Oct 21, 2013

Saskatchewan Waterfowl Hunt 2013 - Just a Teaser

Well we made it home safe and sound from a week long Waterfowl hunting trip to Saskatchewan with Living Sky Outfitters in Bladworth SK.  I am still struggling to put this trip and experience into words and have almost 50gb of video to sort through and hundreds of pictures so for now here are some pics and a short video clip to get everyone excited.

Took this after our snow goose hunt were we stopped 5 birds short of a 5 man limit of 100 birds and just continued to watch thousands and thousands of snow geese work over our spread.

Sunset Toll

This Picture is only a small portion of the field across the street from one of our morning hunts and it was literally covered in snows, black geese and ducks - lots of ducks.  We still managed to take our share of birds this morning.   It was an incredible site and the picture doesn't do it justice.
The X

Just a few pics of the snows that kept coming after we stopped hunting.  We just laid back and enjoyed the show.

Yes, they have more then just ducks and geese at this waterfall factory.  We saw moose, deer grouse and plenty of other wildlife.  This nice young muley was trying to hid just a mere 40 yards off a dirt farm road.  He definitely blended in and let us take soem pics and video of him.

Here is a short video clip of a few ducks working our spread after we just finished a 5 man limit of 40 ducks.  Took this one with my cell phone under the hood of the layout while we stayed setup for some geese.

There will be many more posts from this trip to come over the next couple of weeks!

Oct 12, 2013

Gone Hunting - Saskatchewan Here We Come

It's finally here!  We are on our way to Saskatchewan for a week of waterfowl hunting and hopefully sore shoulders and full bellies!  I will do my best to post a daily update either here, on my twitter feed or on my facebook page and I'm sure I will have plenty of stories to tell and pictures to share when we get back.

Wish us luck!

For now we are "Long Gone To Saskatchewan!" - Corb Lund!

Oct 10, 2013

Another First - Weekend Recap

Spent the weekend in the woods with the boys again.  I truly enjoy hunting with my kids and hunters new to the sport as it allows me to see many firsts through their eyes which just streghtens my passion for the outdoors.  This weekend they were both  bow hunting!  Brandon has been practicing and very confident in his shooting so this was his first bow hunt ever.

Brandon and Brendan after a morning hunt

There was no problem getting the boys up and moving Saturday morning even if there were some light showers in the area.  Brendan offered up his blind for Brandon to use on his first bowhunt and considering Brendan had deer encounters during ever sit in this blind, Brandon was definitely excited.   As Brandon and I were sneaking into the ground blind I heard the all too familar sound of a deer snort which stopped me in my tracks.  I turned to look at Brandon and he had a concerned look on his face and wasn't sure what he just heard.  I explained to him that it was a deer snorting at us and he looked less nervous and more confused.  As we stood there I could hear deer moving in the brush just out past the ground blind and then it happened again. Brandon kind of giggled and said it sounded like a train whistle.  I never thought of that, but I guess it kind of does sound like a train whistle - okay not really - it sounds like a deer snort!  After the last snort we heard the deer crashign away so we once again attempted to be quiet and made the last 50 yards to the blind and got all tucked in for a sit.

With the rain still dripping from the wet leaves and trees it made hearing anything impossible so we spent the next 3 hours on high alert only to not see anything.  This wasn't a bad thing, as I spent that time coaching Brandon through and trying to teach him some simple things like marking his yardage, how to scan the woods, paying attention to the wind, etc.  I did also take the time to reminsce about the first time I hear a deer bleat and told Brandon I swore it was a sheep in the middle of the woods.

About 9:30 I headed over to where Brendan was setup and we took a little walk around the back part of the state land to get Brendan reoriented with that piece of state land.  We stopped by the swamp and the beavers have a done a bangup job with their damn making a really nice puddle duck spot and we most certainly saw some ducks in there which will make a nice early morning hunt before work.  The colors along the swamp were really starting to pop and the picture doesn't do it any justice sorry.

We found some fresh rubs and some good sign and an interesting living space made by something, not sure what though.  We never moved a deer but we did finally run into a couple of other hunters on the far back part of the state land and we chatted with them and shared a little information, not all of it though.

