Sunday, December 30, 2012

Awesome Hunting and Fishing: From Our Viewers

Hey there friends, we all here at SUH&F hope you are having an awesome New Years weekend! Hopefully for our viewers here in southern Utah, you have seen our posts on the recent fishing conditions and taken advantage of the great weather to get out and enjoy it while it is hot! With temperatures in the teens and single digits in the valleys, most people shudder at the thought of sitting out on a frozen lake freezing all day. You would be surprised how pleasant the conditions actually are during the day. Dress warm, keep dry and you are sure to enjoy the day. Look to a post coming next week where we will demonstrate just how cheap outfitting yourself for ice fishing can be, and just how fun a day on the ice really is. Also, If you haven't seen the updated fishing reports, click on the fishing reports tab at the top of the page to check them out.

A BIG thanks to all of you that have participated in out Vortex riflescope giveaway! If you want to get in on a chance to win the Viper HS scope (a $600 value) check out the details by clicking the contests tab. We are now at 1,000 Facebook likes, and just 500 likes from choosing a winner!

We are also in the works of putting together a video highlighting all of our outdoor adventures, fishing trips, hunts, and viewer submitted photos that we hope to post before New Year's Day. B sure to check back, hopefully we will have it posted within the next 2 days.

Check out these viewer submitted photos! Lets start out with Steven Beckstead, who sends us some updated fishing conditions from yesterday on Otter Creek Reservoir. Steven reported hot fishing from about 8 AM to 1 PM, which is usually fairly typical for Otter Creek as fishing always seems to slow after noon there. Steven reports catching between 25-30 fish between 2 people in about 14 feet of water. Try using light colored tube jigs tipped with nightcrawler or meal worm, and Steven says he was also using some crawfish smelly jelly. The ice is now 5-6" thick, with a light skiff of snow. As usual with OC, when the sun hits the ice it really gets to popping! Steven's photos tell it all, fat rainbows, an he also reports catching a 21-22" cutthroat, and loosing a fish that he figures was pushing 5 pounds!

I have also seen several other photos from Otter Creek this week each with folks holding up stringers full of fish! Fishing pressure has actually been fairly light for the early season. W are going to try to get there next week , hopefully we will still find these amazing conditions and be able to bring home some great photos and video to share!

Our good friend Josh Pollock also has a fe photos to share of his recent hunting trip to southwest Texas. Through a close friend, Josh was able to set up this hunt fairly cheap, where he was able to take his first whitetail buck, a couple of hogs, and an aoudad! Josh tells us that this hunt was the hunt of a lifetime. For $300 Josh was able to purchase a hunting license which came with 5 whitetail tags, 4 turkey tags, 2 mule deer tags, and unlimited tags on exotics, fox, coyotes, hogs, bobcats, etc. So cheap or so many tags, however the real trick of Texas is fringing a place to hunt! Texas has very little public ground, so you really have to find a ranch to hunt on, which can be very expensive. Josh was fortunate to have this hookup through a friend, where he was able to hunt the ranch for less cost than the tag. Looks like an amazing trip Josh, I hope to check Texas off of my list in the future as well!

Thanks to Josh and Steven for sharing their outings with us. Remember, if you have photos you would like to share feel free to email them to us, along with any details you would like to share to suhuntandfish@gmail.com. Also keep in mind that your photos do not need to be of outings in Utah!

One more note, this is my first attempt at creating a blog post on the mobile app. I have no idea how the format will look, bear with me if things seem a little off in this post!



















Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas, Now Have a Happy New Year on Us!

Merry Christmas (a day late) from all of us at SUH&F!

Yeah yeah, we got a little caught up in the craziness of the holiday season, and I totally spaced posting my "Merry Christmas" post this year.  So, from our family to yours, thank you for your continued support of our blog, for your friendship, sponsorships, the many photos, comments, and all that makes this site what it is.  We owe that to you!  

I will say that we had good reason for not posting sooner.  The past few days have been filled with a lot of joy, laughter, and miles on the road for us as we have visited family and friends, as well as enjoyed some quality time together as a family that was long over due.  

To make it up to you, we have another BIG announcement.  I know many of you have probably been checking in here for a couple of days as we have hinted about it on Facebook.  Not only would SUH&F like to wish you a "Happy New Year", but Vortex Optics would like to thank you for your support, and offer you their best wishes for 2013!  Drum roll please!

How about a Vortex Viper HS riflescope?  The Viper HS series is one of the finest in the Vortex line of amazing riflescopes!  This beauty is receiving great reviews from both hunters and shooters in general, as it is equipped with amazing features, rock solid construction, quality, and backed by the unbeatable limited lifetime warranty of Vortex Optics.  This scope built from a solid piece 30mm tube is fogproof, waterproof, shockproof, and armor coated to protect both the body and lenses from the hardest elements mother nature or man can throw at you!  This gem is a nearly $600 value, but for 1 lucky viewer it is going to be yours for free!  

Southern Utah Hunt and Fish and Vortex Optics not only want to wish you the best in the upcoming year, but with the craziness of the firearm market we also want our viewers and fans to know that both SUH&F and Vortex Optics are committed to supporting hunters, shooters, and sportsmen in general in your sporting endeavors!

How the giveaway works: 
Plain and simple, another of our goals is to increase our fan base so that we can continue to bring special events, contests, and promotions to our fans.  One of the best ways to show that is through our Facebook and Twitter followers.  Simply "like" our page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish) OR follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/SU_Hunt_N_Fish), or both!  Additionally, give the boys over at Vortex Optics a like: www.facebook.com/vortexoptics, OR a follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/VortexOptics).  Tell them Southern Utah Hunt and Fish sent ya, and voice your support of Vortex supporting sportsmen everywhere!

