Cabelas Great Outdoor Days! Aug. 16th - Billings, MT
Join me as I talk about all of the new and old elk calls offered by Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls! I will be at Cabelas from 11 to 4 and will be doing an hour long seminar on how to call! Come out and see some great vendors, learn something new, find great deals, and maybe even win a free Hunt App. membership from onXmaps as well as a few other giveaways from me!
Shedhorn Sports! Aug. 23rd and 24th - Ennis, MT
Join me in Ennis for Shedhorn Sports big fall event. I will have a table set up demonstrating calls offered by Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and answer any question you might have. This two day event is great to see some of the best equipment in the business and get a chance to meet vendors who can answer many questions on gear selection. You will also find amazing deals on firearms and ammo. Don't miss out!
Sportsman's Warehouse! Aug. 30th - Helena, MT
I will be at the Helena Sportsman's Warehouse from 4pm to 6 pm for an in depth seminar about elk hunting. I will cover every aspect from calling, gear, weather, mapping, and tactics for the beginner and experience hunter. I will have a few handouts and giveaways for those in attendance. This is perfect timing right before the season kicks off!
Today's the day I have been waiting for. The website is up and running and the 3500 Exo pack is now on sale. The crew at exomountaingear.com are running a pre-order special. Order from now until the 24th of March and receive $50 off the price of the pack. There is a simple code to enter at checkout and you will receive the discount. The pack currently comes in three colors Coyote brown and ASAT available now and foliage green which will be available May 15th. ASAT is an additional $25. You can also pick from three different waist sizes to fit you just right. There will be some additional accessories coming out at a later time to add to the pack, which allows some customization, which is great. My order is in and can't wait to get my hands on it. Make sure and stop by the site to get your order in. They may go fast.
April can't get here fast enough, but it will be just in time to load it up and hit the trail for spring bear season. I will be putting together a review and hopefully a video review of all of the components and features of the pack in the very near future. As I stated previously this is my gear pick for this year to help me in the field. This pack will serve as a 5 day pack as well as day pack. Can't wait!!!!
If you are like me, you like to scour the internet looking for new items to come hitting the market year after year. I spend a lot of time and research into the new products hitting the market. Just recently, I found Exo Mountain Gear. They are a new pack company with a pack in the works set to come out in the spring of 2014.
After doing a little research and looking at what they have to offer, I believe that I have found the pack I have been waiting to find. Currently, the pack being built is a 3500 cu. in. pack and the pack is attached to an external frame. It also appears there is a larger pack in the works. There is a poll on the website asking for consumer input on which larger size to go with. It sounds like the majority are for a 5500 to 6000 cu. in. are in the lead. The nice thing is that if you want to use either the 3500 or the larger bag, both simply connect to the frame. This is very similar to the Mystery Ranch Nice Frame packs that are already out. So once you get one bag all you need is the other and one frame.
These packs are made to be used as a day pack as well as a meat hauling pack in one. You simply unbuckle the pack from the frame keeping the bottom of the pack attached. There are then two compression straps connected to the external frame that you can strap around the meat to hold it against the frame. After strapping the meat down you then place the pack over the top and tighten it down with more compression straps. Leaving the bottom attached to the frame allows the meat to stay higher on the pack and keep the weight more in the center of your back.
Another amazing feature, and what is said to be the main point of the pack is the titanium frame. If you look at the website, it shows how this system works. The frame is constructed on two principals. First, the great vertical strength, and second, the ability for the pack to pivot and move with you from side to side. I have used frame packs in the past for hauling meat and they can be very rigid. With the movement of the pack, this takes away the tension on your hip flexors. There are a couple of videos on the website now that show exactly how this system works and it makes perfect sense.
In one video you can see just how much the pack can haul. I can honestly say I will most likely never haul 150 lbs of meat, but it is nice to know the capability is there. I have done 5 day trip in the past and 2500 cu. in. could get me by, but having an extra 1000 cu. in. would be nice for that extra stuff I like to have just to make camp a little more comfortable I usually leave behind.
I'm hoping to get my hands on one of these packs this year, but am prepared for the worst, as they might sell out quickly. Word has gotten out about this pack and guys are chomping at the bit to get their heads on it. I'm excited to see the outcome and finished product.
