Tod's Blog

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

Archive for October, 2007

E-loping

Posted by todblog on October 20, 2007

October 17, 2007

Each spring thousands of hunters apply for antelope tags in Oregon and only a few hundred are lucky enough to draw them [there are more people than antelope in Oregon]. Those who don’t draw a tag get a preference point for their effort and apply again next year. It can take 12 or more years of applying and accumulating preference points to draw an Oregon antelope tag. Realizing this, I began to look at other options. That’s when our friend Gary Lewis, asked us if we would be interested in joining a group on a “lope” hunt in Wyoming. The answer was a resounding YES.

I did some online research on our hunt and found lots of info on the web.

Did you know that the state of Wyoming has more pronghorn antelope than it does people? and that over 2/3 of the worlds antelope population lives within a 300 mile radius of Casper, Wyoming?

Here are some other things we did online:

1- Applied for antelope tags online with the Wyoming Dept. of Game and Fish in a hunt area just south of Casper, WY.
2- Printed electronic permission slips to access private ranch lands in the hunt area.
3- Ordered BLM (Bureau of Land Management) maps of the hunt area.
4- Looked at the hunt area with Google Map to see what the country looked like.
5- Used Google Map to plan our trip route to the hunting area.
6- Emailed WY Game and Fish biologists and wardens to ask for areas with significant antelope numbers.
7- Posted a question to a hunting news group for any info on the area we were about to hunt and got answers from several individuals.
8- Contacted and made reservations with a Casper Bed & Breakfast.
9- Bought a number of items online for the hunting trip.

Our trip was shaping up to be a good one. There was however, just one little detail,… I had to get the approval to pull Jacob out of school. Here’s a copy of my letter to the Administrator…

September 21, 2007

Mr. Doug Tharp
Administrator
Umpqua Valley Christian Schools
359 Roberts Creek Road
Roseburg, OR 97470

Dear Mr. Tharp:

I would like to take Jacob Lum out of school from Oct 10th to the 17th as we were blessed to have drawn tags for an antelope hunt in Wyoming. It is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us as drawing an Oregon antelope hunt is very difficult without first having at least 10-14 preference points (years) accumulated. I’ve always tried to provide him some great father & son activities while also making them educational experiences.

I would like to have Jacob obtain his class assignments ahead of time so he won’t be too far behind upon his return to school. Not only will he study his class assignments while on the road, he will also be learning some other things while on this trip.

Biology-
On this trip Jacob will learn to appreciate running water as there will be no plumbing in the desert. He will learn how animals in the desert have adapted to their environment and what they do to carve-out a life there. There will be no outdoor plumbing which means no showers or toilets. Jacob will be contributing to the nitrogen cycle with the use of a shovel. God willing, Jacob will get to do a field necropsy of an antelope and see first hand the specialized organs and tissues that make up these magnificent creatures.

Botany-
Jacob will get some up-close botany lessons as he crawls for hours over and through miles of spiny cactus plants as he attempts to close the distance on wary groups of antelope one inch at a time.

Math-
Jacob will be responsible for keeping track of our travel mileage and determining fuel economy, distance, average speed, and average fuel prices throughout our trip. He will also keep track of total expenditures while on the trip and calculate the cost per pound of antelope meat.

Physical Education-
Jacob will be hiking several miles each day while out in the field hoping to catch a glimpse of an antelope unaware of his presence. This would then enable him to begin his botany lesson (see above). After his PE period is over, there will be no shower. Thanks to UVC, he is already conditioned to this. He will learn the importance of conserving water while maintaining personal hygiene and being in close quarters with others for several days.

History-
We will be driving through portions of the Oregon Trail and historic points of interest such as trading posts that contributed to the settling of the west. We will be stopping by some modern day trading posts to stock up on our supplies, also known as sporting goods stores and grocery stores.

I hope you agree that Jacob stands to gain a lot from this trip and that the experience will be one that he and I will remember fondly for a lifetime.

Sincerely,
Tod Lum

Apparently, the school staff agreed and off we went to Wyoming with homework and gear piled into the truck.

We drove about 19 hours to reach our hunting area near Casper, Wyoming and were glad to see how abundant antelope were in and around our hunting area. Jacob had two antelope tags and I had one. We knew it would be a challenge getting close to wary animals with limited cover. The key was to see animals before they saw you. Any indication of humans and they were off and running for the next county. Once antelope were spotted, the next order of business was finding a way to close the distance on them using the wind, any available vegetation and/or terrain to your advantage. We employed the use of thick leather gloves along with knee and elbow pads to help crawl around in the sparse cover and it kept our profile down to a minimum.

Jacob discovered he really enjoyed the spotting and stalking method of hunting. Prior to this trip, his hunts mainly consisted of sit, wait and hope. In Wyoming, there were lots of antelope to be seen and if you blew it on one herd there would be another chance at a different bunch later. It was great practice for him as he got to hone his stalking skills and learned to approach the animals undetected.

Day 1. On our first afternoon out, we spotted a herd of “lopes” feeding into a large field. We made plans to drop down to the edge of the field and make use of a gully that ran alongside the field. We spent an hour creeping down that gully, crawling through very little cover with lots of small spiny cactus plants. There was still some distance to go and I didn’t want to jeopardize his stalk so, I opted to wait behind him and watch the show. Jacob hunkered behind some brush and watched the buck walk and browse along the edge of the field. Only when the buck buried his head behind bushes did Jacob advance his position. Although the buck was not spooked, it ate and walked faster than Jacob could keep up with it. Realizing this, Jacob got down and squared up with the buck at about 270 yards and connected! It was his first antelope and dad had yet to get one.

Day 3. We spotted a herd of does and fawns entering a large basin. We’d seen them in the area the day before and knew where they were headed. We spent almost 2 hours circling around the herd by walking up a creek bottom, belly crawling through a short sagebrush field, and finally approaching the herd from behind a hill. We ended up peering down over the herd at 40 yards. The swirling winds betrayed our presence and the herd took off just as we were settling in for a shot. The antelope ran around us, over the hill and down a draw. Jacob took off and ran to get a better look at their quick departure. As the herd crossed the bottom of the draw and climbed up the other side, they stopped to take a look at what had startled them. Jacob was on top of the hill already in the prone position, bi-pod extended and at 220 yards he held the crosshairs squarely on the last doe’s vitals. The rifle cracked and the herd resumed running except the last doe which lay at the bottom of the draw. He had just filled his second and last antelope tag. He was done hunting.

Day 4. Jacob stayed back in Casper to catch up on homework and sleep. It was a good day to stay in town as it was very cold with gusty northerly winds. I opted to bring a part of Jacob on my hunt, I chose to hunt with his rifle. My partner John Milton and I had found it tough getting out of the warm truck to glass the countryside looking for “lopes”. We went to several spots we’d seen animals on prior days and were not successful. We’d also seen a number of animals on the wrong side of fences so, we kept on looking. As it turns out, the animals were trying to stay out of the wind too. Finally towards the end of the day, we came across a small group of “lopes” bedded down on the leeward side of a small ridge. John led me through a draw and took me as far as it went until there was no cover left. He crawled up onto a small hump with some sagebrush on it and checked to see where the animals were. He crawled back and told me they were still bedded and that there was a buck in the group. He would let me take the first shot and then he would try and fill his last doe tag after I shot. I pulled up my knee pads and adjusted my leather glove and began to crawl the last few yards onto the hump. I peered through the vegetation and saw the unsuspecting “lopes” at 260 yards away. All I could see of the buck was his head and neck. I placed the crosshairs on the buck’s neck and whispered to John that I was ready to shoot. I took the slack out of the trigger and squeezed. The buck never got up and the rest of the group headed out quickly. John was so excited for me, he congratulated me and gave me a high five. I quickly reminded him that he had a doe tag to fill. He ran back and got his rifle and stopped a lope at close to 400 yards! Within seconds of each other, we were both done with our Wyoming antelope hunt.

The trip was well worth the time and money for all the experiences that Wyoming antelope hunt gave us. Besides thousands of antelope, we saw lots of other wildlife in rugged and breathtaking scenery. We stayed in Casper each night at the Ivy House Inn Bed & Breakfast (www.ivyhouseinn.com), a very nice inn offering wonderful breakfasts for their guests. Owners Tom & Kathy Johnson are very accommodating and have lots of aloha for their guests. Talk about a small world, while there, we met a Maui girl who was a resident doctor at the local Casper Hospital. She will be moving to the big island when she is done at Casper. Maybe you’ll see her at North Hawaii Hospital one day as Dr. Koko Haines. We shared some stories over coffee one morning about life on the mainland and things we missed in the islands….sighhhh. She was pretty excited about Casper having a new sushi place!

Our E-lope trip was definitely well worth it. There is a lot of info online and it helped us prepare for the trip and lessened the anxiety of going to a new place and not knowing what to expect.

