Category Archives: Mike’s Blog

RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM AN OUTDOOR MAN

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Gear Review of The Club XXL Ground Blind by Primos

Primos Double Bull Deluxe Ground Blind, Truth Camo (Sports)

The double Bull deluxe ground blind has a Zipperless door for silent entry even with gear on. Equipped with the patented double Bull hub system, this blind is easy to set up and extremely solid. This blind has the same 180Deg front window that hunters have grown to love.

New From:$314.97 USD In Stock
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XXL Club Ground Hunting Blind by Primos
XXL Club Ground Blind by Primos

 

August 2015

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

My Colorado Pronghorn hunt this year was quite successful, and I could not have done it without my Club XXL. It may have been my most important piece of gear for that particular trip.

Ground blinds can be an important component of any bowhunting strategy. They are particularly useful when conditions are not well suited for tree stands, or when any other hunting method would simply not be effective. They can be absolutely essential when hunting antelope on a waterhole or at a well used fence crossing, for example.

There are, of course, a great many designs and options on the market offered by a variety of manufacturers. Choosing the best blind depends on the kind of game that you will be hunting, and in the type of terrain you will be hunting it in.

Perhaps you are looking for a certain type of camo pattern to blend in with the background vegetation common to your hunting area. Or maybe carry weight is your most important consideration. Some pop-ups are much easier to set-up and take down than others (and for those of you that have been there – you know exactly what I mean, all cursing aside).

I am a rather large guy to begin with, so inside dimensions are of primary importance to me. I like to be comfortable, and I have found many pop-up blinds to be simply too small for my 6 foot 1″ frame. A dawn to dusk sit can grow uncomfortable under the best conditions. It can become torturous in the wrong blind.

For that reason I prefer to keep a fair amount of gear and incidentals with me, particularly when I can drive up to, or fairly close to the blind. There is nothing like an ice-cold drink from the cooler when it is 95 degrees outside, and even hotter inside. A full size chair of some kind can really make the difference too, though it tends to use up quite a bit of floor space in most ground blinds.

I found the Club XXL’s 58″ x 58″ base width to be adequate for one bowhunter, at least after some trial and error and rearranging. A few inches more would have been O.K. too.

The type of bow you are shooting may be the most important consideration. Like most of today’s archer’s, I shoot my bow without any cant, even though I do carry a recurve.  I also most often shoot while sitting on a five gallon bucket, so the relationship between the window height and the height of the blind is critical. At 77″, it is tall enough to shoot my 62″ recurve.

But for me, it really is all about the windows…and to put it bluntly – they just ain’t right…

I much prefer a square or rectangular opening, and as you can see these windows are more triangular-shaped. At first use, they are confusing…at least based on other ground blinds that I have used.

As most of you know it is extremely important to work out the shot routine and possible shot locations long before the animal ever arrives. Everything needs to be right the first time too, because that may be your only opportunity for success. These windows had me baffled, and it wasn’t until several animals had come and gone and I had tried several combinations that I felt comfortable with the location and size of the shooting window.

It wasn’t my first choice for the blind location either. At first I had tried to stake it on top of a small dam, since it was obvious that several trails intersected on that end of the pond. It was not that high of an embankment, but when I tried to take a practice shot I quickly found out that the bottom of the window was too high to clear an arrow pointed at a slightly downward angle. There was no amount of shooting gymnastics  that would make it work either, and my only option was to move the blind. Fortunately, I was able to work that part out a week before the season.

I found the shape of the windows to be distracting too. As we know it is critical to pick a spot on the animal’s vitals, and I found it difficult to do that when I was constantly wondering if the arrow would or would not miss the changing angle of the window.

And last, but not least, I was not impressed with the ability to change the size of the window openings. When fully open they were simply too large, and it was not easy to make them smaller and still be able to shoot.

I generally like to have at least two windows open for shooting, but with this blind that did not seem possible. I had to pick one and leave everything else closed, and then close that one down a bit more too in order to limit the amount of light coming into the blind. At that point it was dark enough inside to prevent those sharp-eyed pronghorns from spotting my movement, but they had to be in exactly the right place for me to make a shot.

 

It's All About The Windows...The Club XXL Ground Blind By Primos, Set Up On A Desert Waterhole in Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
It’s All About The Windows…

So, with all of that being said, the Club XXL does have several good points. And after all, I was able to harvest one heck of a pronghorn buck in the end, so I can’t be too hard on it.

