Thursday, November 29, 2012

Black Friday... Shopping or Hunting?

I have gone black Friday shopping in the past but this year I didn't have it in me...  Mom was home and graciously offered to watch the kids for us so we decided to head out one more time to look for a whitetail doe for me.  This was the first deer hunt of the year that we didn't have at least one of the kids.  Slightly bittersweet really.  Dane is getting to be quite the little outdoorsman.  He will be quiet when asked, he doesn't mind bellycrawling beside you...  (although he will find little treasures to show you!) and he is getting to the point that he can hike and keep up pretty well.  

However, Kimber is at "that" age.  A little challenging all around. Too old to be happy falling asleep in the pack.  Too young to know how to be quiet or that bellycrawling is fun...  so it's a little harder with her along.  But, we try to keep her with us as much as possible.  The only way they learn, and the only way they grow is to keep at it.  I do have one memory from this year that I will hold dear for a long time.  Dane and I bellycrawled out to the edge of our property to look for deer below.  We scanned the area and saw that none were on our property yet, so I turned around to wave Clint and Kimber forward.  The next time I turned around, Clint is crawling with Kimber walking right beside him with a hand on his back.  The smile on her face and the fact that she was (almost) the same height as him (crawling) just made me happy to have her along, sharing these moments with us.

Okay, back to black Friday!  Packing for this hunt was remarkably easy...  so we quickly got our gear together, dropped Dane and Kimber off at Grandma's with hugs and kisses,  (they didn't miss us a bit!) and headed out to one of our favorite spots.  As we hiked up the bottom, Clint spotted a whitetail buck bedded down in a tiny draw, looking uphill.  We laid down and started looking harder.  That is when we realized that there was a doe bedded down right above him.  
We admired them for a few minutes and discussed the shot.  It was 189 yards.  She was bedded down in a position that I couldn't shoot her in the chest so the choice was either wait for her to stand up, or shoot her in the neck.  Well, I've never shot one in the neck before (at any range) so I was hesitant.  But, Clint said he believed in me and the choice was mine.  As I studied her though the scope I felt steady and confident, so I decided to take the neck shot.  Things went as I had planned and we had harvested our final deer for the season with one shot.  

The buck was obviously rutting pretty hard, cause he didn't want to leave his girlfriend!  We were able to get some nice pictures of him before he finally decided that we were up to no good.

After enjoying the view and the experience we thanked the beautiful doe for her sacrifice  loaded up and headed out.  It was truly a wonderful way to end the season!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A lot of fun with family

The child care facility that the kids go to is really great.  The hold all kinds of fun events including a Christmas Family Day.  This year Grandma and I took the kids and we all had a nice time.  There was cookie decorating; Kimber couldn't wait to get to the eating part...  in fact the frosting barely made it on the cookie.  There was also playdough, woodworking, and Santa!!!!
Dane was really excited to see Santa and hopped right up on his lap to chat without any hesitation. He sat down and asked Santa where his reindeer were...  then when prompted said that he wants a "real gun with real bullets".  Santa said that maybe a nerf gun would be better!
Kimber would not go near Santa and actually was quite adamant that she "doesn't like Santa".

Last weekend we headed out to go hunting on Friday.  The weather was pretty nice, a little cold and windy, but it was fun anyway.  Dane and I took a nice walk looking for some deer.  We didn't find any deer, but the view was beautiful and Dane had a really good time.  Kimber hung out with Daddy and they went and looked around for birds and such.  

Then on Saturday we went fishing on the Missouri with Kimber, Dane, Noah, and Kaylee. The weather was amazing and once we found the right spot, the fish were biting and fun was had by all. 
Kaylee reeled in a big one!  Great job!
Dane and his awesome Dad!  (my hot rockin' hubby!)

Noah and Kaylee

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Montana Snowstorm!

Our unseasonably warm dry weather ended a few days ago.  Montana was hit with a fun, snowy, cold storm!  Although inconvenient this is really what Montana is about!  Our good friend Noah invited us out to a ranch that he has permission to hunt and we readily agreed.  The weather was still pretty socked in and there is a solid foot of snow on the ground but we had doe tags for the area, and enjoy spending time with Noah and his family.  Kimber stayed back with Grandma, but we had Dane and Noah's two kids, Kaylie and Kyle!  
As we were following Noah on the way out, this was the view out the window of the truck.  It was just solid white!  We couldn't see where the snow ended and sky began!  It really shows how someone could get lost on a day like that!

As we turned off the paved road to drive down the dirt road leading to where we were going to hunt I watched Noah's full size truck breaking through the snow.  My first question to Clint was "did we bring a tow strap?"  He assured me that he brought a tow strap and then we discussed the fact that if we get into some deep drifts then we would call it and turn around.  (Hopefully before we got stuck!)
We followed a while, but when we turned and started to skirt the top of a coulee I saw that Noah's front bumper was pushing snow.  I mentioned to Clint I was feeling a little nervous about the potential for both trucks to get stuck and he agreed, so after chatting with Noah we hopped in with him and his kids for the remainder of the drive.  

