Archive for the ‘Jim’s Blog’ Category

Off Season For The Outback Outdoors Team

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

There really is not an off season for me at Outback Outdoors. Once the winter months are upon us I usually start the show and seminar season. I have to make ends meet throughout the winter and this is a great way of doing it. I enjoy traveling around the West and attending some of the hunting expo’s and talking with people about my hunting career. I am by no means an expert but by being in the field more than the average hunter I get to learn some things. I like to share my blunders and mistakes I made as well as the positive things that I learn. By sharing tips and tactics and equipment that I use to be successful I hope to help others.

It is also a great time of the year because we get to meet with some of our sponsors and also see what is new for the upcoming season. Trying out this new gear and giving my feed back is also an important part of working with our sponsors at Outback Outdoors. I take pride in the team that we have assembled and I feel we are a valuable asset to them.

One thing that most people fail to do throughout the year is practice on their game. Whether it is shooting your bow or gun, using your equipment or practicing your elk calling we tend to slack off over the cold winter months. By traveling to these show I get to practice my elk calling. I feel this is very important and helps me be more comfortable when crunch time arrives. Also by using your equipment during the year you can weed out the stuff that does not work. You can also try new products or shooting styles and make sure when the fall arrives you will be more confident and ready. Eliminating the excuses is what this time of year provides.

The off season is also the best time to get your self in shape. No more saying next year or what if. Make this year the time where you will work harder and go farther to work out, run or just hike. Fitness is the most important aspect in your hunt and the one that you can control. There is no reason to not be in some what good shape during the winter.

So as you can see the “off season” is not really a correct term. There really is no “off” time. Make it happen this year and I promise that you will have the best year possible. The team at Outback Outdoors follows these guide lines and I feel that it is no coincidence that we are punching tags every fall and enjoying back straps for dinner.

 

 

Bear Hunt In British Columbia

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I just returned from a hunt for black bears in British Columbia and the hunt was the absolute definition of what Outback Outdoors stands for. Wild adventures and hunting with new and old friends. I headed up to the Purcell Mountains in Southern British Columbia to hunt with A/Z Outfitters. Brent Dubois is a third generation outfitter in his totally road less area. His grandfather began guiding in this wilderness in 1954. The equipment and stock date back to the 1940’s.

I arrived after a short 3 hour drive from my house. I was going to be hunting with Kristy Titus from Pursue The Wild and my good friend Rockie Jacobsen from Bugling Bull Game Call Company. We all spent the night in the Cabins At Whitetail Lake. They are rented out for day trips, fishing trips, hunting, snow mobiling and hiking adventures.

After a quick breakfast we all met at the corrals to start and sort through all of our gear. We were going to be riding in on horse back some 24 miles the first day into a main cabin. Because of the limited space on the pack horses we were going to have to bring roughly 60 pounds total for each of us in gear. When you start to add up your clothing, sleeping bag, weapon and camera equipment it tends to add up fast. Everything was laid out and weighed and put in pack boxes or canvas bags.

The pack string was going to consist of 6 pack horses and 6 horses that we would ride. We had 3 hunters and 2 guides and a cook.

It would take them several hours to assemble all of our gear and strategically place it on all of the horses and mules. Some of the stock was better at carrying certain items and he trusted a few of his horses with our expensive camera equipment. In the mean time I found my four legged taxi and tied on my bow scabbard. I was going to bring just a bow while Kristy would bring a rifle and Rockie would carry both. I really wanted to take a bear with my Hoyt. Four hours later the string was ready and the entire crew began our 7 hour trip. Along the way the scenery was going to be fantastic and I kept my still camera at the ready. We also traded places running the video camera to document our wilderness trip.

The first few hours were spent in the narrow draw following Dutch Creek but as we climbed in elevation the valley began to open up. The problem we knew that faced us was the high amount of snow still in the high country and the high water crossings. I have rode horses in the past but never had taken a trip of this length. The secret from getting a sore bottom is to walk a lot and ride the horses up hills and across the water. This will help you from getting to sore and will also keep you in pretty good shape.

My still camera was clicking away at the beautiful grandeur that was in front of me. Pristine wilderness with very little human interaction. This is the kind of hunting that I love. Along the way we saw elk, deer and mountain goats. The huge avalanche slides were still covered in snow and the trail was difficult to find at times due to the snow level. These horses have made this trip dozens of times before so they were pretty much on auto pilot.