Once you have liked or followed the pages, simply visit our "Contests" tab at the top of the blog, and leave a comment on THAT page.  I have changed the comments to allow those not registered as followers, or those without a Google profile to comment.  You will be commenting as an anonymous comment, so be sure to leave your name and where you are from in your comment.  Once we have reached 1,500 likes on Facebook OR 2,000 Twitter followers, we will draw for the scope!

Share the contest on Facebook or on Twitter and your chances will double!  Look for the post on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish and share it with your friends!  Re-tweet any of our posts on Twitter to do the same.

If you don't have a Facebook or Twitter account, you are till OK to enter.  Simply subscribe to the blog by email, look for the link to do so in the right sidebar.

Again, we thank all of you for being the best fans and followers in the business!  Thanks for sharing SUH&F with your friends, and again, for all of your support!  A big thanks again to Vortex, absolutely the best sponsor and optics manufacturer in the business!  

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012-13 Ice Fishing Kickoff!

On Thursday, I saw the news I have been waiting for anxiously for the past couple of months.  While browsing through Facebook I couldn't help but notice my friend Adam Soper had posted photos of ice fishing!  I quickly contacted Adam to get the scoop on conditions.  He replied that Panguitch Lake had 4" of ice and fishing had been amazing that day; nearly 100 fish between 3 people!  I had to do some thinking, 4" is a little sketchy for me, although most die hard ice fishermen I know will tell you 4" is fine.  Still, the lake had open water last week, and even with a few days of sub-zero temperatures I was skeptical.

First step, try to find someone to go with me to ease m concerns!  If I had a partner in crime then surely I had no reason to be chicken of the conditions.  I called my grandpa, Marvin Porter, and after some discussion it was agreed that if fishing was that good we needed to go give it a shot.  I let Adam know that we would be joining them, and next was trying to use a little finesse in convincing my wife that I really needed to go!  I have been talking of ice fishing for months, and I have a feeling she is dreading it, as it is easy to find the time to go with few work commitments this time of year, and it seems like it is no trouble arranging at least an every other week trip.  Maybe it was the fact that I have been home way too much over the past month, but she had no problem with me getting out of the house!

Turning to the weather at about 11 PM that night I was shocked to find a forecast of below zero temperatures that night, with wind chill pushing to near -15!  Daytime temps looked to rebound into the low 20's, however wind chill factors of -7 were still predicted.  It was too late now, and my wife made it clear I would get no sympathy from her as far as my fears of extremely cold weather.  Now I had to go just to prove I was tough!
Gitzit tube jigs

Six AM found us on the road, and just before 8 we had arrived at the lake.  A few fishermen were on the ice, and we found most of the ice covered in a light layer of snow.  I don't know why, but the snow always comforts me.  In ice under 10" thick, having the snow to hide the cracks and all seems to calm my worries.  As we approached, we could see John Harding and Kim Soper pulling out fish already.  We quickly rigged, and in no time at all we were into the fish!  My day started off with a 10" rainbow, met with a lot of laughter as John had just pulled out a 22" cutthroat.  I was hoping that wouldn't be a pattern for the day.  Not at all, as I began to pull out several fish in the 16-20" range.

John had the catch of the day with his 22" cut, and I was fortunate to catch a couple of very fat 18" rainbows that gave me a great fight, and we were able to keep them to take home.  The highlight of the day had to be when Adam  showed up with his son, little Jack Soper.   Jack was able to help dad and Grandpa (Kim) pull in quite a few nice fish.  He gave us a few laughs for sure as we watched the little guy fight the fish.  As for the weather?  Early morning was fairly cold, but the day turned out to be very nice!  Late afternoon a slight wind did kick up that was a bit bitter, but all in all it was a perfect day.

We found success on a variety of jigs, both in color, size, and style.  My best luck was on "Gitzit" tube jigs (3") and white padddle bugs.  Also, I had a good streak on a very small orange jig.  I caught most of my fish on meal worms, and a few of the other guys also had great success tipping jigs with shrimp.  When the fishing was the best, I actually caught several fish without bait on my jig at all.

Early in the morning, we had very fast fishing; so fast that in fact it was almost impossible to fish with 2 poles!  Later in the morning, as noon approached, the fishing slowed considerably but was still fairly good throughout the day.  Everyone did really well.  As for myself, I stopped counting at 15, mostly due to the hectic pace of trying to manage 2 poles during the hot streak, and trying to help others pull fish in.  I did manage to go through an entire container of 30 meal worms, and part way through I began to cut the worms in half!  I'm guessing I was somewhere between 25-30 fish, with several on that I was unable to land.  This was hands down one of my best days of ice fishing!
Paddle Bug jigs

Panguitch Lake is very easy to access in winter, as the paved highway is plowed year-round.  The highway and adjacent North Shore Road provide a very easy access to the lake just less than 100 yards from pavement.  Also, fish tend to cruise shallow here in the winter, for an example we were only in 8 feet of water yesterday.  As fishing pressure increases, fish will scatter to parts of the lake that can be harder to access, and Panguitch Lake can definitely go from hot to cold fishing in a short period of time.  It is very common for the lake to experience a couple of very poor months of fishing mid winter.  The bite can also be very light at this lake!  You really have to pay attention to your line and use some finesse in hooking them at times.  I have also found that quite often the larger fish have the softer bite and can be harder to hook into.

The great thing about Panguitch Lake is that most fish you catch will be fairly nice.  Most of our catches were around 18" and fat, probably weighing 2-3 pounds, with a few pushing 4 pounds.  Panguitch Lake has a slot limit requiring all cutthroat and tiger trout between 14-22" in length to be immediately released.  This has created an abundance of fair sized fish, although you will have to release most of the fish you catch.  When I experience good fishing at this lake I have no trouble supporting the slot limit!  In fact, I wish they would reinstate the same regulations on the rainbows, as we caught very few rainbows at all, and most were smaller fish.

