Here it is. The chariot that will carry us to glory and lots of walleye.
This is South Dakota. Weather in this state is chaotic. The blow out period moved the low pressure out, and this is generally not good for fishing. We still had a high overcast, but the wind came up and began to blow. This is where an experienced guide shows why we pay them for this service. We went fishing in the big Lund as it made its way up the lake. The guide had been in this type of weather before and knew where to go. Twenty minutes after launching we moved into about 4 to 6 feet of water and started to fish. It did not take long and we picked up a couple of keepers. Continue reading→
Here it is, boys and girls, the Berkley Flicker Shad that we caught the majority of the Walleye. Just click on the picture and go to Bass Pro and buy several in case you lose a couple.
The reservation was made in February of this year to fish our favorite lake on the Missouri River. Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles. With all that shoreline, this reservoir is a regular walleye factory. Continue reading→
There he is doing his job. The Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy getting ready to suck in the big toms. They see this little guy and they come right toward him to kick the living daylights out of him. Read on.
This was almost like poaching. Never in my life have I had such immediate success. The opening sentence should be the weather was cold, the wind was blowing, and it took me 30 minutes to find a suitable place and it was over in fifteen minutes. There is more. Continue reading→
God does not charge time spent fishing against a man’s allotted life span.
Old Indian Provberb
Last spring Pam and I went up to Platte Creek Lodge and fished for walleye on Lake Francis Case. The lake is part of the Missouri River series of dams that stretches from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota all the way into Montana.with the final lake at Canyon Ferry Dam. We fish with a guide that is a native of South Dakota and has fished the river all his life. His boat is outstanding and all the gear, bait, and know how, is included in the price. Plus, he is a joy to be with and is so accommodating to his customers and guests. That makes for a really exciting and great trip.
These are the keepers we caught. South Dakota has a 15″ minimum and we threw back a lot of shorts. From the time we hit the water this nice series of eaters took three hours.
As I sat in the lodge and looked up, it felt like he was staring at me. The lodge has a real nice wall hanger. For some this is what an elk hunt is all about. For us it is all about the meat.
Last January I made plans to make, what seems to be, an annual pilgrimage to Idaho and hunt elk on a sheep ranch. Having been there before this is gentleman hunting at its finest and at my age it is the best I can do.
We have enjoyed wild game for many years as have many of our friends. One couple not only enjoys game, but they enjoy a homemade adult beverage made from grapes to accompany a meal of well prepared game. They are also excellent cooks and a week before the trip, there was a familiar voice on the phone saying, “I have a case of exquisite liquid made from grapes. It is yours for my yearly ration of elk meat.” We can hardly wait and the time table was laid and, of course, it is contingent upon a successful hunt.
We have made this drive before. It starts from Council Bluffs to Rock Springs, Wyoming and is 755 miles. With stops it is a full 12 to 13 hours. It is very weather dependent as east of Laramie is the Sherman Hill Summit that reaches an elevation of over 8,640 feet. We want to cross this spot in the daytime and hopefully when the sun is out. Driving in the clouds east of Laramie is not fun and it take some time to break out, but not until you get to Laramie at an altitude of 7,220 feet. After that it is smooth driving to Rock Springs.
After Rock Springs it is only a mere 320 miles to the ranch in Idaho. Now that does not seem so bad, but is almost a full days drive as you travel from Rock Springs to Jackson, Wyoming and then over Teton Mountain Pass. Now as a flat lander, this is a challenge. Going up is not a problem, but on the other side the road is narrow and winding going down hill. We go so slow and pull over frequently to let the locals pass. They all wave with one hand and a finger in the air. It must be a form of greeting.
The Aspens were in their glory and as I cleared the pass this view was captured.
The Aspens interspersed with the pines made a great pic
At the ranch, we were greeted by the same people that have worked there over the years from the cooks to the guides, the manager, and the lodge dog. After settling in and shooting the rifle on the range, it was dinner and plans were made for the next morning.
The lodge is just as good looking inside as outside.
This is what Gentleman hunting is all about.
We all have met a person several times that we really hit it off with and this is the case with our guide. When the reservation was made he was requested, and it was a pleasure to hunt with him again. . His son also guides at the ranch.
