Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spring is in the Air! Book Your Fishing Trip and Gift the Fisherman in your life!

Spring is coming faster than you think, give a gift that will inspire memories to last a life time. Imagine this....
The Missouri River from Wolf Creek to Cascade Montana has some of the finest Fly Fishing for trout found anywhere.
Drop dead gorgeous scenery abounds in all directions, 
 Huge Trout and beauty unsurpassed, hard to beat,
This season give a gift for the Spring, Summer, or Fall.
Spring fishing starts at the begining of March, great fishing for hungry trout gorging on Midges and Baetis. Dry fly, Streamers or Nymphing . The bonus this time of year is ....No weeds! Clear cool water...
 And did I mention.. Big Trout!
The Summer months are warm and  it is comfortable to wet wade. Hatches are incredible, Caddis, PMD's , Trico's, Hoppers, Ants and Beetles, there are many options for fishing.
The Fall season starts with the first big storm, usually in the first week of October. The hatches are some of the best found on any river. Midges in the mornings, Baetis the rest of the day, great Dry Fly fishing Sun or Clouds, but on the cloudy days the river can be covered with Mayflies.
Spring , Summer, or Fall, wonderful fishing, beautiful scenery, top quality, professional guides.
Book a trip today, a 50% deposit will hold your dates for the up coming 2014 season.  Call 406 459 9642, or E-mail markdaly2010 CASCADE OUTFITTERS

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Driving On The Other Side ( Part 25 )

Bender reaches Christchurch around mid-day, Billy is stunned by what he see's . Homes, stores, schools, Apartment building all in ruins, destruction in all directions, he is glad his destination is out and away from town, and, the congrete jungle that has fallen to ruins. Transportation in and out of town are at a stand still, the Airport is shut down, along with the Rail lines, the only means of travel is the road system, and it is bumper  to bumper all through the city. Bender is trying to make his way to the southern part of the city to join Highway 73 and drive 12 Kilometers west to the Hunters Farm, but it is slow going, and at times at a complete stand still.
Directly to the East,  Jane and Kelly are making their way south towards Te Anau, traffic is very light, and the girls are not completely aware of the devastation that has occurred on the other side of the Island. They have been driving for a couple of hours when Kelly ask Jane " so, what do you think Billy was up to staying in the wine country". Jane turns to Kelly and replies " I don't know , and, I don't care, Billy is going to do what he wants, so , why should I worry about it ?" Before Kelly could say anything , both girls were looking hard at a hitch hiker with his tumb out , standing on the side of the road. Jane, " is that Mark from Montana without the sexy swede ?" Kelly boast, " I believe it is, look at that, could be our lucky day".  Jane turns to Kelly with both eyebrows raised and ask " Who's WE whiteman, remember the deal, you said you would be happy with the sexy swede, and I had dips on Mark, RE- MEM- BER?" Kelly sighs and with a pathetic look on her face  and begs " com'on Janie I'm ready to pop, I'm soooo ready, coul, oh hi Mark , funny to find you out here all alone, by the side of the road". Leaning on the drivers side of the landcruiser Mark sticks his head into the vehicle and announces, " ladies, you have no idea how good it is to see you two, I have been out here for hours, man I'm I hot" .With a devilish smirk, Jane pipes in with"  Throw your pack in the back and climb aboard, with a muffled voice adds, your not the only one who is hot, and then leans her head way back and laughs".
Billy, after what seems like hours driving through Christcurch finally is heading West on highway 73, traffic is flowing on this secondary road, most people were heading  south just to escape the nightmare. Bender is heading straight toward the Snowy Mountains, and with each kilometer he see's an improvement  in the realm of reality. It appears like east of Christchurch was for the most part, spared from all the devastation that Bender can see in his rear view mirror. The fault line moves in a North -South direction, most of the damage was along the fault, Bender knew he was driving in the right direction. At  kilometer 11 Billy slows to look at mail boxes with hopes of seeing the name Hunter written on the side, no need, just ahead is an entrance with a large wooden gate , and on both sides of the gate are two matching , 14 ft tall  de-barked trees trunks, there is a 3 ft tall banner like wooden sign  that connect the two trunks that reads " HUNTER", pretty hard to miss. Just inside the gate is a small house made of stone and wood with a dark Blue Metal roof, as Billy approached the gate, out popped a Maori looking women carrying  a large set of keys, she smiles with a total of five teeth showing, and ask , " are you Mr Bender?" Billy nod's his head. The women holds the gate open as Billy drives through, Bender stops to thank the gate keeper , and she adds, " stay on the main road for about 3 kilometers, the road follows the river to the main house, you'll be right , no worries", Bender smiles, says thank you , and then continues on a well maintained gravel road that indeed follows  just above a beautiful spring creek like river that Billy soon finds out is named, The Hunter.
With Montana Mark sitting in the back, both girls attack with questions, firing like machine guns during an assault. First Jane ask ," So, where is the sexy swede?, are you two still together?, are you heading down to do the Milford track?, how long do you plan on traveling?, when did you leave the States?" Montana Mark is smoking on the small pipe that Jane handed him as he entered the  Landcruiser, with a breath holding, "well..., exhale, so many questions and so much time,  wow, that is so nice, that hits the spot, thank YOU, now, Anna and I split up that day I met you two! In that small hut, remember, there were two other backpacks, well , it turns out, that two young, really cute Aussie girls were the owners of those packs. After you two hiked off, these two walk into the hut, completely naked, I didn't mind , but Anna thought it was a bit much, she got pissed off, then looked at me and said , "lets go". So, we hiked out  about 30 minutes behind you two. When we got out to the road, Anna told me she was heading North, and as you know, I planned on doing the Milford Track  to the far south, so, she went her way and I went mine." Kelly turned toward the back seat and said" Poor little Anna, don't worry we will take care of you"'

