A Wasatch Bull Worth 18 Years (Video Footage)

 

It has been a long time coming. Each year you try your hardest to adopt the mantra, “this is my year” while recognizing the odds are stacked against you. My dad believed it was his year for 18 years. It began in his mid-forties. To think of my dad at that age means to think of myself at 16 years old. That seems like a lifetime ago. During the past 18 years we have attempted to draw bull elk tags on the Monroe,  Book Cliffs, and San Juan units of Utah. Draw results only brought disappointment and a 12 month refresh. At times we questioned whether my dad would ever hunt big bulls in Utah by way of the draw? Each year he privately cursed the DWR. He joked that soon he was just going to run his own program. Given my dad is straight as an arrow his threats were hilariously empty.

 

Over time we learned and studied Utah’s limited entry elk units. With 16 years and 16 points under his belt our focus had shifted to the Wasatch. We accepted that other units across the state might produce bigger bulls; however, we also liked the idea of hunting in our own back yard. In a lot of ways this was a once in a lifetime hunt. We settled in on a unit that would allow us to logically put in the time scouting. We felt putting in the time outweighed the benefits of a better more distant unit.

 

After 16 years and with an affinity to all forms of hunting, my dad concluded he was willing to wait for a premium Wasatch tag. In Utah the premium tag allows you to hunt all 4 seasons. (archery, early rifle, muzzleloader, and late rifle) He didn’t draw that 16th year. In his 17th year the odds look favorable for landing a guaranteed tag. “Surely we’d be hunting this year Dad!” Again, year 17 resulted in disappointment and a 12 month refresh.

 

In his 18th year, credit cards began to get hit with pending charges. This happens several days before draw results are officially posted. To those that draw their dream tag this day is likened unto Christmas. For the rest of us it’s likened unto hell. To have your card hit represents the first clues to the year’s draw results. It looked as though another year of hell was unfolding before our eyes.  His card had zero pending charges. Can you picture it? A bunch of men and women sitting around refreshing online bank statements just waiting and begging to be charged? It’s the one time a year that I pray someone will take my money. Please, please take my money! It didn’t seem that Utah was going to take his money. After 2 days the reality of another 12 month refresh set in. 

 

All seemed lost. It was as if someone was sitting at the DWR office giggling the words “let’s jack with this guy.” It seemed to be in the last hour that my mother discovered my dad’s credit card was finally hit. The charge was indeed pending. We were going to hunt big bulls on the Wasatch in 2015! He had drawn a premium tag and his hunt would start with the upcoming archery season. How would we break the news to him? My mom printed the statement, purchased a gift card at Cabela’s, and delivered both to my dad as he attended a church function that evening. To you loved ones of a hunter… take notes! 

 

We started funneling through past video footage and past years’ trail camera pictures in an effort to take inventory. We tried to determine which bulls likely made it and which bulls were rumored to have been harvested? We weren’t going to wait for 2015’s new antler growth to start developing an early hit list. Legendary bulls from the Northwest corner of the unit to the Southeast corner of the unit began racing through our minds. We knew where we wanted to start and we patiently prepared.

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With 4 gaited horses, 12 trail cameras, four-wheelers, and several waypoints we set out for what would be many weekends and weeknights of scouting. Although fit as a whistle, my dad was experiencing severe back pain from the previous year. It flared at its worst while horse packing in on a mule deer hunt in 2014. Tough as an ox he joined us on many of our scouting trips but not all of them. I often worried that we’d mess up his back before we even got started.

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Over time our hit list grew 4 deep in addition to some alternate bulls we determined we’d take a long look at later in the hunt. We never banked on any of them sticking around so we continued to do the time. My longtime friend Evan Ault was putting in long hours as well. Help poured in from several people and we were grateful to have more eyes in the field. Bulls were turning up, horn growth was unprecedented, and this hunt was shaping up to be one for the books.

 

Going into the last week before the hunt we felt we had taken great inventory of our key hunting areas. We were confident in the bulls we were seeing although a couple key bulls on our list hadn’t shown themselves in some time. We concluded that if things didn’t shake out in our favor it wouldn’t have been for lack of effort. Things were looking up.
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The archery hunt came and went. We made attempts to bow hunt these bulls but I would say our attempts were halfhearted at best. For us it was hard to get motivated knowing we had the time and weapon selection of a premium tag. Don’t get me wrong, bow hunting is exhilarating and challenging. Bow hunting is something we love. The idea of killing a bruiser with a bow was top on the list; however, with family and work commitments we were allocating our time to the rifle season. We bow hunted weekends. 

 

I had to travel for work the week before the rifle opener. We had determined we’d rest my dad’s back as well then hit it hard the Friday before the hunt. As I traveled, Evan took one last trip into the back country. It was Tuesday. I received a text that he’d located a stud bull not previously seen. He uploaded the video to dropbox and from Seattle I sat in my hotel room drooling. This new bull’s backs couldn’t be ignored! This bull would be added to the list!

