Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gave my Girls an Early Christmas Gift.........

Since I recieved a surprise 'Christmas Bonus' and really didnt expect it; I thought the girls could use some exercise and booked a full-day hunt at a local bird preserve; just for the heck of it...

..And the three of us had an absolute blast...!!!

The decision to do go also was based on Mocha "needing some steadying" when it came to birds; both MTRookie taking note, and even my old friend who visited last month suggesting we at one point: "just leave her behind"..after she'd bumped her first couple of the season.

I felt bad about that as knowing my Mocha's capabilities, being a fully trained GSP and realizing: "she just hasnt had enough birds in front of her this year" (not near enough compared to Suzie); ...I thought it best we give her chance to shine first...

She did great; as you can see from the above pics.

Both of these roosters were very hard to get, having likely been shot ata time or two, and yet Mocha worked them perfectly holding steady-on-point; ...All she needed was active birds and lots of fresh scent...

"No Mocha! ...I'm trying to take a picture here..?!"


Suzie however whined and threw a fit trying to get out of the truck and by the time she did; all the pheasant we'd seen were long gone.

..No problem, "lets go after some chukars instead..."

..I have to laugh a bit about that; as I'm still hugely fat, am winded walking from my singlewide to my truck, and the thought of hunting and shooting a chukar on top of a steep mountainside where they traditionally live, had long been something I'd decided I'd never be able to do...!?

Both her and Mocha did great dog work zeroing-in on this 'new scent' and both also retrieved-to-hand; as they do all species without any prompting on my part....

"Good girl..!!!"

..Mocha just wanted more and more birds; so I did my best and headed toward where I thought they'd be..(no birds were released for us, we were esentially 'hunting scratch'; those that had survived earlier hunts or gotten lose)..hence I didnt have to pay as much.

It was great fun....

Just being in the state of Montana with elk on the horizon and muleys busting as much as birds; ..hell it's just awesome; I cant describe it any other way..?!

We eventually headed toward home..

..tuckerd out as we all were..

The route was forecasted: 'hazardous with a chance of spectacular..'
(Lower Madison)

'The view' just across the road from my trailer, as we pulled in at dark.

Montana in late December.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I quit Trophy Hunting........

......about an hour before the season ended.


I'd stared at that damned thermometer for three straight days trying to make the temperature come up from minus-zero to something doable, as far as me and the girls going hunting, but eventually just said "%$#@ it" and headed out....

Not surprisingly the travel thru Livingston was a blizzard...

...and the girls were as terrified as I was!!

We eventually made it, though some folks didnt..

..and arrived in lovely Laurel in time for an evening hunt.

We weren't on the BMA a halfhour before I spotted the buck of my dreams. The very one that I've been hunting for two years after, passing countless smaller ones and even a few nice whitetails in order to have a crack at.
Yet as it turned out - he wisely stood safely 400 yards across the adjoining fenceline tending a hot doe - and untouchable as far as me.

...Oh I thought about it, for a few seconds anyway, but I knew my conscience would've taken a beating and I decided to drive on just to be sure.

So we hightailed it toward Harden in hopes of a buck that cailber being on an area I do have permission to hunt...

We checked into the Lariat Motel around 8 and the girls were soon fast asleep. I on the otherhand was up coughing my brains out while watching the Godfather on TV. My flu came back fulltilt and I was in misery thruout the entire sleepless night.

Since I was up already, there was no reason not to get out early; and within an hour we were seeing movement though just small bucks and lots of does..

...and when I say "we" I litterally mean me and both my girls; as we sat in my truck till it warmed to at least a single-digit degree; the high on Thanksgiving was finally 18, but not till noon.

...Until about 9am I just sat in a good spot, motor off, window down enough to fit my rifle barrel out, and talked to Mocha and Suzie to help keep me warm and entertained.


We saw lots of little ones and once I emerged I managed to jump quite a few too; on my morning stalk; but eventually the girls began to bark they wanted out and I obliged and they ran free..

That evening was much like the enitire season, lots of game just none big enough to shoot.

For me at least; which brings me to the subject of 'trophy hunting'.
I do it, cant help it. Comes from years of working on plantations and seeing big ones and passing little ones. I used to say I was responsible for guys shooting big ones becuase I was one who passed all the small ones; thinking eventually one would come my way; but so far in Montana it simply hasn't.

