Monday, April 30, 2012

Hand-Made Survival Bracelets: Giveaway

I know it has been a while my friends, but here we go with another great giveaway here on Southern Utah Hunt and Fish.  Before I get to the details, let me give you a little background on today's product!

Louie Bernardo of Escalante, Utah approached me the other day with the idea to share his handy work with you on our site: hand-made bracelets in a variety of colors and styles that double as a nice piece of survival gear for any outdoors enthusiast.  Louie braids these handy little items out of "parachute cord" using a variety of colors to best meet your personality or needs.  So, just what will a bracelet do to help you with outdoor survival?  These braided bracelets are constructed from a few feet of this parachute cord, and let me tell you from experience, this tough material can have several uses in emergency situations in the outdoors!

How about some strong boot laces if yours happen to break?  Or maybe enough cord to secure a bandage for someone with a serious injury, or to build crude tools, or maybe it will be the means to catching your dinner?  The possibilities are endless, and a bit of rope or cord should be on our list of survival gear!

These bracelets are very stylish and comfortable.  In fact, most of the guys on my fire crew sport bracelets somewhat similar to these beauties that Louie makes, but lack the awesome colors and patterns that Louie can put together...(white is the only color our poor crew has available!).  I'm sure these will be a big hit with our guys this summer, and it's definitely an item we should all have on us or in our gear when we hit the back country.

Color options: I'm personally a big fan of the camo!
Louie offers his bracelets in a variety of colors (see photo) and in a couple of different styles, for only $7.00 each.   If you wish to purchase, please shoot me an email detailing the colors and style of your choice (as seen in the photos), as well as the measurement around your wrist.  Measure it loosely, but against the skin.  Louie will add a little extra on the length to fit your wrist comfortably.  I will be posting this product information on our "products" tab on the home page, with pay pal instructions soon.  For now, email me the details of your order and we will work out payment information over email.

Now for our giveaway!  Louie, an avid outdoorsman and longtime friend of mine has offered up 2 bracelets to giveaway to 2 lucky viewers.  As in the past, we will give away one bracelet to an individual that comments on this post, and another that comments on our Facebook thread (  Look for the comment on the contest there, and leave your comment below to enter.  You may enter both here on the blog, and on the Facebook page.  The contest will close at 5:00 PM MST, next Monday, May 7th.  A random number generator will choose our two winners that evening.
Louie Bernardo
I want to thank Louie for being so willing to offer up these items for our giveaway, and for being such a great supporter of Southern Utah Hunt and Fish!  Good luck to you all, and be sure to get out and enjoy what the outdoors have to offer you all!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Product Review: The Sony HDR-CX160 Handycam

The very compact Sony HDR-CX160
Hunting and fishing video is big right now, and I've been in the market for some time for a good, compact camera for filming my adventures.  Anyone that knows me knows that I can be fairly indecisive when it comes to spending money.  Needless to say I spent nearly 6 months doing research on the web, asking friends, and looking for deals.  Now, I would like to go top-of-the-line, but who am I kidding?  The life of a firefighter doesn't exactly pay the big bucks!  Ideally if I could I would be looking for the sweet cameras in the 1,000 to 1,500 dollar range, but that's not reality for me.  I told myself that about 400 dollars was my limit, with hopes I could find a much better deal.

So, what do I know about video cameras?  Well, that's just it, I've never been known to be much of a "tech specialist" so I really had no idea what I was looking for.  Simply put, I know I want a really good zoom, a good amount of memory, something compact and easy to use, and a very durable product.  I think that I found just that. 