The blind is well made, and it is easy to put up and take down. It holds up well in the wind, and it blends into the surroundings fairly well without any tell-tale shine.

It would probably work better in the timber or brush country too, rather than in the sage and wide open hills of the antelope lands. In that kind of vegetation zone it would be possible to add some branches and other concealment and control the size of the shooting windows much more easily.

All things considered, it is a good blind for the money.

I do recommend it for many hunting situations, particularly for those who prefer the gun. I recommend it for the bowhunter too, – with reservations…

But then again, we all need more than one blind anyway, right?

 

A Hunter Poses With A Pronghorn Antelope Buck, Taken In Northern Colorado With a Hoyt Satori Recurve, Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Shafts, and A Helix Single Bevel Broadhead From Strickland's Archery. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
It’s All About The Blind

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

*In the last two years I have used the The Double Bull Deluxe Ground Blind, alo mde by Primos, and I have come to really like it. It does have a double wide, zipperless door for much easier access, and the window design is much more compatible for a bowhunter. It is just tall enough for me to be able to use my 60″ recurve bow when shooting from my knees, which I prefer to sitting on a bucket, stool, or chair. To be honest, I still have some trouble when setting it up, but perhaps that is more my problem than a design issue. After all, I just have never been that mechanically inclined, and I am not so good at puzzles. You…?

You might also like Pronghorns & Coyotes & Fires…

In Praise of The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Duplex Reticle Matte Riflescope (Sports)

There’s a reason the 3.5-10×40 has been one of the most popular models for decades; it just plain works in almost any hunting environment. Tight brush and long-range shots are no problem with this extremely versatile magnification range.

What do hunters want most in a scope? Plain and simple; outstanding performance in low-light conditions and an incredibly tough, lightweight design. The VX-3i delivers this and more. Our Twilight Max Light Management System lets you see details others can’t in those crucial low-light situations at the beginning and the end of the day. Everything we put into the VX-3i is there to help you tag out.

Specifications

  • Weight – 12.6 oz/357 g
  • Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) – 29.8 – 11.0
  • Linear FOV (m/100 m) – 9.9 – 3.7
  • Eye Relief – 4.4-3.6 in/112-91 mm
  • Objective Diameter – 1.6 in/40 mm
  • Elevation Adjustment Range – 52.0 MOA
  • Windage Adjustment Range – 52.0 MOA

New From:$348.99 USD In Stock
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Michael Patrick McCarty Gives a Thumbs Up Just After Making A Killing Shot On A Mountain Goat in The Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness of Colorado with a .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting
Mr. Weatherby Does It Again on a Colorado Mountain Goat Hunt. Photo by Rocky Tschappat.

October 3, 2015

The Colorado High Country will test the boundaries of heart and soul of any hunter, and the outer limits of rifle ballistics too. I hunted mountain goats there in September of 2015, and if their was ever a caliber made for such a task it is the .30-378 Weatherby Magnum.

Originally designed for the military in 1959 by Roy Weatherby, it was not available to the general public as a factory offering until 1996. I suspect that the majority of big game hunters have still never heard of it, even though it was used to set world records for accuracy at 1,000 yards and held that record for decades. It remains the fastest .30 caliber ammunition on the market.

I have a friend that is a big fan of this cartridge, and he is an old hand at long-range precision rifle shooting. He once took an elk at 750 yards, and when he heard that I had drawn a goat tag he all but insisted that I give it a try. He said that this was probably the closest it would ever get to a mountain goat, and he wanted a picture of the two together.

Now that’s a buddy and a pal that you can count on. There are not a lot of people in this world that would hand over a $2000 rifle with a finely engineered scope and a $150 box of shells and encourage you to go play in the rocks.

The thought of attempting a shot over several football fields stacked end to end is one that I would not generally consider very seriously, but then again I had never shot a rifle quite like this. After all, that’s exactly what this rifle was built for, and reason enough to own one.

I had my opportunities too. On this trip I had to pass on some really big billies, but not because they were at 500 yards or more. Shot placement is always important, but in goat hunting it is what happens after the shot that is of paramount importance.

Each time the goat was in a spot which would have made recovery impossible without ropes and climbing gear, and my head said no while my trigger finger desperately wanted to say yes. More than one trophy goat has stumbled and fallen a long, long way down the mountain after failing to be anchored by what appeared to be a great hit.

