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.

Wave�


Wave�

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.  (http://www.mikesoutfitting.com/)

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. 

 
 

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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.  (www.centralnebraskaoutfitters.com) 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.

Orvis

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.

Orvis

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
 

Garnish:

  • 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 (http://www.centralnebraskaoutfitters.com/) 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.

AIRSFT-1_300x250

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

Orvis

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.

Successful Idaho Elk Hunt

It was time to head west.  My wife, Pam, and I loaded up the truck and headed to Idaho on September 23rd for the Elk hunt at Juniper Mountain Ranch near St. Anthony, Idaho.  After twelve hours of driving we checked into the Comfort Inn in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  We did not even take a map, but fed the addresses of the places we were going into the navigation unit in the truck.  After that we just let the nice lady in the dash direct us on the way.  The truck is equipped with a navigation unit from the factory.  We all know what it is like to have one in your vehicle.  

 Next morning the nice lady in the dash (navigation unit) headed us toward Jackson, Wyoming and across Teton Mountain Pass.  Now this is a thrilling experience for a flat lander from Iowa.  There is nothing to going up, but coming down the other side is frightening for people like us.  I had the truck all geared down and was still pumping the brakes periodically.  Looking in the rear view mirror the traffic behind me looked like it was backed up all the way to Jackson.  
 
When we got to a place where we could pull over, the locals went around me waving with one finger.  This must be a sign of “hello” and “thank you”, common in the state of Wyoming.  Wow, these people really drive fast down that mountain pass and we saw a lot of tail lights flash on as they rounded the curves ahead of us till they were gone.  I believe a person who wants to start a business in the area should consider brake repair and replacement. 
 

 Once to the bottom we were in Idaho and headed north to Driggs and Tetonia. Then we went west and north up the road the lady in the dash told us to take.  I am familiar with this area as I have hunted with Bob Barlow of Barlow Outfitting for elk and bear. Now here is where it gets interesting.  We were on the right road to the ranch, but the navigation unit took us to someone’s very large home and the lady in the dash said we had arrived and navigation was discontinued.  What is a mother to do. 

 

I rang the bell and a very nice person came to the door and told us we were heading the right way and the landmarks to look for.  Shortly after that we arrived at the ranch.  In this case the navigation unit was wrong and took us short of our destination.  We later found out UPS was having trouble delivering packages to the ranch.  

 

 

Here is our home for the next few days and we were met by the ranch dog Jackson.  A chocolate lab 10 years old and we had a lot in common with Jackson.  He has arthritis due to age and so do I.

Here is Jackson.  Living a dog’s life soaking up some sun and taking it easy and waiting for his next meal or someone to come along and scratch him here and there.

Next we were met at the door by the ranch manager, Mike Smith, who welcomed us to the ranch and took us to our room where we could deposit our gear.  The room was really nice and as advertised it had a full bath and was big and comfortable.  Next we enjoyed the main room in the lodge, met the other hunters that would be staying there and most important, two really nice ladies that prepared all the meals.  The food was outstanding and there were three big meals a day.  Pam and I do not eat like that anymore.  When we were younger we could have packed it all away but now it just packs around our midsection. 

 

 

Good view of the main living area.  Dining area is behind me. 

 

The main area was full of some of the finest mounts I have ever seen. 

 

Now that everyone was here, we went out and shot our firearms and sighted in the rifles.  This is a great idea to make sure your shots are where you want to put them when looking through the scope. After that it was dinner.  Everything was then explained on how things would work.  We were assigned our guides.  Breakfast was at 06:30 and we would leave the lodge at 07:30 to hunt.  

 

The hunting area was similar to my trip to Colorado near Craig several years ago.  Wide open with a lot of sage brush covering the country side.  We went out in a 4WD pick up and headed up a narrow road to try and spot some elk.  The terrain was not what it seemed to be as we looked at it from a distance.  It was way more rugged than it looked.  The process was to move along slowly and look at the sage brush.  The elk will lie down in the morning on the side of the hill in the sun and all you will see is the horns sticking up.  

This is typical and the sage brush will be up and over your knee and to the waist in some areas. 

 It is wide open country. 

 

 

Everywhere you look you have the beauty of the open country and the clear blue sky.  The photo does not capture how blue the sky was.  In Iowa we don’t have that type of scenery. 

