Are Game Bags Necessary?

November 1st, 2007

Do you use them? Growing up we always used them. It is just what we did. This year as I was skinning my elk in camp and then placing the quarters in the bags, I started questioning the use of them. I understand that they do a great job of keeping the bugs and most debris off. However, at 11000’ in the middle of October in Colorado, there are not a whole lot of insects left. As far as keeping the meat clean – we usually keep the hide on until we are back to camp and then skin the quarters out. This protects the meat when you are dragging or hauling the meat from the field to camp. Then we wash them off and set them on some cooling racks. Usually, they are frozen the next day. On the way out, we place them on a tarp and wrap it tight. I can see using the bags in the early fall when the insects are out. But I just cannot see using them in the situation that I described to you.

What do you do? Is it necessary?

Antelope Hunting in Wyoming with the Kids

October 24th, 2007

We made it back from Wyoming! We didn’t get snowed in but Saturday night sure did get cold. The hunting was a little off but we still managed to get some goats. We had a great time visiting with our friend Ted. He has a beautiful place right on the North Platte river that he lets us hunt on.
We all had a great time. This is one of the few hunts that I am able to take the whole family on because it isn’t as rugged as my deer and elk hunts and I really enjoy it.
We are never too far from the car or the camper so if one of the kids gets cold or
tired of hunting, we can always head back and it doesn’t detract from the rest of the hunt.

Ted was in the process of getting the last cut of his hay sold, so there were still some one ton bails left. Jacob and I went out the first morning and just had a great time sneaking from bail to bail trying to Indian up on some of those Wyoming antelope.
I was shooting my muzzle loader, so getting close was going to be necessary. Unfortunately my sneaking skills are just not as good as they used to be on a cut hay field so later in the day I decided to cheat and switched over to my 25-06. This made things a little easier, but the antelope just were not cooperating! I could have shot buck after buck, but those wiley old does were hanging just across the fence on the neighbors property that we did not have permission to hunt. Finally, on our second morning of the hunt, one made the mistake of jumping across the fence.
With a well placed shot, she was down and then the work (even though cleaning an antelope is fairly easy) started. We were running a little bit short on time so after a packing up camp in record time, we were on our way back home.

Like I have said in previous posts, if you have a chance to hunt antelope … you will never be disappointed.

Meat Hunter or Trophy Hunter?

October 4th, 2007

Phillip over at the Hog Blog currently has a poll asking what
type of hunter are you? Meat Hunter or Trophy Hunter? I am a
little bit of both.   Here in Colorado the Division of
Wildlife implemented a three points or better on buck deer and a four points or
better on bull elk rule during the rifle seasons in the mid 80’s, and I hunt bucks and bull elk during that time.  However, I also purchase doe and cow tags to help fill the freezer. In fact I
am heading out this weekend to hunt doe antelope up in Wyoming.

Wyoming has a neat wildlife management
program. After the initial full price applications have been processed, they
offer reduced price doe/fawn or cow/calf licenses for hunters that would like
to harvest an animal, but don’t want to shell out the exorbitant cost of a license.
In Wyoming’s
case, the tags that I picked up cost $29 a piece. Compare that to the full cost
price of $225 for an out of state buck tag and you can see the attraction to
hunters looking for meat over trophies.   Colorado
has done something similar by reducing the price of cow elk tags for out of
state hunters and is currently considering doing the same for doe deer tags. I
can certainly understand that when an out of state hunter shells out close to
$500 for an Elk tag or $400 for a deer tag, they defiantly want to shoot
something with horns. Anything with horns sometimes! I myself, enjoy eating the
animals that I shoot, so if it is a monster that is great, but a doe is sure
tasty as well. Stop on by The Hog Blog and throw your vote into the hat.

The Experience of a Lifetime!

September 26th, 2007

I just got back from my early season mule deer hunt. It was a huge success. I was able to harvest not the biggest deer that I have ever shot, but a deer that I am the most proud of! He is a very nice deer – but what really made it one of the best hunting experiences that I have ever had was the way in which I was able to take this animal. My hunt had it all.

