Author Archive for Adam

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Friday, August 5th, 2011

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Recap on the 2010 season

Friday, December 31st, 2010

My annual calendar revolves around the activities of hunting, guiding and fishing.  2010 was no different, but I had a rougher year than usual. Unfortunately, I did not draw any of the limited tags I was hoping for.  In addition, my hunting partner and best friend Trevon was unable to join me for my Nov and Dec hunts due to his should injury.  Without Trevon’s camaraderie, the hunts are just not the same. I can’t wait for next year and for Trev to get the wing flapping again.  My work on the ranch was, by far, the most hectic and stressful year of my tenure up there.  Life was busy on my Swanson Lake Ranch hunting club as well, we competed the building of our lodge on the property this fall, so my time in Nebraska was focused toward the construction.  I hope that you enjoy seeing a glimpse of my year in the outback.

January and February found me surviving on the ranch with a few lion hunts tossed in here and there when I could break away from pushing snow around.  Here is a pic of a Tom we treed and harvested in Jan 2010.

March and April are two of my favorite months of the year. In 2010 they were spent fly fishing for permit in Belize, archery turkey hunting at Swanson Lake Ranch, and pre-runoff fly fishing for trout in the Rockies.  I also was still fighting the snow and cold at the ranch, and got my snow cat buried in an avalanche that I triggered while attempting to open up a ranch road.

May to August was an incredibly busy time for me. The ranch was going through several of changes, we were building a lodge at Swanson Lake Ranch, and I was still completing  all of my food plots and habitat work.  This didn’t leave me much time for play, but I did manage to get out for a few evenings of fly fishing.

September always seems to go by too quickly. Observing the elk rut and bow hunting for bugling bulls is hands down my favorite thing to do.  This year, during the first set up of the season on opening morning, I successfully called this nice 6×6 bull in for an older hunter.

The second week of archery elk season, I managed to work this nice bull in after an hour of calling. The bull approached to within 3 feet of my hunter, and he put an arrow in him when he was finialy turned broadside at 3 yards.  What an exciting hunt!

I had a couple days to myself before Trevon made it in to hunt, so I slipped out for one evening and one morning. In the short window of time that I had this year, I lucked out and harvested this nice 6 point bull.

Trevon came in a day later and we had a great hunt, calling in several bulls the first couple of day. The evening that Trevon harvested was magical.  We were surrounded by bugling bulls; there must have been seven or eight bulls in the park. Trevon managed to pick out this nice 6×6 bull and made a great shot and a clean kill to wrap up the 2010 archery elk season.

The four Colorado rifle seasons span from mid-October to late November. I was guiding every day of the open seasons. Here are some of the animals that I personally guided hunters to this year.

When I get breaks in Oct and Nov I always manage to get out and do a little bit of hunting and fishing of my own too. Without Trevon to join me on these breaks, I self videoed my white-tail hunt at Swanson Lake Ranch. I passed on numerous bucks from 120 to 140 class as I knew from my trail cams that there were a few monsters on my property.

December found me hunting ducks, pheasants and white-tails on Swanson Lake Ranch, as well as eastern Colorado Mule deer. As many of you know, I have trained bird dogs for almost 20 years and have as strong a passion for decoying waterfowl and hunting upland birds as I do for fly fishing and bow hunting. This year I was able to spend a few days chasing pheasants with my old buddy Trigger and my new German shorthair, Briz.  I spent time on my mule deer hunt catching up with my late wife’s family and helping out on their family farm and ranch. I did go looking for bucks in the mornings and chased some pheasants mid day, but I also really enjoyed having the time to catch up with my in-laws.

Here’s looking forward to 2011, lets hope the draw is kinder to me and I won’t have as large a work load, and my bud Trevon gets healed up. Thank you all for tuning in to Outback Outdoors and Happy New Year.

Turkey season has begun!

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Trevon and I had a great start to the 2010 turkey season last week. We headed out to my Swanson Lake Ranch in southwest Nebraska to catch the last weekend of the archery only turkey season. The turkeys were hot! It is always hard to draw the Tom’s off the big flocks in the morning and evenings but the midday hunts in the loafing areas were great!

I arrived early and did some scouting and blind prep and the birds were in all of their usual locations as well as utilizing some of the new habitat improvements and food plots we implemented in 2009. It is always very satisfying to see the wildlife use and benefit from my work. Its like the field of dreams, build it and they will come.

