Havalon Nation Profiles: Corissa and Marshall McCoy

By Zach Rogers

Hunting with the family takes
on new meaning!

The McCoy family with their latest deer hunting catch

Marshall, Corissa and little Levi McCoy with the family’s big catch. Hunting provides the McCoy’s with over 90 percent of their meat throughout the year. (Photo: McCoy’s)

Imagine this: you draw your home state’s competitive deer tag. During the hunt, you manage to land your biggest buck yet. Sounds perfect, right? Now imagine doing all of this while eight months pregnant. Sound like an even bigger challenge?

That’s exactly what happened to Corissa McCoy and her husband Marshall. The two submitted their applications for deer tags in Nevada, only to find out they would be expecting another addition to their family around the same time. Already excited about the welcoming news, Corissa and Marshall soon received even more good news — they had drawn the tags. Now the question remained: with Corissa being pregnant, would the two have to give up their coveted deer tags? Not a chance.

“I honestly didn’t think there would be any issues hunting while I was pregnant,” recalled Corissa. “My first thought was having someone there to take care of Levi, our 2 year old son at the time, so I wasn’t hunting pregnant and caring for a toddler at the same time!”

Corissa McCoy points the family in the direction of more deer hunting

Despite the odds, Corissa managed to get out on the hunt while being eight months pregnant. (Photo: Marshall McCoy)

Determined to embark on the hunt, Corissa and Marshall took all the necessary steps needed to ensure a safe trip.

“After I talked to my OB about the concerns, I knew I would be fine and knew we had measures in place in case of an emergency,” Corissa said. “Hunting is a part of our life, and it’s how we provide 90 percent of the meat for our family. We knew we could make it work.”

Of course, there were more than a few concerns, ones that the McCoy’s took into account before taking off. Above all else was the concern for the baby’s health, and after confirming through multiple check-ups that the baby was healthy as could be, the couple felt at ease. They also had the help of family and friends with them to watch over Levi while mom and dad took care of business. Water and food was a top priority in order to keep Corissa hydrated and nourished, and the McCoy’s also kept handy a SPOT Satellite Messenger equipped with a 911 helicopter emergency button. Marshall also did some extra preparations before leaving.

“I carried extra game bags in my packs in case I needed to create a makeshift delivery table,” he said. “I was praying I would not have to deliver a baby in the mountains.”

Corissa McCoy on the hunt for her next buck

Next stop, that way! Corissa surveys the land, with antlers in tow. (Photo: Marshall McCoy)

Throughout the hunt, as Corissa was defying the odds, Marshall found a target of his own: Walrus.

“Walrus was my nemesis,” he explained. “He was one of the largest mule deer I ever had a chance at during an open season.”

Walrus had a massive 190+ rack, and Marshall was hooked. After a few days of heavy pursuit, Walrus evaded the chase, but Marshall didn’t walk away empty handed. He managed to harvest a trophy mule deer only two days after giving up on Walrus.

“It’s not always about the prize,” said Marshall. “It’s about the adventure and the challenges that we encounter.”

The McCoy's children on a hunt with mom and dad

Levi with his little sister Ricki Lynn, who provided her parents with plenty of good luck before she was even born. (Photo: McCoy’s)

Overcoming the challenges of being pregnant on the hunt, Corissa landed of nice buck of her own. Although excited, more important was what the kill meant for her and her family.

“Each time I take an animal, I feel an overwhelming amount of appreciation for that life,” she said. “More importantly than the size of the buck is the meat it will provide to feed our family.”

For the McCoy’s, hunting isn’t just another hobby, it’s their life. Both grew up in a hunting household, with Marshall taking his first tag at the age of 12. He tries to get in at least two or three hunts per season, saving all of his vacation time for hunting. Corissa started at a young age as well, even missing a school dance so she could take a hunter’s safety course. By 12, she had killed her first buck. The two are a match made in hunting heaven — they even opted to miss their honeymoon to go out on a hunt, which they dubbed their “huntingmoon.”

The McCoys are a family of hunters

Hunting is a family sport for the McCoy’s, and these little ones are following in their parent’s footsteps. (Photo: Marshall McCoy)

Of course, neither of the McCoy’s would be caught on a hunt without their Havalon. They use it for everything from skinning and quartering to boning and caping.

