Sunday, February 26, 2012

At last, the final Alberta hunting post

This has been a record for me. Of course, it's a record in futility, but a record nonetheless. The longest stretch of non-posting in this miserable blog. It's almost enough to make me want to close it up and forget about it altogether.

Except I DON'T forget about it.

It constantly bothers me that I've let the blog lag. So, I'm taking that s a sign that I really should keep doing this, and maybe figure out a plan to devote just a tiny bit of time to it. I don't need much time - it doesn't really have a goal or an end point. Just enough to let the few people who care that I still go out in the outdoors occasionally, and I still enjoy it in my own little way. With that - the end of my hunting story.

There was one thing missing from the end of the story. A simple post about the things that made the trip successful and enjoyable. When I looked back on it, there were 4 components that made this a great trip. (Well, 6 really, but we'll get to that). And here they are, in no particular order;

GOOD GLOVES I took 2 pair on this trip and used them both daily. The lighter pair is from Glacier Glove; the heavier from Manzella. Both performed the job for which they were designed. Since it was never too cold, I used the lighter ones more often than the heavy ones. But, first thing in the morning, the heavier gloves were a godsend. Since the hunting was from a blind, there was plenty of time to remove the gloves if you saw a deer. I know this luxury might not be afforded in all situations, but it was here, and these 2 pair of gloves were terrific.

GREAT BOOTS I have always been a big fan of Muck Boots. I own 4 pair of assorted shoes / ankle highs / lightly insulated, and these Woody Elite (rated for 60 to -40 degrees!). These boots kept my feet comfortably warm - but not too hot the entire trip. I still don't understand how they keep you so comfortable when they don't have a big, heavy, cumbersome pac insert, but they do. All the Muck Boots I own are great, and these might be the best of all. I recent ly read an article about a guy hunting Arctic Wolves in Nunavut and his choice of footwear was Muck Boot's Woody Ex Pro(rated to -60). He loved them, and I couldn't agree more. These boots ROCK!

GREAT AMMO No matter now good everything else is, if your ammo isn't the correct choice for the game you are after, the trip may not have a happy ending. And nothing could be worse than wounding and losing a trophy animal due to inferior ammo. I was shooting my old reliable .280 and the ammo was Hornady's new 139 grain GMX. I've always favored Hornady over all others - although there are many excellent ammo choices available - and once again it did not let me down. I was using a lighter load than most of the people at the camp - a lot of 300 Mag and 7mm Mag guys there. But I promise you - this 139 GMX will perform perfectly on any whitetail or mule deer in the world. My first shot was low in the chest behind the shoulder, and it took out the lower lung and creased the heart and liver. it also exited the deer behind the other shoulder. While mine was a smallish deer for Alberta, it still dressed at 215 pounds. the second sot hit the deer in the spine and did what any bullet will do in that situation - drop the animal in its tracks. Once again, Hornady Ammo proved to be outstanding.

RANGEFINDER This is something that was new to my hunting experience but is something I will not hunt without in the future. As soon as we got good light each morning, I would focus the Nikon Rangefinder in on various trees / bushes in my shooting lanes to know the exact yardage for a shot at those distances. I was completely comfortable with shots out to 250 yards and the rangefinder let me know exactly where that comfort zone ended. It functioned flawlessly in the cold and its compact size made carrying it a breeze.

So - what are the other 2 things that made this a great trip? Simple. First is the Lodge. Ron Nemetchek's lodge is not fancy, but it is imminently comfortable and allows you to recharge after your days hunt. The food was excellent, beds were good, and everything was comfortable. I know a few other s who have hunted this area of northern Alberta and hunted out of wall tents. the accommodations were miserable and cold, and they never felt like they were recharged when they woke up. To a man, the guys who were in the tent wished they had spent a few extra bucks and hunted with Ron or a similar operation. On our hunt, the temps weren't severe but, when they are up there, I can't imagine not being able to get inside a warm camp and comfortable bed after the days hunt.

The last, and most important element of any hunt is the people you hunt with. I would have had a great time on ANY hunt with the guys I hunted with , regardless of the success or failure. Great friends make for great hunts, and miserable people can ruin any hunt.

Now - A quick note about this blog. I actually went out to a local beach today looking for fossils - sharks teeth, bones, ... Found a few uninteresting pieces, but talked to others who found some great sharks teeth and another who found a Mesozoic Pd. whale vertebrae. So, I am pretty sure I will be spending more time outside doing what I love to do, and exploring my new home state of Maryland. I WILL post more frequently (really!) and will revive this floundering blog.

At least I hope I will.