Enjoying the climb

23 Aug

Looking into the abyss

It seems like I always conclude a season of hunting with introspection and thoughts of how I could have done better…followed up by oaths sworn to prepare better and train harder for “next year”. And time, with it’s ever exasperating way, reminds us that “hey, your time has come!”….and before we know it…yes, you guessed it…there is no more time left to be had. And as our years progress, time has an even more infuriating way of speeding things up  faster, still. “Life” takes a hold and ratchets it’s self in and plans that we’ve made, would like to make…or have ever thought of making, seem to never fall into place as they should. This is the story of my life!

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New Gear: Danner Gila Boot

8 Aug
I was so excited when the UPS driver dropped off my new Danner Gila boots, that I immediately tore open the package and put them on...even though I was wearing shorts...and ankle socks...!

They have arrived! I have been wanting to get my hands on the new Danner Gila boots ever since I started seeing them advertised earlier this year. So far they seem legit and I’m excited to put them to the test!

 

I’ve been on the hunt for a lighter weight boot to wear during the early seasons and may have just found the solution: the new Danner Gila.  I’ve always been a fan of Danner boots, but until recently their designs were pretty limited and hadn’t offered anything along these lines. Last year I decided that I needed a  lightweight and nimble boot, that was a bit “cooler” on the feet. Most full grain leather boots, regardless of being uninsulated or not, end up baking my feet during the warmer months. I’ve always shied away from boots that utilized mesh, or “synthetic” uppers and wondered if they would have enough support for technical terrain and be able to withstand the abuse that their full-leather counterparts can.

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Cold Steel knife giveaway!

28 Jul
In an effort to rend every usable portion of this meat, I used my Cold Steel Pendleton Mini Hunter to the Spruce Grouse

In an effort to glean every usable portion of this meat, I used my Cold Steel Pendleton Mini Hunter to process the Spruce Grouse.

It’s getting close to hunting season and we were looking to boost awareness of the facebook page, so we figured…why not give away some gear?!

We have been lifetime fans of Cold Steel Knives and have tremendously enjoyed working with them over the past few years. I’ve carried a Cold Steel knife in my pocket, strapped to my belt and in my backpack for as long as I can remember. One of their models that I am very partial to, is their Pendleton Hunter. So, that’s what we are giving away! All you have to do to be entered, is “Like” our facebook page, “Like” the post that’s pinned to the top and tag a friend on the post. That’s it, plain and simple! Once the page reaches 1,500 hundred “Likes”, we will be giving the Pendelton Hunter away. Oh, but wait….we will be giving away a couple more Cold Steel knives in the meantime. So stay tuned to the facebook page for opportunities to win.

Follow the instructions from this facebook post for a chance an awesome knife for this hunting season!

Follow the instructions from this facebook post for a chance to win an awesome knife for this hunting season!

Thank you for the support and have a great season Everyone!

Glocking for Bears: part II

19 Jul

*Look for a version of this story to be published in an upcoming issue of Bear Hunting Magazine!

I always am mesmerized by the pads of a predator and take the time to study them...almost like some sort of Palm Reader would analyze someone's "life line". I can't help but wonder what trails have been trod and how many miles had been laid down in this bear's 15-20 year estimated years.

I always am mesmerized by the pads of a predator and take the time to study them…almost like some sort of Palm Reader would analyze someone’s “life line”. I can’t help but wonder what trails have been trod and how many miles had been laid down in this bear’s 15-20  estimated years. A quick note on field judging bears, based on the size of their pads: measure across the pad and then add one inch to equal what the bear would square. This bear’s pads almost measured six inches across, which jived perfectly…as the bear squared over six feet.

There is a saying that “every dog will have his day” and this most certainly applies to hunting. If you spend enough time in the woods, you are bound to experience an “epic” encounter at some point. A few weeks back, my number was apparently up to be thrown a bone and I was to experience one of these “epic encounters”.

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A Lion Will Do

9 Jul

Originally published on the Sitka Gear Insight blog: https://www.sitkagear.com/insight/a-lion-will-do

 

This past hunting season was pretty rough. Just to put it bluntly. At one point during the opening weekend of the September Elk season…I wanted to call it quits. I took the first shot opportunity that I had on a spike bull and ended up with a high-single lung hit. It gave me a blood trail that a blind man could follow and then ended in a bed of frothy, pink blood…but no bull. After two days of searching with everything that I had, I came up empty…and that’s how I felt. I went through the motions for almost a week before I finally started to get it together. The month of September came and went and I moved on to focus my efforts on filling my deer tag.

Looking on in disbelief at a blood-filled bed at the end of a heavy blood trail...but no elk to be found.

Looking on in disbelief at a blood-filled bed at the end of a heavy blood trail…but no elk to be found.

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The Mountain Got It’s Own Ways

26 Sep
I made camp where my legs gave out on me. It just happened to be on a narrow saddle that was the only way over the mountain and onto the nearby ridge system.

I made camp where my legs gave out on me. It just happened to be on a narrow saddle that was the only way over the mountain and onto the nearby ridge system.

For some reason Will Greer’s line to Robert Redford in “Jeremiah Johnson” springs to mind, when I think of this past opening weekend’s bivy hunt. “You can’t cheat the mountain Pilgrim. Mountain’s got it’s own ways”. It seems just spot-on appropriate.

I began scouting the higher elevations just as soon as the snow receded enough to give me access and quickly found an area that held plenty of promise and had me excited. Towards the end of July, I began climbing higher and higher up the mountain and was surprised to find plenty of Elk, Mule Deer and Bear sign. The sight of a small Elk herd lolling in an Alpine bowl one afternoon, had my hopes high and fantasies of chasing bugling bulls above the tree line brimmed in my heart.

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Laying it all on the line

13 Sep
A moment of complete exhaustion, during the last physical trial of the Train To Hunt Challenge: Pack on burpees.

A moment of complete exhaustion, during the last physical trial of the Train To Hunt Challenge: Pack on burpees.

Every year I look forward to new adventures and new challenges; but I often find myself living inside my comfort zone. Nothing irks me more than living vicariously through other’s achievements or feeling inspired by what someone else has overcome; only to sit idly by…wistfully.

According to Newton’s first law of motion; it’s the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion. And when overcoming the inertia of our routine seems too difficult, or impossible; what do we do? We have to mix it up, we have to push forward…and push hard.

I started off this year with my heart and mind committed that I would make this season better than the last and in doing so; I would need to mix it up and step outside of my comfort zone a bit. I needed a goal that deviated from the same old “scout more, shoot my more bow more, train more” gibberish that everyone mutters at the start of each year. To do this I had to think bigger and commit to something that would be difficult…and why not announce it to everyone, while also reaching out for sponsors, for some added  accountability?

As soon as I heard of this “premier adventure race for bowhunters” called the Train To Hunt Challenge, AKA the”Search For The Fittest Bowhunter In The West”…I immediatly made up my mind that I was in. It was announced late last year and with snow still covering the ground; I went into training mode full-bore. Since I had been hunting more and more with my Recurve and had every intention of starting the season with it in hand…I had to ask myself; why wouldn’t I compete with anything other than what I would be using in the mountains? This would put me at a disadvantage; as far as being competitive goes…but this was more of a competition with myself, more than anything else. The course had been set and no alterations would be made…at least that’s what I thought.

One of many training sessions. This was just after the snow melted; I trained rain or shine and as many days a week that my schedule would allow. This day it was pouring down rain. My wife had to snap a pic; thinking that I was crazy as she watched me shoot an arrow, sprint to the target and back and shoot again, all while it rained cats and dogs. You only get out of things what you put into it...and it was my intention to "go big".

One of many training sessions. This was just after the snow melted; I trained rain or shine and as many days a week that my schedule would allow. This day it was pouring down rain. My wife had to snap a pic; thinking that I was crazy as she watched me shoot an arrow, sprint to the target and back to shoot again, all while it rained cats and dogs. You only get out of things what you put into it…and it was my intention to “go big”.

With every workout; I felt my strength and endurance growing and with that, my confidence in my stickbow shooting grew as well. A moment dawned upon me; could I possibly do this? Could I possibly stand a chance of going beyond just competing…when the dust settled, could I actually be standing tall as the victor? At that point is when things went horribly off course.

One of the many logs that I had to clear by hand this day. By the time that I got to the log that would end up knocking the "eff" out me; I was pretty exhausted and obviously was not thinking clearly. Hopefully I learned my lesson and will always assume that any downed tree is under tension!

