Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hunting Preparations..

Well, I'm posting my process of getting ready for my hunting trips this fall on an online forum called They are running a special forum with prizes that they are going to give away to the folks posting some of the best stories on the entire process so I figured I might as well try my hand at it. I doubt I'll win anything, but as lucky as I was drawing my tags, maybe I'll get lucky on winning something with the hunt challenge.

Anyway, I figured I would start posting some of the same information here on my blog. Probably pretty boring, but some folks might enjoy it.

Right now I've been working on long distance scouting. I ordered some maps from and have been looking over the maps plus looking at Google Earth trying to figure out where I would be living if I was a mature bull elk.

I've been using image overlays in Google Earth where I take a pdf map and convert it to an image and then overlay it in Google Earth. You can change the transparency of the overlay from 0% to 100% and it zooms in and out with you when you so you can get as close as you want and be able to tell whether you are on national forest, wilderness, private land, etc. Still not a substitute for a good old map though, pretty hard to haul around your notebook computer on the trail with you.

Here's a screen shot from my computer.

I also finally got started on getting in shape with a run to the mailbox and back last night. Doesn't sound like much of a workout, but that's a 2 mile round trip for me. I'm starting on the elliptical tonight.

My current hunting boots are some Rocky's that are nearing the end of their useful life so I've been researching boots and asking questions on I'm not much closer to making a decision than when I posted (maybe even farther from a decision since I was given several new options), but I think when it comes down to it, any of them should be a big step up from any boots I've had in the past.

I also went back down to the land this weekend and pounded in some T-Posts to mark the Quail CRP boundary line. Not sure if more of the native grasses are coming in, or some other invasive grasses are coming in but there is a lot of green. I think most of it is Johnson grass. I did ID some of the partridge peas that I planted coming in and some native sunflowers (that I didn't plant but I think aren't a bad thing).I ended up pounding in 48 fence posts for the markers. I had to put them every 100 feet. Got a little bit of exercise in while I was at it!

The electric golf cart is working out pretty well so far. I have a few squeaks I need to work out, but overall it is getting used more than I thought it would. It worked great for hauling the posts around. You can see my hill top hunting blind in the background. It's about 800 yards away.

I guess I'm in the wait and see, hope and pray process right now. I did see some sand burrs in the mix this time as well, but hopefully the NWSG and Switchgrass will out compete it over the next couple years.

That's it for now. Nathan

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feeling Lucky!

Well, I am behind on posting again and have a few minor projects I should probably post on, but I'll start out with the results from my New Mexico hunting applications.

New Mexico isn't like most of the other Western states that work on a bonus point system where you have very limited chances to draw some of the tags in the best units until you "build points" by applying year after year and after a while you have so many points that you are almost guaranteed a tag. In New Mexico it is a pure lottery and someone applying for the first time ever has the same chances of drawing a tag as someone who has been applying for 20 years. Since I already had my Wyoming elk tag in my pocket, I figured I should at least start the process of applying in New Mexico, and since I already had one elk tag I decided to apply for some of the hardest units to draw a tag. That way if I drew I would be willing to put in the extra effort to work that extra hunt in. I applied for 2 super premium units with my 1st and 2nd choices with less than 2% draw odds, and then just for fun threw in a premium unit that had about 10% draw odds as my 3rd choice.

I figured I would also put in for an antelope tag in New Mexico since the drawing odds were so low (about 5%) that statistically I would need to put in for about 10 years before I got to a 50/50 chance of drawing one of those tags.

I also applied for a deer tag in the same unit that I hunted last year. I figured that way I wouldn't be limited to the private property I was hunting and if I saw a monster buck hanging out on state land I could go after it. The drawing odds were about 70% on that tag but I applied for a few super premium tags that had less than 1% draw odds as my 1st and 2nd choices and the unit I hunted last year as my 3rd choice.

Well, guess what? I ended up drawing all 3 tags the first year I applied! I got my 3rd choice for elk and deer and my 2nd choice for antelope! The red "unsuccessful" is from my oryx application earlier in the year. Here's the screen shot from the online draw results page.

Needless to say I was pretty stunned to draw all 3 tags. The first thing I had to do is get a calendar out and figure out if any of the seasons actually overlapped each other or not. Thankfully everything actually fit on the calendar without overlapping and as of right now I actually think I'll be able to keep them on there.

