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Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
Athlete Insider: Donnie Vincent
I Hate White Rabbits...
Author: Chris Awe
Oct 26, 2009
As the swirling smoke from our rotten-log campfire continually circled and burned our eyes, Dan and I’s spirits remained untouched. We shifted with the smoke, uttering sayings to ward away the “Campfire Smoke Spirit”. –White Rabbits seemed to do the trick. On the eve of BiGRO (Big Game Rifle Opener), it’s hard to for anything to curb the excitement and anxiety of what the next morning will bring.
My Bro-in-law and I have shared numerous BiGRO Eve’s… I guess you could say it’s a bit of a ritual? It technically starts when the last passenger/attendee is picked up, and the path goes into a forward motion. For some guys; it’s a hall-pass, using the BiGRO as their vehicle for unchecked man-time. For others, it presents a unique opportunity to harvest the wily-Wapiti with a rifle.
I’d say for Dan and I, it’s a bit of a blend. We are stoked to load up our gear and head off into the mountains, but on the other hand are careful not to neglect the opportunity to tour old taverns and soak up a little culture.
This year it was just Dan and I. Dan possessed his general elk/bull tag, and I was down to my cow tag. We both had to be at work on Monday, so we packed light and planned to cover lots of ground. We were banking on the chaos of BiGRO to afford us some action.
As we watched a large herd disperse, and begin working their way into some heavier cover, we raced up to the ridgeline. The elk were on the move, and we were not yet into position. Within a moment, we saw the lead cow of a sub-herd poke her head into the drainage we were climbing. We froze hoping she wouldn’t see us… She then signaled to the other elk that it was okay to descend. As I ranged a nearby cliff band, we could see the entire batch of elk assemble: 2 bulls, and 11 cows/spikes.
The two bulls were in the very back of the line, and we waited for them to trickle in so Dan could get a shot. We carefully watched to make sure everything was clear, and Dan concluded he’d be happy with the bull. With a deep breathe; Dan squeezed off a round and separated the bull from the herd. In a split second the remaining elk tensed up, regrouped, and began to traverse the drainage in the other direction. Carefully watching and trying to anticipate their path, I ranged a clearing in their near future. One of the cows happened to be slightly outside of the group, and gave me a great opportunity… I took it.
Just like that… Dan and I punched our tags (and began to understand what our success meant). Thankfully; we have some great friends and family who were able to come out and lend us a hand with the harvest… An opening day that won’t be forgotten.
Best Line I've read in awhile
Oct 21, 2009
How can you not love this from the world of Facebook...what a compliment. Oscar T Williamson Top 10 signs you have a crap load of money. #3. You own Sitka Hunting Gear ... ;)
Video: Monster Brown Trout on the Fly
Oct 21, 2009
We've had our share of awesome
land on our desk here at
this season. It's a non-stop tease when you are sitting at your desk trying to get work done. An equally impressive fly fishing video came under my radar yesterday. It reminded me that big game hunters aren't the only ones getting after this time of the year.
Captain Matt Thomas of
and fellow fly guide Mike Thomas are close fishing buddies of my husbands. Last week they shot an impressive video of some of the biggest brown trout you'll ever see. They hit it just right this year and caught two browns over 30". World class fishing- on public waters! Needless to say, my husband was a little bummed out that he wasn't on this trip.
A New Member to the Sitka Family-
Oct 19, 2009
Meet the newest member to our ever growing office crew, his name is Bob. He is currently in training and should be taking customer inquires soon:)
Jeff Simpson - on a roll
Oct 18, 2009
Sitka stud, Jeff Simpson from Heartland Bowhunter, continues to make it look easy.
Author: Chris Awe
Oct 16, 2009
Friends and I often joke, that in order to successfully harvest an elk with a bow… There are literally 100 things that have to perfectly fall in place to result with a dead animal. A good hunter can consistently get to thing #93 (bow-range of an elk), but closing the distance to thing # 99 (taking the shot) is almost a gift from nature.
Many days in the field, and miles under foot… Thing #99 came when I least expected it. I had taken a week of vacation to pack into a remote wilderness area with my good friend Donnie... To partake in a backcountry bow hunting adventure. An unexpected and unseasonably big snowstorm thwarted our plans, and forced us to retreat. If we hadn’t acted when we did, we would’ve never gotten the horses (and camp) out of there.