“Havalon knives are the sharpest, most lightweight tools I have ever used,” said Marshall. “I can carry the extra blades and never worry about dulling a knife or taking a break to sharpen. This year alone I used my Havalon to bone out three bull elk and two deer without using any other knife.”

Marshall was first introduced to Havalon in 2010 after drawing the “trifecta” of tags in Nevada for mule deer, bull elk and desert sheep. He’s been an avid fan ever since.

“During that season I found out the knife was worth its weight in gold. I can cape an animal in half the time, which allows me to pack up and start my trek out much sooner.”

Little hunters out with their parents on a deer hunt

It didn’t take long for Levi and Ricki Lynn to get out on a hunt with mom and dad. One day they’ll be able to catch a few big bucks of their own. (Photo: McCoy’s)

Today, Corissa and Marshall are the proud parents of two young up-and-coming hunters in the making. Levi’s already an experienced pro, and little Ricki Lynn isn’t far behind.

“We believe the sooner you expose your children to camping, hunting, fishing, etc., the sooner they learn to respect it,” said Corissa. “Levi begs us all year long for hunting season!”


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6 Quick Lessons for Hunting Coyotes with Hounds

By William Clunie

Here’s a basic primer to help you eliminate
deer-killing coyotes!

The deep bellow from the hounds echoed through the woods and bounced off the huge cedar trees in the frozen swamp. Wailing hounds, hot on the trail of a coyote in the north woods, gets amplified in the silence of a snow-filled forest. I love the sound.

When the coyote made a dash out of the thick brush, I let a load of three-inch, number four buckshot go from my 12 gauge Remington 11-87. The coyote flinched and kept running, so I fired the shotgun again and watched the big male continue his sprint. One more “insurance” round as he crossed an opening at forty yards finished him, but he went another thirty yards before piling up.

Hunters and a hound gather around a coyote kill

Every coyote is a cause for celebration, and saves several deer. (Photo: William Clunie)

Some hunters have become proficient at calling, baiting or trapping coyotes, while others use long-legged hounds to chase the wily predator in the snow. Using hounds might sound easy if you don’t fully appreciate the process, but it’s rewarding. To shorten your learning curve, I’ll give you the basic facts.

1. Know why coyotes need to be hunted

Maine biologists have labeled predatory coyotes as one of the biggest reasons the deer population has been dropping off over the last ten or so years. Hunters in this region have recently been banding together to help solve the deer predation problem by taking some of these coyotes out of the equation.

2. Count the cost of hounding

Here in the Western Mountains of Maine our hound hunters chase coyotes with passion and determination, but we still come up empty-handed occasionally. Using hounds never guarantees success.

Coyote hunters don’t use just one dog either, so hunting coyotes with hounds becomes an expensive operation. Call it a lifestyle. Maintaining a pack of hounds for hunting is a costly task involving vet bills, food, hunting equipment and the cost of building kennel facilities. A pack of hounds is a major investment.

Hunting coyotes with hounds is good for both hunter and dog

Even the dogs (maybe especially the dogs) take pride in a successful hunt. (Photo: William Clunie)

3. Team together to maintain a pack of hounds

When I first considered coyote hunting with hounds, I knew a pack of dogs wasn’t in the cards for me, so I connected with a friend of mine who has hounds and worked out a plan to help him with his coyote-hunting operation. It’s mutually satisfying, and reduces the cost born by a single individual.

4. Find creative ways to form a hunting team

I formed a coyote-hunting club on Facebook called Coyote Hunters of Maine. It’s an open group with no charge for admission. New members can come and hunt with the group free-of-charge. Most of them soon realize that donating time, food or money to the cause helps out tremendously.

The Facebook site also works perfectly for keeping members informed of needs individuals in the group might have, like the time my snowmobile track needed to be replaced. Once the message got posted on the site, several members went to work and located a used track in decent shape. The process only took a few days and helped me avoid paying hundreds of dollars for a new track.

Coyote hunting is good for both the hunter and the hunting dog

When you find a fresh coyote track, no one is more excited to get the chase started than the dogs. (Photo: William Clunie)

5. Make equipment investments beyond dogs

The first piece of equipment a hunter needs to be part of the coyote-hunting group is a hand-held radio, essential for staying connected during a hunt that can range up to twenty miles or more during the course of a day.

