NY Outdoors

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jumping out of a plane was the single most wild thing I had done in my life to date! I was afraid of heights & had just landed a great job in the city that required me working above people all day, handling steel, tools etc.. That's scary enough! Now, you had to walk on 2"- 6" beams while doing this & still have 1 or 2 hands to hold on. =( I was a little leary about heights having had a serious fall once before. Just one week before I received notification of the pending interview, I had seen a special on skydiving. I thought to myself.. geeesh, out of all the jobs I applied to, it would have to be the one I laughed about when I pictured myself doing it.

I realized I had to do something fast, I had to report for work in TWO weeks! Talk about vibrating nervous... My testosterone got the best of me and I arranged to take a short class on jumping. After a brief chat w/ a few select friends, we went ahead and took the ride upstate to go for it. I can't explain the feelings that I went through on that ride. It was a llllllllong one. As we took the class, when we weren't laying down face to the floor w/ our backs arched, we occasionally got to see other jumpers landing in various parts of the field.
The bright fluorescent colors of the chutes when fully opened were awesome, looked very enticing but my nerves were saying "NO, DON'T DO IT!"

I was still apprehensive but there was no turning back, nor a white flag above my head! I was determined to get over my fear of heights if it killed me. =)~ We took our 45 minute class, boarded the plane & just a few short minutes later we started to head down the runway & climb slowly in a circular upward spiral.. As I knelt there & observed the structural integrity of the small plane I noticed the friggin' plane was so cheaply constructed, shaky, vibrating, turbulent,. I can go on & on.. It was a small cessna double engine w/ two wings that looked like they belonged on a pigeon. I didn't think we would survive the climb to the desired altitude w/ this friggin' plane!!! =(

OH MY GOD :: this feeling came over me: I started to tremble, I felt my pulse quicken, my heart started to pound harder & harder as if it was going to break out of my rib cage.. I could both hear & feel the beat pulsating in my head as well as pumping blood through my body! My heart beat quickened, I thought to myself...


Not two seconds later the the plane leveled off. We all looked at each other w/ eyes opened wide.. all within a seemingly 6' sq. space on our knees.. As I scanned the facial expressions of the plane's occupants I realized that I was holding on to the guy's shirt in front of me & held onto his shoulder w/ such a white knuckled grip that he turned to me till we were eye to eye & motioned w/ his head towards my death grip I had on him, to let go. ( there was kneeling room only due to the minuscule size of the rattle trap we were about to jump out of ) so I did, and as I watched the color slowly return to my knuckles I saw his shirt from neck to shoulder start to slowly contract back to its somewhat shapely collared form.

" Oh,. sorry" I said w/ the biggest koolaid smile you ever saw! =)

After we both gained our composure from that episode the green light over the door goes on, a loud buzzer sounds BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT. We were at the proper altitude & preparing to jump. The guide slides the door open & all of a sudden the winds come in & take over the entire body of the plane & it blew so hard I couldn't hear myself think. My friend's guide asked if he was ready & my buddy reluctantly gave him the thumbs up while grinning at me. They slowly shimmied over on their knees to the opening while glancing back at us as. I watched them slowly lean out & leave the plane. The endorphins that were being produced by my body at that time could've killed a HORSE! To my right the next set of guys were slowly shimmying on their knees to this bottomless, blowing, loud, vacuum hole that was seemingly sucking my friends out one by one. The next jumpers gave each other and us the thumbs up, leaned out & were sucked down under the right wing of the airplane. They were gone.

My guide turned to me & gave me the thumbs up.. MY eyes opened wiiiiide, I mustered the strength to raise my shaking thumb to an upwards position & that was it I thought.. It was my turn.. I had to make a decision. I thought about backing out, I thought about my family, I thought about all the names I would be called if I didn't proceed. I also thought was this it? Was this the last time I would ever be on solid ground again? Before I could process a cohesive thought my guide slowly nudged me towards the opening of the plane by thrusting his legs forward into the back of my thigh. ( we were stuck together tandem style, him behind me ) & kept doing it till I moved forward. I slowly took my first knee step, then the second , then the third.

The wind was now nearing hurricane status! I was vibrating!! He put both of his hands on the side of the door, tapped me on the stomach w/ his right hand once (which meant get ready),. Then started to pull both of us out of the vortex which previously sucked 3 of my friends out, I resisted!!! He pulled on the sides of the door again, this time harder, jerking my body forward half way out into the eye of the hurricane & I though to myself, this guy is trying to KILL ME! I thought 'here we go,.. The next time he touches me on my stomach we're leaving the airplane'... Was it too late to back out? Yes, I released my grip from his forearm & gave him the thumbs up. He gave me that dreaded tap on the abdomen & threw our bodies forward into the abyss.