Refusing to give in, camp was moved closer to home. A sun baked layer of surface crystals made spot and stalk hunting in the snow almost impossible. With only 2wks of the archery season left, the big swing of the rut was pretty much over. In dire need of a rest day… I told myself; “one more BIG day Chris, don’t slack!”.
I left the trailhead hours before sunrise. Armed with GPS in one hand, and bear spray in the other, I crept into the night. This was a new area to me, but an area I knew was fully capable of producing elk. The fresh snow crushed my hopes… only 1 set of elk tracks in almost 2.5 hours of hiking. Clearly not the “mecca” I hoped it would be.
I quietly followed alongside the tracks, hoping they were that of a rogue bull on the periphery of a greater herd. This was not the case, and soon found myself going deeper and deeper into the timber. I knew I was never going to sneak up on an elk with the snow under foot, so I abandoned the tracks and aimed for a ridge line.
Often as I hunt, I develop thorough (2-sided) dialogues with myself. Questioning and answering, I solve many problems out there. Trying to mimic hunting tactics of a mountain lion, I developed an acronym for myself this fall;
iding). As I snaked from tree to tree on a perfect ridgeline, I muttered “
” over and over in my head. With thick north-facing timber on one side, and virgin sage brush & grass on the other, I started to enter the moment.
Sneaking along, I began cow calling into the timber every 30-40 yards. My calls were hesitant and far from frequent. After about 30 minutes (just as I was beginning to question my methods), a bull lightly responded from the timber above. Having this not be my first rodeo, I began to setup knowing that if this was going to happen, it was going to happen quickly.
Sure enough, this bull was closing the distance, and fast. Thankfully I was hunting with a cow elk decoy (made by Montana Decoys). With great haste, I popped the decoy open, leaned it against the tree, and jumped 10 yards off to the side. I had no more than knocked my arrow, when the bull appeared 100 yards above me. He contently associated my cow calls with the decoy, and proceeded down the ridge in my direction.
Taking his time, he meandered towards the decoy. Hiding 10 feet behind a large tree, I carefully moved left & right to keep the tree between the bull and I. I caught a brief glimpse of the elk, and decided this was a bull I was going to pursue. He stopped about 40 yards out (out of sight from me) and bugled… I took a deep breath and drew back my bow (thing #95). I could hear the bull desperately sucking in air, hoping to catch the cow’s scent. It was clear he was beginning to hesitate, but yet he continued to move forward very cautiously.
Soon the bull was almost 10 yards from the decoy. I knew it was a matter of seconds before he would become wise. Then he took one step, and turned his focus directly to me. There I was 10 feet behind the tree with no cover, sitting on my knees at full draw. He stared for almost 5 seconds; I was motionless, praying he would turn. In a split-second he flinched, turned, and motioned like he was about to run… Without hesitation I released my arrow (thing #99). At 20 yards, it didn’t take long for the mood to change. I watched my arrow fly true, and witnessed the bull run off into the timber. Then the forest returned to quiet, and I was left with my thoughts.
Reluctant to celebrate, I hunkered down and listened for any kind of clue or crash that might come from the timber. I let the clock tick, and soon decided I needed to pursue the blood trail. I crept into the forest, again muttering “
Glassing the blood trail ahead, I hoped I would find the bull dead in his tracks. Soon I approached a clearing. Stopping 5 yards inside of the timber, I glassed into the meadow following the blood-soaked tracks. I could clearly see where the bull had bedded and become sick, but he was gone!! I gleaned for more clues and found him lying under another tree (head resting down). Not taking any chances, I sailed another arrow… striking him clean. –He took the arrow without a flinch, signaling to me that his life had passed. I rejoiced!
Taking most of the afternoon for myself and that elk, I took time dressing and preparing for the extraction. The lone elk tracks I cut this morning were indeed the only “elk” tracks I cut, but not the only tracks… It was clear to me there was a Grizzly in the area too. As the ravens began to congregate overhead, I used all my might to drag the elk carcass down into a tree well. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to work, but it hid me from the sirens.
As the sun began to dim, I packed everything I could carry and began the schlep out. It was a long haul, but not the worst by any means. Soon word was out, and I was scrambling for help… I needed to get my elk off the mountain ASAP! Good friend and long time buddy Mike, agreed to play hooky from work tomorrow and offer his strong legs and back to help.
Mike was familiar with the area, and too shared his concern about the potential for a bear encounter. Armed with bear-spray, handguns, and dogs, we marched in to claim what was ours. Darrel (my Airedale/Rott mix); is a fearless dog, and of capable size and enthusiasm to ward off bears.
