Ducks and the WRP

A close friend of mine who is an avid duck hunter is in the process of developing his own private duck hunting hole.  I hate to use the term old friends, but we have known each other for decades and he is an expert when is comes to hunting ducks and especially mallard ducks.  

His experience goes back to when he was thirteen years old and he hunted on a well known commercial hunting site and became a close friend of the owner, and still is.  He was the senior member in the club I belonged to for seventeen years.  Last year before the season, we lost the owner of the land we hunted on who also managed the club.  This club had been in existence for 25+ years and consisted of 80 acres with 40 acres of water and less than a mile from the Missouri River. It has a well and a pump to circulate the water,  so we always had open water even in the coldest of days.  The blinds buried in the ground were heated with comfortable padding for seating and hot plates for cooking. The best part of the hunt at this location was the dogs.  Some of the club members had outstanding dogs that were well trained.  We never lost a cripple.  This was gentlemen hunting at it’s finest.  Read my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”  There are real life experiences hunting ducks in the book. The book can be bought through Amazon or Lulu. 

I really miss those days of the bounty of ducks produced at this spot.  All I had to do was show up before shooting time, find a place to sit in the blind and wait.  I never had to get out.  The decoys were always located at the right location for the wind and conditions. There was always an excellent duck caller in the blind.   But with our leader gone, the family leased the blinds back to the club.  For club members like myself, that was a good thing.  They could have sold it.  This has been prime duck and goose hunting property for years and fully developed.  Still it just wasn’t the same for me.  Several of my close friends also decided not to renew their membership.  I am looking at other options.

In the meantime, my friend decided it was time to live his dream of a place of his own design based on 40+ years of hunting experience and a lifetime of studying the habits of migrating ducks.  And so he found a place near the river that was in WRP and it was for sale.  


The question is, what is WRP? The information below is taken from The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) a division of the USDA.

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) was a voluntary program that offered landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. 

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts through WRP.

This program offered landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.

The goal of NRCS was to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.

Lands that were eligible for WRP:

  • Wetlands farmed under natural conditions
  • Farmed wetlands
  • Prior converted cropland
  • Farmed wetland pasture
  • Certain lands that had the potential to become a wetland as a result of flooding
  • Rangeland, pasture, or forest production lands where the hydrology had been significantly degraded and could be restored
  • Riparian areas that linked protected wetlands
  • Lands adjacent to protected wetlands that contributed significantly to wetland functions and values
  • Wetlands that had previously been restored under a local, State, or Federal Program that need long-term protection 

Lands established to trees through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) were ineligible for WRP enrollment.

NRCS was committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill and was eager to discuss with all interested parties about the many potential benefits that the WRP offered.

Former Enrollment Options

Under the easement options, the USDA paid all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance.

  • Permanent Easement: A conservation easement in perpetuity. USDA pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
  • 30-Year Easement: An easement that expires after 30 years. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the easement value and up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
  • Restoration Cost-Share Agreement: An agreement to restore or enhance the wetland functions and values without placing an easement on the enrolled acres. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
  • 30-Year Contract: A 30-year contract option is only available on tribal lands. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

Rights Retained By Landowners

Speaking generally, under the voluntary easement the landowner retains the rights to:

  1. control of access
  2. title and right to convey title
  3. quiet enjoyment
  4. undeveloped recreational uses
  5. subsurface resources
  6. and water rights
Wild sunflower.  A native to the area.
Looking southwest across the wetland
Looking south across the wetland  The trees at the south form the southern boundary. 

My friend will be buying the 80 acres provided approval is given by the government for the land changes and arrangement he wants to do to the ground.  The focus on the spot will be to provide ducks with a resting place and feed obtained from native moist soil annual plants.  These produce the most seed. The whole 80 will not be for hunting but only a few acres will be shallow flooded for hunting.  No permanent blinds will be built or sunk into the ground.  Instead  the hunters will hide in the natural grass lands of the prairie consisting of switch grass and other native grasses.  You will have to hide.

Barnyard grass, a native to the area.
Crawdad hole.  The holes are everywhere. 

Most importantly, the spot will not be hunted every day but only on certain days of the week and only with a limited numbers of hunters.  Ducks will have an opportunity to feed and rest, move on or stay until the weather drives them out.  This is a great way to give the birds a rest and still have some excellent hunting.

White Wing Stem

In the spring when the birds move north the area will provide a great place to stop, rest, feed, and possibly stay and produce more ducks.  

Canada Wild Rye

I usually only harvest a two day limit for the season of Mallards.  That is all we will eat during the next six months after the season closes.  There are other meats to dine on besides ducks.

Recipe of the Week

       Duck Fajitas

  •  four duck breasts
  • 1 box of frozen red, green and yellow peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 fajitas spices/seasoning packets
  • 1 pack medium sized flour tortillas
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • tomato
  • cilantro
  • guacamole
  • shredded cheese
  • toothpicks

Cut goose or duck breasts into thin strips. Place in a skillet with a small amount of hot oil, cook thoroughly. Add fajita seasoning packet to duck. At the same time in another skillet sauté the frozen peppers with chopped red onion. Cook until tender. When both pepper and meat are done, place flour tortillas in microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. This will warm the tortillas and allow them to separate easier. Take out one tortilla and add meat, peppers, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc. Wrap the fixings inside the tortilla and use a toothpick through the middle to hold it together. Accompany with Spanish rice and refried beans. Serve with Tusker Beer.


Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank

The Moose Hunt is On


It’s on this year.  My moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019.  We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot.  That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt.  So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting. 


Moose Bull, Alaska, USA


What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean.  Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game.  The main element of  the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3.  I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.


The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family.  They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males.  Other members of the family have twig like configuration.  Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time.  Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia.  Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation.  The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears.  Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.  Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.  Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America.  They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions.  Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer.  The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.

Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose.  Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990.  The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game.  The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area.  The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest.  (Source Wikipedia)

An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds.  That is a lot of meat.  Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home.  The trip back will be a race against time.  However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid.  My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.

