Blessed to put my tag on this stunning public land Utah Mt. Dutton bull. The team at High Top Outfitters could not have been more awesome. Their hard work and determination led me to this success. Thank you to my dad Lewis for traveling with me and sharing this hunt with me. To the hardest working crew of guys I have ever seen~ Jay Simon, Kelly Bingham, Brett Guymon, Chris Blad, Shane Williams, Chris Conner, Shawn Ellis, Marty Ellis, and Jeff. Thank you all for holding my ammo around those 340 bulls. This stud was worth the wait! He was tricky to get on and put the slip on me two days in a row but I was finally able to catch him in the open placing a single shot at 600 yards. He literally dropped in his tracks! An unbelievable ending to an epic hunt taking home my biggest bull ever at 360 inches!
Kristy Titus, Co-Host of RMEF’s Team Elk television show, NRA Certified Instructor and Cabela’s Ambassador, is hosting seminars on pre-season scouting success during the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Elk Camp national convention December 3-12 at The Mirage and Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Titus’ seminars are December 3 at 2 p.m. and December 6 at 11 a.m.
Her seminar, Pre-season Scouting for Early Season Elk Hunting Success, discusses the pros of pre-season scouting that will help increase early season elk hunting success. “There are many opportunities for success that lie in wait for the early season elk hunter affording the opportunity to harvest a mature bull before he gathers his cows,” said Titus.
Titus is also appearing at the Cabela’s booth #1220 at the Hunter Christmas expo on the following dates:
December 5 - 1:00-3:00PM
December 6 - 9:00-10:30AM
December 8 - 1:00-3:00PM
December 10 - 1:00-3:00PM
December 12 - 1:00-3:00PM
She will be appearing at the Montana Silversmiths’ booth #847 at the Hunter Christmas Expo the following dates and times:
December 8 – 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
December 12 – 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Elk Camp coincides with the first four days of the National Finals Rodeo. Sponsors include Browning, Buck Knives, Cabela's, Hunter's Specialties, Leupold, Nationwide, New Holland, Nosler, Peak & BlueDEF, Sitka, Realtree, Remington and U.S. Bank.
Terri Clark, Tracy Lawrence, Craig Morgan, Chuck Wicks and Mark Wills will provide entertainment at Elk Camp evening events at The Mirage. Wicks and Wills will join fellow country music performing artists Chad Bushnell, Lucas Hoge, Erin Michelle, Jay Ketchem and Genevieve Allen on the Cabela's Live Stage (Booth #1220) located on the floor of the newly expanded Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Exposition.
The expo will take place in the South Halls of the LVCC in conjunction with the Popular Cowboy Christmas Dec. 3-12. Expo sponsors include Cabela's, Chevrolet, Yamaha, Alps Outdoorz and Peak & BlueDEF.
In this episode of Tips & Tactics, sponsored by Cabela's Outdoor Fund, Kristy Titus explains how having a clear sight picture is essential to making precise and accurate shots. When shooting with a rifle, a scope is a great tool that can help shooters see a sight picture that would otherwise be faraway, near and clear. However, taking a shot with the wrong sight picture in your scope will end up hurting your shot outcome.
The sound of a bull elk bugle resonates through the heart and soul of the hunter that pursue him. It is a sound that once heard, can never be forgotten. A sound that compels the hunter to return to the woods in pursuit of the most majestic animal on the planet, year after year without abandon.
The elk speak to the hunter, telling a tale of what they are thinking, feeling and doing; the hunter but only has to listen and interpret the beautiful tale of the elk. The learning curve never ends, the elk are always teaching the hunter, sometimes the hunter gets the best of him and fills his or her tag, sometimes we walk away, lesson learned, memory made, cherishing the time pursuing him.
Lessons learned from elk are hard earned. The price is worn boot leather, sweat, blood and sometimes tears sacrificed from the efforts of the compelled in this blessed dance between man and beast. Sharing my experiences with the royal giants of the forest is an honor. Getting out into wild country in pursuit of elk is something that some folks have only dreamed about, sharing with them, lighting the fire within their heart, and blazing the torch of those who’s fire for elk already burn.
Cabela’s in Thornton and Lone Tree Colorado welcomed me, my stories and experiences on the mountain in pursuit of the bugling bulls into their stores for attendees to experience, listen and learn from my time spent afield. The language spoke, cow mews, chirps, estrous mews and cow bugles to the triumphant sound of the bull elk, location calls, display and challenge calls were all talked about and demonstrated with the use of my favorite Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls.
