Monthly Archives: January 2017

  • The Suburban Deer Slayer

    This month we check in with First Lite Team Member, Taylor Chamberlin, for another treatise on the finer points of hunting urban whitetails.

    IMG_8823 A typical suburban hunting scene. Photo: Author.

    Suburban deer hunting is fantastic. There are a multitude of properties within a short drive from your own home, an abundance of deer, relatively low hunter pressure, and a season that runs year-round. While all that is fantastic, there are plenty of hurdles that present themselves that make urban hunting a unique experience among itself. Some are funny, some are interesting, and all of them as a whole end up making urban archery the fun experience that it is.

    Overall, the entire process of hunting in an urban environment is different than hunting in a rural area. First off – you HAVE to get dressed in the field, and it’s not because of scent control! Being that there are so many people surrounding you, you don’t want anyone to see you in camouflage that doesn’t have to. The more you can be out of sight, the less issues you will have with anyone who might not agree with what you are doing. While what I’m doing is totally legal, ethical and needed by the deer herd, most anti-hunters will stop at nothing to confront you and ruin your hunt. I’ve had groups of protesters come into an area that I’m hunting banging pots and pans, making as much noise as possible, just to try and scare the deer away. Driving to the property that you are hunting and getting dressed in the field is the only way to do it.

    IMG_7208 Subtlety is key. Photo: Author.

    Along the same lines, it’s important to develop a system of HOW you hunt from the tree. I am fortunate that I have the ability to hunt almost every day of the season, and I make sure that I have enough properties to hunt that allow me to not burn out certain places and keep a rotation of going to different properties. It wouldn’t be possible for me to have a tree stand in every one of the locations that I hunt, because I would have thousands of dollars tied up in stands and steps. Over the years I have tested many different methods of climbing/hunting and have settled on a quick, quiet and safe way to hunt.

    When I initially get a property I will ask the homeowners when/where they are seeing deer and then try to pick a couple different trees to hunt from based on the wind. I will then climb those trees with my portable climbing sticks and saddle (that are always in the back of my truck) and prep the tree by trimming branches and clearing shooting lanes. I’ll mark the tree on my GPS, and make a note of what wind to hunt it from. When the time comes to come back and hunt that property, I’m able to check my notes on each tree and determine what wind is best, then slip in and hunt. I find this to be incredibly fast, quiet, and easy. Most of all, it’s better than a climber because you aren’t limited to what exact tree you can climb. Rather than hunting for a tree, I can hunt from the area that I want, or need to be in. On a property that’s ½ or ¼ of an acre, sometimes there are only one or two trees to choose from, so it’s very important!

    IMG_6883 A good-looking suburban buck. Photo: Author.

    Scouting in an urban area is also very different, and you have to take into account different factors that you wouldn’t even imagine when hunting in a rural area. Pinch points and saddles in urban areas can hide right under your nose, and areas that you might avoid in the country could be a hot spot in the ‘burbs. The first item that I always look for are man-made structures that will help funnel deer. Deer in the suburbs will always tend to walk to a fence, and then walk alongside it until they have the ability to turn off, making areas where something runs a long way total hot spots. Areas like fences, roads, downed trees, etc. are all areas that you might tend to avoid in the country, but can be total hot spots in urban areas. Sometimes even the best spot to hunt from is one that already exists. Deer are used to the structures that they see every day, and if a tree fort or elevated playground is in the right area, it can be a perfect spot to hunt from.

    When hunting in the suburbs, it’s also important to learn the normal movements of the neighborhood. Knowing what day and what time the trash trucks, school busses, mail men, and anyone else come and go are important. The deer know the normal patterns of the neighborhoods, and they will cater their movement to it. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that a trash truck will pull out after picking up trash, only to have 8+ deer pile out of their bedding area immediately after it leaves.

    File_003 A yard hunt. Photo: Author.

    Another aspect of scouting that’s completely different than hunting in the country is talking to people. I find that in rural areas, people are very secretive about telling people what they’re seeing and where they are hunting. In the suburbs, the homeowners and people that work in the area are a tremendous resource. I always ask the homeowners when and where they are seeing deer, and ask them to let me know if they start noticing a pattern of when they are seeing them. Most of my harvests are due to homeowner communication. They’re also a fantastic resource to talk to their neighbors for you to introduce you and turn one property of access into two. Over the years, I have also found that mailmen are a phenomenal resource. They know everyone in the neighborhood, and spend all day walking around with their eyes open. They can tell you when and where they are seeing deer, and they can introduce you to the property owner that owns the property where they tend to see deer.