The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.  They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants.  They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw.  They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation.  The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs.   have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms.  They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes.  They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal.   The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.

I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans.  However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined.  During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”

I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk.  With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer.  As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza. 


When Pam and I get back in late October, there will be full report of our experience.  



Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck,  Hank


 Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
  • 1 – large onion – chopped
  • 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
  • 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
  • 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – small can tomato paste
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
  • 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
  • 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms
  • 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
  • 3 – red chili peppers – diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
  • 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tusker Beer


In a 5 quart or larger  Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.

Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.

While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).

Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.

At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.

Cover and simmer for at least one hour.

While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish. 

Drink the Tusker Beer. 

From Trash to Treasure

January has made itself well known in the Omaha/Council Bluffs cities and it is really cold.  Fortunately most of the heavy snow has gone north of us, but winter is not yet over.  What is a person to do? Fortunately for me, my wife makes sure we have plenty of entertainment and it is my turn to do what she wants to do.  That is how I get to hunt and fish whenever I want to and squander money on equipment.  I really mean to say invest in hunting and fishing equipment.  Plus, during the winter months of the year I plan my next big game hunting events.  This can be from hunting alligators in Louisiana to shooting big game in the mountains or in Canada.  


This winter one our favorite places, Lauritzen Gardens, had an outstanding event planned for members and the community.  This is one place I really like to go as there is always something interesting taking place, plus the gardens are a beautiful and peaceful place to visit.  


Two artists have turned plastic pollution into a beautiful, powerful and educational exhibit.  This is a demonstration of how to rethink our use of plastics and change our own habits.  The amazing creations have been built from reclaimed materials. The displays had an affect on us and changed the way we look at art, plastics, and our environment. 


We first visited the exhibit in the glass enclosed conservatory at night.  The lighting was absolutely magnificent.  Because there were so many people, taking picture was next to impossible, so we came back on a Saturday afternoon when the gardens were not so crowded.  


The pictures below are of the art work and animals constructed out of plastics taken from trash. 

The penguins meet you as you enter the door.
Then you see this magnificent bird. 

Another beautiful bird made from plastic throw aways

My favorite, the rooster. 
Different angle of a beautiful  work of art. 


The whale was one of our favorites. 
Picture the jellyfish at night and you can see the beauty.
The dolphins are magnificent. 
In the main building. 
I can’t pass up a picture of a koi.

An evening and an afternoon at the Gardens is well worth the time invested.


Good hunting, good fishing and good luck.  Hank


Stay Warm 


The Great Moose Hunt is Planned

The thought pattern started at least 10 years ago.  The conversations with fellow hunters that had shot a lot of big game also started 10 years ago.  Where do you go to do this and how do they taste?  Moose are a really big animal if you hunt the bulls.  How is all this done and where is the best opportunity?  The research was then started over a period of time.

A bull moose sniffs the air for pheromones during the autumn rut in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

That is what we hope to shoot. 

Somehow I have gotten on e-mail lists for hunting brokers that represent different types of lodges and hunting opportunities not only in North America, but all over the world.  I have never used one, but they seem to have access to some really interesting hunts in prime places with decent prices.  I enjoy contacting lodges and listening to the owners tell me about what they have to offer, and then make my decision as to whether this will work for me.



Click on the pic or link to price and buy from Leatherman. 

Now we get to the requirements.  If you read my book, “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman,” I am no longer into roughing it.  I want a nice lodge with a private room and private bath, three squares per day, fully guided, preferably one on one with the guide, and a good processor in the vicinity.  No more horse back trips as I have done all that, and a four wall tent is out of the question.  Things really start to narrow down with those requirements and the price goes up too.  I am somewhat flexible.  But I will not live out in the woods in a tent anymore.  If my wife comes along, and she likes to go, flexibility goes out the window.

When looking at Alaska, there are some really good hunts up there, but that is out of the question.  It is a little over my budget on some of the hunts.  Bringing back meat from the hunt is a major goal, and with the quantity you get with a moose, I would not get it all.

I talked with my good friend Bob Barlow with Barlow Outfitting in Wyoming and a moose tag takes preference points.  I know what it is like getting points for elk in Wyoming and it is probably cheaper to buy the general tag.  He was just not encouraging that getting a tag the first time without points would happen.  As I looked at other western states, the same problem existed.  This is a popular animal to hunt and they are limited in numbers.  Each state wants to maintain a healthy and robust population so they control the number of animals they are willing to have hunted. 

The next stop was to move north to Canada.  Here the opportunities get really plentiful.  Ontario is close to my home and there is a lot of place to go.  You have drive in or fly in to a remote lodge.  The fly ins that I reviewed had limitation on the amount of meat you could take out.  Each one was not a place that I could take my wife, and she wanted to go on this trip.  Success rates are high and you have the opportunity to fish for walleye.  Adding a bear or a wolf was a possibility on many of the lodges.  I did see some of the lodges where you would hunt one on one with the guide and that always gets my attention.  For this animal, I really prefer it as I don’t want a bad shot made and then an animal coming over mad to find out who did that.

After checking fifteen spots, I just could not settle on one that made me say, “I want to go here.”  I did not call anyone either to get more information and that is my mistake.  Pam wants to go, and I want to keep that in mind.

Moving over to Manitoba, there was Webbers Lodges. I had shot Caribou with them before and knew the process.  You drive or fly to Thompson in northern Manitoba, take a King Air to the Lodge at Little Duck, and a float plane to a camp. That was a really great experience, but they were out of my budget for this hunt.   There are also several lodges in the area, but all of them were out of my budget.  If you want to hunt Caribou, Webbers or the Lodge at Little Duck are excellent choices.

I skipped over Saskatchewan and went straight to Alberta and focused on the northwest part of the province.  I like the area because it is close to British Columbia.  There were a lot of lodges that met my requirements and several had their hunters bring their wives with them.  I focused around the Peace River Region because there were a lot of lodges in that area.  Prices were good and some phone calls were made.