Several other lakes are getting close to being fishable as we speak!  Otter Creek has capped and should be fishable within 2 weeks if it stays cold.  Fish Lake is a little further out this year, but if it stays as it has been the last week, I would expect fishing within 3 weeks, at least on the south end.  Snowfall has restricted access to a lot of higher elevation lakes, but if you have a snowmobile there are plenty of high country waters available to ice fishing.

Check out this short video of a few of the highlights of our day.    



Stay tuned to SUH&F as we will highlight how easy and inexpensive it is to gear yourself for ice fishing!  This is one of our favorite family activities, and though so many people think that you would have to be crazy to bear the winter conditions and sit on a frozen lake to fish, most days are usually very nice and enjoyable.  Thanks again to all that showed up to fish yesterday, as well as those that just stopped by to say hi.  It was good to see so many friends and to share some good times.  Good luck to you all as you hit the ice this year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bucks, Bulls, and Fins Contest: We Have a Winner!

Back near the end of October, Southern Utah Hunt and Fish was very excited to announce it's first ever major contest, a photo contest with the top prize being a sweet pair of Vortex Diamondback 10X42 binoculars.  Over the past month, we received 90 photos from not only all over Utah, but from all around our great nation!  Is there a such thing as a bad outdoor photo?  I think not!  With that being said, our 12 judges had a very difficult task of choosing just 1 winner from that field.  Our first cut took the field from 90 down to 30 finalists.  Over the past week the final judges have sought for that 1 picture that would be crowned our champion. 

 Wouldn't you know it, the judging became extremely difficult when it came down to the final 30.  When all was said and done we had a very obvious top 10 that was very consistent with all of our judges.  When it came to our top 3 the running was extremely close.  The top 2, well, this came down to 1 judges vote as the rest were split between 2 photos.  Take a look at our top 10!

#10:  Mat Houston Book Cliffs Bucks

 Mat and his dad Randy took these fine bucks with rifles this year.  A couple of toads for sure, the boys send this shot all loaded up to head home with their trophies and memories.

#9:  Clint Porter 2012 Rifle Bull Elk

 Clint's dad Vergean drew a rifle bull elk tag at 85 years old!  Joined by sons Clint and Kevin, great-grandson Jaxon, and cousin Jason, Vergean harvested this great bull on the last day.

#8:  Steve Barker, a Great Catch!

 Steve Barker shared this photo of his son showing off his catch of the day.  That smile says it all!

#7:  Mike Marshall Brown Trout

 Mike pulled in this monster brown trout early in the summer of 2012.  What a catch!

#6:  Porter Evans 2012 Rifle Buck

 His first mule deer buck, Porter took this monster 29" beauty with a rifle this October

#5:  Ryan Dastup, the Snowman!

 This photo spells it out plainly, it is all about the dedication and hard work it takes to make a hunt successful.  After a rough start to the hunt, Ryan stuck with it and got his spike elk, even though the weather became very adverse.  Way to go Ryan!

#4:  Andy Black, 2012 Rifle Buck

 Andy Black took this 29 1/2" beast with his rifle this year.  Deep forks and lots of character round out what makes this an all around excellent buck!

#3:  Mark Mossman, High Country Utah Bull

 Mark Mossman captured this close up of this amazing bull.  This picture really won over our judges with not only the size of the bull, but the beauty of the backdrop.  Nice shot Mark.

#2:  David Barnhurst 2012 Buck

 With one "pig" of a buck, and an amazing backdrop to set the scene, our judges were quick to point out this incredible photo as a potential champion all the way through the contest.  1 point shy of a win, we are going to do our best to hook David up with a consolation prize!

#1:  Our Winner is...Brad Nielson, Monster Lake Trout!

 
 In the end, our judges went with "fins" as our contest winner.  When the contest started, our judges were being drawn to pictures of big bulls and bucks, however when this late comer entered the contest with just a couple of days to spare, it really turned our judges heads.  Brad sent 5 amazing photos of lakers over 20 pounds that were landed within just an hour.  Two of these photos made our top 10, both receiving votes within the top 5.  The judges felt it fairest to choose 1 of the 2 for final voting, and by 1 vote chose this photo as our winner.  A stunning catch against an incredible mountain backdrop, accompanied with the dedication of being on the water in very cold conditions, Brad, we have to say you earned this one for sure.  Congratulations Brad!

Be sure to email us with your address, and Vortex will get those binoculars right out to you!  Be sure to get out and use them, and drop us a line telling us what you think of the Vortex binos.

A HUGE thanks to all who entered!  This has been so fun to do, watching the photos roll in, seeing our viewers liking their favorites on Facebook, and giving away some great gear along the way!  A big thanks to Vortex, without the support of great sponsors none of this would be possible.  Also, we need to thank Shed Inc for joining in on the fun with their great gear.  And thanks to the fans and followers, Southern Utah Hunt and Fish has had amazing success in our first year thanks to YOU!  We hope the winners all enjoy the gear they have won, and keep an eye on things as we are just getting started!

I wish we could give something to each of our participants, we had some truly great photos!  Do me a favor and leave a comment here or on Facebook for our participants!  Let these guys and ladies know just how much you liked their photos.  We look forward to making this an annual event, with more prizes to give out next year.  So get your cameras rolling in 2013!  Remember, it doesn't have to be a harvested trophy, SUH&F is all about the experience of the outdoors in every way.  Thanks again to all of your support!