  • Physically demanding,
  • Beautiful scenery,
  • Raging bull elk,
  • and last but not least … I found great deer.

It was by far the most physical hunting experience that I have ever had. If you have never done a back pack hunt, I highly suggest that you give it a shot.

Here’s how it went.

  • I started my hunting trip at 8:00 am Friday morning. By 2:00 I had reached my campsite.
  • After another thirty minutes I had camp set up and I was ready to settle in.
  • After a short nap and some great food, it was time to grab the binoculars and go do some glassing to figure out where I wanted to be opening morning. I was unable to locate any deer that evening, but I  knew that they were there because I had seen them on previous scouting trips.  I did spot several good bull elk and had a good time watching them practice for the upcoming rutting rituals.
  • So after working up my opening morning strategy, I headed back to camp to get ready for an early night. It got pretty chilly that night, in fact it snowed on me. However, I had plenty of company because the neighbors – the elk – were quite vocal for most of the evening.
  • The next morning found me glassing the shady side of a bowl that I had scouted the day before. Although it looked like a great area I didn’t see any deer.
  • As the sun got higher and it started to illuminate the area, I took a cue from the elk and started to retreat and follow the shadows. As I skirted the top of the ridge that I was on, the washes below me were still shadowed by the peak to the south of me.
  • As I continued glassing I spotted two bucks making there way to wash that was closest to me. I tried ranging the animals with my range finder, but they were still out of range. So I started skirting the ridge above them to try and close the distance. Just about the time I had run out of ridge, the deer decided to head down one of the drainages to try and get into the dark timber before it started getting warm. I figured it was now or never. The deer were still below me and they had absolutely no idea that there was anybody even close.
  • So, I took off my backpack and assumed the prone position using my pack as a good solid rest for my rifle.
  • It took me about 10 minutes of glassing to decide which deer I wanted to take.
  • I ranged him one more time. He was 510yds away. Now I know most people do not believe in shooting at an animal that far away and I would have to agree with most people. However, in target practice, I normally shoot up to 600yds on a regular basis. So I knew exactly what I was capable of as well as what my rifle could do. Luckily there wasn’t any wind whipping across the canyon, so I held 23” above the heart/lung area of the deer and squeezed the trigger.
  • I was unable to hear the slap of the bullet impacting on the deer, but I didn’t need to. The 180gr bullet entered high on the front shoulder and exited just behind the shoulder on the opposite side. The buck dropped in his tracks. The only problem was, was that he was standing on about a 60 degree grade, so after about 150yds of rolling down the chute, he came to a rest.

To say that I was ecstatic would be an understatement!

The next challenge would be to figure out how to get to him!

It was 7:30 opening morning and I had been lucky enough to have already gotten my deer.
The only problem was that he was well over 500yds away across some pretty rough terrain. So I decided to go back and pack up camp.
After packing up camp, I started making my way over to where the deer had fallen.
The only problem was, is that as I got closer the landmarks that I had used to pinpoint his location, they no longer looked the same!  So I spent a while glassing the rock slide until I was able to find him and make my way over to him.
Wow, was I pleased when I got up to him!
He may not have been the biggest deer in the forest, but I was sure happy to have him.
After taking some pictures, the real work began. I gutted him, quartered and then deboning the meat. I was 8 miles in and wanted to save weight anyway that I could!
So after that was complete, I put the meat into plastic bags and put it into my backpack.
Let me tell you, the first time that I picked that pack up and put it on my back, I told myself “YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND!” I didn’t h
ave a scale but later on after I had taken the meat to the butcher, I figured that I had about 130lbs on my back and I still had a long way to go to get back to the truck.
Five hours, three gallons of water and god knows how many rest stops along the way I found myself back at the trailhead and my truck. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and basically felt like I had been kicked around by a mule, but there was no way to wipe the grin off of my face!
I had completed one of the most difficult hunts that I had ever been on and I was so excited that I almost wrecked my truck getting down the mountain so that I could get into cell phone range and call someone.
Hopefully one of these days I will be able to draw another tag and have the same great experience that I was able to have this time. If you ever get a chance to go on a hunt like this I would highly encourage you to.
Let me warn you though, it will definitely test your metal.
Good luck.