I've shot a couple decent respectable representations of the whitetail species ,even had a couple mounted, but over 140" has eluded me (though not entirely). On the plantation I could have easilly hunted more and taken some big bucks paying-guests' would not, but since I was in charge of it all I enforced this 'no buck restriction' upon myself as it wouldn't have worked otherwsie trying to stop the hired hands from doing the same.

I dont regret it though; as if I had taken a pile of big deer I might never have moved to Montana in search of an even bigger one; so is the thought I have of all the big boys I've missed over the year (and there's been lots)!

Seven in fact, at last count- over the past 10 or so years. There's the one I never saw in SC as I was to nervous and shot three times at the doe he was chasing. Then there was the nice 10 point I grunted so close all I saw as grass and brown fur when I shot and he stood there to let me know I'd missed clean; then trotted off never to be seen again.

On a Georgia pay-hunt my buddy and I booked once (pre-working at plantations), I shot at and missed an absolute giant at 100 yards (three times again). My buck fever was impossible to control as I saw sand fly 50 feet behind him, and he still stood like a statue behind the hot doe. I went to chamber another round and hadn't fully ejected my last shell and began beating the rifle against the side of the shooting house. He even began looking up at 'the box that went bang' a couple times - mocking me - when I missed again.

At the plantation even on legal bucks, in areas guests couldn't go, I still couldn't connect and my crap rifle was part of the problem, but by then so was my trophy hunting. I'd guided over a dozen guys to big mature bucks and couldn't bring myslef to shoot anything less than they had by then.


and so I found myself in Montana during my second deer season, coughing my lungs out, on Thanksgiving, in a shitty motel in the middle of nowhere staring in the mirror trying to rationalize 'why it is I'm so obsessed with big muley bucks'..and meanwhile I have two dogs along as I'm equally obsessed with birdhunting - (and thought we might do a bit of that after I killed my monster buck...)

By Friday morning I was in the 3rd stages of pnemonia and had already said:"if its brown its down" so many times the girls were beginning to understand it.


So not five minutes after I left them in the truck by the boatramp, I was leaning against a fence post and "NO TRESSPASSING" sign coughing my guts out; when all of a sudden the fence itself and sign began to rattle and vibrate gainst my leg..

"What the $#@%*"??

From a hundred yards away the four deer jumping and hitting the barbed wire with their legs alerted me to them coming,....and come they did! Entering public land of the Bighorn fishing access, from a small strip of private that bordered it.

I "mehh" stopped the doe and two fawns with a mouth grunt at less than 30 feet, and they stood stock still not knowing what to make of me..?

When the young buck came up right behind them and I did the same, he stood broadside too long and I decided then and there my season was over.

I tagged and dressed him in quick fashion, warming my frozen fingers inside his body cavity, as I did my work. I used the Butt-Out for the second time this season and am sold on this product as well as my cheap zipper type knife.

As I was pulling him under a strand of barbed wire in my kiddy sled and old Indian pulled up with a truck full of youngins and said:"..he's so small you probably dont need help getting him in the truck..?"

"Very funny" I said; "now get out and help".

And he did. It was weird, like one of those things when your both complete strangers, but because both of you hunt; we instantly bonded and talked for half and hour at least.

Both Suzie and Mocha took plenty of time to sniff what Daddy had brought back from the woods; and eventually we decided it'd be best I head home or to the hospital; which ever we saw first..

As sick as I was (and still am) I thought I owed it to the girls to at least try; given I'd jumped a few pheasant the day before too. But I failed them as an owner and even after suiting up poor Mocha in all her collar and embarassing bright orange garb; we found the road to birds blocked with a 3 foot snow drift, that wasnt there the day before..


Yup, I was done, finished, my deer season over.
My trophy-hunting days were officially behind me and I was going to from now on; ..simply hunt. Enjoy the time in the woods without all the pressure of taking a big buck...the comaderie..the time away from work..all would suffuce and be enough from now on.
Yes; I had matured finally as a true outdoorsman and a hunter; I would now and forever just shoot whatever buck I pleased and its size mean nothing to me; whether it be a small one or a mature one.


..That is until we were in line at a gas pump (in Laurel no less), and this jackass decided to park in front of me; and it all started all over again...



I didn't learn much on this trip unfortunately. I'm still obsessed with deerhunting as much as birdhunting and now that my job has to do with fly fishing; I'm pretty much screwed.


Oh well.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Hunting pictures from last few days...

