Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All ducks lined up and ready to rumble

© By Othmar Vohringer

Yesterday I sat in my office, also serving as my hunting gadget storage room, getting all my duck decoys ready by attaching new anchor lines to each of them. Each time I finished a decoy I set it on the floor in a neat line, drake, hen, drake, hen... From the TV upstairs my ears caught the faint announcement form the Canadian Comedy Channel, “are you ready to rumble?”

Looking at my duck decoys all lined up on the floor I thought to myself. “Yes indeed my ducks are all lined up and I am ready to rumble – in the duck marsh that is.” For weeks I am lining my ducks up to get ready for waterfowl season.

It started weeks ago with daily visits to the shooting range to get my shotgun patterned. I am very particular with shooting accuracy. I want the best performance possible be that with bows, rifles, muzlleloader or rifle. To get the best out of every weapon I have to spend considerable time at the range. “This will do” has never been an option for me.

I went through several boxes of various brands, shell and shot sizes, trying out different choke tubes until finally I arrived at a consistent pellet pattern. It’s a lot of work but the end result is worth that work. My trusty Mossberg performs a consistent pattern with Federal Ultra Shok 3” loaded with # 3 steel pellets pushed through an improved choke. Fortunately, the heavier BB shot, which I prefer for geese, of the same brand and shell size performs equally well with the same choke. I do not have to waste time exchanging choke tubes in the marsh when ducks and geese fly in together. All I have to do is load quickly a shell with the proper size pellets.

With the gun performing at its best it was time to scout a few good spots to ambush waterfowl. About a ten-minute drive from our house I found several perfect spots. All the spots are accessible by boat only, which is a good thing. Not many hunters here will go out of their comfort zone for waterfowl hunting. It’s just not that popular around here. One of the places I found receives frequent visits from bears, and judging from the prints in the soft shore sand they are huge. It’s a secluded place and that makes it attractive to ducks. When I go there I might take the rifle along too just in case a bear shows up when I am there too.

The other spot is located in a huge reed field. I cut a channel into it that will accommodate my boat perfectly and stay hidden from any approaching duck’s view. All in all I am pretty confident with the locations I have chosen. The gun shooting well and promising stand locations found I had half of my ducks lined up. I could turn my attention to duck and geese calling practice. I am a great believer in game calling because it works when all the conditions are right and the hunter masters the proper sounds and sequences.

The only downside is, that if you hunt so many different game species you need to practice a lot of different calls. There is just no way that I can consistently practice deer, turkey, elk and waterfowl calls on a regular schedule. The good news is that ones you learned the calls its like riding a bicycle. You never will forget, but you get rusty if you don’t do it for a few month. So, for the past two days I am brushing up on my waterfowl language.

The last job remaining to do was to attach anchors to my brand new set of Flambeau duck decoys. Everything is ready to go or you could say, my ducks are all lined up and I am ready to rumble.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Hunting deep in the jungle of Peru

© By Othmar Vohringer

Perched in his makeshift treestand the hunter could hear from somewhere deep in the jungle the monotonous beat of tribal drums. As the morning mist began to dance gracefully in the warming breeze of dawn the hunter got ready. His crossbow drawn, he waited patiently for the wild pekari’s that at any moment now would come down the narrow trail from their night quarters to the muddy little waterhole near the base of his tree. It was just light enough to see the forest taking shape. The black wall of vegetation turned into individual tree trunks that seemed to grow into the heavens above. A few sunbeams began to penetrate the dense canopy when the hunter’s heart skipped a beat or two. Right above him high in the canopy a pava de monte, a distant relative of the peacock and turkey, greeted the new day with a loud cackle and then flew with heavy wings to the damp forest floor…

When Ivan from the Asociación de Caza con Ballesta del Perú blog sent me an email to tell me all about his recent hunting adventure in the deep dark jungle of his native Peru it evoked childhood memories in me. As a child I often sat in my room reading books and stories of brave hunters pursuing exotic and dangerous game in Africa and South America. I admired these men that explored far off countries and lived off the land and learned from the native tribes the art of scouting and stalking in the jungle. Many of these hunters had hair-raising stories of life and death encounters with elephants, lions, jaguars and the odd hostile tribe to tell of. These were the adventures every little boy wanted to live.

Ivan’s recent email gave me the opportunity to ask him how he was doing and what he was up to recently. Ivan answered me back telling me about his recent hunt and kindly attached a few pictures to go with the story. Ivan does hunt peraki’s, a small but quite vicious little pig when provoked as well as pava de montes. These birds are quite a bit smaller than turkeys and peacocks but in every aspect just as beautiful. But it was the photo of Ivan holding up the gigantic anaconda that was to my mind the biggest prize. An anaconda is the largest snake it the world. These behemoths of the South American jungle can grow to more than 30 feet long. The Anaconda Ivan holds in the photo is not quite that long but is a respectable specimen by any standard. These reptiles are capable of inflicting severe injury and even death to any human not careful enough.