Trevon had a few close calls, it seemed something just went wrong every time a big Tom came in, a tree would be blocking the view for the camera, a branch would be blocking his shot, something would get bumped in the blind and the birds would retreat. But, I did manage to harvest a very nice mature Tom, things just came together. Bowhunting is never easy, but that is why it is so much fun too.

Close Call on the Mountain

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I just about met my maker the other day up here on the Mountain. I was in the process of opening up the main road to the summit on the ranch with the snow cat when I triggered an avalanche.  The highest summit on the ranch is just about 10,000 feet in elevation and it is amazing how much more snow there is at 10,000 feet vs 8,000 feet where my house sits.

Seeing the snow break open directly above me and then rush down on me like a water fall is an image I will have for the rest of my days. The impact of the wall of snow rocked me into the side of the cab on the snow cat and pushed the cat from level to about 10 to 15 degree angle. Thankfully it didn’t push me over the edge or roll me over.

Life is tough up here on the mountain, I am careful and cautious but sometimes unexpected events happen that can literally kill a guy.

March Fly fishing

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Spring is in the air, not right at this moment as I am typing as I am in a blizzard right now on the mountain. But in the low country the grass is starting to green as the snow melts away. For me the spring rights of passage involves a fly fishing trip to my little piece of property on the Blue River with my good friends Jon, Marty and Randy.

This March trip has become tradition with us guys. It is so great to see the Elktrout clan again.  I learned so much about what I do from these guys in particular. Marty, Jon and Randy are some of the best outdoors men and ranch hands I know.  It is an honer to be able to call these guys friends.

Me and my bird dogs? or Fish dogs?





Back from stalking Permit on the salt water flats of Belize

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Bow hunting and fly fishing the salt water flats for Permit have many similarities.  Finding, understanding, and fooling the quarry; then stalking, taking the shot, and enjoying the experiences and the comradeship that such adventures create. For me it was also a much needed break from the snow, cold and rough living conditions on the ranch and the chance to catch what I consider to be the “Holy Grail of Fly Fishing.”

Finding the Permit was as much a challenge as fooling them with the perfect cast, fly and presentation. Fortunately, the keen eyes and expansive knowledge of the Garbutt brothers (our guides) put me into Permit each day. Seeing a tailing permit sends a rush of adrenaline through my system; my legs start shaking, my eye sight narrows, and my heart rate increases. Just over a fish, it is the same rush I get when I get a bull elk to respond to my call, or as my stalk closes in on a bedded mulie buck. Its the rush we all strive for in the outdoors no matter what your game is.

Once tails or busy water is observed the stalk is on; get the sun to our backs no sudden movements, stay low, watch for the tails. When the tails are up, that means the fishes eyes are down, time to take the shot. And that is exactly what it is. One shot, one cast and it had better be perfect. No time for false casting, you get maybe one and you need to get the rod to load up with that one cast, then the with 15 foot leader and heavy fly your timing must be absolutely perfect. Performing these fine motor functions under the influence of adrenaline is no easy feat.  As the Permit are feeding in the shallow flats, their field of view is very small, the fly must land in this field of view often times less than a 10 inch square. This 10 inch square is often more than 60 feet away, that is a long cast for me with a fly rod and to hit this magic spot is as much luck as skill for me.

As hard as it is to get the perfect shot on a Permit, the fly and presentation needs to be perfect as well.  The Permit are very wary as they leave their deep water haunts and move into the shallow flats to feed. Then too, they are very intelligent as far as fish go. I like to say that I think I should be able to outsmart any fish that swims, right? My melon sized brain matched up to the fishes little pea sized brain, I should win every time. Well, I have come to understand that a fishes little pea sized brain is 100% devoted to survival while my big old melon has maybe a pea sized portion in it devoted to catching fish. When it the case of Permit, it is clear to me that their brain functions at a higher level than that little pea area in my big old melon.  But that is why when you do make the perfect cast, the fly lands close enough for the Permit to see but not so close that is spooks, you have a nice little crab imitaiton on the end of your line, the presention is teasing and keeping the permits attention, he follow the fly, but as I am striping in the line the action is getting closer and closer to the boat, will the Permit see me, spook or just figue out that the crab she is chasing is a fake? Yes, useully they turn away and take off for the deep again. But, it is possible that I can fool one from time to time.

