Excuses or Opportunities

Peering through the RV’s door, I notice the rain has subsided for the moment. With the temperature on my phone showing 36 degrees Fahrenheit, I layer with a relatively tight-armed hoodie over a wicking shirt and choose my fleece-lined jeans for my outdoor adventure. The ground is soggy wet, so my red Lacrosse rubber boots are perfect to keep my feet dry and bring my thoughts back to other pleasant experiences of slogging through the rain. I grab my archery chair, Jeffery longbow and walk out the door to my outdoor archery range. Following the NTS (National Training System) shot process, I commence to shoot arrows down range. Nothing clears the mind like experiencing the flight of well loosed arrows.

My business is JoCamps Archery Boot Camps and I travel to communities all over the United States to teach kids and adults methods that will help them shoot a bow better for recreation, competition or hunting. Since travel plans have changed and income opportunities have been cancelled due to emergency efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, I’ve had time on my hands. Many folks would turn on the TV, but I prefer a good book, a walk or hike, a hard workout, fishing or shooting my bow.

Initially my focus is on 2 new books, “Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name,” by Max Lucado and “Coaching Better Every Season,” by Wade Gilbert. Just last week, I devoured “Fueling Young Athletes,” by H. Mangieri, and “The Outside Life: Finding God in the Heart of Nature,” by Laurie Kehler captivated me a few weeks ago.

I take my archery coaching profession very seriously. Having already won 12 3D World Championships and represented the USA in the World Archery 3D Championships, you might think that I would be satisfied, but that’s not me. I continually strive to become a better competitor, bowhunter, speaker and coach. I feel very blessed that I can use my God-given talents to help others and strive to share God’s love with others through the sport of archery.

I have been contacted by several archers since the COVID-19 pandemic began disrupting life in the US. For some archers, their NASP or S3DA state championship was their last opportunity to claim a state title in archery; the opportunity to compete in front of their family, team, competitors and huge crowd of gathers was postponed and ultimately cancelled. For others, it was their first chance to compete at the state level. After all the hard work and time that these kids and adults had put into their sport, their dreams were curtailed. At first their thoughts were on how unfairly it was taken away, but I chose to enlighten them to the bigger picture. This is hampering normal life for everyone. No doubt, COVID-19 is impacting our plans. Events with large gatherings of people have been cancelled or postponed: schools are out; sporting events and concerts and even entire seasons have been postponed or cancelled. Even churches are not holding services at their sanctuaries. For some of the events, a virtual opportunity is available; for others, it just won’t happen. These cancellations and postponements can be excuses to sit around getting fat, lazy, depressed and worried or you can look for the opportunities that this unexpected at-home time can present.

I choose to look for the opportunities. Being an avid outdoors gal, I know that I need to soak up some sunshine. Yes, I want to catch up on honey-dos like spring cleaning inside our RV and storage building. But really, please let me outside. Our RV travel trailer that we call home and the utility trailer need cleaning and protecting. There is yard work to be done: limbs to be moved; briars and bushes to be cut; trash thrown by passers-by to be picked up and disposed of and lanes to be cut for my 3D targets.

And hunters know that turkey season is open in some states or just around the corner in others. In preparation for turkey hunting with my bow, I need to sight-in the arrows and broadheads. Maybe I will hunt with my trusty shotgun and turkey loads, but again, patterning the shotgun with the best load is a must to ensure success once you the tom called into range. It is time. I sure have missed spring turkey hunting.

Attention! Moms, dads, boys and girls, instead of making excuses look for the opportunities that you now have the time to do. Go outside and enjoy the spring air and sunshine. Take your kids for walking in the woods. Go scouting for turkeys. Fishing in a lake, creek, river or pond with the family will create memories that you will cherish.

If you are an archer, use this time to practice your sport. Both you and I need to get ready to shoot our best which means getting in good physical and mental condition. Time to practice, so when the day comes that things normalize, we are ready. I choose to use this time to make myself better.  Work on your shot; I recommend that you commit to consistently executing the NTS (National Training System) shot process. If you are like me and have been shooting for many years, it will take a considerable amount of time and effort to replace the old subconscious program with a new one. If you are a new archer, you have the advantage of learning a more efficient method from the beginning. NTS will reduce the chance of injury and allow you to shoot the bow easier and more accurately for longer periods of time. When properly implemented, NTS uses your bone structure in addition to your muscles to give you a steadier, more consistent shot. If you don’t know what NTS is, feel free to message me and I will gladly share more information.

