Monday, January 30, 2012

Pancakes Sticking?

Here we are at the end of January, which of course for most of us in the mountains of the west could mean another 3 months of winter, but I am already thinking of camping!  When thinking of camping I believe one of the things we enjoy most of all is the food!  I think I eat better at camp than I do at home a lot of the time.  Breakfast is my favorite camp meal; bacon, eggs, sausage, dutch oven potatoes, and of course, pancakes.  However, pancakes can very often be so frustrating to cook that I just won't cook them.  It never fails that when cooking them on my Camp Chef cast iron griddle they will stick, burn, fall apart, or just not taste the best.  This all changed last year during an elk hunt where I learned a trick that I would have never believed had I not seen it with my own eyes.  So, can you tell me what relation a potato might have with a pancake?  I bet it's not in the way you might think!  Watch the video to learn how a simple potato might be the big difference in giving you great pancakes that never stick to the griddle!

I also wanted to share with you a great recipe for pancakes.  These are very easy to make, and they taste great!  This recipe has been passed down from my great-grandmother Maralda Porter, and we use them in our home almost every weekend.  Maralda loved to cook!  Several of her recipes have ended up in cookbooks throughout the community of Escalante, Utah.  I think it would bring a big smile to her face to know she was able to share one of her recipes with others again.

Maralda's Pancakes:

2 cups of flour
2 cups of milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sift the dry ingredients together, then mix in the wet ingredients.  Stir together until most of the lumps come out (some will not come out and that is OK.)  We cook them on a griddle at home turned up to 400 degrees.   On the Camp Chef I use medium low heat, and usually drop a small one on the griddle to test the heat before I begin.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fishing Reports, 1/27/11


The blog is getting around 150 views a day now, and although I understand all of the viewers are not from the area, I know most of you are, and you have been out fishing.  Please email me a short report of conditions where you have been fishing!  I'm not looking for secrets to share, over all I would just like to report on how fishing is, and access.  If you want to keep your spot, technique, or fishing setup a secret that is totally fine.  Also, if you have pics to share please feel free to send them in as well.  I would love to add them to our bragging board.  I am really interested in pictures of kids out fishing.  Please share the success of fishing with your kids so we can get more families involved in the fun of the outdoors.  You don't have to be from Utah, or it doesn't have to be in Utah to share!  A big thanks to those that have been contributing to these reports as well!

Here we are nearly at the end of January already, and safe ice now covers most trout waters in southern Utah.  However, the typical January ice fishing patterns seem to be setting in on us!  Many reports from various waters are sounding out what anglers don't want to hear, especially with ice coming on some lakes late this year!  Slow fishing conditions have been reported at most southern Utah waters.  Don't let that discourage you from getting out on the ice though!  A lot of times conditions vary greatly from day to do.  I still hear reports of very good fishing outings here and there, and some good fish being caught as well! 

One last note before I get to the reports, don't forget the 2nd annual Wildland Firefighter Foundation Ice Fishing Derby being held at Panguitch Lake next Saturday, February 4th.  Registration is now full, but don't let that get you down if you haven't registered.  Come out for good food, fun, and feel free to make a donation to the fund for families of fallen wildland firefighters, which will enable you to enter the raffle for many great outdoor prizes!  The fun begins at the North Shore boat ramp at 8:00 AM.  See you there!

Panguitch Lake:  Anglers continue to report very slow fishing conditions, which is very common for the lake in late January, but seems to be worse this year due to low water levels and heavy fishing pressure.  Most reports describe long days with few bites and few fish.  Reports of success now seem to be few and far between.  Get away from the crowds, and don't count out the middle of the lake!  I was nearly to the middle a few weeks ago and only in 12 feet of water.  Keep moving and trying different jigs/baits until you find something that works.  The bite is usually very light here, and active jigging usually provides worse results.  The few good reports come from using light colored jigs in about 10 feet of water, fishing about 2 reels off of the bottom, and occasionally a fish coming from 2 feet under the ice.

Minersville Reservoir:  The lake now has safe ice for the most part, however some areas are still fairly thin.  The shoreline is often troublesome as the lake is rising.  Fishing has been slow, but the fish being caught are healthy and of good size.  Be cautious on the ice as it never seems to stay long at this lake!

Otter Creek:  The lake is still covered with about 14 inches of solid ice, but use caution on the shoreline as it gets soft in the afternoons.  Driving by yesterday, small pockets of open water were visible along many of the rocky points.  Fishing has been fair, the best reports coming from the north end and east side of the lake.  Night crawlers, meal worms, and shrimp have all been paying off.  Some days are very slow, move around until you find some activity.  Quite often fishing is fast from daylight until about noon, then really dies in the afternoon.  Fish are fat and healthy!  Yesterday the snow had melted on the ice, and puddles were visible.  Be careful, it looks pretty slick!

Fish Lake:  Fishing remains fair at the lake, some days are still very hot!  If you want to get your kids into some fast fishing, get them out on the weed-line, in about 10-15 feet of water.  Yesterday two of us caught a dozen perch in about 20 minutes, and I heard a report of a guy catching 37 perch the day before!  About any smaller jig will work, tipped with meal worm or perch meat.  Small rainbows and an occasional larger fish are also present in these waters.  If trout start to hit, the perch action will die for a few minutes until they are gone, but either way it stays pretty good all day long. 

