Hunting

Why I Hunt

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

Peace and Solitude: a couple of the many reasons I hunt.

Peace and Solitude: a couple of the many reasons I hunt.

A plethora of people have asked me the question throughout my lifetime, especially lately: “Why do you hunt?” To someone who is as passionate about hunting as I am, the answer is extremely easy, and yet as multi-faceted as the endeavor itself. To try to put into words the reasoning behind the passion is like saying Antarctica is a really cool place. In fact, so much of why I hunt cannot be described with these little devices of human language. Words are best used to describe the physical world, and passion often isn’t of it.

So with this premise in mind, I have broken down the answer of why I hunt into reasons deriving from the tangible and the not-so tangible. Hey, I warned you the answer was easy, not simple.

Read More

5 MORE Big Challenges with Bowhunting, and how to overcome them.

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

Cougar tracks. I wasn't far behind this cat in Eastern Washington.

Cougar tracks. I wasn’t far behind this cat in Eastern Washington.

6. Scouting. When you only have to get to within 200 or 300 yards of an animal, your scouting can be substantially more lackadaisical. When you need to be within 20 or 30 yards, your scouting has to be as pinpointed as the shot itself. You can’t just find an “area with sign,” you have to find exactly where your game will be and when they will be there. Hunting in the National Forest is a different beast altogether, as it took me several years to pinpoint where the wily whitetail buck was going to show up. This year it paid off with a 140’s class brute. Although I have yet to employ them, game cameras are justifiably all the rage for obvious reasons.

Read More

5 Big Challenges of Bowhunting…and how to overcome them.

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

Tall-tined Blacktail on the Pacific Coast

Tall-tined Blacktail on the Pacific Coast

When I entered the world of bowhunting as a 40 year-old, I thought it was going to be easier than it was. I admit, part of my challenge is where I hunt, how I hunt, and for what I hunt. Although I have a decent resume of animals I have taken with a bow, none have been from a treestand, none have been on guided hunts, and none have been on private property. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against guided hunts or taking animals from trees; I am all for it and I want to do it! But the fact is, I was simply not afforded the opportunity. So I had to learn by trial and error as I taught myself the ins and outs of bowhunting public forests and mountains. Let it be clear, I am still learning every time I enter the woods. Here are 5 big challenges of hunting with a bow, in no particular order.

Read More

Black Bear vs. Mountain Lion

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Left: Mountain Lion. Right: Black Bear.

Most often when we talk about predators, especially those in the North American mountainous wilderness, we lump black bears and cougars in the same breath. Both are generally considered more dangerous than a coyote or bobcat, but not quite as dangerous as a brown bear…probably a notion justified by sheer size alone. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the amazing experience of harvesting these two predators in recent years, and while the taxidermist is completing the mounts, I paid a few extra dollars to have the skulls cleaned, boiled and bleached (of sorts…not sure of the exact chemical). Yeah, I probably could have messed around with it myself, but that is exactly what I would have created in the process: a mess. Needless to say, I believe it was well worth it.

Obviously bears and cats are classified in two different families, but the differences have never been so glaring as when I began to take a closer look at their skulls. There is a lot to be learned about the differences between the animals, their behavior, and therefore, how to hunt them. The first obvious difference between the two skulls is the length and shape. While the cat’s head is short and compact, the bears head, especially the nasal canal, is much longer. So what? This tells me several things.

SMELL. Bear wins… hands down. There is an old Sioux Indian adage that goes: “The eagle sees a leaf fall in the forest. The deer hears a leaf fall in the forest. The bear smells a leaf fall in the forest.” In looking at the length of the snout, this is no wonder. Quite simply, many more olfactory receptors fit there, as opposed to the cat. And like dogs, having a long snout allows a greater volume of scent to linger in the canal, and for a longer period of time.

