Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One tough bull!

Alright, tonight I have another elk to show you, and what a story to go with it!  Some of you that may read this may think that some details may sound a little far-fetched, but I want to assure you that the details checked out perfectly with three different individuals involved.  Besides, have you ever known a hunter to stretch the truth?  I mean seriously!
The bull was taken by my cousin, Matt Morgan, who is from Panguitch, Utah but currently lives in northern Utah.  Matt was fortunate to draw a late-season rifle bull tag this year, a hunt that I was very excited to be a part of until I came down ill for almost 3 weeks!  What perfect timing, right?   Matt was accompanied on his hunt by a great bunch of guys when it comes to elk hunting; Zach Owens, Mike Marshall, Randy Dickinson, and Joe Griffin. 

Matt tells us “we left camp and headed up the mountain; myself, Mike, and Zach in one Rhino, Joe and Randy following in another.  We came out on a bench where we spotted a bunch of deer.  We glassed them and saw only does, so we started getting ready to move on.  As I said lets go Mike said “well don’t you think he is worth another look?”  I looked up higher on the hill and there was the bull, way above the deer!”

Zach and Matt left the Rhino and started to put a stalk on the bull as the others stayed behind to spot for them.  They worked their way down in towards the bull in the heavy, snow covered, downed timber.  Matt recalled how hard it was to walk through the mess, slipping and sliding over the tangled logs.  They finally worked into a good position 264 yards from the bull.  Matt struggled to find a shooting position on a snow covered log, and finally opted for a free handed shot that he felt comfortable with and touched off his shot from his .300 mag.  Zach quickly responded that he was hit, and hit good in the chest.  But tell the bull that!  The bull took off through the timber, going hard uphill.  After some time had passed the group began what would become an amazing pursuit of the bull’s blood trail; through the tangled mess of timber, up a very steep lava rock slide, and leading them all over in circles!   Now the bull had made his way out on top of the mountain.  Matt tells of how this bull would mingle with other herds of elk and wander all over through their tracks, then head out and walk circles again…a very difficult trail to follow had he not been leaving blood as well.  Everywhere the bull bedded down were huge puddles of blood, yet he kept going!  After a day spent trialing him across the rim they finally decided to back off and let him go down.  They took the next day off, and began their pursuit again the following day.

Matt said they had no problem picking up the trail again, 3 days after the shot.  They trailed the bull across the rim, down another lava slide, then down off into a canyon.  Again the bull moved back into a thick tangled mess of timber.  Things were looking up as the trail looked fresh!  Soon there was the sound of branches breaking.  As they worked down into a nasty timber pocket Zach spotted the bull, and whispered to Matt “there he is.”  Matt was able to work into about 50 yards where he had a great position on the bull.  He had switched out the .300 for his 45-70.  This time there was no doubt.  Matt fired again and the bull finally took his last steps.

So the final report?  Zach said that his GPS unit registered 15.4 miles of wandering the bull’s blood trail!  And there were parts he did not hike himself as he skipped ahead to different roads to find the trail.  15.4 miles!  Incredible!  What a great bull to make it worth it!  The bull scores 350, and just look at those amazing swords in the pictures!  Good job Matt! 

Matt wanted me to thank his good friends and family members that joined him on his hunt.  Matt says “Zach, Mike, Randy, and Joe made my hunt.  My hat is off to these guys!”  I also want to thank you Matt for sharing a great story with us!  Here’s hoping you have some more great ones for us down the road!

Monday, November 28, 2011


The Benelli Super Black Eagle II
 Well here we go, my first attempt at reviewing a few products side by side!  About 2 weeks ago I received and email from a friend asking what I thought was a good shotgun for her to buy her husband for Christmas.  Since then I have had a couple of requests from others on the same topic.  So apparently some of you guys out there are going to have a good Christmas!  I will do my best to try to get you the best gun as well!  I just want to say thanks to you that have requested this, it means a lot that you would value my opinion about this.  At the same time I want to say that I am by no means an expert!  I will do the best I can though!

A few things to keep in mind first.  The price of the shotgun will vary greatly based the options you want, for example, a camo stock is going to cost more than plain wood or black composite.  The finish of the barrel, length of the barrel, , the gauge (20, 12, or 10?) and type of action will vary the cost.  The popular choice lately is the semi-automatic, but again it will be much more costly than a pump action.  These may be some good details to "fish" out of the person you are buying for before you begin! 

