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Archive for November, 2012

Gamehide Trail’s End Jacket

I bought this Gamehide Trail’s End Jacket at Fred Meyer on sale for only $39.87.  I used it for elk hunting and couldn’t have been happier with it.

I stayed dry and was comfortable, even in the rain.  The jacket was surprisingly quiet and allowed me to sneak through the wood effectively.  It has a fixed hood with a built-in visor, two large zippered pockets on the outside and another pocket on the inside.  Drawstrings help to keep the wind out and the warmth in.

This is such a great jacket that I am finding that I am using it outside of hunting.  I recommend it 100%.

Happy Hunting!

– Marci

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Giant Huntingwear Sale - Save up to 60% - Shop Now

Deer and elk season are over here in Oregon and if you’re like me, you’re already planning next years hunts.

Good hunting gear can be expensive and there is no better time to buy it then when it’s on sale.  Cabela’s is having a huntingwear sale right now!  Find yourself some deals and save up to 60%.  I looked around and they have a small selection of SHE brand clothing on sale as well as some other really nice coats.  So check it out, gear up now and save a little money.

Happy Hunting!

– Marci

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The Savage 11 Lady Hunter Rifle

When I go deer hunting, I use a Remington Model 700 .243.  I love that gun.  But for elk hunting, a .243 wasn’t going to work.  I needed something bigger.

I asked several hunters and gun enthusiasts for their advice on what gun I should get for elk hunting. Here’s the deal – My .243 is the first gun that I actually hit things with.  Why?  Because I’m not afraid of it.  It doesn’t intimidate me, and more importantly, it doesn’t kick me.  I like that.  Those are two of the most important things for me when it comes to a rifle because a gun that kicks me and makes me flinch vs. a gun that doesn’t is the difference in an accurate shot or an inaccurate shot.  So intimidation and kick were huge factors for me.

Even though I was told about several different guns, a consistent one that was recommended was a .308.  “And it’s a great all-around rifle,” is what I heard over and over again.  I looked at .308s and finally came across the Savage 11 Lady Hunter .308.  I am only 5’4″ and my husband immediately noticed that this gun actually fit me.  I could balance it better than the other guns I was holding.

The Lady Hunter .308 weighs just 6lbs.  It’s overall length is 39.5 inches with the barrel being 20″.  This gun is not just a standard stock made shorter for women.  The engineers at Savage consulted several serious women hunters and put a lot of thought into the design of this rifle.  From stock design, grip girth and placement, to length and weight… the Lady Hunter is actually designed to fit the unique characteristics of a woman’s body.

I added a recoil pad to the end of my rifle to help with the kick.  I will admit that it did take a little practice and getting used to before I was shooting it without flinching.  But it was absolutely doable and didn’t take very long at all.  Within a week I was shooting it pretty accurately without flinch and was consistently hitting a paper plate at 300 yards.

As for elk hunting, I got the chance to use my new Lady Hunter on a 5 by 6 bull.  I shot him in the shoulder and double-lunged him.  He stood there for about 3 seconds and then fell over.  So I would say that my Lady Hunter .308 worked out great for me!  It’s a great gun and a really nice choice if you’re looking for something that’s accurate, fits your body, that’s not too intimidating and doesn’t kick you too much.

Happy Hunting!

– Marci

 

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When it comes time to sight in our rifles, we want to sight them in as perfectly as possible because we want our guns to be as accurate as possible.  Some rifles sight in quickly.  Others seem to take a little longer.  I remember having a very sore and very bruised shoulder after sighting in one particular gun that I used to have.  This is a good example of where we can do things smarter and easier.  Buy a lead sled!

The Caldwell Lead Sled DFT

The Caldwell Lead Sled DFT gets high ratings all around.  It works for rifles, shotguns and muzzleloaders.  It does a great job steadying your aim and makes it easier to fine-tune your sights.  It saves on ammo and money by holding steady with hardly any recoil when you shoot.  It’s made well, easy to assemble and easy to use.

The Caldwell Lead Sled DFT is on sale right now at Cabela’s.  Normally $219.99 the current price is just $99.  Get free shipping on orders of $99 or more through 12/17/12 by using the promo code: 2WINTER.

Happy Hunting!

– Marci

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Article by Keith McCafferty. Uploaded on August 12, 2009

Mark Seacat likens hunting on public lands to a game of chess—not one you play with the wapiti so much as with other hunters.

“Elk pattern off pressure,” the Montana hunter and former elk guide explains. “You have to know where the elk will go Sunday after being pressured on Saturday. By Tuesday they’ll start to settle down. I want to make a move to be in position to hunt them then.”

Seacat shot his first elk when he was 12. Several years ago, he set a goal to take a mature bull off each of the half dozen mountain ranges visible from his hometown in western Montana. His game plan began by unfolding a map. “I would draw a circle around the public land in the mountain range. Then I’d start by checking out the middle of that circle in the middle of the week.”

