Tod's Blog

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

Gerber Grows Healthy Kids

Posted by todblog on August 29, 2010

August 23, 2010

Many years ago, I remember feeding Jacob spoonfuls of pureed sweet potato and carrots from the small Gerber baby food jars. He would coo, make happy noises and wave his arms in the air and slam them down on the high chair tray. Sometimes the food would even get in his mouth. It was common to see orange goo in his fine baby hair. That’s what comes to mind when I think of Gerber foods- it’s what a lot of kids grow up on. That was a long time ago. Since then, his hair has gotten darker and mine whiter.

At the age of 17, Jacob is on his last year to apply for controlled youth hunts. Last spring I applied for various controlled hunts which included one for Jacob, an antelope hunt in south central Oregon. It was the Gerber Antelope Youth Hunt. This hunt is likely named after the large Gerber Reservoir found east of Klamath Falls. The reservoir is named after Henry C. Gerber, a prominent local figure in south central Oregon’s cattle grazing history.  The youth hunt only had 30 tags available and we weren’t going to get our hopes up as there are lots of kids applying for this hunt.

For that very reason, we went to Wyoming to hunt antelope in 2007, because there are more antelope than people which makes drawing a tag there a lot easier than in Oregon. It was also an eye-opener for Jacob as he thoroughly enjoyed the spotting and stalking method of hunting. That was a great experience and it was by far Jacob’s favorite hunt of all time.

In mid-June, I checked the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s online controlled hunt status webpage and found out that Jacob was one of the successful 30 youth hunters who drew an antelope tag for the Gerber youth hunt. He would be going on his first Oregon antelope hunt! Somehow, he wasn’t that thrilled. Apparently, he still held memories of his last trip to the desert with me on my southeast Oregon antelope hunt a few years ago. That trip found him battling major stomach issues after eating or drinking something bad which resulted in fetal positioning in the sleeping bag or frequent trips to the sagebrush. It was still a mystery to me how all that happened. However, this time I would have to promise things would be different and more enjoyable. I figured on doing all the planning for this hunt and just have him show up.

By late July I had purchased maps and spoke with several folks who had hunted the area before and also chatted with Tom Collom, the ODFW Klamath Falls District Wildlife Biologist. Everyone was extremely helpful as they knew it was a neat once-in-a-lifetime youth hunt opportunity. I managed to escape from work for 1-1/2 days to jet over and actually look at some of the circles on the map. It’s a huge area with a lot of country to explore. Some of the landscape just isn’t what you would expect to find an antelope in, timber.  I found pockets of antelope with the limited time spent looking at the hunt area. One area held a small group of 17 antelope, one of them was a large buck. They were in a large scab rock flat fully encircled by timber. I hoped that they would still be there after the archery hunt one week before Jacob’s youth hunt in late August. I returned home feeling a little better about what I had found and I was especially pleased to see abundant cover. It would come in handy should the need arise to relieve oneself in a hurry.

All the youth hunters who drew tags for this hunt also received invitations for a barbecue dinner at Gerber Reservoir the evening before opening day. The dinner was hosted by the Oregon Hunters Association- Klamath Falls Chapter. It was their way of kicking things off for the kids, giving last-minute tips and advice and wishing them well. We opted to decline the invitation as we would be in Roseburg on the opening weekend attending the 1st annual Umpqua Hula and the Arts Cultural Festival. We would be listening to several different Hawaiian musicians from the islands and watching Jessica dance with her hula halau.

On the evening of the hula festival, it was an emotional roller coaster for me. On the one hand I was homesick and sad listening to the Hawaiian music and watching Jessica dance with her hula halau. On the other hand I was worried sick that we were missing the opener of the Gerber youth antelope hunt and things would be different from what I had found a few weeks ago on my scouting trip. Would the antelope still be there?

Sunday afternoon found us feverishly packing things into the truck and going over the ever-evolving hunting/camping checklist that I keep in my computer. Finally, at 4pm we headed out for our date with a Gerber antelope. We pulled into camp under a clear moonlit sky that cast shadows from the ponderosa pines we parked under. We jumped into our sleeping bags in the bed of the truck and got settled in for the night as I closed the canopy door. Within an hour we were officially greeted by the local pack of coyotes that sang and howled to the full moon only a stones throw from the truck. It was way cool and reminded me that I was once again a long ways from the office, computers, and people. I was in God’s Country with my favorite son and loving every minute of it.

Waking up to a chilly morning on the first day of the hunt. Get the water boiling!

