Latest Blog Posts

My Top Ten Backcountry Tips by Nancy Rodriguez

After spending numerous hunting seasons living out of a backpack in the backcountry, I have found a few tips and items that can make life a whole lot easier during your next backcountry adventure. Here are my top ten must haves for the backcountry.

Top 3

  1. SPOT Satellite Tracker- The SPOT is an emergency locating beacon and satellite GPS messenger. Not only can you send out an emergency SOS transmission to emergency responders if need be, but you can also send a message to your loved ones that everything is okay in the backcountry. This is the most important 5 ounces I carry in my pack.Top 5
  2. Water Filtration Systems- Weighing only 2 ounces, the Sawyer Mini water filter is a backpackers dream. It is so small and compact that you can use the straw to drink right out of the tiniest seep of water. Pump filters use a lot of energy, so for big volumes of water I prefer the Sawyer gravity feed purifier. Just pour in the water and let gravity do the work.Top 1-2
  3. Hiking at Night – Hiking during the heat of the day can quickly cause heat exposure, energy depletion, and dehydration. Hiking at night will minimize the stressors of the heat and you will lessen your water consumption.
  4. Cozy Camp- Depending on your hunt, you may spend numerous nights sleeping on the dirt. Of course you will want to remove rocks, sticks, and brush away from your tent location, but making your tent pad level is just as important. No matter what the slope is, we will clear dirt to make our pad level. We try to do this on a scouting trip. This way our camp spot will be ready to go for the hunt and we can quickly set up (even in the dark).Top 4
  5. Flagging Tape- A small piece of flagging tape wrapped around a strap on your backpack will help you locate your pack more easily when you drop it for a stalk. It also makes it easier to keep tabs on your hunting partner if you separate. Top 9
  6. Luci Solar Lantern- This is an inflatable solar powered lantern that weighs less than 4 ounces. It’s extremely bright and doesn’t require batteries. During the day just set it out in the sun to recharge, so when you get back to camp it will be ready to go. It’s perfect for the backcountry or at any camp.
  7. Cushioned Toe Tape- This may seem minor, but your feet are everything in hunting. Personally, I get hotspots on my toes (no matter what boots I have on). Nexcare waterproof tape is cushioned medical tape that helps to alleviate hotspots. Wrap a small amount around a straw (cut the straw to size), so you don’t have to carry the entire roll in your backpack. Top 8
  8. Wax Paper and Cotton Ball Fire Starters- Fire starters should always be in your backpack. Two lightweight fire starters that I have had great success with are cotton balls dipped in Vaseline and folded up Wax paper. They are both extremely flammable, super light weight and take up hardly any space in your pack.
  9. Emergency SOL Bivvy- The SOL emergency bivvy is a perfect survival bag. Whether your sleeping bag gets wet or you’re caught away from camp at night, the SOL bag will do the trick. They are waterproof, windproof, and reflect up to 90% of your body’s heat back to you. They weigh less than 4 ounces and pack down to the size of a small apple.
  10. Clip On Light- It’s always a good idea to carry a secondary emergency light source. Clip on lights are about the size of a quarter, weigh next to nothing and easily clip on the outside of your pack. In the event a headlamp goes out, you will always have a back up light source.Top 6


After years spent in the backcountry, I still learn new techniques and find new gear to help us have enjoyable experiences. Remember, if you have an idea or find a product that you can’t live without, share them with others. You never know if you can help someone have a better experience or it could even save someone’s life. I wish everyone a safe, enjoyable and successful hunting season.

Top 10


It’s so quiet that all I can hear is the sound of my heavy breathing as I make my way deep into elk country. No wait, I think to myself, I hear a noise. It’s a low grumbling. It gets a little louder, and a little louder still. Then, all of a sudden I hear a squishy, explosion sound followed by a pungent smell. I look down and see the top of my 6 month old’s head. She’s dangling from a front pack and yep, full diaper. The grumbling noises are followed by a happy squeal and then some random babbling. For a minute there I almost felt as if I was sneaking through the woods.

There’s one month until the start of archery elk season in Colorado and I’m doing some scouting. I have been hunting these woods now for over 20 years and my dad before me and we know these woods like the back of our hands. We also know that there are elk in here. My scouting this year is more focused because I now have a baby who requires much of my time and I’ll likely be taking her with me for some of the hunts as my husband will be working during season and the grandparents are out of town. Plus, it’s what we do. We’ve always hunted as a family and I see no need to stop now that I have a family of my own.

I do realize that my strategy for this coming archery season needs to change this year. I used to be in incredible shape and put in miles from sun up until sun down and I could run from one canyon to the next after a bugling elk. But this year I’ll be packing a 7 month old and she’s not only heavy, but not exactly sneaky, stalking material. My normal strategy of spot and stalk may have to change.