Here is Ivan in his jungle treestand waiting for game with crossbow ready for action.

The price of patients and stealth, a fistey pekari that, so Iam told, are very tasty too.

Here is Ivan with another trophy, this time it's a Pava de montes. In the picture you can't see what beautiful birds they are and so I included another one below.

That is a huge snake, a anaconda. I am honest with you all, I don't like snakes much. So anyone hunting them or getting otherwise close to these animals is a hero in my mind.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Living the American Way of Life – but God help you if you do

© By Othmar Vohringer

It is not often that I write a political article. However, today I feel the need to write about a subject that I find highly disturbing.

The American way of Life is not unique to America but rather a figure of speech that can be applied to any nation. Provided that the nation grants its people democratic freedom, justice and liberty to pursue happiness and a fulfilled life within the frame of the law and constitution without running the risk of been outcast, maligned and persecuted.

The American Way of Life also means that citizens of free countries should be proud of their heritage and traditions. The American Way of Life means that people should first care for the welfare of their fellow citizens. A brotherhood and sisterhood of a nation made up of different races, traditions and beliefs living and working in harmony for the greater good of all in that nation.

With the nomination of Sarah Palin to run for Vice-President we all witnessed that living the American Way of Life will subject you to ridicule, slander and character assassination from communist flavored left-wing parties and special interest groups, the disciples of internationalism and government control.

Sarah Palin lives the American Way of Life and get attacked for it. Palin, like many other women, raises a family and holds a job but she also takes part in the great traditions of hunting and fishing. Unlike others she makes no apologies for it. And why should she. It’s a tradition to be proud of.

Sarah Palin also believes that Americans first should solve their own problems before they try to solve anyone else’s. She is a Patriot and that doesn’t sit well with the left-wing parties who have accused her of being a nationalist. The late French General De Gaulle defined the difference between patriotism and nationalism; “ Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first. Nationalism is when hate for people other than your own comes first.”

What makes Sarah Palin so unpopular with the left-wing parties and media? Rather than talking about the new world order and big government Sarah talks about the many problems America faces at home and about how America can solve these problems with resources from within the country and with American resources and American people. Of course that does not sit well with those that favor an international community at the cost of national identity, dependence and to a point national sovereignty.

Where globalization and big government can lead is shown in the example of Europe. European member nations have to subordinate their national governance, internal affairs, justice, trade and traditions to the interests of the European community, regardless if it benefits the nations or not. International interests come before national interests.

I am disturbed by the attacks on Palin. It is not a single case, it happens to everyone that stands up and voices his or her conservative beliefs and adherence to traditional ways and cultural traditions. The left wing is for the most part all about being in with the new at any cost and out with the old and proven.

Most of what we read and hear in the media is designed to disqualify Sahra not on her political achievements as Governor of Alaska but based on her personal beliefs and traditions. Much of what is said is just plain nasty and belongs in the realm of willful character assassination.

Here are just a few comments of the thousands that are spread like a virus all over the Internet commenting on Palin’s hunting tradition. Here is one comment that makes a bold correlation between hunting and killing people:

“I will never understand the mentality that prefers dead animals to living ones. Although, when you think about it, it’s kind of related to the right-wing mentality that prefers dead soldiers to living veterans who might need medical care and have the audacity to object to their policies.”

The assumption of legally hunted game equating that of fallen soldiers is truly disturbing and clearly aimed at scaring people over the ‘gun toting animal killer’. It is implied in the statement that people who kill animals are also capable of killing people. Not somebody you want to have in a powerful position. But it gets worse.

Here is a comment that comes from the televised interview with Sarah Palin’s parents in their Alaskan log home. Typical for many hunting households are beautiful taxidermy works decorating the walls of their living room, which was thus described: “The horned skull over the door is the thing that caught my eye. I’m not saying they worship the devil or anything...”
By saying, “I’m not saying they worship the devil…” the commenter did exactly that - why else would he have written that. He wanted to give the impression that the Palin’s are devil worshippers. According to left wing thinking whom other than a devil worshiper could be in favor of gun ownership and hunting?

Hollywood celebrities too take part in the mud-slinging match. Matt Damon spends twenty minutes on YouTube ridiculing Sarah Palin, ending every sentence with “Real scary” or “I am scared for the future of America”. Here is what Matt is scared about: “Palin comes form a small town where she served as Mayor. She has no experience with big government. That is really scary.” Of course Matt purposely leaves out the fact that Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska. Damon is also scared about Sarah’s morals, “She kills animals for fun and we all know what people who kill for fun are capable of. I am scared for the future of America should that women ever become our Vice-President.” Again the assumption is made that hunters kill for fun and the implication is that they could be much worse. Matt is also scared about Sarah's membership in the NRA and he is scared about the values she passes on to children by promoting gun ownership and the “killing of animals”. The interview keeps going in that vein till the end. Everything Sarah Palin says, does and stands for is scary to him.

