Hunting for wellness & energy

Over 30 years ago I was medically separated from the U.S. Army for problems with my knees which developed into arthritis, as well as a back injury which also developed into arthritis. Over 20 years ago I became permanently 70% disabled in my left shoulder after two bouts of cancer left me with a prosthesis and removal of my supraspinatus muscle and other surrounding muscles. Shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with an auto-immune deficiency; and again, recently was diagnosed with another, more insidious auto-immune disease. All of that, on top of just being a fairly short gal with a propensity for weight issues, and oh yeah – the arthritis I’ve developed in my hands over the past few years, give me plenty of reasons not to try; not to try hunting or fishing, or working out for vanity and vitality. But anyone who truly knows me knows that, just like that little ant who thought he could move a rubber tree plant, I have high hopes and high expectations for myself, even if it means pushing myself beyond what I should be capable of. (https://youtu.be/cJVewWbeBiY)

Frustratingly, since this new year began, I have found myself fatigued, ill, pained, with a myriad of issues that have drained me of my passion for hunting. Well, to be clear, I’ve been drained of the energy to hunt, not the desire to do so. Sometimes pushing beyond my limits works well for me, but lately I’ve come to realize that sometimes pausing and taking a break is okay too. Actually, it was my lack of motivation to hunt that brought me to the doctor and inspired her to do a blood panel, which then diagnosed the recent auto-immune issue. As I explained to her; “If I don’t feel like hunting, there’s something wrong.” Lo and behold – there was something wrong!

Lacking the vigor to coyote hunt prior to spring turkey, I settled on some trout fishing on post, catching the cold snaps to fill my creel limit. In one fishing session I caught five trout in 30 minutes and then went back home to rest – and clean fish. I find something very satisfying, especially on those cold-snap days, about casting out my line, hooking a 17” trout, and reeling him in. But nothing brings me peace like sitting in the woods at sunrise, or as the sun sets, listening to the birds trilling, and hearing the rustle of the foliage as the night critters return home, or the deer begin their evening walk-about.

It was my quest for energy to spring turkey hunt that inspired me to return to a vitamin regimen I used to follow, with a nutritional formula that is pharmaceutical grade and immune system inspiring. USANA Health Sciences is a company I came to know well and trust completely over a decade ago, and the CellSentials (formerly Essentials) had a tremendously positive impact on my energy and stamina. My hope is that I can kick start my immune system again, with empowerment from USANA, so that I’m as right as rain come autumn deer season. (To learn more about USANA – https://www.usana.com/pwp/#/site/270359212/page/751604)

My goal in writing this short piece was not to seek sympathy, although empathy is appreciated, but rather to explain why I haven’t been writing and have yet to finish part two of my deer hunting adventure from this past deer season. Much like my online Business Management certification that was supposed to take one year to complete and which I am pushing myself to finish while on my second 6th month extension, sometimes I have to tackle things in short bursts.

Life is full of excuses, and excuses are like derrieres; everyone has one. But there is no excuse for failing to try, even if every so often trying demands modest effort with frequent respites. For now, my hunting and writing will require a skosh more effort with a tad less result; but I’m manifesting a time, soon (I hope), when my energy is thriving, striving, and driving on!

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Hunting: Real life adventure

Hunting is an adventure, for sure; and to be honest, I really like harvesting what I hunt. Having said that however, I can’t help but be continuously mesmerized by nature and the experiences the hunt affords.

This weekend just past (Veterans Day weekend) I gave up my usual plans of watching the Veterans Day parade in downtown Manhattan (the Little Apple) in order to be up at 0400 and positioned by the pond where I hunt on my friend’s property. I even dragged out my life-sized Flambeau Boss Buck decoy hoping that he, along with my calling and rattling, would bring in at least one buck. There’s a dominant buck in the area, whom I’ve seen either in-person or on the game cameras, every year since I started hunting several years ago. My second year of hunting, I had ventured onto other parts of the property, kneeling for hours along the berm the deer travel upon. The big guy got within 5 feet of me not knowing I was there, and being new to hunting I opted to bleat at him to get him to stop rather than just shooting him with my crossbow at point-blank range as he walked by. Of course, it spooked him, not sensing a doe anywhere and then having an unseen one yell in his left ear…. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to a deer, and to a trophy buck. But I digress…. I believe I saw him walk past, up on the berm, Friday morning. I spied only the upper body of a whitetail walking through the shrubs, but the big guy has a very distinct way of walking, with his head down, and it seemed the deer I kind of saw walked that way. None the less; all morning facing West, and all afternoon facing East I sat poised to take a shot and not one deer showed up.

Interestingly, while I was hunting in the afternoon, a flock of turkey hens showed up, but I didn’t fill my turkey tag because I had hopes that a deer would still materialize. I spied two adorable (from a distance) skunks waddling along the sandy beach of the pond, and as the sun set I watched three raccoons begin dining on the deer corn I had out. It’s raccoon season now, too, but I didn’t want to use my last G5 T3 broadhead on a raccoon.

