Saturday, December 29, 2012

A look back at 2012

I would like to welcome all of our new readers. 2012 has been a great your for me and R-Dub Outdoors. Lots of things happened in my personal life as well as my outdoor life this year.

Here are some high points of the year.

-2012 produced another Deer for the freezer.
- I shot a limit of ducks and geese in the same day
- I got my first real coyote kill.
- R-Dub Outdoors signed up new pro staffer Ron Oules.
- I shot and edited my first duck hunting video.
-We did our first big giveaway from Muck Boots.
- I even grabbed a live and wild cougar by its tail.

Those are just a few of the great moments we have had from 2012.

There are many great things to come in 2013.

-I hope to get more sponsors for the page.
-We will be doing some fishing videos.
- We will be doing some great giveaways.
- Of course doing a lot more hunting and fishing.

The last thing I am expecting in 2013 is the newest member of my hunting party will be arriving around June 13th of 2013 and My wife, Maddy and I are very excited.

Have a great New Year, We hope all is well for everyone.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Importance of Gun Safes


Most people I associate with really enjoy talking about hunting and its related equipment.  Discussion topics range from guns, bows, ammo choice, optics, dogs, boots, and everything in between.  The bothersome part for me very seldom is there talk about how to protect all of the hunting gear.   I never once had a person tell me I should buy a safe.  I was in my early 20’s and had just walked out of a gun store with a brand new rifle and scope for $1200.  On the way out I saw a Browning safe sitting by the door on sale for $800 but I didn’t give it much thought. 

I leaned the rifle up against the back wall of the closet next to my only other long gun when I got home.  Then it hit me right in the ear just like my dad did when I was a kid.  I could hear his voice very clearly “What in the hell were you thinking?!” after I had done something utterly beyond stupid.  I realized, in 10 seconds with one grab some POS (Parasitic Opportunistic Soul) could take my new $1200 gun and my old $20 gun.  I called the shop and put the safe on hold before I could talk myself out of it.   Without a doubt that gun safe was the best sporting goods purchase I have ever made.  The more I age (not grow up) the more I realize the huge benefit of a gun safe.

I am talking about a real gun safe not a tin box with a 10 cent lock that weighs 10lbs.   The heavier the better, and if it takes 4-5 guys to move that is good.  When you have to bribe more with Beer and BBQ to get them to show up is an even better safe.  I would also encourage you to buy a fire resistant safe.  Always remember the largest size and longest fire rating you CAN NOT afford.  I am tight with my money like crazy tight, but if I buy something I buy value and quality.   I don’t care what it is, quality costs more - but that does not mean value costs more.  I’m telling you to spend more then you really want to on a gun safe.  A safe would be the only thing I would suggest anyone to spend more then they really wanted.  Do your research and it is all about the steel…the more the better and the same for the fire rating make sure it is UL or other “Officially” rated.    

The good safes really work and protect everything in them.   Make sure you bolt the safe to the floor if possible and preferably concrete.  Yes the POS’s can and will take the entire safe if they can tip it over.  You can put anything of value in them from papers to photographs.   Luckily you can also deduct them off from your taxes.   Just make sure the receipt says safe or home security safe not “Gun Safe”.  Don’t think just because you spent $2000 you will get an additional 2K back.  It is a DEDUCTION not a refund, but every penny of your income you can get back before it is given away you should. 

I have witnessed house fires and every time the guns and papers were in great shape if they were in a fire safe.  Don’t worry about if you move…contrary to popular belief it is not that hard to move the safe or safes with you.   I have moved twice and it is not that big of a deal.  Besides, there is Beer and BBQ on both sides of the move for your buddies and you. 

A couple things to consider are if the safe is rated to hold 50 guns it won’t.   The only way possible to get any safe I know to hold the rated guns are to have them banging into each other.  I would also suggest a “U” shaped storage rack for at least half of it.   This allows you to use your guns frequently without having to remove a bunch of others or bang them into each other getting them out.  I’m into taking care of my two long guns not damaging them in and out of the safe.  Buy a safe instead of a new firearm, and you will realize you should have bought a safe a long time ago. 

That is, unless you don’t have an AR, AK, FN, etc. type rifle and some semi auto handguns with a lot of High Capacity magazines for all of them.  Of course, I would suggest you buy those immediately without hesitation.   Then of course the required ammunition or reloading supplies for said firearms.    Sorry got off topic, but it was worth it.
-Ron Oules

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Muck Boot Winner

First of all I want to thank The Muck Boot Company for giving R-Dub Outdoor the opportunity to test out and give away a pair of Muck Boots. The winner is going to enjoy the very much.

And the Winner will be........Announced Right after this commercial break.  DUN DUH DUN....

Just kidding.

 Tony Beal from the Down East Duck Hunter Congratulations. You have 30 days to send me an e-mail with your address and boot size.  I hope you enjoy your new boots.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Great Photo of a Bird Dog and Hunter

Found this picture on the Birdy Sportsman's FB page. I asked him if I could share it with my readers and he gave me the go head.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pan Fried Steelhead with Lemon Garlic Sauce

Start with how ever much Steelhead (Or Salmon) you want to cook.(with skin on)  Place fish skin down in pan. Sprinkle fish with pepper, salt and dried dill. Place thin strips of butter on top of fish. Usually 2 thing slices per fillet. Then put slice of butter under 2 edges of each fish. Turn range on medium, cover and cook till fish is pink on the inside.

Take 3 cloves of garlic and place them in a blender. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and blend. Add 1/4t of salt and 1/2t of pepper. Melt one stick of butter and add slowly while blending. (sauce can be frozen and reheated for another meal as well.)

When serving spoon sauce over fish to taste.

Goes good with rice or veggies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

R-Dub Outdoors Going Green, The Video

So here is the first video I have ever filmed, edited and published by myself. Luckily hunting was really good. I missed some shots of the kills but that is what happens when your filming by yourself.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who is Ron Oules

I would like to introduce the newest R-Dub Outdoors Pro Staffer Ron Oules. He will be writing about all sorts of hunting and fishing gear and techniques. He has taught me a lot so far and I know he will pass it on to the readers of R-Dub Outdoors as well.