After checking out the sites, I found one that really got my attention.  All the requirements were met even though Pam and I would not stay at the lodge, we would be just 20 minutes away in Spirit River but would still take advantage of the food and amenities offered by the outfitter.  I made the phone call after studying the website for several days and we visited for about 30 min.  The decision was made and I booked the hunt.  That is the good news.  (

The bad news was the hunt would not take place this year but in 2019 during the first week of October.  However, I was put on a cancellation list, and if someone cancels, I will be in line to hunt in 2018.  This is a long drive and should take us about 3 days with gear and all the coolers I will be bringing along.  We will have the opportunity to see some really great country through the Dakotas into Montana and up to Alberta.  We generally do not drive hard, but take a lot of breaks and if there is some interesting scenery or site to stop at we do that.  That is going up. Coming back, things change drastically.  We drive really hard and into the night because we have meat that is frozen and packed in dry ice.  We have never had any spoilage in the past, and the meat, after a hard several days drive, has always been hard frozen.

I found early on, the places with excellent success are booked early and you are lucky if you can get into one the same year you book.  We will be patiently waiting for 2019 and maybe, if lucky, a cancellation will take place.

Check out my Facebook page as there is some excellent discussion on ammunition to use.  I have shot a Buffalo at 300 yards with my 300 win mag.  I used a Nosler Partition round 180 gr.  It took two shots to bring him down.  After the first one he just stood there and the guide said, “Another round,” and he fell.  I like quick kills. 

I watched a video of a moose hunter.   After the first broadside shot on the moose, the beast came charging toward the hunter and he had to shoot two more times.  I did not like to see that and would prefer a couple of steps and then dropping.  I do not know where he made his first shot on the animal.  

One of the people writing to me said to go to a 200 to 220 gr bullet.  I will probably buy some and do some shooting.  Then I will compare the drop between the 180 gr and see how much elevation I need to adjust to compensate for the added weight.  I am not going to tame the moose for a pet.   2019 can’t come too soon. 

Good hunting Good fishing and Good Luck, Hank

Recipe of the Week


Venison Chili

  • 1 pound dry kidney beans
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1 pound venison stew meat, in 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 28-ounce can tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion,diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large green chili pepper, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup masa flour or all purpose flour
  • Substitute elk, buffalo, caribou or moose for the venison. 

Rinse beans and place in a large soup kettle. Add 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoon salt; cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil gently for about 2 hours, until beans are tender. Brown meat in a large skillet containing oil and garlic. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and saute for an hour. Drain the beans and add 1½ quarts water, tomatoes, onion, peppers, cumin and parsley. Simmer for an hour, then add meat mixture. Stir masa flour into ½ cup water to form a paste and blend into chili to thicken. Simmer for about half an hour, adjust the seasonings and serve. Nothing satisfies more than chili on a cold night in deer camp!

North Platte River Hunt


The second day we were back at the sand pits.  The wind continued out of the northwest at 20 to 25 mph.  This is western Nebraska and it does get windy at times.  After the decoys were out and the layout blinds in position, we began to wait for the first flight of birds.  Geese locked up to the southeast of us and just began locking up and floating with their wings cupped into the wind.  Gripping my gun I was really tensed up and ready to knock open the spring loaded covers.

The Canada Geese are locked up and coming toward us.

All of a sudden they just stopped coming and flew off to the south.  We were shocked and all three of us said we should have had those birds.  Another group came from the north turned and started into the wind, then turned away. What was it?


We got out of our blinds to check what it was that was turning them off.  There it was right behind us.  We had failed to put out a stack of silhouette Canada decoys and they were stacked upon the bank right behind us.  We fixed that in short order and distributed them along the shoreline.

RedHead Canada Goose Sleeper Shells

RedHead Canada Goose Sleeper Shells

Click on the link or the pic to buy from Bass Pro. 

It was dark as we put out the decoys and left a dozen of sleepers all in a neat stack.  This was immediately corrected and we put them out where they would be effective.  That changed the nature of things and we immediately had some geese come in and finish.  It was easy shooting.  Slam, the guide’s dog, was quick into the water to haul them in to the shore.

When I hunted in the club north of Tekamah  it seemed that everyone had a different type of shell they were trying out.  I was glad to see that our guide had the same shell we were shooting.  He stated that he had better luck with this shell than others he had used. I could not agree more.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Metal Waterfowl Shotshells - 12 Gauge - #2 Shot - 1-1/4 oz. - 25 Rounds

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Metal Waterfowl Shotshells – 12 Gauge – #2 Shot – 1-1/4 oz. – 25 Rounds

This is the best shotgun shell that I have ever used and highly recommend it for your waterfowl shooting.  I shoot 3.5 inch shells for geese and 3 inch shells for ducks.  The way we were having birds decoy to us coming right into our face, I could have used 3 inch shells on the geese.  


As it got more light it began to thin out.  Up to this time we had not shot one duck and had not seen any.  We are basically duck hunters, but will take geese if that is all to harvest.  Little by little they got higher and finally quit altogether.  The wind was still up and had gotten stronger.  The decision was made to take a break and come back about 3 p.m.  That would give us a couple more hours of daylight as shooting time ended at sundown. 


Lunch was at the Windy Gap again and my partner and I decided to eat tonight at Ole’s Big Game Bar and Steakhouse.  If you come to Paxton, you must eat at least once at Ole’s. 


Back at the pit by 02:30 p.m. we got the decoys all out and got in the layout blinds.  Once inside, I was warm and comfortable and after lunch it was hard keeping my eyelids open to watch for birds coming back from the fields for water and sand.  A single duck came in and was quickly dispatched.  Slam was out of his camo covered crate and immediately into the water to retrieve the bird.  The dog was a really strong swimmer and it was fun to watch the dog work.  