My hope was to help inform attendees with how those sounds made are all about the emotion of the elk and how to better interpret that emotion based on HOW those sounds are articulated.
The stalk and set up is what often brings a filled tag, so beyond the language of elk, I discussed common behaviors, traits and characteristics often experienced while afield from elk. The desire the elk have to lead with their nose, circling the hunter to the down-wind side and using that tendency to our advantage. The hang up or distance that they often feel safe in approaching, tactics on hunting elk solo and more.
Talking about elk hunting wouldn’t be complete without discussing the great gear that Cabela’s has to offer, so I did a little shopping, showcasing some of my new Kristy Titus Collection of solid sterling silver jewelry by Montana Silversmiths and some of my favorite gear from Swarovski Optik, Wilderness Athlete and Buck Knives along with handing out a complete gear list with item numbers for shopping Cabela’s online. My gear list may be found by clicking HERE.
Opening week of archery elk season is fast approaching and I wish all of the elk hunters out there the best of luck and memories made.
All items must be washed in unscented detergents prior to entering the field
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack—Compression Bags– IK-517339 Standard Bags– IK-590795
Cabela’s Women’s Clothing
OutfitHer Mock Tshirt Bug Skinz– IK-944629
OutfitHer Long Sleeve V Neck T Shirt– IK-944852
OutfitHer SUPERTEC Lightweight Pants– IK-944878
OutfitHer Made In The Shade UPF 40 Lightweight Pants– IK-944639
OutfitHer Made In The Shade UPF 40 Lightweight Top- (Order One Size Larger) IK-944638
OutfitHer Fleece 1/4 Zip Pull Over– IK-944626
OutfitHer Lifestyle Jacket– IK– 944876
OutfitHer PrimaLoft Vest– IK-944695
OutfitHer PrimaLoft Jacket– IK-944694
OutfitHer WindShear Hooded Jacket– IK-944448
OutfitHer WindShear Pants– IK-944451
OutfitHer 1/4 Zip Lifestyle Long Sleeve Shirt– IK-944537
OutfitHer Dry Plus Insulated Pants with Suspenders– IK-944949
OutfitHer Rainwear Jacket– IK-944114
OutfitHer Rainwear Pants– IK-944115
Cabela’s+Icebreaker Women’s Merino Wool Long Sleeve Crew Base Layer– IK-974127
Cabela’s+Icebreaker Women’s Merino Wool Tights Base Layer– IK-973982
OutfitHer X6 Shooter Gloves– IK-944514
OutfitHer PolarTec Power Stretch Liner Gloves– IK-944570
Outfitter Series Midweight Socks– IK-831944
OutfitHer Dry Plus Silent Suede Gloves– IK-944571
OutfitHer Beanie– IK-944574
Instinct Back Country Gator– IK-944843
Cabela’s Women’s Fleece Neck Gator– IK-944837
Cabela’s Ladies Footwear
Meindl Women’s Denali– IK-818480
Cabela’s Women’s Instinct Backcountry 400gram– IK-818633
OutfitHer Speed Hunter BOA Light Hunter– IK-814177
Pinnacle Zipper Snake Boots– IK-813868
Pinnacle BOA Extreme 600 gram Boots– IK-818412
Cabela’s XPG Expedition 2 Person 4 Season Tent– IK-581416
Kelty Ignite DriDown 0 Degree Sleeping Bag– IK-580821
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack (Waterproof Sleeping Bag/Clothing Stuffer)
Thermarest Neo Air– IK-581151
Cabela’s Willow Hunting Pack– IK-461921
Eberlestock X2– IK-460094
Eberlestock Team Elk– IK-461275
Stone Glacier Backpacks
Buck Knives– Alaskan Guide Crosslock– IK-531923
Buck Knives– Omni Hunter Folding Knife– IK-531998
Buck Knives– Bantam– Cabela’s Zonz Pink– IK-532577
Buck Knives– Paklite Field Master Kit– IK-531327
Swarovksi Z3, Z5, Z6 or X5 Rifle Scope– www.cabelas.com for full listing
Magpul MS1 Padded Rifle Sling– IK-232529
Cabela’s Instinct Xcite Bow IK-462330
Cabela’s Creedence Bow– IK-462979
Buck Knives Bow Tool
Coast Flashlights- Inspection Beam Penlight & Pure Beam Focus Light
Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp + (extra batteries) IK-531169
Map & Compass
Food & Hydration
Wilderness Athlete Performance Products– cabelas.com for complete listing
Dehydrated Food, Jerky, Granola, Trail mix, Dry Oats, Dried fruit, Packaged Tuna . Plan 2,000-3,500 calories of food per day, roughly consisting of 40% Protein, 40% Carbs, 20% Fat.
