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when-the-moment-proves-it-isnt-beginners-luck

When the moment proves it isn’t beginner’s luck

– By Nicole Malkowski

I am new to hunting and hunt with my fiancé, who taught me everything…

This was only my second year hunting, and my first year bowhunting. We hunt in Wisconsin, but live in Illinois and both have very demanding jobs. We worked really hard this year on our land and went up every chance we could to bowhunt. We even used our vacation time to take a week off during the rut. That week we actually saw this 10 pointer fighting an 8 pointer over a doe. It was awesome to see, but we had no shot.

Since I had taken so much time off work for bow hunting, I was not able to go for the opening weekend of rifle season. I thought about just not going this year. But, I decided to get my tags last minute and head up for the last weekend. I had not seen anything Friday or Saturday and only had the Sunday morning hunt left before our 3 hour drive back home. I had little hope walking out to my stand, but when I got there, I heard a lot of noise in the brush underneath the stand. I couldn’t see anything of course, because it was pitch black. But, once it got light out, I heard something again, so I turned around slowly… but it was only a bunny.

An hour later, I heard shots fired to my right and then I heard him come out of the brush behind me. I slowly stood up and turned around, lined up my scope, and took the shot. And, into the brush he went ! I could see the top of his rack. He stayed there in the brush for a while. Then, out ran a doe, taking my attention away from the buck. I waited for what felt like forever before I headed down to look for him.

I was very nervous because I couldn’t find any blood I looked all over through the thick brush. I called my fiancé for help. After we looked together, he thought I had missed the buck. But, I knew I didn’t miss and walked only 10 feet further to find a large amount of blood and then… he popped up and took off! Luckily, there is an open field directly behind the woods and he dropped after about 60 yards!

I am the first female to hunt in my fiancées family. During my first year hunting, I took the biggest buck ever on their property. This one was even bigger! They definitely had doubts about me hunting, even after my first buck. They said it was beginners luck, but now I definitely proved myself. What a moment!

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When You Put A Hook N1 Big Walleye!

– By Ryan Romero

Chasing trophy walleye is my obsession. When it comes to targeting trophy walleye, you have to put in the time to reap the rewards! This N1 Moment is a collection of hard work, sleepless nights, and 100% dedication. Me and My good friend, James Palma, set out on this day, 11/30/2017, to try and catch a monster walleye for my birthday… and we did just that!

James’ gift to me was a lure that I have wanted in our arsenal for a long time and he finally made it happen. He airbrushed an h-14 husky jerk that this 13 lb. walleye couldn’t resist! The night started out slow. When we got to our first spot, there was someone already fishing it! So my buddy said, “you know what, we’ll go to this other shore line and catch bigger and better fish than we will here.” 

After a short ride to a spot on Delavan lake, called Willow point, I casted out the line and within 2 minuets this big girl was linked up! She just about broke the rod she hit with so much force! At that moment I said, “BIG FISH!” After a 5-10 minute fight, she finally came close enough to net. It was a tense series of moments, but with only one hook in her, we made it happen and Put A Hook N1!

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When a year-long obsession becomes an unforgettable moment

– By John Workman

I saw this deer on camera around mid-December of 2016 and became obsessed. I had hundreds and hundreds of pictures of him. In February, I noticed he hadn’t been to the area or fed at the feeder, so I started looking for his sheds. I found one side (which was the side I wanted the most). He was at my best guess a 15 point, and had 10 points on the shed I found. It sucked my attention in even deeper. My wife got so sick of hearing about “close call.” I never name deer, but he had what looked like a gunshot wound in his right ear, so I dubbed him “close call.” After I found his shed, I focused a lot of attention on the area where I knew he was.