After a long but awesome ride in we had made it to the main cabin. The accommodations were amazing for being this far in. Two main cabins and several out buildings. We had nice beds and a wood stove in our cabin and the other was the main eating cabin and its where the guides would sleep. After taking off the steel bars used to protect the cabin and welcome mats filled with nails for the grizzly bears we unpacked and got our gear ready for the first hunt. The weather was very nice going in but clouds soon rolled in and the skies opened up as it rained for the next 12 hours. We opted to go out anyway and we rode about 3 miles up the trail and sat and glassed the first avalanche slide we came to. The only thing we spotted were mountain goats and elk. Bears are more of a fair weather critter and do not like being out in the rain too much.

If you plan on hunting in the harsh spring climate of the mountains you better have good rain gear and quality hunting equipment. This is no place to find out that your gear has failed you. I stayed warm and dry and the camera equipment did as well. After a night of no bears spotted we headed back for a warm fire and and a good hardy meal.

 

 

The next day the weather cleared and we decided to head to another cabin about 10 miles further up the drainage. We packed up all our gear and enough food for 3 days and rode the horses further up the trail. We had to negotiate the deep river and it all went off without a hitch. The country opened up more and there were slides to glass and greener grass where we could locate hungry bears. The second camp was much like the first. Warm and roomy and full of all the amenities you could want in a wilderness camp.

My excitement level was high on my third day and the weather was once again cooperating. We had just gotten off of the horses when Fred the guide spotted a black bear on a distant slide. After sizing him up and making sure he was a boar the Hoyt was taken from the scabbord and the long stalk began. I was going to have to go up the far East side of the slide in hopes of intercepting the bear. He was feeding along the tall willow brush and occasionally we would catch a glimpse of him. Once I was half way up the slide I had to rely on hand signals from the crew below. After nearly 45 minutes and a climb that yanked the breath from my lungs we staged by a big spruce tree. I looked down the slope and saw the guide motioning for me to draw my bow. I switched into panic mode and began glassing the hill side. I could not see very far due to the angle of the hill and the tall brush. After several minutes I spotted a set of black ears.

I could not get a range on him but knew he was close to 60 yards. I had to get closer so I dropped down and began working my way closer to the bruin. He must have heard our approach because he was staring right down on us but did not run off. These bears do not see many people so they are a little more tolerant of strange forms walking around. I finally ranged the bear at 53 yards. I did not have a clear shot and wanted to get closer if at all possible. I slowly kept walking toward the bear and found a lane made from a fresh slide which would lead my Gold Tip right to the bear. I ranged him one last time and got a reading of 41 yards. I made sure my camera man, Rockie was on him and drew back. I settled the pin on the near straight up shot and gently squeezed the release. I could see my orange wrap right in the sweet spot as the bear ran off. He went only 50 yards into the dark timber before piling up. I had my first spot and stalk bear and I could not think of a more prettier place to do it than in British Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in a class A hunting operation for either archery or rifle hunts be sure to contact Brent Dubois at A/Z Outfitters. They specialize in black bear, grizzly bear, mule deer, white tail deer, elk, moose and mountain goat. There is no draw for most tags in British Columbia so reward yourself to a trip of a life time.

Rockie and Kristy both took good bears as well but that is for another story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mossy Oak Meeting

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I am headed to my annual meeting for regional pro staff managers in West Point Mississippi at the Mossy Oak head quarters. The 25 managers as well as the main people behind Mossy Oak meet for 4 days and go over a new focus for the year. We also have a number of licensee companies come in and demonstrate as well as educate us on their new products. It is a very enjoyable time down there.

Outback Outdoors is proud to have Mossy Oak as a sponsor because we do not only believe in their camo but more importantly the company itself. Spending time with Toxey Haas and his administration is a true pleasure. These core group of guys are some of the best in the industry. They not only care about hunting but more of late about the preservation of the resource and the heritage of passing along this sport of hunting to the next generation.

My job as a regional pro staff manager is to help promote the brand and the message that Mossy Oak stands for. I have a set number of guys and gals who go to everything from 3d archery shoots to major store openings and help promote our life style. Hunting and the outdoors are passed along to young and old. We are familiar with the licensee’s products and help promote them.

