Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Bassmaster Classic won by Chris Lane

Congratulations are in order for Chris Lane who won  the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River in Bossier City, Louisiana.  Chris won his first Classic by making good decisions when the chips were down.

Chris' strategy included abandoning the traditional fishing adage of "never leave fish to find fish."  In other words, if you are fishing an area that you know holds fish and are catching them, it doesn't make sense to leave that area to go to another which may or may not have catchable fish.  Chris, however, left areas where he was catching fish during all three days of the Classic.  He admitted that the secondary areas he went to gave him fewer bites, but the fish were larger and allowed him to cull and upgrade his bag.

Lane, a Guntersville, AL fisherman, beat runner up Greg Vinson by more than 3 pounds with a total of 51 pounds, 6 ounces and took home the $500,000 winner's purse.  He named two lures that he used to claim the victory. One was a Luck “E” Strike G4, a tube with a surprise inside. It has a new inner laminate of a contrasting chartreuse color (which Lane helped design) and the tube’s tentacles flash alternating colors on the fall. His other go-to lure was a Gambler Ugly Otter, a three-paddle soft plastic. He flipped the tube in shallow, stained water; he worked the Otter slowly in clearer water.

For a Classic winner, aside from the huge payday, their career is catapulted into a whole new realm of exposure and recognition.  Sponsorship and appearance offers begin to flood in and with them bring a boost in income for anglers who may have been struggling just to meet expenses on the Elite Series or even the Opens the season before.  Mike Iaconelli details the business strategy and talks about the advice he got from former Class winner Jay Yelas in his book "Fishing on the Edge."  With these new opportunities come increased demands on their time, however, and many anglers follow up the highlight of their career with one of their worst seasons, simply because these new commitments take away from their focus and time on the water.

Over the years, top anglers have become a close-knit group and support group for each other and help each other through the highs and lows of a huge event like the Classic.  Chris Lane seems like a great guy and seems like he will have a lot of guys pulling for him to follow up his Classic win with an awesome 2012.  Wishing Chris all the best this year in the Elite Series!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 Bassmaster Classic

Tomorrow morning will kick off the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River in Shreveport-Bossier City, LA.  49 anglers from 22 states qualified to fish this prestigious tournament by fishing several tournament series within the B.A.S.S. ranks.  The defending Classic champion, Kevin VanDam gets an automatic berth, and the remaining spots are filled by the Elite Series and Opens winners, top anglers in the 2011 Angler of the Year standings, top 6 anglers from the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, winner of the Bassmaster Weekend Series, and the Mercury B.A.S.S. College champion.

I won't do a Fantasy Fishing style run-down of who is favored to win on this fishery and for what reason because you can get a much better analysis on  And here's a link to see the Complete List of 2012 Classic Contenders.  What I will do is tell you who my favorites are.

Kevin VanDam is poised to set a record by winning three Classics in a row in this his 22nd consecutive Classic appearance.  His unprecedented success is nothing short of remarkable.  It would be awesome to see him set the record this year.

Randy Howell

Randy Howell is one of my all-time favorites and I would love to see him win his first Classic.  In addition to being a great angler, Randy is a Christian and down to earth Alabama boy, I'm proud of the stand he takes.  He's also the only Classic contender who follows me on Twitter.

Last year I met another AL angler named Timmy Horton at the Bass Pro Shops in Lawrenceville, GA, and he was such a cool, laid-back guy.  He treated everyone who came by as if they were Bill Dance or Hank Parker. He chatted about fishing, tackle, gear, boats and trucks, just like any other guy you'd meet at the boat ramp.  Timmy hasn't won a Classic so maybe this will be his year.

Brandon Palaniuk

The guy I'd really like to see win is Brandon Palaniuk from Rathdrum, ID.  I met Brandon when we fished the 2008 Bass Federation Western Divisional on Lake Havasu, AZ.  He won the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship in 2010, qualifying him for a spot in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic and entry to the 2011 Elite Series.  Brandon garnered a lot of well-deserved recognition for the Federation Nation with he Federation boat wrap he sported throughout the 2011 season.  Brandon wowed everyone with a 4th place finish in his first Classic last year, and I'm hoping he can pull out a win this year.  Do work, Brandon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quail Hunting at Buckeyes Plantation

The weather here in Georgia, and the rest of the country for that matter, has been downright nice this year.  It's been unseasonably warm, and forecasters always predict a miserable summer after such a pleasant winter.  According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) January 2012 was the fourth warmest January on record in the United States.  In addition, several states have had very little snowfall, and this threatens them with a dry Summer.  Nevertheless, getting out in the outdoors is a lot more pleasant when the temps are this comfortable.  Today I went on my first ever Quail Hunt. Along with my friends Jon Gissendaner and Mark Jeffries, and a friend of Mark's called "Paw Pat," I hunted quail and chukkar at Buckeyes Plantation in Jersey, GA.

Buckeyes Plantation

Buckeyes Plantation is located in Jersey, GA, east of Atlanta.  The plantation has been owned by the McGarity family since the mid 1800's, and Tom McGarity is the current owner.  The family has taken great pride in developing one of the finest hunting plantations in the South. Buckeyes Plantation is managed by Tom Bruce to provide guests with the ultimate in Duck, Pheasant, Quail, Dove, Deer and Turkey Hunting.  

 A few Chukkar

A little after noon, Jon and I met Mark and Paw Pat at Buckeyes Restaurant in Jersey.  After a good southern style lunch we headed down the road to the Plantation.  Once there, we met Tom Bruce, the manager, and our guide for the day, Barry Venable.  

