What does that really mean? Wind, water or solar energy, recycling, biodegradable materials, vegetarianism, non-GMO, organic foods, no furs, protecting the environment, preserving animal life, driving hybrid cars?
Maybe all of the above apply in some ways but none of them tell the real, complete story.
But, before I get started presenting an alternative view, first let me confess. By profession, I work for a Toyota / Lexus dealer and I will happily sell you a hybrid car and show you all of the reasons it make sense for your situation if you are so inclined. Just keep in mind, I will also sell you a Tundra or Land Cruiser and justify those for you as well. In my industry, well, the customer determines what is most viable by their wants and needs.
Now, back to living green.
Ultimately, the object of true green living initiatives is to preserve and improve our lifestyle and the lifestyles of future generations.
My first thought is that there are very few, if any, people out there who, if asked, would admit to not caring about the future of our planet. Contrary to popular mainstream media opinions, even the Republicans, Tea Party members, Capitalism supporters and conservatives care deeply about the future of our home planet and the quality of life for future generations. Now this is not a politically charged or motivated post but let’s face the facts of media induced public perception. In the realm of environmentalism, liberals and Democrats are the good guys and everyone else, not so much. Is this the whole truth? Absolutely not. Can we change it? Probably not anytime soon. Should we care? Absolutely.
So, what is the real deal when it comes to living green?
In my world, living green is pretty simple. While I do believe in recycling, exploring possible alternative energy sources, eating organic and (obviously) driving a Prius if it suits your fancy, the real root of green living is anchored in my outdoor focused lifestyle.
The facts are that hunters and fishermen are the original green lifestyle practitioners. The wild game and fish we harvest and eat is as organic as organic can be. Hunters and fishermen have more heart-founded interest in the preservation of lands, waters and habitat than any liberal “environmentalist” protesting something with a sign in their hands. The health and perpetuation of game and fish species is and has been a top of mind topic of focus for generations of sportsmen.
I would dare to say that the level of commitment to these principles by hunters and fishermen far exceeds that of the trendy environmentalists often shown in the media supporting their ‘pet’ causes. Actually, I think that is the real difference between the two groups. One has a “cause” and the other a passion-driven lifestyle.
This passion-driven lifestyle has one tremendous side effect. Money. Money that supports the principles of these passions. People invest where their hearts are and hunters and fishermen are no exception to this rule. In fact, there are countless organizations that have been born out of this passion and are exclusively funded by sportsmen. Organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation lead out in practice with investment towards habitat preservation and wildlife conservation initiatives from the funds provided to them straight from the pockets of their membership.
Contrast that model to the anti-hunters and hobby environmentalists and their bell cow organizations such as PETA, who claim to support their causes but fall pitifully short in their efforts. Their focus is on media exposure for the purpose of fundraising to gain more media exposure to raise more funds. Not much practical application there that I can recognize.
Consider the following article that highlights the financial impact of hunters and fishermen on the economy and on conservation efforts and contrasts it to the strategy of the aforementioned PETA.
To sum it up, I feel proud to live my version of the green lifestyle and prove it regularly with my wallet. You should too!
In the end, I suppose I truly am a tree-hugger. Especially during Whitetail season.
As a side note, give me a call if you suddenly feel the urge to buy a Hybrid. I will be glad to help you out.
Dear President Trump,
Generally speaking, protecting the environment has long been painted as a partisan issue with liberals fancying themselves as a white knight watching over our natural environment all the while painting conservatives as the barbarians at the gate ready to pillage and plunder all things in the name of special interest driven economic advancement. Neither of these is completely true or false.
As an American citizen and avid outdoorsman, environmental issues are of critical importance to me as I am certain they are to most people who spend significant time outdoors in our great nation.
I would like to say that the millions of sportsmen, such as me, that rallied to your cause and played an extremely significant role in your election do not fit neatly into either of the aforementioned divisions. We are largely conservative on many issues including government regulatory over-reach but contrary to the stereotypes that would label us otherwise, we are extremely passionate about protecting and enhancing the diverse and expansive natural environment within the boundaries of the USA.
While I understand that you have a comprehensive and aggressive plan to restore America to greatness and I am excited to see just how much you can accomplish, I have written this letter to urge you to reject the historical stereotypes associated with partisan politics regarding environmental issues and to take a stand with the majority of Americans of all political affiliations who view protecting and preserving our wildlife, wild places, waterways and skies as causes completely worthy of our investment of time, energy and money.
The previous administration spoke of American exceptionalism as though it was a dark cloud hanging over our nation. I beg to differ and I know you do as well. I believe America is and should be exceptional on the world landscape in every way possible. I personally view our public land system as one of the crown jewels of this principle that must be preserved for the future generations of Americans currently “in the womb of time” as President Teddy Roosevelt once said.
With a thoughtful and measured approach in this realm, the protection of our valuable environmental resources and the advancement of economic growth and development do not have to be mutually exclusive, partisan concepts. I feel confident that with your support and commitment, a common sense balance can be achieved that will best serve both perspectives. Ultimately, that is what most people want on critical issues, a common sense balance.
Thank you for your time and thank you for your service.
May God bless you and may God bless America.
Archery Dall Sheep hunting is a daunting undertaking.
As I consider all the necessities and possibilities of this hunt, it seems huge. Having had zero experience with such a hunt for such creatures in such a place, research is the key.
I am evaluating assorted “suggested gear lists”, reading as much on the subject matter as I can reasonably digest, watching videos of others on mountain hunts and most importantly seeking the advice of those who have been there themselves.
For example, I recently reached out to Dustin Roe of Backcountry BC and Beyond whom I was fortunate to meet at the Dallas Safari Club convention in January. At that moment, I had no idea I would be sheep hunting this year but Dustin was probably to blame for turning my mind in that direction and even though he is personally booked several seasons in advance, he was also tremendously gracious and kind when sharing information and answering my questions. Dustin’s passion for the hunt is both contagious and extremely motivating. The link to Dustin’s website is listed below for your reference. He is a great guy and and exceptional sheep hunter.
One other example of the shared passion of the sheep hunting brotherhood comes from a Facebook “friend” that I have admired but have never actually met. A few nights ago, I was searching through Vimeo for Dall Sheep hunting videos and I came across a short film from Sitka Films called “Connected” chronicling an archery Alaskan Dall Sheep hunt with Adam Foss. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth your time. Here is the link to see for yourself:
After watching Adam work hard to arrow a fantastic Alaskan ram, I reached out to him to seek advice on his arrow & broadhead setup and he responded promptly with not only the “what” to answer my question but the “why” as well, providing me with the reasoning behind his choices. Once again, a very experienced and knowledgeable sheep hunting brotherhood member more than willing to help a wannabe member. I am beginning to see a trend here and it makes me feel very good about it.
In my previous post I announced that I had taken the plunge and booked not one but two mountain hunts. I still can’t believe it. Dall Sheep and Grizzly in Alaska this September and Stone Sheep and Mountain Goat in B.C. in 2017. Talk about going off the deep end, I may have set the bar pretty high with this shenanigan.
The whole story is that I believed all along that I would do a mountain hunt of some kind this year. I had my eye on Mountain Goat and/or Mountain Caribou for this year and I had begun my physical preparation accordingly. Then, without any notion that it was even possible, the right doors opened and sheep became the primary quarry with possibility of a big old Grizzly as a bonus. In any case, much of the preparation is the same so, hi-ho, hi-ho it’s off to work I go. Work that includes huge doses of hiking with my over-loaded pack, daily strength training, countless arrows sent downrange as well as regular practice with the rifles (just in case). In reality, although I call it work it is really a labor of love.
This work continued today with 3 solid miles of up and down terrain with my Mystery Ranch Metcalf packed out to 65 pounds. Man, this thing is comfortable. Really, really comfortable. Mystery Ranch has it all figured out.
One other product I would like to mention and highly recommend is my boots. I have chosen to use the Schnee’s Granite for these mountain hunts and I must brag on them for a brief moment. My experience has found them to be sturdy but extremely comfortable right out of the box. At this point, I have put around 50 miles on mine in varying terrain with and with out loads and have not even experienced the first hot spot much less a blister.
I suppose that is enough of the product placement for the moment but I will fill in the blanks on all of my gear as time passes. I will make it clear that I am not sponsored by any of these companies and any endorsement or other opinion I may give is strictly the result of my personal experience with the product and company, good or otherwise.