Believing myself to be clever; I went up to the berm Saturday morning and kneeled near the same place I had two years prior, and in the same location I’d seen the deer walk by the day prior. I had promised myself a morning hunt only, because I wanted to get changed and visit Texas Roadhouse for my complimentary Veterans Day meal. My hope was that a deer, possibly the big guy himself, would saunter on past at about the same time in the morning as the morning before; so I waited. From 0530 to 0900 I kneeled and rested my bum precariously on a downed tree limb for support. By the time I gave up on that spot, my knees were screaming in pain and my privates were numb. My initial plan was to stay there until 0930, because one of the hunting apps I use stated major or minor movement happened until 0930, but instead I grabbed my gear and stealthily (for me, which is probably rated a 4 out of 10; with 0 being no stealth and 10 being total stealth) walked down the West side of the berm, sat at the base of a Juniper tree for 30 minutes, and listened.

I had the sense about me that deer were moving around nearby; but then Kansas trees have a way of colluding with the breeze to rustle leaves just enough to flush the heart with adrenaline. So at 0930 I packed back up and decided to move a blind I haven’t used since coyote hunting with my son this past summer. I hadn’t stepped far into the clearing when I heard the warning bleat of a deer! Yet I didn’t see any running off, so I stopped in my tracks and hunched down to the ground. I slowly inched closer to a tree, just in case I needed some form of cover, and about 90 yards away I saw a young buck’s head, looking left and right trying to assess any danger. I tried to calm his fears (falsely, of course) by sprinkling some Golden Estrus near me, using my doe in estrus bleat can, and sounding a couple of buck grunts. As I watched him for several minutes, he continued to look left and right like a deer head window bobble. He had only two antlers; one curving spike on the left and a curving spike on the right. It was rather reminiscent of the crescent moon facing upward on the pagan horned god symbol. After five minutes or so, I saw the young buck get up and head into the clearing. I had hopes he would peruse by me, and quite honestly, my intent was to harvest him if he did. But instead he walked off in the opposite direction, onto someone else’s property. It was a fun interaction for me with a whitetail; confirming my belief that I do a pretty good job of being scent-free, and blending in, albeit not stealthy enough when walking to quit my day job and become a spy.

What with the rain and such on Saturday afternoon I did not return to the woods, but I did break habit and go on Sunday. I normally choose not to hunt on Sundays because I tend to require some recovery time from hunting; sleeping in, being still (on the sofa instead of on a stool or in a blind), doing chores, but with the rut supposedly in full force I decided to make an afternoon of it on the West side of the berm, 20 yards from where I’d seen the spike the day before. I had awakened in the morning from a dream in which a 6 point buck charged out of the woods into the clearing, but I awoke before I could target him. Usually when I dream of a deer, I see and harvest one, but I didn’t go out in the morning which is likely when the dream buck would have actually shown up in real life.

The woods were alive with energy Sunday afternoon; I heard critters chewing behind me, foot fall throughout the woods, and had a marvelous encounter with a flock of turkey hens. The queen hen appeared to make me, and ceased walking in the field, choosing instead to take-off in flight. Her flock followed, clucking all the way, and I was able to capture the flying hens with my phone camera. One hen perched up in a tree across the field from me, which was also very cool as I’ve never seen turkeys in trees even though I know they roost there. After a bit of time, the turkeys all gathered together again to feed, just around the small grove of trees I was stationed at. I decided to change out my arrow for one with a Bloodsport broadhead in case the hens returned to view, but they stayed nearby for about 30 minutes or so and then moseyed on. I even thought I heard deer; snorts and bleats a couple of times, but I can never be sure. I want to see a deer so intently that I often see and hear phantom deer. I’m amazed by how birds can make just the right noise to get my attention, until I realize it’s actually just a bird.

And while on the topic of birds; I also saw a beautiful bald eagle in flight nearby on Sunday. Like I wrote earlier; hunting is an adventure! I truly do love the harvest; but the woods seldom disappoint even when no deer are seen. Sitting for hours in the woodlands is like watching nature’s own reality television; and there’s never a re-run!

A Look at The Paleo Diet (Glad I’m a Hunter)

It’s been less than one week since I began perusing the book, The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. Initially I was reading it starting with the introduction, but after perusing the website (thepaleodiet.com) I started reading from the index instead of front to back. Between the book and the website, which is chalk full of interesting articles, I have come to realize everything I thought I knew… was wrong. My life’s been a lie! Okay, so not really a lie; that was an over dramatization of how I feel since being redirected in my thinking.

Let me backtrack a tad here, to first share how I even came across the paleo diet and the book of the same name. As an avid second amendment supporter I read Hands Off My Gun, by Dana Loesch, a pro-2A pundit on Fox News and the Blaze. I actually happened upon her by accident (or by G-d’s design) which led me to her book (a very good read – read my Goodreads review) and, in this modern era of tech and electronic networking, to her Instagram account. While following Loesch on Instagram I happened to “like” one of the photos she posted of herself in a dress showing off her toned legs, and in the description she mentioned the paleo diet. So off I trotted to online retailers to get the best price on a copy of the book, The Paleo Diet, so I can learn more. And the rest, they say, is history….

