All posts by Katrina Thennis

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!

Wild Flowers
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.

Turkey-on-road.jpg
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…

Ph Ranch at Sunrise.jpg

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.

Turkey
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

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.

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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

 

 

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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At least we had fun…

Well opening of rifle season was October 22nd and that marked the beginning of a week long “vacation” we take each year.  As some of you know, we homeschool, and one of the perks of homeschooling is determining when you take vacations.  A few years ago we started spending the entire first week of rifle season at my parent’s house in Lewistown, Montana.  The first year, I packed up all of our school books and supplies and tried to do school while we were there.  It was a flop.  So now we just look forward to a week of visiting with family and hunting.  My brother comes over from Washington and mom watches the kids some so I can go out and it’s a blast.

I decided I am going old-school and will set these up like a photo album and fill you in as we go.  Do you remember photo albums people?  That reminds me, I need to print pictures… I think I am behind by about seven years…

Anyhow, we started out the week by waking up early and heading out to some BLM land.  We had heard that the elk bed down there and sometimes you can catch them there before they head back over to graze on the N Bar Ranch in the morning.  Dad, Bob & I hiked up a large hill through the quaker trees and the underbrush in the semi-darkness while Jonas and my cousin-in-law, Raleigh hiked up a trail to the other side of the hill.  We knew also that my dad’s cousin Benny’s boys, Aaron and Logan, were up there somewhere too and found out later they were up a ways more and were overlooking the next ridge.

We got set up under some trees in front of a meadow we thought they might come through as light broke.  We almost immediately heard three shots further North of us and thinking that the elk might now get pushed down a coulee further that way, we relocated quickly.  We continued to hear a shot here and there, but unfortunately, we didn’t get into the elk.  Aaron and Logan(along with a couple other guys) had been able to see a herd of cows right below them once it was light and they shot a cow, which pushed the elk up Southwest of us, into a group of other hunters who shot their elk.  We never did get to see them.  Although once we were back at the truck and looked up the hill we had come down, we did see a large black bear run across a clearing and down into the trees.

No Elk.jpg
Here’s a nice picture of no elk.
Where's da elk.jpg
Where’s da elk at Benny?  (My dad is an ex-Hutterite, so make sure that’s the accent you read it in, ok?)

We spent the rest of that day watching other hunters… Well that’s what it felt like.  It was really crazy, being the first day of rifle season.  Normally the guys go down to the river to hunt and they get way back into the backcountry where there aren’t so many people. But I didn’t have  a tag for that area and they were trying to let me hunt without completely abandoning my mom with the kids so we were doing more local hunting.  Thus all the people.   It’s hard to not have fun when you get to drive around Montana and hang out with other hunters though.   We spent awhile just watching all of the movement of hunters below us as we stood on a ridge and visited with Benny, his boys  and the others who had been hunting with them.  And we chased coyotes and saw lots of wildlife.

Coyote.jpg
Anybody know this song?  Mom? “I’m wild and wooly and full of fleas, never been curried below the knees… I sit and howl on the lone prairie!  I’m a _(What’s the answer?) !”

The next day we tried a different spot and ran into a whole lot of elk hanging out on private land which again was owned by the N Bar (it feels like they own everything over there now!).  I hear they don’t let many people hunt on their place.  But I am starting to think I need to call and ask for next year…

elk-way-over-there
Ok, over there in the middle of the side-hill… Do you see the herd of elk?  No?  That’s because my camera sucks.  If that bothers you, keep checking back, we have plans for a new camera and your continued support of the blog will help immensely!

Well, that morning we didn’t have any luck with the elk so we decided to go back over by the colony to look for deer.  We dropped off my brother, Jonas, at one end of the area we planned to hunt and we went to look up on the other end.  He saw some does and a few small bucks but the one we were looking for wasn’t there.  Jonas saw a few coyotes too so as we were driving to another spot dad wanted us to try we caught sight of one of the coyotes and gave chase.

coyote-chasin
This is what it looks like inside the truck when dad is blaring across a stubble field trying to catch up with a coyote and we are being flung wildly in all directions.  (*Note: My dad is actually a great driver and at no point during this trip did he drive me over a steep cliff even when it felt like he might.)