Driving On The Other Side ( Part 24 )

On the  West Coast  at Lake Brenner the damages from the great Quake were minimal, registering a mere 3.3 on the Richer scale. Inside a lake side cabin, Jane and Kelly are simultaneously awakening,  not because they want to, but rather due to a penetrating and powerful early summer sun, beaming  through the large east side window that looks  out on the lake . " Did you feel that movement last night "Kelly ask Jane. " No, what are you talking about, what, movement? Kelly, sweetie, we will get you laid , I promise, just hang in there", Jane says laughing,  laying in her double sized bed, the sheets pushed down to her feet. "Janie, no I'm serious, there was like an earthquake or something, you didn't feel it" ask Kelly as she rises from bed and heads to the coffee maker. Jane, " no, I can safely say that I did not feel a thing until this morning when I noticed how dry my mouth was, and how hot it is in here". Kelly replies,"Well, I'm telling you, the earth moved last night and it had nothing to do with my dreaming about that hunky, blonde, Aussie stud Alex last night. Jane laughs and says, " what ever, it is just a beautiful day, we should pack up and head down to the Milford Track and start our hike".
As Billy drives out of the driveway and on to the main highway towards Christchurch, he is stunned to see the amount of debris on the roadside and the road itself. There are men in blue jump suits and yellow hard hats with chainsaws, cutting trees  to be moved off the tarmac. There are men working about every three Kilometers, cutting and moving branches , and fallen trees, Billy notices that even some stone and brick walls have fallen over from the horrifically strong  Quake. There is destruction everywhere, it is a disaster of the worst kind, and appears to be getting worse as Billy drives south  towards the southern capital, Christchurch.
After a light breakfast, the girls load the land cruiser, and start the drive South to start the two day hike on the Milford Track. Driving through Moana they spot a super market, and decide to buy what they will need for two nights out while camping . As they enter the market there is a newspaper stand , where the two notice  huge letters in the Headline, "CHRISTCHURCH DESTROYED" Quake 7.2, destruction all over the East Coast, 200 plus hospitalized, death count now at 32 and rising. " I told you "says Kelly," it was in the middle of the night, the room was just rolling, of course you were snoring." The photos show buildings  completely destroyed, homes crushed, cracks in the ground, destruction of the worse kind. Jane holding  the news paper firmly on both sides, drops it downward, then looks up at Kelly  and with a look of dis- belief and  shouts , " Billy, shit, he's in Christchurch, I've got to call him". Jane is shaking and having a difficult time dialing, there is no answer, She tries again , no answer, " Shit , shit , shit, I can't believe this", comes from the pacing honey blonde. Jane keeps trying, nothing,  Kelly then says, " Janie, try a text, maybe he is out of range some place, but he might get a text". Jane does send a text, she is waiting , and waiting, nothing,  the two girls decide to shop for food since they were right there. While trying to decide on which cheese would do better for camping, Jane's phone  makes a soft sound of a guitar strum, it's a text, " Janie, I'm fine, spent the night way north of CC in the wine country, hope your OK , my best to Kelly, miss you, Billy". Kelly with raised  eye brows  says, " Wine country, Janie I don't think you even want to know..." Jane with a look of discuss says " Well , at least  the SOB is still alive". The two girls finish shopping, load the bags and start the drive to the Milford track, Jane pulls out the small pipe and the interior of the Land Cruiser fills with the sweet white smoke, it's a beautiful day on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Driving On The Other Side ( Part 23 )

