Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Family Ice Fishing

Ever since I could remember, I have LOVED fishing. Growing up we used to have family ice fishing trips all the time in the winter and in the summer months i was casting off shore or sitting in a boat with my dad. My last ice fishing trip when I lived at home was with my Nana and Grandpa and Papa Pico, I was 17. I was up at 4am, wide awake and ready to roll when they picked me up. It was cold..and the bite was slow, but I wouldn't have had it any other way....

Fast forward a few years...

I now get to enjoy the same family tradition with my kids and husband. Both kids love fishing. Easton prefers the summer months to fish in where he gets to cast and reel in, Pheonix loves both kinds of fishing. Whether they are fishing or playing while Kyle and I fish, they still have a lot of fun. Sometimes we get used to just watch the rods and when a fish is on the kids take over. I have found it is a lot more watching them catch the fish then yourself.

Winter doesnt have to be cold, miserable and boring.  Grab some fishing rods, chairs and a wood stove and get out on the ice and have some fun.

Oudoor Adventures with Jayson Podcast Interview

I had the pleasure of chatting with Jayson on his podcast last month. You can hear it here at:

Ladies Hunts in Spain

Spain is a beautiful, history rich country. The people are very friendly, the scenery is amazing, and their is a high population of animals to hunt. A trip to Spain is never a waste of time! I had the amazing fortune of hunting in Spain in 2015 and I hope to do it again! My friends Daniel and Alba own the outfitting business Trophy Trails and have given me some amazing women's only pricing to pass on to any ladies interested.
There are a wide range of animals to choose from at varying prices.
- Gredos Ibex
- Beceite Ibex
- Ronda Ibex
- Sierra Nevada Ibex
- Barbary Sheep
- Red Stag
- Balerian Boc
- Pyrenean Chamois
- Cantabrian Chamois

You can also do combo hunts, or go for the Spanish Ibex Slam!
If you are interested in pricing or more info, please email me and I can get you the information!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Last Stand Goat Hunt 2016

Our 2016 fall hunting season has been quite a bit different compared to previous years. Usually we spend our majority of September and October trying to get an elk. I have been trying for 8 years to get an elk without any success until this year. On top of that success, i managed to get him the second day of rifle opener (Sept 11). So this made for a pretty relaxed season for both Kyle and I. Since I had a bull down he wasn't in a hurry to get himself one ( that would be a lot of meat!) so he focused on helping other people and trying to get himself a sheep, and I helped out a friend a few times that is new to hunting. October it was back to the grind, particularly for Kyle, for Mountain Goat. He and I had a trip planned together then afterward he had 2 of our friends coming in from Alberta on an accompany to hunt permit. Well our first trip in ended up being a dud. It rained the whole time and the clouds never lifted enough for us to see up where the goats hang out. 4 days and not a single goat.
After our hunt, it was Myles turn (one of our friends from Alberta) to try and tag out on his first mountain goat. On day 2 of their hunt, Myles took a goat. Although it was a nanny, it was a trophy of a lifetime. His goat aged out at 13 years old, was skinny and had no teeth left. She wouldn't have made the winter. The perfect nanny!

Kyle came home early and went to see if he could find a sheep before he had to go back to work. Next days off Kerwin was coming in for his goat hunt. Kyle has taken Kerwin out before on a permit in the same area, but our friend Warren was with them. On that hunt 2 years ago, Warren was successful. Now it was Kerwin's turn at success. They had a little less than 7 days to get it done. They seen lots of goats but most were nannies and kids with a couple young billies. The young billies stayed higher in the rocks then a few of the nannies, so they just watched until they had an opportunity. On the last full day of their hunt they decided to take the Nanny that was on their hit list (if a billy didn't come lower for Kerwin). This nanny was not in good shape. She was completely emaciated and never ventured farther than the alder patch and the creek.

Kerwin's Nanny
Worried that she had an illness, parasites or a disease they took her. If she did, we don't want her to infect the rest of the herd. They videoed the field dressing and she had no fat at all and very little muscle mass, her hair was also much shorter then it should have been...more like a mid-late September hair. Her growth rings indicated a healthy life and good feed. So what happened? What ever happened to her happened during this year. We took the meat in to the biologists in hopes they can test it, unfortunately (and we didn't know at the time) the organs would have been a better thing to bring them. The taxidermist skinned the head out and commented on how the muscle in the jaws was like hamburger and her teeth weren't very good as well. So maybe she had an injury? Either way she wasn't going to make it through the winter and she was probably living in a great deal of pain. And Kerwin got his first goat.