The “Eat” when it happens, if it happens is a time when just like bow hunting, it is the moment of truth. Can I keep my composure? Will I stay in control and set the hook quickly and firmly? If I can do this can I get the loose line out and on the reel without breaking the Permit off?  This is where mental toughness comes in a big way. You need mental toughness to sneak across flat after flat hoping for a sign of a permit. Many Permit fishermen may pursue this elusive fish for years and never get a decent shot at one. Mentally get the cast or shot in at the right time, quickly and accurately. Not many second chances on Permit. One of the guys that I was fishing with had logged almost 30 days of exclusivly pursing Permit with a fly and had never had an “eat” in all this time.  Yes, the “Eat”, as I like to call it. This is where everything can go right or wrong. One permit we had eat but the fly went into the fishes crushers, where they kill the crabs they catch, and the crushers bent the hook to where the hook couldn’t set in the mouth. Always something that can go wrong, I had 6 eats in 3 days. By the way that is incredible for Permit fishing.

The hook set. When you see the mouth open on your fly, and feel the line tighten a little bit on the eat. So much depends on how I can set the hook. A quick and firm strip set is what works, don’t lift the rod like its a little trout. Strip set that fly right into that fat old lip. Then the fight is on. The first run that Permit have is incredible. They are running for the deep water and the fly line simply disappears off the reel, then into the ocean. I just keep hoping that the Permit will slow down before I run out of backing.  Strong and fast are not the only tricks a Permit will pull when the fight has begun. Remember, these fish are uncanny in their intelligence too. A coral head, an old Mangrove root, or other obstacle will almost always draw a fighting Permits attention.  They not only fight hard, they fight flat out dirty too. Rubbing the fly along the bottom trying to pull it out, swimming strait for a coral head and then taking a 90 degree turn on it to wrap the leader and fly line up or shooting underneath an old Mangrove root are just a few of the tricks Permit pulled on me this trip.  Just hooking a permit doesn’t mean you can catch one.

For me I was lucky, I managed to land two permit in 3 days.  A large part of it was luck, but also skill, mental toughness and composure. Not giving up after looking at empty flat after empty flat, staying alert for a little flash, some busy water, a tail breaking the surface in the distance, skill in casting and fighting fish. But even as proud as am to have landed a couple Permit on a fly, the real value to me is always the experience, being in the tropics, spending time with old friends and making new ones, and getting the heck off the ranch and away from all the snow for 3 days.

Headed to the fly fishing Flats of Belize

Thursday, February 18th, 2010
Indo Pacific Permit, north coast Austraila

The holy grail of fly fishing a "Permit"

As many of you know, fly fishing is as big a passion for me as bow hunting. I like to try and get to to the flats to try my hand at permit, bonefish,  tarpon and other salt water species at least once a year. Getting of the mountain at this time of year is much needed and wading around in the ocean stalking and casting at all the flats game fish. A great time and a great activity to participate in when the snow is continuing to pile up and the cold is unrelenting on the mountain.

Trip to Swanson Lake Ranch

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Went out to check on all of the wetland habitat improvements that we did out at Swanson Lake Ranch this past year. All I can is wow!! There are thousands of ducks and geese on the ranch right now. As much as I love to bow hunt the white tail deer and turkey on the ranch the waterfowl is truly special. Here is a picture of me and my trusty old dog Trigger after a duck hunt earlier this year.

Elk Hunting – Rembembering the 2009 archery elk season

Friday, February 5th, 2010

My reward for the year in wildlife management is the archery elk season.  I love all aspects of hunting, but there are few activities that are as challenging and exciting as pursuing elk with a bow and arrow.  I average about 30 days a year hunting or guiding archery elk hunts. I feel that from the amount of time I spend calling and hunting elk and the areas I am able to guide and hunt in has given me not only some incredible memories and experiences but also a great education in how to hunt elk.  It is this education and some fun stories I want to share with you here from time to time.

I feel that when archery hunting elk, first and foremost, is you need to simply be able to enjoy the experience. For me just having a close encounter with a rut crazed bull is as rewarding as harvesting that big herd bull.  My first bit of advice is to just enjoy the moment, enjoy the hunt and the people you are with. If you base your success on just the harvest, I feel you miss out on so much of what archery hunting for elk is all about.

The bull pictured below is a great example of a close call.  When calling to elk, or any game for that matter, I try to create an illusion of a scenario where that bull would naturally come to.  Calling is more than just making elk noises, it is knowing how to “communicate” with a particular animal. This bull was a classic example of this.  There were four or five bulls bugling in the canyon below where my hunter and I were listening from.  I guessed there were 40 to 50 elk in the herd, the wind was not perfect but workable, my hunter was capable of getting into position so we made a play. Now here was the challenge, how do I make my set up more attractive and enticing than 40 to 50 real elk, all talking their fool heads off? A cross wind that is far from perfect and a fairly new archery elk hunter that is still needing some coaching on how to set up, when to move, when to sit, etc.  1st thing we did, before ever making a call was to find a spot close to the elk, but were I could call out of sight of the elk but in sight of my hunter. We found a great “break” in the hill that would accomplish this beautifully, as long as the wind holds… well it was looking like a good set up.

Now for the calling, how do I get a bull to leave 40 to 50 cows? First I gave a lost cow call, then a minute or so later one more. Even though I didn’t get a response to either call, I knew that the bulls could definitely hear me.  Then I gave one more lost cow call with a squeelly little bugle right after… that did it, now I had one talking back! Ok, so now how do I keep the attention of this bull and get him to come upwind of my hunter? Can I get the bull committed or will I loose him to the mass of elk below? I hit the bull right back with an excited cow call, trying to say “hey big boy, get this little guy away from me…” but right as he bugles back to the cow call, I cut him off with another little squeelly bugle. Oh, that is just flat out rude was the bulls reply to me cutting him off!! But I can see now that I am getting under his skin, I have his full attention, and he is coming closer… perfect!  Now I would have liked to have set up closer to the herd, but with an inexperienced hunter, questionable wind, and a great spot to set up a little over 150 yards away from the herd….. well I made the most of the set up. The bull being an elk like he was started to circle down wind of my hunter and I, so I changed my location to keep the bull coming on a line that would bring him upwind and close to my hunter. All the time continuing my conversation and illusion of a small bull running off with a hot cow. Well, now I hear the bull has “hung up” I was anticipating this as we had to set up further away than what I find is typically successful distance to be. The bull would continue to respond to both the cow calls and the bugle, but was not wanting to leave the 40 to 50 cows in the canyon below. From experience, I could guess that this was as much as the calling would do, so I shut up. By going silent on the bull, I was giving my hunter and I the opportunity to move in closer of need be, or see if the bull’s curiosity would get the better of him. When the bull kept bugling at me after I quit calling I felt his curiosity might get the best of him, then after a few more bugles at me without a response, the next bugle was closer, a lot closer. Then I could see his tan hide moving thru the brush but he was going to be down wind of my hunter before a shot could be had, so quickly I made a soft cow call, it worked, he turned back on the “line” I had planned out for him. But now, I was so close he could tell right where the call came from. Good thing I picked a good set up spot as I had the break of the hill to my advantage, the bull now was 25 to 30 yards from my hunter and about 50 yards from me so I he could see where there should be a cow elk standing. Here is where a Montana decoy is a killer!! I had the decoy popped up but laying on the ground next to me, I slowly held the decoy up, saw I had the bulls attention and slowly dropped it back out of sight. That did it! Here he comes! When the bull was 10 yards from my hunter I stopped him with a loud and quick cow call in the best shooting lane my hunter had. Everything was perfect, the elk 10 yards away from the hunter, his full attention on my location, but he quartered his shoulder towards the hunter. So close but no shot at all. He stood here for a what seemed like a life time and finially detected that something was just not quite right and turned and walked away without ever offering an ethical shot.  I was able to snap a quick picture of him here right before he walked into the shooting lane.

For me, working the bull, getting him close to my hunter, and having that experience is what I live for.  I hope by me sharing my story, I am keeping the fire in you for next September and maybe you learned a little too.

Life on the Mountain: More snow and lions

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Just a quick update from the Mountain.  Last few days I have been fighting a flu bug but getting better now.  More snow here the last couple days, about another foot to foot and a half.  This last snow was very wet and heavy, I worry it will form a hard crust and hurt the elk and deer wintering nearby.  But once we hit about Feb 15, the snow starts to melt off the south facing slopes and winter is about half over.  I feel the elk and deer will fair ok here this year.  The snow level is about average this year and the brutal cold is about over.  It is nice to feel the days getting longer, I am sure the elk and deer are liking it too.

More lions, had one walk through my horses last night, we turned the dogs out on it this morning and put a female up a tree.  The guys with the dogs, Andy Julius Outfitters, have a hunter in that is wanting a Tom. I hope the experience for her getting chased will be enough to keep her away from the horses.  We found a good Tom track this afternoon, but all the new snow that has fallen and blown in the track was making it very difficult for the dogs to trail.

Large snow fall and being sick are never a good combination, had the truck stuck today for about 3 hours. It was all I could do to dig the tires out for chains and walking to get another truck to help tug.  I sure could use some help up here from time to time.  Its all good, part of living my dream up here in the Rockies.