Remingtion Model 870 Express
Let's start with the basic, one of the most popular shotguns ever made, the Remington model 870.  This shotgun has been a best-seller since before I could ever lift a shotgun!  This is a gun that is affordable, durable, and time-tested!  If you are looking to save some cash and get a quality product, this is your buy here.  Depending on the options you choose, this shotgun will run from about $370 to $500, maybe a little more if it is decked out. 

Another good choice in the $300 to $600 range is the Mossberg 835, 935, or 500.  These shotguns are all very similar in features and price.  I am most familiar with the model 835, which was my first 12 gauge shotgun is still my favorite shotgun.  It has been a great all around gun for waterfowl, turkey, and upland game.  I love that it is chambered for 3 and 1/2 inch shells, giving me the power for larger birds.  I would put it right up there with the Remington 870.  I think you might find it a little cheaper priced than the Remington as well.

Mossberg Model 935
Now, do you girls remember what it was like when your man bought you a diamond ring all those years ago?  Well, if a woman was to ever propose to a man this next gun would be the replacement to the ring for us!  Benelli is by far the Cadillac of shotguns!  Top of the line quality, but you will have to pay the price for it!  Benelli's semi-automatic shotguns will start at $1,100 and go up from above $2,000.  But oh are they worth it!  But if you are after a Benelli at a lower price, their Super Nova pump action models start at $529 and go up from there.  This is an excellent quality pump-action shotgun for the price. 
Benelli Super Nova (pump action)

Browning is another brand that is rubbing elbows with Benelli, and happens to be my favorite gun-maker.  If I was looking to buy a pump action shotgun and had the money on hand I would be after the BPS Hunter, which runs from $660 to $900.  Browning also carries a fine line of semi-auto shotguns that you will find similarly priced to the Benelli semi-autos.  So if it's a semi-auto you are after, be prepared to spend near if not over $1,000.  But man are they worth it!

Browning Silver Hunter
  I hope this information helps, it seems like way too much!  Just keep this in mind:  today there are a lot of shooters that will tell you that you have to have the top-of-the-line shotgun to be the best shooter.  I don't buy that for a second!  My old pale green, pump action  Mossberg 835 has put many more expensive pump and semi-auto shotguns to shame in shooting competitions!  A pump action in the right hands can work over the clays or birds just as well as a $1,500 Benelli!  But that doesn't mean that every guy shouldn't have one anyway!  Now to just convince my wife...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some recent photography!

Another nice buck we found this week!

So we survived Thanksgiving!  Well, not so much the holiday itself...or the food coma, but the whole Black Friday ordeal as well!  The good news is that after a couple of days out of town, and a day spent getting most of the Christmas lights up, I can now catch up on some ideas I have been wanting to post on here.  I have been getting a lot of good reviews of my photography...and believe me, I am by no means a professional there!  But I have been asked by a few viewers to the blog as to what kind of camera I use, and how I am getting some of the shots of big bucks that we have posted.  So, I thought I would break down the camera first, but be sure to keep reading as I have a couple more bucks to show you at the end of today's post!

Well, I guess I will break the bad news first...good photography is not cheap!  Don't get me wrong, I like the smaller cameras such as the Canon "Powershot", they are great for the hunting pack, boat, or hike.  But you know Dayna isn't going to let me run off with her $900 Sony when I hike into a lake to fish on my float tube!  The good news is there is no better time of the year to get some screaming deals!  Wal-Mart actually just had the Nikon 3100 as part of their Black Friday sale, and now they have no more in stock!  I would keep an eye on their adds this month, I bet other deals appear.  Some of the best deals I can find right now are through Ritz Camera (  They have some great deals on Nikon and Sony cameras, a couple of the best brands out there.  We actually bought our Sony a33 from their store next to the University Mall in Provo.  The same deal we bought into is now available: with either the Nikon 3100 or Sony a35 or a55 in the $650 to $800 range, depending on the model. 