There is about 3 inches of snow on the ice, which is 12 to 14 inches thick now.  Pockets of slush are visible in the afternoons.  We had little trouble getting 4-wheelers to the east side.  It looks like fishing for splake the day before had been great, the fish being suspended at various depths in anywhere from 30-80 feet of water.  Fishing on the east side was slow for us yesterday, the west side was not much better.  After consulting the fishing calendar app on an iphone, it looks like we picked the worst day possible.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!  It sounds like it is day to day on Fish Lake, fast one day, slow the next.  Try to get away from the crowds!  Light colored jigs are still paying off.  Most splake are being caught on the east side, fishing on the west has seemed to produce more rainbows than splake this year.  That was the pattern again for our group yesterday.

I still hear an occasional report of lake trout in the 20 pound range being pulled in.  Macs are found anywhere between 60-100 feet of water (105 feet was the magic number for our group last year) and are generally near the bottom.  Use larger jigs (4-6 inch), buzz bombs, or large flat fish.  Bounce them off the bottom a few times to stir up some silt, and be very patient!  They can be hard to find, a fish finder is a must if you want to find them fast!

Boulder Mountain Lakes:  The mountain received a good amount of snow Monday, locations around 9000 feet show a foot to 14 inches.  This is going to kill access to most lakes that have been fished recently, however the John's Valley side looked as it didn't receive as much snow.  Pine Lake may still be accessible by ATV, and possibly Lower Bowns.  Fishing at Pine Lake and Posey Lake were both reported to be good last week.  Use smaller jigs on these waters.  Night crawlers have been  good to tip your jigs with this year.

Wide Hollow Reservoir:  Solid ice still covers the lake, reinforced by a cold snap over the past week.  Fishing has been slow to fair at the lake.  Jigs tipped with meal worm or night crawler have been the ticket.  I have heard reports of a couple of fat rainbows being caught lately, one coming in at about 3.5 pounds!  It looks like we may have some good fishing in this lake come ice-off this year!  We may give the lake a try tomorrow, I will update this if I have better success. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Product Review: Vortex Diamondback Riflescope

It's another beautiful day in paradise! 
Escalante, Utah
This was the view that greeted me from high up a hill where I set up my target for this product review. 

As I talk with fellow hunters and shooters, I am amazed at how many of them have not heard of Vortex Optics yet!  Vortex was first introduced to me in 2008, and the brand has quickly grown on me, to the point where I will say it plainly...I am a huge fan!  A little background for you before I get into the review, a friend first introduced Vortex to me by way of showing me a riflescope he had purchased for his predator gun/setup.  I briefly glanced through it in the parking lot at work, and was impressed with the clarity and power of the scope!  My first real experience with Vortex Optics came a few months later as we purchased 3 pair of Viper HD 10x42 binoculars.  After using these binoculars for over 3 years I just can't say enough good about them!  I have to believe that if they can survive a wildland fire engine or pickup truck, or a firefighter's pack, they can survive almost anything!  These things have bounced around in the back seat, flew off of the dash, survived some heavy crashes and bangs in fire packs, and they still view as good as the day they came out of the box!  Crystal clear, a fast focus, and great magnification!  I knew I would be in the market for my own Vortex products soon!

My first purchase came in the form of this "Diamondback" series 4-12 x 40 scope, with the adjustable objective option.  I also chose the "Dead Hold BDC" cross hairs (see image below), which is one of the features that makes this scope so great.  I selected this scope based on the reviews of several of my crew members, who also have it and love it.  I ordered the scope, and promptly went to mounting it on my Browning X-Bolt .300 Win Mag, which had never been shot either!  Yeah, I was pretty excited, then suffered a set back.  I didn't do my homework well enough and my medium scope rings/bases were not quite enough to mount it up!  Long story short, the high rings/bases arrived the next week and I was able to complete the installation!  You can follow this link to a review I did on the Browning X-Bolt:

Almost immediately, I loved everything about the scope...easy to adjust, low-capped turrets, a very nice satin finish, the tab on the power selector makes it easier to switch magnification than other scopes I have, and a very speedy, clear focus.  I will get into some of the other specs as we go on.

300 yards back to the truck!
I don't know if I have ever had such an easy time sighting in a new scope!  Three shots and I had adjustments made to center!  My first outing at 100 yards produced one of my best shot groupings ever!  The 5 shots were grouped in an area that could almost be covered by a bottle cap (I pulled one shot a little left!)  Not bad for me, I have never claimed to be a marksman!  If I can hit a paper plate at 300 yards I can kill big game in the country I hunt, and I feel good with shots up to 500 yards.  So now the next test: long distance.  

This is where the Dead Hold BDC reticle, and the adjustable objective (AO) come into play.  I cranked the AO up to 300 yards, and held the first dot below the main cross hair on a rock that we ranged at 310 yards.  I touched off the shot, and there was no doubt.  You could easily hear the solid thud of the 180 grain slug from the .300 as it found it's mark.  I pulled the glasses up, and the rock, about the size of a dinner plate was scattered all over the place, the lower edge remained in place to mark the site where it had rested in whole.  Sweet!  My grandpa now found a rock just a little shy of 400 yards.  I moved down to the next dot, cranked the AO up to the last setting (the "infinity" setting) and thumped this one as well.  Now, the next rock at 500 yards wasn't so easy.  I used the top of the post of the lower cross hair for this one and my shot fell about an inch or two low.  Well now I know where the bullet will fall anyway!  I really like how the AO took parallax out of the scope as my distance increased, and how well the dots on the cross hairs worked in compensating for distance and wind.

