Rebecca’s Field Journal

Trading Waders for Camo

by Rebecca on September 20, 2010

in Rebecca's Field Journal

~ Dale aka Snowball and I ~

At the beginning of Sept. I skipped town once again and headed for no mans land middle Oregon for an Elk hunting trip in which I never had to carry my own bow. I wasn’t hunting on this trip, but rather there to hang out with great people and offer a few of my extraordinary talents to the hunting party.

Whats that? You would like to know what my extraordinary talents are? Well, for one thing, I have undisputed super hearing abilities, a real talent for hearing Bull Elk bugling from a distance when no one else can. Second, I was in charge of cow calling any potential Bulls at a perfect broadside distance from Snowball. And lastly, I brought along my dazzling photography and video skills to catch all the action. (Shhh, I know! They musta missed all the entries here where I bemoan the entire photography gig)

Elk were aplenty from day one and remained so until an arrow went flying from Snowballs bow next to the last day of our schedule trip. Not a day went by that we didn’t hear and engage with Bulls that were all tuned up and singing their distinctive bugles.

The ElkCruiser was not immune to the Adobe Bricks

We had great weather, we had rainy weather. We learned quickly is that if you take 1 part Oregon clay dirt and mix in 1 skiff of rain you end up with hiking and driving conditions that make for an interesting afternoon.

There’s nothing like hiking 20 steps and building up a 5 lb adobe brick on each boot to work out the old ass muscles. An additional bonus to the adobe boot bricks was with a swift outward karate chop type kick, one could potentially release said brick from boot sending it flying through the air to knock out Slayer who always walked in front of Snowball and I.

Snowball and I thought it was hilarious fun, Slayer…not so much. Occasional boot brick fights broke out, but when it was all said and done, no one suffered a special blend of Oregon mud concussion.

Slayer locating the Bulls

Slayer was the official Bull caller who sported his Outdoor Dick “Don’t be a Rut Jockey” sweatshirt the whole trip. Without a doubt he has a special talent for it. Not a day went by that he didn’t summon up several bulls that were in a randy mood for us to chase around. Snowball and I simply had to set up and wait for the festivities to stampede towards us.

I know the guys didn’t appreciate them as much as I did, but I happened to get the biggest kick out of the satellite bulls —spikes and raghorns– Several times we would be inside the kitchen of a Big Bull, bugles screaming, a tough stand off happening and suddenly a stampede of 3 or so bachelor Bulls would come racing around the ridge like they just crashed their first keg with the promise of loose ladies in attendance. Careless, wild-eyed, and vibrating with excitement. Then they would wind us and all the fun would be over in their loud exit.

~Barbara aka Camp Mama and Camp Shadow~

Snowball, Slayer and I were lucky hunters in that each night we would come off the mountain and return to Elk camp to the smells of a big dinner. We had our very own Camp Mama spoiling us rotten each day, filling our stomachs with good eats and generally making sure no one keeled over on the hillside from starvation. You can only live for so long on Snicker bars and Diet Coke…so I’m told.

A piece of advice to all who read this. Everyone should have their own Camp Mama on all adventures. It brightens the whole trip!

Snowball & Slayer on the Trout Pond

We did take one afternoon away from chasing elk around the mountain and visited a smallish trout pond with Fly Rods in hand. A 10 incher was a real trophy and for fish that can’t possibly get much pressure, the little guys gave us a run for our money. We figured it would be easy pickins and it wasn’t, but we certainly caught a fair amount of beautiful little trout before it was time to climb back up the mountain. Maybe they were dissing us because we still had our hunting camo on…

As I spent my days in the midst of archery nirvana, I couldn’t help but compare the many similarities between fly fishing and archery. To catch the big fish or to pursue the big bulls, conditions have to be pretty optimal and both situations leave little room for error. A bad presentation, whether a fly on the water or the angle an elk comes in can make or break the whole deal.

A good example of that scenario is this snippet video I took on the trip. As always, forgive the bad photography…or in this case, video quality. A steady hand when I’m crawling around on the ground is hard to come by. But, when the video really counted, I held steady. This Bull should have stopped, broadside, when I first called, but of course, he didn’t!
Thank you Slayer for putting this little piece together for me to share.

Rebecca

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~The Tree of my Terror...Me, Dale in the Tree, and Robert~

~The Tree of my Terror...Me, Dale in the Tree, and Robert~

Morning and Evening Hunt~ 
6 Bull Elk
12 Cow
7 Moose
So many Mule deer I lost track

The morning hunt was utterly unremarkable. Nothing to even report.

This evening I was banished to the tree stand. I knew this moment would come despite my reservations and feeble attempts at hinting that I wasn’t so sure I, who has a slight aversion to heights, would enjoy hunting from a tree stand. Both Dale and Robert assured me it was easy, no problem, I was gonna love it. I don’t think they understand the concept of  internal fears, but I was willing to give it a try, the old climb, conquer and get over it theory.

My banishment started at 4:30 this evening. I slowly climbed the mountain to the tree stand taking my own sweet time hoping for some sort of reason, like a bull elk bugling somewhere, anywhere, that would force me to abandon the tree stand idea and head off on a new adventure. No such luck.

I climbed the ladder without much trouble, I think I even felt a bit of triumphant accomplishment when I arrived at the platform part of the ladder. That elation however was short lived. I leaned over and hung my hunting pack on the tree peg and than proceeded to stand properly on the platform. The minute I put two feet on the platform and turned around, life as I knew it ceased to exists.  I should have checked if Aetna or Aviva health insurance companies had a ‘falling from tree’ clause to cover me just in case. So I quickly sat my arse down, pressed my back against the tree, encircled my arms behind me to hold onto the tree for dear life, let my bow dangle from it’s strap around my neck and closed my eyes. No, life was no longer peaches and cream, it became more of a heart palpitations and cold sweat mixture of hell.

1 hour and 25 minutes….that’s 1,2, 3, 4……85 minutes of minute by painful minute pure terror. That’s exactly how long my adventure in panic and anxiety lasted.  It would have been shorter if I could have dug in my pack and grabbed my GPS unit to call for an emergency evacuation, but that would have required serious movement and I couldn’t do that!

So I sat there. And sat there. And sat there some more envisioning all the ways I would die in that tree stand. I figured either 1) I would fall and die 2) A branch would fall on my head and I would die 3) A bear would climb the tree and eat me and I would die 4) No one would ever come looking for me and I would starve to death up there and then the Sheriff would wonder why I starved to death considering there was a perfectly good Snickers bar in the backpack I wouldn’t dare reach for – regardless, I die 5) Heart Attack and I die 6) My bow strap was going to strangle me and then I would die………….and so on and so forth. You know, only the type of things an overly active and panicked mind could conjure up.

I was so frozen to my spot I was sure roots had grown out my ass, attached themselves to the seat and I would never, ever get off that stand. As far as hunting was concerned, a dream 400 class Bull could have sauntered up underneath my tree, grazed on some grass, laid down for a nap, bugled all his buddies in to stare at me and I would have simply yelled, “HELP ME damn you!”

Finally the worst and I guess (now) best thing could have happened. On about minute number 81, a hard wind kicked up suddenly and my stationary form of torture instantly became a new improved version of Nightmare on Tree Street. The tree started swaying back and forth, and that was enough to inspire a new form of motivation called, “get the f*ck out of the moving tree, even if it means doing a swan dive off the platform.”

At this point, I can’t even remember getting out of the tree. I think my mind has blocked it, repressed the nightmarish memory, but I’m here, clearly alive. There is only one last thing to say.  Dirt is my new best friend and trees the enemy. If I am to hunt out of a tree stand in the future, Robert will need to build me a four star tree house complete with shutters and a wrap around deck.

Signed, Non-negotiable,
Rebecca

For an explanation about my Outdoor Journal Series:
Please visit Outdoor Journal-An Introduction

For those seeking legit and helpful advice about tree stands and such, I suggest visiting Ben G Outdoors website for reviews about tree stands and other hunting tips!

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Outdoor Journal: Elk Hunting

by Rebecca on October 22, 2009

in Rebecca's Field Journal

First Day of Elk Hunting—-Finally!!
Morning Hunt Animals Seen:
3 Moose (1 Huge Bull Moose)
9 Deer
1 group of 3 bulls by themselves
5X5 bull at 65 yards
Another herd of 6 Elk
All by 10:30 a.m.

~On the Hunt~

~On the Hunt~

Dale and I got into excessive noise trouble right out the gate by talking too loud in the truck this morning. We not only got the ‘look’ from Noise Police Robert, but also a verbal reprimand. Now, we swear we were talking in hushed tones, but Robert seemed to think we were practically yelling. Good thing Robert can’t give legit noise tickets.

We drove around, a little scouting, a little binocular action, a little getting a feel of the lands. A nice way to start a hunting season off at ungodly morning hours. We finally settled on one area to establish our hiking legs and get some air in our lungs. A place aptly nicknamed “Forgotten Arrow Ridge” after my shameful and notorious greenhorn mistake of last year……..the time I had a Bull walk up to me at 15 yards and I brought archery shame (I’ll never live down) on myself by forgetting to put an arrow on before I drew my bow back (I’ll elaborate on that story another day)……..

Back to today. We went walking along Forgotten Arrow Ridge, Dale and I, keeping pace with Robert who was calling randomly to the elk. In my humble opinion Dale and I were walking quietly and we never got an all out ‘look’ from Robert. That is success in itself!

We eventually stopped and after one of Roberts calls, I heard a Bull respond back. Since no one else heard it besides me there were “questions’ of whether I was just hearing the bugles echo. I don’t know what it will take to convince these boys that there is no way in hell I would mistake such a sound because the implications of pointing down a hill and saying, “I hear one down there” means I’ll be sent “down there” and I’m not bailing off the side of a Mountain for any other reason then a legit Elk! No way. I never mention a bugle response unless I’m 100% positive.

It took a few more calls, but soon enough Robert and Dale both heard the Bull as well (HA) and off we went. Our timing was not good nor was the wind and within minutes Dale stopped me and pointed deep into a timber pocket. The Bull was stopped, staring directly at the hunting party trying to surprise him. Essentially, we were busted before we began, but Robert never cries uncle unless he watches a Bull running away so we sorta set up the best we could. Robert slithered back about 20 yards so he could call. Dale was right in front of me so he was front man on the shot and I sat directly behind Dale as back up.

Despite this movement, the Bull never budged an inch. He was about 65 yards away through branches and downfall. Personally, I don’t think we had him fooled for a second, but who knows in those situations. Now, usually a person sets up long before the Bull is staring at you wondering whatcha doin? So we were in a bit of a visual bind.

I being mere inches from Dale could tell he was doing required things…. Arrow out of holder….arrow on bow….bow sling unlatched….coat readjusted…and finally, his release was stuck up inside his coat sleeve and he was trying to get it loose. But from way behind in Roberts view, all he could see was major movement going on. I should also mention, Dales hat is a wide 360 degree camo hat. According to Robert the movement alone from this hat reminded him of a Bobble-head. Basically, a strobing beacon of HUNTER RIGHT HERE –RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Three times. Three times I braved extremely slow turns of my head to look at Robert behind us. These were not pleasant glances at him. At one look, and let me see if I can describe this correctly…Robert made a finger slashing motion across his throat that implied our impending deaths.  There were a few other threatening warnings as well. Eye piercings that practically popped Roberts eyeballs out of the sockets, hand signals and mouthed words I won’t repeat in protection of my new journal here. I did not mistake any of his signals for anything less than a thorough ass chewing with a side of possible death we–as in Dale and I through guilt by inches association—would receive once this was over.

I even whispered to Dale, “We are so going to get in trouble once this is over and I’m hiding behind you.”

Finally, after all of that, the Bull slowly, casually even, turned around and walked proudly away. Laughing I’m sure. At this point I slowly, fearfully turned around and prepared for a lashing. Remarkably our dear Robert forgot his throat slashing promises and walked up to us….smiling actually! I was amazed.

It took awhile, but the teasing commenced from Robert. Teasing we can handle anytime, all part of hunting. Robert has nicknamed the experience and Dale, ”Bobblehead” and swears he’s buying Dale a new hat. We all lived, including the Bull and had a great time.

Now if I could just convince them to call that ridge Bobble-head instead of Forgotten Arrow all would be good. Can’t wait for tonights hunt.

Rebecca

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Outdoor Journal: An Introduction

by Rebecca on October 22, 2009

in Rebecca's Field Journal

~Rebecca's Outdoor Journal~

~Rebecca's Outdoor Journal~

The official Explanation ~

On August 15th 2007, I started a handwritten field journal of my hunting and fishing experiences. That day happened to be the opening day of Antelope season and I have packed my little brown leather journal with me on every trip since.

I’ve shared my handwritten field journal with several people and each of them has expressed I should share it with a wider audience.

I think the reason they enjoyed it so much was because my field journal IS NOT just full of successful trophy kills and record shattering fish (but those moments are in there as well), but it’s an authentic daily account of what hunters and fisherman really go through outdoors. A lot of things go on between showing up, and taking the proud picture of your tagged elk or fish.

Truth is, there’s a whole lotta  good, bad, ugly and sometimes absolutely hilarious events surrounding outdoor adventures.

In my field journal, I’ve spared no details because at the end of the day, all the little details are what add up to the big moment (and sometimes, no triumphant moment at all) and I’ll be sharing those entries here at The Outdooress.

For the moment I’ll grab a few random tidbits from my journal to illustrate whats to come via this new Outdoor feature~

Mini-excerpts from my journal:

…….”I packed for hunting 2 days ago even though I know we aren’t leaving for another 5 days. I don’t care. I am like a child who stares at a Christmas tree, obsessively, 5 days before the 25th anticipating all the presents below it”………

…….”three times I braved extremely slow turns of my head to look at Robert behind us. These were not pleasant glances at him. At one look, and let me see if I can describe this correctly…Robert made a finger slashing motion across his throat that implied our impending deaths”………

…..”dirt is my new best friend and trees the enemy. If I am to hunt out of a tree stand in the future, Robert will need to build me a four star tree house complete with shutters and a wrap around deck”………….

…….”I gritted my teeth, said a prayer for my raw feet, never spoke a word and hiked out. Truth is, if I were a horse they could have shot me on the side of the mountain and claimed mercy kill. Totally within legal limits”……..

……”When I returned, Robert guiltily approached me holding several pieces of my precious flyrod in his now murderous hands. I didn’t beat him within an inch of his life with the pieces,  but I wanted to”….. 

…..”Dale said it was an “emergency guy sacrifice”. I imagine the next male hunter to come along that ridge and step across that pair of cut up, Calvin Klein tidy whiteys (that aren’t so white now) will have full and instant understanding of what happened once at that very spot”…….

 …..”today I hiked down Purgatory Ridge, cut West across Hells Teeth and entered Dante’s Inferno by way of crawling down the rocks on my hands and knees. Once I got all the way into this form of hunting hell I radioed out on my GPS unit, offering to sell my soul to the nearest devil for an emergency evacuation but not even Satan himself responded. Alas, I hiked back out by way of Never, Ever, Gonna End ridge and pledged, should I survive, ‘be ye never so stupid again’ …………………..

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Elk Finger Steaks Recipe

October 21, 2009

Growing up one of my favorite meals was Elk Finger Steak night. My Mom isn’t sure where this recipe originated from and that’s fine by me. As far as I’m concerned, she was crowned Queen of the Elk Finger Stakes when I was little and that’s where she’ll reign forever. I asked her to share [...]

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Irrational Pursuit of Elusive Antelope

October 21, 2009

It seems to me that sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, irrational efforts and hunting/fishing go hand in hand. The pursuit of an elusivespot, un-populated destinations, or the regular run of the mill super secret honey hole has some of us performing acts of utter insanity to stake our claims. I know Robert and I can’t be [...]

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