Today I’m putting up some game cams deep in the woods to check for some patterns that may make hunting with a baby easier. As I’m walking a long I can’t help but picture myself sneaking up on a nice bull while he’s raking his horns on a tree, unaware of my presence…. that is until the baby on my back squeals with joy at the site of a large animal and waves her arms in the air. Yep, that’s how I envision it. And I got a reassuring message from Kirstie Pike, CEO of Prois when I told her I’d be hunting with my daughter. “LMAO! Some of my worst hunting experiences were with my kids!!! Way to land on your feet!”. I’m not quite sure I’ve landed on my feet, but more likely my head.

So, my expectations are a little different than years past, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give it my best effort. I’m an experienced hunter, so I’ll take what I know and try to make the best plan possible, and when that doesn’t work I’ll improvise the best I can.


My plan:

Scout some good locations for some ground blinds, where my daughter and I can sit and wait for an unsuspecting elk to walk by. The ground blind will be equipped with a camouflaged baby tent where Tiegan (my daughter) can move around and play without being seen. It’ll also double as a diaper changing station. Sit, patiently (or not so patiently), in ground blind while the sounds of baby babbling and the smell of dirty diapers fills the air. J


I consider my plan to be flawless. (insert sarcasm) But all it takes is one elk to walk by, right?

Plan B: Spot and Stalk and elk with a babbling, constantly moving baby on my back.

Again, another flawless plan….


Or so we’ll see.


Two weeks later….

Today Tiegan and I checked one of our cameras deep in the woods on this ridge next to an avalanche chute. She babbled and chewed on my finger most of the way there. It was a great day, with no clouds in sight and a crisp feel to the air, which made it feel like fall was on the way. We climbed the long logging road up to the top of the ridge, cut back into the deep woods, across two avalanche chutes and up to a high ridge. I set up her tent and she played a bit while I got the card out of the camera and set it back up. Just after noon, we were still on top of the ridge. I was feeding Tiegan a bottle and looked across to the other side of the avalanche chute and out walks 2 bulls and a couple of cows. Great! I think to myself, this ought to be a good test. We had to walk/sneak back past them to get to the truck, so I would be able to see how sneaky we could be. I pack up the tent and all our gear and get her in the pack and cut across the chute several hundred yards below the elk.

We (I) quietly move across the trees. I keep Tiegan distracted with a chew toy. We make it to within a hundred yards below the feeding elk. Not even remotely close to being within bow range, but I’m not interested in spooking them, or at least I hadn’t planned on it. As we get to the edge of the trees along the chute. Tiegan cuts loose with some babbling. I look up to where the elk are and sure enough they’ve zeroed in on our location. Luckily the wind is good and they just stare, trying to make sense of the moving thing on my back. Before they figure it out I slip into the trees and head back towards the truck.

This will definitely be an adventure, a difficult one.

This year I’ve put up some game cameras in my usual hunting spots way back in the backcountry. I’ve never used game cameras for scouting before. I’ve always just used them to check out the deer, skunks, raccoon, mountain lions and bears that roam through our property outside of town. And I’m horrible at placing the game cameras too as these are the type of pictures I get….

cowelkIsn’t she cute…


Yeah…the horns from this guy block the entire head of the bull in the water. Just my luck…


The only 2 photos I got of these bulls. I never get a look at the far one and the closer one you only see a teasing bit of his nose and brow tines….

I’ve gotten a few other decent pictures too…..


But mostly it’s just nice seeing elk and it gives me an idea as to their patterns and what time of day they are moving. This is important because I’ll likely be spending a lot of time in a ground blind. I’ve never hunted from a ground blind or a tree stand before. I’ve never able to sit still for long enough. So, this will be new experience on many different levels for me. This ground blind won’t be your typical blind as it will be complete with a baby tent and a diaper changing station. The tent’s purpose is so that she can move around and play and not be seen by large animals with great eye sight. I’ll cover it with a camo netting.


I’ve been packing the tent with me on our scouting trips and she loves it. It’s great to keep her out of the rain and bugs and gives my shoulders and back much needed rest every couple of hours. Another thing I’ve been doing is practicing a call around her so that she’s used to the noise. She makes a pretty good cow call/squeal, so there’s an added bonus. I’ve also practiced shooting my bow while she’s in the pack on my back. She get’s super excited at the sound of the arrows hitting the target and squeals with joy every time the arrow flies. Yeah, this is going to be an interesting season for sure.

I’ve also been going through some of the things I’ll be packing this season that I normally wouldn’t. Here’s my list so far…



Air-tight Ziploc bags for dirty diapers (to hopefully keep the smell at bay)

Baby Tent

Bottles of milk & baby food

A small toy or two

Extra clothes/layers for the baby


As far as failures & successes go, there is always an adventure and this one will likely not disappoint. So, here’s to family tradition, and keeping a sense of humor about all things….

