Tuesday, December 30, 2008

They call it trapping for a reason....

Wait, that doesn't make as much sense as "They call it hunting for a reason..." or "They call it fishing for a reason..."

Maybe it should be called "Setting" rather than trapping because I sure have set a lot of traps compared to the number of animals that I've caught in them.

I was really hoping to catch a bobcat over the christmas holidays but it is not looking very promising so far. I set 3 traps out specifically for bobcats and 3 traps out specifically for coyotes and they've been out for 9 nights now and I haven't caught a bobcat or a coyote yet. I did catch 2 possums, a porcupine and a piglet in the traps I set for bobcats, but I haven't caught anything in the traps I set for coyotes. I set 12 traps out for raccoons and I have caught 3 raccoons and 1 skunk in those traps but that is still a pretty poor success rate. I have made a serious dent in the raccoon population on my land though, those 3 bring my total to 19 raccoons trapped on 160 acres within a 12 month period! Trapping the possums should be really good for the ground nesting birds as well, I really have noticed an increase in the quail population from last year, I'm thinking that trapping all those raccoons last spring really did some good.

Here's a picture of the possum that I trapped playing possum. I'd always heard that expression but it really is true. I thought that it had somehow died in the trap until I got right up next to it and it opened it's eyes and looked at me! I'm glad I hadn't reached down and tried to get it out of the trap because they have some pretty sharp looking teeth!

One of the traps that I set for coyotes is right in front of one of my trail cameras where I had gotten videos of coyotes and bobcats in the past. Here's a picture of the trap set. It is called a dirt hole set where you dig a hole and set the trap in front of the hole and the animal is supposed to go look or dig in the hole to get the bait or lure that you place in it and step in the trap.

Here's a vidoe clip of me adding some lure to the hole behind the trap to give you a good idea of the trap location.

And then here is the video that made me sick to my stomach. A bobcat came within about a foot of stepping in the trap but then changed it's mind and walked away!

I had a clip of a coyote checking it out as well but that didn't bother me as much as missing the bobcat. I've been reading on a trapping bulletin board but I guess I still have some learning to do on getting them to commit that one extra step!

That's about it for now. I still have the traps out and plan on pulling them over the new years holiday. The last couple times I've checked them they have all been empty so I'm not too optimistic about the next few days but who knows?

That's about it for now.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Well, Eli still isn't sure about Santa.

The other day we went to go to a free Santa that they had gone to last year but there was a mix up and Santa wasn't there. So on Tuesday we headed to the Mall and stood in line to get a picture taken with Santa. Everything seemed fine until the kid in front of us cried really hard and Eli just wasn't sure about the whole thing. Cathy ended up sitting beside Santa and held Eli and we were able to crop Cathy out of the picture and it almost looks like Eli was enjoying himself!

But if you look at the true sequence of pictures you get the true story of Christmas!

Eli got a John Deere pedal tractor for his big present and he seems to like it quite a bit although it is a little too big for him to actually make it go with the pedals right now.

I've been out and checked on my traps twice and caught 2 possums, a skunk, a raccoon and about a 15lb piglet but no bobcats or coyotes. Maybe Santa left me a bobcat in a trap for Christmas last night!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eli is growing up!

I'm a little late posting pictures of Eli's 2nd birthday party, but they are better late than never!

He had 2 parties, one on his birthday Sunday at Fazzolis (he likes spaghetti) and one the next day at CiCi's so he got plenty of cake and cupcakes.

Here he is digging into his birthday cupcake on Sunday:

And the next day showing off his excellent table manners!

It really is amazing how fast they grow up. It really sneaks up on you until you look back at some of the older pictures.

Here is a picture of him from last year:

Last year he wasn't too happy when he sat on Santa's lap so Cathy has been working with him this year and we are hoping for a good experience for him tomorrow when we take him to see Santa. He has been wearing a Santa hat quite a bit lately and if you ask him what Santa says he replies "Ho, Ho, Ho!" If you read lips you can tell exactly what he is saying when he is pointing to Santa while reading a book tonight.

And I just thought this picture of him was too cute:

I might update the blog tomorrow with pictures from his visit to Santa but I wouldn't hold my breath on it. I've been pretty busy at work but it looks like I'm going to get to go down to the land some next week and try my hand at trapping some more. I'm really hoping to trap one of the bobcats that I've been getting trail camera pictures of but so far the only thing I've been able to catch has been raccoons and skunks so we'll see how it turns out.

If I don't make a post before then I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vegas Vacation!

Well, kind of...

I had an accounting conference out in Las Vegas and I have a companion pass for Cathy on Southwest Airlines, and Eli is under 2, so they were both able to fly out with me for free. Work was paying for most of the hotel bill, so we decided to make a mini vacation out of it.

