Monday, November 14, 2011

Canada Hunt 2011

My brother-in-law, Boone, and I went to Ontario Canada again this fall to hunt whitetail deer. From Moab, it was a 28 hour drive each way with 7 days in camp. We stayed at Silver Birch Camp north of Lake of the Woods. The camp has a main lodge and cabins with electricity and running water. But cell phones and the internet are non-existent (nice and quiet). The boreal forest is mostly tundra and moss with thick pine forests living on top of granite (there is little to no top soil anywhere). Where there is not forest, it is either one of thousands of lakes or flat marsh with clump grass and willows. Beavers create ponds and fill marshes with streams everywhere. The deer use the ridges to move about and bed, but they cut through the marshes along the willow edges and to cross from ridge to ridge. Last year, I did not have any experiences calling in deer (other than the one I shot), but this year, I called in deer almost every day and sometimes more than once per day. Last year, we were still figuring things out, but this year, we felt like everything went perfect. I ended up shooting a small 8-point after getting impatient on Thursday (after 5 days of hunting hard). Boone, though, shot a really nice 11 point buck on Thursday night in the last minute of shooting light. We were pretty stoked.
We crossed Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, (slipped into Minnesota for Cabela's), crossed the border into Manitoba, and then entered Ontario. The entire trip, I kept telling Boone when I was too hot or too cold in the truck, and he named me Goldilocks.
The day I was leaving to meet Boone, I was double-checking everything, and somehow my passport was out of my suitcase. I looked for 2 hours, but couldn't figure out where it had gone. I had put it into an inside pocket and zipped it closed. I went and picked Matthew up from the baby sitter, showed him Brandi's passport, and said, "Did you take this?" He went into his room and came back out with it. "I just liked reading it," he said. He had opened my luggage and dug it out just to read. After that heart attack, the trip went smooth from there.
In Minnesota at the Cabela's for last-minute supplies. Boone had to help me put my hat on correctly after this photo because I struggle.
Boone is basically a Chinese grizzly bear.
Looking svelte. We have now taken 3 deer from this marsh over the past 2 years between us. Some days were warm - in the 30s, and other days were really cold (probably in the teens or single digits with wind chill). It snowed two days and rained one day.
A night shot of Boone's 11 point buck. He spotted him in the last 5 minutes of light crossing the marsh about 300 yards off. He had hung a tree stand about 25 feet up in this pine tree on the marsh edge. I was at the base calling for him. He shot several times and inexplicably missed (probably from shivering in the cold up in the tree). He pulled a bullet out of the gun stock sleeve and yelled at me to "Stop him!" I grunted on my call really loud and the deer stopped right at the forest edge. Boone put him down with the single shot just as he was about to enter the forest. We tracked him in the dark and were totally excited to find such a good deer.
Thursday morning, Boone tried to 4-wheeler out through the marsh to meet me about a mile out but he got stuck in the swamp. We lifted the entire back end up and out and swung the whole thing around 180 degrees.
Trying to jump onto a beaver dam to cross a creek through the middle of the marsh I shot my buck in. It didn't work with 60 lbs of meat on my back, and I got soaked. You can see all five forms of the landscape in this photo: water, marsh, willows, pine forest, and granite (the granite cliffs are snow covered in the background.
I hiked out about 1.5 miles and onto a ridge. From the top of a 100 granite cliff overlooking a vast marsh, I called in two bucks at 9:00 am after 5 days of hard hunting. They wouldn't come out into the open from the willows across the marsh, but kept looking for the "fight" my rattling horns were making. This buck came in second and ran the first buck off. Thinking he was the dominant buck, seeing he had antlers through the willows, and hoping he was a good buck, I foolishly took the shot through the willows from 200 yards and put him down. Two hours later, Boone had joined me and we had hiked in to the buck. I was thoroughly disappointed to find such a small buck. However, I was glad to have game on the ground after so many days of hunting. I took his hide to have it tanned. We loaded up the meat, and packed it out the mile or so to Boone's stuck 4-wheeler. That night, Boone shot his buck.
Everything grows on granite, so the ridges will often have blown over trees. This one formed a "cave" from the tundra growing around it's base that came up with it.
A snow storm blew in one day and covered everything (my pack and gun are in this picture) in white.
Trying to stay warm. The hunt was amazing this year. We had the time of our lives. We laughed constantly, enjoyed Church on Sunday morning in Kenora, loved our cabin, learned a lot more about hunting and calling whitetails, and saw huge bucks and deer almost everyday. I can't wait to go back again.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book of Mormon

Great article (here) today in the Deseret News about the factual nature of the Book of Mormon. The author linked an article defending the book from an intellectual view as well (here). If you haven't read Hugh Nibley's book, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, you need to; he defends the book from the position of its seat within the Ancient Middle-Eastern context from which it claims to have originated. Nibley's book is available online (here) or in book form (here).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Elk Camp 2011