One of the many logs that I had to clear by hand this day. By the time that I got to the log that would end up knocking the “eff” out me; I was pretty exhausted and obviously was not thinking clearly. Hopefully I learned my lesson and will always assume that any downed tree is under tension!

The first setback came in the form of a concussion sustained from having an ax handle and my own fist being driven into my face. This happened while clearing a road into an area where my hunting partner had drawn a spring bear tag. I was very fortunate that I walked away with only a concussion, a broken tooth and a slightly mangled right hand. But this would set my training back an entire month and I was almost devastated.

Even though I couldn’t exercise much beyond a short, light walk during the time my brain was healing from my concussion; it was only a couple of weeks before my hand healed enough to allow me to shoot my bow again. I was ecstatic about this and began to shoot my bow daily from that point on.

A view from a rainy day in the spring bear stand. My nephew was to arrow a nice, 300# bear from a different location this afternoon. I had the pleasure of dragging his bear out for him. His expression when he first caught a glimpse of what he had shot; was well worth the effort...even if it was supposed to have been MY bear!

A view from a rainy day in the spring bear stand. My nephew was to arrow a nice, 300# bear from a different location this afternoon. I had the pleasure of dragging his bear out for him. His expression when he first caught a glimpse of what he had shot; was well worth the effort…even if it was supposed to have been MY bear!

Before long I was back into the swing of things and almost to the fitness level as I was before my accident…and then the second set back occurred. After spending a week with my wife on the island of Kauai; I returned and promptly tore my hamstring…only three weeks before the competition. It almost seemed that I just wasn’t supposed to reach my goals this year and that I just wasn’t supposed to be competing in any “bowhunter specific adventure race”. I wanted to scream out loud my frustration; but still was determined to be at the competition and do what I could. A week later found me in a treestand and waiting on a bear that never showed it’s self; but I had the privilege of packing out my Nephew’s first Black Bear instead. Somehow my hamstring kept it’s self together, as I lugged the 6′ 3″, 300 lb bear out of the woods. My nephew’s grin and enthusiasm matched the size of the bear that he had pin-wheeled…and that was more than enough for me.

I had so much anxious energy before the competition; I had a very hard time dealing with it. If I would have had to wait much longer for my heat...I might have blew a gasket!

I had so much anxious energy before the competition; I had a very hard time dealing with it. If I would have had to wait much longer for my heat…I might have blew a gasket!

The morning of the competition had my hamstring feeling a little tender and the butterflies in my stomach had me feeling very anxious. I gave it everything that I had and ended up finishing dead last in my division. Even though the competitive side in me wasn’t happy with my performance that day; deep down a warm feeling of satisfaction welled within me. Sometimes just being able to stay the course and finish; means more than the end result.

Crossing the finish line and completing a goal that pushed me past my comfort zone and made me reach deep within myself to complete.

Crossing the finish line and completing a goal that pushed me past my comfort zone and made me reach deep within myself to complete.

A quick note to thank some key people who provided some crucial help that enabled me to compete in this event.

I want to first thank Tim Endsley, of Bad Medicine Archery for his endless generosity. Without him, I truly would not have been able to even enter the competition!

I would like to thank the folks from Alaska Bowhunting Supply and Grizzly Stik arrows; for providing me with the absolute, hands-down, best arrow shafts that I’ve ever had the privilege to shoot. Grizzly Stiks “fly like darts and hit like a Mack truck!”

Also; I would like to thank South cox, of Stalker Stickbows for building the finest, custom recurve that I’ve ever laid hands to. My Wolverine FXT definitely delivers the goods!

Last but not least; a huge thanks to my best friend and hunting partner Darin, for running with me and documenting the event. I can’t wait to put all of his footage together!

Writing my competitor number on each of my arrows. A big thanks to Tim Endsley of Bad Medicine Archery for sponsoring me for this event!

Writing my competitor number on each of my arrows. A big thanks to Tim Endsley of Bad Medicine Archery for sponsoring me for this event!

My Grizzly Stik Momentum EFOC's, dressed up with some blingin' custom arrow wraps from Bad Medicine Archery.

My Grizzly Stik Momentum EFOC’s, dressed up with some blingin’ custom arrow wraps from Bad Medicine Archery.