For me the disturbing aspect of all this is that the media and left-wing parties and supporters solely concentrate on the outdoor pursuit aspect of Sarah Palin and her membership in the NRA. Of course these things are easier to malign than a provable political track record of achievements.

I do not envy my American friends for the choice they have to make in this election. With all that childish mud slinging back and forth it is hard to see through the nasty fog of deception. ‘God Bless America’ perhaps needs to be rephrased into ‘God help the Americans to see through the thick fog of plain nastiness an diversion tactics so they will be able to make the right choice for America on the ballot box’.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to choose the right treestand

© By Othmar Vohringer

It often happens that readers send me emails in regard to a post I made on this blog. Some of these emails are comments and others are requests for more information or advice on the subject. One such advice seeking email came in after I posted the article Buckle up. The email writer wanted to know what treestand model and brand I would recommend for him. Before I go any further let me explain that I am always hesitant to make recommendations without knowing the area hunted and the physical condition of the person. There are many variables that should be considered before parting with hard earned cash to purchase a treestand.

In the following article I will try to explain the most important considerations that should influence the choice of treestand that’s right for you. Basically treestands are divided into four models. These are: fixed position stands, climbing stands, ladder stands and tripod stands. In a moment I will discuss each model in more detail with you but first lets talk about what all stands should have in common and what they require regardless of model and brand.

All treestand models require some agility and strength on the part of the person to transport, install or set up. In the many years I hunt from treestands I have yet to find a model that is easy breezy to set up and transport. Even the lightest models, which are usually of the fixed position type, can have a considerable weight when combined with climbing sticks or screw in steps. A light quality stand weighs around 10 to 14 pounds but add to that the weight of the steps at around 6 to 8 pounds and you could end up with close to or just over 20 pounds that you have to haul on your back to your stand location.

I strongly recommend going with a stand that has been manufactured by a member of the Treestand Manufacturer Association (TMA). Members of this organization periodically undergo unannounced product safety and quality checks to guarantee quality of the materials used and the workmanship. Stands of TMA members usually are a little bit more expensive than those of non TMA members. In my opinion, on matters that could mean the difference between life and death, it is well worth spending the extra bucks.

A good treestand has a decent sized standing platform of at least 22 inches by 29 inches and a comfortably sized and padded seat. There is nothing worse than sitting perched like a crow on a branch for up to six or more hours. An uncomfortable seat will make treestand hunting a battle of endurance and lead to fidgeting around in the stand and this in turn alerts deer to your presence.
Personally I have a great dislike for small standing platforms. When I stand up to take the shot I want to be able to move my feet around without having to look down where I step. The platform should be big enough that I will be able to shuffle my feet without the toes hanging off the edge.

The treestand has to be easy to install and hang onto the tree. It is a very different matter to hang a stand onto a tree with both feet on the ground compared to 15 feet or more off the ground with the feet balancing on a narrow metal rod step and the person tied to the tree trunk. I like fixed models that can be positioned on the tree with one hand while the other hand is used to strap the stand to the tree trunk.

In a climbing treestand I look for the same things as in a fixed stand: comfort and a decent sized standing platform. In addition I like stands that can be quickly and quietly assembled with only a few bolts. Again it is easy to assemble a stand in daylight with lots of different nuts and bolts using a wrench, but try that same task in the dark and it will became a frustrating task to find small nuts and bolts. Forget it if you happen to drop a small bolt in the dark, you never will find it again.

Once I have attached a treestand in its final position on the tree it has to be rock solid. I hate stands that wobble or squeak and make popping noises each time that I have to move. In short, a good quality stand wears the TMA seal of approval, is comfortable, easy to install and quiet. The brand of the treestand is of no consideration to me– what is important is the model design. All manufactures that comply with TMA standards provide a safe quality product. Discussing brands is like discussing cars. Each person has his or her favorite. There are those that like Fords and others that hate them. It’s the same with treestand brands.

Now lets look at the different models of stands. What stand model suits your needs best depends on what you’re comfortable with but to an even greater degree on what habitat you hunt. If you hunt brush country then a fixed hang-on stand or a climbing treestand would be useless and so would be a ladder stand, because there is no suitable tree to mount the stands on. In brush country, grasslands, cornfields or cattail marshes the logical choice would be a tripod stand. Tripod stands are heavy and need two and sometimes three people to set up depending on the model and size of the stand. A tripod stand is the least portable of all stands. They are heavy and require many parts to assemble. Once set up these stands cannot just be picked up and transported elsewhere without disassembling them completely.