Snowmobiles transport hunters and dogs from one location to the next during the hunt. Once the dogs take off on a track, hunters jump on their snowmobiles and head for individual locations in the woods to cut off the path of the running coyote.

Hand-held GPS tracking units, like the Garmin Astro (www.garmin.com), follow the path of the collared hounds so hunters can get ahead of the running coyote. Over the years, our group noticed that a running coyote almost always crosses snowmobile trails at the same spot other coyotes have in the past, so our hunters take up positions at these known locations and wait.

When a coyote tires it often stops and turns to fight, called “baying-up,” and the hunters must get to the hounds quickly to avoid a confrontation that may injure dogs. Most hunters carry a good pair of snowshoes for foot travel in deep snow conditions.

Coyote hunting with hounds can take you anywhere

A coyote hunt can take you miles and miles, so be prepared for the cold with the right equipment, and make sure everything is in good working order. (Photo: William Clunie)

6. Start with a basic strategy

To give the dogs a central area to start, the group places bait in several locations throughout the region. The Facebook page comes in handy here by informing members and visitors alike about the need for bait. This social media site keeps our members connected and informed of road-kill sites and places to pick up butcher shop scraps. Both are perfect for coyote bait.

Pulling together as a group not only helps us be more effective at taking coyotes with hounds, but it’s also a means of connecting with other hunters who have a similar love of hound hunting. Even on days that don’t end with a dead coyote, our hunters take pleasure in time spent in the woods together, and post the story and photos to the Facebook site for all to enjoy.

You still have time to get out and hunt coyotes as the northern winter comes to an end, and plenty of time to use these tips to put your coyote hunting plan together for next year.


About William Clunie:

william clunie outdoor writerWilliam Clunie is a registered Maine master guide, outdoor writer and nature photographer, blessed to be “living the dream” in the rugged mountains of Western Maine. He can be reached at: william.clunie@gmail.com.


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Eastern Coyotes: The Changing Face of Hunting the Howlers Changes Again

By Mike Bleech

Knowing how eastern coyote hunting
has evolved will help you succeed!

Eastern coyote hunting can be done year round

Winter, spring, summer, fall — coyotes offer year-round hunting in many states. (Photo: Mike Bleech)

Soon after coyotes became abundant in the Northeast, coyote hunting contests proliferated. Serious hunters were anxious to take part in the opportunity to fill the hunting gap through winter. And being big and ferocious adds a lot to the allure of the eastern coyote.

Most hunters who participated in the early contests used calls, put on drives or still-hunted. Success levels were low, but coyotes as heavy as 75 pounds turned up. And no wonder — research shows that the big eastern coyote carries Canadian wolf genes.

At first, many people who saw eastern coyotes figured they were seeing coydogs, produced from the mating of coyotes and domesticated dogs. Since domestic dogs are a food preference for coyotes, matings are rare.

Time has dispelled some other misconceptions about eastern coyotes. One is their origin. It has now been well established that coyotes migrated to the Northeast both south of the Great Lakes and north of the Great Lakes. Those that migrated north of the Great Lakes were the ones that acquired the wolf genes. This is probably the main reason eastern coyotes are larger than those in the West.

First success usually came when deer hunting

With coyote hunting being so new to the Northeast, it’s logical that hunting methods and tactics would go through some changes before the passing of too many years.

Eastern coyotes first peaked in population in the Northeast

When the coyotes first peaked in population in the Northeast, many hunters shot them while deer hunting because hunters in the woods caused coyotes to move. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

With the new predator, hunters faced a real learning curve. During the first few years eastern hunters shot coyotes incidentally as they hunted deer, because numerous deer hunters afield got them moving. In the early coyote hunting contests, most hunters were not yet ready to lay down the cash for a coyote-specific rifle. The hunters who brought coyotes to check stations used their deer rifles.

Specialized firearms brought more success

That soon changed. A survey of successful hunters entered in coyote hunting contests during 2007 indicated that hunters were switching to proper coyote hunting firearms. One contest that listed cartridges shows that successful coyote hunters used the 12 gauge shotgun most commonly, and deer rifles secondarily, but dedicated varmint calibers including the .22-250 Remington and .204 Ruger were starting to show up more.

