Montana Shoulder Season

First of all, sorry it has been awhile, but I’m ready to tell some great stories of the fun which was had during the 2017 hunting season.

First hunt of the year –  Montana Elk shoulder season

I wasn’t able to go out with my father in law in Lewistown the 15th of August as I was out of town on vacation with family.  This was a trip we had been planning for a few years. However, the plan was to get out there the first weekend back and attempt to get out there and take another elk and put it in to the freezer.

The first thing which helped out is my father in law taking the time to get out in the field and find the elk and pattern their habits.  We know from prior years, this state section of land is particularly green during this point in the year and the elk tend to be out there in the morning.  They then move up after being spooked and cross a private section which does allow hunting – but only to certain people before the regular bow season opens.  My father in law did ask and we had permission to hunt this area.

Earlier in the week when the shoulder season opened, they were able to get 5 elk out of the area in short order.  We were hoping they would still be around during the weekend hunt.

Friday night was met with expectation and worry – excitement to start the next season, but the worry the elk had moved on to another area to try and find feed.  What would usually have been a 7 hour night turned in to 4.5.

The alarm woke me up with a jolt.  I stirred my wife out of bed (she really doesn’t like the early mornings, but is willing to go for the food hunting provides).  We made our way out and got dressed and ready for the day.  My father in law met us in the addition and then we loaded up.

We got to the area where the elk were way before sunrise, but to our dismay another vehicle was on the road before us.  We decided to hang back and hopefully they wouldn’t scare the elk out of the area.

When it was just about light, we moved up and started glassing.  From where the elk had previously been, they were further up the draw.  Seeing 300 elk in a group is a very rare thing, but is very inspiring.

As we were getting close, the truck which drove through the area came back, completely missing the elk to our right.  We moved out of the vehicle to the edge of the bench and set up for a shot.

It was early, but legal shooting light.  We watched as the elk were crossing the fence and trying to pick out one separated from the group so Katrina could get a shot.  One finally separated about 300 yards out and Katrina steadied herself and took a shot.  I saw the dirt under the elk fly and knew it was a clean miss.

The elk then started up the draw and we knew where they were going from prior years experience they were going to move around and be in the crossing valley soon.  We moved back up to the truck and drove around.

As soon as we moved away from the vehicle.  I felt we were getting close.  Splitting up from the group I had moved up the draw and prepared where I thought I would see the elk.  Then I heard a shot.  I only heard one so I knew the elk was down.

In the stillness after the shot, I could hear some cows mewing out in front of me.  Checking the wind again I moved to where I had the wind in my favor and pressed on.  As I came up to the open field I glassed both directions and gave out a small cow call.  I heard the cows respond and decided I needed to get to the other side of the field.

I ran across the field (only about 100 yards or so and came up to the first tree.  I could see the last of a couple of cows moving in to the trees and I called again to try and stop them.  They didn’t stop and kept feeding in to the trees.

Knowing the area also played well in to my next move.  I figured if I could get through the trees faster then they could I would be ready for them in the next lane which should offer up a shot.  I took off through the trees and when I came out the other side, I noticed the legs of the elk coming about 15 yards back in to the trees.  I had beat them to the opening!

I snuck forward to the best tree which would offer a good shot, loaded my shell into the chamber, and waited.  It didn’t take long for the first cow to step in to the opening ahead of me at 25 yards.  However, the second cow was behind her and so I had to wait for them to clear and as soon as she did, I let my 30.06 ring out.  She reared up and fell over.  In that instant another 25 head of elk busted through the trees, one nearly running me over.

I pulled out my tag and put it on my elk and then went to find Henry and Katrina.  I got to them just as they were done dressing her elk and so I helped them get it to the pickup, a measly tenth of a mile.  

We then loaded back up the cart and took it in to my elk.  .3 of a mile away from the road.  We dressed out my elk and got it cut in half and got the back end out to the truck.

Katrina stayed behind for the last load and Henry and I went in for the front half.  It took us only 18 minutes to get back to the truck with the front half!  We were excited the season was off to a great start.  2 elk in the freezer to start us off.  On to the freezer we went.

Rangefinder Review: Leupold RX- FullDraw

I wanted to share a little on a product we have been using recently, the Leupold RX-FullDraw Rangefinder.  I have been using this rangefinder during my time at the archery range and Turkey hunting this spring.  It was exciting to get this product in my hand because of the excellent reputation of Leupold.

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This rangefinder was designed with bow hunters in mind due to the angle compensation and is ready for use.  I found that it did accurately give distance to the tenth of a yard for the yardages under 175 yards.  The angle compensation worked well and allowed me to be accurate during my time at the range.   When you go outside of the distance with the angle compensation, the rangefinder gives line of sight distance out to 600 yards.  The magnification on the eyepiece is 5x.

In prior models from Leupold the reticle was red.  In this range finder, they switched to a standard black reticle.  Looking through the glass, it was clear and I could see well at the beginning and at the end of the day.  The eye cup folds down for those that have glasses.  I typically don’t wear glasses while I am hunting, but I do wear sunglasses at other times, so this feature worked well then.