So the guys did end up getting a shot at the coyote but it made it to a den and dodged inside.  Dad and Jonas tried to figure out how to get the coyote out of it’s den and decided they didn’t want to stick their face down in there.  They dug out the front so they could look in without having to get too close and found the coyote.  Jonas decided to shoot him once more with the pistol and his front half disappeared into the den.  He pulled the trigger and WHUMP… the sound reverberated from out of the den and Jonas came out shaking his head.   As a result the coyote moved way to the back and we weren’t able to retrieve him, but on our way out we saw Logan and told him about it.  By the time he got back there, the coyote had come out and was laying dead at the opening.  Meh… At least I was able to glean some entertainment from the whole deal.

 

The next morning found us again looking at elk on the N Bar, I am serious, it’s everywhere… We were at their fence line looking back towards private land that we could hunt on the next day, but their family was hunting there over the weekend and we could go on after they had first chance.  In between the private land was some BLM and we were hoping that the elk might get pushed up through there on their way to the N Bar.  No luck.

n-bar-fence-post
This here is an N Bar fence post.  In those trees back there were the elk.  We sat and listened to bulls bugle and cows mew for awhile as we watched them through the binoculars.  It was beautiful and exciting and frustrating…
turkeys
The next day when we got onto the previously mentioned private land, we saw lots of turkeys, prairie dogs, and the back end of elk running over the hill into inaccessible private land.  But it gave us a plan for the evening because at least we knew they were in there to graze at night.

We set up in a meadow that evening to wait for the elk to come back in to graze.  Jonas and Dad went scouting around to see if they might run into them.  I found a lot of pretty mushrooms and took some selfies.  No elk.

mushroom-collage

 

selfie

Ok the days have all started running together in my memory at this point.  So here’s the wrap-up.  It was fun.  We saw and did SO much that week.  I am going to throw a couple more pictures at you including the one with the single critter I managed to harvest all week.  Thanks for joining me on my trip down memory lane!

one-shot-wonder
My  mama got this nice whitetail doe.  She was kindly pointing out that she got her with one shot so I could show my cousin Raleigh who did not get his deer with one shot.  Or two… We love you Raleigh!

 

Whitetail collage.jpg
Finally got something!  I got this nice whitetail buck on the last day we had to hunt.  I was really pleased with this guy.  He is a really nice size, antler-wise, for this area and he was a well-fed, big-bodied deer.  And it was a beautiful shot, if I do say so myself.  He never knew what hit him.  I made one shot and he just toppled down on himself.  When we gutted him we saw that the shot entirely disconnected his heart so I was really happy about that.

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Antelope and Pheasant Hunting

Oh, man I just love fall.  I love the colors, the smell, the way the air feels… It just has a different energy from the rest of the year.  So combine that with going out to look for Bob’s antelope and going Pheasant hunting for the first time and it makes for a great time!

First I want to tell you this story… I guess about 13 years ago I had said to my dad that I wanted to hunt pheasant so my dad was on the lookout for a shotgun for me.  Well, while he and my mom were in Billings she had him stop at Shopko and he went to go look at guns and was eyeing a 20 gauge they had there for $230 but decided not to get it.  So they get ready to leave and as he goes out the door, the blue light starts flashing and the voice over the loudspeaker announces that the Remington 20 gauge is on blue light special!  Did you guys know they really did blue light specials? And I do want to know who controlled what went on special, maybe the guy at the gun counter who saw this fella looking at a particular gun? Anyway, dad goes back in there and the gun is on special so he goes ahead and buys it.  Then when he gets home, there’s a rebate in one of his hunting magazines so he sends that in and get twenty bucks back.  And now he’s got my gun.  But unfortunately it didn’t get out much until now.  And once you hear the rest of this, you might pity it even more!

Now for page two… (Anybody get that?  Huh?) Well, anyhow Bob and I took our 4 yr old son, Robby, with us and piled in the truck with my dad and went looking for antelope at daylight.

Little Buddy.jpg.

We drove out towards Grass Range to hunt out at the Ayer’s Hutterite Colony and entered the first pasture.  We soon realized we had picked the wrong day to hunt that area because it was the weekend that there were cattle buyers in town and a lot of the area rancher’s were gathering up calves to ship.  So as we drove in we were met with cattle semi’s, bawling cattle and horses and riders on the move.  We went ahead and checked the entire area that we had permission to hunt on, but the antelope had all been pushed out into the neighboring ranches.