At the Pub, both girls start feeling worn out, Jane tries to block a yawn and Kelly see's this and cannot cover her mouth fast enough, both start laughing and giggling. Finally, Jane says " Kelly, I have got to hit the hay, I don't know about you, but I'm beat". The surfer dudes look anxious, Alex barks out, " girls, it's really early, we can go out dancing later, but the disco doesn't  open for two more hours, com'on, don't split yet". Jane stands and pronounces," I'm going to bed, long day for this gal, I can't wait for my head to hit the pillow. Are you coming with me Kelly, or are you waiting to hit the disco with these two young men?" Kelly grabs her bag that was strapped hanging over the back of her chair, stands, then tucks her wavy red hair behind her ear and announces " Janie, I'm with you girl, let's hit the hay, I am baked, sorry boys , you picked some old ladies"."Ooohhh " came from the mouths of C and Alex, the boys felt like it was their lucky night, but they were wrong, it just was not in the cards.
After sitting alone for sometime on the back veranda watching the Moon rise and the trout feed on top of the placid lake surface, Billy starts to feel his eyelids become heavier and heavier, until he catch's himself snoring on the couch. 'OK, " Bender was thinking that he indeed, needed to go to bed, tomorrow will be a very interesting day, thought Billy.
Bender laid in bed fantasizing about Kate Granger, her smell, her smile, which seemed to turn up just slightly at the corners of her seductive lips. He was thinking how nice it would be to run his hands through her dark red, thick hair from behind and caress and kiss her long elegant neck. Bender was just starting to nod off when he heard his watch and some coins on the night stand start to rumble and move. Then, Billy could feel the bed start to gyrate and shake, at first he thought that someone was trying to awake him, but the whole room started rolling, like being on a small boat on a rough sea. The door to his room opened quickly, with a panicked Kate Granger  holding on to the door knob, " Billy, it's a bloody Earthquake" exclaimed Kate. Bender sat up covering his privates , but his hairy chest fully exposed. Kate was wearing a sheer sleeveless silk nighty cut short and barely covering her lady parts. Billy did not have to wonder what Kate wore to bed any longer, the reality was better than his wildest  imagination. Another big roll from the center of the earth planted  Kate stumbling atop of Bender and into his bed . " Billy , I hate these earthquakes, please hold me, hold me tight". What seemed like an hour of  horror in reality lasted  around 2-1/2 minutes, when the shaking subsided there was a eerie quiet, Kate and Bender laid in bed looking into each others eyes, and then, began to lightly and slowly kiss.
The next morning, Billy and Kate both awoke in each others arms very early. Kate kissed Bender with a short peck on the lips , then got moving quickly toward her own room. The Inn was a huge mess, things had fallen off of shelves, off of tables , there where cabinets that had tobbled over nearly breaking all contents. There were broken bottles of wine in the dinning room, and food all over the kitchen floor. It was just a mess, and now it needed to be dealt with, quicker the better. The staff  got going as soon as they knew Kate was awake, not wanting to disturb her. On the Tele was news about the Great Quake, 7.2 on the Richter scale, a huge earthquake. The anchor on the news was speaking very excited and was saying that  Parts of Christchurch are demolished, that the epicenter was right in Christchurch, and hundreds are hospitalized  and the death toll was close to 22 people, and the count would most likely rise.
Billy walked into the dinning room to find Kate and the staff scurrying about cleaning like small tornado's. "Oh Billy this is such a mess, I'm so sorry, I'll get your breakfast" came from a obvious shaken Kate Granger. Billy blurts out " can I help?" "No, no, please be seated, I'll have your breakfast in just a minute", came from an apologetic Kate Granger." I have bad news, Christchurch was at the epicenter, and the damages are extensive, building have crumbled, houses destroyed, many are in the hospital, and the death toll is 22 and rising, it's a bloody huge disaster" came from Kate.
Billy sat eating breakfast with Kate, when Kate jumped up and blurted, " Jack and Heddy, I'll call them right now, I hope they are alright, they live only 12 kilometers out of Christchurch, my god, what a disaster". In less than five minutes  Kate returned to say that the Hunters were fine, minimal damages, and that they are expecting Billy later that day. They were expecting Billy anytime, that Ann was unfortunately called to Auckland to meet with a photographer who is setting up a shoot in Australia, but she left word that Mr Bender might be coming , and to make sure he is well taken care of. Billy's cell phone rings  and it is Ann Hunter," Billy are you alright? Where are you? I didn't know if you were coming down or not, I have to fly to Australia for a photo shoot, I'm so sorry." Bender, " No worries, I'm fine , there was minimal damage here, I'm staying with Kate Granger, I just decided to spend the night here in the wine country, and it turns out you both know each other",  " Katie, put her on", the two women banter back and forth , there is laughter, giggling, some serious talk, then Billy is returned the phone.  Ann says , "Billy, if you would, please  go and stay at my parents farm, they are expecting you, and they may need an extra hand, there is an outside chance that I may get some time off , and if I do I'll be back home in three days, I'll call you tonight, gotta run, talk later".
Bender  packs the Taurus wagon, then head into the Inn to thank Kate for everything and to square up on the bill. Kate is behind the counter, making sure there is some physical barrier between herself and Bender.  It is awkward for both, there is something between them, but Billy is heading south. "I just want to thank you for everything kate", comes from a stumbling Bender, Kate smiles, Billy adds, " so what are the damages? Oops maybe  the wrong term, how about how much do I owe you", they both smile and Kate says,"nothing your welcome here anytime, if it doesn't work out with Ann, remember, I'm here all alone" Billy leans over the counter and very softly kisses Kate Granger on her luscious lips, then turns and walks to the car . Billy waves, then starts yet another adventure driving south towards the demolished city of Christchurch...

Driving On the Other Side ( Part 22 )

Friday, December 30, 2011

Driving on the other side ( Part 22 )