One of the benefits I get is to try out new products from these companies and pass along my opinion on them. I am always looking for new pro staff members so if you live in one of the following states shoot me an e mail. Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Hoyt CRX 35 Gets Dialed In

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Spring is a great time of year because that usually means setting up my new bow for the year. This year I decided to shoot the new Hoyt CRX 35. I am old school and prefer a longer axle to axle bow and I am NOT concerned about having the fastest bow in the timber. I rather shoot a longer more forgiving bow than a short rocket ship. That is just my opinion.

I have heard a lot about this new bow and look forward to carrying it on all my hunts this season.

First thing I did after tearing open the box like an 8 year old on Christmas morning was to order a set of Winners Choice strings. While patiently awaiting for them to arrive I put on my Rip Cord rest and Spott Hogg sight. A few days later the strings were on it as well. Like I said I am from the old days and I like to have a kisser button on my string also. I want to have 3 points or reference when I shoot. A kisser, string on the tip of my nose and a peep. These 3 make sure I am consistent every time I draw back and get locked in.

I headed to my local archery shop in town and put the bow in their home made version of the Hooter Shooter. The cam timing was set and the center shot found. I took a few shots through the paper machine and was pleasantly surprised with the smooth draw. I set my bow at 68 pounds and that along with my Gold Tip 75/95 shafts make for a lethal tool in the woods. I shot close to 75 arrows out of it and went back to the machine to re check timing. As usual the strings did not creep or stretch at all and the peep stayed in perfect alignment.

I will continue to shoot the set up the way it is and work on getting my pins dialed in. I like a 5 pin sight with yardages from 20 to 60 yards on my hunting set up. This will prove to be an efficient hunting set up for any animal that I will chase this year.

Turkey Wrap Up For The Spring

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

This spring the turkey hunting proved to be a challenge all across the West. Everywhere we chased these regal birds whether it was in Nebraska, or Idaho, or even here in Montana we were met with bad weather. The last 6 weeks had some ups and downs but overall I learned a lot about how weather affects turkey hunting.

I started out in Nebraska at the end of March. It is the earliest state to open out West and their turkey numbers are usually very high. The winter was extra tough on all wildlife due to a large amount of snow and very cold temperatures and the spring started out cold and wet as well. Upon arrival in the corn husker state we were told that the turkeys suffered some die offs and that the areas where once many turkeys resided were down by 30%.

Once we got settled into our hotel we went out scouting. The forecast was correct because we did not see near the birds on the ranches that we did the year before. Due to the cold weather the birds were still grouped together in their winter flocks. This makes hunting tough due to the birds not responding to calls or decoys yet. We set up in the highest traffic areas which we found by scouting. We were up early and listened for the birds on the roost than watched their travel. In the afternoons we again set up where we could see as well as hear the birds to see where the roost areas were located. After a day and a half we had a pretty good idea on where to be for an archery shot.

By the end of the week we took 4 long beards, all with archery equipment and none of the birds were shot using traditional tactics. What I mean by this is using decoys or calling to lure the birds into range.

The Montana opener was April 8th this year and again it was still like winter. I spent 2 weeks looking and listening for birds on the National Forest where I hunt. Due to the deep snow it was very hard getting around to locate groups of birds. I had to wait until opening day and hope the birds used their habits from the years past. Much to my delight Dominic, my friend and myself were met with gobbles at first light. I went and set up on the group of birds and began calling off and on and trying to coax a Tom over to my decoy spread.

The birds were very sluggish due to the near 30 degree temperatures and as the morning dragged on and the mercury began to rise the birds became more vocal. By 10 o’clock the woods erupted in the sounds of hens and toms bickering back and forth. I kept working the soft hen sounds and pretty soon the entire flock was headed our way. Within the next hour we had our first double of the spring with Dominic shooting his first bird with the bow and I had another good long beard to my collection.I had to guide a few clients this year after I tagged out and that was also very tough. Central Montana had some of the highest amounts of moisture ever recorded and the bird numbers were way down. I had a client come in for his first ever turkey hunt and the pressure was on. Luckily at mid day I spotted a mature tom walking alone along a pasture fence out looking for girl friends. We were able to get ahead of the bird and set up the decoys. Due to the high wind I had to use a box call because the sound carries much further. I could never hear an answer and did not know if the bird heard me. We were just about to pack up our set up and re locate when I heard the gobble. Within 30 seconds this bird stood at the decoys and his day was ended by a 15 yard shot from the gun.

