Thursday, February 23, 2012

A walk with deer and The Wife

How many deer can you see?

So today I was sitting around the house getting restless. It was a beautiful late winter day that was supposed to be spent thinning Fir trees on the property. But with the wind that was blowing I decided to take the safe route and save that for another day.

Since the sun was out and the sky was blue I decided to go for a hike up from the house. I texted my wife to tell her where I was going to be and headed up the hill with the camera.

As I started down the road I was looking for a heavily used game trail heading up the hill. When I found one that looked good I took it. I knew I wanted to go check out an old coyote den to see if it was being used. I also wanted to count deer and look for deer sheds.

cougar tracks

After I got to the top of the first hill I dropped into the creek on the other side. Every little corner or drainage seemed to have deer coming out of it. I was going to take a picture of each group so I could come back and count them all but each small group seemed to go over one hill and mix in with another group and then split up again so it was hard.

I got up into the area where the coyote den is which is in a big bowl of sage brush covered hills, and then the den its self is on a hill in the middle of the bowl. As if the coyote who built it wanted to see all around each morning it woke up. Although the den was not in use I counted around 40 deer on all the hill sides around me.

I continued to walk up the bowl to a small aspen grove. I found some cougar tracks in the snow outside the aspen grove.

 My wife texted me saying she was home and I explained where to find me. I found a nice spot to sit and wait for her. A half hour later she got to me and we started walking again.

My wife was being a trail blazer and way out infront, and of course found a nice 5 point mule deer shed under a big antelope bush. It was getting late so we headed down the hill to home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maturing of a growing hunter (Part 5 16 Years Old)

Part 5, 16 Years Old

I met my friend Goeman in 7th grade; he was the first friend I made who actually hunted. We had always talked about going hunting by ourselves. Well, in high school once I was 16 and had a driver’s license and a Jeep it was GAME ON. He had been telling me of a place called Twisp where he went deer hunting and said there is a lot of grouse. So we loaded up the Jeep Thursday before Labor Day weekend, so all we needed to do is stop at home to grab our guns after school and leave for the weekend.

Goeman and the first grouse of the trip,
 we couldn't decide if it was a
bush are a grouse. 5 minutes after shooting
hours on the first morning

I am sure that our parents were nervous about the weekend's hunting and camping expedition. There is a famous quote between Goeman and his dad saying "If you two had half a brain between you, you would be dangerous." and Goeman replying "We don't have half a brain between us and we're still dangerous."

On friday, school was taking a little longer than planned so we wrote fake letters saying we had late afternoon doctor’s appointments and skipped out from school early. We had to write the fake notes otherwise the school would call home saying "Your student missed one or more classes". And of course our parents would not have let us skip out early.

Our friend Daniel who was not hunting decided to join us as well.

We all jumped in my newish Jeep Cherokee and away we went, starting a weekend chalk full of gas station food and I believe a playboy made it along for the trip too, nothing like some classy reading to pass the time. The next four and a half hours flew by and before we knew it we were in camp. Since it was early September we could not have a fire without the risk of starting a forest fire. I laid down my tarp after flattening an area to sleep on the ground.  Goeman pitched his tent and Daniel slept outside as well.

The weekend was full of shenanigans and jokes, such as throwing fake spiders in Goeman's tent and jumping up in the middle of the night saying coyotes were surounding the camp.  These stories have turned into stories that will be told to our grand children. That first weekend we shot 15 Grouse and a few rabbits, it seemed every corner we went around had some grouse sitting there.

We took some pictures on a disposable camera, which at the time seemed like a good idea and now I look back and think, did I really have hair like that?! We were young and dumb and full of piss and vinegar.  It was one of the best times of my hunting life.

Part 4 (12 Years Old)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Alaska Please Don't Eat Me

So OBN has a writing prompt asking what would be or was your scariest outdoor experience.

It was June 2011. I was on a boat trip heading from Ketchikan, Alaska to Juneau, Alaska. We were taking two weeks to go from point A to point B. I told the captain (who happened to be my Dad) that I wanted to stop along the way and do some fresh water fly fishing. I had some success in one small stream but was having some issues finding something to bite my dry flies.

We stopped at this one spot which had a nice sized river coming into the bay we were anchored.  So I tried talking my wife into going on a hike with me. But since she had already gone on a few death marches with me on this trip with little to no results, she said no. However, I was able to convince my Dad to drop me off as far up river as possible with the dingy.

