Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for February, 2007

Jeanine’s Elk Hunt

Posted by todblog on February 25, 2007

It started out as a fair morning. Temperatures in the 40’s, off and on drizzle, and cloudy but, the gusts of wind hinted that there was more to come. We brought Jacob with us so he could spend some quality time with his mom in the woods (packing her elk) but, he just wanted to hang out in the truck and sleep. Growing teenager thing. Jeanine and I made a nice hunt around a planted clearcut with lots of elk sign. We just knew that around the next corner we’d be looking at a feeding herd of elk. But, it never happened. Lots of tracks and poop… Maybe next time.

We got back to the truck and drove around to some other spots and the temperature started to DROP. It went from 45 to 32 degrees within a half hour. The rain changed to big white stuff falling from the sky.

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We turned on the weather radio and listened to all the warnings and decided to call it quits for the day. Just about that time, our visibility went downhill quickly.

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So, we opted to go home and weather out the storm there. We figured the elk must have known about this and were all taking cover in the thick woods anyway. Jacob perked up at the decision to head home. He had other plans for spending quality time with his mom… (scroll down)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing X-Box

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Posted in 2007, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Late season elk hunt

Posted by todblog on February 22, 2007

February 22, 2007

This past weekend was the opening of Jeanine and my elk hunt west of Roseburg about 3o minutes away from our house. Saturday found us busy with commitments which only left us Sunday to chance finding a group of cow elk in the south half of the huge 208,000 acre Weyerhaeuser Millicoma Tree Farm. It’s the same area that Jacob drew his youth cow elk hunt for the past two years with no success. However, that’s not his fault. Dad chose to hold him off from shooting elk in steep places. In hindsight, we should’ve taken the shots and dealt with the pain later (mainly my pain).

There were only 36 tags available for our late cow elk hunt and after 3 years of applying, we both drew tags to hunt together. Jeanine would be hunting with a Winchester Model 70 chambered in 7mm Rem. Mag. and I was using my trusty .30-06 Browning FN. I handloaded special loads for this hunt using 165 grain Nosler Partitions on top of 57.5 grains of IMR 4350 powder. All that was left was to find some elk.

Sunday morning, 6:30 a.m. came early for the kids as we dropped them off at our neighbors and good friends Ray & Kaye Lehne who treat them like their own grandkids. At 7:15 a.m. we slowly made our way through the tree farm scanning new to six year old planted units (clearcuts) where elk might be visibly out feeding. The weather was cool enough and the forecast predicted rain showers with a chance of snow. That combined with no moon the night before made for great elk hunting conditions.

We pulled off the main road and on a whim turned off on a secondary road that took us by more planted units with no sign of anyone else in the area. We stopped in a wide spot on the road and got out to get a closer look below. Down in the creek bottom way below us were seven elk. By the looks of it, they were all legal elk (cow only hunt). We were excited to see elk so early in our day and they were feeding and clueless of our presence.

The range finder said they were over 400 yards away. We got our gear together and headed down toward the group of elk with the wind in our favor and lots of young trees and brush to conceal our stalk. We wanted to shave off half of that yardage to make a good shot. The elk were busy feeding and walking along a creek bottom with lots of trickling water to help cover our noise. Our chances were pretty good if we could narrow the distance but, we’d have to hurry as elk can walk and feed pretty fast when they are on a mission.

The going was slower than expected with the steep hillside having soft slippery clay soil and scattered logging slash. It was a challenge to negotiate quietly with aging knees and ankles and a backside grown accustomed to ergonomically adjustable office chairs. Once we got closer to where the elk were, we couldn’t see them anymore. By dropping down to them, we lost our elevational advantage and it left us wondering where they might be. My experience has always told me to go slow if in doubt so we don’t bump into them and spook them off. That’s what we did and were treated with the sight of a yellow elk rump walking through small trees. I ranged the distance to be 54 yards. The rest of the elk had to be close by and I told Jeanine to load her gun.

A loud “KLACK” was heard by the elk as Jeanine tried to load her rifle! Two pairs of elk eyes were focused on us as we stood frozen for a couple of minutes. They slowly went back to feeding and it allowed me to ease my way to an opening between the trees. I turned to see what Jeanine was doing and she gestured for me to go ahead. She was too nervous about losing the window of opportunity to get an elk. Where were the rest of them? Were they ahead of this pair or behind? Were they below? Would we see more feeding into an opening or would this be our only chance? Would we be able to clearly identify the elk as cows and not a young bull with spike antlers?

