Turnabout is fair play

Well after riding the high of my last three sharptail hunts where I actually got into birds, I knew reality was eventually going to catch up to me. That reality usually always hits when I go sage grouse hunting. Once again I pointed the U.A.V. (Upland Assault Vehicle) westward and headed to the sea of sage. The hounds hit the ground just after sunrise and we hunted hard until the temps got too warm. Nada. Not a feather, not a piece of grouse poop, not even an old track. I did see plenty of wildlife including approximately 200 antelope, mule deer, jack rabbits, cottontails, the biggest coyote I’ve ever seen and probably 30 elk (two 6×6 bulls). I was also scouting for antelope, the season opens on the 25th and I’ll be there in hopes of tagging out on opening morning. Then the weekend after that is the glorious first weekend of October……look out Chukar and Hungarian Partridge.

img_0112img_0114img_0121img_0109

When The Planets Align

I went in search of a native bird that is over looked in these parts, a bird that has eluded me on multiple occasions. I arrived as the sun was peaking over the horizon and cut the hounds loose. After a single flushed wild I was concerned that my only opportunity for the day was gone but I was wrong. Molly’s body language told me birds were out in front of us, running, refusing to hold for point. After all these birds are wild and fight for their life every single day, and 9-11-16 was no different than any other day. As we continued to work into the wind we came to a choke point, where the cover gave way to a cut wheat field. Ace slammed on point, reading him I knew without a doubt there was a bird there. Molly to my surprise honored his point perfectly. I walked in, the sharptail flushed, and I did my part with the IC barrel of my Franchi Instinct 20ga. Time to head home and be grateful of a perfect day afield.

acesharptail

Spoiled on the first day

I usually never find birds, its just a reality I’ve come to accept. However today was not like most days. I found (well the dogs did really) a group of sharptails right out of the truck. The conditions were crap though, no wind, hot, and the grass was tall. We only got a bit of a flash point as by the time the dogs got scent of the birds (which were up wind) they were smack dab in the middle of the group. I pulled my usually and wiffed on the first bird with the IC barrel, and dusted some tail feathers with the second MOD barrel. We were unable to locate any singles and the temps only increased. We pulled out after about an hour and a half of hunting (0800hrs). I most definitely should have been parking the pickup about 45mins earlier. This is my lucky year. I drew a public land Auodad hunt at the Palo Dura Canyon State Park in January of 2017. I only had two preference points and drew on the second drawing. The odds are about 10% chance of drawing. Hopefully I’ll get to include a quail hunt while I’m back in the homeland.

 

IMG_0095IMG_0094IMG_0101

 

IMG_0103

Don’t listen to your friends

So when your friends say “oh its only like a mile hike”, do not listen to them. While it was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve laid eyes on, it was in the high 90’s and most certainly more than a mile, especially when altitude gained and lost came into play. No trout were harmed (or caught) in this failed expedition. I will now always pack more than a liter of water, and my gps. Lessons learned, heat exhaustion is better than heat stroke…and cactus is a bitch.

IMG_0082IMG_0084IMG_0080

Finally hit the lotto

After four years of applying I finally drew a resident Antelope tag. Its in a decent area that has plenty of BLM public land, and some decent bucks. I hope to make a couple of scouting trips prior to the season; however life may get in the way (babies). A leftover tag may also be in the works.

I also hope to try out a new caliber I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years. If I can convince myself and my wife that I absolutely can not live without a 6.5 Creedmoor, that will be my caliber of choice come antelope season. If not, the .243 will have to get the job done.

Until then, here’s a couple of pics from a mountain lake I stumbled upon last week. I actually caught a brook trout out of it…on a fly rod no less.

 

springcreek2springcreek1

 

 

 

Baptism by Fire

So a couple of weeks ago I tagged along on a Fly fishing trip to the Green River in UT. We were fishing the blue wing olive hatch. I had never attempted fly fishing prior to this trip.

Wow. I was humbled to say the least. Usually I am capable of watching someone do something, and vicariously I can pick up on things pretty quickly….like archery. Fly fishing is not archery I learned. In three days I caught one fish. One average size brown trout. I don’t even know how I caught it, luck I would assume. I did lose two others, which is fine because the fight was fun and truth be told I probably didn’t deserve to land them anyway.