Who I am:

I grew up in rural Eastern Washington on a small 200 acre farm.  Just like all farms it was work and life skills building from as far back as I can remember.   I believe every person should have the incredible fortune of being raised on a farm.  I grew up learning and doing things we just thought were normal, but when people hear about it today they have a hard time believing it.    The diversity of things I was able to do growing up was pretty amazing.  

Two things have stuck with me for as long as I can remember.  Hard work not luck produces success, and the best things to do are hunting and fishing.  
I was around hunting and fishing with my grandpa and started on my own when I was eight.   I was given a single shot .410 for my 8th birthday and that was the real start of my personal hunting.  The surprising thing to many is I was 95% self taught.  I got my first German Short Hair bird dog at 10, and we spent a lot of days hunting Quail and Chucker together.  Shooting varmints from starlings to feral dogs was pretty much just the norm, and would be a everyday thing if I still lived on the ranch.  I even ran a short trap line for rabbits going to and from school.

I still remember my first deer hunt at the age of 10.  Dad dropped me off at the top of the hill (many would call it a mountain) in the dark and went back to work.   He had told me to walk over the edge, sit down, wait until 10:00, and then hunt down to the house.   Of course I knew I could only shoot bucks, and had a good idea of how to gut a deer.  Remember those life skills from above?  I had seen and helped gut a lot of animals butchered for food.  I shot three times at what I thought was a huge (reality 18-20”) 4x4 Mule Deer, and missed every single shot.  The first of two deer I have ever missed.  When I walked out of the trees on my way home my dad was waiting for me because he heard the shots.  Having to tell my dad I missed hurt more than missing the deer.  My dad was very supportive, but I was not going to ever tell him I missed again. 
I was slow to start Elk hunting but if I can only hunt one big game animal it would be Elk.     They are impressive animals who live in beautiful country.  I also was late in starting my bow hunting, but I wish I had archery hunted from the beginning.   One day I will go archery Elk hunting when my schedule allows it.

I have been reloading since I was 10 also starting with shot shells.  I had to reload because all the ammunition I was shooting was too expensive to buy new.   I cannot even remember the last time I purchased a center fire metallic cartridge loaded.  Reloading has helped my shooting probably the most in being able to practice more combined with the ballistics knowledge.   

I fished growing up for fun.  I was not as dedicated to the fishing as much as the hunting.   I fly fished for trout some, plunked bait, threw spinners, but really did not troll very much.   The only trolling I remember was with my Grandpa on Lake Chelan for Kokanee.   The trolling gear had more weight and drag then the fish did.  My limited fishing was always enjoyable, but I had never really caught any “Big” fish.  I started fishing for Salmon in the mid 90’s and I was immediately in love.   Then in 2000 we had our own local Chinook fishery, and my hunting had a very serious competitor for my off time.   The enjoyment of Salmon fishing just continued to grow, and I started providing guided fishing trips with my company Reellentless Guide Service.   I have to admit the Salmon fishing has taken over quite a bit of my hunting time now.  My fishing details of gear and technique have less time in then the hunting, but it is quickly gaining and will surpass it very soon I believe.

I have also been lucky enough to spend time with my kids hunting and fishing.   It is so much fun just to spend any amount of time I can with them in the outdoors.  All of them are very good athletes playing all year long.  There has always been a conflict for time, so we take advantage of what time we have.  The boys are several states away during hunting season now.  I’m planning a out of state hunt next fall to Nebraska.  My daughter (Teenager) told me last year she would go deer hunting only one day.  We were dragging out her smallest buck to date. I told her how much I loved being able to watch the sun come up with her.   She asked what about the deer?  I told her I could care less if she got a deer or not.  She had a odd look on her face.  Not now but I know she will understand later on.   I am a Hunters Ed Instructor also, and that has been a very rewarding thing for me.  Just today I saw two nice first bucks from students from my spring 2012 class.

I hope I can share my experiences from equipment to technique to help others, and at the same time they get enjoyment out of my information.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

R-Dub Outdoors Went Green

So the past couple trips down to the duck hunting spot The Runway have only produced a few wigeon or teal each time. It seemed as though three was the lucky number. Although I have not been skunked yet this year, which is good.

  For those of your who don't know Wednesday is my hunting day.  It is a day I have off of work and my daughter goes to daycare which leaves me to do what I want and 99% of the time that is hunting. Wednesday is also good because no one else is out hunting the spots I like to hunt. So I can get up a 8 AM and start the fire for the family feed all the animals and take my time to get to my hunting spot which is only 2 miles from my house.

So I load Remi up in the Jeep and we get going after all the chores are done.  We get into the area of the first jump hole we are going to shoot and I can see a swan looking at me over the top of all the grass and brush.  It is 50/50 when it comes to a swan whether its going to scare early scaring all the ducks as it takes off or if it will just sit there and watch even when all the shooting happens.  I figure the ducks will be close by the swan so I choose to jump that position instead of my normal. As I am sneaking down the trail I can see clear as day a big green head in the water. I freeze and then slide to my right so I can't see it any more behind the brush. I continue to sneak and I like to get to the point of where I think the ducks are about to see me and then run to get as close as possible. I stop and drop the first Green head out of the sky. Now there was only to green heads next to the swan. Where I normally jump about 100 ducks get up. I took a shot at the second green head by the swan and did not bring it down. I was able to turn towards my normal jump hole and pick out a mallard drake that was close enough and I dropped it. Remi did her thing and easily brought back the two Green heads.

I then got to a point where I could see way down the waterway. I thought I could see some movement in the water at about 400 yards down the way. I walked way around and snuck  in to where I thought the birds were. I belly crawled oer a little grassy hill and jumped up......No ducks. Then about 30 yards to my left a group of green heads got up. I was able to get off one shot and dropped one of the drakes.

Now  I had the magical number of ducks 3. I was determined to break out and get at least 4 for the day.  Now there are 4 different blinds on this 3/4 of a mile water channel. Blind one is closest to the river. Blind 2 is about 70 up channel from #1. Blind 3 is about 200 yards further and blind 4 is across the water from blind 3.