The evening came and the sun sat on the horizon.  It was all over for the day.  Shooting was good in the morning, but the afternoon produced just the one duck.  The next morning the plan was to go to the North Platte River.  That was the beauty of hunting with this outfitter.  There were lots of choices from two different rivers to sand pits and cornfields. 


Next morning the temperature really plunged and the wind picked up out of the north.  We headed to the North Platte River for some action.  Decoys were place in the calm waters and were set up above the river in a blind along the edge of an embankment.   


Looking west out of the blind, you can see the decoys in the calm water and along the sandbar. Up against the embankment with the wind at our back created a lot of calm water along the shore line.  Perfect for birds wanting a drink.



Looking east out of the blind you can see the decoys in the calm water next to the sand bar.  This is perfect duck water and with the good strong north wind we felt we would have some excellent shooting.  



That is Riley our guide, adjusting the decoys.  Here is a good shot of the blind after it is opened up.  


We stayed till noon and did not see a bird.  The general feeling was not positive and we picked up and headed for home by 2 p.m.  Even though we were not coming home with a possession  limit of ducks, we did have some really good goose shooting and it was an excellent trip.  The food in the two restaurants was good and plenty of it.  The motel had really good accommodations and we were able to get our coffee in the morning.  They serve a breakfast in the morning, but we left at 5 a.m. so we used the micro wave in our rooms to heat up a grocery store breakfast.  This more than filled us up. 


The equipment used by the outfitter was excellent and the locations we hunted were also very good.  A great guide with his dog, and a total good hunting experience left us both with the feeling to try again next year.  It is called hunting, not shooting. 




Click on the banner for great buys. 


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck Hank. 


Goose Breast Stir-Fry

Chop desired vegetables into bite sized pieces such as:

  • green and red peppers
  • mushrooms
  • snow peas
  • squash
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • goose breasts
  • milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil
  • soy sauce

Prior to cooking, marinate breasts in milk to tenderize and get rid of the blood. Be sure to rinse meat thoroughly fully removing extra milk. Cut breasts into ¼ inch strips for ease of consumption and cooking. Use a wok or frying pan with hot oil to cook the vegetables in order of needed cooking length. Add garlic to taste. Remove vegetables from the pan when they are done, holding them in a large mixing bowl. Once the vegetables are done, brown meat through and add soy sauce to taste. Mix vegetables back into the pan, cooking until all of the ingredients are heated through. Place on top of a bed of steamed rice for a great meal.


High Plains Duck Hunt

The high plains stretch from Grand Island, Nebraska to the Rocky Mountains in the west.  The countryside gains altitude as it goes west and the air gets dryer.  In addition, the winter temperatures become milder with the altitude, lack of humidity and the brilliant sunshine.  This is farming country with small towns and villages and thousands of acres of wheat, corn, and beans. It is also an opportunity for ducks and geese to hang around as there is plenty of food, water and sand.   I know when God looks down on the land and the people here He is pleased.

Chimney Rock

 Chimney Rock is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks for pioneer travelers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, a symbol of the great western migration. Located approximately four miles south of present-day Bayard, at the south edge of the North Platte River Valley, Chimney Rock is a natural geologic formation, a remnant of the erosion of the bluffs at the edge of the North Platte Valley. A slender spire rises 325 feet from a conical base. The imposing formation, composed of layers of volcanic ash and brule clay dating back to the Oligocene Age (34 million to 23 million years ago), towers 480 feet above the North Platte River Valley. 

My wife is from Sidney,  in the panhandle of the state and is home to Cabelas.  Before Bass Pro came to Council Bluffs, a lot of sporting goods were purchased by me at the store in the town.  Whenever we visit the town, we visit the store.

Every time we drove west in the fall and winter, the ducks and Canada geese were very plentiful as we traveled along the Platte river.  West of North Platte the river has separated into two streams, the North and South Platte each going in a distinct direction. This is duck and goose heaven.

Last summer I decided not to renew my membership in the club I had hunted for 17 years.  The owner of the land and leader of the club had died and it just wasn’t the same.  In addition, the hunting was poor as the birds seemed to stay longer in South Dakota, and there was now six hunting blinds in a square mile.  That was too much competition for me.

After a search of commercial hunting spots in three states, it was decided to go with Central Nebraska Outfitters.  Jim Martinosky came with some good references from people I know in the area.  ( Follow the link to learn more of the operation.

Jim recommended several times to come out and all of them were later than what I have been used to.  That is because the season is longer and later in that part of Nebraska.  You can hunt ducks and geese in January and that month can be the best of the season.  January across Nebraska does take a risk.  While the weather is generally milder than back east, the land can get some really rough weather in the form of severe blizzards.  I did not feel the risk was worth it. and settled on mid December.  Invited were several people like myself that I had hunted with over the years and were also former club members.  They agreed that to play it safe with the date.  Out of the three people I asked to go along, only one could make it on that date.  While Jim prefers three to four hunters at a setting, we still hunted with only ourselves and the guide.

Paxton, Nebraska is a village of about 523 people.  The highlight of the town is Ole’s  Big Game Bar and Steakhouse.  Ole was a big game hunter and hunted all over the world.  The restaurant is famous as it is full of mounts Ole harvested in his trips across the world.  He must have spent a fortune on traveling the world and hunting. Besides a couple of places to eat, there is a Days Inn on the south edge of the town and it is neat and clean, and we stayed there the duration of our trip.

You walk in the door at Ole’s and you are greeted by a polar bear in a glass box. 
Inside Ole’s you are greeted with mounts everywhere that Ole has shot and collected. 

Jim’s son Riley was our guide and met us at 05:15 our first morning.  The most important member of the group was Riley’s black lab, Slam.  This fine boy was probably one of the best and behaved labs I have ever hunted with.  He is a two year old and Riley has trained him well.  Labs are generally social, but not always and this was the case.  Slam was a one man dog and stayed close to Riley whenever we were out of the blinds.  He just  basically ignored us and I have seen this before.