It took several days to find one in a reachable spot. As it turned out, there was no need to worry. I shot my Billy with a 130 grain handload at 350 yards, and their was never any question about the end result. It simply never knew what hit it, and was down and out on impact. The round got there in one hell of a hurry too.

The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum is truly a high performance hunting caliber. You may wish to take one along on your next mountain hunting adventure.

I know I will.

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting. The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Mark V with Synthetic Stock & Bipod & Ported Barrel. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Mark V with Synthetic Stock & Bipod. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting. A Cheat-Sheet to Die for. These Yardages Correspond With Hashmarks and Post In The Rifle Scope For This .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. 770 Yards? Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty
A Cheat-Sheet to Die for. These Yardages Correspond With Hashmarks and Post In The Rifle Scope. 770 Yards? Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting. .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Cartridge and .270 Winchester Rifle Cartridge by Comparison. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
.30-378 Cartridge and .270 by Comparison. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting. A hunter picks his way down a steep mountain slope, while rifle hunting for rocky mountain goat in the maroon-bells snowmass wilderness in colorado's gmu 12. Even a .30-378 Weatherby Magnum can't help you here.
Where Angels, and Goat Hunters, Fear To Tread
Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting. Two hunters pose with a Rocky Mountain Goat taken with a 30.378 Weatherby Magnum on a self-guided hunt in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass wilderness near GMU 12 in Colorado
Wet and Cold – But Happy!
A Taxidermy Shoulder Mount of a Mountain Goat Billy, Taken With a 30.378 Weatherby Magnum Rifle by Michael Patrick McCarty in Colorado's Game Management Unit 12, in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
A Place Of Honor Upon The Wall

 

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

For More Information on the .30-338 Weatherby Magnum see the Wikipedia Article Here

*You may also like our post A Mountain Goat Night and The Improbable Beast

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Update:

As it turns out, it does appear that I was able to take a very solid mountain goat for this unit. According to the Colorado Big Game Harvest Statistics for 2015, my goat was about 5 years old and had horns that were a bit better than average compared to other goats taken that year.

That’s some fine news, to be sure. Yet, I must tell you that in the end the length of the horns don’t really matter, at least to me. The real prize was the mountainous adventure of it all, and it’s a fantastic trophy no matter the score.

May you draw your own tag soon!

Mule Deer and Memorial at Storm King Mountain

Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire (Paperback)

In 1994, a wildfire on Colorado’s Storm King Mountain was wrongly identified at the outset as occurring in South Canyon. This unintentional, seemingly minor human error was merely the first in a string of mistakes that would be compounded into one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of firefighting. Before it was done, fourteen courageous firefighters—men and women, hotshots, smokejumpers, and helicopter crew—would lose their lives battling the deadly, so-called South Canyon blaze. John N. Maclean’s award-winning national bestseller Fire on the Mountain is a stunning reconstruction of the killer conflagration and its aftermath.

New From:$13.26 USD In Stock
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skeeze / Pixabay

 

 

A View Near the Top of The Storm King Memorial Trail Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Storm King Memorial Trail Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado

October 23, 2015

Today I hunted Mule Deer on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Climbing hard in the false dawn from the river below, I soon found myself enveloped in a gray, somber day, with light rain, low clouds, and misty vapors all around. It seemed a most appropriate collection of weather conditions for the moment at hand.

This is, however, not so much a story about big game hunting, as it is about, something else. I fully intended to kill a deer, but in the end, did not. Neither did I see a deer, and not one fresh track appeared in the mud within the view held tightly below the bill of my hat and hood.

Perhaps it was because the mulies were still tucked into cover, discouraged by the heavy rains of the last few days. Or perhaps it was because our usual snows had yet to appear in even the highest parts of the high country, and the deer had not yet migrated down to the lower elevations. Maybe, just maybe, it was just not the day to kill a deer.

But I came for other reasons too.

Fourteen fire fighters died on this mountain on July 6, 1994. Officially named the South Canyon Fire, it began with a lightning storm on July 2, and rapidly escalated from there. Fire crews were scrambling to catch up right from the start, and the town of Glenwood Springs was solidly in the crosshairs.

Residents prepared for the worst in terms of property damage and financial ruin, but no one could have predicted such a shocking course of events.

I remember exactly where I was sitting when the announcement of their deaths was relayed over the local radio. The impact of the news hit me like a sledge to the most vulnerable parts of my innards, so close to home, and not just because it had happened right down the road.

