Category Archives: Hunting

Why are we losing so many kayak fisherman?

 

 

Kayak safety is no longer a topic I can address once a year.  Every week I read numerous articles about kayak fisherman dying while pursuing this sport we all love. before I dig too deep into this topic let me tell you who I am and what I do for a living to give this article better context. BE WARNED- beyond this point I am very straight and to the point, I don’t want to sound insensitive but we need to address this issue at its root cause, the “it won’t happen to me ” attitude.

 

My Name is Holton Walker, I have been serving in the US Coast Guard for almost 8 years now, and over half of that has been on C-130J Long range search and rescue aircraft. I am stationed in Elizabeth City, NC. I’ve conducted operations from Reykivik, Iceland to the Pacific Ocean. On numerous occasions, I get launched on Missions searching for Missing kayak fisherman all over the east coast and Great Lakes regions. It breaks my heart every time I get the details for our search plan and they paint a picture of a kayaker who wasn’t even prepared for the weather conditions, let alone a survival situation in those conditions. With that out of the way let’s get into the issues that are killing our friends.

 

The biggest killer in survival situations is hypothermia

 

The cooling of the body below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  a common misconception is that it only occurs in cold water. If the water is below 95 degrees you can expect hypothermia like symptoms even though it may take longer to affect you. Here are some hypothermia survival statistics with no protective water gear.

 

Water temperature

 

40-50 degrees you lose dexterity in 5 minutes, are unconscious in less than an hour and maximum survival time before death is 3 hours.

 

50-60 degrees you are unconscious in 1 to 2 hours with maximum survival at 6 hours before death.

 

60-70 degrees you lose consciousness in 2-7 hours and death around 2-40 hours depending on age.

 

The second biggest danger is not having a clear float plan.

 

A US Coast Guard float plan is form you leave with a family member or friend that includes where your launching from and where you intend to fish and when you expect to be back. it has section on what survival equipment you have on board and gear etc. This information is crucial to authorities estimating your survival time. A proper form can extend a search if we think you could survive past the normal expectations. There is a link on the menu bar of my site with a blank Float plan available for download for free.

 

Safety and survival equipment-

 

Here’s the average rundown of a search and rescue case for a missing kayaker. A friend or family members usually reports the fisherman missing by dusk depending on the time they were supposed to be back. The time it takes authorities to contact the US Coast Guard, then we are airborne within 20-30 minutes of the alarm going off.  The initial search is normally started after dark by the time we get on scene. The most important piece of gear is a PFD to keep you afloat until a search starts, at that point the most important device is something to signal the aircraft or boats searching for you. One of the best and cheapest devices is a chem-light or glow stick. You take the glow-stick and tie a 12-inch line to it and spin it in a circle. On night vision goggles and the naked eye alone it’s a very effective signal at night. My best signal device is more expensive, it would be an aerial flare or strobe light.  If a US Coast guard aircraft is searching for you at night, the pilots are wearing NVG’s and any light source waving will be very visible to them.

 

Radios and or GPS devices-

 

A handheld VHF radio is a critical tool to be rescued, every US Coast Guard aircraft that is flying is monitoring VHF Ch 16, 156.8 MHZ at all times. There are also many different GPS based devices like the Spot GPS device where you can send distress signals. E-Pirbs are more expensive but are the top of the line satellite distress beacons.

 

Protective clothing-

 

Staying warm is a huge deal when the air temps start falling. Hypothermia can set in quickly and you can start losing your decision-making abilities and start making bad judgement calls due to it. Always have the gear to not only fish when you plan but to survive the night if you get stuck or stranded.  However, when you go in the drink the only things that will dramatically affect your survival time is immersion suits or wet suits.  Dry suits are the most effective of anything on the market but are costly, the lesser effective mustang suits will keep you alive but you will be in contact with the colder water.

 

Conclusion-

 

At the end of the day, the most important tool is your brain, if the weather is bad or foretasted to get bad and you absolutely must fish, do what I do and instead of open water fish a backwater creek that is protected from wind and waves. I personally wear a life jacket not just for survival gear but so if god forbid I have a heart attack, get bit by a snake a go into shock, or hit my head on something they search can find my body for my family. It’s a morbid thought but it’s an honest one. There is nothing worse than closing a search and rescue case without recovering a body for the family.  I hope this article helps shines some light on some of the lesser discussed topics in the kayak community. Stay Safe and come back next week for some Fall bass fishing tips and techniques to catch some monsters with the falling temperatures.

