"The mere fair-weather hunter, who trusts entirely to the exertion of others, and does more than ride or walk about under favorable circumstances, and shoot at what somebody else shows him, is a hunter in name only. Whoever would really deserve the title must be able at a pinch to shift for himself, to grapple with the difficulties and hardships of wilderness life unaided, and not only to hunt, but at times to travel for days, whether on foot or on horseback, alone."
I'm procrastinating putting all of my gear into my backpack for my Mule Deer hunt in a couple of days. I don't have a good reason for this packing postponement. I'm truly stoked for my upcoming hunt, but I may be in slight denial of the fact that I'll be carrying who knows how much weight on my back while hiking to over 12,000 feet.
There are others in our hunting group (*ahem* Big Al) who has had their gear packed and ready for several weeks now. I know because his wife just told me tonight. Apparently he is "like a kid getting ready to go to camp." Me on the other hand.. I still have gear in my pack from my antelope hunt yesterday. My camo pants are on the laundry room floor waiting to become scent free, pockets filled with sunflower seeds.
In an effort to filibuster the impending packing movement I find myself at the computer composing my backpacking list for your enjoyment. If you are curious as to what will be loaded into my backpack, here is the list:
6 Mtn House freeze dried meals
smoked salmon pack
Dried banana chips (light and great for potassium)
scentfree shampoo (yah, I may stick my head in a stream)
small towel or washcloth
toiletpaper - tissue pack
scentfree wet wipes
some type of first aid kit
deer tag / license
sleeping bag (pillow?)
Items I'll be carrying and wearing up the mountain:
Bow / arrows / release / broadheads / blunt
shorts / short sleeve shirt
REI Trail Running Gaiters
Other items that I'll be sharing with my hubby which he'll be carrying in his pack
If you notice something missing from my list, please let me know! (However, I'm not sure if anything else will fit.)
My sweet brother bought me a gift card for a day spa in town for my birthday... I think I'll be redeeming that after this trip. My back hurts just thinking about the weight I'll be carrying. Maybe I should do a before and after weight experiment?! That might be interesting. Anyway, I can't wait for the adventure to begin. A few more days!!
If you've ever looked across an open prairie under western skies, seen a white form in the distance and then a moment later have it vanish from a seemingly flat piece of pasture, then you've experienced the phenomenon of the prairie ghost, aka antelope. It can be a frustrating thing for a hunter, but at the same time I find myself respecting this animal even more... the way they survive on an open piece of land amazes me.
There really is a perfectly good explanation for why antelope seem to be swallowed up by the tall grassland. After walking for several miles in the open pasture this weekend, I now have a better understanding for the land I normally view from the pavement. It's not flat. There are series of gullies and ditches that run through the open pasture. Even the slightest ripple in the ground can allow a form to be hidden from view, and if you learn to use these to your advantage, the chances of putting a successful stalk on an antelope will greatly increase.
During one of my hunts this past weekend, I watched a group of antelope from the distance through my binoculars. There were several dozen all lumped together. A group of white specs sleeping and grazing in the prairie below me. What was interesting was how three or four would literally take turns watching for any sign of danger. They positioned themselves with their backs to the herd - standing on lookout. (I let them be - I tried stalking a herd of antelope last year and it was impossible... way too many eyes.) I'm not sure how far an antelope can see, but I swear there were a couple of times I felt like they were looking right back at me, peering into my binoculars. Amazing!
What peeked my interest was a prairie ghost in the other direction. I was on the top of a hill planting my Montana decoy in the ground and I saw him the same time he saw me. I froze. However this ghost wouldn't disappear. I needed him to disappear so that I could find a hiding spot nearby. Instead, I was stuck behind the decoy, like a beacon on the hill. Clearly the white spot I was crouched behind had his interest. Something looked off to him.. probably the big blob behind the decoy. Ugh. After what seemed like forever, he went back to grazing and when I looked back he was gone. Vanished.
Since I didn't see my little friendly "ghost" spook off and run over a distant hill there was hope he was still in the grassland below me. So, I slowly moved away from the decoy, found a comfortable spot and waited. Upon one of my sweeps of the prairie with my binoculars, I spotted him. Sleeping amongst a small group of cows. There was a drainage just below where he was at.. the stalk was on! I made a mental note of a piece of land I needed to navigate to and worked my way through the small rolling hills. As I approached the designated spot, I could just make out the tips of his antlers. I was close.