I bought the Sony HDR-CX160 about 3 months ago, and so far I have been very impressed.  Now let me break it down for you, based on the criteria above that I was looking for:

Zoom:  Here's the technical specs of the zoom: 42x extended zoom, with a 30x optical zoom.  What does that mean?  Well, I could explain, but why don't you check out this article for yourself on just what optical and digital zoom are:
The short story?  This camera has some of the highest zoom ratings in it's class/price range.  What about in the field?  How about bringing a very small deer shed into focus, sticking up out of the brush at 300 yards?  I was very impressed!  I don't think I will have any trouble reaching out to game animals at that distance, and I feel like it will pull them in very nicely at 500-600 yards.  Now, I don't think you are going to get this camera to give you a lot of detail of a trophy's rack at that distance, but to get a decent shot, and for some great footage of a kill shot, I think you have a great camera here.  If you want a great closeup at 500+ yards, you had better plan on spending another 1,000 dollars!

Here's a couple of still photos I shot today with the camcorder.  Rattlesnake point (center of the photo, on the small hill just in front of the bigger mountain) is 3/4 of a mile from my house.  This was taken from my driveway, only using the camera's zoom!  Imagine if you coupled it with a spotting scope!
Check out the point in the center of the picture, on the hill in front of the mountain...

The point is 3/4 of a mile from my house (google earth) and this is a shot at not quite full zoom.

Memory:  OK, this is where you are going to find the CX-160 falling a little short of other cameras.  You are only going to get 16GB of memory, while other cameras of the same price may have double that, or more.  So you are most definitely going to need a SD card to boost your memory if you are planning a long weekend of shooting.  Don't let this get you down!  After talking with a camera specialist, this is not a bad thing at all for outdoor applications.  Less memory equals less moving parts, giving you a smaller camera, and giving you that durability you are looking for.  If you bump this camera hard, or maybe even drop it, you stand less of a chance of breaking something internally that will result in an expensive repair. 

Compact:  This camera is tiny!  It fits very easily in one hand, and the adjustable hand strap is comfortable and secures the camera to my hand very well.  The controls are in convenient locations for single hand operation.  I can fit this camera in some of the smallest compartments in my hunting packs.

Features:  This camera is loaded with features, and is very easy to use.  First of all, this camera does shoot full HD video, and I am very impressed with the quality of the shot, and the sound.  The battery life of this camera has also been a big plus to it's quality, as we head camping for a weekend and have no way to charge it up if it dies.  It comes equipped with a still photo mode in addition to the video capabilities.  Flip open the LCD screen and the camera powers itself to life automatically.  Once powered up, you will find a very convenient touch screen menu on the screen.  It also comes with a short USB cable built in that tucks away nicely in a small pocket on the hand strap.  An additional port for USB, an external microphone, DC power (for charging or extended shooting ability) and audio/video leads (the cables come with the camera) are also great features for playing back your video with ease on a TV or computer screen.

Here's a little bit of video we shot over the weekend:


This compact video camera shoots stunningly clear video in low light situations.  Now, the best feature I have found on this camera is how steady it shoots while you are walking.  This is another feature of fewer moving parts.  I'm far from a great camera man, and I can't begin to tell you how easy this camera is to operate, and shoot smooth video with this steady shot feature.  The only blurred or unsteady shots I have had were due to my "operator error" of running the zoom in or out too fast, but I'm getting better with it.

Now, what are the damages to the wallet?  Well, a quick check of bestbuy shows a price of $449.00.  Yeah, a little higher than what I was looking for.  Well, I did get this camera from BestBuy, but I did not pay that much.  How about $349.00?  That's what I payed, base price (plus insurance and a camera case).  Check out the Sony store for this same deal right now  I imagine if you keep your eyes open, you may see this deal at BestBuy again, or at other camera stores.

I haven't had the opportunity to record the perfect scene while hunting yet, but I look forward to it.  You may notice a few short video clips on a couple of my latest blog posts that were filmed with this camera: 

I can't wait to couple this camera up with a Tines Up camera adapter!  I think some great video is to come this summer!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A New Hazard to Back Country Travels

The snow is almost gone down here in my neck of the woods!  Weekend travels took me up under the rim of the Boulder Mountain, at nearly 9,500 feet in elevation...something we haven't normally been able to do until almost June!  It's looking like we are just a couple of weeks away from being able to cross over the top of the mountain, with 80 degree temperatures in the valleys.  This is mixed news; great for those longing to camp in the mountains, great for those wanting to hit ice off fishing at several lakes, but bad for those relying on the runoff for irrigation, fire danger, and plant growth for wildlife and livestock.  It is also very good for a group of people that seek another kind of profit from our public lands.

