Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Fishing Today!!!

I still have more Colorado trout fishing pics and recent deer hunting stories to post, just been busy finishing up some projects for the year and helping my brother build his house every spare moment, plus getting ready to dig the basement to my own house to build in about a week, lets hope for some good weather eh? I pretty much have a million things happening at all times, this winter definitely is going to stretch me a bit further than usual.....the last house I built took me 8 months of nights and weekends, but it sure wasnt during the dead of winter..... but anyhow here is a fish story from today.....First a quick pic of a cool Colorado trout:

I was standing 8 feet in the air on a ladder this morning nailing concrete siding onto my brother Chad's house when my mom and dad pull up to check on progress and drop off some supplies. They were headed out to the lake to finish winterizing a few things...We got to talking and dad said he sure would like to sneak out on the water this afternoon and try to catch a few fish before she freezes up solid.

Well it took him alot of persuading, begging, pleading, and convincing but finally after he literally dragged me down the ladder by my ear and carried me into the truck I decided to head out for one last fishing hurrah. Honest Chad, he really needed me today and forced me to go.

Anyhow we grabbed some minnows at Kersch in Farmington and were on the water in no time. It was windy, but warm enough to endure the stiff breeze. We found some crappie and bass hanging in the tree tops in about 14 feet of water. We had to anchor to fish them effectively. Just dropping jigs and minnows down onto them.

Then we went to the striper hole and sure enough they were still there, only hanging a bit deeper than where they hang in the summer. About 20 feet down and we hooked up with 7 stripers using half nightcrawlers slow bounced on the bottom. Man are they fun to catch!!!

We ran out of trolling motor battery about 50 yards from shore and ended blowing down a few hundred yards farther than the boat dock....

To be honest I really dont fish too much in November, but I always know I am missing out on some incredible fishing. I missed a couple very large fish today trolling out to my fishing spot today and last November I only fished like twice and caught these following BIG fish:

I might just have to start fishing more late fall, it just seems the changing of the seasons and cold weather turns our minds toward hunting and such. Anyhow, next year you can bet I will be doing quite a bit more November fishing. Today we only fished about 2 hours and last year probably only 6-8 hours for a grand total of less than 10 hours of November fishing over a 2 year span. Next year I am going to try and fish for 40 hours in November and see what I can get figured out and catch, gonna be interesting........

Monday, November 21, 2011

Elk Hunt Finale

So last night Dean spotted a mega herd of Elk grazing up near a place they call the Saddle! He figured they would mill around there all night and then head up the mountain early in the morning. Our plan was to get me and Jared posted into strategic positions well before sunrise. Supposedly there were only a few good places for the elk to pass through en route to their bedding zones. The wind direction that morning narrowed down the two best places to sit and wait!

So again I woke up this morning and couldnt move. I was basically paralyzed in my bed with internal chemicals locking up all my muscles. I needed some WD-40 or something to loosen up all the rusting joints......... Anyhow we ate some breakfast, I attempted some yoga like exercises and we were out the door.

We needed to get into position in the dark and had a couple miles of atv driving and a couple miles of intense hiking ahead of us. Adam, Rand, and I headed out one way and Jared and Josh headed to the other spot. Even though I am writing this in hindsight, we had a pretty good feeling about today being the day! Rand was coming along to film the adventure and he did a phenomenal job!! TV quality stuff he took, I will have the video hopefully ready in a week or so!

The intense hiking started out great, but when we realized the elk herd was already on the move before sunrise, our hike turned into a jog! Our trail was on a bluff overlooking the saddle and we could hear the elk milling about below us as, very very cool experience. A 300 lb man jogging at full speed and trying to be sneakily quiet on snowy icy trail in the dark along a cliff up in the mountains. This kind of thing you basically can only do in the dark, because in the daylight you can see and are much more cautious. It always amazes me how walking through thick timber and terrain is easier in the dark......if you spend time in the woods I know you have experienced the whole how did I make it through there once it gets daylight and you can see.....

Anyhow, we finally make it into a good position and there were already a handful of elk making there way through the pass. A small herd of 9 elk were just 250 yards away and coming into the perfect clearing for a shot. If you look at this pic, right in the center there is white snow covered opening in the brush halfway up the hill. The elk were moving from the bottom right of the pic up the trail to the left in a single file line. The first 5 elk had already made it past that opening and were in the thick brush. The other 4 elk were in the scrub brush near the center of the pic heading right into that opening in the center!