As I looked out across the horizon at the clouds, the clear blue sky & the beautifully arranged parcels of land I thought to myself, whomever created this was truly magnificent and had a great eye for art. I noticed each of the parcels of land were placed neatly side by side oneanother in various shades of green & yellow. I thought well, If I don't live after this jump at least I faced my fear like a man. Grrrrrrrr!

We were falling faster & faster, the wind was blowing between, passed & all around us. I was having a hard time breathing from the implosion of my lungs and nostrils due to being filled by wind simultaneously. I started to panic & flail my arms nervously. Then the training that I had taken an hour before came to mind. Keeping my head up looking out at the horizon & body arched in an ungodly position, the air was supposed to pass over my chin and face creating a wind tunnel so that I was able to breathe. It worked. I started to calm down because I was now getting oxygen to my lungs.

I was starting to enjoy the fall & all the surroundings. The clouds were a pretty shade of white & cotton shaped. The sun was blaring down upon the earth & my face while I could feel my cheeks rippling from the shear gusts of wind & gravitational pull of terminal velocity.

We were slowly approaching the ground. I knew it was going to be any minute that I would feel his tap to get ready for the deployment of the chute. I was free from all the laws that bind us to this earth. I felt I was now finally at peace in God's hands. If he wanted me at that time, he could have me.

I also realized that when a human being is feeling scared & afraid of the unknown, and we feel like nothing can go right or that we have no control over ourselves, our future & feeling we're at out worse, our senses & reaction time is heightened & we're actually at our best! The landing went as planned. It was the single most exciting day of my whole life. The rush of adrenaline, endorphins and serotonin was phenomenal!

I would do it again in a heart beat. I also live a much fuller life because of that experience & I do have to say one thing. If we don't do fun, spontaneous things in life, It will soon pass us by. Time waits for no man.
You have to use what Mother Nature gave you, before Father Time takes it away! Do something exciting, something a little edgy & out of your realm at least once in your life! It will make you a better person. =)

I was truly inspired that day.

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My Once in a Lifetime Encounter with a Piebald Deer.

It was a beautiful winter day on December 1st in New York State!

It was opening day. I proceeded out of my door at 7:00am to my favorite hunting spot. It's a beautiful unexplored parcel of land attached to a very affluent farm in one of our NY counties. From what I understood, there hasn't been hunters allowed on the farm since the early 1900's. The previous owners of the farm had a very strict policy that continued through the generations into the new millennium. The words "NO HUNTING" are prominently displayed at the front entrance to the farm!

If you're a hunter, you know what it's like to find a good parcel of land. I love to hunt on private land, It seems to be a little bit quieter, safer and one of the roads less traveled. I'm sure it's apparent how much I love our forests, nature, water ways and wetlands. I was ecstatic!! I have been hunting all morning since first light. I saw several deer, but no shooters. I followed my usual routine. Upon exiting the woods to go to breakfast, I noticed a group of deer in the field next to the wood fence that separated the horses and the road. At first I was stunned by what I saw. One of the animals with the small group was a goat. I thought to myself, that's odd, I never saw goats & deer herding together before. Upon a closer look, I saw that it was not a goat. It was in fact a piebald deer.

I started to shake like I had buck fever on my first day hunting again as an adolescent. I placed my weapon on the floor & hurried backwards to my vehicle to retrieve my camera. I had to get pictures of this, I thought to myself. If I tell anyone, they wouldn't believe me. I finally got my truck opened, fumbled through my bag, grabbed my camera & headed back to where I saw the deer previously. They were no longer there. I let out a loud sigh. It figures, I said aloud.

I picked up my weapon & proceeded to walk towards the area where they were standing. All of a sudden, I see movement in the tree line. First the mother stepped out & checked me out, then the other offspring. Finally the white deer stepped out. It was a white button buck with a black head. The feeling that came over me was magical. He raised his nose into the air to get a whiff of my scent like a classic buck in training. I turned on my Kodak digital camera, raised it and took these pictures for the hunting, wildlife & outdoor enthusiasts of the world to see. From what I understand from the locals, nobody else has seen it. I was even called a liar unless I divulged its whereabouts.

I almost fell for it. I truly had no desire whatsoever to shoot this animal, and I damn sure wasn't going to lead another hunter to his safe haven. I just smiled & walked away exclaiming "just kidding". A chill arose up and down my spine and made me shake during the experience. I thought to myself, I'm sure there are other hunters out there who will not feel the same when coming face to face with one of these rare species. Therefore, I will protect its exact location with my life. If this one has the gene, I'm sure more will follow when it starts to procreate. As they scurried off into the thicket, I could only fantasize about meeting him again some day when he grows to be a majestic 8 - 10 or 12 point buck.