In April of 2017, he showed back up, with just 2 or 3 inch nubs on his head. Of course, because of his ears, and my obsession, I knew it was him. He stuck around for a few weeks, and then of course, disappeared again. He remained out of view until around June, when he came back. He stayed close by and on camera sometimes 3 different times a day from June on. I’m from Kentucky, and our season comes in really early, so I was counting down the days and doing my very best to just keep him around. Around the first of August, he quit feeding at the feeder, but was still visible in the open. Our season opened on September 2 this year, and in my mind, I had him in the bag. I ran up to 4 cams to keep my eyes on him, and one was a Spartan cell cam. It kept me from frequenting the area, and I knew instantly when he was there. On August 31st I have video of him in the broad daylight at what would have been an 18 yard shot for me. My confidence was out the roof. The season opened and I spent the next 6 days in the stand. I only hunted him of an evening, seeing I never had a picture or anything of a morning of him. Over those 6 days, he never showed his face at all.

I was crushed. In my mind, I knew he was probably just laying low and in the process of shedding his velvet. I back off for a few days and would keep my eye on my cameras, thinking I had applied too much pressure. He finally showed back up but had gone completely nocturnal. Around the 15th of September, he had completely vanished. I just knew someone else had gotten him I told no one but a very tight group about this deer. I was at my son’s football practice one day and heard someone talking about a huge buck they had seen in the area where the buck lived. I then knew he was still alive, but it worried me that someone would do something stupid to him. For the next 2 weeks the buck would only show up about ever 4-6 days for a brief minute, and in the middle of the night. At least I knew he was still alive, is all I could think of. I stayed away and didn’t hunt for weeks.

On September 26, while away from home, my cell phone dings and there he is. It’s 4 in the evening and I’m not in the woods, so I figured my one chance had come and gone. I looked closely at the forecast and figured I could hunt the 28th and 29th because there was a cool front coming, and the wind would be perfect. I hunted the 28th and nothing. Not a single deer.

I was kind of skeptical, but wouldn’t give up. My wife and I had plans for the evening of the 29th, but she was okay with me hunting for a few hours that evening. I got there around 4:30 that evening and it was calm and perfect. I texted my wife and told her, “this would be the perfect evening for him to show up. It’s so quiet and calm.” She told me that it was okay if I stayed till dark, before we went out. She understood my obsession more than anyone. At around 5:45, I had a small buck come in. He wasn’t there long and left.

I was just enjoying the evening being in the woods. Around 6:25 or so, I decided I’d try a little very light rattling (seeing it worked the year before). About 10-15 minutes after I heard what sounded like a cough or something from the hill across from me. I focused my full attention to that area. I saw movement coming my way….it was a small basket 8 point I had on cam. As soon as he came out, I saw a second deer coming. It turned out to be the small 3 point that was there earlier in the evening. After he came out, it still sounded like more deer were coming. Low and behold, I look in the timber and here he comes. I instantly began become overwhelmed. He came out, just like I had planned, but he looked right at me. He turned around like he was going to head back into the timber, so I drew on him. He was quartering away at 21 yards. I held tight and left the arrow fly. Instantly I knew I had just messed up on the buck of a lifetime. The shot looked super high. I was sick. I set back and text my wife and told her I had just shot him. I went over the shot in my head 100 times. I went and retrieved the arrow and looked it over. It appeared to have really good blood, so I wasn’t so sure I had hit it high.

My wife finally showed up, and we went looking. It was the first time she had ever tracked and she was super excited. We continued to find good blood, then about 70 yards in the timber, there be laid. The buck of my lifetime….the one I had become so obsessed over. He gross scored 177 7/8”, even though he was only 14 ½” wide. He has 18 scoreable points. He is my biggest to date, and the most gratifying as well. Come to find out, in the middle of September when he disappeared, it was because someone had tried to poach him. He was shot with a small caliber rifle, just above his front shoulders. I got very lucky to be able to harvest such a tough and awesome animal.

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First Archery Buck…

– By Jennifer Danella

During the first cold front of the year, I shot this buck with my bow in Washington County, Pennsylvania. My first archery kill! He walked by my stand and stopped about 38 yards away. He was quartered away from me when I shot him. He jumped and ran 50 yards before crashing. I found him with my arrow still in him. I am very proud to have harvested this deer after all the hard work I’ve put into this season!

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Big Catfish… Put A Hand N1

– By Charles Farmer

Summer is upon us and in Southern Illinois, and that means it’s time for catfish to start spawning. They swim up in holes under all sorts of things such as stumps, boat ramps, and rocks. The first thing you do is feel around with a stick in the hole because fish this big will be in holes 15, maybe 20 feet, back.  We found a big flathead under a boat ramp and we knew it was time to Noodle1. So I went under the murky water and put my arm in the hole waving it around inside there and Bam! I get bit. So I grabbed its bottom jaw and ripped it out of the hole while putting under my other one. We run a stringer in it and we see how big he is once it breaks the surface. A monstrous 40+ pounder that put up a good fight.

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When the Moment is nearly a new state record…

– By Harrison Brandt

It was on the very first day of summer that I would almost break the Texas state record bluegill at 2.02 pounds.

My dad and I had been fishing for about 1 hour and 30 minutes until finally, my dad pulled up a bass. I picked up his rod to test it out, and on the first cast I had a fish.

I thought it was about a 3 pound bass but when I flipped it into the boat I realized it was the biggest bluegill I had seen in my life. It weighed 2 pounds on the dot. So close to the state record.

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Turkeys, coyotes, and a moment with a friend

– By Cody Price

After 5 or 6 days in the woods and fields I was fortunate enough to take a jake in the early portion of the season to break the ice for 2017. But, like so many of us, I was eager to get a chance at a nice, mature gobbler. I had been planning a hunt with a good friend of mine in Peterborough, Ontario. When the chance came up, I loaded up the truck and headed west to meet up with him for a Friday night scout, to try and find the tom we would want to chase. We found some birds, where they were going to roost for the night, and set a game plan up from there. On Saturday morning, we made our way into our spot in between a cow pasture and corn field where we knew the birds had gone to roost. The woods were loud with gobbles from the roost as the sun started to break on the horizon. But, when 2 coyotes decided to make an appearance and attack our hen decoy, we started to get nervous the birds might have spooked. About 30 minutes later a young jake and mature tom came on a rope down the edge of the corn field to our set up, but stopped just shy of in range and decided to head back to the flock of about 12 turkeys. Once again, our hearts sank. But, I think that’s why so many of us love the thrills of hunting. After a short discussion, we decided to crawl back, jump the fence and put a spot and stalk on the birds, as I only had limited time to hunt that day. We made a  mad dash through the woods on the bottom end of the cow pasture, through thick cover, for about 120 yards before crawling the final 60 straight up a hill to the corner of the corn field where we thought the birds would be.  As I crawled to the cedar rail fence and slowly moved the grass to take a look, we were RIGHT ON TOP of the birds! I had 4 hens less than 10 yards and three toms at 25. I raised up the barrel of my 12-Gauge Benelli Supernova and let a 3-1/2″ Winchester longbeard shell fly. At 25 yards laid my turkey, a great tom with a 10″ beard and 1″ hooks. It was a successful hunt with ups and downs, but the best part was adding memories with a great friend in the field.

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When Your First Turkey Hunt Is A Success

– By Lindsay Smith

This was my first season turkey hunting. Well, any kind of hunting, really. I’ve been elk, antelope and whitetail hunting with my boyfriend, but I never actively participated. It was always more like camping to me.

I had tons of butterflies in my stomach the night before. My alarm was set for 3:30 am (way earlier than I have ever woken up for fishing). We layered up our camo, loaded up the truck with our gear, and headed east. We were lucky enough to get access and permission to hunt a small piece of private land along the river bottom of the Arkansas River. After a short drive we arrived at our “home base location,” gathered everything up and started hiking in to were we would set up.

After we were all set up and situated, we still had about 40 minutes before the sun came up. I could see the turkeys still up in their roost for the night, and I didn’t have to wait long before they started gobbling and yelping. I had never heard a wild turkey gobble like that so close, so it was an amazing and unforgettable experience. After about 20 minutes of listening to them, I watched them start to fly down from their roost. I was getting more and more excited after watching nearly 30 wild turkeys fly down and in our area. 

