Posts Tagged "Iowa"

Black Bears: Please stop charging me!

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in Feature Articles | 0 comments

Washington's Mt. Adams, on my way to bear camp.

Washington’s Mt. Adams, on my way to bear camp.

 

Close encounter with black bear #3… in less than a year!

I don’t make this stuff up. Honestly. Yes, it happened again. When I was bear hunting on August 16, 2013 near Mt. Adams in Washington state, I had yet another very close, hair-raising and heart-pounding encounter with a black bear

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We’re not in Iowa, Toto: Bowhunting Mountain Whitetails.

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in Feature Articles | 0 comments

Okanogan River

Destination: whitetail hunting the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Growing up in the rolling hills of NE Iowa, I’ve hunted whitetail deer with a shotgun several times in the eighties and nineties; typically on small, partially wooded farms that were owned by friends or relatives. Now living in the Pacific Northwest, I don’t have the option of an affordable, private property hunt. So I did what any maniacal, masochistic hunter would do: I took up bow hunting— the same year I decided to chase the whitetails that roamed the public mountains of eastern Washington. To add to the challenge of hunting such an elusive beast in such a fashion, I intended to settle for nothing less than a mature buck, and I wanted to take him while hunting from the ground.

No trail cams. No food plots. No ground blind. No baiting. No guides. Oh, and I have to mention, in this state, over-the-counter bowhunters aren’t even afforded the opportunity to hunt the pre- or peak rut! Yeah, this is where the maniacal part comes in. I’d be honored and thrilled to hunt any deer in true “Midwest fashion,” but I just didn’t have the connections, pocketbook, or time to do it here. In addition, the mountainous, public-land geography of this state doesn’t lend itself to such an undertaking. Although my home farm in Iowa is now a whitetail bow-hunting Mecca thanks to efforts of my older brother, Larry; I have never hunted whitetails there with a bow or from a stand.

“It can’t be all that different than elk hunting,” I convinced myself. Ha. I’ve hunted mature elk successfully, and truth be told, this is a lot tougher. But I love to challenge myself, and I love the experience of having the experience. After several years, several encounters, and countless heart-breaks in my back pocket, I knew it could be done. It was only a matter of time before the perfect scenario would present itself.

 Day 1: Monday, 11/26/12.

There was nearly three inches of snow blanketing the forest floor as I left my truck behind in the darkness. It was parked on an old forest service road that my buddy Rich Sandstrom and I affectionately named, “The Number 2 Road,” for being the second area where you could pull off the main forest service road. It was 5:30 in the morning and the woods were black, but I knew the area well. I had been hunting this particular part of the Okanogan National Forest—in fact parking in the same spot—for six years in search of the wily animal. I’ve had several close encounters with true record book bucks, but I haven’t harvested a single deer in this area.

It was a dry and cold 17 degrees Fahrenheit, exactly 34 degrees warmer than my last experience at the same stand. But that’s a whole other, bone-chilling story. That’s also where the masochistic part comes in. I climbed to the top of the ladder and then up several small pine branches another three feet to reach my platform (In 2010, I broke down and hung a treestand, but to this day it remains fruitless). I hung my headlamp and bow, and started the ritual of dressing for standing still all day. Layers and layers of warm clothing, binoculars strapped on, range finder in my coat pocket, and on and on with gadgets and invaluable tricks of the trade.

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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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