Category Archives: Woodcraft and Outdoor Skills

Woodcraft is an Art; skills can be learned or developed. Both require study and practice, and they may save your life.

Wilderness and Backcountry Skills Woodsman

A Traditional Triad For Today’s Archer

Like many things in the world of sporting gear, the choice of a proper fitting bow, arrows to match, and the appropriate accessories to make it all work well together is a highly selective and personal choice.

It can also be a bit intimidating, for the combinations available in today’s bowhunting world are virtually limitless, if not mind-boggling.  One person could not possibly try out even a small fraction of the more popular products, though it would surely be a whole lot of fun to try.

So what’s a conscientious and inquisitive bowhunter to do?

Well, my strategy of late has been, in many ways, to return to the archery days of my early youth. Mine was the days of Fred Bear and Frank Pearson, to name just a couple of the more obvious icons. It was long before Mr. Allen, or Mr. Jennings, appeared on the scene.

To be honest, I had already given up on those things with wheels a few years back, along with many other items of the mechanical kind. Not that there is anything wrong with that type of equipment, and power to you if you prefer the compound bow and some miscellaneous gadgets. It’s just no longer my particular cup of tea.

Still, it took me several decades to fully and unapologetically embrace the fact that I simply love the elegance and simplicity of the stick and string. In my view, archery has always been much more about art and intuition than science, or physics. Pull it back and let it go, I say, and watch the arrows fly.

Today’s modern recurves can offer all of that and more, with some remarkable engineering to go along with it. They can also be shot with surprising precision.

Lately, my current setup consists of a 60″ Hoyt Satori Traditional Recurve at 50# draw weight, Easton 340 Axis Traditional carbon shafts (with three pink 4″ parabolic cut left-wing feathers and Fred Eichler Custom Cap Wrap from Three Rivers Archery), and a 200 grain Helix Single Bevel Arrowhead (in left bevel to match the left-wing feathers).

I chose a Selway Archery Quick Detach Quiver to complete the package.

The Satori is available in several riser and limb configurations, and in this case I selected a 17″ riser and a shorter limb package which works very well in the confines of a  ground blind or tree stand.

If pressed, I might agree that the 50# draw weight may be a little light for a big game animal like an elk, but then again, perhaps not.

I am a big believer in the use of heavy, weight forward shafts. With that in mind, I have attempted to compensate for any draw weight deficiencies by adding a 75 grain insert up front, with a big chunk of steel on the pointy end. The end result is about 610 grains of quick and unadulterated death.

However, as you might guess, it is pretty slow by compound bow standards, and it is definitely a close range affair. But in the end it is very stable, quiet, and target bow accurate. It also hits very hard, with penetration to spare.

As you can see from the photos below, first hand experience has shown me that the combo is very effective on big game from pronghorn to elk, for example. Both of these animals were literally dead on their feet when the broadhead hit them, and were recovered within one hundred yards of the shot.

I could ask for nothing more…

Good Hunting!

 

A Hoyt Satori Traditional Recurve, Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows, And The Helix Single Bevel Broadhead By Strickland's Archery. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
A Deadly Bowhunting Combination

 

Easton Axis Traditional 340 Carbon Shafts . Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Nicely Colored – And Even More Effective

 

An Easton AXIS Traditional Carbon Arrow, With 3 Pink 4" Parabolic Cut Left Wing Feathers, and Fred Eichler Custom Cap Wrap. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
A Lot Of Tradition In This Traditional Shaft

 

The Single Bevel Helix Arrowhead By Strickland's Archery, In Left Bevel. In This Case, Matched With Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows And The Hoyt Satori Traditional Recurve Bow. Photography By Michael Patrick McCarty
A Broadhead That Means Business

 

A Hoyt Satori Traditional Recurve Bow, With Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows, Helix Single Bevel Broadheads, and A Selway Archery Quick Detach Quiver. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Something to Hold Them – A Selway Archery Quick Detach Quiver

 

A Bull Elk Harvested During Archery Season In Western Colorado, Taken With A Hoyt Satori Recurve Bow, Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows, Helix Single Bevel Broadhead, and Selway Arrow Quiver. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
There’s Nothing Better Than Bowhunting Success!

 

A Bowhunter Poses With A Pronghorn Antelope Harvested In The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado; Taken With A Hoyt Satori Traditional Recurve Bow, Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows, Selway Arrow Quiver, And A Steelforce Broadhead
A Perfect Setup For Pronghorn Too!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

You May Also Like Fedora Bows

“If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an ‘artless art’ growing out of the Unconscious”.

