Idaho Elk Hunt

 

 As I sat in the lodge and looked up, it felt like he was staring at me.  The lodge has a real nice wall hanger. For some this is what an elk hunt is all about.  For us it is all about the meat.

 Last January I made plans to make, what seems to be, an annual pilgrimage to Idaho and hunt elk on a sheep ranch.  Having been there before this is gentleman hunting at its finest and at my age it is the best I can do.

We have enjoyed wild game for many years as have many of our friends.  One couple not only enjoys game, but they enjoy a homemade adult beverage made from grapes to accompany a meal of well prepared game.   They are also excellent cooks and a week before the trip, there was a familiar voice on the phone saying, “I have a case of exquisite liquid made from grapes.  It is yours for my yearly ration of elk meat.”  We can hardly wait and the time table was laid and, of course, it is contingent upon a successful hunt. 

We have made this drive before.  It starts from Council Bluffs to Rock Springs, Wyoming and is 755 miles.  With stops it is a full 12 to 13 hours.  It is very weather dependent as east of Laramie is the Sherman Hill Summit that reaches an elevation of over 8,640 feet.  We want to cross this spot in the daytime and hopefully when the sun is out.  Driving in the clouds east of Laramie is not fun and it take some time to break out, but not until you get to Laramie at an altitude of 7,220 feet.  After that it is smooth driving to Rock Springs.  

After Rock Springs it is only a mere 320 miles to the ranch in Idaho.  Now that does not seem so bad, but is almost a full days drive as you travel from Rock Springs to Jackson, Wyoming and then over Teton Mountain Pass.  Now as a flat lander, this is a challenge.  Going up is not a problem, but on the other side the road is narrow and winding going down hill.  We go so slow and pull over frequently to let the locals pass.  They all wave with one hand and a finger in the air.  It must be a form of greeting.  

The Aspens were in their glory and as I cleared the pass this view was captured.

 

The Aspens interspersed with the pines made a great pic

At the ranch, we were greeted by the same people that have worked there over the years from the cooks to the guides, the manager,  and the lodge dog.  After settling in and shooting the rifle on the range, it was dinner and plans were made for the next morning. 

The lodge is just as good looking inside as outside.
This is what Gentleman hunting is all about.
 

We all have met a person several times that we really hit it off with and this is the case with our guide.  When the reservation was made he was requested, and it was a pleasure to hunt with him again. .  His son also guides at the ranch.  

We have a lot in common.  I hurt too when I get up in the morning or when I sit too long.

 I was amazed this year at how the ranch looked.  The sage brush had really grown and this made it very hard to spot an elk.  When they are feeding on the grasses their bodies are hard to spot and you have to look for the antlers sticking up above the sagebrush.  In some cases the sagebrush was almost to my shoulder and I am 6’2″ tall.  We were hunting the first week in October and it was unseasonably warm.  The ranch is located about 75 miles southwest of Yellowstone at an elevation of about 5,000 feet.  We did not expect this kind of weather.  

Looking out across the ranch.

 

That is Pam standing in the sagebrush.  In spots it is over her head.

We drove along the ridges, then stopped and began glassing the areas below to the hill across the valleys.  Our requirement is a young boy that does not have a low slung belly or any type of sway in his back.  Also, I do not shoot big racks.  I already have a bull that scored 380, and this is big enough for me. Our guide took us over to a spot on the ranch where he had spotted some young bulls.  

You work the low country first, then move up to higher elevations.  The elk are really hard to spot in all the sagebrush.

 With the  warm weather, we felt they would be feeding and then stop around 10 to 11 a.m. to chew their cud. Elk have 4 stomachs like a cow.  Then we would have a really tough time finding an animal till in the afternoon when they started grazing again. I had spotted a couple in a group of bulls that met what we were looking for, but our guide had said no to those animals as they had a broken antler. Pam said to him, “The people in Iowa will not know the difference.”  With that in mind we continued scouting the ranch.  

This old boy was way out there and thanks to telephoto lens we got his pic.  Notice how his back has a slight sway to it and his belly is a little low slung.  Beautiful rack, but you cannot eat horns and with his age, he is a little tough.   
Here is another jewel in the crown.  He is definitely a wall hanger, but check out the belly and the back.  He has had a lot of testosterone course through his veins and arteries. 
 
After a leisurely lunch we headed back out onto the ranch.  Our guide had another place where he had seen some elk.  We scouted the area all afternoon but saw nothing.  Tomorrow was another day.  We headed out before light the second day and moved over to the area where the small group of bulls were sighted.  The grass mixed among the sagebrush plants was plentiful and we worked to find them.  

Looking the group over, Pam spotted a good looking boy off to one side.  He was about 300 yards out and we were not noticed.  Moving down hill somewhat crouching among the sagebrush plants, we got within 200 yards and had a good view.  A light breeze was in our face, and with that, we had meat to take home. 

Not a big rack, but respectable.  But, look at that nice big body.  All the guides said the same thing that he was a good choice and will eat well.

 

Ready for the skinning

The lodge recommends Matt’s Meats in St. Anthony, Idaho to process the animal and they do a great job and will work with you on cuts.  We like our burger in half pound packets and the two tenderloins divided into thirds.  We used to do roasts and steaks, but all the people we give meat to prefer the burger and so do we.  You have so much versatility from just plain burgers to casseroles and other dishes.  

Ready for the processor.  Hanging weight was 381 pounds.

 

We have harvested deer, caribou, buffalo, moose, Arkansas razorback pig, and gator.  We still like elk the best. 

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck, Hank


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Life of a Golf Course Goose

 

A sentry on duty

 We have the good or bad fortune of living on a golf course fairway. Canada geese also make the golf course their home, and they are a really exciting bird to watch beginning in the early spring and throughout the year.  I hunt waterfowl, but not the Canada goose as it would be like hunting my neighbors.  The golf course has everything the Canada Goose needs.  There is plenty of food as the fairway is composed of grass that attracts their palate.  The fairway has a large body of water along one side, and there is a sand pit.  Food to eat, water to drink and to float around on, and sand for their gizzards are all they need.  

The grasses on the golf course are very digestible and the layout of the course is very open and allows the birds protection from predators.  They can see a problem coming at a great distance. They are also somewhat protective of their territory.  There is one exception and that is the golfers.  They move off to a safe distance generally about 20 feet and continue their constant grazing as the golfers play through.

Morning on the golf course.

The property lines between the golf course and our back yards are very discernible.  We plant blue grass which is considerably darker and longer than the grass on the golf course.  Golf course grass is generally bent grass, and is shorter and a lighter color and more dense.  The geese will graze right up to the grass line separating the two properties and rarely cross over into back yards.  The other item might be that when they get close to the houses they do not have that much protective space. 

This spring we counted five families on the course each one having from 4 to 10 babies.  One family stood out as the mother sat on a nest right opposite our home along the lake.  She sat and sat with nothing happening.  Neighbors we talked with were all worried whether she had any eggs alive in the nest.  