Some of our Quail

The afternoon started out slightly overcast and breezy, and those are ideal conditions for most types of hunting and fishing.  We followed the dogs around the fields for several hours and harvested a mixed bag of 18 quail and 6 chukkar between the three of us shooting.  I'm hardly an upland bird hunter, so I was carrying my trusty Remington 870 Bone Collector 12 Gauge, but it did the job.  I definitely have some work to do to really become a proficient wing shooter.  I've decided to look into some local skeet shooting opportunities to hone my shotgunning skills.  Barry was very helpful and was able to watch my shots and give me pointers to help me connect with more birds.

Guide Barry Venable getting his dogs ready

One of the most intriguing parts of the hunt to me was watching the bird dogs work.  An assortment of German Shorthairs, spaniels and pointers named Lucy, Casey, Elvis, Football and a few others combed the fields for birds.  Watching them lock on a bird and point was a real treat to someone who has never been around these dogs at work. Barry trains his own dogs, and his dogs will hunt!

After the hunt I got to tour the lodge where overnight hunters and guests stay.  I can truly say I was impressed with the accommodations.  The Buckeyes Plantation crew is top notch, and do everything in their power to make sure you have a good time and a productive trip.  Our guide Barry was great guy and a pleasure to work with.  This was one of the bets hunts I've been on and I will definitely be going back again soon!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Re-Introduction to Me and my Blog

The premise of my blog, if you will, is "the Adventures of the Blind Pig and the Acorn."

It's taken from the phrase "even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while."  It mostly comes in the form of good-natured ribbing, and for me it's usually from my pastor and friend Rev. Daniel Gissendaner when I "stumble upon" a good shot in an archery tournament or harvest a game animal.  True enough, I may be slightly more capable than that, but for me it's a reminder that although I've been in the outdoors all my life, I'm still just a novice.

My First Squirrel - Age 12

And keeping that in mind, I want to learn something every time I go afield.  I want to be a better hunter on the trail back from the stand than I was when I climbed the tree that morning.  I want to be a better fisherman loading up the boat to come home than I was when I launched it.  I want to be a faster, stronger runner after every jog than I was when I left the house.

When I started this blog, I struggled to find a direction for it and as a result, I hardly wrote at all.  Some people can blog about everything and nothing at all and make it interesting and entertaining.  I don't have that kind of creativity. To write in an entertaining way (at least I hope it is) I have to write about something that is either new and exciting or near and dear to my heart.  Within the topic of the outdoors, both lie.  I can write about subjects that I've gained experience with over the years, as well as new ones that I'm researching and learning for the first time.

My 2004 Mule Deer

It's my hope that you will find my blog entertaining, and that maybe I can teach you something along the way.  At the very least, I hope I spark something in you that will cause you to research something I mention a little more, and maybe learn something on your own.  

I grew up in a family that was very involved in the outdoors and learned to appreciate the natural resources we are blessed with in this country. I spent my summers fishing with my grandpa and my falls hunting with my dad, starting out with squirrels and eventually moving on to big game. Being raised in Wyoming, my first big game animal was a pronghorn antelope.

Ducks Taken in Southeast Texas

I am passionate about the outdoor lifestyle, being the best hunter and fisherman I can be and I strive to be in the best physical shape I can be to tackle these pursuits. I shoot year-round to make sure that when the moment of truth arrives, I will be ready.

There is no Off Season.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ProLine Bowstrings

I am excited to announce that I am on the 2012 Pro Staff for ProLine Bowstrings!  ProLine makes quality custom strings that are guaranteed to have no serving separation, no peep rotation, and no creep.  They back up this claim with a 6 month warranty.  I'll be shooting ProLine strings on my Hoyt Alphamax 32 for 3D, and on my Hoyt CRX 32 for hunting this year.

ProLine has made a steady climb over the last 6 years to become one of the top string makers in the industry, and they now supply the stock strings for several bow manufacturers.

I'll be joining National shooting staff pros such as Kenny Lantz, Shane Gillispie and Eric Griggs, in addition to some great local staffers like myself.  I'm excited to help make 2012 THE year for ProLine to really take their string sales to the next level!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prepping for 3D Season

Yesterday I went to a Georgia DNR 3D archery range with my friend and pastor, Rev. Daniel Gissendaner. We are planning to shoot a Christian Bowhunters of Georgia Tournament this weekend and shooting an actual 3D course is the best way to get in tune for the shoot. In addition, I've been working with a new bow setup and shooting the course helps to uncover tuning issues before the tourney day. I'm shooting my Hoyt Alphamax with a Spot Hogg Infinity lizard-tongue style rest, which is quite a departure from the drop away rests I've used for hunting. Also I'm using a Spot Hogg Friday Night Delight thumb trigger release, and I normally use a standard trigger release.

I really like using the Friday Night Delight. It has taken some getting used to, but I tend to punch the trigger when shooting a normal release. Due to using the thumb with the Friday Night Delight there is less tendency to punch the trigger. I truly believe my accuracy is going to improve with time as I get dialed in with this setup.
Shooting the course also revealed that my bow was a little out of tune rest-wise. The farther the shots, my bow seemed to drop to the right. So it appears I have a little bit of work to do with the rest, and I will be walk-back tuning it today.

I'm really looking forward to the shoot! I missed the first CBG shoot due to being on a deer hunt in South Alabama. A lot of my friends from both here locally and out of state will be shooting so I know we will have a great time.

If you've never shot 3D archery, look into it. It's a great way to get really comfortable with your shooting and that translates to more success in the fall. That's my main motivation for shooting 3D. If I do well and win a plaque or two, I will be tickled, but my main focus is becoming a better shot for my bowhunts this fall. Combine the fact that you get one shot opportunity at each target with the smack talk and heckling you get from your buddies as you walk along the course, and you will develop nerves of steel for the shot! Or you'd better anyway.

There is no off season!
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