Monday, January 15, 2018

Turmoil in the hunting community

What is happening to the hunting community? I have never seen so much turmoil within it and yet nothing is changing in a positive way. Why? As outdoors men and women you would think the recent anti-hunting attacks, and in our case here in BC-an outright hunting ban on Grizzly bears, would be pulling hunters together to fight for our love, our passion....

That's not what I am seeing at all. I've been sitting fairly quiet, watching what is unfolding on social media. To be honest it scares me.

The only way I can describe it is like a circus....these anti-hunting groups are the ring masters and the hunting community are the monkeys...scared, confused and lashing out at each other instead of doing anything productive. And it just keeps playing in this deadly circle, while those that wish to see an end to hunting smile and rub their hands together, ready for their next move.

The hunting community in BC has been in havoc since the government banned the grizzly bear hunt, some hunters were actually FOR  this ban....not thinking about what it means to animal rights organizations and the little bit of hold and power it gave them. They will take it and run with it. In Alberta, they are after cougar hunting. I'm sure many of you have seen Steve Ecklund and his beautiful cougar plastered and blasted all over social media...and not by hunters. News media will run with these stories (whether they have all the facts and permission to use photos...or not) because it gains them more exposure but it gives ARAs a platform to stand on and an agenda to push. Emotion will trump science, especially when your government has no backbone- it did for BC and our government proudly stated it.

But things started in BC before the grizzly ban...our animal populations are plummeting and they have been on a steady decline for decades. What has been everyone's answer for fixing the decline all these years? Change the regulations! Put more restrictions on! And yet, here we sit...everyone panicking because it has gotten SO bad. And what does a good majority want to do to fix things? The same thing that has been done for decades....change the regulations and now everyone is ripping each other apart because no one can agree on anything. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting new results. Everything needs to change, we need to start using our biologists for what they are meant for! Things need to be science based...without research and boots on the ground the whole program is running blind. For that they need money from the government, kind of hard when they keep cutting their funding. All of the revenue from license and tags should be going back into wildlife...that includes our biologists. Maybe we should be looking at the states and some of their programs like the Pittman-Robertson Act, something that is similar so all user groups are chipping in to our wildlife and spaces. I see all these people attacking other hunters...attacking our wildlife biologists (yes I had a guy-a hunter apparently- say that there needed to be an open season on biologists today!), none of this is the biologists fault, they work with what they are given and try to get more. The government is at fault here- for not giving a rats ass about our wildlife and wild places or the people that are employed to look over them.

Please, if you want your children and grand-children to be able to hunt you need to stop picking fights with each other. Take the fight where it needs to go....our government whom is so easily swayed by emotion instead of following science. And don't just do the usual "we want the regulations changed" because it won't fix this mess, demand real change from them. We are teetering on a very slippery slope and its not looking promising.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

2017 Whitetail Buck

Hunting with the kids can some times be a challenge, especially when the temperatures are starting to drop and you can feel winter trying to claw its way into the area. We do a bit more truck hunting when it's cold, mainly because Easton has a hard time staying warm. He's like me in that way, I have a hard time keeping warm and I always carry a backpack full of layers with me. This year we haven't been having to much luck when it comes to elk. The hot summer and drought conditions pushed the elk out of our usual elk spots and so we had to do a little more exploring. So we haven't been seeing much of elk, actually we weren't seeing much of anything for the first week or two after the bush was re-opened. Due to fires the bush was closed from September 2-14, they finally re-opened it on my birthday (15th) at noon.

We traveled a little more north hoping we wouldn't see too many people out, boy were we wrong. Truck after truck and we ended up seeing nothing at all. The terrain in there is to thick and steep for the kids to hike, so we chalked it up to a nice evening drive.