 

Realities of being a father and an outdoorsman

Hey everybody and thank you for swinging by Aptooutdoors.com. Today I’m going to be talking about something I have been thinking about heavily these past few weeks. I have been re-building a 13-hp motor to convert to a long tail mud motor while also looking at newer models of fishing kayaks to purchase. While thinking about which path I’d rather pursue it dawned on me that no matter which path I take it will be taking time away from my 1-year-old daughter.

While most of us fisherman and hunters are reluctant to hang up our passions for a while or making any changes to our normal routines the reality of being a good father to me has started to sink in. There’s no point in me owning a boat until my daughter is old enough to actively fish or enjoy herself on it. And I can’t justify spending that amount of money on a duck boat/blind materials for the few hunts a year I go on when most of the time I’m hunting, I’m thinking about being home with her.

This epiphany has led me to really start thinking about selling the majority of my hunting and fishing gear for the time being and planning on getting back into fishing and hunting a lot more when my daughter is a little older and capable of enjoying it with me. It’s a sad thought to me but honestly I’d rather be home with my family. I am in no way trying to tell other people how to conduct their personal lives. I am simply explaining my situation and actions I am taking to be a better husband and father so that maybe someone else will read this and it have a positive impact on their lives and family.

I will continue to run this website and post educational blogs about fishing and hunting techniques. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and enjoy time with your families. God Bless.

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Photo Coutesty of Heather & Jared Photography

2015 Apto Outdoors Bucket List.

Hey everyone and thank you for swinging by. Today’s quick post is covering the yearly goals  or the “Bucket List” for the blog and youtube channel. As soon as i can start getting out on the water and getting videos there will be episodes on YouTube. below is the month by month Bucket List.

FRESHWATER BUCKET LIST

  • Crappie- catch a 1lb or larger crappie on the fly rod.
  • Bass- Catch a 5lb bass or larger on the fly rod
  • Chain Pickeral- Catch a 20 inch or longer Pickeral on the fly rod
  • Rainbow trout- catch my first rainbow trout on the fly rod *

SALTWATER BUCKET LIST

  • Pompano on the fly rod from surf
  • Bluefish on the fly rod from the surf
  • Spanish Mackerel on the fly rod from the surf
  • 20 inch or longer Red Drum on the fly rod
  • 18 inch or longer Speckled Trout on the fly rod
  • Flounder on the fly rod
  • Bonita on the fly rod from the surf
  • Atlantic Mackerel on the fly from the surf

HUNTING BUCKET LIST

   WATERFOWL

  • Green Winged Teal Drake
  • Blue Winged Teal Drake
  • Mallard Drake
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Bufflehead Drake
  • Bluebill  Drake
  • Redhead Drake
  • Canvasback Drake
  • Wood Duck Drake
  • Ringneck Drake
  • Canadian Goose
  • Snow Goose

Why we hunt and fish.

In the United States one of the things most of us learn to do at a young age is enjoy the outdoors, whether its fishing, hunting, or any other outdoor activity nothing else comes close in my eyes. But recently in my life I have noticed more and more people forgetting the reason why we do this.

Everyone has memories they hold dear with their family and friends, the reason why I enjoy the outdoors is the make memories. If you ever find yourself going on a fishing or hunting trip by yourself, make every effort to bring someone with you. Many times I have had a awesome experience in the outdoors and since I was alone, I had nobody to share that moment and experience with. My fondest memories are going places with my dad. Even the trips to Academy sports and outdoors were fun experiences growing up.

This week’s blog was short but very meaningful to me. I hope you all have a great week and never forget, the outdoors is a huge part of our lives but never let it consume your life. Cherish the memories you can make during your life and be safe. Thank you for reading and we hope to see you back next week. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter and instagram for more photos and updates.

One of my favorite hunts with my dad.
One of my favorite hunts with my dad,  2009.

The 2015 Apto Outdoors fishing and hunting schedule.

 

January- the launching of the website as well as an introduction into aptooutdoors.com and associated social media sites.

