Latest Blog Posts
By Gretchen Steele
Now that most hunting seasons have come to close, many of us want to stay in the woods and keep our scouting, tracking, patterning, and stalking skills intact. One of the best ways to do this is to hunt with a camera.
These days, my work as an outdoor communicator finds me hunting with a camera more days than I hunt with a gun or a bow. Rarely a day goes by that I am not in the field, with a pack full of cameras and lenses, my shooting sticks strapped on to use as camera rests. Thanks to the high quality and durability of the Próis line one worry I don’t have is that of durable, well fitting, technical outdoor clothing. Whether I am lying in a snow covered field photographing incoming geese or sweltering in the swamps photographing snakes, salamanders, and wading birds; Próis has me covered. Literally.
Many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts ask me how to improve their wildlife photos. The short simple answer is treat it like hunting. Just like hunting with a firearm or bow, hunting with a camera requires many of the same skills. Whether I am putting a trophy on the wall or an image of that big buck, the process is the same.
Good wildlife photos don’t just happen – it takes time and effort. Here are a few tips to help you improve your wildlife photos.
Scout – Scout, scout and scout some more. You can’t photograph the creatures if you can’t find them. The added advantage to hunting with a camera is that one can access areas that are closed to hunting. Burn the boot leather, and figure out where that flock of turkeys is roosting, when they come down, where they are strutting.
Pattern – Pattern the creatures that you wish to photograph. Learn their habits, watch them long enough to know when and where they usually feed, drink, and bed down. Soon you will know that every evening just before sunset the elk come down out of the trees to a meadow pool to drink and eat sweet fresh grass.
Stalking – Yes, wildlife photographers routinely use long focal length lenses, but often the cost and sheer need for a pack mule to haul around those giant heavy weight lenses makes the need to get close and fill the frame an often utilized skill. Just as a bow hunter needs to close the distance, so does a wildlife photographer. The same methods that you employ as a spot and stalk hunter are exactly what you will use when it is a camera in your hands versus a bow.
Concealment – we all know that concealment is key when hunting. This is no different when hunting with a camera. Thanks to the camouflage patterns offered by Próis I can stay well concealed in a variety of settings. Conceal that camera too. My cameras and lenses have camo covers that keep the glaring white of Canon L series lenses from blinding everything in the neighborhood. My black camera bodies and lenses will stick out like a sore thumb in a snowy cornfield, so again, don’t just camouflage yourself, camo up that camera as well.
Use a blind – Like it or not, just hunkering down in brush pile, the tall grass, or a clump of cedars won’t always work. I’ve spent just as many hours in a blind with a camera (I’m inclined to think more actually) as I have with a bow or gun. Just like a day in the blind hunting, some days I leave with cards full of images, the photographers version of tagging out; sometimes I come home with odd shots of the mouse in the corner, a mockingbird in a nearby tree and way too many of my boots.
Learn to call – Just like calling in the geese, the ducks, the turkeys to get them within in shooting range – I need them to be in camera range. Being able to use a range of different calls effectively will work well to bring the creatures in close. Using calls can also be an aid for enticing the creature to “look at the camera”.
By the time the cute babies from spring have grown into gangly teenagers, and the rest of the hunting community is ramping up for the next season, I have often become part of the landscape to the animals around me. They are accustomed to my scent, they are accustomed to my presence, and in many cases they have come to trust me. One would think I would use this to my advantage as a hunter.
Tempting as it might be, I try to not hunt the areas where the animals trust me the most. That just seems patently unfair. Instead, since I have been out there every day of the off season watching, patterning, and clicking away I still have a pretty good idea of where the best hunting will be.
Do my skills as a hunter make me a better wildlife photographer? Or perhaps my skills as a wildlife photographer make me a better hunter? I say neither – the skill set is essentially the same.