If your hunting area consists of big old Ponderosa pines a climbing treestand is out of the question because most climbers only accommodate trees of up to 18 inches in diameter. Here the typical choice would be a fixed position or ladder stand with extendable fastening belts or chains.

In a river bottom with gnarly willows or other areas consisting predominantly of bent and gnarly tree trunks a fixed position or ladder stand would be the best choice as well. On places with slim straight tree trunks a climbing stand is the way to go. Overall the climbing stand is in my opinion the easiest stand to set up and very mobile but its application is very limiting due to the fact that you need straight trees of a relative small diameter without lower branches that could interfere with climbing up the tree. Climbing stands require considerable strength and agility from the hunters. Not only do you have to move the weight of the stand up the tree but also your own body weight. Because of that I would recommend a “sit down stand up” climbing model rather than the models that require you to hold the climber part above your head and then pull the stand with your feet up while having all the weight held with your arms alone.

Of all the treestand models the fixed position and ladder stand are the most versatile that can be used in a wide variety of treed habitats. Ladder stands are very safe and usually very comfortable too but they tend to be quite heavy to transport and require two people to set up due to their weight and bulkiness and the rather elaborate assembly required for most models. The fixed position stand is quick to set up with a little practice but not as mobile as the climbing stand. A fixed position stand, unlike the climber, is not a “set up and hunt right away” stand. The assembly of a separate ladder or installation of screw in steps takes up considerable time. Once the ladder or steps have been installed the stand needs to be placed in position, taking up more time. Typically a fixed position stand is set up well in advance of a hunt, so is a ladder and a tripod stand.

Each of the different stand models has its advantages and disadvantages. A serious treestand hunter should own at least four fixed position stands that are installed well in advance of the hunting season at different locations. This permits the hunter to quickly change locations from one stand to the next without any delay to wherever the deer action is. To this arsenal of fixed stands, depending on what we have discussed above, I recommend that that you also should own at least one climbing or ladder stand. Owning several stand models gives you the opportunity to use stands in a wide variety of situations and that often will make all the difference you need to be a successful treestand hunter.

Read related articles:
Buckle Up
Making Hunting From a Treestand Safer
Treestand Hunting Tips

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Buckle up!

© By Othmar Vohringer

Every time a hunter climbs into a treestand he or she has the potential of getting hurt or even killed. According to the hunter accident statistics the majority of hunting accidents involves treestands. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, given that treestand manufacturers include safety harnesses with every stand plus print labels onto the stand and explain in great detail in the owner manuals why it is important to wear this safety devices the moment we attempt to climb up a tree.

I am equally surprised to realize, given the statistic, how many hunters ignore these safety instructions. The excuses from those that do not wear a safety harness are unbelievably naïve, a better description probably would be childish irresponsible.
“It takes to long to put a harness on.” What that hunter is saying is that his life is not worth a two minute effort.

“I am not a sissy besides I know what I am doing.” What this hunter is saying is that he rather would break his neck than been perceived as a responsible adult that can make common sense decisions for himself.

“It’s my life and I can do with it as I wish.” What this hunter is saying is that he doesn’t care about his family, his children and friends.

Treestand safety is every hunters responsibility. The choices we make in life do not only affect us alone but everybody around us too. Treestand hunting is a very successful and safe tactic, provided we use just a little bit common sense.

  1. Never hunt from a treestand that you have not personally inspected and made sure it is attached and maintained properly.
  2. Before and after the hunting season inspect all your stands for wear and tear. If you discovered worn parts exchange them with manufacturer recommended parts before you use them. The common sense rule here is if a part looks worn it probably should be replaced before you use the stand.
  3. Avoid hunting from permanent treestands made of wood. Over the years the wood starts to root and these treestands become highly unsafe.
  4. Before you use a new treestand read the owner manual carefully. Never hang the stand on a tree that is smaller or larger than recommended by the manufacturer.
  5. Before you use a new treestand practice hanging the stand and getting in and out of it at two to three feet above ground until you become familiar with the equipment.
  6. Always use a safety device the moment you make the first step of the ground. Most modern safety harnesses can easily be adapted to a climbing and safety harness combined. A climbing belt secured to the harness will free both your hands up to hang the stand on to the tree. Climbing treestands can slip and a climbing belt will make sure you do not fall when the stand does.
  7. Do not climb to your stand with the rifle, bow or other equipment on you. Attach these items to a haul line long enough for the height of your stand and then pull these items up to you once you’re safely secured in the treestand.
Firearms, bows and other equipment we use in the treestand should be given safety considerations too. A modern bow or rifle costs a lot of money to buy plus time and effort to get proficient with it. Wouldn’t it make sense to protect this investment? Of course it would. As we sit in our stands and wait for legal shooting light we get a little sleepy, some hunters might even take a short power nap. It is these times were a bow or rifle held on our lap easily could slip from our grasp and fall to the ground. The damage that could occur from such a fall can be considerable and expensive to repair.