Most people think of Las Vegas only as the gambling, lights, etc. but one of our favorite things to do when we are there is go out to Red Rock canyon. It is less than a 30 minute drive from the strip and it is very pretty and a lot of fun. Eli loved running around and climbing on things and throwing rocks. There is something about the smooth rock formations that just screams out "CLIMB ME"! I carryed Eli up a few spots but Cathy kept me in check on taking him on anything too difficult.

Here are a few pictures from our visit to Red Rock:

Believe it or not, the conference was pretty good and I got a lot out of it. I did play poker a few times and I felt pretty good about my skill level compared to many of the players. I did lose a little money but most of the time I did get my money in when I was ahead, luck just didn't go my way the first night. I played a total of about 12 hours over 2 nights and ended up down a little over $100. That's cheaper than most of the shows out there and I got quite a bit of entertainment value over the 12 hours I played.

Cathy and Eli had a good time shopping and went out to Red Rock canyon a couple times. Eli liked the fountains at Bellagio and the Volcano at the Mirage is working again so we saw that. Cathy took him to the free Circus at CircusCircus and they enjoyed that also although there wasn't an Elephant so I'm not sure it counts as a true circus!

Nothing else terribly exciting on this end.


Monday, December 1, 2008

They call it hunting for a reason...

Well, 2nd time out to the land without bringing anything home. My brother-in-law and 2 of their boys met me out there and we hunted Friday night and Saturday morning but didn't connect on anything. We saw about a dozen pigs on Friday night but they were nearly 1/2 mile away and it was only 10 minutes before dark so we didn't go after them. Saturday morning we saw a nice 2 1/2 year old 8 pointer but I asked him to pass on him so he could grow another year.

We set out some raccoon traps Friday night and didn't do very well on that either. With 9 traps out in 3 sets of 3 we only connected in one location and ended up with 1 raccoon and 1 skunk there.

I got some more trail camera pictures of a bobcat and I think this one is different due to it's coloration.

Talked with the neighbors who were there hunting and they showed me a nice buck that they had shot earlier in the week and once I checked my trail camera pictures I realized that I had gotten a picture of the same buck last week on one of my trail camera pictures.

At one of my corn feeders I have it setup where I can run a light on the feeder and it is legal in Texas to shot pigs even after dark. Several weeks ago some pigs came in after dark and I shot at a large dark pig in the background of the feeder, but after investigation there was no dead pig and could not even find any blood on the ground. The pig was quartering to me but I was shooting my 7mm Rem Mag with 175gr soft points and didn't figure that the angle would matter much. I checked again the next day and couldn't see any signs that I had hit anything. When I was looking for the blood at night I noticed that I cast a very distinct shadow in the light and thinking it through, I thought must have shot at a shadow, now I'm not so sure.

I recently got some interesting pictures of a large pig that has a broken right shoulder. I had some pictures of this pig last time I was there and didn't realize that the right shoulder was broken at the time, but this time I had several pictures of him and there is no doubt that he is not putting any weight on that right leg. He is hanging out with a very similar group of pigs to the ones that I saw at the feeder the night that I thought I shot at the largest of them which he would have been. I had shot 3 coyotes as far as 256 yards away that weekend as well as a nice deer so I was pretty confident in my shooting skills at the time and was having a hard time thinking that I could have missed. Now I'm thinking that I very well could have shot this pig and not killed him as he started showing up with the injured leg on camera just a few days after I thought I had shot the shadow. I doubt I will be able to prove anything conclusively unless I ground check him and recover the bullet. Not sure one way or the other, but he seems like he must be getting along reasonably well on 3 legs. I have several pictures of him over the last two weeks and he is hanging out with the same group of pigs each time.

Here's a picture of him the very next night:

Not sure when the next time I'll get back down there to do any hunting or trapping. I really want to give it a try at trapping one of those bobcats, and even though I shot 3 coyotes a few weeks ago from the sounds of them howling and yipping at night there are still a dozen or more of them in the area. I would like to trap a few of them as well.

Well, that's about it for now. Nathan

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trail Camera Pictures

Well, I haven't had much to post about, but I finally got my latest trail camera pictures uploaded so I figured I would share those.

My niece visited last weekend and we went pig hunting one evening but didn't see any pigs. I stayed an extra day but they stripped the cotton in the field next to my property and I only saw one pig about a 1/2 mile away and moving. It wasn't ever on my property that I could tell.

I got a decent picture of a bobcat during the daylight on one of my cameras. Not a perfect picture but the cat sure looks pretty with some great spots.

When it gets cold enough I'm going to try to set some traps out for it, but I'm not sure how successful I'll be since it usually takes several days for a bobcat to find a trap set and I usually only have time to leave one out for a night or two at the most.

