Sunday, July 1, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
The Adventure Journal...desk jockeys guide to aimless wandering
The Beacon Rock Challenge
Distance has never been a factor for us as runners because distance has never factored into the equation. Maintaining a high standard of healthiness has always offered Scotty and I the ability to hunt in far-off places with relative ease, even as Scotty nursed a long-lasting achilles tendon issue. The prospect of pushing our physical abilities finally presented itself in the Beacon Rock race and, because we aren't too bright, the training mileage ramped-up immediately to near-dangerous levels.
Friday, January 6, 2012
The Archery Letdown
By Pete Joers
Being a self-proclaimed and very dedicated archery bum, I feel I must share a very peculiar chain over events that happened recently, which may help other archers:
The 2010 target season had just ended and what a blast! I never had so much fun flinging arrows with my family and friends, traveling around shooting many of the big tournaments, all topped off with my home club hosting a state championship. It was very busy, but what a blast!
Several times during that busy spring I had received phone calls from other archery bums inviting me turkey hunting. “Nope I’ve got plans…” I’d say, “Tournament here, tournament there, the archery club needs this done,” and so on and so forth.
Tournament season began winding down and it was time to get ready for August bear hunting as well as deer and elk hunting in September plus, as a bonus, I had drawn a quality deer tag for the Quilomene unit in eastern Washington. Time to switch gears!
My preparation ramped up, hiking, biking, shooting, lifting, culminating with chasing big mulies and two weeks in the alpine after the elusive elk. Now this is why I LOVE archery!
November rolled around and I was skunked so far, of course that just meant more opportunity for deer and elk hunting! Thanksgiving arrived and I was out the door headed for new hunting grounds with a bonus tag in one hand and my bow in the other.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I’ve been training and practicing all year, shooting thousands of arrows and I am now in a new area way up in the mountains, with great friends, hunting very hard, and I manage to harvest a great buck; the highlight of my hunting career…a genuine adventure. Once home, I took the buck to the taxidermist, cleaned the blood off of everything, put gear away, and made a movie (we got the whole hunt on video). The fun never stopped, that is, until indoor Multicolor started.
My target bow, which felt so good in my hands a few months ago, suddenly feels foreign, and after shooting it I can’t stand to look at it! I felt like I was just going through the motions: come home from work, go to the club, shoot a round of multicolor, get angry at myself and the bow.
One night when I got home after one of these self-inflicted indoor torture sessions and I see a big set of very familiar antlers sitting on the kitchen counter. “Taxidermist called and said to come pick up your horns, so I did it for you, thought you might like to see them again,” my wife Elizabeth said. With tears in my eyes I pick up the “horns” and instruct my wonderful wife that, “you can not play these, thus they are not horns, they are antlers!” Hugging them to my chest, and not waiting for my wife’s retort, I run off to my man cave. Sitting, thoughtfully looking at this mass of bone, studying every beam and point, I look up and there, hanging in its rightful place at the top of the bow rack, is my hunting bow.
Remembering back to the times I was too busy with “archery” to go archery hunting, things suddenly became clearer. Maybe this is where I lost my passion for archery, and maybe where I will find it again. I started thinking back to ten years ago when I was happy just to hit a paper plate at 40 yards and then discovering 3D and a whole new group of friends. Now we shoot “dots” at 80, 90, and 100 yards. Had I let my passion for tournament archery consume me to the point where I hated it, or had I just let my priorities get mixed up? I had forgotten that the reason I shoot a dime sized dot at 20 yards over and over, and travel the state listening for that beautiful sound of arrow hitting foam, is for that one chance, if it may happen, that the lord graces me with an encounter with one of his beautiful creations; for that one chance to see the wonderful flight of the arrow in the most chaotic of situations.
Setting the antlers next to my hunting bow, I gathered up my target stuff. Turning back for one last look I think to myself, “This is just the beginning of another hunting season. What a fantastic sport we have!”