We have a lot in common. I hurt too when I get up in the morning or when I sit too long.
I was amazed this year at how the ranch looked. The sage brush had really grown and this made it very hard to spot an elk. When they are feeding on the grasses their bodies are hard to spot and you have to look for the antlers sticking up above the sagebrush. In some cases the sagebrush was almost to my shoulder and I am 6’2″ tall. We were hunting the first week in October and it was unseasonably warm. The ranch is located about 75 miles southwest of Yellowstone at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. We did not expect this kind of weather.
Looking out across the ranch.
That is Pam standing in the sagebrush. In spots it is over her head.
We drove along the ridges, then stopped and began glassing the areas below to the hill across the valleys. Our requirement is a young boy that does not have a low slung belly or any type of sway in his back. Also, I do not shoot big racks. I already have a bull that scored 380, and this is big enough for me. Our guide took us over to a spot on the ranch where he had spotted some young bulls.
You work the low country first, then move up to higher elevations. The elk are really hard to spot in all the sagebrush.
With the warm weather, we felt they would be feeding and then stop around 10 to 11 a.m. to chew their cud. Elk have 4 stomachs like a cow. Then we would have a really tough time finding an animal till in the afternoon when they started grazing again. I had spotted a couple in a group of bulls that met what we were looking for, but our guide had said no to those animals as they had a broken antler. Pam said to him, “The people in Iowa will not know the difference.” With that in mind we continued scouting the ranch.
This old boy was way out there and thanks to telephoto lens we got his pic. Notice how his back has a slight sway to it and his belly is a little low slung. Beautiful rack, but you cannot eat horns and with his age, he is a little tough.
Here is another jewel in the crown. He is definitely a wall hanger, but check out the belly and the back. He has had a lot of testosterone course through his veins and arteries.
After a leisurely lunch we headed back out onto the ranch. Our guide had another place where he had seen some elk. We scouted the area all afternoon but saw nothing. Tomorrow was another day. We headed out before light the second day and moved over to the area where the small group of bulls were sighted. The grass mixed among the sagebrush plants was plentiful and we worked to find them.
Looking the group over, Pam spotted a good looking boy off to one side. He was about 300 yards out and we were not noticed. Moving down hill somewhat crouching among the sagebrush plants, we got within 200 yards and had a good view. A light breeze was in our face, and with that, we had meat to take home.
Not a big rack, but respectable. But, look at that nice big body. All the guides said the same thing that he was a good choice and will eat well.
Ready for the skinning
The lodge recommends Matt’s Meats in St. Anthony, Idaho to process the animal and they do a great job and will work with you on cuts. We like our burger in half pound packets and the two tenderloins divided into thirds. We used to do roasts and steaks, but all the people we give meat to prefer the burger and so do we. You have so much versatility from just plain burgers to casseroles and other dishes.
Ready for the processor. Hanging weight was 381 pounds.
We have harvested deer, caribou, buffalo, moose, Arkansas razorback pig, and gator. We still like elk the best.
Good hunting, good fishing and good luck, Hank
Click on the pic and buy my book from Amazon. In these times it is a good entertaining read and makes a great gift. Stay Safe. Hank
We have the good or bad fortune of living on a golf course fairway. Canada geese also make the golf course their home, and they are a really exciting bird to watch beginning in the early spring and throughout the year. I hunt waterfowl, but not the Canada goose as it would be like hunting my neighbors. The golf course has everything the Canada Goose needs. There is plenty of food as the fairway is composed of grass that attracts their palate. The fairway has a large body of water along one side, and there is a sand pit. Food to eat, water to drink and to float around on, and sand for their gizzards are all they need.
The grasses on the golf course are very digestible and the layout of the course is very open and allows the birds protection from predators. They can see a problem coming at a great distance. They are also somewhat protective of their territory. There is one exception and that is the golfers. They move off to a safe distance generally about 20 feet and continue their constant grazing as the golfers play through.
Morning on the golf course.
The property lines between the golf course and our back yards are very discernible. We plant blue grass which is considerably darker and longer than the grass on the golf course. Golf course grass is generally bent grass, and is shorter and a lighter color and more dense. The geese will graze right up to the grass line separating the two properties and rarely cross over into back yards. The other item might be that when they get close to the houses they do not have that much protective space.
