Sunday, January 30, 2011

Last day of hunting

So today was the last day of duck hunting in the state of Washington. A friend and I met down at our spot where we go when we only have a short period of time to hunt. It was 08:30 and it was sunny and 19 degrees outside.

The walk down to the water was easy because the horses and deer had been keeping a good trail packed down in the snow. When we got close to the water we could see there were lots of ducks sitting in a very hard place to get to.

So we decided to put a "sneak" on the ducks. We hunched down and got to a big wood pile about 75 yards from the water. There was no trail where we were sneaking and the snow was not helping. It was about 1.5 feet deep with a inch of hard crust on the top. Looking over the pile our next move was to a pine tree about 10 yards in front of us. At this point we could only belly crawl so the birds wouldn't see us. From the tree we had to crawl over a log to get behind a snow bank. (you should also know that my dog Remi was also crawling next to me this whole time.) We get to the snow bank and I peak my head over to see where the ducks are. Since the snow had a crust on it, it wasn't exactly quiet. All the ducks were looking right at me. We didn't really have any other cover to move to beyond this point. We were approx 50 yards. But the ducks made up their mind and flew.

As I got up to shoot my back went into lock down, I am assuming it was because of the weird angle I was trying to shoot at. Anyway I got a few shots off, taking feathers out of two ducks but neither of them falling. As I lay there on the ground in pain my buddy asked me if I was alright. I asked him "did you get any?" he said he thought he dropped one. So after a few minutes of trying to stretch my back out I sent Remi out to look for the duck. We figured the duck should be on top of the snow. Remi looked like she was on a scent but we could not see a duck any where. Remi did the stop and a very quick 90 degree turn (if you hunt with dogs you know what I mean) she stuck her head deep into the snow and pulled out a hen mallard.

The rest of the morning was slow and we couldn't get the ducks to go where we wanted them to go.

Even though I didn't get a duck on the last day of the year, I still got to work my dog and see her get a great retrieve in.

Now the count down starts for next year.

Friday, January 28, 2011


So I was just wondering what kind of shotguns people use?

I currently use a Winchester SX3 waterfowler automatic that shoots 3.5 inch shells. I use it for everything in regards to hunting.
I notice in really cold weather it doesn't like to eject the shells and I get a lot of stove pipes. I also have trouble shooting some low base target rounds. They too seem to not want to eject. But I still love the gun and would recommend it. It weighs 7 lbs.

I used to shoot an old Browning auto 5 that my grandpa gave me. It was his gun he bought in 1940. That gun would work no matter how dirty or cold it was. It is heavy at 8 lbs and only shoots 2 3/4 inch shells. If you don't know anything about these guns the barrel actually slides back into the chamber to eject the shells which gives it some extra kick.

I also own a Remington 870 express which will shoot 3 inch shells, good gun for beginners but also works for everyone else. It weighs 7.5 lbs. If you're more experienced in hunting and shooting and you like the 870 I would recommend the 870 express magnum which will shoot the 3 1/2 inch shells. It also most of the time has a longer barrel which I prefer.

I prefer a tighter choke in my guns while hunting ducks, and a bigger choke when hunting grouse. Where I hunt ducks in eastern WA There are many times where I have longer than average shots. So I like the tight group my SX3 throws out there to bring down the ducks. Where I grouse hunt in eastern WA it is in high thick timber or in bushy creek beds. So when you flush a grouse you have to be on it fast and get a shot out fast, with a bigger shot pattern your chances are better to bring down the grouse or what ever you're shooting at.

Well I kind of got on a soap box there but that's how I like my guns.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The bloggers spot

So OBN has asked for a new photo prompt of where you do your writing when at home and what does it look like. Since I do most of my writing in the living room I figured I would show the view from the living room window.

So here it is the beautiful north cascades of Washington State.
Taken from my living room window

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to select gear

So here is another guest post from my wife on how she selects gear.

Hi, Farming Mama here to fill you in on our gear selection process!

I spend a lot of time searching before I commit to buying any new gear item. We use our equipment in all sorts of conditions, many of them less-than-ideal, so having good quality sturdy equipment is key. I like making sure we get the most bang for our buck with our gear, and I love finding great deals, but to me great deals don't compromise quality for a low price. I can't remember ever regretting spending a bit more to get higher end gear, however I do have regrets when I compromise on quality due to money. Obviously we do have budget limits, everyone does, but I would rather save for another month than spend my money on something less-than-worthy.

This isn't to say that I just look for the most expensive version of an item and figure its the best of the best. I spend a fair amount of time looking over reviews, checking multiple sites, and scrutinizing gear pictures (some might call it overkill). However, it means I am rarely surprised by the gear that I get, which trust me, is a good thing! I love browsing through all the reviews that can be found on sites like Amazon, REI, Cabellas, Sierra Trading Post, or Columbia (just to name a few online stores I frequent).

