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Monday, February 27, 2012

Lookin' For Bones

6:05 AM 10 Comments

First - new look to the blog this morning; Good? Bad? Really dirt ugly? I drove a couple of my fellow bloggers a little crazy over the weekend; I think I changed the look 47 times. What looked like a cheerful bright green, kind of trippy, kind of old hippie chick, to me, nearly put out my friend and fellow blogger Ken from Waterdog Journal's eyes.  Okay; that one bit the dust- several others were rejected as too girly, too muted, too plain, too blue, ad nauseum.. until I finally just decided to quit mucking about and run with this one.

The rest of my weekend was spent bemoaning the fact that although Willie can find any shed I hide for him in the field, all he could sniff and snuffle out this weekend were tiny little bones and odd things.

Just a turkey skull; but intact and added to the collection on the fireplace

Wondering how long this has been in the tree?

I wish I could tell you that I found this nice one, but alas- it was my pal Adam Rutkowski's claim. He only allowed me to pose with it, because he thought since I was "a small person" it would make the antler look bigger.

Piper and my Prois; both always ready for any outdoor adventure !
Adam's find had plenty of mass to it; I couldn't even get my hands wrapped around that chunk of bone.

Too fat for my fingers
The back side of this big boy
We hiked and plundered,  errr -  Adam plundered. The dogs brought me things like horsehead doe skulls and little bird bones..

Piper with a skull she fetched up for me

Willie mostly played in the water; convinced it was a party just for him
Lastly, and most importantly, I got to spend  some time afield with my friends, enjoying the first signs of spring that are starting to emerge. I'll find sheds once things start greening up a little more. After all it's more about the journey and the time afield,  than it is about dragging home bones.

a multiflora rose cane starting to leaf out

Friday, February 24, 2012

NWTF, The Outdoor Sisterhood and The Other Side of the Coin

9:30 AM 3 Comments
Yesterday my guest blogger Jane Kolmer shared with us her abysmal experience at the NWTF Convention when visiting the various firearm dealers there.

Today I want to share with you the "other side of the coin". While I had no better luck with the firearm dealers than Jane did,  We did find several vendors who struck us at our very core. Vendors who understood that women are a huge part of the outdoor market,  have thoughts, values, ideas, and wallets.  So,  without further ado, let's have a look at a few of the vendors who took that extra time with us. Vendors who did not talk down to us, ask if we were shopping for our husbands,  or treated us any differently than any male attendee.
Sparky and I  after he outfitted me in a full set of M2D Camo
Sparky with Jane following their  technical discussion of sublimation printing, color management  and how the pattern adapts to changing light

Jane mentioned "Sparky" President of M2D Camo in her post yesterday - Sparky spent a huge amount of time with us discussing his innovative M2D Camo, lamented the fact that he did not yet ( heavy on the yet) have a women's hunting clothing manufacturer on board, and discussed with us at length what we would most want in hunting and outdoor apparel  that would utilize his pattern. I  had him examine  the Prois Pro Edition Vest that I was wearing as an example of what women consider the best  in female hunting apparel. Yes, we want a feminine form, a good fit, but most of all, like our male counterparts we want  function and value for our hunting dollar.  He treated us as respected members of the outdoor industry, recognized our abilities, interests, and purchasing power, and readily grasped  that we were interested in this innovative new camo pattern and deserved his time.

Sparky put his money where his mouth is. He generously provided  both Jane and I with items from his M2D collection,  I was the lucky recipient of a full set of M2D Camo clothing to field trial, test, drag through the muck and the mud, in general; give his product my best shot and report back.  Not once  did we encounter an ounce of condescension, or feel that we were in any way less important or less valuable to him than our male counterparts present at his booth. Sparky and M2D Camo get a big thumbs up from me!

