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

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Archery Elk Hunt

The hunting season has begun. So far the conditions for hunting elk have been favoring the elk. This is quite typical for bow season. This past weekend saw temperatures in the 80's and even low 90's in some areas. Tinder dry and dusty as bakers flour. Still under a level 3 fire precaution in the woods. With zero cloud cover and a full moon approaching the elk are feeding during the night. They're out of the low country before daybreak and looking for a cool place to bed down during the day. I've been seeing plenty of tracks just not able to catch anyone in them. With these warm temps they are also being pretty quiet and not much chatter is going on. No signs yet of the rut beginning. Haven't seen any rubs nor have I heard any bugles. It's just to dang hot yet. That can all change quickly though. And boy do I sure hope it does. We've got some cooler temps forecast for the weekend with a possibility of snow at the 8000' level. I won't be holding my breath on that, though a little rain would sure be nice. Not even the Birch or Aspens are showing signs of Fall yet.

Been seeing a ton of birds and getting pretty chewed up by the mosquitoes. Also watching Douglas Squirrels stashing pine cones like nobody's business. It's so crunchy and loud right now walking in the woods, that stalking in on a bedded bull is about the tallest order around. Not hearing much around town from anyone having luck yet either. Not even with the Mule deer. So I am doing my best to pace myself and keeping my fingers crossed for the weather to make some serious changes in the next week or two. Come the 18 th. we'll have a new moon and with some luck even cloud over and the rut will at least be starting. That's what I'm pacing myself for. I will bust my a-- the last 2 weeks to try and get in the right place at the right time for a full draw experience of a lifetime.

Dove season opened on Tuesday as well as forest Grouse(Ruffed and Blues) and already some Antelope hunts are completed. I didn't put in for Sage Grouse this year because of my archery elk hunt. Maybe next year. My buck hunt starts in less than a month, so things are starting to wind up. After that commences the waterfowl season until the end of Jan. Looking to be an action packed season.

I am ready for the cooler weather, maybe not so ready to start snow removal.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt
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