I got another interesting critter on the trail camera. I guess porcipines like corn too!

It got me thinking of all the different animals that I've seen in person or gotten pictures of on the land since I've owned it less than two years. Of course I've seen plenty of deer and pigs, also plenty of raccoons! Some other critters I've seen or gotten pictures of include a javelina, coyotes, bobcats, porcipine, skunks, rabbits, armadillos, and a badger. I think that's it for animals. I've also seen Turkey, quail, dove, cardinals, blue jays, hawks, owls, buzzards, and a bunch of other birds. Rattlesnakes, bull snakes, turtles. I'm sure I'm leaving something out. It really is amazing the diversity of critters on one 160 acre piece of property.

I posted a bunch of other trail camera pictures if you are interested. They start on page 10 and go to page 11. There are several different bucks but nothing too exciting. Some pigs as well including a new batch of piglets.

Here's a link - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/album04?page=10

Well, that's about it for now. Missed a few posts lately, things are getting busy at work and I'm sure I could come up with a few other good excuses!

Later. Nathan

Monday, November 3, 2008

Doublewide is Down!

Well, the buck that was #1 on my hit list for this year is down!

Not the biggest buck as far as antlers go, but he is for sure the oldest deer I've ever shot. The only problem was that it was too quick, I shot him on the evening of the 2nd day of rifle season. I passed on a really nice looking 2 1/2 year old the first evening and watched a couple spikes roaming all over the property and saw one forkhorn as well. I didn't see a doe the entire time.

About 30 minutes before sunset a spike crossed one of my fields and came through the creek bottom and then about 5 minutes later Doublewide followed him up out of the creek bottom. About 5 minutes later he was on the ground. Shot was at 125 yards and I actually hit him a little forward of where I was aiming and went through both shoulders and he dropped on the spot.

He is actually so old his antlers are regressing. He had a pretty nice rack last year and that's when he got the nickname of "Doublewide." This year he lost about 4" in spread and about 10" in tine length and some mass as well. He actually is fairly small bodied for a buck in my area, so it made his rack look a little bigger than it actually was also. He weighed 172lbs on the hoof.

He only scores 112 2/8 but he is still one of my all time trophies in my eyes. I'm working on bleaching his skull out and trying to decide how to mount it. I'm wanting to put his jawbones on there somehow, I think they are as much of a trophy as his antlers. Also thinking of putting some of last years trail camera pictures with it as well as some of the harvest pictures on a plaque or something. Oh well, now for the pictures.

Self portrait with a timed camera on the backpack:

Here are some trail camera pictures that show that his antlers actually were smaller this year than last year.

First a comparision of his spread. First picture is before he shed last year's antlers, second picture is when he was pretty much done growing this years antlers. I don't have any pictures of him after he shed the velvet off of this years antlers for a perfect comparison, but you can see that he is several inches narrower this year than last year.

Next is a comparision of his tine length. Again, the first picture is before he shed last year's antlers, second picture is when he was pretty much done growing this years antlers. His right side was particularly smaller this year than last year.

The only negative aspect of the whole thing is that the county that I hunt in is a 1 buck county, so it looks like that is the end of my deer hunting for this year.

Another interesting thing about this weekend was the number of predators that were out during the day. I saw 3 coyotes and a bobcat all during the day. I ended up shooting all 3 of the coyotes. 1 was at 256 yards, 1 was at 251 yards and 1 was at 125 yards. I was feeling pretty good about my shooting abilities after that and dropping Doublewide with one shot, but somehow I missed a pig that came into the feeder after dark the last evening!

Here are some pictures of a couple of the coyotes that I shot. I didn't include one because it ended up pretty messy. I was shooting 175 grain bullets out of my 7mm Reg Mag so it was a little overkill for coyotes.

Well, I might have exceeded the allowable post size with this one! I actually have some pretty good trail camera shots to post as well but I'll save that for later.

I guess that's it for now.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Quail Hunting...

Well it was a BEAUTIFUL week weather wise. We had several awesome evenings with temperatures in the mid 60's, calm wind, and not a cloud in the sky.

Saw a very nice mature whitetail buck and doe one evening on the way home from work as I turned the corner on the way to the house so that was neat (they were on my property about 400 yards from the house with 2+ hours of daylight left - I think the rut must be starting).

I saw the first ever pheasant on my property, a huge rooster that flew into my CRP grass from my sorghum that I planted this spring.

However, I only saw 1 covey of about a dozen quail on the property around the house. I shot 2 of them and that will probably be the extent of my quail hunting around the house unless I see more quail than that. Late this summer I had 2 good coveys hanging out, but not sure where the other one went. The cotton fields haven't been stripped yet so they may be hanging out in them.

