ZACH BOWHAY DISCUSSES BOWHUNTING IN IDAHO WITH SOUTH & KODY
As my Grandpa once said, “Elk are exactly where you find ‘em!” This saying has always held a special place in my memory bank whether I’m chasing bugles in the thick jungle of Western Oregon or the high mountain peaks of Colorado. In my experiences, Rocky Mountain Elk and Roosevelt are very similar in their habits and actions; the main difference is the habitat that they reside in.
For the first 15 years of my elk hunting career, I was waist deep wading through the brush of the Oregon Coast Range pursuing Roosevelt Elk with a bow in my hand. From those early encounters, I’ve been fortunate to expand my boot tracks the last few years in a wide variety of landscapes chasing bugles of Rocky Mountain Elk. The obvious difference between the two sub-species is the size of their bodies and antlers. While Rockies generally top the record book with tremendous scores, the Rosies fill up the freezer with prime steaks! Both of the species intrigue me to pursue each September.
The hardest challenge with harvesting a Roosevelt bull is their habitat that they call home. The thick reprod (Reforested Tree Plantation) can create a physical barrier from accessing their afternoon beds. While this can be a curse, it has also been a blessing on some hunts. The jungle like terrain can conceal movements, enabling a up close and personal encounter without detection.
The key to my success over the years is locating tougher to access hunting grounds. Most these areas have been located on Private Timberlands. The restricted access programs often leave miles of gravel roads behind locked gates. During ‘Fire Season‘ these lands are generally closed to motor vehicle access, making it harder for people to access. (Click here for the Oregon Corporate Closure Access List) Mountain bike has been my choice of transportation. With custom trailers attached, I have essentially assembled my own pack horse. By pedaling into the vast vehicle restricted areas, I have found less hunting pressure, which I attribute to most of my success.
Much of their habitat is influenced by logging activity. The logging actually provides new habitat in which elk are often seen in the open clearcuts. These clearcuts are their feeding grounds. They will typically use the clearcuts in the evening, throughout the night and can be spotted leaving them at daylight. The big difference of their counterpart is they live within a small home range. Sometimes they will seek beds within eyesight of the feeding grounds. Movements are smaller and less distance is traveled on a daily basis.
Once they leave the clearcuts, concentrate on their bedding grounds. The thick timber patches or younger reprod is prime bedding habitat. If you are unable to locate them first off in the morning, shift your efforts to these areas as the day continues on.
Calling has been a myth amongst the ‘old-timers’. Many people said, “They don’t bugle!” My experiences are quite the contrary. A rutting Roosevelt may not be as vocal as a Rocky bull, but they are more territorial and aggressive! Locating a bugle is the hardest challenge. The mountains and trees don’t let the sound carry very far. Often time the hardest part is pinpointing where the bugle came from. Once located, I am very aggressive with calling and approach. Often I will run at the bull, simulating a threat from another bull. Typically with the wind in your favor, you can push the envelope and get within 60 yards or closer without being seen. Most of the time, the bull will counter your attack with a steadfast approach to the threat! Don’t be afraid to break branches on your charge. Simulate the natural sounds a rutting bull makes. Besides the vocalization, often I breathe through my bugle tube, emulating the sounds I’ve heard from approaching bulls. This in your face advance can be an adrenaline filled encounter. Be sure your final setup allows for a clear shot. Most often the shot will occur in close quarters under 20 yards.
The more popular Rocky Mountain Elk inhabit a much larger geographical region. They can be found as far West as the Cascade Mountains to the foothills of Pennsylvania and everywhere in between. My experiences chasing these critters have included Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. While the terrain has varied in these locations, their habits have remained relatively the same.
Similar to hunting Rosies, I search out hard to access terrain. Whether it is a USFS roadless area or wilderness, I try to find areas that require more work to hunt. My preference is backpack hunting. Typically I will load up for 5-7 days worth of food and gear and head off. I avoid busy trailheads with horseback hunters and search out ‘off the grid’ starting points. The worst is showing up and seeing lines of trucks and trailers of competition before I ever start hunting. Avoid these high traffic areas! Hunt were there may be less elk but most of all, less pressure.