Marijuana plants pulled up and stacked
Many of you are already aware of the arrival of marijuana farms to the mountains of the west.  So, a lot of what I want to share tonight may not be new news to many of you.  However, I do believe that it never hurts to spread the word of this issue more, and maybe I will also mention items you may not be so familiar with.

What would I know about pot farms in the mountains?  Well, I work in the mountains all year long, chasing fires, doing project work, hunting, fishing, hiking, you name it.  One of the benefits of working for a federal agency (USFS) is the fact that our federal agencies are very safety oriented.  So, I receive a lot of safety training on this topic.  I have also discovered these "grow sites" and have been involved with the removal of the plants and materials from these growers.  One thing we have been told many times over the years at work is that this is the time (spring) to keep your eyes open as individuals associated with these grows tour our mountains looking for the perfect grow site.  That's why I want to share this with you today.  As we can get in the hills early this year it is very likely someone may run onto these guys looking for their sites.  So what are you looking for?  Well, I hate to sound like I'm "profiling" here, but they are going to be Hispanic, as these men are associated with the Mexican Mafia, and Mexican drug cartels.  At first it may just be a couple of them cruising the hills, or hiking around.  After a while they will return with trucks full of supplies.  One of the best indicators is trucks loaded with black plastic pipe, as you would see in a lawn sprinkler system, or garden drip system.

What is the danger posed?  Well, number one, these guys try extremely hard to hide their grow sites!  They do not want to be found or reported, their crop is worth MILLIONS.  Every site discovered so far has turned up men armed with various weapons, some sites have been booby trapped, and the various chemicals used by the growers can also be a hazard.  Your life is in danger, no doubt about it, when you walk into one of these sites.  They are very good at using lookouts and protecting their sites.  If you could ever see one of these grow sites, I'm sure you would be amazed by the amount of damage done to the area as well.  Cut trees, trash scattered around everywhere...I could not believe people could pack so much stuff into such a remote site!  In fact, at one site we cleaned up it took 6 helicopter sling loads just to get it all packed back out.  That did not include the enormous trash pit (filled with trash) that we simply covered back up. 

A load in a net, awaiting the helicopter
Now I want to share with you some tips if you do come across one of these sites.  The site we discovered a couple of years ago was really not that far from a main road.  As we were hiking, scouting a new area that we were moving into to burn (prescribed fire) in the future, we crossed a ridge top and began to smell a very strong that of a skunk.  We had been told that this is one of the first indicators that a grow may be near, but hey, this is the mountains, skunks are out there in greater numbers than marijuana farms!  As we continued on cautiously we could hear the sound of tools clinking in the rocks.  We stopped, knowing what we had almost stumbled into.  In fact, one crewmember was so close that she could hear them talking.  What do you do in this situation?  As trained, we immediately followed out footsteps back out the way we came in.  Don't wander around, don't try to get a better look.  If you think you have found one, turn around and head back the way you came in.  If you stumble into one, the best way I have ever heard of getting out was a woman acting like a "dumb" tourist.  She made comments that it was so nice to see someone else out in the hills, and that it was a great day for hiking.  After smiling and carrying on about the scenery, she bid them farewell and headed on with her "hike".

Utah National Guard hauling it out
When you get back to civilization, quickly contact law enforcement to tell them what you have found.  It is also probably a good idea at this point to not broadcast the exact location to your friends.  You don't want them getting curious and heading out to look for themselves, and you don't want word to spread, hurting the chances of law enforcement making a successful raid.