I was a fire lookout on a high peak in the Salmon River Wilderness of Idaho in the early 1980’s, and then after that an occasional  firefighter as part of my duties with the U.S. Forest Service. I would like to think that I know just a little about wildfire, though I hate to imagine the panic and abject terror they must have felt as the flames overtook them.

Wildfire can put a fear in you like no other natural force on earth, and I have felt that fear firsthand.  Fighting fires is an unnatural occupation, but one, nevertheless, that must be done. I would not be exaggerating to say that I have sweated and toiled alongside some of the most dedicated and indomitable people the planet has ever known. I became a far better person as a result.

Once, so many years ago, I called in a small lightning strike from my perch atop the mountain and then  watched in utter amazement as a dozen smokejumpers hurled themselves out of a perfectly good airplane, only to land in  a field of jumbled boulders and dead and dangerous snags for their troubles. They successfully contained the fire over a 24 hour period, without rest or sleep, and then humped their gear through snarled terrain to an exit point a few miles away. Those observations continue to influence my opinions on what it means to be “tough”.

Who would do that? Who would risk their lives to save oak brush and pinion and homes, often against impossible odds? Why did I do it?

That answer has never fully come to me, and it is far too easy to put myself in their boots. This could have been me. It might have been me, dying down in hot winds and flame, under some not so different circumstances. I feel for them. I grieve for them. They are my brothers, and sisters, who have left us behind far too soon.

Fire will have its way once it makes up its mind, and there is nothing to be done for it but to get out of its way. They did try, we know that they tried, but only nature and god knew their fate in advance. And though I cannot speak for them I would like to think that their soul’s may find some comfort in knowing that the South Canyon Fire and their ultimate sacrifice changed forever the way that wildfires are managed and fought.

Fire, in its infinite wisdom, consumes all that is presented before it. It does so  without judgement, malice, or aforethought, no matter what we may believe. But life returns, and wildfire is also the great rejuvenator. It cleanses with impossible heat and complete conviction, and clears the way for new growth and replenished habitat in an endless circle of beginnings and endings.

skeeze / Pixabay

In this case it created many hundreds of acres of mule deer winter range, and in the end, improved wildlife habitat for a multitude of creatures. It would seem far too small a compensation for so many human lives gone, but then, who am I to say? I am but one man, often so lost, in such a vast and unpredictable universe. Perhaps it is not for me to judge what is right and what is wrong, fair or unfair, nor to fully understand the true meaning of it all.

It took me twenty years to visit this place; to brace myself for the painful journey. I did not know them. I never met them, to my knowledge. But, I do feel them there, watching. I hope that they are not too sad, and that they do not miss this world so much. I pray that they feel some peace in knowing that they were doing some great things in the world, on that mountain of storm. I have no doubt that they never felt more alive, fighting for what they believed, in that wild and untamed country that they loved.

I know that there were hunter’s among the group, and I hope that they approved of my visit. I came to hunt deer, for myself, and for them. I came to honor the offering of kindred spirits, and bow my head in reverence. I hope that they were able to feel some of the joy that I feel when I hunt, a free man with a rifle on his shoulder and miles of unexplored territory ahead.

They remind us that life is precious, and short, and that any time spent hunting where there is still room left to roam is not to be taken for granted.

We will not forget.

May they rest in peace, with eagles overhead, and mule deer, and wild beings, and life, all around, forever.

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“In storm and cloud and wind and sky, In heart and mind and hand and eyes, A bond still binds too strong to tell, All those who flew with those who fell”. – Anonymous. Found on the Plaque at The Storm King Memorial

“Time is the hunter of all men, and no one knows this better than we do. That knowledge gives us perspective, and direction. A hunter is never lost in this great big world, not in life, nor even in death… “- Michael Patrick McCarty

 

A list of the firefighter names who died during the South Canyon Fire on a Plaque at the Storm King Memorial Trail Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
In Memorium

By Michael Patrick McCarty


 

Glenwood Springs, CO, June 8, 2002 — In Glenwood Springs, CO, the monument to the 14 fallen firefighters in 1994’s Storm King Fire stands as a sentinel in front of this year’s Coal Seam Fire…Photo by Bryan Dahlberg/ FEMA News Photo

You can read more about the Storm King Fire and Other Fires Here

Below, are a few excerpts:

“For many of the specially trained crews that battle mountain wildfires in the American West, it was a blaze that made it more acceptable for firefighters to speak up or even decline assignments they consider too dangerous—once a rare occurrence that could result in a firing or ostracism in a profession that requires aggressive, type A personalities. No official report articulated that change, but among many firefighters it was an understood lesson of South Canyon.