The eyepiece can be focused and moves and clicks at each setting and is really smooth.  I also found that the rubberized grip on the top of the rangefinder allowed me to keep on ranging even though I was in a rain/snowstorm up on the mountain in Montana.  And I had no problems with the moisture fogging the lenses or causing other problems as the rangefinder is waterproof.

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If you do happen to use the meters setting, it switches very easily and works well on that setting.  During my time in the field I was able to get ranges up to 575 yards on a tree, and when I did run into some deer I was able to get the rangefinder to calculate at 275 yards.  They didn’t move any further away, so I was only able to get that range.

A final feature I didn’t use that would be helpful is the trophy scale.  You have to use the setup in the menu, but if you point at the rack it will give you height and width measurements of the rack of the deer.

So if you are looking at a new rangefinder, even though this one is not the newest model, it would be worth your while to pick one up.DSC_4845

Book Review: Little Sportsman

I ran across this awesome series of children’s books while at our local library recently. I am in no way affiliated with them, I just really wanted to share them. They are part of the Little Sportsman series by Robert H. Jacobs, Jr. (There may be other authors, but that’s who wrote the ones we read.) They are all about a boy in his early teens named Jake who is learning about hunting, using weapons and having adventures.  There are even more books, including some about fishing, but we haven’t got into those yet.  The books we have read have a definite focus on gun/bow safety along with a simple, straight-forward stance on gun rights. If you have young kids in your life, these are an excellent way to teach them about these things all while enjoying a fun read-aloud time.

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I have been reading them to our 5 yr old and when I grab one off the shelf, both my 8 & 10 yr old daughters come sit with us to listen too.  I was excited to see on their website that there are plans for a Little Jane series, featuring a teen girl who will be hunting.

I’ve included some pictures of parts of the book that I really appreciate because of how they approach hunting and gun use so respectfully.

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Basic safety.  I have said this to the kids multiple times, but it helps to have the story to back me up.
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This is a common response for all of us and it helps to know that going in.  The more prepared they can be, the better and more respectful sportsman they are.
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This is a great response to the anti-hunting message you see in movies like Bambi!
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Our liberal society and media has a loud voice, so this is such a great teaching tool to help our children make informed decisions and face questions and opinions that they will meet out in public.
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I just liked this page…
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Yep.  Good advice there.  My dad wouldn’t have had a hole in the door of the old blue Ford if this advice had been heeded.
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These books even take on issues like hunting in Africa and the actual impact that has on the people and animals. 

If you want to order these books, they are available at www.littlesportsman.com

2nd Annual Fort Peck Fishing Trip

Last year we were invited by our friends, Kevin & Crystal, to go along with them to Fort Peck Lake here in Montana.  We all had such a great time, we decided to go for a 2nd Annual trip.  Fort Peck Lake is below Fort Peck dam and is 134 miles long at normal operating level, with 1,520 miles of shoreline.

We kept a journal this year and have lots of pictures to share.  If you get a chance to fish this lake, I would definitely recommend you do it.

*Note: Not all fish pictures are necessarily the exact fish that corresponds with the writing.  Once you take this many fish pictures, it’s hard to remember which was which.  But I did try to keep the actual type of fish accurate to the text.  Also, some days include a fish count.  And some days I forgot and there were too many fish and too many days for me to remember. Lots of fish, people, lots of fish…

 

Saturday Morning:

I’m opening up our posts about Fort Peck through the haze of having had a nap after being on a boat all morning. The naps are one of the big perks of these fishing camps… I fell asleep to the feel of rising up and down on the waves since my body seems to think I am still out on the water. It’s been a pretty good first day… We got an early start and made breakfast burritos with some pre-made eggs and sausage. We grabbed our mugs of tea or coffee and headed out.

We have come to Hell Creek both times as there is a nice campsite, launching area and we have gotten a pretty good feel for where we will have success fishing in some of the nearby coves.  The roads getting here are better than last year, but 30 miles of washboard gravel road tends to wreak a little havoc. As we clean layers of dust off gear or tighten bolts and screws, the phrase “welcome to Hell Creek” has been bantered between us all. As we were heading out on the water this morning we discussed which area we wanted to try and both Bob and Kevin were anxious to get back into the cove where they caught some really nice Small Mouth Bass last year. We motor our way back and see the familiar landmarks and settle in to troll our way up this finger of Fort Peck.