There was a big cow, a calf, a spike bull, and a yearling cow still to come out into the opening! I was huffing and puffing and trying my best to send oxygen evenly throughout my body! I got my gun up on the sticks and put the crosshairs onto the big cow in the scrub brush. I was pleasently surprised to find out that my scope was 50% frozen around the edges with only the center not frosted over.......not cool.

The cow steps out into the opening and the calf decides to come up and walk right behind the cow. They would take a few steps and the gingerly graze for a bit. They werent in a hurry. Just a waiting game that probably was only a minute or two and finally there was the cow in the middle of the opening with a clear shot. This was it, they didnt have a clue that we were there and I knew that this was the time.

It wasnt easy finding the cow in the frosted over scope, but I held er as steady as possible and gently squeezed the trigger! I put the 180 grain bullet from my 300 win mag right into that elk's heart at 218 yards! You can see in this pic that she ran a few steps down the hill from the clearing and then just died in stride and slid down the rest of the hill. She is laying at the bottom only 30 yards from where she was shot!

Man I was so pumped up, what an unbelievable feeling and also sense of relief to drop an elk in plain sight! Dream of harvesting an elk just came true! Big game hunting like this is something I have dreamed about my whole life and is one of those things that you just never know if you will ever take the initiative to make it actually happen.

When it became reality I just stepped back and thanked God for amazing experience and opportunity! There is something about the mountains that seem to draw you closer to Him. I also can't thank Edwin enough for turning the dream into reality, he made the whole trip possible for Jared and I! Putting together a big game hunt is kind of an intimidating task, the experiences I learned from this trip will stick with me and be an asset to me forever!!

So it turned out that we only spooked the first 9 elk coming through the pass. 3/4 mile away we could see a mega herd consisting of 79 elk and a big herd 1/4 mile behind them that was about 30 or so. They were headed this way too and we were fortunate to have an awesome front row seat for Jared's hunt!! The elk were headed our way and Jared and Josh were getting set up!

We watched Jared and Josh sneak into position about 1/4 mile behind and below us. By the time they got down the hill into a good position, they actually spooked the mega herd. In this pic, the mega herd is down along where the tree line meets the snow covered saddle. They made it through the pass while Jared was getting set up down in that pinch point.

Here is a zoomed in portion of the above pic showing the mega elk herd.

So the 30 or so elk bringing up the rear didnt get spooked by Jared and when they came through the pass Jared took aim and dropped his cow right in her tracks! A perfect 247 yard shot. So nice not to have to track elk through the mountains.

We were able to film his hunt from our location which was super awesome, but unfortunately we were zoomed in on the back part of the herd and he dropped a cow from the front. Oh well, not easy to film a hunt from 1/4 mile away, but still very cool footage to have both hunts on the same film with the camera rolling!

We both waited for the perfect opportunity and let me just say that how this hunt went down couldnt have been scripted any better! For this to come together so smoothly was no easy task! If I was just 5 minutes later getting into position I would have missed my opportunity at the elk headed up my trail. If Jared would have been just 2 minutes later getting into position he would have been too late as well.

Jared and his nice Cow! These animals are HUGE compared to whitetail deer. Unbelievable how big they are and how they move and live in the mountains!

Dean and his brother in law Dave pretty happy on this fine day!

The whole team dives right into the field dressing of the elk! (except Dean and Dave, they have passed on those duties to the young bucks!) Jared's elk dropped just a 1/4 mile down the saddle from mine! Very nice and convenient, especially since we could get the ATV's right up to each animal!

After we got done field dressing both elk, we decided to hike back heart attack hill as opposed to riding back on the atv's. Kind of like our last hurrah with the mountainous terrain, kind of like our we kicked some serious mountain rear end, kind of like marching back from war victorious, kind of like 30 more minutes of pain just because riding back on the atv's just didnt seem right. (sending the elk back on the atv's seemed perfectly appropriate though....)

We knew we could conquer the hill, because just about the time our own adrenaline would wear off, we knew Edwins energy beans would start to kick in!!

We finally, eventually made it back to camp and ate some lunch and took some more pics! Jared and I posing with our freshly hung elk meat!!

We got some fun photos with our whole hunting group!

After we got done taking care of the elk and eating lunch, we headed out to the only 2 ponds not frozen over to do some trout fishing! I ran out of time and will be posting more trout fishing photos in the next post!