I managed to snap my rod in half, but at least I didn’t fly out of the boat and knock my teeth out. The beer was cold, the company was great, and I learned an unbelievable amount about fly fishing in just three days. I suppose it would have been smart to make my fly start on smaller water and not in a boat. But hindsight is 20/20.

Am I a fly fisherman? Not by a long shot. Will I continue to dabble in fly fishing? Maybe. I also said I’d take a lot of pictures to document my trip. Truth be told I spent most of my times cussing and trying to get knots unknotted.

Things learned:

  1. Casting is hard, it seems impossible in 30mph gusts
  2. flys are expensive
  3. Nymphing is not as easy as it looks, especially in an ever turning drift boat
  4. Dr. Mcgillicuddy’s mentholmint is delicious and refreshing.
  5. I now know why bird hunting and fly fishing go hand in hand, they are both incredibly humbling at times.

 

DSCN0357.JPG

FIRST’S

I took my plunge into the upland world on a hot sunny day in May, down in Texas. At the time I was living in Abilene, having just graduated from college, and I decided I needed a birddog. My father always had GSP’s and EP’s. Even though I never had the chance to hunt with them, or him, I always wanted a birddog. On that fateful day in May, my now wife and I brought home Ace, an orange and white Brittany. I chose a Brittany because I was living in an apartment at the time and their size and temperament was exactly what I was looking for. Ace got a little pro training down in Abilene, and was pointing johnny house bobwhites like a pro at 8 months old. Then we moved to the American West, and the journey really took off with our acquisition of Molly, a liver and white Brittany hailing from Preston Idaho. What a fireball she is.

Here are their “first’s”….

It was December 2012 in, lets just say one of the most inhospitable states in the Union. A fresh blanket of four inches of powder fell the night before, the wind was a slight breeze….perfect conditions. Now this isn’t Ace’s first wild bird rodeo, he’s got two trips under his belt in the same area, and has showed some real style (even holding steady to wing/shot). Unfortunately I have been letting him down with what could only be described as horrific wing shooting (thanks double triggers…my kryptonite). Today was the day I told myself, and it started with a bang. Looking back I cant remember how many points or shots it took me, but I know Ace was beginning to wonder why the heck I was just scaring birds. But then a point in a  tall sage flat near a sometimes dry creek, a steady point, he’s trembling (there has to be some birds close). Wham! An explosion of about ten Hungarian Partridge! I shouldered my CZ 20ga side by side, picked one out, swung and touched the first trigger. A Hun cartwheeled, shocked I tried to kill it even deader with the second barrel. My wife even exclaimed “oh my god you hit it”…

ace's first bird

Ace’s first wild bird fell to the ground. Earlier that day he held a beautiful point on a pair that honestly should’ve been the easiest double of my life, and I whiffed on both shots. And then I couldn’t reload fast enough for the third late flusher that Ace was STLL locked on during my tomfoolery. But that day had a happy ending.

Molly has been a real turd. I chased her for I don’t know how long in the NE sandhills earlier in the year. Molly seems to only want to hunt for her, sometimes I almost hate that dog. But then out of the blue after asking a breeder/trainer nearby to take a look at Molly to see if she has any hunt in her, she made me look like a moron. We planted a few pigeons for her, and miraculously she not only worked the field, she found and pointed the birds. He looked at me like “what’s the problem”.

So came November (2015) the State Game and Fish Dept. place these pen raised chickens on walk in areas and habitat management areas. Now I know its not “real” hunting, but I needed bird exposure for Molly, and some entertainment for Ace.

Molly was up first, much to the dismay of Ace, who sounded like he was being electroshock tortured in the dog box. We worked a large management area that’s got a lot of irrigation canals, ponds, sand burrs, and cattails. Molly worked great, ranging wide, working cover, and really throwing her heart over the bar. My partner and I missed on a couple of wild flushing birds, and I’m glad since I really intended to shoot only pointed birds.