Since we hadn’t had any luck with the antelope we decided to go home and change gear and get the dogs to go out Pheasant hunting.  We loaded up with shotguns and Bob’s bow, just in case…

On the way.jpg

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My dad hunts two Brittany Spaniels, Joe and Dex, that are eight and ten years old so they have a lot of experience. And we have a Brittany Spaniel/Golden Retriever cross we call CC.  She is almost two and this was her first time out.  We really should have had her out before and we have mostly worked with her on obedience training, but she has always been pretty keen on pointing so we were hoping she hadn’t lost some of that natural instinct.

Pointing CC.jpg

As we got out of the truck,there were some Pheasant feathers on the ground and I showed them to CC and she got pretty excited and  dad’s dogs started sweeping along, nose to the ground.  We took off up along a draw with dad on one side and Bob and I on the other.  Dad’s dog flushed a hen right away but we can only shoot roosters so we continued on.  Our dog swept in and out of the long grass and brush, coming back to check in with us and then taking off again.  I think she thought at first that we were just out for a nice walk when all of a sudden as she was running excitedly after a scent she surprised a hen that flew up right in front of her.  She jumped up after it as it flew and then came back to us, running all out and you could see in her eyes that she knew what was up now.  She became a bit more focused and followed dad’s dogs more closely as they scoured the bottom of the coulee.  They scared up a few pheasant here and there and Bob and Dad got a few shots off with no luck.

Coulee.jpg
Looking back down the coulee

On our way back down, we went through a hailed-out barley field and Dad scared up a coyote and a few more hens and Bob tried another shot at a rooster.  But we didn’t actually take any down in that field.

Stubble Field.jpg

We crossed the road to another stubble field that edged a small ravine and we came across quite a few more birds, but dad’s dogs were hunting a bit too far out and we weren’t able to get a shot.  I was especially frustrated when I decided to move on and catch up to the guys and as I walked away the dogs got up two roosters out of the ravine where I had been standing.

Dad with Dogs.jpg

Day was drawing to a close and we decided to drive down and check out one more spot when dad noticed some roosters in the field off the road.  Bob hopped out and intended to let me try to get around where I could try a shot too but the birds started to take off and we didn’t get a chance at them.  We drove just a bit further and there was another rooster.  I hopped out and he flew up right in front of me.  I pumped my gun, settled it into my shoulder, squeezed the trigger… and nothing.  I left my safety on.  ARG!!!

Well, after that we saw a bunch of pheasant head across the stubble field and down towards the ravine in a different area.  We still had 40 minutes of hunting time left as you can hunt 30 minutes after sunset so we set off after them.  As we came up to the edge we saw them all coast down into the bottom.  We had left the dogs because we had hoped to sneak up on them a little bit so we stood looking down the steep hill as they disappeared into the long grass and brush in the bottom.  Then we all started to meander down the slope.   Pheasant flew up here and there and dad shot two roosters.  I didn’t get a shot and Bob tried for a couple.

Dad.jpg

So, all in all, it wasn’t entirely successful but man was it fun.  I loved tromping around with the dogs and the thrill of watching those beautiful birds fly up and hearing the whir of their wings.   I can’t wait to get out again.  And this time I am sure I will remember to flip my safety off.

 

Montana Outdoors”woman” Courtney Hill

I am so excited to share this story with you today!  Courtney has a great way of telling her story and it’s an exciting hunt.  I’ll turn you over to Courtney to hear what happens.

I grew up rifle hunting with my dad and my brother; I give my dad all the credit for courtney-with-antler-pack-eintroducing me to hunting and instilling in me a passion for being outdoors and soaking up God’s creation. I’m so grateful that he didn’t discount me as a daughter (hunter), and brought me along like a son. Some of my fondest memories are hunting trips with the two of them.

Another amazing man in my life, my husband, introduced me to the archery world. He spent the majority of his big game hunting carrying a bow, and if I wanted to be hunting with him I needed to pick up a new art. After one season of his hunting without me, I couldn’t handle the amazing stories—I had to try it out. I’ve been hooked ever since. There is NOTHING like a bull elk within 30, 20, even 10 yards of you, and his amazingly distinct bugle screaming in your face. I have had more close-up, pee-your-pants experiences with elk since I picked up the sport than I could ask for. It has been incredible.

September 3, 2016:

Our alarm went off at 3:30 am, opening morning. Maybe, just maybe, it was a little easier to get up this morning than other stupid-early-ones, simply because of opening morning excitement. But, we were still dragging. “You’re not gonna shoot a big bull elk laying in bed!” was always my husband’s line.