I elk hunted this year with my Dad and brother Dave in the Utah mountains at 9,000 feet. We each had a spike elk (year and a half old bulls) tag. Finding elk is usually tough, but we're typically in or around a herd or multiple herds each day if we hunt hard. Finding a spike and getting a good shot, though, can be extremely difficult. Several years, I haven't had a shot at all on a spike. However, this year, everything went perfect. For the first time, I had a camper that we pulled up and used as base camp - hot showers, good beds, and warmth in the high snow-capped mountains was a huge bonus! Because of a big early season snow storm last weekend followed by warm temps, the old logging roads and 4-wheeler trails were total mud. We couldn't get the trucks anywhere. However, Dave bought a 4-wheeler this summer, so for the first time, we had a new hunting tool. It got us out the several miles of muddy roads to our hunting grounds where we could then hike the forests and mountain canyons. We arrived Tuesday evening and drove the upper roads exploring what areas we could access with all the snow. After a combination of too much Mtn Dew and excitement for the hunt, I didn't sleep at all Tuesday night - not a single minute. Longest night of my life. Wednesday morning, my Dad hiked out into the basin we like to hunt with the intention of meeting up with us that night somewhere along a 4-wheeler road we identified on the map. Dave and I roade his 4-wheeler out about 5 miles to a look-out point we like. Within minutes, we spotted elk about a half mile away and put together a plan. Dave drove me out a ways on a trail, and then he went back to the point to watch; I hiked up a 4-wheeler trail to where I thought the elk were below me and eased down through the pines and aspens cow calling. The patches of snow that still remained were frozen and pretty loud, so the going was slow picking my way through it. When I arrived at the clearing the elk had been in, Dave radioed me and said the herd had moved off to the south down the mountain into the forest. I moved down to the bottom of the clearing about 100 yards and continued cow calling. Dave radioed and said two elk were coming in to the calls. Eventually I found them and when one stepped out of the brush, seeing he was a spike elk, I made a standing freehand shot from about 60 yards through a small hole in the brush and trees. When I fired, the second elk ran off, but I saw that he was a spike, too. I sat down behind a dead log and cow called, trying to coax him back because he only trotted off rather than really busting out of there. After a few minutes, he came walking right back into the clearing and stood there looking for the cow elk he was hearing (me). Realizing the second elk was a spike as well, Dave made his way over to me, and following the sound of my calls, dropped down into the same clearing and shot the second spike. They fell no more than 20 yards away from each other! As we stood around laughing about our total luck, our Dad suddenly emerges from the forest. We said, "Where did you come from?!" He said he'd been tracking a herd after hiking several miles and it brought him to this meadow. A perfect finish to a crazy morning.
Several times we had all 3 of us on the 4-wheeler; total nerds.
Elk camp - the new camper and Tatonka.
Dave's 4-wheeler loaded with Dad's spike elk.
Dave and I shot our elk on Wednesday. Thursday morning, I drove Dad out about 5 miles on the 4-wheeler and dropped him off. He hiked through the forest a couple of miles just below the snowline moving in and out of small canyons and draws and over ridges. After several hours of tracking a herd, he found himself in the middle of elk. What at first appeared to be a herd of 8 or 10 that he kept bumping ahead of him, he dropped down a ridge and watched a small group of elk in an open aspen grove. After awhile, one of the elk stepped out and turned out to be a spike. A 50 foot shot finished him. When my Dad fired, the small herd of 10 turned into a huge herd of 40 elk that stormed through the grove and down the draw. Dave and I were sitting on a point above the basin Dad was hunting in, eating lunch and chatting when we heard the gunshot over a couple of small canyons. After some excited radio chatter and riding around on the 4-wheeler, we located Dad's ridge and hiked down to meet him and celebrate his awesome hunt. A few hours later, we had our third and final elk pulled out of the mountains. In less than 27 hours, we had hunted and harvested three spike elk!
Dave's spike about 20 yards away from my elk.
My spike elk. All three spikes were remarkably similar looking in appearance - no extra points and almost exactly even in antler length. It was a great hunt. We stayed until Friday morning before heading home. The 4-wheeler opened up a lot of country that wouldn't have been available otherwise due to the mud and snow. However, we still (especially Dad) hiked a lot and had to hike out our meat on frame packs through some tough forest up steep mountains. Everyone kept telling us they weren't seeing elk this year and other hunters were surprised about our finding spikes. However, most people we see up there only ride the 4-wheeler trails and don't get off the roads to hunt the forests. We usually aren't this lucky, but I'll take it. I love the family time and the high beautiful Utah mountains in elk country every year. All the meat will feed our family well for the next year. Good times!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Camper

2007 Mallard Sport

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Jimmer to Rule Them All

Goodbye, good friend.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lord of the Jimmer

One Jimmer to rule them all;
One Jimmer to find them.
One Jimmer to score on them all;
And in the Marriott Center bind them.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Holidays

Our holiday season was pretty dull this year with me breaking my leg. No travels or excursions, but the kids were good sports about it. Dave and Erin came for a cool visit, and we finally got some snow just before New Years.

James eating Matt's birthday cake.
The new cast.
Matthew celebrating four years opening presents.
James playing a video game for the first time Christmas morning.
Emmy and her toe socks Christmas present.
Brandi setting up the boys' car track.
Emmy and her gifts.