Here she sits on her nest.  Everyone was worried about her and we were worried the golfers might disturb her.  They ignored her and played on through. 

 

That is dad out floating around.  He stayed right close to her and if a golfer got close he went toward him/her. 

Then it happened.  We got up early one morning to see how mom was doing and there they were.  Ten little puff balls running around but staying close to the parents.  Mom and dad were very attentive and kept them all together.  

The little devils were running all around and it was hard to get a picture of them all together.
 
Mom and Dad with the chicks in the low spot.
 
Mom dad and the family out for breakfast.

They grow really fast and soon we could not determine whose family we were looking at.  As they got bigger it was hard to count as they scooted around the golf course.  

That is two families out for stroll.  They walked between houses, across the street, to the pond in the next neighborhood.  Amazing!

This is a family of eight.  Not the one we initially watched.
 
Another morning on the golf course

We had five families on the golf course and as I indicated earlier family size ranged from 4 to 10 goslings.  As they grew it became harder to distinguish families when they were all on the golf course.

There is our 10.
 
They grew at an outstanding rate.  This is one of the first families. 

 

A couple of visitors showed up one morning.  We did not see them go for the geese as they come periodically to fish.

Eagles fly in from the river and perch on the roof tops waiting for a fishing opportunity.
 
That is a family and it is amazing how fast they grow then start flying.
 
Families.
 
We caught them again one morning walking between the houses down to the next pond.  A snow goose has hung out with them all spring and summer. 

We are close to the end of October and we generally have Canada geese flocked up and occupying the fairway we live on from the T box to the hole.  But not this year, but the year is not over.  

Look for my next two posts.  I just got back from an Elk hunt in Idaho and a fishing trip on Lake Francis Case in South Dakota.  Now to start duck hunting.  It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

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Goodnight!!!

The Catching Never Ends

 
Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service. 
 

Wow, Wow, and more Wow!  It just can’t get much better than this.  My guide and I hit the lake really early. With this fantastic weather, the lake would be packed, and it was a Saturday. Pam backed out and said , ” I am sleeping in in this morning, but be back by lunch.”  It is like people have been locked up so long and needed to get out and with this weather and lake conditions, it was time to go, and catch some walleye. The wind had moved southeasterly with a front about 100 miles out.  The beautiful weather was going to change and we needed to get on it before the front arrived and the conditions changed. The wind was forecast-ed to switch to the east with low clouds, mist, and rain.  Been there, done that, and it turns off.

We got to the boat ramp before anyone else got there,  and that helped a lot getting on the lake.  On the water the guide hit the pedal and off we went flying across the water to another fishing spot he knew about.

 
Looking out the back of the boat, and this is what 50 mph looks like as we sped across the water. 

 

Looking out over the bow of the boat.  This machine really flies and it does not take long to cover a lot of water.  The white box with the red handle is a box holding crawlers or as we say in Iowa, worms. Around the edge of the box is a liner for ice and that way the bait is kept cool.  

We pulled up to the first spot and began fishing.  Immediately the action started, but we were throwing them all back as we just could not catch a 15 inch fish. I had not hammered fish like this in years. The rods used were light action and were long, but it still felt like we had a really decent size fish.  I think I mentioned in the previous blog that this lake should be a really hot spot for legal fish next year.

Spot one we fished for about 30 minutes along the face of the drop off starting from the point and working along the bank.  What was really interesting was that we were so close to the edge of the bank and still fished in 10 to 12 feet of water. 
 
It was time to keep moving.  It was not for not catching fish, it was for not catching legal size to keep.  Again, the big motor was fired up and off we flew across the lake to another spot.  Decades ago, my son and I fished Canada waters with a friend from northern Minnesota.  He always said when you pick up small walleye, move, because that is all you are going to catch. 
 
 
Notice the house along the bank.  The question I asked was how can a person build a house or cabin along ground that belongs to the government by way of the Corp of Engineers.  Apparently it was built about the same time the reservoir was completed and just got grandfathered in.  The guide wants that house and if I win the lottery, I have promised I will buy it for him.  Neither one of us will lose any sleep over it. 

I have fished and hunted with a lot of guides, and I have never had one that was not good.  I have really enjoyed his company, plus harvesting a lot of  game and enjoying the outdoors. We fished really hard at this location as we  had success there before, but today it was fleeting.  We did not catch a thing.  It happens, and it is called fishing, not catching. Onward, upward, and ever forward.  There is always another spot along this wide and meandering lake.

 
This was really interesting and it was the only place where we saw this geology.  Notice the color of the water.  It is similar to the color of the rocks.  As you moved out away from the bank the water darkened up to the color of the rest of the lake.  Depth at this level was around 15 feet.  It was at this level we caught keeper fish.  I am forwarding this picture to a geologist and have him tell me about the rocks and the layers.  Interesting. 

 

We were not limited out yet, but had two more fish to go.  All of a sudden it shut off.  I have seen this happen before, but have no explanation for it.  The only thing I can think of is walleye are finicky fish and something turns them on and then turns them off.  The wind did go down and the late went flat.  I did not like that environment and neither did the guide. We moved to the east side of the lake. 
 
 
The graph and trolling motor moved us along the bank in 15 feet of water.  Then the cattle that were up on the bank came down and paid us a visit.  We caught no fish here, but as we moved by they all stood and stared at us as some waded into the water. 
 
 
We continued down the east bank.  Where the grass was standing, we finished out our limit and it was only 11 A.M.  The graph displayed 10 feet of water and we were about 10 feet from the grass line. I did not get a picture of this, but we both agreed the bait fish were hiding in the tall grass and the game fish were working that weed line.  We had a great time catching and pitching.  Some of them were bigger than what we had in the live well. 
 
Pam and I each came away with a possession limit of Missouri River Walleye.  We might come back this fall.  The best part of this trip was my wife was fishing with me again and enjoying herself.  A really great motel that was like an upscale hotel in a big city made the difference. 

 

 
I just put this picture in because it was such beautiful scenery.  Picture Lewis and Clark going up the Missouri River and seeing this rise in the land. 


 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 

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Oh Turkey Where Art Thou

Trigger more aggressive behavior from any gobbler during the spring mating season with the flextone Funky Chicken Gen II Turkey Decoy.

Three miles north of Council Bluffs, in the colorful Loess hills, is a farm that is more akin to a meat market than a farm.  Besides the landowner, I am the only person who has a key to get into the ground. Turkey and deer abound and whenever up at the farm you always see plenty of animals.  Over the last four years I have hunted one spot with outstanding success.  That success is due to the decoy Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy.  Adding a couple of feeder hens nearby helps provide serenity and calmness to the area. I bury myself into as much cover as possible, and wait 30 minutes for the forest to calm down.  When I hear the music of birds and see deer running across the fields in front of me, I give a couple of clucks on the call, then just wait and read a book and try to stay awake.