I took her out again to do some shooting yesterday, mainly to get photos for this post.  I shot 300 yards uphill (about a 200 foot rise from the bench) and in fairly breezy conditions.  I was impressed again with the Dead Hold BDC!  Not the tightest group, but pretty good for a non-professional shooting from a snowy shooting bench, gusty winds, and shooting off of a couple of jackets laid out on the table!  My elevation was good for the most part, but you can see a couple of muffed shots that drifted as gusts came up!  I also wish we had a flat range at 300 yards.  Our city shooting range just isn't up to much at all!

I hunted mule deer with this setup this past season and although I didn't find a buck big enough that I wanted to pull the trigger on, I feel I gave the scope a great test.  I often found myself looking through the scope to glass across canyons and down draws over my 10x50 Nikon binoculars!  The scope was bumped around through the trees on some tough hikes and after a quick check a few days after the hunt, it was still as dead on as the first time I went to the range.  The finish is amazing as well!  I often cringed with the thought that I had scratched it, then upon inspection found that the finish never scratched once.  Above all the feature I like best would have to be the 12 power capability of the scope.  Up until now I have never used a scope that went above 10 power, and yes, there is a big difference and I love the extra zoom!  Fog proof...definitely!  Waterproof?  You bet!  The scope has been proven in a couple of rain/snow storms with no problems fogging or with water at all.  The 1" diameter, single-piece tube is a big plus to waterproofing! 

I know a lot of guys use scopes with turrets to make adjustments with distance and wind when hunting.  I never really have.  A lot of it is the fact that in the thick vegetation I hunt there's usually not time to make those adjustments, and I find myself making the hold over adjustments for wind and distance.  I know most of the guys I hunt with out here feel the same way.  You've got to give the Dead Hold BDC reticle a try, as it will take a lot of guesswork out of your shooting.

I really haven't found anything I haven't liked about this scope, or Vortex Optics for that matter.  This scope's MSRP is $359.00, but shop around, I have seen them priced much less than this.  Most major sporting goods stores are now carrying Vortex Optics.  You can also check out their website at  Vortex offers an amazing warranty plan, like most other popular optics brands out there.  Don't worry about a lost receipt!  When you have a problem, fill out the product repair form on their website and send it back in.  The service is quick and very efficient.  My grandpa had trouble with a Vortex red dot, sent it in, and had it back a week later in perfect condition.  I have heard a couple of similar stories.  I would rate Vortex quality between Leupold and Swarovski...real close to Swarovski and at a much better price!  Be sure to check out their website for a great selection of riflescopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, rangefinders, and accessories!  Hunting, tactical shooting, bird watching...whatever your outdoor optics needs, Vortex offers great products for you!  It's a great website, full of information, videos, and great products.  Check it out!  I have hopes of getting another scope for my varmint gun.  I have heard great reviews from friends on the Viper series scope!  I am also really impressed with what I have heard on the Viper and Viper HD models of spotting scopes!  I'm wanting to get one to rig up with the Tine's Up camera adapter kit.

Just a note on the adjustable objective...a lot of people think that setting the AO compensates for bullet drop at different ranges, so you can hold the cross hair right on.  That is false!  The AO simply takes parallax out of your field of view, giving a more focused, clear view of your target.  This is a good understanding to have before you buy any kind of scope.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Good Project For a Snowy Day

Well, Things are finally starting to look like they should for this time of year for Southern Utah!

Rain and then snow, it came down pretty good here Saturday, and kind of put a damper on us taking the kids fishing like we had been planning.  So, I had to find something else to entertain me for a few hours.  For Christmas this year I received a small meat grinder and some sausage seasoning kits, so I figured that this was as good of day as any to do some tinkering with it!

How many of you have the same old dilemma with meat from your big game...there's some cuts that get used up quickly while others tend to stay in the freezer for quite some time?  Possibly until you have to throw it out!  My problem always seems to come in the form of elk meat.  It's hard to get it used up before it starts to show signs of freezer burn.  I try to keep up on older steaks and roasts by making jerky out of them, but that doesn't seem to cut it fast enough.  This year my particular problem lies in a pile of cube steaks.  I just don't have a ton of recipes for cooking them, so they seem to stay hidden in the back of the freezer!  So, I figured these were good candidates to sacrifice to my first attempt at making sausage.

I will start of by talking about the sausage making process, and the Hi Mountain seasoning kits, then we can talk grinders/stuffers.  I received my first meat grinder for Christmas, just a simple  "LEM" brand grinder capable of grinding about 2 pounds of meat a minute, along with a "Cheddar Polish" flavor sausage seasoning kit from Hi Mountain brand seasonings.  The kit contained the sausage seasoning, cheese seasoning, cure packet, a package of casings, and instructions.  The process looked pretty simple, grind the meat once with the coarse grinding attachment, next mix in the seasonings/cure, then grind again with the fine attachment, and at last, run through again with the stuffing attachment and tube.  OK, easy enough!  Oh wait, first you need to prep the casings!  Well how hard can that be?