It’s still a little surreal. I have never truly given much thought to sheep hunting. I have read all the stories and heard all the tales. They are all different but in many ways they are all the same. “If you ever sheep hunt, you’ll be ruined for life….” and, “I am just obsessed with hunting those mountain sheep…”. The meta-message is clear. Don’t do it! Unless, you are prepared to deal with the consequences. You know, things like obsessive planning, extreme fitness, social alienation due to the inability to talk about anything except sheep hunting and potential bankruptcy. Sounds just glorious doesn’t it? Truth is, I never really thought so, until now.
So it begins. I have booked my first sheep hunt. In September of this year, I am headed to the Wrangell – St. Elias Mountains in Alaska to pursue Dall Sheep and Grizzly Bear.
(The above photos are not my own but represent my hopes and expectations.)
I am beyond excited on one hand yet deeply concerned on the other. I can’t help but wonder if I have just stepped off into the sheep hunting abyss, never to be the same again. As strange as it sounds, I kind of hope so. In fact, I am already exhibiting symptoms confirming the early stages of sheep sickness. The most obvious one is the fact that even before I have taken my first step on the mountain in Alaska, I have already booked a Stone Sheep hunt for 2017. My fever is apparently rising already. I am afraid to even think the words Grand & Slam in the same thought.
In any case, now the “fun” begins. The physical preparation, the gear collection, the planning and re-planning. The preparation alone should be a real journey for this soon to be 50 year old in search of adventure.
I will be using this blog to chronicle the process. Stop in to visit from time to time. You could have a front row seat to watch as an otherwise sane and reasonable man begins to lose his mind.
Picture this, you have just made the perfect cast into a back eddy along a cut bank on your favorite stretch of stream. As the dry fly naturally drifts just along the edge of the flow, a trout rises and takes your offering. A solid hook set, followed by a few minutes of gently playing the situation out and you are blessed to bring a beautiful 22 inch Brown Trout to hand. You carefully lift him from the water and admire his coloration and big hook jaw. A quick grip and grin “Hero Shot” or two and one of the greatest moments of your fly fishing pursuits begins to fade away as you watch your prize vanish into the darkness of the deep run along the river bank.
If that doesn’t speak to you, maybe this one will.
You rose well before the November dawn and drove in anticipation towards a stand that you had placed several weeks ago for this exact type of morning. A little while later, you are settled in as the rising sun begins to bring the hardwood bottom to life. The squirrels are first to break the silence with their industrious activities, each one sounding excitingly similar to a walking deer. A short time later, the wild turkeys that were roosted on the nearby ridge-top fly down and pick their way across the bottom and out of sight. Hours pass. The set is perfect. The wind is perfect. The weather is perfect. No action. Then, just as the warmth of the afternoon sunshine begins to make your eyes heavy, you glance to your left and there he is. At first you think your mind is playing tricks on you. You didn’t hear him; how did he get there? You look again and he is now moving, walking straight toward your stand. In one fluid motion you are at full draw and as he enters your shooting lane, you settle your 30 yard pin tight behind the shoulder and trigger your release. He lunges forward and runs halfway up the ridge where he stumbles and falls. Now, all too soon, you climb down and walk slowly up to the buck of your dreams. It is over, faster than it began and you are left with only your memories and the “Hero Shots“.
These types of scenarios play out countless times every day of the year somewhere in the sporting world and while the Hero Shot is hardly a new fad, the motivation for the pictures seems to have changed. Originally, the pictures were less Hero Shots and more meant to document the event for future generations and solidify the memories. The Hero Shots of today still do those things but there are new twists as well. The fact that there is an entire outdoor entertainment industry with hundreds of “celebrity” hunters and fishermen changes the motivation. In addition to the ones who have already made it in this industry, there are literally tens of thousands of others trying to get noticed and they all are actively seeking recognition on this “new” thing called the Internet. If you don’t believe me, just sign on to any social media site and since we primarily associate with people who think, act and live like us, you will likely see a never-ending barrage of Hero Shots. We all strive to be successful in our outdoor pursuits and when we are privileged enough to experience some good fortune, it is only natural that we want to remember, record and share the experience. Please let me be clear, I would never say that anyone should refrain from taking the Hero Shots as long as they are done tastefully and respectfully. But, is that truly the motivation or are we more interested in “Likes” and “Shares” for the purpose of boosting our own egos?