Brandon had to head out to work that afternoon so after watching our Penn State Nittany Lions lose to Indiana Brendan and I decided we needed a calming place so back out to the woods we went.  It was hot and buggy but it beat being home doing chores.  We didn't see a thing, but we did hear something that sounded like heavy breathing off in the distance, but it is really thick around there and we never did see anything.  I'm guessing it was a Squatch as there is no other reasonable explanation. 

All in all it was a nice day in the woods!

Oct 4, 2013

My Son's First Deer with a Bow and Arrow

My son Brendan has been hunting since he was 12 years old and was out tagging along on many hunts as early as age 5. He is not new to the hunting sports in any way shape or form, but at 22 he had another first this past weekend.  This past weekend Brendan took a nice young buck with a bow on state land from the ground non the less.  This was not his first deer taken or even his first buck, but it was his first deer taken with the bow.

We found 6 piles of old moose poop in this area

Brendan has had little time in the woods during the archery season since he made the varsity football team in his Sophomore year in high school.  Those 3 years of high school football left little time for chasing deer with the bow and even the gun during most football seasons.  After graduation he headed off to college which once again left little time for hunting.  Now he is in graduate school, but living at home and finding the time to get back out in the woods on a regular basis and it has paid off for him.  He shot a nice long beard this past spring and just last weekend he arrowed his first deer with a bow.

I will do my best to tell his story with the same excitement and passion that he does, but it is so much better to listen to him tell it in person.

We are fortunate to have a few nice pieces of state land within minutes of our house and I have hunted this land for over 15 years and know my way around pretty well and spent the late summer getting Brendan reacquainted with the area and offering up some suggestions on where to hunt.  With the storms we've had the past two falls, there are plenty of new deadfalls that offer some great little ground hides in some key travel areas and I had one such deadfall picked out since last year just for this occasion.  My only concern was how much hunting pressure we would see here especially with the new additiona of crossbows being legal for everyone during the archery season.  For the first 5 days of the season, I would drive around the state forest and check for hunters on my way to work, and Brendan would do the same in the late evening on his way home from school.  In those first 5 days we did NOT see a single vehicle or hunter in the spots we wanted to hunt.  So Friday night before the first Saturday of the season, I suggested we attempt to hunt the area we'd been watching, but warned Brendan that I expected to see other hunters in the area.  It had been a long and tough week as my mother-in-law was in the hospital recovering from bypass surgery and we were getting little sleep so we overslept on Saturday and didn't get out until after first light.  Not in my original plan and I thought for sure we'd lost our spot to other hunters.  When we arrived at the gate to park I was shocked to be the only vehicle there.

Brandon trying to figure out why we are not seeing any Squirrels.

We dropped Brendan off at his ground blind and then Brandon and I headed off to hunt some squirrels.  Brandon is still learning to shoot a bow and has his safety course and license, but needs a few more weeks to gain confidence in his shooting.  About 8:30 I got a call from Brendan saying he just had a really nice buck sneak in to his blind at just 15 yards away, but has he adjusted to get a shot he got snorted by another deer he never saw.   One thing I enjoy about hunting is you learn something new every outing and every encounter with an animal and this was one of those lessons for Brendan.  As is typical with many of us that have had these encounters they haunt our dreams on a regular basis and they sure did for Brendan.  He thought he blew his only shot for the season and the season was just 6 days old!  Lesson learned.

Brendan had to wait until the next Friday to get back out to the woods and as he was sneakign into his deadfall, he got snorted again.  He didn't see anything the rest of the morning, but he did take some time to mosey around and check out the sign and just as weeks past there was plenty of fresh sign so he snuck out and decided to wait until Saturday morning to hunt it again instead of hunting it that afternoon.

The arrow tells the story!
We had a similar game plan for this past Saturday, Brandon and I would squirrel hunt allowing me to spend time teaching Brandon about hunting, scouting, safety and getting around the woods while Brendan nestled into his dead fall again.  This time Brendan made some adjustment to where he was sitting and the cover around the deadfall based on what he learned the past two sits and he obviosulty learned well and made the right decisions.  About 8:29 he texted me to check in, I texted him back a few photos of some really nice rubs. A few minutes after that text, my phone rang and it was Brendan calling.  When I answered I immediately new by the sound in is voice that he had shot at a deer.  When I heard the words "I just shot a buck", I almost started to scream with joy, but realized we had work to do and didn't want him to get too excited just yet.  So I calmed him down and gave him some coaching and told him to sit tight, don't move and watch and listen for anything.

It didn't take Brandon and I long to arrive at Brendan's deadfall where we found him standing there with a grin from ear to ear.  I calmly approached and had him walk me through what had just happened.  Brendan had just put his phone back in his pocket, heard some crunching and looked up and could see a deer moving through the thick brush on a trail that would take this deer right by Brendan's hide.  The deer stepped out of the little hemlocks which had been blocking most of Brendan's view of the deer just long enough for Brendan to see antlers and then he went into that fast shot planning mode that we all have gone through.  He waited for the deer to step behind a tree, went to full draw and as the deer made two steps from behind the tree he bleated at it and as the deer stopped and the pin settled just above the deer's heart Brendan released an arrow.  He said he heard the thud and watched the deer take off tail down.  The deer jumped two deadfalls and after the second he heard a large crash but couldn't see anything or hear anything after.  I'm not going to lie, I was a little excited at that point and was struggling to sit tight for a bit more to give the deer a little more time, but he and I needed it to clam down and get ready for the tracking job at hand.

Blood at the shot

Blood almost two feet up the tree.

I had Brendan line me up where he thought the deer was when he shot and I found no blood or sign and my heart sank into my stomach.  I thought, no way.  So I had him rethink it and I played the deer and he walked me past the shot and off in the direction he saw it run.  still no sign.  I wasn't more then about 10 steps from where he said the deer was standing when he shot, so I spun around and headed in the direction the deer had come from and I found blood.  I had Brendan come to the blood and walk it back to see exactly where the deer was standing.  He was only off about 10 feet but just enough to not find sign where he first lined me up.  I then had him look for the arrow, which is a key part to determining what type of shot you got on the deer.  I noticed a very small drop of blood going away from the blood trail and then another.  So I had Brendan follow those tiny drops and it led him right to his arrow.  Those drops of blood had come off the arrow after it passed through the buck.  Only at that point was I confident that the last jump and crash of that deer was where we would find Brendan's deer, but why pass up a training and learning opportunity so I sat back and had Brendan and Brandon follow up the blood trail as I coached from the back of the line.  They tracked it over one small dead fall and right to a second.  I decided to walk around the deadfall to the right, but stopped after a couple of steps because I could see the buck laying there dead.  Brendan caught me stop quickly and said "You see him don't you?!" and I just nodded and he looked up and there it was. The nice little 7 pointer - we refuse to give him the 8th point - didn't go more then 50 yards from a double lung complete pass thru shot.   There was as sigh of relief and some high fives and more then a few hugs and back slaps, oh and a few pictures and then the work began.  Brendan filled his tag out, and we decided to drag it out of the area and field dress it away from his hunting area so we loaded the buck on the Dead Sled and strapped Brendan in and yelled MUSH!

That Dead Sled is nice to have for dragging.

Brendan dragged the buck out and once we reached a spot far enough from his hunting area we started a new lesson on field dressing a deer.  Brendan has a degree in Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Services and is in Graduate school pursing a Masters in Occupation Therapy so he took the opportunity to turn all "Mr. Anatomy" on us and held a show and tell session showing off all the different things he learned ins school as we worked through the process of dressing the deer.  I was very impressed with his knowledge and the fact that he didn't puke as it had been almost 6 or 7 years since he last shot and field dressed a deer.

Brendan's First Archery Deer!

I'm happy he had a successful hunt for many reasons and I was glad I was there to share it, but I am extremely proud to see how well he learned from all those previous hunting trips and of course from his schooling! His passion for the outdoors is evident and growing every day,   Having fresh venison in the freezer is just icing on the cake!

Being able to share my passion for the outdoors with my kids, family and friends is really what my blog is all about and I look forward to this weeks outing as fall turkey opens up and we will try to get Brandon his first bird.  That is if I can get both of them away from the bow for a day.

It doesn't get any better then this!