Hey everyone. I first need to start off by apologizing for the lack of content lately. This is unacceptable and not fair to you as followers of my blog. A lot has been going on which has led me to sit down and write this post. I have been thinking a lot lately about the best way to create a balance between work, family and all of my outdoor passions. All of these things are important to me and here is what is going on in these areas of my life and how I plan to create this balance to benefit you my followers!
A little over a year ago I had to move on from my attempt at working in the outdoor industry full-time. Working the night shift was becoming increasingly difficult on me and my family. I was able to obtain a position with a local utility company in their billing department. This past summer, about nine months into my new job, I was offered a promotion to billing manager. I absolutely love my new position and it has given me a sense of accomplishment in my professional life. Now, there is one part of my job that has been difficult to deal with. The vacation policy leaves something to be desired, especially for the outdoorsman. I have to use half of my vacation in January, February, March (our slow time) and can not use any during October, November, December (our busy time). Yep! Ouch! Now if I didn’t love my job so much this could definitely be a deal breaker but I am learning to adjust and deal with it.
Above all else, my family is the most important thing in the world to me! The kids are growing fast and my wife and I celebrated 8 wonderful years of marriage. With my current vacation issues, my wife has been extremely supportive and understanding. Allowing me to hunt as much as possible on the weekends during hunting season. I was fortunate to be able to harvest two deer this year with my new Darton bow (we’ll save the details for another post!) and limited time in the woods. I am even more excited with the fact that I was able to get my son in the woods with me on a couple hunts as well! When I first started the blog I was spending way too much time getting things going and I was neglecting the time I needed to spend with my family. After realizing this, I think I went to the other extreme and have neglected creating meaningful content for you! Hence, my reason for sitting down and creating this post!
The great outdoors
This past year has really been a great year for me in the outdoors! I have been able to harvest a few nice animals and provide food for my family as well as gain new experiences. This past Spring I completed the Wisconsin Trapper Education course. This was a great experience and I look forward to sharing my journey into the world of trapping with you! To help share that journey and my outdoor adventures with you, I have purchased a small video camera and hope to put together some short clips of my experiences along with the writing! A few new Company Spotlights are in the pipeline and will be coming soon! I would also like to start posting a regular video segment but I need your help! What do you guys want to see? Reviews, product demos, hunting/fishing tips? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at email@example.com
Again, I apologize for the lack of content recently but I assure you that I am back and have a plan in place to keep the balance between work, family and the great outdoors in check! Stay tuned for an exciting 2017!
By Steve Wall
This is Part 2 of an Elk Hunting adventure from 2011. If you haven’t already, read Part 1!!
Similar to many other hunts back in Wisconsin, the night before opening day of the 2011 archery elk season in Colorado was pretty much a sleepless one! As I mentioned before, the outfitter said that he would take us out on the first morning to show us some of the area we were hunting. He met us up at our cabin just before daybreak and we started down the trail. We were about 300 yards down the trail and my dad stops us. “I forgot my release!” The outfitter and I waited as my dad hurried back up the trail to the cabin to get his release. He returned a short while later with his release; he later revealed to me (he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of the outfitter) that he ended up finding the release in his pocket, not in the cabin!!
The outfitter pointed out that there were three or four really good trails that run horizontally along the mountain. We followed the outfitter as he led us up the valley along the bottom trail. He would point out areas for us to watch for and set up later in the week. We came to a really large tree and we sat down to see if anything would come from the creek. The over-the-counter tag for the unit we were hunting was either sex. As we sat in this first spot, the outfitter suggested that we be willing to take a cow if the opportunity presented itself. As we were sitting there, a cow and a calf came up out of the creek bottom towards us. The elk came up on the side that my dad was facing but they saw us before he was able to get a shot. Our first setup and we already spotted our first elk, what a great way to start our hunt!
After the close encounter on our first setup, we continued up the mountain to the next set of trails. We set up in a few more places as we worked back across the mountain. We setup along a trail and started to discuss a game-plan for the rest of the day. As we were sitting there, we heard movement coming above us. Then, almost out of nowhere, a herd of elk came through about 20 yards above us! There were lots of cows and calves and a few smaller bulls. I watched as my dad drew back his bow and set his sight on a cow standing 20 yards away. He released the arrow and the herd took off along the side of the mountain. We sat there waiting for a few minutes to let things settle down. I think I was shaking just as much as my dad after he got the shot! I was able to draw on the herd but was not able to release an arrow! With the outfitter still with us, we searched the area the cow was standing when my dad shot. We were unable to find any blood at the point of impact, so we spread out along the area to search for blood. We spent quite a while looking and could not come up with any blood. We just couldn’t figure out what would have happened. We returned to camp to eat some lunch and make a plan for the afternoon.
We had a few other close encounters during the week but just couldn’t get quite close enough. I had a nice bull at about 60 yards in the woods and just couldn’t get an opening for a shot. I also had a big cow at about 40 yards just before dark one evening but couldn’t get a shot on that one either. Along with the elk, we encountered various other animals during our hunt. We saw a few mule deer and also had a rare sighting of a bull and cow moose! According to the outfitter, moose were just starting to be reintroduced to the area. I was able to call the moose into about 30 yards just using my mouth as a call! We also had a few encounters with some black bears during our hunt. One encounter in particular was a little to close for comfort! About mid-week the outfitter was going to show us another area that we could hunt. We started down a trail and came upon a black bear feeding on a dead elk carcass. We stood on the trail watching this amazing sight. We were probably only 40 yards from this bear. The outfitter drew his sidearm just incase the bear spotted us and didn’t like us being there. Well, that is just what happened!! The outfitter tried yelling at the bear to scare it off and instead of running away the bear came off of the elk carcass and bluff charged us! The outfitter fired a couple of warning shots towards the bear and the bear ran about 30 yards and looked back at us. We headed back up the trail the way we came and got out of there as quick as we could! What a scary yet exciting experience, something I will always remember.
It is experiences like this that truly make the hunt! Whether an animal is harvested or not, hunting is all about the experiences and the memories created! To be able to have these experiences with my dad is something that I will cherish forever! These are stories I will be able to share with my children and hopefully someday create new memories with them! I look forward to teaching my children the honor and tradition associated with hunting! As well as the respect we must show for the land we hunt on and the animals we harvest!
By Steve Wall
Growing up my dad and I would always talk about making a trip “out West” to hunt elk. My dad would share stories about previous hunts he had been on and with each story my excitement and desire to hunt the Western states was growing! Although it wasn’t an actual hunting story, my dads mule riding experience on one of his trips is by far my favorite and has me almost crying every time I think about it!
The group was starting to come down off the mountain for the evening. The mule my dad was riding was stubborn to say the least. On the way down the mountain something must have happened and the mule took off on a dead run down the mountain. My dad, weapon in one hand and holding on for dear life with the other, his hand ending up behind him bouncing down the mountain on this mule. The terrain would level out for a bit and he could regain his position, but would bounce forward again as the mule headed down the next decline. Finally reaching the bottom and able to get the mule to come to a stop, he was able to get off and proceeded to give that mule a swift kick in the hind end!
Stories like this one and the desire to create our own stories led my dad and I to start planning a trip to hunt out West for elk. We finally started getting serious about our planning in January of 2010 and decided on hunting the fall of 2011. I begin searching the internet and doing research on different areas and outfitters. We decided to concentrate on a self-guided hunt to help keep the cost down. I contacted various outfitters and after discussing with my dad we settled on Hill’s Guide Service out of Collbran, Colorado.
Hill’s Guide Service is an outfitter that has been in business for many years, that experience is one of the leading factors that led us to choose to hunt with them. Before booking, we were provided with references we could call. I talked to a couple of the references and they were very honest about the land and the outfitter. After booking, we were provided with a list of gear that may be helpful on our hunt. Since we booked almost a year and a half early, the outfitter kept us updated on the hunts that fall. As the time neared for our hunt, the outfitter provided us with helpful directions, a motel recommendation since we were arriving a day early and various other tips.
Our hunt was set up for the first week of the 2011 Colorado archery elk season in Unit 421. We arrived in Colorado the Thursday before they season opened and decided to make a stop at the Cabela’s store in Grand Junction to pick up our license and any last minute supplies. The outfitter had a trout stream running right past his personal home and offered to let us do a little fishing so we both picked up a 1 day fishing license as well. We made our way to the motel to get checked in and meet up with our outfitter in the small town of Collbran. After getting checked into the motel, our outfitter met up with us and took us back to his home to do a little trout fishing with our fly rods! We ended up catching two trout that we would later cook on the grill at camp!
Our outfitter met us at the motel Friday morning and we headed out to camp. The outfitters camp is located on 200 acres of private land that connects to the Grand Mesa National Forest. There is one larger base camp cabin and three other cabins of various sizes located throughout the property. Being able to have the comfort of a cabin, yet be able to walk out the door and start hunting was amazing! We would be staying in one of the three other cabins. We got all of our gear unpacked and shot our bows to make sure everything was all set for the next morning! Now as I mentioned before, this was set up as an unguided hunt. However the outfitter said that he would go out with us the first morning to give us a little better knowledge of the area we would be hunting. This was completely unexpected since we signed up and paid for an unguided hunt! Just another example of the great service that was provided!
Read Part 2 as the hunt begins!!!
By Steve Wall
As I have said before, some of my best memories as a child were hunting and fishing adventures with my dad. I am very thankful that I was raised in a family that enjoyed the outdoors. As I look back, one of my favorite memories is one of my dads camo shirts that I would wear when I went hunting with him. When I started hunting with him the shirt was dragging on the ground, I wore this shirt until I eventually outgrew it! So many lessons can be learned from spending time in the outdoors hunting, fishing and camping. As my wife and I raise our two children, I look forward to teaching them about the outdoors and all that it has to offer. This year I was able to start sharing some of these experiences with my kids! Continue reading “Kids and the Outdoors”