Aside from the obvious difference of antler size, they hold fairly similar habits to their cousins of the West. The striking disparity between the two is the habitat they reside in. The landscape shapes their movement and nature. Typically, Rockies are found in more open terrain with natural vegetation.
Rockies often feed in open terrain like Rosies but these can be found in natural areas like meadows or old burns where fresh green vegetation is found. Once the sun is up, they typically start making their way to higher grounds in the timber where they spend the afternoon grabbing some ZZZ’s. They use the thermals to their advantage and move up with the descending morning breeze making an approach from above near impossible. These daily movements I’ve seen far as 15 miles round trip from their feeding to the bedding grounds.
This open terrain lends to a couple different hunting styles to be deployed. Spot and stalk or herd shadowing is very popular and successful for many different hunters. Though this is not my preferred style, it can be very rewarding while chasing pressured call-shy Rockies. The two hunters that have perfected this art are Dan Evans and Randy Ulmer. They will target a specific animal and follow his movements until he lets his guard down and makes a mistake. Patience and time behind the binos can lead to punching your tag.
While my preferred method of hunting Rockies is calling. I typically engage the same tactics I use for Roosevelts. The challenge of calling a large mature herd bull is rewarding! The biggest difference that I have found between the two sub-species is the vast difference of habitat. This difference makes the calling set-up different. The open terrain won’t cover your movements like the jungle counterpart. I will still be very aggressive in calling but the approach must be much more calculated and methodical. Use the terrain to conceal your movements and push as close as possible before pushing the bull’s buttons.
While I’ve enjoyed cutting my teeth hunting Roosevelts in the western slopes of Oregon. I believe the lessons I’ve learned hunting in the thick steep country has expanded my skillset and proved to be deadly while chasing their Rocky Mountain counterpart. I highly encourage you to take on a new challenge, whether you’ve never killed a Rocky or Rosie. Set a goal and go chase the unknown. I believe if you hunt in country that is unfamiliar or out of your comfort zone, in the end, you will increase your skill set and you can apply it to your next hunt. At the end of your hunt, whether you’ve been successful or not, reflect on the mistakes you’ve made and learn from them.
Remember that elk are exactly where you find them. Sometimes you have to forget that picture perfect meadow and roll up your sleeves and dive into the thick brush to chase that dream bull!
STALKING MULIES ON THE MOUNTAIN
FRIENDS, STICKBOWS, BACKCOUNTRY & VELVET MULE DEER
Let’s be real. The majority of hunters in the world do not bivouac out for days and days on end. But, there is still a high number of hunter who still do that. In the animal covered mountains of the west, you could see a number of different types of hunter. The hunters who don’t get out of their trucks, the guys who drive their quads around all day, the “lets just sleep in this morning” guys, the up before crack of dawn guys, and the off the grid for a week guys. Having mentioned all these stereotypes, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the food we eat. You might be reading this thinking, “oh my gosh, here we go, I get to be told again to change what I’m eating.” Well, sir, you are wrong. Because, this isn’t Rachel Rae’s, and I’m not your cardiologist. The fun sized snickers are still crammed into a ziplock and put right in with the rest of my food.
So with my years of being the “Bowhunter on a Budget” I thought I’d share some of my tips or knowledge if you will, about the food I eat. There’s nothing worse than having to chose: spend money and go hunting, or spend money on stuff to hunt with.
For the guys who don’t get out of their truck, and those stuck to their quads. The odds are you’ve probably got a slick set up back at the camp. And you most likely have the luxuries of a camp stove with a frying pan. So let me blow your mind with a couple recipes of my own.