Eugen Herrigel

 

Zen in the Art of Archery By Eugen Herrigel
It’s all About the Zen

We generally have a copy of this keystone archery title in our bookstore stock, if so interested.

Easton Axis Traditional Arrows with 4″ Feathers (6 Pack), Brown, 340 (Sports)

Easton axis shaft made specifically for the traditional archer. Constructed of high strength carbon-composite fibers with a wood grain finish. Straightness tolerance of +-.003″. available in sizes 600 (7.2 GPI), 500 (8.1), 400 (9.0 GPI), and 340 (9.5 GPI). includes x nocks and hit inserts. Factory fletched with 4″ feathers.

New From:$80.68 USD In Stock
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Fedora Bows – More Than A Match For Any Game

A FEW WORDS ON MY WEAPON OF CHOICE

 

“A custom made, traditional bow is like a fine musical instrument in the hand. And no, not all recurve’s are created equal. Targets or game, just ask any Fedora shooter”.

 

A 560 Hunter Takedown Recurve by Mike Fedora of Fedora Bows. A Fine Example of a Custom Bow for the Archery and Bowhunting Enthusiast.
A 560 Hunter Takedown Recurve by Mike Fedora

 

Not all hunting bows are created equal, and that can certainly be said of my 64″ 560 Hunter Takedown Recurve built to order by Mike Fedora more than 20 years ago.

A friend who is a martial artist and fellow archer was duly impressed when I handed it to him last week. He realized immediately that he was holding something special, but what he said was not what I expected. He called it a “bow of war”, which gave me pause since I had never looked at it that way. I tend to evaluate it along more artistic and romantic lines, but I suppose I can see what he means. There is no doubt that this bow means business, and it has the look and feel of a serious broadhead delivery device.

Close-up View of the Bear Razorhead Broadhead, with Insert. A Go To Bowhunting Broadhead for the Traditional Archer.
The Razorhead by Fred Bear – My Bowhunting Broadhead of Choice Since 1969

With a draw weight of 73# at 29 1/2″, it is in fact somewhat of a battle to get it back to anchor point. As you may know, recurve’s do not break over to a lesser hold weight as you complete your draw, as do most modern compound bows. What you’ve got is what you get, right to the end, and anything over 70# can really get your attention. I also tend to stay at full draw before releasing much longer than the average bowhunter, an ingrained habit left over from my target shooting days that really does not make shooting it any easier.

So, at the risk of stating the obvious, you might say that I am a bit over-bowed at this time in my archery life. It’s not the bow’s fault, however, because it draws smoothly and doesn’t stack. The real problem lies in the fact that it was built for a much younger, and stronger man – which I no longer am. Still, I can manage to get by if I work my way up to it by staying in shape and shooting some lighter bows during the year.

It’s particularly good at mid-range and longer yardages, and for me it is point on at a more than surprising 70 yards. It casts a heavy arrow too, and very few recurve’s are capable of delivering that kind of punch downrange.

It is a joy to carry in the wide open spaces and rugged terrain of the west, and to be frank, it has become an old and trusted friend. Most importantly, it also tends to hit where you are looking, more often than not.

It just may be the perfect recurve for a mountain goat hunt, or big bears, or moose, or whitetails too.

I can’t wait for my next bowhunting adventure. In the meantime, I think that I will order a second, lighter set of limbs – just in case…

———————————————————————–

Built For Business - More Than A Match For Mountain Goats and Bears. The Custom Fedora Hunter Takedown Recurve, the custom choice of traditional archers everywhere.
Built For Business – More Than a Match For Mountain Goats and Grizzly Bears

I should also take this time to give credit where credit is due, with heartfelt thanks and some long overdue praise. Mike Fedora has been a master bowyer for more years than most in his stock-in-trade, and I won a lot of tournaments with his target bows in the 1970’s too. I simply can’t say enough about the man and his line of archery products.

If you are looking for a traditional bow of beauty and unparalleled quality that will stand the test of time, than look no further than Fedora Custom Bows. You will be so glad that you did.

You can contact them by clicking on the link here.

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like A Traditional Triad.