By Twin Biathletes and Prois Pro=Staffers
Tracy and Lanny Barnes
Today Tracy was awarded the United Nations UNESCO Fair Play Award. Since its foundation by UNESCO and a number of international sports governing bodies in Paris in 1963, the goal of the International Committee for Fair Play is the worldwide defense and promotion of fair play. In order to honor and directly recognize the acts of fair play performed either within or outside the sports world, the International Committee for Fair Play annually awards Fair Play Prizes to personalities who have proved to be excellent ambassadors of fair play. Tracy was given the Pierre de Coubertin World Trophy – for an athlete or team for an act of fair play. Pierre de Coubertin was the founder of International Olympic Committee and is consider the father of the modern Olympic Games. This award has been instrumental in promoting sportsmanship both on and off the field. It is a huge honor in sports to receive this award. Very few are given out annually. Here is what Tracy had to say in accepting this award-
“I think sportsmanship, which this award embraces, is a way for people to go beyond the playing field, or the ski course and recognize that there is more to sport than just a win. Sportsmanship is about creating champions, both on and off the field. And while I am not a champion in my sport, I do strive to be a good person and do the right thing. In sport there is winning and there is losing and sometimes in order to win you must lose or at least sacrifice the win. I didn’t go to the Olympics to compete, but I feel I have won. I had the most incredible experience of cheering my twin sister and best friend in the greatest sporting event in the world. And I couldn’t be more proud of her effort. In biathlon Lanny was not only my best friend, but my greatest competitor. And I’ve come to realize over the years that without your competition there is no sport. You have to show the same kind of respect to your competitors that you do to your teammates. That’s what makes you a good competitor both in life and in sport. I hope that my story will help to inspire people to do something good for the people they care about. Their friends, their family, their teammates, their competitors and their neighbors.
I for one have been surrounded by incredibly inspiring people my entire life and I have to say that their selflessness has rubbed off on me. Both my grandparents were in the army and air force and served their country. Our men and women in uniform are the ones who make the ultimate sacrifice, sometimes with their life so that we can enjoy our freedoms. Both my parents were school teachers and their selfless dedication to their students and that of all teachers continues to inspire me. And my older sister is a doctor and surgeon. Her dedication to helping others is a model I will continue to strive for in my life. So, if I may, I’d like to dedicate this to my family who have supported me and given me a purpose to live by and also to our men & women in uniform, our teachers, and our doctors who work to selflessly help others on a daily basis. May we all strive to dedicate ourselves to others so that we may enrich each others lives in sport and otherwise.
Thanks for seeing something in me that I may never have had the opportunity to see myself. Thanks to the International Fair Play Committee for this incredible honor and thank you to the US Olympic Committee for being such wonderful hosts.”
The Olympics officially start just 4 days from now and I am on the ground in Sochi training at the Laura Biathlon venue that we will compete on in the Olympics. This venue is the largest biathlon venue in the world and is supposed to hold over 80,000 people in the stadium and on course. We had our first training on the venue and our race course yesterday and I have to honestly say I love it!!
We concluded our final training camp in Antholz, Italy and headed to Munich, Germany which would be the staging point for our team processing and our charter flight to Sochi. Our team processing consisted of checking in with the US Olympic Committee, getting our visa’s, our phones for Russia, all our team clothing such as opening and closing ceremonies and medals ceremonies clothing, doing interviews, and taking team and individual photos. A lot of Olympian describe the team processing as shopping without a credit card. You usually leave with more bags and gear than you can cary.
The next morning early, we boarded our charter flight to Sochi. Our flight consisted of the entire Biathlon team, as well as some members of the Luge, cross country, figure skating and Freeskiing teams. It was a fun flight that made it into Sochi only 3 hours after we took off. As soon as we landed we grabbed our mountain of gear (minus our rifles that went straight to the venue) and headed through several security and accreditation checks before taking the 1 hr bus ride to the base of the mountains. There was a definite security presence everywhere that made us all feel really safe. Sochi is a tropical city, so there was no snow and plenty of palm trees. Once we hit the base of the mountains, we took a gondola up the mountain and hoped on another bus that brought us to our athletes village. After running around organizing gear and checking into our cabins and few meetings later we hit the sack after a really long day of travel.
