Archive for September, 2011

Outback Outdoors Rolls On – Adam Wells’ 2011 CO Archery Elk

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The 2011 Colorado Archery elk season started off very slow, the rut was late and the bulls didn’t show up in any numbers until the last week of the season.  I had three days to hunt this last week and all I can say is “WOW” the elk were going crazy, the rut was in full swing. The problem was there were so many elk, so many elk calling at each other we had to get in close, very close for the elk to engage my calling.  As amazing as it was to be surrounded by upwards of 100 elk at a time, it was a difficult challenge to get in close to that many eyes, ears and noses. Especially the noses!

The tactic Trevon and I employed on this hunt was what I like to call “herd shadowing“.  This is one of my favorite ways to hunt elk, what I like to do is locate the herd from a distance, wait and observe the elk, the wind conditions and try to anticipate where the elk are headed, and what the winds will do.  Once I have a good idea of both, I maneuver into the herd at an angle that will keep the winds favorable and get me in front or parallel with the movement of the herd.  Just like with fly fishing where you read the currents of the river, I have learned over the years how to read the wind currents of the mountains. Believe me when I say that the locations that elk choose to bed are not by accident, they choose areas that are not only cool, but have swirling winds. This is where I have learned just how close to push the herd and where to sit on them without letting my wind drift into the elks location.  Knowing the wind and the location of the elk are key to being able to successful is this type of hunting strategy.

The particular herd that Trevon and I moved in on was very vocal, both bugling and cow talk.  We could never see the elk herd as the vegetation they we in was very thick, but we could hear where they were and where they were headed. We kept a safe distance from the herd, about half a mile to a quarter mile, just close enough to listen to the herd and keep track of their movements. While waiting for the thermals to stabilize and the prevailing wind to set up, we had some exciting encounters with some very nice satellite bulls. Once the winds were favorable, Trevon and I made a big loop to get even with the elk and get the winds favorable.  We worked in close to the herd, stalking up on a few more satellite bulls and keeping our calling to a minimum, calling just occasionally to get the herd bull to bugle. I knew he wouldn’t commit to coming into the call until we were in his “red zone” as there was too many other bulls in the area for him to want to leave his cows. We followed the herd without seeing them for almost an hour.

Finally the aspen grove we were set up in had a thick understory of Chokecherry, visibility was less than 10 feet in most of the area, and in some areas the Chokecherry would thin out and we could see upwards of 20 yards.  (There is nothing more exciting than hearing an elk bugle less than 20 yards away just waiting for it to step into the clear.)  We again shadowed the movement of this herd for almost 2 hours. The elk finally bedded down in an area where the aspen stand turned into a mature stand of gamble oak. This oak grove was very open and shaded. This is where the bull wanted his cows to bed as he could see other bulls encroaching on his harem. Of course just like normal this was a key strategic location complete with swirling winds.

This is where we first started catching glimpses of the herd bull, a very nice 6×6. We set up close to the herd but still keeping our wind favorable, and started calling. We were literally overrun by elk. Cows, calves and small satellite bulls. We were actually surrounded by elk but the herd bull kept just out of my clear shooting lanes. We were still not quite in his “Red Zone” and we just couldn’t grab his attention with our calls as he was busy herding a hot cow or chasing off a smaller bull. We had to get closer!

Once the elk herd that surrounded us settled down and went back to the bedding area we slowly stalked in closer.  We set up in the area the herd bull was most active in but we couldn’t move closer due to the swirling winds. We were as close to the herd bull and his cows as we dared go.  After 15 mins of sitting and doing some soft, cow calls, we saw the herd bull pushing a cow back into the bedding area. The cow went through a shooting lane and the bull was in hot pursuit. The big bull entered the shooting lane at a run and I tried to stop him with a loud cow call, but he didn’t even break stride.  No shot.

Finally though we were in his “Red Zone” and we engaged him with the call.  He got that cow back into the bedding area and circled back to herd me into the bedding area. This time he came into us at a slow walk, I drew my bow while the bull was behind some oaks, when he entered the shooting lane I settled the 30 yard pin tight behind his shoulder and let her fly.  I knew my shot was on the mark and made some quick and excited cow calls to calm the bull down. He only ran about 20 yards, stopped and offered me a chance to put a second arrow in him. My second arrow hit inches away from my first.  Two double lung hits, I knew the bull was mortally wounded as he crashed down the slope.  Trevon and I waited a few minutes to let the bull expire and heard his last cough and a crash about half way through our wait.  The blood trail was thick and short. The bull a beautiful 6×6 was down and better yet, a short downhill pack out.

My 2011 archery elk season was over, a tough one in the beginning but one with an incredible ending.  I can’t wait until next year to do it again.