We met up with my brother, my other favorite hunting partner, and hit the road. We were teeming with excitement to see what the public land we had our eye on held for us this year. We had done our homework, and scouted plenty. Things seemed pretty promising, but once hunting season starts there are no promises. We have had incredible years out there, as well as flops.

We parked quite a distance from our goal coulee, checked our wind, and walked across a field. While walking in, Kyle (brother) spotted 5 bulls feeding in a field beyond the draw. We quickly made a plan and split up. Toby (husband) set-up with the cow decoy on one side of the coulee, and Kyle and I headed down in and up the other side. We split up, both hoping to intercept the bulls as they grazed out of the field. As I slowly side-hilled around a corner, I could hear 2 bulls fighting. It sounded super close, so I set up near a tree that was right off of an elk highway. My heart began to pump and I started to get nervous, as I felt the adrenaline rush through my body. I have had plenty of close encounters with bull elk, and my body involuntarily remembered and began to shake. I thought, “Am I going to be able to hold still enough to shoot?”

Within a minute of standing there, I heard something splashing through some water straight downhill from me. I looked down and spotted a spike bull, wading through the small puddle in the creek below and crossing to the other side. Soon another followed him. And another. I couldn’t believe it. Now what do I do? Stay where I hear 2 bulls sparring, and am hoping they will come? Or get down to the water? I decided the water was obviously where they were traveling, and as quickly and quietly as I could, snuck down over a small cliff and through a carpet of noisy pinecones. The whole time, I had to be mindful of the spikes across the canyon from me, and keep trees between their eyesight and my movement. I found a great little opening, pulled up my rangefinder, and found that I was still 60 yards from a shot to the other side of the water where they were coming out. Sixty is beyond my range, so I planned to try to get down a little lower. I glanced up to check my surroundings, and another bull (5 or 6 point) had busted me. He was standing above me (on the trail I had just left) staring me down. He quickly turned around and left, as quietly as he had snuck up on me. It constantly amazes me how quietly such a large animal with 4 hooves can move through a wooded area. A little bummed, I returned to my plan to move down. I reassessed my position: I was now 40 yards from the other side, which was perfect. I started to range spots around me, when something caught my eye off to the left. Another bull was quickly moving toward the water below me. It wasn’t moments after I saw him that he walked behind some bushes/trees, and I instinctively drew my bow (I’ve made the mistake of being busted with my draw too many times). This bull didn’t walk through the water, and made the deadly choice to walk my side of it, at 19 yards. As he crept into the open area in front of me, I let my arrow fly. He took off like a dart, and I immediately started cow calling with my diaphragm call. It was thick enough off to my right that I had no clue that he had stopped and looked toward the sound of my calling (Toby told me later), and then continued to move on. I was pumped, and nervous. I knew my shot was good, and I subconsciously heard the arrow hit; but your mind does funny things when adrenaline is pumping and you are by yourself. Where did I hit him? Did I hit him? I stood for a few minutes, and then headed uphill to meet up with Kyle.

He had had his own circus with bulls up above me, and thought at the sound of my wild calling that he had busted everything out. He was bummed. I was pumped. I quietly shared my tentative excitement. We devised a plan to let my bull be for a bit, and to meet up with Tob and head back to the truck.

Once there, we optimistically grabbed the pack frames and loaded up for a pack-out-trip. with-bull-eWe decided to walk the draw from the east end of the public land, in hopes that if we jumped him he wouldn’t run off “huntable” land. I took the middle, and Kyle and Tob took either side of me as we worked the draw up toward the spot where I had shot. About 150 yards from where my arrow flew, I heard a cow call being used like a kazoo; Tob had spotted my bull, who was down and done-for. What a relief! I immediately gave the Lord thanks, and jumped in the air like a little girl. Last year, I was devastated after an amazing hunt and good shot left us tracking a bull for a night and a day. We never recovered him. Unless youguys-with-packs-e have had that experience, you don’t even know how close to hanging up your bow it leaves you. So, my relief and excitement were beyond explanation! My first bull with a bow! We celebrated, went back to the spot where I shot him, and tried to “track him” back to where he was laying for fun. Using the gutless method, we cut out as much meat as we could and loaded up the pack frames. Thank goodness for those two men. It wasn’t mountain hunting, but it still wasn’t easy. We hiked up the cliffs of the draw (which was not fun), and then about 1 mile out to the truck; the guys both had about 100 lbs on their back, and I was sucking wind and proud with my antlers and all the non-quartered meat.