Even if no damage occurs, which is unlikely, the hunt would be spoiled for that day. If a fall occurs to a firearm the scope can be damaged beyond repair. There could be more serious consequences though than just damage to the rifle or scope. The firearm could accidentally discharge. Don’t take this lightly. Even if the safety switch is on the shock from the fall of the rifle, hitting hard onto the ground or the tree trunk can cause the gun to fire. If the hunter is lucky the bullet from such an accidental discharge will do no harm but it just as easily could hit him or another hunter walking through the area.

There are a few very simple inexpensive things we can do to protect our equipment from damage through falls from the stand. An additional tree step or hook screwed into the tree at a convenient height for you will serve nicely as a bow hanger. A second hook can hold all the other gear, such as daypack, game calls and even the lunch bag.

To secure my rifle in the treestand I use an ingenious little device called GunThriver. The Michigan based company Gun Safety Innovations came up with an idea how to keep a firearm safely teetered to the treestand and yet still be flexible enough to maneuver the gun around and aim with it in any direction and all the time the weapon is safe from falling. While I never had a firearm fall from a stand yet –it came close a few times though – the GunThriver has given me a great sense of confidence in the protection of my rifles, muzzleloaders and the scopes. There are a few products that I think are really useful and this is one of them. You can read a review of the GunThriver here.

Please be safe this and all hunting season, don’t become a statistic. Have a great hunting season and come back here to tell me all about it.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

The story of a young elk hunter

© By Othmar Vohringer

This is a true story of a young elk hunter and his close encounter with a monster elk bull that got him hooked for good on the pursuit of this majestic animal with its echoing bugle that can be heard for miles in the predawn mist in the Colorado Mountains. The story has been told to me by Chad of Field Dress and rather than repeat here I let him tell you all about that incredible story in his own words.

Every year my father, uncle, brother and I get together for a week of nonstop bowhunting in either Colorado, for elk, or North Dakota, for whitetail. This year is like no other, as everyone had a tough year financially and we decided we’d have to wait until next year to get together. My uncle’s son, however, finally decided he would like to take up bowhunting and drew both elk and mule deer tags. In previous years, he would always join us in the woods, but he never had the passion for the actual “hunt”. He has been calling me every evening to not only rub it in, but mostly to get advice and tell me about the happenings. The story he told me the other night was one we’ll be telling around the campfire for years to come.

He scouted pretty well and had been seeing quite a few cows and a couple monster mule deer on a consistent basis. In the morning hunt, he glassed the area they’ve been in and the valley was alive with activity. The mule deer bucks, herd of cows, and a couple rag horned elk were out. A friend came up the night before and the two devised the route to take. They had radios, a perfect wind, and my cousin set out on his first true stalk.

He decided to go after the rag-horned elk, as they were preoccupied with each other in a morning scrap. It didn’t take him long to get within sixty yards. He feels extremely confident shooting within forty yards and as he stopped to figure out the plan, he heard the familiar “crack” to his left.

Now, the rest might be hard for some to believe, but let me tell you, the boy doesn’t have it in him to lie. He looked down the ridge and there was the granddaddy bull elk standing forty-yards away through the pines. He set up just in front of a pine and some brush preparing for the shot. He couldn’t tell how big, but could see a mass of horns walking directly to him. As the bull came through the pines into clear view, he counted eight points on one side and as he described it, “horns going in every direction” on the other side.

He also noticed the bull had a limp and realized one of his back legs had been shot off just above the knee. The wind was perfect, blowing directly in his face and the adrenaline was kicking in as the bull kept walking to within twenty yards. Never offering a shot, the bull kept coming to ten yards. At fifteen-feet, the bull stopped to relieve himself and my cousin swore he felt the spray on his face. He absolutely had no idea what to do with a bull that close and continuing to get closer and closer.

My cousin was slightly above him, as the bull had been walking up the ridge and fifteen-feet quickly became five-feet and then two feet. My cousin closed his eyes to try and calm down and when he opened them all he saw were horns surrounding his body. The bull had put his head down to feed and had he turned his head would’ve hit my cousin for sure. Being an agile young man, he slowly contorted to draw his bow, never realizing if he actually would extend his arm he would hit the bull directly on the forehead with the end of his arrow. As the monster granddaddy lifted his head, they met eyes and I’m sure they both “shat” themselves. I can’t imagine the feeling of looking into the eyes of such a majestic animal at that distance. In a moment the three-legged eight-point granddaddy monster bull was gone and my cousin was left standing to wonder what he could’ve done. To me, it doesn’t really matter. He might not ever get the biggest bull in our camp, but he’ll always be able to keep us captivated with the best elk hunt story ever told.

He has another week or so to go after him and has promised to not forget a camera. I’ll keep you informed as I look forward to the evening updates.
Three-Legged Bull Update!