One year while chasing spring bear, my cousin and I discovered we forgot the oil to fry our burgers with. Well, Instead of butter or oil, I dumped half of my Corona in the skillet. Without saying anything to one another, we just stared, curious to if I had just wasted half a beer or not. But before long the beer started to basically boil, and we put our patties into the brine. Eventually, we had what is still to this day the best burgers we have ever had. Corona Burgers are now a spring bear hunt tradition and it’s not going anywhere soon. For those who like their burgers a little crispier on the outside, once they are done in the Corona just throw them onto a hot skillet with no oil for a couple minutes and watch ’em brown.
Chicken. Man, I love chicken. Another repeating meal year after year, yis the Italian chicken. It’s pretty much elementary to do and tastes like heaven. At the grocery store pick up a couple bottles of the Italian salad dressing, as well as boneless chicken breasts. Cut the breasts into chicken strip sizes and place in the pan, like the Corona and burger patties, dump the bottles of dressing into the pan and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Your welcome.
The truth is you could literally cook whatever you wanted with the way your hunting. And I’ll admit it, I’m jealous. I’ve woke up a couple mornings in the backcountry with slobber all over my pillow due to my dreams about scrambled eggs, harsh browns, and sausage. But I’m stuck with instant oatmeal.
To the guys who spend more time in the woods than in camp, Hello. I am one of you. I used to be a truck and quad man, but now I’m am here. Although Im venturing more and more into the backcountry as we speak. My deal, is I don’t feel like spending an hour making something to eat after I’m dead tired from chasing elk around all day. I’m tired. I want to eat and be asleep in 30 min. The easiest way for me to do that is going to my camp spot prepared. But if your back at the truck every night, you’ve got the abilities to go all out with the cooking. So you really don’t have to many excuses do you? But if you’re like me and don’t like spending the precious sleep time, I’ve got a couple tips. Taking some homemade clam chowder in a ziplock container, and heating it up real quick is one go to meal of mine. (Works with anything canned such as chili)
Another meal is cottage cheese with a can of diced pineapples on top, it might take 2 minutes to make. It often times hits the spot perfectly. To be honest I’ve gotten sick of burgers before, “really? Again burgers? For the 5th night in a row?” They get boring. There’s just something about this meal that really does something for me mentally.
Usually I’ll stop by KFC on my way in to the trailhead and throw a 12 piece bucket into the cooler, that can last me up to 3-4 nights depending on my hunger. I like cold chicken too, so it’s pretty convenient to just slam the drive through, run in grab some condiments for the day pack, and throw my bucket in the ice cooler. I can do the same thing with pizza. Cook up a meat lovers the night before you head out, throw it in the freezer so it’ll stay colder for longer, then in the cooler. Cold pizza.
To the guys who only see there truck at the beginning, and at the end of their trip, you don’t have to many choices. And unless your paying a ridiculous amount of money to get a drop camp with stove, propane, heater etc. Your gonna carry your food in one way or the other. There are some obvious choices like mountain house. But you’ve already covered those bases.
I was in the high country of Colorado with a friend of mine, while I was attempting to get my jetboil going, I noticed he was eating something. I asked him what he was eating and he replied with this. “Oh. Dude. It’s money. Flatbread with peanut butter and honey.” He had discovered all natural peanut butter in little serving sized packages. He snagged some “honey sauce” packages from KFC earlier, and brought in some flatbread. Now I’m not a fan of 100% natural things like this, they usually taste like garbage. But, this combo. Is ridiculous, I absolutely love it. And for the ultra sensitive person about what they are packing in, I’m sure you could find 100% whole wheat flatbread to give your body more nutrients.
Another meal that is often overlooked is tuna on crackers. Yes, you read that correctly. Starkist, makes “Tuna Creations” that come in small serving sizes packages, there are multiple flavors, lemon pepper, sesame, barbecue, ranch, olive oil and vinegar, to name a few. These added with a Ritz cracker, now that’s something I would eat at home.