Dove season goes 1 more week but there aren't many dove hanging out around here right now. I think we need another hard cold front to bring the rest down but hunting season will be over by then. I may do a little quail hunting down on my Fisher county property, I have 3 or 4 good coveys down there, but I hate to quail hunt during deer season since I would rather shoot a nice deer than some quail. Maybe I'll get a big buck down early and be able to spend some time on quail.

Here's my results from Saturday's hunt. 2 Dove and 2 Quail.

I'm hoping to go down to our land in Fisher county this weekend for opening weekend of deer season. Not sure if that will happen or not though.

I did get my chainsaw out and cut up some smaller dead trees around the house and got some firewood ready. It started right up and worked great.

Not a lot else happening here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dove hunting

Well, I got to go out dove hunting this evening and got my limit (15) right as the sun went down. Our dog Baby helps me find them after I pull the trigger.

Not a whole lot else to talk about. Things at work have a little lull before they are going to start picking up again for real in a few more weeks. Cathy went to Weatherford to visit her parents so I'm on my own this week. I should be able to go out dove hunting a few more times this week after work but the season is over this weekend, but that means quail season starts this weekend too!

That's about it for now.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New trail camera - Videos!

Well, I got a new trail camera and put it out a month ago and was pretty happy with the results this weekend when I went to check on it. It is a tiny camera compared to my others (it is smaller than a coke can) and it seems to work very well also. It cost about the same as the last one but seems to work much better. Hopefully it will last better since I'm already sending in my last one for repairs under warranty.

It got as many animals set out on a trail as some of my other cameras did set up on feeders!

I had a hard time deciding which ones to post so I'll just post a whole bunch of them and if you want to click on them then go ahead. I've had cameras out on the property for nearly 2 years now, and the scoutguard got my first bobcat on film in less than a month of being out there.

I got a bobcat and coyote on camera:

I got several different bucks on camera:

A couple young bucks decided to have a sparring match right in front of the camera:

I got several does with and without fawns:

And here is a video of a what seems to be a single doe walking by, but right at the end you see a shadow on the right of the screen and the next video is her twin fawns walking by. (I have it set to take 10 second videos then pause 5 seconds and take another 10 second video if there is still motion detected)

That's about it. Hope you enjoy the videos. There were about 50 good videos but several were of the same deer on different days and a few pigs and raccoons as well. Overall I was very impressed with my new camera.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekend at the land

Well, Cathy went to visit her parents and help with her mom after she had knee surgery so I went down to the land this weekend. I wanted to shoot a pig to try out my new meat grinder making sausage and had a few projects to get done as well and I was supposed to meet a guy there who was going to buy my old trailer plus of course I wanted to check my trail cameras.

I bought a new husqvarna chainsaw last winter with the intention of using it to do some work down on the land as well as cut up some firewood to bring back to the house but never did get around to it until this weekend. I pulled it out of the box and read the instructions and mixed some 2 stroke oil and bought some chain oil and was ready to go. After 2 days of trying to start it I'm about to give up on it. The amazing thing is that one of the main reasons that I chose that particular model of chainsaw was because I read several reviews of how easy it was to start compared to other chainsaws. I'm going to take it in and hopefully there is an easy fix.

I ended up using the tractor as a chainsaw on some of the trees that I had intended to trim back and it actually worked pretty good. I just put the loader up on the tree trunk about 5 or 6 feet off the ground and gave it a good push and branches and trees up to about 5" - 6" would just break off. I may have got more done that way than I would have with the chainsaw. I also mowed a few shooting lanes through the brush to help me be able to see the deer when they are moving through. I may end up making these a little wider and plant some wheat or oats on them for next fall.

Here is a view looking south from my hunting blind:

Here is a close up of the shooting lane that I cleared:

I may end up putting in a few more shooting lanes at some point and maybe even plant some wheat and oats or clover or something in them. It is almost impossible to see deer moving through the mesquite it is so thick.

Here's a picture from the blind looking out into the mesquite. Believe it or not, I've actually done some clearing before this picture was taken.

I sat in the blind 2 nights and 2 mornings and saw deer each time except for the last morning. I saw pigs on the first morning for just a brief period moving through the trees and then shot a pig on the 2nd evening at the feeder when they came in basically after dark. I was BARELY able to see the pig through the scope and it dropped right in it's tracks so I didn't have to mess with tracking it in the dark. So, I was able to try out my new meat grinder and ended up making 30lbs of breakfast sausage. I made a spicy batch and a mild batch and it turned out pretty good. I didn't add any fat to the mix and it turned out a little lean for sausage but I'm not sure if that is really a bad thing or not. The pig ended up a little bloody so I won't post a picture of it.