We went to the South Platte river to start the hunt. The company has leased land along the South Platte and one of their blinds was positioned on the bank.  The first thing I noticed was that the bank was quite high and we were elevated above the river.  The river was not more than knee deep and had a sand bottom.  Riley did not want us to wade out as he took care of this himself.  He put out two dozen decoys in the calm water.  The current looked quite swift but was narrow so there was lots of calm water around and next to the bank.  Sand bars were everywhere and the river just wound its way through the bottoms.

Morning on the South Platte River.  Notice the ice flows on the river. 

The company manufactures blinds and these are excellent.  Made of one inch square tube steel, they are then wrapped in canvas and native grass covering the blind.  Roomy inside, there is room for four to five hunters with seating and a shelf in front of you to pile shells and other things we buy at the sporting goods store and never use. We all buy various pieces of junk and never use it, but we bring it anyway.

The blind we were in.  Tube steel wrapped with canvas then covered with native grasses

make this blind a perfect hiding place. 


There was slush ice in the river as the temp had been well below freezing during the night, but as it got lighter the temp came up and the ice disappeared.  Ducks and geese would fly up and down the river.  This would be a new type of shooting for us.  A couple of Teal came in and we scared the daylights out of them. Then they flew away.  I commented that this was the first time dead ducks had every flown.  Ducks in small groups would work us, but did not come in for a shot.  We also had some geese that came up the river at tree top level, and we scared them also.  It was more like pass shooting and neither one of us was prepared for that type of hunting.  We were used to lake hunting where the birds circled, locked up and came in.

Looking up river.  The decoys are next to the bank and on the opposite side in the calm water. 

Here they would come up the river, lock up and come into the decoys in the calm water.  You must be on your best behavior.  After a couple of screw ups, Riley said “we got the rust off now and we should start killing some birds.”

After the sun had risen fully the traffic just stopped.  It was time for lunch and we needed to make new plans.

The Windy Gap in Paxton sells lunch and dinner. The food is just basic and good with plenty of it. Riley wanted to move to one of the sand pits near the interstate.  These ponds existed because material was dredged out for road bed when the interstate was built.  We had a really strong northwest wind and we would be in layout blinds next to the calm water with the wind at our back.

This was a new experience for both of us.  The decoys were put out in the calm water and we were about ten feet from the waters edge in the layout blind.  There is a right way and a wrong way to function in these blinds.  Getting in and out is not easy for old dogs like myself and my hunting partner.  You must rise up from a partially laying down position and the side covers will pop open.  I found that laying my gun on my right side would not give me time enough to mount the gun to my shoulder.  The solution was to lay the gun on my chest with the barrel pointing out the bottom end of the blind.  This way the gun would be pulled up into my shoulder as the sides of the blind popped open and I rose up.

The decoys were in the calm water with the blinds just ten feet from the water edge.  The birds would

lock up and come straight into your face.  It can’t get easier than that. 


We started hunting around 2:30 PM. It not take long and a flock of ten came into us.  With the wind at our back they came straight toward the blind and right in our face.  We screwed this up due to not being able to function properly in the operation of the layout blind.  This was a learning curve.

There are the three layout blinds in a row.  Riley is on the left, my partner in the middle and mine is open

Shortly after and a discussion on how to function,  a single Canada came to us, locked up and my hunting partner popped up with the gun mounted in his shoulder and plunked a really nice Canada.  The dog was out side of his hiding place at his master’s command and into the water to retrieve the goose.  Watching the dog work is the highlight of any hunting trip.

The sun hit the horizon in the west and it was time to fold it up.  While we only had one goose for the day, the experience was a really good learning curve.  The plus side was doing some different kind of waterfowl hunting that we had never done before.  Tomorrow is another day.


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck Hank

A Favorite Recipe


Duck Schnitzel

  • 2-4 duck breasts
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup Cajun spices (any)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 10 ounce jar of brown mushroom gravy

Start with 2-4 duck breasts. Remove all silver skin and sinews. Place between layers saran wrap and pound thin (less than 1/8″ thick) with a meat mallet. Place in a Tupperware container and cover with buttermilk. Leave in the refrigerator for 3 days. Remove and pat with paper towels. Mix 1 cup flour with ¼ cup of any Cajun spices shake well to mix. Cover the moist breasts in the mixture, shake off excess. Beat 2 eggs and ¼ cup milk. Mix 1 cup bread crumbs and ¼ Cup Parmesan cheese topping. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Dredge the breasts in the egg wash then cover with the crumb/cheese topping. Over medium heat, fry the breasts until golden brown and medium rare, don’t overcook or burn them, adjust the heat as necessary. Cover with a jar of brown mushroom gravy (any brown gravy will do). Serve with au gratin potatoes and red cabbage.

The Great Fall Turkey Hunt

Fall turkey season arrived and I needed to wait until the deer hunters had filled their larder.  My favorite spot north of Fort Calhoun Nebraska was still available, but with the pay to hunt fields right adjacent to my favorite spot, things had gotten really lean.   


Wild turkey in tall winter browned grass

The nice thing about hunting turkeys in the fall is that you can shoot either hens or toms and there are always more hens available and some are really big.  In Nebraska you can harvest two birds in the fall.  Not so in Iowa.  With my favorite turkey spot moving down the ladder, it was off to a newly found place.

Last spring I had two really great experiences on hunting spring turkeys on new ground. No one hunted this ground and the landowner had given me a key to let myself in when I wanted to hunt birds.  How much better can it get than that? I had great luck last spring and was feeling very confident that I would have the same luck this fall.  

I harvested this bird around 10 a.m.  An old turkey hunter told me that most big birds are harvested between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.  He was not the biggest one I saw on the hunt, but he was respectable.  The day before I had fouled up an opportunity on the biggest turkey I had ever seen.  There are a lot of birds on this farm and they are all nice size.

I drove out one morning and got to the farm around 08:30.  I had this all to myself and I kept patting myself on the back. I pulled into the gate and paused for about 15 minutes as I have seen birds coming out of the steep hills to my left.  It can pay just to wait a little bit and see if something happens.