One of the better days of my entire life. The sun was shining and I got to enjoy the fruits of some of the most remarkable lake and land management on the planet. What Dean and his family have put together over the last 100 years is simply uncomparable to anything I have ever seen to date. Definitely inspiring to see land being intensively managed by the same family for over 100 years! What I learned here will stick with me forever!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2nd Day of Elk Hunting

So this morning again I woke up way too early, but this time was different when I went to get out of bed....yep, you guessed it, every muscle in my body ached. Oh my goodness, it took me 15 minutes of stretching to get loosened up. I got the fires blazing and was chomping at the bit to get the day rolling!

We headed out before the sun this morning and were greeted to 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground. Jared and I headed up the mountain. We walked together for about a mile and then split up to make a huge couple mile loop. The plan was to meet back up together in about 1.5 hrs or so over by some ponds. If you look close you can see Jared heading out:

I didnt have nearly as much ground to cover as Jared, so I moved very slowly and sat up at the first real good elky looking spot. Wouldn't you know that 10 minutes later I turned to the right and there was a cow elk staring me down only about 100 yards away!!! We stared at each for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was about 6-8 seconds. I didnt move a muscle, but she took off back into the thicket real quick.

Here is the kicker, back in the thicket there obviously were plenty more elk who didnt see me, but who new it was time to get moving as well. Man are they ever loud crashing through the brush! Anyhow 3 of them took a path up a hill that was in my plain sight and decided to stop halfway up and look around. I raised my gun and put my crosshairs right onto the biggest cow and believe it or not, my heart actually wasnt beating like I thought it would be. I had a good 10 second window to take that shot, but for some reason I knew I wasnt quite ready yet to harvest an elk.

Those 2 cows and a spike buck eventually ran up the hill and out of sight and I just sat there in pure amazement and complete awe. Having that opportunity to harvest an animal and not taking it was actually an experience I will never forget. It was like I was a now a mature elk hunter even though I still basically don't know a thing about elk. I sat for another 10 minutes and just thanked God for that experience. I just can't even describe with words how great that was.

With the very fresh snow, I was so excited to meet back up again with Jared to start tracking where the elk came from, how many there were, and obviously were they went! I slowly made it to our meeting point and actually tracked Jared down a few minutes early, because by then my excitement was escalating.

So as we went back and started tracking the elk, we found out that there were waaay more than just a handful of elk in that zone. There were tracks coming and going all over the place back in there and we found a major bedding zone with well over 40 visible elk beds in the fresh snow!! We thought we were really onto something and we started following tracks to track down our elk!

Here is what the elk beds looked like. They were everywhere and many of them had piles of poop turds nearby. Apparently they do their business while resting:

Well, what we found out real quick was that we are pretty much the worst trackers on the planet. We would be following an elk highway only to basically lose the trails into the thickets. Those elk knew they were being followed cause they would just disappear off the trails and jump into the thicket up or down hills all the time. We tried going into the thick stuff once, but after getting stuck numerous times and falling down a time or two, we realized that every track we followed lead to a dead end! They just disappear......

Here is a pic overlooking the elk valley with the big mountains in the far background:

Kind of disappointed at our tracking and walking abilities we headed back for lunch. I actually forgot what we ate for lunch, but do know for sure it was delicious! We didnt have a bad meal the whole week!

When we got back to camp we found Edwin and the guys hanging Edwins elk. He was out hunting with Josh and harvested a big cow! Josh took this phenomenal photo:

For those who don't know Edwin, he is a 17 year old trapped in a 53 year old body! He is borderline crazy, and always the life of the party. This elk skin was just a few minutes removed from the elk and still nice and warm:

Here is a pic of our guides Adam, Dustin, Josh, along with Dave, Edwin, and Rand.

While we were eating lunch, and having fun taking pictures of Edwin, the guides went out glassing key areas for elk. Josh, Adam, and Dustin found a small herd just bedding down, so we knew exactly which direction we would head after lunch. Thats kind of nice to occasionally skip the whole wandering around aimlessly for a few hours process. It was time to put on the stalk!

The snow was lightly falling and we quietly sneaked in about 1/4 mile to get into position on these elk. It was so cool to get in and set up, the setting was picture perfect! The elk were bedded down in a small clump of scrub oaks about 290 yards across a small crick valley. We were at the top of a ridge hiding in our own clump of scrub oaks.

We waited about 20 minutes and finally some of the elk started stirring. The started walking in a single file line out of the brush and into the open valley. Jared put his scope onto the second cow in line and just as they got to the fence they stopped. Here was a decision....take the cow at 255 yards or see if they will keep on coming right on in. That opportunity only lasted about 10 seconds and we all decided to watch them and see if they would keep coming. This would be just so perfect to get a good clear shot!

