Saturday, April 25, 2009

My New Blog...

Please take a moment to check out my new blog Whitetails For Women and tell me what you think.

Why a new blog?

When I started Camp Chicken Chronicles, it was really just a family blog. My brother Chris, sister-in-law Judy, and nephew Ross live far away in Spokane Washington. Arlene's grandson, Clifton was serving his third tour in Iraq. The Chronicles was a way to let them know what we were up to and to entertain them with our sometimes crazy camp activities.

Now, I didn't know anything about the "blogoshere". I don't use Facebook, text on my cellphone, have a MySpace page and the only blog I had ever even looked at was my sister-in-law's blog, Cheery Tomato Productions. I was seriously out of the blogging loop. But, after reading Judy's blog, I thought it looked like fun. So I went to blogger and started creating my blog.

I spent about two weeks with the design and soon I was happily blogging away.

To my surprise, Kristine of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit and Marian at Marian's Hunting Stories, stopped by for a visit one day. They were so nice and so encouraging and I was surprised to think that anyone but our families would be even vaguely interested in my little blog.

Soon other people began to stop by and offer kind words and I met all kinds of wonderful people that belong to the OBS, a dedicated group of men and women who love the outdoors and blog about it everyday.

I used to write all the time when I was in my teens and twenties but somehow, along the way, I stopped. I had even dreamed of becoming a writer but was either too lazy or became discouraged and gave up my dream. But, blogging became an outlet for my self-expression. I found that I still really enjoyed writing and the challenge of fitting words together on paper.

Blogging is wonderful because you can use words and pictures to express yourself.

But, I haven't answered my own question, why a new blog???

I found that I had lots and lots of ideas for things to write about that just didn't fit with the family feel of the Chronicles and I didn't want to lose that unique "voice" that the Camp Chicken Chronicles has.

So, I decided to start a totally new blog that talks about Whitetail Deer Hunting from a woman's perspective and includes a way for women to share their hunting experiences. I'd really like the blog to have a community feel for all of the great women who are as passionate about whitetail deer hunting as I am.

This doesn't mean that I'll stop blogging about Camp Chicken! It is a place that is deep in my heart, bones and blood and if I could, I would be buried there when I die. I belong to it more than I belong to any other place on the face of the earth and that will never change.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

The entire country is looking for some activity to do today to help the environment and celebrate Earth Day. I was going to do this big blog about saving the planet, stopping Global Warming and doing something ecologically sound for Mother Nature and on and on.

But, I realized that I would be "Preaching To The Choir"!

Outdoorsmen and women are active 365 days of the year doing things that benefit Mother Earth and the environment.

There is no other group of people who do more for conservation than sportsmen and sportswomen. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation "Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts have historically led the fight for conservation and wildlife resource management, benefiting all Americans."

"Through license fees and special excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, they (hunters and outdoor enthusiasts) currently contribute more than $4.7 million each day for the benefit of wildlife."*

Not to mention the billions of dollars that we pump into the state and federal economies buying all of the goods and services that relate to the outdoor activities we participate in.

Hunters were America's First Environmentalists.

And are we thanked for saving America's wildlife and wild, beautiful places?? Heck no! We are vilified as blood-thirsty demons who prey on innocent Disney-like creatures.

So here is an idea of what all outdoor-loving men and women can do for Earth Day. Take the day off! You've earned it. And get out there and enjoy the Outdoors.

*If you want to read the rest of this great article go to The Hunter and Conservation

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Native American Way

While celebrating the birth of Arlene's newest great-grandchild, I've been thinking a great deal about my friend.

Arlene is a member of the Bear Clan. In the Anishnabe culture, the Bear Clan were the warriors and protectors of the people. Arlene's native name is Mosadem, (I probably have the spelling wrong), which loosely translates as the "Bear who walks where she wants". The name fits her perfectly as she is strong, independent, brave, and insists on doing what she considers the right thing no matter what other people may think. Bear clan members are devoted to family and fiercely protective of their family members and so is she.

Being Arlene's friend has allowed me the privilege of attending many native ceremonies and functions. Native people have a different way of looking at the outdoor world and the creatures that inhabit it. Traditional native people believe that all things in the Creator's universe have a spirit; trees, rocks, plants and the animals and birds. While this seems at odds with our European religions, it makes sense to me for some reason.

Arlene never really fears any of the animals that prowl the Camp Chicken forests. She views us as intruders into their space and that the animals really mean us no harm. They will choose to avoid contact with us whenever possible unless they want us to see them.

I'll never forget the time we were out for a ride while at Camp and we spotted a bear back in the field. He or she was headed away from us when I pulled the car over so that we could watch him. Suddenly, he stopped,turned and stood up to look right at us. He half-raised a paw as if in greeting and then slowly turned and ambled away. I looked at Arlene and said, "what was that all about?". She explained that he recognized her as being Bear Clan and was greeting her. I must admit that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand right up.

Native people believe that we should live in harmony with the natural world and that Mother Earth will provide for us everything that we need. But, we must respect her and treat her as a sacred being. I do my best to try and follow this teaching. I am encouraged by the new interest in green initiatives and the fight against global warming.

Native people understand that there has to be a balance and that we ignore that philosophy at our own peril. Unless we try and change our bad habits, Mother Earth will lose patience with us and correct the unbalanced condition herself perhaps with catastrophic consequences.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Congratulations to Arlene!!

