RMEF Team Elk- Passing It On...

Archer Xtreme owner Mark Garcia takes his son on his first archery elk hunt. Also, we join Julia and Jessica Nielson on their first hunt for Mule Deer. David Allen and Kristy Titus are along as mentors for the ladies hunting adventures.  

Team Elk Outdoor Channel Air Dates: Thursday, Aug 14, 10:00 AM , Saturday, Aug 16, 6:30 PM , Sunday, Aug 17, 6:30 PM EASTERN.


RMEF Team Elk- An Early Start

The rough landscapes of the Missouri Breaks in Eastern Montana of deep draws, rock outcroppings and dense sage brush offer the perfect habitat for mule deer to flourish. It’s late November and the ground was covered with a dusting of snow, the rut was in full swing. The colder the temperatures, the better the hunting and with single digit mornings, we were in for some great mule deer hunting.

Beginning Thursday July 10 at 10:00AM, Saturday July 12 at 6:30PM and Sunday July 13 at 6:30PM watch two bright young ladies Kendal Compton and Sydney Soueidi brave sub-zero temperatures in pursuit of November Mule Deer bucks in Eastern Montana and get fired up to take a kid hunting this fall. This is the future of our time honored traditions, today we are creating a legacy for tomorrow.



2014 Shed Antler Hunting

 

Shed antler hunting is a time that many outdoors men and women look forward to all year long. A time when we have an equal opportunity to get out into the woods, put some miles on our feet with the hopes of finding the fallen antlers off of our dream buck or bull. There is now even a trophy record book for those who are fortunate enough to find matching sets of the biggest sheds.

Shed hunting has taken such a craze that in my home town of Bend Oregon numerous people camped out and followed the legendary 200+ inch drop tine mule deer buck around hoping that he would drop his antler(s) on the tiny bits of public access that he passed through. The neighborhoods to which the buck frequented were quite the zoo with hopeful hunters seemingly everywhere.

This is no spectator sport, if you want to find the big ones, you have to be willing put on some miles, forego some sleep and be vigilant in your search. Each passing day holds the opportunity to finding a newly dropped antler. Shed hunters keep their honey hole antler spots an iron clad secret so asking one where to go will most likely get you nowhere. The best answer that I would give is, if you see deer or elk, get to walking. It’s pretty much that simple.

The mule deer bucks in my area begin to shed their antlers as early as mid –January and the bull elk typically begin to shed no earlier than mid-March. This gives us avid shed hunters the opportunity to hunt species specific areas, focusing on the bucks first and later on the bulls.

Shed hunting has become a family tradition around my household, everyone wants in on the hunt; my sister Lesley, brother in law Tony, niece Haley, nephew Brody and of course our four legged family, Kruger and Zoie included. The kids love getting out and about exploring the outdoors, having a few laughs and living a little bit of adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, I spent extra time in the field training my puppy Kruger to find and retrieve shed antlers. After only four times out, he is just as excited, if not more with a find as me. Bounding over to the fallen antler, he quickly picks it up, does a victory circle or two to show off his trophy before bringing it to me. We make quite a good team, in fact, Kruger’s zest for shed hunting landed him on a 3 minute video that I co-produced this year featuring him on the hunt for sheds.

This year I had varying degrees of success on the hunt, each trip producing antlers for me. My first trip out, I was lucky to find a nice 4 point side, some trips I found forked horn antlers or old white chalky antlers. Even the chalky, moss covered 4 point that I found hidden in sage brush was a trophy to me.

 

 

 

For me, shed antler hunting is all about the adventure, laughs shared with friends and family, time spent with my dog and simply being out in nature a little closer to the good Lord. If you didn’t get out this year to hunt shed antlers, it’s never too late. You just never know where you are going to find a prize shed so lace up your boots and get to hiking.

 

 

 

RMEF Team Elk Season 4- Girl Hunters MT Mule Deer

Girl Hunters RoCk...

The rough landscapes of the Missouri Breaks in Eastern Montana of deep draws, rock outcroppings and dense sage brush offer the perfect habitat for mule deer to flourish. It’s late November and the ground was covered with a dusting of snow, the rut was in full swing. The colder the temperatures, the better the hunting and with single digit mornings, we were in for some great mule deer hunting.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s President/CEO David Allen with Julie & Jessica NeilsonDavid Allen invited me to take afield four young ladies that all enjoy the outdoors and a spirit for hunting. Not just pretty faces here, these girls were tough and many giggles were shared and songs sang while tracking down mule deer bucks in the freezing cold. The excitement and anticipation of the hunt was a thrill for everyone.

Sydney Soueidi and Kendal Compton glassing for bucks.

 

 

 

 

Watching these young ladies help one another throughout the hunt was one of the most rewarding feelings that you can have as a mentor. This was a hunt that taught some great life lessons in perseverance and positive mental attitude; helping one another spot deer, track in the snow for hours and even pack heavy quarters over miles of terrain in single digit temperatures. The bonds that the girls forged will literally last a lifetime.Me, Kendal Compton and Sydney Soueidi packing out quarters.

These young ladies are a big part of the future of hunting and conservation. The memories that they take home and share with other young adults will help to grow a community of new hunters that are well equipped with outdoor skills, hunting ethics and conservation principals.

Hunting with 15 year old(s) Kendal, Julie and Sydney and 17 year old Jessica for mule deer was a trip that will never be forgotten by any of us and will be shared with everyone on the 2014 season of Team Elk airing on the Outdoor Channel.

Julie Nielsen all smiles with her buck.Kendal Compton with her stunning buck.Sydney Soueidi and her first buck! Way to go!!!

 

Kids Creating the Legacy of a Lifetime

Kids Helping Kids Creating a Legacy…

12 year old Emmett palmed his Buck knife in preparation to skin his first ever deer, a Blacktail doe. His grip was firm but unsure; he was looking up to 18 year old Paxton and 16 year old Mikayla, veteran hunters for guidance.

This was my second time coming to Black Oak Outfitters in Roseburg Oregon with outdoor writer Gary Lewis to mentor youth hunters in pursuit of their first deer. Paxton and Mikayla have been doe hunting here for many years and have mentored numerous other kids with their first hunt success. Two years prior, I was den mother in camp while 16 year old Alexa harvested her first deer.

Paxton, Alexa and Mikayla were all back in camp to mentor 12 year old Emmett in his pursuit of a Blacktail doe. Kids literally creating their own hunting legacy, together creating memories that will last them all a lifetime.

The Oregon youth mentor program allowed my tag to be filled by Emmett in the rich landscapes of southern Oregon. The area hosts the perfect habitat for the Blacktail and whitetail deer to flourish, the perfect target rich location for youth hunters to harvest their first deer.

The doe was spotted feeding 70 yards away in the grassy oaks. Emmett had practiced in camp, taking aim and dry firing on trees, he was ready and without hesitation. Working the bolt, clicking the safety off my Browning .280, Emmett took aim and made a perfectly placed shot dropping the doe in her tracks.

Often times there is strength in knowing that someone else has been in your shoes, Emmett drew confidence in knowing that the other youth hunters that surrounded him were there to help him field dress his very first deer. All of them giving him tips on where to make the incision in the cape, how to hold the skin taught and even the angle of the knife.

Watching kids help one another is one of the most precious moments that life has to offer. Everyone in our camp was there to help fulfill Emmett’s dream of hunting, everyone was part of this once in a lifetime memory.

Gutting pumpkins and skinning deer with kids, that is how I want to celebrate Halloween every year.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Bugle Magazine- Team Elk Featured Member


Sometimes the word honor is simply not enough to describe how you feel. I am beyond honored to be a featured member of Team Elk and have the opportunity to share with you my most recent interview with the Rocky Mountian Elk Foundation’s Bugle Magazine. Within the pages of the September/October issue you will get an opportunity to learn a little more about me, how I was raised and share with you my love of elk hunting. Working with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundaiton and Team Elk is truly a dream come true. 

 

 

 

Maddie's First Hunt

“Everyone has a transferable commodity-knowledge. Sharing your unique expertise and making introductions for someone creates a lasting legacy.”
Marsha Blackburn
In the state of Oregon they have a special program called the Mentored Youth Hunter Program for kids ages 9 to 13 that allows them to hunt without first passing an approved hunter education program while being supervised by a licensed adult, filling the supervisors tag. The program also allows the mentored youth to receive a preference point for each year they are registered into the program. 
The times that I spent while hunting with my dad as a kid are some of my fondest memories. Lessons learned while out in the field with your friends and family help shape the rest of a child’s life. This is why being part of 11 year old Madison Kussman’s first ever hunt with her dad James Kussman was so special to me. 
Mother Nature had covered the steep heavy timbered terrain of the Oregon Coast Range with a thick blanket of fog. The limited visibility of the valley below created a challenging set of circumstances for Maddie on her first hunt. As we slowly crept through the fog, James whispered to Maddie about how to hunt with the wind in your face to prevent the deer from smelling you. Explaining how oftentimes in the morning when the mountain air is cool and heavy the wind will blow down the mountain and as the wind warms and becomes lighter it starts to change and begin to blow up the mountain. 
By the time the morning fog had burned off the clear cut, the Blacktail doe had already bedded down and were out of sight. Maddie and I were admiring James’s glitter and heart accented binoculars while we spent the day basking in the warm rays of sunshine glassing the clear cut below hoping to spot a doe bedded down. 
 
That evening as we slowly made our way down the clear cut a small group of does spotted us and began to blow in alert. Quickly they took off across the cut before Maddie had an opportunity to set up for a shot. We followed the group across the cut towards the timbers edge hoping for another opportunity over the next rise.
The terrain was tough going. There was heavy reprod growth that was limiting visibility, blackberry vines covered the ground like a thick thorny blanket wrapping around our legs making travel slow and sometimes painful. 
Instead of finding the deer, we spotted a hungry black bear feeding on tender ripe berries. James and I both had bear tags but the bruin was out of range and before we could get within shooting range the bruin disappeared into the thick heavy cover, never to be seen again. 
The next morning started out as the first had with heavy fog covering the clear cut. James and Madison waited for the fog to lift while making designs in the dirt out of rocks, enjoying their time spent together on the mountain. 
Taking a break for lunch, Maddie surprised her dad with a card for his birthday. The surprised look on his face as he read how much his children love and appreciate all that he does for them was a priceless. We had even had Maddie’s four year old brother, who wasn’t with us on the hunt sign the card before our trip. 
We spent our last evening glassing the cut for Black tail doe without luck. Maddie didn’t get her doe; instead she went home with precious memories of time spent in the field with her father. Maddie learning that the best things in life don’t always come easy, they require hard work and persistence. Maddie will be back in the high country next year with the hopes of punching her first tag.