Then came “the point”. I was doubling back to head towards the truck, believing that all the birds must’ve ben mowed down in days prior. When I walked over a small hill and found Molly locked up on point near a large pond dam/embankment. I yelled to my friend, “I think she’s pointing”. And just as I said that I saw his head, that beautiful flamboyant green, red, and almost purple. Molly found her a rooster. Just as I realized what I was looking at, he flushed. I swung hard and touched off my Stevens 555, poof, an explosion of feathers. Molly’s first point, and first rooster.

pheasant 1

To say I was pleased was an understatement. I’ve had such high hopes for her, and she showed some promise earlier in the year by finding some Columbian Sharptail that I couldn’t kill. She made a believer out of me, and continued to do so (I wrote about that trip in my first blog post).

I sure hope there are a ton of birds to come before they’ve found their last.

 

2016-17 Season

As I sit here in March, I cant help but dream about where, when, and what I’m going to hunt in the up coming season.

My mind drifts, from state to state, species to species.

Sharptails, Chickens, Ptarmigan, Huns, Blue Grouse, Ruffs, Sage Grouse, Columbian Sharpies, Phez, Chukar, Scaled, Bobs….

I hope to spend the rest of the off season running the dogs, and dreaming about the sand hills, the mountains, cheatgrass, and sagebrush. I cant help but look at my two friends, Ace and Molly think of how I need to enjoy the getting while the getting is good. I don’t want to look back on their lives and say “man I should’ve took that trip”.

Who knows there might even be an antelope hunt or elk hunt mixed in there somewhere, but I wont waste much of my time on those.

I’m brain storming on a review of my Asolo Bajura boots, and my Lowa “whatever they are”….along with my Savage Stevens 555 in 20ga.

Until then, jam out to Micky and The Motorcars

s

 

 

 

Orvis upland sling vest/pack review

I’ve had a few upland vest/packs including a Wingworks, Badlands, and Cabelas Bird&lite. I’ve sold all of them for various reason. The Badlands was nice, but didn’t have water bottle holders (I prefer to water the dogs with bottles instead of a bladder). The Wingworks was heavy (albeit bomb proof) and the water bottle holders were so far back on the waist belt and tight, that I couldn’t hardly get them in or out without dropping the F bomb. The Cabelas pack (which is now discontinued) had really think shoulder straps that seemed to always get in the way of my shotgun mount.

All of that was stated as a preface to what led me to the Orvis Upland Sling pack/vest. I’ll list some features I like, and some I don’t.

Pros:

  • Modular Molle attachments on the waist belt
  • A hip belt that supports the weight of the pack
  • One shoulder strap that wont interfere with my shotgun mount

Cons

  • With a couple of phez rooters in the game bag, the game bag sags a bit…which can be annoying.vest1

In the above picture you can see the lay out of all the waist or hip belt. With the molle attachment points, this can be configured however you like. Starting from left to right, I have a Tactical Tailor admin pouch which has two compartments that I carry my GPS, Leatherman, snacks, gloves, and maps in. The next is a water bottle holder that came with the vest. On the right side is another Tactical Tailor water bottle holder, and a shell pouch that came with the vest from Orvis.

vest2

This is the reverse side. On the shoulder strap you can see where I carry my SportDog TEK 1.0 controller, and the padding of the hip belt and back of the pack. In the far right corner of the picture you can also see an orange and white Brittany that thinks we’re about to go hunting lol.

vest3

Above is an attempt to show the interior compartment. I carry a first aid kit for both the dogs and I, and snacks in this compartment.

Overall I really like this pack. I can carry a ton of gear, water, and food with ease. There’s no shoulder strap to get in my way, and its modular enough to suit my needs. Keep in mind (if anyone is actually reading this) that Orvis redesigned this pack/vest, so this is the older outdated version. I’ve looked at the newer version online and it appears the main difference is the internal compartment design.

If anyone is reading this, I hope you got something out of this review.

Reviews

On this here blog I plan to review some of the gear I use and like…or hate. I don’t get anything fo’ free or anything, its paid for with my own hard earned cash.

I wont review anything I haven’t used, and I wont pull any punches either. The reviews will be my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions (everyone’s got one, and they all stink).

Soon to be reviewed is the Orvis Sling pack, Stevens 555, and some boots I’ve been using (Lowa and Asolo).