 

Bear Archery Traditional Bows: A Chronological History (Hardcover)

To the Bear Archery traditional bow enthusiast and to the archery community at large, this book Bear Archery Traditional Bows: A Chronological History (1949-2015) represents a singular compilation of the chronological history of Bear Archery traditional bow production through the Bear Archery Company’s full timeline. This illustrated reference manual not only preserves the history and heritage of Bear Archery traditional bow production since 1949, it serves as a helpful reference to any and all archers interested in collecting and dating their vintage Bear Archery traditional bows. Each chapter covers a detailed chronology of factory production specifications for each specific bow model or group of related models. It includes photos of bow models for almost every year. The best part is this: at the end of each chapter, there is a table that allows readers to search out the characteristics of their bow by year, AMO length, riser material, medallion, limb glass colors, overlay colors, limb tip colors and where applicable, the two-digit serial number prefix.


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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.

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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…

The Big, Bad-Bore .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Strikes Again

RCBS .30-378 Weatherby Magnum F L Die Set (Sports)

RCBS .30-378 Weather by Magnum 29501 2-Die set 7/8 inch -14 threads. Hunting reloading dies. Made of the highest quality materials

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“More than most American game animals, the pronghorn, by virtue of the terrain he inhabits, is genuinely the rifleman’s quarry of choice”. – Thomas McIntyre, Dreaming The Lion, 1993

 

October 2018

 

A Trophy Pronghorn Antelope, Taken At Long Range With a .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Rifle In Southern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Pronghorn And The 30.378 Weatherby Magnum – A Perfect Match

As you can see, the Pronghorn would appear to be dying of advanced age in Southern Colorado, unless of course they run into a fast-moving bullet first.

Mike Kite took this gnarled, old warrior at nearly 650 yards with a 30-378 Weatherby Magnum and a 180 grain handload. It has been his cartridge of choice for many years, and with results like this it is easy to see why.

Congratulations Mike, on another fine Colorado big game trophy.

The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Mark V Rifle With Synthetic Stock, High Powered Scope, And Bipod. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
A Long Range Weapon To Contend With

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

You Can Read More About The .30-378 Here.

You Might Also Like In Praise of the .30-378 Weatherby Magnum

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:Check Amazon For Pricing In Stock
Release date: November 6, 2018.

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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!

Careless For Just A Second Can Get You Killed

Spot Satellite SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger – Orange SPOT-3ORANGE (Misc.)

SPOT 3 SATELLITE GPS MESSENGER ORANGE

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July 18, 2015

karpartenhund / Pixabay

 

I took a seriously bad fall yesterday while scouting for mountain goats, and boy, oh boy…Did That Hurt! I might also add that it still does.

It is generally best to stalk a goat from a position directly above them, and my goal had been to locate a new approach route to the goats I had been scouting this summer. The climb to the peaks above them seemed almost impossible from any direction, but I had to try. Bowhunting almost always has a way to add extra dimensions and complications to the affair.

My approach this day was stopped cold by what appeared to be an almost impassable boulder field of jagged and unstable rock, and you might say that I had probably pushed it harder than my conditioning up to this point would allow. It also became obvious that my balance and confidence in such matters is not what it once was either.

There were some other facts on my mind too. Just two years ago a goat hunter died in the Maroon Bells not far from where I was standing, and that tragic information was never too far removed from the landscape around me. He had been successful too, but then fell from a cliff while packing out his goat.

Still, I wish I could blame what was about to happen on muscle fatigue from the long hike to get there.  Or I could blame it on the loose rock and the steep downhill grade of my return trip.  But the fact is, I was simply moving to fast for trail conditions and I got careless.

Careless in this kind of country can get you hurt. Careless for just a second can get you killed. In this case I was very, very lucky. I simply got hurt.

It happened so fast that I was part way down the hill before I had a chance to worry about my future prospects. I remember the sound my boot made as it scraped the gravel and my feet flew out from under me. I remember feeling my back leave the trail as I began my roll down the slope and through the boulders. I remember the sickening feeling that comes when you know that you are in for a hard landing and there is nothing to be done for it except to accept and absorb the pain and punishment of your bad mistake.

https://www.flickr.com/people/53986933@N00

 

Maroon Lake at peak fall color in late September on the White River National Forest in Colorado.Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest is the top recreation forest in the nation. Home to world-renowned ski resorts and the birthplace of Wilderness, the White River has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. It is located in game management unit 12, and home to a huntable population of rocky mountain goats,, with limited hunting permits.
Maroon Lake at peak fall color in late September on the White River National Forest in Colorado.Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest is the top recreation forest in the nation. Home to world-renowned ski resorts and the birthplace of Wilderness, the White River has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast.