Rather than me explaining the features, here are the specs and features of the pack from the website:
Exo Skeleton Frame Panel:
Titanium Skeleton frame (the heart and soul of the pack!) 25″ tall
Non-slip lumbar pad fabric to prevent lumbar pad shifting
Micro adjustable torso (16″-22″)
Open suspension design for maximum breath-ability
Adjustable load lifter angle
Locking ladder locks buckles to prevent critical webbing from moving
Micro adjustable lumbar frame angle for custom fit
Angled compression straps for better load hauling
Meat hauling load shelf
Closed cell cross-linked ethylene copolymer foam provides excellent load distribution
Exo 3500 ci bag:
3500 cubic inches (4800 will be available summer of 2014)
Total of 14 different compression straps to secure items and loads to the pack
Reverse lid for ease of top access to bag when pack is loaded
Stretchy external pockets for room when pack is full and keeps items tight and quiet
Three different pockets to carry a spotting scope
9 pockets total for organization
18″ Side zipper for quick main bag access
4 places to mount hydration bladder
Main Fabric currently 500d Cordura (still testing other fabrics)
water resistant #10 YKK zippers
Starting at $449 for bag and frame (available spring 2014)
Tentative color options; Coyote Brown, ASAT and Multicam
Made right here in Boise, ID USA
Specs are for the current 3rd Generation pack, the final product may vary slightly
As you can see the specs are not finalized as the company is still in the testing process, but very close to a finished product. The 4th gen. pack will be the final product and is looking like it will be on the market in the middle of April.
Every year there is something new that comes out and this pack is looking like the product I will be hoping to get for this year. I'm sometimes weary about new products as they have not been tested yet, but from the little research I have done so far this pack looks ready to go with little worry.
I have always had an issue of having some great packs that get me by in one way or another, but the prospect of having a day pack and meat hauler in one is exactly what I've been looking for. I know if I pick this pack up I'm sure there will be something else out there, but it appears this pack would fit all of my wants and needs in a pack.
Well 2013 didn't quite turn out to be the hunting season I was hoping for. This past year brought many new chapters to my life. I began the year with the birth of my first child, Lane. My wife and I are very blessed to have such an amazing child. He has brought a joy into our lives we never thought possible. After having Lane not much else had changed. Next came spring turkey season where I was lucky enough to harvest my best bird yet with my bow. I hunted in SD with Dusty and Stephen and once again where we captured some great video footage. We all filled tags on great birds. After spring season finished up the summer flew by. We didn't do a whole lot, but made it back to Lemmon for my 10 year high school reunion. It was a blast getting to see most everyone again and there is nothing better than going home. It always amazes me how much that small town can change. After summer passed us by I now began to look for employment in the western part of the state. Leah has been wanting to move to a larger area and I was very excited for the prospect of trying something new out. I managed to land a job in Helena so the move was made. I left the family behind for a little while before they moved out with me. I was lucky enough to fit a couple days of antelope hunting in, but never had any success. It was great just getting out when I had the chance. So there I was all packed up and ready to begin my new adventure. We bought a 27' bumper pull camper and that would be home. I moved out the last part of Aug. and of course elk season was right around the corner. I knew with the move and beginning a new job hunting was going to be put on the back burner. I would hopefully get out a little bit and explore some new areas. I didn't manage to fit any elk hunting in, but am very eager for next fall. All while this big move was going on, I was privileged to help out Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls by going to a seminar and sitting at booths for them selling product and demonstrating how to use them. It is always a blast getting to visit with other hunters both young, old, new, and experienced. After getting in a couple of shows and a seminar in it was time to work. Work has occupied the majority of my time, but I knew that coming in. I finally got the family all moved in and as cramped as it was I could ask for nothing more. We eventually found a much roomier place to live and are doing great. I'm loving the area. The sights are endless and I can't wait for the coming spring and fall. While living her I have recently taken back up fly fishing and am loving it. I managed to sneak a few days in here and there and am looking forward to hitting the river in the spring. It is an art I'm still learning, but am in a great area to learn. Living closer to bear country will be great. My plans are to hopefully make a trip back to SD to hunt some turkey, but will most likely concentrate on doing some spot and stalk hunting for black bear with my bow. With this move there has been some big changes. New home, new job, and loss of a couple of pets. Unfortunately we had to put down a very loved family dog and sold our two horses as we don't have the room or time needed for them. I got to hunt whitetails a couple of days and ran across one of the better whitetail bucks I have seen in quite a few years. While living in eastern MT I concentrated on mostly mule deer, but look forward to transitioning back to the whitetail frame of mind. It has been a very hard year for me not spending much time in the field, but now as a parent my perspective has changed. Hunting will always be a huge portion of my life, once you add a family in the mix everything changes. And that is a change for the better. It's hard to say what 2014 will bring, but the future looks very bright and the anticipation is exciting. Only time will tell what tags are filled and what adventures I will go on.
On July 16th I hit the road and headed to Etna, WY. I worked my day shift and drove as far as Bozeman on the 16th. The morning of the 17th came early and I was on my way to Etna to meet with fellow pro staffers Michael Batease and Kristy Titus as well as owner of Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Rockie Jacobsen.
I pulled into Archery Unlimited around 11:30 and met with Rockie. It was great to finally meet him in person again. We visited for a bit then hit the range to shoot our bows for a bit. It was great to get a little shooting in as I haven't been doing near enough of it as of late. After shooting for a bit we cooled down in the archery shop and Michael and Kristy pulled in. Again it was great getting to meet up with everyone in person again. We shot our bows a little more and had a friendly 3D shoot.
After visiting a little more it was time to set up. After setting up it was time for the seminar. It was very eye opening and great to gain the knowledge that Rockie, Michael, and Kristy have when it comes to elk hunting. The seminar went great and got to talk a little bit about decoying and throw in other information when needed. This was my first seminar with RMHC so it was more of a chance to see how they like to do seminars. It was a great experience and a blast getting to hang out for a day and talk about elk hunting.
After the seminar we took everything down and relaxed for the evening. Everyone was pretty shot and tired after driving a long ways, some much further than others. Everyone crashed out somewhat early.
I was up early the next morning around 4 a.m. and hit the road back to home around 4:30. I made it home just in time to watch Lane so Leah could go to work. It was a fast trip but a fun one.
If you ever get the opportunity to sit in on a seminar put on by RMHC don't miss out. There is more information there than you can process, but it is information you need to help make you a better elk hunter.
Here is your chance to win a brand new Garmin Oregon 600 GPS for free. All you have to do is place any order on huntinggpsmaps.com and you will be entered to win. The more you buy the better your odds of winning. It's as simple as buying a hat or t shirt and you are entered. If you don't have their maps yet you won't regret by purchasing those either. As I have said before they have literally changed the way I hunt. It is one of those products where you ask yourself why hasn't someone thought of this There is only 6 days left so don't miss out.
It amazes Me how we as hunters can sometimes be our own worst enemies. Time and time again I see people out there that rag on someone because of how they hunt or what they hunt or various other complaints. I find myself every once in a while doing this same thing and always have to remember that just because it's not something I might do doesn't mean it isn't right. For example high fence hunting is not something I will ever do, but it is a growing aspect of hunting. It may not be my thing, but it can be an ally to hunting. I look at this means of hunting not my cup of tea, but at the same time it might get a beginner into hunting and someday they may come around to hunting public ground and spread the word about hunting.
Back to high fence hunting it can also have negative aspects on hunting, but at the same time so can the DIY public land hunter. Like with everything in life there is the select few who abuse things that can give others a bad name. I can think of more than one occasion where I have found garbage lying around or a gate left open. Things like this can ruin the privileges we are so lucky to have.
In today's world things are always up in the air and it seems year after year we lose a lot when it comes to hunting. In the past few years I have saw a change for the better. I spend much of my off time watching outdoor TV. It has been such a breath of fresh air to see shows like On Your Own Adventures, Meat Eater, Pure Hunting, Outback Outdoors, Western Hunter, and so on that is showing some great aspects to hunting. It is the common guy looking to get out and hunt public ground. I can honestly say I have never paid a guide to take me out hunting, but won't ever say I won't pay someday. Living in MT gives me a lot of opportunity to get out there on my own and hunt the same ground every other person has the opportunity to hunt. I'm sure there will come a time where I will hunt somewhere or something where I have little knowledge about that I will need the help of a guide.
