Blizzard Buck

 

 

 

When hunting mule deer in November in Montana's high country, weather can move in quick changing your hunting conditions nearly immediately making glassing impossible and the terrain downright dangerous. Jim Brennan and I encounterd this dangerous type of fast moving blizzard, the kind that I had never before encountered.

 

We had been warned that once the fog rolled into the valleys and cooleys, it was easy to get disoriented and turned around and sometimes, you just have to encounter it to believe it. The storm was settling in and the fog was freezing to everything, the camera equipment, the rifle and even our clothing not only making everything slick and dangerous but also taking visibility down to nearly nothing.

Three days, 18 inches of snow accumulation in some areas and negative 15 degree temeperatures later, the storm broke. Jim and I were freed from our hotel prison. When these types of storms break, they can cause a gleeful excitement within any hunter, no matter how cold it is. The deer that have held up in heavy timber will be out and about in search of food and water. The bucks having been pushed out of the high country will be in pursuit of hot does.

A cold so bitter it bites through exposed skin like a 1000 tiny needles can't slow down the determined hunter and determined we were.  Skyline on the ridge back stood a stunning sight, a wide, mature buck milling around the snow and eventually out of sight. Jim and I knew that we could close the distance on the majestic buck as all of the conditions were in our favor. We found that the buck had nestled down in a drainage surrounded by does and distracted as he showed off tearing up brush with his antlers.

Creeping into position at less than 100 yards, Jim set up to take the shot as I said a silent prayer that the camera would keep rolling and not freeze while Jim took the shot of his lifetime. Our patience had once again paid off...Jim had taken the buck of his lifetime and I was privledged enough to share the experience with him, all caught on camera.

The elements of this hunt were brutal by anyone's standards but the rewards were boundless. Memories created that will last my lifetime, recalling the bitter freezing cold, freezing equipment and two friends that stuck it out to fulfil a dream on the mountain. 

 

 

 

 

Team Elk Montana Mule Deer

 

 

 


Hunting rutting mule deer bucks in November in Central Montana is one of my favorite hunts and coupling that with hunting for RMEF's Team Elk television show with my good friend Jim Brennan was icing on the cake.  

The Central Montana landscape is  rolling with grassy hills and scattered buttes that speckled with mostly Douglas Fir. Montana is also the home for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and to it's credit RMEF has completed 742 projects within the state alone, permanently protecting nearly 200,000 acres of land and enhancing over 500,000 acres of land.

Covering expansive rugged terrain at elevations nearing 7,000 feet, our strategy was to gain elevation and get a good vantage point letting our optics do the walking for us. On this hunt, spotting bucks was not our difficulty, the deer numbers were plentiful, spotting a mature buck on the other hand took a little patience.

For days, we played a game of "Spot, Stalk, Bust..." with a blizzard on the way, the winds were less than ideal and extremely unpredictable. Stalk straegizing was extremely difficult without a true wind, doubling that difficulty with expansive, wide open terrain.  The bucks were cagey keeping at a solid 500 yard distance in the wide open unapproachable landscapes. One day in particular, I sat and watched a stunning shooter buck for 5 hours without anyway to stalk on him. I literally had to watch him disappear into the timber, never to be seen again.

My love of hunting is all about the hunt itself, being out in the elements, breathing the fresh air, the cold wind biting at my cheek's, the sting felt on my hands and fingers when I take off my gloves, testing myself and my skills as a hunter. The reward of the hunt are the memories that last forever. I will never forget when a rag horned bull literally ran 70 yards below me panting, oh the irony of Murphy's Law, elk tag in hand, wrong unit. These are the moments, the what if's, the close calls that I live for, these times are what bring me back to the mountains year after year.

Perseverance paid off for me when Jim spotted a group of does feeding within a cooley. Just above the does lay a mature buck watching them from a distance. The buck was bedded in a stalk able position that also afforded me the luxury of cover. I was able to creep within 350 yards of the bedded buck and settle in a solid prone rest to make the single perfectly placed shot. My dream mule deer hunt had finally come true.  
 