Then I heard it. Groans. Snorts. A big black blob had spotted me and wasn't happy that I was invading his little pond and grazing spot. I had just gotten over my fear of cows; however, upset bulls are still not my cup of tea. Luckily I had made my way to the other side of the little pond and was just below my sleeping antelope. So with the bull groaning and coming my way, I decided it was now or never. My approach was a little to fast b/c as I was at about 100 yards, my buck stood up and sped away.. swallowed up by the grassland. I hate bulls.
The antelope on the prairie will have to wait for a week or two since we are preparing for our Mule deer hunt in a couple of days. I am getting really excited, but there is still a lot to do!! If I have some extra time this week, I'll post my backcountry list. I'm honestly not sure how everything is going to fit in my pack. It is going to be interesting. (Oh, and if you are reading this Big Al, I'm NOT carrying your Mountain Dew.)
I'm going to divulge one of my new favorite hunting accessories... Gators. I'm referring to the wonderful invention that goes around your ankles, keep little annoying biting insects at bay, and also prevent dirt, rocks and grime from entering your shoes / boots. These things are great!
I bought my first pair of gators last month for our 3D archery shoot. I had seen a few guys the previous year sporting them on their ankles and made a mental note that it would be a good thing to try out. Hunting out west usually means climbing around on the rock slides and rough terrain; therefore, your feet take some abuse and end up being a filthy mess by the end of the day. The few times I've worn my gators, I've found that adding this little extra protection around my ankle truly helps. My feet were not nearly as dirty and those annoying little ants and bugs that tend to crawl up to your ankle and bite the crap out of you were no longer bothering me. YAY!
I would highly recommend trying out gators for your next hunt.
Daybreak this morning marked opening day for antelope season in Colorado which means our hunting adventures for this year has officially begun! The weather on this special day greeted us with a blast of morning mist that swept across the prairie slowly releasing multitudes of tiny water droplets upon whatever lay in it's path. It was a slow soak. Like condensation building on a cold glass on a warm summer day, the fog taunted my very not waterproof pants to try and stay dry. The mist won.
I reached my waterhole around 5:30 A.M. As light began to unveil my surroundings, I settled in with hopes that a speed goat or two would come my way. A girl can hope! I've been watching a couple of bucks that visit this spot frequently over the last couple of days, so chances were good that they would make their way to within arrow's range this morning. They also seem to be hanging with a group of cows and the cows were heading my way. Have I mentioned that I don't like cows? I don't like cows. They scare me a bit. Anyway, after giving myself a pep talk that the cows will not hurt me and to lay as still as possible against the embankment I was against, my peripheral vision alerted me that there was an animal at about 40 yards. Yep - cows. So, for the next hour (maybe 1/2 hour, but felt like an hour) I spent a game of "please don't look at me" with cows. The thing about cows though.. they are curious. So, I had to stare them down at very close proximity. I never realized how much cows burp and sling snot. It was actually a bit comical. Finally after my "little" cud chewing friends meandered off, I slowly looked over the burn and realized 3 antelope were grazing not far off. However, they never made it over to my spot. It wasn't meant to be this morning.
With my mist drenched pants, I picked up my antelope decoy on the hill, bid farewell to the speed goats that had vanished somewhere into the fog and called it a morning.
As I was driving home anticipating filling my grumbling stomach with breakfast and a hot caffeinated beverage, I spotted two really nice antelope grazing toward a ravine not too far off. I knew how to get to the ravine quickly. Breakfast would have to wait... I pulled over, grabbed my bow and range finder and ran down the ravine. However, as I crested the top of the steep dirt incline, I realized that I didn't time it quite right. The goats had made their way further down than I thought. So I sat and watched as they walked along the fence line grazing away from me. I was not about to give up yet - with the goats at about 200 yards off I had to give it one more try. Now, completely soaked with the fog following every footstep I wondered if it would be possible to simply walk up to within range. I had just watched another hunter do the very same thing on a hunt captured on video, and I thought it was worth a try. As the goats took another step into the fog, I took another step forward. However, the mist swallowed them up before I could gain any ground. The mist and goats won this opening morning.
We are headed to an afternoon barbecue and hopefully will be back for an evening hunt! More to come...
I have to share this with my hunting blog community... One of my favorite sites to visit is CakeWrecks.com which is always guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. The whole idea behind the blog is to display and make fun of cakes gone wrong - horribly, hilariously wrong. Today's cakes? Deer disasters. Or as titled on today's post entry, "What the Buck" type of cakes.
So, who has an upcoming hunting kick-off party? I may have just supplied you with a deer cake idea. Huh?!