I am available to do virtual coaching and when our country gets back to normal, I will resume my mobile JoCamps, Women’s Archery for Bowhunters Retreats with Sisterhood of the Outdoors and Shoot Like a Girl, Archery Instructor Training and Seminars. In the mean-time, look for more blog posts, articles, videos and social media posts on Facebook at Joella Bates or @joellasjourney or @JoCamps, YouTube, Instagram and my websites or If you want to schedule a virtual coaching session. Email me at or


Goose Hunting Gals & Shredded Street Tacos

Imagine the excitement that filled my heart when my 13-year-old daughter, Lilli, hears that I am going goose hunting and says, “I want to go!”

Yes! Finally, a child who is interested in hunting! One out of three isn’t too bad…right??

My expectations were high early that morning as we traveled the 45 minutes to meet our guide, Jared. I met Jared this summer at a banquet on the opposite side of Wyoming. We have kept in touch on social media and when he suggested we hit the goose blinds – my response was simple, “What time do I need to be there?!”

As we drove down the interstate, Lilli and I talked about hunting and she asked questions that I surprisingly was able to answer. Although I consider myself a newbie to hunting, it felt good to be able to share what I have already learned with my daughter.

This is one reason why I became so involved in hunting and fishing so quickly over the last few years…because I knew it was something I wanted to share with my kids. And to do that I needed experience. In order to share what I learn…. I had to do.

We arrived ahead of our 5:45 am meet up time, so we ran into the gas station for snacks and to use the restroom. When kids tag along, making sure their needs are met will go a long way in ensuring an enjoyable day for them and a successful day for yourself. We grabbed snacks and hot chocolate, then headed out to the blinds.

As we unloaded the trailer in the dark, I was surprised how Lilli jumped in and started helping as if she knew exactly what she was doing. Under direction from Jared, we got the decoys set up and the lay down blinds positioned and camouflaged.

Climbing into the blinds as the sun began to peek over the horizon, anticipation of the day’s hunt mounted. Lilli was soaking it all up. As geese approached Jared began calling, and you could see how much he loved doing this. His enthusiasm in calling, the knowledge he shared, his patience with his pup, Bella…we were witnessing someone doing what he was born to do.

It was perfect. It was a beautiful morning and we were learning from an amazing guide. I peeked over at Lilli, expecting to see an excited smile and anticipation in her eyes.

She was asleep.

Dead to the world asleep.

I just laughed to myself and thought, “So this is what it’s like to hunt with kids…” I adjusted my position and readied my shotgun. She wouldn’t sleep for long…the geese were starting to circle overhead.

It was a great day, as any day hunting usually is. We knocked some geese down and let some fly to see another day. I learned a lot; the biggest lesson being that I need more experience and practice with a shotgun. But mostly, I was grateful I was able to hunt and learn from a friend and share the experience with my daughter.

Shredded Goose Street Tacos

Showing my kids where their food comes from is important to me. So, involving them in preparing the harvest in the kitchen is equally important. Lilli prepped all the ingredients going into this recipe, and then we cooked it low and slow to ensure tender, shredded goose.

  • 4 lbs. goose breast
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 chipotle chilis with sauce (added heat)
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground clove
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 c beef stock
  • Small “street taco” shells
  • Serve with avocado slices, diced white onion, lime wedges, Cotija cheese, and cilantro


  1. In a food processor add garlic, chilis, onion, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, bay leaves, paprika, clove, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and beef stock.
  2. Mix on high until the ingredients are combined.
  3. Lay goose breasts in a slow cooker and cover with mixture.
  4. Cook on high for 6-8 hours. If you are using a pressure cooker, 1-2 hours.
  5. Pull meat out of sauce and shred. Once shredded, spoon sauce over meat to maintain moisture. More sauce can be added to prepared tacos.
  6. To each street taco, add shredded meat, avocado, onion, Cotija cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
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