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Archive for September, 2009

Sage Chicken Season

Sage chicken season has changed tremendously in the last few years.  Several years ago the limit was 3 and the season was a month long.  Now we can shoot 2 birds and have a 10 day season!
We made it out on Saturday morning, September 19th.  We were with Gordon, Chad and Max.  We got to the Laramie plains just as it was getting light.  We drove the same roads Gordon has been driving for 50+ years.  It was a beautiful day and we were amazed to see a swift fox!  Max also got to see his first badger, and it was only 5 feet away peeking out of his hole at us.  We found a clutch of birds, finally, and stepped out of the truck for some action.  The birds got up all around us- Gordon and Michelle each put one bird on the ground and the dogs were able to make nice easy retrieves.  No more birds made themselves known and we headed for home (much to Max’s displeasure).

max & chad
Tuesday after School (Max’s 4th birthday) we all headed out again, this time for the Pathfinder area.  As soon as we turned into the area  we saw a hawk on a fence-post that kept taking off, flying in front of us and lighting on another post.  He did this 4 or 5 times before he finally figured out we were heading in the same direction, he then decided to peel off and land in the field a couple hundred yards away.  Not 100 feet after all this, we saw some birds walking the road.  We stopped, got the guns and started walking toward the birds.  Max followed with his new faux 12 guage, ready to fire.  Gordon didn’t shoot due to the lack of young birds.  Chad pulled up and found two birds.  Michelle and Erik ended up shooting at the same stinking bird and Erik dropped one other, so we ended up with a total of 4.  We drove a little further and found a pair of old bombers.  Gordon walked up on them just to be sure there were no young birds with them.  About 50 yards after the bombers, we all walked up on a group that got up and three of us emptied our guns on them, not hitting a thing.  A late young bird got up and Gordon nailed it!  After passing a spring, we finally saw another clutch of birds.  Erik, Chad, Max and Michelle stepped out and walked up the road toward the birds.  Erik and Chad each dropped a bird, bringing the count to 7.  We were unable to find another group of birds and headed for the main road to clean our bounty.
Saturday the 16th Gordon, Erik and Michelle went to the southern bighorns.  We made a circle from Bighorn Mountain Road to the 33 Mile Road.  We took an hour and a half to make a walking circle in an area Gordon has hunted many a time before.  After turning and making our way back to the truck, Gordon called the dogs and us over, having seen a bird.  Before we could get near Gordon two birds got up.  Gordon didn’t shoot and neither of us were near enough.  Then two more got up, no one shot.  Then two more got up and Erik and Gordon both shot, but only Gordon hit a bird.  At least one more pair got up and we didn’t hit a thing.  Michelle watched the birds land over the hill and we all started walking in that direction.  It was like a perfect replay.  A couple birds got up and no one hit a thing.  Then another couple jumped and Michelle hit one.  Maybe 2 or 3 more pairs flew and everyone hit air.

michelle, sunny and sage

So, one more chicken season under our belts- we can now look forward to elk, pheasants and deer coming soon!

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Bow hunting for Elk

This was another Wonderful Wyoming Weekend!  We ate lunch with our folks and then headed for the Southern Bighorns to see what was doing with these bulls and try to put some elk to bed. We arrived at our camp in plenty of time to set up camp and spend a few hours on the trail.  We were into the elk almost immediately.  We hiked down into a bowl on the mountain and found a small herd of cows that had a couple small bulls and a spike.  We sat and watched this group for some time and could see a couple distant herds.  Just as we decided to get up and move we caught a big 6 point move in from the West and join the herd we were watching.  This was a very big 6 point with great royals and later we realized he had a small 7th on the right antler.  Pretty soon the bulls were bugling and working the cows and we knew we had a good chance of getting into elk in the morning.