Upon arrival we all piled out and headed off towards a large coulee.    Here is the crew!
I was bringing up the rear, herding kids and helping Dane in the deep snow.  Noah and Clint crawled over the edge to peek into the coulee and the kids and I slowly made our way to where they were.  The kids and I could see deer making their way up the far side of the coulee and while we were pointing and chatting I heard Clint shoot.  Then the guys peeked over the edge and waved me forward.  There was a yearling still in the bottom, but after thinking for a moment I decided I would pass.  Clint then headed back to the truck for the meat packs and Noah and I were going to head down, field dress the deer and wait for Clint.  As I was falling back from Noah with the three kids, I looked down the steep sides into the coulee and realized that getting all three kids down might be a challenge, but getting them all back up might be too much!  So we decided to turn around and head back to the truck while the guys went down to the deer.  (A choice we later decided was super smart!)

Here is Clint headed up out of the bottom with a deer on his back.  
You can see that the snow was pretty deep, I'm sure that hauling that deer up on his back was quite the job!
When they got to the top, Noah took over on the meat pack and hauled the deer out the rest of the way!  The sun was just setting and it was quite the beautiful sight!
On days like these we are again reminded how fortunate we are...  Good friends, beautiful sunsets, and fun hunts in the snow!  It doesn't get much better than this!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spending time with the family!

The other night Shep came in for a while in the evening.  He is such a nice dog, and Clint is truly doing such a great job with him!  Here he is waiting at the top of the stairs, hoping to be invited down!

 He was thrilled when he got to come downstairs!  Here he is chllin' with his feet crossed and everything!  What a sweet pup!

 The last couple days have really been what Montana is all about...  snow and cold temps.  
Does this slow down Dane?  Not a bit!  Here he is last night playing out in it before dinner! 

 Then he got up this morning and headed back out with his daddy while Kimber and I went grocery shopping.  When we came home they were still outside, and this is their creation!  Needless to say, I was pretty impressed!  Nice snow house boys!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fall is upon us, the best time of year, hunting season

Tanya and have spend the last two days cutting up deer, which will lead to numerous meals for our family over the next year.  Towards the end of our two day marathon meat cutting adventure, we were both tired  and simply just done. We at times wonder why we do this.  Why don't we just buy meat at the store like every one else?  Well I looked at our photos from our Halloween day deer hunt, and if I didn't already know, I got a quick reminder. I posted just a few of the pics to share. The story is as follows: 
Tanya, Dane, Kimber and I have the pleasure of hunting an exceptional piece of property outside of Cascade, about twenty five miles from Great Falls.  This ranch has incredible habitat, full of deer, pheasants, and a variety of other wildlife.  There is an abundance of water, and we know of no other place like it.  The ranch is about two square miles, and it truly a haven for wildlife.  Tanya, the kids and I have hunted on this property for the past four years.  We have a developed a great relationship with the landowner, and he enjoys having us come out with the kids. We enjoy sharing our adventures with the kids.  Rather than spending the day decorating the house for children dressed in costumes, looking for candy, we spent the day out there, and Dane and Kimber didn't complain once about missing out on the candy. Over the course of the day, we took several deer. The best moment of the day was seeing Tanya belly crawling out into the wheat field and taking a beautiful whitetail buck with a single shot at 270 yards.  The kids were watching and after making sure the deer was down, Dane ran to the deer, he will be quite a little hunter in the future.  
As the sun was setting we heard tundra swans calling, as well Canadian geese flying out to the fields to feed for the night. Rooster pheasants were cackling all around us, and deer were in sight.  It is a pleasure to share this with our family, It is a pleasure to harvest our own meat.  It is an privileged to hunt on such a great ranch.  This is why we live in Montana, this is why we hunt.    
This is a picture of an ermine, a weasel, they are brown in the summer and turn white in the winter.  I spotted him in the field, and squeaked at him.  He ran all the way to the truck looking for an easy meal.  
Dane sitting by a very old willow tree felled by a beaver on one of the ranch ponds.  
 A young whitetail feeding in one of the wheat fields near us
We don't see a lot of fox in Montana but due to the incredible habitat in the area there is a ton of food for the fox.  We watched this one chase pheasants by the road, and hide as the vehicles came by, a smart fox he was.  
Tanya's Deer tag is filled, now the work is upon us.  What a woman, what a killer, and good kids to boot. 

Tundra Swans feeding in the pond, as well as wigeon and coots, there were over twenty swans in the pond.  They are elegant birds, and quite large.  They have a six foot wing span, and probably weigh over twenty five pounds. The grey one on the left is juvenile, and he has his head in the bottom of the pond feeding.  These little ponds are important stop over points for the migrating birds on there journey South for the winter.  
As we were field dressing Tanya's deer, she said, honey, can we wait a minute.  I think we are going to have a great photo of the geese flying into the sunset.  Priceless. The one below was taken a few minutes earlier   Simply put, big sky country.