With some of the complaining I understand and have the same stance. The only problem is that we may eventually run into the problem of creating more of a headache for ourselves. There is enough opposition to hunting that we all need to stand together and fight the good fight. As time passes the world will only get more populated and it is imperative to keep the luxury of public and private land we have and carry on the traditions that were passed on to us. One of my favorite quotes is one I have written on my blogs before and it comes from Fred Bear. "If you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy it." I again think this rings true when it comes to hunters vs. hunters.
Another thing that is funny to see is the amount of people that will rag on someone for the success they have. I for one have fallen into this as it can be frustrating to watch people on TV and see the success they have and some can even make a living at it. More than anything it comes down to jealousy. I have saw and heard multiple times, guys dogging Cameron Hanes about how he is too extreme and it's pointless to push yourself as hard as he does. At the same time how many guys can say they went out and went 4 for 4 on bull elk in one year. Not too many I would guess. I wish I had half the drive he did. Now if we just banded together and fought for the good side to hunting more we would have so much more push.
I watched this past legislation in MT where a bill that would have opened up access to close to 1 million more acres of public land get shot down. I never understood how this bill didn't pass. It was amazing to see hunters band together and take bus loads of people to Helena and show what it meant to them. I was unable to make to help out, but can't give enough thanks to those who did. In the end we didn't gain more ground, but I later found out many reasons why. After hearing why it didn't pass it made perfect sense. One of the reasons I didn't even think of it passing was that private landowners had complaints of public land hunters abusing the public ground. As stated before from complaints of garbage, open gates, as well as other stuff. Once again hunters hurting hunters.
One thing that I don't agree with, and this will add to the hunters vs. hunters, is how hunting over time has became a commercialized sport. I have watched certain organizations lobby for tags to be allocated for the rich. I have nothing wrong with certain "governor's tags" or tags that raise money for state agencies or money that goes back to the wildlife. What I don't agree with and would love to see go away is the tags that put up for auction that goes to the highest bidder. Those tags are taken out of the general special permit draw and I find it unfair to be able to just purchase a tag when every other person fights year after year in the draw systems. There are many great organizations out there that help fund wildlife and land, but you have to be careful who's organizations you join. Make sure and do some research on those organizations. Some are just out there for the money and don't put back into our resources.
I believe it is up to us as hunters to band together and educate the uneducated among both hunters and non-hunters to keep what we have. In today's world things have improved for the better. Hunting is on the rise and it is due to the hard work of hunters. It is hard to find a non-hunter or environmentalist against hunting that has done much to improve a species. The world would not have many of the animals we have to hunt if it wasn't for hunters knowing that conservation is the only way to maintain a healthy population. I see a bright future ahead and look forward to doing my part to help educate and pass on what we are so fortunate to have.
In closing if you get the chance, take someone new out hunting and show them the good side of hunting. If you find an open gate close it and teach them the importance of keeping landowners happy as well as other hunters happy. It only takes one open gate to keep you from hunting someone's private ground they let you hunt. If you see a piece of garbage pick it up and teach that if we continue to abuse places we are allowed to hunt they will someday be gone. Most importantly teach them and educate them about the importance of hunting and conservation. Without them there would be no hunting. There will always be those that hurt our traditions we just have to make sure and progress forward and work to keep what we have.
"A hunt based on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be...time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals, and fish that live there." - Fred Bear
I love this quote by Fred Bear as it is a lot of the reason why I bow hunt. I always remember growing up and the goal was always to see who could shoot the biggest animal. As I continue to hunt year after year my view on hunting changes. Not that I was ever a true trophy hunter, but I always wanted that 180 in. mule deer, 160 in. whitetail, or 350 class bull elk to determine my success. I haven't attained those goals, but have grown into a great hunter.
Over time I have come to love what I believe hunting is for. That is to purely enjoy the outdoors and what it has to offer in terms of nature and family. I have grown closer with my friends and family through the outdoors and continue a healthy habit that has in recent years over taken a lot of my time. To this day that 180 in. mule deer, 160 in. whitetail, and 350 class bull elk are still some of my goals. I have learned through bow hunting, however, to lower my standards and appreciate what hunting has to offer.
