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Written by Greg   
Sunday, 28 August 2016 19:34

Glutton for Punishment

They say that patience is a virtue, but I say it can also be a pain in the butt, literally. I just spent 50 hours and 19 minutes in a tree stand over the span of 4 days but was ready to spend 120 hours in the tree during my 8 day hunt, but luckily I got off light.  I guess you could say that I’m a glutton for punishment but I knew that if I was able to harvest an animal, the sacrifice of enduring the cramped sitting conditions would be worth it…at least to me.


archery elk hunting, sunrise from tree stand
























Day 1 – climbed up into my tree stand at 5:30 a.m. At 8:40 a.m. a doe and a fawn walked directly underneath my stand. After sitting for another 9 hours, three more deer (a doe and two fawns) walked near at 5:38 p.m. Finally at 8:40 p.m. I had had enough and climbed down and headed back to camp.

Day 2 – again in my tree stand at 5:30 a.m. After roughly two hours I unexpectedly heard the snap of a breaking branch directly behind me. I glanced at the time, 7:38 a.m. I peered around the tree to look behind me but could see nothing through the thick pines. As I continued to look in the general direction of the sound, I saw no movement but could hear the growing clatter of approaching animals. I positioned myself forward facing in anticipation of a shooter elk or deer walking out into my shooting lane. A couple of intense minutes passed as a few elk (purely an assumption at this point) ambled toward me. Finally some of the foot steps stopped directly below me. Cautiously I took a peek toward my feet and there stood a cow elk twelve inches from my tree, a shooter! However, she clearly sensed something was amiss as she remained frozen in place for a full 5 minutes. Then my heart sank as I watched her next steps slowly turn this wary elk 180 degrees…all I could do was watch as she eased back into the thick cover and disappeared along with the other two cow elk. The rest of the day was mostly uneventful as I only saw three antlerless deer before calling it quits at 8:25 p.m.


archery hunting elk from tree stand, deer close by



















Day 3 – excitement occurred before reaching my tree stand. While riding my 4 wheeler I encountered a herd of 20 elk crossing the two-track less than 300 yards from my destination. The waning moon shone bright at this time of the morning, providing a decent view of the elk. My hopes were high as I had elk in the general vicinity of my tree stand. Again 5:30 a.m. rolled around as I sat awaiting first light. But unfortunately for me, day 3 would be long and uneventful as the only movement I saw all day long was a lone hunter pass 120 yards in front of me unaware of my presence. I should mention that 50 minutes of continual rain and hail, followed by 2 hours of light rain made the day drag on even longer. At 8:25 p.m. shooting light was about gone so I descended once again.


archery hunting elk, 4 point bull elk





























Day 4 – up the tree stand I ascended once again, 5:30 a.m. At 6:51 a.m. two does and two fawns came in and hung around for 20 minutes before moving off. Morning continued to progress but without the mid-morning breeze/wind that I had experienced each day to this point. No 5 mph breeze or gusty 20 mph winds, just a calm quiet morning. Of course the mental games were in full swing…is it worth sitting here all day again, how many days does a guy have to sit and wait for a legal animal to cross this particular piece of the mountain, do the animals smell me, should I take a break and come back in a few days, has the hunting pressure pushed the animals out of the area, etc., etc. And just as I was considering my breakfast muffin, I heard the recognizable snap of a branch. As I rose to my feet, I looked at the time, exactly 11:00 a.m. After 5 minutes of staring in the direction of the sound, I finally saw an antler tip waving up and down through a small opening about 120 yards away. Sure enough, it was a bull elk raking the trees with his antlers. Moments later more commotion as a cow elk popped into view, moving down the hill in my direction, then another and another until I counted 8 cows and a 4 point bull elk moving toward me. Methodically the elk picked their way through the dense pines until finally the bull sauntered into an opening 50 yards away. A bit later 2 cows joined him broadside in the meadow at 40 yards, while others continued to clank their way through the pines closer and closer. Previously I had made the decision to shoot no matter what if a 40 yard shot opportunity presented itself, yet now I was going against my better judgment. Unsure as to what might happen next, I waited. Finally I saw movement through the nearby trees. I readied myself in anticipation of the elk choosing the easy route through the forest which would provide a 20 yard broadside shot. Just as I was about to draw my bow, the elk unexpectedly continued straight toward me, right through the thick stuff. Caught off guard I didn’t draw my bow. Maybe the elk would stop in its tracks any second now, who knew, but I wasn’t going to risk drawing my bow and not being able to hold it back as long as needed. However, the elk actually blazed straight through the trees and before I knew it the cow was at 10 yards. In a split second I decided to draw, despite the concern that the elk might notice my movement and spook. Luckily a little 12 ft. pine separating us provided just enough cover to allow me to come to full draw undetected.  At 8 yards the elk stepped into the clear. I made a perfect heart shot…11:19 a.m. and my tag was filled!


Archery elk, cow elk with bow and arrow

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 18:58
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Written by Greg   
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 18:06


Determination or Greed


"I'm only going to shoot a long beard" Carson said, as he opened the envelope containing his turkey tag. While I loved his ambitious line of thinking, I also knew that shooting a mature tom wouldn't be a walk in the park and hoped his response was rooted in determination and not greed. Carson had been watching the mail like a hawk for several weeks in anticipation of receiving his first limited entry turkey tag, so I knew how bad he wanted to bag a mature gobbler. However, I also knew that he'd be quite disappointed if he got too greedy and passed on a jake, only to end up skunked.


But right now there was excitement in the air, Carson's elation was contagious! Before having kids of my own, I never thought it could be possible to get so excited for a hunt where I wasn't the one attempting to fill my tag. Apparently that's one of the benefits of growing older since I now have more opportunity to hunt with family and friends and look forward to these hunts as much or more than hunting for myself. But don't get me wrong, my desire to draw a tag is still as strong as ever.


Scouting for turkeys jakes























Our first scouting trip was encouraging as we found a few different places that held turkeys. As Carson's excitement grew, so did mine. I'm not sure which of us wanted him to succeed more, him or me. Then our luck seemed to change, we spent an entire weekend scouting without seeing a single turkey. Soon the hunting season was upon us, opening weekend came and went without Carson getting a single shot. The second weekend passed, still no turkey. At this point I was ready for Carson to shoot the first legal bird possible, but he was determined to hold out for a long beard.


turkey hunting turkey in the meadow

On the third weekend our luck slightly changed again as we found a new place to hunt. We called in a couple of toms to within 100 yards, but only to have them veer off and head into the thick timber toward the call of a hen which had sneaked in behind and to the left of us. Motivated we kept after these birds for days. We tried the new tactic of hunting during the week before school, but still no luck. Even though we woke up early, hiked through the dark of night, encountered pouring rain that turned to snow, hunted while wet and cold without seeing any sign of a turkey, Carson was not deterred. His parting words on Friday when I dropped him off at school were that he couldn't wait until the weekend so that we could hunt longer. At that point there was no doubt in my mind that his quest to connect on a long beard was based on sheer determination.


turkey two gobblers struttingturkey long beard






















Two days later determination paid off as several gobblers answered our box call from 300 yards away on the other side of the huge meadow. It took some coaxing to pull one of the toms from the company of his hen, but we did it. Slowly the amorous old turkey made his way across the long expanse of ground that separated us, stopping periodically to gobble in response to our soft purrs. Finally the coveted long beard was within shotgun range, my heart was pounding so I can only imagine how Carson felt. Boom...the blast from the 12 gauge rocked Carson but slammed the gobbler! Hoots and hollers of excitement echoed through the hills as Carson fulfilled his quest for a long beard!


big tom turkey






















i went hunting turkeys, with long beard

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 July 2016 10:20
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Written by Greg   
Sunday, 08 May 2016 19:54


Mountain Lion - tracking a cat


The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources closely manages the mountain lion population in order to maintain a healthy cougar population, while considering several factors such as human safety, other wildlife populations, etc. Given these circumstances a limited number of mountain lion tags are issued and my son was fortunate enough to draw a tag.


Mountain lion huntingMountain lion hunting cougar hunting



















A couple of our friends were willing to take us along to hunt a few of their favorite haunts. Our first hunt occurred in mid-November and it wasn't until April 30th that we journeyed out for our last hunt. Over the course of many trips and several months, we hiked up canyon after canyon looking for an elusive cat. On a few occasions the dogs cut tracks and we had the opportunity to spot a few stealthy cougars, but Dallas had decided that he was only going to take a mature tom if the opportunity presented itself.


Mountain lion hunting cougar huntingmountain lion hunting cougar hunting


















The weekend arrived; the rain and snow flurries had finally stopped so once again we headed for the hills. Surprisingly the hike up the canyon bottom wasn't too soggy, even though it had rained all week long. However, there was definitely a chill in the air evidenced by the fog that burst forward upon every spoken word. The fact that we could see our breath was a good sign since dogs have a much better chance of catching a lingering scent of a lion during periods with high humidity.