This spring we counted five families on the course each one having from 4 to 10 babies. One family stood out as the mother sat on a nest right opposite our home along the lake. She sat and sat with nothing happening. Neighbors we talked with were all worried whether she had any eggs alive in the nest.
Here she sits on her nest. Everyone was worried about her and we were worried the golfers might disturb her. They ignored her and played on through.
That is dad out floating around. He stayed right close to her and if a golfer got close he went toward him/her.
Then it happened. We got up early one morning to see how mom was doing and there they were. Ten little puff balls running around but staying close to the parents. Mom and dad were very attentive and kept them all together.
The little devils were running all around and it was hard to get a picture of them all together.
Mom and Dad with the chicks in the low spot.
Mom dad and the family out for breakfast.
They grow really fast and soon we could not determine whose family we were looking at. As they got bigger it was hard to count as they scooted around the golf course.
That is two families out for stroll. They walked between houses, across the street, to the pond in the next neighborhood. Amazing!
This is a family of eight. Not the one we initially watched.
Another morning on the golf course
We had five families on the golf course and as I indicated earlier family size ranged from 4 to 10 goslings. As they grew it became harder to distinguish families when they were all on the golf course.
There is our 10.
They grew at an outstanding rate. This is one of the first families.
A couple of visitors showed up one morning. We did not see them go for the geese as they come periodically to fish.
Eagles fly in from the river and perch on the roof tops waiting for a fishing opportunity.
That is a family and it is amazing how fast they grow then start flying.
We caught them again one morning walking between the houses down to the next pond. A snow goose has hung out with them all spring and summer.
We are close to the end of October and we generally have Canada geese flocked up and occupying the fairway we live on from the T box to the hole. But not this year, but the year is not over.
Look for my next two posts. I just got back from an Elk hunt in Idaho and a fishing trip on Lake Francis Case in South Dakota. Now to start duck hunting. It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
Wow, Wow, and more Wow! It just can’t get much better than this. My guide and I hit the lake really early. With this fantastic weather, the lake would be packed, and it was a Saturday. Pam backed out and said , ” I am sleeping in in this morning, but be back by lunch.” It is like people have been locked up so long and needed to get out and with this weather and lake conditions, it was time to go, and catch some walleye. The wind had moved southeasterly with a front about 100 miles out. The beautiful weather was going to change and we needed to get on it before the front arrived and the conditions changed. The wind was forecast-ed to switch to the east with low clouds, mist, and rain. Been there, done that, and it turns off.
We got to the boat ramp before anyone else got there, and that helped a lot getting on the lake. On the water the guide hit the pedal and off we went flying across the water to another fishing spot he knew about.
Looking out the back of the boat, and this is what 50 mph looks like as we sped across the water.
Looking out over the bow of the boat. This machine really flies and it does not take long to cover a lot of water. The white box with the red handle is a box holding crawlers or as we say in Iowa, worms. Around the edge of the box is a liner for ice and that way the bait is kept cool.
We pulled up to the first spot and began fishing. Immediately the action started, but we were throwing them all back as we just could not catch a 15 inch fish. I had not hammered fish like this in years. The rods used were light action and were long, but it still felt like we had a really decent size fish. I think I mentioned in the previous blog that this lake should be a really hot spot for legal fish next year.
Spot one we fished for about 30 minutes along the face of the drop off starting from the point and working along the bank. What was really interesting was that we were so close to the edge of the bank and still fished in 10 to 12 feet of water.
It was time to keep moving. It was not for not catching fish, it was for not catching legal size to keep. Again, the big motor was fired up and off we flew across the lake to another spot. Decades ago, my son and I fished Canada waters with a friend from northern Minnesota. He always said when you pick up small walleye, move, because that is all you are going to catch.
Notice the house along the bank. The question I asked was how can a person build a house or cabin along ground that belongs to the government by way of the Corp of Engineers. Apparently it was built about the same time the reservoir was completed and just got grandfathered in. The guide wants that house and if I win the lottery, I have promised I will buy it for him. Neither one of us will lose any sleep over it.
I have fished and hunted with a lot of guides, and I have never had one that was not good. I have really enjoyed his company, plus harvesting a lot of game and enjoying the outdoors. We fished really hard at this location as we had success there before, but today it was fleeting. We did not catch a thing. It happens, and it is called fishing, not catching. Onward, upward, and ever forward. There is always another spot along this wide and meandering lake.
This was really interesting and it was the only place where we saw this geology. Notice the color of the water. It is similar to the color of the rocks. As you moved out away from the bank the water darkened up to the color of the rest of the lake. Depth at this level was around 15 feet. It was at this level we caught keeper fish. I am forwarding this picture to a geologist and have him tell me about the rocks and the layers. Interesting.
We were not limited out yet, but had two more fish to go. All of a sudden it shut off. I have seen this happen before, but have no explanation for it. The only thing I can think of is walleye are finicky fish and something turns them on and then turns them off. The wind did go down and the late went flat. I did not like that environment and neither did the guide. We moved to the east side of the lake.
The graph and trolling motor moved us along the bank in 15 feet of water. Then the cattle that were up on the bank came down and paid us a visit. We caught no fish here, but as we moved by they all stood and stared at us as some waded into the water.
We continued down the east bank. Where the grass was standing, we finished out our limit and it was only 11 A.M. The graph displayed 10 feet of water and we were about 10 feet from the grass line. I did not get a picture of this, but we both agreed the bait fish were hiding in the tall grass and the game fish were working that weed line. We had a great time catching and pitching. Some of them were bigger than what we had in the live well.
Pam and I each came away with a possession limit of Missouri River Walleye. We might come back this fall. The best part of this trip was my wife was fishing with me again and enjoying herself. A really great motel that was like an upscale hotel in a big city made the difference.
I just put this picture in because it was such beautiful scenery. Picture Lewis and Clark going up the Missouri River and seeing this rise in the land.
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank
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Trigger more aggressive behavior from any gobbler during the spring mating season with the flextone Funky Chicken Gen II Turkey Decoy.
Three miles north of Council Bluffs, in the colorful Loess hills, is a farm that is more akin to a meat market than a farm. Besides the landowner, I am the only person who has a key to get into the ground. Turkey and deer abound and whenever up at the farm you always see plenty of animals. Over the last four years I have hunted one spot with outstanding success. That success is due to the decoy Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy. Adding a couple of feeder hens nearby helps provide serenity and calmness to the area. I bury myself into as much cover as possible, and wait 30 minutes for the forest to calm down. When I hear the music of birds and see deer running across the fields in front of me, I give a couple of clucks on the call, then just wait and read a book and try to stay awake.
On this trip the farmer was running cattle in the area I wanted to hunt so I had to go to a different area of the farm. With all the birds I saw on this piece of ground, so what. All that was needed was to get old Funky out in the open where he can be seen by the Toms.
An old turkey hunter told me years ago to quit getting there early before they come off the roost and just be set up by 8 a.m. He said most big turkeys are shot between 8 a.m and 2 p.m. I am sure people have had different experiences, but this was what worked for me. It had rained during the night and it was really windy when everything was in place.
This is spot # 1. My back is pushed into a row of trees and brush. Behind that is a small pond formed by a dam across a drainage ditch.
The waiting game was on, but nothing appeared, except a few hens. There was a lot of gobbling early but by 11 a.m. it had almost died out. The wind picked up to a minor gale and nothing appeared in the field ahead of me. Then a light mist developed. Hunting in the rain for me is no fun so it was time to fold up. Tomorrow is another day.
Day two was similar to day one, but without all the wind. There were low clouds and it looked like rain at first. Up the valley was an area I’d never hunted so I decided to head uphill toward the end of the valley. It narrowed up rather quickly, but in the past turkey and deer had been seen traversing the area and going over the hill at the end. Even though it was partly cloudy, a big beautiful blue sky developed above that and let a lot of sunshine into the valley and illuminated the Funky. That was really great. Turkeys have phenomenal eyesight and the fact that Funky was not in the shadows but showing up and showing off made it a good possibility. I said quietly to myself, “Bring them to me Funky.”
I use two feeder hens about 5 to 10 yards to one side of Funky to add a sense of calmness to the area. This was recommended by the manufacturer of the Funky.