 An additional zoom lens can also complete the package for $99 more, which is $100 off their original price.  By the time we got ourselves a memory card, case, protective lens covers and UV filters, our total cost was pushing $1,000.  I was sick at the time, but I tell you it was so worth it now!  I can't believe the difference in quality of our pictures now!  We actually took our own family pictures with our camera this year and they turned out great!

As far as Nikon or Sony, well, I haven't been disappointed with one over the other.  My Grandpa and Uncle own Nikons, and their pictures turn out great, and they love using complaints.  I have used my Grandpa's Nikon and think it is a great camera.  I went with Sony well, really to save money as they were out of the Nikon I was after and the next model up (the 5100) cost about $150 more than I wanted to spend.  Looking back I would do it the same again.  When I go into the different settings on the Sony an explanation of the setting appears on my screen, so I don't have to refer to the manual to figure out what setting does what.  Very user friendly, and great quality!

Now how about those bucks?  Well I don't have a super great telephoto lens that reaches out there 700 yards!  So, I set my camera to manual focus, and hold it up to my spotting scope!  Sometimes they turn out blurry...I actually hold the button for continuous shooting with hopes that within 5 pictures one turns out good, and usually does.  If you are sitting in your truck, I suggest buying a car window mount for your spotting scope, it clamps right onto the glass with padded mounts giving you a great base for your scope.  These are available from Cabelas for about $40.  Cabelas also carries adapters that will attach to the spotting scope, and hold your camera, allowing you to dial it into view without holding the camera.  I have one, but it only works for my smaller camera, my Sony is to big.  They run from $40 to $50 from Cabelas.  There are other adapters out there, but you are starting to talk dollar amounts in the hundreds.

Hopefully this was some help to you.  The best thing to learn one of these more expensive cameras is to look online and get yourself some photography training!  Just google it, there are tons of sites out there that offer courses in Photography, and even more simple how-to videos and articles.  I have just started to get into photography more seriously and I love it.  So there you are ladies, some more gift ideas for the guys...then they can get out there and snap some more pictures to submit to us here!  And now some more bucks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hailie's Buck

Alright guys, pay attention, here's a lady that has shown us how to get it done!  Josh Pollock has submitted another story to us, this time of his wife, Hailie's rifle deer hunt this year.  I'm excited to share this great story with you, and hope to share another of Hailie's hunts with you in the future as I remember seeing pictures last year of an awesome pronghorn she took down!  So don't keep us waiting too long Josh!  Again I would like to thank Josh and Hailie for writing this and sharing their hunt with us.
After three long years of putting in and not drawing a deer tag Hailie finally had her tag in her pocket and was ready to fill it on a big buck. I was informed before the hunt started that there was going to be no two points hitting the dirt this year she was sick of killing two points over the years and wanted to kill a four point or better. Well she wasn't asking for much now was she...... Plus she thought all the time I spend in the mountains for work I would have one all tied up for her. Well I wasn't able to go hunting for the first few days with her because of work so she went out with my family and they tried to find her a good buck.
Well as the deer hunt on public land goes a good buck was spotted and was feeding right to them when another moved in between her and the deer and needless to say she was a little upset. Well it was a long week of getting out when we could and turning up many small bucks but she was persistent and was going to hold out for a good buck or nothing.
Well the last day of the hunt finally arrived and we decided to go out in the morning for one last who-rah. We were driving to a location where we were going to hunt when Hailie stopped me as she saw a good buck walking over the skyline towards us about 300 yards away. We got her into a good shooting position but the sun was coming up over the ridge behind the deer and it was very hard to see. She fired a few shots to get a little warmed up. I mean what fun is it to kill a deer with just one shot, heck they give you 20 when you buy them......
Well unfortunately she forgot to grab her bag with all of her bullets in it and we were able to get back ahead of the buck again and Hailie informed me that she was down to her last shot. I told her to hold right on him and slowly squeeze the trigger. I think I may have had my eyes partially covered with my hands as the last bullet was fired. This bullet unlike a couple before it found its mark, and the buck dropped in his tracks. There was a little whooping, hollering, and screaming going on after the buck went down. Hailie was very excited as this is the biggest buck she has killed to date. It was a hunt I will never forget.
Congratulations Hailie and Josh, here's hoping you have some more great memories to share with us again after next year's hunts!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ashlynn gets ready for the ice!
I can't believe that it is Thanksgiving already!  As I think of all that I am thankful for this year I have to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of you that are viewing my blog!  I can't believe that this site is averaging 170 views per looks like we will hit 2,000 before a full two weeks of doing this!  You all are amazing, thanks for the support!  I also have to thank my wife, Dayna for her encouraging me to do this and supporting me being glued to a computer for a while almost every night.  Also a big thanks to her and my kids for being willing to be a big part of this blog.  Thanks for the memories and for helping me share them with our friends this way.

