Monday, December 26, 2011

The Buck & The Beard: Steelers lineman Brett Keisel is an Avid Outdoorsman

Sunday, December 25, 2011
The morning after the Steelers' 13-9 win over Kansas City, Brett Keisel slept in. It was a Sunday night game, the team's chartered plane had touched down at Pittsburgh International Airport in the wee hours, and the defensive end still felt sore all over in the morning.

But Monday, Nov. 28, was a special day for Keisel -- the opening of Pennsylvania's statewide rifle deer season. A longtime hunter and outdoorsman from the Wyoming wilds, Keisel climbed out of bed and into a Beaver County tree stand, where he scored an eight-point.

"My [deer] was shot . . . in Western Pennsylvania with my Ruger .25-06 . . .," he wrote on his Facebook page. "One-shot kill at about 120 yards. Deer was 100 percent wild, so is hunter."
Weeks later, Keisel's teammates were eating venison sausage snacks in the locker room -- "provided by the fruits of my labor," he said -- while in the hallway at the Steelers' South Side training facility, Keisel talked about hunting.

Now in his 10th season with the team, he said he's learned to find his way in the Western Pennsylvania woods. "I try to hunt every year. The first couple of years [in Pittsburgh] were kind of hard, you know, because I really didn't know where to go," he said. "But I got in with some friends who have some property around here. I got a few deer, but I'm just enjoying getting out in the woods and listening to Mother Earth."

Keisel is an experienced bow hunter -- his football sack celebration is an archer drawing a bow -- but this year his arrows didn't pierce a hide. "I really like archery. It's still nice outside and I'm not too beat up," he said. "Usually when I get into December, my body's sore and I really value my sleep." Skunked this year at archery, Keisel hunted on the opening day of rifle season on a friend's posted property.

"I got into the stand about 3 o'clock. A bunch of does came right out -- I waited, waited, waited," he said. "Then this buck came out. It was a pretty good buck, but I thought, there's going to be a huge one come out just after him, so I waited for a little bit."

It was a savvy hunting decision. In minutes, an eight-point stepped into a clearing, then bolted.
"I'm not sure if he winded me or what," said Keisel. "Something spooked him and he ran about 150 yards and I thought, boy, if I'm going to do it I better do it. One shot, he ran about 10 feet and fell."

The .25-06 that Keisel used fires relatively light loads. The cartridge originated as a .30-06 necked down to .257 caliber, and is manufactured in 75 to 120 grains. Noted for its light recoil, it propels a 117-grain bullet on a flat trajectory at 3,200 feet per second -- a good deer gun on level, open land. It's an unusual choice for deer in hilly, brushy Western Pennsylvania, particularly when held by a 6-foot 5-inch, 285-pound professional athlete.

"A friend in Ohio asked me if I'd send him a jersey and he'd send me a gun from his Whitetails Unlimited [chapter]," said Keisel. "It's like a .243, maybe a little bigger. It's a great shooting gun, a fun little gun. He's got my name and stuff engraved on the stock, so I was happy to get that first kill with it."

A veteran hunter, Keisel proudly credits his father for teaching him everything he knows about the outdoors. Growing up on 1,000 acres of Wyoming hunting land, Keisel said he started early. "My dad has had me in the woods since I could walk," he said. "He's taught me how to track, how to read markings, read the wind, all of that stuff. ... We had a lot of great hunting. We hunted pheasants and ducks and geese -- all of that right on our own place. I was definitely spoiled growing up . . . hunting elk and mule deer and pronghorn. We've hunted moose, a lot of coyotes. I've hunted mountain lion. Just about all the big game American species."

Despite his busy schedule, Keisel said he finds time to initiate his 3-year-old son in the ways of the outdoors. "I'm trying to instill in him now that there's a whole world out there. Go watch how beautiful it is. Go out and see it," he said. "Even just going out to a stream with my son and a fishing pole, trying to teach him how I was taught. Just being outside and doing things outside is so much more valuable to me than sitting around inside and watching the TV."
Professional football is all about personal confidence, and Keisel said he first found his off the practice field.

"When you're out hunting, there's definitely adrenalin there," he said. "Finding ways to harness that, finding ways to control yourself, to fight through the adversity and make that winning shot. It's so therapeutic for me to be able to get out into the woods." His early outdoor survival lessons had a lasting impact, said Keisel. and he hopes today's kids get the same opportunities.