And just a hit, our next great prize to giveaway is here, and we will be starting a new contest very soon!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Guest Blog: Hearing Protection During the Big Hunt

About a week ago John O'Connor, a fellow blogger, contacted me about sharing a post on hearing loss here on SUH&F.  This is kind of a new direction for us, going down a road we have never been down here, but I think you will find this post very useful and informative.  In fact, after reading this article I have the desire to write more posts on health, physical conditioning, and even a bit of nutrition when it comes to being in the outdoors.  This is a great post, and really hits home to me as I know several individuals close to me that struggle with hearing loss.  Just to clarify to my wife, this does not apply to my "selective hearing", as she knows I wear hearing protection when I shoot, so this information probably won't help much around the house! 

I would like to thank John for the post!  Enjoy.


Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!



Hearing Protection During the Big Hunt

The fall season means a lot of different things for a lot of different people.  However, most people will agree that for the avid outdoorsman, fall means hunting season.  Hunters get very anxious when the leaves begin to change colors, the air becomes a little cooler, and all of the sporting goods shops have all of the latest gear for them to use on their hunting trips.  As they head to these shops and begin to purchase their hunting gear, few hunters remember to purchase hearing protection.  They often remember to buy their new guns, ammunition and camouflage but hearing protection is often thrown on the back burner.  As a hunter, it is our job to consistently remember to not only have our hearing devices with us while hunting but also to always have it on.

To stress how important hearing protection really is, my father who was a hunter for many years and a frequent goer to the shooting range, often did not pay much attention at all to his hearing while shooting his guns.  Now many years later he is paying the price for his actions.  Affected severely by hearing loss, he wears a hearing aid in each ear to amplify sounds around him.  Although not the only cause of his hearing loss, his doctor did say that hunting played a major role in his decreased levels of hearing.  Even in his 70’s he still likes to get out and practice with his guns, but he always makes sure that he has his hearing aids in and hearing protection on to ensure proper protection.

If there is one thing that will make a hunting trip successful, that one thing is being able to hear the sounds of the animals.  Not only does a hunter need to hear the sounds of the animals, but he or she will also need to hear other hunters or other vehicles that are nearby.  If hearing protection is not worn during a hunt, the hunter risks damaging their ears and eventually not being able to hear these things. A gun produces a gunshot with a decibel of at least 140.  Most experts note that anything over 85 dB will significantly damage someone’s hearing.

It does not require changes in someone’s usual hunting routines for him or her to protect his or her hearing.  The easiest thing for these hunters to do is wear hearing protection.  Hearing protection for a hunting trip will consist of earplugs, earmuffs, or electronic earmuffs.  The earplugs can be worn alone or in conjunction with the earmuffs and electronic earmuffs.  The type of hearing protection device the hunter chooses to wear depends on the hunter’s preference; however, experts recommend that hunters wear both earplugs and earmuffs to reduce the chances of hearing damage.  Experts also recommend that everyone on the hunting trip wear hearing protection as well. 

Hunters should not worry about not being able to hear the game if they are wearing hearing protection.  Certain hearing protection devices have been designed to allow hunters to hear their game and others around them and protect their hearing from the sound of gunfire at the same time.  Specifically electronic earmuffs allow sounds in up to 80 dB and cancel out any sounds that exceed this level. 

All hunters should make the mart decision and invest in hearing protection devices.  If not, they risk the chances of losing their hearing for the future. 



Friday, December 14, 2012

Kim Veater; Henry Mountains Bison Hunt

Happy Friday everyone!  We have a treat for you for the weekend.  I have often said that our best posts on this blog have come from viewer's stories they have submitted about their hunts.  Today's post proves my point as Kim Veater, of Kanab, Utah shares, in her own words, the experience of her first ever bison hunt.  This is hands down one of the best hunting stories I have read, as it portrays a lot of Kim's hard work, emotions (both highs and lows), and the success that comes with dedication and perseverance.  I would like to thanks Kim and Dave Veater for sharing this story with us, and congratulation on a successful hunt, and a great bison! 

 Kim Veater:

The end of October I received a letter in the mail addressed to me from the Wildlife Administration.  I was a little confused as to what it would be and was shocked to find out that I had drawn an extra tag for cow bison on the Henry Mountains   They had added a bunch of extra tags after the herd numbers were higher than target, and because it was a different situation than the regular draw I had the option to turn back the tag without losing my points.  My husband, Dave, and I debated back and forth all weekend before finally deciding to call Monday morning and take the tag.  Arrangements were made for our moms to watch our 3 kids, and pretty soon we had a pretty good group of people volunteering to come with us.  Apparently a family member with a bison tag is as good an excuse as any to take off work and go to the Henry Mountains!

Dave went up a few days early to scout out the area as my dad was the only one of our group who had been there before, and that had been many years ago.  My dad, Dave's dad, a brother, an uncle, and a cousin all made the long journey to meet up with Dave the day before the hunt.  Dave hadn't seen any bison yet, but he was excited to show us the area and some of the big bucks he had seen.  We had heard from quite a few people who had been out looking at deer the weekend before that they had seen bison, so we knew they were around.  What we didn't realize before we got there was just how HUGE that area is.  We went back to camp and made a plan for the next morning.  

We split up the next morning to cover the most ground with the idea that we would try to find good places to set up spotting scopes or sit with binoculars and glass.  Dave and I hiked out onto a reseed, and not 5 minutes after he had gotten his spotting scope set up he started to squeal.  I know he won't appreciate me saying that, but there's no other way to describe it.  He was so excited.  He had seen a small herd of 3 bison in an area that seemed incredibly far away to me.  We rounded up the other guys and headed that way.  After hiking up a big ridge we expected to see them but were disappointed   We did, however, find their tracks, and Dave, his brother, and I took off after them.  We hiked in a drainage for what seemed like hours, and every time we came to the top of a small ridge we hiked as quietly as we could expecting to come up on them only to find...nothing.  We hiked that drainage for about 3 miles before the tracks hit a dirt road and got mixed in with tracks from domestic cows, and we lost the trail.  I was so disappointed!  We met up with the rest of the group and headed back to camp.  After a long fourwheeler ride later that day I was exhausted and defeated.  Dave could tell and told me to hang out in the trailer and "be a girl" for a minute.  I hate to say that I cried, but I was so frustrated and ready to give up after the first day that I was a "girl" and cried for a second before heading to bed early.  