 

 

 




 

Cabela's Ulitmate Adventures Mule Deer Hunt



 


 
The allure of hunting mule deer bucks in the rut is undeniable. My dad's business associate and friend Randy McGuffin spent a couple of weeks on the Titus farm in Oregon watching the frenzy of the mule deer rut and decided that he HAD to hunt rutting mule deer bucks. In search for the perfect outfitter, I immediately thought of Brent DuBois of A/Z Outfitters one of my favorite hunting territories in the world. Truly unique one of the last road less h unting territories in the East Kootenay Mountain Range of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.  

 

 


In years past, Brent has gone 100% on mule deer, granted he does not boast of 200" bucks, but of nice mature deer and life long memories. This was the perfect place for Florida resident Randy and my dad Lewis who had never been on a guided hunt. All of the excitement had me going and I decided to invite myself and Cabela's Ultimate Adventures television along for the amazing journey.
The adventure began right away...dad and I had gone through three weeks of paperwork and vet checks in order to bring along our own livestock for the trip just to find out at the border that our documents were not prepared correctly by our vet and the mules could not cross the border. Three hours of discussion and inevitable defeat, we ended up backtracking and boarding our mules state side so that we could continue our journey into Canada.

 

One of the things that I love the most about hunting with A/Z Outfitters is the feeling of going back in time, staying in one of the three cabins along the Dutch Creek trail, the horses and of course the wonderful people that help make your dream hunt a reality. Along the trail you are almost certain to see Moose, Mountain Goats and Elk, not something most have even had the pleasure of encountering. 

I love riding up that long trail, to places where few men have traveled, a place that is truly wild. Unfortunately for us, the snow started to fall our first night and did not stop until we left five days later. Our high country mule deer hunt plans were fouled by Mother Nature with nearly 5' of snow accumulating in the high country in a matter of days. The bucks were no where to be found and from our best guess were held up in heavy timber somewhere between their fall ground and winter range. 

There is no such thing as a guaranteed hunt and what I love about hunting with an outfit like A/Z, what you are guaranteed is a remarkable experience and fond memories that will last your lifetime.
Click here to view the entire photo gallery.

 

 

 

 

Dream Bull in Colorado

 

 



Dreams can become a reality as I discovered on my most recent hunt in Colorado with RMEF and Team Elk...

After a 21 hour drive to southern Colorado near Trinidad, I was greeted with open arms by Barry O'Neill of Call of the Wild Outfitting. I was in for a real treat on this hunt as I was joined in camp by not only one but two other lady hunters, Lorri Chester and Sharon Shetley.

  I have hunted my entire life to put my hands on the antlers of a bull such as the one I took on this trip. The meat will feed my family throughout the year and the memories created will surely last my lifetime.  Sharon and I tagged nearly identical bulls but  Lorri was holding out for her dream bull, coming close on at least one occasion to the 360 of her dreams but didn't quite get the shot she needed.
 
The O'Neill ranch is an 8500 acre private ranch that is part of the Las Animas County 62,667 acre conservation easement with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Barry has worked in cooperation with RMEF to enhance the habitat on this ranch specifically for the benefit of elk and other wildlife.

It was an unbelievable experience hunting on the O'Neill Ranch with Team Elk and getting to see first hand the positive impact that RMEF makes towards conserving habitat and ensuring the continuation of our hunting heritage. Thank you RMEF, Barry O'Neill, Steve & Colin O'Neill, my guide Johnnie Hamilton, Lorri's guide Marty Pachelli and Scott & Lorri Chester for helping my dream bull become a reality. I can't wait to share with all of you exactly how this dream hunt unfolds next year on the Team Elk television show.  



 



 

RMEF & Shoot Like A Girl


Shoot Like A Girl was founded by Karen Butler in an effort to provide women the opportunity to test out mulitple bows. Karen and Cristy are dedecated to empowering women to participate in shooting sports with confidence. I could hardly wait to get in the field with these two ladies as they are reaching THOUSANDS of women every year!
We were outfitted by my good friend Jim Brennan of Dog Creek Outfitters so I knew that we were going to have a bunch of fervent bulls on the mountain waiting for us. My personal goal for the trip was to come along and help these ladies have the best rutting elk hunting experience possible and I definitely think we achieved that goal!
 