The next day we woke up to the most beautiful 360 degree view of the Caucasus mountains. It definitely one of the coolest athletes villages and venues I’ve ever been too. All of our races are in the evening, so most of our main trainings are in the afternoon or evening. So we took the morning to check in our rifles which were locked in a secure facility at the venue and will remain that way until we leave, we will have access to them for training, cleaning, and dryfiring. This is normal for all Olympic games.
Our training on the venue couldn’t have been any better. We trained mid after noon and had blue bird skies and rock hard ski tracks. The course was a lot of fun too with some slalom type downhills and steep uphills on the 3km loop. The shooting range sits in front of a gigantic stadium that is boasted to hold over 80,000 spectators both in the stands and out on course. With the stands sitting less than 100 meters behind the range, there will definitely be some intense cheering during the shooting.
The Olympics officially kick off on Friday and the women’s first race is Sunday. We won’t find out what races we do until later in the week, so once I hear, I will send you the schedule of events I’m in. Please check out our facebook page Twin Biathletes as well as our website for updates and pictures. Thanks for all your support and help in making this dream possible. Can’t wait for the races to start!! Have a great week.
Kilimanjaro is a name that evokes an array of images and emotions. For Judge Julie Mogenis it called to her with the lure of the challenge, but even more so, it was the individual perseverance and emotional growth that became the pinnacle of her journey.
On September 1, 2013 at 7:01 AM a dream was realized when Judge Julie Mogenis reached the roof of Africa and summated Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Julie wasn’t alone on this epic journey; the expert and knowledgeable staff of Ultimate Kilimanjaro guided the way and she had lots of support in both spirit and sponsorship from the Prois performance camo gear she sported to the Garmin Fenix watch she depended on for everything from accurate health data, altitude, temperature… to time.
Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa rises above the jungle and beckons seductively to those who have come to take up the challenge. While there are many ways to experience the mountain on a range of levels for all who come, only a few pass the test of reaching the summit. Julie is one of those that took up the challenge and triumphed. Julie undertook the Kilimanjaro climb after nearly a year of health setbacks, culminating, just months before the climb, in a pelvic surgery on the area where she had previously been injured in a hunting accident. Like many of us she realized that she had no warranty on her parts and believed that “with the clock ticking” she needed to get this personal test accomplished and out-run any other health issues time is sure to present.
The highest freestanding mountain in the world, closest landmass to the sun Kilimanjaro is steeped in myth and legend. The third highest mountain in the world, measuring in at a breathtaking 19,741 feet at the summit the glacial peak and extreme cold seem paradoxical considering its proximity to the equator. These are some of the things that have earned this Tanzanian jewel the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
Julie’s trek began on the northern approach, slightly off the beaten path and considered more difficult by many. The ascent took the climbers through the full spectrum of climatic zones at about 5900 feet there exists a lush rainforest zone, teaming with wildlife including monkeys, duikers, bushbuck, leopards and lions…at 13,000 feet the low alpine zone starts and with it began some of the altitude challenges that plagued Julie and the crew…from nausea, confusion, lightheadedness to blinding headaches. The climbers resorted to playing nonsensical childhood games to keep their minds occupied and off the symptoms or the altitude. There is no way to know who it will affect and how badly. The air is increasingly thin, and cooler; land uncultivated and covered with alpine flowers, despite the elevation elephants, leopards and capes can sometimes still be spotted. At 16,000 feet the low alpine finally gives way to alpine desert, the location for the base camp in preparation for the final ascent by Julie, which began in the night, climbing in darkness in order to reach the peak at sunrise. The desert region is dry, desolate and extreme-freezing temperatures despite the strong, unfiltered sunlight. No plants or wildlife here, the acetic zone is devoid of any life save those only passing through on their deliberate trek to the top.
The descent seemed almost a breeze to the trio with a well deserved reward of fishing the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar to try out gear from Bass Pro Shops. Julie later went on a photo safari and birding with Zeiss in the Selous which resulted in some surprising adventures all their own.
Julie admits that this trek has taken some additional physical toll but the trade was worth the experience. Now she is ready to write that book, share stories of her soulful journey along with many humorous and inspirational anecdotes. In the future she envisions a possible return to Kili with a crew of folks wanting to test their limits and fill in their “Life to-do list.”
With thanks to all the sponsors and friends involved: Prois, Zeiss Optics, SOG, Bass Pro Shops, Garmin, Midland, Revision Eye Wear, Ultimate Kilimanjaro, Mike Killer, Jeff Abrams and SeeMeHunt.com
For the full story on Julie Mogenis and the Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Adventure contact info@worldwildadventures
#JudgetheMoment #BeEpic #badasserydefined #prois #proiswasthere
Hunting…What’s it All About?
By Kathleen Lynch
It was brought to mind by an acquaintance in his telling of the 7 point, record book bull elk he had just shot in Idaho, “A special deal” he says…that hunters love to tell stories about the trophies they get, that big is best when it comes to hunting. But where are the stories about those hard sought and not got ones? How many hunters ever get the opportunity to shoot a trophy, or have had an opportunity and were unable to capitalize on it? What do we take home fom those hunts?
This thought process reminded me of a dog-eared page in a book by a great hunter and conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt. “Plenty of good shots become disgusted if they don’t see a deer early in the morning and go home; still more, if they do not see one in two or three days. Others will go on hunting, but become careless, stumble and step on dried sticks, and let their eyes fall to the ground. It is a good test of a man’s resolution to see if, at the end of a long and unsuccessful tramp after deer, he moves just as carefully, and keeps just as sharp a lookout as he did at the beginning. If he does this, and exercises a little common sense, in still-hunting, as in every thing else, common sense is the most necessary of qualities, he may be sure that his reward will come some day; and when it does come, he feels a gratification that only his fellow sportsmen can understand.”
I have experienced that overwhelming gratification many times in my 35 years of hunting… it is the epitome of any hunt but on my last buck hunt in Nevada the tears came not upon my giving thanks to the deer gods for an animal sacrificed but in the truck after leaving the trailhead because the hunt was over.
The rain was finally coming the last of the sun’s rays breaking through the blackening clouds to spotlight the foothills of the Ruby Mountains, the musty smell of sage, horse sweat and dust permeated my clothes. I had just spent 14 days in a drop camp next to a pristine, trout infested lake nestled against the steep rocky peaks of the Ruby Crest, 8 miles from any roads. The hike to the top of the mountain from camp in the early morning darkness was a heart throbbing 26 switchbacks as Himalayan snowcocks whistled their morning tune. Every day out was a test of physical endurance energized by the will to see more country, more wildlife and a bigger buck! I had been that hunter, who was looking for something special. I had passed on several close up shots at forked horns and had taken shots earlier in the hunt at a couple of better bucks and missed.
On the last day of the season as I was slowly hunting my way back to camp disappointed in myself for having my hopes of bagging a buck again dashed by another missed shot early in the morning I spotted a trophy muley across a canyon at rangefinder distance.. 390 yards. In a blustery crosswind with no place for a solid gun rest, I watched as he walked away. Not willing to give up I crept down the canyon to get closer to where I last saw him…knowing that he was up against a rock cliff and that there was always a chance that he may come out in the last fading moments of the day. I waited, shivering in the stinging cold wind for hours my hope fading with each moment of the lowering sun.
I believe that there is a reason for everything and the reason I missed those other bucks was so that I would have the opportunity for that big buck encounter. My reward for the hunt did not terminate in a trophy nor a buck but my reward came from being witness to a part of nature that few have the opportunity to see. That was my reward for this hunt that and the peace, stillness (Tilyoweh), natural beauty and wildlife that I always experience while hunting…and someday when I am able to capitalize on another opportunity for a buck the gratification I will feel will be GREAT, trophy or not! Another hunting lesson learned, never give up!
Webster’s defines hunting as simply “the pursuit of game”…the pursuit is what hunting is all about, use common sense, be resolute and someday that indescribable gratification will be the reward!
By Shannon Rasmussen
Saturday morning we woke to a fresh blanket of snow and temps in the teens. We gathered all of our warm hunting gear and headed to the mountain. You see, Saturday was a very special day for our family. Our middle son Mason had just turned 12 last week, which is the legal age in Idaho to hunt big game. Mason had drawn a late rifle cow tag, and Saturday was the first day that he could hunt. It was a slow drive as the roads were ice packed, but eventually we made it to the hunt unit. We drove and glassed, glassed and drove. We weren’t seeing many tracks, and after a lot of glassing still weren’t seeing many elk. After a few hours we were about to head home for the day when we cut a set of fresh cow tracks crossing the road. We drove up the road a bit so that we could glass back towards where the tracks were headed. Sure enough there were four cows feeding across the snowy hillside. We decided that we would make a stock on them by coming up and over the hill above them. We drove around the other side of the hill, parked, and started the steep, slick hike to the top of the hill. The snow was crunchy and slippery, and there was a lot of thick brush that we had to make our way through. Eventually we topped out, and very cautiously and as quietly as we could be under the circumstances, started glassing the area where the elk had been. There was no sign of them, so we decided to climb up and side hill to see if we could cut there tracks in the snow and get on them again. As we started to hike all of a sudden my husband Shane whispered “Right there!!”. To our right a cow had jumped up out of the brush and was trotting away. Shane got Mason set up for a shot, and as the cow was about to disappear over the hill and out of sight, Shane blew a cow call. She stopped about 200 yards away. We whispered to Mason to be calm, make sure he was good and steady, and to squeeze the trigger when ready. Boom! We could see the impact of the bullet hit the cow. She swayed and started to slowly tumble forward. Mason shot again and she fell to the ground, sliding down the hill, coming to rest next to a bush. High fives and tears all around! Mason was so excited and Shane and I were so proud! This young man had harvested his first big game animal, and performed like a pro! I cannot think of a better way to have spent a Saturday in December with my family.
I overheard someone scoff at the fact I was excited and sharing pictures of the doe I harvested the morning of opening day. For just a short moment I thought, geez, maybe it is a little childish. I mean, I shot the first dear that walked out. Most people it seems only brag about the biggest bucks and if they shoot a doe, aren’t proud and even act embarrassed to admit. Or sometimes, if it’s not a huge buck, they give some sort of excuse why they took it like they are having to defend themselves.
But then I realized that I really don’t care what they think. I don’t. I don’t have land of my own to hunt, I am blessed with the occasional invite from friends or when we travel out of state to visit my in-laws, we have very little time to hunt there. My number one goal is to fill my freezer with venison. One deer usually lasts most of the year for our small family. We save the loins and a couple of roasts to use for other things but other than that, we grind most of it up and use it with anything that calls for ground meat.
So HELL YEAH I’m proud of that doe. I’m proud of the fact that I just provided my family with many nights of good clean meat to eat. Not to mention I didn’t exactly sit in a warm cozy permanent stand to hunt by a feeder. (I have and would if I could again- so no judging on this end), but sometimes the harder you work or more you commit, the greater the value of the reward. In my case, it is a doe. She walked out of the woods, turned and started to walk back in so I took the shot.
With that one shot, the pressure of filling our freezer is off. I am now very comfortable with waiting for a buck if I choose to. But I would also be proud to shoot another doe. Either way, it means more meat to share with friends and family. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?