For your viewing pleasure…
Posted by

…I’ve tabbed a number of hunting videos over the past couple months that are worth passing along…Enjoy.

Link

Link

Tyvek Bivy
Posted by

Always pushing the envelope of what is most effective yet minimalist for our continually evolving Western hunting plans. This was Pete’s doing.

Traded out our usual Tyvek ground cloth for 2 individual bivy sacks. We’ll still use the GoLite Shangri La 2 probably (though a Cuben fiber tarp is intriguing), but the switch from simple ground cloth to containment bivy should accomplish several things.

1) With total containment, it’ll be easier to stay dry when water is deluging out of the sky and forming small rivers on the ground.

2) The Y2K zipper will allow us to unzip the sacks during dry weather to prevent excessive condensation, so I’m not too worried about that.

3) You can’t slide out of a sack, it was a frequent problem with the ground cloth with even the most subtle slope to a sleep site.

There’s essentially a 1-2 ounce penalty for each of us only because of the extra weight of the zipper and the little bit extra amount of Tyvek required to build the sacks.

Push comes to shove and the bivy sacks could be used to spend a cozy night curled up individually in nearby elk beds.

Just one more piece of gear that allows us to better execute our highly mobile and adaptive hunting style out West!

Google Earth Deer and Antelope Units — Wyoming
Posted by

A large chunk of my job is spent using GIS (Geographic Information System) software. That probably means that I take the the mapping components of Western hunting a little too seriously, but it has its upsides too. Finding a Google Earth file of Wyoming’s deer/elk/antelope units is not as easy as some states, but it can be done if you do some converting of the GIS files offered on Wyoming’s Game and Fish website. I’ve converted those files over and now have those Google Earth files handy.

If you’re interested, email me and I’ll send them along free-of-charge…outdoorsmorgasbord@yahoo.com. Happy hunt planning!!

The Importance of Season Dates – Hunting Out West
Posted by

At a minimum, my brain is always at least a little preoccupied with mulling over future hunt plans. Mule deer or elk? This state or that state? Apply for a tag this year or just grab another preference point? Go for an early season hunt or try a late season rut hunt? Tackle this new area or go back to where I have gotten results before? Got to remind my hunting buddy to not miss that draw deadline… On and on it goes.

In laying out a long-term hunt planning calendar, I sketched out the next 5 or 6 years of plans. It’s a crowded list and work/family-vacation schedule will dictate many of my hunting plans; however, there are certain things that exert more influence on my decision to say — hunt the 3rd mule deer season in Colorado in 2015 or 2016. One of those most important things is season dates.

Here are 4 things I’m looking at relative to how season dates can create a better situation for success in my future backcountry plans, first starting with an example from back East that I’ve seen play out numerous years in the past.

In North Carolina, it’s uncanny how a group of shooter-sized bachelor bucks can be sticking to a twice-a-day, during the daylight, almost to the minute schedule during the last week of August and through Labor Day weekend of September. It’s also uncanny how that same group of bucks will break up as velvet starts to tighten and become extremely unpredictable just a day or two before the start of archery season comes in. Obviously they have a calendar…sure does seem like it. It’s actually really intelligent management by the state wildlife agency in charge of managing the resource, a week earlier start date to archery season would create conditions where mature bucks are too vulnerable to harvest. It’s not by accident that the NCWRC starts archery season when they do – that being said, in years where archery season shifts a couple days earlier than normal, those are prime conditions to maximize chances at a still-in-his-summer-pattern archery buck.

4 examples out West:

*I don’t know the exact determinant for how season dates are set in Colorado, but it must go something like this…X season will start on the 2nd Saturday of November. Just like Thanksgiving can show up early and late in one year versus the next, so can certain states’ season dates. In 2015, the 3rd season mule deer hunt starts on October 31 and runs 9 days. In 2016, that same season starts on November 5 and runs 9 days. That is a huge difference when colder weather and proximity to the rut are the biggest contributors to a boom versus a bust year’s harvest. Lots of guys holding those PPs waiting for the season dates to roll around more in favor a big swell-necked muley buck.

*Dad is building points for a early muzzleloader tag in the areas where we OTC archery elk hunt. It’s hellacious country and we’ll recruit the help of a packer to get us in and out, but we’ll likely wait for a year where the muzzy season dates are pushed as far back into September as possible to take advantage of the peak of the rut. If the tag and season dates can align, that’s a close to a slam dunk hunt for a big bull elk that I know of.

