Tag Archives: StyrkaStrong

Echo – Season 2

I listen to veteran wing-shooters talk about that one dog they own or owned that is special.   They describe a dog that instinctively works in harmony with them.  Beyond locating and retrieving evasive birds, the dog understands how to put their partner in a position for a successful shot.

This is my 7th year in the field, and Echo is my second gundog.  We adopted our first gundog, Pride, when his original owner passed away. He was 7, and had already spent many days in the field.  Pride’s initial reaction when I tried to hunt with him was to run to the truck.  His bond with Dick was obvious, and it took time to build trust with him. Pride and I had 4 great hunting seasons together, and he seemed to always salvage a difficult hunt by locating a deceptive rooster as the day was ending.

Echo is my first gundog that we are raising as a puppy. 2016 was our first season together, and she performed admirably from the start.  She was not even one, when I shot my first wild pheasant over her.  We spent many days in the field last year, and in all types of conditions.  The one characteristic that I noticed from day one, is that she always looks to see where I am positioned. She never catches a scent, and takes off in a futile chase to locate a running rooster. Echo  is a quick study and intuitively hunts within my shooting range.  She seems to understand my limitations, and works to get me a makeable shot.  Echo possess an accurate nose, incredible speed, and a high prey drive.   She will hunt from dawn to dusk with a never-quit attitude.

I don’t have enough experience to confidently state that Echo is a once in a lifetime gundog.  That said, she is proving to be everything I want in a hunting companion.

Video of Our Second Upland Trip of the 2017 – 2018 Season

Experience

After spending over two hours sighting in my X2, I headed to the Shipping Trap pasture in order to do some late afternoon scouting.  It was the day before the Colorado deer rifle opener, and I was curious to see if there were any animals worth pursuing.  The wind was blowing hard from the northwest so I walked into the stiff breeze using the trees as cover.  It did not take long to find the first buck.  He was 500 yards north of my position, and he stared at me for thirty seconds before trotting further north.  My binoculars revealed he was young and unimpressive.  I continued my walk for another one-half mile and then noticed movement far ahead of me.  Although I was quite a distance away from the deer, it was obvious that a few bucks were intermingling with does.   I managed to stay concealed as I got closer to the herd.  At about 200 yards, I poked my head out from my position behind a thick cottonwood.  There were nine does and five bucks, and it was obvious that the rut was on.  One of the three big bucks was mating with each female. If another buck challenged him, the dominate male knocked him away.  I had never witnessed anything like this so I decided to take a risk and move closer.  I did not need my optics when I got to within 100 yards.  The dominate male eventually spotted me, and stared at me for five minutes through the trees.  Realizing it was important to keep these deer on property, I slowly backed out of the area.

Saturday morning we entered the pasture about 20 minutes before shooting light. The wind was blowing directly from the west, so my strategy was didn’t differ from the night before.  I weaved my way along the dry creek, glassing the landscape every 30 yards.  The rising sun started to reveal animals moving around the western portion of the land.  A small buck slowly walked 200 yards in front of me, seemingly unaware of my presence.  Thirty minutes later, a group of five does and a young buck spotted me and stopped.  I ducked down and remained motionless on the ground.  When I picked my head up minutes later, the buck had made his way to me and stopped just thirty feet from my position.  Eventually I stood up and spooked the herd.  The good news is that they ran south, leaving everything to my west intact.  My pace slowed when I was 250 yards from the area where I witnessed the rutting bucks.  While there was no visible action, I glassed in and around the trees. I first noticed a few does bedding down, then a large rack appeared from the tall grass.  My heart started to race as I was looking at the stud from the day before.  Concealed behind a set of trees, I put a plan together to stalk the buck.  The tree closest to him ranged at 240 yards.  A small berm kept me hidden as I belly-crawled to the next set of trees.  After picking cactus thorns out of my knees & thighs, I rose, keeping my back against the cottonwood.  I was now 180 yards from my target, so I put my crosshairs of my scope where I thought his back was in the tall grass.  Twenty minutes went by and the buck barely moved.  The doe that was laying with him stood up and he followed. He took one step in my direction and I shot him in the heart. As the buck collapsed another big buck rose from his hidden position in the meadow. Seemingly confused at what just transpired, he walked towards the dead deer, and actually gave him a slight knock before moving on.