Another friend of mine who is backcountry nerd also introduced me to a majorly high calorie meal that might make you think, “what the frick.” Most of us have heard of Cameron Hanes infamous bacon and peanut butter bagels. But one day in the backcountry I asked my friend what he was eating and he said without missing a beat “the Cameron Hanes Bagel 2.0.” After I stopped laughing he explain further just what was in this beast. A blueberry bagel covered in peanut butter, with Nutella, honey, and bacon. I could help it, I told him that it was the grossest thing I had ever heard of. And then after a couple minutes of bickering I agreed to taste it. Well… I was pleasantly surprised. I now have to admit, not only was it good, but it was very filling. Also, because of the calorie content, it is definitely something that will go into my pack the next time I bivouac out.
Idahoan, makes small 2 serving sized pre packaged instant mashed potatoes. Eating some hot buttered up calorie filled mashed potatoes when your 14 miles from the trailhead is just comforting. Especially if you add a touch of Sriracha, packing in a bottle of this can save your taste buds lives. It tastes good yes, but mentally, I feel my spirits re-inflate after a solid mashed potato massacre.
Truck and quad guys. Your guys’ choices are just about limitless. Anything that you could carry in your truck. Or put in the compartment of your quad, and you don’t even have to carry it. You’ve got this figured out, don’t you?
Honest to God, I saw a guy driving very slowly down a gravel road, with another man cooking on a barbecue that was strapped down in the bed of the truck. Now that is what I call ingenuity. But seriously, cold pizza, chicken legs, salad, hot coffee, sushi, Taco Bell, whatever you could want really.
Day hunters, our choices are quite a bit more limited than our brothers in the trucks. But we still have choices. Personally I have done cold pizza before, it’s great for the soul to be on top of a ridge far from the roads eating pizza, I’m not sure what it is, but it’s good. Granola, dried fruit (apples, apricots, mangos, bananas etc), granola bars, trail mix, jerky, the list goes on and is still fairly large.
Pocket jerky is one thing that’s a fairly common snack among us. Getting large, and thick chunks of jerky from the local butcher to shove in our pocket, comes in clutch. Sometimes we just need to occupy our mouths throughout the day, this and a bag of cashews is what does it for me.
Backpackers. The reality of snacking when your in the field, everything gets boring. Eventually. There’s nothing worse then eating the same pro bar that you’ve been eating for the last 5 days. Eating food almost becomes a chore for you to do, you don’t eat because your not hungry. You don’t eat because nothing you have in your pack sounds good. Your eating because your body needs the energy to keep going, and to wake up and do it all again the next morning. That’s why I always try to mix it up (Flavors, brands any variation at all and I’m on it). Every morning is a different flavor of the instant oatmeal.
Mio is a water enhancement liquid, I’ll bring three different flavors on a trip. This helps tremendously when I just can’t stand another drink of water.
Sriracha. Man. Saved my bacon in Colorado. I took a decently sized bottle of the stuff into the high country and my mind was blown. I used it on dang near literally everything. I put sriracha on my sriracha. Mountain House meals are way better with that stuff, Instant potatoes, and I even put it in my oatmeal one morning.
Seems like we don’t have to many choices. Pro-Bar, has a line of backcountry edibles that personally are my favorites. Their “Meal” line, which consists of, Superfruit Slam, Wholeberry, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Blueberry Blast, and a couple more. They also have a “Base” which contains a Chocolate Cookie Dough, and well as a Chocolate Mint. They also make some energy chews called “Bolt”, and my favorites in those are Berry Blast and Fruit Punch.
I love cashews. When I bivouac in, I carry a sandwich bag full of cashews for each day. As far as calories, protein and energy, these nuts pack quite the punch to replenish your system with all your energy being spent. GU has multiple flavors in their energy gel packets, also MtnOps has “Blaze” energy drink made for the trail and small enough to pack.
Hope this has given you some useful information for your next hunt. Go farther and shoot straight!
Rookie Outdoors, Team Full Draw
EATING QUAKER OATMEAL AND JERKY DOESN’T CUT IT ANYMORE…
ARE YOU AN INSIDER? IF NOT, YOU’RE MISSING OUT!
REALLY…YOU DON’T KNOW WHO DWIGHT SCHUH IS?
READY, AIM, LAUNCH! WHAT THE HECK IS FULL DRAW FULL TIME???