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The first fish in the boat is a medium Bass from Bob. Three more follow, increasing in size, from both guys and ending in one smaller one from Bob. Amongst them, Kevin caught a Crappie that wasn’t a keeper. Kevin keeps saying he knows there’s a big Pike in there as he watches big blips come across the fish finder. And he proves himself right as his line starts zinging along, the tip of the rod curving down to the water. He’s super excited and we all jump into action, grabbing nets and moving other fishing poles. Kevin is reeling hard and this fish is just taking off with his line, while Crystal is trying to maneuver the boat to allow Kevin to get this guy on the boat. Kevin works the fish close to the surface and we catch sight of that big, angular Pike head and I can’t help but exclaim “He’s gorgeous!” which causes the fish to panic and dive down. Kevin gets him to the surface twice more before we get him in the net. Thankfully Mr. Pike had taken a roll or two and was wrapped securely in Kevin’s 8# line. Bob nets him up and Kevin goes into celebration mode. It’s a super decent fish. He weighs in at 11 lb 5 oz and is 38” long. There’s a lot of teasing about bigger fish that everyone else has caught. But really, it’s a nice catch.

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As the bite dies down, we head into shore to replenish supplies and clean fish so we will be ready to head out for the evening.

Saturday Evening:

We head out for an evening of fishing as the sun beats down. I don’t know what the temperature is, but the forecast for this week is a high of 105° F and it’s HOT.  Last year we didn’t bring swimming clothes, but this year we are ready. After fishing for a short time and not seeing a lot of response from the fish, Kevin decides to change into his swim trunks. We all politely avert our eyes, but Kevin has a wardrobe malfunction and can’t get his balance, we all start laughing as we hear him struggle which causes him to crack up. A boat that had been further away is drawing closer and jokes about them being traumatized by his bare, white bum start flying around. Crystal is standing at the back of the boat watching to see if Kevin needs help and I glance up at her and realize that there’s a very clear, miniature view of the front of the boat in the reflection of her sunglasses. “I can’t look at you, or towards the front!” I say. By this time we are incapacitated with laughter and Kevin sounds like he is starting to panic. Crystal goes to the front and I guess they get Kevin sorted out because we hear a splash and he’s in the water. After he gets cooled off, we try a couple of other spots to fish and end up with just a small Bass that we don’t keep.

 

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This little guy had big ideas…

Saturday Fish Count:

Bob: 2 Small Mouth Bass

Kevin: 2 Small Mouth Bass

1 Pike

1 Crappie

Crystal: 1 Small Mouth Bass

Katrina: 0

Sunday Morning:

On Sunday, I took a little writer’s retreat and relaxed at camp. Everyone else went out but only caught a few super small fish and didn’t keep any.

Sunday Evening:

Sunday night was gorgeous, we went out around 7pm and the water was cobalt blue with reflections of a lavender sunset to the west.

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We pulled into a cove and saw fish jumping, which always seems like a good sign. The Red-winged blackbirds were calling to one another and huge dragonflies were hovering over the water. Kevin caught a barely keepable Walleye early on. We were trolling around and suddenly Crystal says “Is that a snake?!” We all rush to look and instead of a snake, see a monster of a Pike with another fish in it’s mouth, breaking the surface of the water as he attempted to get his meal down his gullet. We watched him as he made an appearance on both sides of the boat and saw one more flip of his long body further away and he was gone. We didn’t figure we would catch that guy, since he had just eaten, but we were now hoping for a big Pike in this cove. Crystal caught a little Perch and Kevin caught a dinky Walleye.

DSC_4768We were trolling around a flooded area and Bob had on an orange spinner as he casted in between snags. Suddenly he had a fish on and after working a few minutes got a nice Pike on the boat. It was a nice way to end a slower day.

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Monday Morning:

Monday rolled around nice and hot again, with 99° F in the shade at 2pm. We got a later start and headed out at 7:30am. We had some nice cloud cover to start but it blew off pretty quick, although there was just enough of a breeze to keep from sweltering on the boat. Crystal brought along a floating tube and cooled off on that and we took a swimming break as well.

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Crystal caught a Walleye on a Perch colored Colorado blade. Kevin caught a Walleye and a Perch that he threw back.

Bob caught a Pike that was about 5 lbs and 32” on a yellow and orange Colorado blade on a bottom bouncer with a worm.

It started to get hotter and the fishing died down so we headed in to take a break for mid-day.

Fish Count:

Bob: 1 Pike

Kevin: 1 Walleye, 1 Perch

Crystal: 1 Walleye

Katrina: 0
Monday Evening

This was the hottest day of the trip, at 102 ° F. So we took a break from fishing in the evening and did some housekeeping around the camp and some napping. This was a serious napping day, especially since we had splurged on a campsite with electricity the day before and we had a/c in the camper.

Tuesday Morning

4th of July – ‘Merica… Bob & Katrina’s Anniversary

We woke up extra early and got out on the lake at 6am in hopes of getting some time out fishing before it got too warm since it was so hot the day before. We pulled up to the first spot, hoping to land on the fish and get going. After a few minutes, Bob was able to pull up a small mouth bass. This fish was his first of the day and seemed like a good start. After a few minutes, there was not much biting and we moved to another spot. Kevin caught a perch that he threw back and then a fairly decent Crappie using a Gulp Alive minnow on a jigging head. Kevin was frustrated because he was getting bites but not getting anything hooked, so he decided to keep the Crappie. But shortly after he caught a real nice Walleye. I finally hooked into a little Bass that I threw back in the drink.

