Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hunting Success

Ben's 350 pound Northern Wisconsin black bear
 Dealing with Ron's passing and the abrupt change in temperature and wind put any fishing on hold for the last couple of weeks.  What's been interesting is the amount of hunting stories my friends have sent me in the last week, each one was impressive.  Because Ben sent this in first, I'll start with him.  Ben is my good friend Kevin Aiona's son.   Knowing him from birth, at the time he was the youngest person ever to set foot in my boat.  I remember when we were fishing the spring walleyes below the dam in Alma Wisconsin, Ben was about 3 years old and I had just gotten my 1985 Lund Pro Angler, complete with an actual functioning live well.  Having caught a number of fish, Ben had to go to the bathroom.  Rather than disrupt the entire trip, we opened the live well cover and continued fishing.  Today I still laugh about it as the Mississippi River wasn't much cleaner!  Ben has turned into quite a fisherman, hunter, and today owns Aiona Heating and Air Conditioning, a well respected company servicing the Eleva area.  I am sure he's finding that owning a business sometimes leaves little time to do those things that you enjoy however he has managed to get away now and then.  Having a bear tag in Wisconsin means work.  With the hunt-able population over an hour north of Eleva, one has to have contacts to help bait your stand as bears are almost impossible to hunt without.  Wisconsin also allows the use of dogs to hunt bear and if you are lucky enough to know someone, it can be quite successful.  Apparently Ben wasn't able to get anything to his bait but did get hooked up with a group that had dogs.  After tracking a nice one, Ben got the opportunity to bag this huge 350 pound black bear.  Every year someone might get one over 400 pounds but the average in Wisconsin for all bear taken is about 180 pounds.  He is having a shoulder mount done and I am excited to see it when he gets it back.  With duck hunting in full swing, archery deer approaching it's peak, you can be assured Ben will be in the field somewhere.

Big Dave's Wyoming 6 x 6 Elk Bull

Next is my good friend Big Dave Pedersen.  Also from Eleva,  he and his wife Mindy own Pac Basic, a packaging company in Eau Claire.  Like Ben, I have known Dave for a long time, his dad was Pastor Pete, who presided over Eleva Lutheran Church.  Dave is another great outdoorsman and is quite the fisherman and hunter.  One of my best Mille Lacs fall trip was with Dave, we left work one weekday afternoon in September and within a couple of hours casting Rattlin Rouges must have caught 15 walleyes including a couple over 28 inches. Dave often travels to Idaho with his friends to archery hunt elk with my uncle Jerry.  This year Big Dave did a fully guided trip into the Wind River area of Wyoming with 5 other guys.  After driving 18 hours the guides loaded up the horses, all 27 of them for the 8 1/2 hour trek 24 miles back into the high country.  There they would set up camp, hunting daily in the surrounding area.  Dave shot this magnificent 6 x 6 bull a couple of days into the hunt, a trophy for sure.  Once it was packed back to camp he spent the rest of the time helping others as well as fishing the mountain streams that were full of large rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout.  He claims that the fishing was excellent, worth going back just for that.  The total tally was 5 bull elk with the 6th guy passing on a nice one, looking for something bigger.  Dave has the cape and horns in storage, debating whether to do a full shoulder mount or a European style mount.  I think he should do the full mount!  Nice job Big Dave!

Brett's "goat"
 The third trophy comes from my friend Brett Jelkin, who is also an engineer in our Loveland Colorado facility.  Brett loves hunting as well as competitive shooting and probably puts more 10 times more lead through a barrel in a year than most of us do in a lifetime.  An avid deer hunter, Brett hunts both Colorado and in his home state of South Dakota, he also tries to get an elk every chance he gets.  To get a Pronghorn tag in Colorado is a waiting game.  You need to apply, accumulate preference points, hoping that one day you'll be one that is chosen.  This year was Brett's opportunity as it would be only the second tag in 14 years and as he would say......a goat tag for the Pawnee Grasslands, northeast of his home in Windsor, Colorado.  Brett took me prairie dog shooting in that area one year, something I had never done.  My longest kill measured 346 yards with his modified 243 caliber rifle.  It's an interesting place covered with scrub cactus and sagebrush.  Posting on a fence corner near a windmill and water tank it took about 45 minutes for this buck to show up.  Antelope are quite wary and he bagged this one as it was trotting away from him, a 165 yard clean shot.  Brett is probably the best shooter I know and will not take a shot unless he is 100% confident.  Of course it paid off with a nice 14.5" base to tip, 9" inside tip to tip, and 15" at the widest spread, maybe he doesn't think it's huge but I'm impressed!  He has promised me some antelope steaks and I'm going to hold him to it.

The weather is predicting the first real rain we have had since the first of August.  They are saying over an inch, we'll see but we sure need it.  Everything is popcorn dry and I am getting concerned about the amount of soil moisture for the tree's, assuring their survival over the winter.  The garden is hard as a rock and I doubt it would be much fun rototilling it.  My tractor is being fixed and hopefully it will be available before the ground freezes, I'd like to try the disc out on the garden.  The next 2 weekends are full with weddings and celebrations as I have volunteered to take pictures.  Hopefully I can squeeze a trip to Mille Lacs in there somewhere.  The water temperature should be perfect!

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