Pushing myself into some standing timber and brush put me in the shadows, and with my leaf suit I was well hidden. Now came the waiting, but for entertainment, a book was right there for me to read.
There he is doing his turkey thing. I may be giving away my age, but do you remember the Charles Atlas advertisements in boys magazines that attempted to sell muscle building schemes for skinny boys? The advertisement promoted how to stop getting sand kicked in your face by a big bully. The big shots are coming to kick sand in his face.
Down the hill from where I was hiding, some jakes came up the hill, but turned away from me to follow a path made by the farmer’s four wheeler. They were way too far for a shot. Some hens also followed, but the jakes were probably afraid of Funky.
Day three was a beautiful morning. I set up a spot earlier than I had done the two days before. Maybe my friend was a little off his rocker when he said, “Don’t get set up till around 8 a.m.” A few gobbles greeted the morning and some geese were flying over, squawking away. At least 10 deer were seen as they nibbled their way across the valley where I was hiding. The wind was from my left and a couple stopped and stared straight toward me, stood there, then walked off. Something just was not quite right. Even though they could not smell my scent, something just wasn’t quite right. It was me. No Toms appeared and only one more day was left before the season closed. Staying later in the day did not produce any action.
It has been four years since I did not wax a nice edible tom turkey on the first day. Iowa has four seasons and you buy a separate tag for each season. Again, the old turkey hunter had told me to hunt the 4th season because it is longer, there is not a lot of pressure then, and the hens are mostly bred out. He claimed the toms are still looking for a suitable mate to add to their harem.
It was another beautiful morning and getting on site early might be helpful. This location faced toward a dam holding water from a stream in a deep gully. With open field to my right and the steep uphill valley to my left, this was not only the best location, but there were three avenues for the toms to get a look at Funky Turkey Chicken decoy. This was my last day, and there was a feeling of great hope.
Pushing back into the timber and brush, the sun would be right behind me when it came up and filled the valley. I would be in the shadows, however. After waiting the usual 30 minutes for the woods to settle down, the birds began singing and the squirrels were scurrying around. A fox walked right in front of me not more than 50 feet. A slight breeze was right in my face, and that was good. Nothing in front of me could wind me. It is not smell that spooks turkeys, but movement. Keeping the area calm is important to give the big boys security. I fell asleep.
Looking to the right, this area was pretty open and I had to push back into the timber.
There is the funky at the top and his two ladies grazing away.
There is nothing like a nap in the woods. The temperature was very pleasant, and then as my head bobbed around, I looked up to see a nice looking young boy with his feathers all fanned out. This was not a big tom, but respectable and he would eat good. Guessing he was about 35 yards out, he came towards Funky to clean some clock. Now, a very slight movement was required as the piece was slowly lifted to my shoulder gradually. I was a little exposed, but wearing the leaf suit had worked before. He was very cautious, but kept coming. In the past, a few had come running to do battle. I said to myself, “He is either an experienced fighter, or he is scared out of his feathers.”
Things got heavy as the wait was on for an easy shot. At about 15 yards, the time had come, and he was plunked. The farmer, upon hearing the shot, came up on his four wheeler to take a look. Then it was off to his kitchen for coffee and to sit and visit a while. I also had 15 pounds of elk meat for him as he and his family enjoy wild game.
Not a giant, but he will eat good.
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Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles.
That is how you get your wife to go fishing with you. Our guide and good friend is in the background.
A good friend and his wife had just come back from a two day fishing trip and gave an outstanding recommendation for a guide, using his boat and equipment, and a lodge to stay at. The pictures they had were of some excellent walleye fishing. The fish caught were not big lunkers, but really nice size fish in the 15 to 18 inch class. These fillet out really nice and fry up even better.
Picture is produced by Harry Weddington, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library
The Fort Randall Dam is located within sight of its namesake Fort Randall, an early U.S. Army Frontier Post. Fort Randall Dam is one of six Missouri River dams. The next dam upstream is Big Bend Dam near Fort Thompson and the next dam downstream is Gavins Point near Yankton. The dam forms the southern end of the lake with the northern end at Chamberlain, SD that form Lake Sharpe.