 

We kept creeping along the narrow road and stopped periodically to glass the country side.  When all at once not more than 20 yards and up along the side of the road a really nice elk jumped up and took off.  He did not go more than 30 yards.  I looked him over and his antlers had great symmetry and he looked really beefy.  He had a good looking rear end and generally a good looking meaty body.  

 

I said, “I like him.”  The guide said take him if you want to, but we have not really looked over the herd.  The discussion at our orientation was make sure the bull you select is the one you really have fallen in love with as there are a lot of choices.  You pay by how the animal is scored. Pam and I were not looking for a trophy animal and we do not have any shoulder mounts.  All the elk harvested have been for meat with a good looking rack and are European mounts. I shot one trophy and he was tougher than an old boot.  I was told by Mike Branson with Wind River Outfitters to shoot a young bull with a nice rack because you will have the best eating. 

 

The symmetry of the antlers and the fact he was so good looking just convinced me that this was the bull for us.  I asked Pam how she felt about harvesting him and the response was, “This is the one for us.” I would look no further.  My guide asked several times, “Are you sure you want this bull?” He finally said he could not find a thing wrong with him and he had worked at the ranch for over ten years. 

 

The wind was dead calm.  The sun was right in his face so he could not wind us and I believe he was having a hard time seeing us.  I could hardly look into the sun.  We are at 4,800 feet and it is considerably brighter here than back home.  

 

The animal kept moving ahead of us.  When we got to within 30 yards of him he stopped and stared.  Our guide said to take him if he is the one you want.  We stopped and I got out of the truck as quickly as possible and without using shooting sticks, I laid my elbow where the mirror protruded from the truck and brought him into view with the scope.  He immediately turned and walked 10 more yards and turned and looked at us.  He did not run.  After I pulled my sight into the sweet spot, he turned again and stuck his backside at us.  I thought he would trot off.   The guide made some noise that I cannot describe and he turned to the left and was somewhat broadside and stopped.  I did not put a range finder on him as I was going to take a shot the first chance I felt would bring him down.  I felt he was now out about 75 yards.  As I pulled right behind the left shoulder he turned again but it was too late to stop the round as it was on it’s way to the elk.  

 

The round went in right behind the rib cage at about a 30 degree angle so it would travel through the vital areas.  He took three steps and went down.  We slowly walked up to him to make sure he had expired and he was dead.  

 

Pam came up and examined him and said what a beautiful boy he was and look at all the fine looking meat on him.  

 

Look at the symmetry in the antlers. 

 

 

Look at the nice big body on the young boy. 

 

 

Pam really liked this elk and there is nothing better than having your wife go with you providing you have really nice facilities.  

 

 

Our guide John who did an outstanding job for us.  He would not let me help him gut the boy out and when we got back to the ranch, he did everything by himself.  Outstanding preparation and when you get this type of service you feel good about the tip. 

 

 

There he is all hung up and waiting for the skinning and head removal.  Once skinned and the head removed, the ranch quartered him and took him to one of the finest processors in St. Anthony I have ever experienced.  We asked for half pound packages of the burger and the steaks packaged for two people.  We did not take any roasts, but had it all ground to burger.  We eat a lot of burger as it is easy and quick to fix and our friends like the burger best.  We do not share the tenderloin as we eat them ourselves.  How is that for being selfish?  

 

Matt’s Meats in St. Anthony, Idaho did an outstanding job for us.  We got all the meat home, and it was hard as nails.  No loss at all due to thawing.  They did everything just the way we wanted, and I cannot say enough nice things about this business.  These people really know how to take care of you. 

Every once in a while you have a really great and memorable experience, and this was one of them.  I cannot find one thing wrong.  We were both pleased with the whole adventure.  

Sierra Trading Post

Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck, Hank

Planning Another Elk Hunt

January came and it immediately brought to mind the need to apply for my elk tags in Wyoming and possibly New Mexico.

 
A nice looking 6 x 6, but I would satisfied with something smaller.  We want tender meat. 
 

The New Mexico hunt sounded really fantastic as it was highly recommended by a friend in our duck hunting club.  He had great success there although he had some trouble with the altitude.  We are both the same age and I would guess about the same shape.  It met all my requirements of a comfortable lodge, three squares a day, and for a few extra dollars I could hunt one on one with the guide.  I have shared a guide on hunts before with a stranger.  It worked okay, but you have to work at it. If you can have your own for a few extra bucks it is money well spent.