We could see at least three big toms and ten or more jakes. They started heading out away from us, but with our decoys and great calling from my boyfriend, they became interested and headed back our direction. It took them another five minutes (seemed like another hour) to mosey along our way, and get within my shooting range. I raised my shotgun, found a jake, took a breath and pulled the trigger.

BANG! My first turkey down! I will never forget that day!

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When The Moment Makes You Thankful For A Friend

– By Dale Smith

Thursday, July 28th 2016, is a day two people will never forget. 

I awoke that morning at 2:58, the alarm was set for 3:00, I guess anxiety woke me up early. I was meeting my friend Tim at Stater Harbor in Auke Bay at 4:30 to head out halibut fishing. We had gone on this trip a few times together. Today we left early because he had to get back by noon to take his kids to an afternoon doctor’s appointment.

The coffee came on automatically and I proceeded to make breakfast. After breakfast, I took our two dogs out for their morning walk and then took out a friend’s dog that was staying with us. My wife, Stacy was out of town for work and then vacation in Los Angeles with her brother’s family and friends. She knew I was going fishing and told me to leave my plan with someone we knew. I explained to her not to worry, If I went with one friend, his wife would know and if I went with Tim, he’s in the Coast Guard and I was certain his wife and the Coast Guard would know. I assured her, nothing would happen, Famous last words, right?

I had everything loaded and ready to go and hopped in the truck at 4:00 and headed to the harbor. It was a very quiet journey with few cars on the road. Tim and I got there at about the same time, we paid for parking and unloaded our gear into the cart and made our way down the ramp to the docks where the boat was moored. We loaded our gear on the boat, untied the dock lines and pushed off. A normal weather day it would take us about 30 minutes in the boat to get to our fishing spot, today was not a normal day.

The sky was overcast and rain was in the forecast, that isn’t odd for Juneau. The wind was forecast at 10 to 12 Kts and we were expecting 3-foot seas. The waves were bigger than I had ever been out in, Tim on the other hand, works for the Coast Guard and is used to being in rough seas. We took our time and the closer we got to our fishing spot, the rougher it became. Tim mentioned that these weren’t 3-foot seas, they were more like 5. Even with the 5-footers we made it to our location in about an hour, we were anchored up with lines in the water.

We had moderate success; I landed the first fish in about 10 minutes. It wasn’t a halibut, but instead a cod. As the next hour progressed we had landed a couple of cod and a halibut. It was still early and we needed more halibut to reach our limit. We deliberated on whether to stay or move to another spot. We fished this spot a little longer and the longer we stayed the rougher it became. We were in a location that is normally busy with boat traffic, it is a popular whale watching and charter fishing area. We saw one charter boat go by us, we decided we would go farther north and see if it was smoother on the other side of the island. I jumped in the bow and released the anchor line from the bow so we could pull anchor. We had about 250 feet of anchor line out (this is common) so I started the process of hand reeling in the line and lifted the 22-pound anchor and mooring ball up and over the rail and into the bow of the boat.

I went back to the cabin, sat in my seat and off we went to find smoother water. We were heading north between Shelter island and the mainland and the water was starting to smooth out. We saw the charter boat that went by us earlier anchored in a popular halibut hole called halibut cove. We didn’t want to fish right on top of him so we went on north. We finally stopped just short of Benjamin island in Favorite Channel. We decided to drift fish there.

Drifting is where you fish the bottom but don’t drop anchor, you let the current take you along. We started getting bites and fish, and Tim ran to the front to drop anchor. If we were sitting over a school of fish, we didn’t want to drift passed them. We ended up with 3 cod and 2 halibut in the boat and the seas were getting worse. You could see the rain approach us from the south coming up the channel. The closer it got, the rougher the seas were. I have to say, I have never been sea sick in my life but I could tell that I was starting to get a little queasy feeling in my stomach. I took in a few deep breaths and it went away, we kept fishing. Light rain started coming down and you could feel the air temperature drop a little. It wasn’t bad, low to mid 60’s with light rain is normal for Juneau this time of year.