In short, be careful when you are out and about.  A few years ago a grow site was taken out in one of my favorite, far off the beaten path hunting areas.  I'm lucky that I had been to busy to make the long hike that year.  They would have seen me coming from below for a good mile, and I would have walked right into that very aspen stand where they were growing.  I get very nervous about hitting the back country by myself now.  It's a shame that this has to be a worry for us as we enjoy our public lands, and our favorite activities in the outdoors.  It is a real danger, and you need to be educated, and have a plan in case you run into this situation.

Second site of the day (nearly 16,000 plants) being loaded into dump trucks 
So, keep your eyes peeled this spring/summer, and please don't hesitate to contact local authorities if you come across something you think is suspicious!  Be very aware that local law enforcement in my area already has leads on growers in this area, and I would bet they are out and about all over the west with the great weather this year.   Enjoy what the outdoors has to offer, but do be careful!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Piute Reservoir Gill Net, and of Course a Few More Sheds

Piute Reservoir Rainbow Trout
Hey everyone!  I'm sorry if you have been checking our site for the past few days and have been disappointed as you have not found any new content posted to it in about a week.  I went in to have my gallbladder removed on Friday, and really thought I would bounce back a bit faster than I have.  I have made a couple of attempts to post, then as I look back at a sentence to proofread it I realize the pain killers were still doing their job!  Things are a lot better today, and I still have hopes of hitting the hills this weekend.

A lot has been going on with the great weather the past couple of weeks, and I'll try to highlight the best of that news here today.  OK, maybe this first report isn't the best news, but important none the less.  Mike Hadley, of the Utah DWR sends us a fairly discouraging report on the gill net surveys from Piute Reservoir conducted a couple of weeks ago:

Piute Res. Smallmouth Bass
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted a gill net survey at Piute Reservoir on April 11, 2012, in order to monitor the current state of the fishery. While we found rainbow trout ranging from ten to nineteen inches, they were not as abundant as we had hoped. Utah chubs, however, were very abundant, providing a clue as to why the rainbows are struggling. The previously strong population of rainbow trout was hit hard when the reservoir was nearly drained in the fall of 2009. Since that time, Utah chubs have rapidly increased in abundance, increasing the competition pressure on stocked trout. This appears to be why trout are struggling, despite the stocking of thousands of extra fish to take advantage of good water levels over the last year. It is hoped that the current effort to introduce wipers in Piute Reservoir will help to reduce the density of Utah chubs and improve conditions for trout. One three-pound smallmouth bass was also observed during the survey.

Piute has struggled for quite a few years, but showed great signs of coming back around 2007.  This is a big setback, but hopefully the introduction of predator fish will help this lake out.

The early (draw tag) turkey hunt is in full swing!  Opening weekend was a tough one for hunters, as they were met Saturday morning with blizzard-like conditions for a few hours, followed by a couple of days of cold temperatures and fog.  Hopefully we start to hear some success stories this week!  Remember, if you would like to get in on the general season turkey hunt, those tags are available over-the-counter now.  That hunt starts the at the end of April, 30th and ends May 31st.  Check out this article on the Utah DWR website for more details:
I have heard a few individuals getting pretty excited for the big game drawing results, thinking they come out in April again this year.  A follow-up check of the big game guidebook confirmed what I thought, the results will not be posted until May 31st this year.  Sorry guys!

To end with today, I have some more great viewer submitted shed photos!  It seems like either the shed hunting is slowing down, or people are getting busy/burnt out!  I'm not seeing nearly as many photos in the past weeks, however on the disappointing side I have not seen nearly as many elk sheds this year.  Keep those photos coming if you do happen to make it out!

About 2 weeks ago I was able to hit the field with Spenser Owens of Panguitch.  We had a fairly good day in a spot we haven't spent much time in yet this year.  Finding the elk this year has been a battle, and we feel pretty good that our next trip to this area in a couple of weeks could be a lot better.  Check out this sweet deer Spenser picked up right alongside the trail!