Second times a charm...well that's how it worked out for Kerwin so I was hoping that would be my luck as Kyle and I headed out again to try and get me a goat. We had even less time this trip, 3 days but the sun was shining which was rare for this area. The first day was a wash, we knew we wouldn't get a stalk on unless we just happened to stumble upon the goats right away. As we came in we noticed a truck parked with ramps out for an ATV and a sled stashed beside it off the road, weird. It was right before the slides that take out the road. We kept going and once we got through the slides there was another sled stashed just off the road, concerning. Someone that knows this area is getting prepared. This didn't sit well for Kyle as we continued on our way. The whole month of October when Kyle was in here he never seen another sole. That all changed in about  an hour for us. We came upon an ATV, the guy stopped to chat. He was the trapper in the area and the truck and sleds are his. He was getting prepared for when the slides come down so he wouldn't be trapped in the back. He proceeded to tell us the last 3 years the slides blew out the road on Oct 29, Nov 5 and Nov 9...and it was November 6. He told us a guy last year got stuck in there with him, the guy was hunting for goat but the trapper was prepared and had no issues leaving his old truck or ATV in there for winter, the hunter wasn't. They had to barge the guys truck out on the lake and it cost him $600. This made us nervous...we started to second guess our staying there. After chatting with him for a half hour or so he mentioned just before we parted ways that there was a few guys camped up farther, goat hunting, but they were packing up camp. We passed the guys as they were coming out. We got up to the slides where Kerwin and Myles got their goats and they were bare. Not a single white body. We found where the guys had their camp set up, right at the bottom of the slide in the wide open where the goats could see them. I was feeling pretty deflated and Kyle was frustrated and worried.

We only had 2 hours before dark so we decided to sit tight and hopefully the quiet valley would coax some goats out. About an hour before dark a nanny came out to feed. Some life jumped back into us. We watched her for a bit and decided to go down to the next slide to glass. Right away we found 2 more goats, both billies. One very young and small, the other was a shoot able goat. We didn't have time to go up after them so we sat and watched trying to decide the best way up to them for the morning. As kyle was occupied i looked up and noticed a third body, i announced the third goat noting how much bigger it was then the other two. This got Kyle excited. He got the spotter out and sure enough it was the massive goat he seen with Kerwin. So we stayed there until he finally bedded and we quietly made our way out of the valley. We decided to go back to town and stay at a hotel. Kyle's reasoning (although he was partly kidding) was it was good luck to go back to town, get a cheap hotel and go to Boston Pizza for dinner (he did this with Kerwin and Myles and both shot their goats the
next day). I just shook my head and rolled my eyes.

We went back in the morning and sure enough the big guy was still there and a nanny was just below him. But he was watching her intently. So we packed up and got ready to hike up after him, Onca stayed in the truck. After an hour hike we were just below the rock cliffs, we dropped our packs to strap our rifles to them so we could have 2 hands for climbing the cliffs. I put my rifle down then peeled my pack off and put it down- ready for my rifle. Before I decided to strap my rifle on, I looked up out of habit and there he was. All I said was Goat. Kyle kept messing with his stuff without looking up and brushed my word off saying it wasn't that he already checked. I said Kyle, there is a goat watching us. He stopped, unbelieving and looked up asking where? I told him to look on the left side of the saddle, that its standing on the top. He seen him, he put his binos up and started cursing- it was the big billy. I knew it was farther then 200 yards so I instantly jumped on Kyle's rifle (my rifle is new and i haven't figured out the drop yet at farther distances). I got set up with his pack as a rest while he ranged him. 390 yards but i was shooting at about a 50%+ incline, he said put the 300 mark on him. He was facing chest on but I wasn't concerned. I put the 300 on him and felt very stable. I squeezed the trigger and instantly reloaded after the shot. Kyle announced a miss. I was baffled, how did i miss?? He disappeared into the trees and never gave me another chance. We climbed up a little ways into the cliffs and sat for a while, hoping the other billy would come down to check out the ruckus. He never did and I was feeling pretty frustrated. The fog started to roll in and we made the decision to go back to the truck before we got stuck up there with no visibility. When we got down, Kyle wanted to go check the zeroes on the rifles. He was confused at the turn of events, I kept saying I felt solid and his rifle has killed 2 goats in the last 2 weeks
without fault. We left the area and headed down low to shoot them at our metal gong. My gun was still on, Kyle's was shooting 4 inches to the left at 100 yards. I was relieved that it wasn't me that caused the miss but I was still pretty down. Did i just lose my chance at filling my tag? With the cloud cover low again and not letting up I wasn't very hopeful. We had to leave the next afternoon and if we didn't find a goat right away than all i had was the next morning. We went and checked another valley but it was fogged in worse then the area we were just in. So we made the decision to go back and hope we could catch something moving below the fog line. We were coming up to the slide that Warren had shot his goat out of 2 years prior, but there was a slide before that one- so we slowed down to take a look. I was on the wrong side of the truck so couldn't see up the slide, but it didn't take long and Kyle slammed on the brakes-Goats! He was instantly out of the truck with the spotter. 2 young billies and 2 nannies. So I got my pack and my rifle out. They were 800 yards, we had to hike up into the slide to get closer, this time we brought Onca along. We got as close as we could without them busting us, 500 yard shot. Kyle gave me his rifle again and I got set up. I wasn't nearly as stable as the morning shot but stable enough to make a shot. I put the 500 marker on him and squeezed my trigger. Kyle watched in his binos and said he went down. Over and over again I asked him if he was sure he went down and he repeatedly told me I folded him. I felt a little better but was not getting my hopes up until I had him in my hands- all I needed was another fiasco like my elk!