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Watching as my good friend and hunting partner Jim Berry sauntered from the trailhead, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “what am I getting into?” Fully loaded with 80-plus pounds of bear meat and gear, he resembled the walking dead. I was surprised when the first thing he asked was, “have you been glassing the hillside?” I hadn’t of course; because the mosquitoes were so thick I had to seek refuge in my truck. Grabbing my Leopold spotting scope, I quickly glassed up five bear in the fading August evening before heading into my camping destination.
Our chosen area was rugged, seemingly untouched by humans because of the difficulty to reach the remote ridgeline in the distance. Having been one of many alpine areas we had scouted throughout the summer, I knew we made the right choice; tomorrow was going to be a good day.
Fueling up on oatmeal and folgers singles, I rolled out of my tent. The hike in to our hillside was a nasty one, despite being only 2.5 miles as the crow flies, it seems like a walk in the park on a topographical map, until you took into account the 2,100 feet of elevation gain. Side-hilling through avalanche shoots and alpine blueberry fields and, of course, the all too present alder thicket so thick you fear you’ll never get free are the norm. Needless to say, one wrong step anywhere up there and you are in for a long roll down.
Bushbeating my way up the ridge to the peak, I was making good time, arriving to the alpine blueberry fields, at around 10:30 a.m., I worked my way toward the summit. Having glassed up two bear on my way through an avalanche shoot, I had high hopes, despite the fact that Jim had tagged not one but two bears in consecutive days with his rifle.
Once on top of the ridge I failed to glass up the bear I had seen on the approach. The west facing edge of the ridge allowed for a chance to glass berry fields for a quarter mile in either direction. The backside of the hill was another story; it was a sheer drop, where the only trails were made by the local mountain goats, and despite being August, the alpine bowls still held plenty of snow.
Being midday I figure the bear were holed up for a quick nap, so I decided to take lunch on a rock outcropping that stuck out from the hillside like a diving board. Halfway through an outstanding alpine lunch of tuna and crackers, my attention was quickly grabbed by a beautiful cinnamon color bear as it emerged 120 yards downhill from my position.
Quickly rolling off the backside of my perch, I put my pack on, preparing for the stalk. The stalk would not be a long one, but with little cover in the shin-high blueberry field and the insane angle of the hill, it promised to prove interesting.
Using the few bushes I had for cover, I slowly began a butt-sliding maneuver downhill toward the bear. At 40 yards, I nocked an arrow, while the bear gorged itself on the prevalent berries, oblivious to my approach from above. As I eased in closer, bringing the bear level with me on the hillside, I prepared for the shot opportunity to come.
Stalking a predator like a bear is an amazing experience; whether it’s your first hunt of the season or in my case the ninth opportunity, your heart races to its maximum. The first thing you realize about a predator is their general lack of worry, as they know that they are biggest, meanest animal in the land.
As the bear entered a car-sized patch of brush, I moved ever closer, and as it emerged I was presented with a quartering away, 22-yard shot.
Coming to draw, I anchored in, relying on the hours and hours of practice to take over. On the release I knew something was horribly wrong, as I watched through my sight housing as the arrow cartwheeled, sailing harmlessly over the bears back by an inch! Startled, it ran downhill, pausing to look back at what had made the strange noise. Nocking another arrow, I determined the bear to be at 30 yards and, as if on autopilot I drew back, releasing a perfect shot.
My PSE X-force propelled the arrow at 302 feet per second, covering the distance in a heartbeat and connecting with the bear, as it let out a deep roar. The bear wheeled around, traveling only 20 yards before expiring, but unfortunately gravity kicked in and sent it rolling downhill another 200 yards, where it came to rest on a small rock bench on the cliff face.
The feeling of approaching an animal you have worked so hard for, in my eyes, has no equal. Sitting on the rock bench, the cinnamon colored bear next to me, I looked out over the crystal clear lake a mile below, and was hit with a feeling of pride that only comes with the realization of a true self-accomplishment.
The pack out was everything I thought I would be, as Jim had warned me to watch for approaching bear as I cleaned my harvest. This rang true as I put the final game bag of meat into my internal frame pack and was surprised by rocks falling from the cliff face above me, signaling me to the approach of another bear to the kill site. Quickly assessing my situation, I shouldered my pack, diving straight down the treacherous shale slope for the “safety” of the alders below, as more rocks rained down on the kill site from above.
The descent was the equivalent of walking down a ladder facing forward, heels digging in every step. Despite adding some distance to the trek, and the 75-plus pounds of bear meat, the descent went off without a hitch and several hours later I was jamming down the miles of dirt road leading from the trailhead, my first high alpine bear safely on its way to the freeze and with a memory that will last a lifetime!
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Full moon nights meant the sweet September sound of rut-crazed elk echoed through the meadows and timber. Love struck bulls divided cows, fought one another and dug wallows, all within several hundred yards of our drop camp. This was elk hunting heaven.
Opening day of Washington’s archery elk season found a member of our camp, Rick Owen, knee-deep in elk, as he loosed a perfect shot at 36 yards on his first archery harvest. The shot sealed both the fate of the 6x6 bull and the memory for Rick, as he watched the 300-class bull collapse after only 40 yards. High-fiving, heavy packs and burning legs marked the occasion, as load-after-sweet-load of venison found its way to hang on the meat pole in camp.
Thirteen days of hunting the high country had produced a lifetime of adventure and close calls. Bulls continued their nighttime activity, screaming bugles with one another, but turning off the instant the sun hit the horizon. Seventy-five miles and more than half a dozen bulls worked within range, had tailored a foolproof technique of cow calling into dark, north-facing slopes used for bedding.
One great aspect to spending the entirety of elk season in the field is the chance to pattern particular bulls and two in the area had my full attention.
One bull dubbed “Glunk,” due to his inability to fire off a true bugle, worked his small harem of cows across a familiar drainage like clockwork. His 7x7, 350” frame, made him unmistakable, with 10-inch tines sticking strait out off each of his sword points; he truly was the master of the high country.
He exuded dominance as he stood in the meadow a mere 37 yards from my position, having just demolished several small trees and creating a new hot tub sized wallow, his actions rang louder than his bugle: he was the boss. With no shot opportunity, I was forced to watch as his head, adorned with massive, chocolate colored antlers, looked back and forth for the “cow” that had lured him into the open. Unable to find his female friend, Glunk turned back, walking slowly into the timber, destroying one more sapling as if to prove a point and becoming a campfire legend for the remainder of the trip.
Glunk was not the only object of my affection, as he shared what quickly became known as “the Valley of the Gods,” with another impressive 6x6 bull.
The bull had a system: spend the majority of the day high in the timber, wallowing and shadowing Glunk’s harem for cows coming into cycle, then dropping down to feed in the moon-drenched basins. Formulating a plan to intercept the bull, I found myself directly in his path on the evening of the thirteenth day.
My long, estrus cow calls echoed deep into the timber, quickly being returned by a crisp bugle from several hundred yards distant. The next set of calls were once again interrupted, as the unseen bull closed the distance on a run, crashing through the downed timber and blueberry bushes.
Adjusting my position, I carefully ranged objects along his expected route, making mental notes and visualizing his approach in an attempt to stay calm. No sooner had I finished ranging did he appear a mere 65 yards ahead, closing the distance to the basin opening and my ambush.
Sixty-five, 51, 41, 35 yards; the bull kept coming, entering the opening with reckless abandon not typical of a mature bull. Advancing head-on toward where I knelt motionless, I watched his legs, afraid to look him in the eye or to see the massive rack as he turned broadside at 10 yards.
Quartering slightly, the bull glanced side-to-side in search of the cow that lured in into the opening, turning his head to the right for a moment I took the opportunity to slowly reach full-draw. Anchoring in, my top pin glowing bright behind his shoulder, the bull turned and looked at me, his posture immediately showing a moment of realization, as my arrow released.
Crossing the opening on a full-run, the bull ran headlong into a small tree and expired within sight, having only traveled 90 yards in about 15 seconds.
I lay down in the grass, looking upward. My breath filling the crystal clear September sky as the last of shooting light faded away, I was filled with an appreciation for the time spent with friends, miles of hiking, hours of calling and days of dreaming for this exact moment.