At the Pub in Moana, Jane is direct and asked the two red eyed surfer dudes, "so, just how old are you two"? The two blurry eyed boys look at each other with a look of surprise, "Uh, my name is Alex, I'm 24 and I'm from Sydney, this is my mate, his name is Christian, but you can call him C". Earlier, Jane in her haste to get some food in her, slipped on a pair of panties and a short, loose fitting white sun dress that was adorned with small colorful flowers. Her honey colored hair was pulled back in a pony tail, she wore no make up, she slipped on a pair of tan clogs and was ready. As usual Jane looked incredible, without any effort Jane Greenfield could turn a man's head at 100 yards. Kelly looked playful, she was a much more attractive women then she gave herself credit. It was the lack of attention for so many years from her ex that broke down Kelly's confidence. Kelly was lightly made up, she wouldn't dare go out before putting her "face on". She wore a short, dark brown skirt, and a tan, tight fitting, sleeveless cashmere top, and 2 inch tan pumps, she looked hot.  Kelly's shoulder length red hair was just combed out,  naturally wavy, both girls had a look of being sun kissed from returning from their hike earlier. Jane leaned forward with a serious look, exposing her enormous cleavage and invited the two Aussies to join them, the boys could not find their chairs fast enough, Alex signaled the waitress for drinks all around, "my shout", exclaimed the obviously excited surfer dude.
Bender realized that he was completely under dressed for his dinner date with Kate Granger, but Kate's warm smile eased his worries , as Kate reached out with a quarter filled large glass of red wine, she said, " It's our best Pinot Nior, I hope you like it. Please , be seated", came from a smiling  and elegant dark red haired beauty. The small wooden table was adorned with two crossing long white linen banners that left the rest of the wood exposed. White linen napkins were atop-ed with sterling silverware, and in the center piece there were three tall white candles, and, salt and pepper shakers, both in Sterling. In front of each large China dinner plate was a small arrangement of local Spring flowers, on the right side were matching small salad plates. Billy helped Kate be seated and then sat and said ,"Kate, wow, this is much more than I expected, this is wonderful, thank you ". Both raised their glasses and took a sip of wine, before the put their glasses down, out from the Kitchen came two uniformed, white gloved wearing young women carrying large bowls that had extra large silver serving spoons that were protruding off to each side.  Kate was served first, she adds," tonight we are having red stag medallions in a brandy cream sauce, boiled potatoes, basil-ed carrots, and Spring salad with a balsamic dressing, all grown here on the property, I hope you enjoy".
The food is exquisite, perfectly prepared, Bender has seconds on the venison, Kate barely eats a thing, but does manage to finish the salad and Vegi's. The conversation is polite and casual, Kate suggest to have dessert out on the back deck, it is a warm evening, and the moon is nearly full. The two move out to be seated on a small couch on the back veranda that over looks the lake. The moon is just rising and reflecting off the placid small lake, it is a rare Spring evening in the southland of New Zealand. Kate looks surreal in the light being reflected from the Lake, like a Bond girl on the big screen. Kate starts to light another cigarette, when Billy ask, "would you like to smoke something besides a cigarette"? Then from his upper shirt pocket displays a hand rolled looking cigarette. Kate with a look of surprise, tosses her thick red locks backward, exposing her long elegant neck then laughs. "OK, it's such an unusually warm, windless evening, and this is such a unexpected pleasant surprise, why not"!
Billy and Kate both take turns inhaling the sweet smoke of the Rangatikie Red Bud, and take in the the view of the Moon rising over the far off Mountains that seem to take guard protecting the endless rows of the young grape plant that are attached to wooden post. In the small Lake, Mayflies are hatching, the sound of gulping trout fill the air. Kate turns to Bender and asks, " so, tell me what are your plans, you told me about work, I don't mean that, I mean this week, tomorrow, what are you going to do"? Bender looks into the hazel eyes of Kate Granger  and says," tomorrow I'm off to Christchurch, I met a women on the flight down, she is someone that really moved me in just a short time. I need to see if what appeared to be a real connection is in fact just that. She is someone special, one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, she is talented, successful  she Fly fishes, shoots, we have many things in common, I can't stop thinking about her. Kate asks, " who is it, Christchurch, I know a lot of people from Christchurch". Bender hesitates, then says, " Ann hunter, I'm sure you know who she is". Kate tosses her head back and lets out a very un- lady like laugh, then adds, " Ann, I've known her all of her life, her parents are good friends of mine, of course I know her, she is a lovely girl! Does Jack and Heddy know your coming"? Just then Billy realizes that he'd forgotten to call, "oh shit, I meant to call and let them know I was coming, it completely slipped my mind". Kate says" don't worry, I'll call them in the morning to let them know you are on your way, they are wonderful people and dear friends, no worries"!
The sexually charged electricity that permeated the air all evening , seemed to wisp away along with the thick, sweet, white smoke of the red bud. Kate and Bender both starred at the Moon lit Lake and watched large Brown Trout porpoise in small u's pouncing atop of the lake surface eating  large yellow Mayflies. After a long and awkward silence Kate says,"It's late ", " Billy, thank you for your company, it was a delightful evening, but I'm off to bed, sleep well, I'll see you at breakfast, 7:30 am OK"? Bender replies", no thank you, for everything Kate, your a wonderful host, and it is a pleasure to spend time in your company, 7:30 is perfect, thanks again, sleep well, good night".
As Kate walked off to bed,  a gentle breeze left a light sweet smell of Kate's perfume lingering, Billy could only hear the click, click, click of Kate's heels on the wooden porch as she went off to prepare for bed, and Billy could not help to wonder what Kate Granger wore to sleep, if in fact she wore anything at all.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

End of the 2012 Fishing Season, Missouri River, Cascade MT

A beautiful September day looking down stream at Mountain Palace.
It is always a sad moment when the drift boat is dismantled and put away for the winter season.This past September we had an exceptionally warm month, interrupted in the first week of October with  near blizzard conditions, changing the complexion of the serene, calm, long hot days of September. The first big storm of the Fall, starts (in my opinion) some of the best Dry Fly fishing found anywhere. The hatches of Midges and Baetis ( Grey and Blue winged olives)  are some of the strongest hatches of Mayflies found on any river in the American West, or any river on the Planet.
Large groups of fish referred to as "pods" gather along the current banks and drop off''s to gorge on the parade of the small dull colored mayflies feeding like "Pacman" in a very constant rythem . This phenomenon  occurs daily, sun or clouds from late morning until late afternoon. For those who are hard core Dry Fly fishermen,  this is a "bucket list" must. This past Fall we were lucky to have wonderful fishing up to the Mid-part of November.
I write this the day after Thanksgiving, there is a bizzard on it's way from the Northern Canadian Tundra. Along with bad news is the good news, Ducks and Geese are flying down this way as I write this, the ammo bag is full, the decoys are bagged and ready, my black lab Pearl is rested, and another season begins!