6x7 bull
Saturday we got up and out of the camper by 5 and headed back to the same bowl.  As it got light we were well over the top of the mountain in good position to hear and see any bulls in the vicinity.  Sure enough the herd was straight South of where we had left them the night before.  As we made our way down we heard bulls to the South, to the East and a bear of a grunter to the West!!  It was an amazing morning filled with screeching and chuckling, very exhilarating.  We worked our way to a ravine that allowed us to see and hear the elk on all sides of us.  Here is where the waiting game began.  The sun was up, the herd was feeding up and ready to settle in for the day.  Fortunately these elk were quite comfortable basking in the sun this day rather than finding timber to bed down in.  We spent the afternoon waiting for a bull or a herd to make a move that would allow us to get in position for Erik to take a shot.  At one point we were watching a 5 point with some cows to our East when all of a sudden there was a bark at our back.  We first thought that we had spooked the elk we were watching, but we quickly realized a small 5X6, a spike and a cow had moved right up behind us and barked knowing something was amiss but not knowing exactly what was wrong.  What a missed opportunity!  We made 2 or 3 short moves for better positioning and finally settled into a spot that would allow for great footage and a high percentage shot.  It was perfect, all we needed was for the elk to continue to move in the same direction they had been for the last couple of hours.  No luck…  instead it started hailing, then it started pouring rain and to look at the sky it was not going to let up for some time, if at all this evening.  After toughing it out and shivering for an hour or so, we decided we had better give it up rather than chance hypothermia.  As we made the long trek out of the bowl the rain continued.

We topped out around 5pm and started slowly working our way toward the Ranger.  We took our time and Erik glassed the ridge in front of us as we walked.  As we got close to a cut we needed to cross, Erik looked to the opposite ridge and stated that there should be an elk on it (we had spooked one on our way in the night before).  Just as he finished his sentence, Michelle pointed at the ridge and said ‘there is a bull right there’.  There turned out to be two bulls on that ridge, one straight across from us and one down a couple hundred yards.  We stayed on a trail as we moved toward the bull.  Michelle stayed on the ridge facing the bull while Erik made a stalk on him.  Unfortunately at this point in the day Michelle had begun shivering and was unable to warm back up again, so even though she was in an absolutely perfect position to film like a pro- she barely got footage of Erik or the bull on the ridge.

6 point bull6 point bull

Erik made a perfect undetected stalk on the bull and was able to make a shot with his bow that allowed the elk to go only 50 yards or so.  Truly this was an amazing hunt to witness and it was fortunate that we got at least a shot on the camera of the bull before he went down.  He wasn’t in the easiest spot to haul out, but we managed to get him out in two trips to the Ranger.  The amazing part of that was Erik putting the entire front half of the bull(later weighed at more than 160lbs) on his back and walking a quarter mile!!

Click here to watch video!

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Mary’s Sheep

Now that was a hunt!!!  We got on the road to Dubois Monday night and stayed at the stagecoach for a good nights sleep.  We were up and out of the motel by 5:30.  Of course it was the windiest day we have seen since we began scouting for this hunt.  Murphy’s law was in full effect today as the ram was not in the same place he had been the last couple days.  Fortunately Erik has a game eye and found the ram just across the ravine on the opposite ridge.  Not in the easiest place to get to in the hills, but definitely approachable.

Look at the center of the picture for the ram

We started the descent just before 8am.  It was a pretty treacherous hike with washouts and gullies to cross to reach the ridge the ram was feeding on.  By 8:45 Gordon and Michelle were in position to watch and film the action and Mary, Erik and Chad moved in for the kill.  Slowly the three made their way toward the sheep always out of view, not really knowing if the ram was staying put or moving.  As they reached the edge of the hill that the sheep was feeding against, the ram froze knowing something was amiss.


They topped the hill and the sheep darted across the rim in a dead run.  Just as the ram was about to disappear over the next hill he stopped just for a moment.  That was long enough for a shot and it was all over.  There is no mistaking the thump of a bullet hitting an animal.  The ram crumpled and started to slide and roll down the steep embankment.

pulling him out

He stopped before the deep crevasses of the badlands, but then gave a death kick and continued to slide landing hundreds of feet from the top of the ridge.  Knowing it was all over was a great relief, however the real work comes after a kill.  It took some time to get the ram to a decent spot to be able to pose for pictures and get him gutted.  We worked on a very steep incline.  After working on the ram for a half hour or so we had him halved and on pack frames ready to head out.

bighorn ram

We took a more level trail on the way out and worked our way to a place we could get the ranger to so Erik and Chad didn’t have such a long hike with so much weight on their backs.  By 12:30 we were back in Dubois loading the truck and cleaning up.Click here to watch video!


on the packssteep climb

loaded up

one last look

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