Federal Premium Vital-Shok Nosler Partition Centerfire Rifle Cartridges - .300 Winchester Magnum - 180 Grain
This is the round I shoot.  300 win mag 180 gr Nosler Partition. Click on the picture or the link below and order from Bass Pro.


Federal Premium Vital-Shok Nosler Partition Centerfire Rifle Cartridges – .300 Winchester Magnum – 180 Grain

 

I looked up Moon Valley Outfitters on the Internet and they have a great website that explains who they are and what they are about.  I called down and got pricing and visited with the owner.  He wanted to know where I had hunted and what my physical capabilities were and what my expectations were. He also asked me about distances shot and harvested in the past.  I never tell an outfitter more than I am capable of and it is best to down play what you can do.  Harvesting an animal that is representative of the area is what I expect and hope to harvest.  A trophy is great, but I never plan on it or plan on looking for a trophy.  Meat is the goal as there are mouths to feed, and big old elk are tough. (http://www.moonvalleyoutfitters.com/)

RedHead Silent-Hide Pants for Men - TrueTimber Kanati - 4XL/34
Click on the picture to buy from Bass Pro. 

 

The lodge is in a hard days driving from Omaha, and while I would spend a night on the road going down, I would drive it non stop on the way back.  Hopefully, de-boned meat would be in my coolers. 

New Mexico is a draw state and the outfitter takes care of the application process for you.  All that is required is to give them a credit-card number and you get a copy of the application.

Sierra Trading Post
Too many great buys to list, Shop Now. 
 

I then called my good friend Bob Barlow with Barlow Outfitters.  He was booked up with deer hunters but gave me a recommendation on a private ranch high in the Tetons near Jackson Hole.  I would be hunting with the outfitter as he limits how many people he can take and per Bob, this is gentleman hunting.  That got me interested.

  Sierra Trading Post

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There is no lodging and I would have to stay in Jackson and drive up into the mountains daily and hunt.  Food would be on my own and I was unsure about meat preparation.  The price was a little high compared to New Mexico and I would have to buy the General Tag and not draw as I still do not have enough points to draw and especially for this area.

                                                         

                              Orvis  Field Collection Reversible Hammock Seat Protector / X-large, , X Large

 

Bob’s recommendation was really all it took, but my goal would have been to hunt with him.  I have never had so much fun with a person on a hunt as I have with Bob Barlow.  He is really patient with me and I enjoy his company his hunting experience and knowledge.  I decided to look at fresh country and apply for the license in New Mexico.

In March the bad news came in.  I did not draw in New Mexico and talking with the outfitter, he said if I would have been using a muzzle loader, I might have had a better chance for the area.   I like my Winchester 300 win mag, and while I have a muzzle loader, the 300 is my choice of rifles except for white tail deer in Iowa.

 

It looked like an elk hunt might be out of the question this fall as my goal was to hunt where I had never been before.  In my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman” there is a list of locations I have been and some more than once.  The book is available on Amazon and through Lulu.

While the wind  and the snow were blowing around one March evening, I started playing with the Internet.  Low and behold while searching in Colorado, here came a spot in Idaho.  Wow, for some reason their website popped up on a Colorado search.

Juniper Mountain Ranch near Terreton, Idaho is a private ranch the promotes elk hunting. (http://www.junipermountain.net/)The elk are resident elk although they do add to the herd.  No license is required as the hunt is on private property so you avoid the problem of drawing and hunting in National Forrest Service ground where your odds are 20% success rate.  I am interested in meat, but more importantly, results.  Calling them on the phone and visiting about the ranch met my requirements. What is really important for me is my wife will get to accompany me on the trip.  Whether she will go on the actual hunt is up to her.

The Juniper Mountain Ranch is basically a sheep ranch, so the country is wide open and shooting through timber will not be a problem, although it is a challenge.  Wide open country will mean longer shots, I believe, so practice for me is a necessity and I must get the rifle sighted in.  They recommend sighting when you first get there. Meals, fully guided, and a private bath in your room meets my maximum requirements.  There is the opportunity to have the meat processed, and a call was made to the processor.  There is a requirement on this item for us.  We like to have the burger mixed with 15% pork fat ground fine and made into half pound packages.  We use a processor in Minden, Iowa that does things just the way we want it and although we pay extra for this service, it is worth it. There are only two of us and a half pound package makes two burgers. Friends that we give meat to also are empty nesters.  When you get older, your ability to eat a two pound steak disappears.

