Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pheasant Stew

This recipe came to me via my friend Jackie. When I saw it said crock pot, I was there in a heartbeat. I made this recipe yesterday and it was very good. The Pheasant fell off the the leg and wing bones and had a wonderful flavor.


2 Pheasants, boned out
2 cans chicken broth
1 can tomatoes in chipotle sauce
4 garlic cloves
1 yellow onion
2 red potatoes
1 broccoli floret
16 oz. crimini mushrooms
olive oil

1 c. whole wheat flour
1Tbls. pepper
dash paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery powder


Bone out the pheasants as best as possible, I left the thighs, drumsticks and wings whole.
Toss in a paper bag with seasoning and shake well then put into skillet and brown for a few minutes. Then place in crock pot.

Next slice the onion and leave as rings, quarter the mushrooms and chop the garlic. Place in skillet and saute when pheasant is done. Then add to crock pot and turn crock on H.

Next pour the chicken broth in the skillet to deglaze then add to crock.
Then add the Tomato Chipotle sauce.
Add broccoli and potatoes chopped /diced as you like and cook on high for 3 hours, followed by low for 2 hours. Find a pheasant leg and make sure the meat falls off the bone, then you are done.

This recipe is easy and delicious. Best of all, I was able to freeze a couple containers for a quick and easy dinner or lunch. Bon Appetit!

Jet and I are headed to Klamath tomorrow and hopefully we'll find some waterfowl. My shop work is complete for now so off we go for a pre Christmas duck and goose hunt. I hope to have some stories for you all when we get back. Have a great weekend everyone!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sub Zero and Wood Chips

Hello to one and all! I just thought I'd give you all a quick update on the past weeks events.

The week started out with getting materials for a large dovetail drawer order on Monday. Before I begin routing the dovetails the material is machined to 5/8" thickness using first a jointer then a thickness planer. Then I go to the table saw and rip the maple to specific widths followed by the chop saw where it is cut to specified lenghts. Then it is ready to be routed into dovetail drawers. Followed by ripping the groove for the drawer bottoms, then sand the inside surfaces of the drawer before they are glued, assembled and pin nailed. After which more sanding (and puttying if needed) then the backs are notched on the table saw using a dado blade for bottom mount drawer guides which sit up under the drawer sides. After that comes routing a 1/4 radius on the top edges of the drawers with the exception of the front outside edge where an applied drawer front will go. Then I sand the radius and give the drawer a quick once over before calling it done. Phew, so lets see. . . I have 33 finished from stock of 8" and wider(inside drawer depth) and am now working on the last 40 which are smaller in height and will take a third less time to sand etc. Delivery day is this coming Monday, so I guess you figured it out already that I won't be in the marsh this weekend. Which brings me to the other noteworthy highlight of this week.

Sub zero temps and I am talking really cold, like try about - 28 degrees F. That'll put a damper on your waterfowl hunting. Only the fact that every piece of water is now frozen and then some. I imagine the birds that were here in Central Oregon are either hanging on the faster stretches of water on the Deschutes River or have gone South. I know I'd head south if I were a feathered fowl. Being a woodworker has its advantages for sure, especially in the winter. Now as for summer, then I'm missing being outdoors. The trade off is well worth it and I am glad to not be an excavator. That would be a miserable job during winter, just ask my hunting buddy John about that. Fortunately we only had 4 or so days of that sub zero and now we are back with seasonal averages. Not quite tropical, but close!

Well enough ramblings, time to go relax for awhile then get busy finishing up my drawers. Have a good weekend everyone and I hope to be back out in the field next week. Jet is even starting to get a bit of cabin fever so we'll be going hunting somewhere. Even if it's only to take my shotgun for a walk it'll be good to get out and stretch our legs a bit.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity for The Hunt

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rose Bowl Bound

So, how about those ducks! I am trickled pink that they have continued to play well and now off to the big show. As for me, sorry for my absence as it is not due to my hunting, but rather the opposite.

I did spend a few days on my second season archery cow elk hunt and had zero luck. I decided to call it quits on that due to the fact it was costing me 40 bucks in gas for each day of hunting. With the lack of work and the holidays it just wasn't panning out period. The good news is that I am now swamped with several custom dovetail drawer jobs. These will keep me busy in the shop for the next 2 weeks and with a little luck I hope to get away for a quick weekend waterfowl hunt.

I have missed my daily reads and hope to get back to visiting my favorite bloggers here in the near future. Until then have a great time hunting, fishing and just being in the great outdoors. I'll be making lots of sawdust and look forward to getting back in the field.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Season Update

So far it has been a slow hunting season with limited results. After spending the month of September archery elk hunting I switched gears to rifle deer and then some early season waterfowling. Harvest numbers throughout the state are well below average for deer and elk this year. The only days I've brought something home for the freezer has been with shotgun. Even the waterfowl hunting has been one of the poorest years to date so far.

Typically the Klamath basin in southern Oregon is brimming over with waterfowl, but not this year. There is a lull during the migration in mid November historically, yet this year we haven't even had decent early season numbers of migrating birds. The local breeding ducks we had are long gone or in a freezer now. With few northern storms pushing birds south it may be a very poor harvest for waterfowlers overall. Another important factor is the Columbia Basin grain fields and open water year round. Since the mid 70's when farming practices changed to include more grain crops the waterfowl numbers migrating south of the Columbia has dropped significantly. I can't blame the birds for not flying further. If I had food and water I'd probably stay there too for the winter. Certainly a matter of survival and they know the odds it seems and play them to their advantage. There is a saying that goes something like this: There is a time to try and a time to fly and a smart bird knows why.

I am preparing for the second season elk archery cow only hunt, which starts this Saturday and goes thru December 13, '09 on the west side of the Cascade Mt's. in a few select units. I am going scouting on Friday and with some luck maybe even bed down the elk. Sure would be a nice way to start the hunt, especially due to the fact that it will be in very thick timber and underbrush. It will be a wet hunt even if it doesn't snow or rain. We have had good snow in the mountains recently which will be helpful in pushing the elk to lower elevations. Fortunately the cows and calf's move down lower before the tough old bulls do. I will be getting up at o dark hundred, driving for an hour before getting to where I'll be hunting, then get out and commence to find tracks. If the weather gets nasty I'll spend time driving trying to cut fresh tracks before getting out on foot. Just have to take it a day at a time and be prepared for anything, including success.

This week has been sunny and mild temps reaching into the mid 50's and upper teens at night. Snow is in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, so I am once again optimistic about my upcoming hunt. Jet will be keeping the home fires stoked while I am away on my cow quest. Actually on our last duck hunt a week ago she was in rare form and quite enthusiastic about retrieving. Was refreshing after our previous weeks adventure. More on last weeks duck hunt later.

Jet and I want to thank you all for visiting the pages of Women's Hunting Journal and we wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Will catch up with you all next week. Cheers!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hunting Dogs

As I wrote recently about my hunting partner Jet going into to semi retirement, I am reminded of how we function as a team. I have bird hunted since I was barely double digits and it was soon there after that my dad gave me my first hunting dog, Mugs.

I didn't fully understand why my dad and I went to visit this gentleman at the outskirts of Medford, Or. and all his dogs. It was a chilly gray day and I recall the pungent smell of wet decaying leaves, as we waked the long gravel driveway towards the back of the house where the kennels were. As we approached the back door the owner greeted us stepping down from his back porch. The gentleman was big in stature with a comfortable round belly and a soft deep voice. He had a 2 day beard and a sparkle in his eye with heavy brows. His skin was dark and his hair was a touch gray with bushy sideburns. He wore cacky pants and a plaid Pendleton wool shirt much the same as my dad. His smile came easy as my dad introduced me to him. His name was Mr. Art Smith and we seemed to hit it off. He extended his hand to shake mine and I was a touch shy and honored as I reached to meet his hand with mine. He and my dad conversed as we headed towards the kennels. Art brought out a few of his Black Labrador Retrievers and continued talking with my dad, while I played with the dogs. Whatever was said between Art and my dad I have no recollection of. I was caught in the moment and having a great time on my own. After awhile we said our good-byes and left for home. Art waving to us with a big smile on his face as we backed out his driveway and made our way home.

I asked dad what we were doing there and I recall him being somewhat vague in his reply. Not thinking much of it we went about our way. It was several months later when my dad surprised me with my first dog, a Black Labrador puppy only 9 weeks old. Considering the fact that my brother already had a dog of his own. Oh yes, the competitive sibling rivalry was in overdrive at our home. Being the youngest of 3 and the only girl I had my work cut out for me from the start.

Later that day my dad explained that there were a few conditions I needed to meet to be a responsible dog owner. First, being I had to clean up any messes, second go through obedience training with my pup. Seemed easy enough and I asked dad what to name him? He said I'd have to think of something. So I asked dad what his first dogs name was and he said "Mugs" ----- So if it was good enough for my dad then it was good enough for me, so Mugs he was. He was a stout little guy about 9 weeks old and full of piss and vinegar. A beautiful Black Labrador retriever with strong English bloodlines with a dose of American Field Trial in him. He was a short fellow with a long wavy coat and a short otter tail. I had no idea how much work I was in for, nor the incredible rewards that come from such efforts and close relationships. I soon learned that it was Mr. Smith who was teaching the obedience classes and now the pieces were falling into place. It was indeed Mr. Smith whose kennels Mugs came from.

I was so excited and determined to follow through and be a responsible dog owner. I worked with Mugs every day after school and throughout the summer months on obedience. He and I did well for our first go around. We managed to graduate obedience with flying colors and with guidance from Mr. Smith I began teaching Mugs the basics of retrieving and coming to sit and heel. I was beaming with pride as Mugs was a quick learner and made me look good as a dog trainer. He and I spent 13 years together hunting all types of birds. From Mt.Quail, Doves, Grouse, Pheasant, Snipe, ducks and geese we did it all. He was a Pheasant dog extraordinaire as he wore the hair right off his brows from working the tules. He didn't have far to reach to sniff the trail of an elusive Pheasant. He was a gentleman amongst male dogs and not a fighter. Yet he certainly had his share of other males picking fights with him.

Mugs and I had travelled many a mile together, some easy and some not so. We grew up together quite literally. Through the tough teen years and also when my parents passed. He helped me get through those difficult times, as I still needed to take care of him. It has been said about dogs, that they give us far more than we give in return and I must agree with that. I can not imagine my life without having had Mugs, Teak and now Jet by my side. Even though my heart breaks with each one I've had to put down I find the companionship and rewards well worth the pain. Their loyalty is admirable, their willingness to please is second to none and the love they give unconditional. What fine teachers they have been and continue to be. I am certainly the one whose life has been enriched by their presence. A quote I saw once, "If only I can become the person my dog thinks I am". Have you hugged your dog today?

Top photo: Mugs and I when he was just a year old
Bottom photo: Mugs is almost 9 after a mornings hunt on the Klamath River, OR.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gear Review : Prois Pro - Edition Pants

I purchased a pair of these womens hunting pants just a few months ago and had high hopes that I finally found a pair of women's hunting pants that would meet my needs. The archery elk season was fast approaching and so I took a chance and ordered a pair, hopeful that perhaps a company had finally gotten it right, ultimately I was disappointed.

First let me go over the pros:

I liked the 9" leg zippers and elasticized cuffing with cordlock to cinch cuff around boots to keep debris out and cuffs quiet. The fabric is 100% brushed tricot and is soft, sturdy, silent and snag resistant. This I would agree with. The inseam length and rise of the pants was fine and not a problem. The quality of the zippers themselves was impressive and very sturdy. I wish I had more pros to mention, but I don't. Having been unable to use them during my elk hunt, I can not attest either way to the quality of the construction or stitching.

Now the cons:

I ordered a size L. as these are offered in XS, S, M, L and XL. Typically I wear a woman's size 6 or 8 pant so using their size chart I fell between the M. and L. and so I figured the Large would give me the extra room I needed in the seat and thighs for hunting. True to their size chart the waist was 30.5 to 32"( mine is 30") and so I had them altered to fit me better. Not a big inconvenience and I expected this. I had the cam strap with ladder lock removed on the waist band as they interfered with my day pack. I also had 2 belt loops added one on each side of the front closure. This way my belt would not ride up over the top of the pants. The seat area was marginal with room to spare. The thigh area and cargo pockets lacked the extra room I need in a hunting pant. I put my Garmin GPS in my right cargo pocket and the pocket was not long enough to accept my GPS so I could secure the flap over the top with the magnetic closure. I need roomy cargo pockets where I can fit more than one item and they won't ride tight against my body. The left cargo pocket is where I put my Bushnell Monarch rangefinder and that barely fit and again was uncomfortable for field use. The magnetic closure itself is for light duty and is a weak closure at best. The cargo pockets are of little use to me other than perhaps a roll of flagging tape or similar small items. The rear pockets I also found too small and without a secure closure such as a button or zipper, only a flap that is sewn across the top and down slightly over the sides of the pocket openings. The front pockets with their zippers I found to be less functional because of the zippers. Those are the pockets which do not need zippers and items have the least chance of falling out.

For me I was not able to use these women's hunting pants for my archery elk hunt because of these cons. I resorted to my Cabela's Micro-Tex men's small hunting pant that gives me unrestricted movement in the thigh area along with roomy cargo pockets for my GPS, rangefinder and other hunting gear. No one has ever accused me of making a fashion statement and I just didn't find these women's hunting pants to meet my needs in function and unrestricted movement. While I commend Prois for their efforts there still remains a need for quality, well fitting, functional women's hunting clothing. I look forward to following the development of their women's clothes.

Disclaimer: I paid full retail and did not, nor have I made any financial gains what soever surrounding the purchase or review I have given. The opinion expressed is solely mine and no one elses.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jet's Best Years

It is with a somewhat heavy heart that I write this post. It is about my hunting companion of the four legged variety. It seems that recently when we were out waterfowl hunting that she informed me that she's had enough and her heart just isn't in it anymore. Needless to say I was deeply saddened by her news. The way in which this came about I will share with you now.

We were at Lowlands in S.Oregon's Klamath Basin to be specific. We had hunted ducks the day prior and mostly doing so by walking the many dikes and jump shooting the ditches. In the morning we waited til we had fair light and then went out spending about 3 to 4 hours walking and getting a few ducks. The retrieves Jet made were not difficult, at least not in the typical manner of waterfowling. They were straight forward, easily marked and without heavy cover or long swims required. She was working at her usual pace of "I'll get there when I get there and just hold your horses," all of which I fully understand and have come to respect of her. We had 4 ducks in my vest and headed to the cabin around 11'ish. Time to get a cup of coffee and take a break for both of us. I cleaned the birds and had brunch then we went back out for a short afternoon hunt. With very few birds in the area, all we got was 1 hen N. Shoveller. We called it a day and turned in for the night. Jet was tired and ready for her dinner, followed by her 8 p.m. scooby snack which is the norm and a good nights sleep. Well, and maybe a belly rub or two if I was so inclined. I was all to happy to accommodate as it also gives me a chance to giver her a good looking over for burs or any problems she might be having.