*Several sportsmen groups pushed for Colorado’s unique early rifle hunt (usually constrained to high elevation, above timberline areas or a few of the state’s wilderness areas to be pushed back a week. Competition with archery hunters and “unfair” susceptibility to harvest by long-range hunters was enough to get those season dates pushed back. Even so, those start dates will fluctuate in coming years between the 5th or 6th of September and mid-teen dates. Similar to the NC situation, early season dates will encourage far more of those big high country mule deer to be still in velvet and still be at or above timberline before dropping into the dark timber until the November rut.

*Those are very specific situations, but here’s an example of how season date structure can positively affect a whole state’s hunt quality in certain years. Wyoming is such a state. Regardless of where the 15th or the 1st or the 10th or the whatever other date falls in terms of Monday versus Thursday versus Sunday…that’s when the season starts. This creates situations where opening day pressure can be severely inflated if the start date coincides with a weekend opener. Conversely, an opening day on Tuesday might really weed out the competition for a season opener.

Use these tips as you plan your long term hunt schedule. Many states publish 5-year plans and I’ve been using those to organize the 7 or 8 trips I want to take in the next 5 to 6 years. Just one more method to the madness!

Caltopo – More Online Mapping Features
Posted by

Last spring, I made a post singing the praises of Caltopo – an online mapping resource that allows you to print PDF’s of 7.5′ USGS Topo maps…see LINK here. That feature coupled with a trip to the local printing store has saved me a TON of money on map purchases.

This post is to report that there are more Caltopo features to be excited about. In fact, given the recently glitching nature of Google Earth, it’s becoming my go-to source for researching a hunting unit’s potential for upcoming hunts. It’s functionality is at least on par with Google Earth except for Google Earth’s ever-popular point-of-view option.

Here goes:

For some reason, wilderness boundaries can be almost hidden in the formats of some topographical maps – not so with the ones available through Caltopo. Makes a huge difference if you’re hunting Wyoming where non-residents are not legally allowed to hunt wilderness areas without a guide or if you’re restricted to a wilderness unit in Colorado for an early season mule deer tag.

Quick look at the Table of Contents seems deceptively simple. TONS of options, just have to get aggressive clicking all the little + marks hiding throughout the page.

These shaded relief maps are a huge help to someone on the lower half of the learning curve in reading topographical maps. Even for someone with lots of experience, it’s a great method to speed read your way to the key areas on a map.

Even more informative is this slope shading map. For each category of slope angle, there is a different color assigned. Perhaps you know that the purple color is your threshold for taking a horse up a mountainside – this provides an excellent way to fast forward your route planning.

Overlay an aerial image with topo lines – a very useful function especially after you tweak the user controls for transparency.

Curious if your scouted hillside will be in the sun or in the shade by 7:30 PM on September 15th, set the clock and press the button. Blue shaded areas are in the shade, everywhere else is getting sun exposure.

Build routes, name them, get the elevation profiles or the terrain statistics. As good as Google Earth or better in my opinion…certainly more metrics that kick-back from the terrain profiling.

For a long time, Google Earth has been criticized for keeping their area calculating tools restricted to the pay-to-play premium version. Basic functionality with Caltopo – outline a mountain meadow, get the same terrain profiling technology of the routes function, and figure out the size of the meadow’s footprint in acreage or any other units you’re interested in.

Coordinate systems and the like are fully interchangeable and you can see that the “Print” functions are very useful below. You can even generate a KMZ file for Google Earth if you can’t do without the point-of-view option they offer. I also like the ability to print out a list of your X/Y coordinates.

For me, the best thing about Caltopo is that you can log in to an account via your Yahoo or Gmail account. Doing so allows you to save all the waypoints, routes, polygons, and maps you generate, and…wait for it…create unique links for your maps to send to your hunting buddies! To me, this is the best feature. Save the map, stick the map’s link in an email, and instantly be comparing notes with your buddy 1,000 miles away. I know Google Earth can save KMZ(L) files that you can email back and forth, but it’s just not nearly as convenient.

Anyways, that’s a shotgun approach to covering some of the more attractive features of Caltopo. Give it a try – I guarantee you’ll be impressed. While it hasn’t completely replaced Google Earth, it has definitely taken over top place in my mapping repertoire.

Infolinks 2013