Scott an dI sharing a laugh about one of my less than successful turkey hunting adventures

Jane and I encountered Scott Wilper of Wilper Custom Calls very early in our convention roaming. From our first conversation  we felt that not only had we met a great call maker, we had made a new friend. Scott, like Sparky, never once,  even   dared  to hazard a guess that we were shopping for husbands, brothers, friends or sons. He talked turkey with us, along with discussing family outdoor adventures, the importance of women being able to hunt successfully and provide for their families. He shared his call making process, and helped me to make a sentimental Valentine's day purchase You can read about that here); along with providing Jane and I each one of his special "Pocket Rocket" calls- just for us.  Not for the guys, JUST FOR US.  Big thumbs up to Scott,  his warm , enthusiastic personality, and his support of hunting as a family sport and heritage!

Berkley Giles of Ear.Inc prepares to mold a set of custom ear plugs for Marti Davis 
Mr. Giles explaining what product would best work with my outdoor passions and my sensory overload issues

Berkely Giles, director of Business development for EAR.Inc was another stand out for me. My outdoor sister Marti Davis could quickly see that the noise level was causing issues for me - I was raiply falling into sensory overload, and she literally, hand on my shoulders, steered me directly to the Ear.Inc booth. There Mr. Giles took  great care in explaining how the HearDefenders-DF™ Dual Filtered Earplugs were exactly what I needed, and quickly inserted a pair for me. Ahhhh...instant relief from the all cacophony,  yet I was still able to talk with  him, and others nearby  with ease. He spent a large amount of time going through the various hearing protection products Ear.Inc offered and helped me to select what would work best for the various outdoor sports and conditions that I encounter, as well as displaying a great working knowledge of the sensory input issues that often accompany multiple sclerosis. . The HearDefenders-DF™ are always with me now, and I am waiting with bated breath for the custom molded set I was fitted for during the show to arrive. Mr. Giles was quick to recognize that ears are well,  ears - whether they be male or female, we all need good hearing protection! One again- a thumbs up for EAR.Inc and Mr. Giles as a female friendly vendor! 

Jane considers the Hammock Seat and it's durability and portability while the crew from Fanatic Outdoors  stands at the ready to answer every single question she had for them

Last, but certainly not least was the crew from Fanatic Outdoors with their nifty Hammock Seat. It was refreshing  to meet with a crew so customer oriented and willing to spend time with two women. Our questions were answered, the product was clearly demonstrated, and even though there were a few laughs when I tried to haul my fanny up and out, the fellows were quick to point out how to adapt the Hammock seat to my size, height and special needs. They were interested in us as hunters period. Not that we were women, but rather how their lightweight, easily packable "seat"  could help us have a more satisfying  and successful hunting experience.  Thumbs up to the crew from Fanatic Outdoors! 

I encourage all of my fellow women outdoor enthusiasts to share their GOOD experiences, with vendors, dealers, outfitters etc. There are those out there that value us as outdoor enthusiasts, value our opinions and expertise, and value us as customers. Let's support them the same way they support us!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

NWTF Convention, The Outdoor Sisterhood and a Social Experiment

5:56 AM 26 Comments
As promised, there are still tales to be told from my trip to the NWTF Convention. Alas, I have been beset  the past week with what could be called, the flu, the epizootic, or convention ick. I've spent the last few days in some  feverish, cold and flu medicine haze that has prevented me from forming a coherent thought, let alone writing a grammatically correct sentence.

Thankfully the "outdoor sisterhood" to the rescue! My traveling companion, friend, outdoor sister  and fellow woods runner Jane Kolmer, Owner, President, and creative genius  at  Action Graphics generously supplied me with  this guest post about her "Social Experiment" during the NWTF convention.  Welcome Jane and Thank YOU!

Jane (L) and our other Outdoor Sister  Marti Davis(R) at the EAR,Inc. Booth examining the custom made hearing protection available

 A Social Experiment
It started out simply enough.  While at the NWTF National convention in Nashville, I decided to stop by the booth of a major gun manufacturer and ask the guys working if they knew my son (Moms like to do that).  On my first approach, the guys were busy hustling around helping people get familiar with their weapons so it was easy to see why they didn’t have time to look in my direction, after all, I wasn’t going to buy a gun, I just wanted to talk.  They must have known that innately, so I decided I would come back later.