Well, my cousin is really getting into the elk. He’s been having the most luck in the morning hunts and yesterday was no exception. He spotted a couple cows and the monster muley in the same general area as before and headed out. A snow front started in which made for a beautiful walk in.

About half way up he spooked something and froze. As he looked to his right, getting up from their beds were two moose. It’s rare, but every once in a while we’ll come upon one. This was a small bull and cow and they just kind of wandered off into the timber. He continued up the trail and got about one hundred yards out from where he saw the cows and stopped to glass. As he was glassing, down below him, the herd was moving his way. He initially saw numerous cows, a six-point bull, and more horns through the pines, but couldn’t make out their sizes.

In his mind, however, all he saw was “Tripod”, the eight-point, three-legged bull, he’s seen over and over in his dreams since last week. He put out a couple bugles and got the answer he was looking for from the six-point. They talked back and forth for a while, but the big bull didn’t want to leave the herd. He thought “Tripod” must be in the area. Then suddenly, a nice four-point appeared in a clearing, forty-yards out. Perfect shooting distance, but “Tripod” got the better of him.

First-time elk hunting and I think he believes its always going to be this way. He passed him up and continued towards the herd. The six-point wanted nothing to do with his bugling and took the herd off into the timber and again. “Tripod” was victorious.

How many of us passed a nice trophy because of the one that got away still fresh in our minds? In the field training for the rookie elk hunter. Whatever he is doing however, he must be doing something right. He was able to get a picture of the walk in on his cell and thinks he got some of the moose and elk too. I’ll have to wait for him to get on a computer to send everything over. The way his hunts are going, I don’t think he’ll be in civilization until he and “Tripod” meet again.

More to come…

To learn more about Field Dress visit their website !
Or you can read my Field Dress product review here!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

First day of hunting

© By Othmar Vohringer

September 10 saw me long before sunrise set up on a spot overlooking a large overgrown cut block where I had previously seen many decent sized mule deer bucks. From this vantage point I would have a good view of the deer when they retreat at dawn to the dark timber. As soon the sun started to come up I began glassing the area with high-powered binoculars, looking carefully for the slightest movement with the rifle ready next to me.

After a half hour I still had not seen any movement, which to me seemed very strange considering how many deer I have seen previously on this spot. I started to wonder what the cause might be. The clear cut had plenty of food available and there were no other hunters in the area. Not wasting any more time wondering I moved quickly on to the next pre-scouted location a half a mile ahead. If I hurry I might still catch a few bucks in the open.

The new location proved to be as devoid of deer as the first spot. By now the sun was fully up and began to get warm. It was then that I realized, not only were the deer absent but also other animals such as the songbirds and grouse. The morning continued without any sightings of deer, bear or other game animals.

I should have checked the weather forecast then I would have known that it would get very hot yesterday. Animals do not need a weather forecast they instinctively know. On such days deer retreat early, before sunrise, in to the cooler timber. Once I realized that I saw no point in continue to hunt and went home for a late breakfast.

On the way out of the hunting area I met cowboys on horseback corralling cattle. I stopped and asked if they have seen any game. Neither of them has and they assured me that they have been in the area since last night. A bit further down the logging road I encountered the only other hunter I have seen all day. He asked me if I have seen anything and when I said that I didn’t he said neither did he.

In the evening it began to cool down somewhat and I got ready to head out for an evening hunt. This time I chose a power line right of way where deer come out in the evening to graze. At this time of day the power line is in the shadow from the old timber forest and animal appreciate that cooler area and cover the shadow provides.

I sneaked along just inside the tree line along the power line, in the hopes I can catch a buck feeding in the power line or hanging up just inside the tree line. By the time I got to the other end it was dark and I had to return to the truck. All I have seen is one lonely older doe. She stood within 20 yards from me watching the power line. Her interest in the opening made me think that there might be another deer, perhaps even a buck. So I did as the doe and kept watching the spot she was watching with the rifle ready. Ten minutes into the observation nothing happened and the doe walked off and so did I.

On the way back to the truck I saw a pack of coyotes playing out in a clear cut and that was the end of my first hunting day. In all the years I hunt, which is almost a lifetime, I have never tagged out on opening day. I am upset about it? No I am not. This was only the first day of many to follow. Plenty time to redeem myself.

Maybe as soon as tomorrow or on Saturday. As I write this and look out the office window I can see that the wind has picked up and dark gray clouds appear on the horizon. This means a new weather front is moving in and these are good times to hunt. In addition when I looked at the lunar calendar it said that tomorrow is a good hunting day and on Saturday will be excellent. Of course there is more to deer movement than just the condition of the moon, weather, food and other hunters play a big part in deer movement too.

I guess I will find out tomorrow and over the weekend. Stay tuned for more hunting reports and some other great posts coming to this blog very soon.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It is finally here…the hunting season opened

© By Othmar Vohringer

By the time you read this I will be sneaking around in British Columbia’s wilderness, in the pursuit of that big mule deer buck that eluded melast year, or one just like him.

Yep, tomorrow morning (September 10) our hunting season is open here in our region of British Columbia. Precisely at 3 am my alarm will go off and after a shower and a hot coffee I will be on my way. Arriving according to my plan at about 4am in my hunting area I will just have time for another coffee and get all dressed up in camo, stuff my gear into a back bag sling my trusty Weatherby Vanguard .270 over my shoulder and head off into the woods. The route I previously picked will lead along a five-mile long power line right of way – a prime area for deer to hang out – intercepted by a few overgrown cut blocks which are also prime feeding spots for deer and other game. On each cut block I will pause to glass for bucks grazing at dawn and if nothing happens move on to the next.

By the time I am at the end of the power line right of way it will be late afternoon and perfect timing to repeat the same hunting tactic on the way pack to my truck. Unless I shoot a deer I will be back home at around 7 pm. I will be out hunting with a break or two, every single day for the next three to four weeks.

We have lots of game around here in great variety. As mentioned I start my hunting season with mule deer buck hunting. This will be my priority for this season unless I kill a big deer. In between I may hunt a few days for moose and black bears. Actually it is quite likely that I run into one or the other, or all of these species, in one single day. We have so much game here that this is entirely possible. I also will spend a few days or afternoons hunting upland birds and at least two weekends waterfowl and dove hunting.

I am pumped and thrilled about the upcoming hunting season. I have never lived at a place where I had so much game and variety basically right at my doorstep. I just was saying this morning to my wife. I hunt since the age of 12, which makes this year, my 43rd hunting season anniversary. After all this years I still have trouble to sleep a few days before season opener because I am all wound up in anticipation. In fact I cannot remember that I ever felt like that as kid about Christmas, unlike other kids. For me the hunting season always has been the annual highlight and it still so to this day. Or as an old man this morning in the gun store said to me “Othmar that is what it is all about.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

There is only one disappointment to all of that joy. I have strongly anticipated to use this opportunity to film as much footage as humanly possible on all the hunting I will do this season. However it turns out that the new video camera I purchased for that purpose was not suitable and I had to return it. I have asked around the shops for a rental camera but they are all booked out months ahead. A new camera has to be ordered and will not arrive in time I need it. Could drive to Vancouver and purchase one but the current gas prices would not justify a 200-mile trip just to buy a camera.

Each hunting season I also get a little sentimental because it is this time of year where I miss my mother and father most. It was my parents who guided my first steps in the outdoors and passed their values and morals on to me. They remained my trusted hunting partners until they day they passed away. I know my mother and father will accompany me in spirit on this hunt as they did on all the previous ones but I still miss my parents both dearly, walking one on either side of me through the woods and fields.

Over the next few days I try to keep you up-to-date about my hunting endeavors but it will not be on a daily base. I hope you all have a successful hunting season and make lots of memories. Please take a child friend or family member hunting so they too can enjoy our great hunting heritage. Be safe and have fun!

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

More Women in British Columbia owning guns

© By Othmar Vohringer

“Annie Get Your Gun” has become an appropriate theme for British Columbia women. According to a recently published article in the “Times Colonist” gun sales have gone up throughout the province of British Columbia. Gun storeowners say that firearm sales to women have drastically increased. One of the reasons for this new surge may have to do with the provinces recent hunter recruitment program directed specifically at women and children.

Gun clubs throughout the province and the B.C. Wildlife Federation were quick to respond to the hunter recruitment program by introducing special family and women in the outdoors programs. It is in part because of these and similar programs, targeted specifically at women and children, that the access for women to hunting and the shooting sport has become easier. In addition hunting clubs began to offer family shooting programs and introduced family memberships. Such benefits make it financially lees straining, especially for families with young children.

Over the course of the last two years I have seen the number of women on shooting ranges rise sharply. Not so long ago a women or an entire family was rare site at a firearm range. Not anymore, it is quite common now to see couples and families enjoying the shooting sport together. Even in the field the presence of women is noticed. Each year I seem to encounter more women or couples dressed in camouflage hunting as a team. Here in British Columbia hunting and the shooting sport have truly become a family activity and I couldn’t be more pleased about the current trend.

As hunter education instructor and dedicated in the recruitment of new and young hunters I welcome the BC governments move to make hunting more accessible for beginners by waiving the mandatory hunter education course for the first year. I always believed that the mandatory hunter education course is one of the biggest obstacles in the recruitment of new hunters. With the new law young and new hunters are permitted to purchase a hunting license and go hunting with a veteran hunter in procession of the mandatory hunter number. This gives new and young hunters the opportunity to try hunting out for one year and if they like it they can enroll in the mandatory hunter education course to obtain their own hunter number and can purchase their own hunting license.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008


© By Othmar Vohringer

The past week has been busy for Heidi and me. On Saturday, August 30, my wife and I visited the Merritt country fair and rodeo. The event started with a parade trough the town core. It was not a big parade but very nicely done. Where else do you see the Mayor of a small town riding ahead of the parade on an ATV handing out candy to the kids? The parade offered plenty of cheerful subjects of Heidi armed with the camera.

