Author Archives: Chris Mann

So, You Think You’re Zeroed In?

Flash back to October 6th. Opening day of bow season and I’m in Blacksburg, VA with Field Editor, Zac Stovall, both of us were itching to get into the woods.  The start of the season was looking grim until the sun started going down and then sound of whitetail began filling the woods. I heard a noise behind me and spotted three does coming up the woods.  After watching them for a bit I thought to myself “why not take a shot, its opening day, you got this”.  I was wrong.  Letting my arrow fly only to miss a good piece of tenderloin.  All that practice and hurry to miss my first shot, I have to be the worst bow hunter ever.

6am in the morning a few weeks later, I decided to hit up the farm.  Hunting national forest is a love of mine but this morning private land was just too convenient.  Glazing at a doe in my head light while it was still dark, I was pretty sure it was a going to be a good morning.  At the first of the season I was excited and rusty.  About 3 hours into the hunt I was surprised by a small, basket rack 8 pointer.  This deer snuck up on my blind and got so close there was no way to miss, wrong again.  Who knows what happened, first buck of the year and I hold my record with a bow. Nada.

Finally, early muzzleloading season in Virginia opened up last Saturday.  I was trying to get to Asheville, NC that evening to meet up with Zac at the WNC Fly Fishing Expo and not sleeping well the night before left me with little time in the woods.  I was already up not so bright and early but I was intent on making the best of my day.  I headed out to my blind where I saw the basket rack the week before just wasting time; hell I didn’t even eat breakfast and forgot my facemask and gloves.  The sun was just coming over the hill when I heard a rustle and I perked up real quick. Coming through a thicket straight towards me was a decent size buck with only one horn.  Normally I wouldn’t shoot a smaller buck but I was tired of missing and I was hungry. With one smokey shot, I dropped my first buck of the season.  It was then time for a quick much needed nap.

spike So, You Think Youre Zeroed In?

     Any sort of hunting of any sort is an exciting experience for me.  When I’m in the woods I always think I’m ready and all zeroed in but in nature things change.  Sometimes you have luck when you’re not even trying.  I hope everyone feels the euphoria of being out there chasing down the big one.  Don’t get mad about missing, killing a smaller one than your buddy or not seeing a thing.  Just smile and think that’s just another day you’ll get to hunt for that living room hanger.  Wish me luck for the Deertour, I’ll need it.


Opening Day Memoirs

Dear Spouses,

I am very sorry for the insanity and excitement that coincides with the next 2 months. The official start of deer season is upon us. We hunters of meat, apologize for all the parties, dinners, movies, football games that will be missed on our pursuit of the monster we have been yearning for all year. Fall has begun and the air smells fresh bringing along the movement of all wildlife getting ready for the winter. Back in simpler times when hunting was accepted by all and was dependent on as means for survival, the elation of a thrilling hunt was just as high then as now. Something about Saturday morning, bright and early, brings a smile to my face and the feel of Christmas morning. Virginia is one of the hardest places to hunt in my mind, but I intend to do my best and wish all the luck to every hunter in the woods. Be safe, be happy, and eat what you shoot.


IMG 05421 Opening Day Memoirs


The Sickness

In today’s modern world it seems that everyone is gearing up for the so-called “Zombie Apocalypse”. This ‘disease’ is supposedly uncontrollable and makes one go insane and have an uncanny urge to hunt for meat. I believe it’s already here and in the form of Buck Fever, scary huh? I know we all feel it in some sort of way, whether its shaking as you draw your bow back for the first time in months or sighting in a new scope. As the days get cooler and fall approaches more and more hunters are getting ready for hunting season in southwest Virginia. One mention of whitetail in my local sporting goods store and out come the phones and trail cam pictures of trophy bucks in velvet in hopes that they will stay around till the rut. In the mountains of my local hunting grounds more and more trucks are starting to appear in honey holes looking for signs. Anywhere one goes this time of year holds stories of last year’s hunts and the excitement of this year. My fellow employees start bringing in new gear and hunting strategies, which they are more than happy to share, everyone becomes a salesman of the products that helped them kill the big one. So, in my opinion, the whole zombie worry doesn’t hold a candle to Buck Fever.

imagejpeg 2 261 The Sickness

The Forgotton Season

SUNP0021 300x210 The Forgotton Season It just happens to be my favorite animal in these parts and also the most fun to watch, the squirrel. In Virginia, the spring squirrel season opens up on Saturday June, 2nd and runs through June 16th. I enjoy hunting and mainly watching these little boogers (except when they disrupt the deer hunt) but see no reason to hunt them in the hot summer heat. If you harvest any during this season, check them for Warbles, bot fly larva or whatever you may have been brought up to call them. The meat is still edible but may spook an inexperienced hunter, I choose to let them be until the cold weather comes and we battle for my favorite tree stand. Squirrels also have their young in spring, which brings new life to the habitat we enjoy so much. All this is thought about when different seasons roll around but I always stick to my main rule: If you shoot it, eat it.