For the record, I have taken and posted more than my fair share of Hero Shots and will continue to do so in the future. In fact, there are several in my previous blog posts and all over Instagram and Facebook. I suppose I am simply beginning to examine my own motivations. As I look back at these Hero Shots, they do bring back good memories, as they should, but they are only a small piece of the big picture. If I am honest with myself, there have been instances where unsuccessful hunts or fishing trips created better memories than successful ones. I also have experienced times when the actual kill was the least memorable part of a hunt. My Utah Mountain Lion would be the best example of such an experience. The difficulty of the conditions and overcoming pneumonia to continue hunting far overshadow the actual harvest. That being said, this seems like an appropriate time for an admission. Yes, I have Hero Shots with the Mountain Lion (in addition to many other photographs that mean more to me than the Hero Shot). Here are a few of my favorites from that trip.
I suppose the real point I am feebly attempting to make is that there is so much more to the stories of our outdoor pursuits than just the finality of the Hero Shot. It is my goal to not get so caught up in the image of success that I fail to remember the real reasons that the experience was so valuable to me as an outdoorsman. The effort, the preparation, the failures, the sunrises, the sunsets are all at least as important to me as actual success. Wait, let me rephrase that. Those things are all contributing parts of the success story.
I understand that this thought is contrary to the prevailing attitude of the many outdoor shows that are nothing more than a highlight reel of kills and Hero Shots but it is enlightening to see some new film-makers putting more focus on the journey and less or at least a more respectful perspective on the end result.
Click HERE for a great example of one these from Sicmanta and Donnie Vincent.
Is it asking too much to encourage everyone to re-examine their motives and the way they share their outdoor adventures with the rest of us? I think not. In reality, I believe it would be uplifting to those of us who love to hunt and fish. More importantly, it might change the way our sports are viewed by people whose only understanding of what we do comes from what they see on TV and in social media circles.
Think about it, how would you describe your outdoor passion to a non-hunter or someone who does’t fish if you were trying to get them involved in the sport? Would you simply break out the Hero Shots and bask in the glory of your success or would you use the Hero Shots along with other images from your adventure to really, fully tell them your story? I personally don’t believe that a picture is always worth a thousand words. Often, the words matter much, much more.
In our family we have a “tradition” of sorts. That is if two occurrences qualify as a tradition. To clarify, there have only been two occurrences because I only have two sons and this “tradition” was a father/son graduation trip of the son’s choosing. If only my wife and I had mustered up the nerve to have a few more offspring, this tradition could still be rolling along with me as the beneficiary of more wife approved bonding trips. Oh well, it is truly a little late for that but maybe someday I can talk my way into a similar arrangement with my Grandkids.
Rollback to December 2012. When I first approached my youngest son Sam and mentioned the graduation trip, I fully expected the family fisherman to choose a fishing trip to Islamorada or somewhere similar. His response was not at all what I expected, not even close. At that moment, my mission was defined and I was suddenly, unexpectedly in the market for a Black Bear hunt. Secretly elated, off I went to begin the research on spot and stalk Black Bear opportunities for Spring of 2013.
I looked at outfitters on Vancouver Island, in Alaska and Idaho and every single one looked promising but I just couldn’t settle in on one.
Then I found Jack and Lloyd Hooper’s operation in Northern BC. They are second generation outfitters operating under the name of Babine Guide Outfitters. I was immediately comfortable speaking with Jack and after a little more research, a few phone calls and a bit of reference checking, our trip was booked for the first week of June, 2013.
The next few months were spent in preparation and anticipation as time flew by and then suddenly, with diploma in hand, we were off to the beautiful mountains of Northern British Columbia and away from cell phones and technology for few days of quality time.
It is quite a long trip from Chattanooga, TN to Babine Lake, BC but we survived and thrived with the excitement building steadily. After an overnight in Vancouver, we caught an early AM flight to Smithers where we were met by Jack Hooper and driven 90 minutes to the lodge through breathtakingly beautiful country that is also the hunting area. Babine Guide Outfitters controls a hunting area that is a staggering 6500 square miles of provincial land and is absolutely loaded with Black Bears, Moose, Mountain Goats, Wolves and very substantial population of Grizzly Bears just to keep you on your toes.
I will take this opportunity to mention that we did actually get one stalk on a very big bear during the drive to camp. I spotted him in a roadside clear-cut and we quickly unpacked my bow and made a move even though my plan was for Sam to get the first opportunity. As luck would have it, his rifle was already in camp and my bow was the only alternative. To cut to the chase, when we worked our way up to the clear-cut, Mr. big bear was gone so my plan for Sam to go first was still in tact. Needless to say, our excitement level was just ramped up a notch or two. I even accused Jack of staging the whole thing just to get us into the game more quickly.
The next 30 minutes of the drive flew by as we discussed the game plan and visualized the possibilities. We were really ready to roll as we arrived at our home away from home for the next 8 days.Their base of operations is a spectacular place called Tukii Lodge and sits on the shores of largely undeveloped, 115 mile long, Babine Lake.
We took some time to get settled in, all the while looking forward to getting out for the evening hunt. This time of the year in the far North, the days are long and we would have hunting light until almost 11:00PM. We intended to use every minute of it if necessary. Black Bear hunting here is spot and stalk only and is accomplished by driving logging roads, glassing mountainside clear-cuts and even cruising and glassing the shorelines of the enormous Babine Lake and there was seemingly unlimited territory to explore.
The first evening we were to hunt with Jack’s brother, Lloyd and this time produced several sightings of Moose and Black Bears. One of the bears appeared to be a shooter and we made a long stalk in an attempt to confirm but ultimately he gave us the slip and we headed back to the truck feeling none the worse for wear. As the sun finally set, we reflected on what an amazing day we had enjoyed even though we had not even fired a shot.
The next morning, I made my way down to the main lodge from our cabin as day two dawned over the lake. It was a spectacular morning already and it got even better as I was greeted along the lakeshore by the enormous Beaver that frequents the lodge lawn. He seemed unconcerned by my approach and I almost believe I could have touched him but then I remembered the Russian fisherman that had recently been killed by a Beaver bite during an ill-fated attempt at a close up photo. At least that incident could be blamed on the fact that the fisherman was intoxicated. I had no such excuse so I kept my distance.
At breakfast, Sam and I were introduced to our guide for the balance of the week, twenty-four year old Rick Ewald. Now I would not be telling the whole truth if I didn’t admit that his youth concerned me initially. Now, in hindsight, I wouldn’t hunt with anyone else on a return trip to Babine. This is not meant to be an indictment of any of the other guides, rather a resounding endorsement for Rick.
Over the next three days, we spent 16 hours a day in pursuit of an opportunity at a shooter bear for Sam all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery with abundant Moose and Black Bear sightings. We even got the privilege of seeing a momma Grizzly and two cubs crossing a clear-cut. It was tough and long hunting. No chip shots here, at least for us to this point.
On the morning of day four, we changed our game plan and took the boat 45 minutes across the lake to a new hunting area.
After completing the lake crossing, we set out in the truck that is kept on that side. Fresh bear sign was everywhere and we covered countless miles in the truck and on foot. Still no luck. But as is the case many times, it only takes a second for your luck to turn. At 3:45 in the afternoon, we spotted a shooter in a pasture feeding on the sweet spring grass and made a move. Sam was in shooting position in short order and one well placed round from his .300 Win Mag left us with a short and easy recovery of his very first Black Bear.
Feeling renewed and refreshed by our good fortune, we loaded the bear in the truck and eventually on the boat and headed back to the lodge arriving there at 8:45PM where Jack met us with congratulations and a strong suggestion that we go back out as we still had a couple of hours of shooting light left. When I booked this hunt, I arranged for Sam to have two bears tags and a wolf tag and I purchased one bear tag for myself so naturally I encouraged Sam to go back out as Jack had suggestion. I quickly realized he was ready for a break after five long days of travel and hunting so I didn’t push the issue when he decided he would rather stay in and watch some basketball in the lodge and catch up on his world back home on the WiFi network. However, with that decision made, I quickly grabbed my Mathews Chill and climbed back in the truck with Rick. We were burning daylight.
We decided to go glass an enormous clear-cut that was only about a 15 minute drive from the lodge. It is actually a wolf hotspot in the Winter but historically has not been the best for bears even though I thought it looked promising every time we had driven past on previous days. I guess we would see if my hunch was right.
As the sun set and we worked our glass into the far corners of the cut, Rick spotted what appeared to be a shooter we checked the wind and bailed out of the truck quickly to make the stalk. The bear was headed for a narrow logging road cut between two swamps connecting two different clear-cuts and we hustled to get there and get set up ahead of his arrival. As we settled in, we lost sight of the bear for a brief period of time as he crossed a low-lying spot in the cut. Mental checklist time, wind direction = good, rangefinder = present, arrow nocked = check. No worries so far. As the bear emerged from the bottom back up onto the road bed, much to our surprise, a bigger bear was closely following the first one. This just got even more interesting. It was now evident that the from bear was a large sow and her larger companion was the shooter boar we were looking to find.
At this point, my impatience was beginning to get the best of me as they were taking their time working up the roadbed. Rick was the picture of competence and confidence, encouraging me to wait and let it play out. Had he not been there, I likely would have pushed forward and potentially blown the deal. With his patient direction, I waited and was eventually presented with a perfect 22 yard broadside shot on the battle-scarred old boar after the sow had passed by at only 18 yards. The perfect setup produced the perfect opportunity and fortunately, the shot was a slam dunk.
To see the video of the stalk, shot and recovery click HERE.
By this time it was 10:40 PM and darkness was falling quickly. After a brief (but probably too quick) blood trailing effort into the swamp and a close encounter with my wounded but not completely expired bear, judgement became the better part of valor and the decision was made to back out and return at daylight. Also, I don’t know if Rick considered the fact that this was Grizzly country when we discussed calling it off until morning but I certainly did and made no effort to convince myself or him otherwise.
After a long sleepless night, along with Sam and Jack, we returned to pick up the trail and found my bear within 30 yards of where we had left off the previous night. A perfect ending to a perfect stalk. Congratulations were shared and many pictures taken as we fought the mosquitos that were attempting to eat us alive.
After a physically challenging recovery and a few more pictures, the balance of day 5 was spent fishing and relaxing. All the pressure was off but we did still have one more bear tag for Sam.
Our day 6 hunt started early and ended quickly with Sam taking a beautiful boar with a unique, white, bow-tie on his chest in the very first clear-cut we glassed. Sometimes things are just easier when the pressure is off.
He also picked up another souvenir in the process of taking this bear.
The hunt was done. 100% successful on the bears. 1,000,000% successful as father and son quality time.
In the end, it turned into a fishing trip after all as we spent the remainder of our time relaxing and catching Rainbow Trout in small, secluded lake.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I would highly recommend Babine Guide Outfitters. Jack, Lloyd and the crew know what they are doing in every aspect. Great lodging, big, beautiful country and LOTS of bears, moose and goats. They also run a trapping operation in the winter and if a wolf is on your hit list, there is likely no better place than here to check that off.
To explore the possibilities, you can reach Jack Hooper at http://www.babineguides.com
Tell them Eddie and Sam from Guide Boss sent you. Who knows, maybe we will see you up there.
For years I have watched people try unsuccessfully to improve their golf game by buying new equipment. Ultimately, their swing flaws overpower the new technology and they are stuck with the same old game even after the equipment upgrade.
Well, I recently fished with the Loop Cross S1 5wt and the Opti Dry Fly reel for the first time on the Hiwassee River here in S.E. Tennessee. As a direct result of this outing, I have come to the conclusion that you actually may be able to buy the ability to effectively cast a fly for distance and accuracy. The difference between this rig and what I had been fishing is almost indescribable. Incorporating the 3M Company’s Powerlux Technology, the rod loads with ease and delivers effortless power. I am blown away by the unmatched combination of performance and feel.
As for the reel, the smooth action is a joy and it really picks up the line with that large arbor. It is a perfect compliment to the rod.
All this performance and just plain great looking too! It is an understatement to say that I am 100% satisfied.
I bought this setup for trout fishing but my first fish turned out to be a surprise 2lb Smallmouth that blew up on a Griffith’s Gnat drifting through a run that always produces nice Rainbows. Luckily the evening yielded a few of those too. Big fun and a nice little test to help me get acquainted with what may be my new favorite rig.
For the complete story and specs, click here.