I was able to call in a 300 class 6x6 to Karen as close as 14 yards (he was 10 ft. from me) and Cristy a nice 230 class 5x5 to 25 yards. You will have to watch season 3 of Team Elk to find out exactly what happened.
If you or someone that you know is interested in getting into shooting sports and the outdoors, be sure to send them in the direction of Shoot Like A Girl. 

 

 

 

Oregon Archery Elk Success


There is nothing that I love more than hunting Elk in Oregon with my family. James, my dad and I all teamed up this year for an action packed public land, DIY archery elk hunt. We work as a team when hunting together with one person designated as caller and two are set up as shooters allowing more potential shot opportunities. We go through a rotation so that we are all given equal opportunity on bulls. My dad was up as caller and in comes a beautiful 5x6 to James offering a perfect 35 yard broadside shot. We were all thrilled with taking this beautiful bull home for our team. Please see photo attached.
Two days later, we located another couple of bugling bulls right at dark in a location that I had been scouting for over 2 years. We went back the next morning with my dad once again as caller and this time me as shooter. I texted my dad who was above me roughly 80 yards pretty detailed instructions on how I wanted him to call as both bulls clearly had cows. Around 10am the bulls quieted and bedded down, so I decided to sneak down into the bedroom of this herd of elk.
I settled in what I guessed to be roughly 60 yards from the bedded elk and waited for them to begin to mill around. Once I heard the elk get to their feet, I crept over to the bull and was in a perfect position for a 30 yard shot. I self filmed taking a shot on the beautiful 6x7 at 30 yards. I put a solid hit on the bull and watched him jog by me at 25 yards with my arrow buried deep in his side.
My arrow did not pass through the bull and left no blood trail to follow beyond 50 yards except the three spots we found where he had paused to cough up blood. We could not find my bull that day, or the next.
We never stopped looking for my bull knowing he was out there somewhere. Another hunter ended up finding my bull and literally watched my dad and I walk by him while he packed my bull off the mountain. We were less than 100 yards from my bull and didn’t know it. I continued my search for my bull even after the season was over and one random night I received a phone call from an acquaintance who knew the hunter that took my bull home.
Apparently, after the hunter that took my bull home heard my story from this mutual acquaintance and how devastated I was and how I was STILL looking for the bull, he made the decision to return the antlers to me. I have attached a photo, they have been cut to look like sheds by the other hunter in some strange attempt to make removing them look more legal which it clearly was not.
In the end, my shot had taken out a single lung and the liver of my bull allowing him to travel less than ½ mile from where I shot him with no way for me to find him before the bears and the other hunter. The pain from losing my bull this year still stings.

 

 

 

 

 

RMEF & Outdoor Dream Foundation Team Up


This past weekend thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Outdoor Dream Foundation, Stimson Lumber Company, the Tillamook Chapter of RMEF and many volunteers, I was honored to share an incredible hunt with a 13 year old boy named Wyatt. Wyatt is from South Carolina and was born loving the outdoors. He has been fishing with his father long before he could even walk. At the age of 2, Wyatt was diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoma and underwent two years of treatment. Thankfully, today Wyatt is currently in remission from cancer.
The Outdoor Dream Foundation contacted RMEF corporate headquarters to help make Wyatt’s dream Elk hunt a reality. The local Tillamook OR chapter stepped up to also help make that dream a reality by arranging lodging, meals and volunteers that made this trip feel like coming home. Stimson Lumber Company provided the ground to which Wyatt was able to hunt elk and some fantastic guides and mentors. The expenses for Wyatt’s flight as well as his mother Crystie and father Darrin were also covered by RMEF and the Outdoor Dream Foundation. Team Elk was able to support Wyatt with gear from many of the show’s sponsors even including a new .308 from Browning! Outside supporters include Tim Christensen from Christensen Taxidermy for donating a shoulder mount complete with delivery to Wyatt’s home in SC.  Realtree donated Wyatt’s clothing, Columbia River Knife donated a knife with case and Jerry & Morna Bastain hand-made Wyatt a very special quilt with the RMEF insignia.
On Saturday September 1st, Wyatt’s dreams of harvesting a Roosevelt Elk came true when he took aim on a beautiful 6x7 bull scoring just over 290.  I cannot begin to explain the gratitude that Wyatt and his parents felt. Through thick and thin this family has stuck together to over-come the battle for Wyatt’s life. To see them all together with a light hearts, smiling, laughing and enjoying the Western outdoors disease free was something that I will never forget.
A big enough thanks cannot be given to those who support the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Team Elk and the Outdoor Dream Foundation. Without all of you and the countless volunteers, these dreams would not become a reality for kids like Wyatt. Together, we are ensuring the continuation of our hunting heritage and a legacy that will last forever. 

 

 

 

 

 

BC Stone Sheep & Mountain Goats

 

 

 

 
I am in Northern British Columbia right now coming off a 13 day backpacking Stone Sheep and Mountain Goat hunt. This has been an incredible journey with a crew of great people. I have been hunting with guides Bryan Martin of Canadian & Asian Mountain Outfitters and Chad Miller.
On this trip we saw Caribou, Moose, Mountain Goats and Stone Sheep while hiking from 3000-7500 ft elevations. When we began our hunt we had a 2 ½ day hike just to reach our hunting location experiencing sun, rain, more rain, thunder storms and snow while hiking over numerous mountain tops through glaciers and rock fields. All of our efforts were heartily rewarded. I filmed a hunter take a 10” Mountain Goat and a 43 ¾” gross score 170 Stone Sheep.
I was even able to film and harvest a 9” Mountain Goat at nearly 7000 ft elevation. He is a bit worse for wear in the photo after an approximate 300 ft fall down the mountain. To book this hunt contact Aaron Fredlund at Fredlund Guide Services 403.638.1368
Attached you will find a few of my favorite photos. To view the entire album click the link here on my facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mikyla Jahnke Oregon Rio Grande Turkey Hunt

 

 

 

17 Year old Mikyla was the lucky winner of the Youth Turkey hunt that features a two day Turkey hunt on private property. An extra thanks goes out to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls, Montana Decoy, Team Elk for your generous donations and support.

 

In April, volunteer Jeff Heil, myself, Mike Jahnke, and Mikyla were successful in calling in and filming Mikyla while she took down a beautiful turkey. Way to go Mikyla!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon DIY, Public Land Spring Bear Hunt


 
This was the first time in several years that I did not tag a Spring bear. I spent and amazing 8 days in a public access road closure area in the rugged Western Oregon Mountains. The first three days of the hunt, I brought along my 52 year old friend and first time hunter Sharon. The rain was pouring down and it was COLD. Making the best of the trip, we did quite a bit of scouting in the back country and we were able to determine some great hunting areas that had all the makings for great bear habitat; steep rugged Western slopes, thick heavy cover, open clear cuts loaded with grass, numerous water sources and lots of game populations such as Roosevelt Elk and Blacktail Deer.
The next three days were spent hunting with James Kussman. Having successfully scouted and located some extremely remote, road less areas, our first day out was rather successful. That first night we made a spot and stalk on a gorgeous chocolate bruin and set up to take the shot at a mere 300 yards when along came her tiny twin cubs.  The next day we encountered no bear, but did manage to get 25 yards and some incredible footage of a herd of Roosevelt Elk in a clear cut and located a really nice solo 4x4 bull.  James even managed to find a nice Roosevelt shed antler.
The final three days, I spent solo. I was able to stalk within 10-30 yards of four different Blacktail bucks a series of clear cuts and attain some great video footage. On my walk out one night, with the wind in my favor, I nearly walked into a black bear as I was heading down the closed road. He was hidden within in the thick black berry vines and reprod and even being less than 10 feet from the bruin, I could only hear him run off and never got to see him. Later that same night, I saw another bruin funneling through the thick brush and vines, only to see his face and never receive a clear shot or a decipherable shot as to his body angle.
After glassing clear cuts without much success at locating a bruin, my last night bear hunting, I returned to the location where I had nearly walked into the bruin on the road. The bear had been clawing trees and shredding bushes in a territorial display, so I was fairly certain he would be in the area. I brought along my Montana Fawn Decoy and set it up alongside the closed road and proceeded to do a series of cow/calf distress calling with my diaphragm call with the hopes of drawing in the territorial bruin without luck.