1 Liter hard water bottle (Nalgene Lexan) IK-518783
2 Liter sized Platypus or 3 liter Nalgene wide mouth collapsible water bladders– IK-532090
Katadyn Vario Water Filter– IK-517647 Upgrade Kit– IK-532094
MSR Reactor Stove (water boiling only) & fuel bottles (2, 22oz bottles)- IK-530809
Utensils & Plastic Cup
Swarovski Optik & Accessories
Swarovski Optik EL Range Binoculars– IK-714396
Swarovski Optik STR Spotting Scope with Illuminated MIL or MOA Reticle– IK-714395
Swarovski Spotting Scope iPhone 5 Adapter– IK-714264
Swarovski Universal Tripod Adapter Binocular Rest– IK-714025
Swarovski CT Travel Carbon Fiber Tripod w DH 101 Tripod Head– IK-713534
Toothbrush & Paste
Small liquid soap
Toilet Paper (Stored in Zip lock Bag)
Lip balm w/SPF
Unscented baby wipes
Basic Medicine (Advil or Aleve, Neosporin, Immodium, Throat Lozenges)
Small first aid kit
Bugling Bull Game Calls– www.cabelas.com for complete listing
Camera (extra memory card)
SPOT Global Satellite Phone-IK-270152
Zip lock Bags (a few quart sized & gallon sized)
Garbage Bags (a few leaf bags are best)
Game Bags (2-3)
Small notepad and pencil
Cloth tape measure
Repair Kit (needle, thread, duct tape) minimal qty.
Outdoor Safe Survival Kit & Metal Match
It has been made official... I am out of the <1 Club thanks to an extraordinary Aoudad hunt with Dean Capuano for Swarovski Optik Hunting Quests and Offgrid Outdoors airing on the Outdoor Channel. For me, the hunt was filled with highs and lows, ones that we all can relate to as hunters but perseverance paid off and I was able to take this big old ram.
My breath hung in the air like slowly drifting smoke. Spring was slowly arriving, but not this morning.
The cold mountain air bit at my face. Peering into the deep, timber-filled draws with box call in hand, my good friend, hunting partner and fellow Cabela’s Pro Staffer, Jim Brennan, let out a series of hen yelps with the hopes of enticing a tom turkey to gobble.
Carl, a fellow Central Oregon local, had been so gracious to share the morning hunt with us. These public land mountains had been hunted by him in pursuit of turkeys for many years and he knew just were to check for birds coming off the roost.
Have you ever tried to sit absolutely still and not move a single inch for nearly 20 minutes—or longer in some cases—while turkey hunting?
Did you get a chance to ready part No. 1 of this post? Well, after a few moments of long anticipation, Spencer chose his bird and pulled the trigger. Game over. And then it was my turn …
If you are going to be successful at hunting turkeys, you had better be comfortable sitting for long periods of time. Fortunately for us ladies, the OutfitHer Tat’r turkeyvest has it all—comfort, with a cushy speed seat, back and lumbar padding for support and a true custom fit. You can fit everything you need in the field into the specially designed pockets and pouches.
The Swarovski Optik new X5 Precision Rifle Scope made it's big debut at the National Rifle Association Freedom Fest and Cabela's Industry Insider was there to get the details. The newly re-designed EL Range was also on display. The videos below outline the features of both products which will be available at your local Cabela's or online at www.cabelas.com
Long-range shooting and precision marksmanship require all of the components of your shooting system—including your rifle, riflescope, ammo and shooter—to be reliable, consistent and repeatable.
During the past 3 years, having taken an interest in long-range precision marksmanship training with Magpul Core, it’s become important for me to setrtch the farthest possible distance with my rifle, cartridge and optic combination. It’s simply something that interests me right now, during this stage of my hunting and shooting “career.”
