Archive for March, 2012

The “Bestest” Turkey Hunt Ever

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Turkey season is always something we look forward to at Outback Outdoors, especially since it comes right at that time of the year when cabin fever seems to be reaching its frenzied peak. I am usually tired of shooting indoors at fake critters and ready to get outside and try and whack a live one.

This year, like in years past, I was excited to spend some time in the field calling into bow range what we like to call “feathered elk,” but this season it was going to be different because for the first time my wife Sandy and 6 year old daughter Avery were going to be joining me in the turkey blind at Swanson Lake Ranch (near Stratton, NE) for the opening day of the 2012 Nebraska turkey season.

Honestly I wasn’t sure how this hunt was going to play out, as I made the decision to NOT bring a cameraman along, but instead make this hunt a family affair. Wanting to still capture the adventure on film, I nominated my wife to be our official camera gal and gave her a quick overview on how to run the camera. Before we left I forced myself to make this hunt about the family and the outdoor experience and have the footage be secondary.

We loaded up and headed out late Friday and arrived at the SLR cabin ready for bed. The next morning I was up with the sunrise and after a quick scouting peek at a couple of spots to make sure the birds were still there, I made a hearty breakfast and we all got ready for a day of work in order to be ready for the bowhunt the next morning. Throughout the day Avery and I worked side by side gathering the decoys, delivering chairs for the blinds, and setting up another pop up blind in a great afternoon spot for the next afternoon. I went over and over the list of things that I wanted to have with us to “enhance the experience;” items like

  • Fully Charged DVD player with headphones
  • 4-5 DVD’s (Little House on the Prairie, Veggie Tales, and Annie to name a few)
  • Heater body suit I had borrowed from my good friend Shawn Greathouse… I did NOT want Avery getting cold and uncomfortable on this first bowhunting adventure with Daddy!
  • snack
  • Hansens Soda
  • Rambler – Avery’s favorite stuffed dog

After getting everything organized, including the special items for Avery, we headed to bed with the alarm set for O Dark Thirty.

It was quite an adventure sneaking into the bale blind with the family in the dark. This blind was set up on some farm ground about 150 yards from a row of big cottonwoods that was a primary roosting area. We were settled in and set up in plenty of time to hear the first turkeys start to wake up. It was awesome to watch Avery’s face as the birds started getting vocal. With 4 or 5 gobblers going nuts right in front of us, I had a good feeling about the morning. I had set up a jake and 4 hen decoys right by the blind and assumed we would be in a great position once the birds pitched out.

Right on time the birds flew down into the field. Soon we had two jakes heading our way and they came within 40 yards of the blind. Not being picky I got ready to whack the first jake as Sandy ran the camera. Honestly the shot was not a very difficult one and maybe I was overconfident and already imagining what a great hunter I would be in my daughter’s eyes when I shot this first bird. Regardless of the excuse, I missed. I shot back and just ruffled the feathers and the 2 jakes were gone. “You missed,” my wife said matter-of-factly. I couldn’t believe it. “Oh well” I responded trying to sound like I didn’t care, “That is why they call it hunting and not killing.” Knowing me all too well, she just smiled and we went back to watching the bigger flock that was still down the field edge to our right.

The larger flock headed out of the field never coming closer than a couple hundred yards and try as I might with my calling, I could not get them to head our way. Wondering if that was the end to our morning hunt, I called a few more times over the next half hour and soon I was answered by a gobble back in the trees. A lone tom stepped out into the field about 250 yards away and went into full strut. We were back in business!

45 minutes passed as I coaxed the lone gobbler in closer finally coming into 40 yards. Again Sandy started running the camera and Avery watched wide eyed as I came to full draw after ranging the Tom at 37 yards. The shot felt good and the bird was hit hard. With the arrow still in him he limped to the edge of the field and out of sight.

Normally I would wait a little while before going after a bird that I did not see go down, but with the family getting a little anxious we got out, and I picked up the trail. Avery and Sandy waited at the blind and I found the bird huddled up under a brush pile with the arrow still lodged in his side. He looked to be quite expired. “What a great opportunity!” I thought to myself to go get Sandy and Avery and film the whole recovery and teach her about properly recovering a shot animal. I headed back to the blind and we once again picked up the birds trail. Sandy hung back and ran camera as Avery and I lead the way and I explained every step including the importance of having an arrow nocked and ready in case I needed to shoot the bird again. We walked up to the turkey tucked under the brush and I asked Avery if she saw anything. After a few seconds of searching she spotted my bright orange fletching and pointed him out. “Do you want grab him?” I asked trying to see how hands-on she wanted to be. “No” she responded firmly and so I set my bow down and went to grab a leg on the Tom and drag him out of the brush pile.

An explosion of wings and broken branches startled me and I stepped back just as the turkey cleared the pile heading the other way. “What a moron!” I said under my breath as I beat myself up over not having checked before to make sure the bird was dead. With camera rolling on this whole debacle, I grabbed my bow and headed after the re-energized wounded tom.

I could not believe what had just happened, here I was trying to teach my daughter safety, good ethics, and the how-to’s of a turkey bowhunt and I had made every mistake in the book! I looked and looked for the bird but soon ran out of blood and lost the trail. I had lost my turkey and even more embarrassing and humiliating had done it in front of my family all captured on camera and in HD for posterity!

Dejected we loaded up our stuff and headed back to the cabin, at least we had a great spot for our afternoon hunt and hopefully a chance for me, my family’s supposed “great white” hunter, to redeem myself. That afternoon we got in the blind at 3:00pm and set up Avery’s DVD player to watch a show. It wasn’t long and 2 nice big jakes came cruising towards us. The birds started to circle our 3 hen decoys and then turned and headed off into the brush behind us. I gave a few soft yelps and a sensuous purr and the birds came right back out heading towards the decoys giving me a great 25 yard shot. This time I was determined to stop the turkey dead in its tracks and end this hunt on a high note.

Sandy got the birds in the camera and I took one last range on the larger one. I drew and settled my 20 yard pin a little high and let the arrow go. The bird immediately hit the ground and started flapping. I dove out of the blind and ran towards the downed bird. There was no way he was getting away this time! By the time I got to him he was dead and I had bagged my Nebraska turkey with my family.

I can’t express how awesome the whole hunt was having my family, especially my daughter, there in the blind with me for the whole thing. For the first time they got to experience the entire hunt in person, rather than watching it re-lived on TV. Avery jumped right in as we set the bird up for some pictures and filmed the recovery interview retelling our adventure for the camera. This was definitely the BESTEST TURKEY HUNT EVER!

Bowhunter Banquet

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Like other members of Outback Outdoors I do a handful of seminars and appearances. This past weekend I was the guest speaker for the Lewistown Bowhunters in Lewistown Montana. It was their 35th year and I was honored to partake in it. During the day I gave a seminar on elk calling and hunting. I covered basic calling and show cased my favorite calls from Bugling Bull Game Calls. I also had a table set up to sell product. During my seminar I covered my favorite time to hunt elk which is during the mid day.

I have had great luck over the last 5 years or so hunting elk during the mid day when they are in a set area and bedded. The wind and thermals are steady and the elk are more relaxed and stationary. If you can get in close to the herd and get within a bull’s comfort zone you have a good chance of calling him in. Those bulls will also get up often during the mid day and water, wallow or walk through their herd checking for estrous cows. This can be a deadly tactic on big herd bulls that you will have a hard time calling at any other time.

There were some great trophies brought in for display including a huge 193 inch ram, a 350 plus elk and several Pope and Young deer and antelope.After swapping hunting stories with a group of men and women and future hunters the kids we all enjoyed a great dinner. I was tasked with entertaining the group for 45 minutes with a speech. I chose to discuss the ever pressing issue of the wolves and the damage they have caused to our state as well as several others. It was a topic I take serious and have posted my opinions several times on different forums. With our state being so large there were many people who did not realize how bad it was.

Everyone had a great time and I look forward to speaking for them again and finishing the spring with a few more shows and seminars. Next up it will be the mountain chicken aka turkey and then the bears of the Canada.

Colorado Bowhunter’s Association (CBA) Banquet

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

The CBA banquet is an event every year that brings together most of the bowhunters in Colorado to admire the awesome trophies that were taken in the prior year, get a jump on researching areas of interest for the upcoming year, and of course spin some “Yarns” of past hunts.

This year I was invited to attend as a guest speaker and when I heard Adam was going to be free for the weekend I quickly roped him into helping me tag team my two seminars. Bowhunting legend M.R. James, founder of Bowhunter Magazine, was the featured speaker and the attendance was incredible. I love giving seminars but it was particularly fun in this environment as I feel as if it Outback Outdoors’ home bowhunting organization.

I started off the day with a seminar called “Shadowing an Elk Herd.” Bringing Adam into the mix we showcased some tips and tricks we use to successfully harvest bull elk, particularly herd bulls, with this technique. Using video is a great way to reinforce a point as you teach good information. Honestly who doesn’t like watching bugling bull elk? We also had a few awesome clips of Rockie Jacobsen (Bugling Bull Game Calls) as he, in detail, explained how he calls and moves to consistently kill bulls.