We only found 1 elk shed on the day, and a few smaller buck antlers, but it was a great day covering some amazing (and very rough) country in southern Utah.  Thanks Spenser!

First find of the day
Heading home

Spenser is having some great luck this year!  Check out a few more of his finds!  Here's also one of Mike Marshall of Panguitch, on a trip with Spenser.

Mike Marshall

Spenser is having a good year for sure!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time to Feed Your Lawn!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

There's no doubt that spring has arrived, well, maybe other than the snow that blanketed the mountain last night!  Don't get too upset, it looks like temperatures in the 70's will return to us next week!  With the awesome weather we have had the last 2 weeks, I can't believe how my lawn has greened up!  It is looking better than some, and yes, it had help.  I few weeks ago I posted about the benefits of using Scott's brand fertilizer products, and with the success I'm seeing from using my first application of Scotts Fertilizer With Crabgrass Preventer.  Last year we had a lot of trouble with crabgrass, and decided to give this blend a try.  Well, the results look great!  The grass is greening up nicely, and we do not see any crabgrass sprouting up! 

Many of you have heard me talk about the Snap Pac System.  Well, for those who haven't, here's my take on why I like it so much!  For those that have read my reviews of this product before, after our trials with it this spring I can say you really need to give it a try!

I HATE guessing the right adjustments to set my spreaders to get the right coverage amount!  I often find that it gets applied unevenly with my guesswork.  Well, Scotts has eliminated the guesswork, and made the process a lot more convenient!  I am excited to give the new Scotts® Snap® Spreader System a go on my lawn this year.  No more guessing where to set the spreader.  No more spills while trying to fill the spreader!  The Snap Pac connects directly to the Snap Spreader, so "filling" the spreader is not required.  The system will auto set the flow rate.  No more changing the settings!  Have you ever had the trouble of over spray?  Unique edge guards will keep the product where you want it, on the lawn!  No more damaging my wife's flower beds!

When you are done, simply remove the Snap Pac and it will self-seal for easy storage.  Now you can keep that bag on a shelf.  No more half empty bags on the floor.

So why am I sharing this today?  There are some great promotions and contests for Scotts Snap Spreader Systems out there right now, and this is a great time to prepare for the spring season.  I'm all about helping our viewers find deals and offers to help the wallet out!  Visit the Scotts® Snap® Spreader System website for more details on these great products!  Also, be sure to visit Snap perks on Facebook

Right now you can find some great deals on the Scotts Snap Spreader System.  They are available at most home and gardening stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Ace, and True Value) at great sale prices.  For those in the Garfield County area, Travis Shakespear informed me just the other day that he has the Snap Spreader System available at his store.  With a mail in rebate and the sale price the spreader will be practically paid for, and it will be as you were just purchasing the fertilizer for it!  What a deal!  Take advantages of offers like this before they are gone, and hook yourself up with the Scotts® Snap® Spreader System save a lot of time and frustration this year!

You will also find a the Snap Spreader bags of fertilizer in a variety of mixes, perfect for all lawn conditions, young, old, distressed, and over-ran by weeds.  You can bet Scotts has the perfect mix to meet your needs.

Did you know that Snap perks on Facebook has daily contests where you can win great prizes?  How about winning a trip for 2 to the 2012 MLB All Star Game, and World Series?  Be sure to visit the page and "like" them there!  It's a great place to hear from others, and also find advice from Scotts to help you achieve that perfect lawn.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Otter Creek Gill Net Survey

Well, I'm hearing it on Facebook for sure, as I am a few hours late getting this posted and I've been promising an exciting picture of a good fish!  Getting ready for the pinewood derby took priority tonight, as I need to get a few things caught up before I head in for a minor surgery Friday.  Well, I guess the title gives it away, we are talking about Otter Creek Reservoir.  So, I will get right to it.  Here is Mike Hadley's report (Utah DWR southern region aquatics biologist) of the recent gill net survey conducted at the reservoir just this past Monday:

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted a gill net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 10, 2012, in order to monitor the condition of the trout fishery. As always, we found plenty of fat, healthy rainbow trout. The two predominant size groups are ten to twelve inches and sixteen to eighteen inches in length. As a bonus, we caught--and were able to release--a 29-inch, 11-pound brown trout. Browns are not very abundant in Otter Creek Reservoir, but they can grow to impressive size when they start feeding on Utah chubs. 
Division of Wildlife Resources fish technician Steven Price (left) and John Spens of Circle Valley Anglers fly shop (right) show off a couple of fat, healthy rainbow trout caught and released during a gill net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 10, 2012.
There is a fair amount of fishing pressure at Otter Creek Reservoir right now because spring is one of the best times of year to fish there. Shore anglers are finding more success than trollers because most of the hungry, active trout are cruising along the shoreline. However, the reservoir is full, so finding a spot to fish from shore can be a little tough with all the flooded brush. A float tube can help you access some of those brushy areas. Look for trolling to get better as the water warms and fish move to deeper water in May.
Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Mike Hadley shows off a 29-inch, 11-pound brown trout caught and released during a gill net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 10, 2012.

Right now is a great time to visit Otter Creek Reservoir, before the heat of the summer sets in.  Spring fishing is usually always good, but summer can slow as the water levels drop due to irrigation demands, and the hot summer temperatures in this open valley bottom heat up.  One caution with spring fishing at Otter Creek, sudden gusty spring winds are known to hit the lake quite regularly, as the valley sits in a perfect north/south alignment to funnel those springtime south winds.  Be careful on this open lake, there have been a lot of accidents in the past to boaters.
So, what will you catch in Otter Creek?  Most likely rainbow trout, possibly a cutthroat, obviously an occasional brown trout (photo above), and the DWR has also recently stocked tiger trout, smallmouth bass, and wipers.  The DWR has high hopes that these predator fish will help control the population of Utah chubs, which have began to reappear in the lake in recent years.

Antimony, Utah

Antimony Mercantile
Otter Creek Reservoir is located just north of Antimony, Utah, a short 15-20 minute drive east off of highway 89, as you turn off onto highway 62 and follow it east for 11 miles to the junction of Utah highway 22.  The lake sits a half mile east of the highway 62/22 junction.  Otter Creek State Park offers a paved parking lot and boat ramp, as well as campsites, toilets, showers, and a fish cleaning station.  The Otter Creek Marina (headquartered right across the street from the state park) offers tackle, bait, boat rentals, camping supplies, and great food.  Be sure to stop in and check out their photo board to see some of the nice fish pulled from the lake.  Also, take the 10 minute drive south on highway 22 and visit the small town of Antimony, Utah.  This farming community holds a special place in my heart (home to my grandmother's family) and some of the best food around!  Visit the Antimony Mercantile and get yourself one of the best burgers around, the Antimony Burger.  Breakfast at the "Merc." is also a treat, and you won't want to miss out on the hospitality, and get an earful from the local folks that stop by.  Also, be sure to check out their photo boards to see the trophy fish, elk, and deer that have graced the parking lot of the Merc!

You will also find great ATV trails in the area, on both the Boulder and Dutton mountain ranges (Dixie National Forest).  Be sure to visit the Otter Creek/Antimony, Utah area this summer!  And bring your appetite for the outdoors, and good food!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good Weather, Good Times! Lower Bowns Reservoir

What an awesome Easter Weekend!  I hope you all got the chance to get out and enjoy the outdoors over the weekend!  Good times with family, some ATV rides, fishing, hiking, and camping, what a great time it was for our family!  It's hard to believe that snow is in the forecast later this week. 