The morning came early and there was icy condensation on the inside windows of the truck bed canopy. It was a cold and clear night and neither of us slept very well. First order of business was to get the water boiling for cappuccinos and instant oatmeal. We also had some muffins and fruit to eat before heading out on our hunt. It was 6:40am when we finally got squared away and started walking out of camp. The woods were quiet and the morning air was still. We headed toward the rocky flat and all the while I kept hoping that the antelope would still be there since my last scouting trip.

We peered into the flat and scanned in all directions and didn’t see a thing. We slowly walked into the flat and glassed a bit more- nothing still. Now we had to ease further into the flat away from the security of the timbered edge in order to see over a slight crest- still nothing. I began to wonder if we were just too late and the antelope had been spooked off by earlier hunters. We kept creeping along further away from the timber and deeper into the rocky flat when I caught a glimpse of something in the distance. It was about 700 yards away in the tall grass and brush. It was antelope feeding on the opposite side of the flat! It was good to see them still here but they were on to us as a couple of does stared at us. We dropped to our knees and opted to back out and go around keeping out-of-sight.

The pockets of timber in and along the edge of the rocky flat made for good cover to slip along undetected. Somehow the antelope were very spooky and opted to leave the corner of the rock flat to head for more open ground. All we could do was watch them leave the area single file. We counted 23 antelope which was more than I had seen a few weeks prior and the last one in line was the big buck I had hoped to find still here! I whispered loud as softly as I could to Jacob, “the big buck is the last one..” He saw it and dropped to the ground with the bipod on his rifle extended. The buck stopped momentarily and showed only his head and neck from over 300 yards. It wasn’t much of a shot and we watched the buck regroup with the herd and they all left the area in a steady trot.

I told Jacob not to worry as they weren’t totally spooked, just a little nervous. We could let them settle down and attempt another stalk later. The antelope disappeared over the hill and out of sight. Jacob crawled to the top of the hill to get a peek at the antelope and possibly get a shot if they were just over the edge. As it turns out, the herd had moved off quite some distance away from the hill and were no longer in range. They were however, closer to a patch of timber on the opposite side.

Jacob crawled back to report what he had observed. Something else caught his eye while crawling on the ground, it was shiny black, glass-like pieces of obsidian. He picked some of it up and could instantly tell it had been previously worked by someone else many years ago. What we held in our hands was the remnants and waste pieces leftover from shaping obsidian arrowheads and knives. Only then did we realize we were hunting on the same grounds that native American Indians did long ago.  That was a pretty cool connection to make.

We took a low crouch and circled wide of the hill and headed into the ponderosa pines. From there we could take our time and work slowly and quietly toward the antelope. Jacob was in charge now. It was his call as to how he wanted to close the distance on the antelope. He was mindful of the wind direction and lanes of travel that would minimize noise. There was no shortage of crunchy twigs, branches and pine cones. He was very stealthy in his movements and I was impressed with how much he had improved his stalking skills. It was not that long ago when I would take him on hunting trips and constantly remind him to walk quietly as we snuck around in the woods. I think those discussions went something like,”Why would we spend hours preparing for a hunt, wake up at O’Dark thirty, come all the way out to the woods, just to make lots of noise and scare animals away?”

It occurred to me that the roles were now reversed as Jacob would glance back at me and give me “the look” whenever I kicked a dead branch or stepped on a crunchy pine cone for all the world to hear. How did I not see that branch/cone? It happened more than once on our way to the antelope. Wow, my stalking skills stunk.

We finally got a glimpse of the antelope through the trees and saw that they were bedded down looking in the direction that they had last seen us on the hill. Despite my noisy walk in the woods, they were clueless but, we still had to inch our way to the forest edge for a chance at a shot. We belly crawled for a few yards to get to another group of trees and more shade. There was only about 25 yards left before we ran out of cover and would be in position for a shot. I told Jacob not to rush as we had lots of time to get into position and wait them out. I told him it would be like those sniper shows on the Military Channel- go slow and undetected. The antelope would eventually stand up and continue to feed and that would be your opportunity. About that time, a few antelope got up and stretched. Some started to feed while others lay back down. Still, all was good and they continued to look toward the hill where we were last seen by them.

I’ve read somewhere that antelope have eyesight equivalent to 8x binoculars. I know they spotted us earlier from over 700 yards away. However, this time I was quite sure we were well concealed approaching the edge of the timber. Much to my surprise it appeared that half of the herd was now standing and looking our way. Did the fickle wind swirl our scent to them, was it the squirrel in the pine trees constantly chattering and scolding us, or did I step on another dead branch? Now most of them were standing looking our way. Some of them started to run to the right while others stood around. Where was the buck and what was he doing? I glassed the area and found him still bedded. I knew it wouldn’t be for long with all this nervousness going on. Sure enough, he stood up and walked over to the others and assumed their nervous fidgety behavior too.

I looked over to see Jacob moving quickly to the edge of the timber. He extended his bi-pod and tried to find a spot that was open enough to shoot in the prone position. No luck- too much sagebrush. I thought, if he had an upset stomach, this would be a great place for some privacy but, not to shoot from. The antelope started running again. Jacob whipped out his folding shooting sticks and dropped to his knees to get steady. A short distance later, the antelope stopped to see what it was they were running from. They were all broadside and looking in our direction. It was the shot that Jacob was waiting for and he took it…. CRACK! The Ruger .260 Remington barked and sent a 130 grain Barnes bullet 234 yards to drop the buck in his tracks. The rest of the herd took off leaving a trail of dust. It was 10 am and Jacob’s first Oregon antelope hunt was over.

I congratulated him and took some pictures.  We talked about the stalking and how exciting all the different parts of the hunt were and how it all came together. He told me it was his best hunt ever and how glad he was that we came out for it. We cleaned the buck and put him on a pack frame. I thought this would be too much weight for my “little boy” to carry. He threw it on his back, adjusted the straps, and started to walk the rocky half mile back to camp. I grabbed the rifle and fanny packs and followed after him but, never caught up with him. He walked the whole way without a break, nonstop. Whoa, who is this kid? I guess I better think twice before spanking him again.

On the way home I asked Jacob to take all of the sights and sounds in as he will one day come to appreciate having had this experience. Today it’s no big deal. Perhaps it will be when he has to pay for parking, clean water and air, or dealing with the daily grind of living in a big city, working and getting time off, etc. One thing for sure is he has gotten lots of great opportunities and experiences as a kid growing up with exposure to some great outdoor adventures. One of them being the Gerber antelope youth hunt, to date, his best hunting trip ever.

Jacob with his 14-1/4″ antelope buck

This is what could happen when you feed your kid Gerber baby food

Packing the buck back to camp- working out at Roseburg Fitness First pays off!


17 Responses to “Gerber Grows Healthy Kids”

  1. Rick Habein said

    nice Job. Thanks for the story.


  2. Tamara said

    Great story, I was chilled reading about the cold morning. Great Job. Way to go Jacob. That is so awesome. Enjoy that goat meat.;)


  3. Mark Adkins said

    Thank you for sharing…next story will be about the non-youth hunts you all get drawn for in OR


  4. Chris said

    Great story! The part that got me was the reference to hunting on the same grounds that the native American Indians once did. I would have been freaked out all night, not just from the coyotes and what not out there, but also the Indian ghosts running around, just like up in Nuuanu valley and all over Hawaii!


  5. Bea Kikawa said

    Enjoyed the story so much. Congratulations to Jacob!



  6. Johnny Boy said

    Great story and pics. as usual Tod!


  7. Ox said

    Aloha Tod & Jacob,
    Your narratives are so superior that I was there! As a father, son and hunter, we can all identify with the experience, expectations, successes and even the disappointments but no true hunter can regret in the hunting experience anywhere or anytime especially with family. Those hunts will follow you all the days of your life. Mahalo for somehow blessing us in deep and meaningful ways.
    Congratulations and well done!!!!
    Know that we love you – Ox


  8. Sandy DeMaris said

    Good job you two. You are creating many memories and this is so good….Sandy


  9. Linda Muir said

    Does “The Look” imitate Dad too. Did you have any trouble recognizing it? What a good story Tod, it will be a great memory for both of you.


  10. Bob said

    Awesome Again! Your leading Man in Your adventures sure does the job. It seems to be fiction, but we all know that those are the great true adventures that a loving Father creates for his children. We just love it!
    Nice shooting Jacob!


  11. John Peyton said

    Way to go Jacob! Congratulations on a very nice antelope.

    Now…..lets go find you a bear and elk!


  12. What a lovely adventure and beautiful narrative…….something to pass on to the grand kids.

    Aunty florence


  13. Michele (Higgins) Busboom said

    Refreshing and meaningful…you both truly bring the experience close to home! Congratulations, Jacob & proud Papa!


  14. Bob Hera said

    Again a great story, congrats to the father and son team, especially the shooter Jacob!! I can relate to that.
    Keep it coming. Bob H..


  15. Cassie said

    Wow thats a cool story. good shooting jacob! and watch where you are stepping uncle tod! 😉

    lots of love, cassie w.


  16. tutu said

    hi, jacob. so-o-o proud of you. big congratulations!
    to your daddy-o too!! was that antelope meat i was eating in those tacos?? love & Blessings. xoxo, tutu


  17. KARENLUMLEE said



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