On my second approach, all of the attendants were still busy talking to attendees and showing them the latest and greatest in their product line.  I decided to hang around awhile and look at the firearms in their booth and wait for a pause in the action to say “hey”.  After all, I am a firearms fan, so spending a little time admiring and handling their product was not an unpleasant way to spend my time.  After about 10 minutes, I decided they were all still too busy and went on my way with the intention of coming back again after my “rounds”.

I am in the market for a new handgun, so I headed over to the Ruger table.  Ruger had a really nice display of several cabled handguns.  It was crowded, so I had to push my way to the handguns.  After the third fellow gun enthusiast bumped me out of the way I started to get a little testy, so I pushed my way back in to get a better look and claim my space at the table.  Picking up each gun for better inspection I found one I thought might be a good fit and tried to get the salesman’s attention.  Funny, he didn’t seem to see me.  He did however see the guy next to me, and every guy after that who approached the table. He even managed to address them with comments like “Nice isn’t it?” and “Do you have any questions?” I started to sense something may be amiss.  

After all, I was personally responsible for most of the firearms in our home’s multiple gun safes.  I grew up with guns.  I like guns, believe in the 2nd Amendment and had money in my wallet.  What was the problem?

A quick self check assured me that I hadn’t mistakenly worn my cloak of invisibility to the show.  I think I looked like I could afford a gun.  I was dressed neatly and even took a shower before I left the hotel.  Then it came to me… the purse.  I was carrying a designer purse.  Must be the purse!  No prospective gun buyer wears a purse.  None of the hard-hitting female outdoors shooters and writers I was hanging with that weekend carried a purse.  They all had fanny packs and backpacks.  So I ditched the purse and bought a $14 camo backpacks and headed back to Ruger.

Nope, wasn’t the purse.  I still couldn’t manage to gain the attention of an attendant.  A warm sensation started crawling up my neck.  It was a mixture of dawning awareness, anger and a dash of hurt feelings.  Surly not.  Not here.  Not at NWTF where I have personally been a sponsor for the past decade plus.   Was my invisibility because I am a… woman?  I mean, I was a little surprised when I registered for the show and they didn’t have any record of me,  my business, or the fact that I had been a NWTF sponsor for most of my adult life.  But they did finally find me (under my husband’s name, even though it was my business that was the NWTF sponsor and my work that had been donated to the NWTF over the years).  And I was kind of taken back when the retiree working the door said “I’ve got your partner right here, Baby” when I hit the convention floor the day before.  But in my everyday world sexism isn’t an issue.  My days are full of power hitting outdoors women and business people.  So this new sensation caught me off guard and my “social experiment” had officially begun.

During the course of the next two days I systematically visited every gun dealer at the convention multiple times.  With every stop, my suspicions were reinforced.  Not even after I scored a sharp looking Camo vest from my buddy Sparky Sparks at M2D Camo could I get gun attendants to ask if they could help me.   The knife dealers could see me, why couldn’t the gun dealers? I think Remmington was the biggest disappointment (they are my gun of choice) because they even had a female attendant. Why WAS she there?  A token perhaps?  
Jane withe her new M2D Camo Vest Courtesy of M2D President "Sparky" ; who was more than happy to spend lots of time talking with both Jan and myself!

On my fifth visit to the manufacturer my son works for my social experiment was officially completed.  Being the only person in the booth and with my hands on their guns, all three attendants turned their backs on me, walked to the aisle and stood at attention looking for better prospects.  So I did what anybody would do at that point.  I walked up to the closest one, touched him on the arm, looked him directly in the eye and said “Hey, do you know my son”?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

NWTF, Sensory Overload, and The Outdoor Sisterhood

8:51 AM 9 Comments
~ Just a note; this is the first in series  about my experiences at NWTF with my friends in  the Outdoor Sisterhood. There are just too many stories to tell about the whirlwhind 4 days in one post!~

It's hard to believe that it's been 7 days since I set foot in the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville for the 2012 NWTF Convention. I know it has been, my calendar says it has been, but my brain and my body still feel like I've just returned home.