We got up early the next morning and I coffee'ed up followed by a bowl of cereal then out we went. We walked the back ditch first and nothing happening there. We then went to the S. side towards the Klamath Rv. and just as we started down the main road to the river, a Pheasant flushed from beneath a wild rose bush and I dropped it shooting through the bush. Now I knew why Jet was whining while I got ready cause she could smell that the Pheasant was close by. I marked her and sent her on her way for what I figured to be a slam dunk retrieve. Boy was I ever wrong. Firstly she is losing her hearing and second, she didn't follow my mark. My mistake there. So as she went across the shallow water filled ditch and came to the top of the dike she then ran up and down the dike and didn't see the Pheasant splashing in the water only 30 feet further out. There was very little cover on the dike and she had her own agenda which was scenting where the Pheasant had come from. Not so uncommon. As I was walking back to get some rocks to throw in the water to get her attention she winded the Pheasant and was on her way. I shortly heard her whining after she had been searching for the bird amidst the long stem bulrush. I saw her standing belly deep, stationary as a stone with the Pheasant a foot away from her. She had a look of "I'm not liking this and will you please come help me" on her face. I was dumbfounded and tried my best to encourage her to help herself but to no avail. She wasn't really stuck in the bulrush as much as I think she was cold and tired. Her expression was very clear that she wasn't having fun. I was not wearing waders or hip boots so I succumbed to the knee deep water to go help and upon reaching her, I patted her pointy little head and said "come on, lets go sis" then picked up the Pheasant and headed for dry land. I gave her a gentle tug at the top of her shoulders to get her moving and that was all she needed. I guess sometimes we all need a little help and I was glad to oblige her.

I was challenged to manage my emotions and not offend her. Frustration, disappointment and sadness were filling my body. She sat at my side loyal, tired and a bit sad herself I feel. Sad that she wasn't able to do what I asked. Labs are overachievers when it comes to wanting to please their owners. I saw her disappointment in volumes in every wet hair on her body. I loved her up and choked back the tears and decided to make a hunt out of the morning anyhow. I was soaked up to my knees and it didn't matter. What did matter, was giving Jet an enjoyable positive experience before we called it a day. After all we have been a team for many years and I wasn't going to let down my end of the deal. We walked the main river dike and eventually made our way back to the truck. She was pooped and laid down immediately. I was hoping to get an opportunity to let her make a retrieve so we could get her confidence up. It just wasn't meant to be so we headed to the cabin to dry out and got ready to head home.

Every dog is an individual with their own likes, dislikes and tolerances for discomfort. She was a slow starter yet has had many excellent years and still has a few more in her. She will be 10 in March and even though my previous 2 Labradors worked in their 13 th. year not every dog has the same drive, desire or genetics to do so. I have much respect for her and look forward to some easier hunts with her.

The road home was a longer drive than usual. I thought long and hard about what changes I'll make so Jet and I can continue to hunt together. She will get the easy days with mild weather and I'll be thankful for whatever she is willing to do. What's most important to me is that she has fun being in the field. I am beginning my search for a new family member come next spring. With any luck I'd like to find a started dog, preferably a female Yellow Labrador Retriever. Certainly not the high octane American Labrador Field Trial blood lines but rather the English Labrador field hunting lines. Will keep you informed as the search progresses. If anyone has some good leads or positive experiences from a kennel or breeder, I am happy for the recommendations and referrals. Til then we'll keep it simple and fun for Jet and myself.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Monday, November 9, 2009

Elk Hunting, DIY Public Lands Pt.2

It was the second morning of our 5 day elk hunt and John was looking much worse than the night before. He wasn't having any fun and looked to be quite miserable. He was quiet (certainly not typical) achy, plugged up and most likely running a low grade fever. I resisted poking fun at him knowing it may be me in his shoes at any time. We opted to do some driving, hoping to find fresh tracks to go on and eventually ease our way to a nearby town. I was wishing I had a dust mask from my shop so I was able to keep from getting his bug. I urged him to keep drinking fluids and that we'd get him some over the counter meds when we hit Bly. We never did cut any tracks while on our way to Bly, although we did see a dandy Mule deer buck just behind a very well posted fence line. He stood long enough for us to get a good look then he trotted off into the scrub landscape. We eventually made it to Bly and got what we needed, then made our way back towards camp coming full circle.

Getting on into early afternoon and John was finally starting to feel better. His moans eventually turn into words and then full sentences as he was coming back to life. We opted to make it a short day and not push our luck with John feeling better. So an early dinner and a few games of cribbage before we hit the hay around 10. It seemed John had made a 98% recovery in just about 24 hours time. Whatever it was he had, we were both relieved and thankful that it left with just about the same speed at which it came.

I awoke at 3 in the morning to stoke the wood stove and heard the soft serenade of snowfall on the nylon tent fly. I peeked outside and yes indeed it was certainly coming down. Had about 2 inches when we got up and started getting ready for the days hunt. Optimism bloomed again and we headed to Green Mt. in hopes of finding fresh elk sign. Parked at the end of a spur road, we set a time for a radio check and then took off. The weather was cloudy, foggy and everything was very wet as the temps warmed and the snow melted from the trees. The walking was quiet with the recent precipitation and now all we needed was elk. After several hours we checked in and neither of us had good news to report. I had seen some fresh deer sign and several piles of bear scat, yet no elk sign. John had seen some older elk tracks but nothing to really get excited about. We met back at the rig and continued our search for fresh elk sign. We did cut some tracks that were a few days old that we decided to investigate. We never did find where the tracks crossed a road out, so we figured they still had to be in the area, somewhere. I dropped John off and he set his compass bearing to meet me back at the main road. After a couple hours he re emerged from the woods with no fresh elk sign to report. With darkness approaching fast we headed back to camp.

We were running out of ideas and the conversations were waning as neither of us had any new ideas. Sometimes I just wish I knew what I didn't know. We had come across several other rigs and hunters. No one had any positive news or had even seen an elk in the area. The weather was breaking and it was going to be a chilly night. We ate the last of the BBQ grouse with some spaghetti and a small green salad. We were fast losing our inspiration and motivation.

Next to last day and we set out for Green Mt. as that was where we'd found the best sign. I was beginning to be more hopeful of seeing the bear if not any elk. The scat I had found was chucked full of Salal berries and the pile was a foot wide by 2 feet long if not more. Quite fresh too as it was still holding its shape. I was guessing that the bear was at least 5 to 6 foot square if not larger by the size of his scat. The diameter was that of a Mag Lite with D batteries or bigger. There were numerous rock outcroppings that may have a den in them, but I wasn't going looking for that specifically. Quite the contrary. There were also many areas of re prod that were very dense and not wanting to surprise the bear I kept a safe margin from the edges. We again met up after several hours and sat together eating our lunches. John had found some elk tracks but still not super fresh, at best maybe few days. I never did find Mr.Bear although I was certainly hoping so. I did come across a few more scat piles and I really wanted to catch a glimpse of him. He would have to have been at least pushing 7 square for me to harvest him as that is my standard that was set with my first and only bear to date. (Read story here Pt.1 & 2) I certainly would have enjoyed some bear thuringer for the holidays. After we finished lunch and munched on some homemade cookies we opted to go find the Blue Grouse and lay down our rifles for awhile.

The clouds were moving in and it was looking like it did the day we drove in nearly 6 days ago. The only difference was that the wind wasn't blowing the trees down across the road. We eventually found our way back to Blue Grouse headquarters only to find 2 well educated souls who flushed fast with a strong tailwind. So we walked around for awhile hoping to find more Grouse that were a bit less educated but we never did. We began the 20 mile drive back to camp and opted to call it a hunt and begin breaking camp the following morning. We just weren't able to find any decent sign to convince us it was worth our efforts to keep hunting. Not an easy conclusion to come to and frankly, it just felt lousy.

