June 26, 2009

Alberta 2009 Video

Alberta Black Bear, from the stand. One point of clairification, the "ping" you hear after the shot is not from the Z-34.....that is actually my lower bow limb hitting the bottom of the stand during follow through. Enjoy....

June 13, 2009

June Preparation......

Ahhhh, June is here and man is a good month. It means the September Elk hunt is less than 3 months away. The month of September has quickly become one of my favorites because it holds fresh mountain air, bulls a bugling, and with any luck, back breaking meat trips out of the deep dark canyons of Colorado. Pup and I just heard on our Colorado draw results and although we didn’t get our first choice, plan B is in effect.

So with the month of June comes the time to get serious and kick it up a notch. The first item on the list was one I have been contemplating on since I left Colorado last year. My tent situation. Pup and I shared a tent last year and although sharing is a good way to cut weight, it can leave one guy in a real pinch in certain situations. Not wanting to hinder our chances we decided we had to be able to operate on our own. This left me the task of finding a one man tent.

Diving right in I started analyzing different makes and models. I knew I needed a one maner that was light, affordable, and most of all something that would hold up. Trust me when I tell you the last thing I need to worry about is my gear. For the record and I’m being totally 100% honest here…..that is why I shoot a Pearson, carry a Badlands, shoot Trophy Taker, and wear UA. I don't have time for something to go wrong 7 miles into the backcountry. If it does, I'm wasting a day and a ton of energy to correct it.

So I looked and looked and after much discussion finally settled on the Nemo GoGo. The GoGo is small and light at a packed weight of just 2.5lbs. Probably the most interesting feature of the tent is it’s basically “poleless”. In place of traditional poles, it uses a single, small, circular air bladder for structural support. The air bladder needs just 7 psi to work and inflates in about 1 minute. Start to finish you can be in the tent in about 5 minutes. The Nemo showed up on my door last week so Big O and I broke it out. The set up was pretty easy, with the exception of corralling Big O, and it is exactly what I’m looking for……one more item checked off the “to do” list.

The second order of business and one that really never stops is to continue to prepare myself physically. Just Sunday, I hit the trail for 2hrs, 41mins & 17 miles of mud and hills. For me, (and I know this is not true for everyone!), I truly believe that success, sprinkled with a little luck, is a direct product of both physical & mental preparation. And again, for me, this is about the best training there is. Hitting the trail and pounding out the miles up and down hills only to come back 3 hours later broken down, muddy, and down right exhausted is perfect prep. If pain and misery on the trail will be bring me closer to success in the mountains then sign me up, I’m all for it. I want to put my body and mind through enough torture that when it comes time to hit the mountains there is no stop and no failure. It’s all out, pedal to the metal 137%. I made a pledge to myself the first time I went West that I would never come home empty handed due to my lack of drive or effort. I promised myself to leave it all on the mountains. Every ounce and every drop of energy I had. So to this I push on to be the best bowhunter I can be. That’s why I do what I do….period….to strive, to drive, to push, to be the best bowhunter I can be. Stay tuned, 33 days left until the BT50K.

June 7, 2009

Alberta Bear Hunt - 2009

I have always been a believer that things seem to happen for a reason. Many times in my life I have questioned why, only to find out it's all part of the master plan. Case and point the bear hunt 2009.

4 years ago my father and I planned this hunt and were originally scheduled for May of 2008. Gladly and in a hurry, plans changed when I found out that big O’s due date was the same week I was to be gone. I got on the horn and flipped the hunt to 2009. Fast forward a year and some change to May 22, 2009, the day of departure for Alberta Black Bear.

To be honest the bear hunt had really been the farthest thing from my mind. Between work, life, RFTT, and the marathon, preparation got thrown in on the side. Shots from the Pearson Z-34 were done when ever I could get a free moment, and literally I mean whenever. Between big O, work, training, and RFTT, I would be in and out of the house at night 4-5 times thrown’ arrows. It seemed like I could just never quite beat the sun, jamming arrows in at last light.

The Z-34 was shooting great. Fast, quiet, smooth, and ready to be put to the test. Arrows were fletched, spun, and ready. Bags were packed and repacked. And most all, the ThermaCELL was stocked.

Our scheduled called for a bush flight out of Fort McMurray where we would be hunting along the Athabasca river system. We hit the airport, loaded the gear, and we were off. This was to be the last leg of our journey before landing in camp with Pat and Lorne Garrett of Garrett Bros. Outfitting.

Once in camp we unloaded the gear and got settled. My first course of action, pull out the Pearson and hit the range. Straight out of the box the bow was shooting great busting dots out to 60. After talking some bear strategy we grabbed a quick bite, threw on the gear, and headed for the stand.

For the first night I drew Fuzzy, a stand north of camp about 17 miles. We loaded up the Ranger, turned north, and headed out on the hour drive through the bush. Sat down in the stand at 5:30pm. It wasn’t long before first bear came through. It was a small boar anxious and willing to take on the world. He came through about 7:00pm and was back and forth until around 8:00pm.