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I probably would have caught more fish, but I got a little caught up in the relaxing part of fishing and didn’t spend quite as much time with my line in the water as I could have. Anyway, since I finally caught a fish, I decided I needed a break and sat down on the back edge of the boat to drink my tea. Bob was messing around with getting a lure from Kevin in the front and as he came back he dropped it and it clattered on the bottom of the boat. He asked if I could help him out and I turned around to see him kneeling down on one knee to get it. Right off, I knew he was up to something. He handed a big, shiny, lure up to me and I suspiciously took it. Looking at it more closely, I realized it had fancy engraving across the front of it. I looked at it more closely and read “Marry me, but this time in Ireland.”

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And I figured that would be fine, so I said “Sure.” Actually I told him he was crazy and then I said sure. Which is a bit of a joke because I don’t do great with things that involve emotions and when he proposed 14 years ago I didn’t say “Yes!” and cry and get all scream-y like they do in the romantic movies. I said “Sure.” I always explain now that it’s really a good thing because it meant I was sure. So that was fun.

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After awhile things calmed down and we went back to fishing and Kevin caught a Pike. We could see a lot of big Pike in the shallows, feeding on minnows and other fish. We continued fishing without catching anything worth mentioning and decided to head in until it cooled off a bit.

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Tuesday Evening

We got back out on the water at a little after 5pm. It was a beautiful last evening of our trip. There was a cool breeze and some decent cloud cover which made for a pastel sunset. We had a Bald Eagle that was hanging out in the cove we were in and we got a chance to observe him which was pretty neat, especially as it was the 4th of July. He flew to a couple different vantage points, at one time giving some geese a heart attack. We also saw mule deer coming down to drink at the water’s edge. Kevin caught another Pike and two walleye and I caught my second fish of the trip, a Bass. Back at shore, Kevin showed us some good tips on how to cut up fish and we will get some video up soon (hopefully).

 

Wednesday Morning

Bob and Kevin went out for a short time while Crystal slept in (she’s 9 months pregnant so it was totally warranted). I got up at 5:30am and went looking for toads to draw in my Nature Journal. We had caught a few last year and I was hoping to find one this year too. I didn’t find one, so I had to settle with a cool feather and my new bluebird friend. Crystal woke up after awhile and we relaxed at camp and drank some coffee. The guys showed back up shortly with two walleye, a drum and a Bass from Kevin. Bob had caught a Bass and a Gold Eye that he threw back. Then we broke up camp and said good-bye to Fort Peck for another year.

Alright, thank you to those that made it all the way to the end of this mega-post.  For those of you still interested, I am going to add a few more random pictures and fill you in on some lure information.

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*some affiliate links included

Fishing Gear We Used:

Bottom Bouncing with Worm Harness: Kevin and Crystal had made up a bunch of the worm harnesses so I don’t have a link for you.   We are going to learn how to make them and do them as a handicraft (think life skills) in our homeschool, so I will get a tutorial up for you.DSC_4715

“The Ambassador” (Not the actual name, but a name it had previously earned for helping Kevin bridge the gap between this world and the underwater one) Kevin caught a little of everything with this guy.  It’s actually a Perch colored jointed shad from Rapala.

JDR Lures: We used a variety of these, some of our favorites were the Bleeding Eye Brown Trout, Danger Close casting spoon and the Perch casting spoon

Berkley Gulp Alive Minnows: These were pretty hot for us.  We used them on a jigging head and had pretty good success with these.  Maybe the most success out of everything we tried.  Bob has a little container of liquid that comes with some of them and it adds a scent to the bait, so maybe that helped too.

 

 

Kat’s Spring Turkey Hunt

I know… it’s summer.  But if you know me, I tend to be a day late and a dollar short.  So you are going to have to take what you can get and not read Turkey hunting stories in the right season.  It’s still a good story.  😉

This was my first year Turkey hunting and I have to admit I was feeling a little down-hearted about going out the second time after my initial experience. The first time around, we got to the spot where we thought the turkeys might be and heard them gobble right at daybreak so we hustled through a small ravine and up the other bank and got set up to be ready for them. They were talking quite a bit but I couldn’t see them. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of movement up in a pine tree and realized it was a big Tom. He was thumping and gobbling as he stood up on a big branch. I turned to my dad who was sitting behind me and pointing up, I quietly said. “They’re up in the tree!” He nodded his understanding and went on watching and calling. Well, now my first realization here should have been “dad can’t hear very well, maybe you should clarify.” But instead I assumed that since he didn’t react, I wasn’t able to shoot him out of the tree. Bob was back around on my left with a number of trees between us and I couldn’t see him to make him aware of it, so there I sat, for about a half hour, enjoying my view of this big ol’ Tom dragging feathers and gobbling away.

Bob around the trees

Suddenly the flock flew down out of the trees and went down the ravine away from us. We called and tried to bring them back, but they just took off out of there. We chased ’em all around the country and saw them a couple more times, but never close enough to get a shot. Turkeys are fast!