Once again, archery hunting did not disappoint. But this time, I have something in my freezer to prove the up-close excitement and experience.

~Courtney Hill

Billings, MT

courtney-with-bull-e

Photo Credit: Courtney Hill

Interview with Jaeger Rusher of JDR Specialty Tackle & Giveaway

Hey guys!  I am excited to share with you an interview we did with Jaeger Rusher from JDR Specialty Tackle.  We had a lot of success using his lures this year, especially on our Fort Peck trips.

We first heard about these lures because Bob and Jaeger are cousins.  And maybe initially we used the lures because we wanted to support family, but once we used them, we were super impressed and have continued to use them because of them being a superior product.  And, in case you want to try them out, Jaeger has arranged a giveaway for us!  Read through to the end to find out how to enter.

Here’s the interview:

MToutdoorsman: Can you tell us a little about your history with fishing?  Did you start as a kid?  What kindled your passion for fishing?
Jaeger: My history with fishing started out when I was little, around 5 years old, and my father took my brother and I fishing at the causeway [Helena, MT] as well as traveling up into York and fishing Beaver Creek and catching Rainbow Trout with my Nana June. I have been fishing as long as I remember.  I do know that through my high school and early college years I took a break from fishing and maybe only fished up to 10 times a year.
My passion for fishing is not just for catching trophy fish, but catching more fish every time I am out. Again this is “fishing” not “catching” so some days no matter how great of a fisherman you are, the fish just don’t bite!
I prefer fishing over hunting because you cannot see the fish below the surface so it’s always a surprise to see what you reel in. Where as hunting,  you see what’s on the other end of your barrel and scope.
MToutdoorsman: Do you have a favorite fish to catch?  What would be your lure of choice for this fish?
Jaeger: My favorite fish to catch is the Northern Pike, as I love catching these toothy Rob Northernpredators that have the most unique colors and texture for fish. The way a northern pike hits is a true feeling of fight, and when they run and make you play them out, it is always an excitement.
My lure of choice for catching Northern Pike would be using our Spoons, as they have been tested on numerous bodies of water throughout multiple countries and have a proven track record to withstand the 400 plus teeth a pike wants to use on the lure.
MToutdoorsman: What made you want to create a better lure and how did you come up with the idea to coat the lures in the Iron Hide Finish?
Jaeger:The whole iron hide finish and creating a better lure came to me when I pulled over to go fish Lake Helena one late evening and see what I could pull up using a cheap spIMG_20160704_201615oon I bought on closeout at a local sporting goods store. I noticed that, not even 6 casts in, the sticker was already flaking off.  I was a little upset for a $4.00 product. I caught some walleye that night, however, within two hours the spoon was all the way down to its bare metal.
I came up with the idea for the coating and Iron Hide finish through years of studying automotive paint and painting metals and guns.
I really believe in giving people the best product and I myself am never satisfied with a job I have done unless it’s my absolute best. I wanted to create a finish that can withstand the teeth of musky and pike and withstand the rocky shore lines and bottom depths of the lakes and rivers where all other products chip away after just a couple uses.
MToutdoorsman: It seems like most of the people who are part of JDR Specialty Tackle are friends and family, is that the case and can you tell us more about that?
Jaeger: Most people who are part of JDR Specialty Tackle are friends and family. The reason for this is that I wanted to build a family business because I wanted to be able to give back to my family as they always helped me along the way. Our friends really helped out during our initial launch with Cabela’s as we had super late nights, working, packaging and doing seminars.  Without my family and friends I would not be who I am today. They all have been a huge part of my life and are always there willing to help out any way possible.

MToutdoorsman: What has been your favorite part of starting the JDR Specialty Tackle business?  What was your biggest struggle?

Trout on LureJaeger:My favorite part of starting JDR Specialty Tackle was creating or inventing a product that has never been created before. My main goal was to create a product that can help more people catch more fish. To also have the Made in Montana stamp of seal was also part of being my favorite!

The biggest struggle was not even making sure we could keep up with the monster orders, but rather, helping people make a transition from their favorite stick or jerk bait, and trying our spoons and other products.  People assume you don’t catch walleye and trout on spoons, but instead will only catch Northern Pike. That’s why we keep challenging sportsmen to give our products a try.

