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Welcome everybody to another episode of Whitetail Rendezvous. Today, we’re very fortunate to have a lady that’s making a difference in the outdoor world. Specifically, I want to introduce Marti Davis Afield, a columnist at Women’s Outdoor News.com, and she’s going to-, her own website is going to be up at Marti Davis Afield. Marti Davis, welcome to Whitetail Rendezvous.
Marti: Thanks for having me.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about you in the outdoors, Women’s Outdoor News, and your up-and-coming new blog and website. So let’s talk about Marti Davis first, and hunting tradition.
Marti: Okay. Well, I actually got a late start in it. Back in my mid-20s- a little over 15 years ago – Jimmy, my husband who is an avid outdoorsman also, introduced me to deer hunting and at times since then he’s probably questioned his sanity or mine. But he introduced me to deer hunting and it just snowballed from there and it’s, you know, deer hunting is . . . it’s all my passion, the outdoors and all type of things is my passion but deer hunting is my favorite.
Interviewer: And, who taught you how to hunt, or who instilled the tradition to hunt? That’s a better way to ask the question.
Marti: Okay, several people. You know, like I said Jimmy my husband he was the first one to take me, but I grew up in a hunting family. My dad and my brother both hunted as I was growing up and when I started hunting, they started helping me also, teaching me. Friends and mentors along the way, Brenda Valentine was very instrumental in helping me. I went to the Women’s Outdoor program at the local Bass Pro Shops years ago and took an archery class from her and that next week I was buying a bow and that next year I was bow hunting. So, it’s lots of people. Family. Friends. Just good people that are willing to help a new hunter out and since then, I figure turn about’s fair play. So, I do what I can to help new hunters, youth hunters, anybody that’s interested in listening to me.
Interviewer: Talk to us about your column in Women’s Outdoor News.
Marti: I’ve been a columnist for Women’s Outdoor News for several years now, and it started out originally as the Marti Moment and then we changed it to Marti Davis Afield, and recently we’ve been doing some ask Marti columns where readers can send in a question and I’ll answer them and write about them. There’s viewer views, just my personal experience with products, my personal experiences from the field, and just sharing them with the readers.
interviewer: Just in a synopsis, of ladies or women looking at hunting or they’re already in hunting that are asking your questions, or asking you questions?
Marti: I’d say some of each. Some of its new and it’s not just hunting it’s also shooting and personal protection. Some recent column’s question we had was they wanted to get a handgun, but they didn’t know which way to even start. And then there’s people maybe be hunting for several years and, “What do you think about this?” And just try to share, and I think every time I go out in the woods, every time I go on a hunt, I learn something. It’s an ongoing education.
Interviewer: Yes it is. When I go silent, I’m taking notes. If you had a group of women in front of you that had thought about hunting, had limited exposure to it, but they came to hear what you had to say to help them get into the game, what are the five things that you would tell them right off the bat that are kind of, “Here’s five things that if you can handle this or you can do that, then you’re well on your way.”
Marti: Okay, five things for new women that want to get into hunting. Number one . . .
Interviewer: Yes . . . go ahead.
Marti: Number one, get equipment that fits you. You know guns, bows, those aren’t always hand-me-down items, unless they fit you right. If you don’t have the proper equipment you may not be comfortable out there. Somebody gives you – say you want to go deer hunting, rifle hunting – and they hand you a 7 mm – yes, it’ll get the job done. You may not enjoy it, it’s gonna kick pretty good. Get something that fits you. Get the right gear for you. Same as the clothing. You know there’s more and more clothing lines making camo clothing and hunting clothing for ladies that are cut to fit them. The more comfortable we are, the more comfortable we be out in the woods, the longer we’ll be able to sit out there and be comfortable, and have more opportunities to see game and get shot opportunities. Explore possible classes to attend, such as women in the outdoors beyond… women in the outdoors programs through the National Wild Turkey Federation are great – that’s how I learned a lot of things when I first started hunting, was attending those classes. Your local state conservation or DNRs, a lot of those have women’s programs for new hunters and new shooters, so explore those programs. Get a mentor, whether it’s a family member or a friend, and just shadow them and learn what you can from them. And then, patience. Patience is key with hunting. Don’t give up too quick.
Interviewer: Let’s go back and talk about a mentor. There might be some listeners that say, “Wait a minute, my family never hunted, and where I work there’s no ladies that hunt.” What suggestions would you have for that person?
Marti: With the Internet and the websites with forums and Facebook and Facebook groups, you have to be wary of who you trust on there, but you can get on some of those sites and find some other ladies that would be willing to work with you and mentor you, and guide you along the way. But that would be some great places to find like-minded ladies that are willing to help you.