Sunday hunting, wonder what that feels like?

This past weekend spring turkey opened up in Tennessee while my weekend resulted in wasted gas and a spider bite. These events together got my wheels turning and got me ranting on another subject: Blue laws. Our neighbors across the border in TN get to enjoy the privilege of hunting on Sunday, sunrise to sunset.

I work all week while daydreaming about the woods and the beginning of another hunt just to come to the realization that I can only squeeze one day of hunting in. I make the best of my time off but the fees that Virginia has for all of us hunters are getting greater and close places to hunt are becoming few and far between.

Virginia lawmakers have been addressing this issue slowly but surely. On the weekends people want to relax and do what makes them happy, being outdoors is my vice and hunting falls right in. Until this is fixed, I guess groundhogs or the occasional coyote on the farm is the only Sunday hunting one can justify.

Here’s a nice graphic to show Sunday hunting regulations in the United States that was posted by PAFOA  (Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association).

sundayhunting Sunday hunting, wonder what that feels like?


Freshwater, Fires and Feelin’ Good

Testing the accuracy of today’s weatherman, I ventured into the mountains last weekend for some much needed camping and relaxing with family and friends.  I headed to Straight Branch, back to some of my favorite trout fishing waters.  Some of you might remember back when there was a trout season and it kicked off the second weekend in March.  Nowadays, we can catch all year round.   Since then fewer people seem to celebrate this weekend but, this year was different. The forecast of storms and the lack of trout stocking didn’t seem to bother anyone, the riverbanks and camping spots were filled.

Driving through the trail-town of Damascus, Virginia towards the base of mountains, everyone seemed to be out enjoying the sun. I drove up the mountain to discover that the banks and camping spots along the rivers and streams were full of anglers, hikers, and bikers, both young and old. I enjoy seeing people out sharing the joys of the mountains with one another. Night came along with a few bursts of rain but, only to last a few minutes. The campfire followed and the stories commenced.

Since my dad and uncles contain a world of information from being lifetime outdoorsmen in these mountains, I tend to listen. With turkey season coming up, I got the scoop on some better spots, techniques to use, and of course the conversation shifted to a contest of who walked further or had the toughest hunt.  ‘I hiked 10 miles uphill in the snow’ kind of thing.  Guy Stuff.  Midnight came and I was beat.

The next day I got up early, had a good breakfast and decided I would travel on up the mountain to one of my favorite public hunting lands for a look-see.  St. Patrick’s Day has never been this nice, the sun was blazing and the wildlife was abundant. Deer were spotted briefly in clearings up around Fox Creek and the birds and rabbits were darting in and out of the brush and fence-rows. At one spot along my journey I noticed some beaver work that hasn’t been seen in the area in a while. I didn’t get much fishing done this weekend but I did manage to swing by a couple of the spots that we had talked about over the campfire and got game plan for next month. Good weekend indeed.

Downtime in SWVA, Now What?

Here in southwest Virginia I am blessed by having access to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains all year round and all within a twenty-minute drive of my home. Virginia is lucky enough to have hunting seasons nearly all year and only a few months of downtime.  I use this time period to relax, gather my thoughts, fish a little bit and get ready for a fresh start to the next season. The country and mountain roads can almost guarantee a vast part of the SWVA population doing the same thing, it’s part of the culture and the heritage that drives us.

Spring is nearing which means spring turkey and squirrel seasons are upon us. During these seasons I like to hunt my regular whitetail spots just to check deer patterns and clean up any debris that may have fallen during the storms. Anybody that lives here could vouch for this past year’s tornado-fueled spring and winter. Maybe this is my alternative to being an average turkey hunter, but I do enjoy being out there. Squirrel season usually consist of wandering through the woods with a buddy, telling tall tales, planning the next hunt and occasionally picking off a squirrel with the ole’ .22 plinker.

The summer downtime is on it’s way too, not to worry though because one can hit the fields for some long range  groundhog action or fish a little in our mountain streams.  Summer is prime time to work on your food plots and trail cameras, get out there and spend some good quality time in the woods to ensure you can add another monster on your wall this year.

017 300x224 Downtime in SWVA, Now What?