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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday Fish Count:
Bob: 2 Small Mouth Bass
Kevin: 2 Small Mouth Bass
Crystal: 1 Small Mouth Bass
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 night was gorgeous, we went out around 7pm and the water was cobalt blue with reflections of a lavender sunset to the west.
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.
We 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.
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.
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.
Bob: 1 Pike
Kevin: 1 Walleye, 1 Perch
Crystal: 1 Walleye
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
*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.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The lids fit so well, that sometimes they are difficult to remove.
*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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
What do you think? If you had the chance, would you hunt one of these critters?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
*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.
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
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.
1-2 lb Elk Steak
Salt & Pepper (or your favorite seasoning)
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…)
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.
We are excited to share this throwback hunt, from a friend of ours, with you today. It’s an exciting story and we think you will enjoy it.
By: Christopher Burns
It was a cool-crisp Saturday summer morning on September 3rd 2011, the first day of Montana bow hunting season. My friend Matthew Phillips and his brother Joel accompanied me to the Highwoods National Forest in search of elk. We had gone out a few times the season prior and had seen plenty of elk but we were never able to get close enough to get a good shot off on one. The archery bull tag for the Highwoods is a special draw elk tag for bow hunters. We got up to the spot where we would hike in at dark. First shooting light was around 6:13 am. So we wanted to be in position far before the elk started moving around for their morning feed. The first thing we did which we always do before the hike up was say a prayer for the Lord’s blessing on our day, for our safety during the hunt and, God willing, a successful hunt. The hike in was short and easy as we got into position in the pitch dark under a small patch of pine trees. As soon as the darkness started to turn a dark blue tint Matthew gave out the first bugle of the morning to see if there were any answers. The first one fell unsuccessfully without any reply. The elk talk very little in the beginning of the season before the rut starts. The cows were not chirping nor were the bulls bugling.
After a few more minutes in just the waning moments of darkness early on this cool clear morning we could still see glimpses of stars shining when Matthew let out another bugle. This time we got several replies in about two or three directions. The farthest bugle was so far up the mountain that it was hard to tell just how far away it could have been. The closest reply sounded like it could have been within 300 yards away which this early in the morning on opening day is extremely close to the bottom of the mountain and quickly forced the adrenaline through our veins. As subtle light began to illuminate the peaks of the surrounding mountain tops to bring separation between darkness of the ground and the lighter tint of the sky, we waited for shooting light to arrive. Sitting under the low hanging branches of a large pine we sat in anticipation of the chase. Around five minutes to shooting light we headed in the direction of the closest bugle. We had heard what sounded like a cow chirp responding to nearby elk.
Nearing a patch of Aspen trees, Matthew made the motion for us to trek around the aspens by just hugging the tree line. I made a quick suggestion that quite possibly changed the course of our entire day. I motioned that we cut straight through the middle of the aspens. This was a very risky move because rustling the branches or leaves through the thick of the aspen trees could very quickly and easily scare off any elk that may be close by. Matthew checked his watch and the very minute of shooting light had arrived. We slowly started making our way through the patch of aspens, which was possibly eighty to a hundred yards thick, avoiding every branch and leaf that we could. About three quarters of the way through the aspens all three of us stopped dead in our tracks because we each immediately saw the same thing. A head with a mass of antlers appeared through an opening through the aspens. It was a beautiful 6X6 bull elk and at that moment it seemed almost too perfect to be true. As it was now just after shooting light his body created a perfect silhouette through the break in the trees. Quickly following close behind him was a slightly smaller rag horn bull and two cow elk. Matthew and I both immediately nocked an arrow. I was holding my Mathews Reezen 6.5 as I could feel the adrenaline welling up within me. I intended on watching Matthew, who was about 5 yards ahead of me, draw back his bow and take a shot but he quickly turned to me and said, “I don’t have a shot.” He had no shooting lane from his vantage point and there was no time to move or reposition because the slightest move would spook the small herd and they would be gone in no time and so would our hunt.
Here was my moment, that moment that every bow hunter dreams about all year. Remembering back, it seems to have happened in slow motion from this point. With my bow nocked with an arrow I made a range calculation instantaneously in my head that the bull could only be a mere 40 yards away. I had been practicing for this scenario the whole year in the off season. In moments like this sometimes there simply is no time to take a range measurement because if you even stop to take that moment to make the slightest movement then that window of time to take the shot may just as quickly be gone. I drew back the bow and placed the 40 yard pin of my sight in the vitals area just behind the front shoulder of the bull. By this time the bull was peering directly at us with his body perfectly broadside with his left side toward me through the opening of the trees. He looked majestic with his antlers broad and tall which were beautiful beaming brown towers that made him have such an appearance of power and grace. This was the perfect scenario…opening day, opening light, with a 6×6 bull elk in my sights 40 yards away. What an amazing thrill and pleasure it is to have the opportunity to be this close to such a beautiful, yet powerful, creature. When all seemed perfectly silent and still, I released the arrow on its flight. Instantaneously the bull bucked his fore body upward thrusting his horns straight ahead and began a full sprint to the left around and behind the aspens and eventually out of sight. We stayed still and could hear him as he ran down a wooded coulee across the stream we had trekked up and then up a wooded hillside. We could not see him but could hear his fleeing charge. There was a brief moment after I took the shot at him that Matthew could have taken a shot at the rag horn but his initial concern was tracking two bulls at once. After all it was opening day, at opening light and Matthew chose to pass on the shot.