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Saw some pretty flowers too.  Crocuses and Yellow Bells, my favorites!

Finally when we were in the pickup, heading home, Bob was saying something about how he thought there must have been one big Tom on the ground because he could hear him stomping heavy, or something like that. So I chime in to explain that he was doing it in the tree. Bob kind of turns to me funny and says “You mean you could see him?” And I was like “Yeah, I was watching him the whole time.” And both Bob and Dad exclaim “Why didn’t you shoot him?” Well, you all know why by now. So lesson learned, you can shoot a turkey out of a tree if you choose to. I think some people prefer not to, but it’s not illegal.

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Why did the turkey cross the road?  Because he knew we couldn’t shoot him…
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This was fun, we had this herd of elk cross in front of us on the way home.

Okay, so I wasn’t feeling super confident in my ability to get close to a turkey, but Bob dragged me out of bed at 4am anyway so I figured I would give it a try. If nothing else, it was a beautiful morning. We were hunting on a ranch that I had gone to a few times as a kid when my mom was doing some calving for them. I loved going with her, we would get there around 10pm and check cows, then nap in a camper before going back out again after a bit. We would listen to the overnight talk radio while we checked cows, it’s a good memory for me…

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Anyway, I digress, turkeys. We walked past a dam and bellowing cows up to a stand of pine and quaker trees and started to hear the turkeys gobble. We thought about setting up near some brush but decided to push up a little further. We hunkered down in some dead fall and dad set up his hen decoy where the coulee came down in front of us.

Decoy in the coulee

We sat and called for awhile when all of a sudden we heard a funky sound (not 70’s music, just a weird sound…) We all looked at each other in confusion but we couldn’t see what was making the sound. Well a few minutes later, a muley doe crossed the upper part of the coulee and she was on high alert. She was the one making the crazy noise, sort of a whistly, nasal, snort, bark… I don’t know if she had a fawn down where we were, or what, but she couldn’t figure out what we were, but knew something was up. She crossed back and forth three times trying to sort us out and we figured that her alarm call pushed the turkeys up over the top of the hill because we couldn’t hear them any more. We sat a little longer and I did some arts and crafts with some pine needles and updated my facebook. (I no longer have the facebook app on my phone, because obviously I have a problem.) Then we decided to go looking for turkeys. It was starting to feel like that first trip out…

Pine needle bracelet

So we ramble up over the hill and sort of meander around the top of it when dad catches sight of a hen. He starts calling and we hustle along. Dad informs me that I need to walk further away from the edge of a hill so I can see over the edge but only my head shows to anything down below (learned something new…)

I was in the front and all of a sudden I see a Tom. He saw us, but didn’t know he should be worried yet. He had his head up and was looking intently my way, and pretty as a picture, right in front of me was a pine tree with a broken branch right at shoulder level. I set the barrel of my gun on it, got a bead on him, let my breath out, pulled the trigger and WHAM! I flew backwards! Well, maybe not that bad… But, son-of-a-gun! That gun kicked! Good thing I had it seated in my shoulder. For some reason, I didn’t think a shotgun with turkey shot would pack a punch like that. Oh yeah… You want to know if I got the turkey. I did. One shot to the noggin and he was done.

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Bob has been instructed to tell me if I have weird hair next time…

Bob tried to get a shot with his bow, but the other turkeys were taking off pretty fast. He said later he should have grabbed my shotgun rather than trying to get a shot with his bow on the run. But you don’t always think of that in the heat of the moment.

We tagged my Tom and I hefted him up to carry back to the truck. We meandered a little in hopes of running across the flock again, but they had cleared out.

Packing Out

Hunting Prep: Archery Setup

Today I am starting a new series for this blog, all about Hunting Prep.  As we are drawing closer to the opening hunting seasons in Montana for bear and turkey, I wanted to discuss what I am doing to get ready to be in the woods.

Archery Setup

For the first part of this series I will discuss my bow and archery setup and what I am running during the off-season.  The bow I am using is one  purchased four years ago and it is a Mission Riot . Updated bows can from them can be found at missionarchery.com.
I purchased this bow with a couple of things in mind.  The first was it has a lifetime warranty for the first owner.  I would be able to use it first for my own bow, but then my kids can use it when they get old enough to come hunting with me.  My oldest is 10, so she is two years away from going out with me and using this bow in the field.  The reason she can use the bow is it has a wide range of draw length and draw weight.  The draw length is adjustable without a bow press from 19 inches to 30 inches.  The draw weights are from 15 pounds to 70 pounds.
Right now I am pulling 66 lbs. and I have it set for a 29 inch draw.  I am unsure as to the speed of my arrows, but I have been using this setup for the past couple of years and have taken some great animals with it.
I had turned down the bow from the 70 pounds maximum to give me a bit of ease when pulling it back and holding for long lengths of time.  The case for this was when 4 years ago I was holding on an elk for over two minutes waiting for one more step to be taken.  To which he saw us and bolted.  At that point I most likely wouldn’t have been able to get a good shot off as I was starting to shake and probably would have let down.
However, over this summer, I may turn the bow back up as I have been working towards a healthier lifestyle and should have the strength for it.  More on that in future posts.
The arrows I am running are the Hunter XT from Goldtip.    When I purchased the bow from the local shop, I purchased my first dozen arrows from Gold Tip.  I had heard great things about how tough these arrows are.  Unknowingly, I would put some through the wringer over the next couple of years.  I have some arrows that were shot through multiple animals and remain intact.  I have even seen a person shoot and hit a metal target with these arrows and the arrow didn’t shatter.  From those original arrows, I still have three left.  Another testament of how well they hold up.

Next week I will talk about the accessories (sight, quiver, and other items) I am going to be running this year for archery.

Wild Game Recipes & Meal Prep Container Review

Today I have this week’s recipes and meal ideas (scroll down for those), plus I wanted to share with you a nifty food storage container that we are trying out.  The containers are called Fitpacker Meal Prep Containers.  They are made specifically to help you eat healthier by preparing healthy meals to eat at a later time.

Hamburger Salad, Meal Prep

The Fitpacker Original are the perfect size for individual meals (28oz.)  and we have been using them for lunches and dinner on the go.  There is also the option to get the Fitpacker Duo which has two compartments or the larger Fitpacker XL (38oz.) containers to accommodate a variety of meal types.

Pros:

We have been using these containers for about a month and a half and they really help simplify things.  They stack up really nicely, so I can store them neatly in a cooler bag when we will be eating supper in town and I love how sleek and simple they look when they are all lined up and ready to go.   I don’t just use these containers when we are away from home either, they are also great for setting up snacks for the kids (sliced fruit and veggies) or pre-making my own lunch so that I don’t end up making poor choices because I am in a hurry and just grab whatever is quick. Another big plus for me it that they are made in the USA.  Fitpacker containers are also BPA free, easy to clean and freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe.

Specially contracted with a USA manufacturer to provide the most dense and highest quality plastic container they have ever made.

I was a little worried that the lid would leak when we packed up foods with liquids, but the lip on the tray and a well-fitting lid keep liquids from spilling out.

They are a great tool to have around for meal prep and it makes it easier to make healthy choices when you have your meals all ready to go. Red Beans & Rice, Meal Prep

Cons:

The lids fit so well, that sometimes they are difficult to remove.

Pricing:

Fitpacker containers are on sale right now so the price on the Original size ranges from $13.99 for 7 containers to $21.99 for 16 containers.

*Fitpacker graciously sent us the Fitpacker Original containers in order that we could provide this review.

This Week’s Recipes:

Okay,  this post is getting a little long, so I am going to keep the recipe information basic this week.  But if you need some ideas on how to use the fish and game you have in your freezer, here you go!

Hamburger Salad– This is SO good, we use a little bit of cheese and this salad tastes like a Big Mac.   We used Elk burger for this one.

Honey Soy Salmon  You can’t go wrong with a Pioneer Woman recipe… This was easy and delicious.  We had a problem with our rice (let’s just say, we had some uninvited guests) so I nixed the rice in this recipe and went with some Dreamfields Spaghetti noodles.  I spooned some of the sauce from the fish over the noodles and the kids went especially crazy for that.

Loaded Nachos Another Pioneer Woman recipe, you can use Blue Corn Chips if you are trying to steer clear of too many carbs.  This was a fun meal for the day we had one of the kid’s friends over.  We used Elk burger for this one as well.

Taco Skillet Oh, man… If you need a quick dinner, this is the one.  Brown some burger, open a couple of cans and you are set.  We ate this over a bed of lettuce with a dollop of sour cream.

Elk Loin steak with mashed potatoes and salad.  I salted the thawed steak, fried it in the pan and then sliced it with the potatoes and salad on the side.   No recipe needed.   The Pioneer Woman does have  a great tutorial for how to cook a steak if you need something like that.  I don’t use the seasonings she recommends, just salt and pepper and I do cook our steak just a smidge more than she does, but she has some great pictures that will help you get a good idea of how to cook a great steak.

That’s it for this week!  Let me know if you try some of these out, or if you have questions about the Fitpacker containers.  And, as always, I would love to hear your meal suggestions.

God bless!

-Katrina

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What the heck is an Aoudad?

Bob and I have recently been seeing information about hunting a large game animal called an Aoudad.  And if you are anything like me, your first thought might be “What the heck is an Aoudad?” So of course I had to go online and look up information.  And if you are anything like Bob, your first thought might have been “I don’t care what they are! How can I get on a hunt for an Aoudad?”  Well in either case, I am going to save you some time and fill you in.

