December 2017
Howle's Hints

Reflection and Adaptation

“But I think my mistakes became the chemistry for my miracles.
I think that my tests became my testimonies.” ~ T. D. Jakes

December is a great month to reflect on the past year and look forward to turning the page to a new year. Questions you might ask yourself in December are what did I invest most of my time and money in over the last year? Were these things profitable? Did I make mistakes?

Obviously, time spent with family and friends or studying the Bible is always a good investment. However, if you look back over your bank statement or check register, you want to know things like where did your resources go and did your investments translate to profits?

Not all investments turn profits but they always result in education and experience. Sometimes, a heifer won’t breed or she is barren and must be sold. This education forces us to look harder at the animal’s background and ancestral breeding habits before purchasing future livestock. If you buy a flock of chickens and they systematically get snatched and eaten by an elusive hawk or yanked off the roost by an opossum, this education forces us to keep the chickens protected with wire, netting or some type of protective shelter. If you purchase an ATV for farm use and hunting and get a lemon, the education results in the response, "I’ll never buy that brand again."

This December, don’t dwell on any mistakes of the past year. Look upon the mistakes as education for the future, and your new year should be successful. In the words of Ben Franklin, "Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out."


Cover Your Scent


Starting a small teepee fire and feeding it with leaves can saturate your clothes and cover your scent with a nonalarming smell to deer.

You can spend a fortune on cover scents for deer hunting or you can cover your scent for free. Deer have an acute ability to detect any unfamiliar odor in their area, so it makes sense to cover your scents with natural, local smells. One of the best ways for hunting clothes is with the smoke from a small fire. You only have to build one the size of your hat to get the cover scent of smoke.

First, create a small teepee-style fire with twigs. Once the fire gets going, add leaves or pine straw to a degree thick enough to create smoke on the fire. Then, simply stand over the fire allowing the smoke to infuse your clothes. Fire is a naturally occurring event in the woods, so the smoke is a familiar, instinctual smell to the deer.

Another free cover scent is cow manure. Now, for this cover scent, you fortunately don’t have to put it on your clothes. Simply step into a pile or two on your way across the pasture to your hunting location. The smell of cow manure is familiar to deer and, therefore, perceived as nonthreatening.

Purposefully stepping into a pile of cow manure can cover your scent on a deer hunt.





You might, however, want to remove your boots before sitting down to the supper table that night to keep yourself from becoming threatened.

On a final note, wearing rubber boots helps eliminate odors as well. The leather in boots can trap scent molecules that can be carried around with you in the woods; rubber boots remain relatively scent free.



Steady the Shot

Joel Grubbs, coach of the Carroll County, Georgia, 4-H Rifle Team, gives us a tip this month on taking a steady shot. He says most people have always heard to hold your breath to take a shot. This presents a problem because your heart rate will gradually go up when you hold your breath, and this can make the shot unsteady. Instead, try to control your breathing on the exhale and be slowly squeezing the trigger as you reach the end of your exhale.

"Shooting at game is much different than shooting at a paper target," Grubbs said. "However, breathing control can add to the accuracy of your shot, even if you are experiencing a little deer fever."


Timed Trimmings

We have all heard that high-pitched scraping and squeaking sound briars make as the truck drives down overgrown access roads and firebreaks. December is an ideal time to trim back this growth from the roadsides and fence lines because much of the summer growth of broadleaves, briars and grasses has stopped. A gas-powered hedge trimmer makes quick work of cleaning fence lines and the sides of access roads.

Be cautious when cutting around fences, however. If you cut into a hanging strand of barbed wire, you can seriously dull or ruin your trimmer. Take your time and look carefully as you trim along the fences.


This December, as you reflect on the past year, don’t dwell on the mistakes made. Instead, look at the mistakes as learning points and adapt to avoid them for the coming new year.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.