Well, here I am playing catch-up after the long weekend.  Sad to say, I didn't get the camera out as much as I should have while we were in the hills.  I do want to give you a report on conditions on the east end of the Boulder mountain.  We camped near Lower Bowns Reservoir, where most of the snow is now gone (the north slopes being the exception) and we had great access to the lake and nearby ATV trails.  For those of you that have never been to Lower Bowns, spring is a great time.  In fact, in June/July the hot temperatures at this lower elevation lake can actually make fishing for more than just the morning hours fairly miserable.  The ice has only been off for a couple of weeks, and right now the low elevation temperatures are amazing.  Fishing was fairly fast, with most of our fish being caught fairly shallow, as they cruise the shoreline during the spawn.  Lower Bowns is a great lake for trolling, as you will find depths of 45 feet when full, with pretty good boat access, unless the lake is low.  If you are trying to get to the east side (where I find the best fishing) be prepared to walk or bring your 4-wheel drive to deal with a little sand and rocks. 


We fished mainly with Powerbait, floating about 18" off of the bottom.  We did have a little success on spinners (Little Jake's and Castmasters) but the fish weren't hitting these like they usually do for me.  I have better success with spinners in deeper waters, from a boat or tube.  Fly fishing in early mornings and evenings can be very good.  I was a little to lazy this trip, and more focused on keeping kids happy.  Hopefully I can go back soon, and have a better fishing report. 

Lower Bowns is located about 5 miles east of Highway 12, between Torrey and Boulder.  The dirt road has been graveled all the way to the lake recently, but as mentioned before, if you venture around the lake be prepared for sand and rock.  There is a small campground located at the lake, amid the cedar and pinyon trees on the lake's west shore.  Also, Pleasant Creek campground and Oak Creek campgrounds are located just off of highway 12, a short 5-10 minute drive from the lake.  Another small campground, Rosebud ATV campground, is located just 3 miles above the lake.  This campground offers access for ATVs to the lake via a very scenic ATV trail that drops from high ponderosa pine ridges, down to low pinyon/juniper and sagebrush lowlands as it follows along Pleasant Creek.  You will also find a couple of dispersed (free) campsites above the lake, and near the lake, but there are few areas to camp outside of the campgrounds.  The main Lower Bowns road (and recreation area) are closed to ATVs, but don't let that get you down.  You will find several ATV trails in the area, the main trail being the Rosebud ATV trail that provides ATVs access to the lake and other trails in the lower elevations.  We found plenty of miles of trails to ride, and had a blast on our bikes.  From rough trails in the pines, to sandy, more desert-like trails below, there is great riding for everyone.
The Easter Bunny found them!

The Lower Bowns/east end of the Boulder Mountain is a must for any outdoors enthusiast.  From high spruce/fir forests, large groves of aspen, pine covered slopes filled with huge ponderosa pine, red rock views, and the striking Henry Mountains in the distance, there is some sort of beauty for everyone.  Deer, elk, and is also a great base area to hunt from.  There are also several other lakes and streams in the area that are fish-able, when the snow melts.  Our family had a great time, as I'm sure you will.

Camping was great, good laughs, good weather, and great food!  In fact, we used a couple of our favorite family recipes and cooking secrets, our "omelets in baggies" and non-stick pancakes using a potato.  Have you checked these out yet?  You really should!

 Omelets: (click on the picture, no-hassle omelets)

Ashlynn trying to get to an Easter egg.
I hope you like the recipe and the cooking tip.  From our family to yours, we also hope you all had a great Easter weekend.  We will try to recover from this weekend, and post some pictures of more great sheds that have been found lately.  Until then, get out and enjoy the outdoors!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Utah Spring Turkey Hunt Overview

So, many of us have been talking about it for weeks now, and the spring turkey hunts in Utah are right around the corner!  For those that were lucky, the action will start next Saturday, April 14th for those that drew the coveted limited entry tags for the early season.  This will be followed up by the youth hunt that begins on April 27th, and the rest of us that went for the easy to get tags will be hunting the general season hunt, starting on April 30th.  Don't have a turkey tag yet?  Well, no problem my friend!  Turkey tags for the general season hunt are still available at license agents, or on the web at:

Click on the link on the right side of the page, "Buy hunting permits".