 

I wish I could say that I somehow escaped all of that in the end, and I did for the most part. It was over in just a few seconds, and when I landed in the trail under the sharp switch back above I could have shouted for joy that the terrible rolling had ended. That is, if, and only if, had not the wind been partially jarred from my lungs.

I didn’t stay on the ground long though, and I was on my feet and moving down the trail before the dust settled. I couldn’t tell you why I jumped up so fast – perhaps it was my way of pretending that what had just happened could not possibly be true, and if I walked fast enough I could leave the consequences behind.

geralt / Pixabay

 

It didn’t take long to discover the blood trickling from my left elbow, nor the sharp twinge that gradually appeared in my right knee. I did my best to shake it off and ignore such minor inconveniences, for after all, it could have been far, far worse.  And I still had 2 1/2 miles to hike to reach the parking lot and the aspirin bottle I so craved.

That was yesterday, and today I remain battered and rock bruised with a knee that screams for ice and elevation. The knee is my biggest concern, although I think, and pray, that it is just a moderate MCL sprain and nothing worse. The aches and pains and other wounds will heal, but I would not be honest if I did not say that I am more than a little concerned. With luck I will fully recover before it is time to do it all for real.

Flickr/Rob Lee

A few things I know. A hunter’s fate is determined by his relationship with, and actions upon, the mountain. It probably would not be a goat hunt without a fall of some kind somewhere in the mix, and hopefully I have now had mine. A man’s knee will lose a battle with a rock each and every time, and I am probably not the first person that these goats have observed bashing themselves upon the boundaries of their bedroom.

Perhaps that tired old euphemism is true, sometimes, and what did not kill me will make me stronger. I have been initiated upon the altar of stone, and may now have some protection against further mishaps. My boots will be set down more precisely from now on.

No matter what happens, blame cannot be placed at the feet of the goats. They are just being goats, and what becomes of this insignificant, two-legged animal is not their concern. They know as well as any creature on earth the perils of miscalculation, and the mortal ramifications of a misstep. They live with those truths for practically every breath of their life.

So,…please,…be careful out there. There are limits to our abilities, and realities within our desires, and sometimes one step is one step too far.

Careless in this kind of country can get you hurt. Careless for just a second can get you killed.

I will be sure to remember that, as soon as I can bend my knee…

A photograph of mountain peaks taken high in the maroon bells-snomass wilderness in colorado, home to rocky mountain goats and other wildlife and open to limited permit mountain goat hunting
It’s Beautiful, But Oh So Treacherous…

By Michael Patrick McCarty

*It took over a month to begin to start some light walking on my knee, and another two weeks before I could begin to hike in the mountains again. A little too close to opening day before I was able, but I did heal, and I did hunt.

You way wish to take a look at the end results HERE

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Update: July, 2015

We have some very sad news to pass along, for as you may have heard by now a man and his young son  were killed by lightning this week near West Maroon Pass in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

My heart goes out to the family of the victims, and it leaves an ache in my belly that I can’t fully quantify.  Lord knows, I have been in fear for my life many, many times as the sky blew up and the lighting cracked all around me. Death can visit the most experienced of mountaineer’s in an unexpected and blinding flash.

You are truly oblivious to reality if you don’t have one eye on the heavens when hiking at high altitude in the Colorado mountains. It is a stark reminder of just how precious, and fleeting, our time on this great blue ball can be.

God be with them…

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* There are now reports that carbon monoxide poisoning  may be the true cause of death in this case. It may be several weeks before the test results are released.

**It has now been confirmed that they were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from using their camp stove in an enclosed space (July 28, 2015)

 

Teaching Your Kids About Hunting

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Teaching Your Kids About Hunting

 

A man and his young son walk the grasslands while hunting birds and upland game
Carrying On a Family Tradition

 

Children and hunting are two of the greatest joys in life. What better way to have the best day than combine your two favorite things? While teaching children about hunting might prove to be challenging, it is also one of the greatest lessons you can teach your kids as well as one of the most rewarding for you. Here are a few tips to get started.

 

Put Safety First

Hunting is dangerous, so when teaching your kids, make sure they get the message. Teach your child the responsibility of handling weapons, and practice with them before hitting the woods. Remind your kids that hunting might be fun, but it isn’t a game.

 

Get the Gear

You and your child should be outfitted for the hunt, from your boots to your hat. Don’t forget lots of orange (see the safety point above). Purchase quality gear from trusted retailers like Carhartt, and enjoy it for years to come.