The Aoudad, or Barbary Sheep (although they are sometimes included in the goat genus Capra), are a wild, non-native species originally from Africa that were brought to Texas and New Mexico after soldiers stationed in Chad and the Barbary Coast of Northern Africa, during World War II, recognized the potential of the Aoudad as a game animal and had some shipped to the United States.

big_male_aoudad_on_rocks.jpg
Photo Credit: www.huntaoudad.com

The Aoudad are a short haired,reddish-brown animal, with a mane of longer hair under their neck and front legs.  Both the male and female have horns. They have flourished in the mountains of Texas and New Mexico due in part to their ability to obtain all hydration from the vegetation they consume and remain hydrated for long periods with little water.

aoudad_herd_reverse
Photo Credit: www.huntaoudad.com

 

Based on what I have read, they are super alert which makes for a challenging hunt.  I imagine it would be like hunting antelope if they were still in the mountains.

So what makes these animals so intriguing for hunters?

In Outdoor Life,  Alex Robinson says:

In a lot of ways, a wild mountain sheep hunt is the least attainable big-game hunt on the continent for the everyday American outdoorsman or woman. It’s not so much the physical challenge, but the financial burden and the long odds of drawing a tag that push a sheep hunt out of reach for most.

And that’s why a wild aoudad hunt in West Texas might be one of the most underrated big-game trips out there. You get to glass, climb, feel your muscles ache, and hear your joints creak. And if you hunt hard and shoot well, you’ll likely come home with a very cool trophy and some great memories.

He goes on to share some good information and tips in this article.

While hunting Aoudad is less expensive than some hunts out there, right now it still is above our budget.  So Bob and I were excited to find a group of guides from Terlingua, Texas who run a site called HUNTAOUDAD.COM and who regularly give away Aoudad ewe hunts as part of their management strategy and to build awareness about their organization.  You can sign up to win a hunt on their website. They also have a great FAQ page that lays out the requirements for a hunt on their place.

It would be so exciting to win a hunt and get the chance to go after such a unique and challenging animal.  I really like that the hunts are free range and fair chase so we wouldn’t be shooting an animal while it’s feeding at the hay mow.  They also have a guide available for the extent of your hunt and you can decide how much or how little they help out.

Aoudad hunt
Photo Credit: www.huntaoudad.com

 

What do you think?  If you had the chance, would you hunt one of these critters?

Credits:
https://gothunts.com/history-of-aoudad-in-texas/
http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/2016/03/7-reasons-why-you-should-consider-wild-aoudad-hunt#page-6
www.huntaoudad.com

 

 

Antelope 2016

As I sit here writing this, reflecting on my year, I am just amazed at everything that has happened and that I have taken part in.  I have been truly blessed again in the opportunities and the abundance of wildlife this year.

This is the story of my antelope hunting for the 2016 Season.

During this year, due to hunting for elk with my family and friends, antelope was an afterthought.  Although there were multiple times that I went out hunting antelope with my bow, the first day I had eluded to in Kevin’s elk post awhile ago.  Needless to say it didn’t work out on that trip.

After getting Kevin’s bull to the processor, we started back out to take a look and check to see if there were a couple of antelope on the property that we had permission on.  They weren’t there, so we moved on to the state land nearby.   We drove by and while we were glassing, there was a decent buck bedded down about 150 yards in.

We decided the best way to get close to this buck was to do the classic “drive up like you are a farm truck” and use it as a blind.  The trick with this tactic is that you need to be able to have the shooter use the truck as a blind and also get the set up done quickly so that you can get the shot before the antelope gets nervous.

I got out the arrow and got ready.  We pulled onto the road and when we were in bow range we stopped.  I asked Henry how far and he said sixty, I was already thinking that in my head so I went with it.  We were pulled off the road and I opened the door of the pickup as slowly and as quietly as I could.

I stepped out and nocked my arrow.  I was shooting in the gap between the door of the pickup and the cab, which in this case was a 3 inch gap.  I settled into the pocket of my aiming, squaring up my peep with the sixty yard pin on my Mission Riot bow, making sure the bow was flat on the bubble.  I aimed and squeezed down on the release trigger.  I watched the arrow fly towards the target and go just under the buck’s chest.

He ran off as only antelope do, fast and gracefully.  I knew that was going to be it for him coming back to the property for awhile.  I walked over to where my arrow went, and when I found the arrow and where the buck was, I ranged back to the truck 65 yards.  I had missed my target by the slimmest of margins and it was the closest attempt I had at an antelope throughout bow season.

Rife season

As Katrina had written in an earlier post, we were hunting the one weekend before the rifle opener for elk and deer.  We wanted to get this done during that weekend.

After the first day being hurt by the extra human movement of moving cattle and the rain starting up that evening, we realized the best bet we had was to be out early and be on the fence line before light.  We woke up early and got in position.

Montana Sunrise.jpg

As we waited for a great Montana sunrise, we sat and tried to glass.  As the first rays came over the top of the hills, we could see movement.  To our right there were some antelope by the fence line only about 200 yards away.    We sat and waited.  Within about 30 minutes (and two hours in my mind), the antelope moved away on to the private land that I didn’t have permission to be on.