 Well, another thing that is hard for me to believe, this year on the day before Thanksgiving we found ourselves ice fishing on the Boulder Mountain!  I think that is the earliest I have hit the ice!  I checked out of work a little early and we ventured up to Posey Lake, where we found warm temperatues, 6 inches of solid ice, and the whole lake to ourselves!  What a perfect day, warm enough for just a light sweater and a little fresh snow frozen to the ice to give you some good traction.  We quickly rigged our poles and ventured out onto the ice.

After sinking 4 quick holes with my Eskimo "Stingray" auger, we baited a couple of poles with powerbait and another with a black marabou jig.  Just as soon as I got two of the kid's poles in the water, and while I was working on the third, wham!  Two fish!  The bragging rights of first fish through the ice this year goes to my 4-year-old Jackson, but Dallin was only seconds behind him!  Braden and I had a little more trouble with the jig, we had several hits but just couldn't pull them in!  So after a little pleading to be as successful as his brothers, we switched Braden over to powerbait and soon he was pulling them out too.

 It was a great day, everyone caught a few each, a nice variety of healthy rainbows and some beautiful brook trout.  The coloring of the brookies amazes me when caught through the ice.  The colors seem much more vibrant to me!

Well, you know how it goes fishing with kids, after a few fish the urge to play on the ice overcame the desire to skating and snow angels were winning over the sport of fishing, so we packed up and headed home.  It was a short 2 hour trip, but the short 30 mile round trip drive was worth it.  As we traveled through the lower country we were also lucky to run into a couple of great bucks that we were able to catch on film.  But those bucks are a story for another day, stay tuned as we have been receiving quite a few bucks to show you here!

 The weather is supposed to be very nice this holiday weekend.  I know a lot of us don't think of fishing this time of year, as it is to cold or the fish won't be very active.  Actually, November is always very good to me!  The weather will be warm, and while there are not many lakes that have the ice to fish yet, check out some other local waters while the access is good!  Lower Bowns, Otter Creek, Panguitch Lake, and Pine Lake...just to name a few...have been hot the last couple of weeks!  What a better way to spend the family time this weekend.  So get out there and be sure to let us know how you did!  Keep the stories and photos coming!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A bull for the books!

Today I am excited to post the first bull elk to our blog, and what a bull to make it happen with!  I remember when this bull was taken in 2007, and I do apologize if many of you have heard this story before, but it is a favorite of mine, and I believe it is worth sharing again.  The bull was taken by Josh Pollock, a native of Panguitch, Utah and currently Josh lives in Junction, Utah.  When Josh took the bull he was working on a fire crew out of Cedar City, and I remember him bringing this amazing bull into our fire center to show it off.  Pictures do not do this bull justice!  Well, enough of my rambling, thanks for submitting the story Josh!

After applying for a limited entry elk tag in Utah now for 11 years I drew a late season tag in 2007. The night before the opening we all split up and my brother finally found a great bull he estimated to be in the 370-380 range. We were excited and planned to hunt this bull opening morning.

 Opening morning found my dad and I hiking in the dark into a big mahogany filled canyon while my brother was set up across the canyon glassing and spotting elk. Luck must have been on our side because just after light we had eight bulls file through a small opening, it was intense just waiting for the big bull to come through, wondering if the next one was going to be him. There was one bull about a 360 six point that came through but I didn’t pull the trigger wondering if the big bull we were hunting was going to be next, but he never came through. For the next two days we couldn't turn up the big bull and I was kicking myself for not shooting the 360 bull.

One night we all split up and went to check some other areas we had been scouting. My dad found a bull low in the cedars but only had enough  time to see the bull was a big six point with an extra point off one of his sword points. We all got home that night and my dad informed us that there was a change in plans and we were going after another bull.  From the excitement in his voice I knew he was a good bull, and I figured we should give him a try.

