Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 grouse hunting

I originally posted this as a guest post over at The Unlucky Hunter.

So in my family September is Grouse hunting. We look forward to it for all 8 months once duck hunting is finished in late January. Grouse hunting is also my wife's favorite hunting season. She loves spending time with me, our daughter Maddy and the dogs. We love the mountain top hikes and the views while looking for blue grouse, as well as chasing the ruffed grouse in the creek bottoms where the grouse flush and you are lucky to get a clear shot. The good days are when we get to do both.

First two grouse of year

This year my wife was the lucky one who shot the first two grouse, and the first day ended slow my wife shot 2 and I shot one grouse and one rabbit.

Later in the year we decided to check out some roads we have never walked in past years. They did produce some grouse so we will add them into our routine of closed roads to hunt.

But the best day came one evening when my wife, Maddy and I decided to go for a hunt after work. we left the house at about 4pm. We first went to the 300 rd and I saw a quick glimpse of what I believed to be a grouse run from the road to the bushes.  So the breaks came on and we jumped out of my old jeep.  It always a great feeling when your standing in the bushes and can hear the grouse running on all the dry leaves around you, but you cant see them.

Maddy getting ready to go hunting

Finally the group of grouse erupts into the thick creek bottom. I could see one perched in a tree and as I was about to shoot it my wife yells I see one. Of course I think it is the same one I see, but being the good husband I am I tell her to shoot it. Bang, she shoots and says she got it, and lucky me my grouse is still in my tree so I shoot it. My wife gets into the creek bottom with the dogs to retrieve the grouse. While she was down there I saw a bee's nest in the tree that looks like a grouse. Of course right at that time my wife says she sees another one. I warn her of the nest and she is confident that what she sees is a grouse. When she shoots her grouse another one takes off right next to my head and flies up the hill behind me.

So I walk up to the top of the hill and it flushes.  Just as it is about to drop over the next hill I dump it. After I find it I walked back down to the road and I end up shooting one more out of a fir tree. So we got a total of 5 ruffed grouse out of this group. In Washington State a daily limit of grouse is 4 per person of ruffed or blue grouse only.

Next we decided to drive over to the next canyon over and hunt the ridge between the that canyon and the one we were in currently. We drive to the top of the road and walk up to the top of the ridge. My wife goes towards the top of the ridge and I walk low around the shaded backside of the ridge with our dogs Remi and Lily our German Wire Haired Pointing Griffons.

All of a sudden Remi gets birdy. Of course every dog is different but Remi gets low to the ground and her nose works back and forth quickly and stedily low to the ground making a heavy sniffing sound and her tail stays very parallel to the ground and wags back and forth. She continues to work through the tall grass and I have to walk at a fast pace to keep up with her. Then Lily come over and gets birdy as well. We work the hillside for about 60 yards, then both dogs stop and go on hard point. I look up and about 15 yards in front of them there is a big blue grouse sitting on a rock above the grass. As I shoot the grouse 3 or 4 more take off from the grass below it.

My wife come running over to see if she can get into the action but of course everything is gone by the time she gets there.

So we walk to the top of the ridge with my wife a little disapointed. But lucky her the dogs get birdy again. They work for about 20 yards and with out warning blue grouse after blue grouse start getting up out of the  sun dried grass. It was amazing so see them flush like this.  It was very hard for me not to start shooting but my limit was done.  My wife saw where some landed in a tree down the steep rocky hill. Like the determined hunter she is we hike our butts down the hill. She shot two of the grouse, and as usual when hunting steep terrain when the grouse fell they had to roll a few yards down the hill. Luckily we have our amazing dogs  who happily go down an bring them back up to us. We hiked back up over the top and back down to where the jeep was parked and took some pictures right as we were losing the light of the sun.

We drove home that night with the feeling of MAN THAT WAS AN  AWSOME HUNT!!! And a story we will tell for ever.

This Hunters Dream

So my big dream is to own a hunting ranch. I want a few hundred acres of high fenced land, with hills/ mountains and some meadows or fields along with a stream and lakes. (Sounds Nice Right?)

I want to provide opportunities to hunt upland birds, ducks, turkeys and big game whether it be whitetail deer, mule deer, elk or maybe even an exotic species.

I have a few questions I hope the people of OBN and who ever else is reading can answer.

1. How much does buying Deer cost and where should I buy them from. ( I want to buy and manage my own herd because I want to be open all year long without the need for seasons.)

2. How many deer should I start with to build up my herd.

3. What is the smallest amount of property I could get started with.

4. What is the average price people will pay to come hunt something like this.

Now I know I can find all of this online, but a lot of the info I look up is old and out of date. I am hoping people can answer these questions, so I can at least start a plan, it never hurts to plan and set goals. I am sure I will have many more questions in the future but this can get me started. And maybe someone else has the same dream and same questions and can find their answers here.