I am confident that I will feel the same way I felt when I had first glanced upon his magical technicolor dreamcoat. I felt truly blessed to see this animal. I have named him appropriately. He is called Oreo. How do I know he won't roam off onto someone else's property & meet a horrible death? I just have that feeling. He felt safe on the land. He trusted me. His mother knows the terrain. She has eluded me for years, she will not lead him astray. There are also a few other things that give me the confidence in knowing he will survive till adulthood. One is, I am the Steward of this land! Two, we will always be friends and never enemies, and number three. It's the sign above the opening on the entrance of the farm somewhere in New York State. It explicitly says, " NO HUNTING! " ,... We will meet again Oreo.

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Bass Fishing New York State.

I woke up one beautiful summer morning with the strong urge to go fishing. Imagine that? I turned on the weather channel & sat back to watch the day's forecast. The wind was at 1 mph. and the temperature was slowly rising. I was very excited once I saw optimal bass fishing conditions & called my friend Vinny. He answered with a groggy voice & as I explained the weather he slowly came to life & a sound crackled from his mouth. "aahwegoin'?" To which I replied "WHAT??" He then cleared his throat with a rumble & said "are we going?" Yep, be ready in 15 I said. On the way there we did our usual teasing & putting down each other's angling tactics (which is the norm) & we then decided to settle this battle with a lunch bet.

We both agreed. As we launched the boat we made up some really tasty sounding sandwiches that we would make the other pay for as part of the agreement for losing. We chatted about lobster heroes all the way to caviar soup. Mmm Mmm Good! We finally reached a shoreline that produced some really
nice fish in the past. We were using plastic worms with an eighth of an ounce bullet head & a sluggo hook since it holds the worm on a lot longer & prevents it from sliding down the hook when smaller fish tug at the worm's tail. I casted in the worm a few times to loosen the line on the spool & untwist any potential kinks that may have formed on the line from the previous trip. While focusing on the spool with the bail open I noticed my line pull slightly from my fingers in a short jerk. I figured it was a little sunny or crappie & just left it as I uncoiled more line to a desired casting length which would reach the shore line under the over hanging trees with the skipping of my worm. I closed the bail manually & checked the weight to see if a fish had taken my offering. As I raised it, I saw another fast barrage of nibbles & set the hook. ZZZING!! Nothing. I pulled the hook so hard I jerked our little 12' Jon boat & almost capsized it. Vinny yelled "Hey, trying
to flip us??" We laughed it off.

We were slowly blowing along the shoreline with the slightest of winds adjacent to a submerged tree. I joked about a HUGE bass being in the tree ready for my worm & casted. The worm hit about 3' from the front of what looked like the top of the tree & slowly descended. From previous experience I estimated the drop to be about 9 or 10'. The worm stopped short of my assumption, so I figured it was caught in the very tip of the submerged tree. I raised the tip of my rod & saw the line slowly jerk with one hard pull so I reeled up slack while lowering the tip of the rod & set the hook ZZING!! The rod stayed bent. At first I thought it was caught on what we call a Largemouth Branch, ( code word for tree) but I was wrong. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz the
line took off to my left. I held the rod up skyward to keep pressure on whatever was at the end of my line. I started hooting & hollering about that Lobster Hero that I was going to wolf down once we got back to dry land. Vinny insisted it was still a large mouth branch, to which I disagreed.

I started to turn towards the fish & he immediately changed direction & headed back for the tree. He was powerful. The line started stripping again as he guided my line toward the hulking tree. Zzzzzzzzzzz zzz zzz The bass started playing jump in & out of the tree pictured behind me. He finally navigated in & out of several
branches & got stuck. I yelled thinking he was lost forever & I contemplated losing my rig and the fish. I kept a constant pressure on and the fish came out of one branch but I still had a few more to untangle. I smiled as I looked over at my buddy. This fish dove under a 900 lb tree & weaved in & out of the limbs like a true pro! He had done this to other fishermen before. "Click" I felt a branch give under the water with the gain of some line & kept constant pressure. The line went slack for a second. Then I reeled up quickly
to catch up with the fish & all of a sudden it breached the water like an ICBM & jumped over the tree in an awesome display of strength & agility. I noticed that the branch was still dangling weaved into my line & that made me nervous.

However I kept at it. Rod up, pressure on & trying to gain line. I could've sworn he had his tail shaped in the form of a middle finger when he jumped!! Maybe I just got up too early to go fishing this day. :) After calling him every name in the book, he started to pull less, he jumped shorter distances, this time when he jumped, he hit the tree. I thought he knocked 'em self out. My heart was thumping & felt like it was in my throat, my knees started knockin' when I first set the hook. I thought I was going to lose him with each jump. I finally gained line on it & conquered 'em. What a magnificent fish. I wish I had a scale to weigh him. After a short rant on how I'm going to have the best, most expensive hero known to man I asked Vin to take a
picture. I had to have one for my album since it was such a roller coaster of a fight. The bass is currently swimming free somewhere in my secret fishing hole & I hope we meet again real soon.

New York State Bassin' :)

Michael Di Pippo, President & CEO
http://penfishingrods.com ™

"A Fish is Too Valuable to Only Catch Once!"

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