Read More

Duck Hunting Public Land: Conclusion

Posted by on Jan 3, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

Set a simple spread. What connects the larger bodies of water in this chain of lakes, are small feeder streams that run from one to another, bisecting the landscape of sage hills and rock cliffs. I set up my decoys in three groups. One group was a mix of widgeon and mallards, and was tucked near the far shore, across the inlet from the blind. The rest of the decoys were mallards, and they sat staggered about 25 feet off the near shoreline. In essence, I created a simple, open-water landing strip between the two groups. Oftentimes, creating the classic “J” or “V” pattern with your dekes can create a nice, open welcome mat, as well, depending on the type of water you are hunting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Keep the wind at your back. Ducks like to land into the wind, and experience tells me ducks will generally fly down the waterways that line the bottoms of these particular canyons, so I felt good about the simple set-up. The life-sized, flocked geese comprised the third group, and they sat nicely on the shore of a small bay behind me. I really didn’t expect to shoot geese that day, but I don’t think it ever hurts to have a distraction nearby; something to add to the confidence of the wary fliers.

Blend in, be still. I almost expected the divers to land in my spread before first light. They did not disappoint. There’s something magical about being only a few yards away from the animal you want to hunt. You are in each other’s space; something Mother Nature never really intends to happen. But you can get close—real close—as I learned in the bowhunting world, as long as you wear the right camo and be ever so vigilant about your movement. After several minutes, the buffleheads slowly paddled away from my spread and away from me, seeming to sense the danger in the near blackness.

Talk to the animals. From as early as I could see, birds sporadically flew down the canyon, generally from right to left. Shortly after first light, I turned one of the lower-sailing flocks with a classic bawl, and with buried face and call in hand, purred the flock directly into my blind like something out of a duck-hunting textbook. With adrenaline flowing, fire erupted from my 12-gauge as I emptied three shells into the morning sky. Nothing.

Practice! After a short time, I settled into a shooting groove, and the duck Gods ended up on my side. By 9:00, I had filled my duck quota of 7 birds. Two scaups, three buffleheads, a green-wing teal, and a widgeon sacrificed their lives for my dinner table, and I appreciate that. And I appreciated that telescoping pole when I was chest deep in murky water!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hitting the duck waters after losing your dog isn’t easy, and most of the time neither is shooting a limit of ducks on public land. But I know that experience, fortune, and even Mollie was on my side that morning, as in my mind she hurried into the water and happily retrieved those 7 ducks; like she really did a year earlier in that very same spot. If you follow these simple pointers on duck hunting public land, you’ll be on your way to shooting your limit, too. Now get out there, give your dog a hug, and go hunting!

Read More

Duck Hunting Public Land: Part 1

Posted by on Jan 1, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

The air that crept through the small opening of my mummy bag was icy enough to wake me. It was 3:30 in the morning; a good 2 and a half hours before shooting time. The ducks weren’t even awake yet, but I crawled from the back of my pickup and fired up the Coleman. It was 26 degrees, and hot coffee was on the menu. Ah, the joys of duck hunting!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I arrived at the string of pothole lakes in Central Washington the night before, after stopping for a quick pheasant hunt on the way, before darkness settled in. A single quail was now nestled in my orange game bag as a result. I had to be back home that night, so this particular morning would define my entire hunting “weekend.” Home was a 4-hour drive away. Here are just a few pointers that helped me get the job done.

Get there early. I don’t have the opportunity of hunting on private or leased ground, nor do I pay for a guide, which is one reason I drive the lengths I do for even a chance of a quality DIY hunt. Needless to say, when left to hunting public areas, no matter how remote they may look on a map, getting there early is always a must.

Use the right tools. I finished my coffee and started the near-mile hike with 12 decoys—two geese and ten old, scuffed-up ducks—strapped to my back. I carried my old Mossberg in one hand, and a telescoping pole in the other. My black lab, Mollie, passed away unexpectedly earlier in the summer, so I was left with waders and a long hooky gizmo to retrieve my quarry. She was a great dog, and as so many duck hunters would suspect, she was unequivocally the happiest when she was swimming after a downed quacker. This was my first duck hunt without Mollie, so to say it wasn’t easy is an understatement. But as I left the parking area, I noticed I was still the only hunter there, and that made my spirits rise. A bit.

Read More