 

I couldn’t get back from Seattle soon enough. Thursday night we prepped and Friday morning we were up bright and early. We determined we would glass Friday morning, set up camp in the afternoon, and glass again that evening. We located the bull with the backs first thing Friday morning. He hadn’t moved far from his location earlier in the week. Fact is he was now moving a little bit slower. Earlier in the week he was a ruttin’ bull on a mission. 3 days later it was if he was hurt, beat down, and worn out. We figured he’d got in a fight with the wrong bull. I’d sure love to see that bull! That morning our bull fed along an opening as he walked gingerly to his bed. At this point we pegged him as a bull my dad would whack if an opportunity presented itself.

 

That afternoon we took one last look at our trail cameras in the area. There wasn’t anything notable or new coming into the cameras until we realized we had actually seen that bull in 3 previous trail cam pictures. You see the Saturday before Evan spotted this bull on the hoof, we went in and discovered 3 pictures of him on one of our trail cameras. We looked over the pictures that Saturday and said, “he’d be a bruiser if he didn’t have nubby fronts.” We didn’t put any more thought into the bull until we connected the puzzle pieces on Friday afternoon. It was the same bull. For the first time we began to question whether or not this bull should be on our hit list. We were concerned with his fronts, I was concerned with his fronts. The rest of the afternoon we evaluated the footage and the 3 trail camera pictures. Evan added this bull up to be 365” but maintained you’d never pass a bull with “backs like that.” I was less sure. My dad was just happy to be up hunting big bulls. I will never forget the smiles and the excitement expressed by my dad! 

 

That night me, Evan, and my brother in law Trevor Sharp got back to glassing. My father stayed back to cook dinner and relax his back. As we glassed we immediately located our bull with the backs. He hadn’t moved more than 100 yards. He was feeding and we were able to capture a significant amount of footage. We headed back to camp still debating whether his fronts warranted an opening morning bull. On the way back we located a bull that was also on our top 4 list. We hadn’t located this second bull in over 3 weeks so to say we were excited was an understatement.  We were able to put 2 of our Top 4 to bed the night before the opener. As we rode back to camp the wind swirled the scent of dutch oven ribs, biscuits, potatoes, vegetables, and cobbler down the canyon towards us. We were soon to partake of most spectacular elk camp dinner ever served on no tell em’ ridge!

 

That night I didn’t sleep. I’d love to blame it on the jitters but it’s mainly because I am a weirdo. My mind tends to play tricks on me when sleeping in the back country. Without further detail I will just tell you I am a pansy despite hundreds of nights in the field. To forget my ear plugs is a sure fire way to a crappy night’s sleep. I have issues. That being said, the alarms finally sounded.

 

You know the feeling right? The butterflies of opening morning took over as we prepped our gear for the hunt. It was on! Trevor and I hiked to our pre-established vantage point. Evan and my dad got into position. Visibility slowly improved. Elk began to present themselves in the coolest ways. Soon Evan and my dad were on one of our reserve bulls. Do not shoot a reserve bull! Before trigger itch kicked in, Trevor glassed up the bull with the backs bedded at the edge of some aspens. It was determined Evan and my dad would move into position and get a closer look. The bull was still moving slow with each calculated step. He fed much of the morning within the same 100 yard radius. We captured a ton of additional footage. Within 30 minutes Evan and my dad were in position despite some intense back pain. They were staring at this old monarch bull at approximately 375 yards. The final conclusion was obvious, you’d be crazy to pass this bull. “Get ready, he’s shooting.”  We braced for impact but impact never came. What’s taking them so long? Are they having second thoughts? Again, they announced that he would soon fire. We braced yet again for impact. From our vantage point the sound of gun powder combusting was delayed. Looking through my glass at that distance things began with the bull hunched as he tried to gather his footing. “He shot, he shot.” The sound of a distant boom soon arrived. “He’s hit, he’s hit.” A epic tumble ensued and it was lights out. 

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Some hunters stop and take it all in an act of reference for the animal they just killed. Some hunters react with emotion reminiscent of winning the super bowl. We joke that my dad was giggling like a little school boy. Love me or hate me but we’d just won the super bowl! From our vantage it was all high fives and irreverent outbursts. To me it was and is a celebration. It’s a celebration of time, energy, dedication, and hard work. Sometimes it’s a celebration of luck. At all times it is a celebration of the animal we’ve been blessed to harvest!

 

Trevor and I made our way over to the bull. Initial reports from my dad and Evan was that the bull had zero ground shrinkage. Walking up to the bull confirmed those initial reports. On the ground this bull was still a bull you’d be crazy to pass on any day on the Wasatch. He is an absolute brute rarely matched characteristics. More high fives and irreverent outbursts issued. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. From the moment my dad’s 300 win mag discharged to moment we rolled into camp 12 hours had passed. We could not have done it without a team of 5. Later that afternoon Steve Ault rode in on horseback 15 miles to help retrieve us and get all that meat out of the back country. We had run out of water and to say he was a welcome sight was an understatement. I offered him a kiss. He declined. In the end, the day was perfect. The help was perfect. The look on my dad’s face was perfect. The bull was perfect.

 

One of the greatest parts of elk hunting 2015 is this perfect story is only half way over. I also drew a Wasatch limited entry elk tag with 10 points. My hunt began November 7th so stay tuned for the last half of the story and season.  
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Hell-uva-hunt and a Determined Hunter

My adventure started with a phone call from Hell-uva-hunt in Douglas, Wyoming. I had been chosen to hunt antelope with 11 other physically challenged hunters in the first part of October. Little did I know that this hunt would change my life.

Anticipation grew as the time drew near for me to leave Idaho Falls to drive to Douglas, Wyoming for my hunt to begin. Being on dialysis there is a lot of logistics that need to be taken into consideration in order for a hunt like this to take place. I need to have dialysis 3 days a week to keep my blood clean. The closest my clinic could find a dialysis center was in Fort Collins, Colorado. This was a bit out of our way according to our travel plans. Doing a little research on my own I found a clinic in Rock Springs, Wyoming which was exactly ½ way to our destination from Idaho Falls. Plans were made to do some dialysis on our way there and on our way back home making it possible for me to travel.

Monday morning came early as I went into my home dialysis center at 6 am to receive treatment for 6 hours before embarking on our adventure. Upon completion of my treatment my wife Gina and I jumped in the car with our sleeping bags, guns and goodies to start our travels East. 4 ½ hours later we pulled into Rock Springs and got settled into our hotel room (thank you Dr. Mike and Mary Davidson). Waking up bright and early I went to the hospital to receive my 2nd treatment for the week. I sat for another 6 hours before hitting the road again to make our last 5 hour drive arriving in Douglas at 8 pm. We got settled into the dormitory which would be our home for the next three days.

We met a few people that night before but the strain of having dialysis 2 days in a row took its toll on me and I had to call it a night. Upon waking the next morning we had some breakfast of Fruit Loops and a glass of juice before officially checking in and getting our welcome packet and meal tickets for the week. After having a great lunch of elk burgers and hotdogs, provided by the sheriff’s department of Douglas, we headed to the rifle range to sight in our guns and meet our guides for the week.

I set up to the far left of everyone else to see which gun I wanted to use.  Immediately we were introduced to Gary Overture from Cody, Wyoming and Wayne Clark from Denver, Colorado who would be our guides for the upcoming hunt. We soon found out that Gary and Wayne had been volunteer guides for the past 30 years and soon found out why they would volunteer for so many years. Hell-uva-hunt is an amazing organization and the love and acceptance felt is out of this world. Many of the volunteers were past hunters wanting to create that special atmosphere that they had felt when they had the opportunity to hunt. There were 12 hunters and about 60 volunteers making this hunt a success. In fact, my guide Gary had his 2 sons Brett and Bart participating and his grandson Beau making 3 generations of volunteers.

I set up and fired my wife’s .243 and hit a little low and to the right. Adjustments were made and three more shots were put in the target. I then pulled out my 7mm Rem Mag and punched the paper 4 more times making sure it was lined up. Minor adjustments were made and then the guns were put away until the next morning. I decided I was going to take the .243 Savage and made necessary preparations to use this gun the next morning. They then moved us down the road to the trap club to shoot some skeet.

Having not shot skeet for over 20 years, I was a little nervous to get out there and show them what I could do. My balance wasn’t the best. I grabbed a 12 gauge double barrel and took my position. “Pull” and the target took flight but the gun wouldn’t fire. We then changed guns and I tried it again, still no fire when I pulled the trigger. “Da## Savage guns,” I cursed my guide and new found friend Gary. He then went and grabbed a Beretta Over/Under and put it in my hands again. “Pull” and the bird went flying into the air. “Bang” and the target blew apart. I guess I can still shoot after all. After shooting 25 times from 5 different stations, I ended up hitting 18 targets while needing to sit between each shot. After taking my last shot I went to the shade to relax a little. Well the 2 days of dialysis caught up with me and I almost passed out in front of everyone. Making my way inside I had to lay on the table and put my feet above my head to keep from passing out. After laying there for 20 minutes or so I excused myself and went back to the dorms to relax for the rest of the day.

Later that night we met up with our guides for some dinner and an awards ceremony for the volunteers and sponsors. After getting to know our guides a little more, plans were made for the next morning to start our hunt. Later that night I decided to use the 7mm Rem Mag the next morning.

