Sunday, March 27, 2011

Springing into duck camp

Every early spring I like to drive the 45 miles to our 42 acres in Okanogan, WA to a place where we call duck camp. We take the truck, chain saw, shovel and other various tool for different situations, you never know what your going to find the first trip into camp after winter.

To our surprise there hadn't been any other vehicles into the group of properties so there was no tracks breaking the snow down. Most of the snow was gone but there was sections of the road that had drifts of a foot and a half. My wife always gets scared when we push through the drifts and there is a big ledge next to the road. Of course it always turns out ok. She was very happy there was no getting stuck "this trip".

We got to the lake next to camp and the winter had brought a tree down across the road. So we stopped and I started cutting the tree into firewood sized bits and stacked them off the road, for the                                                                              
 next time we come over to cut wood for the camp.

We called Dad and let him him know the state of camp after winter while we drive into camp. The lakes are still 75% frozen, there is a good amount of water in the small potholes and there are a few ducks around. Some Mallards, a few Pintails and lots of Buffel heads. The ground squirrels were every where, we saw a big mule deer laying in the sage brush and an early marmot digging in the rocks.

Maddy Cakes had a great time sneaking up on some Buffel Heads in the unfrozen part of the lake next to camp and then watching them fly all around us.

Although we only had a short time in duck camp we all had a blast. Maybe we will find time to spend the night there in the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not such a trophy, trophy.

This is the OBN photo prompt. The prompt is to show off your picture of a small fish or trophy.

Although I did not shoot this deer, I would have if giving the opportunity. I did see this deer while hunting for about 1/4 of a second as it jumped over the hillside never to be seen again. I knew it was in  the area because of these game cam photos I had of it. So laugh if you want but here it is. I do think he is in the running for smallest trophy. P.S In the area of Washington i live in there is no point minimum for whitetails just as long as it has an antler.

I call him the Uni Deer. Because of his lack of two antlers of course.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Damaged goods

So this is one of my many stories of breaking or damaging a piece of outdoor equipment.

I was about 17 and was on a camping 4x4 trip with my brother at a place called clockum pass, which is a dirt road that connects Wenatchee , WA and Ellensburg, WA. It was mid spring and we figured to be the first vehicles of the year to cross the pass besides snow mobiles.

We got about 3/4 of the way over and the snow was still in six foot drifts which makes it hard to drive through. We decided to turn around and camp in a place called bushy creek. We had a herd of 200 elk moving across the valley from us and coyotes howling all around. Since I love sleeping outside and not in tents, I leveled out the area where I was going to sleep and set up my sleeping area.I put a Canvas tarp on the ground then a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag and the wrap the canvas tarp around to keep me dry. My area was about 25 feet from the fire area. Now my brother and I don't exactly like to have small fires. We like the big hot ones. So I went to work gathers dead sage brush for the fire. I had a wall of dead brush (the only thing to burn where we were.) stacked 20 feet long and 6 feet tall.

We got the fire started and started throwing the pieces of brush from the pile onto the fire. When the fire started getting really the hot rocks beside the first started to explode. When I say explode I mean explode, like granades and bombs. Our best guess is the moisture from inside the rocks was expanding and making the rocks explode.

So as the rocks exploded sending hot fragments into the air, we just stood around hoping not to take shrapnel in the face. Anyway the rocks calmed down and a few hours later I went to bed. To my surprise I found holes burned into my sleeping role and little rocks at the bottom of the holes.

Although my tarp has holes in it I still use it every time I go camping. I hate tents. So there it is damaged goods.

Tools of the trade

This will be in response to The writing prompt over at Ben G Outdoors.

The prompt is equipment that malfunctioned and how you over came it.

When I first moved to the methow valley ice fishing seemed like the thing to do. I invited my friends from college up to my new house. None of us had ever been ice fishing before. The question was asked, how do we get through the ice? I got an axe I said the ice should only be a few inches.

We get to the lake and start chopping. Ok we are through the first five inches. Of course every couple inches the hole gets smaller. Ok we are through the first ten inches. At this point we can see air bubbles under the ice. Ok we are FIFTEEN INCHES down, we have to be close. At eighteen inches we hit water. It felt like we hit gold.

Here is the problem, our hole started at about eighteen inches across and now that we are eighteen inches down our hole is about three inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide.

Here is another problem once you break the seal the water wil fill the hole to the top of the ice, for the most part.