The first blind I sat in was #4, while in #4 I could see ducks circling #1 and #2. So I moved down to #1. While in #1 i thought I should move to #2 and as i thought about it a bunch of mallards came and flew right over #2. So I moved to #2. After I got bored there I decided to move back up to #3. Right after I did the ducks swooped into #2. I got to #3 and decided to go home. As I turned my back a group of ducks flew over but didn't come in, so I decided to stay around. A few minutes later a lone green head flew down the channel. As I reached for my gun he flared up and I thought he was gone fr good. He then dropped down into the water about 100 yards up the water way. Remi and I left the blind to put a sneak on this drake. I got above the duck and decided where I was going to attack from. When I got about 30 yards from where I was going to try and take a shot I put Remi in a sit and stay. I belly crawled up to the tree line so I could try and gt a better location on this duck. There he was about 15 yards away but behind some trees. As I got into a better position guess who freaking laid down next to me, my good buddy Remi. I was not very happy that Remi took it upon herself to join me. I looked at the duck and he put his head way up in the air. I was in no position to shoot this duck on the fly. I put my bead right on his head and pulled the trigger. The drake never stood a chance. Remi brought it back up the bank and I rewarded her with some play time.

Four green heads for the day I am happy. That's how we go Green. HAHAHA

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why Shoot Coyotes

I read a comment just the other day and it made me just have to answer.   The person was talking about why shoot coyotes because the person shooting them is not going to eat them.   This is just one of many different views on why coyotes should not be shot.   I just happen to take the opposite view on whether coyotes should be shot or not. 

 There are lots of reasons to shoot coyotes.
 1. There are a very good predator and not only kill young deer but adult deer regularly.  Contrary to popular belief they kill perfectly healthy animals.
2. They kill farm and domestic animals daily.  Besides Owls, Coyotes are the top predator for domestic cats and small dogs. 
3. They carry Rabies, Mange, Distemper, Heartworm, and others.   Yes, these diseases are transmitted to other domestic, wild animals easily, and even humans at times. 
4. It stimulates the economy one dead coyote at a time.  Their pelts can be sold for decent money for both the hunter and fur dealer.  Fuel, vehicles, firearms, clothing, footwear, calls, etc. are purchased and used. 
5. By killing coyotes it actually increases their birth rate or "Natality", so in a way killing coyotes will increase their population potentially.  How can it be bad when shooting them increases the numbers of offspring and increases the opportunity to kill more.   It is a situation where actually everyone and everything wins.  Well not everything wins…the dead coyotes would have lost I guess.


-Ron Oules

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quail at the house

The last time I saw quail at my house was three years ago when I found a few of them down by the creek.

Tonight I was going outside to grab some wood from the wood shed. as soon as I opened my front door the yard exploded with the sound of quail wings.  They all got up and flew across the street.  I ran around the house tyring to figure out which gun to grab, to be honest I was caught a little off guard. I finally ended up with my 20 gauge 1187 and ran out the door. I didn' even get Remi to help find the quail. I went across the road and saw my first one, it was aways off but I still shot and missed. The next one I dropped. I walked up the draw and a few more flushed that I did not get shots at. Then two in a row got up and I dumped them both. I then went back to the house and got Remi to help my find my downed birds.

As soon as Remi got outside she knew it was time to go to work.  She went into the brush and found the first one I shot and returned it. She then went back into the brush and I lost her. I had no idea where she was or what she was doing. I then realized that she was on point somewhere. I gave her the release command "Get it" I heard her hit the brush and wings start to flush. By the time I picked up the bird it was too far to shoot.  Remi then went off and found the second bird I shot.  I then had her work the area where my third bird went down. She went on a hard lock point.  I could see my downed bird about a foot in front of her in a bush.  She then saw it and returned it.

Remi flushed one more bird but by that time it was too dark to shoot anymore. We made out way back to the house with our bounty, both hoping the quail stick around the house.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

First Real Coyote Kill

So yesterday morning there was a coyote about 300 yards out in a field from my house. I grabbed the 7MM and got set on the back deck. I laid down prone with a bag of dirt as a rest. I located the coyote in the scope and squeezed the trigger.  The coyote started jumping and yelping and I was super excited that I hit it. As it continued to jump around I thought it would be a good idea to put another shot down range to put it out of its misery. I missed the next 6 shots at the coyote. It finally chewed its leg off and ran into the brush.  I was not happy with myself that A. I lost a wounded animal and B. I waisted that ammo with all those misses.

The next day still upset about the day before I went out for a morning duck hunt. When I returned home I looked out into the field and there was nothing there. I went inside put some wood in the fireplace and put Remi my dog away. As I turned around to my surprise there were three coyotes out in the field at about 300-350 yards. Again I grabbed the 7MM and proned out on the back deck.  This time without a rest I held the cross hairs about 4 inches above the coyote. When I touched off the shot the coyote again started jumping around. The other two promptly ran out of the field. As I looked back at the coyote I shot it was laying motionless in the field. I grabbed the shot gun and sprinted out to the coyote to finish it if i needed to. When I got out there I found the coyote with a perfect shot behind the front shoulder. I was hoping that the coyote I shot only had 3 legs but no such luck. But I was happy that this coyote didn't have to suffer. This was my first real coyote kill and the longest kill shot I have ever made on any game.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Muck boot review Part 2 The Giveaway

I was contacted by The Muck Boot Company asking me to review their Woody Sport Boot. I gladly excepted and a week later I received my boots. The day I got them I was going on a weekend duck hunt so it was perfect.

Muck Boots only make whole sizes; I wear 9.5's so I ordered a size 10. The boot is a bit big for me but fits ok when wearing big wool socks.

I have always hated rubber boots, they have never appealed to me in any way. But boots that are made out of flex-foam are great. They are comfortable and they really keep my feet warm weather sitting in a duck blind or marching through icy creeks after grouse.

I like the stretch fit tops it makes it easy to slip in and out of the boots. For me that is important going in and out of the house to get firewood or to feed the animals. They don't even feel like you’re wearing boots more of water proof slippers.

The only thing I would not recommend for these boots is steep hill hiking. They just don't provide and stiff support your ankles need for steep mountain walking.

I use these boots as an everyday around the farm and hunting boots. I know I will be rough and tough on these boots. So far so good, we will see where we are after a year of abuse.

I would recommend these boots to anyone who has a farm/ranch, hunts,fishes or does anything outside where it might rain or snow.

Here are some facts I got off of the Muck Boot website.