2012 promises to be a great year for turkey hunting in Utah.  Most low elevation locations experienced a very mild winter this year, resulting in excellent survival rates for the birds this year.  Several of the flocks we have been seeing have been larger than in years past.  In fact, the turkeys have had two decent winters in a row now, so numbers are looking very good.  I can't believe how many toms I've seen this year.  Success rates should be fairly high.

Here's a little overview of what to expect as you hit the field this turkey season:

Access:  We have been experiencing very warm weather conditions the past few weeks, so the snow lines have retreated up the slopes very rapidly.  There has been some concern that the recent storms have added to the winter snowpack, making travel very tough in the mountains.  The warm temperatures, coupled with the very gusty, dry winds lately have really dried several roads out quite fast.  If you stick to south and east facing slopes you should have little trouble getting around.  In fact, on Saturday we made it to 9500 feet in elevation on dirt roads with no trouble.  However, other roads that skirt around longer distances on north slopes are going to be tricky.  Here you will still find drifts around 3' deep!  Use caution, but I think you will be surprised where you can get to this year.  Please be considerate of conditions.  There's really no need to tear up a muddy road to get where you want to go.  This is a main reasons the feds keep closing our public lands to motorized access.

Where are we going to find the birds?  Good question...these animals are scattered right now like crazy!  Low elevation hunting (around fields, in valleys, etc.) may not pay off like they have in years past.  I am still seeing fairly good sized flocks in a couple of private land honey holes I like, but not like a month ago.  It is clear to see a lot of birds have moved out.  You may want to consider following a river/stream drainage for Rio Grande turkeys, and for the Merriam turkeys, hunt around the snow line where the freshest green is showing.  It may surprise you this year.  Saturday which was 2 weeks from the opener of the early hunt, we found turkey sign at nearly 9,000 feet!  The tracks were days old, and the birds were heading up.  For those with the general season tag, you might be hunting the birds where you would traditionally find them in early summer, like June/July!  With warm conditions in the forecast I'm betting you will see more birds continue to leave the valleys for higher elevations.
Two nice toms from a few years back.  Mine (right) sported a 9 1/2" beard, my brother Sam's (left) a 11" double beard!
The gobblers are already strutting, I wish I could have snapped some pictures of a couple of big toms in the act a couple of days ago.  Calling should be good for the early hunt, but will probably be very difficult come the general season in May.  Don't get discouraged if it's not working.  Hunt smarter.  Figure out where the toms are roosting and get in near the roost before daylight.  Odds are you can call one right off of the roost, where you may have trouble later in the day.  A lot of people think turkey hunting is easy stuff, but you're going to have very few chances (if any) of walking up on a big tom, or shooting one from an ATV or vehicle.  Be prepared to hike, find a place to hole up, and either call the bird in or wait for him. 

Spring hunting can be crazy!  Be sure to pack appropriate clothing as temperatures can rise and fall dramatically.  Keep an eye on forecasts, for your safety and hunt success as well.  One of the worst seasons I had consisted of 4 days of a rain/snow mix and fog.  The toms refused to leave the roost or let you know where they were.  During a 2 hour break between storms the next thing you know every bird on the mountain is gobbling! 

One last note, a lot of people eye those birds that hang out in fields, or other areas of private property.  Remember to obey local and state laws.  In Utah, if the property is not posted or marked, you still have to obtain permission for access and permission to hunt it from the owner.  Private land requires written permission, no way around it.  Don't chance it, respect a property owner's rights and do the right thing.  Ethics is one of the foremost ideas we should be passing down to our kids when it comes to hunting, next to safety and hunting conservation. 

Good luck to all who take part in this year's turkey hunts...and remember to submit those photos and stories right here to Southern Utah Hunt and Fish for display on our bragging board!  We hope to hear from you soon!