How to find a good place to hunt

August 22nd, 2007

How do you know if
the area that you are hunting is a good area? That is a good question and one
that I hear quite a bit around this time of year. People are starting to wonder
if the area they hunted last year is an area that produces animals. Should they
change areas? Should they hunt a different ridgeline than the one they hunted
last year? Those are also good questions that people hear people asking. Right
now I am asking myself the same questions and I am going to be hunting in two
days! I guess what you have to ask yourself is what happened last year? Where
you successful? Did you see any animals? Did you hear any shooting? If you were
not successful, did you see animals hanging in other camps? If you are hunting
an area for the first time, did I do all that I could do to prepare for the
upcoming season? Did I scout out the area? Did I call the wildlife management
officer for that area and try and tap some of his knowledge? Those are
questions that you should know the answer to before you begin your hunt this

First and probably the most
important, know your area! I know people that go to a new area every year and
for the most part they are fairly unsuccessful. Once in a while they get lucky,
but for the most part they go home empty handed. I have been very fortunate to
have hunted the same area for elk for the past 24 years. There’s a few years we
didn’t do great but for the majority we are well above the 65% average on
killing elk throughout those years. One of the reasons for this is because I
and the people that I hunt with are very familiar with our area. We know where
the animals go when they are pressured, when it snows, when it is unseasonable
hot, and when they haven’t been bothered at all.

Second of all, you need to hunt
where the animals are
! If you hunt an area that continually is not producing for
you, you should probably start looking elsewhere or if it is a really good
looking area, try and figure out why the animals are not there. Is the season
that you are hunting to early or to late in the year for the area that you are
hunting? Would this area be better to hunt with a bow or muzzle loader earlier
in the season?

Colorado has several different big game seasons that are spaced throughout the fall.
Where I hunt elk, we hunt the earliest rifle season we can because if we get
snow (which at our elevation is usually a lot) it pushes most of the elk out of
the area. Whereas, I have friends that beg for the snow, so that it will push
animals into there area.

Now we didn’t just come by this
information, it took several years of trial and error to figure this all out.
So be patient. Give a new area a chance before you condemn it. It may take you
a few years to make it work for you. For my deer hunt that I have coming up, it
is in an area that I have never hunted before. I am still combing over all of
the topo maps, satellite photos, and any other piece of information that I can
get my hands on to try and put myself in the best spot to be successful.
Everyday I second guess my decision as to where to be opening morning. Without
my mid-summer scouting trip, I would probably end up just about anywhere but
with the prior planning and work, I have a good place to start and a strategy
worked out if I don’t get lucky opening morning. If you are looking for a new
area or hunting an area for the second or third time. Be sure and use every bit
of information that you can get your hands on and any available time that you
have to make some scouting trips, it might just make your hunting season a
little easier.

The last days before hunting season starts!

August 20th, 2007

Well, I have less than a week left before my early season
mule deer hunt begins here in


Yesterday I spent the day scrambling around trying to gather up all of the gear
that I am going to be taking with me on my trip. Once I rounded everything up,
I packed it neatly and put it into my rucksack. This was quite the adventure
because you have to be sure not to pack the things that you need in a hurry at
the bottom of your pack. Nothing is worse than having a fast moving
thunderstorm move up on you and you have to pretty much un-pack your backpack
to get at your hidden raingear! Therefore, after several hit and misses I think
I was able to get my gear packed into my ruck in somewhat of a useful order? I
guess, but the proof is in the pudding, so we will just have to see. I have a
few last minute things left to take care of this week such as loading some
extra shells and some grocery shopping, but for the most part, I think that I
am as ready as I will ever get. So wish me luck!

On another note. The other day I was able to pick myself up
a couple of leftover doe antelope tags in


. Now, for those of you who would
like to see some new country at a reduce price and a chance to stock your
freezer, this is the way to go. The tags only cost $29 and last time I checked
there were still plenty left. Therefore, I would encourage you to go get you a
couple if you are looking for a good excuse to get out of the house a little
earlier this fall. Good luck! 

