Friday, June 27, 2008

Tag Draws And The Quest For Info

It's that time of the year when us hunters lean forward in our chairs, scanning the computer screen like a hungry raptor for any word that tag draw results have been posted. Some folks check their credit card statements like crazed weasels, hoping to be the first on the block to know where they drew a hunt. Those without a computer stalk the postman knowing he can be the Rainmaker. The word "frenzy" comes to mind when describing this annual look into the crystal ball for the fall hunting seasons.

Along with hitting the tag jackpot comes the quest for info that follows. Many folks already know the area where they'll be hunting from years of scouting but there is also a group who bravely fling that dart into the map, wanting to experience a new challenge. Naturally these newbies are behind the learning curve so many jump on to the wild wild web to start their research. This is where it can get ugly some times. These poor pilgrims land in a forum after a Google search and ask that dreaded question. "Hey, I lucked out and drew an X tag. Can anyone help me out?"

The regulars of these forum just grimace knowing that another Norman New Guy to their community has popped in to exploit their honey holes. Some of them bite their tongue and hope no one spills the beans. Others try to be polite and offer up a tidbit or two of helpful info. Unfortunately there is also a backlash from a small minority who lash out at the rookie who dares to venture into their lair, hoping to score a fast and cheap leg up. They feel you must walk a gauntlet to be allowed access to this precious info.

Where's the line? We all know you're screwing the pooch if you post an exact location on the Internet. It was the same in the old days when a magazine writer did a piece on your favorite zone in say WY. Hundreds, if not thousands more, applied the next year. Do you take your request and info trading off line to email so the whole world doesn't see the best spots? Do you just give general info and point them in a direction without getting too specific or do we just ignore the request, hoping they will fade into black? What are the rules on info trading and who sets them? Who is the "Keymaster?"

In the olden days the veteran hunters just flat out didn't talk about "their" spots. Getting an invite to tag along to a golden X was like winning the lottery, it just didn't happen very often, if at all. Blood oaths to secrecy were taken before you hit the trail. If you killed the golden goose with your loose lips there would be retribution. I know some guys who would park on one county road only to be picked up by a friend and they would drive into the next county to keep people from finding their lucky duck hole. Poor wardens would go crazy trying to find these guys to check them only to find out they were 60 miles up river.

I try and point folks in a general direction. I don't think it helps anyone to just mark a map and tell them "Go here." Part of hunting to me is learning how to scout and the satisfaction of discovering new spots on our own. Then again I think it's rude to just brush off folks asking for help. These new folks may just end up being a good hunting buddy or they may know of a great fishing hole in an area your are curious about. Maybe vet them first to see what type of person they are. Quid Pro Quo I guess is how I tend to do the scouting info dance.

Then again, there are a few special spots I will never tell anyone about as they are hallowed ground to me. One is a marsh at Swan Lake NWR in north Missouri where I go to film and watch the squadrons of ducks, turkeys and huge deer that live there. One favorite ridge here in SoCal I just love being alone there. It's my quiet place to let my thoughts wonder among the high clouds

Where do you draw the line when it comes to someone asking for help in scouting? Are you helpful or do you hold those favorite spot cards close to the vest?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Paying The Piper - Rising Fuel , Travel & Gear Prices

As the saying goes, "If you want to dance, you've got to pay the piper."

Being in the retail business I recently received a notice of a dealer price increase from one vender. "Hmmm", I thought, I had just received our new dealer prices a few months back. Most of the new gear for this year hasn't even shipped yet and already there is an unprecedented rise in dealer cost.

Is the cause fuel prices dramatically going up? A weaker dollar against the Euro and Yen? Are skyrocketing metal prices driving the increase? Actually all 3 reasons were cited in the notice as the cause for the sharp rise in gear prices.

Add higher gear prices to the rapidly escalating costs to drive or fly and it's going to be a lot tougher for many hunters and fishermen to make many trips this year. I see talk of carpools already on many fishing and hunting forums, something you just didn't see much of a year ago. I've already scaled back some plans for trips this summer and fall myself.

Some are taking it to the extreme to save fuel and money by Hypermiling. These folks use a method of increasing their car's gas mileage by making skillful changes in the way they drive, allowing them to save gas. Some of their methods make sense but some are downright dangerous like shutting off their ignition when coming to stops. You're power steering and brakes do not work with the key off and you're just asking for disaster in doing that.

Another change I see is the large SUVs are getting traded in or parked in favor of smaller more fuel efficient vehicles. The days of fully loaded down Suburbans and 3/4 ton pickups seem to be numbered. I drive a Dodge Quad Cab diesel truck and it's killing me to fill up, neary $160 for a tank of gas here in SoCal. I get around 19 MPG but I have to wonder what the poor guy or gal who owns an RV that gets 5 MPG is gonna do. Tough times and tough decisions coming for all of us.

What changes are you trying to stretch those precious pennies? How is the price of fuel and travel affecting your plans for this year?

Wanna buy a Dodge Pick-em-Up?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Git To Higher Ground

With all the record flooding back home in Iowa and Mizzurah where most of my folks are maybe a little ditty by Johnny Cash to help cheer them up.

How High is the Water Papa?