Comfortable room and lodge area made this a great place to stay.
Upon contacting the people at Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service in Platte, SD, there was an opening for two days of fishing with a guide and a room. We grabbed it. Pam could not go along due to another commitment and was terribly disappointed as she really likes to hammer walleye.
Arriving late afternoon, We met our guide and we talked about the next morning. We would depart for the lake at 7 a.m.
For meals a person could drive into town as there were restaurants open in the morning for breakfast and dinner. A person could bring his own food and fix it at the lodge. We just grabbed some TV dinners for breakfast and dinner along with snacks for the afternoon and that worked well for us.
This is where we hung out and sat and watched TV in the checkered chair with the brown pillow. Tables are to the right and another dining room in front of me for other people cooking their own meals.
The boat shown below was the boat we would be fishing in the next morning. Wow, a new 19 foot+ Lund purchased in January the year before. This boat had it all. Eighty pound thrust trolling motor on the bow that unfolded down into the water electrically and pulled itself back out when it was time to go. The best part was it was controlled automatically by the Hummingbird graph at the drivers seat. Set the depth and the motor kept the boat moving along at that depth. This was hands free fishing. Two 4 stroke engines were mounted on the rear. One was a 200 hp Mercury and the other was a 15 hp Mercury. Both were totally controlled at the drivers spot for steering and running the fuel. This was way more boat than I own.
This boat would really move when it was opened up and the seats had a suspension system that kept the ride really smooth.
Next morning it was off to the lake. When we got to the boat ramp area we were fourth in line for a single boat ramp. Boats were piling up behind us and boats were floating just off the single dock waiting for the driver of the truck to come in from the parking to mount up and ride off into the morning light. The big boat came right off and I drove the trailer up to the parking area and hustled down to the dock. We were off, and oh how this boat would fly over the water with just the three of us in it and the 200 horses pushing us along! (I keep talking about the boat, but it was exciting. Plus, I don’t have to maintain it.)
My first view of Lake Francis Case.
Highway 44 out of Platte, SD crosses over the lake. To our left is a campground where we would launch the boat. The area has 5 boat ramp areas.
I shot a quick pic trying to get a shot of the traffic, but we were so hurried that this is the best I could do. I have never seen so many people lining up to get onto the lake. It is the end of May and this lake is really popular.
My guide said the lake was about normal and he has lived in the area all his life. In the water we were off and flying over the water. Moving to the east bank he set the depth at 10 feet for the motor and graph to keep us at that depth just following the shoreline.
There is that Hummingbird telling the trolling motor where to go. How sweet it is!
We started immediately picking up fish, not real rapidly but enough to pay attention. Each of us fished with two rods in rod holders on each side of the boat. This was a new experience for me, as I have always run the trolling motor, watched the graph, and operated one rod. Wow, gentleman fishing is what was taking place. At my age, I need all of this I can take. Pam really liked it as there was no work to do.
The fish we picked up were below the 15 inch minimum. But we picked up a lot and it was relatively constant. This is a great sign for the lake, as all those small fish grow into big fish. A couple of decades ago a close friend and I fished Waubay Lake in the Glacial Lakes area and would pick up 50 to 100 fish a day all below the legal limit. It was fun catching a lot of fish. Next year we picked up a limit a piece in less than half a day. This will happen here. Good for the minimum.
Decades ago, my son and I fished with a native of the Iron Range in Minnesota. We fished the B.W.C.A. and he said wherever you are catching small walleye, you need to move on as that is all there is in that spot. Over the years I have found some truth in that statement. We moved.
The next location we picked up a couple of keepers in the 16 inch range and when it went sterile, we moved again. The guide just seemed to know where to go and where he had caught fish in the past and this year. He told me we could have it all done by 1 pm or earlier.
I fished the bow of the boat and the guide fished the back end. Pam fished the other side of the back end. I don’t think he was trying too hard because he was slow to set the hook and it seemed like sometime his line went slack. He was more interested in keeping on a certain depth making sure Pam caught fish, and monitored the graph and changing our depths at times. Note the rod holder. There was one on the other side of the bow. I am not used to this at all as I have always held a rod in my hand. Time to teach an old dog new tricks.