Viewing the Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming with your own eyes is something that one must experience on this side of heaven.
These mountains are absolutely breathtaking. Awesome is really the only way to describe them and that doesn't seem to do it justice. The moment of coming over the pass when the full mountain range comes into view you forget to breath for a
second... the expression "Taking your breath away" explains it well. These mountains are spectacular!
During our trip to Wyoming last month, I knew that even though it would be a quick pass through the Teton Valley we had to make the excursion on the way to Salt Lake City. We spent the afternoon taking in the views, trying to find the snake river north of town (I'll post about that story later), walking around downtown Jackson Hole, and fishing the snake river south of town (again - story will be posted later). It was just enough time to decide we have to come back and spend a whole week of fishing, hiking and exploring. A couple of hours just isn't enough time!
"Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy.."
We had intended to fish at Jackson Lake for the afternoon but didn't realize there was a $25.00 park entrance fee. We couldn't justify spending that much $ for an hour or two of fishing. This is where my husband promised to plan another trip so we could spend the entire week on the lake. Sounds good to me!
Here are some pics from downtown Jackson:
Of course, we had to take a pic under the famous elk antler arches that surround the entrance to the park downtown. The antlers are taken from the 7,500 elk that winter on the National Elk Refuge. If you are in Jackson in May, you could find the Boy Scouts selling some of these antlers downtown. And if you visit Jackson in the winter, there are sleigh rides through the elk refuge - how fun would that be?!!
Instead of just buying the local touristy t-shirts, we like to support local Fire Departments while on vacations by buying or trading FD t-shirts - makes for a great souvenir also! So, we picked up two great Jackson Hole FD t-shirts.
We also stopped in the famous Million Dollar Cowboy saloon for a quick picture (there wasn't enough time for a drink.) Check out these cool bar stools!
If you've never been to Jackson Hole, the Teton Wilderness and Yellowstone Park - Go. Seriously - Go. You won't regret it!
So, did I convince anyone to make the trip?
Has anyone else been to Jackson and love it as much as me?
Mark and Joy - want to plan a trip here next summer? There are some great fly-fishing rivers.
Albert over at the Rasch Chronicles has come up with a brilliant idea. He is on a 'yo-yo' campaign of sorts for our troops. After stumbling upon a broken abandoned yo-yo laying in the dirt over in Afghanistan, putting it back together and spending a few hours of mindless fun, he realized that there may be other soldiers that may enjoy spinning a yo-yo for a few hours.
In Albert's words he is asking us to "forward a Yo-Yo or two to me, so that I may distribute them to the young men and women that are out here sucking up dust and dodging bullets. If you have never sent anything to a deployed service member before, let me tell you that it is one of their greatest pleasures to receive a gift from the states from someone they don't know. It just makes their day!"
My brother is getting ready to deploy for a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) to Afghanistan in a couple of months. Who knows - maybe he will be a recipient of one of these Yo-Yos! ;) I know that I will be sending along a Yo-Yo or two. Will you join me?
"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells." Ps 46:4
The other weekend, I had the privilege of spending the morning wetting a line in the Arkansas river. Have I confessed that I'm a river rat? I love water - especially rivers. It had been awhile since I've put my feet on a river bank and enjoyed all that comes with it... there's the sound of rushing water cascading over rocks not fully submerged by the force of the water. Huge rocks glance from under the veil of the white water, peaking through as if to say I played a part in shaping this stream. And there's the joy of stepping in the water to experience the melted mountain snow forcing it's will by attempting to knock you off balance. The persuasion of the current invites you to give in, turn around and let it take you down stream. However, I know better to give in to this temptation not knowing what is around the corner... rapids, eddies, perils of an unknown course ahead.
Isn't that just like life sometimes? The beauty of it is that we don't know what lies around the next corner in this thing called life. The thrill of the mighty current of life sometimes causes you to "let go" and trust that the flow will take you down the intended course making you pause to realize that you are not really in control. There is something bigger at work. Something better. It's as if we are all part of the stream - each of us as one drop contributing to the whole. There is a bigger story. A larger story. And the best part is we are all asked to play a part. So, play it well beloved.
I'm sure this is where some great spiritual lesson or inspiring message could be inserted, but I'm a bit tired and the not feeling that inspired. So, take from this what you will.
Did I mention that I lost my flip flop down the river this day? Yep, I waded in to rescue a fishing lure securely stuck on a rock. When I turned around, the current almost took me but instead it only "claimed" my $1.00 Wally World special flip flop.
Happy fishing and reflecting on the rivers of life.