We didn't see any bison the next day, but we did see a few nice bucks, and after spending the afternoon just hanging out and relaxing under a tree with Dave and his brother and cousin, I was beginning to have a better attitude.  The bucks were absolutely incredible  and I decided that if all we saw the rest of the trip were nice bucks that I would be okay with that.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, but that didn't mean I was going to get a bison so I might as well enjoy the "hunt" itself.

The third morning we split up again to put eyes on as much ground as possible.  Dave and I began our hike out onto the reseed where he had seen the bison from the first day when we heard his cousin on the radio.  Dave answered him and after a brief and somewhat cryptic exchange, we knew he had seen something and headed back to where he and Dave's uncle were.  Sure enough, once we got there they told us how they had been standing up on a point not seeing much and messing around when all of a sudden Dave's cousin saw a herd of bison with his naked eye.  They kept an eye on them, and pretty soon Dave, his cousin, and I were bailing off the side of the lookout spot after them.  It was a horrible hike slipping and sliding down loose rock until we finally got up to the spot where the bison had last been seen.  We hiked a few yards more when all of a sudden I saw movement through the trees!  I had never actually seen the bison the first day so I was kind of freaking out!  We were unable to get a good shot because of the thick trees we were in, and there was no way we would be able to pick out a cow from the herd, so we took off after them.  Those things can MOVE!  We got to a spot where they had bailed off down a hill and when we looked up we could see them hitting a reseed.  They might as well have been in another state as far away as they looked to me.  I sat down and gave up.  I had just hiked down this horrible mountain and now the bison were in the middle of an open reseed in an area where I was sure other hunters would see and get to them first.  I underestimated Dave though, and pretty soon he and I took off after them again while his cousin went up to help us watch where they went.  I kept my eyes on Dave's boots so I couldn't see how far we still had to go and just pushed as hard as I could.  I had adrenaline from seeing them plus the possibility of someone else getting to them first, and somehow I was able to keep up, and we did our best to catch up to the herd.  
 
As we were hiking we heard a shot.  My heart absolutely sunk.  Dave stopped for just a second and then kept moving.  I'm pretty sure he had caught on that I was ready to give up and didn't want me to sit down again!  We moved on and heard another shot.  This time tears came to my eyes.  I was so done.  We heard over the radios that it was a different cousin's wife who also had the same tag who had shot.  The bison had been coming toward them and turned after the shots, but they were still in the area, so on we went.  Eventually we made it to the reseeds and listened to our "eyes in the sky" try to help us know where the bison were heading.  I was amazed at how Dave knew which way to go.  By this time I was exhausted and tripping and stumbling as I tried to keep up, and then there they were!  There wasn't a good dead rest close by so I laid down and tried to get a shot, but I couldn't see them through the scope before they were gone.  We jumped up and were off again.  I had tears in my eyes from being so close and so tired and was frantically trying to wipe them away so I could see if I was able to get a shot.  We went through some trees and spotted them again.  I got a dead rest on a tree branch, and we watched them go through a small wash.  They all looked like bulls, and even though they weren't running they were moving fast enough that we weren't ever able to get a good shot.  We took off, AGAIN.  Finally we came up over a small rise, and there they were.  My initial reaction was to tell Dave to get down because they were standing 50 yards away from us, but they didn't seem to notice.  Dave told me where to sit, and I got down and got comfortable.  He told me he thought the last one in the herd was a cow.  I looked through the scope and agreed, except her horns looked more like a bull's to me.  Dave felt confident she was a cow, so I took one last look and pulled the trigger.  
 

I don't remember what happened next very clearly.  By the time I looked up they were gone.  We heard some yelling, and Dave thought it was his dad saying, "She's down!"  Dave asked me if the cow bison had humps.  The cows don't really have humps.  I burst into tears.  I cried because I was SO ready to be done chasing them and relieved and shocked I had gotten a shot and scared that I had shot a bull.  We waited a couple minutes and then made our way to where the bison had gone down.  Dave told me to wait as he walked around to see if it was a bull or a cow - a cow!  I had hit her pretty much where we had practiced, and she hadn't gone far before she went down.  We were ecstatic!  Soon the rest of our group met up with us.  The best part about where we ended up finally getting the cow was that almost everyone who had come on the hunt to help was able to see her go down (with the exception of Dave's cousin who was the one who initially spotted them for me!).  Being able to share that experience with those guys was one of the best moments of my life, especially to have my dad there who had always wanted to do that hunt himself.

I owe everything about that hunt to those guys.  I may have pulled the trigger, but they were the ones who did all the "heavy lifting," literally!  Without their help we may have still found the herd after we lost them that morning, but I'm positive it would have been a much longer hike!  I am also still in awe of how far Dave pushed me.  I'm more impressed with how I hiked than the fact that I made a 50-yard shot!  I also am impressed with his trust in me.  We had practiced shooting so much together in the past month that I was comfortable with the gun, and he knew I would put the shot where it needed to go.  I'm a pretty independent girl for the most part, so to know that he wouldn't think of taking the gun and taking the shot himself is pretty awesome.  I couldn't have asked for a better guide.  How many people can say they were able to get a shot at a bison at 50 yards?   It is incredible to think that I have done something that very few people will ever do, and I'm pretty excited to see how she tastes. :)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bucks, Bulls, and Fins Conest Finalists