That is my spot at the front of the boat, unless we are rocketing across the lake to a new spot. Pam took the seat behind the windshield and she loved the flotation of the seats. The white box on the floor has worms in the center and is surrounded on the outside by ice to keep them cold.
By 11 a.m. we had caught our daily limit for the day for the three of us. Pam was amazed at the number of keepers we caught in such a short time. This trip may have sold her on fishing with me again and we have another day to go.
Amazing and we were done by 11 a.m. These are perfect eating size fish.
This is a mount at my host’s home. Magnificent describes this mount as you enter the lower level and look up the stairs. The picture does not capture the size and they are really big, smart, and nature’s ultimate hunter.
Last December, I hunted in the province of Alberta, known for its population of Grey Wolves. The opportunity was muffed and I slept like a baby afterward. I cried all night. I hunted with the outfitter where I had harvested a nice moose. I was issued a wolf/coyote license with my Alberta tab for the moose, and was told the area held an abundance of wolves. The claim was their favorite morsel was moose and elk calves and the population loses 80% of the newborn moose to the wolves. My wife was with me on that trip and we did see some at great distances early in the morning or evening. No shots were taken.
My wife and I with our moose in 2018 and our friends enjoyed dining on this fine looking boy.
More research was needed to check other provinces across Canada. It appeared that the majority of the outfitters hunted them from fixed position over bait. Over bait means that you are within 100-200 yards of the bait pile. I also learned that at the first location, that warmer temperatures were better for drawing a wolf to the bait. Severe cold makes the meat totally frozen and when they are out hunting at night a nice tasty moose or elk calf makes an easier meal. I also learned they will come to a call depending on the time of the year. I was told early in the season was best when they had not been hunted too much.
Finally, I found an outfitter in Ontario that hunted totally different than using a fixed position. Bait sites were established and the sites were checked in the morning. If there were fresh wolf tracks, a tracker with snow shoes followed the tracks to a where they had bedded down and pushed them out of their bed. The tracker never saw the wolf, but followed the tracks, and radioed the direction they were going. A hunter would be posted in a clearing or general clear area and set up to harvest the wolf when they appeared. Sounds simple, eh! Forsooth, forsooth, not so. The wolves will change direction, circle behind the tracker, go through some underbrush so thick you can hardly see through it, but not necessarily pop into view where a hunter has posted himself and be within range. Shots will be at 50 to 400+ yards. More to come on that.
My drive out of Council Bluffs took me up through the twin cities through Duluth and then into Ontario. It was not cool, but really cold and very snowy. I arrived after a two day drive at the outfitter’s home and we got acquainted. Next morning we went out and baited sites and checked sites that had been previously baited. After lunch we checked a bait site and it was covered in wolf tracks. I was posted in a location, given a radio, and the outfitter took off.
My first hunting site, 100 yards from the bait. The chair is totally useless. The outfitter dropped me off at this location with a snow mobile. When I stepped off the machine I went into snow up to my crotch. When sitting down in the chair, it almost fell over backward as it sunk into the snow.
Okay, now you have an idea, somewhat, of the conditions a hunter has to deal with and whose side the odds are on when it comes to harvesting a wolf. I was told to stomp down a hole in the snow, then press down with my hands to make a bench in the snow. When sitting on the snow bench you have to practice shooting positions on either side to be ready when and if an animal appears. I immediately recognized that this would not be easy. Among the lessons learned in Alberta, being absolutely still is most important. The wolf is a sight feeder/hunter and it will pick up on the slightest movement. Also, during the day, they do not like to leave the safety of standing timber and brush. At this location, there were no hits, no runs, and the only errors were made by me flailing around in the snow.
That evening the other three hunters made it in and we all got acquainted. It was going to be a rough day on the following day. When we got up at 5 a.m. EST, there was a full fledged blizzard in force. Wow, everyone stood around after the outfitter said, “Well, what do you want to do?” No one wanted to say forget it, and so out we went. This was really tough and the temp went well below (0) F and the wind howled. We were positioned at different positions and the trackers could not even find a fresh track. We gave up by 10 a.m. A nap felt good.
Next day it was still cold, but it had cleared and we were back on the trail hiding while the trackers tried to deliver an opportunity.
This is what I look like when all covered up. We rode in a sled pulled by the snow mobiles and this is the reason for the ski goggles. You can also put your hand in front of your face, but you still get covered. One important thing I did was purchase Toasty Toes from Bass Pro and pasted them on the bottom of my socks. They kept my feet warm. When your feet are warm you can take a lot of snow, cold and wind.
We were moved several times as the trackers found tracks, but they changed directions several times and we were moved several times.
Typical hole stomped down and bench below the trees to sit on. Upper left you can see where the snow mobile dropped me off. A guide would always check to make sure my radio was working, then it was sit and wait, and be very still. Keeping hands warm is also important. I wear a thin pair of gloves in case of a shot, and mittens used by the ice fisherman. A packet of Hot Hands also from Bass Pro was inside the mittens. Feet and hands were always warm.
This was a great location and after everyone was settled, the trackers moved into the woods and bait sites to start moving the wolves if they were in a group. Most of the time it was a single wolf that they were disturbing.
Looking off to my right was the directions the wolf would have come if it ventured out of the timber. I was positioned at a good location if the animal veered off the line of the push.
Nothing happened and the sun shining down on me just made me sleepy.
On this particular day we must have moved over five times. There was a dusting of snow and tracks were easy to spot near and around the bait sites. This meant loading up the rifles into the cases and crawling back into the sleds. Also, we had to unload when moving and reload when sitting down. Fortunately, my partner and I were of considerable weight and that made the sled settle a little for a smoother ride. That is the good news. The bad news was more snow was kicked up into our faces and covered us with snow.
I am on the right side of the sled with the ski goggles on. I wore a mask covering my face with holes for nose, mouth, and eyes. On top of that was a wool cap that pulled down over my ears and down the back of my neck. It was billed, so that helped keep out glare. Then my hood which is really thick was pulled up on all of that. I was told by an old cold weather hunter, you lose most of your heat through the top of your head.
My partner had a shot at 100 yards and missed. I felt really bad for him. He was a very experienced hunter and was really sick about the shot. The wolf came out of the woods on a slow gallop and with their big padded feet they do not sink into the snow. He spotted it and drew on it and said the bullet kicked up snow below the animal. It happens to all of us periodically, but that is still little consolation.
Next day after changing sites several times I was with one of the guides on a river bank. The tracks and beds had been found and we were positioned in a relative direct line from the tracker. Even though the guides and trackers are talking to one another you still don’t know where they are going to pop out of the woods.
This is a riverbed and the guide and I climbed up a river bank into some timber. The guide was positioned near me off to my left. We waited.
We waited, and waited, and he told me that a couple of weeks previously a wolf was shot just as he came out of the woods straight away from me. Not on this day. Three came out 600 yards from me up the river in a line on the move. I shoot a 300 Win Mag Model 70 with Nosler 180 gr Partition bullet, but I have never shot at anything that far away. The guide hollered, “Shoot anyway, you might get lucky.” “How?”was going through my mind as I lifted the rifle to my shoulder, raised it up a couple of feet, and let the first round go. The guide hollered, ” Again, again!” The same process was done on the second. The wolf rolled, and the guide was hollering, “You got him! You got him! Go for the third.” The third animal was heading back to the woods and had hit the afterburners. I sent the round anyway, but that was a clear miss. Back to number two. He got up as I fumbled around getting another round in the chamber, but he made it to the bank and was gone.
The outfitter and my guide were right up on the spot looking around but did not find any blood. He obviously was not hit and maybe was just winged or the snow blowing up in his face caused him to roll. They spent thirty minutes going up the bank and looking for signs of blood. There was none. It’s called hunting, not shooting.
On our final day there were no sightings although there was a lot of tracks.
Wolf tracks along the roadway.
I just put this picture of the pile of snow on a street corner. They do get a lot of snow in Ontario. We called this Mount Ontario.
Getting back home felt really good, and I have to admit this was the most grueling experience I have every had. The cold was very manageable, but the deep snow was a bit of a problem to move around. My friends and my wife all asked me if I would do this again, and the answer is yes. You only live once.
Something to do is to read my book while we wait for the Corona virus to disappear. Click on the book and buy from Amazon.