On this trip the farmer was running cattle in the area I wanted to hunt so I had to go to a different area of the farm.  With all the birds I saw on this piece of ground, so what.  All that was needed was to get old Funky out in the open where he can be seen by the Toms.

An old turkey hunter told me years ago to quit getting there early before they come off the roost and just be set up by 8 a.m.  He said most big turkeys are shot between 8 a.m and 2 p.m.  I am sure  people have had different experiences, but this was what worked for me.  It had rained during the night and it was really windy when everything was in place.

This is spot # 1.  My back is pushed into a row of trees and brush.  Behind that is a small pond formed by a dam across a drainage ditch.

The waiting game was on, but nothing appeared, except a few hens.  There was a lot of gobbling early but by 11 a.m. it had almost died out.  The wind picked up to a minor gale and nothing appeared in the field ahead of me.  Then a light mist developed.  Hunting in the rain for me is no fun so it was time to fold up.  Tomorrow is another day.

Day two was similar to day one, but without all the wind.  There were low clouds and it looked like rain at first.  Up the valley was an area I’d never hunted so I  decided to head uphill toward the end of the valley.  It narrowed up rather quickly, but in the past turkey and deer had been seen traversing the area and going over the hill at the end.  Even though it was partly cloudy, a big beautiful blue sky developed above that and let a lot of sunshine into the valley and illuminated the Funky.  That was really great.  Turkeys have phenomenal eyesight and the fact that Funky was not in the shadows but showing up and showing off made it a good possibility. I said quietly to myself, “Bring them to me Funky.”

 I use two feeder hens about 5 to 10 yards to one side of Funky to add a sense of calmness to the area.  This was recommended by the manufacturer of the Funky.

Pushing myself into some standing timber and brush put me in the shadows, and with my leaf suit I was well hidden.  Now came the waiting, but for entertainment, a book was right there for me to read.

There he is doing his turkey thing.  I may be giving away my age, but do you remember the Charles Atlas advertisements in boys magazines that attempted to sell muscle building schemes for skinny boys? The advertisement promoted how to stop getting sand kicked in your face by a big bully. The big shots are coming to kick sand in his face. 

Down the hill from where I was hiding, some jakes came up the hill, but turned away from me to follow a path made by the farmer’s four wheeler.  They were way too far for a shot.  Some hens also followed, but the jakes were probably afraid of Funky. 

Day three was a beautiful morning.  I set up a spot earlier  than I had done the two days before.  Maybe my friend was a little off his rocker when he said, “Don’t get set up till around 8 a.m.”  A few gobbles greeted the morning and some geese were flying over, squawking away.  At least 10 deer were seen as they nibbled their way across the valley where I was hiding.  The wind was from my left and a couple stopped and stared straight toward me, stood there, then walked off.  Something just was not quite right.  Even though they could not smell my scent, something just wasn’t quite right.  It was me.  No Toms appeared and only one more day was left before the season closed.  Staying later in the day did not produce any action.

 

It has been four years since I did not wax a nice edible tom turkey on the first day.  Iowa has four seasons and you buy a separate tag for each season.  Again, the old turkey hunter had told me to hunt the 4th season because it is longer, there is not a lot of pressure then, and the hens are mostly bred out.  He claimed the toms are still looking for a suitable mate to add to their harem.

It was another beautiful morning and getting on site early might be helpful.  This location faced toward a dam holding water from a  stream in a deep gully. With open field to my right and the steep uphill valley to my left, this was not only the best location, but there were three avenues for the toms to get a look at Funky Turkey Chicken decoy.  This was my last day, and there was a feeling of great hope.

Pushing back into the timber and brush, the sun would be right behind me when it came up and filled the valley.  I would be in the shadows, however.  After waiting the usual 30 minutes for the woods to settle down, the birds began singing and the squirrels were scurrying around.  A fox walked right in front of me not more than 50 feet.  A slight breeze was right in my face, and that was good.  Nothing in front of me could wind me.  It is not smell that spooks turkeys, but movement.  Keeping the area calm is important to give the big boys security.  I fell asleep.

 Looking to the right, this area was pretty open and I had to push back into the timber.

 

There is the funky at the top and his two ladies grazing away.

 

There is nothing like a nap in the woods.  The temperature was very pleasant, and then as my head bobbed around, I looked up to see a nice looking young boy with his feathers all fanned out.  This was not a big tom, but respectable and he would eat good.  Guessing he was about 35 yards out, he came towards Funky to clean some clock.  Now, a very slight movement was required as the piece was slowly lifted to my shoulder gradually. I was a little exposed, but wearing the leaf suit had worked before.   He was very cautious, but kept coming.  In the past, a few had come running to do battle.  I said to myself, “He is either an experienced fighter, or he is scared out of his feathers.”

Things got heavy as the wait was on for an easy shot.  At about 15 yards, the time had come, and he was plunked.  The farmer, upon hearing the shot, came up on his four wheeler to take a look.  Then it was off to his kitchen for coffee and to sit and visit a while.  I also had 15 pounds of elk meat for him as he and his family enjoy wild game.

Not a giant, but he will eat good. 

 

My book makes a great gift for those who like to hunt.  Click on the book to order from Amazon, or go to my website, (www.outdoorswithhank.com)

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank

Walleye Galore on Lake Francis Case

Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles.

That is how you get your wife to go fishing with you.  Our guide and good friend is in the background.

A good friend and his wife had just come back from a two day fishing trip and gave an outstanding recommendation for a guide, using his boat and equipment, and a lodge to stay at.  The pictures they had were of some excellent walleye fishing.  The fish caught were not big lunkers, but really nice size  fish in the 15 to 18 inch class.  These fillet out really nice and fry up even better. 

Fort Randall Dam, South Dakota.jpg

Picture is produced by Harry Weddington, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library

The Fort Randall Dam is located within sight of its namesake Fort Randall, an early U.S. Army Frontier Post. Fort Randall Dam is one of six Missouri River dams.  The next dam upstream is Big Bend Dam near Fort Thompson and the next dam downstream is Gavins Point near Yankton. The dam forms the southern end of the lake with the northern end at Chamberlain, SD that form Lake Sharpe.

Comfortable room and lodge area made this a great place to stay. 

Upon contacting the people at Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service in Platte, SD, there was an opening for two days of fishing with a guide and a room.  We grabbed it.  Pam could not go along due to another commitment and was terribly disappointed as she really likes to hammer walleye.

Arriving late afternoon, We met our guide and we talked about the next morning.  We would depart for the lake at 7 a.m.

For meals a person could drive into town as there were restaurants open in the morning for breakfast and dinner.  A person could bring his own food and fix it at the lodge.  We just grabbed some TV dinners for breakfast and dinner along with snacks for the afternoon and that worked well for us.

This is where we hung out and sat and watched TV in the checkered chair with the brown pillow.  Tables are to the right and another dining room in front of me for other people cooking their own meals.  