Mountain lion hunting cougar hunting treed tom snarl

We had been hiking about an hour and a half when one of the dogs let out a howl. In unison we all looked up at the hillside from where the bark originated. Excitedly we huddled around the GPS to track the path of the dog. For quite some time we watched as the dog worked his way up and across the side of the mountain trying to determine where his path might lead. At one point the dog's position was 900 yards back down the canyon, but after fifteen minutes of tracking the dog was back to within 600 yards of us and heading up over the ridge into another valley. Luckily for us the canyon split approximately a mile ahead and veered off in the general direction of the baying dog.

mountain lion hunt cougar hunt retrieve cougarmountain lion hunting cougar hunting treed 60 feet up


It probably took us a good 35 minutes of hustling to reach a ravine that cut up through the valley to where the dog was now located. The rest of the dogs had finally joined the melee and their distinct howls told us they had locked onto a cat. Looking at the GPS, we could see that we were only 300 yards away from the ruckus but it was all uphill through fairly thick brush. Undeterred we fought our way up the gully and through the thicket. Finally we spotted the cat, a mature tom! Dallas maneuvered into position until he had a clear shot with his bow and let an arrow fly. His arrow hit the mark and the cougar was off with the dogs hot on its trail. Seconds later the tom bounded up the first big pine tree it could find and came to rest 60 feet up and expired.


mountain lion hunting cougar hunting big mature tom







































As one can imagine, we had quite a predicament on our hands...a dead mountain lion 60 feet up a tree that was riddled with dead spindly branches for the first 35 feet. Several precarious and intense minutes followed, but Dallas was finally able to successfully retrieve his quarry!




Last Updated on Sunday, 08 May 2016 20:59
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Written by Greg   
Monday, 11 April 2016 20:27



Henned-Up Gobblers



If you hunt turkeys long enough, you are bound to run into the situation where the gobblers are henned-up. A henned-up gobbler is a gobbler that is content with the hen(s) he's with and it is unlikely that he will come into a hunters calling. Apparently this year was my turn to experience the henned-up predicament.


In my pocket I held a limited entry turkey tag which allows a person to hunt turkeys for a three week period starting in early April. However, possessing such a tag means a hunter cannot hunt during the general turkey season which runs the entire month of May. The quandary...put in for a limited entry tag in hopes of getting the first crack at the turkeys before they get heavy hunting pressure while risking an encounter with the unpredictable Utah weather where spring snow and rain will likely limit hunting access...or...wait for May to arrive where mild days are a guarantee and snow melt will have occurred allowing access to public lands where turkeys will have migrated.


Clearly my course was set months ago when I drew my tag, so locating turkeys for the first time this spring was exciting. Especially since it was the afternoon before opening day and prior weeks of scouting hadn't produced a single turkey sighting, mostly because heavy snow pack had limited access to my favorite hunting spots. But now the distant sound from the gobbling turkeys put a smile on my face and set my plan in motion.


Turkey hunting deep snowturkey hunting in fresh snow with turkey tracks
























At first light several toms lit up the mountain valley with echoes from their thunderous gobbles as they answered my box call. My youngest son and I moved forward 150 yards and set a couple of decoys and hunkered down in anticipation of near term turkey encounter. A few soft calls lured three long beards to within 70 yards, but after pacing back and forth in front of us for 20 minutes they lost interest and wandered off. The snow was now falling quite heavily, enough to limit visibility to approximately 30 yards, so we decided to head back to camp to warm up and grab a quick bite to eat.


It was barely 8:30 a.m. but we had finished eating and the snow was tapering off, so I was raring to go. However, the fresh inch of snow and the thought of snuggling in a warm sleeping bag was enough to cause Carson to stay behind, I headed out solo. Once I had arrived to within 300 yards of our morning setup, I made a few yelps trying to again locate the toms. Immediately far-off gobbles filled my ears as the turkeys appeared to be exactly where we had left them. My plan this time was to sneak toward the gobblers unannounced, hoping to spot, stalk and shoot one without them realizing my presence. An hour and a half later I was crouched in the exact location where the toms had paraded in front of us earlier, but now there wasn't a turkey in sight.


Perplexed I tried a few calls to see if I could get a response, nothing. Slowly I moved west across the hillside until I had traveled up the canyon another 150 yards. I produced a yelp using my box call and much to my surprise, several gobblers answered from what seemed to be half a mile down the canyon to the east. Clearly they had moved away from my calling, as I surmised they were henned-up. My new plan was to gain altitude and move down the ridge above the turkeys until I passed their location and then cut back across the hillside in hopes of intercepting them, all without any calling on my part. Undoubtedly the toms had felt plenty of pressure from my earlier calling, so I certainly didn't want to add fuel to that fire. However, I would be listening intently during my pursuit hoping the turkeys would give up their location due to their desire to vocalize, allowing me to further leverage the element of surprise.



turkey hunt long beard gobbler























Once on top of the ridge I was able to move in their direction relatively quickly. About an hour later I figured I had passed the turkeys by a few hundred yards, so I started down the hillside. I paused momentarily as I inspected the foliage ahead when a gobble erupted 100 yards even further to the east. Shocked, but confident that my presence had gone undetected, I crept ahead 20 yards. Peering forward I could barely make out the unmistakable tail fan of a strutting gobbler rising about six inches above the distant brush. Patiently I watched knowing that time was on my side. Several minutes and a few gobbles later, the tom began angling my way. Slowly I knelt and got into shooting position. Closer and closer he came, although trees and brush obscured his present route. However, 40 yards ahead was a clear opening through which he must pass so with my shotgun pointed on that spot, I waited.