Gentlemen (or ladies, but we doubt this applies to you), if you forgot Valentine’s Day—or if you decided to hunt snow geese instead—Kristy Titus just might be able to keep you from sleeping on the couch for the next 3 months.
Click HERE to read the article on North American Hunter.
Quickly raising your binoculars and glancing at a hillside isn’t going to help you identify the animal of a lifetime. Instead, grab your glass, get comfortable and then try out these techniques.
CLICK HERE to read my latest editorial for North American Hunter Online.
The time-honored tradition of hunting has changed and evolved with the advancement of optics technologies. Coupling optics advancements with proper technique will save time, energy and ensure you don’t miss spotting that animal of a lifetime.
Swarovski Optik Digiscoping of the Year Cranston, Rhode Island - SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA, a subsidiary of the Austrian-based company, announces the renewed sponsorship of Kristy Titus. Kristy is a visible hunter with such organizations as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Cabela's and is an editor for Western Hunter and Elk Hunter magazines. Since her sponsorship first began with SWAROVSKI OPTIK, Kristy became the Fitness Editor for North American Hunter magazine.
Growing up hunting in the rugged western mountains that sat in her backyard, Kristy developed an appreciation and respect for nature that she practices today in her career. She uses her experience and knowledge to educate others about the outdoors and the importance of staying healthy for hunting, all while being an advocate for wildlife and habitat conservation. Kristy also manages to find ways to work with non-profit organizations where she places an emphasis on making sure hunting remains a tradition that will be available for future generations.
"The number of women participating in the outdoors and shooting sports has been on the rise," Kristy Titus said. "Thanks to this increase, women are now playing an even larger part in conserving our nation's wildlife and their habitat. Together with SWAROVSKI OPTIK, sharing our passion and love of the outdoors with other women and children is helping to expand our community and create the next generation of hunters and conservationists."
Dean Capuano, Director of Communications for SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA said, "Our partnership with Kristy Titus has been great. She embodies all the aspects of a hunter that SWAROVSKI OPTIK as a brand promotes, passion, knowledge, inspiration and conservation. We look forward to continuing with her to help promote great messages to future generations of hunters."
Watch to see what Kristy is all about:
If you require any further information or photography please contact:
Dean J. Capuano, Director of Communications
SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA LTD
2 Slater Road, Cranston, Rhode Island 02920
Tel. 800-426-3089 x2957, Fax. 877-287-8517
The world belongs to those who can see beauty.
Experience the moment!
SEE THE UNSEEN
Cranston, Rhode Island - SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA, a subsidiary of the Austrian-based company, is pleased to announce Episode 2 of its Season 4 show SWAROVSKI OPTIK Quests: With the Eyes of a Hawk. In this episode, high-quality long-range optics are showcased on a hunt for Rocky Mountain Elk, one of the largest herbivores in North America.
Just 60 miles north of Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the United States, lies some of the finest elk hunting in North America. SWAROVSKI OPTIK Quests host Dean Capuano is taking Kristy Titus, editor for Western Hunter andElk Hunter magazines, to a wapiti hot spot known as Tejon Ranch. Sitting on over a quarter-million acres of private wild ground, Tejon Ranch is the largest continuous expanse of private land in California and a great location to demonstrate the success of using top-of-the-line SWAROVSKI OPTIK glass.
Kristy Titus said, "The Tejon Ranch has 90% of the 280,000 acre ranch permanently conserved for elk and other wildlife, leading the way for conservation in not only the state of California but across the nation. They are demonstrating that their combination of sound ranching, farming and carefully managed hunting practices has created a thriving environment for the wildlife that calls the Tejon Ranch home and are currently holding some of the oldest and largest free range Rocky Mountain Elk in the United States."
"This hunt at the Tejon ranch is really something special," said Dean Capuano. "To be able to have just a short drive from the city of Los Angeles and be in such a beautiful pristine place is surreal. The elk herd they have at the ranch is nothing short of amazing. "
This ground-breaking series will air this summer and fall on The Outdoor Channel. Each action packed episode features a team of SWAROVSKI OPTIK Pro-Staffers in search of difficult but highly sought-after trophies. Traveling the globe with corporate partners that include RAM, Safari Club International and HS Precision rifles, the locations are nothing short of exotic, the terrain rugged and exciting but with optics to match. SWAROVSKI OPTIK is at the top of every hunter and outdoorsman's dream list. All over the world, enthusiastic hunters place their trust in the long tradition and uncompromising excellence of the high-quality, high precision long-range optics that SWAROVSKI OPTIK offers.