The boat shown below was the boat we would be fishing in the next morning.  Wow, a new 19 foot+ Lund purchased in January the year before.  This boat had it all.  Eighty pound thrust trolling motor on the bow that unfolded down into the water electrically and pulled itself back out when it was time to go.  The best part was it was controlled automatically by the Hummingbird graph at the drivers seat.  Set the depth and the motor kept the boat moving along at that depth.  This was hands free fishing.  Two 4 stroke engines were mounted on the rear.  One was a 200 hp Mercury and the other was a 15 hp Mercury.  Both were totally controlled at the drivers spot for steering and running the fuel.  This was way more boat than I own.

This boat would really move when it was opened up and the seats had a suspension system that kept the ride really smooth. 

Next morning it was off to the lake.  When we got to the boat ramp area we were fourth in line for a single boat ramp.  Boats were piling up behind us and boats were floating just off the single dock waiting for the driver of the truck to come in from the parking to mount up and ride off into the morning light. The big boat came right off and I drove the trailer up to the parking area and hustled down to the dock. We were off, and oh how this boat would fly over the water with just the three of us in it and the 200 horses pushing us along!  (I keep talking about the boat, but it was exciting.  Plus, I don’t have to maintain it.)

My first view of Lake Francis Case. 

Highway 44 out of Platte, SD crosses over the lake.  To our left is a campground where we would launch the boat.  The area has 5 boat ramp areas. 

I shot a quick pic trying to get a shot of the traffic, but we were so hurried that this is the best I could do.  I have never seen so many people lining up to get onto the lake.  It is the end of May and this lake is really popular. 

My guide said the lake was about  normal and he has lived in the area all his life.  In the water we were off and flying over the water.  Moving to the east bank he set the depth at 10 feet for the motor and graph to keep us at that depth just following the shoreline.  

There is that Hummingbird telling the trolling motor where to go.  How sweet it is! 

We started immediately picking up fish, not real rapidly but enough to pay attention.  Each of us fished with two rods in rod holders on each side of the boat.  This was a new experience for me, as I have always run the trolling motor, watched the graph, and operated one rod.  Wow, gentleman fishing is what was taking place.  At my age, I need all of this I can take.  Pam really liked it as there was no work to do.  

The fish we picked up were below the 15 inch minimum.  But we picked up a lot and it was relatively constant.  This is a great sign for the lake, as all those small fish grow into big fish. A couple of decades ago a close friend and I fished Waubay Lake in the Glacial Lakes area and would pick up 50 to 100 fish a day all below the legal limit.  It was fun catching a lot of fish.  Next year we picked up a limit a piece in less than half a day.  This will happen here.  Good for the minimum.

Decades ago, my son and I fished with a native of the Iron Range in Minnesota.  We fished the B.W.C.A. and he said wherever you are catching small walleye, you need to move on as that is all there is in that spot.  Over the years I have found some truth in that statement.  We moved.

The next location we picked up a couple of keepers in the 16 inch range and when it went sterile, we moved again.  The guide just seemed to know where to go and where he had caught fish in the past and this year.  He told me we could have it all done by 1 pm or earlier.

I fished the bow of the boat and the guide fished the back end. Pam fished the other side of the back end.  I don’t think he was trying too hard because he was slow to set the hook and it seemed like sometime his line went slack.  He was more interested in keeping on a certain depth making sure Pam caught fish, and monitored the graph and changing our depths at times.  Note the rod holder.  There was one on the other side of the bow. I am not used to this at all as I have always held a rod in my hand.  Time to teach an old dog new tricks. 

That is my spot at the front of the boat, unless we are rocketing across the lake to a new spot.   Pam took the seat behind the windshield and she loved the flotation of the seats.  The white box on the floor has worms in the center and is surrounded on the outside by ice to keep them cold.  

By 11 a.m. we had caught our daily limit for the day for the three of us. Pam was amazed at the number of keepers we caught in such a short time.  This trip may have sold her on fishing with me again and we have another day to go.

Amazing and we were done by 11 a.m.  These are perfect eating size fish. 

Another day to follow. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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The Hunt for the Canadian Grey Wolf

This is a mount at my host’s home.  Magnificent describes this mount as you enter the lower level and look up the stairs.  The picture does not capture the size and they are really big, smart, and nature’s ultimate hunter.

Last December, I hunted in the province of Alberta, known for its population of Grey Wolves.  The opportunity was muffed and I slept like a baby afterward.  I cried all night.  I hunted with the outfitter where I had harvested a nice moose.  I was issued a wolf/coyote license with my Alberta tab for the moose, and was told the area held an abundance of wolves.  The claim was their favorite morsel was moose and elk calves and the population loses 80% of the newborn moose to the wolves.  My wife was with me on that trip and we did see some at great distances early in the morning or evening.  No shots were taken.

My wife and I with our moose in 2018 and our friends enjoyed dining on this fine looking boy.

More research was needed to check other provinces across Canada. It appeared that the majority of the outfitters hunted them from fixed position over bait.  Over bait means that you are within 100-200 yards of the bait pile.  I also learned that at the first location, that warmer temperatures were better for drawing a wolf to the bait.  Severe cold makes the meat totally frozen and when they are out hunting at night a nice tasty moose or elk calf makes an easier meal.  I also learned they will come to a call depending on the time of the year.  I was told early in the season was best when they had not been hunted too much.

Finally, I found an outfitter in Ontario that hunted totally different than using a fixed position.  Bait sites were established and the sites were checked in the morning.  If there were fresh wolf tracks, a tracker with snow shoes followed the tracks to a where they had bedded down and pushed them out of their bed.  The tracker never saw the wolf, but followed the tracks, and radioed the direction they were going.  A hunter would be posted in a clearing or general clear area and set up to harvest the wolf when they appeared.  Sounds simple, eh! Forsooth, forsooth, not so.  The wolves will change direction, circle behind the tracker, go through some underbrush so thick you can hardly see through it, but not necessarily pop into view where a hunter has posted himself and be within range. Shots will be at 50 to 400+ yards.  More to come on that.

My drive out of Council Bluffs took me up through the twin cities through Duluth and then into Ontario.  It was not cool, but really cold and very snowy.  I arrived after a two day drive at the outfitter’s home and we got acquainted.  Next morning we went out and baited sites and checked sites that had been previously baited.  After lunch we checked a bait site and it was covered in wolf tracks.  I was posted in a location, given a radio, and the outfitter took off.

My first hunting site, 100 yards from the bait.  The chair is totally useless.  The outfitter dropped me off at this location with a snow mobile.  When I stepped off the machine I went into snow up to my crotch.  When sitting down in the chair, it almost fell over backward as it sunk into the snow.