A little deer and elk hunting and just 'road hunting' mostly, due to very poor weather and consistent 60 mph winds..

Thats a very small figure of a man on the horizon (look closely); likely excatly what I appeared to be the elk; unimpressed - them living yearround in the same 'big country' at the time...

Twenty miles up by truck in 4x4 and I found soon myself trying to hike in 18" of fresh thick snow. Saw very few tracks, jumped two mule does, and finally headed back toward the truck thoroughly exhausted.

Still kinda beautiful in that 20 degree sort of way; especially when the sun peeked out on occasion. Not a mile from town on way back to motel, I spied a huge bull and five cows crossing in front of me so slowed down for a look-see. Too dark for pictures and of course on 'private land', but still neat to see!!

The next morning I passed on a small muley buck chasing does in front of me yet saw diddly as far as elk; so decided to explore a few more BMA's to add to my list. I spotted several spooky antelope and a couple mule deer (the latter hiding in the safety-zone); and even a few birds; but the storm was upon me so I decided against it and just kept driving...

Even the Huns found shelter in nontraditional places to beat the wicked winds and I let them be; considering I was without dogs on this leg of the trip; but made mental note (and a few scribbles in my journal) as to their precise location; in hopes of returning once again next month when I'm in the area.

On the way up these behemoths were still, but not 30 minutes later they were moving so fast I thought one might just come off and slice thru my truck!!

Great place for 300 windmills as it rocked my rig so bad I would have thought it a Florida Hurricane. Bad placethough for a hunter - bird, deer, antelope, or otherwise...(more notes taken; as to time of year/forecast)..

Even resevoirs on state lands were white-capping so I headed home to pick up the girls from boarding...

I'm not sure if they thought I'd put them in there because they were bad or something, but both were complete angels on the way home; and pointed every bird and car that flew by.

That wasn't exactly what I had in mind for elk hunting this week; so think I'm pretty much done with that endeavor. Instead, I'm bringing the girls with and were headed back toward familiar ground "Crow Res" next week. Gonna give this mule deer buck one more go around Hardin. And knowing the pheasant population as well as some winter coverts well (all 3 of us); I'd be a fool to leave them behind...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Heavens Ranch...

I'm certain the second I wrapped the E-collar around Suzie's neck she knew not only where we were, but exactly her role in what was to come...

I'm also pretty certain my friend perfered the scenery to where he's been the last two years, but just kept it to himself mostly; and just smiled randomly thruout the trip...

Only moments after leaving the truck we were walking the fields of the BMA I've often referred to as 'Heavens Ranch'; as its similar to the actual name without giving away its location (XX). Its also without doubt the most scenic I've yet to come across and I've hunted near a hundred parcels statewide. The fact that it holds a nice population of birds doesn't hurt either and today we were in search of the the almighty sharptail...

Breathtaking indeed and even Szuie stopped several times to take in the view from up top..

Still birds rose and fell and shotguns sounded. Gun Powder filled the air first then my nose and even on the tongue if you weren't careful. Birds were brought to hand and high fives were shared. Pats on the soft head and scratches behind the ears were doled out in equal fashion for both girls doing their best.

Dogs, the best of them I'm certain dont fully understand our compliments or adjectives we use when describing their ability in either type or verbal; instead they simply are doing what they were designed to. They smile and laugh and let us stroke them when they're weak or tired. They're fully capable I'm sure and could outhunt the best of us; catching birds themselves on the stalk, if only given the chance.

The Field is theres'.... without them we'd wild flush everything we stumbled across but with that uniquely designed nose they possess we are foretold what is to come... We are warned where game lies to within mere feet and to get ready for the shot. In some instances were even told which species lie ahead, dependent on the past experience and bond between a particular dog and onwer.

When I saw Suzie working the cover in front my friend and I in this frame with the sun blinding as it set behind her; there was something in her actions and joyful movements it was simply a moment I'll never forget.
I think I just felt comfortable afield more than on any hunt before and deserving of owning such a great little bird dog; since I have very little else of monetary worth.

At that moment the trip was coming to a close and I knew it had to eventually, but didn't care what came next; whether we got another bird up or not. She and (Mocha) and I have lived Montana now going on two years and have enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We'd done it...Exactly as I'd imagined it would go; a few hiccups along the way sure, but we were now here in our third bird season afield - working in the outdoor industry once again - and content;...sharing it with close friends.

Life is good...