The Gritty Bowman Podcast unleashes the Full Draw Crew in this Real n’ Raw interview. Get to know these guys behind the scenes and see what they’re all about. See what drives them and what fuels the tour. You’ll laugh and chuckle… Be sure to share this with your friends.
The ‘TOUR CREW’…
Over the years, we have met some great people along the way. These friendships have grown and hence so has the crew. Without these guys, we simply couldn’t bring FDFT5 to 28 cities across the U.S. If you’ve been to a show this year, you’ve probably already seen them running around in the gray ‘TOUR CREW’ shirts. These guys have really embraced the FDFT mission and their energy is contagious…here is a sneak peak into their lives. To see more of their shenanigans, follow them on Instagram. Enjoy.
Congratulations!! to our Week #1 Winner.
Also be sure to check our SWEEPSTAKES page this week.
We will be giving away another FREE Registration to this years NW Ladies Hunting Camp.
And remember the more you share the greater the chance to WIN!
Winner will be drawn this Friday, June 5th 2015 at 5:00 pm
Bringing FDFT5 to small towns like Elgin, Oregon is always exciting. We never really know what to expect from the crowd or how we will be received especially when we are in a totally new area that we‘ve never tapped into before.
The Elgin Opera House, over a hundred years old and full of character was a fantastic theater for this years second tour stop on the Full Draw Film Tour. As it being our first time in Elgin it was tough to guess what our attendance might be, however this rural community packed the house with energy—passionate outdoorsmen and women along with their families.
Upon arrival, before we were even able to begin unloading the truck and trailer, people were stopping to ask when our show time was and if they could get tickets at the door. By 6:00pm we had a good line forming outside and the crowd was eagerly waiting to get into the show. Although Elgin is not as large scale as other shows like Boise, Idaho the Elgin show was great location for Northeast Oregon fans. The crowd was amped up and thrilled to see some “Real and Raw” bowhunting, as well as participating in our raffle benefiting Wishes for Warriors.
This stop on the tour was definitely a successful one and we had a lot of fun interacting with this country, down home crowd who was very passionate about bowhunting and the outdoors. A big reason for our success here goes out to our local sponsor Alpine Archery. They helped spread the word and drive ticket sales. They are a fantastic pro shop out of LaGrande, Oregon. They were more than happy to help us get the word out. If you are in the area, we highly recommend stopping by their shop to fling a few arrows. They have a range and be sure to check out their selection of calls and named brand bowhunting gear.
As we leave Elgin in the rear view, we are looking forward to the next two shows, Olympia, Washington on Thursday June 4th and Mount Vernon, Washington on Friday June 5th. So if you missed out on the Elgin show or are waiting for the tour to make a stop in your area, we hope to see you there!
EXPERIENCE “THE ORIGINAL” BOWHUNTING FILM TOUR
Come join us for the world premiere of FDFT5 by Full Draw Film Tour. This is our fifth year in action and it just keeps getting better. The films are top notch and the prizes are legit!
Let’s kick off the 2015 Full Draw Film Tour in style. Join us at 5:30pm inside Backside Brewing Co. Come hungry and grab a delicious Elk or Buffalo BBQ slider from Dave’s Food. This is open to all ages so bring the whole family!
For the young and old ~ it’s bowhunting adventure on the “Big Screen!” Full Draw breaks the boundaries of hunting films and will truly inspire all who share the passion and pursuit of bowhunting and outdoor films. Be prepared for something you can’t watch at home, online or on TV.
We invite you to come out and enjoy a night with your bowhunting friends. Doors will Open at 5:30pm, enjoy cold beverages and camaraderie with fellow bowhunters. This action packed show will reel off at 6:30pm.
You won’t want to miss this exclusive line-up of short films. Come cheer on the filmmakers as they bring you real, raw and heartfelt bowhunting films to the “Big Screen!”
After the show, stay for the party and enjoy some great LIVE music from the band, “Zeppaholics”
Don’t miss out…get your tickets today!