"How to start a fire, where to start a fire, the proper ways to hunt -- there's a whole growing-up scenario there that can unfold if you go out and do it," he said. "Hunting is one of America's great pastimes. It really is one of our great freedoms that we sometimes, I think, take for granted. Find someone who can take you out and show you how great this country is, and what kinds of things are out there in the woods. Even if you're just watching birds and stuff, to me that's beautiful. I could spend all day watching Mother Nature unfold."

Keisel isn't the only Steelers outdoorsman. Ben Roethlisberger hunts. So does guard-center Doug Legursky, safety Ryan Clark and linebacker James Harrison. Safety Troy Polamalu is a dedicated fly fisherman who frequents Central Pennsylvania's limestone streams.

"There are quite a few," said Keisel. "I've hunted with James and with Ben, we get out a little together. I've done a lot of fishing with James. We've gone up to Erie a couple of times for walleyes. We try to enjoy the outdoors together."

Read more:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Outdoor Recreation Benefits Economy

About the writer

Bob Frye is the Tribune-Review outdoors editor.
He can be reached at 724-838-5148 or via e-mail.

When state lawmakers from around the country gathered earlier this month in Fayette County for a meeting of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the focus was on making sure the nation's laws support hunters and anglers as much possible.
A new study will help
According to the Southwick Associates for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, outdoor recreation — when combined with historic preservation — supports 9.4 million jobs nationally each year. That translates to more than $1 trillion in economic impact annually.

The study determined, among other things, that in 2006, outdoor sports — which by definition includes hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, skiing, paddle sports and bicycling — generated $99 billion in federal and state tax revenues. They also supported $9.5 billion in annual retail sales.

That's not to be underestimated, officials said, at a time when the unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.

"As a former Secretary of the Interior, governor, senator and mayor, I have witnessed firsthand how historic preservation, conservation and outdoor recreation result in tremendous benefits to our nation's economy," Dirk Kempthorne said. "This study is a valuable tool for reaffirming and quantifying those benefits."

Former U.S. Congressman and current chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation Lindsay Thomas added: "Sportsmen put billions of dollars of their own money annually into conservation through the licenses they buy and the excise taxes that they pay on hunting and fishing equipment. This combined with the other taxes that are paid through activities associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation total over $100 billion annually contributed to state and federal coffers."

The study is being used by a group known as America's Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, a coalition of more than 770 organizations, to lobby for conservation funding.

"This study is yet more evidence that investing in the environment is good for the fiscal health of our country," said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society and the group's co-chair.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


New law takes effect on Feb. 13

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today applauded the enactment of legislation that will remove the requirement for hunters and trappers to display their licenses on an outer garment. The law takes effect in 60 days.

House Bill 735, sponsored by Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York), was unanimously approved by the House on June 15, and was approved by a vote of 46-3 in the Senate.  Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law today, which will take effect on Feb. 13.

“Since 2003, the Game Commission has been supporting various drafts of legislation sponsored by Rep. Gillespie and Rep. Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) to remove this antiquated requirement,” Roe said. “With today’s new license format, this change in law will make hunting less complicated, improve license management by hunters and trappers, and limit the inconveniences and troubles associated with lost or misplaced licenses.

“While we are pleased with the change in law, it is important to remember that the new law doesn’t take effect for 60 days.  So, hunters and trappers will need to continue to wear their licenses on an outer garment until Feb. 13.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Trap League 2012!

Fight the Winter blues by coming out for the Winter trap league every Sunday starting January 8th 2012.  This league rotates between Frazier Sportsman, West View Sportsmen and Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club. Sign-ups are from 11:00AM to 3:00PM.  League fee is $10.00 per week to shoot 50 targets from 16 yards.  Practice and junior shooters (18 and under) are $7.00 per week. To be eligible for the banquet you must make 9 of 12 shoots.
January 8th at Frazier
January 15th at West View
January 22nd at Bull Creek
January 29th at Frazier
February 5th at West View
February 12th at Bull Creek
February 19th at Frazier
February 26th at West View
March 4th at Bull Creek
March 11th at Frazier
March 18th at West View
March 25th at Bull Creek
April 7th Saturday Banquet at West View