February- Freshwater fly fishing,  and the boat restoration project I am currently working on.

March- Spring crappie and bass fishing from fly rods to conventional rods, surf fishing and boat restoration.

April- Focusing on Freshwater fly fishing, but also covering  gearing up for the intense summer saltwater action.

May- Saltwater fly fishing, surf fishing, and some freshwater fishing. Main focus is the 2015 bucket list for apto outdoors.

August- Saltwater fly fishing, surf fishing, and some freshwater fishing.

September- Wrapping up the saltwater fishing season and the start of early waterfowl seasons.

October- Some fishing but mostly focusing on The 2015 Waterfowl seasons and saltwater fishing while it is still producing.

November- Most posts will be covering the waterfowl season.

December- Waterfowl Season is in full swing and most posts will be covering the waterfowl trips.

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you back for our fishing adventures coming this spring!

Why you should take kids hunting.

Hey everyone,

I hope you enjoyed your holidays as much as I did. I got to smother my one month old daughter with gifts and spoil my wife with a few surprises.

Founder Holton Walker and his father in a 2009 Duck hunt in East Texas. Courtesy of Flying Aces Guide Services.
Founder Holton Walker and his father in a 2009 Duck hunt in East Texas. Courtesy of Flying Aces Guide Services.

Why should you take kids hunting and fishing.

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve hunting and fishing trips with my father. Whether it was a simple trip to a pond or a hour long run to Baffin Bay, it provided everything from lessons on patience, why to not keep everything you catch, but most importantly quality time with my dad. Although 90 percent of the time I was a burden when I was younger, bird nesting reels, talking loudly in the blind or playing with the live bait, my dad put up with me and provided some amazing adventures and memories.

This week I had the opportunity to go duck hunting with a good friend and his son, they provided the boat, since mine is out of commission for the winter, and I provided the decoys and calling. We saw a good number of ducks, missed a good amount and ended up coming home with 2 ducks. But one of the last flocks we shot at worked our decoys as beautifully as I have ever seen. The group of 6 were locked in from the second they saw the decoys, cupped up for a second then started to fly like they were going behind us and at the last second fully cupped up and dove in like they were on fire. It was beautiful to watch and was the best working flock I’ve had in two seasons up here.

In conclusion it was fun hunting with a father and son because it brought back some fond memories hunting with my dad. I forget how exciting every ripple or splash on the river can be for a young hunter still learning how to pick out and identify ducks. I hope you all had a great Christmas and next time you go hunting or fishing remember to take a little one with you and make some good memories that will last a lifetime.

My friends son and the two ducks we shot.
My friends son and the two ducks we shot.

My must have items for Duck hunters

My must have items for Duck hunters
Of the many items a duck hunter will have in his boat/ blind I have a few that I consider must have items.

A good decoy spread is a essential part of duck hunting. Typically I prefer 2 to 3 dozen decoys. The combination of species changes every hunt depending on my location. Any motion decoy will increase the realism of your spread however a moving wing decoy can flare birds on rare occasion.

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A life jacket is a must for any duck hunter. One thing working Search and Rescue has taught me is to view my life jacket as a survival vest as well. I keep a high intensity LED Flashlight , a pea-less whistle, survival knife, and flare kit in the pockets of my lifejacket. In the event I need assistance I have every tool I need on my body at all times while operating my boat or wading away from it. Also not pictured I keep a Uniden Atlantis waterproof 16 channel VHF radio clipped to my waders or life vest at all times

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Walker’s Game Ear’s are one of my favorite items. They amplify surrounding noises and have a Sound Activated Compression (SAC) circuit that protects hearing from both loud or sustained sounds. The only downside the game ears have is it amplifies my duck calls, which distorts them so I have to turn down the ears to call. The benefits of the game ears outweigh the call distortion because I can hear the whistling of ducks much better and can hear woodies from a mile a way

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Last but not least is a tool/parts bag. My bag contains everything from a grease gun with grease canisters for my boat trailer, to spare batteries for electronics. If I have learned one thing from a lifetime of being on the water is that if something can break, it will break at the worst time and its good to have the parts and tools to fix it. My main spare part is an extra prop for my motor.

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Thank you for reading and come back for future posts.