After a couple of phone calls and visiting with the owner, the decision was made to head to Idaho the last of September.  We will look at some fresh country and have a new experience to write about, I hope.

Orvis

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

 

Up Close & Personal Hunting Alligators

The research was done and now the time came to fish or cut bait.  My wife Pam and I took off to Braithwaite, LA to hunt Alligators.  From Council Bluffs we headed to St. Louis and then down I-55 for our first stop in Memphis, Tenn.  This was an enjoyable drive and we had the opportunity to see country we had never seen before. That night we enjoyed some of the finest barbecue we had ever experienced.  

From this overnight stop we were off to Louisiana for our overnight stay at Chalmette, LA.  This was a great opportunity to enjoy some fine Cajun cooking and we took advantage of the local restaurants. After a good nights rest we were pumped and ready for the hunt.  

At the jump off for the hunt, we met our guide Fred and Grant his assistant.  This was very educational and interesting.  These two men were from Florida where they took tourists on air boat tours of the swamps in their area for bird watchers. When we were out on the boat, Fred was able to identify every bird we saw and tell us something about the specie.  This added to the adventure.  In addition he had previously been a commercial hunter of Alligators in Florida for many years.  There was plenty of know how with these two men and we became very comfortable.  

During the month of September they came to Louisiana to guide for the owner of Louisiana Marsh Adventures.  This is Alligator season in Louisiana.  We had the expertise of these men with guiding, the marsh area, and handling alligators.  This made for a great trip. 

The first thing I was required do was sign my license to hunt Alligators in Louisiana.  Then we were given an orientation of what would happen and how we would hunt the beasts.  A critical thing was the placement of the bullet in the gator to bring it to a quick demise.  

 

If you look where Fred is pointing his finger this is the spot where the bullet would be placed to kill the gator. It is about the size of a quarter. There is a moon shaped curved bone that goes over the head of the beast and the spot where Fred’s finger is pointing is the spot.  This leads to the spinal cord.  When the bullet hits this spot the gator will crock off.  It sounded easy, but I was to learn how difficult it really was to get to that spot.  

Placing the round anywhere other than this spot would not kill the beast, and you may have a bigger fight than you had bargained for as it might make the beast angrier. 

Fred had a small rifle that shot a 22 magnum shell and that did the job.  This was the smallest caliber shell I have ever used to kill big game.  As I looked at the gun, I really missed my 30-06 and my 300. 

 
 

This is the air boat that took us around the swamp.  We were supplied with ear muffs to protect our hearing and life vests in case we fell out of the boat.  Grant told us just to stand up as the swamp was not more than waist deep  The engine was very loud and the ride was really exciting as we slithered over the top of beds of vegetation. 

Pam in the air boat. 

Just before I sat down. 

Grant getting ready to shove us off. 

Fred running the boat. 

We headed from the dock into the swamps.  We passed through a gateway that was built into a Levee separating the dock area from the swamp.  This was constructed after Katrina to prevent flooding in the future. In case of another hurricane the gates can be closed to prevent storm surge. 

Entering into the swamp, Fred explained how the gator were baited.  A quarter of a chicken is used as bait and hooked into a really big hook.  The bait is suspended above the water attached to a fiber glass pole with the line attached to a tree on shore.  They want the bait suspended high enough so that small gators cannot get at it and out of the water to avoid other creatures that would feast on it.  The picture below is not the best due to the sun, but it gives you an idea what you would find if a gator had not grabbed the bait.  Fred told us after the season was over it took two months before he could eat chicken again.

 
 

The line is tight at this location.  That means there is a gator on the end ready to be pulled in.  Fred said you can never know how big it is until you get it up to the side of the boat.  Sometimes big gators come to the boat gently and other times they raise holy cane and you never know what you have.  

This gator was not big, but what was interesting was a really big gator was holding onto it’s body.  He was eating on this gator and had eaten almost all of his tail.  When he saw us, he let go and sank back down into the dark.  Fred said he was a nice specimen and he wanted to come back and check this location as the big gator may want to finish his meal. Fred said he could see bubbles rising from the swamp.  That meant it stayed around.

We moved through the bayou checking out the locations where bait was set.  In each case there was a small gator on the hook.  I would pull it in far enough for Fred to get a good look and then decide if it was worth keeping.  In almost every case it was small and Fred would say, “We have more baits to check and we will keep checking until we find a big gator for you to kill.”

