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The Wolf That Got Away

Canis lupus

Canada supports the second largest gray wolf population in the world, after Russia. Wolf habitat is diverse in this large country where, historically, wolves ranged in most areas. Currently, wolves in Canada occupy approximately 90 percent of their historic range. The 10 percent of Canada without wolves is primarily near the southern border, except near Lake Superior where wolves still live.

This is the second half of the combo hunt.  I had already harvested the moose in short order and now it was the wolf hunt.  I was teamed up with a gentleman and his wife and their goal was a mule deer.  The area abounds with mule deer and the biggest whitetail deer I have ever seen.  The deer hunter was after a trophy.  The plan was for me to hunt moose early, and then ride along with the deer hunter while we looked for deer.  Later in the day toward evening, we would head back into the scrub, wooded areas, canola fields and areas where the oil people had equipment.  Then it was moose time.  This was the plan until I bagged a moose.  Then, I would be hunting wolf the rest of the time. 

On the third morning I bagged my moose and so from now on, it would be wolf time. 

Not a big moose, but the smaller ones have not had years of testosterone running through their veins.  We have already had some, and it is outstanding.  Absolutely no game taste to it at all.  Almost like eating premium beef.

By the time we got him dressed out and taken to the processor, the day was over.  Now, I would have 4 days of wolf hunting.  The outfitter had an extra day at the end of my time frame, so he gave it to me and now there were 5 days to get the job done. 

This is a gorgeous picture as it was just getting light.  No wind, and the bait site was straight ahead.  This picture is off to my left.

I had a light breeze in my face and straight away about 150 yards was the bait site.  Whenever there are ravens and magpies, it is a safety signal for the wolves and as they sneak along in the timber, they will come out to eat. 

Looking straight ahead.  I like the fog because the wolves are sight feeders first and they will not see that well, just like me.  The bait site is located just to the left of the two washcloths on the sill.  That is where I lay my equipment to get the job done.

Day one ended and the sky cleared.  Nothing came through to nibble at the bait and so it is back to the box tomorrow.

This is looking at the front of the box.  I got out of the box to take a whiz and got two pics.

This is looking from the backside where I crawl into the box.  The chair is an office chair and I can raise and lower it to get the the right height.  Notice the propane heater off to the right and my bag in the front.  It contains extra ammo, lunch, hand warmers and extra gloves plus camera.

To avoid getting out of the stand, I drink NO coffee in the morning and very little water while in the box.  If I get a little thirsty, only a sip of water and then guzzle the rest of the bottle when back to the vehicle to pick me up. 

After another day, we changed locations as the weather had shifted. We walked up a road that the oil people had made.  Halfway down the road was a small lake that was frozen over, but the guide had achieved results at this location.  He had a big bait pile about 100 yards from the stand.

Looking over my stick, you can see the road and the bait pile was only a few yards down the road.  This would be easy pickings if a wolf came for a snack. 

At the bait site.  The guide had brought some more bait to put down and bones were scattered everywhere.  The bait comes from a processor that packages meat for the hunters and consists of bones and trimmings not packaged

I hunted two different locations, but did not get a shot.  I did have a couple of coyotes come to dine but did not see a wolf.

When we got back to the vehicle, there was a fresh wolf track. 

Four days in the box and while the temps were moderate, 0-10 degrees F, I could feel the iron in my blood was turning to lead in my backside.

When I got back to the lodge, I told my guide and the outfitter I was folding my tent.  They both said, ” Stick it out one more day.  We will sleep a little later in the morning and then you can head back to Iowa the next day.”   I have to confess, I was not only physically tired, but mentally tired.  With four big coolers in the back of the truck, there was 2200 miles of driving to do.  However, I have a moose.

This is my guide.  He got the big deer he wanted after I left.

Now below is a really sad story.  One of the guides went out to the stand where I sat for three days and he scored.   Fellow hunters give it that extra push regardless of how it hurts and if they have the time. 

If I had only taken one more day.

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck,  Hank

In the words of Napoleon “All things come to he has patience.”

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Alberta Moose Hunt

Beautiful Alberta

With my vaccination record and a Covid test prior to reaching the border, it was off to the Spirit River area in Alberta Canada.  Over 2,200 miles one way, it took a mere three days of driving.  The drive was enjoyable and seeing all the country we rarely hear about added pleasant memories to the trip.  Crossing the border at Sweetgrass/Coutts got me into Canada.  At the kiosk on first entry, my passport, proof of at least two vaccinations for Covid, and the completed test for the virus at least 72 hours before crossing was required.  Then they asked me where I was going, what I was going to do, and when I would arrive there. 

Next step was to go into the administration building where my contract with the outfitter was examined and my paperwork to bring a firearm into Canada was examined.  The final step was to pay my fee to bring in the firearm and off I went.  Total time was about 30 minutes. 

