"All good things are wild and free."

-Henry David Thoreau

Duckhunting Public Land

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in Feature Articles | 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!

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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.

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Snowshoeing: Sport, Art, or Enigma?

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Feature Articles | 0 comments

A blank slate!

A blank slate!

Snow fell from the cold night sky. Ahead, a 5-acre meadow covered with the virgin crystals waited for my arrival. No grass or sage protruded from the 16 inches of soft whiteness. No sign of life in any form—not even a deer or moose track—marred the perfect blanket that covered this part of Mother Nature. The blank slate before me not only waited, it beckoned. Who am I to ignore the call?

Although the dark skies were filled with snow-saturated clouds, the hidden waxing moon illuminated the mountainside just enough to allow me to continue forward without the aid of my headlamp. Step after deliberate step, I pressed my shoes into the whiteness, leaving a single compacted trail in my wake. Quickly, the untouched meadow was transformed into a work of art, collaborated only by me and Old Man Winter. White canvas with a single white arc interrupting its form and texture: I call it, snowshoeing.

Snowshoeing is an exercise in contradiction; an enigma within itself. Truly utilitarian in origination, those northerners that were forced to trek through deep snow found it was easier if they didn’t have to sink in so far, and thus they appreciated being able to “float” nearer the surface. But like so many other events in modern society, functionality has been set aside, and we in-part, partake because of the nostalgia and exercise factors. And believe me, this sport lacks neither.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Mascots and Muskets and Bears, oh my!

Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Mountaineer

West Virginia University’s Mountaineer mascot, Jonathon Kimble, recently shot a bear with the same musket he totes on the football field. It apparently isn’t just a prop – it’s a real weapon. Kimble made a video of the hunt with friends and family, and WVU ordered him to stop hunting with it. He says it was done as part of a tradition.

On the video, Kimble yells “Let’s go Mountaineers!” after downing the treed bear. Afterwards, he tweeted a photo of himself aside his first bruin; probably not a tradition that dates back too far.

“While Jonathan Kimble’s actions broke no laws or regulations, the university has discussed this with him, and he agrees that it would be appropriate to forego using the musket in this way in the future,” WVU spokesman John Bolt said.

“Hunting can be a controversial topic,” Kimble said. “I apologize to any of those who took offense to the video. It definitely wasn’t my intent to offend anybody. Other Mountaineers have gone and shot multiple deer with it before. I’ve taken it with me deer hunting before, also.”

But some WVU fans stood behind Kimble on Friday.

“If you’re from West Virginia and you love the outdoors, or if you hunt or don’t hunt, or if you fish or don’t fish, it is a celebration of this state. As a former WVU graduate, I’m thrilled to death with him. Happy as can be.”

Kimble was selected from 13 applicants earlier this year to represent WVU as their mascot.

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Hiking Mt. Ellinor

Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in Hiking | 0 comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMt. Ellinor at 5944 ft.  Located on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington, in the Olympic National Forest.

Being a flat-lander from Iowa, I was unprepared for this hike when a friend first told me about it nearly 12 years ago. It was July 4th when I reached the upper trailhead, roughly 2400 feet in elevation and 2 miles away from the summit. I thought no big deal, but I brought an extra t-shirt along with me just in case. To go with my shorts. Half-way up, near the treeline, I met a couple hikers coming off the mountain who looked like they had just descended Everest. Ice picks, crampons, goggles, expensive puffy jackets.”What are these guys training or something?” I asked myself. “It’s like 80 degrees in Olympia.”

About an hour later, I found myself in a steep snowfield that could cover dozens of football fields, forcing each toe into the icy mountain; gripping the side of the snowy hill with my naked hands like a scared little monkey.

My friend didn’t tell me there was snow up there…often all year around. He didn’t tell me they had just received several inches the night before. He didn’t tell me that I was going to slide off the precipice of an icy mountain to my certain death. Well, as convinced as I was, that luckily didn’t happen.

At the top, you are dealing with more snow, loose gravel, very steep terrain, rock outcroppings, and very possibly, wild Mt. Goats. There are several nice, flat areas at the very top, where you can lose track of time staring at the amazing vistas of snow-capped jagged peaks to the west and north, and river valleys and salt water ways to the south and east. And believe me, this makes it all worth while.

I’ve done this hike with my wife and middle-school kids in August several years back, knowing what to expect. Bring a lunch, a walking stick, two bottles of water, a light jacket and an extra warm shirt, along with the other hiking essentials, of course. Pay attention to the trail that lies ahead of you, be very deliberate about your foot placement near the top, and relax. Enjoy the ride!

Oh…the goats. Check with the nearest forest station before you go. At the time of this writing, the goats were considered a threat and the trail was closed. Seems silly to me, but I don’t make the rules.

DIRECTIONS:  From I-5 in Olympia, take US 101 north to Hoodsport. Turn left (west) onto State Route 119 and proceed 9.3 miles to a T intersection with Forest Road 24. Turn right onto graveled FR 24, proceed 1.6 miles, and turn left onto FR 2419. After 4.8 miles come to the lower trailhead. The upper trailhead can be reached by continuing on FR 2419 for 1.6 miles, where you turn left on FR 2419-014 and follow it 1 mile to the upper trailhead.

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Welcome!

Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in The Great Outdoors | 0 comments

Welcome to ThierOutdoors! Hunting has been my lifelong passion, and bowhunting has surpassed my wildest dreams. When I can’t hunt, I enjoy hiking, biking, running, photography, writing, and promoting the outdoor experience.

My goal is to bring you gripping stories, amazing photos, and valuable information that reflect the appreciation and fascination that I and others have with that wonderful thing we call…the outdoors. I welcome you to subscribe to receive blog updates, so adventure will show up in your inbox. Welcome to your next adventure!

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