So if you don't get it here is the over all problem we had a hold to small to fish out of eighteen inches down under water. Have you ever tried cutting ice with an axe that is under water. You get more wet than anything.

Believe it or not we did catch fish out of the sliver we called a fishing hole.

Jump a head two years, my girl friend at the time now my wife and I decided to go ice fishing. Oooooo but wait, we were too good for an axe now that I had a chainsaw my dad passed down to me.

We get out there and the saw cuts through the ice like butter, till I hit water. The blade slings water like it slings sawdust. It's not a good idea to get all wet when fishing in 10 degrees.

Jump a head one more year, valentines day. My wife did not like the fact I was using the chain saw as an ice fishing tool. So I get a hand auger for VDay and it has worked great ever since.

So I guess my tools did not malfunction or break. But they did evolve.

Please visit Ben G Outdoors and write your prompt and show your support for the leap frog bloggers prompt.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The muddy dog

So I love telling stories about my hunting dogs. So when thinking about what I wanted to write today a great story came into mind.

I was duck hunting with a good friend in Longview WA. I had never hunted down there and my friend was newish to duck hunting. He said he knew of a few spots we could put a sneak on some ducks.

We pulled up to the first spot which was a small creek drainage into a larger river. We hiked down the bank to get behind the cat tails and snuck up on the ducks. I shot 3 and my friend shot 2. My dog Remi brought back 4 birds. Thinking we had one more still down, we walked walked up and down the east bank looking for the duck. We could not find the duck, so we went to our next spot.

Picture of Remi on slate peak in Washington State.
The rest of the day was uneventful and long. On the way back home we decided to stop by the first spot and just see if we could find the missing duck. When we got to the spot and the water was much lower like the tide had gone out. Remi got out onto the mud and started sniffing around. On the west bank she was showing a lot of interest up on the bank. There was about a 2 foot drop off from the top of the bank to the mud and grass was hanging over the bank. Remi jumped off the bank and started looking through the grass hanging over the bank. Remi then disappeared into the bank, she was gone from sight. We heard a light growling and heavy sniffing and grunting coming from the hole she vanished into. (I don't know if it was a beaver den entrance or what but it was deep enough for my 50 pound dog to explore. Anyway a few seconds later this muddy nasty dog came out of the bank with a drake mallard.

The day had very little success but the success we did get way pretty cool.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Leap Frog bloggers prompt

So here we go with the first of many leap from Bloggers Prompts. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, check out my post about increasing traffic. Anyway, the short version is I am going to announce a prompt of some sort. Then out of all the posts we hopefully get I will pick my favorite one, then that blogger will pick a prompt for next week and then pick their favorite post and so on.

After a lot of thought the prompt I want everyone to write about is this:

Everyone who pushes the limits to get the best experience in the outdoors has had a close call with death or injury. What was your experience, and would you do different if you could do it over again?

I will pick my favorite post on Wednesday and post a comment on here so everyone knows who to look to next Friday and I will post a comment on the winner's post so they know as well. I hope this catches on for everyone's benefit.

Here is my prompt post

I was fishing the Tieton Rirver out of Yakima WA with two friends. We were 18 and not the best at making good decisions. We were camped along the river and I saw a area of river that I wanted to fish. The thing was that it was on the opposite side of the river and there was no obvious way to cross, so being the rocket scientists we were we just crossed at a downstream angle. The fishing wasn't that great over there and it was time to cross back to camp. Because of the lay of the land we could not get up river to angle down river to camp and we couldn't angle down river from where we were. So we just had to fight the current to the other side. My two friends made it to the other side. They were not holding a fishing pole like I was. I started across and didn't quite make it. As I fell still holding on to my pole and getting swept down river I threw my free arm towards the bank and just happened to grab a rope my friends threw for me. They pulled me to the shore and we all laughed about it later that night. All I knew was I wasn't losing that pole. Funny thing was, my parents were not told about that part of the trip when we got home.

If I were in the same situation I would just stay on my bank and fish up and down the river, if I was being swept down stream I would let my $10 pole go to help my chance of getting to safety.

Lets get some traffic

So OBN is great, right? They allow us to be apart of a bigger community rather than going at it all alone. My wife over at Down by the Creek has groups she posts on and receives tons of traffic. I surpassed 91 hits in a day - the most I have ever received in a single day. I have an idea but it will take everyone for it to work. If everyone participates then it will benefit everyone.