 

MToutdoorsman:What do you do when you aren’t fishing?

Jaeger: If I am not fishing, I am thinking about fishing! I really go full force with the innovating and creating of new products, which is truly my passion. So when not on the water I am designing new patterns or working on our clothing line piece by piece.

MToutdoorsman:Finally, what’s your top fishing trip?

Jaeger: My favorite  fishing trip is Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan Canada. This is a must add to anyone for their bucket list, and if a person could only fish one lake in their life, this would be the lake to do this at. The fishery up there is phenomenal and the respect they have to preserve their trophy fishery is unlike no other.

Canada

 Photo Credits: Jaeger Rusher

MToutdoorsman: Where can people find JDR Specialty Tackle Products?

Check out the sale going on at JDR Specialty Tackle or you can CLICK HERE to see if there is an authorized dealer near you!

Well, we just want to thank Jaeger from JDR Specialty Tackle for visiting with us  and agreeing to do this giveaway!  You can enter to win a JDR Specialty Tackle cap and Jaeger will throw in some spoons to get you started! Enter using the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

The Giveaway!

The Giveaway has ended! The winner was Carrie E. Thank you to all who entered.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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Learn to Hunt Series: I run now because…

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This article is the third in the Learn to Hunt series.

I wanted to talk a little about how I am preparing for hunting season, and life in general, as far as fitness goes.  I started running again in March and I am currently running about 3 1/2 miles three times a week.  Bob and I started eating Paleo, although we still include some dairy.  Basically we have cut out grains (most carbs) and sugar. We do still get to eat treats, we just use Stevia instead of sugar.

Sometimes when I don’t want to get up and go out, or I am having a tough day, it helps me to remind myself why I am out there.  I would encourage you to make a list of why you make the choices you do (or are going to start) to have a healthy lifestyle.  So this is my “I run now…” list.  It’s why I am making the choices I am today because I know it has an impact on tomorrow.

  1. I run now because I don’t want to get left in the dust during hunting season.  The people I will be hunting with are all guys and are all taller than me so I am at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to covering ground.   In fact in our local circles, it is well known that my dad could out walk a mountain goat when it comes to being in the mountains!  He spends most of his days outside and has a physically demanding job, plus a never quit mentality and it all equals out to him being able to really get going on rough terrain.
  2. I run now because not quitting becomes a habit.  Running (or any consistent physical challenge) really bleeds over into every part of my life.  I not only have more energy and strength, but often I find myself thinking “If I can push through when running is hard, I know I can do ____.”  I am not only training my body, but I am training myself mentally to not say quit.
  3. I run now because I am still working on making good food choices, especially at social events.  I find that when I am consistently running, I don’t want to waste my hard work on eating badly, so it actually gives me pause on some occasions and also helps me put on the brakes when I otherwise might binge on crappy food.  But, there are times when we go to an event and I end up eating dessert or eating some carb-ridden food.  In those cases, I run to help my body use the fats that it had to store because I was overwhelming it with sugars.
  4. I run now because it gives me self-confidence.  Being overweight is an odd situation.  Nobody likes being that way, but it’s a place that we are putting ourselves into. I think that’s why it makes you feel like you want to hide.  It sometimes feels like you are wearing a billboard that says you can’t figure life out, or that you are weak.  But when I started running and eating Paleo, I felt like I finally had control of the state of my health.  I think it gives you a feeling of being strong and able.  Before I started running, I remember talking with Bob and wondering if some people just weren’t meant to run.  Maybe I couldn’t even do it.  And initially it sort of felt like that.  But now it’s so neat to know that I really can do something like this if I keep at it.  Who knows what else I can do?!

Not quitting becomes a habit.jpg

Now, there is even more to this article.  It gets a little long, but I thought I would tack this on here in case you wanted to hear more about what I have done and what I am still working on in my journey to health. I would love to answer any questions or hear any suggestions you might have as well.  So, carry on if you so choose…

 

Katrina’s Story

I remember from a very young age just feeling cumbersome.  I always had in my head that I was slower and less agile than everyone else. I was also very shy and so intimidated by the fact that I might fail and draw attention to myself that I very rarely had the courage to try athletic feats in sight of anyone.  In grade-school, when we had to run the mile, I refused to run and walked the whole time.  Not because I couldn’t, but because I was too embarrassed to run.  Looking back on pictures, I wasn’t even an overweight child.  I just couldn’t break out of that shell.  I did spend a lot of time outdoors riding my horse, working at the barn or going on walks, so I was fairly healthy.