Hunting Texas

August 17th, 2007

Yesterday my friend Raymond informed me that he would be on
an upcoming hunting show called Mossy Oaks:  Hunting the Country. I don’t know about the
rest of you but most of the hunting shows on today’s TV usually takes place in
far away locations or on Ranches that require you to pony up your first born
and soul for a chance to hunt on. This particular hunt that Raymond was on took
place last fall at a ranch run by Heart of Texas Bowhunting. From the footage
that I watched of him and his son JT while they harvested there 2 deer, it
looked like a fantastic place to hunt. For
most of us, the thought of hunting on private property brings to mind the exhorbinate
cost associated with such an experience. Myself, I do not have a ton of what
Raymond mentions as “A lot of passive income.” I am a working hunter. Granted I
hunt quite a bit and I am fortunate to live in a state that is centrally
located in the west that has plenty of access to public land and also, that gives
me the opportunity with a short drive, to hunt some of the West’s best states.
I hunt almost entirely on public land with no guides or services. So to even
think about getting the chance to hunt private land in


for deer, in the past was a little bit
out of my reach. However, Kevin Burleson who runs Heart of Texas Bowhunting has
made it a little easier for all of us working class stiffs to get a chance to
experience some of that great Texas deer hunting that we have been hearing so
much about in the past at an affordable price. I will not go into pricing here (check
out there website at,
but I assure you that you will not be disappointed. Kevin is a very knowledgeable
hunter and from the looks of things he is doing what he can to insure that his
hunters have a quality hunting experience. As you can tell from the name of the outfit, this is a bowhunting hunt
only. Now all I have to do is start getting serious about doing some archery
hunting and maybe next year I will get a chance at some


monster. Also, congratulations to
Raymond and JT on a great accomplishment. Maybe I will just see you there? 

An evening with friends and Crawdads!

August 16th, 2007

Well I know this has absolutely nothing to do with hunting, but what the heck. It is my blog and I will write about what ever I want to. This pass weekend we threw our famous almost (I will explain this) annual Mud Bug Boil!
Now to me this is one of the most favorite parties of the year. We usually have it at the end of summer and try to invite just about everyone that we know. This year was no exception and we had a terrific turn out. Plenty of food was eaten and it was a good chance to catch up with people that we don’t get a chance to see very often. Now living in Colorado, most people would ask “Where do you get the crawfish?” Well for the previous two parties I have gotten them from Kyle Leblanc Crawfish Farms and we have never been disappointed. This year was no exception and the crawfish that met there fate this last weekend were as large and lively as ever! One thing to note when you are going to have a party like this. Keep the crawfish off limits from your kids and the rest of the neighborhood children until the day of the party!
If you don’t, you will probably have only a small portion left for the actual boil. As I mentioned this was our almost annual boil. Last year around the time that we were supposed to have our Annual boil, we welcomed our newest member to our family.
Even though my trooper of a significant other
said that it would be OK to go ahead and throw the party, she stressed that it would completely on my own. Now, I have never been one to back down from a challenge, but from the immortal words of Clint Eastwood “A man’s got to know his limitations!” I decided that I knew mine and that it would have to wait for another year.
For those that are interested in doing a boil such as this, I would suggest that you have several friends that have Turkey cookers that you can borrow. This year we used five of them.
Even though that was enough, we could have probably used a couple more. By the time you figure everything that goes into a pot, the corn, potatoes, shrimp, sausage and the crawfish of course! It makes for a very full pot. All in all a great time was had by all that attended and I am looking forward to next year’s boil as well. Hope to see you there.

Photo by Bill and Anita.

What hunting knife is best?