-Tracy Barnes

BRIDGER RIDGE RUN by Megan DeHaan and Kelly Altschwager

“Fitness cannot be bought, borrowed, of bestowed. Like honor, it must be earned.” – Winddrinkers motto

This all started when two women, introduced by a great company, befriended each other because of similar interests. What once was a simple message, quickly turned into the start of a lifelong friendship and one badass mountain. The Bridger Ridge Run, 2015. It’s said to be one of the toughest mountain races in the country, and Trail Runner Magazine’s top 10 bucket list races for all runners. Soon, one woman’s passion forged its way into another woman’s dream. They were made for each other. KellyMegan

Prois was once again was the “middle-man” in the creation of this friendship. It’s constantly bringing women together with common interests and common ways of life. These two were no exception. Kelly Altschwager is apart of the Prois Staff, a Certified Personal Trainer and Owner of Western Workouts. She works with countless people helping them improve their lives with healthy lifestyles and fitness. Megan DeHaan is also apart of the Prois Staff, Rancher, and is an avid trail runner among other things. She balances an incredibly busy life with grace & is harder working than most.

One day, Megan asked Kelly if she would want to run the infamous ridge with her in 2015. After a few jokes about Kelly’s lack of running skill, she broke down and decided to throw her hat in the runner’s lottery assuming she would never be chosen. It was a safe move she thought. After all, Megan said she “probably wouldn’t get in her first year”. Not long after, Kelly received the confirmation letter “CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made it in!”. An immediate call was sent to Megan full of excitement and fear, if she were to be fully honest. Not long after that letter and that call her training began.

Over the next several months they exchanged phone calls, texts and messages on what to do, how to train and nutrition requirements. In all reality, that’s what Kelly does for a living, but never like this! Never on a mountainous trail in a mountain range she’s never been too?! (The youtube video doesn’t make it look any better either. You can check it out at The days of training quickly came to a close. The anxiety was relentless and finally that Thursday in August came and Kelly arrived in Montana at the DeHaan Ranch. It was an instant friendship between both women and their families alike. They wound up talking all night about what was to come, what their game plan was and how excited and nervous they were.

Then, 4:30am came that following Saturday. That dreaded alarm because you didn’t sleep a wink. That holy coffee pot that every runner glorifies. And off they went to the starting line. Several hours of driving, hitchhiking (yes, thats how you get there), and the instant energy you get after that mountain range comes into view behind the trees grew… they had arrived. Wave one starts at 7:00 am, then wave two, and then their wave at 7:10 followed by two more. They were noticed by numerous people right away. Could it btara pice the matching Nathan packs? Or the matching watches? OR, was is that they were the only two women with matching camo Prois shirts and hats? People asked if they were sisters. They laughed and said they might as well be.

Their wave’s starting time neared and they placed themselves in the front of everyone else in that wave. People joked and said they would protect the rest of the runners from wildlife. They were the hunters, they could start first. Then boom, 7:10 on the dot and Megan takes off running and keeps a good pace with Kelly. They soon come to their natural paces as they reach the bowl leading up to Sacajawea and the bag pipes start playing and the spirit of the race takes hold. Sudden addiction strikes, and they haven’t even reached the first summit. Kelly starts thinking, “What have I got myself into? Can I really make this? Sure I can! I got this! Who is that screaming my name? I think thats Megan? YES! It is!”. After a long first climb, they’re on the top of Sacajawea Peak and they about loose themselves in awe of the view. It’s simply breathtaking. You could never fully understand the massive grandeur of it all until you’re standing on the top. Then the epic downhill towards the next saddle and off they go.

Kelly’s husband decided earlier that he would hike several miles up to the halfway point with the kids and take Megan’s oldest along as well. A simple, yet steep (OK, VERY steep) mountain that most kids couldn’t make. But the boys pushed on to watch their momma’s run. They got there 5 minutes before Megan crossed into the halfway point and she lost it. Hugging her son, she told him how proud she was of him for making it all the way up there. It took her about a mile to recover and breathe again. She had been so inspired seeing her handsome boy there cheering her on. Soon after, Kelly came across the same point fresh as can be, hugged her family tight and pushed on. Kelly

The hardest half was over, but the push to the finish had just begun. Megan was going in and out between negative and positive thinking. Could she make her goal time? No way. Wait, she felt better, maybe she could? “Just keep pushing,” she thought. “You can still make it in under your last years pace no problem.” So she pushed on prepared to do just that. She knew her friend was pushing through the hardest race of her life so why couldn’t she do the same? That’s the thing about this mountain, your mind has to overcome what your body is telling you, you can’t do. But you can, and you will, and you will never regret it. It will change you, it always changes you. You can’t go back to the wuss you thought you were, especially after you just overcame that treacherous mountain that most will never attempt.

