Posts Tagged "shotgun"

The Most Fortunate Turkey Hunt…Ever

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Feature Articles | 0 comments

I would never have imagined in a million years what I was about to see when I opened my eyes and lifted my head from that sunny boulder protruding from the earth on the side of that peaceful mountain. But I saw it. The image lasted a mere second in reality, but has been burned into my mind forever. From this season forward, I will never think of turkey hunting the same. If not for one small but significant piece of evidence, no one would ever have a reason to believe such a story. I still can hardly believe it myself, and I can’t get it out of my mind.

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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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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!

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.

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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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