July 30th, 2007

What is the best type of knife to carry when you are hunting? A sharp one! All kidding aside, I have read numerous articles written by experts in the field, all suggesting that you should have this type of knife for skinning and this type of knife for eviscerating the animal once it is down and yet a whole other type of knife doing the camp chores. Do you need all these different types of knives? Sure! It is like asking your wife if she needs all those shoes. Does she wear them all? Probably not and you probably won’t use all of the knives that you collect throughout your hunting career. Myself, I have started carrying three knives with me when I go to the field. Is that a lot? Maybe, but after a number of years of hunting I have decided that that is what works for me. If you have ever cleaned an elk you would know exactly how fast a knife can dull and how nice it is to have a good sharp knife at the ready.

Here is what I carry and why.

Anytime that I am hunting I always carry a folding lock-blade pocket knife. The one that I am currently carrying is a BladeTech Hunter.  It has a drab olive G-10 handle and a stainless steel blade. The knife itself is extremely light weight, with most of the knifes weight being in the blade. It is very balanced when open and the blade has a thick spine that adds to its
stiffness. Also, it is easy to sharpen and it holds a good edge. I use this for most of my everyday chores. I try not to use it on animals. Not that it wouldn’t do a great job, but just because when you are in the field, folding knives tend to be a little bit more
difficult to clean and if you have ever gutted an antelope, you will find out real quick how tough it is to get the loose hair out of the handle and folding  mechanism of the knife.

For the majority of my animal work I have switched over to using fixed blade knives. I carry these knives in my pack so I am not concerned with how they carry on my belt.

Mostly I prefer the drop pointed blades on these knives. However, I am currently using a Knives of Alaska Light Hunter that is a pure skinning knife. This knife features a non-slip handle and also offers a gutting hook, which I have become quite partial to. It isn’t the lightest knife that I carry. Even though it is an overall short knife. It has a very heavy blade and is very stout. The company claims that it could even be used as a mini cleaver! I haven’t used it for that purpose yet, but I am sure that you could use it to chop through the H-bone or rib cage of an elk if need be. I have only had
this knife for a season and I was only able to use it on a mule deer that I shot last fall. The knife performed superbly and held a good sharp edge throughout the whole process.  The other knife that I carry is a Spyderco Temperance fixed-blade, drop point knife.
Spyderco is more known for there unique designs and folding knives, but with this one they hit the nail on the head. What I look for in a knife, is a comfortable non-slip handle, a stiff spine and the
ability to keep and maintain a sharp edge. This knife meets all these criteria. Last year on an antelope hunt I was able to clean, split the rib cage and H-bone, quarter and skin three antelope before the knife needed to be resharpened. Then when I did resharpen it, a couple of swipes on the stone was all it needed to be razor sharp. This is a real meat and potatoes type of knife that has found a permanent home in my pack.

In all it doesn’t really matter what type of knives you carry as long as they are sharp! A dull knife is a sure way to get hurt and to make an easy job, a difficult job. Let me know what you like. I am always looking for something to take the work out of the work once the animal is on the ground. Good luck.

What type of shelter do you use?

July 27th, 2007

What type of tent or shelter do you use when you camp? Since this whole backcountry mule deer hunt has come up, I have been trying to decide what type of shelter to carry that would be comfortable and lightweight. If we were going to be doing a big right off the road camp, I would be using our large comfortable outfitter tent.
However, that is not the hunt that I will be doing and carrying a tent that weighs a couple of hundred pounds, just isn’t feasible. So, I have been doing quite a bit of research on the subject and frankly, I have become quite confused. There are three season tents, sill shelters, tee-pee style, dome style, bivi bags, modified bivi bags, and the list goes on. Oh, and I must add, the lighter you get, the more they cost! It is kind of funny when you think about it, because you always want the most for your buck, but in this case less is more. See, I am confusing myself just writing this down. Anyway, what I have decided to do is just to stick to what I know from back in the service days. The good old (not so glorious) Poncho Hooch! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the poncho hooch, all it is is a square piece of waterproof material, such as a tarp or rain poncho.
If it has grommets it makes it much easier to attach your guide lines to. No poles, but a few stakes may come in handy in areas that do not offer very many trees and that is pretty much it. The set-up is pretty much left up to the builder and the terrain. With a little imagination a person can build themselves quite the mansion! Well maybe not a mansion, but at least a place to stay dry and out of the elements.