Megan finally reached Mt. Baldy and knew it was “all downhill from here”. She knew she could bomb down that mountain. She knew it well and knew every last trick in the book. As she reached the aid station she took a sip of gatorade and quickly turned and noticed some downright angel of a person had carried up a keg of locally crafted microbrew…and it was cold. So. Very. Cold. So she drank down a few gulps, took a second to savor the intense moment of happiness, and started down that downhill section. Kelly was making great time and pushing hard and she was feeling more confident than she had expected. And then, in the blink of an eye, the rocks crumbled below her feet and in an uncontrolled instant, went her knee. Her GOOD knee, at that. She knew in that second she had the push of her life ahead of her to finish this thing. Her “I won’t quit” nature kicked in full force. She was ready to conquer. Even if conquering meant limping, which she did, across that finish line. She pushed, she dug deep, she refused to quit and then, she too saw the angel at the top of Mt. Baldy with a cold glass of beer. It was like heavens parted and you could hear “Hallelujah” being shouted from the mountain tops!

It’s at this point though that the work really started. It’s hard enough getting down that torrential downhill slope as it is… and that’s with two good legs. Add a bad knee and a limp and its dang near impossible but it had to be done. Another self pep talk and off the side of the mountain she went. Meanwhile, Megan had crossed the finish line below. She was pushing for another PR this year. She had PR’d every year since she started running this race. This being the 4th attempt, she thought another 30 minute PR would be sufficient. However, she felt like she finally reached that point where 30 minutes was too much to ask. She Bridgerknew she was going to be faster than last year anyhow. And she was, by 19 minutes. Only 11 minutes shy of her goal. Success! (And there’s still next year.)

By 6 hrs and 30 minutes (into the race) within the time Megan knew Kelly should finish, she and Andy (Kelly’s husband) started to get a bit worried. She was pacing well at the halfway point and should have been off the mountain by now. Megan checked with the Hamm radio operators who would know if anyone had gotten hurt and/or couldn’t continue. They said they hadn’t heard anything about her. That was a good sign, but still. Once 7 hours passed they knew something was wrong. Megan asked Andy, “Is she going to hate me when she gets done?” Andy said, “Umm, no. She is going to be pissed at that mountain and she is going to be back next year to prove it wrong!” Sure enough, after the 10th time asking each other “Is that her?”, they saw her. They knew it was her immediately. She was limping, struggling, and fighting the urge to quit. The last few miles are almost quite literally straight down. Megan ran up the end of trail in flip flops with open arms and started yelling up the mountain, “YOU GOT THIS KELLY!!! COME ON GIRL!!!” Kelly soon got down to Megan and being the incredibly friend she is, Megan offered an arm to help her down. Kelly quickly said “NO! I JUST NEED TO FINISH THIS!” Megan laughed loudly, she knew she was going say that. Megan couldn’t have been more inspired or more proud. She let Kelly past and followed her, cheering her the rest of the way down. Kelly collapsed into her family’s arms a handful of gimpy strides later. It was over… Take a deep breath. Let it all sink in.

All the anxiety, all the training, all the mental preparation. Nothing can prepare you for that. Nothing like being up there on that mountain and experiencing the spirit of the ridge. Kelly will be back next year, it’s already been scheduled. Megan has proudly created a monster. This is a story about two women, two states apart, who have the same passion for love and life and beating all the odds. The odds that come fully stacked against you on that ridge. All of this started with Prois, it always does, and it always will. No other company can bring people together in a way quite like this. This is something beyond average or normal. Its exceptional and it’s inspiring.

“You can’t cheat the mountain, it knows how much you’ve invested. It won’t give you anything you haven’t worked for.” – Author Unknown

-Kelly Altschwager and Megan DeHaan

Crockpot of Wild Ham Goodness

Crockpot of Wild Ham Goodness

5 pound Wild Ham

5 cups chopped Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 cans of 15oz. Baked Beans
1/3 cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 cup of water

Add Ham to the middle of the crockpot, add 1/2 cup water, put potatoes around the outside of the ham, add the beans on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and sides of ham. Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours.


Elk Tenderloin With Whiskey Cream Sauce

When I fill my tag on a beautiful elk one of the first thoughts that crosses my mind amongst many others is, “I CANT WAIT TO COOK THE TENDERLOIN!” Such a delicious piece of meat and a perfect way to celebrate a successful hunt and getting meat in the freezer to feed your family.  This recipe does this piece of meat pure justice without fussing too much with the meat itself. The whiskey sauce compliments it perfectly as well. This recipe is a keeper and absolutely delicious!


For the meat

1 Elk tenderloin whole
Montreal steak seasoning
Minced Garlic
Olive oil, bacon grease, or softened butter

For the sauce

1 Onion chopped
8 Tablespoons of butter
1 Cup whiskey
1 Cup beef broth
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of salt n pepper

*Thicken with a dash of gravy flour if needed.*

Take your tenderloin and spice the meat with all the spices to your liking. I rub in some minced garlic and bacon grease with a sprinkle of steak seasoning.  Doesn’t take much just sprinkle to lightly coat the meat. Allow to sit and become close to room temp marinating in extra juices and spices on a dish.

