Reflections of 2012 and a Look at Things to Come

Wedding Day

Generally speaking, 2012 was crazy. But in a great way.

I ran a couple of races, and played (and won) a lot of softball and volleyball games. I planted and harvested my first garden (yum!). And I got my first taste of rock climbing and trail riding on a mountain bike during my adventure trip to Utah.

Tony & I got engaged at the Symphony in the Flint Hills, and we married a few months later. We bought a house and have started some minor renovation projects to really make it feel like home.

I’ve really enjoyed being a mom. Leo’s communication skills have improved significantly and we’ve been able to start having conversations (that I can understand). He’s a pretty funny kid. Watching him begin to understand the world around him and seeing him try things for the first time (t-ball, soccer, board games) has been fun and more rewarding than I had ever imagined.

Work has been great. I love that jhP continues to let me push our clients forward into the digital world, running online campaigns that perform amongst the best in their industries. I’m constantly challenged to stay ahead of the curve and figure out how things work.

Because of the crazy pace that things occurred in 2012, one of my overall goals for 2013 is to slow down a bit. I want to focus on quality experiences, being prepared and doing my best in everything I do – whether that’s being the best mom or shooting my highest score in a 3-D bow shoot.

1. Eat fresh. I’m planning to plant another garden this year, but this time it will be at our house in Carbondale. I’m still working on plans but have high hopes for another solid harvest which will hopefully result in lots of fresh veggies for the dinner table.

2. Get out and bike. If 2012 was the year I ran, 2013’s focus will be more on biking. Last year’s running was pretty harsh on my knees and started to work against my volleyball and softball performance. I’m hoping cycling will give me the cardiovascular benefits of running without the knee pain. Kansas has a lot of great trail systems that I’m hoping to explore in depth.

3. Make a trip to Wilson Lake. I’ve seen lots of photos but haven’t had the opportunity to  check out Wilson for myself. I think a weekend camping adventure with the bike and kayak would be pretty sweet. It would also give me a chance to try out my sleeping bag.

4. Nurture Leo’s interest in activities. Whether its baseball or soccer or balloon volleyball at my house or something new, I want to continue to get Leo involved in playing and help him develop his skills. An active kid is a happy kid, and I know how much influence these types of activities had on me growing up. I want to make sure he has the same opportunity.

5. Fill at least one of my hunting tags. I don’t have a preference which, but I’d really like to shoot a turkey and/or a deer in 2013. I’m going to be getting in a lot of practice with my bow the next couple of months shooting in our basement. Hopefully I’ll be able to put myself into some good situations in the coming hunting seasons where I will have an opportunity to bring home some meat.

My BOW Weekend

About three weekends ago I had the opportunity to attend Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman spring program. It was a three-day weekend at Rock Springs 4-H Center with about 50 other women interested in outdoor activities.

Going into the weekend, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I knew the courses I was going to attend while I was there, and I had been to Rock Springs camp a few times when I was younger. What I hadn’t really expected, was the friendships I formed and the confidence I gained while at BOW. I got to really get to know a few co-workers that also attended the program a bit better, and met several new gals that share my love for being outside, being active, and in some cases, shooting a bow. I never had considered how a weekend of uninterrupted time with other outdoors ladies would help me get a better idea of who I was, what I enjoyed and what I was good at.

A few of my cabin mates for the weekend.

My weekend started off with intro to canoeing on Friday afternoon. I selected this class because Tony purchased a canoe over the winter that I have big plans for. I wouldn’t say this course was challenging, but I enjoyed being out on the water and getting in some physical activity. I still think I prefer solo adventures in a kayak, but the canoe was still pretty fun.


On Saturday I had Intro to Archery and Spring Turkey Hunting class. Going into the weekend, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with either course. I have a lot of interest and some experience with each topic and didn’t know if I’d really get much out of the classes. I was pleasantly surprised by both. I had brought the bow I’ve been using along with me for intro to archery. After the first 20 minutes hearing about various types of bows and the different parts, I got to spend the morning shooting at various targets. While I’ve shot at targets in the past, they’ve always been the standard bullseye variety. The BOW archery setup had lots of options – deer, turkey and bullseyes. I was able to spend a lot of time shooting my bow and really had an opportunity to work on my accuracy. After several rounds I had dialed my arrow placement into a pretty tight diameter on the targets I was shooting at (primarily the turkey and deer), and I was happy with my improved accuracy.