In the afternoon we switched gears to my “Being Prepared for the Backcountry” seminar. In this seminar I tapped into my experience as an athlete and brought in Andrew Munsell and Shawn Greathouse of Hamskea Archery to discuss equipment prep (particularly bow preparation and third axis). We also discussed being physically and mentally prepared for bowhunting and practical techniques to be ready.

Overall we had a great time, exposed a lot of people to Outback Outdoors, talked about the new TV show, and discussed the Full Draw Film Tour coming to Denver in June, I am already looking forward to next year!

Trev – Outback Outdoors

Western Hunting Guided Or Unguided

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Almost everyone that hunts anywhere across the country at one time or another dreams of coming out West to hunt. It can be a daunting task deciding whether or not you should go with a guide or try a do it yourself adventure. Both have their place and it depends on the individual. Do you want to put in your hard work and team up with some good friends to help share in the trip? Some want to be able to come out and have all the home work done for them by an experienced outfitter who is familiar with the area.

In part one I will cover the unguided route. To do this hunt properly you have to do a lot of preperation prior to the hunt even starting. You must first decide where you want to go and for what species you want to hunt.

 

Each state out West has very different regulations, deadlines and laws that you must be conscious of. Some of the applications resemble that of a 100 page novel. Make sure you study the booklets and call all of the fish and game offices to help fill out these properly. Deadlines vary from the end of January up to the end of May. Applications can also be very complicated as to having to pay a partial fee or the entire tag fee up front. Seek help from friends who have been through this process before or have hunted the same state that you are choosing. You want to make sure everything is filled out properly prior to sending it in. I once lost a years point in Arizona just because my check was not addressed properly.

Now that you have sent off your tags its time to research your hunting area. With the Internet now it is far easier to scout. Google earth, Topo maps and GPS devices make this a breeze. You can not do enough home work and the more you put in now the better your hunt will be when you arrive. Scout now and hunt more later is a good saying. Check with local fish and game offices, biologists as well as game wardens. Call local taxidermists and they usually have some good current information of your area. It is always best if you have a few partners who will go on the hunts with you. This way you can share the work load and compare notes. Give each friend a task or two to handle and the research goes a lot easier.

The West can be very hard for the average hunter especially if he or she is not in top shape. It amazes me how many people spend a bunch of time scouring hunting stats, working on getting their tags in and do not work on their fitness. I believe it is by far the number one factor why people are not successful on their Western adventure. You have no excuse to not hike or walk and do some type of weight training. Put a back pack on and start walking. Altitudes range from 3000 feet to well above 10,000 feet. You can’t adjust for the altitude when living out East but if your body is in shape you can acclimate much quicker. Work on this at least 3 times a week and you will be much happier when carrying out your elk quarter on your back.

 

Having the right gear is a very important aspect of your hunt. Will you be hunting out of your truck everyday or using atv’s or even on horse back. Now is the time to get your equipment dialed in and be familiar with it. Make sure everything is is running order and tuned up. If it is a motorized vehicle make sure you have the proper permits to drive on forest roads. Some areas only allow you to use them for recovery during the mid day hours. A simple registration sticker is all you need. In Montana however you must have a working light, horn and rear view mirror to drive on roads. Spare gas cans and tires are also important. Most areas will be far from a local fuel stop.

 

 

Will you be hunting from a camper everyday or using it as a base camp. Are you sleeping in a tent and cooking over a fire. Another popular way is the bivy style hunting where you carry everything on your back as you go along. All have their place and people will choose a variety of ways to hunt. It does not matter to me just get out there and hunt. The weather can change in a minute’s notice whether you are out West in August or November. Having a proper shelter can make a huge difference.

Hopefully by now the mail man would have brought you good news and a tag is in hand for one of the great Western states for a fall hunt. Do not be intimidated by the process and do yourself a favor by coming out West and try it and I guarantee you will not be disappointed whether you punch your tag or not.

Bugling Bull Game Calls, Official Call of Team Outback Outdoors

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

The Outback Outdoors’ crew has been using the Bugling Bulls Game Calls for quite a few years and we are excited to announce that in 2012 BBGC has become a full partner for Team OO. This comes at a great time as we look towards the start of our 2012 season television airing 2nd and 3rd quarter on NoCo  Channel 5.

We are also pleased to announce that not only will we be using the awesome BBGC products, but we are also going to implement the use of some of their exciting footage….. What a great way to make sure we are bringing the best western bowhunting/hunting action to our audiences!!

Team Outback Outdoors welcomes Rockie Jacobsen and the crew at BBGC’s and look for them in some of our upcoming shows!!

Trev – Team Outback Outdoors