turkey hunt hen


















Two minutes later I realized something was wrong, ol' tom turkey did not appear as planned. Cautiously I stood up...no turkey. Carefully I moved forward several feet. There ahead and slightly to my right at 25 yards was a hen walking in from the opposite direction. At that moment I knew the tom couldn't be far away. Suddenly not one, not two, but three gobbles filled the air! Then it happened, the amorous long beard materialized. Slowly I raised my 12 gauge; the big red head of the henned-up gobbler was now in my sights. A single blast from my Benelli caused two toms and three hens to fly up from obscurity, but my long beard was down for the count!


turkey hunt with huge gobbler 9 inch beard



Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 19:44
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Written by Greg   
Friday, 12 February 2016 18:55


Go After Those Snows


If you've never been on a spring snow goose hunt, you need to get out there and give it a try. You'll likely witness the spectacular sight created by flocks of migrating snow geese that number in the thousands, not to mention that hunting these wary birds is fun!

Flock of snow geese, cyclone















In addition, hunting snow geese will help support the much needed effort to decrease the current snow goose population. And for those who are not familiar with the problems facing the arctic/subarctic waterfowl nesting grounds as they relate to the overabundance of snow geese, there are many articles online that detail the reasons why the Light Goose Conservation Order has been adopted by many states.


i went hunting geese, snow geese and blue geese
































It is also worth noting that just because the snow goose population is at an all-time high it doesn't mean that snow geese are an easy mark. In fact, out smarting a flock of snows can be downright challenging.


In order to be successful on a snow goose hunt, you must scout, obtain permission to hunt fields, procure an electronic call and acquire hundreds of decoys. And like most hunters, the enormity of putting together a do-it-yourself snow goose hunt was out of the question for us, so we again chose to book a hunt with Waterfowl Junkie Outdoors.


Spring snow goose huntspring snow goose hunt, in our ground blinds
















banded snow goose, blue goose116 snow geese, big pile of snow geese























This year we met up with Bob and Garrett from Waterfowl Junkie Outdoors in Arkansas for a 3 day hunt. The weather was perfect as the unseasonably warm afternoon temperatures climbed into the mid 70's and the skies were thick with snow geese. Bob and Garrett had done their homework; they put us right in the middle of the geese every day! I can't say enough positive things about these guys, they definitely have a passion for their craft and it shows in the quality of the service they provide!


116 snow geese, pile of snow geese






















Depending on where you live getting to the mid-west to hunt snow geese may seem too difficult to consider, but I'd say don't let the distance deter you. Our 24 hour drive each way was worth the effort, from the unforgettable sights and sights to the tasty goose meat, the hunting was a blast!

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 July 2016 10:36
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Written by Greg   
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 21:37


Goose Hunting Tips and Techniques



I'd say the most important aspect of hunting geese is scouting. Obviously, if you aren't seeing geese, you can't shoot them. Finding a field where the geese are actively feeding (that you have permission to hunt) is probably the best case scenario. However, if that isn't possible you can try hunting a field adjacent to an active feeding field, but be warned that taking this approach is risky. Once a live bird lands in a field next to you, it's likely that every other bird will do the same. Like the old saying goes, you can't compete with live birds!


geese landing in decoys, feet down wings cuppedgeese landing in decoys, flaring too late
























In addition, knowing the flight pattern of geese is also an important facet of hunting them. One common approach is "running traffic" by means of calling and flagging them to your location. By hunting near or below their flight path, it is possible to coerce geese right into your decoy spread.


geese landing in decoys feet down wings cuppedgeese got four geese with three shots

















Another significant factor when hunting geese is decoy placement. Placing active decoys further from your blind, with feeder decoys closer to the shooter's location provides an opportunity for closer shots. Why? Because the thought is that geese will want to land closer to the feeder decoys due to the perceived existence of food. And don't forget the importance of leaving ample distance between decoys so that approaching geese have enough room to land, an unfortunate mistake made too often.


geese approaching decoy speadi went hunting geese, geese landing in decoys, feet down, wings cupped
















Now let's say that you have successfully employed one of the above techniques. You must have carefully considered concealment and factored it into your plan or else everything will have been for naught. The threat of predation for geese is constant, so it's no wonder that they are adept at detecting movement or anything else perceived as unnatural within their environment. That's why brushing in your ground blind sufficiently can mean the difference between feet down with wings cupped or flaring birds. The goal is to make your spread look as realistic and natural as possible and to adequately conceal your blind, so spend the extra time necessary to accomplish this goal and go bag some geese!

december goose hunting limits of geese

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 July 2016 10:35
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