The pointy eared creature
So after Dad hit a few rocks with the boat motor he kicked me out into the tall green grass of the salt marsh, with just my fly fishing rod and a camera. My goal was to get above the tide line to fish fresh water without any influence of salt water. I stayed in touch with the big boat via a handheld radio. As I walked though the deep grass knowing full well I was in grizzly bear, black bear, wolf, and moose habitat, I came up with a song to sing while walking through the grass.

Please Bear don't eat me.
Don't eat me because I'm skinny and tough.
I promise Mr. Bear you won't enjoy me.
Please Bear don't eat me.

I sang this over and over at the top of my lungs as I walked.

I came around a corner and there they were two black creatures staring at me. They had pointed snouts and their ears stood up as they were alerted to my presence by my singing. The only thing I could think of was Oh shit I just walked up on two black wolves and they now know they have an easy dinner. I knew I could not out run them so I pulled out my camera and I figured well when they find my body they will see the pictures of what ate me.

Then the two creatures stood up on their hind legs, and I thought wow these are some talented wolves. Then it hit me Oh Thank God they are just black bears. So of course I stuck around and got some more photos of the two.

The fishing hike ended when after an hour and a half of walking I was still in the salt marsh and I had a moose bolt out in front of me.  I also had to meet up with Dad before too long to get a ride back to the big boat.

This was not my only close encounter with bears in the Alaskan Wilderness this trip, just the one that got my heart going the fastest.

Another bear encounter later in the trip.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Maturing of a growing hunter Part 4 "12 Years Old"


Here I am sitting in school counting the hours, minutes, and seconds as they go by. Knowing that Dad will be picking me up at the end of the day to go grouse hunting makes the day creep by. This hunting trip is especially significant because it will be the first season that I have my hunting license.

This is the 1974 squirrel truck, but you get the point
 After what seemed to be days the last bell rang and there was Dad in the Squirrel Truck, a dark blue 1987 Ford F-350 crew cab all packed and ready to go for our five hour drive to Forks, Washington. I have been waiting for this my whole life and the whole drive all I can think about is shooting my first grouse.

We get to camp and my brother Eric is already there and has his camp set up. Since it is around 8 o'clock Dad sets up the truck camper where he sleeps and then helps me set up my tarp and cot. And for the next hour we sit around the campfire in anticipation of the next days' hunt. The sun vanishes into the clouds over the Pacific Ocean and we all retreat to our beds.

When I finally get to sleep, the night consists of me waking up what seems like every hour to check if the sun is coming up. When I saw a hint of dawn sneaking over the Olympic Mountains I got up and started the fire and waited for everyone else to get up.

The sun setting over the Pacific Ocean Forks, WA.
When people started to roll out of bed the fire was hot and ready so they could put their boots on with warm feet. We all got some breakfast and loaded up in the truck and hit the logging roads. The morning fog cloaked the landscape, due to the proximity to the pacific ocean. The fog encased everything it touched with a heavy layer of moisture.

We got to a road where we normally park the truck and walk due to the ditches dug to keep vehicles out. I was carrying a Remington 20 gauge pump that my older siblings had used as their first hunting shot gun in years past.

We were walking around a switch back and a grouse flushed out of a tree and sailed to the bottom of the deep valley.  Another grouse flushes out of a tree and as it goes to land in another tree I pull up and pull the trigger.  The grouse never made it to the branch and both my brother and my Dad said it looked like I hit it. We sent our German Wire Haired Pointing Griffon Alex into the dense underbrush. After a few minutes I too climbed down into the soaking wet brush to try and find my bird.  My search ended in disappointment, discouraged I climbed back up the hill to the road where my Dad and Brother were waiting. Dad offers some advice "Maybe next time let the bird land before you take a shot at it."


For some reason I don't remember my first duck, grouse or any of my first game birds. I do however remember some of my first failures that taught me what I needed to advance to the next level in hunting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When good Sledding goes bad

Well my wife is gone at a conference and Grammy Maddy and I are home. I am supposed to be working but I am home sick with a head cold and Grammy is here helping with Maddy.

I decided to take a break from the couch and go out side with Maddy and Grammy so I can watch Maddy go sledding. After she found out how much fun it was to go head first I went and got the camera. Of course she didn't want to go head first when the camera was out. So she gets on the sled and Grammy pushes her down the hill like the other 100 times. But as the pics will show this one did not turn out as well.

The good luck Green head curly feathers I put in her hat didn't work I guess.