Well, it's not that hard, unless you have a weak stomach!  Natural hog casings stink to high heaven!  You have to soak them before you begin, and break out something to plug your nose as you do so!  Other than that, it's not bad...soak them, run water through them, then slide them onto the stuffing tube.  Once hooked up I had no trouble with the grinder/stuffer filling the tubes with meat.  I didn't use cure for my batch, I elected to smoke the sausage then boil it to cook it, then I froze my extra sausage for quick cooking another day.  It turned out great, even the kids loved it!

Next I tried just breakfast sausage, which is very easy.  Grind once, mix the seasoning, then divide into packages for freezing.  I used our food saver to store our one pound packages of sausage, and of course used one pound for dinner that night.  The sausage was amazing, some of the best breakfast sausage I have had!  This elk has been a little strong flavored as well, and this seasoning knocked that elk taste out of it and my family loved it!

Most Hi Mountain mixes call for 2 pounds of pork to 3 pounds of game.  A lot of people don't like this, as they wish to only use wild game.  Wild game is so lean that on it's own it has trouble sticking together!  The pork acts as a way to get some moisture and fat content into the mix to bind it together.  Even with a bit of pork you still have a sausage more lean than you will find in a store.  We love the taste, and the thought of how much more healthy it is for us!  Also, when you buy the seasoning kits, check the box to see if casings are included or not.  Some do, others such as the country style sausage do not, so if you want sausage links you need to buy casings!  All this is available in major sporting goods stores, or from their website:

Now for the grinder, my grinder is about one of the cheapest electric grinders you can find, but is perfect for me as I usually only grind 5-10 pounds of meat at a time.  My wife picked it up on sale at Sportsman's Warehouse in December, for around $100.00.  There are SO many options out there for grinders!  It comes down to determining how much you will use it, and for how much meat at a time.  Most stores will have quite a range of options.  A quick browse of Cabelas and you will find grinders capable of grinding 2 pounds a minute to grinders that will kick out 22 pounds a minute!  These are also available with a variety of attachments, everything you need to turn your kitchen into a full blown butcher shop!  For just making sausage, most grinders come with a stuffing tube, but check the item to make sure it does.

So don't let your game, or any meat in your freezer for that matter go bad on you!  I was impressed with how simple it is to make good sausage!  It is saving us money and providing a great meal!  Hi Mountain has a great variety of seasonings...bratwursts, polish sausage, breakfast sausage, summer sausage, and snack sticks just to name a few.  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hunting Video

Big Spencer Flat looking towards Canaan Peak/Powell Point

A couple of weeks ago as I shared my thoughts with you about the past year of our outdoor fun, and I briefly mentioned how I wanted to take more video and photos of my outdoor adventures to compile into my own video at the end of the season.  I also mentioned how I felt "inspired" to do this after seeing bits of video that a good friend, Steve Barker, had shared with me this fall.  Every year Steve takes tons of pictures and video of his outings with his group of hunting partners as they travel across the west in search of various species of big game.  It was amazing what he had put together!  A video over 30 minutes in length that featured not only video clips from hunts, but still pictures, and sweet graphics...all of this put to music to complete the experience.

Spencer Flat, looking towards Henry Mountains

How many of you have seen the selection of hunting videos out there on the web?  Would you be surprised to know that many of those videos are made from home?  I'm talking about a lot of the good videos too, yes sir, made by average Joe on the PC or Mac in the comfort of home.  It's getting easy to create and publish high quality video!  No, you don't really need high quality equipment!  Point and shoot cameras with video mode now adapt to spotting scopes for long range shooting, digital camcorders are becoming much more affordable, and if you shop around you can find great deals on higher power/quality cameras if that's what you are looking for.  About any new computer comes equipped with a free video making program that has all the basics you need to create your video.  These programs are very user friendly and take very little time and effort to figure out. 

If you are just getting started and you have a spotting scope, I suggest you check out the Tines Up Spotting Scope Camera Adapter.  The custom made adapter kit comes with a point and shoot camera capable of shooting HD video, and an adapter to slip onto your scope.  The great thing is this adapter just slides right onto the scope like your lens cap, and automatically centers on the eyepiece.  The adapter is threaded, it screws right onto the camera and can be easily removed to use as a camera alone.  This method of adapting a camera is called "Digiscoping" and is the method used in most of the hunting videos you see to take those long range shots of wildlife.  This camera adapter package will run you about $299.00 right now, on sale from $325.00.  Go to, find the link on the bar to the Tines Up store, there you will find a link for more information for the camera adapter, as well as an adapter for camcorders, if that interests you. 

Now I would like to share with you a video that has been put together for us by Steve Barker, of Cedar City, Utah.  This is a shorter version on the video Steve made at the end of the season.  The video was made by Steve in his home, using the video making program that comes with the Mac computer now days.  He used mainly point and shoot cameras, a camera/scope adapter, and camcorder.  I hope to make a similar video soon, using the Video Maker program on Windows 7 of my PC.  So get out there and try this on your own, and stay tuned to the blog as I will surely be exploring this topic more!