As I sit there over the next couple of hours thinking about life and how nice it was to see a bear already on the first day I looked over at Aaron (filming) and said, “have you ever been in the stand when just a huge pig of a bear was taken?” He responded with a “nope, never been that lucky.” Little did we know in 5 minutes our luck was about to change.

It was 5 minutes till 10 and we had an hour left of daylight. I looked at my watch, put my arm down, and turned my head to the left when I caught movement. I caught a glimpse of a big, blonde, back end of a bear moving on the trail. Before I could even turn to Aaron and say a word he said “big bear”, we both had seem him.

As the bear moved I moved to grab the Z-34 behind me. He was moving and reached the intersection of the trail into the stand and stopped. My mind went crazy, I looked for an opening to sneak an arrow through. As I was scanning frantically to find a hole he made the turn. He was coming.

I couldn’t believe it. The bear of a lifetime was coming and my heart was ready to beat right out of my chest. I clipped the release and readied myself for what was going to be a shot of a lifetime. A shot on a bear like this is not one I probably can ever expect to get again. Like a big mature whitetail, every step was thought out before he took it. He would take 3 steps and stop. Walk 4 steps and stop. It seemed like it took him an hour to cover the 20 yards I needed him to.

His path would have him entering the opening from my left. When he finally reached the end of the trail into the opening he was 8 yards from the tree and slightly quartering to. He came into the opening, took 3 more steps and even though neither Aaron nor I moved a muscle, he looked straight up at us. He had us pegged. He looked up, looked down, and started to turn around. I guess he didn’t like the sight of seeing two guys sitting in a tree with Pearson in hand.

As he turned I drew the Z-34’s R2B2 cams to launch position as he stopped to look back. At this point he was quartering away and I was on it. I centered the bubble, placed the pin, and pulled the trigger. The arrow disappeared as he busted from beneath us. The big boar ran out the same way he came in before disappearing in the woods. The last noise we heard were sticks breaking and then silence.

As I sit there everything starts to replay in my head. Did I have the pin where I wanted it? Did I get a pass through? Where is my arrow? Why didn’t I see him fall? Before I even had a chance to answer any one of those questions the shakes started. I have never had the shakes that bad, they were to the point I couldn’t control them. Aaron started shaking as we played back the video to watch the shot. It was perfect.

As we sat there almost busting out of our skin we started to discuss our exit strategy. After about a half an hour we decided to get down, look for my arrow, and see what kind of trail we had. Before we even made it to the ground Aaron looked over and spotted the arrow. There it was lying on the ground covered just the way you like it.

We slowly worked our way out trying not to make a sound. One thing that had me worried was that I didn’t see him fall. As we stand there on the road deciding if we should keep going we both thought we heard a stick break. I looked at Aaron and he looked at me as we were both questioning exactly what we heard. Not knowing for sure we decided to back out and come back in the morning. There was no way on earth I was going to push this bear. If he was lying there at the moment we were deciding what to do, then he would be lying there in the morning. As much as I didn’t want to, we left and headed for camp.

That night once back in camp I found out that Dad had also taken a nice bear. I couldn’t believe it. This is the 2nd trip in a row that dad and I have taken bears on the same night. His was also caught on video and I watched as dad drilled his bear absolutely perfectly. We were all ecstatic. Going to bed that night all I could think about was that bear. Would be laying there in the morning? Why didn’t I see him fall? I replayed the video over, and over, and over, looking for the placement of the shot. It looked perfect.

Morning came and the plan was to grab a quick bite and then head out to find my bear. We loaded up and headed out on the longest 17 mile trek of my life…..to say it took forever was an understatement. Once there, I grabbed the Z-34 and we started on the trail. Before Aaron and I had left we had marked a big, brown stump as the last place we had seen him. Now, after 12 hours, we were standing back at the stump.

We found the trail and started in. Step by step we could see where the big bruin had been. 10ft, then 20ft, and then before we even made it to 30ft, I heard Aaron yell “there he is”……he was not 30 yards from the spot that Aaron and I had stopped the night before.

As we walked up to the bear I cannot explain the emotions. This bear is awesome. A big beautiful blonde that will go over 19 inches P&Y. A true bear of a lifetime.

The rest of the week was spent hanging out, enjoying camp, and trying to find dad a big shooter. One night we built a ground blind for pops. The plan was for him to hunt off the ground and I was going to video the action from above. We had two bears come in that night but neither were shooters, although the action was anything but dull. We got great video of a nice boar not 3 yards from dad with only a few measly tree branches separating the two. Truly an awesome experience…..and I was in the stand!

All in all, the trip was one to remember. Dad and I both took beautiful bears and trust me when I say that was the icing on the cake. Just being there and spending a week together, in the bush, and bowhunting is something I’ll cherish forever.