Adam Wells – Outback Outdoors

Outback Outdoors Scores Again – Trev’s Wyoming Public Land Bull Elk

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

With archery elk season in full swing and one antelope buck bow kill in the books, I headed to meet good buddy Quentin Smith owner of QRS Outdoor Specialties at their lodge on the Split Rock Ranch north of Rawlins, Wyoming for some archery elk hunting. This tag took me a LONG time to draw and I knew there was going to be some great bowhunting action as I anticipated awesome bugling bull encounters.

As the hunt unfolded we came to realize that the rut seemed to be 2 weeks late. The bulls weren’t really talking and the big bulls hadn’t even started taking over the small band of cows and young bulls yet. Never-the-less we saw multiple bulls everyday as we covered a lot of country and had numerous close calls.

I unfortunately was only going to be able to hunt 4 days as Quentin had to leave to guide other hunters at his Colorado camp. When the last day rolled around, and with no bull on the ground, my buddy Jeff (and ace cameraman) had to leave to head back to Fort Collins, CO for prior commitments. Quentin and I talked Travis Stevenson, the  ranch manager for the Split Rock Ranch, into running camera for us and we headed off for one last valiant effort.

The last morning brought 25-30 mph Wyoming winds and 20 or more other hunters to the area where we had been encountering numerous bulls in our prior days of hunting. The morning came and went with no encounters as everywhere we went there was hunter or an ATV already there. After a quick lunch we headed back out to try and find some new honey holes where we knew some bulls had to be hiding with their harems.

As we drove to a new area Travis suggested we stop and try calling in an area that was “too easily accessible” (using reverse psychology) hoping that it would have been overlooked by other bowhunters because it was SO close to the road. We hiked in over a ridge and Quentin ripped off a bugle. Sure enough a bull hammered back about 200 yards in a small draw below. The hunt was on!

Travis and I sprung into action as Quentin continued to call and keep the bull talking. We moved forward and met up with the bull (by this time getting quite aggravated at Quentin’s infringement on his territory) and his cows. We found ourselves in a thick stand of small pines and had a cow come into 4 yards and the bull bugling at Quentin at 7 yards, but it was so thick I had no shot. The bull bugled again making the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention. I finally found a shooting lane where I thought the bull might walk through and drew my bow. Somehow the bull caught the movement and spun and blew out. Travis and I did are best to cow call and calm the herd as we knew they had not winded us.

Frustrated and disappointed we met back up with Quentin and worked further down the draw. Excited at the encounter but dejected at the lack of a shot opportunity we decided to try calling again and the bull answered immediately having just crossed the bottom of the draw. Travis and I back tracked and set up in the draw’s bottom which was filled with tall lodge pole pines and dead falls. In this setup at least, if the bull came back in, I would have some shooting lanes.

Quentin aggressively called and 15 seconds later Travis looked up and said, “He’s coming!” I got ready and Quentin’s calling brought the bull across the draw at a run. He came to withing 20 yards and I stopped him broadside in a gap between two trees with a quick cow call. I let the top pin of my Spot Hogg – Tommy Hogg sight settle just behind his elbow and released the arrow. The bull blew out and I quickly cow called after him as he crashed through the scattered down timber. He went a mere 40 yards and crashed hard! He was down and we had gotten it done in the 4th quarter, on the last afternoon of our hunt. I was overjoyed and to top it all off our “rookie” cameraman, Travis, had captured the exciting event all on video as if he was a seasoned pro!

I can’t thank Quentin Smith of QRS Outdoor Specialties and Travis Stevenson of the Split Rock Ranch enough for all their help on this adrenaline packed archery elk hunt!

NEXT… Colorado Archery Elk, hopefully I can do it again in Colorado! Look for this exciting hunt on Outback Outdoors soon and check back often for more updates and webisodes of what is starting to look like a banner hunting season at Outback Outdoors!

Trev – team Outback Outdoors

Join us on Facebook – Outback Outdoors – TV Show

 

SNEAK PREVIEW – California Archery Black Bear – Dave Beronio

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I thought I’d wet your whistle with a preview of one of the most exciting webisodes we have ever had on Outback Outdoors. You wont want to miss this show as Dave Beronio and cameraman Chris Callinan spot and stalk big bruins in the high country of the Sierras in California. After months of trail cams and scouting Dave and Chris get up close and personal in this heart pounding and physically demanding bowhunt.

 

Alaska Disaster And Becoming A Sheep Hunter

Friday, September 9th, 2011

 

Most hunters dream at some point in their life about chasing one or all of the four species we have in the sheep family. The Grand Slam of sheep is a high light that very few hunters achieve but most aspire to do. For those that are not familiar with the names of all four species in North America they are the Rocky Mountain, Dall, Stone and Desert sheep.

Just the adventure alone to travel to the places these animals call home is amazing. A hunter has to be prepared physically as well as mentally before ever attempting to hunt sheep. I want to share just a few lessons learned in my experience chasing these animals.

I mentioned earlier about the travel to areas where these sheep call home. I was recently in Alaska and in this country the planes get smaller as you travel farther North. The standard jet that you fly in shrinks considerably with every plane change.

 

 

Usually you are flown by a plane similar to this into a pick up area where all of the hunters are dropped off. Here you will wait for your outfitter to shuttle you to your hunting area. This does not seem like much of a problem but remember that once the plane leaves it could be hours before you land in camp. Make sure you have some food and gear at the ready in case of bad weather or delays which are more the norm rather than the exception in Alaska.

 

 

 

A plane such as this is capable of carrying a pilot and two hunters along with your hunting gear. It is capable of landing on rather short run ways and is very popular for mountain flying.

Some of the areas have landing areas that are very small and you will have to fly in an even smaller plane. It is the work horse of the North and is the sole means of flying into these remote areas. I hate these little planes and if you are not very comfortable in planes sheep hunting might not be for you. Be honest with yourself because this type of travel can be very dangerous. Talk with your outfitter and make sure you are prepared.

 

This plane is called a Super Cub and only carries the pilot and one hunter and minimal gear. You are limited to the amount of stuff you can bring along and the average weight limit is about 60 pounds plus yourself. This plane can land and take off in a span of less than 100 yards. It is basically made of wood, some metal and fabric. They only weigh in at about 1200 pounds and are the main stay in wild country. Again did I mention that I HATE to fly in these.

Usually just a short flight of less than an hour and you are in camp. You can stay in lodges or wall tent camps or even back packing style tents. I can’t stress enough to be prepared well before you touch down in this unforgiving country.

This is all the gear I need to handle a sheep hunt. I have enough clothing and survival gear in my pack to withstand the rigors of sheep hunting. The total weight of my load is about 60 pounds plus my rifle. You have to be in the best shape of your life to hike long miles in rough terrain and carry a full pack like this everyday. Notice I have my rain gear handy and on top of my pack ready in case a storm were to roll in. On this particular hunt I was the last one picked up and sat on the runway for close to 4 hours before flying into camp.

Keep a camera handy for the flight into your area and take tons of pictures so you can share your memories with all your friends.

These sheep live on the most unstable ground you will ever walk on. Loose shale slides, rocky slopes and steep mountain passes are where they call home. They live at or near the top of all the peaks. They want to have the high ground so they can see danger. In this country they have wolves, grizzly bears and of course hunters to hide from. They also have the best eye sight in the animal kingdom. 8 power vision enables them to pick off danger at great distances and their escape route is usually to just climb up and over any mountain near them. Proper boots are critical when hunting sheep so do not go cheap. I do not care how expensive your rifle is or how many power your optics are if you can’t get to them it does not make a difference.

                                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  In part two of the blog I will cover some gear and fitness required to partake in a sheep adventure. Until then stay down wind!!

 

Californa Bears Hit the Ground

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I am still suffering from adrenaline overload from this years California spot and stalk bear hunt.
What an exciting hunt with all the highs and lows associated with bow hunting. Our spring and summer scouting provided us hundreds of bear pictures, increasing our excitement and anticipation for the upcomming season but as we all know, things change in the field.

Opening weekend came around and we hit the mountains hard. I spent hours pinned behind the glass of my Nikons searching every nook and cranny only turn up sows and cubs. This was special in its own right as it allowed us opportunity to watch nature at work and kept us on our toes. One situation in particular put us 12 yards from a sow, with her two cubs under 10 yards, her bluff charge raised the hair on the back of our necks and as Fred Bear said, “it is a feeling that will cleanse the soul”.

Heading back to work for a couple days, I gave Chris a couple days off from running camera.  He used this time for scouting, but with bow in hand he found himself 18 yards and at full draw.  Chris took advantage of this gift and filled his tag with a nice California bear.

 

I was still with an unpunched tag when the hard work and dedication finally paid off.  Spotting a great bear with the first rays of light our stalk would be fast and the final seconds even faster. Forty yards of berries and steep High Sierra country kept us from the bear, but only clean mountain air separated my Goldtip arrow from his thick chocolate coat . With camera rolling, my first shot hit the mark. The bear hit the deck, regained his footing and sprinted uphill only to realize there would be no more up. This is when the real fun begins. Without giving away too much, I leave you with this; My first shot was at 40 yards, the second was at 7 yards and I never moved my feet.

 

With Chris Callinan running camera and me behind my Hoyt CRX 32 we have gained memories that will last a lifetime. We hope you enjoy watching this hunt as much as we had bringing it to you.

We will see you where the white rocks and the green trees meet the blue sky.