Then high school hit and I got a job at an old-fashioned drive-thru restaurant.  That was the beginning of my significant weight gain.  We were allowed to have burgers and fries, ice-cream and soda… And so I did.  Especially the soda.  I still rode my horse often and liked being outside, but those activities couldn’t compete with the food I was eating.

After high school I began working as a veterinary technician and was on my feet all the time, plus I would go team roping with some family friends quite often and my diet improved some.  I wasn’t doing too bad, but some of the weight gain stuck with me.

Eventually I met Bob and once we got married we moved into town where he was going to college.  I lost my outlet of going riding and I remember there being a lot of pizza!  By this time I had gone from being 5’5″  and 155 lbs to being around 175 lbs within 3 yrs.  After another 3 years we began having children and I slowly continued to gain weight.  Which leads me to where I am today.  When I weighed myself in January of 2016 I was at my highest, 196 lbs.

Changes

Last year I started running using the C25k app.  It slowly builds up the amount of running you do each week until you are able to run a 5k.  I used the app for a couple of months but then stopped. I had gone on a 13 mile hike and let myself “rest” for a few days too long and then just didn’t get back into my routine of running.  I made excuses and we were in the midst of moving to a new house and I just let it slide.  I loved they way I felt when I had gone running though and I had been losing a little weight.  I had also been trying to follow the Trim Healthy Mama Plan , which is a low-glycemic plan, for a couple of years and had finally started sticking with it.  I was feeling so much more energetic because of it too.  In fact, about 6 months prior to that time I had my bloodwork done at my husband’s office when they changed the insurance and my A1C was 8.4, which is diabetic level.  Because of moving to a new town I put off going to a doctor.  By the time I went, I had been running and following the plan for a few months and when they rechecked my blood work, it was entirely normal.  So for the past year I have been mainly following that eating plan. But I have not been exercising consistently and I’ve allowed way too many “treats” into my diet and so I gained back anything I had lost plus a few.

In January, the time of resolutions, Bob talked me into trying the Beach Body 21 Day Fix.  I wasn’t really sold on it, but I wanted to support him so we did it.  I had a really hard time sticking with the little food containers you use to measure your food, and I have to admit, I HATE workout videos!  Bob stuck with it longer than I did, and still uses the videos sometimes when he needs a quick workout but can’t get out.  But that wasn’t a good fit for us.

What has really turned us around now is the fact that Bob was listening to the Gritty Bowman podcast and the Scottish dude on there was talking about how he had lost 50 lbs.  Bob contacted him via Facebook to find out more and received a reply that explained that he was mostly eating Paleo and especially limiting carbs.  Bob wanted to give it a try and it closely resembles the Trim Healthy Mama plan, which I think is really the way to go, so we decided to go for it! We were finally on the same page and committed! For years and years I tried to figure out what to do, what to eat, that would help me be fit and get rid of the excess weight.  I tried really hard and was frustrated that it didn’t seem to make a difference so I would quit trying but wouldn’t quit thinking about it.  Bob and I were talking the other day though about how we wish that we had known how easy it could be years ago.  Between reading the Trim Healthy Mama book and learning more about Paleo, it has really been an eye opening experience.  For years, conventional wisdom has said that you should eat low-fat, lots of “healthy”grains and low-calorie foods.   And it turns out that all of those things are just causing your body to gain unhealthy weight.

I started running again in March and this time a friend agreed to go running with me.  She has been running off and on for years and she’s a lot taller and slimmer than I am.  It helps a lot to have the accountability and someone to push me a little bit when I would wimp out and go slow or just not go at all!  At this time I have finished the C25k app and started using the 10k app.  It’s so awesome to to know that I can ask my body to do something like that and I can do it!

That leaves me to tell you where I am now.  I have lost 16 lbs since we started eating Paleo and I began running again and I can see that my stomach, arms, and legs have slimmed down and I have put on muscle.  I feel more motivated to get out and do things and I am slowly getting more energy.

I really would love to hear what you are doing to prepare for hunting season and to gain health.  You can comment here or join the conversation on our Facebook page!