 

Be Patient

Remember what it was like when you were learning to shoot a gun or throw a ball? Your child will be experiencing the same things as you teach them about hunting, so be patient. Also, don’t withhold praise. If they are doing a good job, let them know.

 

Be a Role Model

Children love to do whatever adults do. It’s the plight of childhood. Be the type of hunter you want your children to be. Part of being a great hunter and role model is keeping a positive attitude. Whether the deer get spooked or the shot isn’t aimed perfectly, stay composed and positive. There will always be more deer, but you can’t replace a moment to teach your kids about positivity.

 

Teach Conservation

Hunting isn’t just about bringing home the venison. Hunters are conservationists, and that plays a huge role into the sport. Teach your child about harvesting only what they need as well as the balance of giving and taking. Explain how hunters play a role in population control and what you can do to ensure these animals, as well as the land, trees and vegetation, are still around for their children.

 

Connect with the Outdoors

Hunting is more than making a kill. It’s about connecting with nature. Encourage your kids to take everything in, from the birds chirping to the wind in the grass to the vines growing up the tall oaks. You could even take a minute to enjoy nature and discuss the hunter’s role in maintaining the ecosystem, from keeping the balance to not disturbing nests.

 

Make a Tradition

While we love passing down a good hunting tradition, you can also use this time with your kids to create new traditions. It will make the hunt even more special to the kids, and it will be a great tradition they can pass down to their kids.

 

Look Forward

Children are the future of hunting. It is our responsibility as adults, mentors and parents to teach them the right way to hunt. This way the tradition of hunting can be passed down through the generations.
We love hunting, and we hope the next generation carries on our longstanding traditions for years to come. Good luck with your young ones, and don’t forget the camo!

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

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And of course, get your Carhartt on!

Some Basic Mountain Mulemanship

A pack mule poses in front of the colorado peaks, on a elk hunt. View from Red Table Mountain, near Basalt
Mule Over Mountain – A Stunning View From Red Table Mountain in Colorado

There is no better way to hunt elk or mule deer in the high Rocky Mountains than by horseback or mule, yet working with pack animals is fast becoming a lost art. Still, there are still some diehards out there, so hats off to all of you pack-in hunters.

Mountain hunting holds a certain romance and allure all its own, and a large part of the experience depends on how you get there. Some prefer horses, others say that mules may be better. But then again, I think I will stay out of that argument.

Still, from what little I know about mules, they always seem to be playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers. They are definitely smart, and so sure-footed too! As many of you know, that can be particularly comforting when your life literally depends on the careful placement of hooves on stone.

Check out this short video for some basic tips.

 

– Video courtesy of Dave Massender. See Dave’s Youtube Channel Here.

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Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

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Forget Your Aspirin? – No Problem, There’s Always Willow

Hunting, fishing, and other kinds of outdoor fun may have little in common with a bottle of aspirin, but not from my somewhat jaded point of view. A rugged outdoor lifestyle can leave some marks, and at this point in my sporting life I can barely imagine one without the other. It is a small price to pay for a lifetime of wild rewards.

Perhaps I have more nagging and bothersome pains than most, but then again, perhaps not. I just know that I have some issues and several points of contention with my otherwise healthy body, like a little toe that likes to remind me at every step that it is not so happy on a steep uphill grade. Or a neck and lower back that tend to tighten, burn, and throb after a short hike with any kind of weight in my pack.

We all have them, those little nicks and troubles. We nurse them along and suffer through the pain and inconvenience of it all. Making the best of it is the outdoor way, but what  do you do when diet and exercise or body treatments haven’t helped?

Call me trite or unimaginative, but I choose painkillers. Nothing too strong of course, just a couple of  small white pills…the breakfast of champions… a little marine candy…, and more coffee, always coffee, if I can get it.

The problem is I tend to forget it more often than not, a sure sign that many of my springs’ have already sprung which is one of the reasons that I needed the aspirin in the first place.  I usually realize that I forgot it when I am far enough from the truck for my body to finally remind me that I can’t be without it, while at the same time being too far from it to endure the pain to go back and get it. Or something like that.

This can lead to a long, uncomfortable day in the field, wincing at every step while promising my burning brain to never ever ever forget such a small but crucial little item again…until next time that is.

Some things in life are simply not fair, and rarely do they change.

So, if you are like me, take heart. The remedy may be right under your nose, where is exactly where you will want to put it…and it’s called “Willow”.

 

Nature's Pain Killer
Nature’s Pain Killer
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Smething to Chew On