Fur, Feathers and Empty Freezers 2011


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Like many on this site, I can't perk a pot of coffee without the aroma bringing me back or taking me to the last or the next hunting adventure. It is true. The fumes produced by hot water trickling through finely ground Colombian, and the memories those fumes produce, feed the hunger of my soul. My name is Todd, and I am a hunter.

I don't hunt for big racks although I'm not going to lie and say I don't love to hunt animals with big racks. I don't hunt to kill things but I'm not going to say the predator in me doesn't enjoy being a predator. I don't hunt to feed my family but I can't say my family doesn't love and depend on the meat. The only reason I do it is because it's what I do.

I am an over weight, out of shape, not the greatest shot in the world, I don't have top of the line equipment, I buy used when I can, I've blown more stalks on animals then any one person deserves to stalk, I've never been the Best Man in a wedding but have been in the line in lots, 98.3% of the girls I've asked on dates said ?No! with a capital N and an exclamation mark, I've never killed what would be considered a monster (yet), type of hunter.

I hunt with my dog. Like me, he is fat and out of shape. He also has a mild case of IBS and a little more severe case of K-9 epilepsy. But he is good company and I'm pretty sure he'd let a bear eat him first, but that's up for a little bit of debate. So if you're on top of a beautiful mountain and your hunt is interrupted by an intrusive big guy hacking, snorting, snotting and coughing with his dog that might be having a seizure, we are just fine. Just catching our breath.

And we would love for you to join us on our 2011 adventures.




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Part 2, What to Hunt and Shifting Gears?.

This year?s hunting schedule so far?.
Utah general archery buck and spike/cow elk.. For my job I work 7 days on then get 7 days off. This is my vacation hunt this year. I will have 21 straight days of no work and all play.

Colorado 2nd season left over Unit 21 cow tag.. Because of my work schedule, I only have the last 4 days of season off. A lot can happen in 5 minutes, let alone 4 days?

New Mexico 2nd season Unit 30 buck? I can't wait for this one. My Dad and Uncle as well as myself drew this tag. Even though it's not a trophy unit per say, it will be time well spent with family. I'll have to do some research before I let Gauge (the bow hunting) Gun Dog Sr. along on this hunt as I don't know how the rattle snakes will be come November.

Colorado Late season Unit 10 cow tag. This is my Colorado list A tag this year. The title of this HAC mentions empty freezers, but more on that later. My wife also drew this tag and it will be her first hunt ever.

Three elk tags and two buck tags will make for a fun year.

Here?s the shifting gears part. For the last decade I have used traditional bows to bow hunt. It's what worked for me and I have had great fun and success using recurves. I read an article in Bugle Magazine several years ago and the Author of that article wrote a great line that has stuck with me. ?Recurves and long bows require true love. A compound is a mistress? or something along those lines. I start archery practice right after the rifle seasons to stay tuned in with the stick bows. The last couple years however, my true love was shifted to my new (married April of 2010) wife and daughter (born August 2010) and I wouldn't trade them for anything. 2010 I didn't bow hunt because of my daughter?s birth and because of my limited time and a painful rotator cuff injury, I haven't practiced near enough to use traditional bows this year. My girls are definitely worth the priority shift..


So it's compounds this year for me. I guided a fella years ago that was a rep for the Oregon Bow Co., and my tip included a top of the line Oregon custom bow. An Oregon Black Knight was sure a gem of the day and also one of the fastest. Oregon Bow Co. was bought out by Bowtech. I shot it a little and even killed a cow elk with it in 1999, but it's done nothing but collect dust for the last 10 years. And even though I feel like I'm cheating on my wife with a first cousin, I am having loads of fun tinkering with all the techno stuff again. So much so, I feel like in this case my first cousin is Jennifer Aniston. In the long run, it's all bow hunting and I'm going to enjoy every second of it.

I doctored her up a little with some new sights, peep, whisker biscuit and quiver. She's a little heavy for today?s standards but funds are a little tight and a new bow is not in the cards. Plus there is nothing wrong with this one.


I have plenty of arrows as I shoot carbon Gold Tip 55/75 out of my recurves with plenty of tip weight. I was going to use them as they were with the 5? feathers, but the whisker biscuit was eating the feathers up so I also purchased and Arizona EZ fletcher and some 4? vanes. They look a little out of place with the wood grain and all but they are what I have and I doubt a deer or elk?s lungs will be able to tell the difference.



The next few days I will be fine tuning my bow and lots of shooting?

Plenty more to come?..



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I had to fashion a paper tuner out of some duct tape and a chunk of floor trim that I stole from behind the couch. Hopefully my wife won't notice? Being from Northwest Colorado and all, the nearest archery shop is pretty far away. I used freezer paper and potato chip bag clips to get the job done..


It wasn?t long and the Oregon Black knight was punching a pretty hole in the paper. There is a bit of difference between the field tips and broadheads. I attribute that to my arrows are a bit weak spined for the bow but I still get really good arrow flight.




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Equipment and gear?.

I'm feeling pretty confident my bow is tuned and ready to go so it's time to make sure all my gear is ready to go. Over the years I have found what works best for me and I'm pretty set in my ways when it comes down to it.
I really like my Badlands pack. I don't know what model it is but it is internal framed and is capable of taking a load out if I get lucky on a hunt. I have even packed out a whole deer on it once. It wasn?t a big buck but a heavy load none the less. It handles an elk quarter really nice.

The buck loaded on the Badlands pack.

For me, the single most important piece of equipment is my boots and I LOVE Danner Pronghorns.. I've worn out a few pair and covered many many miles in them. A great all around boot in my opinion.


It's awesome Utah finally done away with their unlawful ?temporary game preserve? law so I will be packing a Ruger SP 101 in .327 Federal. It's compact and powerful.


Other equipment in my pack is game bags, Cabelas head lamp, GPS, extra batteries, small first aid kit, lighter, para cord and knives. I carry a case double X pocket knife and my favorite hunting knife is a 1950?s model Case XX folder. I have had great luck with the DMT fine/extra fine sharpener. My Uncle gave me a replaceable blade knife and I'm going to give that an honest evaluation this year as well. Hopefully.



Optics wise I'll use Meopta 8x42 binos, Bushnell rangefinder and Burris compact spotting scope.


For broadheads, I am going to use 100 gr. Cabelas Laser pro Mag broadheads. A good solid head that won't break the bank and they have held up to a few dirt shots as well.



All in all I should be ready to go!



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Well I've been shooting a lot and my old bow developed some problems. Turns out sitting around for a decade with not much care or use is not so much of a good thing for something so ?developed?. The ol? girl started falling apart. The string that was brand new when I quit shooting it started to fray badly, and she started to creek and groan a little upon draw. The scary part was the creeks and groans that would last a second or two past the shot. Turns out I was developing a bit of a flinch per say. So after some duct tape, a tube of string wax, a half a tube of super glue and a bunch of chanting to the bow Gods I had to retire the darned thing.

I didn't know what I was going to do. I couldn't really afford a new bow and I didn't want to buy a used bow and I hadn't practiced enough to use my recurves. It's funny how things turn out sometimes. The very night I decided my bow wasn?t up to the task of hunting this year and during the process of developing an ulcer worrying about it my phone rang. It was my work asking if I could cover somebody else calling in sick! Buddy I was there! I spent the better part of the night researching ?bows on a budget? and came to conclusion Bear Archery Products is actually putting out good compounds these days compared to 10 years ago. I had all the equipment already and I decided I was going to purchase the Bear Strike. Everything I read said it was a good bow for the money and I gotta tell ya, I'm way happy with it. It's way smooth and took a total of 10 arrows to paper tune. I love it and its a little extra fuel for the fire..


Now I should be ready to go!



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The Hunt?. Utah Archery?..

The night shifts leading up to the hunt were unbearable. Not so much as the 4 hour drive on no sleep to the bound destination of South-Eastern Utah. The Lasals are my home. In no time camp was spiked and I was off to bed.


I arrived at camp on August 25. After camp was set up I spent the rest of the day visiting old friends and catching up on the life and times of days past. What great times hunting camps produce much past the hunting part. August 26 was my daughter?s first birthday so the hunting didn't start until the 27th and really there is nothing to report the first week. Hot temps and not much activity made for slow hunting. Lots of miles walked and no close calls nor even so much as an arrow knocked.
My family came up to camp for Labor Day weekend and I pretty much visited and spent time with them.


The little bit of time I did go hunting Momma would entertain Addy with a wheeler ride here and there, and even got a little creative with the car seat so they could both enjoy the ride a little better.



The family went home on Monday and it was time to get serious about the elk hunting. Oh yea, ididmanagetogetashotata3x3buckovertheweekendbutitdidn'tworkoutlikeIplanned. Just thought I would throw that in there real quick like.

Tuesday was nothing but rain. It rained pretty much all day and it rained hard. Even so, I couldn't help but to keep trying. I didn't have much intention of shooting anything in the rain and much to Gauges dismay; we pounded the ridges anyhow looking for a good starting point for the next days hunt.


Wednesday morning found Gauge and I in a sweet little hole at daylight. The walk in was wet and dark but the stars were bright and the crack a dawn found elk bugling all around. What a welcome treat. I worked close to the closest bull bugling and started hammering my cow call. An adolescent bugle way close by started the heart beating fast and warmed my cold wet legs. I got real excited when the social elk coming was a SPIKE!!! The shooting light was excellent but the sun was still a couple minutes from peaking the horizon. I ranged the spike and few spots close to him and when he worked broadside at 29 yards, I drew my bow and settled the 30 yard pin on the dark tuft that covered his heart. I released the arrow and a little oak limb I didn't see in the excitement slapped my arrow to the ground like a lightning bolt thrown from Zeus himself. What a great morning regardless.

I continued to work the wind bound and determined to find more elk. About midday the wind shifted and it was time to work back to the truck. Not long after the wind shift I was slowly working the oak brush and noticed a dark brown ear flick in a pretty open clump of oaks. The Meopta binos revealed what I had suspected. A bedded cow! I knocked an arrow and ranged the gal. 41 yards was a great opportunity. I chirped softly and when the cow finally stood, I drew my bow. I had a small gap through the oaks I needed to squeeze the arrow through but in doing so the shot would be perfect in the kill zone. When things felt perfect I sent the goldtip on its way. The arrow looked good but the ?THWACK? sound the arrow produced was a sure sign I didn't make the shot. That oak tree stopped the arrow like it might as well have been stopped by Thor himself swinging his hammer.

At the end of the day I had to give thanks for good clean misses. However, I don't feel I really missed either shot this day. I just hit stuff I wasn?t aiming at.

The best part of camping in my mind is the Dutch oven cooking. I LOVE to warm up the Dutch ovens. Not every meal has to be an epic. A simple burger and fries done on the camp chef after a long day is a meal fit for a king.



Of course the deserts done correctly are heavenly. Here is an upside down cake pie that is awesome. The biggest secret when doing deserts in Dutch ovens is lining the oven with freezer paper wax side up. Trim the paper to fit, pour in the cake mix, when the cake is close to done but not quite cut a hollow in the cake and pour in the fruit. Most only do a single fruit dish but I have always liked to do a multi-fruit mixture. This one was blueberry and apple with a yellow cake mix and it was awesome!







Anyhow, back to the hunting?.

On the last day of elk season, September 9th, we (my buddy was with me) were working the aspen dead fall in search of elk. During mid-day however, we had one of those four season storms blow in and even though the day started out hot it ended in a rain, hail, snow storm. After the storm broke we decided it was a perfect time for some still hunting. That's when we decided to hit the aspen dead fall.



Anyhow, while working the dead fall timber, I stepped up on a log and noticed movement to my right. All season I had a 3 point or better rule on the bucks. I ranged the deer at 40 yards before I looked to see if it was even a buck. The deer had its head stuffed in the thick undergrowth and I couldn't see its head. I felt confident I could sneak a few yards closer and not only would it be a better shooting platform but I should be able to see this deer better and have a better shot angle. I slowly worked a few yards closer and raised my binos to inspect. I knocked an arrow quietly when the deer turned out to be a nice two year old three point. I drew my bow and sent yet another arrow?.

It has always been awesome to me how a well-placed arrow can take the life of an animal so fast, clean and drama free. It was over for the buck within a few seconds and well within sight. What an awesome day and experience all around and while he is not a monster he is to me and will go a long way on the empty freezer part of the HAC.


It always sucks breaking camp. But its required for the next season to get here!


The elk won out on this journey but I have one more buck tag and two more elk tags in my pocket.
Up next, ?. Colorado 2nd season cow.

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