Okay, now you have an idea, somewhat, of the conditions a hunter has to deal with and whose side the odds are on when it comes to harvesting a wolf.  I was told to stomp down a hole in the snow, then press down with my hands to make a bench in the snow.  When sitting on the snow bench you have to practice shooting positions on either side to be ready when and if an animal appears.  I immediately recognized that this would not be easy.  Among the lessons learned in Alberta, being absolutely still is most important.  The wolf is a sight feeder/hunter and it will pick up on the slightest movement.  Also, during the day, they do not like to leave the safety of standing timber and brush. At this location, there were no hits, no runs, and the only errors were made by me flailing around in the snow.

That evening the other three hunters made it in and we all got acquainted.  It was going to be a rough day on the following day.  When we got up at 5 a.m. EST, there was a full fledged blizzard in force.  Wow, everyone stood around after the outfitter said, “Well, what do you want to do?”  No one wanted to say forget it, and so out we went.  This was really tough and the temp went well below (0) F and the wind howled.  We were positioned  at different positions and the trackers could not even find a fresh track.  We gave up by 10 a.m. A nap felt good.

Next day it was still cold, but it had cleared and we were back on the trail hiding while the trackers tried to deliver an opportunity.

This is what I look like when all covered up.  We rode in a sled pulled by the snow mobiles and this is the reason for the ski goggles.  You can also put your hand in front of your face, but you still get covered.  One important thing I did was purchase Toasty Toes from Bass Pro and pasted them on the bottom of my socks.  They kept my feet warm.  When your feet are warm you can take a lot of snow, cold and wind.

We were moved several times as the trackers found tracks, but they changed directions several times and we were moved several times.

Typical hole stomped down and bench below the trees to sit on.  Upper left you can see where the snow mobile dropped me off.  A guide would always check to make sure my radio was working, then it was sit and wait, and be very still.  Keeping hands warm is also important.  I wear a thin pair of gloves in case of a shot, and mittens used by the ice fisherman.  A packet of Hot Hands also from Bass Pro was inside the mittens.  Feet and hands were always warm.

This was a great location and after everyone was settled, the trackers moved into the woods and bait sites to start moving the wolves if they were in a group.  Most of the time it was a single wolf that they were disturbing.

Looking off to my right was the directions the wolf would have come if it ventured out of the timber.  I was positioned  at a good location if the animal veered off the line of the push.

Nothing happened and the sun shining down on me just made me sleepy.

On this particular day we must have moved over five times.  There was a dusting of snow and tracks were easy to spot near and around the bait sites.  This meant loading up the rifles into the cases and crawling back into the sleds.  Also, we had to unload when moving and reload when sitting down.  Fortunately, my partner and I were of considerable weight and that made the sled settle a little for a smoother ride.  That is the good news.  The bad news was more snow was kicked up into our faces and covered us with snow.

I am on the right side of the sled with the ski goggles on.  I wore a mask covering my face with holes for nose, mouth, and eyes.  On top of that was a wool cap that pulled down over my ears and down the back of my neck.  It was billed, so that helped keep out glare.  Then my hood which is really thick was pulled up on all of that.  I was told by an old cold weather hunter, you lose most of your heat through the top of your head.

My partner had a shot at 100 yards and missed.  I felt really bad for him.  He was a very experienced hunter and was really sick about the shot.  The wolf came out of the woods on a slow gallop and with their big padded feet they do not sink into the snow.  He spotted it and drew on it and said the bullet kicked up snow below the animal.  It happens to all of us periodically, but that is still little consolation.

Next day after changing sites several times I was with one of the guides on a river bank.  The tracks and beds had been found and we were positioned in a relative direct line from the tracker.  Even though the guides and trackers are talking to one another you still don’t know where they are going to pop out of the woods.

This is a riverbed and the guide and I climbed up a river bank into some timber.  The guide was positioned near me off to my left.  We waited.

We waited, and waited, and he told me that a couple of weeks previously a wolf was shot just as he came out of the woods straight away from me.  Not on this day.  Three came out 600 yards from me up the river in a line on the move.   I shoot a 300 Win Mag Model 70 with Nosler 180 gr Partition bullet, but I have never shot at anything that far away.  The guide hollered, “Shoot anyway, you might get lucky.”  “How?”was going through my mind as I lifted the rifle to my shoulder, raised it up a couple of feet, and let the first round go.  The guide hollered, ” Again, again!” The same process was done on the second.  The wolf rolled, and the guide was hollering, “You got him! You got him! Go for the third.”  The third animal was heading back to the woods and had hit the afterburners.  I sent the round anyway, but that was a clear miss.  Back to number two. He got up as I fumbled around getting another round in the chamber, but he made it to the bank and was gone.

The outfitter and my guide were right up on the spot looking around but did not find any blood.  He obviously was not hit and maybe was just winged or the snow blowing up in his face caused him to roll.  They spent thirty minutes going up the bank and looking for signs of blood.  There was none. It’s called hunting, not shooting.

On our final day there were no sightings although there was a lot of tracks.

Wolf tracks along the roadway.

I just put this picture of the pile of snow on a street corner.  They do get a lot of snow in Ontario. We called this Mount Ontario.

Getting back home felt really good, and I have to admit this was the most grueling experience I have every had. The cold was very manageable, but the deep snow was a bit of a problem to move around.   My friends and my wife all asked me if I would do this again, and the answer is yes.  You only live once.

Something to do is to read my book while we wait for the Corona virus to disappear. Click on the book and buy from Amazon. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank.

It is Time for Flowers

Entering into the Cathedral the first display is in the center.

During January in Omaha/Council Bluffs it was really cold.  This winter we were having some sub zero temps at night and during the day the temp never went above 20.  Add the wind chill and it was really cold outside. Not much snow, but it has been unusually humid.  That just makes it feel even colder.  Plus, if you add in the gray days it makes it even more uncomfortable.

 My wife Pam always finds things for us to do instead of sitting around in blankets reading and watching the idiot tube.  You watch that thing for any length of time and your eyes get bigger and your brain gets smaller.  It was time to get out of the house. 

 
OmahaNE StCecilia.jpg

“We shape our buildings; Thereafter they shape us.”

Winston Churchill

This weekend was St. Cecilia’s Cathedral annual Flower Festival.  This is an Omaha tradition and one that will give you a bright break from the middle-of-winter doldrums.  Construction began on the Cathedral in 1905 and was consecrated in 1959.  It was listed as one of the ten largest Cathedrals in the country when it was completed.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Pam and I have traveled all over Europe and especially eastern Europe. We have seen many churches and cathedrals.  St. Cecilia is one of the grandest we have ever been in.  We always look forward to attending the festival every year. 

More than 30 area florists created displays for the event.  Last year the event celebrated Nebraska’s 150th anniversary with exhibits honoring the state’s history.  This year the planners built on last year’s success with numerous displays.  The event also honored the the American Institute of Architects, Nebraska Chapter.  Enjoy the displays. 

 

 

The Cathedral dome is magnificent.