Nothing happened.  It pays just to wait a little bit and let the woods settle down and something might step out that would look good on the platter.  Not this time. After parking the truck, I headed back to the site where the tom was shot last spring.  The reason for this was the birds had come out of the woods and crossed the open fields to the next set of timber across the valley.  The bank is really steep in this location and I pushed myself  in between two standing trees.  My leaf suit has a lot of green in it so it was not worn this time.  I merely had on brown pants and coat and my head and face covered.  It would sure be nice to know what colors turkey could see.  


My hiding spot was not the best, but a hunter could see well and still be mixed in with the timber and ground cover.  This was where I shot the tom last spring.  


If you look to the left of the picture there is a row of trees that follows a shallow drainage ditch toward the hill in which I am hiding.  Birds had moved down that tree line heading straight for my hiding place last year.  The game plan was to be where birds were seen running in the spring.  Is that good or not?  I do not know, but it is a good place to start.  Anyway, I had the whole farm to myself and could move around to different locations.

What is amazing as I sat there for an hour was that I did not see one deer.  Usually deer are moving from the timber behind me across the fields in front to the woods to the east.  The ground is a venerable grocery store with lots of game roaming around.  The landowner hunts the deer, but no one else hunts the ground besides me.  How much better can it get than that.

Nothing happened so it was time to move.  I moved straight across from a hill with pine trees at the top and crop ground right behind that.

I have seen turkey move along the tree line at the top of the hill.  To the right of the picture you can see a pine tree. I nestled myself back in against that tree.  It was a little awkward, but being well hidden was the first order of business.  If the birds came up along the tree line, which they had done before, they would be easily spotted.  By facing uphill I would be able to spot anything moving down the tree line from the small corn field.  Getting myself really comfortable was a little difficult, but it was accomplished. 

What a beautiful day with light breezes and warm temps while sitting somewhat in the sunshine.  My eyes began to droop and I was having a hard time staying awake.  I generally bring my Kindle along and read while sitting and waiting for a bird to appear.  This time I didn’t and fell sound asleep.  I guessed it must have lasted 30 minutes, but will never know if something passed me by.  Hens will make a small purring sound and you can hear that if you are close.  That happened to me one time before along the river bottom and the birds went by me.  A shot was made after waking up on a nice size hen.  Nothing like that happened on this day.  It was time to move on. 

East of the farm house is a deep ravine, and a dam stretches across backing up water to form a small lake.  There are a number of dams along the length of ravine forming some nice looking water.  Walking across the top of the dam, tracks and droppings were spotted going both ways and so this should be a good place to hide out.  It was early afternoon when the move was made.  


If you look to the center right you can see the lake with the dam to the left.  Just beyond the edge of the brush, the trail is very steep and it was here and along the dam where the signs were found.  Pushing my self back into the brush, it was possible to find a spot where good visibility was possible toward the dam and in the front of me.  The plan was to sit here for an hour and see if something came out of the woods behind me or along the top of the dam.  

The weather could not have been more beautiful.  Sitting in a comfortable position again, I felt my eyes droop and soon my head began to nod.  This time the fight was on to stay awake and see if something came up along the top of the dam and up the trail.  The whole time that I was on the farm, not one deer was seen.  After sitting at this location, it was time to give it up.

The next morning I was up before the crack of dawn.  This was the last day of the turkey season in Iowa and I had waited too long to get up to this farm.  The reason was that so many birds were seen in the spring.  The belief is this would just be a “turkey shoot.”  Determination for the last day was running high and it was dark when I left the house.  It was like being on a mission.  

The plan was to head to the northwest corner of the farm and hide out at this location at daybreak.  Traffic in the spring had really been strong as they moved south to the hills and timber to the west.  

The picture below shows the first spot. 

This shot was taken after leaving the location for other places.  Nothing came through.

The above picture is the second location.  Turkeys in the spring would work along the tree line and then move up the hill to the right of the picture.  Right in the middle of the tree line and back about ten yards in the woods, a hiding place was found.  Nothing came by and no sounds were heard.  Also, there was no evidence birds had lately ever been near this location.  That was a bad call, and the clock kept ticking to the end of the season. 

The third location was where I had hid the day before.  In the spring, turkeys also came out of the woods at this location and pecked there way across the fields to the wooded areas on the east side of the farm. Sitting at this location did produce some excellent entertainment as deer just poured out of the woods to my right not more than 15 yards away.  I was downwind from them, but they knew something was not right.  One looked straight at me and you could see her sniff the air trying to figure out what was there.  

Then came the usual huff a couple of times and she would stomp her foot.  Then standing still like a statue, she would stomp her foot again.  Finally she turned and walked off and moved out to my front about 30 yards.  There she stood and stared.  Other deer came out and would stop and stare then move on.  If a person was hunting does, this would have been the spot to have been as a dozen deer came out of the woods to my right and passed by me.  That was really entertaining, but I was there for turkey.  

Look at her getting ready to give the ground the big stomp. 

There is another one that came out of the woods and just briefly stared and left. 

From this location I moved east across the dam on the ravine and tried the location there.  The pictures are up above.  By this time, I was loosing the spirit and had reconciled myself to the fact that this was a disaster, and I was skunked.   A call was made to the landowner and thanked him for allowing me to hunt his ground.  He was amazed that a really nice big hen or tom had not been harvested.  

I will be back in the spring. The great fall turkey hunt was a disaster. 

Paste the link below in your browser and enjoy.  Sent to me on Facebook.


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.   Hank

                                Bang-Bang Turkey

  • 1 turkey breast marinated in salt, sugar and vinegar for 10 minutes
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into matchstick pieces
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons red chili oil
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter, creamed with sesame oil


  • white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons scallions

Slice cucumber into matchstick pieces and set aside. Cook turkey breast in an oven/frying pan/on the grill. Allow to cool completely. Use a rolling pin or other mallet to tenderize the turkey breast (this is where the “bang” comes in!). After meat is tenderized, use forks to shred the meat. Combine cucumber sticks with shredded turkey and arrange on a small serving plate. Combine soy sauce, sugar, chili oil, pepper and creamed peanut butter. Pour sauce over turkey, garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.