I've never hunted elk in New Mexico and am not really familiar with the unit that I drew other than the drawing odds and harvest statistics so I'm working on getting more familiar as much as I can. I've put some overlays of public land maps onto Google Earth and have been scouting using my computer as much as possible. I've been searching for any tidbits of information I can find online and will probably make a trip over to scout in person sometime toward the end of the summer.

I'm going to have to make sure I have things taken care of at work this summer to be able to take so much time off this fall, but I think I can make it work. Of course I already had an extra week of vacation planned this summer visiting family in Kentucky so I'm going to find out how well I can organize getting everything completed on time!

Hopefully my luck will hold out and allow me to actually fill the tags this fall!

That's it for now. Nathan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flesh eating beetle update

Well, I've had the flesh eating beetles for a few months now and thought I would post an update on them.

First off, they stink. They got banished to the barn and Cathy pretty much refuses to even go in the barn unless the doors have been open for a while. I think they don't smell that bad, but maybe my sniffer is off.

However, they do seem to be doing a pretty decent job of cleaning skulls. I added a pig skull and my bobcat skull when I first got them and it took them forever to get them clean, but they have grown as a colony now and I added the skull from the pig my friend shot when he was down here a few weeks ago and they made pretty short order of it.

Here's the skull just a day or two after I added it. Not sure what the light brown stuff on there is, maybe Beetle poo.

Here's the skull as of this morning. They have about got it cleaned up. The dark brown that you see on the skull are the beetles doing some final cleaning. It basically took them 2 weeks to clean it.
You can see my bobcat skull in the bottom of that picture and the original pig skull on the bottom right side of the picture. They are pretty much clean now, I just need to soak them in some degreasing solution (dawn dishwashing soap) and then soak them in peroxide to get them gleaming white. I am going to wait until all of them are done and then do them all at once.

I need to start finding something else for them to eat pretty soon.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Kiddie Pool

Well, Eli's existing kiddie pool was getting a little small and he really enjoys being out in the water so we decided to spring for a larger one this summer. We ended up buying a 12' diameter Easy Set pool that is 30" tall. It was pretty cheap (under $100) and included a filter and looked like it would be pretty easy to setup and leave up all summer instead of having to fill and empty it every time we wanted to use it.

Part of the problem with his old kiddie pool was that the dogs seemed to like it even more than he did so it got dirty pretty quick if you left it up, so we wanted to make sure we got one tall enough that the dogs couldn't get in it but short enough so that Eli could enjoy it and that's where we came up with the 30" height. The water level inside the pool is only 24" which is just over waist deep for Eli which seems about perfect. The only issue is that he can't get in and out of the pool by himself, but that may be a good thing.

Anyway, we picked out what we thought was a pretty level spot next to the house and put a tarp down and started filling the pool. Here it is when we first got the top ring inflated and started filling it. It doesn't look that big, but when it is full to the bottom of the top ring it is just over 1,300 gallons so it takes a while to fill up. Eli helped work out the wrinkles in the bottom while it was filling up. Here it is after it was full the first time. If you look in the bottom left corner of the pool, you can see I'm already starting to drain it. I gave up on the garden hose draining method pretty quick though as it would have taken all day, and pulled out a 3,000gph submersible pump I had sitting around and had it drained in less than 30 minutes. Eli got to enjoy it for about an hour before we drained it. You can't really tell it in this picture, but the pool was off level by about 4 inches.
Why mess around with a shovel when you have a tractor? I actually ended up putting 4 scoops of dirt on the low side when it was all said and done. I packed it down driving back and forth over it with the tractor and we smoothed it back out and spent a few minutes picking rocks up and moved the pool back over and started filling it back up again.
Here it is now. We could probably put another couple inches of water in there, but it is level now. We bought a cover for it, but it has already blown off twice so not sure if that is going to work out or not. Eli LOVES it. If he had his preference he would spend the entire day in it. He is going to be taking swimming lessons toward the end of the month and we are going to spend some time with my brother on his houseboat in Kentucky in July so it is probably a pretty good thing for him to get used to being in the water.

Not too bad of a view from the pool. There are definitely some disadvantages to living out in the country, but being able to sit on the back porch looking out over the canyon more than makes up for them!
That's it for now. Kind of crazy to have a blog post on setting up a kiddie pool, but it ended up being a lot bigger project than we thought it would be. I think it will be worth it though.

That's it for now. Nathan