This must have been pee #60 before I competed in my heat. I didn't have any caffeine that morning...so it must have been nerves.

This must have been pee #60 before I competed in my heat. I didn’t have any caffeine that morning…so it must have been nerves.

Warming up with some dips.

Warming up with some dips.

Event jersey

The first physical challenge: over your pack burpees.

The first physical challenge: over your pack burpees.

The one and only target that I missed during the comp; would basically put the nail in the coffin of my placing. If you missed a target; you had to do double of that physical challenge. This was the worst possible target that I could have missed; because Backpack Getups were the only physical challenge that I struggled with.

The one and only target that I missed during the comp; would basically put the nail in the coffin of my placing. If you missed a target; you had to do double of that physical challenge. This was the worst possible target that I could have missed; because Backpack Getups were the only physical challenge that I struggled with.

More backpack-getup agony

More backpack-getup agony

100 yard "shuttle run", with a 70# sandbag. One of the easier challenges.

100 yard “shuttle run”, with a 70# sandbag. One of the easier challenges.

Catching my breath and getting ready to thump a target.

Catching my breath and getting ready to thump a target.

Just after loosing the second to last arrow of the competition.

Just after loosing the second to last arrow of the competition.

Catching my breath during the last physical challenge: pack on burpees.

Catching my breath during the last physical challenge: pack on burpees.

Heading to the last target. I remember this target vividly; it was an Elk and I was pretty gassed. I remember letting the arrow fly...wondering if I had even picked a spot...and then being relieved to see that I had scored a neck hit.

Heading to the last target. I remember this target vividly; it was an Elk and I was pretty gassed. I remember letting the arrow fly…wondering if I had even picked a spot…and then being relieved to see that I had scored a neck hit.

Since I wanted to finish strong and not re-injure my hamstring ; I chose to walk at times. This was right before the last target.

Since I wanted to finish strong and not re-injure my hamstring ; I chose to walk at times. This was right before the last target.

Taking aim on the last target and then it was a 400+ Meter sprint to the finish.

Taking aim on the last target and then it was a 400+ Meter sprint to the finish.

This was immediately after I crossed the finish line. A lot of things were going through my head at this moment. One of which was being glad that my hamstring held up; but the competitor within me was grumbling over my finish time of 36:00.

This was immediately after I crossed the finish line. A lot of things were going through my head at this moment. One of which was being glad that my hamstring held up; but the competitor within me was grumbling over my finish time of 36:00.

Sweaty, dirty and thirsty.

Sweaty, dirty and thirsty.

Even though I didn't finish as competitively as I had originally hoped; I felt deeply satisfied to have finished what I had started.

Even though I didn’t finish as competitively as I had originally hoped; I felt deeply satisfied to have finished what I had started.

I'm very proud to be a member of the Bad Medicine Archery Pro Staff. Live your brand! #noregrets

I’m very proud to be a member of the Bad Medicine Archery Pro Staff. Live your brand! #noregrets

Not the placing I had hoped for! Since I was the very first person to compete with a Traditional bow; I was showed a certain amount of respect...even though I placed dead last. To me; it was just competing with the gear that I would be using when it really mattered. And of course I thought that besides the limitations of my injury; I could have at least made a better showing with my shooting. But I guess that never being satisfied is the only we can continue to improve ourselves.

Not the placing I had hoped for! Since I was the very first person to compete with a Traditional bow; I was showed a certain amount of respect…even though I placed dead last. To me; it was just competing with the gear that I would be using when it really mattered. And of course I thought that besides the limitations of my injury; I could have at least made a better showing with my shooting. But I guess that never being satisfied is the only way we can continue to improve ourselves.

Warming up before the 3D shoot; which was the second day of the competition.

Warming up before the 3D shoot; which was the second day of the competition.

I had the privilege of shooting with a few of the top placers in this competition. Not only were the outstanding athletes; but they were a great bunch of people as well. Thanks guys; I had a great time!

I had the privilege of shooting with a few of the top placers in this competition. Not only were they outstanding athletes; but they were a great bunch of people as well. Thanks guys; I had a great time!

Bearing down

If you look closely; you can see my orange fletching streaking towards the target.

If you look closely; you can see my orange fletching streaking towards the target.

Pick a spot

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