You can also find the video on by searching SUH&F.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mexican Wolf Reintroduction

I've modified this post a few times today as information has poured in.  Please be aware of this meeting tonight about Mexican Wolf reintroduction to Utah.  Go get yourself educated.  Also, I know I have viewers to the blog from New Mexico and Arizona...feel free to comment on the post as I know you have been through the reintroduction already in your states. 

I have found a little more information today.  The meeting will be held at Cedar Middle School at seven PM, and is part of a meeting agenda that will also discuss a number of other big game topics.  It also sounds like a lot of this uproar was begun by an editorial in The Spectrum.  I went to their website and found the article, which has some interesting statistics on Grey Wolves, and some strong opinions about the Mexican Wolf that makes a lot of sense to me.  I can totally see this being a tool that environmentalists can use to enforce travel management, curb cattle grazing, and yes, even limit our recreation opportunities, as the Mexican Wolf is still listed as an endangered species.

Also, check out this article by Senator Orrin Hatch:

So, this got my curiosity going this morning, coupled by a bad mood already from an unsuccessful morning of coyote hunting!  Did you know that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has a Mexican Wolf recovery plan?  Did you know the Mexican Wolf has already been reintroduced in New Mexico and Arizona?  Did you know that this plan has aspirations to reintroduce the wolf to all of it's historic range, which will put in back in Utah before long?  Check out their plan:

Now here's a little more discouragement I felt as I did more research.  Western Watersheds (among other environmental groups) is involved with Mexican Wolf reintroduction.  They have been key to getting the wolves re-established in Arizona and New Mexico.  Some of their ideas include taking cattle off of the range to allow the wolf to prosper, and in protecting areas under the endangered species act so the wolves cannot be bothered.  Please take the time to look at their page, get yourself informed before the fight comes to Utah!  While on their page look at the polls in the left sidebar, (they are pdf files).  I find it interesting that this group found so much support and little resistance to the idea of bringing the wolf back.  Biased?  You be the judge!

You can find tons of other information on the reintroduction of the Mexican Wolf through a quick Google search of "Mexican Wolf reintroduction."  I have heard whispers of this idea in the past but I have kind of just laughed it off.  It is a real threat to our wildlife in the Southwest!  There are tons of pages of pro reintroduction thinking...I found very little out there standing for why they shouldn't.  Yes, this post may offend some, I guess that is a risk I have to take...but I value or wildlife, our heritage (grazing) and the ability and safety of being able to recreate with my family on public lands.  Look what we stand to loose from gaining a wolf not the decimation of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana deer, elk, and moose herds proof enough?  In short, we as outdoor enthusiasts need to get involved with this issue.  Please attend the meeting if you can!  If you see proposals start to fly get involved!  I will try to keep the issue up to date here!  I'm sure there will be more to come as this issue is just getting underway.

More info on the reintroduction to Utah:

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Utah Big Game Draw

It's that time of year, the big game application periods are coming up very soon, in fact Utah will start the fun and nervousness on February 1st.  The Utah Big Game application period will run from February 1st to March 1st this year, just a little over 2 weeks away!  A couple of weeks ago I published a post written by my good friend Steve Barker about planning out your hunting season for the year.  How many of you will wait until the last few days to apply?  How many will wait until the last minute to figure out what they are hunting, where, and also, what states?  Please take a second to read the post if you haven't done so: "You'll run out of time before you run out of money." 

Photo courtesy of Spenser Owens
 There are several changes that await hunters in Utah this year.  I will try to break down as many as I can for you, but I encourage you to go to the Utah Division of Wildlife website (, go to the hunting tab, then the big game tab.  There you will find a down loadable copy of the big game hunting guide.  They are also available in gas stations and stores all over the state, or from the DWR offices.  Make sure you get this information, big changes have come this year.

The biggest news is the change from four regions to 30 smaller units for deer hunting.  These units nearly mirror the elk units if you are familiar with them, but there are some differences throughout the state.  The units for the most parts generally align with mountain ranges as well.  Be sure to check the new maps to get familiar with the units.  You can find the maps at

Here are some more changes to be aware of this year:

 General Season Any Weapon Deer:  All Utah general season any weapon hunts will be nine days, running Oct. 20-28.

Archery Deer:  There is no longer a statewide archery hunt.  Archery hunters must now choose a unit.

Youth Hunters:  If youth wish to hunt all 3 deer hunts, they must draw a General Season Any Weapon deer tag.  If they draw a muzzle loader or archery tag they will be limited to hunting only whichever one of the tags they draw.  Youth may also enter as a group (of only youth hunters, under 18) where they can apply as a group of 4. 

Group Hunters:  You will now only be able to apply as a group of 4 hunters.  You can no longer apply with a group of up to 10 hunters for deer.

New Bison Hunt:  There is now a Book Cliffs Bison Hunt

Northern Region Buck/Bull Combo:  This hunt has now ended and will no longer be available

Dedicated Hunters:  Those already in the program, the date to choose your unit has passed!  I hope you were able to go online to select your unit for the year, if not...I really have no idea what will happen!  The DWR should have mailed you a letter with instructions in December.

For those wanting to obtain a Dedicated Hunter tag:  Apply online for the program during the big game application period.  You will pay the $10 non-refundable fee, and if you draw then you will pay for the program.  If you do not draw you will get a bonus point.  For new members the service hour requirement was dropped from 40 hours to 32 hours.