Competition spawned new methods

Hunters using dogs in the hunting contests accounted for more coyotes than other hunting methods, but callers still had half as many on the coyote list.

Soon hunters were bringing dogs which had been bred for hunting coyotes into the region. They discovered that coyotes would often turn on the hounds that had been used for fox or raccoons. Running coyotes with dogs had long been done in the Southeast, but those coyotes are smaller, like coyotes in the Midwest and West.

Flash ahead seven years, to 2014. In some contests all of the coyotes were taken by hunters using dogs. It appeared as though callers could not compete with dogs, so many hunters gave up participating in coyote contests. Some gave up hunting coyotes altogether.

Calling re-emerged

Not all callers gave up the game, though. Because not everyone can keep dogs, a fair number of hunters worked hard to get better at calling. Other non-dog hunting methods were developed. All of this started to show in coyote hunting contests as callers became more competitive.

Thanks to coyote hunting contests that collected information about the tools and methods used by successful hunters, we can watch how the tactics and firearms have evolved. And now that coyote hunting in the East is an established sport, more and more hunters have special coyote rifles, and in many cases shotguns.

Camouflaged hunter looking for eastern coyotes

Proper camouflage seems to be more effective when snow is on the ground than at any other time. On a blustery day like this, a camouflaged hunter virtually disappears. (Photo: Mike Bleech)

Conclusions

This data is slanted in that all hunters reporting were successful coyote hunters, at least in the corresponding hunting contests. This makes the conclusions more valid than they would be if a random sampling of coyote hunters were questioned for our purposes.

1. Shift to shotguns and varmint rifles

Information about a total of 74 successful coyote hunters from coyote hunting contests during 2014 shows that 29 used one of the typical coyote hunting rifle cartridges. Another 21 used 12 gauge shotguns. Traps accounted for a few of the coyotes in contests which allowed trapping.

2. When hunting with dogs, use shotguns

An increasing percentage of hunters using dogs successfully have started using 12 gauge shotguns. This makes good sense. Shots at coyotes while using dogs are likely to be running shots. Over the past few years, ammo manufacturers have developed shotgun loads specifically for coyote hunting.

3. Get familiar with coyote hunting technology

Everything about coyote hunting has changed. Products dedicated to varmint hunting have proliferated on the market, due almost entirely to the eastern coyote. Electronic callers, visual attractants and scents are all being used by savvy hunters.

Getting a proper start is a lot easier now than it was just 15 years ago. Coyote hunting will never be easy, though, and that makes success all the sweeter.


About Mike Bleech:

mike-bleech-outdoor-writerMike Bleech has been a full-time freelance writer/photographer since 1980 with more than 5,000 articles published in more than 100 publications. He is the outdoor columnist for the Erie Times-News and the Warren Times Observer. Over the years he has become an expert at hunting the Allegheny National Forest and other public lands, and an accomplished trout fisherman.


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4 Places to Search for Shed Antlers Before Snow Melts

By Steve Sorensen

Shed hunting experts know these four secrets!

While waiting for this bitterly cold, seemingly endless winter to end, the patience of whitetail hunters is growing thin as they itch to get out and hunt for shed antlers. As I write this it’s March 16, and by this time last year I had found three antlers. This year we still have a foot of snow in the woods, and it’s not melting very quickly. With nighttime temperatures in the mid-twenties or even the teens, a forty-degree day doesn’t melt much snow.

YouTube is full of shed hunting videos, and many of them show hunters spotting sheds with tines sticking up through the snow. It looks easy, and it would be if the snow were only two or three inches deep. Fat chance of that here. In fact, I was out today and in some places the snow was still knee-deep.

So, under these harsh conditions, can you, should you, hunt for sheds in the snow? The odds of finding them may be slim if they’re buried under the white stuff. But while searching snow-covered ground, I discovered several reasons to hunt sheds in the snow:

Deer trails can lead to some great shed hunting

This deer trail is littered with droppings, runs through thermal cover and leads directly to a deer bedding area. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

1. Focus on thermal cover

In order to survive, deer must conserve energy in the winter. To do that, they seek thermal cover — areas where hemlocks or thick pines grow. Thermal cover gives deer at least three advantages. These trees act like a blanket, holding the day’s heat through the night. They also act as an umbrella, catching snow in their limbs, so the snowcover isn’t as deep under them. They also offer a wind break, minimizing the exposure of deer to the biting wind. Southern slopes offer an additional advantage — they’re warmer than northern slopes because the sun’s rays are more direct. These are the reasons deer gravitate to thermal cover in the winter. Snow doesn’t necessarily melt here first. It might actually stay longer in protected areas where the sun doesn’t get through, but look in these areas first and plan a return trip.