David Barnhurst's 2012 buck
Well my friends, we are 1 step closer to finding a winner to our Bucks, Bulls, and Fins photo contest!  It has not been an easy road by any means!  Our judges for round 1 were given 90 amazing photos that capture everything we love about the outdoors; tradition, hard work and sacrifice, the beauty of the outdoors, the thrill of the chase, family, adventure, and the joy of celebrating the taking of a trophy!  Over the month of the contest, we had to keep expanding our theme to cover the outdoors in general, feathers, and fur!  And what great results.  We have a wide variety of trophy whitetail, mule deer, elk, ducks, bear, fish, and even a badger!  In addition, we have several photos of what we love to see most here, families enjoying the outdoors together.  We also had several young men and women with their first bucks, and more seasoned hunters bringing in the trophies they have waited for so long to harvest.  A big thanks to you all for entering!  I wish we could give all of you who entered a prize, all of the photos are worthy of that recognition.  It was no easy task for our judges, but I am pleased to say that our 6 judges were very consistent in choosing nearly the same 30 photos in all of their selections.

Steve Barker's 2012 pronghorn
Our 30 finalists, 1/3 of the entries, are now found in their own photo album on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish.  Be sure to check out the album to see if yours made the cut!  As well, keep scrolling down as we highlight a few of those finalists, particularly those later entries that have not appeared on the blog yet.

Now, the remaining 30 will be sent on to our last round of judges, and as good as these photos are, I don't envy their job at all!  Please be patient as we complete this last round, but that being said we hope to have our winner selected by mid week next week.

Andy Black's 2012 rifle buck

Now, enjoy these few photos, and be sure to peek at the album on Facebook to see who remains in the competition.  Also, stay tuned to SUH&F as we have great things in store this week!  We have a couple of great guest posts appearing, started off by Kim Veater's 2012 Henry Mountain bison hunt, a great piece about hearing protection and safety, as well as a couple of great products I wish to share with you that I have reviewed lately.  Also, if you haven't seen the previous post to this one, check out a few great ideas that my wife has shared from her wish list that the outdoors women in your life would love for Christmas.


 And on that note, Merry Christmas to all of you!  The weather has been great, get out and enjoy the outdoors while you can!


Commitment= Ryan Dastrup!
Clayton Carter, 2012 Nebraska Whitetail
Sam Marshall 2012 late season bull
Mat and Randy Houston, rifle bucks

Brad Neilson, amazing Lake trout!
Kaitlin Torgersen





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Gifts for Her

Alright guys, it's December 11th, it's crunch time.  The ladies probably have all of their Christmas shopping done by now, and here we are with just a few days left trying desperately to find something special for the lady on the list.  Well, the good news is it's not too late!  The 15th seems to be the deadline for a lot of retailers, and the great news is that many retailers offer free shipping and great specials in the one last push to clear inventories before the big day.  If you do find yourself reading this after the 15th, don't give up!  It may cost a few bucks extra, but I know from experience that if you order on the 20th it is possible to get it here by Christmas Eve.  That being said, don't chance it!

So, what do you get the outdoor loving ladies in your life?  I have struggled every year with this one as I shop for my wife, trying to find her something out of the ordinary, something geared towards the outdoors.  I'm finding that this is getting easier every year guys.  It has taken outdoor retailers a few years to catch on, but you can now find great, trendy gifts for the ladies that are outdoor oriented, and that they will love.  So, my wife has been very gracious to do some Internet browsing to find a few items that she would like on her list, that the ladies will love.  Too bad my shopping was already done, but there is always next year.  I'm pretty excited with her choices, you will find that these are items that the guys like as well, in men's styles of course.  So take notes boys!

Kings Camo:  Kings has long been my favorite camo maker.  Problem was for many years you could only find the camo for the guys.  Over the past couple of years, Kings has added a large selection for the ladies to their product line,  from pants, fleece sweaters, and even the new Xtreme Kings Gear Ladies XKG jacket which is waterproof, breathable, and durable.  Kings also features a sleepwear line, and a casual line.  Check out the complete ladies line at http://shop.kingsoutdoorworld.com/Ladies-Clothing_c_2.html
You will find basic camo for the ladies starting around $50, with the stylish XKG jacket coming in around $130.  Kings is having some great sales right now for the guys and girls.

Girls With Guns Apparel:  We stumbled onto Girls with Guns this summer, a very unique site that is geared 100% to the ladies that love the outdoors.  GWG offers several styles of tank tops, shirts, sweaters, bottoms, swimwear, hats, and accessories that are very stylish and make a statement that your girl isn't just a girly girl.  Dayna says she really likes their long sleeved shirt options and styles.  With tank tops starting at about $20, and shirts ranging in price from $20-$40 you are sure to find that 1 item (or a few) that your girl will love.  http://www.gwgclothing.com/
 



CamoSKINZ/Muddy Girl Camouflage:  This is one of those items that I like just as much as she will.  Personalizing firearms has become a big trend over the last few years.  In fact, I would like to get a camo skin to place over my old Mossberg shotgun, to protect it, as well as to add to the looks of the gun.  Moonshine Attitude Attire came out with their "Muddy Girl Camouflage" a couple of years ago and it has spread like wildfire in popularity among female shooters.  I have to admit, I like the pattern a lot myself, and would really like to outfit one of my wife's guns with it.  While it may be a more difficult process to coat a handgun or rifle, CamoSKINZ offers camo wrap kits for shotguns that are cheap ($25.00) and easy to apply.  The kit will work on any make and model of pump or automatic shotgun.  They have several patterns, including the Muddy Girl camo.  If you are looking to have a handgun or rifle coated, it will be more costly, between $100-$300 and you will need to visit the Moonshine Attitude Attire site for information on the nearest specialist that can coat the gun for you.  Moonshine also offers unique outdoor attire for the ladies.