We decided to move on and come back by in a couple of hours and see if they crossed the property line.  We went to another section of property which usually held antelope  and started glassing.  After about an hour of glassing the public land, we determined there weren’t any antelope there.

We moved back down to where we were in the morning.  As we were moving through the edge of the bottom of a draw, we saw antelope, two bucks to be precise.  I looked quickly at my GPS and knew they were legal.  We looked to make sure weren’t any directly behind those two and there weren’t, but off to the right there were another 20.  Henry and I talked about the antelope and we decided from the quick look we had, the one on the right was the biggest one.  I settled into my ruger american 30.06 and turned the scope up to 12.  I was looking at the antelope just over some grass.  One good breath and as I hit the end of it, I squeezed the trigger.

The report sounded off and the antelope dropped out of the scope.  It felt like it was a solid shot but I couldn’t tell from where I was shooting.  I looked over at Henry and he said with a smile, “Lets go get him.”

Antelope Buck 2016 E

We cleaned him up, snapped a couple of photos, and then loaded him up into the pickup.  We then drove back to Henry’s and started processing.  We finished him a couple of hours later, and loaded him in to the cooler to finish the rest back at home.

Equipment Used:
Badlands Diablo Dos pack
Mission Riot bow set at 66 lbs and a 29 in draw
Gold Tip arrows
Rage 2 blade broadheads
Ruger American 30.06 with Vortex Crossfire 2 3-9 X40 Scope
Federal Fusion 165 grain bullets.

Wild Game, It’s What’s For Dinner…

Hey!  We are adding a new aspect to the blog.  Almost every week I will put together a post that includes recipes and links to meals we made during the week.  Most of them will be centered around fish and wild game that we have harvested and will for the most part be low-carb, paleo-ish friendly.  I think this will be really fun and I look forward to hearing what you all think.  I will be figuring out how to make these recipes printer friendly as well.

I don’t have a full week this time, as we ate at a friend’s house and went out to dinner, but here’s what I do have.

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans & Rice

*Unless you are lucky enough to have some smoked sausage made with game, this recipe does not include any wild game, but it’s tasty…

This is a recipe I found quite a few years ago. It’s pretty quick to put together because it uses smoked sausage and it’s nice and hearty.  This is the original recipe, but I have made a few adjustments.

1.I don’t like how mushy it was from being in the crock-pot, so I saute the veggies and then add all of the ingredients to a soup pot and let it simmer for 30 min.

2. I skip all of the spices in the recipe and just add 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.

3. I add extra veggies and only put in two cans of beans to limit carbs.  You could also (a)leave out the rice, (b)use a rice that fits the way you eat better (we use brown rice) and (c) just take a small portion to limit carbs also.

4. I substitute whatever polish sausage we decide on while looking at the store.

This recipe makes a nice, large amount and is great for breakfast or lunch for a few days or you could freeze it for a quick meal later.

Elk Loin Steak with Veggies

Elk Loin Steak

 

This is such an easy and tasty meal to make.  Of course loin is a great cut, but we pretty much enjoy any cut of steak eaten this way, except for cubed steak which tends to be a bit tougher.

 

Recipe:

1-2 lb Elk Steak

Salt & Pepper (or your favorite seasoning)

Veggies

Directions: Thaw steak and sprinkle with a generous amount of  salt, let the steak sit for up to an hour, 10 minutes works too.  I have used different spices and seasoning mixes, but I find that just a nicely salted steak, cooked well, is ideal.

Pre-heat a frying pan to med-high heat and lay those steaks on there.  Depending on thickness, cook for 2-3 minutes per side. If the steak sticks to the pan, wait.  It’s not ready yet. You want it to be seared and then it should release. Now flip! As this side cooks, all those yummy juices should come to the top.  You want the juices on top to still be a little red and the outsides to be seared.  A dry, overcooked steak=sadness.  If you aren’t certain if it’s cooked right, take one steak out of the pan and cut it in half.  It should be red, but the middle should not look raw.  Red=yes, Raw=no.

Once the steak is cooked to perfection, pull them all out of the pan.  Throw your steak on a plate, slice it up so it looks pretty and fill up the rest of your plate with veggies.  We normally do salad.  The night I made the steak in the picture, it was just the kids and I so we had raw carrots with ranch and potatoes. (ok!  It was tater tots, but sometimes you do what you have to do to survive…)

Enjoy.

 

Perch Chowder

I don’t have a picture for this final recipe, the lighting was horrible and I was missing a couple ingredients.

So, I think this was a good recipe… But the problem with fish is that, no matter what you do to it, it still tastes like fish.  Now, I know fish is healthy and we have a lot of it, so I continue to eat it.  But I don’t care for it.  But Bob and our 4 yr old son, who both like fish, enjoyed this dish.  So I think it must be okay.

Here’s the link to the recipe: Perch Chowder

 

I hope you find these helpful!  See you next week with more!

 

-Katrina

 

 

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Experiencing the outdoors with family and friends in one of God's greatest places!