Monday, January 30, 2012

End of the Bird Hunting Season Ritual (Part 3)

JANUARY 29, 2012

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My last post was about Goose hunting, the place where I’d found this wonderful spot was due to it being my favorite Upland area. Usually, I hunt in the mornings, going out before work, sitting in an office most of the day talking on the phone to bankers, title people, and other Realtor’s. The reason I found the goose hunting spot was because one particular day I decided to get out late afternoon to give my dog a good run. Normally I enjoy to get out early, the light in the morning’s make the getting out of bed worth while. In the late Fall, the sunrise’s are breath taking, the air is crisp, and sometimes down right cold. But generally, it warms as the sun rises and with all the walking makes getting out very comfortable.
This past 2011 season was one of the best I have seen for weather, but the lack of birds made some days extremely disappointing. As you know from my last post, the goose # s are extremely strong, but due to the two harsh Spring snow blast that we have seen in 2010 and 2011, it really effected the upland bird numbers, at least in our area, and from what I’ve heard, in most area’s around the State of Montana.
I’m sure reading these post one must think I get to hunt all the time, not true, I do try to get out when ever I can, and living in an area where one can hunt ten minutes from town, it helps to encourage one to strap on the boots , and get out and walk. But, I have never had the chance to hunt as much as I’ve wanted, maybe a good thing, keeps me hungry to get out when I can.
In the first two post I wrote about starting the season off with my 20 gauge  Remington wing-master, usually until Duck and Goose season starts. Then , I start using my Benelli 3 1/2 inch 12 gauge for waterfowl. But my favorite gun, and my go-to gun for all occasions is my 12 gauge C_Z over and under.
This is a gun that is easy to carry on long walks, it is quick to shoulder, easy to shoot. Even while out upland hunting I always carry a box of Steel shot just in case Ducks or Geese appear.
This past season I saw the fewest numbers of Huns I’ve seen in over twenty years. It must be due the the huge snow fall we had late in the Spring of 2011. But, I did manage to get into a few covey’s, not in their usual places, but in a new area that I started hunting  just this past season . Scouting out this new property meant to drive the entire farm. It had two small creeks on the property and near these creeks are were I found the birds. Food , Shelter, and Water is a good starting point when looking for Huns, it usually pays off, and this past season was no exception. As I was driving and looking for signs of birds, I found a small dirt road that paralleled a meandering creek that cut through a alfalfa field, and near the main gravel road, it wound it’s way through a wheat stubble field. It did not take long, as I came up and over a small hill, there they were, 25 or so Huns running for the shelter of  the Alfalfa field. I stopped and loaded the Over and Under,  let the dog out  and she was on them like white on rice. The covey had started to break up, but the chirping of the  one of the adult bird’s warned them to fly now, and almost the entire covey flew in unison to an area on the other side of the creek. As they rose I took one of the birds that had gotten up nearest me, Pearl brought it back to hand, but quickly was nose to the ground, birdy and working the area near where the covey had risen. I was thinking that maybe she was still smelling the covey from before, with so many birds they leave quite a scent trail. So, I started to walk in the direction of where the covey landed. Pearl was persistent, working the area with her nose to the ground in a quick back and forth motion not giving up. I turned to call her when the “sentinel” adult bird  flushed and flew right by me , he fell on this side of the small creek, and Pearl retrieved this one with a smile on her face, she knew she had done her job.
We crossed the snake like creek on a bend just near where I had marked the covey had landed. Much to my surprise my black lab did not seem to find any scent. So, of course we walked the entire area, nothing, it seemed as though the 23 birds that remained had vanished. I don’t give up easy, so we walked , back and forth for up to close to half an hour, my dog was starting to give me that look,  like  ”buddy, they are not here, lets go” . It was a warm morning so I was thinking these birds could be in one of  two places, in and around the Alfalfa field where it is cooler, or they ran for the small patch of CRP  just beyond the Alfalfa. The Alfalfa wasn’t yet cut so it seemed like a logical place for the birds to hide. We zig-zaged our way quickly through the uncut grass, Pearl once again was looking back giving me that look, so we headed into the small patch of CRP, Pearl was racing through the tall older CRP with a huge smile and  her tail was really going. Just then I saw a Hen Pheasant rise just above the grass and drop down to the same spot, Pearl was racing around in a frantic pace, when yet again in a different spot another Hen Pheasant did exactly the same thing. Just then Pearl ran to me with something in her mouth, it was a small chick Pheasant, I told her to drop , and she did, the chick scurried off to join 6 or 7 other baby Pheasants all running for their lives to join their mom. It was strange to find at the end of  September Pheasants still on their nest. This was a breeding area, so I quickly called my lab and we headed out of there and back to the car. Due to the huge snow fall in the Spring, it appeared that the Pheasants were trying to make up for the kill off in the Spring, and were trying to have a late second clutch. The rest of the Huns got away that day, but I did return a week later, and it turned out to be a carbon copy of the first day. Shot two , and the other’s vanished….
This past year I did not get out to hunt Pheasants like I usually do, but I did have some fun hunts. I missed the opening, I was guiding fishermen on the Missouri river, my other job, that I have been doing for the past 25 years.  Near town, there was a new ranch/farm that opened up for the public to hunt. I drive by this area on my way to work each day, and it did have quite a few hunters on the property each time I passed. I tried to get on this property most of the season, but each time I’d call it was booked. So, I hunted my old spots, that did not seem like there were that many birds as in years past.
My first opportunity to get out and hunt Pheasants was at the end of October, I ‘d gotten up very early around 5:00 am, my black lab Pearl knew what we were going to do, and followed me every step throughout the house , not to let me from her sight. As I dressed for the morning hunt, my dog was right at my feet watching every move I made , stretching, and barking in protest that I was moving much too slow, she was ready. We arrived to the hunting grounds to find that we were the first ones there, good, now I can go where ever I want. I know this property very well, and headed right to the heart of where I’ve always found birds in the past. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny October morning, and lucky for me the wind was down, it was calm, just the way I like it.
My dog has a different look on her face when she knows we are going Pheasant hunting, once she is in the hunting grounds she gets serious , she knows that these birds will hold. Pearl has learned to stop and listen for movement in the Goose berry bushes, it is not always about scent. There is nothing better than either seeing , or hearing a Pheasant before you dog does and watch her find the bird you already know is there. This day was a classic, the birds were right were they were suppose to be, they got up within range, and I went 3 for 3 , it could not have been better.
I hunted a dozen or so more times this past season, and I always got at least one bird, but compared to years past, this was a difficult season as I have seen in many years.
The Sharptail grouse is a bird that will almost always do well, even on big snow years, due to the fact that they love to perch, high, even in large trees. You can often find sharpies just after a  fresh snow fall , sitting  in large covey’s high in Cottonwood trees, out of the snow.
This past year it was the only one of the big three that I think the numbers were down but not at he same level as the Huns nor the Pheasants, Sharpies are survivors. Living here in Cascade, I often times see Sharpies right in town, perched on the tops of the Fur and Cottonwood trees. Last season were had quite a bit more snow than this season, and last season I ran into giant coveys of Sharpies, their numbers were close to 200 birds. This is generally in December, when many smaller coveys come together to stay warm during the dead of winter. This season has been much more mild, and I have yet to see the covey’s unite, maybe they will not, it is suppose to be in the 50′s this coming week.
I had a few good hunts, one day back in November, I hunted in a CRP field looking for Pheasants, when my dog got very birdy, and stated tracking what I first thought was a Pheasant the way the bird were running.  I was following quickly behind her for a good five minutes, she was right behind something, never loosing scent. We followed the birds to an edge of a stubble field, and much to my surprise up came a Sharptail, I made a good long shot and dropped it, Pearl made the retrieve and we continued in pursuit. She got back on scent and after chasing the birds all the way back where we started, this time three more sharpies got up, I doubled , Pearl made the retrieves, and I was more than satisfied to get three birds before going to the office and work.
The end of the season ritual is the final cleaning of the guns, that will be put away for the next 8 months. I always clean my guns each and every time I hunt. But at the end of the season the guns get a very thorough and complete cleaning, and after the cleaning are heavily oiled to protect against the  rust during the time they sit in storage for another season. It is always a sad day for my hunting partner Pearl when she see's this ritual, and the guns are put in the closet until the next hunting season commences.

End of the Bird Hunting Season Ritual (Part 2)

End of the Bird Hunting Season Ritual (Part 2)

JANUARY 28, 2012

1 Vote
From my first post I spoke about my early season hunting and how I started the hunting season with my Remington Wing Master 20 gauge. Most years here in Montana the Duck and Goose season starts the first week of October. This is generally when the 20 gauge is put away and my Duck Gun is brought into action. This is a Bennelli Pump, 12 gauge that can shoot 31/2 inch shells , that I feel more confident when shooting large Canadian geese.
I really enjoy shooting ducks, mainly because I like eating  most species that fly through Montana. This past season here on the Missouri river it did not seem like the Ducks stuck around very long, we would get a storm out of Canada that would move birds into our region, and it seemed like within days they would move on. 25 years ago here on the Missouri River near Cascade, we would have Ducks all over, Mallards were common, you could find them from Ulm all the way to Holter Dam. It was easy to go out and get a limit of Green Heads, and even a few Wood Ducks would be in the back channels along with Pintails, Red heads, and Widgon. This past season it appeared that the ducks did not stay around like the did in years earlier, my feeling is that the weather had alot to do with the ducks moving onward.
Speaking with another Realtor in our office who grew up near Cascade and has been waterfowl hunting the area for the past 50 years, he remarked that when he was a kid the Missouri River was full of Mallards. Thick with Mallards and other ducks, but he said, this area had very few geese. A few Snow geese would pass through , but he said , the Canadian geese were a novelty. Interesting, because today this area is has a huge population of Canadian geese, there are many more geese today than there are ducks.
Now for me, I prefer to eat a Duck over a Goose, now that’s just me, but, if there are few ducks, and many more geese, well I’m one to be “when in Rome”…In the area around Cascade we have a perfect environment for both gain eating ducks and geese. this area is just at the beginning  of where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountains. On the Eastern part of our Valley, it is flat with mild rolling hills that are golden brown with wheat fields , inter mixed with CRP, that unfortunately are coming to the end of there contracts with the Federal Government . The CRP are farm lands that were “let go” without farming, and farmers were paid not to farm these fields. This was a huge bonus for upland bird hunters, the fields grew wild and the crops would mix with wild grasses, giving great cover and food for all the species of Upland birds. It will be interesting to see what develops in the next ten years as almost all of our CRP land are brought back into farming.
One of the reason’s this area is a perfect waterfowl environment is due to the Missouri River. All along the river, are the grain fields, but, this is not enough just to have the food. The birds need a safe place to “roost”, or rest and sleep at night. This rich aquatic environment of the Missouri has over the centuries developed Islands, big and small, that give a safe refuge for the waterfowl from predators like fox, coyotes and Man.
This past season I set up a blind in an area that was on one of the main flying paths that ducks and geese would use to fly from their roost to feed in the wheat fields, and later in the day, would change fields due to wind, or hunting pressure in the fields. I had some great days, but I was disappointed in the numbers of ducks that were in the area, but the number of geese made up for it, and most days the goose shooting was fair to good.
While upland hunting one afternoon, in an area that I usually use, I noticed that a great number of geese would fly off there safe spot on the river in-which they use during the heat of the day to rest and digest there morning feast, and would fly in a bee- line to a  wheat field some two miles off the river. The line that they flew was directly over the field I usually hunt for Pheasants, Huns and Sharptail grouse.  My dog Pearl and I hid near a fence line and watched as platoons  from 10-50 geese flew over, very low just coming off the river. This went on for a good 45 minutes, as platoon after platoon kept coming,  at times filling the sky, and, the honking as they flew over was near deafening with so many of the noisy Canadian flying to enjoy their last meal of the day. I knew not to shoot more than two, just because I knew I’d have to carry these large birds back a mile or so to the car. It was a perfect set-up, as the big Canadians came off the river, they were flying right into a blinding sunlight, and against a strong South Westerly wind, low and hungry. I took two birds in two shots, Pearl made the retrieves, and with the sun just starting to set  we started the walk back to the car. On the walk I made plans for the next day, carrying the birds was the most difficult part of the hunt. I decided to empty my decoy bag, and use that to transfer the heavy geese , it would be much easier to use my big canvas backpack of a decoy bag to move the geese out of the field.
The next day, Pearl and I arrived around the same time, late afternoon, same conditions, wind was out of the South West , and it was really blowing, the sun was low on the horizon, perfect. I wore clothing that would blend in with the yellow-golden grass and wore a tan hat a a light brown camo “Buff” to hide my face. I had found a ditch just below a hill  that was right on their path, it would be a perfect ambush spot. It was warm for November, Pearl and I waited basking in the warmth of a rare November Montana afternoon. Then it started, the sound was impressive, thousands of  geese sounding off to start their last feed of the day. Pearl was focused, listening the constant honking of what was flying toward us, trembling with anticipation, ready to retrieve the xtra large game-birds. They were flying right towards us, it was a wonderful sight, the first group had around 12 different platoons, some were out of range to our left side, and a few flew just out of range on our right, but the majority were heading right at us, low, slow, into the sun and wind. As the first platoon was in sight just above the hill , Pearl jumped up when she saw them, I grabbed her and settled her only to look up to see the geese were just overhead. I shot two, and they fell very close making a very load thug as they hit the ground. The birds were so low that they were “blown up”. The breast had quite a few steel shot, and the guts were exposed and hanging out. Pearl unfortunately got a good taste of the demolished birds, and did not run right back with the geese, but rather had stopped with the bloody goose, and, had it in mouth and was thinking this was pretty tasty. Hunting stopped right then and there as my bird dog and I had a close encounter, eye ball to eye ball, and a serious conversation about proper etiquette concerning  retrieving. I put the blood ridden goose in the extra large backpack, and had her retrieve the other goose, with me hot on her heels to ensure no funny stuff. She got the message, and we settled back down into our ambush mood, it didn’t take for about two minutes and the platoons were flying on a direct line right at us again. This time I stood just before the geese arrived, flaring the giant birds so they would rise and fly off just a bit , an easy shot , but one that would only kill and not mutilate. I double again, and we were through, it was time for the load carrying walk back to the car. The platoons kept coming and coming the entire time Pearl and I walked the mile or so back to the parking lot. From the time we started and returned to the car was well under two hours, this became my honey hole for goose hunting. I hunted this spot 7-8 times more during the season with the same results, as long as the sun was out , and the wind was from the usual South West, it was a great spot.
I’ll finish with (Part 3) next time (Upland)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Driving on the other side (Part 21)

One of the reasons the girls choose to stay where they did, was due to the fact that they would have an individual cabin, and, the fact that the cabin they choose was right on the lake with a stunning view. As they drove through the small town of  Moana, they noticed that one Pub seemed to be the hot spot and decided to check it out. The Pub's of the South Island had changed from the years past. In the old days, each Pub had two sides, one for women , and the other for men, usually there was a bar in the middle where both could eat, drink and mingle. These days most people just went to the bar in the middle, wow, now that is progressive. This Pub was a DB ( Dominion Bitters) Pub, the most popular drink in this part of the South Island. Jane and Kelly get a table instead of sitting at the bar, they were there to eat, they thought they could drink later. In the Pub's they almost always serve food, good food, and lots of it. The menus are typically pretty similar, Kidney and Steak Pie, Lamb Stew, Fresh Fish and Chips are always available, and typically a special of some sort , what ever is in season, tonight it was Venison ( Red Stag) in a cream brandy sauce.
Both Jane and Kelly had one thing in mind , and that was to eat, after smoking the red bud that Billy had given Jane, both girls were starving, and were focused on food. Everyone else in the bar were focused on the two women who just lit up the Pub with their beauty. The waitress appears with a small pad and an active pencil that is tapping the pad in a rapid pace. Whataya have girls?"Jane looks up to say" ah, menus please" The waitress with a look of discuss says, " it's written on the board behind you, there is fish, stew, pie, or if you'd like the special is bambi". Jane ops for the Fish and chips and Kelly the Lamb Stew, Jane ask for bread as well. At the bar, there were two young men who did not appear to be locals. They had wild sun bleached blonde hair, they were both dressed similar, with baggy canvas pants, loose fitting short sleeved shirts and Teva sandals. Jane noticed the two after she  had eaten three of the hot , fresh rolls that came accompanied with real butter. "Kelly, check these two dudes sitting at the bar behind you, they don't look like local's" says Jane casually. Kelly turns around to have a look, then turns back at Jane and says, " they look a little young, don't they"? Jane with a look of surprise replies, "since when did you get so picky'? Kelly with a defensive tone adds, "well don't they"?
The food came nun too fast for the weary travelers, both girls devoured their food  in what seemed just minutes, Jane with a devious smile lets out a small burp, and says, " that hit the spot"! Kelly sighs and says, "Oh man, I needed that , it was delicious.' Jane bends her head back and has a big laugh, only to return to see both tall young men standing directly behind Kelly's chair. " Good evening ladies, can we buy you a drink" came from the one of the surfer looking dudes, that appeared to have an Australian accent.
Back on the East coast, Billy enters the dinning room to find  Kate Granger sitting at the bar smoking a cigarette  with a enormous glass of red wine parked just in front of her. Billy is stunned to see the women he met earlier who was decked out in a loose fitting Logan green outfit  to now be looking absolutely ravishing. Kate wore four inch heels, a dark green emerald dress that was sleeveless and the front cut in an exposing V, it came to just below her knees. She was lightly made up, and wore diamond ear rings with a matching necklace , ring , and bracelet. Kate Granger was a stunner, Billy was speechless for a few seconds until Kate broke the silence with , " Billy , welcome, would you like to have a glass of Red or White wine"? Bender could feel hid heart pounding in his chest.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

End of the Hunting Season Ritual (Part 1)

Last week here in Central Montana the Hunting season for Ducks and Geese came to a end. The general "bird season" ended January 1st, that is for all upland birds including Pheasants, Hun's, and Sharptail Grouse. It is always a sad week for those who love to hunt, and for bird hunters, it is that time of year to prepare your guns for the eight month lay-off of being stored away, for yet another season which will resume on the first week in September 2012. I use three different shotguns during the hunting season. In September, I usually start hunting with my Remington wing- master, 20 gauge, upland model. I have had this gun for 20 years, it still has an excellent action, and over the past 20 years it has only jammed once, due to heavy shooting and my lack of cleaning the gun properly. It is an extremely light gun that is easy to walk with during the heat of September while I hunt Doves, Hun's, and Sharpies. In September I will hunt only early mornings, or, evenings due to the normal heart of the long September days. My black Lab Pearl does not take the heat well, and frankly, nor do I. Most birds are feeding in the cooler parts of the day, so this works out all the way around.
One September many years ago, I found an area with quite a few Mourning Doves that were resting on telephone lines right above a wheat stubble field that was freshly harvested. In between the field and just below the telephone lines was a irrigation ditch beaming with clean, clear water. The road I was driving was small gravel, it was a perfect place to expect many more doves in the field itself, than just the twenty or so birds I was seeing resting on the wires. There was a farm house at the far end of the wheat field, I dove in and asked the farmer if he minded me walking his field to shoot some doves. The cover-all wearing farmer was extremely friendly and told me to help myself.  I started just near the house, all shooting would be away from the house, so I could feel free to shoot and not worry about  shooting towards the white, red trimmed ranch style house.  The field  itself was around 60-80 acres, it was great bird cover for stubble, it was thick and golden in color, cut long with a good  five to six  inches standing erect toward the sky. My first few step got doves to flush, much like Quail, or, Hun's, small covey's of six to ten birds erupting quickly from the golden cover, and diverting into smaller pairs in all directions. I doubled on the first flush, my heart was racing trying to stay focused thinking of just how many birds there might be hiding and feeding in the newly cut wheat. While my black lab Pearl was retrieving the two downed birds, she flushed two other covey's, these two groups flew wildly in all directions, just out of shooting range. I called Pearl back, we rested for a short while and the resumed walking in a different direction. In less than three minutes we were into Doves once again, this time there was around five or six small covey's, I doubled once again, marked the downed birds and watch the lucky ones fly to the south eastern part of the field, and much to my surprise, land and presume feeding. This field was a Dove magnet, it had everything  they needed, it had good quality food, the stubble was long and thick for cover, there was water right there, plus gravel, and , the wires were a perfect perch.
It didn't take long to shoot four more birds, I had my "limit" and was more than satisfied for the quality and style of this Dove hunt. It was one of the first times that I was able to shoot doves in the classic rise form that one thinks of while shooting upland birds. Since this experience, I have looked forward to the early season, and spend my days trying to replicate this very special experience. It's never easy, the fields are rotated, some years are dryer than other, conditions are never the same, but , I continue to pursue the perfect dove field once again. (Part 2) on a later day...