How high's the water, mama?
Two feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Two feet high and risin'

We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That's the only thing we got left that'll float
It's already over all the wheat and the oats,
Two feet high and risin'

How high's the water, mama?
Three feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Three feet high and risin'

Well, the hives are gone,
I've lost my bees
The chickens are sleepin'
In the willow trees
Cow's in water up past her knees,
Three feet high and risin'

How high's the water, mama?
Four feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Four feet high and risin'

Hey, come look through the window pane,
The bus is comin', gonna take us to the train
Looks like we'll be blessed with a little more rain,
4 feet high and risin'

How high's the water, mama?
Five feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Five feet high and risin'

Well, the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can't come back till the water comes down,
Five feet high and risin'

Well, it's five feet high and risin'


Columbus Junction Iowa.

In more news from the flood zone along the Iowa river we have the
"Come Hell Or High Water" marriage. A woman named Dannie Ritter put her foot down and got married despite driving 180 miles across Iowa around detours to Columbus Junction IA. That wasn't the only hurdle she had to overcome, her new husband is in the National Guard and he was called into action to help save the town from all the water.

You go girl.

Couple was last seen paddling off into the sunset.


I hope the best for all you folks along the rivers in WI, IA, MO and IL. If you need anything, please email here and we'll see what we can do to help out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nifty Little Item For Us Treestand Hunters

One of the pains of wearing a safety harness is how the tether strap rubs the back of your neck and gets all tangled up. Many of us bowhunters have stood out there in the trees and wondered, "There's got to be a better way." Well, there is. The Jacketport.

This new company out of Georgia has a waterproof port you install in the back of your jacket so you can just pass your strap through the hole. When you get into your stand you just strap/clip in and never have to worry about the strap, it's right where it should be. When you don't have your harness on you can still use the jacket by installing the cap over the port.

I've got 2 Jacketport samples left so if anyone wants one to try out just hit my email.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day To All The Dads

I have to admit that without my Dad's passion for hunting and fishing that I probably wouldn't have been able to run around the lakes and woods as much as I did as a kid. Thank you Dad for taking the time to introduce me to the outdoors. I still stare in rapt wonder at many of the critters and plants I see while outdoors. Nature is the best classroom I've ever attended.

3 cheers also for all the Dad's out there who pass on this fine tradition we have of hunting and fishing to our children.

Here's a pic of Dad with his bow up near Mark Twain Lake in MO before they flooded the area to make the lake.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Big Bear Lake Carp Roundup 2008

This was the 5th annual Carp Roundup at Big Bear Lake put on by the Big Bear Lake MWD. As usual the "Zonies" (Arizona) boyz kicked our CA butts. 3rd was the best the state of fruits and nuts could do for both shore and boat teams.

The total tonnage of carp whacked was off from last year, 5,000 pounds, down from 8,000 last year.

A BBQ, prizes and raffle followed after at the MWD building at the boat ramp.

Huge thanks goes out to Big Bear MWD, Mike Stephenson, all the helpers and all the sponsors like Riverside Archery.

See you in 2009, the Big Bear Lake Carp Roundup is the first weekend in June.

Here's part 1 of the 3 part video series.

Part 2

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Big Trouble On The River

I had a Valley Pocket Gopher move in and start tearing up the front yard. At first I thought I was up against a ground squirrel having never dealt with pocket gophers before. We had moles in our yard back in Missouri and we just flipped them out with a shovel when we saw them pushing up a tunnel. This gopher was a whole new prey for me. Gassing and waterboarding didn't work at first so we had to escalate the applied physics.

Watch my travails in the video to see who wins out and if the house survived.

Ain't much to speak of for a pelt to count coup, his hide didn't even cover my spear tip.

Monday, June 2, 2008

JHO Ham Slam Tejon Ranch CA May 2008 Part 2

This is our annual Ham Slam at the beautiful Tejon Ranch near Lebec CA, 1 hour north of Los Angeles CA.

29 hunters this go round with 20 taking hogs with gun and bow.

This video has Cody's hog, climbing up Specmisser ridge behind Petunia. Bob's (hronk's) pig. Glassing up a hog for Scott (grwhthunter). Jesse's (ozzstriker22's) pig. Wild oats.

We have hunts at Tejon several times a year so if you would like to attend or learn more about hog hunting please check in at out Hog Hunting Forum here

More info on the Tejon Ranch here

Camcorder was Canon GL-2 with Century Optics 2x tele lens for long shots. Bogen 3130 tripod.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

JHO Ham Slam Hog Hunt At Tejon Ranch CA

Got part 1 of the JHO Tejon Ranch Ham Slam video done. It was a cold winter like hunt. Deepest/longest haul would go to Speckmisser or Rancho that I saw. Saul (bodega) gets honorable mention for his recovery.

I missed getting any kills on the tape. Got Scott (grtwhthntr) sneaking on some bedded and feeding hogs coming in part 2

Really missed going on the hunt with gnn961 and huntsndives Friday. They had the classic here comes hogs, gun jams story. By the time I got to Bear Trap after check in everyone had tore out for the ridges. Just a big dust trail up the mtn. This video has some blowed up hearts, 7mm Barnes bullet recovery by the Ammo Doctor hisself, Rancho Loco and more. No vehicles over that I know of, at least no ones admitting to any rollovers and all the roofs looked in good shape when I left.

No snakes, no ticks, no poison oak yet discovered so it was a good hunt. I still curse those that entice us fat guys down over the lip on the ridges into those hell holes, I could hardly walk today. Dayum thighs muscles are locking up bad. Downhills are the worst.

Missed the usual carne asada lunch at Los Pinos at the top of the Vine. Someone snuck out I hear and went.

Part 1 comin up