Next time we stayed a little closer to town and tried sitting. We each took a kid and separated.  I had Easton with me. We were seated in the middle of a rock ledge with a bunch of fallen trees to cover any movement. After about 30 minutes Easton was asking how long we were going to stay. The wind was howling and it was a bone chilling one that cut right through your clothing. I told him until dark. He was bored but played with his lego men beside me. I wasn't too worried about the noise he was making-the wind would cover his sound.  By this time he had his hoodie on and his jacket along with my gloves and toque. After another 15 minutes, he said he was cold. So I pulled out my down jacket for him to wear and pulled both his hoods up over the toque. I bundled up after I got him cozy, wearing my vest and softshell jacket, gloves and toque. We sat there for a little bit and he snuggled up to me. After an hour he was asking if daddy and Pheonix were back at the truck yet, I kept telling him no they weren't but he wanted to go check. This was his way of saying he wanted to go back to the truck. We sat for another 10 minutes and I could see he was cold, I was starting to get pretty chilled too. So I suggested we head back to the truck. I messaged Kyle to let him know what we were doing and he asked us to come pick them up then. Neither of us seen an animal, but that's part of hunting.

Finally, one evening I made a suggestion on where we should go. We have good luck with whitetail in there and we see bear and elk too. We were seeing a couple does, some little bucks. But not really anything either of us wanted to cut our tags on. We parked the truck where they deactivated the road and Kyle decided to go for a short walk on the other side, I stayed at the truck with the kids. I took a picture of the sunsetting and let Pheonix play with the big camera.
When Kyle came back to the truck it was about 20 minutes before we would lose shooting light, and we turned around and started making our way out. We only went about a kilometer down the road when he stops the truck and says big buck Niki. I coudn't see it, it was on his side of the truck down a pretty good hill. I didn't waste any time, I jumped out with my gun and dropped down into the clearing a little bit. I instantly seen him with the light bouncing of his antlers, he looked like he was the same size as Kyles big buck that he shot a couple years ago. He was standing just on the edge of the treeline in a cut block about 200 yards down. I didnt waste any time I put my rifle up, aimed and squeezed the trigger. Kyle watched him in his binos. As soon as my shot went off Kyle says you hit him hard, I reloaded and made my way down a little bit more to a giant root ball. I was going to use it as a rest if needed. But it wasn't needed. He was going down when he was heading back into the treeline and I watched him go down with a huge crash. I was over the moon! We waited a bit and grabbed our backpacks. Pheonix wanted to come with us, Easton stayed up in the truck and watched a movie snuggled in his nest of blankets. By the time we got down to him we were almost out of light in the clearing, it was dark in the trees. He was easy to spot though, he had fallen with his antlers stuck in the ground and his bright white throat patch seemed to glow in the low light.

Once we got to him he did have some ground shrinkage, but I didn't care. He was still an amazing buck. My biggest one and he had a unique rack- double brow tines on both side with a kicker on the one which made him  a 6x7.
Pheonix was getting nervous with the darkness in the trees, so I gave her my unloaded rifle to take back to the truck and she could stay up there with Easton until Kyle and I finished up, we kept Kyles rifle ready just in case.
It didnt take us to long to get him field dressed. We loaded him onto my pack and I hiked back up to the truck. Kyle didn't take a single piece of him. At the butcher we weighed just the 4 quarters, backstraps, and tenderloins- he came out to 67lbs.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Stone Sheep Hunt 2017

July 27th, 4:30 in the morning and we were on our way north for our Stone Sheep hunt. Kyle, Kelsey, Southgate and I along with our hunting gear and fresh clothes were crammed into my little half ton Ram. There was not an inch of space to spare in the box. Kyle drove and Southgate claimed the front seat, while Kelsey and I had a nest of blankets and pillows in the back seat.  The first leg of our journey was to make it to Ft.Nelson, stay the night then finish the journey in the morning. Its a long drive from our homes in the East Kootenays, about a 20 hour drive all together and Kyle decided to drive the entire trip. Poor Southgate had food poisoning the day before and was puking the whole day, the long drive gave him a chance to somewhat recover but he still felt queasy. We got to the hotel after a long day of driving and we all crashed. Surprisingly, the beds were extremely comfortable, we all had troubles getting up the next morning.
The next morning we were off again, bright and early. We wanted to get to the beginning of the trail early because the hike in would be 8 hours. We pulled up to where the trail head started and we were relieved to see no vehicles were parked there, we were the first ones in. So we parked the truck and started changing into our hunting gear and loading the packs. We were off, I did my best to keep up with everyone else but being the shortest in the group has some major disadvantages...and I wasn't just the smallest by an inch or two-it was 5 inches, but Kyle stayed with me making sure I didn't fall behind to bad. What a good hubby! At about half way we stopped to have some snacks and rest a bit. Thank god! I was starving. After about 15 minutes we loaded back up to finish off the last half of our hike. About 2 hours away from camp my left hip was starting to protest the hike, it was getting pretty sore. I had a couple times where my stiff boots slipped on the wet rocks along the creek, i'm sure that combined with the long heavy hike was wearing on my hips. I ended up slowing a bit but still trekked on. We came up to a camp spot and Kelsey and I were so happy! Only to have Southgate say this wasn't our camping area-damn it. Still had an hour to go.

10 kms from the truck to camp. I was so happy to be able to drop my 50lb pack. It took a few minutes before I could walk normal. We went straight into setting up camp and I noticed all around were places where an animal had been digging. We figured it was probably a grizzly. After we were done we got to glassing, it didn't take long for the guys to start spotting rams. I was pretty excited to spot one sky lined, only a half curl ram. Beside me, Kelsey shifted then jumped up squealing that something had poked her. She turned around and hanging out of her pants was a porcupine quill. We both got a good laugh from it but started watching closely where we sat down. A little while later Kyle sat down where Kelsey had been, and soon found a quill poking into his pants. I started looking closer at the diggings around camp, the most was around the fire pit. Beside the pit was a stump full of quills- we knew who the culprit was that did all the digging!

By the time we called it a night we had seen 12 rams, none that were legal. At least we were seeing sheep!

I don't usually sleep at all when we are camping, especially in a tent. I was surprised I actually had a decent sleep until I woke up from a nightmare. Of course my nightmare was of grizzly bears coming into camp. But as I lay there wide awake, I could hear a strange noise outside our tents. At first I thought Southgate was snoring because the sound was by his tent. As I listened closer I realized it wasn't him snoring but an animal, but I had never heard this noise before. I listened a little longer and then a second sound came but it was closer to our tent, so now there were 2 animals wandering around our tents in the dark. I woke Kyle up and asked him what that sound was, he listened for a little bit then decided to check it out. He took his rifle with him and popped out of the tent, flashing the flashlight around camp. There by the fire pit were 2 porcupines digging, squeaking away. Kyle threw a rock at them and they disappeared back into the trees. He thought it was cubs at first trying to get our food out of the tree we hung it in, that's why he took his rifle. After a bit I was able to fall back asleep.

In the morning we spent a couple hours glassing. After, we decided we would all pack up camp and head farther up the valley. At one point we decided to split up, Kelsey and Southgate went up a draw we had seen sheep in earlier. Kyle and I went farther back into the valley with the hopes of getting to the lake at the very back. It was a rough go. We took a trail that went straight up the mountain and then disappeared in the caribou brush. So we bush whacked a little ways and then Kyle sees a trail down by the creek, cursing we start heading back down the mountain. It was thick and it was steep. Kyle has no problems pushing through the brush, hes big and has a lot of power and weight behind him. Me on the other hand, had a really hard time getting through.The branches would pull on my pack throwing me off balance and I wasn't able to power through the brush.We got back down to the trail and it wasn't to bad for a short while. It was a goat trail- I found tons of goat wool all over the brush on the trail. Then the trail got bad, I'm not sure how a goat goes through that trail but it was thick.
The goat trail
We finally fought our way to a knoll, we thought it was close to the back of the basin. We crest the top of the hill and had the wind taken out of our sails. We had gone about 3 kms...and we had about another 4 to get to the back. The basin was much much bigger then we had originally thought. We both dropped our packs and sat down to rest. I was exhausted. We had to make a decision- do we keep going, stay here for the night or head back down the valley and meet up with Kelsey and Southgate? It was very windy on the top of the knoll. I had suggested making camp, but Kyle didn't think it was a good idea. The only spot we could have camp was where we were sitting, and we had no cover at all. Part of Kyle wanted to keep pushing to the back, I was straight up with him. I knew if we made it back there and shot a ram or two while back there, there would be no way I could get a sheep out of there and back to the truck. We would be 20kms from the truck. It would take us at least 2 days to get out of there and it was all bush whacking the whole way. We glassed for a bit and then made the decision to go back down the valley and meet up with the other two.
Once we all met up we discussed what to do and decided to head down the valley to the last camping spot along the creek. We set up camp and had dinner then did some more glassing. While we were glassing a porcupine came wandering down the trail and Kyle was sitting on the trail. When it seen him it stopped and went back the way it came. Southgate chased it and it went up a tree. After we went to bed I didn't feel tired but my body had other ideas. I was warm and comfortable but could not stop shaking. The shaking kept me awake and lasted probably a half hour. Once I was finally able to sleep I slept like the dead. In the morning I told Kyle about the shaking and he said it was because my body was so exhausted.

When I woke up and crawled out of the tent, the guys were glassing. They thought they found a legal ram back where Kyle and I had been the day before. I was not exactly thrilled by this news. The guys decided to go back down to the old camp and do some glassing, Kelsey and I stayed at camp. About an hour later we got a message on the Inreach- 2 legal rams. Pack up camp. Both Kelsey and I were happier about this news. We quickly started packing everything up. I had my gear all done and was working on the tent when the guys showed up. I was still pretty stiff from the day before and my feet were sore but hopefully this would be the last time we moved camp. Its been colder today and we have had rain and off all day. I enjoyed having the day to rest my sore feet and legs. Later in the day the guys decided to climb to higher ground behind our camp so they could see into the basin where the rams were. While they were up there we got hit with a torrential down pour and the guys were drenched, good thing they were in rain gear.

It rained all night and when we woke up it was still raining. Kyle had to get up because his back gets sore, I stayed in the tent- wrapped in my sleeping bag, too comfortable to get out. Everything felt damp. Even inside the tent. I waited as long as i could in the tent, but I had to pee. I grumpily donned my layers of clothing and rain gear and crawled out of the tent. We checked the weather on the Inreach and it said the temperature was 7C but feels like 4C. If it doesn't warm up we may see snow in the morning. The Inreach said the rain was to clear by tonight and tomorrow-Opening day- would be beautiful.
The rain finally cleared off around 4pm and we were able to do some glassing. Southgate found a massive ram back up the valley-we had a target for morning providing he's there. The clouds finally broke up and the sun came out, we tried to get our gear out and dry it in the sun before dark. It felt good to be able to strip some layers off.
We were up bright and early and MY GOD was it cold. You could see your breath and the vegetation had a heavy frost on it. We loaded up without eating breakfast and set off for Southgates ram. He was there, and we were ready. We had a long hike up the valley then straight up the mountain to get to the same basin he was in. It took us 3 hours to get up to the lowest ridge in the basin, after that it was a long wait. We couldn't see him anywhere and unfortunately it would be too easy for him to just hope into the next basin. After an hour the guys decided to climb up higher to see into the one basin closest to us and to hopefully see farther down the ridges. Kelsey and I stayed where we were and watched the basin we originally came to. We stayed up there for over 4 hours before we all decided he must have moved to a different basin or dropped over the ridge to the other MU (management unit). Reluctantly, we all headed back down to camp. We all were hungry and tired. It was also a nice day- sunny and 18C, it gave us a chance to wash some of our clothes. That night while we were glassing, a ton of sheep came into our valley from over top the ridge. Sheep after sheep started making their way over. I think we counted 20 sheep, most were young rams. We figured a ram had been shot in the next valley and it was pushing all the others up and over to us. Right before dark we had a treat, 3 young rams just in the basin above camp, were playing and having a ball. We watched them ripping up and down the ridge, down the mountain, back up again, head butting each other and chasing each other.

In the morning you could see Southgate was a bit down about not finding that big ram yesterday. Kyle was the only one raring to go, Southgate was bummed and Kelsey and I were tired. So the morning ended up a bit of a lazy one, which annoyed Kyle haha but he managed to live. It only lasted a very short time anyway, because there...back in the same basin just sky lined...was Southgates ram. That added some spark back into Southgate. Kelsey and I made the call to stay at camp, we couldn't hike like the guys could and this way we could watch him in the spotting scope and relay messages to them with the Inreach if he decided to up and disappear on us again. While we watched him, more and more sheep were popping up and joining him- they were all ewes and lambs except one young ram who went to the next ridge line to bed down. Everywhere this big guy went, the ewes and lambs followed. This provided an extra obstacle to getting close to him. He had no problems sprawling right out in his bed and snoozing with those ewes around him...which gave Kelsey and I both a heart attack because we thought he had disappeared! While panicking he popped his head up and all was good again. After a couple of hours we managed to spot the guys making their way up to the ridges we were on the day before. Now we could watch them and the ram. While Kelsey and I were all excited about this new fact we heard some cracking in the bush beside us. We both stopped and looked at each other, then looked toward the noise. A porcupine stopped about 12 feet from us, noticed we were sitting there and turned around and followed the creek instead. So I got up and followed him with the camera. 
This was probably the same one that came into our camp last night. He was scratching at our tents. He started at Kelsey and Southgates tent...until Kelsey punched it through the tent thinking it was a mouse, you could hear him complaining the whole way across camp to our tent where he scratched at ours a bit then meandered away.
After 7 hours of watching this one ram, he FINALLY got up out of his bed and started making his way down towards the guys. Kelsey and I were getting pretty excited and stressed out. We both watched in the phone scope, anticipating the moment when that big ram would buckle and roll. wasn't meant to be. As Kelsey and I are sitting there going why didn't they shoot it, he was right there! In reality, the ram never came close enough to them...780 yards was the closest he came and even if they had shot him there he would have tumbled down a really bad cliff face. In the scope he looked so close, a good reminder that things look very different in person compared to in the glass. We watched as he walked into the next basin up onto the ridge and disappear into the other valley. From 3km away- it was pretty frustrating- I couldn't even imagine how Southgate felt right in that moment. So close...yet so far. His dream ram and after 5 years, to watch that white furry butt disappear just like that. 
The guys got back to camp late- about 8pm. Southgate was exhausted and very sun burnt. We discussed what we should do tomorrow and decided we would play it by ear. Either way tomorrow would either our last day there or last day to hunt. For the first time we all went to bed early. The guys- tired from their all day excursion, Kelsey and I from sitting with our faces glued to optics all day and fending off Asian Beetles. OMG the beetles!! There must have been a hatch with the warmer weather because we killed at least 100 of those suckers.
Kyle was the first one up in the morning again...such a keener. He found the big ram right away again. He was in the same spot as the day before. Southgate had to make a decision- try again or leave the area and hopefully find another place with multiple legal rams for more opportunities. Kyle was also on his last day of food. Southgate made the call to let the ram go, with that we packed up camp and made the long trek back down to the truck. Its an 8km hike back down to the truck and it didn't take too long to cover the distance, but my feet were still pretty raw and I had some blisters I had to deal with before the walk. My feet protested the whole way back to the truck, it made me slow and I tripped on everything. I was getting extremely frustrated. Eventually I just turned my brain off and cruised on auto-pilot, I stopped focusing on trying to keep up and just made sure to keep my feet moving. The truck was a welcomed relief. We had traveled about 50kms on foot, and most of that was with a loaded pack. We decided to get a cabin at Toad River and relax the rest of the day, and to clean up a bit. The cabins were beautiful. But the Asian Beetles were terrible.
We were right on the lake and across from our cabin was a cow and calf moose swimming and eating. Once we were cleaned up we decided to go for a drive and do some glassing for the evening.

I have a hard time spotting sheep so after a little glassing I pulled out my DSLR to take some photos. The lighting was perfect and the area was beautiful.

When we made it back to the cabin the sun was setting and the sky was on fire with color. Kelsey and I both went running to the lake with cameras to capture the beauty.

It felt AH-mazing to sleep on an actual bed and to have a luke warm shower haha! It felt so nice to wash my hair...i had sticks and leaves and bugs falling out of my lion mane. It was pretty gross.

The next morning I did not want to get out of bed. I was comfy and it felt like I didn't sleep long enough. But the guys wanted to get an early start to the next part of our journey, another 6 hour hike up a valley to hunt for 5 more days. But first we would drive the highway and glass from where we could. Reluctantly I pushed back the blankets and hopped out of bed- I almost collapsed. My calves were so tight I could barely walk. I hobbled around getting my stuff together. When I turned around I noticed Kyle was watching me closely...he could see something wasn't right. It was written all over my face. But I stayed quiet hoping that once I was moving around they would let go. I was hoping we would be able to find some rams from the highway so Southgate and Kelsey could go after them and maybe get her her ram. Of course we didn't see any, just young rams.
We got to the trail head and I got out of the truck trying to move around, hoping the pressure would let up. It didn't, and the more I moved the worse it got. I stood staring up the valley we were to be hiking up and couldn't move or speak. I didn't want to be the one to call off our trip early and it killed me to know it was because of me that we would be leaving 5 days early with no rams. They all knew i was sore and having troubles - just not the extent of it. I didn't know if I would make the 6 hour hike in, if I did- I knew I wouldn't make it back out again. I stood in silence while the 3 of them talked and planned. Kyle came over to me and asked if I thought I could do this. I shook my head and broke down in tears. I wanted them to go on without me, to leave me at the truck to camp by the river, but I knew Kyle would never leave me there and later when I told Kelsey she had the same sentiments as Kyle. So we made the long journey back home. I stayed quiet most of the way to red deer and slept quite a bit, crying makes me exhausted. We stopped in Red Deer and stayed the night then finished our trip home the next day.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mause Creek Hike

July 6th 2017

Kyles suggested "Test Hike" for my legs. We packed up our packs like we were going on our hunt (just minus the large amount of food and our rifles) and headed out. We parked at the trail head, jumped out of the jeep and got eaten by mosquitoes. We loaded the packs after we sprayed down with bug repellent and we were off.

There was some blow down along the trail..but overall the trail was in really good shape. But the bugs were so bad for the first half of the trail before you really start climbing.I ended up spraying down 4 times on our way up.
Once we got to this point the bugs died down a bit, but there were more horse flies. Poor Onca was going crazy. All the bugs went after him instead of us.
 As soon as he seen the water he was swimming! He loves water, typical lab.

We continued to climb up the mountains on the left side of the saddle
in the picture above. We ended up having to climb up through snow
until we got to the pass. Where more snow awaited us as well as a strong wind. I welcomed the wind and snow and the significant temperature dropped it brought with it.  I dont do very well with heat, and by this point I had a headache starting.
The climb was somewhat steep, but the snow made it easier to go up. By the time we came back down though it was pretty soft from the hot sun which made it quite a bit harder.
Kyle standing on the top of the pass going over to the other side. It was an amazing view. He checked to see what the elevation was there and we were at 7400 ft.
A lot more snow on the other side. A good portion of the trail was snow covered all the way to the tanglefoot lakes. So we hung out up top of the pass for a while. Relaxed...I went exploring with Onca and Kyle had a nap on the trail.
Looking back at the trail while on my exploration.

I was actually surprised Onca came with me. He is the type of dog that takes the EXACT same trail you take when he is following you. When I left the trail to come over to this ridge, I took the rocks instead of the snow because I don't trust whats under the snow. He followed me through the rocks and got scared! He froze up and was shaking. I tried to give him a nudge to get him to keep going and he was like a statue. So Kyle tried calling him back and he still wouldn't move. Eventually I was able to help him get through it and he went back up to Kyle, but he didn't want to leave me. So he came down through the snow and joined me lol.
We eventually made our way back to Kyle and he made the call to turn around and go back down to the spring and meadow, and that's where we would camp.
We put the tent up and threw our sleeping pads inside then decided to have something to eat. We have been playing with our own meals to eat while out in the backcountry, rather then the typical Mountain Houses and this was the perfect time to try them out.
After dinner Kyle went in the tent to have a nap and I hung out with Onca and just relaxed. I have a hard time napping during the day.
Kyle was napping...and Onca was going crazy from the bugs so he decided it would be a good idea to sit on me. He is 80lbs...and does not fit on my lap easily...but he managed to get everything but one foot on me. See picture below

Eventually Kyle woke up and realized I wasnt in the tent and
started telling me to come lay down and relax. I figured it would give Onca a break from the bugs too. Even though Onca had the whole tent and there were no bugs inside...he insisted on sleeping on me.

After a bit Kyle decided that there was just way too much time between now and night time...and the fact we had to pick up the kids by justify staying up there overnight. I was bummed but happy I wouldn't have to get up at 5am lol. 

So we packed everything back up and made our way back down the mountain. It was a good test for my legs, which never gave me an issue, and for testing our food ideas and to brainstorm how to help me stay cool when its hot.

We were also able to test some of the new gear we have acquired and decide if there is anything that needs to be changed.

If you are curious how hot it was, look below. That is the temperature when we got back into town at 8:30pm. Where we had the tent set up it was probably 30 degrees still, on the other side where all the snow was, it was more like 20-25 degrees.

Monkey wrench in the biggest hunt of my life...

July 11th, 2017

 At the end of the month we are heading north to hunt Stone Sheep with a couple of friends. This will be my first real backpack hunt. While I have gone for one night to two nights, this hunt will be 11 days all by backpack. This will also be Kyles first long term backpack trip as well. To say we are excited, is an understatement. As some of you know Kyle was fortunate to hunt Dall Sheep in Alaska last year thanks to the Wild Sheep Foundations <1 Club, where he won the hunt, so he has graciously given me first shot on our trip.

As always, something fun or of good fortune seems to come with a little bit of bad luck....

For about a year now I have been having problems with my calves when I run. I never really thought much of it, just that perhaps my legs weren't use to the running. This year however, it has been getting worse. So I finally went to the doctor...she wasn't too concerned, but also wasn't sure what it could be. My calves only hurt when I would run, not when she manipulated the muscle, pulled on my leg, flexed my foot or squeezed the muscle. To give you an idea of what its like, the muscle gets really tight and then if I dont rest after and I keep running then the pain comes. It doesn't matter how fast or slow I run or how far, the pain always comes and then I can barely walk. If I can rest after before moving onto another exercise then I can continue on with the next exercise, but if there is no rest I cant even lift a barbell. I have a pretty high pain tolerance as well, but it has brought me to tears it's so painful. So the first step was a blood pressure test. She figured nothing would come of it because I was young, in shape and I don't drink or smoke. Basically it was to rule out things on her mental checklist. So I went to do the blood pressure testing and again the gentleman that did the testing scoffed at the idea of having to do this test on me and repeated the same words my doctor did. The test wasn't uncomfortable at all. I had to lay still for 10 minutes then he put blood pressure cuffs on both arms and on both calves and feet. Then it continues on like any blood pressure check and after it prints out the results. While he was removing the cuffs the results printed, he checked them and made the remark that they were interesting...uh oh...that's never a good thing. The blood pressure in my arms were at 107 and 109, which I expected- Ive always had a lower blood pressure. The pressure in my legs were at 125, while still within a normal range- was still alarming with the difference. Right away he says no more running, and that he had to apply quite a bit of pressure to even get a reading! But he said I had good circulation...this WAS a shock to me because I have always had very cold feet before any of this mess started.
No more running- no problem! That was easy. He said it had the characteristics of compartment syndrome, again not a shock for me to hear- I had been researching it before I made the doctors appointment and was prepared to hear it. What I was left with for the next 2 weeks was wondering what the blood pressure results would mean for me.

Two weeks later I had my follow up with my doctor. She wasted no time in breaking the news. She had talked with Dr.Chan ( one of the top sports medicine/surgeons in Canada, who also is a local Dr.) about my results, 4-6 weeks of rest to start with. That meant NO running, vigorous swimming or rowing, and no jumping...I was shocked. I was allowed to weight-lift still...but that wasn't going to help me with my cardio. My sheep hunt is in 4 weeks...I broke the news to her...she wasn't overly happy to hear we would be backpacking for 11 days in the mountains. She said she wasn't going to tell me I wasn't allowed to go but wanted me to rest my calves for the 4 weeks, then after my hunt we would re-evaluate. I was also told I would be going for a bone scan...which I found out today will be the 17th of August. Depending on the results of my rest and the scan will determine if I need to see Chan for more testing.

As you can probably imagine, this has scared Kyle...and made him question if I should even be coming now on the trip. I tried to reassure him that its only when I run that I have any pain and that as long as I rest when needed I will be OK. He still wasn't convinced....and to be honest I don't think he is sure even today. So he suggested we do a test run...a backpack overnight locally. So we went up Mause Creek.

For those that don't know what Compartment Syndrome is, it is increased pressure within one of the body's compartments which contains muscles and nerves. Compartment syndrome most commonly occurs in compartments in the leg or arm. There are two main types of compartment syndrome: acute and chronic.
Acute compartment syndrome occurs after a traumatic injury such as a car crash. The trauma causes a severe high pressure in the compartment which results in insufficient blood supply to muscles and nerves. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency that requires surgery to correct. If untreated, the lack of blood supply leads to permanent muscle and nerve damage and can result in the loss of function of the limb.
Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is an exercise-induced condition in which the pressure in the muscles increases to extreme levels during exercise. The pressure creates a decrease in blood flow to the affected area which leads to a deprivation of oxygen to the muscles. The symptoms are a sensation of extreme tightness in the affected muscles followed by a burning sensation if exercise is continued. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome can develop in anyone, but it's more common in athletes who participate in activities that involve repetitive impact, such as running.
Chronic exertional compartment syndrome may respond to non-operative treatment and activity modification. If non-operative treatment doesn't help, your doctor might recommend surgery. Surgery is successful for many people, and might allow you to return to your sport.

So you can probably guess which one I have, which can only be verified by a compartment test. This test is done by sticking needles in the affected muscle to measure the pressure while exercising...if my rest doesn't help, this will be one of the tests Dr.Chan will be doing. I hate you can probably guess how excited I am about that thought.

All in all....this isn't a pity post (although I am pouting inside lol) but more of an informative one, I guess. Or maybe just a way for me to get it off my chest...I'm not sure. Either way, this hunt is a big deal to both Kyle and I...and if I am able to get a will be all the more special, having done it when there is so much doubt...


Well our hunt was cut 5 days short. Unfortunately the day after we decided to come out to move to another area, my calves decided enough was enough. I could barely walk- never mind hike. I was heartbroken that we had to end our hunt early because of me. It took 4 days for my calves to finally relax and let go. You can read about our hunt here.

August 22nd- UPDATE

Well I had a bone scan done on the 17th. The nurses wouldn't tell me anything except that I would have my results on Monday when I went to see my doctor. Apparently the whole point of the bone scan was to look for any stress fractures. While they didnt find anything that would trigger the pain in my calves while running, they did find one on the top of my tibia which would explain the slight pain in my knee since May. After I found out I went to research stress fractures. They are caused by overuse. If they would have found some in my Fibula that would cause calf discomfort while running because the calve muscles attach to it. My doctor has basically said there is nothing left that she can do. Now I wait for Dr.Chan (specialist) to call me.

September 5 - UPDATE
Dr.chans office contacted me. The first step is a phone interview with him. That will be done the morning of September 15. I will update this post as things come along.

September 15- UPDATE
Talked to Dr.Chan and he wants to do an ultrasound on my calves before we do any tests.

October 2- UPDATE
I go for an ultrasound on Halloween.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

First Archery Shoot for 2017

Our first archery shoot of the year was on April 22-23. Unfortunately Kyle had to work and missed most of it, but he came out and did 1 round. Saturday we did a round with friends then I ran Kyle back to town so he could get ready for work and went back with the kids to keep shooting. Unfortunately I didnt realize that they had changed the required number of rounds you had to do. It used to be 5 rounds over the 2 days, now it is 3 rounds over the 2 days. So the kids and I did 3 rounds the first day and 2 rounds the second day. The first day we shot pretty decent, with the exception of the last round- that was a nightmare and it didnt help we were both tired. Pheonix and I were shooting for scores. The last course we did was labeled A course and it was tough. The shots were shots you would never take while hunting, they were all very far distances for the kids with tricky shots for them as well. By the end of A loop, Pheonix was in tears and beaten down. She had no confidence left and I kept telling her to keep her chin up and try not to worry about it. It was a relief when we were done and able to head home. We were all exhausted mentally and physically. But tomorrow was a new day and we would be refreshed and ready to go.

The next day we both shot really well, much better then the day before....but to our dismay the scores didnt count. It was still good practice either way. At the end of the weekend Pheonix and I both placed 2nd in our divisions. Pheonix will only have this year left as a mini cub. Right now she shoots a Diamond Prism with fingers and no sights (we put a sight on it and tried to teach her to use it but shes having some troubles adjusting and just shoots how she always has- by instinct).