So one thing I do is shop around when I look for our gear. I compare prices, taking into account things like shipping fees, in-store credits I might have, coupon codes I can find online for things like free shipping or 10% off. There are a bunch of great resources online to find coupon codes that you can use at on-line stores. One I have used successfully in the past is Retail me not, but if you do a search for coupon codes you come up with a list of many sites doing the same thing - providing free (and hopefully current!) coupon codes for all your favorite online stores.

Another thing I do is always (with the exception of Amazon purchases) shop through Ebates. For those of you who aren't familiar with Ebates, you create an account, search for your favorite store, check out any current coupons or sales at that store, then click the store's link on the Ebates page to get taken through to that store. Once there, you make your purchases, and Ebates reimburses you for a percentage of your purchase. I've earned almost 40 bucks there since joining about a year ago - free money, just for clicking through their links before I pay! Since you can't use Ebates when shopping on Amazon, I try to price check to see if I will get a good amount back (I've gotten up to 10% cashback!) at Ebates and perhaps even free shipping, before I commit to a lower (perceived) price at Amazon.

I also do shop in-store; while we have plenty of wild areas around where we live to use our gear, we aren't able to just do a quick trip across to the local outdoor gear stores and compare prices and brands - there just isn't that kind of selection unless we drive an hour or more away! We shop in outdoor gear stores when we are visiting family, but I still like to go through the same selection process and have the specific brand and style in mind when we go in.

So there you have it, our gear selection process

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to avoid game violations

First off I just want to say I have been on both sides of this issue; being law enforcment in a rural area I respond to game violation calls and work closely with Fish and Game Agents. But I was young too and did stupid stuff. I have received tickets for failing to wear hunters orange while duck/quail hunting and for using a trebble hook in a river where a single barbless was the only thing allowed to be used.

The number one thing you can do to avoid getting game violation tickets is READ THE REGULATIONS. I realize that you almost need a law degree to undertand them, but playing the ignorant game with something that is clearly stated in game regulations will not help your case.

KNOW THE AREA YOU HUNT. Read maps, talk to land owners, and pay attention to no trespassing and no hunting signs. Know where you are and are not allowed to hunt and fish. Know where the boundaries are from private land to public land.

DON'T BE DUMB. If you know something is illegal don't do it. I know this seems like "DUH" but we have all been there. "There is a big buck and its only 30 minutes to shooting hours." Everyone wants to shoot it, even the game agents who are watching and controlling that decoy buck! I would highly recommend you wait for shooting hours and not shoot from the road.

A little hint: they can put the biggest rack they have on that decoy and its not entrapment. At least not in my state. I really look forward to working the decoy - its amazing what people will shoot.

Now, let's say the agents stop you for some reason. DON'T LIE, it will make things worse. They can take anything that helped you make that mistake (your truck, gun, bow, boat) and fine you lots and lots of money.

If a land owner comes out and confronts you for being on his land (that you got on by accident) I find appologizing and saying your going to leave and never come back works. I recommend to not sit there and argue with the land owner, this will get him even more upset and more likely to call the police. Land owners have been known to block people in their drive way. Don't make things worse for yourself by trying to move anything they put in your way, remember you are in the wrong and if you damage anything of theirs you will be liable for it.

There are of course rules out there that few people understand or agree with, and remember the agents don't make the laws - they are just paid to enforce them.

If you have any questions about legal situations you were in feel free to ask in the comments. Knowing that the input I give you is not legal advice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Take me fishing

This is a writing prompt suggested by to tell a story about introducing a child to the outdoors.

Every year on National fishing day there is a childrens fishing fair in the community where I live. Every year the police diepartment I work for goes to the local fish hatchery and helps children of the community fish for big trout.

Before the can fish they have to go to some educational stations. They can go to the state park stand where the local ranger teaches the kids about life jacket safety. Or they can go to the sand table to play in the mini river ecosystem, learn how erosion works, and hear why it's a good idea to take care of riparian habitat.

After they go to the different stations they get to come fish with the cops. They are so funny with their small G.I. Joe and Barbie fishing poles. They throw their bait out into the pond and if they are lucky they can hook into a 6-8 pounder. Then it's our job to try and net the fish before it breaks the line.

It is so much fun to watch a little child reel in a big fish. It's even better when they are brave enough to hold it and get a picture with it.

After they catch their monster they go to the cleaning station and see the fish biologists gut their fish and they learn about the biology of the fish.

One year I got to fish with my 6 year old nephew. I look forward to bringing my daughter there when she is old enough.

Overall this lets a community come together and helps children of all ages learn about fishing and the outdoors.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do we need more quality waters?

I was reading a fishing forum and I came upon an interesting debate. Do we need more quality waters? Are there too many "dunk your junk" "fished out in two weeks" lakes around and should state F&G set aside more waters for quality fishing. Like fly fishing only or select gear rules (single barbless hook & no bait)  or single fish limit lakes.

I know from experience that the lakes that have fish released into them for the masses are fun for about a week or two till everyone with their power bait comes and fish's them out. I also know that going to a quality lake with big fish and strict regulations also makes for a great day all year round, but makes it harder to fish for someone with little experience.

I do see a need for both, but should one take presidence over another? Should it be up to state F&G to decide, and if so how do we tell them so they will take it seriously?

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Everlite Solar Clip LightSo for my birthday I recieved a gift certificate to REI. It was $30, so the expensive items weren't really an option. As I was shopping online I came upon a solar powered light that attaches to the brim of your baseball cap.  It's called the EverLite. It has three LED lights that light up the night pretty well.  It makes it easy to go find something in your truck at night or walk from point A to point B in low light situations. I would not recomend it to someone who is trying to be covert, it makes you stand out. It is easy to take on and off your hat and also has an easy on off button. I would recomend this light to anyone who normally uses a headlamp that straps around your head. It puts out more light and is less bulky. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby in the woods

So I just joined the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN) and they asked people to post photo's of their favorite places in the outdoors on their blog.  My favorite place to be hunting, fishing, etc is anywhere, as long as my daughter is with me enjoying the the outdoors with me. This is a perfect lead in to my review of the REI Piggy Back backpack, which lets both my daughter and I enjoy our time outdoors.

I use this pack whenever I take my one year old daughter into the woods with me.  It fits me well and I feel my daughter is secure in the backpack. The pack is well padded so you don't have any hard spots digging into your shoulders or back. My daughter loves to be back there looking around to see where we are going. I like the fact that it has a little kick stand for when the pack is on the ground to give it more stability.  The pack itself  is lightweight and easy to load in a trunk or back seat of a vehicle.

The only downsides of the pack are my daughter sits very high so when walking through trees I have to worry about branches that are over my head hitting her. Also there are lightly padded posts that sit at head height in front of my daughter that I could see being uncomfortable if she falls asleep and her head falls forward.

I would recomend this backpack to anyone who loves the outdoors and has a small child . I have used this backpack for hunting and fishing (including fly fishing) with my daughter on my back.

Shoe chains for Mama

My wife FarmingMama at wrote a guest review of her new IceTrekkers shoe chains for me:

I never saw the attraction of shoe chains (basically dumbed down crampons) until walking on icy roads with 3 dogs and a one year old. I have a size 7.5 shoe, generally, and purchased the medium, as recommended for womens shoe sizes ranging from 7.5-10. The first time I put them on my low-cut uninsulated hiking shoes I wasn't sure they would go on. After putting them on and taking them off several times, I find them much easier to work with. I have taken them off while wearing the shoes, and found it quite easy.

I have gone on several walks with them, and have worn them to work. I find it easy to drive while wearing them, and change into slippers at the office. I love having them on while navigating the icy sidewalk and parking lot while getting from the truck to the office. I would definitely feel comfortable going for a run wearing them on my running shoes, and while hiking on the dirt road at home find myself feeling quite confident in them, even while wearing our one year old daughter.

The first time I had them out I had her on my front and was very secure in my footing, meanwhile papa and the dogs were sliding all over the road (mostly) on purpose. At around 45 with shipping and tax, they aren't the cheapest shoe chains on the market, but they seem very durable and I feel that the extra sharp cleats underneath provide better traction than just having small chains that you get with the cheaper types. They are definitely a must-have in my winter outdoor gear pile!

If you want a pair for yourself follow the link below.

ICETrekkers Shoe Diamond Grip (1 Pair), Medium

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter walk

So today I went on a short snowshoe hike. Weather conditions were 19F degrees and lightly snowing. I focussed on my clothing, the Columbia grouse 3 pants, hot chilly base layer for my legs and a Paradox upper base layer.

I was hiking in scrub land with about two feet of snow on the ground.

I originally bought my Columbia grouse three pants for upland bird hunting. I have been pleased with them since I bought them. I started using them as a utility pant. Everything I did outside I used these pants to do. They work great for in the snow. I would not recommend them for multiple day use in the snow unless you have somewhere to dry them out each night. They are water resistant not water proof. They are the kind of pants you wear all day in the snow and don't realize they are wet till you go and take them off. They also keep the snow out of my boots. They have cinch straps on both sides of the waist. Unlike other pants I have used with the same kind of straps they don't loosen up right after you tighten them, which is nice.
Columbia Men's Grouse III Pant,Flax,34x32

My hot chilly lower base layer I use all the time for work and play. They definatly help keep the warm in and cold out. The other day I went for a walk from my house without them under my pants and I could really notice a difference not having them on. Some other lower base layers come with zippers at the ankles which works good if you're putting them on over shoes. The hot chillys don't have a zipper which is nice to me because when I put my boots on, whether my hiking boots or ski boots I never have a small little pain digging into my calf .
Hot Chillys Men's Peach Fly Bottom (Black, Large)

The Paradox upper base layer works great too, it was the only layer I had on under my jacket and stayed warm the whole time. It had a 3/4 on the collar so if I get to hot and start sweating I can zip it down to let the heat out and the cold in. Because we all know that sweating in cold weather is bad.