 That next night found us back in the area looking for the bull. After a while of searching we couldn't turn him up so we started to head back for the house as the daylight was fading. All of the sudden I looked out the front window and there was a big bull standing about 200 yards away in a short sagebrush flat. I jumped out, put a bullet in my gun, and got off of the road to get a dead rest and all I heard my dad say was “ that’s him don’t look, just shoot.” The bull then turned broadside, as he did I saw that he had great front and so I thought to myself that will do.
I pulled the trigger and the bull began to run my dad kept yelling “hit him again,” but I was unable to get a good shot on him.  I was sick as I wasn’t sure if I had even hit the bull in all of the excitement. He didn’t act like he was hit, but I thought with every shot I could hear that “smack” that we all listen for.

An image of Josh's bull by Kings Recreation
 We walked over to where the bull had run, and found his tracks but it was getting dark fast, and we couldn’t find any blood. We had just decided to go home and not push him at night when my dad got to the edge of the trees and let out a big yell, “it’s a score!!” We both danced around screaming, yelling and giggling like a couple of school girls. It was a pleasant surprise!  This bull grew after it hit the ground.  We both new he was a good bull when I was shooting but neither of us expected him to be a 400” bull. My elk is a seven-by-eight with 70 inches of mass, not bad for my first bull elk.  He scores 417 7/8 gross and 408 3/8 net.  He is still in the top 5 non-typical elk killed in the state.  This was a hunt of a life time and I would like to thank my dad, brother, and wife for all their hard work and patience with me, and everyone else who helped me with this hunt.  It has been a great year for my family and eleven years was well worth the wait!

What a bull Josh!  Thanks for sharing him with us!  Stay tuned in the days to come as Josh has sent a few more items in to share with us here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holding off until the end

Today I have another buck to share with you that I have been wanting to get up on our page for a while now.  This buck was submitted by Zach Owens of Panguitch, Utah.  Zach and I have been friends for years, and he is also someone that I work with fighting fire.  That's right, apart from myself it looks like this was a great year for firefighters to haul in some nice bucks!

Zach tells us that he first spotted this buck on the general spike elk hunt, and knew he needed to return to the area during the general season deer hunt.  Zach hunted the area off and on for 3-4 days, as he had also seen other good bucks in the area.  Now, anyone that knows Zach will know that this is a guy that doesn't go out and fill his tag on the first day!  In fact, he has often told me that the last couple of days of the hunt are his favorites, and this year was no exception.

 Returning to the area on the second to last day, Zach spotted the buck at 290 yards, where he took aim and let the wind out of this toad.  When I asked Zach what he was shooting, he replied, "my .30-06 with Grandpa Devon Owens' special reloads".  Well, boy did they do the job!  Zach reports that this buck, while measuring in at 25 inches wide, scores an impressive 181 inches!  A tall frame, deep forks, and good mass make this 4 X 6 buck an awesome sight.

Now the work began.  Zach and his brother, Spencer, and Mike Marshall had to pack the deer out to their Rhino, which was 2 miles away in the dark.  Spencer's wife Laura made it to the Rhino a while before them.  As they hiked out they ended up in a canyon to far over, and had to have Laura give them a shot to signal them in to the Rhino! 

All the effort paid off of course, just look at the smile on the face of Zach's son!  That right there is a little boy that couldn't be more proud of his dad, and that's what it's all about!  Congratulations Zach, and we can't wait to see what the last day of the hunt brings for you next year!

Family Traditions!

Good morning from beautiful Escalante, Utah!

We've been having a blast around our place this week!  With the hunts wrapped up and fire season over with, it's finally time we can spend time together as a family!  We try to make all we can of the winter months before things turn crazy again come April.  With Thanksgiving coming up I've spent a lot of time thinking about the things I am grateful for lately.  Of course, for me family tops the list.  I wanted to share with you a few of our family traditions that we have been doing this past week.  I hope that you will feel free to comment on this post and share with us a few of your matter how crazy, weird, or hillbilly they may seem! 

Smashing Pumpkins?