    I think one of the hardest parts of urban hunting is also one of the best parts of it, and that’s dealing with all of the meat. If you’re a year-round hunter and you are dedicated to helping thin the herd out, then you will, without a doubt, need to figure out a way to deal with all of the deer you harvest. Fortunately for me, my state has a program that allows me to donate harvested deer to help feed the homeless and less fortunate. It’s a free service where I can drop off a field dressed deer at any butcher, and they will take care of the rest. I use this service A LOT, and really enjoy knowing that all the meat is going to a good cause. I also enjoy eating the deer myself, and feed my family and friends with the organic bounty. It doesn’t get more organic and grass fed than suburban deer!

    IMG_1542 Its all fun and games until some high school girls happen by the doe you have hanging under the deck. Photo: Author.

    I have designed my own meat processing station in my garage that allows me to be out of sight of the neighbors and people driving down the road. I used to process meat outside of my house under my deck, however, that stopped pretty quickly when my neighbor’s son had a group of high school girls come over to his house. When they parked and walked past my house (while I had a deer hanging on a gambrel about halfway through the quartering process) they started to scream and get upset. I’ve found the garage works much better for everyone!

    Overall, urban hunting isn’t easy. Due to the small size of the properties, lack of abundant browse, and the constant human interaction, deer in the suburbs tend to be nomadic. They’ll often roam over a huge core area, making them very hard to pattern and hunt successfully on a consistent basis. To routinely harvest urban deer, it requires you to spend many hours in a tree and pick your locations wisely, as well as having different systems in place of knowing when the deer are using a property, and being able to get there and hunt them quickly.  But when it’s done right, it’s one of the best ways to hunt. You have an endless supply of hunting properties within a short drive from your house, a year-round season, and plenty of game to harvest. I’d say it’s worth dealing with all the different intricacies without a doubt.

    First Lite Team Member, Taylor Chamberlain, lives in suburban Northern Virginia just south of DC and hunts whitetails roughly 150 days year.

  • An Open Letter: Together We Can Defend Our Public Lands

    First Lite's Co-Founder, Kenton Carruth, has joined with other outdoor industry CEOs in signing this open letter urging President-elect Trump and Congress to keep public lands public. Read on to add your voice and amplify the message. The original letter can be viewed on the Outdoor Industry Association's site.

    D8-05270-600x401 Without America's public lands First Lite wouldn't have a customer much less a place to live out our own passions. Photo: Taylor Kollman, Captured Creative.

    To our elected officials and those who value America’s great outdoors:

    This open letter expresses the view of more than 100 leaders of large and small businesses in the outdoor industry, which contributes more than $650 billion annually to the U.S. economy, generates $80 billion in tax revenue and employs more than 6 million people. Together, we represent a huge range of activities—from hiking to hunting and camping to conservation.

    Our businesses make the lives of everyday Americans, from every corner of the political spectrum, healthier and happier. We do not often unite as an industry in the way we are today but we are compelled to make clear our collective view on a vitally important issue that affects the economic health of our industry, our local communities, and the lives of all Americans.

    It is an American right to roam in our public lands. The people of the United States, today and tomorrow, share equally in the ownership of these majestic places. This powerful idea transcends party lines and sets our country apart from the rest of the world. That is why we strongly oppose any proposal, current or future, that devalues or compromises the integrity of our national public lands.

    Yet as the 115th Congress begins, efforts are underway that threaten to undermine over one hundred years of public investment, stewardship and enjoyment of our national public lands. Stated simply, these efforts would be bad for the American people. They include the potential of national public lands being privatized or given to states who might sell them to the highest bidder. This would unravel courageous efforts by leaders from across the political spectrum up to the present day, including Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

    This is not a red or blue issue. It is an issue that affects our shared freedoms. Public lands should remain in public hands.

    We hold these views both as leaders of the outdoor industry — which creates significant economic value for this country — and as individuals who believe deeply that the next generation should be free to benefit from our national public lands as we and our families do today.

    The undersigned companies are therefore working together to ensure that all Americans maintain their right to our iconic national public lands and that it is not taken away.