This “mountaineering approach to elk hunting,” as Seacat terms it, often has the 30-year-old hunter crossing the spine of a range to work down to elk that have taken refuge on the more inaccessible side. In bow season, he’ll locate herds by running the ridgelines, glassing the basins, and listening for bulls bugling. Once he finds a herd, he’ll follow it, often for days while living out of his backpack. Because public-land bulls become call-shy compared with elk on lightly hunted private lands, he patterns the bull’s movements and ambushes or stalks it to get close enough for a shot.

When it’s time to trade broadheads for bullets, Seacat seeks out the toughest country he can find.

“Some pretty crazy bulls hang out in some pretty crazy places. They have to or they don’t get old,” he says.

For Seacat, the strategy of hunting areas where elk escape pressure has paid off with bulls from all but one of the ranges visible from town. Last season’s 6-point, which he arrowed after spotting 30 or more public-land bulls, is in the 370-class. He is already studying maps, hiking trails, and talking to taxidermists and hunting friends as he sets his sights on the public ranges just over the horizon.

My own approach is a variation of the same game, just one that is played on a smaller chessboard and with considerably older legs. I’ll map out the public trailheads on one front of a range, then link the access points with straight lines. The midpoints along these lines, between any two accesses, may not be too far back into the range, but the country will be tough to reach. What I am looking for are forested ridges that finger sharply down onto private ranches in the valleys. Hunting pressure from the ranches often creates a daily migration pattern, with the elk feeding on the ranchlands at night, then climbing back into thick timber on the public lands to bed during the day.

The downside of our hunting strategies? The first word out of our mouths after the elk goes down is uh-oh. Meat trips can require miles of up-and-down hiking under heavily loaded packs. The big 5-point my nephew shot last year took three of us two trips each to pack out, with round trips beginning at dawn and ending in moonlight.

“Fortunately and unfortunately, that’s the case,” Seacat agrees. “Most hunters limit themselves. They want an easy fix. But wild public lands give hunters who are willing to put their foot to the trail and work hard a great opportunity.”

Best public lands: National forests, wilderness areas.

Best opportunities: Limited-draw archery or rifle hunts that require years of applying to accumulate bonus points before a tag arrives in the mail. These hunts take place in areas that receive relatively light hunting pressure and have a deeper pool of mature bulls.

Look for: Security cover. Ranges that contain hard-to-reach, unroaded tracts of black timber will reward you with a better chance at larger bulls than heavily logged, easily accessible terrain, where opening-day harvest is high and elk don’t have much chance to grow up. Hunting is also likely to stay good longer into the season where there’s security cover.

Watch out for: Elk sanctuaries. On some ranges, elk have become so fine-tuned to hunting pressure that they migrate miles to (relatively) safe havens on private lands before the rifle season starts. Contact game managers to see if this is a concern and invest in a computer mapping program, so that you can preprogram your GPS with waypoints marking property boundaries.

10 Best Public Lands For Elk

[1 Oregon] Siuslaw National Forest: Roosevelt elk are overlooked by most hunters, but there are plenty of over-the-counter tags available for two seasons in western Oregon. The Siuslaw and Alsea units in the Siuslaw National Forest present good chances for hunters who are willing to do a little legwork and put up with a lot of rain. www.fs.fed.us

[2 Montana] Beaverhead-Deerlodge ­National Forest: Fifty percent of the elk harvest comes from Region 3 in the southwest part of the state. The forest outside Dillon, which encompasses several mountain ranges, affords elk security cover while also providing numerous hunter-­access points. www.fs.fed.us

[3 Colorado] White River National Forest: It’s heavily hunted, but there’s good access and a healthy elk population. Some bigger bulls live in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of this tract, but it’s all thin air and you can get snow up to your knickers very quickly here. www.fs.fed.us

[4 New Mexico] Cibola National Forest, Santa Fe National Forest: Low-percentage, limited-draw hunts are the rule in New Mexico, but big bulls are the prize. Tags for the Zuni Mountains and Mount Taylor areas in Cibola and in the Jemez area in Santa Fe are a bit easier to draw than the coveted tags in the Gila National Forest to the south. www.fs.fed.us

[5 Idaho] St. Joe National Forest: Historically, this forest in the southern Panhandle region is among the best places in any state to score with a bow, with the adjoining Clear­water National Forest just as good. You’ll need either a GPS or a lot of iron in your brain to keep from getting lost in these deep woods, but you won’t have to worry about trespassing. www.​fs.fed.us

[6 Wyoming] Bridger-Teton National Forest: Near Jackson, the forest allows access to some of the prettiest alpine basin country in the world. And there are elk here, too, lots of them. Good lungs and bear spray are prerequisites. www.fs.fed.us

[7  Wyoming] Shoshone National Forest: Also in the Cowboy State, the Beartooth Mountains offer classic wilderness elk hunting. There are good populations of bulls in big country all along the North Fork of the Shoshone River and Sunlight Basin. www.fs.fed.us

[8 Arizona] Coconino National Forest: All motor traffic is prohibited in the forest’s Pine Grove and Rattlesnake Quiet Areas in 6A, dissuading some hunters from going after what are among the biggest bulls on the planet. www.fs.fed.us

[9 Washington] Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness: After lean years due to unlimited tags, forest fires, and mountain lion predation, bull elk ratios are finally on the upswing in the famous Blue Mountains hunting grounds of southeast Washington. Over-the-counter tags restrict hunters to spikes, but if you draw a coveted any-bull tag, you’ll have a chance for a trophy in the roadless areas in this section of the Umatilla National Forest. www.fs.fed.us

[10 Utah] Ashley National Forest: The new world-record elk was taken last season on public land in Utah. The state vies with Arizona for the best public-land elk hunting, and residents sometimes find a plentiful supply of undrawn tags, including spike-bull permits. The two Uinta Mountains units in this forest are good choices among any bull areas, but no Utah tag is less than superb. www.fs.fed.us

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Eberlestock Gunrunner Pack

When I go deer hunting, I tend to hunt on small pieces of land or in a blind.  There’s not a lot of hiking involved and not a lot of equipment to carry around.  But when I went elk hunting this year, that changed.  Not only did I need to carry my normal gear, but I also needed to take my rain gear, food and water.  Obviously, I needed to buy a good camo backpack.  I also realized that my arms tend to get tired holding a rifle for a long time, so I wanted a backpack that I could carry it in.

In my search I found the Eberlestock Gunrunner Pack at Cabela’s.  At a reasonable price of just under $150, the Gunrunner Pack is light and surprisingly comfortable.  It has a padded stowable waistbelt to stabilize the load and keep the weight off your shoulders.  With 1,800-cu. inches capacity there is plenty of room for the day’s essentials.  I easily packed it with my rain gear and hats, binoculars, range finder, knives, food, water and all the other little hunting gadgets I carry.  Several vertical and horizontal compression straps also let you grapple things to the pack.

This was a GREAT pack and I was totally comfortable wearing it all day.  It was really wonderful to have my hands totally free so that I could glass the hillsides for elk.  It’s worth every penny and I recommend this pack 100%!

Happy Hunting!

– Marci

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Glassing the hillsides for elk.

At 3am day 2 of our elk hunting trip arrived.  This wasn’t just going to be day 2.  This was going to be MY day!  My husband, Dave, had already gotten an elk the day before.  That meant that if we saw an elk, it was mine.  Would it be uphill?  Downhill?  Close?  Far?  Everywhere I looked I wondered if I would be able to make the shot if there was an elk standing there.  And that “IF” was the biggest factor.  80% of the hunters in the unit would not fill their tags.  We got lucky the day before.  Would we get lucky again? COULD we get lucky again?  The odds were strongly against it.  This was more nerve-racking than I thought!

We hiked up a long hill and along a ridge looking for elk in every opening we could find.  We glassed hillsides and valleys, tree lines, streams and wallows.  Elk tracks and droppings literally littered the trail we were on.  It looked like an entire herd had moved through either earlier in the day or the night before.  We were so close and yet were not seeing any actual elk.

Hoping to find an elk before the weather turned.

Dark storm clouds were moving in and the wind was picking up to a point where I was thinking it could seriously impact my shot…. IF I got a shot.  My hunt was being threatened by weather.

Todd saw that I was getting tired so he sat us up on the top of a hill and had us glass a couple of tree lines while he went ahead to scout another area up a steep hill.  I sat there for a while propped up against a tree looking through my binoculars for any sign of elk.  Nothing.  The wind grew stronger and began to dry out my eyes, making it hard to see clearly.  A few threatening drops began to fall from the sky and as I bundled up I realized that the last bit of good weather was about to pass.

Todd came back from his scout, but the only significant signs of elk were on the trail behind us and right where we were standing.  Where were they?  The light was going to start fading soon, so we headed back down the trail towards the truck, looking for elk along the way.

When we were almost to the truck, we stopped and took one last look across a valley and along a hill for elk.  I saw a brown spot and picked up my binoculars.  The spot had antlers.  “ELK!” I yell-whispered to Todd as I tapped his shoulder and pointed excitedly.  He saw them too.

“Oh man!  There’s two and they’re big bulls!” he said.

My first elk.

I threw my backpack on the ground and got out my gun.  We stacked up the packs and I laid on my stomach and rested my gun on the packs and waited for my shot.  “200 yards,” my husband said.  I took aim.

“Wait for him to turn,” Todd said.  “You’ll get a better shot.  Just be patient and wait for it.”  He was right and I did.  Finally the bull turned and my shot opened up.  Todd said, “Now… slowly pull the…”  BOOM!  I assumed the next word was going to be trigger and so I pulled it.  I hit him in the shoulder, the bullet going through both lungs.  He stood there for about 3 seconds and then fell over, tumbling down the hill, taking out trees as he went.

When we got to him he was beautiful!  I had just shot my first elk and I was about as excited as I get.  He was a 5×6 and had a HUGE body!  He was a fighter for sure and had spent an awful lot of time rubbing his antlers.  As for me… I was grinning from ear to ear.

In the end, thanks to Todd, the owner of Grassy Knob Guide and Outfitters, we got two elk in two days.  But we didn’t just get two elk… we got MONSTER elk!  We got once in a lifetime elk.  How cool is that?!  Could I ask for a better story for my first elk hunt?  No.  No I could not.  It was perfect.

Grassy Knob Guide & Outfitters

8D

Happy Hunting!

– Marci

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