The last hunt was supposed to be in the prime time of the turkey breeding season. Again cold wet weather had the birds shut down and not very vocal. We had to cover a lot of ground and hike into some new areas trying to locate the birds. After 3 days of cold damp weather the sun finally broke out. The birds flipped the switch and started acting like they should. We located a jake with a hen on a ridge who answered my every call. After setting up 100 yards away through the timber and setting up just a hen decoy I began calling. With every step the jake gobbled as he came into our set. Another 20 yard shot with the gun ended his reign and the season came to a close.

Tough Turkeys In Nebraska

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

The hunting season kicked off again this spring with my trip to Nebraska for turkeys with the bow. This has been a hard winter all over the West and Nebraska proved to be no different. The birds were still in very large winter flocks and had just begun to break up.

We arrived and went out the first afternoon and did not find the birds where we had hunted them the year prior. We spent the better part of the day scouting and coming up with a plan. The public land we were on as well as some of the ranches still had snow left over and the weather was not kind the first few days.

Birds were located but in flocks of 100-200 plus birds. It is very hard to try and call or decoy birds away from these large groups. We had to set up in the strut zones or travel corridors to try and get into archery range of this many birds.

Some flocks had 20 to 30 Toms in them as well as 50 Jake’s and several hundred hens. Although this makes for great excitement it is very hard to hunt. We ended up scouting a lot to see where these birds would strut and loaf during the day and see how they travelled to and from their roost areas and set up our blinds and decoys. Once we got this pattern figured out we just hunted hard every day and waited for the birds to arrive. Random calling off and on worked to keep the birds interested but the best plan was to just catch them milling around in the woods.

You have to be versatile in your early season techniques to be able to tag a mature bird. Our group ended up killing 4 Tom’s with the bow on video and the two kids were ages 10 and 15. I was able to hunt the last day we were there and sat in the transition area in the evening to try and catch these birds headed back to the roost. By 6:30 we could here them in the next valley and realized that they were not headed our way. I got out of the blind and took Warren my camera kid and we walked around the steep cliffs. My plan was to try and catch these birds in their staging area before they flew up to roost. I was still wearing my black top due to sitting in the blind. We climbed up on the bluffs and worked our way around to where the entire flock was headed.

As I got close I could see birds strutting everywhere and knocked an arrow and walked around the sand hill. I saw 2 tail fans coming up the bluff right to me. I drew my bow and watched as the bird walked right at me at 5 yards. One well placed arrow and the bird was down in less than ten steps. What started out as a routine hunt setting in blinds ended up with my first spot and stalk long beard. Just a few tips for archery hunting turkeys. They are very hard to kill due to their small size and constant movements they make. I like to have  a broad side shot and I aim right up the legs to a point where they meet the wings. If you shoot here you will break down their legs and if they can’t run they can’t fly. If the bird is facing you head on I like to aim right under their beard. If the bird is in full strut and walking away I take aim right where the tail fan ends at the rear end. These birds have a very tough will to live but can be so much fun with the bow.

Outback Outdoors On Bear Baiting

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

If you want to start a bit of controversy in the hunting world just mention the word “baiting”. I want to share what I have learned over the years about numerous ways to hunt bears.

I have hunted bears in several states and a few different provinces and have done both the spot and stalk method as well as the baited hunts. After seeing close to 200 bears on baits and a fair number on stalks I have come to some interesting conclusions. They both are an effective way to harvest a bear but baiting has the upper hand in making sure you take the “Right” bear.

What I mean by the right bear, I mean a good mature boar, or male bear.  When walking down a logging road in the spring and you locate a bear at 300 yards you stop and glass it. You have to make a decision if the bear is big enough and if it is a male or not. That is a lot of pressure for the average hunter to make in a split moment and take the shot.

When you are set up on a bait site you have numerous advantages. The most significant of these are the fact that you are usually no more than 20 yards away with archery equipment or 100 yards with a rifle. You have the up close and personal look to determine the sex of the bear, the age and if the bear is with cubs or not. Most sows with cubs come into the site early in the evening. You do not want to shoot a sow if at all possible. A few quick ways to identify if the bear is a sow are as follows.

A sow will usually have a smaller head with a tapered snout on it. The front paws will be pointy at the front and the rear end of the bear will generally be higher than the front end. Of course if the bear comes in with cubs than you know it is a female.