The South Canyon blaze, which scorched 2,115 acres, accelerated technical advances in battling wildfires, from a new generation of fire shelters—small, protective “mummy” bags carried by firefighters that can be their defense of last resort from flames—to improved communications. “Immediately, we all had radios,” said one South Canyon survivor, Eric Hipke.

South Canyon also sparked more scrutiny of fire officials’ decision-making and strategies in battling deadly fires, and led to changes in the National Weather Service’s fire weather forecasting division, which doubled its number of fire weather forecasters and found ways to deliver up-to-the-minute weather information—including crucial details about wind, which can fuel a fire and its direction—to forecasters in the field. (Related: “Overwhelming Cause of California Wildfires: Humans.”)

After South Canyon, “incident meteorologists became rock stars,” said Chris Cuoco, the meteorologist whose accurate prediction of a dangerous weather shift during the South Canyon Fire never reached the firefighters on the mountain.

It’s widely accepted within the firefighting community that these and other lessons of the South Canyon Fire have saved lives during the past two decades. Even so, the dangers of fighting wildfires in the hot, dry summer remain real”.

From an article by By John N. Maclean

—————————————————————–

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

https://steemit.com/hunting/@huntbook/mule-deer-and-memorial-at-storm-king-mountain

Mule Deer Under Mother Mountain

Nikon D3400 DX-Format DSLR Camera Body with AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR Lens, Black – Bundle with 16GB SDHC Card, Camera Bag, 55mm UV Filter, Cleaning Kit, Software Package (Electronics)

Before the D3400, you chose your smartphone camera for convenience. Zooming was clumsy. Shooting in low light was nearly impossible. Capturing fast action was a game of luck. But after the D3400, you’ll see that you were compromising image quality. That some of the greatest photos happen when the light is low. That fast action can be frozen in perfect clarity. And that a camera and a smartphone can work together in harmony to make the photos you share absolutely amazing. Stunning simplicity Photos and videos captured with the D3400 and a superb NIKKOR lens are as vibrant and lifelike as the moments they preserve. Shoot in extremely low light without a problem. Freeze fast-action in its tracks. Create portraits with rich, natural skin tones and beautifully blurred backgrounds. The photos you share will amaze everyone even yourself. Camera, smartphone and cloud in perfect harmony SnapBridge has changed the way cameras and smartphones work together and only Nikon has it. Take a picture with the D3400 and it’s automatically transferred to your compatible smartphone or tablet, ready to share. SnapBridge works seamlessly with NIKON IMAGE SPACE, a cloud storage and sharing site, to back-up your photos and to help you create and share albums with your friends and family. The future of photo sharing is here.

New From:$446.95 USD In Stock
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A Mule Deer Buck Stands Under Mount Sopris, Located In The Elk Mountains Range In The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Near Carbondale, Colorado
Mule Deer In The Heart Of The Mother. Photograph By David Massender

 

The Ute Indians called her “Mother Mountain”, because of her twin summits; the Roaring Fork Valley’s early settlers knew it as “Wemagooah Kazuhchich,” or “Ancient Mountain Heart Sits There.”

No matter what name you use, Mount Sopris, located in the Elk Mountains Range near Carbondale, Colorado provides one of the prettiest vistas in the rocky mountains.

Without a doubt, her heart beats strong. The Mule Deer feel it too.

And maybe it’s just me, but it’s even prettier when Mule Deer are standing below, and upon it.

Just saying…

And I can’t think of a more spectacular place to hunt! I plan on doing just that, very soon.