I know this may be a little off of the big bucks and bull topics that have excited some of you in the past...but I promised my boys I would include them in my posts as often as I could, and they were excited for this.  Don't worry, there are more big bucks and bulls to come this week!

 Ok, maybe this is one of those traditions that falls in the "hillbilly" category.  We were actually really late doing this one this year!  Our kids love to pick up our jack-o-lanterns and unused pumpkins and blast them to bits!  So, this week we loaded up and headed to the shooting range to do just that!  The little guys and mom blasted away with the .22's, and dad was able to finish them off with some sweet little jacketed hollow points from my 22-250.  Needless to say the kids get quite a kick out of watching the pieces flying through the sky and splattering everywhere.  The best part is this is a memory that makes shooting fun for my kids.  I want to tell my oldest son Braden how proud I was with him of his shooting skill improvement, and the way he is trying his best to be safe with a gun.  What an example to your little brothers buddy! 

This week we have taken a few rides after school and such to see what kind of bucks we can find in the rut.  A couple of cokes, some snacks, and maybe a PBJ made by mom to hold them over until dinner and we are good to go!  Apparently the boys have had a good time spotting the bucks, they were hunting all around the house when we got home.  Here are a few of our finds this week...and we hope we have more to come!

This buck is the same as the one below on the right.

Should be great next year!

It was getting dark, but what a pig!


  I am also looking forward to our Thanksgiving rabbit hunt!  Each year (and also on Christmas) when we are at my in-laws the guys load up and head out for a morning rabbit shoot while the women are getting the meal ready for the day.  It's a great time to shoot the breeze, and test your shooting skills!  The pressure will be on, I just hope I have the back seat to myself again so I have access to shooting from both sides of the truck!  Just kidding Tom! 

Each year we loose numbers of people when it comes to hunting.  That may sound great to some of us, more animals for me, right?  But what are we going to leave hunting and fishing to...the environmentalists?  We need to do our best to get our children involved with the outdoors, that we may pass on our traditions to them.  With all the electronics and video games it's hard to get them to want to leave the house anymore.  I'm sure some blame also falls on us as parents as well as we find ourselves busy all the time.  So, share with us your traditions in the comments below!  What gets your family excited about the outdoors?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The gift that gives back?

Just a couple of days ago I posted a comment on Facebook stating that I was making jerky, which come to think of it will be done by the time you read this!  Well, I had a flood of comments from friends wanting me to bring them some.  Don't read into this the wrong way, a lot of those friends will be getting some jerky...but I thought this was a good opportunity to share what I use to make my jerky.  These are some more items that I received as gifts that I thought I would share with y'all to give you some more Christmas ideas.  I guess this is a good place to mention that I am NOT advertising for these products right now, or any of the others I have shared.  These are things that I really like to use that I feel are worth sharing.

There's a few things that are vital to good jerky, other than the meat of course!  You can make it without a smoker, but a smoker makes it oh so good!  And then there is the seasoning or marinade.  This will make or break the jerky. 

So first, the smoker.  You can spend hundreds of dollars on a smoker/cooker, which yes, I would recommend if you have the money.  But if you are looking for a deal that gets the job done and is very reliable, check out the "Little Chief" smoker.  I have had mine for about 5 years and I love it!  I have a lot of family members that own one as well.  The smoker is a perfect size for about 2 pounds of jerky meat (it comes with the wire jerky racks) and is also large enough to hold a ham or turkey.  I use my smoker as a dehydrator for my jerky as well.  I only smoke it for about 30 minutes, but I leave the jerky in for about 12-15 hours and it turns out great.  It also comes with a pan for the wood chips, and an insulating blanket that you can wrap around it to aid in holding heat.  The Little Chief can be found in Cal Ranch and Ace sporting goods sections, as well as through Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse.  A quick "google" also revealed a ton of other vendors.  I found it priced today from $95 to $130...$130 being the more common price.  There are also 2 other sizes in the series, the "Mini Chief" (around $99) and the "Big Chief" (around $149).  These are electric smokers, very simple, very easy to operate. 

Now you are wondering, where do I get the wood to put in the smoker?  You can find the "Smokehouse" brand wood chips at the same stores listed above for just a few fact, a 4-bag variety pack is only $20.  I have a wide variety myself, but for my jerky I enjoy a mix of mesquite, cherry, and apple.  I know they also carry the chips in hickory and alder.  They are also available as "chips" (more of a shredded texture) and "chunks" (larger pieces).