Muck Boot woody Sport $150.00
  • Stretch-fit topline binding snugs calf to keep warmth in and cold out
  • 5mm CR flex-foam bootie with four-way stretch nylon, 100% waterproof, lightweight and flexible
  • Additional achilles overlay for added protection
  • Molded rubber Speed-Tracker outsole with molded EVA midsole
  • Reinforced toe
  • Added toe protection with a wrap-up bumper
  • New Mossy Oak Break-Up® Camo
  • Comfort range of -20ºF to 70ºF

I like these boots so much I am going to give a pair of them away. Here is how the giveaway will work.

You can enter the contest by:

-Liking R-Dub Outdoors on Facebook

-Following R-Dub Outdoors on Twitter

-Following the R-Dub Outdoors blog

Or do all three for three entries, remember you have to comment below and let me know each time you did one of these things. When the contest closes on December 24th  I will use the random number generator to pick a winner and announce the winner on Christmas. One lucky winner will get one more Christmas present from R-Dub Outdoors.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Muck boots review Part 1

Muck Boots “Woody Sport”


It was all I could do to keep my composure and not run away screaming in pure fright. 

 Rory did not know it, but he had just dug up the boot of my childhood nightmares.   I was once again stuck in an endless Alfalfa field changing hand lines.  I could not move how ever hard I tried.  I was held in my nightmare by the sloppy fitting green irrigation boots.  If you grew up on a farm you know exactly the boots and nightmare I am talking about. 

I was complaining about having wet feet for the last time after setting up Elk camp. Rory of R-Dub Outdoors told me he had the perfect boot for me to try.  Rory shows me the Muck Boots “Woody Sport”, and says “Try these and I bet you will like them”. 

The only stipulation was I needed to write him up an honest review of the boots.  If you know me I am commonly referred to as Brutally Honest, and few people have ever asked me to clarify my opinion or beliefs.  I finally had my revenge as I smiled and grabbed the evil boots.   I was going to expose these devil boots for what my memory told me they were.

I get home and have to run out to the shop to dry the tent and get ready for my two week Montana Elk trip.  I slip into the first boot with my jeans inside the boot top, and it actually snaps into place like an actual lace up boot.   These boots fit nicely and secure.  I head out to the shop, hang tents, fold tarps, and get out all the other hunting/camp gear taken care of.  I keep thinking “Wow, these boots are comfortable and actually feel good”.   I know the faults will show themselves when I get over to Montana and spend a couple weeks really using the boots. 

On the way over to Montana I was wearing the boots, and in the heated truck cab I had to take them off.  My feet were getting too hot after about three hours.   We finally get to our camp location and it is five degrees outside.  I was wearing normal cotton athletic socks.  Our tents are 48’x17’ with carpeting, stoves, cots, saddle racks, and more stuff then we need.  With getting the horse lines, outhouse, and wood cut it usually takes two of us a solid eight hours of outside type work.  We had to build a fire early to warm my buddies feet in his work boots.  My feet were perfectly warm and I am loving the boots.  After the horses arrived I actually stood in the stream with water half way up the boot on purpose while they drank.  The end result of the day was one new pair of Muck Boots sold!  Yep, to my hunting partner who helped set up camp “I am getting a pair of those boots”. 

I took a quick hike in the boots, and quickly realized I was not going to be hunting steep terrain in these boots.   There is not enough support in the ankles and foot area for hiking steep hills and rugged terrain.  On flat ground and gentle hills they were great but as soon as toes, sides, or heels only were needed to maintain traction the boots were done.  I used the boots every day after hunting around camp taking care of horses, chopping wood, and general use.   They flat rock and are the perfect boot for this type of activity.  If I was on flatter terrain I would not hesitate to use these boots for hours of walking. 

After a week of not seeing any legal bulls, we pack up and moved 150 miles away to another location.   The temperature was now 40 degrees, and we start at 7am and are not done until 11pm with four people working.  I don’t take the boots off all day long.   My feet are super hot all day long, but there is no time to stop or change out my boots.  The end result was some wet feet from sweat.  Obviously an all rubber boot that fits snugly is not going to breathe much.  My socks were not super wet but I probably could have squeezed a few drops of sweat out. 

Three days after getting home from Elk hunting I’m on the water after Steelhead with clients.  I do not get the luxury of sitting around the heater and warming up, so my feet have to stay warm in comfortable boots.   The morning starts out at 20 degrees and ends at 38 degrees.  I only wear my athletic cotton socks and my feet are in heaven all day.  With some medium weight wool socks I think these boots would be good for sub-zero temps with just minimal walking or movement.

Like all fears if we just face them we normally find we get some weird enjoyment out of it afterwards.  In summary this boots are flat amazing for the fit and overall versatility in cooler weather.  For me they have a couple limitations, but the positives easily surpass the negatives three to one.  This is one product you will not be upset about buying, and you will be using them for a lot of different activities. 

- Ron Oules


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkeys in the yard

The other day while I was at work my wife calls and tells me that there were 18 turkeys in our yard. I just wish they stayed around for hunting season.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Secrets Of The Sneak

Many duck hunters lay in wait with a bag of decoys and specially made duck calls to lure in the ducks to their demise. That is all fine and dandy but it's not for me. I like to put on a sneak to kill my birds and this is how I do it.

The first and most important thing about sneaking up on ducks is knowledge of the jump hole. A jump hole being a small pond or portion of larger lake you know ducks could be.  You should know exactly where the ducks normally sit. You should know the shape and features of the jump hole.  The weather conditions will matter as well.  You also need to know your route and what will be involved in your path to the birds. The only way to gather all this information is experience.  Trying many different routines on each jump hole to figure out what works the best.

It’s good to know where the ducks are on the pond before you attempt a sneak. This will allow you to plan where you need to sneak and what shot to use. Especially if the pond is larger than you gun can cover.  Every jump pond I have I try to have an observation point (OP). Where I can look at the lake and see where the ducks are before I go for it.  Some OP’s are a half mile away and some OP’s are 10 feet away. With the Op’s that are further away it is easier to look at the whole lake and plan your attack.  When I have an OP that is very close I walk very slowly staying behind cover. IE a large rock or sage brush.  I only allow enough of myself to be shown so I can look at the water for ducks. If you are in a heavily hunted area, the ducks will leave at first sight of you.   As I watch the water I slowly move until I either see some ducks or I can see that there are no ducks on the water. If I do see ducks I immediately crouch behind my cover and retreat to plan my assault.  If you are not able to have an OP play the odds and plan your attack to where the ducks would normally sit.