Good Hunting…

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

Photographs Courtesy Of David Massender

 

A Small Group Of Mule Deer Enjoy The Fall Colors Under Mount Sopris (Mother Mountain), Located In Pitkin County Near Carbondale, Colorado
Living Is Easy Before The Snow Flies. Photograph By David Massender

 

You Can Read More About Mount Sopris Here

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In Defense Of the Pigeon

Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail: Upland Birds and Small Game from Field to Feast (Hardcover)

A comprehensive, lushly illustrated cookbook devoted to preparing and cooking upland birds and small game, both wild and domesticated, from the author of the award-winning website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Game birds have always held a high place at the table, whether it’s a hunter’s prize of roast grouse or the turkey we all eat at Thanksgiving. Pheasants, quail, rabbits, doves, grouse and more – these are singular species with grand culinary traditions that offer the cook an unmatched range of flavors. Many cooks fear the fowl, however. Lean and athletic, game birds, rabbits and hares can dry out in a hurry. Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail shows you how to cook small game like a pro: perfectly crisp skin over tender breast meat, melt-in-your-mouth braises and confit, stews, sausages, and more.

Hank Shaw, an award-winning food writer, hunter, and cook at the forefront of the wild-to-table revolution, provides all you need to know about obtaining, cleaning, and cooking birds ranging from quail to pheasant, turkey to dove and beyond. Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail also covers a range of small game animals such as rabbits, hares and squirrels. You’ll find detailed information on how best to treat these various species in the kitchen, how to select them in the market, as well as how to pluck, clean and hang wild birds. Shaw’s global yet approachable recipes include basics such as Roast Pheasant and Buttermilk Fried Rabbit; international classics like Tuscan Hare Ragu, French Rabbit a la Moutarde, Mexican Turkey Tamales with Pumpkin, and General Tso’s Pheasant; as well as unique dishes such as Roast Woodcock Michigan. It also features an array of small game charcuterie, from fresh sausages to confit and terrines.

The most comprehensive guide to preparing and cooking upland birds and small game, whether domesticated or wild, Pheasant, Quail Cottontail will be a valued companion for hunters as well as home cooks looking for new ways to cook store-bought turkey, rabbit or quail.

What’s more, every purchase of this book helps our wild habitats. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold will go to help the non-profit conservation efforts of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, which will use the money to restore, maintain and expand habitat for all upland birds.


New From:$28.00 USD In Stock
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By Hank Shaw

“A pigeon, any pigeon, is a remarkable game bird. It is faster than any other bird we hunt, tougher than most, and is a treasure at the table. Call it “squab” and people will happily drop $35 for an entree at a fancy bistro. But call it “pigeon,” and people start judging you and your life choices.

I am here to say that pigeons, especially our native band-tailed pigeon, ought to be as cherished as the mountain quail and blue grouse they live among. All three are symbols of the Sierra, of early autumn days spent hiking dusty slopes, ears tuned, neck craned, shotgun ready. They are hard-won birds, to be cooked with reverence”.

You Can Read The Full Article Here  or at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

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And, let me add that I could not agree more. Pigeons of all kinds have always fascinated me, and to be honest they are largely responsible for my shotgunning skills, such as they are.

I have yet to hunt for band-tailed pigeons, but I can tell you I hope to try that sometime soon. They will be on the dinner table too, providing I can get lucky.

I’ll keep you posted…

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Antelope Down – And It’s Always a Thrill

August 2018

 

A Hunter Poses With A Pronghorn Antelope, Taken In Northern Colorado With A Hoyt Satori Traditional Takedown Recurve and Easton Axis Carbon Arrows. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty
First Kill With The Mighty Recurve

For the last several years I have been fortunate enough to figure out how to hunt a pronghorn, somewhere, to start off my annual bow season. It’s a fabulous way to warm up for elk, or mule deer, or whatever else that you may be after.

They are one of my very favorite animals to bowhunt, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, if you hunt them over the right waterhole, under the right conditions, you can just about be assured that you will have  a fine old-time.

Set up correctly, and it is generally not a question as to whether you will have a shot, or not, but more of a question, as to when. It will probably be a chip shot too.

I have spent a considerable amount of time in my bowhunting career looking over many a good buck, looking for just the right one. There have been years when I have been mighty particular, and that mostly means that one will be spending a lot of time in a very hot, uncomfortable blind.

A Double Bull Wide Deluxe Ground Blind By Primos, Set Up Over A Waterhole While Bowhunting For Pronghorn Antelope In The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Home Away From Home

I’ve learned a lot about them, up close and personal, and I never grow tired of watching them. They are a magnificent creature, and for them I have nothing but great respect.

With that in mind, I can tell you that my opinion as to what qualifies as a great buck has come a long way too. For now, I can make a case that any buck’s a good buck, in my humble opinion.

Why do I say that, you might ask?

Well, the answer is quite easy on that one – and I’ll come right to the point. Just stick a fork in one sometime and you’ll know all about it too!