Its Tradition

After 17 years of hunting ducks and geese north of Tekamah, it was time for me to find another spot or quit hunting ducks altogether.  Giving up something that you have done since you were a boy is not an easy bridge to cross.  Besides the hunting experience, I grew up during the season dining on freshly shot Mallard ducks.  It’s tradition.


Fortunately for me, my wife is from western Nebraska and her father and grandfather also hunted ducks and geese on the Panhandle of the state and the Platte Rivers that flowed just north of the farm where she was raised.  This is a blessing for me since dining on freshly killed game was also a tradition in her family.  For her, hunting is a family tradition.

Here they come

The owner of the ground where the hunting club was located had been an avid duck hunter since he was a boy.  He grew up hunting in one of the premier duck and goose commercial spots near Tekamah.  He ran a great club and the swamp that was created by him was just one half mile from the Missouri River.  Migration traffic could not have been better.

Our clubs leader now deceased.  He is missed. 

This was gentleman hunting at its finest.  Sunken pits with heat and comfortable seating was available.  The best part of hunting there was the dogs.  Several of the club members had outstanding dogs and we never lost a cripple.  The really nice part of watching the dogs work was a hunter never had to get out of the blinds.  Forty acres of open water was supplied by a pump that was controlled from inside one of the blinds.  By turning on a bubbler during the coldest of weather, we would always have open water.  As I write this today, it seems like all the tradition I have enjoyed and known throughout my life is slipping away.  Buy my book from Amazon or Lulu and read about  “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”

My good friend John

The club was managed on a professional basis and only one person would call the shot.  Everyone obeyed the owner’s rule which was safety first and we will all have a good experience.  I never dreamed that this might all come for an end and I would lose a good friend who sat next to me in the blind many times.  Two years ago he died of cancer.

A good day for Mallards. 

The club was managed last year by one of the members who lived in Tekamah.  Everyone held deep respect for him.  The shooting last season was terrible.  Pam and I were in Japan on our yearly tour and I was able to text a close friend in the club who kept me informed.  Getting back during the middle of November, I had it all planned.  However, the weather was so nice the birds never left the Dakotas and when they did it was all over.  Last year I went fewer times than I had ever done in the years I was a member of the club.

Junior bringing in a really nice big goose. 

A new arrangement was made by the family with some of the members, but I and several of the long standing club members just felt that the loss of a good friend and fellow hunter brought everything to an end for several of us.  


So having said that, a few of the old guard and myself decided to look around at hunting at one of the commercial sites in Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.  Turning to the internet, the search was on.


The ducks all come over South Dakota on their way south to Tekamah and so a check was made of spots on the flyway south.


The first state that was looked at was South Dakota which is a fisherman and hunters’ paradise.  The state has it all from fishing the Missouri River System to hunting for big and small game.  The eastern part of the state is known as the “Prairie Pothole Region.”  This area was scarred by the glaciers and has created lakes and pothole all over the area and is a major destination on the flyway south. It also is a major breeding ground for various types of waterfowl.  Because I fish the Glacial Lakes Region, I am familiar with this country.


Licensing for me was a problem.  The state is divided into four zones and you pick the zone you want to hunt in and then apply for a license.  There were a lot of lodges, but this just seemed too weather dependent for me and my friends.  One of the many spots also featured pheasant hunting.  South Dakota has outstanding pheasants.  All the outfitters were guided and all showed excellent results from previous hunts.  There were fully equipped lodges to the hunting spot only and you supplied your own food and lodging.


Next, I took a look at Missouri.  I found a few places south of me along the Missouri River.  One lodge provided outstanding services from a first class lodge, meals, and everything supplied.  You would bring your gun, clothing, and ammunition.  It was over my budget as I also hunted elk in the fall in Idaho and had an outstanding experience.

Since my wife is from Sidney, Nebraska, we have traveled I-80 across the state many times a year and especially in the fall.  We have always noticed the large flocks of ducks and geese west of Kearney, Nebraska to the state line.  There is a definite weather shift as you go west due to the increase of the altitude change.  The air gets dryer and seems to be more like Denver weather.  Snow will not necessarily hang around a long time.  Also, there has been a shift in farming practices along the Platte River bottom lands.  The crops previously planted were primarily winter wheat, but now has shifted to corn, beans, and wheat.  Corn is candy to ducks and geese.

Checking out some hunting spots along the Platte River, I found some people at Paxton, Nebraska that operated blinds along the Platte River.  I am very familiar with that area as a close college friend of mine has farms south of Paxton.  When my wife and I drive out to Sidney, we stop and have lunch or dinner with them.  Therefore, my first call was to Ed to find out about the owners.  He came back with really good recommendations.  

Central Nebraska Outfitters ( was the outfitter we decided to work with.  After contacting Jim Martinosky the owner, I liked what I heard and then contacted a couple of club members that I had hunted with over the years to see if they would go with me.  One could make it and the decision was made.  There is no lodging, but Paxton has a Days Inn and we get a special rate for hunting with Jim.  The motel has a room for cleaning birds and if we do not want to do that, they have people in town that will clean them for us at a reasonable fee per bird.  The motel also has tags and freezer facilities for us to store game until we leave.  This is gentleman hunting and for me that is tradition.

Bringing in another duck.  Gone are the days. 

Food is on our own also, but with a big breakfast and dinner, all we both need is a snack around noon.  There are restaurants in Paxton that open up early. I know about the restaurants since I have eaten in Paxton many times.   After all, this is a farming community and people are up early to get the work done or just sit and talk about work and weather in the local cafes.