I was really happy with my new trail camera. I had it on video mode and I got videos of a bobcat and coyote as well as several deer and pigs. It is on a trail and seems to work very well. The bad news is that I didn't get any pictures of stickers or double wide. They seem to have shifted their ranges and aren't coming to the protein feeder anymore. I have 2 other bucks that are both decent bucks that are still showing up sporadically but the consistent users of the protein feeder are now all young bucks.

Not sure when I'll be able to get back down there. Maybe for the opening of quail season, but I might not be able to get back down there until deer season starts.

I think that is about it. Nathan

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nothing exciting...

Well, back to the grind this week. Got the elk butchered and that took a little longer than I had expected but also got a new toy in the process, a small meat grinder that worked pretty well to make some elk burger and I'll hopefully be trying it out making some pork sausage sometime soon. When it was all said and done, we ended up with around 200lbs of meat in the freezer so that helps a little in justifying the expense of going on the hunt. It calculates out to some pretty expensive meat though!

I'm getting caught up at work and with chores around the house. The tractor still isn't running as well as it should, but I did get some work done with it, planted about 3 acres of wheat and oats and got some mowing done. The mosquitos are out of this world after that last big rain! They actually ran out of insect repellent sprays at nearly every store in Lubbock last week. You know the mosquitos are bad when there was over a 1/2 page article on the front page of the newspaper about them!

That's really about it. Just trying to get back in the habit of posting once a week again.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Successful Elk Hunt!!!!

Well, I'm finally starting to get my desk uncovered and still have a TON of work to do to get caught back up, but I really want to get this posted and so I might as well just do it.

After work on Thursday the 18th, we drove through the night to meet up with my friends I was going to hunt with. One of my friends didn't get off work until around 6:00 pm so we hung around a bit and relaxed and then we all went out to dinner and then we headed out with the travel trailer in tow. It ended up being a longer drive than I expected. I actually slept an hour or so on the drive and I needed it because I drove most of the way from Lubbock, and only got an hour or so of sleep on Thursday night.

We got to where we were going to setup camp at 11:00 pm and thankfully no one was in the spot were we wanted to park the trailer (the entire campground was empty) and we had it setup and got to bed at 1:00 am Saturday morning.

The alarm was set for 4:45 am and we were on the trail in the dark at 5:30 am. It was dry and dusty and as we were hiking in on the trail we made out some very fresh grizzly bear tracks on the trail. The prints were so clear you could see the wrinkle lines in the paws. It looked like a large sow and a 2nd year cub.

We left the trail and skirted a small lake and it was rapidly approaching shooting light. We turned our headlamps off when we left the main trail. The brush was pretty thick and it was pretty difficult to walk quietly. We got to some fairly fresh wallows and bugled. Nothing responded. We went down the valley and found some more wallows and lots of sign that elk had been in the area recently. We bugled again and this time we got a response!

My friend moved down the hill about 30 yards to bugle and his son and I setup in the brush near some trees about 10 yards apart. A few more bugles back and forth and we could hear the elk moving toward us! At the time I only thought 1 bull was coming in but they heard 2 different bulls. It was pretty heavy brush and I only had 2 small openings where I could see more than 20 or 30 yards in front of me and I kept checking between them. I could hear the elk moving in and then I saw a cow elk move through one of my shooting lanes about 100 yards away. A bull was right on her tail, but hung up just out of my shooting lane. I could just see his head as he turned to look in our direction I knew he was a shooter. I wasn’t sure how big he was, but he was bigger than a raghorn and that was my goal, to shoot a 5x5 or bigger.

He hung up in the trees for nearly a minute where all I could see was the very front of his head. Then for some reason the cow elk came back through the opening, moving back up the hill. The bull turned to follow, and as he turned to follow he came out into the opening for a split second and I figured it was now or never and pulled the trigger. It was a severe quartering away shot and he was turning quickly so I probably shouldn’t have taken the shot, but I did. I was using a small pine tree as a rest but there wasn’t any branches to use so it was pretty close to an offhand shot. It had all happened so quickly that I still had my backpack on. I didn’t hear the bullet hit and the bull was nearly out of sight when I shot so I wasn’t even sure that I had hit it. I said that I made a bad shot and my friends son shhh’d me. They had heard the other bull and thought they might have a chance at him. After a few minutes they decided that the other bull was gone and we went to see about the one that I had shot at.

I marked the spot where he was when I shot well, but where he was when I shot was an area that had a bunch of short brush with a ton of red leaves and partial red leaves with spots that looked like blood spots. It was going to be next to impossible to find a blood trail if I hit him. We spread out and started in the direction he was going when I shot and a few seconds later we saw him trashing in the brush. He was down! I shot him again behind the shoulder and it was over. He had run about 30 yards after he was hit the first time.