I approached the downed old buck with excitement and pride.  His face and antlers confirmed years of dominance.  While my adventure was over quickly, the memories of the event are forever etched in my mind.

Alone

I enjoy spending time by myself. Time alone allows me to focus on specific things that are happening in my life. I can be introspective, and evolve thoughts without distraction. I am able to laugh at my shortcomings, while appreciating the many blessings bestowed upon me. When I am alone, I am only accountable to myself, and the principles that guide me.

Despite the many virtues associated with solitude, when I hunt, I would rather it be with a good friend.

On opening day of Colorado’s pronghorn season, I hunted solo during the morning into the early afternoon. I was able to put the sneak on two good bucks, but passed on them as I was hopeful I could find a better animal. While I was not discouraged, I knew that I had to be cognizant of the time as Saturday would be my only full day in the field.

Soon after lunch, I asked Bob to join me in my quest for the right buck. I soon realized that my question was selfish as he had to assist other people who were less acquainted with the ranch. I made my way to another pasture with a new friend. Scott harvested a buck earlier in the day in the Two Section pasture, and he witnessed at least one more mature male during his pursuit. We walked for two hours, but only managed to locate two does. As we made our way back to my truck, I saw Bob’s truck heading down the county road in our direction. Scott had to head home, so I volunteered Bob to spend the rest of the day with me.

With just over two hours of hunting light left, we made our way to the Box Car pasture. It did not take long to glass a small group of pronghorn, including a giant buck. They were feeding, and just over 1,000 yards away from our position. We worked quickly, and closed the distance to 300 yards without spooking the 4 animals. After a 20 yard belly crawl, I set up my tripod and pointed the rifle through the tall grass at the unsuspecting buck. My first shot went high, and the two subsequent shots missed as well. Admittedly, I was perplexed with my poor shooting, as well as a bit angry and embarrassed. Instead of dwelling on my failure, Bob refocused me on getting after one more animal before the day ended. As the sun set behind us, we stumbled upon a large group of antelope facing away from our position. We got to 100 yards, and we were able to see the horns on the male. He was very average, but ostensibly in my range. Once he spotted us, he activated his 18 bedded down does, and they all started to trot west. Bob told me the male was at 200 yards, and awaited my decision. My first shot missed, but the next bullet dropped the pronghorn to the ground.

As I lay in bed that night, I reflected on the day’s events. I replayed the missed opportunity a few times, but soon recognized how gratifying the day had been despite my obvious failure. I was able to take a respectable animal, and more importantly, celebrate the success with a valued friend.

The 2017 Hunting Season Begins!

In the coming weeks, the 2017 Colorado hunting season will begin!  With some luck, hard work and a bit of skill, we will harvest mature animals that will feed our family and friends.  I will be posting on all social media sites any positive outcomes associated with my hunts.  I will ensure that the photographs and videos demonstrate my respect for the animals I chase. Some of you will be offended. Generally, those who negatively comment are the people who enjoy a delicious bone-in filet at Capital Grille. Before you comment on the depravity of my actions, ask yourself what do you do to protect and conserve wildlife? My sons and I are paid members of Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, SCI and Ducks Unlimited. These organizations ensure that the habit that sustains wild animals remains in place for years to come.

Please let me know if you want any pronghorn, deer, pheasant or quail. They’re yummy on the #Traeger.