As a two-time cancer survivor with a permanent disability to remind me of the blessing of life, and as a mid-life woman (so hard to contemplate that) with arthritis and other sundry maladies, I am always endeavoring to seek improved health through dietary lifestyle changes (except for when I ate the breakfast sampler yesterday morning at Cracker Barrel – sucking down grits, hash-browns, biscuits & gravy, eggs, sausage, ham, and bacon – but not all of it!). I have been awakening in the middle of the night with hands so stiff and painful I cannot bend my fingers at all! The doctors assure me there is no current evidence of arthritis in my hands, per x-ray, however based on my level of discomfort I am likely pre-arthritic. I am loathe to take medications if not absolutely necessary, so seek to find holistic ways to repair myself, and vaguely recall reading, years ago, about the macro diet and how dairy is joint-degenerative. With that in mind, I intended to seek a dietary change, and then voila – The Paleo Diet manifested itself into my life! (It’s the Law of Attraction, I tell you!)

What I’ve come to learn thus far, is that much of what I’ve done to seek better health may have, in the long run, created some of the problems I now have. Years ago I took on the mantle of a low-carb lifestyle (except for occasional cheats) which supported weight loss and increased energy. I cut out rice (except for sushi), potatoes, candy, breads (except Ezekial) etc. Well, according to Dr. Cordain; legumes, such as soy (and peanuts, which I’ve learned are not a nut), grains, dairy, refined sugars, and salty-processed foods (like bacon!) produce chronic low-level inflammation in our bodies. This means that the soy milk I enjoy in lieu of cow’s milk, the protein powder I have used for close to a decade to reset my carb cravings and which is my staple for breakfast (which is soy and milk-based), the complex carb bread I have learned to enjoy for years, the cheese I love, and even the tofu I make my awesome pumpkin pie with are all aggravating various physiological mechanisms in my body and maintaining on-going inflammation. I won’t even go into my love of bacon (all salt and nitrate full).

The premise of the paleo diet is that our bodies, by design, work best eating as the hunter-gatherers did (Paleolithic man – hence the name). It donned on me that this is a great dietary lifestyle for me, since I am now a hunter! There is nothing quite as yummy as a lean (by design) venison steak, straight from a free-range deer. On the other hand; I have built a dietary lifestyle apparently full of “toxins” and it will take some serious effort to change. My goal is to make the switch in January 2016, because I will be spending Christmas with my parents and their every meal defies the paleo diet. But now that I know what little that I know about the foods I’ve been eating, I feel almost self-destructive continuing in the same manner. For instance; I bought a one pound bag of white beans to cook in the crockpot into white chili with my wild turkey legs and now I have legume guilt, knowing that what I initially thought was going to be a wholesome and delicious cold-weather meal may actually make my hands hurt worse.

Although I am excited to begin the paleo diet and watch myself return to vitality, I have experienced a pre-release of burdens and some added burdens at the same time. For example; I used to endeavor to follow the blood-type diet. According to that author, my type A blood is meant to be vegetarian. I have had that thought in the back of my mind even as I enjoy my fresh game. Yet according to Cordain, the blood-type diet, although somewhat sound in cutting out wheat and limiting dairy, is faulty scientifically and historically in assessing the blood types; type A is actually the oldest type and meant to be a hunter-gatherer, not a vegetarian (agrarian). So I am delighted to release that guilt niggling at the back of my mind. As much as I love hunting, enjoy wild game, and pulverize bones for marrow it was pretty hard to contemplate being a vegetarian (although I was for several years right after my cancer). A burden I have added, however, is learning that some of the nutritional supplementation I have been using, from a highly respected and beloved nutrition company, is actually a “toxin” based on the paleo diet research, and now something I feel I must choose to eliminate from my diet. Making this dietary change is sort of like learning to walk again after having been unable to for years….

Ever since my cancer, over 20 years ago, I have sought ways to attain and maintain health; to decrease foods problematic to my system, and to choose holistic alternatives. My choice to become a vegetarian after my cancer was to avoid the toxic meat supply ladened with hormones, pesticides, and anti-biotics. Now that I hunt, I am eating free-range wild animals with no hormones or anti-biotics, and minimal pesticides (depending on the farming practices near where the animals graze). There is no marbling on the deer meat, because there is next to zero fat on creatures that roam miles per day. The Paleo Diet only insures my continued hunting, and increases my desire to bag enough game to keep me fed for one year, until next hunting season comes along.

Over time I will continue to read the book, The Paleo Diet, follow it up with online research, and slowly purge my kitchen of those things that no longer fit the lifestyle I’m headed toward. And as I begin the process now, with two months of preparation, I will look forward to a new year with greater health, more energy, and less over-all inflammation throughout this only body that I have….

So glad I’m a hunter!