    * * *

    Outdoor Industry Association, Amy Roberts, Executive Director
    Adventure 16. John D. Mead, President
    Alpine Shop, Ltd., Russell Hollenbeck, President
    Appalachian Outfitters, Mike & Karen Leffler, Owners
    Ascent Solar Technologies, Victor Lee, President & CEO
    Backbone Media, Penn Newhard, Founder & Managing Partner
    Backcountry, Jonathan Nielsen, CEO
    Backcountry North, Tracy Mayer, Owner
    Backwoods Retail, Inc., Jennifer Mull, Owner & CEO
    Benchmade Knife Company, David Fee, Vice President
    BioLite, Jonathan Cedar, Founder & CEO
    Black Creek Outfitters, Joe & Liz Butler, Owners
    Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., John Walbrecht, President
    Braided River, Helen Cherullo, Executive Director
    Brook Hopper Consulting, Brook Hopper, Founder & CEO
    Brooks Running Company, Jim Weber, CEO
    Campmate, Chris Holt, CEO
    Cascade Designs, David Burroughs, President
    Cedar Ravine, Stephanie Carmi & Christine Stahr, Co-Founders
    CGPR LLC, Chris Ann Goddard, President
    Chaco, Seth Cobb, President
    Champaign Surplus, Dan & Shira Epstein, Owners
    Clif Bar & Company, Kevin Cleary, CEO
    Columbia Sportswear Company, Tim Boyle, President & CEO
    Combat Flip Flops, Matthew Griffin, CEO
    Concept III Textiles, Christopher Parkes, President
    Confluence Watersports, Sue Rechner, President & CEO
    Dakine, Ken Meidell, CEO
    Darn Tough Vermont, Ric Cabot, President & CEO
    Denali, Chris Howe, Owner
    Diamond Brand Outdoors, Will Gay, Owner
    DPS Skis, Stephan Drake, Owner
    Eagle Creek, Roger Spatz, President
    Eastside Sports, Chris Iversen & Todd Vogel, Co-Owners
    eGrips, Chris Klinke, President
    Elevenpine, Jeff Curran, CEO
    Equinox Ltd., Robert Cross, President
    Exxel Outdoors, LLC, Harry Kazazian, CEO
    Far Bank Enterprises, Travis Campbell, President & CEO
    Feral Mountain Co., Jimmy Funkhouser, Owner
    First Lite, Kenton Carruth, Co-Founder and Owner
    Fishpond, John Land Le Coq, Founder & CEO
    Flowfold, James Morin, Owner & COO
    Garmont, Bill Dodge, CEO
    Goal Zero, William Harmon, General Manager
    Good To-Go, David Koorits, Founder
    Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, Rich Hill, President
    Great Outdoor Provision Co., Travis Zarins, Owner
    GU Energy Labs, Brian Vaughan, Founder/CEO
    Hipcamp, Alyssa Ravasio, Founder & CEO
    HippyTree, Andrew Sarnecki, Founder/CEO
    Hydro Flask, Scott Allan, General Manager
    Ibex Outdoor Clothing, Ted Manning, CEO
    IceMule Coolers, James Collie, Founder/CEO
    Idaho Mountain Touring, Chris & Jill Haunold, Owners
    IPA Connect, Andy Marker, President/Founder
    JanSport, Steve Munn, President
    Jax Mercantile Co., Jim Quinlan, President
    Kammok, Haley Robison, CEO
    Keen, Casey Sheahan, CEO
    Klean Kanteen, Jim Osgood, President & CEO
    Kokatat, Steve O’Meara, Founder/CEO
    Kuhl, Kevin Boyle, President
    La Sportiva N.A., Inc., Jonathan Lantz, President
    Light Speed Outdoors, Brian Cox, CEO
    L.L. Bean, Stephen Smith, President & CEO
    Lucy, Laurie Etheridge, President
    Manzanita Outdoor LLC, David Wheeler, Owner
    Massey’s Outfitters, Mike Massey, President
    Merrell, Inc., Jim Zwiers, President
    MiiR, Bryan Papé, Founder & CEO
    MONTANE, Jake Doxat, Managing Director
    Mountain Hardwear, Dennis Randall, CMO
    Mountain Khakis, Ross Saldarini, President
    Mountain Safety Research (MSR), Chris Parkhurst, Vice President
    Mountain Works, Inc., Jim Smith, President
    MTI Adventurewear, Lili Colby, Owner
    My Outdoor Alphabet, Seth Neilson, CEO
    Native Eyewear, John Sanchez, General Manager
    Nau International, Inc., Mark Galbraith, General Manager
    Nemo, Cam Brensinger, CEO