Interviewer: Does Women’s Outdoor News have any specific areas – you just said Ask Marti. So if a lady came to you and said, “Hey, I live in X, it’s in the suburbs, I really want to hunt,” and she lives in Ohio. What would you tell her?
Marti: I would try, if I didn’t have somebody that I knew of associated with WomensOutdoorNews.com, I would try and get online and find some good local organizations to match her up with. The columnists and the ladies involved with women’s outdoor news are from all over the U.S., so there’s a good chance we might have somebody in that area and if we don’t, well there’s lots of avenues we can search for somebody that would be willing to help her.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about how you personally are in Women’s Outdoor News is working with the youth to get them away from their devices and into the outdoors.
Marti: Well me personally, I have a nephew and a niece. Actually I have two nieces and a nephew, and my nephew is totally into hunting. He does the gaming and the airsoft guns and stuff like that but he’s really into hunting, so he’s the easy one. My niece, my youngest niece, she is all about shopping and fashion and watching her videos and playing some games and stuff. But we don’t pressure her, but we give her the opportunity every chance we can, and a while back, Barb actually had our publisher from [inaudible 00:09:41] actually had a rifle loop, met a girl 22 single-shot rifle she needed to use to test out for her. And I offered it to Sarah, and I told her it was a pink camo rifle. And when I showed her a picture of it and she says, “Yeah, I’d like to try that.” So just give them the opportunity. You don’t want to force it on them. You don’t want to take them out there and keep them out there too long, but you want to give them those opportunities, and give them the chances and one day they might just say, “Yeah I’d like to try that, and just get the ball rolling.”
Interviewer: Let’s talk about the single moms out there. And they really want to try something new. We talked already about some ladies have shared that hunting empowers them. What advice would you give to a single mom that really wants to get into the outdoors?
Marti: I know our local Missouri conservation department has a program that’s not just for women, it’s for families. And a lot of these are single parent homes and single mom homes, and we see a lot of them bringing their kids to those type of events where they all can learn together. They can get exposed together to these outdoor activities. Hunting, even eating wild game, trying it for the first time. And programs like that are great for single parents, single moms, with kids and trying to get them into the outdoors and get them out of the house and more active.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about whitetails, and what’s your favorite seasons and your favorite weapon – a bow or a rifle?
Marti: When it comes to deer hunting, whichever season is open is my favorite. If I had to pick one, if I had to pick just one though it would be the muzzleloader season over in Southern Illinois. And I’m Southwest Missouri gal, born and raised and I love hunting around here too, but the deer in Southern Illinois – the quantity is higher over there, the quality is much higher over there due to the fact that they’ve got crop fields too. They’re not surviving on just acorns and the grasses and stuff we have around here in Southwest Missouri. I’ve been hunting over in Southern Illinois for oh, eight or nine years now, and that’s what I save my vacation for is those muzzleloader hunts in early and mid-December over in Illinois.
Interviewer: What kind of muzzleloader? Let’s talk about what gear you use for muzzleloading whitetails.
Marti: Yeah. Mossy Oak camouflage. When it comes to my muzzleloader, I have a Thompson/Center. Actually I have three Thompson/Center muzzleloaders. The pro hunter encore is the one that’s most versatile, of course. I’ve got muzzleloader barrel for it. I’ve got center-fire rifle barrels for it. I’ve got a 12-gauge turkey barrel for it. And it’s just very versatile. A it’s little bit lighter than some of the other muzzle loaders and such since it’s got break action. But Thompson/Center muzzleloaders are my favorite. Moultrie trail cameras are what I like to use to keep the tabs on, help do my scouting for me. I make two or three trips over the Illinois before the season and get cameras out over there and go over and check them and stuff to see what’s going on while I’m not there. And Bushnell optics . . .
Interviewer: How about your optics?
Marti: And then Bushnell optics are what I use on all my rifles and my binoculars and my range-finder.
Interviewer: Foot gear?
Marti: As far as foot gear, I like especially December in Illinois – it can kind of fall and winter in South Missouri can be pretty sizzle. It can be sweating one day and freezing temperatures the next, but muck boots are my go-to boots for over there because when we’re hunting creek bottoms like to flood out, so I typically wear my muck boots over there. When I go to a hiker, then I like to use the LOWA hiking boots. They’re very comfortable, no break-in period on them.
Interviewer: You use ground blinds? Tree stands? Climbers?
interviewer: All the above, huh?
Marti: Yes, yes. Yeah, yeah. But typically I hunt out of either ladder stand or ground blind, or we’ve got a bunch of elevated shoot houses over on the farm in Illinois. But I’ve just kind of gotten away from hang-on stands just because well number one the ladder stands are more comfortable and they’re easier to get into. A few years back I actually had a tree stand accident. I was getting ready to climb out of a stand and it had been misting rain all day and I was doing one of the things you’re not supposed to do, which was climbing on limbs and that first step out – it was on a cedar tree and it had been misting rain – that cedar tree was slick and the first step out, it’s like I stepped on a sheet of ice. And unfortunately I fell about 15 feet and broke my back, but fortunately it wasn’t worse than that.
Marti: And I used slip and fall protection, but like most tree stand accidents it’s either happening when you’re getting in or getting out, and it can happen in a split second.
Interviewer: Will you just repeat that for all our listeners, please?
Marti: The whole story, or the hunter safety?
Interviewer: No, just the safety.
Marti: Yeah. Yeah, when I hunt from a stand I always wear a hunter safety system vest, but like most tree stand accidents most of them happen either when you’re climbing into the stand or climbing out of the stand. There is an item called a life line that you can hook to and be connected to it while you’re getting in and out of your stand. It keeps you completely safe as soon as you step off the ground.
Interviewer: So listeners, if you’re not using a safety system, then you’re rolling the dice. It’s that simple.
Marti: Absolutely. One in three hunters . . .
Interviewer: You’re rolling the dice.
Marti: . . . will have a tree stand accident.
Interviewer: And unfortunately, and Marti can give you the numbers, people do die or become paralyzed, or lose their ability to hunt. And, I don’t want anybody in the whitetail community ever think that, “Gee, somebody should have told me that.” Well, we just did.
Marti: It can happen to you.
Interviewer: Well I’m glad you’re bouncing back, or have bounced back.
Marti: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about your land in Southern Illinois. Do you own that or is it a lease piece?
Marti: It’s actually some, it’s family that I’ve become friends with. Guy that he owns, oh I forget how many acres it is now but I know there’s over 30,000 acres over there. And I got to know them from going over there and I just keep going back. They treat me like family. I do what I can to help them when I’m there, and it’s a great family that I got to know and they’re very generous and let me keep coming back.
Interviewer: Everybody who’s listening, she has been able to get on private land, Southern Illinois because, how many years ago, you approached the people or got to know them?
Marti: Eight or nine years ago.
Interviewer: So, let’s talk about eight or nine years ago, and how that all came to be.
Marti: I’d actually purchased a hunt through an outfitter over there, and the guy that was running that outfitting business – his brother owns this farm. And I got to know him and he introduced me to his brother. You’ve got to treat your landowner’s land like it’s yours. You go in there, and if a gate’s closed when you go through it, close it behind you. Do what you can to help them out. I was over there last week turkey hunting. They’re right in the middle of planting season – they are running daylight to dark. When I come out of the field from hunting, I’d ask them if they needed anything – if they needed shuttled around to tractors, shuttled around from one field to another, a tire taken and gotten . . . they have a flat tire, I take it and run it to town, get it fixed for them. Just do what you can to help them out, and treat the land like you would want it to be treated if it was yours.
Interviewer: So many times, we expect to walk up to a door on a farm, say, “Hey, can we go hunting today?” and more and more across the west, across the mid-west, across the south, people are going, “No.”
Marti: Yeah, that’s not the way to go about it.
Interviewer: What’s the best way to go about it, Marti [inaudible 20:16]?
Marti: I actually did an article on this a couple years ago. Don’t wait until season’s here to go up and knock on doors. Do your homework ahead of time. Don’t show up at dinner time. When you do show up, make sure your appearance is nice. I’m not saying dressed up, but I’m saying don’t show up in your work clothes or your hunting clothes all covered with blood or whatever. But do your homework ahead of time and go and visit these people ahead of time and be cautious about what time you’re showing up there. Make sure it’s not at lunch time, make sure it’s not at dinner time. And offer to do some work for them in exchange for hunting on their property. Common courtesy goes a long way.
Interviewer: Anything else?
Marti: If you’re not sure if the place is just trying to figure out . . . If you’re not sure who owns the property, get on your assessor’s website and a lot of that information can be found online these days like who owns which property, and how to get in touch with them. Another good source is, if you know that the area you’re wanting to try and get permission to hunt or you’re trying to find a location near you check with your mail carriers. They see a lot of wildlife activity and know which areas are more abundant with wildlife. And who the homeowners might be and they might be able to help you get in touch with them.
Interviewer: That’s good, I like that. I did that once in Buffalo county and it worked out real well. Let’s talk about you just got a hundred acres, new hundred acres, it’s all yours.
Marti: No [chuckles].
Interviewer: You just got it yesterday. You just got it yesterday. So what are you going to do between now and hunting season?
Marti: Well, first thing I would do is, I’ve already made a connection with the landowner. First thing I’d want to do is get their observations. Find out from them what they’ve seen in years past during hunting seasons. I think that’d be my number one step.
Number two, I’m going to get an aerial, topographic map of the property. And then after that, I’m going to go walk that property, and the feel of it and locate the heavily traveled game trails. So then number four would put me at marking those trails on that map and marking the trails as they’re going from the timber and bedding areas out into the fields and feeding areas. And then I’m going to put some trail cameras on some of those, so I can see what’s actually going on on those trails – if they’re actually currently using them, what kind of wildlife population we have on the property. After that, I’d probably get my local conservation department, either a biologist’s annual that’s good to have around here. We have what’s called a private land specialist. And talk to them about if they know what the hunting pressure is in the area, and they’ll more than likely know, and then what the population is in the area and where the doe and buck ratio is at for that area.
After that, I’m going to look doing some food plots. Whether they’ve got some existing plots that need maintenance or if I need to go and put some in. And then while I’m doing that, I’m also going to have designate sanctuary areas – areas that you just, you’ve got to give them their sanctuary areas you just do not set foot in unless you’re either retrieving a deer out of there that you’ve shot, or the only other time I go in the sanctuary areas is in antler shed hunting season. Mid to late February, looking for antlers. Other than that, I stay out of those sanctuaries. After I get the food plots worked, then we’re getting into pre-season scouting. And then after I get some scouting done I’m gonna locate where I’m gonna put those tree stand and those blinds. And then to finish last, number ten would be start trimming those shooting lanes and start getting those stand sites ready for hunting season.
Interviewer: Would you possibly not hunt the land the first time, the first year? You just got it today. You just bought it today. Would you consider not hunting it next year?
Marti: I would probably hunt, but I might be particular on what I would take. I may not shoot anything.
Interviewer: So what age class would be – I’ll take it if it’s four and a half years old, or I’ll take it if it’s three and a half years old, or ten point, I’ll shoot that. Is there any . . . ?
Marti: That would depend on where the property was. If it’s here in Southwest Missouri, three and a half year old is getting shot, more than likely. Because neighbor next door is shooting a two and a half year old, or even a year and a half year old. But Southern Illinois, yeah four and a half, five and a half, yeah more mature deer over there.
Interviewer: Are you involved with QDMA local chapters or the organization itself?
Marti: I am a QDMA member, and I take their magazine and I try to practice QDMA. This property that I hunt here at Willard, which Willard is not known for big bucks, or even lots of deer. I haven’t shot a buck off it in six or seven years. So yeah, I have my own QDMA standards. It depends on whether we’re talking about here, or whether we’re talking about Southern Illinois where there’s bigger deer. But yeah, we practice QDMA a lot on the farm in Illinois. There’s a lot of does on that farm over there, and unfortunately Illinois changed their regulations on their doe seasons last year and actually got rid of them for Southern Illinois. And we usually have a doe weekend in January, where we go and we fill a bunch of doe tags, and fill our freezers, friend’s freezers, needy families in the area over there, because yes, we do have so many does on that farm.
Interviewer: Running up on the time that you get to promote, to talk about your upcoming new website and what you’re going to be doing there, how do people get hold of you. So you got the mic for a couple minutes, so it’s an open mic Marti, and please share with our listeners those things you want to share.
Marti: Okay. Thank you. Yes, I do have my own website which will be MartiDavisAfield.com that’s M-A-R-T-I Davis Afield dot com. And that hopefully will be up and running within the next month. It’s just going to have some of my photographs, some of my outdoor photographs, some of my trophy photos on it, a blog every now and then. It’ll also have links to my columns at the WomensOutDoornews.com, and it’ll have a way to contact me on there also.
In the meantime, they can contact me at my email address: Marti, M-A-R-T-I, Davis, D-A-V-I-S, 72, at Gmail dot com. Of course, any lady out there interested in the outdoors needs to go to WomensOutdoorNews.com, check us out there. We have columns about shooting, personal protection, hunting, fishing, adventure, outdoor lifestyle, lots of good information, lots of good columnists over there at the line.
Some of the sponsors that I have and really appreciate are Mossy Oak, Winchester Ammunition, Moultrie, Woolex, Clip-a-rack [SP], that’s a great product there especially since, I got that the year after I broke my back. It’ll actually attach to the front of a four wheeler or a side by side UTV and it’ll lift a deer or hog or whatever off the ground for you. That’s a great product there. But all those companies I listed, I use their products, I trust their products otherwise I wouldn’t endorse them. And I appreciate you having me on the show, and like I said folks, if you have any questions shoot me an email, go to the Women’s Outdoor News website, go to my website coming up and we’ll be happy to answer any questions we can.
Interviewer: Marti Davis, thank you so much for being part of the Whitetail Rendezvous community. You bring forth a lot of wisdom, a lot of knowledge that I hope our listeners – men or women – will sense that the tradition of hunting runs deep in this country, and certainly runs deep in Marti Davis. So Marti, again thank you for being on the show.
Marti: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.