Sunday, October 28, 2018

Always The Bridesmaid...

I've seen this show before.

The uncanny ability of my father to be successful in the great outdoors knows no end.  When stories like this year's 2018 general deer opener in Eastern Washington comes about, I just smile and laugh.  It's happened so many times like this it's no fluke.

So onward with the story

Hunting mule deer in the channeled scablands of Eastern Washington is a unique experience.  It's rugged basalt channels mixed with rich wheat country.  It's farms and CRP, bunchgrass and tractors, deer and pheasants all coming together in a unique beauty that I absolutely love.  I've hunted farms in this area since I was 12  and each time I step on these pieces of property it's like a well worn book that you know well, but still can and will surprise you to no end.

Opening morning had us in our respective usual spots just before shooting light.  I climbed a dramatic rise up from the wheat fields to cover the cuts and draws that the deer return to bed down in each morning, Dad covering the outlets from down below. 

Like clockwork, 3 does came back to their beds immediately after sunrise but from there the action stopped.   A half hour or so after,  the crunching of cut wheat to my left wasnt a deer as a I hoped, but another hunter.

A member of the family who owns the land had a similar plan as me and I backed off to dad's position to to reassess.   Dejected, I sat down with OMR to find a new plan and hopefully find a deer with the requisite 3 points needed to make it legal

"Why dont you hike down the property about a half mile and watch the other big draws on the property and see if that other hunter jumps a buck out that could run to you"

Great plan...

Leaving dad,  slowly make my way to the destination, carefully watching for other deer that may be escaping the gaze of the other hunter.  Getting to my spot, I sat down and began glassing.

No more than 5 minutes later, as they say on the t.v. show Meateater....BLOUCHE!

The shot had come from right where I had left.   OMR's juju just doesnt stop.

No more than 5 minutes I had left him, a nice big bodied buck came into view.  Hanging up just under 300 yards, dad took the opportunity to fill his tag

Getting back to him, he was unsure of what had happened to the deer.  Not seeing it run off, but still unable to see it gave us a bit of an uneasy feeling.

Finally as we got to within 75 yards, the buck materialized.  Double lung with spine, the deer had died in an instant.  I will always remember turning around to my father who was trailing me, raising my hands in success and watching him light up knowing he had done it.  At 78, who knows how many more deer will fall to his well worn .270 Savage.   I'll relish that happy moment forever.

The deer was unique.  Massive body but very weird horns, the well worn teeth told the story of a buck on the downward trend of his life cycle.

I know what my role is in this situation.  Brute force for animal extraction. 

We laughed at the situation.  We marveled at his luck and excellent shot.  I thanked him for sending me away so I wouldn't get the deer (kidding)

Another opening day in the books.  Always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Real Field To Table Example...

Hungarian Partridge.  A quality prize in the upland fields.   One for their feathers, two for the quality mails they provide.  This "hun" provided one of the best meals I've had lately.  Enjoy the ride.

Quickly cleaned, doused with salt and pepper and a quick 30 minutes on the cold smoke setting via the Traeger.

3 minutes on 375 per side and bingo, done.

For the finished delivery, I kept it simple.  Avacado, cheese and the last of the home grown tomatoes.  A little mayo finished it off and it was damn near heavan.

Enjoy the upland season, and hopefully you connect on a few dinners out there.  Good luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What A Beautiful Sign...

Bouncing around the dirt roads across the west, you see a lot signs.  Mostly the ones as a hunter or fisherman you dont want to see.

No Trespassing.   No Hunting.  Private Land.

It can be a bit deflating when looking for access.

But, when you see a sign like this it sticks out like a glowing neon sign.

It's beautiful.

Want to join a great group of folks who work hard to protect public land and access, look no further than Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

When 13 is Lucky...

13 is a hell of a number....mostly unlucky

According to Wiki, really, really unlucky

The number 13 is considered an unlucky number in some countries. ... Fear of the number 13 has a specifically recognized phobia, Triskaidekaphobia, a word coined in 1911. The superstitious sufferers of triskaidekaphobia try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen.

Combine 13 with steelhead, you got a doozy

I've got the chance to meet a lot of really great people within the steelhead world and Travis is right up there.  He's one of those guys who just exudes positivity and has a very creative lens he looks at the world through.  For the past 3 year's he's fallen down the steelhead rabbit hole and he burns up the road between home in Missoula to swing water across the west summer, fall and winter.

Steelhead can be an un-reciprocating lover.  Spend all your time thinking about her, planning trips, wrapping bugs and the like with sometimes nothing in return.  Couple that with low returns, the scales sometimes have a tough time tipping in your favor.

So back to 13.  Travis was on an unholy 13 day unlucky bender of a streak with no love back from his quarry.  13 days staring at the water, watching his swing and questioning everything he's doing.  It's a fertile ground for fishing insanity.  

I've been there.  We've all been there.  It's terrible.


When it all lines up to break that streak, how sweet it is.

Throughout it all Travis kept his positive attitude and fly in the water.  I was fortunate to be standing behind him in the run when the picked up the bug and ran, hard.  

The best way I could describe the next couple minutes was focused giddiness.  The tension of 13 days gone, replaced by elation.    

The dam had broken and all the pent up frustration was elevated.  Travis cradled the steelhead, paid his respects and sent her on her way.  As the tail flicked and she rocketed off, he shouted his happiness with fists raised to the air

13 days.  Sometimes time is the only penance to solve the solution

Maybe 13 can be lucky.... 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


My obsession with steelhead flies knows no end....

Thinking a lot lately about why I'm drawn to natural and buggy style patterns,  especially akin to the pallet and style of the  October Caddis emergence in September and October.

The rivers I fish do have a preponderance of this bug and they are super effective at connecting with an ocean run rainbow, but when you really think about it just as many are caught on flies that share zero resemblance to the gigantic bug nugget floating and coming up through the water column

Steelhead eat for god knows what reasons.  We can sit and think away for days on the issue and try to give it reason and rhyme, but truth be told we'll never put a firm finger on the why.

Which brings me to my point.  Confidence.

When I'm creating a fly to be offered, I've started to think more towards the angler and what the fly inspires in them .  Sure the classical lines and attributes are followed but when you select the bug out of the box, does it give you that funny feeling in your gut akin to knocking on the door of a girl's house before your first date.?

Yes...then fish that damn thing with full confidence.   It will happen

And in my case, I have a lot of O-Confidence.

Happy fishing out there.  Have a great fall.