As those questions ran through my mind, one of the elk fed uphill into a small opening between some trees and I could see that it was clearly a cow with its neck outstretched eating grass. The cow took a few more steps and presented an open broadside shot. I wrapped my arm around the sling and snugged the rifle up against my shoulder, peered through the scope and flicked the safety off. I held the crosshairs just behind the front shoulder and touched it off…”KaBoom”. The cow staggered and stood still. I chambered a second round and shot again for insurance. That was all it took.

After the shot, the other elk began to mill around as they gathered somewhere below out of sight. They left the area with branches snapping and popping as they entered an adjacent stand of big dark timber. Not once did they reveal themselves to us.

It was 8:15 a.m. and there was a lot of work to be done. We boned out the elk and loaded meat bags onto our pack frames and humped it up the hill back to a nearby road. The GPS said it was 520 feet to the road but, that was a horizontal measurement, it didn’t take into account the slope we had to climb. Take one step forward and slide 4 steps backward and try to halt your slide by grabbing some blackberry vines! The weather was constantly changing on us that morning from sunny to rain to hail to snow to sleet. It kept us cool on the hike uphill.

It was a great day to be out elk hunting and getting one was simply icing on the cake. What truly made it even better was sharing the experience with such a great hunting partner. Afterwards we both shared a bottle of Aleve!

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Posted in 2007, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Girl with a nice pair of racks!

Posted by todblog on February 16, 2007

February 14, 2007

Samantha (Sam) Hall lives on a nearby ranch and works for Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife in Roseburg. She is a hardworking employee and has a lot of fun joking around like her Uncle Jay Potter. Today, she asked me if I wanted to see her racks…

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She found these pair of shed elk antlers close to one another on her ranch and they were a very impressive find. Lot of folks look for sheds in the woods each year and find one side but, seldom a pair and of this size. Each one is about 12-15 pounds. Can’t imagine carrying something that heavy on your head through the forest.

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College Baseball Scholarship

Posted by todblog on February 13, 2007

February 11, 2007

I don’t remember the last time I played golf, my clubs and my swing are both more than a little rusty. Could it be the last time I went golfing was when I went deer hunting on Lanai with the Waimea gang sharing Steve Clark’s one bag of clubs between 8 guys? Those were the days… walk on free golf, no rush, laid back, casual attire (rubba slippas). Even though it’s been years ago, I can still shank em as good as anybody out there!

The last time I stepped on a golf course driving range was to rocket net 100+ geese a couple of years ago, putting reward bands on them for a band return study. Lots of smoke and goose feathers. I haven’t been back to a golf course since, that is, not until this past week.

With basketball season ending and baseball season about to start. It’s time to dust off the glove and bat and bust out the bucket of balls. I always wanted to construct a batting cage for Jacob to practice hitting at home. Our backyard is plenty big enough but, the limiting factor was always getting the net.

Last year I put the word out to my friend and fellow district wildlife biologist Stuart Love (Parker High School Grad on the Big Island) in Charleston that I was looking for scrap net pieces from commercial fishing vessels as they became available (old nets). Last week he called me to say that the local Coos Country Club was removing their driving range net and replacing it with a new system. They were having a hard time disposing of the net and were thinking that wildlife folks might want them for trap construction, etc. Well, I made a trip down there and took a couple of piles with my assistant and it was hard work trying to move a mountain of net in the back of my truck and trailer bed. It was all balled up with lots of branches and cables, sticks with nails, blackberry vines, etc. We actually broke into a sweat!

After returning to work, I kept thinking of how valuable that netting is and what it would cost to buy that much….a lot of money. We have wildlife rocket nets made from the same material sized at 30 x 60 ft for $2500 + shipping. Well, I contacted the manager and asked if I could get more net for baseball related use and he said to hurry on down. So, I went back Saturday to the driving range and got 2 more piles. This time in my personal truck and trailer. One section is 72 x 100′ and the other is 52 x 100′. Plenty of room for a batting cage in the backyard! The driving range is 300yds long and has net on 3 sides of it! Here are some pics of the excursion. It cost $20 in gas and a half day to get it and come back. Not a bad deal.

There is plenty extra net for other parents who fantasize about their all-star kid having a shot at a baseball college scholarship… once they wake up from that dream there’s always eBay…

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First net loaded from a pile in the parking lot. The trailer is a home made 5×8. Not as good as a Custom Made but, it’s my first one…

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On the driving range we are picking out 100 feet of net to cut away from the huge bunch on the ground.

 

 

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The easy part was getting it loaded into my truck with a crane. No big tangled ball.

Stu tells me that elk are a regular nuisance on the course and leave their tracks on the golf course. They don’t bother to replace their divots or pick up their calling cards!