Now most importantly , how should you season your jerky?  Well, there are tons of recipes out there, and I have to say that I have seldom tasted bad jerky!  In fact, I'm sure I will share a few recipes on this blog in the future.  If you are looking for an easy answer that produces excellent jerky, then I suggest the "Hi Mountain Jerky Seasoning and Cure."  I have used this stuff for years and I love it!  Apart from seasoning, the packages also include a "cure" which better preserves the meat.  Each box comes with a the cure, seasoning, a shaker, and very easy to follow instructions.  This brand has many flavors to choose from, you can buy them individually or as variety packs.  Individual packs are around $5 to $10.  The variety pack is about $20.  These are also available at the stores mentioned above.  My favorites are the Bourbon BBQ, Mesquite, and Cajun.  When I take the BBQ or Cajun to work, it is amazing how fast the bag disappears!  You've got to try it!  I like jerky a little on the hot side, and to do that I simply sprinkle it with crushed red pepper flakes.  My wife got me the variety pack for Christmas a couple of years ago and I have really enjoyed it!

So there you go!  All those freezers full of elk and deer meat, or maybe even beef...what a better way to get it used up!  As mentioned before, stay tuned for a few more jerky recipes to come!

Gear up for the ice!

Ok, I know it's a little early to start talking ice fishing...I'm not loosing my mind, I am aware the ice isn't that thick yet!  Truth be told I have been talking ice fishing with friends and family since the season ended this spring!  Last year was the best ice fishing I have seen in all my years of ice fishing.  You have to admit, it's not that far away!  Today I would like to share a quick story of my best ice fishing experience, as well as share a couple more cheap gift ideas!

On January 16th, 2011 my grandpa Marvin, Marc McLemore, Garret Sawyer, and I arrived at Fish Lake for another day on the ice.  We were joined  shortly after arriving by Devin McLemore and Tyson Torgerson, who also had a couple of friends with them.  The day began as normal, we began fishing in the weed line, catching perch to use as bait.  Perch fishing was good that day, we caught a good amount quickly then moved out to about 30 feet of water to target splake and rainbows.  Fishing was fair early in the day as normal, then began to slow around late morning.  As the fishing slowed I remember telling my grandpa, "I'm going to move out deeper to see if I can catch something bigger.  I just want to try, even if it doesn't happen."

Tyson Torgerson pulls him into daylight as Devin Mclemore watches
I drilled a hole in about 45-50 feet of water, dropped my tube jig tipped with perch, and began jigging about 10 feet under the ice.  Nothing.  I let some more line out, now about 15 feet under.  Jackpot!  I quickly landed a fat rainbow, about 2 pounds...I even recovered my bait!  I let the line out to about the same depth and began to jig again.  Another hit!  I jigged slower to try to coax a better bite and he hit it.  I began to reel and it popped off!  Devin was standing about 30 feet away, and I recall looking at him saying, "that was a good fish Devin.  I'm not sure how big, but it was a lot better than what we have been catching."  I quickly baited back up and dropped to the same depth.  As soon as I pulled up softly to jig he hit again!  I had him this time!  The fish began to run, the reel singing as he stripped the line.  I imagine I must have been shouting, when I looked up the whole group had gathered around to see.  The fight lasted about 5 minutes, as I knew I had a lunker on 8 pound line and did not want it to break.  He flashed by the hole and I knew he was a beauty!  Tyson reached in and pulled him up.  Yeah, this time I'm sure I was shouting, as I now had the attention of everyone on the lake. 

Eskimo "barracuda" auger and ice rod/reel comb
both purchased at Sportsman's Warehouse
 And what a catch it was!  37 1/2 inches, 13 1/2 pounds!  The fish was longer than my fishing rod!  At the time I had no idea, but if I would have released the fish I would have shattered the Utah catch and release record by nearly 12 inches! 