Caramelize your onions in a pan over medium high heat with the butter. Once onions are translucent turn down heat and slowly stir in your whiskey. Allow to simmer until half of mixture evaporates and strong whiskey smell subsides. Once that has happened stir in the beef broth and allow to simmer and thicken. Stir in heavy whipping cream allowing it to continue to bubble. Sprinkle some salt n pepper and let sauce simmer and continue to thicken. If sauce seems to still be a little loose add some gravy flower quickly whisking it in.

Heat your grill to a a medium heat for grilling meat. Once heated start to grill your meat. Allow 5-8 minutes on each side depending on size. Spoon on extra spices and olive oil from the bottom of the dish during the cooking process for extra flavor. Remember to take your meat off a little early since it will continue to cook as it sits. Let it sit as a whole piece for about 5 minutes before slicing down.

Cut against the grain and serve with whiskey sauce drizzled over the top! Enjoy with a beer or cocktail and some heavenly side dishes!

Bon Appetit and live, laugh, love and HUNT!

-Mia Enstrom

5 Tips to Get Your Dog Ready for Duck Season

Brittingham's Bag of Tricks Dixie returning from retrieving a mark during a training session.

After duck season, our pups tend to get a little loose in their training when we don’t work them regularly. Luckily, it usually doesn’t take much to get your retriever back on task and ready to roll by opening morning. All you have to do is spend a few minutes a day working on these basic drills by yourself or with a friend to get your retriever ready for hunting season.


1) Basic Obedience

Every dog needs a little obedience work throughout the year. If pup can’t get it in the yard, he’s not going to do it in the field. By spending 10 minutes in the yard a few times a week doing these basic obedience drills, your first day out in the field will be much more enjoyable for you, the dog, and your hunting buddies.

Alex doing remote sit drills with 8 month old "Dixie" in the yard

Alex doing remote sit drills with 8 month old “Dixie” in the yard

  • Sit- When used correctly, the “sit” command should communicate to your dog to sit and not move until told otherwise. I like to sit my pup on a training mat with a check chord in the yard. I then walk the length of the check chord 360 degrees around the dog. If he moves as I am walking, I command “no sit” and walk in to physically correct him by placing him back in his original location. I do this until he stays seated without movement and then switch directions. If your pup is having trouble, move closer to simplify the task.
Alex working with Dixie on "heel", using a bumper for added distraction

Alex working with Dixie on “heel”, using a bumper for added distraction.

  • Heel- An obedient dog should be focused on the task at hand and work as a team with his handler at all times. Make sure your dog understands this by doing basic heeling drills in the yard with your e-collar. Once your dog is reliably heeling at every pace, incorporate a bumper or other distraction to make sure he understands to always stay with you until released. Doing these basic heeling drills will ensure that you and your pup are both on the same page. If your dog is having trouble, place him on a lead with a pinch collar so you can physically control him until he better understands.


2) Casting Drills

Alex casting Dixie to the left "over" pile.

Alex casting Dixie to the left “over” pile.

“Casting” is using hand signals to direct your dog to the bird.  Generally, the four commands that are used are “Sit”, “Over” (left or right), “Back” (away from the hunter), and “Here” (toward the hunter). Keeping your pup’s casting sharp will make things much easier for both of you when hunting season rolls around.

The easiest drill for casting is the “baseball” drill. Put your dog in the remote sit position, and place three piles of bumpers (2 or 3 in each pile) around them. These should be at the left, right, and back positions, roughly 20 yards from the dog. From your remote position, command the dog to retrieve the bumpers one at a time using the “over” or “back” commands with the corresponding hand signals. To increase difficulty, toss a bumper to the pile of your choice and cast the dog to a different pile. This creates suction and teaches the dog that he must retrieve to the pile of your choice no matter what. If he’s having trouble, simplify by tossing a bumper to the pile you want him to go to and then cast him to that same pile.

Another great drill is called “walking baseball.” It’s a bit complicated to explain here, but you can get the full run-down by watching this video demonstration by Evan Graham. If you don’t have a field to train in, head to your local park or soccer fields.


3) Training Out of Dog Blinds

Alex teaching Dixie the mechanics of retrieving out of a dog blind.

Alex teaching Dixie the mechanics of retrieving out of a dog blind.

If you plan to hunt your pup out of a dog blind or off a stand, be sure to train for this in a controlled environment. This way, there aren’t any surprises and your dog understands what is expected of him.


4) Marking

Dixie in the remote sit position, waiting to be sent for a mark.

Dixie in the remote sit position, waiting to be sent for a mark.

Marking can be a tough thing to train for by yourself, but with a steady dog and 2 or 3 bumpers it can be done. The easiest and most effective way to do marks alone is to do walking singles. Sit the dog in a remote location and walk to the distance you want to throw from. When you get there, throw the bumper and send the dog by yelling his name. You may need to do this from 20 or 30 yards at first to teach the dog the mechanics. Once the dog gets the bumper and brings it to you, sit him and walk to the next location. Repeat 5 or 6 times, making sure the dog doesn’t get too hot. If possible, invite a friend and have him throw for you. If you have a friend with you, stay in one spot with your dog while your friend walks the field and throws singles in different locations at different distances.