After the parade we headed out to the rodeo grounds. That was my little piece of heaven. Not many people know that, but one of my childhood dreams was to become a professional rodeo rider. As things often go in life I choose a different career, but rodeo remains to this day the only sport I truly care about. In my humble opinion rodeo is the only sport I can think of that separates the man from the boys.

After Sunday it was back to work again. Most of the remaining long weekend I spent locked up in my office writing articles and query letters to hunting magazine editors. Between writing I worked on the “Outdoors with Othmar Vohringer” website. Finally, I am done with it. It took over a year to get this project finish. Time and again I changed layouts and graphics until I arrived at something that I am proud of and that I am sure the visitors will like. All that now remains to do is to edit all the writing, which will take about a month or so to get it perfect.

On Tuesday I purchased a new video camera, arriving at home I spent much of the day studying the manual and testing all the functions on the camera. After two days I still just barely have a grasp of what this new generation video cameras are capable of doing. In the end though it will be worth the trouble and headaches. I have planed for some time now to make my own videos for the seminars, hunter education courses and for the website. What the videos are about shall not be revealed at the moment. Suffice to say that the videos will be educational and entertaining to watch. I will write more about this endeavor as time goes on and enough footage has been collected, edited and put on the new website and here on this blog. Before I got started with planning and script writing I asked hunters from all over North America what they would like to see in a video. The information I gathered will be taken to heart and reflected in my future video work.

Today, Wednesday, Heidi and I drove to a new lake that we never have visited before. Low and behold we saw trout, big trout, jumping every few seconds. So guess where I will be taking our boat tomorrow morning early. I still want for Heidi to catch her first fish. The last time out fishing she came very close but then the fish, a beautiful trout, made one last leap and came of the barb less hook. No cigar. Well that’s fishing for you. You lose some and you win some. With the trout jumping as they did today Heidi may have a good chance of reeling one in the boat tomorrow. The regulations say that we can use barbed hooks on this lake and that will make it easier for a novice to prevent the fish from coming loose again.

On Saturday it is off to the shooting range with my brand new shotgun, the rifle and the bow. The new shotgun needs to be patterned and the rifle has a new scope that needs to be sighted in. Once that it all done I need to shoot my bow with broadheads on the arrows. I have been shooting with field up to now to get back into archery shape. There will be lots of shooting on Saturday, all day long. Hunting season opens here on September 10 and I will be ready for it come storm or high water. On previous scouting trips I have seen many nice bucks and lots of does. My scouting trips for grouse have yielded encouraging results too. Like I said, after Saturday my shotgun, rifle, bow and me will be ready to tap into that bountiful supply of delicious table fare.

On the Whitetail Deer Passion blog I have added a new feature called “Weekly Smart Hunting Strategy Tips”. Each week I will write a column about some of the things that have helped me to become a better deer hunter. I welcome tips and tricks from my readers and fellow outdoor bloggers that would like to contribute to that weekly feature. The email address to contact me can be found in the right had panel of this and all my other blogs.

The way things shape up I fear the next week will be as busy as the one just past. My regular contributions to this blog may suffer a bit because of upcoming hunting season and all the other commitments that have me pretty much tied down for a while but I will make an honest effort to keep you all posted and updated.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Fishing Notebook

© By Othmar Vohringer

For the past few weeks I have been a bit concerned about the whereabouts of my good blogging friend Mel, or Eagle Eye as he was known on his Trout Hunter blog. He hadn’t posted on his blog for sometime and then when I went back on Saturday to see if he had posted the blog was gone.

My first thought was, “Oh no, don’t tell me another good blog disappeared from the blog sphere.” My next thought was, “I hope Mel is all right and well.” Then a day later I got an email from Mel in which he tells me that he has a new blog called The Fishing Notebook.

Of course I visited right away with some relief in my heart that Mel is back with yet another new blog and layout. In his email to me he writes, that the new blog will be similar to his old blog but a bit more laid back. On The Fishing Notebook Mell will write more about his memories and experiences as a veteran fisherman of over 35 years.

I am looking forward to read Mel’s fishing notes from the past, present and in the future. In fact, I have been hoping since I first read his old blog that Mel would write about his vast experience as a fisherman. I am sure that many of us could learn from this all around- bin there-done that fishing guru. I most certainly could benefit from his expertise in the pursuit of the majestic trout.

Please take a minute or two, or three, and visit The Fishing Notebook. Say hello to Mel and that I sent you there.

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