About 30 seconds to a minute after I took the shot we heard what sounded like my bull give a gurgling attempt at a bugle from the other side of the coolly which was just on the other side of the stream that ran down the center of the coulee. We all three believed that this was the sound of blood building up in his lungs and we thought we would possibly hear him collapse in the trees at any moment. By this time the rag horn and two cows that were accompanying him had vanished out of sight around the aspens just as quickly as he had. After giving it several minutes we decided to survey the location where the arrow had impacted the broad side of the bull. I had very high confidence at this point that I got a very clean and good positioned shot on him. Upon examining the spot where he was standing there was no blood and no arrow.
After some time we walked down to the bottom of the coulee where we believed he had ran but there was no sign of him and no blood. With nothing in sight we did not want to push him any further than he had already gone so we decided to hike back to the truck for the game cart in case we did find any sign of him. After a while at the truck we set off to find some sign of where he had gone. We came upon a path in between the aspens that we were in and the creek bed. It was a small open field. After sweeping and surveying the area we finally came upon some hope. We found my blood stained arrow which was covered from G5T3 broad head tip to nock end. It was very exciting to find this and it picked my adrenaline back up. From the spot of the arrow drop we discovered that the blood trail began. We followed the faint blood trail up the creek a ways, across the creek, into the trees, up the tree covered hillside which switched back and forth all the way up. Half way up the hillside we came upon a paper plate sized pool of curdled dark blood which was a sign that the blood was building up in his lungs. Most likely this was the spot where he had stopped to give the blood curdling last bugle after he was shot.
We followed still a faint blood trail up the rest of the way, across a small clearing, into another thick tree line which was just the beginning of the thick of the forest. We followed the trail for hours and at some points we were even on our hands and knees looking for even the faintest sign of blood. By now Matthew’s oldest brother Jeff had joined us in the search. At times even finding a pin head sized blood spot kept us going to the next blood spot. After over eight hours of searching and tracking for the bull that I thought I was going to harvest, hope started to fade to a sickening feeling of defeat. The thought that I had lost this bull was overwhelming and frustrating. The perfect and ideal opening day hunt had turned into a nightmare. The last sign that we had of him was high on the mountain-side. In the thick of the trees it appeared that he had laid down and as the blood pooled underneath him it may just have been enough to clot the wound and enable him to begin healing. It was now evident that his lungs had gone completely unscathed. He was gone.
I went home that night frustrated and disappointed. Yet, I was absolutely amazed at the survivability of this animal. I had just shot an arrow completely through the body of this massive bull elk in what I thought at the time was a vital area shot and yet he had survived. Questions and doubt were haunting me and I had trouble sleeping for the next several nights. I have always touted my belief in a good, clean, ethical kill when hunting. The thought that I would merely injure an animal that I was hunting and not be able to harvest it is a nightmare because of those hunting morals that I hold true to. There was no doubt that my arrow had gone completely through his body because it was blood soaked from tip to tip. How could anything survive that? What incredible creatures elk are. If anything, this experience gave me much more of a respect for these animals.
Five days later on Thursday, 8 September, Matthew and I decided to go out to our same spot for an afternoon hunt after work. We made it out to the woods at just after 5:00 p.m. which gave us just about 3 hours for the hunt. After hiking up a ridgeline halfway to the peak of the mountain top that we were shooting for we stopped to scout the open clearings. While we were glassing the peak top clearings Matthew immediately spotted a small herd in a clearing where we had spotted them while scouting before the season opener. We were in such a rush to get up to this point we never really established who would be taking the shot if we got within range. By this point we both had an opportunity to take a shot at an elk this season. We decided to take a democratic approach; we played paper, scissors, rock. I won. So, Matthew agreed to call for me if we could get in on the herd. By this point we had only about one and a half to two hours of shooting light. We decided the only option was to sprint to the top. We took off. It was like the scene at the end of Last of the Mohicans when they were charging up the mountain side. We had no choice but to push hard. We were losing light by the minute.
As we approached the clearing that was through the tree line where we saw the herd we heard a bugle call out and we could tell it was somewhere within 150 to 200 yards away. Chills ran down my spine. Matthew explained that he would stay at least 80 yards behind me before starting to call to the herd. We spotted movement through the trees. Matthew got into position while I positioned myself further up in the trees edge by the clearing. I now was in full stalk mode. I knew that every movement, sound and breath I made was crucial. Matt gave out a few cow calls. A bull started barking back. Not giving a full out bugle but instead small short barks. Yet, they were loud powerful barks that emanated through the trees. As I quietly hunkered down inside the tree line I finally spotted the bull that was calling back to Matt. He was a nice mature looking bull. There was a patch of trees that the bull was hugging. This patch of trees was only a few hundred yards from the top edge of the mountain ridge in a beautiful clearing cradled in the midst of the thick forest pines. I could just make out his figure and then he walked out from behind the trees and stopped to look in our direction. I made no movement yet because he was out in the open and still about 100 yards away. Matthew did an amazing job of keeping this bull’s attention and curiosity up. It was as if I was listening to a conversation between a bull elk and a cow elk. Bothered by the call he walked into the thick forest tree line. Now out of the bull’s line of site I took this opportunity to advance my position. I gained a few more yards. Matthew continued his talking back and forth with this bull. I will never forget the resonating sound of the bark that the bull would let out. Being so close to a bull elk and hearing the sounds that they give off truly sends chills down the back of my neck making every hair stand on edge. There is no other sound like it.
The daylight was quickly fading, as was my window of opportunity. I watched as the bull walked back behind the small patch of trees. At about 80 yards away, I knew that I had no choice but to try to get within shooting range if I was going to get a shot at this bull. With my Reezen nocked with an arrow I began to slowly creep up the steep incline toward this small group of trees. Moving slowly up, my thighs were burning; not just from the hike up but also from slowly creeping up at a snail’s pace trying not to spook this bull. Adrenaline was keeping me going as I continued to stalk forward. I approached the edge of this group of trees and the bull was staring in my direction. I finally got right up behind and against a tree on the edge. The bull jerked around to the right in a short charge as if he was about to run away but he stopped. He was curious and did not know what I was. He turned back to the left with his left side facing me. All I was waiting for was for him to walk a few yards to the left and I would have a clear broad-side shot through the trees. He began to walk to the left as if he was going to head into the thick forest tree line and into cover. As he began to take his first steps to the left I drew back on my bow. Light was fading and I knew it was almost last light. If not for the fiber optic pins on my sight I would have had trouble sighting in on him. After taking a few steps he curiously stopped and looked directly at me. He was majestic, just like the bull I faced five days before. It was a perfect opportunity, as if the Lord was giving me a second chance at success in one week. Just as before, I had ranged him in my head. I put him at 60 yards. He was now perfectly broad side and looking at me. With my 60 yard pin on the same spot as before I relaxed, took a breath and let the arrow fly. It felt like minutes before the arrow reached him, the moment that took only seconds felt like forever.
The arrow penetrated his side, he immediately charged to the left and into the thick tree line of the forest. After seeing him run into the tree line about 80 yards away all I could do now was listen. I heard him stop, followed by a short pause. Next, I heard branches rustling, crashing and then silence. I knew that I had just shot and taken down a beautiful bull elk. Matt was still down the hill. I wanted to yell for excitement at the top of my lungs but I composed myself. I called out to Matt and said, “Matt, I got him! He’s down. I got him!” Matthew later told me that at that moment when I called out to him he looked down at his watch and it was 8:12 p.m., the last minute of shooting light. I shot a bull at the bottom of the mountain on opening day, just after first light and lost him. Five days later I shot a bull at the top of the mountain at last light and this time I got him. We walked into the thick tree line and found my bull with his 6X6 rack up against a tree.
The most amazing part of the story is what we discovered next. While field dressing the bull we pulled out the front half of my arrow that had broken off inside him during his fall which penetrated his lungs and brought him down. Less than two inches from my arrows entry point, in his left side, was another entry wound just an inch outside of the lungs. The other wound was recent but older by only a few days. There was an exit wound on his right side that clearly was the exit wound from the older entry wound on his left side. This was the same bull that I had shot five days prior on the same mountain. I shot him twice on the left side but only the first shot from five days prior had an exit wound on the right side. Not only did the Lord give me a second chance at success, he gave me a second chance at the same bull that I had shot just days earlier. I was exuberant with joy. I would not have wanted it any other way. What a blessing this was. This truly was a hunt of a lifetime. This is one I will never forget and maybe never surpass. This was my first bull to ever harvest and what a special one to start off with. It took Matt and I all night to drag him out of the woods quartered with our friends Dale Langendorff and Adam Reathaford. I will always be grateful for Matthew’s help calling in that bull and sharing that experience with me. What a great hunt.
Experiencing the outdoors with family and friends in one of God's greatest places!