 

 

I have been following the temperatures up at Spirit River in Alberta, Canada where I hunted wolves this past December.  They have been colder than we have been, excluding some -20 below days.   Also, St. Anthony, Idaho where I hunted Elk last year has been colder than our area and they are only an hour from Yellowstone. 

 

Stay Warm my Friends 

 

Click on the pic for great winter reading. 

Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck, Hank

 

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Hunting Alberta’s Grey Wolf

Here he/she is Canis Lupus 

In the fall of 2018, I had the good luck to score a moose north of Spirit River, Alberta.  The Outfitter was going to start offering wolf hunts as the beast is so plentiful and I was told they kill about 80% of the new born moose calves.  The beast immediately went on my list of hunting trips that I had to make. First, a little research needed to be done.  I was reminded that this animal is not your ordinary house dog, but a fierce animal that kills for sport.  

Here’s looking at you kid

Hunting elk in north central Idaho and in Wyoming south of Yellowstone, some time ago, I had experienced what happens when wolves are turned loose in areas rich in elk.  The elk disappear. If I was going to head north to hunt these animals, a little research needed to be done.

Literature is readily available on line from Canada about this animal, and here is what I learned. They are  common in lightly settled portions of Canada from Labrador to British Columbia and in the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories. Wolves are territorial. Each pack occupies an area that it will defend against intruders. Sizes of territories vary greatly and are dependent on the kind and abundance of prey available. Wolves’ chief prey are large mammals such as deer, moose, caribou, elk, bison, and muskox. Wolves also eat a variety of smaller mammals and birds, but these rarely make up more than a small part of their diet.

In the wild, male and female wolves can breed only once a year. Breeding time varies with the latitude but most commonly occurs in March and April. After a nine-week gestation or pregnancy period, litters of five or six pups (sometimes eight or more) are born.

Wolf pups are usually born in a den. In coniferous forests and on tundra this den is commonly dug in a type of soil that lends itself to digging, such as in a gravel ridge caused by glacial melt water, or similar area. The pups remain inside whelping dens for approximately two weeks. By mid-autumn they are traveling with the pack and participating in hunting and other pack activities.

Frequent play helps young wolves develop hunting skills. Mature wolves can set up ambushes or drive prey toward other wolves. These learned or non-instinctive skills originated as pups.

After visiting with the outfitter, we selected a date on December 9th to fly to Grande Prairie Alberta, Canada where I would be picked up and taken to the lodge.  Now, I have never flown with a firearm before and there are a few steps you must go through.  First, notify the airline you will be checking a firearm in at the ticket counter.  Second, purchase a stout lockable gun case to transport the piece.  I also included the ammunition in that case in its original box.  A gun store owner recommended I purchase a box by Pelican. It was a little pricey, but it was really stout and had a place for four separate padlocks.  I opened it up at the ticket counter and the agent place a document in the box. It was then sent as baggage to be placed on the airline.  The box was unlocked when it went to TSA. They checked it out in the location where they check bags and then locked it back up after placing a document in the case.  

My first port of entry was Calgary.  I retrieved the gun and my over- sized bag from the baggage area  and went to Canadian customs.  They then steered me to a separate area where my document to bring in a gun was reviewed with my passport.  I presented a folder with my passport, my contract with the outfitter, and all e-mail correspondence with the outfitter, along with a document issued by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on the firearm.  The Canadian form to bring in a firearm into the country is in triplicate and DO NOT SIGN IT.  It must be signed in front of an officer.  I paid $25.00 and then went on to the connecting flight. When hunting, you will need to carry the document signed by immigration along with your hunting license.   At the next connection counter, the case was opened and another document from the airline was added to the other documents.  The locked case was then sent on to the baggage area to be added to the flight. My bag and firearm showed up in Grande Prairie.  This was my first time flying with a firearm.  Driving is much simpler.  All in all, it is not that difficult once you have done it. 

We were off on the hunt the next day.  This would take place over bait.  Bait consisted of the ground up innards from the elk, moose, and deer shot at the lodge during the regular hunting season.  It was frozen and stored until needed, then thawed and placed on the bait sight the night before hunting the sight on the next day.  The wolves are nocturnal animals so it was expected they would feed on the sight during the night and the next day.

This is the blind I where hunted from, and the outfitter had a number of locations with blinds we would hunt from depending on the wind.  I would face the wind and in the above case, I would be looking out the front window toward the bait site 180 yards from me.  The average shot would be around 200 yards.  The blind is 45×45 inches. I could not stand up, and it is very difficult to move around.

This is looking into the backside of the blind.  The floor is five feet above the ground and I just stepped on the cross pieces and pulled myself up.  Notice the chair.  It is an office type of chair that can be raised and lowered and it is comfortable.  Notice on top of the blind there is a little black box. This is a very important item and the outfitter uses this item when bear hunting.  It is called Ozonics, and the purpose to eliminate scent.  It runs quietly and draws air up from the blind and filters it out into the air stream.

This was a mile walk from the drop off point and my guide walked me in.  It was -10 and I was dressed like Nanook of the North with multiple layers of clothing.  In addition to my gun, a small space heater was brought along, an extra propane tube, my lunch consisting of a thermos of soup, the Ozonics, extra “Hot Hands,” extra “Toasty Toes,” a small bottle of water, and extra ammo.  Fortunately for me, my guide was in his early 20’s and was a college basketball player.  He was in outstanding condition and insisted on carrying all the equipment in.  All I carried was my shooting sticks that I did not need.  This young man was built like Paul Bunyan and was in outstanding physical condition.  The snow was knee deep and we walked in on a packed down surface made by a snow machine.  My guide never got winded, and I had to stop several times to catch my breath.  Why not, I have over 50 years on him and I could have been his grandfather. 

Organization was the key element in the blind.  Second, was getting myself positioned so that when I brought the gun up, I could point it out the window, then drop it to the target and get my eye on the scope.  This was not like shooting elk, moose, or buffalo which was like shooting at a billboard. 

This is what I saw as I was looking forward out of the blind.  On each side there was a small window that  I could open.  With the space heater running, I opened up a second for safety.  I sat there for two hours with nothing happening, and then it came.  Just at the tree line edge a wolf stepped out in the open.  Did I make the shot?  The answer is not only NO, IT IS NO NO and MORE NO. I had the rifle on my left side, my extra bag on the right and the space heater behind me.  Now, I had to get the gun over to my right side, stick the barrel out the window, and try to scope the animal.  The gun is 47 inches long.  The width of the blind is 45 inches.  The chair was too low.  The critter stood for at least 15 seconds staring straight at me.  Our eyes met as I was thrashing and thrashing around.  By the time I was set to shoot, he split. I could have sworn there was a paw that went up and a middle claw sticking up in the air as he disappeared.  That night I slept like a baby, and cried all night.  