We took a bunch of pictures of him and then got to work. I decided that although he was a respectable bull that I would still hope to shoot a larger bull some day for a shoulder mount so we weren’t going to cape him, but my friend said you can get good money for an elk cape from the taxidermist, so they set about capping him while I quartered the hind legs and backstraps. After about 30 minutes of working on the cape, they discovered that they had accidently cut through on one spot on the neck so that project was abandoned and we finished quartering him and got the tenderloins out. When we were walking in, my friend mentioned that some rain would be good and regrettably he got his wish. About the time we started working on the elk it started raining and rained off and on the rest of the day an into the night.

Here are a few pictures of him:

We put a shoulder, backstrap and tenderloin from each side in plastic bags and got them setup on backpacks. We moved the hindquarters about 200 yards away from the kill site in case the scavengers found it before we got back. We were about 1 ½ miles from the trail head with about 2/3rds of that being through brush and fallen timber. Packing him out was tiring but uneventful for the most part. My friend fell once and said he hurt his back, but I think he was just trying to get out of carrying one of the hindquarters back on the return trip! We got the pack frames out of the truck and used those to haul the hindquarters out and they worked really well. We were back in camp at 1:30 pm.

Here’s a picture of us packing him out:

Here he is hanging back at camp. You have to have them 10’ off the ground to keep the bears from getting them.

We hunted hard the rest of the week and although we had a few bulls come in within 100 yards of us, we couldn’t get any to commit the rest of the way and in the area we were hunting, 100 yards might as well be a mile, because you couldn’t see them in the thick brush and trees. We got a couple really good chances at a large bull, but on the 5th day he ended up getting shot by a hunter using an outfitter. We had been on him in the exact same spot the day before and had sprayed a bunch of cow in estrus scent and they came in that morning and used a cow in estrus call and he came right in. :( He was a VERY nice symmetrical 6x6 bull that they estimated at right around 360” (trust me that's big!). It was pretty depressing knowing that we had come so close to closing the deal on such a beautiful animal but had come up short.

There was quite a bit more hunting pressure in the area than they were used to. 2 outfitters are hitting the area really hard and we saw a couple other hunters in there as well. Their secret spot doesn’t seem to be that secret anymore. The elk are concentrated in an area about 3 miles long and a couple miles wide in spots, and there were 5 elk that we know of taken out of there while we were there. This area borders Yellowstone National Park, so I’m not sure if more elk will filter back in next year or if this spot will eventually be hunted out or what. Talking with one of the outfitters, they said that 5 bulls were taken out of that area during the first week last year as well and so far it seems to be sustaining the population pretty well.

Friday rolled around and we decided to come home a day early. They decided to stay another day and on Saturday my friends son was able to close the deal on a nice 6x6 bull. They had hunted hard all day and were driving back to camp around 6:15 pm and 2 cow elk ran across the road in front of them. Calling it a road is giving it much too much credit, this is barely more than 2 dirt tracks through the forest. They got out of the truck, planning on shooting one of the cows, and all the sudden a nice 6x6 bull comes out after them! From the story I heard, it sounded like there was quite a bit of lead in the air but the end result was a nice bull on the ground.

Here’s a picture of his elk:

The scenery was beautiful and I got PLENTY of exercise. All the exercising paid off and I really didn’t have any problems at all. It was pretty wet for a few days and I ended up wearing my backup boots more than my regular boots because they got so wet but I didn’t get any blisters and my rain pants worked very well.

There were some really nice open meadows, but the elk didn’t seem to be anywhere near them this time of year. They made for some beautiful views though.

There were quite a few grouse. They said that the wolves have made such a dent in the coyote population that a lot of the small game animals are really making a comeback. Of course the wolves are doing their best to keep the elk population in check though. We did hear wolves howling a few days and there was no doubt that the elk have learned to shut up when the wolves are in the area.

Here’s a picture of a grouse that I thought was neat:

Thanks for reading my long winded story, but I wanted to get it all down on paper while it was still fresh in my mind. I kept a journal with a paragraph or so written down each day, but mostly just the facts of what the weather was like and what we saw and heard that day. I think that is about it for now.

If you are interested in seeing a few more pictures that I didn’t include here you can see some more in my photo gallery here - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/album07?page=1


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leaving for Wyoming.

Well, I'll be leaving for Wyoming in about 5 or 6 hours. Actual driving time only shows to be 16 hours so if things go well that should take about 18 hours with Eli. This will be Eli's 4th road trip of over 2,000 miles in a car and so far he has done really well. We bought a little DVD player that goes on the back of the seat and he gets to watch Barney, Thomas the Train and Bob the Builder videos when he is awake. The benefit to driving through the night though is that he will be asleep for about 2/3rds of the trip. We listen to audio books and rotate drivers and it really isn't too bad.