Hiking and Hunting Boots:  This is always a great idea for the ladies, and again another item that has finally started to be produced specifically for ladies.  For a long time the girls had to tough it out with men's hunting boots.  Now, several manufacturers have styles and fit for the girls.  Here's a couple of boots that Dayna really likes:

Columbia Mid Shasta Ridge Omni-Tech Waterproof Hiking Shoes:  My wife has been looking for just a good all around hiking shoe to wear while hiking the slickrock canyon country near our home, as well as during shed hunting season on the mountain.  This is a great looking hiking shoe, in a mid model to provide a little added ankle support in rough terrain.  Waterproofing is always a plus, and the style is a little more easy on the eyes that a lot of traditional hiking shoes.  Columbia is a great quality shoe, and I found them at Bass Pro Shops at a good price of $104.99.

SHE Cami 9" Insulated Waterproof Hunting Hikers:  When it comes to hunting Dayna wants to cash in the pinks of her hiking shoes for traditional camo, while still having a bit of the ladylike flair.  The SHE Cami boot is just the boot.  Insulated for the cold weather of a hunt, 9" tops for added ankle support, comfort, and warmth, as well as an aggressive lugged rubber outsole, these camo boots are perfect for her comfort and safety while on the hunt.  Not a bad price again through Bass Pro Shops at $119.99.

Under Armour Ayton Jacket:  Dayna loves the look of this camo jacket, and I have to say I would like to see it on her, he he!  It is easy to see outdoor clothing makers are becoming more detail oriented to how the apparel looks on women.  This jacket has a very flattering fit, with a bit of pink flair to highlight the girly side of it.  As always with Under Armour products, super quiet fabric which is insulated for cold weather, durable, with a great look.  This jacket checks out on Bass Pro Shops for $129.99.




Prois Generation X Jacket:  You boys might want to highlight this one.  Not only was this the first item to really grab Dayna's attention, but I have also seen a lot of female bloggers that I follow talking about this one.  This jacket is geared a little more towards a bit more cold weather, more so than the Under Armour Ayton jacket we just talked about.  This jacket is insulated, waterproof, and comes with a hood.  Again, style is key here, and I think this jacket would look just as good as the Under Armour Ayton, with an added lumbar compartment across the lower back, and the waterproofing that gear this item more towards hunting functionality than just style.  A bit more pricey, but worth it in my opinion, this jacket checks in at $199.99 at Bass Pro Shops.

Casual Sweaters:  I wanted to cap our list off by going back to a few cheaper items that the ladies will love for sure.  These might be items not only for your wife, but maybe a daughter, aunt, girlfriend, and so on. 

Cabela's Sweaters:  I've always liked the look of Cabela's sweaters for the guys, and I'm glad to see they are now getting some great styles for the ladies.  Cabela's offers 2 styles of sweaters, "campus" and "varsity" style printing.  Both sweaters are hooded, and both come in a variety of color options and camo patterns.  There is also a zippered style available.  These sweaters will look great on your girl, and range in price from $29.99-39.99.
 
Browning Sweaters:  The Browning logo has to be one of the most famous logos in circulation when it comes to the outdoors.  That simple whitetail bust has been a time honored emblem of quality, tradition, and commitment to shooting and the outdoors.  Browning now has a ladies line of sweaters, nothing super fancy, just the old whitetail bust in a variety of colors matched to sweater colors and styles that conform to the style the ladies are looking for.  These sweaters were a little more pricey on Cabela's, coming in at $49.00.  If you can swing it I think it's well worth it, as your lady will make a statement for sure in this fine sweater.






Alright boys, no more excuses!  We've found some great options that she will love, by a huntress, for a huntress, or maybe just the girl that likes the outdoors a bit, but not enough to sport the camo and mud everywhere she goes.  We really hope this helps you in your last minute shopping!  Remember, these may not be the best prices out there.  I often find my best deals though Google, or by searching on Amazon.  Good luck, and Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Home from the Caribbean, and Back in the Saddle.

Hey there friends, it's good to be back home, and back to writing again!  My wife and I just returned yesterday from a week long vacation cruising the western Caribbean.  It was so nice to get away for our 10 year anniversary, and to see a new place in the world.  I do however apologize that you have not seen any new material on here during that time.  We plan on making that up to you over the next couple of weeks!

This is a little off topic as far as hunting, fishing, and Utah outdoors goes, but I want to share a bit of our vacation with you.  The main reason being is that I can't believe that it took me so long to go on a vacation like this.  As I have mulled that thought over so many times in my mind, I realize it is because of 2 things; worry of the cost, and worry of the difficulty of arranging a trip like this.  As I have talked to so many others I realize I am not alone in those to concerns.  I regret not doing this sooner, and want to encourage our viewers to see that it really isn't all that hard to do, and the world is an amazing place to get out and enjoy.  I love Utah, but there's so many other outdoor adventures out there to be enjoyed.

New Orleans
Our "arranging" for our trip started back in July/August.  This is when we first started talking about going, and looking into the ins and outs of it all.

Getting Started:  Getting the ball rolling was tough.  I have a fear that I easily get screwed on price on every costly thing I get involved in.  So, there was the constant feeling in the back of my mind that we would pay, then find out down the road there was a better way to do things.  It seems people always find better deals than I can.  We started by looking directly at cruise line sites.  Step 1 was finding a date range that worked, which was easy enough.  Step 2, finding the best deal.  It was easy to see an inside cabin without the window option was going to be the most cheap way to go, but no big deal.  Still, we worried about getting a deal that was good.  We went to a travel agent next, just to compare.  I was surprised to find the travel agent holding the same price as the ship.  I fully expected a travel agent to charge more, and had no idea that the person booking a trip doesn't usually pay the travel agent extra.  The resorts and ships pay that fee for getting them the business!
Great plane!  Did they know I was coming?