I now take pieces from every hunt I'm on and turn them into memories, experience, and knowledge. If I could get paid to hunt for the rest of my life it would be a dream come true. Growing up I always told my best friend Stephen that every day we were out hunting or fishing I could do it the rest of my life everyday. As life goes on it seems that it's harder and harder to get out and spend as much time as I would like out in the field. I still manage to make time to get outside and pursue my passion. I am also blessed to have family that realizes my passion for bow hunting and is gracious enough to allow me to continue my pursuit.
One of the main reasons I bow hunt is the amount of time that is allowed in most states. Fred Bear said it best about the difference between rifle and bow hunting. He said, "With a gun you can hunt deer an average of 3 weeks a year. With a bow you can hunt an average of 10 weeks more depending upon the state you hunt in." With the chance of spending more time in the woods comes more opportunity as well. Montana has a very long season both archery and rifle, but growing up in South Dakota you only really had three weekends with a rifle. The archery season there lasts much longer, which is more appealing to me anymore. I may have a better chance at a larger buck with a rifle, but I feel much more accomplished and rewarded if I can close the distance on an animal down to under 30 yards rather than 200 yards with a rifle.
Although my standards have decreased since strictly taking up with bow hunting, I still try to go after that dream buck or bull. I have passed on many smaller bucks to try and get to the bigger one. It can be frustrating at times, but with persistence I know one day I will kill the big one I'm after. Also with each stalk or attempt I learn something new. With more and more experience each year I begin to have more and more opportunities. As each year passes my play book gets larger. There will never come a time when that book gets filled, but the more plays I have in the play book the more successful I will become. Some people get lucky and can pick up a bow and have a giant bull land in there lap. I would venture to guess though if you talk to most hunters there is way more failure than success. This past season is a very good example of that. I went out and filled my tag in the first few minutes of the hunt, my Brother Todd and I both told each other it's not supposed to be this easy. I count that success to majority of luck. Now if you look at the previous season I had multiple encounters with some great bulls, and cows, I was just never able to close the deal. It was a few days filled with experience gained that I will never forget, and has made me that much better of a hunter. It will always remain one of my favorite elk seasons, because of my encounters. I learned a lot that year. Had I been hunting with a rifle I most likely would have filled my tag on the first bull that came in and gave me a broadside shot at 140 yards, but I wouldn't have learned as much as I did. Not only was he a nice bull he was that 350 class bull I dream of. Had I filled my tag I would have missed out on 3 other encounters with elk in the very same afternoon. Although my tag went unfilled it was a successful season in terms of gaining experience.
The reasons in a nut shell that I bow hunt is the following:
Getting up close and personal with animals. If getting eye to eye with your prey is what you want then bow hunting is for you.
The challenge. There is nothing tougher than getting that close shot and having everything come together.
More time outside doing what I love. There are longer seasons and tags can be easier to draw.
Doing what our ancestors did years ago. There is no greater feeling than filling the freezer with stick and string.
Satisfaction that an unfilled tag didn't come without gaining valuable experience and knowledge for future hunts. My ultimate goal is not a harvest rather than memories with family and friends. A harvest is just icing on the cake.
My goal is to still shoot a big animal, score wise, but every kill with my bow is truly a trophy.
I didn't always know that bow hunting would be something I would be so passionate about, but I can't thank my brothers enough for instilling that passion into me. I have learned the majority of my knowledge directly from them. From there I have gained the confidence to venture out on my own and have now become more and more successful. If you think you can just pick up a bow and go start killing things, think again. It took me over 10 years to finally get my first kill. The reason I attribute to it taking that long is not having the persistence or drive to only hunt with archery equipment. I also did not practice near enough. After deciding to concentrate on my bow hunting the success began to follow. I also upgraded my equipment, which in today's world of bow hunting it is pretty much limitless. It still comes down to knowing your equipment and becoming proficient with it.
I have learned over time that bow hunting is the most rewarding sport you can take up if you put your mind to it. Be prepared to also become the most frustrated you have ever been. Bow hunting can take you on a roller coaster of emotions in just minutes. If you have ever wanted to begin bow hunting take it up. You can also just shoot archery for fun by joining a league or simply go out and shoot small game. Archery is pretty much a sport you can take up for the rest of your life. Just remember the important things, it's not the kill it's the adventure and memories made.