Well wouldnt you know that instead of coming on down to the crick valley they decided to turn around and head back into the brush.....ugghhh. It wasnt 5 minutes later and they sniffed us out and all 9 of them hightailed up the mountain into the abyss.... Josh was kind of surprised it took them that long to sniff us out.

We took a gamble and this time it didn't pay off, but again just knowing we could of potentially harvested an elk was a great sense of accomplishment. Both Jared and I were not interested in just flinging bullets. Even if we didn't get another opportunity the rest of the week, we did not regret passing on elk today!

That whole stalk took about 3 hours. We still had about an hour of light left, so Adam and I headed out on a polaris to a new zone. We drove a few miles away and started up a hill. About 30 minutes of hiking and we come up to an opening and sure enough there were some elk. By this time I am thinking man there are elk everywhere. I never dreamed there were so many elk in Colorado.

Anyhow we were about 60 yards away and a little too close for comfort. We never had a chance to get the gun up cleanly. They busted us and headed out. We just simply were too close before we realized how close they were to us. Light was fading fast and we just decided to head back down to the Polaris and head back to camp.

I was so tired I could hardly stay awake for dinner. My legs were feeling alot like jello and I was already getting stiff as we settled in for the evening. I am pretty sure I fell asleep on the couch and I vaguely remember listening to everyone plot various tricks to play on me as I slept. If my hand actually did get placed in a bowl of hot water thank goodness I didnt end up wetting the bed that night.....

With scenery like this, I couldnt wait for the night to get over and get back out into God's country!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Colorado Elk Hunt Begins!

I wake up about 3 am with loud wind and rain beating on the old cabin tin. Agh great, just two hours from my first hunting trip up in the mountains and it sounds like a hurricane outside! Everyone else is sound asleep and I just sit on the couch for the next couple hours. Dean strolls in about 5 am to stoke the fires and I already had em rollin! I bet you they went through twice as much wood as usual the week I was there!

Day in and day out, I think I am probably the only person in the history of elk camp to consistently wake up at least an hour before Dean came in to put some logs on the firs. Yes, I am a freak who for some reason cannot sleep in the mornings. I sleep great at night, but for some reason am always up before the sun every stinkin morning. Brook is extra grateful for our kids to have the same curse as me.....not!

So anyhow by the time we all ate our bacon and eggs, the sun had come up and the rain finally started to turn into snow! We got a late start out of the gate, but by 7:30 am we were headed out into the mountains looking for some elk.

Dave dropped me off onto a 2 mile long ditch and told me to take about 2 hours to walk the ditch and look both up and down for elk and he would meet me at the end of it. It was very thick with scrub oaks and there werent nearly as many clearings in it than I had envisioned. Anyhow after about 30 minutes of walking and I come to nice clearing and just sit and wait. Picture perfect setting and wouldn't you know about 5 minutes later and to my complete disbelief here comes a big bull elk just meandering along!

I watched that elk for about 10 minutes and then he scooted off into the thicket. It is snowing pretty good out by now and I just sit there in awe of seeing such a majestic animal out in the wild up in the mountains! No other elk came out and I moved on to see what was around the next corner. The reason the bull came out, was because I had a cow tag! Supposedly 3rd season in these parts is mainly cows everywhere, but there I was looking at a big bull!! Oh well, next year I go for a bull tag and mule deer tag and cows will be all over the place......

As I get close to the end of the ditch I could see lots of Mule deer tracks in the fresh snow which was super awesome, but then all of a sudden I realized I was up in the midst of a herd of about 15 mule deer scattered all around me. The 4 bucks in the group scampered up the mountain and out of sight, but the ladies and youngins just played the staring game with me for about 15 minutes. Finally they decided to bounce up the hill in unison. For some reason they just seem alot dumber than whitetails...

So while I am having this incredible mountain experience, Jared is having quite an experience of his own! Dave and I dropped him off at supposedly a really good elk crossing for him to just sit and wait and try to catch some elk headed back up into the mountains. They go down at night to feed and up during the day to bed down. Anyhow after a few minutes of looking out for elk, Jared gets an up close and personal encounter with a herd of cows...not cow elk, but actual cows.

When Dave and I went back to pick up Jared, we found a huge herd of cows hanging out right were we left him! Jared had the gps unit and was able to pinpoint the ranch and ended up walking back the 4 miles! That was after he got side tracked from trying to sneak up on a herd of 4 elk the next ridge over.