Bonus Points:  Apply once within 3 consecutive years or you will loose your bonus points.

Other important Information:
For those that need a reminder, or those that are new to this, here is some important information about applying to hunt in Utah:

In Utah you must apply online OR contact a Division of Wildlife Office to apply.  As said before, the application period is February 1 to March 1.  Antlerless permits can be applied for in a separate application period, June 1-21.  There are NO CHANGES TO FEES this year.

Results of the big game draw will be available May 31st...although you may get an email with your results or credit card hit a few days earlier! 

You must buy a hunting OR combination license before you can apply.  When you apply a $10 non-refundable fee will be charged per each tag applied for, then if you draw you will be charged for the tag at that time.

If you gather sheds between February 1st and April 15th, you will need to take an online ethics course and obtain a certificate.  This process is free.

To apply for bonus points only, you can do so from February 1st to March 8th.

Bonus Points:  Residents may only apply for one limited entry species or one bonus point per limited entry species.  Additionally, a resident may only apply for a permit or bonus point for one once-in-a-lifetime species. 
Non-Residents may apply for a permit or bonus point for all limited entry species, but not 2 per species.

OK, that turned out to be a lot of information!  Make sure you do your homework this year so you know you are in line with all the changes!  One last thought, in going to the new units versus the regions we had in the past, the Utah DWR will manage each unit for goal of 18 bucks per 100 does, as well as for an overall population objective.  Those units not up to this objective will have permit numbers cut until they come up to objectives.  Word on the street is nearly 11,000 tags will be cut this year!  The frustrating part, is they won't be telling us where until the Wildlife Board sets permit numbers after population surveys, which will be in May.  So good luck playing the odds!  I would keep in mind that those units that have had hard winters the last 2 years, mainly in Southern Utah will most likely see some of those permit reductions.  Now you know...don't wait until the last minute to get your applications in!

*This information was compiled to the best of my abilities, from the Utah Big Game Guidebook, and should not be considered official rules or guidelines.  Big Game Applicants are required to meet rules and guidelines established by the State of Utah.  Please refer to the Big Game Guidebook for all rules, laws, and guidelines.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Product Review: The new Eskimo "Fatfish" Ice Shelter

Well my friends, here I go at one of my first attempts to review a product to present to you here on the blog!  I'm excited to give this a whirl, and what a better way do it!  I have been in the market for a portable "pop-up" style ice shelter this year and man oh man, was my timing ever good!  This year Eskimo, the leader in ice fishing equipment, has come out with their new "Fatfish" series shelters!

I have always been picky about choosing my ice fishing days, being a fair-weather fisherman most of the time.  I have braved a couple of windy, bitter days on the ice, but this year I said no more!  I've been pretty excited for this year's ice season, I started looking into shelters in August!  So, after nearly 3 months of looking I ended up with the Eskimo Fatfish 949.  Let me break down the specs on this amazing piece of ice fishing equipment for you.

This 4 person tent has a fishable area of 61 square feet!  This is a vast improvement from the 4 person "quickfish" series, which allowed for 48.75 square feet!  The leap forward in square footage is made possible by a re-designed base that gives more fishable room, but doesn't take away from the shoulder and head room up higher.  At a height of 80 inches, you will also enjoy 99 inches of elbow room.  The tent features 2 zipping doors, 2 vents, 2 mesh pockets for storage, 6 windows, 2 storage pockets, and 6 ice anchors.  All this collapses down and fits nicely into a bag equipped with backpack straps, and at 27 pounds is a comfortable load. 

I have been able to use this shelter on 3 occasions now this winter, and let me tell you, it has been put to the test for sure!  I was very impressed with the shelter the first time out of the bag!  We opened it in the living room after letting it adjust to room temperature.  This helps all the fabrics separate without peeling, and I suggest you do this to any tent or ice shelter.  With the help of my kids we had it set up in a good 45 seconds!  And after a few minutes we took it down just as fast.

On our first outing to Panguitch Lake my grandpa and I had it set up again in no time.  The two of us fished in it very comfortably, in fact it was plenty roomy!  We didn't stay in long as it was actually a very nice day and we found the shelter to be too warm.

The next outing the kids enjoyed slipping into the shelter to warm up, and we were able to let the baby stay in it for a while to enjoy a nap.  A week later we headed to Panguitch Lake where it had its true test!  We were welcomed to the lake by strong winds and snow showers.  The tent provided plenty of room for our wives and about 4 kids, even with the ladies fishing.  However my buddy, Jason Pratt and I had to weather the storm outside as there was not enough room for us inside.  Let me tell you, the girls rubbed it in plenty, bragging about how warm and dry they were.  It was a little bit of a test setting it up in the wind, but I don't think it would be very hard even with only 2 people.  One ice anchor gave us fits, other than that the others went easy and the shelter kept it's shape well.

Overall, I am VERY impressed with this product!  I would recommend it to any serious ice fisherman!  I think a lot of the use from mine will be in keeping my wife and little ones comfortable, but that's OK if that's the price I have to pay to be able to get them out to enjoy this sport with me.  I am however very excited to get to use it myself again this Friday!  A bit of advice being this late in the ice fishing around!  This time of year there are great deals to be had on ice fishing equipment!  Many sporting goods stores will be having close-out sales on their ice gear.  Look for great deals to come, but jump on them before they are gone.  I purchased my Fatfish 949 for $239.00, which included shipping, and at the time was $10 cheaper than I could find in any sporting goods store around here.  Sportsman's Warehouse was the next best deal, at $249.00.  I found my deal from a google search of the shelter, and picked it up from Glen's Army and Navy store, where without shipping it was offered at $199.00!  What a steal!

Looking for something a little bigger, or maybe even smaller?  Eskimo also offers the Fatfish in a two-person model (the 767), a six-person model (the 9416), and an insulated version to the four-person model (the 949i).  Visit the Eskimo web page for more information on these models, and other fine Eskimo products!

You can also find Eskimo on Facebook:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ice Fishing, a review of the past week.

Looking into the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness, Henry Mts. in background
So it's been a few days since I have been able to get a post on here.  Shortly after the New Year's festivities it was time to settle back in to real life and go back to work for the first time in two weeks...ouch!  What better way to start it off than spending a few days in Provo, Utah for fire training.  Well maybe it wasn't all that fun, but it did get me access to Sportsman's Warehouse for an evening, where I was able to pick up a few jigs to try on the ice, and some new coyote calls.  Now to find time to get out and use them!
Below Posey Lake

Our family was able to get out on a few fishing trips this past week...and I won't even talk about coyote hunting!  It has not went so well so far this year!  The fishing trips were not that much better.  I do have a few photos from our outings, and I will break down our reports, as well as a few others that have been passed on to me.

Monday we were able to get out of the house with the kids and head up to one of our favorite spots close to home, Posey Lake, which is just 15 miles from Escalante.  It's actually really sad to think we can get there this time of year!  After some work of busting a couple of small drifts on the road to the lake, we were able to park at the entrance to the campground.  The last few years it has been impossible to get within 5 miles this time of year, unless by snowmobile.  The trip up was a blast, as we were able to enjoy the winter scenery, the sight of a few sleds whipping by us, and yes, the kids had some good laughs as we tried again and again to bust through the snow!  We made our way onto the ice, which was about 10 to 12 inches thick.  We had some trouble locating the fish right off the bat, they were not where we have had luck on the ice in the past.  After a move down the lake the fish finder started beeping away and we found fish in 3 to 12 feet of water.  Catching them was a different story!  Jigs did little to impress these rainbows and brook trout, maybe we should have taken the powerbait for the kids.  Anyway, we had a great time even though the fishing wasn't the best.  On a plus we were able to break out our new Eskimo ice house, which I will be giving a review on next week.

Dallin at Posey

Dallin and Jackson

Panguitch Lake:

With the Fish Lake ice still being questionable (it sounds like it opened up more last weekend!) we decided to take the opportunity to meet with friends at Panguitch Lake today.  Most reports I have received have told of very slow fishing, a lot of parties going out on the ice and being completely skunked!  I did get an encouraging report from a cousin of mine, so we thought maybe things were looking up.  We were welcomed to the lake by strong north winds and snow flurries, but I figured this would be another good opportunity to give our new ice tent a try...and you know how the old timers always say the fish bite better when it's storming!
We set up initially on the south side of the lake, trying to get away from the crowds on the north side.  The water level is still very low.  Rumors of the temporary dams being removed are false, one was removed, the other is still in place and the gate is still cracked open, preventing the lake from filling yet.  We fished in about 8 feet of water on the south side, where we only had a couple of bites and landed only 1 fish.  Looking around us I only saw 3 other fish caught in that time, so we moved to the northeast corner, just above the dam.  Things didn't improve that much.  Although we had a few more bites we were unable to land a fish!  I'm not sure if my fish finder was having trouble today or what, but we were unable to locate a single fish on it!  It was working great Monday, I really think we just were not into fish all day.

I did receive two reports of fishing last week, one claiming fair fishing, the other claiming very good fishing.  Both groups were fishing in about 10 feet of water, a couple of reels off of the bottom with light colored jigs.  Both groups were also fishing at different locations on the lake, which makes me again think that it really just depends on the day at Panguitch Lake.  After the first of the year it always seems to get very unpredictable for ice fishing, and usually slows greatly around February.

The highlight of our day was being blasted by a couple of pretty impressive snow squalls!  If anything we were able to give the ice house a really good test today, as the women and kids used it most of the day, and the guys were left to suffer out in the wind and snow!  At least I have some good information to share on my review of the ice shelter this coming week.  The kids also got in some good fun sledding down the boat ramps and onto the ice today.  All and all it was a great day spent with good friends and the kids had a great time in the outdoors.  What can be better than that?  That's what it's all about right there!

I hope that I have better reports to come during the next week!  I have a pretty good group of guys getting together Friday to give Fish Lake another try.  Temperatures dropped a good 10 to 15 degrees today, accompanied by strong winds.  Hopefully this little cold spell will be the turn around we need to get the lake covered in safe ice!  Yes sir, Friday the 13th we are going to give it another shot!  We will arrive at the lake near the south end sometime around 7:30 to 8:00 AM.  Consider this your invitation if you are interested in going.

