Posts Tagged "winter"

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.

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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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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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