 

 


 

No-Off-Season Long Range Shooting School

 

 Socrates pretty much sums it up with “The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.” 
Most nights, I fall asleep imagining how my upcoming fall hunts are going to transpire. Some nights, I imagine bugling bulls rutted out charging and screaming in to my fervent cow calls and other nights I imagine lying prone on a heavy blanket of snow taking rest on a swollen necked mule deer buck.
These are the moments that I live for, that I love, from hunting success, to haunting memories of a close call or should have been. Good or bad, these moments are what drive me to become a better outdoorsman each passing year.
In preparation for an action packed fall hunting season and opportunity for all of these dreams to come true, not only for myself but for the companies that I serve; the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Team Elk television show, Swarovski Optik, Cabela’s, Under Armour and Realtree. Having taken a long hard look at my current skill level, I have settled upon a few specific skills that could use some sharpening. 
Practicing proper prone positioning.
First on the list: Marksmanship. Being proficient at making terminal hits at various yardages is the key to my fall hunting dreams coming true. 
To begin my journey towards precision marksmanship, I picked up the book “Hunters Guide to Long Range Shooting” by Wayne VanZwoll and when I finish that book, I will read “Dead On” by Tony M. Noblitt and Warren Gabrilska. 
 After having read a good bit of my long range hunting book, my enthusiasm could not be contained any longer. I wanted to learn more information and get behind the gun more quickly, which lead me to contact my cousin Tim Titus and his son Ben. They are predator and varmint hunting experts that specialize in “putting more fur in the truck and executing more first round hits” and have a great outfitting business (www.no-off-season.com).
Fortunately for me, Tim and Ben had a three day opening in their schedule that would allow me to make the short drive to Eastern Oregon to get some hands on training with the expert shooters of the Titus family. 
Tim took my desire to become a more proficient marksman to heart and was in full on classroom mode upon my arrival with a pre-determined curriculum that included discussions in relation to:
  •  Ballistics
  •   Bullet Drop
  • Ballistic Coefficient
  • Wind Doping
  • Sighting In
  • Equipment & Gear
  • Shooting Form 
  •  Trigger Control 
  •  Mental Tips 
  • Minutes of Angle 
  •  Tips on Angled Shooting 
  •  Trajectory 
  •  Basic Reloading 
  •  100 & 200 Yard Range Work/Benchrest Technique 
  •  400 Yard Gongs/Prone Technique 
  •  650 Yard Varmint Hunting
Chronographing to determine the actual muzzle velocity of the rifle for my drop chart.
My first afternoon was spent in the classroom, but I was rewarded with some evening trigger time doing some sighting in at 100 & 200 yards and working on my benchrest technique. I was thrilled to get a 1 Minute of Angle (MOA) group at 100 yards with my Howa .243, that is until I shot Tim’s .204 and shot a .4 MOA group at 100 yards. 
1 MOA Group with a factory Howa .243 & factory 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips

 