Monday, January 2, 2012

“You’ll run out of time before you run out of money”

Steve Barker with his Nevada Pronghorn
The tag was drawn on 1 bonus point
The last month has been crazy, and now here we find ourselves trying to get back to just regular old "life" as all of the festivities are winding down.  Time to go back to work, catch up on the bills, take the kids to practice...and time to think about applying for hunts!  During my last few hunting and fishing trips within the past few weeks, the topic has come up several times, "what are you going to put in for this year?"  Apparently the thought isn't just on my mind!  Steve Barker of Cedar City, Utah sent an interesting email to me a couple of days ago discussing the same topic.  I think you will find this one very worth while, as Steve talks about planning out your hunting season.  What better timing!  Utah is one of the first states to open it's application period, which runs from February 1 to March 1 this year.  Turkey applications are closed, but the over the counter tags go on sale next month.  It's about time to get serious.  

I have been very apprehensive in the past in applying out of state, as many of my friends and family also are.  Steve brings up some good points here that may help you out.  Throughout this post, you will see photos of some great animals taken by Steve in recent years in various states.  This has provided a real spark for me to want to go out of state more often!  I also hope to post on this blog information about application dates and how to apply for surrounding states.  I want to thank Steve for this post, I hope you enjoy it as I did!

A couple of days ago a few friends and I were fishing at the local fishing hole discussing various topics when the conversation turned to hunting and what our plans were, and what we hoped to be hunting next year.  One of my good friends made a comment that left an impression on me and is the reason for this write up.  Jason asked me to send in a story about a past hunt but I thought I could wrap a few of them into one.  As the conversation continued we talked about hunting, family, work and how there never seems to be enough time to go hunting.   A very close friend of mine said, “You’ll run out of time before you run out of money”. 
Steve with his Arizona "over-the-counter" bear
As I thought about this I looked back at some previous hunts and how I have been able to maximize my hunting efforts while juggling family and work at the same time.  If you are visiting this site you are more than likely doing it for the same reason I do, you love to hunt or fish.  I simply can’t get enough hunting in whether it be elk, deer, coyotes, turkeys, shed antlers, antelope and on and on.  It never ceases to amaze me talking to family and friends how many guys want to hunt more but don’t know how to get it done or are simply unaware of the opportunities that are out there.  I have been fortunate enough to have good friends that have helped me along the way and love to hunt as much as I do that have helped me be successful on those hunts when we have found the time and funds to make it happen.   We are all on a budget and family and work schedules are hard to get around, but here is a brief synopsis of my plan that I have set for myself and my hunting goals.  This is the important part:  have a plan.
2011 Colorado mule deer

 Application season is upon us and every year I go through the same routine as last year.  I keep a detailed journal of where I apply, my contacts from other states, units I have hunted or want to hunt, etc.  I apply in multiple states (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) and for multiple species each year and try and fill in the holes with over- the-counter tags when I can.    There is not enough room here to go into great detail of my plan but the important part is that I have a plan. 

2011 Wyoming bull (draw tag)
 How many guys out there know they can hunt Bear in Arizona with an over the counter tag?  How about an Antelope hunt in Wyoming that requires no points?  Save up some extra cash and grab a landowner tag in Colorado.  I guess the point here is this: I have been trying to get my dad to apply in different states for years because of the lack of opportunity in Utah and I always get the same answer, “I will next year”.  Face it guys, you are not getting any younger and these tags are getting harder and harder to get.  I may never get to hunt a rocky mountain sheep in my lifetime but I dang sure am going to try.  Don’t sit back and wait fifteen years in Utah to hunt elk, apply in a different state and go hunting.  Some states are more expensive than others but there are ways around it.  A couple of years ago I hunted Bears in Arizona on an over the counter tag with three friends.  The entire trip including tags, licenses, gas, food etc. cost a total of around $600.00.  Now that may sound like a lot but if I don’t use it making memories it will probably be spent on something else I don’t need like lunch at Arby’s.  This hunt was one of my all time favorites and I will never forget it.  We simply drove to Arizona, bought a license and tag and went hunting.  I hope to be hunting deer in Colorado every three years, some units you can hunt faster or wait longer.  I bought a landowner tag with some money that I had saved up a couple of years ago and killed a good buck on what I felt was just an extra tag.  I probably won’t buy another tag for awhile though as I put too much pressure on myself and I think I can find plenty of other ways to get another hunt in. 
2011 Wyoming mule deer (over the counter)

I have hunted a few other states as well and hope to really start cashing in on some great tags in the near future such as a deer tag in Nevada, a killer Antelope hunt in Wyoming and maybe a Javalina hunt in Arizona just to name a few.  These are just a small portion of what goes into my “scheduling” each year and there are a lot of resources out there to help you out such as magazines (the Huntin fool, Eastmans hunting journal), web sites ( and books to help you understand draw odds and how to apply.  I have found my favorite way is to just talk with friends and contacts and just go for it.  The preparation and research has become as much fun for me as the actual hunt, and I have met some really good people along the way. 

 I am not a great hunter, and I have little luck when it comes to drawing tags, but I love to hunt and I work hard at it.  Anyone can do it you just have to go for it.  Good luck to all of you in the draws this year and don’t forget, “you’ll run out of time before you run out of money”.