We met the next morning to have breakfast of eggs and ham and then hit the road as we had to drive 60 miles to make it to our hunting destination. On the drive up we told stories and jokes as we approached the ranch. As we arrived at the gate it was shooting light so we began to look for my antelope. 15 yards inside the gate we saw a nice antelope at 7:05 am. We looked him over and being an idiot I decided to pass and look for another antelope. This antelope stood broadside at 50 yards and we later joked that Wayne told me it was too close. As we drove away Gary said, “that will probably be the closest one you see all day long.” As we looked for more antelope it became apparent that he would be right.

We returned back to see if I could find him again and he had disappeared into the night. We drove around looking and analyzing different antelope. After about an hour we found another antelope worth giving chase. As we parked above a water hole we watched him chase a doe for a few minutes. She then made her way down to get a drink and the buck soon followed. As he bent his head down to take a drink I took aim and he dropped with one shot. Excitement filled the cab of the pick-up truck and we made our way down to the fallen game. Wayne jumped out while Gary looked for a rope to get him out of the mud. Gina took it upon herself to walk on top of the mud and pull the antelope onto dry land. She bugged Gary the rest of the day saying that he was too afraid to get his boots muddy.

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We then drove back to the trap range and took an official measurement followed by pictures with my guides by my side. Once again this activity wore my body out and I had to go back to the dorms for an afternoon nap. We then returned back to the trap range for lunch of sloppy Joe sandwiches and salads. Our guides then took us on a trip up to see a natural arch carved out into the mountain side. It was very beautiful. Upon returning we got ready for dinner and went to a benefit auction put on at the local Moose Lodge. There was a spotlight that my wife was interested in. She gave me a price limit and when the item came up for auction it quickly made it to our price limit and then passed. Lucky for us there was another spotlight available. By the time it became available people had been drinking quite a bit and so the price immediately went higher than our budget would allow. A lady at our table was bidding on the spot light but unbeknownst to her a man at our table was also bidding. By the time of the bidding was done she lost, but when they delivered the spotlight to the winner at our table she was disappointed. The man immediately gave her the spotlight which in turn she handed directly to me. Talk about some giving people.

Since all 12 hunters harvested their antelope by noon the first day, breakfast wasn’t until 8 o’clock the next morning. With the breakfast of eggs, pancakes and bacon we started on another great day. By this time we had got to know all of the other hunters. They came from all across the country. New York to Oregon and Minnesota to Texas. Great friendships were made and great times were had by all.

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That night an awards banquet was provided and a plaque with our picture of our antelope and guides were presented to each hunter. Special prizes were given to those who shot the first antelope in the morning, the closest antelope, the furthest antelope away and the largest antelope. The first antelope shot in the morning was by Bill from North Carolina. He shot his envelope at 7:15. The furthest antelope away was shot by 15-year-old Hunter Jacob, at 250 yards. The closest shot was by Jared from Oregon, who happened to be up quadriplegic. His shot was at 50 yards. And surprise of all surprises my antelope was the largest with 13 inch horns. The prize for all four categories was a free shoulder mount provided by a local taxidermist. Following the banquet we had to leave immediately and drive the five hours back to Rock Springs, Wyoming so I could get up at eight in the morning and have another dialysis treatment.

Following my dialysis treatment, we got back into the car and drove the remaining five hours back to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

It was a great trip and I look forward to the day when I can volunteer and give someone else the opportunity to have one Hell-Uva-Hunt.

Author: Lewis Harper, JDHeiner Contributor and Avid Outdoorsman

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Gohunt $22,500 Dall Sheep Hunt Giveaway – Really?

When I hear the word “giveaway,” I am naturally suspicious. I question the hype and evaluate the odds. Each company works hard to build excitement around these offerings. It is usually loud and proud. A call to action offsets the company’s investment. Sign Up Now! Limited Time Only! Follow Us Today! Enter Here! It’s these type of giveaways that are becoming such common place that my senses have been dulled. At this point it would take a bull horn to the ear for me to listen.

GoHUNT’s INSIDER giveaway for June would be the equivalent of a bull horn to BOTH ears. A dream of mine would be to chase white monarch rams in the Northwest territory. GoHUNT INSIDER is giving away a $22,500 dall sheep hunt that would put you in Canada’s Northwest territory this August!

The question is, should you and I buy into the hype?

Are your chances just as good as the next person? Will goHUNT follow through and deliver? Who are the winners? How are they chosen? If a winner can’t accept or doesn’t accept the giveaway, will another winner be selected? Could it really be me? Could it really be you?

I contacted www.gohunt.com on a mission to find the answers to the above questions and more. I half expected them to tell me that the company does not share confidential information about their winners or their giveaways. I was pleasantly surprised when goHUNT opened their doors and business with zero hesitation. Company President Lorenzo Sartini was an open book. With a little research I have identified everything you need to know about June’s INSIDER giveaway.

GoHUNT.com INSIDER June Giveaway Detail:

  • TOTAL VALUE: $22,500
  • Where: Mackenzie Mountain (Northwest Territory), Canada
  • Outfitter: Nahanni Butte Outfitters
  • Dates: August 3-15, 2015
  • All Inclusive: Food, Lodging, Guide Fees, and $2,500 Travel Voucher
  • Success Rate: Nearing 100%
  • Potential: Trophy sheep area with the possibility of taking a 40″+ ram. (Ave. Horn Length 36″-37″)

How do we know the winners are real people and not your personal contacts or family and friends? What is the process of randomly selecting a winner?

Sartini: “We perform a random drawing at the end of each month and announce the winners the first business day of that month. Each INSIDER member will receive one entry per month. You can check out all of our previous INSIDER giveaways and winners online.”

Here is the process for drawing the winner

  • Export active members
  • Add accounts created for members (from spreadsheet)
  • Import into text utility (each user gets a unique row)
  • Permute the lines by “shuffle” 3 times.GOHUNT GIVEAWAY

How do you qualify to be a winner of an INSIDER giveaway?

In order to be eligible for goHUNT’s monthly giveaway you will have to sign up for INSIDER by midnight the day before the drawing. An INSIDER membership is $149 per year. Your membership in INSIDER gives you full access to all the research tools you need to have your best hunting season yet. It puts everything you need to know in one spot conveniently located online. All INSIDERS are automatically entered into our monthly giveaways.

Sartini: “You will notice right away that we value our members. Simply put we are the most aggressive in regards to industry giveaways. We reinvest into our members.”

What happens to the prizes left unclaimed or in the case a winner cannot accept?

Sartini: “Winners will be contacted by email and will have three days to claim their prize. If a winner does not respond within three days, goHUNT will offer the prize to an alternate until we have a winner. But for the record, we have not had any unclaimed giveaways so far.”

This month’s INSIDER dall sheep hunt giveaway is slightly different than normal:

  • On July 1st we will draw one winner and five alternates.
  • The winner will be called at 9am PST.
  • The winner has three chances to answer and will be called every 10 minutes.
  • If goHUNT does not hear from the winner, they will move on to alternate number 1 and so on.
  • Once they have connected with a winner by phone, the winner will have 60 minutes to tell goHUNT they accept or deny the hunt. The hunt is NON-transferable. The winner must be the one to actually hunt.

What has been the most rewarding giveaway to date?

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Sartini: “In February, we gave away three P2PX Extreme Range Magnum Red Rock Precision custom rifles, each with a Huskemaw 5x20x50 Blue Diamond scope. We gave away $22,800 in rifles. Three INSIDER members now have top of the line rifles for this hunting season. They could not be happier.”

Sartini: “We think our up-and-coming dall sheep hunt is going to end up being the most rewarding giveaway that we have ever done. We are going to make someone’s dream hunt come true. The added excitement of making this happen in such a short amount of time for someone is going to be fun to watch and be a part of. It is very rare to get a chance to hunt sheep and we feel this is the opportunity of a lifetime!”

My Conclusion: This giveaway is a true level playing field for any goHUNT member. The reality is you or I could be hunting dall sheep in approximately 8 weeks!  These guys are honest in their approach and unmatched in their giveaways.

Winning this hunt would be an absolute dream; however, the ever expanding resource that is INSIDER is worth every bit of $149. I paid it. I utilized this and other tools as I applied to various states in 2015. I drew a Utah limited entry Wasatch elk tag. To say I am excited to chase bulls on the Wasatch would be an understatement. Although I didn’t need INSIDER as much for Utah, it was key to my first time attempt in other states. Worth it at $149? In my opinion yes. Worth it at $149 and a dall sheep hunt?  Ahhhhhh….PHONE SKOPE

GO HUNT GIVEAWAY

 

5 Tips To Ensure Your Kid Loves Hunting

Every season there is a slaughter taking place amongst the freshman class of new youth hunters. The excitement and anticipation each new hunter experienced before the hunt is quickly diminished with bad experiences. Welcome to youth hunting 101.

“I remember my first hunt. It was actually my last. I froze all day and didn’t see a thing! I’ve never understood that sport!”

This is the memory imbedded in many youth hunters across the country. Just as quickly as they are introduced to the sport, they exit stage left never to return.image3

Do you want your first hunt with your kid to be a success?

As a seasoned hunter you are wired to prepare meticulously for your hunt. The same care should go into planning a positive experience for your little hunter.

Follow these simple steps next time you introduce a kid to the sport. Doing so will ensure a life long love for the sport and wildlife conservation.

1.  Have success:  As you introduce your youth hunter to the sport, make sure you do so on a hunt with action. Introduce them to the sport in an area were you know you will see animals and have close encounters. Have success!

2.  Get in, get out:  If required, the seasoned hunter is wired to wait until the last light of the last day for their trophy to appear. Unhook your wires. Leave your youth hunter wanting more. Long days and weeks can burn out a young hunter before they even get started. Get in, get out!

The Trolli Approach
The Trolli Approach

3.  Make traditions:  I call this the “Trolli Approach.” To this day, my girls love hunting because of the perks associated with spending time in the field with Dad. Trolli sour gummy worms is the tradition. There is only one time each year when its a free for all along the gas station treat isle. That free for all occurs during the hunt. Make traditions!

4.  Build confidence:  I love telling my little youth hunter, “man, your good at this!” Highlight their knack for the sport, tracking, listening, identifying sign, spotting, and toughness. Make a big deal out of the value they bring to the hunting camp. Build confidence! image1-2

5.  There is no bad weather, just bad clothing:  All your efforts will be for naught if you have not planned for weather. Make sure your youth hunting partner is wearing the right gear.  Comfort is key to a great first time experience. Remember, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing!

What have you done in the field to get your first time youth hunters excited about the sport? Leave me your comments at the bottom. Take a minute and follow my blog on the right had column of your page!

10 Trail Camera Tips That Make Things Happen

I had an employer once teach that in life there are three types of people. There are “those that make things happen, those that wait for things to happen, and those that wonder what the [beep] just happened.” When it comes to hunting, which person are you? Are you going to make things happen?

A very important part of making things happen includes summer scouting. Utilizing trail cams can be one of the best ways to understand the animals you pursue and the areas you hunt.

I recently sat down with Ryan Carter of DC Outfitters to discuss the ins and outs of setting trail cameras in the backcountry. Ryan actively manages a string of over 40 cameras. The success of his clients is often unmatched. You could certainly say Ryan understands what it means to make things happen! Proof of that is Rick Houghton’s DC Outfitters 2014 giant featured on Utah’s Top 10 Monster Elk of 2014. This is one success of many for DC Outfitters.

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DC Outfitters Trail Camera Action

Ryan brought up many important points to successfully setting cameras in the field. Some of these points may seem obvious; yet, we get in the field and forget. Let this be your reminder!

  1. Face your cameras to the North: By facing your cameras to the North you will alleviate any interference with the sun in the early morning, mid-day, and late evening hours. Nothing is worse than making it back to your camera only to find many of your pictures are white. Avoid a south facing set up at all cost. Get creative with your placement and face em’ North.
  2. Clear the area and create a photo path: Nobody wants a wind buck on their trail camera. Take a close look at your surroundings. If the wind were to pick up, would branches or debris activate your motion detector? Be sure to pack a saw and be sure to clear a photo path.

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    JD Heiner Prepping for Big Ole’ Wasatch Elk
  3. Place your cameras at locations you are willing to check: You have selected what you feel will be your greatest setup yet. It is remote. It is untouched. You feel it’ll really produce but the reality is you won’t be able to check on it very often. You may not even get back to it before the hunt. Pay attention to your reality. It isn’t a great setup if you can’t check in on it.
  4. Buy what you can afford: It is important to understand that most cameras on the market can do the job. Clarity can be improved. Ease of use can be argued. Trigger speed, IR effectiveness, and distance are all valid points. In the end, you need to understand what is coming into your camera. You should be able to do so with a wide variety of high end and low end cameras. Simply buy what you can afford and don’t feel as though you need the best.
  5. Buy what you can afford to lose: It is unfortunate this even lands on this list. When referring to a lost camera, I am referring to thieves. There is little worse than a thief. Check the card if you must, but don’t be the low life type that takes a camera. Lock boxes can help; however, as Ryan has said, “lock boxes keep honest people honest.” In the end, if someone wants it bad enough, they’ll get it. You need to certainly buy what you can afford; however, make sure you buy what you can afford to lose.
  6. Pick camera locations that provide a trifecta of core elements: When selecting a spot for your trail camera keep in mind the obvious importance of food, shelter, and water. Do animals have access to these three elements near your placement? Check with local laws to determine if you are able to enhance the elements with attractants.
  7. State law may not be on your side: Let me preface by saying, if you see a trail cam in the field and take it you are an absolute waste of space. You are likely a poacher. You have complete disregard for others and their property. You are lazy. You are also welcome to never visit this blog again. That being said, if an item is left in the field for a specified period of time the law may consider it public property. This may include your trail cams, tree stands, etc. Your trail cam may get stolen. You may even know who it was that stole your property. There may be little you can do about it. As a result, keep in mind #5.
  8. Test the shot before leaving your camera: Are you cameras pointed in the right direction? It may not be enough to just “eyeball” it. With a little pre-testing, your shots can turn out much better. Take the time to test your camera. Is it taking the type of shot that is going to teach you the most about your setup. Take some test pictures onsite and adjust.

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    Sean Senske (At it hard and making things happen!)
  9. Never forget your essentials: There is little worse than getting to you distant camera only to realize you forgot batteries, viewing device, and or SD cards. Before each trip, run through your checklist. Forgetting your essentials can set you back days or weeks in your scouting efforts this summer.
  10. Be cautious of trees that are perfect for scraping: Trees are the obvious go to for hanging your cameras. Trees are also the go to for back scratching and scraping when it comes to the animals you pursue. Evaluate the tree. Is it likely to become a scrape? Adjust your plans around tree size and venerability to be knocked around by a big bull, buck, or bear.

In the end, get out and make it happen. Many desire to experience success while hunting; yet, very few are willing to put in the time. If you want to get the Outdoor bug, start by purchasing a trail camera. I love checking trail cameras. It can be likened unto Christmas Day and the excitement surrounding the unknown of what you are about to discover. Let’s make it happen!

Special Thanks to all those who sent in some amazing trail camera pictures. (Cover Photo) Hazen Downward, Trevor Hunt (Pine Creek Outfitters), Hunter Bloxham, Sawyer Peacock, Jaron Dansie, and Jeff Pearson. 

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DC Outfitters Trail Cam Candy (I’m pretty sure Ryan is doing something right!)

5 Reasons Bow Hunters THINK They’re So Cool

Hoyt pro-staff member Sean Morgan recently invited me to come shoot their 3D course near Springville, Utah. I was traveling on business and wasn’t able to attend. I was a bit relieved. It’s one of those things you’d love to do if its success didn’t come by way of hard work.

The reality is I was not ready to hang with some of the best bow hunters in the West. That included Hoyt’s Matt Davis and his ridiculous recurve skills. To top it off I’d recently installed a new site on my bow. It wasn’t dialed in. I had some work to do before showing up to 3D shoot with these guys. There ya have it… I’m just not that cool. As a result I have come up with 5 Reasons Bow Hunters THINK They’re So Cool.

1. Bow hunters practice, practice, practice. Practice is best described as pretending. Pretending sounds a little reminiscent of barbies and castles. It certainly demands what is likely unavailable time. Do bow hunters have jobs? Do these people have families? The end goal is to know your arrow and how it will fly in varying conditions. As previously mentioned that knowledge looks a little too much like hard work.

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Sean Senske, Kyle Williams

2. Bow hunters are patient. To exude the patience of a bow hunter will likely result in mosquitos and sunburn. To “wait it out” could be likened unto painfully waiting to earn your money before you make a purchase. As weapons advance, patience is less a requirement to chasing big game. There is a reason man invented the loan and for that matter the rifle. We want it now and by all means we deserve it now!

3. Bow hunters seek perfection. Give me something with more room for error. Who has time to worry about ethics in shot placement? Why seek to perfectly understand an animal’s pattern? Hit em’ hard, slow em’ down, and finish em’ off. A perfect effort is over-rated. Bow hunters seek that perfect effort in all aspects of their pursuit.

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Ryan Eakin and Tim Soffe

4. Bow hunters love the entire pursuit. They love the scouting. They love the campfire. They love the preparation. They love the outdoors and the animals they pursue. They love success while recognizing the reality of failure. Isn’t that too much love for one paragraph? How about the singular love of killing? Certainly that is the reason we hunters hunt?

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Kevin Jensen

5. Bow hunters are proud. Chest puffed and head held high, the bow hunter states “I bow hunt!” We have heard it a thousand times as if it’s enough to simply “be” a bow hunter. Isn’t their pride premature considering a hunter is measured by the trophies on their wall? Show me your wall and then we will talk cool.

For those that are still reading this article, you have exercised the patience of a bow hunter. When you seek to understand the bold, you quickly realize that bow hunters are in fact very cool. I dare say they are bad-to-the-bone!

Bow hunters are dedicated in their preparation, patient and passionate in their pursuit, perfect in their effort, and proud to be bow hunters. Their passion is infectious. They love the animals they pursue and they value true conservation. Bow hunters right the tide of misconception. Hunting is not all about the kill or the trophy. Don’t get me wrong, I love trophy big game; however, bow hunting is so much more!

Special thanks to Sean Morgan of Sean Morgan Outdoors and Hoyt Archery for the invite(s) and killer pics.

Special thanks to Ryan Eakin of Ziis Apparel for always being one of the first to step up and lend a hand!

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Philip Peterson
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Kevin Jesen, Sean Morgan, Hazen Downward, Ryan Eakin, Philip Peterson, Phillip Lundell
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Logan Beckstrand, Sean Morgan, Donovan Strock

 

10 Antler Selling Tips You Cannot Afford to Miss

The shed hunting and antler buying race is on. I am intrigued by the thousands who wander the hills searching the only treatment available to managing their addiction. Ironically, a good portion of the commercial demand on shed antlers is medicinal. This is driven in large portion by an overseas market. As for the shed hunter, the only medicine required to manage their addiction is more hunting!IMG_0751-2