This was a very hard lesson to learn as this might be the only opportunity for the trip.  This type of hunting has a very, very low percentage of success.  I had to get organized.  First, I moved the rifle over to my right side and practiced pulling it up and positioning it to fire as quickly as possible.  Second, I moved the space heater between my legs where I could easily control the heat output. Third, I put my bag on my left side.  Fourth, I moved my shooting sticks behind me as they would be of no value.  The window ledge was where the gun was laid on top of a mitten to avoid scratching it. Fifth, I raised the chair to the maximum so that I would lean into the gun and the scope.  Sixth, I practiced this movement over and over until I got all movements just right.   

My guide would text me periodically to check on how things were going.  It was embarrassing to let him know one got away. 

This is looking off to my left.  The wind remained in a northerly direction and this location was hunted for two days.  Another lesson I learned was water intake.  First, do not drink coffee in the morning.  Second, limit your water intake to not more that a half a bottle of water during the day.  When you leave for the blind do not drink any water.  You will get thirsty, but that won’t hurt you at all and when you leave in the evening, you can have a big drink of water.  On my second day, I was not out of the blind except one time.  The first day it was several.  

The next day the temp was still below zero,  but the light breezes had switched to a more northeasterly direction.  The walk in was a lot shorter and more flat, and I had less trouble and did not tumble into the snow.  

This pic is just peering out the left side of the blind. It had a rather picturesque look and you can see the light snowfall that had taken place during the night. 

This is looking straight out of the front of the blind.  The tracks you see are from the tracked vehicle that brought in the bait during the night.  Just on the other side of the small rise is the location of the bait.  It is out about 200 yards.  Looking to the far end of the cut is 500 yards per my range finder. 

It was at the far end of the cut that two black dots appeared.  I said to myself, “Are the gods going to look favorably on me and give me another shot?”  I texted back to the guides and told them there were two out 500 yards and working their way toward me.  Immediately the response was, “If you have a comfortable shot, take it, we can always track the results.”

I patiently waited and they worked their way to the bait pile.  The ground was rolling and they would appear at the top of the roll in the earth, then disappear as they went down.  With the lesson learned from the first day, I got set up and ready to take my first wolf.  The barrel was out the window and the scope had a great view of the ridge above the bait.  I only wished at that moment that the bait was on my side of the rise rather than on the opposite side.  

It was all about waiting, waiting, and more waiting.  A blackish wolf popped up and I leaned into the firearm, had him in the scope, but as I started to apply pressure on the trigger he went back onto the bait pile.  Then I saw a head poking up and then it went back down.  I waited and waited.  In my lifetime, I have fouled up more easy shots by not being patient and being in too big of a hurry.  Finally, there seemed to be no more activity on the bait pile. As I looked down the cut, they appeared at the far end and disappeared.  

The only thing that happened then was a coyote came by and I watched him dive into snow and track rodents scurrying underneath the snow. I had a coyote license, but I did not want to ruin the spot for a coyote. 

The next two days the wind shifted to the southwest and the light snow quit.  I was taken to a blind where a trapper had seen a big pack of wolves working through the area and he believed this was their territory.  

The bait is just beyond the shadow line.  There is a cut that comes in from the right and the guide said they had seen tracks there.  

This is the cut that came in from the right side of the blind.  There were a lot of ravens on the bait sight and that was a good thing as it demonstrated security for the wolves. 

Off to my left was a small pond with wolf tracks coming across it to the cut above the blind and then to the bait.  No one came by that day. 

To the left and right inside of the box were convex mirrors that I could look behind myself and see if anything was coming.  I was told that wolves will come to bait at a good clip and then slow down the closer they get.  You can see the tracks in the snow made by the snow machines.  All the blinds had a tree at the back of them so you can see off to one side through the mirror if something is coming to call. 

Nanook of the North

This is the space heater that was used to take the chill off.  The first day, I ran it on high about every couple of hours for 15 minutes.  But my guide and the other hunter kept it on low all day long and that worked really well just to keep the chill off. 

Was this a successful hunt? Yes it was and no it was not. It was my fault that I blew the shot, but it was a great time and experience, and I will do it again next year.  Next time there will be a better knowledge level of how to do it, which will bring success. 

For a good read, buy my book.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank

Hunting The Wapiti

This was what I was after, but not that big.  Notice the cape and the low slung belly.  I did one of those years ago and my wife still reminds me that he was not the best eating.  This animal was almost 600 yards when I got the picture.  

Many biologists believe the name “wapiti” (WAA-pi-tea) is a Shawnee Indian word meaning “white rump,” an appropriate description for the elk’s large rump patch.  This is the animal I set out to hunt in eastern Idaho southwest of Yellowstone in Montana on October 8th.  The reservation was made in mid January and at that time, it was hoped the weather would be tolerable.  Two years ago a hunt was planned with outstanding results, and last year we hunted moose, and the weather could have not been better.

This year the warnings went out for Montana, the Dakotas, and Wyoming for severe cold, high winds and lots of snow.  Driving across Wyoming warning signs on I-80 gave a really bad picture of what was to come.  The plan was to stop overnight in Rock Springs and then drive up to Jackson, Wyoming next morning, and head over Teton Mountain Pass.  Now for a flat lander this is an adventure in itself.  I always put the truck in a low gear, engage the four wheel drive for more traction, and engage a trailer tow device as if the truck is pulling a trailer.  The object here is to use engine braking going down the pass.  Whenever there is a place to pull over, it is done, and the natives go around me waving with one hand and a finger.  It must be some sort of mountain greeting.  


Anyway, I did not go that way the next morning because based on the weather forecast, there was a lot of snow along that route.  Instead I went west to Ogden, Utah, and then northerly to Saint Anthony, Idaho along I-15.  From there it is only a 15 minute drive to the ranch and only adds about 1.5 hours to the trip.  

Here is home for several days.  Juniper Mountain Ranch and they take really good care of you.

I arrived at the ranch by 3 p.m. We should have gone out and sighted in our rifles, but the wind was so strong and the temperature was falling,  so this was put off until in the morning.  This is gentleman hunting in a warm comfortable lodge, private room and bath, and three meals a day in a dining room with a fireplace and comfortable seating.  At my age, and I am old, riding old paint into the mountains and bedding down in a four walled tent has long since been over.  We ride the iron horse in search of a good looking elk to stalk.

The camp dog.  I never learned his name, but he greeted everyone when they came in the lodge.  His job was to sleep and greet people.  I shared a lot of the same symptoms he had for an old dog.  He is 13.

That evening over dinner, I was teamed up with the same guide of two years ago and it was a pleasure to see him and have the opportunity to hunt with him again.  All the same people were there when my wife had gone with me two years ago.  She did not make this trip.  The staff remembered her well and was disappointed she had not come along.  When you see the same people that you saw two years ago, that tells you about the quality of the lodge and the business they are in.

After leaving the ranch house and heading out into the ranch land, it is covered with sagebrush.  The plants are almost up to your waist and if you cripple an animal and he lies down, it will be tough to find him.  We would move from high point to high point and look around, then move into low areas and look up and around. 