We are going to hook up with Mike in Powell and then head out when he gets off work. I may even be able to get a nap in before we head out. We'll have to set up the trailer in the dark, but he said that it wouldn't be that bad. Saturday morning we should be off before dawn hoping to find some elk. I am pretty excited.

I've hunted a lot growing up, but it was generally unorganized and sometimes we had what we needed, but a lot of times we just made due with what we had. Now that I have to drive 1,000+ miles to go on an elk hunt I'm trying to be a little more organized.

I'm planning on using a fanny pack and a daypack with the shoulder straps that latch together and a waist strap. The daypack has a removable internal frame and will hopefully double as a meat pack on the first trip out and then Mike has some pack frames to haul the hindquarters out with.

Of course I will have my 7mm Rem Mag and will be shooting 160gr Accubond bullets. They are a premium bonded bullet and are designed to stay together even if they hit bone and continue to penetrate through the animal. Elk are well known for being very hard to kill and an often used phrase heard by hunters after putting a good shot on an Elk only to see it still standing is "Shoot it again"! I'll have 3 rounds in the clip and 4 rounds in the shoulder sling. I'll have my Nikon Monarch 10x42 Binoculars with a crooked horn strap system and I will have a bear spray canister holstered (this area is serious grizzly territory).

I like to use a fanny pack and day pack and put things in the fanny pack that I need to get to without having to take my pack off my back. In my fanny pack I'll have my Gerber knife and sharpener, range finder, gps, hoochie mama cow call, head lamp and a few snacks and I bought a new Canon Powershot 1100 IS camera to take on the trip. Packing the Nikon D70S DSLR is not an option due to the fact that it weighs about as much as my rifle! I'll carry my cell phone on flight mode in my fanny pack as well just to use for a watch if nothing else. I'll be about 20 miles away from cell phone coverage.

In my back pack I'll have my shooting sticks strapped to the side, my first aid kit with ibuprofen, antihistamne and decongestents, bandaids, antiseptic and some guaze and tape. I'll have some, duct tape, 50' of nylon rope, my leatherman, an extra folding knife, a gerber gator I collapsable saw with a wood blade and a bone blade, some zip ties, an extra pair of wool socks, a couple bungee cords, 2 AA batteries, an extra headlamp, small LED flashlight, a compass, an emergency blanket (the little silver ones), TP in a ziploc bag, matches and a lighter in a ziploc bag, and some baby wipes in a ziploc bag. I'll also have 2 heavy duty trash bags and a couple meat sacks. I'll have my 2 liter hydration bladder full of water and will carry my lunch in the backpack along with some emergency snacks (snickers bar & some granola).

I can't decide if I want to mess with a FRS 2 way radio on the trail or not and whether I need an extra sharpener in the pack as a backup.

Back at camp I'll have a rubbermaid tub with extra ammo, butcher knife set, a bunch of AA batteries, Walker Game earphones, decent spotting scope, tripod, and video camera.

For clothing I've got 7 pair of merino wool socks, a pair of GoreTex hunting boots that I've got broken in well and one big camo jacket, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 pair of twill camo pants, 4 long sleeve shirts, 2 long sleeve underarmor shirts, 5 T-shirts, camo rain gear (jacket and pants), flourescent orange vest, 2 baseball caps (one is orange) and 1 flourescent orange stocking cap and 2 pair of light gloves. The season opens on September 20th and I just can't see myself packing long johns and heavy winter stuff. I also have an extra pair of hiking boots but I only bought them a week ago and don't have them completely broken in so they are for emergency use only if I fall in a creek or something and my regular boots are completely wet.

I didn't list out the food, but with the travel trailer as base camp we plan on eating pretty well. I'm definetly not going to be staying on my low carb diet as I will be burning off plenty of calories hiking and hopefully packing out an elk!

Mike is bringing some scent killer spray and bunch of other stuff. This will be his 6th year in a row to hunt this particular spot and he knows it pretty well and has shot 4 elk out of this spot in the last 5 years. He will have the bugle and a cow call and will be packed pretty well from past experience with hiking with him but this will be the first time hunting with him.

That's about it. I posted my packing list on a hunting bulletin board and was reminded of a few useful items that I didn't have on there originally. Hopefully in a little over a week I will be back posting a picture of me posing wth an elk on the ground but at a minium I will be posting some pictures of some beautiful scenery and telling a story of a great hunting trip whether we are successful or not.

HOPEFULLY the stock market will come back a little bit while I'm away but the best thing is that I won't be worrying about it one way or the other!