I will end this with one more quote from Fred Bear. "A downed animal is most certainly the object of a hunting trip, but it becomes an anticlimax when compared to the many other pleasures of the hunt."
Well the day finally came. We left home late on Fri. night and made a quick stop in Forsyth at the hospital as things were happening fast. After the quick pit stop they sent us onto Billings. Lane arrived at 1:00 pm on Sat. afternoon. To say I was amazed is an understatement. Everyone always tells you how amazing watching your child being born is, but words can't describe it. It's something you just have to experience. We were expecting a little larger boy, according to the doctors, but he was 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 inches long. The best part was that both mom and son are doing great. We made it home on Monday and are now all settled in.
I'm very excited for the years to come and pass down the knowledge I have onto him and hunting trips. I look forward to some time off of work, to bond with Lane, and of course watch lots of hunting shows. There are a couple of things he may not have a choice in and that is hunting and riding horse. Those are passions of both Leah and I. I am also very excited for the changes that are coming. It's amazing how such a little person can turn your world upside down and make you appreciate life that much more. We are very blessed and excited for our new adventure.
Well 2012 is coming to a close and as I look back I realize once again how blessed I truly am. It once again has been a year of more firsts for me. From finding out I will be a new dad in either 2012 or 2013, he hasn't quite decided yet. I also was able to take my first elk with my bow. An accomplishment and hunt I will never forget. I'm not sure what 2013 will bring, but very excited for it and can't wait until spring turkey season begins. Before that begins I am trying to prepare myself for little sleep and many years of memories as my family grows by one.
Looking back on the 2012 hunting season, I started doing some spring turkey hunting around the Colstrip area. Birds around home are still down on numbers, but I managed to find a couple around. I did not have any luck filling my tag in MT, but headed to SD. I went back once again to SD as numbers of birds there way out number the birds in MT. Both myself and Stephen were successful in tagging a bird with our bows, and getting some good video footage of Stephen's at a whopping 6 yds. The weather didn't cooperate as well as planned, but we still managed to get out and have a good time as always. I'm looking forward to the upcoming spring and hopefully making another return trip back.
The summer was pretty uneventful as far as hunting goes. Archery antelope opened up in Aug. once again. I spent quite a few days chasing them around, but by the end of the season came up empty handed. Out of all of my stalks and patience I was allowed one opportunity, which fell short. As always antelope is one of my favorite seasons as it gets me out early, and there isn't as many hunters out in the field. This was the first time in the last three years I did not fill my archery tag.
During a portion of the antelope season deer and elk archery opened up. It makes things nice when you have to decide to chase a big mule deer buck or antelope buck. As in the blogs I was very successful filling both my elk and deer tags this year. The elk hunting trip was short lived this year, which looking back I wouldn't want it any other way. I was done after our first actual elk hunt on the first afternoon. It was incredible how fast things can happen. It was followed up a couple of days later with my brother Todd filling his tag as well. I don't think it ever fully sunk in what had occurred. My brothers and I spend most elk seasons chasing and getting into elk, but filling tags is another story. Finally things came together fast and we fill two tags in three days. It doesn't get much better. This as many hunts I go on will be one I remember forever.
I was also able to fill my deer tag on the last day I had to hunt. This again is a hunt I will never forget as the deer actually ran at me as if he knew it was his time. I made a great shot and easy recovery. This isn't the biggest buck I've killed, but only my 2nd with my bow and another unforgettable hunt.
I finished the year out by heading back to SD a couple of times and made some great memories with Stephen, and my in-laws. I always forget how good I had it growing up in SD and very much miss the bird hunting I had in the past. It is always nice to get back and hunt when I have the opportunity. It also gave me new excitement to hunt with Colt as he did a superb job this year. Like I had wrote before I regret not putting more time into him, but he is truly blessed with some great genes that make him the bird dog he is.
I was hoping to get out and chase some coyotes or possibly a wolf, but with Lane on the way it makes it a little more difficult. I don't mind though as I'm very excited for his arrival. Wishing everyone the best and thanks for following along as I continue to share my passion for the outdoors. Hoping everyone had a successful year and even if tags went unfilled there were memories made with family and friends as well as enjoying the gift we are blessed with spending time outdoors.