 Airlines:  The next hurdle was the airfare. I always feel like I get taken to the cleaners on airfare!  Of course to save costs we started with red eye flights.  I just couldn't seem to find the cheap rates I hear everyone talk about through any airline, Priceline, Expedia, you name it.  So, back to the travel agent.  We were hooked up with flights at very reasonable times, not bad layovers, everything just lined up at cheap rates.  Things were looking up!  We adjusted our flights and cruise itself to allow us to fly into New Orleans, and take a 5 day cruise of the Western Caribbean.  Flying to New Orleans saved considerably vs. flying to Florida to cruise to the same destinations.



Shore Excursions:  This is one area where the travel agent didn't seem to help a lot.  You can book your shore excursions through travel agents, or directly through the cruise ship.  I didn't care for the prices on the ship, or through the agent.  Our 2 stops were Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.  Progreso was tough, there was very little out there we could find for shore excursions at good prices, so we opted for a Mayan Ruins/Beach Resort combo through the cruise line booking. 



My barracuda.  Not a huge one, but cool for sure
However, for Cozumel where we wanted to get in on deep sea fishing, I simply found a way cheaper deal through a company there that is very good about honoring cruise ship arrival and departure times, but does not work directly with the ship.  Fishing wasn't the best that day, but the process was smooth, our guides spoke great English, and took care of us.  There were many more options other than fishing through cheaper means in Cozumel, and there is a lot to do in Cozumel for sure!  Also, there were several options in Progreso that involved touring Mayan ruins.  We opted for a tour that was closer (shorter bus ride) and allowed you to actually walk around on and in the ruins.  Again, do your homework here!  I simply used Google with the topic of "Progreso shore excursions" to find reviews on several tours, and found a lot of good about this one.  We were very pleased with the choice.  Again, the guides spoke very good English, and were very friendly.

On the Ship:  One great thing about a cruise ship is that you will be forced to relax!  Everywhere you turn people are there to take care of you.  The couple of days at see offer everything you need, from pool fun, sports, a spa, entertainment, and great food to take care of your troubles.  Food is covered in your booking, just be prepared to pay extra for soda pop, alcohol, shopping, and the spa.  This is where a cruise ship will get you, these things are not cheap at all.  But for us, we just enjoyed the food, entertainment, scenery, sun, and water, and did quite all right without the extras.  We even brought our own sodas on board to avoid the high prices for pop.  The highlights on the ship for us were the sun and water of course, entertainment (comedy acts, singing, dancing, etc.), friendly staff, and the relaxation.

 Although it was a 5 day cruise, our vacation actually lasted a full week, with a night prior to sailing in New Orleans, and a night after in Las Vegas.  And what were the damages?  For the 5 day cruise it was about $700 total for us as a couple.  Round-trip airfare came in at $240 for each of us, so just shy of $1200 for the trip.  That's really not too bad when you think about a week long vacation, and it really wasn't as difficult to save up the $$$ for it as I thought it would be.  $100 per month gets you there in a year.  Of course, I have to say that wasn't our final cost.

Shopping in Cozumel
Things to Keep in Mind:  I thought we could keep the trip close to only the travel costs, but I didn't do my research!  You should do yours before you go!  New Orleans is a very pricey city!  The 1 night in a hotel and for dinner was more than I expected.  We scored big in Vegas with cheap rooms that were very nice (The Orleans Hotel/Casino) and this was even during the National Finals Rodeo.  Still, before you go think about the cost of gas to the airport, additional lodging for the trip, taxis, tips, food, souvenirs, and extras on the ship.  I can tell you I should have looked at the price of New Orleans more.  The short ride to the hotel was $60 for 4 of us together, and there are few motels near the port that offer a shuttle.  Everyone has making money there figured out quite well.

Alternatives:  I would suggest starting small with the cruise experience before hitting up one like we did.  San Diego, California is just a few hours from us, and offers a 3 day cruise, as well as a 5 day down the Baja Mexico coast.  I think it would have better prepared us for what to expect on our cruise.  You will also find that there are many options to get you to where you want to go.  In addition to several cruise lines, you will also find a variety of ports that will get you access to where you want to go.  For example, if you want to cruise to Cozumel, you can get there from New Orleans, Mobile Alabama, Orlando Florida, and Miami.  As well you will find cruises of differing durations to fit your budget.  So, do your research!  Maybe if I would have paid just a little extra to fly to Florida I would have paid less for some of the more expensive services that I had to pay for in New Orleans.  However, we enjoyed the time in New Orleans, as the culture there is an experience in itself.  Google is an amazing tool!  Get on there and find reviews, suggestions, and info to enhance your trip.

Also, what are you going for?  If you just want the relaxation of a cruise then your work is easy.  In hind sight, we realized we wanted to spend more time in Cozumel, and there were other activities we wanted to check out there.  We probably should have looked into just going there for a couple of days.  Not a regret, the cruise was amazing, but there is so much to do in the ports you stop in, if you are more of an active person when it comes to vacationing, you will be longing for more when you sail away from those stops.  Cruises are for relaxing, with some adventure mixed in here and there.  Keep that in mind.

When all was said and done, we had no trouble staying within our budget, and I don't feel like it was at any sacrifice of having fun.  We did what we wanted and had money to spare.  Well, I'm sure Dayna could have kept shopping in Cozumel, but we only had so much room for stuff!

Do yourself a favor and book months in advance.  We did notice that as we procrastinated our rates on the cruise went up just a bit week by week as the date came closer.  4-6 months in advance should be good enough to lock in a good deal.

I hope you find this helpful.  There are great deals out there, and it's not hard to find.  If I can do it, you can for sure!  There's so many amazing sites to see out there in the world, don't hold off and wait until it is too late!