Weather conditions can also play a big role in where you jump the ducks. It is my experience that if it is windy the ducks will sit on the bank that the wind is coming from. So if the wind is blowing from east to west the ducks will be on the east bank trying to be protected from the wind.  If the weather is windy and raining it will help muffle your sound as you are trying to get within shooting range.  I tend to think when it is snowing heavily it will help conceal you from their sight. Something I have noticed if it is windy out the birds seem get up off the water faster, maybe because they can get air under their wings faster which might give them faster lift. With weather is also time of year. If you go somewhere in early fall the leaves might still be on trees to give you cover. But in late fall or winter the leaves are gone only leaving you with concealment.

It is good to know what is around your lake. Big rocks and tall grass will provide you good cover to get close to the lake.  Know if there are any draws or hillsides you can utilize for cover. Know where groups of trees are and know where cover is the closest to the banks of the jump hole. You have to realize that if it is a bigger lake you are sneaking on, that to get to one good spot you might have to sacrifice another spot and let some ducks go.  Also it is a good idea to know how tall the grass or cattails are around the lake.

Now that you know all these things about your jump hole figure out your route to the ducks. This starts with your vehicle.  Know where you can and can’t park your vehicle. Some jump holes you have to park way away because there isn’t much cover and you would scare the ducks if you drove any closer.  Some holes you can drive right next to and walk 10 feet to the water. Remember a very important detail in getting out of your vehicle, DO NOT SLAM YOUR DOOR SHUT!~! This will scare birds faster than you realize.

 Once you figure out where you’re going to park figure out how you’re going to get to the water. In the world of jump shooting there is cover and there is concealment. Cover is a large solid object that you cannot be seen through.  Concealment is trees and tall but thin grasses that you can be seen through but still gives you better protection than nothing. Always pick cover over concealment if you have a choice.  I always try to get as far as I can using the lay off the land first. Staying behind hills or down in draws to hind me. Once I can no longer use the land I try to use big rocks or very thick vegetation.  Then move to whatever else I can find to hide my movement.

Of course using camouflage that matches your environment is a must too.  I find it important to hide your face. Whether it be face paint or a mask I use a balaclava which only lets my eye stick out to see what I am doing.  I have seen people forget their sun glasses are on their head, this is a bad idea. If the ducks see any glare they will leave. You will also need pants that are very durable. Lots of crawling will wear through average pants very fast.

Once you get to the water’s edge hopefully there is some tall grass or cattails so you can make your way around the pond.  I also prefer to load my gun before the sneak. Sometimes I get within a few feet of the ducks and I don’t want them to spook because my action is closing.

Now when your next to the ducks just stand up and blast away.

Just realize that this is sometimes harder than it sounds. I have lakes that I have to belly crawl over rocks, stickers and mud and sometimes through cow pies.  There are also holes you can just drive up to walk over a little hill and go bang with success.  

Also if you have more hunters than is safe to all jump, figure out where the ducks will leave and place those hunters there. That way they will get passing shots after you jump the whole which will lead to fast limits for everyone.  Remember most jump holes will have multiple ways of doing things depending onthe conditions and a few holes no matter what do it the same way every time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Last Trip To Duck Camp

What the lakes normally look like this time of year.
So this year the weather has been very warm for the season. Okanogan county had two weeks of rain and above freezing temps. Normally the lakes I hunt at duck camp are frozen thick with ice. But the day before Thanksgiving I figured I would drive over there for the day and see what I could get into. The worst case scenario was the lakes would be frozen and I would go do some upland hunting.

I get up into camp and lucky me the lakes are free of ice. I get up above Long Lake and see a group of widgeon swim into a corner of the lake where I can make a sneak on them. I follow the same little draw I always do to the lake. It is harder to get down to the lake in the draw later in the year because all the leaves have fallen off of the trees making you more visible to the ducks. I get down to the lake edge behind some cattails and know I have to make my way around the bottom of the lake behind the cattails to get to where I think the ducks are. I notice that the cattails are not giving me as much cover as they usually do because the water has risen a few inches from all the rain. I get about as close to where I think the ducks are as I think possible. I stand up and nothing happened, I find a rock and throw it into the water and nothing. I’m starting to get upset thinking the ducks left before I got down there. Then one lone widgeon drake gets up and I dump it. After I shot the water beneath me exploded with ducks. I picked out two more ducks which turned out to be another widgeon and a teal and dumped both of them. The dogs were still at the top of the hill in the jeep. As I started walking back to get the dogs another teal jumped out of the cattails and I dropped it. And again another teal got up and I dropped it. Now I am at 5 ducks out of my limit of 7 and I just started hunting. I told me self I was going to stop shooting at this lake so I could continue to hunt the rest of the day. As I walk back to the jeep ducks keep flying right over me but I resist and don’t shoot.
I get to the jeep and drive down to the lake. I let the dogs out and leave my Winchester SX3 in the jeep. I take Lily over to where she can get a clear shot at a teal out in the water. But Lily being Lily, she would not go that far out to it. Remi came over and went out right away without hesitation and retrieved it. Then we went over the where the other 4 ducks were. I was standing on some wet slippery logs trying to guide the dogs to where the ducks were at the edge of the cattails. Lily caught a scent of one of the ducks and was trying to stand as far out on the logs as she could without getting in the water sniffing the air. After she fell into the water a few times she swam through the cattails and got the duck and swam back. I was very proud of her. Remi then settled down and went to work. She got the two widgeon without any issues. I knew I had one more down but couldn't see it anywhere. I figured it must have buried itself in the tall weeds. I threw a rock into the cattails where I figured the duck must be and Remi jumped in. I know when Remi gets quiet she is close. A second later she came out with the 5th duck of the lake. Of course while all of this is happening ducks are flying over and landing in front of us. But sense we did so well on this lake I set a greenhead only rule for the rest of the day.

We got back into the jeep and went to the next hole. Again it was full of teal and widgeon which flew right over us but we let them go since no greenheads were in the groups. I checked Rock Lake and didn’t see anything worth putting a sneak on. I check some other private lakes with nothing I was to pursue on them. Then I checked the pan lake at the Y.

I normally drive by and see what is in it and then sneak back to it if there is ducks, but it was full of geese and swans. I knew there was no way to crawl into that lake with all those eye balls watching for me. So I loaded up with 3 1/2 BB's and just ran over the edge of the road till they started to fly and cut loose on them. One goose folded out of the sky and they rest left without saying goodbye. The goose that was down seemed dazed but definitely not dead. I again ran back to the jeep and got the dogs. we got back down to the water’s edge and I sat Remi down pointed at the bird and gave her command of "Dead Bird" which sends her into work mode, not that she was ever out of that mode. Remi swam out to the goose and of course it tries to dive on her. After a few misses Remi finally locks her jaws onto the tail of the goose. As Remi is swimming holding onto the butt of this goose it is still trying to dive pulling Remi down in the water every now and then. I tried to run back and get the camera before Remi got to shore but Remi beat me back. Once Remi got it to shore she was having a hard time picking it up due to its size and weight.

I drove up the road and saw some mallards in a lake that I normally don't hunt due to its proximity to a ranch about 1/4 mile away. I got to the ranch house and speak with the property owner who I know. I explained to her that in October I kicked some deer hunters off her land that did not have permission to be there. I also told her that I found her fences open a few times but I closed them up for her so her cows would not get out. The I asked her if I could hunt the lake, which she gave me the OK like she always does when I want to hunt that lake once or so a year. So I drive around the lake and get into position for my sneak. The mallard were in a group of spoonies. The wind was also howling over the lake. I get close enough to where I think I can get my shot off and stand up. The ducks get up into the wind and I pick out my greenhead. I shoot threes times and all the ducks left. When they got about 70 yards out a duck dropped out of the sky into the middle of the lake. I went and got Lily out of the jeep and got her downwind of the duck. After throwing a few rocks and a few attempts of going out into the water Lily swam out and got the greenhead.

I then went to some lakes I thought would hold some geese. I was right and out in the middle of cut wheat fields there is a lake shaped like an exclamation point. In the period of the lake sat a group of geese. There is no cover around the lake except for some tall grass at the edge of the lake. I walked round to get behind the birds and walked as close as I could till I could start to see water. I didn't think there was any way I could get close enough to the birds to get a shot, but I was going to try anyway. I used the lay of the land to my advantage and crawled around rocks and small hills for what seemed like forever. I would take breaks every now and then. I was able to get behind the grass, but then the geese started to move around and get nervous. I was able to get to the last clump of grass between me and the geese. At this point I got very confident. I stood up and realized that the geese were still about 35 yards out and they weren’t getting any closer. So I pulled the trigger and watch handfuls of feathers come off of the bird I was shooting at, but nothing came down. It was a long disappointing walk back to the jeep.

After only seeing widgeon and teal the rest of the day and running out of I took off my greenhead rule and went back to long lake where walked up the other end of the lake and shot a widgeon to finish off my day.

It was a great day at duck camp and I am sure these lakes will be solid in the next week or so. So till next year I will be dreaming of duck camp.

Maps from Google Maps.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dog 1 and Dog 2

So earlier in the month I spoke about the difference I have seen in hunting dog #1 and Dog #2. The main premise is that hunting dog #2 being younger with hunting dog #1 always around can afford to be lazy. So I am going to jump into this idea and see what other hunters think about it.  
I got Remi my German Wire Haired Pointing Griffon (Griff) in December of 2006 after my first hunting dog Sage a German wire haired Pointer was killed by a car.  I trained Remi just like I trained Sage though the school of hard knocks.  I would definitely say I am strict with my dogs.  
Now for those of you who don’t know all that much about pointers, they are not like labs when it comes to water.  They need some coaxing/training/ butt kicking to get in when young.  Sage hated the water as a young puppy. She was kind of a princess and didn’t like to get her feet on cold water. I found that just throwing her into the cold water worked great. Since she was already wet she swam for anything. Through a summer of swimming together she got the hang of it and I didn’t have to throw her in anymore.  Remi was the exact same way at first. Although she started to like the water way faster and didn’t take to many times of getting thrown in to make her realize she is going in no matter what. Now Remi won’t get out of the water. She will swim miles after a wounded duck of goose and will spend hour swimming around a bunch of cattails trying to find a duck. So Remi is dog #1 in the premise.

Now enter dog #2 Lily another Griff, who became a family member around July of 2009. I figured since I now had a wife who was getting into hunting I should get another dog so we each can have a dog to hunt behind.  PS my wife was also pregnant with Maddy when we got Lily.  Now I am a huge supporter of getting puppies hunting as early as possible once away from the mother.  So Lily was hunting that September for grouse. Lily has a great nose for birds.

Now at Lily’s 2nd year hunting I started to notice something. When grouse hunting I would give Remi and Lily hand signs to run up or down a hill in search of grouse. Remi would run way up on the hillside but Lily would just get a few yards off of the road. When it came to duck hunting Remi would swim out after any duck in the water and Lily would just wait in about knee deep water for Remi to bring the bird in close enough for her to steal it.  So for a couple holes I would leave Remi in the truck and send lily out for ducks in the water. At the beginning of the season Lily would only wade up to her knees to get a duck and by the end of the season she would swim maybe 20 yards for a duck.  But she would always give you that look like “can’t we just get Remi to go get it” first.  But if there were any weeds or grasses in the water forget it she wasn’t going. This was very frustrating for me.

So 2011 came around year three and same thing I felt like I had to train Lily all over again going to get ducks, even though I spent a summer swimming with her in lakes around the house. Lily will swim as far as she needs to get that bumper in the water if it is 80 degrees out.   2012 is turning out to be the same thing. This year there was a teal off the bank at about 10 yards in deep water.  I had Remi in the truck and Lily would go out to her knees and come back. So I tried the good ol’ stand by and threw her in. Well that didn’t work she basically flipped me the bid and left the area. Remi came out and got it without any direction. 
Lily as a puppy

 Now my brother also had 2 Griffs. The same thing with them Dog #1 is a swimming Champ, and Dog #2 who is at 6 years will not swim for birds. My brother’s dog #2 is also Remi’s litter sister.  I know that my brother has put in just as much time with dog 2 as dog 1.