Monday, September 15, 2008

One more post - trail camera pictures

Well, I said that I didn't think that I would be able to make another post before leaving for Wyoming, but I think I'm going to make one more post right now since it is already almost lunchtime and I don't want to start on the work project that I really need to get done today and then have to stop for lunch. Sounds like a good excuse anyway.

I did get a few good pictures from last weekend down at the land. With the tractor not working I didn't spend any extra time down there, just checked the cameras and filled the protein feeder and came home. The bad news was that the camera that I have setup looking at the protein feeder was dead when I got there. I thought the battery must have died but when I turned it on it showed to be at 99% with no pictures taken at all. I must have forgot to turn it on!! :-(

I did get some pictures of a new buck at the spin feeder though. Also it seems that either I am making a dent in the pig population or they are starting to spend more time someplace else. I only got a few pictures of pigs this time instead of getting pictures of them a few times each day like I have been.

Here's the new buck. I think he is 3 years old and it would be pretty hard to pass on him if I saw him during the daylight during hunting season.

The glowing eyes are a known issue with this particular camera model. It is a little wierd, but other than that issue the camera takes pretty good pictures. This is the same buck, he is a nice 10 point but hopefully I will be able to pass on him and if he makes it through the season he will be a great buck next year.

I did get some new pigs on camera this time. Not sure if the others moved out so these moved in or exactly what is going on. These almost look like domestic pigs with their spots.

Lastly the bucks are starting to shed the velvet off their antlers. That means that breeding season is just a month or two around the corner and the bucks will quit hanging out together. So far just the younger bucks have started losing their velvet but the older bucks are probably just a few weeks away.

Okay, that's it for now.


Anticipation and Flooding. 2 seperate thoughts! :-)

Well, I'm getting pretty pumped about heading to Wyoming at the end of the week to go elk hunting.

I got in a 6 mile jog on Saturday evening down in the canyon below our house. It wasn't fast but I feel like I'm actually in decent shape for the miles of hiking I will be doing over the next week or so and hopefully packing an elk out of the wilderness. I've lost nearly 15lbs since the first week of August so that will help a little on the weight I'll be packing around as well.

On Thursday night and Friday morning we got 5" of rain at our house (our normal annual rainfall is less than 20" so that is a lot) and in Lubbock they got over 8". Lubbock spent several million dollars on a new drainage system a few years ago and it actually worked. The end result of the drainage is that the water ends up flowing down the canyon behind our house. When we went down in the canyon to jog on Saturday evening the water was still flowing over the road!

This isn't a spot with a small culvert under the road where water is expected to flow over the road. There are actually 3 very large culverts running under the road here and the water was flowing through them but it was still backing up and going over the road.

On Friday the water was flowing even harder and it looks like it washed out a little bit of the road here. There were some fences along the sides of the road that had debris all the way to the top of the fence where water had been flowing 5' deep across the entire valley floor. Pretty amazing how much water 5" - 8" of rainfall ends up becoming. Some of the lakes downstream ended up going up 5'+ in less than 24 hours.

I got some good pictures from the house of the canyon but of course they are on the camera at the house and I'll probably never get them uploaded. Those pictures were from the camera on my cell phone.

I practiced shooting my rifle a couple times this week and felt okay about it. It is funny how when I was growing up we would sight in our rifles on the day of the hunt and then it was pretty much if you could hit a box out in the field from 100 yards away you were sighted in. After reading on the internet about other folks sighting in their rifles now I'm somewhat disappointed when I put 3 shots in a circle smaller than a baseball from 100 yards. I know other folks use bench rests and things like that though and I'm just shooting from a makeshift bench with my backpack as a rest to simulate what it would be like in a hunting situation. I went back to 200 yards and used my shooting sticks without a rest and put 3 shots in a about a 6" group which didn't seem that great to me, but the target area on an elk is more than double that so I think it is good enough. The shooting sticks didn't seem that steady and the wind was blowing pretty hard, I think that had something to do with it.

I've been going through my list of stuff to pack and am pretty sure I'm prepared for most things. I'm still a bit nervous about being in an area with such a heavy grizzly bear and wolf population. It should be beautiful though and a great time of year to be there. It will be getting below freezing each morning and then warming up to the mid 60's maybe even 70's by the afternoon. I think I'm going to buy a small digital camera to bring with me. Cathy has been mentioning that she would like something smaller than the Nikon D70S for a while now and it would be nice to have a little compact camera in my pack to take candid shots of things that I'll see out hunting next week.

I still haven't got the tractor figured out but with the rain and then the trip it will be a while until I can use it anyway. I think that's about it for now, I probably won't post again until I'm back from the trip. I won't have cell phone access where I'll be let alone internet access!