The property we were hunting for antelope was about 45 minutes from the town of Clayton, NM. While we could have camped on BLM property closer to the property, there was something very refreshing about camping lakeside at Clayton Lake. There were less than a half dozen campers on the entire lake, and with water right in front of the tent excellent fishing was to be had during the downtime.
The meat from the antelope has been boned out and put on ice in the various coolers, the gear is repacked into the truck and trailer and we are ready to head north to Colorado. The first leg of the adventure has come to a close.
A perfect Rocky Mountain high. Here my wife Dory and I stand on the Continental Divide on the opening day of Colorado’s elk season. Tags were over the counter (OTC) and the land is all public National Forest. Tags are easy to come by, but legal bulls are much tougher to find. That being said, there is an incredible sense of freedom hunting arguably America’s most glamorous big game species on public land with an OTC tag.
With millions of acres of National Forest, camping in Colorado is as simple as finding a good spot and setting up. We had this meadow to ourselves and could legally stay in the same place for up to 14 days before having to move to a new spot, per Forest Service regulations.
The ideal mule deer spot—rough rugged BLM country overlooking an irrigated ag field close to the town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The mulies would feed on the alfalfa all night and bed in the sage during the day. The key was to spot them on the move and get in a position to intercept them.
The Rhino Rack Sunseeker awning is super easy to set up and take down—in all it can be completed in under a minute. Unzip the outer case, unroll the awning, extend the legs, and stake out, it is that simple. Spend a day in the desert sun without one and you realize how important shade is.
Float hunting Idaho may be one of the most enjoyable ways to see this magnificent state. The numerous rivers are full of trout and the countryside abounds with big game. While archery elk and deer season was open, our focus was on Shiras moose. My Brother, Greg’s co-worker Windy Davis drew a bull moose tag.
While the moose hunting in Idaho was tough, the fishing was world class. Big browns as well as the threatened Yellowstone cutthroat were eating, stocking up for the coming winter. Hatches in the mid days and large streamers in the evening made for a great time.
The Washington high country is dotted with beautiful lakes like this one. Some are deep enough to hold trout, some do not as they freeze and do not have an inlet or outlet. But in either case they are beautiful and add tremendously to the scenery.
Cooking trout over an open fire is an art form. It’s hard to keep them on the stick until they firm up. If you cook them too much, they will dry out. The key is to rotate and check often. Done right, the taste is unmistakable. Salt and pepper lightly and don’t overpower the smoky, trouty goodness with seasonings.
The coastal scenery around Prince Rupert, British Columbia is stunning. Here logging, commercial fishing and hunting are still king. The country reminded me of what Washington State was probably like 75 or more years ago. Big forests, small population and lots of game.
Logging roads and lots of them with forest in various stages of old growth, clear cut or regrowth. You could spend days driving these roads, but you really didn’t need to. We drove, walked and shot enough grouse to eat. Like Forest Service land in the lower 48, this was all public accessible property and even non-residents such as myself could hunt it.
Rob Endsley with a hard-won Sitka blacktail. Even though everyone said we were crazy for trying to hunt blacktails at this time of the year, persistence paid off. If you keep hunting sooner or later you will get a shot, the key is to capitalize on the moment when given the opportunity. I simply love these deer, the double white throat patch, dark chocolate patch between their horns and meat that tastes incredible—by far the best eating deer in the US.
While our timing on blacktail deer was off by a couple of weeks, our timing on salmon fishing in the rivers was spot on. Pink and silver salmon were clogging up the Klawok River. You nearly couldn’t make a cast without catching one. I have fished Alaska several times for salmon and this by far was the most incredible fishing I have ever seen.
Prince of Wales Island is the ideal place for mountain bikes and we put the Cogburns to good use. There are hundreds of miles of gravel logging roads. Some are in good shape and still being used for logging, others are shut off and overgrown two tracks that are only accessible by foot or mountain bike.