After four or five spots, we pulled in a really good looking beast.  Fred said we will remember this big boy and see if we can find something bigger.  He was estimated at 9 to 10 feet in the water.  He came to the boat slowly until the distance between his nostrils and his eyes could be seen.  That, I was told, was how you can tell the size of the gator.  We saw some gators swimming that were estimated at over 12 feet just by judging the distance from the nostrils to the eyes. 

 

 

Spanish Moss

 Looking at the canal we were on. 

Flying over the vegetation that was growing on the canal. 

 

This is the biggest gator we had seen previously that was hooked and we had passed him up to look for a bigger beast.  We came back to this location to harvest him after checking a number of spots.  He came to the boat slowly but as I felt the line he was really heavy. I handed the line to Fred and got ready to shoot.  I could not get a good bead on the sweet spot as the gator would not stay next to where I was standing. Fred was off to my left.  Also, I had the gun up quite a ways from the gator’s head. This was not the correct way to make the shot.  This was not like shooting a scoped rifle at a big animal.  Right at the time Pam took the picture, I was doing poorly.  I did it all wrong and took a shot.  Even though it hit the gator’s head, it did not kill it and suddenly it became really enraged.  I am not used to shooting iron sites especially at a moving target. 

 Fred told me to come to his left side and put the barrel of the gun close to his head at the right time.  The reptile was really enraged after I shot him in the head. He rolled and went back and forth. Finally, there was a pause and I put the barrel of the gun right above the spot and shot him. The small rifle was not heavy and I took the gun out of my shoulder and just held it with my right hand. All at once he went dead still in the water.  Fred kept him in the water and let him bleed out.  That way he would not have blood in the boat. 

There it is, calm as can be after putting up all that ruckus.  Fred estimated him at 9 to 10 feet.  He was maneuvered around until he was slid into the bottom of the boat.  All of a sudden his legs moved and it scared both of us to death thinking he was still alive.  Alligators, I was told,  have a lot of nerve endings in the extremities so his tail moved around also.  Fred taped his mouth shut and that made me feel better. 

Then he said, “I have two tags to fill.  Do you want to shoot another one?”  Now, I was not going to pass up another opportunity to shoot another gator and anyway we were having a great time.  We must have stopped at eight spots to see if there was a big gator there.  If there wasn’t, we moved on to another baited spot, all the time looking at the beauty of the bayou and observing the many birds.

Pam and I helped Fred move the gator into the bottom of the boat.  He felt like smooth soft leather and the top of the tail and the body that I thought was an exo skeletan was nothing but smooth and semi soft hide. 

The next location proved to be thrilling as this gator from the beginning did not like being hooked and he was excited to get onto the boat.

This beast was really angry.  He tried to take off and dive down. Next, he was trying to roll.  Fred handed me the line and I could hardly hold onto it.  Slowly I got him up to the side of the boat where I handed the line back to Fred.  This gator had a real nasty streak in him and I was concerned that with all the commotion I would not get a shot.

As I started to put the bullet in the sweet spot, he rolled and the round went into the water. I missed and shot the water.  Fred said, ” Take your time.”  The gator was not going anywhere and when he stopped rolling momentarily, I quickly took the opportunity to shoot.  I had the gun at the backside of his head and let him have it right in the quarter size spot on the back of his head.   He went limp.  You can see that I am holding the gun with two hands and the end of the barrel is just above the gator’s head.  I remembered my mistake after taking the first shot on the previous gator and learned a lesson.  That picture was taken right after the shot was made and you can see the blood coming out.  He was kept in the water to let him bleed out before he was boated.  

That made two gators and we had an outstanding morning.  First, we saw hundreds of birds then the beauty of the bayou plus the alligator hunting.  To show for our efforts, we got to harvest two of them.  My deal with the outfitter was to keep the gator head and hide.  I would have to wait for 6 months to get the tanning done or trade it out for one that was already tanned and prepared.  We took the trade, and that way we went home with a head and a hide. 

For meat, we bought some meat raised at an alligator farm rather than the meat from the bayou which would have been muddy tasting.  We were not interested in that.

Pam and I with the two gators. 

Fred and I with the two gators.  I am 6’3″ so that gives you an idea of the size of the two of them. 

What a trip!  So much excitement in such a short period of time and we enjoyed every minute.  The plus was traveling around the bayou on an air boat and enjoying the outdoors, including all the birds and vegetation.

We highly recommend Louisiana Marsh Adventures. (https://www.louisianamarshadventures.com)

Sierra Trading Post

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