The wind had picked up and was coming north up the channel, our bow was facing due south and the anchor line  was tight and extending out, off the bow around 300 feet. The waves were really starting to get big and crashing into the boat. We had noticed many of them were starting to white cap. With all the weather going on we decided it would be a good idea to either move to a calmer spot if we could find one, or, call it a day and head back to the dock.  We were keeping an eye on the clock, we knew it would  take us longer to get home than it did to get here because we would be going against the waves and we were farther  North than where we started fishing. We made the decision to pull anchor and move on. We reeled our lines in and Tim went to the captain’s seat and I, like I have numerous times before, went to the bow to pull anchor.

I guess this is where I tell you that these boats we fish on in Alaska are 25 to 60 feet long, the all have deep sides and enclosed cabin areas. The boat we were on was only 26 feet. Usually, when anchored up fishing, we rarely wear a life jacket even though we know we should. I normally put a jacket on if the seas are rough or I am in a spot on the boat where there would be an easy chance of falling over the side. For some reason, today, I didn’t put a jacket on, I guess I had got comfortable and thought this was no different than fishing on a boat in the lower 48. I had on hiking pants, two pairs of wool socks, over the calf rubber boots, rain pants, two shirts and a rain jacket. I had a Tilley hat and my glasses on. My pockets had my wallet, car and house keys, our only boat keys (not to the boat we were on) and a multi-tool. I also had a Buck 110 folding hunter knife in its sheath on my leather belt. This is important for other reasons than I was wearing 15 pounds of clothing. Which I will get to later.

This is where things start to get fuzzy… Here is what I remember.

I grabbed the anchor line and untied it from the bow cleat, we were going to have to move the boat backward because the wind and seas had pushed the mooring ball up next to the bow of the boat. I then gave the line a couple of hard yanks to release it from the front chuck. I got it part of the way out but there were a couple of inches still in the chuck. There was a lot of tension on the anchor line so I gave it one more yank with all I had. The second it released, it threw me forward into a front flip and into the ocean. My last two thoughts before blanking out were “s–t… This is going to be cold!” and “I hope I clear the boat”. The force at which it threw me was unbearable. I do remember feeling my feet leaving the surface of the boat and me trying not to leave my feet, but I had no chance, I couldn’t let go of the anchor line fast enough

I don’t remember the tumble through the air or hitting the water, I have either blocked that or I blacked out, I am not sure which. The next thing I remember was being submerged, I could feel the water making its way from my neckline and cuffs of my shirt all the way down my pants and filling up my boots as if I were in slow motion. The water was cold, but surprisingly I wasn’t shivering from it. I think the adrenaline had already kicked in full gear. I remember realizing I was under water and swimming to the surface with my hat and glasses still on and in place. Now on the surface, I knew I had to somehow get to the boat and it wasn’t going to be easy. I started to try and swim, something that comes very natural to a former competitive swimmer, but the weight of my boots and clothing was dragging me back under. For a second I thought I would start taking off my clothes but I quickly realized I was running out of time. I looked up and I saw Tim leaning over the bow with a handout. The waves pushed me toward the boat as I swam and was treading water to keep my chin above the waterline.