5) Steadying to Shot

Alex and 6 year old "Nitro" after a successful duck hunt in Oklahoma.

Alex and 6 year old “Nitro” after a successful duck hunt in Oklahoma.

In all the excitement that goes along with duck hunting, it’s easy to pay more attention to shooting ducks than what your dog is doing. Get him excited by shooting guns around him prior to opening day. He needs to know that steadiness is required even with distractions. If you can, take him to your hunting spot and work him out of the blind you’ll be using. This will help to further solidify those obedience rules in the field. Have a friend come along and throw bumpers for you while you shoot. If your pup is having trouble, have your friend shoot the gun while you focus on the dog.


Keep It Fun

DSC_0784Last but certainly not least, always remember to keep it fun! I like to release my dog from work by giving them an “Okay, good dog!”. After we are done, I always throw a few “fun” bumpers to let them know they did a good job. I also throw “happy” or “fun” bumpers when a dog is getting stressed during a tough training session. We all need a little break from work at times!

-Alex Brittingham


Preparation for Archery Season

CandyYow           Training and preparation for hunting season is a yearlong goal, we all know that and work hard at shooting straight, working out and building our stamina. Many of you post pictures of beautiful ladies in cute workout clothes with big smiles, for some reason I am not able to pull that off! I look like a sweat drenched, lungs screaming, and hair awry mess. But non the less I am out there pushing for the goal which is being able to keep up with my animal of a man husband as he skips over the mountains like a goat in pursuit of the next animal we are hunting. As much as I love the hunt, the spot & stock, and the beauty that God allows us to see in the Backcountry, I can honestly say I am not crazy about working out all year long. I really wish the workout fairy would visit me with some pixie dust and give me energy, agility and strength, (oh yea and a thin waist to boot). Since that is about as apt to happen as a Unicorn carrying me over the mountain I will suck it up and get back to the gym.

So everyday I do my workout, shoot my bow, and dream of that big bull screaming in my sleep. Everyday I dream of the perfect shot, practice and practice again. I work on my cow calls and yes the bugle, well if you could call it that, it sounds more like a spike in heat!!!

But it’s the thought that counts right? At least until I am calling in a monster bull for Randy and the squeaking sound sends the bull in the opposite direction at a high lope.

I know more than one of you understand and practice just as hard for what seems like little progress at times. But remember when you get out there it will all fall in to place, you will be surrounded by God’s beauty and peacefulness, you will witness wildlife and nature at its finest, and yes you will probably get a few weird looks from your husband when you get excited and blow the bugle, but it will all be worth it. So with no more whining I will go back out and practice some more with my Mathews Monster Chill, I will step up my workout, I will grab the bugle and practice again and again. At night I will dream over and over of the perfect shot, the bull screaming in early morning fog, and I will live my dream!

Good luck ladies, shoot straight and can’t wait to hear your success stories because I know we will all succeed as we are Badassery ladies living our dream.


God Bless,

Candy Yow

Extreme Desire TV




We are enjoying a wonderful tdonnaboddingtonrhinoime in the Eastern Cape, South Africa with Frontier Safaris. We are currently shooting The Boddington Experience TV show. We are proud to have Prois as a sponsor on our TV Show. This place is so incredibly special. Mountains and a truly spot and stalk hunting area. We have seen slot of game every day. One of the unique things on this game ranch is the size, over 40,000 hectares or 83,000 acres. Barry Burchell and his family also do game farming, so there is a great conservation aspect to what they do. Not only Safari Operators in South Africa and Namibia but working to make sure the game is plentiful for our future generation’s to enjoy. We were there because Craig was accompanying two families that bought an auction hunt at SCI and “Craig” was part of the package. The Goodwin Family consisted of 6: Sarah and Charlie (Mom and Dad), Paw-Paw, Larry Goodwin who’s Charlie’s father and the kids grandpa. Then we had 11 year old Macy, 9 year old Layne and 7 year old Bradley. All of the children took a turn at hunting… Bradley has the fever bad. Larry shot a great nyala and it was the first time in 20 years he’d hunted. The other two hunters in camp were Joel and his son Blake. They also got their dream huDonnaBoddingtonDartnt done for the first time in Africa. Craig, Brittany, Laurence (Brittany’s Boyfriend) and I went out and hunted a few days and saw lot’s of game. Brittany shot a nice blue wildabeest and took most of the meat home to Johannesburg. Craig took zebra, red heartebeest, a really nice waterbuck and I took a warthog, red heartebeest, and a blesbok. We left there yesterday on the 8th to fly to Namibia where I’m doing a white rhino hunt in conjunction with a Veterinarian and they call it an “Educational or Veterinarian assisted hunt”. I will dart the rhino with a mixture of vitamins and antibiotic (which is done because there is the possibility anthrax spores in the soil as well as hoof and mouth disease). When we locate the rhino we will have to stalk it and get very close, ideally 20 yards and dart him or her. Then the vet will follow in a helicopter and dart the rhino with a tranquilizer gun. They follow it until it starts slowing. The Vet then makes sure rhino is all right and then we will go to work. They take blood samples for DNA, insert a micro chip to keep track of it and for anti poaching purposes we can get photos and measure it with a taxidermist. Once we do all of that then administer the antidote the rhino is up in two minutes. No rhinos harmed, good work done, and conservation working with hunters. I saw this all done this morning with another person. It was amazing and I’m very excited to have this opportunity.