Show times are Tuesday 1 am, Wednesday 6 pm, and Sunday 10:30 am EST.
The sun was just peeking out over the top of the barn as I tied the laces on my shoes. Running was an early morning ritual for me and US Navy medical chaperone Tommy Neuens. Our trek leading us around Ron & Lisa Raboud’s beautiful British Columbia ranch.
This was my second year on this mountain, there is something magical that happens when you are here... The sound of the early morning breeze whispering through the Aspen trees, feeling the warm rays of sunshine erase the chill from the air, watching the wildlife making their way to their bedding area for the day.
This is no ordinary ranch, this is one of the homes to the non-profit, Wounded Warrior Outdoors therapeutic outdoor adventures. The mountains here will change your life, just as it has changed the lives of others for years.
Dave Wabnegger of Otter Lake Outfitters, offers exclusive access to 3,600 square miles of Crown Land, which equates to roughly 2.3 million acres to provide active duty servicemen and women an adventure that is not only memorable, but life changing.
Disability is as much a mindset as it is a physical limitation…
In 2010, Navy SEAL LT Dan Cnossen was on this same mountain, walking the same path that I ran every morning. Dan was using the steep uneven terrain to push the boundaries of what his current limitations were and rediscover just how much he could really do. You see, he had been recently wounded in action sustaining injuries that had resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee. Dan was on this mountain to challenge himself to learn how to function in the outdoors, doing whatever it took to climb the mountains in pursuit of a black bear.
The success of filling his black bear tag was not Dan’s true reward, it was the beginning, a place of realization, a place where the mountain taught him that despite his injuries, there was nothing that he couldn’t do and no place that he couldn’t go. Over 30 surgeries later, on March 7, 2014, Dan competed in the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi representing Team USA in Nordic Skiing.
There is no better therapist than Mother Nature, no hospital facility more motivating or challenging than the great outdoors and no better place to be than hunting camp. Ron typically does not know who will be attending the adventures that WWO provides to over 50 servicemen and women each year until a couple of weeks before the trip.
Each of the WWO guests are current wounded in-hospital patients at either Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Naval Medical Center San Diego (Balboa), or San Antonio Military Medical Center (Brooke). Warriors are selected for participation by medical staff at each hospital, each being paired with the adventure that provides them the greatest therapeutic potential. Some injuries are evident and some injuries are invisible.
This group was notable as they had all been on a WWO adventure in the past at other locations, but this was their first black bear hunt. WWO mentor and lead Kansas turkey guide, Vietnam Army Veteran JL Hendricks, US Navy Hospital Corpsman Javier Esparza, USMC Jed Morgan, USMC Darryl Charles II, USMC Jacob Delagarza and medical chaperone, US Navy Hospital Corpsman Tommy Neuens.
Gary Monetti, Lisa Raboud, her son Sam and Laurel Barbieri awoke every morning before the sunrise to ensure that everyone smelled the delight of a home cooked breakfast as soon as they rose for the day. In my family, when we care about someone, we feed them and I can honestly say that all of them treated us to a home that is full of love and good cooking. Working from dawn till midnight every single day to ensure that everyone was too full for another bite. You can see and feel the love that comes from these folks.
The first morning out, I hunted with USMC Darryl Charles II, we call him Chuck for short, guide/outfitter Colton Wabnegger and Ron Raboud. Chuck is a young, energetic handsome man with a smile and laugh that is infectious. He has a HUGE personality and loves the theater and ballroom dancing. We hit it off instantly with lots of shared laughs, maybe someday he will teach me to dance.
Our day was nothing short of non-stop excitement. I have hunted a LOT of black bears and I have tried year after year to call in a bear with my predator call without luck. Chuck brought us luck and lots of it on this first day.
We spotted the bruin just off the side of the mountain, it wasn’t a shooter bear but my curiosity and desire to call in a bear overcame me and I decided to give it a try. The bruin came in to my call just as if I had perfectly scripted it, getting so close that Ron threw a rock at it to detour its path towards us. What a rush for everyone. Chuck’s first bear experience was surely one he would never forget.