The ranch covers a lot of territory and provides an excellent opportunity for a good animal.  It was extremely cold and the wind was really blowing so that made it quite miserable.  The good part was we were in a four wheeled drive truck and began searching for an elk, stopping to glass and see if we could get into a good position.  With the wind, there was no need to worry about direction as it was pouring out of the north. We would just have to get down wind from our target and move toward him.

Another view. This is tough country. 

We saw a number of good looking animals, but were unable to get into a position where a shot could be taken.  At least there was no snow as the weather had remained north of us into Montana driving southeast into Wyoming and the Dakotas.

We spotted this boy watching us from a long distance.  Thanks to telephoto lens, we got his picture.  He did not linger long and the wind was right behind us blowing into his face.  He split. 

Next morning out we went again and the weather was still extremely cold, but the wind had gone down.  Clear blue skies and visibility were excellent.  We moved from high points to scan the scenery for horns sticking up above the sage brush or an elk showing his white rump on his backside.

We moved up to higher ground to get a better look around.


We drove up higher where we could get a better view of the total landscape.  With binoculars and spotting scope, we scanned the area looking for some meat for the larder. Then we spotted some elk moving slowly grazing at a distance of about a half a mile.  

The two to the right of the picture were the ones we were after.  My guide said he knew of a low lying area where, what he called, September grass was growing. He believed they were heading toward that area.  So we also headed there. 


We kept track of the movement and moved as quickly as possible across the dense growth of sagebrush.  It was obvious where they were heading and getting there ahead of them was necessary.  The truck was back behind a rise and we moved into a vantage point where we were looking into the small valley.  We waited.  The wind was right in our face and they would not be able to wind us as they headed into the green grass. 


At 250 yards, I put the 300 win mag in the shooting sticks, adjusted for the distance and put the cross hairs in the sweet spot for the one I wanted.   Kaboom! It was all over and we hustled down to where he dropped. 

I shoot a Winchester Model 70 300 win mag and shoot Nosler Partition 180 grain bullet. 

He dressed at 380 pounds of fine eating.

I use Matt’s Meats in St Anthony for the processing.  I used them before when we  hunted the area two years ago.  They will process the burger into half pound packages.  We give a lot of meat to friends and they like the half pound packages.  You can have sticks and salami made, but it will take an extra day.  Staying at local motels is not a problem and there is plenty of scenery to explore.   Yellowstone is close if you want to face the crowds.  I do European Mounts with my game, and Fall Taxidermy in St. Anthony will turn it around in two days.  He did an excellent job.  All in all, I had a great hunting experience with a guide I enjoy and a lodge with outstanding cooking.  Plus, I left with a load of meat and a finished European Mount. 

Fall Taxidermy did a really good job and I was very satisfied.  

Click on the book and buy from Amazon.  It tells you where I have gone and how I did it. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

The Grand Finale to the Adventure

The Isle of Skye

On this day we had a full day of sightseeing with an excursion to the Isle of Skye, considered to be the loveliest of all the Scottish islands.   The Isle of Skye is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.  The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and its history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald.  About a third of the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001. 

The morning rides were exceptionally beautiful as the heather was just starting to bloom. 

The Heather was just starting to bloom.  In the more mountainous areas it was really blooming. 

Highland Countryside

We had lunch on our own in Skye and it was outstanding.  Fish and chips with a side of slaw were outstanding.  There was an enormous piece of cod and it was caught fresh that morning.  It was rainy and we had to get back to the coach to continue to our next stop and observe the beautiful country. 

Our next stop was Eilean Donan Castle. It is on a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet,  and is a picturesque castle that frequently appears in photographs, films and television. Eilean Donan, which means simply “island of Donnan,” is named after Donnan of Eigg, a Celtic saint martyred in 617. Donnan is said to have established a church on the island, though no trace of this remains.

More of the Highlands

Eilean Donan Castle

There we are

The castle was founded in the 13th century and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan MacRae.  In the early 18th century the Mackenzies involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle’s destruction.  It seems as we read through the history of these people, they were always fighting.  Maybe it was in their diet. 

Next day we followed the Malt Whiskey Trail considered the ultimate Scotch experience.  The trail is a partnership of nine whiskey destinations, all of them based in the heart of malt whiskey country in Speyside.  These partner organizations range from active distilleries like Benromach, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Strathlisa as well as historic distilleries like Dallas Dhu and the Speyside Cooperage.  

Scottish Cattle.  Touring through the countryside on a narrow two lane road, lo & behold the coach came to a quick stop, flashers on, and we all got a picture of the traditional cattle. 

Speyside Cooperage

In the heart of the Malt whiskey Trail lies the Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in the UK where we experienced the ancient art of coopering.  The Cooperage continues to work and produce the age-old product, still using traditional methods and tools.  

The casks are obtained from whiskey distillers in the U.S. and wine producers from around the world and rebuilt to be used in aging Scotch Whiskey.  

Next stop was the Glen Moray Distillery.  Located in the heart of Speyside, Scotland’s whiskey capital, the Glen Moray distillery has been producing fine single malt since 1897.  The distillery uses ex bourbon barrels sourced from North America to mature Glen Moray and these produce a whiskey with rich and spicy characteristics.  

Home to the Distillery

Making Scotch Whiskey

Aging Scotch Whiskey

Here is where we sampled the fine scotch whiskey and made our purchases.  The question by some of the people on the tour was, “How do you get this home?”  A very simple solution is we pack it in our dirty laundry and load it in the suitcase.  We have never had a broken bottle yet. 

Next day we visited Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mum.  Afterward, we crossed over into the ancient Kingdom of Fife and explored St Andrews.  This town is home to the University of St. Andrews and the place where Prince William met Kate Middleton.  The beautiful seaside town is also known as the home of golf.  From St. Andrews we proceeded onto Edinburgh. 

Glamis Castle. 

A large stone was erected to this man and I took a picture of the plaque.  We all enjoy Angus beef and this is the man responsible for the development. 

Our next stop was Edinburgh.  We arrived late afternoon and checked into our hotel just a few steps from the Royal Mile.  That evening was to be the highlight of the trip.  

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands, and artistic performance teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.  The event is held each August as part of the Edinburgh Festival. 

The term tattoo is derived from a 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”). It is a signal to tavern owners each night, played by a regiment’s Corps of Drums, to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour.  

It was a short walk up the Royal Mile, however it was wall to wall people taking baby steps.  I turned around to take this picture.  The stadium holds 9,000 people, and you must have reserved seats as it is always sold out.  

Looking ahead of me.  Amazing we made it with plenty of time to spare. 

We are on the top row and it was a great place as we could see everything. 

The Scottish marching music was fantastic, and the acoustics were outstanding. 

Different countries were represented. 

Watch the you-tube videos below for the 2018 performance  Copy and paste into your browser to watch the videos.  

The tour of Scotland was one of the major highlights in our lives of touring the world. 

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank