Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome Women Huntresses

This story is of a young woman's first duck. It was in my "in box" when I returned home from my recent deer hunt. I was so thrilled to read her waterfowl hunting story that I asked her if I could share it with the rest of my readers and she agreed.

It is for young upcoming women huntresses (like Tiffany Robertson) that I started the Women's Hunting Journal blog, offering encouragement, support and sharing my 30-plus years of bird hunting experience with other women hunters. Tiffany already understands that hunting is about being present in those wild places. As a woman huntress she feels the magic of being an active participant in her environment.

Reading her correspondence I can't help but reflect back to my early years hunting: Feeling the chill of a cold frosty Autumn morning; glistening frost covered leaves, cattails and marsh grasses. A thin layer of ice covering the flooded fields as my dad and I walked along the dike edge to our blind. The ground was white with frost as we layed our gear down and settled in. Soon the sun would rise enough to take the chill away. We watched the frost turn to water dripping off the cattails, the small Marsh Wrens finding a sunny stalk to sit on and glean a bit of warmth, singing joyously to all that listened. These are just a few of my fond memories of being a young woman huntress. I am fortunate to be able to participate in hunting and be in wild places. Thank goodness hunting season is finally here again!

Please welcome a new woman hunter to the duck blind. Enjoy and keep the magic alive!
My First Duck Hunt!
by Tiffany Robertson

I live in North Dakota and the opportunities to hunt waterfowl are awesome here. My boyfriend has been hunting for years now and I begged to have to have him take me out. First, I went to the gun range to get a little last minute practice.

We then left for my first waterfowl adventure on Sunday, October 5th, 2008. After 2 hours in the truck,we arrived at a field full of ducks feeding (at least 1000). With our gear, decoys, and dog, we walked alongside the field over a hill to a nearby slough where the ducks would come to sleep that evening. The weather was windy and rainy, perfect conditions for duck hunting.

We carefully placed our decoys in the slough and got into ready position. As my boyfriend called them in, I took a shot at my first drake overhead. He came down beautifully and Dakota (our golden) went to retrieve it. Never before had I seen something so beautiful. The drake was about 2 years old with 2 curls on his tail. After this moment, I didn't even care if I shot another duck. We did an evening hunt from 5-7 pm. Although a few got away, I still managed to shoot my limit of 4 mallard drakes and 1 mallard hen. My boyfriend couldn't have been more proud of his little hunter. This was my first hunt but definitely not my last. At the end of the evening, I cleaned and debreasted all the ducks myself. Memories I will never

Thank you Tiffany for sharing your story and I trust it will inspire more women to give hunting a try. Best of luck to you during your first season of waterfowling. Keep the stories coming.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Code Of The West

Alright, you are gearing up for the big game season and you've got some green horns or flat landers in your party. Not the experienced, tried and true hunting partner you've had for the past many years. Which means ultimately there are going to be some bugs that need working out. What I am referring to is the split. So someone in your party harvests an animal and there was no discussion before hand about splitting up the meat . This can either break friendships or create long lasting ones. It is a serious topic which needs to be addressed before leaving home.

Imagine, you just worked your a-- off helping to pack out a big Elk that your friend shot. This was on the next to last day of the season and everyone is celebrating up until the conversation turns to sharing the spoils. Soon you realize that you won't be getting your share. Instead of making a big deal about it you keep your mouth shut and remember to never hunt with that person again. You are more than a bit peeved and rightly so.

Anymore if I hunt with someone new I make a point of discussing it thoroughly. If you are all out there for the same reason and put forth an effort than it ought to be split fair and square. With my friends we call it the code of the west. My hunting partner John and I are about fairness and reciprocating. We make sure if we hunt with a newby that we are all in agreement about sharing of the meat. That way there are no surprises or hurt feelings and everyone has a good time.

Just curious to hear how the rest of you big game hunters and huntresses address this or don't before you head out. Have you had some hurt feelings or folks you won't hunt with anymore or both? What are your codes of the west ?

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This season's Elk hunt began with the usual enthusiasm and energetic spirit. My friend John and I didn't draw our controlled hunt tags, so we hunted the Cascades general rifle season. Neither of us had heard any news regarding Elk numbers in the region, so we went about our business and put in our time.

We hunted in the same area as last year, so we are getting to know it better and better. We had permission to hunt private property adjacent to public land. We hunted the same season last year, so we were somewhat familiar with it. When it comes to Elk it pays to scout and get to know your hunt unit as best you can, and even then there is certainly no guarantee you'll be successful in harvesting an Elk. We had heard sightings of 2 bulls in the area the day before the season opened. One a 5 point and the other a 6 point. We never saw either of them, yet our hopes were high that we might get lucky. It seems that they know when the season opens and when it closes and make themselves able to evaporate in a moments notice.

The weather leading up to opening day had turned mild with cold nights and sunny days. No precipitation and a growing moon. This is your typical Indian Summer, yet not so welcomed when it's hunting season. Also known as bluebird weather by the waterfowlers. Anyhow we crunched our way through the timber and over hill and dale to no avail. We worked the low river bottoms covered with Willows and only once did John push a couple Elk out of their hidey hole. The cover was so thick that a shot was not possible. My heart raced with the sounds of antlers ticking through the willows and the hooves pounding along the edge of the stream. It is so darn frustrating to have adrenaline surging and yet unable to use it. It is like an invisible target that you can hear but not see. For such a large animal as Elk are to be able to hide themselves so well is truly amazing. Hiding in plain sight, the elusive obvious. I do wonder what I did not see and was I ever close enough for a shot? Those questions will remain unanswered, yet I give myself the benefit of the doubt and say nope, and repeat the question.

We were in the woods before daybreak and back to camp after dark every day and saw very few tracks. I never did find fresh droppings, not even close. The few tracks we did find were from night time movement or just before day break. No frost in the tracks, yet no Elk in the tracks either. The dirt was very dry and little moisture in the ground. Up in the woods was even tougher to track with the pine needles and no moisture. After 5 full days of hunting our optimism was seriously waining. We hadn't heard of many bulls being taken. Also with fewer hunters in the field it was tougher to get the Elk pushed out of their hiding spots. Just to much real estate to cover. We put in a solid 1/2 day on this past Thursday then called it. Neither John or myself throw in the towel easily and yet, we just didn't see enough fresh sign to convince us to go back out Friday for the last day of the season. The tracks we saw were only a handful of Elk at most, no large numbers. As John says "Elk are like gold, they're where you find them". Truer words were never spoken.

So we called her quits and broke camp all the while scratching our heads. We had a fun time none the less and saw River Otters, White headed Woodpecker, lots of Specs and other waterfowl. We groused (startled) a Grouse and he Groused us back and all the while figuring we'd have limits of Specs if only we had our shotguns with us. We ate like kings and queens, laughed and told stories and enjoyed our time together in the pursuits of the still elusive Wapiti. We are already discussing next years controlled hunt and the points that we have. Hopefully we will draw our tags and have something to put in the freezer when we return home. I guess ordering that half beef wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Review: Icebreaker 260 Tech Top

I accidentally happened upon this product a year ago when I received a shirt as a gift (wrong size) and the store didn't have my size, so I decided to splurge and try the Icebreaker. The store owner told me that all of her employees wear Icebreaker and not synthetics anymore. I was interested to find out for myself just what the buzz was about.

It didn't take me long to understand what her employees were raving about. To start with the top is made with 100% pure New Zealand merino wool. It does not itch, is excellent at wicking moisture and insulates when wet . This top has a long zipper to help control temperature. It has long sleeves with thumb holes which I found quite beneficial in helping to keep my hands warm during late season hunts. I did not feel that the thumb holes interfered with my gun handling abilities nor did they impede circulation. The Tech Top has long tails which also help keep the back side warm when sitting or lying in a ground blind. I really like that feature. I was perhaps most amazed with the fact that after 5 days of hauling 747 goose shells, ground blind etc. that I didn't stink to high heavens! The Tech Top does not hold oder. Let me say that again, it does not hold oder! Unlike capilene and other synthetics, which in less than half day is stinky after shuffling decoys or walking and jump shooting. Being a big game huntress the fact that the Tech Top doesn't hold oder is a huge plus. I am looking forward to the start of Elk hunting this Sat. Oct. 18, '08. Let me also say that it feels good against my skin, cozy and comfy. It hugs your body comfortably and moves with you. Yet retains its shape and doesn't get baggy after time.

I found the Tech Top to be quite versatile regarding temperature ranges for the sheer fact that is has a long zipper to adjust for heat dissipation. Also I can snuggle my nose and cheeks under the turtleneck when it is fully zipped. That is an added bonus when it's windy and or cold.

As for the seams, I did not have any discomfort at all from any of them. No chafing, or jabbing from poor workmanship. This is the best of the best from my experience. The price is a bit steep, although considering the tops versatility, durability and the "no stink" factor I can easily get past the cost. Retail is $99.99 for the top and is offered in several color choices. I am going to continue to give this top a work out and will let you know if my opinion changes. Honestly, I don't think that will happen with this product.

It reminds of when Thorlo socks were all the rage before SmartWool came on the scene. I had saved and saved to acquire a weeks worth of Thorlo's and then here came Smart wool. After I tried SmartWool socks that was it, sorry Thorlo's. I am now the proud wearer of Smart wool socks for all seasons. So, I am now saving for more Icebreaker products in different weights for the various seasons. Thanks Icebreaker for making such a wonderful product.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Disclaimer: No financial gains were made for my impartial review

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Too Soon,

I wanted to mention a loss to the extended family of NorCal Cazadora. Please visit the Cazadora and show your support. There is a scholarship fund being established on behalf of her friend, Jamie Gonzales. I know money is tight for all of us now, yet I am sending a small donation to help. So if you can afford to send a donation in lieu of your Starbucks Latte that is GREAT! I know that any and all efforts of support mean a lot at a time of loss. Our thoughts are with you NorCal.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wetlands Buck

I had a wonderful deer hunt this past weekend. I even surprised myself on a few counts. I left town last week having some social commitments to address before getting settled in for my deer hunt which opened on Saturday Oct. 4 th.

I had been keeping watch on 5 bucks in a specific area of southern Oregon where I also spend time waterfowl hunting. I arrived a few days early to continue scouting and to hopefully, locate the bucks. The weather turned cold, wet and windy. I was a bit worried they might leave the area in search of cover. I was in sight of them 2 days prior to opening and on Friday I never saw any of the bucks. The weather was whipping up a strong S.S.W. wind and I figured they headed for cover. I was beginning to realize how ill prepared I was for inclement weather. I didn't bring my rain gear, warm coat, fingerless gloves or a warm hat. What the heck was I thinking? I had at least washed my hunting clothes in Atsko Sport-Wash as well as sprayed them with UV Killer before I left home. So I felt confident that my clothing wasn't going to give me away. It poured most of Thursday and again on Friday. Fortunately I had some friends coming to stay with me Friday night after their sons football game, so I asked Dan to swing by my house and grab some gear for me as they departed Central Oregon for the small town of Ashland, Oregon.

Dan, Pam and their son Zac arrived late Friday night after the game. We stayed up and talked into the early morning hours. Zac and Dan filled me in on the game, and their opponents quarterback before nodding off around 1:00 a.m. I had my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. and didn't even need it. I was awake by 5 and up with coffee brewing by 5:30. Dan and I were the only ones awake and enjoying our first cup of coffee. Hell, it's not like I even needed any coffee, as I was already spinning, twittering and anxious as a fox in a hen house to get out and begin my deer hunt. I had a bite to eat as I double (quadrupled) checked that I had packed the gear I needed in my fanny pack. Dan and I chatted about past deer hunts we've had, as we anxiously waited for daylight to break in hopes that the bucks would show themselves. It was 6:50 a.m. and barely daybreak as we both strained to find the bucks in the lowlands.

"There they are," I exclaimed as calmly as is possible for me on an opening day. Dan saw them too. They were in the field beginning to move around and feed. I wanted to wait and see which direction they would commit too. Either moving to the North for protection from the strong winds or else going into the wetlands and bedding down on a grassy dike amongst the tules and long stem bulrush. I was out the door a few minutes later as they seemed to be heading into the wetlands to bed down. Dan wished me luck and was watching from the cabin using my 10 x 42 bins, while Pam and Zac were still sleeping soundly.

I layered up as best as I could and took the long way down from the hill remaining out of eye sight of the bucks. There were 2 of them, the big 4 x4 (or better) and his smaller buddy a stout (bench leg) forked horn. I worked my way down onto the lower slopes of the hill and began glassing. I saw the forked horn briefly as he followed the larger buck into the wetlands crossing 2 ditches and going out of sight. I eased my way up the hill glassing every few steps to see where they were bedding down. To no avail after an hour and a half I never did see them. Knowing full well they were in there I called Dan and asked if he saw where they went? He saw them slip away into the tules and not come out. I told him I will either take the road or go right in after them, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do yet. We hung up and I began my stalk.

I had the wind in my face from the south at about 10 to 15 mph with the occasional gust nearing 20 or more. It was perfect. The low clouds were holding back their impending showers and I was counting my blessings. I moved to where the bucks crossed the 2 ditches and made my decision to go in after them. This was going to be my best option considering how tall the vegetation was. My new Irish Setter boots were now christened, as I was wet up to my knees after crossing the ditches. There was a dike with a decent channel of water on the other side of it. I inched my way very slowly, staying at the edge of where the dike bank met the flooded marsh lowlands. I would take a few steps then look around and glass for the bucks as I headed for the area where they have bedded down before. It was just behind and off to the side of an old telephone pole on top of the dike that I was following. The distance was not more than 75 yards, yet I took my time realizing this will be my best chance, if not my only one.

It took me about 45 minutes to get within 10 feet of the telephone pole. Then the grasses, tules and bulrush were blocking my view. I sat there a minute studying the vegetation in front of me. I was thinking to myself that they have got to be right here! Moments later I saw the outline of an antler, then an ear and realized it was the forked horn. He was looking right at me, bedded down, well at least facing my direction. My heart instantly began pounding and adrenaline flooded my veins. I was kneeling, with my butt on my heels. I looked around me and realized I was at the end of my stalk. If I moved to my right the telephone pole would block my shot and if I stood to try and find the big buck I may not get a shot at all. So I rolled my safety off and made a clean shot on the forked horn. His head dropped and he died instantly. I was within 15 feet of him and neither buck heard or saw me, wow! I waited about a half minute just to make sure he was done before I got up to go to him. As I stepped into the open the big buck was still bedded til he saw me then he sprang to his feet and gave me a 1 second "buck in the headlights look" and then bolted across the ditch. Wow, he was big and knew right where to lay. His little buddy had saved his a-- this time.

I gave Dan a call and told him I had the forked horn down. He said he never heard the shot over the wind, but only saw the big buck bolt out of there. So, he and his son Zac came down and gave me a hand getting him drug out of the marsh and onto dry ground to begin field dressing him. We found a grassy slope and I began field dressing my buck. This was the first time for me to do this on my own, and I guess I fretted about it enough so that it all went without a single hitch. PHEW! Dan and Zac helped by holding the bucks legs apart which was a big help, as was their moral support. We got the buck field dressed, skinned and was done by noon.

Pam came out and watched the skinning and offered to get some coffee going. That was the best tasting cup of coffee that I've had in a long time. I was a bit chilled by the wind and if it wasn't for adrenaline, I'd have been much colder. After the buck was all taken care of we sat down to a fine brunch and recollected about the mornings adventure. I was so thrilled to have my friends there and be a part of the hunt. Memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Thanks for your help Dan, Zac and Pam, there will be some venison in your future!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt
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