I reached up and grabbed the boat rail or Tim, I can’t remember which but at some point I know Tim had a hold of me re-assuring me by telling me “I got Ya!”, and we started trying to get me in the boat. At this moment I thought, wow, that was a close call, now just get in the boat. First, we tried to pull me out by the hands, then we tried with Tim grasping hold of my coat. He was pulling so hard that my coat was beginning to come off. We stopped and I grasped the railing again. We both tried to catch our breath. Tim asked if I could clasp my hands around the back of his neck and he would lift me up that way. I reached around him and held on as Tim tried with all his might to get his legs underneath himself so he could stand up. The waves were pounding me pretty hard at this point. And the current and waves were pushing my legs under the boat and I probably gained an extra hundred pounds of water weight. Tim had to lean over so far so I could reach his neck he could only lift with his back and neck. We both knew he could not chance me pulling him in too as he was my only hope for rescue. At one point Tim almost had me up where my elbows were above the rail but I didn’t have the strength to kick in the water to raise myself out. We tried and tried, but nothing was working. I was calm enough that I held on with one hand and took my glasses off and handed them to Tim to put in the boat. I should have handed him my hat too, as I would lose it a short time later. It was my favorite hat after all. What I thought at first was a close call but no big deal was starting to turn into a very bad ordeal in my mind. Though I still knew we would find a way to get me in the boat. He asked me if I was OK to hang on before he rushed to grab a life jacket to put on me, I told him I was. He got back and I hung on with my left hand as Tim put my right hand and arm in the jacket. Then I swapped hands on the rail and Tim put my other arm in the jacket. This was just in time. The waves were so big and constant that I felt like every wave I was under water. I had already swallowed a couple of gulps of sea water, I was trying to breathe in between the sets of waves, but they just kept coming, one after another, after another, and another. It was relentless. I kept trying to hold on and at the same time, keep the waves from bouncing my face off the side of the aluminum boat. I remember Tim telling me we had to get me to the back of the boat. It didn’t register at first, I was thinking, the back side of the boat is just as tall as the front side we are on and it doesn’t have a hand rail? Then it hit me, the back of the boat silly, the engine sits on a swim step that is at water level. If I could get back there, I could climb in the boat just like I had done a thousand times growing up water skiing. I can’t remember if he asked me if I could make it to the back of the boat or told me we had to get to the back of the boat, whichever the case, I believe I responded with; “I don’t think I can scoot back there because I don’t have the strength to hold on without the rail”. Next thing I knew, he asked me if I was OK to hang on another second, I told him I was. Tim said he would be right back. Now I don’t know how long he was gone or how many waves crashed over me but It seemed like a blink of the eye and I heard his voice ask me if I could grab this. He was leaning over the rail, holding the mooring line loop end in front of my face.

I am not sure my exact words to him at this point but seeing that loop was like opening your first Christmas present. I grabbed the loop and pushed off the boat to make my way to the back. I was doing a poor version of the side stroke and I almost let go of the rope at this point. I had a wave crash into the back of me and it finally knocked my hat off. I wanted to look for the hat but noticed I couldn’t feel the rope in my hand so I pushed my fingers through the loop to grip it better and with the help of Tim pulling me to the boat I made it to the swim step. Tim was there on the step wrapping is arms around me pulling me up. I am still not sure how Tim made it to the back of the boat with the rope. There was a cabin he had to go around or through. I assume he went around on the rail (Think of Sheriff Brody from the Movie Jaws tip toeing to the back of the boat on the small walkway). Anyway, I had my right foot on the anti-ventilation plate that sits right above the engine propeller. I was thinking at the time; I hope the engine is off in case I slip. I didn’t want to get caught in the prop. With my foot in place, Tim pulling me on board, my right arm grasping the motor I tried to stand and pull myself up. I could tell I was spent. I didn’t have the strength to straighten my leg. Tim helped hoist me on the swim step. I told Tim I was good, I was going to sit on the step a second and catch my breath. Even there, we were being pounded by wave after wave. I finally got up and crawled onto the back deck. I had trouble lifting my legs due to the extra 50-pounds of water in each of my boots. In all the chaos, my hat was the only thing the ocean claimed, I still had keys, knives, wallet, money, oh and my life.

Once back at the harbor we filled the boat up with fuel and parked. We still had a boat to clean and fish to process. I told Tim I would do the cod at the house rather than there on the dock. I think that was my mind telling me I had enough fun for one day. We started planning our next trip before we got in our cars to leave the harbor that day.

I am thankful that I had Tim in my corner on that day, without him, I would not have been able to tell this story. I can’t repay Tim for his heroics, but I can pay him the gas money I still owe him for the trip.

(You can read more About this Ncredible story at http://www.mbmedia.co/man-overboard.html)

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When Your N1 Moment™ Is Brown

– By Brittany Pass

After 12 long days of hunting, I finally got my first archery bull. I had passed on a few bulls that were bigger then this guy, but with the rut never really picking up, and realizing the right one might not step out, I followed the old “if it’s brown it’s down” motto. I had a lot of fun, but it was by far the toughest hunt I’ve ever had.

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