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Japanese Ambience Festival

Display in the Gardens with a Shinto Shrine on top.

For an entire weekend in October, Lauritzen  Gardens grounds was alive with merriment as guests celebrated the joys of autumn and experience the Japanese culture first-hand.   My wife is a member and we go to the gardens whenever there is a program.  This one was special since several years ago we spent three weeks in Japan on a tour. 

The Omaha Sister Cities Association helps host the Autumn and Japanese Ambience Festival, with a variety of activities to celebrate the Japanese culture. Japanese Ambience also celebrates the anniversary of the gift of the Japanese Sunpu Castle Gate at Lauritzen Gardens by Shizuoka, Japan, Omaha’s first Sister City.

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Pam and I after a gator harvest.

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Beautiful Alberta With my vaccination record and a Covid test prior to reaching the border, it was off to the Spirit River area in Alberta Canada.  Over 2,200 miles one way, it took a mere three days of driving.  The drive was enjoyable and seeing all the country we rarely hear about added pleasant memories to the trip.  Crossing the border at Sweetgrass/Coutts got me into Canada.  At the kiosk on first entry, my passport, proof of at least two vaccinations for Covid, and the completed test for the virus at least 72 hours before crossing was required.  Then they asked me where I was going, what I was going to do, and when I would arrive there.  Next step was to go into the administration building where my contract with the outfitter was examined and my paperwork to bring a firearm into Canada was examined.  The final step was to pay my fee to bring in the firearm and off I went.  Total time was about 30 minutes.  After arriving into Canada, the first thing I noticed was  a total absence of snow.  In fact the weather was in the 50s during the day and never below freezing at night.  This was the weather patterns almost to Spirit River and the lodge.  Then things changed and there was a couple of inches on the ground.  The weather was cool to cold, foggy, with snow showers.  Great weather for hunting big game. Now, since it is moose and wolf that would be hunted, how would this weather pattern affect the hunting for these animals?  The outfitter believed that the moose would spend more time in the fields and less in the woods.  The wolf would spend more time on the bait since it would not be frozen solid.  This proved to be true. You have to look a little but there are two beauties staring at us through the willows.  One morning we counted 25 cow moose without seeing a bull.  This is exciting. I was sharing my guide with a deer hunter from Texas.  That was a long drive for him.  His goal was to harvest a trophy mule deer, so the morning and evening would be split up. In the morning we would focus on moose in the fields and then from late morning, the focus would be on deer.  I would go to the wolf blind(s) during the rest of the day.   Sometimes I would be picked up and we focused on moose.  On the third day in the early morning, the guide spotted a really big cow, and there was a nice size bull with her.  We moved down the road we were on and then walked back to a road used by the oil companies and slowly walked back to the edge of the timber where they were hiding.  At about 75 yards they crossed the road in front of us but did not spook.  They just walked away briskly.  Here was where an experienced guide came into play.  He gave some cow calls with his mouth and that slowed them both down.  We moved up closer. The moose did not spook yet.  They trotted briskly away from us and the guide gave another cow call.  This caused both of them to stop and turn back toward us.  The bull was straight in front of me with his rear end pointing directly toward us.  The cow was just off to his left.  To the right of the bull was heavy timber and they were following the timber line as they walked along.  The guide whispered to me, "Can you make this shot?"  And then he added, "Don't hit the cow."  The guide let loose with another cow call and they stopped again.  They stopped and the bull looked back at us and gave a great position for a good shot.  Friends have asked what was the distance?  We did not know but estimated it was over 150 yards, but not over 200.  We were looking at two animals on the move and wanted the bull who was in the front, just to stop and turn a little to his right. There was so much brush and timber, I screwed the power down to 4 on the scope.  I generally leave it at 7, but I wanted a broader field of view and to know where the cow was so that she did not step into a shot. As he looked back, I focused, held my breath, and squeezed.  Just at the squeeze point, the bull turned his head back to looking straight ahead.  The round went down his right side and into the right shoulder.  He turned hard to his right with a couple of steps, then went down.  The cow crossed right behind him