Shed hunting and antler buying is full of new comers, true originals, and everything in between. I would certainly classify myself as a new comer. I recently sat down with Steve Sorensen and Dallas Hemeyer of Steve Sorensen Antler Buying to learn more about this craze. These two are a couple of true originals with a passion for sheds that is unmatched. I came armed with bottomless sushi, my notepad, and a willingness to learn! I soon realized that Steve Sorensen Antler Buying has little interest in a reputation built on one time purchases. Everything they do is laser focused on gaining long term customers that return time and time again. (Steve Sorensen Antler Buying 435-245-3497)

After a good dinner, some laughs, and a few awesome hunting stories I came to one very simple conclusion: DO NOT sell a single shed before considering these “10 Tips.”IMG_0797

Antler Selling 1.0

1. Reputation Talks: Find a buyer with a longstanding reputation of being honest and fair. A self-proclaimed “we are the best in the business” or “we give you the most” means very little. What are the vast majority of sellers saying? A buyer’s reputation comes not from their own words but the words of their customers. Reputation talks!

2. Clean Em’ Up: A common sense move when selling anything tangible would be to clean it up. I was amazed to learn that this is often overlooked by many shed hunters interested in bringing top dollar for their sheds. You would never lay a stack of dollar bills next to the oil slick in the garage. Keep this in mind as you look to store your accumulating stack of sheds. If little thought goes into the storage and transport of your sheds, irreversible damage may be impossible to clean or repair. Assuming no major damage has occurred, take a minute and clean em’ up!IMG_3062

3. Grade First, Price Second: I do not suggest you pay little attention to price/lb; however, many sellers get caught up on price alone while missing the grade. A seller’s money is lost or gained on the grade. When researching a buyer, ask first the question “Are they fair in their grading?” The price per pound may fluctuate between buyers. It is easy to take your eye off the ball by focusing solely on price. A missed grade will cost you much more then the variance in price from buyer to buyer. The reality is go back to our #1 tip and this is less a concern. A great buyer has enough business that they are not going to live or die on gaining the upper hand on a singular purchase. Grade first, price second!image1-40

4. Understand the Grade: This can vary from state to state and region to region. That being said there are three grades you want to pay attention to and understand: ***Prices not provided as they vary by area and demand***

  • Brown ($$$): Key to picking up a brown and bringing in top dollar is time. Over time adverse weather causes cracking and discoloration. If it has cracks, it will not be graded brown.You have approximately 0-6 months of exposure before an antler’s quality is compromised. That being said it is tempting to stretch the boundaries of ethical shed hunting. Be sure your efforts to find the highest quality sheds do not pressure an already vulnerable winter herd.
  • White ($$): Weathered over the course of 1-3 years will likely land your shed at a white. As you can see time is a bit more forgiving in this regard. Key to this grade is whether or not the antler is beginning to turn grey with additional cracking. Once that takes place, a chalk grade will be considered.
  • Chalk ($): At over 3 years the weather starts to take its toll. Key indications of this include greying, deep cracks, and flaking. Any pink coloration will land your shed in the chalk category. Don’t get discouraged as there still is a bit of money to be made with chalk antlers. The reality is from chalk to brown they’re all pretty exciting to find! Understand the grade!

5. “Painted” Is Not a Grade: Leave your painted antlers at home. Paint them to keep them. Once painted your sheds have little to no worth to an antler buyer. Painted is not a grade!image2-11

6. Price Check Within Your Market: Unless you plan on traveling to distant locations to sell your antlers, price check within your given market. It can be frustrating and unproductive to both buyer and seller when conducting price comparisons outside of your area. Price check within your market!

7. Ask: Trophy quality and special characteristic sheds can garner higher prices outside of the general grading scale. It never hurts to ask or negotiate such concessions. A general rule of thumb puts your trophy class antlers at 180”+ on deer and 360”+ on elk. Keep that in mind when bringing something truly special to the table. Also keep in mind that your antler buyer is likely well aware of how to accurately measure score. Ask!IMG_4541

8. Know the Law: A good and reputable antler buyer will record everything required by law. For example, when selling a deadhead don’t be surprised when a buyer asks for name, address, phone number, and signature. Do NOT peddle stolen antlers. Know the law.

9. Keep Em’ Safe: The reality is antlers can be worth a lot of money. Equipped with that knowledge it is important that you keep them stored in a safe location. If left out in the open, they will be stolen. This is becoming a growing problem and buyers are offering rewards for information leading to prosecution of such thefts. Keep em’ safe!

10. Hold On: If you aren’t quite sure about selling a specific antler, hold on to it. There is no reason to rush into selling any specific shed or stack of sheds. The reality is each shed has a story. There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from a big ole’ check; however, don’t get lost in the $$$. That shed will likely never mean to another what it means to you. Keep a few of those special sheds and share a story! Hold on!

A special thanks to Steve Sorensen and Dallas Hemeyer. Follow them on instagram as @antlerbuyer1976 and @365pursuit. Contact Steve Sorensen Antler Buying at 435-245-3497. These guys will not disappoint! Photography provided by Dallas Heymeyer.IMG_5548

 

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