I think a lot of people think ice fishing is really tough and expensive, when in fact it is quite the opposite!  Ice is the great equalizer!  If you don't have a boat to get to that deep water, now the ice allows you that access!  Now lets talk gear.  You can find a variety of ice rod/reel combos for as low as $15.  You will find them in about every sporting goods store around here, as well as online from Cabela's or Sportman's Warehouse, in the $15-$40 range.  Ice augers can also be found at the same locations from $30 to $60 for manual augers.  If it's a gas powered auger you are looking for, you will be talking $150 to $500.  If you look around you can also find them for rent here and there.  I know the Otter Creek Marina/Store rents augers for a reasonable price.  I have used a $35 hand auger for years and have had no complaints.  Yes, we may be only to ice fish for a few months out of the year, but I'm telling you that an ice rod/reel combo is a great gift that any guy or gal would appreciate.  Even if it's just a few outings, ice fishing is a blast!  Most of the time it's not as cold as you would think (just avoid the breezy days if you take kids!)  It's a great family outing, take the kids, the sleds, and a thermos of hot chocolate then enjoy the day!

Last year three of us went in together on an Eskimo gas powered auger, and I have to say it was a great investment.  This year I hope to add an Eskimo 4-person shelter and a Humminbird "little buddy" fish locator to my ice fishing arsenal.  I'm hoping the shelter will allow me to take the kids more often!

Good luck, and remember to send us some pictures of your fish this upcoming season!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two must have gifts for under $50 each!

In just over a week from now most of us guys are going to be stretched out somewhere trying to recover from our food comas as our wives gear up for a night out on the town on Black Friday.  I have been getting some great reviews and feedback about the bucks we have had on our blog and I promise there are a lot more big bucks and bulls to come, but with the Christmas season fast approaching I wanted to mix things up and give the girls some helpful ammunition as they search out gifts for us!  Speaking of feedback...yes girls, I will try to give the guys some gift ideas for you as well!  As times are tough these days I have found a few gifts that are great for those of us on a tight budget...but I also have a few favorite items that I think I will have to share as well, so stay tuned over the next few weeks!

Today I want to share with you a couple of my most useful, inexpensive tools I own and use as a hunter.  A few years ago I bought my first "Wyoming Knife", and not long after the "Wyoming Saw."  First, let's talk about the Wyoming Knife. 

The Wyoming Knife is an amazing tool for field dressing an animal, as it opens the animal up like pulling a zipper.  It is by far the fastest knife I have used for performing this task.  A two in one tool, the knife has two blades, one acts as a "gut hook" the other is a skinning blade.  I love the convenient finger loops that allow for a firm, safe hold on the knife.  And for the price, it can't be beat!  With the nylon case that I wear on my belt, the knife normally runs around $20, and I have found them in Sportsman's Warehouse as well as Cabelas.  Currently you can pick them up on sale at the Cabela's website for $14.99!  You can also order replacement blades when needed, and it does come with one extra blade when you buy it.

The Wyoming Saw has been a huge time saver for me when it comes to elk!  I love how well the saw performs, how light it is, it's durability, and how quickly it can be assembled.  The saw comes with 2 blades, a meat blade and a bone blade.  I can't begin to tell you the time difference this makes in quartering an elk versus trying to make it all work with only a knife!  I also use it for butchering at home.  The collapsible saw does come with a carrying case that can attach to your belt, but I find it just a little to long and bulky for that.  However, I carry it in my pack, where it takes up very little room and adds very little weight to the pack.  You can also find the saw at either Cabela's or Sportsman's warehouse at a pretty fairly matched price in either store.  Cabela's website lists the saw at $32.99 with the nylon case.  Also available is the Wyoming Saw II which  features an 18 and 1/2 inch blade versus the 11 inch blade of the regular Wyoming Saw.  The Wyoming Saw II is listed at $42.99 on Cabela's website. 

Both the saw and the knife can be purchased with leather cases for an additional charge.  There are a lot of similar products out there that I have heard great reviews on, for example Gerber makes a field dressing kit complete with gut hook knifes and field saws.  You can find more information on those items at either sporting goods stores mentioned above, as well as Cal Ranch and Ace in Cedar City.  Still, for the price and quality it's a hard product to beat!  My Grandma had me get the set for my Grandpa a couple of years ago and he said it was one of the best gifts he had ever received!

Be sure to check back this week as we talk about some more great gift ideas, and showcase some more bucks and bulls!