As we began to approach ground zero, Darrel’s nature changed like a light switch. His hackle stood on end, and he began to growl and pace as he waited for us to herd up under his protection. Mike and I exchanged one glance, then we simultaneously unsheathed our weapons. Unsure of what was about to go down, we both prepared.
I gave Darrel the command to follow his intuition, and we followed him in. In one horrific glance, my eyes confirmed that the Grizzly had paid a visit. My anticipation had however paid off; the meat was unharmed (except for one of the front shoulders). It had almost all been visited by the bear, but was still in great shape. Luckily the bear had prioritized the entrails first.
Darrel instinctively circled us and began barking and growling into the timber in all directions. The bear was still close. I discharged my pistol into the air. Mike and I both agreed there was no time to waste. We packed everything (insanely heavy), and agreed to distance ourselves from the gut-pile and regroup.
Once on the move, we decided to keep moving. Slowly and steady we stumbled and staggered our way to the truck. Neither of us wanted to go back in there. …And with that, thing #100 finally came and passed, and my elk was successfully transported from the mountain to the freezer.
Next year, I will start all over. Thanks Mike!... I owe you one!
Sitka's Gear hits 1000 fans on Facebook!
Oct 14, 2009
It would be great to say, it was a long time coming, but it wasn't. We are lucky to have such a great community building around Sitka, at such a remarkable pace. Please keep spreading the word.
NW OREGON BLACKTAIL By Sitka Ambassador, Jeff Dunn
Oct 13, 2009
I hoof it to the top of the ridge, eager to begin my sneak. I know my landmark, but not exactly where he lay. The boots come off some 100 yards shy of my goal. Silent steps slow as I approach an open edge along the tree covered and brush choked ridge top, knowing the deer are CLOSE. The wind gusts aren’t in my favor, and avoiding the crunch of a leaf with each step becomes my focus as I close the distance. Safety off, scope dialed down, heart beat quickening, unable to sniff the snot rolling down my upper lip, eyeballs scanning intensely without moving my head, expecting the buck to bolt at any moment after catching my movement or scent, or hearing the sound of a misstep. As I reach the edge I SEE ANTLERS ONLY 35 YARDS AWAY.............the spork. My heart pounds faster...I know HE'S CLOSE! Frozen in place, looking...looking...I can’t find him. The smaller buck is bedded facing away...one more sloooow step and I can see more...but not him. Trying to place my size 12’s between leaves, my next step makes a faint crunch as my foot settles, and I freeze. Five yards beyond the spork, through the bush, an ol' white face SNAPS my way…IT'S HIM...HE'S RIGHT THERE! In the next three seconds, five minutes worth of thoughts rush through my head...I weigh the option of waiting for him to stand or shoot him as he lay. A split second later the rifle hits my cheek and he’s down! YEEEEESSSSSSS...exhale.
You can't describe the feeling when a plan works to perfection! It's not about the kill or the size of the antlers for me, but the adventure...time spent in God's country...the perspective gained from every trip out...and sharing it with others. Every day truly is successful, but I won't lie, putting meat on the table is as good as it gets.
Gear used: Core Bottoms, Ascent Pants, Core Zip T, Traverse Zip T, Jetstream Jacket, Jetstream Gloves, Traverse Beanie, Bivy 45
The wind chill on a cold morning this time of year can bring uncontrollable shivers, and make it near impossible to find your quarry through even the finest glass…but the Jetstream jacket and gloves did just what I needed them to, keeping the cold out and the hunt on.
The Bivy 45 was AWESOME! I used nearly every feature and needed nothing more. The rifle sling was great and just when I thought I was running out of space while loading gear and quarters after dark, the blaze orange meat shelf folded out to secure the rest of my load with room to spare.
Optifade kept me stealth no doubt, but the comfort Sitka gear provides in any hunting situation is what I love most. While the latest craze is “The Science of Nothing,” let’s not forget it’s more than the best camo pattern…it’s the best gear.
The sun set on another blessed day in God's country...looking forward to the next day out...
Oct 13, 2009
Let's show a little support for Jeff Simpson and his crew at Heartland Bowhunters.
Ever seen a Shad in the mountains?
Oct 8, 2009
Quick report from Shad Piper, Sitka's first fan, friend, and bowhunting fanatic. "Kelvin jacket, Awesome on this hunt. 60 mile an hour winds in snow above 11,000 feet, stayed toasty warm."
2013 SITKA® Gear - 877-748-5247 (877-SITKA-GR)