I'll be honest, since my diagnosis of MS I've avoided large trade shows and conventions such as the NWTF Convention. I get into sensory overload very easily, When I get into sensory overload,  the MS symptoms start popping up , and ultimately- if I don't remove myself from all the sensory input, my central nervous system just melts down from the perceived assault, and I turn into something that resembles a bowl of jello, that occasionally mumbles something incoherent.

Breakfast with the Outdoor Sisters and Karen Lee, Editor of Turkey Country magazine.
But I really wanted to go the NWTF convention. All the cool kids were going. I didn't want to miss out on all the good things that NWTF had splashed throughout the convention web site. By golly, I decided, I am going.

My pals Jane and Marti..getting their "Gangsta Turkey Hunter Chica "  game faces on at the Sponsor Reception on Thursday evening

I learned years ago, that I could sit at home and whine about what my MS  wouldn't allow me to do, or I could just make a plan,  gather information, and find a way to get up off my fanny and do what ever I wanted to.  While some things truly are not possible anymore wihout the risk of injury or being an extremely annoying  pill of a person to my companions, for the most part, with a little forthought, a little planning and few pieces of adaptive equipment and an adaptive schedule, I am game for most anything.

So what if my legs gave out? Team WON to the rescue  with Titan's newest  Hybrid UTV.  If it can haul your big game, it could surely haul my broken down carcass.

My "WAAAAAY Type A" personality just will not allow me to sit and wallow in self pity. My extreme love and passion for all things outdoors won't sit still for that couch potato business either. Good Lord. I might miss something perfert and wonderful and awe inspiring if I stayed inside and whined " I have MS, My life is over. "

One of the reasons I decided I could and would pull off this trip to NWTF  was the fact that , all the cool girls were going . My outdoor sisters were going to be there en masse. The outdoor sisterhood  that helps, supports, and even occasionally chastises each other. The outdoor sisterhood ranks as number one as  the best support system of smart, talented women that I have encountered in my lifetime.
 I knew that by immersing myself in this group of women, several who have been on excursions with me and know when to grab me by the scruff of the neck and tell me to take my type A fanny  and go sit down and rest, it was doable. 
Who could resist those comfy chairs and couches at the Mossy Oak exhibit? A great place to rest weary legs for a few minutes.

I was  surrounded my pals from Womens Outdoor News, the WON Guns as we call ourselves; Barb Baird, Stacey Huston, Tammy Bellew, Paige Eissinger, Marti Davis and Nancy Jo Adams . Then there was the added attraction of more outdor sisters, - Kristen MonroeKaren Butler, and Shelly Ray  from HerCamo Shop. My traveling companion was my dear friend, NWTF sponsor and fellow woods roamer Jane Kolmer - the art and graphics whiz  from Action Graphics that has made some fantastic banners for Team WON; from the Carp Caper to the one proudly displayed at the NWTF women's events  WON sponsored.

With a team like that, a safety net like that crew,  I  was certain I could pull it off, and if I couldn't? Well, this group of strong, fit, healthy, women would have no problem carting out the body and tossing it into the river if I expired .

I steeled my nervous system, made my plan and headed south in cloud of dust. It was a whirlwind 4 days, and I learned  much about anything and everything  that could possibly relate to turkeys, turkey hunting, turkey conservation, turkey calling, turkey...turkey... turkey....
I also learned some valuable lessons about how to approach a large convention or trade show with MS (or any chronic disease/neurological disorder for that  matter) .
Most importantly, I learned that with the Outdoor Sisterhood, ANYTHING is possible and doable- no matter how daunting it may seem at the onset.

When all else failed, there were plenty of "natural"  nooks and corners where I could  sit, relax, and recharge in the Atrium at the Gaylord Opryland Resort

Stay tuned dear friends,  for the coming posts  as I share  with you my NWTF  Covention journal, and  my experiences that ranged from funny to frustrating.

Right now, I'm back to following rule #1 for me; for every day of an event that is large, physically and/or  mentally taxing, allow an equal number of days to recuperate and rest when I get home. My couch is still my best friend at the moment!