Some windswept fields attract shed antlers

Snow never covers a field at the same depth everywhere. Some areas will be windswept, and the grasses will be exposed there first. These spots will be deer magnets because deer can feed without spending much energy. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

2. Don’t skip over open fields

Fields are difficult to hunt because they are often large, and the deer might be anywhere. But early hunting while snow is still on allows you to narrow down the area considerably. That’s because most fields have windblown spots, either because of the contour of the land or due to the way the wind blows around adjacent cover. Deer will gravitate to those windblown spots where they don’t need to paw through the snow. Even though snow might still be 10 to 12 inches deep in most of the field, some spots are bare. The exposed grasses and weeds make acquiring food effortless. That’s important to deer because the less energy they use finding food, the less stress they have and the healthier they will be at winter’s end.

Deer beds equal more shed antlers

Find deer beds and your odds of finding shed antlers go way up. When antlers are ready to fall, the slight jerking motion of a deer getting up or down is enough to make them drop. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

3. Seek out deer beds

Deer will concentrate their activity in winter. When one deer breaks trail, the others will follow single file. You’ll often find deer droppings in such abundance on those trails that it looks like a barnyard, and they will lead you directly to bedding areas. In severe winter weather deer will use the same beds over and over, and melt the snow right down to the ground. You may not see antlers until the snow around the beds melts, but now that you know where the beds are you’ll know where to look.

Fruit trees like apple trees are a good spot to check for shed antlers

Look under apple trees. They serve a dual purpose for deer. They function as mini-thermal cover, and they offer a food source. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

4. Look for isolated trees, especially fruit trees

These act as mini-thermal cover. The trunks absorb heat from the sun, and it keeps the snowcover around them to a minimum. Deer gravitate towards them. On apple trees, you’ll often see a browse line where deer consume the tender tips of the branches during winter. The act of biting and jerking these tips will often be just enough to jar antlers that are ready to fall.

The chances of finding shed antlers are low while the ground is still white with snow, but that’s no reason to stay out of the woods. By mid-March most antlers have been cast, and even if snow still covers the ground you might be lucky enough to find the obvious ones — perhaps on top of the snow or maybe in spots where the snow is almost gone. But even if you don’t find them, you’ll know the land better, increase your odds the next time out and cover it more quickly. Finally, you’ll beat other hunters to the punch — your tracks in the snow will make other shed hunters think the area has been covered.


About Steve Sorensen:

hunter outdoor writer steve sorensenSteve Sorensen is the author of “Growing Up With Guns” and “The Everyday Hunter Handbook Series.” He also writes an award-winning newspaper column called “The Everyday Hunter”®, and edits content for the Havalon Post. He has published articles in Deer & Deer Hunting, Outdoor Life and many other top magazines across the USA. Invite Steve to speak at your next event, and follow him at www.EverydayHunter.com.


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Hunting Small Game with an Airgun

By Tom Claycomb III

Don’t miss out on airgun excitement!

Small game hunting with airguns depends on the accuracy of your gun

I start off sighting in my airguns at 15 yards. Of the ones that I have tested I’ve obtained the best accuracy with GAMO and Crosman. (Photo: Tom Claycomb III)

Nearly every hunter started off with an airgun. My first was an old Crosman BB gun with a compression barrel. Then I upgraded to a pump-up Benjamin .22 cal. pellet gun.

Today’s airguns are wildly popular because they’ve progressed by leaps and bounds in accuracy and speed. The last 50 years have seen major advances, with some airguns boasting speeds of 1,450 fps — that’s 200 fps faster than a .22 rimfire! At the recent SHOT Show I tried out Crosman’s new .357, which they advertise as enough gun for shooting hogs and deer. But for now, we’re talking about small game hunting.