    New Balance, Rob DeMartini, President & CEO
    Nikwax North America, Rick Meade, President
    Oboz Footwear, John Connelly, CEO
    Oru Kayak, Roberto Gutierrez, Founder & CCO
    Orvis, Perk Perkins, CEO
    Osprey Packs, Layne Rigney, President
    Outdoor Research, Dan Nordstrom, CEO
    Outside Brands / Outside Hilton Head, Mike Overton, CEO
    Pack & Paddle, John Williams, President
    Pack Rat Outdoor Center, Scott & Carolyn Crook, Founders
    Packtowl, Doug Jacot, Vice President
    Patagonia, Rose Marcario, President & CEO
    Peak Design, Peter Dering, Founder & CEO
    Petzl America, Nazz Kurth, President
    Piragis Northwoods Company, Steve Piragis, Owner
    Pistil Designs, Todd Douglass, Forrest Jones & Pete Hixson
    Platypus, Doug Jacot, Vice President
    Point6, Peter Duke, CEO
    Portland WoolenMills, Doug Hoschek & Tina Machuca, Owners
    prAna Living, Scott Kerslake, CEO
    Ramsey Outdoor, Stuart and Michael Levine, Owners
    Redington, Travis Campbell, President & CEO
    Red Lantern Journeys, Ambrose Bittner, Founder
    REI Co-op, Jerry Stritzke, President & CEO
    Rio, Travis Campbell, President & CEO
    Rising Tide Associates, David Costello, Principal
    River Sports Outfitters, Ed McAlister, Owner
    Roads Rivers and Trails, Emily White, Co-Founder & Owner
    Rock Creek Outfitters, Dawson Wheeler, Founder
    Roots Rated, Fynn Glover, Founder/CEO
    Royal Robbins, Michael Millenacker, CEO
    Ruffwear, Patrick Kruse, R&D Director & Founder
    Rutabaga Paddlesports, Darren Bush, Owner & CEO
    rygr, Brian Holcombe, Principal
    Sage, Travis Campbell, President & CEO
    Salewa North America, Brian Mecham, General Manager
    Sanitas Sales Group, Keith Reis, President
    SCARPA North America, Kim Miller, CEO
    SealLine, Doug Jacot, Vice President
    Simms, K.C. Walsh, President & CEO
    Skinny Skis, Phil Leeds & Scott O’Brien, Owners
    Soar Communications, Chip Smith, President
    Sorel, Mark Nenow, President
    Stanley PMI, Kelly Kraus, Vice President, Stanley Brand
    Stio, Stephen Sullivan, Founder/ CEO
    Summit Hut, Dana Davis, President & Co-Owner
    Sunday Afternoons, Inc., Sarah Sameh, CEO
    Sunlight Sports, Wes Allen, Owner
    Superfeet Worldwide, John Rauvola, CEO
    Tahoe Mountain Sports, Dave Polivy, Co-Owner
    Tenkara USA, Daniel Galhardo, Founder & CEO
    Terra, PR, Alli Noland, Founder
    The Base Camp, Scott Brown, Owner
    The Mountaineer, Vinny McClelland, President
    The North Face, Scott Baxter, Group President
    The Outbound Collective, Brian Heifferon, Founder & CEO
    The Trail Head, Todd Frank, Owner
    The Toggery, Trek Stephens, President
    Therm-a-Rest Brands, Doug Jacot, Vice President
    Timberland, Jim Pisani, President
    Toad&Co, Gordon Seabury, CEO (& OIA board chair)
    Topo Athletic, Tony Post, Founder & CEO
    Trail Creek Outfitters, Ed Camelli & Brian Havertine, Owners
    Trango, Chris Klinke, President
    Travel Country, Mike Plante, Owner
    Trek Light Gear, Seth Haber, Founder & CEO
    22 Designs, Chris Valiante, Owner
    Ute Mountaineer, Bob Wade & Maile Spung, Owners
    Vans, Doug Palladini, President
    Verde Brand Communications, Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, President
    VF Corporation, Steve Rendle, President & CEO
    Weighmyrack, Allison Dennis, Founder & CEO
    Western Spirit Cycling, Ashley Korenblat, CEO
    What’s UP Public Relations, Beth L. Cochran, Founder/Owner
    Wild Things, LLC, Edward M. Schmults, CEO
    Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., Blake Krueger, CEO
    Woolrich, Inc., Nick Brayton, President
    Yakima Products, Ryan Martin, CEO
    Zumiez, Inc., Tom Campion, Founder & Chairman

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