While we were calling in bears, we received word that Army Veteran and WWO mentor JL Hendricks had some luck on the mountain and had successfully tagged a stunning chocolate bruin with his guide Trevor. JL lives a life dealing with pain having taken shrapnel in his legs during the Vietnam War and to this day, his wounds have not healed. JL serves as a tremendously positive mentor for active duty WWO participants.
Back on the mountain, Ron spotted a hungrily grazing bear that was in a perfect location to make a stalk for Chuck to get a closer look at. Chuck literally had to crawl towards a horse fence so that he would have a resting position to take a possible shot. This is the part where the therapy comes in. You can’t replicate this in a hospital.
Chuck was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine regiment “3/7” for short, their nickname “The Cutting Edge.” During deployment, the marines of 3/7 faced daily attacks clearing some of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. The marines in 3/7 are noted as encountering the most contact with enemy forces since Vietnam. Due to his injuries sustained in combat, Chuck is a single above the knee amputee, crawling anywhere is no easy feat, let alone in the mountains of British Columbia. Like the true warrior that he is, Chuck reached the fence without hesitation, set up on the bruin and decided that he would hold out for a larger bear. This gave me the opportunity to take some stellar photos of Chuck on the gun, bear in sights.
Spring bear hunting is all about putting in countless miles in pursuit of a grazing black bear, so after passing on our second bear of the day, we didn’t waste any time getting back on the trail, putting miles on our ATV and using our Swarovski optics to search the seemingly endless valleys for another bruin.
The mountains of British Columbia are nothing short of spectacular and I am somewhat of an amateur photographer, so when I see a captivating landscape, I want to stop and take a picture of it. Yes, this can be annoying, but what I have found is that by taking some time and slowing down, often times what you are looking for isn’t too far away and had you zoomed by, you may have missed your opportunity all together. A good lesson in patience. As patience would have it, as I snapped photos of Chuck with the snowcapped mountains in the backdrop, Colton spotted a BIG bruin feeding on the mountainside some 500 yards away.
The stalk was on, Chuck was determined to navigate the steep uneven terrain in order to reach the feeding bruin. These mountains are very unforgiving for anyone but Chuck did what he does best, he climbed the mountain and made his opportunity happen.
Stalking a bear in thick brush is a little like looking for a needle in a haystack. Up close, everything looks different than it did from afar. Moving up the mountain swiftly and as quietly as we could, we managed to make it within 40 yards of the feeding bruin without being detected. Taking a rest, Chuck took the 40 yard shot on the massive bruin. Just as his shot rang out, a young sapling went tumbling to the ground, earning Chuck the nickname, “Lumber Chuck.” The bruin ran away completely unharmed by the deflected bullet that took out the tree instead of making its way to the bruin.
Patience and persistence…two of life’s best lessons best learned on the mountain, and persist we did. With a little over two hours of daylight remaining, we made our way back to the ATV and once again resumed our search for a bruin.
Fourth time is a charm, we spotted a bruin feeding through the Aspen trees and once again made our stalk over to the hungrily feeding bear. Chuck set up in the prone position and waited out his opportunity for the bruin to give him an open broadside shot.
This day was about more than Chuck tagging a black bear, it was about overcoming the mountain, beating any preconceived limitations. We all have them, some are physical and some are mental. The hunt is what drives us to endure, adapt, improvise and overcome all obstacles that get in our way of success. The hunt teaches us all lessons that we can reflect upon anywhere in regards to nearly everything in life.
The mountain teaches us all valuable life lessons, both human and animals alike. Kruger, my 10 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback accompanied me, Jordie and Deb Cook on the second day. The four of us (Kruger included) set out to be an extra set of eyes glassing the landscapes for a bruin.
Jordie and Deb have volunteered for WWO for many years. Last year, they were able to spot USMC TJ Tejada's black bear so that we could come and make the stalk. After TJ shot his bear, we were unable to get him to his bear via his wheel chair. TJ is a double leg amputee and at the time was not using his prosthetic legs. All of us cleared trail so that Jordie could literally carry TJ on his back and do a proper recovery. There isn't two nicer people out there with bigger hearts.
The last day of TJ's WWO trip, he used his prosthetic legs for the first time ever and walked to the car. I saw TJ earlier this year walking on his prosthetics. I can honestly say that in part because of Jordie and Deb, TJ's life was changed that day on the mountain.