Here's my idea: I will come up with some type of a prompt, whether it be a photo prompt, writing prompt or maybe a recipe prompt. Whichever I pick, anyone who wants to participate will follow accordingly and link their post to mine. The following Wednesday I will choose my favorite post. That Friday the blogger who wrote my favorite post will choose a prompt for us all to blog about. The Wednesday after, they will chose the post they like the best, and that person will do a prompt, and so on. I hope you get the pattern. I just think this will be one more way to get people to everyones great blogs.I am going to start my idea on Friday March 4th.

So I hope to see you all back on Friday the 4th, and I look forward to seeing everyones posts!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The start of a hunting Mama

 A guest post from Farming Mama

Hunting checklist from mama's perspective

Although I had been out hunting on a couple of occasions before meeting Rory, and had shot several different types of guns, I definitely wasn't a hunter. I hadn't taken a hunters ed class, I had never shot at anything other than the odd tree or target, and I didn't own all that much camo. I was, however, a 'bush kid'. I grew up in the woods  - 'the bush' we called it, and spent most of my time in rural and wild settings up in Canada. As a kid, even though I was a bit of a tree hugger, I knew that some animals got shot or trapped on sight if they came around our house. Raccoons would make a mess of the corn, porcupines would gnaw at the house, muskrat would make a mess of the trout pond, squirrels would steal all the bird food, mice would end up finding a way into the house. I grew up on 100 acres of fields and forest; I knew what death was - from my dad taking care of troublesome wildlife, from the chickens and geese my family used to raise for meat, and from finding animal bones and skulls in the woods.

When I met Rory, I wasn't fazed by him being an avid hunter. I loved being in the woods, in fact I had just finished up 3 intensive summers of fieldwork where most of my waking moments were spent outdoors tracking snakes. This past fall was the third hunting season I've spent with Rory and his family - hunting grouse, spending time at duck camp, and this fall had Rory's first deer. I can even now say that I am a hunter. During my first fall outdoors hunting with Rory, I was determined not to be the one who got sent around to flush birds towards the hunters, not to be the one left behind a bush behind all the action to keep an eye on where the hunters ducks fell, not to be the one sitting back at the truck waiting to let the dogs loose. I wanted in.

I took hunters ed that next spring. Shortly afterwards, we found out I was pregnant with little Maddycakes, but after researching at what age fetuses hearing developed, I didn't let being pregnant stop me from grouse hunting. I was so proud that the first grouse our puppy retrieved was also the first one I shot. One morning on our property the dogs and I flushed a grouse, and while Rory slept, I got my gun and vest and headed back down to shoot it. Boy was he ever surprised when I came back up and woke him up with my blue grouse!

By the time duck hunting rolled around that fall, well, I was getting a little rounder, so I stayed back from the action again. This past fall, after a dismal grouse season, I was motivated to get my first duck. It was hard balancing being the mom and getting out hunting, but Maddycakes cooperated, and after shooting a duck that got away in the weeds (should I mention I got soaked to my mid-thighs in icy water trying to get the dogs onto its scent?!), at the next lake I got my first duck. It was even a green head (male mallard). Rory shot several at that lake as well, and I was so proud of our puppy Lily, then no longer a puppy, as she retrieved three ducks in a row!
Hanging out with the guys though, and especially now that the baby often comes along hunting, means that I need to be the one planning and packing. Rory is content to go hungry if he forgets snacks, or get cold if he forgets a hat. Me, not so much... So here you have it, my list of things I've learned to remember to bring hunting:

More ammo than I think I will need
Camo/tan clothing
Warm clothing - including mitts and a hat
Snacks - depending on how long you will be out
Shovel - for when you get stuck
My gun
My hunting license
Emergency stuff - whistle, knife, matches, etc (if you are into that kind of thing)

I know it's pretty basic, but also remember to let someone know where you are going and when you will be back, and stick to that plan! If you don't let someone know, then at least write a note with these details in it and leave it somewhere obvious in your home, so that if you get lost or hurt or stuck when you are out, someone will be able to find you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Things I Never Leave At home When In The Outdoors

So the OBN Photo Promt this week is asking for pictures of things you would never leave at home when in the outdoors.  I dont know if this counts, but I would never leave or try not to leave my dogs. They can warn me of danger, they can provide companionship, they can find or retrieve food and can provide warmth on a cold night. They are just the best multi tool out there.

Remi and Lily