Display in the Gardens with a Shinto Shrine on top. For an entire weekend in October, Lauritzen  Gardens grounds was alive with merriment as guests celebrated the joys of autumn and experience the Japanese culture first-hand.   My wife is a member and we go to the gardens whenever there is a program.  This one was special since several years ago we spent three weeks in Japan on a tour.  The Omaha Sister Cities Association helps host the Autumn and Japanese Ambience Festival, with a variety of activities to celebrate the Japanese culture. Japanese Ambience also celebrates the anniversary of the gift of the Japanese Sunpu Castle Gate at Lauritzen Gardens by Shizuoka, Japan, Omaha's first Sister City. The first display we viewed was the Bonsai presentation by the Nebraska Bonsai Society.  While in Japan we saw many examples of Bonsai and the Japanese "bonsai" only  produces small trees that mimic the shape of real life trees. Outstanding displays of exquisite art work. A demonstration of Samurai warriors in traditional dress presenting Japanese swordsmanship techniques. This was a fascinating presentation and the kids in the audience seemed to enjoy it the most. We then toured the gardens just looking at the beautiful displays of flowers and the leaves in the trees starting their fall turn.  The Gardens has had a project dedicated to Japan that is still under construction, however the entrance looks complete. We hope that by next fall the display will be completed. Now this bad boy does not belong in this series of pictures, but I had to put him in the series.  I leave in 4 days for N.W. Alberta, Canada for a moose and Canadian Grey Wolf hunt.  I have harvested moose before, but twice have missed the wolf. This is the third attempt and also the final.  Wolves are one of nature's ultimate predators.  They are very smart and difficult to hunt.  If I score, I will have a full body mount and set him out in the back yard on really nice days.  We live on a golf course and that should take care of the interlopers. My duck hunting has been pathetic.  Generally in mid to late October we get Gadwall, and Widgeon opportunities.  We also have a lot of teal in early October, but that was limited too.  Anyway, they fly too fast for me in my old age. Next time you hear from me, I should have a meat moose and a wolf. Click on the book and buy from Amazon. Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank                                                                  
  The Aspen trees are in full bloom with the coming of fall. It is here.  The season hunters have all been waiting for, "Fall."  It arrived September 22nd, and one of the first signs is the turning of the sumac.  Fishing is really picking up now and will be good through October, if you can put up with the cool to cold weather and the windy conditions that go with it.  I have one friend that fished South Dakota and had outstanding catches of walleye and perch. We who live in the northern hemisphere have probably all noticed longer days and shorter nights in the summer and the opposite in winter. This phenomenon occurs because the Earth's axis is not straight up and down at a 90 degree angle, but it is instead tilted a bit. Therefore, as the planet orbits the sun every 365 days, sometimes the northern hemisphere is closer to the sun (summer) while sometimes it is farther away (winter). And some people are feeling gloomier. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the seasonal depression that affects some of the population generally during the winter months.  But alas, my fellow hunters, it is not for us because our souls become inflamed with the opportunity to perform the task of being a hunter/gatherer.  Our first stop is the sporting goods store to spend money on equipment.  You cannot have enough gear, and if being questioned, don't admit to anything. A July sunrise as I look across the lake.  Notice the reddish color along the top of the picture.  This is due to the smoke and haze from the fires on the western part of the country. As the sun continues it's rise the effect of the sky conditions become more pronounced.  We also were getting smoke from the fires north of the border.  This adds to the color and reddish look of the rising sun. September first and the haze and smoke are gone and the sunrise is still as brilliant as ever.  The sky now has a totally different background.  Shooting pictures without a filter works well through the trees or on the tree line. I passed on a first class pheasant hunt with friends in South Dakota because I have a moose hunt in Alberta.  This January I contacted Mike's Outfitting in Spirit River, Alberta to schedule for next year, 2022, and requested if there was an opening for 2021, I would like to take a look.  Lo and behold, in March Mike called me and said he had a spot in November and would I be interested.  I am not getting any younger, and so answered in the positive.  At that time, the border was closed and I put my money down and secured the slot with the idea that surely the border would open.  I would get a refund if the border did not open less a 10% admin charge, so the dice were rolled. It's a miracle and the border opened up to non essential traffic into Canada, and that is me.  I cross at Sweetgrass in Montana, and now for how to get into Canada.  It is not just showing a passport and my document for the equipment to harvest the moose, but there is a little more.  Canada requests that a person put the ArriveCAN app on your phone.  The app steps you through a series of questions and you photo the proof that you have had both Covid-19 shots.  I have had both shots plus now the booster.  Then, you must have completed a Covid test not more than 72 hours before entering into Canada, and the test must be negative.  Canada provides on a website all the information you need to figure things out and it is really simple.  Great information and I had no questions after studying it over. It is moose I am going after.  However, there is another opportunity that I have missed twice, and that is a Canadian Grey Wolf. That is the moose harvested in 2018.  My wife, Pam, was along for this trip and we had great weather.  Notice the color of the legs and the color of the animal.  In the daytime they hide in the timber in the background or along the edge and are very difficult to see.  On this trip, it will be considerably colder and there will be snow on the ground, I hope.  They come out into the Canola fields during the day to feed.  The outfitter feels this late hunting is better.  This is the other animal I am hunting on this trip.  Pam is not going along for two reasons.  One she said she will not go when the weather is 10 to 20 below zero. Two if there is two to three feet of