"I have learned not to celebrate 
until I have my animal in my 
hands because as soon as I celebrate,
I shake uncontrollably." 

Kyle decided he wanted to try and get the other billy, so he grabbed the rifle and took a shot. I was watching in my binos and he missed, I watched the rock blow up above its back. Then all hell broke loose and there were goats scattering all over the place. Finally things seemed to quiet down so we decided to head up and retrieve my billy. He died in the cliffs above the alders, and let me tell you....that slide is NOT what it seemed from the road. From the road it looked like it was nice and open most of the way up with a gradual increase in steepness, then comes to a short alder patch then clears up again just before a bit of cliffing. NOT! The entire slide is thick alders and it gets steep fast then continues to get steeper the closer you get to the cliffs. And under all those alders its grass and with the rain it was very slick. Anyway, we get up to the rocks and Kyle decides to go up to find my goat while I stayed with the packs and Onca. Onca wanted to go with him but the rocks were steep and slick and the bush on the top of them were 10 times thicker than the alders we just fought through. So I'm standing there with my rifle strapped to my pack- on my back, petting Onca when I hear Kyle yell Get ready he's coming! I'm like what the --??? So I yell back, "What do you mean he's coming???" I was under the impression I killed that goat. All of a sudden the bushes start shaking violently jut above me to the right but they are so thick I cant see him, until he is RIGHT THERE! He pops out of the alders about 15 yards to my right and starts walking straight towards me. I froze. My rifle was still strapped to my pack on my back and I didn't want to make him bolt, but he was going to walk right into me! I momentarily forgot Onca was sitting on my feet until he started growling at the goat walking at us. The goat stopped at about 12 feet from me and focused on Onca. My thoughts went to Oh Sh*t what if he comes after Onca? Thankfully he didn't and instead he turned around to head back towards Kyle (who was about 100 yards above us still fighting his way down the cliffs) giving me the time to whip off my pack and grab my rifle. I put my rifle up, announced to Kyle I was taking a shot, and all I could see was hair- my scope was on 15 but I didn't have time to fiddle with it. I found the top of his shoulder in the scope and went down a little ways and fired. He dropped on the spot about 10 yards from me, then rolled down to 15 yards below me before he got hung up on some alders. About 10 minutes later Kyle's head poked out at the top of the cliff asking if I got him. He then proceeded to tell me his story of finding him, still alive, 10 feet from him in the thick bushes. My first shot did get him and that's why he dropped but it was a little far back, so he didn't die right away. 

After we got our pictures out of the way, Kyle insisted on packing him out whole. We didn't have any cliffs to deal with, just alders but even with that he fell down a lot. I kept asking if he was sure he didn't want to quarter it up and he insisted on doing it, and he said it was faster this way and was concerned about bears.

I have been on 3 goat hunts now (my own hunts, I've been with Kyle for his), 2 being successful and the successful ones always ended with a close encounter with a goat.  
I'm pretty happy to finally have my billy!! My first goat was a nanny, so I'm happy to be able to say I have a billy under my belt as well.  
 ** Sorry about the different sizes in font...I have literally spent 2 hours trying to get it all to be the same and I give up. **

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Broken Curse

Hunting season. So it begins for a new year...archery starts September 1st-9th and rifle opens the 10th. Some are polishing up their archery skills before opening day and even more are cleaning their rifles in anticipation for 10 days later. Kyle and I are among the few that get to start our season early in hopes of beating the rush. Some come in from all over the province for archery season while many come in for rifle. Most are in hopes of scoring on an elk. Ive been hunting since 2005 and have not gotten an elk..year after year i would try my hardest and get out whenever i could. Most of the time with my 2 kids in tow. It wasn't easy and i kept wondering if maybe i was cursed. Would this be the one animal that would elude me and haunt my dreams for all my days? Or has it just been year after year of bad luck and my time will come? Either way i started my year with hope that this would be it.
The archery season came and i was ready. 

I headed out opening day, kids at the grandparents, so i had the whole day to myself to hunt. I met up with my friend James and his boy to hunt in the morning. We seen 2 cows and a calf first thing in the morning, they were pretty spooked but i figured i would try anyway. I knew where they would pop out of the trees and i already knew which cow had the calf. I set off and as i came around the treeline to the opening i was stopped dead in my tracks. There was a guy walking slowly down the treeline towards where they would pop out and i was frozen with disbelief. At first i thought maybe he didn't know i was there so i stood there contemplating what to do next. While lost in thought he stopped and turned around. Noticing me standing there he came walking over to me. It didn't take long of talking to him and the hunt was ruined for both of us and I discovered he was well aware that i was chasing them. I left the clearing fuming. That was the first time I've ever had another hunter deliberately ruin my hunt. 

The rest of my archery season go by at a fast pace. We managed to make a trip to visit and Hunt with Kyle's cousin Randy in the next valley over for a couple days. We seen lots of bulls and some were calling but nothing managed to come together for us. Out of the archery season i only missed 1 or 2 days of hunting, i didn't see elk every day but I did see some decent whitetail bucks that I was able to attempt a stalk on. 
The archery season passed and although I was feeling slightly defeated, I was looking forward to rifle season-sort of. This year rifle opener fell on a Saturday, which meant the amount of people in the bush was going to increase big time, more so then if it fell on a weekday. While archery season I can shoot any bull and below 1100m a cow as well, come rifle season its 6 point or better unless you stay below 1100m then spike is open as well. My chances were narrowed down significantly, but at the same time increased. Getting into range of a bull with my rifle would be much easier than with my bow but it was finding a 6 that was the hard part. Last year we had elk everyday of season (except in archery, we seen nothing) but none were legal. 

The day before opener, September 9th, still during archery season and Kyle was on days off. So his parents took the dogs and kids for us and we headed up the valley. The plan was to get up to where Kyle wanted to hunt for the morning of rifle opener and we would hunt our way up with our bows. On our way up we seen a nice black bear but no elk. We got up into the mountains and it was full of people ready for opening morning. Every corner we turned held a new camp, some with multiple trailers, ATVs and trucks. We did see a cow and calf moose. Kyle was frustrated. We glassed until dark and without seeing anything Kyle decided he would rather sleep in our own bed for the night. So we started the long drive home. On the way home I suggested going up to where we had our trail camera in the morning, traffic in there was pretty limited and I just had a good feeling about the area this year, even though we hadn't seen a 6 point in there. He hummed and hawed but i insisted. So in the morning, that was the plan.

We were up early even after a late night, all the gear was still in the jeep so we just had to get dressed and grab the guns then go. It was a closer drive then where we went the night before but difficult to get into with the jeep. We managed to get in with it still dark out and parked down below. The plan was to walk the 2 kms in then go sit where we could see the trail that cut through the clearing  and where the camera was set up. The wind was perfect and it was still fairly dark when we started walking up the road but light enough for me to see the rocks on the road so i didn't kick any. We got up to where the trail cuts through the clearing but it was still too dark for me to walk up it without scaring everything in the valley ( I cant see very good in low light and usually end up kicking something, tripping or falling). As we waited for it to lighten up more I scanned the clearing with my binoculars. I was really happy I had my Minox binos because they work awesome in the limelight. After about 10 minutes of glassing on and off, I found 2 elk. I quietly said Kyle there are a couple of elk on the landing, which was about 500 yards in front of us, but I cant tell if any are bulls. We stayed rooted to the spot, we were in the wide open and didn't want the elk to notice our presence. I watched them through my binos, as it lightened up a little bit more I could tell one was a bull and now Kyle could see through his binos as well. He confirmed the bottom elk was a bull but couldn't get a count on him. We watched until they disappeared around the ridge and we started hiking up to the landing- abandoning our original plan. We got up to the landing and it was finally light enough to see around us without issue, so headed up and followed the ridge. On the other side of the ridge it dropped down into a small clearing without any type of road or trail access. Just as we crested the ridge to see down into the clearing we caught them heading into the trees on the other side- we were too late.
We backed away and went to the landing and decided to go back to plan A, the wind was still good and we had time to get up there before it got too late in the morning. We went up and sat for a couple hours until the wind started to change and swirl. So we backed out. 

We decided to go into town to get some gas and a snack. We tried to decide what to do for the afternoon/evening. I suggested going back to the same area and having an afternoon nap until it was time to go again for the evening. So we did. After a late night and early morning I was tired, the jeep isn't the most comfortable thing to sleep in but i still managed to get a couple hours in. Once it was time to go, we got ready and checked the wind-it was blowing all wrong. It was a huge dampener on our what to do? We took a chance and left the area for another one, we didn't want to stir the area up with our scent and I was dead set on being back in there for the morning. So we drove around, glassing trying to find something but we had no luck at all. After dark Kyle wanted to go all the way back home to sleep but I didn't want to, I wanted to go back up to where we had been that morning and sleep in there, i mean we had the tent and our sleeping gear along with the stove and mountain houses- we were set up to stay on the mountain. So much to Kyles dismay and my persistence and stubbornness- we slept on the mountain. I wanted to be the first ones in there just in-case that bull was a 6. We parked farther down then we had parked that morning and Kyle in all his grumpiness said he didn't want to have to mess around with the tent in the dark or in the morning so I suggested we sleep in the jeep, that didn't make his mood any better. I grabbed my sleeping bag and put my seat all the way back and settled in for the night. It wasn't the best night sleep, my knees disagreed with this sleeping arrangement immensely.

In the morning we didn't even bother eating, we just put our gear on and went up to where we had parked last time. Kyle was concerned we weren't going to see anything, and i was worried as well but didn't want to divert from our course. The night was a very bright night, it was like daylight- you could see everything.We were worried they would leave the clearing earlier and we would miss them again. As we hiked up to the same spot as before we stopped to glass the clearings, there was nothing. So we continued to the clearing  he had disappeared to the morning before. We came up to the ridge and with Kyle being over a foot taller than me, he could see much more than me. We didn't get to far up the ridge when Kyle grabbed my arm and said the bull was bedded in the middle of the clearing.I quickly got my rifle ready while he counted his tines. I got up to a spindly little Christmas tree and used it as a wasn't the best rest. Kyle said he is a six, take him when you are ready. It took my a few seconds to feel like I could take a good shot off that spindly thing. Once I felt a little more comfortable i squeezed my trigger on my new Browning x-bolt 300wsm. After I shot I quickly reloaded, and Kyle was already celebrating. My bullet hit him and he didn't even move, his head just dropped. I instantly started shaking so bad from the adrenaline and cold, I was in shock- I finally after all these years got my elk!! 

Kyle said he would go back the 2 kms to the jeep and bring it up to the landing and grab our packs. I stayed with my rifle ready for either a bear to come in or for the bull to jump up and run (it has happened before to people we know!). I was still shaking pretty badly and I thought I had seen his head move. So I tried my best to look through my binos and keep still to watch him. Sure enough he moved his head again! I got back behind my rifle and tried as hard as I could to stop shaking. I wasn't succeeding very well. One I felt somewhat better I tried to put another in him- and missed. After hearing my gun shot Kyle rushed a little more to get back to me, not knowing if a bear came in or my bull got up. Once he got to me I told him the bull was still alive and to please put a bullet in it to end its suffering- I tried but was shaking to badly. So he did and with that the bull expired right away. 

As we got our packs on and loaded up to hike down to retrieve him, I had a mixture of emotions. I was excited to see my bull but it was now overshadowed by this guilt and doubt. If my shot didn't kill the bull right away, but Kyles did- was it really my bull? Did I just wound him superficially? If I did, how could I claim the bull as mine when it wasn't a killing shot? Was it my fault that the bullet strayed from where I wanted it to go? Did my rifle somehow get knocked out? All these questions would be answered once I got my hands on that bull. 

I desperately needed the answers and I was trying to rush down to my elk, but Kyle wouldn't allow it- he wanted pictures of me when I lay my hands on him. I was impatient. When I finally got to him, I was in awe of his beauty and strength. My shot was a killing shot, it would have just been a longer death and for that I was racked with guilt. I was thankful that Kyle had been with me and was able to make death quicker for him, I didn't expect to have quite that strong of a reaction after shooting him. I always shake a little after I pull the trigger but never so much as to render me useless if I needed to take another shot. My only guess is after trying so hard, doubting myself, working myself up every season, excitement, disappointment...10 years of all these emotions built up, and in that moment of celebration it came out all at once.

After we got some photos, i started to field dress him but I was going to slow for Kyle and he soon took over. So I got all the bags out and the tarp out to put the meat on and held legs when he needed. Once one of the hind quarters were freed from the bulls body I put it on my pack and strapped it down. I managed to get my pack on and get up without any help, the pack didn't feel too bad (Thank you Crossfit!) and I made my way up to the ridge and dropped down to the jeep. By the time I got to the jeep, unloaded the quarter into the jeep and made my way back to Kyle he had the bull pretty well done. He was just working on the head but all the meat was separated. This round I was taking a front quarter, backstrap, tenderloin and the head as well as my rifle- it was much heavier than my first pack. Kyle, being the giant he is, decided to take both quarters, tenderloins and backstraps in one trip. Needless to say I had to help him up off the ground, but he still beat me to the jeep.

A week later I took my gun out to double check my zero. It was off by almost 3 MOA- which was exactly how far over my bullet hit from where I was aiming. I was happy it wasn't me, but confused how my gun got knocked off. It must have gotten bumped or something while it was in the jeep.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On Edge - Spring bear hunt 2016

Bear season, my favorite time of year for many reasons. I love the spring smells, beautiful wildflowers and new babies running around the bush. And of course, you see so many bears! More than any other time of year. This year was slightly unusual as well in the fact that we have seen quite a few mountain goats while hunting for bear, and not in places you expect. Two were right on the bush road.

The season certainly wasn't a slow one for sightings. I was out a lot and only had one day where I didn't see a bear. The best day was 5 bears. The nice part was they weren't just all little guys either, I seen some really nice bears. This year I was a little more picky on what bear I wanted. I ended up hunting mainly with my rifle because it's easier when the kids are with you. We seen a couple monster bears this year, one was when I took a friend out on her first bear hunt. Unfortunately she missed him but he would have been an unreal first bear. We caught him sleeping in the middle of a cut block. The other one was a great big cinnamon bear. Really pretty bear.
We had our Minox trail camera up a few times and got some nice pictures and videos. One thing I was surprised about was only seeing one grizzly bear...and not how we wanted. And that brings us to my bear hunt. 

We were exploring a new area we hadn't been in before. It looked promising and we did see bears but nothing that was really what I wanted. They were all little 4 foot guys except one, he was the biggest we had seen, not a big body on him but he certainly had a melon. It was deceiving. After I let him walk I started to second guess my decision. But it would turn out to be short lived.
After we seen this guy it was basically the end of the road so we thought we would turn around and go back to our trusty spot before it got dark. As we were heading out I was paying attention out my window trying to catch a glimpse of any possible bears when Kyle goes, "Oh there's another one! He looks like a decent bear." So we drove past quite a ways and parked. We jumped out with the guns and hiked back up the road to where he had seen him. I guess the bear had been just about to disappear over the ridge when he had seen him. So we hiked up, hoping we could catch up to him. The ridge he was on opened up to a clear cut and he was already across it by the time we seen him (about 500 yards away from the ridge). He was hanging out near the treeline with a little sow (pic above of sow). They were playing and wrestling around which gave me the opportunity to sneak in closer and get a good rest on a broken tree. By the time I had crawled on my hands and knees and got set, they were only 200 yards away and they had finished their play time and were eating. I made sure Kyle was ready with the camera and settled in to my gun. I touched off the trigger and it was a perfect shot, he jumped then started to run a little to the left and down the hill towards us a bit before he went down. I would say he went no farther then 20yards from where I shot him. The little sow jumped and headed for the treeline but just stayed there. She started feeding again and then noticed we were there, so just stayed put and watched us. I didn't realize until I stood up that I was laying at the edge of a deactivated road and the landing was just to my right.We didn't know where the road came off from the main road. So Kyle said he would go back to the truck and see if he could find it. I stayed and filmed the little sow and waited. It wasn't 10 minutes after Kyle left me that the yelling started. I shut off the camera and got my rifle loaded and ready. The commotion caught the sows attention too and she wasn't sticking around. Then came the rifle shot and more yelling. I knew what it was but I couldn't see very far down to where the road was and where Kyle had gone. After the ridge it drops steep back down to the road so I couldn't see anything. I didnt know where the Grizzly would have gone or where it had come from- I was blind. So I stood my ground with my rifle ready. Kyle then yelled up to me from the ridge that a grizzly had come running in to my gun shot. Kyle had gotten to the ridge and looked down towards the road when he seen it come running out of the bush and on to the road towards us. He had yelled at it and made it stop on the road, but it wasn't willing to leave so he put a shot into the road just in front of the bear which made it turn and leave. But I needed to be on full guard just encase he decided to circle around and try again while Kyle ran up the road to get the truck. I was starting to get anxious when I watched the truck leave one way then come back and go the other way. He was having troubles finding the road up to me, being deactivated with some pretty deep water bars the road hadn't been used so it was grown in and hard to find. He eventually found it and made it up to me, we dragged my bear down to the road because we felt safer skinning it and quartering it up beside the truck. The whole time we were on full alert until we were safely driving away. 
I have heard of grizzlies coming into rifle shots during elk season, but I have never heard of one coming in during the spring. We have had many run ins with them while goat hunting as well, so far we have gotten lucky with no one injured and no injured bears.

Here are some more photos of bears we seen during the Spring:

 The very first bear we seen on the first day
Cute little fuzzball
He did not care that we were watching him at all.
This one was a lot more jumpy
And im pretty sure this one wins the ugliest Bear award...someone didn't winter well


Friday, May 20, 2016

Ibex in Spain

On October 3rd we headed for the ibex hunting area. We had been hunting stag since Sept 29 and now that the ibex season was open we were going to be hunting Beceite Ibex with Daniel Herranz of Trophy Trails. We got there only 30 minutes before dark so we decided to go out and glass. I was surprised by the terrain that they lived in, I was expecting it to be similar to our area and what we hunt mountain goats in. It was much drier and the terrain reminded me more like the Okanagan in BC. They did have some areas of rock cliffs but most of the terrain was rolling hills with pockets of thick brush and not a lot for timber. Hunting them was similar to hunting mountain goat or sheep, glass for them and then go after them.

The first day of hunting we got up in the morning, a couple hours later then what we did for stag- I wasn't complaining, and went for breakfast at the hotels pub/restaurant. We walked in in full camo, the guys walking ahead of me and pulled up a seat at a table. I couldn't help but notice the stares I received from  around the room, made me a little uncomfortable. After we finished we all climbed into Daniels Landrover and headed out. We discussed who would get first Crack at an Ibex, I let Kyle go first because I had success with the stag hunt and I really wanted him to have success.  The morning was pretty slow, we seen a group of ibex and kyle grabbed his bow deciding to make a play (I think he just wanted to see them up close), so him and Daniel headed off and I hung out with RafaOn October 3rd we headed for the ibex hunting area. We had been hunting stag since Sept 29 and now that the ibex season was open we were going to be hunting Beceite Ibex with Daniel Herranz of Trophy Trails. We got there only 30 minutes before dark so we decided to go out and glass. I was surprised by the terrain that they lived in, I was expecting it to be similar to our area and what we hunt mountain goats in. It was much drier and the terrain reminded me more like the Okanogan in BC. They did have some areas of rock cliffs but most of the terrain was rolling hills with pockets of thick brush and not a lot for timber. Hunting them was similar to hunting mountain goat or sheep, glass for them and then go after them.

Later we headed back into the village, Rafael had to head back to Madrid for his boys birthday and wouldn't be back until the next morning. So after lunch and a siesta,  Kyle, Daniel and I headed out for an evening hunt. We went to a different area from the morning and we seen Ibex right away after we parked and started hiking. They were less then 100 yards from us and I loved watching them. Daniel said they were young so we moved on. We found another lone one but he was on the move and when the wind shifted his direction he was really on the move. But all we had to do was turn and look the opposite direction from him and 2 were at the top of a hill. Daniel confirmed they were decent and when one bedded down we figured it would be the perfect time to try. I decided to stay back and planted myself down by a bush, I figured the guys would go but I was surprised when Daniel planted himself beside me and Kyle went. Ibex have very good eyesight, Kyle only made it 20 yards from us before the ibex pegged him out. After what felt like an hour stare down, they got up and left. Kyle came back over and we pointed out the other 2 we were watching while he was frozen in place, on the adjacent hill from us. Again, Daniel kept his place beside me and Kyle took off after the new ibex. After kyle left we lost sight of him, so we watched the ibex hoping they wouldn't leave. Then, just before dark we heard a loud Crack sound reverberate from the hill back to us. We both came to the conclusion that he took a shot, but we didn't know any more. We scanned the hillside with our binos, then Daniel spotted him climbing up the rocks. We decided to go help him. We found his ibex just before it went to dark to see, it had made it to the rock cliffs and fell down them (I'm guessing that was the cracking noise). We decided to come back the next day to retrieve him.

It was a chilly night so we decided to hunt first in the morning then go and get Kyles Ibex. With there being no predators we didn't have to worry about animals eating it, besides the vultures but we fixed things up so they couldn't get him. Rafael had made it back in time to hunt and he would be able to see the ibex. It was another slow morning, all we seen were females and young males. I was starting to see a pattern with the slow mornings and active evenings, so I was excited for the evening hunt. We went to get Kyles Ibex fairly early in the morning after a short hunt, he was able to get some nice pictures with it and haul it off the mountain. While on the way back to the village we picked up a nail in one of our tires. It was a scramble to get back into town and get it off and fixed before the evening hunt. Fortunately we were able to get it fixed at a local shop. While we were sitting outside waiting, the shop owners mother was visiting with Daniel. She came over and asked me a question in Spanish, Daniel translated for me and she had asked if I was a hunter too. Standing there in all camo I was a little surprised by the question. Afterwards Daniel let me know that there were not many women that hunt in Spain. That explained the staring.
Once we were fixed up we rushed back to load up the packs and bows back in the Landrover so we could head out again. We decided to go to a new area from the morning and night before. It was extremely windy. We got out to do some glassing and I wasn't able to because the wind was blowing so hard. The wind was blowing the guys' hats off their heads and the occasional gust was strong enough to knock me off balance.  Finally we found a quieter valley and we stopped to glass. There was a nice one bedded down near the top of the mountain in front of us. I decided to try and make a play on him. He was watching us so we had to go back down the valley and around. We parked in a field and loaded up our gear. We had to hike up one mountain away from the one the ibex was on. Once we got up and across so that we could see the mountain the ibex were on, we checked to see if he had moved or if there were others with him. There was only one we could see feeding in the oak trees. Daniel made the call that we could go for him, so Rafael and Kyle stayed back and watched while Daniel and I hiked down then up the mountain the ibex were on. When we came up over the crest he was only 75 yards from  us, but too far for me to shoot with my bow. So we stalked in a little closer. 60 yards was as far as we could go without him seeing us. So we waited. He closed the distance into 40 yards coming right at us. We were hiding behind a juniper bush and he was on the other side of one. Daniel could see his whole body, but me being short couldn't see his whole body but enough for me to make a shot.  I knew my arrow trajectory and knew it would miss the bush and drop into him. It was starting to get low light and so i made the half second decision to take the shot. I pulled back, anchored and let my arrow fly. Daniel was watching in his binos and whispered in my ear "it missed". I was in disbelief,  I have never missed at 40 yards, ever. My arrow went an inch above his back and he was gone. We figured out there was a dead branch sticking up that I didn't see in the low light because it blended with the black hair of the ibex and it caused my arrow to deflect. There was a wide range of emotions running through my head, Daniel was trying his best to cheer me up and be encouraging. He did get me laughing and smiling but the disbelief was still there. We radioed Rafael and Kyle to let them know what was going on. We met them back at the car and told them what happened.  After, they decided to fill me in that it was a Gold medal Ibex and would have been the world record for women's bow.  Brand new disbelief rushed through me, along with annoyance and frustration at myself for missing the shot. But, that's hunting. It was dark when we got to the car so after the story telling we headed back to the village for dinner and bed. Daniel offered me to use his rifle for the next day instead of my bow, I told him I'd think about it.

When we woke up the next morning I was sad to think it was our last day in Spain and that we would be heading back to Madrid that evening. Which meant this was my last chance to kill an Ibex,  and from the previous mornings I knew that mornings were slow. At breakfast, I accepted Daniels offer to use his rifle. It was a beautiful Sako in 300 mag caliber. It would be my first time shooting a 300, but I wasn't concerned. After shooting Rauls rifle during stag, my only concern was the fit. Rauls rifle was too long, but Daniels fit like a dream and was lightweight. We loaded up and went to a new area. It was much different terrain compared to the other areas we were in. It was rolling hills with clumps of juniper bushes and little oak trees, not much for hard climbing. We walked to a deep ravine/valley and glassed the other side. Right away we seen a group of females. After a while, Kyle and Daniel at the same time announce they see one. It was more then one,  one turned into a group of 20. All males ranging from very young to a massive Gold medal. We decided to drive back around to that side of the valley and hike down to hopefully cut them off. It was hard to see more than 20-30 yards, there were so many pockets of brush. We ended up scaring a small group of females but we kept going. We came out to some rocks that overlooked a dip in the hill and there bedded down were 2 ibex with others feeding in and out of the brush. We went down below the rocks so we weren't so exposed,  but the brush was to high and we lost sight of the ibex. We were going to have to take a chance being in the open, we wouldn't be able to stalk in closer with all the eyes and not knowing where they all were. So Daniel and I lay out on the rocks with the gun out in front of me. I had some troubles finding them again, but from where we were laying we could only see the one bedded. It took me a minute before I found him but once I did I kept the scope and my eyes on him so I wouldn't lose him again. It felt like we had been laying on the hard rocks for half an hour,  but all I could see of him was his face and horns so I had to wait for him to get up. Finally he got up and was half hidden by bush. He started down hill straight towards us, I could hear Daniel curse under his breath. I stayed patient and focused on my breathing, following him with my scope, waiting for a good opportunity.  He stopped in an opening facing straight towards us, I waited for him, hoping he would take a side step or turn. Eventually, he turned his head to his left and took one big step that same direction,  as soon as I had his shoulder I squeezed the trigger. When the shot went of it kicked up a bunch of dust that blew back into Daniels and my eyes so we couldn't see. Rafael and Kyle watched the whole thing and confirmed it was a good hit and Kyle knew where he ran too.  We headed over to where he was, he only went about 30 yards from where I shot him. And there he was, I was so excited that I forgot about the night before it no longer mattered. I had my first ibex and I couldn't have been happier. We did get a bit of a surprise when we got him out of the brush, he was missing an eye. Kind of cool.
After photos and field dressing him, I packed him back to the car and we had to rush back into town so we could get our stuff out of the hotel.  We were only 2 hours or so late. Afterwards it was such a blur trying to get all our gear stuffed into Rafaels Landrover and double checking Daniels to make sure we didn't forget anything, then the long drive back to Madrid. Kyle and I went for dinner with Rafael and his wife to a delicious seafood restaurant. We got back to the hotel at midnight and I was still to hyped from my ibex to sleep. We were up at 4 am to get to the airport so we could fly back home,  I think I got only 2 hours sleep. It was an amazing trip and experience, and I can not wait to go back!