.46 MOA Group with a Cooper Model 21 .204 firing handloaded 39 grain Sierra Blitzking
The most important lesson that I learned my first night was to know your specific rifle’s limitations. Each rifle barrel prefers a specific bullet/weight/powder combo based on a myriad of factors and will perform differently based on those factors. You can only shoot as well as the rifle you are taking aim with is capable of performing. Many factory rifles like my Howa .243 will simply not perform better than a 1 MOA group at 100 yards. 
With that being said, I proudly posted on facebook my 1 MOA group from my Howa .243 as that is a “tight” group for that particular rifle using factory ammo and without making aftermarket modifications.
The second day, Tim rattled my brain with the introduction of MOA calculations. Ben even gave me a “Pop Quiz” to test my comprehension and possibly math skills. I proudly passed his quiz with a 100%. 
Kestrel 4000
While Ben and I spent a few hours at the reloading bench working up some custom loads for my .243 and testing them on the range while practicing technique and shooting 200 yard gongs with a head wind, Tim set me up for a challenge. 406 yards on a 10” gong with a full value cross-wind. 
Using a Kestrel weather data center and the Shooter cell phone application, I entered the bullet type and weight, muzzle velocity, temperature, elevation, humidity, and wind value to attain the solution (MOA scope adjustment needed) for the 406 yard shot. 
The end result was first round hit, nearly dead center and subsequent 1 ¼ MOA group. I can’t begin to tell you just how excited I was as this was the most accurate I had EVER shot at 400 yards. 
406 Yard Gong 1 1/4 MOA Group- Swarovski Z5 3,5-18x44 with BT/Factory Remington Model 700 .300 Win Mag, Timney Trigger/ Factory 185 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips
 
Our final morning was spent wrapping up classroom discussions on shot angle and trajectory before we celebrated my “graduation” with some long range rock chuck hunting. I could hardly wait to get in the field and apply all of my newly acquired long range skills on real targets.
The Rock Chuck- A football sized target, is the perfect marksman challenge, at any range.
My first opportunity on a rock chuck came with a steep uphill shot into a quartering wind at 211 yards where I quickly sent this chuck flying through the air with a terminal first round hit. Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic!
The next rock chuck appeared at 270 yards on the edge of a rock face with a slight uphill angle. Making the needed adjustment for elevation on my Swarovski Z5 BT scope and holding slightly to the right of the rock chuck, but still on fur, to account for windage, I made another first round terminal hit on my target! 
At this point in the day, I felt that my graduation gift had been delivered and I had already exceeded my expectations in marksmanship. After watching Tim and Ben terminate a couple of rock chucks at 650 yards, I was appreciating the value of an accurate shooting rifle, quality optics and good technique as they are all important at ranges under 400 yards, but there are additional considerations that come into play that are invaluable at ranges outwards of 400 yards.
Information is one of the biggest keys in long range success.  Using tools like the Kestrel weather data center to attain the current temperature, level of humidity and windage, and having an reliable program like Shooter to attain the solution to long range shooting is a must for success. 
With some degree of urging from Tim, I set up to take my ultimate test….650 yard rock chuck. Taking into account all of the needed factors for success, my first shot was sent down range and ending up passing slightly over my intended target. Tim was my trusted spotter, and urged me to dial down my turret for the second shot as the rock chuck had not moved from his position. My second shot was sent down range and still slightly high. 
At this point, I played the mental game remaining focused on my target that was still standing in the same place. With another slight turret adjustment, I sent my third shot down range with the final words of wisdom from Tim “aim small, miss small” when my bullet slipped into my target launching it into the air. 
Before the day was over, I am proud to say that using the Kestrel weather data center information and inputting it into my Shooter program to attain the solution for a successful first round 650 yard hit on a rock chuck, once again launching it into the air!
Thanks to Tim and Ben Titus, with all of their patience and generosity in sharing their infinite wisdom with me, in three days, I was able to successfully and terminally connect on a football sized target at 3/8 of a mile, graduating with honors.
The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know, so I have registered to attend the Magpul Dynamics Precision Rifle 1 course in July and can hardly wait!
Ben, Tim and I with our rock chuck harvest of the day at the following yardages:  211, 270, 450, 450, 650, 650, 650, 650, 650, 650.
To book your first class varmint or predator hunt in Eastern Oregon with Tim Titus visit the No-Off-Season Website at: