ELK HUNTING WITH A TWIST! A BLOG BY TRACY BARNES

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.

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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.

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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…

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

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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…..

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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.

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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…

 

Diapers/Wipes

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

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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 www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qo-La-zkPY) 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

HUNTER REBECCA FRANCIS HAS A THING OR TWO TO TEACH US ABOUT THE WILD

by Kerry Howley, New York Magazine

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.34.35 PM PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Shoul

 

In an age of social-media shaming, a single tweet can launch a crusade. But maybe Ricky Gervais should have picked another woman to mess with.

Note: The July 27 issue of New York Magazine, in which this story originally appeared, went to press on Friday July 24, three days before American dentist Walter Palmer was identified as the killer of a lion in Zimbabwe.

Palmer’s case and that of Rebecca Francis are both stories of social media outrage spurred by the killing of an African animal for sport, though the two hunters came to public consciousness for different reasons. While it is not at all unusual for wealthy American men to travel to Africa, hunt big game for big money, and post pictures of their kills, the lion Palmer shot was known to some as a mascot for Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and star of a widely disseminated video. Additionally, Cecil seems to have been lured off protected land, making Palmer, knowingly or otherwise, not a legal hunter, but a poacher. 

Rebecca Francis drew attention not only because of what she had killed, but for who she was: a woman, subject to the same outrage as several who had come before her, such as Kendall Jones, Melissa Bachman, and Jen Cordaro. There was never any question about the legality of Francis’s hunts. Trophy hunters have a bad habit of conflating the legal and the moral (“I hunt. It’s legal. Get over it,” read T-shirts American college student Kendall Jones printed up after she was criticized for killing an African lion.) But there are important distinctions between legal hunting—which exists within a system of regulatory control, wherein permits can be meted out or held back according to the rise and fall populations, and wherein the financial interests of game ranchers is tied to the furtherance of the species—and poaching. Poachers are free riders and indisputably a threat to the long-term survival of large mammals in Africa. That Francis herself has shot a lion under legal sanction does not morally justify the kill, but it does position her within a system of trade that depends, for its own survival, on the conservation of big game. The story of legal trophy hunting involves the comeback of various species in South Africa, the conservation of rare and expensive-to-maintain animals under attack from poachers, mutant animals designed for the evolving tastes of American and European hunters, and the development of the legal market that led to Cecil’s illegal death. It is a story more complex, and ultimately uncomfortable, than the simple savagery of poaching.

Asked about her opinion of Palmer, Rebecca Francis had this to say: “A true hunter will always abide by the laws of the lands, along with the moral laws that are instilled within. Hunters believe in ethical and fair-chase hunting. We unequivocally do not support poaching or any other illegal acts.” —K.H.

CONTINUE READING

 

 

How To Get Started Hunting

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By Prois Staffer Andrea Haas

So you think you would like to get into hunting but don’t know where to start? Whether hunting is completely new to you or you grew up in a family of hunters, knowing how to begin can seem a little overwhelming at first. The good news is there are plenty of people and resources out there that can help you if you are willing to do a little research and put in some work.

Getting Started – Hunter’s Safety Course

Getting the right introduction to hunting is important. A good way to start is by finding your state’s wildlife agency and finding a hunter’s safety course. Here is a great online resource from The National Shooting Sports Foundation with hunting information for each state. You can find your state, get direct links to your state’s Conservation Department, hunting regulations and more. You can also take the test online through Hunter-Ed

Next Step – Apprentice Hunter Program

Even if you do pass your hunter’s safety course, become certified and buy your hunting license, it’s still a good idea to go hunting with someone else first. If you choose not to go through a hunter-ed course until you are positive that hunting is for you, most states offer an “Apprentice Hunter Program”. This means you can purchase a hunting permit and legally harvest an animal in the presence of someone who is hunter-ed certified. For example, I live in Missouri. Missouri allows you to do this for 2 years. After 2 years you must become hunter-ed certified in order to continue hunting & harvesting animals. 

Safety First

Most people begin by hunting with a firearm. While I encourage everyone to take up bow hunting, it’s not something that I recommend doing the first year you hunt. Before you handle a gun, make sure you are familiar with the NRA gun safety rules. Even if you’ve been hunting for years, it’s still a good idea to review these rules from time to time. Another great resource for all things women hunters/shooters is the NRA Women’s Network! They have weekly episodes that are fun & informative:

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Practice With Purpose

To me, this is one of the most important steps to take in becoming a hunter. You must take into consideration that you are shooting a live animal. Strive to make the best, most ethical shot possible so the animal does not suffer long and so you can save as much of the meat as possible. With that being said, find a place where you can shoot, get out there and start practicing! We have about 200 acres of private land outside of the city limits where we can practice shooting. Private land is not available to everyone though, so if not try finding a gun range near you. Here is another great resource from the National Shooting Sports Foundation to help you find shooting ranges in your area.

Choosing Your Gun & Ammo

It’s not necessary at first to rush out & buy your own gun. When I first started hunting, I borrowed a family member’s rifle, practiced and hunted with that. Making sure you select the right gun is more important. Make sure you are comfortable with the gun and select the right type of gun & ammo for the game that you wish to hunt. The “Love at First Shot” episodes at NRA Women’s Network are an excellent resource on how to choose a rifle & the proper ammo: 

Love at First Shot: Rifles

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Love at First Shot: Ammo

Study Up – Learn About the Animals

Learn as much as you can about the animals you want to hunt. Study about their feeding habits, their senses (sight, smell, etc), and breeding seasons so you can be as prepared as possible for your first hunt. There are multiple organizations out there that have endless information about game animals and their behaviors such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Deer and Deer Hunting, Mule Deer Foundation and many many more. 

Learn The Area / Pattern the Animals

If you’re able to, get out and scout the area you plan to be hunting before season starts. Start by becoming familiar with the land and your surroundings. Always tell someone where you will be and take your cell phone with you if possible.  Check for signs of the animal you’ll be hunting and scout out good areas to put a tree stand or ground blind to hunt out of. Set up some game cameras near known trails and food & water sources so you know more about the animal’s activity & patterns. Here is a great blog from Dale Evans at EvoOutdoors about scouting new land. 

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Gear & Apparel

While it may not be necessary to purchase your own rifle at first, I do recommend investing in some of your own hunting gear, equipment & apparel. 

Some basic items you’ll probably want to purchase:

-A good quality, sharp knife

-Rifle Sling

-Hunting fanny pack or backpack

-Scent Control Products, (depending on the type of game you are hunting)

-For women, I recommend Her Non Scents scent free shampoo, conditioner & body wash

-Hunting Boots

-Hunting Socks

-A good moisture wicking pair, try FirstLite & Minus33 brands at www.EvoOutdoors.com

-Gloves

-Camo clothing

-The type of clothing you pick depends on where you will be hunting, what season it is & the

type of animal you’ll be hunting. 

-Prois has a line of women’s hunting apparel that meets the needs for any type of hunt you

will be going on, whitetail, turkey, upland, etc. They even have a new safari line for 2015!

-If you need help picking the right apparel for your hunt, EvoOutdoors Camo Concierge is a great option!

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Resources

Make sure you do your part to learn as much as you can before you go hunting. I began by going on a whitetail hunt with my husband one year & watching him harvest a buck. I practiced a lot and asked him as many questions as I could until the following deer season. I went out by myself one afternoon and shot my very first deer, a nice 8 point. I observed him hunting first, practiced and asked questions. By taking what I learned from that and applying it to my own hunt, I was able to successfully harvest an animal on my own. Not everyone has a family member or a friend to learn from though. Here are a lot of great websites, blogs and other resources to help you out!

Women Hunters:

Huntress View

EvoOutdoors

Prois

NRA Women

Women’s Outdoor News

Girl’s Guide To Guns

Youth Hunters:

Student Outdoor Experience

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Enjoy!

Most important, second to safety of course, is to enjoy yourself! Hunting is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy the peace & quiet of nature, and just relax. Observe wild animals in their natural habitats. You will learn something new each time you go out! Not only that, you will gain a deeper appreciation for wildlife and for the food that you eat, knowing that you are providing yourself & your family with healthier, organic meat, free from steroids & preservatives. Get out there & do some grocery shopping!

Brittany Boddington Joins the Prois Pro Staff Team!

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Please join us in welcoming the amazing Brittany Boddington to the Prois Pro-Staff Team!! Brittany’s mother Donna Boddington is already on staff and we are so proud to welcome Brittany as well this year. We are all about collecting Boddingtons.

A California native, Brittany is no stranger to Television or big game hunting. Brittany Boddington grew up in Los Angeles. Her father, author and outdoor television personality Craig Boddington, traveled around the world in search of big game animals; instilling in Brittany a sense of adventure. While he was away, Brittany was busy working in the film and modeling industry as well as doing volunteer work at the local animal shelters. Her competitive nature and tenacity enabled her to reach the Junior Olympics in Synchronized swimming at age 16.

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Brittany’s hunting career began after high school when, as a graduation gift, she went on her first safari with her father, taking five trophy animals. She now spends most of the year happily living out of a suitcase in pursuit of exotic animals and exciting adventures. She writes for several notable outdoor publications including Peterson’s Hunting Magazine, Sports A’field, Wild Deer Magazine and Gun’s and Ammo. She was honored as the first woman to ever appear on the cover of Petersons Hunting Magazine and she was also featured in the book “The Diana Files” by Fiona Clair Capstick. With her father Craig’s help Brittany has discovered a love for the great outdoors and has become a passionate hunter and conservationist. She aspires to follow in her father’s footsteps while cutting some new trails of her own.

Megan DeHaan’s Gorgeous Non-Typical Archery Buck!!

By Prois Hunt Staffer Megan DeHaan

 

Who woulda thunk….. A few days after I send in my Prois Award entry with a story about this buck I haven’t arrowed yet…..I GOT HIM!!

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I had pictures of this buck in our game camera several times before season. I had him patterned, everything was good to go. My husband even saw him opening day and passed knowing that I really wanted to shoot him. The next day I saw him but he never gave me an opportunity to shoot. There was either a tree in front of his vitals or he was quartering too me. I kept trying and after that day he vanished and I thought he would never show up. I went out several times and never found him again, until last night! I can thank my son, who as I left gave me a sticker to wear and said it was good luck. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I had a nice four point come in and I was going to set up to shoot and out of the corner of my eye MY BUCK!!!! My adrenaline was already pumping, I knew the deer were kinda jumpy that night so I didn’t hesitate, I drew back, he walked away a bit, stood behind some trees, it seemed to take forever but finally about a minute after I drew back, he stopped broadside. THWAP!! He jumped, ran to the middle of the field, started getting top-heavy, and stood there. I knew it was a good shot.  I waited and waited to make sure to give him time and it ended up getting too dark to see so I pulled out of there for safe measure. I went back about 30 minutes later and he went about 20 more yards and had died. I GOT HIM!!!!! I’m so elated. As you can see he has an extra split sort of main beam. He sticks out like a sore thumb, so unique I couldn’t pass him up! Thank you PROIS for such Badass camouflage!!!!!! He couldn’t see a thing!!!

Bowfishing Association of America’s (BAA) World Championship

By Prois Staffer Gretchen Steele

Hundreds of bowfishers, and a total of 72 boats descended on Aurora, Kentucky for a record setting Bowfishing Association of America’s (BAA) World Championship tournament, and Prois was there!

A summer spent bowfishing almost daily, participating in other smaller tournaments, culminated in a great weekend in Aurora, Kentucky at “The Worlds” .

Team Back-N-Black at the BAA World Championships

Team Back-N-Black at the BAA World Championships

Said BAA Points/Sanctioning Chairman Amanda Nichols, “Kentucky always has the biggest turnout for the World’s, but this year was the record year so far for turnout for any of the World’s tourneys. This is the biggest World’s to date and we would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in the 2014 BAA World Championship. Without all of the bowfishermen and the supporters we couldn’t have done it. Big thanks to Marshall County for all the support and donations towards this event. ”

 

Teammate Amy Pease checking her bow pre tournament

Teammate Amy Pease checking her bow pre tournament

The BAA’s World championship Tournament brings the best of the best bowfishers from across the country to compete for 14,000 dollars in prize money. The first place winning teams in the Big 20 Division and Numbers Division both went home 3,000 dollars richer and payouts were also made to those in the top five slots.

 

But “The World’s” as it is referred to by bowfishers is much more than just another tournament, and just another purse. It’s a full blown weekend event that gives bowfishers from across the country a weekend together filled with friendship, fellowship and fun. For many it is the one event of the year where all of their bowfishing buddies are in one place.

 

 So thrilled to receive my flopper stopper from "The Shot"

So thrilled to receive my flopper stopper from “The Shot”

As it was close to my birthday, several bowfishing pals brought good luck/ birthday gifts, including a most special gift from bowfishing icon “The Shot” Willett. Shot, as he is known on the tournament circuit and in the bowfishing community, presented me with my own “Wild Woman Flopper Stopper” Receiving a flopper stopper from shot is true sign that one has arrived so to speak in the bowfishing world. My team mate and fellow badass Amy made sure that I had my traditional “ducky” pre tournament good luck present and few things to celebrate our participation in the prestigious worlds. Seriously, doesn’t everyone bowfish in a camo feather boa????

 

Photo Courtesy of Amy Pease

Photo Courtesy of Amy Pease

For the communities that that host the World’s it’s a huge influx to the local economy. “It’s hard dispute what we bring in, when that guy with the truck and airboat walks into to your gas station and slaps 4 hundred dollar bills down just for fuel. “ Said Mark Lee, President of BAA. Lee further pointed out the economic benefits to the community in dollars spent on lodging, meals, and trips to local shops for last minute items. Additionally local civic groups can help fill their organizations coffers by providing food, drinks, etc. at the tournament site.

At this year’s Worlds the Aurora Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary were kept hopping serving up food both before and after the tournament. “We are just thrilled to have the bowfishers in Aurora – we had the Kentucky State Shoot here earlier this year and we loved every minute of it. We couldn’t wait for the Worlds to get here. Our small community is suffering, just like so many, and the bowfishers bring us so much! “Said a representative from the ladies auxiliary.

Weigh in went smoothly by utilizing three stations

Weigh in went smoothly by utilizing three stations

That sentiment was echoed by Tammy Nanney from nearby KenLake State Park Resort where “all those big bowfishing boats” were the talk of the resort guests and staff. Nanney pointed out that bowfishing at Kentucky Lakes is excellent, sporting some of the largest big head carp in the Midwest, and the myriad of available Kentucky Parks lodging options from camping to cottages to resort level are always welcoming to those who plan a bowfishing vacation at Kentucky Lakes.

The tournament was truly a community affair, with many from Kentucky Lakes area coming out to talk with bowfishers, ogle the boats and equipment on display and to watch well-orchestrated take off of 72 boats.

Chatting with one of bowfishing’s young stars, Kenzie Taylor and complimenting her on the way she represents bowfishing and sets such a great example for young women bowfishers.

Chatting with one of bowfishing’s young stars, Kenzie Taylor and complimenting her on the way she represents bowfishing and sets such a great example for young women bowfishers.

Companies and industries affiliated with the bowfishing community also recognize the importance of the World’s as a premier bowfishing event and provided excellent in kind and monetary support. For instance, PowerTran donated a full system as a prize in a side competition sponsored by their company.

This year’s successful BAA World Championship proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that bowfishing has arrived as a legitimate outdoor sport and is no longer considered fringe, redneck, or a bunch of goofballs with bows chasing fish in the dead of night. It requires specialized equipment, specialized skills, and is a great conservation tool for the removal of injurious and invasive species.

Prois was there all weekend!

By Christy Turner

 

wWhat an amazing weekend I had with Becky Lou Lacock two weekends ago at the Priefert Ranch in Mount Pleasant Texas. Our days were relaxing hanging out at the ranch watching Chloe ride the 4 wheeler and watching her ride the mare named Buttercup.

We got to meet the world’s largest horse named Radar who is over 19 hands, he was an amazing sight. We also got to meet world famous Australian, Guy McLean. He is an International Horseman, Entertainer and Poet. In between the laughing and cutting up we got serious in the mornings and evenings to try and get eleven year old Chloe from Tennessee her first Texas Hog. We had some pictures on a game camera, stumbled upon some Hog hair on the trail and had a real close encounter on the ground with them Friday evening.

The Hogs were right there, I could even smell them and Becky Lou almost got ate but I was watching her back. Our time ran out before Chloe could bag her first Hog but we made a lot of good memories and hope to try again someday soon.  Our gracious host was Travis Priefert, the Grandson of Marvin Priefert who was the founder of the family owned and operated Priefert Manufacturing. You need to check out their web site at www.priefert.com and read, about the family. This hardworking family lives the American dream because they refused to give up even when times were tough they said. I admire each and every one ofthem and respect how humble and honest they all are. Also watch for their new reality-based hunting tv show called “The Prieferts” on the Sportsman Channel. The premiere will air July 3rd 9:30C. This is going to be a must see, I can’t wait!

 

Fear not Christy Turner bagged herself a hog last weekend while hunting and fishing with fellow Prois gal Stacy Sissney and family !

 

 

Giving Back

The crazy wrangling team

By Nancy Rodriguez

Opening day of the spring turkey season was very different than my usual turkey hunt.  Instead of sitting patiently waiting for a turkey to strut by, I was in the middle of an amazing elk capture/relocation. My husband, Joe and I were honored to be invited to participate at a Tule Elk capture in central California, by our friend Joe Hobbs.   Joe Hobbs is a senior environmental scientist that works for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He also happens to be the California elk coordinator.

 

California is home to three subspecies of elk: Roosevelt elk, Rocky Mountain Elk, and the very special Tule Elk. Tule Elk are only found in my home state of California.  The Tule Elk in California were once close to extinction. In the mid 1870’s there were reports that fewer than 30 elk remained in a single herd near Bakersfield, Ca. A cattle rancher named Henry Miller preserved this last group of elk that he discovered on his ranch in 1874. Experts believe the elk were pushed to the brink of extinction from loss of habitat, market hunting, and displacement from cattle. Thanks to Henry Miller and others that followed suit by 1970’s the Tule Elk population had grown to around 500 animals. Over the years with improved management, the help of wildlife organizations and conservation agencies like RMEF, Tule Elk numbers have steadily increased.   Today California has over 4000 Tule Elk in 22 distinct herds!

Sunrise in Tule Elk Country

 

Joe and I arrived on Friday afternoon at the San Luis Wildlife Refuge for our mandatory safety meeting. We met with approximately 70 employees from California Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife services, along with veterinarians, andnthe helicopter capture crew. Joe Hobbs conducted the orientation meeting, assigning everyone a specific job. We all broke into groups to become familiar with our upcoming rolls. Joe and I were assigned to the trailer chutes. We rotated with another team manning the chute gates as the elk were herded into the trailers for transport.  6:30 am Saturday morning couldn’t come soon enough. We arrived at base camp full of adrenaline and excitement. The teams quickly dispersed into their designated areas. The teams consisted of: The helicopter crew, the ground transportation teams, the processing teams, the wranglers, and the relocation team. Each group showed amazing team work.

Leading Edge Aviation Team

The first team up was the helicopter crew, Leading Edge Aviation. They are a team of four dedicated wildlife capturers. The pilot’s job is to bring the chopper down over an elk to net gun level. Then one of the gunners hangs out of the chopper, aims the net gun over an elk and fires the net for capture.

Helicopter net gunning an elk

Once the elk is in the net, the chopper drops to a low hover, a team member jumps out and immediately blindfolds and hobbles the elk for transport. The pilot radios the closest ground team for pick up. These guys are fast!  On arrival the ground teams quickly lift the netted elk onto litters. They safely transport the elk on the back of Gators or trailers to the processing station.

Joe doing his job of blindfolding and Nancy posing

The elk are strapped to the litters for safe travel.  The next team is the processing team. There were 5 tents set up to process the elk as quickly as possible. They consisted of Ca. Fish & Wildlife employees, US Fish & Wildlife, and veterinarians to collect samples and data on the elk. First the elk are weighed and then carried to a tent station.

Checking weight

There the team would draw blood, check general health, place ear tags, and radio collars for future research.

Processing team taking blood samples

The entire time the elk’s temperature was monitored closely and cool water and ice packs were applied to maintain the animals temperature if necessary.

Processing team cooling the elk with cold water

Once the research teams finished their jobs, the elk were carried to the corral to be persuaded into the trailers.  The corral is what I called the “elk wrangling station”.   This station consisted of a metal pipe corral about the size of a small garage with two chutes that led into the trailers. The pipe fencing was covered in black burlap, so the elk would stay calm.

The wranglers stand ready in the corral

The ground crew would carry the elk on the litter into the corral. They would safely tip the litter to lay the elk on the ground. The elk wranglers would then remove the hobbles and blindfolds as quickly as possible. Next they would use bucking boards to persuade the elk up the trailer chutes. Joe and I would nudge the elk up the chutes and close the gates behind them as fast as we could, as they entered the trailers.

Nancy ready with a bucking board

On the second day, Joe and I we’re invited into the corral to help with “wrangling”. Joe removed the blindfolds and I helped out with the bucking boards.  The final stage and the most amazing part of the capture was yet to come. Joe and I were able to go to the grand finale… the release! We had two trucks and blacked out trailers full of elk, followed by a safety vehicle.

Ready for the ride to a new home!

After a 2 ½ hours drive, we arrived at the elk’s new home. We pulled into the wildlife area full of hope. As we opened the trailer doors and stepped back, each elk curiously stepped out of the trailer and safely trotted off  into their new home. Watching them run off, I was completely speechless!  We had just been a part of one amazing adventure.

Freedom!

We had helped with the California Tule Elk re-population, conservation, and management process.  All in all, the teams safely captured and relocated 36 Tule Elk to three different locations in California. California is lucky to have Joe Hobbs as the elk coordinator. He ran a safe, seamless, and upbeat elk capture. With people like him, Fish and Wildlife agencies, and conservation groups like RMEF, we can keep supporting our once nearly extinct Tule Elk.

This experience was one we will never forget. Not only did we have a great time comingface to face with Tule Elk, but we met some amazing people!