In Idaho, we have the Townsend ground squirrel, popularly known as a whistle pig. It resembles a hyper-active miniature prairie dog. I often fire between 400 and 500 shots per afternoon. 99 percent of my shots will be under 200 yards, with a large percentage being closer than 75 yards, making whistle pigs the perfect game for hunting with airguns.

Two great airguns for hunting small game

The Marauder in the background and the Woods Walker in the foreground. The Woods Walker pistol has an attachable butt stock. It’s taken a lot of close range whistle pigs. (Photo: Tom Claycomb III)

Although I hunt from Alaska to Florida, local whistle pig hunting is one of the highlights of my year because it provides high-speed shooting and a lot of excitement. One day my 90-year-old buddy Roy Snethen hit one, and by the time I could say he had him, a hawk swooped down and grabbed the squirrel. Hawks, eagles and badgers often pick them up, but usually not that quickly.

I’ve taken plenty of ground squirrels with a .22 rimfire, so I can say with confidence that whistle pigs don’t spook as badly when you’re hunting with an airgun. They pop back up a lot faster. Last spring I shot three off one hole within minutes.

One big benefit of airguns is that even though high-end models are expensive, they’re much cheaper to shoot than a .22 and there’s no shortage of ammo. Speaking of ammo, manufacturers offer several types. Some pellets are designed for target and hunting, but super-light pellets achieve much higher speeds. However, accuracy always trumps speed, so test various pellets to see which one is most accurate in your gun.

Airguns for hunting are often a lot quieter

Many times I’ll get multiple shots within minutes due to airguns being quieter. (Photo: Tom Claycomb III)

For small game hunting, you have two options in rifle mechanisms: break-barrel rifles and compressed air models. (Yes, also the old pump-ups.)

You can argue which option is best, but a fun and really accurate rifle is the Benjamin Marauder. It requires a compressed air tank. Fill the tank to 5,000 psi and attach a quick disconnect hose to the air cylinder on your rifle. Charge the rifle to 3,000 psi. As air pressure drops, so will your pellet. They recommend refilling it when it drops to 2,000 psi, but when I’m under those zombie whistle pig attacks I don’t stop firing until 1,000. At that pressure I can see the pellet flying.

Last year, every time I went out it was windy and I still hit them at 75 yards. This spring I plan on hitting them at 100 yards.

Without a second auxiliary tank, you’ll run out of air in the middle of some hot and heavy shooting. Speaking of hot and heavy, with an airgun you don’t have to carry 2-3 rifles since they don’t overheat like a .223 does.

Hunting with airguns offers a lot of excitement

The Woods Walker is fun for close shots. You could also use it while backpacking to pick up a few grouse for dinner or to protect your camp from snakes. (Photo: Tom Claycomb III)

If you’re ready for an airgun, here’s what to consider:

Compressed Air Model: Example — Marauder/Woods Walker

  • Higher speeds can be achieved with compressed air models.
  • Eventually you’ll want two air tanks. (Purchase compressed air at a skin diving shop.)

Break Action Model: Example — GAMO Whisper Fusion Pro

  • No air tank makes it easy to carry and ready to go anytime — good for a lot of shooting.
  • Most break actions aren’t as accurate starting out, but accuracy stabilizes at around 300 shots.

Choosing a Scope:

  • Airguns will ruin the best conventional scopes, which are built for backwards recoil. Airguns have forward internal recoil, so get a scope made specifically for an airgun.
  • Scopes that manufacturers put on air rifles work well. For a nice specialized airgun scope, check out the Leupold 3x9x33EFR.

About Game Animals:

  • Air guns are perfect for any small game, such as rabbits, ground squirrels, grouse, coons, possums, turtles, rats and other pests.
  • For hunting, buy a .22 caliber. Animals will feel noticeably more whump than they do from a .177.

Why use an airgun? For one, the nostalgia. For two, the challenge. Maybe you want to shoot without making a lot of noise. If nothing else, it will be a lot of fun. You might feel like you’ve gone back in time. At the Squirrel Masters Classic in Alabama last year, Tony Dolle summed it up best by saying, “Dang, I feel like I’m six years old again and need to find a tin can to shoot!”


About Tom Claycomb III:

tom claycomb image 288x300Tom lives in Idaho writes outdoor articles for various newspapers, magazines and websites. If it’s something outdoors, he probably likes it. You can read more of his writings at www.Amazon.com and www.BassPro.com.


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