Posted in 2007, Sports, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Scoring Jacob’s First Buck

Posted by todblog on February 8, 2007

January 31, 2007

We recently received word that Jacob’s first buck that he got in the fall of 2005 earned him a spot in Oregon’s Big Game Record Book. The large buck ranks #2 for youth rifle eastern Oregon white-tailed buck. Congratulations to Jacob! Hopefully he’ll appreciate this achievement one day (probably after many more years of hunting and getting skunked like his dad). Here is the story of that buck measuring event…

February 19, 2006

Today I worked the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife booth at the
Douglas County Sportsman Show and got to hang out for the afternoon clean-up.
It was pretty slow and uneventful… at least nobody was in my face
about wolves, cougars, spotted owls or not drawing an antelope tag
for the umpteenth year again.

I took Jacob’s whitetail deer rack from our October eastern Oregon
hunt and visited the Northwest Big Game measuring booth to get it
scored. That’s all I wanted to do. There were some very impressive
racks and mounts sprawled out along the wall and booth. When I got to
the front of the line, I asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to
measure a whitetail rack for my son. The guy behind the booth
suddenly came to life and said, “We don’t get to measure many of
those, lemme see it.” He then asked me how old Jacob was when he shot
the deer. He then asked me to hand him the text book lying on the
table behind me. His next words were, “You really ought to think
about entering this score for the record book, I can tell you without
measuring, it’ll make the youth category…”

I was upset.
All I wanted was a number, a score, that’s all. Now I was being made
to feel guilty if I didn’t consider entering my son’s antler score
for some long list of youth hunters (ages 12-17) where he would
surely tie for 35th place or worse. So, I arm wrestled with myself
and forked out the $20 entry fee.

I went back to my booth and waited an hour for the measuring and
scoring to take place on Jacob’s antler rack.
When I returned, I was told that the #1 youth eastern Oregon
whitetail rifle score is 130.
Jacob’s antler score is 126 4/8, which I’m told places it 2nd or
3rd in the record book.

Now I guess I get to buy the big fat coffee table book when it gets published
this summer!

The measurer then told me, “Too bad you didn’t submit this rack for scoring yesterday, it would’ve been a guaranteed winner for the rifle scope prize and got you into the ATV drawing.”

Boy, more good news, just dump the salt in the wound!

When I came home that night and told Jacob the news about his score, he was shocked at first. Then he
proceeded to tell me, “I told you we should’ve got the deer mounted
dad…”

I couldn’t bring myself to tell him about the rifle scope and ATV.

Posted in 2007, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Umpqua Winter Steelhead

Posted by todblog on February 2, 2007

February 2, 2007

January and February are usually good months to find winter steelhead negotiating their way up rivers in Oregon making their journey to spawning grounds upstream. It is a cold time of year to be out fishing and the temperatures can dip down to below freezing at times. It’s not uncommon to see smokey columns rising out from river banks as bank fishermen (aka “bankies”) attempt to warm themselves with a crackling fire as they await fish to bite their anchored baits.

This past week I was blessed to be invited to go fishing with Jay Potter. Jay is a local boy who grew up on the Umpqua River spending a lot of time catching salmon and steelhead from the bank and boats. He has a great reputation of bringing home fish! If he blanks, there just ain’t no fish there. So, getting an invite from such a great angler was not something to turn down. What made it even sweeter was the fact we’d be fishing 1/2 mile down the street from our house at Cleveland Rapids on the Umpqua River.

The last couple of weeks have brought us high pressure weather which means clear and cold nights, foggy cold mornings, clearing in the mid afternoons. Not exactly ideal for steelhead fishing as they tend to be sluggish during cold weather periods and less apt to chase down a bait that’s not coming directly at them.

Jay and I employed a technique called side-drifting. It basically involves casting your bait slightly upriver at a 45 degree angle and letting it settle down to the bottom as you drift alongside in your boat. The lead weights used will vary with the amount of current you’re trying to fish. The weight should just bounce along the bottom as it drifts downriver. In front of the weight is the bait that flutters along the bottom hopefully finding its way into a fish’s mouth. Meanwhile, you need to keep your eye on the rod tip and be ready to set the hook as a fish takes the bait in its mouth.

We fished for a good 4 hours wondering if the weather would warm up. It didn’t. Would we get a strike at least? Nobody else was catching anything so, we didn’t feel too bad. Just before we were about to call it quits, Jay’s rod tip started to bounce! Hook-up! After a few minutes, I netted a nice 8 lb. hen steelhead for Jay. Here are some pics of our adventure…

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No, it ain’t salt! These are cold weather rods with frost on them! We had to dip the rod tips in the water every now and then to remove the ice from the guides…

Jay Potter and his Umpqua River Steelhead

Jay with his 8 lb Umpqua River Steelhead

Yellow Yarn Ball

This steelhead fell for a yellow and pink yarn ball on 8 lb. test leader.

Posted in 2007, fishing, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »