Tod's Blog

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

Archive for October, 2009

Cascade Pizza

Posted by todblog on October 26, 2009

October 18, 2009

This weekend was the opener for the Cascade Bull Elk Season and our district wildlife crew and some volunteers scattered to cover the Cascade Wildlife Management Units within Douglas County to check hunters. We put in some long full days logging in lots of miles on backroads visiting camps to see how hunters were doing. With all the country to cover, there is not much time to stop for lunch and there’s no stores or drive-inn’s found in the woods either. So, I usually settle on a bag with a cold sandwich and some snacks to hold me over until dinner. However, something caught my eye in the refrigerator on Sunday morning- leftover pizza. It was a huge slice of stuffed crust pizza with a good covering of cheese, pepperoni and tomato chunks. I wrapped it in heavy foil and took it with me to work. The pizza would be a treat but, I knew it would be way better if I could just heat it up before eating it.

Well, before leaving the office, I opened up the hood of my truck and tucked my pizza slices in the engine compartment where it wouldn’t budge or work loose. After several hours of driving gravel and dirt roads checking hunters I pulled up to a nice overlook and decided it was lunch time. I popped open the hood and gently grabbed the foil treasure. To my delight, the pizza was a perfect temperature and ready to gobble down with no concern over melting your mouth.

Like most cheese and pepperoni pizzas, they get a little greasy when heated up. This was no different on the engine block. Thanks to the heavy duty foil, at least I knew it wasn’t 30 weight engine oil dripping off my fingers!

DSCN2247

Cool crisp fall mornings are part of the elk hunting heritage.

DSCN2258Nice view of the Indigo Wildlife Management Unit in the upper Willamette drainage

DSCN2266Found a good place to take a late lunch break with a view of the Cascades

DSCN2263Lunch is served!

truckrackLucky hunter heading home with a nice bull elk

Posted in 2009, Recipes and Stuff, Stories, Stuff I Get To Do | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Bear With A Bad Attitude

Posted by todblog on October 4, 2009

September 10, 2009

Labor Day weekend is a time I look forward to each year. We load the truck and make the long 11 hour drive to Bitsy Kelley’s Diamond Head Ranch in Northeast Oregon. Others converge on the remote ranch for a fun and relaxing weekend with lots of good food. One of the main activities is bear hunting. There are several creek drainages to choose from and hunt for bears. Some years there is so much fruit and berries available to the bears, they can be most any place. They can be found gorging themselves on apples, plums, rose hips, elder berries or hawthorn berries to name a few. So, during those abundant years, it’s not like the bears are concentrated in one spot. They can be almost anywhere. There have been a number of bear tags left unfilled over the years due to choosing the wrong draw to hunt. But, that’s why it’s called hunting… something Jacob is all too familiar with.

It seems that each year Jacob has hunted an area for bears and came up empty. He claims he has no luck, bad luck, or both.

I had hopes that the end result of this Labor Day weekend hunting trip would be different for Jacob. When we got to the Diamond Head Ranch, other hunters were determined to change Jacob’s outcome as well. Jacob got to hunt a creek bottom that had some pretty high success in years past. The creek was loaded with small sweet yellow plums and apple trees full of fruit. Surely the bears must be frequenting this area again.

Friday morning came and our plans were to situate ourselves up that creek waiting for bears to move up past our position as the sunlight slowly painted the valley walls around us. Getting a teenage boy up at o’dark thirty is always a challenge but, I was pleasantly surprised when Jacob awoke rather easily and got dressed. With a quick gulp of some food and a drink we were out the door and headed down the road to the creek. As we drove up the road paralleling the creek, I wondered how many bears were in the creek bottom and if they were quickly heading up past our destination. Only time would tell. Suddenly I caught movement ahead in the road, it was a bunch of yellow blobs bouncing up and down away from us. It was the south end of some northbound elk. They heard me driving up the road and they were crashing through the brush and moving out of the creek bottom. As I got further up the draw, I could see it was a larger herd of about 30 elk. They were on both sides of the creek, climbing the steep sides and crashing through thick brush effortlessly.

We got to our destination and quickly setup on a hillside with a view of the creek bottom and opposite hillside. The elk were still snapping branches, moving out of the brushy hillside in search of a quiet shady north slope further up the draw and away from the dusty red Toyota truck. We settled in and focused our attention back to the creek bottom. Now came the difficult part, waiting and having faith that a bear would show up.

The warm sun rays began to peek over the ridge and slowly gave chase to the lingering morning chill, it was a welcome feeling. It was however, an indication that we’d been posted in our spot a long time and that perhaps we weren’t going to see a bear this morning. Then the familiar sound came, “I’m never in the right place”, said Jacob.

I took that to mean, it was time to pack up and head back to the cabin. I told him to slowly work his way back down the dirt road and see if he couldn’t cross paths with a bruin that way. It would at least keep him occupied and it would be warmer than sitting still. I sat and gave him some time before heading down the road with the truck to pick him up. Jacob reported flushing several ruffed grouse in the hawthorne trees and said he saw some fresh bear scat along the creek. At least we knew the area was being used by a bear. Maybe we got there too late in the morning or could it have been the chaotic noise generated by 30+ elk leaving the county at once?

Back at the ranch we all reported in and shared stories about our morning hunts. Nobody had any success with bears but, some reported seeing bears traveling along ridges in different parts of the ranch. That afternoon, Jacob and I headed up a different creek and did some calling hoping to lure a bear in with a rabbit distress call. No luck there and we did not see any fresh sign either. Still it was good quality quiet time with junior boy in the woods. No cell phone or iPod to interrupt us. These are some of my best times with Jacob. Perhaps someday he will come to appreciate those times as I will surely be longing for them.

Friday night everyone talked about their plans for the next morning and we were encouraged to try the same morning hunt again. Would it be any different? I went to bed wondering if that were the right thing to do and Jacob just went to bed tired. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and hoped I would have an easy time waking up Jacob.

The buzz of the alarm came way too soon and I reached over to turn it off for just a wee bit longer snooze. I normally place the alarm clock across the room to prevent excessive snoozing from happening. As it turns out this was a 30 minute violation and I was getting us off to a late start. I nudged Jacob to wake up and he told me he was having second thoughts. “If I stay behind, you’ll surely get a bear Dad”. More woe is me garbage talk.

“Nope, you’re getting out of bed and we’re hunting together. C’mon let’s go, get up.”

A handful of fruit and granola bars chased down with a slug of java and we were out the door. The daylight was coming quick as we pulled out of the ranch driveway and headed for the creek. My partner was awake now and almost fully alert. We drove up the creek bottom and were making our way to the hillside waiting spot when I got jolted out of my seat.

“There’s a BEAR!” was loudly whispered by Jacob the Unlucky Boy.

Unlucky Boy was looking out his window at the creek bottom when he saw the head of a dark chocolate bear looking back at him from across the creek. It took me a while to register what was happening and I finally came to a stop and killed the engine. Jacob grabbed his rifle and ran down to find an opening in the brushy draw. Apparently, the bear was climbing out of the creek bottom and stopped momentarily to lighten his load before heading for higher country and that’s when we came along. Unlucky Boy scrambled to settle the Browning .30-06 in his shooting sticks. The bear had finally seen enough and started to move out of the area. It turned broadside as it continued up the trail out of the creek bottom. The bear stopped briefly on the trail to take one more look at the kneeling Unlucky Boy who was steady as a rock. It must have heard Unlucky Boy’s heart racing and hard breathing from 59 yards away on the opposite side of the creek. After several years of bear hunting, it appeared that the stars were finally aligned just right and it was time.

The Browning rifle spoke with authority as its echo rolled through the canyon. In that split second, the 150 grain Nosler AccuBond changed everything. Suddenly, before me was a Lucky Boy who realized that he had taken his first bear. It could have been a totally different outcome if he had chosen to stay in bed that morning and given up.

We waited for several minutes to be certain there was no movement in the brush and took the time to mark the bear’s approximate location. We crossed the creek and discovered a heavily used bear trail along the bottom and a network of trails heading up the hillside. In a few minutes we found the chocolate bear not far from the trail. Jacob and I were so happy and we celebrated by sharing a great big bear hug!

Hopefully Jacob learned the value of being persistent as he finally was able to cross paths with a nice bruin that he could take home.

Unlucky Boy with his first chocolate bear

Jacob with his first bear. Persistence pays off!

Unlucky Boy with his bear back at the ranch

Jacob with his bear skin back at the ranch

Getting ready for kalua bear!
Getting ready for kalua bear!

Posted in 2009, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , | 22 Comments »