Beautiful View

So I was working the other day and looked outside and saw a beautiful sunset. I called my wife who was about 20 miles away at home to ask her to take some pictures of it. She told me she already did, so I thought I would share the beautiful view with everyone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Cougar Truth

So in late October I posted this picture on my Facebook page with a caption that said "I filled my 2011 Cougar tag." The picture was real and the caption was real. Is it my fault that that people assumed I shot and killed the cougar.

Even though I have not lied about anything I will just let people know the truth.

I just got back from a week of successful duck hunting. On this particular night it was supposed to be a relaxing evening with my wife and daughter before I went back to work. At about 5pm I received a call from a local game agent and friend of mine.

The first thing he asks me "What are you doing?"

So I start going through all the hunting in I have done this year and trying to figure out what I did wrong somewhere. But I cant think of anything so I ask "What do you mean?"

He starts laughing and then asks "Do you want a cougar?"

I told him of course I want a cougar.

He goes on to tell me he shot a cougar and knows I have a cougar tag and he also knew I wanted a cougar. He tells me he will bring it to my house and we hang up.

So now I go tell my wife the good news.......  So hey guess what, the game agent is brings a cougar over for us. My wife was not exactly happy to hear that I will be processing a cougar on our relaxing night. But over the next 15 minutes I convince her it will be ok, and I invited a friend over to help process and speed up the process.  

So my friend arrives and the game agent arrives with the cougar. The Agent tells us how to skin it and what the good meat parts are and how to cook them. He also explains that this cougar was living in a barn about 15 miles away. The cougar was not afraid of humans and would just sit there and watch people as they walked by. The farm it was on had live stock and children around so it was a very unsafe situation, so the agent had put the cougar down.

I took some pictures and we got to work using my Havalon knives, we skinned it leaving the skull and paws in the hide. My goal was to let the taxidermist do the hard work of the claws and skull. I found out that for the taxidermist to clean the skull it would be $100. So I eventually took the skull out of the hide but still left the paws for the taxidermist.

I am very happy with how the skull has turned out, thanks to the help of a friend. We wont know how the hide turns out for another couple months when we get it back.

We are going to try the cougar meat for the first time tonight so we will see how it goes, I've heard good things about cougar meat.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Havalon Knives the best new knife on the market

In early fall I was working and walking around Winthrop, Wa and I went into a store called The Outdoorsman and I spoke with the owner who showed me this new knife by Havalon Knives. This is a scalpel knife with replaceable blades.

When you buy this knife you get 12 replacement blades. All the blades are as sharp as any surgical blade, individually packaged and 100% sterile. When the blade your using gets dull pull the blade off and put another one on. The knifes and blades come in many different shapes and styles.

I bought a plastic model which is extremely light weight. I received 12 of the normal pointed (60) blades with the knifes as well. This year I skinned a deer, a cougar and cleaned several ducks, geese, grouse and chickens with the knife only using 4 blades.

I went back to buy the gutting (XT) blade that has a rounded tip on it to open big game without the mess and stink of cutting the gut sack.

 This is the sharpest knife I have ever owned and I would recommend this knife for anyone who needs to clean any animal. They also come in larger filet knife models for fish.

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Mule Deer

Well 2011 was my second year really trying to get myself a deer. See in Washington State deer and duck hunting open the same day, and for most of my life I have gone duck hunting.

This year I did take the opening of deer and duck season to go duck hunting at duck camp because grandma AKA BUBBLES goes to camp opening weekend and I would hate to miss Bubbles in camp.

Anyway opening duck went well I shot my limit but had to leave that night because I had to work Sunday - Tuesday.

Every year my friend comes up to go duck hunting for a little over a week. He gets to my house on Tuesday and since the first Thursday and Friday of duck season is always closed, this year I gave the Wednesday - Friday morning to deer hunting.
I of course bring my friend along with me because, well I am not dumb, he is the muscle - I shoot big Mule deer, sometimes far away from the truck and I don't want to drag a deer all by myself.

Tuesday afternoon before I worked we went to the "State Land" where I shot my big deer last year and my other hunting buddy decides to come along as well. Both friends had already shot their deer. We must have seen 50 deer up in the grassy area we hunt. In that 50 deer we saw about 8 bucks all 2X2's or smaller. Here in Washington the Mule deer have to have at least three points on one side. It was a nice walk but no shooters.

Wednesday morning my friend and I went to what we call the School Property which is State DNR land we walk to from my house. We walked for miles up steep hills and all around and we did not see even one deer which was very discouraging.

Wednesday night I stayed at home to watch my daughter as Mama had to work. But us guys discussed our plan for the next morning. We were going to get up before light and get to the "State Land" before sunrise.

So here it is Thursday morning, my alarm goes off and I promptly turn it off. My daughter wakes up at 7 so I get up and wake my friend up. We get some food in us and head out the door.

We get to the private land we are allowed to hunt below the state land and decide to drive around real quick before walking up the hill. We get to the lower part of the property and I see two deer up on the hillside. As one disappears behind some Saskatoon bushes the other one slowly heads up the hill. We get out and put the bino's on the front deer.