Jordie is on a sprint boat racing team called “Fat Buddy Racing Team." This is a sport where people have carved out systems of channels into an ordinary farmer’s field and filled it with water to race speeds boats in. The night before a race, a map is handed out outlaying various turns that the driver must complete for time, without crashing. Jordie is the driver and Deb is the navigator traveling at speeds of 80 plus miles per hour in a field filled with water.
Jordie and Deb are too crazy people who love to drive fast, and there I sat in the truck with Jordie at the wheel. It was time for Kruger to have a grown-up dog experience so he was kenneled and strapped down in the back of Jordie’s truck. Oh boy…he was one unhappy puppy, crying and howling much of the morning.
Just when Kruger had settled down and was dealing with his kenneled fate, we got the call that USMC Jed Morgan had shot a bruin and it needed tracking and therefore, they needed help. Jordie knows the roads of those British Columbia Mountains like the back of his hand, navigating every turn like the pro that he is. Poor Kruger was in for the ride of his life.
When we reached the location where Jed had taken aim on his bruin, Dave let out the hounds to give chase. This was a great opportunity for Kruger to have a puppy lesson, so we began the blood trail and immediately went to work, also tracking the wounded bruin.
As Kruger did his job tracking, all became quiet and I was alone, on the mountain, trailing a wounded black bear without a gun. Feeling a bit unnerved, I pulled Kruger off of the trail and returned to the vehicles. If you have ever hunted with hounds, you know how crazy things can get once your dogs are turned out. A short time later, we located the younger two of Dave’s four hounds, two were still unaccounted for and still on the trail of Jed’s bruin.
Jed is a quiet man. It takes a huge effort to get him to talk, so since we had nothing but time waiting for the hounds to locate his bear, I took the liberty of chatting his ear off. I honestly think he only spoke just to shut me up. Ha ha ha.
Jed is a Marine Rifleman and the injuries that he sustained in combat attributed to the loss of both of his legs above the knee and much of the use of his right hand. I read on facebook where Jed’s wife AnnaGrace, stated that he is not only a devoted husband but a man that leads by example of what it means to truly have conviction, sacrifice and perseverance despite all obstacles and all circumstances. Jed and his wife AnnaGrace are expecting their first child, a daughter any day.
It is really remarkable how quick hounds navigate through the mountains and in a short amount of time, the remaining two hounds had located Jed’s bruin. This was Jed’s first hunt and he had not only successfully harvested a spot and stalk bruin in some of the steepest roughest terrain in the world, the bear that he tagged was an old warrior, just like him and the biggest of the trip. On the mountain, it takes a team. I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the Morgan family and have high hopes to do some more hunting with Jed in Oregon.
US Navy Hospital Corpsman (medic) Javier Esparza is arguably one of the funniest people I have ever met with a huge personality that captivates everyone around him. Javier loves his wife and their two sons and having spent a short amount of time with him, it is evident that they are his world.
Our guide Cody and his father Dan have been serving as guides since the inception of the WWO program and knows the mountains well which came in handy as Javier, who is from Florida, was eager to climb seemingly every mountain in Southern British Columbia.
Cody, Javier and myself are all the same age, so our in truck, the humor was off the charts. I am not sure that I have laughed that hard in my lifetime. Javier did not end up tagging a bear on this trip but that was not due to lack of effort. He has a heart of gold that is tough as nails. He was relentless in his pursuit with a couple of close calls along the way.
USMC Jacob Delagarza also went home without filling his tag on a black bear. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to spend time on the mountain with Jacob on this trip. Jacob has a reputation for being a strong leader who always set a good example, putting the needs of others always before himself, no matter what the situation is, Jacob is always there for his junior Marines, literally teaching them how to survive in combat.
Jacob was wounded in action resulting in the loss of his left leg, and has received not one but two Purple Hearts while serving our great country, one in Sangin Afghanistan and the other in Fallujah Iraq.
Jacob is a hero and devoted husband and father Priscilla and their two children.
The last day of the hunt, USMC Medical Chaperone Tommy Neuens perseverance paid off where after waiting out a short rain storm, he was able to tag a beautiful chocolate bruin. Tommy is an outstanding man that accompanies many WWO participants on outdoor adventures ensuring that they have swift medical treatment should they require it.
“Doc” Javier Esparza and “Doc” Tommy Neuens are men that have saved the lives of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters while in combat. Their love for our country and desire to save the lives of these servicemen and women knows no bounds.