So is it that the #2 dogs are allowed to be lazy because dog #1 is always there for the save.  I thought maybe with Maddy being born I didn’t get enough time training Lily. But that doesn’t make sense because Lily has been with Remi and should have learned to be a water dog. Or is it that we just happen to get two dogs that don’t like water?
All I know is I will keep trying to get Lily to become a swimmer because I know one day Remi will not be around to clean up after her.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tents Vs. Tarps

So for the past four years there has been a brewing battle going on between me and my wife.

TENT..... NO TARP.....

There was very little common ground when it was just us, before the family. Duck hunting we would tarp it, and hiking we would tent it. Since Maddy there is no compromise.

I grew up sleeping on the ground under tarps it what I love to do. Some of my best memories were getting a canvas tarp from my Dad for my 16th birthday. Laying it down on the ground laying my sleeping pad and sleeping bag on it and the folding it over like a sleeping taco, if you will.  And if it snowed on you the experience was even better. I have so many great stories with this one tarp alone.

Here is a perfect example of why I like the tarp so much.  It was spring break senior year of college. One of my best friends Jason and I set off for a fishing trip to Banks Lake in Central Washington. The first night we chose the south end of the lake.   Jason being a tent person set his tent up, I brought my tarp but decided since he was going to set the tent up anyway I will just sleep in there.  That night a hurricane blew in, at about four o'clock in the morning. The tent was blowing it's self inside out and as Jason was up in his underwear trying to fix the tent, I could feel the rain hitting me in the face. So like any good friend I zipped up my mummy bag all the way and tried to hibernate through the weather. An hour later when the tent literally started to break apart we both got up and broke camp. On a good note we had the best breakfast ever at some small cafe on the high way. Later that day we found another spot to camp and I leveled a spot out in the dirt laid the tarp down put our sleeping stuff inside and folded it over. Since I put the fold of the tarp pointing into the wind, the wind blew right over us, and since I folded the bottom corners in under the upper corners the rain didn't bother us either. So this is a classic story of when the tarps came in handy.

Post child, as you can see little Maddy peaking from the tent at 9 months
For those of you who are thinking that it is colder under the tarp than in a tent, the tarp that is folded  over you acts like another blanked there for keeping you warmer.

Now back to me and my wife, like I said before before the family we would sleep under the tarp in duck camp. We would be in a double sized cot with the tarp in the air over us or just layed on top of us. Since we were off the ground in a cott we didnt need it under us.

The tent my wife has is a two person hiking tent. 5 months after our daughter Maddy arrived we went on a camping-moon, it's a camping honeymoon. Trying to fit me at 6'1 and my wife and a baby in this tent was a disaster unless your the person who can sleep in one position all night long, which is a super power I have not mastered yet.

Now there are of course a few down sides to sleeping on the ground with a tarp. Being little fury friends that go squeak in the night. I have had a few mice crawl on me the worst one running across my neck. This mouse crawling thing has only happened to me twice in all the years I have been sleeping under a tarp on the ground. But I had one visitor one night on the ground that was not so cuddly.

I was camping on the Yakima fly fishing. Again my friend Jason was there along with some other friends. Jason set his tent like always and the other two campers joined him in the tent. But of course me as a "Tarper". (Yes I just made up that word and I take full credit for it.) I set up my sleeping area outside under this large ponderosa pine tree. At about 5 am just as it was getting light outside a scratching sounds woke me up. I looked all around and didn't see anything. As I tried to go back to sleep I heard it again. As I opened my eyes coming right down out of that tree right for my face was a huge porcupine 15 feet and closing. Needless to say I spent the remaining sleeping time in the front seat of my jeep.

Now with a two almost three year old, we have an agreement when at duck camp and other camping locations Mom and Maddy sleep in the tent and I sleep under the tarp.  If possible we usually setup right next to each other.

Notice the two sleeping bags and tarp laid over (Pre Child)

With the possibility of our family expanding in the future my wife wants a bigger tent to fit all of us. I just don't know if I can ever be a tent guy. I have tarper blood, my solution is when the next kids born send the older one outside with me so the new generation of tarper will be introduced to the greatness of tarping, where you can see the stars and not be all couped up in a tent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lil's lone hunt

So when I go out hunting I either just take my dog Remi pr both hunting dogs which includes Lily. Bother are German Wired Hair Point Griffons, Remi is 6 years old Lily is 3 years old.  I have this theory that when you have a really good dog at swimming for ducks and you get another dog. The second dog wont be as good at it because the good dog is always there to get the ducks. The theory is deeper than that but that is the gist of it, but I will get deeper into it on another post.

So I decided to just take Lily duck hunting with me for the first time ever. I was nervous that she would not swim out and get any ducks I shoot in the water. We get down to the hunting area the Run Way and sneak into our first spot. It is a spot where the ducks will be in one of two spots and you just have to guess which one. Well today I was wrong and I guessed the spot where the ducks weren't and a group of mallards got up off of the other spot.  A look down the canal I saw three swans. I have never seen swans in this area before.  After they saw me they took off like 747's with their wing tips slapping the water as the fought to gain altitude.

So I went to the next spot down the canal. It doesn't provide much cover for sneaking but usually enough.  Except when there are more swans and their three foot necks see you coming. Again when the swans busted me a small group of mallards left eh hole.

So far Lily has been doing a decent job staying in heal and listen to me. So we walk up to the upper holes and check them for ducks. I am beginning to think this day was going to be a bust. Then at about 200 yards I see a duck stretch it wings. Lil and I go way around and come from a direction so the tall grass would give us better cover.  I come up over the little hill blocking the ducks view of me and a Widgeon gets up and I drop it, then a teal and I drop it when another widgeon comes around my gun jammed and I did not get a shot off on it.

Lily jumps into the water and the Teal is swimming / running wounded in front of her at about 10 yards. I know she sees it and I yell "Get That Bird" and Lily just watches it run into the tall grass. I make sure the Widgeon is dead and make my way over to where Lily is. After searching for the Teal for about 10 minutes we give up. I was not happy I do not like losing wounded animals. I don't like losing anything I have shot. Anyway we go over to the widgeon and Lil walks out into the watch and retrieves it with no problem.

So we left the run way with one little ducks, hardly worth the trip. But it was nice to get out and get Lily some work. On the drive home which takes about 5 minutes I decided to pick up Remi and see if we could go get some grouse above the house. With the 4 inches of new snow we had it was a great walk through the snowy woods. But we did not find any grouse, although we did see a huge mule deer buck. He just looked at me and I got within about 10 yards of him trying to get a picture of him. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spontanous hunting trip.

So on Tuesdays I stay at home with Maddy. This Tuesday we were outside feeding the animals and I asked her if she wanted to go hunting. Her response was a simple yes. Her only request was that we bring her water, which was fine with me. So I packed her day bag with some crackers and duck jerky to snack on.

We set off to a spot I know grouse like to winter. I didn't want to be out long so I had a short trip in mind.

As soon as we get to where I think the grouse are one flushes into a tree. As i get out of the jeep another one flushes into a tree. As I load my gun a third flushes. Now I am trying to keep track were each one is. I find the first one that flushed and as I walked towards it it decides to leave and I dump it. I then went for the third one that flushed. As I see it in the tree I aim at it ready for it to flush as I get closer. While aiming at the third on About 10 feet away from me in my peripheral vision I see a the second one looking at me. I dump the third one and turn the the second still looking at me. I can only see his head and I know if it flushes out the back side of the tree I will not get another shot at it so I shoot it in the head  right out of the tree.

Remi jumped out of the jeep and went to work. She found the three big blue grouse right away. As I climbed back into the jeep a fourth grouse flushed about 40 yards up the hillside into the a tree. I load back up and walk up the hill. Just as I see it it flushes and I can not get a shot through the thick fir trees. Just then a fifth on flushes back down by the road. I try to see where it lands and I think I have a good line on it. As I am walking to where I think the grouse is two more flush out of a tree and I get one of them for my fourth and final grouse of my limit.

I walk back to the jeep which is about 30 yards with my four grouse. The smile on Maddy's face when I come back with birds is priceless. Maddy always asked for a tail feather or two to play with on the drive home.

This is my first limit of grouse in November.

We did stop by a lake up in the grouse woods to see if we could get some ducks but they did want to fly over me.

The next day I was up cutting wood. Driving home with my second trailer full of wood a ruffed grouse almost flew into the jeep. I watched it land in a tree I got out of the jeep and shot it and Lily went out a retrieved the bird.  When I got home my wife is has grouse envy with all the birds I have seen the past two days.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hunting Octopus

There was a story on northwest cable news website about two guys hunting octopus. They were 100% legal in their actions and two anti's walked up to them and harrassed them like they were breaking the law asking them what they were doing. Aparently the two anti's have started trying to change the laws. If it starts here where does it end. I am asking all pro hunters and pro outdoors men and women to leave comments in support of the 2 outdoorsman just trying to follow the rules. This shouldn't even be a story at all but for ANTI hunting Seattle it is a big deal.

There is a first time for everything

So this year there have already been some firsts , like the $100 duck. But today will another first for me and my wife.

It all started the night before when my wife got home a little early so I decided to head down to the local duck hunting spot The Run Way and see what I could get.  I got to the first and best area to jump some ducks and I shot a triple in mallards. This area is a side channel of the Methow River and the area I hunt is the island it creates. After Remi retrieved all of my ducks we started to walk the loop of jump holes. I got to one of the bigger holes and to my surprise was a group of geese sitting on the bank. Now where I live in Washington State is Goose Management area 5. That means I can only shoot geese on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during water fowl season. Since it was a Tuesday I was not able to shoot the geese. I went home with my three mallards and a plan.

The next morning Wednesday I got up early and got down to the hunting area before anyone else could. I sneaked into the area and sat down in some timber before day light in a light rain.  I was about 75 yards from where the geese were the night before. Luckily I had my phone on silent because my brother started texting me. I told him I was sneaking in on some geese and he told me he was making banana bread, which we both thought was funny.  At shooting hours I crawled in on the geese that happen to still be in the exact same spot. I didn't get as close as I wanted to but I was able to drop two out of the air with my first shot and missed with my second two shots.  As Remi was retrieving them from the water I heard a couple of geese calling. I turned around and two of them where flying just over the tree tops I knew it would be a long shot but I took it anyway. When I pulled the trigger one of them came crashing down to the ground with a big thud. I knew it was still alive with the way it came down so Remi and I got over to the other side of the channel as quick as we could. Remi Quickly found the goose trying to hid in a small clump of grass.

 I returned home to pack up the family for a over night trip of duck hunting over in another part of Okanogan County where our duck camp is. Lucky for us this involved driving over a dirt road where we hit about 6 inches of snow and snowing in the Jeep. WE love to play in the snow if our household. We got over to the hunting area with about 5 hours of hunting left. We got into camp and the wife wanted me to make lunch for her and Maddy. After lunch we got going to start hunting.

The first little pond produced a drake green winged teal. The second lake I shot at a green head but missed and hit a mallard hen and a pintail hen with the same shot. The third lake I shot triple on mallards because they were in a perfect spot for jumping.

The next little pond had a bunch of geese on it. I had my wife scare the pond and they flew remotely close to me. I knew I already had 3 of 4 for my limit of the day. So I picked out the last goose in the group and unloaded my gun on it. I could tell I hit it all three times I shot at it but it did not collapse. It struggled over the hill and into the lake about 1/2 mile away.

My wife, Maddy and I drove the jeep over to the lake while one of its friends joined the injured the goose in the lake.  A half hour later and a 3 mile swim around the lake for Remi chasing the wounded goose, I was able to get a shot on the injured goose so Remi could retrieve it and my wife killed her first Honker.

All I needed now was one more duck for my limit of ducks. I really only had one more option to hunt. A small jump pond just off of the main dirt road in the area. The problem with this pond is the ducks can see you coming as you drive up to it. As I pull up I can see a couple of mallards in the pond, one green head and one hen. I loaded up got behind a clump of tall grass and ran up to the lake. With my first shot I dumped the green head. This time Lily my 3 year old German Wire Haired Pointing Griffon went down and pulled the drake still alive out of the cattails. 

So lets review the firsts of the day: 1. Shooting geese at the Run Way below my house. 2. Shooting a limit of geese and ducks in the same day. 3. Wife killing her first goose.

It was an awesome day.