Should we do another trip like this someday, we will definitely take advantage of all the internet has to offer us…e-moose, e-caribou, ….

scopelope.jpg

Here’s Jacob scoping a herd of “lopes”. He lays down to avoid “skylining” himself on the hill and giving away our presence to the wary critters on the flat below.

jakeproneshot1.jpg

As you can see, there isn’t much cover to sneak around undetected. That means using any topography to your advantage, get as close as you possibly can and be prepared to confidently take a long shot. It also means having the ability to focus on the shot and not the prickly cactus spines in parts of your body (public and private).
imgp2140.jpg

Here’s Jacob with his first pronghorn antelope. It’s his new favorite kind of hunting… spotting and stalking. Jacob shoots a Ruger M77 Mark II chambered in .260 Remington that shoots handloaded 130 grain Barnes X bullets.

imgp2194.jpg

Jacob and his pronghorn antelope doe. The hill on the far right is where he shot from.

imgp2201.jpg

Packing out to the truck about 2 miles away in some very big country. It gives you lots of time to reflect on what a privilege it is to be out here and enjoy these beautiful wild places. Saw lots of sage grouse and rabbits along the way.

Advertisements

Posted in 2007, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

2007 Youth Hunt Weekend

Posted by todblog on October 5, 2007

Each year Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife sets aside one weekend in September for kids 17 and under to hunt waterfowl. The Denman Wildlife Area in Central Point, also offers youth pheasant hunts over the same weekend. So, what’s a kid to do?

Well this year we had to stick around Roseburg on Saturday but, Sunday was free to go chase pheasants. Not being able to stand the fact we would have to stay home on Saturday and miss out on a great pheasant hunt, I got permission from a close-by landowner to hunt waterfowl on his place.

We woke up at 5am and set-up on a pond just before the sunlight peeked over the horizon. It was warm and felt strange to be duck hunting in September’s warm weather. It didn’t look promising as birds were flying around and had destinations in mind other than our decoy set. It turned out to be clear and sunny and that isn’t the best duck hunting weather so, I packed up our stuff and sent Jacob for a walk around the ponds before we headed for home.

As it turns out, he put the sneak on some mallards in a corner of a pond. As he emerged from the brush, I could hear ducks quacking as their wings grabbed the sky. One shot rang out at the rising flock and two hen mallards hit the water. When I caught up with him, I asked why he didn’t keep shooting at all those ducks rising in front of him. I expected to hear about a gun jamming or some malfunction. Instead, he said, “Cuz I already got the daily bag limit of 2 hen mallards and I didn’t want to take a chance of getting another so I stopped shooting.” Wow, that’s real control, for an excited 14 year old boy with a gun and a pocket full of shotgun shells. I was proud of his decision, it showed real maturity and responsibility that he kept the hunting regulations in the forefront of his mind in the midst of all that excitement. What a responsible kid. Sometimes he’s not such a goofball after-all!

imgp2047.JPG

The following day was an early one. We invited another youth hunter, Aaron Swanson, to come along and he was being accompanied by Jerry Mires, a retired BLM wildlife biologist. The four of us left Roseburg at 5am and headed down to Central Point in time to register for the youth pheasant hunt. Each year, all the pheasants, food, claybirds and ammo are donated for the annual youth pheasant hunt weekend. It’s an amazing effort that many sports clubs pitch-in and pull off for Oregon’s youth. This year was no different. We gobbled up some hotcakes, sausage, and eggs in the chilly Denman Wildlife Area Baseyard. There were about 70 some kids lined up and anxiously awaiting to hear the safety speech given by the local ODFW wildlife biologist. By 8am adults and kids were entering the 1,780 acre wildlife area looking for pheasants. You could hear cackling roosters followed by several shots followed by continued cackling. We gave Mele a good work out and she did a great job finding birds for us. The limit was two rooster pheasants and they were all around us. Some flushed wildly while Mele found and pointed others. After several missed shots followed by dirty looks from Mele, Jacob was able to connect with one nice rooster over a solid point. By 1pm, we flushed 17 roosters (16 with nine lives). Everyone was tired (especially Mele) and we called it a day. We returned to the baseyard and downed some cold drinks, hotdogs and shot some claybirds. It was a lot of fun to watch the kids and Mele work the fields and get onto birds. We all had a great time.

Although I wish I had these opportunities when I was a kid, I still feel like one when I see the excitement, disappointment, and triumph on Jacob’s face when we’re in the field hunting together. It’s neat seeing him figure things out and seeing the light bulb go on. I may not be the one pulling the trigger but, I’m definitely feeling the adrenaline coursing through my veins as I observe a young boy develop into a responsible young man.

imgp2060.JPG

Posted in 2007, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »