

Damin and I are about to begin an incredible journey that will allow us to meet some great people, experience lifelong dreams, and hopefully help us take a monster buck. And we are looking forward to sharing it all with you.