It is my very favorite of all big game meats, and I can almost never wait to get some tenderloin spattering in a hot, heavy pan.

Time to heat up the stove, right now…

Best,

Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“Long ago I learned that my hunting is not just for meat, or horns, or recognition. It is a search for what hunting can give me, an effort to win once again that flash of insight that I have had a few times: That swift, sure intuition of how ancient hunters felt and what real hunting – honest-to-God real hunting – is all about. It is a timeless effort to close that magic circle of man, wildness and animal”.

John Madson, Out Home, 1979

Back In A Tree – For Me (And The Elk)

A Young Bull Elk Walks Down A Well Used Elk Trail, Underneath A Treestand While Bowhunting In Western Colorado. Photography By Michael Patrick McCarty
I’ve Got You Now!

Once I was a kid set loose to stalk about the northeastern deer woods, and I learned very early on that one did not even think of hunting up a whitetail without first finding a proper tree overlooking a well used trail.

I miss those days completely.

Lately, I have been spending some quality time on a comfortable cedar limb within a few downward yards of freshly laid elk tracks.

With luck, I will find an elk standing in a print of its own making very, very soon.

It has reminded me just how much I enjoy communing with the birds, and it definitely opens up some new challenges in my elk hunting world.

Can treestand hunting for elk be effective?

You bet, under the right set of conditions.

And one thing is for certain when all things come together. You can rest assured that you will have a shot, and it will be a good one. After all, it’s where you place the broadhead that counts the most, and anything that you can do to make that happen is a good thing.

I have not been able to unleash an arrow just yet – but I will certainly keep ya posted when I do!

Wish me luck, until then…

 

The Hoyt Satori Traditional Takedown Recurve, With Selway Arrow Quiver Attached. Seen From A Treestand, While elk Hunting in Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Is There Anything Better Than Hanging Out In A Tree…

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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“When a hunter is in a treestand with moral values and with the proper hunting ethics and richer for the experience, that hunter is 20 feet closer to God.”

Fred Bear

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August 29, 2018

 

A Close-Up Game Camera Photograph of A Cow Elk From Northwestern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Watching You Watching Me

 

Bowhunting for elk brings along its own very special set of joys, and mostly pleasant miseries, and my hunt so far this year has certainly been no exception.

The weather has been hotter than Hell’s own glowing brace of hinges; the lack of moisture unprecedented. Add to that an unusually voracious and seemingly endless raft of pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes that descended from the devil’s own desert, and you can begin to grasp the parameters of this particular flavor of outdoor fun.

Still, my summer scoutings and game camera recordings have been fruitful and very enlightening, and increasingly hopeful. The elk trails had been well-worn, and you might say that I felt that I had their fairly regular patterns pretty well dialed in, at least as well as anyone can when it comes to out guessing an elk.

That was, of course, until opening day of this years Colorado archery season, just a very short time ago.

All tracks and other elk sign evaporated completely about one week before season, leaving me completely dumbfounded and at a loss for words. Still, I had faith, and as many of you know one thing an elk is really good at is covering a lot of territory.

After all, they would be back.

Right?

The first few days were elkless, and I returned home for a short, but restless  break.

Then, on  the night before last, I left the house at a much too early hour and arrived at my hunting area in time to change out my footwear, grab my gear, and gain a comfortable perch in my favorite tree stand. I could barely contain my anticipation as the shadow light of the moon waned and the day transitioned to that magic hour known so well to bowhunter’s everywhere.

 

A View From A Treestand While Elk Hunting In Northwestern Colorado, With A Hoyt Satori Recurve And Selway Arrow Quiver In Foreground
Just Me And My Hoyt Satori

 

Blame it on the blood-sucking horde, my sleep deprived eyes, or my too-heavy-for-an-older-man-pack, but it was then, and only then, that I discovered why I had felt so unsteady and disjointed on the rocky trail.

Looking down, I was more than shocked to find but one boot on my left foot, and silly me, a low topped walking shoe and mismatched sock on the other. No wonder I had felt like I had wanted to make a circle as I stepped along, with one leg shorter than the other, however slightly. I don’t believe I have ever done that before, and if I had, I surely would not admit it now, pride being what it is and all.

Well, thought I, if that was the worst thing to happen this day than I shall howl into the oncoming day, but not just now anyways. Time to get ready for my upcoming 15 yard broadside shot, though the elk packing might prove a little challenging under the circumstances!