Congratulations to Arlene! She is a great-grandma for the FOURTH time. Little Chayse Daniel was born April 14 at 10:06 PM. Mother and baby are both fine. Chayse will be a little outdoorsman for sure and even has some camo-baby clothes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Camp Chicken Got Its Name

Excepts from the Camp Chicken Diary...

That first fall, our friend Kathy wanted to come and help us and stay at camp. Now Kathy was not used to the woods at all and I don't think she slept one wink that first night at camp. Pop-up campers are really just a tent on wheels and you can hear every twig snap and noise from outside.

Now I hadn't really spent much time in the woods since I was about 13 and I was now in my middle 40's. The night noises at camp kept me awake also. I never knew that the woods could be such a noisy place at night. Don't these animals ever sleep?? There were coyote howls, brush cracking, twigs snapping, crickets chirping, some terrible screeching that Arlene said was an owl and all kinds of other noises.

But, for that September, we went to camp every single weekend. We fell into a sort of routine. We would get there on Friday night and hustle to get the pop-up set up and everything unpacked before dark. Mom and Dad would usually pull in right behind us and give us a hand. We would drag an old truck rim that Arlene found out of it's hiding spot and build a fire and cook some dinner. Sometimes we just had cold sandwiches.

Saturdays were spent hacking brush and trying to reclaim the camp clearing. We worked like dogs. Mom and Gram would come up for a visit every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Every night Arlene would sleep like a baby. Kathy wouldn't sleep at all and I slept with one eye open, alert for any sound. Kathy and I were sure that a big bear would sneak up on us and grab us in that pop-up camper. The camper didn't seem to offer much protection against a squirrel let alone a bear.

When we went to bed at night, we would turn off the Coleman lantern and set it on the picnic table which was right by the camper.

One particular night, at about 2:00 AM, I could hear some rustling outside. Suddenly, there was a huge CRASH, BANG and the sound of breaking glass.

Kathy and I sat up in bed and faced each other. "Was that noise inside or outside?", I asked. "Outside," Kathy replied. "I'm not going out there to see," I said. "Neither am I," she replied.

We both crawled back under the covers and pulled them right up over our heads.

Now, unknown to us, Arlene was awake and heard the whole exchange.

When morning came, we went out to investigate the sound. Something, probably a raccoon, had knocked the Coleman lantern off of the picnic table and it had fell onto the seat and then onto the ground, shattering the lantern glass.

The next afternoon when Mom and Gram came up for their visit, Arlene said, "Welcome to Camp Chicken, Gloria!" With much glee, she related the story of how scared Kathy and I had been by the midnight intruder.

And from that moment on, "The Forty" became "Camp Chicken".

Arlene painted a sign and even found a piece of wood that she carved to look like a chicken to hang from the sign.

So, now you know how Camp Chicken got it's name.

Camp Chicken - The Beginning

From the Camp Chicken Diary

Camp Chicken never used to be called Camp Chicken, it was always called "The Forty" even though it is actually 80 acres. It was always called "The Forty" by my Grandparents, Gladys and Elmer Rutledge.

In 1996, Arlene got this brainstorm that we should go camping again. We used to go tent-camping but since sleeping in a tent on the hard ground had little allure for me, she suggested that we buy a pop-up camper. I agreed and we went to our local dealer and got a real good deal on a 1995 model with a regular size bed in one end and a queen size bed in the other.

We tried going to a state forest campground but the weekend that we were there, a bunch of locals partied drunkenly for most of the time we were there. I refused to go to any more public campgrounds after that.

Arlene suggested that we ask Mom if we could camp at "The Forty" and she said we could. Now, Mom, Dad, and Grandpa and Grandma used to use the property to garden and there were two large meadows of about 3-4 acres in size that used to be big gardens. But, they hadn't been used in about 15 years!

Nature has a way of reclaiming the land and boy had it! The once huge meadow was now a mass of spruce and poplar thicket. There was one small clearing left by the old red trailer that was about 30 feet by 40 feet and the rest was woods. Dad brought up the lawn mower and mowed a spot for us to park the pop-up.

That first September weekend, Arlene, her grandson, Arnie who was about 9, and I camped out. After dark we only had the light from the fire to illuminate the dark and boy was it dark. All around us the forest creatures could be heard moving around us as they weren't used to intruders into their domain.

The very next morning, armed only with a hand saw and a hatchet, we set to work to reclaim the meadow. Arlene said that we had to limb the spruce trees up high enough so that we could see further out into the woods and more importantly so that the animals could see us and avoid walking right into camp.

We had no outhouse so you had to take a shovel, go dig a hole to do your business and then cover it up. Yikes. We had no water except what we could carry and only the power that was in the trailer battery. When that went dead we were out of lights. We hadn't even thought to bring a lantern.

But, our dog Bear loved it. I tied him up the first few weekends we went to camp until I was sure that he wouldn't take off into the woods. After that, he had the run of camp.

Mom, Dad and Gram liked it too. They hadn't been up there much in recent years. Oh, Dad and Mom would come up in the fall and spring to cut wood but never to just sit around and enjoy the woods.

So that first weekend, we worked really hard at pushing back some of the forest. Mom and Gram came up for a visit both Saturday and Sunday and watched with some amusement as we hacked away at the spruce limbs.

But, you know what? It felt great to be outdoors!