My friends says its a 2X2, but as I look closer I can see where one of the forks is split to make it a 2X3 - a legal buck. As I get to a pile of wood to set up a shot this other deer walks out of the bushes in the opposite direction. As I put my scope on it I see it is a much bigger 3X3, and it disappears behind the hillside.

We run over to get into position and I lay down on a pile of sand. It walks up the hill side at about 80 yards. I put my cross hairs on it and BANG.

When I bring my scope back down I don't see my deer. I do see four does sitting there looking at me. My friend was no help at this point as he was still watching the other buck and didn't see my buck.

I am hoping that my deer went down right away, so we just stayed put for about 15 minutes so it could bleed out. Finally we walked up there and there it was laying in a small ditch still alive but with a broken back. I cut its throat and it was done.

I removed the guts as my friend drove the truck within 30 yards of the deer and then he drug it to the truck for me....Lucky Me!

We had it skinned and hung by 10:30 AM. Not bad!

And of course the day after the season ended my wife spotted this big boy walking right through the field next to the house. Boy was she wishing she had seen him the night before!

Picture taken from our living room window

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Great Goose Jump of 2011

This is my submission for the Sportsman Channel Writing Contest for Hunters hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.

For my favorite outdoor memory I am going to go with one fresh in my head. As it just happened in late October.

 I was in Okanogan County WA hunting ducks, the lakes are starting to freeze and I know this will be my last day hunting in this area. It is a Wednesday and where we are hunting you can only shoot geese on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. My wife had gone home and my friend’s wife had stayed in camp to pack things up before their 7 hour drive home.

Most of the lakes we checked were frozen, the wind was blowing very cold air and we had only shot 2 little teal. It was a long hard day so far. We go to our last lake of the day a small spring lake out in the middle of the sage brush. I am 100% expecting this lake to be frozen and my friend asks "Should we even bother?" I tell him we are here we might as well check it out.

We drive over to the lake and park in the sage brush and like I always do  I check the lake to see where the ducks are by peeking up slowly over the sage brush to check the water a little at a time as too not scare off anything on the water. (Believe me if the ducks see you they will be gone.)  As I look to the far side of the lake I can see ICE!!!!!!  I can remember thinking crap this sucks. I stand up a little more and I see two goose heads, then four. I duck back down below the brush line and turn to my friend back at the truck and give him the goose sign. (Which consists of me flapping my arms all the out as if I were a goose.) I don’t think I have ever seen him get out of the truck so fast.

Puting on a sneak

We started our walk around to the "Jump Point" where we are going to implement our attack on these geese. We load up with 3 1/2 in BB's and BBB's. It is about 1/4 mile walk around to the best jump point on the small lake. I tell my friend ok I don’t know how many or how close but if we don’t end up with four or more geese we should retire from hunting for ever.

We get to the jump point which is a berm with the lake right on the other side of the berm. We give each other the ceremonial fist knock and we jump.

All I can say is there were geese everywhere, they took off in a tornado of birds and we unleashed hell upon them. Geese were dropping and splashing everywhere.

When the Shooting stopped there were 5 geese in the water. Before I was able to celebrate I noticed a small group of geese turned the wrong way and could not make it out over the hill the lake is tucked into. But I was too far for a shot at this point. I grabbed another 3 1/2 in shell from my vest and went into a dead sprint down the bank of the lake. (I felt like I was a car trying to beat a train across the train tracks.)  Just as the geese got parallel I stopped pulled up and BANG! Wouldn't you know one of those geese just peeled right out of that gray sky. I was in complete disbelief...... I mean I knew I had it the whole time.

Now the real work begins, as in get back to the truck, get the dogs and then get the dogs to break the ice. See these geese were sitting in the only part of the lake that was not frozen. No matter where you started from the dogs had at least 20 feet of ice to break.  I started gathering rocks to throw at the geese to get and keep my dogs attention.

At first my dog Remi was not having this whole ice thing. Finally I get her to break a path way through the ice for her to get two of the geese in the water and my friend’s lab was able to get the other three.

We had all six geese laying there on the beach and we felt like we had just won the super bowl or maybe the 2011 Goose Bowl. There were hugs for everyone even the cold wet dogs. Now we get to carry these six Canadian Honkers as well as guns back to the truck.

On the walk back we asked, what ones did you get? I don't know, which ones did you get? Screw it how about we both got three.... Sounds good to me.

We ended the hunt with another ceremonial fist knock and a memory that will last forever.

Duck Hunting 2011

Well so far 2011 has been a great year for duck hunting. I took one week off of work to go to duck camp with my family and friends. My wife got her first duck out of the air this year and is still shooting 100% green heads life time. I shot a triple on geese twice this year and shot 10 geese all together and all jump shooting.  With my buddy we shot about 60 ducks, alot more when you add in my Dad and brother. Here is a pic from hunting at our DUCK CAMP in Okanogan County WA.