I knew from monitoring my game cameras that the elk would show by 8 a.m. or not at all, and my full length bug suit did it’s best to preserve some blood in my body as I waited valiantly on. But, as you may have guessed, it was simply not to be.

So it was back to camp for breakfast and a refreshing jug of iced coffee. Time to shelter up from the relentless sun and live to fight another day. But first, I decided to make a slight detour and check the camera at my other ground blind location.

The Double Bull Double Wide Deluxe Ground Blind By Primos, Set Up Overlooking An Elk Trail During Colorado's Archery Season. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Ready For Waiting

Truth be told this particular setup was my favorite among the two, and my hunter’s intuition had told me to hunt it this morning. Never doubt the “spidey sense” is my motto, and I do my best to honor whatever premonitions are graced my way.

Unfortunately, the morning wind would not cooperate, blowing steadily from the north instead of from its more usual southerly direction. Facts are facts, and one of the most important of them all is that you will never fool the nose of an elk.

Hence, the tree, for me…

And of course, no doubt you have already guessed it. The elk had already arrived, four or five bulls and a cow for sure, just an hour before – and gone, and I would have had a lovely shot, had I been there, one boot or not.

Two Bull Elk Cross In Front Of A Game Trail Camera in Northwestern Colorado in During An Early Season Bow Hunt. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
A 32 Yard Shot At The Big Guy, Or 14 Yards At The Other – Had I Been There…

I knew of this big bull too, and there is a snapshot or two of him in my in my growing photographic collection. He’s a handsome specimen – most obviously big, and heavy on the hoof.

I would surely love to see him again, under slightly different terms and conditions. The season’s young, though I am not, and maybe, just maybe, we shall cross our paths again before the end.

Only the fates can say.

If so, may the arrow fly true and sharp, and the elk and the glory of pursuit live on forever. Yet, for now, what can one do, but lay the head back, and laugh. For after all, I am bowhunter – and I’m used to it.

I will, however, make doubly sure to be fully dressed, …next time.

 

A Large Bull Elk crosses In Front Of a Game Camera In Northwestern Colorado During The Early Archery Season. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Gone From My Life Forever – Or Maybe Not!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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“I will still his mighty bugle if it is willed. I’ll claim him as a trophy if my puny arrow flies true. But he will always be the unattainable; with the mountain, the fog, and the silent stones”

Billy Ellis from “Hunter To the Dawn”.

Colorado Muzzleloading Memories

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Bowhunting has always been my passion and the bow and arrow my weapon of choice. I might add that it is now coming on fifty years too!

Occasionally though, I have toted around the powder and ball.

Here’s a long-lost photo from the early 1980’s, taken in the middle of an epic rain storm on an elk and mule deer hunt on Red Table Mountain.

The bucks were huge and the elk were plentiful, but I’m afraid that the weather won the day on this trip. I also learned, forever, what it means to “keep your powder dry”.

I did, however, bring back a bucketful of memories.

And I can truly say, that those were indeed, the days…

 

 

An elk and mule deer hunter in northwestern Colorado poses on the deck of a small hunting cabin, somewhere on Red Table Mountain in the mid 1980's. Michael Patrick McCarty
A Dry and Warm A-Framed Port in The Storm. Photograph by Kevin McBride

 

A muzzleloader hunter poses for the camera in northwestern Colorado, about to set off for elk and mule deer on Red Table Mountain in the mid 1980's
It’s All Blue Skies For A Hunting Man. Photograph by Kevin McBride

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“Some men are mere hunters; others are turkey hunters”.

Archibald Rutledge, From Those Were The Days, 1955

May 2018

My plump and healthy 2018 Gobbler, taken in the ever-better turkey country of Northwestern Colorado.

Maybe, just maybe, I am really getting the hang of it after all of these years…

 

A Hunter Poses With A Large Male Wild Turkey, Taken in Spring 2018 With A Shotgun and a Heavy Turkey Shotshell Load in Northwestern Colorado
I Don’t Believe I Will Ever Lose The Thrill Of Standing Behind The Bird!

 

A Wing of a Wild Turkey, Harvested in Northwestern Colorado in the Spring 2018
An Early Morning Prize

 

A Close-Up Photograph of the Wing and Body Feathers of A Male Wild Turkey
Wild Feathers of Iridescent Beauty

 

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