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
Related Posts with Thumbnails