Spring turkey hunting was great. Even though I’ve been out hutning several times this spring trying to get a turkey, I learned a lot in this session. The instructors talked through the entire hunting process – scouting, turkey habits, appropriate camo, how to call and the actual hunt. I knew some of what they were saying, but they helped fill in a few gaps and gave me the opportunity to ask a few questions without fear of feeling stupid. At the end of the course, we each had the opportunity to take a shot at a turkey head target with a shotgun at 20 yards. While I’m not interested in ever hunting with a gun, I had pretty good aim and would’ve killed that turkey if it had been real. : )

The final course I attended was probably the most informative of the weekend – wilderness survival. I’d have to say that before that class I had never really given much thought to what I’d need to survive if I got stuck somewhere. I mean, I’ve seen a few of those Survivorman TV shows, and have heard about that Bear guy, but I’d never really pictured myself in that situation. With my upcoming trip to backpack/camp in Utah, I felt like my need to have a solid survival pack was pretty pertinent. Here’s what I walked away with:

  1. I need to get a solid knife. Something with a thick blade that extends all the way down through the bottom of the handle. It will be good for hiking, but also good for hunting.
  2. I need to be able to make fire. Simple cottonballs with vasaline on them, a striker and a  ferrocium rod. It’s super easy to start a fire with these items. They’re light and compact to pack and the cottonball burns a heck of a lot longer than I had ever thought possible.
  3. Always carry a whistle. It doesn’t take as much energy to blow a whistle as it does to yell, and you can blow it longer than you can yell. Also, you can use it to annoy undesirable travel companions… just joking.
  4. Basic first aid kit with bandages, antibotic cream and pain killers are important even in the wilderness. I carry something like this in my car, so it really only makes sense that I’d take one with me when camping.
  5. Make a small investment in a basic snake bite kit. I mean, I am going to Utah and I hear they have snakes. Apparently Wal-Mart sells a pretty good kit called the Sawyer Extractor for like $15. It could save your life if you can’t get to an anti-venom treatment fast enough.

Looking back at my weekend, I really hope I get to attend BOW again. And this time, I’d like to go with my mom and her sisters. While they might not be interested in the same hunting-oriented classes that I was, I think they’d enjoy some of the other offerings – bird watching, dutch oven cooking, stream ecology, intro to almost any kind of gun you can think, etc. I’m certain it would be a great bonding time for all of us!

My first turkey hunt

Last weekend I went on my first turkey hunt. Actually, my first hunt of any kind. Ever.

Going in, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve heard many hunting stories, but I wasn’t certain how I’d react to seeing a live turkey up close. And I really wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the experience or ever consider going again.

The day started off a bit rocky. Tony and I drove out into the country looking for a good place to setup the blind. I really had no idea what we were looking for, but I could tell Tony really wanted to find a good spot. He wanted me to have the best chance possible of seeing turkeys and getting a shot.

After about an hour of searching (and one unplanned trip back into Lebo so I could go pee), we found the perfect place out on the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge. (Side note: I’m perfectly capable of going pee outside, but I had on several layers of clothes which upped the difficulty factor. I really didn’t want to take any chances.)

We trekked about a quarter mile or so back into a field, unpacked our gear, setup the Dave Smith hen decoy and crawled into the blind nestled into a lightly wooded area facing the field. Then we started waiting. Every five or ten minutes, Tony would use one of his many turkey calls, hoping to get a responding gobble from a male and lure him our direction.

After about 30 minutes we hadn’t heard anything and started playing word games to pass the time. Just when I was starting to get into the word game and thought I was about to stump Tony (professional sports team/mascot that starts with the letter “Q”), he sounded the turkey call and in the distance we heard a gobble.

Suddenly, the entire experience changed.

Excitement was in the air and the adrenaline started pumping. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I thought there was a pretty good chance I was about to see a turkey! I was on the edge of my seat straining to listen in hopes of hearing another gobble. Tony called out again, and we got another response. This time, even closer.

For the next ten or 15 minutes, Tony worked the turkeys calling them in from the west. Before I knew it, I was looking out the blind at a tom strutting about 10 yards from us, stomping and trying to get the attention of the lady-like decoy we’d planted. And to make things even sweeter, he had brought a buddy with him. (I guess in the turkey world, they sorta like bringing a buddy out to watch as they mate… or something like that. I’m still not completely sure I understand turkey mating habits.)

As the big, puffy tom was walking around, I was inside the blind fumbling, trying to get the bow loaded and ready to take a shot. Meanwhile, Tony was calm, talking me through the shot and where I should be aiming.

The tom turned away from us, and I finally had my chance! Tony told me to draw back the bow and get ready. Unfortunately, that’s when things went downhill. I pulled on the bow string and barely got it to budge. So I adjusted myself slightly in my chair (I’d never shot a bow seated before – who would’ve thought it was so much different…), took a deep breathe and pulled again. This time, my shoulder went pop, pop, pop and a jolt of pain ran through my arm and down my back. I still wasn’t able to get the bow string to pull all the way back. Crap. So I told Tony he needed to take the shot – I didn’t want this opportunity (and his efforts) to go wasted.

Then it was Tony’s turn to fumble around in the blind trying to get in position and get his bow loaded. Then his cellphone started to ring. (What!?! How was that thing not on silent?) Thankfully, he kept calling and the birds stayed within range. On Tony’s second attempt, he hit the turkey. Success!

While I was (and still am) pretty irritated that I didn’t perform the way I thought/expected I would, I really enjoyed my hunting experience! (It wasn’t like I was expecting to get a turkey the first time, but I didn’t think I’d have any troubles drawing the bow. I’ve been practicing that for months.) The adrenaline rush was cool, and I was amazed at how beautiful and colorful turkeys are. I’m already looking forward to my next hunting trip and working to build strength in my arm so I can get the shot next time.

Who knows, maybe if I’m lucky, I will actually get my first turkey.