Jim recommended we plan on hunting ducks Mid-December as the birds migrate out of the sand hill lakes and pot holes around that time and head to the Platte River and the surrounding fields for food and water.  The plan is to hunt the river bottom in the morning and move to the fields in the afternoon.  It looks like we will be hunting all day, and it can’t get any better than that.

I have always experienced the best duck hunting when it was really cold in late November and early December.  On December 11th, we will be heading to Paxton, Nebraska for three days of what we hope will be some fine gentleman hunting for Mallard ducks.


Good Hunting, good Fishing, and good Luck.  Hank


What to Do After the Hunt

There he is already for the skinning and being sent to the processor.
Just look at the meat on him.  We have friends that will be well pleased.

This was amazing.  The elk was harvested in the first hour of the first day and after it was gutted, skinned and taken to the processor, we had nothing to do.  Our guide said to Pam and I, ” What do you people want to do as I am yours for the next several days?”

We had to wait for rigor to set into the animal and then have it processed.  That would take a day and a half and we would pick up the processed elk on the third day from Matt’s Meats in St. Anthony, Idaho.  I previously discussed how strongly we felt about the people and the procedures at Matt’s.  This business is outstanding and the people are right there ready to help you and make sure you are satisfied with their work.

With the west entrance of Yellowstone only 60 miles away, we decided to take a drive up to the park and look around, grab lunch and then be back in time for dinner.  My first trip to the park was 52 years ago when I was a boy.  Most of the roads were single lane, and the animals were thick.  Bear, elk, buffalo, and moose were right along the side of the roads.  Signs were posted not to feed the bear, and they would go right up to your car and look for a handout.  As I remember they were all black bear and we never saw a grizzly.

My next visit was 35 years ago with my wife and son. My, how things had changed in such a short period of time.  Animals, it seemed, had all but disappeared, although we saw some buffalo at an extreme distance and a few cow elk.  There were two lane roads everywhere and we had to stand in line to get up to see anything.

Since it was late September we assumed there would be no crowds and we both could look around, have lunch, and be back in time for dinner.  Wow, this was not what happened.  The park was packed with people and at times we were stopped in traffic.  Later as we crept along there was a cow elk standing across a stream by the road, and people were stopping their cars to take pictures.  Both lanes were stopped and shortly came the park service with lights on and got the traffic moving.  After having just shot a beautiful bull elk, a solitary cow was of no interest.  Anyway, we had both seen plenty of cow elk.  Show us a giant bull and we both would get excited.

She is over there if you look real hard

Next the traffic came to a mere crawl.  Lo and behold, there was a really nice bull buffalo by the side of the road munching on some grass.  What was more interesting was there was a woman who had moved to at least within 15 feet of the animal and was taking pictures.  Other people were gathering around and we wanted out of there as quickly as possible.  They must be used to the people because I have hunted buffalo and you do not get close.

I was amazed how close people would get to these animals. 

In South Dakota when I shot a really nice bull several years ago, we stayed out 1000 yards while we stalked him to get into a downwind position.  There were three of us in the procession.  The three of us walked in single file until we were within 300 yards of the beast.  At that point the outfitter said, “You have to take him from here as we will go no closer because he may come over and stomp the living daylights out of us.”  That was my longest shot.  One thing to keep in mind; it is like shooting at a billboard.

Anyway, those people messing around that animal put their lives at risk as buffalo are not a cuddly animal and especially a big bull who may decide he has had enough of being bothered.  We were out of there in short order.

Old Faithful Inn had really changed and Pam and I recognized nothing.  We did make our way to a bench to watch the eruption of Old Faithful.  Right on time it spewed hot water.  That was a little surprising too.  Maybe there is a reader out there who has seen the eruption lately.  This one was nothing like I remember as  boy and a young man with my family.  It could not have gotten over 50 feet high and there was just a spewing noise.

I have seen better eruptions in my younger years. 

When Pam and I had visited the park years ago, the thing really spewed skyward and made a lot of noise.  Maybe this was just a weak episode and it still does its magnificent thing, but we were disappointed.  After a quick lunch and with all the people, we decided to head back to the ranch, take a nap and wait for dinner.

Back at the ranch we ran into our guide and we discussed our experience at the park.  He said he had not been there in decades as it was just too crowded.  There were some hunters at the ranch that were hunting cows, or I should say shooting cows because the ranch has an over abundance of them.  One of the hunters had crippled a cow with a gut shot and the animal could not be found.  We were invited to come along and see if we could find where she had gone to lie down and die.

At the general area we started walking among some of the tallest sage brush plants I have ever seen.  In some places they were like small scrub trees and were taller than Pam.  The area was crisscrossed with various game trails and the cow could have taken any one of them and curled up under a sage brush plant to die.

Our guide and a guide from the group sent us off in a direction they thought the animal might have taken off to lie down.  Pam and I would spread out about 15 yards apart and move forward looking under all the plants we could see.  After going about 100 yards, we would make a sweeping circle back to the original starting point.  We found nothing and not even a fresh track.  There was no blood trail since the animal was gut shot and the group would just have to find it.  It wasn’t meant to be and the animal was never found even though there was plenty of effort.  The critters of the plains need to eat too.

Back at the ranch it was getting close to evening and our guide wanted to drive around the ranch and look for big giant bulls.  We found them and it was truly amazing how beautiful some these animals were and the development of their antlers was truly amazing.



These three bulls are truly magnificent, and if you are looking to kill a really big animal this is the place to come.  Pam said, “I bet those are really tough.  The young ones eat better and for us that is what it is all about.”  I cannot disagree with that statement. 


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank


Elk Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • your favorite spaghetti sauce

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with milk. Add bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic powder; mix well. Add ground meat and knead with your hands until well blended. Form into meatballs about the size of golf balls. Brown the meatballs on all sides then put them in a pan of spaghetti sauce and simmer, covered, for an hour or more.  We like to cook them all day in a crock pot with plenty of sauce.  A good Merlot will finish off the meal.  Serve with pasta.