We had a fun time and John made a full recovery while I never did get sick. John won the cribbage tourney (so far) and there will be a re match next fall if not this duck hunting season. Ultimately it was a successful hunt regardless of nothing to put in our freezers. We learned the harvest ratio for that particular unit is 1 to 2 % and the quota was actually met on opening morning on Strawberry Mt. about 60 to 70 miles S.S.E. of where we hunted. That doesn't mean we may not have increased the percentage by harvesting an elk, only that the odds weren't in our favor. Better to be out there trying than sitting at home.

This was our second time getting leftover controlled tags and I am now done doing so. Just not worth the time, money and boot leather. There are other ways to go camping that are more affordable and just as enjoyable. It may take me years to draw a tag for an area with high numbers of elk, but the wait will be worth it. To date I have 4 points or in other words, 4 years that I haven't drawn a tag in a higher percentage unit. Until then I will hunt either hunt the bow or rifle general season. Now for a couple weeks of waterfowl hunting and then my last chance for elk as the second season archery opens Nov. 28 thru Dec. 13th. 2009. This will be on the W. side of the Cascades and cow elk only. Gonna be a wet one for sure!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Elk Hunting, DIY Public Lands Pt.1

My hunting partner John and I left town on Oct 26th. with elk on our minds and a storm on the horizon. My truck was loaded with my wall tent, wood stove, camp box, dry box , coolers, cot and personal gear needed for a 5 day DIY elk hunt. John's truck was full of his gear and a bit of spare room for bringing home our prospective elk. The drive was windy and the weather was moving in quickly. The area we were going to hunt was new to both of us and we hadn't the chance to recon due to a multitude of unforeseen happenings. We needed to set up camp asap and then we'd have a day before our hunt started to do some looking around for elk sign. It took us much longer than anticipated to get to our location for camp, although along the way we had already added a little meat to the pot. The rain was starting and the wind was whipping up stronger as the afternoon progressed. Several times we had to clear fallen trees from the road to continue on our way. Experience teaches one to never go into the woods without a chainsaw.

The area we were in has been devastated by the Pine Beetle. Entire mountain sides were completely dead and dying. Yet the woodpecker population is thriving and I saw a rare sighting of a Three Toed Black Backed Woodpecker. Absolutely beautiful with his stunning brilliant yellow cap ( the photo doesn't do him justice). The area was full of slash piles and chainsaws were blazing as it had just recently been opened up to firewood cutters, both commercial and private. Needless to say we had plenty of dry wood right out our tent. As we were heading to camp I came across several Blue Grouse at the edge of the road getting gravel. I hit the brakes and radioed to John the reason for the sudden stop, and we bailed out and managed to track down a few after they flushed from the road. We each shot one and my, they are sure big birds. We were quite tickled with our success and thought it boded well for the hunt to come. We knew we might run across Grouse so we had brought our shotguns and glad we did too.

About an hour later we arrived at the Blue Lake trail head where we made camp for the next 6 nights. The weather was intermittent rain showers and sprinkles as we rushed to get the tent set up and the rain fly on. Dark was coming fast and we made it just in the nick of time. John proceeded to fire up his chainsaw and cut up some rounds for the wood stove. I followed behind splitting them into manageable sizes and making some kindling as I went. We had a late dinner afterwards consisting of a homemade stew that my friend Larry had dropped off in the morning before we left town. It was delicious, consisting of italian sausage, elk meat, cabbage, curry and an assortment of vegetables. We ate heartily and then looked over the map one more time and made a plan as to where we'd scout come morning.

We got up with the sun and headed up the Blue Lake trail in the Gearhart Wilderness to see if there was any elk sign. The trail rose from camp at an elevation of 6420' to the lake at 7035' through a mixed pine and fir forest. There were rock outcroppings and several areas of large old growth Aspens thriving in narrow draws with small water seeps fueling them along the 2.6 mile hike. Beautiful landscape yet somewhat devoid of animals. We did cross some old elk sign of approximately 15 - 20 animals that were traveling through several weeks earlier. We never did find any fresh sign on our hike, yet it just looked to good to not have elk in there. Plenty of food, cover and an excess of water sources, surely making it a challenge to find the elk. We got back to camp just as day was turning to dusk.

John chainsawed a cribbage board before total darkness and I began to prepare the salad portion of our dinner. It wasn't long before the sizzle and smell of BBQ-ed grouse began to start my belly to rumble. John cooked those birds to absolute perfection. We then began our 5 night cribbage match. John being John, had a cordless drill and small drill bits in his truck. He's the kind of guy that can rig up just about anything out of pretty much nothing. He is fondly referred to as McGiver quite often.The following morning we got up early and headed back up to Blue Lake, this time creeping along and glassing as we hunted our way to the top. We crossed a couple fresh elk tracks about 2/3 of the way up. They wandered on and off the trail and eventually into the woods. They were small tracks and we figured a cow/calf pair. We had tags for bull only and opted to let them go.

A cold wind blew and it had a bite to it as we got to the lake and had a late lunch. It was raining one minute, hailing the next and then drizzling, basically typical Oregon weather. We were a bit befuddled by the lack of sign we weren't seeing, not even any fresh deer tracks. Although the lake was beautiful and there were birds on it. Specifically a female Common Loon and a group of very dapper Buffleheads. We ate and quandered then hiked a few more miles beyond the lake hoping to find some elk sign or maybe catch an in its tracks. John hiked around the N. side of the lake and I on the S. side and we met where the trails merged. After several more miles and no sign we opted to return to camp as the day was passing quickly into night.

We both commented on how long the hike up was and as we began our descent back to camp, John began sneezing and his sinuses were running like someone had just flipped the switch. I kept giving him a look of "hey can't you be a little more quiet, after all we are hunting"? His reply was non verbal and it was clear he was going down fast. And I'm not talking the trail here either. My goodness I have never witnessed anyone sneeze so many times in succession as he was. He certainly rivaled the energizer bunny. Back to camp and I loaded him up with cold meds asap and we had a quick and easy pasta dinner then turned in after several rousing games of cribbage. We decided to do some driving the next day in hopes of cutting fresh tracks. Though as morning came John was looking a whole lot worse for wear.

Pt. 2 coming soon
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Decadent Double Chocolate Brownies

Here is a recipe that just about calls for an intervention. For those of you that are chocoholics this one's for you. I recently made these for my elk hunt that I am on right now. It's a good thing that I am putting in some miles otherwise I might be letting out my belt.


Start with 1 box Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix
1 cube butter
2 whole eggs
1/2 Dark chocolate bar ( I use Green and Black's 85% dark cocoa) chop into approximate 1/8" to 1/4 " size pieces.

In a medium size bowl add the ingredients as follows:

Melt butter so it is creamy, not liquid.
Next add eggs and mix gently.
Add brownie mix and do not over mix.
Now add 1/2 dark chocolate bar and gently mix.

Heat oven to 350 and pour brownie mix into lightly greased or buttered oven safe pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes depending on oven. Be sure to test with a knife for doneness. If the knife comes out clean, brownies are done. If not bake for a bit longer.

These are intense and somewhat habit forming. Tough to eat just one. Enjoy!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hunter Education

My favorite and best test to this date is still my Hunter’s Safety Test, that was back in 1968. It is now known as Hunter's Education and encompasses a great deal more. I can still remember my excitement and enthusiasm when I learned that I had passed with a 98% grade, only missing one question. Over the next several years I hunted numerous species of birds, and learned to drive on the dikes with my dad. All the evenings and days I spent studying were about to pay off in ways beyond my imagination and thus become a lifelong passion.

I was given a beautiful double 410 shotgun that Fall as an early Christmas present. My dad bought it at Abercrombie and Fitch in New York City back when that was, the outdoor store of hunting and fishing. Before they became the generation" X and Y” store of modern day. The 410 is the smallest bore in the shotgun class of firearms and I had a lot of firsts with it. It could except 3” shells, had auto eject, double triggers and soon I became proficient at reloading. It had fine point checkering, straight grip, beautiful scroll engraving and a Pachmayr recoil pad. I was so excited to start hunting with my dad.

Hunting season began September 1st. with Morning Doves. The weather was hot in the late afternoons and evenings in S.W. Oregon. The pungent smell of Star Thistle wafted through the air as summer began yielding to fall. We hunted a rolling pasture with a small creek cutting through the lower end. Tall Poplars and Willows lined the creek, giving us a place to ambush our prey. As we walked to our posts, our ankles showed the price of admission as the Star Thistles drew blood on our ankles and lower legs. A half hour before sunset is when we saw the most activity as the doves came fora drink just prior to roosting for the night. Doves came in fast with their typical darting and erratic flight. I followed them intensely with my little s/s 410 shotgun. Blazing away with 3" # 7 shot I was thrilled as I began hitting a few. My dad was an excellent shot and garnered a limit of 10 birds. I was just as pleased with my first 2 Doves and building confidence with each subsequent hunt. The thought of attaining a whole limit in one evening was exciting to me and a challenge I had now undertaken.

Come October we walked the cornfields with stalks towering over my head. We were in search of the Ring Necked Pheasant in all their magnificent plumage. Though I recall great frustration in the fact I was dwarfed by the cornstalks. Making it almost impossible for me to see the bird. Not to mention the difficulty with walking, as the Southern Oregon clay was building up on the soles of my boots with each step. October also meant the opening of waterfowl season. This opener, more than the others was something very special. It didn’t take me long to understand just what that was. We were up well before daylight and in the field before dawn broke. My dad set out the decoys in the shallow flooded field and we hunkered in on the face of the dike. We covered up in camo tarps and brush as we heard the first whistling wings take a pass over our decoys. The magic had begun and my eyes were the size of saucers.

The light was faint and my eyes strained looking for what my ears were hearing. A few minutes passed and there they were, Mallards, Pintails, Widgeon and Gadwalls. Not just a few, but hundreds all flying in sync and jabbering amongst themselves. I was amazed and speechless. I don’t remember how many ducks we got that morning, only that my world just got a lot more exciting. I was becoming a player in the annual change of seasons. Interacting with nature and wildlife in ways that were yet to be discovered as my young life unfolded.

My dad taught me about ethics in the field and making the right choices. Not so much in a dialogue but more so through his actions. He was a man of few words and was respected amongst his peers for his honesty and integrity. As a young girl I loved to be with my dad doing anything and felt immense pride to be his daughter. He was able to reassure me more than once that, whatever I was inclined to pursue he was in support of regardless of social gender views. No doubt being the only girl in the field and toting a Belgium side-by-side 410 there was plenty of interest and camaraderie that followed. Nowadays I shoot a Beretta 20 ga. O/U and have, since the mid 80’s. So far we seem to be doing just fine, knocking down our share of big Honkers and fast flying Pheasants. I had no idea that passing the hunters safety test would lead me to a lifelong passion of hunting.

Women's Hunting Journal
Integrity For The Hunt

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mule Deer Duck Hunt Combo

So, the conclusion of my mule deer hunt went something like this.

A day late and a storm short. Yes it's true that I missed my 4 x 4 Muley buck by perhaps only a day. Returning to Lowlands on Sunday afternoon with the season ending in 3 days I found the bucks tracks on a low road in the pummy dust. Still well defined after being driven over once from someone earlier in the day. No doubt the buck was wise from all the activity of waterfowls opener the previous weekend. Not only that but he was making himself scarce as he seemed to saunter through the area under the secured veil of darkness. I spent the last few days of the season glassing the predawn landscape for any irregularities. Hiking slowly and being as thorough as I knew how to be in picking apart the landscape in hopes of finding the big 4 x 4 bedded down amongst the rocky outcroppings and brush covered hillside. It was not to be this year for either of us. Though he had busted me on opening morning I was unable to return the favor. I chuckle in hopes that the young forked horn he has with him, will once again prove to be the sacrificial buck as was the case last year. I keep my fingers crossed that he and I may find each other a year from now and continue our dance. I tip my hat to him and thank him for the schooling which he has given me this season. I enjoyed the chase and am already looking forward to next season. After all, the hunt is in the pursuit.

Even though I was unable to harvest my buck I still managed to get some time waterfowl hunting with Jet. During the mid day we walked the ditches and jumped ducks and even a few pheasants. Jet was more than ready to get out and stretch her legs after being cooped up in the cabin while I was deer hunting.

The duck season opened up with a pair of Mallards jumping out of a ditch. I shot one of each sex and then repeated the same not more than a 1/4 mile further. All 4 ducks were adults and quite fat with beautiful plumage. Jet made the retrieves at her typical pace and I was pleased with our success. Now I had to be careful not to shoot anymore hen Mallards, as 2 are the daily limit. Fortunately that was not a problem as the majority of ducks we jumped were Gadwalls. Some of the ditches are fairly steep and difficult to get a start up for Jet, so I had to meet her upon her return at the waters edge and give her a push up the steep banks. She is such a trooper and waits for me to get to her before starting to get out of the water. That's a smart and efficient dog if you ask me. Her hind end has lost some muscle over the past few years and I am glad to give her a boost up. She won't give me the bird til she gets to the top of the dike. That was a lesson learned due to several lost birds as a result of her not delivering to hand when she was young. She used to set them down before she reached me at the top of the dike, so she could shake off the water. Now she waits and shakes after her delivery. To her I say thank you every time and give her lots of loving!

The conditions on our last afternoon hunt were extremely windy. With constant 15 to 20 mph winds the ducks were looking for protected areas. They were now being pushed off the large bodies of water where they were safe.That meant the ditches perpendicular to the wind were just what the ducks were looking for. Jet and I set out for our hunt and we had several ducks in hand after walking a short distance. The wind was so strong it was difficult for Jet to hear me giving her directions. There was still one bird left to be recovered that landed on the other side of the dike in the tules. So we walked down one side of the dike where we crossed over and returned to where the downed bird was. After a short search Jet found the drake Gadwall in the tules next to the Klamath River. The rain was on its way as we came to the end shooting time. We had a nice mixed bag of upland and waterfowl, just didn't get the venison.

After 2 days of afternoon duck and pheasant hunts we had garnered 11 downed ducks and recovered 10. For Pheasants we were able to get 2, and I also shot my first ever Blue Winged Teal. A beautiful mature female with quite a fat layer on her. Jet made consistent retrieves and took hand signals when needed. We had a great waterfowl opener which partly made up for the deer hunt. I was happy to be bringing some meat home for the freezer, finally.

I am also getting ready for my controlled rifle elk hunt which starts the end of October and goes through November 1st. It is a bull only hunt that John and I are doing in a new area we've yet to hunt. Will keep you posted on that one. We are running out of opportunities for putting some serious meat in the freezer. Beef is o.k. yet, it's not elk. Enough said!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hardcore Huntress Essay

As we get close in on Nov. 1st. when the top 10 Hardcore Huntress finalists are posted on Tahoe Films Ltd. website, I thought now is a good time to share my essay with you. Regardless of the outcome I hunt because I am passionate about it. Hunting is a large part of what makes me tick and has enriched my life beyond words. I am thankful to those who have helped with my questions early on in my blogging and have become friends through the pages of Women's Hunting Journal. A few individuals in particular I wish to extend my sincerest thank you to;

Cristina Acosta, for her encouragement, support, guidance and inspiration. Color Conversations

Daphne Hougard, who has an amazing eye for capturing women in action through the lens. DaphneHougardPhotography

Suzanne Schlosberg, for her expertise in writing, editing and knowing the right questions to ask. Suzanne Schlosberg

Without further ado, I present my Hardcore Huntress Essay and photos:

My dad began taking me upland hunting and waterfowl hunting in southern Oregon when I was 10 years old. Those excursions set in my mind search patterns for doves, mountain quail, pheasants and waterfowl. Though my dad died when I was only 17, the values and ethics he instilled in me while hunting shaped my actions in the field and transcended the hunt to enrich all aspects of my life. He taught me that a responsible hunter is a steward of the land and its resources.

About 15 years after my first hunt, I reached a time in my life when I needed to clarify why I was hunting. The taking of life had become too heavy of a burden. For several years I stepped away from the field to better understand my motives. Each autumn, I felt the change of seasons pulling me back. I missed the sounds of the marsh at daybreak, the annual migration and witnessing the arrival of a new day in landscapes rich with life. Whether I went afield with a weapon or not, I learned that my father had nurtured the heart of a hunter.

I reentered the field on a lovely October day. My sabbatical had served me well and I found myself renewed, my senses magnified. When hunting, my pace harmonizes with nature's rhythm. I become the predator, putting aside my own comforts. A successful hunt might end with 4 days of goose hunting lying motionless in a ground blind, and not firing a single shot, or spending an October night in a freezing- rain lost in a mountain forest.The challenge of surviving in the wild, the tensions between predator and prey and beauty of nature fuels my passion and commitment to hunting that keeps me in the field more than half the year.

Hunting is about paying dues and putting in time. I have stalked for hours with the scent of elk in my face encouraging me along when my leg muscles were screaming. I've hunted bear during a sodden spring in the Oregon Cascades. Hiking ridge after ridge in tick and mosquito infested vegetation in hopes of seeing bear sign. I was rewarded with a one-shot kill of a big 7 square bruin with my 7mm Remington Mag at over 200 yards downhill. Dropped him in his tracks and then the work began. The rain pounded all night. I was so tired I could barely chew my sandwich.

Decades afield have taught me that hardcore hunting is conscious hunting. The success of the hunt is not measured in hearts rendered idle, but in the total experience. Preparation, dedication and knowledge of one's prey and one's self ensures that the hunt is a privilege to be enjoyed, savored and appreciated regardless of the outcome.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pheasant Hunt

I was contemplating returning to Klamath county in hopes of trying to fill my buck tag. After a dismal opening weekend plus a few extra days, I was eager to hunt the last couple days of the deer season. I finished what I needed to do at home and hit the road. I arrived late Sunday afternoon and got settled in to the cabin. Jet was anxious to get after some birds so we commenced to look for Pheasants before evening set in.

It didn't take us long before she scented her first bird and quickly flushed the colorful ring necked pheasant into the air. I followed up her flush with a resounding BOOM and dropped my first bird of the '09-'10 season. She made a fine retrieve as has become the norm. We continued walking the edges of the dikes and she worked hard covering both sides and top of the dike. Her otter tail held strong and steady parallel to the ground until she was on fresh scent. Then she began to wag quicker and quicker and eventually appearing as a helicopter blade circling ever faster just prior to flushing. It's at the circling portion of her scenting that really makes my heart speed up and start to skip a beat. Another flushed rooster jumps high into the air, cackling from being startled and flapping with all its might. I raise my gun to cheek and shoulder all the while keeping my eye on the pheasant. I swing my gun to meet the fast flying bird and continue a bit beyond to lead it and then squeeze the trigger. Another rooster for the freezer and a job well done by Jet as she delivers to hand.

She hasn't the pace of her youth, as seen by her graying muzzle although, she is wiser now and paces herself. From such humble beginnings we have become a well oiled team. Seldom do I need to reign her in or direct her to where the prospects look good. She knows the distance with which to work in relation to me and she has her own special areas she likes to cover. She has learned what to look for and when to back track. I too have learned to yield to her when she double backs. I have learned from my previous Labs also, that they usually know more than I do. So I wait and am often rewarded with a flushed pheasant. I have taken my share of dirty looks from my Labs over the years for not paying attention and respecting them and the job they were doing. As is often said about training dogs that it is seldom the dogs fault, and typically the owners fault. I have resembled that comment more often than not, and hopefully have learned a thing or two. Upland hunting is Jet's favorite pass time. Duck and goose hunting she enjoys, but I don't see the fire under her bum for that like I do for upland birds. We had a fine evening hunt and the following days were filled with more pheasants and even some waterfowl.

Last December on my birthday we were fortunate to get a limit of Wilson's Snipe. Jet had more scent than she knew what to do with. I must admit that there were a few hundred Snipe and she wasn't always staying within range of me. Not only that, but I had to mark the birds and go directly to them without taking my eye off that spot, for fear of losing the bird. I can't blame her for coming a bit undone and not staying focused. It is quite easy to get distracted when they keep flushing up unexpectedly. You can read the full story here, Hello Five -O.

The good news is that there are Snipe at Lowlands as I write this story. I am looking forward to more fast shooting and an energized over scented Jet. That's quite a package for sure. I will once again break out my Beretta Silver Snipe 20 gauge over under and the #8 steel shot. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Those Snipe are very special birds and some of the finest table fare one can imagine.

There are few activities as fine as a fall Snipe hunt with a soft northern breeze and the smell of a marsh as the mud squishes under your boots. As the sun slides behind the horizon I make one more swing on a fast rising Snipe as they sound they're alarm call . . . scamp scamp scamp.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, October 16, 2009

Women's Hunting Journal Logo

As many of you have commented on my new header photo and Women's Hunting Journal logo, there are several people whom I want to acknowledge for their expertise and creativity. This has been a fun project, as I continue to learn and meet great people whom I now consider friends. Best of all, they're all small business owners who reside here in central Oregon, with the exception of one. Being a small business owner myself I try to keep it local and reciprocate as often as I can. A very big thank you to the following individuals and if anyone is in need of their services I highly recommend them. Both for their skills and talent, as well as their professionalism. All top notch people. A heartfelt thank you, to each of you from Jet and I!

Cristina Acosta - Color Conversations

Daphne Hougard - Daphne Hougard Photography

Lori Snyder - Snyder & Sons Unlimited email@

Tony Doorn - Doorn Sign and Design Company, LLC email@

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, October 9, 2009

Full Moon Fever

No I'm not talking about Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers either, though I am a fan. More so, wondering why it seems that several of the big game openers occur during or immediately prior to a full moon. Not sure if the Fish and Game Departments plan this or if it's just happenstance. Certainly does get me to wondering though.

My archery elk hunt began Aug. 29 which was 6 days prior to the full moon. My recent mule deer hunt began Oct. 3 which was the day before a full moon. My next elk hunt starts Oct. 28 which is 6 days prior to a full moon. My last and second season archery elk begins Nov. 28 which is only 5 days before the full moon. One of these hunts is 5 days long and another only 11 days. Sure does make it that much more challenging to find deer and elk considering they are feeding at night then bedding down during the day. The best remedy for full moon fever is weather and in the form of heavy cloud cover. This way they are unable to forage all night and will need to do so during the day. Increasing the hunters chances greatly. Weather can be the hunters best and worst friend for big game and is certainly the wild card for every hunt. Also a factor for waterfowl too, but to a lesser degree.

My recent mule deer hunt was uneventful and somewhat frustrating. I saw a beautiful 4 x 4 with a little kicker off his G3 making him a shy 5 point on his right side. None the less it was the morning before the season opened that he and his forked horn buddy came to within 65 yards of me. We both just stared at one another and then they casually walked off and continued browsing. I shrugged and heaved a long sigh of disbelief. Wondering if our paths would cross again in the days to come. It was not to be and after several days of walking, glassing and being woken by the glaring full moon, I retreated home, empty handed and a bit discouraged.

I had seen the two of them on opening morning as the horizon started lighting up. I made a plan to swing wide and come in below them so as to keep the wind in my favor. My heart was pounding and I was hoping they would bed down soon. I continued my stalk and took a quick look through my binocs and before I knew it I was busted. My heart sank and I felt the blood turn cold in my veins. I gave them one long hard look as they briskly trotted away, out of sight and range. I continued to work the same area for the next several days and had zero luck. I wasn't hearing any rifle shots in the distance either. Comforting in some ways and then again not. I returned to the cabin where I was staying and glassed to the alfalfa fields across the way, watching 20 to 30 deer feeding without a single worry. They were pressured from the surrounding mountains and had found a free pass on the private fields. Eating to their hearts content and bedding down along the fields edge.

I am pretty darn sure that the big buck, was the same one from last year. I chuckled when I saw he had young forked horn with him, another sacrifice. Unfortunately I won't be able to get after him again this year. So I will keep my fingers crossed that he will once again outwit the rest of the hunters this season, so that he and I may pick up this dance next year.

All in all it was still a good hunt, an honest hunt, and one I won't soon forget.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, October 2, 2009

Western Mule Deer

As this story comes to life on Women's Hunting Journal, I will be miles away with visions of venison backstrap on my mind. The western mule deer rifle season opener is this Saturday, October 3rd. I will once again be in Klamath County in southern Oregon for my mule deer hunt. After finishing my first season bow hunting elk, I am still very much intrigued with archery elk hunting. So much so that I have ordered Cd's about calling early season bulls when the rut is in less than full swing. Thanks to a Tom at Base Camp Legends for the tip on the Cd's, I will be practicing from here on out and be ready for next years hunt.

The archery elk season ended this past Sunday and as is typical the weather changed on Tuesday. I am now building fires in my wood stove and watching the snow and rain come down. Such crazy weather here in Central Oregon. I went out the other day and made sure my Remington 7mm Mag is still shooting where it needs to. All went well, it is so much louder than my bow(lol). I may need to try my hand at bow hunting mule deer too. There is something magical about the quietness of a bow and how close one must be in order to get a shot. Granted, the Native Americans set down their bows once they were introduced to rifles from the settlers. Still, I remain a student of hunting and the various approaches with which one can pursue game. I will be looking forward to spending time in the great outdoors searching for a mule deer buck. I am not a horn hunter. I am interested in putting meat in the freezer. I have heard many stories of hunters passing on small bucks or bulls in hopes of finding that once in a lifetime animal. All for not in the end as they came home empty handed, perhaps wishing they had not passed up that last forked horn or satellite bull.

Last year I was fortunate to get a tall forked horn on opening morning. I got to within 15 feet of 2 bedded bucks and it was an incredible sneak with the weather and wind in my favor. Read Wetlands Buck. I was so close that my rifle scope was a concern. It was an ideal stalk for a bow shot, and after getting so close I began to better understand bow hunting. The fact that yes, if the weather conditions are hunter friendly it is possible to get within yards of your prey. What an experience!

I start this hunt just like every hunt, with an optimistic and open heart. Excited to become a part of the dance of nature and without a doubt knowing I will return home the richer for it. There is nothing as incredible as being a witness to the natural world and all there in lies. For there is always something to see and learn, enriching my life in ways that only wild spaces can do. There is a calm which comes over me when I hunt. Letting go and decompressing away from the social expectations of the modern world. Without a doubt, hunting is where I come home to myself.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Extreme Huntress Contest

I just wanted to remind the women hunters that today is the deadline for entry into the Extreme Huntress Contest. It will be fun to learn who has entered considering that there has been very little mentioned by those of us who have women hunting sites. Mmmm, kinda makes me wonder what's going on out there. Granted the archery elk season has been ongoing and several hunting opportunities for upland birds too.

The contest will be fun to follow and beginning Nov. 1 the top 10 women will be chosen and listed on the Tahoe Films website and then the public will have the ultimate say, voting through Jan. 1, 2010. The ultimate Extreme Huntress will be announced at the 2010 Shot Show in Las Vegas at the Prois Hunting Apparel booth. Grand prize is a fully guided big game hunt in B.C. and all the gear that you'll need and then some. Plus your hunt will be filmed for a future date to be aired on the Versus channel. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for the hunt of a lifetime, for one special hardcore huntress. Good luck to those of you who are entering.


Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Challenges Of Solo Archery Elk Hunts

Archery elk hunts started the end of August and the weather has been anything but ideal. Temps on average have been in the mid 30's and 40's for the lows and the 80's and 90's for the highs. With the occasional dip below freezing and highs in the upper 60's to low 70's. Only a sprinkle of rain and none in the forecast thru the end of the season. It's just been in the last couple days that I have begun to hear bugling and am seeing rubs more frequently. With a few days left of bow hunting elk I am continually challenged to change my tactics in hopes of putting myself within bow range and having enough light to shoot. It takes more light to see through your peep sight than it does a rifle scope. It has been so dry that while I am walking I cow call every 15 minutes or so softly in hopes of getting a reply and /or locating a bull. It also can be a comfort to the elk when they hear me snapping small twigs, branches etc. and gives them nothing to be alarmed by. As long as they don't see me or wind me hearing a bit of noise from my walking won't alarm them.

The past several years I go on elk hunting trips with my friend John. I have relied on him for navigation and a sort of elk sense. His water tender business keeps him busy and not wanting to miss any fires he opted to not bow hunt. As it is he is on a fire as I write this. So that's why I'm solo this season. Hunting solo means that I am doing my own calling and not someone else who is upwind of me 50 yards or more trying to draw the bull across in front of me. Also means there is no one else to push them or pinch them in a given direction. As far as sneaking in these dry conditions it's about as tough as it can be. The best chance I feel for a shot on my own is using estrus scent and setting up in the early morning darkness. There's a small chance that I may cross paths with a satellite or raghorn looking for some cows after getting the boot from the herd bull. I'm not a horn hunter and would be thrilled even harvesting a spike. Can't eat the horns anyway they just look mighty awesome!

I have found an area where there are dozens of beds in a willow and timber thicket along a creek. Lush grasses and a boggish type landscape, what a great place to stay cool. Problem for me is that they've been leaving this area in the cover of darkness and not returning until the same low light condition. I am getting up earlier and earlier in hopes of positioning myself in the dark after hiking in for an hour or so. Then sitting still and listening intently for the tell tale sounds of elk moving through the woods. Hopefully in my direction. This may sound romantic to some and to others crazy. For me it challenges my comfort zone and forces me to face my fears. For those of you who have followed WHJ you may recollect my story about getting lost in the woods as a young teenager. Spending a night alone on Mt.Washington in New Hampshire's presidential range. (Pt.1 & 2 ) Anyhow getting up at 0400 is a piece of cake, it's the walking alone in the woods for an hour and waiting another hour for daybreak that is uncomfortable. As my neighbor says, "it's not the dark that's the problem, but what's out there that I can't see". Yep, that's it in a nutshell.

Hunting elk will either force you to face your fears or if not, have a very small chance for success. For myself this archery season has been full of personal challenges and accomplishments, regardless of whether I harvest an elk or not. I find myself digging deeper each time I head out spurred on by the fact that I am getting closer to the elk. Just a bit more courage and I may surprise myself by the shot opportunity of a lifetime. Were the challenges physical ones I feel that would be easier for me than what has been served up this season as mental challenges. None the less I am committed and willing to do the work in order to reach my goal. I have not yet got a bull elk, only cows and I really do want to get a bull just once. I have squeezed warm poop between my fingers and seen the tell tale signs of a bull coming into rut with dribble pee as he walks. May not do anything for those of you who don't hunt elk, but for me it is extremely exciting and way cool. Tracking them and getting the occasional waft of elk scent in my face is enough to forget about the darkness and set the alarm earlier the next day.

This year I have gained confidence as an individual and a huntress, relying on myself and developing my own base of experience and knowledge through trial and error decision making. Making small gains and shedding light on what was a very frightening experience. I find myself less afraid of getting lost and more focused on how to get in the right position for a shot. Moving with a motive and conviction. For me I have already had a successful elk hunt regardless of getting a bull or not. There are plenty of sayings that go along with hunting deer and elk, some of which go like the following; "Elk are like gold, they're where you find them" & "I'd rather be lucky than good any day". For me I just ask for one shot opportunity, that's all. It doesn't seem like much. I hope to be in the right place at the right time between now and the end of the bow season. Until then I will continue to put in my time, pay my dues and learn all I can as it will serve me well for future hunts in the years to come.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Pocket Full Of ?

After spending the majority of the past week with bow in hand in search of Wapiti, thought I'd pass along what I carry in my pockets.

First off let me clarify that I only wear clothing that has pockets. Otherwise the garment if of little to no service to me. This is especially true for my hunting clothes. When I leave my rig for a hunt I am prepared for success as well as having to spend a night out in the woods, should that happen. So what goes in my pockets are as follows starting with my pants which are Cabela's Micro-Tex camo bdu pants. Left cargo pocket is my Garmin GPS and a roll of flagging tape. Right cargo is my Bushnell Monarch range finder and my bottle of elk estrus scent securely sealed. Left front pocket is my Gum-O-Flage, since I quit chewing smokeless tobacco a few years ago I chew gum instead. This is a scent masking gum that eliminates bad breath and helps to cover human scent. Right front pocket is my Wind Checker bottle with a short leash tied to it and my belt loop. A carryover from my fly fishing experience. Left rear pocket is where I put my T.P. and I keep it in a baggie in case the conditions are wet. Right rear is available for any last minute item I feel the need to have otherwise it's empty. So, those are my camo bdu pants pockets, now how about my shirt? In my left chest pocket goes my hunting license, tags and the right is empty. Around my neck are my 7 x 35 Leica binoculars and game calls.

That pretty much does it for my hands on items that I need and use on my deer and elk hunts. The rest of my gear is in my Kifaru Daystalker pack. I'll go over those items on another day. You can read my review of the Daystalker here. This pack is great and I seriously doubt I'll ever need another pack. Only if this one wears out, then I'll get another to replace it.

On another note I either wear a 3/4 mesh camo face net or camo face paint. In the latter case I have found a great product to remove the camo. As anyone knows who has worn it and tried to get it off, it can sure take a lot of elbow grease. Not to mention it feels like you just gave yourself a loofah. None the less, Pond's has come out with a make up remover that does wonders for removing camo face paint. The only draw back is the product is lightly scented. So keep some field wipes on hand or if you've got scent shield soap at camp or in your pack than no worries. It comes in a handy size that is re-sealable and there are 30 towelettes approximately 6" x 7". I used both sides of one towelette to remove my camo the other day and it was a breeze. I keep them in my glove box.

A quick update on my elk hunt. So far the last 2 mornings out I have been in them and all around them. Just not close enough for a shot. I am back out in the morning and setting up in the dark using estrus scent and with any luck they'll stick to their same routine. Will keep you updated as the hunt progresses. Thanks for visiting and I will get back to posting more frequently after this elk hunt is over or when I get my elk. Be safe out there.

What's in your pockets out in the field big game hunting?

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall Decoy Tune Up

This is the time to get your decoys spruced up if you haven't done so yet. Even though I have been out in the field with bow in hand chasing elk recently, I have been reminded that waterfowl season is less than a month away. Already I have heard and seen the first flights of White Fronted and Canada Geese heading for milder climates to the south. Sometimes I think I grabbed the wrong weapon before heading out the door. None the less I am giving the elk and myself a rest for a few days.

While I try not to go crazy worrying about missing a day of elk season I will look over all my decoys to check lines, weights and if they need a splash of paint. There are several retailers from which you can buy decoy paints and even kits per waterfowl species. Years ago I made a dozen wooden Canvasback decoys. I ordered glass eyes and paint from Cabela's and have really enjoyed being able to hunt over them. I use weighted keels secured to the bottom of the decoy to get them to float properly and not list to one side or the other. This was primarily due to the fact that they were hollow bodies. So if there wasn't the same amount of wood on either side than they had a tendency to lean to the heavier side. The lead keels solved this problem. The keels go way back to the days when all their were were wooden decoys. It was also important for the decoy to have the correct waterline, so to speak. Generally diving ducks sit lower in the water as compared to their dabbler relatives. Plastics had not been developed yet. If anyone is interested in making your own, send me an email and I'll be happy to get you started. There are few things in the waterfowl world as satisfying as watching your own handmade decoys bobbing in the waves, drawing in late season Divers. What a thrill!

Back to the tune up now. I set out all the decoys either on the lawn or in my living room depending on weather and how long I am going to spend doing this. If you haven't washed them off from last season then now is the time, best set'em outside for this. I use a soft plastic bristled brush to help remove marsh mud and muck without harming the paint. Then I let them dry and separate them into 3 groups:

1. A.O.K.
2. Light tough up
3. Major touch up

Also check the decoy lines for any fraying, poor knots, to many knots or lack of anchors. This is also the time to make changes to the lenght of lines and the weights. If hunting large open bodies of water longer lines and heavier weights are needed. Where as just the opposite is true for shallow marshes and flooded fields. I have been using large snap swivels on my decoy lines so I can make this switch depending on where the ducks are. I also have dedicated decoys for hunting the Klamath River as those are predominately diving ducks. Requiring long lines 15 to 20 feet and heavy weights. When hunting the flooded fields I have puddle duck decoys with short lines about 3 to 4 foot long and light weights.

All the above is also true for goose decoys. If you use shells it's important not to stack to many together and also to make sure they are sitting either upright or on their backs. This way the plastic will not become ill shaped from being stored improperly. I have seen it more than once and it's an expensive lesson to learn. With the goose decoys there are lots of new options to choose from. Such as to flock or not to flock? I have used both and as much as I like the realistic head flocking it is not easy to maintain. It does get bumped and brushed off eventually. I start with them flocked and realize that by the end of the season they will need some touching up. No big deal and it's just part of my fall prep anymore. Again you can get head flocking materials from Cabela's and most major waterfowl catalog companies.

When you finish getting your decoys all dialed in then it's time to go through your gear bag and make sure your waders don't leak and sew up any holes in your hunting vest. Buy new reeds for your calls if needed or maybe splurge and get that call that you've been dreaming of since last season. Just give all your gear a good once over. I bet you'll be checking the calendar again for how long til the opener and reminiscing about past hunts. Enjoy the entire experience. After all hunting season is short.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt
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