With everything I had on even when I was basically covered in snow I stayed warm.

If your wondering why I would be covered in snow it's because like to hide from my dogs and make them find me. So when they get to far a head of me I find a big bush and dive into the snow at the base. With the gear I used I stay warm.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

One long cold night

Well I got the fire started and ate some food. Got my bed set up on a Ridgerest foam pad. I had my dog Remi with me. We went to bed about 10pm. It was 0F degrees outside the shelter. I was very warm inside my sleeping bags. When I would breathe into the air my breath would freeze and fall back down onto my face. Seeing as my shelter was only as wide as my sleeping bags Remi was sleeping on my bag. While she was helping me stay warm I apparently was not helping her stay warm. At 4 am she started shivering. I decided I made it six hours and it wasn't worth hurting my dog over a few more hours. I got up got dressed and walk the mile back to the house. The current temp was -3 F.

I am over all happy with my sleeping bags. The big zippers make it easy to use and don't get caught up on the fabric as much as bags with small zippers. The ability to close your self in the bag with only a small opening where your nose would stick out really helps keep the heat it. The female version of the bags also have a fleece pocket to put your hands and where your feet go is all fleece.

The night was a success and over all fun. All my equipment worked well and think I spent my money well.

Equipment list for the night.
- north face snowshoe sleeping bags The North Face Snowshoe 0 Degree Sleeping Bag Long
- MSR snowshoes MSR Evo Snow Shoes (22-Inch, Navy)

- Danner Gortex boots Danner Men's Apb-All Leather Uniform Boot,Black,10.5 D US
- Filson socks Heavyweight Primaloft OTC Socks in Dark Grey Size: Large (9 - 12.5)
- REI down jacket
- Canvas tarp Mustard-Tan Heavy Duty Canvas Tarp - 6ft. x 8ft.
- Ridgerest sleeping pad Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad (Large, Silver/Sage)
- Kelty internal frame back pack Kelty Coyote 4750 Backpack (Nite Sky)
- Columbia grouse 3 pants Columbia Men's Grouse III Pant,Flax,34x32
- OR gloves Outdoor Research Men's PL 400 Gloves, Black, Small
- Gerber multi tool Gerber 01471 Suspension Butterfly Opening Multi-Plier, with Sheath
- Kimber ultra CDP II

If you have any other questions on other gear I used just ask.

Coldest night I ever spent outside

So here I am it's six degrees outside, my snow fort of the night is made and my tarp is over head. I am expecting the temp to drop to -5F tonight. I have my fire started and a wood pile stacked.

Here is the equipment that helped me get here.

My MSR snow shoes have done me well. I gained almost 600 feet of elevation in a short period of time. With a 40lb pack on, the snow shoes have not slipped once even on the near vertical sections of hard icy snow. The rubber straps make it easy for putting on or taking off. Make sure you undo all the straps before you get back into the shoes. I tried keeping the three foot straps on and just took the heel strap on and off and it did not work to well. The straps are also easy to manipulate with gloves on.

My Danner Gortex boots I use for the outdoors are uninsulated. Along with my Filson socks my feet stay dry and mostly warm. When it gets below 0F degrees my feet do get a bit cold if I'm not moving a lot. But I think for uninsulated boots they do great.

My REI down jacket is a must have. I have never been cold in it today hiking at 6 F degrees I was way to warm and had to unzip it to avoid sweating to much. The only down fall is the thin outer fabric that I always think will puncture when I am walking through think brush. But so far so good.

Tonight I have two North Face snowshoe sleeping bags rated to 0 F degrees. Since it will be below zero I have two which both fit into my pack along with everything else I needed for my overnight. The bags are filled with a synthetic blend which I like over down because of it's ability to keep you warm even when it is wet.

Side story. I was camping with my family in the okanogan high lands in October one year. It sleeted and rained all night at about 5:30 am my sister woke me up and told me she was cold and wet in her down bag. I got out of bed and put her into my North Face synthetic bag while she was wet and my bag wisked the moisture away from her drying her off and kept her warm to get some sleep. Needless to say she went out and bought one after.

I will settle in for the night and write more in the morning.