The last day of the trip, USMC Darryl Charles gave me a very special gift.
The story behind the shirt:
The year was 2010 and Darryl was stationed in Sangin Afghanistan with USMC Female Engagement Team Member Sarah Bryant. Sarah was/is a legit Marine that always had her team members backs, Darryl included. Sarah is a true warrior. After Darryl returned stateside due to being wounded in action, he saw this shirt and bought it thinking fondly of Sarah.
When he gave me the shirt, he compared me with her, a true warrior and gave me the compliment of my life by saying that I too am legit…one of them.
It is an honor for me to share the mountain with Darryl and the other servicemen and women through the WWO program. The memories made, the camaraderie that is shared here and the true brotherhood that these men share cannot be broken.
The challenges that are encountered through the WWO program provides the perfect place, on the mountain with Mother Nature to break any preconceived physical or mental limitation, pushing yourself to the next level, reaching higher than one thought possible. WWO is about offering therapeutic benefits while sharing our outdoor world with the deserving servicemen and women that have sacrificed so unselfishly to protect us all.
Sunny Southern California is famous for its white sandy beaches bordering the warm Pacific Ocean and palm trees blowing in the breeze. After my trip to California, I found myself singing the tune from the Beach Boys wishing that I too was a California girl, but not for the reasons that you may think.
A mere 60 mile drive north of the big city of Los Angeles is a very special place in the heart of Southern California, the Tejon Ranch. This spectacular ranch takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the typical California life of traffic jams, honking car horns and shoulder to shoulder people to a place that its main inhabitants are Blacktail deer, Russian hogs and Rocky Mountain Elk.
A coyote’s yip can be heard for miles across the historic 270,000 acre ranch, the largest of its kind in California. The Tejon Ranch’s history begins in 1843 as a Mexican land grant and is deeply rooted under the principals of long term conservation, ranching and farming.
I met up with Dean Capuano of Swarovski Optik to film our adventures in the pursuit of Russian hogs and Rocky Mountain Elk for the 2014 season of Swarovski Optik Quests television show that airs on the Outdoor Channel.
I never would have imagined that some of the biggest bull elk I have ever been blessed to hunt would be in California. Be sure to tune in and see for yourself how our adventure unfolds. After seeing the Rocky Mountain Elk of Southern California you too will have a new appreciation of what hunting California has to offer the western elk hunter.
In June, I met up with Gray Farnsworth and Dean Capuano of Swarovski Optik North America for a spot and stalk black bear hunt in Idaho with the Flying B Ranch. The Flying B lodge simply put is breathtaking. Everything from the accommodation, meals and guides was amazing.
I was excited as this was my first time hunting with and meeting Gray. Even more exciting for her I am sure as this was her first black bear hunt. Mid June is peak rut time for black bears so you will find many two year old bears that have just been weaned and mature boars on the move looking for ready sows. All the excitement that June brings gives hunters the perfect opportunity to spot a bruin on the move.
The weather could not have been more perfect to go along with the miles and miles of hillsides that we were glassing for bruins. On the second day of our hunt we spotted a nice boar on the move but were unable to stalk within range before he disappeared into the timber.
Big open country like Idaho can be very deceiving. What appears to be close can in actuality be miles and miles away. Having good optics brings those miles closer to you; however covering those miles to hunt can in reality be very tricky.
We were able to stalk within range of three bears, but unfortunately, they were all only two year old bears weighing in at maybe 70 lbs. each. We passed up these little guys in hopes of finding a mature bruin.
The weather in high country can go from good to bad very quickly and on the final day of our hunt we literally hunted in a down pour of rain. Our hopes remained despite the conditions and we hunted until dark hopefully seeking a mature boar without luck.
For me, one of the highlights of the trip was one morning while loading our gear into trucks, Gray spotted a bedded doe just in front of the lodge. Getting out her spotting scope Gray discovered a doe in labor. Literally right before our eyes, we were able to watch the birth of twin fawns and thanks to Swarovski Optik, we were able to digiscope stunning photos of the entire event.
This trip was a trip of forged friendships, good times and even greater memories in the field. Gray was able to take in the splendor of Idaho’s rugged landscapes for her first time. I am sure that her heart is now as fond of the western landscapes as mine and will return again sometime soon.