So anyhow, where we were at there are lots of irrigated cow pastures in the mountains. The elk sneak down into the cow pastures to feed at night and we try to set up in there paths headed back up the mountains in the morning hours. Then during the day we head up the mountains looking for bedded down elk. Thats where Rands elk hunting story begins....

Rand and Edwin were out with Josh glassing at the top of a hill. They spotted 4 elk headed up a path and they took off to sneak into position for a kill. They played the wind perfectly and got within 200 yards. Rand layed down to shoot, but when he was laying down he looked over and saw two different elk just 140 yards away to the left. He quickly changed gears and picked out the cow who was with a spike buck.

His first shot hit a little far back and while the cow was trotting away he put another shot in her hind quarters. His third shot missed and his 4th shot probably over 300 yards away put her down! Rand is 14 years old and this is his second elk hunt!!

Rand was about 8-10 miles away from us, so we were pumped up when we found out he connected on the first morning! He spent the rest of the week looking for black bears and filming our elk hunts!!

We all met up for lunch at noon and gobbled down some of the best chili on the planet.

The snow just kept getting harder as the day progressed and by the time we went back out at about 3 pm it was really coming down!

I went out by myself again that afternoon and walked 1.5 miles up the most scenic old trail you can imagine! About every 150 yards I would come across a clearing littered with beaver dams and small ponds. By then the wind had come to a screaching halt and the quiet heavy snow was just breathtaking unbelievable.

At 5 pm I spotted four cows still bedded down about 500 yards away, but didnt have enough light left to make it worth stalking into position. You have to remember that this was still the first day of the hunt and my legs had already put on some serious miles! So instead of enduring more pain for an iffy chance at a shot, I was blessed with two monster mule deers just staring at each other about 60 yards from me.

Its mule deer season, I just didnt get mule deer tags. Both of them were shooters, but the one on the left was an absolute monster!! They knew I was there watching them, and they didn't care one single bit. Again, they just seem dumb to me, but who knows maybe they are smarter than I think. Anyhow I was blessed beyond what words can describe to experience this day alone up in the scenic mountains.

With the calm and quietness of the heavy snow, there isn't a better way to blot out the world and work back home to just meditate, pray and think. Even though I walked mucho miles, I was completely rejuvenated and will never forget this particular day.

Dave picked me up at our meeting spot at dark and we headed into the lodge for some ribs and taters and finished er off with some chocolate cake!

The cake was the only thing Rand didnt put hot sauce on today:

We all told our stories from the day and I took most of Rands money playing a dice game supposedly called Polish Craps. I bet it wasnt but 8 pm before most all of us were crashed out for the night....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jamaica Work Trip January 2012!

January 6th 2012 we are coordinating a work team to Jamaica and we still need some more guys to join us for this project! For a little background, from 1994 to 2004 we headed down to Jamaica every January to work on building the Montego Bay campus for the Caribean Christian Centre for the Deaf. When we finished that campus, we just kind of stopped heading down there.

Well, anyhow out of the blue my dad gets a phone call from the Jamaica Deaf Village (which is a few hours from the Montego Bay Campus) last month saying that one of their buildings desperately needs a roof put on it and he was told we were the guys to get er done. Somehow he tracked down my dad's contact information from the Montego Bay people and anyhow now we are assembling a work team and headed for Jamaica! Here is a pic of one of the buildings we built back in the 90's:

Currently we are putting together the roof design and coordinating all the logistics, materials, food, etc for the trip. With a few phone calls and emails to all the folks who used to head down there with us, we have put together a rock solid work team so far, but what we need is still at least 10 more guys to make this possible!! Ladies we will put you to work as well! If you are interested get your passport expedited immediately and give me a call for more details! 309-303-5691 or shoot me an email to

The cost of the trip is roughly $850 per person which includes airfare, lodging, food, materials, etc. But don't let that inhibit you from coming. We have some folks (and we definitely are looking for more) who cannot make the trip, but will sponsor others to go in their place! Any help is greatly appreciated in making this project possible. The dates are January 6th-13th, but that may possibly change up or down a day.

We will be building the trusses, and setting them onto this roof. Plenty of up in the air work for young adventure seekers and plenty of ground work for the old and wise. The weather is usually mid-80's in Mobay that time of year, but the Deaf Village is up in the mountains so if I remember correctly lower 80's and without the humidity!

The Montego Bay Campus is a 7 acre school facility for deaf children. While attending that school they live on Campus. The Deaf Village (where we will be heading) is a 100 acre village for deaf families to live and work and attend church! Really an awesome place up in the mountains!!