Donna boddingtonWhite

-Donna Boddington

Take Your Pup for a Walk on the Wild Side

by Beth Ann Amico

beth ann john

 With over two hundred million nasal olfactory receptors, a dog’s nose has a sense of smell that’s thousands of times better than a human’s. It’s a highly refined sense inherited from its Canidea ancestors. So pity the poor pup that spends the majority of its time in one of the most sterile environments – the backyard. Dogs destined for careers in the hunting field can benefit greatly from early introductions to “sweet dirt” – areas most ripe with nature’s aromas. Taking nature walks with your young dog also serves as an excellent way to further its socialization, allowing it to become even more at ease with the world. Most importantly, it’s the first step towards developing a pup that actively hunts game in an efficient manner.

The Nose Knows

At birth, a pup’s nerve system is still incomplete – it cannot hear or see and it lacks the ability to regulate its own body temperature. For the first two weeks of its life, its only real contact with the environment is afforded by its developing sense of smell and touch, enabling it to seek out the warmth of its mother and her supply of milk. The instinctive action of crawling towards and finding nourishment is also a pup’s first experience of “positive reinforcement” – a principle fundamental to its life-long learning process.

By the time a pup is ten weeks old, it should be acclimated to its home and the human routine. You should now begin expanding its world and introduce it to the hunting field. But no matter the age or breed of your sporting pup, the curriculum sequence remains the same.

Location, Location, Location

Successful hunters understand the importance of pre-scouting an area before the hunt and the same concept should be applied prior to outings with your canine partner. Since your goal is to develop your budding hunter’s ability to use its nose, choosing the most stimulating scenarios is paramount. While cattle pastures may offer more olfactory opportunities than the average neighborhood park, agricultural and remote undeveloped areas are an even better choice. Look for sites with varying terrain so the pup will learn to negotiate multiple changes of cover. Tip: Match the size of the cover to the size of the dog. A pup faced with overbearing obstacles tends to stay too close to the handler and not strike up a hunt.

Keep your dog’s safety and physical well-being in mind also. Check for unexpected drop-offs, swift water or other hazards. If your pup hasn’t been exposed to swimming yet, your ideal location may include a shallow pond with a graduated water entry. Tip: Avoid ponds with scummy or stagnant water as they may harbor toxic cyanobacteria or distemper.

Prepped for Adventure

Now that you’ve chosen some suitable areas and gotten the landowner’s permission, you’re ready for your adventure, right? Not so fast. A few key items will help make your outing even more enjoyable for you and your dog:

  1. Drinking water: Be sure to pack an extra bottle or two for your dog and start teaching it how to drink on cue. This will come in handy in a lot of situations.
  2. Collar with identification: A sturdy buckle collar with an I.D. plate will help ensure your dog’s safe return if lost. Make sure the collar fits snug around the dog’s neck with room for just two fingers. Loose collars can easily come off or hang a dog in low-lying branches. Fluorescent colored or reflective collars help keep your dog easy to spot in high brush and at distances.
  3. Check cord: Fifteen foot 3/8 inch braided cotton rope with a brass swivel snap at one end and a knot in the other.
  4. First aid kit: Be ready to handle any minor injuries – EMT Gel is great for minor wounds and abrasions. Keep your vet’s number on your cell phone’s speed-dial.
  5. Flea and tick collars and other dermal treatments: Your dog should already be protected with age-appropriate pest preventatives and vaccinations. Bring home memories and experience, not tiny pests which can carry Lyme disease.
  6. Grooming kit: Brush out burrs and stickers before the ride home, especially on long-hair sporting breeds.
  7. Kennel Crate: Your pup may enjoy riding up front with you, but after a long day in the woods, your nose might appreciate a break from the smell of wet or dirty fur.

The Outdoor Classroom

Once you’ve arrived, unload your vehicle and prepare yourself before letting your pup out. Countless dogs have become lost or even worse while their owners’ backs were turned, so play it safe and release your dog only when you can give it your full attention. Tip: Don’t give in to an excited pup’s pawing and whining to be let out. Teach it that only sitting quietly will result in its release – vocalizing will get it nothing.

The next step is the easiest – walk with the pup and let it explore. Let your pup set the pace, but keep it moving with you. If it seems to dawdle too long over some varmint smell, move it along with a verbal cue “hup” (which means “come around”) and walk off in the opposite direction. Keep unnecessary chatter to a minimum so as not to distract the pup away from its work.

When an older or “big running” pup starts paying more attention to its nose than you, let it start dragging the check cord attached to the “D” ring on its collar. A simple step on the end of the cord with a “hup” cue and quick movement away will remind the dog to hunt with you.

As you take your pup on these walks, you will see its instinct to hunt grow. It’s now time to teach pup what to hunt and how to find it.

Happy Trails

Here’s the first exercise to introduce your pup to hunting birds – learning to trail scent. Slice up a hot dog in ¼ inch pieces. Feed a couple to your pup so that it’s familiar with the smell and wants more. Put your pup up for a minute (just so it’s not able to see you) and lay a straight trail ten feet long with slices every foot. The trail should be laid in short grass, into the wind so that the scent of each successive hotdog is blown back in the pup’s face. This layout helps the beginner pup follow the progression of the trail.

Bring the pup to the downwind end of the trail, point at the first slice and cue pup with a word or phrase to begin hunting. “Hunt ‘em up” or “birds in here” are typical verbal cues. Moving down the line, help your pup stay focused by pointing your finger and repeating the verbal cue at each upcoming slice.

When the pup becomes proficient at finding the hotdogs on the verbal cue alone, reverse the trail’s head to upwind. Now the pup has to follow the trail on its own – there’s no wind to help it. Repeat these trailing lines in various locations so that the pup starts to generalize the task of trailing on cue.

The next step of the exercise is to teach the pup to trail birds, transitioning the “prey” from hotdogs to bird scent. Most sporting breed pups are exposed to live birds at an early age to make sure that they revel in the smell, sight and taste of their ultimate prey. If your pup has not been exposed to birds, use a clipped wing pigeon as an introduction. Flip the pigeon across the ground and let the pup go after it. As with the hotdogs, proceed only after your pup has had a taste or two and enjoys chasing it.

Now establish a bird trail by making a drag pole with a four foot stick and equivalent length of string tied to the end. Tether the bird’s feet to the free end of the string. Pick a few feathers from the bird’s rump and place them at the head of your trail. Drag the bird from this point ten or fifteen yards downwind through moderate cover and hide the tethered bird at the desired end. Wear rubber boots and avoid touching surrounding cover with the bird to avoid laying false trails. Bring the pup to the head of the trail and use your verbal cue to hunt.

Once your pup masters straight line trails, add a right angle to the mix. Drag the first leg of your trail into a crosswind, then turn downwind 90 degrees to an end point (your trail will resemble an “L”). This set-up will teach the pup about the strength of scent, how to recover from its loss and follow it to its conclusion.

Quarter Master

So far, you have taught your pup how to find and follow scent to a bird. Your pup is now ready to be taught the next skill – quartering to the gun.

As in your previous training, location is vitally important. Select a long field at least one hundred yards in length with moderate cover, approximately 40 yards across. The orientation of the field should be set to the prevailing wind. The lateral edges should be well defined with heavy cover, i.e. trees, thick brush, high weeds, etc. To set up the field, you’ll need 5 pigeons, each in its own mesh sack (onion sacks are ideal). Proceed into the wind and place the birds just inside the perimeter in a zig-zag pattern, spacing the birds approximately twenty yards apart. This distance will condition the pup to hunt within reasonable gun range.

Bring your pup to the center of the field and walk into the wind towards the first bird, coaxing the pup to follow along. Let the dog find the bird. Praise your pup, set the sack back in place and move diagonally across the field towards the next bird until you’ve worked your way through the pattern at the end of the field. What you will observe is that after a day or two of this exercise, the pup will start running towards the remembered bird locations. When you see this behavior, remove the second and fifth birds and run the pattern again. When the pup doesn’t find a bird at the second location, “hup” him towards the third and so on. This strengthens the dog’s understanding of the quartering pattern and reinforces the meaning of the word “hup”.

Once the pup is running freely to the birds, change your walking pattern and simply move up the middle of the field in a straight line. The dog should start to quarter in front of you looking for the birds. Move to different locations with similar terrain features when the dog masters this scenario. Tip: Each time you change location, remove different birds from the pattern so that the pup always has to hunt. This technique will cause the dog to better conceptualize the task of quartering.

These lessons of discovery will develop a confident hunting partner that knows how to trail wounded game and actively seeks it in an efficient pattern within gun range. Your pup’s first hunts will be much more productive because you introduced it to the wild side.





Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup with Elk Sausage

Looking for an easy meal to make during the week? This slow cooker tortellini soup with elk sausage is perfect for the woman on the go. Thanks to Dannielle Moore for this delicious recipe! Check it out below:

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.29.39 AM

1 pack cheese tortellini 6 cups chicken broth 1 can beer 2 cans diced tomatoes 2 packs cream cheese 1 pack baby spinach 2 tablespoons crushed garlic 2-4 elk or deer Italian sausage Season with chili powder, paprika, crushed peppers Combine ingredients into slow cooker, turn on low, stir a few times and after 4-6 hours enjoy!