Living Life

In just about 10 months, I will turn 50 years old.  While my personal demise does not preoccupy my daily thoughts, it is hard to avoid the reality of the situation.  If I am lucky, I have 25 to 30 years left on the planet.  That being the case, I have a lot that I want to accomplish in a short period of time.  In no specific order, here are some of the things that I will do before the lights go out.  If possible, I would like to experience many of these quests with my wife and 2 sons.

  • Learn to Play a Guitar – As a lifelong metalhead, I have and continue to admire the musical abilities of Tony Iommi, Randy Rhodes, Eddie Van Halen and Darrell Abbott. On July 29th, I will take a guitar lesson from Kyle Shutt.  Kyle is a founding member of the band, The Sword.  He is a talented and accomplished artist who kindly agreed to mentor me.  I am not sure if I can learn to play the guitar, but I am going to try. 

 

 

 

  • Own and Operate a Company – I have been an employee for almost 30 years. I appreciate the majority of my employers, and the opportunities they have provided me. That said, I want to own my own company.  It does not matter what type of company.  My years of business experience, coupled with a desire to collaborate with focused and committed people, will ensure the success of this company.  It is only a matter of time before I discover the right opportunity.
  • Hunt a Bull Elk – When I think of hunting the Western half of the United States, the first animal that I think of is an elk. I want to put my evolving predator skills to the test, and challenge myself both mentally and physically.  The good news is that I live in a Colorado where elk run wild.  Admittedly, this hunt intimidates me given my inexperience, and the intense planning & preparation involved.  It would be ideal if I could recruit a veteran big game hunter like Randy Newberg, Nate Simmons or Steven Rinella to provide me their professional insight.  If I am unable to convince a seasoned veteran to assist me, I will figure it out on my own.  Ty (12) is ready to complete his hunter safety course, and Jesse (10) is less than 2 years away.  They will make fine hunting partners sometime soon.
  • Fly Fish New Zealand – I want to catch big, native trout in a majestic environment. Videos I watch validate that those who fly fish New Zealand have opportunities to engage monster fish.  I am told that these fish don’t receive consistent pressure, and they are not shy when it comes to attacking a fly.  In addition to working on my casting proficiency, I will begin to train Ty and Jesse on fly fishing basics.  They already have the angling bug, it is now time to evolve our skills.
  • Hunt Pheasants in South Dakota – My favorite activity in life is bird hunting. If there is a mecca for upland hunters, it is the state of South Dakota.  Friends have told me that the birds are so thick, it can be difficult to pick a rooster out to shoot. Echo, my gundog, is 18 months old.  She and I enjoyed many adventures during her first year in the field.  Echo and I are ready for the 8-hour ride to rooster paradise.
  • Golf Ireland (again) – Back in 2000, some friends and I golfed the east coast of Ireland. We had the time of our lives.  The landscape is incredible, the people are kind and the courses are historic.  It is time to go back, and do it again with a true appreciation for the experience.  To do the trip with my sons and wife would make it ideal.
  • Write a Book – I need to figure out the general subject matter, then go for it. It would be great if the book was commercially successful, but that is not my motivation.  I want it to be good, and I cannot continue to procrastinate.  Tim Ferriss says to write “two crappy pages a day”.  That does not seem insurmountable.
  • Offer Help – I try to lead a selfless, generous and empathetic life. That said, when I do the occasional candid self-evaluation, I realize that I don’t do enough for others.  Of course, I try to extend myself for family and friends.  That is generally easy because I love the person that I am helping.  What I am talking about is being proactively available to strangers.  Actually, assisting people I don’t know.  I am passionate about upland hunting.  Despite my relative newness to the sport, I am 100% engaged.  There are many people that dream about walking a grassy field, alongside a bird dog, with a chance to mount a shotgun at a cackling rooster.  Many of those people might never get that opportunity. Perhaps I can be the person that will introduce them to an unforgettable moment.

As time progresses, I will hopefully minimize this list.  When inspired, I will add ambitious life objectives to it. When I accomplish a feat, I will opine on it in writing.  Completing this article commits me to the journey.  Let’s go!