A boar will have the a much larger head, the ears will generally be farther apart and on the side of the head. The snout will be more squared off as well. The feet will be wide across the front of the pad and the body size will be the same height straight across. Usually a boar will walk in with a mission and a sway or waddle to their stride.

All of these factors can be determined at a bait site but not done very well from 200 yards across a canyon. You generally have a lot of time to determine if a bear is a shooter when sitting on a bait. They usually come in and out over the course of a sit and many times you will have numerous bears there at one time. This allows you to size up bears and practice telling the sex of the bears and their ages.

A larger boar will have small ears more towards the side of their head, a crease down the center of his skull might be present also. The body will be larger than that of a sow usually and he usually will run off any other bears on the site. He walks in like he owns the place and does not have a care in the world.

Smaller immature bears will be skiddish and run in and out from the bait. Another tell tale sign with a mature bear is the hide. Most small bears rub early in the spring while the larger ones keep their hide longer and will shed versus rubbing it off.

One last point about the benefits of hunting bears over a bait site. Generally your shot will be very close and you can make a quick ethical kill on on of these awesome animals. A bear that is hit right behind the shoulders on a broad side angle will expire very quickly. This was evident in the two bears hunts we just aired on the show.

Next time you think of  hunting bears consider my key points I brought up and give it a try. It is amazing watching these creatures up close and on their terms. They are a unique animal and I look forward to hunting them every spring.

Bear Hunting Update – Jim Brennan in Alberta Canada

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Bear hunting season is finally here and Outback Outdoors’ Jim Brennan is with Garrett Brothers Outfitters in Fort McMurray, Alberta hunting big black bears. Some of you might not realize this, but Jim is a black bear aficionado. He has, in the past, owned and operated his own black bear outfitting service in Saskatchewan, CA.

Yesterday I received a text from a phone number that I didn’t recognize. it said the following. “Borrowing phone its jim no service up here big bear down.” After texting him back asking for a pic and more info, he responded, “Cant he was black around 6 foot 3 no neck big head 12 long 7 and 1/2 wide 310 on scale no phone pics.”

Translation – Jim killed a smoker of a black bear at over 300lbs and 19 plus inch skull! Congrats Jim and can’t wait to see the pics and the video!

Turkey Hunting Mountain Merriam’s

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Out West I really enjoy hunting Merriam’s turkeys in the mountains just like elk or mule deer. These birds are true survivors of the harsh weather and numerous predators that lurk out here.

The best way to hunt these roaming nomads is to locate big blocks of public ground and look for small parcels of private land laced in between where they run cattle or horse operations. These birds will winter close by due to the feed available for them and help them get through the winter. During the spring these birds will start to break up from the large winter flocks and will spread out into the mountain areas. Drive around the countless forest service roads and call in random locations early in the spring. Take a good map with you and mark on it where you have located gobbling birds. Once the season opens head for those areas and hopefully you will be into birds.

Once you have located these beautiful birds have patience. They travel a lot of ground during the days, sometimes as much as 1-3 miles. They will usually have a set routine and fly down near open clear cuts or dirt roads where they can strut and show off for the ladies. Usually a few hours later they will then head for the timber to loaf and feed throughout the day. This is the best time to ambush them as they spend most of the day there.

The bird here was located the evening before near these roost areas and we had set up on him right on the closed gravel road. He as well as 2 other Tom’s came in as well as 2 Jake’s. They did not give us the opportunity for an archery shot but we decided to return the next morning. We did not show up at first light because we knew where they would be. By 9 am we were set up in their travel area and we were able to decoy him into to 10 yards for and easy and ethical archery shot.

Being in the mountains in the spring is awe inspiring as you see the land come to life. We have seen deer, elk, turkeys, coyotes, wolf sign, as well as moose tracks. It is also a great time to look for sheds as well.

THE SCRAPE LINE

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Welcome to The Scrape Line, a new segment on Outback Outdoors where I will be covering topics related to deer hunting. The Scrape Line will be a bi-monthly segment on the OO webisodes (and more frequent blog posts) and I will address different tips, topics, tactics, and other things I have learned over my deer hunting career.
Everything from late season hunting, cold weather gear, scouting cameras, tree stand placement and more.
Please feel free to blog with me and if you have questions or topics that you would like me to cover feel free to send them in. I look forward to bringing this to our web fans.